Jranx's POV –

Jealously, betrayal, longing, insecurity, confusion, those were only a handful of the strong emotions berating his mind right now.

And he'd about completely lost it then.

The only thing stopping him from solemnly committing murder was his roommate's last words: We're friends.

Friends.

Bullshit.

What is this friends business? Nothing of the sort computed anywhere in his brain. He could not recall the last time he has ever addressed someone with such a stupid title as 'friend' for the life of him. And idly, Jranx didn't want to start doing so now.

The laces around the other's neck tightened under his will.

"Stone! Let him down this instant!" Nathiel's pity orders faded into the background, unheard as they fell on deaf ears.

Jranx watched, transfixed, as Vonshori's remaining bandaged arm shakily reached up to clasp the ribbons choking him. His jugular veins were becoming more prominent the more his body persisted on being deprived of oxygen. Hopelessly, he tried to pull on them, to ease the weighing pressure building up underneath his skull. Those icy blue irises were blood-shot and glistening. At first those same blue eyes had widened in shock, now they were half-mast and boring into him. Almost as if engraving a subliminal message into his conscious, and as if he did not want him to ever forget this particular incident.

Because of all the noisy commotion and Nathiel's fervent commands, Kami stepped out into the hall. When she saw Vonshori practically being choked to death she ran towards him and kneeled down to his level on the floor. Her eyes surveyed the hall and once they landed on Jranx she couldn't believe what was happening.

Suddenly, the stare she directed at him morphed into something undoubtedly accusing and downright despising.

This feeling of guilt was completely foreign to Jranx and to be fair he did not see why he had to register such a feeling at all. Still, his hand was above putting such unnecessary strain on for much longer, and the strings thinned out and disappeared – which in turn released Vonshori of the crushing assault on his throat— effectively putting a halt to further damage.

He did not like the way Kami was gazing at him with malice incredibility.

Nor the way she wrapped her arms around his roommate protectively, as he set his head upon her shoulder and coughed violently, all while gasping for air. Nathiel made a move to help them then, but not before Jranx regained enough self-control to tear himself away from the scene and get away.


Stone sibling's POV –

"So you two were stuck to each other for a whole day?" Zern chuckled mischievously somewhere deep in the closet. "How kinky."

Jranx frowned, that's not what he would call it in the least. The experience fit more below the category of 'worst case scenario to find yourself in, ever'. The idiot had been nothing more than a loud, whiny, incompetent, and obnoxious parasite that would not. Shut. Up.

"Sound like fun, I should try that sometime." His older brother entered the small plain kitchen with a dangerous, pensive, evil glint in his eyes and set the aid kit on the sink counter. Then if things could not possibly get worse—Jranx being a firm believer that they usually do—Zern felt the need to add: "Do you think he'll be into handcuffs?"

Jranx grit his teeth and glared at the man, "Don't include me into your sick fantasies."

He then proceeded on twisting the faucet open (after strictly alleging to ignore the hindrance whom was sputtering nonsense) and rammed his burnt hand under the cool water once it started running, sighing in alleviation when the scorching feeling diminished momentarily.

It had taken him a while longer than he was overall pleased with to find the perverted sadist, and the complete list of possible room numbers Zern inhabited in, that was given to him inside the blue envelope, along with his room keys, sucked up the rest of his evening. Luckily, he found him on his sixth guess, and ironically down the same hall from his dorm.

Zern curled his top lip in a 'know-it-all' sort of smug-sneer, "You're the one who is into that stuff."

'The nerve of the fucker' was all he thought upon seeing that expression but had enough common sense to steer clear of any and all tedious foreseeable discussions.

"I am not! Did you not hear a word I said to you before? We were attacked." He almost hissed, exposing sharp fangs like a cat's, but caught himself in time.

The elder raised an eyebrow and smirked, clearly amused at the frustrated teens hopeless transparent attempts to refrain from mangling him. "Sure, if that's what you kids decide to call it these days…"

Jranx sneered in spite, "You're demented, you know that?" To hell with self-regulation; withstanding foreseeable discussions was always a healthy alternative worth sacrificing a good chunk of rational brain cells (that advice you against) on.

Zern wagged his brows and smiled, unfazed by his younger siblings' curt comment, whilst placing a packet of sterile gauze bandages in-between his teeth. In one swift pull, he ripped the package open and wordlessly beckoned his brother to come closer.

Jranx obliged, though warily, and propped his elbow up in an angle on the table's hard surface.

After sobering up a bit, Zern began to appear worried, "Does it still hurt?"

"Not really…" on the contrary, now that the adrenaline wore off, Jranx's hand burned like a bitc—female dog.

Zern pinned him with a stare that commuted how stupid he found that bluff to be.

Jranx avoided eye contact, and after sighing in defeat because of his younger brother's expected uncooperative behavior, Zern loosely wrapped the gauze over the wound, also being extremely careful not to put any pressure on it. The air would do more damage than good, and this way the severity of the pain would subside.

"Alright, you can heal It now." They did not assist each other on using their abilities – least that's what a little independent six-year-old Jranx huffed determinedly about one day, after he had tripped and scraped his knee and Zern approached the bleeding scratch with full intentions of curing it, only to be stopped of doing just that. He had smiled down at his kid brother after his short speech was done, out of respect for his decision, and let him undergo the healing process unaided ever since.

Jranx narrowed his eyes at some invisible point on the opposite side of the wall over Zern's head and frowned. He figured that the muteness and inactivity was enough to get the full message across. He simply could not heal his tarnished skin tissue for lack of sufficient energy to muster.

Zern understood of course, yet inevitably grew puzzled as to how a prodigy could let such a thing occur, but as curious as he may be, he at least had the decency to bite back his inquiries and stay silent. Surely Jranx would not appreciate him prying; much less were the possibilities of the stubborn teenager volunteering to openly speak about it himself.

He reached a hand out, "Give it here." Jranx handed his arm over and he held it, cautious of the bandages coming undone at the corners.

Zern would have used his sibling's own energy to repair his scarred tendons in any other scenario, albeit, Jranx really was sucked dry of any sparing energy for him to utilize. Rule or no rule, the state his brother was in was uncharacteristically weak and unacceptably ragged, not to mention unprofessional. Basically a heck of a lot more 'un's' than what was adequate. And it was his job, granted by nature, to always look out for him and this fresh piece of evidence served as a reminder of the extent of negligence he's had over his only family member for the past couple of days.

Not being able to hide how upset he presently felt very well, he let the concern etch on his face.

Long ago, they had assembled an unspoken (and highly-adhered) rule to not dwell into certain personal subjects with the exception of battle-techniques, or broad information, unless, they, themselves brought it up first. Jranx liked it that way, he was damn well grateful for it, hence no questions were asked and the pressure of sharing their internal feelings with one another was nonexistent – there are just some things one needed to keep to themselves. So you can imagine how much it surprised him when his older brother opened his mouth to ask,

"What's been going on with you lately?

"Nothing has been going on with me lately." He bit out quickly, fully aware that his words sounded contradicting, even to his ears. Though he was positive it also had to do with the fact that his quick reply had come off as, what others would call, 'too defensive'.

"That does not appear to be the case to me—"

"Who cares what does."

Zern's chocolate brown eyes zeroed in on Jranx's head and narrowed warningly, "—you were never the one to do something as careless as waste off all your energy AND get injured nonetheless."

"Shows what you know." Jranx grumbled, not happy with where things were heading.

"I'm serious."

"So am I." or as serious as anyone could afford to be when taking on the hard task of trying to brush off someone's questions, when they were not even important to begin with.

Zern scowled, "No you're not."

"And who are you to assume that?" Jranx arched an eyebrow, whilst resisting the urge to growl in irritation.

"I've know you since you were incontinent and that is enough time to automatically detect when you're bullshitting me or not."

Jranx glared, "You don't know anything."

"You're absolutely right. I do not know."

Jranx scoffed, that had been easier than he thought. "So, tell me. What on earth happened to your hand?" And just like that, the smug look was slapped off his face by his sadistic brother's final remark.

Now it was Zern's turn to harbor a victorious cocky grin as he waited patiently for the other's missing explanation.

There was a prolonged pregnant pause during the time Jranx tried picking up the shattered pieces of his wounded dignity, alas he rendered it helpless.

"Remember how I said we were glued to each other by our hands…"

Zern automatically nodded and listened intently. Too intently, that if he were not who he was, Jranx would have surely cringed away from the immense magnitude of such a concentrated stare.

"When we were, our only objective was to get unstuck. To do that we had to fight Mason. At one point, I got this..." Jranx stopped his retelling of the story to nudge his left shoulder, were blue paste covered part of his upper forearm. Zern knotted his brows together in a show of surprised confusion. Honestly, he did not know how he had not spotted that sooner.

"Anyway, I cannot fight with my left hand, much less with the unbearable ache that inflicted every time I moved it an inch. Its fine now, it doesn't even hurt anymore. Fuck! Don't touch it." Jranx grit his teeth and drew back from his brother, who had an arrogant smirk on his detestable face.

"You were saying?" Zern grinned cheekily.

He sighed raggedly in hopes of calming his nerves, or else he would seriously jump over the distance separating them and strangle— his heart thumped painfully in his chest all of a sudden. Strangle… he's done too much of that for today. Misty, red-rimmed, pleading eyes perturbed his thoughts, but Jranx worked fast to lock that image in a box and hurl it over a bottomless pit. There was that useless guilty emotion again. Why wouldn't it go away? He should probably hurl that too...

He swallowed the lump in his throat and continues on, thankfully his older brother did not notice the difference in tone, "I let my roommate use my sword… and in the middle of the fight, Mason called on his partner whom was a skilled swordsman. That's when I told Vonshori to use his powers—"

Zern shook his head absentmindedly, a look of horror clouding his features at the thought of what happened next, "No, please tell me you didn't…"

"—the paste melted off and we were finally liberated…"

"Christ, do you know how close you were to having a stump for a hand?" he rubbed the bridge of his nose with his forefinger and thumb, whilst muttering profanities under his breath.

"I didn't tell you so you could come to an agreement over my decision or not. It's done. Drop it."

Zern glared maliciously at his brother from across the counter, "That doesn't change the fact that what you did was thoughtless and infinitely stupid. He fires acid, Jranx. Acid! Now who do you suppose has to fix your mistake? Me. I do."

"You don't have to do anything, I'll heal myself! Not once did I ask for your help." He bit out. It may have not shown on the outside but his heart was going one hundred miles a minute.

The man snorted humorlessly, "Right, then for what other reason did you come looking for me then? Enlighten me little brother."

"You're such a piece of worthless trash whose only talent is knowing how to hide behind his brother's influential power!" Marcus words, from back in the arena, rang true in the depths of his mind.

"Don't worry about it, I'm leaving." The chair screeched awfully loud against the tense silence.

Jranx only got five feet ahead when Zern's voice caught up to him, "Just like that, you're running away…"

"I'm not running away. It's obvious all I am to you is a weapon."

Zern furrowed his eyebrows and scowled, "That's not true."

Jranx opened his mouth to retort but at that moment the door sprung open, revealing a tired-looking red-head.

Both siblings froze, one tensed while the other adopted an owl expression.

"Sorry... Am I interrupting something... I- I'll just leave." Rust fidgeted nervously, realization dawning on his face.

Jranx went expressionless and turned to head out when his feet suddenly decided to betray him and stay rooted to the carpet. This time he did growl in frustration, "What?"

"One last thing. This is for you…" Zern manifested a folded up note from his pocket for Jranx to take. He did not immediately go for it, and so the older moved his muscles for him until Jranx had the paper gripped safely in his fist. Then the man freed him from his hold.

Jranx glared at the nerve of his brother's brash movements and shut the door behind him.

"Sorry, I didn't sense him early on…" Rust mumbled guiltily after the awkward atmosphere dispelled a bit.

"No, its fine, not even I would have sensed him…" Zern stared absently at the spot his brother last stood.


Meanwhile… Vonshori's POV –

Another, ruthless, cough miserably made its way up my raw throat. "uggh.. fuck…" my voice was so hoarse I sounded like an old man who smokes twenty packs of cigarettes a day, who's kids hate him, who's wife abandoned him, and no one wants to hire him for a decent job.

Not that I would know anything about that…

I got off track. See, I don't usually admit to these sorts of things but certain circumstances call for extreme measures. I am honestly scared shitless right now and I don't want to go back to my room, where the demon himself could be lurking. Possibly, waiting for me to return, preferably soon, so he could finish me off and hang my bones as trophies on the furniture and my guts as a replacement window curtain; I shudder at the endless possibilities, one more gruesome than the last. Who could blame me? Jranx knows how to handle his sword pretty well.

Err... wait that did not come out right. See, this only amounts to how many brain cells I lost as a result of residing with The Bastard.

Sometimes I want to disappear.

I don't understand what happened. What did I do? We were good, I felt it, the seeds of friendship forming and sprouting into companionship until splat, some heartless bastard tramps all over it. "Not just any heartless bastard," I grumbled to myself.

Whatever, I'm moving out.

Nathiel removed the bandages off my hands with his freaky white light, and Kam went to go… I don't know where but she said she would meet up with me, that's all that mattered. Maybe just maybe I had not stopped clinging onto her as if my life depended on it lest she promised to help me. She turned all sympathetic and gentle so suddenly I forgot she was ever as dangerous as a nuclear bomb that could go off at any second. I was just grateful Kam didn't abandon me to drown in my own self-pity and despair.

Uggh, all this feeling sorry for myself was not easy. I needed sleep and a generously heavy batch of cinnamon rolls. Ah, that sounded so right, right about now…

"Oh, it's you!"

Did someone call me? My ninja instincts kicked in and I peered around.

"Up here, tomato."

A nerve throbbed in my temple and I could sense my pride getting peeved.

"What did you call me?" I looked up and sure enough pale red eyes crinkled in mischief. I don't remember ever running into him before. "Who are you?" really, what kind of person goes around making fun of people and dubbing them as a tomato?

The boy was perched atop one of the white marble pillars, looking mighty snug in his place up there. "I'm Lektrin. I was the one who hauled your ass up to your room."

I twitched. "You what?"

He sighed, not in aggravation because he was still grinning in amusement. "Are you deaf or something?"

"No! Sorry I don't expect random guys to pop out of roman-styled columns announcing they carried my unconscious body up two flights of stairs and into my bed every day. How do you even know what room I'm in? Huh? Answer that, you creep!"

Instead of getting defensive, this guy's smile knew no boundaries and he grinned wider. "It was easy to recognize Jranx from earlier's match. About everyone knows where you guys are rooming. It was announced at the beginning of the tournament, dummy."

Everyone knows where I live? That 'interesting' little piece of information did nothing to tranquil the absurdity of this whole situation, it was about the opposite. I felt so open for display and vulnerable to the world.

"Okay, thanks... I guess." I wanted to get away from him, which I succeeded in for the first few glorious seconds, but the nuisance wouldn't take the hint to go take a hike and he followed me down the hall anyway.

I finally had enough. If he—Lektrin was it?— wanted to play games, fine, he could, I could care less, but not with me.

"Is there something you want?"

He jumped down effortlessly and held his palm out. I stood there all awkwardly not knowing what he meant and just smacked my hand atop of his. Was this some weird new revolutionized way to do a high-five? "There, happy now?" I let out a sigh and went on my way.

Lerktrin laughed and kept up with my frantic pace, which only had the effect to further make me feel like an idiot. Why wouldn't he leave, God Damnit all!

I glowered, "What's so funny?"

"You are." His eyes were engulfed with such mirth. It was sick.

My eyebrow twitched in indignation, "How Am I ThE FUNNY ONE HERE WHEN—" I had to take a deep breath before I socket the fool in the head. "You know what… never mind." I'm not going to let him get under my skin.

"You don't get it. I require fee for my aid."

I whirled around to face him, "Fee?"

"You know, cash, money, moolah, the Ka-ching-Ka-ching." At this he rubbed his four fingers and thumb together to symbolize what he meant.

I shook my head and sputtered "I- I don't.."

"The gravy, the big bucks, them pesos…."

"W-wha... Pesos?"

"That dough, the bread, Them thick wads. The gold?"

"Err… now you're just making stuff up." I frowned.

Lektrin smiled toothily.

I messaged at the giant migraine forming in my head. "How about this? You leave me alone, and I'll get you you're 'Ka-ching-Ka-ching' through Jranx."

The pale boy looked a little thoughtful, but mostly skeptical, he obviously didn't think I could do that. Hell, I didn't either. Everything will self-destruct eventually and I wasn't delaying that moment in the least.

"I'd like to see that. Do I have your word?" The wind blew by us and I shivered, immediately clutched at my sides as my teeth began to chatter and nodded like a broken bobble-head toy.

"S-sure whatever..." how was he not cold?

Lektrin grinned, "Cool. Oh! By the way, have you seen Nathiel?"

"Uh- yeah.. He was at the infirmity, why?"

"Nothing, he's my roommate. Anyway, thanks Tomato, see you!"

I narrowed my eyes at the far-fetched nickname (he didn't even pronounce it right!) and watched him hop off and speed away. I shook my head in empathy and mentally prayed for Nathiel. We both got stuck with psychopathic beings to deal with.


Back to Jranx and his moodiness, POV—

This whole day irked him.

Jranx was head-deep in all his brooding that he didn't even register where he was going and now, instead of heading straight and ending up in his room in six long strides, he meshed into the alternative route. The much longer and inconvenient direction that was all in all pointless to trudge down on and he'd stop just at the fork of the lighted tunnel. How had he not noticed this until now?

It was dark and the pipe was alit, he could faintly hear crickets chirping into the night. What time was it? Jranx sighed and reached into his pocket. He retrieved the starch-white letter and unfolded it. There, in the middle of the tube, he read the contents of his brother's neat handwriting.

"The tournament is over. Demitri, Elian, and I have already gathered a list. Tomorrow morning everyone will get marked. Do not run away little brother.

Z~"

Run away? Tch. Stupid.

Jranx crumbled up the note and shoved it back in its place, inside his front pocket. What did Zern mean by marked? And a list of what exactly? For once he hated how vague his brother was. Would it kill the man, to not act like a freaking riddle that needed figuring out, half the time?

He cracked his neck and retreated back. Thought thinking about it now, how would things be with his roommate together in the same room?

Don't answer that.

He should have asked Zern for a spare key to another room earlier when he had the chance. Woe was his life. How had he gotten special privileges to a whole living quarter with a functioning kitchen and bathroom?

And that moron thinking he can just waltz in like he owned the place. Which, maybe upon closer inspection, he most likely did. It's not that he outright abhorred Rust without reason. He was only subconsciously keeping an eye out for his older brother and he didn't want to see him get hurt. Sure anyone would find that hard to believe, since Rust is all friendly and a bubble of sunshine blah blah blah, and more often than not Zern looks like a guy who wouldn't think twice about dumping someone as ditsy as Rust. Let's face the fact, that's spot on what it looks like. So why would he worry about his brother getting the bad end of the stick in the relationship?

He'll tell you why. Rust, while supposedly dating but undoubtedly sleeping with his brother, has his sights set on someone else. And not just anyone else. When they were much smaller and before it got a thousand times more… difficult... between them, they were 'friends'(note, he despised that cursed word.).

The group of them (Kami, Adra, Rust and him) used to play together in the woods or occasionally arrange to gather around a nearby creek to swim during hot summer days, but most importantly, forever have that trust to confide in each other. Jranx didn't see it coming, like hell, he didn't even piece in his own obvious attraction to Kami until Rust pulled him aside one evening, after having eaten four plates of food, to discuss what was on his mind. Or more accurately who was on his mind. And, just his luck, this crush of Rust's so happened to be none other than the most amazingest girl herself - Kami.

"Pinky promise you won't say anything to anyone about this?" an eleven-year-old version of Rust, with a full on blush, held out his pinky finger for Jranx to bound upon. Those bright green eyes were searing into him, almost physically painful to glance into, and for once he had the urge to deliberately gauge them out of his socket.

That was about when he started to feel bitter and a little pissed towards his childhood 'buddy' and at the time Jranx had no clue as to why. Thought, who wouldn't? He was only a punk of ten years. Now he does of course, and it's this furious love square (1) their stuck in. Basically he's crazy about the one girl that also has Rust's interest peeked while his dimwit of a brother (whom is as blind as a block on these matters) and Kami remain completely in the dark about their feelings. How are you able to keep amends with someone who is screwing a close family member, whilst crushing on your love interest, without wanting to castrate them every time you happen to cross paths? You cannot.

Albeit those were Rust's feelings a long time ago, seven years, to be technical. Yet, he couldn't shake off the likelihood that those emotions still lay dormant in him.

Enough of that.

Dull clicking penetrated the silence. It was nearing with a purpose and Jranx halted in his steps to see who it was.

The bright bulbs of light, emanating from the glass floor below, casted a beautiful glow on her fair skin. And if he had taken the while to study her expression more accurately, instead of, per say, checking her out, Jranx could have possibly prevented the hard punch aimed at his face.


Same place, different POV (Kam) —

That sound of flesh making raw contact with bone was accelerating.

This is what she was missing. Ever since Kam stumbled upon Jranx, that one night when she went out in search of answers in Aizis, something had stirred in her in alarm, which needed to be satisfied. This was it right here.

He grunted and reeled backward. Kam was thoroughly disappointed when he extended an arm out to balance himself against the wall of the tunnel in order to avert the fall she had wanted to witness.

He stared at her in shock. Those eyes, that could only remind her of nature and all that was beautiful, literally had the effect of speeding up her pulse.

The thought of them never raking away from her sent pleasurable electric bolts down her spine.

Kam quickly had a stern talk with her hormones to go to hell and die there, before approaching the bewildered topic of interest.

"Why did you do it?" She simultaneously held his gaze with her own defiant one.

Jranx rubbed at the bruise producing on his cheek, inches beneath his orbs, and frowned. "I'd like to know the same thing."

"You deserved no less. Why did you choke him?"

He breathed out his nose, conveying just how tired of the subject he was already. This detail brought forth a fresh wave of anger in her.

"Kami, don't go there."

Her eyes darkened at the familiar, old nickname. It seemed so childish now, a distant dream that was out of reach… "That's not my name, don't call me that."

Jranx closed his eyes and leaned fully against the sturdy curve of the tube, "What do you want me to call you then?"

"Kam is fine," Most of her initial anger steamed out of her system and now all she wanted was to have this peace the night brought forth. Anyone who passed by the tunnel would be able to see them, on the other hand, they could not distinguish anything out there because of the blinding lights underneath, unless they edged closer to the glass and covered the sides of their eyes with the cup of their hands.

He stirred, but she didn't make any outward signs of acknowledging the small action.

"Isn't that what he calls you?"

Whatever he was going on about struck a chord in her because she met his stony glare halfway. "Who?"

He overtly did not hear her and muttered on, "You're always with him, and I heard him say that was your name. Can you just let me know now that you're with him instead of me having to find out that way? I thought we were—"

Kam clogged up the remaining inches separating them, "whoa, wait a minute. Who is with whom?"

"I'm not an idiot! I know you guys kissed!"

Kam's heart crashed in her ribs and her hands felt too clammy for her own liking. "Kissed? I never— I didn't kiss anybody." No way, was she ever going to openly admit to not ever experiencing her first kiss, especially not to Jranx whom probably had tons of practice.

He stood to his full height to regard her with a pointed look. She did not budge or back down from that stare, instead she rivaled it.

"Then why did he say you did?"

Kam didn't know who this 'he' even was. But after much forced mental backtracking, she clued in on the mystery person's identity. How ridiculous of Jranx to come to such a silly conclusion as well.

Kam would have rolled her eyes but he appeared too focused and serious for that right now, she had to answer him in a just as no-nonsense tone so he would not get the wrong idea, "Let me tell you something about Vonshori, he goes through these episodes where he mixes up reality with something… else. He does not adapt to anything, most times than not his grasp on the present slips, which is why I treat him with as much patience as I do. Furthermore there is absolutely nothing going on between us."

She let herself heave a sigh. It was moments like these when she felt ancient. Strangely enough, revealing all this to Jranx made her feel more at ease and as if this oppressive weight had miraculously lifted off her shoulders. Ever since her father had mentioned bringing Vonshori to their house mere months ago, all this trouble of keeping secrets has been eating away at her conscious. Of course what she told Jranx now was only a snippet of what is really going on, but that was fine for now, and he did not appear suspicious.

Jranx didn't say anything, but stand beside her when she leaned on the wall for support. He took a space next to her and it grew quiet. For a while she fantasized about placing her head on his shoulder. It was so embarrassing that she had to double-check, by screaming mentally, in order to make sure he was not a mind reader in any way, and that he did not see what she was dreaming up.

"So you didn't kiss him then."

It did not sound like a question, albeit she unknowingly reassured his insecurities with a simple, "No."

Silenced wrapped around them like a blanket once more.

"I..." her words got trapped in her tongue, refusing to take form and become a coherent sound.

Jranx trained his attention on her, "Hmm?"

Kam's cheeks were dusted with pink. Damn it. Why would he make a noise like that? A deep, humming sort of grunt that reminded her of other situations he could be making such a low note.

"I don't kiss people I don't like." Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Might as well tie a rope to a rock and jump off a cliff with it. It was now official; her mouth had disowned her and was doing what it damned pleased.

Jranx's lips tilted at the corners ever so slightly. This was as close to a genuine smile she's ever seen on his face since they reunited. No, wait, reunited sounded too corny.

A tanned hand obscured her vision; she trailed it with her eyes, and up to its owner. Jranx smile didn't waver, "It's late, and it's cold. I don't want you to get sick."

Kam grasped it, in a daze due to the unanticipated warmth as he gently pulled her away from the cool surface of the tunnel.

No more words were exchanged between the two and she was about ready to explode from all the emotions battling it out in her brain.

"Tomorrow we're getting marked by how we did on the training grounds."

"Oh," brilliant response, how intelligent you are, Kam-kins. She swore her conscious was plotting against her.

Either way, Kam could not let it end like this, she would not. Her eyes immediately traced over the purple bruise's lining. "Come closer," she murmured.

He blinked a couple of times but did as she bid. "I'm not saying you didn't deserve this, because you did, except, the fact that such a minor mark did not heal yet bothers me." She chastised, while Jranx shifted his gaze everywhere and anywhere but to her.

Kam knew what happened utmost instantaneously— he always did this. Even when they were kids. He would work his body beyond the point of exhaustion and limitations did not faze him.

She grimaced, and covered the evidence of her earlier anger with her palm, the crystal ring on her thumb stirred alive with stored energy from within. The ring was not just any trinket or accessory, it served as weapon of survival as well. Her father had bestowed her with such a rare treasure on her twelfth birthday. In case trouble ever presented itself in the midst of the night, when the sun was not visible, the ring would provide her with enough energy to survive through a brawl. A day has not passed with it not on her finger.

People like Jranx thrived on organism energy, this way she was offering hers for him to take.

Rough material graced the back of her hand, it was gauze bandage. The troublesome guy had gone and burned himself.

The realization that he was practically holding her hand in his was a more powerful blow than the one she had been preparing to give him for harming his sword arm.

He was so close that she could get a full whiff of the unique fragrance that was Jranx. Kam breathed it in for all it was worth.

Damn teenage hormones and the moon's magic that makes all of the population of adolescents throw ethics and principles out the window.

Why did he always do this to her?

As much as she longed to freeze time's clock for all of eternity, life had to go on. In a matter of minutes the warmth was gone, and she stepped back, towards the direction of the girl's building.

The high probabilities that anyone could have caught their brief interaction breezed over her head.

Nothing longer mattered, her mind ceremoniously went blank. Jranx's lips upon hers were the only sensation that was registering in her goo of a brain, brain.

"Thank you." He whispered before entering into the guy's building.

If she was a kettle, her entire top would have trembled from the sheer force of all the steam because her face was boiling.

The tips of her fingers found their way up to her lips. They continued to tingle shamelessly.

That… that had been her first kiss.


(1) love square, simple enough. (sike) its four people stuck in a love triangle kind of thing. in this case, Rust,Jranx,Kam,and Zern

Bleh. i had to cut this chapter into two parts because it was getting long :P. i can't believe that after thirteen (not counting prolouge or the previous 2-part chapter)this is the first lip action scene.. ever. wow i'm lame. pfft, but just you wait.. Zern's POV had to go after this last one and, well, wait till you read that little snippet. hurr hurr hurr. Seme power~ (Boogie you know i am talking to you!)

anyway, thanks for getting this far. Roxy, Boogie i pass the baton onto you. i know the fa-la-la holidays are here, but this is my new year's gift to you (i'm a cheap-o, i know)

until next time guys~ Merry Holidays, and have a good ole' break with the family, or away from them, either way. see you next year!