Voila, the reason that I haven't worked on my other stories lately, I totally fell in love with the Darkest Powers books. I loved Kelley Armstrong as a writer even before these, she's just so fearless and gritty, but these books in particular I think are just awesome. Chloe and Derek are definitely the best young romantic interest item I have read, possibly the best hopefully couple period.
I took the liberty of pretending that all the characters are a year older than they are in the books, same time succession and everything, just with them a year older. Fifteen is too young for me to wrap my head around! I also moved the seasons around a little bit, in the second book I think they're getting near summer, in this they're just hitting winter.
Also, it's written in first person because that's how Kelley Armstrong wrote the books. A little weird for me as I usually use third person perspective but I think I've gotten the hang of it. Anyway, please read and review but most importantly enjoy!
What Binds Them
I opened my eyes slowly, watching the fuzzy early-morning shapes resolve into something more recognizable. The comforter was a familiar bulky weight, wrapping me up like my own personal cloud. It was white, it matched my white bed, white pajamas, white walls and furniture. Nothing black in the room or within eyesight.
Act one, scene one. Chloe the necromancer runs from her identity by pretending dark things didn't exist. I'd even had a night light put in, a source of merciless mockery from Tori.
The truth was; I was afraid of the dark. The dark meant that things could creep up on you, crawl on you like zombies and corpses with tortured souls shoved back in them. Souls that Iaccidentally summoned, torture that I inflicted, and it was hard to explain to a panicked soul trapped in its rotting corpse that you made a mistake.
Just a few short weeks ago I was a normal, boring, completely one hundred percent average teenage girl anxiously awaiting her period. When I finally passed the threshold into womanhood I also was indoctrinated into the world of necromancy. Oh yes, bleed on myself and then start seeing ghosts, THEN get diagnosed as schizophrenic and sent to a group home for effed up teens. Or supernatural teens. Either way an all-around bad day. It took barely a week before a werewolf, sorcerer, sorceress, half-demon and yours truly escaped from Lyle house. Only to be betrayed by Rae, who I thought was my friend, but now I just wasn't sure. I know Rae didn't really understand how evil The Edison was, but it still stung.
I resigned myself to the morning, I had been going to bed at nightfall and waking at sunrise for the past three weeks. Avoiding everything dark about and around myself. I stretched and changed from a white tank top and jammie pants to blue jeans so faded they looked white and a flannel shirt. Lately even flannel was too dark for my tastes but it was chilly in the safe-house, drafty and gothic as it was. I pulled thick wool socks on and padded out the door.
I was yawning and not paying attention where I was going so it was a bit of a surprise when I stopped moving due to a brick wall in my path that hadn't been there the day before. A breathing brick wall. Only one person I knew was that solid and so tall that my forehead barely brushed their collar bone. A certain teenage werewolf that I hadn't spoken to for almost as long as we'd been at the safe house.
"Morning." A rumble confirmed my brick wall werewolf theory.
"H-H-Hey D-Derek." I stuttered, so surprise by his sudden appearance that my oh so charming speech impediment got the better of me. I took a deep breath and counted to three in my head while he waited without speaking. "Good morning to you too. What's up?" I stepped back so I could see his face.
His piercingly green eyes looked right through me. We hadn't talked, I had honestly avoided him as much as possible, something that bothered him even though he hid it well. Derek just confused me too much, I was trying to get control of my emotions, control of my energy so I could get control and understand my powers. I let that control slip when I was around Derek, I got distracted too easily and all that training went out the window.
"Your turn." He grunted, holding a glass vial up for me to see.
I sighed resignedly. Derek had been playing mad scientist since we came to the house. They had a make-shift lab set up in the basement and he had been drawing blood samples from all of the supernaturals around except for me. Saving the erratic necromancer for last.
Without argument I held out my arm, awkwardly rolling up my sleeve one-handed. With an annoyed sigh he pushed me into my room and down on the edge of my bed. I felt my blush light up the state of New York as my heart went crazy. Despite that he could hear it he ignored my heartbeat and rolled up my sleeve, kneeling in front of me with a syringe dwarfed in a hand the size of a small dolphin. Ok, a really small dolphin, more like a magazine or film reel.
"So what are you doing with all these blood samples Dr. Frankenstein?" I asked as casually as I could. Which was about as casual as a thirteen-year old on a first date. You know the one, in all the cutsy movies about growing up and stuff where the little couple go and see a Disney together and the boy yawns and puts his arm around the girl's shoulders… yeah, real smooth Chloe Saunders.
"Just… experiments." His voice was a gruff as ever, almost like his vocal chords couldn't decide if they wanted to howl or speak.
"WOW! Really? I would have never guessed that you were experimenting!" I couldn't help the jibe, he'd set himself up for it.
I earned myself a glare, but while his demeanor was as prickly as ever, he was exceedingly gentle as he tied a rubber hose around my bicep. I followed his grunted instructions to squeeze his hand to get my veins to pop up. I tried to ignore the heat from his hand, the roughness of it and the way it made mine look like a child's. The heat worried me, he didn't look too feverish but the changes were coming faster now. There had been three more since the woods outside Syracuse.
I wasn't the only one trying to ignore things that bothered me. I had small bandaids on three out of five fingertips of the hand dwarfed in Derek's. I saw him glance at them every so often and scowl, looking down to hide his expression but Derek had the unique ability to scowl with his whole body and I could tell by the set of his shoulders that he was.
"This will sting." He warned, rubbing the skin before slipping the needle effortlessly into my vein.
I hissed involuntarily, internally cursing myself for not following my own instructions to stay silent and be brave and not look like a sissy girl in front of Derek.
"Sorry." He drew the blood and replaced the needle with a cotton ball, cupping my elbow in his hand.
"H-How are… your changes?" I murmured. I hadn't meant to say anything but as I watched him he had rubbed the back of his neck and shifted a few times like his skin didn't fit quite right.
He didn't look at me as he put a strip of medical tape over the cotton ball. "Getting better."
The fact that he didn't meet my eyes was a dead give-away that he was lying to me. Things had been awkward between us ever since we got to the safe house but his body language was something that I couldn't avoid reading, it came naturally to me.
He stood and walked to the doorway, pausing only briefly as I whispered "Liar" to his retreating back.
Breakfast was quiet, the house always was this early in the morning, seeing Derek had been really unusual but I'd been so tired when he'd shown up that it didn't even really occur to me that it was weird until later. I ate my breakfast of cold cereal and a grapefruit in a sunny window seat in the kitchen. One of my favorite spots in the house, there were a few places around that I went when I wanted to spend time alone. Obviously the kitchen wasn't a place to go to be alone, but this early I got the room to myself and it was nice.
I washed my bowl and rinsed sticky grapefruit juice off my fingers. I thought about taking some breakfast down to Derek in the lab since I knew he was awake, but decided against it. That morning's encounter had rattled me enough as it was and I needed to be able to study.
There was a copy of the big book of Necromancia that Dr. Davidoff had shown me in his office all those months before in the house library. I was just over half-way through reading it. I tried to read a chapter a week but some were denser than others and I had to plod through them. I wasn't by any means dumb, but I also wasn't Derek, I still hadn't figured out a fail-proof way to prevent from accidentally raising the dead.
I had meditated everyday like the book said to, focusing on the different feelings of… well… of dead. I felt very goth as I listened quietly to dead things with my mind. I'd learned to tell the difference between the feel of a dead body and a dead body with a soul in it. This way if I accidentally raised some poor soul I could tell and release it quickly. That was one thing I was really proud of, being so much better at releasing souls. No more drawn out terror, I could even calm the soul.
Simon knew I'd been working on controlling my powers but Derek hadn't seemed interested at all and he was the one who had suggested experimenting in the first place. It was a little frustrating.
I thought back to my encounter with Derek in my room, the slight glow to his eyes and the heat his body was giving off. He looked like he might be in for another shift attempt tonight, something I had hoped he would get a break from for a while.
Propping the book up, I pulled a shoebox down from the shelf next to the window seat. It wasn't on the top shelf because I couldn't reach; damn these stubby legs. Inside were two wide bracelets made from a weave of tight copper wires with silver interwoven in them to form symbols. Runes or something, I wasn't completely sure. I'd had to take apart more than I'd woven together to get this far and wire wasn't easy to work with no matter how thin and delicate.
In the book there was a whole section dedicated to uncontrollable powers. A couple of the big guys in necromancy had too much to handle, Rasputin, Vlad Dracula, Marie Laveau. I hadn't even known those guys were necromancers, Simon and I had argued about it, he thought Rasputin was a sorcerer. Luckily for the sake of our friendship it turned out that he was both, like Tori. Mommy was a witch and daddy was a necromancer—except in Tori's case her daddy was a sorcerer and she didn't know which was just a whole other set of issues I didn't want to get into.
Anyway so Rasputin was a big time bad ass, emphasis on bad, and Simon and I had kissed and made up. Which, let's be clear, is a figure of speech. Simon's super cute but I SO did not need that drama. Living with three other teenagers made avoiding drama like trying to hum the national anthem, rub your stomach, pat your head and walk a straight line all at once.
I poked my fingertip on the end of one of my wires. "Ow! Sunava gun!" A drop of blood welled up and I pulled a tissue out of the shoebox to wipe it off with. Working with wires, this had happened a lot over the past few weeks. With a sigh I pulled out another band aid and wrapped the newly damaged finger.
Usually when I pricked myself I could feel Derek shift and tense, like he was antsy. I think it came with the territory of being a necromancer, I could just… feel werewolf energy, I was sure I'd read it somewhere in the book.
When my finger stopped throbbing I went back to my work, so close to being done that I sat in the same position for hours, finally slipping the last wire through. I plugged in my little jewelry soldering tool and waited for it to heat up. Ok, I know, soldering tool in the library was not the smartest move, and if it were a movie I would forget about it (being the blond heroine) and burn the only books that linked me to my history. Luckily for me I'm not your typical blond movie heroine.
For starters, I lack the stackage. I mean, seriously, how does the young female protagonist expect to run away from the bad guys when her yabbos are bouncing all over the place? Great for drawing in teenage boys to your box office, not so great for real life situations that require escaping, trust me I've been there done that. For another thing, I do not make an impressive necromancer; I don't know if it's the blond hair blue eyes thing, or the being five foot zilch thing but me standing on a hilltop raising a zombie horde would just not be as scary as like… well pretty much anyone else. In short, I would not star me in my necromancer film. I'd even dyed my hair red and I still could only hope for "cutely menacing" like a growling Chihuahua in a pink sweater. When I'd had black hair I had the right coloring for a necromancer but we are so not going back down THAT road.
I soldered the ends of my wires together, making as sturdy of an end to my bracelet as I could. Then with a deep breath, I put them on. At first nothing happened, and my spirits crashed to their fiery doom. But as I attached all the little hooks and eyelets I felt calmer. They were an ancient kind of channeling spell that let me focus my necromantic powers. Before they were like an open faucet, spewing energy everywhere I went uncontrollably, but the bracelets were like a hose with a watering nozzle attachment—I could focus or turn off my power completely. I could only raise what I wanted to raise.
Or at least that was the theory; I hadn't really had time to put it into practice. The only annoying part was that I wasn't used to wearing jewelry—much less two-inch wide gauntlets made of wire—and they were a little uncomfortable.
I settled for rolling up my sleeves to the elbow so they wouldn't add that extra layer of awkward and grabbed my lunch of a PB&J and apple before settling in to get some more work done.
In the afternoons I had been doing my secret research. I found a book on werewolves tucked in the old leather-bound supernatural section, I knew Derek had read it, he'd spent our first week here locked away in the library reading. I'd read my book in my room while he was doing his research. It was a pretty sweet book, like mine it was all gothic and perfect dark movie prop but it was older than mine and the original was locked behind glass. We had to make do with an electronic scan on a computer older than the dinosaurs.
The book on werewolves was a much faster read than mine. I guess it was easier to process because it wasn't happening to me, there wasn't some new nasty fact waiting around every page to surprise me with "oh hey, necromancers can totally raise the dead in their sleep if they're powerful enough" which would have been dandy to know oh say a month ago. Or my personal favorite, "water—especially salt water—like totally amplifies your power which means if you don't take super careful measures you can raise zombie sharks (which can't be controlled and are even pissier than non-zombie sharks) and get dragged to the depths of the ocean!" Ok, so maybe they weren't worded exactly like that, but you get the general idea. No beach-bumming for Chloe.
My pity party was cut short by a rap on top of my computer. I switched the browser to amazon before even looking up at who it was. When I did look I met dark tilted eyes with mischief twinkles.
"Whatcha doing?" Simon asked with his token grin. The boy was too cute for his own good, he really was.
"Just looking at a camera I want to order when I get the green light to use my bank account again."
"Sweet, doing a supernatural camp documentary?" He dropped his sketchbook on the desk next to me. "You've already got a kickin' screenplay."
I smiled and shook my head, pulling the book to me. "Have you gotten any new work done?"
"Oh yeah, I think it's my favorite yet." He flipped it open to a page about a third of the way in.
It was an inked drawing of me, sitting cross-legged in the window seat in the library with a half-done bracelet it my hands and star-wars band aids on almost all of my fingers. I noticed that Simon had taken the liberty of making my typically loose clothing tighter. While I normally wore t-shirts that were more comfortable than flattering or button-down long sleeved shirts, he had drawn me in one of those fashionable camisoles with lace on the neckline.
"Hmm… Simon I think there's some kind of jello-mold stuck down the shirt in the sketch." I pointed at the me-figure's chest.
He laughed and tugged at the sleeve of my flannel shirt. "It's not my fault you leave everything to the imagination."
I rolled my eyes, I'd gotten a lot of practice dealing with his flirting. In our first few weeks he'd always made me blush and get tongue-tied but I realized it was just part of who he was and I stopped taking it personally, which had made our friendship a lot more comfortable for me. "That's because there's nothing to imagine twerp."
"Is that an invitation?" He winked and pulled out his groping hand.
I felt a growl vibrate in my whole body and looked up to see Derek in the doorway, almost filling it completely. It took me a second to figure out why Simon hadn't reacted to the growl before I realized that it was actually a hum of Derek's energy, like a growl but without sound and being a necromancer I felt it when Simon didn't. His face was shadowed in the doorway but his hand on the frame was white-knuckled.
Jeez he can't even stand up on his own! The shifting could come on any minute if he's not careful! I thought worriedly, watching him.
Simon picked up my wrists and grinned again. "You finished them! Pretty snazzy looking, do they work?" When I didn't respond immediately Simon followed my gaze and waved when he saw his foster-brother. "Hey bro! Ready for lunch? You're like an hour late."
"Not hungry." Derek grunted, making me look at him sharply, he didn't eat before a change because he would always end up puking it all up later. If he wasn't going to change then Derek not being hungry was a sign of the apocalypse.
"Well you should totally check out these charm thingies Chloe has been working on. She's been all academic and stuff, super cute." Simon shrugged good-naturedly when he didn't respond and scooped up his sketchbook and tapped me on the head with it. "Catch you later Love."
Derek stiffened in the doorway but I just rolled my eyes at Simon's pet name for me. It had been developed after we watched a late-night marathon of the Ghost Whisperer and Simon had called me Jennifer Love Hewitt until it became too much of a mouthful.
Once they were out of the room I strained my ears to hear as Simon said. "You know, you should really talk to Chloe about whatever is up between you two. I don't know if you had a fight or whatever but this tip-toeing around each other is super awkward."
"I don't tip-toe." Was Derek's only response.
I could picture Simon rolling his eyes.