Tristan sat silently as they drove and drove, just waiting to reach their destination already. The sooner they did, the sooner he got to see her. He tried to keep his mind busy by thinking of things other than just how long the stupid drive was taking. Knowing them, they were likely taking whatever long route there was just to spite him. He wasn’t going to say anything about it though. They probably wanted him to, just to know that they were getting under his skin. Even when one made a comment to him, he kept his mouth shut. They could say whatever the hell they wanted to to him; as long as he got to go where they were suppose to take him, he would be good.
It seemed like hours in the car, just driving and driving. Was she really that far away? It wasn’t helping that he couldn’t see a single thing through the bag they put over his face. But still, he remained quiet. And eventually, the car came to a halt, and his heartbeat picked up. Were they finally there? Grabbing a hold of Tristan, they pulled him out of the car and began to walk him forward. He didn’t like having to trust them to be his eyes, but there wasn’t much he could do about it. After some maneuvering (and what he figured was intentional collisions with particularly sharp things), he heard the sound of a door opening, and he was ushered inside. Only then, did they begin to untie his hands and pull the bag off of his head.
Tristan squinted his eyes against the bright light of the little room. Was this where she had been staying? It looked… homey. Aside from the initial brightness of everything, it looked cozy and inviting. With bright yellow walls and fairly plush looking furniture, he was taken back by just how nice it seemed. But at the same time, he was glad for it. She was living comfortably. Which meant things were too bad for her, were they? He just wanted her to be safe. “Stay here.” one of the men who had taken him, he quickly identified as Sean, walked down the hallway. He stood there anxiously, a giant grin stretching over his face at the sight of a little girl running towards him.
“Tristan!” his eight year old little sister called out, nearly crashing into him in a hug. He leaned down and picked her up in his arms easily, holding her in a tight hug. “Happy birthday Bri.” Tristan kissed the side of her head gingerly, happy just to see her again. It had been months since he’d even been allowed to speak to his baby sister, and now he got to see her again. He knew their mother would be so happy to know that she was okay. He would have to call her as soon as he got back to Olympus. “I missed you.” she spoke happily, grinning right back at him as she did so. “I missed you too munchkin.” He missed her more than anything in the world.
”Where’s mommy?” Brianna asked, and his face fell just a bit as he set her back down on the ground. “Mom couldn’t make it today. But she told me to tell you happy birthday and that she loves and misses you so much.” Tristan had tried, to get them to allow their mother to come too, but they hadn’t gone for it. It was him or none, and he wasn’t going to pass up getting to see her again. “Now, what do you want to do for your birthday?” he tried to cheer her up, another grin spreading across her face. She smiled back at him before grabbing a hold of his hand and pulling him over to one of the couches. “We’re going to have a movie day with Sarah! And then she said we can have cake and ice cream.” Brianna beamed up at him, clearly happy with the idea.
“She wants to watch the Disney Princess films.” a soft voice came from down the hall, and Tristan immediately looked up to find his cousin standing in the door frame of the hallway. His face immediately fell flat at the sight of her, and she tried to smile at him. “Sarah.” he acknowledged her presence with a nod before turning back to his baby sister. He wanted nothing to do with her. “Which one do you want to put in first?” he questioned Brianna, ignoring the fact that Sarah had come and sat down on the opposite side of her. “The Little Mermaid’s my favorite.” She said, handing him the DVD. Tristan smiled and quickly agreed to put it in, returning to his seat promptly after as it began to play.
Tristan grabbed his over jacket, throwing it over his shoulders as he stepped outside of his room and into the hallway. He kept his head low and moved quickly, hoping no one would call out to him or really even notice him at all. Tristan didn’t have time for all of them; not now, not today. He had to get going. It wasn’t likely anyone would miss him anyway, and he would only be gone for a couple of hours… just a couple of hours. The thought saddened him. But he would take any time he could get, and not complain about it. Tristan was lucky to even have it at all. He had to go through hell to get what little amount he had, and make agreements he wasn’t even sure he could keep. But it would all be worth it, in the end. Nothing would be too much of a price to pay.
It was late afternoon as he crossed the Campus grounds, trying to seem as inconspicuous as possible. He hoped he was a better actor than he was liar. Tristan tried to make himself as invisible as possible among the students on the ground as he tried to casually walk away from the school buildings. If he could just slip away without being noticed… Hell, even if someone did notice him, he’d continue going. He couldn’t afford not to. But luck was on his side for once, or at least how it seemed to him, and he was able to seemingly get out without being noticed. No car; it wasn’t like he had one to drive anyway. But he’d been given specific instructions to walk. So that was what he was doing. Tristan didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize his agreement. He would never forgive himself for it.
A good fifteen minutes later, he found himself standing out on the edge of the town, scanning the area. Where had they said exactly? He began to walk down the street again, looking around for the street name he had been told before. It was near the end of town, he knew that. He just wasn’t sure which side it was on. But considering one way seemed to only lead to the school, he had a good suspicion it was at the other end. It took him another five minutes to cut through the inside of the tiny town, trying to take the most direct root as possible. They said four thirty, but he was anxious and had left early. It would drive him insane until he left if he had tried to stay.
Tristan came to a stop when he neared the end of the small town, looking around for where they had instructed he’d go. He was certain there was an equivalent of a lost puppy look on his face as he did so, though there was little he could do about it. It was… a bus stop he was suppose to be at, right? Where was that? He wandered around from end to end, looking for it. Time was ticking. He had to get there or else he might miss his chance. It was a good thing he had left early indeed. Finally, he managed to find what looked like a bus stop to him and went over to it, praying he was right. Much to his relief, it was, and with five minutes to spare. Now he just had to wait. It was the longest five minutes of his life.
And then past it, no one showed up. He looked around anxiously, tapping his foot against the pavement. Tristan couldn’t help it. He wanted this too bad. Letting out a sigh he turned around to look in the opposite direction, only to find himself being grabbed from behind a moment later. Quickly he was tossed inside the backseat of a car, and the others climbed inside with him. In what seemed like less than five seconds, there was a bag over his head and his arms were pinned and tied behind his back as the car began to drive away. And he let it happen.
…. Tristan?!? TRISTAN!!!
What the fu- What are you doing here?! God I haven’t seen you since you were twelve! Since Matt-… MATT! Wait, does he know you’re here?!? Have you seen him recently!? He’s missed you like crazy!
Matt was gone. His best friend since kindergarten. He had just packed up and left, without saying a word. To him, or to anyone else. To say he didn’t understand it was an understatement. They always told each other everything, or at least, they used to. Before everything happened the previous year and Tristan began to keep the biggest secret of his life, albeit unwillingly. Did Matt have his own secrets too that he thought he couldn’t share with Tristan? It hurt to think about, and he realized how it must have been for Matt whenever he suspected there was something more he wasn’t telling him. And god, Tristan was a horrible liar. The only way he got around it was by deflection. Point him in the direction of something else going on in his life. Maybe Matt had done the same thing to him.
Why wouldn’t he say goodbye to him though? Hell, they grew up two blocks apart. Tristan could catch a plane home and show up on his doorstep, demanding answers easily, and Matt knew that. It didn’t make sense to him. Tristan knew deep down that he had his reasons, just like everyone did for keeping secrets. He would come back eventually… he had to. The school was a requirement. And when he was back, he could tell Tristan just exactly what had happened to make him up and leave like he had. Matt had a good reason for his actions; Tristan knew he did. He refused to believe anything otherwise. Because that wasn’t who his best friend was. Matt was always considerate of other people and their feelings, especially when they were close. It had to be something huge for him to change his behavior like that.
As much as Tristan was upset by the news, he knew of someone else who would be even more. Charlie. Matt’s sister. Had she gotten a goodbye from him? For her sake, he hoped so. After everything she had lost recently, a brother wasn’t something that needed to be added to the list. Maybe he told her why he was going, and she knew what had happened. It was a hope that Tristan was holding onto as he left Hemera and made his way over to Aether to check on her. She had to be hurting, whether he explained himself or not. Matt being gone wasn’t going to be easy on any of his friends, but especially not his sister. They had such a close bond. He wasn’t sure they had spent more than a few days without communicating somehow ever since they’d met each other back when they first arrived at Olympus.
It didn’t take long to get someone to let him into the Aether building, and soon enough, Tristan found himself standing in front of Charlie’s dorm room; the one that she shared with Abby, Matt’s (he supposed ex now) girlfriend. Tristan grimaced at the thought. He knew Matt loved her, and she loved him. He hoped she was doing okay. He had left her too, after all. But unlike Charlie, he didn’t have the faintest idea on how to comfort her. And he wasn’t sure she would even want it either. Hesitantly, he lifted his hand and began to knock on the door. Slightly harder again when no one answered the door, or even responded to it, a moment later. Maybe they were both out at the moment. But Tristan just had a feeling… a horrible feeling in his stomach, that wasn’t willing to leave. He had to check. Just to make sure they were okay.
Jiggling the doorknob, he was surprised to find it was unlocked. That wasn’t necessarily safe. Then again, it was Aether. Aether and Hemera were probably the only houses that could get away with leaving them unlocked without fear of something happening… Or maybe just Aether. Sure, Hemera were kindhearted people, but they also had a penchant for pulling tricks on each other. Harmless, innocent fun, but enough to make someone perhaps a bit wary of what was waiting for them when they came back if they left it open for intruders.
“Charlie? Abby?” he called out, stepping inside the room. No, it didn’t seem like anyone was there. Still, he had to look, just for the sake of it. He called out their names once more, again receiving no response. Making his way over in the direction of Charlie’s room, he hesitantly reached out and pushed open the door. “Charlie?” He spoke much softer; more of a whisper, that time. Looking inside the room, he was confronted with the sight of a very not okay looking Charlie laying on her bed. “Charlie?!” his voice came out high and frantic as he hurried over to her side. Grabbing a hold of her arms, Tristan tried to shake her awake. Gently at first, then harder when she didn’t respond. “Charlie!” She couldn’t be gone. No, she couldn’t. And she wasn’t, he realized with relief after he panickingly checked her pulse. It was still there. But it was faint. She needed to get help.
Tristan could try. His gift was to heal after all. But that would take too long. She needed immediate medical attention. He had to get her to the infirmary. Picking her up in his arms, he shook her one last time, trying to get some sort of response from her. “Hold on Charlie.” it was practically a plead as he began to move quickly out of the room with her and to the infirmary. Tristan couldn’t move fast enough. He felt like every second longer it took him to get her there, she was ten times closer to being gone from good. By the time he made it out of the building, Tristan was in a sprint, not stopping until he made it to inside the infirmary. “Help! I need help over here!” he called out, desperate for someone, anyone to save her.
A few of the assistants immediately came forward and took her from his arms, going to do gods know what to bring Charlie back to them. As long as she didn’t die. She couldn’t go. He couldn’t lose her. Will, Abby, Ariana and all of her other friends couldn’t lose her. Tabitha couldn’t lose her mother. Charlie was still needed. She was still loved, and Tristan would be damned if he let go of her that easily.