Chapter Seven: One Step Closer

Two months had passed since Travis agreed to Josh's proposal and the boys were officially ninth graders. Every day since summer vacation began the pair retreated to a local park where the woods provided ample cover for their experiments. At first there were no changes in his abilities until one day after volunteering at St Christine's Soup Kitchen Travis was approached by a bum while he was waiting for his mom to pick him up.

"Hey rich kid, give me five bucks," the grizzled man said as he walked up to Travis.

"Look I don't have any money on me so leave me alone."

"Bullshit you go that fancy smancy prep school, I see you here all the time in that uniform of yours. Now cough up the cash and there won't be no trouble kid," he said getting right in Travis's face. His flight or flight instincts kicked in and as Travis made to shove him he sent the bum flying into a street light. The man staggered to his feet then charged at Travis. His rage overcame the fear and the next thing Travis knew, the man was sent crashing into a brick wall. From then on Travis had to remove himself from any situation where his temper flared. At home things are tense and getting worse by the day. Bobby had returned from boot camp and the two were constantly getting into fights, with it taking everything Travis hard not to kill him. His parents meanwhile blamed him even though Bobby always instigated things and then feigned innocence. Now whenever they're in the same room things ended in one of two ways: either Travis got knocked upside the head and grounded, or he wound up storming out of there before he blew something up. Most days he only returned there to sleep. There were times Travis thought of nothing but shattering every bone in their bodies and Oblivion chimed in telling him to, "Just do it stupid."

When things got out of hand Travis roamed the streets for awhile and when desperate, crashed at Josh's place. This pattern began after Travis and his parents just had a colossal fight about how they treated him harsher than his siblings. He packed enough stuff to last a few days and headed in no particular direction. Without intending to he arrived in front of Josh's house. The red-head opened the door and they began what would become their greeting ritual.

"How's my favorite kid toucher doing this fine night? Have your balls finally descended?" Travis said.

"Ha-ha douche bag, you should know they're just fine seeing as you were the one sucking them all night long. Now what you doing round here, boy? Your kind aint welcomed," Josh drawled out in a hilariously fake southern accent.

"Get the sand out of your pussy and let me in already queer bait. The sperm and egg donor are on the rag again, so I'll be gracing you with my radiant presence this weekend."

"Oh lucky me. You know as much as your black ass is over here I ought to charge ya rent."

"Oh come on, you know you love me," Travis said and pushed his way into Josh's house.

As the weeks passed Travis and Josh formed an unlikely friendship where the younger boy would drop by unannounced and they'd have bitch sessions where the two vented about how unfair the world was and how if Josh had Travis' powers he'd change things. Travis for his part would nod along but the truth was he couldn't care less about helping others, after all what had they done for him. After the first few sleepovers he didn't bother trying to prevent Josh from cuddling up with him, though he did make the ginger boy suffer for it by using his new found psycho kinesis to freeze Josh in place until he wet himself or Travis wrote on his face. They called a truce after Josh came down with a case diarrhea and the boys were forced to clean up the resulting mess. Josh was beyond livid at Travis and banned him from his house for two weeks after the incident though they made up with a daylong experiment session that ended with Travis gaining pyrokinesis. Josh had been pushing him harder and harder until Travis snapped triggering a shockwave then his hands were encased in flames. At first he didn't feel anything then sear pain shot up his arms as the flesh blistered and cracked. Luckily his wounds healed after a few hours, though it still hurt like hell.

On the therapy front thanks to the kissing incident Dr. Adams believed the root of their animosity was due to unresolved sexual tension.

"Bullshit!" they said and thereafter made a pact that Travis would use his telepathy to read the good doctor's mind and tell him exactly what he wanted to hear. A sob story here and there, a couple of crocodile tears and the boys were out the door with him none the wiser, though Travis did wonder if he should ask the good doctor about his recurring dream.

He was three or four years old when two men took him from some type of store. They moved along a back alley and then something was poured on him. He usually woke up then, panting and sweat rolling down every inch of his body and Josh had taken to lining his bed with towels so Travis wouldn't wet his bedding. Travis always felt there was more to the dream like there was something preventing him from seeing too much.

However, the boys were currently in the park finishing up the day's experiments.

"Come on dude just a bit longer and—yeah five minutes, new record," Josh said and clicked the stop watch app on his cell, before continuing, "Ok you can let me down now."

Travis concentrated and lowered Josh the five feet back to the ground and let out a huge sigh.

"Man I thought the time would never be up," he said dousing himself with water.

"Oh come on man just a month ago you could barely lift a pencil and now you're levitating my ass," Josh said giving him a fist bump.

"That's because you're a slave driver and seriously you're anorexic," Travis said poking at Josh's knobby knee.

"Hey hands off the merchandise and like I told your brown ass before I have a high metabolism and can't put on any weight. Unlike some people I won't mention," Josh said poking Travis' gut.

"And like I said that'll be five dollars shrimp," Travis said as he now towered a foot over Josh.

"Hey ass wipe when I get my growth spurt I'm so kicking your ass!"

"Is that before or after I charbroil your ass?"

"That reminds me we still need to see how long you can hold your fireballs."

"Come on haven't I done enough today? Besides you know I can never get past the two minute mark before the pain is too much for me to handle."

"Tough shit you know your powers always advance when you're pushed beyond your limits so get ready and I'll reset the timer," Josh said while he entered the latest test results into his spreadsheet. Travis walked behind him looked over his shoulder at the screen and sighed.

"You haven't been using that formula the past two months, right?"

"Yeah why?" Josh said getting offended.

"Because like I've told you before the force required to lift you isn't equal to your weight, it's your weight plus the force required to lift you a distance X for a time T, plus an additional force to offset the wind resistance. Remember the first time I levitated you?"

"Yeah how can I forget, I went flying sideways and damn near hurled. Man so you're telling me I have to redo all these calculations?" Josh said then let out groan.

"Relax you can get the wind resistance from the National Weather Service then just add another column for that and for the lifting force which is your weight times the distance lifted divided by the time in seconds and make sure everything is in metric units."

"Fuck that's gonna take me forever to do," Josh said throwing his hands in the air. Travis moved him out of the way and made the necessary conversions and showed Josh how to automate all the calculations using formulas in the spread sheet.

"Man I wish I knew that before `cuz I've been doing everything one calculation at a time."

"Well now you do, but before I knock out the last test I have to take my shoot," Travis said retrieving a hypodermic syringe from his back pack and injecting it into his stomach.

"I thought you weren't due for another two weeks and what is that stuff anyways?"

"The doc says I'm building up a tolerance and have to up the dosage. As for what it is, Richard explained it to me once, but all I caught was something about amino acids, polypeptides and Vitamin P. Now let's get this over with I'm starving." Travis concentrated and fire crawled up along his arms then pooled in his hands. Josh started the timer and hoped today Travis would reach the next level. He longed to have such raw power at his command, but he also felt by helping Travis he could demonstrate how much he cared. Josh checked his cell: "Come on dude just 30 seconds more and you've done it."

"I can't it hurts too much," Travis said through gritted teeth, the veins on his forehead pulsing.

"Come on you can do it dude just dig deep."

Travis thought back on all the skin grafts he had to endure and all the pain he suffered and next that, this was nothing.

"Ok you can stop now," Josh said stopping the timer at 150 seconds, but Travis poured more power into balls and they grew softball size. The ground began to quake as wind whipped through the trees.

"You've proved your point now stop it you're scaring me," Josh said as he fought back the wind to approach the other boy.

"Stop it!? I won't stop until every last one of them pays for what they did to me," Travis said and the area was rocked by a massive shock wave that toppled Josh over. He picked himself up and continued onward until Travis was engulfed by a vortex of flames. Josh hesitated then charged into the blaze. He hit a wall of heat that had him soaked in seconds, but Josh continued forward and to his surprise the flames parted and he saw tears streaming down Travis' face. Josh wrapped his arms around him and the inferno retreated into the boy. He broke Josh's embraced and gave him a fleeting look then broke into a run.

"HQ this is Agent Anderson, Prometheus has just jumped from T5 to T1. What is your recommendation?"

"Be advised a retrieval squad is being mobilized as we speak. Leave the area and DO NOT approach the target, is that clear?"

"Roger HQ, Anderson over and out," Tommy said then dialed Dr. Hu, "Rich it's me they're coming for the kid."

" I thought you were keeping them in the dark about Travis?"

"I was but then he had to make friends with that red headed kid and jumped to threat level one in a single day."

"Tommy I knew he was powerful, but this can't be. If what you're saying is true then the last thing we want is a direct confrontation."

"I know that Richie why the fuck do you think I called you. Is there anything in your bag of tricks that can neutralize him?"

"Nothing. I'm sorry Thomas, but if the DBRC is coming for him then you best get as far from there as possible. Goodbye."

"Doc wait I may have an idea."

"I'm listening but make it quick," Richard said and retrieved the emergency bag he packed weeks ago.

"What if I get the kid out before they get here and we lay low for awhile until things blow over?"

"That won't work, you know as well as I do now that once they've set their eyes on Travis they won't stop until he's theirs or they kill him."

"What are we going to do?"

"Pray."

 

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