• Sam crouched near James and lightly shook his shoulder, “James, it’s time to wake up.”

    James was instantly awake, with reflexes born of months on the run. Instinctively, he rolled away from his brother's hand and sat up.

    "Sam? Any trouble?" he asked, as he did every time it was his turn to take watch. Sam was proud of the way James was always ready for action. James never complained though it was hard on them both.

    "No. We're good. Wake me before sunrise, maybe we can get across the bridge up ahead before daylight." Sam said as he lay down, he was near enough to the fire to stay warm but far enough away not to get burned. Before long Sam was asleep, didn't take much after a day of running.

    James picked up a glowing stick and held it close to his bare skin. It wasn't enough, but it would do until morning. That fire had taken a lot out of him. It wasn't hard to just discharge energy in its pure form, rather like electricity. Forming it into anything specific, however, that was hard.

    James's gift was difficult to explain. He had an intuitive grasp of the physics involved, but he would be hard pressed to explain it. He glanced over at his brother. Sam envied his power, he knew. But that envy was pretty misplaced. James constantly needed to replenish his stores, and he was dangerous to be around. Sam had lost control before, and the results had been disastrous.

    Fortunately, James always had a pretty good grip on himself. But what if he did lose control? What if he took all the energy from an object, for example? Absolute zero. Zero degrees Kelvin wasn't found anywhere. Even deep space had an average of three degrees Kelvin.

    And, he glanced back over at Sam, what if his dream came true? And he killed Sam? He didn’t think he could live with that.

    James shook his head to snap himself out of it. Eventually, a faint glow to the east alerted him it was time to wake his brother.

    "Sam. Hey. It's morning." James said from where he was. He didn’t touch Sam though, it wasn’t necessary.

    Sam rolled over and sat up. He blinked tiredly but got to his feet in moments.

    He kicked some dirt over the fire and turned to James, "All good?" He looked out over the pre-dawn landscape, he hoped not to see any movement that might be a patrol.

    James nodded.. "Yeah. Haven't heard anything all night except owls." He stood, stretching, stiff from sitting all night. "Let's get out of here. We can get something to eat in the next town."

    “Sounds good to me bro.” Sam led the way out into the chilly air and across the scraggly landscape, at one point it had been a lovely forest he was sure. Now it was just half dead trees and dried out bushes. He'd seen bridge in the distance the day before; he felt that was the right way. He'd always heard Everlough was across a huge river. This might be it.

    James followed his brother. This forest was eerie. It was so quiet, and dead. Up ahead, very faint, he could hear the sound of running water. He hoped he wouldn’t have to do any swimming. If he did he would have to wait for Sam not to be in the water, he could kill him with too much bare skin in the water.

    Sam led them to the edge of a huge river. Or at least it used to be. Now it was a narrow band of water rushing through the middle of a wide dried riverbed. Spanning that was a large bridge... A bridge to freedom.

    Unfortunately he saw that there were figures moving up and down the length of the bridge. Guards. He pulled James into the bushes and thought for a few moments.

    "James, could you make ice cover the river? Maybe we could get across before they notice." He looked at James hopefully. He had no idea if it would even work, but he was flying by the seat of his pants and it was the only plan he had.
    James glanced at his brother nervously. "O-kay..." he said.

    James crept up to the edge of the water, not sure if this was a good idea. A river seriously? A fast moving river?

    But Sam was right. Taking a deep breath, James removed his gloves and stuck his hands up to the wrists in the stream. His eyes opened wide and began to almost glow white as he absorbed the heat of the water. Even more so, however, he was absorbing the motion of the water. A film of ice began to spread from James' hands, extending across the water.

    Sam watched the ice spread, his mouth slightly open in awe. Then he glanced up to the bridge and his heart began to pound, the guards were sure to spot them any second.

    "James, you all right?" Sam looked concerned and wanted to put a hand on his brother's shoulder, but knew better.

    James shook his head abruptly. "Wait? What?" Then he snapped out of it, though his eyes were still glowing.

    "Oh!" He tried to stand. "Ah, crap." The river had frozen around his hands.
    "James?! Oh no....Crap! Are you okay?!" Sam freaked out and knelt down and looked at James' hands. And then he glanced up at the bridge again, the guards were still moving.

    But this was yet another fine mess he'd gotten them into. If only he had kept his mouth shut.

    James shook his head. "I'm fine. Just.... stuck. I should have thought of that." He moved his hands experimentally. "I think I can work myself loose."

    Sam started to kick the ice around James' hands and then stopped at the sound it made.

    But it was too late. He could see the guards running to the side of the bridge and looking down. The sun had risen just enough to belie their presence.

    Shouting up from the guards made them try even harder to get James' hands free. But they were stuck tight.

    James gave up. "Sam, get out of here. I'll be fine. They have to get me out to capture me, and I'm charged enough to take all of them. I'll meet you in Everlough."

    "I am not leaving you. We’ll get you out of here." Sam started smashing ice again, though it didn't do much good.

    "Not right away. Sam, get out of here, alright? Or so help me, if we both get captured I will shock you into oblivion." He would, too. Well, maybe not. But hopefully it would be an effective threat.

    Sam glared down at his brother and continued smashing ice, the little headway he'd made was never going to be enough but refused to let the one person he had left in this world be carried off to some prison. Most likely to be killed. That was if the guards didn't kill him on sight.

    "James, do you really think I'm going to just leave you here? I got us into this mess. There is no way I'm going to let you die for my stupidity."

    He smashed a little more ice around his hands and then looked up the slope. The guards were coming. They had guns and it was only a matter of time before they would get down there and catch them both; if they didn't decide to shoot them at long range.

    Sam's breathing quickened and he looked down at his brother. He wasn't sure he could do this, but it was better than capture......Or death.

    "James, do you trust me?" He gasped, he was starting to lose it already.

    James sighed. "Yes I trust you. I also think you should leave!" One hand was almost out. "And it was my stupidity! I was the one who froze the water around my hands! I'm the one who understands the way what I do works!"

    "I'll try not to hurt you. Or them.....too badly. I don't need another dead man on my head." Sam's hair began to float and his breathing was coming in short quick gasps. The ice around James' hands began to crack and shatter on its own sending little shards of ice everywhere, those shards floated mid-air as well. Sam was losing control again only this time he hoped to use it for their good.

    As the guards reached the edge of the riverbed they stopped as though they'd hit an invisible wall. Sam had them in his grip. Moments later the three guards were flying backwards through the air, over the bridge and down the river to where they couldn't even be seen. As they landed, the ice around James' hands shattered. Freeing him from his self-made prison.

    But Sam was having trouble reigning in his power, rocks and other loose objects were floating around him in a wide, free orbit. His own eyes glowed vivid blue as his power unveiled itself. Sam couldn't stop.

    James shook the remnants of the ice from his hands. "Sam, you did it! Let's get out of- Sam? Sam!" James stared at his brother for a moment, watching his hair float and eyes glow. He was a frightening sight.

    Finally James snapped himself out of it and he grabbed the tops of his brother's jacketed arms and shook him. "Sam! Snap out of it!" When that failed, he resorted to giving Sam the equivalent of a small electric shock.

    Sam blinked and gasped; the objects that were floating all dropped to the ground.

    "James?" He looked around and caught his breath. "Did I hurt you?" He asked looking concerned. His eyes were slowly returning to normal and his breathing slowing to a regular rhythm.

    "No," said James, "but we have to leave! Now!" His voice was urgent, on the brink of panic.

    Sam nodded, "Right, right. Let's go." He took a couple unsteady steps toward the opposite bank and nearly fell over. His power didn't take physical energy, but the mental toll was heavy. It made his responses slow and his thoughts a muddled mess.

    James reached to help his brother, saw his bare hands and stopped. "Crap!" Turning around, he seized his gloves. He yanked the gloves on and stepped forward.

    Sam waited for James to get his gloves on and then stumbled on toward the opposite bank.

    Because of his muddled state even the slight incline to the flat ground was a challenge for Sam. He reached out several times to steady himself on James' shoulder.

    James pulled up his hood and drew it tight and then placed Sam’s arm over his shoulder and put his own arm around his brother’s waist, supporting him.

    Once they got past the bridge by a few hundred feet, they could see the next town. It loomed on the horizon like an obelisk. Getting food from there without getting caught was going to be a challenge.

    "Ok, Sam, come on. As soon as we find a place, we can wait for a few hours until I can go get some food. There is no way you can keep going like this." Truth be told, James was hungry too. He didn't need to eat, as he could just skip the whole food-to-energy thing, but that didn't mean his stomach liked being empty.

    Sam, though, could starve.

    Sam had grown much thinner since they'd begun their journey and James' arm around his waist didn't have much girth to reach around anymore.

    They had both grown much leaner. But Sam had kept something from James; when they got food he would only eat as much as he needed to go on and then give the rest to James, saying he'd gotten enough.

    All the food he'd passed on was finally catching up with Sam. He was still muddled and normally he would have been back to normal. He just nodded at what James said, not really fully comprehending it. He liked the sound of food though.

    Finally, the pair reached a sheltered area of the woods. James dropped his brother's arm, helping him sit up against a tree.

    James examined him worriedly. "Man, Sam, you don't look so good. I think you overdid it back there."

    "I'm okay. Just tired. I think you're right though. I overdid it." He slurred a bit. He then started shrugging out of his jacket.

    "Why's it so hot?" It wasn’t hot in the least but Sam’s mind had gone haywire. He laid his jacket on the ground next to him and took off his shirt.

    Sam's torso, which had once been lean but strong with hard abs and muscled chest and arms, now was too lean. The abs were still there but softer and with every breath in one could see every rib in the cage. It was painfully obvious that he had not been eating anything close to what James had. Though they had supposedly been sharing everything equally.

    James looked at him. "Sam. You've been giving me too much food, haven't you?" He didn't need an answer. "Man, Sam, you know I don't need anything right? You're killing yourself!"

    Sam just shook his head. "I'm fine, really. Don't worry about me. I just gotta take care of my little brother, you never know when you might need a quick boost and you need food instead...." He wasn't making much sense and he knew it, but he couldn't make his brain snap back. He was a little better than a few minutes before, but his recovery was still slow.

    James sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "Okay, look. Stay here. Don't go anywhere."

    Of course, Sam didn't look capable of standing, much less running off. James stood and headed in the direction of the city. Occasionally he would discharge some energy so his eyes didn't stand out so much.