Proof I'm not dead. To tell you guys the truth this chapter has been waiting to be put out for months. It's been done since the end of March, beginning of April but this is my special project done with roughdiamond5 my beta/ gossip buddy/ advice buddy/ test subject. She's about as left out in the dark as you but not as. She already knows the ending. What a shame. So love her, visit her, hug her, kiss her (if you want to), because without her my first attempt at a novel length story would have died on sad little laptop. And I really do like Grandfather clocks...

So yes, I'm not dead, I'm slowly getting out of my writers block, love roughdiamond5, and please enjoy!


Ruat Caelum

Vademecum


There was incessant ticking noise, a noise that never stopped and at times grew louder than others. It echoed through their home, if they could call it home, seeping its way into their bodies and syncing it to their beings. But it belonged to a being that stood taller than an 18-wheeler, almost two stories high. The being stood at the entrance of the home, the mansion, ticking away and ringing at the hour, quarter hours, and half hour. A grandfather clock towered so innocently in oak, grinning when the afternoon sun would filter through the third story window and grace the wood and it's face with its presence. It held designs, details of angels, of plants, and of life. Words of a secret language only they would know, should know, weaving in and out of the carvings with such grace one could stare at the large clock for hours trying to depict the story woven so elegantly from the bottom to the top and down again. Beneath the face and just above the glass casing was a space where English was carved in a skilled cursive, large and easy to read, two words were set so carefully apart from the art one wished to know the deeper meaning of the words. Carpe Diem, it said, seize the day. Perhaps it was because of the two words they accepted the clock without hassle, perhaps it was because one claimed it to be a perfect metronome, another claimed to be a wall mirror, and another his hiding spot. Or perhaps it was because it slightly filled a void of someone they were missing. Then again, it could always be the simple reason that Iggy created it. However, it was because of the incessant ticking noise the home could be kept calm.

His finger tapped in time with the clock from a room at the edge of a mansion, a ballroom with a single grand piano in the center. He didn't want the mansion, nor the ballroom, but he did want the piano. He would have been content with an electric keyboard in an apartment in New York but they wanted this, for their sake…for his sanity. He sighed all too familiar with the ongoing ticking, his dark eyes trained at the glistening piano wires a few feet away. He was tapping on a single white key, a C, letting it ring clear and smooth through the cool air wafting into the room before cutting it off with ease for a brief moment and letting it resonate again. He brushed the dark hair covering his eyes, the eyes determined and blank, and his fingertips found white keys to rest on. A deep inhale, the clock struck twelve, and the notes were flying from the piano, three times faster than the tick-tock of the clock. The notes flew through the air with grace and intensity. They held adrenaline, it was pulsing through his veins and to his fingertips, and – to him – it felt like heaven. The notes grew in voice and style like a gentle tornado just inside the room, spinning round and round, pleasing their listener, their player.

Outside the ballroom door was a simple yellow sign on the door handle: DO NOT ENTER, with smudges of dirt and concrete as if stolen from a construction site, which it very well could have been. A small black Scottish dog sat in front of the door, swaying to the blissful music, not caring for the sign or the player, loving the sound of culture. His coat was muddy; clumps of mud and dirt were evident, almost turning his coat completely brown. The small dog heard a slam of a door and thought nothing of it, for the sound of the piano was too calming to his ears, he was too helpless.

"Total!" A blur of blonde and blue was rushing towards the brown-black dog. There was a cry of defiance and the small dog tore down the corridor, slipping and sliding over the smooth tile, leaving a trail of dirt as he went. The small dog ran back and forth down the long hallway, evading the blue and blonde blur with ease, barking and cursing like mad, the sounds of the soothing piano drowned by a Scottish dog and the blur that chased him.

With a final slip the brown and black Scottish dog collided with the grand doors leading to the ballroom, the worn metal sign falling from its place and onto the dog's head before clattering to the floor. A wretched sound of notes being slammed down all at once came from within the ballroom; the soothing music had stopped. The blonde-and-blue blur slowed down to a stop revealing a young teen with wide blue eyes wearing nothing but a t-shirt and jeans, his features held fear realizing who was within the room. In a mad dash he grabbed the Scottish dog he called Total and sped down another corridor, evading what might as well be the Devil behind the twin doors.

"Gazzy." An emotionless voice called out as the right twin door opened. The pianist stepped out quietly and looked around, brushing the short black hair away from his eyes once more. He was pale and held dark circles beneath his pitch black eyes from the lack of sleep but his eyes were alert, taking in the evidence of the corridor: the kicked off shoes, the fallen sign, and the trail of mud which circled back many times. "And Total." The corners of his lips fell a few millimeters. He wasn't angry, not even in the slightest bit, but his lack of emotions caused those around him to infer his personality, often in the worst way possible. He closed the twin door behind him, making a silent click before leaving through another door across the corridor. It wasn't like he could concentrate anyway, not even with the grandfather clock keeping tempo.

He sighed, falling into a red squashy chair with a thud. Beside the chair was a stack of books up to his elbow from the floor. He picked up the book from the top of the stack reading a book whose pages might as been blank for his mind was miles away. He was thinking of the life of his family, what they were doing at that very moment.

Gazzy seemed to be either attempting to give Total a bath or experiment with him. Iggy was probably still trying to figure out a way to convert CO2 into a product of energy that would turn it to oxygen again, otherwise he'd be in here blabbing on it already. Nudge was at a fashion show in Paris; her new line would come out next month. Angel was off in the Supreme Court determining if the defendant was guilty of the crime by reading their mind. And himself? He was sitting in the chair, attempting to read a book while trying to forget who she was, where she was, and how she had left a hole in his heart… He shook his head. Now was not the time to be thinking such things.

"Lunch!" A male voice called and he sighed. He was wrong; Iggy had been cooking instead of being in his science lab. He set down the book, not even bothering to bookmark his page, and headed out the door where Gazzy was sweeping the dried mud into a pile, his head down so Fang could only see the bright blonde hair against the boy's blue outfit.

He passed Gazzy and walked through the maze of his home towards the dining room, passing the Grandfather Clock as it chimed three. A late lunch, yes, but at least there was food for everyone in the past eight years. "Fang." He looked up, hearing his name, to see Iggy with his famous strawberry blonde hair, which (as of late) was starting to look like fire due to the many spikes, and clouded blue eyes. "Something important is happening today. Nudge feels it in the technology, Angel hears it in peoples' minds, and I see that something's changing. Keep an eye out today, okay?" Iggy whispered while holding a bowl filled with salad. Gazzy and Total walked in, both looking exhausted, with Gazzy covered in dirt and Total looking squeaky clean. "Fight in the tub?" Iggy raised his voice to a normal conversation, turning his blind eyes to the two entering the room.

"He knocked me over when I was cleaning up the mess in the hall. Got it all over me." Gasman mumbled, his clear blue eyes evidently annoyed. He took a seat towards the end of the medium sized table, across from Total, and looked towards the head where Fang sat to the right of the empty chair. Seven plates were set on the table; only four would be used today, and only six when everyone was around. The seventh plate would always remain empty and no one would dare take it away in the vain hope she would come back… if there was a slim possibility for her to come back.

"Did not!" Total cried indignantly as he hopped up to his boosted seat across from the Gasman. "I was merely showing off my newly polished nails to the poor boy when he tripped over them! It's not my fault if he's clumsy." Total sniffed, raising his black head high, showing off the pale lavender bow around his neck. The Gasman hid his grin at his silent victory.

"He's lying." A young teen walked into the room, her blonde hair rested just above her shoulders in soft curls, perfect blue eyes complimented her pale face against black robes. "I just got off, I didn't want to miss Iggy's lunch, are we having lasagna?" The gentle voice was quiet and knowing, yet at the same time, she was imposing.

"Yeah, Ang. How was court?" Iggy asked, placing salad on Fang's plate before he moved around the table. He frowned inside; he liked to keep his dishes a surprise so he had tried to keep the thought hidden.

"You know, the usual. There were some residual thoughts though, who would have thought he was innocent." Angel shrugged off her black robe and hung it over the chair revealing simple pink shirt and blue jeans. "Too bad he was committed over fifty years ago." She sat soundly in her chair, her slim fingers reaching for a silver fork. The way her body moved was gentle and quiet as if she tried to remain indifferent and out of the way.

"Who, Angel?" Gazzy asked, leaning over the table in curiosity. "Tell me! Tell me!" Iggy pulled the Gasman back by the collar of his shirt before he fell over his plate filled with salad dressing. How he knew? The world may never know.

"Some guy, I never caught his name." Angel's voice dropped to a whisper, "He didn't want to die. He missed his mother." She fell silent, her clear blue eyes looking up at everyone guiltily. Iggy turned away feeling the look, the Gasman's gaze turn guilty in turn, his lips turning into a frown, Total began staring at the ceiling with sudden interest, and Fang closed his eyes and gritted his teeth. "I'm sorry, guys." Angel whispered, tears at the edge of her voice.

"LOOK AT ME! BACK FROM PARI!" An African American teen burst into the dining room, breaking the silence between the members at the table. She held a grin that showed off her white teeth complimenting her shining hazel eyes. She held bags and bags filled with clothes, the ones she wore sparkled with style. "I came back early 'cause I heard it was someone's birthday today. Anyone remember?" She dropped the bags soundly; a curious expression crossed her features as she put a finger to her lip. "Anyone – ouch, why does it look like a funeral in here, and why is Gazzy covered in dust?"

"Timing, Nudge, timing." Iggy grimaced as he pulled himself out from behind the door the African American threw open at her loud entrance. Salad was covering him from head to toe and Total and Angel began to giggle at his disheveled appearance. "Couldn't you have been a little nicer to the doors? I don't want to have to make a new one again this month."

"I'll make a note of that, so what's for lunch? I'm hungry." Nudge settled herself into the seat left of the head of the table. Her perfectly manicured nails tapping impatiently against the wooden table.

"Lasagna." Angel replied before Iggy could open his mouth. Iggy frowned in distaste before taking the lid off a silver tray in the center of the table. Lasagna stood steaming, waiting to be eaten as Iggy began cutting slices in a fluid motion, each cut perfectly straight. It was a wonder how he was blind.

"Sweet! I mean, not that the food is sweet 'cause it'd be kinda weird if cottage cheese was sweet like sugar; I mean, wouldn't that be weird? Not unless you purposely put sugar in there Iggy 'cause I'm sure it'll taste fine 'cause all the stuff you cook is fantabulous! Seriously, Ig, I could live off your food FOREVER! The stuff they have in Paris, nasty! Especially those snails! Bleh! You could totally open a five star – "

"Nudge!" Total, the Gasman, and Angel cried out all at once. Their pointed looks caused Nudge to flush in embarrassment. She had been blabbing again, the so-called 'motor mouth' she was famous for.

"Oh! Was I – " She received nods before she finished her sentence. "– sorry…" Nudge mumbled. Iggy placed a large slice of lasagna on her plate and lastly his own before sitting down, the only noise was the clatter of metal against china. The lack of conversation between the members of the table made the air grow stagnant and thick, so much the pressure of the air made some of the members to slouch in subtle pain. Angel tried to not read thoughts at the table but she couldn't help it through the shouting thoughts that wished so desperately to start a conversation and the thoughts that wished nothing more than to fall apart. The pressure thickened on her so much more that Angel struggled to hold her fork.

"Sorry," Fang muttered after he finished his plate, setting his fork neatly aside, "I need to be excused." His heavy chair scraped against the rough stone flooring as he stood, leaving the silent room in awkward urgency. As the door slowly closed shut, Fang could faintly hear Angel burst into tears, knowing his thoughts and who caused them.

It was his favorite pastime, sitting on the roof, where he could yell at the top of his lungs and the flock could only faintly hear him. He could speak to the air and not have a care in the world. It was his place of confession, a place where the pain could be left behind. Fang slumped against the railing, enjoying how the wind caressed his body, staring at nothing while imagining someone, a girl with warm brown eyes and hair.

"Do you know my name?" Fang asked out loud to the girl sitting across from him, her face young and smudged with dirt. She played with her hands in her lap, her torn jeans stained with blood and grime. With this imaginary girl Fang could read her every expression, her eyes smiled a simple no. "Of course not." He chuckled bitterly to himself watching as she tucked her tangled brown hair behind her ear. Her lips smiled an apology. "My name's Fang." He watched her giggle. "Do you remember now?" She shook her head, her striking features were gentle and soft against his whispered questions.

"You're like a dream." Fang extended his hand to touch her hair, knowing well he was only touching thin air. He watched her flush as his hand came close. "Like a dream I don't want to wake up from. A dream I would be forever satisfied to stay in. Would you let me stay if I could?" Her embarrassed expression turned ashamed, the thin brows furrowed in worry, her red face, and the subtle gesture of biting her lip. She shook her head furiously, she wouldn't let him stay. "Then if you won't let me stay, will you come back?" The previous expression changed drastically to that of surprise, her brown eyes lit with curiosity. "We miss you, I miss you, won't you come back?" Her smooth lips parted, her features revealing a laugh that seemed lost to the wind. She wished. "Come back, so things can be like they used to." Her expression turned horrified.

Of course in this hallucination, this Max had read The Great Gatsby for every hallucination knew the creators' mind inside and out. "I know that!" Fang snapped and she flushed red. "Don't you think I already know of Gatsby? How I can't recreate the past? How we can't make up the time we lost? How we'll never be anything? How you'll never come back?" She jumped back, her hands clamped over her mouth, tears in her fearful eyes. Max would never normally show these expressions, Fang rationalized but he couldn't help it when the tears fell, his sobs echoing loudly.

In the dining room Iggy was cleaning up the remains of lunch, he sighed, as he began picking up Fang's plate he heard the undeniable sound of a wounded animal. As if someone was hunting game nearby. Iggy frowned; who would be doing that? He froze. Could it be? A tear fell from Iggy's sightless eyes and onto the plate that was barely within his fingertips. The wounded animal could not be put out of its misery, a misery it has suffered for over eight years. Fang could not heal his broken heart.

Nudge was cradling Angel as much as she could in Angel's soft pink painted room when the horrible sound reached her ears. Total's ears perked at the sound and he jumped to the girls' side in confusion, trying to identify the sound. "Don't listen." Angel whispered feebly, tears flowing freely from her tightly lidded eyes. "Don't listen to it, so much sadness…" Her hands reached up to cover her ears in a vain attempt to will the loud thoughts in her mind away. "Come back…" She sobbed and all three knew whom she was talking about. "Just come back… I'll be good… I promise… Make him happy… We miss you…"

On the other side of Angel's lidded eyes the only thing to be seen was Fang's hallucination, smiling and laughing. The reality had faded from Angel's senses, there was only Max; only smiling and laughing Max remained, a mother who was waiting for her. The tiny gestures through Max's features encouraged Angel to follow, for the gestures told Angel Max wanted to hug her and dance with her. Dance of all things!

Angel ran, pumping her legs as hard as they could go, vaguely wondering of the faint cries of protest in the back of her mind. Max caught her, spinning Angel round and round in her strong arms and Angel was six again in a tutu she always wanted to wear. She danced beside Max, with Max, for Max, just to be with her mother and to see her mother continue to smile and laugh.

She believed she could touch Max, feel her warmth. This place was reality, the air that rushed by, the cool breath in her lungs. But that was not the true reality, only a reality her body moved to, a reality she could only see while others could only watch in worry. To her it was ecstasy; to everyone else it was sheer horror.

"Angel, wake up!" A faint cry of urgency, a sad sobbing voice was entering too as Angel danced with Max again. She wasn't getting tired; she could stay like this forever. "Angel! Wake up!" Angel winced at a sharp pain in the hand that was intertwined with Max's. She jerked away, seeing Max give her a sad smile and in moments Max looked miles away. She waved as Angel felt more places hurting. "Wake up!"

Angel's eyes shot open and she began sobbing as Fang's thoughts hit her again at full force. Her brother was above her, his thoughts running wild with the concern of her falling from the third story. Inside Angel frowned against the pain; she fell from the third story. Nudge's thoughts were hysterical, as were Totals.

Stay with me, Iggy's thoughts were calm and Angel realized the cool soothing feeling in her arm was Iggy. Your body is in a state of ecstasy despite its position; did you have a nice fall? Iggy thought wryly. Angel laughed in her thoughts. You were thinking of her, weren't you? Angel didn't reply, letting her tears continue to fall. Don't get too distracted; it could be fatal next time.

She could see the broken railing above her. She had been delirious, blinded, by the image of the one she saw as her mother. She cried harder realizing how stupid she was. Max has been gone for eight years, she reprimanded herself, Max is not suddenly going to come out of the blue to dance with her! But she had fallen into the feebly woven trap so easily. God, she missed her mother so much…

Fang slumped against the railing once more, the hallucination disappeared, his throat rubbed raw for when he cried out against the heavens, and his tears dried out. He had heard her fall, Angel that is, but he could stop his tears and he couldn't stand to see her knowing he blinded her with his thoughts. What would Max say if she knew? But if she were here he never would have cried…

Angel stared out the first floor window, grimacing when Iggy checked on her injuries every now and then. She had a secret, a secret she kept for over eight years, and she didn't want to tell anyone. A squirrel scurried across the ground; Angel stared at it with vague interest. All of a sudden Angel's eyes shot open wide, her blue eyes bright and wide and at that moment the squirrel looked her way before scurrying up the tree. …Waking up… Angel fell back, collapsing onto a bed behind her, her eyes closing to envision.

"She's sleeping." The Gasman whispered while closing the door to the room Angel was staying in. Since she died the Gasman had developed an overwhelming sense of protectiveness for his sister, so much so outsiders believed the two to be lovers. "She must be exhausted." He gazed at the people before him; Nudge was holding Total in her arms with an evident frown of worry as Iggy frowned at him for not letting him through the door. He frowned back at Iggy, already knowing the adult in front of him didn't see. "C'mon Ig, you don't need to watch over her twenty-four seven." As much as he liked Iggy as his brother – though not related by blood – and best friend he couldn't help but feel annoyed when Iggy got close to his sister, if any male got closer to her for that matter.

"I'm not." Iggy replied through gritted teeth. "She may be sleeping but what if she doesn't wake up? Ever thought of that issue? I couldn't feel the full extent of her wounds so we have to be careful." His clouded blue eyes glared in the Gasman's general direction. "Did you know? The hardest thing for our kind to do is wake up. It's in our DNA and how it was grafted before we were born." He glared blankly at the surrounding area.

They didn't know; for their expressions grew as grave as Iggy's after his outburst. Who knew waking up could be so difficult?


The End. No not really. Plenty more, we're just on chapter 5. So give us plenty of reviews and we'll work our best to get the chapters out but remember it's quality not quantity. So I'm not pushing out short chapters just because you want to know what happens next.

No challenges for this story, however, previews are acceptable. If only to wet your whistle.

Preview:

"Well crap." She said aloud.

Fang waited to hear the final and twelfth chime to breathe again but heard nothing. The incessant ticking noise wasn't there but he could hear the flock giggling and laughing behind him. He saw a girl with familiar brown eyes and hair standing before him, dumbly at that with her arm raised, with hairpins keeping her silky hair from falling onto her face. Her eyes were wide as if she did something terribly wrong. His duffle bag slipped from his grasp.

The thud of the duffle bag must have snapped her out of comatose she was in for she jumped at the vibration and began running away. "WAIT!" Fang yelled, his arm outstretched to touch her. He cursed under his breath, running after her, wishing deeply that she wasn't another hallucination.

Adieu
Nightwing