24 - Where Flowers Blush

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24

         I finished my breakfast in silence, watching him pack up all his stuff. When he finished, he turned the rickety, poorly painted chair over and sat, resting both arms on the back of it. He placed his chin in his hands and took his turn observing me.

         “What?” I snapped, my hand coming up and wiping the corners of my mouth.

         His eyes glittered. “I let you stare at me without complaint for what, ten minutes, and I look at you for two seconds and you snap at me.” His lips were pursed in a corner, and turned up a little at the same time. He made that face whenever he was trying not to smile. Or maybe not.

         “Are you smiling like that on purpose, or are you just unable to smile any further?”

         To my surprise, he blushed. I watched as a small lump appeared in the ratty carpet. What flower will it be? After a couple of strains, there was a faint ripping sound, and three daisies popped out of the ground and pinked.

         I raised an eyebrow at Jacoby, who shook his head and wiggled his socked toes at his flowers.

         “Daisies?” I asked, eyeing the dainty little flowers.

         “Mmhmm.”

         “Why are they pink?” When Jacoby didn’t answer, I raised my gaze to him. It took me moment to realize that his blush had disappeared.

         “Hey!” I said, crumpling up the empty Tim Hortons bag. I’d just been struck with a sudden thought. “Do your flowers blush for you?”

         At my comment, the daisies turned almost fuchsia.

         I looked up at Jacoby, who was wearing a “drop it” expression. Shrugging, I left his daisies and went to pack up my stuff, though I stole glances once in a while.

         He and his flowers really did have a kind of voodoo over me; I wasn’t annoyed anymore.

         Packed and ready, we checked out of the motel and headed for the bus stop we got off at yesterday night. Or, today, at dawn.

         “Do you know what we’re looking for?” I asked, averting my gaze from the perverse smile sent my way at the entrance. I’d heard too many bad things about motels, and this one definitely fit my description of shady.

         “Remember that day at Iliadys when you first ran into my Uncle Philip? The rainbow bouncy ball?”

         “Of course.”

         He nodded and headed to the right once we cleared the motel’s lot. “He was an Illusionist, meaning—”

         “He casts illusions?”

         “Yeah. The names aren’t very creative.” He held out a hand for my sleeping bag, but I shook my head and urged him to continue explaining.

         “He cast an illusion at us. Do you remember it?” He placed his bags down on the bench and gestured for me to sit. When I did, there wasn’t room for him, so he stood rocking backwards and forwards on his heels.

         “Not really,” I said, chewing the corner of my lip. “I remember a lot of people in the illusion, but nothing besides that.”

         “He couldn’t recognize me at the time, especially because I was with you. But he saw my flowers and knew I was an Other, so he sent the illusion our way, kind of like a mental question: Did we know where the sanctuary was? The scene you saw is where all Others are headed. Rumour has it that there’s a place hidden away where Others can live in peace.” He got a faraway look in his eyes, something I’d never seen before. “Before, it was just a normal place. Others just kind of gravitated towards each other. It’s nice to hang out with someone that’s like you, y’know?”

         I smiled slightly and nodded. “I think you made that pretty obvious. But please, continue,” I said, smirking.

         He made a face at me. “So, gradually, the place attracted more and more Others. It kept growing until it became a village, I guess.”

         I held up a hand to stop him. “Wait. If it’s a village, why can’t anyone find it? Shouldn’t it be registered on a map or something? Traceable by GPS or Google Earth?” I found it a little ridiculous that this place could keep from being detected.

         “At some point, it probably was. But because of what’s happening right now, the village’s cut itself off from all outside ties. When they do leave the village, nobody tells anyone where the village is located.” A crease appeared between his eyebrows, and his hair was tossed into the air by a passing car, no doubt speeding. “I wouldn’t blame them. What if someone eavesdropped? Then the entire Other society would be screwed. No more safe place to hide.”

         I nodded slowly. “When did this tracking start? I mean, when did the, um, scientists start wanting to capture us?”

         “I don’t know their name, either,” he assured upon sensing my hesitation over the word “scientist”. The whole situation sounded ridiculous when I used it.

         “But, to answer your question, I’m not really sure. Past couple years, I think. My uncle told me that Others began cropping up about…a hundred years ago. I don’t know how it happened,” he said quickly, sensing my question. “We can assume that the hideaway appeared, what, seventy, eighty years ago? I don’t think it was called a ‘hideaway’ until recently, though.”

         I pressed my lips together and looked up and down the road. “That’s a pretty old village, isn’t it? How are we going to track it down?” I rubbed my hands up and down my arms. It was coming to the colder end of September, now. Good thing I’d remembered to pack some thicker sweaters. I zipped my bag open and popped one over my head.

         Jacoby smiled. “Good idea.”

         When he finished pulling his own sweater on, the bus rumbled into view. We boarded it, taking seats as far back as we could, and continued discussing in low whispers.

         “My uncle’s been looking around for the place since the chase started, at least ten years now. My mom calls him a nutcase, but he knew this would happen, like I said, ten years ago,” he murmured, pretty much squishing me against the window as he leaned in. “He hasn’t found anything out, and Iliadys was the last place I saw him. Maybe he made it there. But he did suggest that we find a Guider to lead us there, like what Jack said. He found one too late, though. Or maybe it was a Guider working for the other side. I’m not sure.”

         We were silent, letting the prospect sink in. We wouldn’t be able to tell who was on what side, and the thought of that scared me half to death.

(**A/N: Another choppy chapter. Short, too. Sorry, guys D: It was either choppy chapter, or massive ten-page info dump. Question of the chapter: Do you think Jasslyn and Jacoby are going to find a Guider? Why?)

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