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The Key to Strangers (Parts 1-9, Complete)


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No idea what this is or where it came from. I have been terrible at finishing stories as of late, and I swear on my life I WILL finish this one. I can't guarantee quality or quantity, but it will have an ending. tonguesmiley.gif

The Key to Strangers


- - -

Stranger could feel Him stirring, and knew he didn’t have much time. It hadn’t been a good night. The death toll hadn’t been nearly high enough.

And it was all because of Him. Stranger didn’t know what it was that made the sonuvabitch so strong, but it was hacking away at his last nerve. They should be working together, not as enemies, but hell would freeze over before He saw sense. He was too soft, that one. Too soft for his own good. If it hadn’t been for Stranger, he’d have been gone ages ago--but was he grateful?

Of course not.

With a shake of his head, Stranger took aim and, as a slow smirk slithered across his face, pulled the final trigger of the night.

- - -

It was raining. Not that that was a surprise. It had rained every night for the past month, Lex reflected glumly. Rain was not his friend. A melancholic smile tickled his mouth as he thought of Keys, who, if he were still alive, would be out there in the downpour, spinning around in circles like a loon with that crazy grin of his, laughing his ass off.

Keys, he thought, and curled a fist in the cotton of his t-shirt to keep the memories at bay. That way lay pain, he reminded himself. Unbidden, an image of flashing blue-green eyes took shape, accompanied by a toothy grin that was all shark.

“Keys, you crazy bastard,” Lex said, staring out his bedroom window at the full, glossy moon that cast a ghostly light over the swaying trees. Pain speared his chest. “Please come back,” he whispered, voice like shattered glass. “Please come back.”

- - -


- - -

There was a dead body in the middle of the road. That was Lex’s first thought. But when he pulled his Audi to the side of the pitch-black country road, his headlights illuminated a slight movement--the rise and fall of a chest--and he let out a relieved breath.

His hands trembled with nervous energy as he hesitantly slid from the car and inched closer to the bod--person. It twitched--or was that a trick of his mind?

“Um. Dude. You alive over there?”

No reply.

He took another step, the cricket’s song like a brutal roar in his ears. “No? Drunk off your ass, then? Or, um, role-playing? Becoming one with the road?”

This time he got a response, though not one he’d expected: a snort of laughter.

“Okay, then. I assume you speak English. And either you have a sense of humor or you’re just totally insane. Or both. Both is certainly an option.”

Another option, Lex, is for you to shut the hell up. But you won’t do that will you? Oh, no, not you, old buddy old pal.

He came to a stop about two feet from the prone figure and peered down, almost afraid of what he’d see. An alien? A two-faced monster? A fleshless zombie? And what the hell was his mind doing coming up with crap like “fleshless zombie?” What did that even mean? Was it like a fancy way of saying skeleton? But skeletons didn’t breathe!

“That’s an intense conversation you appear to be having with yourself,” said the person, and Lex finally gathered up the courage to look.

Blue-green eyes like a tropical sea, tilted slightly in a way that complimented the steep slope of a nose. Long, curling eyelashes. Delicately pale skin. Slightly pointed chin. He looked like…an elf. Whoa. Okay. Not what he’d expected.

And then the boy tackled him to the ground and all his assumptions got blasted right out of him along with all his breath. Back crushed against the gravel, Lex struggled against the arm pressed tight across his throat.

Cold eyes bore into his like flames of ice. “I could kill you right now,” he said in a flat tone that sent chills through Lex. “I could kill you and hide your body where no one would find it. I could crush your windpipe in a matter of seconds. I could watch the life drain from your eyes and I could do it without a second thought.”

Lex waited for the fear to come--but it didn’t. Instead, a touch of amusement rolled in, and he felt his lips curl. “I’m peeing my pants. Really. You’re terrifying.”

Finely arched brows rose in subtle surprise. Then the arm was removed from Lex’s throat, and the boy tilted his head back and began to laugh. He was still straddling Lex, cackling like madman as tears of mirth painted his cheeks.

“Y--you’re messed up,” he huffed as he calmed, grinning madly down at Lex, his eyes alight with fevered delight.

Lex managed a stiff shrug. “And you’re not?”

Another laugh. “Nothing gets past you.” An odd expression came over him as he arched to the side with a half-shiver. His features hovered on the verge of collapse for a heartbeat before that pretty mouth opened and: “Hgnpffff!” Wincing, he knuckled his left eyebrow, blinked a few times, and let loose a tense breath.

Concern unexpectedly settled into his bones as Lex noticed the slight flush coloring those elegant cheekbones. “You’re sick,” he said, sitting up as the boy moved away from him.

He shook his head--“I’m not.”--and sneezed again, trying to pass it off as a yawn. “Mmbk!shh-uh.”

Lex reached a hand up, felt the heated brow warm his skin. The boy blinked at him like an owl but didn’t move away. “You’re, um, a little warm,” Lex mumbled, tongue like a twisted pretzel in his dry mouth.

A grim little smile visited his face. “I’ll be fine. I’m always warm.”

Lex shook his head. Here he was worrying about some random guy he’d found lying in the middle of the road while he was supposed to be home babysitting his little sister Virgo. Yep, his mom was right; his priorities were totally screwed.

“Look, can I give you a ride somewhere?” he asked, unwilling to just leave the guy here by himself in the middle of the night and nowhere.

The boy laughed bitterly. “You should get back into your expensive car, drive home to your cozy mansion and your high-tech security system, and pretend you never met me. It’s best.”

“No,” Lex said simply. “If you don’t have anywhere to go”--and from the look on the boy’s face Lex suspected he didn’t--“then you can come stay with me.”

The smile twisted into something bitter and wrong. “No,” he said stonily. “I can’t stay here. Not here. This place is…” The expression he was wearing was cold and lethal, and should have made Lex run in the other direction. Should have.

“By ‘this place’ I assume you mean Area 12. In which case you don’t have to worry because I most assuredly do not live in this cesspit.”

An arched brow. “No? You just vacation here?”

Lex snorted. “Stop stalling, man. We both know how this ends.”

“With you’re bloated body floating face-down in the nearest swap?”

“With you in my very expensive car heading to my ginormous mansion with its million dollar security system.”

“I see. It’s only a matter of time, then, I assume?”


“Why fight it?”

“Why, man? Why?”

The boy grinned.

Lex grinned back. “Hey,” he said, feeling like an idiot. “What’s your name?”

That lightning smile dimmed. “Keys,” he said shortly. “Call me Keys.”

“Well, I will. And you can call me Lex, because, um, that’s my name. Short for Alexion, but don’t tell anyone I said that or I’ll never live it down. In fact, it’s better you never say it out loud--ever.”

“I’ll think on it,” Keys said, a thatch of raven hair falling across his face to shield his expression. “Alexion.”

- - -



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welcome back lovely Scion! :yes:

you´ve got the talent in your writing that when i read your stories everytime i mean everytime the whole scenery just forms a perfect picture before my inner eyes :eek: that´s *shivers* weird and amazing at the same time ^_^

and here we have another GREAT start of a new story and i´m longing for the next update!!!

please more! :wub:

p.s.: by the way:

No idea what this is or where it came from. I have been terrible at finishing stories as of late, and I swear on my life I WILL finish this one. I can't guarantee quality or quantity, but it will have an ending. Posted Image
i do hope you will continue Breath Through It too sometime...i really hope so...pretty please??? *puppy eyes glowing from your screen* :inlove:
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Ciuty80: I will never get tired of your amazing compliments. Thank you so, so, so much! I'm thrilled you like my writing. And as for Breathe Through It, since you asked, I will be sure to finish it, probably after I get this one done. yes.gif

greetingsfromboston: Aw, I'm glad you like it so far! Thank you tons!

Daisoku: Ohh, yay! Thank you so much!



- - -

After January 14th, 2006, a date every Area 11-er would rather forget, Lex’s life had given him a good kick to the face and said, Hey, guess what, buddy? Your days are gonna suck from here on out. Whattaya say about that, huh, huh?

He’d had it easy…before. He and his parents and sister were one big happy family--hell, the biggest fight they’d had in ‘05 had probably been about whether vanilla or chocolate ice cream was better (chocolate, all the way).

Then the Niners had ruined everything. And the most ironic part was that the first time in his entire life Lex had had a real fight with his dad, was the same day Harrison O’Mara had been blown to bits along with the rest of South-11.

Why do you get to be happy when I’m not? Why do you get to ruin my life with that big freaking smile on your face and say it’s for my own good like I’m two-years-old?

Yeah. So now it was just his mom and sister…and Lex--the designated babysitter. One day he’d find those Brothers of Virtue and introduce them to his fists.

“Kay, we’re here,” Lex announced as he pulled up in front of his house, a small cabin set back in a huddle of tall pines and oaks. “This is my lovely mansion. I’ll let you decide which guestroom to stay in. There’s ten to choose from.”

Instead of producing a snappy comeback, Keys looked at him guardedly, his eyes lightly probing. Lex waited for him to say something…and waited…

“I guess I’ll take that as a victory, then,” Lex said cautiously.

Keys didn’t smile. “Don’t get used to it.” Then he closed his eyes and leaned his head on the window. That’s when Lex noticed the blood.

Horror filled him as he stared at the red cloud staining the dark fabric of Keys’ shirt, right above where his navel should be. “Y--you’re bleeding,” he said, suddenly feeling nauseous. Blood had never bothered him before, but now he felt ready to pass out--or scream--or something equally as appalling.

A long-fingered hand came up to cover the spot in question. “It’s nothing,” Keys told him, cheek still pressed to the glass. “Minor stab wound.”

Lex tasted sour fear as he said, “Minor stab wound? Are you freaking kidding me, man? Did you seriously just sit there and say minor stab wound?”



“A number of things, I’m sure,” Keys smirked. “My ability to grade and classify wounds not being among them.”

“That’s it, I’m calling--” Keys was on him in seconds and had Lex’s phone clutched in a fist that looked ready to crush the defenseless piece of plastic.

“No, you’re not,” Keys said, voice a growl. His narrowed eyes literally flashed, sparks of fluorescent orange overshadowing the blue.

Lex raised his hands in surrender. “Whatever you say, bud. If you wanna bleed to death, go right ahead. You won’t find any help from me.”

Keys looked down at the cell. “What is this, anyway? Looks like it’s from the Cretaceous Period.”

“Yeah,” Lex quipped, “my great grandpa Tyrannosaurus Rex gave it to me--right after he ate my face.

Keys’ answering laugh was cut off by a breathless and full-sounding “Hptnxdsshhuh!” that caused him to bang his head on the glass. He made a little grumbling noise, then turned a startling shark grin on Lex, tilting his head to the side. Reaching out, he pinched Lex’s cheeks--hard. “What’s this, then? A mask?” He tugged harder. “High quality.”

Lex huffed out a grudging laugh as the other guy continued to fondle his face. “It grew back,” he deadpanned, as straight-faced as he could be with someone attempting to amputate his cheeks.

“Did it?” Keys bit his lip. “A little sunlight, a little water?” Patting Lex’s cheek, he sat back, and Lex caught the wince he tried to hide.

“Come inside,” he said gently. “We’ll take care of that…minor stab wound of yours. My sister’s got some pink pony Band-Aids I’m sure would suit you.”

“I’m more of a princess kind of guy,” Keys said, rubbing the red, twitchy mess that was his nose. “Hhh…tchfshhnng!

Lex touched his fingertips to the top of Keys’ hand where it was curled around his wound. Warm, he thought foggily. Too warm. “I’m going inside. You can come, or you can stay out here and bake in the heat.”

“Decisions, decisions.” A loopy smile toyed with Keys’ mouth. “I think I’ll give door number one a chance.”

“Good choice.”

- - -

He smelled it the moment they stepped inside. Something burning. Lex groaned. “VIRGO! WHAT THE HECK DID YOU DO THIS TIME?” At Keys’ arched brows, he added, “My sister has dreams of becoming a chef.”

“Is that so?” Keys smirked; he should have looked at ease, and he did, to anyone not paying attention--but Lex zeroed in on the tight shoulders, the crossed arms, the wary eyes, and knew the guy was anything but calm.

So Lex did the only thing he could think to do--he took Keys’ hand and laced their fingers together. He was met with no resistance. Not even when Keys’ breath stuttered, stopped, when he buried his nose in his upper arm and… “Hihh…chxshhuh!

“BLESS YOU!” Virgo’s shrill voice floated from somewhere beyond.

Keys took a step back toward the door, looking ready to bolt.

“Please don’t,” Lex said softly.

“You’ll regret this,” Keys replied, but allowed Lex to lead him further into the house.

“No, I don’t think I will.”

- - -

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Dude this is awesome!!! I can't wait for more. But the thought that Keys is already dead...TT ~ TT

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TWO TIMES IN ONE DAY???!!!! You. Are. Awesome. I shall now crawl off to my little pineapple under the sea and wait for more. *crawls off* Okay, I'm waiting. I hope there's more soon! I don't like waiting. ;)

BYE! :bleh:

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yayayay welcome back!

I smell a pretty boy. C:

and Lex reminds me of Wes (was it Wes? the one with uncontrollable verbal diarrhea :P the name escapes me but well, y'know)

you're giving me something to look forward to, besides meeting Justin Bieber on Tuesday (I'm sorry, I had to share my joy)

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YES YES YES!!!! I wish I'd seen the first part earlier so I could've commented twice and showed you EXACTLY how awesome this is and how wonderful you are for writing it! biggrin.png I can't wait to see where this goes, with Keys and Lex (whose full name I think is wicked cool btw). I keep reading these stories of yours and thinking "Dude, I need to use that word somewhere, why don't I think of this when I write?" You are fantastic, I can't wait for the next part! heart.gif

I'm already a sucker for Keys and his sickness and sneezing and just...allow me to go back and read again because I'm not capable of coherent comments at this hour of the night...morning...you've made me a happy person. wub.png

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Yay!!! Scion is back again!!!!! So excited! I really love the banter between the boys. Being a sarcastic person myself it always makes me happy seeing I'm not the only one that enjoys some irony.

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i´m really happy to read about a maybe-continuation of Breath Through It ^_^

very promising update!

i can´t really tell how i feel about keys, he is creeeeepy :lol:

please more! :wub:

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Akahana: Wow, thank you! I'm glad you like it!

Bubbles!: Hahahaha. I thank you, but YOU are the awesome one in this scenario! biggrin.png

Emily: YAY! To you too. I am very happy you decided to come here and comment on my humble offerings. Lol. Don't even know what I'm talking about. Anyway, YES. It is Wes. Word vomit. Yep. And ohhh I didn't know you were a Bieber girl. Why must you make me feel old!? *cries herself to sleep* JK, I'd totally like details after this upcoming meeting.

ElementsofGray: No worries. One comment from you is equal to at least three comments in general! tongue.png And haha, I'm sure if I read your writing I'd be thinking the same thing! 'Cause in my head I feel like I'm just recycling the same words over and overrrr. I don't even know...the idea that you like this so much is basically gold to me. Don't know how else to say it. You are awesome. THANK YOU.

Alexys52: Aww, you're so sweet! Thank you for the amazing welcome. And yes, sarcasm is the best. I am addicted to it. No, I'm in love with it. smile.png

Ciuty80: Hahaha, I find it so funny that you're the only one to point out how creepy Keys is! But you're right, he totally is! Hopefully you will warm to him eventually, though. yay.gif



- - -

“Who’s he!?” Virgo pointed a sticky finger at Keys’ chest. She was stirring some mysterious substance in a big silver pot on the stove, and the scents of burnt rubber and sour vinegar were almost enough to make him gag.

“Put your finger down before someone bites it off,” Lex said to her.

“What is it with your family and cannibalism?” Keys asked from the corner of his curled mouth.

“Are you calling me a reptile?”

“Hey, I’m not the one who has man-eating dinosaurs in the family.” He bit his lip, then muttered, “Actually, that’s not strictly true.”

“HELLO!?” Virgo stomped her eleven-year-old foot, gold curls bouncing around her deceitfully cherubic face. “Why is no one listening to me?”

“Because no one likes you!” Lex said.

Virgo glared and yanked the wooden spoon out of the pot; a big glob of…something…stuck to the end. It looked like a purplish tar-type substance.

“I don’t think that whole chef thing is going to work out,” Keys commented.

Lex snickered. “Has Mom called?” he asked his sister.

She pouted and shook her head.

“Guess she doesn’t like you either,” Lex joked to disguise his agitation.

Virgo opened her mouth--then paused with it still wide, blinked rapidly, and shut it. A suspicious gesture if ever he’d seen one.

“Something to share?” Like why mom supposedly works at an antique store but is gone at all hours of the night?

“Nope. Here, taste this.” She shoved the spoon in his face and he nearly fainted from the stench of it. “I think it may need some more salt.”

He backed away. “I’d rather not poison myself tonight, if it’s all the same to you.”

“You big baby.”


From his periphery, Lex saw Keys capture an unruly sneeze in the crook of his arm; little prickles of worry ate at him as he watched the pain spike in the ocean eyes.


Virgo turned her attention on poor Keys, waving her lethal concoction under his tortured nose. “Hey, you, try some of this! Tell me what you think!”

“He has a name,” Lex snapped. “And get that thing out of his face before it decides to come to life and take a snap at him.”

“Your mind is a dangerous land,” Keys said.

“Not as dangerous as whatever’s on that spoon.”

“Hey, mister,” Virgo said, the calculation draining from her features as she stared at Keys. “You’re bleeding.”

“Oh that?” Lex squeezed Keys’ hand. “No, that’s just a minor stab wound. One that should be taken care of,” he said under his breath.

Keys flashed a devilish grin. “Stitch me up, Doctor Alexion.”

- - -

“Umm. Keys? What are you doing?”

“Staring at you.”

“I can see that. Why?”

Keys, who sat cross-legged at the end of Lex’s bed, stretched like a cat and replied, “I’m imagining all the different ways I could kill you.”

“Ah.” Lex scratched his chin awkwardly. “That sounds…interesting.”

“Not really.” Keys tipped his head one way then the other, eyes still fixed on Lex’s face in a way that made him feel distinctly vulnerable. “I’m much more interested in you in alive.”

“Well, that’s good to hear.” Lex tried a smile. “What are my odds of making it through the night?”

“I’d say about fifty-fifty.” The teasing glint in Keys’ eyes softened the words, and although Lex knew he should have been cosmically freaked out…he wasn’t.

The manic light in Keys’ irises darkened. He crawled across the bed, putting his mouth to Lex’s ear, his breath tickling the sensitive skin. “Are you scared?” He smelled like crushed grass and bottled sunlight and something darker.

“No,” Lex exhaled shakily, his entire body coiled with tension.

“I knew you’d say that.”

Lex felt the curving of the other boy’s lips against his cheek. “You’re not nearly as intimidating as you think you are, Elf Boy.”

A rush of air grazed Lex’s ear as Keys recoiled and gave a stifled “Uhnkt!-uu. Hh. Who said anything about being intimidating? I merely enjoy making people uncomfortable.”

“Big surprise. How’s your stab wound?”

Keys lifted his shirt, uncovering criss-crossing pink pony Band-Aids taped across a swathe of white gauze Lex had found under the sink. “Thanks to your exalted skills, I’m well on my way to one-hundred-and-one percent. Your services will not go unrewarded.”

Lex was about to reply when his nose alerted him to a possible catastrophe. “VIRGO! YOU BETTER BE IN YOUR BED AND NOT IN THE KITCHEN COOKING UP SOME TOXIC WASTE!”

The clacking of pots was the only response he got. “That girl needs to be caged.” Lex glanced at Keys, expecting a feline grin, but was startled to see the boy had gone white as a sheet. “Hey, whoa, you okay?”

Keys nodded jerkily, then curled up at the foot of the bed. “I’m going to sleep now.”

Curiosity and concern battled it out for supremacy. Concern won. “Yeah, sure, okay. Hey, Keys?”


“You’re safe here. I mean, you know that, right?”

“Shut up, Alexion,” Keys said, but Lex could hear the smile in his voice.

- - -

When Lex woke in the middle of the night, feeling cold despite the sweat glued to his skin, he knew something was wrong. Blinking back waves of sleep, he sat up and looked around, his mind going immediately to Keys, who was…gone.

Heart racing, Lex crept to his bedroom door. His mind conjured an array of terrible things that could have happened to Keys--anything from being eaten by fleshless zombies to being transported back to the Cretaceous period and being chased by a flock of Velociraptors chatting away on their cell phones about how great Keys’ butt meat was going to taste and--a sound from down the hall caught his attention, and he held his breath, listening.

“We already know where he’s being kept,” came the distant voice. Keys. Lex sagged with relief. “We just need the code. Just give me the code, and I’ll disappear forever.”

Huh? What was he talking about? What code? And who was being kept where? Dizzy with unanswered questions, Lex loped down the hall, stopping short at the open door to the office off the kitchen. The sight he was met with caused ice to invade his veins, shock and terror to lodge in his throat.

Lex’s mom was sitting at the desk, one hand splayed over her heart and fright widening her coppery eyes. Behind her, Keys stood with a knife pressed to her throat, face hard and cruel. And, on his bared arm, Lex could make out a blurry image in the darkness: a white feather. The white feather.

His ears began to ring as Lex stared, shaking, at the tattoo. “Keys,” he said, voice barely above a whisper, “you’re one of them.”

- - -

So...I'm mean. I know.

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My goodness, 3 comments? XD Your writing is spectacular, I don't think I can believe you'd be so impressed by mine, haha. As far as I've read, your word choice is unique to you, and it doesn't seem repetitive at all. You really deserve every bit of praise people give you. :D

That cliffhanger, yeah, that was mean. It just means you'll have to grace us with the next part of your beautiful story again very very soon! :P I feel like I missed something here about the white feather, somehow, a hint or...something. XD But I love your characters more and more, they're so witty and entertaining. I can't wait to read more!!

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I hate.... love.... hate.... I don't know how I feel about you right now but I know it's too complicated to describe. Just all I have to say is you need to continue this, and I have now decided that cliffhangers are the work of the devil (or you apparently). Hope there's more soon! (You might continue Breathe Through It? OMG I am so fangirling right now!)

BYE! :bleh:

P.S. I was reading this while a thunderstorm was going on outside. There was lightning and rain slanted sideways, the whole works. It not only reminded me of your story Puppy Love but it also totally set the mood for this chapter. I didn't really need to tell you this but I felt like mentioning it cuz' it was totally foreboding and awesome!

BYE! Again. :bleh::bleh:

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didn´t saw something like this one coming eek.gifshocking.gif!

Lex’s mom was sitting at the desk, one hand splayed over her heart and fright widening her coppery eyes. Behind her, Keys stood with a knife pressed to her throat, face hard and cruel

some kind of scenes i would have in mind if i would´ve never heard what my parents taught me when in was little: "NEVER talk to strangers, NEVER get in the car of strangers and NEVER let strangers into our house!!!" eyebrow.gif

i wonder what lex is going to do now...confused1.gif

please more! wub.png

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WHAT WHAT WHAT WHAT WHAT!!!!? What is this now!? (is spazzing uncontrollably) WHAT!?

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ElementsofGray: Nooo, you are too nice to me! And I bet your writing is better than you think. If you thought it was perfect, then most likely it's not as good as you think, but since you don't it must be better than you think. I don't think that made any sense at all. As for you missing something...I'm sure you know by now how ridiculously ambiguous my writing is. Half the time I don't even know what the heck I'm talking about, and then I have to come up with an elaborate twist to tie the nonsense together. :lol:

Bubbles!: Muahaha, you can love and hate me at the same time. But you're REALLY going to hate me now. *hides in terror* I apologize in advance for my cruelty. Also, the fact that you even remember Puppy Love, let alone the storm that takes place in it, is prettttty awesome. I HAVE written some more of Breathe Through It, so I should post more after I finish with this.

Ciuty80: Haha, yes, if only Lex had listened to his parents! Stranger danger. :lol:

Akahana: Ahahaha I shall take your spaz attack as a compliment! :razz:



- - -

A humorless smile briefly appeared before Keys tucked the expression away. “I told you you’d regret this,” he said, his knife hand steady, no emotion bleeding into his tone. “Now,” he said to Lex’s mom, “give me the code, or I leave your little girl without a mother. Ending your life will be easy. Just a flick of my wrist and you’ll--”

“OKAY!” his mother shouted, angry tears raining down her cheeks. “Okay, you heartless bastard! I’ll give you your damn code, but you leave my children alone.” A growl seeped in her words, and the look on her face was one Lex would never forget; there was murder in her eyes, plain and simple.

“Good,” Keys said, never turning to look at Lex, who was having a hard time getting oxygen to his brain.

Lex’s mom rattled off a seven digit code, and Lex could see her literally shaking with rage. “We will make you pay for this,” she whispered, teeth clenched.

Keys flashed his catlike grin. “Oh, girly, I can assure you there’s nothing you can do to me that hasn’t already been done.” Then, for an instant, he directed his gaze at Lex. Before Lex could get a read on the other boy, Keys was in motion.

Lex’s mother unlocked the bottom right drawer of the desk, whipped out a sleek, black handgun, and fired at Keys’ retreating figure, the weapon‘s silencer rendering the act that much more sinister. Her aim was sound, but Keys was too fast for her and, in the blink of an eye, he was gone.

“Wh…what?” Lex swayed on his feet.

“HE’S ONE OF THEM!” his mother said in hissing whisper, her nails digging into the leather arms of the chair. “A Brother of Virtue.” She spat the words like deadly venom.

Lex reeled back, though he’d already surmised as much on his own. But he could not let this go. No, oh, no. He’d let that…person into their home, and if Keys thought he could use Lex like that and then just vanish into a distant memory, he needed to think again!

Thoughts a jumble of disjointed threads that seemed unable to connect, Lex took off after Keys, determined to--to get an explanation, to get…anything!

“ALEX!” his mother called after him, but he ignored her.

Things couldn’t end like this. Not like this. Not after--after--he didn’t even know, but he was sure something had gone down between them, and he would make Keys admit at least that much.

- - -

All the years of being chased by his little sister were finally paying off as Lex used up all his energy in the pursuit of Keys, whose pace was almost inhuman. They sprinted down winding country roads, through splashes of trees and across pebble-lined streams. A number of different aches and pains had taken up residence in Lex’s lanky frame, but he refused to acknowledge them.

Finally, after an eternity, Lex saw Keys slow and come to a halt in a small clearing near the end of Birch Street. He didn’t look winded in the slightest, but Lex had to rest with his hands on his knees as he gasped for breath. Keys suddenly turned, as if sensing Lex’s presence; ducking behind the nearest tree, Lex bit his lip and counted to ten before taking another peek.

Headlights flared, and a black sedan pulled up beside Keys’ clearing. A tall, older man with a thick beard and clad in a bright white suit stepped out of the back. His thin mouth had a cruel tilt to it, and when he spoke his voice was all smoke and ash.

“Keys. Why are you here?”

Lex had to strain to make out the boy’s reply. “I don’t know. But I got the code. That’s all you care about, right?”

He sounded weird, younger somehow, and the rawness of his voice caused Lex’s proverbial hackles to rise.

“Get him back,” was the man’s stone-cold response.

“I can’t.”

Thin lips contorted into a snarl that was gone in a blink as the emotionless mask fell into place. In his hand appeared a rectangle of silver, which he thrust toward Keys’ chest. Keys jumped as what had to be a jolt of electricity juddered through him. The man was about to shock him again when a sound burst from Lex, unstoppable.

“STOOOOOOP!” And he was running, running toward Keys, and he didn’t know why, but he knew he couldn’t let that monster hurt him again.

It all happened too fast; later, the whole scene would blur together into a smear of pain and regret that would haunt him forever. Another man appeared beside the first one, this one holding a gun, which he pointed at Lex. There was a snap, and then Keys was there, in front of him, tackling him to the ground.

Lex slammed to the gravel, pain slicing up his back. Keys, on top of him, made a strangled noise in the back of his throat and said, “Run!

A starburst of blood bloomed at his lower abdomen; Lex stared at it, couldn’t look away, couldn’t breathe, couldn’t focus, couldn’t--

“RUN!” Keys was grabbing at him, hauling him up, shoving him away and screaming in his face to runrunrunrunrun!

More shots fired, and Lex ran. He ran, and he didn’t look back. He ran, and left Keys behind. He left Keys behind.

- - -

Lying his bed that night, Lex couldn’t get his mind to switch off. His mother’s words circled his brain over and over.

I joined the Sisterhood to fight against them, Alex. Did you really expect me to sit back and do nothing after what they did to your father?

It’s not that he thought fighting against the all too conservative Brothers was wrong, but the fact that his mother had joined the Justice Sisters and not told him made him sick to his stomach. He felt stupid and used, like a little kid who couldn’t see the big picture.

The Brotherhood wanted a world where everyone was the same, a world where the words individuality and expression were removed from the dictionary. The Justice Sisters were there to make things difficult for them, which was all well and good, but his mom. REALLY?

A scratching at his window had Lex tensing, ready for battle. Cautiously, he stole across his room, peering through the curtains and out into the 3:00 AM darkness.

A ghostly face appeared. Startled, Lex choked back a scream. Reflective blue-green eyes blinked at him from a pale face. A motion light flashed on outside the house, illuminating Keys, who was perched at the end of a tree branch, one palm splayed against the window glass. His mouth opened, and Lex thought he was about to speak, but then he noticed the crinkling of brows and the slight flaring of nostrils.

Keys flinched with a silent sneeze, opening bleary eyes to stare into Lex’s. He mouthed something, and it took Lex a few seconds to puzzle it together. “I told you you’d regret me.”

And, because he was an idiot and a loser, and because Keys had said ‘you’d regret me and not ‘you’d regret trusting me,’ Lex braced himself and opened the window.

Keys spilled inside, all of his feline grace absent. Lex could see him shaking, and his heart clenched, all the accusations dying on his tongue.

“Come here,” Lex said. He sat down on his bed, and was shocked when, smelling of sweat and night air, Keys crawled into his lap; he curled into a ball, pressing his face into Lex’s belly. Lightheaded with an overload of conflicting emotions, Lex stroked the soft hair. When he tried to speak, his throat seized with brittle pain.

Nxt!-gff!” Keys stifled a sneeze against Lex’s stomach, his fingers folding into the gray cotton of Lex’s t-shirt. He would not stop trembling, and, despite all odds, it was tearing a hole in Lex’s heart. His shoulders heaved, and he shook with another, harsher sneeze. “Hih’utschhuh!

An image of blood rammed into Lex suddenly. “You’re hurt,” he said in a rush, hands fumbling about, searching for injuries.

“Y-yeah,” Keys said hoarsely, teeth chattering, “I had a r-run in with your g-great grandpa. It d-didn’t end so w-hh-well--h’unkt-chhh!

Lex gripped the end of his blanket and tossed it over Keys. “That cold doesn’t sound good.” And you shouldn’t care, you absolute pathetic moron! “And before. You were shot. I saw you get shot. I saw the blood, Keys. There was so much blood. And you used me and I can’t even care because there’s something wrong with me and I only have half a brain and--”

“It was just a graze,” Keys said.

“Oh, of course. Let me guess, it was a minor gun shot wound, right?”

“Akin to a paper cut.”

Lex was so caught up in his worry and self-hatred, he failed to hear his bedroom door creak open, failed to see the silhouette of his mother in the doorway, or the gun she had pointed at the back of Keys’ head.

Until it was too late to make a difference.

“Get away from him.” She spoke softly, calmly, but there was an ice to her tone, a poisonous edge that made the hairs at the back of Lex’s neck stand on end.

“Mom, wait a sec--”

I said get away from him!

Lex was looking at her, looking at his mother, his flesh and blood, and he saw the way her eyes narrowed viciously, the lack of hesitation before she pulled that trigger.

The lack of pity as she hit her mark. The satisfied slant to her mouth. The triumphant click of her tongue. A job well done.

And in that stretch of time, he hated her. He hated her so much he imagined walking up to her, taking her by the shoulders, and driving her to the ground. I hate you! he would scream. You’re a liar! And you killed him! You fucking killed him, you bitch!

But Keys was on the floor, his limbs contorted unnaturally, his chest kicking up and down in panicked little bursts. And then it wasn’t kicking anymore and Lex was on his knees and he couldn’t breathe and he was pulling the limp body into his arms and Keys was trying to say something and there was a strange liquid trickling out between his lips and Lex was yelling, “It’s nothing! It’s minor! Just a scratch, Keys, just a scratch.”

And the red lips were curving, forming words: “Stitch…me…up…Doc…”

And the heart stopped beating.

And Lex stopped breathing.

And Keys stopped being.

- - -

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Haha, you made plenty of sense. I'm always impressed with your ties and twists in your stories!! I'd never guess you don't know what you're doing with them. XD Ambiguity makes things interesting, no? :D

BUT THIS PART! You've astounded me once again. I love all the dramatic effects. I read the last three lines in slow motion I think, because even though I knew Keys was dead, I REALLY didn't want him to be. Please tell me there's some kind of loophole here. ;_; I love him so much, and I love even MORE that you're updating this story so quickly so I don't have to wait and wonder forever about what's happening next. :3 It's sooo interesting and I just...need the rest. Please. Soon. :heart:

(Also, reading your reply to Bubbles!, Puppy Love was my favorite story of yours. I'm so glad she brought it up so I can go back and reread it for the millionth time. biggrin.png )

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Dear Scion,

Marry me and bring all your stories with you. :)



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I'M CRYING!!!! TT o TT NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO KEYS!!!! Please tell me there's more, he comes back in some twisted fantasy way or something PLEASE!?

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I..... I'm just gonna go off and cry now. I hope you're happy that this was so sad and awesome that you made me cry. Keys...*whimpers*

Bye. :cry:

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...it's going to take a while for me to come up with a legitimate witty remark for this one.

I'll spazz while I'm at it


it's you, and I was totally expecting something like this but omg, prove me wrong, won't ya? that wedding still on? you know I proposed to you first :(

shfffff yesI'matotalyBeliebernotreallyIwaspeerpressuredintopreorderinghisalbum. So I'll just have him sign the album and sell it off for like 3x it's worth mwahaha. Selling point: JUSTIN BIEBER HAS TOUCHED THIS WITH HIS BARE HANDS.

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i knew something like that would happen cry.gif

you explained all about The Brotherhood and Justice Sister and i totally understand why Lex´s mom hated keys so much...

but at this point:

“Come here,” Lex said. He sat down on his bed, and was shocked when, smelling of sweat and night air, Keys crawled into his lap; he curled into a ball, pressing his face into Lex’s belly. Lightheaded with an overload of conflicting emotions, Lex stroked the soft hair.

i couldn´t help it, i just felt some sympathy growing in me for keys...twitchsmile.gif

but i also know...this is not the end yet yes.gif

this wouldn´t be a Scion story if it would end right here no2.gif

*tries to wait patiently for the next update...* Jumpy.gif

please more! wub.png

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ElementsofGray: I guess you'll have to wait and see what twists I come up with next. 4.gif Haha, actually, I spent most of the day trying to decide what was going to happen next (when I was supposed to be doing other, more important things, of course)- but secretly this is actually very important. XD There were so many different options I couldn't decide. Hopefully I chose the right one! It's always fun to write myself into a corner, then have to find a way out. (Real authors would kill me for admitting to that!) And awww, you re-read my stories??? That. Is. Really. Awesome.

Rachiella44: Haha, well, if you insist. Please bring your stories as well!

Akahana: That's the best part about fantasy. Anything can happen!

Bubbles!: Aww, I'm sorry. I will make it up to you! (Is sadistically happy about making you cry). Please forgive me!

Emily: Jeez, you know I'm grading you on your wittiness! Off days are not allowed. Prove you wrong, huh? Sounds like a challenge. MUST. WIN. !! OR...else. And OBVIOUSLY I'm going to marry you. Do you even have to ask? *gasp* You caved to peer pressure? Shame, woman. Shame. biggrinsmiley.gif

Ciuty80: You know me so well. yes.gif And you know I can't stop writing when you leave such encouraging comments! blushsmiley.gif (Plus, I must get you to like Keys!)



- - -

“LEX!” Someone banged on his bedroom door. “YOU PLANNING ON GETTING OUT OF BED TODAY, OR WHAT!?”

“Go away,” he groaned into the pillow.

“No can do, sweetie pie, honey bunch, love muffin, buttercup!”

It was official Talesta Phoenix would be the death of him. It hadn’t been so bad, back when she’d been Virgo’s quiet little friend, but ever since she’d set her eyes on Lex, things had become…awkward. And that was Lex, King of Understatements.

Today would be another day of the same. The woman he used to call his mother was almost a distant memory, as she never bothered to come home, and it was up to Lex to make sure Virgo didn’t burn the house down. To top it all off, he couldn’t shake the feeling that someone was watching him.

Someone other than Talesta.

- - -

Apparently, the sameness had its fingers not only in Lex’s life, but in life in general. He couldn’t turn on the TV or radio without hearing about the mysterious “Stranger,” and his most current crime. The weird part was, everyone who claimed to see him, saw something different--hence the name.

He was the biggest, baddest Brother of Virtue out there--and Lex didn’t care. About anything. Not even the fact that Stranger’s supposed next target…was his mother.

- - -

Stranger didn’t have wants or hopes. He simply was. And what he was, was what his master wanted him to be. He did what he was told and nothing more.

“Karissa O’Mara. She is the brains of the Justice Sisters and I want her eliminated.”

And because those were his orders, he would follow them. If he did not, he would go back into the cage. And if he hesitated, he would get a not so subtle reminder that free will was not something he could claim.


Speaking of not so subtle reminders… As Stranger stood outside the tiny house he’d found himself drawn to for the past few months, wondering what glitch in his system was to blame for the unnatural magnetism, he felt another tickle in his nose.

No doubt it was Brother Blackbarr telling him to hurry up and end his next life.

But somehow, in this place, he felt…free, real in a way that was foreign to him. Still, part of him wondered if there was something missing, something he’d forgotten.

“You’re stalling, Brother.”

Stranger didn’t bother to turn around. He knew the voice. “And you’re annoying.”

“That may be true, but I make a valid point.”

“What do you care, anyway?”

A pause. “I don’t know. I just don’t want to see you locked in that cage again. It’s not good for my appetite, choking on the rancid scent of your unwashed self.”

Another insistent itch in Stranger’s nose made him grit his teeth. Here, right here in this place, at this non-descript cabin in the woods, Stranger could almost feel human. He pinched his nose shut, determined to ignore Brother Blackbarr for as long as he could.

“Stranger,” Stellen said pointedly. “You can’t shut him out like that. Just get the job done. Please.

Stranger finally pivoted to look his fellow Brother in the eye. He was unaccustomed to the note of concern in the other man’s voice. Concern was not in the vocabulary of most Brothers, especially not in relation to him. “F-hh-fine. I’ll do it if you swear to stop acting all warm and fuzzy. It’s creeping me hh--ou--uh’IXGTshhh!--out.”

Stellen, long silver-blond hair pouring over his shoulders, bowed his head and drew an X across where his heart would be. If he had one. “I swear it on my cold, metal heart.”

With a nod, Stranger slid back into the shadows, letting the crisp, autumn night swallow him up.

- - -

Karissa O’Mara knew he was coming for her. She’d always known. Alex couldn’t understand that she stayed away not because it pleased her, but because it was the only way she knew to keep her children safe. She didn’t want them to be associated with her, didn’t want them in harm’s way when death came knocking at her door.

Death, as it turned out, came sooner than she’d imagined. When it did, she had only seconds to realize what was happening, seconds to take in the face of her killer.

Her last thoughts were of not of her children, but of her own stupidity. In the end, she had been as easy to kill as that vile Brother had foreseen.

- - -

In the dark parking lot behind the antique shop, Stranger stared down at the lifeless body. The eyes were wide and empty, the mouth hanging open, and the face--something about it tickled his memory. His target was dead.

But he hadn’t been the one to kill her.

Stellen spoke from a quiet spill of moonlight. “Aren’t you going to thank me?”

“I’ll take a rain check.” At the moment, he felt like he was falling, falling through layers of fire and ice, and he didn’t think he’d find ground any time soon.

Stellen’s sylphlike features pulled into a frown. “You’re not nearly as intimidating as you think you are.”

You’re not nearly as intimidating as you think you are…

You’re not nearly as intimidating as you think you are…

You’re not nearly as intimidating as you think you are…

“Brother? You okay?”

You’re not nearly as intimidating as you think you are…


You’re not nearly as intimidating as you think you are…

“SAY THAT AGAIN!” Stranger grabbed the startled man by the shoulders. “SAY THAT AGAIN!”

“Say what!?”

“What you just said!”

“Which part!?”

Dammit!” Stranger raked his hands back through his hair, his mind screaming at him to remember something that was just out of reach.

Stellen slapped him. Stunned, Stranger put a hand to his stinging cheek. “What was that for?”

Stellen shrugged helplessly. “You were freaking out!”

“No I wasn’t!”

“Yes, you were.”

“I…hihh…” Stranger pressed a palm to his nose, wondering what was up with the thing that it wouldn’t leave him alone. It had to be more than just Brother Blackbarr’s anger. And, strangely, it brought to mind a sensation of…warmth. “I…ihh…think I’m hah’uxshhnk! I think I’m broken.”

- - -

Sitting sandwiched between Virgo and Talesta was not Lex’s idea of a good time. The girls kept spilling their buttery popcorn on his lap, then giggling about it as they kicked their feet up onto the coffee table and stared avidly at the chick flick on TV.

Lex was inwardly bemoaning his existence when the film cut off abruptly to some annoying news anchor lady with way too much hair and not nearly enough forehead.

“The infamous Stranger has struck again. His latest victim, Sister Karissa O’Mara, was found murdered outside an Area 11 antique shop, her throat slit. Authorities…”

Lex stopped listening to the words, all his focus on Virgo, who’d paled to a sickly yellow color, her mouth dangling open in shock.

“…first image of the terrorist ever caught on film…”

Lex whipped his head around, fury pulsing through him. If he was going to kill the sonuvabitch, he had to know what he looked like.

A dark, grainy clip flashed across the screen. In the periphery of the frame, a wraithlike face appeared in profile. Stranger. His mother’s killer.

Everyone saw something different when they gazed upon the outlaw.

Lex…saw Keys.

- - -

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It's impressive, finding your way out of corners so smoothly (at least it seems smooth when I read it). And of COURSE I reread your stories! Before I joined the forum, I actually searched through about 20 or so pages of these fics until I was absolutely sure I'd read every one at least once. And then my favorites, I'd flip back through to find since I couldn't use the search feature. XD So you're awesome. :D

Just like this part, I love you!! Keeeeeys!!!! I knew he couldn't be dead forever! I need to know more about him and see him be reunited with Lex, and dude, your NAMES. I'm pretty sure I say it at least once with every one of your stories, but the names you put in here are one of the things I look forward to reading because they're so different, but you fit them so well into your stories. Your stories make me want to write more because you're a lovely author~ :heart:

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