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Ms. Shawl had a welcoming smile on her face as I entered the room. "Welcome back James, since this is your first day at school I won't ask why you're late, just try not to make it a habit."
"Good afternoon Ms. Shawl. I shall endeavour not to be so tardy." I replied and gave an elegant bow. My hands were doing an extravagant twist and flick, as if there should have been a feathered hat at the end of my hand. I heard some of the girls sigh and giggle while the boys gagged.
I had shocked my teacher, and I gave her that cocky smile that was starting to become a permanent fixture on my face. She shook her bemused head before turning towards the board and writing up our lesson. I sat down.
We were studying poetry. I watched and listened to how she brought literature to life for us in the classroom. She certainly was a master at her craft. The bell rang for home time. Everyone rushed out of the room. I stayed behind.
"Ms. Shawl, I was wondering who took my part in the solo for the play?"
She looked surprised before replying. "That would be Julianne."
"Is there any chance I could get that back?" I asked, my eyes all lit up with innocent guile. I tell ya, Puss in Boots, from the Shrek movies, had nothing on me.
She arched her brow, unimpressed, but there was a sparkle in her eye and I knew I had her. "I don't think it would be a good idea after all the work Julianne has put into that piece. This isn't my call, James; you will have to plead your case to Mr. Fox." I nodded my head in understanding, gave my thanks, and walked towards the door.
"If you're that serious," she said, "then we have another choir rehearsal tonight at 5pm. That would be your best chance to state your case to Mr. Fox." I nodded once again and walked out.
The hall was half empty after the rush of kids raced towards freedom. I decided to walk instead of catching the bus. I had missed out on my Driver's Ed class while in hospital, so I wasn't allowed to get a car until I got my license. The other reason I wanted to walk was so that I could sort out my day so far. I needed to think. In one day, I had made new friends, who were pretty well known and popular in different circles, my face had changed, I had some freaky new talents, and Kevin was an asshole. That last statement was also the other reason I wanted to avoid the bus. He knew my routine as well as I did. I had a suspicion he would hunt me down, the more I avoided him. Yet, I was still in that state of `the rollercoaster joy ride' and I wasn't about to let that happy bubble go.
I had my head down, hands in pockets when I heard the sound of a motor roaring beside me.
"Get in the car James," a familiar voice said to me. I looked up and stared into blue/green eyes, now dark green and tumultuous; Kevin's eyes when he was angry. His anger had never been directed at me before and I felt my heart thump with trepidation. My spine stiffened under the scrutiny and I continued walking, head held high.
"No," I stated quite firmly. My heart pounded. I was grateful he couldn't see it. But damn the slight tremor in my hands. Wheels squealed and his car shot in front of me. He drove up on the footpath and blocked my way. I back pedalled shocked at his stunt. "Are you crazy?" I shouted.
He killed the engine and swung his door open, eyes intent on me as his body transmitted his anger in the way he held himself. I back pedalled even faster, yet he closed the distance quickly. My voice died in my throat as he towered above me.
"Why the fuck have you been avoiding me, and what's this shit that we are through!??" He demanded his voice deep and almost growling. I felt his body heat flowing off him onto me. I couldn't talk to Kevin calmly with him so close. That whole roller coaster ride, with me derailing as the shit hit the fans, was getting closer. My heart started pumping harder, and my hands began to shake. Snippets of him and Leila together kept spilling into my head, and I felt that rollercoaster ride derail, with me and my emotional baggage plummeting to the ground.
It was his hands, reaching out, that was my undoing. "Don't you dare touch me!" I screamed. Leila grunting her pleasure kept sliding into my head. At the sight of those hands, I remembered his firm grip on her ass. What broke me the most was hearing him say he loved her over and over. I had never heard him say it to me. Tears fell unheeded down my face. He looked stricken. "I saw you," I said on a sob. "In the w-woods with Leila."
It was his turn to stumble back from me. "That was you in the forest?"
I bawled. I ran blindly with tears running like streamers down my face.
"James, wait!" Kevin shouted behind me. I couldn't stand there anymore and listen to anything else; it was too painful. I raced across the road. A horn blared as I stared at the oncoming car. It was going to hit me. In that silence a split second before it made impact with my body. I felt hands push me to the side.
I fell to the ground and heard the sickening sound of a body crunch against glass and metal. I stopped my forward momentum and looked back. I put a hand to my mouth. Kevin lay like a rag doll a few feet from the car. The lady in the car was hyperventilating and in shock. I crawled on hands and knees and went over to where Kevin lay.
"No, no, no, no, oh God no." I uttered, as fear raced to the back of my throat. I placed his head in my lap.
"Somebody help me!" I screamed. The lady was still in her car. I looked at her and told her to call an ambulance.
She stared at me and shook her head in denial. "I have to get out of here," she said. She kept muttering that, and the car window wound back up. I looked on with shock as she reversed and drove away as if nothing was wrong. I screamed at her cursing and swearing my rage at her retreating car. I watched and memorised her car license plate number and swore she would pay.
"Oh Kevin, wake up please." He coughed up blood and his left arm was at an awkward angle with bone showing.
"I'm sorry, James," he said. He coughed again. His eyes rolled to the back of his head and his body began to spasm.
I gripped his shoulders. Right then I didn't care how he had hurt and betrayed me. I wanted him whole and well. I hugged him tight. His breathing sounded laboured and he began to froth at the mouth. Don't die, I pleaded. I felt something rise inside me. Don't die, I chanted. It grew stronger. Don't die...
That switch clicked in my head. A tingle went from my head down to my shoulders and out through my hands. I could see the injuries that Kevin had endured in my mind. He had internal bleeding and some of his ribs had broken from the impact. His arm was snapped and it was a clean break, which was a small blessing. Getting bone pieces out is not a good pastime. There was a fracture in his skull, and some intuitive instinct made me reach for his head damage first.
Without thought or question, I knew what to do. I thought purple calm and felt, more then saw, a soothing energy flow over his fractured skull. I watched as if the healing was moving in fast-forward. The skull began to re-knit and build bone making it whole and smooth. His lung had been punctured and green seemed the appropriate colour. His lung resealed as I felt energy flow into that area. His ribs snapped back into position with an audible pop. Kevin seemed to be unconscious and I was grateful for that. The colour orange came to mind and I used it on his broken arm. The bone shifted and resealed and I watched as skin covered over the bone. It was fascinating. Like a ritual ending, I saw the colour white and used it to cover his entire body. Kevin took a deep breath and sighed, his discomfort easing from his face. With another `click' I felt that switch in my head turn off.
Dizziness made me crumble to the ground as I felt the earth spin beneath me. Kevin still had his head in my lap and I pulled my legs out as I felt them tingle with pins and needles. His eyes opened and those blue-green eyes stared into my tired and light-headed ones.
"I'm alive?" he asked.
I nodded my head and kept my face on the road. Concern filled his eyes and he raised himself.
"I heard you calling me," he said. I was finding it hard to keep my eyes open.
"Take me home please," I whispered as I felt the world recede to a small pinpoint of light and then blessed darkness.
I woke up to shouting. Dad was beside my bed and it was his voice that had pulled me from a dreamless sleep. I could sense the tension, even half groggy, between him and Kevin.
"Stop it," I said. Kevin was standing by the wall, his arms, folded in a defensive posture. Both of them turned eagerly toward me. My heart jumped in my chest as I looked Kevin over. He seemed to have no ill affects and I relaxed into my pillow.
"What happened, James?" dad asked. I looked up at the concern and barely controlled fear that was on his face.
I really didn't know, but the two staring at me deserved to hear what my assumptions were. Yet, how could I say that I was some kind of freak with powers to boot? It was too weird. They would end up locking me away or something.
An idea came that might make this seem a little more plausible. "Does my face seem more refined, or...prettier?" Both stared down at me as if I had well and truly lost my mind, which was what I was I trying to avoid. "Answer my question," I continued doggedly.
Dad stared at me, paled and looked away. Kevin gave me a searching look, frowned and shrugged his shoulders. It was dad's silence that intrigued me, but it was Kevin that answered. "I just see you," he answered. I gave him a confused look.
I turned my stare to dad. "What do you see?" I asked him.
He looked at my wall with the yin-yang painting before answering. "I see your mother..." His voice died away and I wasn't sure if it was because he was remembering mum or from something else. My dad had always been a hard person for me to read. But something was awake inside me. For the first time, I sensed there was something more that he wasn't telling me. "You didn't answer my question, Dad," I persisted.
He swallowed audibly before staring at me. "Answer my question first. What happened this afternoon?"
I stared at dad and at Kevin; they both had identical expressions of expectation and dread. It was now or never. I gathered my thoughts and spoke.
"Kevin was hit by a car while pushing me out of the way. He was... badly hurt." I swallowed as I dredged up the memory of him lying helpless. "I know it's crazy. But I felt this...energy take me over and, before I knew it, I was lying down on the road and Kevin was healed."
Dad looked away with shoulders sinking. I almost felt lame saying that, but dad's body language was telling me another story. Then it hit me. He knew. My dad knew something about this whole freaky thing that was going on with me. I looked at him and felt shock and a sense of betrayal. "What aren't you telling me Dad?" I asked quietly.
Dad looked at Kevin. "You are not to say a word to either Leila or Leon is that understood?" Dad gave serious eyes to Kevin. Kevin nodded his head as serious as dad. Finally, Dad turned his head to me and sighed. It was a weary sigh, and it made me feel cagey.
A haunted look crossed dad's face. "Your mum told me that you may have inherited her talents." That had my mind spinning. My mum had these abilities? I quickly tuned back in. Dad was still talking. "The night before she died, she kept dreaming about you, said you were in danger. She felt that if your powers were to awaken, it would bring something dark upon you, and she was determined to prevent that."
A horrible thought hit me. What if this darkness that Cousin Kate had warned me about was what killed mum in trying to protect me from it?
"Did she die because of me, Dad?" I asked, with an ache rising at the back of my throat.
He looked at me confused. Then, as if he could read my thoughts, he gripped my hand He gave me a resolute look. "If I ever hear you say that again, James, I will put you over my knee and whack some sense into you. A truck hit her; not anything you did, is that clear."
I stared at dad and nodded quickly, a single tear dropping down my cheek. I bunched my other hand over my blue striped bed-spread. Dad shook my hand, drawing my attention back to his face. It was fierce and protective. He held my hand firmly.
How had I never seen it before? I smiled. My dad, in his own way, loved me as much as my mum did. A tight knot where my heart had been began to loosen.
"I love you, Dad."
He looked startled for a second before he blushed. "I love you too, son," he said roughly. Clearing his throat, he was all business again. "We need you to see your grandmother; she will know how to help you adjust, and control your new skills, and...," he finished, looking grim. It seemed it was getting easier to read dad. Either I was using some of mum's `skills' or I was growing up, because I knew why he was grim and what the last unsaid statement was.
He and grams had stopped talking after mum died. The only thing they could agree on was their love for mum. When she went, so did their relationship. We were not allowed to see her and vice versa. That was fine by me. Grams scared me.
As for the unsaid statement? I had been given a warning about a `darkness' by my cousin, mum had given dad the same warning. I wasn't about to brush off this `darkness' thing. If Grams had answers then I was all for it. In a way it didn't surprise me that grams could have more to her than meets the eye. Everyone walked carefully around her. She just gave off an air of formidable will, and I had been scared shitless of her in the past, if I was honest, I still was.
A movement against the wall drew my eye towards Kevin. I had forgotten he was in the room, and the look on his face was half awe and half fear. My heart lurched at the sight of him. I looked away hoping he wouldn't see the worshipful look I had given him when I awoke. I looked at dad and my stomach did that sinking plummet to my feet. He knew. God-damn-it! I started shaking and I could feel my face tighten with alarm. Dad hadn't let go of my hand and he shook it to get my attention.
I didn't want to look up, but that was the coward's thing to do, and I was trying to face things that scared me. My heart thumped and I looked up at dad.
"You are still my son," he said in a firm voice.
I wanted to bawl, but I was not going to embarrass myself further. I looked at Kevin and he had a confused look on his face. I put into my eyes that dad knew. He still frowned and then the realisation dawned a split second later. I heard his audible swallow from my bed.
If I didn't know any better, I swear I saw a sparkle of mischief in dad's eyes at that sound. "I will leave you two boys for now, but tomorrow, James, you and I are going over to gram's place."
Dad got up and looked at Kevin, gave him a nod and walked out. Kevin sat down where dad had just vacated and stared at me. "He knows?" Kevin asked. I sensed a little bit of hopeful denial in his voice. I nodded in the affirmative. He leaned his elbows on the bed and pushed his hands into his hair. I wanted to hug him and smooth that look from his face. I put my hands under the blankets to stop myself.
"That doesn't change anything between us, Kevin," I said looking away from him.
"How can you say that after what happened today? I felt you calling me, James, and there was love in that voice. I came back because I knew you still loved me." He said it with such conviction. His eyes blazed with it.
My denial was only fooling myself, but... "Maybe your right, Kevin, but my love wasn't enough to keep you from straying. I don't have enough strength to watch you do it over and over..." I stopped. If I continued in this stream of thought I would cry, and I was through with tears. I needed more to build my new life upon instead of old tears and pain.
"I can only do this cloak and dagger stuff for so long, I have to stand up and be proud of who and what I am, Kevin. You're not ready for that, so let me go."
"Do you want to know why I cheated on you?"
I shook my head. "No not really."
He continued as if I hadn't spoken. "What we have – it's, it's intense. There were times it consumed me, James. Our passion, it nearly burnt me the chemistry was that strong. When we were together, I felt I could conquer the world. But Leila suspected and she confronted me about it. I got scared and did the only thing I could think of. I distracted her."
I made a sound of refusal in my throat. "I don't want to hear it, Kevin," I said much louder.
"It was you that was in my mind, it was you I saw..."
"STOP!" I shouted. Tears were stinging my eyes. But like hell was I going to give Kevin the satisfaction. "Here is the one significant thing you missed: IT WASN'T ME. Saying that you imagined it was me doesn't make the betrayal feel any less than what it was."
"But you still love me, James," Kevin stated. "And I know you; if you love some one there will always be space to forgive. I intend to win this fight with you, James. I intend to win back your trust. I refuse to give up."
"Kevin. Leave. Please."
He stood up and moved towards the door. "One last thing, James. I saw your new friends today; I saw the look you gave that boy with the long hair. If it becomes more than just friends between you..."
I glanced up at his face. There was jealousy and determination in that look. A small part of me rejoiced at what I saw. It was petty I know, but I still enjoyed it.
I lifted my head and stared him in the eyes. "What I do with my life from now on is not dictated by you Kevin. I am not a possum to roll over and play dead." My eyes went steely. "Get used to the new me, Kevin, because this bitch is here to stay." I looked away from him. "Now get out."
I expected him to slam the door, I expected him to argue. But he did neither. The door closed silently behind him and there was an emptiness in the room that had never been there before.
It seemed like hours had passed since Kevin left, but it had only been five minutes. I looked at my watch and my jaw dropped. I had been home for only an hour. It was 4:35pm. I didn't want to be in my room. That would only allow my thoughts to run around in circles. I needed to do something constructive. An idea hit me.
I got dressed and decided to head towards the school. There was choir practice and Ms. Shawl said it would be a good idea to see if I could get my solo back by attending practises. But before I did that, I went to dad. I told him about the lady that had done the hit and run. I described her car and gave him her license plate number. A look crossed his eyes once I finished. It made me shiver and I actually felt sorry for the lady. That lasted for all of 5 seconds before I smiled. Dad was an attorney; a very good one. I wished her the best of luck.
It wasn't until I walked through the music room doors that I forgot one vital thing. Kevin had a part to play and would be here to practise as well. I cursed soundly, but walked on doggedly. I could do this!
It came as a great relief when I didn't spot him in the classroom. I walked over to Mr. Fox.
"Hi sir," I said. "Is there any chance I can still sing in the choir?"
He looked at me with surprise. A smile spread across his face. "Of course there is, take a seat."
I smiled, nodded my thanks and took a seat in the tenor section of the choir. It was now or never, I decided. It was time I did some buttering up. "Is there any chance I could sing my old solo, just as a practise run? I mean I know that Julianne has that solo and it's only fair." I ducked my head trying to play coy. A small part of my mind was screaming, where did I get so good at acting? (Well ass licking was more like it) "I just thought that it would be nice to see if I could overcome my fear of crowds... just for this rehearsal?"
I looked back up at Mr. Fox, trying to put a little hope and a touch of rejection into my eyes. He smiled at me. "Of course you can James. You learned the song already?"
I nodded enthusiastically. He sat down on the piano and started the opening bars for `Oh happy day.' I closed my eyes. I shoved everything that had happened to me aside and just concentrated on the lyrics. My mind was clear and focussed upon the song.
I let that song fill me up as Mr. Fox sang the echo in the background. I soon heard others join in but paid them no heed. I could feel the music as light and bubbly rising inside my chest. I lifted my face to the ceiling, and felt the music come out of my mouth as a rich full sound. I felt it lift me from my cares, and I put my heart and soul into singing it. The crescendo came and I didn't even think about it. I pitched the note and reached the ceiling with that note. I could hear cheers and clapping dimly as I continued floating in my own little world.
The song came to an end and I let my voice end with it. I opened my eyes. Lots of smiling faces were staring at me. Mr. Fox was clapping and congratulating me as the impact hit me. I had sung in front of an audience. I put on a wobbly smile and walked back to my section. A hand grabbed mine before I managed to take my seat. It was Julianne.
"That was amazing, James, I think that you would do much better justice to this song than I could." She smiled and walked off to talk to Mr. Fox.
I felt guilty. She was so nice, and I had deliberately provoked this in the hope I could usurp her. Now that I had done it, she had given me the victory willingly. I felt shallow.
I walked up to where she was standing. "I can't take this solo from you, Julianne. You probably worked much harder at it than I, and you deserve it more than I."
She stared at me. "How can you say that I deserve it? You were in a hospital not long ago. Yet you remembered all the lines. On your first day back at school, you show up here to sing. I was even told by a good friend that you are sitting mid year exams tomorrow to catch up. You are the one who deserves it most."
I felt humbled by her words and even worse about taking the solo. Mr. Fox, piped in. "What you just did Julianne shows such depth of character. I'm proud of you."
"Thank you," I said sincerely. She gave me a shy look, blushed, and went to sit in her section of the choir. I enjoyed my choir session and I even had people coming up to me afterward to compliment me on my solo act.
I was walking out the door when I saw Kevin. He looked back at me, eyes intense, before he walked away. I shivered, I had felt his look caress me during practise and if I didn't get out of there quick, everyone would see how much I enjoyed it by the tent in my pants.
I walked out into dusk. There was a brisk wind and I hunched my shoulders as I strolled the two blocks to my house. I breathed in the smell of autumn. The moon shone big and round and the stars were peeking from the scattering of clouds. I could smell the scent of eucalyptus as I passed by the old trees. Dad hated these trees, they made a mess, but because they were a native plant, Australian laws dictated no cutting down of the native fauna. I, on the other hand loved its scent.
I inhaled deeply trying to calm my mind down. So much had happened on my first day back at school. I didn't know what to think. I was amazed that I was accepting everything as it came. It felt like I was snowballing to some grand conclusion. I wasn't sure my mind was able to absorb it all and stay sane.
Yet, if I looked deep inside, I realised I was enjoying everything that was happening to me. For the first time since mum died, I truly felt alive. I decided not to prod any further and just enjoy.
I was in the grip of an erotic dream. At first, the face above me was Kevin and then it blurred until I could only see a shadowy image. My mind was trying to warn me of something. But my body was riding a large wave of lust. Teeth nibbled and bit down on my nipple and I arched my back. He bit harder and it bordered on the line of pleasure and pain. I was putty in the shadows hands.
He kissed me and it wasn't Kevin's kiss, it was more invasive and demanding. I started to struggle. He hummed something and my body shivered with pleasure. It felt as if his aura oozed sex and my body was lapping it up like a kitten to milk.
He slid his body up until I saw his cock staring at me. The head of it was flared and swollen red with lust. I kissed the shiny head and tasted pre-cum on my lips. I moaned and pushed his cock to the back of my throat. He put his hands behind my head and pushed even further. I gagged and pushed up for air. He allowed only enough space for me to breathe and then he was pushing my head back down.
He did this over and over, until I felt my throat stretch and accommodate a quarter of his length and thickness. I pounded my hands against his legs as I felt my gag reflex take over. He refused and held me there. I bit down hard on his cock and he let me go. I pulled away, sucking in lungs full of air. He hummed. I dropped to the bed as I felt sexual arousal fill my senses, taking a hold of me.
He put his face in the crook of my neck and sniffed. I felt him push my legs apart roughly and shove them against my chest. It was an awkward angle. He laid his upper torso upon me, effectively trapping me with his body. I felt the air rush out of me as I was bent in half. The fear was fuelling my sexual drive and my cock was hard and wanting. I clawed at his back and felt my nails scrape skin. He moaned and bit down hard on my shoulder. I felt his teeth tear my skin, and it was enough pain to pull me away from the sexual haze I was in.
I struggled to move, but his upper body was like concrete. I felt his cock sliding against my ass and it felt big and invasive. I moaned in terror and scratched him harder, drawing more blood. He bit deeper upon my neck and I screamed. He hummed once again and I felt my body respond. I was bucking up and down trying to get his cock into my ass when I came to my senses again.
"No, no, no, this ain't right. Stop!" I tried pulling his head away from my shoulder. He was locked tight, but some instinct was telling me that if I didn't do something, he would drain more than just my blood. Some inner power trickled through my senses, but it felt muffled. I put my hands around his head and yanked. I felt the tear of flesh as I pushed his head away. He pushed his head back towards my neck where I could feel my blood pooling and sliding down the side. I gripped harder and squeezed. He looked down at me and snarled.
With that snarl, the hazy shadow dissipated. In its place was a desiccated corpse. The skin fell off of it and only a skull with serrated teeth stared back at me. I screamed my fear and pushed with my legs. That switch in my head turned on full blast. Clarity and strength surged through me and he went flying as I scissored my legs. An inhuman roar screamed through the darkness and I sensed a body come shooting straight towards me. My hands were in a defensive position, ready for the next attack, when I woke up.
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