Chapter One – Not the first time
'There I was, just standing there, when what I wanted to do was forbidden.' Jason thought as he laid back down in bed after sending his younger brother, Adam, to do the same. He was still bathed in his own sweat, forcing his hair and clothes to cling to him. His hands shook fiercely and his body trembled as he pulled the covers around himself for the second time that night and let it all play back to him in his mind.
Adam had been standing over him and watched as he struggled in the watery depths. They were both much older but he recognised his brother or at least what was left of him. Even through the water Jason could see the anger burning in his little brothers eyes, he wanted to call out to him, to ask him for help but Jason could tell that if Adam was going to help he would have done so already. Jason kicked out in a feeble attempt to swim in the dark, icy cold waters but the outcome was inevitable. He just stared at Adam as he watched his older brother die through blazing eyes before turning away from the water's edge at the last moment.
He was shook awake to see Adam standing over him. He had yelled and jumped away but his voice had been sore. Adam looked shocked, frightened and worried for his older brother but there was no trace of the anger Jason had seen and after a few moments he realised he was staring into the eyes of his thirteen year old brother. Jason pulled Adam into a hug and it was then he realised how much he was shaking in his damp clothing.
"Was it one of your dreams again?" Adam asked, his voice quiet with a slight tremor. Jason nodded half-heartedly, he wouldn't tell Adam everything but he wasn't going to lie to his brother. "Do you, you know, wanna talk about it?" He continued looking earnestly at his brother.
"What? No." Jason replied dismissively and a look of disappointment crept onto Adam's face.
"But what if it comes true like last time? They say a problem shared is a problem halved." Adam persisted encouragingly.
"True? It was just a dream Ad, I forgot to take my medication that's all." Jason said trying to convince himself as well as his brother, it didn't work.
"Are you sure? I mean, you didn't see yourself. You were thrashing and yelling for help." Adam furthered, worry flickering in his eyes again.
"Of course I'm sure," Jason replied with a fake, light-hearted laugh, "things like premonitions don't exist in the real world, you've been watching too much t.v. Now go on, back to bed you." Jason told him and Adam complied, getting up and walking back to his own bed in their shared room. Jason watched his brother with slight fear before calling to him, "Hey Ad, next time that happens I want you to go get one of the adults. I don't want you to have to deal with it especially when I'm like that, I don't want to run the risk of me hurting you." Jason had requested. He'd received a nod in response. The adults at the care home weren't brilliant but they were stronger, unluckily he and Adam had been moved into the loft room because his yelling scared the other kids. Jason had demanded that he and Adam stay together but his sixteenth birthday was fast approaching and he'd be moving into a halfway house. He felt guilty about leaving Adam behind, the two of them had never really made friends at the care home especially as Jason didn't trust any of them, even more so after he found out some of the kids had been bullying Adam in Jason's absence. He heard Adam's breathing calm as he fell asleep. Jason got out of bed and paced. Their room was sound proofed which meant he didn't have to worry about being heard so he had continued to pace the room glancing occasionally at Adam. In truth he was scared to go to sleep, he'd told Adam that premonitions were silly talk but Jason couldn't help but see the strong similarities between his dreams and reality. He stopped and stood still, staring at his brother. He wanted to tell him everything, tell him about his fears, all about the dreams he'd failed to mention and about what really happened to their parents six years previous. He wouldn't, he'd forbidden himself from telling anyone about the reality of his dreams so he fell back onto his bed. The pacing hadn't stopped his trembling, in fact it had made it worse and he was still sweating. He let his thoughts run wild before he finally fell asleep once more.
The next morning Jason woke up to hear his phone alarm going off. The rest of the night had been spent in a dreamless sleep which was the best he could have asked for. He reached round for his phone which was playing Waking Up by One Republic. With the alarm switched off and his phone on the bedside table he picked up a pillow and threw it across the room to land on his sleeping brother's head. A tired groan emitted from underneath it. Jason sighed as he shook his head, "Oi! Get up, lazy." he called but received another groan in response. Sighing again Jason pulled himself up to retrieve his pillow but instead sat on top of his younger brother.
"Hey! Get off! Get off will you? I'm up now all right." Adam replied in protest, fighting to get his older brother off of him but his muscles were still tired. The two brothers fought for a few minutes before there was a knock on the door.
"You two better be up or you're gonna be late for school." It was Michelle, one of the care workers, she was the nicest out of them all and the only one that bothered with the two brothers. She knocked again, "Hello? Anyone alive in there?"
"Yeah, we're awake." Jason called back, standing up and dragging Adam out of bed. "Come on idiot, we gotta get ready, one more late and it'll be an after school for both of us." Jason said, making his way to the en-suite the two of them shared to have a shower and let the warm water wake him up and rinse the sweat off from the previous night as well as wash his hair. After the shower he pulled on some underwear followed by shirt and trousers. He brushed his teeth quickly but as he put the things back in the cupboard his hand brushed the bottle his tablets sat in, he was meant to take one in the morning and one at night but he just knocked the bottle out of sight again. Once he was out Adam had finally got up and was stretching his long legs.
"Jump in the shower Ad, you're starting to smell." Jason called to his brother as he crossed the room in a few strides, he dug around for his tie and a pair of socks before standing in front of the mirror on the wall. His eyes were still the bright green but lacked the usual sparkle after a tiring night and were harshly shadowed. His hair was damp and scruffy, a darker brown than it had been, his complexion pale and his lips were of a light red. He ran his fingers through his hair lightly before turning away to pick up his jumper, blazer and shoes. Once the two of them were fully dressed Jason looked his brother up and down.
Adam had black hair and brown eyes, cut short and gelled, his eyes weren't shadowed and his lips were a lot darker. Adam's appearance favoured their mother with a skinny and tall frame whereas Jason was taller and muscular taking after their father. His little brother's eyes were soft, kind and worked well with a smile in opposition to Jason's harsh, sharp gaze that only lightened in good company. Adam was too trusting in Jason's opinion. Their contrasts in appearance and personality made it difficult to believe they were brothers raised by the same parents under the same roof, even if it was only seven years for Adam and nine for Jason.
"You brushed your teeth?" Jason asked as he turned to pick up his bag.
"Yeah." Adam replied in a dull voice. Jason laughed slightly as he approached his brother, putting pressure on the youngster's shoulder and driving him through the door. Running down the stairs at speed they arrived at the bottom of the flights within seconds.
"Morning boys!" Called the same female voice from earlier that morning.
"Morning 'Chelle!" The brothers chimed in response as they made their way to the kitchen.
"Here's your lunches." Said Michelle, turning to face them as they entered. Her flowing blonde hair reached to waist length and shimmered in the light. Her eyes were of a crystal blue and always seemed to be happy. She possessed a slender figure and had an air of grace about her, "Now the two of you better run or you'll miss your bus, again." nodding in agreement the two boys made for their exit. "Wait, Jason, have you had your medication?" She called but her question went ignored as the two brothers bid their farewell and slammed the front door shut behind them. From there they had to race to the bus stop as they knew they were bound to be late. Luckily they caught the bus just as it was about to leave.
"Thanks." Said Jason as he pulled out his bus pass, his movements were echoed by Adam as the two went to find a seat.
Sitting one behind the other Adam leant forward to talk to Jason, "You know, you could try setting your alarm earlier then we wouldn't have to run." he said. Jason turned in his seat to face Adam.
"Yeah? Well if you got your butt into gear earlier instead of taking forever to get out of bed then I wouldn't need to and we'd still get to the bus on time." Jason retaliated, turning fully so he was sitting backwards in his seat.
"You can't honestly think this is my fault?" Adam retorted with a light laugh.
"Ad, we have this argument like every morning, must we have it again?" Jason sighed.
"We will have this argument until you get it through your thick head to change your alarm in the morning." Adam argued with a serious tone but a laugh in his eyes.
"Ugh, whatever Ad." Jason replied, "What lessons you got today?" he asked. Whereas Jason would be taking his GCSE's in few months, at thirteen in a secondary school Adam had just started his options.
"Oh," Adam paused after the sudden change of subject to think, "I think I got French and Geography, then Maths, R.E and Photography. Yeah that's it." Adam answered.
"Brillo, so we gonna meet on the bus or you gonna spend lunch with us cool kids too?" Jason continued with a smile. Adam sighed and shook his head.
"I doubt you and Claire scratch anywhere close to cool but yeah, I'll join you for lunch." Adam replied before allowing his gaze to journey out of the window as the bus pulled into the school grounds. Jason took the opportunity and slapped his brother playfully around the head before running for the door. "Oi!" Adam yelled and ran off after him, "Thanks." he called back to the driver as he attempted to tackle Jason to the ground. For twenty one days into January it was quite warm, even more so compared to the previous year but Jason still brought the collar of his blazer up against the winter wind as Adam slammed his weight into his left side.
"You startin'?" Jason called as he stumbled to regain his balance before he lunged and pulled Adam into a head lock and lightly punched his little brother in the stomach. Adam kicked out catching Jason on the shin. The eldest fell to one knee as the youngest fought to escape. Once they were both stood and smiling they went to resume their fight but a girl's voice interrupted them.
"Hey, Prose!" It called using their last name. The two brothers turned to see a young girl with flowing, curled, ginger hair and bright blue eyes running towards them. She was a few months younger than Jason with slightly tanned skin and a few freckles on her left cheek. A smile crept onto the brothers' faces as the girl stopped a few steps short of colliding with them.
"Hey Claire!" Jason replied, "You all right?" he asked upon noticing the downwards look in her eyes.
"What?" She asked, taken aback by the sudden question, "Oh yeah, I'm all right." she replied as the three of them made for the front doors.
Jason knew she was lying, he could see the falter in her eyes like others couldn't. "Come on, what's up?" He pressed as he held the door open for his two companions.
"My dad grounded me that's all, but it's for the whole week, including the twenty seventh." She told the two of them.
"But it's my birthday on the twenty seventh, you said you were gonna come so we wouldn't be stuck at the care home!" Jason protested.
"I know, I know," Claire replied slightly flustered, "I tried to get out of it but you know what my dad is like." she reasoned.
"Yeah, scary and strict as hell." Adam commented, siding up beside Claire. He didn't like the topic of Jason's sixteenth birthday because it was also going to be his brother's last day at the care home and he'd be on his own. Then came Adam's turn-off to go to form, "See you at lunch!" he called over his shoulder as he left.
"See ya!" Jason yelled back before turning to face his friend again, "So why'd you get grounded?" Jason asked curiously, Claire was always so good and hardly ever ended up grounded unlike her favourite pair of brothers.
"Dad doesn't agree with what we're being taught in History." Claire responded absent-mindedly.
"The witch trials? How can he blame you for that? I mean, it's hardly your fault." Jason returned in surprise.
"Yeah but you know how he is," She began, "We were at home on Sunday and I told him about it and how most of the women killed in those days weren't actually witches and how they were killed for no reason." she let out a sigh and laughed a little. "Well, you would have thought I'd just religiously offended him! I suppose I did really, he's all for the extermination of witches, kinda weird. Anyway, he started yelling at me, saying he never wanted to hear me suggest that ever again or even that those women could have been human. After I apologised he went out for the evening, muttering about, 'the nonsense they teach in school these days'. Woke up this morning and he told he'd grounded me." She finished with a smile, "So how was your weekend?"
Jason let out an air of exasperation, "Spent most of the time bagging up my possessions and trying to avoid the dirty looks from Adam. He's been sulking with me about this whole thing." he replied and ran the fingers of his left hand through his thick, messy hair, he really ought to get it cut. He readjusted his bag on his right shoulder as the two stood at a stand still outside their form room.
"You can't exactly blame him, can you? You've been beside him and protecting him since he was born, now you're leaving, it's not gonna be easy on him." Claire stated in Adam's defence, of course she thought the two brother's had always lived in one care home or another as Jason was never one to tell his secrets.
"Hey! I'm not exactly over the moon about leaving and anyway, I'm gonna talk to 'Chelle this evening about a possible arrangement." Jason retaliated.
"He didn't seem that upset with you this morning." Claire commented.
"Yeah well, it's your influence you see," Jason began, making Claire blush, "and I had another nightmare last night so I think he's a bit worried." he continued. Claire looked concerned and an idea sparked in his head, beside Adam he trusted Claire more than anyone. He looked through her eyes for any hidden secrets but came up with nothing. "Claire," He said, the serious tone in his voice caught her attention more than the sound of her name, "Claire, there's something I need to tell you but you have to promise me you won't breathe a word of it to anyone, okay? Can you promise me that?" Jason ordered.
Claire's voice contorted with confusion. "I don't understand." She said in a quiet voice, this was very unlike Jason to suddenly become so sullen.
"Please Claire, I don't think there's anyone else I can trust with this."
Claire nodded, sensing the seriousness of the situation, "You know you can trust me Jason, what's the matter?"
Jason crossed himself for a moment, was this really a good idea? Yes. "It's about my nightmares. I don't think they're just nightmares. I think they might be ..." He turned his head slightly to see a muscular blonde heading their way, "crap."
"What? You think your nightmares might be crap?" Claire asked in confusion.
"What?" Jason echoed, "Oh no, I'll tell you later." he replied.
"Why? Tell me now." She persisted but he just shrugged her off, "Come on, it sounds important." Claire retaliated in concern.
"Later, later." Jason said dismissively as the blonde haired boy closed the gap between the two of them making a bee-line for his favourite punch bag. Jason.
"Hey, Prose!" He yelled casually, pushing by-standers out of the way and making eye contact with Jason. The latter held his bully's gaze tightly. "How's your day going?" He continued, stopping in front of Jason, he was considerably taller than Jason and much stronger not to mention older but his victim was quicker and skilled, incredibly more so than the attacker.
"Well, not too bad really but it's a shame though because I think it's about to be ruined." Jason answered truthfully.
"You trying to be funny?" His bully replied, grasping Jason's blazer in his fist.
"Nope, you're the one who asked, if you didn't want to know then why'd you waste your breath?" Jason retorted with a smile.
"You want a waste of breath I'd refer you to yourself." He snarled but his victim continued to smile light-heartedly.
"Please Oliver, you really shouldn't offend yourself like that." Jason suggested calmly with a sigh from Claire.
"What?" Oliver muttered in confusion. Jason's smile widened at his bully's confusion, he couldn't beat Oliver physically but he could always out smart him as his opponents mind was a lot slower than his own but it only lasted for a brief time period, "You little git." he spat and threw a punch at his victim's face. Anticipating the assault, Jason ducked and listened to Oliver yell out in pain as his fist impacted the wall. Claire remained silent, she was scared of Oliver though she would never admit it openly. Jason feared him too but fear had become a good friend to him and he wasn't as scared of Oliver as Claire was. Oliver reached out for Jason's blazer again but this time with both hands, slamming his victim against the wall and throwing a punch in his stomach. Using the heels of his palms Jason pushed Oliver away from him but Oliver was already prepared to throw another punch when a voice yelled at the two of them.
"Mace! Prose! What on earth do you think you're doing?" It was Miss Williams, her sharp voice carried over the crowd. She was Jason's tutor and history teacher so he smiled at her as she approached, it seemed to soften her mood until her eyes fell on Oliver. "Why aren't you in form, Mace?" She demanded.
Oliver merely shrugged, "Was just about to go Miss, honest." he said sweetly before turning to Jason and muttering a threat under his breath, "Stop trying to be smart with me all right or you'll end up with something worse than a punch in the stomach." before turning and leaving.
"What?" Jason cried with innocence and a smile in response to Miss Williams shooting him an accusing look.
"You shouldn't let him do that to you Jason and you know I can't file a report unless you make a complaint, unluckily you happen to be one of the most stubborn students I've had the pleasure of meeting when it comes to talking." The teacher commented as she opened the door with her students on her heels.
"She's got a point you know." Claire told him.
"Oh shut up Claire, you're not exactly one to talk." Jason shot back.
"Whatever." She replied as the two of them dropped their bags and fell into their seats along with the rest of their form. "So what were you trying to tell me?" She asked, reverting back to their previous topic.
"What?" Jason muttered, dumbfounded for a moment or so, "Oh later, later." he repeated. Claire sighed at his dismissal of her comment but decided to let it go for now, Miss Williams was right, Jason was stubborn. The two of them spent form time in silence whilst they read, only speaking to answer the register with 'Yes Miss!'. Their love of English literature was what made them such good friends, even with the contrast of their ideas and personality. The bell rang out clearly over their heads, spurring conversation once more. "What lesson we got?" Jason asked, just because he loved the English language didn't always mean he used it correctly.
"Chemistry," Claire replied simply before continuing, "then you've got ..."
"Maths. Oh really? Do I have to?" Jason asked in protest, it wasn't the subject he didn't like because he was actually quite good at maths, it was the people in his class. Maths was the one class he had with Oliver and his bully delighted in reminding him of that fact.
"Yes and don't you dare try skiving again, you got in enough trouble for that last time." Warned Claire.
"It worked the time before that though." He muttered to himself but it didn't go unnoticed.
"You weren't skiving that time. You were forced to go to the medical room because Oliver had broken your nose and you were bleeding everywhere." She reminded him as they walked down the corridor.
"Oh yeah!" Jason said, the memory coming back to him as he touched his nose absent-mindedly, "Yeah, that hurt."
"No kidding." Claire commented as the two of them rounded the corner next to their class' door.
"Wait, how do you know that? You're not in my maths class." Jason asked, lifting his hand in a wave to a few people he knew.
"Well, I listen when you talk and you happen to talk a lot." Claire said, smiling kindly at one of her friends.
"So do you!"Jason retaliated.
"Never said I didn't." Claire replied, brushing a lock of hair out of her eyes, "Come on." she said as their teacher waved them in.