Jaws of Love

(Chapter 13)

By Carter Tachikawa

Michael had no idea how much time had passed since Ash's death. Not that he cared anyway. He wanted to forget the whole thing. He was half-expecting that Ash would call his cell phone, crying out of joy, and demanding to know where he was. Then he would tell her that he was fine and he would make it up to her by taking her out to her favorite sushi bar and the midnight showing of some crap movie with explosions, countless dead bodies, and cheesy romance. He would recount his entire escapade and she'd assure him that it was a bad dream. Then they would make out in the back row of the theater as the bad guy's head was blown off and his headquarters went up in a blaze.

That was what he wanted. No sooner did that vision end, the realistic one of Ash smeared in blood and guts came up. The rain, the smell, the wild look on her face…all that had happened. He would hear someone talk about it. Or something similar. Ash was gone and there was nothing he could do that would bring her back.

But why? He wondered, sitting alone in his bedroom. Technically it was a guest bedroom and he was sitting on a sofa sleeper. It didn't have very much in it but he liked it. Rosemary had set up a nice place for him to relax in. It felt weird yet he was okay staying here. He didn't feel alone like he did in hotels. Once or twice, he called his parents just to let them know he was alive. They would demand so much from him and he'd remind them that he was okay. The one thing he didn't tell them was where he was. A part of him didn't want to be found.

All the way back to his 'new' home, Michael thought about Ash. He didn't say much except for the occasional 'yes' or 'no'. He wasn't paying attention to what they were saying. His mind was on his girlfriend. Did Ash even have a funeral? Was she buried or cremated? He knew none of this nor did he ask his parents the few times he called. In the end, it didn't make a difference. As soon he walked inside, he went straight for the bedroom and looked into the mirror. He looked like he had aged at least twenty years. He hadn't shaved in days, his lips were chapped, and his eyes were rimmed in red. If Ash were alive, she would be laughing at him.

"Good god, you look like a dead weasel!" She'd exclaim. "Go get cleaned up, smile a little, and I'll make you some brownies while you watch South Park. Then we can watch a bit of that cheap romance you got from Blockbuster before we go to bed."

"That sounds nice." He murmured out loud. But he was talking to no one. Ash hadn't said that. There was no cheap romance from Blockbuster, no brownies, and no South Park. The only thing true about that thought was that he did indeed look like a dead weasel. And he hated it.

Why was she high? What's the deal with the mold? And why did she do all this to begin with? He wondered. Ash never took drugs, not even prescription drugs. She was always in good physical and mental health. She did well in school, could laugh during bad situations, and had nothing to worry about with physical appearance. So what happened? Did he do something wrong? It seemed unlikely because whatever it was, he couldn't have forced her to kill anybody, much less eat them.

His eye fell on a picture, next to the mirror, of his new found friends. They were all gathered around a table, Trip and Debra seated while the others hung around them. No one was looking at the camera. It must have been somebody's birthday party because there was a cake and the icing on it read "Happy Birthday". He couldn't help but chuckle at it. He had many pictures of Ash's birthday parties that were similar to it.

The grief wave, as he now called it, hit him again. Ash was bringing back memories that he wished would die.

For the time they were together, Michael and Ash always got along. He met her the first day of college, in chemistry, and it was instant attraction on both sides. She seemed perfect for him and it turned out to be true. Of course, there were couples who had constant problems and were bickering until the sun went down. But they didn't do that. Ash was never overbearing like some girls could be to their boyfriends. And if Michael was ever incompetent, like some guys, she never told him that. She never threw a hissy fit if he forgot an important date like Valentine's day or their anniversary (and he had forgotten it twice due to school and stress). She never dragged him to the mall or ballets or anything she knew wouldn't interest him. If they fought, and that was rare, it was over something that easily be mended with an ice cream sundae, a card, and a kiss. Damn it, he loved her! And now she…

She's gone. He realized. She's not coming back today or tomorrow or ever again. Everything we had, we did, it's all part of the past.

The reality hadn't sunk in until now. She was never going to help him solve math and physics problems while giving him a back rub. He would never be able to surprise her in the library with roses, diet Pepsi, and those peppermint Lifesavers that she liked to eat. They would never run out in the early hours of morning to eat at IHOP or The Waffle House. They would never spend hours mocking the emo-goth, punk rawk kids and musicians, talking about how pretentious and lame they were. Ash would never smile or pout or make that honking sound when she laughed again. Never. That word was evil.

Then he began to do something he never thought he'd do again. He cried. At first, it was just a few tears but they came down faster. For the first time after her death, Michael was crying over his loss. All those times they spent dreaming of their future, their plans for going to that Marillon concert next year, their spring vacation to Italy…it had all gone to waste. Covering his face, Michael wept over what had happened and what would never happen.

Rosemary, who had been in the midst of some house cleaning, happened to stop by his room and peered in. Seeing him cry, she ran over to his side. "Hey, hey! What's wrong?"

"It…It hurts!" He gasped, trying to breath in between his words. "I'm afraid of going home and facing my family. Or worse, hers! I know they'll blame me for what happened!"

Rosemary rolled her eyes. "No, they won't. You didn't kill her. You're as innocent as a nun. Trust me."

"But the pain…" He sobbed, clinging onto Rosemary's neck like a baby koala. Though he wanted to be alone, it felt good to have someone to hug. Even if it wasn't Ash. "The pain sucks. I hate it!"

"I know." She whispered, returning the hug. "You must have cared about her a lot."

"I didn't just care about her. I loved her! It doesn't matter what she did, good or bad. I'd stand by her through thick and thin, sun or rain, and everything in between. It doesn't matter what the crime was!"

"It doesn't matter that she killed someone?"

"No, I don't care what she did!" He exclaimed. "I'll take her bald, fat, toothless, and sporting facial hair! I'll take her with an IQ of 72 and the attention span of a gnat! I'll"

"Would you take her if she wasn't human?" Rosemary suddenly asked. Michael blinked twice, pretending that he didn't understand what she said. The question was powerful enough to make a train stop in it's tracks. Then he decided that she was probably teasing him.

"Yes, I'd take her if she wasn't human." He admitted. Deep inside, he didn't know if that was true.

"I figured as much."

"I'd take her if she wasn't human." He repeated, smiling through his tears. "Yes, I would."

"It's just that, you know", Rosemary's smile widened as she finished her sentence, "I'm not human."

Michael blinked. He couldn't believe she said something like that with nonchalance. The tone of her voice and that Cheshire cat-like smile did not seem serious. She had to be joking. He smiled back.

"I'm sure you're not." He replied, playing along with her charade. "You'd have killed me the moment you laid eyes on me."

"No, I'm not that bloodthirsty. I've got morals." Rosemary smirked. "You don't believe a damn thing I just said, do you?"

"Ah, you got me!" Michael chuckled. "Nice try though."

"I'm dead serious." Her tone changed. It went from playful and light to cold and heavy. Her gaze fell upon him like a weight. At this point, Michael wished that someone would burst through the door and interrupt them. He had a nagging feeling that whatever she was going to say next wasn't going to be good. He didn't want to be alone in this room with her anymore. Especially if she was "dead serious" as she claimed.

"I look human", Rosemary started up again, "but I've got a monster living in me. My blood is tainted. I work hand in hand with Death. And I'm ten kinds of sinner. The worst thing you've ever done is nothing compared to my deeds. I swear that to you now."

Michael gulped. Even though she said that like she was talking about her day at work or something similar, it scared him. True or not, her words alone were frightening. "Are all of you"

"Just us girls. The story is complicated and I'd rather not go into it. You'll learn in due time."

"I…I don't follow you. If you're not human, what are you?" He demanded. "What other fairy tales are you going to tell me? That you're a demon who kills people and feeds off their blood?"

Rosemary inhaled sharply. "That's not funny. Look into my eyes if you're skeptical."

"Are you planning to hypnotize me or something?"

"Just look into them!"

"Fine, fine, I'll look" And for the first time, Michael did get a look into her eyes. But they weren't normal at all. On the outside, they looked fine. Inside, he couldn't see anything. They were green still but no sign of life in them. Her pupils had no spark whatsoever. These kind of eyes he saw on animals or zombies, not people.

"What…what the hell are you?!" He demanded.

"The same thing your girlfriend become." She replied. "Only she couldn't deal with it."

"You're lying!" He snapped. "Ash would never, ever become anything like you! You're a…monster! A demon! A freak of nature!"

"Glad you noticed." She spat back with an icy retort. "For the love of god, stop acting like a pussy boy. I'm not going to molest you! And I have no desire to kill you either. I just…ack!" Rosemary closed her eyes and slowly started to slide to the floor. A headache had come out of nowhere and decided to pound against her skull.

"Are you all right?" He asked, in spite of himself. She looked up at him with those dull eyes and he noticed something else. There may not have been any light in them but there was still emotion.

So sad. He realized. She looks so sad. What on Earth happened to her?

"I'm…not feeling good at all." She mumbled. "I need to…lie down."

"Fine then. I want to be alone anyway." Michael mumbled, stumbling towards the bathroom. "I just feel…like I'm going to throw up. It's so much to think about now."

Locking the door behind him, he rushed to the toilet and bent over. He thought he was going to throw up. Twice he would stand over the toilet and wait for whatever he'd eaten last to come pouring out of his mouth and nose. But all that came out of his mouth was phlegm. He watched it swirl around the toilet bowl before flushing it. He felt nauseous. He looked around the bathroom and, if he hadn't been so confused, he would liked it. It was very clean and it sparkled like in a TV commercial advertising soap scum remover or something of that effect.

A couple of times he could see Ash's face in that toilet water. She looked at him questioningly. Her eyes were begging him for help and he couldn't do anything.

"This sucks." He muttered into the toilet. "Ash, I'm dying without you! I don't want to do anything! I don't want to go anywhere! I just want you!"

There was no reply from the toilet. Ash's image was fresh in his mind but it kept changing. One minute, she would be her normal self, laughing and sweet. She'd be the Ash who could make the perfect cheesecake and the woman who forced him to eat grits when he first came down South to study. Then she'd turn into animalistic Ash, the one gnawing away at human bones and slurping up blood. Her eyes were wide and blazing. Her mouth was stained and she kept baring her teeth at him. He shuddered and pulled the toilet cover down. He had seen enough.

"I'm dying without you." He repeated to himself. Then his eye caught sight of the razor by the bathtub. He had never been fond of self-mutilation or suicide before. Though he knew that the best way to cut oneself was bringing the razor downward, not across, because he looked it up on the Internet. He had never tried it before. But now the idea was tempting.

Should I? He wondered. Suicide was the coward's choice as his mother told him many times before. People who killed themselves never got into Heaven. However, at that point, he could have care less about Heaven and Hell. If he led him to Hell, all the better. Ash must have been there considering that she killed someone, purposely or not.

"I want you with me." He whispered and crawled towards the tub. Then he picked up the razor. It was clean save for a few hairs.

Considering that he wanted to kill himself, this was the perfect weapon.

Rosemary felt better after a few minutes. Her headache was brief and she found herself staring at the bathroom door. She could hear the poor boy sobbing behind the door and talking to himself. It was painful. A part of her wanted to break the lock open and drag him out. But she could respect privacy. As long as he didn't do anything drastic, she was all right with it.

"How's he doing?" Alex asked, coming into the hallway. Unlike the rest of her friends, he looked fresh and active. His blue eyes were shining and he smelled like maple syrup as opposed to everyone else who were half-asleep and barely making sense with their sentences. He was holding a cup of tea in one hand, which he handed to her. "I figured you might be having some trouble talking with this guy so I thought about helping you out."

Rosemary raised an eyebrow. "Is that the only reason?"

"That and Trip's eating that awful combination of tartar sauce and pancakes." Alex made a face and Rosemary squirmed. Tartar sauce was something that Trip ate a lot of and he put it on anything edible. "Jesus, how can anyone put that on something other than seafood is beyond me. Cole wouldn't eat it and he eats anything! Anyway, he saved some for our guest but I don't think he'll eat it."

"Michael may be depressed but he's very much normal." Rosemary nodded. "And he wouldn't touch it either. That doesn't keep me from worrying about him. He's crying up a rainstorm in there. It must be the worst feeling in the world, coming in and finding your girlfriend eating someone" She paused and took another deep breath. "Yeah, it must suck."

"How's he doing?" Alex asked again.

"He locked himself in the bathroom." Rosemary sighed. Upon seeing Alex's worried expression change into one of utter disbelief, she added. "Don't worry, he's not gonna escape. This is the bathroom without the window, remember? Besides, he's too downtrodden and scared to do anything but think of his girlfriend. I probably should have done a better job of explaining my…" She blushed. "Situation."

"Oh, yes, I heard." Alex rolled his eyes. "You know, R.M., you should be a little more tactful. Do you honestly expect anyone to be okay after you say something like 'Hey, I know you're depressed and all but I'm a demon and I'm only alive because of my boyfriend'? He'd never believe you."

"Actually, I didn't tell him the last part. My head started spinning and I told him to leave me alone. For the time being. Next thing I know, he's in the bathroom." Rosemary rubbed her temple. The pain had wrapped itself around her head. "God, it's back again! I need some Tylenol!"

Alex felt her forehead with the back of his hand. "You're not sick. You don't feel warm."

"I know I'm not sick. It's just that I'm remembering too much. I mean, I hadn't forgotten but" She shrugged. "You know what I'm talking about, right?"

"Yeah. But you're the first one who said anything about remembering the past."

"The first one?"

"Debra, Tiffany, and Suzanne all said they were feeling sick too. They went to bed while you were in here. You know, this seems too weird to be just coincidental. We run into this poor kid whose girlfriend literally went ballistic. Another woman dies of similar reasons. Then the three of you get this headache as soon as you came home."

"Yeah, well, maybe it's something that doesn't affect humans." Rosemary took a deep breath. "But forget about it for now. Does Rhea have anything new for us?"

"She started looking over some stuff. Then she gave the rest of it to Cole. He wasn't too happy with doing research. That is, until Suzanne promised him sex and the Bojangles tailgate special."

Rosemary cracked a smile. The food, no doubt, was the main reason Cole probably chose to do the research. For a smart guy, he hated doing a lot of research like everyone else. He needed something to motivate him and that something was usually edible. Sex was just a nice addition.

"So what do we do now? Wait?" She asked.

"Until we hear something new, yeah." Alex nodded. But they didn't have to wait long. As soon as he finished his sentence, Rhea rushed into the hallway.

"There you are!" She exclaimed, gray eyes flashing. She brushed a huge strand of blonde hair out her face but didn't bother to stick it under her ponytail. "It happened again."

"What happened again?" Rosemary asked.

"Another body. Well, two more bodies!" Rhea coughed. "I'm going to find out more about this. What makes this worse is that there's a kid involved. His parents are…"

She didn't finish her sentence. There was no need to.

TBC…

Author's Notes: Lucky chapter 13 and in time for Halloween (for those of you who celebrate)! About time I plucked another one of these lovely chapters and pasted it onto the story. True, this one was more grief and whatnot but the next one, which I am working on, will be more action packed. Garbage chutes are involved in it! That's all I'm telling.

A quick reminder for those who are wondering: Yes, this story takes place in the South (though not deep South) hence the 'grits' (yummy Southern breakfast food) and Bojangles.

I'm not suicidal in anyway. About the whole 'people go to Hell if they commit suicide', that's what my mother told me. I don't know if it's true and I don't think I want to find out anytime soon. Don't worry, this isn't going to be a cutting story. But hey, the guy is kinda losing it.

Anyway, any questions you have, I'd prefer you email me: Put "Jaws of Love" or "JOL" in the subject line or else I will accidentally see it as spam and delete it.

I did a brief editing job so please forgive any minor errors on this.

That's it for now, chowder and tartar sauce!

CT