New Winslow S7E4
Andrew was burning. He knew it was a lot of things. Exhaustion, fear, guilt, and the side effects of the five different tracking spells he’d tried in the past three hours. Ever since leaving Iris’s shop, he’d been looking for new ones in his own growing collection and trying them immediately. Two were absolute duds, not even making a single change. One was hopeful for a moment until it led him to Noah’s closet like a really stupid bloodhound. And the other two were even worse, draining his energy and charging, but not actually doing anything.
He was now lying on the carpet in Olivia’s living room with Noah’s leather jacket around his shoulders, waiting for the burning to subside. It was fine, he wasn’t actually on fire, not like Iris had been that time in her shop. If anything, he just had a terrible fever from what he was doing.
Liv’s front door creaked opened, and he pulled himself up, hoping against hope that it was Noah. Instead, Cleo was walking in the door. She dropped her bag and hurried over to where he was lying.
“Andrew, what the hell?” she demanded as she helped him sit up. “Are you okay?”
“Fine,” he murmured.
“You’re burning up,” she said. “Holy shit, you’re bright red.”
Her hands were cool against his cheeks and Andrew let his eyes fall shut just for a second. “It’s the spells,” he said. “I’m fine, don’t worry.”
“How the hell am I supposed to not worry?” Cleo demanded. “Come on, you need to take a break or you’re going to get hurt.”
He nodded, leaning back against the couch. “Mia’s asleep,” he said, motioning toward what used to be his bedroom. “Liv’s still out. I should have stopped him.”
“What actually happened?” Cleo asked gently, sitting down on the rug beside him. “Liv told me some of it, but I couldn’t understand everything she was saying.”
He started laying out what had happened, starting with how apparently Noah’s sleepwalking had tied in with the curse. How Iris had been helping him remember what he dreamed on those nights. And how it apparently meant that a ghost had been connecting with Noah and witnessing the kid’s death sent him into shock.
“I fucked up,” Andrew said. “Cleo, I messed up so bad. I should have made him stop. I should have woken him up or – or just done something. I knew it was a bad idea, but he was so insistent and I just-“
She held him tightly as he screamed against her, his voice thankfully muffled by her jacket. She didn’t know what to say, so she just held on tightly as he sobbed. Little by little, he quieted down and she stayed where she was, holding him too tightly against her chest.
After a little while, she looked down and noticed he was asleep, breathing softly against her. He still felt hot and sweaty against her, but his color seemed to be going back to normal. Cleo pushed his hair back from where his usual spikes were plastered to his forehead. She stayed where she was for a long moment and would have gladly stayed here all night with him if he needed her to. But then she heard a little voice.
The door to Mia’s nursery creaked open, and she was standing there, blinking sleepily in the glow of her pink nightlight. She wore one of Noah’s Red Sox t-shirts, the hem nearly falling past her feet. “Where Mama?”
“It’s alright, sweetie,” Cleo said awkwardly.
She eased Andrew off of her, sliding a couch pillow under his head and draping a purple blanket over him. Mia watched, chewing on her fingers as Cleo walked over. “What’s wrong, Mia?” Cleo asked.
She said it so matter-of-factly. Maybe it was a kid thing. Cleo would have gone through eight different variations of trying to play it off. But right now she was feeling raw and ragged and protective. “Me too, sweetie,” she said.
Mia reached up and took her hand as Cleo tried to swallow the lump in her throat. “Did you have a bad dream?” she asked.
Mia shook her head. “Where Mama?”
“Mama will be home later.”
Mia reached for her and Cleo picked her up, bringing her back over to her bed. It was a tiny bed, but looked so mature compared to the crib that had been in here when Cleo and Andrew came back a year and a half ago. Cleo helped Mia climb in and pulled the Lion King comforter up as Mia laid down. She was about to leave when Mia grabbed her hand again.
“You want me to stay?”
Mia nodded, her eyes huge. Cleo wanted to go back out to Andrew, but she knew he’d rather she stay in here for a few minutes. More than anything, she wanted to be out looking for Noah. But there was no way she could either leave Andrew alone or leave him in charge of Mia in the state he was in. So she was staying.
She sat down on the bed next to Mia, running her hand through Mia’s light curls. She had Liv’s hair. Hell, she had Liv’s everything, they were identical. Apparently satisfied that Mommy wasn’t gone forever, Mia settled in, clutching a stained stuffed rabbit in one hand and gripping Cleo’s hand with the other. Cleo surprised herself as she started humming, singing old lullabies she half-remembered her own mother singing to her as a kid.
By the time the front door creaked open, Mia was long asleep and Cleo was singing lullabies to herself more than anyone. She gently slid out of the bed and walked out to the living room.
Liv looked wrecked, as bad as Andrew had when she got there a little while earlier. Once again, Cleo pushed aside her own fear and went straight over, pulling Liv into a tight hug. “I don’t know what to do,” Olivia said into Cleo’s chest.
“It’ll be alright,” Cleo told them both, the words feeling rote and wooden as she said them.
“I went everywhere he might be,” Olivia continued, glancing down at Andrew asleep on the floor, then up at Cleo. She looked so defeated.
She managed to convince Olivia to get a few hours of sleep before going back out. Once Liv was finally in her room, Cleo allowed herself to sit on the couch and silently cry.
He wasn’t breathing. Andrew was screaming beside her as Iris tried to wake Noah, over and over, shaking him and screaming too. But he wouldn’t breathe and he wouldn’t wake up.
“Wake up!” she yelled, shaking him by the shoulders as his head flopped forward. “You have to wake up, none of it is real!”
None of this was supposed to happen. They found Billy McBride, finally, and now they could move onto the next steps in breaking the curse. And if Noah would just wake up, then they could do it. He said he wanted this, why wasn’t he waking up?
But then he opened his mouth and a waterfall of ocean water spilled out as his body fell to the wooden floor of Iris’s shop with a dull thud, his skin gray and mottled, seaweed tangled around him. He was dead and his lifeless, milky eyes stared up at Iris. And-
The sound of smashing glass woke her up and Iris was up and moving before she was fully conscious. She picked up a decorative fireplace poker as she moved through the shop, spotting the source of the noise immediately.
The front window was shattered, the same one that Roland had destroyed over the winter. And she knew that it was him again. He couldn’t get in the shop, so he was voicing his displeasure at – what, exactly? She wasn’t sure – by shattering windows whenever he could. And the wards that she’d laced into the molding around the window yesterday must have melted in the unnaturally hot sun, giving him that chance.
Her dream still lingered as she swept up the broken glass and she hoped that when she checked her phone, there’d be a message from Andrew saying that Noah had been found unharmed. But she knew there wouldn’t be.
She’d fallen asleep down here trying tracking spells with Andrew, hadn’t she? Iris noticed the way the blanket had crumpled beside her and a wild combination of guilt and gratitude filled her as she made her way upstairs.
Her dream still lingered in her mind, coming through in vivid color every time she closed her eyes. By the time the sun rose, Iris had tried three more useless tracking spells, finally falling asleep on her bedroom floor.