Crimson Fate

In a world, where gods, demons, and humans have learned to co-exist, along with many more of the supernatural, Riku Cinder Sherwood must realize his fate to protect, become the guardian of the daughter of Devil Salem Nightingale, Selene Nightingale, whilst finding his own place in life.

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17. Chapter 16

Chapter 16

 

 

It did not seem like it, but the moon had only recently risen. Riku thought they must’ve been in that building for a while. Summer was closing in, so it didn’t get dark until later. He whipped out his cell phone from his pocket and flipped it open. The time read 9:27PM. He had no intention of staying out so late. Neither of them mostly likely didn’t. He slipped his phone back into his pocket. He spent the time walking back to Selene’s house for the past couple of blocks about how they could cover up Blair being a ghost girl. Which he sooner or later regretted, remembering Selene’s father was a demon lord of sorts. So a ghost girl shouldn’t be that big of a surprise. Riku stared at his feet as he walked in front of Selene and Blair, too deep in thought to pay attention to the oncoming light pole. He bumped his nose head on, creating a burst of snickering from the girls behind him. He turned with a scowl while rubbing his nose, but found himself unable to hold in his own chuckles. A drop of liquid plopped on Riku’s nose. He wrinkled up his nose in irritation and wiped it with his sweat shirt sleeve.

“It looks like it’s starting to rain.” Selene commented, casting her gaze up to the dark, cloudy sky. It didn’t start of pouring, or even a drizzle. Rain drops plopped randomly along the cement. Riku was rather fond of the rain. He enjoyed the feeling of it on his skin, on his face and even the smell it leaves behind on the cement and asphalt. He slowly in held the scent. He smiled, feeling at ease with the smell and feeling of the rain.  He couldn’t explain why he felt this way towards this weather phenomenon. As it weird as it sounds, he had the thought that it could be a repressed memory. If it were, it wouldn’t be the first memory. He had locked up memories of his own father. He had no clue what the man looked like. Or if he had even met him. Or has he met him? There was a hint of a past memory of a funeral. It could have been his father’s, but he had heard from his grandfather he had gone away. Riku was young at the time, and could’ve misinterpreted the words. These thoughts troubled him from time to time.

“Riku, is everything alright?” Selene had asked, striding up closer to him. He seemed distracted, or perhaps deep in thought. Riku let out a soft exhale. He rubbed his palm along his forehead, beginning to feel sharp pain in his mind. He had to sit down. His vision warped and became hazy. Flashes of black came from the corner of his eyes. He staggered left and right before finally falling back into a bench placed on the sidewalk, with the help of Selene. He leaned his back, feeling the cooler breeze and the cold rain pick up against his heated skin. He swiped sweat from his face with the back of his hand. He eased his heavy breathing and kept his eyes closed. Selene gazed next to her towards him with a concerned expression. She bit her lip, not knowing what was going on with him, or how to fix it. Riku opened his eyes. He blinked several times to reassure his vision.

“Sorry…it happens sometimes. I get that way if I think to hard about memories I don’t remember.” Selene tilted her head. She pulled her sleeve back from her hand and pressed it against his forehead. He was burning up. “Riku, you’re on fire! Why didn’t you tell me you were sick? I wouldn’t have allowed you to go!” Riku shook his head to try and erase the concern in her voice. Selene knew he was trying to merely shrug it off. She puffed her cheeks and stood with a stomp. Riku widened his eyes and curiously watched her stand form the cold wet bench. “No, Riku! This is serious! This weather won’t help if you have a fever! You need to sit down for a second.” Selene’s voice softened. It was as if she hated yelling at him. But it was necessary to get her point across to Riku. The tension in her body slowly left and her shoulders dropped, seeming more relaxed, but held her stern expression. Riku seemed too taken back to respond. He stared at her. Selene loosened up more. She stared him back dead in the eyes. It was as if timed stopped. Riku couldn’t feel the rain or the cool breeze. He was too focused on Selene and blocked out all noise. Selene did not know what to do. Her eyes had also become locked in Riku’s. Selene’s tension completely left. She straightened her posture and twiddled her thumbs before sitting back down beside Riku. Her sudden movement caused Riku to snap back to reality.

“As your mistress, I must say that you have to tell me these things.” Selene held her hands in her lap. Riku watched her fiddle with her fingers. He looked at his own hand in his lap. “Is that and order, ‘ma’am’?” Selene placed a finger on her lip. Her thinking face. “I could be.” She smiled innocently. Riku smiled softly back, but with a silent sigh. “Ever since I was little, I get like that. I have suppressed memories. I can’t remember key things in my life. Like I don’t even remember who my dad was, let alone what he looked like.” Selene gasped with her hand over her mouth. “That’s terrible! Have you brought it up before?”  Riku shook his head. “I try, but my mom always changes the subject, and my grandpa tells me nothing. Just samurai talk.” Selene could tell just talking about it somewhat saddened and made Riku frustrated. “Well, you know, you can always talk to me and my dad. You may be surprised about supernatural methods.” Selene giggled. Riku chuckled and rubbed the back of his head. “I’m not just saying it to show concern for my guardian. It’s because you’re my friend.” Riku could tell she was serious.  Red flushed across her face. She was embarrassed to have said what she did. But it only meant it was just as powerful. In fact, Selene had often spoken that way. When these more brooding situations appear, she often turns pretty philosophical.

“Mistress? I so you guys are more than boyfriend and girlfriend?” Blair peeked around a lamp post perched near the bench where Riku and Selene had been sitting. Riku and Selene both shuddered at her words. Their faces reddened. “Not like that! Mistress, as in my ‘boss’, I serve her!” Riku hastily spat out his words. Selene nodded swiftly in agreement to him. “Mistress as in I have authority over him!” Blair blinked and tilted her head, not seeming to understand. Her light gray hair rolled off and passed her shoulders. She stared at them curiously with golden eyes while still remaining behind the light post. “Which mistress were you thinking about? Who would teach you that?” Riku stood from the bench and crossed his arms. Blair whimpered and hid herself more behind the pole. “Riku, are you sure you should walk so soon?” Selene rose up beside him, holding his arm steady. Riku smiled over to her. “I’m fine now.” They turned their attention back to Blair. She remained her position behind the light pole. “I think she thinks you’re angry at her.” Selene pointed out. Riku felt guilty now. He didn’t intend to sound angry. Or make her feel that he was. “I’m not angry. Sorry, I guess I did raise my voice a tad.” Riku felt a bit of shame and rubbed the back of his head. Selene smiled as Riku owned up.

“We should head home now. Dinner is almost ready.” Selene offered her hand out to Blair. Blair eyed it for a moment. She slid her smaller, soft hand into Selene’s palm. “Your family eats this late?” Riku raised his eyebrow. He fallowed Selene down the sidewalk as she turned to lead the way to her house. “No, of course not, silly goose. I asked them to wait until I got back.” Selene gave him that bight, innocent smile she always wore. It was still unclear to him if it was an act or genuine. But his stomach cause a disturbance in the silence. “I take it you don’t mind.” Selene giggled. Riku flushed with embarrassment. “Well…I haven’t eaten since lunch at school.” He replied. Selene’s eyes widened slightly. “Oh my. Would you like to stay for dinner then?” she asked. Riku thought it might be best to return home so his mother wouldn’t have a heart attack. But that would mean going to bed hungry. He had overheard Salem and his grandfather talking before. He couldn’t make much out, but they most likely knew each other. There should be no harm in staying for dinner at Selene’s. “Sure, that sounds good to me.” Riku returned a smile to Selene, whose smile only seemed to brighten more.

The rain seemed to be in an on-and-off phase. And it grew darker. It mattered little, since they recognized the road leading up the sloped sidewalk. Blair whined the entire rest of the walk when they left from the bench Riku rested upon. He eventually ended up giving in and carrying her on his back. “She seems pretty comfy up there.” Selene commented while she walk close beside them to see Blair peacefully asleep. “Well, she ain’t as light as she looks…” Riku retorted. “I’m actually a bit jealous…you are comfortably warm.” Riku stopped in awe and eyed her. It took a moment for Selene to realize what she had said. “N-no, I didn’t mean to…oh! Please forget I said anything! Again…” Selene tightly shut her eyes and she looked like a cowering radish. Riku sighed. But he felt he could never feel angry or irritated at her. She seemed so fragile and innocent. He shook his head and nodded up towards a convenient store. Riku recognized it as the one he usually bought his lunches at on days when his mother did not prepare on herself.

A familiar shape exited the automatic sliding doors with two or so plastic bags in each hand. Esther hummed a little tune while striding out of the store and turning down the side walk. “Hey, it’s Esther.” Riku said. Selene beamed with anxiousness and began to bound towards her, waving her hand, but Blair grabbed her sleeve and shook her head. “Wait! Don’t go to her yet…” Riku had let her down from his back and he and Selene eyed her curiously. She did not looked as alive as and cheerful as previous. She was hiding. Cowering behind Selene. Her face quivered. “But why not? We know her. She lives with Selene.” Riku stated rather sternly. Blair shook her head. “I-It’s just hard…because…that girl is my sister.” It felt as if the atmosphere became even more silent in the night. Of all the people. In the world. It was Esther. A rather unlikely or perhaps surprising suspect. Maybe it is as they say; the world truly is a small place.

“No way! Esther is?!” Riku was astonished. To say the least. “But how can you be so sure?” Selene knelt down to match Blair’s height. “Because. She always wished it.” That was all she said. Both Riku and Selene looked at one another but neither could be sure if Blair was mistaken or not. Or what her words meant. Could Esther really be Blair’s sister?  There was really only one way to find out. But to suddenly ask if Blair was her sister right out of the blue wouldn’t be very subtle. It was decided to wait until at least dinner to bring a sort of question up. They managed to catch up with Esther in no time. Partly because she had spotted them trying to catch up behind her. For a frail looking maid, she seemed to have some leg strength. It somewhat made Riku question if she was human or not. It was never mentioned if she was one of the three main races that inhabit their world. He decided to store the question in his ‘for later’ folder in the back of his brain, possibly never to be remembered again.

“Oh! You came to join us for dinner, after all!” Salem grinned widely at Riku and Selene once lead into the house by Esther who swiftly traveled into the kitchen to continue cooking whatever belonged to the delicious smell that took over the room. “We are having Italian marinated chicken with chicken herb rice and cooked carrots!” Esther announced from the kitchen. Riku’s eyes widen and his stomach trembled at the mere thought of digesting something so delicious sounding. “Wow, sounds incredible!” Riku sounded flabbergasted. “Esther is an amazing cook, after all!” Selene grinned and removed her sweater, the heat inside the house feeling nice and relaxing. Riku removed his own sweatshirt and sighed in relief. They didn’t actually see a real ghost. He didn’t quite believe Blair could be a real spirit. But then again, he did live in a world that was living with both Gods and Demons in peace. But that didn’t necessarily confirmed a life after death. Plus, she was touchable. When Selene held her, she didn’t faze through her, and her body didn’t seem translucent. Maybe that was just a ghost’s stereotypical body.  

“Ah, I see you brought a new friend, too!” Salem nodded to Blair. Blair shyly hid behind Selene. Salem kneeled down to not remain so tall and scary to the little girl. “My name is Salem, Selene’s Papa!” he offered out his hand. “Daddy, you’re embarrassing me…” Selene sighed with deep red cheeks. Selene shook her head to get out of her daze and reminded herself of the reason why Blair was present in the household in the first place. “Actually, father, Blair is a friend and she needs a place to stay for a tad.” Selene asked with an innocent smile and tone. “Her parents are out of town!” Riku swiftly added, having expected Selene to forget to add a back-story on why she was staying. Salem rubbed his chin while nodded. He stood back up straight and gave them all a grin. “Why don’t you show Blair to the guest room while Esther finishes up dinner!” Selene nodded and smiled down at Blair, who only shyly gave her a small smile. She fallowed Selene along with Riku to the guest bedroom just up the stairs and down the hall to the right. Selene’s room was left and a bit further up the hall. The guest room was nothing to fancy or special. Standard colored walls. A nice bed big enough for at least two people with bed covers fit for any gender, not gender specific.

“Well, here we are.” Selene said softly and smiled, holder her hand out to gesture to the nice looking room. Blair stared around the room for a moment. She shook her head and clamped her arms around Selene’s leg. “No! I want to stay in your room! Your Demon royalty? That will save me from the bad one!” Again with the Bad One. She was just a child, so it was easy to shrug it off as one of the monster-under-the-bed scenario. Selene gave Blair a reassuring smile. “Don’t worry, Riku’s my guardian. So I can order him to protect you too!” Blair tilted her head. “You’re one mistress with high expectations, aren’t ya?” Riku set his hand on his waist. Selene tilted her head and watched Riku curiously. “I’m sorry? Did that sound demanding?” It was like she didn’t even know she said anything. Riku just let it slide with a sigh. “Well, alright. You can stay in my room.” Blair beamed and danced around Selene’s legs.

It wasn’t long after that, that Esther announced the completion of dinner. The three upstairs trotted down to the kitchen table. The entire atmosphere of the house reeked of fantastic food. A chicken breast layered in Italian dressing sat on each plate. On the sides a serving spoonful of chicken flavored herb rice and cooked carrots with a sprinkle of dill. “Wow, this looked amazing!” Riku was fascinated as he pulled back his chair to take a seat. Esther raised an eyebrow and giggled. “Have any interest in the culinary arts?” She asked. Riku pointed to himself, making sure it was him she was talking to. “I catch you peeking at me in the kitchen to watch how I make the dishes. I think I have even seen you take notes.” Esther put her finger to her cheek. Riku felt flustered. He didn’t it was that noticeable or thought he was being very subtle about it. He embarrassingly rubbed the back of his neck, not quite sure of the correct words to respond with. “W-well…” There was quite a long pause between Riku’s answer. Selene eyed him curiously. “My mom isn’t too great of a cook! So someone has to learn.” Riku laughed and rubbed the back of his neck. Selene felt as if this wasn’t right. His expression right before he answered. She saw it. It wasn’t a thinking face, or really a happy one. But sad, and lonely.

“How is it, Blair?” Esther gave Blair a gentle smile, the kind of look you give when talking to a toddler. Though, it did fit as Blair acted younger than she appeared. Blair beamed up a large smile and nodded fiercely. Esther smiled back. Blair widened her eyes and gazed at Esther. Esther noticed a few pieces of rice on her rosy cheeks so similar to hers and wiped them off with a napkin. Riku frowned. Was Esther really Blair’s sister? The way Blair looks and behaves towards her makes it seem like a possibility, but wouldn’t Esther also know and at least recognize her? It didn’t make much sense, and seemed like a hassle for Riku to think about with his limited brain data and slow processing speed. The sound of dishes clanking and rummaging around in the sink snapped Riku out of his daze. Selene waved her hand in front of his face. They were sitting on the couch, Uno cards stacked on the coffee table in front of them and sprawled out in their hands. Everyone seemed to be gawking at them. “Earth to Riku! Hey, its your turn silly!” Selene held Riku’s nose until he could process he couldn’t breathe. He shook himself free and gasped. “Sorry!” he exclaimed, catching his breath. Examining reality closer, it reoccurred to him he had no idea how to play Uno. But by the look of things, they haven’t quite started. Selene eased her hand down, eyeing him worriedly.

Riku was thoroughly embarrassed at his performance in Uno. He sighed and ran his hand through his black hair. “I suppose I should get going.” His voice was soft and quiet. Selene peeked around the corner. She huffed and dashed to his side. “I’ll walk him home!” She announced. Riku blinked, confused. Wasn’t it his job to do that? Not like he had a say as Selene dragged him outside. It was just about dark out, a light mist of rain hitting their faces upon exit. Selene continued to notice the look in Riku’s eyes. As if he regretted going home, preferring not to. Selene puffed her cheeks, feeling agitated at the silence. “You’re eyes look best at night.” She leaned forward slightly as to get a better look at Riku’s hazel eyes, looking darker, greener in the night. Riku glanced at her, having a hunch it was just something to break the silence. “I’ve notice they are more green, I suppose. Not that I’m complaining, it is my favorite color.” Riku chuckled softly and shrugged. “Yours seem to shine brighter at night too.” Riku smiled softly. Selene blinked, as if trying to see her own eye color or something silly. Her Violet eyes shined off the oncoming moonlight.

“Are you troubled?” Selene finally broke and asked. Riku immediately turned to face her. She gazed down at her school sneakers she slipped on instinctively since school is normally where they walk together. Riku swallowed, seeming quite hesitant. Selene felt frightened, fearing Riku would scold her. “N-not particularly…” Another pause. “I guess Esther and Blair do seem like they could be sisters.” That response was quicker. Selene stared then nodded slowly. “I suppose when Blair is ready, she’ll tell us more. I can see what she’ll say tonight?” Selene twirled around to stop in front of Riku right outside his house. Riku nodded. “I’m usually the one walking you. But thank you.” He replied. Selene cocked her head. “So? I wanted to make sure you’ll be ok on your way home. I’ll be fine by myself, I just have to scream and daddy will come running!” Selene giggled, seemingly highly proud of her dotting father. Riku smiled but shook his head. “Well, tell your mom I said hi! And well…goodnight too, I suppose!” she smiled brightly and lightly jogged up the side walk. Riku went silent, slowly stopping his waving.

His house was dark. The only source of the was a small lamp lit on a night table next to one of the chairs in the living room. He kicked off his shoes and glared around. Selene’s last words before she ventured off home rang in his hears. He hastily walked upstairs. And opened his draw from the small desk beside his bed and pulled out a small bottle. A prescription of depressant pills. He pressed and twisted the cap open with his palm and tapped out two pills which he was supposed to take daily. Supposed to. He eyed them before grabbing an already opened can of orange pop that had been sitting there since the previous night and downed them. He let out a struggled breath. Selene’s words continued to echo in his ears, accompanied by the presence of a photo that slipped out from underneath one of his books. It was of him, his mother and grandfather. He clenched his fist. His hands began to shake and he pounded the desk, nearly spilling the can of pop. He furiously slammed his fasts on the wood top desk, tears streaming swiftly from his eyes. He began to use his head to pound as well. He gripped the prescription bottle tightly in one hand. I’m going crazy, he thought. Taking too many pills has alerted his sense of reality. From about the week he first met Selene, it had severely effected him. The scenes he had with his mother and grandfather. Or he thought he had. It was not real. None if it had happened. He had hallucinated everything. Talking to apparitions of his mind. Was he truly on the verge of insanity? This had happened before, but it was brief. He had also attempted and overdose twice. To be fair, his mother and grandfather were truly present at the time of the incident at the mall. But not since or before. Mother always overseas, always working. Grandfather never home. At the old dojo, perhaps out drinking, and when he is home, very short term, same with his mother, but never leaves his room.

Riku chucked the prescription bottle at the wall, the cap popping off and pills scattering along the floor. The fell to the ground. He tossed himself around before crawling hastily along the floor to the spilt pills , he gather as many as he could and aimed them towards his mouth. Always alone. Suffering. No love. No one. These thoughts pressed him on to attempt to drowned himself in the pills. A tiny voice in his head exclaimed “You don’t want this!” and he gripped the pills, his demon strength almost turning them to powder, and lurched forwards and drove his head into the floor. He howled and balled, confused, conflicted on what was real anymore.

“Riku!” Cross dashed into the room. He bent Riku back by the shoulders. He forced his palm opened and brushed away the pills and pill powder. Riku shook somewhat violently in Cross’s arms, seeming to stare into a void. Cross was the one who had stopped Riku from overdosing those times. He had promised his mother to check up on him from time to time as they were college friends. “Riku, I need you to focus! Focus on me, the here and now!” Riku’s wailing quieted down to sniffles. His thrashing must have made him exhausted. He was soon passed out in Cross’s arms. Cross let out a sigh of relief and placed Riku in his bed. He pulled the covers over him and picked up the mess Riku left on the floor. Cross eyes Riku. “Kanna…I’m afraid it has gotten worse…is there no hope for him to walk away from this life?”

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