-Chapter Two: The Moth and the Flame-

Rushing to the scene of the conflagration as soon as Max was safely set up in a crosshatch generator, Jake watched silently as Edison, Theora, and Murray each hugged Bryce.

"Hey!" he laughed. "Hands off my boyfriend."

"Oh, really?" Edison teased, tousling Bryce's hair. "Well, you are cute, kid."

"Cute?!" Bryce asked. "Never mind how 'cute' I am. What happened here?"

"The fire started on the same level as your studio. Is it possible that...?"

"No, any fire in my lab would've been instantly contained. It wouldn't have made it past the fireproof doors or walls. "

"How would a fire set in the hallway affect your lab?" Theora asked.

"I would've probably been roasted alive," Bryce admitted. "That's the only problem I haven't been able to figure out, much as I hate to admit it."

"That and the basics of sex," Jake smirked.

"What is so important about the basics of sex?" Bryce demanded, looking affronted.

"Later, you two," Murray warned. "We have to figure out who started the fire on Level 13, and more importantly why it was started."

"Right," Bryce agreed. "I'd go up to my lab under normal circumstances. But my system's probably been wiped by now from overheating."

"I've got a pretty impressive system myself," Jake mentioned.

"Really?" Bryce asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Bryce?" Theora asked, eyeing Jake suspiciously, "can I see you for a moment?"

Bryce nodded and joined Theora for a quiet chat that lasted a few minutes before Bryce shrieked "HE WANTS TO DO WHAT?!"

"And the penny drop-drop-drops," Max commented with his usual glitch.

Bryce turned full glare onto Jake, who smiled winningly back at him, and walked over to him. "Look, Jake. I think we need to concentrate on the fire at the network right now. After that, we'll see what happens."

"Right," Jake agreed. "So, have you ever done offsite work before?"

Bryce smiled as he remembered. "Edison," he said, joining the reporter and the others, "Let's go to your place. We can access the grid from there."
"Good idea," Edison agreed.

They piled into Theora's pickup, Edison and Theora in the cab. Bryce, Jake, Murray, and Cheviot sat in the back.

"Truck beds aren't very comfy," Jake pointed out. "Why don't you sit in my lap, Bryce?"

"Why don't you just pass me that blanket over there to sit on and keep your mind on the business at hand?"

"I can't help it," Jake said, "danger brings out the animal in me."

"Well, try to help it," Murray warned, "or I'll have you neutered."

"Warning understood," Jake said, sitting next to Bryce and trying to be more subtle.

When the group reached Edison's condo, they climbed out of the truck and went inside. Bryce had almost made it to the door, when Jake stopped him.

Pulling Bryce into his arms, he removed Bryce's glasses and gazed directly into his eyes. "A taste of things to come," he whispered, kissing Bryce unexpectedly.

Bryce let out a low growl in rage and slapped Jake across the face.

"That's for stealing my first kiss," he said, storming inside and slamming the door, which he locked before Jake could enter.

"Okay," Edison, he said, trying not to show how flustered he was at he moment, "let's link up your computer to the main grid."

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