Black Magic - Chapter 9 (Revised)

Chapter 9

 

“Why did you have him leave?” Angel asked after he had turned the corner.

“Does it make a difference?”

“Not really,” she answered.  “But he is Caleb’s best friend.”  I noticed she didn’t say anything about wanting Bret to stay, but I thought she didn’t care which one of us went.   Besides, I wasn’t sure what the relationship between those three would be when all was said and done.  “Well, I really don’t want to spend the night here, so let’s go get him.” 

Maybe she thought I enjoyed the look of the place, but I didn’t really want to stay there all night either, and my man was waiting on me.  Angel opened the door and we walked inside.  There wasn’t a whole lot of light in the warehouse, but there was plenty of light due to the vast amount of windows and the moonlight shining through it.  Visibility was not an issue here. 

As for the warehouse itself, it had the smell of rotten cardboard and dust.  I could understand the reason for the smell of cardboard because there were a considerable number of stacks of cardboard boxes that reached the ceiling, and there was no telling how long they had been there.  They were all over the place, and I wasn’t sure how anyone could walk around let alone drive a forklift around all the stacks of boxes, and I could see why there were a lot of places to hide.   There were so many stacks Caleb could possibly hide here for a whole day of school and no one probably would have found him.    There was a staircase that went up three-quarters of the way to the ceiling leading to a catwalk that stretched the inner perimeter to some offices at the top of the warehouse.  Now if the smell of old cardboard made sense, the overwhelming smell of dust was out of place.  Even with all of the cardboard boxes, the place looked clean, or least as clean as it could look in the moonlight. 

“Why don’t we split up?” Angel asked. 

“Sure.”  It was actually a good idea.  “I really don’t feel like spending half of the night looking for someone who obviously doesn’t want to be found.”

“What?” Angel said.  “It was your idea to look for him.” 

“Actually it was Bret’s idea,” I corrected her.  “Do you really want to walk home?”

“It wouldn’t be the first time,” Angel answered.  She didn’t elaborate any further, but instead started walking in one direction while I went the other.  Walking around all of these stacks of boxes was starting to make me feel like a mouse walking through a maze trying to find the block of Swiss cheese.  I kept turning one corner after another, but I wasn’t sure if I was making any real progress.  The stack of boxes just kept on coming, but after about twenty minutes of walking around clueless, I ended up in what looked like a clearing with no boxes.  I looked around and it seemed that I was in the center of the warehouse.  It was a lot darker her then it was near the door, however, I could see a lot more clearly than I had any right too.  It was almost as if I was seeing through someone else’s eyes. 

Before I could decide where I wanted to go next, I heard Angel’s voice coming from the distance.  “Caleb?  Where the hell are you?  You’re being a jackass, as usual.”

Talk about being counterproductive.  I was sure Caleb would just come running right out of his hiding spot after being insulted.  Sometimes that girl just amazed me. 

“What are you doing?”  I could hear what sounded like some kind of a struggle. “Let me go.”

The commotion was coming from behind me, so I slowly turned about one hundred eighty degrees.  Before I had completed the turn, I could see what was happening out of the corner of my eye.  Caleb was dragging Angel out from between the cardboard boxes like a rag doll.  He was not at all gentle, but she wasn’t coming along willingly and was putting up quite a fight.  Of course being that he was so big, he took care of her the easy way and just dragged her across the floor.  That was an attractive way to treat his girlfriend.  I’m sure girls would just flock to him after the two of them broke up.  Oh wait, he really wasn’t worried about that.  I just stood there, watching them.  He stood her up so that she was standing straight, and he had produced a pretty wicked hunting knife and had it inches from her neck.  He was sneering manically, and it was almost like we were all in some kind of really bad horror movie. 

“Ok, the joke is over,” Angel said.  “This is so. Not. Funny.”

That didn’t stop Caleb from laughing.  “Sure it is.  I know how much you hate losing, and it makes this even more hilarious.”  He was sweating quite a bit, so Angel must have given him quite a workout while dragging her out here.  He finally addressed me by asking, “Val, why aren’t you laughing?”

“You are more pathetic than funny,” I answered.

“I’m pathetic?” he asked.  “I’m not the one with a knife to my neck.”

Angel actually laughed at him.  “I bet that thing isn’t even real.  It looks like my little cousin made it, and he’s four.”

“Are you sure about that?” he asked.  If he was trying to pull off a menacing act, he was doing a very good job of it.  When he spoke, I actually shivered from his creepy tone.  “How about I show you how fake it actually is?”  He then lowered the knife from her neck, but that move didn’t lower any of the strength that he used to hold her with.  She struggled, but she couldn’t move him at all.  With his free hand, grabbed her left hand and brought it up to the knife. 

“Ouch,” she yelled as Caleb cut her hand with the knife.  It wasn’t a particularly big or deep cut, but it did bleed, though she probably wouldn’t need stitches.  I thought he had made his point.  “You sick bastard.”

He just laughed at her.  “You can keep talking about how fake this knife is, if you want,” he said as Angel bled.  “It will just give me more opportunities to make you bleed.”

“Funny.  I wouldn’t have pegged you to be a sadist,” I said. He didn’t respond but just looked at me, and I decided to get to the point.  “Did your brother, Scott, give you that knife?”

That actually surprised him.  This was the first time I had broken the mental control that he had over himself.  I actually thought that he was going to try and surprise me with that.  I had to do a little more for it to actually make much of a difference.

“How did you know I had a brother?”

“How do you think?  Someone told me.” I had to let him know that he didn’t scare me at all, but I also couldn’t let Angel get hurt.  “Obviously, I didn’t find out on my own.”

“No really,” he said acting shocked.  “I know you’re not that smart, no matter how much you try to act otherwise.  I want to know who told you.”

Oh, he was going to go the insult rout, and I was totally fine with it.  He would lose.  Plus I thought the more that I kept him talking the more likely that he would make a mistake, or better yet, give me a chance to turn the tables a bit.

“What can I say?  I have friends in high places.”   

The fact that I wasn’t just cooperating with him seemed to really piss him off.  I guess he thought just because he put a knife to Angel’s neck that I was just going to just become a doormat.  I wanted him to keep underestimating me.  It was the same thing that got his brother into trouble.

“High places?” He said mocking me.  “I know you aren’t talking about Angel here.  I wouldn’t consider her to be ‘high places.’”

“Don’t bring me into this,” Angel said.  “I didn’t know you had a brother.  I don’t have anything to do with this.”

“I know you didn’t, but you have everything to do with this.”

I really didn’t know what he was talking about here.  He must have really gone over the deep end, even more than putting a knife to his girlfriend’s throat deep end.  Angel had just as much to do with Scott’s death as my mother did.  Of course, Angel, having no clue as to what he was talking about, must have been going nuts right about then.

“Dude, what the hell are you talking about?”

“It’s simple really.”  His ability to stay calm while raging mad was, at the same, time admirable and quite creepy.  He hadn’t raised his voice since we’ve been inside the warehouse.  He was finally being himself for once.  The problem was being a real nut job wasn’t at all likeable.  He continued on.   “I’m making you a part of it. Why, you ask?   Well, because I’m sick and tired of you.  I’m tired of you being loud, obnoxious, and, most of all, I’m tired of you insulting me all the time, and treating me like I have the IQ of a doorknob.”

As much as those were valid reasons to break up with her, they weren’t good enough to be holding a knife to her throat.  Why did he stay with her so long in the first place?  I was sure I would have my answer soon enough.

 “Caleb, if you wouldn’t act like a person with the IQ of a doorknob, than people won’t treat you like one.”  That definitely wasn’t the response that Angel needed to give him.  Not if she wanted him to remove the knife from her throat.  As a matter of fact, after she had said that, he moved it closer.  However, Angel continued on.  “I’m not saying you’re stupid, as a matter of fact, I know you’re quite intelligent.  However, you can’t get all mad when you put on the dumb guy act, and people start to treat you like you actually are dumb.  Sooner or later they are going to believe it, so this is all of your own doing.”

Again, when she started to actually say something that actually had a chance of helping, she just had to turn around and ruin it.  The last thing Caleb wanted to hear was that he was to blame for anything that was happening right now.  I was going to have to keep her quiet because she wasn’t helping her own cause here.  It was too bad my magic didn’t have the ability to silence her because I would have definitely used it. 

It wasn’t necessary at the moment because he basically ignored her and spoke to me.  “You haven’t answered my question.  Who told you?”

“I don’t really understand why it matters all that much,” I said determined not to answer his question.  “I was going to find out anyway.  As a matter of fact, you were going to tell me.”

“I don’t care whether or not it matters.” Again, even though he was becoming more and more agitated from my lack of being accommodating, he remained calm.  People like him were the worst to deal with because they always appeared calm, so they didn’t give much feedback due to the lack of their facial expressions betraying their thoughts.  “See, you are mistaken in the assumption that this is negotiable.  I’m calling the shots here.  Now who told you?”

I didn’t respond right away.  I was still trying to think of a way out, hopefully without using the magic.  He seemed to know a lot of things, but as of right now, he didn’t know that.  I had planned on keeping it that way, at least for now.

“I’ll make this easy for you.”  The voice was very familiar voice, one I wasn’t sure I was happy to hear.  I figured it wasn’t all together bad, so I should have been happy to see him.  It didn’t make matters any worse.  “I told her.”

Caleb turned and looked at Solorio; and, of course, was instantly confused.  The detective must not have a habit of stopping at his house, or calling him on his cell phone.  “Who the hell are you?”  He was more amused than he was angry.  It was at that moment I started to suspect he was, in a sick sort of way, enjoying all of this.

  The good detective identified himself, and he went out of his way to say he was in charge of the investigation into his brother’s death, but he didn’t show his identification, which I was sure should have got him some kind of reprimand after all this was over.  However, he didn’t need to because no one doubted that he was telling the truth.  He had that kind of presence going, and it was something he hadn’t shown in any of our two previous meetings.  He was trying to assert himself here in a way that was not needed before, it was successful.  He also wasn’t dressed in his normal suit and tie get up.  It was a different look and it suited him, even though he did clean up well regardless.  He was another one of those who aged well.  My mother sure had some genetically blessed friends.  If he had a weapon on him, I couldn’t tell from looking at him.  He looked very much like he was going to head to a movie with his wife in jeans and a button down white shirt, but he wore no wedding band.

Caleb was actually excited to see him, and said.  “Oh you’ve been following Val, so you figure out how she killed my brother.” 

“No.” It was actually rather comical to see Caleb’s smile disappear from his face after Solorio shot that down.  “I was following you.  Trying to figure out why you sent your brother after her in the first place.”

That stunned Caleb, not to mention Angel.  However, before Caleb could respond the detective directly spoke to Angel, asking her if she was okay.  Her response: “I’m okay, except for the bleeding hand, thanks to this bastard.”

Solorio sounded really sincere when he said.  “I’ll get you out this without any more harm.”

“That would be this psycho’s last mistake,” Angel said.  “He had better kill me because if he doesn’t, I’ll castrate him.”

“That can be arranged,” Caleb said.

The detective was taken aback by the exchange.  However, he didn’t respond to the two of them directly, but instead turned to me.  “Is she always like this?”

“Unfortunately,” I said.  “That is vintage Angelica Hernandez you are experiencing.  She’s normally a barrel of laughs, but very counterproductive in hostage situations.”

“Why is that?”  Solorio must have wanted to keep the mindless conversation going for as long as possible.

“She doesn’t know when to shut the hell up.”  Caleb said.  “And most of the time there isn’t a reliable connection between her mouth and her brain.”

  Despite the serious situation, everyone except Angel was cracking up. Caleb, however, quickly dropped the humor.

“So did you find out what you were looking for?” he asked.

“I have an idea, but right now I’m not worried about that,” Solorio said.  Caleb was skeptical and to be honest, so was I.  “Let Angel go, and I can help you.”

That was an interesting tactic, and I was quite curious as to how he could help him.  Caleb?  He was still skeptical.  “How are you going to help me?  You don’t even know me.”

“I know you better than you think.”  Solorio’s tone was steady.  He wasn’t the least bit frustrated, and it was even weirder that it seemed as if he knew exactly what he was talking about.  “I know what you’re feeling, and I can get you through it.”

“Really,” Caleb said.  The manic laughter had returned. “What ever.  You’re starting to bore me.  I’d rather talk about Val’s fire starting abilities.  That is way more interesting”

I think I might have been the only one who wasn’t surprised by that.  “You are seriously deluded,” Angel said.  “No one knows what you’re talking about.”

“She does.”

The detective shot me a confused glance, but before he could respond, he suddenly slump over, falling to the floor.  He was starting to bleed from the back of his head, and standing over him was Blaine. 

“I figured now was the time to make my entrance,” Blaine said.  He dropped the crowbar he had used to clobber Solorio, and the noise from it hitting the ground was excruciating.  He looked at me. “You don’t seem so surprised to see me.”

“Well, I’m surprised,” Angel said.

“Why should I be?” I asked him.  “I was wondering what was taking you so long to show up.”

“I’ve always wanted to make a dramatic entrance.” Blaine joked.

“You’re not really good at trying to be a badass.  That was never a strong point for you.”  Surprisingly, it was Caleb who had said that, and I couldn’t even imagine coming up with the look that would compare to the evil one Blaine gave Caleb.  I had to admit it was outstanding, albeit a bit out of place.  Weren’t these two supposed to be working together?  Caleb just laughed at him, but Blaine ignored him.

“So you knew?” Blaine asked me.

“Of course, I knew,” I said.  “How else would Caleb have known about the fire?” 

“How did you know Angel didn’t tell him?”

“You can’t be serious.”  I looked at him pathetically.  “Angel has her fair share of issues.”  I shushed her with a hand when she started to protest and continued, “Everyone does, but being disloyal isn’t one of them.  Add the fact you’re the only one who had seen me use the fire, even though I didn’t know what was happening at the time, it wasn’t hard to figure out you were the one who told him.”

“Here I thought the mind reader had told you.”

“And you would be wrong,” I said to Blaine’s shock.  “I figured you had told Caleb about the fire only after he mentioned it a couple of minutes ago.  Don’t get too cocky because I know you have been telling him a lot of things.  The only reason she didn’t actually tell me was because by the time we had the conversation, I had already figured it out.  She did tell me that you had talked to her.”

He didn’t attempt to deny it.  “Yeah, I did.  After I followed you to her place, and then to the park in La Jolla, I went in to see her.  She didn’t contradict my suspicions, but she was more interested in talking about me and wasn’t very helpful otherwise.”

“I’m sure that annoyed you,” I retorted.  “I know how much you hate talking about yourself.”

He responded with laughter.  “I guess I deserve that.”  I still didn’t understand why he was even here.  From the look he gave Caleb, he was holding some resentment.  “She told me you would figure things out eventually.”

“Well, you made some mistakes, I said to him.  “You were way too eager in trying to figure out how Bret and I were getting along.  Then you made one big mistake, just the other day.  When talking about Caleb and Angel, you said that you agreed with Bret’s assessment, but you said they should be together.  If you agreed with Bret, then there was no reason they should have been together.  You were hiding what was really going on.  All the time you were telling everything to Caleb while doing only God knows what else with him.”

“He asked me too.  I didn’t really know why, and he didn’t explain.”

“So you just did it?” Angel asked.  “God, talk about stupid.”

“I had my reasons, but most of all, the fire intrigued me.  However, I didn’t know he had sent his brother after Val.  Hell, I didn’t even know he had a brother.”

“It was something I was good at keeping from everyone.”  Caleb was kind of basking in how he swindled everyone.  “He’s only my half brother, but my dad hates him.  I’ve always gotten along with him just fine, but my dad really didn’t want me being around him.”  He paused to let this sink in for everyone else.  I guess getting kicked out of the Navy for being an unapologetic racist and having a rap sheet a mile long would make any dad feel that way.  “I figured he would jump at the chance to try to scare you senseless of seeing Bret, so I talked him into arranging a rendezvous with you.  He didn’t disappoint.  He called me after he saw you at the gas station, but I didn’t really think he would catch up to you that night.  I also didn’t think he was going to end up dead afterwards.  It didn’t matter that I didn’t like him all that much.  I’m the only one who is allowed to mess with him.”  I couldn’t argue.  I felt the same way about my brother.  I’m the only one who is allowed to beat him up.

“It’s funny,” I said.  “I also wouldn’t have pegged you to be a closet racist.”

“That’s because he isn’t,” Angel said finally figuring out what the three of us had all ready known.  “It’s a totally different kind of closet.”  She made the connection when it became apparent that Caleb and Blaine were actually still talking to each other and were hiding it from her.  “How could you do that to people?”

Caleb wasn’t at all impressed.  “Don’t try to act all high and mighty.  What you actually mean is how I could do this to you.”

 “I guess the rumor he was spreading about you was actually true the whole time.” 

“I’ll save you the trouble,” Caleb said relishing in the idea of actually being truthful for once.  “The whole thing was my idea.”

 I looked at Blaine.  “That was another one of your mistakes.  Your account of Caleb’s reaction contradicted Bret’s.  Of course this time, it was an outright lie.  You said Bret kept Caleb calm.  However, Bret said Caleb wasn’t even worried about it and that didn’t make any sense what so ever.  Despite whatever was going on between you two, I’m more inclined to believe Caleb’s best friend’s account over yours, and I don’t know any straight guy who isn’t going to get a little upset, if someone spreads a rumor that he is gay.  The fact the two of you were supposed to be friends would have made the whole thing even worse.”

Angel looked almost sick.  If she was trying to put up a brave front after what she just found out, she was failing miserably.  “I can’t believe this after all we’ve been through.”

“Aw,” Caleb mocked, “Don’t get crazy about all the sex we’ve had, and it was good stuff.  As a matter of fact, it’s the reason why I kept you around for so long, and it made keeping up appearances a lot easier.  Besides, sex is not really a big deal.  Just about every species in the world does it except for asexual amoebas.  Humans are the only ones who put some emotional attachment to it, and look at all the problems it causes.”

His coldness was staggering to all three of us, and if there was any chance that any one of the two of them were going to forgive him for any of this, it was gone.  Blaine was just as pissed as Angel was starting to get.  As expected, Caleb wasn’t really worried about what the two of them thought because the person he really cared about wasn’t there.  However, when he turned and looked at Blaine, he softened a bit, but only a little.

“Come on,” he said to Blaine, “You knew how I felt all of this time.  This should have been no surprise to you.  We’ve even talked about it.”

Blaine, however, was having none of it.  “Even if that were true, it doesn’t change the fact that you used everyone who cared about you, and not even for a good reason.  You used me.  You used Angel and your brother, and for what?  It wasn’t like getting Val and Bret to stop seeing each other was just going to magically make Bret fall in love with you.  Oh, wait!  I guess you took the position of, if you couldn’t have him then no one could.”  Blaine didn’t attempt to hide his disdain.  “But the most cowardly thing about all of this was you couldn’t even be man enough to do any of it yourself.  You had to have everyone else do your dirty work for you.”

“Well, of course, he did.”  I said.  “He had a reason for it.  He knew he couldn’t convince Bret on his own that I was such a horrible person.  It would just alienate Bret, possibly to the point of ruining their friendship, and Caleb would lose him totally.  Now, at first, he didn’t have to do much because I was very skeptical of Bret, and for very good reason.  Bret didn’t exactly put forth a very good first impression, and there was a chance Caleb would have gotten what he wanted by just keeping his mouth shut.  What changed, however, was that Bret had noticed his playa act wasn’t working the way he thought it would and he changed his tactics.  Then the baseball game happened, and the two of us had such a good time that night and had grown so much closer that it changed everything.  Caleb had to have talked to Bret pretty soon after that night and came to the conclusion that he had to do something.  As I said, he wasn’t going to convince Bret, so convincing me was Caleb’s only option.  Unfortunately for him, and his brother, he seriously underestimated me, and it had disastrous results.”  I turned and looked at Caleb.  “That’s about right, isn’t it?”

Caleb still hadn’t lost his manic smile.  “I see you have everything figured out.”

“Not.” I said to him.  “I still don’t know why you went through the whole purpose of trying to fool everyone else about your sexual orientation.  Why start a rumor no one was going to believe anyway?  It seemed a little like overkill to me.”

“Because you really don’t know what is going on.”  Caleb said.  “There were only a few people I had to worry about.  Some, unfortunately, talk outside of school and have some connections with my parents.   I didn’t want anything to get back to my dad.”

“Your dad,” Angel said in disbelief.  “Your dad was the last person you had to worry about.  He is a television producer.  Being homophobic isn’t an admirable trait in the industry.”

“As usual, you’re running your mouth with no clue as to what you’re talking about.”  I could tell Caleb was starting to get a little frustrated because he was losing control of everyone.  He wasn’t able to use everyone who cared about him like he could probably just the day prior.  He continued on.  “It isn’t the same thing.  My being gay isn’t exactly the same as someone who isn’t blood related to him being gay.  People always act different when their kids are involved.”

As crazy as Caleb was starting to turn out, no one could really contradict that point.  I had said the same thing when it came to interracial relationships just last week.  It didn’t mean that Angel was willing to cut him any kind of slack.

“So you go all narcissistic on everyone?”  Blaine said, and if Caleb was looking for any sympathy from the other gay person there, he was hugely mistaken.  However, I wasn’t sure narcissistic was the word Blaine wanted there.  “You would make the perfect A-list celebrity, so I guess it makes sense you want to be an actor.  You’ve made an art of using people for your benefit, and to honest I’m quite tired of it.  Now it seems everything has crumpled around you and you have no one.  I can’t deal with getting that one physical pleasure without the emotional attachment, as you so well put it.  You can find someone else to treat like hell.”

If there was any question as to how deep the relationship between those two were, it was answered right then.  Caleb, however, was again not impressed.  The one thing Blaine had forgotten, or didn’t know in the first place, was that Caleb didn’t really respect him to begin with, so if Blaine was expecting what he said to have an effect, he was seriously mistaken. 

“Who cares,” Caleb said.  “I’m a little tired of all this.  I want to see the magic.”

“Oh great,” Angel said.  “I guess we are back to Caleb, the nutcase.”

Caleb wasn’t fazed at all.  “I don’t care.  I want to see it.  I’ve heard a lot about it, but I have no reason to believe it’s true.  I want to see it.”

I was trying to avoid this.  I didn’t want to use the magic unless I was using it for a valid.  He was trying to force me to use it in a way that would not necessarily benefit me.  However, I still wanted to do it, to basically show him what he was actually dealing with.  I had a suspicion he didn’t really think of me as being much of a threat, even though he knew what I had done to his bother.  I think he was a little bit in denial, and I was more than a little willing to mess with his head a little more. 

“I want to see it too,” Blaine said.

“Why?” I asked him.  “It’s not like you haven’t seen it before.”

“Okay,” Angel.  “I guess everyone has really lost their damn mind.”

We all ignored her, which was quickly becoming common place.  “I know it was an accident,” Blaine said.  “I don’t think you really knew what you were doing, so I want to see it.”

“Fine,” I said coming to a decision, and before anyone could say anything or react, I brought the fire.  I did it in the same way I did in the previous situation with Caleb’s brother.  However, the effect was a little different.  Not in the spell itself, but in everyone’s reaction to it.  Surprisingly enough, Blaine was a fast one.  He quickly moved out of the way of the fire ball, and the fire passed by him crashing into the stack of cardboard boxes behind him.  Of course, as before, the fire grew as it hit the boxes and quickly engulfed all the other stacks near it.  All of them went up in flames, totally destroying probably hundreds of dollars of Xerox paper.

“Who would have thought,” said a surprised Angel. 

Even though using the magic had the desired effect on all three of them, it did have some unforeseen consequences.  Due to the burning ash, the whole warehouse started to fill with smoke, and the temperature started to rise dramatically.  I was able to deal with the smoke easily enough by creating a wind spell, without anyone else noticing, carrying all of the smoke out of the open window near the entrance to the warehouse.  It didn’t really do much to lower the temperature, and the place was quickly starting to feel like an oven, but at least I didn’t have to worry about choking to death.  Also, I had inadvertently triggered the sprinkler systems, and in seconds I was soak and wet.  All of the water, coupled with the heat, started to create a steamy mist that floated in the air throughout the warehouse.  Of course, setting off the sprinklers meant the fire department would show up within minutes.  The police were probably on their way also, if Detective Solorio hadn’t called them before he had entered the warehouse, which was a lot more likely.

I looked for the others, and despite the fact my ability to see clearly should have been hampered by all the steam, I could see perfectly.  It was weird and a little disconcerting because even though I wasn’t at the time using the magic, I could still sense it in my ability to see through the steamy mist I had created.  I saw no one.  Blaine must have gotten scared and ran out of the warehouse.  What a coward.  On the other hand, Caleb and Angel were still in the warehouse, and as with my ability to see, I could hear the two of them a lot better than I had any right too.  It was almost as they were standing right in front of me and shouting, and from what I could hear it was Angel, predictably, doing most of the shouting.  From what I could gather, Caleb had used the little bit of confusion with the fire and smoke to drag Angel away.  I was surprised he didn’t just let go of her, and I bet he was wishing he had.  I could hear her struggling, and yelling at him.  In a span of five seconds she had called him every derogatory name she could think of, and none of them had anything to do with Caleb’s just revealed sexual orientation.  People said what they wanted about her, but no one could say she was homophobic.  I decided to let the shouting lead me directly to their location.  It didn’t take long.  I had found the two of them in about thirty seconds.  As I expected, Caleb was dragging her around like a rag doll basically because she was being too difficult for him to do otherwise.  They didn’t notice my presence, so I had to clear my throat to get Caleb’s attention.  He swung Angel around so forcefully that both of her feet became airborne during the turn.

When the two of them were facing me, I said. “Thought you could get away from me huh?”

Caleb just snorted, which was seriously unattractive.  I mean a guy that looks like him snorting.  Ew.  Even for gay guys, who have higher standards than most women, that was not a turn-on.  “That’s okay. I’ll be rid of the two of you soon enough.”

“What are you going to do?” Angel said. “Kill the two of us.”

“Why not?” He asked.  “She killed my brother, and you would be the jealous person who wanted her boyfriend.  It is payback, baby.”  He went a lot further, but he obviously wasn’t going to be a fiction writer, and should basically stick to acting out things other people wrote.  His story had so many holes even a five-year-old could have seen through it.

“You know,” Angel said to me, “Why don’t you just burn his ass and be done with it?”

Caleb laughed at her.  “She would end up hitting you first.”

He was really starting to annoy me.  “You really have a lot to say about things you know nothing about.”   

“What is there to know?” he asked with confidence.  “Its fire and we are all wet, not to mention the sprinklers are still running.”

As much as I hated to admit it, he was right.  I couldn’t use the fire with the sprinklers still running.  It seemed like Angel’s heart sunk after she heard that. 

“So what are you going to do now?” he asked taunting me.  He then laughed and he looked incredibly menacing with his hair being all wet and flat on his head.  He moved the knife closer to Angel’s throat.

“I’ll just repeat myself,” I said.  “You seem to talk a lot about things that you know nothing about.”

“You say it like it’s some kind of warning.”

“Take it as you choose.”

“Well,” he said considering.  My tone seemed to catch him off guard, and he really started to think about what he was saying.  He didn’t do it nearly long enough.  “I think you are the one who has no idea what you’re talking about.”

“I don’t?”I asked.  I laughed, effectively mocking him.  My tone made it clear to the two of them I knew exactly what I was talking about.  Despite that, I said, changing my tone, “Okay, I don’t know what I’m talking about.”

 I folded my arms across my chest, and fixed my eyes on him.   “You have other things to worry about.”

He again laughed at me mockingly.  “What could I possibly have to worry about?”

I looked at him quizzically.  “You tell me,” I said.  “Aren’t you starting to feel a little cold right about now?”

Both were confused about my last question, causing them both to look like a deer caught in headlights.  However, I kept my focus on Caleb.

“Um, Val,” Angel said.  “What’s wrong with you?  It’s like a hundred degrees in here.”

That was actually inaccurate because the cold water from the sprinklers had dropped the temperature a bit, but not enough where cold would have been an accurate description.

“I wasn’t asking you,” I said to her, but my eyes never left Caleb.

However, he could not answer.  Caleb, at my suggestion, had started to shiver.  It was very little at first, but soon he started to shiver so bad he had dropped the knife, and it landed harmlessly on the floor. Because he hadn’t shaved, icicles had started to form around the hair follicles on his face and upper lip.  The spell I had cast on him was doing a real number on him, and the fact that he was soak and wet wasn’t doing him any favors.  He still was able to keep a hold on Angel, but not for long.  He had tightened his grip on her after he had dropped the knife to keep her from running away.  However, when he made the mistake of touching her uncovered arm, she left out a loud scream.  His touch was that cold.  She quickly and easily twisted herself out of his grasp.   She was beside me in an instant.  I then switched gears and broke the spell I was casting, and quickly cast another one.  It took a little more time than I anticipated for the spell to appear.  Caleb was able to stand up right and look around like he was trying to see who had playfully smacked him on the back of his head.  The extreme cold had left him, but before he could get his bearing, a hurricane force blast had picked him up and carrying him about fifty feet and smashing him into the warehouse wall.  That had to hurt, and he landed on the ground in a crumpled heap.  I had purposely taken quite a bit off of the spell, but even it didn’t stop me from grimacing when he hit the wall.  My effort was going to at least produce a couple of broken ribs.   

I instantly turned and left him there.  My first concern was for the Detective, and Angel had decided to follow.  I guess she wasn’t really that worried about her ex at the moment, if at all. 

“That was interesting.  I’ll have to remember not to piss you off,” Angel said with tentative laughter.  I didn’t respond so she continued.  “I have one question?”

“What?”  I wasn’t sure I was really in a talkative mood at the moment.

“How was Blaine able to dodge that fireball?”

I had to admit it was a fair question and deserved an answer.  “He didn’t dodge it.”

“So you missed?”

“No.”

“Okay, that doesn’t make any sense,” Angel pressed.  “Either he dodged it, or you missed.  It’s one or the other.”

I stopped walking and turned and looked at her.  “Like I said, I don’t miss.”

“That is not what you said the first time,” Angel countered.  “You originally said you didn’t miss.  It’s not the same thing as saying you don’t miss which implies missing isn’t possible.”

“Let me make this easy for you,” I said turning to completely face her.  “I don’t miss.  When I use the magic, I never miss, and dodging the attack is not possible.”

Angel thought about that for a second.  “So you’re saying you missed on purpose?”

She sounded like the possibility was totally inconceivable, and I had to laugh.  “That’s one way of putting it.  If I hadn’t purposely missed we would have one dead body on our hands.”

“Only one?” Angel asked turning back to look at Caleb.

I turned and walked away.  My only response was a “We’ll see.”  I knew she wouldn’t have understood why I did what I did, so I didn’t bother to explain further.  I had purposely aimed at the boxes that were behind Blaine without making him my actual target.  I had wanted the fire to come as close to him as possible without actually hitting him, and I wasn’t exactly sure it was going to work out exactly the way I had wanted.  The fact that everyone had thought that I had missed was just icing on the cake.

When we had reached the detective, the sprinklers had finally stopped pouring out water, and the sirens could be heard.  It took them long enough.  We ignored them, and focused on Solorio.  He wasn’t looking too good.  There was a pool of blood under his head, which thankfully wasn’t too big and wasn’t growing.  Then again, I had never been bashed with a crowbar, so I no idea of the seriousness of his injuries.  Angel knelt down and took his pulse.

“For once, all that CPR and First Aid training we went through is getting put to good use.”  She looked up at me and smiled.  “Well at least he is alive and breathing.  I’m not sure for how long though.”

It was interesting because I really didn’t need her to tell me.  It was something that I could feel, and I wasn’t entirely sure it had anything to do with the magic.  My enhanced visual and audio capabilities had inexplicably vanished a few minutes back.

“I hope the fire department gets in here soon,” Angel said.  “It would be such a waste if he were to die here.  He’s too cute.”

I couldn’t help but laugh, despite the seriousness of the situation.  “Too cute?  He’s probably old enough to be your dad.”

“How do you know?”

“He’s friends with my mom, so he’s too old for you.”

I was quite worried because something was telling me I couldn’t wait.  However, I wasn’t really sure as to what I was supposed to have done.  I wasn’t a doctor, no matter how much I wanted to be.  I sat down next to his lying body and looked him over.  I could tell he was breathing, but it was taking him a lot of work just to do that.  Sitting there helplessly staring at him started to frustrate me.  Of all of the things I could do, I couldn’t believe there was nothing I could do to help him. 

I told you that you are going to have a decision to make.  If you remember everything that I’ve told you, you should be fine.

The thought had come into my head from out of no where.  It was what Debra had told me earlier in the day.  Obviously, she knew I was probably going to be sitting there next to the detective in that exact moment.  She had probably known from back when we first met.  I frantically tried to remember everything she told me during our conversations.  I came up with nothing, but I figured I was trying to hard.  I took a deep breath and thought back again starting from the moment that we had first met. 

 The second thing is that if the magic allows you to one thing, you usually can do the opposite.

The thought had hit me like I had just struck myself with lightning of my own making.  It was something that was easily missed initially probably because at the time, I was too busy making jokes and being difficult.  There, however, was my answer.  I had to just think of Debra’s own abilities for the proof.  Debra could read the mind of anyone she came into contact with.  That in itself wasn’t the most important part.  She also could see that person’s past, and that must have been her main ability.  The mind reading was just secondary and probably came with the territory.  Going by that logic, the opposite of being able to tell the past, was to tell the future.  It was something she was able to do in spades.  Using the same logic, my ability was to use magic to destroy or damage things, even to the point of causing death to living things.  Did that mean I could use the magic to heal?  According to the logic in question, that should be the right answer.  However, Debra had also told me that magic didn’t always work in ways that would make logical sense.  As a matter of fact, she gave me a hard time about it.  However, there was one thing that made me think I had stumbled onto the right answer, and it was she had went out of her way to make sure she had told me I could probably perform the opposite of what was the main ability.  It wasn’t a topic of the discussion that was already taking place when she had brought it up.   She had told me for a reason, and it had to have been just for this moment. 

I had nothing to lose but to try, and I sat there for a couple of minutes trying to will the magic to work to no avail.  It was a pathetic display really.

“Val,” Angel said effectively breaking my focus.  “I don’t think this is really the time to go into a psychotic trance.”

“You know,” I sighed.  “Could you, for once, just shut up?”

She quickly shut her yap, but what she said was actually quite helpful.  She had, in patented Angel fashion, had let me know I was trying to hard.  I wasn’t really giving her that much credit because she was actually saying it to be a smartass.  It just happened to let me know what I was doing wrong.  I had never been able to get the magic to work by putting a lot of effort into it.  The one thing about the magic itself that always baffled me was it was so easy to use.  It didn’t take much thought or concentration, so putting a lot of thought and energy into it was not going to work.  It hadn’t worked before, so why would it now?  Keeping that in mind, I used the magic as I had done in the past, putting in little effort.

At first, I wasn’t sure if it was working.  There wasn’t any kind of light or anything I could see that was giving me a sign that I making any kind of progress.  However, after about thirty seconds and with me close to giving up, the Detective suddenly opened his eyes and quickly lifted himself up into a sitting position effectively scaring the two of us.

“What?” he asked.  He was confused and kept looking back and forth at us.  “Why are you looking at me like I should be dead?”

“Because you should be,” Angel answered him.

Solorio, learning quickly, ignored her, and started to stand.

“I don’t think that is very wise,” I said to him. 

“Why not?”  The Detective got to his feet with no problem and turned and noticed the blood sitting where his head had just been.  He seemed to put things together and rubbed the back of his head.  His remark, “Damn, I’ve got blood in my hair.  That’s going to be hell to get out,” was quite funny.

Angel was just as amused as was I.  “Dude, you got clobbered on the back of the head with a crowbar,” she said.   “You should be lucky there isn’t brain fluid leaking out of your head.”  This last episode didn’t teach her lessons about being vile.

He shot her a questioning glance and then turn to me.  “Why are the two of you so wet, and where’s Caleb?”

“If you hadn’t noticed, you’re not exactly bone dry,” I answered.

“Yeah, Sleeping Beauty,” Angel continued for me.  “You missed all the fun.”  She started to walk away saying, “I’m going to go check on Snow White back there.”

Solorio looked at me after she was out of sight and said, “What in the hell is going on?”

I had no intention of giving him an answer.  “Follow her and you’ll find out.”

With that, I turned and started to retrace Angel’s steps.  He reluctantly followed.  He was quickly caught up and was right beside me, and if he had any effects of the battle with Blaine and the crowbar, he didn’t show it.  He was walking normal, like nothing had happened to him.  I must have healed him totally, and for that, I was quite glad, and relieved.  However, I still had a question for him.

“Detective?”

“Yeah,” he said.

“You said you knew Caleb better than he thought.”  I asked him, “What did you mean by that?”

He let out a breath before answering.  “I knew exactly what he was going through.”

“How?”

“I’ve been through it before myself,” he explained.  “Of course my handling of it was a lot different then his.”  He paused.  “Stop looking at me like I just told you that your mom died.”

“I can’t help it,” I stammered.  I wasn’t expecting that at all.  “Does my mom know?”

He laughed at my question. “Does she know?” he said through giggles.  “She knew before I did. 

“Your mom and I had always got along well, even though she was a few years older than me.  I once wanted to ask out her youngest sister.  I think your mom was in college at the time, and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t wasting my time.  When I brought it up, you mom just laughed at me and said something like, ‘Jose, you don’t want anything to do with Joyce.  You really want to be with Anthony.’  I really didn’t want to be with your uncle, but she had made her point.”

I could help but laugh, because Mom would definitely say something like that.  However, we didn’t talk about it further.  We found Angel kneeling at Caleb’s side.  I promptly left the Detective and knelt down on the other side of Caleb, directly across from her.  I didn’t say anything, but, instead, looked at her.  She seemed hesitant to touch him and just watched him, her long brown hair covering her face and eyes.  The silence lasted so long I wasn’t sure if she was aware of my presence. 

Finally, she spoke.  “You know,” she started.  “Deep down, I think….I think, I had always known.”  It was tough for her to admit this, and after looking at her a little more closely I could see tears running down her cheeks effectively ending the strong girl act she had putting on for so long.  “I didn’t want to believe it was true, and I kept denying it enough that I started to believe he wasn’t, even though deep down I knew otherwise.  I would think that what I had was too good.  How could he possibly not want me?” She finally looked up at me, but kept talking.  “I think that was why I had gotten so mad at Blaine last spring.”  She looked back down at him and continued, “He had basically confirmed what I had known all along, and it really upset me because he had also confirmed that everything about our relationship had been a lie.  It hurt so much, because it was at that moment I knew I meant nothing to him, and I needed him.  I could have stopped him a while ago just by accepting the truth, but I couldn’t, and he used that.”

She looked me directly in the eye.  “Val, don’t bring him back.”  Even I was not expecting that.  I didn’t respond immediately, and I could tell from looking at her that even saying that last thing hurt her, so I wasn’t sure she had meant what she just said.  “I’m serious.  Don’t use the magic like you did on the detective.”

I glanced at the detective and he looked dubious.  He also had his gun out.  Wasn’t it a little late for that?    He should have had that thing out a long time ago, not that it would have made any difference.  It had to have come out of thin air, because based on what he was wearing, I couldn’t figure out where he had hidden it.

“Put that thing away,” I said to him.

“No,” he said. 

“Why do you need it?   He’s unconscious and not waking up.”

“And what if he does wake up?”

“That’s not going to happen,” I insisted.  “Put it away.  If he was really that much of a danger, you wouldn’t have let us near him.”

The Detective gave me an intense stare, and when he saw I wasn’t backing down, he put the gun away, but not in the same place where he had got it from, just in case he needed quick access to it.  I looked down at Caleb for the first time and did a quick assessment.  It didn’t look like he was bleeding, at least not from what I could see.  He was breathing but it was rather labored.  It was even worse then when we came upon Solorio a little earlier.  He must have had some broken ribs and possibly more.  He was out cold and wasn’t going anywhere.

“Look, Angel,” I said gently.  “I can’t do what you ask.”

“Why not?”

“To start,” I said. “You don’t really want that.  Look, I know you’re hurt and angry, but this is not what you want.  You don’t want me to leave him die.”

“But he needs to pay.”

“Who says he won’t?” I asked her.  “I’m sure the good detective here will make sure of that, but this isn’t the answer.  Caleb did some stupid things out of love, as much as even he would deny it.  He wouldn’t have gone through all of this if it was for anything else.  You can’t deny that.  Yes, he’s made some mistakes, but those mistakes were also made out of love.  My mom has always said hate and love are on different sides of the same coin.  They both make you do things that are irrational, things you wouldn’t do under normal circumstances because they both require the same deep feelings.  I believe that is what happened.  He made mistakes out of love for someone he knew wouldn’t love him the same way.  However, love can easily turn into hate because they require the same exact feelings, and I don’t want you to make the same mistakes out of hate.”

She looked at me and said, “You seem to have quickly forgiven him.”

“True,” I said.  “But I have other reasons for it.  I didn’t want to kill him in the first place.  If I had wanted to do that I’ve would have done it outright.”  I paused and glanced at Solorio.  His look was unreadable, and I turned back to Angel and continued, “But that is not what the magic is for, or at least not for me.  As a matter of fact, it’s not even my personality.  I want to be a doctor.  I want save lives, not take them.”

She considered what I had said for a few seconds.  “What about what had happened to his brother?”

The question was expected, considering the circumstances.  “Look,” I said.  “That was an accident.  I didn’t even know what was going on at the time.  Plus, if anything, you should know me better than that.”

She again considered my request, taking less time than she did a second ago.  Having apparently made her decision, she got up and stood over next to Detective Solorio, who had to have been losing his mind right about then.

“Fine,” she said.  “Do what you have to do.”

However, the decision didn’t come easily for me.  I knew what I should do, but I wasn’t sure I actually wanted to do it.  Of all the things I had been through this past week, had all been because of him, and Caleb lying there with his life basically in my hands left me with a feeling of power I had never felt before.  Not even using the magic earlier in the week had left me feeling as powerful as I felt right then at that moment.  This was the choice Debra had said that I had to make, and just up until right then, I had thought it was an easy one.  It was supposed to be, but as I sat at Caleb’s side with the Solorio and Angel standing across from me, I was having second thoughts.  One of the reasons was because I had not really forgiven him.  I had actually said that for Angel’s benefit, but I could make a different statement right then and there.  If I had let him die, there would no one here who would doubt my ability, and I would be the most powerful person I knew.  No one that I knew of would ever be able to challenge me.  I wasn’t even sure where these thoughts were coming from, but they were there.  At first I thought they were just a side effect of using the magic, but then I realized it wasn’t.  It was me, and I did have a desire to define myself with the magic.  It was one of the reasons I was so intent on learning everything about it.  Sure I had made the excuse to myself that I was just trying to learn to control it, but in reality, that was a huge lie, and it was a lie that I told myself to make using the magic excusable.  I wanted to use the magic because it was there to use, and I had a secret desire to be all that it would let me be.  I was split seconds from getting up and walking away when I realized the truth.  Sure, the magic was a part of me, but it did not define me as a person, and the moment that I let the magic make that definition, I was giving up everything and the magic would totally consume me in a way which I almost couldn’t imagine.  The key word there was almost, because now I understood what bothered me about that first dream I had back what now seemed like so long ago.  The delight I had at the end of the dream from using the magic to take that guy’s life, which had originally made me sick to the stomach, was what I would become if I had let my second thoughts reverse my initial decision.

“What is she doing?” Solorio asked Angel.

“You’ll find out soon enough,” was her response.

So I used the magic.  Again there was nothing in the visual sense that would have otherwise let me know that the magic was working.  However, I could feel the change in the energy around me, and after a few seconds, I could see that Caleb had started to breathe normally.  The laboring in every breath he took had stopped.  After another second or two, I broke the spell entirely.  He was still unconscious, but I was confident he would recover fully.  I just didn’t want him to come totally back and cause a bunch of problems. 

I stood and looked at the two of them.  “It’s done.  Can we go now?”

“What’s done?” Solorio asked.  “I didn’t even see you do anything.” He paused and then asked, “Will he be all right?”

“I guess he’ll be fine after sometime in the hospital,” I answered him.  “Even though I’m not sure how long he’ll be there.”

I was sure he had more questions, but before he could ask them, the paramedics and some cops had come inside and took over things.  We each were checked out by the EMTs, declared fine, and sent on our way.  That included Solorio, who was going to have a hard time explaining the blood in his hair.  He stayed behind when Angel and I left the warehouse, and met up with Bret outside.  I don’t think I had ever seen him so happy to see the two of us.

“It’s about time,” he said excitedly as he wrapped me into huge hug.  It was long time before he would let go and when he finally did, he gave Angel another hug and said, “I was worried sick.”

“Why didn’t you stay by the car?” I asked him.

“Because that detective had me show him where warehouse was,” Bret explained.  “He was waiting for me when I got to your car, and asked where you were.  When I told him you and Angel had gone into the warehouse to get Caleb, he freaked and asked me to take him to the warehouse.  He made me promise to stay outside while he was gone, but the fact that he called backup before he actually went inside made me a little nervous.  Then seeing that blast, and hearing the fire alarms, made it hard to stay outside and wait.  I was going out of my mind waiting for the two of you to come out.”

While he was telling his story, the paramedics had wheeled out an unconscious Caleb, followed closely by the Detective, and put him in an ambulance.  It was something that didn’t escape Bret’s attention.

“What happened to Caleb?” he asked.

Angel and I looked at each other for a second before responding, but it was Angel who spoke.  “Bret, give Val her keys. You can drive me home in Caleb’s truck, and I’ll explain things.  I think Val would agree that this is probably something I should tell you.”

“And how am I supposed to do that?” Bret asked, but before he could actually finished the sentence, she was dangling a set of keys in front of his face.  “How did you get those?”

“Let’s go, and I’ll tell you,” she said.  “I really don’t want to stay here any longer.” 

She grabbed him by the arm and dragged him away, while he looked back at me and shrugged.  I just laughed.  It seemed Angel has returned to a fraction of her old self, and it didn’t take long.  While I stood there and watched them leave, Detective Solorio had come up and stood next to me.

“I thought you’d be riding with Caleb to the hospital,” I said without looking at him.   

“I’ll end up there eventually,” he said.  “There’s an officer with him, and I need to go home and clean up.”

“Oh yeah, the whole blood in your hair thing.  I forgot.”

He didn’t respond to that, but turned and looked at me.  It was a couple of minutes before he spoke again.  “You know, your mom had always said you were special, but I didn’t know you were that special.”

“You make me sound like I have some kind of a defect,” I joked with him.

“That’s not funny,” he scolded me.  He then grabbed my shoulders and looked at me directly in the eyes. “Go home and get some rest.  I’m sure you’re beat. Don’t tell you’re mom anything.  Instead, let me talk to her.”

“You’re asking a lot.”

“I know, but you’re a teenager.  You’ll figure something out. I’m sure this won’t be the first time you weren’t entirely truthful with her.”  He paused and then said, “Take care of yourself, and I’ll be in touch.”  With that, he turned and walked back toward the warehouse and the officers who were by the front door.

“Detective,” I called after him. When he turned, I said. “Thanks for everything.”  He nodded as I continued, “And I have something to tell you.”

However, he waved me off.  “I don’t want to know.  Just go home.”

He turned and left without another word, and I for once did what he told me to do.


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