Episode 23: Lightning

"Hey, can you pass me that?"

Jayden passes me the glass of water from his table without a word. I thank him and finish the rest of the water in the glass.

After a few moments of silence between us, where I'm reading his book and absentmindedly folding the square paper in my hands into a frog, and he's on his laptop, he suddenly says, "Will things go back to normal when school starts again?"

Surprised, I look up at him. "Normal?"

"You know," he says, gesturing between us. "Are we going to not talk anymore?"

My stomach drops slightly. Is he hinting at something? Tapping the side of my laptop anxiously, I say, "Is that what you want?"

"No!" his resounding answer immediately lifts my stomach back into place. "Definitely not. I just thought, well, maybe you might have wanted to."

"Idiot, I thought we agreed that we were friends," I say with an involuntary smile.

"Good." He raises his hand to the back of his neck. "Do you want to, maybe, go to school together tomorrow?"

"Sure, I guess. But I'm meeting Parker at his house first, you okay with that?" Parker can meet him earlier in that case, instead of having to come over just for an 'inspection'.

He shrugs. "Why not?"

I feel a grin twist my lips. "Okay, then. Don't forget to wait for me. You always leave the house so early."

"I'll be sure to bang on the toilet door until you get out," he says, smiling as well.

"You try that and it's your turn to make dinner tomorrow."

He snickers and leans back in his chair. "I don't mind; I found this apparently really easy stir-fry recipe. I was planning on trying it anyway."

"You said it." I waggle my finger at him. "I'm looking forward to it."

"Yeah. What's that?" Jayden says, pointing to the paper frog in my hand.

"I've kinda been into origami lately," I say, holding it up. "It's a waste of paper, though."

He raises his eyebrows. "For sure, if you're just going to fold it and throw it away."

"Well, I don't really know what else to do with it. Maybe I could put it in the recycling bin."

He reaches over and takes it from my fingers. "It's cute. I can keep it, if you don't want it. If you make anymore, you could give them to me."

I prop myself up and look at him with interest. "Really? What would you do with them?"

"I'm not sure yet. But I have the boxes to keep them in," he says, opening a desk drawer and tossing it in.

I yawn and grab another piece of paper.


"Hey, Nico," Parker says as he reaches us.

"Hey Park," I say, but he's already turned to Jayden.

Parker stares tersely at Jayden, who looks a little unnerved.

To my surprise last night, Parker was pretty okay with Jayden coming along today. Apparently, according to him, that was 'interesting'.

I brace myself to say something, if only to break the extremely solid block of ice.

"… Hi," Jayden says right as I open my mouth, attempting a short wave.

"Hi," Parker replies.

Well, that went well.

Without another word, we set off for school. The atmosphere hasn't felt this awkward since I accidentally chopped off a chunk of Parker's hair when he made me help him cut his hair two years ago. That particular walk to school was just something I never want to relive again.

We reach school in the stifled silence a lot quicker than usual, much to my relief, probably because we were striding at a really fast pace.

"My locker's here." Jayden gestures to a locker door as we pass by a set of them. "Where's yours?"

"Over there," I point to the other end of the hall. "I'll … see you at home?"

"Maybe … after classes?" He gives me a tentative smile.

I glance at Parker, who has an eyebrow cocked at him. He shrugs at me. "Lewis was thinking of going to catch a movie together with everyone, since it's been a while."

Nobody says anything. Great.

Visibly uncomfortable, Jayden shifts slightly in his standing position. "It's fine. I'll see you at home, probably."

To his credit, Parker doesn't look particularly smug or pleased as Jayden turns to his locker. He merely continues walking. Hesitantly, I hang back and tap Jayden on the arm.

He turns back to me with a startled expression. "Yeah?"

"I'll be back for dinner," I say firmly.

The smile that I've seen on a daily basis for the past couple of months appears on his face as he nods. "Okay."

"See you." I raise my hand for a quick wave at him, before rushing to catch up with Parker.

"Did he get kidnapped by aliens or something?" he says, as we reach our lockers.

I sigh. "I don't think so. I'm thinking more like the aliens have finally returned him."

The strange stare he gives me isn't making me feel any better about what just happened. "Well, you are coming with us after school, right?"

I roll my eyes. "Yeah, of course."


I ignore the pulling sensation in the pit of my stomach.

Since I'm earlier than usual, I have my pick of the seats when I get to my new homeroom. Settling down at one of the desks closest to the door, I promptly lay my bag on the table and lie my head on it. Groggily, I wake up in the middle of a dream where Seth is grabbing my arm and telling me what an idiot I am. Dammit. There's a cramp in my neck, but all I want to do is continue the dream—he was just about to tell me something else. Reluctantly, I knead the back of my neck to sooth the ache and grab my phone to check the time. The classroom is already half-filled with students.

I can't help but smile; an email from Jayden just came in. An email. We've been spending so much time over the summer break we didn't even get each other's number.

Hey, what's your number?

What a mind-reader. I type it in and send it off.

"Oh, hey, Nico!" a familiar voice says, and I look up from my phone to see James grinning at me. "I guess we're in the same homeroom again this year!"

"Hey, yeah," I say, returning his smile.

"Is anyone sitting here?" he says, tapping his hand on the table in front of mine.


"Cool." He instantly sits at it and dumps his bag on the table to his immediate right. "Saving that for Nicole."

"What about Joel?" I say, not sure what kind of small talk to make in response to his explanation.

"Oh, yeah, he's with Seth this year," he says. I crush the sour feeling arising in my gut. "So, how have you been?"

"Good," I say, "thanks for asking. How about you?"

"I'm good too. Hey, Nic, over here!" James turns away upon spotting someone and raises his arm to wave at the door.

Nicole, who has evidently just entered the classroom, beams and strides towards us.

"Hey!" she says, playfully hitting James on the shoulder with the textbook she's holding. "I missed you!"

"I missed you too," he says, grinning up at her. "Are you still jetlagged? That seat's for you, by the way."

"Thanks," she says, tossing his bag over to him and putting her own on the chair. "A little. I could use a bed right now."

Then her gaze lands on me, and her eyes widen in surprise. "Oh, Nico!"

"Hi, Nicole." I wave at her politely.

"I haven't seen you in a while," she says, returning my wave. "How have you been? Did you go anywhere?"

"I'm alright. Nah, I didn't. You?"

"Me too. Well, I'm a little tired since I just got back from a family vacation to Japan," she says, unzipping her backpack. "James, these were the ones I was talking about."

Pulling out two caps of the same design, differing only in color—one is red and the other gray, she stares expectantly at James.

He sighs and rolls his eyes. "They look the same as they did in the pictures. I told you, I don't think it really matters; they have the exact same design."

"Oh, come on, help me out!" she says. "At least tell me which one you think Seth will like better."

"He doesn't like grey," I say, propping my elbow on the table and resting my cheek against my palm. "The red one might be the better choice."

Both of them turn to look at me in surprise.

"Seriously? He doesn't like gray? That's for you, then," she says, stuffing the gray cap onto James' head.

He snorts. "How kind of you. Thanks."

Hm, interesting. Despite the sarcastic tone in his voice, James looks like he might genuinely be pissed off as he whips the cap off his head.

"What's the occasion?" I ask, turning my attention back to the red cap she's twirling on her finger.

"They're just some souvenirs I've gotten from my family trip to Japan," she says.

"Sounds fun, do I get something too?" I say teasingly, purely as a joke.

To my surprise, Nicole smiles and pulls out a pair of black socks with a cute cartoon dog on them. "Yeah, how could I not get something for my friend's favorite brother?"

What? I wasn't expecting that.

"Wow … thanks!" I say, accepting it from her and trying to stop my eyebrows from furrowing into a frown of confusion.

Favorite brother, huh? There's another pang in my heart. I examine the socks; they're cute, and at least no one would be able to see the dog when I have my sneakers on.

"You're working fast, Nic. Getting to him through his family, huh?" James says, with a smile that doesn't quite reach his eyes.

She hits his arm with the red cap and scowls. "James!"

"Sorry, sorry," he drawls, putting his own cap into his bag.

I'm hit by a wave of jealousy. Not like Seth's interested in her, I try to console myself. He's way too into Marissa for that. Another sharp stab of pain. Great, shot myself in the foot again. Besides, he'd be interested in Nicole long before he'll like me like that. He's not sick like me.

"You okay, Nico?" James and Nicole peer at my face. "You don't look so good. Are you sick?"

In more ways than one. I manage a firm smile at them. "No, I'm fine. Thanks."


Abruptly, Parker holds his arm out and says, "Quick, Nico, pinch me."

I stare at him in puzzlement. "What?"

School ended about fifteen minutes ago, and we're standing near the school gates waiting to meet Ashley and the others.


"Well, since you begged." I grab a part of the skin on his forearm and twist hard.

His face contorts and he jerks his arm back. "Dammit."

"What the hell are you doing?" I step next to him and try to see what he's looking at.

"I don't know. Is that Jayden next to Lewis?" Parker raises a finger.

"What?" I squint, but there's a fairly large crowd where he's pointing at, and it's a fair distance from here. "I can't see from here."

"Neither can I," he says.

Trying not to get my hopes up, I turn away and suppress another upcoming yawn.

Parker says in a strained voice, "Guess I don't need contacts after all."

"Huh?" I glance over again, but this time it's my turn to be stunned.

It is Jayden walking over to us with Ashley, Jaclyn, Simon and Lewis. He's smiling at Ashley, albeit kind of tentatively, as she's saying something to him. Jaclyn kind of looks like a weight has finally been lifted from her chest; she keeps glancing at him. When Ashley glances over and spots me, her face lights up and she starts running towards us. Jaclyn puts out a hand, as if to stop her, but retracts her hand as Ashley is already approaching us.

"Nico!" she says, the excitement leaking into her tone evident as she throws herself at me in a tight hug. "It feels like I'm dreaming!"

The warm feeling in my chest blooms as I hug her back. "That's great, Ash."

She pulls back, face flushed with a giant smile on it, and turns to Parker. "Hey, Parker!"

"What, only Nico gets a hug?" he jokes.

"If you wanted one you should've just said that," she says, sticking her tongue out at him but giving him a hug anyway.

"So what's Jayden doing with you guys?" Parker says.

The playfulness in her expression instantly gives way to the initial excitement she had displayed earlier. "You guys won't believe it. Jayden was apologizing to us, then Lewis yelled at him, then it all became a huge mess and Simon stepped in—"

"Hey," Lewis says as the rest of them finally reach us.

"Hey, Lewis," I say, returning his wave.

"Hey," Parker echoes.

Jayden and I stare at each other. He looks just as unsure as I feel, but I grin at him. I can't believe they're already talking to each other.

After another few seconds of deafening silence, Lewis clears his throat.

"So, uh," he says to me, pushing his hair back. "We heard that you two made up?"

"Yeah, kind of." If you consider building a whole new relationship from nothing 'making up'.

This is amazing. Jayden said he would talk to them, but I didn't expect everything to go so well so fast.

Lewis cracks a small smile at me. "We asked him if he wanted to come with us, but … are you guys okay with it?"

"Wha—" Parker starts to say, looking incredulous.

"Yeah, I'm okay with it," I say. It's more than okay—this is goddamn amazing. And I'm just so… surprised by the fact that Lewis is asking if we're okay with it. Another warm sensation rushes through my chest.

I look pleadingly at Parker—he did agree to give Jayden a chance to see how he's changed now—and after a few seconds, he gives Jayden an unimpressed look and nods. "Yeah, that's cool."

Beaming, I sling an arm over Parker's shoulders and draw him closer to me. "I just knew you were the best, Park."

He snorts. "Yeah, yeah."

Jayden ends up talking only with Simon the entire way to the movie theater, and the atmosphere is nothing like this morning. Ashley tells me about the cactus she ended up getting and placing on her bedroom windowsill, and how it's thriving.

"I'll get the popcorn and drinks," Simon says, jerking a thumb in the direction of the concession stand. "Anyone coming with?"

"Yeah, I'll get it with you," Lewis says. "You guys get the tickets."

He stares hard at Parker, who jerks slightly, as if startled, after a couple of seconds.

"Uh, yeah," Parker says, turning a little red. "I'll come with you guys to help carry the drinks."

What? I raise my eyebrows at him, but he staunchly refuses to look back at me.

"Alright, let's meet by that poster then." Jaclyn points to a nearby poster.

"'kay." They leave.

"Let's go," Jaclyn says, and we start heading for the ticketing booth.

As Ashley keeps pace with her, Jayden hangs back and steps in line with me.

"Hey," he says to me quietly.

"You were able to reconcile with them, after all," I say, unable to stop the smile from curving my lips upwards.

"Yeah, what do you know?" he says, grinning at me.

The expression in his dark blue eyes is so warm, I find myself having to look away. Mustering the force to keep the smile on my face, I say, "That's great."

"It's all thanks to you."

"I didn't do anything," I say, nonetheless feeling pleased. "You were the one who went and talked to them yourself."

Jayden smiles, but says nothing.

After the movie, Ashley, who hadn't eaten a single popcorn kernel the entire movie, claiming a strong craving, hustles us to the donut café I went to with her before. We end up each ordering a donut, but not really eating it as we watch Ashley devour hers and then eye ours. Everyone's having their own individual conversation separate from one another's, so I only catch what Ashley is saying when she ducks under the table and then resurfaces with something in her hand.

"Hey, you dropped your stuff." She passes it to Jayden, who was rummaging in her bag. "Do you still want this?"

"Yeah, thanks," he says, taking it from her and stuffing it in another zipped bag compartment.

"Ah, there's more on the floor," Ashley says, peering down and reaching down again.

"Oh, shit, I guess I forgot they were in my bag," Jayden says, his head disappearing below the table as he talks.

We all lean over the table to see what was dropped. A bunch of origami paper cranes are scattered near Jayden's feet. I would've thought they were the ones I folded and then tossed to him if I didn't know for a fact that I've never folded any paper cranes.

"Paper cranes?" Jaclyn picks one up and examines it inquisitively. "Did you make them yourself?"

"Yeah, it's kind of fun," Jayden says, gathering the rest and throwing them back into his bag.

"So cute—they're tiny," she says, returning it to him.

"Nice," I say. "You're getting into origami too?"

"Only paper cranes," he says, not looking at me as he zips his bag again.


Ashley studies the one in her hand thoughtfully, before glancing briefly at him.


"Shit, it's raining," Jayden says, reaching to his left to close the window.

I glance up from my textbook. "Did it get on you?"

"Yeah." With a frown, he raises his arm to show me the dark splotches on his shirt sleeve. "It got on my notebook too. I was listening to music so I didn't notice."

Even in the darkness of the night, the heaviness of the clouds is apparent—it looks like a storm is impending. Just as I highlight another line in my textbook, a loud crackling thunder snaps into the light rainy air. Involuntarily, I jump a little before sighing. Suddenly, the door bursts open with a loud bang; Seth stalks in, appearing absolutely furious.

"I was right. You are in here," he says, the already present scowl on his face intensifying. "What the fuck are you doing here?"

Jayden starts to say, "Hey—"

"—What does it have to do with you? I'm minding my own damn business," I say, capping my highlighter. "You should do the same."

He doesn't seem affected by my glower as he continues approaching me at the same pace. My heart's beating so fast, it hurts.

"Come with me," Seth says shortly, grabbing me by the arm and yanking me off the bed. "I have to talk to you."

"Fuck off!" I snap, jerking my hand back. "I'm staying right here."


He looks—but he can't be—devastated.

That's the only way I know how to describe his pleading eyes burning with … something. My traitor of a heart leaps to my throat, which promptly approves its residency application.

Jayden stands up and pulls me behind him. "He said he's staying here. And this is my room, if you haven't noticed—"

"—Of course he hasn't, he's fucking blind," I spit the words out with all the force I can muster.

"So get the fuck out. Before I make you." Jayden crosses his arms.

Seth looks impossibly livid—he looks like Jayden just threatened to kill everyone he ever cared about—and the void in my chest expands further and inflicts greater damage around its surroundings. How can he act like he cares so much about me when he just spent the last few months avoiding me like the plague? My innards are searing with an untold ache, the silent screaming vibrating down every single one of my bones. My eyes fight through waves of sharp stinging until my vision has gone completely blurry; I can't even see the expression on his face anymore.

It's hard to fucking breathe.

Why do I have to bear with this while he stands there, perfectly fine?

"I fucking hate—" and love, I love you so much— "you so much," I say, barely managing to push the words out of my unbelievably tight throat. "Leave me alone."

I reach up to wipe the tears from my eyes—and just as the back of my hand touches my eye, Seth darts around Jayden and grabs my wrist again.

"I hate you," he tells Jayden, voice laced with venom. "If you think you can try to steal Nico away from me, I swear I'll make you regret it."

Jayden whirls around with a fist raised, as if about to deck Seth, when his gaze lands on me. The stunned look that appears on his face as his tensed fist slackens and falls to his side sends me a jolt—is the expression on my face really that easy to read right now?

He simply watches wordlessly as Seth pulls me away, towards the door.

I make no move to escape from his grip this time. The last sentence he said is still ringing in my ears.

What does he mean by that? From him?

His hand is so warm. I forgot how much I missed this warmth. The melancholy rankling in my bones quickly give way to anger when he lets go of me as we reach the living room.

"Why are you—why are you crying—" he says, voice cracking as his eyes widen; with shock, I realize his eyes are red-rimmed.

He reaches for my face, but drops his hand the second his thumb touches my cheek as if it just burned him. As if he had just been about to wipe my tears away. As if it had been an involuntary action he realized at just the last moment.

I give up.

I raise my hands to cover my face, pressing my fingers onto my eyes and willing myself not to cry. What the fuck is wrong with me. I'm sick of feeling like this. I just want all of it to go away.

"What do you want from me?" My own voice sounds like a weak croak; a dying frog making its last sounds. "Why can't you leave me alone?"

So what if Seth sees me breaking down? I can't bring myself to care anymore. I'm so tired of caring so much.

"I—I can't … Don't—don't cry—" I feel his presence closer to me, but in the next instance it's further away again. "I'm sorry—"

"Don't be so goddamn full of yourself," I snap. "Who says it's because of you?"

Liar. I'm such a liar. Who the fuck else could I possibly be crying for?

"I—" he tries again, but I cut him off quickly.

"I'm sick of seeing your face. Leave me alone." I can't bear looking at his face anymore. Everything just hurts too much.

Distraught turns to fury as he gestures wildly in the direction of the stairs. "Because of Jayden? I'm tired of him stealing everyone from me! He stole all my girlfriends away from me, and now he's trying to steal you!"

"Ex-fucking-cuse me!"

The adrenaline from my anger courses through my body so quickly I hardly realize what I'm doing before I've already done it—I've grabbed him by the neck of his shirt and pulled his face towards me. I know he has more body strength than I do, and can push me away at any point, but he's not even trying to back away. He only looks confused—and angry.

"Steal me? I can't be stolen, who the fuck do you think I am?" I whisper harshly in his face. "One of your moronic exes who couldn't even keep their pants on when someone other than their boyfriend hits on them?"

I know none of my words even make sense within this context—what the fuck do his exes have anything to do with this situation, I don't know, but it feels like I'm losing control over my mouth. Seth's jaw drops.

"It's not his fault or mine that your impaired judgment caused you to get duds over and over. And I see it's still working as shittily as ever—"

He raises his own voice. "Not his fault they left me for him? Do you know what you're saying—"

"It's on the people in the actual relationship to uphold their loyalty, your ex-girlfriends were the ones who decided, hey, fuck his feelings, I'm going to destroy our relationship from the inside out! Let me tell you something—"

"You fucking insensitive dick, you try getting cheated on multiple times—"

"People are the total opposite of objects—the more valuable a person is, the less likely they will get stolen! At least I wouldn't go back like a dog wagging his tail desperate for his owner who abandoned him in the first place—"

"You don't know how I was, it wasn't like that—"

"Now why do you think I'm so fucking insensitive?!"

"And you idiot, whose fault was it that I ended up crying for fucking ages outside the house because I didn't give a fuck that she rejected me?!"

Another spike of anger. Idiot? "What? Are you seriously making it out to be my fault for you being upset over not caring about whether she likes you or not?"

No, wait … that doesn't really make sense.

But judging from the way Seth suddenly tenses up and breaks our eye contact, maybe it is supposed to be making sense. My heart suddenly starts thumping so hard, even more erratically than it was before, that I'm afraid it'd just jump right out of my mouth and land on the ground.

"No, no," he starts babbling, "no, that wasn't what I meant—I mean, I just meant that—"

"Seth, stop for a minute," I say, holding up a hand. "Did you mean to say that I'm the reason you don't care about who Marissa likes or doesn't like?"

"No! Of course I didn't!" he says loudly, shaking his head rapidly. "There's no way I would say that! I just meant to say—I just meant to say—I … I … " he trails off into a whisper, "I never meant to say that."

Chills run up and down my body. It feels like every cell in my body is vibrating, and I can't stop any of it. "Seth—I..."

Before I can finish my sentence, however, he spins around so I can't see his expression anymore. "No, I didn't say that. I didn't mean …"

He fucking sprints for the door.

"FUCK! Seth, will you stop running away all the time?!" I jump to my feet and race after him. "It's still raining outside!"

Apparently, the rain isn't going to deter him; my chest fucking aches at the thought of him wanting so desperately to run away from me right after basically confessing his feelings—the feelings I've had for so many months now. The agony is killing me, and I half-wish I were already dead. The pouring rain pelts down hard on me, and I try to maintain my speed while not slipping in the puddles on the ground.

"Seth, just stop!" I call out, feeling as pathetic as my voice sounds.

His steps falter a bit, and then he picks the speed right back up again.


I scream my next few words: "You fucking coward! Don't you think that maybe this scares me just as much as it scares you?"

This time, he really does stop, although he doesn't turn around. I make it about two feet from him when he finally turns around. With a jolt, I notice that his eyes are even redder than earlier. If not for that, I would have thought it was just the rain.

"Please don't," he begins, and I struggle to hear his words over the sound of the rain. "I … It was all a mistake—"

"Seth! Just—just listen to me for a second, alright?"

He snaps his jaw shut. Slowly, he nods. As I walk towards him, he stiffens again as if ready to run at a second's notice.

"I … look, if I got it wrong or we aren't on the same page then I'm sorry and I'll never mention it again, but … I'm really terrified and I don't know what I'm doing—I know we're brothers and I … fuck, I'm sorry, I really, really don't know what I'm doing and I know it's wrong but IthinkI'minlovewithyou."

Seth stares at me, wide-eyed and open-mouthed.

Oh god. Maybe I have read things wrongly after all. "Look, I … I'm sorry. Yo-you were right. It was just a mistake—"

He takes a large step forward, so close to me that our faces are just a couple of inches apart. "Could you—could you say that again?" he whispers. "I don't want to have heard wrongly—"

"I think I'm in love with you," I whisper, so quickly I barely hear them as separate words.

His face breaks into this brilliant smile I've never seen, and he lunges forward and pulls me into the tightest embrace I've ever been in.

His lips touch my ear as he whispers, "I'm definitely in love with you."

My heart explodes. No way.

My arms reach up to press him as tightly as they can against me. Adrenaline rushes down to my toes and numbs them. This is the warmest I've felt in days, despite the freezing raindrops pricking at my skin. On the outside, goose bumps are rising everywhere and my teeth are chattering. Inside, an incredible, inexplicably delicious warmth from my chest spreads all over, rushing to my feet and making my toes curl. My feet are stepping on clouds.

I feel him burying his face into the crook of my neck as the thunder rages above us.

In this moment, the flash of lightning before me feels like it has just cracked my world open.


Author's Note: Woo! The chapter I've been waiting for, lol. To be honest, this could've gone either way—Jayden/Nico and Seth/Nico; I had two different ideas for both, but the idea of Jayden/Nico really only came to me after I'd written all those Seth/Nico bonding chapters and Seth is the hot-headed kind; barring some chance of fate, he would definitely confront Nico and accidentally let slip his real feelings. Thank you to the two wonderful readers who pledged to my Patreon! You really made it possible for me to force myself to focus a little more on writing even though I've been working every day. Sigh. (I posted something new on my Patreon, something I've been working on for the side for a bit.)

I wanted to let Jayden's reconciliation be seen by Nico, but in the end I've realized it's not quite feasible so I took it out. I'm writing Ashley's POV fic (progress is slow as a snail) where it does occur. There are a lot of issues that won't be resolved from Nico's perspective in this story, but they do still have their background resolution—we'll see I'll only get the chance to work on them after I finish this story, which hopefully won't take that long … I'm gonna do my best. In the meantime, thanks for all your kind reviews. There're only a few chapters left (like single digits, though I can't guarantee a number)

Anyway. Review replies (in order of first to latest):

Rose: Haha I hope you're okay. He is the quote guy—but he's central to Walker family's story in a way we'll see later on. I was planning on Seth/Nico from the beginning.

MakoharuTheOTP: Thanks a lot for the kind review, I'm really flattered :)

The Person: Thank you! I guess it was because the setting also forced me to go a little slow, I'm pretty sure it'd have gone a lot faster without the festering hatred Nico and his brothers had for each other. A lot of things from Jayden's (and Seth's, and Ashley's, and …) perspective won't be shown in this story, mostly because we're seeing things through Nico's eyes. I'm glad to hear that you liked Nico's character. I guess my favorite 'side'-character here would be Lewis. He's fiercely loyal, sometimes to the point of feeling a little blinded, and he really looks out for his friends.

Teclare: Thanks for saying that the story's managed to keep your interest, especially looking at the update intervals lol. The storyline's pretty much already predetermined by my planning, so just look forward to the next chapters. Thank you :)