Nicholas stares at the words that snake down Luke’s arm. They look elegant in this lighting, not at all like Luke had done it himself in a dimly lit basement. Nicholas’ dimly lit basement.
“You coming or not?” Nicholas’ heartbeat falls out rhythm, then comes back faster than before. His feet suddenly feel weighted to the ground, and his stomach plummets as if he’s going down the first drop of a rollercoaster. Is it excitement? Fear? Curiosity? Disgust? His mind reels.
Nicholas thinks back to that surreal day. In his basement, middle of the summer. Anything seemed possible, the power of the entire universe within their grasp.
Look at what it had cost them.
Nicholas looks beyond Luke, at the sky and mountain and buildings and trees and houses and street lights and streets and people. He thinks about what “person” has come to mean to him. What his very personhood has come to be redefined as. He thinks about when it changed.
His basement was dusty, air hazier than ever before. The sunlight filtered through the six square windows was uncharacteristically dim. The room was impossibly hot, but it didn’t matter. Nicholas and Luke’s attention was held rapt by the purple light that had begun to paint the walls.
“Dude,” Luke breathed. Nicholas kept quiet, but shared wholly the excitement, amazement and triumph expressed in the word. A summer’s worth of work, and in this moment, they would know if it had been worth it.
Now, three months later, Nicholas wonders the same thing. The late nights and hidden scars. Secret celebrations, and louder defeats. The close-calls. The disappointments. He thinks about after that day. After he swore, and pledged, and committed. About how the world felt every bit as familiar as foreign about when the first Signs started showing. He thinks about how it electrified him that he had been the cause of something. Of how it felt to know that it was truly he and Luke against this world, and any other one that dared to come against them.
Nicholas nods his head, even though his stomach churns and his heart leaps, and his feet attempt to anchor him in place. “Of course I’m coming.”