Summary: Our favourite tortured boys are back in this third and final instalment in which they try to outrun Hell.
Notes: See chapter 1 for disclaimer warnings and related info. Thanks for reading and commenting and as always enjoy.
I duck and roll as Aaron’s celestial blast, tenfold stronger than Gray’s Hellfire, takes out the hedge to the left of the door. My field is designed to repel Hellfire, but it’s useless against celestial attack. Because that’s never supposed to happen.
“Think about this, Aaron,” I say breathlessly, gaining my feet.
“I have. More than you know. I’ve had a near eternity to think about it,” he sneers
I summon my own power and the celestial energy coursing through me stings my mortal flesh, but it’s a relief to know I can still manipulate it to my will. “Destroying me is not going to serve your purpose.”
An icy grin slits his face. “But it will feel so good.”
“So, then, you’re ready to join Gray in Lucifer’s kingdom? Because, if you do this, that’s where you’re headed.”
“There are two mortals whose memories will tell a different story. The image of Gray attacking you is what He will receive.” He shakes his head slowly. “And the only other witness is a Grigori, who will swear that I tried to protect you.”
“Daniel will not lie for you,” I say.
A confident smirk settles over his face. “I wasn’t referring to Daniel,” he says coolly as Hope steps from behind the maple tree in the back corner of the yard.
He stares at me for a long heartbeat with dark, dead eyes.
Her beautiful face twists with pain. “I would have done anything for you.” A tear leaks over her lashes and down her cheek.
Aaron chuckles. “You know what they say about a woman scorned.”
I look at her, begging her with my eyes. “Please, Hope. Just go inside.”
Instead, she tucks back behind the tree.
“We’ve had a little talk, and she sees you for what you are now. She understands how you manipulated her.” A malevolent smirk twists his face. “As I said, there will be ample proof that Gray is responsible for your death. So tragic when a pupil turns on his mentor.” Aaron’s hand lifts like a shot, and a blast of white lightning rips past my head as I roll to the side.
I hear Hope scream from behind the tree. “No!”
“Don’t do this, Aaron,” I say, regaining my feet.
My heart slams into my ribs as I see Hope slip out from behind the tree and move slowly in around Aaron, her eyes wild with fear. With a quick glance, I try to warn her back, but I don’t dare do more and draw his attention to her.
“Aaron,” I say, lifting my hand, hoping to keep his eyes trained on me. “This is a really bad plan. Even if He believed I was destroyed by Gray, you wouldn’t be in line for my job. He’d want another Dominion.”
“I’ve proven myself over and over. For eons I’ve done exactly as I was asked. He’ll see that and reward me. I’m sure of it.”
“What He’ll see is your pride.”
“No.” He shakes his head violently, lightning crackling over his raised hand with the flare of his temper. “I’ve never put another above man. That’s where Lucifer went wrong. It’s because of my love of man that I want your job. His children need someone who can truly protect them against Lucifer.” The hand at his side opens, gesturing around him. “And all anyone has to do is look at where we’ve ended up to know you’re not up to the task.”
I watch as Hope flanks his blind side. Before I can do anything, she jumps on his back, pulling him off balance. They fall to the ground and I fly at them as Aaron turns and lays his hand on Hope’s arm. I wrap my arms around her mid-dive and pull her out of Aaron’s grasp, but, just at that instant, there’s an electric jolt that runs through her into me.
I groan and roll off Hope as the scent of burnt flesh hangs heavy in the humid night air. Hope convulses and then lies motionless on the ground.
I’m barely off the ground when he unleashes another bolt. This time I don’t get out of the way quickly enough and his blast strikes my arm. In my celestial form, this would do little physical damage, but in my new pseudo-mortal body, it rips a chunk of flesh from my shoulder, leaving a bloody crater, and throws me to the ground.
Aaron’s eyes pull wide as he sees the damage he’s inflicted. His gaze flicks from the wound to my face. He raises his arm, very slowly, as his expression of disbelief shifts into triumph.
The slam of the back door draws his attention and, instead of unleashing his blast on me, the streak of lightning from his palm shoots toward Maggie, who stands wide-eyed on the back porch. She barely has time to flinch before the lightning consumes her.
My cry, “No!” morphs into a growl as I unleash a bolt of my own and the celestial charge rips through my flesh. Aaron screams and drops to the ground as my blast connects.
And then something slams into me, where I sit dazed on the ground. At first I think it’s Hope—that she’s not dead after all—but then I realise it’s Maggie.
I can’t understand how she’s not a pile of ashes on the porch. I watched Aaron’s bolt hit her. There’s no way a mortal could survive a direct celestial blast.
“Get up!” she screams, tugging my arm, snapping me from my daze.
I gain my feet just as Aaron’s retaliatory flash reaches us, but instead of incinerating us, it splinters around us as if it’s hit an invisible barrier. I feel the distinct crackle of a field that isn’t mine surrounding us.
When the lightning stops, I look into Maggie’s terrified eyes. “What did you do?”
She starts shaking and steps closer to me. “I … I don’t know.”
I look down at Aaron, who glares up at me and fades out. Hope lies crumpled on the lawn, faint tendrils of white smoke curling around her.
I pull Maggie to my shoulder. “Are you okay?”
She nods, but she’s staring past me at Hope, looking anything but okay.
“Where’s your father?” I ask.
His voice is shaky as he responds. “Inside. With Grace.”
I reach out but am still unable to identify what the energy crackling around us is. It’s definitely some sort of field, but it’s not mine.
Something to do with electromagnetic fields? Daniel had mused about Maggie’s power.
He was right.
Maggie is a human Shield.
A sigh heaves my chest. It’s not just Jack and Grace. There’s much more to this family than being Nephilim.
My heart lifts and sinks all at the same time. Maggie and Grace will protect Jack in ways even I can’t. Grace can repel the nefarious, and Maggie can protect him from physical attack from both the infernal and celestial. But it means they’ve both just become soldiers in the war.
Maggie hugs me so hard I’m surprised, in my current state, that she doesn’t crack a rib or two, but I don’t let her go, and as I hold her, flooding her with peace, I feel the crackle of electricity soften and disappear as her shaking slows.
“Go inside. Find your father,” I say, guiding her gently to the door.
Once Maggie’s inside, I turn back to Hope. I kneel at her side, and for all the good it will do, I pray that it’s a celestial that comes for her. I reach for her, but her form is already becoming less substantial as she starts to fade from this plane into the netherworld. I breathe away the ache in my chest and stay with her until she evaporates like fog. When she’s gone, I kneel for a moment more before reaching for my phone and calling Ianto.
I’m just climbing into my car when the phone in my pocket vibrates. I snap it open.
“Jack’s at his grandfather’s,” John says. His voice is thick, and panic kicks hard in my chest.
“What’s wrong? Is he okay?”
His voice hardens. “Just get to Ed’s.”
I’m peeling out of the parking lot before he’s even finished the sentence. “I’m on my way.”
“I’ll meet you over there,” he says, and then he’s gone.
The drive feels like an eternity, even though it can’t be more than five minutes. I race into the driveway and my door is open before I’ve stopped.
When I see John pounding on the door, I do a double take. His arm is in a makeshift sling and his shoulder is haphazardly bandaged.
I rush up next to him, adrenaline pounding through my veins. “Why are you knocking? Just shift in there.”
“I can’t,” he snips. “There’s some kind of field.” He pounds again. “Jack!” he yells.
“Why isn’t Ed answering?”
He shakes his head. “Gray said something about him not being himself.”
“Unholy Hell,” I mutter. Panic kicks harder in my chest at the revelation that someone has managed to possess Ed and throw up a field that even John can’t penetrate. “Keep trying,” I say as I bound away from the door.
I jog around the house and peer through the family room window. The room is dark, but as I watch, a light flicks on in the corner and Ed staggers slowly toward the door. He looks drunk—or post-possession, which can knock the Hell out of a mortal. He moves from one piece of furniture to the next for support as he makes his way to the door.
I jog back to the front of the house as he approaches the door and reach the porch just as he cracks it open, leaving the chain latched.
“What do ya want?”
“Ed,” I say. “Jack’s here, and he’s in danger. Please let us in.”
His gruff scowl pulls into concern. “I told ya this mornin’. I haven’t seen him.”
I fight to stay calm. “Ed, listen to me. I know this doesn’t make any sense right now, but I’m telling you the truth. He’s here. He’s in the house.”
His eyes grow suspicious. “I’d know if he was here.”
“Please trust us.”
That’s when his suspicious eyes shift to John. “Who’s us?”
“This is John. Please let us in, Ed.”
He takes in the sling and the bloody bandages under John’s singed T-shirt. “You’re that John?” he asks, sceptical. “The angel that’s been helping Jack?”
John nods, but guilt flits over his features.
He stares a moment longer, then the door slowly closes while Ed undoes the chain. For a second, I’m not convinced he’s going to open it again and John shoots me a panicked glance, but then it swings wide and Ed stares us down a moment longer.
“He ain’t here,” he says, but he seems less adamant.
“It’s a really long story,” I say. “How are you feeling?”
He rubs his temple. “Like I’ve been hit by a truck.”
“It’ll pass,” I say as John loses patience and pushes past Ed into the house.
“Jack!” he calls just as a door in the hall opens and Jack spills out.