That night, I looked around the table at my family. It was a sombre affair. Although they tried to hide it, their eyes told me another story. So, to help them get over their funk, I suggested that we go see the musical Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Dad readily agreed and I even managed to drag Elsa, Gram's old companion into coming.
We had to take two cars, so Kevin and I went in his, while dad drove the SUV. I had to smile when we all piled out in the underground car park of Star City. It was nice to do a family thing together after the things I had gone through. I linked arms with Kevin and, as a group, we made our way to the elevator. I heard laughter and giggling, normal things, but to me they were precious. I gripped Kevin's arm tighter to hold in the tears that wanted to well to the surface.
Kevin gave me a searching look and I smiled up at him, willing the tears back down. I stared hungrily at my family and then into his face. His eyes widened and he griped my hand tighter as he pulled me to a stop.
My heart pounded as I watched his eyes shine with deep emotion. The family stopped a little distance away, looking at us quizzically. He touched my face reverently, "J-James, is it really you?"
I stared up at him, frozen with indecision. I had to defuse this without making it obvious. I pasted a smile upon my face and with a trickle of healing I felt blood rush to my face in a blush. "Thank you for the compliment Kevin, but you and I both know I'm not him." I pulled my hands out of his and walked towards my family. My knees felt wobbly and it was the hardest thing not to run back into Kevin's arms and confess everything. If Mother Nature's instructions hadn't been so specific I would have damned the consequences. However, I knew that my actions would affect the future and I had to act like a responsible guardian and not a young teenager desperately trying to hold on to his lover. I could deal with my Kevin when the future panned out the way it was supposed to.
I walked into the elevator as dad held it open for us. Kevin placed himself directly beside me and wrapped his hand around mine. This time I refused to look him in the eye and stared straight ahead. He shook my hand to get my attention and slowly I lifted my face to his. He kept searching my eyes for something and I held my breath at his perusal.
He blinked a few times before he lowered his face. I sighed inwardly, hurting for him as I watched him struggle with his emotions. Dad looked at me and raised his eyebrow quizzically. I shook my head indicating it was nothing and we proceeded into the main lobby. We had booked online and we proceeded towards the Lyric theatre. Star City was a large complex and as we were getting snacks for in the theatre, I nearly dropped my drink.
Leaning casually on a stool near the pizzeria was Jay, disguised the way I had left him. Sitting beside him, naturally, was future Kevin under the glamour. He was watching us and when he saw me staring, he surreptitiously winked at me before turning back to his drink. I eyed his glass wondering if it was an alcoholic beverage and stared suspiciously at Jay for any answers. I wasn't sure what they were doing here but if they came then there was obviously something going on. I had to get close to them without my family figuring out what I was about.
Call it instinct or a hunch, but I knew that using my telepathy to communicate was a really bad idea. I didn't know why, but I had to trust my instincts so I refrained. The fact that Jay remained silent, telepathically speaking, was also an indication that `radio' silence was necessary. With that realisation I scanned the room for anything out of the ordinary. I frowned as my senses picked up strange vibrations and what could only be described as static.
Jay jerked a little as my psychic trailers moved past him. Dad called to me, and slowly I made my way over to him. My feelers were still scanning the source of that strange static and vibrating energy. I felt something tug on my psychic feelers and I jolted to a stand still turning sharply to see what had done that. I could feel my body loosening into a fighting stance.
I felt another tug and traced it back to Jay. He smiled faintly before shaking his head. I pulled back my feelers, getting the message. Let them handle it. Whatever they were up to, I was going to make damn sure that I found out what it was. Right now, my mission was to ensure that my family was safe from whatever Jay and future Kevin were hunting.
The show was stunningly visual with the music setting the stage for an outrageously fantastic performance. I kept an eye on my family watching them laugh, but I felt edgy trying to glimpse the future or just get some kind of feeling to tell me that Jay and future Kevin were okay. So far the roof hadn't tumbled down nor were there people screaming and running madly around.
That was the only reason I hadn't gone searching for those two mischief-makers; that and the possibility that my family could get hurt in the crossfire. In the meantime, the past-Kevin kept glancing at me worriedly. Dad was also staring at me on the odd occasion. I wasn't good at hiding my agitation and if I used my empathy to try and block my emotions dad would sense me using that particular talent. It was times like this that I wanted to scream in frustration.
Kevin reached over and grabbed my hand. I jumped and stared up into his eyes. He leaned his face close to my ear so he wouldn't be heard. "What's going on?"
Deceptions and lies, I thought to myself. I hated telling lies to Kevin, and I never was really good at it to begin with. "There's something odd here..."
Kevin stiffened beside me. "Is it dangerous?"
I shook my head. "I don't sense anything dangerous. More along the lines of something lying in wait."
"Should we leave?"
"I've been wondering that all night. But there are thousands of people here. I can't leave if I can contain it."
"Are you sure? I mean...you said you're not James, just a doppelganger. Perhaps you should let this one go?"
I stared at Kevin and saw the underlying message. I smiled at him and reached my hand up to cup his face. As subtlety went he wasn't the best but he was trying. I could feel his nervous tension flowing off him and my empathy responded, feeding off the emotion. "I'll be fine, I promise."
He gritted his teeth and stared at me in frustration. "I wish there was something I could do."
As I pulled my hand away from his face I felt a strange droning noise. It sounded a long way off, but it gave me chills. My hand hesitated over his skin before I replaced it. That noise grew louder and my face blanched as I heard the insidious call of the sword, Redemption. It wasn't here right now, but it was coming soon.
That's when pandemonium broke out. A burst of energy rippled across the crowd and I was slammed back into my chair as it passed me. It tried to enter my body, but I managed to wrap a shield before it could. Because Kevin was holding onto me as I jerked backwards, he too was wrapped in my shield. I looked towards my family, fear plain upon my face. They didn't seem overly affected. But I needed to know for certain.
"What was that?" Kevin asked me shakily. He looked around to see if anyone else had felt it but the audience, including the rest of my family, kept watching the show.
"I'm not sure, but let me check on the others." I replied.
I scanned over my families bodies while I assessed the situation and stared down upon the thousands of other viewers. That strange force had entered all these people and it was imperative that I discover exactly what it was. My healing travelled over my family, trickling across them like a kaleidoscope of light. You couldn't see it with the naked eye but, to my inner eye, the colours were dazzling.
I gritted my teeth. A cord as dark and thin as a hair was attached to each of my family leading towards the stage. I spread my healing outwards and felt it ripple and expand. I saw the same thing with the rest of the audience. For a second I was overwhelmed by the prospect of helping so many people at once. I had never had to stretch my power in this way. Taking a deep breath I straightened my shoulders. So be it.
My healing churned around me, changing colour as it tried peeling and burning at the cord. I couldn't get a grip on it and worry slashed through me hard and strong. I was about to telepathically call out to Jay, when a burst of dread and terror filled my heart. My precog was warning me, radio silence, even if it didn't know where the source of danger was coming from.
I leaned over my chair towards dad. "We need to get out of here." My mind went into overdrive as I wondered where the heck Kevin and Jay were. I was even more furious that they had allowed this to happen with my family here. If it was this dangerous they should have let me in on the situation and I could have sent everyone home.
A surge of satisfaction flared through me as my healing finally found a way to break the connection with this ominous cord. Its dark roots had spread towards the heart, solar plexus and sacral chakra points feeding directly off the emotions and energy fields these places possessed. I felt my tree respond to my anger with just plain tiredness from the way things kept happening around me. It built within me and I drew upon my empathic power. Spreading it like a blanket I could see it shining a luminescent white as I threw it over everyone.
Dad stared at me with shock as he sensed me draw upon my base power. He gasped as that empathic blanket hit him. "What was that for?" he asked.
"Something strange is going on here. Get everyone out."
"What are you going to do?"
My eyes kept scanning as I watched my power settle over everyone. Those cords detached and fluttered in an invisible wind drawing back towards the stage. I stood up and pulled out of time. This was an ability that my now deceased cousin Simon had taught me. The world went slightly hazy, as if I was seeing the world under water. Those black strands waved and slid sinuously around all the while moving slowly deeper towards back stage. I wasn't as proficient as Simon in this skill, but it allowed me to travel to places faster and much quicker. It would only last a few moments; that's all I could manage.
I wrapped telekinesis around me and flew towards the stage. Everyone's faces were busy watching the show. Even if they looked up they wouldn't have seen me anyway. I wasn't slowing time down, just slipping into another dimension that wasn't constrained by time. Like Alice in the looking glass.
I sped up shooting past the actors and singers on stage, admiring some of the guys frozen in short denim shorts and nothing else. Concentrating on the task at hand, I followed past the stage crew and around a corner. It went past a door and down a side passage. I followed, feeling my hold on the ability to pull out of time slipping from my grasp. I needed to hurry.
The side passage spiralled into a deeper basement, and I realised we were beneath the stage. There was a mechanical contraption in the centre of the floor which acted as the rotation gadget for Priscilla's pink bus. I felt the world return to normal around me and heard shouting and the sound of scuffles.
I moved quickly around the enormous contraption and saw Kevin and Jay fighting off something that could have come from the movie Men in Black. I would have laughed if the threat wasn't so serious. Tentacles swarmed over the two, yet those limbs originated from a bronze metal box. Its incongruous nature disorientated me for a second, but I shook it off and created an empathic bubble in my hands and threw it at the creature.
"No!" Jay shouted.
My bubble hit and the creature swirled and shuddered, its tentacles retreating a little. Within the next blink of an eye I watched as the tentacles grew larger and stronger. It shook itself a little and if it had a voice box to roar, I'm sure it would have. However, another burst of that strange power short forth. I raised my hands quickly creating a shield to prevent it from attaching itself to the audience once more.
I gasped as that strange power pushed against my telekinetic shield like the crashing of waves. I wasn't fast enough to enclose the energy spurt completely and I sensed Jay's power like a force of nature. I gritted my teeth as his power rolled over me and prevented the remnants of the enemy's energy from escaping.
I turned to look at him and my vision split. I saw Jay and behind him, stood ephemeral shapes of thousands of people holding the shoulder of the one in front. The line was so long I couldn't see the end and I shuddered as all their eyes swirled with a dark mist. Jay turned to look at me and so did all those people holding onto his shoulder.
"Keep it from projecting any more dark webs with your telekinesis." Jay commanded.
I nodded my head, trying to stop the fear from showing on my face. I had seen the image of him with all those ancestors before, who held his title. But, to actually see and feel the power he held was overwhelming. It almost bordered upon the same strength of Mother Nature herself. I bolstered my courage and stared back at all those people behind him. Their eyes captured me and I felt myself falling. Strange shapes filled my mind as I slid into vertigo. Untold truths and knowledge were held inside those shapes, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't access it. I stood there knowing that answers were just out of reach, whispering. And then I felt the brush of something large and insidious rub against my mind and it took all my will and courage not to scream.
The sound of Jay's voice pulled me away from that strange and terrifying place. "Are you listening, James?"
I shook myself like a dog, trying to concentrate on what he was saying, while the last remnants of my fear slid away. It took a moment to register what he was talking about, and remembered I was here to help with this tentacled monster.
"What did you want me to do?"
Jay looked at me quizzically, noting how I refused to stare at him. "Stop the dark webs from leaving this room."
I assumed he meant the dark cords that I saw when this monster shot energy out through the audience, earlier. I had to pull myself together. Jay turned and looked at Kevin. "I need you to distract it while I go in for the kill."
I wanted to protest and say that it was too dangerous for Kevin, but I held my tongue. Instead, I wrapped my telekinesis around the entire room so that Kevin and Jay had space to manoeuvre and still keep the dark web contained. I wrapped a telekinetic glove around Kevin's body and tried to do the same with Jay, only to feel my bubble dissipate around him.
He looked at me and smiled before I felt his ancient energy rise and encompass us. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up as he rushed toward the box out of which the tentacles were writhing. It tried to attack him, but Kevin was there in a flash deflecting the blows. His sword shone a sickly yellow as it made contact, hacking them away but only to have them grow back.
I narrowed my eyes with suspicion at Jay. Kevin obviously couldn't sense his great power, but I could. I knew without a doubt that he could have taken this creature on by himself. Instead, I watched as Kevin fought furiously, creating an open space for him and Jay to continue. The tentacles swirled furiously trying to stop the two, but Kevin was a force to be reckoned with and I watched almost hypnotised as he swung that sword around him with strength, agility and masculine grace.
Jay reached the box, and that ancient power I could sense all around me struck it. With the amount of power behind the blow, it should have shattered into tiny pieces. Instead, the lid on it closed. It felt like the room had decompressed as the tentacles faded away. That strange vibration and odd energy when I first walked into the Lyric theatre came back as I stared at the box. I walked up to get a closer look. Beside it lay a desiccated corpse that had been hidden by the mass of tentacles until now.
"What is that?" I asked, pointing at the box.
Jay looked up with that swirling mist still in his eyes. I felt as if I were looking into a deep void and I looked down to avoid his gaze. My heart beat tripled as I realised I had nearly fallen again. I had the impression that if I had stared longer I might never have found my way back from that dark place.
Jay reached out and grasped my chin, and I closed my eyes as he tilted it up. "Look at me, James."
I shook my head, keeping my eyes firmly closed. He gentled his voice before he held my face firmly with two hands.
"What's going on?" Kevin panted, his body still running on adrenalin from the battle.
Jay shook me gently, and I finally opened my eyes. His normal eyes stared back at me. "Your gift of seeing me for who I really am is not something that everyone has. You had a touch of it when we first met, and I thought that was as far as that talent would progress but, because of your journeys and the faery magic that flows through you, it has grown." I kept staring at him, still a little unsure. He smiled sadly at me. "I would never hurt you, James."
Kevin came over and placed his arms around me protectively, pulling me away from Jay's embrace at the same time. "James, what is he talking about?"
I gripped Kevin a little tighter. I didn't want to talk about it, but I knew I had to say something. "There are dark and powerful things that he likes to keep from people. His power scares me." I brushed my face against his shirt. "Ignore me. I'm just acting silly." I turned my attention to the box that Jay held. As far as I was concerned our earlier conversation was over and Kevin knew me well enough not to push further.
Jay spoke up, "This is Pandora's box."
My eyebrows rose. "The Pandora's box?" We had studied classical literature in history. Pandora's box had been one of the subjects we covered, and I had considered it merely a myth made up when the Greeks were considered the epitome of civilization. Instead, to realise that the box was real, and that possibly Pandora could have been too, was mind-boggling.
Jay looked towards the rotating mechanical shaft and frowned. "Let's get out of here. My spell will fade soon, so the engineers and part of the stage crew will be down here any minute." He turned towards the corpse and I watched as it sank into the concrete. He turned back to Kevin and me and asked if we were ready. I nodded my head and felt Jay's power wrap around us. With my next breath, we were standing beside a blue 69 Mustang. The steering wheel was on the left, which meant it was an American import.
I eyed the flashy car and quirked my eyebrow at Jay. "This is your undercover car? How the heck did you get it past customs so quickly?"
His smile flashed at me. "Well, since you made me so pretty and all, I thought it would just go perfectly with this new face. Besides, since I can teleport, I can take anything I want anywhere in the world."
Kevin chuckled as I rolled my eyes and waited for Jay to unlock the car. I wasn't that knowledgeable about cars, but I knew this would be noticeable and frowned. "You do realise if a cop follows you, they'll check your license plate numbers on their system right?"
Jay looked at me slightly amused. "When there are two mind readers in the car, not to mention a precog, I think we'll be safe."
Being a two door, Jay folded his seat so I could squeeze into the back. Sinking into the leather seat I shook my head. "You take too many risks," I muttered as I put my seatbelt firmly around me.
Jay shrugged. "Life would be awfully dull if you didn't take a few risks every once and a while."
I stared at him with my frown still etched on my face. I wasn't used to seeing Jay so cavalier about things. Kevin turned around and saw my expression. "Relax babe, it's his way of calming down."
These two obviously were connecting if Kevin was able to read him after just a few days together. I looked out the window. "What the heck was Pandora's box doing in the Lyrics theatre?" I asked. "And why didn't you tell me about this before?"
My lips firmed as Jay wove in and out of traffic. Ever since mum's death, I hated speedsters. "Pandora's box comes under my jurisdiction, not yours, James. Who I tell is up to my discretion."
"Fine. But you still haven't answered my first question. How did it get there?"
"The box has a strange way of breaking confinement. It was designed that way."
It answered my question without really answering anything. I tried another tactic. "So who was that corpse beside the box?"
Jay sighed, working the kinks out of his neck. "You're obviously not going to give up until you get the full story. Besides, you probably deserve to hear the truth. The family that had been given the responsibility of keeping an eye on Pandora's Box grew lax. It disappeared from its confined space without the family any wiser. It appeared beneath the stage because it draws strength from large crowds. That corpse was one of the back stage hands who was foolish enough to open it. I was the closest in the vicinity and with Kevin's help we made short work of containing it."
I shook my head. "And what about that poor man who died? He obviously has a family, yet you seem very blasé about his death?"
"I can't stop what has already happened, James. You should understand this. In your line of work, allowing your emotions to get the best of you during a predicament could get you killed. This is no different. The man was unfortunate to have been killed, but he was already dead before we got to the scene."
I shrank in my seat, watching the world outside zoom by. I gripped my seatbelt but held my tongue about his driving. "Maybe so, but remember, we're human. Which means we should care what happens to those who end up as victims." I heard him sigh in exasperation, but I continued doggedly. "I know I may sound naïve, but I want to believe that we can be more than just supernatural hit men."
"I admire your moral beliefs, James. But I have the knowledge and experiences of those who have held the title of Tohunga Karouwa for thousands of years within me. Each Tohunga has had to fight for mankind. Gentleness and morality are practises of today's society. It is a luxury for those who don't understand the constant battle that my people must continue to keep everyone safe. So quit lecturing me, boy."
Jay waved as he got back into the driver's seat, and Kevin stared at me a little while longer, before he waved and hopped in the car too. Turning back, I walked around the corner and stared at the lights that were still on in my house. I could just see dad's shadow pacing in the sitting room. They would have a lot of questions for me, and I needed to make sure that my story was down perfect. They didn't need to know about Jay or Kevin.
I knocked on the door and it flew open, dad staring at me with worry. Behind him was the past-Kevin with a very similar expression on his face. I went into his arms and he held me tightly before demanding what the hell was going on. So I gave them an edited version.
My eyes were drooping by the time I had finished. Dad gave me one more hug and then he turned toward his room. His door closed quietly behind him and left past-Kevin and me in the sitting room alone. I got up slowly, intending to head to my own room, when Kevin grabbed my hand.
I turned around and stared at him. In the dim light of the lamp, the silence grew longer as he pulled me slowly towards him. I felt his head against my stomach as his hands wrapped around me. He held me tight and I heard a small sigh escape from his chest. I placed my arms around his head and held him to me. I rocked him slowly and he pulled me in tighter.
The silence was comfortable and, in the semi darkness, I stared down at past-Kevin with all the love I wanted to show him. He removed his hands from around me and pulled my shirt from out of my pants. I was a little startled and my heart began to pound as he laid his face against the bare flesh of my stomach. Rubbing it like a cat, I heard him sigh contentedly.
I felt his warm breath trail across my sensitive flesh and goose bumps spread across my skin. He turned his face towards my stomach and I felt a gentle kiss that had me shuddering in response. His hands trailed up my back, his palms warm against me.
I lifted his face and stared down at him. Those eyes were full of sensuous need and I was unable to resist them. Our lips met briefly and I couldn't help but groan as his warm lips pushed against mine again. His tongue slid gently into my mouth and I opened to receive him.
He grabbed me by the waist and pulled me on top of him. We sprawled half on the couch and half on the floor. Giggling, we both shifted and moved until we were fully on the couch with me laying on him. My hands traced his face as his hands glided up and down my back. Going in for another kiss, I felt his hips plunge up against me in provocation. My body responded to his and I ground my hardening cock against him. His hands came down and cupped my butt while our kiss deepened and our breathing became heavy.
I licked the side of his neck, nibbling where it joined his shoulder. He groaned and the evidence of how much he was enjoying all of this was poking against my own hard cock. Trapped between layers of clothes we moaned at the injustice. I pulled away from his kiss, panting.
I rested my forehead against his. "Thank you." I said simply.
"For just being you."
He hugged me tighter to him. I rested my head in the groove of his neck and listened to his heart beating. There was sexual tension simmering between us, but I knew this wasn't the right time even though my body was screaming at me to give in.
"This is nice." Kevin stated.
I closed my eyes and nodded my head in agreement. Tonight was a night to be held. Tomorrow would come sooner than I wanted it to. Holding Kevin like this was magical. It would be another treasure to help me in my dark times to come. My precog kept giving me impressions of danger, and that I would be plunged into the midst of it. I had to be ready, and holding Kevin was my reason to overcome anything I might face.