IMPORTANT NOTICE: Read author's comment at end of chapter, please!

Knight of Fire

Chapter Twenty-Seven

We'd been riding in Lucky's hummer for about twenty minutes now. There hadn't been too much talk. It just felt awkward... being alone with Lucky with no one else around us. I felt stupid. I mean, we talk all the time with the other EK, so why can't I just laugh and talk like I always do?
"So where are we going?" I asked. It had taken me forever to even ask that. I'm so pathetic.
He glanced over at me with a grin. "You mean you can't guess?" "The mountains?" I quizzed.
He nodded. "That's right." Silence for a few minutes. Think of something, Nolly!
Before I could even think of a word to say, Lucky spoke. "You like the mountains, right?" "Yeah!" I said excitedly. I closed my eyes and grimaced at how stupid I must have sounded. Like a little five year old. Crap!
Lucky laughed and I felt even more retarded. I just wanted to crawl under a rock and die. Lucky's way out of my league. I mean... the guy is rich, handsome, dignified... well, sort of. Okay, maybe not so dignified, but still if we did start going out, everyone would think I'm just some gold digger!
"You're not acting like yourself, Nolly. You aren't nervous, are you?" he asked slyly. Although I had a crush on him, I sort of wanted to hit him for knowing about and, in a way, making fun of my uneasiness.
I knew I was blushing, so I turned and looked out of the window. "U-uh, well..." I stammered out. I didn't really know what to say. I chanced a look back at him to see that he was grinning at me. Damn him. "Not really," I said as coolly as I could.
He laughed at me and I started to get irritated. Since when did Lucky like to annoy me? I turned and forced myself not to glare at him. He glanced at me and something on my face made him stop laughing. I didn't mean to give my anger away. "Sorry, Nolly. I'm nervous too." For some reason, everything felt odd. Too odd. Why should I be so uncomfortable around him? Maybe Yugone's way of thinking was right... maybe the knights shouldn't date each other. Then again, the reason he'd decided that was because he couldn't get Adonis to fall for him. The hypocrite.
"Ever wonder where Adonis is?" I asked suddenly.
Lucky gave me a quick look and frowned. "Why are you asking?" Was he... jealous? "J-just wondering. We're pretty much all together now, so where is Adonis already?" "Thinking that maybe he'll like you this time around?" Lucky asked a little bit scalding.
I laughed just slightly. That earned me a glare. Whoa, he was serious? "Lucky, come on. I'm not Yugone. All that I'm worried about is that we're short one knight. What if he's died?" "Or he's not interested?" Lucky asked.
"You've got to be kidding," I said. "I don't know why you care anyway." "Yeah, you're right. Why should I care?" he asked.
Sighing, I shook my head. "Why are you being so shitty?" All of a sudden, my head banged into the window. Lucky had swerved and pulled over abruptly. I stared at him with wide eyes, holding my throbbing head.
"Why am I being shitty?" he yelled, leering at me. "I'm not the one all obsessed over some stupid old crush!" "Lucky... you're acting really strange..." I said slowly, afraid if I said something wrong this might get physical.
He laughed, but it was angry. "I'm strange, huh? Compared to Adonis, of course I'm strange!" I just looked at him, afraid he might hit me if I spoke. He lifted his hand and I turned away from him, bringing my hands to my head to shield myself. When I didn't feel any pain, I slowly moved my hands away and gave him a side-glance. "L-Lucky, what's going on?" He just started laughing. Scared as hell, I discreetly undid my seat belt and started reaching for the door handle. Lucky grabbed my wrist roughly and stared at me like some crazy person. "What the hell do you think you're doing?" "Y-you're not Lucky. Lucky wouldn't act like this," I said, barely believing it. But I knew Lucky... I knew that there was no way this could be Lucky. It all just felt strange.
"Oh, so you can only accept me when I'm all nice and lovey-dovey with you, huh?" he screamed. My eyes widened and I cringed. This wasn't Lucky... the aura... the aura had been hidden until now.
But it was so clear now... the aura was so black that cold seeped from it, touching my own aura like death's shadow. This wasn't Lucky. "You bastard!" I screamed, karate-chopping his hand on my wrist to make him let go. "How dare you use Lucky's form to deceive me!" I wrenched the door open and jumped out of the car.
"Maybe I've deceived you the whole time, you idiot," he yelled, getting out of the hummer himself. "Heh, just like some stupid broad to not even notice that one of her own is a Soul Thief!" No. No, I'd seen the true Lucky and he was at home right now. This guy had come out of nowhere, just today. He wasn't the Lucky I'd been crushing on. He was just trying to fuck with my head. "You liar." "I'm a liar. Oh, so you loved me when you thought I was some rich knight, right? Now that I'm a Soul Thief, you just don't care." "Fuck you, you're not Lucky. You were never Lucky. I know the real Lucky and there is no way you've been screwing with my head since I met him," I stated as he came closer. I started backing away.
"Are you so sure, Nolly? I mean, come on, you're the weakest knight. You bring them all down because of your lack of memories and skills," he said with a sly smirk.
Frowning, I shook my head. "I may not be the strongest like I'm supposed to be, but I read people. I can tell that you're lying about playing Lucky for so long. You just started playing him today." He gave a small chuckle. "You keep believing that." "I will. Because it's the truth," I said. I was sure of myself this time.
I felt my eyes go wide as I started to recognize him. "You... you're Sterling!" I could tell. That coldness from his aura... like touching liquid ice. I remember it! ...I remember, only they're not my memories.
He stopped advancing on me. "H-how could you know?" "Well, first, I figured that you'd have to know about me and Yugone. That would pretty much narrow it down to you, since I don't really know any other Soul Thieves that would know me and Yugone that well... besides, the coldness in your aura gives you away," I said calmly. "I don't remember much, but even reincarnation can't make me forget something... someone so frozen." "What the hell do you know?" he screamed and started running toward me.
Sterling was strong. There was no way I could even hope to win against him. So I did the only thing that I could think of. Run. There just was nothing else to do. If I tried to fight him, I'd only die and I wouldn't get a chance to warn anyone that Sterling might take on our forms.
But of course, Sterling also had speed that I didn't have. It was only a matter of seconds before he brought me down to the ground and was about to kill me. He dug my face into the road hard. "You think you know me?! You know nothing about me! NOTHING!" "S-stop, Sterling!" I ordered. But, of course, he didn't. I tried to wriggle him off my back, but he stayed firm.
A scream resounded in the area and then the weight was lifted off my back. I quickly sat up and turned to the right to see Sterling laying on the ground, panting. What the hell had happened? I looked to my left to see a flash of red and then nothing. W-who'd saved me?
Sterling glared at me. "The next time we meet, I'll show you just how frozen I really am," he warned and then disappeared. This is crazy. Breathing a little heavier, I stood up and looked around. Where did the hummer go? Don't tell me I have to walk home! That would take two days!
Fucking bastard. Did he have to take me to a place so remote? Sighing, I did the only thing I could and started walking back the way I'd come. This would be a fun time... especially since I really have no clue how to get home from here anyway.

Three days later... naw, just kidding. Three HOURS later...

"Does it really matter how I got abandoned at Woodland Park?" I asked my sister. Luckily, I'd had some quarters in my jeans.
"If you want me and Kevin to come pick you up, you better tell me why the hell you ended up in Woodland Park!" Sighing, I switched ears. "It's a long story involving Elemental Knight stuff. Come get me and I'll tell you all about it on the way home," I said. She agreed and we hung up. I knew that I should have been calling the EK, but I didn't want to bother them, not yet. I didn't really want to tell them how everything had happened either, especially not Lucky.
What an embarrassing situation I'd gotten myself into. I HAD to tell the EK that Sterling was back, but I couldn't tell them how I knew without humiliating myself. I could picture it now, if I told the truth. "Yeah, well, what I thought was Lucky called me up and told that he was gonna take me out. Me, having a huge crush on Lucky, agreed and then we went and were probably gonna get it on, but I brought up Adonis and he got all pissed, so I could tell that it was actually Sterling. Crazy, right?" I soo couldn't tell them.
I leaned against the phone booth and forced myself not to cry. What was I thinking, anyway? Not only should I not be dating an EK anyway, I'm way out of Lucky's league. Come on, a lower middle class girl with a rich guy? It's so obvious that a girl like me would just use him to get some money. And even if I knew it wasn't true, that wouldn't matter. Yugone was right not to get romantically involved with other knights. It would only lead to awkwardness.
So I couldn't let Sterling or anyone else use my feelings for Lucky against me again. I'd have to make sure that nothing ever happened between Lucky and I. It was better that way anyway. He could go about dating all the girls he wanted and I could stay single while getting to be a stronger leader.
Besides, I have crushes on so many guys all of a sudden. I need to take a moment and decide which of them actually have any real feelings behind them and maybe... MAYBE... act on them. If not, I'm just going to be confused and not be sure who to choose to actually pursue.
How did my life become so complicated? One minute I'm just another girl trying to make it through high school with SOME dignity left, then I'm a secret superhero... then local celebrity! And soon, all these people would turn on me. I guess I'd better enjoy my fifteen minutes of fame while I have it.
There was so much for me to reflect on while I waited there for Kevin and Liz to pick me up. I'd never thought about it before, but I had a lot to figure out. What happened after high school? Did I continue fighting Soul Thieves for the rest of my life? Would I ever get a job? What will my life be like after the Soul Thieves? Will I even have a life after the Soul Thieves? It didn't make any sense to go back to having a normal life after being an EK. Why go back to being boring old Nolly when I could be the Knight of Fire?
I slumped and started feeling bad. I have no worth outside of being an EK. And I'm not even that good of an EK. Tears came to my eyes... how depressing. Maybe I really am just dragging the EK down. I'd always thought it at the back of my mind... I just didn't want to admit it to myself. I almost wanted to just die right there. I really was useless. Having next to no memories of my past life, half my already weak powers, hardly any physical strength.
Looking up at the darkening sky, I realized it would rain soon. The more I thought, the more I realized I was just a burden. Everything just seemed so dreary then. The only reason I didn't die was that my sister would be sad if I died. That was the only thing keeping me from leaving.
Tears started sliding tentatively down my face. I've been pretending to be happy so much, that I pushed all my doubts into the back of my mind and now they were all resurfacing. When the past comes back, it comes back with a vengeance. Not that it ever comes back... just the memories. The first small raindrops fell. I looked up and saw the storm clouds above. I stepped out of the payphone booth and let it rain on me.

Thirty minutes later...

I was soaking wet as I sat in the back of Kevin's car. "What's wrong with you, Nolly? There was a booth right next to you and you just risk pneumonia by getting yourself drenched? And what the hell were you doing up here anyway"
Giving a short sigh, I explained the whole story to her. About Sterling, about Lucky... leaving out the fact that I had a crush on him and that I thought he might have a crush on me... about pretty much everything.
"Who is Sterling? Why is he fucking with you?" she asked.
Feeling numb and depressed at the same time, I shrugged. "Probably because I'm the leader. Well, technically, anyway. But now that Yugone is here, I'm really not needed anymore"
"Oh, quit being all self-pitying. Of course you're still needed. From what I know, everyone would have died at the PPRR if you and Yugone hadn't teamed up, right? I'm pretty sure Yugone couldn't have done that himself," she said in a scolding tone. The thing about Liz is she was sympathetic, but usually she used tough love to make you cheer up... only I'm not the type of person that responds well to tough love.
When I didn't answer her, she turned around and glowered at me. "Don't you dare be all depressed about not being strong enough! You are! If you hadn't been at the PPRR then the Soul Thieves would have won because Yugone could've never beat them with just his power"
I tried to crack a smile, but I just couldn't. Liz didn't understand the truth. She only knew things from what I told her or what she saw on TV. There was no way she could see that I was the weakest knight. That I was completely worthless. "Seriously, Nolly, quit being all gloomy"
"Sorry," I said quietly, not looking at her.
"What exactly happened?" she asked suspiciously. I forced a weak smile and shook my head. "D-did he rape you"
That made me look at her finally. "No, Liz. Nothing like that happened. I'm just tired, that's all"
She gave me a long stare and then shrugged. "Whatever you say. Just quit being so sad, okay"
Instead of giving a verbal answer, I just nodded. I was tired, so that wasn't a lie. But since I added 'that's all' that made it a half-truth. When I get home, I'm going straight to bed and not waking up for anyone. And I will cuss out Heather if she even tries to say one thing to me because I really just don't give a shit anymore.

Thirty-five minutes later...

I was at home. I'd thanked Liz and Kevin for helping me, walked in the house, got strange looks from everyone who saw me, headed up to my room and took off my wet clothes. I put on some dry underwear and then slipped into bed. Usually I sleep with at least a shirt, but I just didn't care. I was almost hoping I would catch pneumonia.
Tears slid down to my pillow. It wasn't that I was depressed... no, it was more that I was depressed at being depressed, if that makes sense. The last thing anyone needed was a depressed Nolly, but I couldn't help it. I'd been faking smiling so much that the mask came crumbling down way too fast. I'd been pretending that I wasn't stressed so everyone would think I was strong. But I knew it was a lie. I'm not strong.
It took me a while to fall asleep. I just couldn't stop thinking about sad things and how much I wanted to get pneumonia. I think everyone heard me crying so bitterly, but they knew better than to see if I was all right. No one ever checked in on me anymore. But that was okay.
Tomorrow, I'd put on a happy face and be the Nolly they'd all come to expect. Tomorrow, I'd force myself to be the person they all thought I was the whole time. Yeah, there was always tomorrow...

End of Chapter

Author's Comment: I hate to say this, I really do, but I'm going to have to put this story on hiatus. I'm not really feeling it anymore, so I'm not going to update for a while. I'm going to finish the whole story before I update again, that way you all won't have to wait months between updates. I'm sorry for those of you that actually still read this, which I highly doubt is anyone now.I was just going to post a notice, but I thought I'd at least throw in a chapter and then announce it. I hope you like this chapter and I hope that you all will check back every once in a while to see if I have more updates up. I'm going to do my best to force myself to love this story again, so we'll see how it goes.
Oh and btw, I hate Notepad! I need Microsoft Word again! This formatting sucks ass!

THANKS TO ANYONE WHO READS THIS STORY! Starrychocolate: I'm sorry to do this and I hope you still stuck around to see this chapter. Thanks for reading and reviewing!