Chapter 2

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Tending to the garden was a surprisingly taxing job. Jaren finished plucking a bunch of weeds and took a large sip from the canister that he had attached to his hips. He sent a silent thanks to the creator of the technology that kept his drinks cool and attached to his clothes for easy transportation.

"Smitty!" He looked up just in time to catch the apple flying toward his head. He noticed its green hue and immediately grinned, shoving it into his mouth. He appreciated the sour juices that assaulted his taste buds. He noticed his friends walking over and one of them pulled a face at his expression of pure pleasure.

"You could've taken my head off asshole!" There was no bite behind Jaren's words as he spoke through a mouth full of apple and his lips were pulled back in a grin. Scotty just threw his head back and laughed, blue eyes squeezing shut. Anthony, who was stood behind him, just snorted and took a bite out of his own red apple. Jaren glanced at the fruit in offense, never really having liked the sweeter color, he was perfectly content with his green apple, thanks. "They let the orchards out early?"

"Crazy right?" Scotty dropped onto the ground and started playing with some of the discarded weeds. Jaren popped a squat next to him and pulled up the last of the annoying plant, sighing when he was finally done.

After a long day of work he had finally finished his row. The field itself was comprised of over 200 carefully aligned rows and one person was set to tend to a row a day. You weren't supposed to leave the fields until you were done and you were supposed to just sit wherever you were when it was time for a break.

"What's this?" Jaren tilted his head to see what Scotty was holding and sighed. "Is this what I think it is?"

Scotty ran his fingers over the wooden spade and looked up curiously. It was thick and a dark mahogany color, with a hole screwed into the top so it could be slipped onto a string. It was hard to make out, but when Scotty turned it over he could see the large, intricate E carved onto the back. Scotty blinked in surprise.

"If you're thinking it's a spade necklace you'd be correct." Jaren plucked it from his friend's hands and put it into his pants pocket. He had yet to find a string for it. He glanced at the heart on Scotty's wrist and the club on Anthony's throat.

"Isn't that a little dangerous? Anthony asked gently, leaning down to put a warm hand on Jaren's shoulder.

"It's my reminder," Jaren said simply, and before they could continue asking questions, their communicators buzzed. They looked at the message in surprise before quickly gathering their belongings and jogging back to base camp.

Newcomer inbound, get back to base.

"How long has it been since we got any newcomers?" Jaren glanced at Chrissy and shrugged, playing with the spade in his pocket. He chewed on his bottom lip as he traced the E on the side, it was oddly calming.

"It's been a few years," Toby piped up from the back of the group. Fitz was stood up front, hand resting on the gun at his hip. Jaren was supposed to back him up if things went sour, but he still itched for his own weapon which was, unfortunately, hidden in his tent.

Everyone stood tensely for the next few minutes when suddenly someone stumbled forward, into the open.

He landed in a heap on the dirt and coughed a few times. He wore a simple sweatshirt, camo pants, and beat up tennis shoes. His clothing was ripped and tattered, as if they had never been well taken care of.

He had long, silver hair and pale skin that seemed to resemble that of a china doll. His chest heaved and his entire body shook.

"Who are you and how did you find us?" The boy froze and slowly lifted his head. A gasp rippled through the crowd when his eyes fluttered open to show crystal blue irises and diamond shaped pupils.

"The fuck is a diamond doing outside city limits?" Fitz stepped in front of Mason protectively and raised his gun, finger brushing the trigger. Jaren felt a lurch in his stomach when those diamond eyes widened in panic. Something deep inside him screamed for him to move forward and protect this stranger from a bullet to the head courtesy of his leader. The feeling made him wildly uncomfortable.

The diamond boy simply froze, tears rolling down his cheeks in quick succession. He carefully sat back on his calves and moved to tuck a strand of hair behind his ear, but stopped when Fitz brandished the gun at him.

"Who are you and how did you find us?" Fitz repeated, voice dangerously low. The boy licked his lips, watery eyes still flickering from person to person. They caught on Jaren for a moment and he felt his heart flutter dangerously, but the boy's eyes flicked away as quickly as they'd come and the feeling diminished.

"My name is... Kryoz. I-I was told by a club named Ryan about this place. He said...he said I'd be safe here?" Fitz hesitated and lowered his gun, but Jaren knew he'd be able to fire it quick if the need arose. "P-Please...I have nowhere else to go."

The boy-Kryoz as he'd introduced himself- dropped his head and his shoulders sagged. Jaren could hear his soft sniffles and looked away. Seeing someone so beautiful cry sent a weird feeling shooting through him that he couldn't describe. What the hell was going on with him?

"I'll entertain it. Follow me, you have ten minutes to convince me to let you stay." Mason let out a noise of protest but Fitz had already spun on his heal and started toward his tent.

The diamond boy looked up in shock, mouth parting and eyes widening. Fitz sent him one look over his shoulder and he was scrambling to follow. Jaren watched him go, part of him hoping that Fitz would let the guy stay.

The next ten minutes were full of tense silence as everyone waited for the two to leave the tent. Jaren found himself smoothing over his spade charm to get off all of the splinters. It felt like hours before Fitz finally stepped out and addressed the group, eyes searching each face.

"Guys, welcome Kryoz, our newest member. You will treat him just as you'd treat each other. If I find any of you treating him poorly you'll be working in the fields for the next two months." Jaren was surprised, he'd never seen Fitz achieve this level of seriousness before.

Fitz walked over and crouched down in front of Jaren, lips pressed in a thin line. He knew he wasn't going to like what was going to be said even before Fitz opened his mouth.

"I need you to let him stay with you." Jaren blanched and immediately began to shake his head. He only stopped when he saw the earnest look on his leader's face. This wasn't a joke, this was serious.

"His story isn't mine to tell. Hell, I don't even know the half of it, I'm sure, but I trust you most out of everyone here. He doesn't need to be alone right now."

"Fitz..."

Jaren looked away, then at the guy peaking his head around Fitz's shoulder. He had a dark blush coating his cheeks and a mole just above his lip. He also had a bruise under his left eye that Jaren hadn't noticed before. He bit his lip and lifted his hand in an awkward wave, much to Jaren's amusement.

"Fine," Jaren whispered, turning his head to look Fitz in the eye, "he can stay with me."

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