Note: Quick thank you to msmafer12, HAJ, Maisy C, Munchie16, Frenchie12, Nastya, danakimie519, Bailey, simplysteffv, Samantha Ree, and just all the guests and people who've read and stuck by. It's really motivating to see your thoughts and responses, and overall that you've kept following the story even though I left it for quite some time. Thank you again for sticking in with it!
Fourty minutes north through twisting and turning streets, they ended up at an old looking building. Far bigger than what she'd imagined in her mind. They shut their doors simultaneously, walking around the front of his truck to face the abandoned building.
"I have a bad feeling about this," she mumbled to him.
And unexpectedly, he agreed with a nod of his head and a shove of his hands into his pockets. He looked down at her.
Chapter Six: Ride
"Lead the way," she told him, waiting until he actually took his eyes off of her and began to walk.
She followed along at his side, making sure to keep up with his long strides which she knew he'd slowed because of her. Looking at the surroundings around them, which weren't many, she saw a small building opposite the dirt road with a small white car parked to the side which looked like it hadn't been driven in a couple of years. The building they were approaching was a one-story at least, but the front doors were locked with the windows broken and covered in wood planks. Jake shook the door, trying a hard knock as well, but there was no answer. Not a single sound came from within the middle of the dirt lot they were in, with a long, uneven gravel road that was just to the side of the lonely highway. With the gray clouds looming over them, threatening more wind and some rain, it all made her feel a lot more nervous about it. Jake touched her arm nearly causing her to jump out of her skin. He pulled his hand back instantly, seeing the frightened look on her face.
"Let's go around the back," he suggested, keeping his voice low. She went along, though she felt an arguement rising up her throat. If it was locked up the way it was, it was for a reason. She was sick of them getting themselves into situations they could have avoided had they simply butted out. But as she reminded herself again, she had come along for the ride, this was Jake's...adventure.
"Why would your grandfather send us here?"
"He said old friend," Jake simply stated. "He probably hasn't seen the place in a while."
"A long while."
Strangely enough, there was a back entrance, and even stranger still, it wasn't blocked. They both looked at eachother with frowns, knowing this was incredibly suspicious. Without saying a word, Jake went in first almost hitting his head on the hanging wood that had obviously been there for some time. It looked like it had been kicked in at some point and Diana walked in behind him, hands at her sides, ready for a fight should she have to be in one. Reluctantly, of course.
There was no way to silence her steps. There was steel and metal everywhere, causing even more of an echo than what might have been had the random doors and walls not been there. Handmade, she noticed. All the metal looked to have been sealed together by a torch. As if these doors and walls were going to be put around the place to keep out...what exactly? The place didn't look like it had ever been a jewelry shop. It looked like a wearhouse, if anything.
Jake's hand reached out, like he was making sure she was directly behind him and to test the theory, she leaned close enough to him and his fingers brushed the sleeve of her peacoat. His hand dropped back to his own side and she watched his profile as she walked forward, meeting his pace, wondering if he'd done it without realizing he had because that was exactly how it looked.
Diana stilled beside him just as he did, taking in the place around them. It didn't feel like they were alone and she guessed Jake had picked up on it as well.
And if she'd felt an ominous feeling sink deep within her veins from the moment they'd stepped out of Jake's truck, it only intensified when Jake seemingly slipped without a step taken and began sliding along the floor.
"What-" Jake's words were cut off the moment he picked up speed, as if something invisible had taken hold of his leg and was running him along the dirty concerete floor. Bits of jagged, broken metal kicked up as Jake flung himself around, trying with failed attempt at stopping his movements. Diana ran forward to keep up as she thought of simply grabbing onto his lifted arms, not knowing what to do when he gave out a strangled noise as his whole body picked up and flew into the wall opposite of the room.
Before she could even reach him, Diana felt herself move as well. She must've spun more times than she figured because when she flung to the ground, smacking her elbow against the hard floor before the rest of her body followed, her head was swimming.
She could hear Jake call for her distantly, but it took a moment for her to find her limbs and push herself up. Her head lifted and she blew the bangs away from her eyes, seeing a figure through her own dark strands. An unfamiliar face grinned down at her, freezing her in place when what was etched into his skin - in his right palm was held up to her. Jake called for her again, but not even her eyes would move. Her breathing slowed, though she could still feel her heart beating hard and fast.
This guy had the same branded burn, a scar that matched her own.
Blackwell. Hadn't he said more Balcoin children were coming to find the rest of them to bind them in one circle? She could hear more people moving around, Jake giving a sharp yell in pain. Diana's whole body felt stiff, and instead of cold she felt hot. She could feel the beginnings of sweat around her hairline, seeing the guy before her beginning to frown a bit. He looked over her, his eyes squinting as if trying to figure something out. She wanted to scream for him to say something. To at least have the decency to tell her what he was meaning to do.
Jake gave out another yell, her name falling out of his mouth in a strained gas. She noticed he was closer now, before he started yelling again.
It was one thing right after another now, and even getting a single piece of information was dangerous at this point in their lives.
When her eyes finally snapped towards Jake who was fifteen feet more or less away, she let out a harsh breath riding on a groan. It was difficult, her own magic that let her break through whatever trance the guy was holding over her. A half sibling. And apparently meaning to cause her harm as well as Jake who was now laying face down, spitting out against the concrete floor with blood dripping from his nose. Diana's eyes blinked back up to the stranger. His eyes were darker than her own, his hair as well, or so it looked. He narrowed his questioning gaze at her, taking a step forward with determination written there now as he thrusted his palm forward.
Diana could feel the effect of it come over her like a hot flash that settled over her skin, which might have made it impossible for her to move had she not had the same magic to compete with. She imagined shoving that feeling back at him and his eyes widened as she felt her fingers beginning twitch against the cold concrete beneath her.
So much for not using her dark magic. Right now, she knew any other choice would have quite possibly ended Jake's life, and she wasn't ready for that. It wasn't supposed to happen. Hadn't Cameron said she wouldn't have a problem with it, though? She didn't have time to differ between the two choices.
"Guys!" The guy before her called out, but Jake's yelling thankfully drowned out his weakening voice and Diana felt her chest beginning to move with her quickening breaths. The cold air that hit against her damp forehead was like a warning, telling her it was taking a great amount of strength to compete with his trained magic. But whether she was stronger because her power was newer, or because whomever had been his mother hadn't been stronger than her own - she seemed to be riding over whatever magic he was using against her and slowly, she began to work up to a kneel until she was able to lift her own hand against him. Her palm grew as warm as the rest of her was, the tips of her fingers the only part of her skin that felt cold from the air around them.
The stranger kneeled down as she just had been, staring at her palm with shock written all over his face.
He'd had no idea who she was when he'd started.
And he was already sinking to the floor when she was finally able to stand up, her back slowly straightening.
When Diana looked up to see Jake was still being tossed around, his side hit the wall until hitting the floor directly after. The two standing over him, not paying any attention to what was happening behind them, were talking amongst one another and she was too far to pick up any words, but she could hear the creepy smiles in their voices and a strange anger flashed through her. Knowing these had to be two more of her half siblings, which should have meant something to her, but seeing what they were doing in the way it was being done, disgusted her.
For only a couple of seconds, she'd thought about her other siblings the moment they'd come up. Diana wasn't sure what she'd expected before, but this wasn't it. Maybe for them to be more like her and Cassie? To be more understanding and stopping their worse natures to see what was right, rather than doing wrong. Cassie struggled with it, but even she was good at heart. These three though, who were they? Why were they doing this? She wondered just how much influence John Blackwell had had over them as they grew up. If it was any greater than the few weeks she'd had. Was that all the time it took in changing someone's good nature, assuming they had one to begin with?
She took her hand away from the guy she was stepping over at that point and focused her hand towards the strangers backs as well as all of her anger and disgust in them. With a small grunt, she turned her hand to the right side of the entire place, sending them through the air only to both smack into the wall all the way to the opposite side. One stayed still where they fell, but the other groaned, his leg moving along with his body. Diana rushed forward, trying to pick him up, but failing. He turned, glancing up at her and raising his own palm against her.
And somehow, once again, she was the stronger of the two and she quickly chalked it up to him being out of it just enough.
His whole body picked up and slammed into the wall behind him, smacking into it hard enough the second time to make him still when he hit the floor again, and Diana sank down to her knees feeling incredibly tired.
Why was her circle such an easy target all the time? Surely there were other circles to attack, with more experience at that? Then again, what other circle had two Blackwell's within the same circle?
Her thoughts were ended when a grumbled noise came from behind her. A snorting through his nostrils as Jake held a steel pipe against the strangers neck, the one she'd completely forgotten about. He pulled the guy even closer into him still, any noises from him cut off just as his face went completely red. His nails scratched at Jake in a wasteful attempt, because Jake wasn't letting go anytime soon. With blood smeared from his nose acrossed his cheek, his darkened green eyes looked to Diana and she finally gained a voice and more energy to stand up.
"Jake-" He stared back at her, his own face twisted as he faught with the guy to...do what exactly? Kill him? "Jake, don't!"
She wasn't sure why she shouldn't have just let him kill him. Should someone who'd attacked them live? Especially when they'd meant to kill every witch they could?
Every witch besides that of Balcoin bloodline.
Even as she thought it, part of her screamed that it was because it simply wasn't right. But nowadays, nothing seemed right.
Jake wobbled on his own feet, obviously hurt, though she couldn't tell where besides his face.
"He's a Blackwell..."
Like she'd said some magic word, the guys eyes slowly closed, his whole body going slack as his arms dangled. Jake dropped him, tossing the metal rod away from them a few beats after realizing the guy wasn't going to pop back up. The metal clinked against the floor as Diana lifted her eyes from the guy to Jake, seeing he was staring back at her still.
"I know what they are. I saw the mark." He blinked slowly at her, breathing heavily as if he were close to collapsing, limping a single step back.
She realized then that the reason she hadn't wanted Jake to kill him wasn't necessarily because the "old Diana" wouldn't have wanted it this way. It had to do with her not wanting this to be one more death for Jake to hang over himself.
And that's exactly what she told Royce sitting before him, waiting for Jake to come back from the bathroom. Royce had offered to heal Jake, saying he could help with a bit of his magic when they'd limped back into his warm house. Well, Jake had limped, Diana had swayed.
They must have looked like quite a team.
But Jake mumbled a no and decided on grabbing the bag he'd brought with him before disapearing down the hallway, limping all the way.
His blood was thinned by the water that continued down the drain as he shut off the faucet, the sound of the water making a gurgling sound before he was left in silence after cleaning the blood from his face. Above his top lip was a definite bruise forming, left from where he'd hit the floor the second time he'd been tossed around. His eyes shut briefly as he tried to push the sound of it out of his memory.
To anyone, it might've looked like they'd been ambushed. That someone would have known they'd been coming, but he knew better. They - Blackwell or not - hadn't had a plan or they wouldn't had been taken over so easily by just two people. Or, as easily as two against three could. No, they had no plan other than having one rush off to deal with the girl, while the other two were meant to take the guy down. That guy being himself.
Jake shoved the newly stained, pink cloth into his duffle, knowing that leaving his blood around, even deluded, was never a good idea.
It was obvious no one else had been in that old "jewelry shop", so where would he get answers now? Going any further into it seemed more dangerous now that they'd nearly been killed.
It had taken some effort in getting to the end of the hallway without one of them hearing his clunking feet, especially now that he'd hurt his knee. What with all the forceful slapping into walls and floors and what-not, he'd been bound to get hurt more than the bruising that was sure to show up in various places.
There was a deep and low murmering in his grandfather's tone that became more clear as he grew closer, stopping just beyond the corner leading into the living room to eavesdrop. He didn't think on if it was his business to hear what was being said. He figured there were more important things to worry about than him hearing something being discussed while he was under the same roof.
"Seems like an Armstrong thing," he heard Diana say then.
There was a long pause before anything else was said.
"Well, we've all got our demons." Another long pause before his grandpa decided to add in on something. "You said you didn't want him holding more deaths over his head - you weren't just talking about his parents, were you?" It didn't fully sound like a question, and Jake's stomach nearly dropped.
Diana took an audible breath before answering him. "Your grandson is one of the bravest people I've ever met in my life. You should be proud."
But what should have been a happy moment for Jake to hear from his dad's father, simply wasn't. He came around the corner then, seeing Diana visibly straighten almost as if she was startled he'd been there.
"Why did you tell us before noon, grandpa?" Jake took another step. "Because we got there before noon, and we were attacked."
Royce turned in his seat, his eyes differing between confusion and complete boredom.
"I don't know. I- I can't remember..."
Just as Jake figured, someone had to have been tampering with his mind; his memories. There were holes and things missing, like the fact that his house was now looking like an actual home. How on the outside he looked like some normal old man, living his life as he deemed, but he knew better. This wasn't his grandfather, and it wasn't how he'd been for sixteen years now. People didn't just change overnight like this.
He dropped his bag and looked towards Diana.
"We're heading back before dark."
"Nonsense," his grandfather said loudly before Jake could say anything further, setting down his mug that no doubt filled with coffee or tea, before standing up. "At least stay one more night. I've got board games around here somewhere. You're not in any hurry, right?" He looked back down at Diana for that one and she shrugged, looking back up at him.
"Don't you have school?" Jake asked in a threatening tone, which she obviously wasn't in the least bothered by.
"I don't have a spare change of clothes, is what I don't have."
Jake groaned, watching as his grandpa grinned warmly to the both of them. They were both acting as if this was some family visit and they were going to play Monopoly...
"There's a small shopping court right before you hit the thicker trees leading here, isn't there?"
Jake narrowed his eyes at her, wondering why on earth she wanted so badly to stay. It wasn't like this was some theme park to be excited about. This was his grandfathers house. His grandfather, who couldn't seem to remember sending them into a death trap let alone why he'd sent them in the first place.
"Take my truck," his grandpa said, making Jake roll his eyes as he reached for his jacket that was sprawled over the hardwood floors. Sometime when he'd walked in, he'd chucked it off and forgotten it until now.
"We're taking mine," Jake told them both. "Let's make this quick."
"But your knee-"
"Is fine. Let's go."
Diana grabbed her own jacket that had been next to her and stood while frowning at him, and somehow he just knew she was going to argue.
"If you'd just let your grandpa heal you like he said he could..." She walked forward, politely grinning to Royce before she was close enough to Jake to let her grin drop from her face, and continue with what she was saying. "At the very least, you wouldn't be in so much pain."
He leaned down giving her a tight and sarcastic sort of smirk as she passed him. And when she turned after opening the door, waiting for him to hobble through it, he said, "I'm not in pain, I'm in discomfort".
"You two be careful," Royce called out to them, which Jake snorted at as Diana shut the door behind.
Of course he was in pain, and he knew she was fully aware of it, but he wasn't about to admit anything. And he hadn't been lying. He was in discomfort; in more discomfort than in pain. He still had no answers for whatever the gold, glass tube was in his pocket. He was now aware his grandfather was quite literally losing his mind. They'd gotten passed being beaten to death by other Blackwell children that had apparently been working their way down, first stopping at an abandoned jewelry shop before hitting up Chance Harbor. Why they'd been there was lost on him. All the while Diana's father was some demon-vegetable being watched over both by Faye's mother, and Diana's grandmother who'd once tried killing Cassie. Jane Blake had mysteriously died, and Cassie and Diana had both been forced to kill their own biological father of whom they'd only met weeks before. His own brother had suspiciously killed himself before being brought back to life only to be killed again, by his girlfriend turned ex because of his first death...
To lie and say he wasn't in discomfort would be difficult to do, even for him.
He stood at the end of the counter, watching the guy ring up the few items of what Diana had quickly picked out, for which he'd been thankful for. The guy behind the counter without a name tag smiled numerously at her, which she politely grinned back to only catching on once. Jake could tell she wasn't paying any mind to the attention she was being given. He wondered if he'd ever be bothered if Diana had started dating again. Assuming the unknown - Grant, had officially given up. And as soon as those thoughts rose, he quickly cleared his throat in a physical attempt as erasing them.
As they walked out, or in Jake's case weakly tried to not look hurt while walking, she sighed heavily and he watched as the cloud of her breath expanded before disapearing into the cold.
"I'm gonna have to get a job."
"My grandmother is staying to take care of the house according to Faye's mom, but... I need my phone. I need my car. I need to keep up appearence. And I- I can't go back there."
Jake tried sounding sympathetic, which he actually felt, but he couldn't seem to convey it in his voice. Diana didn't seem to notice.
"Are you gonna stay with Cassie then?"
"I don't know."
"You have school tomorrow, you know."
He knew things had changed, but he also knew this wasn't like Diana. To give up on leading a normal life when everything else was so screwed up. School had to be the only thing that felt normal to her, to any of them really, but out of all of them Diana would be most likely to...succeed, for lack of a better term.
But he was a hypocrite. Not thinking of how Diana was personally, he would have told her to drop out, or simply leave as he did. They had too much going on, and if all of them left school, it would be better time spent in protecting themselves. Even if Dawn and Kate were willing to help them, he wasn't too sure if they should trust them. If they hadn't really been able to protect them thus far, who's to say they would in the future? Then again, the more to join meant more to fight off whatever was threatening to come, even if Kate didn't have power anymore. But he was pretty sure neither of them would be so Gung Ho about them leaving school, as well as a handful of the people in town. Who would care if it rose a few eyebrows though? So long as they were safe and bypassed what was coming next? Eventually, they'd lead normal lives again, but nothing would ever be normal for them because they weren't normal people.
And things right now were chaos.
Even so, he wanted to push the fact that school was tomorrow and she only had a week left of it before graduating, and then summer would start and they'd have all the time in the world to focus on staying safe. Until school started again of course. But it was all feeble attempt.
Something was telling him he wasn't only considering all of this because he happened to be part of the circle. Even if that was the excuse he wanted to come back at himself with.
Cameron entered his mind. He hadn't even thought of him on purpose, yet there he was. His voice was there as well as what he was saying that had stuck in Jake's mind the moment he'd heard it. And the more he tried to push it away, the clearer the words became.
"We're the best things that ever happen in your life, so I suggest you appriciate us a lot more."
And then there was Faye's question, which pissed him off now because he felt if she hadn't have put her nose where it didn't belong, the question wouldn't have gotten an answer, and he wouldn't have had to think over it like he was now. Or as he did while watching Diana's sleeping form last night, wondering why he was watching her sleep at all considering how creepy it seemed, and how strange it felt. Strange because something that he'd otherwise consider creepy, didn't feel creepy in the least.
"So, who does Diana end up remarrying?"
Jake hit the stearing wheel with the flat palm of his hand, seeing Diana nearly jump out of her seat in response.
"What isn't wrong?" He asked in a surprisingly steady voice.
She settled back again, looking forward to the road ahead of them as they drove back. And she said nothing in reply.
True to fashion, Royce wasn't in the house when they arrived, though his truck was there. Jake instantly wanted to hold up some white flag like some cartoon, admitting to surrender before being ambushed again. It was beginning to really crack his ego, which he prefered to be in the exact place it was.
"He's probably chopping firewood," Jake informed her, though he found he was the only one really hoping for it. But the basket beside the mantel that normally held the wood was empty, so he took into consideration that maybe not all things led somewhere particularily life-threatening.
"I'm gonna change then. Maybe look for some board games while we're waiting..."
Jake rolled his eyes, but against his annoyance called for her before she walked into the bathroom and stared at her a second longer than he knew what was necessary. She grew uneasy, standing there with her hair half wet from the rain.
"Just...not Monopoly? I hate Monopoly."
An unexpected grin stretched over her mouth before she walked into the bathroom and shut the door. He sighed, shrugging off his jacket before limping into the livingroom.
Like clockwork, the door opened and the sound of rain and heavy footsteps came through the dim livingroom.
His grandfather looked up to him and grinned wildly.
"Jake! My gosh, what are you doing here?"
He dropped the bundle of wood just outside the back doors and went forward, pulling him into a very father-like hug. And even though Jake wanted to tell him what he'd forgotten, he simply bit down on his lip and hugged the old man back.
Diana didn't even asked as Royce asked who she was with a bright smile on his face, giving her a hug almost as large as the one he'd given Jake. And thankfully, board games were forgotten as they all helped to bring the firewood in, Jake convincing his grandpa to let him work up a fire to let Royce rest, bringing up the same stories he had the very night before. She hadn't minded in the least, asking different questions and getting different responses that she seemed thankful for.
It was incredibly foreign to him, being here at all like this much less with Diana. Even more alien to him was the fact that the two got along and talked with eachother as if they were well aquaintences.
"Let me go get some!"
His grandfather was talking about some pictures of "the kids" whom he meant to be their parents. He patted Jake's shoulder as he went by him, leaving them with the crackling fire.
How exactly did they end up together?
He had no idea why the thought had jumped into his head, but he could kind of guess that it had been lingering around in the corners of his mind since the moment he'd been told him and Diana-
He shoved a log back into the basket, wiping his hands on his jeans as he stood up, moving to the chair which his grandpa hadn't been in, choosing to have rather sat beside Diana on the couch as they swaped stories.
He didn't know why he felt...angry.
It wasn't what Jake wanted, and he could practically guarantee it wasn't what Diana wanted either. That was, them ending up together. It still felt impossible to him. Diana marrying someone who'd killed people before? Diana Meade? And even more morbid was the fact that she'd actually loved this guy - that this guy was going to be him. Being told they'd end up together was quite possibly the one thing that would ruin what Cameron had seemed so eager in restoring. Of course, they didn't know for sure what he'd really been there for. Or did they?
Him and Diana had shared some bond after coming down from the bedroom, and it had been before she'd touched the boy. Before she'd felt that same sensation Jake had. So what was it then?
"What was it Cameron came back for?"
Diana was jolted from whatever pleasantries she'd been thinking of and looked at him with a sudden, and more serious expression.
Jake's eyes narrowed at her. He might've been slow on this one, as well as suspecting anything to the extent of what John Blackwell had been cooking up for all of them, but he was smart otherwise. Isaac had even been one to praise him on it.
But he felt himself questioning his every action, as well as his every thought now.