There's no telling how soon Micah will show up, and it'll be better to confront the problem of Avery's Midas touch sooner than later. We'll just have to be careful.
Nathan frowned, exchanging concerned looks with Alton before he knelt beside the unconscious teen and shook his shoulder. "If he touches me, you'll fix it, right?" Alton nodded quickly, clasping his hands, holding his breath in anticipation as Avery's eyes slowly opened. So far, he was calm. The waiter rubbed his head, confused, and propped himself up on his elbows while he got himself pulled together.
"I'm sorry," Alton said softly, releasing a sigh. "I didn't mean to make you faint like that. Startle you, yes, but I didn't want to hurt you."
Avery winced, turning to Nathan with his brows knotted. He pointed at Alton. "His... his arm. I... it was..."
"Gold? Yeah, and you did that." Nathan shrugged, trying to keep Avery calm. "And then he changed it back to normal and you fainted."
The teen stared at him in horror, then looked up at Alton. "What the hell?"
"It's somewhat complicated," he said, taking off his glasses and setting them on the table. "And you're not going to believe me when I tell you. Before I do, you must promise me one thing: you will remain calm."
Avery looked at Nathan again for reassurance, and only after he nodded did he turn back to Alton and say, "Okay?"
The older man smiled. "You are the host for one of the Seven Deadly Sins," he explained. "Avarice, to be exact. Covetousness. Greed. The overwhelming desire for more wealth. Naturally, it comes as no surprise that your associated power is a golden touch."
"Golden touch... but..." Avery shook his head, frowning. "This can't be real. I have to be dreaming..."
"That's what I used to think," Nathan said, patting him on the back. "But trust me; as insane as it sounds, it's real."
"Are... which Sin are you?"
Alton laughed before Nathan could answer. "Oh, he's not a Sin. He only attracts them. He is drawn to them, and likewise they are drawn to him."
"Could explain why you followed me yesterday, when you were off the clock and didn't have to," Nathan suggested with another shrug. "The less you think about it, the less your head will hurt."
"But..." Avery looked down at his hands, curling his fingers in. "I still don't understand..."
Alton drew one of the roses from the vase and walked towards him, crouching down to his level. "We're still trying to figure things out too. You're the first of the Sins to have his powers manifest, and now... well, now I have to figure out how to free you from it." He handed him the rose and smiled gently. "Micah thinks the best way to do that is to kill you."
Avery dropped the rose and it clattered to the ground, solid gold. Alton calmly picked it up and held it out to him again. "I don't agree with him. That's why I'm going to find a better way. As useful as your power may be, it has its dangers." While he said this, the rose began to change back in his hand, but the stem had withered and the petals turned brown. When he touched the flower, it crumpled and fell apart. "Few living things can survive being turned to gold, even for the briefest amount of time."
The teen began to shake, looking at his hands again. "But... but I'm a waiter. What if I accidentally touch one of my coworkers? Or a customer? Jesus Christ..."
Alton grimaced, standing up and walking back to the table. "You'll need to learn to control it. Practice. I will try to find a way to exorcise the Sin in the meantime."
Nathan forced himself to bite his tongue, remembering something that Gabriel had said: Lumiel wanted to let the Sins worked themselves out. He highly doubted Alton would be looking for a way to relieve Avery of his Sin sooner. "So," he said. "What do we do now? I mean, it's great that we know Avery is the sin of greed, but... but what do we do about it?"
"Nathan." Alton put his glasses back on. "I need you to let Avery stay with you, in your apartment. It'll be safer for him there."
"Whoa, wait, what?" Nathan stood and followed him to the table. "Look, I can see where you're going with that, but he's a teenager. I don't think his parents..."
"They won't mind," Avery said quietly, hugging his knees up to his chest. "They died almost ten years ago." He looked down at the floor and shifted uneasily. "And I... sort of live out of my backpack in the park..."
Both men exchanged confused, worried looks before turning towards the young waiter. "You're homeless?" Nathan asked, and Avery nodded. "But... how...?"
"I sneak into the high school to take a shower every now and then, and I stash what people leave on their plates when I bus the tables. In the winter, my friend Wren lets me sneak into his basement and sleep behind the washing machine." He looked up at them briefly, but looked down again, ashamed. "I have a bank account that my parents set up for me when I was a kid, and I'm trying to save up so I can afford college, but until then..."
Alton sighed and crossed his arms, looking over at Nathan with his eyebrow raised. With that information, there was no way he could say no. "Right. Well, you'll definitely be staying with me then," the writer agreed. "As soon as we finish lunch, I can take you to my apartment."
He offered his hand to Avery to help him up, but he wouldn't take it. "What if I turn you to gold?"
"Nathan," Alton said, placing his hand on his shoulder. "I can give you the ability to reverse the change, just in case, but there is a cost."
"What kind of cost?"
"I can't tell you. You just have to trust me."
Avery has to stay with me, and having the ability to reverse the things he changes would be very, very useful, but is it worth the risk? I don't even know what this cost Alton is talking about is, and I don't know if I should chance it. But what if Avery accidentally turns part of me into gold?
What should I do?