Ezza trudged down the road towards home. It had been a very uncomfortable day off for him, but it was finally over. Zas would be home soon, he could just relax and wait for him and then let him know what a pain his Ex was. All he had wanted was a relaxing day with Dina. They had talked for a bit, but Katrina had kept interrupting them to either ask or complain about Zas. Eventually they had gone outside to fish in the lake behind the Caliente sisters house. When Dina left, Ezza had tried to go right away too, but Katrina had gotten a hold of him. Why are they both such miserable people? Ezza thought to himself.
As he got closer, he noticed that the lights in the living room were on. Ezza was positive he had turned them off before he left; maybe Zas was home early. Oh Mates, don’t let him be fired. Ezza reached the door and was about to go in when he realized it wasn’t Zas sitting on his couch. Jumping back from the door, he took another quick peek through before heading around the side of the house.
Sitting on the couch watching the television and laughing at something was a petite blond-haired, freckled-faced young man. Maybe it’s just a lost teenager? Why would a teenager be in your house? Wouldn’t he have a home of his own? Why are you even answering me? Oh Mates, why am I talking to myself? Snapping out of it Ezza paced trying to decide what to do. If he went in what would he say? What if it was someone from this Planets Government? What if they took him away? What if they dissected him? What if they just killed him? Maybe Granite Falls wasn’t just a vacation place on this planet. What if it was the burial ground for unwanted space visitors. Ezza fretted and found he couldn’t bring himself to go in alone. The best course of action would be to wait for Zas and then come up with a plan. That decided, he automatically started doing what he normally did. He went to take care of his garden.
Zas returned home to see the lights in the living room, but Ezza outside sitting in the garden looking back at his house. Curious he walked over.
“What’s up?” He asked Ezza. Ezza jumped up as if spooked. The look on his face set Zas on edge.
“Make it to the door yet?” Ezza asked him.
“Uh, no? Saw you out here, why would I go in without saying hello?” Zas asked confused.
“Well they were on when I got home and I thought you were here early, which is why I’m out here.” Ezza said.
“That makes no sense. What’re you talking about?” Zas asked his agitated friend. He wasn’t liking the crawly feeling going up his neck.
“There’s someone in the house. Someone that’s not you or me. I didn’t want to go in alone in case they try to separate us. I didn’t want that.” Ezza finished kind of meekly. He felt like a scared little child saying it out loud, but it was true. He wasn’t trained for combat or situations like these, Zas was. It was why their system worked in Pairings, you always balanced the other one out. Or at least that was what was supposed to happen, with Academy made choices it wasn’t always the case. That’s why finding a Pairing on your own was so important.
“OK. Lets check it out together, and remember if I tell you to run, you run. I’ll catch up, don’t worry about me.” Zas said looking Ezza in the eyes. Ezza gave him a firm nod in reply, and the two of the walked up to the house and entered.
He sat on the couch listening to the two of them talk outside. He could just imagine what they were thinking. He had seen the one called Ezza come home earlier, but his show had been on and it had been at a good part so he hadn’t bothered tracking him down when Ezza had run from the house again. After all he belonged here more than they did, what could they do about it? It would be their word against his in the Council, and the Council knew who he was.
He couldn’t quite make out what they were saying but he could tell when they’d stopped. He waited for the sound of their footsteps at the door. Putting a relaxing smile on his face he waited as they opened the door and stepped inside. Game face Cameron, watch your step. He thought to himself.
Zas walked boldly into the room with Ezza straight behind him. Sitting on the couch was the young teenager Ezza had described. His wavy short cut blond hair framed his freckled face perfectly. The large brown, doe-like eyes gave him an attractive quality. When he straightened up and looked at them Zas could tell that while he had a slight frame, it was muscled.
“Welcome Muffins.” The man said. His voice was deeper than a teenagers. He might look young but Zas guessed the man was around their age. Then the word Muffin clicked in his brain. It was him! Zas could feel his anger rising with each passing second.
“Settle down please. Let’s keep this casual and friendly, after all I’m here to help you. My name is Cameron.” The man said raising his hand in a small wave of greeting.
“Help!? Help!? You kidnapped me and I’m pretty sure you did it to Ezza too. Why would we trust you?” Zas shouted at Cameron. He was losing control and he knew it, Ezza did too. Ezza placed his hand on Zas’s shoulder in an effort to calm him, they didn’t need a repeat of their Pairing day all over again. Although they had paired at the end so it had turned out alright, but it took a lot to get blood out of clothes. Zas let out a sigh at Ezza’s touch, he knew his friend was warning him and he knew he had a job to do. Taking a deep breath Zas tried to calm himself.
“It’s nice to meet you Cameron. How can we help you?” Ezza asked. Oh good, I don’t sound scared, Ezza thought. Zas stiffened for a moment, Ezza sounded so firm and sure, it was almost like a new person. When did this happen? Zas asked himself.
“Glad to see one of you is reasonable. Like I said I’m here to help you. You two are about as subtle as Rhino in a China shop. You’ve almost been caught a couple of times and let me tell you, if you hadn’t taken a dip at that party, you’d have both been caught that night.” Cameron said looking each of them in the eye. Ezza looked confused and Zas actually blushed as he remembered that night. Neither he nor Ezza had really talked bout it since then. That sort of thing didn’t happen between Pairings, they’d been taught that at the Academy.
“Oh that’s cute. He finally blushed. I didn’t think you had it in you after all the dirty little things you’ve been up to with that redhead. Good to know.” Cameron teased Zas. Zas could feel his temper rising again. He ached to wrap his hands around Cameron’s neck and squeeze until all the air left his body.
“You’ve been watching us?” Ezza asked.
“Naturally.” Cameron replied.
“Why?” Zas growled at him. Ezza squeezed his shoulder and Zas calmed down a bit.
“Geez, really Muffin? Two unknown beings crash-land on Earth and you two think you’re not being watched? Give me a break. You’re lucky it was me that found you and not one of the Hunters.” Cameron said. “Look, I stumbled on you by accident. You did me a solid, I’m trying to do you guys a solid, but you’re not making it easy.”
“We did you a solid?” Ezza asked his curiosity peaked.
“Sorry, sometimes I forget you’re not completely used to the lingo. A favour, you did me a favour, now I’m doing you one.” Cameron said.
“I know what it means.” Ezza said. “But I don’t know what we did for you.”
“Ah that. Nigel Hill ring a bell?” Cameron asked. At the mention of Nigel both men stiffened, frowns on their faces.
“No idea what you’re talking about.” Zas said warily.
“Don’t lie Muffin. That’s how I found you. You went to Nigel when you first crashed. I wasn’t sure what for, so I watched. You looked after him and treated him kindly. For that I thank you. You wouldn’t be the first to crash, or to find Nigel. However, the last person to find Nigel turned on him at the last-minute. I took care of him.” There was no mistaking the cold tone in Cameron’s voice. Zas shuddered, he recognized the attitude and the resolve in Cameron’s eyes; this was a man who would do anything to fix a wrong; Whatever it took.
“Why do you care about Nigel?” Ezza asked. Honestly what was Nigel to him, maybe he had taken care of Cameron at some point when he first came here. Otherwise why would he care?
“He’s my Father.” Cameron said simply. Both men’s mouths dropped open in shock.
“How!?” Ezza asked.
“What do you mean how? Oh Muffin, do I need to explain the Birds and the Bees to you?” Cameron asked mockingly. Ezza blushed.
“No need to talk to him like that. He knows what that is.”Zas said a little angrily.
“Well, you’ve already been told how my parents met. I’m Oma’s son with Nigel.” Cameron said.
“Again, how!?” Ezza asked. “You’re about our age, and Nigel met Oma like decades ago. She left him decades ago. How is that even possible?”
“Ah, the logistics. Well, I am who I am, and you weren’t wrong in your timing. It’s just that good old moms species incubates for quite a while. Here I am today as you see me, alive, healthy, young, handsome.” Cameron flashed a smile at them.
Zas and Ezza stood looking at Cameron for a moment.
“So, how exactly are you going to help us?” Zas asked.
“I’m going to help you get home. You two don’t know what you stepped into. Earth isn’t some junker planet. It’s a test planet. My people have been experimenting on this planet for a while. Different things but mostly for combat right now. Your crash and existence could jeopardize that. You’re being hunted. Id like to get you off here so you can warn your people. It’s the least I can do. So I’m going to keep you off the grid for a while and when it’s safe, I’ll get you out of here.” Cameron promised them. His face and tone so sincere that even Zas believed him.
“Why would you want to help us like that? Won’t it put you in a bad place with your Command? I don’t think Nigel is the real reason.” Zas said, Ezza nodded his head behind him.
“Truth? I hate my people. My Mother didn’t agree with the Councils ideas either. She was a high-ranking officer. They tolerated my existence for that reason. She shot down the proposals every time and stopped the efforts from moving forward. She was on her way here to come back to Nigel; she had a malfunction and blew up. There was no malfunction. They removed the only thing stopping them from testing, to creating a stupid war just because they need more. First test subject they used? Nigel. They destroyed any life but one of servitude to the Council that I may have had. No one else needs that. You don’t, you’re people don’t. I’ll get you out, and if I do, you take me with you.” Cameron looked at the two of them trying to gauge their reactions. This was his last chance to be free forever.
“I don’t think so.” Zas said at the same time that Ezza agreed.
“We need a moment.” Zas said. Cameron rolled his eyes and waved them away as he settled back on the couch. Picking up the remote he began flipping channels. Zas grabbed Ezza just above his elbow and led him out of the house.
Around the backside of the house both men began arguing. Zas made good points and Ezza agreed with them, but Cameron may be the only hope they had. They weren’t getting far by themselves.
“Fine. We take the weirdo with us. I don’t like it. He kills us in our sleep and I get to kill you.” Zas said petulantly.
“That makes absolutely no sense, but agreed.” Ezza said. They did their secret shake and then went in to tell Cameron their decision.