Brandon looked around the room, stopping briefly to look at each one of us. He had been beaten badly. His face was bruised. He had a black eye and his lower lip was swollen. Several places on his face had small bandages on them. His normal imposing posture was nowhere to be seen. It had been replaced with one of humility.
"Hey," he said softly.
"What do you want?" snapped Jevic tersely. I looked over at my lover for the first time since Brandon walked in. Jevic's face showed it all. He was furious. His muscles tense. He was ready to pounce.
"Easy babe," I said softly. Jevic backed down slightly, but kept his defensive stance.
"Hey Brandon," Scott said. Brandon smiled slightly.
"Are you okay?"
"Yeah. The doctor says I'll be fine."
"I was worried and wanted to make sure. I'm, ah, sorry for bothering you. I'm leaving now." Brandon started for the door, but I sensed something that bothered me. I could somehow feel what Brandon was feeling ... and I didn't like it.
"Wait Brandon," I said. He stopped, turned to look at me and then his eyes fell to the floor.
"Cameron, I'm, ah ... I'm sorry for everything. I really am," he choked. He started to sob softly. I quickly walked over to him and pulled him in to a hug. For a brief moment, he didn't know what to do. Slowly, he put his arms around me, laid his head on my shoulder and sobbed. I stood there holding him ... the boy that had just about beaten me to death ... and let him cry it out. I hugged him tighter and suddenly my mind was filled with images. Images of his father screaming at him and repeatedly beating him and calling him names. I saw images of him attending church and heard the hatred that was preached from the pulpit. I saw the image of his father laughing about having killed some faggots. Then the images of police officers dragging his father way. And then I sensed a feeling that surprised me. Here was the center of the world that hated everything about me and he was actually hating himself. I put my hands on Brandon's shoulders and eased him back so I could see his face.
"Y-your father? Shot Scott? And Greg?" Brandon looked at me through tear stained eyes and simply nodded.
"What?!" yelled Scott. "Your father!"
"Easy Scott. This isn't easy for Brandon either," I said.
"I can't believe it! Your father killed my lover?" As soon as the words left his mouth, Scott realized what he had said. He had just outted himself. Scott was terrified. He had been so careful to hide that from everyone, especially Brandon, and now he had just blurted it out. I urged Brandon to come over by the bed and sit down. I held him by the arm and eased him into the chair. Then I turned and looked at Scott, leaving my hand on Brandon's shoulder, slowly and gently massaging it to comfort him. Jevic stood by my side.
"You read his mind?" he asked. I nodded at Jevic and he just smiled. "You never cease to amaze me."
"Brandon," I said looking down at him. "I know what you have been going through. I mean I know everything that you have been going through, including your most guarded secret." He looked up at me in horror. "It's okay. He's not going to hurt you again and, believe me, everyone in this room understands the feelings that confuse you." He lowered his head and held it in his hands. The sobs continued and so did I. "Scott, Brandon's father has been beating him for years. It's not been easy. His father is a very hateful man. He's a ... homophobic man. For years now, he has been pounding it into Brandon's head that ... to use his words ... faggots are evil and should all be killed. The hardest part of it all for Brandon ..."
"I-I'm a ... I'm a faggot," he stammered. Scott fell back on his bed in complete shock. Then he sat up and looked at Brandon.
"Y-you're gay?" he asked. Brandon looked up at him with pleading eyes.
"Please don't hate me. I can't help it. I've tried to fight the feelings, but they just won't go away." Brandon was visibly shaking.
"Brandon," started Scott, but Brandon didn't hear him.
"I'm sorry Scott. Please, please don't hate me."
"Please don't hate me."
"Brandon!" Brandon finally looked up at Scott. The tears were streaming down his beaten face. "Brandon, I'm gay too. Cameron's gay and his boy friend there, Jevic, he's gay too. You're not alone in all this." Brandon slowly stood up, walked over to the bed and sat down on its edge. Brandon looked at Scott eye to eye. He had a pained look on his face as if he were struggling ... looking for the right words ... or looking for the courage to say them.
"I ... I love you Scott. I always have." And then he hugged him, all the while crying profusely. Scott put his arms around Brandon and held him. I put my arm around Jevic and whispered in his ear.
"I think it's time to leave." He nodded and I wrapped my arms around him. The
weightless feeling returned and we soon found ourselves back in our
The commander intently studied the monitor. He wasn't a large man in stature but he had a commanding persona. He was highly respected and his crew followed their orders without question. Their commander was the best of the best.
"Sir, our surveillance program just located his signature." The commander looked up at his aid and a slight smile crept across his face. "Where is he?"
"Delta deck, section 3C." The command quickly adjusted his monitor.
"Good. Let's stay with him. Don't let him get away this time. Have a team ready to go at a moment's notice." The aid gave a sharp salute and hustled away. "I've got you now," the commander said to himself as he turned back to the monitor. A tiny red blip showed on the screen and he watched it intently. "Come on now. Everybody needs a little time alone." The blip slowly turned orange. "That's right. Just a little further." The blip then slowly changed from orange to green. "NOW!" barked the commander. "Go get him and bring him to me!" The commander watched the screen as five red blips suddenly surrounded the green blip and then they all disappeared. "Got him!"
The commander made his way along the passageway smiling to himself. Rounding a corner, he was greeted by two guards standing in front of a door. They immediately snapped to attention. One guard touched a small number pad and the door whooshed open. The commander walked in and looked down at the restrained person in the chair.
"Well look who came to visit," the commander said. The prisoner looked up.
"My own brother. How can you do this?" asked Paulik.
"Welcome brother, welcome. It is indeed a pleasure to have you aboard the Talon flagship."
A worried look came over Jevic's face as he walked back into the living room. He sat down beside me on the couch.
"What's wrong?" I asked.
"I've been trying to contact dad for almost fifteen minutes and he doesn't answer. That's just not like him."
"Well let's go find him," I suggested.
"okay, let's go." We got up and made our way to Paulik's home. There was no answer at the door. Jevic fished a strange looking credit card out his pocket and waved it at the door. It immediately whooshed open. We searched the entire area, but Paulik was nowhere to be found.
"Something's wrong here. Can you feel it?" he asked. And now that he had mentioned it, yeah, something didn't exactly feel right. It's like that feeling you get when you think someone's watching you, but you can't see anybody.
"I'm feeling like we're being watched."
"What, what did you say?" Jevic asked excitedly.
"I said I feel like we're being watched." Jevic grabbed my arm quickly and turned toward the door.
"Come on, we've got to get out of here right now!" We ran to the door and out into the corridor. Jevic quickly ran to panel on the wall. It had a bunch of buttons and a small computer screen. He quickly punched some buttons and a person's face appeared on the screen.
"Yes, may I help you?" the person asked.
"Quick, please send a security team to Paulik's quarters. Tell them to bring a surveillance detection unit and tell them to hurry. I think Paulik has been taken."
"They'll be right there," the person said and then the screen went blank.
"Jevic, what do you mean you think he's been taken?" I asked. He turned to me with an extremely worried expression.
"Cameron, what you felt in dad's quarters ... like someone was watching us ... that's a surveillance program. It's used to track someone's signature."
"Everybody's mind emanates a different brain wave pattern. It's called your signature. Once a surveillance program identifies your signature, it can track you," he explained.
"Did you feel it too?"
"No, I didn't. Your powers are becoming more powerful by the hour. You read Brandon's mind this morning and now you're detecting surveillance programs. It's unreal how fast you're learning. I learned real fast, but nowhere near as fast as you are."
"Jevic, I've got news for you. I can no more control any of these powers than I can pick up this whole complex and throw it to the Pacific." Jevic laughed. It was good to see him laugh. He was worried about his dad, and I was too.
A security man came running around the corner carrying a large black case. Jevic motioned for him to follow us and we ran back to Paulik's door.
"Jevic, what makes you think there's surveillance program running?" he asked.
"Cameron sensed it," he answered, nodding in my direction.
"So you're, Cameron. I'm Joel, head of security. It's nice to meet the person everybody's talking about."
"Uh, nice to meet you too," I said.
"Well let's see what you sensed," he said as he opened the black case. He pulled up a small dish, kind of like a satellite dish, only much smaller, and pointed it at the door. Then he flipped some switches. "Here goes," he said as he pushed a large red button. Joel looked at a scale of sorts, made up of a row of lights starting with green, then yellow and finally red. In seconds, the entire scale lit up. "Damn, they got in." He quickly walked over to the same panel on the wall that Jevic had used. After punching some buttons, and man appeared on the screen. "Recalibrate the field. Somebody's got a very strong surveillance program running," he said to the man and then he turned to us. "Jevic, where's your father?"
"I don't know. I've been trying to contact him for almost a half hour now." Joel's eyes got big and he turned back to the screen.
"Paulik is missing. He made have been abducted. Start a search scan for his
signature." He came back over to us and started packing up the case. "I
think you two should come with me," he said while latching the case
shut. He looked at me and then at Jevic. "It'll be okay Jevic. We'll find
your dad. Come along you two, let's go."
"Kibbeth, just what do you hope to accomplish by kidnapping your brother?" Paulik asked.
"Oh come now Paulik. We're identical twins. Just think of the possibilities. The leader of the holier than thou Watchers and the leader of the much more realistic Talons switching positions. It'll be like taking candy from a baby. I'm really going to enjoy this."
"You have no idea what you're up against. My people know me well. They'll see right through you. You'll be easily captured."
"That may very well happen, but I've got an ace up my sleeve. And he's sitting right in front of me." Kibbeth's expression changed to a frown and his voice changed to one of anger. "There's no way to win this Paulik. I win no matter what happens. And then my people can rise to their rightful place as leaders of the Watchers. It was your ignorance, your egotistical, self-serving attitude that made us outcasts. The only reason you haven't been vaporized is that you're my brother and I want you to be witness to your fall ... and my rise. I want to you suffer the way I have ... the way my people have. To know first hand what it's like to be an outcast! I despise everything there is about you." Kibbeth had worked himself up into a frenzy. "You are no better than the stupid humans we watch over. How can you let them destroy in a matter of a few years what took millions of years to create? How can you just sit back and let them destroy this planet?! I don't understand."
"We were left here to watch, not to become involved. If things get out of hand then, and only then, do we step in."
"Well brother, open your eyes. Things are way out of hand! Look at the pollution! Look at the global warming. Look at their primitive use of fossil fuels. Look at the savages fighting and killing each other. They have no respect for each other, let alone the planet that keeps them alive. There's millions of people dying of starvation while obesity runs rampant. There's millions of people dying from disease while drug company executives are living a lavish lifestyle. People are even being beaten and killed because of who they choose to love. Where's the justice in that? Open your eyes. It's time brother. It's been time for us to step in and right the wrongs!"
"They learn by their mistakes. We've seen that. They came close to nuclear war, but realized that no one would win, so they started disarming themselves. They're a good people Kibbeth. They just need time to sort out their priorities."
"Their time is up and I'm going to sort out their priorities for them. Ridding this
planet of their kind is the only way we can preserve it for our future
use. Where are your loyalties man? They're vermin, infesting a planet
that was meant for us. I will stand by no longer. They are the disease
and I am the cure!" And with that comment, he briskly turned and walked
out of the room.
Jevic and I walked into the command center with Joel. Everyone turned to look at us, but no one said a word. Joel directed us to sit down on the couch and we did. He hurriedly went over to an officer in front what looked to be something like a radar screen.
"Did you locate him?" The officer looked up and shook his head. "Shit. Scan the entire complex again. We have to make sure." Joel walked back over to the couch. He looked at us with a pained expression. Jevic tensed and grabbed my hand. He looked intently into Joel's eyes. "Jevic, we can't locate him. I've instructed them to search again, but ... well, it looks like they got your father."
"NO!" he screamed quickly standing up. "No they can't! My dad! Oh God what am I gonna do?" I quickly stood up and embraced Jevic, holding him tight. Joel reached out and held us both in his strong arms. Jevic's emotions took control and the tears came quickly. Joel looked Jevic in the eye and talked with his most confident tone.
"It'll be okay Jevic. We'll bring him back. He's a strong man. He'll be alright." Then Joel looked at me and continued. "Why don't you take Jevic back to the dignitary suite. I want to double check everything and then I'll be in touch, okay?" I nodded and gently urged Jevic toward the door. My baby was in pain and I wanted to take it all away. It hurt me so badly to see him suffering. I held him close as we walked back to our suite. He sobbed quietly the whole way.
Once inside, I helped Jevic over to the couch. Then I went into the kitchen to get us both something to drink. I studied the screen beside the 'microwave door' and started punching some buttons. Beep! I opened the door and found a bowl of macaroni and cheese. Not exactly what I had intended, but this was my first time. I threw the bowl in the trash, closed the door and punched a few more buttons. Beep! I slowly opened the door and saw a platter of broccoli. Damn, give me a break here. That went into the trash and more buttons got pushed. Beep! I carefully opened the door and peered inside. To my complete amazement, there were two steaming cups of hot chocolate. Finally! I took them both and went back into the living room.
"Hey baby. Here's some hot chocolate. It'll help you relax." He took the cup and mindlessly put it to his lips, sipping on the hot, creamy liquid. I sat down beside him and took a sip myself. Not bad for a first timer. I set my cup down and put my arm around Jevic, pulling him closer. "I feel so helpless Jevic. I wish there was some way for me to make this better." His sobs slowed and he looked at me through swollen eyes.
"Maybe there is something you can do," he said.
"What? This is all new to me. I don't know anything."
"But your powers are so strong," he said as he sat up.
"That's what everybody keeps telling me, but I just don't know anything."
"Cameron, humor me for a moment?"
"I'm sure the Talons have dad. That also means that they have him in an isolation shield."
"He can't use his powers to mind travel. He can't communicate with anyone. He's trapped."
"I want you to try to communicate with him."
"But Jevic, if he's in a isolation thingy, how can I contact him?"
"Just try for me baby. Just try. Your powers are so strong, you may be able to break through the shield. Please, please," he begged.
"There's nothing I wouldn't do for you Jevic. I'll try."
"okay, just concentrate on dad. Picture him in your mind like you did Scott. Concentrate really hard Cameron. It'll take a lot of energy to punch through the shield." I sat back on the couch.
"I love you Jevic," I whispered.
"I love you too baby." And he kissed me quickly on the cheek. "Concentrate. Concentrate. Picture dad in your mind. You can do it Cameron. You can do it." I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. Paulik's face came to me quickly and I concentrated intently on it. The now familiar cloak of darkness welcomed me. The normally quite black void was filled with static ... like static on an AM radio. I tried to tune it out and concentrated harder on Paulik. The static started to pop in and out, leaving moments of clarity. I concentrated harder and then ... silence.
"Paulik," I said. "Paulik, it's me, Cameron."
"Cameron! Thank God!" Paulik said.
"Are you okay?"
"I'm fine. I'm on the Talon flagship. The Talon leader is ... " static " ... replace ... " static " ... warn Joel ... " static. There was nothing more. Just static. I slowly blinked my eyes open. I was exhausted.
"What happened?" asked an excited Jevic. "Did you make contact?"
"Yeah, I did," I said, trying to catch my breath. The connection had zapped all my strength. I felt weak ... very weak. There was a ring at the door. Jevic looked and saw Joel in the monitor.
"Open," he called out and the door opened. Jevic jumped up to greet Joel.
"Cameron communicated with dad!" he yelled excitedly.
Scott's mind wondered ... wondered down memory lane. He was trying desperately to carve into stone every memory of Greg. His times with Greg had been the happiest of his entire life and he wanted to remember every single minuet detail. He thought of each feature of Greg's face. The sparkling blue eyes. The soft red lips. The cute little dimples when he smiled. He mentally ran his fingers over every curve. He remembered the contorted, strained facial expression during orgasm. His funny little giggles and his infectious laugh. Greg's smell came back to him full force. Oh God how wonderfully Greg had smelled. If only to hold him in his arms one more time. To tell him how much he loved him. Just one more time. To feel his warmth tightly wrapped in his arms. To hear the soft sounds of his breath as he slept. Just one more time. Oh God please! Just one more time.
Scott woke in a cold sweat. He looked around. The hospital room seemed the same
... sterile and cold. The nurses were nice and were constantly trying
to get him to laugh, but there was something missing. His whole world
revolved around Greg. His every waking moment was spent thinking about
him ... missing him ... wanting him ... needing him. Now all of that
need and all of that want was replaced with an empty void. He felt
alone. Terribly alone. Scott pulled the covers up to his chin. Tears
started rolling down his cheeks. How can there be more tears? He had
already cried what seemed a river. Yet they still persisted in wetting
his cheeks with their hot, salty sadness. He pulled his knees up to his
chest and wrapped his arms around them. He held on tight, trying to
protect himself from the dark void. The dark void that had surrounded
him since he first found out. The dark void that taunted him. The dark
void that was ... loneliness. "Greg!" he called out in his mind.
"Greg," he sobbed quietly to himself. "I miss you so much."
Joel and Jevic came back over to the couch. I was just beginning to catch my breath. My head was throbbing and my heart was pounding.
"Cameron?" asked Joel. "Are you okay?"
"R-real weak, but yeah, okay," I said softly while looking up to see two anxious faces.
"What did he say Cameron? What did dad say?" Jevic asked. He was on pins and needles.
"He's on the Talon flagship."
"I knew it," said Joel.
"He said he's okay, but he told me to warn you Joel. He said something about the Talon leader and then the static broke in. Then I heard him say the word 'replace' and the last words were 'warn Joel.' Do you know what he was talking about?" I asked. Joel frowned a moment and then raised one eyebrow.
"Yes, I think I know." He sat down and nodded for Jevic to sit as well. "What I'm going to say stays here. Is that clear?" We both nodded. "Jevic, this is going to be difficult, but please try to understand your father's reasoning for not telling you."
"Not telling me what?" I could sense that Jevic was tense and I reached over put my hand softly on his arm. He calmed down just a bit. Joel took a deep breath.
"The leader of the Talons is Kibbeth. He's Paulik's identical twin brother."
"WHAT!?!" screamed Jevic. My strength was slowly beginning to return and I grabbed Jevic's arm tighter. This information came in the form of a blindside fist. "Why didn't he tell me?"
"He was protecting you Jevic. I'm sure that he would have eventually told you, but your father wanted to protect you, to shield you from things you'd have trouble understanding. Please don't hold this against him."
"I-I'm not holding it against him. It's just that ... shit, his identical twin brother is the leader of the Talons?" Joel slowly nodded. "I never knew."
"From what Cameron says, it sounds like Kibbeth is going to try an impersonate Paulik and infiltrate our command center. If he should be successful, the Talons will take over. It's our job to be ready for him and I need to get back to the center real soon. Will you two be okay here?"
"We'll be just fine," I said.
"Jevic. If your dad shows up, it might not be your dad. I think you can depend on
Cameron to sense what the truth is," he said nodding at me. I nodded
back. "If you need me, call the command center. I'll be there for some
time, okay?" We both nodded. Joel got up and ... poof ... he was gone.
Brandon walked quietly down the sidewalk toward home. He felt so insignificant. Just yesterday, he was at the top of his game. He was in control. In stark contrast, today he felt totally out of control. His dad was in jail for killing one of his friends and for just about killing the best friend he ever had ... that he loved with all his heart. All the time spent hating added up to nothing. What a waste! All this time he could have been laughing, and loving. The guilt hammered away at his conscious and tears of true remorse rolled down his cheeks.
"What have I done?" he said to himself. "I've done nothing but hurt the people who care about me and worship the people who care nothing about me. How could I have been so wrong for so long? How?" The questions went unanswered, for the answers were always there, since the beginning. He had felt the feelings. He had known deep in his heart that what he was doing was wrong. But he did it anyway. Now he was paying the consequences. All the pain and suffering that he had given was coming back home. The feelings of guilt surrounded his mind like a fog bank. They blocked out everything else and weaved their way into every thought, every feeling and every emotion. It felt like a giant weight on his shoulders.
Brandon was just about home, but didn't want to face his mother. He knew that she would be taking his dad's side. He turned toward the park. Seeing Scott in the hospital had hit him like a ton of bricks. Scott was there, suffering, because of hatred. And Greg ... Greg was robbed and cheated out of the rest of his life ... because of hatred. And Brandon himself was suffering. He felt his split lip and swollen cheek. He was suffering too, because of hatred. All this effort, all this time, all this energy ... spent on hate. Now he hated himself. He walked down to the edge of the small pond at the park and looked down into its glassy surface. His reflection shimmered back at him. As he watched it intently, it slowly began to change. Brandon looked closer. The reflection was hazy, but then started to clear. What he saw was not himself. It was his father!
"NO! I'm not going to become him!" He grabbed the nearest rock he could find and threw it as hard as he could at the reflection, which immediately disappeared into a giant splash. Brandon fell back on to the grass. "Maybe ... I already have," he sobbed to himself as he sat staring of the widening ripples on the water. He lay back on the grass and closed his eyes. His thoughts suddenly turned to Cameron.
"How did Cameron know everything?" he thought to himself. "How did he know about
dad beating me? How did he know about the shooting? How did he know ...
that I'm ... damn it! I can't even say the word! CAMERON! How did you
know?" he screamed in his mind. "Oh God, I'm in love with the boy my
father shot. And his lov-lover was killed ... by my father. I don't
want to see my mom and I never want to see my dad. How am I going to
face my friends at school? How am I going to live with myself? Maybe,
maybe it would just better if I didn't have to ... "
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