Disclaimer: Not mine. Belongs to J.S. Cardone, Screen Gems, and Lakeshore Entertainment.
Thank You: To Mercurybard for the beta.

He watched her sleep. Her face, the color of cinnamon, looked so peaceful and innocent. Her chest rose and fell in a rhythmic pattern, her eyelids fluttering. Spider bites still covered her skin, but she was alive, safe, and in his eyes, still beautiful. That's all that mattered.

He thought back to their last conversation, her teasing him about being jealous, him worried for her safety. If only she had known the truth, maybe she could've protected herself. The last words they'd said to each other had been in anger. He didn't want those words to be the final ones.

He placed his hands on the wheels of his chair and pushed into the room. It had taken a little magic to convince the doctor to let him see her since he wasn't supposed to be out of bed. Sure, he still had a broken leg and other injuries from the motorcycle wreck, but he could still see her, dammit. He moved to her bedside and touched her hand. She turned towards him, but her eyes didn't open.

Kate Tunney. Beautiful, smart, privileged, and wouldn't look at Pogue Parry twice. Or so he thought.

Pogue had known Kate ever since they were five. As kids, it wasn't hard to talk to her at all. They discussed everything from finger paint to a frog he once put down her shirt. Everything changed at thirteen, though. He got his powers, and she became a full-fledged member of the scary female species. For years, he'd see her walking down the hall and duck into an empty classroom.

Reid was the one who told him he was being a loser. He was one of the Sons of Ipswich, for crying out loud; every girl wanted him. Pogue only rolled his eyes and ignored him. So what if every girl wanted him? He didn't want them.

In the middle of their junior year, Reid must've gotten tired of Pogue mooning over Kate and cast a spell to help him out. After class one day, Pogue found Kate's history book in his book bag, but he knew how it got there. It didn't get a chance to make Reid put it back. When Kate walked past them, Reid pushed Pogue into her. Pogue had apologized and handed her the book, saying he'd found it. She smiled, and the rest was history.

Being around Kate was the most wonderful feeling in the world. They were on a ride, and he fully enjoyed it. But the ride was growing more and more serious. If he intended to take this relationship farther, she deserved to know the truth. But what could he tell her? Kate, spiders didn't really bite you. You see, I'm a witch and so was Chase and he cast a spell on you to get you out of the way so he could get Caleb's power. Oh, yeah, Caleb's a witch, too. Oh, yeah, that would go well.

Pogue didn't get a chance to muse any longer. Kate's eyelids fluttered open and her brown eyes found his. He held his breath for a beat, wondering if she was still mad about the phone call. Then she smiled her glorious smile, and he knew she wasn't.

“Hey,” she said as she sat up.


She pushed her long, black hair back as she settled against her pillows. “What are you doing in a wheelchair?” Her eyes traveled over his face. “How did you get all those scratches?” Reaching out and lightly touching his cheek, she couldn't keep the concern from her voice.

For a moment, he considered telling her the truth, but quickly rejected it. He decided to go with an abbreviated version. “Wrecked my bike.” He winced the moment the words left his mouth. He knew what was coming.

“You were speeding on that thing again, weren't you?” She crossed her arms and gave him her serious look – eyes narrowed, mouth formed into a line.

He shrugged. “When I heard you were in the hospital, I had to get here as fast as I could.”

She raised her eyebrows. “Hoping Chase wouldn't beat you here?”

Pogue swallowed. He forgot she didn't know he was dead. She had been under his spell and hadn't known anything had happened. He'd tell her. Later. When she was better.

He took a deep breath. “No.” He met her eyes. “I was worried, okay. For a minute there, I thought I'd lost you.”

Her features softened as she uncrossed her arms. “Do you mean that?” Her sarcastic tone was gone.

He smiled and looked down, hoping she couldn't see the red in his cheeks. Strands of blondish-brown hair fell into his eyes and he pushed them back. “Yeah, but don't tell the guys I said that.”

She reached out and cupped his chin. “Your secret is safe with me.” Leaning forward, she kissed him, her lips as soft and warm as they'd always been. She cut it off quickly, though, hissing in a breath and sitting back.

“Bites still sore?” Pogue asked, worried. If Chase was gone, wouldn't his spell be broken? His eyes trailed her body, inspecting the fading marks.

“Yeah, a little. The doctor said it should go away in a couple of days.”

Pogue leaned forward in his chair. He could take the pain away, and she wouldn't have to know how...yet. One little spell wouldn't hurt, especially if it were for healing, right? He grinned at her, an idea in his head. “Come here.”

She returned his grin. “Why?”

“I want to give you a hug. Come here.”

She laughed, but did as he asked. He felt her body jerk against the pain as he wrapped his arms around her. God, she still felt wonderful. Once she was secure in his embrace, he relaxed and let the Power run through him. She jumped, then eased into his embrace, her muscles no longer tense. When he was sure the spell had worked, he let her go.

She peered at him. “How did you do that?”

He feigned innocence. “Do what?”

“I don't hurt anymore.” She held up her hands and wrinkled her nose, “But the bites are still here.”

“Really?” He pushed surprise into his voice. “Must be my charm.”

She shook her head and leaned back into the pillows. “Must be.” Her eyes drifted close and she yawned. “I shouldn't be tired,” she mumbled. “I just woke up.”

“Must be the drugs,” Pogue replied, but he knew she didn't hear him. She was asleep within seconds. He knew the spell would take her under as part of the healing.

He touched her face, thankful she was still his. Maybe someday he'd tell her the truth, but not now. She had to completely mend before she was strong enough to understand who he was, what he was.

“Good night,” he whispered. With that, he wheeled out of her room and down the hall to his.


© 2006 Crimson Idealist