Chapter 2.12: And then there were three

I was so proud of myself since I knew it was now only a matter of time until Tiber’s punishment was raised with a couple of years and Heliotrope would join his cousin in jail. The investigation me and Cinnamon had done would lead to exactly that, the police had promised us. Since we had a recording of Heliotrope admitting the murder of Affair, it would be impossible for any lawyer to get him to walk free. Justice, at last. I was eager to tell Oceana the great news and I hurried home, hoping she would be there.

Screenshot-806I found her in the bathroom, door unlocked. She looked sad, almost depressed. “Is everything alright?” I wondered, wanting to make sure nothing had happened in my abscense. The good news could wait another moment.

“No, it’s not alright” she replied and turned to look at me. A pearl of sweat was rolling down her forehead.

Screenshot-837“Anything particular?” I asked, thinking it could possibly be the same worry she had been plagued with for the last months. She shook her head, a sign she didn’t want to talk about it. I put my hand on her upperarm and smiled, “Okay, but listen, I have great news!”

A slight smile formed on her face, “What’s that?”

“We finally found a way to tie Tiber and Heliotrope to the murder of Affair. It’s waterproof, they’ll both be convicted for it!” I could barely contain my excitement, but the reaction from Oceana was far from what I had expected:

Screenshot-805*Blllerrrrgh*

I looked away to not embarrass her and once she stood up again she looked at me, “You did what?”

I wasn’t sure if she was happy, angry or just modest, but I tried to transfer some of my own excitement through encouraging words, “It’s true! Your safe! They’ll both get long punishments and you’ll be free. They won’t be able to hurt you!”

I told her the complete story of what had happened this very day and once I was done she turned her back on me and covered her face in her hands, it almost looked like she was crying, but she couldn’t be, right? “I can’t believe you did such a thing” she eventually said and it hurt. After everything I did for her, she thanked me like that?

“Don’t you get it Sunny? It doesn’t matter if they’re in prison or not. There’s always someone else to do their work. If we fight them, it’ll only get worse. Don’t you understand? They’re powerful. Mighty powerful.”

Screenshot-838“B-but they’ll be behind bars” I stammered. If this wasn’t enough for her to feel safe, I had no idea what was. What else could I do?

“And that’ll make them hate you, us, even more. I can’t believe you did this…” she was definitely crying now and I felt my own anger rising. Way to be thankful! I didn’t know what to say, so I left her in the bathroom. Tears was welling up in my own eyes, why couldn’t she just be thankful? Didn’t she know I had risked my life for her?

Screenshot-833I hid in the nursery, not knowing whether I should be angry or sad, or keep being happy for the success in the Affair-case. It was confusing, that was what it was.

Screenshot-836After some time, mom came in and sat down on the toy box in front of me, “Don’t be so hard on her” she said and looked at me. “Or on yourself. You did what you thought was right, and I’m glad Affair finally could have some justice. But Oceana, she… She has reasons to worry. You should talk to her instead of hiding.”

I watched my mother leave the room again. Always so wise. I couldn’t imagine that there would eventually be a day when she was no longer around. She was my guiding star and had always been.

Screenshot-722“Sunny!” Oceana looked happier when I got out in the livingroom again and I wondered if maybe mom had talked to her as well. I walked up in front of her, waiting for her to explain herself. She surprised me again, “I’m pregnant.” The first syllables were said in a happy tone but the last ones were more like a deep sigh. I think her actual uttering explained exactly how she felt about the entire situation.

“Pregnant?” I asked, even though I was certain I had heard the last time. Oceana nodded.

She. Was. Pregnant.

“I’m becoming a father?” The question was silly because I obviously were, but it was still hard to wrap my brain around it.

Screenshot-721No one bothered to answer my question and mom came swooping Oceana under her wings, turning her back against me. It was obvious that they wanted to bond like women, and that I had no place in their little conversation. “Look, here’s Sundance as a little baby. Look at those chubby cheeks!” Mom pulled out the baby pictures and within an instant she and Oceana was wrapped up in a conversation about babies, diapers and well… me. I felt extremely left out and went to do what I always did when I needed to think, I cooked.

Screenshot-719Screenshot-720I heard them babble on behind my back and I tried to not feel too left out. Ater all, there were things in a pregnancy that I couldn’t know a squat about. And to be honest, it seemed to brighten Oceana’s mood up, and that was probably for the better.

They were truly bonding, and I was happy for that. Mom had been wishing for more grandchildren ever since Spindle was born and I knew it was like a dream coming true for her knowing that Oceana was pregnant.

Screenshot-817Oceana herself had more mixed thoughts about the whole thing, I could tell. She put on a happy face in front of my mother, but I knew since before that she was scared of having kids. Not because she would become a mother, but because she was constantly worried that someone should harm her or me, and having to worry for a kid on top of that would simply be too much.

“It’ll be fine” I promised and smiled. I myself was happy as a clam. I would have a baby. A baby.

Screenshot-816“It’s not fine!” Oceana snorted. Stop saying it’s fine when it isn’t!”

Moodswings. I had read about them but it didn’t mean they were easy to tackle. “I think it will be fine” I said again.

“In that case you’re stupid” Oceana muttered and turned her eyes towards the TV, avoiding my face.

Screenshot-814“Well, you certainly seem happy around my mother. Maybe you two should raise the kids then!” I suddenly snapped. I don’t know where it came from, but I had finally had it!

Oceana softened up and looked at me, “Because she doesn’t know me like you do. It’s her dream, Sunny! But you know I can’t do it. I can be myself with you. No pretending, just plain old me.”

Oh, wasn’t she one with the words in her mouth.

Screenshot-819

Screenshot-840It was a grey and cold evening when the new election was taking place. The raindrops bounced off the asphalt like bouncy balls and only the bravest berry would ever dare to leave the comfort of their house. Now, the supporters of Spectrum were obviously among those brave ones since we all defied the weather and gathered at The Blank Slate to hold our election night watch party. We had never been as close to a victory as we were this particular night. There was a hopeful atmosphere vibrating at the place.

Screenshot-839My friends were all walking around with happy, yet anxious, smiles on their faces. Oceana was huge, looking as if she was about to pop any day now. Mithos was the happiest of us all, the proud smile was pretty much glued to his face as he mingled around, making sure everyone was having a nice time.

“You ready to rule the town then?” I asked Mithos when he came up to me.

“Don’t jinx it!” He replied in a serious tone, although his eyes were still smiling. I had a good feeling about this election.

Screenshot-842We all knew the first hour of counted votes wouldn’t make or break anything so to ease our nerves we danced. It made time fly, and we sure needed that. We were all so anxious about the results. If we didn’t win this time, we would never win. The circumstances couldn’t possibly be any better than they were at this very moment.

Screenshot-841Dad was trying to do some maths in his head. Somehow he was sure that he could calculate the final scores if he just thought hard enough. It was a hard thing to accept, but he was getting older and older and with that, more and more confused. Poor thing.

Screenshot-844When the votes were closing in to be all counted, we had a 4 percent lead on Mayor Bloom’s replacement assistance. It was a good lead, but nothing was secured yet. Quince decided to lower the music and raise the volume of the big screen hanging in the middle of the room. Everybody in the pub when silent and held their thumbs so hard that their knuckles turned white.

It was nerv-wrecking, really.

Our lead grew to 6 percent.

Shrunk to 5 again.

And then suddenly took a leap up to 7.

Screenshot-847That was when the pub exploded in a unison HOORAY. We had done it, we had finally conquered over the racism. Spectrum would from this day on, rule the town for a couple of years. The music pumped on and everyone started hugging each other and sharing high-fives. It was the most fantastic experience I had ever had.

Screenshot-850Mithos, was of course, the happiest of us all. Mayor Spring.

The party continued for several hours and it was  f a n t a s t i c.

Screenshot-821When the party finally ended over at The Blank Slate we were extremely excited about the sudden success that sleep would be impossible. Me and Oceana sat down outside our house, just staring up at the stars in the sky. I loved being close to her. Loved the possibilities that had opened up before us this very evening. Things would never be the same again, I knew that for sure.

Yet, Oceana managed to surprise me, by ruling out just how much things would change.

Screenshot-823“Sunny” her voice was weak and shaky, which I thought was weird a night like this. “My family won’t like these turnouts…”

“They don’t have much choice now. With Mithos as mayor their money won’t be able to buy them advantages anymore” I promised.

Oceana sighed, “You just don’t get it, do you?”

I didn’t say anything because I didn’t feel like fighting with her this night. She was the one who didn’t get it! She was safe, I had made sure of that. It was getting tiresome listening to her worries day and night.

Screenshot-824“They won’t ever leave me. Or you” she continued. “I know them Sunny. They won’t care if they’re punished for it, if they get a chance to avenge my betrayal they will take it. They’re so many, even if Tiber and Heliotrope are locked up there will always be someone else to go after me, or you. Or the baby.”

“But I’ll protect you!” I protested.

“Can’t you just listen, please?” Tears rolled down her cheeks. “You could try, but it’s no guarantee for our safety, or the baby’s safety. There’s only one thing that can keep you and the baby safe, and I’ve decided to do it.”

“And what’s that?”

“I’ll go back to them.”

“GO BACK?!” I stood up, and felt furios. Out of everything she could have thought of, this was her idea? “You’re leaving me?”

She cried even more, it was getting hysterical. “I do it for you Sunny. Once the baby is here I’ll leave it with you and I’ll crawl back to them. If they think I’ve reconsidered, they’ll leave you alone. And you can raise the baby. It’s the only way. If anything happened to this little one I could never forgive myself. I love you, Sundance. I love you.”

Screenshot-851I couldn’t just simply accept the fact that Oceana would disappear out of my life, even if her reason was to protect me and the baby. It didn’t make any sense. There had to be some other way? I complained over at Quince’s place, hoping that he would have any advice on what I could do.

“She says it’s the only way. That the baby will be safe if she just goes back there. But there has to be another way, right?”

Screenshot-852“She’s going back?!” Quince seemed as upset as I had been over Oceana’s idea. No wonder, I suppose… Her plan was actually to go back to the family who had haunted us for years, who had killed Affair.

“I don’t know what to do” I admitted, feeling more and more depressed over the thought. Here I stood, thinking I had known Oceana, that she had been different, and yet she was willing to go back to her old, horrible family, just like that. “I can’t lose her. I can’t raise a baby on my own!”

Screenshot-853Quince scratched the back of his head in thoughts and mumbled a bit for himself. “Well, maybe…”

“Maybe what?”

“Maybe it’s not a bad plan… I mean, those berryholes went after her even with our protection. You can’t imagine what it’s like to have a kid Sunny. Not until you actually have one. You’ll do anything to keep it safe.”

“Even abandon it?”

“If that’s what it takes. If I had to abandon Spindle to make sure he was safe, I’d do it. It wouldn’t be easy, but I’d do it.”

It felt as if Quince was letting me down. It made me angry thinking that everyone backed her decision up. Cinnamon had been upset over it at first, but she also agreed it would keep the baby safe in the end and that it therefore would be worth it. I hoped sincerely that she would change her mind once the baby was here.

Screenshot-834It became a long and almost unbearable fall. The simple thought of Oceana leaving me was depressing. I really tried to talk her out of it, but it seemed impossible. On top of the problem with Oceana, dad seemed to get worse and worse for each day. He would go out in the garden to rake leaves for hours. It was almost as if he forgot about everything around him. All he could care of was that rake and the thought of getting the leaves gathered in a neat pile.

A simple little puff of air had the leaves whirl around, causing a mess on our lawn again, which had him start all over. I think he missed most of the pregnancy all together and I wasn’t even sure if he was aware of the fact that he would be a grandfather again around winter.

I was excited to meet the baby, but the constant worry of Oceana actually keeping her promise and leaving us gave me mixed feelings. I wanted the little one to be born, but I didn’t want to lose Oceana. Time became a funny thing, it seemed to move both too fast and too slow.

Screenshot-796 Screenshot-795Mom had been looking forward to the birth since she first found out and it was nice to see her care for Oceana, giving tips on how to raise kids or how to ease the pregnancy aches. I had been looking forward to see her with my kid and that made it even more sad when she passed away with winter around the corner. She practically stumbled at the finish line and she would never get to feel the smell of a newborn baby.

It was almost impossible to accept the fact that she wouldn’t be around.

Screenshot-848Just a few weeks after mom’s death, it was time. Pixie came around to handle the delivery and Oceana surprised us by giving birth to not one, not two, but three healthy little babies. Triplets! Mom would have been thrilled!

I was happy to see the perfect little ones, but the fear of Oceana possible leave clouded the happiness. For the first few weeks I thought she had changed her mind, but once the kids were old enough to be fed through the bottle she packed her bags and waved us goodbye. “I love you Sundance, and I love our kids. Please remember to tell them that. I leave because I love them, nothing else, okay?”

I cried for a full day after that. In just a few weeks I had lost two of the most important girls in my life. Would I ever be able to survive that?

Dad snapped out of his confusion whenever he was with the babies, which was lucky because I couldn’t have managed on my own. But he was there, like a father should and helped me get through the initial sorrow.

Screenshot-857And as time passed, I learned to be happy for what I had. Soda Pop, Loquat and Blizzard were the cutest, most adorable and fantastic babies I had ever seen. Even though it was hard to get by without Oceana’s support, they gave me happiness and comfort. It made me feel a bit better, thinking a bit of Oceana lived in these kids.

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Chapter 2.11: Home

Screenshot-793“Look at it!” Mom was shining with joy as she pointed at a small white house with a broken fence surrounding it. “Home, it’s our home!”

It was weird entering a place that should be filled with emotions and memories, but which was blank to me. I had no memories from this place, neither did it feel like home. For as long as I could remember my home had been in the district. I tried my best to act as happy as I was supposed to and entered the house. It was dusty and it smelled trapped but I had to admit it still looked nicer than the shack in the district. It surprised me that there was still an old computer and an old TV after all these years.

Mom and dad was swirling around in a hug, laughter escaping their mouths. This had to be about the happiest day of their life and in the confusion I felt, that was something I could be genuinely happy about. ‘I’ll get used to it’ I thought and did a tour in the small house, in my new home.

Screenshot-704I took a walkabout in the house, trying to find something I remembered, something that could remind me of a life outside the district. I found nothing. I sat down in a rocking chair in one of the nurseries. It had to be Quince’s because there was only one crib while there were two in the other. So, this was it. My new home. My new life.

It had been a good start, I had to admit that much. Oceana had been released from the hospital after two days of observation when the doctors were sure her breathing was stabilized and functioning as normal. Quince and Sweets had been released from custody the day after the rebellion, along with the rest of our friends, with no punishments. We all suspected they would be held under close observation by the police for a while, though. Mayor Bloom had been forced to step down from his post as Mayor, and were simply Mr. Bloom by now. His assistant had taken the vacant spot, while a new election was being planned. I had never heard of an election during a term, but with the ruling circumstances there really was no other choice. Yes, things were looking brighter than ever and now I had a real home.

Screenshot-798Mom decided we would throw a homecoming party. We all agreed that it was a good idea since we had finally managed to succeed in our political plan. We were no longer secluded because of our color. It was a giant step in the right direction. It would also be the first party in many, many years that we could host in a real home instead of at the pub. That alone was worth celebrating.

To my big surprise, the stereo still worked after all the years it had not been used. I shifted through mom and dad’s old record collection and came up with a mix of Indie, Rock, Jazz and RnB that would suit pretty much everyone. I can’t say I was a master when it came to music, but I was quite sure I was better than mom and dad.

While I prepared the music, mom was swirling around in front of a mirror, trying some of her old clothes on. She had been doing that regularly the last few days. I was a bit jealous because I couldn’t feel the same homecoming feeling as her and dad. I wanted to be happy in the same way as they were. It wasn’t like I could try my old clothes on to remember past days either, since they were all baby clothes. Oh well…

Screenshot-799Pretty much all of our friends came for the party and it was a good night. Quince mixed a few drinks and placed them on the dining table so that everyone could just help themselves. “I want to raise a toast” Cinnamon suddenly exclaimed and threw her arm around Oceana’s body in a friendly gesture. Someone lowered the volume of the stereo while Cinnamon got to speak, “This girl, my friends, is the bravest girl I know. I want to raise a toast for her, for putting her berryhole brother in prison – where he belongs! To Oceana!”

The party cheered and emptied their glasses for Oceana’s sake. I did the same, even though I could see it was hard for Oceana. She hated her brother alright, but reporting him and getting him arrested had put another nail in the coffin between her and her family. I knew it was hard, because even if she despised them, they were her family and now they hated her. The world might have become a better place for colorless berries, but because of the latest happenings it was a lot more dangerous to Oceana. Still, she smiled as Cinnamon talked and when the rest of us drank what we had in our glasses, she did so too.

Screenshot-800Screenshot-803Later that evening it was Flax’s turn to raise a toast. He cleared his throat and started speaking once everyone was quiet. He had quite the power in our little circuit because he was the leader of our party and all. “I’m proud of you all for getting us here” he said.

Mithos, who stood next to him, rocked back and forth on his heels. After a short rhetorical pause, Flax continued, “I’m not as young as I used to be. I know you can see it, but I can certainly feel it. Berry, my joints are stiff as a lollipop in the mornings and I do all kind of morging gymnastics to even get out of bed. Because of this, it’s time for me to hand the leadership over. It hasn’t been an easy choice, but the guy who will be taking over is a fantastic young boy with just the right amount of fighting spirit. We deliberated together, and have decided to re-name the party as well. Whites stood for the justice of colorless, but with how far we have come now, we want to focus on equality for every ‘bow regardless of color instead. Hence, the new name of the party is Spectrum. And now my friends, please all all raise your glasses in a toast for Mithos Spring, the perfect new leader for our politics!”

Screenshot-802It came as a surprise to most of us, but Mithos just smiled proudly and emptied his glass. Not that he wasn’t a perfect leader because I sure couldn’t imagine anyone better suited, but because it was hard to accept that Flax (and hence my parents) were getting to the point where they needed to hand responsibilities over. Shouldn’t they be around forever?

No wonder, it was an epic party that night. There was just so much to celebrate. We kept going the whole night.


Screenshot-705 Screenshot-706Having a real home had it’s advantages, I realized quickly. Not only did it mean a higher portion of safety and feeling of belonging but it also meant I could invite friends over. And the friend I most enjoyed being with, was Oceana. I think she needed me as much as I needed her. And we had great fun! It almost felt as though we were normal ‘bows now, living free in the world, having friends.

Although, Oceana was still scared. Putting her brother in prison had most likely been that final straw that broke the camel’s back. She just knew her family was after her now. She had betrayed them and in their eyes, she was the one belonging in jail, not Tiber.

“He only got nine months” she told me and the fear and worry made her eyes wander back and forth, as if she was keeping a lookout. Not that she wasn’t safe in our home, but I guess she must have felt constantly scared now. “What will happen after those months, Sunny?” I promised her it would be fine, but deep down inside I wasn’t so sure.

Screenshot-707Although, there were moments when the fear lifted its grip around her and she could be goofy, happy and playsome. It didn’t matter which Oceana she showed, I loved her anyway. I have to admit though, it was easier hanging out with the happy Oceana than the constantly scared one.

Screenshot-708Since she was scared of being at her own house, and alone, she spent a great deal of time at our place. It was almost as if she was a part of our family, although we were still no official couple, so calling her family would be a bit over the top. But it was nice, eating dinner together and talking about unessential things.

Screenshot-712“So, are you two ever going to bring us any grandchildren?”

Screenshot-711I pretty much choked on my hot dog. Sometimes I hated my mother, but that was just her way. She didn’t do cotton candy wrapped words.

Screenshot-710“I think that would be rather unfair” Oceana replied, without looking the slightest offended. “To them, I mean. With my family, those poor kids would be pretty much haunted. I couldn’t do that.”

It was as if a rock collapsed on my shoulders. Sure, I knew she was scared her family would come after her and I had never really considered having a family with her, but getting it put so straight wasn’t fair. I mean, there was still the possibility, right? I knew from that moment that if Oceana were to ever have a proper future, where she wouldn’t have to be constantly afraid, I would have to do something. I would create a world where she could be safe.

Screenshot-807The only thing that came to my mind, was trying to talk some sense in to her family. I knew it wouldn’t be easy but if there was even the slightest chance that Oceana would feel safer afterwards, it was worth a try. So, I gathered enough courage to visit the Sourz residence again. It was the first time I went there since we egged the place, and it brought back a few memories. This time I came with good intentions though.

Screenshot-825I pressed the door bell and it wasn’t until then I realized what a stupid idea this was, if I got hurt it certainly wouldn’t get any better for Oceana. Although, it was too late to back out now. Heliotrope opened the door and the disgust that flooded to his eyes when he saw me was impossible to miss. He snarled, “You!”

“I just wanted to ask you to leave Oceana alone, she’s had it hard enough” I stuttered. I really tried to be polite and friendly but with a man in front of you with such a clear hate for you, it’s hard to not tremble a bit.

“Scram, vanilla freak!” He slammed the door shut. Well, that didn’t go as planned but at least I didn’t get hurt in the process.

Screenshot-827With no other idea to how I could make the world a better place foe the girl I had fallen in love with, I went back to the Sourz residence the next day. Since I hadn’t been hurt the day before, I had found new courage and this time around, I wasn’t as scared when I pressed the door bell. Once again, Heliotrope opened the door and looked furious by the plain sight of me. “I told you to leave us be” he sputtered.

“And I want you to promise to leave Oceana alone” I answered, just stammering a bit.

Heliotrope stared at me deadly and it almost felt as if his eyes made burn marks on my body. “I just wish Tiber would have killed her, like he killed your purple friend” Heliotrope hissed slowly between gritted teeth and took a step out on the porch, closing the door behind him, In a matter of seconds, he had pushed me backwards so that I was lying defenseless on their porch. He jumped me and started to beat me up, angry words escaping his mouth in the process. “I just wish he would have killed her” he whispered again once he stood up and gave me some room to breathe. “She’s a disgrace to this family.” With those final words, he left me on the porch and walked back in to the house.

Screenshot-832I cleaned myself up at the gym on my way home, not wanting anyone to see that I had been beaten up. Least of all Oceana, who I suspected was at our house as usual.

It seemed like my little washup at the gym had done wonders because not once that evening did Oceana hint anything about a possible fight. In fact, she seemed to be a bit out of her game, which had me wonder if anything had happened to her this specific day. When I asked, she just waved it away though, saying she was just being tired.

We went to bed early that night and Oceana fell asleep fast while I myself tossed from one side to the other, sleep not willing to catch me at all. I presumed it had to do with my worries for Oceana. It couldn’t be easy on the poor thing walking around with constant worry. And what if Heliotrope finally got to her? What if he actually put any action in to the words he had tossed after me today? What if he actually wanted her dead? I couldn’t keep a constant lookout around Oceana and if Heliotrope really wanted to kill her, what would stop him?

I had an uneasy sleep that night. Nightmare after nightmare haunted me, each and everyone including me losing Oceana from my life. When I woke up I had to look at her twice, and actually touch her once, before I was certain that she was in fact still here.

I needed to do something.

Screenshot-828It was Cinnamon, of course it was Cinnamon, who came up with the final idea. It was stupid, but it could possibly work. After much deliberation I had decided to tell her about my worries and about my encounters with Heliotrope. It was too tough carrying it all by myself and the fact that I couldn’t come up with anything to keep Oceana real safe troubled me. Once I had shared it with Cinnamon, it felt a bit better.

She offered to help me, and I was grateful. So it happened that I rang the door bell at the Sourz residence for the third time in a very short time. With Cinnamon by my side it felt a teeny bit safer, and without her there, I probably never would have dared. While waiting for the door to open I gently touched the contents of my pocket, making sure it was all in place. The purple, fury, eyes that stared at me when the door opened gave me the chills but Cinnamon tackled me gently to make me speak. “You have one last chance. Promise to not harm Oceana, to leave her alone.”

Screenshot-826Heliotrope sneered, “I’m pretty sure I’ve already stated my opinion in this matter.”

“You can’t kill her for thinking differently” I stated.

Heliotrope laughed. It was a mean, evil and menacing laugh, “Ha! We can’t? Well, we managed with that purple waster, didn’t we?”

Cinnamon took my hand and squeazed it gently. I knew it meant I had to press on, “She’s your sister, Heliotrope!”

“I don’t give a damn about ‘bows showing any sympathy for freaks! They deserve to die and if I can help cleanse this town from their filthy existense, I’ll gladly do it again. What was his name, Affair?, he deserved to die. And so do you and everyone who cares for you. YOU ARE FREAKS!”

Screenshot-830Cinnamon kicked his chins before he had time to attack us and as he bent down in pain we ran. We ran as fast as we could, as far away as possible and when we finally stopped we looked at each other and smiled wide before embracing each other in a hug. It had succeeded, he had walked straight in to the trap!

Screenshot-831I pulled out the phone from my pocket and pressed Stop, to stop the recording.

I clenched the phone in my hands when we walked towards the police station, knowing that it held the future of my life, and foremost – Oceana’s life. Not even the stupid police force of Fondant Fields could resist a recognition. Heliotrope would soon be joining his brother where they both belonged and they wouldn’t get out anytime soon.

Chapter 2.10: It’s over

AN: This chapter contains bloody content which may not be appropriate for young or sensitive readers. Read at your own risk.


Screenshot-703It was a shock, to say the least, getting back to the district that night. The white high walls I had become so accustomed to where torn down and laid in ruins on the ground. And it was silent, too silent. I opened the door to our house only to find it empty. It was the first time I had come home to an empty house, and it scared me. With panic raising in my chest, I got out again and knocked on several of the other doors in the district. No one opened.

Screenshot-718“It’s over” a voice said from the dark and when I turned around I saw old Pomelo standing by one of the garbage disposers. In his hand he held the pipe that was so closely bound to him. I knew that he had been one of the most active in Whites when it started out, but as time passed he pulled back more and more. Mom said he was but a shadow of his former self nowadays. Now he was sitting there all alone in the dsitrict. I realized he was probably the only one here except for myself.

“Over?” I questioned, afraid of what it might mean.

“The district. It’s over. They finally managed. I should have known a Twist would be behind its settling.”

“A Twist?” I instantly knew he was referring to Sweets. Whatever she was behind, had been the reason why she needed me and our parents out of the district this very night. There had been hidden motives after all. I looked around again, it was hard to wrap your mind around what had been going on here this evening. Not until then did I see the blood that was splattered on the ground. “What happened?” I whispered, fearing the worst.

Screenshot-717“War happened” Pomelo simply said and went back to smoking his pipe. Two whiffs passed until he said anything else. “They’ll be down at the police station, if you’re wondering.”

If I was wondering? No, no, my friends had just been in a war and they had intentionally left me out. I wasn’t wondering at all. I shot an angry glance at Pomelo before hurrying off again. The police station? What the fudge had just happened?

Screenshot-683“We have a Sweet Corn and a Quince Twist here, yes. I can’t say anything else in the matter until they’ve been properly questioned by our officers. If you excuse, we’re quite busy tonight, as I’m sure you understand” said the officer who had the misfortune of manning the reception this night and waved his hand, motioning for me to get out of his sight and make room for one of the other ‘bows waiting in line. I sighed and walked up to the visitor’s area, where several berries were already seated. It did indeed seem like a busy night at the station.

Screenshot-684“You really think it’s over?” It took me a moment to realize the question was directed to me and as I turned my eyes an orange berry looked at me. When I didn’t answer she continued, “I can’t believe they released the Sourz just like that! Shouldn’t they be held here under observation as well. I mean, they did fight too! But I guess it’s true like the rumours say, money can buy anything. Even a full police force.”

“Did you say Sourz?” I asked intrigued. I should have been tired of that name by now, but I still had unsolved businesses with them. Should have realized that they were a part of that war Pomelo had spoken about, though.

“Yes” the orange ‘bow nodded eagerly. “I just saw them leave a couple of minutes ago. I bet they’re back home, hiding by now!”

Screenshot-686I excused myself and left the station. I needed peace and calm to be able to gather my thoughts. Adding one part to the other; Empty district, War, Friends in custody, released Sourz, gave me a picture of what had happened in my abscense. ‘Money can buy anything’ that ‘bow had said and I gnashed my teeth by the thought of how much truth that comment held. It had bought them innocense in a murder and in several assaults. I couldn’t let them get away this time.

While trying to come up with an idea my phone started to vibrate in my pocket. A text from Oceana blinked on the screen, “I just saw the news. Are you okay?” I responded with a short, “Yes, just trying to find out how my family is. You?” A short moment later a new message appeared on the screen, “Scared. I think Tiber is outside.” I didn’t need much time to think, I just looked back at the police station, thinking my family would still be in there by the time I got back. For now, Oceana needed me more.

Screenshot-679The steady thump of my footsteps echoed in my ears and I felt a drop of sweat roll down on my forehead. I pushed myself harder than I was used to, but I needed to get to Oceana as fast as possible. I needed to be there now. My vision blurred as the adrenaline rushed to my body, trees swooshed by in a green mess and for every step I laid behind me my heart beat faster. I needed to go faster.

Eventually, the green little house where I had been only hours earlier appeared in sight and I tried to push myself even harder. When I got closer I saw that the front door was open, that couldn’t be a good sign, could it? It was silent around me, the same silence that had laid over the district. The silence after a battle, after a war, I thought to myself while I sneaked closer. It wouldn’t help neither me or Oceana if Tiber noticed me coming before I had thought of a plan. I don’t think I’ve ever sneaked so silently before. I moved like a ninja, carefully avoiding every stick and dry leaf as I moved closer. I didn’t know how much time had passed since I got Oceana’s message, maybe 15 minutes or so? I just knew I had run a longer distance than my body was used to, not that it meant much. I wasn’t exactly a physical powerhouse. I just hoped I hadn’t come too late, after what seemed to have happened at the district, it felt like anything could happen tonight.

I moved closer to the house, crouching so that my figure wouldn’t show in the windows. If Tiber was really in there, I had no idea what to do, but I would have to come up with something if that situation occured. First, I wanted to make sure Oceana was okay. It seemed to be quiet inside her house, too, and only the wind was heard when it played with some fallen leafs. It seemed calm, too calm. I peaked through the open front door but there was nothing to be seen. Her kitchen looked pretty much like it had done when I left a couple of hours ago and so did the livingroom.

Screenshot-681After gathering enough courage I stood up and entered the house. It seemed empty, almost abandoned. “Hello?” I said and blew my cover after deciding that it wouldn’t help to sneak on Tiber anyway, he would easily overpower me even if I surprised him.

“Sundance?” said Oceana with a low raspy voice. It sounded like she had to work hard to just say my name. She was hurt, it was the only thought that passed through my mind. She was hurt. Since she wasn’t in the kitchen or the livingroom, she had to be either in her bedroom or her bathroom. My bet was on the bedroom and I hurried in there. I could never have imagined that I would find her like I did.

Screenshot-688 Blood was covering the carpet underneath her and her beautiful, beautiful face was completely messed up. Her one eye seemed to be incapable of opening up and a small string of blood poured from her mouth. Her delicate little nose was swollen, definitely broken. I sat down next to her, taking her hand in mine, “Who did this to you?”

She breathed heavily, as if the simple task of breathing was overwhelming. “Tiber” she moaned and closed her eyes. It looked painful for her to speak so I didn’t ask any more questions. I wiped some blood off her face with the sleeve of my shirt and vowed stern to make him pay for what he had done to me, my family and my friends. And to his sister.

Screenshot-690“We need to get you to the hospital” I said after a while. “They need to fix you. I can’t.”

“Not– hospital” her eyes opened and closed and her face grimaced of pain as she spoke, yet she managed to whisper one more word, “Sourz.” It was enough, I knew exactly what she meant. She couldn’t go to the hospital because the Sourz family, her family, owned it. They would find her there.

I knew two doctors. One of them were in custody and the other was at the spa. I hated to have to interrupt their well-deserved vacation but figured that this was a situation worth interrupting it for. Dad answered after the fourth signal, his happy voice revealed that they were oblivious to what had happened this evening. “Dad, I need you. Oceana has gotten beaten up quie bad and we… I’ll tell you when you get here. Can you come? Now? She’s having trouble breathing. Hurry, if you can.” I gave him no chance to interfere or say anything and since it wasn’t like me to act in the way I did, he promised to come right away. He realized that I wouldn’t call unless it was serious.

“Make sure she stays awake” he said once he had got her adress. I knew he would be here as soon as he could.

Screenshot-691I turned to Oceana again, held her hand in one of mine and stroke her hair gently with the other. “You’ll be alright” I whispered comforting not knowing whether she or I needed to believe that the most. “You’re going to be okay” I whispered again.

Screenshot-695Dad arrived quicker than I would have thought, with mom following after him. I wasn’t surprised, it wasn’t like she would continue her stay at the spa when I needed their help. Judging by how fast they got here, they must have run too. Dad washed his hands and then took my place next to Oceana. I had never seen him work before but the way he gently examined her while talking comforting to her, letting her know what he was checking and what he could see, I realized he could have been a good doctor, had he been allowed to work. There was a serious layer covering his face but he showed no real worry and from what I could tell he cared for her as though she was family.

Screenshot-693“Her face looks worse because of all the blood, but there’s not much harm done. Nose is broken but that’ll fix itself eventually. It probably hurts a bit, though” Dad explained and continued to check her body. “Sunny, can you get some aspirins and a wet towel, please?”

I moved quickly, determined to do anything I could to help my friend. I found aspirin in the bathroom cabinet and thanked the berry above for the logical placements of medicins. When I came back to the bedroom dad’s eyes had changed. They were suddenly revealing fear and worry.

“Good” he said, despite the feelings I sensed he was having. “Now carefully wipe the blood off. I need to listen to her breathing…”

We worked in silence, the only sound that was heard was the heavy breathing of Oceana. It sounded painfully tough.

“Hmm. Did you get punches to the chest?” Dad asked and looked at Oceana. She nodded. “I think you have a broken rib, and I’m afraid it may have punctured your lung. We need to get you to the hospital.”

Screenshot-692“Is it the same guys that beat you up from time to time, Sunny? Those Sourz?” Mom spit the name out and it practically vibrated with disgust. I nodded while dialing 911, I wouldn’t let Oceana die just because her family could find her at the hospital. I would guard her myself, if I needed.

“That family!” Mom was fuming. “They’re dregs! Nothing good could ever come from that family. Someone should just banish them from the surface of the earth. Promise me Sunny, to never have anything to do with anyone of their blood!”

I snapped, “Oceana is a Sourz, and she’s no scum!” Mom’s mouth opened in shock and she went quiet. “Was a Sourz” I corrected myself.

Screenshot-696I went with Oceana in the ambulance and despite my lack of color, we were treated with respect. They stabilized her breathing as good as they could with what instruments they had and drove with the blue lights on. When we got to the hospital Oceana was placed on a bed and nurses hurried away with her. I followed them until one of them stopped me, saying I couldn’t go with her to x-ray. I sat down in the waiting area, praying that she would be fine.

Screenshot-699“She’ll be fine, son” dad said and sat down next to me. I loved my parents, they usually knew exactly what I needed to hear and when.

“The doctors will fix her. A punctured lung sounds worse than it really is” he promised.

I nodded to show that I understood him, but I was still worried. “Oh, Quince and Sweets are in custody” I suddenly remembered and panic raised in dad’s eyes.

“Custody?”

Screenshot-698I sighed, trying to explain something I didn’t quite understand myself wouldn’t be easy. “It seems like they tore the district walls down tonight. And then the antagonists showed and it evolved in to a battlefield. They’re holding all our friends at the police station for further questioning. But from what I’ve heard, the district might finally be settled.”

“Oceana will be alright, but we have to go now. Me and mom, we need to go to…” Dad never finished the sentence before rushing off, but I understood precisely what he meant anyway. They needed to look after their other two kids. Of course they did. I stayed with Oceana, I had promised to keep her safe here.

Screenshot-700Dad was right, Oceana was fixed but she needed to stay for observation at least over the night. And probably one or two more days. I stayed with her in the room in a visitor’s chair. “Thanks.” It was the first thing she had said to me since we got to the hospital and it was a relief to know that she wasn’t angry that we had taken her here even though she didn’t want to. “I’m going to report it, he can’t get away with this.” That was the second.

“Really?”

Screenshot-702Oceana nodded and I suddenly felt happy. Despite everything that had happened tonight, it seemed like we would finally be able to get some peace. No more District 0. No more Tiber out on the streets. If things turned out as I hoped, it would be a whole new world. It was an exciting thought, very much welcome in the middle of this chaos.

Chapter 2.9: The background

Screenshot-457 “Are you a couple now, or what?” Cinnamon looked at me with suspicious eyes and even though I had got that question several times during the last few weeks, I still didn’t know what to respond. I just shook my head.

Couple? No, no, surely you would know if you were a couple with someone, right? I did meet Oceana a lot, but I met Cinnamon, Sweets, Quince and Mithos a lot too, and I were no couple with either of them. Besides, Oceana would let go of my hand and take a step to the side as soon as someone appeared further ahead on the boardwalk, almost as if she was embarrassed by my company. No, we were not a couple, even if we kissed and cuddled now and then.

Screenshot-458“You don’t know if you’re a couple?” Cinnamon raised her eyebrows and it made me feel like an idiot. How could I not know for sure?

Screenshot-581Later that day, when mom had come home to the district, I decided to ask her for advice. She usually had the answers to all my questions, she was old and wise.

“How you know if you’re a couple?” Mom scratched her head and repeated the question to herself a few times. After a moment she chuckled, “Oh, you’ll have to ask her I’m afraid, dear.”

“Ask her?” My heart started beating in ultra rapid speed and I thought for a moment that I might pass out. I couldn’t possibly ask Oceana if we were a couple! I mean, if I did, that meant I kind of thought we were, right? And if her answer to the question would be no, I would be forever embarrassed. Nope, I couldn’t do it.

Screenshot-584“Who is this lucky berry, son?” Mom asked and I could tell she was excited by the thought of a potential love interest of mine. Ever since Spindle was born, she had been bugging me and Sweets about how we needed to also find someone, so that she could have more of those joyful little bundles of love. The thing was that I was too shy to dare take any initiative to romantic actions (unless Quince ‘poisoned’ me with his mixology magic) and Sweets couldn’t settle for one single boy. She was constantly seen with a new berry on her arm.

“Oh” I twisted my body back and forth, trying to guard myself from the question.

“Is it Cinnamon?” Mom pressed on and smiled. “She’s real cute.”

“Cinnamon?!” Had I been drinking something at that moment I would have spit it all out over the table. Cinnamon? “It’s not Cinnamon” I promised, which made mom even more curious.

Screenshot-585“Her name’s Oceana” Sweet Corn announced just as she came through the front door. Without another word, she walked through the livingroom and in to our shared bedroom. Sometimes, I hated her. Who was she to reveal my secrets? Not that I would ever confront her about it, though.

“I can pretend I never heard that” mom smiled. It was a true mother-smile, one that held pride, love, care and respect.

“Please do” I sighed. “I don’t know what we are, and until I do for sure, it’s nothing. Okay. No hopes?”

Screenshot-586“No hopes” Mom turned around to start working on the dishes and I prepared to make my leave. “Good luck with Oceana” mom said jokingly before I was out of hearing reach and I think I blushed from my toes and to my forehead. I hurried in to my bedroom before mom would say anything else that could embarrass me.

Screenshot-592 “Look, Sunny” Sweets started before I had time to say anything. “You’re going to see Oceana tonight, right?”

“I don’t know. What’s it to you?”

Screenshot-593“Well, I kinda hoped you would… I need the whole family out of here tonight, because… Well, because.”

“Surprises?” I asked hopeful. You were never too old for surprises.

“You could say that” Sweets answered and looked smug. “I’ve booked mom and dad a night at the spa. Bluebell’s working alone tonight. And they deserve it, after everything they’ve done. They’ll be the first colorless visiting the spa in 25 years. Quite cool.”

Even if I hated my sister from time to time, I still loved her to pieces most of the time. You would probably think she was selfish, but she was the complete opposite. She would do pretty much anything for her friends or family, at least if she gained something from it. And sometimes, she  was a bit blunt and fast forward, still she meant well most of the times. “I got it!” She exclaimed and interrupted my thoughts. “You’re going to take Oceana out for dinner tonight and I’m paying!”

Screenshot-589I hesitated for a moment, this wasn’t like Sweets. Usually when she was being this kind and generous, she gained something out of it. Only this time I couldn’t see what that could be. “Okay, but I don’t owe you anything for it, okay?”

“Nope, I’m just trying to be nice and show my family some love” her face lit up in a big smile and even though I didn’t know why, it felt like I had been lured in to a trap.

“Oh, and you can’t take her to the pub ’cause Quincie closes it tonight. Y’know, he has to take care of Spindle when Bluebell works and neither Mithos or Thunderbird could fill in for him tonight. You could go to the Flyin’ Burrito. I’m sure Oceana would love their karaoke machine.”

Screenshot-587They were closing The Blank Slate tonight? There was definitely something up, but I just couldn’t wrap my head around what it was. And truth be told, I was just happy to spend more time with Oceana, so I didn’t think about it too much.

Screenshot-610The Flyin’ Burrito was a decent place. It was small and somewhat cozy, and the owners didn’t hate us colorless. Except for the Blank Slate, it was one of the very few places we could go to without too much worry. It was a better place to go for dinner than The Blank Slate too and their (surprise!) burritos were pretty much famous. My favorite was the vegetarian one. It had the perfect mix of vegetables and the perfect amount of sauce – it wasn’t too dry, neither too smeary.

Oceana went there every night she didn’t come to our pub, because of their karaoke machine. She had a secret dream of one day becoming a famous singer but she never told anyone about that dream. I think one part of her were ashamed of it, because she wasn’t the typical fame-seeking girl. I knew only because I asked her once, after one of our duets at The Blank Slate. She admitted with flushing red cheeks that she was indeed hoping to break through one day. She has a fitting name for it, Oceana Reef. It’s quite catchy, right?

We enjoyed a nice meal while listening to a few talented, and some more not-so-talented, karaoke singers. I hoped that Oceana wouldn’t want me to sing with her because doing it at The Blank Slate among friends and family was one thing and doing it at the Flyin’ Burrito among strangers a completely different thing. She would most likely sing but she was talented and I wasn’t. And hearing all the not-so-talented singers during our meal had me realize it was a bit embarrassing, especially those ones who really thought they did have talent. At least I wouldn’t count to that category.

Screenshot-601The question about what we were, laid like a leaf on my tongue. I wanted to let it out, but it also scared me. I knew I had to do it, though, because walking around and not knowing was pretty much driving me crazy. Once the waitress had removed our plates from the table I decided to finally do it. “So, Oceana, there’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you…”

“Mhm?” Her emerald eyes smiled at me and stirred up an inferno of butterflies at the pit of my stomach.

“Are we.. I mean, are you… What are…” There were so many ways to say it, and neither seemed to fit. I cleared my throat and went with the next thing that came to my mind, “Are we a couple?”

Screenshot-599The smile in Oceana’s eyes disappeared and she looked down while scratching the back of her head, “Oh, that…” It felt as if my heart was shattered in to a million little pieces, but what had I expected? That she would want to be with me? I only brought bad luck to those I cared for, or those who cared for me. “Sunny, there’s something I haven’t told you.”

My head started to spin. There was something she hadn’t told me. I had no clue what it could be, but I figured it couldn’t be good. “What is it?” I whispered, not even sure I wanted to hear the answer.

Screenshot-598Oceana stood up, and I just followed her lead and stood up too. She looked me straight in the eyes and it seemed as there was sadness in her eyes, or maybe my eyes betrayed me. I was nervously waiting for her to speak and when she finally did I let out my breath. I wasn’t even aware that I had been holding it. “My name hasn’t always been Oceana Reef” she started and looked at me, searching for some reaction in my face. I don’t know how I looked, I just wanted to hear more.

Screenshot-613“I was born in to a rich and powerful family. I had a good childhood with lots of love and lots of toys. I thought that was how life was supposed to be. It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I was starting to doubt my family’s politics. There was nothing wrong with treating others bad if they didn’t have your standards or live by your rules, according to my family. Were you born in to a family that lacked money, power or… color, you were simply less valuable to the community. The more you earn, the more taxes the town earns from you and therefore you have a greater value. It was important to them to keep a good bloodline, to respect what had been in our blood for generations. And that was always color. I lived by that until I was old enough to question it, and whenever I raised the question they tried to shut me down. I couldn’t see how a ‘bow could be of less value just because they lacked color.”

Screenshot-612She took a short pause, looking at me with an apologetically face. I didn’t say anything, I wanted to hear the rest of the story. She continued, “It took a couple of years of arguments and disagreements until I had enough. I moved out of the house, cut the loose bonds that were left and changed my surname. That was when I went from being Oceana Sourz, to becoming Oceana Reef. I still hear from my family sometimes, and I think they still care for me. I’ve been making a deal with my brother, who you know as Tiber. He has promised to not hurt me or my friends if I leave him be. We have lived by that word since then, but I’m not sure he would approve of your… lack of color. In their eyes, I’m still a Sourz, and they wouldn’t look to lightly on me if I ‘infested’ the bloodline. It’s not that I don’t like you, I do, I really do! But Sunny, they’re dangerous berries. I couldn’t do that to you. It’s one thing to be friends, a whole other thing to be a couple. They just wouldn’t allow and we would both get in trouble. I’m sorry, it just can’t happen.”

She cried once she was done and I waited a moment or two before doing anything, still not quite sure what her story meant. It just didn’t make sense that this wonderful girl could have anything to do with the berryhole Tiber and yet she stood right before me, telling me that he was her brother.

Screenshot-614“But, I think I’m in love with you.” It was the first thing that came out of my mouth and I was surprised myself. Not because it wasn’t true because that I was sure of, but because it didn’t make any sense to say that now. Oceana’s right hand wiped a tear out of the corner of her eye and she looked at me. She looked so hurt, so damaged. I couldn’t help but think it was my fault. I had done it again, brought bad luck to a berry I cared for.

I didn’t know what to do, I had never been in a situation like this before, so I did the first thing that came to my mind: I embraced her in a hug. “The worst thing is that I think I’m in love with you two” she whispered. My shirt got wet of tears and we probably stood there for several minutes, just finding comfort in each other’s arms.

Screenshot-625When we finally pulled out of the hug, I think we both felt a bit better. Oceana guided me out of the place and through a nearby park while keeping a constant lookout. I suspect of her brother or his friends. She stopped in front a small house and took my hand, “They might not approve of you, but that doesn’t mean I can’t sneak you in to my house, does it?”

Saying I had never thought about sex with Oceana would be a lie, because she was probably the prettiest and sexiest girl I had ever seen. But that it should be like it was, I could never have imagined that. In my dreams it had been after the marriage, in a romantic setting with lit candles and rose petals around the bed. What really happened was that it was quick and dirty. And I still didn’t know whether we were a couple or not. I did know that her brother hated me with a burning fury, though.


Meanwhile at District 0:

Screenshot-616 Screenshot-618 Screenshot-620What Sweet Corn hadn’t told Sundance, was that she did indeed have a motive for wanting her family out from the district this very night. Along with the growth of Cinnamon’s blog, more and more berries joined the rebellion and more and more berries fought for colorless’ rights. It had all started as a rumour, but when it reached Sweet Corn’s eyes she had decided within an instant that if there was ever a hint of truth the rumour, she wouldn’t miss it for her life. It had been a few days of long wait, but when the day was finally here, Sweet Corn and her friends were ready for the fight. After making sure her family (Quince not included) were safe, she armed herself with bricks from the inside of the district and met up with the rest of the rebellion. They went together and didn’t stop until they were right outside the walls of District 0.

This was it, the district was going down. Bricks were thrown, fists, nails and kicks were used until they bled. The atmosphere was vibrating with power, never had the rebellions been this openly hostile, and never had it been closer. When the first few bricks in the walls caved in the group of berries were empowered and new power was added to their cause. As more and more rebellions joined the definite uprising, the walls slowly caved in for the violence and the district seemed less and less fenced.

People stormed over the collapsed walls, getting more aid from within the district and with the combined forces of colorless and their every supporter, the walls finally went down. The district was finally a part of Fondant Fields again and the symbolic value they had presented had been torn apart. It was the first step of many to come.

The uprisings didn’t go by unnoticed and as the rebellious berries celebrated their victory, antagonists were gathering their forces to push them back. It would evolve in to a bloody dispute and both sides knew that the outcome of this night would set the bars for the future.

Screenshot-621Screenshot-624 Screenshot-623 Screenshot-622 The antagonists managed to get to the district and the violent disorder quickly and the whole scene turned in to a battlefield. Sweet Corn was jumped by a young pink boy and she cackled hysterically while waving her fists in front of her. The pink boy cried in pain as the fists landed on his cheeks, nose and eyes. He hadn’t expected that she would be such a fighter. Cinnamon in her turn took a leap towards Tiber and wrestled him down while spitting him in the face and delivering punch after punch to his face and abdomen. Mithos was jumped by Heliotrope and the two of them rolled around in the dust for what seemed like ages, cries escaping their mouths in the process.

Dust swirled around the scene, making it hard to see what was really going on. The local TV-station stood on the opposite side of the road, reporting live from the events and the police force came as quick as they could, trying to calm the place down. The rebellions were really on a streak this evening though, and wouldn’t let themselves calm down.

“I think Fondant Fields finally had enough. I bet District 0 will be settled tonight” the reporter said and looked with serious eyes to the TV audience. “Mayor Bloom will be in big trouble if he tries to continue as before after this big dispute. How many fighters can it be? It’s at least a hundreds of them. It’s hard to say which side is bigger, but from where I stand it seems it’s the rebellions. Fondant Fields, remember where you heard it first. This was Caramel Honey, reporting for Rainbow News from District 0. Or should we say, former District 0?”

The police managed to dissociate the fighters eventually and they were all placed in vans and driven to custody, where they all got to spend the night. As for the residents in the district, a new future awaited them.

Chapter 2.8: A blooming relationship

Screenshot-449“You have to be more careful!” Mithos’ voice was filled with worry and care but I had heard the words too many times for them to actually mean anything. Besides, he had been the one to inspire me in to this fight in the first place. I knew he was proud behind the worrying facade.

“I am careful!” I protested and Mithos smiled and pulled me closer to ruffle my hair, like he had done when I was just a little kid.

“I know you are, champ.”

Screenshot-447“Although…” I started a bit more quiet once he had let me go. “If it weren’t for Oceana they would have beat me up quite bad, I think.”

“She’s a good girl” Mithos agreed and another smile spread in his face. I loved it when he smiled, he was one of my best friends and I treasured every lonely minute I got with him. Unfortunately, they weren’t very common. It seemed like everyone wanted a piece of him. I was happy for what he could spare, though.

Screenshot-446“She said they weren’t allowed to hurt her friends… What does it mean?” I wondered and scratched my head. That part of the evening had confused me ever since it happened. Both because of the word friends, and because she could forbid the antagonists to do anything. What gave her that power?

“Oh, that…” Mithos paused for a second. “You’d be surprised if you knew everything about her background. I mean, I probably don’t know it all, and I’m surprised. She has to be about the strongest girl in Fondant Fields. Don’t tell Sweet Corn I said so, though.”

We both laughed at that last sentence. Sweets wouldn’t be happy to know we considered someone else to be the strongest girl in town. She desperately craved that title for herself, and in all honesty, she was most likely a good competitor.

Screenshot-448“Background?” I was intrigued.

“I’m not the one to tell her your story. You’ll have to ask her yourself.” Mithos shielded himself and I decided to let it be. If Oceana wanted to me know, she would tell me. Mithos grinned, “You’re quite in to her, aren’t you?”

I felt my cheeks turn red. “I don’t know… She’s fun and I like being with her.”

“Oh big surprise!” Mithos teased. “You’ve practically been inseparable since that night!”

Screenshot-427He was right, I had been hanging out with Oceana a lot since she saved me from being beaten up by Oil and Flirt. She was fun to hang out with and she made me do things I never would have done with anyone else by my side. I don’t know exactly what it was, but for some reason I actually enjoyed socializing for my own sake, and not just for acting normal.

There was just something special about Oceana that managed to pull me out from some kind of shell. Maybe it was the fact that I didn’t owe her anything. I could be with her because I actually wanted to without the pressure to make up for anything. I had never really understood that such was the case until she came in to my life, but it was absolutely true: I had to make up for putting my family in District 0. Mithos and Thunderbird had lost their best friend because of me. Cinnamon recklessly threw herself in to an investigation which was needed because of an event that I had caused. They all deserved my company and protection and if anything was ever to happen to them, I would be there to take the blame.

Screenshot-423But Oceana on the other hand, she had come to my rescue because she actually wanted to and none of my earlier actions had forced neither me or her in to the relation. She was the first friend I had actually chosen, and the first who had chosen me.

“Sunny, you have to sing Endless Love with me tonight!” Oceana laughed and I was smitten. We had sung that very song numerous times. It was her favourite song and she forced me to put on my most loveable face every time because we needed to put on a show, as she liked to put it.

Screenshot-430She was quite the performer, while I was… not. I tried my best, though, because even if I didn’t have the best singing voice or the best performance skills, it was fun. Oceana looked me deep in to the eyes and flapped her eyelashes while singing a set of perfect tunes:

“Oh, love
I’ll be a fool
For you,
I’m sure
You know I don’t mind
Oh, you know I don’t mind”

Screenshot-429We finished the song and stroke a perfect finishing pose and our friends in the pub clapped their hands like crazy. I actually enjoyed being the center of attention, which was probably weird both for me and everyone else who knew me from before.

Screenshot-441“Cheers for my duet partner!” Oceana exclaimed later and slammed her glass in to mine with such force that I thought the glasses would break.

“Cheers for friendship” I said and swept the drink in my glass.

Screenshot-442The drink warmed my body from within. It tasted good, too. Quince was getting better and better behind the bar and I knew he could pretty much perform magical things with the drinks he mixed. I never thought he would use that kind of magic on me, though.

But, there’s no other explanation to why I would ask Oceana to dance with me. Slow-dance. Unfortunately, she said yes.

Screenshot-435 Screenshot-437 I say unfortunately, but I didn’t mean it.

I liked dancing with Oceana and I didn’t care that people stared at us or that we were the only ones on the dancefloor. All I could think of was that she was cute, and that she smelled nice. And that she had a nice smile. And that her eyes sparkled like emerald. And that her lips looked like they would taste like raspberries.

Screenshot-438I was no longer in control of my own body and feelings and I was getting certain that Quince was behind it. He had certainly worked some kind of mixologist magic on me. I was empowered.

Screenshot-454I wasn’t even ashamed when I leaned in and placed my lips on Oceana’s sweet pink ones. They didn’t taste like raspberries, they tasted much, much better. I can’t even find a word for it. The pub exploded in cheers and applauds again and it was probably the finishing pose they had all waited for after the duet. I liked it.

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