A trip back brings sadness and surprise.
Anna moved away from the desk when she heard Gerard coming down the hallway. She turned to smile at her blood bound telling her she would not require any more assistance for the rest of the day.
Gerard reached the door just as the young girl was leaving. Looking her over carefully he sighed then walked into the room. “How come you didn’t feed?”
“You told me you were coming up here to feed.” Gerard reminded her as he walked over to the bed. “I saw Lissa leaving. I know you didn’t feed.”
Anna clinched her fists at her side trying to control her anger. “Gee, you are not my keeper. I will feed when I chose to.”
“What’s going on?” He asked softly. For the last several days he knew something was wrong. Anna had fallen into depression yet she refused to discuss the matter with him.
“Everything is fine.” She answered looking away. “I am just weary of this exile.”
Her words shocked Gerard. For almost eighteen years they had lived on the island. Had he been blinded to the fact she wasn’t happy? “Anna, you wanna leave here?” When she didn’t answer he continued, “If that’s what you want we will. I just thought we’d agreed to wait a few more years.”
“Until everyone we knew in our previous life is dead.” Anna whispered.
Immediately Gerard got to his feet to cross the room. “What’s going on?” He placed his fingertips under her chin. “Look at me. What’s going on?”
Tears filled her eyes. “I am sorry. I did not wish to make you believe I am not happy here with you.”
Suddenly he realized she had information she wasn’t sharing. “Shit, is it Mikey?”
“No.” Anna shook her head. “I honestly do not know anything about him or Alicia.”
Gerard sighed. Years ago he and Anna had decided they would never seek out any information about their friends or Gerard’s family. Both knowing that if they had learned of sickness or death it would be too painful. They could never return to those people. The Healer world would still keep a close watch on them. Still he knew Anna was hurting and there was only one possibility – Claire.
Anna gently pulled her arm from his grasp then walked over to the nightstand where she kept her synthetic. Before she could open the bag Gerard was beside her.
“Let me, Sugar.” He said softly. He still did not understand why she disliked feeding from a blood bound but it was of course her choice. Wanting to see her smile he placed the needle against her skin the paused. “Open your eyes, Sugar. I never get tired of seeing it.”
Slowly her eyes opened but they were icy blue and full of tears.
“Anna, please tell me what’s going on.”
She looked down at the needle. “First.”
He nodded then pierced her skin. As the synthetic flowed into her system her eyes flashed but too soon turned back to blue. Gerard put everything back in the bag then sat down beside her on the bed. “Okay, now tell me. It’s Claire, isn’t it?”
“I can feel her pain.” Anna admitted. “I could not stop myself from trying to discover the reason.”
“It’s okay, Sugar.” He said softly putting his arm around her. “The bond you and Claire share is deep.”
“Oh, Gee.” She leaned against him. “I saw photos taken not long ago. She has been ill and she looks so old now. Her beautiful red hair is gray.”
“Do you wish you hadn’t seen them?”
“It is just so hard.” Anna wanted him to understand. “In my mind I still see her as she was when we left.”
Gerard nodded, “Yeah, I still imagine people that way too. But why is she in pain? Is it because of her illness?”
Anna closed her eyes, her voice a slight whisper. “Bob died a few weeks ago.”
“Oh, shit.” He sighed, “What happened?”
“A heart attack. He had been caring for Claire because she is bedridden. When she called out to him and he did not respond she phoned Clark. He came over and found his father dead at the foot of the steps. Bob had just started up carrying a tray for Claire.” She lowered her had and began to cry.
“Oh fuck.” Gerard whispered. “You know I loved that fucker.”
“Claire just wants to die.” Anna sobbed. “I can feel it.”
“Because she knows it’s time.”
They were both shocked by Marcus voice. He walked into the room. “Sorry I was walking by and heard you two talking.”
“I thought you’d left already.” Gerard said slightly annoyed. Marcus had been staying with them on the island and while he truly loved the man he was ready for him to leave for a while.
Marcus nodded, “I did but when I got to the plane I could feel Anna’s sadness. I thought maybe I could help.”
Gerard felt bad for his earlier thoughts.
Anna looked up. “There is nothing you can do, Marcus.”
He gazed at her a moment then shook his head. “Yeah, there is. Get packed you two. We’ll leave as soon as you’re ready.”
“Leave?” Gerard frowned.
Marcus walked over to kneel down in front of Anna. “I will take you to say goodbye.”
“Oh.” Anna was conflicted. “But you said you believe we should not interact with anyone from our previous life.”
“As a Pure I understand the deep bond between you and Claire. No one will question you seeing her one last time.” He reached out to gently touch her cheek. “You do want to see her, don’t you?”
“I wish to say goodbye.” Anna said through her tears.
Marcus nodded then stood. “We’ll leave as soon as you’re ready.” He turned to Gerard. “Would it be easier for you to stay here?”
Gerard frowned, “What?”
“Gee, you can’t let yourself be tempted. Can you honestly say you don’t want to check on your brother and your friends?”
“In some ways I do but in others I don’t. It would be hard for me to see how Mikey has changed over the years.” Gerard admitted. “I want to remember him like he was when we left.”
Marcus clasped him on the shoulder. “I understand that. I’ll be waiting down at the plane.”
It was early in the morning when they arrived at the Bryar residence. Marcus had learned that Claire had a private nurse that stayed with her during the day. Clark came immediately after work and had been staying at night with his mother. Often his wife and children accompanied him. Sadly Marcus knew this would not go on for much longer. Claire’s health was fading fast.
“I will go in first.” Marcus said before getting out of the car. He would deal with the nurse. She would never remember the visit.
Anna nodded as she once more adjusted the dark wig she’d chosen to wear. She felt it important to hide her long white hair. Beside her Gerard adjusted his dark glasses nervously. It all felt so strange to once again be among the mortal world.
A few minutes later they saw Marcus open the door and nod. Slowly Anna got out of the car with Gerard following. He grabbed her hand to give it a tight squeeze.
“Go up and see her.” Marcus said softly. He nodded to the nurse. “She’ll sleep for several hours. I have some business to tend to. Gerard, drive back to the airport when you are done here. I’ll meet you there.”
“You are leaving?” Anna asked in surprise.
He gave her a quick hug. “I’ll meet you guys at the plane.” With that he quickly left.
Slowly Anna and Gerard made their way up the stairs. Anna paused at the bedroom door. “Oh Gee.” She whispered helplessly.
“It’s okay, Sugar.” He gave her a quick hug.
Anna walked in her eyes immediately going to the bed. Claire’s small form stirred and her eyes opened. A look of confusion covered her wrinkled face.
Moving closer Anna reached up and pulled off her wig letting her hair spill down her shoulders. “Claire, it is me.”
Claire continued to stare.
Gerard moved over to put his arm around Anna.
“Gee, she does not know me.” Anna whispered blinking back tears. “Her death is so close.”
Gerard nodded. He too could feel Claire’s death approaching. “I’m sorry, Sugar.” He said sadly.
Anna’s pain was unbearable. She turned away from the bed intending to flee from the room.
“Anna?” The voice was paper-thin and filled with pain.
Swiftly turning around Anna moved quickly to the bed. “Yes, Claire, it is me.” Tears ran down her cheeks. “I am here.” She carefully perched on the side of the bed.
Claire tried to raise her hand. Anna saw the movement and quickly grasped her hand. “Oh Claire. I have missed you.”
It was hard for her to speak but she used every bit of strength she could muster. “Missed you, too.” Her watery eyes glanced at Gerard. “Hello Gee.”
Gerard smiled. “Hello, Claire.”
A sudden pain caused Claire to flinch. “Anna I am dying.” She said softly looking into Anna’s eyes.
Anna could not bring herself to speak, she simply nodded.
“Glad you are here.” Claire whispered. “Wanted to thank you one more time.”
Anna titled her head in confusion.
A smile transformed Claire’s wrinkled face. “Anna, you gave me a beautiful life. It was everything I ever wanted and more. Thank you.”
“Claire I am so sorry I had to leave you.” Anna whispered. “So sorry.”
“I understood.” Claire sighed, “Just glad you are here now.”
Anna felt Gerard’s hand on her shoulder giving her strength. “I wanted to say goodbye.” She said giving Claire’s hand a gently squeeze. When she looked up she saw the light in Claire’s eyes start to fade. Anna burst into fresh tears unable to stop herself.
“Anna.” Claire whispered. “I do not fear death. Bob is waiting for me.” As she spoke her eyes grew wide a moment then slowly started to close. “He is waiting.” Her voice trailed off.
Marcus glanced over the rim of his coffee cup and saw she was frowning intently at the piece of paper on the table. It was obvious whatever the note was, she didn’t like it. As he watched she folded it carefully then stuck it into her bag. She then sat back, took a deep breath and closed her eyes.
Taking one last swallow of the dark brew he stood feeling angry with himself. Whatever her problem was, it wasn’t his concern. He needed to get back to the plane anyway. She would be fine.
As he walked by her table he was surprised when she spoke.
“Again? Well maybe this means instead of fourteen years I’ll see you every two.”
He saw she was staring at him. “Excuse me?”
Casey sighed, “Sorry, it’s been a rough day. I don’t mean to take it out on you. I’m upset about Aunt Claire and when I saw you I just thought that maybe this time you’d actually talk to me.”
Marcus stared at her at a loss for words.
“Would you like to sit for a minute?” There was such a sadness in her tone he couldn’t stop himself from taking a seat across from her.
“Uh, sorry you’re having a bad day.” He said slowly.
“Yes, Marcus it’s been a bad day.”
He frowned in confusion, “You know me?”
When she smiled he was shocked at how much her smile reminded him of her mother. “Well the first time I saw you I was only fourteen but I knew it was you. You didn’t look like Hudson Evans anymore but your eyes….mom had described your eyes.”
Marcus looked around glad the café was nearly deserted. “Your mom told you about me?”
Her smile faded, “Just a few weeks before the accident.”
Casey sighed, “Let’s just say I was a troubled teen but not like the average troubled teen. She really wished she could speak to Aunt Anna about it. In the end she told me the truth so I wouldn’t go on thinking I was insane.”
Marcus was still reeling from the fact that the woman sitting before him knew so much. “So she told you….”
Casey took a sip of her coffee before answering. “She told me what she was. She told me what I am.”
“You are Ingredior Utriusque?” He whispered.
“I believe so.” Casey nodded. “Like mom, I can sense things. However I’ve never had any contact with a Healer so I don’t know if my blood is sweet.”
Marcus stood so abruptly he almost spilled her coffee. The fact she’d simply mentioned her blood had sparked his desire.
Casey’s eyes grew large. “Oh my. So beautiful.” She’d seen his eyes flash topaz before he’d gotten it under control.
“Come.” Marcus said roughly. “We should talk elsewhere.”
Casey gathered up her bag. “Sure. My apartment is just two blocks from here.”
“I know.” Marcus nodded.
As they started down the sideway Casey cast a quick glace at him. “You know?”
Marcus’s mind was still reeling. “What?”
“You know where I live?”
He frowned but didn’t answer.
“So maybe you’ve been here more than I thought.” Casey said thinking out loud.
They walked in silence for several minutes. When they neared her apartment building Marcus asked, “So what’s with the fourteen?”
Casey laughed, “Oh the fourteen. Mom said it was an important number.” She took out her key. Marcus took it from her, opened the door then stood back.
“Thanks” Casey smiled. She walked in and headed directly for the sofa. She patted the cushion beside her. “Sit.”
“Oh sorry.” Casey said quickly. “Don’t mean to be bossy. I suppose a Pure doesn’t expect that.”
Marcus walked over and sat down. “First off finish explaining the fourteen.”
“Okay. Well mom said the day you took her home from Jacob’s it happened. After you left she was struck by the number fourteen running through her head. She didn’t understand it. It wasn’t until fourteen years later when Gerard and Anna left she understood. She had fourteen years to be with Aunt Anna who she loved dearly. Not just because of their blood bond.” Casey added quickly.
Marcus was still trying to make sense of things. “So the fourteen was the amount of years she had left with Anna.”
“Right. Then it came up again. When I was fourteen I was a mess. See I didn’t understand why I was so different from everyone else. The world just always seemed so off to me.”
“I can’t explain it any better than that.” Casey sighed. “I just knew there was so much more that people didn’t see. An example I guess would be when you and Anna and Gee left. I just knew you all were okay.”
Marcus was overcome by a deep feeling of remorse. He had no idea Christa had had to deal with this situation.
Casey was watching him closely. “You were very special to mom.” She said softly.
“She was a very special woman.” He answered without hesitation.
Casey nodded. “So when I was fourteen Mom told me the truth. She said she knew it was the right thing to do. It had something to do with what His Excellence had told her.”
Marcus was shocked. “Did she tell you about meeting him? Did she tell you what they discussed?”
Casey grinned. “She told me you would ask that. She also told me I couldn’t tell you.”
Marcus sat back. “Damn.”
“Yeah, figured you’d say that. So anyway back to the fourteen. Like I told you, I saw you for the first time when I was fourteen. Then fourteen years later I saw you again.” She paused, “But you didn’t approach me. You just watched me for a few minutes then left.”
Marcus remembered it well. Two years ago he had come to Chicago to check on Casey. However he’d kept his distance. He’d almost approached her but at the last minute he’d changed his mind. He’d had no idea she’d actually seen him.
“I’d hoped.” Casey said softly. “That it wouldn’t be another fourteen years before I saw you again. I mean honestly I’m thirty.”
Again she’d shocked him. “What does that have to do with it?”
Casey looked into his eyes. “Marcus I have been waiting for you. Like my mother I am sure I am Ingredior Utriusque. However she was more drawn to the mortal world. I am not. It is the Healer world that calls me. It is a Pure who will take me home to that world.”
Marcus forgot to breathe.
Casey reached over and touched his hand. “His Excellence believed the blood of the Pure that runs through my veins would someday want to return to the Healer world.” She smiled then added softly. “I have been waiting for you Marcus. A very long time.”