I asked Keith to inform Lucifel that I was willing to cooperate, and then I asked Alan if I could crash in his room because I was exhausted. Though I could tell that he was confused as to why I wasn’t going to use my own bed, he nodded and told me to go right ahead. As soon as I entered the room, I headed immediately for the bed, intending to go to sleep, but my mind refused to settle down.
Everything that had happened was replaying in my mind, over and over again. From my mother’s death, to the conversation I had just had with Marc. I tried as hard as I could to push it out of my mind, but it refused to let go of me. I had hoped that by breaking up with Marc I could forget at least some of the doubts that had nestled in my mind, but it had made them stronger. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had made some sort of mistake.
At one point while I was laying there I heard shouting in the other room, and I distinctly recognized the voices of all three of my roommates. I couldn’t make out everything that was said, but I knew they were talking about me because I could make my name out a few times when it was shouted. The only time I understood a full sentence was when it was yelled from right in front of the door.
It was Alan’s voice, and he said it with more conviction than I had ever heard him say anything. “If you want to get to him right now, you’re going to have to go through me.” After that was said, the yelling stopped, and there was nothing but silence from the other room. It stayed like that for what seemed like hours, and eventually I managed to find myself drifting off to sleep.
Sleep didn’t help. My dreams were just as if not more fitful than my waking time had been. They were filled with me being trapped in different situations. While the feeling of being captive never changed, the faces of my captors varied. At one point it was Lucifel and Shatan, and then it was Gabriel, then Verina, and then Marc. Marc’s face taunted me the most, until the last of my captors came into view. At first I thought I had simply gained a mirror as part of the trappings of my cell, but then it became clear that I was staring at my doppelganger.
I woke with a start and the realization that I had perhaps created my own prison, but I put it aside as I realized that there was someone else in the room with me. Alan. He was on the floor directly in front of the doorway, curled up with a blanket and some sort of pillow, fast asleep. I tried to feel grateful that he had so obviously decided to take up a role of guardian to me, but as I tried to access my feelings, I found myself to be numb.
I sat up in the bed, slid myself up against the wall and pulled my knees into my chest. As I sat staring into the fairly dark room, I once again tried to analyze what I was going through. Marc had really hurt me, and there was no denying that. He had abandoned me when I was at my mental breaking point, and even though he had saved my life on several occasions, I wasn’t about to forget his betrayal; especially when he had hurt others, like Alan, in the process.
My mind wandered through the memories again, though this time it took me down a different path. There had been a time when I had been trapped, and it had been Keith and Marc that had rescued me. I had been in a coma, and oblivious to the prison that I was in. It was when I sensed Marc on the other side of that mental cage that I was able to finally let Keith in to free me. Maybe I was being selfish, and letting Marc in would be the answer to freeing me from this dilemma.
Or, maybe I just wanted that to be the answer because I didn’t want to accept the truth. I didn’t want to admit to myself that maybe we had had problems since the beginning, and I had been so desperate to find someone to connect to that I had let Marc into my life without asking any questions. It was possible that I had simply been naïve, and had let myself be swept off my feet by someone who just wanted to use me; to parade me in front of his father as evidence that he had been right all along. There was no guarantee that I wasn’t just a tool to him; someone to help him get ahead in life, and help him get off while he was at it.
In frustration, I pounded my fist against the wall, and I instantly regretted it. Alan woke up with a start and looked over at me with concern. He saw the position I was in, and with a yawn and a stretch he got up and walked over to me, taking a seat next to me on the bed.
“You alright?” He asked with concern. The wonderful thing about Alan that I knew would always be true was that he was always sincere in everything he did. There wasn’t a dishonest bone in his body.
“No, not really,” I replied with a halfhearted smile, “I’m sure you probably heard some of the story from Marc, what with all the yelling I heard earlier. Considering he’s my first relationship, this is also my first break up, and I don’t think I’m handling it very well.”
“I’ve never been in a relationship, so I really wouldn’t know,” he admitted with a shrug, then he draped his arm across my shoulders and pulled me close to him, “I do know that whatever does happen, you’ll have Keith and me until the end. I think you’ll even have Belial on your side. Maybe, you’ll even have Marc. I don’t think he’s handling it very well either. Do you want to talk about it? I’m not really that good at things like this. I could go get Keith if you want…”
I shook my head helplessly, and then flashed him as much of a grin as I could. “Alan, you sell yourself short sometimes. I think you have the power to do a lot of things. Even Lucifel sees that in you, I can tell from the way she sees you, and that is a huge compliment from her. From what I can tell, she’s not too fond of humans, but every time she sees you, she loses a bit of her hardness. I think you’re one of the best people I’ve ever known. I’m really glad that you came with us.”
I reached out and gave his leg a squeeze, to try and show him that I was sincere, and I got a very surprising reaction out of him. He pulled away almost instantly, and jumped off the bed, his face flushing in embarrassment. I was left with nothing but confusion, but since he wasn’t walking any further away, I held out for an explanation rather than pushing for one.
“I’m sorry, Damien. I don’t know if I should even be in here,” he stated nervously.
“What do you mean? This is your room. I like talking to you.”
He turned back with an unreadable expression on his face. He seemed torn between two warring thoughts in his mind. I considered reading his thoughts, but I decided against it. With Alan it would only be a matter of time before I got the truth anyway. I was right, and I didn’t have to wait long, but I was surprised when his first words were, “I’m… I’m in love with you.”
My eyes widened in shock, and Alan looked scared to death, but I wasn’t about to let him get away with stopping there because he was too afraid to go on. I got off the bed and wrapped him into a hug, and then I pulled away from him and stared him in the eye. I wasn’t going to read his thoughts, but there was another kind of mental link I could establish, and it would help make things move a lot smoother. Within a second I had established an emphatic link with him, and I knew that he could tell that I wasn’t angry at him.
He could also tell that I didn’t share his feelings, and I didn’t love him back. At least not in the way he wanted. He was hurt, but I he wasn’t as hurt as I would have been in the same situation. I wondered how he was able to deal with it so well, when he began his explanation.
“Ever since you stood up in the middle of that lunch room and proved to everyone that you weren’t afraid to show who you loved by kissing Marc, I was drawn to you. When I started visiting you in the hospital, Marc would talk about you every day, and the way he described you, I thought you were a god.”
The first part of his explanation brought back a memory of what Keith had first explained to me about Alan. He had told me that Alan looked up to me because he was a closeted gay kid who saw my kissing Marc as inspirational. I hadn’t remembered that until we began this conversation. It was starting to make sense. He had loved me since the beginning, but it was a matter of hero worship then. Still, it meant he had had a long time to get used to the idea that I was in love with someone else.
That someone else was the same person who had stood by my side even when everyone else had given up on me. He was the person who had defended me several times when I couldn’t defend myself. Marc had always been there for me. Even if he was only using me as a tool, he was dedicated to me. I filed the realization away for later. This conversation was about Alan.
“When you woke up, I was happy. You didn’t know who I was, but I definitely felt like I knew you. There was nothing I wanted more than to become part of your unique circle of friends, and when you welcomed me with open arms it was the best thing that had ever happened to me. I’ve never really had friends. Most people find me annoying, but you and Marc, and even Keith let me into your group. I fell even more in love with you.”
“I still can’t believe that when Lucifel showed up you let me tag along. I expected that our friendship would end there, and no one else thought it was a good idea, but you stood up for me. I have to say that it didn’t make my crush on you lessen at all. But then I started to really get to know you, and I realized you were just a normal guy like me, but that made it even worse. All of a sudden you were a normal guy who could do amazing things. Do you even realize how attractive you are?”
I shook my head helplessly at the question, because I honestly didn’t know what he was talking about. But the emphatic link told me that he was sincere as always, so I didn’t doubt his feelings were genuine. Of course, I was just reading emotions, not thoughts, so I didn’t understand his reasoning. I certainly didn’t feel any more attractive than anyone else. “No, I don’t actually. I’m just a normal guy, Alan.”
“Like I said, that’s part of the problem now. You’re not a god like Marc talked you up to be, but you’re definitely an amazing person. That’s exactly why I can’t stay next to you… I’m afraid that I’ll do something that will make you push me away. I wouldn’t be able to stand the thought of ruining our friendship because I tried to make it more than it is. And we both know that you don’t love me. For one thing, you’re still every bit in love with Marc.”
I knew he was right, even though I didn’t want to admit it. My emotions betrayed me, and Alan flashed me a knowing grin, even as he buried the disappointment he felt at the fact that I wasn’t returning his feelings. I knew I had to address something he said immediately though, before the moment was lost.
“You’re not wrong about me still loving Marc, but you are wrong about me not loving you. You’re without a doubt the person with the biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever met. No, I’m not in love with you romantically, but I couldn’t imagine where I’d be right now if you weren’t in my life. Probably huddled in a ball against the wall, wallowing in self-pity like I was five minutes ago. I might say something lame here, like there are other fish in the sea, but I don’t really think that way. What I do think, is that you’re an amazing person, and one day you’ll find the amazing person that will complete you.”
“Like you have with Marc?” He asked slyly, and I knew he had a point, though I also knew I wasn’t ready to get over what had happened yet. My pride had still not been sated. Besides, I wasn’t even sure if he would want to work things out after what had happened.
“Maybe, but I’m not ready to forgive him yet.” Was what I said in reply. Before either of us could say anything else, we felt a trembling beneath our feet, and then a loud noise coming from all around us, like the sound of a thunderstorm accompanied by the feeling of an earthquake.
It took both of us a moment to figure out what was going on, but then Alan said with excitement, “We’re taking off!”
Soon both of us were rushing out the door and into our main chamber. Keith and Marc were already staring at what had once been the wall opposite the door. Now we could see cascading dust and rock as it fell away from the ship, revealing a window to the outside world. We quickly made our way over to the other two, and stood watching with them as the dust finally stopped falling and we could see out into the night sky. We were high in the air, and in the distance we could see the lights of a city.
Eve’s voice came on over the intercom. “All passengers are required to wear proper safety gear before we engage our forward momentum. Please ensure that you are wearing your magnetic footwear so that we can proceed.”
“Magnetic footwear?” I asked, but Keith just pointed at his own feet in response which had the same green material on them that I had on my feet. He then tossed a couple discs to Alan who I saw was barefoot. Alan looked confused, so I quickly demonstrated how to do it. He jumped in surprise when the material wrapped around his foot, but his usual excitement quickly took over, and he quickly activated the other one with interest.
Not long after he had his footwear on, Eve’s voice once again came over the intercom. “Thank you for complying so swiftly. Please remain stationary for the next thirty-four seconds.” The ship suddenly lurched, and I could feel myself being pulled slightly, but my feet somehow compensated for the movement and kept me upright. I hardly noticed how the view outside the window was suddenly changing, and rapidly. This was not my first flight, but it was definitely my first time going this fast. The scenery was whipping past us faster than I had ever thought possible. The thirty-four seconds passed quickly, and suddenly everything felt normal. I could stand easily again, and watch the scenery fly by us.
It was only fifteen minutes by the time I could feel the ship slowing down. By that time we had already crossed over the dark ocean, and I knew that Eve’s voice was once again going to speak to us, even before she came over the intercom. “Please remain stationary for the next forty-two seconds while we prepare for landing. Thank you for your compliance.”
Once again I felt myself taken slightly off balance, and once again I was kept upright by my footwear. As we started slowing down considerably, I turned my attention back to the window and took note of the scenery around us. We were in the midst of snow-capped mountains, and based off of what I had been told about Marc’s family, I figured that we were probably in the Alps. As the forward movement of the ship stopped, we slowly began sinking toward the planet’s surface, and I noted that we were above a thick pine forest. In the distance I could see the glimmer of lights, and I wondered if it was a town or village that we were setting down near.
When the ship finally stopped moving, I did not hear the crashing of trees that I expected to hear, but instead there was loud thud, followed by a few quieter thuds. I couldn’t tell what was going on, but I didn’t have to wait long for an explanation. Eve’s voice once again had the answer to my question. “Landing gear has been engaged. You are now safe to move about the ship. Thank you for your cooperation.”
“So, what are the lights in the distance?” I asked, to no one in particular. Marc opened his mouth to answer, but then shut it and looked away. Keith looked between us sympathetically and answered instead.
“These are the Bavarian Alps. We are currently in Germany. Those lights over there are not found on any map currently in circulation, for the protection of the royal family. Only the demons and the Druids are given knowledge of this place, and now Hell, though I’m sure they’ve known about it for longer, they just haven’t revealed that they knew. Here we will find no one but demons. Well, and one angel. Lumial will be here as well.”
“So, I suppose we’re going to meet Marc’s family then?” Alan asked with excitement.
Marc looked like he was going to be sick, and I almost felt sorry for him as he replied, “Unfortunately.”
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