Archive for September, 2014

5.23

I’m vaguely aware that I fell asleep. It was the soft, dreary nagging, like whether to believe if you turned off the oven before leaving the house, even though you’re sure that you did. Just like I know that I’m not awake.

But this feeling is unknown to me in my drifting state. Where ever I am, this isn’t of my own making. No. The sky is too blue, crystal blue, without a cloud marring it’s sapphire perfection. And the sun is a warm, light silhouette on my skin, and in the blades of grass. Blue flowers peak up from beneath the vibrant green, still partially wet with the morning dew. I can see for miles from atop this hill. It’s peaceful in every direction.

A castle sits far in the valley below, with a soft gurgle of a stream somewhere close. Even the birds are chirping. Wherever I am, this place is not mine. Not by a long shot.

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“You really got to stop dying.” A voice mumbles softly, somewhere. I can’t place the voice, but the accent must exist somewhere as beautiful as this, as foreign and distant. I turn my head slowly, the muscles in my body are weak, as if in some type of deep slumber. “One of these days, the cracks that you keep slipping through, so effortlessly will be sealed.”

His image is blurry, and wavers in the grass beside me. But the presence weighs on each leaf beneath him. The mans skin is pale, in contrast to his splash of black hair, which even in his flickering is messily cut. And when he looks at me, I feel my soul tug inside my body, settling in this world of his. His deep blue eyes, almost coal black with feather like lashes stare at me with sudden urgency that I’m not sure hasn’t been there all along.

“Who are you?” I manage to mumble, struggling to get my body to cooperate. Obviously we don’t belong here, in a place so beautiful, and quiet, and alive.

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“A friend.” His red lips look as though they curve into a brief smile. But out of the quiet peace, his tone changes, and I notice how the words crumbles slightly with the force. “It’s no doubt that you’re getting stronger, since you can hear me now, but I wonder, how many blocks they’ve put in your mind to prevent me from seeking you out. It’s taking all of my strength just to put these few words in your head, so you must listen.”

It takes all of my strength to nod, to show some response to his urgency. The grass wilts, not as much to turn any form of faded mustard, but to dry the softness from its touch. And a line cloud drifts into the sky above. “The boy, the human, you must protect him, I fear for humanity in the age in which your cure is lost. If there is but one action that you must prevent-“

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Blood drips from his ears and nose, and his voice cuts out as if a recorder. The blue in his eyes is quickly fading to dying embers. “His death- You’re fates are already entwined, surely you must feel his pull already- She’s coming-” The man’s image trembles violently falling to his knees, but he manages a devilish smirk in his fading. “-I do hope that the next time we speak, you’re still in this world.”

*

And then I’m awake, as though I were never asleep. My nails have clawed a hole in my sheet from the force of my grip, and a sweat covers my body. I tremble, diving for a notebook I had left at my bedside for dreams like this, and start scribbling every little detail down. From the sun in the sky, to the coal blue eyes of his.

He spoke the way vampires do, the old ones, who even when they learn the current speech patterns can’t shake that air of formality, and age from their voice. The guy wasn’t a vampire though. I don’t know how I’d know for sure, but I felt it deep in my gut, the same way I knew he was old, and strong. He’d created that Dreamscape, the same way he’d summoned me there, and bled trying to send me a message.

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Which was? Don’t let the human die. Don’t let the cure die with him. I repress the urge to shudder, whoever it was knew about me, and they knew about Cassiel. Our fates are entwined? I shudder this time, cringing into my myself. Did I feel his pull already? Like he was the fucking sun.

I’m pulling on boots before I can register the action. If there was one thing I had to prevent it was Cas’ death. He knew Cas was going to die, he had seen the same vision as I had. Except he had seen the aftermath. I stomp across the empty pavement, and press the elevator button impatiently. I didn’t care about she, I cared about him. And if some ultra powerful necromancer/angel thingie believed there was even the tiniest chance to save him, them, my grandfather included, then I’d fight for that tiny one percent.

I knock loudly, and sporadically at his door. And a brief moment of panic shoots through my core, until I hear movement inside the apartment. A few minutes later, he pulls the door open, rubbing his face tiredly as though I’d awoken him from a rare slumber. His eyes open briefly, a hint of recognition touches his features.

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And then I pull him into me, starting with that hand covering his handsome face. And my lips hungrily devour his. I can feel his hesitation under my touch, and in panic. Knowing I could save him, wasn’t the same as him still wanting me. But even knowing that possibility, I just need his warmth for a moment longer.

“Larka..?” His voice is soft, and confused, but mostly exhausted. I cant read his face close enough to tell if he’s angry that I’ve kissed him, or that I’ve woken him up, or that he’s just processing my sudden attack. “What… I don’t understand. Why are you here?” I’m asking myself the same question. A moment of weakness, or sudden clarity, I’m not even sure which. If not both. “Not that I didn’t enjoy…” He pauses again, closing his eyes for a few seconds before looking at me as if he’s seeing clearly finally.

“Mostly apologising.” I say suddenly. I mean that wasn’t technically a lie since I did have a lot to say sorry for. “And to say that I actually kinda of miss this, and… I guess kinda you.” I blush when I catch his amber eyes blazing with confusion. I can read that clearly enough.

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“And this whole reveal I guess couldn’t of actually kinda waited until morning?” Cas grins, shaking his head, but not inching away from the door to let me inside. If I had of strung my words together more poetically I might of been a little hurt. The adrenaline, and motivation from the dream is quickly wearing thin.

“Then I can try again in the morning.” I raise an eyebrow suggestively at him.

“What do you take me for? I’m not that type of boy.” I can hear the gentle mocking in his voice, but the outright rejection of the words. My face tightens and he notices it with a soft grin. He places his warm hand on my head, and pushes me head down gently til it touches my chest. “You can’t just click your fingers and have me come running to you.” My eyes glare, watch me try. “Larka, you’re never here, and when you are, you dart off again as soon as you appear. It’s tiring watching you continually run away from me.”

“Run away from you?” I grit my teeth, forcing all the emotions I’d had in the last hour to the depths of my mind.

“I’m a big boy, I can handle it, whatever it is.” This time, Cas sounds like he’s forcing the words out in a calm way, but i can hear the question in it. “If there’s another guy, or yo-“

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“Another guy? Cas, shut up.” My voice is harsh, but I shake my head softly, my eyes losing the anger in them. I had left a lot, avoided him, stood him up, but at least eighty percent of the time I did have a good reason. The other twenty percent I couldn’t explain to him, and I hoped I would never have to. “There’s no one else I’m seeing, or running off too. Besides, it’s not like we’re even dating.”

His eyes light up as if to say bingo, and I cringe inwardly. This wasn’t going the way I wanted it to. I was going to kiss him, and we were going to go inside, and then tomorrow, I’d have a way to save him. That was bingo. Not “I-don’t-think-you-should-come-inside-unless-we’re-dating.” Who cares if I’d avoided him a few times, I was here now, that was what was important.

“Cas…” I start slowly, my nostrils flaring slightly. But he doesn’t flinch, or back down, in fact my anger seems to make him even more resolute in this stupid idea. In the tens of thousands of words I knew, I couldn’t even string along a sentence that could even cover how dumb of an idea it was. “Usually it’s the girl who makes this stand, I’m offering everything any guy would jump-“

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“Then pick one of them.” I can’t read his face. Or his eyes. I can just feel that kiss on my lips, and the anger in my stomach bubbling. He was making a mess of this. Screwing it up royally. “But I won’t be a part of that. Thinking that I was gonna lose you, there’s nothing meaningless about that feeling. I need something, Lark. Anything.”

It’s here, Cas, standing right in front of you. I blink twice, ignoring the soft plea in his voice. I was here, I’d come against better judgement, on that tiny one percent that it was possible to save him. That he was worth saving. That was enough. I had come. I had thrown myself at him. And that wasn’t enough.

“Fine.” I partially yell at him. My voice still much more forceful than I needed it to be. “You want to know where I go? Then fine. Follow me.”

I don’t look to see if he follows me. I’m too pissed off to give him the satisfaction, but I can hear his noisy footsteps and it half annoys me more, and half calms me down. I couldn’t tell him I thought he was going to die, and hadn’t figured out how to save him, but I could expand the truth a little bit.

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The walk is awkward and frozen. As we walk into the cemetery I can sense his hesitation. Perhaps he thought I was a god damned alcoholic, or had some silent prayer that we were going to an orphanage or someplace cute and sweet and all together heart breaking. Crossing my arms, I stand slightly away from the graves with a dark scowl, still not looking his way.

But it’s embarrassing. I’m at a cemetery for dead soldiers. Soldiers who die everyday. And as a soldier we not only expect it, but we are taught to deal with it. I’ll tell you what this is, it’s pathetic. But it’s the only bone I have. It’s the only honest, sincere thing I have that has kept me away from him (that I can rationally explain).

“In Ravenwood…” His voice is slow, and hesitant as he pieces the silent story together. “These were the ones who…” I nod slowly. This is what you saved me from when you opened the door Cas, when you invited me inside. This is what I could have so easily become. “Everyday?” He asks, and I nod, hiding the blush by letting my white hair cling to my delicate frame.

He rips me from the silence, pulling me into an ironlike hold as he breathes in my scent. I’m still fighting the urge to kick him for asking for such a thing. But when I feel the beat of his heart against my own, I relax into his body. I felt his pull so entirely it made me lose balance tonight at the smallest hope that there was a chance. I didn’t go running to my grandfather, no, I came to Cas. I brought him here.

I’d have to kick myself when I got home.

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“What are their names?” He asks pulling away and sitting down between them, giving me a soft smile. I know he can read it on the stone, I know he knows that it should be what were there names.Past tense. But he ignores it all for me.

“Seth.” I respond quietly, motioning to the headstone. “Aiden.” He knew I was a necromancer, god, what if he thought they were my only friends? God, they are. He nods as if in approval, and leans in close to the faded stones, whispering under his breath. I don’t want to listen to his sincere farewells, or messages to the dead. I don’t want to be here at all. But that dream, that man, I’m more scared about what’ll happen to me if Cas becomes just another grave, more so than the rest of the world.

“It’s not your fault you know, just like when I lost my sister, it wasn’t my fault either.” Cas says it softly, his eyes focused on my own thoughtfully, as if drawing the similarities. He’d devoted himself to the cure, or final exorcism because of her. And I’d lost myself because of them. “Sometimes bad things happen, and sometimes we’re not there when we should be. Sometimes we don’t react fast enough, or don’t see the signs, but it doesn’t make it our fault. There are demons inside all of us, just waiting til they can either escape, or consume us all.”

With the moon on his skin, and the cold wind whipping his hair around his face, he could be something I could dream about. If my own angels and demons could give me the time. I think I would dream about him. When he opened the door, and was tired, and sleepy, natural. Human. Soft. Right now, when he’s full of remorse, and his own regret biting at his heals, but doesn’t give it the time of day.

“I don’t actually have to go on a date with you though, do I?” I ask breaking the spell.

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“Actually I quite like the idea, besides I’m a gentleman.” He pulls me down to him and onto his lap. His fingers trace along my ribs and gently squeeze my sides, as his lips softly touch my nose. I could think of a time when he wasn’t so much a gentleman. “I’d like to take you out. Have dinner, and make stupid jokes. Watch stupid movies, and hold your hand. There’s lots of things I’d like to do.”

Comfortable silence falls around us, and I brace my body into his to hide from the wind whipping our hair into a storm. For once, my mind is silent. It’s not racing with tiny possibilities, and ideas at surviving, or waking up from this nightmare. It’s utterly peaceful here, and I know, as much as I already hate it, Cassiel was the right decision tonight. Bringing him here, kissing him, it was exactly what I needed to do.

Tomorrow I could talk to my grandfather about my vision, and we could figure it out.
Tomorrow I could track down my stalker angel. Tomorrow I’d make Azazel spill his every secret.

There was hope now.
Tiny as it was.
I had hope.

Sweat drips down my back, and forms a thin sheath across my pale skin. I take a deep breath, ignoring the aching in my ears, and head, the blood beginning to trickle from my nose. My tired heart skips a beat as I sink down onto the floor, cutting my delicate upturned palm, and wiping the blood onto the floor.

5.22

The circle is wobbly, and hesitant, and the lines inside not nearly straight enough, but I pull away with a defiant stare. I begin to mumble under my breath, struggling to hold onto the words and their meanings. Exhaustedly, I wring the blood out, covering the surface of my hand, and lay a distinct print into the middle of the circle.

“Azazel.” I breathe out weakly, opening my eyes up to the flickering image inside. The coldness of its presence causes goosebumps to rise on my skin, and a chill to run down the length of my spine.

“You’re getting stronger.” His voice is distant. Not in miles, but empathy. A strange laugh touches my lips, as I slump down, breathing heavily against the force of the spell. I’d been home for three weeks, and was still healing the broken bones my dealings with the vampires had left me. Being human meant I healed slower, but the fringes between the two worlds was much weaker than before. Although, it hurt a lot more, or perhaps, my Lycan blood had been able to heal the damage as quickly as I was causing it.

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I peal my eyes open, watching the dead vampire with a sudden hesitation. Of course, if thought as far ahead as summoning him here, reading all the books, studying the spells, memorising the words. But what I planned to do with him now was beyond me. I had questions of course, a thousand and one questions I wanted to ask the old, and very much a ghost, Azazel.

I stand, keeping my gaze fixed on his calm, apathetic expression. Where to start? What to ask? Weakness was not something that I could show him, or hesitation, or ignorance. Azazel was old, like real old, millennium old, and then some. Calculating, possibly willfull, and he’d lived in the age of necromancers. Good ones. Ones that could have easily taken him down. It was a lot of pressure to say the lest.

“Azazel Dragomir-” I say slowly, letting his name roll off of my tongue, but all to quickly, he snorts, rolling his pale eyes to the back of his head. “I want you to tell me about Arkin, and the Corvinus-“

“No.” He states simply, blinking at me through boredom, and insolence.

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“No isn’t the answer I’m looking for.” I reply, focusing on keeping my voice contained, and his image clear, and strong. “When did take over as his handler…? Was it before or after the death of his mate..?” Silence. “Listen here, I ask the question, and you answer it.”

“Why, exactly?” Azazel asks, his voice smooth and calm. His accent sounded like a land from a different time. Old, even if he knew the modern phrases, and patterns, he still couldn’t shake that off. “You plan to kill Arkin, if, big if, then what? Kill the other pure bloods?  Because as of right now, the war is the only thing stopping the human eradication of you mutts. And your the only thing stopping theirs.”

“I only want Arkin.” I grit my teeth, watching his reaction carefully. When I had summoned him in the fight against his brother, I’d tied a piece of him to myself, and had seen glimpse into his life, and death. He’d died begging for them to spare Asmodeus. Even now, it was a factor.

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“Is Asmodeus not your enemy too? Is it not your job as a soldier, and as a necromancer, to kill him? As your enemy, I would think so.” His eyes cut into mine stubbornly as though he’d known my exact thoughts. I needed to kill Arkin, first and foremost. I had seen him, picked him out in my eternity as the one I needed to take down. Of course, Asmodeus was a threat, Jesus Christ of course he was, look at Appaloosa plains for proof. But it was different for Arkin. It was personal.

“He is.” I respond blankly, and once again, to the silence of the room. There had to be a way to make him speak, I walk weakly, bracing myself against the couch to scour the books again. Necromancers could control the dead, he was dead, and I was kind of, technically a necromancer. So in the realm of possibilities, it wasn’t a terrible one.

As I read, I asked him more questions, about his life, or maybe the history he had seen, hoping he would answer to something. To tell me anything, even if it was just the questions that nagged at my tired, all too mortal mind. And it would seem a real shame, if the only thing I learnt was what he looked like, and how resolute he was to prevent his brother’s death. Both of which I knew already.

The door knocks quietly, and I rush to get it as a distraction to my mounting frustrations. “Grandfather.” I say in a low tone of greeting, subtly brushing down the messy ends of my hair. Silently I wondered if my mother had sent him to check on me, or if he wanted to bring me another book, or tip.

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“Larka, I’m glad that you’re looking better.” He smiles solemnly, and I can feel the darkness looming over him. There were shadows under his eyes, and his crimson hair was an even greater mess than usual. His wolf stood at his side, but didn’t follow him inside. My grandfather’s gazes slowly drifts towards the bloodied mess on my floor which I hadn’t thought to cover. “Experimenting?” He raises a brow at me curiously.

I focus the image of Azazel into my mind, almost burn it into the folds of my brain, and softly touch the skin on his wrist, projecting the image to him. His body tenses under the image of his enemy, even though it’s a dead one, and one trapped in a circle of blood, my grandfathers fear rose to the surface. For a moment, I could see the images of torture, and beatings.

“Can I ask him something?” For perhaps the first time, my grandfathers voice shows it’s real age. It’s tired, and full of faded memories that tore at the hard lines in his face. His green eyes stared through azazels manifested form, but somehow, he knew exactly where to look.

I turn my gaze, following my grandfathers to Azazel. His eyes too were fixed on his old rival. Pale, and even in death full of power. His head cocked to the side, but if he was thinking, his face did not show any trace of movement, or thought. After the silence has grown almost unbearable. He finally waves his arm, motioning silently to speak.

“Ask away.” I reply to my grandfather, but even though he hears my words, he doesn’t see me. I’m shocked, Azazel wouldn’t grace me with a single answer, but to a man he’d tortured he would.

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“Why did you bring Raveena back to me, to that room?” My entire body tenses at the name of his mate. My grandmother. “There was hope in her. Even when there shouldn’t have been. And you condemned her to the sun.” His crimson hair drapes over his face as his stance crumples. His hand digs into the couch, fingers finding comfort in something hard, and real, and steady. “I would have been glad to die alone. For her. Her children.”

Slowly, and without thinking, my hand reaches out to him, softly touching his back. Of the few stories I had heard about her, and the few images I’d gleamed, she was beautiful, and powerful. And she didn’t deserve to die.

“Azazel.” My voice is low, and raspy, and my eyes cut like daggers. His smooth, flawless face was unchanging, and cold. “Speak. You said. You agreed.”

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“I thought that she could wake my brother from his suicidal path.” If his face was detached, his voice was even further so. There was no trace of anything human, or empathetic, no emotion evident in the aged tone. “Perhaps if he could of had her, then he might of given up the ridiculous  idea of rebellion. But how he despised you, child of two worlds. You were on her skin, in the curves of her skin, she reeked of his hatred.”

How could I tell him that? That she was bait to appease the very hungry pure blood. Just a distraction that he was willing to gift. I didn’t know my grandmother, but I felt her in my veins. The desperate need, and aching will to fight, and survive. She was nothing to them, only a pawn for their purposes. But she had been someone. She was someone. A real person.

“I told her to leave, in fact I begged it of her.” I feel the tug in my stomach of guilt, and remorse when his voice continues unexpectantly. “But she wouldn’t leave her mate, wouldn’t leave you, and i must confess, I hated her for it too. I had given her a chance to live, to see her children grow, to be, alive. I despised her for it, but she would have been glad to die for you too.”

“Well?” My grandfathers voice is almost a whisper. “Would he even answer?”

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“He said that he thought she would be enough to prevent Asmodeus from starting the war. But when he figured out that was not the case, he told her to leave.” So I was paraphrasing it. Telling him what he needed to hear. But he needed it, he needed it badly. I wondered how many years he’d spent going over it in his head, blaming himself, and the council, blaming everyone. I squeeze his hand softly. “She wouldn’t leave you, she loved you to much.”

“Is that what I told you? How strange, those don’t sound like my-“

“Okay.” Grandfathers voice is hollow as he straightens himself up. I can’t tell if the words mean anything to him now, or if it’s too late. He begins to walk, stopping in front of the boundary line as if he knew, and stared straight through.

Azazel bared his fangs, growling quietly, and threateningly. It was hard to believe I was the only one who could hear such a terrifying sound. The only one who could see the way that Azazel displayed himself, as regal and fatal as the king of the jungle. But if I could detect anything in the old vampires stance, and growl, it must’ve been anger. And his growl seemed to rumble deep within the shackles keeping his presence here.

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“I gave you thirty years, Aleksi.” Azazel’s voice was an odd mixture between inaudible growls and his cold, calm voice. I wasn’t sure what he was referring to, thirty years, when and for what purpose? “But the others will not be so kind, their time is up, and yours is running dangerously close to being over. And for what? What exactly did you accomplish?”

“Thirty years for what, Azazel?” I counted it in my throbbing head, doing the maths as fast as I could. How many years since the war had broken out, how many since he had died? How many in between? He wouldn’t speak, instead he let the allegation hang in the air, thickening the air in which I was breathing.

I turn my gaze to my grandfather, who’s face is placid – almost? He was thinking, but the anger, and grief was washed away, back to the cold place in his heart which would only thaw when he allowed himself to grieve. “For the first decades of the war, up until Azazel’s death, I wasn’t hunted and our men weren’t slaughtered by the hundreds. It was thirty years.”

“Are you close yet, I wonder.” Azazel’s voice had returned to the perfect smooth picture of apathy. “The humans won’t give you much more time.”

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“He wants to know about the cure.” I speak dumbly. Hiding my surprise, or barely. My head ached with each word he spoke, and I could pull apart the reasons for his speaking. Blood drips slowly from my nose, and it turn quickly to wipe it away. I stare back weakly, and he nods in front of his ghostly enemy. Perhaps he understood better than I. He must.

“We start trials in the month.” His voice is distracted, and rightly so. He’s not here anymore. “It’s not a one off shot, it’s more… Therapy. I.. I have to go.” In his mind, he probably already had. “Ulrick will call for you in the weeks ahead in my place.” And then he was gone. “That’s what I came to tell you.”

Walking out the door sluggishly, the black wolf following him silently. His steps didn’t even make a sound. I thought I heard my ghost captive muttering “Goodbye fenris,” to himself. And I swore the beasts ear dipped in response. I wanted to question it, to question everything, but I couldn’t.

I had tied myself to Azazel and his spirit, his memories. I might not have been able to see them, or understand them, but I could feel it in the depths of my stomach, making it drop further than it already had. Suddenly, the physical injuries didn’t seem so bad, because at least they were rational, feasible. The physical also heals, you can see it, feel it, not like this.

“You’re nothing at all like your mother.” He states rather blankly as I cradle myself into the couch.

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“You met her?” I ask, only partly interested. Even though he was the one making my nose bleed, and my head throb under his pressure, I couldn’t find it in myself to send his image away. I needed to hear someone talk, I needed someone to take me someplace else.

“She killed my progeny.” He replies without inflection. Vampires didn’t form what we mortals would consider stable, or normal relationships. Very few had friends, and even less understood the need. Three things were important to them, to the point of spilling blood. Their maker, progeny and their mate. Losing just one might drive one mad, and yet he didn’t seem at all phased. “She was a frightened rabbit the last time I spoke to her, locked in the darkness, enduring nothing but abuse from him. I sent her home.”

“You sent her to kill her father.” I reply weakly, on the verge of drifting off.

“Convenience. But I would have done it myself.” My mother had sobbed out pieces of the story before. She had been frightened then, and she was still frightened now. How could someone spend so many years afraid, and terrified?

He was right, we were nothing alike.
I was scared of nothing.

The door knocked loudly, and the dim lights from street lamps fluttered through my blinds. My head throb in response, and my eyes drifted over Azazel’s ghostly form. The blood seal had trapped his energy in the circle, but to hear him, to see him, feel his presence, it took power.

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“What?” I groan loudly, pulling the door open to quickly, and the bones in my arm shudder in response. Cassiel stands in my doorway, eyes as dark as my grandfathers, and his very presence, the sun, dim, and dying by the second.

“You forgot.” It wasn’t a question. My face remains passive, as I pull the door forward a fraction, hoping to hide the blood on the floor. It wasn’t a reasonable thought, but I could smell it, and it’s poisoning me. “I was waiting. For you. We were going to have a drink.”

“I was busy.” I yawn, my voice has a slight edge to it. There was no point in having drinks. He was going to get killed, at this point, I couldn’t see a way to stop it. I hadn’t told anyone the vision that I’d had, in fact, since coming home, I’d devoted myself to saving them. Myself. All by myself. The question is his eyes flickers for the briefest second, but he doesn’t challenge me. “If that’s all, I really gotta run.”

“At this hour?” I glance at my watch, it was past midnight. God, was I really meant to meet him at this hour for a drink? No, with the trials coming up, even I wouldn’t have been as thoughtless. But he really wouldn’t have waited this long for me.

“Yeah a meeting.” I lie. I don’t know why. It’s becoming a bad habit. But I didn’t have time for him, not when I could still figure out how to stop Arkin. There’s no use making friends with ghosts, and at this moment, he was already dead. Even if there was something in him that made me want to just ride out the time we had left. “I’m actually running late. Sorry Casy boy, but I gotta run.”

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He sighs, and I can see the frustration mounting in the dying suns of his eyes. I want to run, and be a thousand miles away from that tiny apartment, and from Azazel who was probably laughing at me by now. He follows me to the elevator, flickering between exhaustion, and anxiety. His hand briefly touched the crucifix around his neck, before his eyes meet mine again.

“You still think I’m a demon?” I break the forming silence, trying to lighten his mood. What would he think, with me holding the ghost of one of the most powerful pure bloods in my tiny apartment. It wasn’t a very human thing to be able to do.

“The worst kind.” He responds without as much as a smile.

“You start the trials this month?” I ask, and his eyes lock in on mine. From his reaction, he hadn’t seen my grandfather since he had left my apartment, and that sent a rush of nerves through my system. Cas was essentially his prized pupil, and Azazel had basically led my grandmother to her death. It really wasn’t the time for him to be reminded of those he’d lost already, unless of course he was already considering his own mortality.

“Mr Aleksi believes the quicker that we look like we’re getting results, things will calm down in the political sphere. If the results aren’t what we’re looking for, then I don’t know what we’re gonna do.” His shoulders tense, and I can feel the anger in him. It was worse than I’d thought. Even Azazel had hinted at this, and he’d been dead since before I was born. “I never thought I’d prefer working for a half demon than my own.”

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“He’s a soldier too, don’t forget that.” I smile grimly at him, as we exit the elevator, and the cold air rushes to greet us. He returns the grin, but it’s just as sad and weak as my own. At least Arkin would kill them quick, humans though, they’d play for a while. Draw it out. Leak every single secret in their skin.

“I wish this war wasn’t happening. And I wasn’t in the middle of some power struggle between my humans and your soulless. I just wish I could take you out for a drink and this wouldn’t matter. And that you wouldn’t lie to me about being too busy, and you’d just let yourself be happy. For once.” His eyes meet mine almost guiltily, but passionately alight in the darkness.

“We all wish something, Cas.” I state impersonally, and he can tell. I desperately avoid his gaze, and I hope that he can’t tell the difference. Time was slipping through my anxious fingertips, lives were dripping into eternity, everything was moving too fast for me to act on. Even him. Painfully simple, painfully human Cas.

“Maybe one day all those dreams will come to pass.” His eyes focus on mine intently, stronger than I ever could have imagined. If I’d had ever thought a man might say such words, I’d have called him soft, and cowardly, weak, girly. But even fragile, and warm, Cas was none of those things.

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“Take care, Cas.” I murmur softly, dragging my eyes off of his. Almost painfully the need to dance my lips across his, and feel the heat in his human heart drives through me. I want to taste the sun on his skin, and bathe in its graces. But even I know that it isn’t fair, to either of us.

There just wasn’t enough time left to save the ghosts of my future.

Walking exhaustedly along, I musta been looking for a way to forget about it all, because I found myself in front on Gabriel’s old apartment. The vampire might not live there anymore, and I’m sure he wouldn’t be willing to let me back inside, not after I almost killed him in my nightmares. The temptation to walk to that door and knock til he forgave me, and let me have just one taste of blood was powerful.

There just wasn’t time to play pretend anymore, because if I started, had just one drop, I wouldn’t care. I’d let them die.

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So I force myself to walk, counting the similar steps back to my oldest friends instead. My oldest ghosts.

It’s cold. So cold, but maybe there’s another word for it. Empty… Yeah, maybe that’s it. And dark. I try to shiver against my bones, and tired muscles, but I’m made of glass. But the glass is not of this world, I can feel it, but it’s not real. The pain, the terror in my skin is just a whisper, the faintest echo of reality. But where is reality?

5.21

My eyes flicker open, to view the star washed sky above, painted with the heavenly apparitions of our forefathers. They used to say when we died our souls would be scattered amongst the heavens. If the stars are here, then this is not heaven. And I’m a thousand miles away from where I want to be. If my greatest sacrifice cannot free me from the darkness, then what was the point of it all.

Sitting up, I glance around the empty graveyard. Weak spiritual pressures nag on my mind, trying to get my attention. I squeeze my eyes shut again. Tight enough to see dull colours dance across my mind, and then I let my heart drop, whatever remnant I still hold of it. The pain in my chest aches savagely, wherever my body lies, I’m sure I must be dying. Somewhere out there in the night, full of vampires, I’m sure I must be dead.

“Elizabeth.. Constance…” I breathe out, desperately ignoring the crushing sensation in my phantom limbs. I’m not really here, I promise my beating heart. This is just temporary. Except it’s all temporary, and this, this is probably the only damned thing I’m sure of anymore, that dead or alive, this is the one place I truly belong.

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“You should try to hold off coming here, as much as you can.” Elizabeth says softly, as her soft silhouette begins to shimmer and fade into my plane of vision. In those familiar green eyes of hers holds a sympathy I don’t quite understand, and maybe I can’t. She had lived her life for her family. And even now, I lived for myself, I had sacrificed myself not to save two kids, but to prevent myself waking up here. We were two entirely different people, even if somehow we shared the same fate, and blood.

“I think you’ve got the wrong idea about me, Lizzie.” I smirk at her coldly. It wasn’t like I chose to come here, god, there were a million places I’d rather be than perdition with my family. I’d rather die, which unfortunately, is how you end up in here. Constance paces a few steps, and back again, before locking her eyes in on mine. “And how exactly did you kill your pureblood?” I don’t mean it, but my voice is more forceful than I need it to be.

“I certainly didn’t bring any ghosts into it.” She sighs, her voice bordering the same harsh edginess as my own. Out of all of us, Elizabeth certainly was handling this the best, and she was the one who died with the knowledge that she understood the finer points of life, only to be rudely awoken at her death. Vampires, the reaper, and now ghosts. “The last time that you were here, you asked about our lives, and this world. And we didn’t know a lot, we still don’t. Not the purpose, or the reasons, or even the grand where, and  why. But the pictures in the water… They’re.. Surely you being here, in your waking life, must be for something.”

“Maybe it is important to understand the fate that has befallen you-” Elizabeth begins, her voice as soft as ever.

“I didn’t ask for this.” I mumble under my breath, following them to the cold, clear waters of the fountain. Peering in, my reflection stares back at me, unblinking, and unchanging. My blue, blue eyes cutting back into my own. I don’t belong here, amongst the dark, and forgotten. My reflection begins to waver, and blood pounds against my ears. Rushing through as little images begin to move, and run, and dance across the still surface.

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I can see my grandfather in his laboratory, working as hard as usual. The black dog at his feet growls, the sound feels like it’s tearing my eardrums out, and feeding on the strings of my heart. Cassiel’s face stares at me for a moment, edged with blood, and terror. Terror. And then the darkness comes, and through the night, comes red eyes, fixed on the both of them. I fight the urge to scream, to warn them, to even look away, because I can’t. I’m forced to watch, to become a silent observer in their deaths. They’re speaking, but I can’t detect the words over the hideous growls, they’re tearing my soul out, ripping it from my body, my head spins dangerously as the red eyed demon takes hold of my grandfather, tearing at his throat like his life depended on it.

Maybe it did..

He’s not moving. Thrown to the ground, and bleeding. Move. Please. Get up. Cassiel and the vampire stare back at each other. Cas tries to run, to grab anything that can save him, but he’s cornered. I shut my eyes tightly, I can’t look anymore. I can hear it though, Nightmare growling, the ripping, the tearing of flesh, and my life falling apart at the seams. They’re dead. Gone.

My eyes flicker open, almost praying that when they fall upon the pool again, that they’ll both be smiling back at me again. But it’s gone, black, and faded beneath the flickering flames. A thin sheath of sweat covers my skin, which I didn’t think was entirely possible in a world that was so frozen. My knuckles tighten, clenching into a sickly white. The smoke is clearing to reveal an upturned car, and shattered glass. Time seems to move backwards, the smoke clearing, a woman with purple hair crashing through the glass, and a loud explosion.

“I didn’t ask for any of this, to see… This… Feel… This…” Blood fills my mouth as I bite down deep into my cheek. Sure, the blood reminded me that I was alive, somewhere out beyond the darkness, but we all need something to take away the pain. The drinking, the blood, the everything. Just a cover for this hell. A way to survive. I tremble. The red eyes are back, glaring, following my every step, and movement.

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“Perhaps the images that we see are not fixed points in time. The choices that we make, the things we see and do, that is what matters. That is all that matters.” Elizabeth smiles through her words, but it’s a farce. I can feel the tremors in her voice, and the fear on her skin. She had seen the very images that these calm waters offered, she had seen the darkness. I don’t know what pissed me off more, the hopelessness of changing fate, or the inevitability of it.

 “If what you say is false, then my fate is already sealed. The second I was born, I was no longer free to live my life.” I grimace, pulling myself away from those captivating, lost eyes. Everything’s beginning to hurt, like my body is coming back to life, finally waking up.

Constance responds harshly, alighting those green eyes of hers, in a way in which I could finally see how she could master the darkness in her mate’s heart. “Then perhaps life truly is pointless, next time you fall into the ocean’s cold embrace, or face an enemy, don’t fight, as you say, fate is decided. If your death is already set, then you will be washed to shore, alive and well. That is of course, if you believe absolutely in the power of what you see here. If you think for a second that you can stop this, that your life is your own, then please. save your wretched, dying world, and save our family.”

I clench my ribs, coughing violently as I fall to my knees. Blood splatters against my hands as I hang my head weakly. “How did a human like you ever kill a pureblood? You’re just… You’re so..” My gaze grips hers, and I can feel both of our intensities bouncing of each others. “Human…”

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Her hand grazes my cheeks, and her eyebrows droop ever so slightly, as though her walls were crumbling, crashing around me. “You say human like it’s a fatal flaw.” Everything about her, in my fading light, her voice, her smile, her touch, reminds me of my human. Hope. And tragedy. And foolishness. All wrapped up in the human condition. “And when you meet your pureblood, Larka, hold onto that human fatality, that anger, and that fear, and pain, whatever pushes you on, cradle it into the perfect weapon that he has given to you. And strike him down for what he has become. And for what he has turned this world into.”

My head hits the frozen ground as I breathe weakly, sucking in the fading air, and finding my own. Taking my first breath for the hundredth time. White hair gleams in the sunken moonlight, and fangs greet me by the throat.

*

I try to move, to struggle and to fight. But there isn’t enough air in the world for me to breathe in, not enough for me to find life. But all at once I crash to earth in a ring of fire, and every limb aches with a fury I can’t describe. Once again I’m a paper girl with a paper heart. Every breath is tearing through my every cell, and ripping it into a thousand pieces. My head throbs in anxious frustration, clawing at the inside of my skull with each weak movement of my pulse.

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Once again, I can’t breathe, and I don’t want to. Each breathe is like swallowing shards of glass, and rubbing it into the inside of my chest. Like swallowing fire, and sending the dizzy gas straight to my clouded mind. I can’t hold on to the world tight enough, I’m swimming in the skies, and any second now I might come crashing back down again.

Darkness..

I find the light a few times, but I can’t hold onto it for more than a few seconds at a time. Everything is too intense, the pain, and then, the memories. If my death wasn’t undignified enough,  being locked inside my consciousness with both Azazel and those other voices only made it worse.

Jesus Christ, everything that Asmodeus had felt, and Azazel had felt at the moment of his death was buried in every single layer of my brain. I can’t lock it out. All I see is those red eyes, two pairs this time, towering over the white haired vampire. All I hear is Azazel begging them not to kill his brother too. If I’m going to die… Again… I want to die in peace. Away from the screams. Away from the envy, and soulless pride, and death. And blood. God, I just want to die in peace.

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And then I can make out the sounds of war, or guns, and screaming. And the scent of death fills my nostrils, and smoke, and chemicals. The cold is finally seeping into my weakened mind, icing my shattered body, and easing the sweat dripping off of my body. My eyes weakly make their way around the room I somehow found myself in. Fire, and paint falling off of the walls. There might be people in here with me, or more ghosts. I can’t tell yet.

“Soldier?” A voice says, and I listen with a weakened interest, my lips parted slightly, and eyes against the ceiling like I might find the answers to every predicament. “Solider..? I think she’s finally waking up.” Shuffling, and then a blurry face above my own, shining a light into my unwelcome eyes. “It’s good to see you with us again…” He picks up my badge. “Larka Godwinn. Try not to move so much, it’ll feel a lot better if you just rest.”

“W… What ha… Hap-“

“Just rest.” He says more urgently, putting his hands on my broken body, and pulling away bloodied bandages.

It must be years later when I regain some sense of life again, when these men finally speak to me in low, anxious tones. They say that they’re from the medical squads, and that they’d found two hopeless little runts wandering the outskirts of the boundary line, repeating the same few words over and over again. “The pure blood is here.

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Somehow the plan had worked. They had sent in special squads to track, and dispose of the pureblood, it was unsuccessful. But the immediate threat was gone, they could handle the others, with fewer casualties, and the support squads could move in.

“It was only due to the vampire insignia that we didn’t leave you out there when you didn’t have a pulse.” One of the men says, rubbing his eyes in exhaustion. He picks up my jacket, and smiles weakly, pointing to the little symbol stitched into the sleeve. “No heart beat, no sign of life for two days, and then, you just woke up, heart beat and all.”

“But…” The second one begins, picking up a small notebook, and flipping through pages of messy writing. “You suffered a lot of damage, a lot more than both your lycanthropy, and any blood can heal, without lasting damage. We had to reset most of the bones in your body, force them back into place, and while they heal, you’ll have to take suppressants so you don’t heal too quickly. I know that seems so… Distant from where you were before all of this, and where we are right no-“

“How long?” I interrupt forcefully, suppressants would turn me basically human while I was supposed to heal. And in case the whole world didn’t know it already, humans were slow, in everything they did, and healing, was one of the slowest things. I couldn’t not fight this battle, not after everything that I had seen. I couldn’t just sit at home and wait.

“A month, maybe more, no one will know until you get back to HQ and get a proper physical-“

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“Can’t you just reset my bone-“

“No. I don’t think you understand not only the time, but pain that you would have to endure for such a thing. If it was one bone, maybe. One arm, or one leg, but they tried to kill you, and they wanted it to hurt. And I think they succeed with both intentions.” Silence falls in the room, as I breath against the pain. Of course it’s obvious that they’re right, but I just wish they weren’t. I can’t just slow down, and stop, not right now. I had to stop it, stop everyone from dying. God damn it, why now.

“I hope she isn’t giving you to much trouble.” A voice says calmly from the door, but I don’t even try to turn my head to see. It would hurt to much, for too little relief.

“Captain Sora.” Both medics say, quite possibly saluting him with the highest amount of respect. He probably deserved it too, being in the top ranking squad of the mercenary core, trained to kill the indestructible.

“You should both find your commanding officer, and see what else you can do.” His voice is stern, and in everyway, it completely filled the room with his authority. “I know it’s been a long few days, but, there is still many people to be attended too.”

They both hurry out, and in the soles of their feet, and the pressure on which they walk, I can feel there exhaustion leaking through. I hate to wonder, but I bet they’re scared too. Scared to find the body of the friend that was missing, scared that there are still explosives rigged to go off at the slightest movement. Fighting was hard, but clean up, the burial, and the moving on. How impossible it seems.

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“I hear they’re saying that they saw a young girl fight off the pureblood.” My old captain smiles down at me with a knowing look on his face. He sits in front of me, his eyes black and desperate, and a bandage wrapped tightly around his arm. I can tell that he tries to hide it, but I can see him wince with the movement. “All by herself.

“Someone had to take care of it, old man.” I breathe out with a shuddered, and strangled voice. Sora was a man of few words, but even now, I can feel his brain ticking over, planning out his words carefully, and trying to figure out some secret plan of attack.

“Getting those two whelps away to deliver the message was smart, but sticking around to live in the aftermath. I’m not quite sure whether it was brave, or just stupid.” He sighs thoughtfully, and I can feel his eyes surveying the damage that I had been left with. I can imagine how it must feel, thinking I was dead, and that I wasn’t coming back. “You might get a raise for this, but your definitely not captain material yet, Lark.” This time is voice is soft, more forgiving.

“Forget captain, I’m going straight to the top.” I cough painfully, before locking eyes with him. I force a devilish smirk, my eyes glinting in a way in which he might believe. For a while, we sit in comfortable silence, and I find it in his breath.

“You know. At some point, you will have to tell me how you did it.” His voice is low, and quiet, and also I could tell, relieved. We hadn’t died, yet. Obviously the world was still turning, even if everyone was struggling to hold on.

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“I’m sorry, but I… I can’t remember.” I don’t know why I do it, why I lie. Everything about it is still fuzzy, wrapped in the thick cloud of fog that would hide the truth. But I knew. I knew what I had done. “You know, I vaguely remember his eyes. Pure gold, fire and brimstone. They were so cold, captain, I don’t know how anything could be so cold. I must’ve passed out fairly quickly after that.”

“You’ve never been a particularly good liar, lark, I’ve always been able to tell.” Finally I see him smile, softly, he places his finger on my nose and catches my eyes. All at once, with that look on his face, I’m consumed by the darkness. I feel like a kid again, and all I want is to cry and go home, to sob mercilessly and be told it was going to be okay. Even though I didn’t know what was happening outside this room, I knew people were still dying, and being found.

“Maybe one day, but right now, everything just hurts a lot, and I don’t want to be forced to remember it, not more than I have to.” I avoid his gaze, forcing my aching neck to turn away from his powerful stare. “They’re sending me home, you know? I won’t be okay to fight again for a month, maybe more. It’s not like… I mean, I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to.. Die… But.. How can I just sit at home? Doing not-“

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“It’s not a punishment. Things are happening around you, to your friends, and comrades, and you might not be there to help, to be honest, they might die too. But sending you out before you’re ready? A squad is only as strong as their weakest member.” Sora sighs, he doesn’t try to sugar coat it like he used to. I wonder why. Perhaps he doesn’t believe the sincerity, or doesn’t think I will. “I’m sorry.” He breathes suddenly, his voice sullen and sounding every bit as authoritative as a pack master should. “You’re not a child anymore, and I’m not as young as I once was. You’ve seen war, know it’s face, and that of your enemy well. Someday soon, though not too soon I hope, that you’ll replace my generation. And you’ll fight for us, and the future. And pretending that the world isn’t cruel isn’t going to change a single thing.”

“Somehow I find myself hoping that day doesn’t come.” I whisper, my voice breaking as much I could allow it too.

“It’s time to go home, Larka.”

*

The journey home had been painful, I felt every single bump, and twist in the snowy road. I thought a lot about what Sora had said, about how the future would be mine (and my generations) to protect, and it seemed to be a task I wasn’t sure we could complete. Even more so when I remembered those visions from the other side. My mother, and grandfather, Cas. Not to mention all those that flickered for the briefest moment.

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I found myself also seeing Azazel beneath my closed eyes. His gleaming white hair shivering back at me from wherever he found his eternity. Would he follow me forever? I didn’t know enough about the magic world, but I could feel his presence everywhere, inside of me, in the air around me. Somehow I’d brought him back.

There were three others on the same truck as me, and as we pulled to a stop, I noticed the exhausted, but small crowd waiting. We weren’t the first home, but news of the difficulties that had arisen had obviously spread like wildfire. I caught a glimpse of my mothers disheveled appearance at a small table with a stack of papers in front of her. I wonder if she’d been nominated or requested to be the one to break the news to these people about who was coming home, and who hadn’t even been found.

I braced myself weakly against the truck before struggling to hide myself in the crowd. Maybe I was a coward, or selfish, but I couldn’t face her today. So I darted through the crowd, even willing in my current state, and the cold winds. Not that I seemed to notice it at all. I wanted to sleep, and mourn, I wanted to howl in grief and anger, and I wanted to be a child. I wanted to be comforted. I didn’t want to answer questions, and pretend that things weren’t going straight to hell. So I couldn’t be seen by her.

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“Larka…” My entire body freezes as Cassiel’s amber eyes lock in on mine. I didn’t expect him here, I couldn’t even trace the reasons back to why he might. He looked more haggard since I last saw him. Eyes more bloodshot, shadowed with darker bags. And the sun inside of them, looks like it’s taken a permanent vacation since I left. “Lark… You’re.. You’re alive.”

“You’ve no faith in me Casy boy.” I breathe weakly, struggling on staying upright in the crowd of weeping bodies. At this point, I had no right to fall, or stumble. With all these people around me, those who had lost someone, I couldn’t afford to be weak. I had to get stronger.

“Just cause you’re not dead, doesn’t mean you didn’t die.” His voice is too serious, his expression to flat. He didn’t know me, but in that statement, I knew he knew more about me than anyone else I had taken liberties with. I take a step, my breath ragged, aching, god I don’t know if I’ll make it. He isn’t worth it, I think as I inch closer to him. My bones creak, shattering against each tiny movement. “Lark-“

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“Shut up, country boy.” I glare, stopping him dead in his tracks, before softening my gaze. “There was something I was meaning to do, before I left.” His face contorts in confusion, before I smirk at him. Possibly smirk? I’m sure it’s more of a grimace, or a scowl. Too much teeth, and heavy breathing.

The clouds are moving, shifting, streaking off the bright blue sky. And my sun is back. He crushes me, catching me in his arm. I think he’s laughing, but everything is throbbing, and turning white beneath his touch. His body is warm, and glowing, compared to the ice on my dead skin.

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“You’re alive, Lark, you’re alive.” Cas breathes into my ear, before pulling away. He rests his hand on my cheek, his thumb gently caressing my jaw. If he holds me any longer, I might pass out. Or punch him. Or kill him. I don’t think he has any idea how broken I am beyond the fact that I survived. “You’re really here.”