Adam and Charlotte left Jerry’s house, now standing outside near the road—his back to her.
“So… your dad. I kind of know a little based on what I learned in my investigation.” Charlotte sighed, walking around Adam to face him directly. “You up for telling me more?”
Adam did not answer directly, yet nodded slowly as he began to head back toward his house. Charlotte was still for a moment before swiftly catching up—her pace matching his.
“My dad, huh…? Well, he works for some company—I don’t even know what it’s called. He’s always gone—is rarely home. When he is, we barely say a word to each other.”
“Hmm… So you’ve never had a close relationship?” Charlotte rubbed the side of her neck anxiously.
Adam nodded. “Recently, ever since… well, earlier this year, it’s like he vanished. Money’s still sent to me, and the bills are paid, but…” He shook his head, cursing at himself.
“I think I get it. You don’t have to say anything else right now, that’s fine.” Charlotte patted Adam’s shoulder, causing him to flinch. “I’m sorry, should I have not…?”
“Oh, you’re fine. You hand’s cold as hell, though. Even with my shirt on, it’s like you placed an ice cube on me.”
“Right…” Charlotte looked down at her palm. “I’m a ghost… Listen, Adam. There’s something you need to know going forward.”
“When I need to sleep to recharge my energy… I need to really sleep. I’ve been doing a lot ever since yesterday—transforming into my true self twice, and fighting you. I’ll probably be completely out of it for… a day or two? At least that…”
Adam noticed Charlotte had already begun to get groggy—almost tripping on her own feet. “Well, I guess you can stay at my place and rest. You don’t have an actual place to go, right?”
“I… I usually fade away to rest. When I ‘wake up,’ I’m usually in the spot where I vanished. So… I often hide in the woods or something.”
“But you were sleeping like a normal human being earlier?”
“Yeah… I seemed to keep my form stable enough to remain in this world. Is it the World Mirror’s doing…? That was rhetorical—I know you wouldn’t know.”
“In any case, just stay with me. Like I said, my dad’s never there, so we shouldn’t have to worry about that. I doubt you’d want to sleep in his bed, and the couch sucks, so… “ Adam took a deep breath. “Listen, this is hard to say… I’m allowing you t-to use my bed.”
“…I know I lied in it earlier, but I sort of… passed out on the spot last night once I brought you home. Sharing a bed is—”
“No… I’m relinquishing m-my bed completely. It’s yours. I’ll… use the shitty couch, I guess…”
Charlotte stared at Adam in concern. “…This really is hard for you. It looks like you’re about to cry.”
“I’m already crying on the inside, don’t you worry.”
“But…” Charlotte stopped. Adam turned to her as her gaze lowered toward the ground. “Thank you… I…” She stuttered, growing much more bashful. “I-I-I’m sorry about attacking you… seriously.”
Adam waved the check she had given him in her face. “Don’t worry, apology accepted.”
Charlotte stomped her right foot hard, switching rapidly to an angry mood. “Is money really all it takes for you!? I did something inexcusable! I-I know it was to get your power out, but—”
“Relax,” Adam said bluntly. He looked around them—a cool summer breeze rustling the leaves of the trees next to them—the same trees that belonged to the forest they quarreled in, north of the town.
“I understand why you did what you did. I try to look deeper into the meaning of things, cause most of the world is too lazy to even try.”
Charlotte could only stare at Adam as the wind blew right through her. She looked down at her body—although mostly solid, she sometimes had things like this happen. Unable to feel its temperature, the gales left a peculiar feeling in her—one that could not be described to a living being.
“If you can understand an unorthodox being such as myself… then…” Charlotte sighed, walking right through Adam—spooking the hell out of him.
“H-Hey, careful!” Adam looked around frantically to make sure nobody had noticed what she had done. His teeth began to chatter while his eyes glowed for a brief moment.
“We’re fine, don’t worry,” Charlotte assured him. “Anyway, let’s get back. I’m exhausted.”
Later on that day, Adam had messaged Brandon to meet up with him. He was sitting at a booth inside a diner, known as Mona’s Quality Burgers. Being close to his house, Adam usually frequented the place. He shuffled through the songs that were listed on the tabletop jukebox—all of which were too old for his tastes.
Taking a sip of apple soda—gleefully grinning at the taste—Adam stared inside his wallet. After cashing the check Charlotte gave him, he could not believe how fat it had become. He had left the majority of the money at his house, yet he kept a few hundred requid on his person.
Adam noticed that Brandon had walked in. He was walking over to Adam’s table at a slow pace, seemingly exhausted.
“Oh, I forgot. You had practice today, didn’t you?”
Brandon sat opposite of Adam, head hitting the table. “Yeah, after my freaking dad kept me up half the night making me help him out with some car.” Brandon let out a tremendous sigh, echoing off the table. “Honestly, kicking that stupid black and white ball around is therapeutic.”
“Therapeutic, huh?” Adam paused. “Oh, wait! That reminds me, I should schedule another appointment with Jerry’s dad. Although… I gotta proceed carefully.”
“You’ve gotta frequent that place, don’t ya? Cause of your situation?” Brandon mumbled.
“Yeah… They won’t let me speak to an actual therapist, which is scummy, but at least it’s Thomas. He helps… I think?”
Adam took out his phone to check the date, only to be reminded that his screen was cracked.
“Dude, what happened to your phone!?” Brandon asked. Adam looked at him, nervously. He wanted to tell his friend what had happened the night before, yet he was waiting for an opportunity after they ate—a non-public location preferable.
“I, uh… dropped it. On the…” Adam looked to his side toward the floor. “On the floor!” He pointed at the red tiles that were shiny enough to see one’s own reflection.
“Did you drop it off a freaking skyscraper? I didn’t think that kind of phone you have would break that easily!”
“It was… a very powerful floor.” Adam put his damaged phone back in his pocket. “Anyway, I have to go get another one. Probably going to head to Nexus City, seeing as though no stores in town really sell them. Jerry mentioned you should probably get a new one, as well?”
“Right… I would love to.” Brandon sighed, leaning back in his seat. “Money’s not looking too hot at the moment.”
“Well, as your friend—” Adam pulled out his wallet, showing Brandon the cash inside. “I think we can both afford a nice one with this much.”
“Woah!” Brandon almost jumped into the ceiling. “Where did you get that much cash out of the blue!?”
“Well, you see…” Adam pondered what excuse he could say to Brandon for the time being. He figured out that, in a way, he could be truthful here. But more importantly, he could mess with Brandon.
“I got it from a girl I slept with last night.”
Brandon did not say a thing. His face was frozen, no ounce of emotion able to rise to the surface. Adam waited, slowly taking a sip of his soda. Several moments passed before words were finally able to escape from Brandon’s mouth.
“You. Tell. Me. All. The. Details. Now.”
Adam sat his glass down on the table. “Obviously, I was joking. Sort of. Eh, anyway—”
“Sort of!? What the hell is that supposed to mean!?”
Adam raised his hand in front of Brandon’s face, trying to get him to calm down. Brandon did, noticing that Adam’s expression grew serious.
“We can’t talk about it here, but… a lot happened last night. I went to Jerry’s earlier to talk to him about it a bit. And I want to tell you too, of course.”
Brandon let out a sigh. “Well, it’s absolutely out of character for you to do something like that in the first place. Now, something you went to Jerry to talk about… something with a girl… and money… hmm…” He was trying his best to connect the dots in his head, but there was no way he would be able to do it.
“Let’s go for a walk, Brandon. I’ll tell you about everything.”
Brandon could not help but feel nervous toward what Adam was going to say.
“…Y-You’re not part of a gang now, are you…?”
Adam’s glare—one that tended to appear when Brandon said stupid things—answered the question for him.
Next: Chapter 11
Previous: Chapter 9
SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE HEROES OF REQUIEM ON PATREON: