Hello again! Woo, I am so ecstatic for all new reviewers and followers! I am so happy for the support, and it always helps me to keep writing!
In this chapter, Luke's past has finally been revealed! What kind of trauma did this boy go through to make him who he is today?! And why were those men going to kill him?! Only Azul knows now, and in exchange she… Tells him about her secret?! WHAT! Marcus would not be proud, young fox!
Please leave a review when you're done reading! I love to read them so much! Now, on to Chapter XIII!
Song Of Truth
Like how the sky yearns for earth,
The flowers await rain,
And the night falls in love with tomorrow…
That's kind of how I felt right now. Empty, and longing for something that would never come so long as I wanted it. Yearning to connect with the contradiction, even knowing that it could never happen. I was awaiting the rain to make my tears seem less severe, but it never came. It seemed like I would never cry myself out.
And I didn't. I had no idea how long I sat there, the tears tearing my eyes apart and making them sting like bee stings. Time kind of seemed insignificant. Was this how it felt when my family died? Like a flower had just withered away into nothing?
Because that's sure how it felt right now. I took all I had for granted, and then I lost it. My chest had never been under such aching, crushing weight. I was willing to bet that death was better than this.
I didn't even care about those men. In fact, I loathed them for wanting to kill Luke. But I had Backlashed in front of him, and he saw it all with wide, watching eyes.
I just didn't want to care about anything anymore.
So focused on my own, heart wrenching sobs, I didn't hear the sound of leaves crinkling under footsteps. But I did hear two cracks in front of me, the sound knees sometimes made when someone bent over. I felt warmth coming off from another body, which was good since every last part of me felt freezing.
I didn't know who it was, though, since my nostrils were blocked with blood and I didn't lift my head to see.
Those lyrics I had remembered earlier were quite the song of truth. Pining could bring two together.
Those were the only thoughts I had when I was swept up into a princess hold again by Luke.
"Let me go," I snarled, choking on my own tears. He flinched, but kept walking to wherever he was going.
"I told you to put me down! I want to be alone! I don't want you!" I was screaming irrationally, but he seemed to stop caring.
Either that, or he was still at a loss for words.
Futilely, I weakly kicked, punched, scratched, yelled, everything but bit him until he finally spoke.
"Are you going to stop being a brat any time soon or is it my turn to smack you and say 'stop being stupid'?!" He yelled right back, not sounding at all angry or scared, but just annoyed.
I shut up, more out of shock than obedience.
"That's better," he grunted. "Another similarity between you and other girls; you don't know when to shut up."
"What the- excuse me?! You asshole, how come you didn't run?!" The concept was just… out of reach for me. It was like my brain couldn't properly grasp what he was doing here.
"For one thing," he murmured. "I kind of enjoyed seeing those guys being put in their place, even if it was a little gruesome." He winced and cringed and the same time, most likely remembering the organ wreath. That was off the deep end, even for me.
"And for another." He looked at me, his deep eyes shining almost completely gold like a heavenly light. "No matter what you became, I wouldn't leave a girl alone when she was sad like that."
And here I thought chivalry was dead to humans. Completely charmed and freaked out at the same time, my face turned red. I think Luke must be insane, to still communicate with someone after they had torn a beating heart out of a guy's throat and later made a wreath out of another one's organs.
"You're a total freak," I muttered. I didn't get the reaction I was expecting, because he laughed.
"I know," he chuckled. "But you gotta love me, right?"
My face pinched up, not knowing what to say.
For some reason, the jerk held me tighter to him. That made me feel incredibly stupid, since I didn't want him to let go. I didn't know if that's what they call 'love', since, I've mentioned before, I don't know what it feels like.
But this was the first time a certain thought flitted through my head; How did Luke feel about me?
I asked him that, and he tripped over nothing.
"You okay?" I asked, gently placing my cold hand on the back of his neck. He flinched away from my touch.
My hand immediately dropped. He was afraid of me.
Instead of dropping me like I thought he was going to do, he grabbed my hand and held it to his face, quite the feat when he was holding me.
"I'm not scared," he murmured, his soft lips brushing against my wrist with a hint of teeth. Right where my quickening pulse was. Afraid he would feel it, I tore my hand away. His face was red.
He had stopped in a large clearing, surrounding by almost neon coloured flowers, a stark contrast against the dark green in the trees. In the middle of the clearing was a large pond, it's surface sparkling in the sun like golden shooting stars.
"You should..." He gulped. "You should go in to... wash all of that blood off."
I most likely looked like something from a horror film, so I quickly stepped down from his arms. He let me go. I dove into the pond, deeper than I expected, and quickly scrubbed my hair letting all the red wash away from the white before my breath ran out. When I resurfaced, I ran my fingers through my bangs to slick them back from my eyes. I swam closer to the surface, to where Luke was laying down with his right arm tossed over his eyes to block the sun. My heart squeezed, thinking of how... attractive and guy-ish he looked. Not the time, Azul, I thought, shaking my head free of these cobwebs called thoughts.
"I'm sorry you had to see that," was all I could think of to say. Really? An apology?!
He was silent for a few beats of my unsteady heart, then said, "I've seen worse."
My mouth dropped open, earning me a throat full of murky pond water. I spat it out, choking on it in surprise. "How have you seen worse than that?!"
"I've seen a guy get his brains blown out through his eye socket."
"But... how?" I was at a loss. Why would a human teenager ever see things like that? Then I remembered the man with the gun on television. "You mean a movie or show, right?"
To my shock, he shook his head. "No, I've seen it live."
"Cruz," I stuttered. "You're normal, though."
Again with the deafening silence.
"Listen," he said as he sat up. "I'll tell you the truth about me, if you tell me the truth about you."
I was completely silent, thinking seriously. Could I really trust just tell a human boy everything? About me being a demon, Marcus' training, why I'm really here, and my duty? I didn't know. But that dream I had about him before we met must have meant something. Anything. Plus, I wanted to know what the hell he was talking about.
Why he went missing for two years, always looks kind of depressed, and how he saw worse than what I did. I cared about him. My entire body shuddered, hating and kind of adoring the concept of caring about somebody.
"It's a deal," I said, coming to the surface. My clothes all stuck to my body tightly, my hair slick.
His face flushed. "Do you even know what shame is?"
I just shrugged. "Not really, no."
Incredulously, he stared. Then sighed. "Why am I not surprised. Anyway, so I guess I should start talking now."
I sat beside him. "That would be helpful."
He was trying not to look at me. "Well, it started with my dad."
"The one you said was gone?"
"I only have one dad, genius. Anyway, he worked for the military. And when he disappeared, they... made me take his place."
My face remained expressionless.
"I expected a gasp, or something."
"My family was slaughtered in front of me when I was four, Cruz. I can't really get more shocked than that."
"Oh, right. Sorry. Anyway, I'd sworn to secrecy, but the government is getting desperate, what with the threats of terrorists, wars, so on. They have started recruiting and training children to fight. And when my dad disappeared, I was another one of those kids.
"But my abilities were supposedly exceptional. The way I handled a gun, fought hand to hand, yada yada yada. They sent me in the real field when I was ten, fighting at such a young age. Despite that, fighting alongside adults who looked at me with pity, I killed. I was a murderer, and my mother was horrified. I did it to protect her; to protect everyone.
"That's how we used to get all of our money. We never used to live in that shack, but then I lost my job and Mom became a prostitute."
I was silent for a moment, letting it all sink in. Then I asked, "Why did you lose your job?"
"Again with the classified information, but I'm ignoring the warnings. Way over in Washington, they have a hidden lab where they experiment on human beings that show signs of being psychic. One had escaped, a young girl just two years older than me. We were sent to hunt her down, and destroy her.
"I found her first. I was about to pull the trigger, shoot her right through that heart. But she looked at me, terrified, like I was a monster. I thought I was protecting my family, but it was then I realized that I had become worse than what I was trying to protect them from. So I let the girl go.
"That didn't go out so well with my bosses. I went supposedly missing for two years, when they were really beating me senseless, making threats, tearing our life apart. They took everything from us. No family members would take us in, all terrified of what we would bring. So we had to make it on our own.
"No one could know what happened to me, or what I was. So I died into the background, no longer a social butterfly, and got a background type girlfriend, Raven. I never heard from them again until today, where they said they were going to kill me for knowing too much. They let us live in peace for a cruel illusion. It was their plan to kill me all along."
He finished with a long and shuddering sigh. "But they didn't know about you. And you slaughtered them, even though you're a girl."
With that, he swat me over the head. I gave no reaction, thinking I deserved it.
"Most girls would say that guy couldn't hit them," he scolded.
I shrugged. "Yeah, human girls."
Again with the silence. "So you're not human," he said slowly, like his brain was finally registering that fact.
"What'd you think I was?"
After another moment, he said, "I saw you on Friday, I'm pretty sure, in the forest. With those moves, and today, I thought that you were like me." He had to look away. "Apparently, I was wrong."
I laid back, looking up to the orange and red sky, the colours of powerful flames. I didn't even notice anyone. I was too engrossed in my training. No wonder he was all wary the next day.
"What are you?" He asked quietly.
"They only way you'll believe me," I started quietly, "is if I show you on the night of the full moon, in exactly two weeks."
"Why?" He asked, cocking his head to one side.
"Because seeing is believing," I sighed. "But I will tell you one thing about me; I'm no human."
"I know that." He was quiet for a moment, then asked, "Are you an angel?"
I burst out laughing. "What kind of angel would slaughter people like that?!"
His face flushed, embarrassed. "I don't know!"
"What's a human's definition of the opposite of angels?"
He thought for a second. "Demons?"
I raised an eyebrow.
Everything in the forest suddenly got very quiet. I could barely hear the animals or the light breeze. Luke looked shell shocked.
"You're… a demon?" He finally asked.
"You sound surprised."
"I suppose that makes sense," he murmured. "I mean, demons are supposed to be vicious killers, right?"
I nodded. "That's what humans believe. But it's true. We eat flesh, regardless of who or what, and adore all violence and misery." I grinned maliciously. "Such is the way of a demon."
"But you seemed so…" He trailed off, rubbing the back of his neck nervously.
"I seemed so…?"
"Human," he finished with a sigh. "Despite the odd hair and eye colour, and your lack of knowledge for modern day things, you seemed totally normal. Maybe not normal; special. But human."
"Sorry to disappoint you."
Both of us fell into silence, until I finally asked the question that had been bugging me. "Are you afraid, now that you know what I really am?"
"Yes," he admitted. "But it doesn't change a thing."
"What do you mean?"
"I'll tell you, two weeks from now, when you'll prove it to me in that full moon." He smiled, though it looked a bit forced.
So now I had gotten myself into a real mess. If Marcus were here, I was positive he would've killed me. I shivered at the mental image. And then the sadness came again. Was Marcus even still alive? What would he say if he saw me now? Now that I thought about it, he'd probably call me pathetic.
"For now," I told Luke as I stood and looked to the sunset, "let's act like this never happened."
As it turns out, over the next two weeks, we did exactly the opposite. It's like we further indulged into the fact that I'm a demon. Luke never brought it up in school, like he was determined to keep my identity a secret.
However, the incident in the forest did not go unnoticed. There were many new reports on it, all questioning what kind of animal could've done this. I looked away from them with a weird face, furthering Hunter's suspicion.
On that note, things in the Greene household continued in the normal routine. Nothing big to say there, but feeling that Hunter was watching me when I wasn't looking. That got a weird look, too.
But when I say that we indulged in my demonic nature, I mean that Luke watched me train. Such as taking down trees. I mostly worked on my physical strength, thinking that he wasn't ready for magic yet (it's not like I was either, but whatever).
One day, we went into the second floor of the gym when no one was there, with all the weight lifting equipment. Luke suggested seeing how much weight I could lift, so I shrugged and tried it out. A face I will never forget: Luke's when he saw how much I could bench press. I hit my limit at around six hundred and fifty pounds. His jaw was all slack and I'm pretty sure I saw some drool.
"You're a girl," he said, like trying to confirm it.
"Yep," I grunted while setting them back.
He even helped me sometimes, when I'd accept it. Like with my fighting stance. But he couldn't even say anything about my speed and strength. I didn't let him watch me hunt, though. Not for some stupid reason, like I could snap with him around. I'd already decided that it was his fault if that happened. No, because he'd probably just be disgusted.
Finally, the night before the full moon came. I sat in my room, panting like a dog in summer. Everything inside me was itching, aching to be set free again. I was worried; the transformation was nothing magical, like humans stereotype. I wouldn't explode into sparkles then come back as a giant fox. It didn't work that way. It was painful. But it made you feel free.
During those two weeks, almost everyone noticed I was more on edge. I blew them all off, saying it was nothing. But I got sick and vomited in the bathroom on that night, and Karen became extremely worried. I'm almost positive Hunter thought I was pregnant.
Humans have these rumours, that the elderly will start to act weird one the night of the full moon. I'm assuming that the saying originated from demon lore (or fact, I guess). Because that day, I was wigged. Everything set me off, when Bridget was talking, or staring at Luke's utterly silent and expressionless face. I could feel it in my bones. I was all fidgety, too. I actually asked Crabiner if I could rest in the Nurse's office. When I stood and left, I could feel Luke's eye son me the whole time. Then he asked if he could escort me, which Crabiner ended up permitting. Jerk.
I felt hot all over, and I couldn't see properly since my eyes were going to change tonight. During the whole walk, I almost fell over many times.
"Here," Luke said, taking one of my arms and putting it over his broad shoulders to help support me.
I didn't thank him. Just kept breathing heavily.
"Jesus Azul, you'd think that you just ran a freaking marathon."
"It always… gets like this," I gasped.
The nurse wasn't in, so Luke just carried me over to one of the cots behind the mint coloured sheer. This room was kind of like me, devoid of much colour and full of wounded. Okay, that sounded very melodramatic, and I shook my head in disgust. I've been hanging out with too many demons lately.
"What do you mean?" He asked, sitting in the chair beside the cot.
"I mean, I always get a bit sick… before the night." I was starting to feel dizzy, and nauseous. I threw my hands over my eyes, so I didn't have to look at anything.
"But why? What, exactly, is going to happen tonight?"
"Well, I'm… going to transform into my… true form," I mumbled, trying to keep the vomit down.
"This is just a disguise, this human appearance… it helps to be… better hunters and tricksters."
"I only expected giant bat wings to come from your back or something."
"Nooooo. My entire body… transforms into something… that might not be very pleasant… truth be told." I was moving to get the soft sheet over me, which wasn't going to well on my part. Luke tore it from the top than gently spread it over me.
"I think I'm gonna…" I never finished, because I closed my eyes and fell asleep instantly.
"Come with me," I panted at Luke's door at sunset.
He closed the door gently behind him, calling to Vanessa that he'd be out late. "Where are we going?"
"Near our school, beyond the forest, I noticed a bit of a cliff, though it's more of a very large hill. That's the highest vantage point I could see. We're going there."
"Then hop on," he said, swinging his leg over the motorcycle in unison with his words.
The ride was awful for me this time. I couldn't stand the sight of everything blurring by, nauseous as I was. I closed my eyes and rested my head against his back, trying to breathe calmly, which didn't work so well.
An eternity could've gone by, the way I was feeling. But finally, Luke stopped, and I opened my eyes to see the school parking lot. He had to piggy back me to the hill, proving to be more of a challenge since I had hitched a backpack filled with blankets on my back.
From the hill, you could clearly see the sunset and the beginnings of indigo smeared across the sky. Stars had yet to show their lights, meaning we had a while until the full moon could properly be seen in the dark. Luke set me down on the grass, and everything in me had begun to hurt. I couldn't even move, so he had to lay the blanket on me again, then take one for himself.
"Why does the full moon trigger the transformation?" He asked, probably trying to distract himself,
"I'm not quite… sure," I admitted, thinking about how the story of gumiho origins went. I'd tell him when I could speak without a hitch. "Maybe because… in demon culture… the moon is said to have… dark powers."
"Very becoming… in the dark of the night… like a god…"
"Ah. I should've brought a book or something, huh."
"Check the bag…"
Luke rifled through it for a moment, before pulling out something that seemed to satisfy him. "Um, something something something… The Flame Of Magic? What language is this?"
"Latin. You jerk… why are you… making me talk…?"
"Hmm. Just because I like talking to you. But I'll stop if it hurts."
"That'd be… greatly appreciated."
Time seemed to fly by quickly this time. The only sounds I was accompanied by was the sound of Luke flipping through cracked parchment, my frantic breathing, and the sounds of nature. Anticipation screamed and soared throughout my entire body, meaning that the time was nearing. The grass felt kind of wet under my body, or that just might be my sweat sticking to my shirt.
"Something just occurred to me. Well, two somethings, actually."
He was met with aggravated silence.
"One, I can't read Latin, so I don't know what I'm doing. Two, it's a school night."
"Really? …That's what… you're worried… about?"
"Sorry, sorry. Should I be worrying for my life?"
Luke stopped talking. I was worried about what kind of expression he was making, but I was too agitated to open my eyes. I didn't have to worry much longer, because he stated, "You're serious."
"I thought you'd at least try not to hurt me."
"Did you… see me that… time in the forest…? Instinct took over… me. I couldn't… even remember… who you were… this might be… worse than that."
"… Can I back out of this, by chance?"
"Knock yourself… out… I'm transforming… regardless… if you're… here or… not…"
"Azul, you're word clumps are getting shorter."
"It's getting… closer…"
I never heard him move.
Then my heart started pounding in an animal way, fast and curious. My bones were setting themselves up, meaning that the time was here. I could stand, feeling my body getting slowly stronger. Even humans could hear my bones starting to crack.
My eyes flashed open to see the full moon staring me in the face, not midnight, but late. Slowly, I sat up, then stood. Luke watched in what seemed to be frightened silence.
"You might want to step back. Like a lot."
"You're going to be okay?" He was concerned, even when being faced with a monster. What a nice guy.
"Luke, I'm big. Step away."
He cautiously got up, then backed away a few paces. Before I could motion for him to go back a few more, he asked the question I hated more than anything.
"Just asking, but are you a werewolf?"
I snapped! "I'M NOT A WOLF, I'M A FOX!" I yelled at the top of my lungs, hating that even he got them confused. Well, it's not like he's seen a transformation live or anything…
"Okay, okay!" He gasped. "Jesus, what was I supposed to think, what with the full moon and all that ja- Wait, did you say you were a fox?"
"You're about to see," I said, feeling my skin bristle and bubble, "one in the flesh."
With a burst of flashing pain and then the wonderful feeling of release, my ears popped out from my head, and my nail tails from the spots above my butt.
Luke was, to say the least, speechless. He kept making these groaning sounds, trying to say something but being unable to, and he was utterly frozen.
"This is what I am," I said, holding up my hands so the palms faced me. "I don't know what it's like to be a human, since I've always been this way. But- AGH!" My arm began to break and change, the white hair on it growing drastically.
"Azul!" Luke gasped, finally producing some coherent sound.
My arm was now becoming a front leg, but the scene was gruesome. My fingernails elongating until human hands couldn't even hold them up anymore, the arm itself growing in length and width. And the sound. My bones breaking and creaking and changing. And my breath coming out in a desperate rush.
"What the-" Luke started, but I cut him off.
"You have your proof," I gasped, my voice verging on guttural. "Now get lost."
"The transformation obviously isn't done! I'm going to keep growing and growing, my hands becoming claws and teeth becoming canines," I growled. "You have to get out of here before the rest happens!"
He didn't move an inch. Either he was frozen with fear again, or he was… I didn't even want to think about it.
The other option was that he was staying because he wanted to.
"Azul, I can't…" His eyes were pleading, reaching a pale hand out toward me.
I could only do one thing.
Backing up enough until I felt nothing, and I mean nothing, behind me, I hurled myself off of the cliff- er, hill.
"What the-" I heard Luke say, and as I fell I began to think that 'what the' was his catchphrase.
In a burst, everything came out at once.
And then I stood heights above the cliff, staring down at him, looking so tiny and insignificant now. Just another human.
Light burned afterimages on my eyelids, igniting sparks of flames coloured dots. I squeezed them for a moment, feeling tired and roughed up, and in no mood to move. Yet I was. But not on my own legs. They were swinging side to side.
No helping it. I wanted to know what the hell was going on. So, with great struggle, I opened my eyes.
Well, here we were again. Luke carrying me like some sort of princess, in the… school parking lot? Hmm. And I didn't have anything on other than the blanket from last night.
Last night… Oh my god, what the hell! What was he doing here, carrying in the school parking lot at what seemed to be… I squinted at the sky. Dawn? So that's what the light was; the rising sun. Distraction. Damn.
"Luke?" I asked, my voice hoarse. I wondered how much noise I ended up making.
He made a very guy-like grunt, and I recognized it as his indication that he was tired.
"What are you doing? Didn't you leave?"
"Yeah, right," he snorted. He honestly sounded exhausted, too. "I'm just taking you home, so be quiet, please."
"Azul," he said firmly. "I stayed. I was there, watching you the entire time."
I made a face. Now I was pissed; lower life-form disobeying orders. "Why?"
He paused for a minute, then looked down at me with a tired smile. He somehow looked older than from just a few hours ago. "Because we need each other."
He held back a laugh. "We know each other's biggest secrets. We have to protect them, right? Because that's what friends do."
I fell silent, breathing quietly. I was relieved. He wasn't as scared as I expected. In fact, he didn't seem that frightened at all. All right, then, he was insane. I could get used to that. I rested my head against his comfortable chest, smiling to myself. We needed each other.
The ride on his motorcycle was definitely uncomfortable. With the silence, and me only wearing a blanket (a soft one, though), I couldn't wait to get home and just sleep. I'd finally be able to rest peacefully, no longer sick with the innards changing, but totally relaxed with the freedom. I wasn't hungry, either. I must have fed sometime last night. Oh no, what was it? Eh, I guess I'd worry about that later.
This time, the ride was enjoyable again. Everything seemed to have this relaxed feeling, totally peaceful and calming. The air seemed new, and so clean. I didn't think about Marcus once.
Just as Luke was climbing up the maroon steps, he collapsed. I guessed he was more tired than he let on. He was snoozing on the front steps, and I had a very peeved face on since I was just dropped. Oh well, I can pick myself up. What kind of girl, let alone demon, would I be if I relied on men? I'd hate myself even more than I already do.
So I towel-wrapped the blanket around myself, picked him up and hitched him over my shoulder, then set off to my room.
Last night, in my rush to leave, I completely forgot to mention to Karen that I was going somewhere. This occurred to me now, and I froze on the stairs. Oh boy, what was I going to do? …Wait a second, Azul, why didn't you take Luke home? Oh, damn, I'm in a kind of after-transformation drunk state. I guess I'll just hide him under the blanket. That might work.
So that's what I did, putting him down not-so-gently, then changed into some little pyjamas. Exhausted as I was, I collapsed beside him, pulling up the blanket over both of us. I couldn't help but admire his heartbeat, strong and warm, completely unlike that of a demon's.
I was a demon; he was a human. But who gives a damn. I was too tired and happy to consider any stupid consequences.