Author’s Note: There will be some sex talk in this chapter.
Lumie sat on the floor, arms hugging her knees. I paced around, constantly shooting looks at the little peestick sitting on the counter. I had gone to the store, exhausted from all the walking, and bought a pregnancy test. The clerk gave me weird stares and made a comment about me getting my girlfriend in trouble and ‘kids today’. I just stared the clerk straight in the eye and told her, “Don’t you dare harass people for buying this stuff. Your customer’s personal lives are not any of your business.”
Then I hurried back to the house and leaned against the bathroom door on the hall side while she peed. The second her pants were back up she yanked me back into the bathroom and now we were waiting.
“We did it the day before Valentine’s day,” she said with a sigh. “I’ve been trying to hide it from you since…”
“Well, you managed,” I muttered. “It’s only been three weeks then. Only three… what makes you think…?”
“I’m two days late,” she said stiffly. “And I’ve been having symptoms. Cramping, and fatigue, and nausea, and my boobs–“
“OKAY NO THAT’S FINE,” I said very loudly before she could continue. She gave a half-smile then went back to hugging her legs, staring at the test. I returned to pacing and jumped about fifty feet in the air when my phone went off. Lumie jerked and stared in horror at the bleeps from my pocket. I took the phone out, my heart slipping slightly when I saw ‘Kims’ splashed across the display.
“I’ll b-be back in a second, I promise,” I said as I slipped out of the bathroom, answering the call. “Kim?”
“Fine, Zaid, let’s talk.”
“Oh Watcher, now is not a very good time–“
“WHAT?” she screeched and I flinched, rubbing my ear since it was now hurting. “You’ve been all needy and stuff wanting to talk and now you can’t?”
I slowly exhaled. Keep calm, Zaidy boy, Lumie needs you.
>Yes I do,< she added softly.
“Kim, look I–I do need to talk to you, but now is a reeallly bad time, can I call back in an hour or–or two? Please?” I asked hopefully.
There was a tsking sound. “You’ve been trying to talk to me and being a jerk about it, and now that I have time suddenly you don’t?”
“That’s kinda low. And you complain that I’m busy?”
>Wow,< Lumie thought, following this along through our minds. >What a–< “Kim!” I said out loud, cutting off my sister as if Kim could hear her. “Seriously, I do need to talk but right now there’s a bit of a family emergency.”
Kim snorted and then sighed loudly. “Then obviously you don’t really need to talk to me. We’ll talk tomorrow… or something. I gotta go.”
“Kim please, can’t we talk tonight?”
“Obviously not. If you can’t take two seconds out of your schedule to talk to me, then…”
That was it. The last straw just a-floating away. “Fine,” I hissed. “Then I guess we don’t have time to be dating anymore.”
“We’re through Kim!”
“WATCHER! I take time out of my schedule and you–“
“I’ve been asking you to–oh forget it, just forget it! We’re over!” I hung up the phone and then went back into the bathroom, trying not to seethe. Lumie rose to her feet, staring at me with a mix of sadness and curiosity. I just shook my head and went to look at the test which was still processing the pee or something. “Another minute, I think.”
“What about… Kim…?” Lumie asked.
I shrugged and gave her a smile. “She’s been acting weird for a while. Not wanting to be around me since the school started making fun of me. And making up excuses not to talk. No big deal. It’s fine. Honest.”
Lumie’s arms went around me and she buried her face in my arm. I gave her a half hug and then after another minute, we just kept our eyes on the test. Neither of us moved closer to look. I asked if she wanted to and she backed up far, shaking her head. So it was up to me. I grabbed the box and studied the instructions carefully before peering at the test. I didn’t even need to say it, because as soon as I saw it, she knew.
“Oh Watcher,” she cried. “I’m pregnant.”
Lumes and I spent the rest of the day locked in my room, since it was easier to lock one sibling out than two. When Vilkas tried to get in I yelled at him to go away. He pounded at the door till I cracked open the door and told him that Lumie wasn’t feeling well and I was giving her twin support. He finally grumbled off, and I locked the door again, returning to Lumie’s side. I held her tight, not really saying anything since what could I say?
I was in shock. Eventually I was angry. Not at her but at Saul. I put up my barriers so my thoughts wouldn’t make her worse than she was already feeling. How could this happen? I kept wondering. How could she have… done that? How could I not know until now? Was she really that good at hiding things from me, or was I just so wrapped up in my own problems that I just plain didn’t notice?
That last part made me feel sick because I suspected it was more that than her talent at hiding things. I didn’t even realize… I’m such a bad brother… She had been stressing over something since Valentine’s Day and I was just… I didn’t notice, I didn’t bother, I was self-absorbed. I wanted so bad to apologize, but wasn’t sure if now was the time. I couldn’t imagine how I felt if I was going through some big change in my life and my sister was too busy with her own life to notice. Like, the other siblings were one thing but jeeeeeeez Lumes and I were connected. We never had secrets from one another. Until this, and it was an unintentional secret, because I was selfish.
Lumie tightened her arms around me and I held her tighter. “What am I going to do?” she finally asked after three hours of pretty much silence. We both skipped dinner though I was starving and I knew she was too, but neither of us wanted to go downstairs. Pa said a few worried words through the door but I managed to get rid of him.
“I don’t know,” I said, wishing I had an answer for her. I pulled back and tentatively put my hands on her stomach since she mentally gave me the OK.
“I’m gonna get FAT!” she wailed and then put her hands over her mouth, terrified someone heard her. “My boobs are gonna get huge, my ankles are gonna swell, and I’m gonna pee like every ten minutes.”
“Didn’t you even use any protection?” I hissed out.
She gave me a long look. “Not exactly.”
She shook her head wildly. “He t-told me he didn’t have any condoms…”
“You can get free condoms from school,” I sneered. “Like, doesn’t the nurse hand them out or something?”
“He told me those were too small. He said he’d p-pull out before… before…”
“Yeah, well, now I’m gonna pull out his intestines,” I snarled, feeling angry. Angry at Saul. A bit angry at Lumie for falling for it, and she just began sobbing as I thought that. “I’m sorry, I–I know it’s… I’m sorry.”
“It’s true though,” she sniffled. “I believed him. I’m a grade A moron.”
“No you’re not. Not a grade A one. Maybe a B-minus.” I got the response I had hoped for, which was a smile. “Look, you’re only three weeks in. You have a while to decide about–about things. But you’re gonna have to tell Pa and Dad.”
Lumie made a face then her whole body just slumped. “I don’t know how I’m going to do that, they’re going to flip, Dad is gonna kill me and then kill Saul and then probably bring him back to life and kill him again. And yes I know you want to be in that line of murdering Saul. So will Vilkas. So will Presea and Gladdy, probably. The only one who won’t will be Pa and that’s cause he’ll be too busy crying. Yes I know you think Saul is a jerk, but he’s not really.”
“For Watcher’s sake, he said he could pull out. He’s a total jerk. He’s disgusting. Only disgusting pigs do things like that.”
“It’s my fault too you know, I–I could have made him wear something. I could have bought him a bigger condom. Or gotten the female thingie-doohicker. Or gone on the pill…”
“Did you know before that day that you were gonna, uh, ‘do it’?” I asked, not sure about this part of things but she shook her head. “Then how could you have gone on the pill?”
“I DON’T KNOW!” she cried and I hugged her again, trying to calm her down.
“I’m sorry,” we both said at the same time and then she pulled away, wiping her eyes. Then, after a few more minutes, we began talking slowly about her options. Her three options. She admitted that she wasn’t sure if the one was even an option. We talked about that, and after an hour of back and forth she came to the conclusion that abortion was not gonna be one of her options. I never put in my thoughts of whether she should or not, and made sure my barriers were up so I couldn’t influence her decision.
Before we could talk anymore, Vilkas was at the door again. It was after nine already and he wanted in his room. “Lumie’s staying in here tonight,” I called through the door.
“Dang it, Zaid, open the door!” he growled, giving the barrier a kick.
I did open the door then and stepped out, shutting it behind me before he could get in. He folded his arms and raised one eyebrow, giving me what we all dubbed his ‘wolfy’ glare. “Lumie is feeling real bad right now, and I mean extremely, extremely bad. She’s going through a situation. She needs me right now. Please, for her sake, can’t you sleep on the couch? Please? For Lumie?”
“All right,” he said. “I know you’re telling the truth. I’ll sleep downstairs tonight.”
“All right, th–wait. C-can I ask you something?” I asked and he gave me a look, waiting. I gnawed at my bottom lip and finally spoke. “How come you won’t tell Pa and Dad I’m telling the truth about my stalker?”
Vilkas looked rather surprised. I wasn’t sure if he’d give me a response but he did, thankfully. “Because I don’t think you have a stalker.”
“But you know I’m telling the–“
“I know you think you’re telling the truth!” he cut me off and I made a scoffing sound. “I think you’re imagining this. I don’t–“
“I’m NOT making this up, Vilkas!” I felt my temper boiling up and then suddenly I was able to take it off the burner. I breathed slowly a couple times then said, “Never mind, Lumie needs me right now so I don’t wanna get into this right now.”
Vilkas pulled back. “Whoa. This is serious, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, yeah it is.”
I held up my hand, shaking my head. “If it’s something she wants to talk about with those who aren’t psychically linked with her, then she’ll talk about it. Thanks for the couch thing. I–I’ll owe you one.” I returned to the bedroom and Lumie’s arms were back around me almost right away, feeling grateful for being able to share my room tonight.
We slept in the same bed. She started out in Vilkas’s bed but eventually came over, crawling into mine and clinging to me, crying randomly through the night. I didn’t care when she woke up me up with her tears, I just held her tight and whispered nonsensical, comforting words. We were both extremely hungry so at one point I ventured out of the room, after I thought everyone was asleep, and got some leftovers from the kitchen tiptoeing past the sleeping Vilkas though I was 100 percent sure I woke him up since he had super hearing. Thankfully he remained silent. When I reached the top of the stairs there was Dad.
“What’s going on?”
I looked down at the ground, trying to balance the food and bottles of pop. “I can’t talk about it right now.”
“Please, if she wants to talk about it she will,” I said, trying to act like I had with Vilkas. I didn’t want to say she’d definitely tell the others, but I did want them to know it was an option. I just really hoped she would talk to him. She’d have to eventually if she was gonna keep it.
Dad gave me a very concerned look before giving my bedroom door a concerned look. “Zaid, please. Something’s wrong. She–is she okay?”
“She’s… upset right now,” I slowly let out. I moved towards the door then hesitated. “Hey, by the way, Dad? I broke up with my girlfriend today.”
“Yeah, we’re over though. Just wanted to let you know. Night.” I went in, shutting and locking the door behind me. I could hear his beard bristling and knew he and Pa would be discussing me tonight instead of Lumie… and even though it wouldn’t really soften the blow, maybe it would help Lumie (when she told them about all this) that they knew I had also broken the stupid no-dating-till-sixteen rule.
In the morning she was feeling a lot better, though she didn’t want to go to school. We both faked being sick and even though Pa didn’t believe us that we were sick, he called the school to get us excused. Lumie and I stayed in my room pretty much the whole day. We didn’t talk about her pregnancy. She didn’t want to, and I didn’t bring it up. We played card games, board games, snacked on random food I brought–the only time she left the room was to go to the bathroom.
I had my phone turned off since my bout with Kim the previous day and when I turned it on to check I saw I had SOOOOO many missed messages. Missed calls and my texting inbox was full. Clay, Trin, Trysh, Kim, and AZ. Mostly Clay and Kim.
Pretty much everything from anyone not AZ was about my breakup with Kim. Kim was furious in all her messages and in one of them she even stated that if I didn’t answer her we were through. I laughed at that and texted her back. Kims i broke up w/u last night. Then I sent texts to Clay, Trin and Trysh all saying the same thing. yeah kim & i r over. It didn’t take long to hear back. Trysh.
Kim says she broke up w/you, Trysh kindly informed me. Then she said that Kim had been telling everyone she was the one who broke up with me. Shortly after, Clay informed me the same thing, then Kim texted me saying to delete her number.
I checked my voicemail from AZ, hoping to hear something nice. “Hey Zaid,” she said in a hushed, nervous tone. “Thanks for the other day. You’re not at school today? Uh, I was hoping to see you. Maybe we can meet Saturday at the mall…? I heard about your girlfriend, um, I’m sorry to hear that. I hope you’re all right. Please message me back, I think we should talk about–what we did before? I’d really a–” And there was a beep as the message cut it off.
I spent a while going through all my messages, my voicemails taking the longest. I finally got my phone cleaned out and before I could turn it off, Kim texted me again asking if I deleted her number. I just swiped the message away and went back to my twin.
Lumie and I did join the family for dinner, and it was quiet and awkward. Everyone kept glancing at Lumie who ate with her head held high, not offering anything about what’s been going on. I kept my head down, barely any space between my mouth and the plate. It was Thursday night, and Lumie did ask if she could stay home the next day too.
“I think it’d be a good idea,” Vilkas said and I glanced at him, but he was focusing on his food as well. I saw Lumie stiffen a bit and then I swallowed my food. Vilkas could sense hormones easily–he always knew when the girls were gonna be starting their times, which was on occasion a lifesaver if they were, uh, starting early. Never caught unawares. What if he knew…? He had to know. I looked at Lumie who stared back at me.
“All right but Monday you go back,” Dad said softly.
Lumie nodded, pushed her plate away, and fled up the stairs. I shoveled the rest of my food into my piehole and ran after her. We waited in my room until Vilkas came up the stairs, and I opened the door, grabbed his arm, and yanked him inside without even asking. He just looked at the two of us without a trace of confusion on his face. I knew then that he did know. My awareness spread to Lumie.
“Vilkas,” she said.
“Is it true?” he asked.
She looked at me, stepping closer and curling a couple fingers into the back of my shirt. >You tell him,< she urged. So I sucked in a careful breath and said, “You already know though, don’t you? You can sense that sort of thing.”
He focused on me then on her. “Yeah, I know.”
“How long as you known?” she asked, voice raspy.
Vilkas shrugged. “A while now. Probably longer than you.”
Lumie pushed me aside and punched him. He yelped and stumbled back, grasping his face. “Why didn’t you tell me?!” she demanded as she struggled for breath. “YOU SHOULD HAVE TOLD–“
“Told you what?!” Vilkas demanded, still cupping his nose. “That you’re pregnant? It’s not something I could damn well tell you, Lumes. If you had gone on unknowing another week or two I would have. But I was not going to my fifteen-year-old sister a week into her pregnancy and say ‘oh hey by the way your womb is a-cooking something there’.”
She stood straight, fists tight against her sides. “You would have told me if I didn’t know much longer?” she finally questioned.
He nodded and moved his hands. There was a bit of blood under his nose which he quickly wiped away. “I would have. I swear. But I–I couldn’t just tell you. Would you have told Presea or Gladdy if one of them was and you knew it before they did?”
Lumie turned to look at me and I spread my hands out. “No. No, I–I guess you’re right. I’m sorry. I’m just…”
“It’s fine.” He came over and wrapped his arms around her. Lumie buried her face against his chest. “I’m sorry, sweetie. I–I am. I… if there’s anything I can do, I will. If you need to keep sleeping in here I can stay down on the couch longer.”
“You can stay up here. I’ll share Zaid’s bed,” she said without consulting me in any way. When she noticed that in my head she turned, eyebrows pushing together in anxiety.
“It’s fine, you can,” I assured her and she slumped in relief. So for the second night in the row she was in my bed, clinging to me. Luckily this time she only woke up once or twice with her tears and in the morning she stayed in my bed while I got ready for school, not wanting to go, not wanting to face anyone or the gossip I knew would be waiting.
It wasn’t as bad as I thought though most the people didn’t talk to me. I passed Kim a few times. She was with some new friends and every single time I saw her coming I purposely turned my attention away so she would never catch me looking at her. In the afternoon she walked by me more times than she should have, when we were dating I didn’t see her in the halls as many times as I did that afternoon. I checked my phone a lot, dug around in my backpack or kept my eyes down on the ground as I walked. Finally at one point she purposely bumped into me. Before she could say anything, I apologized for bumping into her, told her I didn’t see her there, and kept walking. I could feel her glaring at my back as I went but pfffft, I didn’t give a hoot.
I talked to Clay a lot, Trysh a few times, and even AZ twice. We made plans to meet the next day though I wanted to talk to her now. Be patient, I told myself. Tomorrow hopefully she’ll explain more, I’ll–I’ll find out more about this crap.
AZ and I met at the library. I wasn’t sure exactly why but ah well. She was there when I arrived but before I could go over to her, she got up and walked off. Confused, I followed her. She made her way purposely through the library until we were in a corner, out of sight of everyone, and very alone. She took a book off the shelf and flipped it open, randomly turning the pages.
“Sorry,” she whispered. “For the secrecy. You have to understand, what we–we talk about can’t be overheard. We have to be careful. There’s a lot of bad people out there.”
“Are you being followed too?” I asked.
At that we both looked around. I completely expected to see someone in black lurking nearby but there was no one around. AZ shook her head. “I don’t know. Maybe sometimes. This place… Moonlight Falls… this area, it’s all wrong.”
“What do you mean?” My voice lowered to being barely audible. I felt the hairs stand up on the back of my neck, as if we were doing something… illegal.
Az shut the book and moved closer to me. “Throughout history anyone who is different is treated badly. Treated less. Now things are getting a bit better. Not great. But for… regular people… it’s going fairly well.” She tucked some of her hair behind one ear and bent in even closer. “But now there’s a new enemy.”
“The supernatural,” I said and she nodded.
“We’ve been around for a very long time. There are records dating back centuries. But we’ve always been hidden. And few. Very few. I wouldn’t have been surprised if some of us died out. But a while ago, like maybe two centuries–do you know this already?”
“Um, no, they don’t exactly teach Supernatural History 101 in school,” I said and AZ smiled broadly, giggling.
“No. They don’t. Well about two centuries ago there was this… weird… surge in magic. According to the research some of us magic-users have done… the stories say… it was like…” She tossed her head back and stared at the ceiling intently. “Someone jammed a plug in an outlet, you know? Magic just surged through the world. Increased. The supernaturals grew… stronger. Multiplied. Most the vampires you meet, the oldest ones will be around 200 years old. It’s almost completely impossible to meet one older. My mom says her friend’s uncle met one who was like, two hundred and fifty but there was something wrong with his memory.”
I crinkled my nose at that. “Wh-what do you mean?”
“Two hundred years ago something happened. Not just… with the magic in this world, but with–with time.”
“Time?” I exclaimed.
AZ raised her hands and made hushing sounds. I put my hand over my mouth, feeling guilty. “Yeah, time,” she whispered. “Haven’t you noticed how little things have changed? It’s like we’re stuck in a bubble. What year is it?”
I licked my lips, feeling a bit uncomfortable now. What the heck did this have to do with magic, and with my possibility of doing a bad thing? “2192,” I said. “Why?”
“You sure about that?”
I laughed, pushing my hat back and rubbing my forehead. “Yeah, AZ, I’m positive. I know what year it is.”
“Then why, when we look around us, and look in the history books, does it feel like the year 2000 just happened? This–time problem–coincided with the magic thing. And also the stories.”
“About you. Well, about someone who is gonna destroy magic.” She began fiddling with the ends of her hair, pinching off a few split hairs. “They started about two hundred years ago. When the supernatural population became stronger and started growing, and when time seemed to come to a grinding halt. No new inventions, no new medicine. Same problems, same everything.”
“Some things have changed, AZ, you can’t say they haven’t! Same-sex pregnancy, for one. That happened like in what, the twenty-thirties? And–“
AZ reached up and placed a finger on my lips. This motion felt more intimate than it should. My lips felt warm, and a pleasing shudder went through my body. She slowly pulled her finger away but in a way where she slid it down a bit, tugging slightly at my bottom lip so her fingertip gently swiped the inside. She stepped back, looking at her finger in wonderment before she blushed and wiped her finger off on her skirt. I stepped back as well, brilliantly red.
“Things have barely changed,” she said to the shelves as she wasn’t facing me anymore. “We keep counting the years but to be honest, I don’t see much point. Next year, the year that, and ten years down the line? You and I will be older but things will be the same. Cars will look the same, computers will look the same… nothing new. Nothing different. We’ll just be pretending time is going on when in reality, it’s not.”
“I don’t understand. What–“
“I have to go. I didn’t mean to go on about this.” She looked at her phone to check the time and let out a soft sigh.
“No! You c-can’t!” I said, grabbing her wrist. “Please, what about–what we were going to talk about? The stories, the theories you have about me?”
Her eyes met mine and I sorta understood what she meant about time standing still cause that’s what it felt like. I forgot everything as I bent down and kissed her purposely. She didn’t pull away, in fact she kissed back. Our arms went around one another and we kissed for a good, long while before finally staggering apart.
“I gotta go–“
“AZ, I didn’t mean–“
“No.” She pushed past me and hesitated at the end of the aisle, looking back at me. “Let’s meet Monday after school. At the mall.”
I got a goofy smile on my face at that. “Yeah. Maybe you could, uh, help me pick out some hair dye.”
“Oh?” Her eyebrows went high. “You going goth?” she inquired and I gave a shrug. “You’d look really good. But you know the kids at school will talk.”
“Pfft, they’re talking about me anyway. So, um, Monday?”
She nodded and then ran off. I just watched the empty spot where she had been then began drifting forward to head home. I couldn’t think about anything but that kiss, feeling electrified and happy. What about the fact you and Kim just broke up? I wondered but so what? Was I supposed to be in a mourning period or something? Trysh dumped Steve then kissed me and–
Trysh. Ohhh shnikey. I had forgotten about her when AZ and I kissed. Trysh. She had–we had–but… whoa. Great. I was getting myself into something bad here. No. Okay. Well, I barely knew AZ. Trysh and I had been friends since the previous summer. Ugh. Why was I getting myself into so many girl problems? Trysh? AZ? I liked them both. But which one did I like-like…? Course neither of them actually told me straight they liked me. Trysh had kissed me. I had kissed AZ (but she didn’t pull away). Man, I thought miserably, my good mood leaving me as I trudged along.
I finally reached home and banged inside. Before the door even swung shut, Pa was making whooping sounds and he ran over, stumbling and nearly falling. “ZAID!” he shrieked, hugging me tightly, practically jumping on me. I grabbed hold of him so he wouldn’t fall. I may have only been fifteen but I was already about nine inches taller than him, and much stronger. I could pick him up if I wanted to. “Zaid!” Pa hugged me tightly.
“What? What? What happened?” I asked, searching in my mind for Lumie but she admitted she wasn’t sure what was causing Pa’s excitement. I wriggled free and began trying to calm him down. He was bouncing and grinning and hugging. “Pa, what happened?” I asked and finally he was able to collect himself and tell me the wonderful news.
“I just got an e-mail from Uncle Kay,” he said and now I was beaming. “He’s okay, Zaid. Uncle Kay is fine!”