Base Quest

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I'm coming.

Sophie figured out his precise location using her abilities. She took off running, her adrenaline spiking. Her mind guided her until she saw him, sitting on the bank of the lake. Tall plants surrounded him on either side.

"Keefe?"

"Hey, Foster. I swear I haven't been avoiding you." He tapped the ground next to him, signaling her to sit. Sophie listened.

"Do you finally want to-"

"Talk about about my memories?" Keefe finished her sentence. "I remember it all, Sophie. I remember the Black Swan, the Neverseen. I remember the countless deaths..."

"Are you okay?" Sophie placed a hand on his shoulder.

"Yes." He whispered.

"I don't think you are, Keefe." She took his hand in hers. "And that's okay."

Keefe got up, shaking his head. "Sophie, you don't understand."

"I think I would more than most people." Sophie said gently.

Keefe picked up a stone and chucked it. "My mom is a murderer. My mom is apart of a secret organization dedicated to taking us down and I'm living with her."

Sophie's heart dropped. How could she have forgotten about Gisela? How could she just leave Keefe to deal with her all alone? She began to spiral, she had so much more to worry about than she remembered.

"You want to know why I'm at the Vackers? It's because I can't go home. I can't be in the same room with her without wanting to hurt her." His hands were clenched so tightly, they were getting white.

Her face paled. "Why didn't you say something earlier? You could have lived with Edaline and Grady and-"

"No." He interrupted. "I couldn't have. Your parents don't know who I am yet. They would never. You're not even adopted yet." His words felt like a slap in the face. The harsh tone in his voice softened when he saw her face. "Sophie, it's not that big of a deal."

They both didn't say anything. Crickets and the soft sound of moving water filled the silence. Keefe's attention was occupied with his reflection in the lake.

"You're not going back there." She decided.

"You can't do anything about that. I'm staying at the Vacker's anyways."

"For how long?"

He shrugged. "However long they'll let me."

"Keefe, I-" Sophie stood up next to him. "What are we going to do?"

He pulled her into a hug, rubbing his hand up and down her back. "I don't know, Foster. I don't know."

Sophie felt her blush begin to fill her cheeks but she didn't care. She was already battling off her overwhelming emotions.

"Uhhhh... are you guys good?"

Sophie locked eyes with a clearly jealous Biana walking towards them. She tried to pull back from Keefe but he was still holding on.

"Keefe-"

"Oh! Right." He broke away and ran his hand through his hair. "What's up, B?"

"I tagged Fitz awhile ago. Now I'm seeing that my teammate is hanging out with the other team." Biana crossed her arms, clearly annoyed.

"Oh. Yeah. About that." Keefe looked at a blushing Sophie. "I needed help and Foster so graciously gave it to me. You see, there was a bug on my back and-"

"And you needed Sophie to get it off?" Biana finished for him. She wasn't buying it.

"Well, yeah of course." Keefe hooked his arm with Biana. "Do I look flexible?"

Jealousy flared in Sophie.

Biana's features softened, filling with affection for the blonde boy. "Do you want to play another round?"

Keefe and Biana walked towards her home with Sophie behind. She felt majorly like a third wheel before realizing it was because she was the third wheel.

"Do my eyes deceive me, or is that Sophie Foster?" Alden asked behind them.

"We've missed you around here," Della added, rushing over and wrapping Sophie up in her arms.

Sophie sank into the hug, swallowing the emotions rising in her chest. She hadn't seen Alden or Della since she moved to Havenfield, and she hadn't realized how much she missed them.

"So, what are you guys up to?" Della asked.

"Just playing Base Quest." Keefe replied.

A second of silence passed. Then Della came to the rescue. "So, who's staying for dinner?" She glanced at Sophie.

"Sorry. I told Edaline I'd be home. Maybe next time." She flushed when she realized she'd invited herself over.

But Biana smiled. "Sounds good."

Keefe unhooked his arm from Bianca's and leaned towards Sophie. "I could feel she definitely didn't like seeing us together." He whispered.

"Duh, she has a massive crush on you." She replied. Keefe looked shocked. "You're an empath. I know you know."

"Do you need to use the Leapmaster?" Alden asked.

"No, Grady and Edaline gave me a home crystal." She held up a long silver chain that hung to her waist. The crystal pendant only had a single facet, the path to Havenfield. They'd given it to her that morning, apologizing for not giving her one sooner.

"Don't stay away too long this time," Alden told her. "We've missed you around here."

"I've missed you guys too. I'll see you soon."

———

On Monday Biana, Keefe, Dex and Fitz sat with Sophie at lunch. Dex wouldn't look at her.

"Hey, Dex," Sophie said, trying to draw him out of his funk. "Can you come over after school today?"

He glared at Fitz before his eyes met hers. "You don't have other plans?"

"Please." She rolled her eyes. "I need you to tutor me in alchemy. I'm going to need help before midterms, and you're the best alchemist I know."

She hoped the "study session" would help him more than it would help her.

Dex straightened up at the compliment. "Sure, if you really need me."

Keefe wagged a finger at her. "Aw, don't go getting good at alchemy, Foster. Who else can we count on to destroy Lady Galvin's capes?"

"You. We can count on you." She sighed. "I'm sure you'll always find a way."

Dex's efforts to help her actually managed to increase her skills. She no longer was a beginner but somehow Dex still knew a million things she didn't.

She still knew what her final project was going to be and guilt consumed her. Was it still considered cheating when you somehow relive your life and remember everything?

She didn't want to confess for something she didn't do. She couldn't help it, could she?

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