© 2014, Tessy Bredewold & Nitaya Sprangers. Except as provided by the Copyright Act no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher.

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Chapters 16-30

CONT - Sunday September 30, 2007

Jason and Seth drive another hour and a half untill they stop, meeting up with James and Elisabeth at the pre-determined coordinates. While Jason and James talk, Seth sits on top of the car taking small sips from one of the bottles when he sees Elisabeth approaching the car. “Enjoy that one. You know it’s harder to get those when we’re mobile.” Elisabeth says, and Seth takes another huge chunk. It is indeed harder for them to get bottled blood. Their contact at the slaughterhouse didn't exactly deliver across the country. It was one of the reasons why they had come to this part of their territory to begin with. And now they were being chased out.

“Did you hear from Lauren and Nate?” Jason then asks, and James checks his phone. “No. But I’m sure they’ll be here soon. They have the gps coordinates.” James says. Jason nods. He then wonders for a second if it was a good idea to split up, but he convinces himself that they came here without Alyson and Dylan too, and that things went fine then. 

“The moon is almost at it’s highest.” Seth then says, and Elisabeth gets on top of the car and sits down next to him. “Scoot over.” She says as she takes the bottle and sips from it herself. This isn't the first time Elisabeth and Seth had watched the moon together, but Seth felt like this one was special somehow. “What do you think?” Seth asks, Elisabeth sighing deeply. “I don’t know.” She says. She rests her head on his shoulder. “I hope you’re right." Then a few moments of silence follow. "We may have lost our house but we’ll have eachother. Well, as soon as Lauren and Nate get here.”

But they aren't anywhere close. A couple of miles outside of town, Nate looks at Lauren with a frown, and then dials the number she had just told them. "When did you find the time to memorise that. We got these phones 3 weeks ago." Nate says as he puts the phone to his ear, waiting for the call to connect. Right away he sighs in relief when he hears Elisabeth on the other side of the line. "Elisabeth. It's Nate. Me and Lauren are a couple of miles outside of the town border. The car wouldn't start so we didn't make it out in time and..." Nate says. He then looks down at the body of a poor hiker. "Now something's happening to us." He adds, as he looks at his blood-stained hand and fights the temptations to drink the blood. "We need help."

He then looks up when he hears a car, and the deafening sound of a heartbeat seems to take over his body. He drops the phone, making it land in the mixture of blood and soil that has formed at the base of an oak tree, where a young guy is laying down with his neck snapped. By the time Nate starts running, he can already hear the brakes of the car, and when he arrives Lauren is standing at mere inches from the vehicle, the expression on her face being the same as Mike's face in last period before lunch on pizza day.

"What was that?" Jason asks, as he returns to their little campsite, the corner of his mouth still having some traces of blood on them. With the supply of bottled blood being limited, Jason had offered himself up to go hunting for live blood in order to save some for the road. "Nate. And Lauren. They were still inside the town when they did the spell..." Elisabeth says, with a look of terror on her face, rapidly rushing off to the car.

James and Seth exchange a look when Elisabeth stresses the 'they' in her sentence, and it forms enough of a pausing moment for Jason to wipe his hands and walk to the car. Meanwhile Seth skillfully jumps down and lands next to James. "You guys go. I know what to do." he says. Jason nods at him, and closes the door to the car.

Elisabeth then drives from the campsite on their way to a dirtroad in a recklessness Jason has rarely seen on her. "They're alive, right?" He asks. Elisabeth nods. "Yeah. But I bet whoever's phone they were using isn't. Something happened to them." She says, as she makes a 180 turn as soon as they reached the road again. "They're on a killing spree. And they can't stop it." She finally says, before looking aside. Both Jason and Elisabeth knew what she was thinking. Alyssa, the massacre of SEUSA.

It was the fall, and in July the wrong person had crossed Alyssa at the wrong moment. What followed was five months of massacres along the South-East coast of the USA. Myrtle Beach, Charleston, Savannah and Jacksonville, all the way up untill Miami, before returning along the coast of the Golf of Mexico. Because it was not their territory, there has been few things Jason and Seth were able to do about it, and Alyssa was skilled to avoid being captured by the people who actually could do something about it. She had been avoiding them for most of her life anyways. But when she then finally crossed the Mississippi, Jason and Seth awaited her. Alyssa has always meant trouble for the two boys. But she also saved their lives.

When Alyson and Dylan got involved in the trainaccident, Alyssa's recent diet was what saved them and turned them into vampires. None of the Dawsons, following their Type A diet, had the ability to turn other vampires. But Alyssa was a rebel, and she had been snacking on the side. So she turned Alyson and Dylan. And shortly after she got control over herself again and all was good. Only now there was 7 of them, not 5. They were starting to become harder to go around unnoticed. They would hunt in the bigger reserves and that meant more chance of them getting spotted by hikers. And Alyssa didn't like all the caution, so briefly after turning Alyson and Dylan she left.

Next time Jason and Seth saw her at the riverbank of the mississippi, blood was still dripping from her mouth, her eyes had a rage in them that could only come from a fresh kill and her clothes were stained and damaged from being chased. Seth could see the hesitation in her eyes. If she crossed the territorial border, the boys would get her and get her better again. If she stayed, she'd be punished for the killing spree that would go down as the massacre of SEUSA. And as she was contemplating her two options, she looked down. To the water of the missisippi river that was flowing below her. The water moving at a significant speed, like a force of nature sweeping away everything in it's path. Alyssa wished it could sweep her away too.

She then put a few steps backwards, towards the voices she could hear shouting commands at one another. They were a mile or two away. Alyssa's trained ear could tell them apart. And that's how Jason and Seth knew it too. The way she turned her head at just a slight angle, as if she couldn't be bothered making a full head-turn. Then she smiled. And Seth looked at Jason. The next moment, Alyssa ran backwards a few more feet, before running and launching herself forward, soaring over the river like she was levitating. Then she landed a few feet away from Jason and Seth, her knee hitting the ground furthermore scraping her clothes apart. This Alyssa didn't care about the damage. But Seth knew. They wouldn't hear the end of how her favourite dress got ruined. Ofcourse by then they were more occupied with dehydrating her to the point where her throat felt like sandpaper. 

"We'll cut them off. Pinpoint their path, and cut them off." Jason says, as he pulls a map out of the seat storage in the car. The map has the hunting area marked, and he grabs a marker to start pinpointing. "Okay so here's a hikers trail. If they came down on this road… They must have gone this way then. Here's the water. And there's a dirtroad here. It's used to get to the capsite over here. Around this time of the year, there might be some people out there. I think we need to head that way…" Jason says. Elisabeth glances at the map, and then nods.

"You call Alyson and Dylan. You need to inform them." Elisabeth replies in a strong, determined voice. It reminded Jason about a military command, something he and Elisabeth both knew as they had both served in the war. So he obeys, and calls Dylan's cellphone. However the other end of the line stays silent, and Jason sighs. "Okay, forget about them. They're too far away anyways." Jason says, frantically pushing buttons, touching his temple in between two series of three. Then he pushes the green phone button, and the phone rings. "Pick up. Please pick up." Jason mumbled.

"Who is this." Claire says frowning, her voice sounding hoarse as she closes the door to Mila's bathroom behind her. She can hear a sigh of relief coming from the other side of the call. "It's Jason. Look, Claire, something happened. Something went wrong, with Lauren and Nate. They're on an uncontrolled rampage. We don't know where they are, but they..." Elisabeth then rips Jason's phone from his hand, and angerly presses the red phone button before putting the phone in the storage console on the driver's seat.

"You think calling the witch who did this is going to help? Jason, she probably wanted this to happen to us. That powerplay between her and her sister was probably just for show, to get us to doubt them so we might consider staying." she says. And although it sounds harshly in Jason's ears, he knows there could be some truth to it. It would fall perfectly in line with Payton's threats, and with Claire's willingness to risk her life to gain their trust. "They fooled us. That a little girl is not the answer." Elisabeth then says, but Jason quickly shakes his head. "No. I won't stand for that. They're protecting their town. They would never allow our number of uncontrolled vampires going on a killing spree. Elisabeth, they are not the problem... This one is on us." Jason says, looking sideways as he forces Elisabeth to think about it in the silence that follows.Jason was without doubt a better expert at Claire and Payton Silverstone than any of them. They haven't even graduated high school and they are already enrolled in vicious schemes to obliterate them. Elisabeth recognises nothing in these girls that resembles their ancestor's. "Even still. This delivers the perfect opportunity for them. They have one more thing to hold over our heads now."  She says sighing.

Claire is already halfway dressed when Mila flickers on the light, and Claire looks up at her. Mila barely has her eyes open as she is frowning at Claire getting up in the middle of the night. Then, her face relaxes and she sighs. "Are you going back to your room?" Mila says with a raw voice, and Claire nods having anticipated the question already. "Yeah." she replies briefly, before gathering her final things and walking to the door. "Alright then. I'll see you tomorrow." Mila then says as she pulls up her bedsheets again and flickers off the light, blissfully unaware of the fact that the town was in serious danger.

Claire then roams through the silent hallways and the school yard untill she finally dissappears under the cover of the trees at the far side of the school property. Right away her mind starts flashing back to Lincoln, and she takes a look behind her to recall a specific game of tag that she, Justin and Lincoln had played. Claire then holds on to the strap of her bag a bit harder, and continues to walk while keeping her eye on every single movement in the woods. 

About three minutes into her journey, she starts to notice branches being pushed aside to form a path, and a sigh of relief exits from her mouth. The Dawson house. This must have been the path that they had been used for their commute between the school and the white colonial mansion they called their home. The pathway arrives at the side of the driveway, and on it arrives a blonde sixteen year old.

"Hello?" She says, and for a brief period of time she awaits a reply, before lowering her bag on her arm. She takes in the large building, which now seems more like a hunted house. The garage door is open, but Claire couldn't see the cars that were there last time. All in all it looks like a place that was left behind, without a proper goodbye.She then sighs and takes a look at the front door, ringing the doorbell a few seconds later as she approaches the house. She doesn't really know why, but it seems like the right thing to do when you're entering someone's home.

Forty seconds in there is still no reply, so Claire walks back to the garage, walking from the gravel onto the concrete flooring. She notices the crunchy sound wearing off, and her footsteps echo through the abandoned space.  She calls out once more, but still she doesn't get a reply and so she follows the door to the rest of the house, landing in the living room a few seconds later. There it really hits her. They are gone. They had actually left.

For a second, Claire actually has a smile on her face. That's untill she realises what that means. She has started a fight by completely going up against her sister for something that wasn't even needed after all. Then the soft sounds of rain start to echo through the house, mimicing the urge Claire has to cry right now. She wants to cry so badly, but she can't. She can't because apparently the universe decided she had cried in these type of situations enough. Standing in an old house, doors and windows open and the rain pouring down. Two year-old Claire had been sobbing on her sister's shoulder, constantly trying to free herself from the arms of her 4 year old sister who was trying to protect her from the sight of their parents, dead. Payton had been covered in blood, and by holding her sister she had smeared it in Claire's hair. And now, Claire had blood on her again. At least all those years ago she was holding her sister's hand. Now, she was standing there, all alone. 

Seth then looks up when he hears his phone, and a few seconds after he flips it open he hears Claire's voice on the other side of it. "Seth? Seth are you there?" she says, and for a moment Seth glances over at James. He is visably tensed about hearing Claire's voice, but he ultimately bows his head and continues looking over the map. "Uh yes... Yes, I'm here. Why are you calling? It's the middle of the night, on a sunday..." Seth says with a frown. Claire is the last call he was expecting. He's more concerned with hearing something from Lauren and Nate. "I'm sorry Claire, but we.." Seth clears his throat for a second when James shoots him a look. "We have a problem here so we don't have time for this." The tone in which Seth says it changes mid-sentence, enough for Claire to notice it. And just like that she realises just how much she messed up. "Seth, if you mean Lauren and Nate then I already know. That's why I'm calling. I'm calling to help you guys fix this. It's my fault" 

That changes things to Seth, and he moves the phone away from his ear and puts it on the hood of the car so James can listen in. "So you're saying this is all because of that spell you did? Did something go wrong?" he asks, and he could hear Claire sigh on the other side of the line. "Yes. Something must have gone wrong. I'll explain more later. Right now  I need to know, was everybody else outside of the town when this happened?"

James then looks up and right at that moment his phone beeps, revealing a text from Alyson and Dylan. "Alyson and Dylan are already on their way to Idaho. Everyone was outside. We're located an hour and a half outside of town. But Jason and Elisabeth are heading back there." he says. Claire then sighs, and takes the crystal in her hand. "I know. I can sense it." She says, as she stares at the increasing glow. "Lauren and Nate are still close too. They haven't gone very far. I'll be here in case they come back to the house." Claire says, and Seth frowns at hearing that sentence. "Here? Where are you?" he asks, and Claire sighs deeply as she looks around her. "Your house." she  says softly. Seth understands her just fine, and he picks up the phone immediatly. "You're at our house in the middle of the night? How? I mean, I can't believe your sister agreed on that. Is Payton that worried about us too?" Seth says, invisioning Payton actually worrying about anyone other than Claire. It's a hard image to create.

Then, Claire pretty much shatters that image. "She doesn't know. I'm here alone. Just like the plan for the spell adaptation was mine alone too. I didn't want to take any risks. I made a spell, one that would allow you guys access back into town. But apparently I messed up." Claire says. The other side of the line is silent for a while, and Claire wishes she could be of reading thoughts through the phone. "Is it safe for Jason and Elisabeth to return? Into town?" Seth then asks, after he cleared his throat. Claire bites her lip. "I don't know. To be safe, tell them to stop at the border. I will test the spell, see if it works. I'll be by the east road in a little less than an hour." she says, and James picks up his phone to call his wife and inform her about the newest information.

As he does that, he steps away for a few yards. Seth sighs in relief, feeling like he was finally able to talk to Claire in a way he knows James would question if he was listening in. "Claire, Payton will be furious if she finds out what you're doing. You don't have to help us. You owe us nothing. You didn't get them in this mess." he says, before he gets interupted by his mind which involuntarely flashes to Lauren proposing to go to the school. Then he realises. He did. It's his fault that they stayed in town longer than planned.

It is a realisation that completely knocks Seth out of his trail of thought, and Claire needs to say his name a few time before he returns to the conversation he's having with the young witch. "Seth, are you still there?" she asks for what sounds like the tenth time. Seth clears his throat again, and replies: "Yeah... I'm here." Claire then sighs. "Like I said, at this point I don't care what Payton says. She is too wrapped up in hatred for you guys. I'm sorry." Claire says, and Seth looks up when he hears James finishing his conversation with Elisabeth and Jason. "It's okay. Elisabeth and Jason are aware of the plan. They'll meet you by the border. But Claire, please be careful."

Claire says she will, but as she looks around the house she knows nothing about this is carefull. And now she was still indoors. With vampire mercenaries lurking around and a spell that may or may not even be working Claire has every reason to wrap her arms around herself as she sits down on the covered couch. She sits there for 45 minutes, untill her phone beeps and reveals a text from Jason saying they're almost at the border. Right away, Claire puts the phone in her pocket and she grabs her stuff to make the hike to the border.

It's not in fact that far of a distance, but the walk takes longer than she expects because it involved a hill which Claire's exhausted body is having a hard time climbing. But the minute she sees the lights of a car in the distance, she straightens her back and walks towards the border at a good pace.

There, she first locks eyes with Elisabeth, before she grabs the crystal from her pocket where it had practically been burning a hole in the fabric because of the condensed magical energy.

"So that's what's going to take down this spell?" Jason then asks, and Claire looks at him when he speaks, breaking the silence. A bit cautious, looking in between Jason and Elisabeth, she shakes her head. "No. It's what will allow you guys in. This crystal is concentrated on you guys. Which is why it's going insane. Because you're standing at ten feet away from it. It recognises you guys." she says, a little smile on her lips as she looks down. That smile, and the pride over the fact that she had created it, washes away the minute she looks at Elisabeth again. "I will test to see if it's able to cross the border." Claire then says, and she walks up a bit closer to the border.

Then she breathes in deeply, and touches the shield with her left hand first, causing it to illuminate in a small radius around it. It's a mesmorising sight to Jason, and even Elisabeth is a bit in awe. Then, Claire pushes through with her left hand and as soon as she does that she can sense the shield reacting to it. It makes Jason and Elisabeth both take a step back, and Claire retracts her hand to make it stop. "It's a build-in protection. If we leave the shield, we'd be vulnerable too." Claire says, and she realises why Elisabeth gives her a certain look after she says that. It means that as long as the shield is up, Claire won't even be able to travel to another town if she wants to keep herself safe.

Claire shakes the thought quickly though as she raises her right hand. This time, James and Elisabeth follow the movement closely. "So to simulate Lauren and Nate, they went through." Claire says, then pushing her hand through the shield while doing so. Claire then watches as the crystal starts to glow up brightly, and she takes a deep breath before she pulls the crystal back to her side of the shield. "...And they return." She says, then carefully inspecting the crystal.

For a good minute Jason watches her stare at it, untill he's finally had enough. "Claire, what is it?" he says, and Claire looks up at him. "Sorry. Ehm, I was trying to figure out what happened to them. I think I have an idea." She says, then putting away the crystal. "Lauren and Nate are safe to return. So are you guys." she says, then taking a few steps aside so she is standing on the side of the road. "I'm sorry about all of this. I hope you guys find them." she then adds, before she starts walking back to where she came from.

Jason then turns to Elisabeth, and glances back over at where Claire is walking away from them. "Okay fine." Elisabeth then says, as she takes off her coat. "Take her to the house. I'm going to check the woods for any tracks." she says. Jason then nods, and as he looks up at where the shield illuminated, he sighs deeply. He then grabs the coat and gets into the car which he drives across the boarder. Then he pushes in the gas pedal a little bit, only to come to a standstill on the side of the road a bit further. "Get in. I'm taking you home."

Claire looks aside and she closes her eyes for a good ten seconds, breathing in and out before her fatigue makes the decision for her and she gets in. To her rellief, Jason doesn't say much more but Claire still has enough energy to read his mind which is speaking for him at this point. And it only causes Claire shame. She wants to ask why he doesn't blame her for what happened, but she doesn't. Instead, she sinks in the seat a bit lower.

In the early hours of Monday morning Payton lets her head fall back into the pillows after she had gotten out of bed to look out the window for a sign of her sister. But there was none. And she knew she still had school tomorrow, so she needed to sleep. Sleep was also pretty much the only thing that wouldn't make her mind wonder if the Dawsons were actually alive or not, so she tries to put her sister aside and close her eyes for at least a few hours before school started.

The interior of the car made Claire look small, but after what he just saw he knew there was a side of her that wasn't so small. "So, what exactly happened? Cause I still don't get it." Jason then says, finally asking the question that had been on his mind for two minutes. For Claire, it was better than hearing him convince himself why the little teenage witch wasn't to blame for this. Claire looks up, and takes a deep breath. "I modified Payton's spell. But I somehow messed up with the mofidication. The crystal wasn't compatible with the ingredients which Payton told me she had modernised. This crystal is an old spell, meant for old-fashioned ingredients. We use other stuff. I forgot to factor that in. Now instead of making you guys more in control over your vampire urges if you ever entered town again, Lauren and Nate lost control over theirs because they were still in it." she explains. "Truthfully I was out of my league. I didn't know what was happening." she adds.

Jason nods, and then sighs. “Sometimes you really want something to work so badly, you oversee the potential dangers of it.” He says quietly, his eyes still focussed on the road. It's Claire who averts her eyes away from the concrete and onto Jason. A two hundred year old vampire who is giving her life lessons. "Yeah well, I shouldn't have gone rogue like that though. When I was younger, Payton put a spell on me. I could only do magic if she was there." She says, now continuing to stare ahead. "It was for the best. I didn't have control over my powers there, and the mindreading was just so overwhelming. I guess that's why we've always been close, and always stayed close." She says. Maybe that was what she was trying to prove, her independence. But look what it had given her. Two people were in a situation that Claire wouldn't wish on anybody, because of her. If this was the cost, Claire would pass on independance.


Monday October 1, 2007

Claire and Jason arrive by the school at 5.12AM and when the first signs of morning appears in the sky, Claire looks up at the school building. It is the last place she would want to be in right now, knowing her sister is up there, probably worried sick. Claire dreads the conversation she is going to have with her almost as much as she dreads monday mornings after spending sunday afternoon at the Saphire house. But she knows nothing can stop Payton from worrying about her. And nothing Claire can say will convince Payton that she needs sleep, not a lecture. 

She then gets out of the car and turns around to thank Jason, but frowns when the car is already driving back towards the main road away from the school building. And ust like that, she is all alone again. She then convinces herself to head up to her room, despite the fact that she knows the stairs will terrorize her feet. Once on the third floor, she carefully opens the door to her room and she peaks inside to find Payton asleep, to her relief. Closing the door, she glances once more at the room across the hall, before she puts down her stuff and walks over to her bed.

She puts down her hands first, before she crawls onto the bed where the solft fabric of her comforter welcomes her. And despite the fact that she could instantly fall asleep, she doesn't. To her own frustration, her eyes remain wide open for a while, her mind wondering what is happening. A few feet away, in Payton's mind. A few dozen feet away in Mila's room, and Katie's one down the hall. And across town, where Claire has just allowed a bunch of vampires back into town. It is enough to drive Claire's mind into a tailspin, so much so that she doesn't recall exactly when she fell asleep. But when she opens her eyes two hours later, she remembers exactly why she was so tired. And exactly because of that she knows she can't stay in bed. She simply can't face her sister waking up, not right now. She has been given an out, and she is going to use it. And so for the first time in what must have been a decade, Claire is in the bathroom first. 

A brief 15 minutes later she returns with a fresh set of clothes on and most of the signs from her nightly adventures covered. She proceeds to tiptoe around the room while she puts on shoes and a jacket, and then heads out the door. "Just act normal." She catches herself whispering as she closes the door behind her at 7.30AM, an hour at which Claire is usually mumbling about wanting to sleep for five more minutes. She then walks by Katie's room, and hesitates for a couple of seconds before continuing her descent towards breakfast. It's what a normal person, unaware of vampires in town, would do. The last thing anyone needs right now is panic. She can't warn anybody, and she needs to keep herself together. 

Meanwhile across town, Jason is checking his phone when James walks up to him. "Elisabeth thinks it's a good idea if you guys go to the school. Canvas the area, in case Lauren and Nate show up there. We don't know if they've crossed the border and you said Claire has that stone thing that lights up..." "No." Jason says abruptly, causing James to raise an eyebrow so Jason sighs. "James, they evicted us. The last thing we need to be doing is showing up at the school." Jason says, loud enough for Seth to catch on the conversation. "What? School? No we can't go there. Payton will kill us in the middle of the hallway, she won't even care who sees." he says as he walks to James and Jason talking in the foyer.

"She's not going to kill you in the middle of the hallways. Besides she's one witch. You said in your notes Jason, that her hand-to-hand skills are weak." James says, and Jason frowns. "I didn't write that so we could underestimate her. Besides, wasn't it the plan we'd be done with school?" Jason asks, and Elisabeth and James exchange a look. "Plans change. Right now we think someone needs to keep an eye out there. If you don't want to attend classes, fine. But you need to keep an eye out."

Seth sighs and shakes his head before he bends over the map again, where they have sectioned off the territories into smaller pieces, some of them being crossed off with a large X. Jason then joins him as Elisabeth and James head down the basement, and he takes the marker out of his hand to draw Seth's attention. "You have to go. I can't go there, not after tonight." Jason says, and Seth tilts his head. "Wait, are you actually scared Payton is going to kill you?" he then says, and Jason's reply is vague at best. "I don't know. I just know you're better at the whole school thing. People know you. You can ask around." Jason says, and Seth  puts his hands in his pockets. "Fine. I'll go." He says. He couldn't get his hopes up about returning to the school, so he would do nothing more than keep an eye on things.

After grabbing some yoghurt and a pastry, Claire sits herself at a smaller table than their usual table, and she watched the people walk in bit by bit. She isn't really registering faces, more so entities of people who looked vaguely familiar. But the part of her brain that's respnsible for facial recognition hasn't woken up yet. By now the majority of the students is heading into the school building, while Seth observes the masses from his car in the parkinglot. It's a different experience than being inside in the middle of all the noise, but if he focusses enough he can hear the noises coming from the inside. Slamming lockers, people talking. Another school bell, this one indicating classes begin. The sound of chairs being moved. 

It doesn't take long for Seth to focus his hearing on the classroom he was supposed to be in right now, economics. For a good twenty minutes he keeps an eye on the school as Freshmen and Sophomores arrive late, or Juniors and Seniors who walk onto the school parking lot with their friends. Payton is among one of those juniors, but unlike Mike and Mila who are gathered in the rec room, Payton is still asleep. She awakes only at 9.32AM and as soon as she does her eyes immediatly scan the entire room. Shortly after the realisation kicks in that Monday is a free first period for the juniors and that her sister has Economics at this moment.

Payton then goes to look for clues if her sister was there before. On first sight, nothing seems different from last night, so Payton throws off the sheets. She only has twenty-five minutes before she has to be in the science classroom. She still has to gather clothes and cover up the bags and puffyness under her eyes somehow. And the strangest thing is, normally Payton would be really stressed about that. But this morning when she opens the door to her room to let in some fresh air, all she can do is stare across the hall for several minutes. She even hears Katie leave her room and head downstairs for class, indicating Payton is probably going to be late. But Payton has too many questions on her mind to finish buttoning her shirt as she stands there, holding a granola bar in her right hand which also has an elastic around it.

Then the schoolbell rings, and Payton snaps out of her trance. She finishes buttoning, uses the elastic to put her hair in a lazy braid, and puts her bag over her shoulder as she descends the stairs. Every few steps she makes she looks behind to look at the closed door, and all the way down she thinks back at the spell from yesterday.. And then, just as he is looking for that other voice, Payton walks into her classroom, rambling. "So sorry I'm late." she says, but the teacher has little interest in her as he reads the monthly announcements. It gives Payton enough time to take a seat, and then she takes in the wave of emotions radiating from her two friends. 

"What?" she asks Mila, who is giving her a concerned look. "Did you talk to her yet?" she repliesin a soft voice, and Payton sighs deeply when she realises her and Claire's fight has probably spread like wildfire. "No, not yet. I don't know where she was last night." she says, to which Mila looks down. "She stayed at my room. But she left in the middle of the night." she explains, and at that mark the teacher puts away the overview of the announcements and starts the class. But Payton is still busy processing the information, untill her mind retrieves the mental picture of the room she took, and she notices Claire's shoes from last night being in the room. She was there. She was safe, and she was unharmed. Sadly, the same could not be said of Lauren and Nate. 

"Lauren, stop!" James says loudly, the words echoing through the forrest for a little bit. James is standing on a log, while a few hundred feet away from him Lauren is stumbling around like a drunk person. As soon as she hears James voice, she stops in her step, and she slowly turns around with a look that James had rarely seen on her before. Maybe once, when she was a new vampire. Luckily, if this is anything like then, he should be able to talk her back. "Lauren come with me. You need help. We can help you." He says, then pulling out a bottle from the cooling bag he is dragging around with him. "You don't want to hurt people. That's not you. This option is better. No people get hurt this way. You can have it. All yours." He says. He then throws the bottle halfway between them, and raises his chin as he observes her reaction to it.

Lauren's eyes are immediatly glued to the bottle, but James notices something is keeping her from launching at it. And untill she is completely preoccupied with the blood, he would have no chance in overpowering her and taking her back, like he had planned. Luckily for him, he wouldn't have to execute the plan alone, as Elisabeth emerges from the treeline behind Lauren. "Where is Nate?" Lauren then says with her teeth clenched. James looks at Elisabeth, and the blonde vampire sighs. "We don't know. But if you go home with us, he might already be there by now. Jason is out looking for him."

Lauren intially is surprised by Elisabeth's voice. Then she looks at the bottle again and as she stumbles towards it Elisabeth and James grab a hold of her. "We're sorry Lauren..." James then says, and Elisabeth observes the guilt on his face as she is holding Lauren firmly. She feels guilty too, for letting Lauren and Nate down. For not all travelling to the border together. But it takes the look in James eyes for Elisabeth to realise she can't keep putting the rest of the blame on the Silverstones. "We need to fix this. Whatever we can do, we need to do it." She then says, and James looks up at her over Elisabeth's shoulder. "Yeah, we'll fix her. Don't worry Lizz. She's going to be fine." James says as he starts walking to the house with Lauren in between him and Elisabeth. Lauren's eyes following his movements closely as he picks up the bottle of blood and puts it away again, while Elisabeth is staring off into the distance in the forrest.

"I thought she would have been with Justin." Payton says as they exit the science classroom. As they pass by Payton's locker Mike shakes his head. "No, Justin said she hasn't. Don't think she should either. They're sixteen, I think they're beyond the fase where they can have platonic sleepovers." he says. The thought of her sister and Justin then crawls into Payton's mind, but all she can do is shrug. If Claire was with someone, then she knows for a fact she couldn't be mad about it being a Saphire. His family helped built this town, so it would certainly please her ancestors. She then switches out her science books for her math books and she continues walking to Mike's locker where he does the same. Although Mike soon realises there is no point in him talking about his weekend, seeing as all Payton seems to do is scan the halls for a sign of her sister. "You can talk to her at lunch." Mike then says. "I'll tell the others we're having lunch elsewhere. Give you guys some time." he says, and Payton smiles at him. "Thanks Mike." She nods as they walk into the math classroom. They're early, but they know with the location of Mike's locker that a visit to the yard was out of the question. And Mike knows Payton enough to notice when she needs to be alone with her thoughts. And this was one of those times.

The second time the bell rings after that, it's to signal lunchtime and Payton is brought out of her trance. Mike then walks to her and shows her the text-conversation to indicate to her that she will have the time to talk to her sister. He then goes by the teacher's rules to exit the class in silence, but Mila doesn't feel like following those rules all the way untill the door, as she starts talking to Payton right before they walk out. "I'm sorry, I don't want to make it seem like I'm picking favourites..." Mila says, and Payton then cuts her off. "Mila, it's okay. It's no big deal. I'm glad she was with you last night." she says, and Mila's smile returns to her face. "I'll talk to Claire. You have nothing to worry about." "Good. Then can we talk about the other elephant in the room?" Mila says, pointing at the classroom. "His brother didn't show up either." 

It takes Payton a while to register what exactly Mila is saying, and then her brain reminds her of the fact that the Dawsons go by fosterbrothers at the school. "Yeah, I have no idea. Don't really care." Payton then says, before she quickly walks away from Mila. Right now, Payton is mad at her for bringing it up, well knowing that Mila wasn't the cause of the problem. Payton just had to pretend that she was for a while, so she could go into this talk with Claire in an open mindset. And so she descends the stairs to the cafeteria on her own, trying to remember that Claire is unexperienced with vampires. That Claire has a way to sympathic soul to hate those people like she does. That Claire is her little sister. However all of those good vibes fade to dust when she sees Claire walk through Great Hall towards Seth who is standing in the doorway. All Payton is able to hear Seth says is "They found them." before the door closes and her sister dissappears with one of them.

The one who who promised he wouldn't go into the school anymore, untill James and Elisabeth called him to say they had returned home with Lauren. It was the despair in Elisabeth's voice that made Seth get out of the car and find Claire, who was already making her way across the great hall. "Lauren, at least. But Elisabeth seems really freaked out. This is nothing like our usual detoxes. In fact Lauren claims she has tried not to drink any blood. But we don't know what tried means, and if there's magic involved we don't want to take any risks." he says. Claire nods, grabbing her phone in the process and typing a brief text for Justin. 'Cover for me in science.' she types, thankfull for the fact that projects and presentations was their fifth class on mondays which meant her abscence wouldn't be noticed that much. "I'll go with you. On the one condition that you at least let me apologise to them." she says, and Seth breathes in and out deeply. "That's not up to me to decide. We just need your help with the magic. That's all my family is asking from you right now." he says, before he turns around and walks to his car.

Claire understands, because in his thoughts he explains all the reasons why. It's precisely because Seth pays zero attention to being alone in the car with her, that she knows it'd be unwise to speak up and draw his attention. His mind is occupied by Lauren and Nate as he expresses a certain feeling of guilt related to a note and the school. At least that's all Claire can make out of the random thoughts that jump through his head during the car-ride.

At the end of lunch, almost faster than that morning, news spreads about the failed reconciliation attempt of Payton and Claire as Justin explains Claire's text. "She's skipping the rest of the day. Which means her talk with Payton probably didn't go so well." he says, seconds before the bell rings. Mila sighs, fearful that she only split them up even more by letting Claire stay in her room. And Mila's mixed feelings only intensify when she sees Katie by the cafeteria entrance. However to Mila's surprise, Katie gives her an encouraging smile, which leaves Mila wondering. Why would she smile? Did she knew about the stuff happening between the Silverstone Sisters. And if so, why did she smile. It was anything but a pleasant matter.

Even more unpleasant is the sounds of Lauren in the downstairs lockup at the Dawson house. Sadly Jason's attempts to locate Nate had been unsuccessful, and as a result he currently watches over Lauren in the basement. Most of the sounds she makes he silences out with earbuds and music, but every now and then a scream pierces through and Jason has to focus not to yell back at her. He knows Lauren can't help how she's feeling, a sensation she describes as like her veins were on fire, but the agony it brings him does little good to his mood. It is because of this that Jason is delighted to hear a car drive onto the driveway, and a few minutes later Seth enters the basement. "Claire is upstairs. How is he doing?" he asks Jason, and the two of them glance over to the fortified door that seperates their friend from them. "Screaming, mainly." Jason replies, and then he snaps his head to the left as Claire stands on the stairs. 

Despite the fact that it's dark in the basement, she manages to descend it without falling and she walks towards Jason and Seth in a bit of a hesistant pace untill she is standing right in front of them. Then, she puts out her hand, and allows a lightball to appear onto it so she can see their faces more clearly other then the dim light that is coming from the cell on the left. "I came here to help. Not to sit upstairs." She tells the two boys, before she focuses on the door and the screaming coming from the other side of it. Seth and Jason then watch her take out the crystal, and point it towards Lauren. That goes on for a minute or so, untill Claire turns towards them again and nods. "I know what to do." She then says, before walking back up the stairs, the lightball following her untill it fades into nothingness as soon as they reach the main level. They being Claire and Seth, who are joined upstairs by Dylan and Alyson walking through the front door at that exact moment. 

"What the hell is she doing here?" Dylan then asks, and Seth sighs deeply because of the unfortunate timing of this all. "Helping us fix Lauren. You guys should go and scan sector 4 to see if there's any trace of Nate and..." "No, first I want to hear her explain herself." he says, interrupting Seth and looking at Claire with piercing eyes. He can detect her rapid heartbeat and Claire looks at him when she can hear the skepticism in his thoughts.

"I can help. I know I caused this. I will fix it, nobody will get hurt anymore. Unlike you guys me and my sister don't let innocent people die in this town." she says. It's a fierce comeback, even Dylan has to admit that much. Then Seth grasps his attention again by uttering the words 'sector 4' resulting in Dylan rolling his eyes before he and Alyson walk into the living room. Then Seth turns to Claire again. "Alright. Whatever you need from us." he says.

Claire spends the next hour and forty-five minutes writing down on a notepad. Scribbling, crossing things. If you'd see her just like that, frantically staring at the page you'd think she was just making another drawing. But when she is done, there's just words on a page. "That's it? Another spell?" Elisabeth asks with a frown on her face. Claire then looks back at the paper and then another scream is heard from the basement. By now it's only Elisabeth who has remained upstairs, while James keeps an eye on Lauren downstairs. All the others have gone out in search of Nate. "It's a simple spell this time. I swear to you, I can handle this." she says, and Elisabeth nods reluctantly. "Okay, fine. Let's go downstairs..." Elisabeth then says, but Claire stops her. "Actually, it's not a good idea for you guys to be close by. It's too dangerous if other vampire lifeforces are close. You can wait here." she says, before she descends the stairs. She explains the same thing to James, who then walks upstairs where he stands right new to the door just to be sure. 

Claire then sits down on the floor, her back against the wall opposing the door to Lauren’s cell. Or dungeon. Or whatever they prefer to call it. She sits in silence for a while, untill she hears a voice. "I bet it's hard for you. Are you lonely?" Lauren asks. She had heard Claire’s heartbeat as soon she descended down to the basement level. “Why would you think that?” Claire replies after a while. Sure she wasn’t lonely. She had Justin. And she knew her sister loved her, despite of the situation they were in now. Lauren smiled. “Because you have no reason of being here, except for maybe the guilt you carry. Which is not your fault and we both know it. So maybe you’re lonely.” Lauren says. Claire could hear a hint of Lauren’s stronger british accent pierce through. Claire sighs. She didn’t want to talk about why she was here. “You’re trying to distance yourself from us again, in fear that you’re upsetting your sister more by being here. You want to see us as the villains like she does, so that things would be better between you. But you can’t, can you? You no longer see us as the bad people, and it’s scaring you because now you and your sister are not on the same page.” “Stop.” Claire says, interrupting Lauren. Lauren sighs. There's silence for a short minute. “You’re here. And I’m pretty sure Payton doesn’t know about that. You’ve tried to leave, but you can’t. And you claim it’s guilt because that is the only thing that you can justify with Payton.” she then continues, and Claire stares at the paper in her hand, her fist balled up. It doesn't matter. She knows the spell by heart, she could say it a hundred times without failure.

"Right now, I'm here to make you better." Claire replies, and as she is about to get up and perform the spell the door opens and Nate is being dragged in by Dylan and Jason, with Seth leading the way in front of him. It is he who pushes Claire all the way to the back of the hallway, as far away from Nate as is porssible, while Jason and Dylan guide him into the cell adjecent to Lauren. But Claire is close enough to see the reaction that forms between the two loved ones, how Lauren and Nate instantly reconnect because they're going through the same fate. Then, Nate screams as a jolt of pain rushes through him causing him to jump at the door which Jason and Dylan just manage to close in time. "Claire." Jason says, as he puts the final lock on the cell, which is the third lock Claire can count. "James says you have a spell to fix this." he says, and Seth steps out of the way as Claire walks back to where she was a minute ago. "I do. It's simple, but strong. However there is one problem. From what I can feel, the two of them together were severely impacted. I don't know if I'll be powerful enough to syphen all of the magic that caused this out of them." she says. Seth then walks up to them, and Jason checks up on their two friends before he looks at Claire. "What are you saying? Do you need Payton for this?" he asks, and Claire bites her lip. "She wouldn't agree with this. So there's a second option. I channel one of you."

When the door to Claire and Payton's room opens at 8.15PM, Payton jumps up and has her two feet thrown out of bed in a matter of seconds. However when she sees Justin she sighs deeply. “Hi.” Justin says softly, and then he looks around in the room. "Mila told me Claire stayed at her room last night. That's why you've been so abscent all day?" Justin asks, and Payton nods. "What happened?” He asks, and Payton closes her eyes. He was Claire's best friend, yet he was here. And now she had to think of an excuse for him.

“Was it the party?” Justin then asks, and Payton looks up, never having been so happy that he was a regular human, who knew what regular siblings faught over. “Yeah.” Payton replies, and Justin walks further into the room. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have dragged her out there. The party was not the greatest anyways. But I had seen how stressed you were and I just thought you might need some alone time, you know." Justin then says, and Payton frowns at him. "Well, the fact that my sister was at a party hosted by a drugdealer didn't exactly relax me. But it's okay, I don't blame you for taking her there. She is old enough to make her own decisions. She just made a really bad one." she then says, before she gets up. "Thanks for stopping by. Tell her..." she then starts, but she finds herself unable to come up with the words, the message she wants to send to her sister. Justin just nods. "She'll turn around." He then says, before he closes the door behind him.


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