Everything around him was in flames. They lashed out fervently, tangling themselves around anything they could touch and burn. A small boy ran down the crimson hallway as fast as his legs could carry him, yelling as he almost tripped.
"Mom! Dad?" He cried out, the tears on his cheeks drying with the smoldering heat and smoke. Pictures and portraits around him curled and darkened as the fire ate every material in its path. All he could see was a mixture of orange, blue, red, and gray. His heart began to sink as he received no response from his parents, reaching their bedroom door. Or at least, what was left of it.
"Mom? Are you in there?" He called into the large space shrouded with darkness and a foul smell. His eyes narrowed to take a closer look inside and upon seeing it, he fell backwards, his entire being shaking with horror.
Both bodies on the bed were surrounded by flames, charred to the bone. The boy screamed in terror, his world crashing down on him. He stood up, running towards the stairs. Losing his footing along the way on a fallen lamp, hitting his head against a side table. Then all he saw was black.
Throughout his panic, he did not notice that he could breathe clearly.
Throughout his panic, he did not notice that the entire time, he was engulfed in flames as well.
In This Burning World
Chapter 2: In My Arms
A Meta!Jogan fanfiction
Characters from CP Coulter's Dalton. I only own the storyline, not the characters.
"Don't give in, don't let your memories break you.
Let me take you away from here.
We will find a way to make this last..."
Julian's eyes snapped open, his body drenched in a cold sweat as he sat up. His heart was pounding through his chest, his breaths coming out in quick succession. A frown curled around the edge of his lips as he collected himself, his hands tensing. Despite having had this dream every night for the past twelve years, it never failed to unnerve him.
'It's a wonder I haven't lost my damn mind yet..' He thought, holding his head as he felt an impending headache approach. He couldn't remember a thing. He remembered fighting one of those bastards, but after that... nothing came to mind. He could hear the sound of honking horns and cars passing by outside the window, heading god knows where.
'But wait, wasn't I fighting in a field-' He thought, his head snapping up as he heard the slow drag of slippers walking across a tiled floor. His defenses immediately went up, his skin heating slowly as his eyes turned a dangerous copper.
"You burn my couch, you're paying for it, just saying this now. You've already gotten blood stains on it."
Julian narrowed his eyes (an old habit of his) as he watched the blonde man come out of the hallway, sipping on a coffee mug that was in his hand. It read, 'Dalton Academy Fencing Team'.
So he was one of those guys, huh.
"Who the hell are you, and where the hell have you taken me?" Julian demanded, his narrowed eyes turning into a glare when the other man snorted.
"I save your life and I get an interrogation in return. Wonderful."
"Cut the bullshit and answer my question or I'll charcoal your ass," The pyro user snapped, wincing when he noticed that he couldn't move his left leg. Remembering what the stranger told him before about the blood, he looked down at his injury. It seemed to be already taken care of and wrapped tightly with gauze. Julian shook his head, biting the inside of his cheek.
Hearing the other man in the room sigh in annoyance, he looked up as he watched him set his coffee down on the kitchen counter.
"I don't know what the hell that was last night, but whatever it was, it ended in you being injured and passing out. I did the civil thing and took you out of that field in case that other guy came back." He explained, leaning against the counter edge and crossing his arms. Julian inspected him closely, his eyes trailing up and down his body curiously.
He had to admit, the man was handsome. His arms were toned well enough that you could assume that the rest of his body probably was too, his blonde hair, though in a disarray due to the early morning, seemed to almost shine in the light, his jaw was defined, as if crafted by the Greek gods, and his eyes. It took Julian everything he had not to stare into those malachite orbs that seemed to look right through him. However something seemed...off. Like he wasn't completely there, or as if there were a haze blocking him from something.
He leaned back against the couch, taking a deep breath before clenching his fist repeatedly to check to see if he could move it. He could, that was a good sign.
"You still haven't told me who you are." He asked again, turning his head lopsidedly to look at him tiredly through sepia optics. He was already exhausted from the night before, and he was in no mood to argue with someone he didn't even know.
"My name is Logan," He answered, taking his coffee cup once more into his hands as he took another sip, "and you?"
"That's not really any of your business, Logan," Julian sneered, turning his head to the other side, "Besides, who cares if you know my name? As soon as I'm not tired, I'm getting out of here.." He trailed off, lips pursing themselves together in a tight line as he stared back at him, "And you forget everything you saw last night, got it?"
Logan sat up at this, his eyes showing obvious displeasure, "How and why the hell would I do that?"
"You will if you want to live another sorry day," Julian replied immediately, continuing to clench his hand. He was beginning to get impatient with the other, his nerves standing on edge as he felt anger slowly rising from his gut straight to his ears. It left a ringing and as a result, his eyes changed back to copper and straight to bright orange.
Logan clenched his jaw before shaking his head, scoffing, "You've got to be kidding. This isn't the damn movies- I can't just forget that. You caught on fire! Unless you've lived in a different dimension from mine, that shit's not normal!"
Julian closed his mouth, staring at the other. His lips were pursed in thought as he stared out the window once more. The apartment was located downtown in a typical city in Ohio, where the fortunate lived. Once you went past the city limits, nothing was out there except the boonies and the country. The sky was sickeningly grey that day, which would mostly likely give way to rain. Julian gave a small smile before turning his attention back to his 'dorm mother'.
"Look," He started, grimacing as he straightened himself out on the arm chair, "There are.. A lot of things that people haven't been able to understand yet and from what I've seen, you are one of the worst case scenarios. Not many of my kind have the patience to deal with you all, and I can't blame them. You're stubborn little bastards." He noted Logan's ferocious glare and closed his eyes, lowering his body temperature. "But I will say this.. Whatever you want to know, whatever answers you're looking for... You're not ready for them."
Logan grit his teeth, setting his jaw before letting out an exasperated sigh, "So there's nothing I can say that will make you explain what happened?"
Julian smirked, his voice laced with fatigue as he whispered, "Not a word."
He slammed his hands down onto the counter behind him, pushing himself off. It was too early for him to up in the first place. He hadn't gotten a wink of sleep the night prior and waking up to a diva that wouldn't tell him a thing was not how a good morning was supposed to go. Eyes glancing towards the microwave, the clock read 9:30. He had work in an hour. Turning back towards Julian on the couch, he clicked his tongue in thought, tilting his head.
"So you'll be gone once you're fully healed, right?" He asked, blinking once as the other stared at him.
"Hey, hey- I said I'd be gone once I'm not tired."
"Heh, don't give me that. I bet you can't even move out of that chair."
Logan's smile was amused as he watched the brunet struggle to stand up, his facial features showing that he was clearly in pain. Once he was caught in the act, Julian turned to glare at him, his mouth contorting into an embarrassed frown.
"...Mind if I crash here for a few days?"
"S'what I thought."
Logan chuckled before finishing off the rest of his coffee, placing it in the sink. He really had no desire to be in an office all day after what happened, but he was still trying to make sure that he wasn't hallucinating. If the supernatural human being in his living room was gone once he got back, it changed nothing. He was still living his boring, everyday routine. His smile quickly disappeared at this thought as he stared at the dripping faucet. 'No,' He thought, 'I'm not going back to that life.'
He bit his bottom lip, taking one last look at the stranger on his couch (who had slipped into another deep sleep, lips parted) before heading towards his bedroom to get ready for the day.
'I refuse to go back to that.'
Logan drove distractedly, eyes on the road but his mind wandering elsewhere. He grimaced at the thought of coming home to a burning house, but he shook his head. From what he could gather, the guy had a good grip on his power. The worst he could do accidentally was break a lamp, and even then Logan could buy another one easily. The ring of his cellphone snapped him out of his thoughts, and he picked it up, holding it in between his shoulder and ear.
"Listen to him- Where the hell were you, Logan?"
He immediately winced, remembering Amanda's graduation, "Yeah, about that, Derek-"
"Forget it. You could've at least called! I was worried fucking sick! Did you hear about that fire that spread halfway across the roads?"
Logan stopped momentarily, eyes going blank when it dawned on him that he was holding the perpetrator in his apartment.
"Yeah, crazy, isn't it? Look, can I call you back later?"
He could hear the impatient huff Derek emitted on the other line, "Mind telling me where you were first?"
"It's...really complicated, D. Like, immensely."
"You know what- forget it. Just leave it. I'll call you back later."
"Yeah, whatever. See you later, Logan."
He hung up, tossing his phone in the backseat before putting both hands back on the wheel. He couldn't tell Derek, and even if he did, he would send him straight to an asylum, or worse: a shrink. Fighting back the urge to rub his eyes, Logan blinked furiously, pulling into the parking lot.
It was going to be a long day.
Julian limped around Logan's house drowsily, taking in every detail. All the walls were either white or beige, as was the furniture. There were several framed photos along shelves and side tables, and only one of them actually had the blond in it. He picked it up curiously, eyes looking over it. Logan had his arm draped over another man his age, both of them in graduation caps. Their smiles were almost blinding, and he could practically hear the laugh Logan's gave off. He rolled his eyes, putting it back down as he shuffled over towards the kitchen.
'Like graduating is such an accomplishment, just wait till you get to the real world.' He thought bitterly, noticing a small T.V. in the corner of the counter. Pushing the 'ON' button, he flipped through the channels in boredom before stopping on a gossip channel. A close up of his face was on the screen, showing him talking to a tan Asian man before hurriedly leaving the room, the other following close behind.
"Last night, right after the MTV awards, famous actor Julian Larson-Armstrong was seen leaving the after party with some questionable company. Known businessman Wesley Hughes accompanied America's favorite heartthrob out of the premises, but not without exchanging a few words-"
Julian switched off the television, scoffing at the sudden pain in his leg. "'Accompanied'? Tch, yeah right. More like 'pursued'..." He grumbled under his breath, shrugging out of his leather jacket. He hissed in pain, his muscles screaming from the ache in his shoulders and chest. Tossing the material over the island, his ears perked up at the sound of something clattering to the floor. Raising an auburn eyebrow, he knelt down carefully, picking up his cellphone. There were eighteen unread messages, twelve of them from his manager. He ignored the ones from her, deleting all panic attacks that were sent to his phone until he narrowed his eyes at the one that was out of place.
Dialing the number, he held it up to his ear, letting it ring twice before someone picked up.
"Oh wow. I didn't expect you to actually call back."
Julian tapped his fingers against the counter, staring ahead of him at a painting that reminisced something out of Alice in Wonderland. He squinted his eyes at the signature which read, 'R.V.K', along with a small note on the bottom right hand corner, 'For you, Knave. From E&E'.
"What is it, Nadia? There has to be a good reason for you to spam my phone." He muttered in reply, checking his fingernails absentmindedly.
"What? Is it actually too much to ask to just want to talk to you?"
"Nadia, please. I had a rough night."
He heard her laugh (except it wasn't very happy), "I'll say. Spreading wild fires nowadays, aren't you, hotshot?"
"You were supposed to be with me last night," Julian snapped angrily, clenching his hand into a fist. Nadia 'tsk'ed from the other line, chuckling into the phone.
"Something came up, okay? Besides, you're a big boy. You can watch your own back by now."
"That's absolute bullshit, and you know it, Cohen. Last time you screwed up this bad, Kather-"
"I know what happened last time I screwed up, Larson," She quickly growled, regaining her composure after a pause, "There's no need to remind me. Everyone else has that covered already."
"Well, maybe if you weren't too busy being a bitch, people would've forgiven you a long time ago."
She scoffed, "I don't need forgiveness. I don't want it, either. I left her alone for a reason. If I hadn't well.." She stopped for a moment, sighing in irritation, "Well, I would've done way more damage."
"I know, and you can control it now, I get it," Julian huffed, running a hand through his hair, "Now why did you need to talk to me?"
Julian's blood ran cold, his entire body going rigid as a lump formed in his throat.
"What are you talking about, that's impossible-"
"He isn't dead, Julian. We've double checked the casket, the cell, hell, we've even checked half of the Bronx. He's out there somewhere-"
"And you felt the need to not tell me this in person, why...?" He yelled, grabbing a salt shaker off the counter and throwing it to the ground, his hand flying up to his forehead anxiously as it shattered.
"No one wants to get close to you, Larson. They're just as afraid of his power as you are. They're at risk just as much as you are. We've already got someone watching over you, so all you need to do is sit tight-"
"Fuck that!" Julian exclaimed, laughing in disbelief, "I'm staying here until my leg heals well enough for me to move, and after that I'm heading on the next flight to New York."
He heard the clicking of her heels through the phone as she walked faster, her voice getting urgent, "Julian, that is not a good idea-"
"Deal with it." He said finally, shutting his phone as he pressed it in between his eyes. He closed them tightly together, attempting to swallow the bile rising in his throat. His breath became uneven, sweat forming on his temple. His thoughts raced, each of them scarier than the one previous to it. Visions of a dark room, chains cutting into his wrists, and those cold eyes boring into his own flashed through his mind, sending a shiver down his spine and a wrenching feeling in his gut.
He nearly jumped out of his skin when he heard another phone ring, his heart beating through his chest. Looking around frantically, his eyes finally landed on the house phone hanging next to the fridge. He hesitantly picked it up, letting out a shaky, "H -hello?"
"Hello? Is that you?"
It was Logan.
Julian let out a breath he didn't know he was holding, resting his head against the cool freezer door, "Yeah, yeah, what is it?"
"...Are you seriously being impatient with me and it's my house?" Logan asked skeptically as Julian huffed out a loud yell.
"I can just as easily hang up, now what do you want." He rushed out, getting more and more frustrated by the minute.
Logan growled, "Don't. Yell. At. Me. Look, I just wanted to know if you were allergic to anything."
Julian pulled the phone away from his ear, giving an incredulous look at the receiver before holding it back to his ear, "...No. What's with the random trivia? Don't tell me you're going to cook me dinner."
He could feel Logan's embarrassment through the phone as he mumbled, "What? You're staying for the week aren't you? Or does your...condition make it so you don't have to eat, or what?"
"No, no. I still have to eat. I'm not a damn alien, Logan. I'm just as human as you are." The actor replied, smirking a bit at the aggravated sigh the blond let out.
"Well, if you wouldn't give me so many damn riddles, I would know this. Speaking of which, what the hell is your name, dammit, and none of those Cheshire Cat answers either."
Julian laughed quietly, a sound foreign to his own ears, "It's Julian, Logan."
It suddenly got quiet on the other line, Logan finally saying a simple, "Oh."
"..That's a nice name."
Julian felt his cheeks heat up for a moment before he shook his head, "Just hurry up."
"Right. See you later.. Julian?"
"...Of course. See you later, Julian."
The line went dead and he hung it back against the wall, his smile disappearing as quickly as it had come. It suddenly hit him that not only was his life in danger, Logan's was too now. He cursed under his breath at the revelation, turning his head as his eyes caught sight of the broken salt shaker on the ground.
'I might need to clean that up.'
When Logan came home that night, he was met with an infinite amount of smoke.
..An annoying amount of smoke, actually.
Waving his hand in an attempt to clear it away, he realized that it wasn't smoke, but rather a large amount of steam.
"Julian?" He called out, shutting the door behind him as he tried to head towards the window. Setting the grocery bags down near the door, he wiped the sweat beginning to form on his forehead. He opened the window, taking a deep breath of the cool air before turning around. He jumped when Julian appeared in front of him, clad only in a towel.
"Yeah?" He answered, raising an eyebrow as he waited for Logan's reply. Logan was thankful that the curtain of steam clouded his face, otherwise Julian would've caught him staring.
Logan didn't think Julian knew how attractive he looked at that moment.
Water dripping down his chest, his hair sticking in every direction, Julian's eyes seemed to glow more than usual, their brown transforming into a dark bronze. He wasn't too muscular, but he was toned, enough to keep Logan's eyes locked onto his stomach. It wasn't until Julian snapped his fingers that he looked up, green clashing with sepia.
"My eyes are up here." Julian said with a bit of mirth and Logan rolled his eyes.
"Whatever. What's with the steam? Get rid of it."
Julian looked around, tilting his head back when it occurred to him that he was the cause.
"Oh. Yeah, this is what happens every time I take a shower." He stated simply, like it was completely normal for a house to be enshrouded with steam (which for him, it probably was). Logan merely stared at him, his gaze practically scolding him.
Logan threw his hands up, "Get rid of it!" He exclaimed, his piercing stare only deepening when Julian shook his head.
"No can do."
"Why the hell not?"
"In case you haven't noticed, Logan, water is not my forte," Julian said, a cat like smirk forming on his lips, "Just keep that window open; it'll go away sooner or later." He then turned around to head back down the hall, suddenly stopping before he cocked his head back.
"Oh yeah, is it alright if I borrow some of your clothes while mine are in the washing machine? It is? You're a doll." He declared, not waiting for a response as he turned the corner.
Logan merely stood in the doorway, putting a hand up to his face in order to keep his eye from twitching.
'What the hell have I gotten myself into?'