Story I – Chapter III [Part II]
For all previous parts, go here! 🙂
Continued from Story I Chapter III [Part I]:
His grandfather was seated outside on the terrace when Elijah and Will finally walked up to the house. Although Will stopped at sight of his grandfather and dipped in a bow, Elijah remained passive as he bypassed Will and headed towards the door. He wasn’t in the mood for lectures or reprieves, nor was he in the mood for a fight.
“What happened today?” His grandfather’s question didn’t give him pause. Intending to ignore it and him, Elijah kept walking forward until Daniel came in front of him and lightly put a hand on his arm. Elijah was about to shrug it off when Daniel bent forward and whispered in his ear. “He is worried! Please!”
Elijah closed his eyes for a brief moment. All be damned was his first thought at Daniel’s plea but nevertheless, he turned back to face his grandfather. For everyone’s sake, Elijah knew he needed to take this head on.
“Nothing to be worried about. As you can see, I’m still hale and hearty in front of you! Seems I won’t die so easily.” Elijah’s reply was short, his voice curt and cutting.
“Why would you do that at the expense of your own well being, at the expense of your own life? Why are you so reckless? Is it worth it all, putting your life on the line all the time just for fun?” His grandfather got up from his seat and faced him as he spoke.
“I don’t know if it’s worth it, but it sure is fun.” Elijah’s voice was as careless as could be. It only served to spark his grandfather’s temper even further.
“Why do you have to be this way? If revenge is what you want, climb up and take it from me.” This time his grandfather spoke harshly and loudly, emotions underlying his words. Elijah remained silent. Although he appeared strong on the outside, Elijah knew better than to take things at face value and saw his grandfather’s hand tighten and knuckles whiten on the walking stick he held. Yet whatever empathy and familiarity, Elijah hadn’t yet learnt how to forgive or was perhaps unable to. The past was undoubtedly long gone, but it was still too raw and too hurtful, however much time had already passed.
“Doing that would be too merciful on you!” Elijah muttered quietly. “And I’ve no intention of taking on this headache” He made a casual gesture pointing to the house around “as you so hope!”
“There’ll be a time when you can understand the reason and the importance of what I did and why! Try to look beyond your own sphere and see the world out there! You’re the one who has to continue everything.” His grandfather continued even as he realized all he would get now was just Elijah’s silence, even if he understood the reason behind it, there was nothing he could do. Deep down, his thoughts were the same as Elijah’s. No matter what, family was still family. Yet he’d been forced to make choices that had cost him all he’d held dear. There’d be a day he’d have to tell Elijah the whole truth but this was not yet the right time and until then, he had to force Elijah to change himself. And he knew that the best way to draw Elijah out of his shell was to force him by hook or crook. More than anything, he recognized Elijah’s temperament and temper. It seemed like he was looking at a spitting image of himself in his own younger days. The best way, he knew, was to provoke Elijah. His words had the effect he’d desired as he saw anger flash in his grandson’s eyes. He could feel a chill in the air as Elijah spoke up.
“No worries! I doubt I’ll be able to do as good a job as you. Unlike you, I could probably never sacrifice loved ones! I’d rather make sure I never have ones to sacrifice.”
“Don’t make choices you will regret, Elijah. Loneliness is not as grand as you envision it. And it’s not your destiny to stay alone.”
“Destiny?” Elijah scoffed at his words as he looked his grandfather in the eye. “The destiny you believed in cost me my family. I don’t believe in destiny, and especially not one you would envision.”
“Those were choices we all made, not just me! One day you’ll see the reason why!”
“What makes you think I’d even want to understand something like that?”
“Don’t cut yourself off or one day you’ll have nothing but misery. You’ll lose everything.”
“I’ll be miserable?” Elijah laughed loudly and incredulously as he rolled his eyes before turning back to his grandfather and when he spoke again, his eyes burned as much as his words were harsh and their undertone even harsher. “What do you think I already am? I already lost my everything. They already died once for your cause. I doubt they’ll be able to do it again.”
The air seemed to turn closer to icy cold, if that was even possible. His grandfather winced at his words but knowing the resentment that caused them, he stayed quiet for a few moments before changing the subject.
“I heard he’s back. The boy, did you meet him?”He couldn’t see Elijah’s face but saw his shoulders tense as he spoke.
“There’s no need to. There are only two relations that can exist between humans and demons. One is of dependence and the other of competence. I doubt he and I will be either.” Elijah turned back to him with eyes cold as ice as he said.
“The winds are changing Elijah.” His grandfather’s voice was soft. “You’ll know that better than most.”
Elijah turned away without a word and walked into the house. His grandfather turned towards Will once he was gone.
“Take more care of him and guide him as best as you can.” He instructed the familiar. “Soon, he’ll need it.”
Will simply nodded as he bowed once again and then headed inside.
Su Ae and Annie had barely taken ten steps after they exited the cafeteria when Su Ae caught sight of Uther, sitting alone under one of the old trees by the verandah. She’d seen him that morning just after their first class, chatting with Annie in the hallway but by the time she’d joined Annie, he’d left. Considering he’d been the one to approach them yesterday and she herself hadn’t reciprocated his friendly gesture yesterday, Su Ae was sure Uther wouldn’t be approaching them in the same manner again especially when she was sure he had deliberately avoided her in the morning. While she’d have thought of it as a relief initially, last night’s chat with Ian had changed her mind. Maybe it would be okay to open up a little, if not trust completely.
Annie’s voice drew her out of her thoughtful reverie. She hadn’t even realized she was frozen on the spot, looking out to the grounds.
“Hey, snap out of it!” Annie was waving her hand in front of Su Ae’s face. “What is it?”
Su Ae bit her lip as she looked at her friend and stayed silent for a few moments before speaking up.
“It’s just- I’m confused about how to approach something.” She turned back to look at Uther for the briefest glance as she spoke. “Common sense and logic is telling me that it’s not something good and probably best left alone but I can’t shake the feeling that it’s not necessarily so and I might be overreacting.”
Annie picked up on the underlying hint when she followed Su Ae’s gaze. She’d noticed Su Ae’s discomfort when Uther was near and didn’t know the reason for it but knew her friend well enough to know it wasn’t ungrounded or a trifle matter.
“I don’t know exactly what has you so guarded against this thing.” She told her friend. “But maybe it’s best to take chances every now and then especially if that’s what your heart is telling you.”
When Su Ae still looked doubtful, Annie continued.
“Taking risks is dangerous, but life is boring without them so don’t be afraid to take such chances-you were the one who told me that, remember? Instead of your mind and logic, maybe instinct and heart would guide you better. Don’t judge a book by its cover or a person by his background or what people already say. Make your own judgments, your own perspective.”
Su Ae smiled at her friends words. “How come you speak so much like Ian?”
“Great minds think alike!” Annie told her with a wink. “And we know just the right buttons to push on you.”
“Hmmm.” Su Ae looked down at the ground as she mulled over Annie’s advice.
“Tell you what; I’m heading over to the library.” Annie told her. “There are some books I need to borrow. How about you wait for me here?”
“But… Wait!” Before Su Ae could argue, Annie was off with a wave and a smile. Su Ae turned to scan her surroundings. Some people were slowly filing in and out of the cafeteria area. It was just after half break so most of the grounds and hallways were mostly deserted. For a few moments, she simply stood there looking around and then turning back to watch Uther. Finally making a decision, she headed off the verandah.
“May I join you?” She could tell Uther was surprised by the briefest flicker in his eyes when he looked up from his book. She was surprised at herself too, but like Ian had said, it won’t help to skirt around. Reality won’t be changed, but maybe they could change the way it was translated.
“Sure.” The smile came easily, and even though it lit up his face, Su Ae could see the wariness still in his eyes. Truly a hunter’s spirit, she thought to herself with an inward chuckle as she sat down.
“I’m waiting for Annie. She had a few books to borrow from the library.”
Uther just nodded politely after stealing his eyes away from the book for a moment and then turned back to it. Su Ae remained silent for a few more moments but mostly because she couldn’t think of anything to say. Finally, she settled on chitchat.
“You were late this morning.”
Now there was silence from him. Su Ae felt his gaze most keenly when he turned to look at her. “Just a little.”
“Do you like the campus?” Su Ae asked but bit her tongue right after she’d said the words. Seriously, she thought to herself, do you like the campus? What was wrong with her. She was surprised Uther didn’t burst into laughter because she was sure there was a telling glint in his eyes. He just nodded before turning back to his book.
This time, Su Ae scratched her head as she looked around briefly, again thinking of what to say.
“You’ve been away from here long?”
“Correct me if I’m wrong but I got the impression yesterday that you didn’t like me and wanted me as away as possible.” Uther ignored her question and asked her as he closed his book, leaned back against the bench and turned to look at her again.
“Yes-No, I mean I didn’t dislike you. It’s just, I was surprised.” Su Ae replied truthfully. “And I didn’t know how to react. I think you can tell why.”
“I know there’s usually been -” He searched for the word. “Friction amongst our kinds, but I thought the whole point of the peace was to try and eliminate that.”
“I’ve been away from the world, Uther, all my life so I don’t know its ways. I’m sorry. I’ve never been beyond a few people and certainly never with a hunter, or a future hunter for that matter” she gestured at him, “so my social skills and knowledge lack quite a bit. And I find it hard to trust or be open with people easily. But like you said, the point is to try and eliminate that.”
As a peace offering, she held out her hand while she used is own words to driver her point home. Uther stared at it for a minute with a raised brow before leveling his gaze at her face. She kept her smile steady even though her heart was racing with nerves. They were both almost equal to opposite sides of the coin. What they were and who they were was a reality that would always stand between them. Yet they could allow themselves to bypass that as long as they both held the same perspective. Hoping that would be true, Su Ae had taken this step forward, but it wasn’t necessarily a wise choice and she had no idea if Uther would even accept her trust.
“You’ve got a point!” After what seemed like eternity, Uther took her outstretched hand and smiled as he looked at her. She didn’t even realize she had been holding her breath until she finally sighed when he took her hand and then panted for breath, causing Uther to burst out into a laugh, still holding her hand as he added. “You’re a strange one, apart from the obvious, that is.”
Su Ae also burst into a smile at that as her mind assured her this was a friendship she wouldn’t regret, and it was this scene which Elijah witnessed as he headed towards the cafeteria. For a few moments, he froze as he watched them both, his face inscrutable with a faraway look in his eyes. Will wisely remained silent when he caught up a few moments later and simply lounged against a column.
Moments later, when Elijah tore his gaze away and started to walk away, Will joined him again as nonchalantly as ever. After silence for a few moments, Will whispered lightly, “Does she remind you of her? She would have been the same age now.”
Elijah made no comment and Will didn’t press the issue any further.
To be continued in Chapter III [Part III]…