Marina had found me. How on Earth... Well, I'm sure it wasn't too hard for her- she's much better with technology than I ever was. She ran towards me, hitting Niccolo with her bow (why she had brought it with her, I wasn't sure). He stumbled and fell- why he hadn't just sidestepped it, I wasn't sure either- and then she started yelling and cursing like a sailor. I didn't even have an idea of what was going on- how could I have possibly explained it to her? So I just stood there silently. She smacked me upside the head. I was used to it, though- I didn't react. Then she hit Rosa's shoulder with her bow, and I couldn't help wonder if that was bad for it.
My eyes flitted in Niccolo's direction for a moment, but he was gone. Probably hiding. Rule number one: always observe an enemy before attacking. And while Marina was obviously not an enemy- he had seen her before, after all, although she had never seen him- but in his mind, Rosa probably was. And the entire situation had far too many variables for his liking, I was sure.
Marina finally finished yelling, and for a moment, it was as if I had been dreaming and suddently rocketed back to Earth. She was my best mortal friend- she didn't know about magic. No one had done any yet, but if she stuck around much longer she was sure to find out. I grabbed her shoulder and quickly pulled her off the bridge. Rosa tried to follow, but I gave her my most intense death glare and she stopped in her tracks, making this face like a sad, guilty puppy that had been slapped.
"You shouldn't be here," I said in a hushed tone once Marina and I were out of earshot. "Why did you come?"
Marina gave me her 'are you serious' look. "I have been trying to call you for the last 5 weeks- what am I supposed to do, wait around? I was pissed enough that you were leaving all summer. The deal was you would call once a day and I haven't heard from you since you left."
"I've been a little..." Scenes flashed in my head of everything I had done all summer- the criminals I'd hunted down and all the time spent sparring with Niccolo, then all the madness once I found out about Mevolent- the long hours when Mevolent cut into, crushed, and seared his way into my body, that girl who had nearly killed me with laughter, Niccolo bringing me back... Rescuing the Grand Mage, then killing everyone I cared about- the light leaving Niccolo's eyes, the screams of my parents and little brother, everything that happened from then until now, echoing in my mind. Best not to explain all that.
"Busy." I finished simply, "I'm sorry I've been out of contact for so long, it's just been so crazy- we might make a huge breakthrough soon, but things are getting more complicated- one mistake could ruin everything we've done so far. I've been completely out of contact with the outside world," I lied. That would explain why I wasn't torn up about my family's death. Actually, why wasn't I torn up about it? Oh, right, I wasn't thinking about it. Tears gathered in my eyes. "We've put so much work into this," I said, providing an explanation for the tears that weren't falling, because I was making myself forget again, "I just couldn't stand losing all of it, you know?"
Marina sighed. "I'm not dumb, you know. I know you know about your parents, I see it in your eyes. You would have picked up the phone, even if you were busy. I know you, you can't turn down a phonecall from me for your life. Something else is going on."
Well, I wasn't surprised she had figured it out- she knew me better than anyone else, after all- except maybe Niccolo. And then, right on cue, he jumped out of a tree and landed lightly on the ground, walking up behind me.
"You're right, she certainly hasn't told you everything. In fact, she's told you almost nothing," He said smoothly, with that dark chocolate voice of his. "So much has happened," He continued, looking at me with something in his dark eyes that I couldn't place, "But let's start from the beginnng." He adressed Marina. "Magic exists," My eyes widened in shock. So it was the direct approach again. I hoped he knew what he was doing. "And your friend is a big part of it."
Marina gave him her death look. "I don't know who you are Mr. Pale Man, but I hate you. I'm talking to my best friend and I really don't give a **** what you have to say. Now, go take your d-baggery somewhere else before I really kill you."
He laughed lightly at her threat. "I'm sure you would, if you could. However, you cannot. And I'd rather spare her the memories that would resurface from explaining this to you, so you'll have to settle for my version of the story."
"Marina, just listen- he'll tell you everything you need to know. I'll go deal with Rosa." I said, and before she had a chance to protest, I ran back to the bridge where Rosa was still standing.
"I'm sorry, I know that was really sudden and everything, I just-"
"I don't care what you were thinking. That was completely unacceptable." I cut her off, scolding her harshly, as though she was a mischevious child.
"But he tried to attack you! He kidnapped you! He even bound your magic! I was just trying to help - at least let me take the handcuffs off!"
"No!" I said quickly, shoving my hands into the pockets of my jacket. "What I do is none of your business, and I don't want your help. Go away, Rosa."
"But..." She begged softly, "I want to help you... I love you...."
Be careful- she's with Mevolent, I heard Niccolo whisper in my head. I pulled my right hand out of my pocket and sent a hook punch to the side of her jaw- only to stop short just before I made contact.
Rosa stared at me, looking hurt for a moment, then smiled. "Oops," she said, "Looks like binding your magic doesn't work as well as you thought."