The back of the van bounced around as Max finally regained consciousness. His head still throbbed from the impact that had put his lights out. Before he surveyed his surroundings, though, he placed a hand against the point of impact on his head. His hand came away with half dried, caked on blood, and he was certain that his hair was fairly rinsed through with it from the size of the bump he felt. The wound had clotted, but it had bled a lot and he felt woozy.
Looking around he found he was lying in the back of a large cube-truck moving van, his legs tied at ankles and knees, his hands bound at the wrist. He managed to leverage himself up to a sitting position, timing a bounce from the van's crappy suspension system to give him added momentum. Glancing around, he saw Cameron lying similarly tied, facing away. Cam looked bad, with dark purple bruises on his back from the beating he had taken. A small gash in his leg had also clotted long ago, but without proper medial treatment, it would likely become seriously infected.
Well, Mike, Max thought, you said only to use it if I needed it. Sighing, Max reached out to his bonds with his telekinetic talent and in a few moments managed to free himself entirely. He still felt sore all over from the pummeling he had received as well, but unlike Cameron, Max had a body field to help ward off the damage. Keeping low, Max crawled over to Cam and looked him over.
Cameron's face was a bloody mess. His nose was broken and crusted over with dried blood, as was a deep gash over his left eye and his bottom lip was puffy and split. He was still crying, softly now, lacking the strength to even whimper in pain. Max reached down and gently stroked the side of Cam's face, one spot without any marks from the ambush.
Cam's eyes flew open wide in terror and then in recognition at the gentle touch. Max smiled down at his lover and put a finger to his own lips, the universal signal for silence.
"Hey!" Max breathed out, trying to keep his terror and apprehension out of his voice.
"Hey, what?" Cam asked back, painfully.
"Hey, I love you," Max replied. "Lemme see how bad it is," Max demanded, getting a tight nod from Cameron.
Max turned Cam over, gently, flinching at every little grunt of agony as Cam's body weight pressed down through his heavy bruises. Max eased him to a sitting position and then went to work untying his hands. It was easier to do with his hands, especially when he cheated and used his telekinetics to help with particularly tight knots. Within a few minutes, Cameron was free.
Max hugged Cameron gently, knowing that any pressure against his lover's tender back right now would be agony. The large bruises would match up nicely against boot prints, Max was certain. But for the moment, he was just glad that Cameron was still alive.
"I thought they had killed you," Cam whispered through his bruised lips. "When I saw you lying so still, I...I gave up."
"I'm tougher than they think I am," Max replied, feeling his anger return. "Can you stand?"
"I think so."
"Good," Max said, looking at the back door of the van. "Cause we're bustin' outta here!"
"How?" Cameron asked, looking around. There wasn't anything else in the back of the moving van except a series of worn, tattered blankets used to pad items for packing and a pair of lever action straps for securing things to the wall brackets.
"Cam, do you trust me?" Max asked, helping Cam stand. Cameron nodded. "Then get one of those blankets wrapped around you. I'll deal with the back door."
Not understanding what Max had in mind, Cam bent to the task of wrapping himself up. As he turned to pick up a blanket, Max called his focus and sent it beyond the back door of the moving van by several feet and hit it with everything he had. The doors wrenched free of the van with a shriek of bolts twisting in ways they never were intended to. A car behind the moving van had to make a sudden swerve to avoid the left door, which completely flew off. The right door was still attached by a thread of twisted metal, and it swung back and forth as the van continued on.
Not even pausing to explain, Max gathered his body focus and physically hoisted Cam onto his slim shoulders in a fireman's carry. He took two steps towards the back of the van and leapt out, landing on the wildly sliding right door hard enough to separate its last tether to the van. The door skidded to a halt after a few dozen yards of travel, scrapping itself to a break from highway speeds.
Max however, decided not to wait. The van's break lights were already flashing as Max jumped off the skidding door and headed immediately for the side of the highway. He reached a tree line and was bounding through the remaining fall foliage as lightly as he dared, still keeping Cam on his shoulders. Every step felt like a jarring impact to Max and he knew that Cam would be in great pain. He kept running though, putting as much distance between himself and the moving van as he could.
After several minutes of hard charging through the woodlands, he came upon a deserted house, obviously damaged long ago by fire. There was a dirt access road out in front of it, but Max guessed that the house hadn't seen a visitor in quite some time. Entry was a snap, thanks to a clever use of his telekinetics to open the rear door lock.
Inside, the house was a mess, obviously the victim of some kind of kitchen fire, although the living room and bed room areas were still mostly intact. Max took Cameron to the master bedroom and gently eased him off his shoulders. He felt exhausted and was thankful that he had learned to use his body focus to help him deal with long and heavy exertions as well as to deflect impacts. Their escape would have been much less assured had Max been forced to rely on only his muscle power.
Cameron was still hurting, badly. The escape hadn't been easy on him and the deep purples around his ribs seemed glossed over with extra redness from being bounced around on Max's bony shoulders. Still, he smiled up as Max looked over the damage with a more critical eye.
"Well, Doc," Cam said, forcing a grin, "will I still be able to play the piano?"
"They worked you over wicked," Max replied, wishing that Cam had gotten more than just his jeans on when the attack came. The house would provide some shelter, but if not for the packing blankets, they would have no other means of keeping warm once night fell. Thankfully, this house had carpets on the floors instead of hardwood or tiles. "I'm gonna see if we at least have water so I can clean you up." Max said, quickly ducking into the master bathroom.
"Why'd they attack us like that?" Cam asked, his voice full of anguish. "Are they just gay bashers?"
"I dunno," Max lied and hated himself for doing it. Cam deserved to know, but would the truth help matters now, or make things worse? For now Max choose to follow his brother's council and say nothing to Cameron about his mental powers.
Max hunted throughout the house and found some left behind articles, mostly oversized shirts that had seen better days. The better of the two he gave to Cam, and the other he took to the bathroom, ripping into strips as he went. The water tap was still active, even if it was only running cold water. Max rinsed one of his strips in water and wrung it out. Coming back into the master bedroom, he began cleaning, as gently as he could, Cam's face wounds.
"They were gonna kill us," Cam said, the shock of it still oppressive to him. "Take us out into the woods and just kill us like dogs."
"Maybe," Max said, knowing that was exactly on their minds, at least for Cam.
"What are we gonna do?"
"We'll get out of this, Cam, dontchu worry. After nightfall, I'll go out and find a phone, call my brother and he'll help us out." Max tried to sound confident, but mostly he still felt scared himself. He wasn't as terrified as Cam was, but then again, he had an edge that Cam could only dream of. An edge he was suddenly very eager to use, should the circumstances merit it.
Cam nodded and submitted to Max's ministrations. The rag strips were soon spotted with red from all of the blood and dirt that Max removed. Cam winced in pain a few times as Max dabbed delicately at the other boy's cheek. There was slight movement below the surface, leading Max to believe that Cam's cheekbone had been fractured.
"Looks like I'll have to move faster than I thought. Cam, I wont lie to you; this is bad. You need to see a doctor." Max noticed the purpling under Cam's eyes and was surprised that the older boy was able to see around the puffiness in his left eye.
"Help me to the bathroom, willya?" Cam asked, straining to get up. It was obvious that his ribs were still very tender. Max expanded his body focus and eased Cam's left arm over his shoulder. The added TK sensitivity helped Max avoid any jarring motions and actually let him lift Cam's weight up more easily. Still, the older boy was in a great deal of pain, and even walking the short distance to the bathroom, with support, was an act of willpower.
One in the bathroom, Cam eased down his zipper and pulled out his penis. It was bruised and he seemed to be reluctant to touch it, but he was feeling a more insistent call than just pain. He carefully aimed his manhood and released his bladder muscles.
But instead of a stream of yellow or even clear urine, it came out dark pink. Max's mind raced over the possibilities, but no matter what he thought might actually be wrong, one thing was clear: Cam was bleeding inside, possibly in his kidneys. No longer was it just a matter of escaping from pain and persecution that drove Max on. Now his friend was in serious, life threatening danger. Before he had been mad, just fully ticked off. Now it was vendetta.
Cam looked down as the stream ended, having had his eyes closed after the first dark drops emerged. "Well, that answers that question," he said, deadpan. A fresh batch of tears welled up in his eyes now. "They really fucked me over good, huh?"
It was too much. Cameron was worth more to Max now than his own life, than any secret he had or could ever hope to keep. Michael would just have to understand, this was now a life or death situation.
"Cam, I have a secret. Something I've been keeping from you.....and it's time you knew."
Cameron carefully stuffed himself back into his pants, grimacing in pain as he went. He met Max's level gaze as soon as he had the zipper up.
"You once said you weren't like other people, that you called yourself a freak. Well, I think I've got you beat with my freak side." Neither boy bent over and neither moved a hand, but the toilet flushed itself, Max consciously using his telekinesis to hold the lever in the down position.
Cameron looked pained and perplexed at the same time. "What are you saying?" he asked, inhaling slowly, through clenched teeth.
"That I can do stuff, all kinds of stuff, just by thinking about it," Max admitted. He was willing to let his telekinetic secret go. The telepathic powers he would save for later. Right now, Cam had a need to know about what Max had in mind. "And I need to get you to a hospital, soon, so we can't afford to go the slow way around this. Cam, I can fly. And I can fly us to get you the help you need."
Cameron looked directly into Max's eyes, not totally shocked, not even slightly incredulous. "I know," he said.
Max's mouth dropped open. "Huh?"
"I saw you and your brother flying, that morning at the Watching Rocks."
"I thought we were totally quiet about that."
"You were. I woke up to the smell of hot chocolate and looked around. You weren't in the tent, so I went outside to pee. While I was doing that, I looked up at the sky. There you and Mike were, like two angels without wings. I thought at first I was dreaming, you know, after what happened the night before. But I watched you two for a while and only managed to get back into the tent as you were coming back."
"I coulda sworn you were dreaming when I came back."
"I still thought I was. And I wanted you to tell me when you were ready. I trust you, Max. I figured I had to let you decide to trust me."
"I do trust you, Eeyore," Max said tenderly. "But it wasn't just me I had to protect with that secret. Do you understand?"
"Good, then let's get you someplace safe." Max lifted Cam on his body focus and started walking towards the outside.
"They weren't after both of us, were they?" Cam said at length. "They were after you."
"Probably," Max said. "Conserve your strength, okay. I need you to stay alive long enough for me to get you someplace safe."
"Okay, Little Elf."
"Huh?" Max asked. "What'd you say?"
"I called you my Little Elf."
"Where'd that come from?" Max said, getting through the front door of the burnt out house. He was practically flaunting his telekinetic powers now, too concerned about Cameron's wounds to worry about who would see.
"Oh, just from some stories I'd read as a kid. About elves that rode wolves. They had powers. I guess you're like that too. Can probably read my mind." Max did a quick scan of his lover's public mind and found him drifting. Barely lucent. Drifting dangerously close to the edge of unconsciousness.
"That's right, I'm your elf, Cam. Hold on, please. Just hold on, for me." Max stood outside and held Cam to him, tightly. He focused through his body and fired a second focus into the ground, going deep. The surge of energy returned to him and he felt even more super charged than just what the body focus alone could do to him. Carefully, Max lifted Cam in his arms, like a baby, and cradled him. With a quick peck on Cam's nose, Max pushed against his ground focus and shot into the sky.
He angled East, away from the setting sun and flew on as fast as he could push, trying to put as much distance between himself and the highway as he could. He searched desperately below for some sign of a hospital nearby. A street sign, an advertisement, anything that could point him in the direction of help. His senses were hyper keen with the body focus and he could actually feel Cameron starting to grow colder. Max concentrated for a moment and kept chanting in his head "warmer, warmer, warmer…." A blast of wind whipped away from him, temporarily shaking him and Cam as they flew on, and Max knew that somehow he had actually begun to kick out more heat from his own body.
They flew on for about twenty minutes before they came to the outskirts of a small town. The sun was rapidly allowing the purple of night to envelop the rolling New England countryside, and Max felt panic seeping in. Cam had become so quiet, barely breathing, that Max feared the worst.
Finally, another twenty minutes later, Max saw an ambulance, flashing lights and siren blaring, moving on a wide road to his left. He took a chance and followed the ambulance, chasing it from above, as it were. The flashing lights turned up a narrow access road and Max looked ahead to see a tall structure in the distance. Hospital! he thought, desperately. Hold on, Cameron, we're almost there!
Deciding that Cam's life was worth the risk, Max landed right in front of the emergency room doors and walked in carrying Cameron. He got inside, and managed to get Cameron on a rolling gurney. His tears had been flowing for quite a while, he suddenly realized, and his face was all a mess when he ran to the nurse's desk.
"I need help!" Max shouted, getting two nurses and a doctor to turn around. "My friend is hurt!"
"Where is he?" the doctor asked, stepping forwards, one of the nurses close behind.
"Out….here……hallway…" Max managed, his tears overcoming him in his panic. The body focus vanished, sliding off like a thick skin. He fell to a knee, crying like a baby. The doctor ran to the gurney and started looking Cameron over. As soon as the nurse got there, the doctor started issuing orders. The second nurse picked up a phone and made an announcement over the intercom. Moments later, more medical personnel showed up and dove into the emergency room where they had taken Cameron. Max just stayed on the floor there, bawling his eyes out, exhausted.
"It's gonna be alright honey, they'll take real good care of him. Why don't you sit down out here and try to get calm?" said a pleasant contralto voice. Max followed an older looking nurse and sat beside her in the waiting room, still with his emotions all strung out and dripping down his face. She brought forth a handkerchief and began to help Max clean up a bit, wiping the draining phlegm and tears from his face.
"You look to be in a state!" she said, her New England accent pitching strong from her voice. "Can you tell me what happened?" she asked. Max sniffed hard, trying to compose himself. His hysterics were nearly over, but he still felt wasted, drained. Empty.
"We were beat up," he said, honestly. "They wanted to hurt me, but they decided to hurt Cam more. They wanted to hurt me," he said, nearly losing it again. The older nurse brought Max against her chest, hugging him tightly until he calmed down, shhh-ing him and stroking his hair.
"Alright. I understand. It's been some rotten ordeal. Is there anyone you'd like to call? Your parents maybe?"
"My brother!" Max almost snapped. "Can I call my brother, please? He can make it all right again!"
She stood, her face looking somewhat doubtful, but she led Max over to a phone, dialed in a brief code and handed him the receiver. "Go ahead, dear," she said. Max "thank you'ed," quietly and dialed in his home number. After three rings, the other end picked up.
"Hello?" Mike's voice, thank you god, Max thought.
"Mikey," he said, his voice shaking with the effort to remain in control. "It's Max."
"What's wrong?" Mike asked, his worry evident in his voice. "Maxy, are you okay?"
"I'm at," he said looking around at the nurse. He managed to focus on her name tag and read that her name was Ruth.
"Cranston Hospital," Ruth said, in answer to his questioning eyes.
"Cranston Hospital, Mikey. Can you come? Cam's been hurt."
"I'll be right there, okay? Don't leave his side. I'll be right there."
"Okay," Max said, suddenly sounding young again, like less than his thirteen years. "Hurry. I...I dunno what to do."
"Just stay calm, I'm on the way. I love you Max."
"Love you, too. Please hurry!" Max called back. A heart beat later, the line went dead and Max reluctantly placed it back into the cradle.
The emergency room doctor came out and looked around for Max. He walked over with unhurried steps, but with a purpose. As he got near to Max, some silent signal passed between the doctor and Ruth and she headed over to another phone extension and began making a call.
"I'm Dr. Reynolds. Your friend is in very bad shape. We will have to operate on him as soon as possible to find out where he's bleeding from and patch him up." Max's face twitched at that. He reached out with his mind and felt for Cameron. He was still there, but when Max contacted his mind, Cameron felt very far away.
"Will he die?" Max asked, his eyes raw and red from all the crying.
"I hope not, son. But he's in bad shape. I have him going up to surgery right now. They should be taking him upstairs in a minute. He's still conscious. He's asking for you. If you want to see him before he goes up, this would be the time." Max nodded and Dr. Reynolds led him into the emergency room.
Cam was a wreck, alright. The medical team had him hooked up to three different machines, had an IV drip in one arm and a unit of blood going into the other. Max felt his face go pale at the sight of his lover so weak, so hurt, so pale. He reached out sideways and took Dr. Reynolds' hand as he walked in.
"Max?" Cam called out weakly, sounding desperate. "Maxy!" Max left the doctor's side in an instant, practically lifting off the ground to go to his lover's side. He put a hand on Cam's arm, just above where the IV drip was.
"I'm here, Eeyore," he tried to sound cheerful. "You look pretty good. They're gonna take real good care of you here," he said, practically repeating Ruth's words from earlier. "I called Mike. He's on the way."
"Max, I love you."
"I love you, too," Max said, tears leaking out of his eyes. "I'll be right here, Cam. I'll be right here."
"My little elf," Cam said, drifting. Max could feel his mind slowing down, going into shock.
"That's right. Your little elf. I'm right here, don't you leave me!" Max cried, taking one of Cam's hands and rubbing it against his own tear streaked cheek. "Don't you dare leave me all alone!"
"hehehe," Cam laughed weakly. "Now you know 'zactly how I love you," he said. "I don't want to be… without you."
"I'm here. Now and always."
"My little Elf." His hand went slack in Max's grip and Max felt Cameron's mind retract from the pain of his body, almost smiling as it glided away. "Hey!" Cameron croaked out, his voice breathy and weak.
"Hey, what?" Max said, as weakly as Cam had.
"Hey, I love……," Cam said, his voice trailing off. Max felt Cameron nearly slip completely away and he panicked, backing up.
One of the med techs moved forwards, a solid tone echoing through the hard, tiled walls of the trauma center. "Doctor, he's going into shock! No pulse!"
"Get the defib kit in here! Code Blue! Let's get him back, people!" the doctor said, striding forward. The medical team immediately began working on Cameron, and Max sort of backed up until his back hit up against a pair of unyielding legs. He looked up and felt Ruth's hand on his shoulder before he registered her face.
"Come along, now. Let's let the doctor's do what they must for your friend. I want to help you get cleaned up here."
She led Max over to a hospital bed, made him get up on it and lean back as she washed his wounds. The sounds of the other medical team working on Cam still carried across the emergency ward, and Max felt as though he were fully on autopilot. He just let things happen around him until he felt the exhaustion and the emotion and the pain well up and surround him, dragging him into the soft, dark embrace of sleep.
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