"How did it get here?" Holiday asked, standing a few feet from the kitchen table and staring at the sword in disbelief.
"You tell me and we'll both know." Kylie gripped her hands together with concern. "How ... how could this happen?"
"How?" Burnett bellowed. "It's obvious. Someone brought it here to play a practical joke on you, but I'm not laughing and neither will they when I'm done with them." Burnett's frown deepened into a scowl.
"Removing something from Holiday's office to bring it here for a joke is going to get their ass in a sling."
He stared at Kylie. "Who all did you tell about the sword?"
"No one," Kylie said. "I didn't tell anyone. Not a soul. I've been trying really hard not to think about it.
So it can't be a prank."
"She's telling the truth," Della mouthed off. "She hasn't told us. And she tells us everything. Or she did." Della shot Kylie a frown.
"She doesn't tell us everything," Miranda piped up. "Just like some people with hickeys don't tell us everything."
Della scowled at Miranda and then looked at Kylie. "Frankly, I'd kind of like to know why we're freaking out here. It's just a sword."
Burnett continued to stare at Kylie as if still contemplating. "Then how do you suppose the sword got here?"
Kylie shrugged. "I don't know, but maybe it got here the same way it got to the falls. Magic, voodoo, or by whoever left it there."
"You found this sword at the falls?" Miranda asked. "Who would leave it there? It looks like an antique and that usually means it's worth a shitload of money."
"I don't know that either," Kylie said to Miranda. "But what I do know is that I really don't like it. So just take the thing away. Nice and safe like. And maybe put it somewhere more secure this time. Like in a vault."
"Wow," said Miranda.
"Wow what?" Burnett asked at the same time Kylie blurted out the words.
Miranda pointed to the sword. "It has an aura."
"The sword has an aura?" Holiday moved beside Miranda, looking intrigued. Kylie took another step back because she wasn't at all intrigued.
"What kind of aura?" Holiday asked the witch.
"Maybe Hayden was right. It's possessed," Burnett said.
"Wait! Can inanimate objects really be possessed?" Kylie folded her arms, not from the cold, but from feeling freaked out."No," Della said.
Miranda rolled her eyes at the vamp. "Of course they can."
"Really?" Della asked. "Cool!"
"Not cool!" Kylie snapped.
Miranda stared back at the sword. "It takes a strong witch-or a demon-to possess an object. But I don't think that's what's going on."
"Why not?" asked Holiday.
"You said it had an aura?" Burnett piped up.
"Yeah," Miranda answered, looking proud to be the one with information. "But just because an object has an aura doesn't mean it's possessed. Some things, like weapons and such, will carry an aura because emotion sort of gets soaked up into the physical matter during an attack."
"So this thing has killed a lot of people?" Kylie asked, remembering the ghost's sword and the head she so proudly brought to show Kylie.
"Probably, but I don't think it's possessed. Normally when something is possessed, it's completely evil."
"Then what kind of aura is it?" Kylie asked.
"A little bit evil," Miranda said, contradicting herself.
"Love it." Della rubbed her hands together.
Kylie moaned and focused on Miranda. "But you just said-"
"I said something that is possessed is completely evil." Miranda looked back at the sword. "This is just ... Okay, it isn't even really evil. But I can feel that it has taken lives. A lot of them. But most of its aura is about justice, and..." She tilted her head to the side and focused on the sword like she was trying to read the supernatural pattern. Her hair, streaked with pink, black, and lime-green, curtained the side of her face. "And it sounds crazy but it's also about ... courage."
"Courage?" Kylie remembered the voice she'd heard on the way to the falls. "What does it mean by courage? Ask it what it means by that?"
Miranda snickered. "Auras don't answer questions. I'm just telling you what the aura seems to exude."
"How do you know what it exudes?" Della asked.
"The colors, the intensity of the colors, and how it moves and blends together. It's sort of like reading a mood ring."
"I wish I could see auras," Della said to Miranda. "Could you like zap me the gift to see auras?"
"No," Miranda said. "No more than you can give me your ability to fly."
Kylie continued to stare at the sword, remembering the sword the ghost carried. "I still think it's somehow tied to the ghost. She could have brought it here."
"Oh, damn! Do we have a ghost here now?" Della asked.
"Not now," Holiday replied to Della, then looked back at Kylie. "Ghosts can't transport objects of real matter."
"Not true. I had one knock my phone off my nightstand," Kylie said.
"Yes, they might be able to create enough energy to nudge something small, and they can play with electronics left and right, but they can't physically move an object from one place to another. That would take an enormous amount of energy. It's impossible.""Well, that makes me feel somewhat better," Della said.
Holiday moved closer to the table. "This doesn't make sense."
"I know," Kylie said. "And that seems to be the theme song of my life right now. Not a damn thing makes sense."
Burnett carried the sword out. He refused to let Holiday touch it in case it came to life. Right as they went to leave, Kylie heard a light burpy sound from Holiday.
The fae bit down on her lip and her eyes shifted to Kylie. In spite of being weirded out by finding the aura-carrying sword on her table, she sent Holiday a sympathetic smile. She knew the fae was panicking about the possibility of being pregnant.
Not that Kylie saw it as a bad thing. It would be neat to see what a child that was half-Burnett and halfHoliday would look like.
When Holiday and Burnett were out of the cabin, Della and Miranda turned to Kylie. Della spoke first.
"Okay ... sit down and explain why you didn't tell us about the sword, and then tell us what else you've been hiding."
Kylie started to remind Della that she kept her own secrets, like just who had given her the hickey, but all of a sudden Kylie didn't mind telling them. As a matter of fact, it might help if she talked about it. It wasn't as if she'd kept any of it from them on purpose. It was like Kylie had said earlier, she hadn't wanted to think about it.
She moved to the kitchen, glancing around to make sure the sword hadn't magically reappeared. Seeing the table clear, she dropped down in a chair with a defeated sigh.
Della went to the fridge and snagged three diet sodas and passed them out. The sound of the tops being popped echoed in the small kitchen. Then Kylie started talking. Between sips of fizzy soda slipping down her throat, she told them everything. About what happened at her grandfather's place, to how the teen chameleons were treated. She covered leaving in the middle of the night because someone had plans to abduct her. Then she blurted out the hardest part-Mario showing up and how she'd almost killed Lucas.
"Well, not for nothing," Della said. "Lucas did sort of have it coming. I'll bet it felt good."
"No it didn't," Kylie insisted.
"Wait," Miranda said. "Before we get off talking about the whole boy issue, you haven't gotten to the part about the sword." She took a big sip of Diet Coke and continued to eye Kylie over the rim.
Kylie went into her visit to the falls with Holiday.
"What about this ghost?" Della asked, and looked around. "Are you gonna wig out on us again with those vision things? I mean, the last time you had that whole episode during class and I had to break down the closet door in Miss Cane's room, it really freaked me out. I swear, now every time she sees me, she has to remind me ... 'You know, I had a key to that door.' But damn, you were screaming bloody murder in there."
"I hope I don't wig out on you again." Kylie frowned. "And I apologize in advance if I do. But I have no control over that. Seriously, if either one of you were trapped in a grave with three dead girls, I'd bet you would go a little crazy, too."
"Oh, hell yeah, I would. I'd be kicking me some dead girls' asses." Della set down her soda a bit hardand the can crunched a little. "I don't know how you handle it. It must suck."
"Yeah," Kylie said, drawing circles in the condensation on her soda can. "Sometimes it sucks to be me."
"Speaking of sucking..." Miranda glared at Della. "Do you want to come clean about the hickey?"
Della rolled her eyes. "There's nothing to tell. It happened."
"How much happened?" Miranda asked. "Did you ... you know?"
"No!" Della snapped. "I didn't 'you know.' We just made out. And afterward, I wished it hadn't happened. And it won't happen again."
"Who did it happen with?" Kylie asked, stepping right into the conversation and possibly pissing Della off. But if she was making out with Steve, then maybe, in spite of what the vamp said, just maybe it would lead to something.
Della frowned. "If I tell you, will you both swear on your lives that you won't say anything? Because if you say something, I'm gonna have to kill you and then I'll feel bad. At least for a little while."
"I swear I'll never tell a soul," Miranda said.
"Me, too." Kylie leaned forward, letting her own issues slide away to concentrate on Della's.
Della backed up in her chair. "It was Steve."
"Yes," Kylie said.
"I knew you liked him." Miranda rubbed her hands together. "Details, we want details."
Della placed both hands on the table and leaned down low, looking up at them with an angry glare and showing a bit of her canines. "I don't give details, remember?"
"Okay, no details," Kylie said. "But explain why it was a mistake. And why it won't happen again.
Because I mean, it was obviously good."
"Because ... I didn't say it was good."
"Oh, please," Miranda said. "You got a hickey, so you must have been into it for it to have gotten that far." Miranda glanced at Kylie for backup. "Right, Kylie?"
Kylie leaned her elbows on the table. "Not being a hickey expert, I wouldn't know for sure, but it would seem that way." She looked at Della. "So you weren't ever into it?"
Della let go of a low growl. "Okay, I might have been into it for a few seconds."
"It takes longer than a few seconds to get a hickey." Miranda wiggled in her chair, obviously loving that Della was finally talking.
"You are so dang pushy!" Della said.
"How long does it take to get a hickey?" Kylie asked.
Miranda picked up her diet soda. "A minute, give or take a few seconds, depending how hard the guy is sucking."
"Doesn't it hurt?" Kylie asked, trying to imagine someone sucking on her for that long.
"No," both Miranda and Della said at the same time.
"It kind of feels good." Miranda smiled at Della. "Doesn't it?"
"I guess." Della rolled her eyes as if hating to admit she enjoyed anything, but then the vamp grinned.
"Do you want me to introduce you to my vacuum cleaner?"
"Oh, screw the vacuum cleaner," Miranda said. "Kylie should go after Steve. I mean, she's pissed at both Derek and Lucas, and Steve's available because you aren't into him anymore, and he obviously knows how to do hickeys."Della scowled at Miranda. "I don't think so."
Miranda wiggled her butt in her chair again. "Because you still like him. Because you want him to give you another hickey. Admit it. Just admit it."
"You're obnoxious," Della said.
"Yeah, she is." Kylie arched a brow at Della. "But the witch has a point."
"Well, she can keep her points to herself!" Della picked up her can and crushed it in her hand. And then Della's eyes went wide. "Shit!"
"What?" Kylie asked.
"It's back," Della said in a singsong spooky voice.
"What's back?" Kylie asked, but she was afraid she knew. She turned around and sure as hell, the sword was on the sofa.
Kylie hadn't wanted to call Burnett and Holiday again, but Della refused to sleep with a possessed sword in the cabin. Miranda, who told Della again it wasn't possessed, wouldn't have minded either way.
Respecting Della's feelings, and completely understanding them, Kylie borrowed Della's phone and called Burnett and Holiday.
Before Holiday and Burnett left with the sword again, he issued an order. "This doesn't go any further.
None of you tell a soul, you got that?"
"Why?" Kylie asked, confused why he saw this as some sort of a secret.
"I'm already explaining too much to the FRU. And this just makes them more eager to get you in for testing. This is best kept hushed until we figure it out."
If we figure it out, Kylie thought, but didn't say it.
As Burnett and Holiday started out, Kylie followed them out on the porch. Holiday leaned in and whispered, "We're taking it, but if it's done this twice, I'm not sure it won't just do it again."
"I know." Which was Kylie's reason for not really wanting to call them this time. Hopefully if the sword found its way back, it would follow Kylie into her bedroom and not disturb Della. Even with the chill climbing up her backbone at the thought of sleeping in the same room with an aura-carrying sword, it was better than having Della in a frenzy and making Burnett and Holiday come back again.
Kylie just hoped that Miranda was right and that the sword wasn't a weapon intent on evil.