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•Twenty Seven•

I get a call from Ghost.

"Yeah?" I pick up.

"You need to help the Overworld keeper. There's a school shooting," he says, slightly panicked.

"Holy fudge. Okay. Where?"

He gives me the coordinates and I go home to get dressed. I'll have to take people to the Overworld. I'll have to go to the Overworld. I need a special suit so I can't get corrupted again. Made of Zonisium, a special metal only in the Underworld. And I leave.

There are so many sirens. I find Michael.

"Mike!" I yell at him. He turns around.

"Hey, Raven! Get over here!" he yells back.

I run over, noticing his black circuit.

"Where first?"

"Run over to the gym and try to revive them. Use this," he hands me a bracelet. "It lets you affect the living."

I run to the gym, following signs and maps. There are three people laying on the ground. One girl, two boys. I go to the girl first and start CPR. A girl with a gun comes in. I freeze.

The bracelet.

After a moment of consideration, I attack the girl. She can't fight what she can't see. I grab the gun and hit her in the forehead with it. She falls, so I continue CPR. A few minutes pass. I'm tired and weak. Finally, seven medics run in. I stop CPR and let them take over. Police come to take the shooter.

"Raven! Help me out over here." Michael grabs my hand, freezing me. I run with him into the middle of the school. A few bodies are on the floor, bleeding from the head. One cop, a kid, and a man with a knife. I grab the kid.

"You ready?" he asks.

"Yeah." He puts the man with the knife over his left shoulder and the cop on the right . I can't teleport to the Overworld or I would. We walk to a portal outside the school. A girl is standing over it. I'm guessing she's the transportation person.

As I step into the white hole, I feel a sharp sting in my stomach. Demons aren't supposed to be in the Overworld. It hurts. When I get all the way through, the pain stops. My outfit turns white.

"This way," a third person guides me. Michael is gone. This guy's kinda cute.

I bring the child into a room and set her on a hospital bed. The guy locks the door behind me.

"I'm Hayden." He starts. "Zoe's cousin."

A shiver runs down my spine. I know him. He's the contact killer. If you make eye contact with him for over a minute, he'll kill you. How the fudge is he here?

"I'm head healer. The girl will be fine," he motions to the girl. "She just needs some rest."

"Why are you here?" I ask him.

"I worked hard to get here. As soon as I heard Zoe had been corrupted, I knew she'd try to kill me, so I made a few deals with Michael. It all worked out in the end. For me, at least."

"You mother-"

"Hey. We're not in the Underworld. Go find Michael. He'll tell you what to do."

Reluctantly, I leave. Michael is waiting outside for me.

"Come with me," he sighs.

"I didn't mess up, did I?"

"No." We walk for a while, then he continues. "He didn't say anything to you... did he?"

If I say yes, will Hayden get in trouble? What if I'm not supposed to know anything? What if he wants me to know so he has a witness? Then I'd have to back him up, but I don't even know why he made the deal. I hardly know Michael. All I know is he's nice, and even though he's gay, he made it up here without any help. When he hugs, he hugs with love. If I say I don't know anything on the other hand, Hayden could get away with murder. I won't let that happen. I think about all this in a split second.

"What deal did you make with him?" I answer with a question.

"I figured he would. Try to scare you, I mean. It took a while to consider. He wanted to get into the Overworld, and in return, he would help the healers. About a year ago, he broke the trust he was just beginning to earn. He corrupted my circuit. It was black earlier because I was stressed. When it's red, I'm angry. When it's blue, sad. And the rest is normal. I've tried to replace it, but it won't come out. He broke me, and no one knows who he really is. All because he threatened to blackmail a few of the healers if they didn't give him plastic surgery."

That's why I didn't recognize him. Before, his hair was long and hung over his eyes. He had pretty blue eyes and big bushy eyebrows. Over his left eye was a scar from debris in a fire. He had a pointed nose and crooked teeth. Always kinda shady. Now, he looks good. Dare I say handsome. He has dark red, slicked back hair and brown eyes. His eyebrows and eyelashes are perfect. No scar, nose fixed, teeth straight. He reminds me of a Ken doll.

"Jeez. That's messed up. And you can't tell anyone?"

"I don't want him to kill me. His power is portals. He likes to use them to take parts of people off. Hurts like the Underworld."

"The Underworld actually doesn't hurt."

"It's just a saying."

"I know. I say it all the time." That's a lie. I usually say "hurts like life."

"Oh. Well, thanks for the help today." He hugs me tight, and for a moment, I feel loved. For the first time in a while, I hug someone with meaning. His hugs are tight, strong. If I would've stayed in the Overworld, he would've been the only reason why. He's like my brother. I start crying.

"Hey. What happened? Did I hurt you? Are you okay?" he asks, worry in his voice.

I don't answer. I don't really know why I'm crying. I'm happy. Why am I leaking?

"It's okay. You wanna sit down?" I nod.

We find a tree, slightly hidden by other trees, and sit. I cry into his shoulder. Michael is one of the few people that have seen me at my worst.

"Can I..." I hiccup. "Can I stay here for tonight?"

"I don't know how Spirit will react, but yeah. I have an extra room in my place."

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