"So...you're really here, Amber?" her mother said, nervous and hopeful at the same time to empty space. Amber sighed.
"A little more to the left, ma'am." Scott said. Mrs. Harris turned red and shifted, trying to perceive her daughter. Well, her daughter's spirit. Her body was lying in the center of the floor, heart replaced, surrounded by a large array of symbols, diagrams, and burning candles.
It had been a day and a half after the battle where Scott had defeated the daemon. He had gone home to sleep and hadn't woken up, despite his mother's urging, until noon the next day. But now the time had come to finally, finally, fulfill his promise. He'd wanted to do it right away, but he had to go to school.
The rumors flying around about the party were simply insane.
"Unff. Finally done." Cross sighed, entering the warehouse. She cracked her back and tossed back her coffee. She swore it had replaced her blood by this point.
"Hey, Detective! They finally let you out to play?" Scott called out, grinning. She scowled. "Yeah. The paperwork for the incident's been impossible. I spent the last six hours going over reports, and the previous four falsifying them." she said acidly, glaring at Scott. He shrugged and dismissed her.
"It is what it is. You can always cop to what really happened if you want." She growled at him.
"Never in my life have I done anything that would disgrace my badge, and I've had to do more in the last month than the average cop on the take has to in a year." The temperature of the room dropped a few degrees at her words, but the young necromancer was unaffected.
"Eh. Pete agreed with me. Besides, we're all alive for you to complain." he pointed out, and she couldn't deny it. Cross shook her head.
"Jeez. The strings I had to pull..."
"Speaking of which, how did that other matter go? Did you pull it off?" Scott asked seriously, no trace of humor in his voice. Cross rubbed her head just thinking about it, but couldn't help noticing the hopeful glances the Harris's were sending her way.
"It took a heck of a lot of doing, you know. You have no idea of the trouble I went through." Her lips turned up into a smile. "But I finally prepared a public statement. Amber Harris was in critical condition, but was not killed in the incident as first thought. However, to prevent the Craven Falls Killer from learning this and coming back to finish the job, she was taken into protective custody and publicly pronounced deceased. It was part of an effort to ensnare the murderer. I guess we're lucky that Stephanie didn't want anyone to know she was collecting hearts, it made the official version of events easier to swallow."
Cross gave an involuntary shiver; thinking back to in her office, where she'd been weirded out at how normal everything seemed, knowing not two days before all those officers had been under the control of a coven of witches, working against her. She was looking forward to going back to Nahumville, where the criminal element used 'make him disappear' as a euphemism, not a literal description.
"Thank you, Detective Cross." Amber said politely. "When will you be transferring back?"
"Tuesday." she snorted. "And it can't come fast enough."
"Aw, y'know you love us." Scott said, grinning cheekily. Cross let out a bark of laughter.
"Listen, kid. I can't say it's been fun, but you know what you're doing. Which does give me cause to worry, in fact. If I ever need your...services in the future, I'll give you a call. I sincerely hope to never see you again." she said, shaking his hand.
"And I wholeheartedly hope you’ll never interfere in my business again. Good luck." Scott agreed, heartily accepting the shake. Amber sighed and shrugged, then gave Cross a hug.
"Don't mind him, he's just stupid."
"So, you're coming back tonight. When's the other one doing the same? I have men waiting to take her into custody." Cross said, folding her arms.
"Oh, she said she wanted to spend the day around her family, even if they can't see her. I guess she's trying to come to terms and spend some time around them before she can't for a long time." Amber said solemnly. Cross raised an eyebrow.
"And you don't think she'll try to get away?"
"Nah." Scott said, grinning. He snapped his fingers and the spectral metal chains appeared, one connected to Amber, one stretching off into the distance. "Magic binding chain. When I call, she'll come."
"If you say so, kid." Cross rolled her eyes as Mr. Harris came up to them.
"So, uh, Scott. Is everything ready yet?" he asked.
"Yeah, just about. I wanna triple-check the sigils, but everything seems to be in order. I'll begin in a minute." Scott said.
"Thank you. We're just a bit anxious, you see."
"No prob. Thanks again for the warehouse, by the way." He eagerly rubbed his hands together. "Oh man, my own secret lab. Now I can really delve into the secrets of necromancy! Just think of all the experiments I can do!" Cross shuddered.
"About that." Mr. Harris said warmly, smiling. "You do know I can't sign it over to you, right?" Scott froze in horror, his heart skipping a beat.
"W-What? B-But...but I'm..." Mr. Harris put a comforting hand on his shoulder.
"I'm doing you a favor, son. Think about it. You're fifteen, I can't legally just give it to you for no stated reason. You don't have a job, so you'd never be able to afford the quite frankly high taxes on the place either. Besides-" He cast a disdainful eye on the crumpled ceiling, full of holes. "I don't think you could afford the repair bill for the roof."
"Hey, we found a place in the woods to bury him." Scott tried to protest weakly, crestfallen. The man's arguments made too much sense.
"Don't look so down, my boy." Mr. Harris said, giving his shoulder a squeeze and handing him a check. "This is for five hundred dollars, and you can come and go as you please after school and during weekends. You already have a set of keys. I'll put in an office for you in the corner. When you're eighteen and ready to work, we'll talk. Sound like a deal?"
Scott opened his mouth, thought about it, then sighed and accepted the check.
"It's not quite as good as I hoped, but I'll take what I can get." he said, shaking his hand.
"Alright, then. Ready when you are."
"Okay." Scott clapped his hands together, checking the design. His eyes shone green. "It's showtime."
The assembled others instinctively stepped back as Scott paged through the Necronomicon. The air seemed to hum with anticipation. Amber drifted closer to Scott.
"Guess this's it." she said nervously.
"Guess so." he grunted.
"Took long enough, didn't it." She tried to smile, but it looked wan and tired.
"I'm kinda nervous, heh heh." She tugged at her ponytail. "You know, I've been looking forward to this for so long, now that the time's come, I'm...I don't know. Do you think that's weird?"
"Nah. It's normal, I think."
"Yeah. Y'know, now that it's finally happening...I realize I'll kinda miss this. Not being dead, of course, I meant-well, I think you get the picture, but sometimes you can be a little dense, I mean that I'm looking forward to coming back but-"
Scott reached out and held her hand.
"Amber. I know." Once again, she was glad she couldn't blush form embarrassment.
"'Kay. See you on the other side." She floated over to her body. "Go do that voodoo that you do so well." Scott grinned.
"You got it." He glanced at the book, then raised his hands and began chanting. "Allaghvah, goochun esteros. Allaghvah, goochun esteros. Ael shith, tivam se ael nath! Follahl xerph'um estios! Ha! Allaghvah, goochun esteros. Allaghvah, goochun esteros. Ael shith, tivam se ael nath! Follahl xerph'um estios! Ha! Allaghvah, goochun esteros. Allaghvah, goochun esteros. Ael shith, tivam se ael nath! Follahl xerph'um estios! Ha!"
The circle lit up a brilliant toxic emerald green, but that slowly gave way to a soft yellow glow the color of a setting summer sun. Amber's body began drying up and dissolving into a granular blue powder. Mrs. Harris gave a frightful cry and started forward.
"No!" Scott commanded, holding up a hand. "This is part of the process! Her body is being broken down into essential salts, which will reconstitute when joined with her spirit! Now, allaghvah, goochun esteros. Allaghvah, goochun esteros. Ael shith, tivam se ael nath! Follahl xerph'um estios! Ha! Allaghvah, goochun esteros. Allaghvah, goochun esteros. Ael shith, tivam se ael nath! Follahl xerph'um estios! Ha!" Backing away, they could only watch in amazement as the powder started to swirl and float, as if caught in an updraft.
Scott and Amber gasped in unison as the chain released and fell, fading away. The blue salt began to stick to her. She smiled. It made her body tingle, the first sensation she had felt in too long. She began to sink to the floor, more and more of the salt covering her. Amber smiled at Scott one last time before her head was covered. Scott smiled back.
"Allaghvah, goochun esteros. Allaghvah, goochun esteros. Ael shith, tivam se ael nath! Follahl xerph'um estios! Ha!"
There was a bright flash.
Darkness. Amber saw darkness.
"Ugh. Wow. Huh?" She lifted her heavy eyelids, blinking in the light. Once the fuzziness cleared away she saw her parents, wide-eyed. She saw Cross, shaking her head in wonder. She smiled as she saw her own hands, not translucent or glowing, but real flesh and blood. She saw she was-
"Naked!?" She covered herself with her hands, trembling and outraged. "Why am I naked!?"
"Don't blame me, it's the spell!" Scott yelled back, pointedly facing the opposite wall, red as a tomato. "I don't think it takes into account such, relatively, meaningless matters!"
"Meaningless? You perv!"
"I'm sorry, alright!?" Sighing, Cross handed Amber her overcoat.
"Well, it looks like the show's over and everyone pulled through." she said as Amber was swamped by her sobbing parents, who apparently were trying to crush her back to death with hugs. "Drop off the coat tomorrow. I'll be waiting. See you." She tossed a tired wave behind her and left, smiling. The case was finally closed.
"Mom, Dad, could you give us a minute?" Amber said eventually, once they had stopped blubbering how glad they were to see her again.
"Huh?" Mrs. Harris asked. Amber tilted her head to where the necromancer sat, his back still turned to them. "Ah. Okay. Only a minute, mind you. Come, dear. Let's warm up the car."
"What? But-okay?" Mr. Harris said, being dragged off by his wife. Amber chuckled and padded over, taking a seat next to Scott.
"Hey." Scott said, packing the Necronomicon away and pulling out a soda. He took a sip and made a face. It was warm and flat. "So. You're back."
"Yeah. I don't know how I can ever thank you enough." she said, but Scott waved his hand dismissively.
"'Salright. I did it for profit, anyway." he said, leaning back on his hands.
"And ended up taking on a coven of witches, the whole town, and a daemon army." Amber giggled.
"What can I say? You just gotta roll with the weird things that happen when you're a necromancer." he said smugly. Amber laughed, and so did he. After a minute, they both stared at the wall. This was it, he realized. She was leaving. "So I guess you're going home. Everyone'll be glad to have you back."
"Yeah. Though, I think my circle of friends is a little diminished." she said dryly. She took a deep breath, steeling herself. "Since the position is open...you wanna...hang out sometime?" He turned and stared at her. This time, he saw her blush.
“But, y'know I'm not exactly one of the "cool kids." I'm just the extreme taxidermy enthusiast in the back of class." She sighed and playfully smacked his head.
"I don't care about that, idiot. I told you before. You're my friend. That doesn't change just because we're not chained together anymore." Scott laughed and looked down, shaking his head. She contemplated for a moment. "Well, I don't normally do this. But, the brave hero did manage to rescue the princess from certain death, so you deserve a reward." Amber kissed him on the cheek, a quick peck that froze him solid. She got up and hurried to the door, waving. "I'll see you later! I'll get mad if I don't!" she called out, and left. Scott raised a hand to his cheek, and stared at the door for a minute before shrugging and getting up.
"Huh. So...that happened." He shook his head. He could deal with it later. "Anyway!" Scott grabbed his backpack containing his tome of eldritch knowledge, locked up his secret lab, and went off into the night, whistling a jaunty tune. The necromancer grinned as he looked up.
The stars were right.