Title: Side Effects May Include
Time Hollow: A high school student comes into possession of a strange pen that gives him the power to change things that have already happened. Which is good, because someone else seems determined to destroy his life by altering the past. I DON'T OWN IT!
Taunt: My fandom just might mess up your timeline. So be careful.

Even though he knew it was the right course of action, Ethan couldn't quite help but feel a small pang of regret at sending the Hollow Pen through the portal to his past self. Oh, it had to be done. He was well aware of that. If he didn't send it back, he risked (or rather, he flat-out would) create a time paradox that could very well undo everything he had worked so hard to accomplish.

Now that everything was back to normal—his parents safe and sound, his friends as they were supposed to be, his uncle happily married to the one time and a lunatic had stolen away from him, and Irving out of the picture for good—he certainly didn't want to risk messing it all up.

So, for the sake of his hard-earned present, through the Time Hole the pen went.

The pang came with the knowledge that he was no longer going to be able to change things. If something bad happened to anyone, he would be powerless to stop it or alter it in any way. But at the same time, he reminded himself of what experience had taught him: changing the past to fix one thing more often than not created a whole barrel of other problems.

So Ethan smiled and let it go. Let someone else deal with it now. Time for things to go back to normal.

It was with that happy thought still in mind that he met the gang at Chronos for their usual hanging out. Well, Vin and Ben were interested in hanging out. Morris had his nose stuck in a book, so his contribution to the conversation was, as usual, relatively minimal. But there was an addition to their crew this time around, much to Vin's displeasure.

"Ashley, go home," Vin repeated in what was probably supposed to be a growl.

Not surprisingly, his sister ignored his demand. "We're not bothering anyone!" Beside her, Emily flushed and looked nervous. Nothing out of character there.

As they continued to bicker, Ethan smiled to himself. He knew full well how much Vin loved his sister, and just what it would do to him if something were to happen to her. He had seen it firsthand, a result of Irving's murderous handiwork. But Vin was Vin, and being Vin meant putting up a front.

It was while Olivia was chatting cheerfully with Ben about something (painfully oblivious to the hearts in his eyes, it seemed) that Ashley suddenly jumped to her feet and leaned across the table, putting her face right in Ethan's. Emily let out a squawk.

Instinctively, Ethan leaned back in his chair. "Wh-what?"

"Ethan, what is that?" she frowned. Her eyes narrowed as she studied him intently for a moment. Then she reached out and touched his dark hair, parting the strands with her fingers before suddenly jerking her hand back.

He started; it hadn't hurt much, but something stung just a bit. He was about to ask what she was doing, but the question died in his mouth when he saw what she had done: she had pulled a single hair from his head. That would account for the stinging, but why had she…

This question didn't even make it to his lips. It lapsed inside his head as he realized exactly why she had gone after that particular hair. Still, she voiced it for the benefit of everyone else as she turned the pale strand over between her fingers. "Ethan…" she said, "…is this a gray hair?"

Olivia peered at it. "…I think it is," she said.

Vin apparently thought this was funny. "Are you gonna go bald next?"

"Shut up," Ethan shot back automatically. But he was remembering what he had been told about the Hollow Pen: it took the Time of the one who used it. Every time he had gone Digging through time, he had used a bit of his own Time. Now, his usage of the Hollow Pen had been fairly conservative, and only when and where it was absolutely necessary.

And he thought about how Irving had appeared when he had first encountered him in Aeon, the antiques store that had barely existed for any time at all. He remembered how old and drawn the man had looked, despite being about the same age as Uncle Derek.

…that was a really scary thought to consider.

Ethan shrugged. "Eh, probably just stress."

"That's a killer," Vin said haughtily, glancing to the side with a smirk. "So don't waste time on stressful stuff! Or you'll wind up like Morris here, and you'll be gray before you're twenty-five."

Morris actually glanced up from his textbook to fix Vin with a Look. "Quiet."

Conversation redirected. Awkward topic avoided. Crisis averted.

Ethan sat back and watched the new bickering match between his two friends. He didn't really even have to consider the matter to know how he felt about it. If all he got for his adventures in peering through history and changing the past was a handful of silver hair before he graduated from high school, then it really wasn't that big a price to pay.

At least everyone was safe, and everything was as it should be.

…don't waste time, Vin told him.

If he only knew.

PS. A friend lent me this game and told me that I'd really like it. I liked Trace Memory (made by the same company), and I enjoy that style of adventure game, so I gave it a go. Had some fun with it! Definitely not a bad way to kill a few hours on a Saturday afternoon.

In other news, I think I'm finally getting over my dry-spell on my writing, and there are no words for how happy that makes me. So anyway, hope you enjoyed. Thanks for reading, all! Much love!