Fallen Stars

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Repetition 1.6

Nihilium and Raelyn moved quickly through the military camp, a low-ranking soldier guiding them through the temporary base they had set up in the tunnel. The troops now behind them opened fire upon the steam man, and the soldier guiding them through had no need to encourage them to hurry; they were more than happy to get out of there.

The soldier led them through the entrance to the tunnel, and they found they were not far from the train station at all. In fact, it seemed that the larger tunnel they had walked into was an old, normally abandoned shed for trains.

“So... we managed to get away then,” Raelyn said with a smile. Nihilium nodded and glanced back towards the tunnel, the sound of gunfire still audible.

“Number Three-Thirty-Three isn’t contained yet – and you’re not out of anything yet,” the soldier responded with a quick glance back. “Keep quite, stay close to me, and touch nothing. You’re lucky the general likes to minimize civilian casualties and doesn’t allow us to fire on sight.”

Nihilium gave Raelyn a short glance before looking forward, following the soldier in silence again.

“Fall back! Three-Thirty-Three is gathering steam, get out of his radius!” someone inside the tunnel shouted, and there was a roar that quickly followed. Screams and gunfire filled the air, but they didn’t look back as they followed the soldier.

There was a sound of metal screeching, and the soldier threw his hand into the air, palm open. “We stop here.” They stood in an empty field, in between the tunnel entrance and the train station. Nihilium turned to see that the tunnel’s entrance was slowly closing, metal covering it. With a clang the metal doors slammed shut, sealing the tunnel again. The sound of gunfire was muffled from the metal doors, but was easily audible still.

“When the general arrives, you will not approach him. Understood?” The two nodded without a word, Nihilium fidgeting as he looked around. With the adrenaline rush dropping out now, he felt the urge to smoke come over him again. But it wasn’t as if he had any means to light it; or that the soldier would let him light a cigarette with what was going on.

“Nihilium, is something wrong? You’re fidgeting a lot,” Raelyn said upon noticing his actions. The soldier glanced back but said nothing and Nihilium shook his head.

“I’m fine, just getting down from the adrenaline high,” he lied with a smile on his face. Raelyn nodded and glanced around, silence overcoming the three. The soldier said nothing, his automatic rifle tightly in his hands.

There was the sound of a car horn blaring in the distance, and from behind the station came a pair of headlights. The glare blinded the two civilians, who quickly shielded their eyes from the light. The soldier rose a hand in salute as the jeep approached, the lights dimming as it came to a slow stop. The lights flickered off and the two found themselves unable to see for a few moments, the dark night overwhelming them. The passenger-side door opened and they could make out the shape of a large man. The door slammed shut, and the man started speaking:

“What is your name, soldier?”

“Sergeant William Harrison, sir!”

“Status report, Sergeant?”

“Number Three-Thirty-Three has been contained within the train house, sir! We have sealed all exits, sir! Along with Number Three-Thirty-Three, we also found two civilians fleeing from the target, sir!”

“Civilians, eh? Let me speak with them then, Sergeant.”

Nihilium and Raelyn’s eyes had finally adjusted to the lack of light as the General turned towards them, the man walking forward. He was dressed in a black and green camouflage pattern, his buzz cut hair underneath a short flat-top hat. His face was tall and square, and his broad chin had a shortly-trimmed goatee.

“I am General Solomon Galilee. What are your names?” he asked, a smile across his face as he looked between them.

“I’m Nihilium,” the man answered after a short pause. “And this is-.”

“Raelyn Kasumi – I run a clinic on the outskirt of town,” Raelyn interrupted, lightly hitting Nihilium’s arm. “If you can answer, I was wondering what exactly was that... thing that chased us?

“Well, since the two of you saw the target so close I won’t even attempt to cover up his existence; however, the details I cannot tell you.” The General paused for a few moments before nodding. “Number Three-Thirty-Three is... a prisoner.”

“I see,” Raelyn said with a short nod. Nihilium was silent, the man looking at the General. “And... what happens to us?”

“Well,” Solomon began, “You are going to have two options. You probably expect the first: you can be sworn to secrecy and be monitored periodically to ensure that secrecy is kept.” He paused and looked at the two of them again. Nihilium and Raelyn’s faces hardly changed from that, clearly they had expected such an option.

“And the second?” Nihilium asked, his face not changing at all.

Solomon’s eyes shimmered through the darkness for a second, and there was suddenly a sudden chill. Nihilium felt himself shiver despite that those around him seemed to not notice that it was suddenly freezing cold. He felt as if ice was being pressed against him as he wrapped his arms around his torso – no, not that ice was against him. As if his very core was ice, that cold was... moving through him?

“Nihilium, are you okay?” she asked, reaching out towards him. Her hand touched his shoulder and he felt a tremendous warmth from her fingers. He nodded, and started to open his mouth only to e cut off by the General.

“You both have Angels, then?” Solomon asked, and immediately the sensation of cold vanished. But there was no true relief; Nihilium and Raelyn both stared at the General, a smile across his face. “I simply had to reach into some memories to see as such.”

“You... you reached into my memories?” Nihilium asked.

“Certainly – not much there, though. Enough for me to know that the both of you are in fact Angel hosts.” Solomon said calmly as he looked between them. “The second options is that you both volunteer yourselves to be studied for a further understanding of how the Angels work.”

“What are these Angels exactly? I had a dream with one, then suddenly everything’s just become like something from a superhero show. I mean, a big bad guy, I can transform metal, and then the military shows up?” Raelyn asked, stepping back slightly. “Nihilium, do you know?”

“He knows enough,” Solomon said with a short shrug. Nihilium glanced down before nodding slowly, Raelyn raising an eyebrow as she waited for an answer from him.

“I know that you have one. And I have one too,” he said as he looked back up at her. “I don’t remember anything from how I met my Angel, but I know that he provides me with a power. And yours provides you with a power.”

“You mean... my transforming metal objects came from that Angel in my dream?”

“Yes,” Nihilium responded with a short nod. “I don’t know why yours came in a dream though, I’ve talked with my Angel in person before.”

“Angels who cannot talk in the physical world frequently visit dreams,” Solomon said as he stepped into the conversation. “Now, I need the two of you to decide which of the two options you wish to follow. To agree to act like you saw nothing here... or to let us study the Angels with your help.”

“You aren’t just going to make us forget?” Nihilium asked, a shiver going down his spine. If that cold had been what he felt from the General reading his memories... he didn’t want to feel him erasing memories.

“I could. But you might one day change your mind – and besides, you know no major secrets, beyond that we are aware the Angels exist.” Solomon looked between the two of them, waiting for their answer.

“Well... if we have an option,” Raelyn said after a short pause, “I’d like to not be taken to a lab to be researched on. It seems to me that the thing chasing us was from the same lab, and I’d like to stay as far away as possible.”

Solomon turned towards Nihilium without changing the expression on his face, waiting for the man’s answer. Nihilium glanced to Raelyn and then back towards the General.

“I think we’ll both opt to just swear secrecy.”

“You’re observant people. It’s a shame you aren’t interested in joining us,” the General said with a laugh. “We could use some more Angel hosts to experiment with anyways. Our understanding is limited to only a handful of samples.”

“Such as the one that chased us,” Raelyn murmured under her breath, glancing down at the ground. “I don’t want to know more about it. I don’t want to be targeted.”

“You’re not going to let us remember about it anyways, though, are you?”

The General just smiled and his eyes shimmered a bright red. Nihilium and Raelyn flinched as they felt a sharp pain in their heads, a burning sensation. His eyes returned to normal and the burning sensation was gone, replaced by a gentle, cool touch – just like before. The General turned and returned to his car as the two stood there, the coolness washing through their minds as they stared into space.

“General, sir, what should I do with them now?”

“Tell them there was a gas leak and to return to their car; I’ve taken care of the memories needed to fill in the gaps.”

“And when they find it doesn’t turn on?”

“I’ve taken care of it.”

The General shut the door to his car and the headlights flickered on. In seconds the jeep was once again approaching the steel doors to the abandoned train house.

Nihilium blinked and looked around in confusion, looking about himself as a shiver went down his spine. He glanced towards Raelyn to see her shivering slightly for a few moments, before the warm summer air replaced the cold. “Where... am I?” he muttered with a shake of his head, looking towards the soldier that had remained with them.

“The two of you were walking when there was a gas leak – I managed to pull you out of it after you passed out,” the soldier said to them, relaxing as he saw that they truly had forgotten everything. “You should return to your car and go home.”

“A... gas leak? Why is a soldier there?” Raelyn asked, looking around the darkened city. “And why are all the lights off?”

“I was passing by, and from what I was told it sounds like the lights were turned off to avoid a spark igniting the gas. You should probably be on your way – I’ll be doing the same,” the soldier said again. Raelyn glanced towards Nihilium skeptically, but the man seemed uninterested in the excuse.

“Well, it’s not like we were doing anything else, were we?” Nihilium asked her, ignoring the soldier’s explanation. “Thanks for helping us out, G.I. Joe,” he added with a smirk, glancing towards the soldier. The soldier had no response as the silver-haired man turned away, brushing his hair off of his blind eye.

“Thanks,” Raelyn said with a slow nod, before she turned to follow Nihilium. The soldier said nothing as he watched them walk away. Nihilium glanced back for a moment, wondering just what the soldier was doing – it had been strange to find himself standing there with no recollection of why. Even if there had been a gas leak, surely...

He stopped when he felt a hand grab onto his arm, and turned to find Raelyn looking at him with a frown.

“Nihilium, you’re going the wrong way,” Raelyn said as she held his arm in her hand tightly, pulling slightly. “Did you forget where we parked?”

“Hm? Oh, yeah, I guess I did,” Nihilium said, glancing around the dark street. “You remember what happened?”

“Yeah, we were walking this way and passed out near the train station because of that gas leak, you don’t remember?”

“I... well, the gas leak knocking me out must’ve done a bit more damage than I thought,” Nihilium said as he looked down at the ground. “Well, lead the way then, I suppose.”

Raelyn nodded once and started down the street the right direction, Nihilium close behind. The streets were quiet. Their feet interrupted the silence with every step, but they said nothing to one another as they walked. Nihilium felt as if he had forgotten something important, but couldn’t figure out what. And oddly enough, he found that he truly cared about what he had forgotten this time. It wasn’t the same as when he had forgotten who he was; instead he had forgotten what had happened to him. In a sense, it was personal this time.

He wondered if Delirium knew what had really happened, and hoped to see the Angel soon – at least he had enough memories to be aware that something was amiss this time.

Ariel groaned as she stumbled through the hallway, her head swimming in confusion as she fell against the bathroom door. She pushed the door open and pushed her way into the bathroom, finding the sink occupied with Christina’s face. The blonde woman’s hands held her still as she ran some water over her head, a half smile on her face.

“You got a hang over too?”

“You gave me a drink that was way more than I could handle,” Ariel grumbled as she reached over Christina and opened the cabinet behind the mirror. “I’m not sure who I feel sorrier for – you or me.”

“Why don’t you know?”

“I don’t know why,” Ariel said as she pulled out a bottle of pills and popping it open. She threw two of the aspirin pills into her mouth and grabbed a cup, waiting for Christina to move her head. After a few seconds Christina realized what Ariel was waiting for and moved her head slowly, making just enough room for the cup. “God... why’d you get me that drink?”

“Because I thought it’d be funny to watch you drink it,” Christina said as she pushed herself up from the bathroom counter. “And it was – until I drunk too much too.” She smiled and laughed, sitting down on the closed toilet lid. Ariel quickly took a drink of water, swallowing it and the aspirin pills in a moment. “You were pretty cute when you tried to down more than a sip of it, though.”

“You mean when I nearly spat it out and then fell out of the chair?”

“Yeah, but that’s just you at your best,” Christina responded with a lazy shrug, standing up slowly. Her left hand rested on her head as she took the cup from Ariel’s hands, and took a drink from it before the redhead could respond. “Amusing me.”

Ariel sighed and nodded, a small smile on her face as she put the bottle for the aspirin away. “As long as you’re enjoying it,” she said as she turned around the bathroom slowly. She leaned against the counter of the sink and sighed softly. “How do you drink knowing this is waiting in the morning?”

“Because it’s fun until then,” Christina answered with a shrug. She walked towards the bathroom door and soon entered the hallway that led to the room. The stairs to the main floor were to the left, and Christina immediately started own them – without waiting for Ariel.

Ariel followed her a few moments later, turning the light to the bathroom off as she left. The house was quiet, the early morning sun shining through the windows just enough to make it possible for the young woman to see the room around the stairs.

“Christina?” she asked quietly, stepping off of the last step and into the empty room. There was no response though. She heard what sounded like footsteps in the next room, the kitchen, and walked through the small doorway.

In the corner stood a man dressed in black formal wear, his face obscured by shadows – but instantly she recognized another face. In the man’s right arm he held Christina close, the girl struggling to get out of his grip – to no avail though. His right hand was over her mouth, and the sight of Ariel entering the kitchen prompted the blonde to attempt to shout through his hand. Her shouts were muffled, eyes wide as she struggled forward.

“We didn’t want to get you involved,” the man said as he rose his left hand up and aiming his pistol towards Ariel. “We only wanted the host. Put your hands up.”

“The host...? You mean an Angel host?” Ariel asked, obeying the order to put her hands up without a second thought. Her head was throbbing with pain, her legs buckling slightly as her brain seemed to do a backflip.

“So you are in on it too?” the man asked, his gun still aimed at Ariel’s face. She paused for a few moments and closed her eyes, forcing her headache away as best she could.

When she opened her eyes again she pulled back the shadows that obscured the man’s face. She stared for a few moments, unsure how to respond to what she saw. He smiled and tilted his head, popping his neck slightly.

“So you’re a host as well?”

“I’m the only host, Christina doesn’t have an Angel.” Ariel said, fidgeting as she looked at her friend, the shadows sliding back over the man’s face. She looked back at the obscured face, trying to not get caught in the look in Christina’s eyes. She had never seen the girl so panicked.

“That’s where you’re wrong. But I’m not surprised she never told you – that you have one is a surprise, however.” the man and Ariel both stood across from each other. Ariel barely managed to keep her body from shaking as she looked at the intruder, the image of his face still in her mind. “If I had known there were two...”

“Who are you?” Ariel asked, interrupting the man. “What do you want with us? Why do you look like... like-”

“Like your father?” The man laughed slightly, before his head flicked down again and he stepped forward, forcing Christina with him. “Or, now, like your Angel?” Ariel shivered, the face of the man was just like Michael’s – but not for long. The very nature of it seemed to change, the man’s skin moving as features – even those that were made of bone – shifted across his face. His face rested finally, his hair changing color from black to blond. Ariel found herself looking at Christina’s face on his head. The smile across his face spread far too wide though, covering most of the space between his ears.

“I am anyone I desire to be, as long as I know how to look like them. As for your second question, the only one left to answer...” He shrugged, and pulled the gun back slightly – now aiming it at the ceiling. “Well, you won’t be able to tell anyone anyways. I just as well tell you, eh?”

Ariel stepped back as the man approached, the smile across his face was far too wide for it to make any physical sense; the corners were literally at his ears. She glanced away, not wanting to look at the distorted, twisted form of Christina’s face.

“But... that would be cliché of me.” He laughed, and aimed the pistol back at Ariel. “And do I ever hate clichés.”

In a moment, shadows enveloped his face. Blindly he fired the pistol, and Ariel immediately ducked down and underneath the table, closing her eyes. The bullet missed, and a few seconds later Ariel stood up from the table. The man threw both Christina and the pistol away as he shouted out, “Get whatever this is off of me!” He clawed at the shadows; and as a result, through them. His nails scratched against the skin of his face and he let out a short shout of pain.

“Ariel, it’s Michael, he’s-”

“This isn’t Michael,” Ariel said sharply, as she put a hand on Christina’s shoulder. “If he was he wouldn’t have forgotten I am here.” Ariel looked into Christina’s face before pulling the blonde into her, hugging her tightly. Christina didn’t move her arms from her side, while Ariel placed her head on Christina’s shoulders.“I’m so glad you’re okay, Christina, if anything had happened to you...”

“Idiot, let go of me – I know that was Michael. You can’t defend him and me both, unless you really are stupid.” Christina said, not moving anything but her lips. Ariel pulled away slightly, looking at Christina’s face through the tears on her face.

“Christina, I’ll never not defend you. But... please, for once just believe me!”

Christina pulled a hand up through Ariel’s hug, and slapped her across the face – the shadows surrounding the man’s face fell apart immediately.

“You used to be loyal to me, stupid, now you’re trying to tell me I’m lying?” Christina accused, glaring at the redhead. Ariel rubbed the reddened slap mark on her cheek softly, eyes glistening from tears still. She looked down at the ground, letting go of Christina as she did so.

“I... No, but you aren’t correct. He- he can change his face, whoever this is, he can pretend to be people to manipulate us,” Ariel said. Her body shook as she stammered through the words, holding back her tears. “Please. Don’t let him tear us apart, Christina. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

“You’re going to help me fight against him then?” Christina asked, and Ariel nodded. Christina smiled and wiped a tear from Ariel’s face with her thumb, and then leaned in to kiss her softly on the cheek. “You’re so cute like this, it’s a shame you aren’t always like this,” she said, Ariel’s face turned a deep red, the girl looking down as she felt a smile across her face.

“I hate to interrupt the little chat you two are having,” said the man from across the room as he stood up with the pistol in his hand, aiming it forward. “But I really don’t have much more time to play.”

Ariel and Christina turned immediately to find the man’s face shifting again, but not in any way that they could make out in particular. Finally it rested on a face; and instead of it mimicking any face they recognized, it was a face they had never seen before in their lives. A pair of large, green eyes looked at them over a short nose with a cut on the side and a perfectly sized mouth; the structure of the bones made it all come together as if they were looking at a facial hair model, and within moments the man began to grow facial hair.

“I’ll just do what the boss wanted – take the redhead,” he smiled and turned the gun towards Ariel. “And kill any witnesses.”

Ariel felt the shadows around her seem to tug at her, and in a moment she was moving across the room and in the direction of the man. Shadows danced around her and along her arms as she adjusted to the sudden motion, and found herself actively engaging in the lunge she was going for.

He pulled the trigger as shadows wrapped around his eyes, the bullets flying into the air. Christina let out a shout, and Ariel stopped in place as she looked back towards the blonde.

“Shit! You hit my fuckin’ shoulder, you jackass!” Christina shouted, scowling at the man. “Give him hell, Ariel!”

Ariel nodded before starting towards the man again, but her momentum was gone. The shadows that danced along her fist were gone, and as she swung it towards him she heard a gunshot.

It felt as if she had been punched in the stomach, hard – her breath was knocked out and she felt her fist collide into his body, but the force behind it was gone. Eyes wide she fell to the floor, knees landing first as she looked down.

“Oh, god,” she managed to whisper. Everything was numb and her ears rang, slumping forwards. Her head slammed into the floor tiles with a crack, eyes fluttering shut. “Christina...”

“You fucking worthless idiot,” Christina swore, hand holding the bullet wound on her shoulder as the shadows returned to following the normal laws of physics around them – the attacker’s face was cleared of shadows, the ones that had been moving on and around Ariel were gone. “You got yourself killed, and you didn’t even save me,” she said, eyes wet as she watched the man approach.

“Christina Revoc, you are the host of a very dangerous Angel. As such, you will be taken into custody by the Mission Initiative Bureau. Do you understand?”

“I don’t understand why you’re not fucking dead, let alone a word of what you’re fuckin’ saying, you limp-dicked son of a bitch,” she responded, glaring at the man. With a half smile she laughed. “Go ahead, take me away – I’ll fucking ruin your life though, and you killing Ariel? I don’t like when people take my playthings.”

“You’re almost as unfeeling as your Angel,” the man said with a weary sigh, stepping forward. “Put your hands up.”

Christina obeyed. The man stepped forward and into a shadow on the floor, only to suddenly find his foot stuck. He yanked hard, but nothing gave. With a tired sigh he looked down to find that the shadow was spreading up his leg, immobilizing every bit it touched of him.

Seeing this he turned to look at what he had thought was a corpse only to find that Ariel was laying still on the floor, blood pooling around her. Christina watched and backed up slowly, her hands still in the air.

“How in the…?” he muttered silently,

Ariel’s head turned slowly, nothing else moving – her eyes were locked on the man, unblinking.

The shadows flung themselves towards him from all directions, Ariel’s eyes focused entirely on the attacker. Christina watched as the man let out a panicked scream, the shadows physically pulling him down.

But as he was drug down, the shadows continued to fly towards him as if he were standing upright – and soon some hit Christina, the girl’s vision instantly blackened as one of the shadows wrapped around her face. Despite Christina’s shout, the attack continued – more and more shadows flung themselves across the room, dragging both of them down beneath their weight.

“Ariel, stop! You’re hurting me too!” The man shouted, mimicking Christina’s voice perfectly. Yet the onslaught continued, Ariel’s eyes still staring at the man who had attacked them. Christina shouted out to beg for Ariel to stop the attack, the shadows beginning to physically attack the two by clawing at them.

“Stop this, idiot! Are you really that fucking dumb-” Christina shouted out, her words cut off as she let out a wail.

The shadows stopped immediately, and slowly they sunk back into the floor. Christina lay on the ground, panting as she looked down at her body – her arms and legs covered in bloody scratches and her pants were torn from the attack. The man beside her was worse off, his entire body covered in scratch marks and most of his clothing now torn apart from the attack.

Ariel lay still on the floor and closed her eyes as Christina pushed herself up from the floor, using the counter as support. The blonde staggered slightly, looking at the man who had attacked her and then at Ariel.

“You... you fucking bitch,” she muttered, pushing herself from the counter and starting to walk away. “I thought... thought you were loyal.”

Christina stumbled out of the room, her hand against the wall as she walked through the hallway. She looked back one more time, to see the man beginning to push himself off the floor, and quickly she turned to leave again.

As the man pushed himself off the ground he had a smile across his face, pulling himself off of the floor with the help of the counter. He looked down at Ariel and crouched down to feel for a pulse. When he felt none he shook his head and laughed slightly, a slanted smile on his face. “It’s a shame you had to die,” he said with a short laugh, holding the counter for support as he bent over to grab his gun once again. “You’d have made such an excellent help to the cause.”

His wounds began to heal, his skin sealing itself shut as he walked away. His face twisted and his body distorted as he walked, and by the time he left the house he was yet another completely different individual.

Ariel’s eyes flickered open just in time for her to see him leaving the house through the hallway, and she silently cursed herself for letting him go. Whoever he was, now he was walking free once more. And she doubted that he would leave the two of them alone.

“Unless,” she whispered to herself as that thought left her mind, “I do die here.”

She watched the hallway in silence, pushing herself up slightly before collapsing to the floor again. Her head felt light and fuzzy, the world around her tilting as she coughed. Blood splattered against the floor from her lips, and she groaned out in pain, closing her eyes tightly.

After what felt like moments she felt someone lift her body off of the floor, and forced her eyes open to see what was happening. She made a mute gasp as she saw that it was Michael, the Angel cradling her in his arms. She opened her mouth to speak, but saw him shake his head.

“I’ll take care of the wounds this time, Ariel. I won’t always be able to save you like this, but for now just rest.”

She stared blankly at him for a few moments, but quickly found herself smiling with a tired, short nod. She closed her eyes softly, and the world faded away.

In every life there is a time that everything begins to go horribly wrong. And when these times are over, there is a time where one must either learn and grow, or be consumed by these times.

For some, however, these are two sides of the same coin. So it was for Ky, who was currently laying down on the therapy couch, his fingers laced through each other. Around him the office was typical; bookshelves lined with both books and keepsakes, and to his right was an empty chair. He looked towards the closed door, where the therapist was talking with his parents.

“The boy’s beginning to talk again,” came the voice of his father. “We know the last session ended poorly, but...”

“There’s only so much I can do, Mr. Trovao. But I will see what I can do.”

“Thank you, Doctor.”

There were a few moments of silence before the door opened, and in came an older gentleman. While his hair was a dark, chocolate brown for the most part, there were a few gray spots in it. His face was round, and his eyes a dark brown like his hair – the tweed jacket and formal pants he wore were both brown as well, although a much lighter brown than his hair or eyes.

“Hello, Kyosu. How are you doing today?”

Ky said nothing as he looked at the therapist. He glanced away, and then to his hands.

“You don’t have to say anything if you don’t want to, but you are always welcome to talk,” the therapist said with a short smile. Ky nodded and smiled back, before he looked down to his hands again. The therapist sat down in the chair next to the couch, and smiled softly.

“I did it,” he said softly as he looked back to the therapist. “It was my fault.”

“No one is asking you to take the blame, Kyosu.”

Ky fell silent again.

“It was an accident, there was no way you could have known it would happen.”

Ky shook his head, not looking at the therapist. The man sighed and they sat in silence for some time. Seconds turned to minutes as he looked at the adolescent and watched as Kyosu fidgeted slightly.

“I should have known better than to mess around so close to the streets,” he said sharply, looking towards the therapist. “I don’t need or want people to tell me I did nothing wrong.”

“And will it right any wrongs if you blame yourself?”

Ky paused and looked away from his hands and down at the floor now, silent. The therapist watched as Ky fidgeted and then closed his eyes. The teenage boy sighed before he opened his eyes again, and nodded. “If I just dwell, I can’t protect anyone.”

The therapist only nodded.

“But how do I move on?” Ky asked, looking towards him.

“I’m afraid that’s something I can’t tell you how to do – but I can help you once you figure out what will work for you.”

Ky looked down for a few moments as he thought, before he looked back towards the therapist. “I know what will help.”

The therapist listened as the boy talked, nodding throughout the boy’s thoughts. He never interrupted the explanations of Ky’s feelings, and only spoke to gently nudge him in the right direction – the direction for growing.

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