“Blackthorne! Try again!”
“Okay,” I said between my gritted teeth.
Why couldn’t Hunter understand that if I’ve tried the Power Shot a hundred times, and haven’t succeeded once, then I will never get it right.
“Blackthorne, I’m waiting!” he yelled. I could tell he was getting impatient.
“Okay,” I said again. I aimed my hand at him and shot an energy ball. Of course, once again it exploded halfway.
“Alright,” he sighed. “Take five and rehydrate. No caffeine,” he said as he hung his head in disappointment.
“Yeah, I know,” I muttered and walked to the kitchen.
I got a cup of water and thought about the time we got this warehouse. I was 5 and he was 6. That was around the same time we discovered our powers. My grandparents owned this building that had been vacant for a few years. They already knew we played in here often, so, when we got our powers, they gave us the building to use as practice space. They thought it would keep us out of trouble. Hunter, my grandfather and I built a kitchen, bathroom and storage room—even a sparring area.
We first discovered our powers at the playground around the corner. We were playing catch. I threw the ball at him and he dodged it at lightning speed. Then, he took the ball and threw it at me really hard—harder than he meant to—and I stopped it in the air, inches in front of my face. We were so enticed by what happened, we kept trying our powers on different things. Hunter learned that he had super speed and strength. I had magic and telekinesis. We both could sense each other’s and other people’s auras. Hunter was also only able to control my magic when he needed to.
I was basically the girl who was hated because of how close I was with Hunter. All the other girls hated that he would only pay attention to me and all of the guys hated me for keeping Hunter from joining any sports. He was the best at any sport but refused to join any teams because it would keep him away from me. And I couldn’t blame any of the girls for being jealous. Hunter Grey was 5’7”, had short black hair and bright yellow-orange eyes. When he used to smile and laugh, he would lighten the mood and make everything feel better. He had the kind of personality that made everyone love him. Everyone including me.
I honestly didn’t think he was so bad to be around…well, he wasn’t so bad before he went away. One year ago, Hunter was sent away somewhere. He hasn’t talked about it or anything that didn’t have to do with training. He changed while he was gone. Before, we couldn’t spend more than 3 hours apart. Now we acted as if we couldn’t stand each other. He completely ignored me outside of training and I did the same. Sort of.
If I would try to talk to him in school, he would act like he didn’t know me, or if I got hurt in gym he would stare at me while I writhed in pain. We left school at the same time and took the same route home, but he would walk slower or faster than me, without saying a word. I missed the old Hunter who would laugh at all of my pathetic jokes, help me with my homework and would hang out with me just because. After 3 months of painful, ruthless training for 7 hours, 6 days a week, it was clear to me that the Hunter I desperately wanted back was long gone.
“Blackthorne! Break’s over! Back to work!”
Ugh. “Whatever,” I groaned as I walked back to the sparring mat.
“What was that?”
I sighed and said in my most sarcastic tone, “Yes, Sir!”
“I could live without the sarcasm,” he said strictly.
“You might, but I prefer not to,” I muttered.
“That’s it. 30 minutes of hand to hand combat.”
I looked at him like he was crazy, which at the moment he had to have been. “What?! You know that I can’t last at least five minutes fighting you.”
“You should have thought of that before you made that smug comment.”
“At least don’t use full power?”
“Not going to happen. Cowards don’t get exceptions,” he said as he got into a ready stance and waited for me to do the same. When I didn’t move, he punched me in the stomach.
“What the hell, Hunter!? Are you trying to kill me!?” I yelled as I tried to breathe.
“You know the rules. Fight or be fought, Blackthorne,” he said as he stared at me.
“That was a cheap shot!”
“You were open and I struck.”
“You should have warned me!”
“You should be paying attention.”
“Fine!” I got in a ready stance. “Let’s do this!”
“Let’s see if you can.”
I took a swing at his head and (of course) he dodged. I took another swing at his chest. He dodged again and kicked my lower left leg, then, punched my right shoulder. I fell and hit my head hard on the mat.
My head was pounding as I tried to sit up. I tried to grab his legs, but he knocked me back down. I eventually grabbed them and pulled him to the ground.
“That’s better,” he said. “Fight harder.”
“Hunter, shut up,” I said. My head and arms ached really badly and my lungs burned.
“Keep fighting!” he yelled while trying to break my hold on him.
“No!” I yelled, now crying from my pain.
“Get up and keep fighting!”
“Stop it!” I screamed.
He became quiet and stared at me in shock.
“Please. Stop,” I whined through my tears.
I felt his hand on my head for a second, then he got up and walked to the kitchen sink.
He coughed up blood then drank some water.
“Hunter!” I started to get up and go to him.
“Stay down,” he calmly said. He looked at me and smiled weakly. “I’m ok. Rose, promise me that you’ll stay there no matter what happens.”
I blushed lightly at the sound of the nickname that he gave me. “O-okay.”
Those were the last words I had said to him before he left.
“Promise that you’ll write to me every day, Hunt. Promise me.”
“Of course, Rose. I promise.”
“I promise, Hunter.”
“Thank you,” he whispered, then he passed out.
“Hunter!” I called to him. I needed to get to him to help, but I didn’t want to break my promise. If he wanted me to promise him, then he probably knew this was going to happen, but why didn’t he want me to move.
We had a connection. We could tell when the other was in trouble or hurt. Now was one of those times and I was scared for him. Though he broke his promise to me, I wasn’t going to break my promise to him, no matter how much it hurt me to see him in pain and not do anything.
“Hunter, are you ok?” I asked, knowing he wasn’t. “Please say something. Anything.”
“Hunter! Yes, I’m here!”
“Shh. Rose, come here. Stay low and stay quiet,” he whispered.
“Okay. I’m coming,” I said as I crawled toward him.
I was half way across, when he said, “Stop moving.” I stayed still until he motioned for me to come closer.
I finally got to him and helped him sit up. He smiled at me and said, “Thanks. Are you okay? Did I hit you too hard?”
“I should be asking you that.”
“I’m fine, but I made you cry.”
“I made you cough up blood and nearly die.”
“That wasn’t your fault. I made you cry.” He pulled me to his chest and whispered in my ear, “I promised myself that I’d never make you cry.”
I blushed and was thankful that the way he held me, he couldn’t see my face. Then I blushed more as I realized he was holding me.
This moment reminded me of all the little things that I missed about Hunter. Like how being in his arms made me feel warm and how the beating of his heart made me feel safe. I also forgot how he always smelled like maple syrup and how the steady sound of his breathing made me calm.
“Wait a minute,” he said while loosening his hold on me. He slowly stood up and looked out the window. “Okay, come on,” he said, extending his hand to me but still looking out the window.
I grabbed his hand and stood up. “Hunter, what’s going on?”
“Nothing.” He lied. “You hungry?”
“Yeah.” He knew I was always hungry after training.
“Want to get something to eat? My treat.”
“Sure,” I said knowing he was trying to come up with an excuse to stay with me longer.
He went to the backroom to change and I went to the bathroom to do the same. It was obvious that he was hiding something and I didn’t like that.
I heard a loud crash and everything went dark.
Hunter! Did he pass out again? I couldn’t feel that he was hurt, but I could sense that there was danger.
I quickly finished changing and slowly opened the door. I carefully walked into the pitch-black room. “Hunter?” I whispered.
Someone grabbed my wrist and covered my mouth. “Be quiet and don’t let go of my hand,” Hunter whispered in my ear. “If I tell you to, get on my back and hold on tightly.”
“Okay,” I said, while thinking, ‘I wouldn’t let go if you begged me to’.
We slowly walked through the darkness, careful to avoid whatever waited for us.
Suddenly, something pulled my arm. “Got you,” a boy’s voice said.
I let out a small yelp and kicked at whoever was restraining me.
“Are you ok?” Hunter asked with a worried tone. His grip on my hand tightened.
“Someone grabbed my arm,” I said.
“Damn, they can see us,” he muttered.
“Who?” I asked.
“Get on. Now,” he commanded, ignoring my question.
Getting on his back, I asked, “What’s going on?”
“I’ll tell you when we get out of here,” he hurriedly said.
“Hey, they’re trying to get away!” the boy’s voice yelled.
“Cut them off!” a girl with a British accent called.
“To your right! 44E. 82N,” another boy’s voice yelled.
I could tell we were in danger and Hunter knew what we were up against.
“We have to get out of here. Fast,” Hunter said. “Hold on tight.”
“Okay,” I said and he took off running at an inhuman speed. I knew Hunter was fast, really fast, but I’d never seen him run this fast. It felt like he was running faster than a racecar. Something told me that this wasn’t the fastest that he could run. Being this close to Hunter enhanced my ability to sense things about him: that he could run faster, but wasn’t so I wouldn’t fall, or how self-conscience he was about me being on his back. I understood how he felt about this situation. We hadn’t spoken to each other in months unless it was about training, and now he was carrying me away somewhere. It was awkward, but I was just happy to be near him again.
He finally stopped in a dark alley, somewhere downtown, and sat me on the ground. I thought it was because he was tired or I was too heavy, but then it hit me. Literally. I felt the space that we had traveled through pinning me to the wall that I was leaning against, at full force. It made me feel nauseous and made my head hurt.
“Make it stop!” I yelled.
“I can’t. I’m sorry,” Hunter said.
“Please help me, Hunter,” I whimpered. “Please.”
I could see him, blurred by my tears, sit down next to me. “I’m sorry, Rose. I want to, but I don’t know how,” he genuinely said.
“Hunter,” I said in a whisper. I tried to reach for him, but it hurt too much. I fainted.