All of Me /Us (FOR C.x | 2018)

secretsanta

#1

All of me /us

The silence in his solitude prison was broken by the sound of the electric safety doors opening. As by all means it was made sure he couldn`t hack into the system it was necessary to scan your eyes, index finger and say a certain safety keyword. Each day a new word, the system also intelligent enough to recognize the voices of those who were allowed to enter. It was the price he paid for unleashing a new virus on the city.

Due to the mercy of the Mall Rats and the pleading of his older brother he got the chance to make amends. After he had stopped the virus just in time, he had been taken into custody, getting to stay in the very hotel from which he had operated before. Ram and Jack had made sure that he had only the technical stuff necessary to help the city run.

Why anyone would ever trust Ram considering “save technology” was still a mystery to him, but maybe this was the 2nd chance business. He didnt care for a 2nd chance, he didnt know why he had stopped the virus in the end. Maybe because of the kids, maybe because of his brother. He was just happy he did it, because even if anyone would wonder, his life had far improved since the Technos. Now he spent his days sitting on monitors watching the city, leading electricity, working on systems for a general medical care system or a school system for everyone and such nearly fairytale dreams the Mall Rats had.

“Mega? Where are you?” the female voice echoed melodical through the lifeless place. “Up here as …” the door to his technical dome opened.

“…as always!” she sighed “Really? You`ve got a whole hotel at your leisure! You could reinstall the Spa and the pool…you could live pretty good here, you know?”

Shrugging his shoulders he tipped in the last codes to ensure today’s possible electricity was fairly divided between all tribes, before he turned towars her " No matter how often you try to tempt me Ellie, it isn`t …" he stopped midsentence surprised by the blonde Mall rat’s appearance. Dressed in red and green, her long hair in curls with silvery pearls braided in some of them, her eyes laid with white/green glittery eyeshadow, her full lips a powerful red and little silver stars painted skillfull around her right temple she looked just like a fairy. A christmas fairy.

Open mouthed he stared at her, making her look defensive “What? Got dirt on my nose?”

Head shaking, he tried to regain control about the sudden feeling that his insides were doing the conga. “No…erm…you just…well…are you applying for the job of Santa’s elf or what?”

Grinning she sat down a basket on the little table, the only space in his favorite room that was not littered with books, lists of codes and keywords ad notes to all kind of technical businesses. “Its the first time since all the adults died that we celebrate Christmas and Im going to make the most of it!”

Looking curious he watched as she lifted a plate full of cookies from the basket. He inhaled the delicious smell that usually came with meals. Trudy could cook. Like really cook. Like “give her 5 stars at michellin” cook. One of the many improvements of his life. Regular meals cooked by Trudy. “Slade told us you used to love macaroons, so Trudy put in some extras of her cocos and nut macaroons. And she made cinnamon stars! Those are…”

Already having succumbed to the smell Mega had stuffed one in his mouth and was chewing it with an almost religious look. Ellie giggled at his greedy face " I take it you like them. Trudy will be delighted!"

“They are superb, like everything dear Trudy produces. She is a magician!”

His words were earnest and spoken without any sarcasm. Mega never underestimated others achievements, he honoured if people were really masters in something - no matter what. It was one of the things that made Ellie like him. But he also could make you feel as stupid as a piece of dry rotten bread. Because of that they had decided that only most self confident and strong minded people should be working alongside him and getting the acess to his place. Slade of course could visit his brother anytime. Jay, Amber, Jack and her were the ones with acess and they were the ones who could take others with them. Often they took Ram with them, because he was one of the few really understanding the things Mega worked on besides Jack.

“Isnt Jack coming today? Ive got to show him something! The idea he gave me yesterday was ruddy brilliant I fear…” he asked , hoping Ellie wouldn`t notice how eager he was to speak to her boyfriend. It was worrying him, himself, as he could not stop thinking of the joy and pride it would bring to Jack that his idea would do the trick. He took up the kettle full of Trudys onion soup out of the basket and walked over to his little kitchen pantry, where he filled a bowl with the soup and put it in his microwave.

“Oh yes he is! But Slade and him are first repairing the electrical line on the Roosters building. They are complaining on it being itchy since a fortnight!”

“Really? The Roosters?” forgetting his soup he looked down on his monitoring board, tipping in the coordinates of the camera that was placed right on the corner of the named tribes headquarter. “Ah there they are…but…but what are they doing?” he could not contain a stain of disbelief and shock to his voice.

Ellie jumped to his side and shrieked. Jack abd Slade were up high and a ladder was lying beaneath. It obviousily had fallen down; members of the Roosters standing there and laughing like they were watching some comedy entertainment programm. Without thinking, Mega grabbed for his microphone, “Central supply station calling…youre being watched Roosters and if you pieces of scumbags dont save those guys asap I `m going to make sure that being supplied with hot water is the last on your list of worries!”

Reculantly, but also looking around worried the Roosters set to help the two Mall Rats and Ellie breathed deeply as Jack was back on firm ground. She hugged Mega “Thank you Mega, thanks a million!”

“You`re welcome…” he said indifferent, still staring on the monitor. His heart was racing. Was it because his brother had been in danger? Because he had been able to demonstrate his skills and warn people that he was still in charge somehow? Or because he had become really fond of Jack, who with his curiosity and fast thinking mind had become someone Mega called “bearable” (in face of others , to himself he knew that Jack was even more…a friend, maybe?)

Feeling Ellie’s warm cheek still on his, recognizing the twists his heart did, he got the impression that his reaction might have still more complicated reasons…

“Im telling you that Mega guy is a freak! Hes stalking every one of us!” The leader of the Roosters was striding up and down the mall’s center, not caring that his voice echoed through the whole building.

“Well you will forgive that in this case I can`t be worried about it! He saved Jack’s life!” Amber said, her arms tightly crossed.

“Oh come off it…guys were having fun…they wouldn`t have let anything happen to your precious little genius!”

“Dont you talk in that tone in my home and not about any of the members of my tribe!" she said warningly. "We agreed in the city contract that each tribe is worth the same, each getting the same supplies and each having the same duties! Im not seeing your tribe fullfilling that by calling our guys for help with an electrical line and then having “FUN” while they are hanging from the roof! And Mega is supposed to watch the city through the cameras outside on the streets. We all agreed on this safety measure!”

“But he is not supposed to threaten people with withdrawing their supplies or even worse! It`s not on him to decide for punishment or any other public matter, come to it! He has no right…”

" No right to help? No right to save lifes if possible? Not even when his own brother needs him? Isnt his whole captivity based on him showing that he changed? That he cares and protects, if possible? That he is worth something to our society? I was there, Ive seen him. He reacted on pure instinct, to protect Slade and Jack! HOW DARE YOU EVEN COME HERE BLAMING AMBER? It was your guys doing the crime!" Ellie screamed furiously just entering from the main entrance.
“As I already declared…”

“ENOUGH!!!” a clipping voice sounded up from the gallery of the malls stairs. A woman dressed in a tight red and black leather corseted catsuit; long braids swinging behind her came into sight. Leaning her hands on the banister, she stared down on the Rooster “Youve come here. Youve complained. Youve been heard. As much as we accept anyones worries, rest assured that Mega is under our control. We have strict measures concerning him. Its in our duty which we take serious. Im sure you dont want to say you dont trust us? The Mall Rats? The ones who saved every freaking ass in the city for a millin times?" Her eyes looked cold and waiting for a him to dare to contradict her "Im not hearing Amber or for fact Jack and Slade complaining like a baby and whining for venegance, even if the guys surely have the right to ask for punishment of your tribe members!” raising her left eyebrow she called “Jack? Slade? Do you want to put an official accuse against the Roosters?”

Both guys , looking perfectly at ease, came strolling from the mall’s cafe, each holding a steaming cup of coffee. “What? Why would we do that? Im sure it was a one time mistake and with Mega’s video there isnt need for an official accuse because those videos show exactly what happenend. Pure fact. But if you ask if we want to have them punished…” Jack blew on his coffee sharing a look with Slade “…we dont. We dont care for some poor , sad birds who chicken out as soon as they have to stand in for their own actions!”

Ebony’s lips twichted as did Amber’s, the leader of the Roosters glared at them, swallowing at the obvious bait to his tribe’s name. Without another word he turned around and left the mall.

As soon as he was gone, laughter errupted from the whole tribe “That was brilliant, Jack!” Lex said, clapping a hand over the friend’s shoulder “Absolutely!”

Slade roared " chicken out…genius!"

“That`s our boy!” Jay laughed, ruffling Jack’s hair

“Hey…hey keep your fingers to youself, you`ve been eating Trudy’s treats!” Jack shook his red hairedd head stroking out non excisting crumbles with his hands.

Ellie stormed up the stairs, flung her arms around him “Youre well...Oh my god, youre well! It looked so terrible!” she breathed and kissed him fiercely

“Go get a room!” Lex joked good heartened as they broke off, Jack looking like he`d been hit with a stick over his head, but extremely pleased all the same.

“Me okay…” he mumbled, stroking her cheeks gently.

Sighing theatrical, Ebony threw her hands up “Yeah go laughing about some feeble joke…” but she grinned, which took the edge out of her words.

“Thanks Ebony, you really got our backs there.” Amber said from beside her.

With raised eyebrows the ex Loco queen looked at the Mall Rat leader “What? That was fun. Anytime you need someone kicking a whiner’s ass…I`m your girl!” With wondering looks following her she walked into the cafe “Any chance you left some cookies?”

Jay laid an arm around Amber’s shoulders “She`s acting weird…”

" Must be the Christmas spirit…" She turned towards Ellie, “How`s Mega? That was really fast thinking he did there. By speaking over the official mic line, he made sure we were alerted and Lex was there before any worse could happen!”

The other girl nodded. “Yes I`ve seen. Mega is okay, a bit surprised of himself if you ask me. He told me he acted without thinking, what has to be a first for him! He said to me I shall say sorry to you!”

“SORRY?! What should he be sorry for?” Ram made an impatient noise. “Dear me! Il never understand how you have been leading that long...ts...Its obvious! Mega knows that his announcement will bring more then one “worried” tribe leader here…”

“Oh well that was just the leader of the Roosters, who was always a whiner, they all are to be honest.”

“I know, but mark my words…Mega knows how society functions. Now he as the outsider who only lives due to his use of that society , but isnt a real part of it, has made a statement judging the behavior of real members of that society..." As if Rams words had been a keyword there was a ringing outside the malls main entrance. Jay went looking on the little monitor which showed the entrance "Oh my...seems youre right Ram!”

The former leader of the Technos rolled his eyes “Well THAT`s news to me!” and went back to his working room.

“Oh really…whats up with these people?” Amber sighed angrily " They wet themselves because Mega can SEE them, but it`s perfectly okay if some morons go try killing members of our tribe?" she hissed , giving a sign to her boyfriend to open up the entrance “EBONY? You better get here. NOW!”

Chewing on a piece of Weihnachtsstollen Ebony joined her whispering “We should just give some of those treats to the people…that`s absolut delicious!”

Again Amber looked wondering at the old rival. It wasn`t normal for Ebony to speak out compliments and caring for any of the others to be true. But since a while she only used BITCH MODE on outsiders. Not that anyone complained about that.

“Of course…the Demon Dogs, the Mosquitos with their new leader, the new formated Tribe Circus…all those jolly good friends of ours” she stated licking off some sugars from her fingertips “Watch me!” she said with wink and went down the stairs, arms outstretched in a clearly welcoming gesture “Welcome to our splendid home, do you like our decorations?” Indeed the mall looked like a Christmas wonderland with Mistletoes, candy canes and christmas baubles. Little colourful packages were laying and hanging everywhere, icing spray letting everything seem to be frosted, soft cotton wool imitating freshly fallen snow.

“Thats your business. Were here for more pressing matters then taste in decoration” The newly elected leader of the Mosquitos said, wrinkling her nose at a very extraordinary christmas bauble, that Brday had decorated with dry noodles and painted then in all colours of the rainbow.

“Is that so?”

“Yes it is! Were here because of what happened. That guy cant spy on us and speak out threats!”

“But people can watch out tribe members being hurt for purpose or fun?” Ellie snapped. Before either Amber or Ebony could stop her, she went in front of all of them, hands on her hips. Jack who just had ran out on the stairs again couldnt blame that the people moved a few steps back, as Ellie looked so remarkable like her older sister when she was a fury. "Spare your crap! There were people in danger and Mega helped them! By giving out his so calledthreat, he made sure those excuses for a human being helped both guys right in time. And by the by...would any of you complain it would have been members of your tribes saved by him? Or wouldnt you complain about the behavior of the Roosters, screaming for punishment?"

Some of them adverted her eyes, shuffling their feet embarassed that Ellie had found a point. “Are you telling us it was an empty threat?”

With a derisive laugh Ellie looked at Amber and Ebony "Do you hear that? What else? Of course it was! Mega is under our watch 24hrs a day by almost 50 cameras, he has no access to any technic without Jack knowing. He just wanted to help…after all…Slade is his brother!”

“And he wasn`t that wrong, if something would have happenend to out tribe members there would have been punishment. And the most severe there is, cutting away the supplies and privileges of the offending tribe.” Ebony spoke up, her voice icy and strict. Away was her welcoming warmth and her smile, replaced by her usual superior look.

" So…urm…" the leader of the Mosquitos had lost her ground of argument “…yeah…urm…well thats ...thats quite right, of course…and it`s really generous of you—you arent punishing the Roosters”

“See it as a one time Christmas gift!” showing to the door Ebony made clear that the talk was over “And now if there isn`t anything else…???”

They shook their heads “No, no…yes…erm…good day to you!” the intruders left the mall, no one in the mood to start a fight for real.

All three women sighed deeply “Sorry for interrupting, Ebony!”

“No way, you`re good with making our enemies feel stupid and guilty. Alice would have been proud!”

“Those people aren`t our enemies, Ebony!”

Amber said exparated “Yeah, how would you call them then? Friends of family?” We should get out a statement about Mega’s postion, making clear that we have him under watch or next time we might have trouble convincing people" turning round Ebony made clear for the entrance

“Im going out...dont wait for me darlings!”

“Dont go alone just now!" Jay called after her "Wanna join me sweetheart? Guess your girl wont like that!” laughing she vanished.

Amber shrugged her shoulders at him “Well…she will never be our best pal.”

“We take her as we get her…” the pair walked away to watch after Amber’s son.

Jack came close to Ellie, hugging her from behind “That was damn sexy…you being all bitch with those people…you know?” he breathed , kissing her neck and finally biting softly in her ear.

“Hmmm…wanna see some more bitch?” she asked pulling him already away to their room…

Staring into the night’s sky, Mega laid on his bed. He had moved the bed right under the window, so that he could look outside if he laid on it. Having always been a bad sleeper, he liked to watch the stars while he let his endless thoughts drift. It had been an eventful day on which end he had a visit of Amber and Jay, telling him they were planning to make an official statement considering his position and future in the city’s society.

Future. Did he really have one? Die he really need one? The Technos had meant future to him once, but now he realized it was his fear and helplessness that had brought him there. Was there really a future to someone like him?Wouldn’t people ever doubt him? It sounded nice to get maybe chances of leaving the building though, even with a guard. People might take him for a nerd, but he was trainend in fighting like every other Techno had been, so he wasnt afraid of attacks. Jay of course hadnt forgotten his skill and made clear that whoever would walk with him, would carry a laser tag. He`d shaken his head then, telling them it would not do to give people the oppurtunity to steal a dangerous wepon and that it might be better if Jack and Ram created some kind of electronic Fußfessel.

With that they would be able to find him anywhere and everyone would always know where he was. Both had said they would discuss the matter with Ram and Jack. He would be able to go with Jack then, when he went for one of his missions to the old fabrics, instead of comunicating over a head set. They might be able to achieve something for real then. Jack had the vision to use solar energy and such and Mega was ready to give it a try. Why not using clean energy? The world population had declined drastically due to the virus and its after effects on humanity. Earth had time to breath. In a few years many animal populations would be back to normal. It was their duty to make the best of the world.

“DAMN! The guy really got to me!” he cursed, pulling a pillow over his head. The constant talk about having responsibility because they understood more of tehcnology and its uses...you couldnt listen to it and not agree on some point. But responsibility made life complicated and set borders. Being caged in a hotel, okay; being kind of prisoner, so what? But setting borders to his mind, to his imagination? Sighing he put away the pillow. He almost could hear Ellie telling him that it weren`t borders to his imagination but to his actions.

Those two really had achieved something by making think about himself and his actions. He longed for their visits everyday and was dissapointed if they didnt come. They made him forget his situation, taking him for real and listen to his suggestions. Even if they more then often reprimanded him for having ideas like making people do things like garbage control through a little mind control. They didnt think of him as just a useful tool, but as a human being whose opinions were worth like any others. Slowly his eyes felt close as he finally found some of his so much needed sleep.

@C.x


#2

The sun had barely risen as Jack entered the hotel. To his surprise Mega’s control room was empty, but then he heard the sound of the shower. He walked over to the coffee maker that Mega had restored so lovingly. Soon the fragrance of roasted coffee beans filled the air and Jack sniffed deeply. This was pure luxury and he enjoyed it immensely.

“Good morning coffee junky!” Mega’s amused voice sounded from the doorframe. He was leaning there sideways, dressed in an army styled black-grey cargo trouser and a gray shirt captured. “The difference between stupidity and genius is, that genius has its limits!"

“You know this saying that people who live in glass houses…” Jack smirked and put two big cups under the coffee streamers “I am no junky…I am a gourmet!”

the other guy said “if you say so…nice shirt by the way! Einstein?!”

“Hmmm…thought people need a reminder of their own disadvantages instead of being afraid of my brain!”

“Shame no one sees you then!”

“I am not going to force my wonderful presence on worthless eyes…”

Mega said grabbing one of the cups “I am honoured then? Worthy?”

“Hmmm” Jack watched Mega take the first sip and was again amazed how coffee worked on Mega, his eyes began to shine and he relaxed. He looked different without his Techno uniform and his longer hair. It all tumbled in very little curls over his head and his resemblence to his brother was obvious. He looked quite good. Handsome even. Head shaking at his weird thoughts Jack put an amount of sugar in his cup.

“Woaaa…I know you like it sweet…but that…”

“Shut up!” Taking a deep sip Jack sit down, letting go of every strenght suddenly.

“Hey what`s up?” suddenly worried Mega kneeled down in front of the Mall Rat guy and studied his face. He looked troubled.

“I don`t know…nerves?”

“Nerves? Still because of yesterday? Jack! I saved you…I would always save you! Noone is going to fool around with you! Get a grip!”

Jack stared at him open mouthed. Had Mega really said what he said? Had he even registered what he said? How it sounded?

“It´s nothing to do with that…” (and all to do with you…he finished in his mind ) “Oh why I am talking to you about it? Feelings are an useless distraction to you and your superior mind, or?” He didn`t know why he said it, why he spoke so mean, but he could see that he had gone too far.

Mega’s eyes darkened and he looked away, surely not wanting to see the other that he was hurt “Yeah that`s right. Feelings are for the weak and me and my superior mind are just planning to take over the world…from a hotel…obvious…”

“Don`t throw a drama!”

"Drama? Me? Who just sacked into himself like a little whiner? If you got a problem, be a man and spit it out!"Anger cursed through Mega and he didn`t even understand what made him so angry, but seeing Jack distressed, not at all his usual brainy funny self pulled on his heart and made him want to act. To help. Actually help Jack. Somehow.

There was silence between them, long and pronounced. Each studying the other careful. Finaly before he did something he could regret Mega sat turned to the pc to work on the medical scans they were planning to enable them to find diseases in the society. Jack watched him amazed that he was able to work even as it was obvious that he was fuming. He himself couldn`t think straight if he was mad. Mega was different. He could somehow seperate his feelings from his work. He admired the fastness with that the long fingers moved elegantly over the tastature and marvelled that Mega looked like a pianist composing some wonderful piece of art.

“Mega?” he said tentivately. Of course he was ignored “Mega? Please?! Im sorry! Im just stressed out…by…erm…its stupid really...as...well you would surely say its stupid. i don`t want to bother you!”

“How can you say that?” Mega said still tipping and looking on the pc “Why do you think you understand me and my feelings that good that you know what I would call stupid? You all are talking about giving me a second chance, establish me back into society, but still you act like I am a robot or some kind of alien that doesnt understand emotions!" Suddenly he flared up and jumped to his feet "I have feelings okay? I am scared I could lose my brother again just as we started a new relation...I am scared I might lose the only humans I ever considered firends ...Ellie was so scared, that touched me even more! Afterwards I was worried Amber might get into trouble due to my act. I dont might seem like it, but I like Brady and little Bray and harming their mothers…giving them the same that we all went through…it`s hell to me! So even if I am a duty to you…just someone you have to work with…” words left him.

Without really knowing how it happened, Jack found himself embracing the other guy. At first Mega stiffed, but then he embraced him too. It was a tight, almost hard embrace filled with the long carefully burried emotions of a lost boy. Jack understood. Mega was more and more interested in the city and his habitants, he asked questions about each and everyone constantly and he often had shown worries for especially Mall Rat members. He even had started the long and painful search of the lost ones. “I shouldnt have said this...its okay to care Mega! Its no weakness! he whispered "Youre even stronger if you care, your life gets a purpose if you live with your emotions!”

“I knew you would say that!” Mega said stepping back.

“Yes aren`t you a sweet little know it all?”

“Me? Little and sweet?” a grin formed on Mega’s lips as it did on Jacks. He couldn`t pace it. But he liked the guy. Somehow.

As Ellie arrived some hours later she found both of them in a discussion “Im telling you people wont like an automatic health scan every other week!” her boyfriend argued “But how else are we supposed to keep track of illness spreading? The children born since the virus have never been vaccinated of all those old illnesses like we older ones have been in our childhood! Considering that hygienic standards have grown low after the virus it`s due that diseases like measels start to break out for real!”

“You sound like Ram!”

“Well Ram got some brain to think with!”

“Are you telling me I am not using my brain?”

“Maybe I am!”

Glaring at each other both ignored Ellie. She was used to that by now, after the first week of their new working arrangement shed found both in a full speed discussion about artificial intelligence that had lasted hours. In the end both had agreed to be different opions and that was the start of what she secretely called "BRAIN WARS". More then often something discussable came along in their mission to bring up a functional system for the city and the two geniuses would discuss them for sure. Jack took a course of more sensible or ethical line while Mega often just saw progress in something. He ignored or wasnt aware of the responsibility it took to set certain technical improvements on humans.

As she watched them now, she again had the feeling to watch two sides of the same man. Jack was bright and light, caring and responsible, while Mega was also bright, but darker, didn`t ask the moral duty of every action and just was for using always the most efficient way without sparing a thought what consequences on peoples life it had. They had the kind of same brain to find the best way, they worked smoothly with each other, filling in the gaps of the other. Even in their outer appearance they were different - Jack with his red hair styled in soft spikes, light skin and mostly dressed expressive colours; Mega with his short dark wavy curls, darker skin and mostly dark and practical clothes - but still somehow weirdly the same. Mega being taller they both were of more fragil and lean built, not being the type for much muscles.

Seeing them both discussing, trying to make the other agree with their own opinion and each being more then adamant to be right…well she could not deny it was exciting. Sexy, even. She always had liked when Jack had shown his superior smartness and had gotten the better of someone because of his brain. But then she had never seen him in company of someone equally smart and inventive. He`d always been the Mall Rat genius. But Mega was bright and smart and cunning. To see her boyfriend stand up to him made her proud and she also admired Mega having the possibility to make Jack think about such amazing things. She suddenly noticed that their voices had died out and both were staring at her.

“Everything okay darling? You look kind of funny!" Embarassed she got up and hurried to him “Oh I was just thinking…” kissing him softly she ignored her thoughts of how it would feel to kiss the more darker genius.

“I`ve got cookies and Christmas cake…” she said then non chalant , making both guys interested.

“Can I have some?” they asked to the same time, making her laugh. Mega smiled at the sound of Ellies laughter and didn`t realize that Jack watched him curious.

Later that day after their return to the mall Jack took a long shower replaying Mega’s words to him and Mega’s looks at Ellie. And Ellies joking with Mega. The whole day had been filled with kind of electricity. As he went to their room afterwards he found Ellie reading in a book. It was one Mega had fashioned for her out of the data the Technos had used to fashion up Paradise and such virtual realities. “What is it this time? Fairy tales?” he asked remembering last time she had greek myths. “The lord of the ring!”

“What? The lord of the rings…like the lord of the rings movies…?”

“Jack! You know it was a book…I know you do! Dont try to fool me! The movies were later...and yes its the real book. Mega has saved so many literature! Even Harry Potter! Shakespeare! The Bronte sisters! Goethe! Poe! Hes saved so much on his sticks…he`s a hero, I am telling you!”

“Your hero, you mean to say?” there was no sharpness in his voice. It was more a statement “You like him!”

Blushing a bit “Well you do too, don`t you?”

“Hmmm…yeah…yeah I do…pretty much to be true…” he was on the tip to tell her. To tell her how irritated he was about his feelings but she was faster.

“Isn`t it good to have an equal to talk to?”

“Equal? Mega and me are nothing like the same league …I couldn`t do what he has done…”

“You could have Jack! Youve got the brain for it. You just had a way better start into the new world. You havent met a crazy guy like Ram, but sensible persons like…”

“Lex?” he asked, grinning she stroked his cheek." Yes even Lex, but I was talking about Amber, Bray…people who showed you that they would be there for you. That you are worthy even when not all your ideas worked directly. And you had Dal…Mega had been left alone…"

“Dal…yeah…without him I would have crakced under the pressure of building a water system…”

“Isn`t it a bit…well…maybe…Mega can become a Dal to you? And you to him?”

“Did you realize that Dal liked you a lot aswell back in the days? We kind of were rivals for your affection…nearly cost our friendship…”

“Why do you say that now?”

“Don`t know, maybe I am having a Déjà-vu ?”

“Do you think…that Mega likes me? That`s ridiculous!”

“It isnt...you just dont notice how he looks at you. You don`t want to see it maybe”

“Jack he more then often has only eyes and ears for you and ignores me…you both do when you are in the full process! And well even if he does…I don`t…”

“I noticed how you sometimes look at him. I can understand that he attracts you…a bit of bad boy…I understand that he is attracted to you, how couldnt I loving you the way I do? But Ellie...what I am trying to say is....were really young and been together years now…if you…need something else…”

“Don`t you say that! HOW DARE YOU? Are you telling me I should take my chances with another man? Did you loose your mind?”

“No,no…don`t get me wrong I more meant…I just thought…Luke…”

“LUKE?” crudely she seized him up " I was confused in that time, scared. How can you bring that up now? After all weve been through youre thinking that I might want some adventure with a BAD BOY? I can`t believe you! OUT!!!" pushing a blanket and pillow on him, she pushed him out of the room, slamming the door in his face.

Salene looked up surprised from the table she was sitting on and finishing some Christmas cards as she slumped into the room they used as a living room since a while. They had furnished it with different sized tables, to work and play games on or to do some art; completed with nice chairs and cushions and others furniture you could chill out on. Even Bray’s old hammock was placed in a corner, being the favorite place of his little niece and son. They often sat in it, listening to someone read to them.

“Jack…what…? Oh…!” Tacking in the blanket and the pillow in his arms she sighed symphatically “Christmas is poison to couples! May and me had a little fight over stupid presents yesterday…very dramatic…but now were fine again. Its just that everyone wants everything kind of prefect like it ever was perfect!” she grinned “I remember my mother nearly having a heartattack each Christmas because something went wrong again…”

Letting himself fall onto one of the couches and burying his face in his hands he mumbled “We didnt really fight. Im just acting the idiot. The role of my life. As usual!”

Sitting down next to him, she touched his shoulder “Nah…don`t say that!”

“Well it`s always us guys being the idiot or?”

“Well to be fair: NO YOURE NOT! Being in a girl-girl relation I can absolutely ensure you: were all idiots from time to time! What have you done making Ellie throw you out?”

Unsure he looked at her. The red haired Mall Rat girl always had been the big carer in his tribe. Been there for everyone. And was a good secret keeper, so he decided to trust her. After he had told her about their discussion Salene shook her head.

“Jack! What the hell were you thinking? What for heavens sake made you say such things? Are you really doubting her feelings?”

“No…yeah…maybe…maybe I`m doubting my own feelings?” he answered in a small voice. Stunned she looked at him.

“Say that again please?! Your own…? Is there another girl on your mind?”

“No need for that accusing tone. No there isn`t another girl on my mind…”

“Then I don`t get your problem…”

Helpless he buried his face again “Its ...its him okay?”

“H-him? You mean…a man…a …MEGA?! What? How…since…W-H-A-T?! H-O-W do you mean that?!”

“For a girl in a girl- girl relation you`re a bit slow, or? Yeah I brought the fucking problem up because of him maybe being interested in Ellie because…well…it scares me of course…but I also can understand him that he likes her…AND HER THAT SHE IS ATTRACTED BY HIM! Do you understand? Why can I understand that Ellie likes him? Maybe wants him? How can I…I…”

“Jack…”

“How did you feel it?” he burst out nearly knocking her out as he jumped to his feet and started to pace the room.

"Well…it…we just happened…“us” just happened. Of course it was all a bit confusing …I have always been attracted to men and May too…but it just was, it IS right! Do you…did you ever feel attracted to a guy before?

" No…I mean of course I noticed that guys were attractive…how couldnt I, growing up surrounded by girls dreams like Bray, Lex, Jay...Slade. Sal I dont even know what I feel. It`s not like I dream to kiss him…but well…the thought of Ellie kissing him…of them…doing…erm…things…" he turned red and Salene could almost feel the heat his face was giving out. “It gets to me…in an absolute postive way. I have always been jealous! But not now…how can…”

"Hmmm…but you do like him? "

“Its ...yes...today we were discussing again...I didnt even notice Ellie came in. Hes so consuming if hes in a full flow discussion. He just pulls me in…even if I am of different opinion then him, even fighting with him…its so...I dont have words for it! And I cant stop watching when he works. His hands on the tastature...its pure virtousity! I noticed that watching Ellie laugh makes him smile like it makes me smile, it didnt make me mad. It made me happy somehow. How can I feel that way? It crossed my mind how I might feel if he touched her with his elegant fingers...moves about her body like on the tastature...how Id feel if they kiss…and it just…well…” He looked positive like a tomato now.

“You liked the idea?”

“I am sick!” he groaned hiding his face again.

“NO YOURE NOT! Sexuality is complicacted. Its not black and white. Even the straightest person might get aroused seing a same sex pair sharing a very passionate kiss. Its all about the passion and the way the people act towards each other. More then their gender, attractiveness or whatever. Youre a bright young human and maybe Ellie is your body and soul stimulance, but Mega is your mind and brain stimulance. Maybe you just need more than Ellie. Because I know you love each other, its obvious. But maybe you both…well…who decides whats normal? Hmm? You can absolutely like a woman and a man!”

“But it`s not natural!”

“Jack! Dont be stupid...natural? Dont forget whom youre talking too. Its all about emotions, feelings…not natural, I TTELL YOU!”

“But…”

“Look I am not saying go all the way and try a hot night with both of them. But be honest with Ellie, tell her about your confusion. Together you will find a solution. Maybe you can work out your feelings together!”

“She`ll hate me!”

“No. No dummy she loves you! She might be even understand some of your confusion as she must have had similiar feelings back in the time with Luke…being in love with you, missing you, worrying you but still also loving him.”

“Hmmm…”

“And dont you think she rather wants to know whats going on in this complicated brain of yours and help you? A relation isnt always sunshine and fairytale, its hard work!”

“Gmmm…you think?”

“Yeah I do Mr Superbrain and now go and get things working!" with a strong push she sent him his way, wondering what might come out of this story.


#3

He knocked timidly onto their door “Ellie? Please? Open up and let`s talk”

“GO AWAY!”

“No I wont! Im staying here on the threshold all night if I have to!”

With a sigh she opened the door. “You`ve got 5 minutes!”

In a swift he was inside, pushed the door close and pressed her against it, kissing her hard and demanding. Softly moaning she put her hands through his hair and the kiss changed into being soft, tender and slow. Breathless she stared at him as he moved his lips away from hers, a wicked grin on his lips he whispered “I might need some more minutes!”

“Hmmm…might give you 10…” As his lips nibbled gently on her ear she stuttered “Thats unfair Jack. You know I cant last long if you do that…Jack! STOP IT!” with every strength she could muster she pushed him away from her “You can`t accuse me of wanting another man…and then come and kiss me till I loose myself. NO WAY!”

Grabbing her hands he sighed “I`m sorry…” seeing her raised left eyebrow at this words he hurried on “Not for the kiss…I absolutely longed for that! Still do! Might repeat it…” he stared at her and turned away “Please get changed! If you wear this dress all I can think of is you and me in our bed till morning and longer if possible!”

Glancing down at herself she noticed she wore his favorite black night gown. Pulling on a sweater over it, she sat down on the bed and pulled him to her side “Youre cute if you want me" she whispered in his ear and kissed him softly on the cheek "And now tell me, whats up for real? Dont get me wrong ...this kiss knocked me off my feet but it was different. You kissed me just as you havent got the chance for weeks…”

“I know…I was ready to talk…but seeing you…there is such a longing inside me…”

"Jack…you can be with me whenever you want…we are together more then most couples I know! "

He had to smile about her indignation “Sweetheart…I…” he moved closer to her and touched her cheek tenderly “…there is a yearning inside of me that I dont understand myself. Today it reached the melting point and made me an insensitive bastard! I shouldnt have brought up Luke that way…”

“No you shouldn`t!”

“…but I didnt want to accuse you...its not that I blame you for liking Mega…I…it`s more that…” taking a deep breath he spit it out " …the thought of you and him…arouses me…"

“You…I…Him…what?!”

“Oh Ellie please dont hate me...dont! I dont know whats wrong with me…I love you…I absolutely do…I love you as a man can love a woman and more…but there is something new in me…that calculates about…well…”

“Do you have erotic fantasies of Mega with me? With us?” she whispered kind of shocked.

With big eyes he goggled at her “Yes…why…wait…you too?”

Nodding shyly she looked down " Sometimes it pops into my mind how he might kiss…how he might feel…how you might watch us…join us…even… "

“Do you think…he has done something with our brains?”

Her head jerked high “No Jack!No! Never! Its...well...when I watch you both...its like I watch two Jacks, a dark one and my cute light one...youre the same but still so different…”

Hugging her he mumbled "Should we talk to him? "

“What do you want to say to him? Hey Mega you confuse us? Seems like we both want to have sex with you?”

“I don`t want to have…I well…”

“Jack…did you ever like a guy that way before?”

“Never!”

“Then it`s him…there is something in him that pulls both of us to him…”

“Should we stop working with him?” his heart broke at the very thought and he was facilitated as she shook her head.

“No but maybe you should speak to him alone tomorrow. Find out how far your feelings go …”

“But Ellie…”

“Jack…you arent gay...believe me...Id knew if you are!” she giggled “But maybe…don`t know…”

“And you? Shouldn`t you talk to him aswell?”

“Well I am a woman and that I sometimes find another man attractive isn`t that out of order. Is it? I bet you sometimes imagine yourself with another girl aswell…”

Blushing a bit he grinned “Urm…”

“You see? That`s quite normal…but that another guy suddenly has such an impact on you…you have to work that out…”

“And if…if…something happens?”

“Well…” grabbing his shirt and pulling him close “Maybe you two call me?”

Her lips wandered along his neck and he closed his eyes “A threesome?”

“Maybe?!”

His hands wandered under her sweater and over the thin cloth of her nightgown “You want to have us both? To the same time?”

Sitting down across his lap she tossed her long hair back " Are you saying a decent girl doesn`t do things like that?"

Pulling up her sweater and starting to kiss her collarbone he mumbled “Pfff…who wants a decent girl?”

As his lips wandered deeper and deeper her sensitive cleavage she forgot about any hesitancy, just enjoying the passion of them both together.


#4

After another nearly sleepless night, Mega sat yawning on the windowsill of the big window in his working centre. Outside, the early sunlight dipped everything into a soft red-golden light. Leaning his head onto the window he imagined how the air smelled with this soft touch of sea-air always recognizable in the city. The light breeze that was bound to be there, as he could see some trees gently flowing in it. The feeling of the sun’s warmth on his skin. He really hoped that he was allowed out in a few days. It would be his Christmas gift. Maybe Ellie and Jack would like to go for a walk on the beach with him? The ocean always made his mind flow. Inspired him. He could do with inspiration as the stupid medical scan system wouldn`t work as he wanted too.

He sighed. If he was completely honest, he liked the idea of them three going to the beach a bit too much. The thoughts that sometimes crossed his mind…" I am caged up too long!" he told himself sternly, not allowing his thoughts to drift again into the deeps of this night.

The alarm door sound let him look up and he couldn`t help, but a smile rouse on his face as Jack entered.

“Good morning…your delivery service…fresh scones, muffins and sliders…Trudy is going out of her way in the mall’s kitchen!”

The smile on Megas face only increased by that words “Good! Im starving! Youve got to tell Amber someone needs to stock up my supplies…I can`t even make myself a sandwich with only one egg in my refrigerator!”

“Whoooaaaa…wait…why you didnt tell us yesterday...why...Mega! Seriously! Youre working like mad in here…you havent been out in weeks....you can´t do that! You need to fill in the supplies list regulary so Trudy packs the right things! Its her business!”

“Come down Jack! I had it filled in the day before yesterday…but well…I found it this morning as I made my coffee…it slipped between our calculations!” Mega put on some butter and marmelade Trudy had packed on one of the still warm scones “Hmmm…that`s pure heaven! You waited till they are from the oven?”

“Yep…timed my departure exactly to get some of those warm to you…”

“I love you Jack…honestly!” he said busy buttering a second piece.

Jack swallowed. Of course people said such things offhand sometimes, mostly when they had been waiting for something, but it felt weird. In a good way. What was weird again. He moved to the coffee maker and put a cup under it, as he moved back to the table on which Mega sat, his coffee in his hands Mega was already eating his third scone “Really hungry hmm?” Jack asked grinning as he sat down, taking a sip.

" Had a good night I see…" Mega stated with a smirk and devoured himself a muffin “Hmmm…salted caramell? Trudy can do caramell? And then salted…ah…do you think she might adopt me?” That made him laugh.

“Mega! Adopt? Aren`t you more in the age…well…maybe erm…date her?” he waited with held breath.

“Trudy and me…hmmm…there was a time …I might have…but, no Trudy needs someone completely good. Someone who can be there for her and Brady without …”

“Trudy can be pretty bad ass!”

Now Mega laughed “Jack to you want to match me?”

Going red in the face Jack took another deep sip of his coffee “What made you suggest I had a good night?” he tried to stir the conversation out of dangerous waters

“Well…you didn`t add sugar in your coffee…I noticed you do that sometimes and wondered…Ellie does it too…all those times you did that, you both seemed extremely calm and happy…so my superbrain and me came to the conclusion that must come from an extremely satisfying night!”

And back they were in the dangerous water. With big eyes Jack stared at him, then into his coffee, back to him. Staring back with raised eyebrows from the tip of his big coffee mug about to take a sip, Mega wiggled his eyebrows “What? Not correct?”

Coughing a little Jack sat down his own mug. “Erm…yeah…hrm…you`re right…”

“Jack dont be so embarassed. Its not like you`re doing something evil! Or wait…maybe you do? Maybe you two are a naughty pair?”

“Oh shut up…”

“Hey don´t deny me this…don`t forget I am caged in…all i have is the news and stories you bring me!”

Jack laughed again “Ahhh…poor,poor,poooooor Mega…absolutely innocent genius!”

“Never said that!” Mega grinned before he took another sip.

Jack knew it was the perfect time to ask. To talk to him. Chilled with food and coffee, before they had time to get consumed in work. Taking a deep breath he asked “Mega? Can I ask you something personal? Really personal?”

Taking him in Mega looked at him. He noticed the now completely sobered face of the Mall Rat guy. The joking had subsided. “Sure…what`s up?”

“Well…erm…do you…have you ever…I mean if you dont want to tell me its okay…”

“Jack you first have to ASK me whatever it is you obviously need to know!”

“Yes well…Mega…erm…do you have prefrences?”

“Preferences to what? Coffee? Tea? Where to spent my holiday?”

“No…erm…in…like in men or women?”

His dark eyes nonplussed Mega waited “Men or women in what?”

Jack hurried to get another coffee, he couldn`t force himself to go on. He should have taken Ellie with him. Ellie was the speaker.

Mega stared at Jack’ss back, taking in the tensed shoulder blades and neck. What was up with the guy? Men or women…? Then it dawned on him “You want to know if I prefer guys or girls in a relation?” Red as a tomato Jack turned around nodding. “CUTE!” he thought and spoke “Thats...well...thats an easy answer…both. I have been together with guys and girls…”

“So…you`re…bi…”

“Bisexual, yes. Back in the days before the adults died it might have been a big thing, but in our new world…no one ever had a problem with that. Do you?”

“No…of course not!”

“I just wondered…why …how come you want to know that? Do you want to match me with someone? Dont forget who I am! You wont find someone who wants to date me…no matter if girl or guy!” he joked

“Mega! Dont speak that way about you! Soon you will be allowed to go out and it will take the people not long to notice that youre just like all of us! That you deserve to live like all of us. That youre worth to trust! Many people in this city arent exactly angels…so they are going to learn to give you your chance!”

“Jack…thats very touching..." not thinking he grabbed Jacks hands "I am not a person for a long time relation, marriage, kids, house and garden. I can live without another human. I am used to being alone. You and Ellie...you dont need to search someone for me…”

“We`re not searching someone for you!”

“Why you ask all this then? Not that it bothers me…it`s good to talk about different things then work sometimes. I know it changed me already. Made me more socially acceptable.” He felt Jack pressing his own fingers in his hands, wondering he looked down at their hands. Interwined. When did that happen? How?

“Mega…I…I don`t…it…you…”

“Do you…have feelings towards me?” it was a silent whisper, but it seemed like a shout.

A silence followed that was growing stronger and stronger, till Jack broke the eye contact and stood up “I don`t know what my feelings are…I love Ellie!”

“Of course you do! And she loves you! A blind man would see that!”

“So…but…sometimes…I comes to my mind…” Mega waited, he was the older one. The one with more various experience, so it was Jack who had to come out with his problem first before he could advice him. If he had an advice that is. “Especially when Ellie is around with us…it feels…”

“Complete!” Mega mumbled.

“YES! I knew you understand!”

“Jack honestly I dont think I do! Are you trying to tell me you like me? Or that you love Ellie and cant like me, don`t want like me? What is the fucking problem?” his tumbled thoughts got the better of him and he flared up.

“Mega…no…I…when we three are together it feels perfect…like home. It always was like that with Ellie and me. But since you are in our life… I love sepnding time with you…I love to discuss with you…I even dont get jealous when you look the way you do at Ellie. Dont try to fool me here, I know you like her!”

This surprised Mega, he coughed and looked away “But I don`t like her alone…”

"I…wait…what?"he asked confused by that.

Still looking away Mega answered “You may have noticed my looks at her…but not my looks on you?! On the both of you? I first thought I was interested in you both because I have never seen a better working couple…really, you two are a perfect match. But with the time I realized I am attracted. To both of you!”

This pulled the rug from under Jack’s feet and he sunk back into a chair. “You`re feeling it too!” he said in a small voice.

Mega turned around and walked swiftly over. Kneeling down in front of Jack whose mind crossed the insane idea of a proposal. He had to grin despite himself, his brain had weird ways to compensate with new situations. He hid his grin in another cough, not to hurt Mega in a way. “What do you mean? I feel it too?”

"Ellie and me had a long talk last night…we both…feel attracted to you. Ellie said for her it`s not so un-normal as any girl in a relation thinks at other men from time to time. But it would maybe mean more to me because I have always been straight and never looked that way at a guy. "

“How exactly do you look at me?”

" I dont know...I admire your fingers...when they swift that virtously along the keys...and I ask myself how they would look running over Ellie's skin...how she might feel...how I might feel when you kiss her...to watch you both...to maybe join you..." helpless he looked at Mega "But I dont know what it means…how can we dream of such things?"

"Dreams never do a harm. And well…isnt it always the humans decision what they do? What have others to care for what we three do or not? Jack its a new society...we make the rules. Why should people feel bad because of their sexuality? Isnt that what you Mall Rats want since the new world dawned on us? Equality? Live and let live? "

“Sounds simple if you say it…”

“IT IS SIMPLE!”

“No it isn`t! Not to me, not to Ellie. Are you telling me we three should just…”

“I am not telling you anything! I just opened my heart to you wider then even to my brother! Id never dare to tell you to fullfill our fantasies. I would accept if Ellie and you stay as a "normal" couple. But now that we have spoken about it...I wouldnt be able to work with you two anymore. Don`t force your twosome happiness on me when you decide to go on as never anything accured.”

“Mega…”

“No Jack…you have a lot to think about…talk to Ellie. I dont want you two to split...you must stay happy. To all costs. If the called normality makes you happy then be it. Be happy. Its Christmas eve. I am sure there is lots to do in the mall…go on helping. I am taking a day off I think and visit paradise tonight…Ram and me programmed some beaches yesterday. You know for holiday chill outs. Maybe soon we can supply everyone with nice daydreams to enjoy. I will test it…” he sounded business like, despite the emotional things he had said before.

“You…but you will come!? Slade said he and Jay will come to guard you to the mall…even Lex was okay with you joining us! Brady is dying to see you! She wants to say thank you for the Disney movies you gave to her!”

“No Jack…it was nice to invite you…but I am not that far…I cant be in that happy, natural little family...thats what you all are. A family. I don`t belong there. Especially not now. Not with that situation between us three. Even I am not that good at acting. Now go…have a Merry Christmas…”

“Mega…”

“GO NOW JACK!” Mega roared, making Jack jump up and leave the room. He leaned his forehead onto the door “Well done Jack, really well done!” giving the door a angry stare as if it was the enemy, he turned to leave the hotel.


#5

Ellie and Jack were in a low mood that first Christmas eve. They ate Trudy’s delicious food, declared it wonderful, laughed about Lex jokes, listened to Salene reading the Christmas carol to all of them, but it was not fullhearted. Jack had told her directly about his conversation with Mega and she had been touched deeply by Megas words. They both didnt know what to do. They belonged together. Jack and Ellie. Could they really add Mega to it? And how? As in all terms or only sexual? Would it mean everyone of them would be together with everyone of them or only the three together and then Jack and Ellie if they liked or would it include Ellie and Mega, Mega and Jack together as two aswell? And above all that : How would the tribe react? Not only to a pair adding a second man to their relation, no adding the former enemy to their relation?! You couldnt just celebrate Christmas eve like nothing happened when such thoughts whirled your mind.

To that they also felt bad for Mega. All alone in the hotel. Ellie had felt like crying too as Brady had cried about Mega not coming. The little girl didn`t see him as dangerous, bad guy…for her he was the man who brought her movies and childrens books and coloring books and games. Mega had an endless supply of children entertainment and Ellie strongly suggested that Mega had saved as much childhood as possible before the virus destroyed their former world. Brady loved that Mega could be so serious about childrens needs and wishes. He was a friend to her. The little girl always walked with her mother when Trudy brought the food herself. They were just sitting in the cosy living room, listening to Gel singing a Christmas song (she had a nice voice) as Brady came in looking excited.

“Santas was here!”

“Brady I told you it`s tomorrow…l…and you should be in bed!” Trudy said angr.

“But mommy…I heard something in the mall so I wanted to come to you…it`s scary when I hear something! And then…mommy…come look…all of you!” Brady pulled her mother on her hand to the centre of the mall. And there it was. Down near the phoenix spring sat a lot of glittering packages, wrapped in all colours.

“What…?” Amber did a quick count. “Seems to be one for each of us?” she looked at Jay.

“Not my idea…really not…”

“Slade?” the guy shook his head “Jack?” Jack shook his head aswell .

Lex put his hands up “Don`t even ask me…”

“Then we have a secret santa!” Ebony declared and moved down the stairs. “There are names on them!” she called to them and reached for a present with her name on it. Carefully she shook it “No ticking noise!” she said and carefully opened the wrapper.

Amber made a move forward as if scared something might happen. But all that happened was Ebony exclaiming joyful “I can`t believe it! Oh my god!” It was a little leather covered book. “Where did that come from?”

Amber now moved down as Ebony opened the book. It was a photo album full of photos with three little girls with identical grins and long braided curls. “Ebony?”

“Amber! Its our old photo album...we three made it together. Back as children, in a time where jealousy hadnt torn me away from them…look!” Amber had to smile as seeing the picture of the three sisters covered in flour “Here we had been baking cookies…Siva was a great cook!” tears splashed down her beautiful face and Amber couldn`t do other then hug her. It was weird to have Ebony break down like that. To her surprise Ram took over. He hugged Ebony and let her show him the pictures.

Ram’s hatred on Ebony had long since evaporated. He knew that Java had been mean to Ebony as well and that the other two sisters death had been tragic but not wanted by Ebony. Maybe those two…? It would be possible. With a shrug Amber looked to the rest of the tribe “We can aswell open them!” The others joined her and everyone looked carefully to find the present with his or her name on it.

“Mommy! That are ours!” Brady pointed at a violet coloured package and a little pink one. “You`re right…well, come lets open them!” she pulled her daughter on her lap, sitting down on the springs wall. “Yours first mommy!” Brady declared generously giving Trudy the violet square package “Okay…here we go…” Trudy ripped the wrapping paper off the package and gasped as she found herself smiling back at her. It was a photo of her proudly presenting a cake. Golden letters titled " Trudys delicious new world - recipes by Trudy from the Mall Rats".

“Mommy? Is that a book?” Realizing she was indeed holding more then a photo Trudy opened the book “I cant believe it...its a printed book! With my recipes and photos of them…thats...its…oh my gosh! I always dreamed of something like that!”

“I am happy for you mommy…can I open mine?”

“Of course…go on sweetheart…open it…” As Brady opened it Trudy was even closer to tears. It was a real baby doll. In the original package. With clothes and accessories and she guessed that in the big package that she spotted in a corner with also her daughters name on might hold a fitting carriage. “Ohhhh…that looks so wonderful…”

“Brady…do you remember that I told you that as I was little every toy was packed and that we had to go to the mall in a toy store to get them?”

“Yes!”

“This is such a toy…do you understand? It`s never been played with…someone must have found this and saved it…”

“Ohhhhh…” the little girl looked delighted

“Do you want to open it?”

“Can I just look at it please?” Trudy smiled under now flowing tears and hugged her daughter “You can look at it as long as you wish! Oh gosh who gave us this? A complete new doll with things to come along…that`s such a treasure!”

Ellie shared a look with Jack. She had a feeling who the secret santa was.

“There stands we have to open this together Jay!” Amber said, presenting him two little packages held together with a golden band. “Okay…then let`s do it…” Both were speachless as they opened them

“What`s it?” Lex asked curious walking to them “Woaaa…” There set two sparkling golden rings, one with a little diamond shaped like a rose.

“Time for an announcement?” he asked.

“I…I…thats...I wanted to buy those wedding bands!" Jay exclaimed, making everyone look at him. He only looked at Amber "As I was doing Christmas shopping...there was this guy having this two I...just didnt have the nerves…I…I…”

“Me too!” she whispered “I have seen them too and was thinking about…well…were a modern society or? But then...I didnt know if you think about marriage at all…”

“Of course I do!”

“People need to talk more!” Jack whispered out of the corner of his lips to Ellie who giggled as her two friends now hugged and kissed “Someone really played the cupid there!” It seemed that everyone found something he or she really loved in the package. Everywhere the tribe members exclaimed joyful or were in tears of joy.

“You know who is our secret santa, do you?” Ellie asked silently , Jack nodded “He must have been onto it a long time…thathe remembered every little stuff about people…amazing! I mean I live here and those people are my friends…family…but I never even knew that May would break down in tears for someone giving her an old sewing machine… or that Gel is interested in real classic music and longs for the chance to play Chopin note sheets on her keyboard…”

“Yes…hes caring! Oh Jack...this is stupid...wrong that he isnt here! That he isn`t with us!”

Taking her hand he said “Lets go and see him...lets…well…find a solution somehow…”

“Yes…let`s go…”

No one even noticed them leaving and when they finally would notice them gone, they surely would think they had left for bed.


#6

“We will get him to come for Christmas tomorrow…”

“Ellie…it`s already tomorrow I guess…”

“You know what I mean…he is coming for Christmas lunch…he is going to be there when we open the other presents under the tree…not only for us…also for Brady…”

They entered the hotel and opened the security door “Do you think he is in his operating room?”

“Don`t know…”

Suddenly the lights went on “Who`s there? I am armed…I am warning you!” A tousled looking Mega dressed only in black sleeping pants, his short curls flowing , his glasses slightly askew appeared holding one of his knifes.

“Oh…its ...its you…erm…” Being obvious embarrassed he hid the little kitchen knife behind his back trying to look chilled.

Ellie looked at Jack who grinnend and started to laugh. “Oh…oh yeah that`s funny! You both give me a heartattack in the middle of the night and now make fun of me…oh…just go on! I am back to bed if you allow…pfff…”

Ellie ran after him “Wait…no Mega…we werent making fun...you just look too cute!" carefully she put his glasses straight "I didnt think anything can bring down your coolness!”

“Well…I have been sleeping already…” he said defensively "So you paid someone to bring our presents? I guessed that, given you can`t leave the hotel without setting an alarm off. “Presents?”

“Dont even try to act innocent...doesnt suit you!” Jack laughed hugging him “This was a great thing you did…people are overjoyed and crying in the mall…how did you do all of that?”

Sighing he opened the door to his bedroom to them “Come in if you must!” Both never had been in there. It was the only room where was no camera and still Mega wasn`t often in it. It was a big suite with a comfortable looking huge bed under a nice big window. Everywhere lay books and sheets of paper written on with endless codes.

“Well?” Ellie demanded sitting simply down on the bed.

“Erm…well I have got ears to listen to people…I watch the security cameras…I see what people look at at the market…”

“You saw Jay and Amber looking at the wedding rings…” Jack said

“Yes…I wondered why not one of them bought them…so…well…it was obvious both want it…”

“Yes they do…they both didn`t have the nerves…and Trudy…?”

“Told me once she started cooking and backing wih her grandma and that she loved the cooking books and thought that it were the best books in the world. I guessed that she might like one with her own things…Brady was easy…she only has this old rag doll that nearly is torn in half… I`ve seen Gel playing on her keyboard and telling Sammy that she loved Chopin…that her father went to the philarmonic ochestra with her…most things just ask you to listen carefully!”

“It seems you listen and watch more carefully then the most humans do!” He sat down shrugging “What did give me away?”

“Ebony…she opened hers first…” Ellie answered

"Oh yes…the photo album…i found it as I cleaned out the old techno rooms, in Sivas old room. I thought of giving her it the day I found it…but that was the day you told me of the plan to reactivate Christmas, so I saved it for them. "

“That was perfect! Ram was touched aswell…”

“I have seen those two strolling through the city together…of course always careful not to be seen by any of you…dont know why... why shouldnt they go out? They were married after all…Slade is with Ruby…they are both single…no one would be hurt if they hooked up”

“Well sometimes we maybe care too much what others might think about our relations…” Jack stated carefully.

Mega looked at him, eyebrows raised “Wow…well…really? You don`t say…”

“Mega…weve come here because we missed you...it didnt feel right without you…we…it…”

“What shall I do about it? I told you both I have feelings for the both of you. I dont know how strong they really they are and if they are the same for both of you...it´s not like I have been together with two persons at the same time...but if I had to decide, I couldnt…”

Ellie touched his shoulder “How can we solve this? If we just go along…we might hurt each other…if we once share a bed together…we never might be able to look into each others eyes…”

“Maybe…” Jack said walking over to the writing desk were a virtual reality mask lay

“Maybe we can dream a dream together?”

Mega’s eyes lighted up “JACK! GENIUS! That`s it…we enter the same space…and there we can do whatever comes to our mind without really touching or kissing or whatever…but our body and mind will feel it…we will realize if it is really…”

“Well…what are we waiting for?” Ellie said eagerly and looked at them.

PARADISE

*It was a nice day on the little white beach, turquoise waves kept softly rolling , a gently breeze was refreshing the warm air. “Do you like it?” Wondering Ellie looked around, she noticed herself being dressed in the too big shirt she had asked from Mega to lay in. Her festive dress hadn`t been right to lay down for a virtual reality space programm.

He grinned “You`ve decide yourself what you wear…” he himself was dressed in a perfect fitting black swimming shorts. Nothing more. Well she could do that too. It took a thought and she was dressed in a neckholder bikini dress that showed more then it hid. Grinning she noticed him stare.

“Woa…” Jack was suddenly there, dressed in a longer swimming short with palm trees on it. “…you look damn hot!”

“That was the intention!” she turned to Mega “So Mr I-am-so-secure-about-sexuality…what now?” her hands in her hips she looked awaiting at him.

“I…urm…well…”

“Why dont we go just for a swim? I havent been on the beach since I was eight or so…”

“You lived all your life in a city that has the ocean close by!” Mega said shaking his head

“Well…I am more the indoor type…”

“Can see that…you with your cheesy skin!” Mega teased

“Oh what…wait…” Jack grabbed some sand and threw it at the other guy

“Whaaa…dont throw sand at me!" Mega shook himself making Jack laugh "We are on the beach...why did you bring us here when you dont like sand?!”

“I like it but not all onto me…”

Ellie giggled “Boys…how old are you?!” Both looked at each other, noticing that the same thoughts crossed their mind. Fast they grabbed for the blonde and entered the ocean with her. Ellie gasped as the water touched her skin. It felt indeed cold. She wasnt used to the real feeling of virtual reality. "How dare you?" she gasped clinging to Mega. They werent deep only covered by water till their hips. Jack nodded reassuringly at Mega who took it as sign to go on

“I dare even more…” he whispered and pressed his lips gently onto hers. Ellie was too surprised to react in any way. She just stood there frozen a few seconds. Then she noticed the unexpected softness of his lips and closed her eyes. She felt Jack watching them, but it wasn`t a bad feeling. Slowly she lifted her arms and closed them around Megas neck, deepening the kiss by opening her mouth a bit. As his tongue started to discover her mouth she moaned and felt her knees giving in. Suddenly Jack was in her back, his arms coming up around her hips, supporting her. Then he started to gently nibble her ear and trailing a way of butterfly kisses along her neck.

Losing one arm off from Megas neck she flung it back to stroke Jacks hair. As Mega ended the kiss she purred “Oh guys…whatever it is youre planning...please lets do it on the beach…” Both pulled her with them onto the little beach and soon enough they were* lost in passion and each other.

Paradise end

As Ellie woke up a few hours later, she lifted the virtual reality mask from her face. She felt wonderful. Happily she noticed that both guys had cuddled up to her from their side, she herself laying in the middle of the huge bed. A warm feeling let her look to her belly where both had a hand, their fingers intertwined. Smiling she stroke boths hair. They had done the most crazy but amazing things with her. Quiet waters were really deeply known with those two. Together they were a storm on her. Giving each other more and more ideas to love her. But they hadn`t done anything with only each other. So this question was still there. They worked as a threesome. Absolutely. She guessed she would work with Mega alone aswell as she did with Jack. But would the guys too?

“Hey you sleepy hats…” she kissed both onto their noses.

Mega sighed “Already morning? Time for Christmas?”

“Its still some hours…”

“Then let us sleep…” Jack jawned, cuddling up closer.

“No…you two have to kiss!” Both openend their eyes wide by that

“What?” With a pronounced look Ellie pointed at their intertwined fingers on her belly. Mega grinned a lopsided grin, traced with still some sleepiness “I`ve got no problems with kissing a guy it´s Jack who is the straight guy…”

“I…” Jack started unsure, he felt Megas fingers playing with his. Loosening his grip, stroking along his fingers, tying up the grip again. That wasnt bad. Not at all. He looked at the other guy. It had been damn hot to watch him with Ellie, to be watched by him, to love Ellie together. Who the hell would call such a thing unnatural? Bad? Wasnt them being happy the most important?

“You don`t have to…we have time…” Mega said in a kind of small voice.

That did it. Why not? With a move Jack pulled the other guy towards him and kissed him. That wasn`t bad either. A kiss is a kiss, he told himself. As he closed his eyes he felt it. There was passion. Mega held himself back, letting Jack take over the line. Slowly Jack allowed himself to explore more. To let his tongue enter Megas mouth, feeling his smooth teeth which were a perfect white as he knew. He heard Mega groan silently and felt him embracing him. That was different then Ellie’s soft body. It was hard and still smooth skin. As Mega playfully bit the tip of his tongue he felt his blood rushing through his body. He was left breathless as Mega pulled away.

“Hmmm…thats hot..." Ellie purred stroking both arms "Hmmm...but maybe Jack needs some time to adjust...I dont want to push him into something…Jack? Okay?”

Jack nodded, laying down next to Ellie

“It is…we just have to wait where it leads us or?” Mega nodded laying down on Ellie’s other side, facing Jack

“Yes I guess. I want you to know that this night…I will treasure it…and Jack…you`re a damn good kisser!”

Jack blushed, Ellie giggled “Isn`t he cute? All this blushing…he always does that when I tell him the night was great and such…”

Again a grin crossed Megas “You`re too innocent!”

“I am not!” Jack pouted

“would a too innocent person sleep with two persons at once?”

“Technical spoken we haven`t slept with each other …” Ellie said “It was all in the virtual relaity …and experiment if it would really work…I guess we have passed the test. No one of us shied out, no one ran away…or freaked out of jealousy…” her face was deep in thought. Jack stroked his hand high her body under her shirt finally reaching her breasts.

“We could change that…” he whispered kissing her neck

“Jack…what…hmmm…” Mega had copied Jack’s actions on the other side “Mega…what…now…it`s Christmas…we…”

“It`s still some hours darling…we have to fullfill our experiment…”

“Yes we`re scientists …”

Mega agreed nibbling her ear. Ellie felt Jack’s sureness, his gentleness. He knew her so well, knew exactly how to turn her on, how to let her reach the top and then there was Mega, the new one. Exploring her. It was an uplifting feeling that she was enough for two of such amazing guys. Two such geniuses. It made her feel sexy and cherished. As she felt one of boths hands onto the inside of her legs she let herself completely fall into the sexual heat. Both guys demanded her. And she demanded them. It was easy as it was.


#7

Do you think it is love what we feel for him?" Ellie asked silently watching Mega playing a puzzle with Brady. He really had joined them for the Christmas day and as the others had realized it had been Mega who gave them those presents he had been most welcomed. Amber had even hugged and kissed him. Lex had joked that he had to be careful that Jay wouldnt ask him to be best man and Mega had looked clearly horrified. Ebony had even suggested if it wouldnt be best to clarify that Mega was a Mall Rat to give him more freedom. He still could live in the hotel, but he could come and have a room here as well and sometimes work from here with Ram, as Lex and Ebony could maybe use some rooms of the hotel.

This had made Mega smile. No one had said anything about all the three of them entering the mall holding hands, their fingers tightly interwined. Ellie had demanded to walk like that through the city. There had been looks. But no one seemed to dare to ask a question. But Ellie knew questions would come. But let them, she was ready.

“Hmmm…first I thought it might have been only the new thing…sexy…passionate…but this morning changed that for me…i absolutely feel something deep inside when he kisses me…when he touches me…it was natural to touch his hand, interwine my fingers with him. It…well i guess it needs time. But dont do all relations? Only time will show us if we three love each other in the same way or its us both...you both...dont know…”

“Jack I love you…I just know that…I just don`t understand…can I love two persons that way? And how can two such amazing guys love such an imperfect girl?”

Stroking her cheek he whispered “Ellie…we come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly - You`re my imperfect person and I see you perfectly!”

Tears shimmered in her eyes “You stole that words…”

a little grinning he said “Well…I am not perfect aswell…”

She hugged him “We`re perfect together!”

“And who says we can`t add someone other to make it even more perfect? He is the piece we never knew we were missing!”

Nodding she cuddled up to him, she saw Mega looking over at them and giving them a warm intense smile that was new to him. And they were the pieces Mega was missing without knowing it seemed. Time would show what turned out of them. But who said it wouldnt be something more then amazing? Love didnt question after gender or ethical belonging. It didn`t ask after bad or good. It just gave you the person that completed you, made your life worth living. And well maybe it also could give you two persons. There were no rules. A song came to her mind and she hummed the melody.

Gel looked at her “Oh I love that song…” and sung

What would I do without your smart mouth
Drawing me in, and you kicking me out
Got my head spinning, no kidding, I can’t pin you down
What’s going on in that beautiful mind
I’m on your magical mystery ride
And I’m so dizzy, don’t know what hit me, but I’ll be alright

My head’s under water
But I’m breathing fine
You’re crazy and I’m out of my mind

'Cause all of me
Loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections
Give your all to me
I’ll give my all to you
You’re my end and my beginning
Even when I lose I’m winning
'Cause I give you all, all of me
And you give me all, all of you

How many times do I have to tell you
Even when you’re crying you’re beautiful too
The world is beating you down, I’m around through every move
You’re my downfall, you’re my muse
My worst distraction, my rhythm and blues

I can’t stop singing, it’s ringing, in my head for you

My head’s under water
But I’m breathing fine
You’re crazy and I’m out of my mind

'Cause all of me
Loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections
Give your all to me
I’ll give my all to you
You’re my end and my beginning
Even when I lose I’m winning
'Cause I give you all of me
And you give me all, all of you
Give me all of you

Cards on the table, we’re both showing hearts

Risking it all, though it’s hard

'Cause all of me
Loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections
Give your all to me
I’ll give my all to you
You’re my end and my beginning
Even when I lose I’m winning
'Cause I give you all of me
And you give me all of you
I give you all, all of me
And you give me all, all of you

The song filled the room and Mega looked at them both. His lips formed words they understood “Together we are perfect us…” They smiled at him looking forward to a completely new and exciting future…


#8

Wow! Thank you very much Secret Santa xxx

I love how the thoughts, feelings and worries of the relationship build up slowly through a natural, gradual process. I do really enjoy reading Tribal stories that are about the development of a relationship - especially when it involves awkwardness, shyness and geekiness.

Oh… and your use of my quote made me go “Awwwww”!

Thank you again xx


#9

Santa, you did fantastic. Mega is my The Tribe guilty pleasure and Jack is my favorite! Never been a Jellie fan, but this was so well written I don’t mind them.