Author: DarkXLight PM
Sequel to Feathers. Nothing can be simply explained here in the Neutral World. Like dreams, things are not always what they seem. It is a place of redemption and second chances, or to some it may be considered Hell. Slow Progress but please R & RRated: Fiction T - English - Supernatural/Romance - Chapters: 42 - Words: 74,032 - Reviews: 33 - Favs: 10 - Follows: 14 - Updated: 06-18-13 - Published: 05-03-12 - id: 3019170
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Chapter 15 - Old Habits
My mind felt blank. I knew things were happening around me, but I couldn't seem to catch on enough to really pay attention. I knew I was thinking about things, but even that I couldn't understand enough to follow. Maybe it was just a sense of sudden loss. Everything about me felt empty. As soon as the hairline that had been unbreakable through any means broke, I was taken aback when there was nothing to greet me on the other side. It was like finally finding a key to a room that had been locked so long no one could help but be curious about what was on the inside. Once the door was opened, instead of being greeting by a spectacular array of dusty treasures, you only stepped into an empty room. Some part of me I knew had been hoping for some trace of closure, but the other knew I wouldn't get it. Now as I sat in a pool of disappointed hopes, I couldn't help but wish I'd never seen the other side of that door.
I felt my still limp body being lifted. Something warm enveloped around me before I was hoisted into the air. I looked blankly to see Zenith staring down at me with concern. Sighing quietly in defeat, I leaned my head against his soft furry shoulder. Was there ever a point in defying a world of demons? Were there ever memories for me to chase? The hinges of my mind's door creaked the depressing answer.
"The girls you caught, where are they?" I heard Zan question, his voice dangerously even. Giving emphasis on the fact that he'd already broken the man's jaw.
From the corner of my eye I could see Zan was holding the fearful hunter by the collar of his shirt. The man lifted a shaky hand and pointed in the direction they'd come in. His voice coming out in painful inaudible muffles. The whites of his eyes large and scared of what would come next. After a brief exchange in looks between Zenith and Zan, he grabbed the man's jaw and he screamed out, trying to fight back futilely.
"Be still," Zan ordered with annoyance.
Gripping the man's jaw tighter and shoving it back into place quickly, making him cry out with literal tears streaming down his face from beneath his glasses. With a quick snap, Zan dropped the man to the ground. He crumpled like a doll, holding his hands to his face only to discover with surprise that his jaw was completely healed. His eyes widened in astonishment, not saying a thing as he realized no one paid him anymore attention. Quickly he scurried to his unbroken bike, roaring it to life and zoomed away into the night.
"Lookie, lookie! I found food!" a happy Luido suddenly screamed. He and Cinna raided the saddlebags on the bikes to find bountiful amounts of assorted foods no doubt as the reward for turning in Bliss and Honey. Cinna munched away cheerfully on a succulent looking apple, the juices flowing down her chin, while Luido gathered what he could into one bag and hauled it over his shoulder. Both seeming undeterred by the dead bodies.
Luido came up to me and smiled kindly. "Banana?" he asked, holding up a long bowed fruit. I only stared at it, my body not my own at the moment. So I leaned my face back toward Zenith's chest, when I did Luido pursed his lips disappointedly and pulled open the skin to eat it himself.
"Are you alright?" Zenith asked, his chest rumbling from his voice.
I glanced up at him blankly before looking at my hand. It took some concentration and a few tries, but after a minute or so it finally raised and did what I wanted. The first times felt like I was a machine that needed oil, but my body went back to being mine the more I moved. When I was confident enough, I motioned for Zenith to put be down. Tightening my hands on his cloak that he'd so generously offered. My feet were unsteady at first, but it passed quickly and I was normal once more.
"Quite a defense mechanism," Zenith mused. "Though usually you run."
I rotated my shoulders, feeling the muscles tighten to normal and give me back more control. "I used to run. Sometimes I'm even able to fight," I said quietly, watching the flames of my fire smolder to nothing but burnt black rock with a little trail of smoke as the sky began to turn a lighter shade of gray with the coming morning. "But thirteen years of imprisonment by demons changes your instincts."
"What was it they called you? Butterfly?"
I tensed, feeling intense hatred for the word immediately. Zan watched me too with an unreadable stare. I looked away from him in shame. Slowly, I turned around and let Zenith's cloak slide down to my elbows to expose my shirt ripped back. Hesitantly grabbing my hair to move it aside to bare witness longer scars from whips down along my spine. But oddly it wasn't the scars that had me so disgraceful, but the black ink the was imbedded in my skin. Two long black feather tattoos flowed up and down my back, mirroring each other along my spine. My shirt had barely been enough to hide it.
"It looks like a butterfly!" Luido exclaimed with fascination before I heard his voice muffle. Quickly, I pulled the cloak back up to hide. When I turned I saw that Zenith had shoved another banana into Luido's mouth to shut him up. He looked upset at the motion, chewing reluctantly around the mouthful of fruit. "It looks pretty," he finally managed with a food stuffed smile. Dancing away before Zenith could grab him to join Cinna in more treasure hunting.
"That's not a seal?" Zenith asked cautiously, aware of the sensitiveness of the subject.
I shook my head. "I got this when I was…bought," I paused, tasting the word like poison. "It's a mark of ownership. Property."
"Of Julius," Zan's voice stated.
I snapped my head in his direction and I took in a deep breath. Slowly, I nodded. "I have been bartered and used, tortured, broken, by hundreds of bloodthirsty demons. But I would take all of them if I didn't have to be owned by-him." Unconsciously my mouth refused to say his name, like it was a bad omen, but also because I was never allowed unless given permission. Seemed old habits died hard.
This must have shocked both of them because instead of asking more questions, they were stunned to silence. Zan walked around trying to act unfazed, but I could tell he was distracted finally stood still and just stared off at nothing. Zenith didn't look at me, he just stared at the fire pit. It was just as well, I felt exasperated and nervous having let out that much.
Luido suddenly jumped in front of me with a large smile on his face. "I found you something," he chimed happily. Holding up a small bag with something that clinked around inside.
"What?" I asked, my focus coming back to me.
Still with a wide grin, he opened it and pulled out a round crystal looking ball the size of a marble. Holding it out to me expectantly like I was supposed to jump for joy about it.
"What is it?" I inspected the semi-clear sphere skeptically, taking it between my fingers. When I tried to roll it, sticky residue remained stuck to my finger from it.
"Candied sugar," he replied like he'd discovered a whole other world.
Immediately I dropped it. Wiping what was on my fingers onto my pants with disgust. When I looked up I saw Luido's expression had turned heartbroken. Instantly I tried to smile in apology to make light of the situation. "Sorry, I don't like anything sweet."
Almost as soon as the words came out I heard laughter so loud I was stunned. Turning to see Zan bending over with a wide smile across his face, holding his stomach as musical laughter flowed from his lungs. I stared at him in astonishment. Confused yet amazed and intrigued at the same time. I didn't understand why it was so funny, but felt an odd satisfaction that made me want to laugh too. I turned to see Zenith shaking his head and grinned just the same before he offered me some dry jerky Luido had given him.
"What?" I asked with slight frustration, taking the meat. Once the succulent taste splashed across my tongue, my stomach growled and I ate it as quickly as I could in reaction. It had been years since I had eaten meat, it tasted like a feast and was more filling than bread and cheese.
"I'll explain later," he replied mischievously. Extending a hand out for me to take. "Let's go find the others."
I stared at him suspiciously, glancing back at a slowly calming Zan who was wiping his eyes from laughing so hard. I couldn't deny, even with no memories behind that locked door, that there was something about these demons. Something about Luido and the way he was such an optimist despite all the pessimism. Something about Zan and the way he laughed, but seemed to hold all the pain in the world. Something about Zenith and the way he looked at me like he'd never see me again.
There was no more hidden locks anywhere in my mind, but even with this evidence I couldn't help but feel I needed to understand something. Needed to find something that was never there to begin with. So finally without any disapproving thoughts, I took Zenith's hand, no longer denying that the heat of it that melted away the cold in my fingers made me feel a little light in my stomach.