SOL: Generation Four – Chapter Three

I straight up missed my usual deadline without even noticing. Sorry!

“We’re going to the East. The County of Angus, to be exact.”

“Never been there,” Dova grunted.

“Shocker,” Korra muttered.

“I have a country house near a small wee village called Bridge of Craigisla. It’s right on the edge of thousands of hectares of forestry, which has been leased from the Forestry Commission. You’ll be doing various fieldcraft exercises in there.”

“Hey, can you stop and let me out? I’m having second thoughts, specifically about this exercise stuff?”

Continue reading SOL: Generation Four – Chapter Three

SOL: Generation Four – Chapter Two

Towards the end of Q’s story, both Risa and Fury were struggling to stay awake. The cousins knew the highlights, but having all the gaps filled in made sense of their history. Half the puzzle had been missing, leaving the cousins mystified and more than a little blase about the threat. Now it was filled in the picture became clearer, and far more threatening.

Continue reading SOL: Generation Four – Chapter Two

SOL: Generation Four – Chapter One

“You cannot talk back to a teacher like that, Korra!”

Korra blew out a breath and rested her chin on her fist. Her mother stood over her with a deep frown, the expression so common that even when the grimace was gone the skin was still wrinkled with its shadow.

“He can’t teach for shit.”


“For poop, then. Whatever.”

Continue reading SOL: Generation Four – Chapter One

SOL: Generation Four – Prologue

Q wakes from the nap to see the sky is bright again, shining its brilliance through the large windows still coated in raindrops. They wind their way down ever so slowly, twisting in strange ways, joining with other tracks of water, and glistening under the sunlight. Raindrops had fascinated him as a child. How little they cared for gravity. How leisurely was their trickling descent. He had often wished to be one – fresh and often reborn, ubiquitous but unnoticed, accommodating yet able to shape all elements. He has always believed water to be the champion of elements. It could carve earth and douse fire. It was more necessary than anything else for life. Perhaps this was why his power had manifested in water.

Continue reading SOL: Generation Four – Prologue

SOL: Generation Three – Chapter Thirteen

Kian had told her to take it an hour at a time, and Isabelle had, and she was struck by how that had taken her up to this moment. Somehow the hours had piled up into days, into weeks, months, years. And here she was, resting her head on Kian’s shoulder, curled around him and breathing him in, surrounded by family (yes, she thought, that still hurt).

Three years on. How was it three years? She’d gone back to school, got her grades even though she had no direction in life, fell into an easy routine with Kian and then gave up the pretence of sleeping in her own room. Three years! She was nineteen, she had an admin job for the town hall, and she was watching her silly, ridiculous brother toast to Cara’s pregnancy.

Continue reading SOL: Generation Three – Chapter Thirteen

SOL: Generation Three – Chapter Twelve

(plz forgive me for being so behind on wp and posting anyway, I have a holiday coming up and plan to read your chapters in the sun!)

“I’m proud of you,” Mia said, curling fingers around Quinn’s wrist. He gave her a shaken smile, but couldn’t help fidgeting in his seat.

“Isn’t this a silly thing to be proud of?” His voice was quiet, but even through the din Mia managed to pick up what was said. Her disapproving look told him that much.

Continue reading SOL: Generation Three – Chapter Twelve

SOL: Generation Three – Chapter Six

Quinn had arrived first, following directions on a scrap piece of paper until the Arron’s Arcade sign had caught his eye, spilling neon blue light out onto the dull side street. He had recognised the name once Mia had suggested the venue; his uncles had visited on occasion, but luckily he wouldn’t be running into them that day; they were in America for a conference-and-holiday, so Quinn didn’t have to worry.

He’d drifted inside and was pleasantly surprised to find a friendly assistant point him into a cosy room, where muted grey walls gave a good contrast to the electric lights of the arcade machines.

Continue reading SOL: Generation Three – Chapter Six

Generation Three: Prologue

He knows that he should have retreated to bed, but as the sun continues to rise it is hard to pull himself away from the words. He reads hungrily, pausing only on occasion as a well of emotion surprises him. He is vaguely aware of his wife greeting him in the morning, taking one look at how enraptured with the story he is before deciding to leave him alone. When he is like this, there is no point trying to convince him to rest.

Continue reading Generation Three: Prologue

SOL: Generation Two – Chapter Twenty Three

The final chapter!

Quick warning to say there’s some slight nsfw? Nothing much, just more flesh on display than usual, haha.

Law had decided that whatever conversation his father wanted to have with him, it wasn’t something that could be done over the phone. Kane wanted to talk, so Law thought the least his father could do was buy lunch in the cafe downstairs, the ever wonderful Eclectic which had served the flat well over their residency.

Law was first there, of course, having only to drift down from upstairs. The waitress gave him a cheerful wave as he settled into a corner seat, somewhere easy to observe and be separate from the rest of the room. He stared fixedly on the vase in front of him, the wonderful red flowers spiralling out of their pot. Echo would know what they were called, but to Law they were just pretty.

He didn’t dare look up when he heard the door open, the warm air brushing in lazily from outdoors, but he knew it was his father by the sudden weight in the air. He smoothed his sweaty palms over his trousers and eventually met Kane’s eyes, his father shifting weight from one foot to the other both impatiently and awkwardly.

Kane took the initiative and settled next to his son, rightfully assuming that Law would have just left them in that limbo for too long.

“How are you?” he asked, fidgeting on the sofa and playing with the zip on his coat, his ring still gleaming and new.

“Really good, actually,” Law said honestly. The only part of his life causing him any grief, in fact, was sitting right beside him. Kane winced as if the answer had been spitefully directed at him, so Law ploughed on – both to absolve Kane’s worries but to also bring home the fact that Law had meant what he’d said weeks before.

“Chase and I made up.” Even now he found himself smiling, warmth unfurling throughout his body the same way that a sun rose; slowly, spreading light across every piece of the sky, bit by bit, until all of a sudden it was above the horizon and no part of the sky was untouched. “And the project I was working on with Lukas – um, Luke – is coming to a close.”

“That’s good,” Kane said cautiously, folding his fingers together so as not to fiddle with anything. He nodded as the waitress looked over and she came to take their orders; Kane went only for a coffee, his stomach too unsettled for anything more, whereas Law ordered his favourite sandwich packed to the brim with super greens. It was a tradition of his to eat the sandwich before competing in one of the martial arts tournaments for the university, and it would hopefully serve him as well now as it always did in the past.

“Dad,” Law said, as calmly as he could, “did you call because you understood what I was saying to you, or because you were hoping it was some fever dream?”

“Law,” Kane groaned. “You’re always so… so ready to accuse me. I’m not perfect, alright? Fucking far from it. And I know I’ve made some really stupid decisions in the past, but they were always –“ He cut himself off when Law gave him a particularly unforgiving glare, and Kane decided it was best not to reopen that wound. “You told me not to call you until I understood, so I tried to take you at your word.”

“And you understand now?” Law asked doubtfully.

Kane paused while the waitress brought their drinks out. To stall, he took a sip of the coffee, eyes watering at the heat. “Law, I will never understand you,” Kane said, laughing a little. “You’re far too brilliant for me to ever wrap my small brain around. You always have been.”

Law glanced sideways at his father and was relieved to see Kane’s expression was nothing but fond. He played with the string of his teabag idly. “Go on,” he prompted, when silence settled between them for too long.

“I love you, Law,” Kane said, around the sudden lump in his throat. “I mean it when I say you’re the best thing I’ll ever do in my entire life. Honestly if I didn’t know better I wouldn’t even think you were mine,” he sighed. “I thought the best thing I would ever amount to was working in the Hive as a dogsbody until I died. And that was me being optimistic, considering the kind of family I’d come from.”

Law glanced over in interest; it was one of the few times Kane had alluded to his family at home. Though Law – through Echo’s knowledge and James’ insight – knew now that they were criminals, he had never heard it from Kane. Maybe it was too difficult for his father to admit.

“And then… then Faye came back into my life and… I’m sure you know now that we used to be friends. A long time ago, before she became… who she is now. And part of me was desperate to see her as she was, I guess, so I thought that this was it. The first person who had ever really been kind to me… And the first person who broke my heart when she ignored me as a teen, was here to do right by me. I have no idea why she was interested in me again – maybe she was just lonely – but when she left me with you… Law, I was terrified, but I’ve never loved anyone so much in my life. So you’re gay. I won’t say that I totally understand it even now ‘cause… I mean, I’ve never, y’know, thought like that myself.” He offered his son a rueful smile. “I’ve fucked up before. I know I have. But I’m not going to mess up this one. I just want you to be happy, Law. I’m sorry that you couldn’t tell me earlier.” He was silent for moment; contemplative. “I understand why. Jasmine didn’t hold anything back when I told her.”

Law listened to this while staring at those flowers. The vase holding them looked like someone had mixed together different colours of playdough and then baked it like that. As with most contemporary art, it could easily have been a masterpiece or a child’s attempt at a mother’s day gift.

Just as Jasmine had given Kane advice – perhaps harsh advice, from the sounds of it – Echo had lent her powers of insight to Law, telling him all the things he didn’t want to hear, but were true nonetheless.

He knew that he could be harsh on his father. Why, he wasn’t entirely sure – perhaps Kane had so much more to live up to because it was just him, or because Law couldn’t see his childhood as anything other than sunny and wanted to return to those blessedly innocent days. It was when he became a teenager that his father suddenly hadn’t been good enough, had blundered at every turn. And while sometimes Law was right to be angry, equally he was too quick to expect his father to make the right choice with half the information.

“I miss you,” his father said, breaking the fragile silence between them. Law thought he heard Kane’s voice splinter in the middle, but he didn’t quite trust his ears.

“I miss you too,” Law murmured, accepting the sandwich that the waitress put in front of him with a thankful smile. He chanced a glance over to his father. “Thank you. I was so ready to hear… the opposite.”

At this, Kane frowned. “Law, if you ever have kids one day yourself, I think you’ll know how impossible that is. And I hope you realise how hard it is to get right, too,” he said, nudging his son with his elbow. Law laughed as he tucked into his food.

For the first time in a long, long time, Kane threw his arms around Law and pulled his son tight to him as they said goodbye. “Jas and I can get to Glasgow at some point soon, if you wanted us to.”

“For?” Law asked, raising his eyebrow. “Just a regular get together?”

Kane gave a rather smug smile. “If you want it to be. Or you can bring a plus one, this time.” He squeezed Law one last time before pulling away from him, laughing at Law’s groan.

“We’ve got to meet him at some point. Four years!” Kane exclaimed, shaking his head. “Remind me that if I ever need someone to keep a secret, you’re the best bet.”

Law snorted. “Alright, I’ll see what I can do.”

Lukas had found a fish and chips shop for the two of them to discover the weekend after their dancing, and then Echo had responded by dragging him to watch a play featuring a twist on Dracula, written by Liz Lochhead and acted out with the most interesting set pieces. Echo couldn’t help but give Lukas sidelong glances each time the vampire was mentioned, and he met her eyes with an exasperated but ultimately humouring look.

And so their summer continued like this. It was Echo’s idea to take Lukas to what passed as the seaside around Glasgow, which was to say it was the South Queensferry shoreline along the Forth estuary and not all that close to their city anyway. She liked the little village, but she liked the walk along the rocky coast more, especially when the sand was finally revealed if the tide was out; a jealously guarded secret of the waters.

Lukas had stepped onto the sand without a second thought for his dress shoes. Echo couldn’t help but wince and apologise, though he’d taken it in his usual gentle humour.

“I am perpetually overdressed,” he said apologetically. “It’s a curse of my generation, I think.”

“I did warn you that we’d be walking,” Echo said, biting back a smile.

“I’m afraid I don’t own anything that could pass as casual,” he replied, tilting his head back to bask in the weak sun.

“Well, next time I shall endeavour to find something less, ah, sandy.” Echo looked at his shoes as she said it, wincing at the thought of sand crawling into the crevices of them. At least her sandals were built for this job. “There’s an interesting art exhibition opening near my theatre. Eilidh has put a piece in; it’s about differing cultural or social identities.”

“That does sound fascinating,” Lukas agreed, studying Echo. “You didn’t put a piece in?”

“I was so busy, and I feel like I don’t have much to say on that topic. Eilidh’s mother is very upper-middle class, but she’s not, at all. I have another friend who has put something in about being born in Poland but being raised entirely in the United Kingdom. She showed me the other week; it’s very thought provoking.”

“I can imagine,” Lukas said, watching as seagulls fought over something closer to the waves. Under their feet, shells crunched, and with each breath the smell of old seaweed and fresh salty air hit her. “I felt torn by cultures when I was young, I think.”

“Really?” Echo asked, glancing over to him.

“As I’m sure you know, my last name is Italian, but this comes from my paternal Grandfather, who moved to Spain to marry a fairly wealthy woman. Her family allowed her to take his last name so long as their first – and, as it turned out, only – son was named after her father. Hence my father’s name, Juan, who rejected much of his Italian ancestry. Thus I was born with an Italian last name but with no attachment to the country. It was an interesting predicament in those times. Spain was still recovering from the aftermath of its civil war and then, of course, the second world war – Spain had a debt to Germany, and Franco was sympathetic towards the AXIS powers, though still far too afraid of the United Kingdom to ever enter into the war proper. But I felt I received a bizarre treatment from others my age, idolising me, almost. I’m still not sure why I return to Savio. I think I’d like to change it one day.” Lukas blinked away from his reverie and caught Echo watching him. “I’m sorry,” he blushed. “You don’t have to be so polite if I’m boring you.”

“Nonsense!” Echo said cheerfully. “I know absolutely nothing about Spain, if I’m honest, and it’s always nice to learn. When did you come here?”

“I travelled for some time around Asia, working as a doctor, and it was there I learned that Britain was doing exceptionally well in the sciences. I began to follow the discoveries in biology when the Nobel Prize was awarded for the structure of DNA. I moved to the country shortly after to go to university, and the rest is history.”

“You’ve lived here for some time, then?”

“Yes, with some travelling between. After your Uncle almost discovered my secret, I went to Central America for some years. I’m not sure why I’ve returned here. The old adage about the devil you know comes to mind…”

Echo laughed. “I can’t imagine Scotland being all that interesting after you’ve visited so many other places.”

“On the contrary,” Lukas said with an easy smile, “it’s very peaceful. And that, I enjoy.”

“But it’s hardly as warm as what you’re used to,” Echo said, stepping across Lukas’ path to make her way to the water. She didn’t expect it to be warm and she wasn’t disappointed; her feet were instantly chilled and she suppressed a high-pitched squeal, instead gasping out a couple of curse words under her breath.

Lukas laughed in surprise. “Very true. If it’s so cold, why do you dare to stand in the water?”

Echo settled her feet on a sturdier piece of ground, using a rock which wasn’t as covered in seaweed and therefore far less slippery than its neighbours. “It makes you feel alive,” she said, squeaking as a small wave lapped at the bottom of her jumpsuit. “And I’m sure it’s meant to be good for your health.”

A gull launched itself up into the air, crying noisily, as a speedboat carved its way through the water behind them. Displaced water lapped at the back of Echo’s legs. “Only if you don’t catch a chill, I’d wager.”

“You wanted to be taught how to be human,” she pointed out.

“And being human is about doing ridiculously silly things,” Lukas agreed sagely. “Regardless you’ll have to forgive me for choosing to stay on the land.”

Echo stuck her tongue out at him and kicked at the water a few times, watching the ripples as they were swallowed by the wavelets approaching land. “Maybe we should go rock pooling instead.”

“A common childhood past time, I’ve heard.”

“The best thing you usually get are anemones,” Echo shrugged, hopping out of the water and shaking her feet to dry. The wind felt far too cold on her damp skin, and she shivered as her toes turned to blocks of ice.

“But anemones are incredibly interesting,” Lukas said, lacing his hands behind his back as they continue on strolling. “They’re a Cnidarian, closely related to the jellyfish and the coral, and which means Nettle in English.” He waited patiently for Echo to catch up to him. “And they’re squishy,” he said, a mischievous twinkle in his eyes.

Echo burst out laughing at the usually serious scientist. “Yes,” she agreed. “They’re very squishy.”

“I was thinking-“

“Steady,” Echo cautioned, winking at him.

Lukas snorted. “That perhaps next week you would willing to go to a café I’ve seen on my daily commute.”

“Of course,” Echo said. And then, after a pause, and trying not to laugh, she asked, “No fish and chips this time, I take it?”

“No.” Lukas waited a moment, almost until the conversation would have reached its end, before adding, “It’s a waffle and milkshake café, and it looks delightful. You might have to roll me out once we’ve finished.”

Echo clapped her hands together and laughed brilliantly. “I look forward to it.”


The morning started like many others, these days; Law and Chase lying on top of his duvet, cuddling up to each other sleepily, both trying to prod the other up but neither wanting to move. Their second honeymoon period had yet to end, and Law was utterly content to spend his mornings this way.

“Are you nervous?” Chase asked around a yawn, pressing his lips to Law’s collarbone, his hand tickling the skin at his waist.

“Absolutely,” Law murmured, reaching over to pull Chase’s head back to him so that he could kiss him. Chase complied with little resistance.

“More nervous than the other week with your karate thingy?”

“It’s MMA,” Law corrected with a laugh. “And no, I’m never nervous for that. I know I’m good, but it doesn’t matter to me if I win. It matters to me that dad and Jas like you.”

“What if I don’t like them?” Chase asked teasingly, spreading his hand along Law’s toned stomach.

“Less important,” Law said with a wicked grin. “I can’t get rid of them.”

Chase responded by tickling Law’s sides, his Achilles heel. Law hated the indignant squeal that he answered with, but he was unable to stop it under Chase’s relentless teasing.

Law ended up sitting up, ready to leave in search of clothes for the day. Chase groaned in complaint and ended up leaning against him, his tanned skin still dark from his American escapades, while Law was as pale as ever.

“We need to get you sunbathing,” Chase commented, leaning his head back so he could see Law’s face.

“I have too many things to do.” Law stuck his tongue out at Chase, who laughed gently. “It’s a waste of time.”

“Not with a good book,” he protested. “Or some pretty company.” He fluttered his eyelashes at Law, who laughed and shook Chase off.

“I guess I’ll have to ask Rhoan to accompany me, then,” Law grinned.

Chase gaped in mock hurt. “You’ve wounded me, Law. Rhoan, prettier than me? Don’t let him hear that or Eilidh will never get him to stop strutting like a peacock.”

“She can’t stop him as it is,” Law agreed, tossing Chase’s trousers over to him.

Law thought Jas would be able to feel the rapid beating of his heart through her chest as, behind him, Chase shook hands with his father. Kane was jovial, slapping Chase on the back and promising to buy him a drink. The pub that he’d chosen was one he knew via a co-worker who’d left The Hive some years ago. It was for that reason the owner had opened the door to them slightly early with a wink, giving them some space to themselves before the night’s trade came in.

Chase met the firm handshake with a smile. He’d never seen Kane closely enough to get a good look at his face, but there was enough of Law in him that it was recognisable. And searching his eyes, Chase was reassured to see that there was no look of disgust or displeasure; only friendliness.

“Come here, Chase, don’t let Kane steal all your time,” Jasmine commanded, waving her hands to beckon Chase in for a hug. Laughing, Chase lent in and let Jasmine peck his cheek, quickly wiping away any lipstick stain before rearing back to look at him. “I hope you can forgive us for being a little excited,” she grinned, and Kane snorted.

“She’s always over-excited, don’t let her fool you.”

“It’s nice to be so warmly received,” Chase said diplomatically, winking at Law who hovered in the background. “Shall we get a drink?”

“Yes please,” Law muttered under his breath, making a beeline for the bar. Chase’s laughter followed him.

Law struck up a conversation with the barman, a man called Des (or, more accurately, who called himself that) and ordered a cider for himself while Chase drooped over the bar.

“It’s been a long week,” he said, continuing a conversation with Kane and Jasmine that Law hadn’t heard the start of. “University starts up soon, so I’ve been trying to remember everything we’ve already learned. It’s a lot,” he grumbled.

Kane stretched lazily and signalled to the bartender for a real ale. “What is it you study?”

“Physics, basically. I’m starting a PhD next year about quantum physics in cyber security.”

“Putting your hacking skills to good use,” Law said, smirking into his bottle. Chase grinned like a cat.

“You’ve made me into a law-abiding citizen,” he quipped, making Law groan at the poor pun.

At the end of the table, Jasmine laughed and sipped her own beer, reaching out to curl her fingers around Kane’s thigh.

“Sounds like the two of you are as smart as each other,” Kane said, shaking his head in amazement. To that, Chase snorted.

“As if. Genius over here is on a whole other level.”

Law wrinkled his nose in protest. “Says the person doing quantum physics.”

The bartender glanced over to them with a smile in his eyes, crinkling their corners, and turned away to take stock of some of the spirits waiting in the shelves. Kane chuckled at their banter.

“Sounds like an old argument.”

“Yup,” Chase said, popping the ‘p’, and giving Law one of his infuriating smirks. “I can’t help but notice there’s a foosball table over there,” he said, eyeing it up over his shoulder. Law huffed a laugh.

“Better than a karaoke machine,” he muttered. Chase gave him the finger as he hopped over to it.

“Two against two?” he asked.

As they played the foosball in the empty pub, their raucous laughter filling the building with life, Law met Chase’s eyes. His boyriend smiled sweetly at him, giving him a confident wink, and Law felt himself blossom with happiness.

Law couldn’t think of a time when he had been more content as this. Finally he felt like he was a step closer to understanding his father, and vice versa. Chase was back in his life and there was no way Law would let him leave so easily again, if Chase would even dream of doing so. His father and Jasmine were just as satisfied with life, facing it together as they had been for more than a decade already, but this time with rings on their fingers. And Law was surrounded by his closest friends, his own family. Maybe the next few years would see them drift to new parts of the world, start families, change jobs, or generally be a nuisance to the public (Rhoan), but Law didn’t doubt that the bonds they’d formed years ago would stay in place. He couldn’t imagine a world where Rhoan and Eilidh didn’t get married and bless the world with children that were far too cute and deadly smart, or a world where he and Chase weren’t changing the world in their own ways.

He looked forward to each day of it.

The summer had passed by quickly for them all, in different ways. Law and Chase treasured each moment together, and both Rhoan and Eilidh were busy with family holidays and various hobbies squeezed between. Echo, for her part, had either been at the theatre or enjoying Lukas’ company. Their friendship had a strange dream-like quality about it; the feeling of a summer fling coming to an end.

Which was odd, Echo reflected, given that there had been no mention of the feelings simmering between them. Lukas was ever the gentleman, but it had been intoxicating to see him light up whenever they had found an activity which they had both enjoyed. They’d returned to dancing many weeks, but in between had also been bowling, watched several plays, and discovered niche art exhibitions, restaurants, and all manner of interesting places hidden among the streets of Glasgow.

Echo had decided to take Lukas to the Indian restaurant she had first discovered with her granddad. It matched a wonderfully warm interior with exquisite food, filled with blends of spices and alive with flavour. Lukas had even cooked for Echo, once, though they hadn’t eaten at his. Echo wasn’t sure if it was because Lukas didn’t want that sort of intimacy or if he hadn’t thought it proper. The food was delicious; a mixture of dishes from mainly Spanish origin, but with a couple of interesting Italian sides that Echo had enjoyed equally as much.

“What does the end of summer bring you?” Lukas asked, absently realigning his cutlery. The flickering light from the candle cast them both in a warm glow, one that perfectly matched the dim lights dotted around the building.

Echo bit back the words ‘not you, I expect’, and instead smiled at Lukas, though it was a smile tinged with sadness. “More art and theatre modules, of course. I have taken a sculpting class out of interest, though my real passion lies in oil paintings and costume making. Unfortunately costume making and design isn’t so well paid,” she acknowledged.

“It’s more important to do what you love,” Lukas shrugged.

“And you?” Echo asked, turning the question back around as she fiddled with her bracelet.

Lukas considered his answer while watching her through the candle’s light. “I’ll have to think of a new project to spend my time on,” he said wryly. “Though honestly there’s no shortage of things to do in a University. I could drown in papers to mark if I’m not careful.”

“That would be a great loss indeed,” Echo said, injected her tone with mock seriousness. Lukas’ eyes flicked to hers and he rewarded her with one of his rare, true smiles.

“I find you quite the mystery, you know,” Lukas said, tilting his head to the side. Echo felt suddenly flustered under his piercing eyes and ran a hand down her plaits self-consciously.

“A mystery?” she repeated, somewhat incredulously. “You scientists always try to make things more complicated than they have to be.”

He didn’t miss the fondness in her words. It was, somehow, hard not to in a place as intimate as this. “I’ve never met anyone like you,” he confessed. “Though my taste in company did leave a lot to be desired for, for many years…”

Echo shook her head at him. Even with the dark undertones of his past, she couldn’t help but be amused. “Just because I’m different doesn’t make me a mystery. Far from it; I think I’m simple to work out.”

Lukas ran his hand over his beard, an absent gesture. The food was taking a while, but Echo had already warned him of this, and besides, it gave them seemingly endless time. Lukas was aware that tomorrow a new term would begin, and their spell would end. There was no harm in taking their time while they could afford to.

“How so?”

“Because,” Echo said, fixing him with a look underneath her lashes in her typical way, “Many people I think are duplicitous without realising. They say one thing and act in another way. They lie thinking they tell the truth. I think that’s just how people are. My mum definitely is. But my dad… He’s like me. Or I’m like him, I should say. And he is very much a man who does as he says. He knows himself. He doesn’t try to achieve greatness in anything but happiness, and I aspire to be like that every day.”

“I think you succeed, if this summer is anything to go by.”

Echo blessed him with a knowing smile. “True. He lent me a book when I was young. Maybe you’ve heard of it – The Prophet?” When Lukas shook his head, she continued on. “It’s a very wise book. Generally I try to follow its advice; things like ‘in your talking, half your thinking is murdered.’” She gave a sheepish laugh. “And yet here I am wittering on, so maybe not. But I could lend it to you if you like?”

The moment almost shattered with the reference to spending time together after summer, to something both of them knew; after tonight, they would be back in reality. They both felt that approaching awareness of someone waking up.

Lukas reached out and without a word Echo placed her hand in his. They had touched before, many times, as it was hard to dance without doing so – but this was different. This was intimate; a touch cherished.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed our time together, Echo.” Lukas spoke softly. Anything of volume would have broken their private bubble, secluding them from the other couples in the restaurant.

“It’s been lovely,” she agreed, challenging him with her smile. It said, tell me it’s over, at the same time as her eyes searched his, looking for him to say it’s not.

“I don’t think I could have experienced half the things you showed me without you.” He smoothed his thumb over the backs of her fingers and watched as he did so, a mixture of want and wonder in his expression. “But this is hardly appropriate,” he added quietly.

“Appropriate?” Echo couldn’t help raising her voice, though it was because she was startled rather than indignant. Of all the reasons she had thought their whirlwind friendship was coming to an end, this wasn’t even on the list.

“We’ll talk about it after dinner?” Lukas suggested as the waiter came with their food. Echo nodded distantly, an empty smile for their server as he gave them their dishes.

And so an hour later they stood in the gentle glow of the fountain. The days had been growing shorter for some time, and now, in early September, it was dark at nine. Accompanying this was the Indian Summer that Scotland so often had this time of year, though in reality it was little more than a continuation of decent weather and a lowering of the inhabitant’s expectation of what a Summer should be. Many of the leaves were still green, yet to turn, but some which basked in the sun all day had recognised its dwindling light had begun to burn yellow, smoldering its way to the rest of the greenery.

The park they crossed through on their way to the metro was lit by dim streetlights and the fountain itself, which cast light up to the sky from its circular dome. The water turned the light blue in the dark, and so they stood bathed in its aquamarine radiance. Lukas encircled her hands with his own, pulling them between their chests. Echo watched him as her heart thundered in her ears.

“You know the truth of who I was,” Lukas murmured to her, his voice light enough to be carried by the wind. “I’ve enjoyed our time; I really have. But it’s hardly appropriate for someone who is, in reality, three times your age, and far too undeserving of someone like you.”

Echo wondered if she would forever associate the splashing, bubbling water with the feeling of heartbreak.

“Let me decide what I do and don’t deserve, Lukas,” she told him, though her disapproval was lost somewhere in her throat, where it was replaced instead with an ache.

“The fact remains that I am so much older than you. I’ve known your brother since he was barely a teenager, Echo. I may physically be eighteen, but we both know that I’m not.”

Echo swallowed. He was right, of course, but that didn’t mean she had to agree.

As if reading her thoughts on her face he brought her hands up, pressing his lips to her chilled hands. She swallowed the entwined feelings of desire and disappointment back.

“Tell me why that matters?” she asked, searching his gaze.

“I couldn’t bear to think I’m taking advantage of you, or that you’re settling for a man stuck in the past as I am. As I said, you deserve someone truly your age. Anyone would struggle not to love you, Echo.”

She clicked her tongue at him, trying to inject some joviality into her words. “You silly man,” she sighed. “The very fact you’re worried about it proves that you will never do so, and you clearly think I can’t or won’t toss you out on the kerb if you were to ever try to do that. Lukas, I’ve been happier with you than I have been with anyone else. This summer ends, but what we have doesn’t have to.” She tilted her head to the side, studying him, and the illuminated fountain soothed them with blue waves. “Like I said, leave it up to me to decide what I deserve. I know my value, thank you very much. And I happened to have made my mind up a long time ago about what and who I wanted.” She dropped her hands to the side. “It’s only you I’ve been waiting for.”

The weighted silence between them only grew. Echo wished she could know Lukas’ thoughts, but all she could do was wait as he mulled over her words in that brooding way of his. She had stated her case; she had said what she wanted. They could leave here together, continuing their tentative courtship, or they could leave as nothing more than acquaintances and painful memories.

Lukas often looked back on this moment. He could easily identify the choices he’d made which had put his life onto certain paths; leaving his family to be a research assistant for a week had been the first, and agreeing to help the vampire council had had the most impact. And whenever he thought about this moment, he knew there had really ever only been one decision to make. He was drawn to Echo helplessly, as he was with all mysteries, and she had given him the rationale he needed to excuse seeing her again – and not just seeing her as a friend, but as a partner.

And he had taken her hands in his again, ever so gently, so that he could walk her to the metro station, and her eyes had shone with relief, and his steps were lighter than ever.

He wished someone could have taken a photograph of the two of them leaving the park together, Lukas reaching up to smooth Echo’s hair under his hand as he had dreamed of doing for many weeks, the fountain’s light dying on their backs. He would have liked to have that picture, because of what it represented to him; the true start of a new life, the cementing of their growing love for one another, and more than anything, the fact that they had chosen each other to face the world with.

Echo had been right in some ways when she had said she was simple. She was straightforward with what she wanted; him, and later a wedding, and then somewhere to raise a family. She was also complicated in ways Lukas could never explain to her, because he could hardly explain why he found it so confusing. It was in the ways she would get lost in her own world of creativity and forget to take breaks for food, or how she could take him into her world of simple pleasures with just a smile and a piece of music. It was in the skill of her fingers to produce love in so many forms, whether it was through costumes, melodies, paintings, or cooking. It was her open and trusting nature, despite how evil the world could be around them. She loved like no one he had ever known, and he would never understand it, but he would spend his life trying.

And there was no better life than the one with her by his side, being welcomed into her family with open arms, Law harbouring none of the suspicion Lukas had convinced himself he would. There was no better life than the one where he could have a family of his own, naming his children in memory of his mother and brothers, raising them alongside the most patient and compassionate wife he could have ever hoped for.

There was no better life than the one he got to live.

A/N: I made the choice not to have this generation continue any longer than strictly necessary, which is why Lukas and Echo have so few scenes – as you can see, Law’s storylines are now neatly tied up so to squeeze another chapter into what is technically his story feels a bit odd. I hope I got away with that on the basis that Lukas has been a character for a while, and that the writing hopefully makes up for the fact that we don’t see their time pass. And if you didn’t already guess, we’re having quite the time skip because Generation Three has a lot of plot to get through, and so I want to get right in it.

I totally understand if this has been too rushed and you’re not on board for Lukas and Echo. If that’s the case, I will happily backtrack my plans and have the first chapter be a sort of montage of scenes as they forge their life together. But I just really, really like this ending, and no matter how many times I’ve come back to change it, I never have.

But first, look out for the prologue. I’m excited to have you all read it!