In which Ami muses.
I awoke suddenly, the sensations of the beach sand and sun still clinging to me as I struggled to full wakefulness. It took a moment for me to center myself and place myself securely in my bedroom, nestled beneath tepid blankets and spooned up behind a warm, solid body. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness in the bedroom, the familiar shapes that made out my dresser and armoire and aligned themselves with the comfortable sounds of the sleeping world and the slumbering body beside me, I slowly let out the breath I hadn't realized I was holding and worked to figure what woke me.
I knew immediately that it was neither supernatural nor preternatural. The room was too warm for that, and the familiar tingling along my nerve cells like millions of tiny cool fingers dancing under my skin was absent. As was the stifling pressure of awareness; besides, the dead weren't exactly polite when they tried to make themselves known. Still, I did a quick sweep of the room, reaching out with my spirit fingers as Aunt Rose had taught me and coming up empty. It was always best to check; the one time I hadn't checked, I came face to face with the specter of a teenage girl who'd used a sawed off shotgun to end her life. It wasn't any less ghastly on a ghost than it was on the real body.
Convinced that I was alone, I turned inward and the dream drifted back to me. The same dream I'd been having now for two weeks. Only it wasn't a dream. It was a memory; a memory that was five and half years old to be precise. That day at the beach, that visit to Mr. McCready's had been a huge turning point in all of our lives; and that memory was now haunting me. Usually I didn't start being haunted by memories until the anniversary. But the anniversary was six months away and the memory was there, waiting for me every night after I went to sleep.
Speaking of sleep, I knew I wasn't going to get anymore of tonight.
Carefully, I wiggled to free my arm from my boyfriend, Benjamin Shannon, without waking him.
"AJ, you 'kay?"
Or, my not so sleeping boyfriend and the only person in the world who called me AJ. Of course Ben more than likely had woken up when I woke up. He had his own set of preternatural senses that triggered alertness and awareness in him.
I gave his hand a squeeze and proceeded with my plan to free myself. "Just going to visit the loo, Ben. Go back to sleep."
He rolled over faster than I was expecting, reflexes still quicker than I could adjust to even after a year and a half long relationship, and caught my hand. His dark eyes caught mine and held my gaze, "There's really nothing -"
I cut him off with another squeeze to his hand and a shake of my head. "We are completely alone, Ben. Something woke me up, but I'm pretty sure it was an overfull bladder. Now, go back to sleep."
As Ben accepted that answer and rolled back over, I gave myself a mental kick of disgust. Problem was I didn't know what disgusted me more: that I hadn't even thought twice about lying to Ben or that I did it so convincingly that Ben didn't even doubt me.
Closing the bedroom door behind me, I made my way down the narrow hallway of my flat. Apartment, I corrected myself. Two years of living in the United States and I still hadn't fully adapted to the "lingo." Ben said that he found it endearing and charming, though, even if it did happen to annoy Megabyte to no end that I insisted on speaking the Queen's English even in the middle of downtown Cleveland.
I'm sure that the combination of adoration from Ben and annoyance from Megabyte is why I never worked overly hard to pick up American English.
I moved past the small bathroom, but reached inside and flipped the light switch. I switched on every light switch from the bedroom to the kitchen because even though I was alone with no one but Ben in the flat, the dream was lingering there, the images coming back when I blinked my eyes. The memory had never been this poignant, this real, and this strong and it bothered me that tonight it was.
In the kitchen, I put on the teakettle and set about measuring out tealeaves into the teapot. I didn't really give any conscious thoughts to my efforts or what I was doing until the tea was ready, the leaves steeped and I set the kitchen table with two cups of hot tea and a few tea biscuits that I picked up on one of my visits home to London solely for this purpose.
Frowning, I stood at the kitchen table, staring at the teacups and biscuits and wondering exactly who was going to be joining me. But, as long as they were alive, I really wasn't going to be that particular.
I came to the conclusion a long time ago that my life was one big cosmic joke. Of course, I didn't quite realize how much of a joke my life was until a few months after my nineteenth birthday, which just further demonstrates how much of the punch line my life and very existence were in the grand scheme of things.
Once upon a time I'd tried to convince myself that everything had been normal until I turned fourteen, but when I was being honest I knew that wasn't the truth. My life was never normal. It just so happened that when I broke out and became a Tomorrow Person, I had something even less normal than what I was used to so I acclimated and threw myself completely into being a Tomorrow Person. With the delusions that can only come from a teenage mind, I convinced myself that if I was a Tomorrow Person, it would cancel out all of the other oddities in my life and that I would be as close to normal as possible.
Being a Tomorrow Person, it was pretty easy to pretend that vampires and shape-shifters weren't really a part of my world. After all, we didn't interact with them; we didn't really meet them on the streets. Our psychic awareness seemed to guide us to avoiding those types of beings, and it worked out well for me. I could ignore vampires and were beasts; I could ignore the shadows I saw from the corners of my eyes, the voices that called me in strained whispers and the odd form that I saw floating across my bedroom that vanished when I rubbed my eyes.
Ignoring got to be a little harder when what you were trying to ignore was your paternal dead grandmother sitting up in her casket and drawing a deep breath. When there is chaos all around you, and you are the one closest to the casket and it's your hand holding onto the reanimated body, it's hard to ignore the other world, the preternatural world that existed just beneath the surface.
I was nineteen and weirdness of being a Tomorrow Person aside, I had just learned the hard way that I had "an affinity for the dead."
My father cursed my mother for keeping secrets from me, my mother cursed my father for passing on his family's "evil" traits and Aunt Rose, my father's black-sheep sister whom I barely knew, took me to her modest home in Cleveland, Ohio in the United States to help me control and use "my gifts."
Aunt Rose and I missed the second funeral and subsequent burial. Neither of us was very broken up about that. She never got on well with her mother, and I just didn't want to think about what I had inadvertently done by shoving a soul back into its dead, albeit well persevered body. I still get chills and bad dreams thinking about it some times.
Chills or not, I can't deny what I am, what Aunt Rose was, and what her father was before her. I am considered a necromancer, and this is where the cosmic irony comes in: I am a necromancer only in the sense that I have an affinity for and a connection to the dead; I can't raise a bloody thing over a few days dead. Being a Tomorrow Person added a unique twist to my skills and limitations. Tomorrow People can't kill; raising the dead requires blood, typically from the sacrifice of a chicken or goat. If I can't get the required amount of blood from a cut in the arm or the leg, then it's not going to happen.
Honestly, though, I'm really not too broken up about that.
Of course, I can communicate with lost souls, wandering souls, and shove souls back in their bodies. I can shove them into other bodies too. The last two are not pleasant, neither for me nor for the soul in question, so I try to avoid it whenever possible. And yes, as unpleasant as it sounds, it isn't always possible. Besides, some people just don't want to take me at my word that they are really, truly dead until they've walked a few steps in their own dead bodies. It's a foolproof way to stop a haunting, and to give me a serious case of what Jade refers to as the "heebie jeebies" for a few days.
My newly discovered talents gave my fellow Tomorrow People the "heebie jeebies" for a few months. These days, they are mostly over it. We follow those certain rules of etiquette: we do not discuss religion, politics, sex or any aspect or detail of Ami's work unless said subject is alive and kicking, and not through any extraordinary means on my part. But those early days were rough. That day at the beach was among the first where I was in control and all was right with the world.
Except, of course, that it wasn't. And I still didn't know enough about my abilities to decipher the warning about Adam when I got it.
The others try to convince me that it wouldn't have made a difference, that Adam would still have gone and we would still have lost him. That it was fate and destiny and that beating myself up wouldn't change things. My therapist, read shrink, said the same things.
To this day I didn't believe any of them.
End of Part Two