Coercion Part 2

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Created by: Dannica

  1. I was met by the gazes of Web, Flame, and Rave when I exited the bathroom, combing through the tangles in my hair. "Girls take so long to get ready," Web jabbed, taking a bite of some strawberry pastry. I set the tiny plastic comb that I'd gotten from the motel down on the sink counter. "As if we're in a rush to get out of here anyways." I looked to Rave. "What's for breakfast?" He beckoned to the table he sat at, sweet and saturated food from the gas station splayed out like magazines. "Only the finest junk food in Equinox, Pennsylvania. I'd offered to go ahead and grab some doughnuts but we still needed to discuss the money problem." When I'd woken up this morning Rave was already freshly showered and changed, about to go fetch Web and Flame so we could regroup and talk about today. He'd asked if I got his notes. I told him yes. The subject had soon been replaced when I asked how his wound was. I glanced towards the two sticky notes on the bedside table. The one I'd slept with had unfortunately been crumpled in my palm. But I still wanted to keep it. I snatched away a Pop-Tart and ripped open the wrapper. After swallowing the first bite I realized just how hungry I was. "I actually have a credit card on me," Rave continued on, getting out a wallet from his new jeans. It impressed me that Web seemed to have got his sizes right. Rave held the card up for all of us to see. "When I graduated from the Basin the Jury put money in this card as a sort of farewell present, I guess. I believe some of my instructors grew attached to me, considering how long I've been there. There's a generous amount of money in it, but I don't know how much is left. I don't have the authority to put money in." He looked at me mostly while he talked; it was clear to me by the way he hesitated before saying almost every other word that he was still uncomfortable having to be so open to the others. Flame took a gulp from his water bottle, either ignoring Rave's uptightness or not seeing it. "We can't take the risk of running out. We're going to have to get some backup money. Web, do you have a card?" Web began chuckling to himself; I was afraid he might've choked on his food. "Oh yeah, I have lots." He shoved the last bit of pastry into his mouth, wiping the tips of his fingers with a napkin. We watched him expectantly, our eyes egging him on. This time, in the middle of drinking his water, he did choke. "Oh wait, you mean credit card? No."
  2. I slapped him on the arm, realization seeping in as to what he meant the first time. He grinned mischievously in return. Then, as if the current conversation just played in his mind, Web said, "I actually think the money thing isn't that important. I mean, there's cash in the car, and Rave has money on his card. We have clothes already that we could just rewash. The only things we really need money for are food and places to stay." "Alright," Rave considered, concentration lining his features. "Then what do you think we need to prioritize?" "Where we're going from here," Web replied. Flame nodded along. "He's right. Is there a final destination? We can't just be driving from city to city with no motives. Eventually our parents or James Dawn or Woodknox or whatever will call a search, and soon all of Pennsylvania will be keeping an eye out for us." "Not to mention the car," I added. "We basically stole it. The owner, Will, most likely already filed a report that it was taken. Police are going to be on the lookout for the driver's plate. The crack in the windshield also gives us away." We sighed in unison. "This sucks ass, man," Web uttered under his breath. "Even if the police don't recognize us as missing kids they'll see we stole the car. And when they search it they're probably going to find the gun." "What gun?" Rave asked, sweeping his gaze from face to face. "Nobody mentioned a gun." I swallowed another glob of my breakfast. "Flame found a gun in the car. We emptied out the bullets, of course. It's hidden at the bottom of the center console." Rave didn't look happy with what I'd just said, as if having an unloaded gun in the car served as a major threat to us. "Where are the bullets?" "I hid them in the seat pocket." His frown deepened. "Alright, well. We're not licensed to a gun so we have many charges against us if we do get caught by the police." "Can't you, like, do that Shimmer thing you do?" Flame asked, popping a piece of muffin into his mouth. Rave fidgeted in his seat. "I can, yes. But if you're suggesting me to Shimmer all of you, then I can't. We're a big group. If I Shimmered all of us then it'd leave a bigger trail of magic, making us more traceable. We have no idea where Sebastian is right now. We can't risk it. Not until we have proper weapons to fight back with. Even my magic has an extent." "Then what are we going to do?" I asked, feeling as determined as ever. Rave sighed. "There's only one place we can get weapons that can size up to the ones that the Miscreancy has. Where we're guaranteed safety." Flame, Web, and I leaned in anxiously. Rave had turned pale. "We're going to the Basin."
  3. We left the motel after packing our things into trash bags that we'd gotten from the front desk at checkout. Rave took the driver's seat, urging us all that his wound did not need attention from the first-aid kit, and that he was more than capable of driving. Web, wanting control over the radio, took the passenger seat, while Flame and I stayed in the back. Our destination: Philadelphia International Airport. The trash bags were all stowed in the trunk, barring some snacks as well as a first-aid kit tucked under my seat. Sitting there staring out the window at the passing shops and walking pedestrians, I was still skeptical about having to fly to the Basin. For some reason I had this strange fantasy that the Basin would be some imperceptible arcanum that was hidden underwater, and Rave would have had to blindfold Flame, Web, and I in order for us to get in. Obviously getting on public transportation didn't fit the expectation. Rave had assured us not to worry about plane tickets, or even the trash bags, so I guess the only option was to trust him and his intuition"”which wasn't that hard. The drive from Equinox to the airport, Rave approximated, would be about eight hours, considering that Philadelphia was down in the most southern parts of Pennsylvania. Meaning this, our arrival would roughly be around seven o'clock. That is, if things went smoothly. Rave said that we mustn't stop for anything other than the bathroom. I suggested getting a rental car, to eliminate the potential of the police catching us with Will's stolen car, but my idea was shot down early when Flame and Rave explained how time consuming it would be to fill out the paperwork and, above everything else, the price of the rental itself. The two of them made quite the team. Web switched radio stations at the same time I took my phone out of my pocket. About two centimeters of battery remained. I still hadn't gotten any messages or texts from anybody. I should have felt relieved, but I didn't. Suspicion flashed through my mind. Reyna herself had seen Rave and I flee from the dance. The nurse must have pieced together by assumption that Rave and I were responsible for Naomi and Lauren. Web had basically ruined Brittany's big formal inauguration. It was nearly afternoon. Wouldn't Reyna or Principal Dapper want to punish Web and me for what we'd done? We'd broken on-campus detention, Web most likely broke his parole with the officers at the station, and"”oh yeah, I've absconded the city as a suspect in Dot's case. Holy s**t. I scoured the cars surrounding us, trying to grasp onto some sense. We'd started all of this trouble: Principal Dapper would must have wanted to at least talk to either Web or me. Didn't they know we"”including Flame"”were gone? And if they did, wouldn't they have called our par"” I knitted my eyebrows together at the car next to us. The roads weren't fully packed, and the driver, a woman, had plenty of room to speed up if she wanted to. Instead she kept at our pace. Web must have noticed it too, because just then he cursed under his breath. "What's wrong?" Flame asked, trying to catch a glimpse out my window. Rave sped up. The woman followed. It was Flame's turn to cuss. "She's not in the Miscreancy," Rave mumbled evenly, "so obviously something else is up. Just act normal for a while. We'll see what happens." I slumped back into my seat, telling myself not to worry yet. A verse in the song playing on the radio passed. I looked back out the window. The woman was on the phone, talking very animatedly. Web let out a sigh of relief. "Nothing to worry ab"” F**k. Guys, look ahead." I craned my neck in between the seats of Rave and Web, looking outside the windshield. There in the distance, bulging yellow letters against a black background screamed, Stolen car. Black SUV 2006 Ford Expedition. Cracked windshield. If seen call 911. We all turned our gazes back to the woman. She clamped her phone shut, and began slowing down. "Go!" Flame demanded. "She's trying to see the license plate!" And just like that, Rave stomped on the gas, and we zoomed off. The unexpected speed caused me to lurch forward, the seatbelt biting into my chest. I dug my nails into the tan leather on either side of me and began scratching. "We have to pull in somewhere," Rave said, frustrated. "That lady must have already called the police. If I continue speeding it'll make us more noticeable. If I slow down then someone will definitely identify us again." He slapped the steering wheel, and then switched lanes, passing cars until we were en route to a random exit. The car rolled to a stop once we hit a red light. I forced my hands into my lap. "What are we going to do? The word is out that the car is stolen." Rave removed his hands from the wheel and rubbed the back of his neck. "I guess all we can do is wait it out. We'll get some real food, and then I'll talk about what you can expect once we get to the Basin."
  4. We decided on Chinese. Rave parked the car towards the middle of the lot, hiding us in plain sight. We agreed to eat in the car; it was too risky to go down as a group and dine in. Rave released his seatbelt, making it snap back to it's original place. "Chicken, beef, rice, and noodles. Is that good?" He opened the door and got out, waiting for a response. I glanced from Flame to Web. They nodded. I offered up a smile. "Perfect." Rave tried to return the gesture, but it fell flat. I wished I could hug him right there. "I'll leave the keys in the ignition. Just in case." The door slammed shut, and soon his figure hurried away. Web sighed, and turned back to look at Flame and me. His lips slowly spread into one of his mischievous smirks. "Actually, I think I'm going to go help out Rave. I think he might need my moral support. The multiple options of food in that place might overwhelm the poor boy." His door opened. I heard his shoes crunch against the gravel. "Please try and not rock the car that much. Who knows how much this model can handle." "Oh my God," I part laughed, part shrieked, my cheeks flaming red. I turned to Flame; he looked just as embarrassed. Web grinned. "Just a fair warning. I'll try to stall as much as a can. You're welcome." I gaped at him, even as he scurried farther and farther away, until he entered the store doors. Flame cleared his throat, swallowing back a laugh. "I did not plan that." We looked at each other and burst out laughing"”so hard that tears formed at our eyes. Perhaps it was because of all the stress put upon our backs, but I didn't care. I felt normal. Like I always did with Flame. That's all that mattered. "He actually called that girl from the gas station last night," Flame wheezed, his eyes crinkling. God, his smile was so perfect. "It turned out that he only got her number because he told her he was a plumber and could "˜repair leakages of any kind', and she took it literally." I totally lost all my sanity right there and doubled over, my stomach clenched as tears rolled down my face. ""˜Repair leakages of any kind'?" Flame nodded, and we laughed all over again. Until laughing turned to kissing.
  5. I didn't necessarily remember how it so abruptly came to that. All I know is that we were laughing one second, and then I lunged myself onto him. Okay, so maybe I did remember how it happened. The only things touching were our faces. I wanted to get closer to him"”to run my fingers through his hair and down his chest; to trace the outline of his jaw and feel his lips on my neck. But the goddamn seatbelt. My fingers fumbled with the buckle for too long, and soon Flame's hand came to the rescue and click, I was free. I kissed him harder and scrambled up onto the seat, moving forward until my knee touched his thigh. He made a strangled sound as I climbed into his lap. I smiled against his lips, and yanked his seatbelt out. "I didn't know you wanted me this bad, green bean," he muttered in a low and sexy voice, bringing his lips to my collarbone and his hands on my waist. My breathing sped up after each kiss. I grinned, putting my arms around his neck. "I didn't know you were still an arrogant douche." He focused back on my lips, tugging at my bottom one gently with his teeth. "I want to taste your sighs," he whispered. I kissed him hard again. I filled my palms with his shirt; I felt his hair course through my fingers; I gripped my nails into his back. He let me lead. He wasn't rough on me like I was on him. He didn't want to do anything I didn't want to do. Why me? I'd asked after he took me to the roof. I remembered the confusion on his face"”the assuring smile. Why not you? My hand found it's way under his shirt. His bare skin was so warm and inveigling. But the kisses started to slow down. Not as fierce, or hungry. I stopped and looked at him. A lopsided grin was plastered onto his face. "You stopped," I said slowly, my blood pressure slowly decreasing. He reached forward and kissed my nose. "I stopped." "Why?" The disappointment must have been glowing on my face, because he brought my hand to his heart and said, "You're killing me with your pouty face, green bean. And I don't think many people would be ecstatic about that. You'd face the death penalty." I took my hand from his grasp and slapped his chest. Flame laughed, and took back my hand, entwining it with his. "Honestly, I stopped because I wasn't about to get stripped in this car where anybody whom walks by can see. This body is not a free show." "I was not going to strip you," I said, color rushing back to my cheeks. "Well. At least not all of you." He stroked his thumb over mine. "I want to take you out on a date." Before I could say anything he said, "A real one. Like, with dinner and expensive wine. Even though I enjoyed our rendezvous on that crappy rooftop. Very romantic, must I add. Whomever thought of that one is a genius." A pause. "And then perhaps I can actually find the balls to ask you to be my girlfriend." I rose a questioning eyebrow at him. "So that super hot make-out session didn't clarify that at all?" He sighed the sighs he'd taken from me. "It was in the moment. You know that." The words stung. "And so what? Are you saying I didn't mean any of it?" Flame didn't hesitate. "No. You kissed me because you were in the moment. You're panicked and you're stressed. Why did you think we were laughing so hard moments ago?" I thought long and hard. And he was right. Didn't I even say I'd lost my sanity for a moment? "I'm sorry. I hope I didn't make you feel used or anything." He smirked. "I always feel used. Sometimes having good looks can be a bad thing." I kissed him on the cheek, just because I wanted to. I felt calm now. "We can go on a real date, then. You can get me flowers and we can go on a yacht and eat lobsters and drink decade-old wine and eat crí¨me brí»lées all night. On a day that we're not running from an insane group of psychos, and on the run from the police, of course. I think I'll be rational by then. And then you can be ballsy and ask me to be your girlfriend." He smiled. We kissed again. His lips were like a sedative"”stronger than any drug or pill they made me take in the mental hospital. He broke away. I saw his face clouded with worry. "Are you okay?" I asked. "What's wrong?" He let out a deep breath. "There's something I need to"”" The car door whooshed open so suddenly that I actually flew myself back to my seat faster than I could run. Rave peeked in. "Oh, sorry. Should I run to the store and see if they have a do not disturb sign you guys could put around the door handle?" Web appeared seconds later. He climbed inside with the food bags in his lap, that infuriating smirk still painted on his face. Rave followed suit. "Should I have stalled longer?" Web asked in amusement, rummaging through the plastic bag. Grease immediately took up the car. He held up a small plastic container with a lone egg roll in it. He waved it in front of Rave's face. "Told you they were making out. So I win. Pass the sweet and sour sauce, please."
  6. We rationed out the servings among the four of us, each getting a little of all, then packaged the remaining food back into its container to save for later. "Let's talk about the Basin," Rave said, pushing the peas from his fried rice to the side. "When we get there you all must keep your emotions in check. In the Haze, there are guards stationed there that are trained to sense high spikes of brain waves. If you feel too anxious or even excited, they will pull you from the Haze and give you a thorough search." I stabbed my fork in the air. "What's the Haze?" "It's like this barrier of very thick fog." It had to be more complicated than that but I appreciated him keeping it simple. "Basically, if you just act like you're supposed to be there then nothing will happen. When we get through the Haze they will search our bags, but won't take anything. Clothing, shelter, and food will most likely be provided, and I'm expecting us to sleep over for at least two nights, just so that I can have a decent stretch of time to talk to my instructors. We will be sleeping in the guest quarters. Again, just please act like you're supposed to be there. Act like you belong." "And they like humans, right?" Web inquired. Rave nodded. "Just don't distract the students when out training." Web raked a hand through his hair. "That's going to be a problem then. I mean, look at me." Rave turned his head to Flame. "You roomed with him?" Flame grimaced. "Unfortunately."
  7. After lunch we'd driven on, running into no trouble, passing time just listening to the radio and sleeping. We'd stopped over only to get gas and for bathroom breaks. During our breaks was when we'd switched drivers; I, unsurprisingly, was the only one who didn't know how to drive. My parents were actually supposed to take me to the DMV, but then I was taken to the hospital. My mind flashed back to the scars on my arms; the claws; the seething glowing eyes. "What happened to the Kroutins?" I asked Rave, who was sitting next to me. Flame was in control of the car while, judging from his silence, Web was asleep. "I don't know. The Miscreancy would usually summon them, but now that it's so limited they've seemed to disappear. But I'd rather have the delay of Kroutins than a swarm of them." I nodded. "One less thing to worry about." My eyes slipped down to Rave's hands. They were curled into fists at his sides. His jaw was clenched, and his shoulders were stiff. "I wish you'd relax," I said quietly. He looked at me, his face becoming softer. "I'm fine. Just anxious. You make an excellent nurse, by the way." I smiled smugly. "I try my best." "But you totally could have given me a chance at that egg roll." "Are you seriously still on that?" I said, with a roll of my eyes. "It would have been easier if you just bought another one. Or offered to split." Rave scoffed. "Split? Please. We're men." My laugh put a gratifying smile on his face. "And you didn't even try my pleading my case. So uncool." I put my hands up defensively. "I apologize, then. I will personally buy you an egg roll once we get the chance. But in my defense, what was I supposed to do? Convince Web that Flame"”" my voice dropped lower when I said his name"” "was choking on something and I was trying to resuscitate him?" Something crossed Rave's face, rippling his demeanor. "If only that was the case." He said it so quietly that I was having trouble in my mind determining if he'd actually said it. Before I could say anything back, the car made a slight right. Flame cleared his throat, jolting Web awake. "We're here."
  8. Trash bags in hand, we made our final goodbyes to Will Barne's car. Well, Web did. The rest of us were forced to wait. "You served us well," he said, stroking the hood, stifling fake sobs. "And I'm sorry it has to end this way. Just know that I am not abandoning you. The police will find you, and you will be reunited with your original owner." As if the car actually replied, Web said, "No, baby, no. Will misses you. I know that for a fact. Because I will. I just hope you know that it's not you, it's me. I can't take you along. It's too risky out there." I rolled my eyes. "How long has it been since you've been with a girl?" Web dropped his attention from the car and slipped his hand around my waist. "Are you volunteering?" "Are you still playing plumber?" His lip twitched as he glanced at Flame, who began laughing. I took his hand off my hip. "Do you need the first aid kit? I think your ego is a little damaged." Web sneered. "Cute." He paused. "My mom would give me kisses instead of bandaids though. If you're willing." I shoved him jokingly, registering the look he got from Flame, and the look I got from Rave. "Let's get going. You can flirt with me when we're assured safety in the sky." Web heaved his trash bags up and patted the SUV one last time. "And you say I'm the arrogant one."
  9. We basically just ditched the car towards the back of the drop-off and loading section of the airport. Some policemen were stationed to keep watch, so we had to hurry inside to not raise suspicion. But considering we had trash bags as luggage, it wasn't the easiest task. Especially since one of them held the gun, and another held the bullets. Concern for that had been raised earlier ago, but Rave simply had said not to worry about it. Keeping our heads ducked down"”to make it more difficult for the cameras to see our faces"”Flame, Web, and I followed Rave at a quick pace, careful not to make eye contact with anybody else, even though I was positive that people were staring at us like we were a part of some superhero janitorial group. Passing by luggage check-in, we scurried towards security, and entered the golden member line. A man in an official-looking outfit stopped us. It seemed like he was holding back a laugh. "Are you kids lost?" Rave glowered, and dropped his trash bag to take out his wallet. He took out what I assumed was an ID, and held it in front of the man's face. His expression changed from amused, to confused, to timid, and then to understanding, all under three seconds. Rave put the card away, and took the bag back into his hand. "Don't be so quick to assume." "I-I apologize," he stuttered, bowing his head. "Please, follow me." The man, Dexter, from his name tag, muttered something into his partner's ear"”the one tending to the regular line of passengers. He eyed us warily, and then nodded. Dexter beckoned us towards him as he began walking towards a steel door with a keypad on it. I fell back, pulling Flame aside before he could pursue the rest of the group. He rose his eyebrows in question. "What were you going to ask me in the car?" He flicked his gaze over to our little troop, gathered by the door. "Um, nothing. It's not important." "Are you sure? It sounded important." In an annoyed voice, the guard called us to hurry up. Flame put on a weak smile. "It's irrelevant now." Shrugging off the suspicions clouding through my mind, I chased him to the others, whom were already inside the door. Dexter scowled at our lack of urgency. He pushed us aside to get to the front, and took long, brisk strides through the bland hallway, until we reached flights of metal stairs. Rave didn't hesitate and started climbing up, each step producing a sharp clang. We followed after a couple of seconds. Subsequently, that earned us another irritated look from Dexter. His job sucked. After about seven flights of stairs, we halted at another steel door, this one with a slot instead of a keypad, like the locks on hotel rooms. Rave took out his ID again, shoved it into the slot, and put his wallet back"”all without Dexter's instruction. The light on top of the slot flipped green while a click resonated through the walls. Dexter sheepishly thrust the door open. I could only stand there, gaping at the secluded terminal before me. Herded through, my legs on autopilot, I stared at the chaos surrounding me. Teenagers dominated the place, no doubt. They were scattered throughout the terminal"”no clique or group or any particular setting they blended in with. Kids bustled everywhere, some in a rush and some taking their sweet time; some serious and some nonchalant. It was kind of like elementary school. Except adults were scarce. In fact, the only adults I saw seemed to be the ones on duty, working. Typical shops flanked the strip of linoleum floor we"”and the rest of the adolescent population"”walked on, while a woman's voice announced departing flights. "Arizona HQ, London HQ, and Amsterdam HQ are now boarding," she followed. Catching up with Rave in the front I asked, "Headquarters for what?" I noticed Dexter was gone; during my daze I must not have noticed. "HQ is just a shorter name for the Basin. This terminal is for flights only going there. That's why there are so many teenagers. There actually might be some Seventh Sighters around." "What about Saviors?" Rave smiled. "Why, looking for a new one?" "Oh please," I retorted, raising my trash bag a little so it wouldn't collide with the roller luggage. "I already have the best Savior in the business. Graduated top of his class, if I recall." He grinned, snuck a glance behind his shoulder to see if Flame and Web were keeping up, and said, "Only because I had an advantage. But this place is infested with Saviors. Saviors are paired with everybody, not just Seventh Sighters. Humans have Saviors as well, but they're instructed not to be obvious. They just stay back and help to achieve their Purpose's purpose. It's kind of how luck and karma were created." "But the "˜special cases', like Seventh Sighters or whatever, actually get involved with their Savior?" "Yes. The Saviors whom get the rare Purposes, like me, have a harder job, because people like you have a bigger purpose in life. Seventh Sighters save the living, people with the Sixth Sense save the dead, and so on." So this terminal was just for the special cases. Obviously. I paused. "The Sixth Sense? Like the movie? That's a real thing?" "They had to get the inspiration from somewhere." I widened my eyes, remembering how I would cower under the covers as a child during the movie, frightened. Who knew it was real? "That's amazing." We didn't get the chance to continue the conversation, because just then Rave pulled up to a woman in customer service. Flame and Web joined shortly. "What time is the flight to the Chicago HQ?" A strangled sound made me turn. Flame was pale. What was going on with him? The woman typed a few keys into her computer, and then answered, "The next flight will begin boarding in ten minutes." She looked our group over, her auburn hair bouncing with every movement of her neck. She lingered on Flame and Web a moment longer. "They're human," I said. She narrowed her eyes, and slowly nodded. "You would need to buy tickets for the humans. The terminal only offers free service to those from the Basin. I apologize for the inconvenience."
  10. We payed the tickets and soon found ourselves in line to board the eight o'clock flight to Chicago, Illinois. There weren't many people going to that HQ, so we were free to move seats if we wanted. Flame and Web however, because they were human I guess, had to stay in their assigned seats. They'd also had to go through security; luckily the gun nor bullets were hidden with them. I'd asked Rave why we didn't need any tickets to board"”or go through any of the regular procedure"”and he'd said it was because he'd trained in the Chicago Basin, so he was not a guest, but an alumni. When I asked specifically about myself he'd said, "She knows you're my Purpose." When I'd asked how he'd replied, "She can see the bond." I hadn't pursued the conversation. Rave veered me towards the seats behind Flame and Web, but I pulled him back when I saw them talking to each other in hushed voices. It looked like Web was trying to comfort Flame, who still looked rattled. "We should be two behind, at least," I muttered to Rave. "I think Flame's freaked out." He gave me a questioning eyebrow as he followed me towards another pair of seats. I took the window and waited until he shoved the trash bags into the overhead storage space and settled in before I said, "He's originally from Chicago. Maybe he's worried about seeing somebody he knows. Which we can't let happen, by the way." Rave adjusted his seatbelt, which reminded me to put mine on. "I can see why he would be anxious," he prompted. "But I think it runs deeper than that." I shrugged, even though I had an idea. I just didn't want to say it out loud. There were rumors about Flame when he'd first arrived at James Dawn. I knew that. I also knew that those rumors gave him his nickname. So what had happened in Chicago with Flame?
  11. "Welcome aboard, this is your captain speaking..." I looked out the window, at the blinking lights from the other planes, and the bright shine of orange vests from the people working. We're really leaving, I thought, unsure if that was a good or bad thing. The people at James Dawn wouldn't miss me anyways. Except... I pang of guilt hit me so hard I actually clutched my stomach. I knew I couldn't bring Comet along. I didn't want to risk my cat getting hurt. I had to believe that Reyna had found him, and put him in the care of an animal shelter. The plane suddenly lurched forward. Taking a deep breath while the craft made turns to reach the runway, I surveyed the people surrounding Rave and me. Which weren't many. In fact, there were maybe only three other people on the plane. We sat near the middle, so I had a pretty good view of whom were on board with us. Two of the people looked like they were together, while another sat alone in the front. I wondered what their business was at the Basin. Or perhaps they just needed a ride to Chicago. A lanky flight attendant with a sprightly smile and purple eyelids pranced through the aisle, making sure that the overhead bins were secure and the passengers had on their seat belts. A staticky sound rustled from the above speakers. "Flight attendants, please take your seat for takeoff." I clutched at the armrest as the plane started to increase its speed. Faster and faster"”until it began tilting upwards. "Weather for tonight will be party cloudy," the captain's, or perhaps co-captain's, muffled voice informed. "We'll be experiencing some thick fog for a few miles until the skies get clear; approximate time of arrival is 9:15 PM. We hope you enjoy your flight." The plane evened out after a few minutes, and I relaxed my shoulders. There was nothing to see outside my window except for a gray denseness, so I pulled the shutter down. "Rave?" I twisted my body to face him. Before waiting for an acknowledgement I said, "Back at the school, in the parking lot where you covered the place in darkness... I was able to see. Sort of. Like, I could see grayish outlines of people. I even got in a fight with one"”one of the women. That's why I'd asked you to hold out your arm. Is that normal?" This had been bothering me for a while now, always scratching at my conscious, like a begging dog. Rave furrowed his brow. I guess that answered my question. "No," he said. "I mean, I've never heard of it. From what I know, Saviors and their Purposes are only bound together. It doesn't make them immune to each other. Are you sure that's what you saw?" "Positive. But when I saw you, your outline was a different color. Lighter." He twisted his ring around his finger. "I don't know. I'll ask my instructor when we get to the Basin. Maybe it's one of your other powers kicking in." "Which reminds me: how come we haven't done any training? Or, you haven't mentioned any training? It's kind of old having to play damsel in distress all the time. I want to kick ass." Rave laughed, accompanied by a yawn. "I'll have lessons arranged once we arrive, okay? You can get tested at the lab for your powers, and then you can use Flame and Web for test dummies." I grinned. "Deal. But you, Mr. Kingsley, should go to sleep. It almost looks like you have two black eyes." He shrugged. "I'm not trying to impress anybody." I laughed. It was tinged with worry. Without even thinking I took Rave's hand in mine, knitting my fingers with his. Electricity tickled my skin, even though I was a little embarrassed. Usually when we did this gesture we didn't interlock our fingers at all. But he squeezed anyways.

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