My Sister's Keeper: Chapter 6: The Hospital Visit
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My Sister's Keeper

Chapter 6: The Hospital Visit

By: Melissa Norvell/Revamp

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I sit there in the dark room, in a wooden chair that I had placed by his bed. My eyes gaze in sorrow at the man I called my brother whose form rested, nestled in between sheets and a hospital mattress. This incident replays over and over in my head in visions too real, which only amplifies the dread in my heart. 'Ushio…' My thoughts register sympathy and sorrow in that name. Glancing just below his chest, I notice that one of his arms is outside of the covers, hand rested gently atop of them. Reaching out, I place my hand on his in a show of comfort that only I could see, but hope he notices.

'Please…Please don't say that this is my fault. Why? Why do I feel so guilty…just for being with Tadao? I know that he's protective of me, but does he really hate Tadao that much? There are so many questions I want to ask. Why did you run out into the street? Were you just upset? I don't even know what to think anymore…about anything. I just…want Ushio to be safe.' I am jarred out of my thoughts as the door squeaks and I hear someone enter the room. "Huh?" I question lightly, turning my head to see that it was only a nurse.

She walks in a little unsurely and glances around. "Oh, he's still resting."

"Yeah, it will probably do him some good. Will he be alright?" I ask after all of this time, expecting, hoping for a positive answer.

"Surprisingly, there isn't anything that is broken. When you said that rest was probably his best bet, you were right. Ushio is just suffering from blunt force trauma from the low speed impact of the car. He has a couple of bad bruises and cuts, but he'll be alright. He just needs time to heal. I know that you'll be a big, capable sister and attend to his needs, won't you?" The dark-haired lady smiles as she walks up to me and rests her hand on my shoulder.

"Of course," I smile cheerfully at her. 'Besides, Ushio has always been there for me. My prince… 'My vision is temporarily blinded by a piece of paper that was sat into my lap. Blinking, I cock my head at the document. "What is this?"

"It's pain medication, incase his injuries bother him. All he has to do is take one of these and he'll be fine. When you get the prescription, just read the directions and it will instruct you further." So, the doctor prescribed him pain medication as well. That's good. I'm glad that my brother won't be in pain or have to hopefully make any more visits to this place.

I take the paper and nod. Unbeknownst to the both of us, Ushio is stirring awake, his hands twitches and his eyebrows furrow as he comes around. We both hear a grunt from him and our attention is immediately focused on him, right as his eyes open and he turns his head to me.

"You're awake. How do you feel?" The nurse asks as she walks over to his bedside.

Slowly, my brother sits up. "A little pained and kind of stiff."

"You should make a good recovery. I gave your sister a prescription for you. You have minor wounds and with rest, you should be back to normal. Try not to do anything strenuous or lift anything heavy for a couple of weeks." She then looks to me. "Your little sister told me how worried she was about you and how she wanted to be the one who took care of you."

"She did?" With confusion crossing his visage, Ushio looks at me.

I couldn't help but blush in response. The way that he speaks that question holds such deep emotion that my feelings are overwhelmed by it. "Yeah, I sure did." I tell him. 'Why did I do that just now? Why do I feel so strange when he looks at me like that? I'm so confused…by everything.'

Caught up in my thoughts, I don't notice my brother sliding out of bed and trying to stand. Slowly and unsurely, he tries to make his way over to me. I notice after he's taken a few footsteps and call out his name, rushing to his side and placing my smaller body beneath his arm to act as a brace to keep him stable. "Here. Use me to help you walk." I offer selflessly and place a hand on his chest. He thanks me softly and I offer to take him home.

We both prepare and walk outside. The hospital is only a block away from our house and I don't have a car. Slowly, we made our way down the sidewalk. The air was fresh and thankfully the weather was not as cold as it could have been. Glancing up at the sky, I watch as a few birds soar above us. My blue eyes are distracted and glance to his face.

'I'm so glad that he's alright.' I think to myself as that vivid replay of the last moment of the car wreck plays through my mind. The car's nose slams into his body, causing him to fly effortlessly through the air. At that moment in time, it seems like he was toppling over himself in slow motion before he crashes to the ground. His form lands in a crumpled heap. 'That scared me so bad. I thought that he was dead. I'm so relieved that he wasn't, and now I don't want to upset him or be the reason that something like that happens again. I feel so guilty…like it's all my fault. I should have paid more attention to him, spent more time with him.' Ushio looks at me with those eyes so full of misery and warm affections and even though he is hurt, he still smiles. All I can do is stare back. 'That look…Why did he look at me like that? With such love in his eyes? It just makes me feel worse.'

"Sumerie, is something wrong?" He asks me, causing me to snap out of my current train of thought.

"Oh! No! I was just thinking about you. I'm worried, you know. You need your rest. I'm going to take care of you when we get home. We're going to spend some time together, just you and me." That was a promise that I could keep, a promise that I would keep. I don't want to leave him, not until he gets better at the very least.

He arches an eyebrow at my offer. "Are you sure? What about Tadao?"

"I saw him the other day. Besides, he's not hurt. Right now, I just care about us. About you…I want to make sure that you get better."

"Then stay with me." His words hold a weird edge to them that I can't quite describe. They nearly take my breath away.

"What?"

"I want you to stay with me. Don't go to Tadao."

"For now, I'll do that for you." I reply and we continue to walk home.

Once we get inside, I lay him in his bed gently. We stop by the pharmacy and fill his prescription along the way so his medicine is laying beside of him on his night stand. Soon, he is fast asleep. I guess the walk home really wore him out. I walk out of the room and into the kitchen, hungry I opened the fridge and glanced around at the contents within. Just as I am about to make my choice of foods to get the doorbell rings. I wonder who it is and walk over to open it. Who in the world could possibly be over here?

Upon revealing the identity of the one who showed up, it is a noticeable face. A girl with an athletic build, cat-like expression and dark blue, nearly black hair that was pulled into a side ponytail is standing there with a bouquet of light orange roses in her hands. She is dressed in her school uniform, which was black and yellow in coloration.

"Hello! I'm Koneko! You must be Sumerie, right?" She greets me happily.

"Uh…Yeah. Did you need something?" I ask hesitantly.

"I heard that Ushio was hit by a car. I came to check on him and see how he was doing." She informs me and I wonder how she finds out this information. I guess someone who knows my brother happened to see the accident, because neither of us has said a word to anyone. How odd.

'Word sure travels fast. It's barely been a day.' I think to myself before I reply to her. "Well, he's resting right now-"

"She can come in." Ushio calls from his room and nearly startles me in the process. Holding a hand to my chest, I turn in the direction of the projected voice.

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah, she's a good friend of mine." He assures and I tell her to come inside. She thanks me and hops inside, taking her shoes off in the door way. Koneko heads to the room and takes her seat on the chair that I usually sit in. The girl hands him the beautiful roses and smiles quaintly at him.

"These are for you, because I was thinking of you and I know they're kind of girly but I couldn't think of anything else, and I wasn't sure if you would have been able to eat any kind of candy or food." She wants to be on the safe side and takes his situation into consideration. I smile to myself at how sweet she is.

Taking the bunch, Ushio thanks the girl. "I appreciate them, and the thought that you put into them. I'll keep them until they wither."

Koneko clasps her hands together. "I'm so glad! I thought that maybe you wouldn't care too much about them. By the way, how are you feeling?" She nearly forgets to question him about his condition.

"Sore, and pretty stiff."

"You're lucky you're not in a full body cast." I sigh. It's not even a joke; I was really scared when I witnessed that accident. I'm happy that he didn't break or rupture anything. In fact, it's a miracle that he came out with as little damage as he had.

Ushio smiles calmly. "You're right. I am. Sorry to freak you out so much, Sumerie."

I sigh. "I'm just happy that you're not dead. You know that's all that matters to me."

"Yeah, I agree. The important thing is that you're alive. You're going to make a good recovery, right?" Koneko questioned after agreeing with me. I think it's unanimous that everyone is glad my brother is alive and in a good state for what he went through.

"I just have to take it easy for a while. If the pain gets too bad, I'll just have to take the pain medication." Even though I know my brother, he hates taking pills, but he'll take them if he knows that he doesn't have any other choice and they will make him feel better in the end.

Koneko rises from the chair, checking her watch. "Well, I'd better be on my way. I just wanted to stop by and ask about everything and make sure that you were okay. Well, as okay as you can get."

"I'll see you later, right?" Ushio questions.

The girl beams. "Sure thing! You can always count on me to cheer you up!" Koneko turns and begins to walk away, glancing over her shoulder at me and winking. "Bye Ushio, Sumerie…Now take care of him."

"Bye, Koneko." I smile and wave a little.

"See you later." My brother says his good bye as the door shuts. A moment later, he flinched in pain, gripping at the side the car impacted. I dart over to him and quickly assess the situation.

"Are you okay? Do you need pain medication?" I ask as my thoughts run a mile a minute. I really don't want to feel like I'm useless and in many ways, I want to help him because I of my guilt over the situation.

"Ugh…This sharp pain in my side. It must have been where the car struck me." He flinches again and closes one eye.

"Here, let me help you." I lean in and lay him down on the bed, pushing his shoulders back slowly.

"You always do." His words are endearing, and have sexual undertones to them. Placing his hand on the back of my head is almost like he paralyzes me. I stare into his eyes, unaware that he is slowly drawing my head in. The moment felt surreal, as if it was frozen in time. I want to pull back. I know what's going to happen, but I don't even try to stop it. Thoughts are running through my head at high speed. They tell me I should pull away. They warn me of the choice that I am about to make. I shouldn't. I could turn away at any time, but I choose to stay where I am. I don't want to fight him, and I'm not going to turn him away. No matter what happens, I will always be at his side. No words can describe how I feel about him, and if this is wrong then so be it. Brand me as a horrible person.

Maybe, just maybe I want it.

A flush covers my cheeks and before I say anything to him, our lips touch. At that moment, I realize that this is not a normal kiss. There is much more feeling to it than usual. He is fearful, yet passionate like a kiss that someone would give to their lover. 'No…this is sinful. It's disgusting and evil.' My thoughts are berating me. My eyes dart open out of fright and I pull away. 'I can't do this. There are pre-set notions that society slams down on humanity. Then again…where exactly does the line fall on love? Isn't it forever being defined? Isn't it always distorted? I don't know. Love is…What is love? What defines it?'

"What's wrong?" He questions as I turn my head away.

"We…We shouldn't be kissing like that." I say, my voice trembles more than I want it to.

"Why? What's wrong with a loving kiss between brother and sister?" The question is so simple that it was as if the action was something that everyone did and it was abnormal to query it.

"It felt like…more than that." My voice trembled as I placed two fingers to my lips, feeling the still present moisture on them.

"What's wrong if it were? Isn't it only important how you feel about it?"

I turn to face him. "What are you saying? We're brother and sister."

"Why is that a factor? Where in the rules of love that is says that we can't be related?" Ushio asks and the question strikes me deep.

"I…" The sentence trails off as my thoughts consume me. 'This is the point in which I realized that Ushio had lost it…or…maybe he just finally decided to tell me the truth about his unusually close feelings towards me. My head is swimming. I don't know what to think. I feel so…guilty…but…I feel worse when I deny him. Why? Why do I feel this way?' I question myself over and over again, but no answers come up. It leaves my face in a mixture of emotions as I simply stare at my brother.

"Being incest used to be the foundation of what pure relationships were long ago." Ushio explains to me his reasoning for seeing things the way that he did.

"Huh?" I question him.

"Many civilizations believed that in order to keep their bloodlines pure, that the sister and brother had to wed each other, and it was accepted." If that was how it could be back then, why was it so horrible that such a thing happened now?

"I don't think that sort of thing is now, besides…Tadao." I did have a boyfriend. I know that my brother doesn't like him, but I can't cheat on him, even with my brother's feelings taken into consideration. Even if I were to think about the point that he was trying to make, the fact still remains that Tadao is my boyfriend and right now, we are together.

Ushio doesn't like hearing this, and his expression hardens. "What about him? He doesn't deserve you." He shoots; his voice is wrathful and cold.

"You really hate him…don't you?" I ask, knowing the answer already.

Suddenly, he slaps his hand over my eyes, which caused me to gasp at the sudden contact. I am turned around and grabbed around the waist by his other arm, falling into his lap. His hand runs over my torso, his fingers trace over my stomach and runs along my curves. My heart is beating so quickly that I think it will burst from my chest.

"What are you doing?" My voice comes out fast as gaspy in tone.

"When your eyes are covered, a touch is a touch. Could you tell, even if I wasn't talking to you whose touch this was? Is my touch different than Tadao's?" Another question that strikes me deep. When my eyes are closed, can I really tell the difference from the way my brother touches me and the way that my lover touches me? My body freezes up and I think to myself.

'Could I? I mean, maybe he's right. What do I feel when I feel him touch me? Whose touch is it? What does it mean? To me, it's the touch of someone who's loving and kind. Someone who would never let me fall. Someone I love…but can a brother…really be…What am I doing? Why am I thinking like this? What would people think to know that I do such things with my brother? Wait…Why should I care? What if everything was in secret? Wait…" My thoughts cut off as his hand ventures up my shirt, his fingers trace over my breasts through my bra which causes the flush on my cheeks to brighten. 'When I think about it…He is everything to me. I take care of him and my world revolves around him. I even sacrifice my time with my own boyfriend for him. When Ushio is sad, so am I. It's like we feel each other's emotions and act as a union. It sounds cliché, but I do love him. I'd do anything for him…Why does love have to be a thing that torments me? Thinking about this was wrong and it makes me sick. Ushio suffered so much. Seeing him like this…it doesn't make me sick at all. It makes me want to comfort him. He's toying with my feelings, manipulating them to his liking, and I don't mind. I like being bound to him by these shackles…even if it's wrong. Maybe…Maybe I loved him this much from the start.' Slowly, I place my hand on his, removing it from my face as he placed his lips to my ear.

"I love you, Sumerie. Even if you are my little sister. That love won't change. I want you to heal me, Sumerie." He whispers into my ear. The words infiltrate my senses and speak straight to my heart in that voice that I love so much.

'Right now…I just won't think. He needs me, and for once, I'll save my prince.' Immediately, I turn and straddle him and give way to temptation and my feelings. "I'll…I'll do it, but just for tonight. Don't tell anyone about this. It'll be our secret." I say to him as he wraps his arms around me. I bend down over him and run my hands gently along his body, being careful of his injuries. I feel his hands on me, roaming over my skin and under my skirt. We kiss again, this time it is more passionate than the last one had been. I feel more confident and more emotional. I am even as daring as to let my tongue dance with his for a few moments. I am past the point of debate and I have given in to the most primal need of them all. I arch into his touches, which feel like burning fire against my skin. The moment became heated as kisses, licks, nips and caresses were made with an entanglement of limbs. It is so strange but I don't mind it, and the more things intensified, the more I want it. It is like a secret love, a forbidden moment meant for us to share in private. It doesn't matter what would happen, all I thought about was now. I love him, and that feeling burned brighter than ever before.

ENDO'S POV

"I know that this isn't your old house, but-"Shigeki started to explain to me, before I cut him off.

"It doesn't matter. I don't think a part of myself wants me to compare it to it." I tell him. More than anything, I do not want to compare it to that structure and all of the memories that were attached to it. He turns and glances at me with a confused expression written all over his visage.

"Why? Isn't that the place you grew up with? It holds a lot of good memories, right?" He questions me.

"It also holds a lot of baggage. I've realized that I can't speed my life comparing the future to the past. I'll get stuck in a rut that way. All I can do is keep moving forward. If I move back, I might fall into a hole. Besides, there are a lot of holes back there." I say as I feel his arms wrap around me from behind. I tense up for a moment before exhaling and loosening up against his form.

"Then we'll move forward…together." He says in my ear and I sigh lightly to myself, closing my eyes.

"That sounds nice."

SUMERIE'S POV

I wake up with my shirt off. The only thing that I am wearing is my bra, panties and skirt. I look over to see that my brother is also shirtless and sleeping soundly beside of me. I gaze at him for a while, unmoving from my position and a crushing feeling cascades over my body, hitting harder than it ever did before. 'Why do I feel so guilty now? Is it because I liked what we did? Am I ashamed of myself for doing it? Is it because of Tadao? I technically cheated on him with my own brother. I've never cheated on anyone before. I've always been so faithful to fall of my boyfriends. How?' Slowly, I get up and pick up my shirt, quietly slipping it on. I sigh to myself as my thoughts continue to assault me. 'How do you tell your boyfriend that you're stuck in a strange decision? How do you tell him that in the end, you'll have to pick either him or your brother? I can't tell him that! No way! He'll think I'm sick in the head…but am I? Am I really sick in the head? Ushio told me all of those things about the love of a brother and sister. Is he right? I wonder, dear brother…' My thoughts fade as I glance over my shoulder at his sleeping form. 'Do you regret what we did, too?'

There is a knock at the door.

"Hm? Oh! Coming!" I shouted upon noticing the realization. I walk up to the door and open it, finding Tadao standing on this other side; he stares at me with those piercing eyes. It was as if he can see straight through me, to all of the things that I had done with my brother. My blood runs cold and I almost feel like I am going to faint. For the first time in my life, I am scared of my own boyfriend. "Oh, Tadao, what are you doing here?" I ask uneasily as Ushio walks up while we're engaged in conversation.

"Just wanted to know if you wanted to come to a concert with me later on. It starts at seven o'clock, and it's Elite Enterprise. What do you say?" He asks, smiling at me in hopes that I would not turn down his offer.

"I can't, sorry." That answer only makes me feel all the more guilty.

"She's busy, so fuck off." Ushio tells him harshly.

Oh no, it's going to start another fight. This is not what anyone needs.

"No one asked you. Why don't you go lay back in bed." Tadao shoots back, his posture is defensive and his face is marred with anger.

"Why don't you mind your own business and stop cutting into my time? Sumerie is mine until I get better, so find something else to do." Ushio argues, standing really close behind me. I feel overshadowed by his presence.

"What give you the right to call her yours?" The boy with the purple streak in his hair continues the argument. He does have a right to ask, because he is my boyfriend, but still. I wish that he would just walk away this time and come back later.

Suddenly, Ushio grabs me and pulled me into a passionate kiss, right in front of Tadao! I'm so shocked that I don't even know how to react. Our relationship is supposed to be a secret and he just exposed it right in front of my boyfriend. I cannot believe that he would betray my trust and do such a thing. Before the kiss gets any more passionate, I am ripped back by Tadao. All I can do is stand there in shock. My worst fears came true. Maybe I will be forced to choose between them sooner than I thought.

"Don't do that to her! She's your sister!" Tadao scolds him. "You're a sick fuck!" His brazen, cold gaze then rips through my soul as he looks to me with disdain. "And YOU…why didn't you stop him? What, are you incest, too?"

…To Be Continued

Dark Flower Romance: Book 2: Wicked
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Dark Flower Romance

Book 2: Wicked

Written by: Melissa Norvell/Revamp

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"Bride?" Zahra recoiled, a look of horror and shock crossed her visage. "Oh no…They didn't!" She said to herself as her anxiety piqued. Panic filled her body and she could feel her heart pounding so much that it was as if it was sounding in her eardrums. The very thought that they would just dump her off anywhere like this in her sleep was frightening, saddening and it felt like betrayal. She was a member of Savresh's pride. How could they treat her that way? Was it because she inadvertently defended Tajara? Was he truly that horrible of a lion that made his name unspeakable? She didn't even know about the legend of his infamy, much less much else of what went on in Gir Forest. The only point that the young lioness was even trying to make was that there were two sides to every story. Now Zahra was forced to pay for her life-changing thoughts. Now, she found herself staring into the ice cold eye of the very death of her ancestors.

Tajara frowned sternly. This was not what Savresh had told him would happen. In fact, he was a little peeved that Zahra reacted the way that she had. "I take it you're an unwilling subject?"

"What? I don't understand what's going on here." Subject? What in the world did he mean by that? What was she supposed to be a subject for?

Something was definitely up now. Did they plan this out before hand? If that was the truth, then maybe it wasn't because she inadvertently defended Tajara but because of something else? Could this have been planned for a while? What if it was planned before she was even born? Now her mind was just running away with itself. Zahra really needed to stop and think clearly. As soon as she calmed her speeding heart down. If she wasn't careful she was going to give herself cardiac trauma of some type.

"Do you know Savresh?"

She looked to him, straightening up her posture. The lionesses' voice was laced in suspicion. "Was he the one who brought me here?"

"Savresh told me that if I left Gir Forest, then he would give me a bride." That was their original pact; however, the white lion was slightly misled into believing that his bride to be was going to be a willing subject, and not a scared, young lioness that didn't have a clue as to what was going on.

Tears clung to her brown eyes. Zahra felt as if someone had stomped on her heart and ripped it to shreds. The blazing pain in her chest spread to her limbs. Of all of the situations she could have been in, this was quite possibly the worst outcome. "Are you sure it was Savresh?" At this point, her feelings picked up pace from panic to sheer disbelief. "Please tell me that it wasn't. I mean, I could understand if it was Karobi. She hated anything I said that sounded like I defended you but Savresh…no…no…" The cinnamon lioness shook her head over and over, as if to rid herself of this moment in time, or that Savresh could even be a possibility of the one who abducted her and brought her to this den of hell.

"I'd be half curious if you didn't sound so ungrateful." Honestly, this lioness treated him as if he were the most horrible thing on earth to be around. If this was the bride that had an open-mind then he didn't want to see the one whose mind was closed. Zahra was acting like a little cub instead of a dignified lioness that showed any amount of pride.

Zahra lay down, burying her head in her paws as she wept. "I didn't think they'd really do it. Savresh was my father." That last bit of information was what made this blow all the more painful. Karobi was of no real relation to her, but Savresh and Sultana were her parents. Never in a million years did she believe that they would just sacrifice her like they had.

Tajara arched an eyebrow, unmoving from his position. "So that's it. Heh, they're still the same as they were when I knew them."

The only sound that could be heard during his words was the sobs of his bride to be. Looking upon her with his cold eye, the white lion decided that it was time to give her some tough love. "No amount of tears will make them care enough to come back for you."

"This can't be real." Her voice was muffled from beneath her appendages.

"You're a puppet on a lonely string. You should know that you have no option but to turn your cheek for the sake of the show. You can cut the strings but that is your decision. It seems your parents like to cast away their problems instead of facing them." It was a trend in more ways than one, unfortunately. Zahra was merely a fragment to the whole puzzle behind her parent's motives. Tajara felt sorry for her in that aspect. However, convincing her of the true antagonist would be more than a long road to travel and the terrain was more than rugged.

Lifting her tear-stained face, she looked to the majestic one with a gaze of worry. "What are you going to do with me?" The uncertainty was killing her sentiments, and right now if she could avoid it, Zahra didn't want any more emotionally devastating blows.

Tajara took a couple of steps towards her, his gait slow but powerful. "You want to be my bride. That is what you will be, but I want you to understand that this is simply a role, a purpose in life that is fulfilled. Mates are purely there for companionship. Survival. An equal partnership. Mating was never about love."

The very dialogue and meaning of which made her blood run cold. It was as if she was in a relationship with a horrible, unfeeling monster. So, he would never love her? No matter what happened? That was just cold. It was all too much to bear.

Zahra just wanted to cry again.

She lowered her head and frowned in sorrow. "You make it sound so cruel."

Tajara walked around her in long, loping circles. "It's merely the truth. When your brain is overwhelmed with the desire to mate, you're not thinking with your head. Most of the time, you aren't even thinking. The desire to reproduce is so strong that it consumes you like a burning flame. We are fulfilling a basic urge that has been in existence since the first lion was birthed into the world. It's a release from those feelings, that consuming urge. We give each other what we need. That is how it works." No matter how much she would try to romanticize it, or make it sound like a beautiful love story, it was not. She should rid herself of such nonsensical crap, because that was not what the true mating seasons were about, nor was it what being someone's mate was about.

"So, you're saying that this isn't about love?" Zahra asked in a quivering voice as she sat up and watched her potential mate prowl around her. "That we shouldn't try to have feelings for each other?" This wasn't what she wanted. This was not her idea of a good relationship. It sounded more like abuse and manipulation.

The white one paused, closing his eye he chuckled slightly to himself. "Heh, I'll make this very clear. From this point on, you are marked as mine. You. Are. Mine. That is an undisputed claim. It is my right as a male to protect you. If anyone dares to touch what I have, I will kill them on the spot." That was a promise.

She nodded in defeat. "I understand. I guess I don't have a choice."

That blue eye, rimmed with a thick, black outline opened. "Don't make it sound so horrible. It's like I'm going to abuse you." He snorted at the very accusation.

"I want to go home."

"You are home. This is your home. Don't you get it? They sold your soul to me. I can't believe how stupid you're being." Tajara stalked up to her, nearly getting in her face. This one had a lot to learn. Even so, he was shocked that the real message wasn't registering to her brain. How dare she wish to go back to a place that so easily got rid of her. It was stupidity of the highest degree that she would think of doing such an asinine thing.

"I'm not being stupid." She argued. It was only natural to want to go home. Even if the lions gave her to him, there had to be a reason why. More than anything, Zahra longed to talk to them, to talk to him and see why he would so selfishly sacrifice her to Tajara. There were two sides to every story.

"Then what do you call it when someone tries to go back to those who cast them out?" Tajara pressed.

"I'd rather be with them."

"You're with me now."

"You're creepy and mean." Zahra shot back. She had to defend herself or the white beast was going to stomp on her feelings more than he already was. He was so cold Antarctica's temperatures failed in comparison.

"Tell me something I don't know." He had heard it all before. In fact, he had been called far worse.

"I don't love you." Nor would she ever if his promise of "love" was just companionship. That was not at all what she wanted.

"It's mutual." He couldn't make someone feel anything, nor would he try.

Zahra frowned, her sorrow turning to anger as she shot to her feet and growled. "You idiot! Why did you take me as a bride if you don't love me?"

"You wanted me away from your precious pride. That is the cost of your sacrifice." After all, she was doing it for them. No matter how lowly they may have been.

That blow felt as if her heart had finally torn in half. The tears came back, cascading down her fur and matting it to her face. "You stupid jerk."

"Why don't you stop crying? You just look like a fool." Tears were unbefitting of his bride. Not to mention, they were uselessly shed. It was not as if her loving father cared about her if he so quickly arranged for her to end up at his den. If anyone was the heartless jerk, it was him. No matter how bad his legend was, that was far lower.

Obviously, Tajara was missing the real point of her tears. "If you take someone as your bride, it should be because you love them. You just told me that you can't ever love me."

This subject again? He thought he explained it, but he would do so again, since she was being hard headed. "I took you as my bride under Savresh's rules. That's why we're mates. You'll submit to me when I want you to. I'll do what I wish to you, regardless of the feelings behind it because you are my mate. I have to make this clear to you."

"So, you you'll never love me?" Was that truly the fate that she was to be doomed to? If so, then Tajara truly was the heartless beast that her pride claimed him to be.

"I'll be your mate-"He was cut off.

"You still don't understand." Was he truly this dense?

"What am I not getting?" For once, Tajara really was confused at her cryptic round of inquisition.

Zahra glared into that ice-blue eye. "I want to love you eventually. I can't deny that. I don't even want to. I want to make it work; make the best of the situation. When we're together…I want…I just want you to…" Curse it all. She was breaking down and giving into her emotions again.

"What? Be nice to you?" That wasn't his style.

The lioness shook her head lightly. "I don't want to feel like your slave."

"We're mates. I will treat you as such. I think that you have delusions on what you think constitutes for being mates. You do not have to be in love to be someone's mate." By definition, a mate was someone who complimented you, a life partner. There was a bond that only mates held, and it was not based on love. Once Zahra understood this, she would appreciate what he was telling her now.

Zahra slowly walked into the den with her head down. "I want to just…think about things. Go away."

"I don't even know your name." Tajara took a step towards her retreating form, but then decided not to push his luck too far with her.

"It's Zahra, now go away."

"This is my den." The white one noted.

"They'll come back for me. I just know it." As much as Zahra didn't want to acknowledge it, by now she had become delusional, wanting so desperately to believe that her pride knew that they made a mistake. No matter how far she was from the truth, the lioness wanted to live with that blow-crushing faux statement; it lightened her already hard blow.

A low rumble was emitted from the white beast's throat at her statement. If that was what she chose to believe, then it would only hurt her more in the end with each day her pride did not show up for her.

"I deserve better." She murmured from within the confines of the den.

That was just crossing the line. His large, white claws dug into the earth as he shook with malice. "You ungrateful…" Tajara growled. This young one was really trailing his patience.

"You're not one of us." She added to her round of verbal blows.

"You're still a puppet." He stalked into the den and stared her down.

"So?" Zahra pouted with her back turned to him in a hunkered down, submissive posture.

"You are my mate. No matter what garbage comes from your mouth." Maybe beating her down with a possessive statement would help her realize not to talk to her superior in such a hateful tone.

"I don't understand." She never did. Zahra didn't know how to respond or what choice was right. She just wanted him to go away.

"You will."

"I have a question."

"What?"

"What are we?" This was still a topic on her mind. She wasn't sure if she wanted to believe her pride was coming for her, or to believe that there could be some sort of relationship between her and Tajara. Which answer was right? Zahra shook her head, praying that he would not dignify her with another cold answer as he had repetitively before.

"What kind of question is that?" Didn't he just answer this a multitude of times? How many times must he repeat himself?

"Does this make us friends?" If there was no love, then what was it? She was honestly confused.

"Ugh." How irritating. She still didn't understand what constituted as mates.

"I want to know." Zahra turned around and mustered the utmost look of honesty.

"Whatever you want." There was no use in even trying at this point. The outcome was going to be the same no matter what route he took.

"Could you love me?" She was afraid to ask it again. Zahra knew it was like asking a hunter to drive another bullet into her already bleeding heart, but she hoped and prayed that his answer would be different, that the icy barrier around his black heart would melt at least a little and expose the tender flesh that made him a living creature.

"We're mates. Be happy with that." Instead, the blow came again, but more cryptic than before.

"I want to know." The white lion came closer, so much that she could feel the warm exhale through his nose. Closing her eyes he came closer still, the fur on their bodies danced as he brushed against her, gently nuzzling the side of her face. She repeated the phrase bolder than before, which caused him to pause. "I know that you don't really love me." His affections meant nothing, no matter how rare of a moment it was for him. Actions were hollow unless there were feelings behind them. He already stated that he would not love her, therefore such actions were deemed meaningless.

"Love is subject to opinion." He said, keeping close to her and making no further moves. To justify that action with any more affection would prove deceptive.

"So, I'm just your prize? Jerk." Zahra turned her head away in anger.

"You are my companion."

"That's not what I mean." They were back to square one.

"We're mates."

"But, you don't love me."

"I don't have to love you. Maybe one day, you'll get that." She really knew how to take his words out of context.

Zahra said nothing; just shot him a hateful glare.

"Mine to kill. Mine to have. Mine. You. Are. Mine."

The lioness gave up this verbal argument. Lowering her head, she sighed. "Fine."

"You still don't sound satisfied."

"I'm not."

"I could have guessed."

"Tell me something, Tajara." Looking thoughtful for a moment, her hate-filled visage melted away to a skeptical one.

"Hm?" He socked his head slightly. What possible barrage of insults could she have for him now?

"Why did you do this?" As long as they were staying in the same quarters, Zahra wanted to at least find out about his legend. Was he truly a monster, or were the pride of Gir Forest wrong? Did he murder her ancestors? If he did, then why did he do it? Was the rumor true or were they all filling her head full of delusions?

"Why did I do what?" That was a broad topic of accusations. She would really simplify her question, or at least be more specific as to what exactly he was being blamed for.

"Why do you kill my people? Why did you kill Bhim, Hafiza and Shefalika? They raised you as if you were their own." That was what she didn't understand. How could someone kill the very ones who protected and raised them from a cub?

"You wouldn't understand even if I told you." It wouldn't make much difference, not if she already hated him and believed everything that was being pumped into her mind by the other members of her pride. Talking to her was already like talking to a brick wall. At this point, things couldn't be much worse.

"I asked because I want to know. I can't get to know you when you're pushing me away." Zahra knew the statement was hypocritical but she wanted to at least try. If you couldn't beat them, join them. That was how she saw it anyway.

"The truth hurts. There are some truths that are painful. Too painful for your ears or eyes to bear witness to." Among these secrets were the ones of the murder of her ancestor's pride. This would be a warning for her to heed in the future. If she chose to delve into the chasm of his past then she would be nothing but hurt when she stared down the monstrous face of certainty.

"The truth sets you free." That's how the young lioness saw it. Even if it hurt, the truth made her stronger.

"To obtain the truth, you must first be able to accept the fact that you and I are both alike." No matter how much it may have disgusted her, it was also an undisputable fact. If Zahra didn't acknowledge the simple things, then there was no way that she would get the complexity of the latter bits of information that she would soon find out.

"But we aren't and I didn't just mean that because we're two different species of lion." Zahra explained. "I mean that because we love two different lives. You're rouge and a killer. I don't understand your motives. You tell me I shouldn't know, but that doesn't make you look any better. How can you be so cold, uncontrolled and rigid? How can your heart be so small? Don't you have any feelings at all? Can't you let go of the past? If the members of my pride did something to you ages ago, can't you find it in your heart to forgive them? There's enough room for everyone to live. Can't you find it in your heart to forgive them?" Surely this could all be worked out. It couldn't be beyond repair. There was a way to fix this. There had to be.

"That is up for interpretation. No, I will not forgive them and neither would you. If you knew our history. My intentions are not to go into Gir Forest and kill whomever I choose. If you must know anything, then know that, Zahra." That was final. There was no 'working things out'. There was only a sense of justice that had to be upheld. If no one but him understood that, then so be it. Tajara did not have to explain his actions to anyone.

"A reason? What reason is that? Please tell me. I want to know what we caused to make it alright to kill us."

"You say you want to love me?" The white lion danced around the topic at hand. He didn't really feel like going around on another subject with her that he wasn't truly going to answer.

"Huh? Are you changing subjects again?" She turned around to see the white beast pacing back and forth a few feet away. If he was trying to get out of answering her questions, she certainly wasn't going to let him get away with it. Sooner or later, he would have to tell her the truth.

"There's a place where few have ventures. A place that is grotesque and twisted. Darkness deeper than the depths of the underworld. It would make those sound in mind run away. Everyone has this dark side. I am the one that the others are dying to see. This life I lead is thankless, a creature raised in hatred. Forsaken by those who claimed to be my parents. I'm sure you'd like to see me burn. You all gave me this hate, the hate that makes me burn with the repulsion of not being able to stand who I am. My claws that are bathed in this blood that I am so damned. "He turned to her with a serious expression. "Tell me, Zahra…can you love that?"

His speech was so passionate that all the young lioness could do for a few moments was stare, wordless. By the time she finally snapped out of her state, she replied, "…Tajara…is that why you say that mates don't have to love each other?" She thought that she finally understood. "Is it because you think no one is capable of loving you?"

Turning silently, he walked to the opening of the den.

"Wait!" She called out, causing him to pause and glance over his shoulder at her. "I was brought here, not really knowing why. I'm past the point of no return, past the point of right and wrong, past the moment where words have definition, past the point where there is an option. I am here with you and that decision has been made. The blood will rise and the flames of the underworld will consume us. If I am your bride, then I will stand by you." Zahra paused, forcing the last sentences out. "Even if you kill my pride. Like you said, mates are not about love."

Tajara snickered before erupting into a fit of laughter. His deep voice echoed through the hollowed cave. The bouncing sounds pounded against the lioness' ears as a frown marred her face.

"What's so funny? You're a wicked soul to laugh at that. I meant what I said." Zahra folded her ears back as she preached to him. More than anything, she hated being laughed at.

"You want to leave that badly, do you?"

"I've already told you how I feel." She shot, still looking peeved at his prior laughter.

"I have an idea, if you care to entertain me." Tajara smiled.

"What's that? I'm tired of being laughed at and humiliated." Anything was better than this. All they did was argue. She was starting to resent the fact that she ever felt sorry for this arrogant jerk.

"It's been a while since I've had a good fight. So, I'll make a proposition to you. If you can overpower me, just once and pin me to the ground then I'll let you go." Even though he knew what the outcome would be, Tajara decided to let the pretty little lioness have a try at him. If nothing else, it would teach her to be stronger and allow her to learn skills that she had not yet acquired. Zahra would be a more efficient adolescent.

She cast a suspicious eye to him. "You won't come back to Gir Forest and kill more Asiatic Lions?"

"I can abide by that." Fair was fair.

"This is unfair." Not the way she saw it.

"It's designed to be that way." What good would it do to pose no real threat to her? Without challenge, it was far too easy.

"That's evil." Her eyes narrowed.

"I didn't say that it would be fair. I'll give you a day to prepare yourself. You can set yourself free from all that binds you then." The white lion told her as he slowly stalked out of the cave. Zahra followed suit, questioning him as to where he was headed. Tajara turned, the evening sunlight bounced off of white mane, bathing it in orange. "I'm going to kill a sambar for dinner. It should be enough for the two of us. You'll need the nourishment to face me."

…To Be Continued

Capricious Infection: Act 10: What Child Is This?
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Capricious Infection

Act 10: What Child Is This?

By: Melissa Norvell/Revamp

XxXxXxXxXx

David froze up. This question again? He looked thoughtful, trying to muster up an answer of some sort without making himself look flamingly homosexual. "Hmmm…Uh…Well, a brocrush is kind of like…a really close friendship. Sort of like you want to be around them and you'd go out with them if you could."

Oz arched an eyebrow. "Then why don't you if that's what you desire?"

This must be a cultural difference. Okay, so he was dealing with this weird bisexual alien now.

He couldn't help but blush a little in embarrassment at the other's words. "What are you trying to say?" No, really. What was he trying to say? Was he being asked out by an alien?

The other man's cheeks turned a slight ashen shade. "I didn't…I mean…shut the fuck up. You're the one offering to be my stratos. Make up your mind or what you want." Oz fumed, losing his cool demeanor as he balled his fists and irritation crossed his face. First, this human acts as if he wants to be in a sector of his, then he plays games with his thinking organ. It was ten different types of frustrating.

David blinked. "Dude, I don't even know what that is…"

"It's the person closest to you. Kind of like your human "best friend"." That was as close as he could even get to such a thing. Although, there were differences…very big differences.

"Okay…So, what's wrong with it?" If it was the equivalent to being best friends on alien terms, then why couldn't they just agree to be "stratos" or "best friends"? Honestly, this should be as hard as they are both trying to make it.

"Watch what you're implying." The warning was colder than even his usual tone of voice. David couldn't figure out what exactly this guy's deal was.

"What kind of weird alien friendship do you have?" Maybe that would be a good question to ask. If they wanted to understand each other, it was best that they understood their differences and what they entailed. It seemed as if Oz's friendship term was something to worry about. That meant it was obviously different than human friendship.

"Dius have two types of lifetime partners: a pyrex and a stratos." Oz explained. "In our world, there are two types of love. They are both equally important and they are both considered romantic."

"So, you have two lovers?" This just kept getting weirder and weirder. Questions flooded his head, but the young male decided that he would either ask him about the unspoken subjects later or see if they got brought up in conversation so he could ask him at the most opportune time.

"Sort of, each type of love has its limitations. One lover is sheerly for mating purposes, and one is simply being so close that you would do them sexual favors. It's like the feeling of having a family member-"

"If you're incest." David was quick to cut him off. That was NOT how humans did it. He didn't even want to think any father on the subject for fear of unwanted mental images.

"Incest?"

"That's what it's called if you try to reproduce with your parents or siblings…or anyone else related to you by blood."

"We never see our "parents" or as we call them, well bringers." Oz informed.

"Who raises you?" If seemed they had a very different lifestyle as well. This might be harder than he originally thought it to be.

"We raise ourselves. Unlike your human birth, we hatch from eggs. We are water bound for four years in a pupa-type state before we evolve into a bipedal form."

"So, you're like frogs?" At least that sounded close to what frogs did. It was hard to believe that they hatched from eggs and evolved like some sort of frog hybrid. When Oz touched his skin, his hands felt just like human skin. It was truly baffling how human-like the Dius were. Minus having horns, claws and fangs, they almost looked human.

"Unlike your frog creatures, we lose our aquatic abilities after we transform. However, we do retain our ability to swim." Minus Tarvos, but he was a special case.

"Man, we're so different. This making a world together thing is going to be hard." Harder than he had first expected it to be. David thought that they had minor differences that they could work out, but that wasn't even the case here. They were raised differently, had no sense of parenting, two lovers and the teen could only guess what other number of odd qualities that they possessed.

In these aspects, they truly were aliens of their own right.

Oz straightened his glasses, putting two fingers on one of the legs and adjusting them slightly. "I admit it will be a challenge. I know what awaits us and we'll have to work things out as we go along. I just hope that you'll be willing to work with us." More than anything, he needed the help of this particular group of humans. They alone were the soul saviors of their race.

"I admit that I never imagined any of this would happen. I feel like I'm living a dream. All of this seems so far out. Too far out to be real." The bereavement of the students, the continuing death toll, meeting Oz and gaining powers and weapons. It was as if he was playing a real life version of Twisted Land. Everything was hauntingly surreal. Sometimes, he wondered what he would wake up to, or if he would at all. This was as disturbing as it was exhilarating.

"David…do you have a pyrex?" This was not David's favorite subject, but he'd tell Oz about it.

"You mean a mate? Well, I used to have one but she dumped me for my best friend." His voice grew low. Not because he was sad over it, but because the whole situation left him slightly bitter. Not at his friend but at his ex.

"Dumped?" What kind of human term was this?

"Human mates aren't permanent. If you decide that you don't like your mate, then you can get rid of them. That's what she did to me." He calmly explained.

"What was her name?" Obviously it was someone that he knew. Maybe someone in his group of friends, or someone he played Twisted Land with. Regardless, Oz probably knew who they were.

"It was Ayumi."

"The Dark Maiden?" The alien was a little shocked by that revelation. The two didn't really interact, much less talk to each other. Then again, that should have been a clue right there.

"In the game, that's what she was." David's words were simple, before he decided to tell Oz the whole story of how they became to be, and how everything had ended between them. "After my father died, Ayumi and I became close. We knew each other all of our lives, and I thought we had love, but she ended up really liking my friend, Dante. She broke up with me to go out with him, but then she asked Dante, he turned her down so they stayed friends. She kept trying to impress him."

"Well, she's gone now. She was one of the unfit ones."

"Unfit ones?" What was that?

There was no real way such a term could be explained to make it sound good. Oz might as well have been truthful about it. "She kept dying, so she had to be rid of. Clearly she was not chosen to see our new world."

What was this guy doing? Was he trying to play god? David was trying not to be offended. "I don't get it. How do you dictate that?"

"No one would live. Only us. It's our job to repopulate this world."

"I am not doing it eight million times to pop out babies." He might as well get straight to the point. If that was how he wanted to repopulate the world then that would not be happening ever. Let the human race go extinct if that was the case.

"You won't have to."

"What? Then how are we going to repopulate the world?" This made no sense. Unless they were just going to make a lot of clones of themselves, then he really didn't see how any of this was going to work. If they were the only humans alive, and he and a couple of others were the only Dius…then wasn't that the logical deduction as to what would have to be accomplished in order to achieve repopulation?

"You'll see." The corners of the alien's mouth tugged into a slight smile. It wasn't at all what David thought, although it was amusing to see him rack his thinking organ over such miniscule details. The confusion on his face was priceless.

XxXxXx

A small rock smacked the winged Dius in the back of the head. The sharp pain registered enough to cause Tarvos to stop in his tracks. He blinked lazily and slowly turned around, his hands still in his pockets. There, a few feet away was a very pissed off looking Dante, clad in a black vest with a large, white fur collar, a red shirt and stone washed jeans the boy had his hands on his hips and rested his weight to one side.

"Oh, it's just you." Tarvos was nonchalant about the situation. No doubt Dante just came to stir up trouble. He might as well amuse him.

"Fuck you, Tarvos." As charming and classy as ever. If he had any more manners it would earn him an etiquette award.

"It's obvious that you have some kind of problem with me."

"Only the fact that you're mindfucking everyone around you." His eyes narrowed. "I know that you did it. I know that you killed everyone at school, so tell me why you did it." He wanted answers and he wanted them now. Oz didn't pop in until the school incident happened. Tarvos probably called him in for help on whatever grandiose plan they were trying to pull together. The jig was up for both of them.

"I was with Rezzi the whole time." That was his story and he was sticking with it. Mostly because it was true. If Dante wanted a confession, he was sadly not going to get any from him.

"Your fake-ass alibis have no effect on me." Nope. He wasn't having any of Tarvos' bullshit. Not today.

"I didn't ask you whether or not you believed them or cared." He knew the answer to those little inquiries anyway.

"Why don't you fuck off and stop acting like some sort of viral parasite, sucking the life out of Rezzi?" More than anything, he hated the fact that this demon was some kind of leech to his blind friend. He cared about that girl, damn did he ever care about her but he wasn't about to let Tarvos drain her dry or manipulate her any further.

"It's not even like that. If your answer was even close to right then I'd be willing to entertain you, but I'm not interested." He had more important things to do, and didn't Dante have to train? Time was lives was it not? Someone was falling down on their job.

"What are you?" He could at the very least answer that.

Tarvos smiled darkly, showing off his mouth of horrifying teeth. "Your worst nightmare."

"That's not funny." The dark-haired boy crossed his arms over his chest with a huff.

"I wasn't trying to be. I am a being of many mysteries." Like hell he was giving this kid a straight answer.

"You are mindfucking us." That only proved it.

"Don't be so sore. You'll eventually find out who I am. More importantly, how can you see me? No human should be able to see through my magical barrier." It was far more intriguing that this boy could see him than any of those other trite subjects that he brought up. Someone with an equally mystifying presence shouldn't be so hypocritical about his state of existence. That was how he saw it, anyway.

"Well, isn't that just unfortunate? Too fucking bad for you that I can see it." It was for the best that he did. Someone had to see through his disguise before he made everyone pay with whatever foul sins he was committing.

"You interest me. Ever since I saw your face of horror at the day you saw me. I knew that you were different. I'm sure I've never met you before and yet I feel like I have." The feeling of familiarity was what truly intrigued him. Why did he feel as if he had known this boy? Why could he see through his façade? There was something truly fascinating about this situation, despite the underlying promise of the outcome.

Dante arched an eyebrow. "I can't say that I don't feel like I know you myself, but I could have never possibly met you. Ever. I don't fucking get it." No matter how much he wanted to deny it, and how much he already had denied it, he wouldn't lie to Tarvos. This demon felt familiar, but how? The two of them felt the exact same way about each other and yet they have never met.

"I feel the same way." Tarvos agreed before smiling suggestively at him. "It's strange, really. You hold a certain attraction." His voice lowered into a sultry tone that gave the dark-haired male shivers of repulsion up his spine.

"Stop it with your creepy shit." Dante reeled back at him, his expression more angry than it had been before. "Tell me the truth, did you kill my classmates?"

"If you think that you can accuse me of something you have no proof of because you're going to profile me, think again. I'm not going to give you an answer." As incriminating as it was, Tarvos wasn't about to tell him a word of what he knew. It was something that he was going to have to find out on his own, just as everyone else would, minus Rezzi.

"Then I'll believe you did it."

"You miss the point. The real Messiah was in the game when I was out here. I was watching Rezzi play. She only has one computer." There was no way any of his theories were even close to being correct. This little game of his was growing rather annoying, even if he didn't show it. The repetition was agonizing.

"Then who are you, and who killed Ayumi?" Tarvos was right. He couldn't deny that there was no way that the Grand High Messiah in the game could ever be Tarvos. Even so, there was something about him. He was different than Oz and all of the humans. There had to be something up with him.

Tarvos arched an eyebrow. "Who's Ayumi? That black-haired one?" He had faintly recalled the girl being the first to introduce herself out of the group of friends that came to gawk at him, but that was about it. To be honest, Ayumi wasn't that memorable of a person.

"She was my girlfriend." Dante stressed.

"What significance is that?" The winged one was apathetic on the matter.

"Do you even know what that is?" More than likely he didn't.

"No, is it like a pyrex?"

"Maybe. What the fuck is that?"

"A mate you reproduce with." Tarvos educated him on the Dius mateship.

"It wasn't anything like that, but I did love her. She asked me out a day before we went to see you and I accepted her offer." His voice lowered sadly. The two of them never got to spend much of any time together since all of this happened, and now they never would. Ayumi's soul was eternally trapped in a world of death, and there was nothing he could do about it. Even if he avenged her, Ayumi would not be around to acknowledge his accomplishments.

This was all too amusing. Tarvos could barely contain himself. "You'll have to hold off your silly human procrastination rituals. It seems Oz has a mission in mind for you."

"You're a pile of shit." Dante really, really wanted to smack this guy and wipe that shit-eating smile from his face. Needless to say, that was the least of the pain he was drawing out in the vibrant confines of his mind. In his mind he was literally beating the crap out of this smug asshole.

"That's one of my better compliments." Compared to the other things he had been referred to, anyway.

"Uh…" Dante growled. "I'm frustrated and I hate you."

"What a shame, I like you." Tarvos teased.

"Shut up."

The winged one stayed quiet as the boy fumed to himself. "What are you and why can I see you?"

"I am a Dius, just like Oz. As to why you can see me, you're obviously not human." It was the ultimatum that his thinking organ had reached when trying to compute all possible outcomes. It had to be the reason Dante could see him. There were no others.

"What?" The dark-haired teen's voice nearly broke its pitch before he unleashed another round of rage. "That's fuckery! Of course I am a human!"

Tarvos cast him the skeptical eye. "Can you prove that?"

"What?" Anyone with eyes could see that he was a human. There was no proof to it. The facts were merely the facts.

"It's a fact that humans know their well bringers. Do you know who yours are?" If he failed this test, then there was a possibility that he was not a human after all.

"How can I know that? I was adopted." Dante shot defensively. Not all humans knew their parents. There were special cases, like adoption, and if their parents died before they were born. A lot of different factors determined on whether or not they knew their parents. This asshole was just being ridiculous.

"By who?"

"Tarvos, fuck off. It's none of your damned business." Who the hell did this guy think he was to ask him some personal shit like that? Was he trying to get him back for the fact that he was on to his demon charade?

"Isn't it?" If his secrets were Dante's business, wasn't this his business? An eye for an eye, that's how it worked.

"Stop implying the stupidest shit possible. This is just another one of your mindfucks. Well, I'm not falling for it or that shit-eating grin of yours." It was like, plastered to his face. This guy was just the biggest asshole possible. He probably thought all of this was just some giant game. Tarvos was the kind of guy who either slowly picked at someone's sanity, or was very manipulative. He might have gotten away with that horseshit with Rezzi but he drew the line at himself. Dante wasn't going to let his guy push him around, no matter how he felt about him.

"There's no way that you can be human." He couldn't even prove and without proof, he had nothing.

"That's fucking stupid. Of course I'm a human." The male argued.

"Then explain how you can see me." It all came back to that one crippling factor. His guise was only unseen by human eyes. Any entity that was not human could see his true form. Rezzi was blind, and therefore she could not truly see him, but Dante didn't have an excuse and he could see him perfectly.

"How the fuck can I do that? Maybe I'm an exception to the rule? Ever thought about that, you bird-brained dumbfuck?" Even though he argued with the Dius, his mind was in other places, trying to find anything that he could possibly use as proof of his existence as a human being. Searching through his memories, as well as multiple past occurrences rendered no results.

"I've never run across that before." If he truly was an exception, then a lot of technicalities should be explained as it why he can.

'I've been wondering this…the whole fucking time. Why can I see him? When I think about it, I don't remember ever having any parents. I don't even remember my childhood. Nothing but going to school one day and meeting Lannad and Rezzi. I've tried to remember my childhood, but I can't and when people talk about their childhood around me, I never say anything. According to my grandfather, Hokusai, he told me that I was found by a priestess who raised me like a normal child after finding me in the middle of a field on a rainy day…but…I don't even remember her face. I don't remember the shrine or growing up there.' Looking as if realization hit him, Dante sighed in defeat. "What's wrong with me?" He pondered aloud lowly.

"Good question. Not even I know that. I just know that the fact that you're not completely human is the only thing I can think of as a possible answer to the fact that you can see me." Tarvos replied and walked up to the boy, stopping a couple of inches before him.

Dante shook and nausea built up in his form from thinking about all of this. The scenery spun and he had to keep himself from blacking out. His swimming vision stopped when Tarvos' hand was sat on his shoulder. "I feel sick."

Suddenly, he felt a cold face touching his cheek, giving it a compassionate nuzzle. "You're just like me." The demon purred into his ear.

"I will puke on your face. I'm nothing like you. I'm not a Dius." His thoughts contradicted his words. 'That I know of…but this is stupid. I can't be. Please, tell me that I'm just a special case. There has got to be some legit reason I can see this guy, and I'm going to find out what it is.'

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Rezzi flung open the sliding doors of the shrine as the strong stench of death wafted out from the open area. Commenting on how it smelled of death, the blind girl stepped inside, followed by Ringo, who explained to her that everyone was dead and the rooms had already been checked on his last visit. She turned to him, choking on the air a little.

"Do you think that the Grand High Messiah did this?" She asked.

"What else could it be?" It was his only guess.

"We were trying to find out the place that Chaos has been resting." Mae explained their unfruitful adventure.

"What would you do if you found Chaos and he was awake?" Did they even have a plan of action? What they were doing was highly dangerous. Rezzi wondered if they even knew just how much. The very thought of it worried her beyond definition.

"I would try to reseal him." Lannad said from her position in the doorway.

"And if it didn't work?" Rezzi persisted.

"Not sure." Ringo looked at the blood splattered floor. That really was their only plan of action.

"I know it was dangerous, but we had to find this out. If Chaos is running around as well as the Grand High Messiah, then it makes out battle twice as hard." Mae explained. She really hoped that her friend could at least see the good intentions in their methods. Sure, it wasn't the best way to go about the situation, but they worked with what they would at the moment.

"It should have been something that we all did. We need to regather and get things straightened out. I think that everyone should be entitled to have common knowledge of certain things." If they did not keep well-informed, then they didn't have a chance, especially against anything like chaos and death double teaming them at any opportunity. Oz, David and Tony all needed to know about Chaos and Dante as well.

After going to the shrine, Rezzi gathered everyone. It wasn't hard to find them all and once they came back from their respective training sessions, they gathered in her living room, assembled into a loose circle with a few stragglers like Tarvos and Dante hanging around the outside, disfiguring it a bit. Lannad explained all that she had told Rezzi, and what was supposed to happen to Chaos, as well as her grim findings at the shrine. She hated being the bearer of bad news, but there was no other way to bring the information to light.

"That's all I can think of." The blind girl finished, closing her eyes and frowning.

"Fucking great, so now we have to deal with two bastards instead of one." Dante was the first to express his distaste of the unfortunate turn of events. It only added to his fret about his past and worry over his own identity.

"Which one do we go after?" David inquired. It was more of a question for Oz than anyone else.

"Chaos will be where the Grand High Messiah is. It doesn't matter which one you go after because you will run into both if that's the case." Oz replied. It was simple when everyone thought about it, death and destruction when hand in hand.

"Since the Chaos case is pretty much leaving us cold, we should continue to pursue the Grand High Messiah." Dante recommended that they stuck to their original goal. Adding anything more to their plate was just going to create more confusion. If they'll meet both of them, then they should just go after one for the moment.

"I agree. We can't be confusing things or no one will know what the hell we're doing." It made things simpler for David as well.

"Where should the Messiah be? Somewhere in town, right?" Tony inquired.

"More than likely," Oz answered.

Lannad pulled out the black feather, gazing at it as she remembered finding it in one of the destroyed classrooms of the school.

"Then we should look for him there." Tony settled.

"There will be a memorial service for those who died in the school massacre. I just hope nothing goes wrong. Those people have already lost so much." Mae's voice dropped into one of sorrow. She sincerely hoped that the Grand High Messiah would not target those mourners. More than anything, she would make sure to be at the school early, before any of them ended up dead.

She wanted her classmates to rest in peace.

…To Be Continued

Dark Flower Romance: Book 1: Sacrifice
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Dark Flower Romance

Book 1: Sacrifice

By: Melissa Norvell/Revamp

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A mighty, male lion that was all blonde in coloration, minus the lower part of his mane, which sported a dark brown and the tassel on his tail, prowled into a cave where he was greeted by two lionesses. One of them was a deep red, and the other was a cinnamon color with a blonde mask on her entire. The other was a near mirror image of her mother, merely a diminutive and younger form of the original. All eyes shot to the male, who brought up the subject of there being bad news. His pride members could feel the bad aura springing from his words. When he spoke, it was usually to bring warning or to compliment the lionesses on their hunts. This series of information was the prior subject, and one of the most dangerous ones of them all.

"What is it, Savresh?" The elder of the cinnamon lionesses questioned as she walked up to the male. Her daughter, merely observing the conversation, lounged in the background with her head rested on her outstretched paws.

"He has returned to Gir Forest." Savresh spoke in an ominous tone. It was no news that the Asiatic Lions wanted to hear.

"Who has?" The daughter questioned. The way Savresh spoke of them, it was as if demons were invading their land. What could be that imposing?

"Tajara."

The red lioness took a step back as dread etched itself on her features. "Oh no. What do we do? Must we take hiding once more?" As much as she hated it, she knew all too well the events that played out while Tajara roamed through their home from beyond the field of dark flowers. It wasn't safe for any lion to be roaming around, and if they were to be seen it was best that they traveled in numbers. The Great White Beast paid no mercy to who he slaughtered.

"If we don't want to anger him more than he already is, it's best that we don't make ourselves his victims." Savresh advised. It was bad enough that their ancestors were brutally slaughtered by Tajara before he disappeared. Their clan could very well be next.

The adolescent lion lifted her head and sat up, interjecting into their conversation. "I don't understand. Why do we need to hide, and who is Tajara?" She had been warned about him since she was a cub, and knew the bare minimum of information behind his infamous legend. He was a white Barbary Lion who prowled around and when he came out of the field of bat lilies, bad things happened in Gir Forest. That was the extent of information she had known.

Her mother turned to her. "He is known as the demon of Gir Forest, but he just to be known by his name: Tajara. He is a rare type of lion called a Barbary Lion. From what I know, he may be the only one who exists in the wild. Long ago, my ancestor, Shefalika, who is your grandmother found an orphaned cub out in an open area of the forest on a rainy day when she was hunting. At that time, she only had one surviving cub and that was me."

"So, you were Tajara's sister?" Well, adopted sister, in a sense. They did grow up together and were under the care of the same maternal figure.

Her mother frowned harshly and narrowed her brown eyes. Her voice ran as cold as her heart turned in the presence of any fond statement about that beast. "I no longer claim that stranger as a part of my family."

"What happened?" The young lioness inquired. Her mother wasn't one to just lash out and react coldly to someone without just reason. The elder cinnamon lioness was usually stoic, but she had a very kind soul. Tajara must have done something horrendous to make her say such nasty things about him.

"I am unsure as to why he had done it but he slaughtered my pride and left me orphaned to fend for myself. It was hard and I have been through a lot. Thankfully, Savresh was kind enough to take me into his pride, but I'll never forget what Tajara has done." If her words could get any colder, they would have. To hear her mother speak in such a chilling tone, nearly made her blood run cold, and it was the first time in a long time that the young lioness was afraid of the one who brought her into this world.

Even so, she wondered about the other side of the story. "But, why would he do that? Why would Tajara kill those who raised him?"

"That's what we want to know." Her mother growled, folding her ears back flat with her skull.

"Did anything happen to make him want to kill them?" She cocked her head. Surely there was a reason that he turned against her mother's pride. There had to be. Lions didn't just kill each other for any reason at all.

"Do you know about the other types of lions besides us?" She asked, her ears returning to their up risen state.

"Other types of lions?" Her daughter inquired.

"We are a type of lion called an Asiatic Lion. Tajara is a type of lion called a Barbary Lion, which is known to be the heaviest subspecies of lion. Unlike us, they aren't known for living in prides and they are usually solitary. That's a suspicion that we've had for a while as to why he possibly attacked our ancestors. The Barbary Lions are said to be our relatives but unlike us, they have had contact with humans and were used to be battle gladiators long ago. They were also rumored to be kept by royalty." Her mother explained all of the knowledge that she knew on Tajara's breed. All of these could be considered possible factors as to why he would slaughter her mother's pride, but they were all inconclusive evidence as well. The mystery of their murder was irritating and stressful to think about too much.

"So, that means that Tajara is like a king." Her daughter noted much to her disgust.

Her voice lowered. "You could consider him an exiled king."

"How do you know so much about this?"

"I heard that human hunters have a conversation about the Barbary Lions when I was young. Back then, they had said that his type of lion was extinct in the wild. I believe that Tajara may be the only one left who is not in human captivity." If not, he was definitely the only lion of his type in their area.

"The only one left?" Her offspring questioned as her crestfallen features were cast to the ground. The thought of being the only one of your kind left in an area was sad. She couldn't imagine having no one around who looked like herself or was the same type of lion as she was. Even if Tajara was a murderer, he must have lived a sad existence.

"You feel sorry for him?" She knew her mother would disapprove of her comment.

"It must be lonely to be the only one left." She began to explain herself. "I mean, can you imagine what that must be like? It's terrifying and fascinating at the same time. Could you survive eternal solitude? It's a blessing in disguise that he's solitary by nature. He must feel so totally alone in a tainted paradise. He is a king without a crown or a kingdom. Tajara would have to come to terms with the fact that he is the only Barbary Lion left. Therefore, he has no family and no pride. Learning that, he must have been in shock and grief. Life is probably tough and at times brutish. It takes a lot of mental fortitude in order to be able to live with that acceptance. Maybe in ways, he thinks our world is fascinating. Maybe the lack of having another Barbary Lion to talk to made him descend into madness." When she thought about his psyche during his revelation, it really made her wonder about his motive for slaughtering the pride. Maybe Tajara was overcome with grief and loneliness? It didn't make the situation right, but it validated the anguish he must have gone through at the time. It was sad that she would never know her ancestors, and she could have only imagined the horrific moments they went through before they passed away. Such an act did not make Tajara a wonderful example of the king of beasts, but at the same time, she could see things both ways.

"You certainly are defending someone who mercilessly slaughtered." The red lioness was growing peeved with the subject matter, and even more so that this little female was defending the white demon.

"I didn't mean it like that, Karobi. I just meant that it must have been sad to be the last of your kind. I didn't say that I didn't feel bad that he killed my ancestors. Of course I think that's sad." Not to do so would have made her no better and twice as heartless.

"He is not one to feel bad for." Her mother noted. Doing so was upsetting everyone and it was making her look bad.

"I heard that Tajara is coming inland across the fields of cat's whiskers." Savresh informed the group of lionesses of their enemy's position.

"What? Why would he do that?" Her mother questioned.

"Things have been hard, Sultana, and food is scarce. I believe he's coming inland to find something to eat." Savresh informed the others. When food ran scarce the animals hunted each other more than usual, their brutal instincts set in and their hunger drove their killing force. The concentrated number of animals that were present in Gir Forest made them easy prey.

"The droughts have been harsh. He's either run out of food or water, or he's come down to mate." Sultana replied. Those were usually the reasons Tajara crept into Gir Forest. Most of the time it was for the prior two reasons, as most lions turned down his advances.

"Mate?" The young lioness cocked her head.

"It's an educated guess. Many times, he has tried to take a mate and many times he has been refused. However, every time he goes back alone something bad happens to the Asiatic Lions. Usually, someone is killed or they end up dead." Sultana told her.

"How awful."

"I told you, Zahra. There is no way that you should feel bad for him. He's a cold-hearted killer." Karobi remarked. Maybe now, the naive youngster would get it through that thick head of hers and stop taking pity in the pitiless.

Savresh thought about it for moment, then walked up into the group of females and sat beside of Karobi. "You know, Sultana might be onto something."

"What?" Sultana questioned. What was Savresh aiming at?

"Maybe if we made a treaty of peace with Tajara and offered him one of our own as his bride, then he would not bother up and stop killing our kind."

"Why would you do that? How can you be certain that he would not kill the bride?" Karobi asked. It sounded too risky, especially since they were playing Russian roulette with someone's life in the process.

"More importantly, who would even dare offer them up to be with a tyrant like him?" Sultana added. Everyone in their pride, as well as in the entire forest feared the might white lion. Whoever decided to make that choice was only going to make it to be a sacrifice for their pride and a representative of the lions in Gir Forest.

"We should at least see if he would take the offer as a peace treaty. If we keep living like this, there will be mo more Asiatic Lions either." Lest they forget, their own species was endangered in the wild as well. The only Asiatic Lions that existed in the wild were all located in the forest.

A twisted smile crossed Karobi's features. "I have an idea." She spoke; her tone was filled with amusement.

"What are you thinking, Karobi?" Sultana passed her a scrupulous glare.

"I think that Zahra should be our offering to Tajara." The red lioness spoke with pride, as if it were the best idea of the century.

"What?" The young lioness nearly yelled the question. She didn't like where this was going at all. How could Karobi just throw her under the bus like that?

"Karobi, how could you say such a thing?" Sultana was outraged that she would offer her daughter up like that with no remorse for her decision. She should be ashamed of herself for making such an offer with such pride.

"Tajara has been coming down more often lately, not just when the bat lilies bloom. The less of Tajara we see, the better off we are and the better off our prides are. He'll keep coming down here if we leave the situation as it is. He's bad luck. By sending someone to him to be his mate, we reduce the number of killings among the Asiatic Lions." It made perfect sense, and since Zahra was so supportive and optimistic towards the white lion, she seemed like the best choice. It was perfect in her mind, despite Sultana's protests.

"Do you have proof that it's Tajara who kills the lions of Gir Forest?" Zahra rose and took a step towards Karobi.

"They die when he comes here. It's proof enough." Who else would be at fault? The red lioness let a low rumble escape her throat. "Since you're so insistent on defending him, you should be his bride. You're old enough to make. You should be lucky that you're even still in this pride." She shot. After all, most of their prides only had three members, she was one too many.

Her mother stepped between the two, bearing her teeth at the red lioness. "Karobi, that's enough. How could you be so heartless as to doom her to such a cruel fate? You know as well as I do that she could possibly be killed by him. Do you want her to die?" Even if she didn't care, Zahra was her daughter.

"Something has to be done. If no one will take the action then I will." She growled, shooting the lioness a glare of hatred before turning away. She stalked towards the opening of the den before Savresh jumped in front of her in a flash of color.

"Wait!"

"Savresh, what are you doing?" Sultana asked, her tone cut into the ears of her fellows.

"I'm going to go and talk to Takara." If no one would step up, then he was going to do it for them.

"You can't!" The cinnamon lioness pleaded.

"I didn't mean directly confront him." Karobi even knew that was not the best plan of action. Confronting the lion directly would surely mean that Savresh would meet an untimely end.

However, Savresh would have none of their protests. Turning away from the group of females, he exited his den and walked through the Gir Forest. The dense, golden grass tickled his underbelly as he walked around the many tall trees. Savresh made his way to the edge of the forest, which opened to the enormous field of bat lilies. The buds were closed as of now, but it would not be too long before they burst into the beautiful blooms of the black, oddly beautiful flowers that his daughter loved so much. It wasn't as if he wanted to sacrifice her to a Neanderthal like Tajara, but he didn't see any other option. Savresh knew that none of the other lionesses would offer themselves up in order to keep him from attacking their prides. They were much too worried about their own lives.

As he surfaced from the dense underbrush, he caught sight of Tajara, making his way out of the field of closed, black blooms. His pure white pelt was a distinct contrast among the dark blossoms. He was massive in presence and taller than Savresh. A thick, black outline of his ghostly blue eye was his only strong contrast. In sheer presence alone the lion was intimidating and unlike his drab counterparts. His luxurious make trailed down his stomach, a trail extended to his hind quarters, and bushels of long hair stuck out behind his arm pits. The long, white fur stopped just short of being mid back. The only other distinct features on the white animal were his scars, one slashes through his right eye, eternally closing the ocular organ and extended down his face, one was present across the middle of his nose, another under his left eye across his cheek and the largest of all ran vertically down his shoulder as is something drug a sharp object down it.

The two lions locked eyes and stepped towards each other with precaution.

Savresh held his head down and glared at Tajara, ready for anything. Tajara on the other hand, merely stood there as if no danger was present.

"Who are you?" The deep voice of the white lion sounded.

"I'm Savresh, the brother of Bhim. I know that you've heard of him." His dark counterpart introduced himself.

"Bhim? That old fool?" It made no difference whose brother he was, Tajara held more than dark feelings for the aforementioned lion.

"He was the old fool who took you into his pride-"Savresh started, but he was interrupted.

"The old fool who filled my head with delusions. Are you here to do the same? If so, you can go away before I am forced to put your carcass beside of his." Tajara threatened. There was nothing more irritating than a lion that showed up merely to avenge another. He had his reasons for slaughtering Bhim. Some things should be left in the past. This was one of them.

Bhim was dead. Nothing would change that. It wasn't as if Bhim could see his brother's efforts anyway.

"I didn't come here to fight you. I came here to make you an offer." Savresh held his head high and straightened up for form. Tajara wasn't going to attack, not just yet anyway. He might as well make his body posture a non-threatening one, as to not give him any ideas.

"What could you possibly offer me?" There was nothing he truly wanted. Nothing that was plausible by any enemy lion's terms.

"If you swear that you won't bring chaos and death here, then we will give you one of our lionesses to be your mate. It might not be much, but it's all I can offer." Savresh told him. This was the only thing he could even think of that would come close to being a fair trade and as much as he was conflicting over it, at the same time, he knew that it might be a sacrifice well-made in the end. One life was worth saving hundreds in his eyes, even if it would be the life of his very own daughter.

"So, this is what that's about? You've got to be kidding. Everyone in your pride as well as the others hates me." He was no fool. Any lioness who wanted to be his bride was not doing so willingly.

"There is one who at least sees things through unbiased eyes." He closed his golden eyes and lowered his head. His words were sorrowful, but he knew that it would come to this.

"You don't seem like you're so keen on that idea. What's wrong, old man? Do you honestly think I'll do something horrible to whomever you offer me? You never know, I might treat her better than she deserves." It all depended on the conditions and circumstances, as well as her attitude towards him and the purpose in which she was given away. If Savresh thought that he could send someone in to kill him, he was sadly mistaken. If he dared to do such a thing, then he would come out of the bat lilies just to bring him down.

"I don't want her harmed." More than anything, even if her life would be away from all she knew, Savresh wanted his daughter to at least live.

Tajara frowned at his psyche behind all of this. "What is this? You'll give her to me because you can't wait to get rid of me, but you don't want me to hurt her. Are you really in a position to make demands?" As far as he saw it, he was the one to call the shots.

The other lion's head only reached a new level of being lowered. His tone was one of defeat. "You're right. If you want her, I can arrange for her to be at your den."

"I suppose the idea isn't a complete turn off. You'd just better hope that I like her. Bring her by in the morning." Tajara would entertain the other's idea, at least for the moment. If anything, he was curious as to what kind of lioness they had in mind to be his bride.

Savresh turned away and retreated into the darkness of the forest with a solemn look on his face. Even after he had the guts to offer his daughter up to the mighty, white lion, his stomach felt sick with regret. 'What have I done?'

When he returned to his den, the sandy-colored lion slowly walked in with his head down and a solemn expression. More than anything, the remarks of the lionesses were things that he feared especially Sultana's reaction to his encounter with Tajara and the idea of giving up their daughter to be his bride. Luckily, when he entered the cave, Sultana had stepped out and only Karobi and a sleeping Zahra.

Noticing the male's melancholy expression the red lioness walked up to him and kept her voice low, as to not disturb the younger lionesses' slumber. "What happened?" Undoubtedly it wasn't good.

"I need you to help me with something." A thought crossed his mind. It was better to do this while Sultana was out than to face her wrath and fight with her about the deal that has already been made between him and Tajara.

"This is what happened…" Savresh explained his encounter with the white lion and their conversation about bringing him a suitable bride. He also mentioned how Zahra came up in the conversation, as well as his idea to take Zahra out to his den while her mother was away. They would explain everything when she got back and deal with her anger about it then.

Agreeing, Karobi took the adolescent lioness and hoisted her onto her back. Lucky for her, Zahra was the type who would sleep through the most terrible weather. Even the loudest of falling trees did not make her flinch. The two left the sanctity of the den and travelled through the forest carefully, making sure not to drop her. That would stir her from her slumber and make things worse on the two of them.

"You shouldn't feel bad about your decision. It really is for the best. In the end, Sultana will forgive you." At least, that was Karobi's reasoning behind everything. It wasn't just his decision that this was to be done, it was hers as well and she an accomplice, she would share the equal form of Sultana's punishment.

"Somehow, I doubt it will be that simple. This is Sultana's child." Savresh knew better than to take those words of comfort for what they were.

"She is also yours."

"That's why this is hard." It was more like an unspeakable anguish, as if a piece of his heart was being ripped savagely out of his body, leaving him to bleed and be picked apart by vultures.

"Our race will prosper. Just remember, when you make this sacrifice, it will prevent our pride's deaths as well as many others in the forest." Karobi decided that he needed to hear support instead of sympathy.

The three entered into the field of blossoms, the waving stalks beat lightly against their forms. Savresh thought to himself for a moment, gazing down at the ground. 'I hate to think that I am giving my daughter away to Judas.' He sighed. 'The Bat Lily…she always did love looking at these. She even went off to play in them against my will. Zahra has always been a risk taker…but at the same time, she's been shockingly level-headed and kind. If anyone can melt Tajara's heart it would be her…but at the same time, I fear that she may only make him worse.'

"We're here." Karobi's voice cut through his thoughts before they could go down a more negative path.

Together, the two laid her down gently in front of the opening of the white lion's residence. Giving her one final lick of the face, Savresh said good bye to his daughter. This small action caused the young lioness to stir from her slumber. Quickly, the pair of lions scampered off before she could stir completely awake, disappearing over the many mounds of rocks that surrounded the area.

"Hm? Father?" Zahra willed her heavy eyelids to stay open as she languidly pulled herself up from the large stone she was placed upon. Blinking, she glanced around at this unfamiliar territory she was placed in. "Where am I?" She murmured, peering into the large den that was on the side of a tall mound of rocks so tall that they could possibly be their own mountain. It was as if she were in front of Mother Nature's largest work of modern art. The lioness was very confused. Flicking one ear her clouded vision cleared up as she stood up and rubbed her head with one paw. "I don't…recognize this place. Ugh…my head is killing me. I feel like someone knocked me out with a rock."

Suddenly, a white flash rushed down from the mountain of rocks, skillfully jumping down as it made its way to the ground. Her vision was directed to the blur as it made its way from rock to rock with ease. It was like they had been on this mountain all of their life and knew which stones were strong enough to support their weight. Landing at the bottom, a few feet in front of her the massive white lion slowly made his way up to her. "Who are you?"

Immediately, that scar on his left eye gave his identity away. "You must be Tajara."

The lion smiled in turn. "Then you must be my bride."

…To Be Continued

Capricious Infection: Act 9: Behind the Looking Glass
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Capricious Infection

Act 9: Behind the Looking Glass

By: Melissa Norvell/Revamp

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"They are?" Rezzi asked, slightly shocked at the matter. When she thought about it, a realization came to mind. 'So, it's really happened…Just like capriciouscarnage said…'

A vivid flashback infiltrated her senses of a prior conversation that the two of them had over the phone. Even back then, their conversations were limited when their actual voices were involved. The mysterious, gruff man liked to keep his true identity masked and preferred that his conversations be kept to mere instant messages or e-mails.

"In one human year from now, everyone you know will die. First will come people of your age, then the very ones who prophesized it from the beginning. All ties to events of the past will be severed and the world will be plunged into darkness. I'll be counting down this even, and constantly remind you of your world's own end, just to be a pretentious dick about it.' capriciouscarnage would continue to play this game with her, and pick at her sanity while performing his destined job at being an informant to her world's demise. The cards had to be played just right, and that would be his aim.

"Are you sure this is true? You're not just making all of it up, are you? Because that would be a horrible thing to do." Rezzi replied. There were enough false prophets out there who had miscalculated the end of the world prematurely and proven themselves as laughing stocks. Now, this guy was saying things so similar to what others have claimed that it was hard to even take him seriously.

"It's all true. You should thank me for helping you out." Such an ungrateful girl. Honestly, why did he have to work with such stubborn creatures?

"I don't see how you know that. Anything can happen in a year." There was just something about this story that seemed all too fake. She wasn't sure if it was the fact that it was supposed to happen in a year, or that it came from a sarcastic asshole like the one that she was talking to. Surely, such a story had to be off.

"Oh, you can't avoid this." He was amused at her disbelief. It only showed her ignorance and refusal of the end. Typical.

"Stop playing around." Rezzi warned. None of this was funny and if he was teasing her, then he could gladly drop his façade.

"It's not a joke, dumbass. You should be happy that I am taking these valuable moments of my life telling you something like this. Now, go and prepare for it." Did she think this was a joke? Stupid human. How dare she question the truth! Either she would learn or die from not being prepared and her existence was too crucial to just be passed off.

"How do I do that?" How did you truly prepare for the end of the world?

"Figure it out." The male snapped and hung up the phone in the blind girl's face. Rezzi pulled the device away and narrowed her eyes at it with a pouty frown.

"Whatever killed the priestesses killed everyone in the high school." Ringo stated. There was no doubt about it. They had similar wounds and undoubtedly used the same sharp weapon to cut them up or stab them in various ways.

"The prophecies are coming true. I just wanted to tell you about everything that's been going on." So far, Lannad had thought of herself as the only one to truly understand the chaos and carnage that was taking place. Of all of the people involved, she had the knowledge of the legend behind the Grand High Messiah, and knew the most about it.

"Tell me. I'd like to try and figure everything out. Maybe we can prevent a catastrophe. Maybe we can track the Grand High Messiah's next moves." As much as Lannad knew, Rezzi was a few steps ahead, given the information that Tarvos had given her, as well as her leads from capriciouscarnage. The situation was crystal clear to her, and her role in it was apparent. Oz was right. The world was ending, and they were the only ones to bear witness to it.

"I tried to do that by going to the shrine but…he killed everyone there, too." Lannad noted, turning her head downward with a frown as her voice saddened on the last part of her sentence. Everyone around her was dying. It was more heart wrenching than any mass disaster she could have ever experienced, and it took a huge toll on her heartstrings.

"We don't have any leads now." Ringo informed, especially if the secret of Chaos' location was sealed within one of the dead priestesses.

Digging in her pocket, Lannad pulled out the large feather she'd found earlier. "I just found this feather." She showed the object to Rezzi, who placed to fingers on her glasses, adjusting them as she bent over and squinted, trying to make out what it was. "Can I ask you something?"

"Go ahead. If it helps solve this case then I want to know about it." The Libra commented. As much as she knew, Rezzi truly did want to help all of her human friends. It might be the end of the world, but she wanted to save them and keep them from dying.

"Did Tarvos…leave or anything during the school massacre?" It sounded incriminating, but it was something that the priestess had always wondered about in the recesses of her mind. Even if Tarvos was not directly involved he was suspicious.

"He left a few minutes earlier than I did but he never would have done anything like that in such a short amount of time. That feather is very odd though. Were there any at the shrine?" She thought, placing a hand under her chin.

Lannad shook her head. "Not that I saw. I just wonder what it came from."

"Do you think it belonged to the Grand High Messiah?" After all, the one in the game had a feathered wing, at least the shadow made it appear as if he had an avian wing with feathers. It was a possibility that it could come from that wing. If so, they were on the right trail.

"I don't know. I know that it's not normal. I think it has something to do with what's been happening. Something with wings killed them." It only made logical sense to deduce that. Not to mention, something would more than likely have to fly to the school or fly through classrooms in order to rack up a death toll that large.

"Could it be something else?" Rezzi asked. There was the subject of Chaos.

"It could have been Chaos. The Messiah had already been trying to awaken him. Today was the day that Chaos was prophesized to awaken." The priestess noted, adding depth to the mystery. Now that more than just the school was involved, things were starting to get deep. The Messiah and Chaos were undoubtedly in cahoots.

"Chaos?" Rezzi spoke in contemplation as capriciouscarnage's words ran through her mind once more.

'Have I ever told you, the story of how this world will end? Oh, it's a cold-hearted, exciting as fuck spectacle that any apocalyptic sap would kill to live for. It's a real bone-chiller and you'll be around to live the dream.'

"It's a long story, but I'll start from the beginning." Lannad figured that she would catch her blind friend up to speed on what exactly was happening and how the Messiah was only part of the problem.

XxXxXxXx

A red beam of light flew through the air, colliding into the leather-clad man's body with such force that it propelled him backwards. Tony landed in the water with a splash, sending it out in various directions. David let out a 'phew' as he bent over, hands placed on his red athletic pants. Sweat clung to his skin, and hot, heavy breaths exited his mouth. Who knows how long all of them had been training under Oz's careful watch? It was no easy task, and the alien was being very hard on them, and strict with his words. Not to mention the fact that he could control time itself worked against them in all available areas. The two of them didn't know if they were going to be able to even keep up to achieve their positions in Twisted Land. Living the legacy of a real life video game was definitely not as easy as it was when you were sitting there and watching your character train and fight enemies.

"This is hard. I've trained this whole time and I still don't get it." The black-haired boy panted.

"You're doing fine. Much better than your friend over there." Oz replied and jerked a finger to Tony, who barely climbed out of the water and rolled onto the shore.

"I feel like a drowned cat, and my clothes squeak." The leather-clad boy rolled over, his clothes sounding his movements. Closing his eyes, he laid there for a moment, catching his breath. "I've been trying to get the hang of this and I just can't seem to get it together."

"It's easy. All you have to do is concentrate your energy. You'll feel it sort of pull into your weapon." David explained as he held up the Time Sword. "I'll show you." Concentrating on the clock face on the hilt, he felt his energy gathering into the blade. The teen stood there for a while, until he felt his weapon grew hot in his hands. David swung the blade with all of his might, releasing a blast so powerful that it threw him back and took out a nearby hillside, sending rocks, dirt and debris everywhere, leaving the boy on his back a few feet away. "Well…that with less fail."

"It's not a hard concept to grasp. All you have to do is turn kinetic energy into a different form. It conditions your mind and you can achieve greater mental prowess. It's a level of telekinesis." For the Dius, such a feat was second nature. He knew that only special humans were able to achieve psychic powers, but he opened the ports of their minds in order to make that possible. Why were they having such a hard time with this?

David arched an eyebrow. "Telekinesis? Like bending spoons and shit?"

"It's the same concept. You control your energy and convert it to a substance. You can concentrate it on a fixed point and before you know it, you get results. It's moving matter from one place to another and you can utilize its hidden potential." Oz explained it to them again. Hopefully this would be the last time that he had to explain how to convert energy into a force or power.

"So…if I can bend a spoon, then I can do this?" Tony was still confused about what exactly to do. He sat up on the shore and looked to the alien for any confirmation or further explanation.

"When I transported everyone to Rezzi's establishment, I opened up your minds and gave you the ability, so you should be able to accomplish that." Oz glanced to the tan-skinned male who picked up a stick and concentrated on it. The piece of wood trembled in his hands before breaking off with a loud snap.

Tony smiled at his accomplishment. "Hey, that's pretty cool!"

"Hey Oz, were you born with your powers, or did you have to learn them?" David wondered aloud. His answer determined a few factors in their training. If Oz was born with his powers, then it would be harder for him to teach them, but if he had to learn them as he went then things might not be so hard. There had to be some way that he could make things easier on Tony.

"I was born with them. I am the only one in my entire race to possess those powers. You could say that I'm…a special case." That wasn't good. Not for his friend, anyway. Now it was purely up to Tony to catch up with them in better utilizing his powers.

"You actually know who the Grand High Messiah is, don't you?" David narrowed his eyes through his shades at his mentor as Tony continued to concentrate on his axe, standing in a fighting position as he held the weapon in front of himself in the background.

"Figure it out yourself." If this was his way of getting him to talk, it wasn't happening. Oz stood his ground as David walked up to him with a straight form and a frown on his face. The Time Sword was swung over his shoulder. Stopping a good foot away from him, the boy pointed the sword at the alien. The blade pricked Oz's chest muscles through his black t-shirt.

"Okay, just stop being a tremendous dick. You come up here, all high and mighty, so now you shove it in my face, too? Why do you even care about my world? Why do you care about saving it? What's your catch twenty-two?" He was sick of the bullshit and the secrets. If this guy cared about their world and the people in it who were dying as they spoke, then he would have given him the identity of the Grand High Messiah if he knew what it was. There was some sort of weird game going around and he was just sick of it all. David wanted answers.

"Is hating you something that I can do?"Oz shot sarcastically.

"No, it's not." The teen's voice was dire.

"Am I transparent or something?" Was it that obvious he knew more than he was letting on?

"Like cellophane, bro. You're the last of your race, so your world is dead." David's eyes burnt into the alien's stare. The two males in shades stood their ground, glaring at each other and appeared to be stock strong about their opinions.

"That's correct."

"What's going on? No bullshit." He wanted the truth. David was tired of these stupid little games.

"This affects me as well."

"Because your world is gone, just like this one will be." Not even the loud explosion in the back ground from another hill being taken out by Tony's huge energy attack could shake the atmosphere of their conversation. Tony jumped around in celebration and hooped and hollered about his victory in finally unleashing an attack with actual energy involved.

"Yes! Did you guys see that?" He hollered from the background, but neither of them broke their gaze.

"My world is uninhabitable. My race destroyed itself. It wasn't even anything to do with the Messiah. In fact, the only hope for our race was the Messiah. Those who were worthy were spared. We're no different than you are. Much like you all, we were the chosen ones." The alien explained his situation to the boy, hoping that he would find some sort of form of similarities with the Dius race.

The tip of the Time Sword dug into the ground, and David rested a hand on the alien's shoulder. "All of this time, I've been left in the dark about you. I've known you as NexusJuncture when we started playing Twisted Land together. You said you're fond of me, the real you. I don't care if you're an alien. Yeah, it was ball-tripping awkward but if you're here to help me, then there's a reason for it." With his free hand, David reached up and took off his glasses, revealing his sincere blue eyes to the foreigner. "Oz…You're close to me, deal with it."

"I'll do that."

"I want to understand you. So, stop being a pain in the ass. I'm also sorry that I didn't believe you…about anything." It was a decision that he was regretting. A lot could have been avoided if he had only heeded his warning.

Oz placed a hand on his shoulder and brought their heads together, lightly he rested his forehead against the human's. David's skin felt hot against his cool, white flesh. He gazed into those blue eyes that were distorted slightly behind the dual colors of his shades. "You want to get to know me, then meet me privately later and I'll tell you then."

"Good-"David began his sentence, but before he could say anything more, a force from behind flung him into Oz. They heard Tony curse out loud, and the word shit was heard as the two fell onto the ground. The alien landed on his back and David's weight rested against him. Snapping up, to where he was straddling the alien's bony form, the black-haired teen shot his friend an irritated look. "What the hell?"

"Are you okay?" Tony voiced his concern as he ran up to the two, helping them up. As Oz rose, a large boulder was propelled at them from the blast. If nothing was done, it would soon crush all three of them. Quickly, the burly teen grabbed his axe and ran at the large object. If he produced it, he was going to make it go away…or at least make it small again. Swinging the Nordic Axe over his shoulder, he lifted it up to launch an energy wave at it but Oz stopped him by placing a foot on his back and forcing him down to the ground. Tony belly flopped into the dirt. Holding up his arms, Oz produced a golden force field that shattered the boulder on contact. Small rocks rained down, their plinking sounds emitted against the shield as Tony pulled himself off of the ground.

"Try not to kill me, you ignorant heathens." Oz frowned down at the axe wielder.

"Sorry, it did it on its own." Oz's foot forced him to the ground again as the alien walked over him and over to David, who pulled himself off of the ground from taking a dive.

"I feel like a damned rag doll." He spat as he put his shades back on. He was lucky that they hadn't gotten broken in battle yet.

Oz pointed to Tony with a strong look of disapproval. "You train here by yourself. When you get as strong as human David, I'll come back for you." He ordered.

"You're leaving me here?" That wasn't cool at all.

"You'll destroy us if we stay here. Besides, we need to talk."

The axe wielder's face twisted into a suspicious gaze as he looked from Oz to David.

"Dude, stop it." His friend said uncomfortably.

"I dunno…"

"I'm not like that, bro. We're just catching up on things. It's not like we're going to have hot sex or something." David said sarcastically, causing a gray blush to creep onto Oz's face. He frowned and turned to the unfamiliar with an unamused expression. "Dude, you are not making this easy."

Way to go, Oz, make things more incriminating for the two of them.

"This isn't something we discuss in public." His race was rather secretive with their mating habits. It was embarrassing to bring such a thing up in the public eye like this.

"You guys probably…" David stopped himself in mid-sentence. "Never mind, we'll talk about that later." This was not the time for a subject change, or to sit around discussing different species and their forms of copulation.

Oz averted his eyes. "Right."

"Okay, can we get the hell out of the Amazing Land of Awkward?" This subject only got worse the more they tried to discuss it. Now it was like an ongoing gag that ran out of hilarity. He just wanted to get on with the actual point of their talk.

The alien lifted his hand with his palm flat and an opening formed in the air itself that grew to the size of a door, revealing the natural colors of David's world. The two stepped through the door and appeared in the normal world outside of the parallel universe he had created. The door then shrunk back into a solid wall that separated the two worlds.

"We'll be fine here. This is your real, human world." Oz explained their location.

"Holy shit. It doesn't even look the same. Nothing is fucked up." David glanced around, noticing the two hills that they had destroyed with their magic were still intact.

"Tell me…Do you really want to be a Time Guardian?" The alien male's voice was low and somber. It wasn't about a part in a video game. Now that David knew that he would have to train in order to be a Time Guardian, maybe he had a change of heart. However, the decision not to become one might have been much worse.

"You know it. I'm serious." How did he suspect that David wouldn't give up this easily?

"Then this will be your first task. This is a secret between us." He said, bringing his hand to the side of David's face, causing the human to blush.

"Uh…"

"I'm going to make you after my image. Since you idolize me, you shall become my apprentice. However, this is classified information. Like before, I'll let you know things but you must let the others figure it out for themselves." Dealing with time meant knowledge gained, but it also mean that he would live in a world where he was an exception to many rules. As such, he would bear the guilt of knowing what others did not and for the sake of not disrupting time, keeping incidents to himself.

"I'm guessing you'll do something horrible if I open my mouth?" This was undoubtedly a test.

"Heh. You have no choice. If you knew who I was, you'd wisely keep quiet. Time Guardians who speak ill words get thrown into the Null Zone."

"Null Zone?" What the fuck was that? Better yet, maybe he didn't want to know.

"A gap in time where you stay in suspended animation until you die." Oz informed.

"Dude, don't say that while you're petting my face like a demented psychopath." David commented upon noticing his hand had been stroking his cheek for this entire conversation.

"Do you still want to be my apprentice?"

"You have mental issues. Has anyone ever told you that?" If they hadn't he was here to bear the news.

"Tell me."

"About your mental issues?"

"About your choice."

"You can't scare me. I'm still doing it." Besides, it wasn't like he was going to tell any of his precious secrets. In the past he was the one person who held in all of the things "Oz" told NexusJuncture to tell him and hold from the other players. Why would he stop being loyal now?

"Then, you're prepared to suffer the consequences?"

"You picked me for this job. Alien or not, I still idolize you. I get this feeling that you know a lot. Not just about this Messiah stuff, but about other things. Tell me, why does this concern you?" For god's sake, this guy was from another planet. He probably knew of a ton of other places to be, doing shit more important than dealing with a bunch of snot-nosed kids like them. However, Oz still picked this planet, out of the billions that could exist in the span of this universe. It was more than odd. The fact that his face was near extinction and their planet was also gone, only added to his mystery.

"My race has nowhere to go." That was only partial truth, but truth nonetheless.

"So, you're going to come here?"

A white hand slide down his cheek, caressing the boy's neck. "You need me as much as I need you. Your race will fall to the brink of extinction, just as mine as. In order to defeat the enemy, we have to work together. We've experienced this, so we can guide you along. In return we wish to share what's left of your world with you."

"It's not like I can say no, but I don't know how the others are going to feel about it." It's not like anyone could stop it, but he was certain not everyone would agree with it. In retrospect, David didn't think it was something that was just going to make the Dius leave even if his friends were against it. It might make them leave their positions and not want to do as Oz instructed, though. There were a lot of unknowns in this plan. He didn't really know how to feel about it.

"Your opinion matters now. Your world is the most similar to our own. However, we have…cultural differences." Oz noted. More like, they were two completely different creatures with different systems of doing everything, even the most mundane of chores and bodily functions.

"I'll say." David agreed. He was still trying to get past that weird stratos thing the Dius had and how they had two lovers at the same time. That just sounded like a big dramacon to him.

"We'll bring structure to this world and create a new one from the wreckage of the old. A world where we can live together." If they all followed his plan, he was certain that it would work. He had chosen a good group so far. If everything carried out as planned, they would develop into just what he had planned them to be all along.

"How in the hell can I do that? We don't know anything about each other." The task wasn't that easy for David. Even if the Dius knew all sorts of things about the humans, it was far from an even trade. Maybe he would gain knowledge about the Dius race as they got familiar with each other but right now his knowledge was next to zero.

"You'll get to know me." This wasn't going to be instantaneous. It took time, like all things.

"I trust you. I won't tell anyone about your plan. I'll just try and push them to go in the right direction towards you." It would be his new side goal, besides bettering himself as a Time Guardian and living up to Oz's expectations.

Above everything, his main goal was still to make Oz proud of him.

"That's precisely what I'm doing."

"Are you a Time Guardian from your world?" If he was, then he wondered how many Time Guardians existed in total. It would be pretty awesome to meet all of the Time Guardians across the span of the universe.

"I'm much more than that. However, there is something more pressing on my mind."

"What is it?"

"What is a…brocrush?"

…To Be Continued

Shattered Illusions: Chapter 22: Bitter
xxxtsubomixxx
XxXxXxXx

Shattered Illusions

Chapter 22: Bitter

By: Melissa Norvell/Revamp

XxXxXxXxXx

Millie put the suitcases on the ground, after having helped the blue-haired girl unpack her belongings. She made sure to take special care of her beautiful clothing and not rip any of the precious and intricate seam work. There was no doubt about it; Coscatta had impeccable Lolita fashion sense. She watched as the petite form placed things around the room, being particular about the places that they sat and rearranging them several times to get them just right in her mind. Coscatta was a meticulous girl by nature and the school girl was sure to note that quirk and not be too offended when she moved that stuff she had sat down or placed around the room for her.

"Are you sure that Copernicus will let you stay in his room?" It was kind of odd that they were moving Coscatta's stuff into the same room that the vampire resided. Considering what had just happened, the whole situation was just odd and imposing. It nearly felt uncomfortable.

"Yes, we do this all of the time. We all slept in the same bed and everything! Well, he slept more with my brother than with me." She waved in dismissal. "That doesn't matter, though." Coscatta took out one of her pretty petticoats and walked over to the closet to hang it.

Millie arched her eyebrow. "How can you say that? Your brother was killed." That was pretty nonchalant for someone who was murdered in cold blood.

Coscatta cast a sad glance to the piece of fabric on her hands. "I don't really remember much about it. All I know is that he was shot and everything went black. When I came to, there was blood all over. If I could find his killer, I would. I don't know what they look like, though." It wasn't as if she meant to be disrespectful to her brother. There was no doubt that she loved him dearly, but at the same time the girl didn't want to dwell on the situation any more than she had to. It was already too traumatizing for her to take in and reliving the memories was not something that she liked doing.

The older girl's features softened after hearing that little tidbit of information. Her situation was truly tragic. "That must be hard." She sympathized. "I'm worried about my parents and the people who so kindly took me in. I don't want them to be involved in this. They don't need to die because they cared about me that much. That would just be a needless sacrifice that I can avoid."

Coscatta walked over to her and arched a blue eyebrow. "You're American like Copernicus, aren't you?"

"Yes, aren't you?" Millie blinked. Coscatta was definitely not a Japanese name.

"No, I'm from Italy." That proved it. Well, not that she was American but definitely that she was foreign.

"I knew your Japanese was weird." It had bugged her for a long time, and she knew that it wasn't a dialect. It was actually an accent.

"Yours is weird." Coscatta told her. It was unlike the Japanese that she was used to.

"Well, we both suck compared to Tsubomi-kun." After all, he was actually Japanese and nothing could compare to the original. Millie had always envied those who were actually of Japanese heritage. Their language was so beautiful and she felt like she could never articulate words as well as they all could. Japanese people made their language look beautiful and effortless.

"Yeah, well…He actually is Japanese, so it doesn't count. Besides, where in Japan is he from?" The young donor inquired. Where someone came from made a huge difference when it came to dialects.

"He said he was from the Fukuoka Prefecture." That's what she remembered, anyway.

"What? Fukuoka? That's on a whole different island. We're in Yokohama."

Millie took a seat on the bed as she they continued their conversation. "Yeah, he's a long way from home." They all were, it seemed. Was Tsubomi really the only one who was actually from Japan out of their entire group? Noticing a red tote next to her, the magenta-haired girl reached over to grab it but before her hand could make contact, it was snatched away and protectively held to the other female's small chest.

"Sorry, personal items are in here." Coscatta said selfishly and turned away from her.

"Alright…" Millie replied in an unsure tone. That was weird. What was in that bag that could possibly be so untouchable? It wasn't like she was going to open it or anything. She was just going to grab it and sit it somewhere safe.

"Where is my master, anyway?" The girl questioned as she placed the bag deep in her part of the closet, burying it beneath other bags and pairs of elaborate shoes.

"I don't know. I'm not in his business twenty-four seven." In fact, she barely knew anything about Copernicus, much less his location at any given point in time. That man was terribly illusive.

Coscatta frowned, standing in the closet. "He's probably with that Tsubomi guy. I mean, his name is Tsubomi. It means 'flower bud'. What boy is named that?" She berated her fellow donor.

"Why do you automatically hate him? He's just Copernicus' friend." Millie shot. She was kind of sick of Coscatta bad mouthing Tsubomi. It was beginning to get on her nerves.

The blue-haired girl came out of the closet with a scowl on her face and her arms crossed. "It's like everyone hates me now that he's around."

"You haven't even been here a day." The school girl sighed. She was just being overdramatic and jealous.

"You just don't know…" Coscatta's voice dropped a tone and took a nose dive into sorrow. "You don't know how hard it is to love someone who sees everyone else but you. It's bad when the shoulder you're crying on is the one that made you cry in the first place."

"You've loved Copernicus for a long time, haven't you?"

"I did…but all he ever saw was my brother. His eyes were so kind when they saw Virgil. They were always cold on me. The only emotion I ever got was when he gave me that 'I'm amused with your bullshit' look." It was all too typical of a look, and one she knew well. The fact that his emotions ceased upon sight of her, while hers flourished and burned like a wildfire around her drove the girl crazy with rage and sorrow. After all of this time, she thought that if she came back then she would be accepted into his arms, but Tsubomi was present and his affections were directed at her. This only deepened the already scarring wound on her heart. She felt like she shouldn't have even tried to come back at all.

"You mean when he rests his cheek on his knuckles and smiles slightly?" Millie knew that look pretty well, too.

"Yes." Coscatta pouted.

"He probably thinks I'm an airhead. I mean when he looks at me like that, I start to try and see if I can guess what he's thinking and a lot of things come to mind." None of which were really good things. In fact, that look sort of made her nervous and question what her next words were going to be. Copernicus was the type of guy who could kill someone's self-esteem with a look. That made him a dangerous man.

"We're probably thinking the same."

"Um…You're retarded, stupid or a dehydrated airhead. Are humans really this dumb?" Millie mocked the vampire's potential berating thoughts.

"She said what to me? Dumb little girl!" Coscatta continued the train of thought as she placed her hands on her hips and mimicked a disapproving look.

"Or, does she honestly think this? Surely this is a joke."

"You're little games amuse me and then you stop talking and tell him you're serious and it's like he's trying not to laugh, or he is on the inside."

"I hate that!" They both outraged at the same time.

"I want him to look at me the same way that he looked at my brother. It was such a kind, adoring gaze. I've done everything for him. I served him faithfully for four years. I was always here for him, and then this little no body walks right into his life and takes him from me. Again…Again it's a pretty boy!" She fumed and slammed down a pillow in anger. She was pretty tired of how things were going. No matter what she did, a male had always out shown her.

"Tsubomi-kun went through hell and back for him. I mean, I don't know what your life has been like-" Millie tried to explain things from a different angle in Tsubomi's defense, but before she could get anything more out, a book sailed across the room, hitting the wall and popping open as the floor was littered with papers. She blinked and turned to the girl, who stood there with her arms straight down to her sides, balled in fists. Her blue bangs shaded her eyes and a deep frown was plastered on her face. "Someone has anger issues."

"I don't have to try and like him! I already hate him!" She screamed angrily and ran out of the room with tears streaming down her face. This was not the day to talk about this subject, especially not with someone like Millie, who was obviously on Tsubomi's side. Everyone truly was against her, and she felt even more alone in the world than what she was.

Magenta eyes just stared at the open doorway. "Damn…This isn't good. Poor Tsubomi-kun. He doesn't need this." She had a feeling that things would only get worse from here and no doubt she'd be put in the middle of some pretty bad drama if things persisted. This was just great. Nothing more horrible than being put in the middle of some girl she barely knew and her good friend's relationship issues.

XxXxXxXxXx

Tsubomi scouted out the region, seeing no signs of people anywhere the tom boy inched over to the plate of sushi, taking the last two pieces. After all of that resting that she had done, her stomach was urging her to fill it somehow. Not to mention, her depleted state needed nutrients in order to continue normal functioning. It was bad enough to suffer mental stress, much less take as many wounds as she did, as well as a self-inflicted gunshot. What in the world was she thinking?

Munching on the delicious pieces of fish, seaweed and vegetables she savored the flavors. Food had never tasted so wonderful. Her moment of eating in peace was disturbed in a matter of moments as a tall shadow appeared behind her.

"Ah, you're awake."

The tom boy flinched and nearly jumped with such force that she had to save her falling sushi. "Don't do that, you idiot." She turned to face the vampire, who placed a hand on the side of her face. This caused a blush to rise to her cheeks.

"You always do that."

"I like you touching me."

"Have you thought about it?" He asked. It was the same question as before. This guy really was serious. Tsubomi could tell that it wasn't just some game of his, and the vampire wasn't doing it to just dig at her nerves. What did Copernicus truly feel about her then?

Releasing a slow breath, she leveled him with an honest stare. "My opinion hasn't changed. You know I'd do anything for you." Obviously she had proven that by shooting herself.

Suddenly, their bodies pressed together with force. She could feel him against her; Copernicus' warm aura overtook her senses, as well as the smell of tea and cologne. His voice lowered into a seductive tone. "Do you still want me?"

"To be truthful…" Tsubomi paused; a small smile crossed her face as she pushed into him. Her voice mimicked his similar tone. "So bad it hurts."

"Really? I mean, for all you know you're my sex slave." The vampire teased, poking at her for her prior remarks.

The tom boy smirked. "It wouldn't be so bad."

"As long as I keep refusing Coscatta, right?" After all, that's what she was so jealous of. As long as she felt like she had the edge, then things would be amusing. Not like they weren't already amusing. Since he had found out this little piece of information, he wasn't about to not use it in his favor. If it got him this type of treatment, then it was a useful enough tool.

"Don't do it because of me. If that's the kind of relationship you had before-"Tsubomi started but was cut off.

"It isn't. I have something to tell you." The inheritor's voice and expression turned grave. Maybe putting an end to his donor issue would straighten things out with this boy, or perhaps throw him into an understanding about his situation. Not to mention there was always the topic of his unspoken feelings as well.

Tsubomi backed up a little. "Go ahead."

"Not yet. I want to tell you when we do something." Now was definitely not the right time. It's tempting, but he knew that he would regret it if he pursued the option.

"Do something." There he went, making her blush again and bringing up vague subjects. Then again, she could have expected that kind of thing from him.

"I want to at least make out with you tonight." He actually did mean what he was saying. Copernicus had romantic intentions, and unlike the other times where he had just joked about it, this time he was serious. It looked as if this would be the moment in which her secret would be exposed. It would either turn out better or worse than it already was. The girl in boy's clothing could only hope that he would not look at her lies as anything punishable by any form of assault. He had already smacked her for shooting herself. Granted, he was in an emotional state, but still. It was the principal of the fact. Now she was nervous, more than ever.

"Please go slow." It was all she could say. It was all she wanted to say regarding this subject.

"It will go as far and as fast as you want it. Whenever you feel comfortable." She wanted to take things further, as she had said before. The vampire sincerely hoped that it was not just something she said in the heat of the moment and planned to take back before things got started. Copernicus wanted this to be an uneventful, romantic night.

"What about Coscatta?" Weren't they staying in the same room?

"She's staying here." That's what she thought. How was this going to happen, then? The girl felt uneasy now.

"Copernicus…I…" There were so many reasons why she couldn't do that. Oh so many. Not to mention she was far from being an exhibitionist of any kind.

"You what?"

"I love…this sushi…It's really good. Did you make it yourself?" It was time for a subject change. There was no way that Tsubomi was going to immerse herself in the subject of love or making out with her master anymore than he planned. If she could change the subject and get away with it, the tomboy would go out of her way to do it and the food that she had been eating was the perfect excuse.

A bead of sweat ran down the back of the vampire's head. "Yes."

'I can't tell him. I won't hurt him.' Not here. Not now. Not after everything that's happened between them. She had already let far too much slip.

"You're from Fukuoka. You guys are nearly vegetarian." Copernicus commented on her location and its people. Those from that particular prefecture mainly ate fish, so it was a lucky guess that she would love fish dishes and sushi.

"I guess we are. It is a fishing town." Tsubomi replied with a smile. "What part of America are you from?"

"Maryland, it's beautiful there, or at least I've always thought so."

"You should take me there sometime." She's never been to America. It sounded fun to go off and visit another land, and see his home town in that state of Maryland. She wondered what type of place it was and what the culture was like there. From what she remembered, it was a state on the coast but she didn't remember much beyond that.

"I'll have to teach you English." Copernicus replied.

"I know some English." Not enough to be fluent, but she had a basic knowledge of the language.

"You can teach me some Japanese. Your language is extensive." It was a fair trade.

"Hey, I don't even know all of it." There were so many slang terms and dialects as well as ways of writing that no one could ever learn all there is to know. Even those who know advanced Japanese are always finding things they did not understand or encountering terminology that they had no prior knowledge of. It didn't matter if you were native or foreign; the language was definitely a meticulous and intricate thing.

"Copernicus!" Coscatta's sharp voice interrupted their friendly chat as the girl side stepped into Tsubomi, bumping her out of her way with a harsh thrust of the hip. The brown-haired donor stumbled to the side as her plate with the remaining piece of sushi tumbled out of her hands and fell onto the floor.

"Crap!" She exclaimed as she tried to save it, but to no avail. "Damn it, I was going to eat that." Tsubomi cast a disappointed look towards the smashed sushi.

"Whoops! SO sorry." Coscatta fakely apologized.

"That didn't sound sincere." The tom boy muttered as she bent down to pick up her mess, but Copernicus was one step ahead of her. He had picked up the plate and handed it to her.

"Rest. You shouldn't bend with your injuries." He advised.

"Master. You shouldn't pick things up off of the floor! You're royalty!" The other female reprimanded. Such a high figure acting like a slave was most unbecoming of him. Especially if it was for the sake of some lowly human who dared to associate themselves with him.

Anything he did in Tsubomi's favor was a horrible misdeed.

Copernicus shot her a look of irritation. "I am a part of a royal court. Perhaps you can pick it up next time, Coscatta."

"I really didn't mean to." She frowned, lowering her head in submission. It wasn't wise to step on his toes any further. Not to mention she could not stand being looked at like that. It killed her to know that he even favored Tsubomi over her.

"I'll make some tea." Tsubomi just wanted to get out of the line of fire, and being hip bumped by the rude little girl. Retreating was her best option. Besides, she didn't feel like being caught up in their drama and she was hurt.

"Do you want to make more sushi? I can make another roll." Her master offered. It was more than compensation for the fact that the last of his current one had been wasted by a certain pretentious donor of his.

"I'll just have some sea breeze salad." That would be simpler, and less wasteful.

XxXxXxXx

Millie was busy putting all of Coscatta's books in order and digging them out of all of the bags. She had even retrieved the ones from her special bag that she tossed in the closet. If she was going to do something then she was going to do it right. Besides, what was the big deal about those books anyway? Or that bag in general? The school girl huffed as she assembled them collectively on a nearby shelf. Pulling another book from her bag, she spoke to no one but herself. "This girl sure does like to read. Huh?" Looking at the old piece of literature, it had a haunting appearance to it and it smelled of copper. She opened it and flipped through the pages. They were all splattered in red. "Why are these splattered with blood?" She flipped it over to reveal the type of book it was. "This must be her diary." Curious, the girl opened it, and then slammed it shut out of hesitation. "No! It's not my place." Ignoring the temptation further, she shoved it onto the shelf quickly.

Some things were best left in the dark. This was one of them.

There was a tap on the window that deterred her further. With a light 'huh' in question she glanced over to the glass to see Prince Yale on the other side. He wore a smile and waved in salutation.

"Prince Yale!" She smiled and rose from her pile of books. "I'm coming!" Her voice carried through the room as she ran over and opened the window. The sickly-looking prince slid through and the two of them shared a romantic embrace. "I missed you. I'm so happy that you're alright." When he was away, she worried about him far more than she really should have.

'I'm glad that you're fine as well. I told you I'd be watching you.' His voice entered her thoughts. Finally, the prince was strong enough to gain his psychic powers back. They weren't as strong as they could be, but it was a slow recovery process.

"Wow, you can talk to me now. This is great!" Excited, the girl jumped up and down and clasped her hands together in delight. This was the best news she had heard in a while. "We don't have to use that notebook anymore."

'I'm sorry for leaving you. I didn't want to be found out. I wanted to stay and hold you.' That was the biggest disappointment of that moment. Yale regretted leaving her in such a state. If it was possible, he would have held her for eternity in that moment of passion and love.

"It's okay. I held you all night." In many ways, she couldn't ask for anything less.

'I held you as well. I've been thinking about you.'

"Hey, you're the only thing that's been on my mind since I first saw you. It's kind of weird, isn't it? We're so goofy, being like this." It was some comfort to her soul to at least have her feelings returned. Millie was flattered that the vampire had her on his mind. Maybe, just maybe, he felt that way about her as well. She could only hope.

'It makes me happy.' Even if it was goofy, it was nice to have someone who cared about him as much as he did them. That thought alone was enough to calm the prince's worries. The less trouble he had, the better off he was, considering he was being hunted by nearly everyone, friends and potential mates were the best kind of medicine to abolish the disease of anxiety.

"Copernicus asked me if I'd be your queen. Isn't that funny?" Millie joked, even though she felt the inward sting of irony. She was sure Yale would find it equally hilarious.

'Considering that still wouldn't make me a king, yes.' Oh, it was ironic and funny but not in the way that she was thinking.

"What?" She was confused now.

'You don't know? There's already a kind and he's still alive.' It should have been obvious to her. It was a little confusing to him why it wasn't.

"Really?" She arched an eyebrow.

'Yes, he's my brother.'

Did she really not know?

"Man, I bet he's hidden well." Anyone who was family and descendant of the dead royal crown holders had to be one hot item to Hide. Copernicus and Yale were probably working double time to make sure that he would not even be in the scope of the radar around them.

'Yes, he is.' There were probably reasons that his brother had not told her yet. He figured that they would eventually come out into the light. There was no use telling her until she found out or was told.

Their gazes locked and they both stared into the depths of each other's eyes, transfixed on the other's expression. "Prince Yaris Greenchapel…"

'Millie Ashford…' The prince closed the gap between their faces as the two shared a gentle kiss. He could feel the girl's hands on his face and pulled her close.

'When I'm around you, I can't help it. I just have to be close to you.' Millie thought to herself as she closed her eyes.

XxXxXxXx

Sitting the tea set at the table where Coscatta and Copernicus were seated, Tsubomi made an announcement. "I made you Red Tea, hope you don't mind."

"I hate Red Tea." Coscatta puffed up her cheeks.

"I'm sorry. I can get you something else." The stripper didn't know if she was just giving her a hard time, or if she actually did hate Red Tea. Whatever the case, she was going to try and be polite. Even if this girl was a brat, she was still his donor.

"Can I pour Copernicus a cup of tea?" She asked sweetly, batting her eyes at Tsubomi. The tom boy knew that she was just trying to get under her skin, but she would ignore her little displays of jealousy for now.

"I don't see what it could hurt." Taking a step closer to the small girl, she handed her the tea tray with the set on top, which Coscatta intentionally bumped her arm, which caused the tea to spill on both Tsubomi and Copernicus, who let out a feral hiss at the stinging pain of the hot tea. As she realized that the tea set was going to fall on her master, she tipped the tray backwards, showering herself in tea dishes as the loud clanking sound was heard. Dishes, cups and the tea top hit the ground in a clatter and she felt the hot liquid bleed through her clothes, stinging her skin and burning into her wound. That only amplified the pain.

"Son of a bitch! Ouch! Damn it!" Tsubomi called out in pain.

"Are you alright?" Copernicus asked her, seeing as more of the tea she touched her than himself.

"Sorry, I got bumped. Are you okay? You aren't burned, are you?" She rushed to his side to assess his wounds. Pulling back the fabric of his shirt, navy eyes scanned over his skin. It was red, as she suspected.

Coscatta propped her head up with one hand, looking unamused. 'That didn't work. I thought for sure he'd be mad at him. Curse it all.'

Taking a cold cloth, Tsubomi attempted to clean up the tea that had showered her arm and wrist, as well as attempt to rid his clothes of the stains, disregarding her own burns to do so. "I'm really sorry. That's just my luck. I spill the whole tea set right onto royalty." That was embarrassing. What had gotten into her? Well, besides a rather jealous little girl.

"You tipped it back so it would mostly fall on you. It's all in your wounds now." Copernicus, on the other hand, was much more worried about her state, especially with prior injuries. She didn't need to get an infection, on top of everything else.

"I can do it." Tsubomi insisted. "Please don't. It's all my fault." She said as she gathered the pieces of the tea set from the floor and the vampire mopped up the spilled tea. Looking back up to him, she sighed. "I hope that didn't ruin your tea set."

"Don't worry about it."

'This guy is different than Virgil. It won't be easy to get Copernicus to hate him or even doubt his abilities as a donor. Little tea serving bastard, you will not have Copernicus as long as I am around. I promise to make your life hell.' Coscatta's eyes narrowed in malice. If Tsubomi thought her position as donor was unhealthy now, it was about to get a lot worse.

Their rivalry had only just begun.

…To Be Continued

Shattered Illusions: chapter 21: Longing
xxxtsubomixxx
XxXxXxXx

Shattered Illusions

Chapter 21: Longing

By: Melissa Norvell

XxXxXxXx

Copernicus knelt at the fallen tom boy's side as Millie rushed over and fell to her knees, calling out the stripper's name in an emotional shout. The vampire looked to her with a dire expression and instructed her to go and talk to Coscatta while he handled the problem.

With an unsure look, as if she did not want to leave Tsubomi's side the school girl reluctantly agreed and walked over to the blue-haired girl.

The vampire examined the girl's body. He immediately noticed how tight the neck tie had been, as well as the red marks she had made from strangling herself with it. 'He's delicious…' A large hand was placed on her chest. 'His heart beat is fast.' He mentally noted as he unfastened the necktie and felt the tom boy's head for signs of fever. 'Tsubomi…I wonder if you really have been psychologically messed up. When I think about it, Hizaki's attack really did make you crazy. I thought you were alright but I bet you've been suffering this whole time.'

A sympathetic look was cast to her as he picked up her body, which was light in comparison to others he held in the past. The Inheritor carried her to a plush bed and covered her up. "Take care of yourself, and try not to jeopardize everything. You almost cost everyone their lives."

Copernicus then walked over to a white, wooden chair and pulled it up to her bedside. He took a seat, crossing one leg over the other in casual male fashion for a moment before changing his position and leaning forward, holding his donor's cold hand gently. "I think that you have good intentions…" He nearly choked on a slight laugh. "What am I saying? I really should tell you the truth about my true identity." His voice lowered as he leaned down to kiss her, but was shortly cut off by his name being spoken in a faint tone.

Opening his eyes, he whispered. "Just rest, my little Tsubomi."

"Kiss me…like you kissed her."

"What?" That was a surprising thing to say.

"The way you kissed her…it was…different." Tsubomi said in broken up fashion as she clutched the sheets and averted her eyes sadly.

"She kissed me. It was unwanted. She always flings herself on me. Besides, I didn't kiss her back." So, that situation did look to be more than it seemed. However, Tsubomi did not truly know the whole situation, nor did she know their relationship.

"You didn't backhand her for coming here and putting herself in danger. Why am I different?" At this point, she was pretty sure even normal people were above her. This guilt was overbearing. She just wanted to go back to sleep. Anything was better than facing him like this. Never had she felt so weak, than she did in this moment.

"You're delusional. I am upset with her, but you're a guy. I expect you to be a little more tolerant." Surely he could take a slap to the face. It wasn't like he punched him in the nuts or anything underhanded. It was a simple form of being reprimanded.

Oh yeah, she was regarded as a guy. Tsubomi nearly forgot. "If I were a girl, you wouldn't have-"

"Not at all. You were different Tsubomi, but it isn't because you're lower. Coscatta means nothing to me but a source of blood and companionship. She adores me but she is simply my donor. It's true that I haven't minded her affections, but it does feel awkward now." More than anything, he wanted the boy to understand that he was no way beneath Coscatta simply because they were both donors.

"Because I'm here, right?" Her voice was still low as her eyes traveled back to his face.

"Yes, to be honest. I kind of felt bad. Not sure why, really. By the way, I'd kiss you however and wherever you'd like." He smiled, remembering her earlier request. This caused a slight flush across the girl's face.

'I should say it. I should tell him how much I want him right now. I should tell him that I might love him…but…he'll hate me later, especially when he finds out about my gender. I can't hide from him forever.' Tsubomi finally spoke up from her bout of embarrassment. "What have you done with her?"

"Why?"

"I just want to know." Since he was being so honest, why not tell her the whole truth about the two of them.

"Kiss and hug. She's tried to do more but I won't let her." She wanted the truth, there it was.

"Would you let me?" It was a hint, but a damned forward one.

"Huh?" Again, he was caught off guard by it.

"Please, master, please do anything and everything with me. I don't care if I'm your boy toy. I want you. I want you really bad, Copernicus. I trust you and I'll give you anything." Even if it cost her the secret she's been holding dear all of this time. It was worth it if he didn't end up hating her in the end. Nothing mattered at this moment in time. Tsubomi could no longer hold back her feelings towards the noble.

Copernicus was amused. "Are you that jealous? This isn't like you."

The tom boy blinked and turned her head away. "I…I'm sorry…" That's the second stupid mistake she just made. Great, just wonderful.

"You should rest. Think about it for a while and then if you want me to do something later with you I will." Obviously, he was still delirious. The poor thing must have been in a lot of pain to be that mentally ill.

Not that it wouldn't have been nice to have that type of relationship with him, but he could not take an act of despair as a reason to hop in to a relationship with the boy.

"I want to be kissed like that." She looked him dead in the eyes. It wasn't some daft babbling, she really wanted him and now he was writing her desire off as some kind of mental illness.

How irritating.

He was really tempting him. What would it hurt to play into the moment? "I can grant you that wish. Just open your mouth a little."

Doing as she was told, Tsubomi opened her mouth slightly as lips covered hers and a tongue slowly slipped into her mouth. 'This is…It feels so good. I love it when I'm with him. I want him even more. His kiss tastes of coffee. Maybe he was drinking some a while ago.' The blush returned to her cheeks. 'I'm such an idiot.' Her arms wrapped around her master's neck as her tongue danced with his. 'I hope I'm not too god awful at this. I can't let him be close to Coscatta. I want to be the only one that he needs. If I want him, then I'll have to give myself to him. The more I show him that I want him, the more he'll want to keep me around. I'll serve my master, publically and privately.'

He pulled away; his breath was escalated a little. Tsubomi could feel the warmth against her cold skin and smell the sweet scent of coffee as he spoke. "You're killing off that shy quality."

Tsubomi was panting herself, savoring the sweet taste of the kiss. "Good, if you want something, then go for it, right?" She replied in a breathy sentence.

"I'm a bad influence on you, it seems." Copernicus teased.

"Probably, but that's what makes you sexy." Tsubomi smiled.

"Tsubomi…" A slight pink graced his cheeks. It was the first time she had ever seen him blush for once. It was refreshing.

"You're quite when you blush." She smiled.

"That's the first time I've blushed around anyone. Damn your boyish charm." That was embarrassing, but if it was for her, then it wasn't so bad. The vampire smiled slightly as the tom boy inched closer to his face.

"I'd like to make you blush in other ways, too." She purred. 'Screw it. So what if he finds out? Right now, I don't care.'

"That will be a challenge…won't it?" Copernicus arched an eyebrow. So she thought that she could accomplish such a goal? He wouldn't mind being a test subject in her efforts to prove her theory.

"You can be a real prick, you know? I think you're too used to that high life, you little snob." Yeah. Ha ha, very funny. Sarcastic asshole.

"You act like more of a snob than I do. You're a cold bastard." Since he wanted to get snippy, they would both see who had the bigger bite.

"Maybe so." She smiled. Tsubomi couldn't deny that truth.

"We belong together." Copernicus smiled before a look of realization crossed his face. There was a pause and Tsubomi's face then registered what exactly had come out of his mouth. 'What did I just say?'

'What? In what way does he mean that?' She blinked.

"I'm going to go and check on the girls. Who knows what they're talking about in there." Now was the time to flee and leave her thinking about his last phrase. It wasn't as if he were trying to be mysterious this time. He also needed to think about just what poured from between his fangs. She unstably agreed as he kissed the top of her hand and leveled her with a smile. "See you in a few hours. It's nice to have you back."

"Nice to see you again. I've missed your touch."

"I can tell. You don't seem too depressed now." He smiled. It was all in a job well done, even if he hadn't planned it that way.

"I'm just in pain…and drained to be honest. Since Hizaki first attacked me, I haven't felt like I could think straight." She didn't want to admit it, but maybe it was about time that she did. Tsubomi's mental state was deteriorating; there was no doubt about it. She could not do this alone.

"I can tell."

"Why do you make crude gay jokes now?" She frowned. How rude. She was being serious.

"You always make pedophile jokes about me. I'm paying you back."

Tsubomi half-heartedly smiled and closed her eyes. She really couldn't stay mad at him. 'I am really happy with you, master.'

XxXxXxXx

"That can't be true. He looks even younger than me." Coscatta placed a hand on her chest with an angry expression.

"Nope, he's twenty-four." Millie replied.

"He can't-"

"With Tsubomi, he can."

"With Tsubomi I can what?" Copernicus interrupted their conversation as he walked up to the two girls. Their gazes turned to them and they wore quizzical expressions.

"You took a long time in there." Millie pointed out.

"Well, Tsubomi was just so frisky. He wanted me to donate something to him." The vampire winked suggestively as the school girl leveled him with a suspicious glance.

"I don't want to know."

"What!? He gave you a blow job?" Coscatta didn't mind saying exactly what was on her mind.

"I said I don't want to know!" Millie shouted angrily at the girl in a scolding way.

"You honestly think I'd take advantage of an injured person like that?" He was shocked at their accusations.

"Yes!" Both of the girls gave him angry looks and crossed their arms over their breasts to assume disapproving postures.

"You know me too well." Even he knew that if that situation got any more hot and heavy, that he would not have tried to stop Tsubomi if she wanted to do something more.

"You really let him do that to you? You never let me have any fun with you!" The blue-haired donor complained. It just wasn't fair at all. Why was HE so special?

"What kind of playboy are you, anyway?" Millie's look intensified. How dare he try to break up her perfect ship of him and Tsubomi. She would simply not allow Coscatta to take him away from his one true prince!

"Long story."

"You'd better not cheat on Tsubomi-kun!" She snapped. That was not a threat; it was a promise of pain if he did so.

"We're not together."

"Yes, you are!"

"What about me?" Coscatta butted in with a pouty expression as Millie turned her nose up to the girl.

"No one cares." The blue-haired girl was more than offended at her remark.

"You always like young boys." This time, his donor was genuinely upset. "Why can't I ever be important? It's not fair. He doesn't know you like I do. He hasn't seen what I have." All this time, she had stuck by his side, through thick and thin. She gave him everything, almost everything. There was still one thing he had not taken from her, much to her regret.

"I love him." His words were simple, as if it were no big deal that it may potentially crush the girl's feelings. Copernicus wasn't going to let her hang there, suspended from a thin strand of dreams forever. There had to be a point in which the string was cut. This was that point.

"Say what!?"Mille snapped back to his direction, nearly busting a lung when she uttered that phrase.

"What!?" Coscatta was equally horrified at his admittance.

"Yes, I love him."

"Wow, I didn't think you'd just come out and say it like that." The school girl was still in shock over it.

"That's why I'm so harsh on him. That's why I don't want him being reckless. I want him to put his life in my hands." At the same time, the Inheritor knew that he could not tell Tsubomi such things himself. It was more than making Tsubomi a strong donor; it was about giving him something to confide in and something to lean on other than himself.

"Tsubomi-kun doesn't even seem like the dependant type. You can't even get him to move in with you." In Millie's opinion, that was pretty damned stubborn. She'd never known Tsubomi to simply come to anyone with his problems, nor did she think of him as the type that would just lean on someone for things, much less every little thing. Tsubomi was pretty brave and tough on his own.

"I need to talk to you in private."

What about, she wondered? "Okay."

Dark blue eyes glanced to his donor. "Coscatta, stay on the couch and drink tea."

The girl complied and with a 'yes, master' she took a seat on the pristine couch and grabbed her tea cup from the table. Gingerly, she sipped the warm fluids as she awaited her next order.

"If Tsubomi needs anything, cater to his needs, would you?"

She sighed and frowned. "Yes, master." Damn it all. This was more and more unfair by the second. 'I didn't get into a contract with Tsubomi. Why do I have to play maid to him? I knew I should have gotten here sooner. If I could spend some time with Copernicus then we would have grown closer, like he was with Virgil. Dear brother…How I miss you so…' She closed her eyes and tilted her head down in silent mourning as vivid memories of his last moments played through her head with astonishing realism. She remembered looking at her hands, covered in slick, warm blood as her heart raced and her eyes widened in horror. The frightened girl's hands shook with the complexity of emotional hurt that she felt. 'It's always some beautiful boy who steals my master's heart.'

XxXxXxXx

Copernicus and Millie relocated their position to two rooms over, in case Coscatta tried to listen in. He didn't think that she would, but Copernicus was a man who took extra precautions to cover himself. The room was spacious and illuminated by a large window that the two of them stood in front of. It nearly took up the entire wall.

"I finally know how I feel about him. After three months of thinking about why I'm so attracted to him. What should I tell him?" This was a delicate situation. The two of them were flirting with danger, especially after that little moment that they had in private.

"That you love him." Ask a stupid question…and he knew the rest. That much was obvious but he was looking for specifics.

"I don't know how he feels about me."

"Talk to him. You couldn't really hurt anything." That was the most basic approach. He really should know that by now. Wasn't he supposed to be the playboy vampire stud?

"I do regret the last time I held back telling someone." Copernicus glanced down at the floor, trying to rid himself of those horrible memories, covered in the blood of the slaughtered.

"See? You won't have that guilt if you don't keep it to yourself." Millie reasoned.

The vampire looked to her. "What about you?" His tone dropped an octave and became serious in pitch.

"No one wants me." She waved in dismissal. "Back in America, I was always the idiot that thought guys loved me, and then they didn't want me after I had sex with them. I'm just slutty Millie." It hurt talking about that more than she would let him know, so she attempted to play if off like a cruel joke. Laughing at it really was the only way to lighten the blow.

"I don't think so. You just want true love." Copernicus would have none of that. He was still sticking to his serious tone to let her know that the joke was hardly funny.

"He probably thinks I'm easy." She really didn't want to talk about this.

"I doubt it. Prince Yale is fond of classy women." He pressed.

"You should tell Tsubomi-kun." She changed the subject quickly. "Oh, what are you going to do about Coscatta?"

"She'll have to stay here with us. We can't risk her being found alone." Now that she came out of hiding, no doubt Hide and his minions would be after her as well. By making that mistake, the girl placed herself in more danger than she could ever know.

"I'm sure Tsubomi-kun will love that." It only made things more complicated for their relationship, but on one hand, Copernicus was right. There was nothing that they could do. 'Like he loves the gunshot wound in his shoulder.'

"I'll tell Tsubomi that I love him but I want it to be special for the both of us." He just had to find that opportune time. A time when she was well enough to make it worth her while, worth their while would be best.

"Well, just don't hit him and I think you'll have it good." Honestly, she couldn't believe that he would even do that to poor Tsubomi. Not to mention he already had a bullet hole in his shoulder, it was really unneeded. "Besides, it's because you love him that you can't control him. He's not like Coscatta. Think of it like this, you're a king, Coscatta is like a maid, she looks pretty and she'll obey your command but Tsubomi-kun is like a knight. He'll fight for you. He's loyal and he'll definitely go to extremes to save you."

"A king? You give me too much credit. I'm nothing like Prince Yale." The vampire smiled bitterly.

"Even if you beat Hide, who will rule? Would it still be Prince Yale?" She'd been wondering about that for a while.

"I'm not sure. Why? Do you want to become a queen?"

Millie placed her hand to her lips and blushed. "I don't think he'd want me…I mean, I'm still trying to get over the fact that we even did anything."

"My dear Millie, you are more to him than you think. In love, don't think about the details. Just be yourself." He assured, placing a hand on her shoulder as some means of comfort.

Her shoulders relaxed. "You're right. I should relax."

"It's not always easy to admit things…for either party." Copernicus replied. 'Once I divulge the bitter truth, will you still be so faithful to me, my little Tsubomi?'

…To Be Continued

Shattered Illusions: Chapter 20: Coscatta
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Shattered Illusions

Chapter 20: Coscatta

By: Melissa Norvell

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Millie was outside in the rose garden casually watering with the tin as Tsubomi walked along the concrete walkway and darted off onto the sidewalk. She looked down, her face riddled with a sorrowful expression and a deep set frown.

"Oh my god! Are you alright?" The school girl's voice was urgent as she threw down the watering tin; water splashed everywhere as she ran to the tom boy's side. "Tsubomi-kun! I was so worried about you!" She wrapped her arms around the taller girl in a tight hug and then pulled back with her hands on her shoulders. "What happened? You look so sad…What happened between you and Copernicus?"

The brown-haired girl said nothing and merely took her hands away, shaking her head.

This was more worrisome than before. "I haven't seen you in a week. You don't look very good. You're so pale. You look like you've been depressed."

Still, her answer was silence.

"Hey…Please talk to me…" Millie's voice increased in concern. It wasn't like Tsubomi not to talk to her at all. She was quiet and stoic, yes but nothing like that.

The tom boy sighed and walked past her, going into the house without a single word. When she got inside, none other than Copernicus met her in the living room. "You're back."

Like hell she was answering him.

"Are you vexed at me because I backhanded you?" He questioned.

No answer.

"It's rude not to speak when you're spoken to. How are your injuries? Are you healing well? Honestly, this is annoying." The vampire's face contorted into one of anger and irritation. She was being defiant on purpose.

"Sorry…Master…I had my reasons for doing what I did, but in a way, you're right. I did put everything on the line that you tried to keep close to you, including myself but I thought it was the best plan of action." Her words were subtle and defeated. She refused to make eye contact with him and her gaze stayed on the floor.

At that moment, Millie barged in the room with an angry look on her face. "Copernicus!" Her voice had a sharpness to it and with the tone of his name alone, he knew that she was about to chew him out. "What did you do to Tsubomi-kun? He won't even talk to me now, you stupid jerk face!" The girl continued to complain before the scene in front of her stopped her dead in her tracks. "Hm?" She blinked. "Oh crap."

"Sorry Millie, I've just not been myself lately." Tsubomi apologized in the same voice she projected to her master.

The school girl put her hands on her hips and leveled them both with a look of irritation. "Okay, we seriously need to talk."

"Alright, we should all be on the same page." Copernicus agreed.

"Tell me about it."

'I will treat you gently.' That phrase echoed through her mind before the harsh smack to the face reeled through her form. Tsubomi could still feel the stinging in her cheek from that harsh slap that was delivered to her face. Her frown deepened at the thought. She had never felt more humiliated in her life, or so low. Then again, did she not deserve it for lying to him? She truly was a fool.

"Do you not like that idea, Tsubomi-kun?" Millie blinked upon noticing her disapproving look.

"You risk too much. You should know that risking your life is not in the plan. Why the hell would you shoot yourself? Are you psychotic?" Not to mention she lost the blood that was so precious to him. Humans truly were selfish creatures.

"You…shot yourself?" The girl was confused and worried, more so than she was before. "Do you have mental issues?"

"Would you idiots listen to me?" Tsubomi shot lowly. "I know where Prince Yale is hiding."

"What?" Now Copernicus was willing to be rational. It figured.

"I saw him earlier when I was in town, so I followed him. Hizaki found me and knocked me out. I also saw Hide and I found out where he's hiding. It's beneath the rose garden." The tom boy educated them on the knowledge she had obtained. To her, getting shot was worth this even if the pain right now was killing her beyond belief.

"The one that I said was hollow underneath?" The vampire inquired.

"Yes, you were correct. It's a giant, underground palace. I also saw Hide and Estella Nu."

"Did she torture you? Are you alright?" Millie knew of the horrors of her dungeon all too well. It was enough to give her a life time of nightmares, and her body was still recovering from some of the wounds given to her by that sadistic bat from hell. She could only imagine the unspeakable horrors if she had gotten a hold on Tsubomi. Hell, she'd rather shoot herself if it was her than ever get tortured again.

"It was worth it to find out what I had. I did this for the benefit of the vampires, though I have to say that it was accidental. I decided to find out what I could while I was there. Also, something else that was interesting was that Hizaki had thought Prince Yale to be dead when he was initially rumored to die." That meant that Estella Nu had been keeping Yale's existence to herself. The only question was why?

"So, that means that someone kept him alive in secret." Copernicus noted.

"If that's true, then someone must be plotting to overthrow this Hide guy." Millie probably wasn't too far off in that assumption. It made sense to her, at least.

"Unless it was Hide himself." The vampire replied.

"I don't think so. Personally, I don't think that Hide knows a lot of things that go on amongst his subordinates." That was more than apparent to the tomboy.

"How big is this thing anyway? I mean, how many vampires serve Hide?" The school girl asked. The way that she made it sound, this place must have been absolutely huge.

"I'm not sure but I think there's about a hundred, but they didn't seem normal…Their eyes were glassy and blank. They looked like puppets." Tsubomi noted.

"They were possessed." Copernicus informed.

"By Hizaki, right?" Millie glanced towards him for affirmation.

"I'm not sure of that, but if it is by Hizaki alone, then there's some true power behind him."

"Okay, so Hizaki was the queen's advisor. That means that he was probably the best of one or one of the best Psivamps around. Even you say it's plausible for him to have that kind of power." Tsubomi deducted. At least, this was a theory of hers based on the information that Copernicus had leaked to her.

"That's scary! Do you think he could possess Prince Yale?" Millie was worried now. Yale could not talk, that meant that he could not vocalize a possession taking place.

"He could possess any of us." Copernicus was disturbed by that thought alone.

"Even you, I can't say I'm not possessed now." After all, Tsubomi had been possessed by Hizaki before. In some levels of possession, someone could be completely unaware of their state.

"If that's true, then we're helping him out." Millie's realization came crashing down around her. That was the ultimate worst case scenario. She hoped to god that would never come to pass.

"I'm not possessed. There's no way…" At least, she didn't think there could be. It didn't feel like her prior possession.

"Well, you look horrible but not lifeless." Millie joked.

"There are different levels of possession. Any one of us could be possessed." Copernicus smiled slightly. Half of it was a joke, but half of it was something he could not have been more serious on. More than anyone, he knew the different levels of possession in Psivamps and someone like Hizaki was no joke.

"Seriously! Oh god!" No way! No freaking way! She didn't want to be possessed. The school girl was tired of being hurt and tortured. Getting possessed would just be another thing that further frayed the strings of what was left of her sanity.

"Even Prince Yale…In fact, he'd be the most likely of any of us." Tsubomi reminded them of the Prince's deteriorating state of mind and overall weakness. It would make him the perfect vessel.

Millie's features only amplified their feelings. 'Was that…really possession?' She certainly hoped not…Not after all that they had done.

"Are you sure you're alright?" Copernicus questioned once again.

No answer.

"Tsubomi Sakurazawa, don't think that what happened between us changes anything." His voice was colder now, brash and commanding. She knew that she wasn't getting away with anything even if she tried. No matter how stubborn she was, she could not be silent for long.

Finally, she bent under his grip. "I know I screwed up…I'm trying to make up for it. I know I shouldn't have even stuck my nose in your business when I don't know anything. I'm an idiot for taking things into my own hands and playing spy. I thought I'd help everyone out, but I wasn't very successful. Now I know that Hizaki could be stronger than what I gave him credit for and I see how foolish I was. I deserved to be backhanded." The girl fell to her knees. "Forgive me."

Millie was shocked. "Backhanded? You hit him?"

The brunette knelt beside of the girl and put his hand on the side of her face, lifting her visage to gaze up at him. "Don't bow to me. Bowing is a form of fear; I don't want you to bow before me. I want you to stand beside of me." His vernacular changed, it was now softer, matching the look on his face as he spoke in a loving tone to her.

"What?" As always, he perplexed her with his sudden change in emotion.

"How cute!" The maroon-haired girl clapped happily and clasped her hands together in delight.

Copernicus smiled. "Despite what you did, you are a genius in ways, especially to think of doing what you did. You successfully managed to get yourself out of a situation with no problems." He took her small hand in his and kissed it lightly, lovingly.

Tsubomi was confused. What in the hell? He was so pissed at her for disregarding his feelings before and now he was complimenting her. "Decide whether you love me or you hate me for it."

"I was simply angry. You shouldn't act without my adivce." It wasn't worth losing their bond over. It was out of concern more than anything, both for him and for her. Regardless of how he presented himself, he did worry for her.

"You said…You said you'd treat me gently." It shouldn't have hurt her this badly, and yet she couldn't get over it. It hurt her, far more than what she was willing to admit.

"So…I did…." He said lowly, stroking her hair. "I have a nasty temper, just ask Prince Yale." After all, he was noted for his cold behavior in the royal court. The mute prince had seen this on more than one occasion. He could testify to his statement.

"You dumbass, he can't talk! You're so mean!" Millie, however, took it as an insult to her dear Prince's disability.

"I didn't mean it like that. I've hit him as well." Copernicus sighed.

"Abusive," the school girl pouted.

"I hope that you can still trust me." The vampire turned his sights back to his donor.

"I stupidly do." As much as she wanted to beat herself up for her idiocy. "I know I'm wrong. I acted like I knew everything before but I don't really know crap." It was only until that moment did she realize how hard her fall truly was. All that time, Tsubomi had always prized herself on being a step ahead of the game, but this time, the game took a twist and blindsided her.

"I hate seeing you like this." It wasn't her style. Copernicus preferred a donor who was strong and stood their own, not one who cowered before him.

"Excuse me for being in pain." Tsubomi shot before she was pulled into a tight embrace. Her master hooked his arms beneath hers and played with a tendril of her hair, winding it around his fingers in his usual fashion. She placed a hand on the back of his head in return. They gazed into each other's eyes for a moment.

"I can't stay made at you."

"I hope not, I've had my ass kicked enough. Trust me, I can't be any lower." Tsubomi sighed to herself.

"I'll try to take less anger out on you. I was just worried." Often times, that anger that he projected was pain or sorrow. He tried not to do that to his donor, but that time he was just so freaked out and worried that he let his emotions run wild and lost his composure.

"You can't keep me untouched forever." That had a double meaning, none of which were perverted.

"You should let me protect you."

"You know what I said earlier?" Tsubomi asked.

"You're not my bitch page boy?" He smiled.

"Yeah…I'm not your princess either." She frowned and leveled him with a look.

"You certainly don't like to be claimed."

"That's not it…I really…" She trailed off.

"I want to claim you." The words were almost sensual as they rolled off of his lips with fluidity.

"Hey, I know that I didn't make a big difference but I want you to trust in my abilities. I'll trust you more if you don't think I'm so frail." She was being serious this time. Tsubomi didn't have time for his bullshit sexual remarks.

"Live up to it and I'll be angry a lot less." He replied simply. To be his equal, she must get to his level to giant hate type of respect.

"I'll belong to you if you do two things." She held up two fingers and leveled him with a serious expression.

"What?" This would be interesting.

"Tell me more things, so that I can help you and…" Tsubomi leaned to the side of his head, whispering the words tenderly in his ear. "Treat me gently…I want to know what it feels like to be loved…"

"Be patient with me and I can definitely-" His low words were cut off by a sharp knock at the door. Dark blue eyes darted over to Millie, who was standing there in a daze with blush painted on her face and her hands clasped together. He could have sworn that he was hearts in her eyes as she reveled in complete bliss from their little 'moment'. "Damn. What timing."

"Let Millie get it." Copernicus could feel Tsubomi's breath against his face.

Grasping a nearby fork, he chunked it at the girl. The metal object bounced off of her head.

"Get the door. I'm busy."

"Ow! Do I look like a maid?" Millie complained as she rubbed her head in pain and irritation. That really hurt for such a little piece of cutlery. It even left a red mark on her temple.

"Am I changing your rent?" The vampire asked slyly.

"That speaks multitudes. Heh, heh…" Millie nervously laughed before she dashed to the front door and opened it, revealing a girl, who looked to be no older than sixteen or seventeen. She had shoulder-length, bright blue hair and matching eyes. Long, blue spirals were held back with a fuchsia bow. Her Lolita dress was a bright pink with black lace, black panty hose and shiny black heels. She was very charming, with round eyes, framed in dark lashes, pink lipstick and creamy skin, free of impurities.

The petite girl blinked at her in confusion. "Who are you?" Her voice was very feminine and sort of edgy.

"Uh, likewise," Millie had never even seen this girl before. Did Copernicus know her? Maybe she was friends with Tsubomi? Nah, she seemed more the vampire's type of acquaintance.

"Coscatta?" Yep, he definitely knew who she was. Glancing away from his donor, he instantly recognized that uppity voice. There was no mistaking her.

"Copernicus!" The girl darted through the door, nearly running over Millie as she flung herself forward, lunging into the brunette's arms as Tsubomi stared blankly at the both of them. Her pain was immense and she was only half in this world to begin with, but this confusion was enough to push her senses to their limits.

"Who the hell?" Her voice was disjointed from reality.

"Coscatta?" Millie instantly knew what was going on now. Copernicus has some explaining to do.

"How do you know me? Are you some sort of stalker? Who are these people?" The blue-haired girl was full of questions, and rude ones at that. She was certainly possessive of Copernicus.

"Who's Coscatta?" Tsubomi inquired.

"Coscatta is Copernicus' other donor." It wasn't like she meant to keep it from Tsubomi. She honestly thought that she knew about the vampire's other donors.

"Other? You mean you have another one? That's why you left me behind?" Coscatta questioned as she glanced over to the tom boy, casting her a judgmental eye. "Um…are you sure he's your donor? I mean, he looks anemic and he's really kind of scrawny." The blue-haired girl walked up to Tsubomi, who arched an eye brow and frowned in disapproval. "What's your name? I'm Coscatta Boucellini."

"Boucellini…" Thinking back on it, she remembered that name. "Are you related to Virgil Boucellini?"

"I'm his sister. I assume Copernicus told you." The girl placed a hand on her chest as she proudly stated her status. She was very proud of her status and lineage. Maybe there were a few things that she could teacher her about Copernicus.

"I'm Sakurazawa Tsubomi by the way. Sorry I look like hell." Compared to this pristine beauty, she might as well have been some homeless, scraggly bum off of the street. It was embarrassing, really.

"He's depressed and hurt." Millie explained, much to Tsubomi's dismay. "He…um…Well, I'm not sure how well of a topic that is without sounding weird so never mind, just know that he's hurt really bad." Yeah, explaining to some stranger that your friend shot himself was not the best of plans.

"Yes, I was about to take him to bed." Copernicus explained.

"Aren't you supposed to be in hiding?" The school girl asked the guest. She was pretty sure that Coscatta was not supposed to leave if her master did not want her to. Didn't donors move according to their master's will, or maybe she had it wrong? This donor thing was very confusing to her.

"I snuck over here without being seen. I missed my master." Coscatta said with adoration as she wrapped her arms around the taller man's waist, hugging him close.

"I missed you as well, Coscatta." Copernicus turned his gaze to the girl as they shared a passionate kiss.

Tsubomi glanced down with heavy eyes. She could not tell if it was from sorrow or simply because she was anemic and tired. It was things like that which made her realize that the relationship she had with Copernicus was a standard one. When it all came down to it, she and Coscatta were on the same level. They both served the same purpose, and she was a damned fool to think that she could ever be anything more than that. 'If you have any mercy on a liar like me, please just let me pass out.'

Millie was shocked at the kiss. While she was distracted, Tsubomi pulled her neck tie tight, cutting off her air supply. Anything was better than this, and the guilt upon her shoulders was unbearable. 'Just let me suffocate. I'm tired of hurting. I'm so stupid. I thought he liked me and he treats all of his donors that way. What made me think that I could ever compare to him?' She pulled tighter and her body instinctively convulsed from the lack of air. Slowly, her vision faded to black as her body hit the floor. The last thing she saw was Copernicus shouting her name as he pushed away from Coscatta's kiss.

…To Be Continued

Dark Flower Romance: Prologue
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Title: Dark Flower Romance

Author: Revamp/Melissa Norvell

Genre: Romance/Angst

Rating: PG/T (I don't plan on going any higher than that. I want to keep this one pretty tame.)

Pairings: Hetero

Warnings: Some bits of language, some violence, dark themes

Summary: Given as a sacrifice to make peace among lion prides, Zahra finds herself face to face with rebel lion Tajara. Can she melt his icy heart or are their paths doomed in a fatal collision? Review and reviews will be returned.

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Dark Flower Romance

Created: 11/21/08

Final Story Written: 12/28/12

Prologue

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There is a legend that goes around in our pride, that there was once a great lion named Tajara. He was very different from us, and his fur was white as snow. Abandon as a cub, my grandmother Shefalika took him in and raised him as one of her own, even though he was a white Barbary Lion and our clans were nothing but Asiatics.

Tajara became as fierce as he was large. He even managed to perform the near impossible task of escaping the royal Indian hunters who often came after us for sport. However, his escape was not without a price. The might white lion lost his right eye to their spear, his wound scarred over and it made him even more identifiable than he was prior.

After that incident, Tajara became distant and cold, earning him the nickname thand among the other lions, which meant 'cold' in Hindi. Year after year, he grew colder and more estranged. In the eyes of his fellows, he lost his sense of pride and just doing. The white lion was now looked upon as a formidable enemy that made the hair on any lion's back stand straight up at the mention of his very name.

One day, he performed an act so unspeakable that it violated any definition of humanity that could be thought possible. For an unknown reason, he disturbed the way of life for the surrounding lions of the Gir Forest by slaying the three members of his own pride that consisted of a dominant leader, called Bhim and his two lionesses, Hafiza and Shefalika, the very lioness who raised him. That lioness was my grandmother.

Since that moment, he had vanished to a location far beyond a field of Bat Lilies. He occasionally comes back to Gir Forest when the Bat Lilies bloom. For the couple of days that the flowers are in bloom, he visits the Asiatic prides and after he leaves, death and terror are left behind.

Very few have met him and lived to tell about it. I may very well have been the first.

…To Be Continued

Capricious Infection: Act 8: Secret Admirer
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Capricious Infection

Act 8: Secret Admirer

By: Melissa Norvell

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"My next move is what brings us here." The Dius explained, holding out an arm as the colors are drained from their backdrop and it merely resembled a sepia toned landscape, frozen in time. There was a slight green tint to it that was even noticeable through David's shades. Everything was dead silent. No one could hear anything, not the wind rustling through the trees nor did they hear the slightest chirp of any bird. For once, he truly felt as if it was just the two of them. "This will be where you learn to control your powers. I have opened up a parallel universe here so nothing you do can affect your current setting. Destroy as much as you like here."

The planet was an unstable place that did not need strange time occurrences to combat its further unrest. If David's time powers ran rampant, they would do so in a contained area that would not deal irreversible damage to the earth as it was. Oz could not deal with his own pupil to be dooming his own paradox.

That would just be reckless.

"So wait, are we just going to wing it?" Tony questioned as he glanced to the two with a quizzical expression. He didn't quite get what was going on, and no one was making it any easier on him, either.

Oz turned to him. "I'll be here to teach you how to better command your weapons. Consider me your personal trainer." Whether they liked it or not, they had to contend with him in one form or another. Hopefully this would not become an epic failure. He longed to see if this bunch of kids could be what he had envisioned. As long as they passed the test, he would be confident that he made the right choices.

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Lannad walked around outside of the school building, stepping over piles of rubble and debris as she held the black feathers in front of her face in contemplation. 'Could he truly be here? This whole situation has a lot of loop holes. We're supposed to stop the Messiah from awakening Chaos. However, the school was destroyed and everyone was killed. Chaos would be needed to do that. Does that mean that Chaos is already awake?'

Was that why it was so important that they master the skills of their respected weapons? Was that why Oz gave them these jobs and special abilities? That Dius had to know something, much more than he would dare admit to any of them. Her eyes narrowed, looking as if their piercing blue gaze would bore a hole directly through the feathers in her grasp as her features hardened.

"Hurry up, Lannad! We have to get to your shrine. The more time that goes by, the more people die." Mae reminded her that time equaled a death toll right now. It was crucial that they not waste time with idle thoughts.

"Mm!" The blue-haired girl nodded, looking up from her feathers as she picked up her pace and ran after her two friends, headed for her the shrine where Chaos was held.

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Rezzi stood there, having absorbed all of the information that the winged man told her. Tarvos had informed her of the things that he held knowledge of, as well as his motive and function during this course of their mission. It all made sense, when she thought about it. Nothing was a coincidence: the fact that they were spared from the high school murder, the fact that Tarvos met her, the contact with capriciouscarnage, and her part in the game itself. Nothing was coincidence, it was sheer inevitability.

"I understand now. I think I know why we were chosen for the job by Oz." She spoke upon hearing his explanation.

"Yes, it's part of the reason that I'm here. Just know that you can't speak a word of this to the others." Tarvos warned, and if anything got out he would come after her. That was a promise and not a mere idle threat. Tarvos has a way of enforcing what he said, no matter who it was on the receiving end.

"I'm aware of that. After all, I'm the blind prophet. The things I envision, I cannot tell or someone might try to keep it from happening." Things applied for both sides of the story. It wasn't just that he would be found out; it was that someone may try and stop their plans from bearing fruit. Such a thing was crucial in their mission on this dying world. There was no cause for errors, no matter what magnitude they were at. "You, Tarvos, will help my visions become truths in this world."

"If you can handle the consequences of your position, then I'll help you out. You know the sacrifice." The demon leveled her with a serious expression. If she accepted the terms and realized her fate, then she was already half way there.

Rezzi frowned and her gaze hit the ground. The girl's voice was low and serious. "I am aware of that. I know it won't be easy. We're talking about high stakes and lives."

A smile crept to his black and white skin. "I think, out of everyone where, you might just know your job the most."

The blind girl turned her head back to him. "I have you to thank for that. You managed to fill me in on a lot of things, being who you are. You know, they'll figure you out soon."

"They'll come to know me shortly. There are still moves to be made until the first act is complete." His words were ominous, but now that the blind girl knew the reasoning behind them, she understood what must be done. This was for the greater good of the planet, so she would act accordingly.

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Mae slowly slid open one of the massive, red shojo doors of the small shrine. It was eerily quiet, as if no one was there. The blonde slowly stuck her head through the small opening that she made and glanced around in the darkness. A hello in the form of a question rolled from her pink lips as blue eyes scanned the area and she cautiously stepped into the barren room. "Aparo, Sumugi, Koiza?"

Ringo stepped in behind her, standing a person's length away with his hands stuck in his pockets. He peered through the dimly lit room. "It's dead quiet in here." Soon after, Lannad stepped into the room with a bothered expression riddled onto her face.

"Do you think they're gone?" The blonde glanced back to her two partners.

"They never leave. Even if they do, it's one at a time. Someone is always at the shrine. I feel like something bad has already happened." Whether it was Chaos or not was a whole different story, but there was something unsettling about the shrine. Lannad could feel it down to the very marrow in her bones.

"We should look through all of the room and see what we find." Mae instructed. If someone was somewhere in the shrine alive, then they would at least be able to get some sort of answer as to why this place was so mysteriously silent.

"Right, I'll take the left and you go right." Ringo coached as he pointed to their respected directions.

"Got it."

"I'll look outside." Lannad offered another option. Maybe they were jumping to conclusions and the priestesses were just outside. It was doubtful, but there was always that small possibility. The young priestess headed out back, into the garden that grew herbs behind the shrine. It was also quiet, showing no sign of life. Not even a single bird flew by that spot. "Aparo! Sumugi! Koiza!" She called out to them, putting a hand to her mouth in order to amplify the sound.

She continued to search through the bushes that lay outside of the garden, and then she walked down a small, white, stone path. Along the path, a few feet away from her lay the body of a woman with the same cotton candy blue hair as she had. The body didn't move.

"Koiza!" Lannad screamed and quickly ran to the fallen woman's side. Upon further examination, a long, vertical cut was made down her back. Lannad fell to her knees, shaking the priestess, in hopes that she passed out from blood loss. "Koiza! Koiza! Koiza!" Her voice became more and more desperate for a response with each repetition. Tears clung to her innocent eyes as she was only responded to with silence.

It was then that she realized the horrible truth. "She's dead, too."

Ringo opened another sliding door to a side room. His eyes went wide with horror and fear, and an overpowering smell nearly caused him to puke. Gagging, he quickly covered his mouth. The room was covered in blood; there was not an inch of it that was not splattered in some form or fashion. Quickly shutting the door, he saw what were remains of decimated bodies. Whatever happened here put the carnage of what happened in the school to shame. 'My god! That didn't even look like a person.'

He had to tell the others.

Lannad managed to make her way to a river that flowed gently behind the shrine. Sometimes, the priestesses went there to meditate or collect water for ceremonies and to prepare tea. Maybe someone was here. She could only hold a small glimmer of hope that they were. As she strolled by the running waters, examining the surrounding area for a body, she noticed what looked like a purple ribbon floating by. Running ahead, she got to her knees and reached out, snagging the wet piece of fabric. "This is Aparo's." She said to herself as a mass of black floated by. She reached out and grabbed it, pulling the owner of the ribbon's severed head out of the water.

Her eyes widened as they stared down the glazed over eyes of the priestess, and she let out an ear piercing scream.

Mae rose up from looking under a kotatsu, her ears picked up the faintest of noises. "Lannad!" She shouted and darted out of the shrine, crashing into Ringo. They both stumbled back. "Did you head that?"

"Lannad screamed. She said she was going outside." His voice was frantic, and he could only think the worst. Ringo dreaded the thought of his friend running into the Messiah or Chaos.

Mae pulled her sword out of its sheath, which was attached to her back. The girl wore an angry expression, filled with fire and determination. "I'm going to cut a bitch if she's dead! Good thing I took fencing." She quickly ran towards the river, followed by her boyfriend.

This was too much for her to take. First, she had to watch her classmates get killed and now the priestesses she had known all of her life had been slain as well. Tears streamed down her face as she set the head of the once admired priestess in the grass. 'Everyone's dead here. They have the same wounds as my school mates…I wonder if they're from the war scythe? But why? Why would the Grand High Messiah do this? Is it to take revenge for what Londa did to Chaos? If that's true then…' Her thoughts cut off and her eyes widened as the realization hit her. "I could be next."

The words poured from her lips as Mae and Ringo stumbled awkwardly through the bushes. Ringo called out her name and Mae darted to her side, asking if she was okay before she saw the severed head and screamed, propelling herself backwards with so much force that she nearly fell.

"That's tame compared to what I saw." Ringo replied as he walked up and saw the head, lying at Lannad's knees.

The girl rose, her crestfallen gaze concentrated on the head's expression. "I'm alright…but everyone here is dead."

"I'll say. I found what was left of a body in one of the rooms. I'm not sure we could bury it if we tried." Ringo's voice lowered as he turned around, pulling the brim of his hat over his eyes with a deep-set frown.

"Everyone here has been killed…just like my classmates." The young girl's voice was filled with solemn dread.

"What's this Grand High Messiah's aim? Why does he want to destroy the world so badly? Can't he just go and kill somewhere else?" Mae sighed as the tip of her sword dug into the ground.

"He's the grim reaper though, isn't he?" Ringo turned back towards the two girls.

"Yes…He only kills what is supposed to die." Lannad confirmed.

"That's ridiculous!" Mae shot. "How can it possibly be that many people's turn to die?"

"Lots of people die at the same time, but that's usually a case of disease, famine or war." Her boyfriend deducted.

"Now we'll never know the whereabouts of Chaos." Mae sighed. This was all for nothing. Who even knew if Chaos was free or still bound by whatever spell that Londa cast on him?

"Aparo was the only one who knew Chaos' true location." Lannad glanced to her opened hand, which held the lavender ribbon. "Now we won't ever know."

"This is bad. We have no leads." Ringo's frown only deepened more upon hearing the bad news.

"No one else can even look for Chaos. They don't know about this. I only told both of you." No doubt the others were all training for their future battle with the Grand High Messiah. The trio of people beside the river was the only beings knowledgeable that there was a Chaos involved in the grand scheme of things.

"We should go back and explain things. They need to know." Ringo was right. The more people they had involved, the better the search would go. Maybe one of them knew something, anything that was a small lead would be a great help to their cause.

"Let's hurry." Lannad clenched the ribbon in her hand as the three headed back to the position that Oz and the others had been in.

XxXxXxXx

The hills were green, with rolling, deep green grass. Rezzi stood beneath a single tree that was atop of the hill, the massive piece of foliage spilled a shadow over most of the hill and it's wide-spread branched provided a sense of sanctity for the blind girl who rested her hands on the tip of the handle of her weapon that resembled a wood splitter. The wind blew her long, black hair. A few strands of it obstructed what little vision she had left and tickled her ivory skin, so she moved it behind her ear. 'Is it right to be so calm while everyone else is working away? Is it strange that I just accept this as fate? That I know what's going to happen?' She picked the Dimension Splitter up by the handle, laying the flat end of the blade on her hand. 'I know my moves. I know them way too well. I just feel like I'm not prepared. When is someone ever prepared for the end? I guess that I've slacked off.'

Her phone beeped.

"Who's texting me at this time of day?" She wondered aloud as she plugged her ear phones into her cell and flipped it open.

You've been slacking off, you blind asshole.

She arched an eyebrow. "Who is this?" The girl didn't have time to answer the text before the phone rang. The tune of Fur Elise started to play as she took her ear phones off, unplugged them and answered the phone. "Hello, this is Rezzi speaking."

A gruff, sarcastic and condescending voice crept over the speaker. "What in the everfuck are you doing? Stop being a tremendous waste of space. Move your feet, you dumb bitch."

"How can I do that?" She asked.

"Are you listening to that dumbfuck again? I told you our prime motive. You established alliance with me first." The voice continued their onslaught of insults.

"Why are you so protective over that? Do you consider me your stratos?" After all, wasn't that how human lovers acted? This guy was really being an insecure asshole.

"Cease your senseless perversion!" The male on the other line demanded. "I never claimed to feel romantic feelings for you. I'm simply trying to keep you on the straight and narrow." Honestly, why would she even dare to say such a thing! The last thing he needed was for her to take things the wrong way.

Rezzi frowned. "I question that to a degree."

"Your claim is denied. Stop being a fucktard."

"Alright then, what's my next move? You want me to make one. Do I go and use my powers-"

"No! Fuck you! You already know what'll happen if you do." He warned. Didn't this girl know anything? Did she fall off of the stupid train into retardville or what? Sometimes, he really questioned the intelligence of some of the people who happened to fall into the possession of the weapons and their powers.

"I don't understand why I even have this power. It makes little logical sense." Rezzi sat down and cast her blurry gaze to the weapon that lay right beside of her.

"Shut up. You'll need this power. I personally chose this weapon for you and you will use it." The mysterious male further demanded.

"I can't even train with it."

"Sure you can. You can split skulls and bash heads. You can also ram it through bodies." There were plenty of things that it could be used for if she cared to find them. Her biggest issue was that she didn't even try. While everyone else was exploring their weapons, she was sitting off under some tree somewhere admiring the view. How lazy could someone possibly get?

Rezzi shrugged. "Gore isn't my thing. I can't see that well to know if I caused damage. This weapon seems unfit for me. You should give it to Dante." It seemed like something that he would like swinging around. This weapon's power was a burden to her, not to mention she had to be very careful in tackling any kind of magical attack. The girl felt as if the weapon outmatched her skill.

"Fuck you. Dante has a weapon. This is yours. Live with the hand you were dealt and stop bitching." He proceeded to explain to the girl the reasons for choosing this weapon for her. "As fellow Libra we govern the very air itself. Our sense of justice reigns supreme. It's a big fucking responsibility to have that weapon. Stop acting as if it is nothing. In the end, you'll be swinging the blow of final judgment. Besides, you have lesser powers within it. You can train with it. Depending on what you do, it may or may not cause significant damage to your world."

"I don't get why my weapon has to harbor such stipulations." She frowned. This was troublesome. It seemed more like a weapon that belonged in the hands of a master than in a novice like her. It was like playing Russian roulette. If she used too much power, then she could end her own world. If she used too little, then her attack would be ineffective and in battle she could die or get wounded as a result.

"Don't ask stupid questions. We've known each other for years." Rezzi was not stupid. He knew this more than anyone. If he had doubts that she could not handle a weapon of that magnitude than he would not have entrusted her with its care. Not to mention, it had a special purpose besides being a wrecker of dimensions.

"I haven't said anything about it. I just call you by your username. I actually don't even know your real name, even after all these years." It was a sad fact in itself but she was always happy just talking to him. Inquiring on his identity would be something that he gave up willingly, or at least she thought that he would when the time got right.

"At this point, you don't need to." Besides, he liked hiding behind his anonymity at least for now.

"capriciouscarnage?"

"What is it this time?" He could have worn that she had a new question every minute. It was honestly annoying.

Rezzi's voice softened and became melancholy. "Will I ever see you before I go completely blind?"

With a slightly 'tch' in response, capriciouscarnage sighed. His voice broke its barrier of assholiness for a moment to let in a semblance of emotion. "Come on, that's so heartwarming of a question that you nearly made me throw up in my mouth." He muttered.

"I don't mean to be sentimental. I would just like to see you before my eyesight gives out. Even if it's just a blur." She was doing it again. Even if she didn't mean to, that sentence was about as sentimental as it came. However, Rezzi couldn't take it back and wouldn't even if she wanted to.

"You're throwing those gross metaphorical human hearts at me. Stop it, it's fucking embarrassing." No, it honestly was. He was blushing over his communication device. Thank whatever higher powers there were that no one could see his face. It looked like a damned colored balloon.

Rezzi sighed. So much for anything syrupy in return.

"You'll get to see me. Stop it with your fickle emotions. Get off of my ass." It's not as if it were easy to be in his position. This human girl would simply have to deal with whatever fondness she felt for him. It was not exactly returned anyway. It wasn't as though he didn't want to, but his circumstances would not permit him to grow close to anyone for the time being. That was also something she had to understand.

"You can be nice when you're not trying to be a hard ass." She reasoned. If he was just an asshole with no real feelings, then their relationship would not have lasted throughout the years. As harsh as he was, Rezzi knew that it was just tough love and social awkwardness.

"My ass is eternally hard. Do you hear me? No part of my posterior is soft in any way." He shot back. As if he was something mushy on the inside. Fuck that, it was not who he was in the slightest.

"I guess we won't talk after this for a while." Rezzi went back to her calm tone with underlying sadness.

"It's not like it's the end of the world-"He cut himself off. "That was too soon. Entirely too soon. I'm a shit-faced, muck slinger for that ill-classed joke."

"Thank you…capriciouscarnage."

"Rezzi…Well…You see…" Okay, enough jokes, it was time to attempt to make a serious confession. He did consider her a friend, a best human friend.

"I hope you're right." Considering their situation at the moment, there was room for a large chunk of doubt. They could very well be slain by the Grand High Messiah before they ever saw each other again.

"I just hope you fucking live."

"I'll give you gross human hearts on my down time." She smiled as she teased him.

"…and I shall send you middle fingers."

"I'm the one who taught you what those meant."

"…and I shall use it against you."

"You're so classy."

"My class knows no bounds. I have to get you back for showing me your human pornography." Those were images he would never be able to free his mind from, no matter how hard he tried to purge the images from his thoughts. He didn't want to know how human reproduced. Damn this bitch and her conniving ways.

"I take it that's not how you procreate?" She questioned. While she was knowledgeable that they reproduced in different ways, Rezzi was unsure of how exactly the Dius reproduced. Tarvos had not told her about their methods of mating. Part of her was curious to know.

"I am not discussing this with you." No, no, no absolutely not. This topic was awkward and uncomfortable on so many levels that it was ridiculous to absorb.

"You shouldn't have shown me that…whatever it was giving birth and I wouldn't have shown you my porn." It was an eye for an eye and a video clip for a video clip. What he showed her was disgusting and horribly grotesque. Porn was the softest way to pay him back for such a thing. He was the one who started that video war with her on one of their late night excursions anyway.

capriciouscarnage deserved what he got.

"Do humans…really do it like that?" Now he was just wondering if she was trying to cop him out or not.

"Are you interested in finding out?" Rezzi teased him further before he hung up in her face and refused to dignify her with an answer. Black lips curved into a smile. "You're so shy about this."

Her phone beeped again.

"Oh god. What now?" She opened her phone and squinted to see that she had a text from him. Opening the text, she discovered that it was a multimedia message. Rezzi downloaded the photo and squinted to see the outline of what looked like one of capriciouscarnage's many pictures of a middle finger.

No two were ever alike.

"I swear. I don't get men. Alien men are twice as hard to decipher. I should just become lesbian. I'd get far less middle fingers." The girl sighed to herself as she closed the phone.

From over her shoulder, she heard a familiar, feminine voice in her ear. "What'cha doing?"

The girl jumped and brought her hand back, catching herself a moment later upon realizing who it was. "I almost backhanded you." She warned. Mae should know better than to scare her like that. It was going to actually get her smacked one of these days.

"Was that your boyfriend?" The blonde teased.

"If you think my boyfriend is a middle finger." Rezzi replied sarcastically.

"Why does he always send you stuff like that?" He's such an asshole." The girl huffed. At the very least, he could treat her like a lady and not one of the guys. That was so rude.

"He's just mad because I sent him fetish porn." It was a good thing that she could not see clearly what she sent. However, it made the justice dealt that much sweeter.

"Oh god!" Mae exclaimed. Never mind. Maybe she didn't want to know anything else.

"Rezzi, can we talk? I mean…after you get done talking to your boyfriend." Lannad spoke up, reminding the blond of their real purpose in coming back to the blind girl.

The black-haired teen frowned. "He's not my boyfriend. Stop letting Mae's shipping habits consume your mind."

"He's a…secret admirer." Her friend wriggled her eyebrows and looked at her suggestively.

"Stop it. He is not."

"We're supposed to be paying attention to the situation at hand." Ringo decided to get the girls back on track. Now wasn't the time to debate on Rezzi's love status with anyone. They had some important news to deliver, and small talk was not an option.

"What's up? You look like someone died." At least his blurry expression was grave.

Lannad stepped up to her with a dire expression on her face. The girl's eyes were brimmed with tears upon delivering the bad news. "All of the priestesses at my shrine have been killed."

…To Be Continued

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