Ali woke up in her new room. She missed all the metal rock posters and the tiny Buddha in her old room. This room was barren. No decorations lined the walls, no sign of life. The air in it was just as dead.
She heard a knock at her door. JC Herondale walked into the room. His exercise clothes hung perfectly to his body. This was definitely the man every girl wanted. Everyone, but Ali. This man was too perfect, shiny and golden. Christian had always said she was attracted to the dark. He thought Ali needed the morose and morbid to survive. It could be true. JC Herondale would be a lot more attractive to her if he was imperfect and scarred.
He smiled at her. She covered her eyes. It was too early in the morning to be blinded by perfect white teeth. “Will’s downstairs setting the table. Breakfast is starting.” Ali picked up the alarm clock by her bed. It was one of the few pieces of decoration in the room. Of course, it also served a functional purpose. The alarm clock was lit up by a giant neon blue six. She groaned.
JC took that as invitation to walk further into her room. “Christian needs to move out of his place. Will and I cleared our schedules today.” They were already moving Christian out of his place? Boy, do they move fast. Then it hit her. Christian’s parents. They would have woken by now and known Christian was not home.
She jumped out of bed, reaching for a pair of jeans that had been laid out for her. JC watching her jump around the room in a borrowed T-shirt and batman underwear. He tossed her Will’s button up. Ali’s fingers fumbled with the buttons, so he buttoned it quickly for her. JC became surprised by her lack of reaction. She didn’t react at all to him being close to her. Instead she ran off to brush her teeth. When she was done, she ran straight out the door. JC running to catch up with her.
Ali saw Christian at the table with Will and her uncle Anthony. Today they were eating Grits. “Christian Cornelius, how can you be sitting there when your parents are already awake!” Christian’s spoon dropped from his hand. His face full of understanding. “Oh Shit.” Will put his own spoon down. “What’s the problem?” Christian jumped off the kitchen stool, grabbing his jean jacket. Ali turned to Will. “Can you drive?” He nodded, Anthony handing him a to-go bag and a set of car keys.
Christian and her ran out of the kitchen towards Sleipnir. Texas dirt was caked on her car. He saw her panic. Christian grabbed her shoulders. “We can get your car cleaned after.” Ali pinched her cheeks and took a deep breath. She could do this. The inside of Sleipnir was burning hot. Her steering wheel burning her fingers. Sleipnir roared to life and JC and Will showed up with a Ram truck from around the corner.
Normally, Ali would compliment them on the car, but today she couldn’t do that. As soon as she heard the click of Christian’s seat belt, she floored Sleipnir from zero to hundred. The Spanish Church disappearing quickly in the background. The whole ride only took ten minutes. When they drifted into the Cornelius’ driveway they were shocked to see a few cop cars, a large black truck and Christian’s parents smiling. Will’s truck slowly pulling in behind them.
All four of them got out of their cars. Christian’s mom smiling when they saw him. “Ok, maybe we did die.” Christian said. Ali nodded. There was no way that this was his actual parents. “Christian, I am so happy to hear about what you did!” His mother called out from across the driveway. Ali and him walked up towards his parents. That’s when they noticed it. The two cops were Kazimer and P’or. Well, an altered Kazimer and P’or. Ali turned to the black truck. She wasn’t shocked to see Demyon and Augustine. She was shocked to see them in priest attire.
Christian’s father Isiah smiled at his son. “I can’t believe you saved a bus full of orphans two nights ago. “ P’or and Kazimer looked at him and winked. Christian shrugged awkwardly. “It was luck of circumstances.” He pulled his son in for a hug. “Don’t be so modest, Christian. You even stayed throughout the next day to help the church.” He pushed his father away. He wasn’t the type of person to be comfortable with false achievements. “That was because Ali insisted we go all the way back with them.” Isiah Cornelius turned to Ali and for the first time in her life he smiled at her. “Thank you, Aliya. You made my son a better man today.” Deborah Cornelius forcing back a scoff. She would never like Ali.
Demyon and Augustine got out of the car. Their hands full of paperwork. “I have talked things over with Father Damian. He has agreed to offer your son a place in the Church Internship program.” said Augustine. The Corneliuses turned to Demoyn. “Really Father!” breathed his mother. Demyon nodded his head. The woman hugged him. His face turning red. “You will have to fill out this paperwork that it is ok for the boy to be in our custody for the summer.” explained Augustine. His father quickly grabbed the papers. Ali watched him smooth them out on his car and carefully sign each page.
Christian’s mother now hugging Christian. “My boy. They are going to fix you.” Christian’s face went red. They were talking about the gay thing. The thing about him they never acknowledged. He pulled away from his mother. Isiah Cornelius smiling sympathetically at his son. When the paper work was finished, Christian’s little sister Mary-Alice came running out with a suitcase. Him being gone meant she got the larger bedroom. Ali could feel his pain. The mark that was put on her yesterday throbbing. Her hand reflexively going to the mark. This is what it meant to be parabatai.
She put her hand on his. She could feel him relax. “My parents also signed me up for the internship.” Their faces immediately lost all happiness. It took them a few minutes to recover. “That’s nice, dear.” replied his mother. Ali pulled Christian to her car. “Sorry, Mrs. Cornelius. We are just so excited to go back and help the Orphans. Can we catch up another time?” The two looked at each other. They clearly wanted to say more to their son. Ali would not let them hurt him more. She pushed him into the car.
Kazimer, P’or and everyone else turned to look at them. She just nodded and started reversing the car. When Sleipnir was out of the drive way she picked up the speed. Ali knew going back to the Dallas Institute would not help him. Instead, she would take him to his favorite place, University Park. The Southern Methodist University had a nice lawn area that he enjoyed relaxing on. That would be the place to take him.
“Ali. Can we go somewhere else this time?” He whispered. She turned to Christian. The big rough rodeo man looked like he was about to burst into tears. “Sure, C. Where do you wanna go?” His hands began fumbling with his belt buckle. “Can we go back to the Dallas Institute? They have a church room.” She pulled her wheel hard to the left. The car drifting into the other lane. She switched the gears in her car and floored it. It didn’t matter if she didn’t want to go back there yet. It didn’t matter if she despised the Church. All that matter was a private church was all Christian wanted.
They arrived at the Institute before anyone else. Christian taking his time to get to the room. When they reached the doors to the altar room he stopped. “You don’t have to come in Ali.” That was her cue. She was supposed to leave him alone. She nodded and he walked into the room alone. The doors slamming shut in her face. She never knew what he said to G-d, but whatever it was, it was something that he could only say in private. She had to respect that, even if it killed her.
A few minutes passed and she heard the doors of the Institute open. Everyone making their way towards her. When JC went to ask where Christian was, Will stopped him. Most of them filing out of the hall. Augustine didn’t. “If it is ok Aliya, may I wait here instead for young Christian?” She wanted to say no. Everything in her wanted to yell at him not to be there for her Christian. But the parabatai mark made her knowledge of his feelings stronger. This is something he wanted. Ali did the opposite of what she wanted, she let him wait and she headed towards the kitchen.
It was time to explain…