Hi everyone! Chapter 2 of the story is here but chapter three won't be here for some time. Updates are going to be infrequent since I'm trying to make longer chapters and revise them. Review replies:
Peanut2196: That was the tone I was going for! I think this chapter is kinda sad too, idk. Thanks for posting your review, it was the first one. Frist reviews are often the most impactful because they get you so excited people are actually reading your stuff... So, yeah. Have a really nice day! :D
Nyancatspacemeep: You made my day with your review! Here's the update you asked for and the chapter is pretty long too. I'm glad you liked it!
Enough on that. Of course, imma ask you guys to review because if you're an author on this site, you know that reviews motivate you, and if you're just a reader, I hope you understand and maybe you'll see how it is if you're a writer one day too. On that note... enjoy!
Nya heard another lightning clap, really close this time. Something was tugging at her gut to go check on the others but it was probably nothing, right? And she was perfectly comfortable sitting in the living room with Lloyd, 12 minutes and 36 seconds into their favorite comedy-drama, Roman Play.
The room had a low ceiling with recess lights dotted every 6 feet. They were sitting on warm-blue colored fabric sofas with linen throws sprawled over their cross-positioned legs in the middle of the cluster of subtle-colored furniture. There was a 46-inch flatscreen on the wall in front of them and a brown TV stand underneath. In the middle of the room, there was a faux-fur rug, shaggy and light blue. On top of it was a chocolate-brown coffee table with a board under it, balancing on four locked wheels. Most of it was made of painted wood but in the middle, there was a glass rectangle built into the table, stretching all the way to the border. The border, unlike the actual rugged table, was smooth. Below the border were four legs bolted into the board under it and wood fence designs connecting each of the legs.
Nya grabbed a glass of water from its resting spot on the table and gulped it down, some of the water dribbling down her sweaty chin. She put it down when she was done. The water hadn't done much to help the knots in her stomach- in fact, it seemed to make them worse. It felt like someone was physically twisting her gut as if to squeeze the liquid out of it.
"Lloyd," she whispered softly, blindly tapping at his shoulder. "Lloyd?"
"Huh, what?" Lloyd snorted, slowly lifting his head and drying off some drool on his face. Nya didn't even realize he was sleeping. A look of confusion and annoyance was painted on his face, with a nasty bed head to top it all off. His eyes were placid and dull, squinting to adjust to the light and he still looked half asleep.
"I think we should go check on the others," she said. Her voice was still pretty delicate and cautious.
"I'm sure they're fine." Lloyd adjusted his body and his eyes were drooping, the bags under them big enough to weigh groceries. The last words were kind of slurred, blended together.
"Lloyd," Nya repeated, firm. She gripped his hand and dragged him off the couch. "Now," she growled as if an angry mother was lecturing on curfew rules, although she didn't exactly know how an angry mother would sound since her's was kidnapped when she was three. She always considered herself as the "mom" of the family. Someone had to be the mature one and it clearly wasn't Kai.
Lloyd's eyes widened and he instantly sprung to his feet, robotically obeying marching Nya. He seemed to be thrown out of his sluggish state. Why? She didn't know. She wasn't that scary. They grabbed Zane too, who tagged along unwillingly until he saw the look on Nya's face and, thankfully, took the hint.
When they entered the hallway, the first thing they noticed was the faint smell of smoke that clouded their noses for a few seconds. Then, the slight crackling in the distance. The room was growing darker as they went, gray ash from the smoke pecking and stinging at their eyes.
They didn't need any more evidence to know what was happening.
"Fire," Nya breathed before turning back to them. "You guys find the others while I slow down the fire."
"I hope we're not too late," Lloyd said, twirling around to follow Zane to the bedroom.
Kai hadn't made out how warm the place was. Maybe if he didn't wield the element of fire he would've noticed. It felt just right to him. But the other side of him- the normal side of him, knew something was wrong. He usually needed to warm his body up because seventy degrees felt like swimming in the snow to him. So imagine how he felt when he didn't need to do that, and accidentally set the place on fire.
"Idiot!" Nya would yell while smacking the back of his head whenever he did that. It wasn't his fault! Like whoever thought inventing the AC was a good idea!?
The rain was murdering the ceiling now, so loud it could've tuned out the sound of talking. It didn't help that there was lightning sounding every few seconds.
A bead of sweat trickled down his forehead. He caught it with the edge of his fingertips and rubbed it between his thumb and his middle and pointer fingers. It had been in the drenching summer heat in his childhood neighborhood, harboring five huge weapons jostling around in his bag, the last time he sweated. He had only experienced sweat if the heat was above one hundred and ten degrees which couldn't happen naturally in the windy area of the monastery with built-in air conditioners on the floors and ceilings unless there was an actual...
"Fire!" Lloyd yelled, creating swift motions with his arms like a maniac. Yeah, that pretty much summed it up. He and Jay immediately wiggled out of bed, jogging to Lloyd and Zane with a smoke tendril dancing above their heads.
"Where's my sister!?" Kai shouted, loud enough to over-sound the rain.
"She's okay! She's dealing with the fire!" Zane replied.
"How could you leave her there like that!"
"She'll be fine! For now, we have bigger things to worry about!" He said while pointing to Cole's bunk. "Where's Cole!?"
Kai didn't think. He just acted with instinct, running to the bed and peeling off the comforter. The pillows were there, scattered everywhere but there. The blanket was there, dangling off the edge of the bunk. Even the family-sized bag of chips was there, laying against the board. What wasn't there was their black-clad-covered brother. Kai rubbed his head, in deep thought. He must've gotten up earlier. But where was he now?
"Where is he!?" Jay panicked. He ran out of the room with everyone else following. "Cole!" Everyone yelped as a part of the roof fell off.
"We need to leave, Jay!" Zane said.
"No, we need to find him!" Lloyd argued.
"It's better if the rest of us escape than none of us!" Kai said.
"Cole is my brother and he's yours too! You would stay back if it was your sister!" The flames were getting closer, roaring at their faces. Zane managed to freeze over some but he wouldn't be able to stop them for long.
"Don't you dare bring my sister into this," Kai growled and then started coughing.
"We have to get out of here!" Zane interjected, grabbing Jay and Lloyd's arms and dragging them.
Nya battled another flare of fire down to where smoke was drifting out of the wood floor. She sprayed some more water from her fingers. The sensation felt cool, like lowering your hand into the sea.
She listened to the shouting in the distance. Words like need, dare, and sister were the heaviest. She wrestled down another crackling flame. Kai better not be talking about her. She was old enough to be on her own but apparently young enough to be looked down onto. How could she prove to him she could be independent? And she tried. Many, many times.
The first time was when she proved she could be Samurai X. "All this time, I've been trying to protect you, but you never needed it," was what Kai had said to her that day, as she clutched her helmet in her hand.
The second time was when she proved she could be a water ninja. "My little sister, growing up and starting to become something better than me." The words meant so much to her, there and then, in the peaceful teashop, hugging her brother.
The latest time was when she found her true potential. "I'm so proud of you! You proved that you are more than just my baby sister!"
But those were all just… words. When was Kai actually gonna take her seriously? When would he actually mean it? She kicked over a floorboard. When would he stop-
Sprawling on the floor, was a figure dressed in black, unconscious, with his hand inconsistently swung on his face.
It was Cole.
It was Cole.
She panicked and looked around, frantically. Cole was here- why was he here? If Cole was… the guys were probably worrying… for nothing.
Well, maybe it wasn't 'for nothing' because a small pool of blood was forming under his head, growing by the instant. Nya threw her arm beneath his shoulder and used the other to balance him up. She let his head drop onto her shoulder.
He was so pale, so pale, so pale-
So, so pale.
She gasped in alarm when she saw a huge cut on the right side of his forehead, dripping with thick red liquid. She dropped down her arm to check his pulse, in jitters the whole time.
"He should be fine," Nya coaxed herself but that didn't help the situation.
"Guys!" She yelled. She waited in panic for a response.
"Nya! We can't find Cole!" Someone- probably her brother- answered faintly, after a minute.
"I know! He's right here! Come quickly." For a moment she had an internal panic attack, because what if they didn't hear her? She needed them. Cole needed them.
And then she heard footsteps. Small footsteps getting louder by the minute. She sighed in relief and adjusted her grip on Cole so she could put out the flames as well.
"Nya!" Kai yelled, running to give her a hug because she was okay and that's all that mattered to him and he couldn't imagine-
His body stiffened in place.
He just… stared. He didn't even move to Cole. Because he was just so pale. Jay broke the encased silence and ran over.
"Cole! Are you okay? Please give me a sign," he pleaded, tears surging down his cheeks. Zane pushed past and eyed the statues of Kai and Lloyd which were gawking, finding the nindroid to be surprisingly calm. He scanned up and down, rays of blue light emanating from his optical sensors, everyone else praying for the best. The whole situation was surreal.
"He'll be okay," he announced, "It seems to be a grade two concussion and a meager amount of blood loss but overall he looks okay."
Everyone breathed a sigh of… relief, Jay wiping his tears and standing a bit taller. Just as Kai and Lloyd were nearing, yet another large fragment of the ceiling crumbled in their way, the dust floating lightly in the air.
"Let's go!" Kai commanded as Lloyd and Jay hauled Cole along, stiffly. They turned in one direction, but there was already a conflagration there. Then they headed toward the back door which was- fortunately- intact.
"Go, go!" He barked, motioning them to flee. He stepped last- right before another hunk of lumber obstructed the route.
They finally arrived outside, ignoring their socks getting soaked in the murky water and the liquid clouding their vision. It would make its way down their shirts, then dribble down their backs, adding to the enormous puddles beneath their feet which would eventually dry up and crackle, forming thin sheets of chipping black tar. But they weren't out of the woods yet.
"Set him down here," Lloyd instructed, whipping his head in the other direction. "Nya, you go get the bounty." She nodded and trampled down the steps, splashing her toes in the water with each jog.
Kai looked over to Cole, hesitantly extended his fingertips to Cole's head. He stroked his raven tresses and formed a rough parting through the middle. He continued brushing his fingers through his hair but in a soothing way. He vaguely remembered when his mother used to do the same thing to him, coaxing him to sleep. Even now, sometimes he liked to pretend his mother was there, massaging his head like that. Only Nya knew this but he had made her swear upon the First Spinjitzu Master that she wouldn't tell anyone, even if she was held at gunpoint. Some things never changed. He watched Cole flinch in his unconsciousness. He was really so pale.
Ten minutes later, everything was still the same. He was still stroking Cole's hair but subconsciously, Jay paced around, and Lloyd muttered things under his breath.
"Where is she?" Kai heard. Zane scanned Cole again, probably because Jay kept bugging him about it every few seconds.
"How is he now Zane?" "He looks worse than before." "Is he okay?" "Check again, you could be wrong."
No matter how many times he tried to convince Jay he was fine, he wouldn't calm down and soon they were back to square one.
Nya finally arrived, her hand on the huge flying ship's wheel. The fire brushed against the ship's hull, cutting a black line in the center. The rain pitter-pattered on the rough oak planks, sliding down the slate ceilings, the beat rhythmic.
"Let's go!" Lloyd said. Zane and Kai grabbed Cole and hauled him onto the bounty, his black hair now matted with sweat and rainwater. Kai tried to maintain the same deadpan expression on his face- the one that Zane always wore- but he couldn't help but panic. They stopped in the middle of the infirmary with pale walls and a hospital bed in the corner. There was a green bean bag chair in the corner with a bending reading light and a three feet bookshelf on the left side of the sack. A small table stood next to the bed with a few medical supplies and a first aid kit but other than that, the room was empty.
"Put him in the bed," Nya said. "Kai maybe you should..." He nodded his head, knowing that arguing would not change the fact that Cole was lying there bleeding, unconscious.
From then on, they never passed the 12:36 mark in any movie without checking the halls first.
He had a different dream this time:
Cole walked in, eyeing the supposed "positive" pictures held on the walls, displaying things like "Get better!" and "There's no use worrying for nothing!"
But the cheesy hospital slogans didn't help Cole's crimson state of mind, the feeling that he was drowning in the ocean in the middle of summer, the tide tugging at his ankles. He might as well be choking on the saltwater right now, spitting out a variety of bubbles through his nose.
And it wasn't just because of the ever drooling sweat soaking his shirt. It was the spiking anxiety in his stomach, the curdling of dread in his blood that made him feel like he was sinking.
His heart ricocheted in his chest and the liquid on his palms felt as if they could drip into vast pools of angst.
He glanced around the sickbay for what he hoped wouldn't be the last time. He'd been spending his nights, his days, his hours, his seconds, wishing for his mom to step out of the clinic doors- healthy and energetic- by herself, unreliant on canes and wheelchairs.
But now what he prayed for on his nights, his days, his hours, his seconds was for this not to be her final heavy wheezes and not his final days in this stupid hospital. Cole attempted to stifle his tears but couldn't prevent a few falling onto his gray sneakers. He quickly rubbed his bloodshot eyes with his sweater sleeve. His mother was depending on him. He had to be the strong one for once.
Lilly lay, bound to the hospital bed, looking exhausted. Even if she wanted to, she didn't have the energy to sit up and greet him and kiss him all over, let alone open her eyes. But she managed to turn her head to face Cole because- even though she didn't want to face it- the truth was this would be the last time she would look at him.
Cole ran up to his mother and hesitantly threw her arms around her gently.
"Mom!" He yelled. She forced a light smile. Cole's eyes began to shine with tears. 'Hold it in,' he thought to himself.
"Are you going to be alright?" Her smile faded and she shifted her head back to staring into space. One with no twinkly stars or the engaging patterns of purples, blues, and blacks. Cole knew she couldn't lie about the inevitable but it was much easier dodging the obvious than accepting the truth. He knew it but he wasn't ready to take it in. He rested his head on her stomach and couldn't hold in the two teardrops that came out of his eyes.
"Don't cry," she whispered, her eyes still locked on the ceiling. Cole slowly pushed his head up to face her; a gesture she did not return. He felt like he just stepped into the stream of sorrow, the water threatening to rise farther up his legs. "There's no reason to be crying."
"But," his voice cracked and a hiccup escaped his lips. "You're… dying."
Ahh, there it was. The obvious truth, yet the most painful thing that ever struck their hearts. But if it was, Lilly refused to show it.
"I'm not dying honey," she dryly chuckled, "Dying means you'll be gone."
"But you will be gone."
"Maybe I won't be with you physically to make you a chocolate cake or take you to school but I'll never be gone as long as you don't forget me. In a way, I'll always be with you," She smiled. "Do me a favor and don't take it as death. I'm just going to sleep."
'She's just going to sleep, she's just going to sleep.' Cole thought. "I love you, mom."
"Me too. Promise me you'll never forget me?"
"I promise," he choked out. He was now knee-deep in the river. 'Just sleep, just sleep'
"Honey?" Lilly spoke out after a few minutes. Cole immediately looked up. "I'm so sorry I can't be a part of your life. I'm sorry I can't see you grow up, but whatever you choose to do with your life, know that I would be proud of you. Just hold on for me okay? Hold on."
She took a deep breath and sighed, which turned into a heavy, painful cough. "Goodnight," was now the word he hated the most in his life. The word that haunted him every time he went to bed, and sometimes in dreams. It was the word that flew off the pages off the books, and circled his waist with multiple rounds, flying out the window and coming back next time, torturing him once again. It was the last word his mother said. He inhaled sharply as the water pulled him in intensely, knowing he would never be able to get back up to the surface. He would be forever drowning.
He should have wailed. He should have screamed. He should have clung to his knees and sobbed until Tuesday. But he only gripped his mother's lifeless wrist and quietly let the tears fall one by one, not even bothering to wipe the ticklish water on his face.
His mother died a hero, maybe not to the world but to everyone who knew her. Especially to Cole.
"Cole, wake up!" His ears perked as he heard a muffled shout that he was sure he never heard before but sounded oddly familiar. He quickly brushed it off and continued crying.
"Cole, wake up!" It was a little louder now. He looked up at his mom's face cautiously, hoping she wouldn't spring back, half undead. Instead, as soon his eyes locked onto her, she immediately disintegrated into black dust.
"COLE! WAKE UP!" The room flickered to black.
Cole woke up, panting heavily with tears streaming down his face. "Wh-what?"
"Oh my god! It sounds like you were having a nightmare!" Jay yelled. Zane handed Cole a tissue to dry his tears as he glanced around. The first thing that came like a bullet was his painful migraine. It felt like his head was rammed over by a tank then started completely splitting down the middle. The second thing he noticed was the white light dangling in the middle of the room seemed really bright. Like the sixty-watt bulb was replaced by a thousand-watt one. He had to squint so the lights wouldn't blind him.
"Why is it so bright in here?" Cole slurred.
"You have a concussion," Zane stated simply. "You may have a few symptoms for a few days such as being sensitive to bright lights and sound."
Jay added in, "Yeah, a good chunk of the roof fell on top of you and so we evacuated the fire in the monastery-"
"There was a fire in the monastery? For a third time?"
"Yeah… don't you remember?" Jay cocked his head.
"I'm mildly surprised. This is another concussion symptom- to forget what happened near the incident. But this time it was struck by lightning," Zane said bluntly.
"Wow," Cole drew his eyebrows together, "Wu has got to stop meditating on top of mountains."
"We arrived at the bounty and Nya cleaned off the blood on your forehead and then Zane and I decided to stay here and wait for you to wake up." Cole cautiously touched his forehead and felt a thin bandage wrapped around his head a few times. A part of the paper was wet from where the deep gash was made. Jay sighed and brought himself to sit at the edge of the bed while Zane dragged a chair over.
"How are you feeling?" Jay showed he genuinely cared.
"Physically? It feels like my head has been slammed against a stone wall about fifty times."
"How about emotionally?" Cole turned his head away to stare at the wall, crossing his arms, as red as a tomato.
When he didn't answer, Zane said, "I think it's a good time to tell us about your nightmare."
"H-how did y-you know?"
"You were crying and whispering in your sleep."
When they thought he wasn't going to answer, he said, "Well… I reimagined my mother's death today."
Zane and Jay exchanged concerned looks. "What happened?" Jay asked.
"I-It was a-almost the s-same." Cole developed a sudden interest for the floor, attempting to hold back tears but he couldn't stifle an ugly sob. Jay's supple heart immediately snapped. "Except th-this time, m-my d-dad wasn't th-there."
"She s-said most of the w-words she s-said l-last time," His breath hitched as he narrated, and his voice cracked frequently during his telling. "And in th-the end… in the end, she turned into dust. And th-that's when you w-woke me up. When I watched her d-die again."
It struck tenfold.
Jay couldn't believe his ears. Here he was, his best friend, the strongest person he had ever known who could beat an entire army of skeletons and could come out more or less unscathed was having an emotional breakdown. And what was worse was that he didn't know what to do about it. He wanted to run up to him, pull him into a hug, and tell him it was okay to cry and that they were here for him but all he could do was stiffen up and freeze, mute to his friend and the world.
"Cole… If you don't wish to talk about it you may stop," Zane comforted, sensing his dilemma. He just hiccuped and blinked in response.
Jay immediately felt his limbs loosen. "Y-yeah. We could talk about something else," he faltered.
"Th-thanks guys." Cole cleaned up his tears. What was he saying thanks for? Jay could do nothing but stand there; his friend was crying and he just froze. He was a terrible friend. He wasn't even deserving of being Cole's friend!
After a few minutes of pin-dropping silence, Jay looked up from his lap and noticed how Cole looked really dizzy, and a little green.
Zane apparently noticed it too. "Cole? Are you okay, brother?"
"Y..yeah-" He suddenly looked a lot more green and pale. His breathing quickened and he clamped his hands over his mouth. Zane immediately grabbed the nearby trash bin and handed it over to Cole, who immediately started gagging into the black wastebasket.
"Oh my god! Is he okay!?" Jay yelled, springing to his feet in an instant. Cole tried to answer, but he was too busy throwing up green. When did he have lettuce?
"Don't worry Jay. This is another concussion symptom." That didn't help Jay's cause or get rid of the worry sewn onto his face. He patted his best friend's back to get all that green out of his system. The stench of vomit drifted in the air, which also made Jay want to throw up. So he held his breath and squeezed his nose to wait for it to be over.
So... what you think? 'Aight? Sucks? Fine? Tell me! I was so tired, I didn't really revise the last part (not surprised) so I'm sorry if it isn't the best. But it's long right? Okay so... why am I still here? XD