Chapter Three

Merrick had woken up to whimpering sounds coming from the other side of the room. He wiped his eyes for a moment, trying to regain his senses before realizing that Helios must be having some sort of nightmare. When he threw the covers away to get up he noticed the other seemed to be struggling, as if battling an invisible attacker.

He knelt down on the side of the bed, staring for a moment. 'Nightmares….nightmares…you're not supposed to wake people up from those right? Because they might have some sort of reaction? But he looks so upset…what the hell is he dreaming about? What if he ends up hurting himself or something because he keeps dreaming huh? Think Merrick…wake him up or don't wake him up…Damn stupid psychology classes! What am I supposed to do huh?'

Just as he had decided that perhaps it would be best to try and slowly rouse the other into the conscious world, he was startled as Helios jolted up, his eyes wide and disorientated as he stared forward, almost unseeing. Unsure of what to do, the blonde hesitantly reached out to place his hand on Helios' shoulder. "Are you alright?"

Yet as soon as his skin came in contact with flimsy material of Helios' shirt it was as if he had been hit with a tidal wave. Feelings washed over him like a tsunami hitting an island. Exhaustion, fear, anxiety, and a plethora of emotions hit him at once, sending a jolt of pain through him, causing him to wince and pull his hand away. He ignored the other's presence for a moment, trying to regain control and block out everything he had just felt coursing through him.

'Christ…what the fuck was that?' he thought, purple eyes widened slightly. 'I mean yeah, I've had some issues with feelings before, but never anything like that. I mean what the hell, that shit hurt! And what the hell was he dreaming about to freak him out so much anyway and WHY is this even happening to me? I've had a completely normal life haven't I? Yeah, I've been in high school, was nice and popular, never had any trouble with anyone and never pissed off any witches, at least I don't think I have and besides half of that stuff isn't even real…right? I mean come on, witches and spells and all that stuff? It's impossible…right…oh who the hell are you kidding Merrick. Are you aware of what just happened when you tried to touch Helios? Complete, breakdown.'

When he finally looked up again Helios seemed to have been staring at him, his blue eyes intense and serious, but a hint of surprise shone through as well. He sighed, knowing that he wouldn't escape questioning from the other. Part of him thought that perhaps it would not be a bad thing, and considering all of the books he owned, perhaps Helios would be able to understand and maybe even help him out. One the other hand, he could simply recognize him for the freak he is and do his best to stay away from him. Something told Merrick that the first was the more likely option however.

Letting out a long sigh, he brushed his fingers through his blonde strands, letting a nervous laugh escape his lips. "Weird huh?"

He had been hoping to try and lighten the mood, and the small chuckle he had gotten in return told him it had worked. "Not really weird, just unexpected," Helios replied, giving him a small smile, encouragement to go on.

"Yeah well…I'm betting you're the only one who'd say so," Merrick muttered, more to himself than to anyone else. "It's been going on for the past year or so, though it's picked up a lot since I've gotten here. Course…I'm not even sure what it is exactly. I guess someone who has it is called an empath? I tried to do some researching online, but I'm not really good at that sort of thing. But yeah…I pick up feelings from other people…"

His voice trailed off, nervousness growing in the pit of his stomach. But Helios seemed to understand, and gently urged him on. "Can you control it?" he asked, his voice soft and pleasant.

Merrick shook his head. "Nope. It doesn't happen a whole lot, or at least it didn't before. Just every now and then when I was around someone, I'd get flashes of emotions that weren't mine. Sometimes I can't even tell who they belong to if I'm in a really crowded area. It's all just really random. It happened on our first day here though, when we were talking that night."

He glanced up at Helios again, who seemed to just be accepting everything in stride, which calmed some of the anxiety that had been building inside Merrick. Living with someone who thought he was crazy was not something he had needed this year.

"What about what happened just now?" Helios suddenly asked, his tone laced with concern.

" It's never been this bad before," the blonde answered, his face expressing his confusion. "I guess it's because I touched you after a really bad dream and everything just kind of overloaded. But I really have no idea. But that…I could really, really feel it. Like it actually physically hurt…I guess it's not all bad though. I mean…now that that's over with I was able to actually talk to someone about it, which I had never in a million years planned on doing. Being labeled crazy is definitely not on my agenda."

He listened to Helios laugh. "It certainly is not crazy," he assured him. "I suppose most people may not believe in such things, but there are people who have different abilities, such as empathy."

As he listened to Helios talk, he was hit with a sudden disoriented feeling and glanced up at his roommate, finally giving him a good look over. His eyes seemed to still be half closed, almost screaming that they wanted more sleep. He noticed that Helios' pale fingers were gently messaging his temple and finally realized that his friend had been incredibly drunk last night and was most likely trying to deal with a hangover on top of everything else. In an instant he was up and headed towards the sink, filling up a small glass with water and grabbing a couple of aspirin capsules on his way back. "Here," he said, holding them out. "These should take care of the headache at least."

He was rewarded with a smile and hushed thank you before the other swallowed the tablets. For a few minutes it was quiet between them, both seemingly lost in thoughts at this new revelation, until finally, Merrick found himself being overtaken by curiosity. "How do you know all of this?" he asked, making sure to accompany his question with a look telling Helios not to try and worm his way out of answering. "I mean, most people would say this is insane."

For a moment, the silence returned as Helios seemed to be trying to gather his thoughts, almost afraid of even cracking the wall that he had built up around himself over the years. Finally, with a small sigh, he looked up at Merrick, allowing his eyes to do part of the talking for him. "This dream…the one I just had, that you saw me having, isn't the first I have had like it. I don't really remember when it started…since it has been happening since I was a child. You see…sometimes, I have these dreams…or nightmares, and they come true."

At this revelation Merrick's eyes widened, unbelieving of what he had just heard. Sure he had heard of psychics and such, but he also knew most of them were imposters. Take Madame Cleo for example, and look at what happened to her career. Yet sitting in front of him, was someone telling him that they had dreams that told the future. It was bizarre. "Your dreams tell the future?" he blurted out.

A sigh and nod were his answer. "But it is not only that either. Sometimes they can be messages, such as the one I just had. It can be a simple hello from a spirit, or it may also be a warning."

"So…basically, you could actually change the future," Merrick concluded, though he hadn't necessarily meant to say it out loud.

"I suppose that is one way of putting it," Helios said, somewhat thoughtful. "It is nothing like what you might see in the television or movies though. Those people are, how do you say it…invisible, no…invincible. Alas, there was no super human strength or special powers to go along with me dreams. There are times every now and then when I have been able to do something to help someone, but those chances do not always come up. It is…a dangerous business to get into."

Merrick's head was reeling, thoughts rushing in and out like a hurricane. The only word that stood out to him was "INSANE" In the next few hours that they spent talking he learned more than he probably had in years spent in class. True, none of it really made much sense, and up until this morning Merrick had been fully prepared to just ignore the little odd tidbit about his empathic abilities and move on, but now it seemed that he was not really a freak. Or at least, he wasn't the only one.

Suddenly, mostly by habit, he glanced over at the clock and was immediately glad he had. The blonde jumped up and began rushing around the room at an incredible speed, gathering items from around the room and shoving them into a duffle bag before he grabbed some clothes and slammed the bathroom door behind him.

When he emerged once more he paused, noticing the clueless expression Helios had and laughed slightly, shaking his head. "Sorry," he said, grabbing up his bag and slinging it over his shoulder as he headed towards the door. "I've got soccer practice and I should've left about 15 minutes ago. I'll be back in a few hours, and try to get some sleep, you'll feel better! See you later!" And with that, he was gone.

A few streets up from Merrick and Helios were dorming, a young woman going by the name of Shannon O'Connell made her way cheerfully down 5th avenue. Her pale green eyes were bright and a smile stretched across her cheeks as she sighed softly to herself. Just a few days ago she had been a nervous wreck, her friends having set her up on a blind date. Yet the evening had gone splendidly and the two had agreed to continue seeing each other, and see where things would go.

A slight breeze picked up, blowing her messy blonde curls into her eyes as she finally reached her dorm. It was for this reason that she did not notice the figure that was standing close by, slightly hidden partially by the shadows of a nearby ally, but still in sight to any who cared to look. But without a care in the world, the young woman walked inside and went straight up the old staircase that led to her room.

"Hello?" she called out, entering the room leaving the door slightly ajar. She scanned the room before slowly walking inside, searching for a roommate that was supposed to be home. "Strange…she said she'd be here when I got back. I wonder where she went."

Not too concerned, however, she shrugged it off and proceeded to shrug off her coat and hang it up in the closet. Yet when she closed the door she jumped, her eyes widening slightly at the sight of someone standing in the doorway. At seeing who it was though, she relaxed instantly and smiled, laughing slightly. "You scared me," she said, watching as the figure closed the door and gave her a smile. "We weren't meeting until later I thought…did I get it wrong?"

The only answer she received was silence. Shannon thought this was a bit odd, but couldn't help but smile as she was met with a strong embrace instead. Little did she know that this was to be her last. As she opened her lips to ask him if she had gotten the time wrong, the only sound that came out was an ear piercing scream. The last thing she saw as her life left her body was a shadow of a betrayer, who seemed to be smiling down at her as she faded away into darkness.

Back in the dorm room, Helios found himself still in bed, lazing around as he waited for the nausea and headache to leave him. He could not remember the last time he had actually suffered from a hangover and realized that it was something he did not want to feel again. Though he had to admit on some level that his outing with Merrick had been enjoyable, ignoring the trashy girl that had decided for some time that his shoulder was a resting place.

'These past two days have been a bit crazy haven't they?' he thought, groaning softly as he stretched his arms up in the air. 'I never thought I would actually go out to some kind of social event while I was in school, much less have someone I could call a friend. I'm glad though, it makes things a lot less tense in the room at least, even if Merrick is a bit…out there sometimes. He seems to fit in well with the party goers here. I guess that is where he is a lot of the times on weekends when I am by myself most of the night. I don't see how he does it though. I imagine it would be very tiring to do stuff like that all the time.'

'Speaking of Merrick…I still can't believe what happened this morning. The chances are so slim…yet fate decided that it was meant to be I guess. An empath…who would have thought? It's strange…but it's a good thing after all right? It gives us something that we have in common after all. And I mean he must trust me to some extent right? Or else he would not have told me the way he did…at least I think so. I certainly would not go around telling people something like that if I did not trust them.'

His thoughts continued to go over what I had happened until a phone started to ring. It took him a moment to realize that the ring belonged to his cell phone, something his aunt had insisted he get before starting school. He quickly sat up and turned slightly, reaching back onto his desk and grabbing the phone before the ringing stopped. "Hello?"

"Well if it isn't my favorite nephew," a cheerful voice said, causing Helios to smile.

"I'm your only nephew," he quipped, shaking his head lightly, but also keeping his smile.

"That is entirely besides the point. You sound rather groggy. I didn't wake you did? It's well past noon so I assumed you would be awake. Was I mistaken?"

"No no, I'm awake. I just had a…late evening last night," he replied, his thoughts vaguely turning to the party.

Helios was surprised when this seemed to please her. "Oh…I don't believe it! You actually went out somewhere Helios? What happened, where did you go?"

"It was not really my choice…My roommate, Merrick basically forced me to go along with him to some party. He said I never left the room and that I needed to have some fun."

"Hmm…I'll have to make sure to thank him when I finally meet him."

"Hey!"

"Well honey…he is right of course. From what you've told me, most of the time you are either in class or studying. College is supposed to also be a time for fun and exploration. Once you're down, the real world is going to rear its ugly head and there won't be time for much of anything."

"You have time for fun things," he accused. "You've traveled around the world, twice!"

Katrina laughed lightly. "Yes, well, that's because I've saved up so much vacation time for my years of hard work. It's taken a lot for me to get where I am. Anyway, enough about me. Tell me about your evening."

"It was…interesting. A few stories below us one of his classmate's was having a party. I am not sure how to really explain it…the experience was entirely new to me."

"Hm…was there any alcohol at this party?"

Helios felt himself blush lightly, knowing that even over the phone there was no way he'd be able to lie to his aunt. Ever since he was a child she seemed to have had a built in lie detector. "Yes…There was some."

"How bad did you get?" she asked bluntly, mischief evident in her tone.

"How did you-? Oh never mind. Not much at first. I assumed that I would be fine. Of course Merrick decided to volunteer us for some drinking game. After that it was a done deal…I was gone after a few games. I think Merrick basically carried me back to our room."

He was met with laughter, and he was sure he could see his aunt shaking her head back at her apartment. "I bet he got a laugh out of it," she replied.

"Yes, well…there is something else also," Helios said, becoming slightly serious. "My nightmares are starting again…"

"Has anything happened yet," Katrina asked, instantly changing into her more professional mode.

Helios shook his head, despite knowing that there was no way she could see him. "No…not yet. I think it may have been a warning, but of what I am not sure. The way it started though…it's about that night, a few years ago. The same room, the set up…everything is the same."

He heard the light gasp his aunt had let out, sighing softly himself. "Do you think it's come back?"

"No. It wouldn't bother. But there is something else…I just do not know what yet. That's not all though…there's something a bit stranger than that."

"What could be stranger?"

"It's Merrick Auntie…he's an empath."

Silence reigned for a moment. "…What?"

"I know…it does not make much sense does it? But it's true…I witnessed it first hand. From what he has said it is a relatively new development…starting about a year ago."

"Well that is interesting."

"He has no control over it though…at least not yet. It came out this morning after I woke up from one of my dreams. He was able to read me. I am going to try and help him though…his lack of control has allowed it to affect him physically if it gets to be too much."

"I'm sure he'll appreciate it," his aunt agreed. "It seems you two have been starting to get along."

"Yeah…I suppose we have," Helios replied, a blush creeping across his cheeks. Suddenly he heard the door being jostled and assumed Merrick was back from practice. "That should be him. I'll talk to you again soon alright?"
"Alright. Don't be a stranger Helios. And you know, if you like him so much you should do something about it."

He cursed lightly, temporarily forgetting about his aunt's own abilities. "Stop that. Goodbye Auntie." Before he hung up he heard one last round of laughter before his aunt said goodbye and hung up on her end.

When he looked over at Merrick who had made his way over to his bed and was letting his duffle bag fall to the floor, he couldn't help but smile lightly. His blonde hair was wind blown, strands of it falling in his eyes while others stood out as if attracted to an electric force. "How was practice?"

He watched Merrick smile. "It went well, after being chewed out by the coach for being late. I made it there almost right on time though, I was off by like 5 minutes. I didn't think it'd be that big of a deal, but what are you gonna do?"

Helios nodded in understanding. "Yeah…at least everything after that went well though."

"Quite true," Merrick responded, getting up and grabbing a towel from his drawer. "I'm gonna jump in the shower," he informed, leaving Helios alone once more.

By the time Merrick came back out from the bathroom it had been almost an hour. Helios had spent most of the time with his nose in a book, trying to find something that would help Merrick with his empathic abilities. When he glanced up he was surprised to see Merrick fully made up to his normal glamorous state. His blonde locks fell perfectly, gelled just slightly as usual and his outfit was no different. He was dressed in a pair of dark blue jeans and a wife beater covered by a dark blue button down shirt.

Yet as he continued to think about it, laughter escape his lips, earning him a strange look. "You take so long to get ready…it reminds me of when cousin used to visit back when I lived in Greece. She would take forever."

Continuing to laugh, Helios watched Merrick continue to look at him strangely until a small smirk appeared on his face. "Did you…just make fun of me?"

Unable to help himself, Helios nodded and slowly began to stifle his laughter. "Sorry," he mumbled, though his voice was light.

"Well I don't believe it," Merrick said raising his brow before taking a seat at his desk. "I never thought I'd see that day that Helios Balazs made a joke."

Helios smiled. "Despite popular belief, I do happen to have a sense of humor."

As Merrick smiled, Helios felt himself starting to blush and quickly shook his head, hoping that the other would not take notice. 'Don't you start,' he scolded himself. "So…why do you take so long?"
Before he got a response he felt something collide with the back of his head. "Hey!"

"My hand slipped," was the answer. But when Helios looked back he could see the glint of satisfaction in Merrick's eyes. "Besides, not everyone is born looking as good as I am. All I have to do is make sure I'm nice and clean, and then take care of a few minor alterations. You know there are people who actually spend hours upon hours trying to make themselves look this good?"

This brought back Helios' laughter as he shook his head, unable to stop the ongoing joke between them. "Hmm…I don't know. I think perhaps you might need some more time," he replied flippantly, and with that turned on the television and began flipping through the channels.

When he glanced over at Merrick he saw the other wearing a shocked expression, disbelief written all over it. "I can't believe you just said that!" he exclaimed, feigning hurt.

"Well…it serves you right for being arrogant," Helios replied, turning back the stations, hiding a small smile. He continued searching for something on television until he paused, noticing a story on the news. Quickly turning up the volume, he listened intently to the petite woman on screen delivering the news. He immediately recognized the building in the background, and realized this was happening next door.

"Tragic news hits New York University today as police are investigating the mysterious death of one of its students. The twenty year was find brutally murdered in her 5th avenue dorm room just hours ago by her roommate, for now all names remaining anonymous. Police say there are no suspects at the current time but have revealed that the murdered has left behind a strange message. The Greek symbol a being left behind, carved into the young girl. Stay tuned in as we wait for more on this tragic event."

Aside from the television, silence filled the room. When Helios gave a quick glance across the room he realized Merrick seemed to be in the same state of shock he was. After a moment, he frowned, taking a deep breathe and remembering back to the dream he had had earlier, the words "It's coming" flashing before his eyes as a feeling of dread began to settle in.