Chapter 7: Shelter

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September 8, 2357

Genesis NW Building 5

Genesis, America

It was unearthly quiet when the storm finally broke at four thirty. The power wouldn't be back on for another twenty minutes, probably. So only narrow blue strips of light running along the tops and bottoms of the walls illuminated Eila's penthouse. They barely helped Ari navigate around the mounds of sleeping teenagers on the floor and all over the furniture.

To say things had not gone well once Jace and Ari barged into the party was an understatement without equal expression. The power had just flickered off, automatically deadening the wall projections and killing the elevators. When the back-up generators kicked in only seconds later, the blue strips came on and the plumbing, heating, and cooling agents alone received power. It was the only way to accurately conserve energy in the huge building. Therefore, the party was officially dead.

When Jace and Ari explained that the party-goers couldn't leave, however, things got volatile. Fast. No one wanted to believe their fancy sports cars were fried up on the roof and they certainly weren't going to take the word of a scrawny girl. If Jace hadn't been there—the edge apparent to everyone—Ari wasn't sure how many lives would have been lost in the skies that night.

As it was, Eila called down to Building Security right away to let them know that a party had been disrupted by the storm and that there were extra guests staying the night. Some were allowed to seek proper beds in other apartments, thanks to friendly neighbors and even a number of friends. Others, however, chose to continue a quieter version of the night in Eila's penthouse. Neither Ari nor Eila could care less, so long as they were all safe.

Even more unexpected than the storm, however, was Eila's reaction to learning that Ari had been on the roof. Eila had always been easy to forgive, no matter what Ari said to her out of anger. But this was the fastest turn-around Eila had ever had and Ari soon found herself calming her friend down, rather than needing to be calmed down herself.

When, at last, everyone was sufficiently at ease, Ari realized that Jace had disappeared. But for the next four hours, she knew exactly where to find him.

Now, as the last of the lightning rolled off far into the distance, Ari picked her way through the apartment to the refrigerator. Retrieving two bottles of water, she slipped out into the eerily silent hallway. She was sure Jace would like to know that his vigil was finally over.

*

"Mind if I sit down?" Ari murmured, holding out a water bottle to the figure slumped against the wall.

Jace glanced up with blue eyes that held only a little of the night's exhaustion in their clear depths. Taking the bottle silently, he nodded his head in invitation and Ari sunk to the floor beside him. Ironically, after the incident on the roof, the edge that clung to him no longer seemed to bother her. She knew its intent, now, and could almost pretend that it was the magnification of a different quality.

As if on cue, both of them cracked open the water bottles and put the opening to their lips. A few trickles slid down their throats before they simultaneous lowered them, recapping them silently. Only once the bottles rested on either side of them did Jace turn his head in order to study her. Ari pretended not to notice.

"The storm is over," he finally stated.

Ari nodded but chose not to say anything. Even whispering was too loud for the building. Only the tiniest hum of the generators could be heard in the walls, vibrating against their backs. She could just imagine how loud it would seem in the stairwell behind the steel door to Jace's left.

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