“He’ll hunt you down for this. He’ll kill you and everyone you know.” What a laughable idea. Rex Darkstar was nothing to Peter, and Peter had proved that when he put a bullet through the sleeping demon. His left arm still hurt from where a bullet had grazed him, and his legs were slightly sore from scaling several barbed fences. Still, to think such revered man could be killed so easily. It was actually rather disappointing With Rex Darkstar dead, the Wolf Men would likely crumble.
Peter’s eyes were heavy from lack of sleep. It had taken Peter eight hours to drive to Rex Darkstar’s house, two hours to infiltrate and assassinate, and another eight hours to drive back. The house had been reasonably guarded by small set of guards, but Peter had killed almost all of them. Looking back, Peter realized that he probably should have used a pillow to smother Rex instead of shooting him since the gunshot drew the attention of the guards whom he had stealthily worked so hard to get past on his way inside. If he had just used the pillow, he wouldn’t have had to kill the guards, but in the end, it didn’t matter. Rex Darkstar was dead, and that was that.
All that was left now was for Peter to win Alison’s heart without interruption. The Wolf Men adventure had set him back, but he was determined not to let her slip through his fingers, not again. He would fight to the ends of the Earth for her. If only she knew the love in his heart, it would be easy, but life was never easy for Peter. His life was one obstacle after another, and he had been in the cycle for over thirty years. He had never had a moment of peace until he left NOTCH, and even then, problems kept finding him.
His bed was warm, and he had been laying in it for some time, the thought of leaving its warmth terrifying. Still though, he could not live the rest of his life under the heavy, green blanket which hid him from the harsh cold of his surrounding environment. Hours might have past, but Peter did not mind. The warmth was something he needed, and he would spend years engulfed in the warmness of the blanket if he could. Sadly, his old age eventually told him that he must leave the warmth through the growling of his stomach.
After taking a long sigh, Peter flung his legs out of the bed and quickly stumbled out of the room that used to belong to Edward Steed. At the time, he didn’t know where he was going as his feet mindlessly brought him from room to room. Eventually, he found himself in the kitchen. Alison was in the kitchen, her slender body pressed against a counter as she reached a hand up for a pitcher that was resting on top of a cabinet several feet above the counter.
“I got it,” Peter said as he stepped up beside her and grasped the pitcher with the tip of his fingertips. He gently pulled it off the top of the cabinet and handed it to Alison who smiled warmly.
“So, where’d you go last night?” Alison quietly asked as she pushed the pitcher under the sink nozzle and began filling it up with water. When Peter didn’t answer, she continued, this time in a much grimmer tone. “Did it have something to do with the Wolf Men?”
“Yes,” Peter stoically responded, “but it’s over now.”
“It’ll never be over with you, Peter,” Alison sighed, her eyes dulled with defeat. “There will always another battle you have to fight.”
“Alison, it’s over.” Peter clutched her shoulders in his handsand turned her towards him. “I’m done.”
“You said you were done before, but that didn’t stop you,” Alison replied. “Nothing will stop you.”
“That’s not true,” Peter responded, his heart pounding. “I’d stop for you.”
At first Alison was silent, and then, she gloomily responded. “No, you wouldn’t. Deep down, you’re still the same kid I met at summer camp. You want adventure and can’t live without it.”
“You… what?” Peter uttered after a long pause, his mind spinning. All this time, she had known? It was impossible. Surely, she would have said something, or maybe she did. His head hurt. “When?”
“You don’t remember?” Alison asked with a curious expression on her face. “What happened that night, do you remember?”
“I… I,” Peter stuttered as he began to recall the eve of Alison and Rodrick’s wedding. He had driven Rodrick back to his hotel room and had stopped by Alison’s room to talk to her. She had been drinking and had a look in her eyes like she was going to kiss him. She had asked him how he felt about her, and he had answered more honestly than he had before or since. He told her how he loved her but how being married wasn’t about love. He told her he knew he would never be happy with her and she would never be happy with him. His life at the time was at NOTCH and that was the only life he wanted. Her life was in some regular town with Rodrick and that was the only life with which she would be happy.
The memories flushing back made Peter’s head hurt as if he had been drunk the past few days. Peter placed a hand on his head and clenched his jaw in agony. His memories were telling him one thing, but his mind was telling him another thing. If he didn’t want Alison in the past, why was he was he so willing to fight for her? He loved her, so of course they would be happy together. Why did he think differently in the past? What more was needed for him then?
“Peter.” Peter was driven out of his thoughts by Alison’s voice. He glanced up and found her sympathetic eyes staring at him, and this time it was his shoulders clutched in her hands. “Are you okay?”
“Give me… time,” Peter muttered, and he staggered out of the kitchen figuring that it was best that Alison was not near him in case he lost control in a fit of frustration. His eyes were closed while he moved throughout the house, but when he opened them he still found himself in Edward Steed’s old room. Alone, he clenched his fists so hard that he felt blood fill his palms. For how long, he struggled between his memories and his brain, he did not know, but his thoughts were interrupted by a faint jingling sound from his phone. Desperate to escape the conflict growing inside his head, Peter grasped the phone with a bloody hand and answered the call.
“Hello, is this Peter Saneto?” A gruff voice on the other end asked before Peter could open his mouth. The voice sounded vaguely familiar to him, but Peter could not place it.
“Yes, who is this?” Peter responded collectedly, careful not to give anything away.
“My name is Thomas Reed,” the gruff voice replied, and Peter immediately recognized the name. Thomas Reed had retired fifteen years prior and had been one of the men who had inspired Peter during his time at NOTCH. Peter hadn’t heard anything about Thomas Reed since Thomas left NOTCH, but from what Peter already knew, if Thomas was calling him, then it was a matter of life or death. “I have a dire warning for you.”
“What is it?” Peter asked nervously, his heart beating in excitement.
“The Wolf Men are angry regarding the death of their leader and have hired an assassin to kill you,” Thomas replied causing Peter to wonder who was in command of the Wolf Men. Fortunately, Thomas answered Peter’s question with his next sentence. “Apparently, Rex Darkstar’s son, Henry Darkstar, wants you dead for killing his father.”
“How does he know it was me?” Peter asked curiously.
“He doesn’t but it didn’t take me long from looking at the evidence.” Thomas’s voice cut deep into Peter’s skin as a realization dawned on him.
“They… hired you?” Peter asked, but he already knew the answer.
“You catch on quick,” Thomas responded emotionlessly. “I just wanted to make sure I had the right guy.”
“Why… why are you doing this?” Peter asked as he silently scolded himself for letting his guard down and allowing Thomas to so easily confirm his guilt.
“Same reason you are going to fight me tomorrow between the hours of ten and twelve in the forest ten miles north of where you reside.” Thomas answered with a statement that was not an answer. “Good luck, Peter. For your sake, I hope I don’t see you.” For the last sentence, Thomas actually sounded like he cared about Peter, and Peter wondered whether the last sentence was supposed to be a taunt or advise. Before Peter could reply, Thomas ended the call, leaving Peter with his feelings of confusion, worry, and strangely, relief.
Although the conversation had nothing to do with Rodrick or Alison, his mind felt clearer. He loved Alison, but she wasn’t his. She would never be his. He had known that the day of the wedding, and he had known that the second she started dating Rodrick. Why he did not remember this was a mystery to him. Perhaps, he was trying to protect himself from the cruel reality that he couldn’t help her. The mind is built to protect the body. When air can’t travel through a person’s throat, the mind makes him cough. When a person cuts himself, the mind tells him he’s in pain. When a person needs a purpose to live, the mind fabricates a lie.
The lies were over now, and Peter had a destiny to fulfill. Thomas Reed had become a monster, and it was up to Peter to prevent Thomas from killing any more people. Peter clenched his fist tight and held it up to the ceiling in a silent vow to the heavens. Whether or not he would be able to beat Thomas, Peter did not know, but by tomorrow night, one of them would be dead.