I woke covered in clammy sweat, my sheets tangled about my legs in a coil. I pulled myself upwards until I was slouching bonelessly forward. My muscles wouldn’t stop quivering, though I reminded myself it had been a dream. Just a dream. I rubbed the round scars on my hands absently, it was as when I reminded my body of the scars it carried it would remember how long ago… It happened. I couldn’t even think about It with the proper words, the memory of what It felt like was more than enough.
I was almost relaxed once more when the lock on my door disengaged and the door swung open. My heart thudded until it had lodged itself in my throat again. I looked up met the orange eyes of a stranger. He was already glaring at me. I returned the favor easily.
He was tall, at least over 6 feet to my 5 foot 8 inches. His skin was tanned under his tight, white tank top. I could see his muscles shift as he hefted his bag higher on his shoulder. He didn’t seem to have that many belongings. His square and carelessly stubbled jaw clenched. He bore two tattoos, one that curled over his left eye and another that wrapped about his right bicep. I could tell already that he thought he was Hot Shit and that I would not be able to touch him.
We’d see about that. He would be dead within the week. I watched silently as he hoisted his bag onto his empty bed. He kept his hair short and spiked; white on top and -I noticed as he turned away from me- black from the tops of his ears to the base of his hairline. It wrapped about his skull like some kind of odd headband or racing stripe. I wondered what his Skill was.
With his bag safely on his new bed, my new roommate shut the door with a resounding thud. His hand slid from the wood as he turned to me slowly. His orange eyes didn’t waver as they held my silver gaze. He wasn’t afraid of me; he seemed more annoyed than anything else.
He spoke in a deep rumbling voice. “Temps Robins, I presume.”
At the sound of his voice I was ready to crawl into his arms and let him keep my dreams at bay. He sounded so impossibly strong that I had to stifle the urge and force my face to stay impassive. Only my sister knew my preference and I wasn’t about to let on now. The other students would crucify me. It didn’t help that I could already tell that he was a ladies man.
The big lug went on, unaware of my internal consternation. “My name is Thomas Frankie. I’ll be your new roommate and until I graduate at the end of the year, you’d better play nice. It’s a pleasure to meet you, I’m sure.” He rolled his eyes and scowled at me. “Now let me unpack before you try to kill me. I’d like to have a place to call home before I die, if it’s all the same to you.”
I blinked at his words; they had taken me by surprise. Most of my past roommates had either ignored me or talked down to me. Except for maybe Cad, but I was sure that guy was just daft. His tone almost seemed like he was inviting me to join in on the joke. I don’t know what kind of joke he thought he had made. Otherwise, he didn’t seem to care about me.
It was kind of… nice.
“Well, Frankie,” I said. “It’s rather early. How about you come back later? Or never?” I gave him my best sneer.
His orange eyes flicked over to me in annoyance, otherwise he flatly ignored me.
I groped about in my sheets and found my Magnum. She was my baby and right now I needed her bad. I wanted her to take out this trash so I could go back to sleep. I took careful aim, sighting the back of his head right where his black stripe ended, then I squeezed the trigger.
The shot went off with a satisfying deafening boom. Frankie’s head snapped forward with the force of the blow. 5 feet was a good distance, right?
At least I had thought so… until one of Frankie’s large and calloused hands came up and gingerly touched the bullet hole.
What the fuck?
I watched dumbstruck as his fingers came away with blood and he tilted his head to look at them. From my vantage of his profile, he was mad and getting up to murderous. He took a head shot and was still standing. What the hell was this guy made of? I panicked. There’s no better way to put it. This guy was not human and I didn’t want to be in the same room as him longer than I had to be. If I knocked him out, I could run for it.
I squeezed the trigger a few more times and unloaded the rest of my Magnum’s bullets into Frankie’s head. They hit him squarely in the side of his skull. His head snapped back, but again that was it. I hadn’t felt real panic in a long time but right then I was close to mindless hysterics. He wasn’t dying. Why wasn’t he dying?
Not even phased by the round that had slammed into his skull, Frankie rounded on me with more grace than I would have expected from such a large guy. He shook with visible rage, his eyes bespoke only painful mutilation. He cut his words with a rusty knife. “Did I not just say to wait before you tried to kill me? Are you as deaf as you are an asshole? You don’t deserve the crap they throw at your feet! You make me sick, you spoiled little brat!” With his encompassing hands, Frankie lunged for me.
I tried to get out of the way but my legs tangled in my sheets and his fist connected solidly with my cheekbone. The blow was brain-jarring enough on its own, but my head bounced off the wall from the sheer force of it. I saw nothing but stars as I felt his hand grab my hair and start pulling me up. My mind lashed out unconsciously; without control I felt my mental hands latching onto anything that could move in our small room. All of them were aimed at his head. He dragged me from my bed while my sheets tried to bind him instead of me. Unhindered, Frankie slammed his knee right into my stomach. His hand kept me from doubling over, but not from the blood that crept up my throat. I swallowed compulsively as I continued to tear the room apart and batter him with everything we had.
The stars began fading from my vision and Frankie pulled my face up level with his. He bared his straight, white teeth and growled, “Next time you think I’m easy prey, I’ll leave you with more than a broken bone, Robins. It’s time you got it into your overgrown head that you are not worth the time or attention anyone pays you.” He tossed me back onto my bed like a dirty rag with a flick of his wrist.
I coughed and blood curled its way down my chin like a red snake. The droplets hit my white sheets and spread slowly. My muscles jerked as I sought out the stains with a delicate finger. Around us things fell from the air as I dropped everything that my mind had been holding onto. Then my sheets wove about me, like they had a mind of their own, wrapping me in a cotton cocoon.
He spared me another burning glare. “And get some clothes on, I can see your bones and it’s disturbing.”
I huddled down even more, nursing my bruises. I was already making plans to make this guy’s life with me a living hell until I was able to kill him, but before that I badly needed a Medic’s attention.
My big sister, Cherise Robins, tsked over my rapidly coloring face. “You say you fell? What in the whole of Sinclair did you fall on, Temps? An angry sledgehammer?”
I grunted at her as she poked my cheek unapologetically. Her silver eyes still studied me even while she typed on the electronic note pad that all the Medics used to access the health database. As much as she was lacking a bedside manner, Cherise was always willing to patch me up when I ‘fell’.. I didn’t want to call attention to my murderous intentions until the deed was done. It made it easier to kill them when we didn’t have people checking in on us constantly. She would only raise a thin eyebrow at my explanation and leave it at as long as I filled her in on Yin-Yang Complex news. I envied her the separation that she had from our family, except that only place she was allowed to enter on the whole Complex was the Medic’s Center. I don’t think I would have been able to take such a distance between my parents and myself.
“Well,” She said at long last. “You have a fractured cheekbone and a beauty of a shiner on its way. You’re lucky he… I mean the fall, didn’t hit your ribs dead on, else they would have snapped like dry twigs. I wouldn’t mess with these particular stairs or sledgehammer again if I were you, little brother, or you may end up dead. Drink some Regen tea and you’ll be fine in no time.” Cherise ushered me from the exam table and handed my shirt back to me. “Please try and play nice.”
I paid her a toothy grin, “I’m sorry, I don’t ‘play nice.’ It’d ruin my manly image,” I puffed up my chest and winced when my body protested.
Cherise rolled her eyes as she chuckled. “At least wait till you’re all healed before you ‘fall’ again. I’ll send you some Regen tea,” she paused and gave me a long look. “Just take care, okay, Temps?”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” I pulled my shirt on. “So what’s Cad got in store for him?”
“I don’t know why you always want to know… but he’s a Tech now.”
I nodded in satisfaction, that job would suit him, and kissed Cherise on the cheek before I left. The moment I was out of the room, my mind was already planning bad things for Frankie.
I spent the rest of that day wandering about the Complex. I skipped my laundry duty and the other students took one look at me and went the other way. Some sniggered as they went, but I didn’t have the energy to care. I didn’t want to go to my room again because I didn’t want to have to deal with Frankie that soon. I wasn’t ready.
My fingers itched to tear into everyone I saw. I didn’t have to be telepathic to know that they all thought I had finally gotten my due. They made me sick. They didn’t know what it was like to really feel fear; to have it choke you and twist your insides. The cold sweat that broke over one’s skin as the light headed and disorienting nausea threw off one’s precious balance. When the body reacted before the mind could process what was going on and to find… that things would never be the same.
I silently cursed the lot of them and also reassured them that I had already paid all my dues and then some. I could just never say it out loud. I could never find the nerve to correct their mistake. Instead I wanted to see their lifeless eyes, no longer disgusted or accusing, but simply gone. Derelict. Just so I could relax, that was all that I asked for.
My tired feet took me from the Complex and into the rest of Sinclair. On my way out, I scanned my ID automatically. It wouldn’t do to give anyone reason to fall off their rocker because I had “disappeared.”
Going into the city was like a lot disappearing, actually. But this was a nice disappearance. No one met my eyes because of my hair color, not because of who my parents were. They parted for me and made it seem as if there was an invisible barrier between me and them. They ignored me like they would any sort of unsightly trash, and to them I was trash. All Yin-Yangs were. We did nothing productive for the Country, except mess about in history. If it was for better or worse, we didn’t know. We didn’t care.
I came to a small corner café about five blocks south from the Complex. It was close enough that no one would try anything with me, but far enough that I doubted other students ever got this far. Most Yin-Yangs kept to the Complex just so they didn’t have to deal with civilians. When I entered the café, a tinkle of a bell chime announced my entry. A violet-haired waitress came forward with a pleasant smile until she saw who it was, then the smile turned sour and she promptly changed directions to check on some of the occupied tables. I was left standing at the door like some simpleton. It wasn’t the most hospitable place, that was for sure. But most places around here would at least serve a Yin-Yang some toast or something of the like.
It was humbling to know how little the civilians liked our kind. I had nowhere else to go, so I waited. I had hoped that some Purple would have taken pity on me and fed me something, but luck was never on my side. I gazed at the light blue tabletops and sunlit warmth that the room exuded. But it proved to be a waste of time and my rage was boiling up under my skin. I was craving a fight to get the energy out of my system. I turned to leave and as my hand reached for the door knob, it opened.
I snatched my hand back quickly and looked up to see who it was. A pair of surprised ruby eyes stared back at me under a shock of bright blue and pink tipped hair. The ends were cut unevenly which only made those amazing eyes look even sharper. It was a young man, by my guess, in his early 20’s. He was lean and taller than me by a good half-foot. His hair was swept up in the back in a twisted style that let the ends fan out like a peacock’s feathers. He may have been a “mere civilian” but he was one of the most beautiful people I had ever seen. I felt my rage transform into a nervous flutter in my stomach. I had never felt ashamed of my Clan before. I would have been lucky if he even made the effort to tell me to get out of his way. The Govs told the civilians to hate us, and boy did they listen well. My colorful bruises did nothing to help my cause.
I must have been hideous.
Judging by the expression of the young Creator girl, with sunshine yellow hair and bright emerald eyes, I was downright nauseatingly disturbing. Her full pink lips stood out against her milk chocolate skin as they curled in her disgust. Her almond shaped eyes narrowed. “Ettienne,” she whined, not looking away from me. “Can we go someplace else? I didn’t realize they let any sort of vermin in! Who knows if their food has been soiled?”
Damn. Everyone was the same. My chest exploded with my rage once again, I had to remind myself over and over that killing a civilian meant I would be killed, too.
Fair was fair, but “fair” was an outright bitch.
The young man looked down at his companion then back at me. He seemed at a loss, but didn’t resist the young lady as she pulled him by his arm out of the café and into someplace “better.”
The door fell shut as I watched them walk away. I trained my sight on that beautiful young man. Everything seemed to slow down as he turned to look down on his companion. The sun lit up his elegant profile and the slow smile he graced her with. That damn Creator girl. The door felt like a barrier between me and the rest of the populace. I longed to be part of what everyone else seemed to have. I wanted to be able to smile back at someone, or have someone smile back at me like I mattered. My anger left me cold and lonely. All I wanted to do was crawl into bed and sleep away the rest of my days. There was no point in trying to play nice, but there was also no reason I had to play at all. Watching everyone else do what they wanted felt a lot like I was taunting myself. And I can assure you, that wasn’t that healthy. I envied them, and they hated me. Now I just had a pair of ruby eyes to haunt me as well as a pair of golden brown ones. I didn’t look forward to my dreams tonight if they got past the Regen tea’s coma.
I stumbled out of the café and onto the street. The Blue and the Yellow Cards were nowhere to be seen. Though I don’t think I would have done anything if I had seen them. What could I have done? Told the guy I thought he was gorgeous and get beaten down by a mob of civilians? Yeah that would have been wise. The streets weren’t pleasantly isolating anymore. The sun shone down on me and burned my nerves raw. Why couldn’t I just find someplace to relax? Was that so much to ask? I was tired of all the sneers I got anywhere I went. I wanted to feel the weight of someone’s hand in mine and not have my gut twist at the contact. Sometimes I thought I should have just died three years ago and saved a lot of people grief.
Then I reminded myself that as long as I was breathing I was better off than Him. And I was prepared to fight for my right to breathe just as everyone else was. What good was dying when I wasn’t done living? I didn’t need someone to catch me or help me stand. There was nothing I couldn’t do without some dirty tricks. And as I felt my resolve thicken and feed my ever-present rage I knew I would take out Frankie that night. I’d break him before he could break me.
The next civilian that I caught staring at my beautiful face was greeted with a teeth baring snarl. The Medic averted her sky blue eyes and kept on walking.
Oh Aksa, killing Thomas Frankie was going to be one wonderfully sweet victory. He would be the last person to lay a hand on me and live to tell anyone about it. My mind was already concocting ways that I could take him out. Clean or dirty? That was the better question.
Our room was in ruins.
When I had come in after getting back to the complex, I had found Frankie working on his computer. All his things had been neatly put away. My side had still been a disaster zone. Now it was even again as I collided with the window. I felt the pane give under my weight and the force that I had slammed into it with. Glass shattered and I fell the two stories amid a crystalline rainstorm.
I slowed my fall a fraction by using my Skill to levitate myself, but I wasn’t that successful. I landed in a heap in the soft moist grass. The dark sky watched as I rolled over and spat blood from my mouth. It dripped out mixed with saliva that stuck to my lower lip. I ignored the blood that flowed over my left eye and dripped from my chin; I had bigger things to worry about. My nose was broken and the searing pain only fueled my rage. I had let him hit me, but Frankie was a dead man. Though I had to hand it to him, he was a real hard-ass.
With a small quake, Frankie landed next to me on the grass in an alert and graceful crouch. The two-story drop was nothing to him, the fucking bad-ass. To add insult to injury, he was barely even hurt. He had a slowly bleeding cut on his shoulder from one of my CD’s that I sent flying his way. He was fucking nimble for as big as the bastard was.
“Are you done yet, Robins?” Fuck-face rumbled deep in his throat. “Or do I need to break the rest of your face?”
“Try it, asshole.” From the ground I knew I wasn’t that intimidating, but I gave him my best sneer around the blood that dripped over my mouth. I shoved myself up off of the grass and lurched to stand up. The Complex spun about me for a second, and then it was back to normal. When I knew I wasn’t going to keel over again I flipped him off with as much flair as I could muster.
He responded by kicking my feet out from under me. I rolled away from his brutal punch and wound up with shards of glass in my cheek for my efforts.
“Shit!” I rolled up to a crouch and rubbed at the glass. It stung and couldn’t decide which was worse, getting punched by my roommate or a load of glass getting shoved into my face. Tough call. My distraction cost me a kick to the back of my head. I caught myself with my mind instead of my hands. I had learned my lesson, now I just needed to teach this Yin-Yang his.
It sparkled under me and stung where it dug into my cheek.
Despite my encompassing pain, I grinned. It was too easy. I scrambled out of the way of another of Frankie’s kicks. Then I concentrated on the ground. Unless I used my Skill on instinct from panic, I had to see what I wanted to move. There was a littering of glass shards all over and around us. They twinkled in the light from the dorm’s open windows.
Students stared down on us in anticipation. They thought Frankie was winning. They were all wrong.
With all the glass I could see and wrap my “hands” around, I attacked Frankie. He saw it coming but froze like a dumb fucking deer in the headlights of a semi-truck. In a flash of refracting light I turned my roommate into a human crystalline pin-cushion. He screamed high enough that his voice cracked; the rumble cutting itself short. The brute didn’t have the decency to fall down, though. Aksa, he’s a fucking show off. He fell to one knee, clenched his fists, gritted his teeth and bore the pain like a holy fucking martyr.
There were shouts from around and above us. Apparently the other kids were buying his act and didn’t like what I had done. It wasn’t playing fair.
Of course, no one had taken the time to tell me the rules of the game. I didn’t know what they considered fair.
I laughed, unable to stop myself. It cackled in my ribs and grew into a bark on its way out. Frankie was close enough that he could slam his fist into my shoulder without any time for me to react. He sent me flying and I fell into the grass, again, but couldn’t stop laughing. Thomas Frankie’s blood poured freely from the many slivers. He played it smart and didn’t try pulling them all out himself. That would have just ruined his beefy hands. And we wouldn’t want that, would we? I’m sure he had loads of girls that would have cried over it.
If people hadn’t thought I was crazy before, I’m sure they did that night. I don’t think I left them any room to doubt it; I didn’t leave myself any room to doubt either.
I heard the incessant chatter all about me, underlying all of my laughter. It was obvious someone had called the authorities about our little disagreement because suddenly there was a body impeding my view of the night sky. She had red hair and was shouting orders, she took care of Frankie first, dosing him down with an injection in his thick neck. I giggled as he slumped and allowed the Reds to help him up. I saw his foot zeroing in for a departing love tap a moment before my skull split. I couldn’t concentrate on anything except the pain that blinded me. Stars blocked my vision, my ears rung, and that was definitely blood that I tasted. Yup, good ol’ copper coating my teeth. Yum. One last chuckle wormed its way out in a gurgled snort. My body still thrummed with the energy that I couldn’t move to use.
A hand reached for me and I twisted my mind around it on instinct. Fear sent a cold shiver down my spine, sobering me. I couldn’t let him touch me. Never again!
“Temps. Let go. It’s Cherise, come on…”
Past the stars I saw silver eyes that mirrored my own. I let go and forced myself to relax as she expertly sought out my wounds. As I said before, in the entire world I only trusted my family. Cherise knew and still loved me. She was the only one I had told everything to, but she was still ready to come to my aid. I flinched at the cold metal sting as a needle punctured my neck.
“Wha?” I mumbled.
“Shhh. Dream deeply, little brother.”
I did as the blackness of my nightmares enfolded me into their open arms.