Emma exited the office with Thomas slowly behind her. Brandon had sat down next to Roger, taking an interest in the game he was playing.
“You can tell when you go for the center! That other part of the eye lights up weirdly. That’s how do actually do damage to the thing.”
Roger’s face lit up. “Wow, Brandon! That’s so subtle, how did you notice that?”
Brandon grinned in a cocky manner. “It’s cause I’m so good at video games!”
“What are you doing here, idiot?” Emma asked as she walked over to Roger. He handed the game back to her as she examined it.
“I think he’s got it right, Emma! I’ve actually done damage to it now!”
“Hm. Impressive. I didn’t think you were capable.”
“Hey, don’t be mean to me!” Brandon shouted. He stood up and handed the bag to Emma. “Here, your sister wanted me to give you this since she on the way to Adam’s.”
“What’s she going there for?”
“Cause he is sick. And I came here originally to get this thing!” Brandon handed Thomas the note from Jerry.
“He needs this? It must be a nasty fever if Jerry thought this would be the best thing for him.” Thomas waved the note around. “All right, I’ll go fill out this prescription real quick. Roger, you’ll be next once I’m done.”
Roger nodded in understanding. Emma took a look into the bag to see what her sister had got. She turned toward Brandon.
Brandon noticed the atmosphere go tense, even though Emma’s face remained calm.
“Did you look in here?”
Brandon nodded without hesitation. He felt entirely off his game today when it came to lying.
“Hm. Well, you’re not making some incredibly immature joke about it, so I guess I can let it go for now.”
Brandon was left in confusion as Emma headed out the door. He was confident that he would meet his end not at the hands of villains in the woods, but to the girl in front of him. Despite the fear he held inside, he spoke up.
Emma turned toward Brandon.
“What is it?”
Brandon struggled to find the words he wanted to say. Regardless, he continued.
“J-Just know I’ve got your back! I-I mean not your back specifically cause uh, well, I… I’m here if you need anything.”
Emma was shocked to hear that come from Brandon’s mouth. She always knew him as an idiot who had to make stupid comments about everything.
“Wow. Guess I might have misjudged you a little.”
“Huh? What’s the supposed to mean?” Brandon asked in a slightly annoyed tone.
Although it was barely noticeable, Emma smiled.
Emma closed the door, leaving Brandon’s question unanswered.
Brandon sighed, sitting back down next to Roger. Glancing over, he noticed Roger had a massive grin on his face.
Faith blitzed through Adam’s front door, coming to a stop in the living room a few feet in front of her. Jerry nonchalantly gazed up from his laptop.
“Why didn’t anyone tell me Adam was sick!?” Faith raged.
Jerry rustled his hair nervously. “Cause, we knew you were busy and didn’t want you to worry like you’re doing right now.”
“B-But you’re busy too, aren’t ya?”
“I’m an incredible multi-tasker; there’s no need to worry about me.”
“That’s true, you are… But still. I would have liked to know—” Faith paused, noticing the girl sleeping on the couch to the left of her. “That’s… Charlotte Smith, isn’t it?”
Jerry nodded. “Yep. She’s Ad—” Jerry stopped, a sudden force from somewhere he could not comprehend preventing him from using Adam’s name. “—my girlfriend.”
Faith’s face lit up. “Oh! Congratulations!” She quickly hushed herself. “Oh, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t wake her.”
“Trust me, I’ve tried waking her up myself. She’s a very heavy sleeper, it seems.” Jerry noted.
“Speaking of, is Adam asleep?”
“Last I checked, yeah. You can go see it for yourself. He’ll need to be up anyway once Brandon gets back so we can give him the medicine.”
Faith nodded in understanding. As she walked toward the hallway, Jerry got her attention.
“Hey, did they ever figure out what all that noise was yesterday?” Jerry asked in an attempt to gather information. Faith turned to him and shrugged.
“After my mom and I went out and looked around, some Brown Suits actually showed up. I don’t think even they found anything.” Faith responded. She had decided that the mysterious figure in the mask was something she wanted to discuss solely with her mother, as it potentially involved what happened during the fire.
“Huh. Well, that’s weird then…” Jerry pretended to return back to his work. As Faith went down the hall, he decided to express his concern.
“Then… What happened with the two guys you ran into?” Jerry looked over to Charlotte, who now had her eyes open.
“I did knock them out, so unless someone saved them or they happened to wake up quickly enough, they should have been found.”
“She did say that the Brown Suits appeared. If they were found, it could have easily been covered up.”
“I think when I was doing my investigating, I ran into that term when I was looking more toward Unity related things. I assume the two are connected?”
“Yeah. They’re basically Unity members who work in the shadows and do all sorts of sketchy things. If they got involved, then this might be more complicated than I thought.”
Opening the door, Faith saw Adam lying in his bed. He was actually awake; eyes focused on the ceiling above him.
“You’ve come to take me away, I see,” Adam spoke in a raspy voice. Faith approached him, utterly perplexed.
“Take you away?”
Adam continued to look up. “The blue cannot protect me much longer. The red is too powerful. The yellow has to step in and help.”
Faith had no clue what Adam was talking about. She took a quick glance at Adam’s nightstand and noticed some cold medicine sitting there.
“I guess if you take enough of that, it will make you loopy? But this is quite loopy.”
“It’s the mirror’s doing. But don’t tell my sunshine about it, I’m keeping it a secret.”
Before Faith could continue to question him, Adam shut his eyes. A few seconds later, snoring echoed the walls of his room.
“W-What did any of that mean!?” Faith was astounded. She sighed, taking a seat on the edge of Adam’s bed. Putting her hand on his forehead, she could tell that he was burning up.
“You poor thing… Get some rest, okay?” Before getting up, Faith took a glance around Adam’s room. It had been a while since she was here. A smile formed on her face at the nostalgia surrounding her. That smile faded as she took a look to her left toward the dresser.
“What happened to your TV!?” Faith walked over to take a look. Luckily the glass had been cleaned up, for the most part. She happened to stop just in time to avoid a piece of glass that had been left over. Leaning down, Faith went to pick it up, yet noticed something red out of the corner of her eye.
Underneath Adam’s bed, Faith discovered the now blood-stained envelope. Alarmed, she then noticed his broken cell phone sitting right next to it.
“What is this!? What happened!?” Faith rushed over to Adam. “A broken TV, broken phone, and a bloody envelope!? What’s—” She stopped herself, as Adam remained lying there peacefully.
“You know I worry…” Faith felt like tears were about to form, yet they did not. “If I see weird shit like this in your room, of course I’m gonna worry… dammit.” She clutched her fist.
“Whatever. When you feel better, we’ll talk about it. I want you to rest.”
Faith picked up the piece of glass and walked out of Adam’s room without looking back.
Later that evening, Brandon had already returned from Thomas’ pharmacy and given Adam the new medicine. Although Adam did call Brandon a demon and almost bite his hand off.
Faith found a second television that for some odd reason was not set up in the living room, although it was hiding away in the corner. She had hooked up one of Adam’s old gaming consoles and fired it up. Both she and Brandon were playing Phight!, an old-school fighting game that combined the existence of Abilities and random fantasy characters.
Brandon was struggling. Faith had chosen her go-to fighter, the Witch, and handled the character Brandon had chosen, the Gladiator, with ease.
“They made the Gladiator too slow. The Witch can easily wear it down with its Spellcast Ability before you can even do that much damage.” Faith remarked.
“Man, this was the only character I was really good at back in the day! I can’t remember how to freaking play him!” Brandon groaned. As Faith scored another point, he put the controller down in defeat.
Faith looked at Brandon with a sinister grin. “A real gamer never forgets how to play. It’s engraved in your blood.”
“I’m not good with fighters! Any other game I would destroy in!” Brandon pouted. “Besides, we all know Emma’s the true gamer. Glad she’s not—”
The front door swung open. Emma and Winona casually walked in, carrying a few duffle bags alongside them.
“What the hell are you doing here—Hi Winona, good to see you—What the hell are you doing here!?” Brandon pointed at Emma in disgust.
Emma gave an ominous glare. “Well, that moment earlier didn’t last too long?”
Winona glanced at Emma in questioning for a moment before turning back to Brandon. “It’s good to see you too! Faith decided she was going to stay here tonight, so we figured we’d all come over and have a sleepover!”
“A-A sleepover? At Adam’s house? What the hell? Jerry, did you hear about this?”
Brandon turned to Jerry, who was still on his laptop as he sipped a cup of coffee.
“Yep, cause I pay attention. We’re all staying here, remember?”
“No! I mean, I guess it’s fine but—Wait no! We’re all over eighteen now, except for her.” Brandon had returned the glare to Emma. His face softened up a few seconds later. “Boys and girls sleeping together is kinda…”
“We’re not here to fulfill any wild fantasies you might have, creep.” Emma scowled. “We just thought we should spend some time together this summer. Remember dinner the other night?”
“Well, yeah, but… Adam’s sick! He needs his rest! Besides, did you even ask him this was okay!?”
“I don’t care what you humans do.”
Everyone turned around to see Adam standing there. He began walking into the kitchen, which was off to the right of the front door and completely visible to the living room.
“God’s already dead anyway.”
Adam went up to the fridge and opened it. He stood there as everyone watched in silence. Winona leaned up to Faith. “Wow. I’ve never seen anything like this before!” She whispered, although very audible to the rest of the room.
“Are there any apples at all? What happened to them?” Adam whimpered like a small puppy, rummaging through the fridge.
Faith walked over to the counter behind Adam and picked up and apple from a fresh bunch, which Jerry had made Brandon go and buy about an hour prior.
“Here boy!” Faith beckoned Adam. He turned toward her, eyes lighting up. It was lucky that the World Mirror seemed to be under control despite Adam’s behavior.
“Fetch!” Faith threw the apple up in the air. With incredible speed and reflexes, Adam was able to capture the apple with his bare teeth. He lowered the apple and began nibbling at it, almost like a rabbit eating a carrot.
Adam slowly stepped out of the kitchen and disappeared into the darkness of the hallway. His friends were baffled at the scene they just witnessed.
“Anyway, you brought a change of clothes for me?” Faith turned to her sister, who raised up one of the bags she was carrying.
“Here you go.” Emma gave Faith the bag as she noticed the game in the background. “Ooo! Phight! The original one! Who wants to get their butt kicked!?”
“I’ll play!” Winona responded cheerfully.
“Nice! Win’s incredible at anything competitive, this should be a good match!” Emma and Winona sat down, Brandon sighing in relief that he wouldn’t fall victim to Emma, at least not now.
“I’m gonna take a shower.” Faith walked down the hallway toward the bathroom. Brandon slowly turned his head in her direction.
“Girls passing out holding you, and now girls using your shower!? Adam—Is this part of your Ability!? I need to steal it!”
“Hey Brandon, have you seen Charlotte?” Jerry asked his friend, snapping him back to reality.
“I haven’t. I thought you said you paid attention?”
“Hey. Don’t use my words against me.” Jerry responded, tapping the keyboard slightly harder. Winona looked over at the two as she was selecting her character.
“Charlotte? Oh, that’s right! I heard from Faith. Congratulations!”
“Thanks!” Jerry replied, hoping the sarcasm in his tone wouldn’t be noticeable.
Brandon glared at his friend. He leaned over and whispered: “Why couldn’t I be the fake boyfriend?”
“Does it matter?” Jerry finished his cup of coffee and handed it to Brandon. “Can you get me another cup, please?”
“I’ve had enough of doing things for you today!”
“Come on, it’s right over there in the kitchen. The pride of Errand Boy Brandon hangs in the balance!”
“I have no pride!”
Emma snickered as she heard Brandon shouting from behind her. He gave her a dirty look, even though she did not see it.
Faith stood motionless in the shower. Now that she was alone, the thoughts of what she found in Adam’s room earlier came back to her.
“What could be going on? Why hasn’t he told me about it, whatever it is? No…” Faith clenched her fist, biting her lip in frustration. “He doesn’t have to tell me anything if he doesn’t want to. It’s his life. Just the potential thought of him suffering from something though… It’s agonizing to me. Why is that?”
Faith raised her hands and watched as the water gathered in them and dripped down.
“Well, it could be… that. Maybe. It… makes sense, doesn’t it?” She sighed. Her thoughts were taking her to an unfamiliar place. Yet, this place seemed to be hidden within her for a while.
Faith realized she did not bring any of her shampoo with her. She figured that Adam’s would have to do. Picking up the bottle, she rubbed it in her hair and began to wash it.
“Of course it smells like apples. You’re crazy for them, aren’t you?” Faith giggled, as she took in the fruity aroma. The scent was, in fact, the one Adam typically had. It was familiar and comforting for her.
Faith put her hands in front of her. That’s what she needed to do: gain comfort in using her Ability. If she wanted to keep everyone she loved safe, it had to be done.
This was the opportune time to practice. Being in the shower, Faith felt a stronger sense of safety from the flames she created. It was something that she had been attempting for a while in secret, and it did help.
Breathing in, Faith slowly began to form a flame in her hands.
She breathed in again, this time taking extra note of the scent of the shampoo.
Another breath. Suddenly, the words that Adam told her a few days prior came to mind.
“Don’t be afraid of something that can save someone.”
Faith opened her eyes and gazed at the flame in her hands. She closed them in a panic, almost slipping in the shower. However, more words came to mind, this time from her mother.
“Open your eyes, sweetie. Look at how beautiful your flame is.”
She opened them for a second time. This time, she focused on the beauty her flame produced. Although it was dim, primarily due to the water pouring down from above, it was rather pretty. Faith compared it to a firefly, especially the ones that Adam, Emma, and herself tried to capture in jars when they were younger.
The flame was small, that fact could not be denied. Yet Faith had succeeded in not letting her fear get to her for the first time. This was the beginning of Faith’s journey into mastering her Ability.