A/N: Hey, guys, here's the companion novel to Slow Burn :) I agonized over how to begin this, but screw it, here it is XD People hinted that they wanted the story to start with them meeting in the cells, but that would have to cover years of bonding/growth and everything and the story would just be wayyyy too long, so I will cover certain parts in flashbacks, if that's okay. Anyway, hope it sounds okay as it is right now!

I hope to have fun with this story. If you have read Slow Burn and its ending, then you know how this story will end. I hope that doesn't stop you from reading it, but you know what will happen. It will actually follow through with the ending. So, yeah.

I'm tired so I'm not going to say a lot, if I think of more to say about I will next chapter :)

Chapter length: 3220

Song listening to: "The Scientist" by Coldplay (AKA this story's theme song hehe)

Let us begin!

Ramble On

Companion novel to Slow Burn

Written By Averick

Warnings: Rated T for now, but could change easily. Story contains violent content, mention of abuse of various kinds, strong language, a slash pairing, and generally pretty much everything involved with Slow Burn. If that's not your glass of pineapple juice, return to the fridge and try again.

Chapter One: Exhaustion

Running was exhausting.

Not the simple act itself, but continuous running. With vicious mutations right on your tail.

Spear wiped a hand across his brow as he ducked around yet another corner, keeping his sharp hearing tuned for the approaching footsteps of the zephroes chasing after him. He didn't like zephroes; they were fast and vicious and lethal, but they were better than neutrohales.

Of the two versions of mutations to appear after M-Day, he hated the neutrohales the most. Thankfully they seemed to be less common, in the long term.

Snarls echoed from down the hallway from which he'd just emerged. Muttering under his breath, he stopped, checked his wristwatch, and knelt, dropping his bag next to him. From it he pulled out two separate charges. He'd have to connect the wires manually. It was on a short time release – as in a piece of wiring would slow the detonation down just enough for him to maybe escape.

Fix hated this idea. Thankfully he wasn't here.

He also thought he left the charges behind and dismissed this plan.

Sorry, Fix.

The footsteps were getting closer.

Swift, nimble fingers skimmed along the wires for both charges, connecting them to the detonator. Explosives were never his specialty, but he knew enough to do this after watching Jem carefully.

Guy's gonna be pissed when he realizes I took some.

Jem was careful about his explosives. He also liked to come on missions when they were used, to make sure they went off properly. There was no time for that, though. Spear took these nearly a year ago, for safe keeping in case of emergencies.

Definitely an emergency. Sorry, guys.

This wasn't part of the plan – at least not on the group agenda. Fix would be so pissed when he found out. He was the only one who knew Spear had the charges.

"Don't do anything stupid," Fix had growled before he reluctantly disappeared outside the building with an injured Tweak.

That left Spear alone in a building full of zephroes.

Zephroes didn't always travel together, but lately their numbers kept rising. Before they were groups of 3-5, but now they were becoming much larger, nearing a dozen. Some of them were also creatures of habit; if enough humans were nearby, the mutations would stay in one area. Spear's group just happened to be 'enough humans'.

They could also be lured into buildings. Make enough noise, leave a trail, either way they'd go to the building, and then they could all be dealt with at once. This just hadn't necessarily been the plan today. They were just supposed to shoot them, since there weren't even a dozen. Groups of more required explosive help, but this was an emergency.

Okay. Last wire.

If this didn't slow the detonation, he'd be dead before he knew otherwise.

That was something, at least.

He was so focused on the growls of the zephroes forever getting closer that he didn't notice the other footsteps. Didn't notice them until a hand roughly grabbed his arm and hauled him to his feet just as he secured the last wire. The charges didn't immediately explode, so he must have done something right, because he was still alive to look into angry, dark brown eyes narrowed against dark skin.

"Goddamn you," Fix hissed, shaking him. "Run!"

Too shocked at Fix's presence to say anything, Spear let himself be led further down the hallway. The zephroes rounded the corner behind them. More emerged in front of them.

Zephroes were taller than humans by roughly a foot, with elongated limbs with claws for hands. Those claws were sharp and lethal, but not nearly as dangerous as those razor-esque, elongated fangs perfect for ripping through flesh. Worse still was the after-effect of their bites. A slow, painful process for most people.

Fix deftly raised his pistol and fired until his chamber was empty. Spear lunged with his knife, slicing the rest to form a path down the hallway. Zephroes were generally quick and deadly, but there was little room to maneuver in a hallway. Not to mention they'd been fighting them for eight years. Eight years since M-Day.

Windows lined the far walls. Most of them were carefully boarded up, but one of them was nearly broken, only two thin planks left to board it. They hurried toward it and kicked and hit the wood until it splintered and gave way. Spear could almost feel the zephroes breathing down his neck. Turning would be met with sharp claws and razor teeth. Time was dwindling. Slowing the charge only gave them a minute at the most.

He grabbed Fix by the arm and all but threw him out the window, jumping out after him just as a resounding boom hit the air around them. Fire exploded through the window, the building groaned, and the aftershock of the air sent the two of them flying, crashing into the ground a few feet away, the air around them thick and heated.

No zephroes circled around them.

Spear raised his head, coughing, and glanced at Fix. "You okay?"

Fix coughed and nodded in return. "You?"

"Yeah." He got to his knees, then pushed to his feet, the coughing dying down. His lungs still burned from the hot air and getting thrown to the ground. "What the hell were you doing in there?"

"What were you doing in there?" Fix countered, tossing him a glare as he, too, got to his feet, brushing off dirt and grass.

"It was a building full of zephroes," Spear said. "People were hurt. I had to."

"Reckless," Fix snapped. "You could have killed everyone!"

"No one was supposed to be there! Everyone was supposed to be out! Why were you in there?"

"Looking for you, you stupid, reckless asshole!" Fix growled, stepping toward him.

Fix was a tall man with semi-broad shoulders. He was part something, as he had naturally tanned skin, though what his heritage was had been lost somewhere along the way. His hair was long, dark brown and straight, pulled back into what had once been a tight ponytail, but was now loose with strands hanging freely around his face. His eyes were jasper gems glaring back at him, brown and dark and angry.

Spear took in a breath. "I'm sorry. I didn't think anyone would be in the building."

"Except you."

"Yes. Except me."

Fix sighed heavily, scrubbing a hand across his face. "You sure you're okay?"

"Yes. I'm fine."


The punch wasn't unexpected when it smacked into his left cheek. Fix had a hell of a right hook for someone who never fought before M-Day. He'd been the bookish type back then. It didn't show now.

The pain was instant but short-lived, quickly turning into a deep ache. Spear's pain threshold was higher than most people's. Very few people knew that. Fix was on the top of that list.

As suddenly as the fist came, so did the lips.

And similarly to the punch, the kiss was not unexpected, either.

It, too, was short-lived, barely giving him time to reciprocate before the brunette pulled away, stepped around him, and walked away.

Spear took in a breath, rubbed at his cheek, and then turned to follow after him.

Regret was exhausting.

Not everyone lived through the mission. Tweak would be okay thankfully, but Jake was another matter entirely.

Spear didn't even know Jake had been injured. He would have personally made sure he was okay.

Jake was a kid. Only seventeen-years-old. He never should have gone on the mission, but he begged. He begged for days and weeks and months, always trying to prove his worth, and finally Spear caved and said yes. He said he could go, put him in Nixa's group because Nixa was careful and motherly and she'd take care of him.

But they got separated. Jake went off on his own, against orders, and got bitten by a zephro.

Zephro bites were lethal. All bites from a mutation were lethal in their own way. Zephro bites were slow and painful ultimately ending in a terrible fever no one ever made it through. Their literally burned from the inside out. A zephro's mouth was covered with infection of the unsanitary kind. It was like injecting someone with a million colds and diseases and the body fought it with fever, which ultimately failed and killed the person anyway.

It was a bad way to go, but sadly very common when it concerned zephroes. It only took a second for someone to be bitten. The wound could be minor, but if it broke skin in any way and blood was drawn by those fangs, that was it. The fever would come and death would soon follow.

Jake never should have been on that mission.

There was a knock on his door. Spear's head snapped up to find it opening to reveal Fix, tossing him a tired glance as he entered the room, closing the door behind him with a quiet snap.

"Hey," Fix said quietly.

Spear nodded in greeting. Fix approached him and sat next to him on his bed.

Spear was lucky in a way; he got to actually have a room to himself, along with a pillow and electricity. There were perks for being in charge, in a way. Sometimes. But not worth it. Not worth sending people to their death.

Being in charge really kind of sucked.

"Thought I'd find you here."

Spear shrugged. "My room, so…" He took in a breath. "Everything okay? Tweak okay?"

"Yeah, he's fine. Staying in Med for a while."

Med was their medical area. It got tedious to always call it something when there was no proper name for it. It wasn't a hospital; it wasn't a room. It was several long buildings wherein they stashed medical supplies, scavenged what beds they could, and attempted to keep people with medical experience. It wasn't perfect but it was all they had.

They were lucky to have found this place. They built several of the buildings and small houses on their own, with hammers and nails and whatever they could find. Other buildings were already here. This used to be an old apartment complex, adjacent to a storage unit. They tore down some walls, made larger rooms, and thus here they were.

Spear was in one of the better rooms. He didn't ask for it, but it was his. Again, perks.

"So why are you here, Fix?"

"Keep you from beating yourself up."

Spear chuckled, because he knew Fix would say that. This wasn't the first time this had happened. It wasn't the first time they lost someone and it certainly wouldn't be the last. It would, and he'd feel guilty because it was his fault, and he knew Fix would always show up here, in his room.

Like clockwork.

Fix held out a small, red apple. "You didn't eat."

Spear sighed and grabbed the apple. It wasn't much, but he wasn't hungry. "I'll eat it later." At Fix's look, he smiled. "I promise. Later."

Fix nodded. "We killed a lot of zephroes today. We should be safe for a while."

Spear nodded. "There is that."

It was good to not have to worry about them for a while. But they'd always return. They'd always hunt them down. There would always be another building to destroy, another mutation to kill.

"How's your face?"

"Fine. Thanks for the punch. Jerk."

Fix smirked somewhat. It was pleasant to see, considering the brunette was typically closed off in front of people. He went from the quiet, bookish type to more standoffish. Spear watched it happen in the cells, where they first met nearly six years ago. He was probably the only one who knew how soft Fix had once been.

It was nice to see the soft side emerge again, once in a while.

"I can punch you again if you want."

Spear smirked and shook his head, black bangs swishing in front of his face. He blew them back. "I'm good, thanks."

"I can do the other one, too."

This was said a little quieter, and those features softened, and Spear nodded.

Kissing Fix was laid back and easy. It was the only time Spear could really relax, because he didn't have to worry about anyone else. It was the only time Fix was in charge.

And take charge he did.

Spear didn't remember losing his shirt. He didn't remember losing his pants. He didn't remember falling onto the bed.

But it happened.

And that was fine.

Pleasure was exhausting.

Completely and utterly exhausting.

But worth it.

Spear grinned over at his Fix, who looked equally exhausted, sweating and panting next to him, just like he himself was. The candle faintly flickered in the background, casting orange shadows across the room, making the sweat across Fix's chest appear golden. Sometimes it was good to use a candle instead of electricity.

Spear released a breathy laugh and laid his head back into Fix's arm, which somewhat wound itself around him and under his head. It was a surprisingly comfortable pillow, but maybe that was because he was getting used to it.

They did this a lot, he realized.

"We have got to stop doing this," he breathed, allowing his eyes to close as Fix quieted a little next to him.

"You keep saying that," Fix replied, "and yet here we are."

Spear hoped his elbow felt like a knife when he jabbed it into Fix's side. Fix only laughed and lightly shoved back at him, leaving Spear opening his eyes to find Fix now resting on his side, arm still under Spear's head, but facing him now. Those familiar, dark brown eyes watched him, dark brunette hair held back in a messy ponytail which had once been tight.

"I mean it this time," he said, attempting to blow his own black bangs out of his eyes.

"Uh huh." Fingers that were not his own brushed those bangs back.

"I do."

"Sure ya do," Fix said, leveraging himself up with his elbow, shifting that arm under Spear's head a little.

"I mean it."

"Uh huh," Fix said, leaning down somewhat.

His lips skimmed across Spear's in that enticingly familiar way, and it took all the self-restraint he had not to tug that sweaty body onto him and get even more exhausted.

Instead, he smacked a hand against Fix's chest. Fix chuckled against his mouth and pulled away enough to look down at him.

"I'm serious," Spear said. "We can't just… just…"

"We can," Fix said, flopping back down next to him. "We do. We will."


"You like it," he said. "I like it. It's not hurting anyone. It helps."


"You know it does."

Spear sighed because this was true. Every once in a while, the stress became too much. Releasing pent-up energy this way was just healthy all around, and he did enjoy it, and he knew Fix did too. He always liked Fix, and he knew Fix liked him. But this was where he drew the line. Occasionally, this was okay. But nothing more.

No attachments.

"Besides," Fix breathed, "it's not like you could do this with anyone else."


True, but for a variety of reasons. He was in charge around here; that meant he couldn't just do this with everyone, or just anyone. Trust was a rare thing these days; he wouldn't dare do this with someone he didn't trust, and that list was surprisingly short. Nixa totally wouldn't go for this as a casual thing; she'd punch him if he tried. Jem was too laid back; he didn't need to do this to relax, and he expected Spear to be and stay in charge. Everyone else would question him, or expect more.

So he could only, would only, do this with Fix.

"Where are my pants."

"By the door, I think," Fix said with a small yawn. "You don't need them."

Spear chuckled. "Oh, really?"


"What if I want them?"

"Too bad."

"Too bad?"

"I'm comfy. You're not getting up."

"Who's using who as a pillow?" Spear asked. "I can move just fine."

Fix chuckled breathily, the sound close to his ear, and Spear turned his head to discover Fix had rolled again, this time right next to him, head almost touching his own. Those dark eyes captured his own.

"Don't go," Fix said quietly.

That was it.

Just a simple request.

Not a demand. Not a command. Just a request.

Spear smiled. "Too tired to move anyway."

Fix nodded and closed his eyes. Spear watched him for a moment before he sighed and turned his head back to how it was, looking up at the ceiling. Warm fingers tickled his side, smoothing across his skin toward his stomach, slipping easily across his flesh. The warm body next to him slid closer, the two now touching.

"It's not your fault."

The words were soft and barely there, barely breaking the comfortable silence, but they left him swallowing nevertheless.

"You know that, right?"


"You can't save everyone," Fix said quietly, and Spear closed his eyes.

His fault. Jake never should have been involved. That was on him, for letting him go. He was just a kid.


"I heard you."

"Then answer me," Fix said.

"Didn't ask a question."

Therefore he wasn't obligated to respond.

"You know it's not your fault, right?"


Fix sighed heavily and leveraged himself up on his elbow again. Spear could feel his gaze on his face but kept his eyes closed. He didn't need this right now.

"They knew the risks before signing up," Fix said softly. "They knew what they were walking into. It's not your fault."

This was something he really didn't want to think about right now. Really.

Fix was a great friend, but he was also easy to distract.

So he opened his eyes and sat up, connecting his mouth with the brunette's, lightly grasping at him, twisting them so that he had his friend pinned to the bed.

He'd always feel guilty for this; for distracting Fix like this for his own personal needs because he didn't want to talk or think about something. Always.

But there were just some things he didn't want to talk about, and Fix knew that. He knew he hated thinking about it, talking about it. A great friend, but easily distracted. That was okay, though. They both enjoyed this distraction. It was healthy.

Fix's arms wound around him. Before he knew it he was the one pinned to the bed again, but that was okay. This was one thing he didn't have to think about.

"No more explosions without telling me," Fix said quietly.

Spear's sigh was quiet, slightly muffled by Fix's lips against his neck. "Whatever you say."

"I'm serious." Fix sat back somewhat, glaring down at him, hands firm on his shoulders, holding him down to the bed. "Promise."

"What are you, three?"

"I mean it."

"Yeah, yeah, okay."

Those dark eyes narrowed. "Nick."

The use of his actual name left him quiet for a moment. He sighed, closed his eyes and nodded. "Okay," he said quietly. "I promise. I'll tell you before I'm involved in any more explosions."

A/N: And there's that, the first chapter of Ramble On :) Hope it sounds okay! Thanks for reading and please review!