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xTony

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xTony last won the day on October 12 2012

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    doctor who, misfits, psych is clearly awesome, saved by the bell, science nerds, southland, star trek, stealing cars-ryan atwood, veronica mars, what the deuce♥, wicked, wizards, zefron

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  1. For some reason I can’t update any of my stories on here. That’s weird. But I published the last part of Reflecting Equation on Nifty and it’s officially the ending to the Chosen series. Here’s the link.

    1. Sweetlion

      Sweetlion

      Thanks for the update. You can ask some of the administrators help with the upload. I don't know if @Cia is the right one.

    2. Cia

      Cia

      If you'll look at your member group, you'll note that you're back to 'newbie' due to your lack of site activity, which means you do not have access to the Stories archive or functions as an author on the site. Go "purchase" the author group again and you should be fine. If not, PM me. 

  2. Editing the ending to Heaven's Trumpet and I should really split this up into 3 chapters, but that'll mean cliff hangovers and I don't want to do that ugh. It seems so weird to have a 25k word chapter, but it's better than a longer wait I guess.

  3. Adam was giving me the silent treatment. I’m not sure how I felt about that. I gave him a sweet smile and his glare intensified. Oh. He wasn’t going to let this go. I poked him on the shoulder. “You real mad, huh?” His eyes narrowed. I leaned back against the door of my car as the bell for study hall rang across campus. Technically, study hall was supposed to be spent in homeroom, but it wasn’t mandatory just as long as you stayed on school grounds. I squinted against the glare of the sun. “So, I heard that Lacey’s pregnant,” I said to fill the stony silence. “Killian doesn’t mess around, huh? The cheerleaders want her off the team.” Adam rolled his eyes. I sighed. “You’re not going to talk to me forever?” He frowned slightly and stared at me with a blank look. A knot formed in my stomach when he didn’t say anything. Adam looked away with a sigh. He closed his eyes and pressed his lips together. I reached toward him, and the distance between us was small but it felt larger. My hand dropped and I absently curled my fingers into the hem of my shirt, the tips tingling with a phantom touch. We stood there in silence. When Adam finally moved it was away and across from me. I flinched at the action and he didn’t look at me. I didn’t move, didn’t blink and it felt like I wasn’t even breathing. “Adam, please,” I started to say, but he shifted and his hands reached out to rest on my waist and I unleashed the breath I was holding. Don’t be mad at me, I want to say, and thank you for not pulling away. But I kept silent. Instead, I reached up with my fingertips tracing his hairline, cheekbone and down to the curve of his jaw. I wanted to just wrap him in my arms and wish us tomorrow. And take us to places where things were easier and nothing was expected of us. “Please don’t do this,” Adam said quietly. I tensed up then leaned forward to rest my forehead on the curve of his neck. I brushed my nose against the pulse point there. “I can’t just let this go,” I said, my voice was equally as soft. “I need to see him. M’sorry.” His grip tightened and his fingers settled at the small of my back. “Your brother has always been your Achilles’ heel, but you have to let it go this time. Please.” I pulled away and his arms fell limply to his sides. “You can’t stop me from doing this.” There was a whisper of magic in that instant. I stiffened as it blanketed the immediate area in a subtle hint of power. A shimmery dome flared into existence, unnoticeable to anyone not attuned to magic. “The hell?” I started forward. Nathaniel leaned against the side of a pickup truck. He lifted his hand in greeting and the ring around his finger glinted in the sunlight. I stared at the magical foci. I knew that power felt familiar. He gave me a small nod and I rolled my eyes, spotting both Ryan and Killian. Ryan sat on the hood of a nearby car. Killian stood apart from him with his arms crossed. “And the whole gang’s back together.” I raised my eyebrow at Nathaniel. “Nice veil.” Nathaniel squinted up at the sun, turning away from my glare. “No one can see or hear us. We have complete privacy.” I narrowed my eyes. “You guys trying to talk me out of this too?” I turned to my boyfriend. “You move quick.” “You didn’t leave me much of a choice. I had to stop you somehow.” I took a step away from him. “I didn’t know I needed to be stopped.” Ryan smiled kindly. “Think of this as an intervention.” “Before you do something insane,” Killian added needlessly. I sighed. “Look, guys. I plan on coming back. It’s not like this is some suicide mission.” At least that was what I was telling myself. I was counting on the angels not outright smiting me since I was the son of a First God and magic’s champion. I was crossing my fingers on that plan. It had some holes in it. Nathaniel frowned. “Chad your plan is to break into Heaven–-” “The Silver City,” I corrected. “Different place.” He rolled his eyes. “The stronghold of the angelic choir then. You really don’t see the flaw in this?” I didn’t answer. “Do you know what Celeste is? What the angels are?” Nathaniel continued green eyes boring into me. “They’re Chosen. Not like you boys... a higher order, if you want to get down to it.” We were struck speechless. I cleared my throat. “What?” “You boys protect this planet, and the solar system to an extent. But the angels are tasked with the safekeeping of the universe. Before there was Chosen the angels of Heaven protected the cosmos. They still do to an extent, but not to the degree that they once did eons ago.” Killian blinked. “Why not? We could use a little help.” “The Last Great War. They fought a powerful enemy and their side was decimated before they claimed victory. Celeste is one of the few angels left from that war.” Nathaniel rubbed the back of his neck. He looked tired and so very worried. “Those left are the fiercest soldiers of Heaven. If you cross them...” That was a sobering thought. Kevin was powerful. He was an example of Heaven’s might. An enemy that could cut down the forces of heaven had to be fearsome indeed. This was something taught in Sunday school. I looked away. “I just want to see my brother. He’s gone because of me. He attacked the clones on my order and he got banished because of it.” A bitter laugh escaped. “He’s the Crown Prince. I’m not supposed to be ordering my older brother around in the first place.” “Is this about guilt?” Ryan asked with compassion softening his tone. I shook my head “This is about family.” Nathaniel smiled kindly. “You know Celeste wouldn’t let anything happen to Kevin.” That was the thing. I wasn’t so sure about that. Adam nodded. “He’s right. She even said Kevin was okay, remember?” He slipped his fingers into my hand. “I’m only saying this because I worry. Let's just wait a while.” I held his gaze for a long moment that seemed to stretch on longer than the few seconds it lasted. His shoulders sagged when I nodded, relief visibly appearing over his face. “Okay,” I said. “I’ll hold up.” I mustered up a half smile in response to his brilliant grin. Nathaniel clapped me on the shoulder still wearing that same placating smile. “I’m glad you agree,” he said. “We care about Kevin, but this isn’t the way.” I looked away and muttered, “Yeah.” Really there was nothing else I could say. Killer clones were on the loose and my brother was beyond cell phone rage. Things needed to start looking up soon or I was going to develop a complex. I wasn’t in the mood to sit at home. It was almost seven at night and the sun sat low on the horizon as I walked the boardwalk near Dog Beach. I was at war with my thoughts and the cool ocean air was just what I needed to clear my head. The downfall of being a leader, there was always a weight on my shoulders. I smiled at a kid chasing a puppy down onto the shoreline. He narrowly avoided clipping a photographer. The man’s assistants managing the lighting gear shouted after him to be careful. It wasn’t my first time seeing a photo shoot on the beach. It was, however, the first time that I knew the model. Okay, so Killian was hot. I get that. Seeing him posing in little black swim trunks was a reminder, to say the least. His hair was slicked back, wet, and dark blond against his sun-kissed skin. He was broad in the shoulders and chest. His waist was slim and seemed to go on forever. Involuntarily my eyes traced the thin line of hair that went down from his belly button and disappearing into his trunks. I watched for a few minutes as Killian twisted into poses that would put Greek statues to shame. The photographer was enthusiastic in his praise, loudly encouraging Killian through the remainder of the shoot. They continued until the sun finally set and they lost the light. Only then did they call it a day and began to pack it up. Killian changed into a pair of basketball shorts and a faded black tee. He was all smiles as the crew moved around packing up and congratulating him on a good job. It was no more than a few minutes afterward that Killian spotted me. His eyebrows rose in surprise and half jogged across the sand with a confused frown. “Hey,” I said in greeting. “Nice moves.” Killian smothered a smirk, but his lips twitched. “Adding stalking to your resume?” I scoffed. “Conceited much. You ain’t no Zac Efron, hooker.” “That’s a compliment in my book.” I rolled my eyes. “You keep right on thinking that.” “Someone has to thinking for the two of us.” There was no hiding my smile. “Aww, are you saying that I’m the looks out of the two of us.” “With that hair?” Killian scoffed with a short laugh. “The haircut you’ve had since middle school.” My eyes got real big. “You’ve noticed? I mean, I was ever so hoping you would. Do you want to run your fingers through it?” Killian took a step back. “I’d die first.” I smiled for real. “Nice photo shoot. I want to see the pictures whenever they come out. I think they might be halfway decent.” “It’s for a calendar,” Killian replied offhandedly, but his smile was proud. He scrubbed a hand down his face and made a face. “This is not okay. It’s always creepy whenever we have civil conversations. Hold on, I need a minute here.” A smirk slid across my face. “I would like nothing out of you but breathing and very little of that.” He sighed with a pleased smile. “That’s better.” I stared at his shirt. It looked off on him for some reason. Something about the style, then it came to me. “Is that Ryan’s shirt?” Killian flushed and the tips of ears went red. His fingers twisted in the thin fabric. “Maybe?” “It totally is.” His eyes narrowed. “Okay and what of it?” “Nothing,” I shook my head, chuckling. “I think it’s cute actually.” Killian scratched at his head and I was momentarily startled at how shy his face turned. His eyes were fixed on a spot on the ground. This demeanor surprised the hell out of me. It was so…odd. And unlike him. “I’m trying to win him back,” Killian admitted quietly. “It..wasn’t supposed to go this far.” I wasn’t expecting that. I bit my lip. There had been a lot of hurt feelings going around lately. I couldn’t blame him for doing what he did. If I was in his shoes I don’t know if I would’ve done differently. “I think you two will be alright,” I said and meaning it. “He wants you back. I know he does.” Killian looked up with a tentative smile. “You think? Sometimes I think so too and then he gets so mad at me.” “Yeah, you might want to lay off Lacey some. She really hasn’t done anything.” “Besides trying to take my boyfriend,” he said fiercely. “Right,” I replied slowly because really, there was no arguing with him at this point. “I’m pretty sure Ryan wants you back too. You just have to step your game up. The boy wants to feel wanted.” Killian regarded me curiously. “You’ve been watching teen romcom movies haven’t you?” “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I replied, hoping the squeak in my voice was in my imagination. He smirked. “Homo.” “Takes one to know one.” “Point,” he agreed easily. We grinned at each other and an uneasy feeling of vertigo swept through me. A pier that overlooked a crystal blue ocean replaced the beach. A hand ruffled my hair and I stared into familiar green eyes. The face was older than his present incarnation, and definitely all Apollo. I blinked hard and my vision reset as the pier was replaced by the sandy beach. Killian wiped at his eyes. He looked as startled as I felt. “Ugh, haven’t had one of those in a while,” I muttered. Killian cleared his throat. “You’re telling me.” An uncharacteristic seriousness settled over his features. “So, why were out here by yourself? Don’t see the prince without his knight these days.” “I can go places without Adam,” I said with a small frown. “I just have a lot on my mind so I went for a walk.” He looked me over with sharp eyes. “You’re still thinking about taking a trip upstairs.” Was that a question or a statement. “No.” “You know how I know you’re lying? Your lips are moving.” Damn him. Killian being my best friend in our past lives left him with an annoying ability to easily read me. And it was during times like these that I found it to be extremely irritating. I cleared my throat. “You don’t have any idea what you’re talking about.” Killian nodded looking self-assured. “Yeah, I thought so. You don’t trust Celeste either, huh?” My head spun around so quick that it actually hurt. “You think she has an agenda?” Killian looked subtly around for any eavesdroppers. Finding none he leaned in and said quietly, “Don’t you?” My mind was officially blown. “How long have you thought like this? Why didn’t you back me up earlier during that lame intervention?” “Because I didn’t start thinking like this until after you walked off looking like a kicked puppy." We walked closer to the shoreline to where the water met the sand. It was quieter here away from the boardwalk and the air was cooler this close to the ocean. “It’s like you said before there’s always been the four Chosen. Kevin’s coming online isn’t for kicks. Fate’s at work.” Killian stared out into the ocean, reminding me so much of Apollo at this moment. “Something’s coming. Not these clones. Something else. And Celeste knows what it is. Bet on it.” My jaw tightened as I processed it all. His thoughts paralleled mine so perfectly that I was momentarily lost for words. I didn’t think the others picked up not on what Celeste was saying, but what she wasn’t saying. Which was a lot. “A-fucking-men,” I said with a firm nod. “I completely agree. I don’t know why Kevin would choose to stay in the Silver City, but it’s making me nervous.” Killian rubbed a finger along his lip, thinking. “I just can’t figure out what Celeste could be hiding. Angels haven’t been heavily active since the Last Great War. It’s why our bindings were brought online and made us Chosen.” “I’m worried about Kevin, but I’m more worried about what’s circling just out of sight.” The other boy turned to me startled at the regal tone that slipped into my voice. It was unintentional, partly. Like breathing. Soon there would come a time where there would be no distinction from where Emrys began and I ended. And... I was becoming okay with that. I rubbed the goosebumps on my forearms then wrapped my arms tight around my chest. “I’m going to do some research. I don’t like being kept in the dark. Not when shit could be hitting the fan.” Killian cocked his head. “Research?” “I know what the humans think about angels. I need to know what the Atlanteans think. If I can I find out their past I can–” “Understand their actions of now,” Killian finsihed absently. I wasn’t surprised he followed my train of thought. He was second in command for good reason. “You remember the espionage protocols then?” He nodded. “It’s coming back now like it was never gone. Tell me what you find out okay.” “I will." I turned to walk away and then faced him again. “Let’s just keep this quiet for now alright? When we have something concrete, then we’ll tell the others.” There was nothing but the sound of the waves and distant noise from the boardwalk in that instant. Killian stared at me and didn’t blink. He read the request in my eyes and returned it with a grim nod. I walked away after that with one more person on my side. If we were wrong then so be it. We would stop investigating and drop it with no one the wiser. But if we were right and we got too close to the angels business... it’d be us against Heaven. Place your bets here. When I walked into the house it was half past eight. Immediately I was hit by the aroma of the most appetizing smell ever. My stomach growled in approval as I made a beeline for the kitchen. “Hey, Mom, something smells amazing–” “I couldn’t agree more.” I stopped dead in my tracks at the unexpected reply from a source that wasn’t my mother and very male. Sitting at our kitchen table was my mother and some stranger. I took in his friendly smile and open face. He was a handsome man that looked to be in his thirties, with dark black hair and blue-green eyes mostly hidden behind wire-framed glasses. He looked Brazilian or Spanish. He was watching me with an odd familiarity, and I frowned, wondering if we’d met. Honestly, something was tingling at the back of my mind, something familiar, and I looked away from his steady gaze. “Uh, hi,” I said lamely. Mom smiled, cheeks going red, and she giggled, honest to God, giggled. “Chad, honey, meet Desmond. Des this is my oldest, Chad.” “Desmond Villani,” he said, standing up and holding out his hand for me to shake. I smiled, but it felt stilted. Talk about being bombarded with a surprise. But I would be damned if I made this awkward. If my mother wanted to date then I would pick out the dress myself. My dad has been dead a long time. She deserved any happiness in life. I couldn’t begrudge her that. I upped the wattage in my grin. “You're just like she described,” Desmond said, ever-present smile genuine as it was warm. “I feel like I know you already. I already met your lovely sister earlier.” “She’s a real charmer, huh?” Desmond smiled indulgently, winking at Mom’s sigh. “Right on cue just like you said. I have a younger brother, so I know your troubles.” “Desmond works with me at the paper,” Mom said, coming to his side. “Why are you getting home so late?” I shrugged. “Just went to the beach for a bit. Ran into Killian and we got to talking.” “You two had a civil conversation? Last time I heard you mention him you wished he would get mauled by a falcon.” I blinked. “Did I say that?” “Verbatim." “Huh? That’s not one of my best ones. I need to get it together.” Mom clapped her hands. “Did you two hug it out and apologize? Were there tears involved?” I eyed her suspiciously. “You are way too interested in my life sometimes. My tongue firmly was planted firmly in cheek to prevent the smile from blossoming on my face. Mom rolled her eyes, but her grin couldn’t be dimmed. “Do you want to sit down with us? I’m about to pull out dessert.” “Actually, Mom, I’m about to-” Scour the Atlantan database for any scrounge of information about angels. Uh, world’s best son right here. And then Desmond stepped in, laying a hand along the side of mom’s waist as he came to my rescue. “He just got home, Samantha. I’m sure there are things he has to do before we talk his ear off about you know what.” “New assignment?” I asked, relieved that I didn’t have to lie. Desmond’s grin was genuine, his expression open but his eyes piercing. “We’ve been partnered together for this one.” I turned to mom. “So you finally got a Clark Kent to your Lois Lane?” “Cute,” she said. “Guess it’s fitting since our assignment is an expose on the Hero Quartet.” I have never had to try harder than in that moment to keep my expression from blanching. I managed to widen my grin and turned my surprise into an outward positive show. “That’s so cool,” I said with careful enthusiasm. “I’m going to go finish my homework but it was nice meeting you, Desmond.” His smile was enigmatic as he and I shared a look. “Clockwise.” I walked out of the kitchen with my heartbeat thudding in my throat. It was like fate was trying her hardest to screw me over. She was too close to the truth. Hell, she lived with a Chosen. This wasn’t good. Understatement. I clicked the lock on the door to my bedroom and dropped down on the bed. One thing at a time. I would deal with the revelation with my mother later. Now I had other things on my plate that took priority. I glanced back at the door double checking the lock. My fingers danced in quick movements as I reached into subspace and with a flick of my wrist, the Videum Crystallus appeared in my waiting hand. Holding the elongated crystal in both hands, I blew softly across the tip and with a careful move twisted and let go. Instead of falling the crystal hovered midair and began to spin. “Connect a data link to Terra Outpost Sigma-Seven-Gamma. Establish a remote uplink to Atlantis command database.” A sliver of light traveled from the bottom to the tip tip of the crystal, as the two remote points synced and established a stable connection. The Videum Cystallus emitted a soft almost inaudible hum as it confirmed its direct connection to the outpost’s mainframe. “Visual assist mode,” I ordered. The spinning tip of the crystal emitted a holographic display into the open air. Graphics and script flickered through the clear surface of the crystal and then was projected into the air before me. It held my attention as the blocky ancient letters and pictographs formed into shapes that I instinctively understood. “Set up for reference of the term ‘angels’ or any variation within the database.” The display changed as the script turned into neat lines of blinking red letters. There were thousands of results. “Needle. Haystack,” I frowned. “Extrapolate relevant results by scanning with the attached criteria ‘tactical history’ or ‘the Last Great War’.” The flowing ancient script blinked and the results were less than a dozen this time. Finally, I was getting somewhere. I touched a point and another holographic window opened into the air brightening the room in a blue glow. My eyes traced the holographic script. There was an entire log dedicated to a list of - I wasn’t sure. The entry called them Prime Points, but most of the catalog was labeled as inactive. I touched one listed as deactivated. A three-dimensional representation of a beautiful golden arrow appeared. I racked my brain trying to place it, but I was drawing a blank. Holy Execution, the jewel-encrusted arrow was listed near the top of the technical data. If I was reading this right then the arrow’s tip returned life to anything dead. And another touch would bring eternal death. Artificial resurrection or spirit reincarnation would become an impossibility. We’re talking bye bye soul here. Honestly, I was relieved something like that was destroyed, inactive, or whatever. The design of an instrument like this - I don’t know what Prime Points are, but they sounded dangerous and terrifying. “God’s Blade, Clarion’s Call, Mirror to Ruin, Litany of Fury, Song of a Million Stars,” I read aloud, scrolling through the list of known Prime Points. I poked at the graphic of ancient script and it vanished. That was getting me nowhere but more questions. In particular – why were half a dozen or so of these so called Prime Points still listed as active. I shook my head. “Not now. Later.” Manipulating the first display I touched a string of script that looked promising. Another display appeared from the ether within the holo-emitter field. “Soldiers of the universe, the first offense and the last defense. Angels blazing with the light of heaven and power of judgment...” I read the last part very carefully so I didn’t mess up the translation. “Chosen before the Chosen.” Now we’re getting somewhere. “The Last Great War was fought within the coldest zero stars, between incandescent voids and across all of space. One by one, soldiers of heaven fell as entropy descended upon all. The points were silenced and the righteous angels fell–” I stopped reading or rather I couldn’t read anymore. It just cut off. The rest of the log was blank. “What is the status of this entry?” “File is incomplete. Records indicate it was automatically saved last power down.” I frowned at the toneless voice as a nagging feeling itched at the back of my neck. “What was the date of the power down and who entered the log?” “Internal logs indicate last power down occurred November 20, 9303 New Dawn, eighteen seven hours. Log entry was entered by Crown Prince Gaius Cor.” My spine stiffened. A sense of urgency raced through my mind as I connected the dots with unnatural speed. Gaius... that date... My body felt weightless as the shock set in as I stared at the display unseeing. “The Fall,” I whispered. This was what Gaius had been doing in the Imperium Tower during the attack on Atlantis. I was looking at his last words... I read the words again quickly as if at any moment they would self delete and disappear into forever. Then more slowly the third time. I took the words in weighing them in my mind, repeating them aloud and trying to glean some secret code. “Entropy descended upon all,” I muttered absently. That sounded familiar. I bit my lip, thinking. I decided to try an idea. “Redefine search parameters. Search within the database for criteria ‘angels’, ‘the Last Great War’ and,” I paused for a moment then said with finality, “Entropy.” The ancient script vanished and all holo-displays blinked out. The room darkened and just as suddenly the crystal’s holographic display flared back to life with intensity. In the place of Atlantean script, an image manifested within the holo array. His face was in shades of blue. But the cut of his jaw was the same. The hair under his crown was just as I remembered and eyes, so very much like my own, stared out at me. My heart stopped. King Oriens smiled softly. “Hello, my son. I’ve set up this recording to activate in the event that you trigger certain words and key phrases within the database. If you are watching this then I’m not around to answer your questions.” His smile turned sad. “For that I’m sorry, but know that I love you so very much.” “I know,” I said softly as heat surged in my chest. I wiped at my eyes feeling warm all over. “I hoped this day would never come, but alas The Last Great War has consequences that will reach to the end of time itself. There are many circles within circles, and what was cast down will return. Then entropy will descend upon all.” His face turned grave and I unconsciously straightened. “Listen very carefully, my son, before Atlantis was established the soldiers of Heaven faced an enemy...” His voice garbled in an inaudible drone of noise as the image and audio scrambled suddenly. Red script blazed under the holo-projection blinking in warning. /Data corrupted, visual log entry unstable/. “...The Prime Points are few now... the central one is... they are the only... everything fell before this enemy… unlike anything in existence... start Alpha Armageddon... for this reason above all... seals... angels are not what they used... all but extinct... absolutely do not attempt... heed my last... Remember I am proud of you, Emrys. Always. The message stopped and the crystal spun silently. Its light was dim and quiet now as I stared at the crystal for a long moment, forcing myself to breathe slowly. My father had insured guidance with considerable foresight. He knew this day would come in a way. I initiated a replay of the message and it repeated in its same incomplete format. I let out a weary laugh. “Oh come on... The first-” I shook my head frustrated. An honest to goodness instruction manual, and it was ruined. My father wasn’t a man who feared things. He established his empire across dozens of star systems by peaceful diplomacy and efficient brute force. If something made him this worried…shit was going to hit the fan. Two words stuck out in my mind repeating again and again. Alpha Armageddon. Initiating Beta Armageddon was Heaven’s Trumpet’s ultimate ability. And I just barely stopped him from wiping us all out and resetting the universe. Alpha Armageddon was something else. If it was less terrible than Beta Armageddon, I could only guess. It couldn’t be worse than universal reset. I mean that was insane. Right?
  4. Maybe the Sky Will Fall is now available as an ebook on Amazon for Kindle. Please go check it out and leave a review so my gay heart can know joy!!

  5. Killian stared at the front page of the student paper and had to give himself props. On the front page was a large color 8x8 of the school’s cheerleaders in a perfect pyramid. A smirk crossed his face at the accompanying article. He skipped study hall and decided to take an early lunch just to bask in his own awesomeness. There were picnic tables scattered behind the library usually abandoned during lunch so he made ample use of the secluded spot. So it’s a surprise when he found the newspaper snatched out of his hands and furious gray eyes burning holes into his face. Ryan stood in front of him with the paper clenched in one hand and the other balled into a tight fist. Killian leaned back, sliding on an easy smile as he stared at Ryan in an indifferent manner. Only his heart was beating like crazy and there was an ache digging against his ribs. “I guess I was done reading that, then,” Killian said in an even tone. “Sup, Ry.” Ryan’s eyes narrowed and he looked impossibly angrier. “What do you think you’re playing at?” Killian gave him his best who me look, but the boy wasn’t buying it. After a minute of a silent death stare, Killian rolled his eyes and conceded. “I guess you read the paper?” “I know it was you who put Sam Dawkins up to printing out this trashy article,” Ryan said, shaking the paper in his face. Triumph roared in his chest. Killian settled for a lopsided shrug. “The article doesn’t specifically name anyone. It’s just a simple, nice and clean editorial on teen eating disorders.” “Oh please, it’s basically calling out Lacy on her anorexia,” Ryan snapped. “Which she doesn’t even have!” Killian sighed, sounding put upon. “What do you want me to do, Ryan? This has nothing to do with me.” Ryan rolled his eyes. “It has everything to do you with you! You have to stop this vendetta you have against her.” At Killian’s blank, curious look Ryan growled, jabbing a finger in his chest. “Don’t play dumb. I know it was you who uploaded that video of Lacy tripping at homecoming on YouTube.” A smile threatened to creep on his face. Half a million hits, yes. Instead, Killian shrugged and said blandly, “I didn’t do it.” The other boy scoffed. “Be for real. I know you. This is your handiwork.” “You have no proof.” Ryan’s jaw dropped. “The title of the video is Manstealing Ho Kisses the Ground. Trip Harder, Bitch.” “It wasn’t me,” he replied flippantly. Ryan threw up his hands, growling with frustration. “The user that submitted the video is named Light-Crusader.” “Circumstantial evidence,” Killian shot back. Ryan looked so frightfully angry for one awful moment until all of it just drained away, leaving him a sad shell. He looked resigned, miserable and so very tired of everything. Killian met Ryan’s eyes and he was momentarily struck by those clear eyes, so bright without those glasses to hide their natural shine. “Why are you doing this, Killian?” “Because,” Killian said trailing off, feeling like Ryan should already know. Because me and you are everything, you’re worth more than it all and I’m sorry. Ryan continued to stare at him not hearing his thoughts, and Killian just wanted to kiss that tiredness away so slowly and so gently. “So I guess you really moved on,” Killian said instead, harshly. He berated himself for being so cruel. He couldn’t help it. What the hell was wrong with him. “That was quick.” Ryan’s eyes went dark and flat. “Did you expect me to sit home and cry and beg for you to take me back? I'm over being sad.” “I expect you to wrap it up,” said Killian coolly, wishing he could just shut up. “You don’t want to get herpes.” Ryan’s face was thunderous. “You’re a dick.” He looked away, eyes darting to the softball field in the distance. “It’s not like that. Lace isn’t that type of girl.” “Lace, really? You guys got close fast. I noticed all your new friends, too. I guess they love the new look.” “Don’t make fun of me,” said Ryan, hurt clear in his eyes. “I-I can make friends outside of our group.” Killian felt his pain like a punch to the gut. “I’m not…that wasn’t—” he said softly. “I’m not that pathetic, okay? Just leave me alone, Killian.” Ryan muttered something under his breath and walked off without looking back. Killian reached out his hand weakly to his retreating back and dropped it, feeling stupid and fucking worthless. He pressed his palm hard against his forehead, suddenly faint and dizzy and he knew if he stood he would tilt right back and crack his head against the table. He would black out and wish to God to never wake up. Killian didn’t show up to training that evening. He gave Chad some excuse and went home instead. He couldn’t bring himself to face Ryan. Not after earlier. So he dodged him and hid away like a coward. For a brief painful moment he imagined that Ryan would get concerned and come look for him, but Lacey entered the fantasy unbidden. She crawled into Ryan’s lap begging for comfort because of Killian’s meanness, and instead they have rough and fast sex. Lacey leaves Ryan there spent after getting hers and moves on to her next flavor of the moment. And really, Ryan had it coming. Killian scrubbed a hand down his face. It’s getting hard to remember why he’s even mad Ryan. It didn’t start out like that. Ryan was hurt. And then Ryan had hurt Killian too. And the cracks in their relationship had never been so sharp and fragile. Killian made his way downstairs and he could hear movement in the kitchen. He had to get his backpack from his car, but to do that he had to cross past the kitchen and through the foyer to the garage. He closed his eyes and took a breath, and then looking straight ahead he quickly walked forward. If he could just walk by… “Killian,” his mother’s voice called sharply. His shoulders stiffened as he froze in place and squeezed his eyes shut. For a second he wondered if he didn’t acknowledge it would she go away. That wasn’t the case. He slowly turned around to face her, years of practice forced the crease between his brows to smooth out and a sheet of indifference to settle firmly in his eyes. “Hi, Mom.” On the stove, he could make out pots, and the aroma of baked chicken and steaming vegetables hit his nose. His mother was thumbing through her phone, as she stirred the pots and the apron looked out of place over her new Dolce & Gabbana outfit. “How was school?” she asked, not sounding like she cared. She flicked intently through the event planner on her phone. He took a deep breath like he was stealing himself and then forced out a lie, “Great. I aced that essay I turned in on Macbeath.” “That’s nice,” she replied, sounding distracted. She was too busy pouring out the water from the broccoli. “Your father should be home within the hour. So be ready for dinner by then.” Killian stiffened. The Morris’ didn’t make it a usual affair to eat dinner together as a family. One or both of the parents were usually working. When they did sit around the table it was a quiet event filled with stilted conversation and veiled shade that kept the air frosty and filled with languid tension. He wasn’t looking forward to it. Finally, his mother looked at him. Pale green eyes stabbed him like a spear and pinned him in place. Killian braced himself before he could stop the reflex. “Have you been using that moisturizing face cream I bought you?” she asked. Killian held back a sigh and his fingernails dug sharply into his palms, and he knew that if he looked he’d find little crescent shaped indents in his skin. He nodded and tried to keep the stark emotion from showing through his gaze. “Yes, mom,” he replied softly. “Every morning.” She shook her head. “Use it twice a day, then. Your face looks a little dry. That jar cost a hundred dollars. You’d think results would be more apparent.” She let a sigh. “Must be your father’s genes.” He ducked his head so she couldn’t see the hurt that flashed aross his face, fighting the tremble that wanted so badly to start in his hands. “Yes, mom,” he said tonelessly. His mother nodded, apparently satisfied. “You have a photo shoot Friday afternoon, so don’t slack off. Airbrushing and touchups are expensive.” She waved her hand toward the stairway. “Go on and work on your homework before dinner’s ready.” Killian nodded with a hollow smile. He marched upstairs and his steps were slow and uneven as he moved at a trudging pace, bare feet sliding roughly against the carpet. In his room he clicked the lock with a firm twist and fell against the bed. His pressed his palms against his skull and then twisted his hair into tangles in his fingers. That wasn’t as bad as normal. She had been too focused on dinner to really tear into him. Biting down on his lip, Killian tried to let the dark feelings go. It was nothing new. His mother was cold and his dad was a dick. He was used to it. He’d let it stop getting to him a long time ago. This was a house and not a home. And one day he would be eighteen and free. Time was on his side. All he needed was patience. He couldn’t even remember the last time he’d even smiled in this house. Killian couldn't help but remember the last time he really and truly smiled. It had been in Nathaniel’s backyard. The memory played out behind his eyelids. Ryan’s face hovered above his, smile bright and wide as he straddled Killian on a swinging hammock. Ryan’s fingers traced equations into his skin as he breathed his ideas and dreams of the future against Killian’s tingling flesh. Butterflies danced in his stomach and he felt light and airy, like he was warm all over and at any moment he’d fly away into forever. Killian was half dreaming when his window slid open. A draft blew in as Ryan darted through the open space and his feet softly thumped against the carpet from his landing. Ryan ran a hand through his dark hair, smoothing it back into his new style that kept it free from his face. “Hey, beautiful,” said Killian sleepily, half fogged dreams keeping him from realizing he was awake. “S’hoping it was you.” Ryan flushed at his slurred greeting. He bent over touching a hand to Killian’s shoulder. “You weren’t at training today. I was-” Killian grabbed the hand on his shoulder. Their fingers slid around each other automatically, entwining together, and he smiled a dizzy, lopsided smile as he blinked sleepily up into Ryan’s confused and red face. “You were worried about me?” Killian said, voice deep and husky. “This is a nice dream.” Ryan’s face closed off and he took a step back. Their fingers separated and Killian’s hand fell against his chest. He sat up a little, frowning. After that it was easy to see the realization wash over his face as he finally caught on this wasn’t a dream. He blinked quickly and his eyesight cleared, as he looked at Ryan with a hesitant confusion. “You good now?” Ryan's voice lacked the warmth it carried only moments ago. Killian nodded with red cheeks. “Awesome. What are you doing here? Chad sent you to check up on me?” Ryan squared his shoulders as disappointment flickered across his face, Killian wanted so badly to just take it back and start over. “I came on my own.” Killian smiled coyly. “Lacey won’t be worried?” “Will you stop,” Ryan snapped, annoyed. “You can’t be mad at me for trying it out with her.” Something dark and ugly twisted in Killian’s stomach and he shook his head angrily. “Yes, the fuck I can. You said it yourself we won’t ever be over. We have something special, Ryan. Don’t you forget it.” “Me, forget?” Ryan spat, eyes darkening with rage. “I didn’t end this. You did. I damn well know what we have, but I’m not going to go running back to you every time you snap your fingers and decide I’m worth it.” “You’ve always been worth it,” Killian growled, eyes flashing. Ryan crossed his arms staring at him coldly. “Surprise to me.” “Don’t act like you don’t know how much you mean to me,” said Killian. “I’ve been in love with you for the better part of two lifetimes now. I know exactly how I feel about you.” Ryan threw his hands in the air. “I know that! But it’s not enough anymore, Killian. We can’t reference our past lives, kiss and that’ll magically make everything better. We need new memories, better ones.” Killian stood up with superhuman quickness and wrapped his hands around Ryan’s wrist in a tight grip. He grinned at the startled noise of surprise Ryan made. “Sun Rise Revision - Lunar Flight!” Their bodies burst into countless motes of silver light and they disappeared. The world was a mix of colors that lasted for a terrifying moment as their matter streamed through the air riding on the waves of traveling light. In one second they were on Earth and then in the next they reappeared in a much different place. Ryan stumbled as his feet hit the ground and Killian’s arms reached out to steady him. He fell into Killian’s chest and for a second everything was alright as his heart raced and warmth flooded his chest. Then Ryan pulled away taking away the moment. He glanced around in wonder. They stood in front of a massive basin that was at least half a mile long. Pale gray mountains stretched across the horizon and the barren landscape was dotted with smaller craters and above them were stars. They were bright and so close, but that paled in comparison to the Earth that loomed above silent and gigantic like some quiet sentinel. Ryan looked around with amazement. “We’re on the Moon?” He glanced down at his hands and took a deep breath. “How --” A tiny smile crossed Killian’s face and he stuck his hands in his pockets. “Our celestial bindings protect us from the cold and zero atmosphere. Kinda convenient, I guess.” He gave a lopsided shrug and swept his arm out. “Welcome to Mare Serenitatis.” “I --” Ryan shook his head at loss for words. “It’s beautiful. Why’d you bring me here?” “It’s just…quiet. And away from everything,” said Killian in a low voice. He lowered his eyelashes. “I wanted to bring you here for a while. It reminds me of you.” Ryan looked at him with a raised eyebrow. “This reminds you of…me?” Killian nodded crossing his arms and leaning into Ryan’s side. He noticed that Ryan didn’t move away from the touch. In fact, the other boy pressed right back against him and Killian wanted to smile like a kid. “It’s quiet and peaceful,” Killian started. “Just like you. The stars – they’re bright and glowy and even billions of miles away you can see them shine. Like you.” Killian bit his bottom lip and said thickly, “I miss your glasses...” Ryan covered his eyes with his hand and shook his head. “They were dumb. I don’t even need them anymore.” Killian shrugged with one shoulder and said quietly, “They were adorable.” Ryan flushed, turning to hide the smile creeping on his lips. “Shut up.” “I meant it when I said I want to be your friend,” said Killian into the silence as they gazed around the eerily quiet lunar plains. “You don’t even understand how much of my heart you own. If you asked I would happily give you everything. When you didn’t trust me it hurt, Ry. It hurt so goddamn bad. You were my one good thing and you didn’t believe in me.” Ryan turned to him, eyes wide. He licked his dry lips. “Killian-” Killian shook his head and squeezed Ryan’s wrist. “I wasn’t trying to hurt you, Ryan. Never that. Never to you. I just wanted us to have time to fix the pieces we broke and come back together, better and stronger.” “I made a mistake, Killian,” Ryan admitted, his eyes filling with tears. “I admit it and there’s nothing I can do to take it back. I have issues sure, but we could’ve worked on it together. You broke my heart, Killian. You have no idea how stupid and humiliated I felt. God, I can’t even.” He took a breath. “I love you. But give me something to work with here–I can’t sit in limbo. I have to try to live or I’ll go crazy.” Killian faced him and there was hard determination etched on his face. “I know I’ve given you mixed signals, but I do want to be your friend.” He resisted the urge to wrap his arm around Ryan. “But I want more. I’ll sweep you off your feet until you won’t know up from down.” Killian ran a hand down the arm in his grip, causing Ryan to shiver. “I’m declaring war on your heart, baby, and I’m not losing.” Ryan blinked several times and stared at him. He shook his head to clear it. “I’m through falling in your arms, Killian. I’ve thrown myself at you too many times. I feel like a fool now.” “I’ll make it up to you,” Killian promised, staring into dazed gray eyes. “I mean it.” Ryan let out a shaky breath. “Prove it.” Killian nodded, a gleam appearing in his eyes that made Ryan swallow heavily. “I will. Game on, Ry’.” He grabbed Ryan again and they vanished from the moon’s surface as simply as they appeared. Ryan startled at suddenly finding himself on the grassy front lawn of his house. He turned to Killian and then narrowed his eyes. “Don’t do this because of Lacey, Killian,” Ryan demanded. “I can’t stand for this to be all out of jealousy. I’m not your boyfriend anymore.” Killian frowned and quickly shook his head. “She doesn’t even matter.” Something old arose in his eyes as Apollo surged forward. “That silly human girl is of no consequence.” A sunny grin appeared on his face and Killian was back. “I’ll destroy her." “Killian,” Ryan said warningly, giving him a look. Killian shrugged unphased by the look and beamed. Nothing could keep the smile off his face. He felt like he could start bouncing. A lightness was in his heart that he hadn’t felt in too long and it was making him lightheaded and giddy. “She started it.” Killian grinned. “I’m going to finish it.” He leaned forward and claimed Ryan’s lips in his own. The kiss was slow and gentle and better than he remembered. And there was nothing more in life did he miss more than this. He licked his way inside Ryan’s mouth and felt a surge of happiness at the moan Ryan emitted. He leaned back and Ryan snorted in amusement at the look of triumph Killian wore. He pushed at Killian’s shoulder trying to smother the mirthful smile threatening to break on his own face. Killian licked his lips feeling like he could taste Ryan on his tongue. “I missed that.” “Remember, Killian, friends,” Ryan reminded him, shaking his finger in his face. He held up his hands placating, smiling sheepishly. “I didn’t forget, Ry. I meant it. If we’re doing this then we’re going to do it right. And it’s going to be awesome.” “What are you planning?” asked Ryan, unable to keep the hopefulness from his voice. Killian's eyes were brighter than earlier and he smiled so hard that it was dazzling. “Spoilers.” Killian waved and vanished in a burst of silver orbs that streamed into the moonlit sky. Ryan swallowed and brought his fingertips up to his mouth, surprised to feel his lips curving upwards. Lovers, Boyfriends, exes, friends - something in between - and still Killian made him smile
  6. Yessir you see where I'm going with this
  7. I have no idea why I never posted the interludes on Nifty. I have a couple more just sitting on my hard drive. They definitely deserve to see the light. I detect an epic romance incoming.
  8. It took a lot for me to drag my ass up out of bed. Adam bribed me with kisses and Pop-Tarts, and I can’t lie, the second offer kind of did it for me. Adam called me a candy ho, but I already made peace with myself a long time ago. I ambled into the kitchen, eyes hooded and yawning. Mom stood at the counter, watching the news with a captivated expression. A glance at the TV showed footage from yesterday’s fight downtown. More than likely it was going to be replayed for the next month. “Morning, sunshine.” Mom chuckled at my sleepy face. I gave a grunt and reached for the box of Lucky Charms. I poured a bowl and then the backdoor swung open. Adam walked in with a cheerful looking grin and it made me hate him a little. Morning people were sickening. “Good morning, Mrs. Summers!” His voice was overly bright and chipper. Mom grinned brightly and looked honestly happy to see him. It was times like this that I wondered if she liked him more than me. “Good morning, honey,” she smiled, handing him one of her breakfast bagels with a kiss on the cheek. “I love your outfit, very smart.” Adam wore a blue and gray striped, crew-neck sweater with off white cotton pants. My mouth went dry and he threw me a saucy wink. I scowled realizing that my bowl was now overflowing with cereal. Adam laughed and I shot him the finger. It was his fault for walking around being such a hot ass. Mom cocked an eyebrow as I scooped cereal back into the box. “You going to be alright, baby girl?” “Laughing at your child’s misfortune is, like, dangerous to my young and impressionable psyche.” “Cute.” I grinned at her appraising expression. “I try.” Adam snorted at our banter and I sent him a charming smile. Looked like he managed to sneak out this morning undetected, or the kitchen would be a totally different scene. “Adam!” There was a flash of blonde hair and then Adam had his arms full of 5 foot nothing of teenage girl. I glowered at the sight. The one thing Morgan and I could ever agree on - Adam’s hotness. Adam pulled back, giving her a disarming grin and let a bit of Texas slip into his voice, “Morning, darlin’.” I narrowed my eyes. This little hooker had a lot of nerve. I know she believed Adam was too hot to be gay, but this was pushing it. Adam, bless his dim heart, adored her, demon though she may be. Morgan flushed and leaned back, smiling blindingly. “What are you doing here so early?” “I came to take your gorgeous brother to school.” And at that declaration, Morgan pouted and muttered a put upon, “Oh,” and slowly extracted herself from his lap. It was great that she did that because I was about to do it for her, and none too gently. Brat. “Children, say good morning to each other,” Mom said, staring us down over her cup of Folgers. Our heads snapped around and we both looked at her askance. Really? Was this absolutely necessary! The days I didn’t have to talk to Morgan were golden in my book. At the hard look reflected at us, we turned back to each other and grimaced. “Morning, sibling.” “Good morning.” The greetings were forced and sounded like someone was strangling us. Mom clapped her hands together, mouth tilted up at the corners. “Bonding!” “If your mind was ever turned to villainy,” I muttered, staring at her thoughtfully. “You’d be unstoppable.” Mom grabbed her car keys and purse. “I’ll be sure to bring that up at the next PFLAG meeting.” She stopped to ruffle my hair, and then kissed Morgan and Adam on the head. “Bye, kids.” We called goodbye after her and she paused on her way out the kitchen door. Her blue eyes turned sharp and I hunched my shoulders together as she pinned me with an intense stare. “You’re still grounded, buddy,” she said, pointing her finger at me. “I expect for you to be home straight after school.” I rolled my eyes. “Yes, Mother.” The only time I called her that was when I was feeling annoyed or sassy. This time I was feeling annoyed to the nth degree. “Love you too, kiddo,” she said, brightly. She blew a kiss and darted through the doorway. The front door slammed shut and that was the cue Morgan needed to throw herself away from me, and clear across the kitchen. She hopped up onto one of the swivel bar chairs at the island over the counter. “Scared you’re going to catch the gay from me?” I sneered. Morgan mirrored my sneer. “Please, I’m over you being gay.” My jaw dropped and the world went scarily dizzy for a second. The laws that governed the universe were all out of order. Up was down, down was up. Zac Efron wasn’t a triple threat and was still slumming on the Disney Channel. “I still pretty much hate your guts.” My brain processed that information, and it found it just and right, and that was refreshing. Order was then restored to the universe, and it included the new fact that Morgan was fine with the gayness, but still a little stranger bitch. “-and Neil Patrick Harris is awesome. And I love Sean Hayes too. So it didn’t seem like such a big deal anymore. You’re still annoying and you take more time in the bathroom than I do... Are you even listening to me, glamo?” Slowly, I realized that Morgan had continued talking while my world re-centered itself and the cosmos returned to normal. I came back to reality with a few quick blinks. Morgan rolled her eyes. “Attention deficit much?” She sighed loudly and glanced at her cell phone. “I don’t have time for this after school special. I’m going over to Krystle’s. She’s giving me a ride.” She sent Adam a dazzling smile. “Bye, Adam.” “Later, baby,” he purred, giving her a little wave. She was out of the kitchen before I could get another word in. I stared after her and Adam had to snap his fingers in front of my face to get my attention. “Sweetheart, are you okay?” I turned to him with wide eyes and a watery smile. “My demonic baby sister’s finally growing up.” I gained a winsome smile and stared at Adam imploringly. “Is this how Richard Gere felt in Pretty Woman when Julia Roberts stopped hooking?” Adam licked his lips looking a little bemused. “Uh... yeah?” A fond smile settled on my face and I couldn’t keep the affection from my voice, “Come on, Bowflex.” Adam’s Camaro was his pride and joy. He’d recently had the car painted black and he treated the vehicle like his own child. He put the car and gear and pulled away from the curb with the music blaring. “Transatlantiscm,” I said gesturing at the stereo, laughing. “Death Cab For Cutie, really? So 2003.” He grinned leaning over to sing against my cheek, making me smile. “I need you so much closer...” I snorted and batted at his shoulder. “Smooth.” I pointed at the veering lane. “Watch the road!” Adam winked expertly navigating the road. “Hey, don’t hate me cause you ain’t me.” I rolled my eyes. “I love it when you talk dirty.” A roll of bright laughter exploded from Adam, and I clutched at my seatbelt as he swung into the student parking lot. I sent him a glare, because damn it, when your driving is more dangerous than mine then there’s a problem. “Don’t pout, baby, you’ll get wrinkles,” Adam advised me cheerfully, parking in a space near where the band usually practiced in the early light of morning. “You can’t mess up that pretty face. I’m kind of invested in it.” I playfully frowned at him. “So you only want me for my looks?” He blinked. “This is news to you?” “You ass,” I let out a surprised laugh, then pushed at his shoulder. “Come on, o’ love of my life. If you play your cards right I might let you buy me a soda from the vending machines.” Adam’s face lit up and he grabbed his backpack from the backseat. “I, of course, expect you to put out after. I’m so your sugar daddy and you know it.” I shrugged and jumped out of the car. I slid my backpack over my shoulder and grinned at him over the roof the car. “I’m going to answer yes to that statement,” I replied, sliding a pair of dark sunglasses over my eyes. “I’m not ashamed to say it.” Adam came over to my side of the car and slipped his hand in mine. “I love when we casually mention sex. It gets me kind of hot.” “Slut.” He wiggled his eyebrows in his usual lewd fashion that never failed to come across as goofy. “I learned from the best.” We walked into the school hand in hand, and it was a measure of how progressive Centennial was when we didn't get dirty looks or a snide comment thrown our way. When downtown regularly became a warzone due to evil doers, homophobia was reaching an all-time low. Bigger threats out there and all. The hallways were crowded as kids grabbed books from lockers and basically just hung around. I kept expecting Kevin to pop up and ramble on about soccer, but he didn’t and wasn’t going to. I closed my eyes and leaned against my locker. I firmly pushed the depressing thoughts away. If I kept thinking about it I would do something...unpleasant. The thought of my brother being gone, and no one but us the wiser, left a bad taste in my mouth. “It’ll be okay,” Adam muttered, squeezing my hand. I looked up into his eyes, basking in the sincerity. Trust him to know what worried me. “I hope so.” “Hey, do you think — oh...my...God...” I started at his statement practically feeling the surprise against my skin. I turned in the direction Adam and everyone else in the hall, was looking at and just about died. My jaw dropped as I watched Ryan walk through the parting crowd. Gone were the glasses the champion of soul always wore in his human guise. Gray eyes were free to shine and they were surprisingly clear and piercing. His heavy bangs were slicked back, freeing a face that was startling captivating without anything taking away from how fucking perfect his features were. Sinfully pink, bow shaped lips quirked the tiniest bit as all eyes tracked his gait, whispers and outright looks of want following his steps. He wore a pair of black slim jeans that looked designer. A black moto jacket was worn over a tight white tee, and it was taking every bit of will I had not to ogle the definition of abs showing through the clingy cotton material. He was a sex bomb. Ryan stopped in front of us, sliding into a relaxed and easy stance that I had never seen on him. It was like watching the end of Grease where Sandy suddenly got hot and flirty, except in this version everybody wanted a piece of this ass. “Um, Ryan?” I choked out. “Dude, what the hell!” He looked at me and I was thrown off by the coy smile on his face. “What? You don’t like it?” “Like it?” Adam said feeling just as amazed as everyone that continued to stare at us. “Ryan, my man, you’re hot, like really hot.” I narrowed my eyes at Adam. “Reel it in, big guy.” Ryan ducked his head, blushing. And there was the Ryan that I was used to. He looked adorably pleased and I melted at the anxious smile he wore. He looked at us with approval and need written all on his face. A clapped him on the shoulder. “You look damn good, Ry’,” I said, and sure enough he beamed at me something bright. I stuttered a bit feeling unhinged by how breathtaking he looked. It was incredible. “Not that I minded the glasses and the polos, but why the change?” His shoulders straightened and something like defiance on shone in his eyes. “I’m single now, right? And I found all the clothes my mom always sent me in a box tucked away,” He looked down at the ground and shrugged, “and I figured why not.” I shared a glance with Adam and said slowly, “If this makes you happy then I approve.” Adam studied Ryan curiously, then nodded. “I agree.” He swept his glance over the rest of the hall and grinned at the blatant staring. “And so does the rest of the school.” Ryan took in the stares and amazingly didn’t flush from head to toe. In fact, only two pink dots that indicated his feelings appeared on his cheeks. He licked his lips and said hesitantly, “So I look okay, then?” “That’s an understatement, man,” I said, laughing in disbelief. “You’re like the hottest thing in this hall. Next to Adam, of course.” Like some sign of the newfound status quo, Lacey James, richest girl in school, senior and head-cheerleader, walked up. She wore a low cut top that was designed to draw the eye to her cleavage. Ryan’s eyes briefly flickered down before going back up, a surprised and confused half smile appearing on his face. “It’s Ryan, right?” Lacey asked, staring directly at his mouth. He nodded and I hid a smile behind my hand. Ryan had been involved with Killian so long I had forgotten he was bi. With the way he ogled her, yep, boy was definitely attracted to both genders. “You’re in my Anatomy and Physiology class,” she said, playing coy and doing a good job if the glazed look Ryan had is any indication. “I love your new look. Do you mind helping me with my homework before class? I didn’t get, like, half of it.” Then to really hammer home that this was some weird, new alternate universe instead of stammering and playing the shy guy... Ryan developed a sexy smile and leaned in close, eyes smoldering and she looked suitably dazzled. “I would love to,” he murmured, voice dropped an octave lower. It was a rolling deep bass that was smooth as silk and dark as chocolate. Hot. She swallowed heavily, blinking. Her cute little mouth split into a smile as she recovered. “Awesome. Come on. We have a little time before class starts.” Ryan gave us a short wave. “Later, guys.” Lacey linked her arms through his and they strutted off. Noise in the hallway surged in volume as people sunk their teeth into the newest bit of high school drama. If this was a teen drama then this would be the equivalent of a social coup. And it was delicious. Adam looked down at me, very confused and very amazed. “Did that really just happen?” “If you’re talking about the most popular girl in school practically calling first dibs on our former nerdy friend then yes, baby, that just happened.” Killian chose that moment to appear from around the corner. He frowned at all the excited faces and the loud conversations that were more exuberant than usual. He took one last long look around and then cocked his head at our frozen faces. “What? Did I miss something?” This was awkward. AP Spanish was its usual chaotic mess. Kids took it for the foreign language credit, and also because it was a bird class. Basically, all you had to do was show up and you’d fly right through. Easy A. It didn’t help that over half the class knew the basics of Spanish and the other half was fluent. So classwork or homework was done in less than half an hour. The perks of having Mexico as a next door neighbor to California. Mrs. Montemayor gave up teaching not even halfway through the class. She declared it a free period and popped in a movie, Hope Floats. Kill me now. I pondered for a minute what to do. Usually, free periods were spent with me scrolling through a Twitter with my earphones firmly in place. I couldn’t stay here with my thoughts. I would only go in circles thinking about Killian and Ryan and Kevin, the Power Rangers, and the whole entire mess of fucked up that was my life. Adam and I hadn’t told Killian about Ryan’s whole makeover and Lacey James staking claim. Frankly, in the hallway wasn’t the best place for that discussion. Plus there wasn’t enough time before class to go over the utter weirdness of it all. A couple of students mentioned heading off to lunch early, since our class was scheduled for the next block of lunch, and I got an idea. This period Adam had Drama. That pretty much made my decision for me. The next minute I was heading out the door with my backpack over my shoulder and a pink hall pass was in my hand like Perseus’ shield. Mr. Cooper was the director for the school’s theater department and all his "little thespians" had Drama during the same period so they could practice for plays. Since they’d wrapped up the spring production, the same one the Juilliard representatives witnessed, Mr. Cooper didn’t care what they did or who wandered in and out of his class. So all in all Cooper was pretty awesome and his drama class was like the Promised Land. I milled in through one of the side doors that led into the auditorium. I spotted a few students sitting in the seats talking, probably others from different classes. I could see a couple faces from Spanish had already beaten me here. The actual Drama class was on the stage and Mr. Cooper was at a piano. Adam stepped forward in front of his classmates. They grinned teasingly and catcalled at him and he exaggeratedly brushed off his shoulders, smiling that adorable grin that I loved so much. “I suppose if it’s my turn,” he said, voice easily carrying through the large room. “I’m going to have to go with...” Adam pointed to Mr. Cooper and the man began tapping at the ivory keys with a sly grin. I laughed quietly as the familiar melody of I’ll Stand by You by the Pretenders filled the room. I slipped into a seat near the aisle and dropped my bag in the empty chair next to me. Adam pointed to a girl near him and began to sing in a clear tenor, “Oh, why you look so sad? Tears are in your eyes,” She stuck her tongue out at him and flicked him off. He winked at her and patted his chest, “Come on and come to me now...” He went around stage pointing to random as he sang, making crazy gestures and playing the performance up. Everyone had a smile on their face as he captured the audience. He quirked his eyebrow suggestively at Mr. Cooper behind the piano and made a broad sweeping gesture, “Don’t be ashamed to cry, let me see you through. ‘Cause I’ve seen the dark side too.” The auditorium erupted into laughter and Mr. Cooper rolled his eyes as he continued playing, but there was no way he could hide the smile on his face. Adam tilted his head for the briefest of moments, as if hearing something no one else could as we laughed, and then he’s looking out over the seats – searching. His eyes landed on me and his already present grin grew wider at the sight. In a chorus of laughter, Adam heard my laugh and found me. I waved jerkily feeling a sudden burst of shyness, and my cheeks warmed as people looked in the direction Adam suddenly wouldn’t turn away from. “When the night falls on you, you don’t know what to do,” He smiled softly at me, placing his hand over his heart. The girls behind him giggled as they all waved at me, making me blush harder. “Nothing you confess could make me love you less.” At this moment, everything felt surreal and perfect like a scene from a movie. Adam reached out his hand toward me, his cheeks going pink but he sang on clearly, “I’ll stand by you. Won’t let nobody hurt you. I’ll stand by you. Take me in into your darkest hour. And I’ll never desert you...” Somebody help me, I was blushing so hard my face felt on fire. People were torn between sending me knowing grins and watching Adam perform like it was the greatest show on Earth. Adam held up one finger like he was pausing for breath, but I knew that playful look. He was up to something. Then without missing a beat, Adam raised both arms and all the drama kids sang the remaining chorus with him and with embellished emotion, “I’ll stand by you. Won’t let nobody hurt you... I’ll stand by you.” The last notes faded away and I stood up along with others in leading the applause. Panting and eyes alight with the thrill of performing, Adam gave an exaggerated bow. With a bright smile, Adam waved off the shouts of an encore. The drama students broke off into small groups, and only gave Adam a little teasing when he hopped off the stage. He crossed the aisle quickly and folded his arms around me in a hug. He leaned back into the hold, smiling at me all glowy bright. “Hey.” “Hey,” I said quietly feeling breathless and happy. “You were awesome up there.” “Yeah?” He looked at me through his eyelashes bashfully. “We were just fooling around.” “It was perfect,” I said with feeling and meaning it. “I got here just in time too. Right before you started.” “Awesome. Don’t you have Spanish this period?” “Mrs. Montemayor called a free period,” I explained, wrapping my fingers around his wrist and tugging him over and into a chair to sit. “We have about ten or so minutes of class left. I figured we could walk to lunch together.” Adam laced our fingers together grinning mischievously. “This is why I keep you around. You’re kind of crazy, but your ideas are amazing.” “And you give good head,” I retorted with my own grin. “We all have our uses.” He snorted. “Touché, Summers.” My smile dimmed a bit as I thought about the next hour. “So how do you think Killian’s going to feel about Ryan 2.0?” “When he picks his jaw up, I think he’s going to be kicking himself.” Adam shook his head. “If Lacey has anything to say about it then add pissed off to that list too.” I winced. “Right. I forgot about her for a second. It’ll be like ripping off a band-aid. We’ll tell him fast and harsh.” “It will lessen the hurt.” Adam nodded sagely. “I told you watching Oprah was great for advice.” “Even though she’s full of shit,” I muttered. Adam gasped and slapped his hand over my mouth. He looked around so fast that I was afraid his neck would snap. His eyes were wide with fear and panic lingered at the edges. “Are you insane!” he hissed. “You can’t just talk bad about Oprah! She probably has this room bugged.” I pried his hand off my mouth and looked at him for a long moment. “Are you on crack? Is it crack that you smoke.” Adam’s arms flailed around as he hastily tried to explain, “She can cut you with one hundred dollar bills!” I looked at him with wonder. “It’s official; you’ve been hanging around me too long.” My face split into a grin. “You’re crazier than me. Awesome.” He tapped his finger against his lip, pondering the thought. “I think you might be right.” He slapped his palm against his knee. “I want a divorce!” I squinted at him. “Is this real life?” “Don’t be like that, baby.” He kissed two fingers and tapped them against my lips. “I’ll give you half of my assets.” “Half of nothing is nothing,” I said slowly. Adam held up one finger with his face glowing with triumph. “Exactly!” The bell rang saving him from the jinx I was about to lay on him. He flashed those dimples at me and my mind blanked out for a moment. By the smirk on his face, he totally knew it too. I scowled and pushed at his shoulder. Laughing, he captured my hand and pulled me up, grabbing my backpack and slinging it over his shoulder. We joined the throng of kids heading to the cafeteria. “I really hope Killian doesn’t level the school after he sees Ryan and Lacey.” I cringed and Adam snorted. “Like you did with the mall?” “That was different, dick,” I huffed, tossing my head haughtily. “I was under massive stress!” “I guess it’s kind of awesome that you would bring down a mall after thinking I cheated on you,” Adam said, sounding very smug. He looked at me out of the corner of his eye, “That’s, like, holy ground to you.” I frowned. “That would just mean I’d have to break in a whole new boyfriend, and really, who has that kind of time.” Adam pressed his hands over his heart, wiping at a pretend tear. “Aw, love you too.” We both cracked up. “So I’m thinking we need a game plan,” I said as we sat down at our usual table in the courtyard outside. Our plastic trays were crammed with the questionable school food. Adam shifted my backpack at his feet and twisted open his Coke bottle. “You mean with Rainbow-Gate?” “I’m talking about Ryan and Killian inevitable meltdown that’s due to take place shortly.” He nodded, sipping at his drink. “That’s what I meant. Ryan and Killian are gay for each other... Rainbows are the stamp of the gays and-” “Yes, yes I see what you did there.” I waved off the rest of his explanation. “Geez, I forgot how connect the dots your mind is sometimes.” “And you love it,” he said knowingly. “Besides the point,” I replied, jabbing my fork at what could either be gravy or slime. “So... oh, look. There’s Ryan.” Like earlier, everyone couldn’t take their eyes from the new Ryan. It had been a long time since the school had someone this gorgeous to ogle, so the novelty of the whole thing was still fresh. Lacey walked beside Ryan, and I couldn’t lie, they looked cute next to each other. Her flawless looks and his goddamn movie star face complimented each other perfectly. It was like looking at Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens. And really, I definitely needed to get a new pastime besides rewatching High School Musical. It was becoming a problem. Ryan spotted Adam and I and gave a wave. I nodded as he held up a finger signaling to give him a minute. They stopped at Lacey’s usual table and I could see her introducing Ryan to the cheerleaders and the varsity athletes. My eyebrows shot up. Well, well somebody was already climbing the social ladder. “They’re both going to sit with us aren’t they?” asked Adam. I nodded, watching them from across the quad. “I think so. Killian has to come all the way from the third floor, so he’ll be here soon.” I didn’t know whether to dive under the table or get popcorn. “This is going to be good.” “Understatement, babe,” Adam muttered, chewing his pizza. “What are you guys talking about?” We were both startled as Killian placed his tray on the table and sat down next to Adam. Oh shit. I didn’t know what to say. Adam looked lost for words too if the panicky look on his face was an indicator. Turns out we didn’t have to say anything. Killian’s eyes landed on Ryan before we could do or say a word. His face grew puzzled for a moment and then cleared with surprised realization, immediately followed by a sort of wonderment that made his eyes wide and cheeks go all rosy pink. “Ryan,” he whispered his name like a prayer, and my heart went out to him. Lacey slipped her hand into Ryan’s as she leaned over the table, laughing at something her friends said. She coyly looked over her shoulder at Ryan who was smiling back brightly. Killian’s mouth dropped the tiniest bit. Then it was like a switch flipped. His face went dark as his eyes narrowed flashing with growing rage. “The hell,” Killian snapped, getting up from his seat. Adam grabbed his wrist before he could go tearing across the courtyard. “Whoa, you need to calm down, man. Like, seriously.” “What the fuck is she doing,” Killian said angrily, glaring across the quad at the laughing couple. “Her hands are all over him like-like-” Adam’s looked at Killian and said gently, “He’s not your boyfriend, Killian. Not anymore.” His head snapped down to Adam looking at him for the first time. His eyes were dilated with anger and jealousy and I almost wanted to cry for him as his entire face just crumbled. He plopped back down in his seat and I thought I caught a flash of wetness in his eyes before he looked down at his tray so we couldn’t see his face. He didn’t lift his head again. I looked helplessly at Adam. He chewed at his bottom lip just as lost as I felt. I couldn’t do anything but pat Killian’s shoulder. Ryan tugged Lacey over to our table. Right now I wanted them as far from here as possible. Killian looked like he was barely keeping it together. There was no telling what he would do. Ryan hadn’t noticed Killian yet. He was too busy nodding at something Lacey was saying as they walked over. Then finally gray eyes lifted and Ryan’s steps faltered. It was too late. They were already at the table. “Hey, Adam,” she chirped brightly. “How about that test in Calculus the other day? I think I had a nightmare about solving integrals last night.” “Uh, yeah,” Adam said, valiantly trying to not look between Ryan and Killian. “I’m hoping for an A, but here’s hoping right?” He did modesty well. We all knew that he would get an A. Adam wasn’t freaky smart like Ryan, but he grasped things on an intuitive level that no else could. Calculus was child's play with someone at his stage of evolutionary development. “Totally.” She grinned, sliding into a seat across the table. Ryan was slow to join her. “I already know Killian and Adam, and you’re...Chad, right? I think we had a chem class together once.” Not like she ever sat next to me, or even talked to me but whatever. “Yeah, with Mitchell.” Ryan’s smile was the saddest, sweetest little thing. “Hey, Killian.” Killian looked like he didn’t know what to say to that. He gazed at Ryan with a sort of intense stare, but then it was gone and he pressed his lips together and frowned slightly. “Hey,” he said quietly, almost inaudibly. Lacey tucked her hair behind her ear. “I didn’t realize you guys all hung out.” “We’ve known each other a long time,” I said with a shrug. That was putting it mildly. Killian looked heartbreakingly sad as he peered at Ryan deeply. “Why the change?” Ryan bent his head. “I thought it would help people see me better.” “I saw you,” Killian said almost defiantly. Lacey turned to Ryan giving him a pretty smile. “I love it.” She touched her fingers to his temple. “I can’t believe your eyes. They’re gorgeous. I thought they were contacts at first.” He smiled at her dim but pleased. “All real.” Even though the flirting wasn’t overt it was still happening and I was super uncomfortable. I snuck a glance at Killian and he was staring at Lacey with something unholy shining in his eyes. Uh oh. “Hey congratulations on that whole homecoming queen thing,” I said hastily before Killian could lash out. “I know it was months ago, but I never said it so whatever.” Brown eyes lit up and she smiled ridiculously happy. “Thank you. I still can’t believe I won.” I wanted to roll my eyes. Not like she had much competition. Everybody knew that if she won there would be a party down at Crater Lake to rival all high school parties. “You tripped pretty hard on the way to the stage,” Killian pointed out smiling at her hugely, but so very fake. “I’m so glad the student paper didn’t put that in the follow-up article. A bleeding chin would've looked ugly on the front page.” And it begins. Lacey slapped her hands to her face as she laughed embarrassed and peeked out at Killian from between her fingers. “Oh, my God!” she squealed, shaking her head. “I can’t believe I tripped. I knew those heels were dangerous, but no, I had to listen to Maria and wear them.” She made her voice high pitched and nasally. “’If Beyonce can do it you totally can too, girlfriend’, my ass.” I didn’t want to but I laughed. Okay, girl was kind of funny. I didn’t want to look at Killian right now, but I bet if I did there would be a dirty look aimed my way. Ryan perked up when I laughed, appearing glad that someone was showing interest and being, you know, nice. Ryan stood suddenly and he flushed as we all stared at him, surprised. “I’m, uh, I’m thirsty. I’m going to go get a fountain drink.” Lacey made an approving noise. “Can you get me one too, please? I didn’t even realize I was so thirsty until just now.” “Sure,” he agreed quickly, practically fleeing to get away from the table, from us, from Killian’s penetrating stare. Tossing her dark curls, Lacey turned back to us with a smile. “He’s so sweet, I just can’t believe he exists. You know?” Adam grabbed my hand hard under the table as Killian leaned forward. He stared at her with a dead coldness in his eyes that startled her into freezing in place. “Lacey, what are you doing?” he asked, each word coming out with an icy hiss. She frowned at him, confused. “What are you talking about?” “You know Ryan is my boyfriend.” Confusion vanished replaced by a calculating gleam. “I know no such thing. So he’s bi, then?” She nodded to herself giving him a satisfied smirk. “I can work with that.” Killian’s shoulders stiffened black clouds beginning to gather around his face. “Did you not hear me? That boy you’re feeling up is mine.” “I don’t think so,” she retorted, meeting his dark glare without blinking. “If he was yours he wouldn’t be with me, now would he? Don’t get mad at me because you can’t keep a man. And don’t talk to me like I’m some homewrecking ho. Your happy home was broken before I even entered the picture.” “You fucking bitch,” he growled, slamming his hands on the table. “You don’t even know-” Lacey held up her hand and cut in, “Oh, grow the fuck up. You lost. I won. Kick rocks, Ryan’s free game.” Ryan walked up then and Lacey smoothly rose to her feet plastering on a sweet smile for him. She slid her arms around his neck and tilted her head up to lay a gentle kiss against his cheek, murmuring thanks against his sun kissed skin. “Come on Ryan I want to introduce you to some more of my friends,” Lacey told him. She waved at us throwing Killian a smile that contrasted with the tiniest glare she leveled him with. “Bye, you guys.” “I’ll be seeing you,” Killian gritted out through clenched teeth. I swallowed and felt the area get suddenly warm as the concentration of light increased beyond the scope of human senses. Adam shot Killian a look and nudged him with his elbow. It immediately cooled and I breathed a sigh of relief. I waved goodbye to them as they walked away. Dead cheerleader walking right there. I knew Killian wouldn’t harm her, but his mind worked in devious ways. Due to his popularity, Killian was a treasure trove of secrets. There was no telling what dirt he had on Lacey. Honestly, I didn’t even want to know. His mind was like a downward spiral. At times he thought like a predator. It was enough to repulse yet entrance a person. Killian didn’t even pretend not to notice Lacey look back at the table sizing him up. Instead, he looked right back and arched a challenging eyebrow. Her eyes narrowed into catlike slits. It was a vicious look that made her resemble those evil witches you read about. I think she expected Killian to back down. He glared right back and then did something completely unexpected. He smiled. A shiver ran down my spine. “She has no clue...” Killian tsked under his breath. He rose to his feet and tipped his head at us. “Excuse me, guys. I have work to do.” Killian jammed his hands in his pockets and looked over at Ryan one last time. His lips were parted and blatant want briefly shined through brighter than starlight. Then it was gone and he was walking away. He didn’t notice Ryan look up as he turned, gray eyes following him steadily until he disappeared from sight. I let out a loud exhale. It felt like I had been holding my breath for the last fifteen minutes of forever. I looked over at Adam and he was rubbing at goosebumps rising on his forearms. “Geez,” he muttered, licking his lips. “So, I’m officially worried about that girl. She's in danger.” “Reputation danger,” I explained, shaking my head feeling dizzy. “You didn’t grow up with him, but Killian’s kind of a social-climbing sociopath. The quarterback last year told Killian he had blowjob lips. Two days later it got out he was having sex with a male teacher...” I paused for dramatic effect. “for money. Money he was using to supe up his car. It was quite the scandal. I don’t have proof, but I know Killian masterminded that whole thing.” Adam made a face. “You’re kidding me.” I shook my head. “His name was Royce Lockett. They called him Royce Fuckit all the way up till grad last May. He had to quit the team after a while too.” “Gay bashing?” Adam asked making a sympathetic noise. “Not even.” I gestured over at the table where the football players were. Michel Van Lander was dry humping Tyrone Williams and the rest of team was egging them on. “Rumor is those clowns kept propositioning him like he was a hooker. My theory is with their girlfriends in the celibacy club they’ll take it where they can get it. “Gross.” I nodded and echoed the sentiment. “Pretty much.” Lacey’s laugh pricked my ears. I felt miniscule of pity for her. She was good standing up to Killian like that, but if that silly girl thought she won well, she didn’t know Killian Morris. Shit just got real. Mom told me to be home straight after school. She got her wish. I was home. If she could see what I was doing now that would set off a whole new chain of anger. I knew the greater ramifications of my current actions, but I was still doing it. I was sitting cross-legged on my bed. The Videum Crystallus was open before me in its book form. I flipped through the pages researching, searching, but with the ever flowing script and entries that seemed to go on forever it was difficult to find what I was looking for. There was an endless number of spells contained within, countless data logs that read like diary entries, schematics of advanced technology and pages and pages of what looked like a ‘how to’ guide to building a star. Fuck, my past self was a bit of a psychotic genius. He even had the known strengths and weaknesses of various gods and lesser deities. Frak me. Some of these names were well-known. The information in here could either move the world to war or unite a planet. But that wasn’t what I was looking for. The thing is I don’t trust my brother’s safety with anyone. While I had forgiven Killian and Ryan both for their insurrection last year, I hadn’t forgotten. I never would. Kevin was the strongest of us all. There would always be people who wanted him out of the equation or use him for his power. I liked Celeste sure. Did I take her word that Kevin was okay? Hell no. If I don’t hear straight from his mouth then he didn’t say it. I would keep thinking that until I was proven wrong. I was a paranoid sonofabitch and proud of it. There. My eyes landed on the entry. In the bold, blocky Atlantean print was what I was looking for – The Silver City. I skimmed through the page and it told me mostly what I already knew. Home of the angels and not the same place as Heaven – it exists outside of the created order of things. It predated the rest of creation even. An idea formed in the spinning mess that was my thoughts. Calculations and equations came together quickly as I did the mental spellwork, adjusting power requirements and proper string theory to check my M-based math. Thinking in higher dimensions was always a bitch. I picked up my phone and thumbed down through my contacts until I found Adam’s number and pressed send. He answered after the first couple of rings and I took a deep breath. “Don’t freak out until I’m finished, okay?” I said after he happily greeted me. “You’re not talking me out of this so don’t even try... I’m making a trip upstairs.” The fragile silence was broken by Adam’s hesitant voice, “Chad, are you talking about Heaven?” He continued on sounding close to panic. “You’re talking about breaking into Heaven aren’t you?” “More like the Silver City,” I corrected, shifting the phone on my shoulder. “I’m doing this, Adam. Going, breaking in, whatever – I don’t care. I’m going to angel HQ and I’m getting my brother back.” “And what if he’s there and safe?” he countered. “Then I’ll come on home tail tucked between my legs like a good old boy. But what if he’s not okay, what then? I’ll tell you.” My voice went dark. “Any angel that stands between me and my brother, I’ll drop them.” Dear, God. I think I just declared war on Heaven.
  9. Excellent usage of old PR lore 10/10
  10. Sleep was a mesh of dark shapes and images that came confusingly and terrifyingly quick in chaotic dreams. Comfort was an elusive drug, and Ryan was awake before his thoughts even processed the fact. He wiped at his cheeks where his tears have left the skin there dry and scratchy. He felt like a baby crying himself to sleep and thinking things that can’t be. Ryan shivered, rubbing at the skin above his wrists. He wanted to—he doesn’t know what he wanted. He wanted to… change the past, turn back time. More than that he wanted to just scream at the sky and demand a do-over. Ryan stood up and stumbled to the mirror above his dresser. He grabbed a towel from the counter and scrubbed at his face, erasing the evidence of fitful sleep. It had been years since he’d cried. When he discovered that crying only egged on the bullies in grade school, he perfected masking his face. His fingers touched the corners of his eyes and he sleepily wondered if he had wrinkles. These days he felt forty, and not seventeen. He was too serious. He thought two steps ahead all the time, and often felt like his classmates were kids rather than peers. Crazy since he was mostly in senior level classes, as a junior, and he could feel the derision of the students. Beatings had been regular and often before he bulked up. Even now he still sat in the back of the classroom, head down, quiet and invisible. But they don’t snicker anymore as he mumbled out an answer or roll their eyes as he gets back exams, A’s marked in red with condescending and glaring red ink. They might not know why they felt a chill down their spine after staring into his eyes, but he did. It was human nature to fear things that are dangerous. Ryan only had on a pair of pajama bottoms and his chest was bare. He ran a finger over his pecs and the skin was soft and the firm muscles were hard beneath his fingers. He still couldn't help but see something else. The him of before, pre-Chosen, too skinny and pale skin. His fingers clenched and he scowled at his reflection. He felt stupid. The door opened and he scrambled away from the mirror. His father entered through the doorway and stopped, wearing a thoughtful and concerned expression that only made Ryan turn away from him and stomp to the bed. He sat on it and turned away from those searching eyes. He felt small and exposed under that gaze and he hated it. His arms crossed over his chest unconsciously. “Hey, buddy,” Benjamin shot a nervous glance at his son, before covering it with a shaky smile. It fell after a moment and he sighed, “I’m worried about you, Ry. You alright?” Ryan shrugged. “I’m fine, Dad.” That’s not true at all. His emotions were all over the place. But his face was a mask, cold and empty and blank as a canvas. His father couldn't see that’s he was suspended in mid-air, hopelessly spinning around and drowning in the nothingness that felt like dying. His father sat down on the edge of the bed and reached out a hand to rest on Ryan’s shoulder. They both pretend to ignore the flinch. “Look, I-I know I’m not around a lot. But I do notice when my kid is hurting and—you’re hurting badly. Is this about Killian? Did something happen between you two?” “Nothing happened,” Ryan muttered, his voice shaking and he pretended that his throat was just sore. Benjamin looked at him and his face was sad and drawn with shared heartbreak. It was the same expression he wore after discovering the bruising on Ryan’s neck and arms after one hard day at school, back before they moved out here. “Oh, baby. C’mere.” He tugged at Ryan’s wrist and pulled the boy into his arms. Ryan burrowed into the warmth, shoulders shaking and his eyes burning with held back tears. His dad smelled of fabric softener, cologne and faintly of cigarettes. It was comforting and familiar and it felt wonderful. “You want to talk about it?” his dad said softly into his hair. Ryan couldn’t find his voice if he wanted. His face felt hot and it was taking everything he had not to start bawling and just ask why. He felt inadequate and humiliated, like some joke. He could only shake his head because if he said Killian’s name he would lose his mind. The silence was keeping him sane. He let his dad hold him for a long time, longer since they’d last been in the same room in what felt like forever. Strong fingers slid through his long hair. It was comforting and it became a little easier to breathe. Ryan didn’t even notice falling asleep until he was dreaming. In the dream he was a kid again, twelve years old and smartest in his class. His glasses felt heavy on his face and he’s dressed in an oxford and khakis. He looked like he was going to church rather than school. Around him were classmates, faces as clear as he remembered. Cruel grins and mocking laughter came from all around, as they taunted and pushed him and make him feel like crap until he cried and begged them to stop. Killian appeared amidst the circle of jeering kids. He’s wearing a tee-shirt and jeans and aviator glasses, looking cool and leaving Ryan feeling ridiculous in his outfit. He reached out for him, like a dying man, and the boy arched an eyebrow and turned his back. It felt like a knife plunged into his heart. Ryan awoke with a gasp and he grabbed at his chest. He sucked in deep, gasping breaths and his lungs felt tired and burned, like he had run twelve miles and was close to an asthmatic attack. Finally, it passed leaving him a weak, sweaty mess. The room was dark. A glance at the clock revealed that it was late. Almost midnight and there was nothing in the room but his loud breathing and the light of the moon streaming through the window. He blinked away tears. This was the most he had cried in years. He couldn’t help himself. Something inside felt broken. Was it his heart? It felt like it. His chest felt tight and uncomfortable and every beat hurt. Killian had broken up with him and in the process, broke his heart. This is it, Ryan couldn’t help but think. After everything. This is how I’m going to die. I will not live past this night. Fresh tears stung his eyes and then he’s standing up before he realized it. He was filled with a sudden hatred for Killian. How dare he throw them away? This hate felt long lasting and stronger than the feelings of depression. It was swift and consuming and he reveled in it. Ryan held on to it because he was tired of crying, tired of wishing things that could not be. Ryan fell stupidly in love. Killian was everything he wasn’t. Bright, perfect, cool and all the things he would never be. He gambled on love and lost. Humiliation made his pulse quicken. It boiled his blood. Here, he felt like that little kid again whose glasses were wrong for his face and was constantly tripping over his own feet. His eyes were blissfully dry, out of tears and too burned out to cry. This anger was like a drug. His gaze settled on a giant movie poster tacked on the wall. Star Trek was the first movie Killian had taken Ryan on a date. He’d bought the poster as a souvenir from the mall that same night, handing it to Ryan with a surprisingly shy smile and warm eyes. Ryan surged forward, riding the violent crest of rage. He tore into the poster on the wall and snatched it down ripping it in the process. He grabbed a box from beside the dresser and dumped the old clothes inside on the floor. He was going to donate them to charity for community service hours at school. Now, the torn halves of the poster went inside, followed by a scuffed soccer ball and a tight gray tee that Ryan had taken from Killian to wear to bed. It still smelled like him. He was breathing hard, angry. But he didn’t care as he moved around the room like some crazy person. He was aware that he looked insane, but he was beyond that now. All Ryan wanted now was any trace of Killian gone, out of sight and incapable of haunting his waking thoughts. A sob made its way from his throat and he didn’t cry. Tears didn’t come. It’s more out of ache than anything than self-pity or sadness. He was in denial and he knew it. At least the anger was better than being pathetic and hopeless. He was never going to fall in love again. There was no way he could fathom feeling like this again ever in his life. Ryan filled the box and stared at it for a long time, huffing and fingers clenched in fists. His entire relationship in a box and it was like a catharsis, a Pandora’s box of sin and trapped emotions. He picked up the box before he could lose his nerve. His father always left his car keys on the kitchen counter. Ryan was backing the Benz out of the drive and speeding down the road, and the man was not the wiser. He slept on, unaware of his son driving the empty roads, fingers gripped tight on the wheel and face set in stone. Ryan looked like a stone angel. Even at night, the houses in the affluent neighborhood Ryan entered still screamed money and class, reflections of the owners who dwelled inside. Killian’s house was no different, he thought, as he parked in front of the expensive plot of real estate. The house that was more like a manor than anything, and it was lit up by lawn lights with a newly painted exterior, and the smell of freshly cut grass was still sharp. It made him sick. He parked the car a little away from the house and slid out. Ryan gripped the box tight as he trudged out across the lawn and around the side of the house. He found his target and grabbed a handful of pebbles from the rock décor and launched them at the window above. It didn’t take long before the window slid open. The rocks fell from his hands and Ryan rocketed through the air with the box in his arms. He was through the window before it even completely opened, and in the room in a flash of color. “Ryan!” Killian jumped at the boy that suddenly appeared in his room, “How? What are you doing here?” He saw the box in Ryan’s hands—what it was filled with, what it meant. They stared at each other for a while, Ryan with his cold face and Killian with his heavy breath, mouth open. Killian pressed his lips together and looked down at Ryan’s sneakers. “So this is it? All of my shit is in a box and you’re done,” Killian said, eyes still on Ryan’s feet. Ryan couldn’t keep the derision from his voice. “You were done first. It happened earlier today. You should remember.” He didn't want Killian to see how badly he hurt him. He turned away from those green eyes. There was no way he could look at them and ignore the way Killian’s staring at him, like he’s regretting so many things, like Ryan was worth something, like he mattered. He didn’t matter enough if Killian broke them. “Ryan, please,” said Killian softly, eyes glimmering. “Don’t be like this. I-can’t take you being mad at me like this. It hurts.” “You didn’t mind hurting me when you broke up with me,” said Ryan. A damn was breaking in his chest. It took effort to be this cruel to Killian. It made his insides feel on fire and winter cold all at once. Killian’s voice trembled and his first words broke before he regained his breath, “I didn’t want this. Not this—wall between us. I did this so we can be happy.” “I’m ecstatic.” “Fine, if this is how it’s going to be,” Killian muttered. His face was pinched tight with something that looked like weariness. He took the box from Ryan’s arms and roughly set it on the bed, jostling its contents. “Thanks for bringing my stuff.” Ryan didn’t know if it was the faux indifferent emotion on Killian’s face, eyes shining with sorrow or the shattered tone of his voice. But he was crowding Killian’s space like a lion cornering his prey. Killian's eyes widened, lips parting in shock, as Ryan backed him into the wall. His body hit solidly and he looked into gray eyes that were dark with unreadable emotion. “Damn you, Killian Morris,” Ryan muttered, voice shaking with careful control. “Goddamn, you.” His body shook as he held back all the emotions that had him tethering on the brink and falling, falling, falling. Ryan was on the edge of space and was slipping into the maelstrom that was his emotions. Killian stared at him with dilated eyes. “R-ryan?” Ryan leaned down till their noses brushed and their foreheads pressed together. His arms came up on either side of Killian blocking him in. Killian pushed against the arms, but he found that it was like moving steel, hard and unmoving. “You promised never to break my heart,” said Ryan, voice whisper soft. “You told me that day on the beach. Do you remember, Killian?” He leaned closer, pressing them together—chest to chest, groin to groin. Killian gasped and nodded with pain and arousal warring in his eyes. “We’re broken up. Fine. I’ll go with it. Everybody has their stupid moments. You just know this,” Ryan closed the distance between their lips until they were a centimeter apart. “This isn’t over. It’ll never be over.” Then he leaned forward and kissed him. His tongue delved into Killian’s mouth like he was hungry, like he was writing his name against his tonsils. Killian went limp under the kiss and he began to kiss back, and then it was over before he could fully return it. Ryan pulled away, eyes nearly black and his hand pressed against Killian’s chest, the palm resting over his heart. Killian shuddered under the possessive touch that felt hot like a brand, marking him, claiming him all the way to his soul. “I just can’t give up on you,” said Ryan thickly, throat tight. He stared at him, intently and determined. “You belong to me.” Killian swallowed. The hand that wasn’t over Killian’s heart grabbed the boy’s limp hand and placed it over his own heart. Ryan mustered a watery smile. “And I belong to you.” Ryan released Killian’s hand and stepped away from the other boy. Killian stood frozen against the wall. He tried to speak but Ryan was looking at him softly and with sweet affection. It made him tongue tied. It was screwing with his head and his heart. Ryan shook his head and his hair fell in front of his eyes. He pushed his bangs up and looked up at Killian through his eyelashes. “I’ll see you around…” He looked like didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, then. “Friend.” One second he was there and the next he was gone. Using his abilities he sped through the open window like some superhuman in the comics. Leaving the room empty except for the moonlight that highlighted the lone figure in the room. Killian touched two trembling fingers to his lips and thinks.
  11. xTony

    Paradise

    Stargate of.... LMAOoooo BYE!!!!! Thank lol that is such a good description There is a chance but that's a spoiler!
  12. Anger spilled from my fingers, hot and quick. I barely registered wind blowing chaotically around my body, a living cyclone of magic and fury. Rage colored my sight, buzzing between my ears and turning everything hell red. I flexed my fingers and thunder clapped across the sky. My friends screamed my name but they were nothing but a whisper against the sentient windstorm that gripped the city. I didn’t acknowledge them. They didn’t matter right now. All I could think of, the only thing that went through my mind…Kevin. They took my brother away. They would pay. I didn’t go for fireballs or energy bolts. I was beyond playing with these fucks. I looked into Cobalt’s eyes. They were identical to mine and the smirk on his face only pissed me off more. The wind let out a howl as it felt and understood my rage, greatly increasing in force and becoming a thing of devastation. Words formed in my mind that I had long been playing with. Ever since I’d lost my pendant that had gone into unleashing Heaven’s Trumpet, I had been toying with the creation of a new spell. The Ultimate Destruction Program was sealed to me without the focal point and magic amplification the pendant gave, so for the last five months, I had been working on a backup spell. I hadn’t tested it yet. Until now. I glared at the Power Rangers with cold eyes as they struggled against the out of control wind. My hands clenched into fists and I bowed my head, taking all my grief and anger and binding it together with my will to fuel the spell. "God King of demons I beseech you, I call upon you and swear my allegiance to you.” Magic laced my words as it pierced the veil between the worlds and into the cold vacuum of nothing. Power gathered in my chest and filled my body with foreign energy. This spell lent me power from the monster of all monsters, He That Walks Behind. He was the demonic god that all demons prayed to when the night crept in. He was neither good nor evil. He was older than that and too powerful for such mortal concepts. And I was calling on him. “Hear my words through the deepest night, and free yourself from the nightmare pits of Na'ar, become one with my power, one with my body.” Lightning black as pitch split the blue of the sky. The cold frigid power of the father of all demons filled me to the brim and the sky darkened a pale violet. I knew without seeing that my eyes and hair had turned black like the sea of space. I could taste the power leaking from every orifice and pore of my body as it surged around me like a tornado. “We shall become the things in dreams that terrify, my soul and your power together will rule Perdition, let us as one deal death to those who stand in our path." Cobalt’s scream of pure terror was drowned by the constant crackling of lightning and howling wind. He finally realized what the hell I was doing. He was right to be afraid. I was too. Lightning crashed into my body and there was an explosion of light and sound. A twisted grin formed on my face as I prepared to let loose the twisting cyclone of power. “OBLIVION PACT!” The sky splintered open and the ground ruptured as the waiting power was unleashed. It spilled out in a black wave of terrifying ruin. Whole buildings exploded and gravity fled before the torrent of eldritch power. Bolts of seething darkness slammed into the shield covering Cobalt and the others. My clone struggled but was no match for the maelstrom of power that was my magic backed by the demon king. An animalistic growl escaped my throat as something alien arose in me. How dare that insignificant creature withstand my reach. A roar of triumph echoed through the air as the shield buckled and crashed. Screams came, then. It wasn’t just them screaming, but me too. A mind pressed against mine, emotions overpowered my own and an awful presence swallowed me up in a maw of despair. My eyes widened in horror as I realized my miscalculation. It was too late. My mouth opened in a silent scream as everything around me burned. All that I am was buried and I became something else, someone else, his. Everything was consumed in black flames that destroyed all that it touched, turning it into dust with a caress of wild power. Lightning danced across the alien sky that showcased entrancing violet and indigo light. Black and gold light thrashed around me in an impenetrable sphere. “Warlock...Chad!” A long haired with pink skin screamed, fighting his way through the powerful wind and chaos bolts. Did he mean me? The name meant nothing. It was as foreign as the body I inhabited. I examined the limb attached to the frail body that now housed all that I am. I experimented with its extremities. The fingers moved and formed into a fist. It was adequate. “Chad!” I turned to the screeching mortal. His bleeding emotions beat against my skin. I found it to be mildly discomforting. The memories of the host, Chad was the name of the form I now possessed, this crying ape's name… Adam. His eyes leaked. Was he broken—no… this was human grief. It tasted like dust in my mouth.. “My power is my own and I am my power,” I stated to the grief-stricken mortal. Others circled us, using everything they had to resist being swept away in the tempest that was my power. It was folly. The crying human, Adam, struggled to approach through the storm of lightning and flame. “Where’s Chad?” the little mortal demanded. “Who in the hell are you?” “I am the one who has waited for years uncounted to inhabit this plane again. I am the father to all monsters. I am a god to demons and humanity's bane. I am He That Walks Behind.” Blood left his fale leaving it pale. I cocked my head as he reached out his hand toward me. “Bring him back. Now!” “The demonic energy that exists within me has consumed him.” I ignored the wail of grief and the devastation of the mortal and his allies. I turned as the mud monkeys that shared the same life force and faces as the others caught my attention. The one whose aura sparkled like the sun screamed when my eyes landed on him. His feeble mind knew a true predator. His arms raised and a yellow beam split the air and struck the sphere of power surrounding me. It touched the barrier and was unmade. Pathetic. I took a step in his direction, the body moving ungracefully as it responded to my command. Still, the earth shook beneath my feet as the armies of Hell below amassed and sang of triumphs to come. “If destruction is what you seek,” I said, staring at the yellow haired human. “I will oblige you.” With a stray thought, his body was lifted into the air. A tendril of power sent him screaming as I broke every bone that supported his flesh. His screaming confused me. This was painful for him? It would have taken much more to hurt creatures during the days I once had form. Was the body of the human really so sickeningly fragile? “Chad, baby, come back to me, please,” Adam pleaded, gaining my attention. I turned and the screaming human fell from the air as my attention was diverted. A sliver of energy cut through local space and I turned to witness the one who shared the vessel’s face create a portal. The duplicates slipped through the fissure, fleeing my presence. No matter. They were not beyond my reach. No one could escape my sight. I was going to unmake them and everything else on this planet. As the day turns to night and night turns to day, the time of the human was done. They rule now where we once ruled. Where they rule now, we shall rule again. I shrugged off the hold of gravity and rose forth from the earth. Tracking the fleeing copies no longer mattered. By unmaking this world they would be obliterated as well. Yes, that would do. The city spilled out before me and I felt an inkling of curiosity at how the humans had grown so large in number. They were barbarians last I had paid them notice, little more than hairy apes that had spawned from the ooze beneath the feet of my armies. I raised my arms and gathered forth all that I was. Rings of power formed around the vessel with a snap as the demonic energy obeyed my command. Willing the power to form it coalesced above my head and there was a groan as space struggled to not bend around the amassing energy. The sphere of darkness was everything that the sun wasn’t. When it touched it would burn this world to ash with an everlasting black flame. “CHAD!” The weeping mortal flew toward me and miraculously didn’t disintegrate from the deathly energy emissions pouring forth from the growing sphere of destruction. The memories showed this soldier was different. He wasn’t just the lover, but he was closest to the Ragna-deliverance. Peculiar. He flew faster and a blade of thought given form appeared in his hands, glowing with the cold light of the stars. “You think I’m going to let you get away with this! I won’t let you take him away! I’ll save you this time, Chad—” His expression was of hard unyielding determination. “I’m going to save you!” A swift and fleeting feeling of something ached deep within, then was gone. What was that feeling? I took in the tearful face of the lover as he ascended, gritting his teeth as the energy emissions burned his skin and stray of bolts of lightning tore apart his armor. To continue on this path was foolish. Surely he knew this. Adam ignored all of this. “You’re stubborn, dorky and crazy as hell, and most times I don’t know what you’re going to do next, but—” He reached his hands toward the barrier surrounding the god king, successfully breaking through and grasping the vessel’s arms. “Chad… don’t leave me.” The feeling was back and more intense. It surged through the vessel and pulsed inside its chest something powerful. It was hot and light and intense. It was new and something never before felt. This feeling, this stinging emotion, was this… Yes, the vessel, Chad, whispered through the confusing thoughts. I love him, please. Let me go. The soul hadn’t been destroyed? Now looking for it there it was. The god could see it all so clearly now. Whatever droplets of divinity the body possessed protected the host’s essence. Also everlasting was the footsteps across the soul that led toward this crying mortal. The demonic god finally understood this feeling, this love and it was.... beautiful. He closed his eyes and let go. Then the sky exploded with white light. My bones felt like lead and my body ached with a constant throb that stemmed deep under the skin. It hurt like a bitch. Everything did. It was a nonstop ache that a small part feared would never fade away. I suppose that I was even feeling pain in my own body was a major miracle. This getting possessed shit was getting old. The stars shined above as silent witnesses to the destruction of Centennial's business district. Last time anyone checked the TV it was filled with every news affiliate covering the story. Centennial was once again in the news for a disaster that people were calling horrifying. There hadn’t been any deaths but reports of injured people were still coming in. Thankfully the area had been evacuated before the battle. Behind Nathaniel’s manor was a garden that was like something out of a child’s fairytale. There were classical fountains, a winding maze of hedges, countless rose bushes and a small stream with an arched bridge made of white stone over it. After Killian transported us here I refused to budge from the gazebo in the maze’s center. It hurt too much to move and the fresh air was the only thing keeping me from not vomiting. And the stars were a comfort. Was Kevin up there somewhere watching us? I’d like to think so. Why hadn’t he come back yet? Kevin being permanently banished was a thought I refused to entertain. Couldn’t entertain was more like it. “I think they’ll be hurting for a while.” Ryan leaned against the interior rail with his arms wrapped around himself. “Kevin really let them have it and then what Chad let loose…” Killian stared longingly at him and it hurt my heart to witness. “I agree. They’ll keep their heads down until they come up with another game plan. I’m thinking something not so public next time.” “You don’t have to agree with me,” Ryan pointed out, trying his damnedest not to look into Killian’s eyes. “I’m not doing it to win favors,” Killian said, his face was perfectly blank. Only a muscle clenching his jaw gave him away. Ryan's eyebrows rose in surprise. “That’s not what I meant. You haven’t talked directly to me in a while, I guess.” “It hasn’t been that long.” Ryan shrugged awkwardly. “It feels that way.” Killian let out a puff of breath and said quietly, almost inaudible. “Don’t do this. Not here.” “Then when then,” Ryan said, voice deepening with anger. “You said we would talk and you keep blowing me off. I’m so damn sorry about the whole thing.” A humorless laugh left Killian and made us all flinch. It was full of such bitterness and sarcasm that the air was thick with it. I couldn’t believe they were doing this now after everything we had been through today. I wanted to scream, but they had to get this out or they’d play this game forever. “I know you’re sorry. You don’t think I know that?” Killian's face was a myriad of conflicting emotions. “I need time.” Ryan bit his lip, eyes going wide and glassy. “Are you. Are you breaking up with me?” He looked unbelievably heartbroken. “I. Don’t even.” There were tears in Killian’s eyes now. “I’m not saying that. This is kind of my point. We have some serious trust issues. Maybe a break would be good for us. Just take some time to revaluate, I guess.” “I don’t need time or whatever,” Ryan snapped, rubbing roughly at his wet cheeks. “I just want you.” “Ryan please, don’t, you’re making this too hard.” Killian’s voice cracked a little, and he looked away from Ryan. “No!” Ryan hissed. “If you’re breaking up with me at least have the balls to look me in the face.” He stared at him, determined. “If you do this there’s no taking it back.” Ryan was breathing hard, skin bone white where it’s stretched over his knuckles. His shoulders were tight with tension and his puffy eyes, red rimmed and filled with tears. “Or what, you’ll throw me in a lake again,” Killian gritted out, green eyes flashing dangerously. “You’re giving me an ultimatum?” He was fuming, hands curled tight into fists. His cheeks were flushed bright and his chest heaved in heavy, angry pants as he visibly shook. There wasn’t much else holding him together, but that stubborn will he always exuded. “Stop being an asshole,” Ryan answered with, swallowing hard as the fight was visibly leaving his body. He bit his lip to stop it from trembling. “I’m not giving you an ultimatum. I just want to know if this is it. I don’t believe in breaks or time off, my parents went through that relationship limbo before they divorced and it’s stupid.” Killian blinked a few times and shrugged helplessly. “Why do you want to do this here in front of our friends?” “They’re going to know anyway,” Ryan countered, gray eyes wild and sort of dim. “Might as well see it happen all in HD.” Nathaniel cleared his throat. He straightened his shoulders and awkwardly held out his hands in a placating manner. He tried to smile and it came out sad, but full of sincere concern. “Boys, you’re both stressed,” he said logically. “It’s been a long day. Don’t... make any rash decisions. Please just calm down for a minute, alright?” For one awful moment, I thought Ryan would pass out. It was the first time I had ever seen him look so frail. I couldn’t take how vulnerable he looked. Killian looked no better, but he was experienced at hiding it. He swiped his arm over his eyes. “Look...” Killian shook out his shoulders and a fresh tear rolled down his cheek. “We’ll talk about this later, okay?” Ryan practically crumpled as he hunched over. He hid his face, turning his head to the ground. “Whatever, Killian. I’ve heard that before.” His last sentence sounded hollow. He’d given up. I could tell. On what exactly, Killian’s promise of a talk or their relationship in general, I didn’t know. When he looked up we all took a moment to realize the change. It was noticeable on every level. Ryan’s shoulders had straightened and he stood ramrod straight. There was sort of a hard and trained tightness in his stance. As if it any moment he would drop kick anybody who got too close. He swept his dark bangs from his eyes and they were just as cool and expressionless as his face. No matter the outfit he had on. I was looking at the Executioner. “Are you alright?” Adam asked cautiously. Ryan nodded sharply and said back coolly. “Fine. I believe we were discussing the clones?” I exchanged a startled look with Adam. What the hell? I turned to Ryan. “Look, man-“ He turned his back on Killian, ignoring the wrecked look reflected in those green eyes. Killian blinked and the expression was gone and replaced by indifference as he tried to mirror Ryan’s distantness. Ryan crossed his arms, gray eyes cold like the ice in the far north. “I think the clones will be disabled for a considerable amount of time. What concerns me is the wellbeing of the Crown Prince.” “Yeah...” said Adam slowly, shooting me a quick what the hell look. “That glyph was nasty looking. I don’t much about magic but I know that.” I hesitantly took my stare away from Ryan’s blank face and Killian’s frigid expression. I hoped they worked out their issues. Not just for the sake of the team, but for themselves. I shook my head and spoke up. “It was a sigil. Not a glyph. It was too complex. Done in blood too. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it. Clone boy’s been doing some studying.” Nathaniel paced the circular track of the gazebo. “And you said that sigil was drawn in blood?” I nodded. “Yeah. Usually, that’s darker magic but this felt, well, uh... not.” I shook my head to clear it. “That doesn’t matter though. I just want my brother back.” The air in the night was silent in the aftermath of my wish. Adam's arm squeezed me tighter. I scooted closer into his hold. We sat on the swinging bench, and I was pressed comfortably into the warmth of his side. We probably looked like we were in the middle of a wake to a casual observer. Nathaniel placed a hand over mine and squeezed. “I’m not forgetting about Kevin,” he promised. “It’s just I don’t know what Cobalt did ... it’s Theban script, I know that. It’s one of the angel alphabets, holy script you can say. I don’t know anyone who knows it. Most don’t even know it exists.” I shook my head, frowning. “Heaven’s a higher order of reality. There’s more … of everything. The light of Heaven would burn the eyes from your skull. The music would puncture your eardrums and drive you insane. God, even the air would burst your lungs and boil your blood. Only angels and spirits can bear Heaven’s touch.” “How do you know that?” asked Killian, breaking his silence after the big argument. My voice changed and rang with a familiar noble cadence. “How do you think I know?” They came to attention at the tone of authority. Prince Emrys’ voice was clear as a bell and everybody unconsciously straightened. Ryan dipped his head respectfully, placing a fist over his heart and giving a short bow. I sighed internally. Aurek was definitely at the surface of his consciousness. I needed to talk with him later. I couldn’t stand seeing him all broken like this. Nathaniel spoke with a gentler tone. “Kevin’s not like us. His essence and soul was manufactured by Heaven to be their weapon. He’s an angel made man.” He was right. I knew it. Just the thought of a man in Heaven was enough to give me chills. It’s meant for spirits not beings of flesh. I wasn’t sure how even I would fare in Heaven. Even being in a portion of it, the Celestial Realm, was damn near sensory overload. “I’m sure he’ll be fine, baby,” Adam breathed into my ear. “Nothing can keep that boy down long.” My phone buzzed against my thigh and flipped it open. The caller ID showed it was my mom. It was the third time she was calling. Unfortunately, I wasn’t coherent enough to answer the other times. I licked my lips and pressed the answer call button on the touch screen. “Hello?” I said hesitantly. “Chad, where in the hell are you!” I pulled the phone away from my ear as my mother screeched into my eardrum. Oh boy. She was on a roll. I ignored the sympathetic looks everyone shot me. “The school called and said you ditched your last two classes!” she yelled, and then gathered her breath for another round. “On top of that, you didn’t come home either!” Adam’s hands laid flat on my stomach. He leaned his head against the back of mine and placed a soft kiss against the nape of my neck. I took the offered comfort and reassurance from the gesture. It was majorly needed. “Don’t worry, Mom, please,” I interjected quickly when I could. “Why aren’t you at work covering the big story?” She let out a growl that made me fear for my life. “A news story isn’t going to keep me from worrying about my kid. Now. Where. Are. You?” “I’m at a friend’s,” I said quietly. “Get home,” she said in an eerily soft tone that parents get. “Now.” “Fine, Mother.” I hung up and dropped the phone into my lap. Adam tugged at my shirt and I turned my head up to stare into his face. He looked down at me with stark worry in his eyes. “Everything okay?” asked Adam. “She sounded really mad.” I shrugged. “It’s fine. The school called my mom when we ditched. You guys probably will get an earful too.” “I’m a senior so they don’t really care about us skipping,” Adam pointed out. Killian snorted. “As if my parents would give a damn.” Ryan raised an eyebrow as I looked at him and then finally spoke at my continued stare. “My father’s at the hospital. He won’t be home till tomorrow. I’ll erase the voicemail.” I wanted to just fold my arms around him and hold him tight, and tell him everything would get better. This wasn’t like him at all. I wasn’t used to seeing his withdrawn and distant person that wore my friend’s face. Aurek could channel his emotions like a deck of cards and Ryan was drawing on that ability to the fullest. He put a wall over his emotions and all I wanted to do was break it down and see him smile again. I rolled my eyes, downplaying my worry by making a joke. “Figures I would be the only one to get caught.” My smile faltered as a thought hit me. “Shit. I better talk to Kevin’s parents.” “That won’t be necessary.” I turned my head and Celeste stood at the bottom step of the gazebo. There had always been a sort of ethereal and serene quality to the angel. Now the Voice of the highest powers looked tired, her expression was placid and it matched the even tone she had spoken with. She was dressed in her usual white, shimmery gown that flowed like air and looked like silk. Adam and I stood up at her presence reflexively. Cuddling with the boyfriend didn’t seem all that appropriate in front of an angel of heaven. I blinked as Nathaniel stepped in front of us, smiling in surprise and with his ears turning bright red. “Celeste,” he said her name breathlessly. “I-um. It’s good to see you again.” Her gossamer wings fluttered a bit in the wind and she smiled softly. “I return the sentiment. Forgive me, I...” Celeste brow furrowed as if she what she wanted to say was too hard. “I have watched you all this time when I could, but there are other duties and circles circling within that I cannot overlook.” “Kevin-” I began, stepping forward. Celeste watched me evenly. “The Trumpeter is within the halls of the Silver City. He’s safe. Do not worry for him.” “Kind of hard not to do that, since you know, he’s my brother,” I retorted. She looked up at the stars for a moment then back at me, expression utterly serious. “And before that, he was the youngest angel with the mightiest burden. Rest easy. He’s well.” “Then why isn’t he here?” I countered, starting to get a little frustrated. I trusted my brother’s safety with no one. The angel stared at me with those intense blues eyes. He tried and failed to meet her gaze, but the unnatural shimmer made me breathless and dizzy after prolonged contact. She spoke when I looked away. “He’s receiving revelation.” “Is there something wrong?” Nathaniel asked quickly. “I will tend to the matter of Kevin’s parents,” she said instead of answering his question. “Their minds will be scrubbed so that Kevin’s absence will not burden them until his return.” “And when will he be back?” I asked. I wasn’t feeling this crumbs of information bullshit. “When he’s done,” Celeste answered, calming my temper with a single look. “Before he was reincarnated as Prince Gaius, your brother was an angel of They Above All. There are many who missed him all these years. He’s a welcome guest of the Silver City.” Silver City, a tiny voice whispered in my ear, the home of the angelic host. I knew that. Or at least Emrys knew it at one point and time. It was part of heaven, yet not the same place, much the same way the Celestial Ream was not directly within the central domain of Heaven. “I like you Celeste, but if Kevin doesn’t come back soon I will storm that city and bring him home,” I promised, meaning every Goddamn word. “I don’t know what you’re not telling us, but it seems like something’s got you guys upstairs spooked.” Celeste narrowed her eyes dangerously. “Why should this concern you, Chosen Warlock? It is Heaven’s business. Leave Heaven to answer it.” I took a step forward before I could think better of hitting an angel. “It’s my business because it seems to me you’re dragging Kevin into it.” “Do not presume to know Heaven’s affairs,” she said, the air growing colder with every syllable. “I’m here to act as an emissary to They Above All. I’m their voice on Earth and you’re their hand. I’m not here to perch on your shoulder.” She gave me an even stare. “For the record, I’m a soldier before messenger. Don’t think to threaten me.” “And I’m the son of a former First God and magic’s champion. Don’t think I’m one to roll over and just take orders.” Her face softened and the barest hint of a smile formed. “Kevin said you would react like this.” She touched my shoulder with a feather-light brush that soothed my aches like a balm. “You should rest. You’re putting too much strain on your body.” Adam placed a gentle hold on my elbow, keeping a trained eye on Celeste. “She’s right, love. You haven’t fully recovered from that possession. Which, I gotta say again was a bonehead move.” “It worked.” He looked at me and I wilted, mustering a half smile. “Okay, fine. Major overkill fuckup.” Celeste pursued a thorough examination of my body. “It’s a miracle you aren’t comatose. I suppose it’s a measure of your divine constitution. When you called on the Demon God you called on his power-” “And he is his power,” I finished. “I realized that too late. My magic... my divinity... I make too good of a host to pass up. And by calling on his power I invited him inside of me.” I looked around suspiciously. “You guys aren’t trying to turn this into an intervention, are you? Last time I checked I was magic’s champion.” “You still have to be careful, baby,” said Adam quietly. And when he used that tone and those puppy eyes how was I was supposed to dismiss him. It’s not like I did it on purpose. I didn’t like riding bitch while some god wore my body like a suit. It was a nightmare being trapped in the back of my mind while my soul writhed in agony. There wasn’t a word for the pain that took place on a level modern science couldn’t fathom. Hazel eyes bored into me and I deflated with a sigh. “I’ll be more careful, Adam. I swear.” Adam wrapped me in his arms and squeezed me tight. His hair tickled against my face as he moved his head, burying his face into the crook of my neck. He kissed my earlobe and whispered. “I just want you to be safe.” “I will.” This was some real bullshit. Save a city and I was rewarded with a grounding. This secret identity thing was seriously starting to blow like whoa. Considering that my mother covered the Chosen in the news like Lois Lane with a Superman scoop, she would go ballistic if she discovered it was me putting my life on the line. Then, all Hell would really break loose. I locked the bedroom door behind me and then crossed over to the bed. I practically collapsed across it. I was so freaking tired. The aftereffect of the possession was still playing havoc on my body. This must be how Lindsey Lohan feels every day of her life. With slow movements, I toed off my shoes and shimmied out of my jeans. Peeling off my shirt actually required more movement than I liked but I managed till I was down to just my CK boxers. There was a noise behind my head and I jumped as the window flew open. I rolled off the bed in one smooth motion, and my fingers curled into my palm, lightning jumping between fingertips as I faced the window. Adam hoisted himself through the open window like some Chris Kringle wannabe. My mouth dropped as he stumbled, righted himself and then threw his arms up in triumph. “Victory is mine!” He sounded entirely too smug. Adam looked at the dissipating lightning fading from my palms and tipped his head. “Uh, you about to shock me?” He grinned widely. “Kinky.” I rolled my eyes and looked him over. He was wearing a pair of dark track pants and a gray hoodie. A red licorice rope that’s at least, like ten feet long was wrapped around his neck a few times, and then his right arm, with the end caught at the corner of his mouth where he chewed it with a giddy smile. “You goddamn asshole, way to scare me for life. What are you doing here?” He grinned so hard that the corners of his eyes crinkled. “Awww, my little princess scared?” “Eat shit, gigantor,” I huffed out, crossing my arms. He wiggled his eyebrows and the move was adorable and dorky and my eyes glazed over. My thoughts shifted as I couldn’t help staring directly at his mouth. Before I could help it I lapsed into a Lady and the Tramp fantasy, then. Wherein, I would lift one end of the licorice rope and chew it until our lips met in the middle. It would be totally cute and if we could get a camera or something on a timer, then we could make copies for my scrapbook and facebook page. “What are you thinking about?” Adam asked warily, eyeing my dreamy expression. I shook my head, grinning. “Nothing. So you came to impress me with your breaking and entering skills? I must say next time, dress all in black. It’ll fit the theme better, babe.” He grabbed my hand and tugged me down to the bed. We fell into the blankets and I moved so I lay between his spread legs. It was definitely my favorite position. I loved feeling his heartbeat at my back and his hands rested perfectly against the curve of my hips. Adam wrapped his arms tightly around my waist and nestled his chin on my shoulder. “I couldn’t sleep knowing you were here hurting. Then you had to deal with your mom going off on you-“ “She really let me have it." I winced at the memory. “She was pissed.” He gripped my index and middle finger and squeezed them. “One day we’ll be able to tell people. She will know all about us, then.” “That day will come a whole lot faster if we didn’t have to keep fighting whack villains,” I turned to look at his face. “Did you see Ryan and Killian when we left?” Adam winced. “Killian was doing his Mr. Freeze thing. His face might as well have been a block of ice for the emotions he expressed.” “He’s good at that,” I agreed quietly. “Ryan’s the one I’m more worried about. Killian is his first everything. I think he’s using his empathy to block his emotions. His acting more like than Aurek than Ryan.” Adam let out an unhappy sigh. “The boy can tell you how to disable, maim or kill a man in a dozen words or less, but he’s always been the most sensitive out of all of us.” “Kind of ironic considering he has the power of empathy, however limited it may be,” I chuckled and then sobered up. “I just want them to be okay again.” He squeezed my arm. “We can try and nudge them, but they’ve got to fix this on their own. Right now it’s too fresh. I bet in a week or so they’ll be in better places to talk it over.” I rubbed a hand over my bottom lip. “I finally thought this was their chance. In Atlantis, Apollo had such a crush on Aurek.” “And Aurek was completely oblivious,” Adam laughed and I joined in. “He undressed him with his eyes whenever Aurek walked into a room.” I snorted at that. “He still more subtle than you at having a crush.” I couldn’t help voicing the lingering thought. “Do you think something is wrong?” “Whoa. Whiplash.” A line went between his furrowed brow and he frowned, confused. “What do you mean?” “I mean Celeste tried to dismiss me, but she was wigged, like, seriously,” I explained, thinking back to earlier. “It was weird. I’ve never seen her look so tired, I guess. And now Kevin’s in Heaven doing who knows what.” Adam absently rubbed the pulse point in my wrist. “You’re saying it like they’re trying to draft him or something.” “The term avenging angels isn’t for a joke. Read the bible, they’re an army. And it seems like something’s coming that has them freaked.” Adam shivered and rubbed the hair on his forearms. “I don’t know what can scare an angel. For all our sakes, I hope you’re worrying for nothing, babe.” “As soon as Kevin gets back, I’m grilling him Law and Order style,” I replied with a firm nod. “I don’t need us to start having secrets. We don’t need them now that we have the Power Rangers trying to take us out.” A giggle left Adam before he could keep it in. It was childlike and made my stomach flutter like something else. I couldn’t keep the smile from forming at the noise. It was suddenly my favorite sound. “Are we really going to call them the Power Rangers?” he teased, running his fingertips over the band of my boxers. I shuddered at the light touches and grinned. “Hell yeah, we’re calling them that. You know you like it.” “Whatever,” he said flippantly, failing to hide his smile. He pouted and tugged me impossibly closer. “More cuddles.” “Sap.” It was obvious that was a joke since there wasn’t anything I loved more than Adam’s affectionate nature. I would give him the moon if I could just to see him smile at me. Adam brushed the hair away from my ear and started to sing in a soft whisper. “And you can tell everybody this is your song. It may be quite simple but, now that it’s done,” he started, and I began to chuckle into his neck, tickling his skin. Adam smiled wider and continued. “I hope you don’t mind, I hope you don’t mind that I put down in words how wonderful life is while you’re in the world.” I pulled back then, reaching up to cup Adam’s cheek in my hand. “How people never catch you on their gaydar I’ll never know,” I said, trying for teasing but I think the softness in my tone defeated the joke. Adam pressed our foreheads together. I laughed and pressed a soft kiss between Adam’s eyes and then an even softer, gentler one on the tip of his nose. “Who can resist your baby blue eyes? I’m just a man,” Adam said solemnly. I stared at him, and Adam’s eyes went glassy and unfocused at our close proximity. He surged forward and licked a wet strip down the right side of my face. We both cracked up at the same time, our noses brushing together. “I’m going to miss this when you’re gone,” I said, sighing. Adam’s entire body went still. “Stop, babe, please. I don’t even know if I got in. We can’t keep talking about it. It only makes you sad. There’s been no word.” “Yet,” I added, smoothing out his wrinkled brow with my fingertips. “Juilliard will be sending you an acceptance letter any day now. There’s not a doubt in my mind. Next semester I’ll still be here and you’ll be in New York.” “You still can see me if I go,” he replied, biting his lower lip. I shrugged one shoulder. “Sure, but it won’t be like it is now. I won’t see you every day. And if I magic myself there too often people around you would start to get suspicious. A boyfriend that lives in California can only make so many cross-country trips before there are questions.” “We’ll figure something out,” Adam reasoned, peppering the line of my neck with tiny kisses. “We’ve got time. Just wait, one day, it will be me and you and nothing but the future in our hands.” Something low in my belly melted all hot and ran through my veins. It was warm and I liked the feeling, a lot. The thought of years spilling out before us with nothing but Adam at my side, and peace, was a powerful thought. I wanted it like I wanted nothing else in my life. “Tell me about it,” I said, swallowing thickly. “It’s going to be awesome,” Adam said, a bright smile shining on his face. I was endeared by his enthusiasm. “How do you feel about a nice place with a big garden? We can get a couple of dogs and they’ll have somewhere to run around. Our kids would love a pool, too.” “Kids?” I asked shyly, liking the thought more and more. This was new territory, but the idea of making a family with Adam was sending my emotions all over the place. Adam ducked his head blushing. He smiled tentatively, looking at me through his eyelashes. “I. I’ve always wanted kids. Not now or anything.” He rushed out, chuckling nervously. “But someday.” I cleared my throat. It felt tight and my heart was pumping wildly. “Boys. Two of them ... and a little girl. It’s...” I smiled, watching as his eyes lit up at the declaration. “That’s how many I want.” He pinched my cheeks, laughing so clearly that it dazzled me. “Look at you, my little housewife.” I snorted and he winked, letting me know he was kidding, and by the way he squeezed my fingers ... he was totally on board with me. Adam tangled all our limbs together and sighed against my neck. “Remember those days when you hated my guts?” Adam asked fondly. I let out a happy sigh. “Those were the days.” “You hid your feelings pretty well but I totally was your secret crush, and you know it. It was quite sad really.” He laughed, tickling my ribs and making me squeal with giggles. “Come on, admit it. Bitch, tell me I’m awesome!” “You’re awesome,” I laughed, squirming under his fingers. The fingers disappeared and Adam let out a hum of contentment. “I know. Took you long enough to admit it.” I glowered. “I hate everything about you.” “I know,” Adam replied simply, cupping his hand around the nape of my neck. It was solid and warm against my skin. It felt good. I closed my eyes and shivered at the tingle that went down my spine. When I opened them Adam and I was a hairsbreadth away. Our faces were not an inch apart and I could feel his breath against my lips, cinnamon and candy sweet. “For your information, I like to build to this shit,” I said with a straight face. “I was seducing you.” One eyebrow rose. “With what?” “My awesome,” I said, leaning forward to lick across his upper lip. “I was seducing you with my awesome. So point, game and match, motherfucker.” He snorted. “We both won in the end I think.” “Such a girl.” Adam chuckled. “Shut up.” He wiggled his eyebrows and bent down and kissed me, slowly and lazily, mapping my mouth with his tongue and tracing his name against my skin. We took our time and my world tilted until everything became AdamAdamAdamAdam. His hand rested against my chest and over my heart like a brand. Adam opened his eyes and pulled back. They were glassy and the green was dark against the amber brown, and his lips swollen and bruised with kisses. It made my head spin. “We better stop before...” His hand flexed against my chest, fingers splayed wide open and possessive. “I don’t want to do anything. Not while you’re all hurt ... after everything that happened today.” I grabbed his hand as he moved to stand. “Wait...” I licked my lips, meeting his stare and squeezing the hand caught in mine. “We don’t have to do anything. You know it’s never been ... not with us. Just stay. Please.” A warm smile came over his face and his eyes softened, as something warm shone through as clear as the sun. Adam climbed onto the bed on all fours moving between my legs, and my hands instinctively settled low on his hips. Adam kissed each cheek and then my lips, smile glowy and dizzying bright. “I’ll stay.” He swore. “Always.”
  13. All of yall have read ahead! So technically is it really a cliffhanger? xoxo
  14. xTony

    Paradise

    The deep dark that went on and on was gone. The blackness my world had turned into was no longer. Green country stretching into the distance spilled out before me. Twinkling stars, brighter and more vibrant than anything I had ever seen filled the night sky with shining jewels of silver light. An ocean of glittering blue water existed next to a sprawling city that shined gold like the sun and tugged at my heartstrings like nothing before in my life. There was something about the city, this land, this place that was familiar. And yet it was completely foreign unlike anything on Earth. It was more awful, more divine. I knew this was where I belonged. This wasn’t the Dreamlands. Not Atlantis either. This was... It felt like home. It was eye-opening in the sense that I had never known I was missing this place until I stood here, now. “Hello, Emrys.” I turned around and there was Celeste. The Voice of They Above All was just as unearthly beautiful as I had last seen her all those months ago. Blonde hair fell down her back in gentle waves, and her blue eyes were soft with warm affection. Her gown of blue silk matched the pretty gossamer butterfly wings pinned to her back. I swallowed. “Why are you calling me that?” She smiled and gestured at me. “That’s who you are.” It took only a brief look down to realize I was clothed in the cream and white garments of my past incarnation. I touched a hand to the adamant encrusted circlet on my brow. “You can stay here,” said Celeste. “Everything from the Mortal World has no place here. Pain. Death. Loneliness. Fear. None of that exists here. All of your wants and wishes can come true here, if you let it.” I shook my head. “I don’t understand. I was stabbed... Am I dead?” “Right now your loved ones are trying to bring you back to life. Only the tie you have with Adam is keeping your soul from completely leaving the Mortal World.” I took a breath of the cleanest and sweetest air. “Where is this? Is this Heaven?” “A portion of it. This is the Celestial Realm. The home of the gods. Like you.” I wasn’t a god. I was just me. “I don’t understand.” “You have the choice of Ascension before you. You can stay here forever and embrace your heritage, leaving behind all you were. It’s where you were always meant to be. It’s your home. It was the home of your father as well, long ago.” I stared at her for a long time, trying to come to terms with what she was saying. “My father, Oriens, was a god?” “Was, yes. He took his people and built a benevolent and bountiful empire that stretched across a great deal of your system of space.” How did I not know this? Divinity flowed through my veins? I closed my eyes as a memory tugged at my consciousness. This was what Oriens meant when we prepared to resurrect Kevin. My full heritage. Turning toward the city, the shining golden capital of the gods, I frowned, troubled. How could I stay here when people were counting on me? “What about my friends?” I asked. “My family?” Celeste looked upward at the stars and said, “After winter is summer and after summer is winter. Things will pass as it always has, with or without you.” I looked around at the rolling green land with its valleys and peaks rising in the distance. I closed my eyes, listening. The stars sang a faint tune to my ears, a melody of love and happiness that called to me. The city glowed brilliantly on the horizon shining its radiance to all under the stars. I wanted to lay down my burdens and rest. So why did I... I shook my head. “No. I can’t.” Celeste’s blue eyes bored into me deeply. “Are you sure? You won’t get this chance again, Emrys. Your father had the same choice, once. He turned away from his divinity and like him, know this if you leave there’s no coming back. You will not be allowed to return and you will leave behind your mantle of godhood. You will know pain, suffering and death, and all that life in the mortal world brings with it.” The starsong was stronger now that I knew it was there. It sizzled and buzzed against my skin, humming notes of delight and bliss. “Yes,” I breathed out in a sad, but final breath. “I’m sure. There are people that need me. People are counting on me.” She smiled gently. “Until we meet again.” Celeste disappeared. The fields of green were gone. The true sky vanished. The city of gold departed. Warm energy filled my belly and I gasped, snapping my eyes open. I blinked, once then twice. Finally, distant voices became clear to my ears and worried hazel eyes filled my sight. “It’s working!” shouted Adam, laughing a little hysterically, relieved and excited all at once. “Oh, God. Chad, baby, come back to me.” Kevin appeared next to him, staring earnestly at my stomach. “The wound’s all closed up. I think you started healing him just in time. Chad?” I nodded weakly, slowly gaining awareness and strength as time passed. “Hey... What happened?” Adam chuckled happily, wiping at his wet eyes. “You nearly died that’s what happened!” I licked my dry lips. “Where am I? Is this the backseat of my car?” Sure enough, it was. I looked around taking in my bloody clothes that matched the stains of red coating Kevin and Adam’s hands and shirts. We were crowded in the backseat of my Blazer but they didn’t seem to care. They looked scared and worried, watching me like I was going to disappear if I so much as sneezed. Kevin gripped my hand so tightly it kind of hurt, but I didn’t have the heart to tell him that. Adam’s hand settled in my hair and he bent down and pressed his forehead to mine, closing his eyes as he released a shaky breath. “What happened?” Kevin demanded, sounding freaked out. “I felt this blinding pain and I just knew you were hurt.” “Me too.” Adam frowned. “It was like my heart stopped. We got here at the same time and there you were...” He cut off, staring down at his bloody hands. “There was so much blood. It was everywhere.” Kevin inspected my unmarred stomach intently. “We couldn’t take you far. The blood... your blood... it’s not fully Atlantean but it's not definitely human. We whammied the people trying to help you and brought you to the car.” “The wound didn’t close for the longest time,” Adam whispered, taking over. “No matter how much energy I pushed into it. I thought you...” He sounded so lost and broken, almost childlike. “Hey, I’m alright now.” I smiled at him, taking his hand and squeezing. “I’m here. You two got here in time. I’m alive.” I looked at Kevin. “I was offered godhood.” His eyes widened, surprised but not shocked. “The Celestial Realm.” He gripped my shoulder hard. “You know what you gave up, don’t you?” I nodded. “She, Celeste... She said that father was a god?” “It’s true,” replied Kevin. “He gave up his mantle when he chose the mortal world. As his children we get the choice of our heritage, Ascension...godhood. You won’t get the choice again, Chad.” I looked away and said quietly, “I know.” I smiled gently at Adam’s perplexed look. “I’ll explain later.” “I’m glad you chose us. I... don’t know what I would have done...” Kevin’s eyes went suddenly cold. “Who did this to you?” "No you're not," said Kevin. Adam shot him a look. "Why not?" Kevin's face went dark. "'Cause I'm going to turn their skin inside out then kill them." The declaration was met by a firm nod from Adam. "I'm down with that." I sat up as much as I could with Adam's arms wrapped around my waist. "I think it will be harder than that." I took a deep breath. "We have a problem." Adam and Kevin traded a look. Kevin tilted his head. "It must be a big problem if they almost knifed you and they're not dust on the asphalt." I sighed. "The me that we saw on the security tapes taking the iPad, well it wasn't me. It's clones of all us. We're dealing with fucking clones, courtesy of the Order of the Dying Star. It's their ace in the hole." "You're kidding?" Kevin said faintly. Adam shook his head. "Where did they even get our DNA material for the genetic base?" "The clones that blew up and splattered us," I explained bitterly. I was pissed for not realizing how we got played. "It was cloning gel." Nodding thoughtfully, Adam said, "That's all it would take too, one skin cell or a hair sample to begin DNA replication." "So that means there's a clone of you and Adam, Ryan, Killian and Nathaniel running around somewhere?" asked Kevin. He ran a hand through his hair. I nodded. "And apparently they're done with the whole doing good. All that we stand for, they're over it. They want to be worshipped and they don't care who they have to step on or kill to make that happened." "Fuck," Kevin swore, frowning grimly. "This is bad, like, horrible-oh shit-bad." I squirmed a little in Adam's arms to better look Kevin in the eyes. "What are you talking about? We find them and then it's payback time." "I don't think it's going to be that easy," Adam muttered, troubled. Kevin snorted, eyes shining with worry. "They're identical to you all. They even have your celestial bindings. They know how you think, what your strengths are..." His fingers curled around my wrist as he said, concerned, "They also know your weaknesses." "They're programmed to be evil," said Adam. "If we fight them it's going to be ugly." The words started to sink in past my post not-death fog and I swallowed deeply. Adam was right. He was understating the obvious. It was going to be more than ugly. Our powers at the hands of people not afraid of a little bloodshed... well there was going to be blood alright and it wouldn't stop there. "Shit," I snapped, clenching my fist. Kevin noted my reaction and nodded. "Now you see. The President won't give in to their demands. Imagine DC being obliterated with a Hell Ground Zero or the Executioner's clone going head to head with the entire US military. He'd cripple half the armed forces before they'd take him down. If he wanted to Solaris' clone could melt the polar ice caps and drown this planet." Kevin turned his stare on Adam. "And if your clone is as close to the Omega Point as you are, then... no one is safe." Adam twisted his hands together turning a pensive stare out the window. The Omega Point was the ultimate destination for Atlantean evolution. It was believed that a time in our evolution would come when the mind would be distributed into the fabric of spacetime and everything there ever was to know would be known. There would be nothing that couldn't be done by an individual at the point. Adam as the closest to the Omega Point had snatches, droplets, of the potential limitless abilities of someone at the Omega Point. Even that small amount was enough for him to have amazing abilities. At the height of his powers, Omega's telekinetic blasts were once known to shatter mountains, and if he ever brought his full telepathic might to kill... he could bring half the continent to their knees with a thought. I squeezed Adam's hand and looked up at me, distressed. "We're going to stop them." "I don't like the thought of someone with my abilities taking off the kid gloves," admitted Adam. "It worries me. A lot." Kevin looked out the window at the black sky. "I'm going to go warn the others. They need a heads up before they get jumped too. We all have to be extra careful." "Thanks, Kev," I said thankfully. "I appreciate it." Kevin rested a hand on my shoulder. "Rest up, bro. Be careful from now on, okay?" He shifted his gaze to Adam. "Listen, I'm sorry I flew off the hand the other day with how I was all over you. But Chad was crying, I don't respond well to that. So sorry, man." "I'm aware of your overprotective streak," Adam replied with a half shrug. "I would never do that to Chad-" Kevin nodded, letting out a barely heard sigh. "I know that. I do, I really do. Please, take care of him..." He trailed off as his eyes went oddly glassy, unfocused. "I've got a bad feeling about these clones." "Kevin?" I asked, my fingertips lightly touching his forearm. He blinked rapidly a few times, pulling himself together. "I'm fine." Kevin shook his head a little, his expression all Gaius. "There's something I should remember...but I can't..." "Something about the clones?" I asked, confusion written all over my face. "I'm not sure," he answered, softly. "I'm sure it'll come back to me." Adam made a thoughtful hmm noise. "You think it could be leftover knowledge from being the Trumpet?" Kevin shrugged. "Honestly, I don't know. I know it will come back to me. I'm going to go and warn the guys. The quicker they get a heads up the lesser the chance of something happening to them." I put aside the strange moment. Thinking on it brought on questions which only led to more questions. With a smile and a promise to be careful, Kevin disappeared in a burst of white light and a flash of elegant, angel-like feathers. Adam disentangled himself from his octopus hold on my body. "Come on up front so I can drive you home." "I can drive myself, Adam," I said petulantly, failing and resisting from pouting. He gave me a look. "Please. I'm not letting you out of my sight. I figure I'd spend the night at your house. My relatives are gone for the week to Vermont, and it'll be easy to sneak me into your room." "I'm guessing I don't get a say," I muttered, wondering if the whole being stabbed thing was going to magnify Adam and Kevin's overprotective streaks. I was going to go ahead and check the yes box. "That whole stabbing was a lucky shot, Adam. I'm not some weak little baby." He shrugged with one shoulder. "If he did it once he can do it again. I'm not leaving you alone. Plus, you have to explain to me what you and Kevin were talking about. Ascension, godhood? What did you see on the other side?" Green fields flashed across my mind and starsong trilled the faintest notes at the edge of hearing. I closed my eyes and dug my fingernails into my palms, hard. The pain flooded my body, reminding me where I was and that here was where I needed to be. I wouldn't ever forget that place but it wasn't for me, not anymore and not ever again. "Chad?" I shook my head, rubbing my heart as an ache pounded in my chest. "I'm fine... I'll tell you when we get to my house." I handed over my keys. "Just drive, please." Adam gave me a scrutinizing look but I wasn't up to talking right now. The memory was still too fresh and everything was starting to pile up. The clones, the stabbing, and my death – geez, when it rained it poured. We climbed into the front seat and Adam drove the Blazer to my house, the music a quiet hum in the otherwise silent car ride. I imagine sneaking a guy upstairs undetected was hard, at least it seemed so on TV, but when you had preternatural abilities it was relatively simple. I went in first and did the usual greeting with my Mom, sneered at Morgan and then Adam literally flew up to my bedroom window. Adam was sitting on the desk chair when I entered the bedroom. He took one look at me and crossed the room, wrapping me up in a tight hug. I closed my eyes breathing in the cologne at the crook of his neck. "Go take a shower, baby," said Adam, softly. He pulled at the hem of my blood soaked shirt. "I'll get rid of this." I could only nod, grimacing as I pulled the bloody shirt over my head. Adam dug through the dresser and handed off some clothes to me. He plopped down on the bed and made himself at home as I walked across the hall to the bathroom. The shower was exactly what I needed. I felt more coherent and less like I'd been gang baged behind White Castle between sliders. After getting dressed, I stepped to the mirror and examined my face. My face was too pale and my eyes were bloodshot from sleeping, dying – I don't know, in my contacts. I pulled the dried up lenses from my eyes and tossed them in the trash beside the sink. I dug around in the drawer in the counter for my old glasses and put them on. The glasses were black and those geek chic square frames that were so widely popular nowadays. Once I got back to the room, firmly locking the door behind me, Adam was sitting up on my bed levitating the remote control and a baseball in an elliptical orbit. The objects fell as he turned, gracing me with a soft smile that was too cute on his pillow lined face. Adam held out his arms, tenderness lacing his voice as he said, "C'mere." I practically jumped into his arms, snuggling down close into his warmth. A little sigh left my mouth as his arms wrapped around my middle holding me tight to his chest. "How do you feel?" Adam asked. His breath felt warm against the tip of my ear. "Better," I answered, honestly. "Thanks for...uh, you know, staying with me. I don't want to be alone." A kiss was pressed against the top of my head. "Anytime, sweetheart. I would never leave you after what you went through," he said gently. I nodded and moved out his arms, turning to fully face him. I crossed my legs and took his right hand in mine. I played with the ring around his index finger. It was a simple silver band that belonged to his father and he never took it off. "What do you remember about Atlantis' beginning? I don't mean about us or the Fall, but before? Do you remember the founding?" Adam shook his head and said slowly, "It sounds familiar... like something I heard a long time ago and forgot." "It's not surprising," I conceded, running a hand through my hair with a sigh. "I didn't remember either until I..." I tripped over the words, "almost died." Adam laced our fingers together. "You don't have to tell me." "No, I want to. It's just that place..." I trailed off, thinking of the words and then I stopped. "I don't want to get ahead of myself, so I'll start at the beginning. Sixteen thousand years ago, there was darkness and evil across the stars. It was an awful and brutal time. The chaos was a result of the Last Great War. There was no centralized government to establish peace and star systems enacted blockades, too busy watching their own backs and defending themselves to worry about establishing peace." "The Last Great War?" asked Adam, clearing his throat and knitting his brows together. "I think I remember Lan mentioning that once... it was on Mars. He said Heaven's Trumpet was created after that war." I nodded. "I don't know much about it. Records were pretty much nonexistent then. All I know is that no corner of the universe escaped the war. It waged from galaxy to galaxy. Planets were turned to dust, stars were snuffed out and billions died before the war ended." The history lessons from tutors in Atlantis were sharper than ever as I continued on, "After the war and during this era of chaos is when the Lords in Shadow gained their foothold." "Shit," Adam muttered, rubbing at his forehead with a frown. "Why can't I freakin' remember all of this already." I almost smiled. Here, here. "It took me nearly dying to trigger this Wikipedia entry, so don't let it bother you. Anyway, the Lords in Shadow established their rule across the universe, bringing planet after planet under their control. It lasted for centuries. It didn't seem like the darkness would ever lift. Till a Divine Ancient, one of the First God's couldn't stand it any longer. He approached the other First Gods-" "They Above All, right?" Adam said in realization. "I...can almost remember some of this." I chuckled not even surprised. He was super intelligent, after all. "That's right. The Divine Ancients, First Gods, whatever you want to call them are They Above All." His grip on my hand tightened, his expression turning worried. "You were possessed by one of them. Back in the Ever After when you fully immersed yourself in the Giga Annihilation Program. You said a First God took control of your body when you harnessed the Power Creation." I snorted. "I'm lucky I didn't burn my soul up, too, looking back on it now. I guess being what I am gave me a buffer. It would've served me right for tapping into that primordial power." "That First God in your story is Oriens, isn't it?" asked Adam. "He's the one that noticed the chaos." "Yeah," I admitted, biting my lower lip between my teeth. "He saw the state of the universe and sought to set things right. He gave up his mantle of godhood and descended, taking his people with him to the mortal world. Atlantis was built on Earth and under Oriens' rule the framework of the cosmos was shifted. Peace was ushered in and light beat the darkness of the Lords. Atlantis became the capital to a prosperous and peaceful empire that stretched across the stars." "Humans were so wild on Earth back then and primitive," Adam said distantly, remembering. "But they had potential and it was determined they would one day follow in our footsteps, so we protected and taught them as best we could from the darker creatures in the world." Then, Atlantis fell. An empire that had once spanned dozens of star systems across hundreds of light years of space collapsed in a sneak genocidal campaign. The Lords in Shadow turned their full might of their kingdom on the heart of our empire, destroying Atlantis in one fell swoop. Then they spread outward, turning their demonic horde upon the host of worlds allied under the Atlantean banner. Hundreds of worlds were consumed by the demonic army. Most died in defense of their planet and some could've survived. But even if something was left of the empire there would be nothing back here to receive it. A strong possibility was that those surviving worlds would have initiated protocol quarantine procedures, so who knows what happened to them after sustaining in isolation. This is why I didn't like to think of Atlantis. It led down this road and frankly, it was fucking depressing as hell to think of. All those lives lost and for what? A stalemate that lasted for fifteen thousand years till the Lords eventually got their asses kicked. "Depressing, isn't it?" Adam said lightly, breaking through my melancholy. I mustered a half smile, shrugging. "Yeah, kind of. It's hard not to get swept up. We were talking about my father and Atlantis..." I took a moment to find a starting point and then continued, "Gaius and I always knew what father used to be. He wasn't a First God anymore, but his divinity was always an option to us. It's in our blood. He told us after dying a mortal death, the choice of Ascension would be given along with the option of retiring to the Celestial Realm, the home of They Above All." "You gave your divinity up?" asked Adam amazed, leaning forward. "Chad...It must've been paradise." I looked away. "It was... it felt like home. I've never felt more at peace, more right than any other time in my life. I just wanted to rest and forget my burdens." A soft smile came over my face as his face fell, hurt. "But I didn't, I couldn't leave knowing I had people counting on me." I placed my hand over his heart. "You wouldn't let me go. It's how I was able to find my way back. Thank you." Adam suddenly lunged forward, burying his face in my chest and sliding his arms tight around my waist. "This may sound selfish and shitty," he said, voice muffled as he pressed his face into my shirt. "I'm glad you chose me over heaven. I love you too fuckin' much. I don't know what I would do without you." I swallowed thickly and said, "It's sort of scary but you mean everything to me. What we have is pretty fucking epic." He let out a bark of laughter and it made me smile. "I know." "How long are we going have to do this?" asked Chad, turning his stare up to the ceiling. "All the fighting and putting our lives on the line... is this how the rest of our lives are going to play out? What about the future? You're going to New York soon—" "We don't know that for sure," Adam interrupted gently. "I haven't heard anything back from Juilliard." I flicked his ear. "We all know you nailed that audition." "Then why haven't I heard anything back yet," he replied, playing devil's advocate. I rolled my eyes. "It's barely February. They'll be banging on your door in a few weeks. New York is where you're meant to be. Your voice is amazing and you can act circles around Efron." "That's high praise coming from you," Adam laughed, tracing a circle on my thigh with his finger. "We all know you'd blow him in a heartbeat." "Have you seen those eyes," I retorted, sighing dreamily. Adam looked at me, hazel eyes showing more green than brown. "You are so Disney's bitch. That's how they lure you in." "What, by waving the pretty in front of our faces?" "It's how they roll." He pulled away and rubbed his palm flat on my stomach. Right over the spot where I had been stabbed. "Are you sure you're alright?" Believe it or not I was. And what did that say about me? Less than three hours ago I had been lying in a pool of my own blood, practically dead. It was sad that I was starting to get used to crap like this happening. A year and a half ago, I would've been curled up in a corner, bawling my eyes out and listening to sad songs on blast. That boy was long gone. I managed a real smile for Adam and said, "I'm fine. Seriously. You don't have to worry." "I'll always worry about you," he whispered all soft and sweet. I leaned over and placed a tiny kiss on his lips. It wasn't passionate or sexy. It was a chaste pressing of lips together. In that simple action, I said to him I was still here, reassuring him that I wasn't going anymore and that I love him. "Don't worry about me too much," I said, tapping his nose with my finger. "I can take care of myself. And that concern goes two ways, baby. I want you to watch your back. These clones aren't playing. Cobalt went after—" Adam made a face. "Cobalt?" "Horrible name, I know," I agreed, shaking my head. "That's my clone. Ryan's clone is Reece and those dicks double-teamed me. So don't expect any sympathy or anything when you meet them. They're coldblooded killers and smart." Adam nodded. "Hell yeah, they're smart. They attacked you first. Without you the rest of us would've have been too fucked up to see them coming for us. And we would've been without a leader." He let out a small laugh. "Killian's second in command and with him and Ryan fighting..." He trailed off with a faraway look in his eyes. "Damn." I frowned. "What?" His eyes were bright with realization of a puzzle solved. "Don't you get it? That show in the mall that you guys saw. They set it up! It was on purpose." "Divide and conquer," I said softly, finally seeing the bigger picture. "Without solid leadership, and deceit formed within in the group... we would've fallen like dominos." Adam let out a rough sigh. He looked well and truly worried. "These motherfuckers are diabolical." "Shit," I swore, rubbing a hand roughly down my face. "That plan was brilliant." I met his eyes, frowning. "Their threat level just went up. This shit just got real." "It's been... wait." He looked at me, eyebrow raised in that adorable Vulcan way. "Was that from Bad Boys 2?" I snapped my fingers in front of his face. "You know I quote movies when I get emotional. Focus, Adam." He mockingly fixed his face into an exaggerated intense look. I jabbed him in the side with two fingers and he squawked like the little girl he was. I shot him a smug smirk, ignoring his glare. "Anyway, I think it would be best if we do a buddy system. None of us needs to be alone." His palm was warm against my stomach. "I call dibs on being your buddy." "I think that's a given," I said dryly, half smiling. Adam glanced at the clock and groaned. "We actually have to go to school in the morning. We better get on that sleeping thing otherwise we'll look like hell in the morning." "Caring about your beauty sleep?" I teased, smirking. "You are so gay." Adam lips quirked into a condescending smile. "Last time I checked you love the dick more than I do. Always slobbing all over my knob-" I narrowed my eyes. "You know what, I was probably going to blow you in the morning as a wakeup but you can forget that, fucker." His eyes widened huge and round like saucers. "Let's not be that way. You know I'm slow." "I can't wait until we get married so I can just put your ass out on the couch." Adam ran a hand down my stomach. "So how's about, I agree to swallow forever if you put the morning blowjob back on the table." "Bitch, please," I scoffed. "You love the taste of my cum." He grinned like the Cheshire fuckin' cat. "That didn't sound like a yes. I'm assuming spitting's fine, then." "Fine," I said, thrusting out my hand. "It's back on." We shook on it. Adam sighed wistfully, "Morning blowjobs are awesome." We finally cracked up. He tackled me to the mattress and we laughed as we wrestled, trying to pin the other. Adam won. Damn his Bowflex workout routine. "Mmm," he whispered, his face hovering over mine with a flirty smile. "I win." Adam leaned down and kissed me. It lasted for a while until time became a pressing factor. We finally decided that maybe we really did need to go to sleep. Settling down on our sides, Adam snuggled behind me and I burrowed into his arms. "Goodnight," I yawned out. Adam placed a kiss against the nape of my neck. "Night, sweetheart." Was it paranoia if you had a legitimate reason for looking over your shoulder every five minutes. Hell no. It was being actively defensive. It was nice outside so the courtyard was filled with students gathered in their cliques, eating lunches anywhere near a flat surface. Steps, tables and ledges it didn't matter. We managed to score a table under the oak tree that was coveted for its awesomeness at providing shade from the sun. Killian shot me a look as I glanced suspiciously over my shoulder for the fourth time in thirty seconds. "I swear to God if you do that one more time I will stab you." Adam flinched at the word stab and Kevin simultaneously glared at the blond. "How about I stab you? Tone down the bitchface, Killian." And the over protectiveness kicked in right on cue. I wasn't bothered by Killian's comment. Like I told Adam last night, I was over it. I wasn't repressing or anything. Quite the opposite. I was pissed and I wanted some old fashioned revenge, Beatrix Kiddo style. "Nathaniel said if we run into one of the clones we should immediately call for backup," Ryan rasped out. Adam and I traded looks of concern. For once Ryan wasn't sitting next to Killian. Kevin sat between them, since they still weren't okay. Ryan looked zapped of energy, his eyes clouded and his face tight with tiredness. Killian looked about the same, but he was just better at hiding it. It was a needed skill to have when one's income depended on their looks. "So what's the plan?" asked Kevin, pointing his fork at me. I glanced around and pitched my voice low. "I worked up a location spell this morning to find where they're hiding out. It should've worked since I'm essentially looking for ourselves, but it damn near blew up in my face." Ryan frowned with puzzlement etched on his face. "They must have some type of ward or something up. I guess they thought ahead." A ward wasn't hard to do. A symbol or a charm drawn correctly and powered with the right juice could theoretically block even the devil himself. I hadn't had to do one in ages, but I still knew how to whip one up if needed. "I don't see why we need to be so careful," said Killian, flippantly. "We've had training and actual experience and they're basically like, infants. They don't stand a chance against us." Adam shook his head. "That's not true. These clones have our genetic memory, meaning everything that we've done and experienced they know as well." "Up to when they were cloned," interjected Ryan. "So that means they know about our families, lives and even Atlantis." Kevin grinned like a shark. "But they don't know about me." "You're right," I whispered in amazement. "They only know everything up to when we got splattered." Killian smirked. "Looks like we just found our ace in the hole." I gave Kevin a pointed look. "If you get a clear shot I want you to take it." "Done," Kevin replied with a decisive nod. "I'll vaporize them." He wasn't joking either. The twinkle in his eye was a promise unfulfilled. Halo was a force to be reckoned with, and with him on our side this tipped the scales in our favor. And because of this lack of knowledge we had the element of surprise. We were so going to rock their world. "So the odds are in our favor for once," said Ryan with a little smile. I grinned. "That doesn't happen often." Killian snorted. "It would if these jerks didn't roll with, like, a whole army." "We had an army too, once upon a time," Adam pointed out. "The military deferred to us back then." Kevin shrugged. "You were guardians of the realm. It was fitting. Plus the soldiers looked up to you guys." Kevin and I hadn't had a detailed conversation about our past lives. First it had been because I figured he needed time to deal with being back from the Void. More time passed and I thought he would like awhile to process the ramifications of having Gaius' memories. Well, five months passed and we were here, and the talk never happened. Looking into his eyes now and seeing them shine with crystal clear memories of a time I couldn't wholly remember, I was hit with a wave of guilt. A talk was long past due. I should've been there for him and made sure he was really okay with everything. Brother of the year award and jerk best friend, right here. "Do you miss it?" Ryan asked the question I should've known the answer. But like them I didn't know and it hurt. "Remembering things then and seeing it now must be overwhelming. Especially interacting with us, we're so different from our past incarnations." Kevin played with the wrapping encasing his burger. "I'm still me, I guess. At the same time I have these memories. It's like suddenly remembering something I'd forgotten, like a revelation. I can remember going on diplomatic meetings with my dad and Emrys, learning to fly a starship and I can remember all of you guys. How you used to be." His expression went sad and he said, quietly, "And yes, I miss it. Every damn day." I wanted to reach across the table and hug him till he was blue in the face. I just wanted to see that miserable expression gone from his face. It wasn't right to see Kevin without a smile. "But that's in the past," said Kevin with a note of finality in his voice "What's done is done. And we have an awesome future to look forward to." Adam lifted his bottle of Coke. "I can get behind that thought. And the sooner we get rid of these clones the better." "I don't like the idea of someone out there wearing my face and abusing my powers," I muttered. Killian nodded with a grim frown. "They can do some serious damage to our names." "Understatement," retorted Adam, running his hand through his hair. He frowned as a girl rushed past him like she was on the track team. "I just hope we don't destroy the city or something fighting them," I commented, noticing a boy running across the quad in my peripheral vision. "I know if my back was pushed against the wall, I would do anything to take out the fucker doing the pushing." Ryan nodded at the crowd gathering all over the courtyard. "What's going on around here?" Everywhere I looked there were small groups crowded together in the quad. Their voices mixed together in an inaudible soundtrack of sound. I leaned back on the bench peering through the mass of bodies. They were gathered around cell phones and at some of the tables kids were huddled over laptops, and wait a second, were they all on YouTube. "What? Did someone leak the last episode of Game of Thrones?" asked Killian. I narrowed my eyes at him. "The pop culture references are mine, so back off." "Idiot," he huffed, looking his usual annoyed self. Ryan already had whipped out his phone by the time I had a good comeback planned. The Atlantean crafted device, which was linked to the servers in the outpost, was an amazing piece of technology. Probably one of the most advanced pieces of tech on the planet. Ryan's fingers tapped deftly at the keys and he made a thoughtful noise as he pressed his finger to a link. "I'm on YouTube now. These videos on the homepage are new, but they're getting insanely high hits," Ryan explained, studying the screen carefully. Kevin stared leaned down to better look at the phone and his face fell. "Well shit." Adam and I practically bolted to their side of the table. The five of us crowded around the phone and we stared, slack jawed, as a video played before our eyes. A Soul Reaper Reprise tore through the street and slammed into the wall of Central Bank downtown. The wall exploded in a shower of stone immediately followed by screaming and hysterical crying The quality wasn't great so it had to have been taken on a camera or a cell phone. The video was grainy and jerked around a lot, but still it kept on recording. Smoke was thick in the air but it was enough to make out four figures unleashing hell on earth as they strode toward the gaping hole made in the bank's wall. The camera zoomed in on one of their faces, but the picture only showed a blur as if the image was digitally altered. It panned back to show a sunshine yellow beam cut the air and slice a man clean in half. The person filming screamed and took off running. The video was cut a second later. "That was a Dawn Bringer," said Killian, looking pissed and confused. My lips twisted into a grim frown. "And a Soul Reaper. So what these douchebags are bank robbers or something now?" "Look," said Ryan, pointing at the corner of the screen. "In the related videos column, there are links to other videos. Christ, they've been at this all day. These videos are all different robberies." Kevin looked at me curiously. "Why did the camera blur like that when it focused on their faces?" "It's part of our celestial bindings," I explained quietly. "When we initiate our armor a disguise field is automatically brought online. Even people you know won't recognize you." He blinked, looking surprised and impressed. "Handy." "That video was the most recent one?" I asked and Ryan nodded. "Okay, let's make a little field trip. We're going to go have ourselves a showdown before they get far. We're leaving. Now." The hardness in my voice went unquestioned. No one paid us any attention as we dumped our lunches and walked out of the quad at a quick clip. We hastily made our way toward the abandoned baseball field at the back of the campus. It was tucked away under a shelter of trees, thin rays of light piercing through the leaves and onto the mossy concrete. The grass itself was slightly overgrown, weeds peeking up out of the pitcher's mound, the dusty bases long gone. It had been a long time since the field had been used. People had even forgotten it was here. The newer field, donated by an alumnus turned celebrity, on the east side of the school got all the action now. We ducked behind the old dugout, entirely out of view from any spying eyes. "Power up, boys," I stated, revenge rolling thick in my gut. "Let's kick ass and take names." We triggered our celestial bindings and silently transformed into our Chosen aspects. The black body suits replaced our civilian clothing and I took a deep breath as magic hummed beneath my fingertips. Lowering the hood of my cloak, I nodded at Halo. "Your abilities are more compatible with manipulating space. Can you portal us downtown?" "Does baking come easily to your people?" Kevin retorted. I elbowed him in the side and his grin smoothed into an expression of concentration as he faced the empty space. Blinding white light shined forth, forming first in width, then length into a two-dimensional rectangle of inter-dimensional fold travel. The speed and quality of the portal was impressive. I could do the same but not as seamlessly and nowhere near as proficient. We stepped through the portal that allowed a twenty two mile journey to be covered in under a second. Instantly we were assaulted with the smell of smoke and the thick smell of burning fire. Cars were turned over in the street, fires burned in busted store windows and everywhere you looked there was another tale of destruction. I turned away from the sight of the dead. There weren't many, but the dead bodies splayed along the concrete cooling in their own blood was a heart rendering sight to witness. I swallowed heavily, putting the images to the back of my mind. "Where are these fuckers?" A fireball shot into the air and we spun around, taking off around the corner where the display originated from. We skidded to a halt just in time to see a police car hurtle through the window of a candy shop. It was one of many ruined police vehicles that littered the street like a graveyard of cars. They were courtesy of the four boys in front of us. Even with their backs to us, they were recognizable. Cobalt and Reece I zeroed in on instantly. Adam and Killian's clones flanked them. It was another second before I took notice of their outfits. Instead of the black body suits we had on, they wore entirely different ensembles. Our armor was tied to our celestial bindings and the embedded chameleon wards adapted the suits to fit the environment. Ages ago we once wore tunics and silver armor, so thank God the techs that designed our suits thought ahead. Their armor was a fashion show at best. A club outfit at worst. They all wore tight black leather pants, matching black t-shirts and motorcycle jackets. Not in black, however. Oh no, that would've been too Goth apparently. Their jackets were color coordinated. Cobalt had on blue, surprise, surprise. Reece was donned in white, Killian's clone wore a silver jacket and Adam's clone was decked in red. "You're kidding me," said Kevin derisively, voice cutting through the air. "Did someone get lost in the Power Chamber's supply closet? No one told me we were going against the fucking Power Rangers." They turned around slowly like they didn't have a care in the world. Cobalt's face lit up and then his expression fell when he caught sight of my heated face. "Oh," he sighed, sounding immensely disappointed. "It's you guys. And you somehow managed to save the lead cocksucker." I glared at him. "You've got an ass kicking coming your way, dick." "By you clowns?" asked Cobalt incredulously. Killian's clone eyed me appraisingly. "He's a cute little fuck, but I thought we killed him." "You're not wrong, Korbin," said Reece, eyeing me sharply. "I gutted him like a fish." Adam's clone flicked his gaze to my left, sizing up Halo appraisingly. "The name's Axel and what's your name, sexy?" A dark smile turned at Kevin's lips. "Your worst nightmare." "Uh oh!" Cobalt called out, laughing loudly. "We got a live one here, folks." Korbin cocked his head. "Since when do the Chosen take recruits?" I narrowed my eyes. "That's none of your business. Either surrender and come quietly or face the consequences." "By all means, we'll take the consequences," Cobalt stated, uncaringly. Everyone tensed up and slid into partial crouches as we prepared to fight. I didn't take my eyes off the four duplicates, who mirrored us like some eerie funhouse mirror. "Halo, alpha strike on my command," I ordered, flatly. My mouth curved into a smirk. "Drop them." Halo rushed forward in a leap of black and silver. White light, shining like liquid fire, burst from his hands at the peak of his jump. Then, as his feet touched concrete two balls of brilliant white launched from his hands. They rocketed forward down the twenty meter range at roughly the speed of light. Cobalt saw the attack for what it was and his eyes widened, as he hastily threw up his hands. Both of the white balls of death impacted less than a second later, detonating in a massive flash of white light and explosive force. The shield I'd thrown up protected us from fallout, as we safely watched the dispersing white cloud of energy. Axel had escaped the attack by leaping skyward at a high rate of speed, and he lowered himself to the ground as his fellow clones picked themselves up. Cobalt escaped the full brunt of the attack by hastily erecting a shield, but he wasn't able to stop all of the attack. The attack shredded through his barrier and the energy ball dumped its remaining potential into the clone, knocking him off kilter and blowing him five meters downrange. They were the lucky ones. Reece's left side was burnt and smoking so heavily that I could smell the charred skin from here. Grimacing, he helped pick up Korbin who looked no better. His entire torso was bloody and he wobbled to his feet, scowling with a face pinched with pain. Cobalt pinned Halo with an expression that was stunned, confused and wondrous all at once. "What are you?" The question came out sounding amazed and almost rapturous. It was unnerving how he looked at Halo. It was like he was seeing the sunrise for the first time. I didn't like it. "He damn near blew through the damage absorption capacitors in our armor," snapped Reece, angrily. "What kind of powerhouse freak are you?" Cobalt looked up from where he had been staring at the ground. I looked closer. No, he wasn't staring. He had been drawing. With bloodied hands, he'd dawn a sigil on the asphalt using his own blood. It was a circle dominated by a triangle at its peak with symbols tracing it. "I know what he is," Cobalt sang out in a high and teasing voice. He stared hard at Halo and sneered, "Go back to Heaven." Cobalt slapped his bloody palm onto the sigil's center. I caught a glimpse of Kevin's frightened face, then there was a too quick flash of light and he was gone. My face fell as horror took root of every sense I had. Grinning widely, Axel gleefully clapped his hands. "Again! Again!" "I don't play well with heaven's hookers," said Cobalt coldly, glaring at me. "Your angel's gone bye-bye." With pure fury radiating from my gaze, I let the caged magic swirl to the surface. Chaos born wind exploded outward with my rage, as my aura shined blue and clear, glowing impossibly bright like a second sun. "Oh, goody," said Korbin, smirking. "Are we about to see a show?" He wanted a show, so I gave him one. I gave them all one.
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