We were all in the car by 7am. I got to sit next to Naya in the back seat and we had the cutest dialog half way to the City before she drifted off to sleep. Jace drove into work everyday. I don’t think I could manage that. I didn’t like driving in cities, and I didn’t like driving in New York City of all places.
I preferred being able to do productive things on my commute. Having to pay that much attention for the drive that far would set me on edge and I didn’t need more anxiety attacks. I was lucky that having an adult life with no schedule 80% of the time was working it as well as it was. Holiday’s in the Academy killed me. I wasn’t good with drastic changes.
We drove into the city and I couldn’t help remembering the first time I’d done so. I was so young then, so afraid of everything. Everything was so flat here. I wasn’t used to it, the air was wet and polluted, I hid my nose against my shirt sleeve to keep from having to breathe in all the new smells. It wasn’t home.
Dorian sat beside me. He’d come for me at the airport where my mother left me. She hadn’t even said goodbye. She had called me a monster and spit on me only a day before she dragged me on a plane kicking and screaming. The situation terrified me and when we took off my fear jumped into my throat and I cam close to vomiting. My mother did nothing to comfort me. I was a monster. I was no longer her son. She told me that over and over again as we flew from Boulder to JFK.
Once we landed we waited in the terminal for someone to show up. Dorian was an hour late. My mother gave him the wrong time. He was nice, and he smelled like vanilla and cinnamon. After my mother scolded him about being late, he took me to a little red car big enough to fit two people in. It looked like a clown car. My bag fit in the back but it was close. Dorian didn’t seem to mind as we drove through the City.
The buildings were so tall. I still awed at them even now that I’ve lived here the rest of my life. We are so small, so inconsequential, yet my life is meant to protect everyone around me. I was gifted with the ability to bend the elements. I didn’t think it was a gift in the beginning, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. The love of my mother was a big loss for me. There were many losses for me throughout my short life span. But I am grateful for my life – for my experiences. They made me who I am today and I’m proud of me, even if no one else is.
I knew we were getting close to the Apex Unlimited building – the home of the Venatori. Not all Venatori lived in the building, but seventy percent did. That was an actual number. There were hunters out in the world, and there were other communities – much smaller around the world in small regional headquarters. Or places like Jace’s family – those people who kept us fed and made money for us.
The entirety of our race could live in the AU building. Some years it was a ghost town, unlike now where there is more Venatori in one place than there had been in centuries. A convergence of power some said, others said it was safety in numbers. But it was a sign that things were changing that was something everyone agreed upon.
Jace parked his big black SUV in the parking garage. And he and his family headed for the elevator. I walked with them until the doors opened and my fear of heights overwhelmed my senses. The elevator looked innocuous now, but I knew once it was at ground level again, it would open into the lobby and you could see everything around you through the plate glass walls. My heart was in my throat. My pulse raced through my body. I shook my head and forced a smile on my face I knew didn’t reach my eyes. “I’m gonna take the stairs.”
Jace nodded and wrapped an arm around my shoulders in farewell before he joined his wife and daughter. I waved at Naya as the doors closed and I made my way to the stairs.