Author's Note: Oooookay. So, I finally updated. I know…FINALLY. Anyway, this chapter has angst. Lots and lots of angst. Oh, and thank you everyone who has reviewed thus far. I know, I know, I suck at updating, but I did post it in my profile that I was having some problems, i.e. I didn't want what was going to happen to happen. But, well, the plot had to move on. I apologize in advance.
Chapter 8: The End of the Calm
"Anna!" Evan said warmly when she entered. "We were wondering where you were."
Nick sat beside him at the computer, but gazed up when she entered.
Ann looked away, ashamed of herself for believing what Adele had told her.
"Mrow!" Mary cried, bounding to him.
Nick smiled and scooped the kitten into his arms. "Mary…"
Evan smiled and stood, stretching. "So, how've you been, my beautiful Anna?" he asked, winking at her as he received a glare from his brother.
"Fine," she answered. "I've been just fine."
"That's good," he said. Then he grinned wickedly. "Ever played Twister?"
"Yes, I have," she replied, chuckling at the daggers he was being sent. "However-"
"I'm sure Nick would love to play Twister with you!" Evan exclaimed, then ran as Nick stood, such anger in his eyes, Ann couldn't help but gasp.
"Stop harassing your brother," Ann said firmly.
"Awww, you're no fun!" Evan cried. "Where's Adele when I need her? She'd even whip out the Twister mat before Nick would stalk out, muttering about work."
"Evan," Nick said, warning in his voice.
Wisely, the teenager walked over by Ann. If worse came to worse, he'd use her as a shield. Nick wouldn't harm her. "We were just talking about it."
"Work?" Ann asked.
"Twister," he said, the wicked grin returning. "I'd make Nick be the spinner; then we'd play."
"Evan," Ann and Nick said simultaneously.
Evan sighed and put his hands behind his head. "So, Anna," he said, "I was thinking that we should dance tonight at dinner. It would be fun!"
Ann looked at him, annoyed. "Evan, I-"
"I'm not teasing this time, Anna," Evan said. "I really want to dance with someone other than Adele. She dances like a whorish slut."
Ann laughed. "A whorish slut?"
"I'd use another phrase, but Nick would kill me before the words would come out of my mouth," he said truthfully.
"Damn straight, I would," Nick growled.
Ann sighed. "Nick, you wouldn't really…"
"He would! He would!" Evan cried. Then he sidled closer to her. "So? Will you dance with me?"
"Sure," she said, smiling at him.
He grinned back at her and shot a taunting look at his brother, who, in turn, set down the cat and left the room.
"Nick?" Ann called after him.
He ignored her.
"So," Evan said, "which dress will you be wearing tonight?"
She sighed. "I don't know…"
"We could go pick one out!" Evan exclaimed. "I'll bet I can find one that'll kill Ad-a-lee!" He walked out of the room before she could protest, and she had to run to catch up to him.
"Why do you keep calling Adele that name?" she asked him as they neared her room.
"She hates it," he said, then shrugged and grinned at her. "Kinda like how Nick hates it when I call you Anna. I think he thinks he has dibbs on that name, or something."
She shook her head. "You are crazy."
He laughed. "But that's why you love me!"
She laughed as well.
As soon as he walked into her room, he instantly moved to her closet and looked at the different dresses. "Hmm."
"Hmm?" she asked and laughed at his perplexed face.
"Which one?" he asked, then pulled out a pink dress.
She couldn't stand pink. "Not that one."
"But it's pretty," he said softly, stroking it with a thoughtful expression. Then he chuckled. "I'm just teasing you, Anna."
She shuddered as he put it back. He really unnerved her at times. Other times, he was funny. It was hard to distinguish which was his true personality.
"How about this?" he asked, pulling out a dark blue dress.
"It's pretty," she said nonchalantly.
"Not pretty enough for you," he returned.
She felt the blush that lined her cheeks, and he laughed as he replaced it.
"Evan," she said, frowning at him and her tone warning him not to start again.
"Ok. I know, Anna. Geez! How about this one?" It was a pretty lavender dress with dragons embroidered on the skirt in dark purple. They seemed almost real as he pulled it from the hanger. She was sure she could see the fire coming from their mouths.
"It's perfect," she said, eyes still trained on the dragons.
"Yes," he returned, then chuckled. "I'll see you at dinner, then."
She nodded and reached for the dress he handed her. She didn't even see him leave the room, mesmerized by the moving dragons. Then she looked up, suddenly remembering what time it was. She only had a bit until it was time to eat.
She quickly changed and fixed her hair into a somewhat presentable fashion. She was hesitantly smoothing an invisible wrinkle on the skirt when there was a knock at her door.
Hadn't Evan said he would see her at dinner? And Nick was still angry with her, so who could it be? Suddenly terrified, she grabbed a vase from a table in her room and slowly crept to the door.
"Who is it?" she asked.
Maybe Evan was playing a joke on her? It wasn't funny! Could it have been her own imagination?
Giving in to the notion that it was, she jumped when she heard another knock. Gripping her vase tightly, she opened the door and was greeted by…..nothing. Nobody stood in the hallway.
Perhaps she was imagining things…?
She stepped out into the hall and looked both ways. It was empty. Quickly closing the door behind her, she hurried down the hall. She had the strangest feeling that she was being watched and followed, so she stopped and spun around. As expected, there was nobody there. Yet, she couldn't shake the feeling that something bad was about to happen. Something awfully bad.
She began walking again when this time she heard footsteps behind her. Giving out a cry of alarm, her gait turned to a sprint. She rushed down the stairs and ran down the halls to the dining room. It was empty.
Biting back a wave of hysteria, she spun around and ran into what felt like a wall. Her eyes traveled upward and she sighed in relief.
"What's wrong with you?" Nick asked. "You're acting like a frightened mouse."
Ann frowned up at him. "There was something upstairs! Someone knocked on my door twice!"
"I thought it was Evan at first. Then I thought it was my imagination, but there was something there! There was!"
"What was it?"
"I don't know. I didn't actually see anything. It was kind of a feeling—you know, that feeling that you get when you're being watched and followed?"
Nick frowned. Then, he spun around and stalked down the hall.
Ann ran after him, feeling like a scared puppy.
As they reached the stairs, Nick placed a finger over his lips as a sign to be quiet before he crept up the stairs.
She followed, cowering behind him and glancing around furtively.
"Wait here," he whispered to her as they reached the landing.
She nodded submissively and watched him disappear.
A few moments later, he came back. "There's nothing there." His voice held ice in it.
"I swear I felt something! Someone knocked on my door!"
He smirked. "I believe that, but there's nothing there now."
She gaped up at him. "You do? Why?"
He shrugged and held out his hand. In it was a piece of dirt with a shoe imprint still in it. "Forensics, Anna. Somebody came in with mud on their shoes."
"That could've been anyone in the house," she admitted.
He smirked. "The window was open, and I found this on the ledge."
Her eyes widened in horror. "Oh my God! Then that means…."
"We'll go back downstairs as if nothing has happened," he said, gazing warily back down the hallway.
"No! We need to leave! Now! They'll kill us if we—mph! Mph! Mmmm-mmm-mmm-mmph!"
"Be quiet!" he ordered in a whisper. "If we leave the house now, they'll find us. It's obvious they've got the place surrounded. Just be careful tonight."
She nodded, and he removed his hand. "Nick?" she whispered.
He turned his head back to her. "What?"
"What will we do? How are we going to get out?"
He shrugged and started past her down the stairs, leaving her to chase after him angrily. As they got to the dining room, they heard the chatter of voices.
"Anna!" Evan cried when they came into view. He raced up to her and presented his arm to her. She hesitantly accepted it after a nod from Nick. "I'm still going to dance with you tonight, right?" he asked her cheerfully.
"Evan," Nick said softly, "destiny and solitude."
Evan laughed. "You're kidding me, right?!"
Nick glared at him, and he stopped laughing.
"Then, you're not kidding? Well then…." Evan paused a moment before pulling Ann away from the group. "I guess I'll dance with you now!"
She glared at him. "Evan, this isn't a game! This is serious!"
He raised an eyebrow at Nick. "You told her what destiny and solitude meant?"
Nick merely glared at him and sat at the table.
"Guess not. Then that means that you're naturally intelligent, Anna. Like me!"
"He's bragging again?!" Laura asked, laughing as she entered the room.
"When doesn't he?" Nick returned.
"Laura…..destiny and solitude," Evan said softly.
Her eyes widened momentarily, and she nodded. Then, she left the room, reappearing soon after with Samantha and Neil.
"Come on, Anna," Evan whined. "Just one dance?"
Ann frowned at him. "There's not even any music."
"Come on!" he whined. "Please…?"
She suddenly heard music playing softly in her head. She couldn't help but laugh and shake her head. "That's so cheating."
"Dance with me! You know you want to," Evan said, wiggling his eyebrows.
Ann sighed, thinking the better of it, but placed her hand in his none-the-less. As quickly as she had done that, gunshots rang through the room, and Evan's body jerked from the impacts before slumping onto hers. She screamed as men suddenly stormed the room.
Then, Evan was yanked off of her. A hand was held for her to grasp, and she quickly took it in awe of Nick's strength. Nick fireman-carried his brother and led them all out of the room quickly, pausing every so often to return fire and take down a few men. More kept showing up, however, forcing them to retreat further into the mansion.
"Laura," Nick growled. "That camera would be nice, right about now."
She nodded. "So true, if only I wasn't out of film."
Ann gasped. "You need film for that camera to transport us places?!"
Laura laughed sheepishly. "Yeah."
"Why didn't you buy some more today?!" Ann was almost hysterical, shooting glances at an unconscious Evan.
"Because I didn't know I was out!" Laura retorted.
"Shut up!" Nick roared. He spun around and pointed the gun between the two of them.
They immediately fell silent.
"Do we have a way out of here, Dr.?" Nick asked after another round of firing. A click indicated he was out of ammo. He pocketed his gun, no longer of any use to him.
Neil cleared his throat. "I do believe that I have some spare film in the study."
Nick nodded. "Laura! Go!"
The orange haired genius left the group.
Ann couldn't help the sudden certainty that they were all going to die. Laura wouldn't return in time. Nick was out of ammo, and more men kept appearing.
Adele chose this moment to make her grand appearance, and shrieked when she saw the men, alien to her home, slowly walking toward the hallway opposite of her. The awful sound she made took the men by surprise long enough for Nick to rush everyone through a door.
Ann was able to see Adele screaming and running in the opposite direction before the door was firmly closed and bolted. She turned to Nick, who was setting Evan down on a sofa and removing his clothes to get to the wound.
Evan coughed and wheezed as he regained consciousness. "Damn. We didn't even…get to….dance," he muttered before a coughing fit seized him.
"Don't worry. We'll dance some other time," Ann replied, feeling tears wet her eyes. It was all her fault that he was injured.
"I don't…think so," he rasped.
"Of course you will," Nick retorted harshly, finding various entrance and exit wounds and bandaging them up with scraps of Evan's shirt.
"I can't feel my legs," Evan choked out, frowning. "I think I might be….paralyzed…?"
"It may just be shock," Neil said, pushing Nick out of the way. "Try to wiggle your toes."
"I wasn't finished yet," Nick said, frowning at the frantic doctor.
"It hurts," Evan whispered.
Ann grabbed his hand, gasping when she heard him wheezing for breath.
Neil took out what looked like a piece of a plastic bag . He put it on Evan's chest, over a wound that was bubbling blood. "I need some tape," he directed to Nick.
Nick went to a desk and shuffled through some drawers before he found what he was looking for. He brought it back. They watched as the doctor taped three sides and placed Evan on his side. Almost instantly, Evan began to breathe easier.
"Anna…" he whispered.
She leaned closer so she could hear what he was saying. "It's all my fault, Evan. It's all my…"
"Please, don't cry for me," he said. "It was fun while it lasted, wasn't it?"
She sobbed brokenly, holding his hand with both of hers and cradling it to her face. "Don't leave us."
"Oh, come now, Anna dearest," Evan said, giving her a sardonic smile. "You know what they say. We'll see each other again sometime in the future. You can count on it."
"They do not say that," she said, laughing through her tears.
"You're crying for someone you hardly know. Someone who shouldn't exist, but does. An anomaly."
"If you're an anomaly, then so am I," she returned.
His face paled as he choked back a cry of pain. "I want you to do one thing for me, Anna."
"What?" she asked.
"Stay true to yourself and what you believe. That is your strength." He coughed again, this time spitting up blood. "Damn." Turning to glare at Neil, he whined. "Why'd you have to give Nick all the armored insides? I'm an easy target like this!"
"Why didn't you stop the bullets with your mind?" Neil demanded in return, tears in his eyes.
"Touché," Evan said, grinning. He closed his eyes. "The pain should be going away soon. Yep." He opened them again. "Nick, take care of her. Oh, and name your kid after me."
Nick glared at him. "You're asking to be murdered."
Evan grinned, but suddenly grew frightful. "I don't want to die!" he sobbed out. "God, I don't want to die! I'm afraid…" He paused, then counted down in a trembling voice, "Three….two….one…." His breath stopped, and his eyes stared at nothing.
Neil looked away, wiping his eyes.
Ann broke out into all-out sobs, and Nick pulled her away from the body, which she was feebly trying to hold on to. She turned on him. "Can't you do something?! Bring him back!"
He glared at her. "What do you think I can do?"
"I don't know! You're a bionetic, right? Do some strange, creepy Sci Fi healing stuff. Send a healing beam to him or something."
He growled and yanked her away. Evan's arm fell with a thud.
"No!" she cried out. Struggling, she sobbed as he grabbed both her fists in one hand. She continued crying as he fireman-carried her. She was left to look at the couch as they drew further and further away from it.
"By now, the rooms would've shifted. We should be facing the car park," Nick said, turning back to look at Neil, who was gaping at him.
"How can you be so cold…?" Neil softly questioned.
"You should know," Nick retorted. "You made me like this."
Neil shook his head. "Go on ahead. I'll stay with Evan."
Nick nodded and held out a hand. Samantha raced across the room and grasped the offered appendage. Then, he opened the door to the car park. A very angry Adele was standing there with a thoughtful Laura.
"Looks like you got out alright," Laura said, although it was indiscernible whether it was a positive or an apathetic statement.
Nick set Ann down.
"What the hell's wrong with you?!" Adele demanded, heels clicking as she made her way to them. "Do you have any idea what I've been through?! There were invaders in my house."
"Where's Evan? And where's Neil?" Laura asked, frowning.
"Evan's dead," Nick stated.
Ann shivered. His voice was so cold.
Adele turned her gaze from Nick to Ann. "It's your fault he died. If you hadn't been here…"
"I know," Ann whispered.
"Maybe you should just die. Just kill yourself. Everyone would stop chasing after you. Nick would be able to relax. If you stay alive, everyone will die. You think only of yourself, you selfish little-"
A resounding slap echoed the car park. Both girls looked in shock at Ann's hand. Ann trembled in anger. "I may be the cause of the problems. You might be right. But you have no right to treat me as if I asked for it! I never asked to be what I was. Evan never asked to be what he was either. It's not our fault that we're different from other people. That's just the way it is."
Adele gasped in indignation.
"Even anomalies deserve to live. Even anomalies are afraid of dying. We have feelings, hopes and desires, although they might be hard to find. You're right, Adele. We shouldn't exist; and yet, we do. But I know, as long as I am still able to, I'm going to try to make the best of my life. It's what Evan wanted me to do. It's what I'm going to do." Ann balled her hand into a fist and glared away from all of them.
Adele glared hatefully at the brunette, but it was useless when she wasn't paying attention. So, instead, she did what she did best. Her eyes welled with tears as she held her hand to her reddened face. "Nicky! Are you going to let her talk to me like that?!" she demanded, giving him pleading eyes.
Nick merely glared at her and brushed past her to a black Jaguar. He pressed a button, and the doors opened.
Laura cleared her throat. "Well, I guess that's our cue to get the hell out of dodge. C'mon girls. While it has been a rather…interesting…evening, I'd hate to spoil it with my blood splashed on the concrete floor." That said, the orange-haired genius made her way to the car. She paused and turned to look at Ann. "Oh, and Annari, don't be so depressed. Things always tend to look up sooner or later."
Adele gave one last decisive snort before stalking over to the car, her heels click-clicking the entire way there.
Ann gazed at the door that suddenly spun with the ever-changing rooms of the house. It disappeared, leaving her feeling cold. She didn't belong here. She didn't belong with these people. She missed her old life. Trying to be brave and strong had its toll on her mind and emotions. She felt empty almost. Was that how Nick felt? And if it was… how did he cope with it? How could he go on, when people close to him died in the process? Mary, Evan…how many others had died…?
She suddenly felt as if she was closer to understanding the mystery that was Nick than she had ever been. Maybe, if she was willing, she could unravel the web of tightly strewn secrets and get to his heart. But did she really want to?
Another A/N: My favorite character is dead….and thus…my hiatus has been removed…but…I…KILLED him. My fun, sarcastic and cynical, super-intelligent, somewhat-of-a-pervert, smartass Evan. We will miss you.