**A/N: Hi everyone! I hope you like my new chapters! :3 Please remember to review every once in a while; not only does it help me get better at my writing, but it also makes me really happy that you are following the development of the story! XD Thanks again for reading!
Things to keep in mind:
Goukon: it's like a dating group where single men and women organize a night out, with the hopes of forming a romantic relationship (source from Wikipedia)
Chapter 64: This time apart
The day was clear and bright blue; the sun was shining down upon all of the buildings in Shinjuku, reflecting its light on the hundreds of windows. From my apartment's balcony, I could hear the noisy, crowded streets not so far away from the complex. It was yet another busy day for this city.
I heavily sighed.
It has been a few days since I had last seen Nikko.
"What's your problem?" Kukyo directed at me from the inside of the living room; "Seeing as how annoying the weather is, you should be running around outside chasing that Ritter human."
I drowsily turned by body over to glance at him. I was leaning against the balcony wall, bending over, resting my forehead on my forearm. The sun warmed me and made my eyelids heavy, but I couldn't sleep even if I wanted to.
"Nikko told me to stay away from her for a while;" I informed Kukyo, my voice sounding a lot more depressed than how I actually felt.
I just couldn't believe that Kukyo laughed at me.
"That girl finally found you annoying?" he chuckled gleefully. My suffering apparently brought him joy.
I turned my head back around, trying to ignore his sudden and unusual happiness.
"She said that she needed to concentrate on some midterm exams, or whatever. She made them sound really important, and explained that she needed to study a lot… Because of this, she told me to stay away for about a week, since I apparently distracted her;" I let out another long, deep sigh.
Kukyo began to mock me again, "Sounds to me that you're unwanted."
"I never asked for your opinion;" I snapped back at him; I grew tired of his voice – he sounded as if he was grinning widely.
But the more I meditated on this small break from each other, the more I felt myself inclined to agree with Nikko's decision.
So many things had happened since I returned to the Surface world. Nikko, and even I, needed some time to take in all of these events; we needed space to analyze and accept how everything had turned out. It has been a while since I had some real time to myself.
Ever since I matured, I haven't really sat down to feel the difference in my power; between my weak, past self, and the renovated me.
Yesterday, I laid on my bed, staring up into the ceiling, trying to remember the things I had left behind in the Underworld. I wondered how Gerard and Charlotte were holding up with their new found love. I tried to imagine my parents; I assumed that they were still entirely against my trip to the world above. The Demon King is probably still trying to calm down the Noble assembly; the fact that I had gotten in trouble with the Reaper is most likely known by now. I also became curious to know if the Heavens had reported my unexpected contact with one of their agents to the Underworld. From time to time, I wanted to ask Kukyo about these things, assuming that he was still keeping constant communication with the Underworld, always informed – but I always ended up concluding that perhaps it was best not to know.
The same principle applied to Varick's secret. He chose to never speak of his forbidden love for the rest of his life; he thought that the truth would simply worsen Nikko's fragile happiness. He has already left for Germany – a few days ago to be exact.
I promised him that I would take care of Nikko, when he broke down in front of me.
"Don't worry. She's in good hands now;" I had said as he tried to hold in his tears.
The emotion portrayed in his eyes… I didn't know how to read it as. Relief, sorrow, jealousy, worry, trust; so many feelings in one glance. He shook my hands after my statement, and walked back inside the apartment. That was the last time I ever saw him.
No matter how much I wanted to thank him for taking care of Nikko for these past few years, I couldn't get myself to actually mouth these words. My pride and jealousy wouldn't allow me. It's not like I gave much importance to the way he felt anyway.
However, now… there was nothing holding me back. I had successfully removed all of the remaining traces of Nikko's past. Ichiro, the one who had mentally and emotionally damaged her, was now dead; Varick, who made her worry to the point of sickness, was leaving the country; her mother was no longer with her, so that meant that she was all alone – now, it was my turn to take my place in her life.
I looked up at the clear sky once again, watching the high clouds slowly float by the apartment. The true meaning of having Nikko to myself was finally sinking in.
She was in my hands now.
I walked back inside – into the living room, where Kukyo was sitting on the sofa, once again reading a book related to the aquatic life form on the Surface world.
I quietly sat next to him, and stared at the wall for a few minutes.
"The next time I see Nikko, I think I'll tell her that I love her;" I blurted out without thinking. All I received as a reply was the heavy fish book, crashing into the side of my face.
My mind was blank, still in shock from the sudden pain. My hand automatically placed itself over my ear and temple; I tried to understand what had just happened, but the beating pain wouldn't let me analyze the situation.
"Are you stupid?" Kukyo yelled out of nowhere. I felt my wide eyes stare at him with confusion.
"In Nikko's eyes, you're still nothing but a stranger. To her, you've only met a few days ago! And now you're going to say that you love her?" he glared at me; "Are you trying to scare her away on purpose?"
I frowned, "You didn't need to throw the book at me…" I started, but I was interrupted by his angry voice.
"I was hoping to smack some sense into you."
The pain left rather quickly, but his statement lingered in my head.
"How long do I have to wait in order to tell her what I feel?" I inquired, raising a brow, truly at a loss now. Everything seemed to be wait, wait, wait with him.
Kukyo, whom was once again reading his heavy book, raised his eyes from the pages. He stared at me for more than a comfortable amount of time. I always wondered if he would ever see me more than a simple idiot.
I watched him gently close the book; one of the cover's edges dented from when it crashed against my head.
"I don't know much about human women, but from all of the research I've done back home, I've come to the conclusion that, since all humans have such a short amount of time to their lifespan, they feel the need to spend that time with someone that they truly love and whom love them back. The majority of human women give deep thought to the decision of their life long partner;" Kukyo explained, "I think it is very unlikely that Nikko will simply accept you in just a couple of days.
"Just have patience;" he advised.
He had a debatable opinion; it made sense that a human girl would consider thoroughly her marriage partner or lover.
But… Nikko had already accepted me, years ago.
My case was different.
We weren't a normal human couple; we didn't share the common, known love. I was a demon, forever marked by this human's warm embrace; eternally devoted to kiss the places where her graceful feet touched. The mere contact of her skin against my own made my body burn up, and my heart race, painfully beating against my ribcages. This was more than love, more than desire, more than passion; it was a love morally forbidden to exist, and no supernatural rule would have ever been created to ban such action, for such horrors could not even be thought of.
This was not stubbornness; it was complete devotion.
And, despite knowing the dangers of dragging this delicate human into my dark existence, I was selfish; I was, in the end, a demon – greedy, jealous… led by instincts and impulses alone.
I have come to accept this fact; that I was evil and cruel in a very different way. I used to think that perhaps I wasn't a demon at all; I didn't behave like the people that surrounded me, always faking their smiles and trying to overtake the person above them. I even came to think that perhaps destiny made a mistake, and that I was originally intended to be a human – but I was wrong.
The feeling I so arduously try to describe, was one that only something from Hell could feel. A dark yet powerful feeling, disguising itself as love, making me feel warm, and eventually burning me – like a flickering candle light, unstable, delicate, yet so much harm could come from it.
If Nikko was ever to know my true intentions; if she was, by any form, to read the inside of my heart, would she run away? Would she fear for her life?
For some strange reason… I could no longer imagine her escaping my arms. It was already too late to save her; there was no turning back. And I didn't feel the least bit of guilt; I didn't feel bad for twisting her fate towards my favor. I was forcefully dragging her into a dark tunnel, making her see only me at the end.
This love; what was it?
Authentic, innocent, pure?
Forbidden, tainted, cruel?
After all of these years, I came to know the meaning of the word love. However, from the very start, I wasn't searching for the right thing; what my heart is truly curious about, what I truly want to understand, is the love that I share for Nikko.
Was it even valid to call it this way – love?
I hadn't realized that my surroundings had become dark. I tilted my head towards the right, and saw the moon shine through the glass balcony doors, competing against the bright city lights below.
How many hours had passed? How much time had I been sitting here, trying to know myself a bit better – trying to understand my intentions, my emotions?
I looked around; Kukyo was locked inside his room, doing who knows what. I stood up from the sofa, feeling my limbs crack in the process, having been sitting down for such a long period of time without moving. I didn't think I could be lost in such a deep trance as to literally sit and stare at the empty TV screen for hours.
I walked out into the small balcony again, hoping to breathe in fresh air. The breeze had changed; it was no longer warm. It caressed my cheek, causing my hair to tickle my forehead.
I never truly felt alone on the Surface. No matter where I turned, there was always life around me – something moving. In the Underworld, there were moments when not a soul was heard; a silence so deep that it became uncomfortable to breathe. But, since I was raised in such an environment, I became used to it.
However, I can no longer imagine living in such a dark place. Now that I had tasted the sun's warmth, broke free from my chains; how could I returned to the Underworld? I had already adapted to this bright world.
I had already become attached to the Surface… to Nikko.
Images of her glowing smile filled my mind. Her emerald eyes, with depths like the ocean, sinking you into her gaze; the strands on her scalp, as light as feathers, floating gracefully around her waist, reflecting the sun's light as if they themselves were rays of the same star. Her skin, soft, warm, delicate to the touch; naturally rosy lips, and her cheeks were always a warm, coral complexion.
I was aware that perhaps my undying love towards her made my eyes and senses exaggerate the reality; perhaps she wasn't as beautiful as I described her to be after all. But, in the end, I saw her as perfection reincarnated into the human form.
Thinking about her this way… it made my throat dry.
Why was it that demons desired so strongly a human's blood? Why was it that we always became thirsty?
I learned back in the Underworld, that a human's blood was mostly made up of water. It was refreshing to our taste buds; we would naturally feel attracted to drink such a thing, since, where I come from, water didn't exist.
A demon's own blood was thicker than a human's. It didn't have water; our blood was made of ink. It comes in handy to us that we naturally heal ourselves; this way, if we are ever injured on the Surface world, we wouldn't need to go to a hospital. The humans wouldn't know what to do with our blood.
Tainted blood; sins ran through our veins. We weren't alive to begin with.
Water represented purity; it brought things to life. I came to realize that demons were always in search for that; this is the true reason on why we feed on humans. We creatures were forever cursed with this never ending quest of life.
In just a matter of days, my grandmother would have our two weekly blood pouches delivered. I was looking forward to this, hoping that by the time I get to see Nikko again, I wouldn't be thirsty.
I heard the school bell ring throughout the building. Students began to run through the gates, happy that they had finally finished their important exams; ready to enjoy their much awaited vacation.
Some students seemed to have recognized me. They looked my way, remembering that I always waited for Nikko and the like.
Between the crowds of people, I spotted the small girl with short black hair – the one I had met a few days ago at the subway station. She seemed to be happier for some reason; probably because she had finally stood up against those who spread the rumors about Nikko. When our eyes locked onto each other, I mouthed a simple thank you. She blushed, like usual, but she happily waved back.
I also saw Rina. She seemed a bit livelier, despite the fact that Varick had left to Germany already. I asked her where Nikko was, and she explained to me that she needed to take some things over to the teacher's lounge, so she would take a few more minutes than usual.
"I can't talk though; I'm going to a goukon now, and I'm late!" she grinned as she skipped away. So, she was already working on forgetting about her feelings for Varick…
As soon as I turned my head back around to watch the entrance, I spotted Nikko, standing right before me. For some reason, she seemed even more beautiful than usual. It must be due to the fact that I haven't seen her in such a long time.
Before I was able to react, I saw her run towards me. She slipped through my arms, and hugged me tightly.
"Kuro! I've missed you;" she said as she giggled.
Like magic, all of the negative thoughts I had accumulated over the past few days vanished into thin air; as if they never came to existence. Whenever I had her in my arms, I felt like the world grew brighter, happier, like everything made sense. The feel of her small body between my arms; how fragile she was… I needed to protect her. This delicate, frail human, convinced me that words were not required to categorize out love, to define it.
"I've missed you too…"
I simply needed to hold her in my arms to understand what love was.
It was hard to believe that she was entirely mine now.