The explosion rang out several blocks in any direction. What little remained of The Baltimore Grind Coffeehouse was being quickly devoured by fire. Those fortunate enough not to have been caught in the blast were either calling for help, fleeing in terror, or left dumbstruck by the scene. One individual, however, approached the devastation not with the intention of aid.
A man, large and bulky, casually kicked through the rubble, seemingly searching. His set of glaring red eyes eventually laid upon a figure who was struggling to stand. The man smirked and held out his arm palm up. With no hesitation, the person on the ground who’d caught his attention jumped to his feet and darted through the shop and onto the street. The young man who’d been lying not five feet away from him watched as the hunter’s hand began to glow.
Fire erupted in the large man’s palm, yet it didn’t cause him any distress. Instead, he waited until the swelling flame reached an acceptable size, gave it a brief toss in the air, and then hurled it after the fleeing man. The one still left on the floor couldn’t see the impact, but saw and heard the resulting explosion. Panicked, he stared at the wall for a moment before it vanished and gave way to the sight of yet another fire out on the street.
Boone, the young man watching from the center of the action, felt a wave of relief wash over him as the fire starter trailed after his projectile. The brown head of hair, which was now dusted with ash, fell back down to the floor; his mind was clearly too preoccupied with the small stand-off to force his weakened body to move just yet. He looked over and found himself eye to eye with the man who’d abandoned him moments before.
Unsteadily Boone’s mouth opened, and even though he wasn’t about to speak, the man held a finger up to his own mouth. “We’ve got to go now,” the man said as quietly as he could to still be heard over the crackling of the flames. “Come on,” he added, offering his hand after he stood up. Boone took his hand as he pieced together what was happening around him.
“You’re altered?” A nod was all he received in response. Stomping across broken dishes and splintered furniture, the man made his way to the back door of the shop, leading the pair into an alley.
“He’s going to figure out that was an illusion soon.”
“I think he already did.” Boone’s eyes were glowing an unnaturally deep blue. His pupil’s had gone white and were shifting back and forth. Through his eyes he could see beyond the walls and destruction to the fire starter marching his way back into the coffeehouse. The man’s hand held tight against his headpiece covered ear as he shouted something. His gaze suddenly shot towards the pair in the alley and his march continued.
“He coming!” Boone shouted, not needing to worry about stealth anymore.
“Go!” the man with him commanded. The alley only extended in two directions, along the crumbling coffeehouse and behind them onto the next street; they swiveled on their heels and took off into a dead sprint. They heard a large boom behind them as the man slammed his way through the door. Neither of the runners looked behind them to see the man pull a cannon of a gun off his back and aim it at them.
To Boone, what happened next appeared almost in slow-motion. A resounding blast filled the alleyway shortly followed by a gray ball hurtling between them. The ball impacted with the car parked outside of the alley and detonated before either man could slow his pace.
The resulting explosion threw the men away, the unnamed man into a hard brick wall and Boone directly parallel with the alley and back towards the fire starter. A blinding light flooded the area, forcing Boone’s eyes shut. Anticipating the collision with the ground, the young man’s body tensed up. But the expectation wasn’t realized.
Even with his eyes shut, Boone could still see the alleyway flying past him, but his vantage point was steadily losing altitude. A moment later the young man’s vision was shrouded in darkness, only temporarily, until he could again take in his surroundings: an underground tunnel. Despite the tunnel being pitch black, Boone could fully see his surroundings. The change in scenery, however, didn’t change the fact that he was falling and quickly losing his grip on consciousness.
Boone only felt the initial shot of pain as his head slammed onto the wet concrete floor of the tunnel. Along with the pain came blackness again, this time for much longer than a moment. The rapid rising and falling of his chest slowed back down to an even pace. It took only minutes for help to arrive.
“We were lucky to find him,” Evelyn Walters said out loud, mostly to the man standing across the counter from her. She pushed her long brown hair behind her shoulder; she’d been in too much of a rush to find a hairband on her way to the medical bay.
“How’d he end up in the sewer?” Ben Dugan asked. “Intangibility?” Typically being hunched over in the lab made his muscles ache as he stretched.
“I think so; the security footage we found was no good after they were hit.” She sighed and looked over to Boone’s still body. Moments after the boy had fallen through the street and into unconsciousness, a team of altered individuals (altered being the collective term for those with superhuman abilities) arrived at the scene. They were able to capture the arsonist, rescue the man he’d been attacking and, thanks to the security footage that hadn’t been ruined by the white light, rescue Boone as well.
“Do we know who he is?” Ben picked up the wallet on the counter and found an ID; the name wasn’t familiar to him. Evelyn shook her head in response.
“I’ve got to go check on Price,” she let out after a moment of silence. She uncrossed her arms and moved towards the door.
“Let me know if you need anything,” he said after her.
“Thanks,” she shouted back before the automatic metal doors closed behind her. Ben took in a deep breath of air and stretched his back again. He grabbed the ID once more, inspecting it closer. The name on it read Cecil Boone, a resident of Baltimore, Maryland. The plastic card said he was 5’9”, had brown hair and just recently turned twenty-six. Ben thought of himself at that age, shortly after he’d become altered. ‘The first of our kind,’ a line he would remember for the rest of his life echoed in his head.
A mumble from the bed caught Ben’s attention. Previously still, Boone’s body began to shift. His eyes struggled to stay open against the harsh LED light. He picked himself up to rest on his elbows.
“Cecil?” The sudden voice stole his gaze. Boone stared confused, wondering if he knew the man who seemed to know him. “Cecil, are you alright?”
Without speaking Boone answered as he fell back down onto the bed. The hand reaching for the back of his head recoiled in pain when it touched the swollen welt. “Oh,” Ben said as he quickly approached Boone, his movement startling the younger man back onto his elbows. “No. I’m not going to hurt you.” Ben’s words sounded genuine, but Boone remained stoic.
“Your head. Y-you hit your head… when you fell.” Boone was listening so Ben went on. “A man who calls himself ‘Firebomb’ attacked the store you were in. We believe he was attempting to assassinate someone, an altered named ‘Photon’.”
“The… mirage guy?” Boone sat up fully now, slouching over and rubbing his head.
“Precisely.” Boone’s relaxed posture signaled to Ben that he was okay to sit on the edge of the bed. “From the footage we saw you two had nearly escaped when Firebomb detonated an overload bomb.” The younger man sighed, his head aching more and more as the seconds ticked by.
“What’s an overload bomb?” Ben could see the pain in the boy’s expression.
“That’s probably a discussion for a later time; I know this is a lot to take in.”
“I’m fine,” Boone began to protest before again falling onto his back.
“Cecil, you need to get some rest. We can talk more when you’re feeling better. This button here,” he placed a small device next to the younger man’s hand, “is for if you need anything.” The man stood up and straightened out his button-up shirt. “I’m Ben, by the way.” Boone nodded, but it looked more like he was wincing. “Don’t hesitate to use that,” Ben pointed to the device as he walked out of the room, dimming the lights to their lowest setting before doing so. Boone was quick to fall back into a deep sleep.
“You lost me one of my best men,” the figure in the dark, grand office sighed.
“He knew how much time he had. It’s his own fault.” The slender woman stood at the entrance of the room. She took Firebomb’s capture much more personally than the man scolding her did; they both knew it.
“But you were his eyes. Am I to believe that you were blind to the Alliance?” The shadowy man’s lip curled up into a gleeful snarl. The woman shivered as a hint of fear entered her mind. She shook the thoughts from her head and remained silent as there was no answer she could’ve given. Both of them knew that at the sight of the Alliance’s jet cresting over the city the woman abandoned Firebomb without warning. The fear she’d felt thinking of being caught by the Alliance paled in comparison to the fear that continued to creep into her mind now.
“Who was the other altered?” The man asked, changing the subject and granting pity to the woman.
“I’ve never seen him before. He could become intangible. He had some form of heightened senses; he knew where Firebomb was when he couldn’t see him.” The man chuckled at this.
“I don’t need to be altered to know when that bumbling oaf is around.” It was now the woman’s turn to snarl. “What about the boy?”
“He’s in position,” she growled. The man sighed again.
“My dear, Scope. Be glad that I don’t hand you over to the Alliance myself for your cowardice.” He waved the woman out, not bothering to turn and look at her. As she shuffled away, the man stopped her. “Oh, and Scope? Tell the boy he has a new target. I might just find a way to turn your blunder into a golden opportunity.”
Several days in the sterilized, white room had passed. Boone was able to get up and walk around at his leisure, but he was not yet given the go-ahead to leave the medical bay. Evelyn had finally convinced him to spend his first afternoon out exploring the grounds of the Westminster Mansion of which they were currently in the basement of.
“Thank you, again, for everything,” Boone started. His legs kicked back and forth from his seat on the bed.
“Think nothing of it. I only hope you’ll consider staying with us, but… outside of here. And awake more often.” If Boone left with nothing else, he would’ve at least had the sight of Evelyn’s becoming smile. She looked shy, only letting her teeth show after a few seconds of grinning. Her skin and hair, partially due to her healing abilities, were flawless.
“I’m not—“ Boone’s hesitant response was cut off by the electronic sound of the doors.
“Hi.” The blonde man nodded and smiled back at the still grinning pair as he strode into the room. Boone became instantly mesmerized at the vision in front of him.
The man, no more than thirty and just barely taller than the man sitting down, wore a tight, two-tone blue t-shirt and a pair of dark jeans. The short sleeves were stretched taut around the impressively thick biceps. The man’s chest bulged too, but not unnaturally, or unappealingly to Boone. His midsection was trim and fit and was the only place where the shirt seemed to have any give. The jeans he wore must’ve been drawn on as they wrapped seamlessly around each muscle and concave curve. Mentally noting his own clothing, Boone felt almost underdressed wearing a looser tee and shorts.
“Adam,” Evelyn said, her smile growing bigger yet, “this is Boone. Boone, this is Adam; he’ll be showing you around.”
“It’s nice to meet you,” Boone said, offering his hand. Adam took it firmly and returned the sentiment. The blonde’s face lit up as he smiled.
“Well, you boys have fun.” Evelyn clasped her hands together as the three of them walked out of the medical bay into a long hallway with more rooms and halls branching off. “I’ve got to see if Price is up yet, but maybe I’ll find you two for lunch later.”
“Price,” Adam chuckled, “maybe someday he’ll realize his loud mouth is better off here with us than on his own.”
“I wouldn’t count it on it.” Evelyn looked back to Boone as they stopped in front of an unmarked door. “Please… I hope you’ll consider what I said about staying here longer. I think you’ll find it’s a beautiful mansion and not a half-bad group of people to live with.” Boone nodded, not sure what to say. “I’ll see you boys later.” Evelyn turned and walked through the same style metal doors from the medical bay. Boone couldn’t help but peek past her, catching a brief glimpse of the man they call Photon lying motionless on a bed.
“I’m sure she hyped this place up enough for you,” Adam’s voice shook Boone’s attention away from the now closed doors, “Ready to see if it lives up to expectations?”
“Lead the way.” Adam did so, guiding the shorter guy through the basement halls, briefly detailing the hangar, research lab, simulation deck, meeting room, and the detention cells. Boone stopped him at the latter. “Ben told me Firebomb was captured. Is he…?”
“Yeah, he’s in there. Don’t worry, though. The cells are equipped to handle a lot of different powers. The extinguishers would hit him the second he got fired up.” The brunette’s eyes began shifting colors, replacing his normally rich hazel-brown irises with a dark blue. His pupil’s lightened until they were as white as the rest of his eyes.
Through the alteration of his eyes, Boone’s vision was also changed giving him the ability to look past the layers of steel that divided the basement up. Without having to step into the room, Boone could see the entirety of the detention cells, including the man who’d nearly killed him a few short days ago. He couldn’t help but wonder what the imprisoned man was smiling about, but he knew at least some part of the man must’ve been deranged to have been able to blow up a quiet coffee shop.
Adam remained silent while the man, one year his junior, looked through the walls. However, he didn’t only take notice of the man’s changing eyes. His own eyes wandered downward, moving over the toned body before him. A trim waist, defined legs and arms, and a butt that looked ideal in every sense of the word became Adam’s major focal points. He broke off his gaze as he cleared his throat.
“Should we keep going?” With his eyes returning to his natural color, Boone agreed and the pair boarded the elevator.
The wooden walls of the elevator didn’t match the sleek metallic look of the basement, but it fit in perfectly with the interior of the upper-levels of the mansion. Adam and Boone stepped out into the first floor den. Across the room was a fireplace which currently warmed the air. Several bookshelves and couches filled the empty spaces, but at the moment there were only two bodies there.
Neither seeing or hearing anyone else nearby, Adam said, “I’m guessing your eyes do more than just change color.”
“Yeah,” Boone started, “I can… see things differently. Like looking through walls, I can see heat and in the dark. I’m told I can walk through walls too.” He chuckled, earning a genuine smile from the other man. “What about you? What can you do?”
“I can manipulate gravitational fields.” Adam grabbed an apple out of the nearby fruit bowl and demonstrated. With his palm facing upwards, an unseen change in the space around his hand was made. His hand lowered but the apple remained in its place, only gaining a little spin when the fingers brushed past it.
“That’s incredible.” Boone chuckled again.
“Thanks. Your powers are pretty awesome too; I’ve never known anyone with x-ray vision.” Adam performed yet another invisible act causing the apple to drop into his hand at which point he tossed it back into the bowl.
“It can be pretty fun; spying on people.” Boone’s eyes widened and flashed his unnatural blue followed by an impish grin.
“Uh-oh,” Adam faked a concerned look, “now I’m going to feel really self-conscious.” The brunette fought the urge to say anything flirty, and instead could only laugh.
Through the course of the rest of the tour, Boone learned that there were currently thirty-five altered individuals who used the mansion and its sublevels as a base of operations, a research facility, or just a home. He’d met a few of the residents in passing, but didn’t yet get too acquainted. There were also several codenames given out which prompted Boone to get curious.
“So what’s your… superhero name?” He asked as the pair walked up the grand staircase in the main foyer.
“Atlas,” Adam responded, a slight bit of color flooding into his cheeks. “Adam ‘Atlas’ Adair.”
“Why do they call you that?” Although he knew it wasn’t the reason, Boone thought of physique as the biggest likelihood.
“On my first team mission I caught this massive runaway Earth sculpture and everyone started calling me Atlas and it’s been my name ever since.” Adam’s face was now fully flushed, although he wasn’t normally embarrassed by the story. “Have you ever thought of what you’d call yourself?”
“No,” Boone laughed.
“C’mon, don’t lie.” Adam bumped Boone’s shoulder with his and reiterated his question. Boone nervously laughed again before stuttering out his answer.
“X. Like x-ray.” Now both boys had red cheeks.
“I like it,” Adam nodded. “It’s cool and mysterious.”
“Okay, now I feel like you’re making fun of me,” Boone said laughing.
“I swear, I’m not.” Adam looked into the shorter boys eyes and smiled. “I really like it.” Both men stood in silence for a moment, not knowing another person was walking up beside them.
“Adam,” the young woman grinned.
“Gwen,” he smiled back. The woman was about the same age as Adam. Just from her look Boone could see she was confident and comfortable.
“You must be Boone,” she said, “I heard what happened; I’m glad you’re okay.” Her words were genuine but not very heartfelt.
“Thanks,” he replied.
“Boone, this is Gwen; she’s a teammate of mine. She definitely takes some getting used to, but she’s not as mean as she likes to act.” Adam smirked at her and she couldn’t help but break a smile too.
“Well I’d love to stay and chat, but I can see you’re very busy. I’ll just be running reports if you decide to take a break.” She didn’t wait for Adam to get another quip in. “Boone, it was nice to meet you.” Boone said the same back and Gwen walked away with one last smirk at Adam.
“Where were we?” Adam chuckled.
“I think you were about to tell me what’s down this hall.” Boone laughed too, mostly at how nervous the blonde man looked.
“Right,” Adam motioned his index finger at Boone. “These are the bedrooms up here. There’re living rooms at the end of each wing. There’s… even a room open in the wing my team’s in, if you decide to stay.”
“Um… your team?” Boone chuckled nervously and Adam was unable to resist doing the same.
“Yeah,” Adam nibbled on his lip as he started, “it started off with Trey, Gwen, and I. We got to do the missions that weren’t significant enough for the bigger teams to tackle. But we proved ourselves, added a few new members, and now we’re one of the primary responding teams.”
“They’re going to want you to do a performance evaluation tomorrow,” Adam changed the subject. “It’s a demonstration of your powers.”
“Evelyn mentioned something about that.” Boone sighed. His hand reached up and rubbed at the back of his head and he groaned at the touch.
“Are you okay?” Adam asked with genuine concern, gently grabbing hold of Boone’s arm as he leaned in.
“It’s my head. Sorry.”
“Don’t be sorry. Getting overloaded is never easy to recover.” Adam ducked his head down until Boone met his eyes. “Let’s get you to bed.” Boone wanted to argue, knowing it was barely past three in the afternoon and the days he’d already spent here have been mostly done asleep, but the aching in his head stopped him from protesting.
The muscular blonde helped the rapidly tiring man to the empty room he’d mentioned before. After sitting him on the bed, Adam left only to return a few minutes later with a bottle of water and a set of his old pajamas. “Hey,” he said softly, “if you need something, I’m in room on the inside corner. Or you can alert me with this.” Adam set a device, similar to the one from the medical bay, on the nightstand. “Feel better, Boone.”
“Thanks,” he said as Adam left him to rest. Boone stripped all but his underwear off for bed, contemplating wearing the clothes at the foot of the bed, but never having been one to sleep with pajamas. Once under the sheets, the brunette was quick to drift off to sleep.
Eleven o’clock, the digital numbers shined: the first thing Boone noticed upon opening his eyes. It took a moment for him to fully wake from his slumber, but his head felt far greater from the rest. The nearly nude body stretched the aches away and pulled on his old clothes before quietly opening the bedroom door and stepping into the dark hall.
To his right was this wing’s living room and from the sound of it a few people were still up watching television. To his left was the rest of the mansion and the direction he headed off in. Adam had mentioned earlier during their tour that anything not claimed in the kitchen was up for grabs, and at this moment the groaning from Boone’s stomach begged him to at least look.
As he rounded the corner he stopped himself. He was next to Adam’s room. Unbeknownst to Boone, the blonde had retired to him room only minutes before he woke. There was the initial thought of simply knocking on the door, but he didn’t want to wake Adam if he was asleep. But looking in, in his unique way, would be wrong, no matter how badly he wanted to talk with him more. Then the thrill of what he might see tipped the scales.
Looking down each hallway first, finding no one nearby, Boone’s eyes began their transformation. The wall began to vanish and Boone saw Adam; looking directly at him. Startled at first until he realized Adam couldn’t see him, Boone started to move for the door. That was until Adam grabbed the hem of his shirt and stripped it off.
The chiseled chest reconfirmed to Boone that Adam was more than fit to carry the moniker ‘Atlas’. The muscular man stretched his shoulders back, pushing his chest forward. Pushing his shoulders forward again, Adam’s fingers reached down for the button and zipper on his jeans. Boone became painfully aware of the well-defined V that disappeared underneath those jeans. At the instant that Adam brought the zipper down, the peeping tom turned away.
His eyes were dying to watch the rest of the undressing, but his mind wouldn’t let him. All he could do now was walk away and head downstairs, ignoring his growing erection as he did.
© Copyright 2021 murphtaf. All rights reserved.
Book / Gay and Lesbian
Book / Gay and Lesbian
Book / Gay and Lesbian