Jake had just gotten off the school bus and was walking down the path to visit Charlie. He was carrying a large blue and gray backpack filled with textbooks and Charlie's dinner as well as admiring the gorgeous day. But when he got to the clearing where Charlie always met, he saw a small, white-haired boy beating up Charlie without mercy and tossing him around by just waving his hand. He felt that powerful charge in the air again, but this one felt cold and deadly. Immediately he knew.
A subject, Jake thought. He was outraged. No one was going to hurt Charlie, not with him around.
He slid his backpack off his shoulders and charged toward the boy, shouting "Get away from him! I'll rip you apart!"
Gabriel and Charlie both turned to see Jake dashing toward them.
"Ah," Gabriel said, still emotionless. "A friend. So this is what's made you so happy. You tried to replace me again. You should know better than that by now, Charlie. You are mine and nobody else's."
Charlie's heart sank in his chest. "Run Jake! Run away! He'll kill you!" he extended his palm toward Jake, but before he could do anything, he was immobilized by Gabriel's power again, both his arms stiffening tight against his sides.
"No, I'll kill him!" Jake replied. Gabriel's evil aura and his icy cold look scared him, but it wasn't nearly enough to stop his attack. The kid's like ten, Jake thought. What's he gonna do, besides talking in the creepiest voice I've ever heard?
Jake jumped into the air, turned his body sideways and snapped his right leg directly forward. His whole body was a straight line with his leg out in front, a flying side kick aimed for Gabriel. Gabriel held his free hand out toward Jake. Jake felt something thick and heavy surround him, stopping him in midair. It was like he was inside a giant glob of syrup he couldn't see. Jake waved his limbs erratically, but he was stuck hanging a foot above the ground. Jake remembered this technique. It was the last one Charlie had used on the agents when he was in Angel Mode.
"He's an angry one isn't he?" Gabriel said mirthlessly. "Look at him. He still thinks he can stop me."
Jake grunted as he tried to reach the ground. "You little creep! Who do you think you are? We'll see how you talk when my foot's buried in your face!"
"Gabriel, please don't hurt him!" Charlie cried. "I'm begging you!"
"He's so pathetic," Gabriel said, pointing to Jake who was still floating, but unharmed. Gabriel slowly lowered his hand about an inch and Jake touched the dirt. Then he flattened his palm as if he were telling Jake to halt.
Jake tried again to attack Gabriel, but ran smack into a hard, invisible wall. Jake rubbed it with his hands, to make sure it was really there. It felt like glass, but without the cold slipperiness.
Oh, now that's just unfair, he thought. He punched it furiously, but it was hard as steel. "Charlie, who the heck is this guy?"
"Jake, you have to run!" Charlie shouted through tears.
"No way! He's gonna pay!"
"No, he's too powerful! There's no way you can win!"
"We'll just see about that!" Jake ran sidelong to the invisible wall. He dragged his hand against it, trying to find the end. All the while, Gabriel did nothing. Jake felt the edge of the wall about five feet to the right. He ran around it and went for Gabriel again.
"Interesting, he's not like all the others," Gabriel said, unaffected by Jake's rage. "He doesn't scream and run. He fights even after he's seen what I can do. I've never seen this before. I'm sort of curious as to how it will turn out."
Jake swung a high round kick, curving toward Gabriel's head. Gabriel floated backwards out of range, his feet about an inch off the ground. Jake lunged for him again with the hardest punch he could throw. Gabriel floated to the left and dodged again, his arms crossed over his chest, seemingly disinterested. Jake kicked and punched over and over, but Gabriel was too fast, hovering just out of reach. Whenever he struck, Gabriel just wasn't there anymore.
Charlie had managed to stop crying. He wondered what Gabriel was doing. Gabriel knew that in Angel Mode, Charlie would destroy him. But he was endlessly crafty and always found a way to end it the same, with everyone dead but Charlie. He had to have a reason for allowing Jake to swing at him.
Charlie got up, wanting so badly to get Jake out of here. He extended his hand toward Jake, with the intention of pulling him back, but Gabriel saw the movement and swiped his hand in a slicing arc in Charlie's direction. Charlie felt a wide cut open up on his thigh as the sharp, thin force hit him. He fell backward with a scream, clutching his bleeding leg.
"You little coward!" Jake shouted as he watched Charlie writhe in pain. "Fight me!"
"You're not worth fighting," Gabriel said.
This taunt made Jake fly off the handle. He roared as he spun into a tornado kick. Gabriel did not move. For a second, Jake felt the satisfying thud of his foot against the side of Gabriel's head. He gasped however, when Gabriel didn't get pushed back, didn't even flinch. Jake pounded him with more punches and kicks, but Gabriel was immovable. His body was like iron. Every strike was only hurting Jake.
Jake began to feel fear. Gabriel looked like an unstoppable, evil monster, floating omnipotent before him with unfeeling, sapphire eyes. So this is really what you've been running from, Charlie.
"Give up," Gabriel said calmly. "You're beginning to annoy me." He slowly touched one finger to Jake's chest.
Jake flew backward and slid painfully through the gravel of the trail, his fear now doubled. Then he saw Charlie crying and grabbing his cut leg and he knew he had to crush Gabriel. He got up and rushed him again.
"Still?" Gabriel asked. He sounded surprised, though his expression didn't change. When Jake's fist was an inch from his body, Gabriel turned his palm upward and Jake was stuck in the invisible syrup again. With a curl of Gabriel's finger's Jake's face came level with his, so that they were looking directly into each other's eyes, just an inch away. Jake's eyes bulged with horror, but Gabriel's just barely narrowed with a hint of anger.
"Charlie is mine," Gabriel said, voice a low, hissing whisper, like a viper. "You want to protect him? Why didn't you protect us when we needed it? You think you care about him? You have no idea what the two of us went through together. You have no idea of our pain."
Jake's eyes were full to bursting with fear. He was hyperventilating through his nose, mouth still sealed. A cold sweat had broken out all over his body. He had never, ever been this scared. And for the first time he realized, I am weak.
"You and everyone else, you deserve to feel the same pain we did," Gabriel continued. "Why did we have to suffer and not you? You all deserve to die." He held his free hand out in Charlie's direction and twirled his wrist again. Charlie was turned away from them, so he couldn't see what happened next.
"Hey, what are you doing Gabriel!" Charlie screamed, but no one answered him.
Gabriel suddenly began rapidly snapping his other hand back and forth. Jake's body in turn, also whipped back and forth, smashing into a tree trunk over and over again. The pain was terrible. Jake would have screamed, but this time the syrup was keeping his mouth closed. All the while Gabriel used his other hand to keep Charlie turned away.
"Now I'm the one who gets to give pain and take life," Gabriel closed his hand into a fist, and Jake felt something squeeze his heart, stopping it from beating. His eyes began to hurt like they were going to explode and he was sure he was about to die.
In that instant, Gabriel's eyes got a little wider "No wait, I've done this all before. This doesn't work." He uncurled his fingers and released Jake, who fell to the ground and took a much needed breath. "I have a better idea this time. If you really care about him, stay and prove it. Prove it to me, the one in control of both your lives."
Jake could hear in Gabriel's tone that he was issuing him a challenge. Jake never declined a challenge.
"Yes, I know how to make him see the truth this time," Gabriel finished.
Then, there was a ringing coming from Gabriel's pocket. He reached into his pocket and produced a small, black, rounded rectangle, an expensive looking smart phone. He raised it to his ear, touched the screen with his thumb and said "What?"
Neither Jake, nor Charlie knew what was said to him. Gabriel said nothing as he held the phone to his ear for a minute.
After he had replaced it in his pocket he said "I'm leaving. I'll let you enjoy this for a little while, Charlie. Soak it in, relish it, but just know that he will die like all the others. He doesn't care about you, not enough to defeat me. You will never be able to replace me, because no one cares about you but me. I promise, I'll return and kill your little guard dog, perhaps everyone in this area. Think about that until then."
Then Gabriel floated high into the air. When he was above the treetops, he began to glide west and disappeared from sight.
Charlie was finally able to turn around and see Jake again, his face the picture of worry.
"Urgh!" Jake growled through clenched teeth, still recovering. His face was red, each contour hard with anger. Rage burned from deep within his eyes. He roared as he lifted his forearms and slammed them into the dirt three times. "No! No! No! Why am I so weak?"
Then both of them heard a siren. They looked to the left to see an ambulance arriving at the house on top of the hill.