Hi Everyone, Here's another story that popped into my head... I wasn't going to start a different one, but .....
Anyway... Here it is, I hope you like it. I'm hoping to have this story finish up in less than 10 Chapters
How do you think I'll go? LOL!
Anyway, have a read and let me know what you think....
Well, today's the day that I promised everyone that I would accept it. Accept that he wasn't coming back... accept that he left of his own accord, but saying the words didn't necessarily mean that I believed them. In my head, in could see their reasoning and I agreed with them to a point, he told Alberta that he was thinking of leaving, but my heart just couldn't believe that he would leave me like that. No matter what had happened between us, I knew his desire to guard, his steadfast belief that it was his duty to protect the Moroi people; he'd fought his desire for me because of that sense of duty...he wouldn't have just left. If anything he would have asked to be reassigned, I tried to tell them this, but they wouldn't listen. I tried to get them to search for him, but they just kept saying that he'd eventually come back once he'd worked through whatever was troubling him.
I of course knew what was troubling him... me and the fight that we'd had... I would forever regret my last words to him.
"I love you Dimitri....why can't you just admit you love me too?" I was angry now, and I wasn't going to let this go until we talked about it.
"No... Saying the words is only half, anyone can say those three words, but not everyone has the fortitude to back them up with actions." I could see my words cut at him, but as with everything...I had to work hard to get him to open up.
"You know I can't."
"No, I don't know that. You wanna know why? Because I can... I have. I have shown by my actions how much I love you. All I get from you is words. The only actions I get from you is being pushed away... time after time after time.... Whenever you get that little bit too close to showing me what you say you feel, you pull away...again."
"You know why."
"No, I don't. If you loved me like you say you do, you wouldn't push me away."
"I push you away Rose, because I know if I let myself take that step, I won't be able to stop." Now we're getting somewhere....
"Who says I want you to?"
"If I don't stop, I'll want you more than my desire to protect the Moroi. I'll want you more than the life that I swore to live. The life you want too.... That's why I hold back."
"Well you see Dimitri, that's where we have a problem, because I'm already there. I already love you that much..." I saw something flash through his eyes; I don't know what it was exactly. Hurt? Regret? Whatever it was, it wasn't love and it wasn't happiness...
"I need to go. I have a shift." I nodded and he turned away...again.
"You really are a coward..." I mumbled as he walked towards the door. I'm pretty sure he heard me, but he didn't stop.
End of flashback.
That was the last time I saw the love of my life. He'd gone to see Alberta to start his shift and told her that he was thinking of leaving, that the refuge that he thought St Vlad's would be after losing his last charge and friend Ivan, hadn't eventuated. Alberta told him to go onto his shift and think about it before he made any definite plans. He never returned from his perimeter guarding. No-one knew how long he'd been missing; his shift was for eight hours, it could have been anywhere in that time. Alberta had sent out a few guardians to retrace his route, but nothing out of the ordinary had been found. The wards were intact; there was no sign of a struggle...no trace of him. They came to the stupid conclusion that he'd decided to leave.
I was devastated... My last words ripped at my heart and conscience. If he was dead, I would never have a chance to take them back; never have the chance to say how sorry I was; how much I loved him. I was strong for a week after he... went..., I never showed how much I was hurting for a whole friggin week... but everything has its breaking point, even me.
I'd been walking from the commons to the classrooms when I smelt his aftershave...a smell that I'd been starved of. My heart leapt at the thought that he was back... All of my friends were with me at the time and I took off frantically trying to find the source of that magnificent scent. I heard them all yelling at me to slow down and I knew that Eddie was right behind me, the others behind him. I rounded the corner of the guardians building and ran smack dab into...Stan. The scent I'd been trying to find enveloped me... his scent... My heart dropped, I was so confused...
"What... why...?" I couldn't think.
"What the hell is wrong you Hathaway?" he yelled.
"Your aftershave....?" His eyes narrowed at me in confusion. "Where did you get...?"
"It's Belikov's." I could feel my heart being squeezed tightly in my chest, my vision blurred...
"Why do you...?"
"Well I wasn't going to throw it out and it couldn't be sent back to his family with the rest of his things. What's it matter to you?" I could feel nausea swirl in my stomach... It had only been a week and they had already wiped his existence here away. All I had left of him now was his scent... on Stan!
I ran as fast as I could away from Stan and that amazing scent and once I found myself in the trees, I bent over and threw up. I knew the others were behind me and I could feel worry and confusion come through the bond from Lissa. She didn't understand, she thought I was sick...something unheard of for us Dhampir's.
"Rose?" She whispered from behind. "Are you alright?"
I wiped my mouth with my sleeve and fell to the ground and with tears welling up fast, I turned to face her.
"They think he's not coming back..." I said through my tears. "He has to come back..." I could feel myself shaking and the sobs racked through my body. I don't know what my face looked like but something must have shown in it that made her wonder why I was acting like this. I knew the instant she made the connection.... I saw the pictures and heard remembered snippets of our conversations run through her mind.
Why didn't you tell me? She asked silently. I could feel her hurt; she thought I didn't trust her.
"I couldn't." I said. The others were staring at us in confusion.
"Can we have some privacy please?" I asked the others.
"What's going on?" Christian asked me.
"I need to talk to Lissa privately. Please..." The all nodded and Christian came over to Liss and kissed her on her forehead before walking away with Eddie. Adrian nodded to me... he knew what was going on; he knew about my relationship with Dimitri, he was the only one who did. He gave me quick wink in support before leaving with the others. Once they were far enough away, Liss walked over to me.
"How long?" She asked again. I took her hand once I'd stood back up and walked her to another tree; the smell of my previous regurgitation wasn't helping my stomach at all. We sat down and I told her everything, when the attraction began and all the way up to our fight... our last fight. I even told her what I'd said to him, those horrible words that continued to eat at my soul. When I was finished, she pulled me into a hug, her feelings no longer emanating betrayal or hurt, they were compassion with a hint of anger.
"Did you two ever...?"
"No, nearly though, but he...pulled away, got control and stopped before we went too far." She was angry that Dimitri and I had been forced into this situation because of stupid, out-dated beliefs...her thoughts not mine...well no, that's not completely true... I thought they were stupid and out-dated too.
After our talk, I let my closest friends all in on my relationship with Dimitri. But that night, after telling Lissa the truth, I went to bed and finally let all the pain out, I cried and screamed and literally fell apart. Other students had heard me in my room and told the matron who in turn told Alberta...and yeah, you know the rest. So now... Alberta and Kirova knew. At first they were angry at Dimitri, then at me for our relationship, then they blamed me for his 'leaving'. I tried to get them to see that he wouldn't have just gone...again, but again... they wouldn't believe me. The next two months went by in a blur and we finally graduated and moved to the Royal Court where Lissa, Adrian, Christian and I, along with the other guardians, accompanied them to Lehigh College.
It was now a year, since Dimitri...left. I'd promised Lissa that if after a year, he hadn't come back then I would accept it and move on. I'd become very good at hiding exactly what was going on inside, my guardian mask was picture perfect. Adrian knew...of course; him and his aura reading... I could never hide anything from him, just like I could never hide anything from...Dimitri.
The day after the first anniversary of his disappearance, we got word that a number of high ranking Moroi had been taken in a strigoi raid. Some royal snob was having a party for his daughters 16th birthday and the wards had been broken by humans. Strigoi had been banding together lately and with each raid they made, their numbers increased. But what worried the queen the most was the fact that the raids were getting closer and closer to the Royal Court, of course that's all she thought of...herself, not that other Moroi were being killed. She decided that they weren't going to get any closer to Court, so she organised a guardian task force to take on the strigoi, I of course was drafted into the task force.
Over the last ten months since arriving at Court, I'd built myself quite a reputation. I now had thirty-eight molnija marks on my neck, only one other guardian here had more than me and he'd been a guardian for nearly thirty years. I even had my mother publicly acknowledge how my abilities surpassed everyone else; of course she was slightly tipsy at the time...who would have thought.... One night we'd been informed that a select group of Moroi would be accompanying us in this task force; Moroi that had been trained in defensive magic and fighting techniques. Tasha and Christian Ozera, amongst other Moroi fighters would be helping us defeat this 'strigoi army', before they got too close for comfort. So for the next week, the guardians trained with the Moroi to find out who worked better with whom.
Christian and I were paired up, much to Lissa's relief and Tasha was with Guardian Thomas. Guardian Thomas was an amazing fighter, I'd sparred with her a lot and she was one of the toughest guardians around. The night before we left, my group of friends and I all got together and enjoyed each other's company. No-one brought up was going to happen in the morning, no-one implied that it could be the last time we were all going to see one another, we just all needed to be together.
"All set?" Liss asked from my bedroom doorway.
"Yeah." I said as I turned to face her. "I'm coming home Liss, I promise you that. And I'll even try to remember to bring Fireboy home with me." She smiled at my joke but it didn't reach her eyes and I could feel her sadness through the bond.
Don't go, Rose....
"I have to Liss. I have to do this. They need to be stopped before they get here. They need to be stopped while we still have the ability to do so, before their numbers get to the point where we will be overwhelmed and they come to take the Court and everyone in it. I'm doing this for your protection like I swore to do. I promise I'll come back."
"I know, I had to try." I smiled and took her in my arms. "They're waiting downstairs."
As our specially outfitted 'battle-buses' as I called them, drove out of the wards of the Royal Court, I felt Lissa's heart break. Some of the world's best guardians had been pulled for this assignment; from all walks of life, from all countries...that's how important this mission was. Intel had come through about large numbers of strigoi in certain areas of Pennsylvania and with a lot of discussion; a consensus had been batted out that their hideout must have been in the middle of their killing zone. We knew which area that we would be searching; we just had to narrow down the exact location of their hideout once we got there.
The majority of guardians on the 'battle buses' were over the age of thirty and they were battle hardened, straight laced warriors and we numbered 150 in total including Moroi, it was the largest task force ever assembled, but then this was the largest and the most uncertain battle facing our people in modern times. We arrived in the White Haven township about two hours before sundown, those that had slept on the buses would be going out on scouting parties, those who didn't get any sleep would get our accommodation organised and then get some shut eye themselves, everyone had to be well rested for the fight ahead. We weren't going on a rescue for those taken on the birthday party attack; they would have been drained within the first 24 hours of being taken. This was purely a search and destroy mission.
One of the leading Royal families had a large estate just out of the White Haven town limits in amongst a heavily treed and ultimately private area, so we were using that as our head quarters. Hunting parties were in groups of twenty and spread out in all directions. Each group had five Moroi; two of which were fire wielders, one water, one air and one earth. This was so that if we'd become trapped and couldn't return to base, then we had all four element users to put up temporary wards until help came or the sun made an appearance. The extra fire user would only be called upon if the first was too weak to continue fighting.
"How long do you think it'll be before we find some sign of them?" Christian asked me. I knew that as much as he relished in the thought of fighting and killing the strigoi, he also wanted to be back with Lissa as soon as possible.
"I honestly don't know, I hope we have a little bit of luck on our side for once and we can find them today, but don't hold your breath."
"Oh..." he said sarcastically, "I always knew you cared Rosie... But don't worry, I'll keep breathing."
I gave him a soft punch to his arm as he tried to duck out of my reach while laughing. He'd really grown on me over the last twelve months; we were so much alike in so many ways, so I guess that's why we not only got on so well, but also why we fought so much. But, we both knew that we had each other's backs 100% when it mattered the most.
By the time the sun started to rise we all headed back to HQ to rest up. No signs had been found on our initial sweeps of the township, but that simply could have just meant that they hadn't needed to feed that night. The next morning we all got up and grabbed breakfast before heading out once more. The sun had set over the horizon two hours ago when word came through our earpieces that a small group of four strigoi had been sighted and brought down on west side of town, but what absolutely floored us was the fact that they had a human with them, one that fought alongside of them. Apparently he'd fought nearly as well as a dhampir and had to be taken out. They'd tried to capture him; the Moroi had tried to use compulsion, but they weren't strong enough to counteract the compulsion of the strigoi that held his mind. Why would they have humans fighting with them? Why would they even attempt to train them to fight? I couldn't think of one reason for them to do this, wouldn't they just change them?
I was the leader of team one, along with nine other guardians and our five Moroi, so that meant that we had to go check things out at the scene of the encounter. We arrived in the area ten minutes after the alert came in. Apparently a quick search of the surrounding area had pulled up a lead; the small strigoi group had been seen leaving one of the houses in the area. I knew that we were in the right area as soon as we started driving up the street...because that's when the nausea started to swirl in the pit of my stomach.
"They're here." I said into my earpiece. "Be on alert, there's a lot." I'd come to realise that my nausea increased with the amount of Strigoi in my vicinity but I can honestly say that I have never felt this sick in my life.
"How many?" Asked Alberta. She was in the team that had come across the small group and I could see them at the top of the hill; a good 30 yards away.
"Too many..." I whispered. One we stopped and got out of the car, I could literally feel the nervous energy that gripped the people around me. They all knew about my strigoi alarm so they knew that when I said what I'd said...that we could be in a bit of trouble. We left the Moroi in the shade that the cars provided and walked over to Alberta's team.
"Rose." She said with a nod in greeting.
"Hi Alberta." I was trying with everything I had not to throw up but it was getting harder and harder.
"That many hey?"
"I've never felt this bad before Alberta and I'm not afraid to say that I'm a little weary to find out just how many are around here."
"Well, we've counted thirty homes in this area, and adding that to what you've just told me, I have a bad feeling that they're all going to be occupied by strigoi. We've just asked HQ for a satellite image of the area so that when we go back we can start to strategise."
"If this lot don't go back," I said indicating to the dead Strigoi, "...aren't they going to be missed? The rest are going to know that guardians are in area, we'll no longer have the element of surprise on our side."
"Mmm, maybe, maybe not. We'll just have to plan for both scenarios." Once we'd got the bodies taken care of and had a quick assessment of the area, we all headed back to base, we didn't need any longer in the field. The two top guardians and head Moroi out of each team went into the planning rooms to organise a plan of attack. We had to be sure of what we had to do and how to go about it to ensure the least loss of life we could. Everyone knew that we wouldn't be lucky enough to come through without casualties, but we also knew that this wasn't just a fight for our lives, but the whole Moroi and Dhampir community at large. We had to come out the victors of this battle, there was no other option.
"HQ, HQ.... team four reporting." Guardian Cross' voice came into our earpieces. Team four was one of the two teams that were the furtherest out when the call to come back to base was sent out.
"Yes team four." Said Alberta.
"HQ... we could have a problem. Before we could leave, we saw a group of Strigoi; four of them."
"Acknowledged team four, what's the problem? Did you have to engage?"
"No, we were able to stay hidden. The problem is they had two others with them, a human and a...dhampir." Everyone looked at each other, some getting their meaning before others.
"I'm gathering the dhampir was one who hadn't been changed into strigoi?"
"That's correct. They just followed the group, but we could see that they'd been fed from. I don't know what's going on, but the dhampir looked pretty out of it."
"What are they doing Alberta?"
"I wish I knew Rose, I wish I knew..." She was as confused as I was.