Chapter 24: Level Five

"Runihura…" Said reaper lay still as his chest rose and fell at an uneven pace. "Runihura," Jayden said as he clutched at his own injured side.

Making his way over, the blonde paused as he heard a sickening wet sound splatter along the walls. His hand shot up to touch his cheek as he felt something warm running down. Pulling his hand away, he pressed his fingers together prior to pulling them apart to see a sticky black substance between them. As it began to move, Jayden scrubbed the back of his hand against his cheek in hopes of getting rid of it.

He merely succeeded in smearing it though the liquid did pull away from his skin. The substance that had gotten on the wall had begun to drip off and make its way back towards the accumulating mass around the redhead.

Attention more focused on the stains of his duster, Sairix sighed heavily before thumbing at the dark smear. As a shadowy tendril shot forth from the lump on the floor, the reaper stepped to the side before sweeping his scythe across it. When the weapon came to rest upon his shoulder, ocean-colored eyes slowly drifted towards the Soul Eater.

"You ruined my coat," he said as he placed a hand on one of the stains, listening as the dark smudge began to sizzle. Casting article of clothing aside, he stalked forward, his ghostly-colored skin practically glowing against the black backdrop. "Furthermore, I saw him first so you're not allowed to devour him."

The other merely let out something the blonde could consider to be a growl. "Who are you to say what I can and cannot devour," it retorted before lunging at the man. "I'll devour him and I'll devour you too!"

To that, Sairix gave a lopsided smile before sidestepping another shadowy coil. He then dodged another after another, not bothering to lift his blade for even an instant. Listening to a snarl, the red-haired reaper jumped back to avoid the thing's tongue. Quickening his step, he avoided the second before employing his scythe.

One swing cut the appendage in two. The second swing caused the remaining half to catch alight. As the flames intensified, Sairix slipped his sunglasses back onto his face. Raising the scythe over his head, his smile grew before he felt something snake its way around his wrist then down his arm. Tilting his head back, the redhead raised his glasses to see a tendril tightening its hold before feeling something curling around his neck. Curling his lip as it tightened suddenly, he winced as he felt the skin along his throat burning. Pulling his arm forward, he reached down to remove the thing constricting his airway before being thrown into the opposite wall.

Watching as pale skin began to redden, Jayden groped around for the raven's weapon as he looked at the tongue still curled tightly around his partner's leg. Grimacing at the burning skin, Jay steeled himself soon after before swinging the small weapon across Ru's leg.

Green eyes then widened after the soul brushed aside the creature's tongue. "Runi…hura," he uttered as he stared at the man's bone. Easing forward, he flinched at the warm puddle of blood beneath his fingertips before he looked around frantically for something to cover the wound.

Something slipping around his waist then pulled his sight downwards to see the Soul Eater's tongue. Bringing the scythe up to cut it away, the man let out startled yelp as he was hoisted into the air quickly before meeting the side of the wall. Sliding down to the floor once he was released, he winced at the burning in his sides as he felt around for the miniature scythe.

Spotting it a small distance away, Jayden leaned forward to grab it before being seized by the Soul Eater's tongue once more. Being pulled out of reach, the man flailed about, trying to loosen himself from the corrosive appendage. And when he did nothing but agitate it, he was dropped back down to the floor prior to being dragged over.

"Ru…"

Said person remained still.

Being pressed against the wall, Jay slumped down a bit as the tongue released him. Taking a much need breath of air, he jumped as the appendage took its place at his neck. Feeling the thing's acidic saliva on his skin, green eyes looked around quickly to find Sairix not too far off and in the same situation.

"Sa…Sai…"

"Let him go," the redhead ordered quietly, ignoring the strain in his voice. It simply earned him a chuckle. "Let him go…"

Catching the faintest scent of blood, Sai looked over at the blonde-haired soul to see traces of blood starting to reach the surface. Feeling something run down his own throat, he ran his hand across it before holding it up to his face.

Observing the black liquid that didn't even resemble blood, not normal blood anyway, Sairix sighed before looking around for his scythe. He spotted it though it was out of reach. And as the tongue around his neck tightened, he hissed under his breath before being pulled towards Jayden.

"Who should I eat first?" it asked haughtily. "Shall it be the flame reaper?" At that, it tightened its hold enough to make the man wince. "Or shall I eat the half?"

Jay simply cringed as the end of the tongue trailed up his cheek. "Sair-"

"Close your eyes, Jayden."

"But-"

"Do it," the redhead hissed as the black liquid started to soak into his clothes. Looking over at the man, Jayden gave a stiff nod prior to closing his eyes. "And as for you-" The reaper grabbed hold of the limb, driving his nails in to the point that the entity had to let go. "-you're not eating him."

"We'll see about that," it growled as it pulled its remaining captive over.

Hand raised, Sairix stepped forward, swinging his arm in a downwards motion before catching the blonde. Setting him down, he watched as Jay cracked his eyes open the moment the reaper pulled the remnants of the limb away.

"Keep your eyes closed," he said as he rose to his feet.

"But-"

"Just do it!"

Caving in to the involuntary flinch, Jay bowed his head as his eyes slid shut.

Sai's voice didn't quite sound the same.

It sounded darker, more distorted.

It sounded malevolent.

Once sure that the blonde was out of the way, eyes closed, Sairix turned to face the Soul Eater that was snarling at the loss of all three tongues. Running his fingers along his neck, he rubbed at the liquid there before licking it off his digits with a rather long, black tongue. Wiping the rest of it away, he then touched the angry red burns on his throat before flicking aside the rest of the black substance.

"It's been awhile since I tasted my own blood," he said before flexing his fingers. His nails were much too sharp to even resemble that of a human or something close. "Would you like a taste?" he asked as he began to approach his opponent.

Cracking his neck, he leered at the intruder as it recoiled on itself. Watching as it scooted away from him, Sai picked up his pace before swinging. He chuckled when the thing screeched, reeling away from him before disappearing into the surrounding dark.

Straightening as he had a look around, he took a step to the left before looking down at the floor. Crouching down, he balled his hand into a tight fist before punching the floor. Spotting the Eater moving about, he grabbed a hold of it before ripping it from its hiding place.

Throwing it into the opposite wall, Sairix slid his foot over just a bit before stomping down on a shadowy wisp. Dragging it beneath his heel, he listened to a pained hiss before looking over his shoulder once the thing started to laugh.

"Big mistake," the Soul Eater chided as it dangled the raven-haired reaper over its head. "You get any closer and I'll-"

"You'll what? You'll eat him?" Sairix scoffed. "By all means, go right ahead. He means nothing to me."

"You're joking."

"Do I look like I'm playing?" the redhead replied as he crouched down.

Gold eyes watched the reaper carefully prior to sinking down into the floor, its captive falling onto his side as a result. Remaining in his position, Sairix looked around before going rigid.

Turning to look over his shoulder, he bristled as he caught sight of a shadowy wisp creeping towards the blonde stationed by the wall. Coiling, the reaper sprang forward, snaring the intruder by what would've been the back of its neck.

Hissing under his breath as it thrashed about, he threw it into the ceiling before grabbing the end of it. "I told you I saw him first," he said darkly as he slammed it down, watching as it splattered across the floor. "Don't touch him!"

Looking for his scythe, he spotted the thing across the hall and made his way over to it.

Hearing the quiet, excluding the footsteps, Jayden cracked his eye open to see the Soul Eater gathering itself together as it rushed towards the reaper.

"Sairix!"

Aforementioned looked over his shoulder to see the panic etched on his face while green eyes darted every which way. "Your eyes are supposed to b-"

Feeling something wrap itself along his leg, Sairix looked down to see a dark yellow eye glaring up at him. It then narrowed in manic glee when the man stumbled forward. Pulling his leg up, his lip curled upward when it was yanked down into the floor. His other leg followed soon after.

Scooting back a bit as he watched, Jay held his side, recalling the abnormal red water he had encountered in Vitae.

Focusing in on the man again, Sairix was already halfway gone by the time Jayden managed to get onto his feet. As the redhead was pulled under again, Jayden hurried over and grabbed a hold of the other's scythe. Grasping the staff, he dropped it before looking at the burns on his hand.

Looking at the weapon on the floor for a moment, he untied his obi before wrapping it around one hand. Picking the staff up again, he ran over to see the thin and jagged claw marks etched into the dark floor.

"Grab it," he said to the man as his left hand was pulled down and out of sight.

"Get out of here."

"I didn't burn myself for nothing," Jayden growled. "Grab the damn scythe!"

Averting his eyes, Sairix grabbed hold of the weapon and watched as the blonde began to pull.

It was a weak attempt in his opinion. The soul didn't look capable of pulling off the feat, even if he wasn't injured.

"Nice try," he said as he sank lower.

"Hey, don't let go."

"If I don't-" Feeling something run down the corner of his mouth, Sairix read the other's expression to know what it was. A shooting pain cutting across his midsection and lower half had him hunching forward to see a row of teeth burying itself into his skin. "Jayden…back off."

"Sai-"

"Find a spot that's out of the way and close your eyes."

"St-"

Shoving the end of the scythe away, the reaper watched as the half stumbled back. Wincing as his lower half was cut at, Sairix let loose a low snarl before he was pulled down and out of sight completely.

Alone, Jayden dropped the weapon and rubbed at his palm gingerly after the staff had burned its way through the obi entirely. Staring at the spot Sairix once stood, Jay chewed his lip before looking over at the raven on his side.

"Runi-" Jaw clenched to stave off a hurt whine, Jay took a step towards him. "Runihura, wake up." The other remained in place. "Please, Runihura, wake up. Please?"

A laugh had Jayden looking over his shoulder to see nothing but the dark corridor. Stepping closer towards the downed reaper, he tried calling for him again before feeling the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. He didn't want to look back again, but he did.

At first he thought it was just his vision playing tricks on him. Again, when he something moving, shifting, on the floor Jayden turned to face it the moment a narrowed slit of gold made itself visible. As the mass grew, the soul slipped on the miniature scythe and fell backwards. Groaning quietly, he rubbed at his backside before looking around frantically after losing sight of the Soul Eater. Something touching the back of his neck had him jump before clambering to his feet. However, he didn't get far as his legs were grabbed and pulled from under him.

Struggling to pull air back into his lungs, he fought the urge to hold his injured midsection before being hoisted up into the air. Looking up, Jay stared at a shadowy coil hanging him from the ceiling and felt like a piñata. Scowling at the thought, he froze as he heard a laugh from below.

Dropping his gaze, his eyes locked with two gold ones prior to staring down at the thing's growing mouth of endless teeth.

"No one to save you now," it chuckled as the soul dropped a few inches, "and I bet you taste delicious."

Thrashing around to get free, the blonde stopped as it irritated the burns he had received. Looking around for something, anything, he shivered as he listened to another ear-grating laugh. Bringing his attention back to the creature as he was lowered once more, green eyes slid shut as the man let out a defeated and sigh.

A faint scent then reached his nose and had him opening his eyes to see a faint red glow coming from the back of the other's mouth. Sniffing the air again, he registered it as smoke before he jumped at the sudden slip.

Watching the glow a bit more, Jay thrashed about as he felt heat starting to radiate outwards. "Let go of me!" he yelled. "Let go!"

He heard the thing laugh though the sound soon became one of confusion. Closing its mouth, dark yellow eyes shifted downwards to see the red glow coming from the section of its body that could pass as its stomach. Watching as something protruded forward, it hissed when more points appeared around its body, trying to find a way out.

Stilling to watch, Jay caught the other's eye again before watching as it opened its mouth again. 'No, no, no!' his mind yelled before he started to wiggle around. "Let go of me!"

Watching the Soul Eater sneer at him, Jayden shrank back before watching a break in the side of the thing's body. From there, he spotted red light, almost resembling flames, spouting out. The creature hissed as another rip appeared.

Covering them quickly, it glared up at the soul before it began to swell. Dark eyes darted every way, scanning its body before it screeched a deafening sound. Plugging his ears, Jayden watched as the Eater continued to swell prior to imploding. It screeched again as it squeezed its own eyes shut before they snapped open from a sudden expanse. Looking up at the blonde above, it made a grab for him before exploding; covering the soul's clothes in the oily black substance it was composed of.

Being dropped onto his stomach, Jayden curled up as he held his hurting midsection. Cracking his eyes open as he steadied his breaths, he looked ahead to see shadowy wisps folding in on themselves. As more and more gathered together, Jay sat up slowly as the form stood taller than he. Flinching as two orbs of gold came to the front to focus on him. Shrinking back as what appeared to be a hand reached out, Jayden felt around for something and managed to get a hold of Runihura's scythe.

When the figure stepped forward, hand out, Jay swung the blade, cutting into it. Pulling his hand back to his chest, he stared at the black substance clinging to the edge. Movement from his peripheral then had him looking to his right to see a smaller mass forming and moving towards him.

Scooting away once he recognized it as being the previous Soul Eater, Jayden was a bit surprised to see that its attention wasn't even focused on him anymore.

"You…" it spat as if that word was the dirtiest thing in the world. "You…!" It shrank back as the taller shadow began to walk towards it. "Stay away from me!" It ordered before turning to retreat.

Watching the larger one, the blonde swore he saw the faintest trace of a smirk cross its otherwise blank face. Pouncing on the Eater before it even got the chance to disappear, the taller one held it up, head cocked to the side as it watched the other thrash about, yelling all the obscene things it could think of. And when that did nothing, it switched up its words into those of pleas and flattery.

Tilting its head in the other direction, the one standing opened its mouth slowly prior to letting its tongue slip out. Yellow and green eyes alike watched the appendage critically before it wrapped itself along the space that the other had previously been holding.

"Let go, let go!" it growled, trying to get free. It then looked over at the motionless soul sitting by. "You can have him! I don't even want him anymore! Just let me go!"

The blonde's mouth suddenly went dry as the taller predator turned its attention on him. When it went back to focusing on the Soul Eater again, Jay sighed his relief mentally before hearing another noxious screech come from the Eater.

Watching as the tongue around it tightened, Jay brought a hand up to his burn neck as the other thrashed about. His eyes widened the moment the creature was pulled closer. Focusing on the one holding it, Jayden scooted back into a wall as he watched its mouth open wider and wider. At that moment, his ears fell deaf to the smaller creature's shouts and pleas as he watched it get pulled inside the darker abyss.

He didn't move when the other had finished.

He felt frozen.

Watching as the other to silent steps towards him, he shrank back before watching the other change direction. Sitting up to see what it was doing, he held onto Ru's weapon tighter when the form picked up the redhead's scythe. When it turned to face him once more, Jayden pressed himself into the corner before watching as the wispy form became more tangible.

As it began to walk over, its once silent footsteps now heard, Jay pointed the weapon at it. "Stay away from me." The other stopped for a few moments before proceeding forward. "I said stop!"

Lowering the scythe it was carrying, the other shadow slowly knelt down to be at level with the soul before it reached out to touch his face. It then pulled its hand back to look at the cut that the other had inflicted. Once it closed, yellow eyes focused on the green pair.

"Why the hell did you just cut me?"

"Y-You talk?"

The other tilted his head to the side as it watched the blonde's face.

Its voice sounded somewhat familiar.

"Well?" it griped, making the other flinch. "Oh, sorry."

Jay continued to gawk. "S…Sairix?"

He jumped, squeezing his eyes shut as the hand from before reached forward. Jayden had felt how warm and sticky the black substance was before yet this time it was cool, wispy even. Cracking one eye open he watched as the dark coloring began to chip off like pieces of ash, Jay opened his other eye to see the rest peel back to show a ghost-colored hand. The nails that had once resembled claws held their humanlike quality. As his eyes followed up the other's lean arm, watching as the covering continued to flake away to reveal a pale and shirtless chest littered in what look like teeth marks. Daring a glance down, Jay sighed quietly in relief to see that the other had pants on. However, as low as they sat off the other's hips, the soul couldn't help the shiver that ran down his spine as he stared at the fresher looking wounds placed there.

"Are you ok?"

Bringing his attention back up, Jayden felt his blood run cold as he stared at the gold eyes poking through the redhead's fallen strands of hair. Pulling away from the man's touch, the soul looked around to try to find an opening to get away. When none was found, he flinched under the reaper's touch.

"Calm down," Sairix requested in that odd, distorted voice of his as he listened to the soul's quicken breath. "Calm down, Jay. You're hyperventilating."

Bringing his hand up to his throat, Jay willed his breathing to slow down though his attempts seemed futile. His skin itched and burned; his neck felt like it was on fire and his airway felt constricted.

"C-You…y-y-"

"Calm down." Slit pupils focused on the man's hands that seemed to claw weakly at his neck as if to get at something invisible there. "Jayden, calm down, please."

Watching as he leaned back, head resting along the whitening wall, Sairix tilted his head to the side as he studied the burns along the other's tanner skin. Leaning forward, he poked his tongue, observing how the soul was studying the now humanlike appendage in confusion. Tilting the other's head back, he listened to the startled gasp in midst of the heavy breath prior to running his tongue slowly along the other's injuries.

Feeling the cooling touch, the blonde almost melted as the reaper ran his tongue down to his Adam's apple. Gasping turned to panting several minutes later before Sairix finally sat up to inspect his work. Leaning over to look at the other side, he gave it as much attention as he did to the other side before pausing at a rather peculiar sound.

Gold eyes studied the light blush dusting the man's face before leaning forward to continue his previous activity.

"Sairix." Stopping, he sat up to stare at Jayden. "What…what are you?" he asked exhaustedly.

"What am I?" Sairix asked quietly as he went back to what he was doing.

He let the question linger as he ran his tongue teasingly slow cross the reddened skin, watching as it began to knit itself back together.

"Sai…" Said person just smiled to himself as he listened to how breathy the other had become. "…tell me."

As he finished, Sairix sat up once he was sure that the blonde's injuries were healed, if not healing. "What am I?" he asked again as Jayden's eyes slid shut, head lolling. "Why, I'm a Level Five."