Psychosis – Epilogue

Nikerym 'Ksherea

Cay took a delicate sip of his cocoa, swallowing quickly to avoid burning his tongue. Setting the mug down on the tabletop in front of him, he loosely curled his hand around the warm ceramic. The apartment was quiet, though he knew it wouldn't last long. Snickering softly, he blew at the rising steam.

Luke was coming over today. After Bren and Zoë had finally gotten back and things had settled, Luke had gone back to his own apartment across the city. It was closer to the hospital and all, but Cay missed having someone in his bed with him.

Before Luke, there had been Bren, and before Bren… well, it hadn't been him alone in a good long time. Cay snickered again, remembering the look on Zoë's face when Bren had gone into their bedroom the first night they'd gotten back.

It was odd sometimes. Unnerving really, because knowing that Zoë could easily read his mind or that Bren – his best friend and occasional bed-buddy Bren – had some sort of secret psychic power was just uncomfortable. But then Zoë would snap at him or give him a dark look, or Bren would do something familiar and comforting and everything would be normal again.

Except for Bren living in Zoë's room. And Zoë not being a complete ass – all of the time, anyway. He still was most of the time. Cay would have called him on it more, except that he hadn't seen Bren smile so much in ages. And not just regular smiles, but blissful, happy smiles that showed up when Zoë wasn't looking or when Zoë did something thoughtful or couple-like.

As though summoned by Cay's quiet thoughts, Zoë stormed into the kitchen. He didn't bother to even glare at Cay, heading straight for the coffeemaker. Cay smothered a smile, sipping at his cocoa as Bren followed slowly.

"Zoë," he began slowly, looking sleepy and confused. Zoë slammed something against the counter (probably the coffee tin, since it sounded metallic). "I thought you liked Zach."

Cay perked up, twisting in his seat to look at them. Zoë was steadfastly ignoring Bren, setting up the coffeemaker, and Bren still looked adorably perplexed.

"Are you seeing Zach?" Cay asked curiously, and Bren nodded.

"We're supposed to meet him for coffee," Bren replied slowly. "Zoë doesn't want to."

Zoë scoffed, flicking the switch on the coffeemaker and turning to glare at Bren. "I didn't say that," Zoë snapped, crossing his arms.

"You don't seem very happy about it," Bren shot back and Cay covered his mouth to smother a giggle. Unsuccessfully, it seemed, as Zoë shot him a dark look and stormed out of the kitchen. Cay snickered out loud at the perplexed expression on Bren's face, sipping leisurely at his cocoa.

Bren buried his face in his hands and mumbled, "It is far too early for this."

"Brenny –" Cay began, straightening into true lecture mode. Bren gave him a look reminiscent of Zoë's. "Fine, Bren. You're an idiot."

"What?" Bren asked incredulously. "How? He and Zach get along, and it's been a few months so it shouldn't be any problem about the Institute –"

"Oh, he's so naïve," Cay murmured to himself, shaking his head. "How can he not see it?"

"Cay," Bren warned, scowling. "What?"

"Fine, fine." Cay snickered, curling his leg around the chair. "When was Zoë's last day off? One where he didn't get called off midway through it?"

"Um," Bren muttered, looking thoughtful. "Two weeks ago? I thought it would be good to get him out of the apartment, so they couldn't call him."

"Brenny." Cay grinned, letting the word roll off his tongue in the most patronizing manner he could manage. "When was the last day you had off, on the same day Zoë had a day off?"

"Ah…" Bren scowled. "A while. The day we went to that one museum –"

"That was a month and a half ago, Bren," Cay pointed out. "When did you tell him about the plans to go out today?"

"A few minutes ago," Bren admitted, looking rueful, and Cay grinned, draining the last of his cocoa from the mug. "But we're doing things together?"

"Probably not good enough," Cay pointed out, amused as Bren sighed loudly. "Did you ask Zoë what he wanted to do today?"

"I was going to, but he stormed off," Bren admitted and Cay laughed.

"You probably should've started with that," he advised, standing and moving to the sink.

"Right," Bren muttered, shaking his head. Cay rinsed out his mug quickly, listening to the sounds of the coffee percolating. Zoë stalked back into the kitchen, dressed in dark slacks and a pale blue shirt. He brushed past Bren without a word, and Bren scowled, looking annoyed.

Smothering another snicker because they were just too cute sometimes, Cay quickly left the room before one or the other decided to start throwing things.

"Zoë," Bren tried again as soon as Cay left the room. Cay had had a point… but Zoë really should've said something instead of storming off. "Did you want me to go on my own?"

"No," Zoë replied shortly, leaning against the counter and surveying him with narrowed eyes. "I want you to ask me to go."

Bren blinked, a little surprised. "Zoë, will you go with me to meet Zach for coffee?"

"Fine," Zoë agreed, taking a gulp of his coffee.

"And did you want to do something after, just you and me?" Bren tried, and Zoë shrugged but looked less annoyed.

"Maybe. I wouldn't mind just coming back here and doing nothing," Zoë offered, uncertain but Bren could only tell that by the way he was staring at his mug and not glaring at him.

"Sounds good," Bren admitted truthfully. Provided the Institute didn't call Zoë in this afternoon, that was. It seemed like there was precious little time most days for them to do anything, since Zoë kept coming home crazily tired. Something he claimed was an after-effect of losing all his shields, but it would be better if Zoë wasn't using his powers and Bren knew that.

"Good," Zoë decreed, a faint smile tugging at his lips. Bren smiled back, determined all over again to make Zoë enjoy his day off.

"Chad, what did you do with my shoe?" Zach asked, using the handle of his cane to search out under the bed.

"Mrrph," Chad grumbled from the top bunk, but didn't move.

"Chad, I'm going to be late," Zach protested, wondering if Chad would get mad if he poked him just a little.

"Talking, stop," Chad moaned, and the blanket struggled back to reveal one extremely hung over roommate. Zach did his best to not smile, just gave Chad an expectant look.

"My shoe?" Zach pressed when Chad just stared at him fuzzily.

"'sin the shower," Chad declared, and promptly disappeared under the covers again. Zach stared for a moment before shaking his head. He didn't want to know. Hobbling over to the bathroom, he stepped inside. Sure enough, his missing shoe was sitting innocuously under the faucet.

Miraculously, it was dry and had nothing weird in it, so Zach slipped it on and barely managed to grab his wallet before Davie knocked. Loudly, and Chad threw something that hit the far wall (nowhere near the door or Zach).

"Hey," Zach greeted, blushing a little when Davie smiled slowly, his eyes running down to Zach's shoes before snapping up to meet Zach's eyes.

"Shall we?" Davie asked, and Zach nodded, gesturing for Davie to precede him down the hallway. Davie ignored him, watching him expectantly until Zach finally gave in and gave Davie his free arm. Blushing a little, he locked the door behind him and let Davie lead him out of the dormitory.

Bren slouched in the booth, trying to catch Zoë's eyes. Zoë was steadfastly ignoring him again, but at least this time he wasn't angry. Just ignoring Bren. His ankle was pushed up against Bren's leg, and he looked bored. He was sitting on the other side of the booth too, which was just plain unfair, but Zoë had been the one to push their legs together so Bren was holding his tongue for now.

Besides, Zach would be here shortly, and he'd probably be bringing Davie, so Bren would have plenty of entertainment to distract him from tempting fate and bugging Zoë. Shifting in his seat, Bren glanced out the window. The sidewalk was busy, even with snow falling and temperatures below zero.

Perhaps he could take Zoë ice skating. And if Zoë didn't know how to skate, he could hold onto him. Except that Zoë didn't really seem the type to be into falling all over himself for fun. Still, it couldn't hurt to ask, and then they'd have a nice afternoon together.

"Hey," Zach greeted, pushing down his scarf. Bren grinned, straightening.

"Hey. How was the walk?"

"Cold," Zach dusted a bit of snow off his hair before sitting down awkwardly next to Bren. "Hello, Zoë," Zach greeted, almost cautiously and Bren smiled, nudging Zoë's leg under the table. Zoë shot him a glare, but gave Zach a nod that was almost courteous.

"Your shields are better," was Zoë's only comment before he returned to staring at the sidewalk unblinkingly.

"Oh, um, I found a book on it," Zach stammered out, and Bren grinned because it sounded like Zach had found more than one.

"Hot chocolate," Davie announced, setting down a cardboard cup in front of Zach. Zach blushed, managing a smile as he wrapped his hands around the cup.

"Thank you," he murmured, and Bren watched with amusement as Davie took the seat next to Zoë, his eyes never leaving Zach. Zoë didn't bother to look up, and Bren didn't draw his attention again (Zoë hadn't really seemed to like Davie after all).

"So Zach, what have you been up to?" Bren asked, leaning back in his seat. Disgruntlement flashed across Davie's face for a moment, and Bren was struck again by how similar the expression was to Zoë's. Bren brushed it off, more than content to chat with Zach rather than ponder the mysteries of Davie's rare expressions.

"Was it pure torture?" Bren asked, his hand warm where it was wrapped around Zoë's. Zoë waited a few heartbeats before answering, just to string Bren along.

"I wasn't paying attention," Zoë admitted, allowing a smile to curve his lips. Bren laughed, squeezing his fingers, and Zoë wondered how he'd ever managed before Bren's silence. The street was crowded – it was a weekend – but he couldn't hear a single thought besides his own. It was strange, but in a good way, and Zoë walked a little closer to Bren than he had to, soaking up the silence.

"Zach seems happy with Davie," Bren spoke up again, and Zoë rolled his eyes. Why couldn't Bren savor a good quiet? Zoë's irritation slipped away quickly though, and he frowned thoughtfully.

"Zoë?" Bren tugged at his hand gently, trying to get his attention.

"What?" Zoë asked automatically. He almost snapped, but kept the heat from the word at the last second.

"What are you thinking about?" Bren asked, and Zoë sighed, tilting his head up to the sky for a moment before fixing his gaze on Bren.

"My family," he admitted quietly, amused by the startled look on Bren's face.

"I don't know anything about your family," Bren said (nearly accused, as though Zoë should've brought it up earlier).

"Hmm," Zoë murmured, being vague to torture. Bren stopped, pulling Zoë to a stop and earning an affronted look from the person following them.

"Tell me about your family?" Bren asked, and Zoë shrugged, regretting having brought it up.

"I was four when I manifested. At daycare or preschool, and my parents were happy to be rid of a psychic blight," Zoë said, his tone completely flat. "They tried again, a few years later, except that this psychic son they sold."

"Sold? What, for parts?" Bren tried to joke, and Zoë yanked his hand free to smack Bren's chest.

"No, you idiot," Zoë snapped. "Davie."

"Davie?" Bren repeated, looking mystified for a moment. "Oh. Oh. Does he know?"

"He knows his parents. Our parents," Zoë shrugged. "I haven't told him otherwise."

"Are you going to?" Bren asked, and Zoë rolled his eyes, grabbing Bren's wrist and making him start walking again.

"Why would I?" Zoë asked, letting Bren grab his hand again. "It would make things unnecessarily complicated."

"But he's your brother," Bren protested.

"Do you want to go see your mother?" Zoë shot over his shoulder, tugging Bren across the street without care for the light change or the honks he received.

"No," Bren replied slowly. "But only because it's dangerous."

"Not that dangerous," Zoë muttered, not slowing as they neared the apartment building. "If you really wanted to go see her, it could be arranged."

"Really?" Bren asked, sounding hopeful and Zoë scowled, because he really should've dragged Bren in to see her ages ago.

"Yeah, really," Zoë replied, snapping though he didn't mean it. "You're clear as far as the Institute is concerned."

"So why won't you tell Davie?" Bren asked, and Zoë gave him a dark look, displeased.

"It doesn't matter. I doubt he'd care –"

"You don't know that until you've told him," Bren replied stubbornly as Zoë led the way into the building. Zoë hissed in frustration – he shouldn't have said anything, even if he was supposed to trust Bren. That was the way it was supposed to work, he thought.

"Fine, I'll tell him," Zoë conceded, lying through his teeth. Except that Bren kept in touch with Zach, and so by association, Davie.

"And if you don't, I will," Bren decided, and Zoë yanked his hand free and stalked towards the elevator. He should've lied. Said he was thinking about the weather or something.

"Zoë." Bren caught him too easily, snagging his wrist and pulling him around (and Zoë could've given him quite the wallop because he had the right angle, but he caught himself just in time)

"What?" Zoë asked, wincing inwardly at the sullenness in his voice. Really, he sucked at this. Why did Bren keep insisting on seeing him?

"Thank you for telling me," Bren offered, giving him a happy smile and Zoë rolled his eyes but smiled back. Bren was an idiot. Reaching out without thinking, Zoë touched his fingers to Bren's cheek lightly, earning a wider smile.

"Can we go upstairs now?" Zoë asked abruptly, letting his hand drop. Bren laughed, leaning forward like he was going to kiss Zoë – but Zoë glared, turning around to hit the button for the elevator. Anyone could walk by and he hated drawing people's attention.

Bren seemed to take the hint – at least, until Zoë was fishing out his keys to the apartment upstairs. Then Bren took advantage of his distraction, kissing him softly. Zoë dropped the keys with a loud jangle, startled because he still wasn't used to Bren's obnoxious (but not unwelcome) habit of kissing him out of the blue.

Zoë hesitated, unsure of whether he should kiss back, but Bren took the decision out of his hands, his hands sliding up Zoë's neck to cup his face carefully as he kissed Zoë in that far too addictive way of his (hard and unwaveringly and with far too much focus and how had Cay ever passed this up?).

Zoë tore himself away (waiting until the absolute last second before he ran out of air) and smacked Bren's chest in annoyance.

"Inside," Zoë snapped but Bren just smiled, rubbing at his chest. Zoë stooped and retrieved his keys quickly, trying to appear irritated enough to fend Bren off for a few moments and at least long enough for them to get into the apartment and their bedroom.

Hey look, something finished. Will maybe eventually get to a rewrite because I do want to. Also, to those who haven't read the note in my User Profile - I'm only updating those stories on FP that haven't been finished, and I"m not posting new things. See my livejournal (nikerymksherea - there's a link in my profile) for new stories. That is all.