CONT - Sunday October 7th, 2007
Minutes later Jason found himself a spot on the staircase that led to the roof, and he took in the crowds below him. He was looking for suspicious activity, of course. But he was also looking at the people. Admiring them, envying them a little too perhaps. They were living their lives carefree. Meanwhile, three people in this room were aware that there could be half an army of vampires approaching them right now. Which made Jason think. He then grabbed out his phone, and started drafting a text to Alyssa, but he was cut off by a giggly voice saying his name.
“Jason! Hi.” Mila said excitingly, the drink in her hand swaying a bit. Jason forced a smile on his face, and next thing he knew, Mila lost her balance and she was falling over. The only thing preventing her from falling all over him was an extended arm reaching behind her, and then Jason saw Payton.
She pulled Mila back up and put both hands on her friend’s shoulders. “Mila, you need to get back down. This is a tricky staircase.” Payton took the drink from her and took a sip. “And go get some water.” She added. Mila pouted. It would be adorable, if Payton didn’t know that Mila was just drinking to forget about the situation with Katie.
Who, as of 10 minutes ago, was center stage on the dancefloor with Samantha and her friends. Samantha who didn’t seem to have a care in the world, flirting with every guy in a 10 feet radius. Payton sighed at it as she sat down beside Jason. She didn’t say anything though. She just put the cup at her lips and finished Mila’s drink in one go.
When she noticed Jason was practically staring, she frowned. “What?” “Nothing. Just… I didn’t think I’d ever see Payton Silverstone chug a beer.” Jason smiled. Payton swayed her head. “I never thought I would be sitting on a staircase at an underground rave next to a vampire.” She said. She said it without lowering her voice, but the music made it impossible for anyone other than the two of them to understand much. And Jason was able to hear the conversations on the other side of the room, so he had no problem understanding Payton. He understood her fine.
“Life is funny that way.” Payton said a bit randomly. Jason nodded. “You spend a lot of your time babysitting your friends like that?” Jason then asked, and Payton turned aside with a frown. “Oh, Mila.” Payton said, then letting out a chuckle. “No, she’s good on her own usually. But she’s going through some stuff, so she’s letting off some steam tonight.” Payton explained. She then arched an eyebrow. “Have you ever like, talked to her or something? I mean… she is very social and everything but she climbed all these stairs to get to you up here…” Payton asked. Jason shook his head, then, tilted it a little.
“Well… I mean I talked to her a little. But I never said anything in particular.” He explained. He then looked aside, making sure to look at Payton specifically. “Payton, I would never even consider that. I would never endanger a human like that. I would never consider being that close to a human.” Jason said. This answer seemed to settle it for Payton. She nodded, then sighed deeply. “Well, you’re going to be at the school again. So you will probably have some socializing to do.” She said. And Jason was well aware. There would be other parties. Homecoming was right around the corner. He would have to really make an effort to blend in. Give the people no reason of not trusting him.
“And maybe not sit up here like some sort of bat, watching over everyone like that.” Payton then said. Jason laughed when she mentioned bats. “Bats.. wow, okay that’s a low blow. We do not turn into bats.” He said laughing a little. Payton nodded, indicating that she was aware. But she said it anyways. And she did have a point. “Yeah well, it’s the best way of keeping an eye on things.” Jason said, and Payton could see that. Good vantage point. Not too many people. It was a good plan, actually.
“Hey, Payton.” Jason said, then looking at his phone. He remembered what he was going to do before Mila interrupted him, but now that Payton was sitting next to him he had to ask something else. So Payton looked at him, telling him to say what he wanted to say. “That spell… the border. How would it affect other vampires?” he asked. Payton frowned at that. Then the phrase ‘17 vampires’ jumped in her head and she sighed deeply. She really needed another beer.
“Kill them upon entry.” She said, not looking at Jason. Because Jason knew the answer before she said it. He knew they were only in this town because of Claire. He knew Payton wasn’t stupid and her part of the spell probably did work because, well, she was Payton Silverstone. But Jason had to ask. “Can you take it down?”
Jason knew this was a big thing to ask. He knew they had only just gotten Payton to agree with some sort of alliance. And he knew that most of that was due to Seth, who talked to Claire. Because the two of them had some sort of connection. Some sort of understanding. Which he and Payton didn’t really have. So asking this, could potentially undo everything. But here he was at a high school rave talking to the most powerful witch on the western hemisphere so yeah. He had to ask.
“Jason, you know I can’t do that.“ she said. The way she said it, made it sound as if she had rehearsed it. As if she knew that she was going to say that if someone asked her. But then he noticed a hint of something in her eyes, and he turned towards her more. If there was even some doubt, a small chance of Payton trusting them enough in there, then he would take it. “Payton, we will protect you guys. We wouldn’t let anything happen to you guys, or the school, or anyone you care about. We do have a security system in place. Nate is installing sensors all over the woods that will register vampire speed so we would know if someone is in our territory. We have access to all surveillance cameras in town.” Jason explained, then putting a hand on her shoulder. “You can trust us. This town will be safe. It will be safer if we work together. But for that to happen, you need to take down the spell, so our other allies can also enter town.”
Payton took a deep sigh and got up. She looked down at him and closed her eyes for a bit. “I will consider it. But so far it has only been words coming from you guys. I need to be certain that the people I love are safe, Jason. I can protect myself, but my friends…” She looked down at the party and Jason knew. She didn’t have to explain herself. Payton’s family was important to her, and he knew that. So he would do anything to keep them safe, no matter what. “I will do everything in my power to make sure they’re safe. I swear to you on my own life.”
Payton rolled her eyes and crossed her arms. “You’re immortal Jason.” She said, and upon seeing his smile she couldn’t help but smile a bit too. “But I’m serious.” Jason then said, in all seriousness. “And to prove it, I will point out to you that I just heard Mila order another drink over at the bar.” He said.
Payton looked down to the dancefloor then and without saying anything else to Jason she walked down the stairs, taking the drink out of Mila’s hands before she was able to put her lips to it. “I think you had enough sweetie. Why are you drinking so much tonight.” Payton said, rubbing soothing circles over Mila’s back as she made her sit on a barstool. Mila looked at her and she pouted “Nobody loves me.”
Payton sighed and she took a few sips of the drink Mila just ordered, before putting her hair up in a ponytail. “I love you, Mila.” Payton said, emphasizing the I. “Now let’s go home. It’s getting way too hot here.” She said. Mila didn’t really protest that, and so Payton held on closely to Mila and the two of them made their way out of the party. Once the cold air hit them, Mila smiled and she seemed to sober up because of it a little. By the time they reached SJBS, Mila had already found some more stability, and Payton was able to relax when she left Mila in her room, knowing she would be fine aside from potentially a headache.
“Justin, can you not talk so loud.” Mila said the next morning at breakfast, and Payton smiled as she took a spoonful of her yoghurt. “Be glad I saved you from even more of a headache with that final drink.” Payton said, and Mila smiled at her. “Yeah, you’re right. Thanks. Why couldn’t you have been there to watch my back the entire evening?” Mila asked. It was more of a rhetorical question, but Payton answered anyways. “Because I do have a life, Mila.” And Mila frowned. “You were talking to Jason last time I checked.” This caused Claire to look up, and a small smile appeared on her lips. And Payton knew what that smile meant.
“You talked to Jason last night? I didn’t even know he was there.” Claire said the minute they got to the third floor. Payton waited with replying until the door to their room was closed. “Mila was like, trying to hit on him or something. But she ended up almost actually hitting him.” Payton explained as she sat on her bed. “And then he just… you know, he talked about the people. And he asked if we could take the spell down.” Payton said.
Claire turned around in her desk-chair, leaning both her hands on the back-support. Claire quickly figured out why. “Because of the gathering?” Payton nodded. “But I don’t know if it’s a good idea. Right now it’s keeping us safe. And I know that they promised they would protect the town, but I haven’t actually seen much proof of that yet. I mean, people have died on their watch before, remember that missing hiker.” Payton said. Claire nodded.
“Well, you don’t have to take the spell down. It’s on our terms, so if we say it stays, then it will stay. Just think about it, okay.” Payton nodded. “We’ll see. I will think about it, like I said. I promise, I’m considering it okay.” She said. Claire smiled. “I’m proud of you Payton. Trust me, they won’t let us down again.” And Payton trusted Claire. That was never a question. The question was, was she ready to trust the Dawsons with her life, and that of her family.
Tuesday October 9th, 2007
“Yeah I saw Claire’s picture. But I didn’t know there was a party on Sunday evening.” Mike said as he and Payton walked to class. Payton nodded. “Mila dragged us all down there.” And Mike cursed a little, damning his parents’ idea of a lovely family vacation which has just been ruined by the constant bickering that went on when his parents thought he was asleep.
“Well, at least you had fun on founders day right?” he asked, and Payton smiled. “Yeah, I mean I’m a sucker for town history. I interviewed Celine, the major’s daughter, about her involvement in this year’s festivities. I get to use that interview for my class, so that’s good.” Payton said. Mike nodded, but he was too distracted to notice what she actually said.
“Hey… things aren’t good?” Payton then asked, and Mike shrugged. Part of him didn’t want to bother Payton with this. Another part of him felt like he had to vent. “The usual drama. You know my parents, they don’t do well if they’re forced in the same place for more than 24 hours. It will be fine, eventually. They will figure out a solution.”
Payton stopped walking for a second to look at Mike closely. And she knew she was doing the thing, but she didn’t care. “I just don’t want to see you unhappy, okay. They should be putting you first. You’re their son. I know they care about you, they just suck at showing it. But they do care.” Payton couldn’t explain how she knew, so she hoped he didn’t ask. When he just nodded softly and then kept on walking, Payton sighed a bit in relief.
Then she went to class, and she had to get used to seeing Jason in the classroom for a little while, but by the lunchtime, it felt like he never really left. Seth and Jason’s names were back on everyone’s lips, the story being that they had a family tragedy to explain their absence lately. Payton found it a bit ironic, to label it a family tragedy. If anything was tragic it was her family, which was a knot in her stomach that had started to form over the past couple of days.
It was one thing to allow vampires like the Dawson to stay in town, given they didn’t cause trouble. But she had gone from not allowing that to considering opening up the border to a herd of vampires which wasn’t what her ancestors had in mind either. She knew it was important to find a good balance between the two. But it wasn’t easy.
Wednesday October 10th, 2007
It was Wednesday afternoon when the idea came to Payton, and she explained it to Claire later that evening. “I can create a spell. Using a pendant like Lucy used to suppress our magic as kids. I can use it to suppress the magic from the spell at the border. And that ensures our safety at the gathering. As long as we’re alive, the spell remains down. If anything is to happen to us, the spell gets reactivated and they all die.”
It was a lot to take in, but Claire got the outline of it. And she had to admit, the plan worked. “So then each and every one of the people there has an interest in keeping us safe. And the people we care about. We can say we’re activating the spell if one of our friends gets hurt too. Or someone from the school.” Claire added. Payton nodded at her, scribing away on her notebook. “Yes, good idea.” She said, then putting a dramatic period at the end. “There. Now we just need to talk about this with the Dawsons and we will be safe.” Payton said. Claire nodded. “As long as James doesn't get all stuck up about it.” Payton said, and Claire pulled a ‘Payton, don’t do this’ face so Payton sighed. “Yeah yeah, I know. We're allies now. But I can say that he’s not my favorite, okay. Neither are Alyson and Dylan. I mean, they’re still not back?” Payton asked, and Claire shrugged.
And maybe it was a bit odd indeed for 1/4th of the Dawsons not to be in town days before a big meeting between their allies, but then again Claire knew very little about vampire politics. She barely knew anything about magical politics, unlike Payton who had been pen-pals with Sebastian Ambroise, the eldest son of a powerful witch family in Europe. Then again, ever since the break-up Payton had showed little interest in the European continent, aside from her AP French class.
Which was what she was studying for when Dean appeared in front of her, and Payton slowly looked up from her notebook. “Hi Dean.” She said, trying not to sound too annoyed. But then took a seat, and Payton sighed deeply. “I broke up with Samantha.”
“You did what?” Payton asked, frowning at him in confusion. Then her face softened when she saw Dean was actually struggling with something, and she moved her notebook aside. “Is that why Mila asked me to keep an eye out for anything Samantha might publish? Regarding you? Because you broke up with her?”
Dean blinked a few times. How did Payton always know exactly what was going on? It was pretty mindlowing. “Eh, yes. In fact, I also need to talk to Mila. Do you know where she is?” he asked, and Payton shook her head. Then her eyes narrowed. “Dean… Is there some dirt out there on you that she might want to publish? Did you do anything?” she asked.
Dean frowned at that, offended. But then he figured out Payton had her reasons of saying this considering his behavior shortly after the break-up last year. Back when he was still trying to convince himself that he was 100% straight. He fucked up then. He knew that now. “No, I didn’t do anything. But Sam… Sam has her moments. She sometimes doesn’t think stuff through entirely and she might act on an impulse and I don’t know what she might write about me. To get back at me for dumping her, or whatever.”
Payton then rested her hand on her arm. “Samantha looked anything but set on revenge at the party on Sunday.” She then said, and Dean looked up when Sunday was mentioned. Sunday which he spend in Max’ bed almost the entire day. Free of that weight on his chest of having to hurt Samantha. Sunday was great.
“Oh… Well, I don’t know. I wasn’t there. But if she seems chill then that’s great. Less chance she might do something. But still… thanks for keeping an eye out. I should go and find Mila then.” He said. And then he was off again, walking through the school but unsuccessful in trying to find Mila so he texted her instead.
However Mila didn’t pay attention to the text much. Instead she was scrolling all the way back through her text history with Katie. She had started using hearts in her texts two months or so since they had met, and their texts hadn’t been about school aside from that very first one asking which page they had to learn for science.
They had texted a lot in between then and now, talking about everything from planning shopping trips to school gossip. They texted late night ‘you awake’ texts to one another so they could talk until hours in the night. In some way, these text conversations were a big part of how she fell for Katie. There wasn’t the usual pulic flirtation that happened around boys. There was no seat-moving, no flower-picking and no leaning against her locker. But they had this. They had these effortless conversations, never more than a few minutes apart in between each conversation. And she would take this over any big romantic gesture.
If only she could kiss her. If only she could kiss her again, and show her that it was all going to be okay. That together they were strong enough to face whatever life offered them. Mila wanted to kiss Katie so badly, she fell asleep dreaming about the last kiss they shared.
Which made waking up the next morning horrible, as her first thought was of Katie and she got out of bed with less willingness to move than she usually had. For a little bit, standing by the bathroom door, she considered up to Katie’s dorm right now and ask her. Ask if they could talk. Ask if they could just hold each other. She probably wouldn’t ask for a kiss. Or maybe she would, once she saw her. But she would try not to overwhelm her. That was the one thing she couldn’t do. But it didn’t matter anyways. Because Mila wasn’t going up there. Instead, she climbed in the shower and tried to get the images from her dream out of her brain so she would be able to at least focus a little bit.
Which may have been a good idea, since Katie was already worried about everything. The main thing being something she had never worried about, but now she did: Fashion. “Claire? You got a minute?” she asked, standing in the door to her room. Claire checked the clock and then nodded, before she noticed Katie was looking at her with her head tilted.
“Sorry. It’s just… You’re so great with clothes. I love what you’re wearing. That’s why I need you. My parents are flying over for the parent-teacher meeting in two weeks. They want to hear about my schoolwork now that the university plan is switching to a higher gear.” She said excitingly, and Claire smiled. “Right, you’re applying to Washington State...” Claire recalled, then taking in the variety of nice dresses and blazers hanging and laying around. Claire couldn’t help but smile because of it, and as she was standing there she witnessed Katie nervously relocate the dresses. First by length, then by color and now she was moving them by date of purchase. And every time Claire pointed out the same dress for the principal talk. And then same one for the dinner with her parents. And after three times, Claire realized she wasn’t here to discuss dresses.
“Katie, you got this.” Claire said as she got up and grabbed her bag. “You’re doing great at school. You have nothing to worry about. Come here…” And she leaned in for a hug, feeling Katie relax a little bit more. But Claire knew she is on the verge of talking, and because of that she looked at Katie once more after she breaks the hug. “Anything else?” Claire asked, and Katie sighed. There it was.
“It’s just my parents coming to town. They haven’t stayed here for longer than a weekend in two years. They’ll be here a whole week.” She sighed, and then she looked up in shock, realizing what she just said. Not only did she talk about her parents so that she wouldn’t have to talk about Mila, but she also talked about her parents in front of Claire.
Claire then breathed in and out deeply, and she looked down. “It’s okay. I’m glad you get to have your parents around for a few days.” But Katie can’t ignore the fact that she was insensitive. She shook her head in frustration and walked to the other side of her room in angry strides. She was angry, at herself. “I swear these days I need to glue my mouth shut. I can’t say this, can’t say that. All the while there’s only one thing I want to scream through the halls of this place.” Claire lifted her eyebrow, knowing what Katie was thinking and she lifted her chin in anticipation until the beeping of text sounds echoed through the room, and Katie reached for her phone on her nightstand.
“Girls night at Samantha’s this weekend.” Katie read, and she looked at Claire who apparently got the same message. “You going?” Katie asked. Claire hadn’t looked up yet, and she bit her lip a little. Then she looked up slowly and saw Katie’s pleading eyes, begging for Claire to say yes so that she wouldn’t have to face Mila. It was all there in her thoughts, but Claire would have understood that her friend needed her even without her powers. On the other side the alliance rested on the fact that the Silverstones showed up, and without the cooperation of the other vampires the whole town could be in danger…
“Sorry, I already made some plans.” She said, tucking away her phone. “The dresses are nice though. Good luck with your parents.” Claire said, then leaning in to hug Katie once more before she walked out of her room and downstairs to the cafeteria for breakfast. And as if she didn’t just blantly lied to one of her close friends in favor of going to a gathering at the Dawsons house, Seth and Jason were now sitting at one of the big tables, and both of them were looking at her expectantly. And once again, Claire knew why they were there without having to use her powers.
“I know that we mentioned you will have to blend in, but nobody pays attention this early in the day.” She said, sitting down next to Jason because, ambush as this was, they sat on either side of the table. Claire then decided to eat a few spoons of her cereal, while Jason actually bit an apple and Seth had a granola bar broken into smaller pieces, although Claire couldn’t tell if he ate one already.
“Okay, what is it?” Claire then said, moving her breakfast to the side a bit and Jason put the apple down now that Claire had decided to address the situation. “We, wanted to go over the people that will be there at the gathering.” Seth spoke, looking in between Claire and Jason and he couldn’t help but feel the sting of Claire’s judgement because unlike Jason he didn’t touch his food. So he quickly shoved a piece of granola in his mouth before he pulled out a piece of paper from his bag. “This is everyone we have confirmed so far. If you want we can go over them during break.”
Claire looked at the list and at the names on it, which sounded very old and more ancient as the list went down. Some of them had last names, others didn’t. An equal amount of men and women too, apparently. Claire nodded. “Eh yeah, sounds good. Come find me by my locker.” She said, and Seth nodded too, taking the list and tucking it away.
“Hi.” Justin then suddenly spoke from behind Seth, patting his shoulder and smiling at Claire. “I don’t see you guys around at breakfast often.” He said, and Jason exchanged a look with Claire. That’s when the laughter that approached their table stopped, and Payton and Mila stood on the end of the table, frozen a bit.
It took Claire to make eye-contact with her sister and giving her a small nod before Payton softly unfroze, and she hesitantly put her tray down as Justin started to complain about the load of homework he had for his Spanish class. And then the entire table turned their heads as Jason spoke, commenting how Justin was going to struggle even more next year, because the material only got harder. To that, Justin smiled.
“I’m good with the material. My mom is Mexican. But the homework just sucks. I mean, I had to sleep at home last night, because Chris had this huge math test he needed help with. But like, I totally forgot we had this entire Spanish report due which takes a lot of time, no matter how good you’re at Spanish. So I’m totally going to have to work on that during break.” To that, Claire nodded understanding and then her eyes drifted to Seth, who just gave her a smile in return.
The same smile which was on his face as he waited by her locker, and Claire looked around in the hallway to see if nobody was keeping an eye on them. “When I said find me at my locker I didn’t mean stalk me, you know.” She said, unable to hide her smile a little because this was the first time that a guy waited by her locker like this and it was... something. “Sorry, I will try to be less all American 16-year old and wait by the locker of the girl I want to speak next time.” He said rather seriously. Claire rolled her eyes a little, and then put her books away before they walked into the classroom next to her row of lockers. Claire sat down on one of the seats and Seth flipped around one of the chairs before putting down the paper in front of Claire.
“Okay so the list got updated, some more people agreed to come. And… Well, I added some names.” Seth spoke, his sentence drifting off as Claire scanned the bottom of the page to find her and Payton’s name on there. And she sighed. She sighed because she knew he wanted her to be there, needed her to be there. He relied on her to be there, to show their friends that they could all work together. So Claire looked down at the list once more before giving him a small nod. “Yeah… I’ll be there.” She said softly. Seth smiled at that, and then he pointed back at the top of the list, and he started to describe the person whose name was written first. Claire learned their names, where in the world they came from and how strong their connection to the Dawsons was on a scale of 1 to 5. Most people got a 3 or a 4, with an occasional 2 thrown in there. But only one person got a 5.
“Alyssa. Hi. It’s Jason. I just wanted to check in and see if you got James’ e-mail. Maybe you changed your e-mail or something, I don’t know. I have no idea how often people change e-mails, if it’s anything like phones…. Anyways, can you call me when you get this message, just so I can confirm and to be sure. Thanks.” He said. He then ended the voicemail and headed to his next class when he saw Seth across the hallway.
“You talked to Claire?” he asked, and Seth nodded. “Yup. She is up to date and she promised she would be there.” He said, and Jason sighed deeply. At least that was going well. Not that Jason missed the fact that he only mentioned Claire being there, but there was still time. Payton could still be convinced. And that was what Jason was going to try the next class he shared with Payton. Which happened to be biology in second period on Friday.
“Hi.” Jason said, as he took a seat next to Payton, who looked up from where she was making newspaper notes. Payton frowned, then looked around and then looked back at Jason. “What are you doing?” she asked, and Jason tried to gauge her mood, thinking about what he was going to say. When her face didn’t stay angry for longer than a few seconds, he decided to risk his chance. “I’m convincing you to come to the gathering.” He said, not missing how Mike looked at them frowning. But Jason was still looking at Payton. “You’re the one person who can help. Please, consider it.” He said, and then he got up from the seat again. “Sorry. Was just asking Payton for some help on an English paper. She’s all yours.” Jason said, and Mike took his seat next to Payton while Jason moved back to his regular seat somewhere at the back of the class.
Mike looked over his shoulder once as Jason plopped down on his seat before he turned to Payton who was purposefully not looking at Mike. “Just ignore that. It’s nothing.” She said, and Mike grabbed out his biology book with a little chuckle. “Payton, I wasn’t going to say anything. He had some family stuff going on and you’re the editor of the newspaper. Of course he comes to you for help on an English paper.” Mike said, and then he turned to where the teacher was standing at the front of the class.
A class which assigned homework over the weekend, which most of the students groaned about as they left the classroom, apparently many of the girls favoring a girls night at Samantha’s over studying micro-organisms over the weekend. Payton found that funny though. She hadn’t actually received an invitation to Samantha’s invite, but she did have Jason basically beg her to come to the gathering. So either way, she was in the same position as many of the people in their class. Or maybe not.
Payton realized that as she walked up to her room at the end of the day, her choice of how to spend her weekend was quickly made as she saw the lapis argentum on her windowsill glow up, and she quickly threw her bag onto her bed before moving towards it. Then she carefully picked it up as if she was handling a fragile newborn, and she looked around on her desk for a note, eventually finding an old post-it which she wrote “Divitia” on before sticking it to Claire’s desk. Then she returned her focus back to the stone in her hands, and she breathed in deeply before she started the spell.