Chapter 35: Part Two
Bryce Mood groaned as he tried to twist out the knots in his spine, pulling back and forth on the arms of his chair. Finally, as arched his back up to get the last few kinks out, he growled loudly and let his fangs grow slightly with a self-satisfied grin. It was so hard sometimes to remain in the dignified, non-threatening human shape. Demons were meant to be half transformed at least, he thought to himself, it was their natural state.
It was then that he noticed the scent of a human behind him. How did he not sense that someone had come into his room? He turned around to see Jake Feller gawking at him.
"What?" he asked, leaning back in his chair. He tried not to be too obvious as he looked up and down his recent conquest. Jake was quite attractive… if it weren't for the fact that he was lacking Bryce's scent trigger.
"Your teeth…" Jake replied. He looked down, "I guess it's not that big of a deal… I have seen you in your Demon form."
"You have?" Bryce replied, confused for a moment. "Ah… yeah," he said, remembering, "At… Dietrich's house." He snorted, "That guy was such an asshole." He stood up and walked over to his bed, sat down, and patted the spot next to him in invitation for Jake to join him. He wasn't going to say anything, but having the human there made the room seem less drab all of sudden. Already Bryce's loneliness was fading away as Jake stepped over and sat down as well.
"Did you… need something?" Bryce asked. 'More sex?' he restrained himself from saying.
Jake seemed hesitant to speak, but rather played with his shoelace for a moment. "Well…. Bryce…" he looked up into the Demon's eyes. "What to do you feel about… human rights?"
Bryce coughed, and then looked back up at the human with a grin on his face. "Seriously?" he asked, "Why?" His smile faded slightly at the look on Jake's face. "Um… I guess…." He paused as he realized that he had never truly thought about the question before. "Ok," he said finally, "I'm definitely for…human rights."
"Why?" Jake replied. He wanted to make sure Bryce was serious.
"Why not?" Bryce replied, "The Demons who seek sanctions against humans… they don't truly know what its like to love one, or to be loved by one. They're a bunch of cowards who want to control what humans do." He paused and looked up at Jake. "I was in love with Wendy… although she turned out to be a bitch." He paused again, realizing Jake probably didn't know about what he was going to say next. "And… I loved Brad. These important people to me… how could I want them to be treated as anything less than what I am?"
He shrugged. "The government is doing it just because they're fucking pussies."
Jake smiled. "I'm glad you're my friend, Bryce." He leaned forward and kissed the Demon. "Will you come with me on an adventure?"
Bryce broke from his reverie thinking about how nice it was to kiss Jake. "What?"
"Mark, Cosette, Orin and I are leaving. We're joining a opposition group," Jake said, staring seriously into Bryce's eyes. "I want you to come with me."
"Are you sure?" Bryce replied leaning back, "Isn't that like sleeping with the enemy?"
His eyes had a strange glow to them, as if Jake had said something distasteful. That, and his protruding fangs gave Jake a sudden, queasy feeling. "Hey Bryce…" Jake said. The Demon stared back quietly. "Orin said something that implied… that I shouldn't trust you." It wasn't a question. "Bryce… I guess I just have to rely on what I know about you from personal experience. I think you're a trustworthy guy."
Bryce snorted. He looked up at the human, and smirked. "Maybe to you… I have been nice, but certainly Orin was speaking the truth."
"What does that mean?" Jake replied, backing away slightly, unnerved by the look in Bryce's eyes. The Demon moved without warning, and pinned Jake down against the bed. His body weight felt crushing to the human, especially because Jake had thought he found a Demon he could trust. Apparently not.
"The first time I met Brad, I held him down like this," Bryce said quietly, and leaned forward to rub his cheek against Jake's. He brought his hands up to the human's neck, and enclosed his fingers around it. "I held him like this, you see…" he said with a frown, "And I squeezed… until he passed out."
Bryce could feel Jake's heart beating wildly against his chest, and the look in the human's eyes was full of pain. It occurred to the Demon how much he wanted to feel Jake's emotions, wanted them swimming through him, something that would never be possible. He released Jake, and sat up. The human jumped away from the bed, and stood several paces away from Bryce.
The thought that he had just fucked up a potentially meaningful friendship crossed Bryce's mind, but he figured it was for the best. Safer for Jake anyway, if Bryce didn't have to be around the human, growing hungrier and hungrier for emotions he would never be able to taste.
"Then…" he heard the human say quietly. He looked up, trying to quash the hopeful feeling that Jake would still bother to speak to him. "Then… come with me, and atone for what you did to Brad."
Jake turned around. "You can help right those wrongs, and all of the other wrongs that Demons have made." He walked towards Bryce and inexplicably wrapped his arms around the Demon's neck, pulling Bryce towards him so that his head was resting against his warm stomach. Surprisingly comforting…
"And that way…" Jake continued, "Neither of us will have to be lonely."
"You've assembled a crack team here, chief."
Orin Larson, Cosette Monroe, Keith Gehnson, Mark Hone, Bryce Moon, and Jake Feller stood in a circle inside a side hallway that would lead outside on to the grounds. They each were holding on duffel, as commanded, and were all shifting around awkwardly. Keith had his arm around Cosette, and smiled at Bryce. "I'm glad I'm not the only Demon who has decided to join the cause."
Bryce nodded with a bland smile, and turned away mumbling about overly cheerful dog Demons. Jake shook his head, and shoved the Demon lightly. "How do we know when to walk outside?" He asked, turning to Orin. The blue-haired teenager shrugged, "I guess… when they knock?"
The group of students was standing in a hallway designated for emergency exits only. The door that they all stood silently observing would lead out to a back garden that people rarely walked through. It was there, Remm Thomas had told them, that their contact would find them and take them to their destination.
Of course, the night of their departure happened to be graduation night. Their parents and friends were all currently walking towards the football field, where the awards were to be held. They would not be there to receive them.
Bryce had been slightly hesitant to give up his family fortune by disappearing into the night, but he had realized that having these few people as true friends would probably be more rewarding anyway, not to mention being in a revolution had the potential to be vastly more exciting than having afternoon tea at the club with his mother.
They heard the knock. With bated breath, Mark reached forward and turned the knob on the door, opened it, and peered outside.
On the other side of the door stood a non-assuming woman in large spectacles. She frowned at them, and then said, "Hurry up, we can't be seen."
"Says the lady who chose graduation night to come get us." Bryce mumbled, earning another shove from Jake. He grinned toothily at the human.
All of the teenagers, plus the woman walked quickly outside, and down the pathway leading towards the back of the school. From there, Remm had told them, they would find a dirt road that would lead to the main street through Helios, and out of the township.
"You know," a voice said suddenly from the darkness in front of them, "the ceremony is the other way."
Out from the shadows stepped Dietrich Chald. He was wearing a luxurious tuxedo, but his face was marred with anger. "I can't believe you're doing this," he hissed quietly. Of course, he was speaking directly to Jake Feller, who felt the chill of death from Dietrich's gaze. He trembled involuntarily.
The Demon made a move towards Jake, however before he could get close enough to grab him, Bryce jumped forward and blocked him. "Chald!" Bryce said, "It's time to let go of this obsession, look what it's done to you."
Dietrich smirked. "Obsession? I followed him all the way to Habernath. I got him released from prison. That's love, Moon." He looked over at Jake again, "Do you understand Jake? It's time to become mine again, instead of running away."
Jake shook his head as he started to back away from the Demon. "I wouldn't have been in Habernath if it weren't for you," he whispered. Bryce narrowed his eyes upon hearing the fear in Jake's voice, there was no need for his human to be scared.
Dietrich took another step towards Jake, his eyes starting to glow murderously. "You owe me," he seethed, "No matter what, you owe me." He stopped when he felt Bryce grab his arm. "Stay out of this, Moon." He growled.
"Too late," Bryce replied. He leaned towards Dietrich, and whispered into the Demon's ear, "I've already fucked him. He's mine."
The reaction was immediate. Dietrich shoved away from Bryce, as a deep roar emanated from his throat. Ripping could be heard along the seams of his suit as he started to transform into his sabertooth tiger form. "Shit." Bryce said, as he too started to change. As his eyes turned an eerie blue, he looked back at the fearful gazes of his friends. None of them could fight against a tiger, especially Keith's dog form. He would have to protect them.
Immediately they started pacing back and forth, trying to find a weak point to attack. Bryce knew that Dietrich was hotheaded. He only needed to provoke him.
'You know… it was Jake who seduced me.'
He could see the fire burning in Dietrich's eyes; the sabertooth was trembling with fury.
'Of course, once he convinced me, I took control of the situation, if you know what I mean.'
There it was. Dietrich leapt at him with a deafening roar, and Bryce sidestepped the attack. He immediately dived on top of the sabertooth and bit down into Dietrich's shoulder, as the other cat screamed. However, Dietrich had always been stronger than him, and threw Bryce off with a powerful thrust. Bryce tried to scramble on to his feet, but it was too late. He felt Dietrich's weight as the other cat jumped on to him, and fit his teeth around Bryce's neck.
'Well…' Bryce thought to himself, 'This is it. I couldn't even save Jake.'
Suddenly, the weight was off of him. Bryce got up, and quickly turned to where he heard scuffling. It was a jet-black panther, holding on to the back of the sabertooth, its claws digging red streaks along Dietrich's coat. 'Riley…' Bryce thought, but before he could help, Dietrich threw off the panther as well, and turned his murderous gaze towards Jake.
Bryce took his moment, and leapt forward, landing on the sabertooth and wrapped his own jaw around Dietrich's neck. The sabertooth paused. 'Listen Dietrich… I will kill you,' Bryce said telepathically, 'or you can leave now, with only your pride dead.'
He felt the cat beneath him shrink as Dietrich transformed back into his human form. Bryce decided to stay in tiger form, just in case. The other Demon stood up, cradling his wounded shoulder.
The anger was not gone in his expression, but he seemed defeated. "Jake," he said, "I guess… I will have to wait longer," with that, he turned and walked back through the doorway into the school. He stopped just before closing the door, and turned to say one more thing.
"Don't ever feel safe, Jake, as long as I'm alive. You will always be my prey."
The door closed, and the group breathed a sigh of relief. Jake stood back as the rest ran to check on Bryce and Riley, who had bother changed back into their human shapes.
"How did you know we were here?" Orin asked, as he helped Riley to his feet. The Demon frowned as he looked at him, "I usually know where you are, most of the time. I make sure of it." He placed a hand on each side of Orin's face, and made sure the human was looking at him. "Why didn't you ask me to come?"
Orin shrugged. "I thought you would have said no."
The corner of Riley's mouth tilted up slightly, "So at least, you wanted me to come?"
Orin grimaced at his slip, and tried to look away, but Riley continued to monopolize his face. "Maybe…" His eyes widened as the Demon leaned forward and kissed him warmly. "I've grown a lot this year, Orin." Riley said, "Learned some things… like being the Kain heir is not as important as I thought it would be."
He let go of Orin's face, and reached down to grasp his hand. "I'd rather be by your side."
Orin couldn't help but blush. "Bastard…" he mumbled as Riley kissed him again. He let the Demon lead him towards the group by his hand, and awkwardly avoided the smug gazes of his friends.
Bryce watched all this from afar, and glanced at Jake who had still not said anything. Yes, he had just fought off a psycho Demon for the guy, but that didn't deserve a thanks or anything… jerk. Jake glanced at him, and caught the troubled look Bryce was sending the human. While the rest of the group was still chattering about plans, he edged towards Bryce, and leaned in to whisper, "I used to be able to defend myself."
His tone was almost remorseful, but Bryce could understand the sentiment. It was probably hard to be grateful when your pride had been wounded like that. He nodded, "Just know," he said, "You would be quite able to beat me in any fight." Jake quirked his eyebrow at him with a smile. "Just kiss me," Bryce continued, "And I would be at my knees in defeat."
The unassuming lady suddenly piped up, "Ok, enough milling around, let's go."
Remm Thomas shuffled nervously as he looked through a crack in the curtains blocking the back of the makeshift stage from the audience out on the field. By this time, the students who were joining the opposition would be gone, and he would have to graduate the rest of the seniors into a hostile world. He hoped they would be o.k.
"Don't worry darling," he heard Vollander say from behind him. The Demon wrapped his arms around Remm's waist, and drew the human into a hug. "They will be fine. Everything will be fine."
Remm had certainly gotten accustomed to Vollander's uncanny ability to read his mind, and it was almost unnerving how the younger man knew just how to cheer him up. 'I guess I lost this one,' Remm thought to himself as the memory of how he had planned to use Vollander came back to him. Oh well. He turned in Vollander's arms, and leant up to kiss the Demon. "I love you," he said softly, and smiled when the Demon held him tighter.
The crowds of students on the other side of the stage were all talking excitedly as they sat, waiting to be released from high school. Brad barely heard them. He was staring pointedly at the empty seat where Mark Hone should have been sitting.
So, his friend had gone through with it. He hadn't said goodbye… he just left. Now, Brad was left with the feeling that he had made a mistake. Zero was sitting in a different row, so he couldn't talk to the Demon, but it probably wouldn't have mattered anyway. Mark had left disappointed in him. He looked around at the other empty seats… Cosette, Bryce, Jake, Orin. All of the good friends he had made that year. He closed his eyes, and tried to keep from crying in anger as the names of his fellow seniors started to be called out.
When they reached his name, he stood up and headed towards the stage. Walking in pace with the rest of the line, he turned and smiled like he was supposed to when he reached the podium. He took his diploma from Remm Thomas and marched down the other side of the stage. Even though he was not marrying Stacey Bloom, he had a sinking suspicion that, despite everything that had happened, he was still conforming to what was expected of him. He walked back to his seat.
His diploma felt heavy in his hands, and frowned down at the gold embossing. 'MELEAN HIGH SCHOOL' it said. "Great," he said to himself, and opened the cover. To his surprise, not only was there his diploma inside, but also an envelope. He picked it up, and carefully opened it, pulling out the letter from inside.
Stacy's being a fucking bitch, I say we bounce tonight and go to Helios. I bet those townie fuckers would lose their shit if we started hitting on their chicks.
Brad recognized the letter… well, note. He had passed it to Mark during their sophomore year math class. Brad had no idea why Mark kept the note, but he smiled at the memory of the two of them unsuccessfully trying to sneak out of the school. Then, he noticed that there was writing on the back of the note.
I think I'm gonna bounce early this time, so you're gonna have to tell me how graduation went someday. Knowing you, you're not gonna let yourself enjoy this night… well, I think that would be a mistake. I understand why you made the decision that you did. It was the right one Brad. I hope we get to see each other soon.
He softly folded the note back up, and placed it into the envelope, which he let rest on top of his diploma. A weight had been lifted from his shoulders. "It's not over, Mark." He said to himself. "I'll do my part."
After the ceremony, Brad and Zero ducked away from their parents, not wanting to deal with Brad's father. They sat quietly in the boy's locker room. "Hey," Zero said with a leering grin, "Remember the time when I almost clocked Mark?"
Brad nodded, "I think by then… I still pretty much hated you," he looked over at Zero. "I can't really remember when that changed."
"Maybe when you realized that I'm awesome," Zero replied, wrapping his arm around Brad's shoulder, "Or maybe it was when I tried to stop acting like an asshole."
"Maybe," Brad said with a snort. He tilted his head against Zero's shoulder. "Sometimes I wonder why I'm not mad at how I've changed over the year." He felt the Demon lean his head against Brad's, and smiled. "I wonder about it less and less, though."
"So… you'll never regret it, right?" Zero said, clasping tightly on to Brad's shoulder.
"Never." Brad replied, closing his eyes.
Zero turned his head, and kissed Brad's cheek. "You better not, babe."
Ezekiel Kain sat at the high-class bar, in his five thousand dollar suit, and stared at his reflection in the mirror behind the bartender. His hair was shorter now, his mascara gone. Even his once brightly painted nails were now a lackluster polished clean. Boring, basically. He sighed, and took another sip of his vodka and soda, a drink he now only allowed himself to have when he was not in the presence of his business associates. Businessmen only drank shit like whiskey and gin.
When he looked up again at the mirror, he almost spat out his drink. Behind him… "Mark?"
He heard a chuckle, "Well… most people call me Jordan now, but I guess you can call me Mark."
The blonde man took the seat beside Ezekiel, and ordered a drink as well, apple martini. No need for machismo that night. He took a sip of his neon green drink, and looked up at the surprised Demon beside him. "I never thought I would be able to catch you off-guard," he said with a smile.
Ezekiel was too stunned by the blonde's appearance to reply. He was wearing a black silk shirt, and black leather pants. He was thinner now, having lost most of the muscle bulk from high school, his wrists were practically feminine. "I may have taken some fashion pointers from you," he said with a laugh when he noticed Ezekiel appraising his clothing. "Although…" he continued, "It looks like you've changed styles as well?"
Ezekiel looked down at his own suit. It was nice, and fit him perfectly… however, it was not something he would have chosen to wear five years ago when he first met Mark. "I had to choose a more suitable look for my position," he said finally, his voice flat.
"Ah yes…" Mark replied, "I remember reading about that… the older Kain had taken up the role of heir when Riley Kain disappeared." He smiled, "Did they threaten to cut off your trust fund?"
Ezekiel smiled with a pained expression, "Maybe… it's been awhile, and I don't particularly remember why I took up this job." He looked over at Mark. "What about you?" He gestured at the blonde's clothing, "What is this about?"
"Sabotage," Mark replied, "I wanted to look as alluring as possible. So far… it's been pretty successful." He sighed, "Sometimes… its hard to act this way. You of all people know that I'm not exactly hardwired to be charming, but I've learned."
"Five years…" he continued, "So much has happened. Cosette and Keith are married… I haven't seen them in awhile, but I heard she's pregnant. Jake and Bryce… well they're never apart. Orin and Riley…"
"Riley?" Ezekiel said, cutting Mark off, "You know where Riley is?"
"Not really," Mark replied, "They don't let us know where everyone is. Locations are confidential," he said with a laugh. "But I know… I know that he's happy."
Ezekiel stared at Mark with a mixture of anger and curiosity, "He's happy? What about me? He left me alone with our family." Mark turned to him and shook his head. "You're a grown man, Zeke… you're not chained to your family."
The Demon watched Mark quietly for a moment, and then smiled slightly. "You've matured, haven't you?" He reached forward, and ran his thumb down the collar of Mark's shirt. "You've got yourself a new wardrobe, a new life…"
"For the cause," Mark replied, "We've worked so hard to come this far." That's when he turned to Ezekiel with an imploring gaze. "But… we need funding."
Ezekiel felt a twinge of a feeling he hadn't felt in a long while, the feeling of realizing someone wanted to use him. That it was Mark was surprising. "Funding? What… none of your friends can help you with that?"
"Brad's law firm has helped certainly… but there's only so much he can do," Mark replied, and moved his hand over to Ezekiel's arm, grasping it lightly. "We need someone with deep pockets."
Without warning, Ezekiel tugged on Mark's arm, and sent the human careening towards him as the Demon stood up to catch the blond into his arms. He held Mark there against his chest even as the human tried to struggle out of his grasp.
It had been too long since he had smelled this scent, felt these emotions. Despite Mark's mature façade, Ezekiel could still feel the fiery anger that fueled most of the human's every move. He vaguely recalled why he had given up pursuing Mark… he had wanted to protect him. However, if the human insisted on coming to him like this, he really couldn't be blamed for his actions, right?
"You're really cute now," Ezekiel said with a leer as Mark tried to push away from him, "Maybe cuter than before." He tilted the human's head up and stole a kiss. As their skin met, Ezekiel felt an emotion there that he wasn't expecting… happiness?
He tilted his head, "Perhaps… this plan to use me for my money…is a ruse?" Mark stopped struggling, and looked away as a brush crept up his face. "No… the organization told me to find someone with money."
Ezekiel smirked, "Well, there are plenty of those to go around," he bent around so that he could look into Mark's eyes, "Tell me human, did you miss me?" Mark was silent. "Maybe I should go…" he said, as he tried once again to pull away from Ezekiel's grip. The Demon did not release him.
"You know, Mark," he said, drawing the human closer into a hug, "I don't really care if you missed me or not. I'm just glad you came back to me." He let Mark move away from him slightly, and stared into the human's eyes.
"I've missed sparing with you," Ezekiel said, "My life… admittedly, has grown slightly dull."
Mark nodded, his confidence returning slightly, "You won't find me to be as susceptible opponent as before." He leaned up, and wrapped his arm around Ezekiel's neck as he as placed a hot kiss on the Demon's mouth, "Nor am I as hesitant." He smiled slightly as Ezekiel's grip grew tighter on his waist.
"Fine," the Demon replied, "You can certainly try to seduce money out of me, I won't try to stop you." He let go of Mark, and gathered up his coat. "I assume you know how to reach me?" Mark nodded.
He stepped away, and started to head for the door. Stopping, he turned to look at Mark. "Hey," he said softly. The human looked up at him. "I'm expecting your call."
Mark smiled. His eyes finally seemed at peace.
Well... finito. My basic philosophy with this story is that the first half was about Brad's journey, and the second half was about the side-characters who had to take a backseat in his life after he met Zero. Who knew Mark would become so important to me? Who knew this story would spiral into a ridiculous ensemble cast of too many relationships? DOTH will always be my flagship story, I guess... frankly, I wish I had come up with the idea now, as opposed to when I was 17 and didn't care about a plot. I know that it ends loosely, but that leaves room for improvement or whatever, and maybe, someday, I will have the energy to edit this goliath. On the other hand, DOTH will always have a special place in my heart for being my first story. Please r/r THANK YOU FOR READING. The title is from "Animal" by Neon Trees.