Kissing, on the top of a skyscraper, with the moon over head and a warm breeze blowing against my skin, was intoxicating. For the past hour we'd kissed, touched, and held each other. I wanted to stay up there forever, but my stomach had other ideas. After the hundredth gurgle interrupted a perfectly good kiss, I sighed.
Urioch chuckled. "It is obvious that a person cannot live on love alone."
"I'd try," I complained, not wanted to get up.
"We can continue this while fulfilling our need for nutritional intake." Pulling me up with him, Urioch oriented himself.
"We can make-out while we eat?" That sounded kinky, but fun.
He shook his head, a bemused smile curling his lips. I wanted those lips on mine again. "No, we can make love in many ways. A romantic dinner is one of them."
"Where do you come up with this stuff from," I laughed, following him into the air.
"A consistent diet of Romance Novels," he replied, taking my hand. "Dinner."
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Brawler stood there, looking at me from the head of the table, waiting. Finally, he looked at Urioch. "Is he alright?"
Urioch broke my gaze and nodded. "Yes. He is still under the effects of BioTech's mutation."
Brawler snorted. "Heard about that. Nasty." He eyed me. "Level Seven clearance or not, Death's Head, you're grounded for the next forty-eight hours. I don't want you to spend your first days of independent heroing falling on your face."
"Yes, sir," I mumbled. I couldn't make up my mind if I wanted to do a victory dance or cry. What did it mean? I was independent. I no longer required mentoring. I had clearance to work on special missions and task forces. I wasn't Urioch's sidekick any longer.( the rest of chapter 13Collapse )
"What the hell are these guys again?" I grabbed two gunners from the upper level and smashed them against the bunker ceiling.
"Lost," Urioch grunted, blasting aside a big bruiser with a really big, nasty blade.
Lost. What the hell kind of gang name was that? "They look like genetic rejects from a mutant love fest." The big bruiser with the blade launched at us again, but I caught him in mid-leap and held him while Urioch gave him an in-the-face introduction to Mr. Energy Blast. For moment, the room quieted to the hum of equipment, surviving florescent lighting, and an odd pulse that I couldn't identify.( the rest of chapter 12Collapse )
February in Paragon City was cold, harsh, and always unpredictable. It wasn't the weather that made it that way, it was the villains. I woke up, for the third time this week, huddled against warm, hard muscle wrapped in two layers of clothes. Five days of power outages. We'd given up trying to keep things in the refrigerator cold and just put them all out on the balcony. At least none of the food had spoiled. Between my psycho kinesis and Urioch's energy powers, we could cook anything that could be cooked in a pot or skillet. I tried to tough it out the first couple nights, but my head cold only got worse. Urioch simply informed me that it was better to keep warm and healthy than prideful and ill. It wasn't pride, it was self preservation, but he'd been right. Without power, there was just no way to keep warm enough. Nights were dropping under zero and the days barely rose over twenty degrees. It was probably warmer in the sewers than it was in our apartment.( The rest of Chapter 11Collapse )
"Dinner will be ready in a half hour," Urioch said as he stuck his head in my room.
"Uh hmmm," I mumbled in acknowledgement, trying to figure out what I was going to write for my paper on the gay culture in America. I might have underhandedly tried to figure out if Urioch would have a problem with gays by slipping the books into the bag, but I really had planned on writing the paper. The problem with writing a paper on a group that I was a member of, but didn't feel like I was a member of, was that it depressed me. I pushed away from my desk after a few more futile attempts to write anything approaching intelligent, and walked into the living room. "I've got to take a break anyway."
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"How are you feeling?" Demonicalle plopped down beside me as I looked out over the city. It was kind of ironic that I was sitting in the cleavage of a stone statue of Galaxy Girl. It was the closest I ever wanted to get to a woman's breasts.
"A bit lost," I mumbled.
"Lost? You bring down a superadyne lab, are confirmed as an empathic healer, and you've been granted level one security clearance; and you're feeling lost?"
"Just a bit," I sighed, laying back. At least big stone boobs were comfortable to lie on. "Not to mention, we'll probably get fined for being up on a public statue like this."
"They'll get over it," she laughed, "Heroes perch on the statues more often than pigeons."( the rest of chapter 09Collapse )
I sat in Kevin's office, waiting for my appointment with Mrs. Patterson. She was the only person I knew who was more anal about appointment times than Amanda. It was half past ten and she hadn't opened the door demanding to know where I was. Of course, I'd never actually been in her office before. I'd always come to Kevin's, which was the gateway to hers, and then was directed to a conference room. Kevin wasn't there. What was there was a phone that didn't stop ringing more than a minute or two at a time and a million post-it notes stuck on Patterson's door. The whole place seemed to be in overdrive. Another office worker scurried in, looked at Kevin's empty desk in a panic, found a post-it, scribbled something and put it up on Patterson's door before dashing off with an armload of papers from the desk.
Curiosity pulled me from the chair and I started reading the notes. Most were requests to return calls, but there were a couple that looked important. I stopped at one half buried note. "Kevin, auto accident, Chiron medical, Room 417." I wondered if Patterson even knew he wasn't there. I could hear her, talking emphatically and clicking at her computer. I knocked before pushing open the door.( the rest of chapter 08Collapse )
I couldn't believe it was over. I stood in the living room, my stuff crammed into bags and boxes, as Urioch glared at me. The hate, the pure hate and disgust radiating from him had me crying. All I wanted was to have things they way they'd been before.
I reached out, trying to grip his arm. "Urioch, please!" I couldn't believe I was begging.
Thrusting me away, he snarled, "You are nothing but a burden. You are never satisfied. Life gives you every opportunity and you consume it all and demand more!"
"I don't need more," I mumbled, getting up off the floor. I knew what I needed. "Please..."
Lifting me by my shirt, he brought our faces close. The tone in his voice wasn't the joyful music I'd listened to so many times. It was the dark tone he reserved for criminals and villains. "Leave, Jason. You are nothing but a hole to me... a ravenous, gaping hole that can never be filled."
"No!" I sat up, shaking, and looked around my bedroom. I'd been out of the hospital for over two weeks, but I didn't feel well at all. Climbing out of bed, I wandered into the kitchen and started a pot of coffee. I hadn't had a good night's sleep since I ran out of pain pills. I wasn't in pain, physically at least, so there wasn't any excuse for more. I wished Amanda was available, but she was taking care of Patrick, the kids, and helping to put that family back together. Standing by the balcony doors, I looked out at the city lights.( the rest of chapter 07Collapse )
Three nights since I received my mother's gift, and sleep continued to elude me. I stared at the ceiling, awakened again by memories and feelings that were not my own, and pondered how the world had turned so dark. All the torch fire in existence could not illuminate the blackness that clung to the underside of Cradalym. I could not look in any direction and not see the disease that corrupted the Gifts of Goddess. I slipped from the bed, from the warmth and light of the man I loved, took up my hearthstone, and stepped quietly into the hall. Shadows stretched, long and dark across the walls and floors as I moved; they seemed alive, avoiding the light of my hearthstone, creeping into crevices and behind furniture as I moved.( Chapter 33Collapse )
Sparrow's Nest looked the same as I remembered it. The inn had been my master's choice, and I saw no reason to second guess him. We hitched Mina out front and stepped into the main tavern room. Memories came flooding back. It had been seven years since my last visit, and I felt I could walk the place with my eyes closed. I smiled as I saw a handsome man come out from the kitchen. His ears still looked like someone tugged on them daily.
With a smile, I walked past the bar. "Nathin."
Nathin turned and looked at me for a moment with a blank, servile smile. As he recognized me, his smile wavered and his eyes went wide; he nearly dropped the bucket. "Master Gaerlin?" The joy on his face warmed my heart. He was my fondest memory of Kessel's Claw, and apparently I'd had made a similar impression on him.( Chapter 05Collapse )