Callum doesn’t remember when he met Noah. Sometime after the Church got him, but before the apocalypse, but anything specific he doesn’t remember.
He doesn’t remember how they met, or when they learned eachothers names, or anything about how he and Noah became friends.
Well, ‘friends’ seemed like the wrong word. Allies, maybe. Callum found himself calling Noah his Best Friend in his head sometimes, but quickly reminded himself they weren’t even normal friends. They were allies .
The point is, sometime after the police found him and he was returned to his parents, he and Noah met eachother.
Noah was… angry. Always angry, and bitter. He didn’t shove other kids around like Callum did, but he never stopped him, usually just leaving the room for a couple minutes before coming back.
No, Noah was angry. He tried to calm down, but that never lasted for long, lashing out at others and destroying things.
A couple times at Callum, though he always apologised. Apologised and begged Callum to not leave him alone, even though Callum never gave any indication he would.
Noah didn’t like the dark. No one Callum was around did, really, not after Callum, but he never did anything to Noah, no.
He scared Noah once, during a particularly bad argument they had, Callum had shoved Noah into the hallway closet and locked him in there. He sat across the hall from the door, staying quiet. Very quiet.
It wasn’t long at all until he heard Noah crying.
He was crying, and Callum guessed he was rocking back and forth, hitting the back of his head against the wall, and saying to himself “Not again, not again, please, not again.”
Callum let Noah out after that, and was shocked to find Noah wasn’t angry at him. Just scared.
He clung onto Callum’s arm and asked him not to leave him alone.
Noah didn’t like the dark. And he especially didn’t like being left alone.
So when the apocalypse hit and Callum couldn’t find Noah anywhere on Night Street, he guessed he would be in the fog, lost and alone.
He felt… bad, really. He didn’t want to leave Noah alone. He considered a couple times trying to go find Noah but he couldn’t get far out of Night Street before he felt sick and he had to go back.
So when there came a knock at his front door and he opened it to find Noah, looking distressed, holding a small flame in his hands, barely enough to light up the area around them, Callum was more than surprised. Surprised, but extremely relieved.
Noah put out the flame and held onto Callum’s arm until it went numb and Callum had to pry him off. Neither of them had asked what had happened to the other while they were separated.
Noah didn’t ark about the dark tear marks stained into Callum’s face, and Callum didn’t ask Noah about the fire.
Unsurprisingly, there was very little to do in the apocalypse, especially in this domain. Callum didn’t want to leave Noah alone for too long, because he always got really upset, and while the fear fueled Callum, he felt bad for making the closest thing he had to a friend upset.
The other kids got a small break, then, and Callum would stay with Noah, because he couldn’t just bring Noah with him, no, he’d stick out like a sore thumb with all the glowing, as faint as it was.
Noah never seemed bothered with nothing to do other than talk, and even then the things to talk about ran out rather quickly. But he was never bothered just sitting in the living room, not doing anything, doing fine as long as he wasn’t alone.
So, once again, during a moment when Callum was so incredibly bored, he tried to scare Noah. Just a little bit, really, nothing bad.
He tried to think of what could scare Noah for a little while, just staring at his
friend ally’s face. He didn’t want to go overboard, Noah might leave him. He didn’t want Noah to leave him. Keep it simple.
“You’re staring agai-”
Noah immediately cut himself off as sharp spikes emerged from the shadows around him. Callum could tell he’d hit something bad by the way Noah reacted, such a large amount of pure fear was bad.
Noah looked just like the other kids did in that moment. Scared. Weak. He didn’t look like Noah anymore, even, curled up on himself out of reflex and his eyes squinched shut, close to tears. He didn’t look angry. He just looked scared.
And then it was gone, Noah took a deep breath, cutting through the silence, then sat normally, legs crossed, looking at Callum with the same angry expression he always wore.
“There is nothing you can do that will replicate what’s already been done, Callum.” Noah said. He could tell Callum knew he had fucked up big time, staring wide-eyed at Noah, waiting for… something.
After a couple minutes, Noah stood, walked around the spikes, careful not to touch them, and left. The door shutting never seemed so loud.
He would never tell anybody, not ever. Callum would never tell anybody that he shut himself in his room, hid in a corner, and cried until he felt… empty. Angry. He’d never feel better , he was sure of it then. He was just angry.
Angry at himself for driving the closest thing he had to a friend anymore away.
It could’ve been a couple hours or it could’ve been a couple days before Callum had to get up and do his job. Really he didn’t need to do much anymore, everyone was scared on their own and he was fed by that, but he was the ruler of this domain of the Dark, and everyone was more scared when he got involved.
One house, two houses, three, four. Callum doesn’t know how many kids he had found and scared, sending monsters chasing after them or calling monsters to their hiding spots.
It wasn’t until he was about to call the monsters to Caitlin’s new hiding spot he found Noah again. Or, rather, Noah found him, opening the door to Caitlin’s room and burning out the monsters with the same green and golden fire he had been holding when he first showed up on Callum’s doorstep.
Callum didn’t go out to meet him, ask him where he was. He just fell back into the shadows, finding himself back in his own house, standing in the living room, staring blankly at the coffee table.
Had Noah even left Night Street? Or had he been out there the entire time, burning out the darkness Callum had sent after everyone else?
He thought back, and there were less monsters chasing after Jack this time when Callum went to tell him about a new one. And the street did smell faintly of ash, and some other disgusting burnt smell, but Night Street had adopted weirder features at times to match the children’s fears as they changed ever so slightly.
He lurked in the deeper shadows, following the scent of fire. He followed the smell for heaven knows how long, and finally it led to Noah, sitting, burning in the middle of the street, flames rising up around him but never touching the houses.
Callum stood a great distance away from the flames, the light killing the shadows he was hiding in as soon as they met, and he noted that the fear here was… less. Noah really had been playing hero.
It took Callum a moment to realize Noah wasn’t just sitting, being a torch, he was rocking back and forth, arms wrapped around his knees, shaking slightly.
Callum watched for a while. He saw the flames die out, leaving Noah faintly smoking and glowing, unharmed by his own fire, then he saw Noah stand and run. Run to a new place where there was screaming, where his light didn’t touch.
He followed, and saw Noah was still scared.
He realized Noah had decided to do this because if he had to be alone, he would at least be helpful. And maybe to spite Callum a little bit.
After who knows how long of this game, Callum creating more monsters, more shadows than ever, Noah burning them out, following a trail of screams, the loneliness finally got to Noah, and he simply opened to door to Callum’s house and walked in, sitting between the coffee table and the couch, just like he always did.
Why he didn’t just pick another child on Night Street to befriend, Callum really won’t ever know. He’s not even sure Noah knows. The aspect of familiarity may have had something to do with it, but neither of them brought it up.
Callum apologised, and Noah simply nodded and asked him to please not do that again. The house seemed just slightly less dark, and Callum never called the spikes up to Noah again.
Noah was… tired. He looked pale, and his eyes drooped, and he acted like any tired person would, mind and body slowing.
He seemed duller in color, and sometimes Callum found him wrapped up in a blanket, though where on earth he got it Callum would never know, because it certainly wasn’t his.
“Sleep.” Callum said, and Noah’s eyes shot open, taking a moment to rise from the floor to Callum.
“I can’t.” Noah said, then yawned. Then Callum yawned, and glared at Noah, which brought out a weak laugh. Callum smiled, then remembered he was supposed to be serious and threatening, and then stopped smiling, which got Noah to laugh again.
After a couple minutes, Callum tried again.
“Why can’t you sleep?” He asked, and Noah looked at him in an odd way. Like he should know, but also something else Callum couldn’t figure out.
“It’s the apocalypse? No one here can sleep.” Noah said, then buried his face in his blanket for a moment. He looked back up at Callum after a couple seconds.
“No one here gets tired either.” Callum points out, and Noah looks like he’s efficiently been caught. What Callum has caught he has no idea, though.
“Hm… I think I will still Not Sleep.” Noah says, doing the Important Voice for a moment, and then nodding.
“But if you do need to sleep then why?” Callum asks, scooting closer to the coffee table. He had tried to keep his distance from Noah since he came back, but he knew it wasn’t good for either of them.
“I don’t need to sleep.” Noah says, and yawns again, and then Callum tries and fails to fight off a yawn, bringing out another laugh from Noah.
“Okay, first off, bullshit.” Callum says, and Noah looks at him expectantly for a couple seconds.
“Second off?” Noah asks, his tone slightly teasing, knowing Callum probably only had the one thing.
“Second off I hate you, you know I picked that up from you.” Callum says, and Noah laughs, nodding along.
It was quiet for a couple minutes after Noah stopped laughing.
“I’m not tired I’m just…” Noah trailed off, struggling o find the right word to finish his sentence.
“So you are one of the fire people!” Callum says, pointing at Noah like he’s discovered something.
“No, I’m not… Well I guess I am… Wait no …” Noah struggled with this for a moment, contradicting himself every couple seconds as he thought of a new point. Callum struggled not to laugh.
“You okay over there?” Callum asks after this has gone on just way too long. Noah nodded.
“I’m a fire person just not… I’m not one of The Fire People.” Noah says, and then nods like that made sense, and then Callum nodded like that made sense, even though he had no idea what Noah was talking about.
“My mom was though. Desolation, I think it’s called?” Noah says after a couple seconds.
“You have a mom?” Shouldn’t have been the first thing out of Callum’s mouth but it was. Noah laughed again, this one loud and joyful instead of the quiet laughter he had before, which surprised Callum.
He doesn’t think he’s ever seen Noah laugh like this, actually.
“I have like… Three moms, actually! I don’t know where two of them are in this hellscape of a new earth but my… biological … mother… She’s one of the Desolation people, though not one of the cultists.” Noah says, his tone odd around ‘biological’ like that wasn’t entirely correct, which is an entire can of worms Callum wasn’t going to open right now.
“Oh, the fire guys have a cult now?” Callum asks, and Noah nods.
Callum paused to think back to if he’d ever heard about this before. He had not.
“Since when ?” Callum asks, and Noah just shrugs.
“I didn’t know about it until the apocalypse started and I landed in the fire place next to mom.” Noah said, and Callum laughed a bit.
“The fire place. Like some Harry Potter shit?” Callum said, and Noah rolled his eyes.
“Callum Brodie shut the fuck up challenge.” Noah says before sinking further into his blanket.
“Noah Mercay go to sleep challenge.” Noah throws a pillow at him hard for that one.
And so it continued on like normal for a while. Noah grew more tired, Callum tried to fix it, though he didn’t have much to fix it with. Callum kept on scaring the other kids.
It wasn’t until the knock on Callum’s door anything changed. Callum opened the door to find the eye guy there, a group of teenagers running around on the street behind them, using what little light they had to play what looked like a game of tag.
Callum looked back at Noah for a second, but Noah didn’t seem to care, and the Eye guy didn’t seem to care about Noah either.
When Callum shut the door when The Archivist was done with him, Noah wasn’t there.
It took him a moment to find him, first looking through the house, and then realizing he could’ve gotten outside in the .4 seconds Callum wasn’t around the door and Callum just didn’t notice.
When Callum cracked his door open again to find Noah sitting next to a boy looking up at the eyes and talking about stars, his blood ran cold, and then he got very angry. Had he done something? Was Noah leaving him again, going to travel with The Archivist?
Could he go with them too?
He watched from the depths of the shadows as The Archivist made a statement, Noah listening to the boy with the stars in his eyes.
Noah made no indication he was going to return to Callum’s house. Callum did not like that.
But what could he do without the Archivist seeing him? Nothing. The Archivist could probably see him now, though there was no light where he was hiding. So he just lurked in the shadows, and he watched.
When the Archivist was done with the statements, a discussion broke out on if they could help. Noah remained silent, though it was clear he was listening.
Callum wondered if he could still burn the darkness away without burning himself out completely. What would happen if Noah did that? Would he die?
Finally Noah stood.
“I can help.” He said, and Callum stopped listening then. He stopped listening and went far away from The Archivist, and Noah, and everyone else The Archivist had brought along, hiding himself in a small room in a house he did not know.
There was a child in this house, yes, but Callum wasn’t going to torment them. He just needed to be alone right now.
No. He needed Noah to stay with him, being alone is the last thing he needs, not now. But Noah was gone.
Callum couldn’t bring himself to stay away for long, going back after just a moment. Not revealing himself just simply watching.
The Archivist talked about a child somewhere on Night Street, telling what they had been through, and what Callum had to do, whether he had visited them recently or not, and then Noah would go find them, burn the darkness away from them, and bring them back to where The Archivist and his class was.
Callum followed Noah, noting how the fire wasn’t as bright as it was, how he stumbled and tripped up more often, not lighting up entire areas of Night Street, simply going to get the one child out, and then another.
After the twelfth child, Noah collapsed, and Callum nearly ran out to check on him. Nearly. He doesn’t know what stopped him, but Noah got up a couple seconds later, struggling to stay awake, but swearing he was fine.
The Archivist was silent for a moment, then asked Noah if he would like to join them, offering a hand to help Noah up.
Noah looked to Callum’s house, looking around to see if he could see him.
When Noah didn’t find Callum hidden in the darkness, he took The Archivist’s hand, and then they left.
And when Noah left, Callum sat between the coffee table and the couch, and he buried his face in his knees, but he didn’t cry.
He tried his best not to cry, anyways.
He doesn’t know when he got up, or when he started following The Archivist’s group. But he was there for a while, watching the teenagers try to keep the younger kids they had taken off Night Street in check.
It took him a couple seconds to find Noah, who was clinging onto the older blonde girl’s arm for support. She didn’t seem to mind.
Callum could only follow them so far before the darkness let up and gave way to what could’ve been called sunlight, if the sun was still a thing. Light peeking through the cracks in the sky between the eyes, and the eyes glowed brighter here anyways, leaving an odd red and green light splayed across the neutral area between domains.
Where the light started, the shadows stopped, and there left little place for Callum to hide. Noah looked back a couple times, but never went to go back to Callum’s house. He just kept on walking with The Archivist and his class.
Callum had to go back eventually, and he was alone.
He didn’t like being alone.
Not at all.
Noah was startled but not really surprised when Callum came crashing into him, clinging onto his arm for a second before Jon turned his head to look at him with an amused smile. Callum still kept his arm looped around Noah’s.
“Callum, I see you’ve decided to join us.” The Archivist said, tone amused.
“Yeah. Heard you were gonna kill a guy, thought that’d be cool to see.” Callum says, using the first excuse that popped into his head.
Noah laughed, and as Callum looked back to him, he noticed Noah looked less tired. Less burnt out.
Maybe if Callum had looked around a little more, he would’ve seen one of the teenagers from The Archivist’s Class looking down at a couple shards of broken pink plastic in her hand with a bewildered expression on her face that the blonde girl Noah was clinging onto earlier was laughing at.
Maybe if he looked a little harder he would’ve figured out it had been a lighter.
Callum didn’t look around, though. The light was hurting his eyes after being in the dark for so long, and given what he was he doesn’t think that’ll change anytime soon.
And he had Noah. He wasn’t alone.
That was good enough.