"Detoxed?" Alex asked. "What the hell are you talking about?"
"Benji, come in and sit down, you look tired," Damon said leading his son into the kitchen and seating him at the breakfast counter. "Now, what happened?"
"Ok, well, first, after school, I ran Oliver to his house so he could change into his riding clothes. His mom was there. She was drunk…very. Oliver was apologetic and explained that she had had a hard time getting pregnant and carrying the baby to term and become very depressed and then they had adopted him, but she had lost another baby and become very depressed and nothing seemed to bring her out of it."
"That's so sad," Damon said.
"Oliver's adopted, too?" Alex asked.
"Yeah, we both thought it was kinda funny that we were both adopted."
"So what happened then?" Kai asked.
"We went to the ranch…I need to tell you about that after."
"Something else happened?"
"Well, everything happens to him."
"Anyways, I drove Oliver home and dropped him off. We made plans for me to start picking him up for school and he's gonna start working for Dale," Benji continued. "Oliver went into the house and I started to leave. As I was driving away I saw his mother sitting on the patio on the side of the house. I don't know why or how, but I got this feeling of despair from her. I was scared, like she was going to hurt herself. I got out of the truck and went to check on her. She was so drunk she couldn't even focus. At one point, she reached up and took my hand and as soon as she touched me it happened."
Kai and Damon shared a worried looked.
"What happened?" Damon asked.
"It's hard to describe," Benji replied. "It was like I could feel all the emotions in her. All the pain and the way she felt about herself. Somehow I was able to reach in and pull all that out of her. I dug around and found the love and happiness that was still there and used it to push all the negative stuff out and at the same time all the alcohol in her system poured into mine. When I opened my eyes, she was stone cold sober and I could barely stand."
"What did she do?" Kai asked.
"She was crying. She smiled at me and then went into the house. I stumbled back to the truck and made sure no one was looking. I don't know how I was able to do it, or what I actually did, but I concentrated on the poison, the alcohol and the emotions that I took from Mrs. Mills and I was able to isolate and shrink them and ‘eject' them, I guess you could say, or ‘dispel' them."
"This never happened before?" Damon asked.
"No, I would have told you."
"I know, I know. I was just worried about this happening."
"What is it?"
Damon looked across to Kai who simply shrugged.
"Alright, I've told you boys that at one time I had powers."
"But you lost them," Alex stated.
"Actually, I never should have had them, but that's another story," Damon countered. "I gained my powers young like you two did. Normally, those in my family who got them did so around their sixteenth birthday. I got mine when I was six shortly after my father's death."
"Were you a telepath or a telekinetic?" Alex asked.
"Neither. I was empathic," Damon explained. "I was able to feel and absorb the emotions and pain from other people. That's what Benji experienced today. In a way two things I was afraid of happened today."
"Two things?" Benji asked.
Kai answered, "Because your dad was so young when he received his powers his grandfather was always worried that he would get stronger or more powers when he got older. We have always feared the same for you two. This is all uncharted territory. Twins, adopted, it's all new."
"I was also scared that if you got new powers that one of you would get the empathic powers. Honestly, I was most scared it would be you, Benji."
"Why?" Benji asked dejectedly.
"Because I know what the burden of those powers is like," Damon explained. "I know what it's like to want to help everyone and not understand that you can't cure people, only alleviate. You guys both have big hearts, but Benji, you're like I was at your age, you wear yours on your sleeve. I'm so afraid you'll push yourself too far, like I did. You just need to promise us that you'll be careful with these powers, just like you've been so far."
"Benji, your dad and I love you guys so much," Kai said. "We can't bear the thought of anything happening to either one of you. Day's scared cuz what happened to him almost killed him. We've been diligent and he's worked with you to make sure you guys can control your powers, so as long as we know what going on with both of you and we keep working we should be ok."
"Well, I don't think it's fair," Alex pouted. "He got new powers and I didn't."
"Be careful what you wish for," Damon warned him.
"So you said you needed to tell us about something that happened at the stables," Kai said.
"Oh, yeah. It was the strangest thing. Remember I told you about Jester, that mustang stallion that Dale bought last week. Took me and Carson forever to get him in a corral and he's been there ever since. He doesn't do anything but run around and buck and rear. Well, I was showing Oliver some different horses that he could try and we passed Jester's corral. Oliver stopped to watch him. I told him all about him and how dangerous he was and that he'd put his last trainer in the hospital and that Dale had said he was off limits; and then without a word, Oliver jumped the fence and walked right towards Jester."
"What is he, nuts?" barked Alex.
"That's what I was thinking. Jester came charging after him, but he was about five feet from Oliver and he stopped and reared and then he came down and just stood there and stared at Oliver. They were just eye to eye for the longest time. I swear if I didn't know better I would have thought he was talking to Jester the way you and I talk, Alex. Next thing I know he swings up on Jester's back and is riding him around the corral bareback and bridle-less. Dale about had a fit when she saw him, but after she calmed down she told him he could work with Jester since she figured he was the only one who could. We spent the rest of the afternoon riding Jester and Arya in one of the arenas. I couldn't believe it was the same horse."
"So, he's that good a rider?" Damon asked.
"He's a really good rider and Arya took right to him, but it was something more than that. He's never done any training or anything like that. I mean, I did almost all of Arya's training and I wouldn't have gotten on that horse on a bet."
"He didn't strike me as a daredevil," Alex laughed.
"He's not, he's British," Benji grinned. "He wasn't taking a chance, that's the thing; if you had seen him, he was a hundred percent confident that nothing bad was going to happen. I would swear he was talking to Jester."
"Well, we talk to each other that way," Alex shrugged. "It's possible he could talk to a horse. Isn't it?"
"He probably just got lucky," Kai said as he stood up from the counter. "I've got some recordings to mix before it gets too late, since your dad kidnapped me from my studio this afternoon."
"Oh, ho…so I wasn't the only one…" Alex laughed.
Damon snapped a towel at Alex. "It was a massage, you brat."
"C'mon, Alex, we have to get in some work in the playhouse," Benji said.
"Need any help?" Damon asked.
"No, just need to work on A's control before lacrosse season starts."
"Are you having issues?" Damon asked Alex pointedly.
"Dad, you know he sometimes has control issues when he loses his temper," Benji explained. "We just need to work on that some more."
"Alright, but if you need any help, call me on the intercom."
"Will do," Alex said as the two left the kitchen.
The two walked out to the playhouse.
Benji unlocked the door and the two entered.
There was a large empty room that looked like a gymnasium.
Benji ran into a closet and wheeled out a cart loaded with balls of various shapes and sizes.
"Oh, man…really?" Alex whined.
"Ok, brother of mine, what would you like to do to practice? Levitate feathers and empty soda cans? That's really gonna help your concentration," Benji replied. "Look, this has to work two ways. You need to have total control of your powers when you're using them and when you're not using them."
"I know, I know."
"When you're on the field, you can't let these guys distract you and piss you off. Look at this morning. Mrs. Kramer ticked you off just a little and your pen was floating over your notebook. Think of how you get when you're playing, you could end up sending a ball through someone's head."
"You are just a big ball of fun tonight, aren't you?"
"And when you're using your powers you can't let yourself get distracted either. What if you were moving something and dropped it on someone or moved it too far?"
Alex walked over to Benji and put his hand on his brother's shoulder. Benji was shaking.
"Dude, what's wrong?"
Benji grabbed Alex like he was a life vest.
"I don't know. It's like all of sudden this just got real," he whispered as he held onto to Alex. "My telepathy was hard enough, but what happened with Oliver's mother scared the hell out of me. It hurt so much, but I still wanted to do more. I understand what Dad was saying. If it was you or Dad or Pop, I don't know how far I would push it."
Alex wrapped his arms around Benji.
"It's ok, B," he whispered as he rubbed his brother's back. "We'll just keep working. When we were kids this was all fun and games; now we're growing up and the stakes are higher, but the one thing that hasn't changed is we have each other and we have Dad and Pop."
Alex kept his arm around Benji's shoulder and led him over to one side of the room. The two slid down and sat against the wall.
"Remember that first night?" Alex asked. "When Dad and Pop left us with Mason?"
"Yeah." Benji grinned. "We had just figured out what I could do after school and we stayed in our room all afternoon practicing. Mason thought we were sick cuz we weren't driving him crazy the whole time."
"Then after we were supposed to be in bed you threw that soccer ball at me and I made it float in the air. I'll never forget the looks on their faces when Dad and Pop opened the door and I was standing there with those two soccer balls floating around me and you were just sitting there grinning away."
"I said ‘Hi'," Benji laughed.
"I think that's what sent Pop over the edge," Alex chuckled as he slapped Benji's arm. "I can still remember him grabbing Dad's arm and pulling him out of the room, slamming the door and yelling all the way down the hall to their room."
" ‘He said this couldn't happen! Your grandfather lied to us. Look at them! Oh, my God!'" Benji mimicked Kai. "I was scared. I thought there was something wrong with us and he was going to leave."
"He'd never leave us, neither of them would."
"I know, but we were only seven and I just found out I could talk to people with my mind and read their thoughts. I was just a bit confused and a whole lot scared. But you never were."
"Alex, you're never scared of anything."
"B, just because I don't say it or show it doesn't mean I don't feel it. I get scared all the time. That night, as fun and exciting as that all was, I was terrified that we were freaks, that we had done something wrong, that Dad and Pop were going to send us back, or worse, split us up," Alex explained. "I think that's the biggest fear I have, losing you. It would be like losing a part of me. I could eventually cope with losing Dad or Pop, but you're more than my brother, you're my best friend, you're the person who's been there every second of my life. I know everyone thinks we are just so different, but I think that's why I need you so much. We started off as the same cell and damn it we're sticking together." Tears were rolling down his face as he finished.
Benji was crying as well. "I can't imagine not having you as my brother or my best friend, either," he said as he hugged Alex tightly.
The two brothers sat on the floor of the playhouse hugging and crying for the longest time. Eventually, they became aware of the late hour.
"Shit, so much for practice," Benji complained as they stood up and left the playhouse.
Alex clapped his hand on Benji's shoulder. "We needed that more."
"Yeah, but you still need practice," Benji insisted. "I know, come to the stables tomorrow. If there's any place I can get you pissed and distracted that's it."
"Oh, come on! Now that you have Oliver I thought I was getting a reprieve," Alex complained.
"Eventually, you will, but you do need to practice on concentration. If you're focusing on riding, we'll see if you can keep your telekinesis in check."
"Alright," Alex pouted as they reached the house.
Benji's laughter echoed through the house as they both went to their rooms for the night.
Dyson sat at the counter of the greasy spoon quickly eating his overcooked burger and cold fries.
He had taken a bus to Oakland and planned to lay low for the night before starting for Los Angeles. He didn't know who had killed his father or how much they knew. He knew he had to find the five quickly, but he also had to be careful. Rushing would put them all in danger.
When he finished eating, he left some money on the counter and left the diner. There was a Y across the street. He rented a room and went up the back stairs. It was small and it smelled, but it would be safe for the night. In the morning, he would move on. It was important that he not sleep in same place two nights in a row, at least not until he was safe.
He locked the door to the room and shoved a chair up under the knob. He stripped down to his underwear and crawled under the stiff and scratchy sheets.
He lay on his stomach and started to review the files that he had removed from the safe. Most of his notes were on the flash drives and he wouldn't be able to access them until he could get to a secure computer, but he did have some notes and photographs.
He laid the four pictures out in front of him. The two men were in their early forties. They were both handsome. One was blond with a dark almost Mediterranean complexion; his husband had jet-black hair, light blue eyes and pale milky skin. He knew that Kai was only involved by marriage and that the powers came from Damon's Abercrombie lineage. He then looked at the pictures of the two boys. The faces, height, hair and eye color were identical, but everything else about the twins was different; it radiated off the page that they were both strong individuals.
"Why twins?" he thought, not for the first time. He and his father had wondered for the longest time why the prophecy of The Chosen had started with twins. Did it mean something or was it coincidence. It made sense since the prophecy referred to the chosen five, but everything seemed to start with the twins and the Abercrombies.
He needed to get to Los Angeles.
Alex, Matt, Austin, Benji and Oliver were all sitting together at lunch again. Oliver was regaling everyone with tales of the dreary English weather compared with sunny southern California.
"Be right back," Alex said as he stood up. "Gotta take a leak."
He walked out of the cafeteria and passed the closest men's room. It was always crowded this time of day. He quickly walked to the bathroom at the far end of the corridor.
It was empty, so he walked up to the nearest urinal and took care of business. He shook off and zipped up and went to wash his hands.
While he was drying his hands he heard someone else come into the bathroom. Before he could turn around he felt two big hands lift him and carry him into the handicapped stall.
Next thing he knew he was pinned to the wall staring into the smiling face of Ethan Holt, the senior center of the basketball team. Ethan was 6'5" with red hair and a face full of freckles.
"Ethan, man, put me down," Alex ordered.
"Alex, I missed you, buddy," Ethan said. "I saw you coming down here and figured we had some time for a little fun."
"You said you weren't doin' that any more, Ethan."
"I know, but Tif's on the rag and she's being such a bitch and man, she ain't nowhere near as tight as you are and she can't suck dick anywhere near as good as you can."
"That's all very flattering, Ethan, but I can't right now," Alex protested. "My brother and my friends are waiting for me. Besides, I'm not really doing much of this right now."
"Then, this will be the last time," Ethan insisted. "One for the road."
Alex started to speak but found Ethan's lips pressed to his and the ballplayer's tongue trying to pry his lips apart. Alex struggled as Ethan held him pinned against the wall. Ethan relaxed his grip so that Alex could slide down the wall till his feet touched the floor. He took Alex's hand and placed it on the front of his shorts. Alex was sure that others would be shocked by the size of the cock on the other side of the cotton shorts, but he had seen it, swallowed it and sat on it before.
Alex continued to struggle as Ethan kissed him and moved his hand down the front of Alex's jeans. Alex tried to yell, but as soon as he parted his lips, Ethan's large tongue would try to find its way in.
Alex felt his anger rise. He could see the toilet start to shake in the corner of the room. He knew he had to try to calm down, it would be hard to explain a flying toilet or sending Ethan flying through the wall.
Ethan started to unzip Alex's pants.
Ethan staggered back holding his head. "Oww!"
Alex shook his head. How? He looked at Ethan.
Ethan slumped over in the corner by the commode.
Alex quickly zipped up his pants and ran out of the bathroom. He walked quickly back towards the cafeteria.
"Alex? How are you doing this?"
"You're not the only one who got new powers."
Benji looked up and saw Alex walking back into the cafeteria. He could feel the anger and embarrassment coming off of his brother.
"Alex what happened you're really upset."
"Ethan Holt came at me in the bathroom."
"Came at you? He tried to beat you up?"
Alex sat down at the table next to Benji.
"No, he wanted sex when I told him no he tried to force himself on me that's when I found out about the telepathy."
"Shit! I'm sorry but you need to calm down."
Benji looked at Alex's tray and saw an apple starting to move.
"Alex, the apple."
Benji reached under the table and took Alex's hand. He closed his eyes and focused on Alex's anger. He pulled the anger into himself and pushed his love and affection for his brother into its place.
"Wow that's cool."
"I just need to get rid of it though."
"Well it's nothing like what I took from Oliver's mother so it should be easier. Give me a second."
Benji focused inward on the anger and hurt and, like he had with Mrs. Mills, he imagined them being pressed into a small ball and then projected from his body.
"There that's better."
"Earth to Benji," laughed Austin. "Are you still with us or are you taking a nap?"
Benji opened his eyes and grinned. "No, wise ass, I've been getting headaches lately and I felt one coming on. My dad has me doing some meditation to try to relax since he thinks they are tension headaches."
"Do you want to go home after school?" Oliver asked.
"Oh, no, I'll be fine, besides, we're going to have company," Benji laughed.
"You are," Alex groaned.
"You're joining us, Alex?"
Alex slumped in his chair and nodded.
"I'm helping him with a project and I thought some time at the stables would be good for him."
"Great, we'll have a good time," Oliver said. "Anyone else?"
Austin and Matt both shook their heads.
"Oh, no," Austin said. "We've already been sucked into that. It's not that we don't like the occasional ride, but Benji's a taskmaster out there."
"I'm not that bad," Benji protested.
"Shit. I couldn't sit down for a week after the last ride," Matt moaned. "And I never thought my balls were gonna recover."
Dyson left the Y first thing that morning. He pulled the hood of his sweatshirt over his head and found his way to a 24-hour diner. While he ate a quick breakfast he scanned the local paper and noted there was no mention of his father's death. Unless those responsible for his death reported it in an attempt to flush him out no one should find him until the cleaning lady came the day after tomorrow. He felt terrible leaving his father there, but he knew that the mission was the most important thing to him.
After leaving the diner, he ran around the city hitting various ATM machines drawing as much cash as he could from the various accounts that he and his father had set up over the past few years. All of the accounts were under dummy names and none could be traced back to them. He had credit cards and identification under all of the false names, but they all had his picture on them and his appearance was the next thing he needed to change.
After collecting several thousand dollars in cash he found a small salon that wasn't crowded. He had the stylist trim his long black hair and then bleach it blond. He left the salon and went to a nearby thrift shop and bought several pairs of shorts, t-shirts and oversized button-down shirts. He was lucky to find a pair of Vans amongst the shoes they had for sale.
In the store dressing room, he changed into some of his new clothes and left his old ones with the sales clerk.
He passed an outside mall and made a few more stops. At the Sunglass Hut, he picked up a pair of Oakleys and at a cell phone store he purchased a disposable cell.
On his way to the bus station he saw some kids skateboarding. After some brief negotiation, he paid one of the kids $250.00 for his extra skateboard. He had no idea how to ride the thing, but carrying it with him would complete the look he was going for.
Dyson boarded the bus from Oakland to San Jose just after three in the afternoon. He'd spend the night in San Jose and then travel to San Diego and double back the next day to Los Angeles. He had to make sure he wasn't being tracked or followed. With luck he'd be in Los Angeles by Friday night.
Oliver met Benji at his locker after school and they walked to Benji's truck.
"Is Alex riding with us?" Oliver asked when they reached the truck.
"No, he's got his bike, so he'll meet us there," Benji replied as he unlocked the doors and they climbed in.
Benji put the key in the ignition and was about to start the truck when Oliver stopped him.
"Benji, can we talk for a minute?"
"What did you do to my mother?"
Benji's hand dropped from the ignition and he turned to face Oliver wide-eyed. He searched Oliver's face but saw no sign of anger or malice, only curiosity.
A slim grin danced across Benji's face.
"What did you do to Jester?" he asked.
Oliver paled and his eyes grew as wide as Benji's for a moment and then he broke out into a wide smile.
"Honestly, Benji, I've never been able to do that before," he said.
"So you were talking to him."
"I don't know exactly. Since I was little, I've always had this…way, I guess you'd call it, with animals. I've always loved them, but my mom would never even let me have a hamster. No animals in the house. I guess that's why I started riding. I took right to it. You know how it is when you start, everyone takes a fall."
"Well, yeah, that's part of learning."
"I never did. Ever. Not when I was learning to ride, trot, canter, and jump, none of it, never lost my seat once. Drove some of the older kids nuts. They started trying to give me the harder horses, the ones that had a rougher trot or canter or who were usually too strong for someone my size and I always got along great with them. I'd just talk to them and we'd be fine. My instructor started calling me a ‘whisperer'. I figured I just had a touch with horses."
"Some people do," Benji offered. "Dale calls me that sometimes when I work with some of the new horses, though I have come off my fair share."
"Then when I was about twelve or so, some lads and I were walking home from school. We had to pass this house where there were a couple of Rottweilers that were kept chained up. They were the meanest things ever. They would bark and growl at us and pull at their chains. Even chained up they scared the hell out of us. That day they were really riled and the bigger of the two lunged forward and the chain snapped. He took off after us and we ran as fast as we could. My mate, Connor, was a mite small for our age and not very fast. The dog was on him quick. The others kept running, but I turned to help Connor. The dog was coming right at him and Connor was frozen with fear. I screamed for the dog to stop and…he did. The damned thing stopped cold in its tracks. Tilted its head and walked up to me and started licking my hand like I was its best friend. It never bothered us again. The stupid owner yelled at us and claimed I ‘broke' his watchdog."
"Did anything like that ever happen again?"
"Just queer little things, mainly around the stables. Horses that would follow me, dogs and cats that would ignore everyone but me. Some of my friends started calling me ‘Noah'."
"So what happened yesterday?"
"I don't really know. When I saw Jester, I thought he was beautiful; I mean who wouldn't, right? But, there was something more. It's like I knew he wasn't mean or angry, just confused. He needed someone. He was calling out."
"You were talking to him."
"I guess. I mean it wasn't like we were carrying on a conversation or anything, it's more like I knew how he felt and what he wanted and I was able to assure him that no one was going to hurt him and that we were going to have fun and then he let me ride him."
"Were you controlling him?"
"Again, I don't know." Oliver shook his head. "Since it never happened before I really don't understand it."
"We'll have to see how he reacts to you today."
"So I told you, now you tell me."
Benji nodded. "Well until yesterday, all I could do was this."
Oliver's eyes widened and his jaw dropped. "Did you just? Are you?"
"Yes, I'm a telepath. I have been since I was seven. It's something that runs in my dad's family. He didn't think it would happen to me and Alex since we are adopted, but it did."
"Alex is one too?"
"As of today he is," Benji grinned. "But before today he was just telekinetic."
"What was different yesterday?"
Benji explained about his encounter with Oliver's mother and the emergence of his empathic abilities.
"I guess I sort of gave her an instant detoxification."
"Well, whatever you did, thank you," Oliver grinned. "She was so happy last night. I think father thought she was taken over by a space alien or something."
"The thing is all those feelings were in her. The love and caring, the affection she has for you and your dad, she never lost them, they just got buried under all the depression and self-hate. All I did was bring them to the top. She never stopped loving you."
Oliver turned away and looked out the window.
Benji reached out and placed his hand on Oliver's shoulder.
"Are you ok?"
"I'm fine," Oliver replied turning back. His emerald eyes glistened as they met Benji's warm chocolate ones. "I told you yesterday you just hadn't met the right person. The truth is neither had I."
He reached out and gently caressed Benji's cheek. Both boys felt like they were falling as they leaned forward and their lips met in a gentle kiss.