Noah stumbles backward, unable to believe what he’s seeing. Just a few seconds ago Ouran was Ouran, but now she’s like someone else. The face is still the same, but everything else, including her body is different. Looking at her more closely, he can see that her previously flat chest appears to have grown a bit and the rest of her looks much more feminine in this form, where his usual form looks more manly. He wants to ask so many questions, but before he can, there’s a sudden crash behind Ouran.
“Aw! Here I was hoping that I’d finally catch you off guard for a change Ouricchi, how disappointing.”
Ouran turns her attention to what appears to be a boy who’s similar to her and grins. “As if you could. What are you doing here Jove?” The boy wears a devilish grin, but also has a very playful demeanor.
“How rude Ouricchi, are you saying you’re not happy to see me? I personally volunteered to come fetch you when Lady Simone was thinking of sending Karis instead. I saved you that nightmare, so you should be thanking me. Instead here you are frolicking around with your BOYFRIEND here. Humph.”
As Jove gives Noah the evil eye, Noah can tell how much animosity he has for him. He also notices that although he looked like a guy at first glance, he could pass for a girl in some lights as well, especially with his mannerisms. Noah also notices that although they look exactly the same for the most part, but opposite of Ouran, Jove’s wings are white on top and black underneath. His clothing also has swapped colors. However, the slit eyes, tiara and other physical characteristics are the same. The only other thing that stands out in distinction is his single green eye on the left, where his right eye is red just as Ouran’s is. Noah finally connects the dots and realizes that Jove is the same as Ouran, he’s a Reaper as well.
“Oh please, as if Karis would ever pose a threat to me, he’s just a loser who likes to pretend he’s a bad ass so he can get in favor with our Lady and be praised. His bark is bigger than his bite, especially in relation to me. I’d wipe the floor with him ten times over. So thanks, but you really didn’t need to bother. Also, Noah isn’t my boyfriend…well not yet anyway. He will be eventually though.”
“No way! He’s just a dumb Mutt, you’re way out of his league. I on the other hand am just right.”
Noah doesn’t really know what’s going on, but he’s sure that he was just offended. “I’m not a Mutt!”
They turn and look at him, surprised by his sudden outburst, looking as though they just remembered he was actually there. “Oh it speaks. My apologizes, I should make myself clearer. You’re a naive Mutt.” Noah clenches his fists and Jove just smirks, enjoying the game of poking fun at him. He’s got no mercy for anyone who threatens his chances to win Ouran over. He was doing well before he came around.
“Enough already Jove, you really are such a child, that’s exactly why I’m not interested. I want a man.”
“Oh and he is? Just how manly would he be once he saw you as your true self. He’d be disgusted!”
“Actually you’re wrong, he wouldn’t. He’s already seem me as I am and he didn’t get freaked out at all. He even said it was awesome. He’s not so superficial that he only looks at my physical appearance. He may not be interested in being with me at the moment, but it’s got nothing to do with how I look. I just haven’t charmed him enough yet. So your interference really pisses me off!” She charges Jove.
Jove sucks his teeth and then grips his saber. “I admire your determination, but don’t think that means I’m going to give up on you. I’m just going to work even harder. I’ll start by beating you and proving my worth.” He swipes up just as Ouran’s saber is barreling right towards his face and when the two beams connect, there an explosion of light between them that illuminates the cavern with a spectacular show. Once again Noah finds himself blinded by its brightness. He backs away from them quickly.
“What’s the deal with you crashing in on us like this? If our Lady sent you to fetch me, then a simple summons would’ve sufficed. You always have to do things so extravagantly as if I’ll be impressed.” As Ouran says this, they continuously clash sabers and flit around the cave in impressive speed.
“If I didn’t do things in such an extravagant way you’d totally ignore me. Our Lady told me not to come back without you, so I have to bring you to her. Can’t you work with me just this once?” He blocks.
“Listen, I’m grateful to our Lady for taking me in when I was alone, but I have no intention of joining her ranks. I’m a Reaper in name only, I don’t intend to embrace it or answer my “calling”. I just want to live a simple life with someone I love and if I can’t have that, then I’d rather just be alone.” She dodges.
“That’s such a miserable life! We already have eternity to live, you’d really say that you want to live it alone? I know it seems unfair, but there’s nothing we can do about it. We were born Reapers, our duty-.”
“Don’t talk to me about duty! I never asked to be born a Reaper! Who would ever ask to be born as an asexual freak who’s only a silhouette of a human? We can’t be individuals, we can’t reproduce, we can’t die, all we can do is chase after the dead and make sure they stay dead or liberate those who still have time. That’s all we exist for, it’s our only purpose! If you think that’s any less lonely than keeping to myself and living as I wish, then you’re only fooling yourself. I’m not going to be just another Reaper drone!” Having gotten very riled up, Ouran jumps into the air, taking flight, and with a powerful thrust, she strikes Jove with the saber, making him cry out in pain and he falls to the ground. He wriggles on the ground, making Ouran feel a bit guilty, but not that much. “Now that you understand, go home.”
Ouran walks away from Jove and looks at Ouran, who seems very shaken from what he just witnessed. As Ouran approaches, Noah looks up and with a shaky voice says, “What…just…happened?”
Ouran laughs and with a sudden flash, Ouran is Ouran once again. “I guess that must’ve surprised you huh? I know I still have a lot to explain, so what do you say we do it over some good grub? I’m starving!” Ouran reaches out his hand and Noah takes it, getting to his feet. “Let’s go.”
Ouran continues walking in the direction of the city, completely ignoring Jove who continues wriggling on the ground groaning. Noah feels guilty about just leaving him there. “Hey Ouran, what about Jove?”
Ouran looks back nonchalantly. “What about him? I’ve said what I needed to say to him. He’s a big boy and can handle himself.” He continues walking, having nothing more to say. He’s surprisingly cold.
Noah doesn’t want to care and he definitely doesn’t want to involve himself in other people’s business, but at the same time, he can’t help but feel heartless walking away just like that. He outstretches his hand, offering to help Jove up. Jove looks at it in disgust. “I’m not going to touch your hand Mutt!”
He leans away from Noah, making it very clear that he’s disgusted by him and like a switch, Noah suddenly feels his temper flare. However, he keeps his emotions in check by turning them off. “Whatever. I was just trying to help.” He turns and runs after Ouran. “Hey, wait up!”
Jove watches as they walk away in total anger. Yet, he suddenly starts to feel tears streaming down his face. “You’re so mean sometimes Ouricchi. Why won’t you love me? What do I have to do?” He mutters these words as he lies on his back crying, thinking that they were too far away to hear them.
However, Noah could hear them clearly and found himself empathizing with him. He even thinks about encouraging Ouran to go back for him, but then he quickly decides that it’s not his problem and that he needs to stay out of it. He won’t let himself succumb to his emotions. He vowed that night that he wouldn’t let his emotions hurt him ever again and the only way to do that is to turn them off for good.
They quickly make their way into Tourer Kenai and to the Inn they visited their first time there. Sheila greets them as always and even brings them to their regular spot. As they follow her, Noah scans the Inn, looking for any signs of Rachel. He’s done every time they come here, in the hopes that she would be present. However, to his not surprise, she’s nowhere to be seen. In fact, she’s been nowhere to be seen since that night they ran into each other. She never came back to the school either after that. He knows he should just give it up already, it’s been a month after all, but no matter how much he tries, he without fail looks for her every time, as if on instinct. Sometimes he even wonders if it was all a dream.
“Earth to Noah!” Noah snaps back into reality at hearing his name. He sees Ouran staring at him.
“Sorry, did you say something?” Ouran gives him an amused look and then responds seriously.
“Look, I get it, you’ve loved her since you were kids, but never told her how you felt and then it was too late. You thought you’d never see her again since you believed she was dead, just to find out 6 years later that she’s alive and well and is a Junsui like you, but your evil brother has her under his control. It’s seriously sad and I feel for you, I really do, but as your friend I have to tell you, it’s time to let it go. First loves always stay with us and hurt like a bitch once they’re gone, but they rarely come back to us. It’s best to stand tall with whatever pride we have left and look towards the future and someone new.”
“Is that what you’re doing with me? Are you trying to move on from your first love with me or is it that you trying to convince yourself to let go?” Noah is smug as he watches Ouran’s expression change.
“Touché Noah, Touché. The truth is…it might be a bit of both. You are my first love Noah, I would’ve thought that’d be clear to you and it’s true that I’m trying to move on from you, but try as I might to take my own advice, I just can’t see a future without you in it, other than being alone and lonely.”
“Well maybe you don’t have to be. I could only follow your conversation so much, but it seemed like Jove really does care about you and his offer to join with the others like yourself seems like it might be nice. Even if you don’t like him that way, having friends to pass the days with can definitely make for a more enjoyable life than being alone. Even if the friends are totally different from you, just being with them helps time pass by quickly, rather than as slow as it would seem when you’re alone and have no one to distract you from it. Even if you choose to keep to yourself, just knowing their right outside your door if you needed them is enough to make life worth living.” Noah finds himself surprised at his words.
Ouran raises his eyebrows. “Are you still talking about me Noah or are you trying to convince yourself? Sounds to me like you might like your team a bit more than you let on.” He smirks knowing he’s right.
Noah turns red in embarrassment realizing that he did seem to be talking fondly of the others. He may care about them a bit more than he initially thought, though it’s understandable considering they’ve all basically spent the last four years of their life growing up together in the most important period of their lives. They may fight and argue and have unnecessary drama, but at the end of the day, he takes comfort in knowing they’re there and in the times that they do all socialize together. Noah finally realizes that before they even knew it themselves, they’d come something of a family, as odd as they may be. He can’t help but smile at his sudden revelation and suddenly finds himself feeling guilty for the things he said to them a month ago. He makes a mental note to make up with them once he’s back home.
“Tobias, sing us a song! My wife just left me and I’d like to forget about her. Would ya?” Noah turns his attention to a man’s voice at a nearby table. He’s got beet red skin and eyes, black hair and wings and a black unicorn horn coming out of his head. A couple of others are with him and they look very similar, just with a few variations in horn sizes, shapes and other physical aspects. They must be demons.
Noah turns to Ouran and says, “Hey, so are those demons?” Ouran looks at him and smiles.
“Good eye. Yes, those are demons. See the difference? Lamia look nothing like demons. In fact, all us Bakemon look fairly distinct depending on what our species is. You’ve seen how I look now too.”
“Yea, actually I’ve been wondering, is the way you and Jove look common among reapers? Other than the color swapping, you two looked exactly the same minus your left eyes and his white hair.”
“You really do have a good eye. It’s exactly like you said. Reapers all look pretty much the same, coming in only two variations, those like me and those like Jove. Although there are those like me that don’t choose, typically, those who look like Jove are considered men and those who look like me are considered women. This is because in our true Reaper forms as I’m sure you noticed, the white-haired reapers like Jove tend to look like guys and the black haired reapers like me tend to look like girls, as our bodies do morph a bit when we transform from our human form to reaper form and vice versa. So it naturally follows too that we’d look more like the opposite gender in our human forms, hence why I look so much like a guy to you in this form right now. However, genetically we are exactly the same, all having both genitals and no reproductive organs, so none of us are truly boy or girl, we just are.”
“Wow, that sounds really complicated and interesting at the same time. So how do you differentiate between one another if you all fall into one of those two forms? Isn’t that pretty tough to do?”
“That is indeed our biggest dilemma, hence why I say we can never really be individuals. Sure, we all have our individual names and Reaper law requires all of us to be registered within the database with that distinct name that no other reaper is permitted to have and that’s ultimately how the officials can separate us, but when it comes to telling each other apart when we don’t know names, it’s tough. I guess we all try and style our hair or wear distinct clothing in our human forms and our left eye can vary, but in our reaper forms, it’s almost impossible to tell us apart, so we’re required to wear badges around our necks. Well those who are registered in the database anyway. I’m not so I’m not well known to those outside of Jove and Lady Simone, our leader. That’s why she keeps pestering me, she wants me to become a registered reaper and join her legion of Reapers, but I keep refusing her. She took me in when I had no one else, but I still refuse to conform to the masses. I don’t want to stop being me.”
Noah can see that Ouran really wants to maintain her identity, but struggles because of the outside pressures of her leadership and her desire to conform to a way that would make Noah interested in her, but now that he understands his true desires, he’s going to insist even more so that he stays true to herself and not change for anyone regardless of what anyone says. Before he can though, Ouran says,
“Awesome, Tobias agreed to sing! This is gonna be really cool, so pay attention.” Ouran quickly does just that and watches a man come from behind the bar and up on to the stage. He’s got pink skin, blue eyes, orange hair and a matching beard on the tip of his chin. He holds the microphone in his hands.
“Good evening everyone. As many of you know my name is Tobias. I’m very happy to see all our familiar faces here tonight and to our new faces, I welcome you and invite you to join in the relaxation as I sing away our brother Jurak’s pain. I hope you will find it satisfactory.” He takes a breath and sings.
“On the breezy night of the 5th of May, Jurak found love in a splendid place. A beauty, yes she was, made his heart sing to the stars above. Liras was a troubled soul, looked for someone to ease her pain, yes that was her goal, but love him, no it wasn’t the same. Of course at that time he did not know, so the story went as the story goes. They fell in love, married and had kids, ten long years they worked, they did. But now she tells him she’s going to leave, a knife through the heart, yes indeed. Jurak’s pain just grows and grows, where she’s gone he does not know. No worries, no fear, now that he’s here, I’ve got this song just for him to hear. Tonight when he goes to sleep, the last ten years, yes they were all a dream. He'll wake up refreshed within his bed and his heart will be ready to love again.” He bows.
Noah finds himself feeling extremely relaxed and at ease, to the point that he doesn’t even remember what was worrying him. He turns to Ouran, who’s looking at him smiling. “Feels nice doesn’t it?”
“What happened? Why do I feel like I don’t have a care in the world? I feel so at ease and peaceful”
“Tobias happened. He’s a siren, so that’s what they do. They relax people to the point their troubles fade away, well for a period of time. Only those who they specifically target will actually forget a memory.”
“What do you mean? Forget a memory? How does that work? Is it hypnosis? Also a siren? But he’s-.”
“I know your human history says sirens are mermaids who lure sailors to their death, but that’s not true. They can be merman as well and they don’t live to kill people. They actually want to help people by making them forget whatever pains or worries they may have. They have the ability to alter memory simply by singing a song like you just heard. For all of us, we’ll just feel relaxed as a residual effect, but Jurak was the actual target. As Tobias sang, he really will forget his wife by morning when he wakes.”
“Woah, that’s kind of heavy, but also very convenient. It must be wonderful to be able to forget pain like that so easy.” Noah finds himself thinking about his own troubles as he questions if he would be willing.
Ouran can see him in deep thought, understanding exactly what he’s thinking, but he says, “I’d advise against it. Yes, you’d forget the pain of losing your family, but you’d also lose all the precious memories you had with them. You want to forget that one night, but do you really want to forget they ever existed? You see, as great as their power can be, it can also be very damaging as well. To forget that one night, you’d have to forget you ever had your family at all. You’d lose all your memories of them and anything connected to them. They do not have so much control that they can pick and choose what stays and goes. It’s like wiping your system of the entire family program, you have to remove it all, not just bits and pieces. The first 12 years of your life will just be a huge hole of nothing, since your family was with you all those years. You’d forget about Rachel too, since she was a part of that timeline as well. It’d be like meeting her here would’ve meant nothing to you because you wouldn’t know her. So I suppose in that aspect it might be worth it for you, since it seems like she’s a memory you’d be happy to forget if you could. Basically Noah, all magic, powers or whatever, comes with some price. Remember that.”
He’d never really thought about it, but would he be willing to forget everything about his family if it meant forgetting that pain? Could he even do it? Even if he did, would he truly be happy? These are all questions Noah ponders, but his thoughts are interrupted by Sheila bringing them their food.
“Alright you two, here we are. For you Ouran, your normal meat pie and ale. For you Noah, I’ve got raw prime BEEF sirloin with mash and freshly donated blood from the local bank. Please enjoy.”
They thank her and then dig in. Noah was still devastated about having eaten human meat for a while and he resisted against it, however as Ouran said, he couldn’t be satiated with animal meat and blood anymore and he was getting sick. So they finally figured out a solution. They discovered that it was sufficient if he ate raw beef and drank ample human blood. He wasn’t excited about drinking the blood of the poor humans they killed, so he compromised by using blood from the blood bank nearby normally used by the Vampir. He still hated that they used the humans born from the Bakemon as genetic mutations as their personal supply of human meat for commercial use, but he knew that his humanity was not welcome here. He had to remind himself that these people are not really people at all. Everyone in this city is some sort of supernatural being and not human, so their morals would be different. He can’t say that he hasn’t felt the pull of his beast side since he started coming here and sometimes has to stop himself from desiring the flesh of the academy students, which is why he’s been isolating himself. He’s sure he’ll have to deal with that sooner or later, but for now he’s just getting by. As long as he gets his weekly fix here with Ouran, everything should be fine. At least that’s what he had hoped….
Somewhere beneath the surface, Lord Silas sits in his throne room. Beneath him at his feet, two young Junsui women rest their heads, wearing nothing but tattered gowns and their feet are chained down. “Silas-sama, please use us as you will. Please let us service you in the best way we can. Silas-sama!”
Silas grins at the desperate pleas of his slaves, so depraved of self-worth that they cannot bear to be without his touch for long. “Silence you Stellots! You must wait your turn. If you are so desperate, then relieve each other, I must attend to some other business.” He stands, snatching his feet away from them and knowing that he’s not going to give them any attention now, they do just as he suggested and begin to pleasure each other. He looks back in a devilish excitement to see how worthless they’ve become and then exits his throne room. At his side is Lazarus, his most trusted advisor and personal guard.
“My Lord, I’ve received a new report from our informant in the city. It appears Helios is still insistent on abstaining from human flesh and only drinks donated blood. It also seems Ouran had a minor-.”
“I don’t give a shit about Ouran’s activity as long as it’s not interfering with my plans. However, I need Helios to begin a proper diet if he’s ever going to reach my level. It appears it’s time to play my next card in our little game.” He approaches a large door guarded by minotaur servants. “All of you be gone.”
“Yes my Lord at once.” Lazarus and the guards quickly leave him as Silas steps into the room. It’s a large bedroom and in its center there’s a large bed. A woman with turquoise hair down her back, dressed in a night gown lies face down, but she turns her back to him once he enters to his amusement.
“My, aren’t we in a mood today and I bring such good news too. You’ll soon see your beloved.” This immediately makes her turn in attention to his annoyance. “Goodness, please don’t make it so obvious.”
“Noah? You’ll let me see him?” Her strap falls down her shoulder and Silas quickly notices, grabbing it.
“Mm yes, I suppose I will, but you know you’ve got to do something for me first right?” He smirks.
Her face changes into a look of disgust, but she doesn’t resist. “Do as you wish; I can’t stop you.”
He kisses her shoulder and then her neck, but then he sits up and fixes her strap. “No worries my dear, I will not have my way with you today. It’s no fun if you don’t resist. No, there’s something else I need.”
“What would that be? I won’t hurt him. If it’s that you should just kill me now.” She’s defiant and fiery.
“Mm, now that’s what I like to see.” He grabs her chin. “Understand I can have you anytime I wish!” He kisses her and then lets her go. “But for now, all I need from you is to go back to work and take care of Noah, simple as that.” With a smirk he stands and leaves as she cries softly. “See you soon Rachel.”