Everything is so damn tranquil.
He sits lounged on the couch in the house, his legs sprawled lazily taking up all the space.
The surroundings are peaceful. Through the glass windowpane he can see the ocean, its' sapphire blue waves in the sunset glistening with reflection, sparkling like a gem.
His fellow house inhabitants are quiet too. Everything is silent except for the sound of the TV playing in front of him, some boring news report about how a volcano erupted in Iceland and caused ash to block air traffic. Out of the corner of his eye he can see Anna Whiteraven, her dark hair covering her shoulder, her expression soft and filled with happiness as she snuggles up with Rob Kessler, the golden boy. He shows no resistance of moving away.
He can hear Lewis Chao and Lydia Zetes in the office playing Call of Duty with their PS3, their distant sounds of laughter echoing into the quiet living room as they enjoy blasting enemies with a large, digital, computer generalized bazooka gun.
He knows he should be happy. Almost everyone has remained relatively unscathed from the previous scenario not too long ago, dealing with a power-hungry crazed old man who was obsessed with the infinite light source of the fascinating crystal. They are happy. All of them are happy. Nothing is wrong.
But something is bugging his mind.
It partly drifts away as he senses the familiar scent of lavender and lilacs, the scent of body soap. A girl with long, dazzling red hair, and fair skin flashes by. Kaitlyn. She sits down beside him, their knees touching, and he inhales her familiar presence quietly. Kaitlyn purses her lips, leaning onto Gabriel's shoulder, her hair nuzzling his shoulder.
Gabe. What's wrong?
He recoils at the sudden presence of her thoughts, instinctively gazing around at the other house mates, used to sharing thoughts from their web, but they pay no attention and continue on with their activities.
Nothing's wrong, Kait. He mentally tells her, and he puts an arm around her waist.
She turns to look at him, and he remembers why he fell in love with her in the first place. Her large, flaming blue eyes, smoky, making his insides burn, the darker rings of blue around the pupil giving the illusion of a seemingly endless depth. He knows she is suspicious, and she doesn't believe a word he says, but he is reluctant to tell her, reluctant to bring up memories of the past.
He looks at her yet again, taking in her ageless beauty, but her appearance flickers before him. Instead, he sees a small, naive child, fourteen, with large, solemn, indigo eyes, black hair pushed back with a clip that matches her eyes.
Gabriel is shocked. He knows this face, but he always believed that this young girl he had once known had gone to a place where she would never return. He never imagined he would see her again.
She beckons to him, her small palm extended, holding out the flower, the iris, the one he had picked for her from the park.
He blinks, trying to convince himself that this is an illusion, and indeed, when he opens his eyes, Kaitlyn is staring at him, trying to decipher an enigma she will never figure out, unless he himself tells her directly.
Gabriel. Tell me what's wrong. You can't fool me. Your walls are up again. He can sense her angst, her frustration at trying to know, for she is, such a stubborn girl, but he does not want to bring back the past.
None of your business, Kaitlyn.
Gabriel, I want to know; you seem so disturbed, even Anna and Rob can tell, and they aren't even in on this private conversation of ours.
Her nagging is really getting to him.
Your nosiness will get you into trouble one day. Why can't you stop pestering me like a child and leave me alone?
Gabriel can sense he has really pissed her off. Without another word, she strides off, not giving him a single glance. He can feel Anna and Kessler's curious, questioning stares piercing through his back, but he refuses to answer, and he gets up to follow her into the kitchen.
"Kait." His parched lips move for the first time as he sees her leaning on the counter, her red hair a pool behind her as it is spread on the granite surface.
She glares at him indignantly, her blue eyes demanding repentance, apologies, wanting to know what is going on.
"Alright, damn you, I'm sorry, okay?"
Gabriel rolls his eyes, and though she she doesn't seem to pleased, he notices her eyes has softened quite a bit, and she has starting coming towards him. The scent of lilac and lavender engulfs him once more as she stops right in front of him.
Kaitlyn leans forward, her face becoming a blur as her lips part to meet his. He closes his eyes, relishing the taste of her mouth on his, but too soon, she leans back, licking them in delight, making her rose pink lips shine like gloss, watching with amusement as he grinds his teeth in anticipation, frustrated with her, wanting more.
"Gabriel." Her voice is soft, like a breeze on a hot summer's day.
"Kait." He says again.
"Tell me what's wrong."
He closes his eyes, breathing deeply, and when he opens them, it is not the familiar Kaitlyn Fairchild standing before him in the kitchen, it is the young girl. She smiles brightly, and she nods her head once. The motion is quick, but the meaning is clear.
"I was fourteen." Gabriel states, feeling Kait's attentive gaze on his face, her blue eyes unwavering.
And then the story unravels, the words and memories pouring out of him like it was only yesterday.
He'd never expected it to happen. At least, he never thought something like that would occur.
When he was on the run from the cops who had been looking for him since he killed that guy in California, the last thing he was expecting to happen was meeting a girl.
And yet it had happened. Out of all the possible things. It went to show people how unreliable chances were. How unexpected and totally strange some things could be.
They first met when he was, well, running. He decided to stop in a small town called Durham. After all, the police probably wouldn't have the smarts to realize he was there, for a while, at least. They hadn't even posted wanted pictures or signs on him, the first stupid thing they bothered skipping. They were too embarrassed to admit that for yet another time, they had been outsmarted by a child.
Gabriel had crashed into her, but she wasn't paying attention, and had toppled over onto the ground, her binoculars skidding across the sidewalk. She had been birdwatching; she always had a weakness for the small creatures, small, and lithe, soaring in the air, with their magnificent plumes. He knew this about her after he met her.
He'd fully expected her to shout at him for being inconsiderate, recognize him and shout for the cops, or get him in trouble for being the whiny person he knew girls always were. But she had surprised him and done nothing of the above expected three. She had asked him if he was okay.
"Are you okay?" the girl asked him, getting to her feet and glancing down at him.
He stared up at her. She had seemed somewhat ordinary at first,with her dark, black hair pulled back by a purple clip, and pale skin, but then he had seen her eyes. They were a dark indigo, a sort of magical, misty, colour, the ones he had seen in movies about the galaxy in space, making everything else about her appearance seem dull in comparison.
"Are you okay?" She repeated, reaching out her hand to help him. The girl wiggled her fingers.
"Of course I'm okay, do I look okay?" His voice was sardonic and bitter, and she had recoiled a bit from the tone of his voice. Gabriel felt a slight nudge from inside himself, feeling bad that he had hurt her feelings.
"You don't look okay at all." the girl commented, and he felt her dark, luminous eyes scanning his body from head to toe. He knew she was looking at his scratched knees and elbows, his rumpled clothes that he had slept in for more than a week.
Then she had done another completely unpredictable thing; she had offered him help and allowed him to come to her house.
"Why don't you come to my house? We can get you cleaned up?" She suggested.
Gabriel almost choked himself in surprise. The girl was either one of two things: stupid, to invite a stranger who looked like a homeless person into her house, someone who was dangerous, or she was trustworthy, which was also stupid, because no one in their right mind would allow Gabriel into their home.
"No." He said shortly.
He wasn't about to get himself in trouble for a situation that looked like he was molesting another girl; no, not a chance, he was in enough hot water and trouble as it was already.
"I insist. My parents aren't even home. They won't be returning until at least ten o' clock in the evening, they're attending my brother's basketball game. Come on."
It wasn't her words that convinced him, it was her eyes. He always had a weakness for beautiful eyes. Gabriel had stared into her eyes, but she had looked back, solemnly, and as he studied her further, he realized she was sincere, her eyes conveying that she wanted to help; that she was pure and innocent, that she had no wicked intentions.
So he nodded slowly. Only once.
"What's your name?" She questioned him.
He glanced at her for a moment before replying. "My name's Gabriel. Gabriel Wolfe."
"My name's Iris." She told him. Sure suited her, with the colour of her eyes, and all. Whoever her parents were knew what they were doing.
They had went back to her quaint little house at the corner of the street. While he sat awkwardly on the couch, she had gotten him some bandages and Polysporin for his wounds, and she had run back to her older brother's room and gotten him new clothes to change into.
"Why are you doing this for me?" he asked her, once she had returned with the pile of clean clothes. He was confused. No one he had ever met before was this kind to him.
"I'd do this for everybody. I think everybody should get a chance to be taken care of." Iris replied firmly.
She glanced at the religion table across from her, the crucifix shining, the rosary draped over it as she gathered the bandage wrapping and tossed them in the garbage bin.
"My father's the minister of the church. He believes in do-gooders and the golden rule. He always told me since I was very young to always give the kindest to people."
"So I'm your pity case."
"No." Her eyes looked shocked, her long lashes blinking rapidly as if he wasn't serious.
"I see," Gabriel responded, his dark eyes covered, shielded, "then what am I to you?"
"A person. A friend. A classmate. An acquaintance. But not a pity case."
He was oddly touched.
So he had left, and she had said her farewells, but for some sort of reason, he felt like he had to see her again. At the very least, he told himself, he'd need to thank her for the things she'd done for him. But something else was drawing him to her; something different that ordinary people didn't have; but he had no sort of idea what.
Gabriel decided to show up at her house unexpectedly the next day. She was surprised, but not unpleased. They had spent the whole day together; and then the next, and the next and the following day until a week had passed, and more time, until they became friends.
He knew people didn't approve of their friendship; he wasn't blind and stupid, nor was he dumb.
The first time he noticed was when Iris was having breakfast.
He had been waiting for her outside her door, knowing she was eating breakfast, but overhearing the conversation she and her mother had together.
"He's a bad boy, Iris. You're going to get yourself hurt when you're with him." Her mother had commented sharply, out of nowhere, when she came down the stairs to eat breakfast.
"He is not a bad boy, and I will not get hurt. Is he my friend, or yours? You barely even know him!" Iris retorted angrily.
"And that is the problem," Her mother had snapped back.
"Petunia, dear, silence," her father replied, reading the daily morning Durham newspaper, "Iris makes good judgments. I trust her."
He eyed Iris meaningfully, and then adjusted his glasses up his nose so he could read the paper better.
Gabriel waited outside. He kicked at a rock.
"Your parents don't like me, do they?" He said, indignantly, once she had left the house and joined him outside.
"They-well, they don't—I'm sure they'll grow to like you," Iris had finished lamely, her indigo eyes apologizing, while Gabriel gave a slight smile, his lips curling up at the edges.
"Of course," Gabriel said wryly, and the matter was forgotten.
Iris wanted to go birdwatching today; she had brought along her notebook and a pencil and her favorite pair of binoculars, so, they had decided to go to the park in the center of town. It was filled with birdbaths, a fountain, and a few bird feeders, but most importantly, trees, which were their natural habitat.
While she was busy studying birds, Gabriel was walking around aimlessly; this bored him to no end. He spotted a bright flower growing on its' own, standing out in contrast to the grass that was a sharp green due to the morning due. The fact was, it had caught his eye because it was the same colour of Iris' pupils. The deep indigo. He reached down to pick it out from the ground, examining it closely; studying the long, narrow stem, its' sword shaped leaves, stroking the lovely, purple colored petals as they wilted away from the middle.
Then he had decided to give it to Iris.
"What is it, Gabriel?" Iris questioned curiously.
"An iris," he commented, as if it couldn't be any more obvious.
"It's beautiful," she had breathed, inhaling the scent, her eyes lighting up with awe and wonder as she studied the small flower that she was named after.
When she was about to say something, she had lifted her head, and opened her mouth to speak, but Gabriel decided to make a rash decision, and he decided to kiss her.
It was the first time he had kissed before. Iris' lips were really cold and soft, and the kiss was sweet and gentle. He felt something drawing up from inside him, a deep feeling, a really powerful sort of energy, but then it seemed to disappear somewhere.
She stepped away from Gabriel, withdrawing as she touched the side of her head, tenderly.
"What's wrong?" Gabriel asked her, concerned. Had he done something wrong?
"Nothing, I just think I got a headache." Iris pressed her forehead delicately, rubbing it in deep circles.
"I think I'd better go home," she said to him.
She walked swiftly away from Gabriel without another glance, and she left to walk home, not far from the park.
Of course, he followed her from a distance. He watched as someone grabbed her by the arm, and he tensed, ready to help. The boy was all golden and light. But he didn't seem to be hurting her. So he stretched his neck forward and listened hard.
"Listen," the boy had said, the sun making a gold halo around his hair, "don't stick with him."
"With who? Gabriel?" Iris almost laughed in disbelief.
"The dark moody one. He's bad news. Trust me." His hand tightened on her wrist, cutting off circulation.
The strangest thing was, Gabriel thought, this boy didn't even seem deceptive; in fact, he looked like he had all the right intentions, and he seemed sure he was doing the right thing.
"Trust you?" Iris laughed haughtily, a high, tinkly, false sound, while he looked taken aback, "I barely know you. Gabriel is my friend. Now leave me alone."
She shook off his arm, and she walked back to her house.
The next morning, Gabriel noticed something queer. He was waiting near her house as usual; but this time, Iris had peeked out her bedroom window, drawing her curtains aside, seeming surprised that he was already there. He could see her eyes darken with wisdom, already coming up with reasons why on earth he was there so early in the morning. He could see a seed of distrust plant itself as she began to question what he was hiding.
She came out much earlier this time.
"Where is it going to be today?" Gabriel had asked.
"The community center. I'm going to do volunteer hours at the library in a few weeks." Iris said shortly, not meeting his eyes, her clip gone, this time, instead, a curtain of black hair making a wall that separated the two of them.
he stopped walking, steady in his tracks, while Iris trudged steadily ahead, as if she hadn't noticed anything was wrong.
"Iris." Gabriel said quietly, so quietly that his mouth almost didn't move to say the word, "Iris."
"What?" She looked irritated.
"Why are you angry at me?" He cocked his head quizzically, running his hand through his hair.
"I'm not angry at you." She said, though he knew they both knew she was lying through her teeth.
"Yes you are. I can feel it. Actually, you seem..." Gabriel rubbed his chin, "confused. Suspicious. Why?"
"Why you are disillusioned into thinking these things? Or why you seem to be a mind reader? I have no idea." Iris told him rudely.
"I am not a mind reader." Not so down to Earth as she seemed, huh?
"Sure you aren't." Iris said, sarcastically.
"I'm not." He was determined to tell her that he wasn't, and he had no wish to further argue and debate a word of truth. It was completely pointless and he wasn't going to waste his breath by doing so.
"How do I know that, though?" She whipped around, her dark hair crashing into her face, standing defiant towards Gabriel, who was slowly making his way after her.
"What do you mean?" He motioned his head towards the community center that had "Durham" written in large, golden block letters, while opening the door for Iris as she stepped in.
"The fact that for the past days, weeks even, that we've been together, I've known absolutely nothing about you. The fact that you haven't told me anything about yourself." Iris pointed out accusingly, crossing her arms.
"It's nothing important," Gabriel dismissed. She wouldn't understand. There was no point of trying to tell her.
"Sure it isn't. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go find the librarian and-"
"Iris," Gabriel hissed, starting to feel annoyed,"you wouldn't believe me if I told you."
"Try me." She shrugged, her eyes firm, purple with excitement, but a deep blue with a small bit of insecurity and curiosity.
"I'm a psychic vampire." Gabriel said shortly, watching her reactions.
"What?" Iris said. She looked extremely bewildered.
"Well, maybe not a vampire, and maybe I'm not psychic, but there's something, something that I feel, sort of like a magnetic attraction, to other people, and I don't know why, you know?"
"Not really," Iris said, not catching on, her indigo eyes dazed, scratching her head.
"I can feel something, in people, it beats constantly, but it isn't their heart. Almost an aura, that stretches out towards me, something that stands out about other people, though I don't know why. Last time I tried explaining this to someone, they tried to put me in a mental asylum."
"I'm a juvenile delinquent, the cops are after me, I've murdered someone before, I belong in prison." Gabriel felt the words rushing out. It was like there was some sort of truth serum he had been given, though obviously, there wasn't. He was just telling her everything. With a shock, he realized—he trusted her.
Iris gasped quietly.
"What do you think of me now?" He questioned her harshly, his eyes boring into her own endless ones.
"I-" Iris was speechless.
"Don't you hate me? Everyone else seems too. I saw you with that boy yesterday. Telling you to stay away from me, wasn't he?" Gabriel said, knowingly. He felt bitter. When were people going to realize he had no intention to hurt her?
"No." Iris had found her speech again, and she repeated her answer. "No." she shook her head strongly, sure of herself. "Psychic, or JD, or whatever, you're still Gabriel. Ordinary Gabriel Wolfe. At least to me. You know what? It doesn't change a thing."
"Really?" He asked, seeming unsure.
"Honest to goodness."
He smiled, for one of the first times, and he tucked back a piece of hair, and he leaned down to kiss her.
The kiss was different this time though, in a way that it was more passionate, and his hand came up to cup her chin. He felt something from her drawn to him, sort of being sucked towards him, and at first, he had assumed it was all the feelings and emotions of their kiss, but he realized with horror later that it wasn't. Iris was wobbling on her feet, her breathing growing shallow.
"What's going on?" Gabriel was muttering quietly. What exactly was happening to Iris? Surely these weren't normal symptoms of a kiss?
"What?" Iris said slowly, her voice sounding heavy and slurred, her indigo eyes going unfocused as she stared at Gabriel.
"Iris, what did you do this morning?"
"Iris! This is serious! I need to know." Gabriel's voice had never sounded so urgent. It sounded panicky.
"Literally, nothing. I even skipped breakfast to come out and see you."
"You skipped breakfast?" Not good.
"Uh huh..." Iris was closing her eyes. Gabriel was shook her awake harshly.
"Your energy level was low. You're being drawn to me. You know, the psychic thing?"
"Then break the...connection..." she blinked.
He grabbed her wrist, shocked. "Your arm's cold. Very cold. This isn't good."
"I can't break the connection. I'm trying!" He looked around him, calling for help.
"Gabriel." Iris called out, weakly. "Gabriel."
"What is it?"
She hesitated for a moment, looking as if she was going to say something, but changed her mind.
"Everything will be alright."
"Of course it will. We'll get you help." For the first time, Gabriel felt his age, like a small child, wringing his hands, unsure of what to do.
"No, you'll be okay." She had said.
"We'll both be okay," he had told her firmly, but she had already closed her eyes, her breaths growing shallower by the minute, her head tilting to the side, her body going limp. It was then that the horrible realization overwhelmed Gabriel. She wasn't going to be able to be saved. She was dead. And nothing was going to bring her back.
The actual situation of it happening was horrific. He had actually never thought that another person; namely his best friend and first love, would die because of him. And yet it happened. But still, he could not shed any tears, just watch helplessly as she lay there in his arms, her black hair a swirling puddle around him, her indigo eyes closed forever, never to be opened again.
The police came in, followed by the golden boy Gabriel had seen earlier talking to Iris, telling her to stay away from him.
"It's him," the golden boy had pointed his finger at Gabriel, and they had come forward and handcuffed his hands behind his back.
A man and woman were standing back, watching with horrified eyes. Their daughter. The woman burst into tears, the man's calm face breaking out into a twisted face of sorrow, grief, and naivety.
Himself being dragged away into the police cab.
They knew nothing, and they were placing mismatched pieces of the puzzle together. They had no idea what happened, and Gabriel, as far as they were concerned, was the one to blame.
The last thing he remembered was looking out the cop's car through the window, seeing her body lain down on the ground, unmoving. The last view he ever had of his best friend, the girl he loved. And then he was gone.
He opens his eyes, tired of reliving the memory that he had tried so hard to forget. Kaitlyn's eyes are pooled with tears, as she comes closer, wrapping her arms around him in a intimate embrace, offering him solace in a sorrow that was too long ago left untreated. He stands still, listening only to the steady beat of her heart.
It is all but a memory. He blinks, tiredly.
Gabriel, Kait whispers to his mind.
He knows what she wants to ask him before she finishes the question itself. She wants to know if he still loves Iris, even though she doesn't seem mad at him for loving her so.
There is no use in loving a dead person, and he knows that. He loved her, and he loved her very much. She was his first love, and there was no changing that. She would remain in his memories forever. An imprint. A stamp. Never to be forgotten. But he has to move on. He knows that. And he has. He found Kaitlyn. And though he would never stop loving Iris, he started loving Kaitlyn.
I found you.
The words sound cheesy, even to his own ears, but it makes Kaitlyn happy, and she smiles sadly, in a way that sympathizes with him and his situation with Iris. She takes his hand in her own, and she leads him away from the archway of the kitchen opening.
Before he leaves, he looks back, instinctively, though, why, he doesn't know.
On the counter, perched, is the fourteen year old girl he had come to love. Her black hair tied back with the clip as it always had been, her eyes shining, big, and innocent, the colour of the galaxies of the Universe. The iris appears in her hands, and she places it gently on the counter top. Then she waves, and her figure slowly starts disappearing. First her legs, then her torso and hips, then her shoulders and neck, then her head, until nothing is visible anymore.
Only the iris is a sign that she had been there in the first place.
A final goodbye.