|Half Way Out of the Dark
Author: Rue Keeper PM
In a world where the term 'half way out of the dark' is a very literal thing, one woman fights the monsters she knows only as 'shadows' to keep the populace safe. Her world is forever trapped in darkness and once a year the citizens put their names in with the 'counters' as they try to get out of the dark, and into the light of the world above. She is a Keeper. She is Light.Rated: Fiction T - English - Fantasy/Drama - Chapters: 2 - Words: 7,161 - Reviews: 2 - Favs: 1 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 12-13-12 - Published: 12-10-12 - id: 3081997
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
HALF WAY OUT OF THE DARK
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Kuni was gone when I got home, I had known that he would be, but part of me had hoped he would stay. A foolish wish for someone like me. Sighing I pulled off my protective and somewhat shredded gear, wincing as I irritated my injuries.
"God I hate this job," I mutter under my breath.
"Pretty good at it though," I heard Kuni comment. My head turned so fast I got a bit of whiplash, I groaned from the added pain and held my head. It didn't stop me from staring at the man standing in my doorway looking very worried.
"I thought you'd left," I said stupidly. The pain was obviously dulling my wit, I should have been able to come up with something better than that. He smiled at me and held up a medium sized paper bag.
"I saw you get injured and I couldn't find a decent emergency kit in here so I went out and bought one," he explained as he closed the door. Oh yes, Kuni is without a doubt, my hero. I smiled at him gratefully.
"I guess I forgot to buy a new one after my last job," I admitted. Kuni sat beside me on the bed and pulled out the kit and other things he'd bought to help with patching me up. Hard liquor was one of them. My eyebrow raised in question as I eyed the alcohol and Kuni grinned at me.
"I figured you'd probably need a drink after all that blood and death, plus it'll help with the pain and I can use it as an antiseptic," he said seriously. However the last few words caused him to grin at me again and I couldn't help but grin right back.
"I do, believe me, specially considering you're actually still here…." I said, as I was still slightly bewildered as to why that was. Kuni smiled warmly at me and walked over to the kitchen to grab me a glass and then poured the booze into it silently. I watched him, curious, part of me wondering if I was just so damn injured I was hallucinating that he was here with me.
"I don't scare that easy, Light, you know that," he answered as he handed me the glass. I downed the amber liquid in one go and winced as the action irritated the injuries I'd sustained in the battle down town. "I would like a bit of an explanation though," he added. I looked up and grimaced at him, but Kuni didn't flinch. Instead he helped me pull off my leather jacket so he could have a better look at the damage.
"The more you know the more danger you'll be in," I warned him quietly. Kuni just snorted at me and had me turn slightly so he could get a better look at my side where the Shadow had taken a swing at me as that was the most pressing injury I had.
"Don't care," he told me shortly. The tone of his voice told me one thing, I wasn't getting out of telling him, not after this. I sighed and glanced at him, he was frowning worriedly at my side and I grimaced again.
"That bad?" I asked with some humour. Kuni looked up at me and frowned openly at my face.
"With this much blood pouring out of you, you should be dead Light, or at least passed out somewhere and dying," I raised an eyebrow at his appraisal.
"Wow, maybe I am a super hero," I joked. Kuni just continued frowning at me and I sighed, "is there enough meat left down there to sew me up?" I asked bluntly. Kuni blinked and looked back at the torn skin and shook his head slowly.
"I don't think so, not with me not having sewn anyone up before and you unable to see the injury itself properly," I sighed again.
"I was afraid you'd say that," I said tiredly. This was going to hurt more than sewing me up would have. Not to mention this time I was going to have an audience this time.
"Why?" he asked worriedly.
"Because it means I have to do something I really hate doing," I told him as I stood up slowly. My body shook, the injuries were now taking their toll now the adrenaline in my system was dissipating.
"Which would be?" Kuni asked quickly. He was following me to my wardrobe, staying at my side in case I passed out. This was likely and personally I was surprised I hadn't yet, the way I was feeling I only had a few minutes left to do what I had to or Kuni was going to pick me up and take me to the hospital. I wouldn't like that very much. I don't like doctors and I don't trust them. The fact that I was dating a med student made the whole thing ironically annoying. Though in my experience, irony usually was annoying.
"I know a little healing spell-type-thing, it just takes it outta me and I hate magic-type-things in general as they aren't usually safe," I told him quickly. I pulled things out of the way and pushed everything aside in my wardrobe to reveal a large seal painted on the back of it. A family heirloom, one of the few I had left or still worked.
"Magic?" I could hear the dubious tone of voice emanating from my hero, but I didn't have the time to explain now. My vision was getting blurry and darker by the second, which was my cue to hurry my arse up.
"Later, okay? When I'm not dying all over my apartment," I told him breathlessly.
"Light?" I could hear him vaguely. Not good.
I slammed my hand on the seal forcefully and said the single word to cause it to activate.
A bright light shone from the seal, engulfing my barely conscious form as I passed out from the exertion of the spell and the injuries that I was sporting. I heard Kuni call for me, but his voice was far away and distorted; before I fell into the waiting darkness of sleep I forced out some very important words as loudly as I could muster, "no hospital, I'll be fine," before collapsing entirely. I imagine at this point Kuni was more or less freaking out over be no longer being conscious, but it's not like I could actually help it, I had been dying after all.
When I opened my eyes again I was lying in my bed, the right way round and all. I groaned in pain, I really hate using magic, blasted stuff always comes with a price and usually not a pleasant one.
"Light? Are you okay?" Kuni was at my side within moments. I grimaced at him as I tried to sit up, but he stopped me in my tracks and pushed me back down gently.
"Ugh, I'm fine," I muttered in annoyance. I wouldn't admit that I was relieved that I was allowed to rest for a bit, though I doubted he'd hold back with the questions. "How long was I out for?" I asked after a moment. It was Kuni's turn to grimace it seemed.
"Two days, I had to call in sick to work so I could keep an eye on you," he told me. I can imagine my eyes getting rather large as I looked at him at this point, I hadn't been expecting either of those. I must've been bad to be out that long, but for him to stay even through work. I had to swallow a few times and look away from his face to stop myself from tearing up, I was not going to cry now.
"Thanks," I managed to choke out. I felt Kuni's hand on my head as he gently stroked my hair, it was things like this that made me conscious of how much the man meant to me. I wondered if he would stay even after I explained what I am and what I do. I hope he would.
"I just made a stir fry if you feel up to eating," he offered quietly. I smiled up at him and nodded, I was starving.
"Sounds good," as Kuni went to dish up the food I carefully pulled myself into a seated position. I looked around my small apartment, seeing plenty of my blood all over the place. Though it seemed Kuni had attempted to clean it up a bit looking at the smeared floor, though it didn't seem to have gone too well. Not surprising, my blood wasn't like a normal humans after all.
"Here," I started when Kuni offered me a bowl of mainly rice, vegetables and meat. Smiling gratefully I took the bowl and started devouring the food. "Hey! Come on Light, go easy!" Kuni complained as he watched me scarf down the meal he'd made us. I grinned at him with a mouth full of food and then went back to my bowl. I heard Kuni sigh at my terrible eating habits, but he made no other attempts to stop me. He probably knew it was futile, I was starving and he'd given me a bowl full of great tasting food. What did he expect to happen?
Within five minutes I let out a satisfied sigh and put the bowl aside with a rather loud burp punctuating the silence that stretched across my small home. I coughed, knowing Kuni wouldn't have appreciated that.
"Scuse me," I said with a twinge of embarrassment. I looked to Kuni who appeared to be smiling to himself as he shook his head, though he didn't look up from his nearly empty bowl. I waited then, waited for him to finish and the questions to begin. And for us to most likely end.
It didn't though, that was what surprised me. Kuni asked the most obvious questions first, they were the easiest ones to answer truth be told. When he asked 'what the hell were those things you were fighting?' I told him the honest truth as far as I knew. They were Shadows, things that devoured humans, hunted them even. That they came in many shapes and sizes and they were all deadly. The next was a little harder, being that of 'why were you fighting them?' I think I sighed at that question. It really is a doozy that one. I remember asking my mother that once, a long, long time ago. She'd smiled down at me and stroked my hair, I didn't realise till later why she seemed so damn sad when she'd answered. 'Because no-one else can'. This is what I answered Kuni's question and my answer was just as sad as mothers had been. Now I understood completely. She hadn't wanted too either, she wanted to spend time with me as I do with Kuni. We both knew better, that was the problem.
When Kuni asked me 'why?' I sighed again. I told him about the Keeper family curse, how we could see them, how I see the world around us and how much I wished I didn't have to. I could see the worry in his eyes grow with every word that poured from my lips, but he didn't falter or run away, he just sat beside me and asked more questions and listened to me thoughtfully. Yes, I truly adore this man. No doubt about it. I'd be the first to admit to how much his presence in my life has changed me. I don't smoke half as much as I used to, him being a med student and all. I don't drink as much either, and that's saying something. The biggest change though, strangely, was that there weren't as many jobs showing up for me these days.
"How often do you go out?" Kuni asked me suddenly. I looked at him and frowned, it was like he'd pulled the thoughts from my mind.
"Actually, that's the weird thing, since meeting you I've had one job a month if that," I admitted. It worried me the more I thought about it, sure I'd noticed the pickings had been slim lately and I was only fighting one breed of Shadow, but I guess part of me had been happy to not have to go out nearly every night as I used to.
"Really?" Kuni seemed surprised at this and I shrugged.
"Yeah, it's been bugging me a bit, but honestly it meant I could spend more time with you so I didn't mind so much," I shifted uncomfortably. I didn't like how venerable I felt right then, it made me shifty. Glancing at Kuni I caught sight of a quietly happy smile playing on his lips and a pang of guilt smacked me across the mouth. I had been selfish, I should have been looking into the quietness of the Shadows, not playing house as I had been. Still, it had been worth it, at least from my point of view.
"I'm glad to hear that," he told me slowly. I was surprised when an arm wrapped around me and pulled me closer, I smiled to myself and allowed us both this small moment before more questions came to him. "It looked easy," he said suddenly. I blinked, not expecting to hear something like that at this point.
"Because it was, relatively anyway," I answered carefully. I could tell by his silence he wanted to hear more so I elaborated. "Those Shadows I was fighting, they were the lowest on the totem pole and also the most common. I've been fighting them for years, I know how they operate," I hoped this was enough to satisfy him. Kuni remained silent, though I could feel him playing with my hair as he considered what I'd told him.
"Are there usually so many?" he asked after another moment. I shook my head quickly, this one was easy.
"No, there aren't, usually it's one maybe two, never five and never so many swarming above either," immediately I wished I'd stopped before mentioning the swarm. It brought back that problem to the forefront of my mind and made Kuni's worry grow as he could tell I suddenly wanted to run out the door. His grip on me tightened and I sighed. "Sorry," I told him quietly.
"If you need to go you can, I'll wait," he offered. His voice was strained though and I shook my head.
"Doesn't sound like the worlds going to hell more than it already has so it should be fine for the moment," I said and wrapped one of my own arms around him to make my point. Kuni relaxed and gave me a squeeze of thanks. I owed him this much.
"I take it this is the reason you don't put your name in?" he asked after a long peaceful silence between us. I sighed, one question I'd been waiting for.
"Yeah, more or less, if I'm not here then everyone will get eaten," I shrugged but didn't move from my spot against Kuni's side.
"If I'd known I was dating a super hero I would have cooked you better meals," he joked suddenly. I snorted with laughter at this, finding both points of his joke hilarious.
"Kuni, sweety, I'm not a super hero, I'm way too awesome for that, and also," I gave him a peck on the cheek, "before I met you my version of a 'home cooked meal' were tv diners if I remembered to eat at all," this made him smile broadly at me. Together we settled into a comfortable sleepy silence, happy with each others company for now.
It was a few hours later that I awoke, the television was on and the noise coming from it had woken me. Sitting up carefully I found Kuni still next to me, but watching the screen while happily chugging on a beer. I smacked his chest and gave him a look that clearly said 'where's mine?' and he ginned at me. He reached down to the floor and picked up my waiting beer, although he did amuse himself with me silently by holding the damn drink out of my reach for a little while before handing the thing over.
"Feeling better I take it," he commented on my energy. I gave him a look and had a swig of my beer.
"Much, thank you," I said grinning. I peered at the tv screen and frowned, "what are you watching?" I asked.
"Oh, it's the second night of the choosing, thought we could watch together," he smiled at me. I stared at him for a moment, trying to figure out a way to explain my habit of attending the choosings every year and why. Then my brain chose to acknowledge the word 'second' which had me sitting up in a slight panic.
"Second night?!" I exclaimed as I attempted to clamber out of bed. It didn't go so well for me as I was tangled up the bed clothes along with Kuni, who was trying to hold on to me as I struggled with him.
"Yes, Light, second, last night went off without a hitch, no killings at all," Kuni tried to calm me. He didn't know, he didn't know how this time of year worked.
"You don't understand, they mark them, hunt them!" Kuni was still trying to calm me down, it wasn't going so well for him though.
"Light, calm down," he tried.
"NO!" I said fiercely. I turned my head to look at him, my steely glare bore into his dark eyes, holding him in place. I growled at him angrily, "At this time of year the Shadows watch for those chosen and then hunt them, usually the day before everyone goes up they attack. I'm the only one standing in their way and you're trying to stop me Kuni!" I pulled myself free of his grip as he watched me in shock. I'd never raised my voice at him, not even when we fought, I'd been too laid back to do so. Now though, there were lives on the line and I did what I had to do. I grabbed a fresh pair of clothes and pulled them on quickly.
I heard a sigh behind me and turned to see Kuni getting out of bed after me and start pulling on his change of clothes from an over night bag near my bed. I raised and eyebrow at him when I caught his eye.
"Well you don't expect me to let you go alone when you're just recovering from whatever you did," before I answered him he held up a hand. "No, I don't want to know about the magic, I can only take so much at once, what you told be before, that's enough for now," he told me. I stared at him for a moment, surprised at him when I really shouldn't have been. I gave him a small nod and went back to getting ready for what I suspected would be a long night.
How right I was. For all the wrong reasons.