My heart was beating fast, and my face was probably flushed from all the anger and adrenaline that I was having as I raced down the stairs. I found my father exactly where I left him, on the recliner watching the game.
"Dad, we need to talk." I announced, coming in the room.
"Now's not the time." He replied, eyes staying on the television.
This got me even more infuriated. I walked over, stomping my feet. Although this was probably a childish move on my part, it was a natural reaction and just happened. I stood in front of the television, blocking his view.
Instantly his eyes met mine, his narrowing a little. I took notice to the grey hair appearing on his beard, and the sides of his hairline. I saw the small wrinkles starting to grow larger, signaling his age. He was still my dad, the irritating man I grew up with. The one that brought me down each and every day of my life. The one that said I would never be good enough.
"Sydney, what do you want?" He asked, rage coming from his voice.
I let out an exasperated laugh. "You're serious?"
He raised an eyebrow. Sighing he turned the television off, using the remote. "Perhaps we should discuss this in the office then?"
He didn't even wait for a reply, he just got up and went towards his office. It was just across the hallway so I followed him, my momentum to speak shrinking smaller and smaller. His office was exactly that, his office. His own personal space, one that he fully controlled. I remember being sent to his office, and being punished or scolded at for not completing something and not getting perfect results. The office, well, it was a little scary. The bookshelves were on either side of the room, full with neatly placed books, due to my father's neatness. The desk he had sat right in the middle of the room, a chair on either side, as if he always had company in this room.
He took a seat, and gestured for me to take the one across the other side of the desk. I took a deep breath, but managed to sit, the leather squeaking as I put my weight on it.
"Sydney," He started. "I know you have just spoken with Zoe, so I have a feeling I know what you want to speak to me about. I must remind you, it is not your place to be a part of this."
I frowned, my eyes narrowing. "Oh, really? Not my place? She is my sister, and you bet this is my place."
He rolled his eyes, making me even angrier at him. "Sydney, understand that Zoe holds a lot of potential as an Alchemist, and although her training is new, and not as advanced as I would hope it to be, she will become an Alchemist. Just like you."
"Just like me? She doesn't want this." I was raising my voice, but I didn't care. "She also doesn't need this, you already have an Alchemist in the family, you don't need to make Zoe one too."
"Having two would be-"
"What?" I interrupted. "Would be glorifying? For you?"
"That's enough of you talking back to me." He scolded me. "I am your father, and you have no right to tell me what I should or should not be doing. Your sister will work hard at this, and she will succeed. We always need more Alchemist's, it is an honour to serve."
"Right, an honour. And we do not need more Alchemists, we have plenty."
He raised his eyebrows. "Oh, we do, do we?" He searched his drawers in the desk, and pulled out a few sheets of stapled paper. "Look at this."
I did it reluctantly, and saw a few numbers and some graphs. "What is it?"
"Read." He said, leaning back on his chair.
I read quickly, glancing over the majority of it, but I got this gist. "Our numbers are sliding down. The first time we recorded we had over thirty thousand, not we only have a third of that...or less." I looked back up, meeting my dad's eyes. "So we are becoming extinct?"
"I really don't find the necessity of sharing this with you, but yes, we are, to some extent." He pulled the sheets back towards him, and tucked them back in the desk drawer where he got them from. "This information isn't exactly private or secretive, but we shouldn't talk about it outside these four walls. Understood?"
I nodded. "Why is this happening though?" I knew we were diverging from Zoe and her issues, but my curiosity got the better of me.
"Lot's more Alchemists get sent to the re-education center, they become corrupt." He sounded more and more angry as he spoke. "Too much dealing with the blood-suckers. They are influencing us, making us less fearful of them and their soulless bodies."
Maybe growing up, he was just being protective of me. He probably didn't want to lose me either. But that was probably me guessing at a long shot. In the end, he most likely didn't want the embarrassment of having a child go to the re-education centre for becoming corrupt. Little did he know, I was friends with a punch of vampires back in Palm Springs. And maybe more than friends with one specific blood-sucker.
"This is more confidential, so do not spread this information out to others. Most Alchemists don't even know about it."
I blinked. "So why did you tell me?" Maybe he trusted me.
That thought quickly diminished when he spoke up. "You have to understand why we need Zoe. For populating our organization. I don't know how else I would have gotten you off my back about her. But you understand now, that's the main thing."
"I suppose I get the logic behind it," I thought miserably. "But, Zoe doesn't need to do this. She is your daughter, and with me being an Alchemist, there isn't a need for it."
"I can see that you are too dense to think about the benefits of this." He snarled.
My mouth dropped. Had he really just called me stupid? My father had said a bunch of nasty things to me in the past, ranging from ugly, to undisciplined, to annoying, and so on, but never stupid. That just...hurt.
I stood up. "I honestly don't think I am the dense one here."
He looked up at me. I almost missed it, but I did see a bit of shock cross his face, right before the infuriated look appeared. "Sydney Sage, you have no right to speak to me like that. I am your superior."
"You are also my father! Not like you act like it though." I said sharply, and then turned around to walk away. Right before I left the room, I had to say one more thing. "Zoe is not going to be an Alchemist, not if I can help it."
I left, stomping out. In the hall, I saw my sisters, my mom, and Carly's boyfriend, Kevin standing there. And they were all looking at me.
"Did you just really do that? To dad!?" Carly asked, her eyes wide.
"Honey, do you need to talk...?" My mom asked worryingly.
"You didn't have to do that...but thanks." Zoe smiled slightly.
I took a deep breath, and flattened my shirt against my stomach, trying to compose myself. "I did do that. I don't need to talk about it. And you're welcome Zoe." I put on a smile, turning to Kevin. "So, do you need help in the kitchen Kevin?"
He took a second to recover from the drama, but nodded. "Thanks that would be great."
"Good, just tell me what to do." I walked past him, towards the kitchen. He followed, along with Carly. Mom and Zoe stayed in the hallway, whispering something to each other.
We all cooked in the kitchen, not saying anything about dad anymore, who was still in his office.
"So, Kevin how did you and my sister meet?" I asked, trying to break the silence.
He smiled at Carly. "Well, we were both in school, and there was this party on campus. As it turned out, her friend was friends with my best friend, so they introduced us at the party. It was love at first sight."
Carly laughed. "Yeah, after you spilled your drink on me."
He smiled. "Right...right after that."
I laughed along with them, happy for Carly. At least with Kevin, I knew she was happy. My family approved of him, or seemed to, and he seemed like a great guy. If only I would be able to bring a guy home, a specific tall, green-eyed guy. But that would never happen.
"So Sydney, any cuties out in...England?" Carly asked, catching herself. Kevin didn't know, and would never know a thing about Alchemy, so he had been lied to about mine and my dad's job. I was supposedly in England, studying in college there, and my dad was a pilot, allowing him to stay out long, unusual hours if he needed to.
"Yeah, Sydney, there must be some nice British guys out there." Carly played along.
I blushed slightly, but was turned away chopping carrots so they didn't notice it. "Umm, no. I am just focusing on school."
"Like always," Carly giggled.
"Aw, don't listen to her, Sydney. I am sure lots of guys are approaching you, you just haven't found the one yet." Kevin said to me. "I mean, just like your sister here, you are really beautiful."
I scoffed at that. "Sure."
"You are," Kevin reassured me. I looked over at them, and Carly was nodding in agreement.
I rolled my eyes. "Whatever you say."
He smiled. "Carly told me you were stubborn."
She laughed, and we went back to cooking the meal. By the time we were done, it was already mid-afternoon.
I was setting the table when my phone rang. I went to check the ID, and saw it was Adrian who was calling me.
"Hello?" I answered, setting the napkins beside the plates.
"Please kill me." Adrian responded.
I laughed. "What's going on?"
"Kind of an extremely long story." He said, as I heard yelling in the background.
"What is that?" I questioned, more concerned now.
"The trio of idiots. I mean, you don't tell your girlfriend that you are having feelings for the other girl on Thanksgiving. When they are cooking with hot appliances, I might add."
He sighed, I could practically hear the eye roll over the phone. "Eddie and Angeline were cooking, and Jill and I were just minding our own business when we heard yelling and a pan colliding with something."
"They threw a pan at each other?" I asked, shocked.
"No, Angeline apparently dropped the pan when Eddie told her that he likes Jill. Oh, and that he didn't think they were working out. So, he ended it. And now the turkey isn't fully cooked, the stuffing is burnt, and don't even get me started on the mashed potatoes. Thanksgiving is ruined."
I sympathized with him, but I was still a little preoccupied, thinking about what had happened over there, with my friends. "How is Jill taking all of this?"
He hesitated. "Well, she liked Eddie apparently, so that makes her happy. But Angeline is pissed off, and that makes Jill upset. Eddie is trying to calm her right now."
"Oh my gosh, this is not good." I said, thinking about the whole situation with Angeline and her bad behaviour already. If she was heartbroken as well, then this could get me kicked out of Palm Springs, away from everyone, what with her killing Eddie. "Make sure they don't get too out of hand, at least before I get back."
"I'm not making any promises." He commented. "By the way, how's your Thanksgiving?"
"We are just about to eat, I'm just setting the table. If I can, I'll bring you some leftovers?"
"Yes!" He sounded overjoyed.
I laughed. "But other than that...well I did kind of tell off my father."
"Really?" He asked, going back to serious.
"Um, yeah. He got angry, but I did it."
"So, how's the rest of your family taking it?" He asked, suddenly really focused for some reason.
"They were a little shocked too, but I think they are fine with it now, what with the novelty wearing off." I told him.
"So they are alright with us then?" He sounded happier now.
"What?" I asked, confused. "What are you talking about? I didn't say anything about, you know, us."
"But you...you said you told your dad and he got angry..." Now he didn't sound too happy.
I thought back to what I had said, and I could have slapped myself. "No, Adrian. I meant I told him off about Carly being an Alchemist. I'm so sorry. I didn't realize what you were thinking. I should have been more specific or something."
He didn't speak, which made it worse.
Finally he said something. "No, you don't need to apologize. Really, it's my fault for assuming."
"No, Sydney. It's really alright." He said softly. "I should, um, really go now. Help out Eddie and Angeline. I don't want blood stains on the carpet."
Although he was trying to joke, I detected the sadness in his tone as well. I wanted to tell him it would be alright, that I would do something, tell my family or something, but I couldn't. I couldn't do that for him, for us. "Alright Adrian, good luck, I'll see you tomorrow."
"Happy Thanksgiving," He said, hanging up quickly.
I hung up my phone as well, slowly placing it back in my pocket.
I sighed, and finished setting the table, thinking about Adrian the entire time. Why did this have to be so hard?
"Sydney? You done yet?" Carly called from the kitchen. "The food is ready."
"Yeah, all done. I'll come help bring it in." I called back, taking a deep breath and heading back to the kitchen.
We all set the food on the table, then I got my Mom and Zoe, while Carly went to get my dad. Once everyone arrived, my father said grace. I held onto my cross, hoping that somehow it would provide me some guidance of some sort. I hoped it would give me the answers about whether I would be staying with Adrian, or if we would just never work out. I could also feel the amulet, and I began hoping that it could help me out somehow too.
My father finished grace, and we all started passing around the food. I filled half my plate, and started eating. I kept thinking about Adrian, and what I would do about myself and him. I realized suddenly that my inner thoughts made me not realize that there was a silence happening at the table. Everyone was either staring at their food, or eating it.
"Great job on the cooking you three," My mom said, always trying to break uncomfortable silences.
"Thank you Mrs. Sage." Kevin responded politely. "Though Carly and Sydney did most of the work."
Carly hit his shoulder playfully. "That's not true," She scoffed at him. "You did an amazing job helping."
I nodded in agreement. "You did do a nice job, Kevin."
"Aw thanks you two." He smiled. Again the silence occurred, though Kevin did eventually have to open his big mouth. "So, in the kitchen Sydney here was saying how no cute guys were approaching her back in England. I told her that she must be insane, what with her bold personality and good looks, but she won't believe me."
I swallowed the turkey, hard. My mom smiled. "Sydney just has to find the right one, that's all. Once she does, she will just know."
My father grumbled. "It just better be a...pilot. Like me."
I rolled my eyes. "If that ever happens, then I must have gone crazy."
"You have something against pilots?" Kevin asked, looking confused.
Zoe laughed, but my mom shushed her.
"They just aren't my type." I said, covering.
"And what is your type?" Carly asked, smiling from ear to ear.
I could have punched her right now. Why were we even having this conversation? Especially with my father present.
"She would need to date to actually have a type." Zoe commented.
"Well I obviously can't have a type, not without it being anything other than a Pilot! Right?" I snapped, and went back to eating my food forcefully.
Everyone stared at me, and the awkward silence returned.
All I could hear was the scraping of forks and knifes against the various food that was spread before us. This silence seemed to drag on more than usual, probably because my family didn't want me to have yet another outburst today.
"So, um, Carly, how are your college classes so far?" My mom asked, allowing a change in subject. Everyone was talking about classes, and school, well, except my father and I. Dad was usually quiet at dinner unless there was some alchemist thing that needed to be brought up. Although I had never been a chatter box before, the whole issue of dating or my 'type' really annoyed me, and caused my silence to resume.
When Carly asked what my type was, my mind immediately went to tall, paler, green eyes, messy hair, and sarcastically annoying, yet so charismatic you had to talk to him.
Instantly when I thought of that, I had a sudden realization that this person would never be someone that I would be able to have. In the end, my family did want a pilot. They wanted someone that was who they saw me with, not someone that would surprise them. My family had their own standards, and not even a first class passenger could change their minds.
When dinner was over, Zoe cleared the table and I went to help my mom with the dishes. She automatically went to the washing, while I took over the drying spot. It was a natural habit for us to do, similar to our relationships with cars.
"Sydney, are you alright? You seemed a little lost during dinner." My mom said as she handed a plate to me.
"I'm fine," I said a little too sharply.
She sighed. "Sydney, if you have something to tell me, you can. You know that I'm here for you, no matter what."
I looked over at her. I saw the way that her wrinkles had developed, even more since I had left those few months ago. Seeing her hair in that quick pony tail was something that I had grown used to, and missed the messiness of it. I had always worn my hair neat, and tidy, whereas my mother was always the opposite, not caring what she looked like. So confident, and carefree.
"I, um..." I didn't know where to start. "What did you like about dad? What made you marry him?"
She searched my eyes. "An odd questions, Sydney, but I suppose I can answer it for you." She went back to washing as she continued to talk. "You father wasn't always this way, you know. He was once a charming man."
I snorted. "Right."
She frowned. "He was. And among that quality, he was also out-going, funny, smart, confident, and so on. That's what drew me in."
"And the fact that grandpa was an Alchemist?" I nudged.
"Well, that was a reason as to why I met your father, but I liked him, I wanted to be with him. When he proposed, I said yes because I wanted it, not out of obligation to the Alchemists."
I hesitated, but continued anyway. "So, if he wasn't and Alchemist, would you have still married him?"
This time, she hesitated. "Well, I don't even know if I would have met him, but if I had met him, I probably still would have married him."
"But your dad wanted you to marry an Alchemist."
She nodded. "Yes, he wanted that a lot actually." She eyed me. "Are you maybe feeling any pressure about a guy? Maybe someone who isn't an Alchemist?"
"No, of course not." I replied instantly, not wanting her to get suspicious. "But if there ever was a guy, what if he wasn't an Alchemist?"
"Well, I would be alright with it, you wouldn't need to worry about that." She reassured me.
"And dad?" I asked.
"I think you know that answer already, honey." She gave me a small, understanding smile. "Are you sure that you aren't thinking of anyone in particular? You just seemed a little defensive back at supper."
"No, it's, um, hypothetical." I responded, drying the last of the dishes.
"Okay then," She said, drying her hands on a towel.
"What if he was someone who maybe you wouldn't approve of? Like if you only thought he was a bad person, but wasn't?" I suddenly asked before she left the kitchen.
She turned around, eyeing me. "What do you mean? Like someone who owned a motorcycle and had tattoos or something?"
I took a deep breath. "Like someone who maybe has a bad reputation, but was just put in a group as some label by us. And he didn't deserve that label, because he is really caring, and funny, and kind."
"Okay, fess up. Who's the guy?" My mom put her hands on her hips, eyeing me even more.
I bit my lip. "It's make believe, remember?"
"Right," She sighed. "Sydney, if you really thought this guy was a good person, then I would be behind you one hundred percent. No matter what, I would just put my beliefs to the side, and move on. I trust your judgement more than anything."
At that moment, I started tearing up a bit. "Really?" I asked, my voice cracking.
She came over, giving me a big hug like I was a little girl or something. "Of course, sweetie." She said into my hair, making her voice muffled.
"Thanks," I told her, smiling.
We held on a few seconds longer, and finally we let go. She put a few stray hairs back behind my ear. "You don't need to tell me anything right now, but if it is causing you this much worry, you can let me know what's going on, anytime. All you have to do is tell me."
I nodded, wiping some tears from my cheeks. "Okay, I love you mom."
"Love you too, honey." She smiled, squeezing my hands before leaving.
This wasn't exactly telling her about Adrian, but it was a start. I knew that she would have my back...most likely. She still didn't understand the extent to which this whole situation was at. And if I told her, my father, along with everyone else in the world would find out. He just had a way of uncovering the truth.
I spent the rest of the day with Carly and Kevin, and Zoe appeared every now and then too. We played board games and watched TV. I didn't really know what was happening when we watched a specific show, something about zombies, I think. It was a rerun all day, and Kevin really seemed to like it. I just liked sitting down and relaxing, and spending time with my family. Although I did worry back to Palm Springs where my friends were probably still upset with each other, and dealing with a lot of drama. Though, I did try to not pay attention to that.
The day went on, and soon it was time to go.
"Well, I guess I better get going." I told my family as they were hugging me goodbye. Well, I hugged most of them, my dad jus stood by the stairs, arms crossed.
"I'm really going to miss you, Sydney. We don't get to spend much time together now." Carly said, tears in her eyes. "I'll just really miss you! Are you sure you can't come home for Christmas?"
I nodded. "Probably not, the Alchemist's let me come for today, but it probably won't happen again."
She nodded, understanding. I moved to Zoe, and she met my eyes.
"I'm sorry for fighting, Sydney. Thanks for being a great big sister, and always looking out for me." Zoe said, casting unsure glances towards dad.
I pulled her in a hug, and whispered in her ear. "I'll try to make some phone calls so you don't have to do this. Dad has no right."
She nodded, but didn't say anything. I wasn't sure if she believed me, but I really hoped she did.
I hugged my mom and Kevin good bye, my mom whispering to me about being safe on airplanes and everything. My dad stood, and put his hand out for me to shake. I resisted the urge to roll my eyes, and shook his cold, rough hands.
"Make sure you work hard out there," He said sternly.
"I will," I told him, taking my hand back and out of his. I waved another good bye and went to the taxi that was waiting outside. Someone would have drove me, but I was catching the red eye after all, so it was already getting late.
I told the cab driver to take me to the airport, and we started driving away from my home. I sighed, leaning back against the cold seat. Although I would miss my family, I really missed my friends, and was excited to see everyone.
Speaking of friends, my phone started vibrating in my pocket. I looked at the caller ID and saw Eddie's name appear.
I smiled and pressed talk. "Happy Thanksgiving!"
The phone was going in and out on the other end, making weird scratchy noises.
"Eddie?" I prompted.
"Syd-, it's Ed-." He was saying, his voice cutting out.
"Eddie, I can't hear you very well. Where are you?"
"Okay, Eddie. I'll be back there in a few hours, I'll just call you when I get in, alright?" I waited, hearing more scratchiness.
"No, - - important." He spoke up again.
"I don't understand, your phone is cutting in and out."
"I- -. Sydney." He said, not making any sense.
I sighed. "I have to hang up, I'll find you as soon as I get in. Bye."
I hung up, a little frustrated. I wondered if Eddie was calling to maybe pick me up from the airport or something, because he usually didn't call me. Or maybe he wanted to talk about Angeline, he and I had talked a little before about it, so he probably was turning to me for help. If that were the case, I would have burst out laughing at the irony of him coming to me for relationship advice, of all things.
Before I knew it, I reached the airport, and went through security. As I waited for my flight, I checked my phone again to make sure he didn't try calling. But when I looked, there was no messages or missed calls, meaning that it probably wasn't that important. Or if he were picking me up, I wouldn't need another phone call anyways.
Flight 209 to Palm Springs, now boarding.
I got on quickly after hearing the announcement, excited to get back to Palm Springs and see everyone. It would be nearly two in the morning when I arrived, but I would get to see everyone after getting some sleep at least. Then we could even have our own thanksgiving or something.
The flight took off, and I said comfortably in my seat. The thing I liked about red eyes was the fact that it always had less people on it, making you get an entire row to yourself. I leaned back, relaxing. Before I knew it, I arrived back. I was pretty sure I had fallen asleep on the plane since the ride went by so quickly. Home must have exhausted me, and now I was ready to get back to my new life.
I got off the plane, and went straight out since the entire luggage I had, I carried with me on the flight. I looked around, hoping to see Eddie, but I had no such luck. Instead, I got one of the cabs that were by the entrance, and went back to the school.
Paying the driver, I hopped out and looked around. I saw the grassy fields, the tiled sidewalks, the tall and slender buildings, and I took it all in, happy to be back. If only the Alchemists saw me right now, they would be wondering if I had gone insane since liking this particular assignment that involved Moroi wasn't a good thing.
I went up to my room, and set all my bags on my floor. Then, feeling tired all of a sudden, I lay down, under my sheets, feeling instantly better and more cozy. I missed my bed, my sheets, and the way that it made me feel warm and relaxed.
I must had drifted off, since I woke up from a pounding on my door.
I got out of bed, and went over to look through the little peep hole. It was Eddie.
I opened up and he came bursting in, looking around my room.
"Eddie, what are you doing?" I asked, shocked at him. When I caught a glimpse of his appearance, I saw that he was really dirty, and he even had a few scrapes and bruises on his skin.
"Eddie," I ran after him. "Are you okay?! Tell me what happened!"
He stopped, looking at me. "Are you alright? I called."
I nodded. "I know that, I couldn't understand you. Eddie, just calm down. Is this about Angeline?"
He made a weird noise, almost like he was choking.
My heart suddenly started beating fast, I could hear the rhythm in my ears. "Eddie, tell me what happened." I demanded, talking clearly and distinctly.
His eyes left mine, looking away, at nothing. They had a blank, haunted look in them. He then sank down to the ground, leaning his back against my bed frame.
"Eddie." I said, my voice sounding distant.
He closed his eyes. "I tried to stop her."
"Who? Angeline?" I prompted.
He shook his head. "It happened so fast. I couldn't do anything. I mean I tried, but I couldn't reach them."
I blinked, and bended down towards him. "Eddie, just tell me what you are talking about? Where's Jill? Can she tell me?"
"I sent her away, she's safe." He told me, still not meeting my face.
"Safe...safe from what?"
"From Cynthia." He said.
I took in a sharp breath. "Cynthia found you?"
He nodded. "She did, she found me. The others."
"Others..?" I hesitated. "Eddie, just tell me everything that happened."
He finally turned, meeting my gaze. "I broke up with Ange-, Angeline." He said, swallowing hard. "And then we fought, and then Angeline stormed out of Adrian's apartment, and I let her go. I didn't stop her."
"Then what happened?" I asked, needing to know.
I blinked, turning away again. "I heard a scream. Her, she was screaming. It was so loud. I told Jill to go hide in Adrian's closet, so she did. And Adrian had already gone out to Angeline. I went out too, and saw Cynthia standing there, right by Adrian's lawn."
I wasn't breathing, my heart was loud, but steady, waiting for Eddie to tell me everything.
He went on. "I ran over to her, where she had Angeline by the throat. I- I didn't make it."
I gasped. "Eddie..."
He nodded, his eyes tearing up. "She's dead. Angeline is dead. Cynthia, she killed her."
I put a hand to my mouth, covering up the sounds that were coming out. I had to ask though. "Eddie, look at me." I ordered him.
He looked over, I could see the exhaustion on his face, but he had to answer me.
"Eddie, what happened to Adrian?" When I asked, I didn't want to know the answer. I just wanted to pretend everything was alright, that this never happened. I was back at Thanksgiving dinner, worrying about telling my parents about Adrian. Worried about how they would react. Suddenly, that didn't seem important. If Adrian wasn't there to begin with, then everything would be worth nothing.
Eddie finally answered, his face turning from exhaustion to pure agony. "I don't know. She took him somewhere. She left. I tried to stop her, but she was just too strong. I couldn't. I'm sorry Sydney. I couldn't protect him. Or Angeline. I failed."
My mouth was too dry to respond, so I just sat there, next to him on my carpet, feeling empty inside.