Hey guys :) A new chapter! And it's only been a few days :D haha. Aren't you lucky. This didn't go how I planned but I like it, I guess ;) There's more fluff than I planned, and other things as well.

Don't hate me for what happens... O.o haha

Ugh so tired. I've been really tired lately, don't know why :/ Gonna be busy packing and unpacking for the next week or so, so...dunno when the next update will be, but I'll try to make it soon!

Chapter length: 4222

Song listening to: "Which to bury, us or the hatchet?" by Relient K


Chapter Fifty-Two: Until it Wasn't Okay

"Are you sure we should be doing this?" I asked for what must have been the hundredth time, because I couldn't shake the dread knotting in my stomach. After what I heard about favors and the city, I didn't want to do this.

Kieron eyed me curiously. "What are you so worried about?"

"You, you idiot," I grumbled, folding my arms across my chest. "You said they didn't like perpetuals in the city, and you already had to do that…that favor so we could stay at the hotel, and…I don't think this is a good idea."

He sighed and scrubbed a hand across his face, shaking his head. "Human, we have to. It's quicker that way than it is to go around, and it will be less likely that we'll run into screamers there."

"I don't care – I'll take the risks."

I didn't want to take the risks, but I didn't want him anywhere near people that made him do those favors, either. I wanted that even less. I still couldn't believe it happened. I couldn't believe he let it happen, and I didn't know about it. I just assumed he was tired, or acting irrationally when I wore that liquid, but now I knew otherwise. It frustrated me because he didn't seem to think it was a problem – didn't seem to think it was wrong, when there was absolutely nothing right about it.

He scowled at me and didn't answer, simply tossed the duffel over his shoulder as he strolled through the trees. I bit down on my lower lip, hesitating, but I couldn't just stay here. I didn't know where I was. Finally, I sighed and chased after him.

Fine. But I'm sticking with you the whole time and the minute someone says something out of line…

You'll what? My mind asked.

I don't know. But I'll do something.

I wouldn't let it happen again. I wouldn't be naïve and stupid this time.

A few minutes later, he pushed aside some of the brush and I found myself staring at a bustling city. There was no other way to describe it. There were tall buildings – though not like skyscrapers or anything, the tallest was maybe only five or six stories high – and roads, though they were dirt roads. There were horses – at least they looked like horses from here – tethered to a post at the corner of a building which boasted something in those odd characters I couldn't read. People filled the streets, stopping to look into windows, just like they did where I came from. I was reminded of home and for a minute, felt unbelievably homesick.

"That's the…city?" I asked quietly.

"It's a city," he agreed, stepping out of the trees. I followed after him and we followed a dirt path toward the road.

I startled and staggered back, though, when something zoomed past me, in front of my face. Kieron shot me a look and smirked faintly.

"What the…heck is that?" I asked, staring as the thing rushed down the street and disappeared around a corner.

"Hover-jet," he said.

"Hover-what?"

He shrugged. "We have cars, kind of. Except they don't have tires, and they don't run on gas."

"What do they run on? And hover?" I asked, frowning as I watched him, my heart still racing a little.

"You don't want to know," he said, nose wrinkling. "And yes, hover. They fly, I guess, but they can't get very far from the ground. About a foot or so. They're small, agile, and fast, and usually only seat one, sometimes two if you're lucky."

I smirked. "Have you driven one?"

"Not really," he said, "except once. Like I said, I try to steer clear of the city and there's no need for that kind of stuff in the trees." He shrugged like it was no big deal.

"Kieron…we don't have to be here," I said quietly, lightly grabbing his arm. "I don't mind staying in the woods, okay?"

He shook his head. "We're both tired, we need to stop for a bit, and this is the safest place. Screamers hate coming to the city, so they'll avoid it for as long as they can, so it might give us a bit of breathing room," he said, stepping away from me, and further down the street.

I sighed, looked around, and followed after him. A few normal-looking people walked past us, but a few of them didn't look so normal. They didn't look like that one guy at the hotel, with the odd, scaly skin, but they didn't look human either. Then again they weren't human.

I kept my gaze focused on Kieron's back to keep from staring, because we didn't need any unwanted attention drawn to us. It was just easier this way.

Kieron moved through the streets as though he'd been there before, which left me wondering. Occasionally, he'd glare off into the distance and his hand would come to rest on the hilt of his blade, which was resting attached to his light brown belt. After a moment, he'd release it and we'd keep walking. I looked around but never saw who he could have been glaring at, but my eyesight wasn't nearly as good as his, and it was starting to get dark. There were a lot of alleys we passed by, and it was too dark for me to see down them.

"Where are we going?" I asked, after about ten minutes of walking.

"Someone's house."

"House?" I frowned and blinked at him. "Who?"

He shrugged and didn't reply, so I sighed and decided to drop it – for now. Later was another matter entirely.

After about ten more minutes of walking, we reached what looked like a housing addition. All of the houses were small and quaint, some of which had a front porch and steps leading up to it. Others simply had a little path leading to their door. Kieron walked up to one of the latter ones and knocked quickly, glancing around.

The door opened to reveal an older man with shocked wrinkles around his dark brown eyes as he stared at Kieron. After a moment, the shock was replaced with a sneer of anger as he held tight to the doorknob, like he was going to shut it in our faces. "What are you doing here?"

"Aldis," Kieron said with a slow nod. "Hello. How have you been?"

"What do you want?" the old guy, Aldis, asked. It wasn't that he looked exactly 'old', just not like Kieron. Kieron looked like he was around my age, so around his mid-twenties. This guy looked like he was in his late forties, early fifties.

Kieron rubbed at the back of his neck, sighing. "I kind of…need some help."

Aldis scoffed. I glared at him. "What else is new?" he grumbled, shaking his head before he stepped back. "Come in. You'll raise suspicion if you just stand there."

Kieron stepped into the little house and I followed after him. Aldis closed the door in our wake and walked toward the little recliner seated on the far side of the room. Kieron sat on the couch and I sat next to him, watching as Aldis moved toward the chair. He had a slight limp when he walked, and held his left side a little stiffly.

"So," Aldis sighed as he sat down, "what's it this time?"

"It's a long story," Kieron said with a weary chuckle.

"Then you best be getting on with it."


Hours later, I was half asleep on the couch. I kept falling backward into the cushions – so comfortable and soft! – and my head kept whipping to the side, which kept waking me back up. I also found myself sliding more and more to the left, and now my face was on Kieron's shoulder. He kept talking to Aldis, like he didn't even notice, and maybe he didn't. He seemed very heated in this topic.

For a while they'd been talking about humans, wars, screamers, and perpetuals. It was interesting and everything, but I was just so tired…and the sound of their voices was putting me to sleep.

"Are you sure?" Kieron asked, voice a comfortable rumble against my ear where I leaned against him.

"I think it's what needs to happen."

Whatever Kieron said next was lost as I broke into a wide yawn.

Well, if he doesn't mind…

Head leaning against his shoulder, I allowed my heavy eyes to close. Just before I slipped into sleep, I thought I felt Kieron put an arm around me.

But I must have been dreaming.


I woke with a feeling of foreboding. My eyes snapped open and I sat up in a rather large bed, clutching at the covers as they fell away from me. I looked around but found myself alone, but I could clearly remember Kieron being there before. "Kie?" I asked quietly, sleep clogging my voice. I cleared my throat and tried again. "Kieron?"

There wasn't an answer, and I threw the covers back and got to my feet, wondering how I'd gotten in the bed in the first place. The last thing I remembered was falling asleep on the couch, Kieron's voice a soothing rumble in my ear. I'd been so tired.

I was in some room I didn't recognize. Opening the door, I poked my head out into the dark hallway. "Kieron?" I stepped out into the hallway and walked down it. "Kie?"

"Terry, is it?" came a voice, and I jumped, looking toward the source of it. Aldis sat on the couch, book in hand. He peered at me over the pages. I gave into a slow nod and he gestured for me to come into the room.

"Where's Kieron?" I asked as I sat in the recliner he'd occupied last night. It was early morning now, sun beginning to seep through the windows. Birds chirped outside and it was the most normal things had seemed in a long time. Aldis's gaze returned to the book.

"He went out," he replied.

"Out?" I echoed, frowning. "Out where? Why?"

"He'll be back later."

"How long?"

Aldis gave into a slow shrug. "I don't know for certain. He just said he'd be back sometime tomorrow."

"Tomorrow?" I repeated, staring at him. "Tomorrow? He left for a day? What? Why?" A knot formed in my stomach and I struggled to shove the feeling away.

"He went to see someone."

"Someone? Who?"

He glanced at me again. "Do you always ask so many questions?"

"Um…yes?"

He shook his head and returned to his book. "Are you hungry?"

"Kieron-"

"-will be back," he finished for me. "Are you hungry?"

I folded my arms across my chest and sat back in the chair, glaring at him. I didn't know this guy and I didn't trust him. Kieron seemed to – after all, he left me here with him, so the guy was obviously not a danger to me. Then again, he might not know I was human. I swallowed and shifted my gaze toward the ground.

Wait a minute…

If I was here…and the city people didn't like perpetuals…

"He's not doing a favor for you, is he?" I asked, watching him.

Aldis got to his feet, putting the book down. "What would you like for breakfast? Kieron tells me you like truelbe."

"What favor is he doing?" I asked, getting to my feet, following the guy into the small kitchen.

"He's not doing a favor for me," Aldis said.

"Then what…?"

"I told you – he went to talk to someone. He'll be back soon."

I scrubbed a hand over my face. "He's not in trouble, is he?"

Aldis looked at me, dark eyes scanning over my face, calculating. "You are close to him."

I shrugged. "Kinda?"

Close enough, right? I mean, we were bonded.

He nodded. "His trip isn't dangerous, if that's what you're asking."

I nodded. "Well…that's a relief."

At least he wasn't in trouble, but he never mentioned anything to me about going anywhere. Hell, he hadn't even woken me up to tell me he was leaving and he wouldn't be back for a day. I sat at the rectangular kitchen table and watched as Aldis began cooking.

"How do you know Kieron?"

He shrugged. "He did a few favors for me about ten years ago."

My eyes narrowed. "What kind of favors?" I didn't trust their version of 'favors'. At all.

"A little of this and that," he said dismissively. "We haven't spoken in years. He looks the same, though. Of course, they all do, don't they?" He shook his head.

"I take it you don't like perpetuals."

"I don't mind them, but in general, no. Some are okay."

"Kieron?"

"He's okay enough. A little rude but he follows through on his promises."

I sighed, wondering what those 'promises' were. My mind told me to stop thinking about it, though, and so I did, because a part of me really didn't want to know. If he had Kieron do those kinds of favors, I didn't want to know, right? But then a part of me needed to know…

I closed my eyes and tried not to think about it.


I didn't sleep well that night. That day all I did was pretty much sit in the bedroom I'd woken up in. I'd tried talking to Aldis but the man was almost as allergic to answers as Kieron was. When night finally fell, I tried to sleep but my mind decided to hate me and keep running through possible scenarios of how things could go wrong. Instead I tossed and turned all night. I had just finally managed to get to sleep when the bedroom door opened and the bed dipped down.

Snapping my eyes open, I caught sight of a shadow moving in the darkness. At first I was a little panicked until I saw the outline of blue, shaggy hair. A slow smile slid across my face. "Kieron," I murmured as he crawled under the covers.

"Go to sleep," he sighed, burying his head into his pillow.

"Are you okay?"

He was facing me. His eyes blinked open and slowly focused on me. "Huh?"

"Are you okay?" I repeated.

" 'm fine, human."

"Are you sure?"

"I think I would know," he said with a tired sigh.

"Where'd you go?"

"Just outside the city."

"Why?"

"Had to see someone."

"Who?"

"You'll see later," he said, closing his eyes. "Go to sleep. It's too early to be talking."

I snorted out a faint laugh. "This coming from the guy who used to make us travel all night…"

The palm of his hand nudged against my shoulder in a light shove. I chuckled and did the same back to him. "Don't make me get up," he threatened. "I'm too tired to talk."

"But you're doing it right now…"

He opened one blue eye. "You interfere with my sleep, human, and it won't be the screamers you have to worry about." Then he smiled faintly, and I returned it.

"Night, Kie," I said quietly, burying my face into my pillow.

"Night…Terry."

After that, it was surprisingly easy to go to sleep.


I woke alone.

Yawning, I stretched on the bed before I threw the covers back and got to my feet, staggering out of the bedroom in search of the bathroom. Once I'd finished, I made my way into the kitchen, throat and mouth dry. I fished out a bottle of water and turned to enter the living room, where I could hear voices.

Upon entering, I found Kieron sitting on the couch next to some girl I'd never seen before. She was pretty enough, in that ageless kind of way. The air around her screamed perpetual. Her long, black hair was pulled back into a loose ponytail. Sheepish green eyes watched Kieron as he talked and kept his voice low. Aldis was nowhere in sight.

The girl was the first to notice me. She smiled at me. "You must be Terry," she said, and I shrugged and gave into a slow nod. "It's nice to meet you." She stood and walked toward me, holding out her hand. Kieron watched her and switched his gaze to me as I reached out and shook her hand.

"Hi," I said slowly, frowning.

Who the hell is this?

Kieron sighed and waved his hand from me to her, then back again. "Terry, Kleo. Kleo, Terry."

Kleo.

The name was familiar but at the moment, I wasn't entirely sure why. She returned to the couch and sat next to Kieron. Kieron gestured for me to sit in the recliner and I did so, frowning as I watched them.

"Kleo's my sister," Kieron said slowly, and I blinked as realization hit me.

"Oh," I said, "yeah." I smiled at her. "Nice to meet you."

Her eyes brightened and a wide smile overtook her face. "Kieron tells me you're bonded?"

I shrugged and nodded.

"Sorry," she said with a quiet laugh, "Kieron can be kind of a handful." She looked at him. "No offense, Kie."

He scowled. "Then why do I feel offended?"

"Sorry, Kitt."

"Kitt?" I echoed, raising a brow at Kieron, who scowled.

"I'm not six anymore, Klee – that name died a long time ago," he complained, and she laughed, shaking her head. I was beginning to like her.

Aww, he has a nickname for her too – Klee.

"You're still my baby brother, no matter how old you are."

"And how old is that?" I asked, because it was something I'd been wondering about for a while now.

"Little Kie-Kie is going on eight-hundred-and-three-years-old, aren't you?" She shoved lightly at his shoulder and his scowl grew.

I stared at him. "Eight-hundred?" I spluttered.

He's an old man! I had sex with an old man…an old…attractive…young man…

And Kie-Kie…hehe…so calling him that from now on.

"And how old are you?" I asked her.

"You never ask a woman her age," she chided, but there was still a smile on her face. She shrugged. "I'm eight-hundred-and-ten-years-old." She threw her arm around Kieron's shoulders. "And it's been nearly half a century since I last saw you, Kie! Where has the time gone?"

"Been busy," he grumbled, shrugging her off. She smirked and playfully ruffled his hair, causing him to scowl and send her a quick glare.

I grinned at the two of them. Despite the fact it seemed Kieron led an unusual life, wherein he was a perpetual and apparently that meant he had to be created because he was needed and not out of love, at least his sister legitimately seemed to care about him – at least, as much as perpetuals could care, I guess. That was something, at least.

"Well, un-busy yourself," Kleo replied, shaking her head. "How are Mom and Dad?"

"They're fine."

Hmm. Interesting. She called them Mom and Dad while he just called them Jo and Rhett.

"How's Ashy?"

"Ashere's fine."

I blinked. "Wait – where is he? I haven't seen him since…" I trailed off there.

Since we were caught and you were hurt…

Kieron shrugged. "He managed to leave in time."

"Oh?"

"I made him leave."

"Kieron," I hissed. "You could have-"

"But I didn't," he cut me off sharply, sending me a look. "So everything's fine."

"What am I missing?" Kleo asked, frowning.

"Have you been feeling…bouts of pain?" Kieron asked, glancing at her.

She shrugged. "Sometimes, off and on…why?"

"Well, apparently perpetuals aren't so perpetual after all," he said, a grimace crossing his face.

"Huh?"

"They're dying," I said quietly, and her gaze shifted toward me. I wasn't entirely sure, but I thought there might have been a flash of…something…in her gaze.

Fear.

She was afraid.

"How?" she asked softly, turning her gaze back to Kieron. "Are you hurt?"

He scowled. "I'm fine. And I don't know, exactly…there's this knife." He shrugged. "It's a little confusing."

It would be, to him. He was out of it most of the time. I opened my mouth to reply, to help clarify, but was cut off.

Everything was okay – until suddenly, it wasn't.

The door to the house snapped open, and Aldis came barreling in, eyes wide and a long cut down his left cheek, which dripped red.

"Screamers," he breathed, staring at Kieron and Kleo.

Kieron jumped to his feet. "How many?" he asked, reaching for the blade attached to his belt. Kleo stayed where she was, staring at Aldis fearfully.

"At least a dozen," he said, shaking his head, voice a little shaky. "Too many. Can't fight."

And then he pitched forward, legs failing him. Kieron surged forward and caught him before he could land face-first into the ground, and it was then I noticed the long, ragged gashes lining his back, red saturating his shirt.

"Shit," Kieron hissed, tugging Aldis toward the couch, where Kleo took him from her brother's grasp and laid him out on the cushions.

"Looks bad," Kleo said, shooting Kieron a glance.

I hurried toward the couch. "Anything I can do to help?"

Kieron stared down at Aldis for a long moment, chewing on his lower lip, before he looked at his sister. "Klee, take Aldis and Terry and get out of here."

"What?" I asked, blinking at him. "What are you going to do?"

His grip on the blade tightened, knuckles blazing white. "Whatever I must. Now go."

He turned and moved toward the open doorway. Kleo already had Aldis in her arms and began moving toward the kitchen. Apparently I was expected to follow. Instead I growled and darted toward Kieron.

"I'm staying here," I said.

"Human – go."

"No," I hissed. "I'm not going! This is crazy! There's a dozen of them out there! Do you know how many that is?"

"I think I'm pretty aware."

"So I'm staying with you!"

"You have to go."

He turned to face me, eyes scanning my face. I reached out toward him, catching hold of his shoulder.

"So come with me," I said quietly, my voice lost of its strength because I didn't like that look in his eyes.

That quiet, hidden apology.

The…

"You know I can't do that," he replied, voice just as quiet as mine.

"Yes you can," I said. "You can come with me, and…and we'll run."

"They'll follow."

"So we'll keep running."

"They're fast."

"We'll be faster."

"Aldis is hurt."

"Kleo has him."

He shook his head and smiled faintly at me. I barely noticed it when his hand came up to grab onto my shoulder, just as mine was on his.

"I'll buy you guys some time," he murmured. "So go with Kleo. I'll buy you time to get away. You'll be okay."

"I'm not leaving you," I said, shaking my head, because there was no way I could leave him here to do this. Not against twelve screamers. Not on his own. Not when they could potentially be carrying that blade… Now my throat clogged and it was hard to breathe. "Please come with me."

His eyes softened. "I can't do that," he said, somewhat painfully. At least, it was painful for me to hear it. "This is my job, Terry. This is it. I got Aldis hurt. I did this."

"You didn't," I argued feebly. "You didn't know."

"I knew the risks."

"You said it would be safer…that they wouldn't risk coming into the city."

"I…" He hesitated and looked away. "I underestimated them. And for that I'm sorry."

No. No, don't apologize. Not like this.

"Kieron," I choked, "what are you saying?"

He said nothing, only watched me for a long moment. I stared back at him, feeling my skin burn and itch, and my heart race pathetically in my chest. There was a lump in my throat I couldn't ignore, no matter how hard I tried to swallow it down. A certain desperation had my fingers tightening on his shoulder, digging into his skin. There would be bruises later, but right now I didn't care. I brought my other hand up and grabbed his other shoulder, squeezing tightly.

"Kie," I whispered, "please."

Please what?

Please don't do this.

I wasn't sure exactly what I didn't want him to do…but I knew it left me breathless.

He still said nothing. Instead, he leaned his head forward and rested his forehead against mine, allowing his eyes to close. For a long moment, we stood there like that, and it was so much worse than any words he could have said.

"Kie," I choked when he pulled away, holding me at arm's length. "Don't."

"Go with Kleo," he said roughly. He turned just as a hand landed on my shoulder, and no matter how hard I tried to go after him, the hand held firm.

"Kieron," I hissed after him. "Don't do this – Kieron!"

Please don't do this. It's crazy. It's suicide, you idiot!

Instead of following him, I was forced to watch as he walked out of the house, shoulders set and grip firm on the blade. When he disappeared from sight, I rounded on the person holding me there, keeping me from going after him.

"Let go," I snapped at Kleo, who simply watched me.

"I'm sorry," she said quietly.

And it was for so much more than holding me back.


There's that :) Uhm...hope it sounds okay XD Thanks for reading and please review! It makes me update faster :3

~Averick~