Chapter 24

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"Are you OK?"

Evelyn snapped back into the real world, Brandon's question having mercifully shattered the winding train of thoughts running through her mind. She hadn't said much since her breakdown in the woods earlier that day, her emotions raw and unforgiving. The guilt of having potentially caused someone else harm, albeit inadvertently, still weighed on her like a lead chain wrapped tightly around her limbs.

Brandon had done what he could to help throughout the day. He had been a sympathetic ear to rant to and a shoulder to cry on, patiently staying by Evelyn's side even as her mood darkened with each passing hour. He tried to reassure her that Puck's actions couldn't possibly be her fault. He was, after all, a magical being from another world, one who was thousands of years old as far as they knew. How could Evelyn possibly hope to control someone like that?

Brandon's words were little comfort. Puck had always done whatever Evelyn told him to do, whenever she told him to do it. She didn't understand why Puck obeyed her, but the fact was he did. That meant any actions he took on Evelyn's behalf were also her responsibility. Until she had proof those actions had been completely reversed, with Jessica and Derek home safe, Evelyn doubted much of anything would lift her spirits.

"As OK as I can be I guess." Evelyn sighed, her head resting on his shoulder. They sat on her front porch, watching the sun's light fade in the sky as the smell of baked chicken wafted through the open window of the kitchen. Though they had spent most of the day together in the woods, Brandon had wisely walked Evelyn home and left before either of her parents had a chance to find them alone together once more. He had returned a few hours later and was immediately invited to dinner by an overly exuberant Becca who hoped his presence would draw Evelyn out of both her sour mood and bedroom.

Brandon pulled Evelyn tightly to his side. "Whatever I can do to be a distraction until things work out. Just let me know," he told her quietly.

"I'm not sure you can, I feel like the worst person in the world right now." Evelyn sighed.

Brandon chuckled. "Not even close," he said. "Would it make you feel any better if I told you I kind of know how you feel?"

Evelyn pulled herself out of his embrace and shot him a doubtful look. "How could you know what this feels like? You've never done anything to hurt anyone." Evelyn's guilt and sadness began to suddenly intensify, the pain of her emotions increasing like a punch to an already sore stomach. It wasn't until she really noticed the look on Brandon's face that Evelyn realized she was feeling his own emotions swelling up to match her own.

"I won't pretend to know exactly what you're going through, but I do know what I went through with my dad."

The shock was like yet another punch to the gut. Brandon had only brought his father up one other time, and what Evelyn felt from him that day told her that it wasn't a subject to be broached unless he was the one to bring it up. The fact that he did told her more about his feelings towards her than even her powers could divulge. "What happened with him?" she asked hesitantly.

"Well, I told you that he killed someone in front of me, and that's why I was taken away. Obviously that's just the end of the story. It's a horrible ending, I know, but it is the end. Things didn't start off that bad with him, and it's not like one night he just snapped. It was a slow breakdown, kind of like watching a zombie movie in slow motion." Brandon paused and rubbed his eyes, trying hard to keep back tears.

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