Aiden Parker and Flynn Archer
January 26th, Mystery Island, early morning
The storm that Gideon had said would come did pass through, and sadly for Aiden, it lasted until morning, forcing him to spend the night in the hot, cramped cell. The minute the rain stopped, he took the opportunity to leave before anyone else was up. The quicker he got his hut fixed, the sooner he could drag that moldy bed out and replace it with a clean one.
Without saying a word to keep from waking the others, Aiden patted his thigh for Dante and took him outside. Roofie had disappeared not long after the storm began. Hopefully, he was alright. Maybe he’d gone to find Miles.
The light was starting to brighten, and he didn’t know how much time he had before it got too hot, but he was going to work for as long as he could stand it. Aiden wasn’t sure if it was the effect from a storm having just passed or the shorter hair, but he felt cooler. While the storm had raged, he’d walked with Dante around the small complex to calm him and stumbled upon scissors in the kitchen. He was sure it wasn’t a neat cut, but it worked.
Glancing at the huts around him, Aiden saw that of those that had fallen, their parts were still useful, for the most part. He would be able to cannibalize them once he figured out how exactly to put it together.
“Maybe I should have brought a book on how to build homes or something, huh Dante?”
Unfortunately his dog just stared at him from the ground, tail wagging in response. At least it was some sort of response.
At first glance, the roof of his chosen home seemed to be unstable, but after climbing up on the bed and then the tables around the room, he realized it wasn’t the roof that was the problem but the walls. As long as he could replace the missing posts and leaves he would be fine. Just fine.
The bookcase in the room was actually sturdy and large. Large enough to hold many more times the books he brought, which disappointed him. Had he known… there were many fantastic volumes he hadn’t brought because he had thought space would be limited. But here was a great display for them.
A bathroom was attached to the room, and it was spacious enough. The lights didn’t come on and the water wasn’t working. He wasn’t a plumber either, so that someone else would have to help him with. He sighed. This is Hell. Complete and utter Hell. He looked at Dante who was sniffing around the small place and grinned wryly. Dante doesn’t have this level of hell in the Inferno. It’s hot enough, so where would it fit…
The room was too dim to do much with yet, so Aiden ended up abandoning it for the early light of day. He sat on the steps leading up to the hut with Dante pressed against his side. In the distance he could hear waves crashing against something. The shore? A reef? He wasn’t sure as he hadn’t paid much attention and gone that far yet. Over the sound of the waves, though, was something else. Something man made. Aiden looked up to see a plane flying in and wondered if it were more supplies or if this plane would finally bring back Flynn.
Flynn wondered, for the millionth time, what these assholes were up to.
So he had been brought to this “tropical island” (which Captain Haircut called “Lot 242”) for “good behavior”, which was total bullshit. No, he hadn’t broken anyone’s nose lately, but he was doing the absolute bare minimum to get by, and his attitude was frankly atrocious. Even he resented it. He chalked it up to another head game, one of millions they seemed to have in reserve. He’d probably run out of ways to be annoying before they ran out of ways to fuck him up.
An uneventful and unenlightening flight had given way to a tropical island of white sand, turquoise water, and palm and coconut trees as pristine as any postcard, making him wonder how much of it was fake. Everything about Eidolon was calculated and fake, and he should know, as so was he. Takes one to know one, and all that jazz. But he hadn’t been able to crack the facade. He was outsmarted, outgunned, and any other out that was applicable. But if they thought he was going to give up, they obviously weren’t aware of that fifth grade incident with Mr. McKlusky, the bullfrog, and Lisa Smithers’s strawberry allergy.
At the end of the rickety wooden pier, Mindy waited, all happy cow eyes and uncomplicated smile, a warm breeze moving her flat brown hair like a flag. Flynn was instantly sweating in his stupid gray boiler suit, and the punishing sun just reminded him of how he hated the heat. Not that he was a fan of cold either; he seemed to like the middle, out of the extremes. Maybe that’s why his brief stays in Portland and Seattle were so enjoyable, in spite of the random crimes attached to them. “So where the hell have you people put me?” Flynn asked, determined to get some reaction out of her.
But Mindy just kept smiling, refusing to take this or any bait. Flynn was beginning to wonder if she was on 24/7 Prozac. “You have official quarters in the temporary building we’ve set up on the South beach, but I’ve been informed you may want to follow that path, straight as the crow flies.” She pointed towards a barely visible gap in a copse of trees, and he looked at her askance.
Her smile remained, unchanged. “You’ll see.”
“If this is another test, I’m breaking something,” he snapped, before heading into the trees. Eidolon and their damn stupid tests. He’d been told he couldn’t tell anyone of his training at Eidolon, but what was there to tell, and to whom? He still had no idea why he was with them, or what they thought they were doing. He didn’t belong with all their happy pod people college students; he felt like a cautionary tale in the flesh. “Look what happens if you don’t be the best you can be, kids.”
He didn’t recognize most of the undergrowth, much of which was broken and storm tossed, enough that he could barely see a path at all. Eventually the path leveled out to a clearing, and what looked like a hut of some kind. Were they putting him in a hut? He was going to storm back to the plane and stay there then. No fucking way was he “roughing it” as some sort of Eidolon initiation. They could bite his rosy red ass.
Aiden thought he heard someone stomping through the bushes and wondered if it was Miles finally returning from… wherever he had been. Dante sat up, ears pricked and scented the air. His tongue came out along with a yelp and he took off towards the sound.
“Dante, come back!” Aiden stumbled off the uneven steps and ran after him to the other side of the small building.
Flynn broke through the tree stand to see a furry blur coming at him, and he was ready to punch it in the head, but then it barked, and he recognized it. “Dante?” Holy shit.
Dante jumped up and put his dirty paws on Flynn’s shirt, trying to reach and lick his face. Aiden reached out to grab him and pull him down, ready to apologize when he realized who stood before him.
“Aiden?” Was this a trick? Had to be. Those Eidolon bastards, pulling his strings. He didn’t know whether to be happy or furious.
“Oh God, it is you.” Aiden shoved Dante out of his way and threw his arms around Flynn’s neck, holding him tight. He didn’t really care if he choked the life out of him at that moment; he was just happy he was there.
“Are you okay?” Flynn asked, hugging him back. It felt good to feel him again, but there was that nagging voice in the back of his head, telling him this was just a reminder of Eidolon’s power over him. They had Aiden; they could take him away any time they wanted.
“Okay? Am I okay?” Aiden laughed sharply, a touch hysterical. He felt it bubble up and tried to suppress it. “How are you? Where have you been?”
“I -” How much could he say? Oh right – the test. Were they listening? He felt paranoid, and that pissed him off even more. “I’m fine. My life has been so fucking weird lately. What the fuck is this place?”
“Your life isn’t the only one.” Aiden glanced around at the trees and huts and shrugged. “Some island. I don’t really remember much… it hasn’t been a good past few days. I just know I agreed to come here because I’d be with you… but then they took you off somewhere else and wouldn’t tell me where you were or if you were even okay.” He reached up and touched a strand of Flynn’s hair, noting how it had grown and curled it around his finger. “You are okay, right? You’re sure?”
Flynn shrugged, aware he should be feeling something other than rage and fear. “As okay as a person can be who has no idea what’s going on. Captain Haircut – uh, this guy who works for Eidolon, told me this place is lot 242. We should probably come up with a better name. Any suggestions?”
“The Inferno feels appropriate. It’s hotter than hell and looks just like it. In fact, right before you showed up I was trying to figure out what level of hell this would be.”
“Is there one where corporate middle management kills you with paper cuts?”
“No. Dante didn’t really have that problem in his time.”
“Fine. Let’s just call this Craphole Island and be done with it.” Flynn ran a hand through Aiden’s hair. “Speaking of haircuts, where did you get yours?”
“I did it myself… a little while ago. I just couldn’t stand how hot it was. Like I said… not a good few days.” Aiden winced, nose wrinkling. “How bad is it? I just put it in a ponytail and cut it off.”
Flynn gave him a reassuring smile, smoothing down the hair on the back of Aiden’s head. “It’s cute. You can carry it off. On me, it’d make me look like an escaped mental patient. But then, I usually look that way.”
“No you don’t. But your hair is longer.”
Flynn felt his own head. He hadn’t been paying attention to his looks while trying in vain to figure out Eidolon. It didn’t help that plastic mirrors also kind of sucked. “I guess so. Now I have your haircut! Sorry, you can’t have it back.”
Aiden laughed softly. “It’s okay. Mine will grow again.” Dante had given up his barking and sat at their feet, panting. “I’m… really glad you’re back. I um… I brought some of your things.”
Flynn was torn. Part of him wanted to shake Aiden, tell him he was a tool of Eidolon and as trapped here as he was, maybe even more so. But he was glad to see him alive, relatively okay, and safe from Vale’s people. There was just no way to win here, was there? “I didn’t have much.”
“No, you didn’t. But I got some clothes, and the book that was on your table. The Proust.”
“Oh, that.” Remembrance of Things Past. Perhaps Aiden appreciated that joke. He was probably the only one who could. Flynn cupped his face, feeling the fine scuff of stubble on Aiden’s jawline. “I’m glad to see you again.” He then kissed him, wondering if this was a huge mistake.
Well, bigger than his usual mistake. Which was mountainous to begin with.
Aiden smiled into the kiss, tightening his hold on Flynn and returning it with a degree of forcefulness. He didn’t want to break the kiss to tell him how relieved he was, but he was sure his actions spoke volumes.