Once back at the house, they got out of the limo, and Ethan nonchalantly saluted the driver.  Something about that gesture disturbed Eve, and she wasn’t sure why.  Ethan often gestured like that instead of saying good-bye.  He hated good-byes.  But even so, something about the way he did it bothered her.

            “Unbelievable!”  Lamb was saying as they entered the house.  Everyone had remained completely silent in the car after Lamb told the driver to skip the hospital and just take them home.  No one knew what to say.  But now Lamb certainly talked a lot.

            “How did you do that, Jason?”  He asked, “Oh, never mind.  The real question is, could you do it again?  Do you have any idea what this means?”  He went on and on, not letting anyone answer his questions.  It seemed to be a way for him to think out loud, and they just let him do it.

            While the others waited for Lamb to stop talking, Genevieve went out onto the deck.  She held her hand and looked long and hard at it.  She had washed off the blood, so it looked like an ordinary hand.  There was absolutely nothing wrong with it.  Jason had healed her somehow.  It was absurd, impossible, ridiculous, but there it was.  She knew it was part of something bigger, as the visions must also be, but she didn’t know what that was.  Whatever it was, it would come in time, whether she wanted it to or not.  She was sure of that. 

            What really concerned her now was Ethan’s increasingly strange behaviour.  He had been quiet and brooding lately, but that had happened before in the past.  He hadn’t behaved that way in a long time, so far as she could recall, but that wasn’t so much strange as unusual.  Tonight had been strange.  More than that, it had been frightening.  She had never seen him so angry, so enraged that he lashed out in violence.  Violence and Ethan were not two concepts that went together.  Everyone that knew him knew that.  He was as gentle as a baby, or a lamb.

            She abruptly cocked her head, as if suddenly struck out of the blue with a thought.  He had done something like this once before, several years ago.  So long ago that she hardly remembered it, but it had happened.  Once. 

It had been summer vacation.  They had rented a cottage, by that lake.  What had it been called?  Chalk Lake?  Genevieve could still picture the wooded hillside with the cabin, and the lake at the bottom of the hill, named for the chalk deposits in its bed.  They had gone canoeing and swimming – it was a happy place for her.  She could still remember the smell of the place, the wet lake and the fertile green woods in the summer heat.

            Ethan had hated it.  He hated school because he was ostracized and picked on.  Summer should have been a refuge, but not when he went to the cottage.  There were boys there around his age, some younger, some older.  The locals.  They picked on him because he wasn’t one of them.  Same old story, as far as Ethan was concerned.  He avoided them as much as possible, and so rarely went into the nearby town with the family.  He’d say he had a headache, or was busy reading, and would beg off.

            They had fireworks on the first of July, for Canada Day, and his mother made him go to that.  Sometime in the middle of the festivities, the boys from town would corner him and call him names and push him around.  They never hit him, knowing that they could get in trouble if they gave him a black eye or something, and he never told anyone, so his parents never found out.  Only Genevieve knew, and that’s because she saw it happen one year. 

            When Ethan was twelve and Evie was eleven, they went to the cottage.  It was the year when their grandfather died, and Ethan had taken it badly.  They had been very close, Grandpa was pretty much Ethan’s best friend.  They had joked around together and sang songs and told nonsense stories.  Ethan was even quieter than usual as a result of his passing.

            When it came time to go to the fireworks, Ethan didn’t even attempt to get out of it.  He just marched towards his fate like a prisoner headed for the inevitable gallows.  Genevieve followed him to the playground, where he always went to be alone, instead of watching the fireworks.  She was worried about him, and wanted to make sure he was okay.

            She saw him sit on a swing and just kind of droop, resting his head against its chain.  He was dragging his foot in the sand, idly drawing in the dirt with the toe of his shoe.  She could hear the crackle of the sand beneath his feet as his toe dug its furrow.  He knew what was coming, and made no move to get away or hide.

            The bullies came then, emerging like hunters from the beach where everyone else was watching as the fireworks began.  As the fireworks exploded in bright haloes of coloured fire, they circled around him like vultures around a dying animal.  Genevieve could picture this in her mind’s eye, and when the bullies started calling Ethan names and obscenities, the vultures of her imagination began cawing and shrieking.  The mental picture disturbed her, so she shook it away.

            That’s when the bullies began shoving her brother, and knocked him into the sand.  She rushed forward then, indignant that someone would treat her beloved older brother like this.  She struck one bully on the arm in an attempt to get him away from Ethan, and they all looked at her in surprise.  She had hit their leader, a tall boy of about fourteen, the toughest one of them all.  He looked at her in an amused sort of way, and then shoved her, sending her sprawling into the sand of the playground.  He laughed callously, grinning at his friends.

            That’s when Ethan got angry.  He had endured bullies at school every day for years, and put up with these thugs once a year, but then no one had ever touched his sister before.  They soon regretted it.  All the repressed rage that Ethan had been bottling up for years came out for an instant.  He had never given any thought to defending himself, but defending his sister didn’t even require thought.  It was pure instinct, a primal force.  If anyone asked him why he defended her, he would have answered simply that it was because he loved her.

            Years later, if someone had asked why he never defended himself, Hope would have answered, just as simply, that he didn’t love himself.

            To Genevieve, who saw it happen, it all occurred in slow motion.  To the leader of the bullies, who never saw it coming, it was over in an instant.  Ethan saw Evie fall, and a smouldering blaze set fire to his cold blue eyes.  He brushed sand from his lip with one hand, and pushed himself up with the other.  His hands became fists, pulled so tightly together that they were as white as bone, his muscles shaking with the tension in his hands and arms.  Ethan pulled his head back and then snapped it forward in a sudden, violent jerking motion, and cracked the bully in the nose with the top of his head.  Blood spurted everywhere, and the tall boy was suddenly on the ground, clutching his bloodied nose and crying.

            His cronies scattered to the four winds, and Ethan led his sister away from the crying teenager on the ground, back to the crowd and their parents and the fireworks.

            The next summer, the bullies left Ethan and his sister alone.

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