Chapter 74: Reaching

Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 412

Lisa's smile reached her eyes, that warmth never wavering from Lance's chest. His mother spoke, voice ringing out through the darkness surrounding them. Brightening it all as if it were a torch.

"Come back. Please."

And despite that happiness in her smile, despite that longing in her eyes, he could only say the same two words.

"I can't."

They repeated over and over, their space filling up this black darkness. And eventually, they overcame her image. They overcame the feeling of her hand on his shoulders. Support, love, replaced with a chilling reality.

Lance's eyes opened to the ceiling, remaining unfocused.

He could still feel the words on his lips, still hear them hanging in the air they'd slipped out into.

I can't.

There were water marks against his face—warm, fresh tears that had recently spilled out. He raised a hand, moving the streaks away with the side of his palm, and silently hoped nobody else was around. His neck felt sore as he turned to look, but not sore enough for him to gently sit upright, one arm propping him. Keeping his stare on Yittek, who sat at the table near the center of the room, a small kitchen behind him.

The Razalek paid no mind to Lance, continuing to work on what was thought to be Lance's own DNA strand. The screens floating around looked like images from a microscope, a live feed of strands and cells. Some much different from others. He guessed they could only be the cells that had given him so much Goddamn trouble...

Almost like he'd heard his voice, Yittek's attention suddenly perked up. His hands withdrew from the hologram-like DNA strand they'd been hovering over, and Lance watched the diagram fold into itself and disappear.

"You're up."

Lance nodded, feeling a tear leak out. He sat up, quickly wiping away the dampness on his lower eyelid. "Yeah, hey."

Yittek continued to work, whether it was out of politeness or the fact he didn't see the tears, Lance didn't know.

Lance looked over, seeing images gently floating in a slow circle, orbiting around Yittek. They looked like images of Lance's cells, Spiro and human. There were numbers at the bottom of each video feed—one in flipped English that reached the trillions. One that was written in a different language, reaching to three digits.

His Spiro cells.

Lance's attention moved to Yittek.

"What're you doing?"

Yittek focused on a DNA strand, taking a piece and expanding it into a much larger view. "Checking to make sure your DNA hasn't been affected."

Lance sighed in relief. "Good." He looked up, one brow raised. "It hasn't, right?"

Yittek shook his head.

"Are you hungry at all?" the Razalek asked.

Lance stood up, rising slowly to avoid any dizziness. "Uh, yeah. A little."

"Wonderful." A tray appeared, with it a few boxes of Chinese takeout. Lance smiled at the display, walking towards Yittek.

"Did you make this yourself?"

Yittek nodded, breaking his focus away from the images long enough to return Lance's smile. "Yes. I find Chinese cuisine most interesting to prepare. I hope you find it edible."

"I'm sure I will," Lance grinned, taking the tray and feeling gravity sag it down a few inches. "Your cooking's great, Yittek."

Yittek smiled, taking an image of thick crescent-shaped cells. Spiro ones. "Thank you, Lance."

Lance placed a thumb underneath the lid, tempted to peek inside. "No problem."

"If you would"—In a flurry of fire, another tray appeared. One with foreign food—"Please transport this to Zidane in the Equilix. Perhaps you can get him to eat something."

Lance shifted his tray to one hand, taking the bottom of Zidane's with an open palm. "How long has it been?"

"Thirty-six-and-a-half-hours." A timer was brought up, ticking up numbers in a foreign language. "And twenty-two seconds. To give a rough estimate."

Lance did his best to smile at the joke.

"Can you teleport me to the Equilix?"

"Of course." Yittek's hand expanded, and Lance felt the warmth of flames engulf him. "Best of luck, Lance."

Lance found himself standing on the outskirts of the Equilix, the small square entranceway that led into the circular dome. Except this time, Lance saw nothing but images. There had to be thousands here, covering every space he could see.

He did this all in thirty-six hours?

Lance walked forward, naturally pushing away images and clearing a path for himself. He nudged one with his head, pushing it far back and creating a new path head-level. He turned his focus back ahead of himself, and after a moment, finally saw an opening.

The images got less frequent as Lance stepped into a clearing, spotting Zidane in the center. The crossbreed lay on his back, one arm across his stomach, the other across his forehead. A finger flicked up, bringing the focus of a large ice-flame-decorated castle into closer view.

"Is that Yowlitch's?" Lance asked, walking forward.

No response was given. Zidane's foot flicked up, zooming in on the image.

"You're talkative," Lance murmured, sitting down close by and placing Zidane's tray near the crossbreed. "Here, before you starve."

Realizing that wasn't the best choice of words, Lance swallowed. He was tempted to apologize, to retract his own statement. Zidane sat up, and Lance felt thoughts slip away from him. His breath left him, too, leaving him to sit and stare at the extreme amount of fatigue Zidane's eyes.

Purple veins reached out from his eyes, tiredness brushing below and cutting through these strange fatigue marks. Some Spiro or Razalek side effect, Lance realized. But the hollowness of his eyes... For a moment, Lance was back in an alleyway. Watching a child starve to death. He blinked the memories away, glancing up to Zidane.

"You been getting much sleep?" he asked, popping open his box of takeout.

Zidane slowly shook his head, pressing the pad of his finger to the short chopstick's end. It snapped up, winding around his first two digits.

He equipped another stick to his index finger, picking up the plate with his other hand. There was a strange kabob-like dish on there as well, aside from the opened fish filled with noodles Zidane was picking at.

Lance looked around the Equilix, growing more worried by the second. Spiro and Razalek anatomy passed by. So he was torturing himself with images, too?

Lance tried for the basics.

"So how're you doing?"

Zidane simply looked to him, hollowed eyes meeting his. It looked like he hadn't slept in months.

Lance swallowed. "You getting enough sleep?"

A stupid question to ask again, but Zidane finally responded. He ran a wrist against one closed eye, speaking softly as the marks disappeared.

"Sorry," he said, wiping his other eye free of fatigue. "Probably freakin' you out more than usual."

Lance simply shook his head, dismissing the question, and took hold of a shrimp.

He wanted to ask... How long had it been?

The thought was loud enough for Zidane to hear, Lance was sure of it. But no response came from the crossbreed. He simply sat there, arms on his knees and hands near the tray. Eyes staring blankly at the steaming cup of tea in the corner of his tray.

The small cup lifted, floating into Zidane's waiting hands. Lance studied the MOCT symbol of a rifle with frayed angel wings on the back of his fingerless gloves as his hands curled, molding to the cup's shape.

He stifled a sigh, when Zidane didn't drink right away.

The crossbreed took small sips before pausing to look up at Lance.

"You just gonna keep staring at me?"

Lance dug into his meal. "Sorry."

He pushed his food to the side of his mouth, speaking from one corner. "You find anything yet?"

Zidane shook his head. "We know Yowlitch is developing something, but I'm not sure what it is. It's rumored to have something to do with Spiros and 'destroying them completely'."

Lance raised one brow. "Sounds pleasant."

Zidane nodded, taking a circular fruit-looking piece of the kabob into his mouth.

Lance looked at the surrounding images again. He even saw first-person pictures of Kazuo.

"And everything else?" he asked, turning back.

Zidane stared down at the mug he held with one hand.

He took a sip from it.

"Just my own design," he said with a small smirk. "Self-made torture."

Lance didn't know what to say. He felt like bringing up a guitar and playing something, if only to get the mood better.

But he couldn't teleport anything. Why couldn't he have been injected with Razalek cells instead?

Might have a better chance at living then, he thought, sipping from his tea. It tasted sweet, like strawberries.

Zidane moved a hand, bringing up an image of Yowlitch's territory. Blueprints of his castle.

"Plan B?" Lance asked.

Zidane nodded, zooming on a large castle. "Yittek was able to hack in and get parts of his home, but I can't see where he keeps this serum."

"You sure it's there?"

The crossbreed shrugged one shoulder. "Only lead I got right now."

Lance cleared his throat.

"Let's hope it's the right one."

Zidane nodded, and even without the markings, the fatigue was evident. Lance heard it in the way his words dropped from his mouth, lightly filling the space between them.


It did nothing for the tension inside Lance's stomach. He remained sitting, taking small bites as he stared at a screen. As if the serum could be reached with just an extension of the arm, a movement of the hand.

Once again, he felt that emptiness. The kind he usually felt when their hands turned up empty after hours of research. Just question after question with no answers to show.

It was a cruel cycle, sometimes.

Submitted: December 04, 2019

© Copyright 2023 Meaghan Kalena. All rights reserved.


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