Decided to rewrite this because I wasn't entirely happy with what I'd put in three chapters, and I kind of felt like I rushed a few events. Plus, I can't really see myself getting back into the characters' shoes when I wasn't able to develop them enough in the three chapters I'd already done. As such, I've pretty much changed the events in the beginning, the characters' personalities (aside from Link's - he shall always be my cheeky demon :3), and possibly give a little more information about the Sighters.
All in all, I hope this rewrite is better than what I had before.
PROLOGUE: Happy Birthday
He exhaled slowly and sat himself upright, finding the shape of the branch uncomfortable to sit on. His wings were out and exposed, but hopefully hidden well by the leaves surrounding him. What kind of tree was he sitting on? A gumtree? No, it was a maple tree - the shape of the leaves was too big to be a gumtree. There were a lot of these trees in the area, he'd noted before he'd stopped at this one. Something about this tree - the house it was planted next to - that made him stop there for a rest. He needed one, too, especially after he was almost killed by that damn Sighter back south. How many hours had he flown just now? Six? Or was it five?
Lincoln growled to himself quietly, feeling a small tinge of pain in his left shoulder blade. A Sighter bullet had grazed the area, but there was not enough damage to even begin to dematerialise him. The skin burned, though, almost touching his bone and the beginning of his wing. He really needed something to dab on it, like a clean cloth or something soaked in water; just anything to get rid of that damned burning sensation.
The lights in the house below him dimmed slightly, the running forms of various people catching his eye. They'd been preparing something for about thirty minutes, or at least for a little longer than Link had been there, and now it looked as though they were ready for something. But what, he wondered?
A car pulled up into the drive way - a black Mazda, by the looks of it, that was probably a little older than three years. Link could only just make out the customised plates once the headlights were switched off, reading "CRUIZN" in the now dim light. Link could only guess that this car belonged to a teenager - or an immature adult, at best.
People climbed out - the driver being a tall woman with honey-coloured hair and a grinning expression, and the passenger being a petite-looking redhead wearing a long-sleeved shirt. In this weather? Link wondered. She's mad.
The two walked around to the boot of the car, a low click coming from it as the older woman lifted her keys. So it had an automated system, he realised.
"You really didn't need to go all-out today, Mum," the redhead excused, sounding almost exasperated as she and the woman - apparently her mother - pulled plastic shopping bags out of the car. Link could almost hardly see the resemblance, but that probably just meant the girl looked more like her father. "I mean, come on - did you have to buy every book I pointed out?"
"Of course!" her mother replied, handing her a bag as she pulled out another. Whoa, that was a lot of books! "It's your birthday and I refuse to let it be bad."
A sigh came from the redhead, followed by sound of interest. "There's light in the house," she observed. "I know I turned them all off before we left..."
"Maybe you forgot," her mother laugh nervously. "It can happen-"
"Mum, I have a pretty good memory. Plus, you've drilled the importance of saving energy into my head ever since we moved here. I know I turned off those lights."
Barely giving her mother a chance to reply, she jogged over to the front door and reached into a flowerpot holding a small bamboo plant. She produced a key and stuck it into the lock, then swung the door open to reveal the dimly lit house. Link watched as she and her mother walked inside and arrived in what appeared to be the lounge room, and then jumped slightly when the lights flickered on and people jumped out of nowhere. Sure, he was viewing this from outside, through the window, but he still got a little bit of a surprise from it.
This must've been a birthday surprise, he thought. Why else would people be hiding in their house and dimming lights while this girl and her mother went book hunting? Link paused for a moment. Okay, there were other reasons why, but most were too farfetched to be valid.
He watched as they handed the girl presents, cut the cake, and then slowly began to leave one by one.
Finally, the redhead's mother offered to drive home a few family members, leaving the birthday girl alone in the house. Link glanced up at the sky, realising how much darker it had gotten. Huh. It seemed that the living still partied late.
The sound of a glass door sliding open made him tense up, his attention shooting down toward the house again. To his surprise, the redhead was coming outside, a glass of soft drink in her hand as she took a seat on one of the folding chairs. She looked almost relaxed; he could properly see her face now, her small smile reaching her ice-blue eyes. Link raised an eyebrow; it had been a while since he'd seen a redhead with blue eyes - usually they had green or brown ones, hazel most of the time.
He began to lean back a bit more, hoping to hide himself a bit from her view, but only succeeded in putting pressure on his wound. He let out an involuntary yelp, and then quickly clamped a hand over his mouth. It was too late, though - the birthday girl had seen him. She reached into her pocket for something and pulled it out cautiously, and then proceeded to tap its screen frantically before putting it back in her pocket. Link quickly realised she'd been using a phone - one of those new touchscreen ones that everyone seemed to want.
"Who's there?" she demanded, taking slow and small steps toward the tree. Go away, go away, go away, Link thought, panicked. Don't come any closer!
"I can see your feet, so stop trying to pretend you're not there," she scoffed. Link huffed and glanced to his right, noting the lights turning on in the house across the street. Oh...
"You alerted a neighbour," he told her. "Smart thinking - now they'll call the police."
The girl froze, stopping her approach between the house and the tree. Now Link could make out every detail on her face - the freckles decorating her nose and cheeks; the cat-like slant of her eyes; the golden flecks surrounding her pupils. She was quite pale, he noted, but not so much so that she looked sickly. There was a small bit of sweat on her brow, an indication that her thick clothing was making her a little overheated. Or she was actually afraid of him.
Those blue eyes scanned him back, no doubt noticing his wings and his slightly hunched over form. The only thing other than his wings he'd need to hide was his eyes - there'd be no way to explain crimson eyes, even with those anime contacts he'd seem people wear to events.
"Why are you in our tree?" she demanded. "A-Con is over, and the closest was in Melbourne."
"Why are you dressed like an Eskimo?" he shot back, flipping his "smartalec" switch. "I mean, come on; are you actually hoping you'll set yourself on fire? Trust me, the only way you can do that is by having sex with another redhead."
She gave him a deadpan stare, obviously displeased by his insult. That didn't stop her from replying, though, as she took another step closer and narrowed her eyes at him form. "You've been hurt," she stated matter-of-factly. "You're hunched over, leaving a hand just under your arm in case your injury plays up. More so, you're refusing to lean back onto the tree - something I assume you did earlier but earned a sharp pain from doing. It can't be that much of a wound, though, because - unless you're some kind of masochist or 'tough guy' - you still have the ability to make a witty remark without cringing or hissing in pain. As for the wound's location; by what I've just stated, it would obviously be located somewhere around you spinal area, perhaps your shoulder blades, considering that you can reach the area with your hand. It couldn't possibly by a simple burn because there haven't been any reports of fires or anything along the lines of getting burned, but it could be from a lighter. That's ruled out, though, because you'd suffer much worse injuries, and I'm sure that a burn in that area would be inflicted by someone that was most likely an enemy. It couldn't be a knife wound - it would be much thinner than you make it out to be, and thus you'd be treating it like an annoying papercut. I'd suggest a bullet would be the culprit, but that would mean you're on the run. Are you going to take over, or should I go on until the police arrive?"
Lincoln returned her deadpan stare, this time adding a scowl into it. "You don't have many friends, do you?" he said in a monotone. Honestly, how could someone who rambled like that have people that could tolerate them?
She raised an eyebrow, this time her eyes forming a plan. Lincoln had to admit, she reminded him of someone. He couldn't place who, though - it was so long ago that he'd even thought about them. Their name started with an E, or was it a B?
"How about we make a deal?"
He blinked, realising he was still in the tree and that the girl was still watching him. If she was smart, she'd leave - he had no doubt that the Sighter was still on his trail.
"Oh?" he inquired, genuinely interested. It was only natural that a demon like him would be interested in deals.
"Come down and let me help you, and you tell me who's after you and why they're after you."
He stifled a laugh. "You?" he scoffed. "Help? You don't even know how ridiculous that sounds, girl."
It as then that she flashed him a grin. "Hey, I'm not the one stuck in a tree with a painful injury. I'm just standing down here, surrounded by rocks and sporting a good aim. I won't hesitate to force you down."
Link's laugh disappeared, replaced by an annoyed glare. A rambler with a good aim - whatever shall he do?
"Fine," he sighed. "Don't blame me if you get shot, though."
The girl raised another brow, completing the surprised expression on her face. Link felt pleased with himself, pleased that he let this little girl know that she should keep her nose out of peoples' business.
He began to shift himself, wincing once or twice and earning nervous stares from the girl below. Soon enough, he was ready to come down without some way of hurting himself. Link began to climb down awkwardly, still trying to keep his hand near his wound in case something fell into it. Know-it-all brat, Link snarled to himself. He was doing exactly as she'd said he was, and it felt sickening to prove this child right.
Just as he was about to plant his feet on the ground a pinging sound came from the girl's phone. As quickly as she could, she pulled the phone out of her pocket and began to scan her eyes over the screen. She sucked in a small breath, eyes wide, and then ran to Link's side. "Hurry up!" she hissed. "Don't make a sound, either!"
She yanked his hand, causing a surge of pain to go through his sore spot. Why did she have to grab the hand on the injured side!?
The girl didn't seem to take notice, hurrying him to the house as she frantically shut the door behind them. She closed the curtains in front of the glass doors and switched off the lights, and then switched on her phone as she led Link further into the house. She used the light to lead the way further inside, turning off more lights as they passed through rooms. They finally arrived in the laundry, and the girl hurriedly climbed onto the washing machine. Above her appeared to be a manhole, most likely leading to a crawlspace above the ceiling.
She's been taught this, he pieced together. No one panicking and having this happen without warning would think of a crawlspace. Hold on... Why is she panicking?
"Quick," she whispered. "Climb up."
Link did as she said and climbed onto the washing machine, clambering up into the crawlspace with ease. The girl followed and placed the phone between them, then closed off the manhole and inched her and Link back a few feet. They ended at a small wall, most likely the end of the laundry, and waited in silence.
Curious, Link muttered, "Quick thinking," in hopes she would explain how she acted so practiced in hiding.
The girl blinked and glanced down at her phone, spotting an square that said (1) New Message. She picked it up as she replied, "My cousin and I used to play hide and seek a lot. Cath found this place and Mum decided to use it as a hiding spot, should we be attacked or robbed. Like our own little panic room."
She blinked and read the message twice, then suddenly asked, "Who's chasing you? What does he look like?"
Link gave her a sly grin. "He?" he teased. "What, you think I'm being chased by a 'he'?"
"Well, you've confirmed you're being chased," she said lightly. "I assume the man my neighbour just texted the description of is the man chasing you. Tell me, are you being chased by a guy who uses various guns and knives?"
The last half of her sentence sounded stressed, as though she hadn't been expecting something like this to arise.
He shrugged. "I suppose," he replied. "What's the guy's description?"
She looked over her message again. "Well, he's wearing a long trench coat-"
"The guy chasing me has this obsession with trench coats."
The girl fown and set her phone down. "Pleasant," she muttered sarcastically. Silence fell over them once more. They waited a few seconds, sitting absolutely still. In this silence Link slowly began to wonder about this girl. What was her name? How old was she? How the heck did she have a mind that pieced together the fact that Link was running?
Would she die tonight?
It was simple to learn all this - as simple as grabbing her hand and focusing on her life energy. Heck, he didn't even need to grab her hand. He could just brush his hand over hers within a second and her whole life story would be like an open book.
A sudden crash made the two of them jump, followed by loud and heavy footsteps making their way through the house. The girl and Link stared at the manhole as though the Sighter were about to pop up at any moment, gun in hand and ready to shoot.
As quiet as he could, Link whispered to the girl, "I'm Lincoln, by the way."
She shot him a glare that demanded why he would say that now of all times, and then replied as quietly, "Heather."
Okay, that made one thing he knew about this girl. It wasn't the entirely important thing, though; he needed to know when she'd die. If she died tonight, by a Sighter's hand, he'll be the first one the authorities go after. That reminded him: Was her neighbour still watching the house?
The footsteps were getting closer to the laundry, but Link couldn't be sure if the Sighter knew where they were. Cautiously, Heather began to move forward, grabbing her phone as she inched along the crawl space. Link watched in confusion, wondering what she was doing. Was she mad, maving for the manhole like that?
She shushed him, cutting him off as she crawled past the manhole and a little further down the crawlspace. Ah, now Link could see what she was up to - she was getting behind the manhole in case the Sighter came up. Smart girl, he thought. She turned around and switched off the light on her phone, disappearing into the crawlspace's darkness. Both waited patiently as the footsteps came to a stop below them, holding their breaths as no more sounds of movement emerged.
The cover on ther manhole bumped upwards slightly, and then slid open toward Link. He watched as the Sighter's head popped up, unable to see the demon in the darkness. He was facing Link, and the demon had no doubt that the Sighter's eyes would soon adjust to the dark.
Without warning, Heather's fist slammed hard onto the Sighter's scalp, causing the man to curse in pain and fall off of the washing machine. Heather smiled in truimph and hurriedly covered the manhole once more. As soon as she did that, the sound of a door bursting open came to them.
"Police!" various voices shouted. More footsteps entered the house, followed by shouts. One particular shout stood out among them, bringing a sense of relief to the two in the crawlspace.
"Put down your weapon and get on the ground!"
Heather released a breath Link didn't even know she was holding and then slowly began to oncover the manhole. Her head dipped out of the crawlspace for just a moment, coming back up as she told Link, "They've restrained him; we can come out now."
That was all the good news Link needed to hear. They climbed out of the crawlspace, being greeted by a couple of police officers wearing their signature blue uniforms and bullet-proof vests. After making sure they were okay and giving the two time to calm down, one reported the situation through a walkie-talkie. Link needed to get out of there before he was questioned, and immediately said to Heather that he needed some fresh air. She let him go, remarking that the crawlspace was a little bit of a claustrophobic's nightmare, and went to the kitchen to get herself a drink.
As soon as he was outside, he released his wings and flew away.