A/N: Well, guys... here it is, the third installment of this series... whatever it's called XD The "Almost" Series? "Almost Living" series? hmm... I shall think more on it, I guess. Anyway, I want to thank everyone who read and reviewed and favorite and followed Almost Living and Almost Dying. I truly appreciate it, and without you guys this story would never have come to pass. So, thank you. Sincerely. I appreciate it more than you could know.
So, I hope you will enjoy this third installment as well :) I already have roughly 20k written, working on chapter 5, so that's good, I guess. I tried to work on other stories and give this series a break before doing this story, but my mind kept going back to Kieron and Terry, and in the end I gave up and went back to them ;) So, yeahh...
I hope you will enjoy this story as you have enjoyed the others.
Chapter length: 4611
Song listening to: "Carnival of Rust" by Poets of the Fall
Sequel to Almost Dying
Warning: This story contains violent content, foul language, potential rated M scenes, and a slash couple (M/M). If this is not your glass of pineapple juice, please return to the fridge and try again. Thank you.
Chapter One: Statement, or Warning
I used to be nervous a lot when I was younger. Saying speeches in class were the worst. The more people watching me, the harder it was. I peeked around the corner, eying the growing crowd around the house we'd decided to use in this particular area. This was to be my first 'speech', or whatever it was I needed to do. I had to convince them I was here for a reason, and that I only had their best interests in mind. I needed to convince them Kieron and I were not a threat, but were here to help stop the Master and the Screamers.
It was quite a big speech for someone like me. I had no idea how to even start it. I'd tried note cards but they never worked; I couldn't get my thoughts on paper, nor could I keep track of what I needed to say. I wished I didn't have to do this. It would be so easy to leave, to go back to the human world, and hide away in the apartment. Kieron would go with me; he was practically glued to my side. For the past three days he rarely left me alone for more than a minute.
I didn't mind this at all. It was a welcome change, but was quite unexpected since my perpetual wasn't very tactile before. But ever since he 'claimed' me, he'd changed a little. He assured me it would wear off in time, but a part of me wasn't sure if I wanted it to wear off. I liked having him this close. I liked having so close to me without him worrying about being seen. Kieron was never bashful or truly modest; if someone saw him naked, that was fine with him. But displays of affection – though he would kill me if I ever called him affectionate – were strictly for alone in the bedroom. Now, though, he latched onto me and kissed me whenever.
And I liked it. It also helped that it irked Ashere to no end. He could deny how he felt about Kieron all he wanted, but I knew better. He might have been bonded to Blaine, but he'd always liked Kieron. Kieron had liked him, too, once upon a time. But my perpetual assured me that it was over, and he was with me. I accepted this because he'd claimed me, something he'd never even thought of doing with Ashere. It made this more special, somehow.
The voice startled me, though I knew it shouldn't have. It was one of the few times Kieron left my side. Now I turned to face my perpetual. His hair had grown a little longer, since we hadn't had a chance to get a haircut or anything lately. His eyes were still too bright to be normal, but he assured me that would die down soon. I told him I didn't mind; I liked his eyes bright like this, because it was all Kieron. It was him at his most open, and I loved it.
"Hey," I said somewhat weakly, swallowing thickly. "I have no idea what I'm doing."
He nodded and approached me. He never stayed away for long. He said this was because we were supposed to have an incubation period of sorts; we were supposed to have time to get used to this new level of our bond, but it was interrupted by Ashere and Bekkah giving us the news that we were needed in Ethereal. I was supposed to get the Etherians to fall in line behind the Perpetuals so we could all fight the Master and his army of screamers together. So, our 'incubation period' was interrupted. I wasn't sure if that was good or bad. Kieron wouldn't say either way.
"You'll be fine," he told me, stepping into my personal space. I welcomed him, slipping my arms around his neck, dragging him closer as I rested my head on his shoulder, taking in a deep breath.
Ever since the claiming, I felt this urge to always be near him. I could never walk away from him; he had to walk away from me. He told me that if I tried to walk away on my own, he might hurt me. He wasn't entirely in control right now, going off instinct. He said he would tell me when I could walk away, but he could walk away all he wanted. I wasn't sure how that was fair, but I wasn't complaining about our new closeness because he always returned to me in the end.
His head dipped down, nose sniffing at my neck. There was a faint mark outlining where he bit me to 'claim' me, however that worked. Now he was always drawn to it somehow. I didn't mind. For some reason that area was now incredibly sensitive, in all the right ways. Any touch he gave me was sensitive, my nerves igniting only for him. I wondered if it was the same for him, but couldn't bring myself to ask right now. Instead I breathed in the scent of him and tried to take what comfort I could from it.
"You'll be with me, right?" I asked.
"I don't know," he said.
I pulled back, eying him. "What do you mean?"
He sighed, looking away, averting those bright blue eyes to the ground. "I'm animalistic; not everyone is okay with that. I think it's best if I'm not out there with you. Some Etherians know of me."
In a way, this made sense. He was an animalistic perpetual, which meant he was mostly guided by raw instinct, and was quick to anger and aggression. This also meant he had this voice in his head which urged him toward more violent acts. Animalistic perpetuals were not supposed to exist anymore, most of them having been put into perpetual punishment in the Lake, since they were immortal and couldn't really be killed at the time. They were forced into the Lake, chained and weighed down, forced to forever drown, heal, and wake up, and repeat the process for eternity. To think it could have happened to him, could still happen, was terrifying. But I wouldn't let it happen.
I still didn't want to go out there alone, though. He said he was with me, whatever I decided to do. And yet, here we were.
"They're going to have to get over it," I told him. "We're a team and if they have a problem with it, then they obviously don't need our help."
He snorted, rolling his eyes before focusing them on me. "You'll be fine on your own. Ashere and Bekkah will be with you."
I scowled. "I don't want them with me," I told him. "I want you."
"You're so corny," he said with a quiet laugh, pulling me toward him again, his mouth pressing against my neck. I knew he couldn't help doing this; it was instinct. This probably would have been over by now if we had the appropriate incubation period he mentioned, but it had been disturbed, so we had to improvise.
We'd tried to get Ashere and Bekkah to leave so we could have our incubation period alone, but Ashere said this was too important to wait, and hurried us off to Ethereal. I wondered if he only said it was so important and that it couldn't wait because he didn't like seeing Kieron and me so close. He seemed rather disturbed at the fact Kieron nibbled on my neck in the living room when they first showed up, right after he'd claimed me. Whatever that meant, because I still didn't know, and Kieron wasn't entirely sure, either. Just because he was a perpetual didn't mean he had all the answers.
"They're going to have to get used to you eventually," I said, closing my eyes as a rush of pleasure slid through me as his teeth bit lightly at the too-sensitive skin, his arms tight around my waist, holding me to him though I had no desire to move away. I kept my arms around his neck, smiling to myself as his tongue flicked over where he previously bit.
"It's not that simple," he told me, mouth moving against my neck, sending shivers through my body.
"We can't be apart for very long, remember?"
He sighed and pulled back, which definitely wasn't my intention. "I can control myself for a little bit."
"That's not… I mean…" I sighed heavily. "You don't have to control yourself, Kieron. We could avoid that if you just went out there with me."
He shook his head, dark blue bangs falling over one of his glowing eyes.
"I don't… I don't want to do this, Kie," I told him quietly, watching him. "I don't know what I'm doing. I don't want to be the head of a war."
"And yet here we are," he said. "I told you we could run."
"But where would we go? We're still being hunted. We need… We need the allies."
He shrugged. "So go out there and talk to them."
"I don't know what to say."
"Just tell them who you are, that you're human and you can see perpetuals and screamers for what they are. Tell them about your abilities. They will realize you're here for a reason, and that the Master is the real threat."
He made it sound so easy, but I knew otherwise.
"They don't like humans."
I knew how much he hated me when we first met.
"They'll get over it," he assured me.
"Just come with me, Kieron."
"Yes you can," I said, narrowing my eyes at him. "You just don't want to. Are you scared?"
He scowled. "Of course not. I just know how much people are wary of me."
"They know I'm bound to you, right?"
"No," he answered. "Ashere didn't tell them much. That's up to you. You can tell them however much you want."
"We'll, considering my 'abilities' have a lot to do with you, I'm going to mention you at some point," I said, frowning at him. There was no way I could keep quiet about him, especially not right now when all I could do was picture him in my mind, how he was when he claimed me, and the morning after. Those glowing eyes…
My frown deepened.
"Can they see your eyes?" I asked.
"I think so."
He shrugged, pulling further away from me, his arms leaving me. I stepped back, giving him the space he seemed to want even though all I wanted to do right now was hold him to me. Hold him to me and never let go.
"I don't exactly know everything about this, human," he said, tossing me a quick glare.
I took in a slow breath. "I know, Kie, sorry. I'm just a little on edge. So, they can see your eyes? Is that good?"
"I don't know."
"Well, whatever. I still say you should come with me. They need to know you're not this terrible person just because you're animalistic."
Etherians, and even other perpetuals, seemed to fear animalistic perpetuals. They were said to be ruthless and cruel, without mercy since that was what they were bred for, during a war. They were needed. Then after the war ended, they weren't sure what to do with these animalistic perpetuals because they couldn't really fit into society, since all they knew was fighting. So they were mostly tossed into the Lake, or at the very least, treated badly by other perpetuals.
I knew a lot of people were wary about Kieron because he was animalistic, but he wasn't a cold-hearted murderer like they thought he was. He wasn't cruel. He could be ruthless, but not always. He'd been downright sweet lately, which I loved. He was a good person, a good perpetual, and they needed to see that.
If I was going to be leading anyone – though it still terrified me to think about leading anyone in anything – then they needed to accept Kieron for who and what he was. Otherwise, I wouldn't do anything to help them. My perpetual came first.
Footsteps approached. I stiffened but didn't turn around because I already knew who it was, and his presence irritated more and more with each passing day.
"They're ready for you," Ashere said from behind me. Kieron looked over my shoulder and nodded, before his gaze slid back toward me.
"Go, human," he said, nodding toward Ashere. "You'll be fine."
I shook my head. "Come with me."
"I can't, and you know I can't. You have to do this without me."
"I don't want to."
"Alpha, just stop nagging him, Terry," Ashere said with a heavy sigh. "He can't go out there right now, not with his eyes."
I spun to face him, narrowing my eyes as I searched his face, those brown eyes focusing on me. "What do you know about his eyes?"
So, Ashere could see them. For some reason this bothered me. That glow was mine.
"I know it's typically associated with violence," he told me.
"Explain," Kieron said, stepping forward to stand next to me as we both faced Ashere.
"It means the animalistic perpetual is less in control," Ashere said. "It's what a lot of Etherians feared before it was decided animalistic perpetuals were to be thrown into the Lake. If you go out there with glowing eyes, it won't end well."
"That's crazy," I said. "Kieron's not a killer."
"I'm not in control," Kieron said, glancing at me. "At least, not completely."
"They're gonna have to get used to you," I said. "I'm not staying away from you the whole time we're doing this, Kieron."
"I'm not asking you to, human. I'm just saying that I shouldn't be seen in the general public, that's all."
"So we can be together," I said, narrowing my eyes at him, "but only in secret. Is that what you're saying?"
He scrubbed a hand over his face and the slight stubble growing on his face. He looked good with stubble. It was this dark blue color, practically black, and very thin since it was barely there. Perpetuals grew facial hair – and body hair – slowly. He rarely had to shave or get a haircut, but he was due for one soon.
"I don't like it any more than you do," he told me. "But for now, that's how it has to be. At least until I'm more in control."
At least until your eyes stop glowing.
I knew that was what he was really saying.
I sighed heavily, looking away. "I really don't want to do this alone, Kieron."
"You won't be alone," Ashere said. "We'll be with you."
Yeah, like that's helpful.
I wasn't fond of Ashere, after all. The bond perceived him as a threat. Mostly because I knew he liked Kieron in a more-than-friends kind of way, despite how much they both argued otherwise.
"You'll be fine, Terry," Kieron told me, dragging my attention back to him. He offered a small smile, nodding toward Ashere. "Go on, human. Just relax."
I took in a slow breath, attempting to tell myself he was right, but somehow I doubted it would be fine, like he said it would be. I was so nervous; I had no idea how to even start talking to the Etherians and Perpetuals gathered out there.
But he was right. So was Ashere.
They already didn't like animalistic perpetuals; there was no reason to think they'd react okay when confronted with Kieron's eyes right now, especially if it was associated with out of control animalistic perpetuals. They were dangerous; they had a right to be wary of them.
But Kieron wasn't like that.
For now, though, I would keep him away from prying eyes, at least until his eyes stopped glowing all the time, despite how much I liked that bright glow. That glow of being Kieron and nothing else. Kieron, with no mental blocks. Kieron, running off instinct and trust more than anything else, letting me see him like this…
I didn't find that glow scary. It was hard to imagine how others could.
"Okay," I finally sighed, shoulders slumping. "I'll keep you my dirty little secret."
Kieron cocked his head to the side in that cute manner of his, frowning at me. "I don't understand that reference. I'm not dirty. You showered with me this morning."
I stared at him, gaping because was he joking with me? In front of Ashere?
"Kieron," Ashere said. "Terry needs to talk to them now."
I tossed him a scowl for always attempting to keep me away from him. Every time we got close, ever since he claimed me, Ashere seemed to do everything he could to keep us apart for a little while. He was why we were here now. He was why Kieron left me for any reason, even though he never left me alone for long.
Kieron once described the bond as a rubber band. It could stretch for a while, but always came back together in the end. Or it snapped. But I wouldn't let that happen. Our bond wouldn't snap. I wouldn't let anything happen to him, and I knew he wouldn't let anything happen to me.
It was a type of trust I'd never felt before.
I knew it was new for Kieron as well, after his rough life.
I stepped toward Ashere reluctantly, but I knew I couldn't avoid this forever. I looked back at Kieron before following the silver-haired perpetual out of the room, half standing in the doorway. Kieron smiled.
"You'll do fine," he said. "Just breathe. And relax. I'm here." With those words he tapped his forehead.
I smiled, understanding the meaning, and finally turned and left the room, following Ashere.
There's a lot of people here…
There was a fairly large group, scattered around the front porch of the house, where I now stood, fingers tapping nervously along the railing. Off to the side stood Ashere and Bekkah. Bekkah was friendly; I liked her. Her presence comforted me a little, but I was still a little off-put by Ashere, even though I knew I shouldn't have been. Despite the fact he liked my perpetual, Kieron would never go back to him. Not after claiming me like he did; not after losing control with me.
It was a type of faith I'd never felt before.
I liked it.
Amongst the crowd stood perpetuals and Etherians alike. Not all Etherians looked the same; some looked like normal humans – though they became defensive if you tried to say they were human because humans were not welcome here – and others had scales and looked reptilian and yet also humanoid, others different still. That didn't bother me though. Instead, I felt more off-put by the fact they were all staring at me.
"This is the human," Bekkah said from the sidelines, and I watched some of those expressions twist and contort into something irritated. "He can see everyone for what they are." Now those expressions widened a little, shock filtering into their gazes.
Sometimes I forgot that it was strange for me to be able to see them. I couldn't imagine looking at Kieron and not seeing those glowing eyes and that blue hair.
I wondered what he looked like to my brother, Tommy.
"He is here to help stop the Screamers," Bekkah continued, and then nodded at me. "It's all yours."
I swallowed, watching the crowd as their gaze once again focused on me. I felt naked under their gaze.
Oh, God, I don't know what to say…
Speeches were never my strong suit, after all.
Take it easy, human, Kieron's voice filtered through my mind, immediately calming me. I could breathe again, despite how nervous I was.
I don't know what to say, Kie…
Just relax. Tell them who you are, for starters.
Right. I could do that.
"I'm the human," I told the crowd, thankful I didn't stammer as I spoke. "My name is Terry, so please use it." Only Kieron could call me 'human'. "I can see what you look like. I'm told that's important. Um… I'm told it was foretold, somewhere, that I would come along and that something big is on the horizon." I took a breath, watching the crowd.
So far they seemed to be listening. No one had tried to snarl at me or attack me yet, so I assumed I was doing okay.
"I know you all don't like humans; I can't say I'm particularly fond of most of you, either. But we're not all alike. I'm not the same as some humans you have met, and not all of you are the same, either. So I hope we can at least find some middle ground."
A few murmurs started. I took a breath and closed my eyes, counting to five in my head before I opened my eyes and looked at the group again.
"I'm also bonded to a perpetual," I told them, watching them carefully now.
I don't think that's a good idea, human.
Are you listening to me?
You're kind of loud, and your voice carries. I'm just inside. I can hear you.
Good, then listen to me.
What do you-
"I'm bonded to a perpetual, and not just any perpetual," I told them, narrowing my eyes at them. "He's an animalistic perpetual."
Angry murmurs followed my statement.
Human, that's not a good-
"You know that since I was foretold, I do have certain abilities. I hope I don't have to use them on you, but please note that they are tied to my perpetual. His name is Kieron. I have incinerated screamers. Yes, incinerated them. As in, there's nothing left but ash."
I eyed them, daring them to say otherwise. Some of them looked a little nervous now. Good. They needed to be.
"If you say or do anything against my perpetual, I will not hesitate to end you." Then I smiled, watching them. "Am I clear?"
Some of them nodded.
"Good. That being said, I am here to help in the fight against the Screamers and the Master. You're going to have to learn to work together, with Etherians and perpetuals. That might be hard for some of you, but put your differences aside to face this common enemy. You can go back to hating each other when this is over."
Bekkah cleared her throat off to the side. I glanced over at her, feeling more comfortable on this porch than I did earlier. She mouthed 'Master' and I nodded, looking back at the crowd.
"I'm the best shot you have of ending the Master, Exrie. He wants me so he can rule Ethereal, but we're not going to let that happen. We will work together to defeat him and his army of screamers, and…" I took a breath. This was the part I didn't wish to talk about. "He has captured the Lake. I'm sure you all know what that is, so I don't have to explain it."
More nervous murmurs and uneasy looks. They knew.
"He is freeing animalistic perpetuals. I know some of them will join him, but I'm hoping others won't. They are bitter about their perpetual punishment; I can't say I blame them. I'd be pissed too. But please note that not all animalistic perpetuals are bad. Kieron won't hurt you, but if you attack him in any way, he will defend himself. And if I catch you doing something… well… let's just say there won't be anything left of you. Understood?"
You don't have to protect me, human.
I will not tolerate them being rude to you, or attacking you. Would you let them do that to me?
That's beside the point, human.
Not from where I'm standing. You've protected me enough; let me return the favor.
"That's all I wanted to say, really. I'm going to try to help in any way I can. We will try our hardest to defeat the Screamers, and defeat Exrie. Then we can go back to hating each other, but until then, we have to work together. I hope you are all willing to do what is necessary."
I took in a breath and turned toward Bekkah and Ashere. They nodded and stepped forward, and I stepped away from the railing. I entered the house, shutting the door behind me, before leaning against said door, taking in large breaths, closing my eyes, feeling shaky all over.
God, that was nerve-wracking.
"I think you did fine," Kieron said.
I opened my eyes to find him standing in the middle of the room, watching me carefully. I smiled weakly, waving half-heartedly at him as I continued to lean against the door.
"You didn't have to do that, you know," he said quietly.
I shrugged, pushing away from the door, my legs no longer feeling like jelly. "I wanted to. If we are going to work together, they need to know they can't be rude to you. They're going to have to trust you."
"Trust is a rare thing these days," he said warily, keeping his distance, but his eyes were still bright.
"I know, but we can't fight a war when we can't trust people to have our backs, right?"
He watched me for a minute, before he released this quiet, breathy laugh. "You know, for someone who says they don't want to be the head of a war, you did fairly well out there."
"I'll take that as a compliment," I said, smiling as I stepped toward him.
He closed the distance between us, slipping his arms around me as his face pressed into my neck again, where he'd both claimed me and where he first started the bond so long ago.
"When do you think your eyes will stop glowing?" I couldn't help but ask.
He stiffened. "It bothers you?"
"What? No! Of course not. I like your eyes." I took a breath. "I just mean, um… you don't want to be seen while they're glowing, so… I mean… I don't want to have to hide you away in this house all the time."
He chuckled faintly, lips pressed against the side of my neck. "I don't know when they'll go back to normal. I could probably go out if I stayed away from people and kept a hood on and my head lowered."
"Maybe," I said quietly. "I told them you weren't like that, though, so we'd be fine if they saw your eyes, right?"
"I don't know, human," he said somewhat tiredly, pulling away from me. This whole war had taken a toll on him, I knew. It had taken a toll on all of us, but him especially, since he was animalistic and he'd been the one in the fray, so to speak, while I was kept safe.
"I told them not to say anything to you. Or attack you."
"Telling them about me and them seeing my eyes are two entirely different things," he told me. "My eyes are like this because I'm not in control right now. At least, not completely."
I shrugged, smiling at him. "I kind of like it when you're not in control," I admitted.
He chuckled. "You're the first person to say that."
"Good, I'd hate to think I was repeating a ghost."
He shook his head, pulling away from me.
"Well," I sighed, "one speech down…"
"Many more to go," he finished for me.
A/N: And there's that, the first chapter of Almost Forever... which is a title I might change at some point, so, yep. I uppercased Screamers in some places because they are a group, but I also left it lowercase in some places too, because then again they are a sub-group, like perpetuals... so... meh, I'll figure it out eventually, I guess xD Anyway, thanks for reading and please review!