fireicegirl16 – Nice guess, but not quite right. However, you were right about it being someone they trusted.
kitkat443 – Nope, not Aunt Lauren. Honestly, the thought hadn't even crossed my mind, but it would've made for an amazing twist. Nice guess, though!
Enecs – That is quite an impressive list. Like I told kitkat443, it's not Aunt Lauren, though I will agree with you that she is totally cray-cray. (:
Shiningheart of ThunderClan – That is some nice observation going on. I'm impressed. You seem a little Sherlock-y all of a sudden. Anyway, Maggie is a strong guess, but you're not completely right. (:
Lady Eye – But alas, every story must end. I have the feeling that this might be the last chapter, but if I feel like there's more that I need to share, it might end up being an epilogue.
The Darkest Powers series belongs to Kelley Armstrong.
I felt so stupid. I felt like I should've seen it. But I was stupid, like John said, and I'd let pity get in the way of seeing what I should've before. I hadn't even suspected him, because he was just an aging man, stuck in the middle of nowhere. He'd seemed sad about Chelsea's death. I never would've imagined that he had planned to kill her.
Ezekiel stood at the top of the stairs, just behind John. He was shorter and pudgier and older than the werewolf, but he seemed proud of himself. He didn't seem to think that John would harm him in the least, though I knew that if he really wanted to, the older werewolf could snap Ezekiel's neck within seconds. But clearly, John was either biding his time or didn't plan to do it at all.
"Why?" I whispered. Derek edged in front of me, but I was still able to see around him. Ezekiel looked down at me, and the kind eyes I was used to seeing were replaced with hard chips of ice. Clearly, Ezekiel was the best actor out of all of us. It was just another reason that I should've seen it. I was practically trained to see an actor a million miles away and I'd still failed.
Ezekiel stepped around John and made his way down the steps. "Why?" He echoed. His usually kind face screwed up angrily. "Why not? Chelsea was a brat, Abigail's mistake." He hissed. Even Davidoff hadn't been this cruel, I thought, because Ezekiel didn't care in the least that he was killing a member of his family. Davidoff was a twisted murderer, too, but he was a scientist at heart, who had planned on creating a better way for supernaturals to live. He strayed off the path on the way, but at least he hadn't started out as a psycho.
"But Abigail's family," I said. I couldn't imagine what I would feel if my dad tried to kill me. Even if I told him that I was a necromancer who had an unbridled ability to call forth the dead, he wouldn't have tried to end my life. He might've tried to stick me into the loony bin, or another group home like the Lyle House, but he wouldn't have ordered me killed. I couldn't even begin to fathom the reason behind it. Family was family, and I was all too aware of the pain that came from being separated from it, even if it wasn't just peachy to begin with.
Ezekiel smiled at me, but it wasn't warm. It was cold, his eyes hard. Even his teeth seemed sharper and more menacing, for some reason. "I'm a sorcerer," he told me. "Did I ever tell your group that? I'm sure Kit knows. After all, us sorcerers have to stick together." The way he said it made me shiver. He was so detached. "My father was a sorcerer, and my mother was a human. She had no idea what my father was, or that I'd taken after him, which was fine with us. We always imagined that she was just your average woman, a little clueless an' eager to please. But she found another man, a human man, who she thought she loved. When Maggie was born, she tried to convince my father that she was his, but he didn't believe it. Maggie was the first mistake in my family. She had Abigail, an' Abigail had Chelsea, an' all three of them are pure idiots."
I couldn't hold in the gasp. That was the last thing I expected from him. He had always been so quick to introduce Maggie as his sister. Though, I remembered, he hadn't laid any claim to Abigail or Chelsea when we first met, or even when I accidentally raised her corpse. And he'd never told us that he was a sorcerer, never offered to help Simon learn spells, and had never told us that Maggie, Abigail, and Chelsea were completely human.
In my mind, I rationalized the idea. By the sound of it, Maggie had grown up in a household with a brother and a father that thought she was human scum. I wasn't sure if it was really that bad, but it was what Ezekiel was implying. If he treated them the same way he talked about them, I could see why they'd feel like they were lower than the supernaturals surrounding them. Chelsea had been a teenage girl, and girls our age tend to overreact and rebel against everything we've been told. If Chelsea had been told that she was useless, but she had to keep this compound of supernatural freaks a secret, I could imagine her spouting that she was going to get out, and that she was going to run away. She might've even yelled that she was going to out them while in a fit of rage.
Chelsea's humanity had sealed her fate, I realized, and that made me sick. I had no idea that I was destined to be a necromancer, and when I first discovered my powers, I'd do anything to get rid of them. I even took the pills that the Lyle House nurses had prescribed to me, because I wanted them to go away. That might've only lasted for a few days, but I did have a moment where I wanted to be normal. I wanted to be human. What was so wrong with that?
"So you killed her," Derek said. His voice was monotonous and heavy, but I could tell that he was just floored. Derek had always known what he was, and I knew that sometimes, he wished that he could just be normal. I imagined that there had been plenty of days where he'd wanted to trade in his super senses for a shot at a normal life, where he didn't have to run, where he could make friends and play sports and not worry about losing his temper and doing some irreversible damage on someone else.
"I didn't kill her." Ezekiel said. He smiled coldly. "I just mentioned ta John here that Chelsea intended to leave here and tell everyone about where we were. It wouldn't have taken long for the Pack to find out that we had him holed up here, an' they might've come for him." Ezekiel leaned forward, like he was going to tell us some dark, dirty secret. "John don't have a real clean track record, if ya know what I mean." He leaned back, looking smug. "An' so I told John, I said, 'John, she'll kill us all.'"
John stood grim-faced behind Ezekiel. For the first time, I saw remorse on his face. Maybe he truly felt sorry for what he did. Maybe he hadn't wanted to kill Chelsea, but Ezekiel had goaded him into it. Maybe Ezekiel had told him that if John didn't act when he had the chance, there would be a bounty on his head. It sure seemed like Ezekiel, a man that I had trusted, was a criminal mastermind. I could tell just by looking at him that he didn't have a single guilty thought about killing his niece.
"I just… I don't understand. Why did you have to kill her?" I was still trying to wrap my brain around it. It couldn't have simply been because she wanted to leave the compound, could it? I hadn't known Chelsea before she died, but I had the feeling that she wasn't what Ezekiel had made her out to be. He painted her as a girl that had every intention of causing harm to the people that lived here by telling the world about them. But that didn't make much sense, because the world would've just thought that she was insane, and she probably would've ended up in a group home like I did.
"You sure are dense, aren't ya?" He asked. "No matter. You Yankees don't get what it means to live down here in the south." I nearly blanched. Now he was blaming his state? "Down here, sweetheart, it's all about survival. If ya can't survive, ya don't deserve to live." Ezekiel stepped farther into the basement. Derek stepped closer to me, pushing me away from Ezekiel as he passed. He headed to a dresser than I hadn't gotten around to searching and pulled open the top drawer. He pulled out a gun. I bit my lip and tightened my fingers in Derek's shirt.
Ezekiel cleared his throat. "I already told ya that my great-great-great granddaddy built this place as a haven for us supernaturals. It has been a safe place for generations, and I wasn't goin' to let a stupid human ruin it for all of us. I told ya that Chelsea was a mistake. And you know what we do with mistakes?" He didn't even give me a chance to open my mouth before he glanced at me and said, "We erase them."
Gooseflesh broke out over my skin. The chill sunk through the air, and I had the urge to look around and see if there was a ghost watching. In all reality, it was probably just Ezekiel being crazy and cruel, but I was a necromancer, and a chill was not something that I could just ignore.
"What about Maggie?" I blurted. "And what about Abigail? What did they think about this? Do they even know?" How awful, I thought, that Abigail had no idea her uncle hated her and her daughter so much that he had practically made an order to have her killed.
"Of course," he answered so quickly that I almost thought I missed it. I just couldn't believe what I was hearing. Derek reached back and took a hold of my hand, squeezing it lightly. I glanced over at John. Maybe we could make a break for it, climb up the stairs and lock it behind us. Then we could go for help. Sure, Ezekiel had a gun, but he was also halfway across the room. It was John I was worried about. If we made a break for the stairs, he would definitely be able to stop us. He might even hold us still so Ezekiel could shoot more efficiently, or maybe he would just take care of us himself.
I swallowed. Derek and I had gotten out of some pretty nasty situations in the past, but I figured that my luck would have to run out eventually. No matter how much of a planner Derek or I tended to be, there would eventually come a moment where we would fail, and we would suffer for it. My stomach tightened and my heart beat wildly in my chest. If my life was about to end, I decided, I wanted to go down fighting.
I closed my eyes and buried my face in the back of Derek's shirt. To his credit, he didn't pull away from me. Instead, he reached behind the two of us and pulled me closer, to the point where my body was almost completely pressed against his. I tried to ignore the fact that we could very nearly be as close as we'd ever been, and instead pulled up a mental image of Liz's face. Blonde hair, Minnie Mouse nightdress, crazy, ridiculous socks. Liz, I called out mentally. Liz, please come back. We need you. Derek and the others had warned me against summoning, but I was a necromancer, and calling the dead for assistance was the best way for me to fight.
"They had to know," Ezekiel continued, unaware of the fact that I was trying to use my power to bring a telekinetic half-demon ghost to help me get away from him, "'cause I wasn't about to let Maggie or Abigail beg for a full police investigation. They know that we can't bring police snooping around here. Word would get out in town that there'd been a murder out here, and those stupid town kids would come all the way out here hopin' to see a ghost. Couldn't have that. So I just told them that it was somethin' that had to be done. They wouldn't fight me. They know that fightin' me would end in their own deaths."
I tried to ignore him and continue the chant in my head. I needed Liz. I needed her to whack John or Ezekiel with a pipe. I needed to find Simon and Tori and Kit and get back up. I needed to get Derek and me out of here alive. I wasn't sure if my concentration was working, and I was a little worried to rev it up in case it brought in a whole bunch of zombie squirrels or something worse, like the entire contents of the creepy cemetery far behind Ezekiel's house.
Ezekiel's house. That's where we had to be. It was the only building on the property big enough to constitute a basement this large. We weren't as far as I'd originally thought we were. Hope bloomed in my chest, and I only hoped that it would last. "Derek," I murmured just over his shoulder. I was confident that he would hear me, but I was worried that John would, too. I prayed that our enemy wouldn't as I continued to whisper in Derek's ear. "We're in Ezekiel's house. We have to be." He nodded almost imperceptibly. His gaze shifted to John, who was watching the two of us.
I looked back at Ezekiel. It seemed like we had a chance if we kept him talking, like one of those TV criminals that only want to boast about what they've done. If we made him talk long enough, maybe someone would come to rescue us. "And they just let you?" I asked.
Ezekiel reached into the drawer and came back with a cardboard box of bullets. Tears of fear and frustration started to rise in my eyes. I didn't want to cry in front of Ezekiel, in case he saw that as some sort of victory, but I didn't want to draw attention to myself by wiping them away, either. I blinked rapidly, trying to get them to go away, and leaned into Derek to protect me. His entire body was tense and rigid. His fingers were tight around my wrist, not in a way that was painful, but in a way that said he needed me as close to him as possible, and he wasn't planning on letting go.
"They had to. That's the beauty of it all." Ezekiel answered. "My father passed the compound on to me, and I was to pass it on to my son. But he and my wife died in a car accident nearly twenty years ago. With no heirs of my own, it would've had to be passed on to Abigail, and Abigail would've given it to Chelsea in due time. That girl was useless, and she would've ran this place into the ground. With Chelsea removed from the equation, there was a chance for survival for the rest of us."
I thought back to Abigail's tear-stained face. She was being honest, I realized, and so was Maggie when I'd seen her cry, but they'd known all along who had killed Chelsea, and they hadn't done anything to stop it or avenge it. I didn't understand why they were so willing to accept it. Even if this place was as backwoods as it seemed, which I had a feeling it wasn't, it shouldn't have been acceptable. I glanced at John again. His eyes were blank, and his body was relaxed. If we made a mad dash for it now, we might've made it. I took a step towards him, but John stiffened the moment he saw me move.
Okay then, that won't work, I thought. So where did we go from there? If it did come down to a fight, Derek would absolutely have to take John, even though John had already won twice before. And that would leave me to face off with Ezekiel, but he had a gun, and his abilities could more easily win a fight. Unless, of course, I had a zombie army that was slowly making its way to me. But I couldn't know that for sure, and I wasn't willing to risk it.
I realized that Ezekiel was still speaking, but it sounded like he was just talking circles around himself, telling me repeatedly that it was the way of life, that everything had to die eventually, and he shouldn't be so attacked for helping it speed along. I zoned him out and tried to focus on John. For once, I wanted to meet his eyes. I wanted him to look at me directly. Maybe, if he felt sorry about killing Chelsea when she probably would've been no real harm, he would help us, or at least pretend to look the other way while we escaped.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a pipe move across the wall. I wasn't sure at first, because the corners of the room were still dark where the light hadn't managed to touch it. I squinted into the darkness. Sure enough, there it was again, the slight movement. It didn't make a sound, like it had been floating instead of being dragged. It moved a little closer, and then I was able to see who was holding it. I let out a sigh of relief, which Derek didn't miss. It was just my luck that my only ghostly friend was a telekinetic half-demon in life. In death, she was like an invisible warrior.
Liz drifted slowly down the wall, holding the pipe about an inch off the ground behind her. There was a determined look on her face as she approached John. I tried not to watch too closely, unless someone caught me staring and put two and two together. But I didn't manage to keep my gaze from her before long. "Derek," I whispered in his ear. I stood on my tiptoes, so my lips were practically touching his ear. "The wall." He glanced back at me, and then followed my gaze to where the pipe was moving. Immediately, he looked away. His entire body was still tense, but this time it wasn't from panic. He was ready to fight.
I settled into a stance that Derek and Simon had taught me – feet shoulder-width apart, fists loose but ready to tighten and punch on a moment's notice. They hadn't taught me much, and Derek kept telling me that if I saw the chance to run, I should take it, but he'd taught me a little about protecting myself. Liz and I made eye contact, and then she lifted the pipe and brought it down towards John in one quick movement. It would've been a clean hit if John hadn't moved at the last second. The pipe missed hitting him on the head and instead came down on his shoulder. He yelled out, dropping to his knees. Ezekiel turned and aimed the gun right at me. Derek jumped into action.
For a moment, everything was in slow motion. John was trying to stand up, his hand resting on top of the shoulder Liz had bashed him. Liz was trying to hit him again, this time horizontally like she was holding a baseball bat. John just barely ducked it, and she tried to whack him on the backswing. Ezekiel was aiming his gun right at me, the long barrel shining black and extremely cold. Derek stepped in front of me, and the fear that he was going to get shot nearly tore me down right there. I leapt towards the stairs, because if there was anything I would be able to do, it was get help.
I dodged John and ran up the stairs. The basement door was by the stairs coming down from the back porch. I finally made my way up and broke left, trying to get around the house. I barely reached the back steps to the house when the door opened and Maggie stepped out, carrying a glass of sweet tea. The shock on her face was clear; she hadn't been expecting to see me running across the backyard. I didn't know if that meant that she didn't know Ezekiel had captured me, or if she just hadn't thought that I would escape. She dropped her glass of sweet tea. The sound of the glass shattering was louder than ever in my panic.
I made it to the corner of the house before someone grabbed a hold of me and tackled me to the ground. I struggled to get away, flinging my elbows and my knees around, hoping that they would connect with something just long enough for me to break free. I just barely managed to see John's face. I couldn't help it; I let out a scream, one that was so loud I thought I'd broken my own eardrums. I whimpered, trying to get away, but I knew that next to his superior strength, I wouldn't get anywhere. That didn't keep me from struggling though, and at one point, I managed to hit him in the face with my elbow. It probably wouldn't have done much, but it was something.
A shadow crossed over the two of us, and John was pulled off of me. Derek loomed above me, and I instinctively reached up to him, like a small child. He grabbed a hold of my hands and hauled me to my feet. He pushed me forward, and we both took off running. We managed to get onto the path, and we took off down the road. Derek was shortening his stride so he wasn't far from me, and he was trying to stay behind me. We heard the sound of Ezekiel and John on the path, and Derek burst forward. He picked me up effortlessly. I wrapped my arms around his neck and hoped that he wouldn't trip and drop me.
In the distance, I could see doors opening. They'd probably heard my scream. Kit stepped out onto the path. A little farther down was the cabin that we'd decided to secretly inhabit. I could see the door swing open and Simon step out, closely followed by Tori. A third cabin door opened. Abigail stood on the threshold, griping her embroidered handkerchief. Simon was already running towards us, Tori following close behind. I took the chance to look over Derek's shoulder.
Ezekiel was standing at the end of the path, closer than I thought he had been. He had the rifle raised, his eye to the scope attached on the top. "Derek!" I screamed, because I knew that with one shot, Ezekiel could kill us both. "Duck!" My words were torn away in the fray of it all. Ezekiel stood there for a moment longer, and I wanted to just close my eyes. But I didn't.
John leapt forward all of a sudden, his hand going around the barrel of the rifle. He yanked it down at the same time Ezekiel pulled the trigger. The crack was loud enough that jerked away, trying to bury myself closer to Derek. His grip on me tightened. We made it a few more feet before Derek's entire body jerked. I screamed in terror. He stumbled for a moment, but kept running until we passed Simon, Tori, and Kit. He stopped, breathing heavily, and set me carefully down on my feet.
I turned to look at John and Ezekiel. I was so confused; John had been the one that had killed Chelsea, but he was also the one who diverted Ezekiel's bullet. It would've no doubt hit one of us if he hadn't intervened. At the end of the path, John was standing with Ezekiel's rifle pointed to the ground, the mastermind behind the entire murder was lying on the dirt, and he wasn't moving.
"He's dead." John called out. He looked down at the rifle and tossed it to the side. "I didn't mean to hit him that hard." He added. He sounded sad, and cold. I stepped forward, and to my surprise, Derek didn't try to stop me. I lingered by Simon. We were at least fifteen yards away from each other.
"Why'd you stop him?" I called out, keeping a hand on Simon's shoulder. "Why bother, when you killed Chelsea?"
"Ezekiel forced my hand when it came to Chelsea. I wasn't about to let him kill a wolf or his mate." He answered. "The mate comes first, then the pack, and then everyone else. I chose to do what I did. Now I suggest you get out of here while you can." He said. He kicked the rifle to the side and disappeared into the shadows. I stood there for a moment longer, feeling like there was a hard ball sitting somewhere in my stomach. John had saved us, but he'd also killed Chelsea. What were we going to do with him now?
I glanced behind me to ask Derek, but before I could even get a few words out, a terrified scream broke out of my mouth. My throat was already starting to get sore, but I couldn't help it. I was so sure that John had protected us from being hit by one of Ezekiel's bullets when in fact, he hadn't. Derek leaned against the side of a cabin, his eyelids drooping closed. His hand was on his shoulder, and when he moved it, his fingers were slicked with blood.
"Derek!" I yelled as I swooped beside him. Blood had never really made me feel sick, but I hadn't really wanted to touch it. Still, I didn't hesitate to press my hands to the wound on his shoulder, knowing that even if there was a bullet embedded in there, we had to stop the bleeding or else he would die. Fear was in every ounce of blood my heart pumped as the tears I'd been holding back came to my eyes. "You'll be okay," I forced out. Derek's bloodied hand reached out to touch my wrist, leaving a crimson handprint. "Stay with me, okay? Please, Derek!" I called out. He must've not heard me, because his eyes closed.
# # #
I paced back and forth in the living room of Kit's cabin. John had disappeared, but Abigail and Maggie had come over to lend their help. I had tried to get rid of them at first, because the two of them had basically let Chelsea die without trying to stop Ezekiel. But Maggie had medical training from her days as a nurse, and Abigail was too broken up to do anything but follow her mother everywhere. In the whole mess of things, while Simon and Kit had tried to drag Derek into a cabin, I'd turned around and yelled at the two of them. Abigail had started crying again, which made me feel guilty, but Maggie had just given me a cool look and said, "If we wanted our lives, we didn't have a choice. He's gone now, and a part of me only wishes that it would've happened sooner."
After that, I let them in the cabin. Maggie had taken a pair small tongs from her house, which she'd heated over a flame to disinfect. After they'd cooled down, she pried apart the bloodied edges of Derek's skin. The bullet had gone into his back, close to his shoulder. Luckily, Maggie said, it was a wild shot and hadn't really hit anything important. The muscle would have to heal, and that might take a while, but none of his bones had been broken and none of his arteries had been cut. It took nearly twenty minutes, but Maggie finally found the bullet and pulled it out, dropping it into a glass half-filled with water. She then brought out a sewing needle and a string. She sewed his skin back together, and while they were quick and not made with official equipment, the sutures were pretty even. Maggie took some gauze from a first aid kit and taped it over his back. She left instructions for him to take an aspirin when he woke up, then stood up to leave.
I'd walked Maggie and Abigail to the door. Abigail had stepped out onto the path, but Maggie had lingered over the threshold. She turned to look at me, and rested a gentle hand on my shoulder. I fought the urge to shrug her off. I didn't trust her, but she had taken care of Derek. "My brother was cold-hearted. He took after his father. I always knew that I was the daughter of a different man, so I took the punishments Ezekiel's father put onto me, and forgave Ezekiel for growing up in his shadow. Abigail and I didn't know that he plotted Chelsea's death until after she was gone, and what was I going to do then?" Her voice wavered as tears came to her eyes. "A part of me hates John for what he did, but I know it was all to keep us safe. I'm sure he'll be gone from here soon enough, and without Ezekiel to bare down on all of us, we'll prosper. You and your friends should be going as soon as your werewolf is prepared to travel, for your safety. But we're always here, if you happen to need a place to stay."
I looked her right in the eyes, and she stared back at me. I could see the tears, and I knew that she was telling the truth. And so I just nodded, gave her a low thank you, and promised that we'd be out of there as soon as possible.
Now, I was pacing back and forth. Derek was lying face down in Kit's bed. We'd left him in there to get some rest. Maggie said he must've blacked out from a combination of pain and blood loss. Since we didn't have any blood transfusion equipment, we'd just have to hope that he could wake up soon so we could feed him.
"Are you okay?" Liz asked. She'd watched Maggie silently the entire time. I hadn't even had a chance to thank her yet for stepping in to help us.
"I'm fine," I answered. The others looked up at the sound of my voice, but they didn't question my talking out loud anymore. I'd already told them that Liz had been the diversion we needed to get out of the basement. Tori had shown some excitement at the arrival of her dead best friend, but she hadn't really said that much. She was as solemn as the rest of us. I knew that even though she and Derek got into fights more often than not, Tori didn't want him to die. As much as they got on each other's nerves, they were part of the same family now. Liz offered me a tiny smile. "Thank you," I told her as sincerely as I could. "if you hadn't showed up, we probably wouldn't have made it out of the basement."
Liz shrugged. "What else is a ghost to do?" Her smile was bright, but I could tell by the look in her eyes that she wished she was alive with the rest of us, sitting on the couch, wedged in between Tori and Simon. And even though she wasn't, she was still a friend to me. "Anyway, I came because I heard you calling. You're going to move soon, right?"
"That's the plan." I answered. "I have the feeling that we'll be running for a long time." Kit looked up at that, but he didn't say anything else. Instead, he stood up and went to check up on Derek for the seventeenth time since Maggie left. "Where will you go?"
"Oh, I'll roam." Liz answered. "At first, I was looking around, trying to see if anyone had figured out how to get out of limbo. But now… well, I guess I'm stuck here for a while, so I might as well travel, right? I always wanted to travel when I was younger, but we never had any time. I'm going to go see all the things that I wished I could've. I have all the time in the world now." She smiled sadly. "But if you ever need me again, you call. I'll come running. I promise."
"I owe you so much." I told her.
"That's what friends are for. Tell Tori by for me, okay? I don't know when I'll be seeing you again. And as much as I love to see you guys, let's just say that you always seem to be getting into trouble so… hopefully it's later than sooner."
I couldn't help but laugh. "I promise. Goodbye, Liz. And good luck." She gave me a salute with two fingers, and then she was gone. I stood there for a moment longer, waiting for something, I don't know what.
"Chloe," Kit said suddenly. I looked over at him. He was standing in the doorway to Derek's room. "He's awake, and he's asking for you."
I practically tripped over myself to get to the room. Kit went to the kitchen to find something for Derek to eat. I burst into the room. Derek had rolled over and was sitting up on the bed, trying to keep his back straight. I sat gingerly on the edge, afraid to touch him. He reached out with his good arm and brought me closer.
"You took a bullet for me." I whispered to him.
"I told you that I'd take care of you, no matter what. I love you, Chloe Saunders." He replied in the same low tone.
"I love you, too, Derek Souza," I answered, aware of the fact that I was being completely honest. I loved him with all of my heart, and it was the kind of love that just doesn't stop. Derek smiled and pulled me closer, kissing me fiercely.
# # #
A few days had passed, and Derek was officially allowed to leave. We hadn't gotten an opinion from Maggie, since she did tell us to leave as soon as he was up to it. Derek had been ready to pack up and leave the day after he was shot, but Kit wouldn't hear of it. Finally, though, we'd packed up all of our things, and we were going to get in our van and move on.
Derek hated to look like he needed any assistance, but he usually accepted mine, because he could play off that he was just holding me close because he wanted to, and not because it hurt his entire back to move. He'd been living off of aspirin and microwave meals for days now. After Simon and Kit tossed all of our bags into the back, Derek and I climbed into the third row of seats. Tori took the row in front of us, and Simon decided to sit up front and play navigator for his dad. It felt a little strange, since the last time we'd all been in the car, Aunt Lauren had been with us. I couldn't help but wonder, for a moment, where she was now.
Kit started the van and drove up to the gates. We hadn't said goodbye to anyone. Our stay here had been a little bit of a horror movie, to be honest, and we were all glad to have survived with only small amounts of damage.
Unlike last time, Derek took the pillow and the blanket that I'd offered him, and he kept me close. We rode in silence until we'd gotten out of the compound and had navigated our way back to the highway. Tori had the entire bench seat to herself, and was using it as a foot rest. "Where are we going, anyway?" She asked, digging through her bag for another one of her books. We'd stopped by a few secondhand bookshops along the way, and Tori had always headed straight for the classics; the more pages, the better.
"Who knows?" I answered. She glanced over at me, and I was almost surprised to see a smile on her face. It was slight, and a little more of a smirk than a smile, but we were getting there. I didn't think that we'd ever get rid of her cynical sarcasm, and I sort of didn't want to anymore.
"We'll know when we get there." Kit said from the front, smiling into the rearview mirror. I couldn't help but smile back. I was glad that we'd gotten out of there alive. I was happy that we'd solved Chelsea's murder, and the mastermind behind all of it had been punished for what he'd done. We hadn't seen John for the remainder of the time we were there, so I never got the chance to thank him, but I wasn't sure if I really would've.
"Let's put the adventures on hold for a little while, though," Derek said, his voice low.
"I'm with you on that." Simon piped in.
I wove my fingers with Derek's. "Yeah. I don't know if I can handle another one of your adventures anytime soon."
So, what did you guys think? We've reached the end! It caused this to be a pretty long chapter, but I know you guys can handle it. Like I always say, it's a bit bittersweet to finish a fanfiction. I hoped you all enjoyed it as much as I did.
Please excuse any grammatical or spelling errors, I usually try to skim over them but I may not have caught them all. I wanted to thank you, reader, for taking the time to follow this all the way to the end. You're so awesome. Please, leave me a review of your thoughts. If you have a question that absolutely needs to be answered, feel free to send me a private message, and I'll type back as soon as possible. (:
I have several other Darkest Powers fanfics that I would love for you to read. For more adventure, you can read Half-Breeds, which is about Chloe and Derek's children, Whitney and Zander. When Chloe and Derek are captured by a rebuilding Edison Group, the kids decide to go after them, at the risk of becoming experiments themselves.
I also have The Hidden Truth, which is about a girl, Mina, who was one of subjects in the Genesis II experiment. Chloe, Derek, Simon, and Tori find her using the list they stole from Edison Group headquarters, and Mina must find a way to protect her friends and family while also finding answers about herself.
And for Chlerek fans, I have a oneshot, The Happiest Day, which is about Derek and Chloe's wedding.
Thank you all for being so fantastic! Peace (: