Septifiria; The Becoming: Chapter 24

It was nearly one AM by the time the grave had been filled in and the VI4C had emptied the van. In that time the house was almost completely burned down and the VI4C members were mourning their losses as they made their way out of the neighborhood, going to their place of refuge – The VI4C School.
Ferinequell was driving, so Septi took the opportunity to sleep off the complete exhaustion. Her sleep was restless and fitful, plagued by nightmares of burning things and empty graves. Finally she gave up, after waking up and discovering that she had been whimpering loudly.
From that point on Septi busied herself with finding and trying to remember which keys came from where on the various buildings on the campus. Finally she remembered the labeling system used by Angel, the former principle, and it was easy from there.
When the VI4C arrived at the school at nearly three thirty AM Septi let everyone in, using a flashlight to find her way to the basement where the breaker box was. Quickly, she turned on the power to the main levels of the building and made her way up to the first level of dorm rooms where the VI4C had collapsed.
Septi sat down on the bed, darkness surrounding her. The breathing of her team mates was steady, telling her that they were all asleep.
Every inch of Septi just wanted to fall asleep, but her recent nightmares had scared her, and she didn’t want to wake everyone. Tiredly she lay down, staring up at the ceiling. I can’t dream. I’ll only have nightmares, she told herself as she fought her exhaustion. I can’t. I’ll only scream and wake everyone.
You don’t know that you’ll have bad dreams, she countered, each word forming slowly in her mind. Maybe if you let the blackness swallow your thought you won’t have any dreams.
Why should I? she thought, feeling edgy. I of all people know what happens in the dark.
Because you’re the cause of all of it. Let the night claim you. Sleep. You need it.
I can’t. I can’t do it. I mustn’t. Septi’s eyes closed and she felt herself falling asleep. The next thing she knew, someone was shaking her.
“Septi, get up,” Mes said. “Septi! Get your lazy butt out of bed! We have to clean up this hideout and talk about what we’re doing next.”
“What?” Septi asked groggily, not making sense of what Mes was saying. “Will you stop that?” Mes had already shaken Septi so hard that Septi was practically rolling over on every shake, and now Septi smacked at her angrily.
Mes darted out of a way, a grin briefly lighting up her serious face. Septi sighed and rolled out of bed, knowing that she had to get up now. As she stood, everything that happened to her in the last twenty-four hours hit her and she felt like she was carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. It was like this that Septi made it through the day, moving and feeling like a zombie.
As the VI4C looked, they found several boxes of old clothes in the attic, and some sheets and towels in a few closets. They even found some soap and other hygiene items in the bathroom for the girl’s dorms.
There was only one problem with the supplies they had found- there was absolutely no food. As soon as they’d taken stock, Ferinequell and Septi cleaned up and went shopping. Not a single word passed between them until they’d gotten to the store, and even then it was only to debate on prices or brands. Both of their minds were other places, away from what they were doing.
Val’s absence haunted the entirety of the VI4C and smiles or laughter was brief, and even then it was forced. Everyone was subdued and depressed and they moved around like ghosts.
Finally Septi forced herself to call the meeting she’d be stalling on for the entirety of the week they’d lived in the school. As they gathered in one of the old classrooms, Septi forced herself to return to business.
“We need to walk about our options,” Septi said, seating herself on the teacher’s desk. “We no longer have a home, and while this may work for now, we can’t live here for long.
“Why not?” Kin asked as she crossed her arms, obviously confused.
“If they knew about our main hideout there’s a pretty good chance that they know about us owning this school,” Ferinequell said, his slight Australian accent making his voice seem almost melodic despite the seriousness of the conversation. “It might be wise if we were to leave the state, too.”
“Isn’t that a little extreme?” Gin asked, picking at a bit of the skin that was coming off of the broken blisters.
“No,” Ryan said, his voice clipped. “We’d be stupid if we didn’t move out of the state.” Septi nodded as she listened to them debate.
“Where would we even consider moving?” Mes asked.
“Somewhere that would be ideal for all of our power,” Septi said. “Or, at the very least, most of our powers.”
“So somewhere with water nearby?” Gin asked, suddenly interested.
“And with lots of plants,” Septi added, her eyes on Kin, who was studying her hands.
“Could we live near an ocean?” Gin asked, looking happier than Septi had even seen him before. “I used to love to surf…”
“Why not?” Septi said, suddenly feeling reckless. “Ferinequell, Ryan, could you begin searching for houses in California and along the ocean? We should probably live in or around a city. After all, it is easier to get lost or overlooked in the shuffle.”
“Yes, Septi,” Ferinequell said with a slight smile. Ryan nodded his agreement and Septi continued.
“You know how much we can afford to spend, Ferinequell,” She added. “I trust your judgment.” He nodded and both he and Ryan left the room.
“What about the other things we’ll need?” Mes asked.
“We’ll take what we can from here, and replace the rest slowly,” Septi said, trying to work out who would need what and how much it would cost. “Mes, some of what you need, such as clothes and such, can come out of the allowance your Mum deposits into your account. As for the rest of use, the VI4C will pay for it, but if you get a job, it’ll be counted against an account. We’ll need a new system, now that things are different.”
“Why?” Raram asked. “It’s been working as it is just fine, hasn’t it?”
“Not exactly,” Septi said. “We’ve been using the money, but not really replacing it. If we keep going like we have been, it’ll be empty before we know it.”
“I see,” Mes said thoughtfully. “So, what are we doing now?”
“I don’t know, Septi said, sliding off the desk and making her way to the door. “Meeting dismissed.”
Over the next month and a half Ryan, Septi, and Ferinequell began searching for a house, sifting through the results and working on a budget. Finally they found several houses they liked and the VI4C decided to take a road trip to check out these houses.
The car trip itself was long, and everyone was irritable after the first several stops. Finally they pulled into the fifth and final house’s driveway. Septi sighed slightly before she slid out of the newly repainted CAMM van- that they’d stolen and fixed up beyond recognition- to meet the real estate agent.
“Let’s get this over with,” Septi said to the rest of the VI4C. On the last three houses there had been at least one feature that made the houses inconvenient or even impossible for them to live in, and the first house had been alright, but not overly impressive.
“What’ll we do, if we don’t like this place?” Raram asked, sounding bored.
“We’ll keep looking,” Ferinequell said tiredly. He had been driving from place to place and seemed to be about as agitated as Septi felt.
“Let’s hope we like this place,” Kin said, and Septi sighed.
“If only it were that easy,” Septi said. “We’ll keep looking until we find the perfect place for us.”
“It’s already great,” Gin said, sniffing the air and looking healthier than he had in a long time. “Smell that salt water!”
“That’s nice,” Mes said grumpily, tugging her shirt into place, covering a bit of her back that had been showing. “So what are we waiting for?”
“Nothing,” Septi said as their real estate agent approached. “Here we go again.”
“Are you ready to go in?” The real estate agent asked, her high heels clicking on the pavement as she walked.
“I think so,” Septi said, glancing at the other VI4C members.
“Good, good,” the agent said absent mindedly, smoothing her skirt with one hand while she slipped her high tech cell phone into her purse and fumbled for the key. “We’re running right on time, too.”
The tour of the house only took half an hour but it was long enough for the VI4C to fall in love with the house. Reluctantly they decided to keep looking at houses, but over the next two weeks they kept coming back to it. Finally Sept and Ferinequell decided to go through with the paperwork and buy the house.
Everything seemed to be going well; or so Septi though while everyone was preparing for the move. That was until she came across Gin training along in the gym.
His movements were vicious and abrupt and Septi stood in the doorway watching for a few moments. He was coated in sweat and Septi guessed that he’d been out there for a while. As she watched, Septi felt a fang of pity for him.
She realized that he was grieving, just like she’d been not long ago. Finally the sandbag he’d been pummeling swung around and hit him and he staggered back exhaustedly, unable to keep fighting. Blood dripped to the concrete floor from his bruised and split knuckles and his breathing was loud and ragged.
“You okay?” Septi asked uncertainly. He looked up in shock.
“I killed my team-mate,” he snapped, his voice hollow. Septi took half a step back, shocked by the rage and hurt in his eyes and on his face. “Do I look like I’m okay?” The last word echoed in the gym.
“Gin,” Septi began, her voice soothing, though she wasn’t sure how to calm him.
“Don’t!” he yelled. “Don’t like to me. Do you think that I don’t know that it was my match that killed her? That I’m the reason she’s dead?” He turned around and staggered to the nearest wall, banging his fists against it hard, streaking blood on the light colored paint. He began to sob raggedly.
“Pull yourself together,” Septi snapped, but all Gin could do was sag against the wall, sinking into a sitting position. “It was an accident,” Septi’s voice softened as she crossed the room. “It’s not like you meant to kill her.”
“No,” Gin muttered, looking up at her. Tears were on his face and he looked so miserable that Septi couldn’t help but pity him. Carefully she put a hand on his shoulder, kneeling in front of him.
“No one holds what happened against you, what happened,” Septi said, wanting to reassure him taking one of his hands with her other hand. “And I can honestly tell you that Val would think that all of this emotion was silly. She never was fond of tears or any other sign of emotion.”
“I killed your friend,” Gin said slowly. “Why don’t you hate me?”
“It was an accident,” Septi repeated, trying to sound convincing while struggling with her own rising emotions. Don’t cry, Septi, don’t cry. D*** it, don’t cry! She blinked furiously, feeling the hot tears stinging in her eyes. “I still get upset…” Her voice trailed off as she fought the tears, swallowing back the sobs. “When I go through the… The ‘what ifs’,” She couldn’t stop the tears, and she wiped her face on the sleeve of her t-shirt.
Gin gently pulled away from her touch before moving in to huge her. Septi froze for a moment, unfamiliar with the simple gesture, before giving up all self-control and beginning to bawl into Gin’s chest. She felt a bit of dampness in her hair and felt Gin’s body shake with sobs.
The tears seemed to never stop coming, and Septi had no idea how long they’d been sitting there crying. Finally she regained control and Gin finally stopped shaking and they awkwardly pulled away from each other.
“Didn’t you say that she – Val – would think that we were stupid for crying?” Gin asked, his voice hoarse.
“Yeah,” Septi whispered, drying her face with her hand. “Oh, no, I got your shirt all wet.” Gin glanced down and then smiled at her.
“Don’t worry about it,” he said, laughing. “I needed to change anyhow.”
“Still, I’m sorry,” Septi said, standing up. The full force of what she’d done hit her and she turned to leave, trying to act dignified and to not run in terror from the one person she had let her guard down around.
As she stepped into the sunshine she broke into a run, not wanting to ever stop. Terrified of herself and her emotions she ran into the forest, to solitude.


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