A/N: Hey everyone, sorry it has taken me so long to update! You have no idea how crazy it has been lately. Got majorly in trouble cause my chem grade isn't all that great. I REALLY hate that class, science and math are not my friends. I really don't know how you math/science people do it. Anyway, sorry about that rant and while I'm apologizing, I want to say that I'm sorry about the last part of the chapter. I didn't make it very clear that that scene took place at the hospital, just in case someone wasn't clear on that. On with the story!
Alex sat quietly in hospital bed. She really didn't want anyone around her, but at the same time, she was terrified of being alone. The pain in her stomach had subsided some, thanks to the pain medication they had given her. Never in her life had she been in more pain. Before tonight she hadn't even broken one bone, let alone several. The constant pain she was in when she took a breath would be there for a while, she had been told, so it was best to get some rest for the next week or so. The problem was, despite the pain medication making her drowsy, she was afraid to close her eyes for more than a few moments. She was afraid of going to sleep, letting her guard down and then never waking up because that monster had come for her. She knew he would come for her tonight. Maybe not in reality, but in her nightmares he would have a starring role. Burns in the shape of fingers encircled her forearm, throbbing dully and forcing her to picture the night's events in great detail.
It was very late at night, she realized after surveying the room again. No wonder the hospital had recommended that she just stay the night. After the doctors had finished up her tests, there wasn't much of the night left and the nurses could see that she was dead on her feet and needed rest. Unfortunately rest couldn't be an option tonight. Rest might never be an option again if the scars from the burn don't fade. Glancing over at Mason, she smiled. He was sleeping in a chair right next to her bed. He had come running to the hospital when he had found out what had happened to Alex. Unfortunately, visiting hours were over and the nurse had sent him home. Theresa had smuggled him back in, to Alex's extreme relief. After everything she had been through, she needed him more than she needed even Harper and her parents. He was the one person she could count on to understand her. While her parents and Max (he seemed to have forgotten he was even angry with her, and Alex certainly wasn't complaining) had demanded the details of what had happened, Mason had just come in, pulled a chair to her bed, and held her hand. He noticed the burns too, but he never said a thing. The question and suspicion in his eyes had been obvious though. Alex knew that he knew there was something else going on with her. He knew she was lying. But he also knew that he couldn't push her, and she knew he would wait a little while for her to be ready to tell him. She really didn't deserve him.
Alex wrinkled her nose in distaste. Gosh, she had been such a sap these past few hours. Although, she supposed she had a good reason to act like one. She had been too caught up in her own thoughts to notice someone standing hesitantly in her doorway, but when Justin cleared his throat slightly, she jumped.
"Justin!" Alex hissed. "You scared me. Don't sneak up on me like that, especially after-" She stopped herself. Of all the people she was going to tell first, it would definitely not be Justin.
"After what?" Justin asked, his eyebrows drawing together. Alex groaned slightly. Now that she let it slip he would grill her until she told him. "Alex?" Alex looked up at her brother and saw the worry in his eyes. He was not going to let this go, she could see as much. "Alex what do you mean?" He knew. Of course he did. Well of course he didn't know exactly what happened, but he knew there was something going on. Something not right. Something that had his tough little sister running scared. He wanted answers, and she wasn't going to insult his intelligence by lying to his face. Not now that he saw the right through the mask she had constructed for her family. If she lied now it would crumble. So she couldn't lie. But she didn't think she was ready for the truth either. If she told the truth her mask wasn't the only thing that would crumble.
"Are we okay?" She blurted. It was the first thing she could think of that would distract him. And she really did want to know. "Because I know I messed up. I know you and Max think that I've ruined everything for our family. But I just think that you should know that-"
Justin cut her off with his hand. "Hey hey hey. I should be the one apologizing, I was a real jerk to you. I guess I was really just angry with myself, you know?" Alex shook her head. "Well, I was."
"Why?" Alex asked, wondering what he was talking about.
"Because I should have been able to fix everything, the way I always do. Did." He corrected himself. "Lately it seems like you're the one doing the fixing. And when I realized that I got even angrier. I tried to put everything on you, I guess, so that I wouldn't have to put the blame where it belonged. On me." Alex opened her mouth, ready to protest the statement but Justin held up his hand again and continued. "No Alex, I know it's true. If I would have been helpful, if I would have tried just as hard as you did to save our friends, we could have made it back. But I didn't, instead I worried more about getting back in time so I could win than I was about our own friends." He covered his face with his hands. He was quiet for a long time and Alex figured that he was done when he spoke up again, his voice muffled by his hands. "I've been so stupid Alex. I have been such a jerk. And I'm not sure if I can fix it." Alex sighed and tentatively reached out to touch her brother's shoulder, causing him to look up.
"You will never be able to fix it, Justin, but you can make up for it." Alex searched her brothers face ad saw a park of hope flash in his eyes. "And apologizing is a good way to start, I guess."
He smiled gratefully at his younger sister, then his brow creased, as though he had just remembered something that confused him. "What?" Alex asked. "What's wrong?"
"It's just that, what you said to me earlier, to not sneak up on you after something happened? And when I came in, you looked genuinely terrified of something." And that was it. She had to tell him.
"I was hoping that you would have forgotten about that." The brunette wizard looked down at her hands, as though something very important was on them.
"I didn't."The young man told her softly. Alex found herself looking up at him again, trying to decide if she could trust him to keep her secret. Because no matter what happened, she was telling her story to certain people when she was ready to tell them. She never planned on keeping anyone in the dark forever, Alex knew this was a dangerous situation for not only herself, but her family.
"Alright," She heard herself say, although she wasn't consciously aware of making the decision to trust him. "But you need to promise you won't tell anyone. Not Mom, not Dad, not Max, not Zeke, not even Harper and Mason. Please. I need to tell them myself, and I'm not ready to do that. Please." This time, it was Justin who was studying her eyes, trying to see how serious she was.
"Alright." Justin nodded to her.
"I couldn't stand being in the sub shop anymore, so I walked out, and I got to the end of the street when I heard this voice." Justin frowned at that, but made no move to interrupt so she continued. "At first I though I was going crazy, but then It was talking about how I shouldn't act like a mortal just because I was one, and that I needed to open my eyes and see him. At least I'm pretty sure it was a him. I got freaked out, tried to run and ended up with these." Alex turned her arm to show her brother the burns. His fists clenched and his eyes flashed, but still he made no comment. "Then he started hurting me." Her voice cracked when she said "hurting". "Then Harper came out and he stopped, saying something about how I wouldn't have people to protect me forever, and then it was over. At least for now." The last sentence was barely a whisper, but Alex knew her brother had heard it because he tensed beside her.
"Are you sure that's exactly what happened? You didn't leave anything out?" Justin demanded, frantic.
"Yes, absolutely, but what does it mean?" Alex asked, noticing her brother's extreme tension.
"I have no idea," He stood suddenly, jostling the bed, causing Alex to gasp slightly in pain, but Justin was beyond noticing. "But I know it's not good, and I'm going to find out." With that, he began backing out of the room.
"Justin!" Alex called as quietly as she could. Mason was, after all, still asleep. "We don't even have our-" He was already out. "Wizard books." She finished and let out a groan. How was he supposed to learn about some obviously magical creature with no real magic of his own, much less the materials that could have anything about said magical creature. Oh well, this was Justin she was talking about. If anyone could find a way it would be him. And now, she had told someone. Maybe knowing that someone would be there to protect her would allow her to get some sleep. She snuggled deeper into her bed and closed her eyes when she heard:
"Alex, was all that true?" She opened her eyes to see Mason's worried face close to hers.
Okay. Maybe two someones.