The Final Chapter



Original poster
I would like to address how pleased I am that you are allowing me to write to you; everything under the heavens knows that I shouldn't have dared that much hope. I write this letter now so that I may properly begin my healing process. I must warn you that the following words my be hard to read. I beg you to press through it and hear my plea to you.

My memories of that day have not yet returned in their entirety. Everything seemed to happen so fast that the images left in my mind are blurred, and I question the reality that I have conjured about the events that took place. I remember a blackness crouching over each of us- a darkness that seemed to be gnawing at the back of our subconscious minds. It hung over our home like a cancerous smog, obstructing our views of the world like stained glass over looking a vespertine courtyard. Nothing seemed as it should have been, and we were not ourselves. I am sure that you were cranky and quick to lecture even the most minor trespasses. Mordikai seemed easily startled and distracted. I may have even fallen below my own dark waters, and committed a treason to my own imagined powers and used them for immoral and selfish reasons. After not feeling up to my usual self, and listening to the dark thoughts that I believed to be from my dearest two in the world for a length of time, I acted impulsively and selfishly. I mention this because it was through my own misguided efforts That Day occurred at all.

Revisiting those times from over half a year ago, the days and weeks before That Day bleed into each other. I can only recall that as the days before the event grew fewer in number, my brother had been spending a vast amount of time outside of our home. This fact alone served as the catalyst in my mounting "delusions", (as the doctors here are fond of calling them.) With my imagination running rampant, I perceived my psychic abilities to be at a peak. Amongst the messy bog of fragmented recollections I hold in my mind, I can imagine perfectly myself frequently in those passing days sitting serenely, eyes closed and tea steaming, listening to the thoughts of any who had the misfortune of coming within my "hearing" range. Of course, we know that being able to read another's thoughts is humanly impossible, and all together a ludicrous concept. But alas, I am told that it is to my own shameful recovery's benefit that I write this letter as I experienced the events, not as I see them now.

I regretfully cannot resurface any memory of the happening which made me decide trickery was the best solution for my problem. (I seem to have blocked that from myself. With time and healing, the doctors will help me to pull those memories to the surface. As I recover from my mental conditions, I will be able to paint a more accurate picture of the time line and should be able to have a better understanding of who I am.) The simple story is as such- I awoke abruptly in a thick sweat from a nightmare so hellish that I was screaming long into the night. I had dreamed of the universe stealing my sweet Mord--- taking my dearest brother from this world. I dreamed the two of you went for a drive- you were very angry with him. The two of you were arguing over some accusation and you were not watching the road as closely as you should have been. You looked in the rear view mirror for a split second, there was an explosion, and it was over. As the bright lights from the explosion fade and a deep voice announced the death of Mordikai, I woke myself from the ghastly nightmare.

It was then that I decided I would stop this event from occurring. I could not allow Mordikai to die. I tried for days to smooth any quarrels. I'd listen to your angry mental banter then take what I could without a dishonoring amount of disclosure and try to make each of you see the other's point. But Mordi's long hours and the blackness were taking their tolls on you two- on all of us. Fighting ensued and the frequency of my nightmare increased. The wreck was getting closer. I chose to break up your relationship, even though I knew you loved each other dearly. All my memories of this mission seem to be out of reach at this time as well. But I know that to me, this seemed the only possible way to prevent the tragedy that I fantasized. Though I thought I was nobly trying to save a life, the doctors here have helped me to see that my depraved desires were at the root of this dream and thus the root of the accident. I accept the blame for everything- your...pain, my brother's eye, and that little girl. Through my actions, the wreck claimed this prize.

When I planted the long velvety lock of black hair in the brush, I fueled your terrified speculation. With my mind, I tried to push your thoughts towards Vesper. I gave you a reason to suspect Mordikai of an infidelity you couldn't forgive twice. I'd hoped you two would sever ties and one of you would with a heavy and broken heart move away from the constant reminder of your near marriage. Then there would be no fateful car ride. You two are strong willed and would not be swayed from your "destinies" so easily. Your wedding day drew nearer and there was no break up. I eventually came to the conclusion that your relationship was not to be tarnished by something so trivial. I also decided that my calculation of when the wreck was to occur could have been off, and could happen any time in the foreseeable future. I knew then that you could not end up together, lest he die a twisted and painful death. I invited Vesper to the wedding. To my pleasant surprise, she came. You hardly seemed to notice. Your ceremony was beautiful- everything you have ever dreamed of in a wedding, I am sure. Mordi would not have had it any other way. I cried along with the other guests, though I struggled not to make it show. I willed my tears away as quickly as they fell. To one watching my face, though all eyes were on the blushing bride, he might have seen the strange way my tears seemed to flow horizontally and float ever so lightly into my hair. I couldn't let my nefarious weeping taint the sanctity of your vows. I didn't cry for your happiness or the achievement of your dreams.... I cried because in that moment as your vows came to a close and you acknowledged your unity with a kiss, I knew more than ever before that the man I loved more than any other would never love me in return. I felt the emptiness of an eternity in my arms, the coldness of an empty heart overcame me, and I wept because it was not me at that alter.

I've deterred from my point. It was time to go to the reception, but you wanted a chance to talk to Mordi. You were thinking you wanted to drive so that you could take the longer route and have more time. You started the conversation early, right after Vesper so elegantly bid you both her best wished. The whispered argument was already heated when I revealed that my ride had forgotten me. There was no choice but to allow me to ride with you. During the ride, I was distracted by my thoughts of losing the heart that I never really had. I closed my eyes to block out the images that were burned to my retinas. You must have thought I was asleep, because soon the argument commenced once more. It is here again that my memory becomes hazy. The details about what actually happened are lost to me, but I know that there was a crash. Two cars collided head on. It was my fault. Something I did caused the whole thing- the entire hellish night terror. But again, I was at the peak of my mental powers. With all the might my mind could muster, I fought to save us. I did, but at a price. The loss of Mordikai's right eye pains me severely. This is my own evil. But guilt we share, the death of that child coupled with the unfounded guilt you claimed for yourself over her death, leaves me with an abyss in my soul. I have wronged you. Kura, I am so sorry for what I have done to you. One day, I hope to find your forgiveness.

Once more, the details are hazy. My explanation of that fateful moment varies greatly from your's and Mordikai's accounts of what happened. I remember a great psychic burst in order to slow the speeding cars. In the burst, I gave everything that I had, and it for one moment the powerful blast connected me with the minds of everyone involved. You, Mordi, the little girl and her mother. We were all thinking on the same wavelength, and at that moment, my thoughts could be heard as loudly and clearly as if I had spoken them. My biggest fear was broadcast-ed across a web of minds- Save My Love. Save Mordikai. In that moment, three things simultaneously occurred to me. I was aware that you could all hear my thoughts, I was aware that you all knew my shameful secret, and I was aware that I did not want to live through this anymore. Every memory I had with Mordikai flashed before my eyes (and also yours), and in the fraction of a second before we died, I remembered why I'd done all this in the first place. I loved Mordi. He must live.

That is where I draw my conclusion. Once again I want to offer my apologies, though I fear you will believe them to be naught but empty words. Sakura, the things I did were atrocious, but I never did them out of spite or maliciousness. I acted for what I believed to be the greater good. My choices were wrong, and my friends are scarred for life. While Mordi's is more obvious beneath his eye patch, yours I sense are much much deeper. You are not the one I expected to hear from first, and definitely not so soon. You my dearest Kura, are a delicate and ever surprising flower. You show a great strength in writing to me. Even though I can see your strength and know that you are herculean in your stoicism, I realized that you did not mention my sickness- my infatuation with my brother. I understand a reluctance on your end to discuss everything with me. Please do not feel pressured to do so. I share because I must learn to accept my feelings, but you have no such obligation. I simply wish to be reminded of the light in your soul. My friend who I have betrayed, forgive me for all my lies and for ruining your wedding day. Forgive me for how I have hurt you. Forgive me. I love you, and I miss you. Write again soon.

With Love,
Shae set her quill down and looked around her tiny room. It was more comfortable than her room at the temple had been so many years ago, although it too held a vague resemblance to a prison cell. She looked out her barred window to the grounds far below her wing of the castle-turned-asylum. The cemetery below was peaceful to her- it was quiet and still. Shae had gone so very long feeling so few emotions. Now that she was owning up her feelings, she often found herself overwhelmed by the flood of things in her heart. Looking at the sepulchral valley below helped her find that old sense of stillness she used to cling to. Mordi had been right in choosing to seek mental help for Shae, and she knew it. But this healing process was a lot of hard work. Also Shae found that the more she accepted her feelings, the worse she felt about herself and her surroundings. The doctors told her that this was normal. She knew that the key word here was "normal". If she ever even dared hope that Mordi would one day talk to her again, she had to at least appear normal. Currently he wouldn't reply to her letters or answer her calls. He was still enraged with her, a solid six months later. Kura's letter had come as a surprise to Shae, but also as a little beacon of hope. There was no way any doctor or hospital would ever "cure" the love she felt for her brother, but Shae had to be able to do a damn good job of pretending to be cured. In order to do that.... she had to succumb to the process. She sighed and looked at the letter the doctors said would help heal her once more. She folded it, sealed it, stamped the hot wax, and laid it outside her door to be delivered to its destination.
Kura sat staring at the plain wooden table-top, the cereal she absently poked having long ago gone soggy. Her uncombed hair fell in loose tangles around her face, hiding the soft blue veins that had begun to peak from beneath her blanched flesh. She hardly noticed the changes- the whiteness she'd gotten from lack of sun, the weight she'd lost from worrying, or even the way her expression no longer changed. She failed to see that she was wasting away, that in another few months she'd be little more than a whisper of a ghost. She looked terrible and felt even worse.

It was true, she'd shut down after the accident. That little girl's life had been stolen, and it had been her hands behind the wheel of the car that was to blame. Guilt had pressed on the blond until she could no longer stand or look herself in the mirror. She simply quit on all things living. But since then, she'd gotten much better. While it wasn't a full turn around, she had showed much sign of recovery. For what was far to short a time to the outsiders who cared, she was even showering every day and pulling her hair into a brushed ponytail.

But then she quit trying to make herself feel better. She stopped wanting the guilt to go away. She gave up the battle. However it was not a total loss- she wasn't crying whenever she was left alone. She remembered to eat and to change her clothes. She was aware that if she didn't make an effort, people would come into her home to assist her. Kura wasn't writhing in pain anymore; she simply didn't care. She didn't care about looking nice. She didn't care that she found herself alone more now than ever since she'd gotten married. She didn't care that her father was still missing after almost 9 months. Nothing mattered anymore.

As Mordikai walked through the kitchen door, Kura was startled back into reality. With a jump, she dropped her spoon in her bowl. The milk splashed and swallowed the silver piece with a final "glug". She watched it sink, not more than mildly annoyed that she no longer had something to fidget with. Mordikai set some large, metallic object on the table as he passed, again making her cereal slosh. Kura looked at it for a brief moment, any intrigue she may have felt while investigating the vaguely robotic looking item being chased away by her painfully composed impassiveness.

"Good Morning." She said flatly, a hint of sarcasm lurking in the undertones. Her brows danced into an arch, then flattened like her lips.

Mordikai turned back toward her, oblivious as usual, and kissed her automatically on the top of her head while gruffly saying, "Whats so good about it?"

Her lips pursed together as he ruffled her messy hair and went back about his business of making breakfast. "Well, I was privileged enough to see you, so thats good." She still didn't look at him.

He paused then, setting the bowl he'd reached for onto the white counter top. "Are you mad, Kura?" His jaw tightened as he asked, knowing the answer already. His eyes were hard as he looked at his little wife.

She pushed her own bowl away, all the while her back remaining stiff. "Why would I be, dear?" The sickening sweetness that oozed from her voice was a dead give away to her true feelings.

Mordi almost flinched. Instead he muttered a swear under his breath. Through teeth fighting not to clench he said, "You know that my work is very important. They really need me right now, so it's taking up a lot of my time. I swear Kura, it will all be over soon."

"I know." She stood up and looked at him, her eyes washing over his entire body from head to foot. She saw that his hair had gotten long- the orange tips bounced just below his chin. His usually fiery eyes had grown cold, and seemed to her to be the color of burned straw. His skin was dark; evidence that his job had him working long hours in the sun. Probably training, she thought, judging by how much his muscles have grown. Look at him, he's huuuuuge. He hardly looks like the same man. No complaints though. Her brows rose as she fought the infantile turnings of a smirk. He looks like a hell of a man. My man. My. Hot. Man.

"Babe. Don't do this. Not again." His good eye softened, and she thought for a brief moment that she could see the soft burning she'd loved so dearly. Then a weird bionic one focused on her, and she could hear its almost silent whirring as the lens changed.

Thats not hot. Then she exploded. She saw the searing white light of blinding rage consume her vision from the outside. "YOU GOT A BIONIC EYE?!?! MORDIKAI? "

His jaw dropped. He couldn't believe it. She was mad about that? "Hey, I was going to tell you, but it was classified research. I couldn't talk about it until it was perfected, but I ended up being the test subject, so I still couldn't say anything all the way up to and through the operation. Hell, I still can't talk about it." He grinned at her, the first smile she'd seen in over a month, and it was about something so wretched.

She was dumbfounded, and the wide-eyed, open-mouthed expression on her face made it clear. "Mordi.... you got a bionic eye. You got something major done to your body, you changed yourself in an irrevocable way, and you didn't even talk to me about it. You didn't ask if I wanted to look at that every day for the rest of my life. You didn't tell me it bothered you so much that you would let them put something in your head. You didn't tell me that you were having MAJOR SURGERY. I AM YOUR WIFE, DAMMIT. I don't care whether its classified or not, you are supposed to TALK to me. We're supposed to make these choices together!" She wailed at him.

His grin faded quickly. He'd thought she'd be excited. He thought she'd be behind him. He had his vision back! Not only like it was before, but better! He could see further distances, focus on more at once, and was connected to the National Library of Knowledge at all times. Anything he needed to look up, a flower he couldn't recognize, now instantly researched by the tiny computer that gave him sight. He even had night vision, infrared, and magnetic sensors. It was designed to help his.... hunting. She has no idea what the eye is for. Stupid! No wonder she isn't impressed. It's a scary machine clicking and blinking at her. A tinge of guilt nipped at the edges of his mind. He swallowed, set his jaw, and took a breath. Remember doofus, this is classified information. Follow orders.They have taken Kura's safety into the utmost consideration. This for her own good.

"My orders were to keep it under wraps. You were a military girl. You understand." His stoicism was epic. Kura was convinced he didn't even care that she was bugged. He looked as though he were satisfied with her anger, like it didn't bother him to see her mad at all.

"I understand. I understand that you talked me into marrying you, just to let me sit here alone night after night. I understand that you won your prize, so now you can do as you please. You got your little wifey, now you have to go play soldier boy. Be a good little trooper, Mordikai. Don't you dare treat your wife like you actually love her! You know, you turned out to be just like my father! Self absorbed and more in love with guns and suits than your own family!" she threw her fists in the air and stomped, her face twisting from holding back tears.

Mordi lowered his eyes, ashamed. He said nothing of how the work he was doing was entirely for her. He said no words to make her feel better about his constant absence. He didn't explain that when he became involved with this job, he was searching for her missing father. He didn't explain that once he was in, he couldn't get out. Not until the job was done. Not until every loose end that could come back to Kura was tied, and he'd seen it so personally. He didn't tell her about the information he knew that would bring her sanity crumbling down while she was still so emotionally frail. He simply sighed and softly said, "Kura, don't talk of the d-"

She shot him a glare that cut into his heart, and made him fleetingly afraid of the woman.

"y-your dad. Don't talk of your dad that way."

She didn't mention the slip of his words. She grunted in exasperation. "This is fucking great." She spat at him. "What will you come home with tomorrow? A metal jaw?"

Though she didn't see it through the heavy cloak that has become something of an extra extremity these days, he answered with a twitch of the fingers of his left hand. He felt the now gimpish arm barely respond to his command. He didn't take his eyes from Kura's, but he could imagine perfectly the whithered arm, tiny compared to the huge monstrosity of his other, useful arm. His stomach rolled in disgust.

Kura took his silence as though she were being ignored. "ERRRRG. YOU JERK. I HOPE IT RUSTS CLOSED!" She stormed off and the argument was over.

Mordikai grabbed her bowl of cereal, poured it in the garbage disposal, and washed it. His appetite was lost, so his unused bowl went back to its place in the cubboard. When he was finished, he grabbed the prototype off the table and went back to the base to vent his frustrations in some training. For the rest of the morning and late into the night he worked every muscle in his body. With each jolt of pain came too a desire to protect Kura.

When he came home that night, his infrared showed him her sleeping form, curled into a ball in the middle of their massive bed. For a few minutes, he stood in the darkness over her, watching the rhythmic rise and fall of her chest. He brushed a strand of hair behind her ears and smiled slightly.

After getting a hot shower, he dried himself off and slipped into a set of long sleeved thermals and pants. Cranking the air conditioner low for an excuse to wear thermals, he slipped into bed beside her, grateful for the chance to slip his strong arm around her. He pulled her against his body, and inhaled deeply the scent of her hair.

"I love you." He whispered. "More than my own life. Don't forget it. Please, Kura. Don't forget." And he hugged her tighter.

It surprised him when she rolled over and her eyes were open the tiniest of cracks. Her blue eyes remained unfocused, but she smiled a sleepy grin. "I won't." She said casually, as her head fell back like a little child's. In an instant, her lips brushed his neck, and then he heard her light snore as she fell back into whatever dream she'd come from.

When Kura woke, Mordi was not in bed. She hadn't heard him get up, but she knew he had perfected the silent get away long ago. Either that or aliens were beaming him out at night. She shrugged, and went to pee.

She sat there, leaning over her lap as her bladder emptied. She threw little balls of toilette paper through the slightly open door, entertaining herself as she hummed. The door had been left open on purpose; it was one of her little defiance of societal norms. A tiny victory over rules in general. Follows rules? Mordi was doing enough of that for the both of them. Damn the man! she thought as she watched a little tissue ball bounce and land next to its brothers in the hallway.

Suddenly it dawned on her that she was humming..... humming to the sound of music!!! She finished her business, doubled back to turn off the water, remember she hadn't actually washed after turning it on, washed, and went running down the hall, still not turning the water off.

"Music! Mordi is playing his guitar! Maybe he is finally in a good mood again! Oh Mordi, I just want to sing with you again! I want to laugh and play like we used to! Oh Yes! I haven't heard your music in months!" She thought to herself.

She got to to the end of the hall, looked in the study he usually played in and found nothing. A few soft words that were just slightly out of tune reached her ears.

"Oceans apart.........after day.....slowly go insane......"

"Downstairs" she gasped to herself.

Spinning abruptly back toward the stairs, her socks gave no resistance to the hardwood floor and she fell in a yellow heap. Her hair hadn't even the time to settle before her body sprung cat-like into the air. She was off! Slipping past the stairs, she shot out an arm in order to catch the rail and swing herself down into the stairwell.
"Wait for me, Mordi! I'm coming!" She skipped the steps, two at a time, tumbling more than walking.

The music got louder as she approached, out of breath she slid into the kitchen. Wanting to jump in to a surprise duet, she picked up at the beginning of the next line. As she burst through the door, the two rang out together, "If I see you next to never, how can we say forever?"

She choked on the next line as the man sitting with his back to her swiveled to face her. Her voice cracked from mind-blown confusion as she asked, "As..ri..el?" His hand flopped lazily off the chords, the guitar grunting into silence.

"Sakura. Long time no see." He grinned at her devilishly, his brows arching quickly.

She sobered from her confusion and squinted at him. She struggled to keep from full out snarling at him. "Not long enough."

Ignoring her jab, the demon stood. His guitar seemed to simply float out of consciousness and thus into nonexistence as Asriel walked toward her. Like a shark, he smelled the wounds in Kura's heart and did what sharks to best- attack. "That line, I imagine, is particularly close to your heart these days." With an interested smirk, he read the truth written onto her shocked face. "Isn't it, doll?" He added when he was sure.

"W-what line?" She tried to play dumb. She stepped backward, her anger faltering beneath the overwhelming truth he was forcing on her.

"heh. heh. hhmm." He inhaled deeply after his chuckle. "Your life sucks. You aren't kidding anyone but yourself. You have a husband you never see, a sister-in-law who has been institutionalized," he hissed the word gleefully. He continued, "And a father who is still, after nine long months, missing. ....Oh yes, and it would be sheer righteousness to spare you this- so not to cleanse my nefarious reputation, allow me to be bad." He moved closer to her, his hand close enough to tip her chin. Taking in the dilation of her pupil as he whispered, "Don't forget, you killed a child!" He sang the last word, his voice holding the note thoughtfully.

She slumped. Defeated. It was morning and already the weight of her world was more than she could hold. She leaned into Asriel's chest. He tried not to smell her hair when it breezed past, so he swallowed to close his nostrils. His smirk vanished as he slipped an arm around her waist and another behind her knees. After scooping her up, he moved her to the living room to rest in the fluffy armchair. "That was too easy," he said softly. Pulling the Ottoman nearer to Kura, he propped his chin in his hand on the armrest of her chair. "No fun, Kura." He tugged gently at a strand of her hair.

She looked at him, feeling as though she were sinking into a hole. "I can't do this right now." She closed her eyes to fight the pricking behind them.

"So, you admit it it then? You're not happy? You're lonely. You need a change?"

"What is this, Asriel? Will you leave me alone if I say it? You're right. I'm not happy! And I'm so so lonely! Now go away! Please just go away, demon! There is no reason to rub it in! I don't want to fight with you!" She made a pathetic shooing motion with her hand.

"I just wanted to hear you say it. That way when I don't go away, I can gloat over your annoyance."

She glared, having little strength to do anything else. "What do you want? Why are you here?"

His grinned returned, and his golden eyes sparkled with excitement. "It's a 'speak of the devil' sort of thing." He lifted his back half from the ottoman while his hands folded over each other onto the arm rest. "Only... done from in here." He poked her chest, just over her heart, with a jab a little too hard.

Her cracked lips forced a sneer. "Is this another far-fetched, but strangely entangling plan to make me fall in love with you?"

"Only if it's working." He was in front of her now, one hand on each of her arm rests. He winked and blew a stray tuft of white hair from in front of his eyes.

"Only if you're hypnotizing me or whatever it is you do. When I can think my own thoughts, I think you are disgusting." She paused, looking thoughtful. "Hm. Well... this is disgust. I'm still me."

"Yes," he sounded disappointed, "I can see you've built an immunity to my Charms." He drummed his fingers absently as his expression perked up. "I guess I will just have to win you over the old fashioned way. All I need is time..... and you have plenty of that!"

Kura licked her lips, wanting nothing more than to spit in his face. Her entire body tensed as she fought to keep from launching herself at his throat. "I hate you," was all she managed to safely get out.

"Yes." He said softly, his face suddenly much much closer than it had been moments before. "That is what you say."

Her eyes fluttered, caught off guard by his even more intruding presence. She took in a sharp breath, and felt a slight tingle in her body as her heart began to race for the first time in ages. She stared into his eyes for longer than she was comfortable with, but the thrill of feeling such a surge of emotion even though it was hatred of someone so wrong and vile, made her linger in the trap of his gaze. She was feeling something again.

"You want me here. You need me." His grin slipped.

Kura turned her head away from him, trying to push him away. "I have a husband. I do not want a lover."

"Forget the sex for now. Think about this- I am all that you have. The closest thing to a friend that you have. You are honest and open with me. With a little prodding, you even tell me how you feel. I can see it in the flush of your cheeks. There is an open door and a release on the other side of it. That, my dear, is because of me. You call it hate. I suspect it's something more akin to Mordikai. I'm the only one besides him that can make you feel. But either way, love or hate, it remains the same. If you make me leave, you will be all alone. A Fallen listening to your woes must still be better than the silence!"

She considered his words, her cheeks burning with fury. Even though it was through such a cheap emotion as anger, she felt connected to the girl she used to be. She felt the tingle of her soul when it awakened from a long sleep, aware for the what felt like the first time of an emotion other than guilt. "Stay," was all she said.

He tugged another strand of her hair, gleeful at his win. "So friend, lets get into trouble."

Her conscience bidding her silence, she uttered the words she had prayed she would choke on. "What have you got in mind?"
Kura watched Asriel's golden eyes light up at her response and she shot him a cynical look. "Don't get too excited. It's not going to be anything spectacular is it?"

Asriel allowed the strands of hair to fall from his fingers as he smirked. "As I said before, it's going to take some time before that little wall that you have built to protect yourself from the likes of myself comes crumbling down. In the meantime, we could actually attempt to get you out of the house for a change. I know you have to miss the outside world."

"How long have you been watching me this time?" Kura got up from the armchair she had been placed in and made her way down the hall towards her closet. Though she couldn't see where Asriel had gone, he was no longer in the living room, and she knew that he wouldn't be too far behind. The thought had barely crossed her mind when the voice hissed in her ear.

"Long enough. Your face is white as paper. I'm not complaining, though, since this way it's easier for me to tell when your cheeks are flushed." He snickered, and a pair of gold eyes watched her from the darkness of her closet. "I also saw the little argument you and Mordikai had. His new eye. You don't like it? I think it suits him rather well.." Kura slammed the door on top of him and stomped into her room, and with a little of the attitude from earlier, glared into the empty hallway warning him to stay out while she changed before closing the door.

After changing and brushing her hair out of the regular ponytail, Kura walked into the kitchen to see that Asriel had respected her warning. He was sitting at the table reading the paper. When he heard her footsteps, he glanced over the top of his paper and grinned. "You got a letter in the mail. I think you would be interested to read it."

"A letter? From who?" Kura could see the wax seal from the doorway. Asriel spoke from behind his paper.

"That was a quick reply." The blonde and the demon said the name in unison, "Shae."

Asriel folded the paper and slammed it on the table. "I think I know what we will be doing today."
Mordikai stood looming menancingly in the doorway to his living room, his expression livid. He'd gotten a call from the credit-card company about some very expensive plane tickets- first class for two. On a hunch, he'd gotten home as quickly as he could only to find the house empty and several rooms radiating an invisible residue which registered to his wonderous new eye. The tiny machine whirred and clicked away as it scanned through file after file of Unnatural beings. At last it found a match which displayed the details for a demon class alpha, subcategory charlie; a description he new all too well. A war of emotions played out across his face- rage, fear, hatred, dread, worry. All were present, and eventually he settled on annoyed disbelief. Whipping out his phone, he punched a few numbers and began barking commands.

"Captain MonDavi here. Yes. Pull the security footage for- you have it already? Excellent. She was with a man? What did he look like? Yes. Thank you. Do what you have to to get me on the next flight to London. Yes. Immediately. MonDavi out."

With the conversation over, he hurled the phone into the wall, shattering it into a million little shards of broken chips and electrical tidbits. "SAAAAAKUUUUUURAAAAA!!!!"


Asriel sat too closely to Kura, leaning over her arm rest clear into her line of sight, forcing her to lean into the window to get away from him.

"Excuse me! Could you give a girl some space?" She said trying not to let her irritation with him to make her scream.

He flitted his lashes innocently and said in his sweetest, not at all hushed, voice, "but the large hairy man next to me smells like he's wearing home-made cologne derived from rotting skunk carcus and cat vomit. Also, I'm pretty sure he called me 'sweet cheeks'. No, I will not move. Besides, I like it here... so close to you that I can hear your heart pounding."

Kura rolled her eyes. "Thank you, Asriel, for that unerasable mental image."

"My pleasure, doll." He cooed as he flashed a charmingly toothy grin. He bit his bottom lip gently as his eyes locked onto hers. "So, Kura, I have a question."

"What do you want?" She caught her breath nervously, knowing his questions never lead to anything good. She glared at him.

"Do you want my tantalizingly hot bod yet?"

Her face contorted into disgust. She sighed, put on her headphones, and closed her eyes.
A few hours passed before Kura yawned and opened her eyes. She almost wasn't surprised to see Asriel's head resting on her shoulder. Knowing full well that the demon was pretending to sleep until she woke up, she tried to compete in his game of pretend until his breathing on her neck became to much to handle. He knew she was awake. She grunted angrily and shoved him off of her and into the man sitting next to him, who glared at Kura.

"HEY! Would ya watch it, you little runt?! People are trying to sleep her-" He was soon choking on his words, or so it appeared. Asriel's face was completely taken over by the seriously dangerous demon that he truly was. He spoke in a low voice as the man coughed.

"You will be polite to the lady." He waited calmly for the man to nod before giving him his breath back. Kura scoffed and set her chin in her hand while looking out the window.

"You didn't have to make a scene. I'd prefer it if you didn't, since I'm sure Mordikai has the entire military looking for us by now, I'm sure."

Asriel grinned as he watched their destination grow closer through the window. "As long as we can manage to avoid them for the next little while.. I'm sure we'll be fine. We're here."
The fog was everywhere she could see and the heavy beast that sat on her chest wouldn’t budge. She gave a great heave and hoisted herself to her elbow, no matter the throbbing of her head. Looking around, Shae saw that she was alone so she knew that her beast had been imagined. The first breath since waking rushed swiftly into her lungs; they seized upon impact with the sterile hospital air. Hearing the beeps and clicks of the equipment beside her, it became apparent to the woman as she coughed and sputtered that she had not been breathing on her own.

The beast… it was just my chest aching for a natural breath. Reason was a sound tool for her calming. She struggled to remember what had happened- how she’d ended up in a hospital bed.

Surgery… I remember having surgery. On what?

The memories came flooding back in a series of images. There had been a vision of Kura cavorting with demons. Shae had told her fears to her therapist who did nothing other than tell the red-head she was hallucination. The psychic had not been willing to take any chances.

Oh god… I tried to escape. What was I thinking?

“Noooo…” She moaned to herself in disbelief. It sounded hoarse and raspy from however many days without actual food or drink being ingested. Her throat burned and the pounding in her head had upgraded to a deep drumming from within. Boom. Boom. BOOM. BOOM.

Surgery? Surgery…. What have I done? She struggled to sort through her memories, trying to remember how she’d ended up on this white slab. Then all at once, a milkshake-thick barrage of recollections threatened to overtake her consciousness.

The men in white found her climbing from her fifth story window down a rope made from stolen bed sheets. From the ground below they began yelling words that she couldn’t quite make out as the wind carried their voices away. Then something crashed into her, ( a bird maybe?), robbing her of a breath. Stunned and gasping, she could not have held to the makeshift rope any longer. Shae could remember the terror of seeing the distance between her and the window double, then triple, all in the blink of an eye. And then all was blackness.

The next memory to surface was only a glimpse of the bigger picture. One frame, frozen in her mind. A broad shouldered silhouette had blocked out the ungodly light from above. A haunting anamnesis of Dr. Baxster’s voice brought an explanation.

“Miss MonDavi, your escape attempt has left you with an injury. Nothing major, but you’ve been seriously concussed. We’re lucky. You took quite a fall- it could have ended much more horrifically. But to our dismay, we are going to have to take preventative measures in order to ensure your safety. We’re prepping you now for a surgical implant- it is a collar meant to inhibit your hallucinations.”

After that, the man above had reached over and grabbed something from a nearby table. Though the bright whiteness nearly had nearly blinded her, she remembered the thing looking something like a gas mask.

A gas mask… yes.. that’s precisely what it was. I was being anesthetized. Shae began to relax as her memories became more and more vivid. She closed her eyes and laid her head against the rest behind her, allowing the rest of the explanation to come back to her.

“Each time you have a “vision”, you will receive a jolt of electricity to your central nervous system. It will hurt. A lot. But put your mind at ease, we would never incur any life threatening injuries with a tool such as this. As I said, your safety is our highest priority. Shae, can you understand what this means?”
She had nodded. The next thing she remembered, she was waking up in this little room trying to make heads or tails of her situation. A peace washed over her as she lifted a shaking hand to touch the thin metal cord that was attached to her throat. How small it was, to be able to do the things the doctor has described to her.

Presently an attendant came with a wheel chair to take the patient back to her dorm. With a smile and a thanks, she allowed herself to be lifted into the chair and whisked away.
Sat sat in front of the window, gazing out at the cemetery below. Absently she toyed with the newest addition to her body.

“There she is!! Shae,” the all too familiar squeal came from behind, “you look awful!”

With horror spread across her face, Shae turned toward the door. Standing there as though they belonged were Asriel and Sakura, the latter looking distressed while the prior grinned ferociously.

“You…can’t…really be here.” Shae whispered through snow-white lips.

“Sure we can, love.” Asriel said warmly, as though the two were long lost friends.

Kura looked down the hall nervously. “Yeah well… it was hard as hell to sneak in here. But we found you!”

The older woman’s hands shook as they made their way to each side of her face. “My collar isn’t working. This is a hallucination.”

Kura sensed that something was terribly wrong. “…”

Then the red-head began to scream.
When the redhead in front of Kura started again, it only made sense for her to start screaming as well, which she did. The demon smacked his forehead with his palm before grabbing Kura by her shoulders and giving her a good shake.

"SAKURA. SHUT. UP. Shae's screams of terror may be my idea of a good dream, but yours is just annoying."

The fact that Kura really couldn't tell whether or not she had just been insulted was enough to keep her occupied while Asriel stepped across to Shae and covered her mouth. Despite Shae attempts to wrestle free, the the demon's strength proved to be unusually overpowering to her. By this time Kura had figured out that it was an insult, but had gotten over it. She quickly closed Shae's door behind her.

"Shae, we've gotta get you outta here. You look horrible! Just come with us!"

Asriel finally thought it safe to uncover her mouth, and Kura reached for Shae's hand to pull her out of her chair, but Shae yanked it away. "No, I can't. You're not real. M-My collar isn't working. I have to stay right here."

"C-collar? What?" Kura inspected Shae's neck closely. "What the hell is that thing?! What have they been doing to you here!?" She shot for Shae's hand again, and this time managed to grab it, pulling her up out of her chair. "Come on! We're leaving!"

"NO!" The redhead shrieked. "You're not real!"

Kura looked as if she was close to being in tears again. Asriel rubbed his chin thoughtfully before smirking and stepping in front of Shae, speaking in his normal, freakishly smooth tone.

"If we're not real, then why should it matter whether you come with us or not? This IS your imagination, after all, so why not daydream a bit. That nice collar of yours hasn't harmed you so far. Why not enjoy a short daydream with some old friends, hmmm? It will be fun."

"But.. the doctors.."

".. won't know if you don't tell them. They only seem like they know everything, love. We'll have you back before dinnertime." Asriel nodded to Kura, who tugged on Shae's hand once more. They took the few steps to the door quietly, but the second Kura touched the doorknob, Shae began screaming once again. Asriel snarled.

"Goddamnit! Shut it, will you?!" The demon covered her mouth again. "Kura, that handkerchief you had earlier. Where is it?" He held out his hand while Kura looked through her bag and retrieved it, then shoved it into Shae's mouth. "There. That should hold you for a second."

He looked around the room, and an evil grin spread across his face as he eyed the straightjacket in the corner.
Shae stumbled through the large stone hallways in a half-present daze; a thick fog of confusion weighed heavily on her now impaired judgment. Was she hallucinating from the endless supply of drugs she’d been pumped full of since arriving at this forsaken place? Was she stuck in some twistedly weird, longing dream? Ultimately she figured the two humanoid apparitions before her were a combination of the two choices, so for a while she simply went along with the demon’s schemes waiting to see what would come next. Her arms were pinned and her mouth was gagged, so stumbling along after and trying to make sense of the obscured visions before her was all she could accomplish anyway.

Shae watched in silence as Kura entertained herself (but of course the younger woman would have considered the behavior to be of the utmost importance) by pressing her back against the wall as hard as she could, trying to sink into it and stay clear from sight. At each turn, Kura would try to peak only one eye around. Asriel just sighed as he watched her actually stick the tip of her nearly glowing blonde head around. She would certainly have gotten them caught, but Asriel had taken it upon himself to glamour the two girls. Using his supernatural powers, he could feel approaching presences coming through the corridors. So whenever he needed Kura to avoid or make a certain turn. He simply cast a vision that matched the walls surrounding the group into the way as needed, and let their own eyes do the rest of the work. Kura nearly discovered his trick when she turned around too quickly to check on Shae (who was lazily half mimicking Kura’s wall pressing antics.) Kura’s hand flew through a fake wall, and Asriel cringed as he watched it flicker and momentarily show the true hallway behind her. She didn’t notice, and was satisfied with Shae’s spy work.

Finally the group made it into the grounds outside. It was dark and overcast, casting strange red lights wherever the sun managed to break through the thick clouds above. They could see the nice trimmed landscape that was nearly three acres wide. There were no shrubs or trees, simply freshly cut grass. A few benches with wads of planted flowers at each side were scattered about, but there were no true hiding places. On the other side of the several acres was a planted forest. The trees were old, but not so overgrown that one could not travel through it. The trio could not see the ten foot tall cast iron fence that waited half a mile away, on the other side of the wood.

They stood just outside the kitchen door, hunkering low to the ground behind a rose bush.

“Well, we can pretend we’re out for a stroll…. But we’ll have to take the jacket of her.” Asriel pointed over his shoulder with a thumb. “They don’t let the REALLY crazy ones outside.”

Kura removed the gag from Shae and began to unclasp the straight jacket. She opened her mouth to answer, but was interrupted with a sharp shriek from overhead. She cringed and covered her aching ears, but was still unable to block out the sound that came from everywhere. She noticed Shae and Asriel covering their ears as well.

“WHAT IS GOING ON?!?!” she yelled over the din.

Shae, whose head had finally begun to clear a bit, said coolly, “It’s the alarm. I know it well… even in my sleep.” And she smiled sweetly to herself, remembering her escape attempts in the recent past.

Asriel and Kura looked at each other with wide eyes. “Uh oh.” They said together.

“Alright, new plan. RUN for the woods!!” and before the two women could comprehend what he’d said, Asriel sprinted from the bush. Kura leapt to her feet and followed swiftly.

Shae sat and watched, chewing on a leaf that had been poking at her cheek. When another door further down the back of the building opened, Shae’s attention turned to the figure who stepped out.

“Oh. Now I’ve dreamed of Jim. How odd.” She shrugged and decided to shout hello.

Asriel and Kura heard her shout too. They turned.

“What is she doing?! I thought she was the smart one!”

“She’s too stoned to know better!” Kura cried apologetically. Then the two began a mad dash toward the left-behind. So did Jim. Luckily they got to her first, and each scooped her up by ther still bound arms and began to drag Shae along.

The dead woman flashed a smile over her shoulder at Jim and shouted, “No worries, I’ll be here in the morning!”

The space between them and the forest dwindled. Thunder ripped the air, but no lightning flashed. Shae’s head jerked upright, and all at once her mind cleared. The lightning that was absent in the sky suddenly shuddered through her body as her collar came to life. She doubled over, but managed to stay on her feet. Along with the searing pain came a vision. Her feet simply could not take another step, as she was so consumed with grief and pain.

“Kura….” She whispered.

Asriel and Kura had taken nearly three whole strides past her when thunder again tore through the air. This time the lightning flashed, and it showed a very clear vision of Jim pointing a pistol at the group. An instant later another crack of thunder, and with this one came a strange sound.

Kura gasped and fell to the ground.

Asriel turned then, knowing the strange sound all too well. It had been a silencer. His eyes began to burn with a flame of hatred when he saw his beloved’s face twisted in agony before she landed face-first in the dirt.

Finally the shock from the collar was over, and Shae stood up straight to watch in horror.

Asriel let out a guttural growl and ran back to the redhead. “GO!!!” He snarled. With a shove so powerful it whipped Shae’s head backward, he directed her toward the forest. Her feet didn't stopped moving again.

Asriel turned to face Jim.
As the demon’s eyes locked on Jim’s, the human became overwhelmed by an internal burning. The heat came unexpectedly and with a skin melting furiousness; it caused a weak whimper to escape from his large chest.

Asriel simply grinned wickedly. “Wrong move, human.”

He was uncertain why, but through the pain came a wave of terror. Something was very wrong here. He was left with this thought when his life ended.

Kura had rolled her head to the side at the sound of Asriel’s words. It seemed like she watched the scene before her play out for hours, but in reality it took less time than three beats of a butterfly’s wings.

Asriel had kept his human form, but for a moment his other dimensional body was also visible. Through the human visage she witnessed a beast with two large curving horns and long jagged claws rear back with its entire body and let out a ghastly howl. The oversized creature’s wail made no actual sound in this world, but Kura could feel the agony the silence carried. She shuddered, despite her pain. Then the hulking creature was gone. When her eyes found him once more, the clawed hands were covered in human blood. Asriel’s human form ripped at the dead man’s eyes, anxious to release his own turmoil on the corpse. The body still stood erect, spraying a rain of blood into the demon’s glossy white hair. As it began to fall, Asriel ripped the remain flesh off the head, threw it all to the side, and began furiously shredding the body. Arms were ripped from their sockets, legs splintered into pieces. When he finished, all that was left were bits of blood, bone, and flesh. Asriel panted and looked toward Kura.