Jason sat on the sofa and watched apprehensively as his father stood before him and paced back and forth. Jason, personally, wanted to stand up and shout at his father, but took the good incentive and behaved like a well mannered teenage boy, if only for his mother’s sake. And only for a moment anyway.
“So you are Amanda’s son, aren’t you?” Joshua Ravenhearst asked Jason, who nodded.
“Yes, and you are the man that abandoned her when she got pregnant.” Jason said in a bored tone, sprawling out on the sofa, figuring he might as well make himself comfortable. His father looked at him angrily.
“I didn’t abandon her. I was forced to leave.”
“By who? Your parents? That is a rather stupid excuse.” Jason fired back and glared at the man that looked a bit too unsettled to be a loving father united for the first time with his son.
“You do not know your grandparents Jason. They are insane control freaks with a lot of money and connections.”
“Then why didn’t you send some money our way? We could’ve used it and it would’ve at least let my mom know that you remotely cared about her.”
“I love your mother very much, and if things had happened differently I would have married her and even lived as a commoner like you two.”
“Seven. There are seven of us.”
“Seven? But what about your sister, Cassidy Bree?” Jason cringed at the name of his beloved sister and avoided his father’s gaze.
“What do you know about her?” He scoffed and looked off to the side.
Joshua raised an eyebrow as he watched his son. “What Amanda told me; which was enough for me to know that you love her and that I should’ve tried harder to keep her.”
“What do you mean should have?” Jason said, standing up out of what he was not sure if it were testosterone, anger, fear, or eagerness.
“My portion of the government is humanoid training for the uncooperative ‘oids that were recently operated on. Your sister was one of those not completely willing to submit to our will. Had I known who she was, I would not have done what I did to her.” Now Jason’s face flushed red with rage and he stomped over to his father and gripped his shoulder fiercely. Joshua looked Jason in the eyes, and the two men realized that they were nearly the same height.
“What did you do to my sister!?” Jason snarled and glared daggers at his father. Joshua didn’t answer and looked at Jason coolly. Jason was enraged by the silence and shook his father viciously. “I asked WHAT DID YOU DO TO MY SISTER!?” Joshua gasped at the volume of Jason’s voice and gripped his son’s upper arms in protest of the shaking.
Jason was surprised at the strength in his father’s grip, and momentarily noticed for the fullest time how much alike they were. Joshua was grinding his teeth to stay calm, like Jason. They shared the same wide shoulders and nimble fingers, and the short temper that j\Jason often let get the better of him.
But we are nothing alike. Jason told himself. His father was a stuck up, unreliable rich brat and Jason had a family he cared for. He actually owned up to his responsibilities.
“What happened to Cassidy Bree doesn’t matter now.”
“Of course it matters. She is my sister; I have nothing left but her. My mother, no matter what she says about you, doesn’t love me. Stephan has tried to kill me twice now and thinks I will end up just like you one day. Megan Reye secretly sides with Stephan, and little Cory is afraid of me.”
“Now Jason, do not you think you are being irrational?”
“Irrational?” Jason gave a sarcastic laugh. “You have no idea do you?”
“Idea of what?”
Jason shook his head and spoke slowly as to make sure that his father could understand him clearly. “Do you know what it is like when you are afraid to see yourself?”
“Yes, when I was taken away from your mother.” Joshua said quickly but Jason continued on.
“Do you know what it is like when you wish you were someone else?”
“Again, yes. I have wanted to be someone else since the first day I met your mother.”
“Do you know what it is like to have everyone on your shoulders; to have everyone depend on you, to love you and trust you, and to not be able to return the favor? Do you know what it is like for everything you do to not be enough? Do you know what is it is like to be your own worst enemy, who sees the things in yourself you can not hide?” Jason fired in a snarl and he felt his eyes burning as tears threatened to break in his rage and selfish feelings.
“Do you know what it feels like to want to surrender?” Jason sighed and hung his head, still holding onto Joshua.
His father remained silent and Jason didn’t even try to decipher the look on his face. “Jason, I never knew you felt that way.”
“Then do not try to pretend that you care for us because I know you do not.” Jason snorted and looked up, his eyes still full of anger and defiance.
“Right now you need to be getting home Jason, it is late and you can come see me another time. I must say I was thrilled to meet you, and I do look forward to this
again.” Only Joshua’s iron grip on Jason and the forceful way he detached his son betrayed his cool, casual tone.
Jason narrowed his eyes and shook his arm free with a hard yank. “Bastard.” He spat and turned around to stalk out the front door. “I won’t be back, and you are not my damned father.” He fired over his shoulder without looking back. Jason yanked the sleek door open and slammed it behind him.
Jason stormed his way out of the garden and onto the walkway. He kicked at a stray stone forcefully and was glad for the cool night air because it pierced his hot skin and made him calm down with the familiarity.
Everyone seemed to make him angry today. Angry and not understand. Nox just tried to get him killed, Stephan didn’t believe him and now Jason was not sure if he believed now. His mother lied to him and his father just plain pissed him off. It seemed that the only person who actually cared about him or understood him was Wings.
Just then Jason remembered that he was on level six, and he could join the guild now. Jason suddenly, eagerly now wanted to get home and log into the game, where everything made sense and he could enjoy himself. Where he could be around people who liked him and whom he liked back.
Jason turned down the walkway and started jogging out of the city. He turned off his father’s street and was making good progress through the night home, when he skidded to a stop as he heard a girl scream in terror. He looked around and his eyes instantly locked on an alley in the direction of the screech. Jason’s feet rooted to the ground and he stared at the dark alley.
There was a girl in there, in trouble. But she was an elite, and would as soon as be attacked like she was than to be saved by a mere commoner. Jason watched the gaping dark hole, trying to decide what to do. His personal self wanted to leave her for the assailant, or even go help her attacker. That is what he would have done in the past, and wanted to do now. But there was a slight nagging thought in the back of his head, and Jason found himself moving silently towards the alley way, with no idea of what he wanted to do.
When he reached the opening, he could see the two people within. It was a girl with long black hair trying to fight off a burly man that had her pinned up against the wall. As Jason moved deeper into the alley, he could make out that the man was a commoner, his clothes were not as near nice as the elite Jason had seen in the city earlier, and his face appeared gaunt slightly. Jason could not make out anything specific about him though, but the girl was another matter. It was Megan Reye.
Why was she here? Why was she dressed like an elite girl, and, above all, why hadn’t she told Jason? Jason hugged the wall of the alley, his heart pounding and he became dizzy with confusion, betrayal, and rage. For a split second, Jason thought about turning around and leaving his sister there. But the moment passed as Megan Reye screamed for help again.
Jason moved like a cat behind his sister’s attacker and jumped forward, catching the crook around the neck. The man cursed and stumbled off to the side of the wall and he struggled to turn around and punch Jason. Jason heard a knife clatter away from them and he was suddenly very glad that he attacked the man and saved his sister.
“Megan Reye, run!” Jason ordered as he punched the man in the side of the face. Megan Reye’s eyes widened with surprise as Jason called out to her.
“Jason! What are you..?”
“Just run, please!” Jason said as the man threw him off of his back. Jason winced in pain as he landed on the slate ground. He felt a sharp pain and heard a faint crack as he landed, and knew he must’ve broken a rib or two. Megan Reye had started to run down the alley and Jason watched her go with relief.
He had to roll away to avoid getting his head smashed. The pain in his chest slowed him, but he stood up and charged the other man, winging a punch and letting it hit on the side. The man groaned and kicked out a Jason, making him trip forward with a gasp. On the ground again, Jason decided to improvise and grasped a hold of the other man’s foot.
The man tried to walk, but only succeeded in tripping himself. On the ground, Jason retrieved his knife and crawled over to the man, and slashed out at him. The silver blade caught the man on the cheek, and only barely missed the neck. Howling in rage and pain, the man kicked Jason away, and his knife flew from his hands.
Jason pushed himself up just as the other man did. The other man turned to face Jason’s glare, and Jason gasped and stumbled backward in shock. “Skylar?”
Skylar looked at Jason nearly passively. Jason again was bombarded with the sense of betrayal and he glared at his best friend with hatred. “What the hell do you think you are getting into?” Jason spat and raised up his fists in a promise of a punch.
Skylar looked at Jason as if he didn’t care. “For your information, Jason, I was taking care of some business.”
“That business happens to be my sister.” Jason snarled. Skylar laughed lowly.
“She is not your sister anymore, Jason.”
“What do you mean? That is Megan Reye.” Jason said, slightly perplexed but still fuming with rage.
Skylar studied Jason’s face. “Have you been playing Genesis Alpha lately Jason?”
“What kind of a question is that?” Jason spat.
“A question you better answer dumb ass.” Skylar replied with unusual venom in his voice. The sound of it alone shocked Jason into replying.
“Um yeah, why? Haven’t we all?”
“Do not.” Skylar said sternly and with the sound that Jason detected as slight fear.
“You heard me. Do not play the game anymore.” Jason thought about what his friend was telling him to do, telling him to give up.
“Why?” He asked defiantly, but in a softer voice, no longer fueled with rage but instead curious and afraid of Skylar at the same time. What was wrong with him? Jason also remembered that Skylar had been missing for the last week. Skylar hesitated when Jason asked and he closed his eyes to think about what to say.
“Because… it… changes people…” Skylar said softly. “Haven’t you noticed Jason? Just, do not play anymore… Something bad might happen soon.” He whispered the last part and the sound of him sounding so defeated and prophetic made shivers run up Jason’s spine.
“H.. How do you know?” Jason stuttered stupidly. Skylar lifted his eyes to meet Jason’s.
“Just trust me. I know what is going on, and I do not want you to get hurt.”