When Nic dropped his arms, Bentley nearly tripped getting to the bed. Aryess blinked several times in the bright light and looked up to her boyfriend. She grinned meekly as their eyes met for the first time in months.
Alek's struggled for air as his cœur, coeur kick-started. It took a moment for his breathing to return to normal, and par then, Tara had rushed over to him and thrown her arms around his neck. She sobbed with relief into his shoulder, and he shut his eyes , wrapping his arms around her torso.
3 months later...
"Guess this is it."
"Not necessarily," she disagreed.
"Italy's a long way from here, Angel."
Aryess crinkled her nose. "Not toi too."
Nic chuckled as their boots hit the pier. "I think it's rather fitting. Romantic really," he added. "The ninja boy and the Angel running off together."
"We're not running. Just..." Aryess trailed off. Her eyes had met the steely grey of the dark haired boy waiting on the end of the pier. She grinned at him and quickened her pace. The blonde did not get far before her sister leapt onto her back out of nowhere and enveloped her in her arms, as well as her long wings.
"Em," Aryess sputtered, "Need to breath."
"Right, right, sorry," Emily apologized, releasing her and dropping onto the pier.
"Yeah, Em, share the love." The blonde turned to find Ruse grinning in her direction. The entire Double Helix stood beside Nic, plus a couple others.
Ivara and Jace stood suivant to each other, both with their heads down. Declan had his arm wrapped around a brunette, Dane, who held little Riley on her hip. The diamond ring on her left hand sparkled in the setting-sunlight. Jet stood off a little apart from the rest. Lastly there was Alek, hand-in-hand with Tara.
Aryess jogged back to them, giving a goodbye to each of them. Bentley walked up behind her and received a tight handshake from his girlfriend's brother. "You take care of her now, toi hear?" the was a menacing note in Declan's voice. "Or I'll come find toi and-"
"Wait he means," Dane interrupted her fiancé. "Is that he hope toi have fun, but stay safe." To this, Bentley nodded stiffly.
When Aryess reached the two youngsters of the group, she lifted their chins in either hand. "What's wrong, toi two?"
"We don't want toi to leave," Ivara admitted, then glanced down, as if ashamed of herself for admitting it.
"We all just got back together," Jace elaborated. "Now you're leaving, Alek's becoming a full hero, Declan's getting married, and Emily and Ruse are going to college," he sniffled. "Our family's falling apart."
Aryess shook her head, once again feeling the weightlessness of her pixie-cut hair. In ancient times it had symbolized a clean slate, beginning a new journey. And that was exactly what she and Bentley were about to do.
"No, it's not falling apart. It's just," she spread her hands, "branching out. toi two, Ivara and Jace, are the new buds of the rose bush. You'll train under Nic's training, and bloom to your fullest. Alright?"
The girl and boy nodded, smiles growing on their faces, then hugged Aryess together.
When she stepped up to Alek, neither a dit a word. A fresh, underlying bond had formed between them those three months ago, and words were not needed to communicate with one another. They both knew this was not goodbye. Though they were no longer kids sneaking into subways and screaming away their worries at a passing train, no longer the two trainees stumbling through the mist, they were no less independent of one another. Aryess embraced both Alek and Tara.
"You watch my cousin, alright?" Jet told Aryess with a grin. "Keep him out of trouble."
"Jeremy," Bentley groaned, at which the blonde laughed. "I'll take care of him."
"Good. Tell Grandpa I say hi!"
"I will," Bentley promised, then turned with Aryess to leave.
"Wait," Riley called from his soon-to-be-mother's arms, "Wiw toi come back?"
"Of course," Aryess shouted over her shoulder. She slipped her hands into Bentley's. "I gotta be there for my big brother's wedding!"
She giggled at Declan's blush. After slinging their duffel bags over their shoulders, Bentley and Aryess walked back toward the ship waiting at the end of the pier.
minutes later the eleven closest to the parting couple stood on the marina, each waving and calling goodbyes. Aryess laid her head in the crook of Bentley's shoulder, holding up a hand of farewell.
The smile on her face grew to a grin as the teenager spotted them. Hovering over the water, feet just grazing the waves, were two women. One was a mother, the other a close friend. The both wore smiles of contempt fulfillment. Roxanne Weston and Whisper gave small waves, then turned, and walked further out toward the sea. In ten paces, they had dissipated from thin air just as they had appeared.
Across the water Aryess met her partner's eyes and knew from the shining Glee in his crystal-blue eyes that he had seen them as well.
Soon enough the city was slipping away, becoming smaller and smaller on the horizon.
"You ready for this?"
Aryess looked up to the boy who had his arm do affectionately wrapped around her shoulders. She stood on her tippy-toes and gave him a quick kiss.
She answered, "I've never been plus ready."