~joan~

We buried Garth and Tessa’s bodies, and I really broke down and cried. I found myself wishing for someone to comfort me, someone whose arms could encircle me and give me his strength. I found myself wishing for Jason, which was a little bit messed up, considering that I half-blamed him for their deaths. Still. I felt very alone, especially since I’d had to spend the last night alone in the attic room that Tessa and I had shared.

As near as I could piece together, my relationship with Jason had been one of intensity and fierce passion. I’d loved him, and then I’d hated him. I’d fought to save him, and then I’d tried to kill him. Considering the way I felt about him now, I completely understood why this had happened. I knew I should be angry with Jason. I was angry with him. But I also felt crushed by the fact that he’d rejected me. He got to decide that we wouldn’t be in a relationship for my own good? Why didn’t I get to decide this for myself?

It was good that Jason was taking responsibility for his actions and trying to right his wrongs. He’d let all the prisoners under the guards’ quarters go. Many of them left Jasontown. Jason had been encouraging everyone else to leave as well, but the strange thing was that not many of them were leaving. They noticed that they felt different now, that the world was not a shiny bliss bubble anymore. But when they talked about leaving, they said that they were still happier close to Jason than they had been in their entire life, and that Jasontown, despite its problems, was their home. I thought Jason should understand that everything he’d done hadn’t been all bad. He’d made mistakes, but he’d also inspired people. I wanted him to realize that. I didn’t want him to drown in guilt. He couldn’t move forward if all he did was blame himself.

I also wanted to tell him that it wasn’t fair for him to end things between us. I should have a say in it too, since the only reason he was doing it was for my benefit. I knew he still loved me. It felt like there was an aching gap in my heart, where Jason should have been. Everything seemed unfinished.

So that evening, I decided I’d go to Jason’s house, find him, and tell him what I thought. I needed to get it out.

His door was unlocked, as usual, so I let myself in. Inside, his house seemed quiet and empty. Jason had to be there, though, because I hadn’t seen him anywhere else that day. Standing inside the doorway, I wasn’t sure where to look first. Should I go upstairs to the bedroom or search the rest of the bottom floor? I could already see that he wasn’t in his living room.

Then I heard the low rumble of voices, coming from the den adjacent to the living room. Someone was with him? Was it one of his guards? Maybe I should come back.

But I wanted to talk to him, and maybe if he saw me, he’d stop his conversation with the guards. I crept closer to the den until the voices got louder, and I could understand what they were saying.

“…glad you let me speak to you,” said a low male voice in a British accent. Edgar Weem! Jason was talking to Edgar Weem.

I didn’t want to interrupt what might be a heart-to-heart between father and son, so I flattened myself against the wall outside the doorway and listened. Maybe I shouldn’t have eavesdropped, but I was curious as to what they were saying. I was very, very curious about Jason’s past.

Jason was talking. “This doesn’t mean we’re going to have some kind of wonderful relationship now. I don’t know if we could ever have anything like that. I’m only hearing you out because I’ve made some pretty big mistakes too. And I thought it was only fair to give you a chance to talk to me.”

“I am sorry,” said Edgar. “I know how difficult I’ve made things for you. If there was some way that I could change it, I would.”

“But you can’t.” Jason didn’t sound accusatory. He was just stating a fact. Something that he’d had to come to terms with as well.

“No,” said Edgar. “And I don’t know if I can make it right either.”

“I know how you feel,” Jason said. “I feel that way too.”

“I came here because I wanted to convince you to really use your power to unite the world,” said Edgar. “There are people all over Europe who are craving you. I thought that you could step up and be the Rising Sun.”

“You must realize now that I don’t think that’s a good idea,” said Jason. “I don’t think I can trust myself with that much responsibility.”

“But you have the power,” said Edgar. “You must assume the responsibility. The world needs you.”

“No,” Jason said. “I don’t think they do.” He was different now. He wasn’t confident anymore. He knew his limitations. Somehow, I liked it better.

“Perhaps if Azazel were working with you?” said Edgar. “Perhaps you’d feel more in control then?”

“No, that’s the worst idea ever,” said Jason. “I’m worse around her. She makes me insane. I care too much about her.” That hurt me, for some reason. I didn’t want to do that to Jason. I wanted us to be together, like Edgar had said.

“I don’t know if you can care too much for someone,” said Edgar. “Maybe the truth is that you have never cared for her unselfishly. Maybe you’ve always been close to her so that she could help you, not so that you could help each other.”

Jason laughed darkly. “That might be true. But what do you know about relationships, anyway? Should I look to the shining example of you and my mother?”

There was silence for a few moments. Then Edgar finally said, “I was worried about my reputation at the Sons. So I abandoned her. She wasn’t completely sane when I left her, but she really did get much worse when I was gone. I think that whatever happens with you and Azazel, you are both stronger together than apart.”

“I don’t want to be strong,” said Jason. “Not anymore. I only want to stop hurting people. Anyway, it would be the height of selfishness to stay with Azazel when she doesn’t ever have her memories. I’m taking advantage of her. If she remembered everything, she’d hate me again.”

“She has amnesia, Jason, not damage to her brain.”

“I know that. But she needs her memories back. When you arrived here, you said you knew your way around magic. I wondered if there was any way that you could restore her powers and her memories. Do you know of a way?”

Weem sighed. “It’s possible that I could do it. But there are things I’d have to determine first. We know that her powers were stripped from her magically, but we don’t know what happened to her memories. Did she simply block them out in the trauma of the event or were they extracted from her as well?”

“You could figure that out?”

“I think so. Of course, if they are gone because of trauma, I’ll be of no use. Sometimes, in cases of amnesia, as I’m sure you’re aware, such things are simply lost. Sometimes they come back of their own accord. But if they were taken from her and transferred the way her power was, then I might be able to restore them.”

Did I want Edgar to restore my memories and my powers? Did I want to know all the horrible things I’d done? Did I want to have the power to force people to kill again? I guessed that I wanted to be whole, even if it meant facing the darkness of my past. But the thought frightened me. And I was a little bit annoyed that Jason was doing all of this without my consent too. I wondered if I should show myself.

I didn’t. I didn’t want to argue with Jason about it yet.

“So, what do you need to do?” Jason asked.

“I’ll need to create a small potion, I think,” said Edgar.

“A potion? Like a Harry Potter thing?”

Edgar chuckled. “Oh, Jason, I seem to always forget that you were exposed to such a narrow aspect of the Sons. Only the crude manner of the Brothers, with their fighting and guns. I had planned, when you were older, to make sure you were instructed in magic, but—”

“But I ran away,” said Jason.

“Precisely,” said Edgar. “At any rate, it’s nothing so complicated as all that. I only need a few herbs in my bag and some blessed oil.”

I listened to the faint scuffle in the room as Edgar gathered his materials. Perhaps I should show myself now. But I didn’t. I waited to find out where my memories were. After several minutes, I heard Edgar begin to chant in a foreign language. The words were guttural and low-pitched. He nearly sang them, like a Gregorian chant or something.

Then Edgar gasped. “Her powers and memories are together. They are with another, someone close by. An hour’s journey by car perhaps.”

“Can you get them back?” Jason asked.

“Not this way,” Edgar said. “They are bound deeply to another person. I would need them both to be present to make the transfer.”

“So we go there,” said Jason. “To the OF to confront Kieran.”

“Oh, he’s not at the OF,” said Edgar. “He’s in the opposite direction of Washington. The OF—”

Edgar broke off and made a strangled noise.

“What?” Jason said.

There was no answer from Edgar, only gurgles and groaning.

I couldn’t stop myself. I ran into the room. “Is he okay?”

Jason looked startled at the sight of me. “What are you doing here?”

Edgar was convulsing in his easy chair, his eyes rolling back in his skull. “So much power,” he moaned. “So much anger.” He sat up straight, clutching the arms of the chair and his eyes bored into Jason and me. “They’re coming.” And then he slumped over.

“Who’s coming?” I said, running to Edgar.

He sat up slowly, looking dazed. “It’s that Cameron boy from before. He’s mobilized all of the resources of the OF, and he’s headed straight for Jasontown. You must stop him, Jason. He’s dangerous.”

***

~joan~

Jason slammed the front door, and stalked into the living room. “The idiots won’t leave,” he muttered.

I had been sitting on one of the couches waiting for him.

He noticed me. “What are you doing here?”

“I wanted to talk to you,” I said.

“You should leave,” he said, and swept out of the room.

I followed him as he pounded up the stairs. “I’m not leaving until I get a chance to talk to you.”

He paused as he headed into the bedroom, his hand on the doorknob, and faced me. “Azazel, if you stay here, you’re going to get killed.”

“Call me Joan,” I said.

He let out a sigh of frustration. “What does it matter?”

“I’m not her. I know you want to make me into her again. That’s why you asked Edgar to find my powers. But I’m not her. I’m me. And it’s not fair to do that without asking me about it, at least.”

Jason looked completely flabbergasted. “You don’t want your memories back?”

Now that was a hard question to answer. “I don’t know. Lots of things are confusing right now. Why do you want me to get it all back? I mean, if I was really so angry with you, aren’t you afraid I’ll kill you the minute I remember everything?”

Jason shrugged. “If you did, that wouldn’t be a big loss to the world, would it?”

“Jason!” I was shocked. “I don’t want you dead.”

“No one does,” he said, sounding annoyed. “I just spent twenty minutes trying to convince the people of Jasontown to get out before Cameron and the OF show up here. They don’t want to go. They’re all gung-ho about staying and fighting. I don’t want anyone else to die on my account.”

“Right,” I said. “And if no one else is here, I guess you could let them do whatever they wanted to you. You have some kind of death wish, don’t you?”

“You forget that you’re the only one who can kill me. I don’t have a death wish.” He sucked air through his nose and raised his gaze to the ceiling. “But maybe I do deserve to suffer a little. Maybe if I were punished, it would be easier to deal with all this guilt I feel.”

“Didn’t you do all the things you did because you were suffering?” I asked. “Wasn’t that why you hurt people? Because you were in pain?”

He glared at me. “Get out of here, okay? Leave Jasontown. I really couldn’t deal with it if something happened to you.”

“No,” I said. “I think I can help. When that guy attacked me, I was pretty okay with a gun. It was like muscle memory or something. I think you should let me help you fight the OF.”

“Maybe I don’t want to fight them. Isn’t that what you’ve been saying?”

“Cameron wants me dead anyway,” I said. “He’ll find me and hurt me anyway. I’d rather face him here. And I’d rather be with you. You confuse the hell out of me, Jason, but what I feel for you is powerful, and I can’t ignore it.”

He sagged against the doorframe. “Don’t.”

“Don’t what?”

“Don’t make it harder for me than it already is. It’s wrong for you to be with me. Don’t try to convince me of anything different.”

“But why not? And why do you get to decide? I know you still care about me.”

“It’s not about that. It’s about the things I’ve done in the past to you. I don’t deserve you.”

“I don’t think people usually get what they deserve, do they? The world doesn’t work like that, does it?”

“Az—” He broke off. “Joan, I can’t.”

“You aren’t using your powers against me. I’m free to make my own decisions.”

He shook his head. “No.”

I reached for him. “Please.”

He pulled away from me.

“There you two are,” said Edgar Weem, who was coming up the steps.

Damn him for interrupting, just when I felt like I was getting somewhere.

But Jason seemed relieved. “What can we do for you?”

Edgar held up a large plastic bag full of green leaves.

Jason made a face. “I hardly think now is the time to start experimenting with drugs.”

“No,” said Edgar, giving Jason a withering look, “this is an herb that I’ve blessed. I was lucky enough to find a large quantity of it growing in the woods behind Jasontown. When ingested, it has the ability to block magical powers. It will help keep you from being influenced by Cameron. I’ll explain how to bless it if you like. We could find more and give it to everyone who’ll be fighting tomorrow.”

Jason considered. “Well, I guess that would increase our odds.”

Edgar nodded.

Jason sighed. “Okay, Joan, I’ll give this a fighting shot. We’ll do what we can to try to beat Cameron. I won’t try to punish myself or whatever.” He turned to Edgar. “And after this is all over, you’ll help me get back Azazel’s powers and memories.” Back to me. “If you still feel like staying after you get your memories back, we’ll talk then. But not until.”

I rolled my eyes at him. If he was right, then I might hate him as soon as I remembered everything. I didn’t want to hate Jason. I really didn’t.

This book is being posted on Mondays and Thursdays between 7/4/2011 and 9/5/2011. To access other chapters, check out the Between Posts Archive, here.