Expo The Brightheart Files



He was floating in a void. It was empty and cold, and he had no idea where he was. He was so tired. God, he was so tired. And the void cradled his body in a way a bed never could. Maybe he could just rest here. Whatever existed above knew he deserved it. Why try and fight it when it was so comforting, when it was so tender and welcoming? He could just float in the darkness and let it carry him away, let it wash him away like foam on the shore when the tide rolls in. He could–

“He isn’t waking up. Jasper, can you reach him? He’s right next to the bars. Yeah, just try– yeah, you should be able to reach him like that.”

A hand reached out in the darkness, accompanied by a familiar voice. It touched him, and he instinctively reached out for it. It was warm. It promised warmth and a way out. If he took it, he knew something would happen, but he couldn’t remember what. If he stayed in the darkness, he knew it meant an end to his suffering. But then that voice would be sad, wouldn’t it?

He reached for the hand, and warmth began to flood through him. It swirled through his body and filled him with coils of energy. It felt like water running smoothly into his body, a trickle at first, and then a roaring wave, and it left the impression of green behind his eyelids.

Ethan gasped in a breath and his eyes shot open. There was a hand on his chest, and he was drawing from it. Where was he? Whose hand was this? What was happening? He looked around, gasping for air in short gulps. Then he found Franklin’s hazel eyes, saw the worry and fear in them, and saw it turn to relief. Tears slid down the other boy’s face and he whipped them away on his grey sweatshirt.

Then the hand on his chest was–

“Jasper? Jasper, stop! That’s enough!”

“Ethan, you almost died. Let me help you. You know I have plenty to give. Take it.”

The red-haired boy swallowed hard against the cries that were climbing up his throat. He nodded, even though the boy the hand was attached to couldn’t see him. “You know the deal. Uhm, pull away when you get tired. Don’t let me… please, don’t let me hurt you, Jasper.”

There was a chuckle from the other cell, from the boy he couldn’t see. The boy that he knew had warm brown waves, cappuccino-colored skin, and light brown eyes. “When have I ever let you hurt me? You couldn’t even if you tried. You’d be full before I was empty.”

Ethan smiled, his eyes still full of sadness. He looked down at the hand on his chest and he put his own pale hand, with its sparse freckles, over Jasper’s. Jasper’s hand pressed harder into his chest, acknowledging his gratitude without words. They stayed like that for a few minutes, and as Jasper gave him more and more energy, Ethan came back to life.

His dulled senses began to clear, his eyes picking up colors again and his skin tingling. He could hear more than just his slow thrumming heart and the muffled sounds of Franklin’s soft cries. His head cleared and he could think again. He breathed in deep, feeling his lungs fill in his chest. After a little while, Ethan tapped Jasper’s hand.

“I’m full, Jasper. You can stop now.” The hand withdrew and he heard a soft sigh from the other cage. Ethan looked over at Franklin, whose blonde hair was sticking out in every direction, whose eyes were damp, and whose pale skin had tearstains. He gave him a weak smile, a reassurance that he was fine. The boy wiped at his face again and shuddered, curling in on himself.

“They’re going to kill you, Ethan. You’re going to die if they keep doing this to you. You’re starting to need more and they aren’t giving it to you unless you hunt. They need to increase the frequency they let you.”

The two boys shared a look. A look of mutual understanding. They had to get out, and soon. There were only so many more pieces of them the kids could bear to lose before they died on the table. There were only so many more invasive tests they could take before they wanted to die on the table. Ethan broke eye contact first, his expression hardening. Sixteen. They were all almost sixteen now. Three more weeks and Ethan would be sixteen. They’d been there, together, for almost twelve years.

Ethan stood and started pacing his cell. Franklin tracked him with his eyes as he moved, and the weight of his gaze was soft. Jasper and Franklin were the only family he had. Ethan knew he could escape. It was just a matter of getting them out with him.

They knew by now several things. The cameras didn’t have microphones. The boys had managed to catch the guards off guard several times already with various planned actions. They had planned several of these things while shouting, just to test it. The guards never expected them to use their powers during escorting. Franklin had managed to use his truth gas on one of the guards for several minutes without detection. Jasper had turned to several different materials without notice.

All Ethan had to do was finish planning everything.​