AN: It's another Brian chapter. Sorry, I know he's not well-liked 'round these parts, but this chapter is sooo important. Let me know what you think.
AN2: So sorry that it took so long to update this chapter. I rewrote this chapter over and over again, and I'm still not sure I got it quite right...
AN3: There will be a couple of "Alex" errors, but Chloe will set the fool straight rather quickly, so don't worry about it. Also, I have a bit of a flashback which includes canon show moments, but I couldn't find the scenes I needed, so they're probably misquoted terribly. If you would be so kind as to point out any errors you may notice, I would be much obliged.
Disclaimer: I don't own "The Nine Lives of Chloe King".
The Truth Will Set You Free…Or Completely Screw with Your Head
Chloe's door has never seemed so imposing before. He's been here, standing on the brink of rejection, and he'd knocked without any hesitation. But, now, knowing what he does about Alex, he's not sure he can. Or that he should. He didn't call her when the boy, creature?, was bleeding to death in his car for a reason. She might not know. Probably doesn't know.
But she might.
And Brian can't keep this to himself any longer. He has to talk about it with someone, anyone, just to convince himself that he's not going crazy.
But he can't bring himself to knock on the door, physically cannot raise his hand to the wood. Because this is not his secret to give away, and Chloe shouldn't have to bear the burden just because Brian feels inadequate to do it by himself.
He's about to turn and walk away when the door opens, leaving him face to face with Chloe. He smiles out of pure reflex, because seeing her makes him happy even when he's questioning his sanity.
"Brian." She sounds surprised and distracted. "What's up?"
"I was wondering if we could…talk?" He asks, too far gone to back out now.
"I'd love to, but I was just about to go visit Alek."
"Yeah, well, it's about Alex, so…" She looking at him funny, then he can actually see something click into place behind her eyes. She suddenly understands more about why he's here than Brian does, and he's not sure that doesn't freak him out.
"Alek." Chloe corrects automatically, then gestures with her head, clearly not about to let whatever it is he has to say stop her from getting to Alek's side. "Walk with me?" He wonders if he should be jealous, but he knows that Alek is a lot worse for wear and she's just worried about him. So he's not.
"Of course." He offers his arm, but, for the first time, she doesn't take it. He shrugs the rebuff off, it almost isn't surprising anymore. She's been pulling away from him for weeks now, and he doesn't know why. He's about to ask, to finally put his confusion into words, but he doesn't get the chance.
"So," She asks as they start towards the center of town where Alek's apartment building is. Brian guesses he hadn't been taken to the hospital by his aunt either. "Valentina told me you were the one who found him."
"Valentina? His aunt?" He wants to make sure he knows what their talking about. The lady had called Alek her nephew, right?
"Yeah." Chloe nods. "She said you brought him back to the apartment."
"Yeah…" Brian looks away awkwardly, not sure how to broach the subject. "He, uh, he didn't want to go to the hospital."
"No. He wouldn't." There's this sad, little smile on her face. And it clicks. She knows. She definitely knows.
"Because of the claws?"
Chloe freezes, looks at him with this sort of fear he's never seen in another person. "Claws?" Her voice squeaks. It's kind of cute.
"Yeah, claws." Brian nods, smiles his best boy-next-door grin. He wants to put her at ease, make her realize that he doesn't care that her friend happens to be some kind of freak of nature. "They popped out when I got him in the car."
"Huh…" Suddenly, she's looking anywhere but at him.
"Yep. Just came out and dug into my arm when he started getting panicky. But, then, you already they did that, didn't you." He keeps his voice perfectly level. No trace of accusation or anger. Because he's not angry. He can't blame her for keeping this secret. It was never hers to tell.
"What? No!" Chloe's quickly degenerating into panic, and Brian doesn't understand why. "I had no idea that was even possible."
"You're…" Brian almost laughs because it's pretty funny watching her try to pretend that this is news to her. "You're a terrible liar."
"No, I'm not." She snaps, defensive for a reason Brian cannot even begin to comprehend.
"Look, you knew about the claws, big deal. I get why you didn't tell me."
"Well, yeah. I mean, I almost didn't say anything about it to you but," Brian shrugs. "I guess I just don't like keeping things from you."
"Some things are secret for a reason." Chloe whispers as she looks up at him with some kind of emotion he doesn't have a name for. And he realizes she's hiding something else. Something more than the fact that Alek can grow claws whenever he wants.
"What secrets?" He doesn't think he really wants the answer.
"It's what Alek is. Mai. Ancient descendants of the Egyptian goddess Basset . Half human, half cat-god."
"Cat-god." And, god help him, he's trying to be understanding-supportive guy, but he's having a little difficulty dealing with this.
"Gifted with speed, agility, strength, and heightened senses." She nods firmly, coming to some decision within herself. "And cursed that a Mai's kiss is lethal to humans."
She won't look at him again.
Suddenly, everything slides into place.
"Damn, you've got some nails." As the dog barks viciously at her.
He leans in to kiss her, she leans in then jerks away. "I'm sorry; I can't."
"We can take this slow, if you want." A kiss upon her cheek as he feels her stiffen nervously.
"I don't want to lead you on. Can we just be friends?"
"You're one of them." It comes out far more accusatory than he'd intended, but it's kind of a big deal. He's not exactly in the best control of his emotions. He just found out his not-girlfriend who he'd been hoping would become his girlfriend isn't freaking human. She's part cat. Cat-god. Whatever.
Chloe steps back from him, hurt in her eyes, and Brian feels like a dick. And he feels stupid for feeling like a dick. He wasn't the one keeping this huge, possibly fatal secret. He wasn't the one running around playing "normal human" while hiding the Kiss of Death in his back pocket. He would have told her if it had been him. He would have explained everything when the time came to "just be friends".
And she. Didn't. tell. Him.
"Don't be mad."
"I'm not." And he's not. Not really. He's hurt that she didn't trust him enough to tell him. He thought they had something special. That once in a blue moon, I think I knew you in another life, instant connection. But apparently they don't. "I just…I need time to process."
It doesn't seem unreasonable to him. It's not exactly something that you hear and instantly move past. She doesn't have a weird ex-boyfriend or OCD or something like that. She's a fricking cat. Brian reserves the right to go home and freak the fuck out.
He feels bad, turning tail and running without saying anything else. But he doesn't have words to explain this. He is not equipped to deal with this kind of drama. He came home to find the truth about his mother. Finding a cute, smart, funny girl who had the sweetest smile was just a bonus. A huge bonus. He did not sign up for the "your girl's a supernatural demi-god" package. He isn't some character in a primetime teen drama.
This isn't part of his world, his life. And he needs to take some time to figure out if he wants it to be.
AN: There! I finally got rid of Brian in a nice, clean, completely plausible way. I've been working up to this since chapter five and, boy, does it feel good to get that subplot over and done with.