Chapter seven - Past, Breakfast, and Future

Alex and Alastair climbed back into the car, remaining silent as Alex turned the key and started to drive down the road. Neither of them looked outside if it could be helped; they were already saddened by the dying girl's testimony of the attack. They drove for a few minutes before Alex broke the quiet atmosphere.

"Are you all right?" She asked, trying to give her partner a slight smile. "I mean, this is a whole different set of scenarios than what we faced on Adan-gwann."

Alastair nodded and sighed. "I guess I am. But I was just thinking..." He trailed off and bit his lip, hurredly adding, "never mind, that was stupid. Forget I said anything."

She raised an eyebrow. Even though three years had passed, Alex could still tell that Alastair's sudden subject changes never boded well. "What? What were you thinking of?"

"I... I was just thinking..." he paused to laugh softly at himself. "Seeing that girl back there made me remember how it feels to be without a mom or dad. Even though she only had to suffer for a few moments, I've had to live with it for eight years..."

A sudden bolt of understanding hit Alex head-on. She slammed on the brakes and grabbed Alastair by the shoulders, ignoring that he'd already been roughly thrown into his seatbelt. "Alastair, I just remembered something!"

He moaned, dazed from the sudden stop. "Wait... can I get my teeth off the floor first...?"

"Quit clowning. Remember when you told me about your parents three years ago? You said that they had gone to run an errand, but they were killed in a wreck, right?"

"Vividly." Alastair raised a thoughtful eyebrow. "Whoa, what are you getting at..."

Alex was excited about her revelation. "You said you thought they'd been attacked! What if they were - but by the Rauh√Ľn King?"

The boy's eyes widened, but whether from his own sense of understanding or fear, Alex couldn't tell. "Wha... But why? Why would he kill MY parents? What was he doing there, anyway?"

"I, eh..." Trailing off, she stopped to think and finally sighed. "I don't know." She started driving again, casting a sideways glance. "Now something tells me I shouldn't've said anything. Would it be a bad time to ask if you were ok again?"

He met her gaze with his own sad look, then smiled in a meloncholy fashion. "Quite possibly. But hey, live and learn, right?"

"Would some well-deserved breakfast help with that sad look of yours?"

A grin crept up the side of his face. "Now you're talkin'."

~*~

Once the teenagers reached a non-demolished city, Alex pulled the car into a parking place near a small diner. She grinned and unfastened her seatbelt, giving Alastair an almost mischievous look. "You're sure we shouldn't just pick up something at a fast-food place? It'd be a lot faster."

He shook his head. "Nah, we need time to catch our breath. 'Sides, it's not good for you to eat and drive, you know that." He glanced back at Eliton, who was still sound asleep. "How are we going to deal with HER?"

"Easily." The girl pulled a blanket out from under her seat, unfolded it, and threw it over Eliton. "There, hopefully no one will get curious enough to break in and see what we're hiding..."

The two got out of the car and walked towards the diner, not paying any attention to a blond-headed girl who was sweeping the sidewalk. A pale green bandanna had pulled her back-length hair behind her shoulders; she also wore a grey tee-shirt that was the proud bearer of a few small holes, and a dusty pair blue jeans. Neither seemed to notice that she raised her head as Alastair walked past.

The boy scratched the back of his neck as he walked. "Hey, this looks like a-AAAGH!" He cried out and fell flat on his face as something hit him over the top of the head. Alex whirled around to see the girl with the broom standing over Alastair, grinning.

"What'd you do that for?" Alex snapped, stooping to help her friend, who appeared dazed from the sudden attack. The broom-girl scowled at her and swatted at her with the bottom of her broom.

"Get!" Another swing in Alex's direction. "Go on, you hear me? He's mine! GET!"

She jumped back, frowning. "Leave him alone! What's your problem?"

Alastair moaned and tried to push himself off of the ground. "Oh, my head... ACK!" He fell back to his former position as the flailing broom colided with his head once again. Finally, Alex managed to back away and run to the car, hoping the girl would leave her partner alone for now. She hurredly opened the trunk and fished out her staff, unaware of the strange looks cast her direction by various passers-by.

She threateningly thrust the end of the staff at the broom-wielding girl, who yelped and jumped away from her opposer. "Get away from him!" She shouted, angrily jabbing towards the now startled girl. The broom-girl shied, as if she were a horse reacting to the sudden movement, and took off in the opposite direction at a full-out run. Alex growled something low in her throat and helped a very stunned Alastair to his feet.

He rubbed his head gingerly and tried to shake his vision back to normal. "Ow... ok, that was not how I planned to spend my morning. What did she want, anyway?"

"You, obviously," Alex replied through a very wide grin. "C'mon, let's go have breakfast." She tried to lead him in, but he reluctantly refused her help. "I'm guessing you can walk a straight line, then," she stated flatly.

"I'm ok," he tried to assure her, walking a few steps. Unfortunately, those few steps happened to lead him into a nearby lamp-post with a resounding 'THUD!'-type noise. Alex gasped as he fell, then managed to hold back her laughter while helping him stand a second time.

"I'm not impressed, Mr. Independant... ok, walk towards the door..."

~*~

Once the two finally found a table, Alastair had managed to only trip over a chair as he sat down, his head swimming. "Brooms should be listed as a lethal weapon," he moaned, resting his forehead on his arms.

"Whatever." Alex shook her head, chuckling to herself. "On the bright side, that could've been worse." She idly picked up a menu, and after a minute of consideration, tapped her partner on the head with it. He slowly looked at her over the tops of his arms. "What? C'mon, find something to eat. I don't want you passing out on me from hunger, dehydration or whatnot..." She grinned. "Or a concussion, for that matter."

"Very funny." He sighed wearily and did as told, sliding his own menu in front of him on the table. "Would it help to make mention of the massive headache I have?" He asked, grinning.

"Hmm... my stomach has my attention for now... so no, probably not." The girl hesitated for a moment, restrained herself from grinning again, and added, "besides, you should be proud! Not many people can brag about surviving a crazed teenage girl butt-kicking..."

Alastair glared at her and swatted at her with his menu. "Oh, shut up. I've been picked on by two crazy females so far; a third won't make my head stop hurting."

Alex laughed. "Fine, fine..."

A quiet moment passed before her partner decided to speak. "After all, it's not my fault all the girls think I'm irresistable," he muttered slyly, raising an eyebrow at her.

"Whatever you say." She frowned at her menu and fell silent, trying to decide whether to order pancakes or french toast. They sat, staring at the selections, until a waitress in an annoyingly short skirt waltzed over to their table to take their orders.

She whipped out a pen and notepad, glancing at the two. "So what'll it be for y'all today?"

"Um... the pancakes meal and orange juice, please ma'am," Alex replied, setting down her menu with a polite smile. "Excuse me for just a moment." She stood and left for the bathroom, leaving Alastair to fend for himself.

He knew he had gotten the woman's attention in more than one way when she turned and gave him a suggestive stare. "I'll have the french toast and milk. No butter, please."

At this point, Eliton (who had somehow gotten rid of her wings before leaving the car) ambled in and sat down in Alex's chair. "Hey! Where's Alex?"

"Bathroom." Alastair nervously scratched the back of his neck, trying to avoid any further stares from the waitress.

The woman, obviously disturbed about a spontaneous arrival, turned to her haughtily. "Anything for you, miss?"

"No thanks," the imp replied.

"Ok. I'll be back soon-" she winked at Alastair and added, "-sweetie."

As she walked away, Eliton had such a look on her face that made Alastair turn a vivid shade of red. "Don't say a WORD," he muttered darkly, staring down at the table.

"Oh, don't worry, I won't... yet." She grinned a menacing grin, glancing towards the bathroom to see if Alex was coming. "I wonder how many words Alex will say when-"

"You wouldn't DARE!" He cried out, horrified at the idea. "She'd kill me if she heard, especially after that comment I made earlier and-" He stopped mid-sentence to watch the frantic and subtle hand gestures Eliton was making. Either she was saying the table behind theirs was on fire, or someone was..."-she's not right behind me, is she?" He asked feebly, finally understanding.

The imp gave him an exasperated look. "No, but she came out of the bathrooms. And I won't tell her, just for your peace of mind." She stood and, after winking at Alastair, left just as Alex approached the table.

"Ok, I'm sure that I'm not the only one who noticed, but where'd her wings go?" She asked quietly, sitting down.

Alastair shrugged lightly. "Imp have magic-like powers, in a way... they can make their wings disappear, make themselves disappear, or cast different spells... y'know, stuff like that."

"Mm-hmm..." She raised an eyebrow at him. "And why was that waitress flirting with you?"

The color drained from his face as he struggled for words. "I, eh... have no earthly idea," he replied, managing a meek smile. "She's probably crazy or something..."