Secrets of the Night

CHAPTER FOUR

By Stargirl

Alrighty, chapter four is up! If you can, ignore the prologue. I've discarded for awhile now but I don't know how to delete it from FF.net. ^_^;;

* * *

It was happening again. Oh God no, she thought, not at school.

Teens chatted in the hallway of lockers, swarming until they blurred in Serena's vision. Her hand reached out to the closest metal locker. Her head spun. Blinking, she tried to force the unbalanced waves out of her, concentrating her eyes on a smiley face sticker on the locker. Breathe, just breathe. Make it go away. You are not crazy, you are not sick, it will go away. She dipped her head, hoping the curtain of her blonde hair could hide her from her friends.

The flash that sparked like an electric burst around the edge of her vision quickened her heart. God, of all places. Within a minute, the blabber of the school floated a mile away, and all that pounded in her ears was a steady heartbeat.

She wasn't seeing the bustling hallway of Mitchell High anymore, but chaotic images that quickened and slowed, blurred than focused, unbalancing her brain.

Red brown, shapes… Trees? Running, fear. Helplessness. The night.

Serena… a hoarse whispery voice came over the thumps of her heart. Serena, you're the one. You're the one. It came like a magnitude of streams, pouring, moving, and whispering. Serena!

"Ah!" Her body jumped, face flushed as she realized where she was.

"Serena," a voice persisted. But this time it was in the hallway, and it took her a dreadful moment to realize who was before her.

She had to look up at him, before gazing blankly for a moment at the spurts of gold curls, smooth face, and eyes—black eyes. Justin Redfern.

"Uh… hi," she mumbled.

She fidgeted as he looked at her, eyebrow raised.

"You okay?"

"Headache. Just a headache. A bad one though, I should uh, probably go to the nurse and see if she has any aspirin." She attempted a smile.

A smile quirked at Justin's lips. Why did that irk her so much? She was never rash at judging people, but she really, really didn't like that guy.

"Ah, too bad. Hope it'll clear up for next periods history test," his black eyes shone briefly. "I was going to ask you if you knew about the new club that opened?"

Her brow crinkled in desperation. Please, make him just say that it's a cool place and LEAVE. "Um, the Kyrinth? Yeah, I've heard of it."

"Well," he started smoothly, "I guess you can say my father owns it. It's a pretty cool place though. Think I might be able to see you there tonight?"

It wasn't a date, which meant she had no obligation to go. She liked that view and she didn't completely have to force her smile. "Yeah, maybe. I'm a bit busy so I can't say for sure--"

"She'll go!" a voice plunged in behind her and a bunch of red curls bounced in front of her view. Molly Phillips threw a twinkling gaze her way and Serena longed to knock every sweet freckle off her best friend's face.

Molly's head darted to Justin with a perky smile. "She'll DEFINITELY be there. I've been trying to get her to go for over a week!"

A grin cracked Justin's lips, revealing many pearly whites. "Great." He turned his gaze on Serena. "I'll be sure to see you there then. Oh, and you better hurry and get that aspirin for your headache."

Serena paused, wondering if she imagine the mocking tone when he said 'headache,' but then the greater problem sunk in, and she turned to glare at the red-head beside her. "Are you a complete idiot?"

Molly crossed her arms with a lift of her chin. "No, are you?"

She knew that meaning well. Her gaze turned to Justin's retreating form slipping through the sea of teens—like a jaguar among lambs. Ever since he arrived last month, the school fawned over him. Even teachers. He was never reprimanded. No matter how late he was or how indifferent his attitude was. Of course, many times he appeared to be paying rapt attention to the teachers, but his eyes were mocking. She doubted he ever listened to them… and yet he always had an answer when they asked a question…

Girls made excuses just to see him, just to talk to him. He had shrugged off the others with an ease that was disconcerting… an aloofness she wouldn't have expected. And yet his eyes were always intense, often seeming to laugh, as if he knew a secret. And then he'd look at her with those eyes, as if he were sharing that secret and keeping it from her at the same time. He hadn't talked to her much---she would always duck out of it---but she couldn't help but be aware of his gaze on her, even as he was circled by a crowd who never noticed he wasn't listening to them.

He always seemed to know when she was in the room.

And she hated it.

Molly sighed with a roll of her eyes as she applied a shimmery coat of cherry lipstick and fluffed her red curling locks. "Even Evelyn is jealous of the attention he gives you," she exclaimed as she smacked her lips and looked at Serena pointedly.

"Well tell Evelyn that she can have him," Serena said and whirled down the hallway, Molly on her heels. They had the same class next.

"You need to date," Molly said.

"I do not." She was tired of this talk. Just because she didn't think of any of the guys at the school in that way didn't mean there was something wrong with her. Guys asked her all right. She would just refuse as lightly as she could and then beg her friend Andrew to attend the dances with her. He was like the big brother she never had and she enjoyed going with him, even though Molly insisted she go with a guy she could have more romantic relationship with. At first going to the dances with Andrew gave her blissful rest from Molly's pushing, but once the red-head realized she didn't have anything with Andrew besides friendship, the girl became the pest of the century. The sweet girl with red ringlet hair and freckles turned into a military person finding her mission.

Serena slipped into their history class and into a seat near the front, tucking her feet under her chair and sitting up straight. She glanced back when she didn't feel a cool gaze embedded in her back. He wasn't there. She turned back around, relieved but not really surprised. Justin skipped classes a lot. Not that he ever got in trouble for it.

For the next hour she put in a fervent effort to pay attention. When the test had been placed in front of her the text seem to blur. But she knew the material, and once she tackled the test with military discipline she had time to spare. She shuffled through the papers, wondering if she could review it again. But she had been sure of the answers and checked it over three times. History was her favorite subject. Possibly because the teacher was her favorite. She looked up to the teacher who stood by the window with a book in one hand, seeming more like a drama or literature teacher about to fill the room with languid words from Shakespheare. Mr. Gray had cool eyes, artistic hands, and an intelligent face, blonde hair—bordering on white—always pulled back into a loose ponytail. At middle-age, she almost thought of him as her father figure—though she couldn't imagine telling him that. Mr. Gray was unlike any man she had met. Always so poised and—in her opinion—better fitting in the atmosphere of some palace.

She was fascinated by the languages he spoke, the depth of his knowledge of history. He never dressed in jeans or T-shirts like many of the other teachers. He wasn't considerably affectionate to his students, but he would always lend a smile to Serena and let her stay with him after school in the classroom where he would show her odd and very old objects and talk about them. History didn't seem like…well history, with him. She took in the words he said as if they were fairytales being told to a five-year-old.

Actually, as her mind skittered to Justin, she realized Mr. Gray was also the only teacher who showed a dislike to Justin. As if he saw the same thing that she did, which comforted her. It was easy to believe she was being over-reactive with no one else seeing anything wrong.

With a friendly word with Mr. Gray and a "see you after school" she left with the mill of the students. When she was visiting with him after school in the dim room connected to his classroom, she was tense. Her thoughts kept slipping to the new club, unease rolling around in her stomach. Could she feign sickness maybe? No, she thought with a laugh, Molly would never believe that.

She fingered a smooth wooden object that curved long like a humongous tooth on the table, trying to seem like she was studying it in the dim yellow light. "What's this one?" she asked, more to keep up appearances than out of curiosity. She couldn't find it in her to be curious at the moment.

Mr. Gray stood in back of her. "That would be a stake. Very old and unique."

She brow furrowed but then she grinned teasingly. "For what? To kill vampires?" His answer scared her.

"Yes."

He had to be joking. But she knew she didn't fully believe that. She forced out a tight laugh, suddenly feeling cold. "But you don't believe in that kind of stuff."

His pause made her throat tight. His smile crept over his lips, calming her. "No. But then who am I to say what is real?" He picked up the wooden stake and it gleamed under his fingers. "The person who owned this was real though. A beautiful woman with the allure and danger of a lioness." Mr. Gray was watching her carefully. "She claimed to have killed a thousand vampires with this. Her father and mother made it for her—" He traced markings on the wood—"They were very skilled. It's a work of art."

A work of art. She felt relief. That's why he liked the object. To him it was art, the history of some sort of legend. "It's nice," she said and he set the stake down.

She left then. Mr. Gray cast her an odd glance. It wasn't her like her to leave so soon. But she couldn't stay, couldn't bring herself to be interested in history—couldn't keep looking at the unusual stake. She wasn't sure where she wanted to go. Thankfully, it was still too early to leave for the club.

With an idea though, she walked to the mall, steps considerably lighter. She would go see Andrew. She needed to see a friend who wasn't trying to match her up or drag her to a club.

It did wonders on her spirit. A grin was in place as she walked into the café. Her backpack dropped to the ground and she slumped in a chair. "Hey Jane, Andrew here?" she called to a girl behind the counter that had a mop of tiny brown ringlets for hair.

The girl smiled and shouted to the back. "Andrew, get your but out here."

Andrew's blonde head peered out of the door, eyes lightening at Serena. He threw himself into the chair across from her. "Good timing. Joe was just about to make me clean the dishes."

"Fun," Serena said, lips pursed on the edge of their smile.

"So what's up?" He grabbed a soda from the counter and leaned back in the chair.

Serena shrugged. "Just wanted to stop by." She rolled her eyes. "Molly's gotten me into going to that new club---Kyrinth?---tonight. I swear that girl---" She stopped. Andrew's laughter had dropped, the muscles in his arms that showed from his rolled up sleeves taught. "Andrew?" she asked, her voice tentative.

His hand clenched the soda can, the can crushing instantly. And then he shot up from the chair, throwing the can into the trash. His voice was tight. "You can't go there."

She looked at him from where she sat, eyes searching, her gut twisting. "Why?"

His glare sent her mind reeling. "You just can't," he almost shouted. His face softened as he got a grip and realized how he was acting. "Look, Serena, there are things you don't know about it." Green eyes pleaded with hers. "Promise me you won't go."

Serena breathed in slowly and rose from the table. She forced a smile she hoped was encouraging. "I got to go. I'll see you later, Andrew." She pecked his cheek, trying not to notice how his eyes fell and fear entered them.

An hour later, after dropping her bookbag off at home and telling her mom were she'd be, she stood at the bust stop. Molly stood before the open doors of the bus, arms crossed and heeled feet apart, a condescending look swarming in her burning eyes.

Serena lifted her head and met her gaze. She hadn't bothered to change her clothes of jeans and sleeveless pink top.

After a minute Molly rolled her eyes and they both boarded the bus.

* * *

She hated it. Even before they went in. A voice inside screamed to go back when she saw just the metal doors. A huge rose was painted across both, black petals with thorns. Something bothered her about it. Her mind searched itself, but nothing came. Just the feeling.

Molly pursed her lips and said matter-of-factly, "Kyrinth. I heard it means black rose in some language." A smile swept across her face. "You coming?"

Her heartbeat thumped at the base of her neck. Nothing to be afraid of, nothing to be afraid of, she repeated over and over in her mind as they went inside. She flinched. The feelings from outside rose ten notches, scraping at her sanity. Her clammy hands gripped Molly's.

For a moment she was lost, her mind swirling like the colored lights. Oh God, the lights. They flashed all over---blue, red, green, yellow---splashing on the dark forms of partying teens. Acid music vibrated inside her and pounded her eardrums, almost overpowering the sound of her heart. But in those moments her ears went numb to the music, as if it were muffled, and her eyes cast around, taking in the painted walls and blocks of area in flashes. Her breaths were short, hot, and strained, as if she were suffocating.

And then Molly said, "Isn't this great?"

Serena looked to her friend, trying to put her stomach back in place. She hadn't been to many clubs. That was all. She wasn't used to the atmosphere. There was nothing _really_ wrong. Andrew's words just poisoned her mind. The panic left a bit as she kept rationalizing, leaving her with only cold nerves.

She was only vaguely aware of Molly smoothing down her short pink dress and saying, "Oh God, I know that guy!" It hadn't been important to her still racing mind that she was trying to calm. But then the grip she had on Molly's hands was gone and all she saw was a glimpse of red curls disappearing into the crowd.

"Molly!" She stood there shocked. Her friend hadn't just left her. She looked to the floor, training her breaths. Her nerves were raw, as if they were smashed by an ice-cold wave and left tingling.

She stepped back—into a body. A teen with a smooth bald head with piercings. "Wanna dance?"

Her shaking head was stiff as she gulped for air. Then she turned and scrambled farther into the writhing mass of teens.

* * *

Raye loved going to clubs. Liked the wild atmosphere, dressing up in daring red outfits and dancing for hours, feeling the music pound and vibrate her insides.

But she didn't like this one. It was irritating her that she couldn't figure out why. There was no reason why she wouldn't love this place---why she couldn't enjoy it. She lifted her bare arms into the air, swinging her body to the rhythm—but there was no feeling or relish in the movements.

Just a cold hallowness. She looked up, watching the dancing form of her boyfriend of that week, Jeff. There was something about Jeff. Something different than any other guy she went out with. A danger lurked beneath his thin languid form and laughing brown eyes. He wasn't the normal bad boy, she knew. They did wild things for a thrill, pushing the limits of the law and pulling pranks—childish in her opinion. But with Jeff… it was a simple danger. A kind that existed since the beginning of time. He didn't wear pounds of leather, have piercings, or even have a tattoo. He didn't need to.

He smiled at her. She didn't smile back, instead she closed her eyes and pretended she was too into dancing to notice. But in the next moment, her eyes snapped open with the feeling of Jeff by her side, hot breath in her ear. "I see someone I know, I'll be back. Don't have too much fun without me," he said, voice loud over the music but still smooth.

She nodded and watched him slip into the sea of dark moving bodies. Tired of dancing, she walked through the dark and bright flashing chaos with unimpressed eyes, her lashes that drooped lush and black like her hair that flowed over her bare shoulders and to her waist.

Pursing her red lips, she walked to one of the tables on an elevated floor. She kicked off her red heels and sat lazily on the cool table, one leg dangling with the other resting on a chair, back arched with her hands pillaring her body.

A girl leaning against a wall near her seemed to perk in lazy interest at Raye's boldness, a glimmer of approvement in her ice-blue eyes. Raye looked at her, not letting her wariness or unsettlement show. With the chaotic lights it almost looked like the girl had white hair. It didn't make her look old—impossible with the girl's enviously smooth skin—but exotic. It didn't look bleached either. Too healthy—it slipped down the girl's figure like silk.

She was the kind of girl Raye wouldn't mind talking to. But then there was something she saw in the girl that made her hesitate. Something that reminded her of… Jeff. Yes. An elegant beauty enclosed in danger. Alluring while at the same time something clicked inside, an alert that whispered to stay far away.

They didn't speak. But both of them were aware of each other. Then, the girl's eyes averted to something—or someone—in the crowd, then she grinned and left. Raye blinked, eyes still a lazy violet, but an interest drifted in them. She looked where the girl had looked she sat up in recognition.

Serenity Talen, more commonly known as Serena. The girl's soft sunshine hair, almost as long as Raye's, and large blue eyes were unable to miss. The girl didn't see her. Even if she did, Raye wasn't sure if the girl would come up. They went to the same school, but didn't know each other well. They were too different, living on different sides. Raye had a hard background and lived on the wild side, Serena was the nice girl—not shy or timid, if she were Raye would probably have rolled her eyes in disgust and ignored the girl. No, Serena just had a kind nature, but there was a boldness in her that Raye had noticed. Honesty, she wasn't fake like many preppy girls at the school. Raye had watched as the girl chew out a few boys for discriminating a new girl in the school in some fashion of approval.

Raye was bored right now, edgy in her surroundings for once. Quickly deciding, she waved until the girl looked up and then gestured her over with a turn of her head.

Serena walked up with a smile. "Hi. It's Raye, right?"

Raye nodded, scooting back on the table to her original position. "Sit." She expected the girl to sit demurely in a chair, but Serena met her gaze and promptly sat on the table beside Raye. Raye quirked an eyebrow and grinned. Serena smiled back.

The tension eased, Serena's fear rolling down and off her back. Raye threw her head back and laughed at what Serena said. "God, that Melvin kid actually did that?"

Serena nodded with a grin of her own. Why did she never talk to Raye sooner at school? She looked back into the crowd, the music not even bothering her anymore. The sick feeling was gone. Nothing was wrong with this place.

"Oh no," Raye groaned, getting Serena's attention.

"What?"

"Jeff's back.

Jeff? Serena looked and the sick feeling came back. The reason why she didn't like this place resurfaced. Nothing she could name. Nothing that was logical. It just resided in the gut, a twisting dizzy feeling.

She didn't know the guy, but he reminded her of something… or someone.

"See you later, Serena," Raye sighed, slipping off the table and walking away with Jeff.

A coldness gripped her. It was as if something that had been blocking her vision was suddenly gone, letting her see and feel what she didn't want to. The acid music she thought she was getting used to screamed in her ears, the wild lights and swirling dark bodies made her dizzy.

She slid off the table and was walking. Molly, she couldn't leave without Molly. But she was still walking.

There was something desperate inside her as she searched. Her arms were up, helping her push away from bodies that would slam into her. She stopped, eyes fixed on the walls. A hazy red light slid over her, then a yellow one. There were paintings on the walls, like on the door. Black roses, slinking snakes, scurrying scorpions, lurking wolves.

She turned—something screaming inside—and collided into a warm body. She met black eyes.