Hi, sorry it's over a week late…again.
Well, here it is, the next chapter, and Tara's going to meet Jamie!
Thank you to rachealninja10 favouriting and following my story, and thank you to the following people for reviewing…
xTheDarkShadowsx: Glad to hear it-thank you so much!
Froster (guest): Wow…that's one long review-thank you! Well, all I can say without giving too much away is that some of your theories are correct, but some aren't…thank you so much for the review!
Chapter Six-Visiting Jamie
"Tara and I were thinking of visiting Jamie today," I informed North over the breakfast table, "that's not going to be a problem is it?"
North choked on his toast. "You were thinking of doing what?" he replied hoarsely, after he had finished coughing. "What if you're attacked by Nightmares?"
"It'll be fine," I told him, "I doubt they'll attack again so soon, and even if they do, I can take them. Besides, after seeing the Northern Lights yesterday, Jamie'll be worried. We owe him an explanation."
"That is true." North looked anxious. "I just don't like the idea of the two of you being out there, on your own, when Nightmares may be hunting you."
"It'll be fine," I repeated.
North looked doubtful. "It better be. When are you planning on leaving?"
I turned to Tara. She shrugged. "I'm ready when you are. It's completely up to you."
"In that case, do you want to go after breakfast?" I asked, and then added hastily, "and after we've brushed our teeth. Tooth'll kill us if we don't..."
All three of us lapsed into laughter. It didn't help that Tooth herself arrived a few minutes later, asking what was funny, or that when she realized that Tara and I would be leaving for Burgess soon, she reminded us to brush our teeth (and to floss!).
But, despite all that, it was only twenty minutes later, when Tara and I emerged onto the balcony.
"Be careful, you two." Tooth said, anxiously.
"Don't worry," I reassured her, "we will." I held out my arm to Tara. "Shall we?"
She nodded, smiling, and linked arms with me. We took off into the sky, which, thanks to the six-month days and nights, was still dark.
A couple of hours later, we were flying over Burgess. Tara pointed out a building that was larger and taller than the rest. "That's the orphanage," she said, "that's my home. Supposedly. It's not very home-like."
"If you wouldn't describe it as 'home-like', then how would you describe it?" I asked her.
"Honestly? I don't mean to exaggerate, but to me...it's more like a prison." She paused for a moment, and then gave a soft chuckle. "You know, I always wanted to get away from that place. When I was younger, I always imagined that as soon as I turned eighteen, I'd just pack my bags and leave. The funny thing is, it was my eighteenth birthday the day before yesterday, and I really did leave yesterday."
I wasn't sure how to reply to that. Luckily, I didn't have to, because Tara spoke again. "That's odd, there isn't a lot of crime in Burgess, the police don't normally have to leave the station. I wonder why they're parked outside someone's house." She pointed to a police car that was parked on the curb next to a small, two storey building.
My heart skipped a beat. "That's Jamie's house!"
Tara looked worried. "You don't think something's happened to him, do you?"
"I don't know." I altered our course and landed in a tree at the end of the garden.
"Stay here," I told her, "the police probably know about your disappearance by now, we don't want them to see you. I'll go and see if I can find out what's going on."
She nodded. "Be careful."
I gave her a reassuring smile, and then jumped to the ground. I approached the house, careful not to make a sound, which would alert the police of my presence. Whilst they wouldn't be able to see me, they might come and investigate, resulting in them finding Tara. I tried not to think of what might happen to her if they did, and they forced her to stay at the orphanage.
As I got closer to the house, I could hear voices coming from inside. I crouched under the window and listened.
"...I understand, Mr Bennett, that she was a patient of yours?" I didn't recognize that voice.
"Dr Bennett," Jamie's voice corrected, "and yes, she was my patient, about six years ago."
"And I believe that the staff working at the orphanage required your services because the girl was crazy?"
"So they thought," Jamie confirmed, "but I assure you officer, Tara Lumen was, and still is, quite sane."
Tara? So the police were here investigating Tara's disappearance? But why were they saying that she was crazy? Tara wasn't crazy!
"That's not what I heard," the police officer said, "from what I heard, she was seeing things. You know, things that aren't real. And I heard that she still believes in fairy tales like Jack Frost. She's eighteen, and she still believes in kids' stories!"
The hand that wasn't tightly gripping my staff balled into a fist. I was not a fairy tale, or a kids' story! And saying that Tara was crazy, just because she believed...I just couldn't believe my ears!
"So you're saying that, just because this girl believes in Jack Frost, she's mad? That's nonsense!" Clearly Jamie was also annoyed.
"Well, Mr Bennett, she is eighteen..."
"Dr Bennett. And taking that into account, I somehow think that my judgment in the matter of Tara Lumen's sanity, since I am much more experienced and qualified in the matter, is much more reliable than the opinions of an average civilian."
"Well yes, Mr-"
"-Bennett, but I'm afraid all points of view must be taken into account. And, I'm sorry to say, the majority believe that she's a bit crazy. Well, I'm afraid I must be leaving now. Good day."
There was the sound of chairs scraping on the floor, and then footsteps as Jamie showed the police officer out. He then returned and muttered darkly "good riddance."
Silence. I had the distinct impression that he was sneaking about the room, though why, I had no idea.
The window opened suddenly, sending a heap of snow falling onto my head.
"Hey!" I objected, even though I don't feel the cold.
"I thought you were here," Jamie commented, leaning out the window and looking down at me. "It suddenly got colder. Particularly when officer Jenkins said those things about you."
I straightened. "Yeah, about that...sorry about him bothering you."
Jamie frowned. "What do you mean? It wasn't your fault-" he trailed off. "Please tell me you didn't have anything to do with Tara's disappearance."
"She was attacked by Nightmares, Jamie. Nightmares. Twelve of them. I had to take her somewhere safe."
"Nightmares?! So that's what the lights were about."
I nodded. I then remembered Tara, sitting in the tree at the end of the garden. "Have the police gone?"
"Yes. Why? It's not like they can see you." Realization dawned on him. "You brought her here, didn't you."
I nodded, and turned to the tree Tara was hiding in. "Coast's clear, Tara!" I called.
She dropped down from the tree and walked up to us. She blinked in surprise when she saw Jamie.
"Dr Bennett!" she exclaimed.
"Just 'Jamie' is fine, Tara." he smiled. "I trust that the orphanage staff stopped sending you to various doctors."
She nodded. "Yes, after what you told them they left me alone. Thank you."
"It is quite all right."
"Dad!" called a young child's voice, "Dad, you said you'd come out to play!"
"One minute Christopher!" Jamie called back.
I grinned. Jamie's son, Christopher, was extremely excitable and never got bored of snowball fights. "I wouldn't keep him waiting, if I were you. You know how much he loves snowball fights."
"You're one to talk," Jamie grinned, "he was very disappointed when you didn't turn up yesterday."
"Yeah...sorry about that..." I turned to Tara. "So, would you like to come and help me make it up to him."
"What about the police?" she asked, "we don't want them to associate me with Jamie anymore than they have already. If someone saw me, and reported me, they might come asking questions."
I hadn't thought of that. Luckily, Jamie had an idea. He went upstairs into the attic, and a couple of minutes later came back with ladies' coat, hat, scarf and gloves.
"They might be a bit big," he said, handing them to Tara, "but the police are looking for a girl who can't afford a coat like this, because she's from the orphanage."
"Thanks," Tara said, pulling it on.
I looked closely at the clothing. "Are these Georgina's?"
Jamie nodded as he walked out the room to find his own coat.
"Who's Georgina?" Tara asked as she wrapped the scarf round her neck.
"Christopher's mother," I explained. "She left without an explanation not long after he was born. I didn't know Jamie still had anything of hers."
Tara paused in the middle of pulling the hat over her head. "Would Jamie mind me wearing them?"
"If he minded, he wouldn't have given them to you to wear."
Just then, Christopher walked in. "Dad, where are you?" Then he saw me. "Jack!" He then hugged me, or at least tried to, which was difficult since he was wearing a big, padded coat to keep him warm. "You came!"
"Hey there kiddo," I said.
He let go and took a step backward, pouting. "Where were you yesterday?"
I struggled to think of an answer. Christopher didn't know about Pitch or Nightmares, because Jamie felt those were things he was better off not knowing until he was older, so I couldn't tell him the truth. Luckily, Christopher gets distracted easily.
"Who are you?" he asked Tara, curiously.
"Tara," she replied, "I'm a friend of Jack's."
"I'm Christopher," he informed her, "I'm also a friend of Jack's."
Jamie walked in. "Is everyone ready?" he asked.
We nodded, and we went outside, Jamie being practically dragged by his son. Kids were already playing in the snow, laughing and having fun. I couldn't help but smile, knowing that I had done this.
I conjured up a snowball in my hand and threw it at Jamie. It hit him in the back of the head. He ducked down, made a snowball of his own and threw it back at me. I dodged.
"You're gonna have to try harder than that to hit me!" I called, as I hit him with another snowball.
"You could at least pretend that wasn't easy!"
I was about to send a witty comment his way, when a snowball hit me in the back. I turned in the direction it had come from, but there was nobody there. Another snowball hit me from my opposite side.
After over three-hundred years of practice, I was extremely good at dodging snowballs, yet somebody had just hit me twice, and I had no idea who. Clearly, they had good aim. I smiled mischievously. This was going to be fun.
A third snowball hit me, this time from behind. Without pausing to think, I conjured up a snowball and threw it in the direction it had come from. I missed, but I saw a figure clad in grey running to hide behind a tree. Tara.
I chased after her, and, realizing she had been caught, she ran away, laughing. I caught up with her, but she tripped, sending us both sprawling on the snowy ground, laughing.
While we lay there, laughing too hard to get up, I received a snowball in the face. I sat up, spitting out snow, whilst Christopher cheered "Whoohoo! I hit Jack! I actually hit him!"
If possible, that made Tara laugh even harder. That is, until he threw one at her, also hitting her in the face, and she was forced to stop laughing, or choke on snow.
"And I hit Tara!"
We both got up and playfully chased him, all three of us laughing, whilst Jamie stood and watched, amused. Before long though, it was a full scale, free-for-all, snowball battle between everyone in the area who had dared to venture outside.
Tara carefully placed the coat, scarf, hat and gloves on the radiator to dry. "How long till the takeaway opens?" she asked Jamie.
"Well, it opens at six, so we have twenty minutes to decide what we want."
We had all spent the entire day outside in the snow, without even coming in to have lunch. As a result, Tara, Jamie and Christopher were starving, so Jamie was ordering pizza for all of us from the local takeaway.
"Pepperoni please!" Christopher said as he walked down the stairs, having just changed into his pyjamas.
"Tara?" Jamie asked.
She looked at the menu. "Ham and pineapple, please."
I shrugged. "Same here please."
At six o'clock, Jamie rang the takeaway and placed the order, and ten minutes later, the pizza arrived. We sat down at the table.
At first we ate in silence, savoring the taste and, in Tara, Christopher and Jamie's cases, keen to satisfy their hunger. Eventually, though, we started talking. Christopher, who had taken a liking to Tara, kept asking her loads of questions about herself, and I listened in, keen to learn more about her. Unfortunately, most of what she said I already knew.
Once we finished eating, we cleared away the plates and cutlery into the dishwasher, and binned the pizza boxes.
"Alright Christopher, I think it's about time you went to bed." Jamie told him.
"Aw, can't I stay up a bit longer?" Christopher asked.
"You need to get some sleep tonight. Go on now, off to bed."
He went reluctantly up the stairs to his bedroom. A few minutes later, snores could be heard. Clearly, he had been extremely tired after today's events.
Tara went to the radiator and checked the coat, hat and gloves Jamie had lent her. "They're dry. I can take them back upstairs, if you want."
Jamie nodded. "Thank you. If you go up the stairs, at the end of the corridor, there's a door. Open it; there should be some stairs. At the top, you'll find the attic. They should go in the wardrobe there."
"Ok." Tara turned and went quietly up the stairs, so she didn't wake Christopher. I watched her go.
As soon as she was out of earshot, Jamie leant back, eyebrows raised and smiling in a sort of amused fashion. "You like her, don't you," he stated.
I looked at him, confused. "Of course I like her. She's my friend."
Jamie face-palmed. "I'm forgetting you weren't brought up in modern society, so you don't know all the modern analogies," he groaned. "That wasn't what I meant."
I frowned, even more confused. "Then what did you mean?"
"You like her, don't you," he repeated, this time emphasizing the 'like'.
"Um...still don't know what you mean. Could you explain it, please?"
"What do you mean 'not really'? Either you can explain it, or you can't."
"It's not so much that I can't explain it, it's just that I don't want to." Jamie sighed.
I rolled my eyes. Trust Jamie to chicken out of explaining something he didn't want to explain. "Fine, I'll ask Tara then."
Jamie's eyes grew wide. "No! Don't do that!"
"That would be very awkward...and...um...bad. Yes, very bad." He sighed in resignation. "Ok, I'll explain. Uh..." He suddenly perked up, and said loudly, "ah, Tara! Did you find the wardrobe ok?"
"Yes," she replied, when she reached the bottom of the stairs.
Jamie sent me a look, which quite clearly said 'don't say anything about what we were just discussing'
Before any of us could say anything else, there was a loud bang coming from outside, followed by a clatter.
"What was that?" Tara asked, voicing my thoughts.
There was another clatter, followed by a bang.
"I don't know," Jamie replied, frowning. He walked over to the window and looked out. "The garage door's open, and I know I didn't leave it like that. Probably kids." He pulled his coat on and opened the front door. "I'll be back in a minute."
He left the house, closing the door behind him. Tara and I sat in silence for a moment, waiting. Then, suddenly, the silence was broken by a terrified scream.
We looked at each other for a split second, and then Tara said, her voice full of dread, "Christopher."
She tore up the stairs, and I followed close behind. She reached Christopher's bedroom door, yanked the door handle downwards, and pulled on the door. Nothing happened. She rattled the door to be sure.
"It's locked!" she cried out in frustration.
"It can't be locked," I told her.
She rattled on the door handle some more, to prove her point. "Well it is locked."
"No, you don't understand, the door can't be locked because there is no lock."
She stared at the door handle for a second, and then yelled through the door, "Christopher! Can you hear me?"
There was a muffled reply.
"I'll take that as a yes," Tara muttered, before yelling, "I need you to get away from the door, ok? You're going to be fine, just stay away from the door-you got that?"
Another reply, this time clearly recognizable as a 'yes'. Tara backed a few feet away from the door.
"Tara, what are you doing?" I asked anxiously, as she shifted her weight from one foot to the other.
"I'm not entirely sure," she admitted. "I hope this works..."
With that, she gave the door a hard kick below the door handle, whilst yelling "Hi-yah!"
The area of the door around the handle splintered and gave way, with Nightmare sand pouring out the mechanism. The door swung open, to reveal Christopher cowering in a corner, surrounded by several Nightmares.
At the sound of the door breaking in, the Nightmares turned to face us. Before I could react, one of them rushed at Tara, but quick as lightning, she sidestepped, came up behind it and touched its flank. It turned from black to gold, from Nightmare to Dream. It took the form of an eagle and soared straight through the window.
The other Nightmares advanced menacingly. I stood beside Tara, ready to fight them.
"Where did you learn that trick?" I asked her.
"Martial arts classes," she answered. "I have a black belt in karate, and kicking the door always seems to work in the movies, so I figured it was worth a shot."
"I meant the turning-Nightmare-sand-to-dream-sand trick."
"Oh, that trick. I didn't learn it anywhere, it was just instinct."
The Nightmares charged. I sent an icy blast at the first two, which immediately disintegrated. The next two went for Tara, who kicked the first and lashed out at the second with the heel of her hand. Both turned into dream-sand eagles and soared through the open window.
The fight continued in this way, I used my powers to destroy the nightmares, while Tara used her martial arts training to fight them and turn them back into dreams. Within about a minute, the fight was over.
Christopher was still cowering in the corner, shaking violently in terror. Tara rushed over to him and wrapped her arms protectively around him. He cried into her shoulder as she carried him over to the bed.
"Sshh, sshh, it's okay, it's okay. You're safe now, we won't let anything happen to you," she chanted softly, to comfort him.
"I want my daddy," he whimpered.
Tara stiffened. Christopher didn't notice, but the change was clearly visible. She looked at me, worriedly. "Where is Jamie? He would have heard the scream, surely? Any father would come running if they thought their child was in danger."
My blood ran cold. She was right. I ran to the window. Outside, I could just make out Jamie, surrounded by more Nightmares than I could count. He was attempting to fight them in the same way Tara had done, by turning them into dreams, but he was vastly outnumbered. I had to help him.
I turned to Tara. "Close and lock the window after me, then go downstairs and be ready to open the front door. Don't open it for anyone apart from Jamie or me. Do you understand?"
She nodded, looking out at the battle outside. "Be careful," she said, anxiously.
I didn't answer, since I wasn't sure that jumping out of a window into a swarm of Nightmares qualified as 'being careful'. I climbed onto the windowsill, and then, without looking back, I jumped.
Mwa ha ha ha ha! You didn't seriously think I would be able to resist this chance of sneaking in a cliffhanger, did you?
So, review please! Reviews make me happy and inspire me to write faster! So please review, and tell me what you think!