Chapter 5: Hellfire

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September 7, 2357

Rooftop of Genesis NW Building 5

Genesis, America

Ari had no idea where she was standing until the voice behind her said again, "Come on, now. It's too far a drop and that wind will take you over any minute now."

Her eyes opened slowly, seeing first the buildings ahead of her and to the sides. Lights were dotted all throughout each building surrounding her, just a few bright spots along a black face. Much like she knew this building looked to those looking out their own windows or examining their surroundings from other rooftops. Below her was thirty-five stories and between each one, patrols were zooming and buses were leapfrogging from rooftop to rooftop.

The wind tugged on her again and Ari realized that the stranger was right: if it got strong enough, it wouldn't take much to carry the teenager towards the pavement. Slowly, she bent her legs and eased down until she was sitting on the ledge of the roof, her long legs dangling over the side. Only then did Ari look back to the man who thought her suicidal.

Immediately, Ari's eyes were captured by his sharp blue gaze. Lights from the rooftop were equally as caught and gave his irises an eerie cast. Like the reflection off animal eyes when a light is shined in them. Slowly, the tiny hairs on the back of Ari's neck begin to stand straight up.

When she was 'safely' seated on the ledge, the young man released a small breath of relief. Ari watched his lips as he did so, noting that they were thinner than her own. Her eyes traveled along his face, noting the straight nose and high cheekbones. His hair, she realized, was darker than hers and was cut in a much shorter style; the tips were drawn forward over his forehead, instead of styled to the left like Ari's bangs.

Letting her eyes drift from his face–which even Ari could not deny was handsome–those dark irises took stock of his body. From what she could tell, he was 187 centimeters, a full ten above Ari's 177. A white t-shirt covered his upper body but was oddly tucked into the old blue jeans he wore. It made it much easier to study the lithe, muscular body he sported. Just as with his eyes, the way he held himself, with his legs spread apart and knees slightly bent, reminded her of an animal. A predator.

Unavoidably, Ari began to wonder about him. His upbringing. What made him so ... tense? Alert to trouble?

Ari didn't feel an ounce of shame for studying him. He was doing the same to her. From the moment she turned her head, his piercing blue eyes were scouring her face, like he was searching for something. They trailed down her thin frame, grazing the bare flesh of her back. Once they took stock of her body, his eyes shot back to her face.

Ari knew that the hair would catch him most off-guard. Though her face was narrow and thin, she knew her features were too feminine for the haircut her body forced upon her. Her semi-full lips, especially, were a decently attractive feature. Or so Eila kept telling her.

Yet, the stranger did not even glance at her hair. As soon as he realized she was watching him, those luminous eyes captured hers yet again. His voice flew through the still night air, slicing through that calm before the storm. "What do you think you are doing?" There was only the slightest edge in his tone. Not enough to rile her, but enough to make her back straighten in reproach.

"Enjoying the sights," she responded. To prove her point, she turned her head again and looked out at the city that was quickly falling to sleep. Only the teenagers would remain awake after midnight. And most of the Northwest teens were a few stories below this night.

"You sure about that? I could've sworn..." He took a few steps closer to her and Ari shot a glance at him from the corner of her eye.

"That I was suicidal? Not quite yet."

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