AN: This chapter has been edited by Cerucci
"Kieran, dear, your father's ready to go!" Kieran's mother called up the stairs.
The seven year old red-headed boy rushed to finish tying his shoelaces. "Coming, Mom!" he called, jumping to his feet and running down the stairs. He looked forward to Saturday mornings out with his Dad; they would go to a movie theater to watch a movie his mother wouldn't approve of, then head to a candy store in the mall where Kieran was allowed to pick any candy he wanted.
"Whoa, where's the fire, squirt?" Ashley teased him when he ran into her at the bottom of the stairs.
"Are you coming with us today?" Kieran asked his sister excitedly. Until she met Josh, the neighbor boy, Ashley had joined them every week. Kieran missed having his sister along on the Saturday outings.
"Nope, buddy, sorry. I'm a bit too old for cartoons and candy," she replied. Kieran couldn't imagine being too old for cartoons and candy. Dad wasn't too old, and Ashley was only eleven.
"Don't forget your coat, dear," Kieran's mom reminded him, "It's chilly out." As she helped him into his light coat. Kieran could tell she'd been crying again. He wasn't sure why she cried, though she did it often, and when he'd asked Ashley about it once she had told him not to worry. She said it was for the grown-ups to deal with.
Kieran's mother worried with the zipper of his jacket. She zipped it to the top then touched his nose gently. Her blue eyes that matched his seemed to sparkle. "Come with us, mom?" Kieran asked. He always asked and she always declined, yet he hoped one day she would join them.
"No, you go and have fun with your Dad," she said, kissing him on the head gently before straightening up and heading back toward the living room.
The boy watched his mother's retreating form then turned toward the front door that had creaked open. "Ready, son?" Kieran's Dad asked, sticking his head into the house from the front porch. Kieran nodded vigorously as he ran to the door to jump into his father's waiting arms.
After the action movie was over, Kieran had all but ran to the little boy's room. He didn't even notice he'd left his father in the theater. It wasn't until he left the rest room that he realized he was alone. But he wasn't scared… well maybe a little. The boy retraced his steps, heading back toward the theater, only to realize he couldn't remember which theater it had been.
Panicking, Kieran decided to go in search of his father's truck, but he couldn't remember which big store they had walked through to get into the mall. After what seemed like forever, Kieran sat on a wooden bench and cried onto his knees. Would he ever find his father, or would he be stuck at the Austin mall forever?
Suddenly, Kieran felt an odd sensation go through him. It was like he suddenly had a sixth sense, or at least that's what he'd heard his mother say once. She said that all people have five senses, but some people are special and they have six. He looked up to see dark haired man sit beside him. "It's okay, Kieran, I know where your father is. We'll wait here together and he'll come." His accent was Texan, but seemed to be mixed with something else.
Kieran just stared at the man. Somehow, he could sense that this man was the source of the odd feeling. "How do you know my name?" Kieran asked the man, hiccupping through his tears.
"I just do, dear one," the man replied, gently removing a tear from Kieran's cheek. Kieran sniffled and noticed how warm the man's brown eyes were.
"Kieran!" Kieran's father called. Kieran turned his head to see his dad and quickly jumped off the bench, running swiftly to his father, and leaping into his arms. "I was so worried son. Ah, never run off like that again."
"I'm sorry, daddy," Kieran said with new tears coming to his eyes. Kieran's father held him tighter and kissed Kieran's hair.
It wasn't until Kieran was tucked safely in his bed late that same night that he remember the brown eyed man and the odd sensation.
Present Early January 2013
Kieran Pyrce looked out the window of the cab to the Victorian-styled house. He had been here before, but it had been years ago. He sighed deeply and handed the cabbie his fare with a mumbled 'thank you.' He extracted himself from the car and walked slowly up to the door. To say he was nervous would have been an extreme understatement.
He had been on a four month hiatus from all other Aeterna Children, and for the last two he knew he was being watched.
The last time he was here he had been eighteen and had known nothing of how "blessed" he was. Ha, he thought, more like cursed.
If he closed his eyes he could still feel the man's hand on his arm, pulling him away from the bus shelter and into an alleyway. It had happened so fast he hadn't had time to panic.
"I'm not going to hurt you," the man had said. He'd continued to pull Kieran along the alley to a parked truck, then deposited Kieran into the passenger seat and drove him to the Victorian house he was presently standing in front of. It had been only the beginning of the cursed life he would lead.
Kieran shook himself out of his flashback and rang the doorbell. After a minute, the large door opened to reveal a muscular man who appeared to be in his early thirties. The man looked at Kieran like he was undressing him with his warm brown eyes. Kieran faked a cough.
"Adrik," he said in his ever polite tone, "It's good to see you. What's it been? Three years?"
"No need to lie, Pyrce," Adrik said as he led Kieran into the house and took his overcoat. "I know how much you despise me."
Kieran faced Adrik and bit his lip to keep himself from stating how true Adrik's statement was. Adrik took a step closer to Kieran. Too close, Kieran thought when Adrik slowly raised his hand and cupped it under the younger man's chin. He ran his thumb gently along Kieran's lower lip, releasing it from Kieran's teeth.
"I've missed you, though," Adrik whispered. He leaned forward to try to capture Kieran's lips.
Kieran pulled away just in time to avoid Adrik's kiss, and he ran his fingers through his red hair. "I've been officially summoned by the Austin Leader," he said pointlessly, because he was sure Adrik was fully aware of this. He was also convinced that it was Adrik who turned him in and had been annoyingly watching him the last two months, but he decided to play dumb to prevent a fight with the Leader's favorite.
If she only knew, Kieran thought.
Adrik sighed. "She's in her room," he motioned towards the grand staircase, "and she's in tantrum mode."
Kieran just smiled at that. "Well, it's a good thing I brought this." Kieran pulled a large milk chocolate candy bar out of his suit jacket. "Prefer dark myself," Kieran said, winking at Adrik.
"You'll rot her teeth," Adrik called upwards as Kieran made his way up the stairs and out of sight.
Kieran slowed his steps as he got closer to the door at the end of the upstairs hallway. He took a deep breath to calm his nerves after his encounter with Adrik. When he went in to see the Leader he wanted to be cool, calm, and collected - something that was near impossible for him after any form of contact with Adrik Newman, the man who had said he wouldn't hurt him all those years ago. What a load of shit that had been.
He took another deep breath and closed his eyes, trying to forget the feeling of Adrik's hand on his face. After two minutes, he finally decided he was as calm as he was going to get, so he slowly raised his left hand to knock while his right turned the knob and pushed the door gently open.
Kieran stepped into the most epic pretty, pink princess room he had ever seen.
In the middle of the room was a mini round dining table, complete with four child sized chairs. Sitting in the chair facing the door was a little brunette girl with olive skin and hazel eyes. She looked no older than five, but Kieran wasn't fooled by her outward appearance. He knew that the girl was well over one hundred years of age, and that she had the temper of a lioness.
She had her arms folded across her chest, and she glared at Kieran as if she was trying to blow up his brain by the sheer power of her will. He casually wondered if she could indeed do that. He held up the candy bar and smiled, hoping to lessen the blow which he sensed was about to come.
She uncrossed her arms and rose from her chair. "Mr. Pyrce," she began, her voice sounding as fierce as a five-year-old's could, "while I may look and sound like a child, I can assure you I am not, and you cannot bribe me with candy!" She then walked around the table, snatched the candy out of his hand nonetheless, and quickly returned to her seat.
She began to open the candy bar. "Sit!" she snapped at him, her eyes flicking to the small chair on the opposite side of the table from her. Kieran raised his right eyebrow at her. "Now!" she spat. He quickly sat and tried not to think about how silly he must look sitting in a chair four times too small for him.
She smiled and popped a square of chocolate into her mouth. "I have changed my name to Lily," she announced imperiously. Kieran resisted the urge to roll his eyes. Since he had met the ancient girl she had changed her name at least twenty times, and he'd learned not to call her by a name until she told him what it was this week. The last few had all been flower names: Rose, Tulip, and even Daffodil. Kieran supposed that living over one hundred years stuck in a child's body must mess with one's mind, so he decided to let the girl's identity crisis go.
"That's a lovely name," Kieran stated, as he always did.
"Thanks!" she chirped, her smile widening. As quickly as her smile had appeared, it vanished, and her glare from earlier returned.
"We thought you'd all perished," she said softly with a pout.
Kieran looked at her with his eyes full of shame. "I know. I'm sorry," he whispered.
She rolled her eyes and huffed. "Is that it, you're sorry? It's been four months since the disaster, and you couldn't be bothered to pick up a phone and assure us that you made it out alive? We grieved for eight of you when we should have only cried for seven." Tears were running freely down her cheeks now.
Kieran admired the way she cared so deeply for all of them, as if she were their mother. Because of this, Kieran was tempted to tell her his secrets. But that would only deter him from getting what he wanted; no, not what he wanted. What he needed.
Kieran sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. He could feel tears in his eyes about to break through.
"I cried too," He stated, "they were my friends, and one was my sister. Now I have to live everyday with the guilt that I made it out and they didn't. The only reason she was in that building was because of me." The tears started to fall. He brushed them away and continued, "I just needed some space, I really am sorry."
Lily wiped her eyes with her hands and took a deep breath. "Okay, you're forgiven," she said sweeping her hand in front of her face as if pushing the issue away. "So, on to the next order of business. Explain to me what you've been doing exactly. Adrik's been watching from afar. He saw you with Lander. Please tell me that doesn't mean what I think it means."
Kieran's mouth went dry. "I'm trying to get in to the FBI Division here in Austin…," he said his voice only cracking a little, or so he hoped. The FBI Division in Austin wasn't run by the FBI any longer however. It was ran by Brock Lander, an egotistical, scary, yet extremely attractive man, of whom Kieran had been stalking the last two months. Lander and his team of misfits were paranormal investigators, one might say. Aeterna Children saw them as a threat to their way of life, so as the old saying went: they liked to keep their enemies close.
Lily let out a squealing laugh. "Are you serious? We haven't had anyone in there since Lander took over. He's too picky. How'd ya think you're gonna get in? Gonna smile at him real nice?"
It was a little unsettling that she was teasing him. He turned his gaze down to the table top. "That's part of my plan," he admitted, trying not to sound like he was pouting. Lander did seem the type to admire a man like Kieran, and Kieran didn't see that as a bad thing. "It'd be good if I got in, though. I bet I could find the Parker files. I'm really good at finding things." She just nodded at him.
They had been trying to destroy the Parker files in FBI's records and database since the 1990s. Kieran knew mentioning them was his ticket to get approval to continue trying to infiltrate the rouge Division. If it hadn't been for what they had, and what it could do to help him, there was no way Kieran would be attempting this feat, and that was because of what had happened to Joy Parker within their walls.
Joy Parker had been born in Austin in 1904. She lived a somewhat normal life until shortly after her thirtieth birthday, when she died from heart disease and woke up naked on Sixth Street in 1974. Joy hadn't known she was an Aeterna Child, and she didn't know what had happened, so the woman had panicked, and before long local authorities were called in. Eventually the Austin Branch had taken over (for reasons unknown to Kieran.) Apparently they had discovered that whenever Joy was injured she would heal quickly, and that she was stronger than she should be, both normal traits for an Aeterna Child after their first death. They had then proceeded to perform months of tests on poor Joy until they had taken it a step to far and killed her for the second time.
Joy's second awakening was in 1992. The Aeterna Children were better organized by this time, and Joy was easily found by one of them before authorities or the FBI team became involved. She was then sent to Florida for some much needed rest and relaxation time, but not until she had told the whole story about what had happened to her while within the Austin Branch. Because of this, Kieran was scared of the FBI, especially the Austin Branch.
Finally Lily grinned ear to ear at him. "Are you sure you want to do this? I could probably have you transferred to Massachusetts. They are running low on agents there, and you could be a great asset to them."
Kieran shook his head. "My place is here; I'm not scared of them," he lied.
Lily scowled at him, "well you should be, especially with Brock Lander in charge! He is not a man to be fucked with!"
The vulgar word coming out of Lily's mouth made Kieran want to threaten her with soap, but he held his tongue and stared at her in a way he hoped conveyed that he would not be backing down.
"Fine," she said shortly, "I'm giving you thirty days. If you aren't in by then you will be making the journey back East. Is that clear?" Kieran nodded.
Lily then got up and walked over to a pink and white dresser. She pulled open the top drawer, reached in, pulled out a small, but lethal looking, hand gun and placed it on the top of the dresser. Kieran tried not to cringe at the vision of a child holding such a weapon, but he noted that she handled it with the expert care of one who was fully competent. Lily then rifled around in the drawer, pushing items around as if searching for something small. Kieran was thankful she had taken the gun out first. Finally, she withdrew her hand holding a set of keys. "Here ya go," she said, tossing them to Kieran, who caught them easily.
The first key on the ring was obviously a car key. Kieran raised his eyebrows questioningly. "Adrik said you didn't seem to have a car," she explained, "so we got you one. He also said that you were living in a hotel, so we've rented you an apartment," she indicated the second key on the ring. "There's a GPS in your car, and the apartment has already been programed in. Number 705."
As Kieran closed Lily's door behind him, he took a cleansing breath. It was time to face Adrik again. He walked slowly down the hall and stopped at the top of the stairs to peer down at Adrik, who was leaning against the front door and grinning up at Kieran with all the innocence of a predator. Kieran wanted nothing more than to find a window to jump out of rather than walk down to face Adrik, but Kieran Pyrce wasn't a coward. He had spent three years of his life under the 'care' of Adrik and he liked to think he knew how to handle the man now.
"Guess I'll be going then," Kieran said as he made his way down the stairs. He tried not to sound too excited about the prospect of leaving Adrik's presence.
Adrik's smile faltered just a bit. "Well, shall I show you to your new car, at least?" he said as he opened the door and stepped through. Apparently the question was rhetorical, Kieran thought.
Kieran followed Adrik out the front door and around to the back of the house to a detached garage. Adrik lifted the garage's rolling door and gestured for Kieran to go inside. Kieran reluctantly obeyed. He immediately wished he hadn't, because, as soon as he was in properly, Adrik closed the rolling door, effectively locking Kieran in the garage with his new car and a man he despised.
Kieran blinked so his eyes would adjust to the dark. The only light to be seen in the cramped garage shone through a small window high on the back wall of the building. Kieran wondered what the probability was of him getting to said window before Adrik pounced. Really low, he mused as he saw the shadow that was Adrik take a step towards him.
Kieran decided that his first attempt to get out of this mess would be what he liked to call the 'keep calm and play dumb' approach. "It's gonna to be hard to get the car out with that closed," Kieran teased, breaking the uneasy silence and pointing towards the garage door.
It took Adrik less than five seconds to pin Kieran face first against the passenger side of the car. Kieran tried to just breathe and relax. Adrik held his wrists in a tight grip with his left hand while his right hand fisted in Kieran's hair, pulling his head back to expose his neck. Clearly the keep calm and play dumb approach wasn't going to work. Kieran briefly flirted with idea of the brute force approach, but knew that was a lost cause and would only leave him with unattractive bruises. He was tempted to go with the shut up and take it approach, but he wasn't willing to give in that easily. So he decided to go with the reasoning approach, and if that didn't work he would go with the hurtful words approach, but that too would lead him to a black eye or something of the sort. There didn't seem to be a good solution.
"Adrik, I don't want to do this." That was reasonable.
Adrik leaned his head close to Kieran's ear. "And you know I won't force you. But I've really missed you, and you know how good we are together. You know I could make the pain go away, even if it is just for a moment. I can see it there in your eyes, the pain that we all share," he whispered, then he proceeded to gently suck, kiss, and bite Kieran's neck.
It was an extremely tempting offer, but Kieran held on to his resolve. "I don't want to do this," he repeated, his voice only a little shaky.
Adrik stopped kissing Kieran's neck and removed his hand from Kieran's hair. He took a step back, released one of the younger man's hands and gently pulled Kieran away from the car. Kieran could tell he wasn't happy about being rejected, but at least he had released him and that was a victory. Clearly reasoning had won this round.
"Give me the key," Adrik said, extending his hand. Kieran considered arguing, but he knew there would be no point. So, reluctantly, he handed Adrik the keys. Adrik used it to unlock the car then pointed to the passenger door. "Get in," he spat.
Kieran rolled his eyes and got in the car. The interior was nothing too fancy, but Kieran took what he could get. He shielded his eyes as Adrik opened the garage door, flooding garage with sunlight.
Adrik opened the driver's door and got in. As he was buckling his seat belt, Kieran decided to try another dose of reasoning. "I could drive myself, you know. I know how to work the GPS, and amazingly enough, I also know how to work a car," he reasoned.
Adrik looked over at him and smiled "I'm not letting you go that easily, Pyrce."
The drive to Kieran's new apartment had been in silence; an uneasy, gut-wrenching, put up your defenses, silence. So by the time Adrik and Kieran walked in to the apartment, the tension could be cut with a knife. Adrik gave in first (or perhaps he chose to allow it to seem that way), because he tried to casually break the ice. "I bought you one of those fancy coffee makers; you still like coffee?"
Kieran mumbled a yes and a thanks, and they fell back in to silence. What did Adrik think? Thought Kieran, that I would just let bygones be bygones once I learned about the 'fancy' coffee maker? Curiosity got the best of him anyway, and he stuck his head into the kitchen to check it out. It really was a very nice machine. Damn.
Kieran turned back to the living area and saw that Adrik had taken a seat on the small couch that was in there. Thankfully there were also two arm chairs, so Kieran took a seat in the one farthest from the couch.
"So," Adrik began, "I think we need to talk."
Kieran nodded, so Adrik continued, "Everything I ever did was to get you ready for this cursed life we are forced to lead for eternity. I did all of it not because I wanted to harm you, but because I wanted you to be able to handle what this life may throw at you. I love you Kir bear."
Kieran hated that nickname. "Oh," Kieran said, his voice dripping with sarcasm, "I sure felt the love. I really felt it when I was 18 and you locked me in your basement for a month. I especially felt it through your 'torture to teach me how to deal with torture' training. Or the time you pushed me off the boat in the middle of the South Padre bay, 'cause I needed to know how'ta swim under pressure." Kieran was yelling now. The audacity of this man to claim love for me, he thought. "You know the worst part, Adrik? I thought you had to do all that stuff. That it was some kind of Aeterna Children regulation. But I learned the truth when I moved to Houston, didn't I? All that shit was because you are a sick, messed up bastard. Your day wouldn't have been complete until you tortured me, and then convinced me to go willingly in to your fucking bed."
"Are you quite finished?" Adrik said calmly, which only proved to piss Kieran off more.
Kieran pointed to the door. "Get the fuck out," he spat.
Adrik shook his head. "Not until I've had my say. I sat here calmly and listened to your adolescent rant, now you'll do me the same courtesy." Kieran rolled his eyes at the man. The way he spoke as if he still had some kind of authority over him made Kieran want to scream in frustration.
"You can sit here and talk to the wall for all I care. I'm going to get my items from my hotel, then I'm going to come back here to get ready to seduce Brock Lander. So if you'll excuse me…"
Kieran was reaching for the door knob when Adrik grabbed him and pushed him down onto the couch. He then straddled the resisting boy and forced his hands over his head. "No one is leaving 'till I get my say. Is that clear?" he hissed, his mouth a mere inch away from Kieran's. Kieran felt old fears creeping up inside him. He nodded his head.
Adrik got up and sat in one of the arm chairs. Kieran pulled himself up into a sitting position and rubbed his wrists where Adrik had held them too tightly. Kieran wondered vaguely if they would bruise. He felt like it was his fault, he had provoked him. He should've just sat there and listened to Adrik try to defend his actions. That thought reminded him of one of Tessa's friends in Houston: the girl had come the their apartment one night with one eye swollen shut and a busted lip, but the first thing out of her mouth had been, "It was my fault." That's what this situation was like. In reality, Kieran knew that if his wrists were indeed bruised, it was Adrik's fault and not his, but admitting that didn't give him a way out of this situation. He laughed at the insanity of it.
Adrik glared at him. "What's funny?" he asked.
"Nothing," said Kieran, shaking his head.
Sighing, Adrik began his rebuttal to Kieran's earlier rant. "I realize that my methods were unconventional, but I stand by them because I feel they are necessary. Seeing as you were the only one to make it out of Houston alive, I think you should see my point." Kieran rolled his eyes. The only reason he had made it out had been because he had been knocked out and hadn't woken up until the crisis had been nearly over.
Kieran noticed that Adrik had stopped talking. "Are you done?" he asked. Adrik sighed.
Kieran wanted to argue about being dismissed from his own apartment, but he wanted to leave even more, so he didn't. He just got up off the couch and walked out.