2: First Flight
Jack awoke to a masculine voice humming softly near him. It took a moment or two for him to fully wake up and register its owner: Alfonse.
"You're quite a heavy sleeper, Jack," the blond man grinned, an English accent creeping into the words. Jack blinked stupidly a few times before screeching and falling out of his bed.
"What are you doing here?!" he demanded, his cheeks growing hot. "How'd you get in?!"
"Your window was unlocked," Alfonse replied bluntly, pointing to the glass object that was slightly ajar and creaking back and forth a bit in a cool morning breeze that made the floor-length orchid-colored curtains flutter gently. "You know, you really ought to be more cautious, Jack. You live in the city; terrible things could happen to you if you are not careful."
"What do you care if something happens to me?" Jack asked, lowering his voice so as not to bother his family.
"I care very much," Alfonse replied, crawling out of Jack's bed and leaning over him uncomfortably. "I would be devastated if something happened to you."
Jack wanted to scoot away, remove himself from such a close proximity with the intoxicating creature before him; and yet he could not bring himself to move a muscle voluntarily. He was sure that if it was possible, he would stop breathing and his heart would stop beating. Staring into those pale grey eyes made his pulse speed up for reasons unknown. He sat there watching, waiting for Alfonse to do something, anything. It was only when he felt hot breath against his lips that he noticed that Alfonse in fact was doing something. Sharp rapping at the closed door made the blond leap backwards swiftly.
"Jack! Mom says to get up and get ready for school!" Caldonia's nasally voice called through the painted wood. He cringed and got up, dumping his tangled sheets on his king-sized bed. "Are you listening to me?!"
"God, yes!" he barked, raking a hand through his mussy hair. "Shut up and leave me alone you pompous windbag!" the sound of high heels clacking on the hardwood floor of the hallway quickly faded. He groaned and plunked his head down on his mattress, and proceeded to repeat the process five more times, all the while screaming incoherent nothings into the fabric, the noise level fluctuating each time he bashed his head into the surface.
"You do not like your sister," the deep voice stated.
"That's a bit of an understatement," Jack replied, though Alfonse had not posed a question. He rolled his eyes and shuffled to his walk-in closet. He paused and hesitantly opened the doors; a pile of clothing spilled out and flooded the area around his feet. He stepped over it and fished out his uniform, which had somehow been shoved way in the back and underneath everything. Odd, as he had only worn it the other day and simply tossed it upon the growing pile of clothes that would need to be washed sooner or later. He shrugged it off and began taking off his pajama shirt. His eyes flicked to Alfonse, who stood near the window casually.
"Yes?" the blond grinned.
"Do you mind?" the teen hissed, blowing a stray strand of red hair out of his face.
"Not at all," Alfonse replied. Jack decided to quit while he was ahead and rolled his eyes. He fully removed his shirt and checked the bandages over his new tattoo. Whoo, his 'rents would flip their wigs if they saw that. Maybe he should just strut about downstairs shirtless for a few minutes while he nabbed a few slices of toast for breakfast. After ensuring that the bandage was alright where it was, he grabbed an Atreyu shirt and began pulling it over his head. Cold fingertips brushing against his back made him jump.
"What are you doing?" Jack asked, poison dripping from his voice like it would from a rattlesnake's teeth.
"Looking," Alfonse muttered absently, gently peeling off the bandage despite Jack's protests. The black ink stood out sharply against the teen's pale skin, but it suited him. If he didn't know better, Alfonse would have said that Jack was born to wear the Emblem. Alas, Lovers were chosen, not born. Still, he thought that he had made a rather good choice.
The lad knew about dragons, which would come in very handy. Alfonse smiled to himself. Up until a few months ago, he had never left England for any reason. Sure, he took the occasional excursion to the coastline where he could sometimes see the coasts of other land masses with his sharp vision, but he had never set foot on foreign soil until just recently. He had been perfectly content living in the same place for well over seven hundred years. He himself was verging on seven hundred and ninety years of age, ancient by human standards, but in his prime, more or less, by dragon standards. He was strong and swift and everything a dragon should be, especially one of his caliber. One thing he lacked, however, was the courage to face other dragons. He had lived far out in the English countryside; as far east as one could get without bumping into Ireland and his good friend Nessie, commonly called the Loch Ness Monster. Her real name was Vanessa (she didn't much mind the nickname 'Nessie' as it what her mother had called her) and she was a rather cheerful dragon, though terribly irritated when people came near the loch she guarded because her treasure was located at the very bottom of the deepest part. On occasion, she would leave the loch, and bring her treasure with her for safety, and tour around the coast, stopping for a period of time to chat with Alfonse.
Treasure, however, was a much larger problem for Alfonse. Nessie simply had a large chest, with an eternally sealed lock she didn't care to open though she most certainly could if she wanted to, that could be carried protectively in one's claw or mouth (assuming one knew better than to swallow and choke on it). Alfonse's treasure was more… mobile than Nessie's, and that accounted for trouble. His treasure was one of the rarest creatures on earth: a Bitxi, or in plain English, a living jewel. Her name was Phailin, which appropriately meant sapphire. She was in every respect a prefect personification of a sapphire, except that she got restless far too easily. He could not count the number of times he had had to go searching for her, lest some other dragon take her for their treasure. As luck would have it that was the exact case that brought him to America, to this foreign land of boisterous people with no regard for one another. But Jack was different…
"Okay, you have to get out," the young man's voice cut through Alfonse's aimless thinking. The dragon blinked and looked at him.
"If my parent's find you here they'll probably skin you alive and have the cook roast you rotisserie style," the kid explained, grabbing Alfonse by the collar of his jacket and pushing him towards he window. "I'm not allowed to have people over without their consent, which doesn't make any sense since they're hardly ever home, but the cook and butler will totally snitch on me if they catch you here."
"I'm afraid I can't simply leave," Alfonse said with a hint of true sadness. "We're bound together by the Emblem, and you belong to me."
"That's just a load of hoopla. I don't care how you got here or where you're from, but you gotta leave me alone," Jack sighed angrily. Alfonse turned to look at him; he wanted to see Jack's expression. Much to his surprise, he looked really attractive in his school uniform. The dark color scheme suited him perfectly: the black and red combination was so overused for some things, but on this kid it looked good. Jack turned around and began cramming assorted notebooks and papers into his tattered black and white checked Jansport backpack. He grabbed a small rectangular device off his bedside table and flipped it open. Oh, it was a cell phone. A rather dingy Razr, once black but now grey and scratched with age, but well used and cherished by the young man's loving expression as he gazed at the screen. It was then that Alfonse had an idea.
Jack felt a whoosh of chilly wind and assumed that the now slightly creepy but still attractive Alfonse Porter had left. His phone felt slightly heavier than it had a moment earlier, but he paid it no heed. He shoved into his blazer pocket and loped out the door to the bathroom, only to find it locked. He should probably grab something to eat while Caldonia spent half the day applying and re-applying her snazzy seventy dollar eyeliner. He dropped his backpack at the foot of the staircase and wandered into the kitchen. He nodded hello the cook and set about making toast, the simplest and quickest breakfast he could think of since he had eaten the last of his hot fudge sundae Pop-Tarts. The cook paid him no heed; he was used to Jack making his own breakfast, at the least.
"Kay, dorko, john's all yours," Caldonia said snootily as she flounced into the room. Jack rolled his eyes and shuffled to the bathroom.
"Oh, out before noon," he drawled, plugging in the flat iron and tossing her curling iron into the top drawer. "Aren't we speedy today?" he brushed his teeth while the iron heated up, glaring at his reflection.
"That'll damage your hair," a voice warned. Jack whirled around, expecting to find Alfonse somewhere nearby. The blond creep was nowhere to be found. Jack sighed with relief and picked up the iron, clicking it a few times before placing a lock of hair between the prongs. Once his hair had been humanized, he all but bounded downstairs, grabbed his bag and his toast, which the cook had already buttered for him.
"bye Marty!" he called as he left the house. The cook waved in response.
"What's the rush Jack? It's not like you actually do anything in school," Caldonia sneered as she and Jack jogged down the street.
"Are you sure you should be running, Cal? What if one of your fake boobies bounce outta your mouth?" Jack asked with mock concern. Caldonia sneered and sped up her jog, hopping into the red convertible of her current boyfriend, a pig-headed baseball star who's IQ averaged 3, if he was lucky. He sped up as well and quickly outpaced her, hoping to avoid Captain Stupid's possible outrage at the dis Jack delivered to his oh-so-wonderful sister. After he was sure he was out of range, he slowed to a casual lope, stuffing his hands in his pockets and gazing at the streetcars zooming by. School didn't start until eight-thirty more or less; it was only eight fifteen now. He had plenty of time to goof off and do nothing in particular.
He turned his head in one direction, hoping to see what he presumed made a low snarling sound. He found only another empty alley. He shook his head and hiked up his pants, his fingers lingering on his new tattoo which tingled curiously. For some reason or another, he thought that if he looked at it, he would see small golden sparks dancing across the ink. He shook his head and heard the growling again, louder this time. When he glanced around, he saw only a motorcycle gang driving past him. Well, that explained that.
"Jack…" Alfonse's voice said sharply as a dark shadow loomed over the boy though it was an almost absurdly sunny day. The teen looked up and saw a massive dragon with wickedly sharp teeth and drool dripping from them, blood red eyes that looked like they were burning and a thick coat of scales the color of the darkest parts of the deepest ocean trenches. The same snarl ripped through the morning hubbub, the black beast spitting fire and chunks of brimstone in the process. "RUN!" Adrenaline kicked in and Jack ran as fast as he possibly could.
He could hear the beast lumbering behind him, spewing its molten rocks as it chased him like a fox chased a rabbit. Why didn't anyone else do anything? Why were they just going about their daily routine when a massive monster was turning San Francisco into Tokyo? Didn't they see it? It was kinda hard to miss. Then it hit him: they couldn't see it. But if that was the case… why could he see it?
"The Emblem has opened your eyes to the world of mythology," Alfonse explained, materializing beside him and easily keeping Jack's frantic pace. "That's why you can see the gargoyle. You'll also be able to see mermaids, fairies, and anything else you've read about in storybooks."
"They exist?!" he panted, slipping as he rounded a corner to avoid the persistent beast. "You're nuts!"
"So I've been told," Alfonse grinned.
"Get away from me, psycho!" Jack cried, partially to Alfonse and partially to the beast chasing him. His feet got tangled and he tripped, somersaulting down the hill and crashing into a pile of half-soggy cardboard boxes at the bottom. He saw the black monster loom over him, japes open wide to eat him, probably whole judging by the sheer size of the mouth. More drool dripped from the creature's teeth, burning his skin through his clothes. In a vain attempt to protect himself, he lifted his arms to shield his face. He found himself waiting a very long time to be impaled by those sharp teeth and when he dared look in front of him, he wished he hadn't.
"Honestly, you're more trouble than I thought…" Alfonse grumbled, tightening his grip on Jack, who was cradled in his arms like the love struck young heroine of some cheesy comic book would be caressed by the dashing prince who saved her life. Oh, he read too many comic books… "Don't look down," Alfonse sang. Naturally, Jack looked.
"Holy potatoes!!!" he screeched, wrapping his arms around Alfonse's neck. Far below them was San Francisco Bay, dotted with small ships here and there. A warm breeze ruffled his hair. His fingertips felt the vibrations in Alfonse's neck as he laughed. "Oh my god!"
"Pretty sweet view, eh?" Alfonse grinned. "Can you climb on my back? My arms are starting to get tired." Jack obliged, a bit awkwardly. Beneath him he felt Alfonse change shape from a well-toned man in his early twenties to an ancient beast the size of a ship with glimmering scales as gold as the sunlight reflecting off a mirror.
"Won't someone see us?" he asked over the whoosh of the wind.
"They don't have the sight like you and I," Alfonse answered. "They won't notice anything, and moreover the gargoyle won't follow us, we're up too high."
"Where are we going?" Jack inquired, buttoning his jacket so it didn't flap annoyingly in the wind.
"The gargoyle won't leave the area until it loses track of your scent. It'll take several hours for it to fade enough so the thing will return to where ever it came from. We'll be spending the day at Alcatraz," the dragon replied, circling the island housing the abandoned prison three times before landing. Jack slid off his back and landed on the ground, salty wind messing up his carefully coiffed hair.
"How did you find me?" he asked.
"I shrunk into a smaller form and attached myself to your Razr," Alfonse answered patiently, curling up on the ground comfortably. Jack would have many questions, as one would expect. He would take his time and answer them as best as he could. "I couldn't let you go of by yourself. You're mine, in some respect, and it's my duty to keep an eye on you."
"Alright. Let's get one thing straight," Jack said firmly, turning around to face the golden reptile. "I am not your freaking Lover or anything. We have no relation beyond older guy stalking a teenager."
"So you think I'm a pedophile," Alfonse stated. "Makes sense. After all, I am well over a hundred years old."
"How well?" Jack questioned out of curiosity.
"I am exactly seven-hundred and ninety-four years, three months, two weeks and a day old and I was born on the fifth day of the tenth month, October fifth by your standards," he grinned, showing large teeth as sharp as the gargoyle's. "I can go down to hours and even seconds, if that isn't accurate enough for you."
"How long can you stay in your human form?" he pressed. "I mean, before you have to switch back into… that."
"I can maintain this form constantly for about a week. If I intersperse it with this form periodically for equal amounts of time…" he paused to calculate, "… three weeks. My true form I can stay in for as long as I please. I can change back into my human form after five or six minutes."
"Wait, wait, wait, wait… I'm getting off subject here," Jack shook his hands. "Why did you choose me?" he asked in a soft voice. He watched, eyes wide, as Alfonse changed shape again, into his abnormally beautiful human facet. He towered over Jack, making him feel small and insignificant and all the more embarrassed. To think that he of all people would be claimed as a belonging to… that. On some level, it really annoyed him. But on another level, a slightly higher one, he was thoroughly pleased, maybe even giddy like some stupid third grade girl when her crush said 'hi' to her. …why was he comparing himself to females so much recently?
"I chose you because you have something I need, outside the basic animal instinct to satisfy my body's cravings," he chuckled gently. "You have a knowing of my kind far surpassing any other human I've met in my seven hundred plus years. You have this great potential, Jack. I'm not sure what it is yet, but I know it's there…"
He reached out slowly, giving the teen plenty of time to stop him if that was what he so desired. When the black haired youth did nothing, he gently caressed his cheek, turning his face towards his own.
"And I know you can help me," he finished.
As Jack listened to Alfonse's monologue, he realized that there was no backing out of whatever he had gotten into. Whether it had been intentional or accidental, he might never know. Looking at the man in front of him, it was hard to believe he was real, and that that wasn't even his real form. His long blond hair draped over one shoulder, like it always had since he first met him only yesterday, drifting against his face in the gentle breeze that had been blowing ever since they landed and glinting in the sunlight. His pale grey eyes seemed like rings of silver and pools of mercury at the same time. He faintly heard the dull babble of passing tour groups full of families from Kansas and kids on a field trip and people with nothing better to do.
It wasn't until breathing became increasingly difficult that he realized Alfonse was kissing him. His tattoo tingled in the most delicious way.
A/N: another chapter completed. Sorry it took so long. It's somehow easier to write my fanfictions that this right now. I promise I'll try to work on it more often. Please review so I can know how I'm doing, and check out both my site and my personal website.
Until chapter 3…