“Ohhhh!” Mia shouts in excitement as she twists around to see everything. She holds Noah’s hand as she does this, the two of them standing in the center of Hokkaido City, where the portal let them out. She does her best to take in all the tall buildings illuminated in the darkness, the fast cars zooming by and the hundreds of people walking along the sidewalks, but all the busyness leaves her a bit overwhelmed, causing her to squeeze Noah’s hands tighter.
“No need to be scared, I’m right here. I know it’s a lot, you’ll get used to it in no time.”
“It’s not that I’m really scared, it’s just so…busy. Compared to the small town of the Underworld that had simple buildings, no cars and only a few people walking around, this is like a circus! Also….” She looks down at her dress. “I think this dress might be a bit out of place. I think people are looking at me strangely because of it. And….” Suddenly, there is a loud grumbling and Mia clutches her stomach. “I think I might be…hungry?” She looks confused.
Noah can’t help but laugh out loud. “I guess this is your first time feeling real hunger isn’t it?” Mia looks away, embarrassed. “Hey, don’t be embarrassed, it’s only natural. To be honest I’m feeling pretty hungry myself. As for your dress, I think it’s pretty. If they’re staring, it’s because you’re so beautiful.” Noah sees her blush and he suddenly realizes what he just said and blushes too. “Uh, I mean….” He looks at his watch. “It’s only 7, so how about I show you around the city? We can stop at a clothing store to get some casual clothes and grab some food. Getting out and exploring is the best way to learn about the city and all it’s got to offer.”
Mia can see he’s trying to hide his embarrassment and she laughs. “Ok, I’d like that.”
“Sweet, then let’s start by going-.” Before he can finish, a portal appears briefly and Nik comes running out of it. Of course only they noticed it. “Hey Nik, you’re back already? We were just going to….” Noah realizes Nik isn’t even looking their way and runs right past them. Noah is able to catch a glimpse of a tear sliding his cheek and he realizes that right now Nik probably needs to be alone and so he leaves him be and turns his attention back to Mia. “As I was saying, I know a nice clothing store nearby, so how about we start there?
“Yea, that sounds like a great idea.” Looking at Noah, Mia finally realizes something. “Hey Noah, your eyes…they’re blue-green now and your hair is white with red highlights.”
“Oh yea?” He looks at his arms. “Seems my markings are gone too. I guess now that we’ve returned to the human world, I’ve reverted from my god form to human form, though even this human form is very different from my old human form where both my hair and eyes were grey. I suppose that was because I hadn’t awakened yet, so I guess that was my “undefined” form. However, now that I have awoken, I guess I’ve literally become more colorful. It’s going to be an adjustment, but it might be a good thing. Now I won’t look like such a heartless loser.”
Mia laughs again. “Well I thought you looked pretty cute before, but I guess like this, now you look pretty hot.” Noah turns really red and now it’s Mia’s turn to feel embarrassed after realizing what she just said. She becomes flustered and tries to change the subject. “So, should we go? I’m eager to see this clothing store you mentioned.” She can’t look him in the eye.
“Uh, right! Yea, let’s go. There’s a lot of places I want you to see.” He doesn’t look at her directly, but he gently pulls her along and like a couple of awkward teenagers they walk down the city street, hand in hand.
Nearby, a young woman, with turquoise hair and matching eyes stares in their direction as they walk away, looking at them curiously. “Isn’t that…?” She makes a quick decision and decides to follow them for a bit, wanting to confirm her suspicion before approaching them.
After a couple of hours spent store hopping and several shopping bags later, Noah and Mia finally take a breather at a diner. If they were simply hungry before, now they are famished, especially Noah after lugging around all those heavy bags containing all of Mia’s things. He places the bags beside him and makes himself comfortable in the booth they were seated in. “There’s definitely no doubt that you’re a princess and I’m sure now that you’ll fit in just fine.”
“I’m sorry, I really didn’t mean to make you buy me all of that stuff and carry the bags, it’s just…there were so many cute outfits, I couldn’t choose! I’ll work to repay you if, just tell me what you want me to do and I will. I feel bad that I have no money or resources of my own.”
“Don’t worry about it. I was joking, you don’t have to repay me. Don’t feel bad about relying on me either, I understand your situation and I’m happy to take care of you. We’re going to be taking care of each other from now on right? Since you’re literally the reason I live.”
“Yea that true, but I still don’t want to be useless. I’ll definitely find a way to contribute.”
“You really don’t have to, but if you insist, then I won’t object. Just don’t go crazy.”
“Good evening, can I start you off with some drinks?” The waitress arrives to serve them.
Noah picks up the menu, scans it briefly and then turns to her. “I think we’ll both have a Pepper Float and I’ll also go ahead and order two Bubba Supreme Burgers with onion rings.”
“Very good, I’ll put that right in for you. I’ll bring you some water for while you wait.”
“Thank you very much.” She takes the menu from Noah’s hand and Mia’s and leaves.
“Wow, you seem like a pro at ordering. I think I would’ve needed more time.”
Noah realizes that he reflexively ordered for them both without even asking if she wanted to look at the menu herself and suddenly feels bad. He used to come here with her all the time and she always liked for him to order for them both, so the old habit is a reflex. “I’m sorry.”
Mia looks at Noah with confusion. “Why are you apologizing? You did nothing wrong.”
“I ordered for you without asking if that was what you wanted. This was your first time eating out like this too. I should’ve given you time to explore the menu yourself. So I’m sorry.”
“Noah…I appreciate your sincerity, but you really don’t need to apologize. This menu is like a book. I probably would’ve been here all night looking through it and I probably would’ve ordered half the menu. I have no idea what I’d even want since I’m sure the food here is nothing like the Underworld food. I never really ate down there often anyway and when I did it was always very basic dishes with little flavor. So I’m happy you picked for me, because I’m sure you wouldn’t order anything I wouldn’t like. I’m not a picky eater, so it’s no big deal.”
“Yea, but maybe you don’t like certain foods or maybe you have allergies. I don’t know any of those things about you. That’s kind of why I wanted to do this, so I can learn about you.”
“I want to know more about you too Noah. I mean, I guess I know a lot since your heart is inside of me, but there’s so much more I still need to learn too. So I’d love it if we could do this many more times. That way we can get to know each other better and that way I’ll have many chances to learn all about different foods and order for myself one day.”
“Yea, I’d like that too. So then what do you think about having a date here every weekend from now on? That way you’ll get to try different things and learn what you like.”
“Sounds like a plan.” She smiles and suddenly she feels a strange sensation in her chest. She looks at Noah to see that he’s staring at her in awe, his cheeks flushed. His heart inside her chest begins to beat rapidly and she blushes too, realizing what it means.
“Here’s your waters.” The waitress comes to drop of the glasses at the perfect time, easing the sensation as Noah turns his attention away from her and to the waitress. However, quickly after, a different sensation rises within her chest, but this feels much darker and filled with rage. She can see him scowling at the waitress, who she now realizes is a different girl.
Looking closer at the woman, she can see her turquoise curls up in a bun and her matching eyes look at Noah with longing behind her wide smile. “Rachel?”
She turns her attention to Mia, her eyes narrowing, though she maintains her smile. “I’m sorry, do I know you from somewhere?”
“Oh, no! I just remembered seeing a picture of you with Noah and he told me.” She looks away, embarrassed and not wanting to face her directly. She must be careful about that.
“I see.” She turns back to Noah. “So you still keep pictures of us around? I knew it, you do still think about me don’t you? I’m so happy! I still think about you too you know.” She runs her hand through his hair and then lets it rest on his face. “I’m loving this new look, it suits you.” She leans down so that her mouth is right next to his ear and she sensually whispers, “It’s hot.”
Noah jerks slightly and then quickly pushes her hand away. “Don’t touch me! Trust me, I’ve burned all your pictures. I don’t know who you conned into letting you work here, but we’d like our original waitress back please. You’re interrupting our date and pissing me off.”
“Date? That’s what this is supposed to be? It looked more like a pity party to me. Since when did you have an interest in such plain woman? I know no one can light a candle to me, but there have got to be woman who are at least in the same ballpark out there right?”
Mia shrinks down and seeing this upsets Noah more. “Rachel, that’s enough!”
“What? I’m not saying anything untrue, it’s better for her to know now than to find out the hard way later isn’t it? Anyway, I don’t actually work here, I just made the manager think I do. I “borrowed” this uniform from a cute little girl out taking her smoke break.” She winks at Noah and the tip of a fang flashes from within her mouth. Noah immediately understands.
Finally having had enough he stands abruptly, grabs Rachel’s arm and practically snarls, “May we talk for a moment please?” He turns to Mia. “Mia, sorry, but I just need to talk with her a minute. I’ll be right back and she won’t bother us again.” Mia nods and Noah pulls Rachel along. As she goes, Rachel manages to smirk at Mia, taunting her with a wicked smile. Mia tries to ignore it, but she can’t help but feel a sadness within her that’s not Noah’s, but her own.
Noah, pulls Rachel along and out the back of the diner, leading them to a dark alley. After making sure no one was around, he pushes Rachel towards the wall and with a new intensity, he scowls at her. “What the hell do you think you’re doing? Feeding so close to the public is way too risky. If I were a Hunter right now, I’d have due cause to kill you.”
“Oh, so you’re saying you don’t want to see me dead? You do still care!” She grins.
“I’m not joking around here! You’re lucky no one of authority was around. However, it’s still bad because she’s now going to be a missing person and when that gets out, we’ll have to investigate and you’ll still be at risk. Do you want to be killed? If so I’d gladly kill you right here and now without any hesitation. I should’ve done it already actually. You betrayed me and my team all for Judas’ sake, I’ll never forgive you for that. So no, I don’t give a fuck about you!”
“Hmm, I’m not so sure you’re being honest with yourself babe, your little man seems to disagree.” She smirks and grabs his crotch, which has formed a slight bulge through his pants. She starts to stroke it, but Noah quickly pulls her hand away and pins it against the wall. “Oh, I like it when you’re rough babe. It wasn’t too long ago that you’d take me right here and now. You’d spin me around, press the front of my body against this wall, snatch my skirt up and rough me up until you forced me into submission. Oh, just thinking about it is turning me on!”
“Shut up! You make it sound like I forced it on you or something. You liked it like that, you begged me for it. I was just doing what you asked of me. So don’t make me the bad guy.”
“Oh no disagreement there. Don’t misunderstand babe, I’m not accusing you, in fact it was more of a compliment. You always gave me just what I wanted with expert skills.”
“Whatever, look I didn’t come out here to talk about our sexual history, I came out here to tell you to leave us the hell alone. You and I are done, for good, so don’t just show up and act like you still have the right to flirt with and touch me anywhere you’d like. It’s also rude to Mia.”
“Mia? Even her name is plain. Anyway, I know you think we’re over, but I haven’t given up on us just yet. I know you still have feelings for me Noah, I just hurt you and so now you’re running away, but I’m going to do whatever I have to do to make it up to you and get you back.”
“And you think showing up and interrupting my date is the way to do it?”
“Ok, so maybe that was a bit rash, but I was just so happy to see you again I couldn’t help myself. It took me a minute to be sure it was you since you look different, but I could never really forget you. The god look works well on you. Judas had mentioned that he felt an awakening and figured it was you. Seems he was right after all, the creepy bastard.”
“Well good for him, but do you think I want to talk about Judas right now? That is the exact reason why we’re through. I can’t trust that you’re not just following his orders. For all I know, you’re just coming back now so you can trick me and lead me into one of his traps.”
“I’m doing no such thing; I swear on my life. I don’t serve Judas anymore; I simply work for him now as an assistant. It’s paid with full benefits and everything. He said I was useless to him as a servant now that I no longer was in with you and he also grew tired of me. So he found himself some dumb bimbos to serve him instead and unlike me, they put out to him.”
“Cool story, but I still don’t believe you. Even if it is true, I don’t care. We’re done.”
“You’re so unforgiving Noah, I miss the indifferent side of you. Or could it be that you’re just cranky because you haven’t fed in so long?”
Noah tenses up and as though she just reminded him, his throat suddenly feels dry. “I’ll get some blood when I get back home, that has nothing to do with my mood.”
“When you get home? Oh, you mean that nasty blood substitute? That’s not going to do anything for you babe, you know you need the real thing. That’s what you really need, not some nasty, grease burger that will only satiate your conscious. I know you’ve got that unnatural aversion to human blood all because you consider yourself to be one, but you mustn’t forget who you really are Noah. You’re a Junsui Demon, pure-blooded through and through. You are Helios, son of Lord Mikael of the Lord Cain lineage. One of the rightful Princes to the throne opposite your brother Silas also known as Judas. I know you hate to acknowledge that aspect of your history, but that doesn’t mean you can run from it and your natural urges. It’ll catch up to you.”
“Gee, thanks for the family history, I’d almost forgotten…just save it. Just because I come from some royal Junsui Demon lineage doesn’t mean I can’t choose to embrace my humanity. I may not be human genetically, but I make up for it in spirit. Anyway, if it comes down to it, I’ll just go find a rogue Bakemon to feed on like I always used to. That way I’m still getting the human nutrients, but indirectly through them rather than the source. I can live with that.” Rachel laughs out loud. “What so damn funny? Do you think this is a joke?”
“No of course not but…oh, I suppose you don’t know yet do you?”
“Know what? Is there something I need to know?”
“Well yea, especially if that was your plan. You’ve only been gone a few days, but a lot has happened while you were gone. Most importantly, the arrival of the Junsui Lords.”
“The Junsui Lords? Who are they? I’ve never heard of them before?”
“Maybe not by that term, but you know one of them.”
“I do? Who?”
“Hmm…I think I’ll keep that a secret for now. Though, I may be persuaded with a kiss.”
“Forget it! Just tell me!”
“No! Not unless you kiss me first!”
“Ugh, you’re so annoying! Fine then, here I’ll just-.” He starts to lean in, but is stopped.
“No, no, no, not on those lips. I want you to kiss me here.” She guides his hand down.
He quickly pulls his hand away. “No way, not gonna happen. I’m tired of these games!”
“Fine, if that’s asking too much, then at least just give me a bite. My blood is fully saturated with human nutrients after draining that woman dry, so you’ll be able to satiate your hunger and I’ll get to experience the wonderful pleasure it brings. Win-win. Then I’ll talk.”
Noah grimaces, but he also knows that she’s not going to budge until he does as she desires. So he decides to bite the bullet and do as she asks. He’d be lying to himself if he didn’t say he was feeling starved for blood, so he supposes this will at least benefit him a bit. “Fine, I’ll bite, but I’m only doing this for me, not you. You better talk after too, don’t play with me.”
“Suck me well and I’ll write you a dissertation on the matter.” Noah rolls his eyes at her lame attempt at a suggestive joke and releases her arm. She bends her neck to the side and up towards him, but Noah refuses to give her the satisfaction. In this position it’d be a bite of love, but the days of that desire are long gone. So he grabs her shoulders and spins her around, pressing her against the wall, holding her face against it as he tilts her neck to the side and bites her from behind. “Aw, you’re such a meanie, taking me in such an impersonal way.”
He pays her no mind and proceeds to suck her blood. Similar to the classic vampire, Junsui demons can use their fangs to pierce the skin and suck out blood from the vessels under it, but more like werewolves, they transform into beast like creatures with no hair and if the so desired could rip a chunk out of the flesh with those very same fangs. Noah’s face has become deformed and his eyes glow a deep red as he sucks up blood feverishly.
Rachel moans in ecstasy, his bite sending pleasurable sensations throughout her body. “Yes, that’s great babe. Just like that!” Quickly reaching her limit with each gulp, she arches her back and lets out a deep moan. Noah finally has his fill and her knees buckle as he releases her.
As Noah returns to his human self and licks his lips clean, Rachel weakly leans against the wall, her legs trembling as she breath heavily. Noah notices that there are several drops of liquid on the ground and several more sliding down her legs as she pants and he shakes his head. “You’re disgusting, and shameful, getting all worked up over being fed on. Unbelievable.”
Rachel finally finds the strength to stand upright and glances at Noah. With a smug look she says, “Well, you may not know because you’ve never been on the receiving end, but being fed on like that is incredibly pleasurable, almost as much as the real dirty deed.” She brushes her lips against his neck and says, “I can show you if you’d like. I think you just might enjoy it.”
“Back off me!” He successfully thwarts her attempt to seduce him. “Now, tell me what you promised. I can’t keep Mia waiting much longer. I’m sure the food’s already arrived too.”
“So eager to get back to her are you? Well, that’s fine, but you might want to cool off a bit first. I doubt she’ll be impressed with you showing up like that. What a poker face you have.” “What are you talking about? I’m not….” He looks down to see that the bulge has gotten more pronounced and he turns red, partly due to embarrassment and the other to anger.
“And you said you felt nothing. You were never much of a liar Noah.”
“Listen, I’ve had enough of this! Just tell me what you know or I really will kill you!”
“Fine, fine, no need to get so violent. I’ll tell you everything. Care to sit down?”
“No, just tell me what you know and make it quick!” Noah is enraged.
“Ok then, I’ll get right down to it then. You’ll be hard pressed to find anymore rogue Bakemon around anymore as the Junsui Lords promptly excommunicated them from Upper Hokkaido. They chased them back down to Tourer Kenai or elsewhere underground and have gotten the Bakemon council to decree that no Bakemon shall ascend to the overworld without proper authorization, effective immediately. Any Bakemon found to be roaming up here illegally will be swiftly exterminated, no warnings, no exceptions. This is all part of the new alliance between the new Wakaba President and the Bakemon Council. Even Judas, as a member of the council on behalf of the Junsui, cannot act as recklessly as usual and has to be more refined. Both sides want peace you see, they want to have a world where Bakemon and Humans can live in harmony, respecting borders and laws, so that no pointless wars or incidents have to occur. She hopes that this way, there will no longer be a need for the Marked Children to be taken from their families and that they can live a normal life. As for the Bakemon necessity for human nutrients, the president has been working to set up blood banks for those humans who support the Bakemon to donate and satiate their needs in that way. The Bakemon council is for it. However, Judas says that it’s all utterly ridiculous and I have to agree. He thinks that both the Bakemon council and your Human President are blinded by foolish ideals. Hence why he intends to take over and rule everyone. He says it’s his duty to save them from self-destruction. He says it’s all just a ruse and it’s only a matter of time before the humans come in and exterminate them all, sort of like a Trojan Horse effect. Get our trust, make us weak and then slaughter us in the night. He refuses to let that happen, so he’s going to be making his move, and he’s going to be doing it very soon. I figured I should give you a heads up now, if you still intend to stop him.”
“Of course I intend to stop him, that hasn’t changed. I just have to gather the pieces of this Holy Sword or whatever. I’m not intending to use it, but it’s a safety measure if the worst case scenario happens. No matter how it’s done, I will kill Judas with my own two hands. You can tell him that too. That way we’ll both have fair warning. I’ll end you too if you interfere.”
“Don’t you worry; I have no intention on involving myself between you brothers. I said I agree with Judas’ sentiment that the treaty is stupid, but as far as wanting to take over the entire world, I’m not interested. I just want to be free to do what I want, not controlled by human nor Bakemon government. If anything, you could say I’m on your side. I’d happily stand by your side as you rule over this world. At least I know you won’t be a ruthless dictator like him.”
“Well of course I wouldn’t, but I also have no intention of ruling either. I’m going to stop Judas, but I also intend to destroy the Junsui. I think it’s clear that they are the only Bakemon species that are unmanageable and comprise the bulk of those rogue Bakemon. They can’t control their urges effectively to avoid Bakemon exposure, so I’m going to exterminate them.”
“Well that’s rather cruel isn’t it? You’d kill me Noah? And yourself? Your parents?”
“It’s what we deserve. We have no one to blame but ourselves for this. It’s not personal.”
“It feels like it is though. You say you’ll destroy us like it’s the noble thing to do for the sake of the world, but to me it seems like you just want us gone for your personal quest for vengeance. You’re taking out the consequences of the actions committed by a group of bad Junsui on the entire race, isn’t that like a mass genocide? Blaming an entire race for the terrorism of an extremist group? A group maintained by Judas mostly. If you remove him, they’ll lose their power. Then you can put them in line. Don’t you think we deserve a shot at redemption?”
Noah is becoming increasingly frustrated at her hard hitting questions that he’d never really thought about and start to make him feel as though he’s in the wrong. “I don’t know ok? All I know is I need to get to assemble that sword, face Judas and end him. What happens after will be determined then. Anyway, it’s nice to know what the two governments have cooking up behind the scenes, but what of those Junsui Lords you mentioned? I get that they are basically enforcing the council’s new laws, great, but who are they. Tahno’s never mentioned them.”
“Well no offense, but what would your human brother, removed at birth, know about the inner workings of the Junsui? Everything he’s taught you guys has been through personal experience or hearsay. Maybe your father has told him some things too, but I doubt he dove into that aspect of Junsui culture, especially considering he’s very much involved in it.”
“My father? What does he have to do with this? Does he know about the Junsui Lords?”
“Does he know about the Junsui Lords? Noah, he is a Junsui Lord, the leader in fact.”
Noah is visibly shocked. “What? What nonsense are you spewing now? My father, a Junsui Lord? He’s the Lord of the Lord Cain lineage I suppose, but that’s just in relation to our personal bloodline. You make it sound like he’s a Lord of the entire Junsui Race.”
“That’s exactly what I’m saying though. He is the Junsui Lord of the entire race. The Spirit Elemental Junsui Lord Mikael to be exact. Then there’s the Earth Elemental Junsui Lord Scorpia, the Water Elemental Junsui Lord Aquaria, The Fire Elemental Junsui Lord Igneal and finally the Air Elemental Junsui Lord Hermias. These five make up the noble Junsui Lords.”
Noah is in a state of complete disbelief. “You can’t be serious?”
“I’m absolutely serious Noah. I promised I’d tell you everything and I keep my word. This is the truth. They arrived just hours after you and your team left for the underworld and started cleaning house. Now that they’ve done that, they’re sitting pretty in those comfy chairs up in the Academy Council room waiting for your two week break to be over so they can get down to business and train you all. Real training, not that weak crap Tahno’s been playing at.”
“Wait, so you’re saying that my dad and all those other Lords are the new Junsui Academy Council Tahno mentioned were coming? I didn’t realize we were going to get training from them too. I just can’t believe this, why wouldn’t Tahno have told us that? I mean if my dad of all people were coming, he would have told me. I can’t believe he knew and said nothing.”
“Relax, your big bro didn’t lie to you, not really anyway. He knew about the other four being Lords, but they effectively decided not to tell him that your father was the fifth lord. I’d assume it was so he wouldn’t mention it to you. He had due reason to hide the truth about them from your team, but not to you since you already know your father, so it’s understandable.”
“Huh? What do you mean because I already know my father? What does that have to do with the others not knowing? Do they have some connection to the lords?” Rachel raises her eyebrow and Noah finally catches the hint and connects the dots. His eyes go wide. “Wait…no way. Don’t tell me…the Lords are my team’s Junsui parents? No way!”
“Yes way! That’s exactly what I’m saying Noah. Each of the corresponding Lords are your corresponding team member’s parent. Naturally that might have thrown them off.”
“I, I can’t believe this. This is just too much! I mean, they just lost their human parents not that long ago and now they are going to report to Tahno in 2 weeks and find that surprise waiting for them? That’s not fair at all. I have to tell them.”
“Hey, do what you gotta do, I’ve told you all I know, what you do with that info is up to you. Anyway, this has been fun, but I unfortunately have to be going now.” She strips off her clothes and tosses them in the nearby trash. She reaches up to a ledge at the side of a building and pulls down her own clothes. She quickly puts them on. “Ah, much better.” She walks back to Noah who still looks a bit in shock. “Anyway babe, I really did have a great time. I really think we can work out our differences, but if you insist on this over thing, then I’ll settle for being your blood bag. Here.” She hands him a business card. “This is how you can reach me. Call me whenever you need some satiation and I’ll be right there.” She leans up and kisses him quickly. “See ya babe. Have fun on your date.” She walks away seductively and then is out of sight.
Noah finally breaks free of his trance and remembers Mia. He looks down and sees that his bulge has effectively been suppressed, likely due to the shocking news. He puts that new information aside for the moment and tries to orient his mind back to Mia. He hurries back, knowing that the food has likely long since arrived. He gets back to the booth, but he finds it completely empty. He looks around, thinking that he perhaps went to the wrong one, but Mia is nowhere to be found. He quickly runs over to the main counter. “Excuse me, did you see what happened to the girl that was sitting at the table over there?”
A short and stocky man looks at him. “Oh, you mean that pretty girl with the lavender hair and auburn eyes? Yea, she came over a bit ago and said that you wouldn’t be needing your order anymore. She apologized and then quickly left the diner. She seemed a bit sick.”
“She left?! On her own?!” The man looks at Noah as if he’s got two heads.
“Yes, is that a problem? It’s not like it so late that the streets are deserted.”
“No that’s not the issue. She’s…she’s not from around here so she doesn’t know her way around yet or how the city works. I have to find her! I’m sorry for any inconvenience.” He doesn’t wat for the man to respond and runs out in a hurry. “Shit! Did she see us?” Noah asks this out loud as he runs down the sidewalk, looking all around. He checks every side street, alley and otherwise, but sees no sign of her. He starts to panic, but then feels a sensation in his chest.
He turns the corner and follows it down to an alleyway in a secluded area. As he goes deeper in, he hears sniffling. He peeks around the trash can to see Mia sitting with her back against it, hunched over like she’s in pain and shivering. “Mia! Thank god, I was so worried! What were you thinking running off like that by yourself? You could’ve gotten lost or worse.”
“That would’ve been nothing compared to the pain you caused me just now.”
“Huh?” Noah is confused, but then quickly has a realization. “Did you see us? I’m-.”
“I didn’t have to see you! I wish that’s all it had been. I didn’t see anything. I felt it. I felt the carnal desire between you two, I could feel the beast inside you wanting to break free. I could feel how much you wanted her. No matter how much you want to believe it wasn’t true, you very much still love her, your heart was beating like crazy the entire time. I felt every emotion you tried to suppress. You clearly don’t understand how we’re connected yet, so let me tell you now. The closer we are, the more I feel from your emotions. Emotions are formed in your brain, but you won’t really experience them unless the related hormones are spread through your body. For that to happen you must have a heart to pump your blood. However, since your heart is effectively my heart, all your emotional waves sent from your brain to my heart cause me to feel the main effects of those emotions and what you actually feel from me is the after effects. I get the bulk of your sensations and form the deeper connections between you and the emotional trigger, in this case it was Rachel. So all the suppressed feelings you have for her were channeled straight into me and so while you thought you had it under control, I was being tormented. It’s one thing when we are in two completely different realms, I could handle it better when I was down in the underworld and you were here. Now that we’re here together in this realm, we’re connected more strongly, so I feel stronger sensations just as you do. That’s why I ran. I needed to get away as far as I could until I could no longer feel your emotions. I couldn’t stay there another moment; I would’ve lost my mind. I know I have no right to expect that you’ll just fall in love with me because I’m your heart and we’ll live happily ever after. I understand the history you and Rachel share and know that your love lies with her. But please, for the future, please just keep your distance when you’re together that way, so I don’t go insane. That’s all I ask of you. Is that ok for me to ask?” She looks at Noah with tortured, teary eyes.
He falls to his knees beside her and hugs her, tears forming in his. “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize. I promise I won’t cause you so much pain again.” How to do that, he didn’t yet know.
They get back to the apartment at around 10, having picked up a couple of slices of pizza for dinner on the way. They walk in to see a dark and empty living space, meaning everyone must be in their rooms. Noah places all the bags inside his room on the floor and then returns to Mia’s side. “I guess everyone is a bit drained after everything that’s happened, so I guess we’ll have to make official introductions in the morning. For now, would you like me to prepare the bed for you? I’ll put on fresh sheets and give you linen for if you’d like to shower.”
“A shower sounds nice; I’ve always been curious about them. There was no need to shower in the Underworld, so it’ll be an interesting change. But why do you sound as though you’re not going to sleep inside the room as well?”
“Well, I wasn’t sure if you’d feel comfortable with me sleeping in the same room, so I was going to sleep out here for the time being.”
“That’s unnecessary. I don’t want to kick you out of your own room.”
“Ok, if you’re sure, then I’ll just sleep on the couch in the room instead.”
“No Noah, I mean I don’t want to kick you out of your own bed. You shouldn’t have to change your normal life for my sake. We can sleep in the same bed. I know that it won’t mean anything, and we’re already pretty closely connected as it is, so there’s really no need to be embarrassed. I’m your heart, you’re my master, that’s all we are. So it’s fine.”
“Well, master sounds like a bit much. How about we just say, friends? I mean I think we’re close enough to at least be on that level right?”
“I suppose friends can work as well. I’ll go by whatever you wish. Either way, there’s no need for a separation. I’d like to have that shower now if it’s ok with you?”
“Uh yea, of course. Let me set that up for you.” Noah quickly grabs a fresh towel and washcloth from a closet in the bathroom and places it on the sink. He sets the temperature of the shower just right and calls her over. “It should be at a good temperature now. I’ve placed your linen there and here’s a fresh bar of soap.” He places it on the pile. “Here’s the bag with your nightwear, I’ll leave it to you then.” He quickly leaves and closes the door behind him.
He can’t help but feel that there is still a huge wall of tension between them ever since he found her in that alley. It’s understandable, having to be subjected to such an intensity of emotions, but he had hoped that once it’d been addressed they could go back to the friendly atmosphere they had between them. He could tell that she clearly had developed feelings for him over the years just by observing his life in those key moments, but he’s not sure what’s actually real and what’s due to the fact that they share a heart. He can definitely admit that he likes her, but to say he loves her now would be a lie. He still needs to get to know her better. That, and as she said and he hates to admit but knows he can’t deny any longer, he still loves Rachel. The very idea burns him to the core, but the fact still remains that he does and it’s sickening. He decides not to think on it any longer and proceeds to change the sheets anyway, just in case. After, he decides that he’s not all that sleepy yet and so heads to the living space to watch some TV. There’s nothing good on at the moment, so he just flips channels as he drinks a beer from the fridge. He can hear a door open and turns to see who it is. It’s Gunther. “Hey Guns.”
“Hey Noah, what’s up? Did you two just get back from your date?”
“Yea.” He doesn’t elaborate and Gunther picks up on it. He grabs a beer and joins Noah.
“So…did it not go well then? Was it not a fairy tale date of the century?”
That makes Noah laugh. “No unfortunately a rotten egg got in the way and messed it up.”
“Oh, that’s rough. Let me guess…Rachel?”
“Good guess. She’s the only one who’d pick such an opportune time. The kicker is though, I’m actually glad she did it.”
Gunther raises an eyebrow. “Hmm, that’s a surprise. She must have had something big?”
“Yea, you could definitely say that. I’ve learned quite a bit about the things going on behind the scenes between the human governments, Wakaba included and the Bakemon’s.”
“Oh, that sounds really interesting. Care to share? Or is that classified?”
“It probably is, but not as far as I’m concerned. I definitely intend to tell you, but I’ll do it when everyone is present. Beyond that business, there’s something even bigger to tell you.”
“Bigger huh? Now I’m really interested. Can’t you drop a hint or something?”
“No, it’s best if you wait. That way you can all get the full effect at once. Anyway, how was your night? When you left through the portal, you looked pretty grim, Mai looked dead and Lili was unconscious. What the hell happened down there before we showed up?”
Gunther looks down, distressed. “Lili happened. She totally spazzed out and pushed Eve into the river of lost souls. Eve had actually won redemption, but Lili pushed her in first.”
“What?! Lili did that? I know she has jealous tendencies, but I never thought she could-.”
“Yea, none of us did, which is why she was able to catch them off guard. She was convinced Eve was just playing Mai again and was going to come back and be evil. She claimed she was doing it for Mai’s sake, but we all know better. She didn’t want to lose Mai, and since Mai pretty much confessed her love to Eve and promised to come find her again, Lili realized if she’d been allowed to successfully be reborn, she’d definitely lose Mai for good. So she acted.”
“That’s not good at all. What did Mai say? What’d she do?”
“That’s what scared me the most man, it’s what she almost did. I swear Noah, Mai was going to kill her. She was literally choking her out. She stopped at just the last second, only knocking her unconscious instead. But then she declared that once we completed our mission and if we made it back alive, she was going to kill her then and then kill herself to end it all.”
“Wow, that’s extreme. I understand that Mai would be upset, but to have such intentions, well that’s not ok either. I think they’ve both got some things that need to be resolved.”
“Yea for sure, that’s ultimately why Lili and I are no longer together, but it’s only a temporary thing. I’ve already declared to her that when she’s better, whenever that is, I’m taking her back. However, now I’m scared to leave her alone with Mai, worried she’ll snap.”
“I’ll talk to her. I’ll talk to them both and see if I can’t get them to resolve this somehow. I can’t have my team trying to kill each other, especially not with what we have ahead of us.”
“I really hope you can Noah, though I’m pretty sure you won’t be able to get through to either of them. They’re both pretty messed up right now. That’s why Lili is in my room for now. I didn’t want her to be alone with Mai. But she can’t stay with me forever, she won’t.”
“I’ll figure it out Guns, so don’t worry. For now, you should just get some rest.”
“Yea, you’re right. I’ll do that. Have a good night Noah, and good luck.”
“Thanks.” Gunther tosses his empty can in the trash and then returns to his room. Like clockwork, Mai’s door opens up. She sees Noah, but says nothing. “Oh Mai, just the girl I wanted to see. Do you think we can talk for a minute?” He pats the seat next to him.
“Talk, I can hear you. I’m going to enjoy my cereal over here.”
“Ok then…I can see you’re not in a talkative mood tonight so I’ll get right to the point. I heard what happened with Eve, what Lili did. I’m very sorry about that. I know I can’t make any excuse for Lili that will ease your pain, but despite how wrong she was and how much pain you are in, I can’t condone killing her no matter the reason. I agree she needs to be punished and so I will definitely speak with Tahno and come up with an appropriate one. I’ve also been thinking this for a while, but I think Lili needs more professional help as well. It’s pretty clear at this point that she’s a danger to herself and others and needs to talk through her trauma. It seems like she never fully healed in her previous sessions. She probably just got good at hiding her pain. So getting her into sessions again will probably be a good idea. If she had been in sound mind, I truly believe she’d have never done such a terrible thing. So I really hope you can forgive her.”
Mai finishes the last few bites of her cereal, drinks the milk and puts her bowl in the dishwasher all before even acknowledging Noah said a thing. She starts walking back towards her room, but stops in front of her door. She turns to face Noah and says simply, “no.”
“No? No to what part of that exactly?”
“All of it. Just mind your business.”
“Mind my business? Mai, this is my business. I can’t ignore this when I know that one member of my team plans to kill another member, no matter how far down the line it may be.”
“Lili is my problem, my burden and mine alone, so everyone just needs to stay out of it. No one else but me can help her. I’m the only one that can talk her off the ledge, I’m the only one who can make her do what she must, only I can keep her sane enough to function in everyday life without murdering innocent women who as much look my way. Lili is mine! That’s all there is to it. So stay out of it Noah, because you can’t stop me. Only I know what she needs and it won’t be found in a psych ward under prescription drugs. So stay out of it!”
She slams the door and leaves Noah stunned. He hears a door opening again and thinks it’s Mai returning, but he realizes it’s coming from behind him. “I’m going now, so let me go!”
“Fine, go then! Don’t blame me if you end up dead in your sleep!” Gunther shouts.
Lili walks out and Gunther slams the door behind him. Lili walks across the apartment, making her way towards Mai’s room. However, she stops when she is close to Noah and leans down, wrapping her arms around his neck and letting them hang down his chest like she’s embracing him in a hug from behind. She places her mouth next to his ear and whispers in it. “Don’t come between me and Mai. I really like you, so I’d hate to see you hurt. So please stay out of it ok? She belongs to me.” She stands upright and with a smile like sunshine says, “Have a goodnight Noah! See you tomorrow ok?” She skips over to Mai’s door and slips inside.
Noah sits silently, unsure of what to think or do after all that just went down. He knows that he should now be more worried than ever, but he somehow feels that getting involved in this situation will be a bad idea. Not because he thinks Lili can actually hurt him, but in some other indirect way he fears what Lili may be capable off. He realizes that as dysfunctional as it is, the dynamic Mai and Lili have between them right now may just be the best situation. But one day the issue at hand will have to be addressed. He just hopes it won’t be too late when that day comes. He hears a door open again and thinks that it must be Nik, but it’s actually Mia.
“I’m all done. Are you coming to bed now too or are you staying up a bit?”
Noah shakes it off. “Uh yea, I think it’s time to call it a night. Coming now.” He turns off the TV and shuts off the lights. He looks at Nik’s door briefly, but decides he probably still just needs to be left alone. He enters his bedroom and closes the door behind him.
In his room, Nik sits on his bed, slicing away at his arm. The sheet underneath it is wet with blood, his arm raw and bloodied, chanting “worthless fag” repeatedly with tears in his eyes. Lost.
In his room, Gunther sits at his computer in the nude, tissues at his side and pulls up the live chat server. “Didi, 20, petite girl, pink hair, fair skin, looking for a good time…perfect.” Lost.
In their room, Mai is silent as Lili has her way with her, her eyes hollow and empty. Lost. Lost.
In their room Noah and Mia lie together the awkward silence slowly stifling them. Lost. Lost.
They are trapped, they are all alone, Lost…in the…aftermath, aftermath, aftermath, aftermath.