My mother. Something had happened to my mother.

"Adrian, what happened to her? Is she alright? Where's my father and my sisters?" My heartbeat began racing. I panicked when he avoided my eyes and didn't answer. "Adrian!"

He looked at me. "Listen, I'll take you to the Alchemists and they'll explain. Please don't make me tell you."

"You know what happened. What happened? Where is she? Is she okay? What about Zoe?"

He turned to walk out, but I touched his arm, a tear forcing itself out of my right eye. "Adrian, please. Don't keep me in the dark. Is she okay?"

"She's…she's at the hospital. I don't know what else. I don't know where your dad or your sisters are, but only your mom was in the accident. All Belikov told me was that she was in an accident, the Alchemists were trying to get into contact with you and I had to get you to him or them as soon as possible."

I looked through the door at my phone sitting on the coffee table. It was blinking, a sign I had missed calls. I looked back at him, words escaping me. I nodded and he led me to the car. He didn't say a word, but hesitated before getting in the driver's side. I didn't look at him as we drove.

My mother had to be alright. She was always fine. She had to be. My father, my strict, no-nonsense, unemotional father would fall apart without her. Zoe…what would Zoe be without our mother watching out for her? She'd fall into the clutches of the Alchemists forever.

"No, no, no, no, no," I began muttering. I shook my head. "No, she's…she's fine. It's all a misunderstanding. Dad told the Alchemists Mom had been in an accident, but she's fine. She'll walk away with…you know, a few cuts and bruises or something, but she'll be fine. And then she'll go home and everything will be fine. It'll just…all be fine."

"You telling me or yourself?"

I looked at him. "I don't know."

He sighed and pulled over. "We're here."

I looked around. We were where Donna Stanton told me to meet her when I needed. I nodded and looked at him.

"You're not coming in?"

He shook his head. "I don't want to make things worse. Bloodsucker, remember?"

I nodded again, looking back at the place. I took a deep breath before getting out of the car.

"Sydney?" I looked back at Adrian. "I'm sure she's fine."

I nodded. "Thanks."

Feeling numb, I shut the car door and walked inside. Ms Stanton was pacing just beyond the door, her phone to her ear. She sighed in relief when she saw me.

"Miss Sage, there you are. I've been trying to reach you. Your father contacted me"-

I nodded. "I know. I apologise. I was busy. Where is my father?"

"Mr Sage is in the hospital with your mother. As is your younger sister. You can use the phone to contact them." She handed me her phone.

I nodded. "Thank you, Ms Stanton. I won't be long."

She took that as her cue to leave and walked into another room. I dialled my father's number, but Zoe answered.

She sniffled. "Jared Sage's phone, this is Zoe."

"Zoe, it's Sydney. Is Mom okay?"

She sniffled again. "I-I don't know, Sydney. No one will let me see her. They'll only let Dad in and he won't tell me anything. Where are you?"

I hesitated. "Uh, I don't know if I'm allowed to tell you. It's…Alchemist stuff. Is Dad there?"

"No, he's in Mom's room. He left his phone with me. I'm stuck in the waiting room."

I nodded, beginning to pace. My thoughts began racing, trying to figure out what had happened. "Do you know what happened? With the accident?"

"Not really. Mom was…um…she'd dropped me off at school and about ten minutes into class, the principal called me into his office and sent me home." Zoe sniffled again.

I breathed out. "Did anyone tell Carly?"

"No, Dad won't let me call her. He didn't even want to tell you. He said you were doing important work and you shouldn't be disturbed."

I frowned. "Then…If Dad didn't want me to be told, who told Donna Stanton?"

Zoe didn't answer: she just sniffled again.

"Zoe?"

"I…I sent a message to her, pretending to be Dad. I couldn't let you not know. Mom's…I got a little look in her room when Dad went in there last. She's hooked up to a lot of machines, Sydney. And she looks really bad. Cuts all over her face, Sydney." She started sobbing.

"I'm sorry, Zo. I'll…I'll see if I can get over there."

"No! No, if you do, then Dad'll know I told you."

I sighed. "Zoe, you need me. I need to be there. I need to be able to see Mom's okay."

"Who's on the phone, Zoe?" I heard my dad's voice.

"Sydney."

"Give me the phone."

I heard the phone being handed over.

"Sydney?"

I nodded. "Yes, sir."

"What are you doing? Ms Stanton was adamant that your work is not to be compromised."

"I heard, Dad. Is Mom okay?"

He fell silent. I looked out the window and saw Adrian was still sitting in the car.

"Dad?"

My father sighed. "Sydney, don't worry about your mother. She will pull through. Remember your duty and don't call again. I will call Ms Stanton with news when there is some."

"No, Dad, don't hang up! Just let me"-

I was cut off by the beep of an ended call.

"No…" I muttered, looking at the phone. I walked into the next room and handed the phone to Ms Stanton. "Thank you for waiting, Ms Stanton. I'll be returning to my duties now."

"Very well."

Without waiting for anything else, I strode through the front door and ignored Adrian in the car. I walked along the footpath until Adrian ran over to me and stood in my way. "What?"

"Adrian, please just let me go home."

He shook his head. "But they're not letting you go home, are they?"

"I meant to the school. Just, leave me alone. Now is not the time. We can debate the pros and cons of our relationship sometime when I am not numb."

He sighed. "How is she?"

"She's going to be fine. She'll pull through. My father's going to call Ms Stanton with news and I'm going to return to my Alchemist duties, as I should."

Adrian stared. I tried to walk around him, but he grabbed me by the shoulders. "Sydney, you're acting emotionless. When you got out of the car, you were on the verge of endlessly sobbing. What happened in there?"

"Adrian, go home. I need to get back to my duties."

He stared into my eyes with a troubled look. He looked over me and the look intensified. "At least let me drop you off. I don't want anything to happen to you."

"Fine."

We walked back to his car in silence. When we finally reached the school, I didn't say a word as I got out of the car.

"Sage…I'll check in on you tomorrow, okay?"

I didn't respond, but went straight to my room, curled up in my covers and sobbed through the night.