Passion, p.6
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       Passion, p.6

         Part #3 of Fallen series by Lauren Kate
 
Page 6

 

  The pain on his face took hold of Luces heart and squeezed, wringing her out completely. On top of all the pain and confusion she felt, seeing his agony was worse.

  This was how he felt every life.

  Every death.

  Over and over and over again.

  Luce had been wrong to imagine that Daniel was selfish. It wasnt that he didnt care. It was that he cared so much, it wrecked him. She still hated it, but she suddenly understood his bitterness, his reservations about everything. Miles might very well love her, but his love was nothing like Daniels.

  It never could be.

  Daniel! she cried, and left the shadows, racing toward him.

  She wanted to return all the kisses and embraces shed just witnessed him giving to her past self. She knew it was wrong, that everything was wrong.

  Daniils eyes widened. A look of abject horror crossed his face.

  What is this? he said slowly. Accusingly. As if he hadnt just let his Luschka die. As if Luces being there was worse than watching Luschka die. He raised his hand, painted black with ash, and pointed at her. Whats going on?

  It was agony to have him look at her this way. She stopped in her tracks and blinked a tear away.

  Answer him, someone said, a voice from the shadows. How did you get here?

  Luce would have recognized the haughty voice anywhere. She didnt need to see Cam step out of the doorway of the bomb shelter.

  With a soft snap and rumble like an enormous flag being unfurled, he extended his great wings. They stretched out behind him, making him even more magnificent and intimidating than usual. Luce couldnt keep herself from staring. They cast a gold-hued glow on the dark street.

  Luce squinted, trying to make sense of the scene in front of her. There were more of them, more figures lurking in the shadows. Now they all stepped forward.

  Gabbe. Roland. Molly. Arriane.

  All of them were there. All with their wings arched tightly forward. A shimmering sea of gold and silver, blindingly bright on the dark street. They looked tense. Their wing tips quivered, as if ready to spring into battle.

  For once, Luce didnt feel intimidated by the glory of their wings or the weight of their gazes. She felt disgusted.

  Do you all watch it every time? she asked.

  Luschka, Gabbe said in an even voice. Just tell us whats going on.

  And then Daniil was there, gripping her shoulders. Shaking her.

  Luschka!

  Im not Luschka! Luce shouted, breaking away from him and backing up a half dozen steps.

  She was horrified. How they could live with themselves? How they could all just sit back and watch her die?

  It was all too much. She wasnt ready to see this.

  Why are you looking at me like that? Daniil asked. Shes not who you think she is, Daniil, Gabbe said. Luschkas dead. This is . . . this is--

  "What is she?" Daniil asked. How is she standing here? When--

  Look at her clothes. Shes clearly--

  Shut up, Cam, she might not be, Arriane said, but she looked fearful, too, that Luce might be whatever Cam was about to say she was. Another shrieking from the air, and then a blast of artillery shells raining down on the buildings across the street, deafening Luce, igniting a wooden warehouse. The angels had no concern for the war going on around them, only for her. There were twenty feet now between Luce and the angels, and they looked as wary of her as she felt of them. None of them drew closer.

  In the light from the smoldering building, Daniils shadow was thrown far ahead of his body. She focused on summoning it to her. Would it work? Her eyes narrowed, and every muscle in her body tensed. She was still so clumsy at this, never knowing what it took to get the shadow into her hands.

  When the dark lines began to quiver, she pounced. She gripped the shadow with both hands and started twirling the dark mass into a ball, just as shed seen her teachers, Steven and Francesca, do on one of her first days at Shoreline. Just-summoned Announcers were always messy and amorphous. They needed first to be spun into a distinct contour. Only then could they be pulled and stretched into a larger flat surface. Then the Announcer would transform: into a screen through which to glimpse the past--or into a portal through which to step.

  This Announcer was sticky, but she soon pulled it apart, guided it into shape. She reached inside and opened the portal.

  She couldnt stay here any longer. She had a mission now: to find herself alive in another time and learn what price the Outcasts had referred to, and eventually, to trace the origin of the curse between Daniel and her.

  Then to break it.

  The others gasped as she manipulated the Announcer.

  When did you learn how to do that? Daniil whispered.

  Luce shook her head. Her explanation would only baffle Daniil.

  Lucinda! The last thing she heard was his voice calling out her true name.

  Strange, shed been looking right at his stricken face but hadnt seen his lips move. Her mind was playing tricks.

  Lucinda! he shouted once more, his voice rising in panic, just before Luce dove headfirst into the beckoning darkness.

  Chapter Two

  HEAVEN SENT

  MOSCOW OCTOBER 15, 1941

  Lucinda! Daniel shouted again, but too late: In that instant she was gone. He had only just emerged into the bleak, snow-swept landscape. Hed felt a flash of light behind him and the heat of a blaze nearby, but all he could see was Luce. He rushed toward her on the darkened street corner. She looked tiny in someone elses threadbare coat. She looked scared. Hed watched her open up a shadow and then--

  No!

  A rocket smashed into a building behind him. The ground quaked, the street bucked and split, and a shower of glass and steel and concrete gathered up in the air and then rained down.

  After that, the street went deadly quiet. But Daniel barely noticed. He just stood in disbelief among the debris.

  Shes going further back, he muttered, brushing the dust from his shoulders.

  Shes going further back, someone said.

  That voice. His voice. An echo?

  No, too close for an echo. Too clear to have come from inside his head.

  Who said that? He dashed past a tangled mess of scaffolding to where Luce had been.

  Two gasps.

  Daniel was facing himself. Only not quite himself--an earlier version of himself, a slightly less cynical version of himself. But from when? Where was he?

  Dont touch! Cam shouted at both of them. He was dressed in an officers fatigues, combat boots, and a bulky black coat. At the sight of Daniel, his eyes blazed.

  Unwittingly, both Daniels had drawn closer, stepping around one another in a cautious circle in the snow. Now they reared back.

  Stay away from me, the older one warned the newer. Its dangerous.

  I know that, Daniel barked. Dont you think I know that? Just being this close made his stomach lurch. I was here before. I am you.

  What do you want?

  Im-- Daniel looked around, trying to get his bearings. After thousands of years of living, of loving Luce and losing her, the tissue of his memories had grown ragged. Repetition made the past hard to recall. But this place wasnt so long ago, this place he remembered--

  Desolate city. Snow on the streets. Fire in the sky.

  It could have been one of a hundred wars.

  But there--

  The place on the street where the snow had melted. The dark crater in the sea of white. Daniel sank to his knees and reached for the ring of black ash stained on the ground. He closed his eyes. And he remembered the precise way she had died in his arms.

  Moscow. 1941.

  So this was what she was doing--tunneling into her past lives. Hoping to understand.

  The thing was, there was no rhyme or reason to her deaths. More than anyone, Daniel knew that.

  But there were certain lifetimes when hed tried to shed some light for her, hoping
it would change things. Sometimes hed hoped to keep her alive longer, though that never really worked. Sometimes-- like this time during the siege of Moscow--hed chosen to send her on her way more quickly. To spare her. So that his kiss could be the last thing she felt in that lifetime.

  And those were the lifetimes that cast the longest shadows across the eons. Those were the lifetimes that stood out and drew Luce like filings to a magnet as she stumbled through the Announcers. Those lives when hed revealed to her what she needed to know, even though knowing it would destroy her.

  Like her death in Moscow. He remembered it keenly and felt foolish. The daring words hed whispered, the deep kiss hed given her. The blissful realization on her face as she died. It had changed nothing. Her end was exactly the same as always.

  And Daniel was exactly the same afterward, too: Bleak. Black. Empty. Gutted. Inconsolable.

  Gabbe stepped forward to kick snow over the ring of ash where Luschka had died. Her featherlight wings glowed in the night and a shimmering aura surrounded her body as she hunched over in the snow. She was crying.

  The rest of them came closer, too: Cam. Roland. Molly. Arriane.

  And Daniil, long-ago Daniel, rounded out their motley group.

  If youre here to warn us about something, Arriane called, then say your piece and go. Her iridescent wings folded forward, almost protectively. She stepped in front of Daniil, who looked a little green.

  It was unlawful and unnatural for the angels to interact with their earlier selves. Daniel felt clammy and faint--whether that was because he was having to relive Luces death or because he was so close to his previous self, he couldnt say.

  Warn us? Molly sneered, walking in a circle around Daniel. Why would Daniel Grigori go out of his way to warn us about anything? She got in his face, taunting him with her copper-colored wings. No, I remember what hes up to--this one has been skipping through the past for centuries. Always searching, always late.

  No, Daniel whispered. That couldnt be. Hed set out to catch her and he would.

  What she means to ask, Roland said to Daniel, is what transpired to bring you here? From whenever youre coming from?

  Id almost forgotten, Cam said, massaging his temples. He is after Lucinda. She has fallen out of time. He turned to Daniel and raised an eyebrow. Maybe now youll forsake your pride and ask for our help?

  I dont need help.

  Seems as if you do, Cam jeered.

  Stay out of it, Daniel spat. Youre enough trouble to us later.

  Oh, how fun. Cam clapped. Youve given me something to look forward to.

  This is a dangerous game youre playing, Daniel, Roland said.

  "I know that. "

  Cam laughed a dark, sinister laugh. So. Weve finally reached the endgame, havent we?

  Gabbe swallowed. So . . . somethings changed?

  Shes figuring it out! Arriane said. Shes opening up Announcers and stepping through and shes still alive!

  Daniels eyes blazed violet. He turned away from all of them, looking back at the ruins of the church, the first place where hed laid eyes on Luschka. I cant stay. I have to catch her. Well, from what I remember, Cam said softly, you never will. The past is already written, brother.

  Your past, maybe. But not my future. Daniel couldnt think straight. His wings burned inside his body, aching to be released. She was gone. The street was empty. No one else to worry about.

  He threw his shoulders back and let them out with a whoosh. There. That lightness. That deepest freedom. He could think more clearly now. What he needed was a moment alone. With himself. He shot the other Daniel a look and took off into the sky.

  Moments later, he heard the sound again: the same whoosh of wings unfurling--the sound of another pair of wings, younger wings, taking flight from the ground below.

  Daniels earlier self caught up with him in the sky. Where to?

 
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