Reunion & Epilogue
Ryan couldn’t take his eyes off Josh’s form, a multitude of emotions coursing through him – hope, concern, relief, betrayal, anger. Ignoring all others, Ryan concentrated on the last one. He channeled it towards the boy standing in front of him and had it not been for Lord Brahma placing a hand on his shoulder and calming him, Ryan surely would have done something he’d regret.
On second thought, I wouldn’t have regretted it. But how is he here? And how is he even alive? Lord Brahma told… John’s shouting brought him out of his reverie and he saw the boy rushing towards Josh.
“You bastard, how dare you…,” John spat out. “After all that you’ve done, to Ryan…to Jess…How can you show your face here?
“On second thought, weren’t you dead?” he finished.
It was then that everyone noticed Josh’s haggard appearance. His skin was deathly pale and he had dark circles under his eyes that stood out under his bloodshot eyes – one of which was swollen and purple. His clothes were torn in numerous places and they could see fresh as well as dried blood sticking to them. He had several cuts, gashes and abrasions throughout his body and his once toned, athletic body was frail and malnourished.
“Correction, you really look as if death warmed you, twice over,” John added.
Josh was not paying any attention to John. He was gazing into the bluish-green eyes of his soul mate with such a passion that Ryan had to look away; tears starting to form in the latter’s eyes.
“Josh, son, what happened to you?” Lord Brahma asked. His senses could pick up that Josh was alive, barely so, but very much in the mortal plane. What He couldn’t understand was how. He had Himself seen the demise of this young man and yet he was standing in front of Him. How could this happen? Unless…
Realization dawned on Lord Brahma’s face at the same time as Josh took a tentative step forward and into the room, stumbling as his feet gave away. Lord Brahma rushed to help the gaunt frame up. Mark and Scott had also rushed forward to keep John at bay, while Jessica stood up from her seat by Ryan’s side.
“Why. Are. You. Here?” Ryan’s clenched jaw spewed the words with great difficulty, as though each word caused him great physical pain; and in reality, they did. With Lord Brahma missing from his side, the calming influence He had on him was also gone; his anger and hurt had returned with full force.
The words cut through Josh’s heart and made him wince, although nobody could see it as his face was buried in Lord Brahma’s shoulders. The Creator guided him over to the edge of the bed and made him sit down, handing him a glass of water in the process.
“Ryan, son, calm down, please,” Lord Brahma requested. “I think it’d be better if we give Josh a chance to explain first. Remember, we must not judge anyone based on the unknown.”
Ryan nodded in understanding. He had preached the same thing about his orientation to his parents and failed. It would make him a hypocrite if he didn’t practice what he used to preach. Still, this didn’t make it any easier, and he looked away; intent on making it obvious.
“Ry,” Josh rasped out in hesitation. His voice was hoarse, as though he had screamed it raw. The water had helped, but not by much. “Ry, I know you probably think that I…that I betrayed you to Lucifer.”
“Think?! Why would I think that, Josh?” Ryan sneered. Lord Brahma again kept a calming hand on Ryan’s shoulder and the boy visibly relaxed.
“Ryan, let Josh continue. I think he has something important to say,” Jessica told him. Her head was reeling, but if Lord Brahma was ready to give Josh a chance to explain, then she too was. “Josh…”
Painfully, Josh turned and looked at Jessica in gratitude, glad of her support. “Ry, it wasn’t me who did it. It was never me.”
“Oh yeah?” It was John this time. “Do you think we are fools? I was there the whole time and I saw you attack Jess. Had I not arrived on time, you would have blasted her to Hell; literally and not just figuratively.”
Josh had a look of horror on his face and he turned to Jessica, who nodded in confirmation. “John’s right, Josh. That did happen.”
“It may have, but it wasn’t me. I haven’t seen you, Ryan, since…since…er, what’s the date today?”
Everyone gave him incredulous looks but Mark spoke up, “October twenty fourth.”
Josh’s eyes widened in surprise and he drew in a sharp breath. “Since May…,” he gasped out and then mumbled under his breath, “Gosh, it’s been five months…”
“And those were five months of HELL for me!” Ryan cried out. “But how do you care? You never loved me at all. I was a mere assignment to you from Lucifer, wasn’t I?”
“Assignment? What assignment? I have always been true to you, Ryan, and have loved you with all my life. And I have been through Hell for that; and that is not a figure of speech, I really was there.”
“Now it makes sense,” Lord Brahma spoke up. He raised a hand when He was about to be interrupted and asked, “Josh, correct me if I am wrong, but judging by what you’re saying, I believe you were abducted and taken to Lucifer’s realm.”
“I was there in his ‘realm’, if you’d call it that. Personally, it was Hell.”
“Yes, mortals call it Hell. We, though, call it Patala.”
“Er…I’m sorry, but I have never seen or met you. Who are you, by the way?”
“Oh my, where are my manners? Yes, I believe we have never been introduced. I am Lord Brahma and it is a pleasure to meet you, Josh.”
Josh took the extended hand in astonishment. I am meeting the Creator!
“So, you mean to say that the Josh I have been with for the past two weeks was an imposter?” Ryan asked Lord Brahma.
“Yes, I think he was.” Lord Brahma looked at Josh for confirmation.
“Yes, his name was Trincant.”
Lord Brahma frowned upon hearing the name. “Trincant, you say? I never thought Lucifer would send in his best operative for this job.”
“You know this Trincant guy?” Jessica asked.
“As a matter of fact, yes. He is, after all, Lucifer’s son.” Lord Brahma replied.
The announcement was met with shock, which was immediately transferred into rage. Lord Brahma found Himself amidst five teenagers out of which four were insanely angry, and one was speechless. Josh, though, was calm as he knew this fact already.
“What?!” John and Scott shouted together
“I was up against him?!” Jessica said, aghast.
“Lucifer has a son?” Mark spoke up.
“I slept with Satan’s spawn?” Ryan was last.
* * *
“Hmmm…Stop it…” Ryan mumbled. “Someone might see us from down there.”
“Mmmm… But, I’m loving it,” Josh grumbled mockingly. He was hugging Ryan from behind, kissing and nibbling his neck at the same time. “God, I have missed this.”
“Speaking of God, are you okay with this?”
“What? About us being on the Council?” Josh asked and Ryan nodded. “Well, it does make me a bit queasy, but as I have always said – it is better to face your fears than to fear them.”
Ryan smiled at him. This had to be difficult for Josh and he knew it. Coming back from Patala and then getting to know your destiny as the soul mate of Pondera Custodis was not easy news to deal with for a seventeen year-old youth. Add to that the fact that Josh himself was The Ostatok – the Balance Keeper’s Balance – was taxing.
“Everything has a balance, Ryan,” Lord Brahma had told him. “For every positive, there is a negative. That is how the world functions. Good has bad, electron has proton, matter has antimatter and you…you have Josh.”
Ryan returned to the present when he felt the arms around him tighten and Josh begin to speak. “Ry, these past few months have been the worst for me, and for you. I have been through hell and back, and you…you have had Hell’s second-worst nightmare keeping you for company.
“I don’t know about you, but when I was down there, all I could think about was you. That was what kept me going. Your love gave me the strength to keep enduring everything they threw at me. I knew in my heart that no matter what, you and I were meant to be; that I will get back together with you.
“I think that is what brought me back, not my powers as Lord Brahma insisted. It…my love for you…became too much for Patala to handle and I think…no, I know that that was what ejected me from its bowels.
“Now that I am with you and knowing what I know now, I feel all the more special. Us, being soul mates. Wow!”
“Pretty incredible isn’t it? We’ve been together for all the past life cycles. It’s like we’re star-crossed lovers who chase each other through lives,” Ryan added with a smirk.
“Whatever it may be, love, I know one thing for sure,” Josh said with a contented sigh.
“And what would that be, baby?”
“That with you by my side, I can conquer even Hell.”