I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry…I know, it's been like forever since I've updated…I am going to finish this, I swear. It's just what with projects due and papers to write and finals coming up, and no inspiration, it kind of sat on my computer, unfinished. But the muse is back, and I promise to not update anything else until this one is finished. Even though I tend to be ADD about writing fanfics…as you all have probably noticed. Anyway, thanks for staying with me…I know you probably want to smack me for not updating sooner. And now, back to your regularly scheduled program:
Reid lay on the bed, paler than normal. He was breathing fairly regularly, which Caleb told them all was a good sign, not that he actually knew for sure, but he figured it was his turn to be the hopeful one. They all were looking at each other, not one of them knowing what to do. Pogue finally got up. "I have to get out of here, sorry guys. I'll be back in a few hours, I just…"
Caleb nodded. "Go. Whatever you need to do, go ahead. Come back when you're ready. We'll be here." He looked at Tyler. "You too. You've been here longer than the rest of us. I'm sure you need to get some air."
Tyler looked at him, indecision crossing his face. He didn't want to leave the room; he knew Reid wasn't going anywhere, but it just felt…wrong.
Caleb seemed to read his thoughts. "Go. We'll be here when you get back, and if anything changes, I'll let you know." He waved his hands at the two of them, ushering them out of the room. He could feel how tense the two of them were getting, and he knew they needed some way to release it, and watching an unconscious Reid wasn't the way to do that. They both gave him thankful looks, and left the room. Caleb sighed. It was going to be a long couple of hours.
Reid woke up, but when he opened his eyes, the room was too bright, so he closed them again. He took a deep breath, stretching his arms, and rolled back over. It was waay too early for this. Apparently his actions went unnoticed, because no one poked him or teased him to get him up. It was a good sign.
He tried to get back to sleep, but he felt restless. He turned over to the other side, but no luck there either. He yawned, and the yawn turned into a cough. He sat up, and the coughing continued, eventually bringing up a mucous. He grimaced, and spat a black substance that was somewhere between a liquid and a gel into his hand. "Ugh, gross," he muttered, catching Caleb's attention.
"What?" he asked, and Reid showed him. "What the hell is it?" he asked.
Caleb shrugged. "Your guess is as good as mine." Against his better judgment, Caleb dismissed it as part of the withdrawal process, and lay back in the chair he was in, trying to get some sleep.
A half hour later he was woken up by choking sounds coming from the bed next to him. He looked over to see Reid, who had fallen asleep again, struggling to breathe. Caleb got up and walked over to the bed, and began to shake Reid, trying to get him to wake up. He did, opening his eyes slightly, and he rolled over onto his side when Caleb pushed him. He began to gag and heave, trying to get out whatever it was that was blocking his windpipe. Caleb hit him on the back a few times, trying to break up whatever it was, and finally something gave and a familiar looking black substance oozed from between Reid's lips, dripping onto the sheets and the floor below. Reid coughed again, dislodging more black goo, and gasped for breath when his throat was partly clear. A few more coughs and he could breathe normally. He closed his eyes and wiped his mouth, spitting a few times to get the taste out of him mouth. He opened his eyes again and looked up at Caleb.
Caleb had to fight to keep himself from reacting. Reid's eyes were pitch black, which he would have thought impossible, since he was cut off from the Power. When he concentrated, he could swear he could feel a thrumming coming from Reid, like he was Using. But that couldn't be, right? "Better?" he asked, keeping all confusion out of his voice.
Reid nodded. "I think so." He looked down at the ruined sheets with a smirk. "Great. Something else I'm going to have to explain to my mom. What just happened?"
"I'm trying to figure that out myself. You sure you're alright?"
Reid raised an eyebrow. "Yeah…why?"
"Nothing feels…off? Or different from when you fell asleep?"
"Caleb, what the hell are you trying to get at? I feel fine; if you have something to say, just say it."
"Don't take this the wrong way, but you're Using."
"No I'm not." He couldn't be; he couldn't get to the Power; if he couldn't so much as touch it, how the hell did Caleb seriously expect him to be able to use it?
"Yes, Reid; you are."
"Okay, let me explain this to you," Reid started, as if he were talking to a five-year old. "You guys all blocked my Power, remember? I can't get to it, so I can't Use. It's that simple."
"I thought so too, but you are definitely Using right now."
"No! I'm not! Whatever you're thinking, it's NOT ME. I don't know what your problem is with assuming it's me all the time, but this is one time where I can't possibly be blamed for it, so lay off!"
"Reid, I'm serious. Your eyes are black, and I can feel it. You're Using. I don't know how, I don't know why, but you are."
Reid got up as if to leave the room, and swayed on his feet. Caleb grabbed his shoulder to keep him upright, but Reid brushed him off and slumped in a chair. He put his head in his hands. "Shit. Now what?"
"Let's wait until Pogue and Tyler get back. Maybe they'll have some ideas."
Reid nodded. He tried to shut the Power off, but it was like he had said; he couldn't touch it. It was weird; he could feel it, but every time he tried to turn it off, it evaded him. It was like he was trying to turn off a hose with a TV remote; both worked individually, but not on each other.
An hour later, Pogue and Tyler came back to see Caleb and Reid in almost the same positions they had been in when they left, only this time it was Reid in the chair and Caleb on the bed. Caleb sat up when they entered the room, and Reid turned his head and raised his chin in greeting.
"Hey, he's up," Tyler said, the words out of his mouth before he could process them.
"No, you're delusional. I'm a figment of your imagination," Reid said, smirking, and flicked Tyler in the head. "And what did I say about talking about me like I'm not here."
Tyler grinned sheepishly, and sat down on his bed.
Pogue steered the conversation in a more constructive direction before Reid could get started. "So, what's the deal? You okay now, or what?"
Reid snorted. "I wish. Someone thinks I'm Using subconsciously." He glared at Caleb.
"Don't take this out on me; despite how much you want to deny it, you're Using. And if you're not doing it intentionally…"
"Yeah, yeah. Spare me the speech, alright?"
Caleb shook his head. "So, we need to check out the barrier we set up, to make sure it's working right."
"And if it isn't?" Pogue asked, receiving an angry glare from Reid. Pogue put his hands up. "Hey, I just want to cover all the bases."
"We'll figure out what to do when the time comes."
A few minutes later, Pogue, Caleb, and Tyler had formed a circle around Reid for the second time that day, and had their eyes closed in concentration.
They checked their handiwork, and were surprised to find the barrier still in place and doing its job; the Power wasn't getting past it, no matter how much it battered at it. But something was different; every time the Power hit the barrier, it would shudder, and the barrier would glow a bright blue for a few seconds, then grow dark again. It was a flurry of activity behind the barrier, the Power swirling and pulsating, trying to find a hole, no matter how small. Every so often a dark substance would ooze down the walls of the barrier, which any of the boys would have thought impossible if they weren't seeing it themselves. That looks an awful lot like the stuff Reid was coughing up earlier, Caleb thought. It must be related; it can't be coincidence. After taking one last sweep of the barrier and the Power it contained, they left, so they could discuss what they had seen.
After they were all back in themselves, each son blinked, and the group looked like they were just a group of kids hanging out, all shreds of oddity gone. "So, what the hell was that?" Tyler asked, the first to speak.
"Don't know; I think we're going to have to do some research to find out what's going on," Caleb said, more to himself than to the group. He was running through all the possibilities in his head, and was coming up blank.
"Mind letting me in on what's going on, seeing as how it's me you're talking about?"
"Yeah," Caleb said absently. "Go ahead, Pogue, tell him what we saw."
Pogue gave Caleb a look as if to say "why me?", then sighed and related to Reid all that they had seen.
"Uh-huh…" he replied when Pogue had finished, not knowing what to make of it. "And that means…?"
"We're just as in the dark here as you are," Caleb snapped.
"Geez, Danvers. No need to get your panties in a bunch. I was just asking."
"At least now we know why it looks and feels like Reid's Using," said Tyler, trying to diffuse the situation before Reid said or did something stupid. "With so much activity going on behind the barrier, he might as well be."
I'll stop here, just so you guys have something to tide you over until I finish…the next chapter should be the last one, unless it ends up being really long, in which case I'll break it up (obviously). I'll get the next chapter up as soon as possible. Thanks for bearing with me; I know it's been waay too long since I've updated this one. Let me know what you think, etc…you know, the usual.