This is the first four thousand words. In the way of information that you'll need to know that might not be covered in this--I didn't worry much about world building since this was mostly something I just did for me and my friend and both of us already know the world building details--so things you might need to know follow: this is set in a version of our modern world where some people (called Organics) have super powers (telepathy, empathy, telekinesis, super strength, etc etc. Think X-Men). Jason is an empath and Vitas has telekinesis. Vitas also works for an international organization called the Covenant, which helps Organics out of trouble and also works as protectors to another class of super powered people called Elementals. Other than that, I think everything you'll read is pretty straight forward.
Also, since this is original stuff, I would reallyreally appreciate any sort of feedback--positive, negative, constructive. Especially, let me know if you're interested in seeing more of this :)
It was a typical spring evening in London. Which meant that it was cold and bitter. Jason was just grateful that it wasn’t raining. He turned up the collar of his wool coat as he left his father’s office building. He’d been working for his father since he graduated and he knew he was being groomed to take over the company when his father retired, but as of yet, Jason didn’t have any attachment to that building or to his job. They were things that belonged to his father and were lent to him, rather than things that he had for himself.
He was beginning to wonder more and more if that feeling was ever going to change.
He adjusted the strap of his laptop case over his shoulder and tried to ignore the headache that was forming between his eyes. He’d spent most of the day trying to keep the peace as his father and his CFO as they argued over ways to keep the company from tanking again. Jason was just glad the CFO hadn’t mentioned his uncle’s name…because as talented of an empath as he was, he didn’t think anything could temper his father’s reaction when that particular name was mentioned.
His father and his uncle Benjamin used to be in business together. About ten years ago, Benjamin was caught laundering money to finance his gambling addiction. He quietly left the company—no one had wanted a scandal, so charges weren’t pressed—and Jason’s father had spent the last ten years trying to stabilize the company again with varying degrees of success. It didn’t help, of course, that Uncle Benjamin appealed to Jason’s parents every time he had a debt he couldn’t settle. His mother always took pity on her brother and wanted to write him a check for however much money he needed—most of which ended coming out of Jason’s college fund so that his father wouldn’t notice.
But for the last few years, ever since Jason had graduated from college and started working for his father full-time, things had been quiet. Benjamin hadn’t come to pester them from money. His parents stopped arguing about money and Benjamin all the time (though that did meant that they went back to arguing about Jason). On the whole, matters were looking pretty bright.
Of course, when matters look bright, they’re never keen on staying that way. Almost a year ago, the company lost an obscene amount of money that had been invested overseas. Ever since, the company was on the continual verge of a complete financial collapse. No one knew if they were actually making a profit anymore.
And then, of course, matters with Uncle Benjamin turned for the worse and they discovered why he hadn’t been pestering them for money over the last few years. As it turned out, Benjamin had been borrowing money from a local crime organization…and that organization picked now as the time for Benjamin to settle his debts. Benjamin returned to pestering his sister for money, but with as tight as things were in the company, she had no money to spare.
The loansharks were starting to get dangerous. Threatening messages, that sort of thing. Benjamin refused to go to the police about it, which made Jason think that his uncle had been involved in quite a bit more than just gambling.
It was a mess. A great bleeding mess.
Jason was just glad that he didn’t live at home anymore. He didn’t think he could handle listening to his parents bicker over all this all the time. It was bad enough trying to keep tempers in check at the office. He didn’t want to do it when he went home too.
A flicker of a smile crossed his face at the thought of home. His flat out in Kensington. It was bigger than the flats his mates from college had—a small perk of being the son of a business tycoon, he supposed—but it was cozy and it was quiet. During the day, he’d thought about going out tonight, maybe hit up one of the clubs and try (unsuccessfully) to meet someone, but now he was highly considering just calling it a night. Go home. Make some tea. Put on a movie to watch.
It sounded heavenly.
Jason turned down the street, taking his usual route to the tube station. His steps faltered when he saw a man standing in the middle of the sidewalk, not moving as the crowd of people shifted around him. The man was large, a dark coat buttoned up to his neck. Jason hesitated. There was no logical reason for him to be suspicious of a such a person, no reason to think that he was the one the man was waiting for…
Nothing except Mum called you practically in tears the other day because of the large men in black coats she noticed outside her place.
Jason took a step back, then another. He turned around and turned down a lesser-used road. There was another tube station back in the other direction. It didn’t have as convenient a connection to the Circle line, but if he took Central, he could get to the Circle line eventually. It would just take longer.
Not that it mattered. It wasn’t like anyone was waiting for him at home.
He buried his hands in his pockets and kept his head down as he walked. He didn’t like the faint taste of paranoia left in his mouth. He didn’t like that this mess with Uncle Benjamin was disturbing his life and his routine. He sighed. Maybe he could talk to Uncle Benjamin, convince him to talk to the police. Benjamin had always been fond of him—even after he found out that Jason was gay. The same couldn’t be said of all of Jason’s relatives.
It would throw off his plans of a quiet night at home, but really, enough was enough.
Jason knocked into someone as he walked, a consequence of not taking his eyes off the ground. He stumbled back a step.
“Sorry,” he muttered.
Jason’s head jerked up. Right in front of him was another large man in a dark coat. He looked almost identical to the man he saw in the other direction. He glanced over his shoulder. There was no one behind him.
“Can I help you?” Jason asked. His heart was pounding in his chest, but one of the many useful things about being an empath was that he was naturally very good at hiding his own emotions.
What he was less good at hiding was the tightness in chest, a precursor to the asthma attacks that always hit him when he was overly stressed or upset. He tried to take a deep breath, as though to remind his lungs how to work properly.
The man smiled at him. “I’d like to have a little chat, Mr. Sharpe.”
“I’m afraid I don’t have the time. Someone’s expecting me for dinner.”
The man laughed. “Don’t be foolish, Mr. Sharpe. We both know no one’s waiting for you. Now why don’t you come with me, and we’ll have our little chat. Won’t take long, I promise.”
Jason glanced around. This part of the street was practically deserted and no one seemed to be paying them any attention. Hell. He fished his wallet out of his pocket and thrust it at the other man. “Look, if it’s money you’re after, take it. I don’t care. But I really—”
“Oh, it’s not your money I want, Jason. Do you mind if I call you Jason? I just need you to deliver a little message to your uncle.”
Buggershitshit. Jason dropped his wallet and his laptop case and tried to run. He was a fast runner, had plenty of experience trying to outrun the bullies in grade school and the various cousins who thought he was despicable because he was gay.
It turned out the other man was a fast runner, too. Jason only made it a handful of meters before something clobbered him over the back of the head. He got a nice view of the ground rushing up to greet him like an old lover before he blacked out completely.
Vitas stepped out of the shower and wrapped a towel around his waist. He could hear his phone buzzing out on the counter. Probably Spence, reminding him once more that they were meeting at the pub outside Picadilly Circus, and not the club of the same name in Southwick. The man could be a little neurotic at times, but Vitas couldn’t really blame him. They’d been dating for six months now and Spence had been trying to get him to this pub for weeks and weeks, and this was the first night that they both had free in ages.
He stepped out into the kitchen and grabbed his mobile off the counter. The call wasn’t from Spence, but from his uncle. He sighed. This could be good or bad, but either easy, he had to answer the call. He hit the accept call button the phone.
“Hey Uncle Flynn.”
“Vitas? I’ve been trying to reach you for almost twenty minutes now.”
“Sorry, I was in the shower. Is this business or family?” Please be family. Please be family. He could skip out on a family gathering, even though it mean stepping on a few people’s toes to do so.
“Damn,” he muttered. He walked back into his bedroom and pulled some clothes out of his drawer. “What do you need?”
He loved his job, he really did. But it was times like this when it was damn annoying.
“Are you in London right now?”
“Good. We got a call from an Organic family—the Sharpes. They’ve run into some trouble with an organization calling themselves the Freedom Coalition.”
“What kind of trouble?” Maybe there would be a way for him to talk himself out of this assignment. Maybe there was someone else who was better equipped to deal with this than he was. After all, if it was the sort of trouble that needed to be handled delicately, he definitely wasn’t the man for the job. That sort of thing was better handled by his sister.
“I guess Mrs. Sharpe’s brother owes these people quite a bit of money. He’s late on paying them back, so they decided to take it out on his nephew—Mr. and Mrs. Sharpe’s son, Jason. He’s in the hospital right now. We’re still trying to figure out what’s going on and I’m on the train to London right now.”
“So what do you need me to do?”
“Verity’s already at the hospital trying to talk to Mr. and Mrs. Sharpe, but I don’t want her there alone. From my understanding, this whole situation is getting stickier by the moment. I just need you to be at the hospital with her in case something comes up.”
“Of course.” Damn it. Spence was going to be furious about this, but there really wasn’t anything he could do. “Which hospital am I going to?”
Flynn gave him the address, which Vitas jotted down on a scrap of paper.
“Anything else?” Vitas asked.
“No. I’ll be in London within the hour.”
“I’ll see you then,” he said and hung up the phone. He dragged his hand through his wet hair. Work before pleasure, as always. He just wished the two didn’t interfere with each other so much.
He threw on some clothes, shoved his feet into a pair of boots, and grabbed his coat, hastily locking the door behind him. He called Spence as he walked to the tube station. The hospital the Sharpes were at wasn’t too far from here, otherwise he’d take a cab.
“Hey, handsome,” Spence said when he answered the phone. “I didn’t expect to hear from you until tonight.”
Vitas cringed. Spence just sounded so happy to hear from him and he knew what he had to say was going to make the other man angry. “About that,” he said.
“We’re not doing this again, Vitas.”
“Look, I’m sorry, but I got a call from my boss, and I have—”
“We’ve been planning this for weeks.”
“I know, I know.” He took a deep breath. “But it’s an emergency. I can’t just not go.”
And this was the biggest problem with his job. Spence knew that he worked with government, but it wasn’t as though Vitas could just come out and tell him that he worked for MI6—more specifically that he worked for an international sub-group of MI6 that had connections with some of the most powerful people in the world. “It’s an emergency, Spence. You know I wouldn’t bail on you if it wasn’t.”
“How many more times am I going to have to put up with this, Vitas?”
“I’m sorry,” he said. He swiped his Oyster card at the barrier into the tube station. “I swear, I’ll make it up to you.”
Vitas didn’t need to be an empath like his sister to know that Spence was hurt and upset. He
waited at the top of the escalator so he wouldn’t lose signal on his phone. “I promise. Look, maybe this won’t take too long. I can give you a call once I get done.”
“I’ll talk to you tomorrow, okay?”
“Okay,” Vitas said. “I love you.”
“Yeah,” Spence said. “Love you too.”
Vitas hung up the phone and slipped it into his pocket. Perfect. Just buggering perfect. But now wasn’t the time to be worrying about it. He bought a cup of coffee at one of the shops in the station and took the escalator down.
Two stops later, he was at the hospital. He flashed his badge at the nurse sitting at the main desk and she directed to where he could find the Sharpes up on the third floor. Vitas took the stairs, still feeling too worked up over the almost-fight he’d had with Spencer to be content standing still in an elevator. He followed the signs posted to find the right room but paused when he saw his sister and two middle-aged adults—Mr. and Mrs. Sharpe, he presumed—alone in an empty patients room. Verity had that look of exasperation that normally only he could cause. Obviously, whatever they were talking about wasn’t going over that well. He rapped his knuckle on the glass window to get Verity’s attention.
She smiled at him when she spotted him and quickly made her excuses with the Sharpes. She stepped out of the room, closing the door behind her.
“Is that coffee for me?” she asked, taking it from his hands before he could even answer. “You’re a god send.”
“Of course I am,” Vitas said. He looked over his shoulder at the couple in the room. They were talking, but neither looked exactly pleased with the other. “Everything going well then?”
“About as well as herding cats. These people…” she shook her head. “Their son is in the hospital, so I get that their upset, but they could really benefit from some serious professional
“And it doesn’t help that their son is apparently an empath. They’re used to having someone work over their emotions, so I have to try extra hard just to keep them calm enough to explain what’s going on. If I slip up just a fraction, they start yelling at each other.”
Vitas watched Mrs. Sharpe slam her hand against a table. “If you had just kept lending my brother the money, none of this would have happened! He never would have gone to those people and Jason would never have been attacked!”
“Maybe if your son was a real man, he’d have been able to fight them off!”
Frustration flashed over Verity’s face and she quickly calmed everyone down, clearly not caring how heavy-handed she was being with her gift. “Like that,” she said.
“Anything you need me to do?” he said. If he wasn’t so sure of his sister’s ability to keep these people in line, he wouldn’t let her go back in there alone. He didn’t like the idea of a man with those kinds of anger management issues anywhere near his sister.
But she could handle herself…as she was so kind to always remind him.
“Could you talk to the son? Jason? He’s just down the hall,” she said. “It’d be easier to talk to them all at once, but the nurses said that Jason doesn’t need this kind of stimulation right now, and when they started shouting at each other back there, I could feel him trying to calm them down. And trust me when I say, he’s in no condition to be trying anything like that right now.”
“Talk to the boy,” Vitas said. “Got it.”
“Jason, the son? He’s our age, Vitas. You’re talking to a man, not a boy.”
“Right,” Vitas said.
Verity smirked. “He’s cute, too. And rich.”
“Oh, shut up.”
He shook his head. “Let me know if you need anything.”
“Of course. Jason’s room is third on the left.” She held up the coffee cup. “Thanks for the drink. I’ll buy you some when we leave.”
Vitas knocked on the door to Jason’s room before he opened it. He poked his head in. “Jason Sharpe?” he asked.
The man in the hospital bed turned to look at him, and even though his face was bruised and
there was a row of stitches that from the corner of his nose straight down to his chin, Vitas could see what his sister meant. Behind the discoloration and the kicked-puppy expression was a handsome man.
“Can I help you?” Jason asked.
“Yes, my name is Vitas LaMontagne. I believe you spoke to my sister earlier?”
Vitas let himself into the room. He left the door cracked open behind him and took a seat on one of the uncomfortable looking chairs beside Jason’s bed. “I just wanted to ask you some questions about what happened.”
Jason readjusted himself against the pillows he was propped up against. Pain flickered across his face as he moved. “I don’t really know what I can tell you,” he said. “I was barely conscious for most of this.”
Which was probably for the best, Vitas thought. Most of the damage done seemed to be pretty superficial, but it was clear that it was painful now. And quite likely it had been a dozen times more painful when it’d been inflicted.
“No worries. Anything you can tell us will help. So first things first, are you sure the men you uncle is in trouble with were responsible for this or do you think it was a hate crime?”
“Why would this be a hate crime?”
“Well, you’re gay, aren’t you?”
Vitas saw a flush rise up in Jason’s cheeks. “I am not.”
“It’s not like I have any problem with it,” Vitas said, shrugging a little. He knew plenty of gay men who still struggled with their orientation, though it was never a struggle that Vitas had had for himself. He knew as a teenager that he wasn’t interested in girls, and he had never really given his family the option of not being okay with that. “But before the Covenant get involved an further, we need to know if this is because of your uncle’s gambling problems or if there’s just some prick ass out there who has a problem with the fact that you’d rather shag a bloke than a bint.”
“I told you, I’m not—”
Vitas raised an eyebrow, effectively cutting the other man off.
Jason sighed and sagged against his pillows. “How did you know?”
Vitas smiled. “I have an impeccable gaydar.”
“Seriously?” Vitas repeated. “I overheard your dad shouting something about you not being a
‘real man,’ and in my experience, that means either you’re gay or a virgin…or maybe both. Not that it’s really any of my business. I dated this bloke back in college who’s parents were always pulling that ‘real man’ shit. When he was a teenager, his dad hired a prostitute to ‘make a real man’ out of him. As you can imagine, that only solidified his preferences. But there you have it.”
“It’s just not something we talk about in my family. Not unless you want to spend the rest of the night shouting at each other.”
Which, Vitas knew having grown up with an empath, was something Jason would try to avoid.
“My father thinks this is just a phase I’m going through and no one at the office has any idea. Not that you need me unloading all of this on you,” Jason said, his smile turning into a wince when it pulled at his stitches. “But, for the record, the men who did this told me that they wanted me to deliver a message to my uncle…so unless that message was ‘gays are bad,’ I think we can rule out the hate crime angle.”
Vitas laughed. So Jason was cute, rich, and funny. He was turning into quite the triple threat. “Did they say anything else about your uncle?”
“Not that I can remember. They were kind enough, though, to pin a note to the lapel of my coat when they left me outside my uncle’s flat. Just to make sure he got the message.”
“Thoughtful of them,” Vitas said dryly.
“Yeah. A real class act.”
“Do you remember what they said at all while they were working you over?”
Jason looked at the whitewashed wall across from his bed. His expression was carefully blank, but his eyes had a haunted look to them. No doubt a habit he had developed over the years after dealing with people who were disgusted with him. “Just what you’d expect,” Jason said. “The jabs at my sexuality. Slurs, that sort of thing. Nothing I haven’t heard before, of course, but…”
“But not what you want to hear while people are beating the crap out of you, yeah.” And definitely not the sort of thing you want to hear your dad ranting about when you’re in the hospital. Vitas took a deep breath, trying to check his temper. He’d dealt with his fair share of bigots and homophobes. They normally left him alone since he made it very clear that he had no qualms beating the shit out of anyone who gave him a hard time, but he knew not everyone could rely on that. And it incensed him to think that anyone thought they could get away with being such a prick.
But Jason had spent several hours getting knocked around by angry men. Probably the last thing he needed now was to have another angry man questioning him about it. Still, all the more reason to find the bastards who did this and make sure they paid for it.
“So you don’t remember them saying much,” Vitas said, getting them back on task, “do you remember what they looked like?”
“There were three of them—large men, all dressed in dark clothes. I think two of them were related. Brothers. Cousins at the most. They had the same eyes—dark and deep set. And they had similar noses. Thin, but a little crooked, you know? Both of them had brown hair. The third man was blonde and he had a scar on his neck and he had this mole above his right eyebrow.”
Vitas listened to him describe the men. It sounded like he was rattling off a list he had memorized. Most victims of violent crimes couldn’t remember details like that. Most of them were lucky to remember what skin color their attackers had, and being able to rattle off a list like this was practically unheard of. It made him wonder if Jason had focused on these physical descriptors to take his mind off the pain. It made him wonder if this was something he’d had experience in.
“Any other tattoos or scars? Notable jewelery?”
Jason shook his head.
“Any chance they mentioned any names?”
“Just mine.” He paused for a moment. “They knew my name. They knew where I worked, when I got off, and what route I normally took home. They knew I was gay, when not even my coworkers know that. Do you think they were following me?”
Vitas nodded. “Probably for a few weeks, by the sound of it. Are you close to your uncle?”
“They probably targeted a relative he was most fond of, since he doesn’t have any children of his
own.” And they probably did their research. They probably knew that Jason had been beat on and bullied as a child. Probably thought it would make him an easier target. Vitas sincerely hoped that he’d get to come along when Flynn dealt with these goons.
“Are you okay?” Jason asked.
“Your emotions just spiked,” he said. “Like you were upset over something.”
“I thought you were supposed to be taking it easy,” Vitas said.
“It’s not like it’s something I can just turn off.”
Of course it wasn’t. Even more of a reason for Vitas to keep his temper in check. He didn’t need to be bombarding the poor man with his emotional response. “It’s fine. Stuff like this just makes me angry.Do you know where these men took you?”
Jason shook his head. “They knocked me out and shoved me in the back of the car. I didn’t wake up until after I was…wherever we were.”
“You said they left you outside your uncle’s flat? Do you remember how got there?”
“Sorry,” Jason said, shaking his head again. “I passed out again.”
“Yeah, blunt force trauma will do that to you,” Vitas said. “What about the building you were
in? Do you remember any details there?”
“I remember hearing water, which made me think it was near the Thames, but really I have no idea. It was dark and it was cold…which describes any number of buildings in London.”
“You heard water, but did you hear traffic?”
He paused. He stared at the wall as he tried to recall the details. “I don’t think so. Is that significant?”
“You might have been on the river, instead of just being near it.”
“I don’t think I was. I get seasick too easily. If I’d been on the water, I would have been puking.”
“Good to know,” Vitas said. “Is there anything else you can remember?”
“No. Sorry I can’t be more of a help.”
Vitas smiled. “You’ve remembered plenty. Considering the fact that you’re probably concussed, that you can remember your own name is a success story at this point.”
“Do you think you’ll be able to stop these people? This coalition or whatever it is?”
“At the very least, we can make sure you and your parents don’t get caught up in the middle of this again. Your uncle might end up in prison, but we can at least keep you out of the hospital.” He glanced at the door, thinking of the way the Sharpes had been shouting at each other earlier. He wondered if that was just because they were under so much stress right now, or if that kind of behavior had been something that Jason grew up with. “Your parents are worried for you,” he said, hoping that maybe his words would be of some comfort. “That’s why they asked us to interfere, and we’ll do our best to make sure you don’t get hurt again, yeah?”
Vitas stood up. “I’ll let you get some rest,” he said. Jason certainly looked like he needed it. “I’m sure I’ll see you again. Try not to overexert yourself.”.