Crayola of Chack
Disclaimer: I don't own Xiaolin Showdown or any of its characters, nor do I make any profit or attempt to with the writing of this or any of my other pieces.
Warnings: Language, homosexuality, implications of sexual situations, etc.
Chenglei finally slowed to a stagger when his legs refused to move even another step forward, his lungs burning with his lack of breath.
He was dizzy for how hard and how fast he'd run and it took several long moments of gasping before he was able to do anything else.
The moon was bright enough that he could at least see where his feet had taken him and luckily, he knew it. The wide open field wasn't too far outside his village. He'd come here many times, when he played with—
Chenglei dropped to the ground with a quiet moan, pulling his knees up to his chest. He didn't want to think of Dashi. He didn't want to think of anything right now, but especially not Dashi.
Hiding his face and shutting his eyes, Chenglei breathed in the cool night air and tried to keep control. It was the only thing he could still do.
Was he really so useless?
"There you are!"
Chenglei's head jerked up in surprise, a thrill of fright striking through his heart because no one came to this spot and no one should be here now, at an hour meant for monsters and spirits.
His breath caught in his throat when he turned to see exactly that.
Tall, impossibly tall and striding towards him on long, gangly legs was a human-shaped creature but colored wrong. It…he, it looked like a man, was practically glowing beneath the full moon and just as pale, with startlingly red eyes and unnaturally red hair that were so much more vibrant against his strange, coal-black attire.
He also had yet to stop speaking.
"I've been looking for you for hours!" the apparition exclaimed. "Six freaking hours traipsing through the wilderness, half of 'em in total dark, with nothing but a granola bar, and not even the good kind with the chocolate chips and the marshmallow bits—goddamn dried fruit chunks! I don't even know why I had it on me when I don't even like those, don't ask me—"
The man cut himself off, blinking at Chenglei with his wide eyes. "Oh, my god," he said. "You are impossibly adorable. You are just… How do you even do that? Holy… Wow. You're a cherub. Jesus."
Chenglei really didn't…know how to respond to that. There was too much of the stranger's fast-paced speech that was…
"Hey, are you okay?" the man asked. "You're looking at me like I killed your puppy or something. Hey!" He snapped his fingers rapidly. "Kid, are you even hearing me?"
"Are…are you a spirit?" Chenglei breathed, fearing to move or even speak too loudly.
That was met with a loud laugh. "A spirit!" he snickered. "That's a first, I think. No, I'm not a spirit, I'm just a guy."
Chenglei frowned. "A…guy?"
"A man," the stranger corrected, looking somehow sheepish. "Gonna have to watch what I say. Um, you can call me Jack, I guess."
"Jack," Chenglei echoed. "That is a very strange name."
"I'm not from around here," Jack informed him. "It's a perfectly normal name where I come from. I bet your name would sound pretty strange to me."
"Chenglei is a normal name!" he protested.
Jack wagged a finger at him. "Sure it is," he said, "but if I were really a spirit, I'd have power over you now. Be a little more careful how easy you give out your name in the future."
Chenglei scooted backwards in alarm when Jack bent to join him on the grass. "What are you doing?"
"Sitting," Jack told him. "Am I not allowed to sit?"
"You…you can sit," Chenglei said. "But…why?"
"Why? I've been wandering around for hours," Jack reminded. "I'm sick of standing! Seeing you sit makes me want to sit, so unless you own the field, I'm sitting."
"No!" Jack looked at him with his strange red gaze and he felt himself duck back a little. "Why here, I meant."
"Oh. Yeah, that's a different question. Harder one, too. Uhhhh…" Jack looked like he was thinking about something difficult for a moment. "Okay, how about this—I'm lost."
"My village is the only one close to here," Chenglei said, "and you are not from my village."
"Yeah, I'm way lost." Jack leaned back, bracing himself with his palms flat against the ground. "I'm, like, a magnitude of 'lost' that you probably can't even understand right now."
Chenglei glared at him. "I'm not stupid."
"Didn't say you were," Jack assured, staring up at the sky. "It's not an easy concept, I barely get it myself and you're, what, three?"
"I'm six!" Chenglei squawked, indignant.
Jack just waved him off. "Six, sure, sorry. I don't spend a lot of time with kids, I wouldn't know."
"You don't have children?"
Jack turned to him again. "Huh?"
"You're old," Chenglei explained. "Don't you have children by now?"
Jack pressed a hand to his chest. "Old," he repeated with a grimace. "Damn, that hurt. God no, I don't have kids."
Someone as old as Jack who didn't have a family. Chenglei couldn't help but stare. "Is your wife barren?" he wondered.
"Wife?" Chenglei hadn't known a man's voice could actually reach that pitch. "It has nothing to do with my—I don't have a wife! In the…uh. Where I come from, I'm just way too young for kids, plus I don't want any. Ever."
No children, no wife…it sounded a little lonely. "You don't have anybody?"
"I didn't say that," Jack objected. "I have y—… Well, I have somebody. He's not my wife, though, he's my master."
"Yeah, and I know he's looking for me right now, but like I said, I'm really lost. He's gonna be having some trouble figuring out where I am, so that's why I came here."
"I don't understand," Chenglei said.
"Yeah, that's another hard part," Jack agreed. "Let me think of how to explain. Okay, so…this is a place that he's been before, and I…have been here with him, so I just need to stay here until he remembers us being here, and then he'll come and get me."
That made a little more sense, Chenglei decided. He shifted, as if to stand. "Should I leave, then, so you can wait?"
"No, stay!" Jack exclaimed, startling Chenglei. Then, softer and with a pleading smile, "Stay, please. Keep me company for awhile. You're not bothering me and I don't know how long it'll take until he remembers and I…don't really want to wait alone."
Immediately, Chenglei was dubious.
He had heard stories, not of monsters, but of men who were like monsters—men who…treated children as they would their wives. Jack, so desperate to have him around, when they were alone at night…
It was suspicious, to say the least.
But on the other hand, Chenglei was very poor. He knew that because his father told him so every day, why it was so important that he grow up and become a man so that he could at least help with the harvest instead of simply being another mouth to feed.
Jack was definitely rich, or at least his master was. His clothes were strange, but they were nice, far nicer than anything Chenglei had seen, much less worn. No matter how odd he looked or spoke, it was obvious that Jack came from money.
If Jack also turned out to be a pervert, well… Chenglei supposed there were worse experiences. He could make it work for him, if that was what Jack was after: whether the man tried to bribe him into it or buy his silence after, it would be money he could bring home to show his father that he could do something right.
Chenglei sat back down on the grass, trying not to look too apprehensive about whatever was to come.
"Great!" Jack smiled at him, apparently content. He made no move to get closer or touch Chenglei, though, and in fact, fixed him with a serious expression. "Look, I know this probably seems pretty shady, but I promise I don't have any ulterior motives."
"What do you mean?"
"That 'headed for execution' face you just pulled," Jack said, and apparently, Chenglei hadn't covered it as well as he'd hoped. "I'm not a bad man, though. Er…well, I am, to be honest, but I'm not gonna do anything weird. I just thought we could…um…talk, I guess. To kill some time."
Chenglei frowned at him. "Talk?"
"Yeah," Jack shrugged. "Like we're doing now, but more of it. I'm stuck here until my master figures out where I am, and I'm guessing if you wanted to be home right now, you'd be there."
Jack was…very astute. Chenglei wasn't entirely sure he believed Jack about not having 'weird' motives, but even that he'd said he didn't was something of a relief.
And Chenglei really, really didn't want to go back home yet.
"Talking would be…fine."
"Maybe we could start with why it is you're not home," Jack said. "I'm sure things are different here from where I grew up, but I'm willing to bet six-year-olds still aren't really supposed to be wandering around alone at night. Tell me you do know that's dangerous."
"I know," Chenglei said, staring hard at the ground. "I just…can't be there. Not right now."
Some other adult may have chastised him further, but Jack simply nodded. "I get that," he declared. "My master doesn't like to be around anyone when he's really upset, but I do it, too. Don't suppose you want to talk about what's bothering you?"
Chenglei eyed him warily, remembering Jack's earlier warning to be careful of the information he gave away.
Jack noticed the look. "Hey, I'm not going to do anything with whatever you tell me. I don't know anybody around here to gossip with, and if all goes according to plan, I'll be out of here before sunrise, never to return. You're never gonna find someone better to vent at than me."
"It's…" Chenglei sighed, the frustration already bubbling up in him again just thinking about it. "It's everything."
"That's a lot of things to be going wrong," Jack said.
"They are, though. Everything is wrong, and I can't… I can't."
"Huh." Jack looked at him oddly, like he was confusing or something that didn't fit. "You are way too little to be having a mid-life crisis."
That phrase again. "Too little. Father says that, too."
Jack perked up. "Your father?"
Chenglei nodded. "We aren't…we don't have much. Father farms. He says that I should be helping, but I'm too little. I'm not strong enough to…I can't do it."
"Well, Jesus, you're six," Jack said, "of course you can't do hard labor yet."
"But I'm supposed to!" Chenglei protested. "If I can't work, I'm deadweight. I'm dragging everyone else down with me and I have to grow up soon or else I'll be useless forever."
Jack looked as though he'd just tasted something sour. "I get the feeling that's a direct quote."
But Chenglei didn't address that. "Dashi just makes it worse."
"Dashi. Your brother?" If Chenglei had been paying attention, he'd have noticed how tacked-on that ending inflection had been, just barely turning a statement into a question.
"He's…we're twins," he said. "We're the same age, we were born the same day, only an hour apart, but he's…"
"The favorite?" Jack guessed.
"Better," Chenglei corrected. "He can help father with the harvest. He's strong enough to do it. He's bigger and stronger and he's so…"
He trailed off and there was quiet for long enough that Jack prompted, "What?"
Chenglei shook his head. "I'm not supposed to… It's wrong. I shouldn't say it."
"Well, say it anyway. Who am I gonna tell?"
"I can't. When I said it, before, I… I made mother cry."
"Okay, so you've already said it once and I'm not about to start crying," Jack promised. "You might as well say it again."
Chenglei breathed deeply. "I hate him," he said, softly because anything louder than a whisper felt unacceptable. "I hate that he's better. I hate that everyone likes him. I hate that everybody thinks I'm his little brother, just because he's taller and stronger than me."
"You're a late-bloomer," Jack said, but his tone was hushed, too. "You'll catch up."
"When?" Chenglei stared at Jack for a second and when the man could give no answer, he turned away again. "He's going to train at the Xiaolin temple soon," he declared. "He's going to be a monk. He's going to learn how to fight and be a Xiaolin dragon. Dashi gets to do all of the things I can't, and he doesn't even… He won't even show off, like he's doing his 'baby brother' a favor by not bragging. So I hate him."
Chenglei's next breath was a little shaky as he admitted, "He's my brother, but he has all the things I want and I know it's wrong to say I hate him, but I just want… I want to prove myself, somehow, but I don't have anything there to prove and father, mother, Dashi—they all want things from me, too, and I." He blinked a few times. "I don't think I can do it all. I can't do anything."
"Oh, god," said Jack. "When I said I wasn't gonna cry, I kind of thought you weren't gonna cry either."
"I'm not crying," Chenglei snapped.
"No, but I can see your eyes, you're gonna." Jack sounded vaguely panicked at the thought and began fumbling around in the long black coat he was wearing. "I know this is already way skeezy, and I really shouldn't be making it worse, but I know for a fact I will not be able to handle it if you start crying and kids like candy, so just—aha!"
Chenglei was entirely baffled as Jack tore open a shiny, see-through bag of colorful lumps and shoved it into his hands.
"There," he said, "just…eat those, they're good, I was saving them for later, but I really mean it, I cannot deal if you cry, so please."
Chenglei looked between Jack and the lumps for a moment, hesitantly picking out a bright red one and inspecting it.
Jack didn't seem to be excited that Chenglei was falling for something. Mostly, he just looked worried, like it might cause him actual, physical pain if Chenglei were to start crying.
And maybe Chenglei was a little curious about the brightly-colored bean-things, so he put the red one in his mouth.
He instantly understood why Jack thought it would cheer him up.
It was sweet and flavorful, like nothing Chenglei had ever tasted before, and when he chewed it, the texture went from hard to an interesting sort of sticky. It was obviously not a cherry or anything that could've come from a plant, but the flavor was exactly like one, and he couldn't help but make a pleased noise at the taste.
Jack promptly began laughing.
Chenglei stopped chewing to stare at him with wide eyes, but Jack controlled his giggles.
"No, no," he said, "you're fine, it's fine. I just… I know somebody who has a major weakness for sweet things and I may have just figured out why."
That didn't sound all that funny, but Chenglei decided he could let it go in light of the fact that Jack was sharing these with him. Still, "You're a weird man, Jack, you know that, don't you?"
Jack laughed again. "Sure do," he said, unbothered. "You're definitely not the first person to tell me that one."
Well, as long as he knew. Chenglei picked out another bean, a white one with brown speckles like a bird egg. It was much sweeter than the red one, without the added tang of sour, and he wasn't sure he could even place the flavor of it.
Wherever it was Jack came from, it must have been pretty great to have sweets like this. He carefully rolled up the bag and placed it in his shirt, planning on saving the rest of the candy for later.
"Y'know," Jack said suddenly, and Chenglei looked up to see the man was watching him with a strange expression. "I never realized, but…we've actually got a lot in common."
Chenglei snorted. "I doubt it."
"No, really," Jack insisted. "I never knew all…this…about you before. It makes sense, but I think I get you more now."
Jack was speaking strangely again. "Get me?"
"Understand you," Jack corrected himself. "I understand."
That brought a scowl to Chenglei's face. "You don't understand," he said. "You can't understand! You're…" A man, rich, no one to answer to but a single master, no responsibilities, no expectations… "Not me."
"No, I'm not you," Jack agreed. "But believe it or not, I've been where you are now."
Chenglei stared at him and Jack sat up a little straighter, rubbing the back of his neck.
"Alright, I guess it's story-time. You told me your story, I might as well give you mine. My life right now is…pretty damn great, I won't lie to you about that," and Jack seemed sincere. "It wasn't all that long ago that it was a lot worse, though."
"Same as you, kid," Jack shrugged. "I wasn't anything. I was a nobody."
That couldn't be possible. Jack and his rapid way of speaking that rarely made sense and his death-white skin and his lucky-red hair and eyes—there was no way Jack could have ever been someone ordinary.
But Jack kept talking. "I was never great at…well, a lot of things. My parents are…uh, traders, I guess. Merchants. And they always wanted me to do the same thing, but I think I've always been a mechanic at heart."
"What is a mechanic?" Chenglei asked, not understanding the term.
"Agh, dammit. An artisan," Jack explained, "a craftsman. I make things. Stuff like…No, that's complicated, too, actually." And now that he'd been listening to Jack talk for awhile, Chenglei actually believed that was true. "Basically, I like working with my hands, but my family never approved. I mean, obviously, we're high class, manual labor isn't a thing we're supposed to do."
"So, what did you do?"
"I did it anyway."
Chenglei sucked in a breath. "You defied your father?"
"Sure I did," Jack said, like it was just that easy to go against such an authority. "Dad was almost never around, so it wasn't all that hard to get away with it. I just had to keep it out of his sight when he showed up and it wasn't a problem."
"Your mother didn't tell him what you were doing?"
"Mom was on my side," Jack told him. "She didn't see the harm in it, so even if she never really got my 'fascination' with it, she didn't tattle on me, either."
Chenglei tried to process the idea of a place where sons and wives could go against their fathers and husbands; where a merchant's heir would actually want to become a lowly craftsman.
He couldn't quite grasp it, but it was…new.
"Anyway, that was going on for years—since I was your age at least," Jack continued. "A little later, I started trying to get into…well, let's say martial arts."
Chenglei straightened. "You wanted to be a Xiaolin monk, too?"
"No," Jack said flatly, only to amend, "kind of. I wanted to be as good as they were," and Chenglei understood that even better. "I was awful at it, though. I'm too…"
Jack abruptly rolled up his sleeve, holding out his long, porcelain-pale arm. "Grab me," he said.
"It's a demonstration," Jack told him vaguely. "Grab my arm and squeeze as hard as you can. You're only six, so it should be even more embarrassing."
Chenglei frowned, but he reached out and curled his fingers around Jack's wrist as much as his comparatively small hand was able. He found himself…surprised, somehow, that skin so pale should be so warm. He gripped, though, as tightly as he could before releasing the man and scooting backwards to a more reasonable distance again.
"Good." Jack sat back, pulling up a knee and draping his bared arm over it. "You watch that, it'll be bruised in a couple minutes."
"My body is really delicate, actually," Jack confessed. "I was born the way I am, and the way I am is…not good for learning how to fight. I bruise easy, I'm not really strong, and to be honest about it, I hate hard work, so getting strong enough to learn the stuff I wanted to learn was guaranteed to take a hell of a long time."
"Did you?" Chenglei couldn't help but ask.
"It's a work in progress, don't interrupt." Chenglei hushed. "I got beat up a lot in between, though. Every time I tried to be…better, I got smacked down. A hundred times, I tried to be more than what I was, and I paid the price for it."
Chenglei knew that feeling. He knew it intimately. He felt it every time he tried to help father and could barely lift the tools, every time he tried to make friends and got shooed away, every time he tried to keep up with Dashi and only ended up breathless and exhausted for the effort.
Jack was the same.
"It sucked," Jack said and Chenglei didn't know the meaning of that either, though he could guess with the context, "but it felt a lot worse than it was because at the time, I had…a really specific person I was trying to impress."
"Yeah." Jack sighed. "I think I always wanted to be with him somehow. It was a different feeling when I was younger, a little less maybe, but I can't really remember a time when I didn't want to be his. The way I was, though, he didn't even give me the time of day."
"He sounds like a jerk," Chenglei declared, and Jack laughed.
"Well, yeah, he's kind of a jerk, but I don't blame him for not seeing me," Jack said. "Then, I wasn't really anything to see. I was a kid and I talked big, but I couldn't back it up. Pretty much every time I fought, I lost. Badly." He paused, looking down at his arm. "Oh, yeah, there it goes—this is why I kept losing so bad."
Chenglei looked and sure enough, there was a faint imprint of his hand around Jack's wrist, a light-light purple mark like a brand.
"How did you do it?" Chenglei demanded to know. "You're weak and you can't even fight yet. How did you get his attention?"
That was something Chenglei deeply needed to find out—some way, any way to prove himself to all the people he had to prove himself to, because as he was, he knew he wasn't good enough. He wanted to be, so badly, but there was just so much to live up to and he wasn't sure that he could.
But Jack looked at him, calm and utterly serious as he said, "I stopped trying to."
"I grew up," Jack told him. "I realized that if I kept trying to be a dozen things at once—what I thought my master wanted, what I thought my parents wanted, what I thought I should be—I wasn't going to be able to be any of them. I decided to just be what I wanted, and damn everybody else."
"That doesn't…" Chenglei frowned and shook his head. "I don't understand. How would that work?"
"When I stopped worrying about other people and all the crap they wanted from me, everything got so much easier." Jack rolled down his sleeve and shifted, leaning forward a bit. "I wasn't making as many mistakes, and the ones I did make, I actually started learning from. I got better, fast, and that was enough to at least get him to really look at me."
Jack smiled fondly. "Getting him to look was all I needed. Once he did, he liked what he saw. He may have totally hated the me that was trying to be, like, four people at once and failing, but the real me was something he wanted to keep around. He asked me to stick with him for life and I plan to."
Chenglei was a little startled when Jack turned to grin at him, sharp and almost wicked.
"The best part was the vindication, though. Everybody who ever said I was useless and would never be anything better? I proved them wrong. I got to shove it in their faces and watch them realize just how wrong they were to think I was always gonna be beneath them."
Chenglei really didn't want to admit it, but that sounded…good. It seemed mean, but just thinking about becoming better and being able to show his father that he'd become a man in spite of being told that he was too little to ever be one came with a visceral feeling of pleasure. So did the thought of finally beating Dashi at something and being able to pat him on the head and patronize, 'Maybe you'll get it next time, dìdì.'
"Do you really think…" Chenglei looked up at Jack, uncertain. "Do you really think it could be like that for me? Would it work?"
"Absolutely" said Jack without so much as a hint of hesitation. There was nothing but confidence in his voice as he stated, "If you can hang in there, you can be whatever you want to be."
And that was…the first time. The first time that anyone had ever definitively told him that the things he wanted were within his reach—not 'you'll never,' not 'you have to do something else,' but 'you can.'
It felt important, somehow, so Chenglei tried to commit it to memory as firmly as possible.
"Here you are."
Chenglei gasped and turned to see another figure standing in the field. Like Jack, it was a man, or at least man-shaped, but that was where the similarities ended. Where Jack was oddly-colored and strange, the newcomer looked far more normal with long, unbound black hair and flesh-toned skin. His clothing was just as nice as Jack's, but the silk and armor he wore clearly marked him as a lord; a warlord, where Chenglei couldn't tell much of Jack's station from his outfit but that he was wealthy.
He tried to look at the man's face…and immediately felt a wave of eeriness wash over him. Chenglei couldn't put his finger on it, but there was something about this man…
He'd thought Jack was some kind of evil spirit, but he knew for certain that he hadn't gotten anything like this creepy aura or this uncanny feeling when Jack had first strode up to him.
But Jack was already on his feet, practically skipping towards the armored man that made the hair on the back of Chenglei's neck stand straight up.
"Chase!" Jack happily greeted, throwing his arms around him. "Took you long enough!"
The warlord, Chase settled a gloved hand on Jack's back in a firm, possessive gesture and Chenglei realized—this was Jack's master.
"Forgive the delay," Chase said, smirking in a way that made Chenglei shudder and resolve not to look very hard at him anymore. "Although, if you'd like to blame anyone, I'd say you should blame yourself for taking as long as you did to become memorable."
Jack scoffed and took a step back. "It's not my fault you've got a crappy memory, old-timer," he declared. "Seriously, what, could you not figure out how to work the TM v2 without me there?"
"I saw no reason to bother with your machine when this was so readily available." Chase held up an hourglass, which he showed off to Jack. "Besides, no matter what the delay was for me, I'd have come to get you at the same time. Even if I had remembered sooner, I couldn't go creating any paradoxes. This is the time I was meant to retrieve you."
"Pfft, paradoxes. Fine," said Jack with a roll of his eyes, "as long as you weren't sitting on a beach in Tahiti sucking down margaritas and putting it off, I guess it doesn't matter."
Chase caught Jack by the wrist, the same one Chenglei had managed to bruise, and made Jack look at him. "I would never put you off," he said. "You were my priority the entire time you were gone from me."
Jack's white-white cheeks flushed and Chenglei found himself weirdly fascinated by the color. "Yeah, well," he said, gruff and looking everywhere but his master. "I knew you'd get me."
"Always. And may I compliment you on the brilliance of your plan, using me as a focal point. It was very effective for me in more than one way."
Jack smiled, almost mischievous. "I had an impact? Really?"
"You did," Chase told him.
"Well…then…" Jack glanced back at Chenglei. "Could I say goodbye, too?"
Chase's eyes locked with Chenglei's. It was only for a second, but the sight of golden dragon-eyes in a man's face was enough to leave him momentarily paralyzed.
It was a relief when Chase's gaze left him, returning to Jack. "You may," the warlord nodded graciously.
Jack left his master's side and came back over to Chenglei, who stood as Jack knelt to be on his level.
Chenglei went very still as Jack reached out and embraced him, pulling him up against the man's warm body.
It wasn't bad. To the contrary, it was nice. It felt good, and Chenglei quickly relaxed into it once he realized what it was.
It had been a very long time since anyone had hugged him. He was too little for so many things, but the one thing he was apparently too big for was coddling.
The hug ended maybe a little sooner than Chenglei would've like and he looked up at Jack, whose big, pale hands were on his shoulders.
"You just keep at it, kid," he said with a knowing smile. "You're gonna be great one day: remember that."
Then Jack stood, brushing the grass off of his knees. "It's late and I won't be around to make sure you don't find any trouble. You should get home."
Chenglei nodded. Home didn't feel like such a foreboding, terrible place to go back to, anymore. "Okay," he decided. "I will. Thank you, Jack."
"Don't mention it," Jack dismissed, and he turned around and headed back over to where Chase stood.
Chenglei turned too, beginning to walk in the direction of his village.
Behind him, though, he couldn't help but overhear.
"So…did you remember?"
"Barely. That last bit was the only thing that truly stuck, but it was enough. Thank you again, Jack."
A groan. "Okay, okay, enough with the mush already! Just take me home, I am so done with pre-electricity."
"Sands of Time!"
And Chenglei couldn't help but look back, damning his curiosity even as he did it.
He felt a little bit like he'd been struck by lightning when he turned to see a totally empty field, with no trace of the two men who had been there only seconds before.
Immediately, he knew he'd been right. Jack and Chase, especially Chase—they weren't human, couldn't have been to do something like that. He shivered, his heart beating strongly in his chest as it dawned on him how close he had been to getting spirited away and he sprinted home as quickly as he'd run away from it before.
It wasn't until Chenglei had snuck back in and laid down on his pallet, Dashi and his parents not even stirring, that he began to calm down.
In fact, by morning, he was almost sure the whole strange night had been nothing more than a particularly vivid dream…save, of course, for the small bag of jellied beans that Jack had given him, still tucked away in his shirt.
A/N: I'm really cranking these out! I'm still very proud of myself for that, but maybe I'm just excited that I'm almost on Spring Break. XD
Jelly Bean - I've been dying to do a kid-Chase fic, to tell you all the truth, and I think I'm happy with the way this one turned out. I wanted to show a little bit of Chase's background (at least, as I see it) and how his turn to Heylin was practically predetermined. Because Hannibal Bean was the one who got him to drink the soup, and it's gonna be another decade minimum before that happens, but Chase's turn to evil started early; with his own selfish jealousy and his need to prove himself and having spent so much time in the shadow of people somehow better than him.
Even at six, Chase is already starting to have all these dark, painful feelings, but until Jack, they were only punished and negated. Jack shows up just in time to validate Chase's supposedly unacceptable feelings by accepting them and nudging him just a little closer to the path that will ultimately lead him all the way to Bean, immortality, and the Heylin.
But that's verging into AU-meta territory. ;P
Just a few other minor notes: 1) the jelly beans Chenglei ate were based off of the Jelly Belly brand, first Very Cherry and then Roasted Marshmallow, 2) 'dìdì' is the equivalent of 'baby brother,' 3) 'TM v2' stands for 'Time Machine Version 2,' and 4) for anyone who wasn't able to pick it up from context clues, the premise of this one is that Jack was somehow lost in the time-stream without Chase and to get back, he decided his best bet was to find a younger Chase and hang around him until the future-Chase remembered the incident and came to get him.
And that's all I have to say about this one! Thanks for reading everybody, and I hope you liked the fic! :D