Star Vargas, now eighteen, sniffled as her mind continued replaying the conversation she had had with her friend Crista the night before. She attempted to bite back any tears that dared to escape as she continued to pack for her impending move to college that day. She tried to concentrate on the task at hand, but instead found herself imagining what Crista was telling their other friend Kole at that very moment. Star tried in vain to convince herself that the bond the four had would somehow make Kole forgive them, and hopefully, eventually even understand the fear that had kept them from sharing the truth about what had really happened on that terrifying day, nine months earlier. But her pessimistic nature made that hope nearly impossible to maintain for long.
Despite the darkness and sadness that had clung to her for most of her life, Star was beautiful. She had long, black locks that only lost a bit of their straightness when damp, as they were now, then becoming gentle waves. Her eyes were piercing and dark, offset beautifully by pale skin and even darker clothing that was nearly always some shade of black.
She allowed another sniffle as she continued her packing, only to be interrupted by gentle footfalls entering her bedroom behind her, as arms as pale as her own encircled her waist from behind. She could feel the droplets of water still on Sky’s skin from his shower as he embraced her from behind, his lips gently grazing her bare shoulder above the tight, sleeveless black corseted tank top she wore that day.
Sky’s surname was Vargas, just as Star’s was; and he was eighteen, just as Star was. And he was beautiful, just as Star was. Some might see their names next to one another on the lease they had signed earlier that summer and think they were an extremely young married couple. However, their marriage was more metaphysical rather than legal. Legally, they were actually siblings. And once upon a time, in another life even, the world believed they actually were siblings. Even they were told to believe it back then as well; and that was a belief that caused both of them more pain than either could bear. That pain of believing they felt things for one another that they should never feel actually had lasted for the first decade and a half of their lives, until the truth finally came out about who, and what, the two beautiful teens actually were.
Of course, that very truth was so earth-shattering that only four other people knew it, and two of those four were their parents. And the other two were their closest and only real friends, who were also their lovers.
It was easy for the world to believe they were actually related as they were so physically similar other than the nearly foot of height Sky had over Star. He was tall and thin, just over six foot three now, and Star was tiny, standing at only five foot four herself. Though, both had the long black locks, Sky’s interspersed with streaks he had dyed white to offset all the black. Both of them had deep dark eyes, usually surrounded by thick black makeup. Both had pale white skin usually covered in tight black clothing. And both looked like beautiful young women, as Sky had always been more feminine than masculine all his life, both of them having a rather fluid sexuality as denoted by the exceedingly nontraditional relationships they had, not only with each other, but also with their two closest friends, Kole and Crista.
Sky’s lips trailed over her pale shoulder for a moment as she pushed down another sniffle, causing him to look down at her worriedly, “you seem oddly sad for an eighteen year old girl about to go off to her first college apartment. Isn’t this when us wayward youths are supposed to embrace our freedom, or some such thing?” Sky asked her in a teasing tone as he gently turned her to face where he stood behind her, only covered by drops of water and the black towel wrapped about his tiny waist after his shower.
Star sighed softly, her eyes not coming up to meet his just yet, “I panicked last night. I told Crista” she added softly, only then daring to look up to see his reaction, which she was sure would not be favorable.
“Told Crista...what?” Sky asked as he narrowed his dark eyes down at her own.
“I just got so worried about us moving into this apartment with Kole. Not about living with him,” she added quickly when she saw his questioning look, “about how we could possibly keep this secret from him once the three of us are living under the same roof.”
“Dare I ask which secret, considering he already knows the biggest one, doesn’t he?” Sky replied warily in reference to the truth about he and Star’s true origins.
Star sniffled and looked away again, “he’s part of us. How can we keep this from him any longer? It’s been almost a year already and it’s been horrible trying to not let he or Crista know. I know they’ve noticed. They’ve had to. I’m amazed Kole hasn’t just come out and asked. He’s not exactly subtle or soft-spoken. And now that he’ll be living with us...” Star simply shook her head hopelessly.
Sky sighed heavily as he looked down a moment, trying to take in what she was admitting. “So, what exactly did you tell Crista, exactly?” he repeated for weight.
“About the pep rally back in November. The first one” Star added more quietly, averting her sad eyes again.
“The first one?” Sky repeated her words, swallowing a lump in his throat.
“About what Curt really did... and how we had to stop him” Star whispered, her voice faltering at the memories that only she and Sky truly shared. The actual terror of how that day had originally played out was something that only the two of them truly knew, and had kept secret for the rest of their senior year and the summer following it, up until this very day. But they had stopped that terror. Though, in order to do so, they had to go back, and end one horrible human being’s life instead of the dozens that were lost before they had tampered with time itself to save all of them, including Crista and Kole, as well as themselves.
“And you told Crista?” Sky repeated again, as if trying to give himself time to digest the idea as he took a deep breath. “And why would you tell her, again?”
Star’s voice shook with emotion as she looked back at him, “Come on Sky, I just can’t do it anymore. I can’t keep secrets from the two people who are literally part of us. Not anymore. It’s been killing me trying to. And I know I couldn’t possibly continue to once we share a home with one of them. I mean, do you honestly think you could continue to keep this from him now? Both of them have already noticed that there’s something we haven’t told them. I just can’t do it anymore. Can you? Honestly?” Star asked him again, her tone desperate.
Sky let out another heavy sigh, as though thinking on his answer. Finally, he gave one, “it’s been killing me to keep that secret too. But, as much as I hate keeping anything from them, let alone something this big; I’m even more worried that Kole will hate us for not going back to try and save Sammi and the baby too. I mean, how could he not? Right?”
Crista sighed heavily as she taped shut one of the boxes Kole had just finished packing that Friday morning that began the last week of August. Crista was now fifteen, the youngest among the four, and still enjoyed dying her hair in pastel shades and wearing those same pale shades and glitter mixed in with black and spikes and coffins and tombstones and all the other morbid little touches that made her look equal parts cute and scary, at least to those less open-minded.
Kole raised an eyebrow at the sound of her sigh as he continued packing a box on the other side of his bedroom. His own style fell more in line with the scary side of her cute but scary look, but again, that was only where ‘normal’ people were concerned. He dressed more like Star and Sky himself, with the mostly black clothing, though he did add a few touches of color here and there. Of course his color choices were from a much darker palette than the pastels and whites Crista enjoyed, except when it came to his hair. That, could literally be any color at all from one month to the next.
His nearly waist-length locks were currently a charcoal shade, though there was evidence of the many multicolored dye jobs in a few locks that remained blue or green or pink from previous month’s choices and many, many bleachings to allow his naturally black hair to even take color. As a matter of fact, when he had first met his three preferred companions, those long locks were actually lavender, making it even easier for him to make an impression on them; as if the eighteen year old’s even more colorful personality and stunning beauty hadn’t been enough to do so.
“Shall I hazard a guess as to what caused that sigh?” Kole teased her as he folded the flaps down on the box he was working on.
“Stuff” she responded quietly, her tone much sadder than the normal lightness she usually displayed as she was the most jovial of the four of them. Being the youngest, as well as other factors, she had the least darkness in her past, which could lend some explanation to why she was the one who wore the least black, but there was still some damage there, as with all those who leaned toward the alternative styles the four of them exhibited.
“Stuff? You have a way with words, doll.”
Crista allowed a small smirk, “you telling me I have a way with words. Now that is funny” she retorted in reference to the fact that Kole had been often accused of having his own singular way of expressing himself verbally as well as with the way he looked.
Kole just shook his head as he pushed the box aside and crawled across the floor to her. Crista had been busy taping up the already packed boxes while wearing white hot pants and a matching halter, knee-high silver platform boots, cobweb stockings and finger-less gloves. She also accessorized with an equal number of spiked bracelets and bauble-filled bracelets, as well as blue glitter eye shadow and lipstick to match her waist-length robin egg blue locks.
He glanced at his slightly ajar bedroom door before pulling her to him and covering her lips with his own, mixing his own black lipstick with her blue glitter. When the kiss ended, he continued holding her close as he smiled down at her.
“Aren’t you afraid to touch me when we still happen to be on this planet? Something about me being jail-bait?” she scowled over at him playfully.
“I’ll risk it this once to see that smile” he teased her. “Besides, I’m pretty sure they can’t arrest me just for kissing a fifteen year old. Though I should probably check on that” he added with another smirk.
“Why bother?” she mumbled as she looked down, though couldn’t bring herself to pull away from him just yet.
Kole shook his head and offered her a small smile, “stop. You will still see us, all of us” he added, “it just won’t be everyday, like it was last year” he attempted to assure her.
“When? On weekends when you all decide to come back home? Whenever those’ll be” she mumbled.
“I’m sure we can make time for more trips to that silver room up there, where the cops can’t come hunt us down for being naughty with you” Kole teased further.
His odd statement was a reference to the one place, somewhere between space and time, where Sky and Star had taken them on several occasions. Kole and Crista still weren’t really sure what that place even was. And honestly they weren’t sure Sky and Star even knew. They just knew that the psychic connection the four of them shared allowed them to all physically exist in that place while time stopped in the real world for everyone else. And that odd little quirk had been the one they had made use of for almost all of their passionate encounters since the four of them had become part of one another’s lives, irrevocably.
“But I can imagine all the nights I’ll miss. When it’ll just be the three eighteen year olds. Maybe you’ll all just get tired of having to leave earth just to be able to be with me. Maybe you’ll replace me with some other girl. Another eighteen year old” she mumbled, a pout on those glittery lips as she looked down.
“Like anyone could ever replace the demon-possessed barbie that is you?” Kole teased in reference to what Crista’s parents and older sister mockingly referred to her as, due to her rather odd and flamboyant style.
“Shut up” she retorted, though that smile did manage to break through the pout.
“Make me” he chuckled as he kissed her once more. As he kissed her, Kole also allowed his hand to move to her thigh. His fingers teased the tender skin right above the top of her stockings, and just below the high hem of those tight shorts, less than an inch away from where her body had already begun responding to his kiss and his touch.
“Your parents are home” she whispered, though still smiled as she felt his thumb ever so gently tease her through the thin material of the shorts.
“Asleep” he mumbled as he moved his kisses to her neck.
“For now” Crista chided as she forced herself to move his hand away.
Kole then adopted his own slight pout, though did move slightly back, “we could try going to the silver room by ourselves?” he offered with another teasing smile.
Crista feigned shock at the suggestion, but there was worry there too, “you know we shouldn’t risk trying anything like that without Sky or Star. You remember what happened before” she reminded him of the fact that their own psychic abilities, given to them by Sky and Star, did seem to be much weaker, and even detrimental to their own well-being the few times they ever tried to use any of those strange abilities without Sky’s or Star’s presence.
Kole sighed heavily at the reminder, “we’re eventually gonna have to figure out how to do stuff without them, you know.”
Crista narrowed her eyes, “why would we have to do stuff without them? I mean, none of us can do stuff alone anyway, and I’m the only one that’s screwed when it comes to that. You’re actually going to be living with them. You’ll be able to do whatever, whenever. You’ll always be near them, unlike me” she added more sadly.
“Yeah, maybe” Kole mumbled as he turned his attention back to the nearest box.
“What does that mean?” Crista asked worriedly, “we’ll always be in their lives. It’s kind of genetically programmed into us now even, isn’t it?”
“Still” Kole added in the same mumble, his cat green eyes still averted.
“Kole, why would you ever even think that we won’t be around them for the rest of our lives? I mean, yeah I’m pissed that I still have three years of school before I can be around them like before, but you’re moving in with them, today. Isn’t that kind of proof that it’s a done deal? The four of us together forever, I mean.”
Kole just shook his head, “yeah, I used to think that.”
“What?” Crista returned, her worry more pronounced then.
“Come on Crista. We’ve both noticed it. Ever since Curt... died” he settled on, “the two of them haven’t really been here, not completely. They’ve been distant. Whispering all the time and shit. I mean, Curt dying was the best thing that could have happened and they’ve been acting all kinds of strange since then. I just don’t know if I believe they’ll always want us around. Before you and me it was just Sky and Star. Maybe they want it to go back to that” he added the last sentence in a near whisper.
Crista let out a sound of disbelief at his words, “that’s just not true Kole. They would never want to be away from us. I mean, they couldn’t bear it when they thought...” she quickly caught herself and looked away as his eyes turned to hers questioningly, “you can’t believe they’d actually want us gone. I mean, you just don’t know....” she shook her head and let the sentence end there.
Eyes narrowed, Kole waited a moment for her to finish, then had to ask, “don’t know what?”