Gah, I'm sorry I haven't posted in a long time for Griffy (well, it seems like a long time). BUT I MADE UP FOR IT BECAUSE IT RUNS A WHOPPING 20 PAGES ON GOOGLE DOCS! RIDICULOUS, EVEN FOR ME! :3
So... ah, even though this is kind of random and really doesn't... do anything besides giving some insight into Akira and Griffin’s pasts and kind of make way for the PLOT TWIST........ ah... without further ado, I present you with GRIFFIN! Hope you enjoy it! <3
The room was dark, unusually so, as I perched on the couch, hands clasped before me. Buzzing through the air, pointless conversation filled my ears, forcing me to massage my temple instead of lashing out.
Ever since Akira had “recommended” I socialize, the headaches had become more frequent. I could only wonder why.
“Did you see the new Sherlock?” Kateri blurted, bouncing on the seat adjacent to me, her words directed at the majority of the girls in the club: Acacia, Karin, the twins, Amor, Alice, Riley, Colette, and Ela. “I loved loved loved it! The drama and suspense! Eee!” The redhead merely scoffed, reclining back against the firm couch as she sighed.
“Meh. British T.V. is so overrated,” she remarked, shutting her eyes. It was as if she wished to cause an argument.
“For once, I agree with Mademoiselle Chicken,” Acacia sneered, twirling her hair. “I prefer le francais over what you consider to be classic English accents.”
“Well... I think their accents are... charming,” Karin murmured, blushing as she twiddled her thumbs. Sparkles grinned beside her, wrapping his arm around her shoulders without much thought. Couples. How repulsive.
“And that Cumberpatch’s cheekbones are so... so...” Rano sighed dreamily, her eyelashes fluttering. Her sister only rolled her eyes, a rare display of emotion.
“I, for one, love the special effects,” the circus freak grinned. “I love seeing how things work. Keeps you on your toes, y’know?”
“Watson is my favorite. He’s just too funny and adorably awkward! Like the Sebster,” Riley snickered, drawing his electric eyes to her.
“Nothing!” the girls all cried in unison, a synchronized giggle following afterwards. Ash, the nymph girl—Karin had accidentally revealed her secret to me long ago—kept quiet, despite how she seemed as though she wanted to comment, as well.
“I simply adore the traditional British culture infused with the modern world,” Colette crooned, crossing her legs daintily. “It is fantastic, is it not?”
“Yeah, I guess. I just love the actors and the plot and the characters and dialogue and humor,” Kateri shrugged, laughing.
If I had been willing to speak, I did not know what I would have said; television was one of the many luxuries that were still a mystery to me, much like the “Internet” and “video games.”
Fed up with such a pointless conversation, I rose from the couch, pinching the bridge of my nose.
“Where ya going, Dragonboy?” Dante remarked, glancing at me out of the corner of his eye as I passed him on my way to the stairs. “Too much conversation for you today?”
“For you information, Angel, I have a migraine. I suggest leaving me alone,” I snapped, baring my teeth. Rolling his eyes, he turned away, disregarding my threat and focusing his adoring stare back on the plant. Couples. What absurdity.
On my way to the stairs, Kuroshiro interrupted me, staring at me with a knowing gaze.
“What’s on your mind?” he queried, offering what would have been a kind smile if he had been alive. Even after our fight, our... strange friendship had remained. Shaking my head, I refused to acknowledge the truth.
“Nothing, of course. I am fine. Thank you for your concern. It is late, that is all,” I dismissed, pulling the corners of my lips up into what I hoped was a reassuring smile. He frowned.
“Griffin, why—” he began, prepared to ignite a full-fledged interrogation, but, with a hasty wave of my hand, I cut him off.
“I have not slept for quite some time. You must respect that,” I muttered, the words hissing through my teeth. Though it was quite obvious he wished to interject, the ghost boy only nodded, brushing past me as he headed into the open room, his eyes flickering to me once as he passed.
My heart was heavy, laden with memories and emotions I had assumed were buried deep inside, and, now that the club had grown closer, like some sorority or even... a family... those hidden concepts had resurfaced, much to my dismay. I could not control it any longer. It was becoming tiresome to even try.
Just as I made to ascend the staircase, a petite, red-headed figure bounded into my path, cutting me off and staring up at me with piercing lime eyes. Startled, I stumbled back about a foot, managing to keep my balance.
“He-ey, Griffy,” the Changeling sang, batting her eyelashes. Oh Gods, this is worse than the tree twins put together. “Where are you going?”
“I... ah... I was going up to my room,” I cleared my throat as I spoke, unsure of how to handle this... teenager. “May I offer my assistance?” She squealed, a grin spreading on her lips.
“Oh, you’re such a gentleman!” Violette chirped, seizing one of my hands in both of hers. Wide-eyed, I only stared, uncomfortable. “Can I come with you?”
Eye twitching, I attempted to tug my hand away from her iron grasp without harming her, but, as she giggled, all she did was release one of her hands to jab me with a single finger, somehow reaching my cheek. I tried not to flinch.
How is she reaching this high?! Though I was lost for a few silent moments, I realized her feet were floating about eight inches above the ground, her face contorted into an expression of concentration. As she noticed my watching gaze, she grinned mischievously.
“Catch me, Griffy!” she chimed, a grin replacing her intense stare. As she began to plummet, I hurried to grab her, knowing the stairs were right behind her, and, had she fallen, she would have injured her back or worse. I may be many things, but one can never say I lack compassion.
I wrapped my arms around her small frame, unable to consider an alternative method of rescue, and, the instant I made contact with her, she leapt onto me, taking me by surprise. As she wrapped her bony arms around my neck, refusing to give me any leeway, I stumbled backward more, uttering a single, intelligent word.
“What do you think you’re doing?!” a new voice demanded, the source being the Changeling’s... companion, Locke.
“I am trying not to fall over!” I answered with a snarl, gesturing with a free hand at the dangling girl around my neck. His crimson eyes locked on mine, wide and incredulous. “Would you please get her off of me, or are you simply going to stand there and gawk at us?!”
“Sorry,” he muttered, moving into action. “Vi, come on. Leave him alone.”
“But we’re SOULMATES!” she exclaimed, pulling away far enough so she could stare me in the eye, her lids lowered. Oh, Gods, no. The last thing I need is some girl with a ridiculous crush.
“No, Vi, you aren’t. He’s, what, eight years older than you?” Locke countered, tugging at the girl’s hold. “Leave him alone.” Pouting, she released me, shoulders slumped.
“But I knitted him a sweater...” she mumbled, scuffing her shoes on the ground. Do not do it. You will only fuel her attraction.
“I appreciate that, Violette,” I murmured, my mouth moving without my mind’s consent. Her eyes lit up. “I would have loved to accept such a heartfelt gift.”
“Well, I gave away one of them,” Wait, one of them??, “but there’s still another hot pink one up in my room! I’LL GIVE IT TO YOU... if you want it.” At the last second, she grew sheepish, downcasting her gaze as Locke turned to glare at me, daring me to agree. Challenge accepted, Mr. Puca.
“I would love it,” I confirmed with what I hoped was a kind smile.
Once she squealed and raced up the stairs, Locke shook his head, turning up the heat of his stare.
“Don’t get any ideas,” he growled, his teeth clenched. In my defense, I raised my hands in surrender.
“I have no ideas nor intentions, of that I can assure you,” I promised, offering what I hoped was a reassuring smile. I do love the color of the sweater, though. “I would hate to crush her though. She is so young.” With a sigh, he nodded, rubbing his neck.
“Yeah, I know. That’s why I worry about her.”
“Do not fret. She is in good company here.” After thinking about my words, I corrected myself. “So long as you keep her away from Vevila. She is not a good influence.” Chuckling, he nodded, meeting my eyes.
“I gotcha. Thanks, Griffin. See ya around.” With that, he tossed an exasperated glance heavenward at the disappearing form of Violette before turning around and striding toward the kitchen. Cracking my neck, I headed for the staircase once more, weary and unsure of what had just occurred. Either I have made new friends or he will plan to murder me. Uncertainty, why must you plague me so?
When I reached the landing on the second level, having climbed the steps without so much as a second thought, I was forced to hurry to dodge the crowd of four on the floor, all eyes darting to me in surprise.
“Are y’alright there, Griff?” the leprechaun inquired with a gleam in his eye, folding the four cards in hand on his lap. “You’ve right to join us! Skint or rich, it doesn’t matter; we aren’t placing any bets tonight.” Beside him, the zombie doll, Nai-Hina if my memory served correctly, nodded, her gaze cast away.
“He’s right about that,” the fox boy contributed, offering a sly grin. “And we aren’t even cheating!” I guess it is possible to be too charismatic. How annoying. Clutching his hand as if it were her lifeline, the winged nymph kept silent, nervously scanning the cards in her hand. Gah. Such ludicrosity and timidness. I cannot bear to endure this any longer.
“Thank you for the invitation, but I have no time for this,” I brushed off, moving toward the stairs to ascend to my room.
“Well, ye outta chance the arm next time, try your luck and play a few rounds!” Travis insisted, pausing me in my escape. With a sigh, I turned, giving a shrug.
“I might just do that. Maybe next time,” I replied, considering it. “Good night to you all.” A chorus of “Night, Griffin” resounded from the players, even the shy women, as I climbed up the stairs, taking them one at a time instead of the normal two, exhausted from the social interaction I had been forced to survive the past two or so nights.
That, and the wounds I had suffered on my face and wings. D*mn it, Kuroshiro. Why did you have to be so heartless?... No pun intended.
“Did Griffy get into a little fight? How tragic,” a sultry voice emitted from the top of the stairs, Vevila tossing her mane over her shoulder as she turned a predatory stare onto me. I sighed. While she had been a member for nearly a month, she had avoided conversation with me for a reason unknown. It had been over two weeks since she last tried to speak with me, and I much prefered her silence over the disgusting spew of words that tended to spill from her lips.
“It is none of your concern,” I growled, striding past her. With a gnarly hand, she gripped my shoulder, her talons digging into my skin. Gritting my teeth, I shot her a glare, earning a bemused smirk in response.
“What do you mean it isn’t of my concern?” she purred, sliding a hand down my arm, the action intended to be seductive.
A surge of nausea swam through me. What a repulsive creature. If only Akira could see what she was— I stopped myself, startled by the thought. What is wrong with you?! Behind me, the fairy seemed to sense a change, her motion halted.
“Oh, does wittle Griffy have a problem? Let me help,” she cooed, stepping closer, and, though I couldn’t see her, I imagined her serpentine grin.
“Not at all. I would never accept the aid of your kind, harpy,” I snarled, unable to resist the urge as I threw her hand off. Hissing, she did not hesitate in voicing her response.
“‘Harpy?’ I am not—” she began, but, somehow, I managed to silence her with a snarl.
“Leave me be, Vevila. Go pester some other mindless male,” I barked, fuming as I continued down the hall.
Gods of Mount Olympus, I wish some creatures were not so intolerable. Focused on my unkind thoughts, I nearly ran straight into a hooded figure, catching myself just in time.
“My apologies, Keefer,” I muttered, exhaling and shaking my head. “I was not paying attention.” Seeing that he was uninterested in my sincerity, I added, “It is good to have you back. So many mouths run constantly here, it is a relief to have near silence now and again.” A hint of a smile breezed past his lips, lingering for a single moment before moving on.
“Good to be back,” he seemed to mutter, though, in all honesty, I could have imagined it. Nodding in farewell, I sidestepped around him, biting the inside of my cheek. It was strange to be the most talkative one in a conversation, what with Kateri being around me almost nonstop.
“Hello, fellow dragon,” a droning voice called, drawing my eyes to a willowy girl. Ah yes, Aerith, the laziest of us all. “What are you doing up here so early? Aren’t you more of a... night owl? Wouldn’t you rather dance until morning?”
“Why are you still awake? Do you not find this club to be a bore? And I am a Wyvern,” I countered, meeting her gaze with a steely one of my own. She merely yawned.
“Well, I do enjoy watching Vevila hit on everyone,” she smirked, baring her sharp incisors and canines. “I’m almost compelled to envision what would happen if you actually reacted in her favor. What would that Kateri girl say—” Oh, Gods, spare me. “—something along the lines of ‘Veviffin’?” She shuddered. “Don’t let me do that again. Delving into the mind of such a... bubbly prep is unbearable.”
“For once, I will agree with you,” I muttered, earning a half smile.
“Well, this has been... uninteresting as usual. I’m hitting the hay,” she announced, shuffling past me. “Night, Griffin. I guess it was... nice talking to you.” As she continued to her room, I sighed.
“Likewise.” Now drained, my mind whirring, I decided to take a quick trip outside on one of the balconies, feeling the need for some fresh air before I finally laid down to rest.
Naturally, I was not alone as I opened the door, two pairs of eyes, one red and one brown, drifting to me. Kaki and Bellinda. What a fitting pair.
“Ah, good evening. I did not mean to interrupt,” I excused, moving back toward the door. As she rolled her eyes, Bellinda shook her head, Kaki remaining silent with her unnerving stare.
“Don’t worry about it. We were just,” she snickered, “playing with fire.”
“Should I be concerned?” I questioned, eyebrows raised. She merely scoffed, tugging at a strand of red-tipped hair.
“Um, no, Mr. Hydra,” she grumbled. “I can control it. Duh.”
“I am nothing like a—” I began, anger peaking.
“That’s the joke.” Oh, I see. Everyone loves to mock the ancient Greek creature. Ha, ha.
“So long as you have everything under control, I believe I am done out here,” I declared, massaging my temple. I cannot have any time to myself here. “Goodnight, ladies.” It genuinely surprised me that Kaki was the first to respond with a simple “Bye,” but I did not dwell on it as I stepped inside.
“And who might you be?” a musical voice chimed, drawing my gaze to a familiar... nymph-type creature. “Oh, wait. Griffin, right?” She laughed, the sound reminiscent of bells. “I have such a difficult time remembering all these names! But I wouldn’t forget yours.”
“What a relief,” I muttered, attempting to pass her. With an outstretched arm, she stopped me, doing so with ease.
“What is this brand you are wearing? ‘Hollister?’ How awful,” she remarked, plucking at the fabric. “You’re like a walking billboard. Dear, you really mustn’t believe this is good fashion... do you?”
“It is better than wearing my trench coat every day, is it not?” I retorted, her expression morphing into one of utter disgust.
“Oh heavens, yes. Trench coats went out of a style nearly a decade ago!” For a moment, she pondered this thought. “Would that make it... acceptable to wear them again? Has enough time gone by to make it retro?” She shook out her platinum waves in frustration. “Gah, time passes much too quickly for me to keep track.” You are almost as bad as Vevila.
“Amor, I apologize, but I really do not have time for this,” I groaned, shutting my eyes for the briefest of moments. “I will speak with you at another time.”
“Yes, yes. Of course.” Judging by the way she dismissed me, it was clear she no longer cared. “We can discuss your choices another time.” To herself, she muttered, “Trench coats? Could I make them work? Of course I could.”
Just twenty feet from my room, now. So close I could see the grains in the wood paneling surrounding the door. As I increased my pace, a strange figure caught my eye, one I had only seen when he had entered the mansion.
With a sigh, I decided it was inevitable. After all, I had spoken with everyone else that day. Might as well make it everyone.
“Nodin, correct?” I queried, drawing his surprised gaze to me. He had been fiddling with his cellular phone, but, not that I stood before him, his attention was on me. Disturbing, in a way, the way his clear blue eyes, crusted with yellow, were locked in on my features. “I am Griffin. I do not believe we have had the pleasure of meeting each other yet.”
He shrugged. Clearing my throat, I continued, offering a hand.
“I hope you feel at home here,” I offered. “Ah...”
He stared at my hand, his own clasped now behind him, with eyes wide and full of... fright? Licking my lips, I nodded, dropping my hand.
“Right. Well, I... we are all friends here so....” I am not very good at this... Where is Karin when you need her? “If you need anything, do not hesitate to...” A single brow raised, he nodded, cutting me off in his silent way. Mimicking his motion, I turned away, moving to my room. “Yes. Very well.” What a strange character. Even Keefer spoke a few words to me.
Once I had opened my door and stepped inside, I embraced the darkness, standing still for a moment. Finally. Safe at last. My mind wearing and tongue dry from all the utterly pointless conversations I had endured, I laid down on my mattress, flat on my back as I stared up at the ceiling with perfectly enhanced vision, able to distinguish the individual cracks in the paint in the dim lighting.
As my eyes fluttered shut, mind eager to drink in my dreams, I let out a sigh, tugging the quilt at the base of my bed over me.
I drifted into a restless slumber, but that was only to be expected.
A thick, black blanket of unbreathable air pulsed against the ceiling, cloaking the walls and burning the boy’s eyes. He stumbled through the hallway, falling to his knees and struggling, desperate to find a way out. Choking, he refused to stop, knowing well enough that he would die if he did.
His vision was corrupted, smoke blocking his view, but still he continued. Even though he was so terribly young, he was wise, and that wisdom would prove to be valuable.
The flames licked at his back, singeing his shirt and scalding his skin. He bit his tongue, knowing it would do him no good to cry out. The only way to survive was to keep moving.
Feeling along the wall, his hand came into contact with a familiar door, the light from within casting flickering shadows beneath it. A soft voice called through the thin wood, reaching the boy’s ears and momentarily stilling his body.
“Griffin? Griff, please help me,” the voice cried, the despair tainting it bringing tears to the boy’s eyes. “I’m scared. I can’t move. Th-there’s fire everywhere. It’s blocking the door. I can’t get out. Please, Griffin!” The boy was conflicted; in that room was the only friend he ever had, his own flesh and blood, an identical copy of himself. Yet he knew it would be hopeless if he ventured into that room.
Even from the outside, Griffin could tell the blaze had grown too strong. Still, he stretched his hand up the surface of the door, finding the knob and attempting to turn it. Locked. It would be a suicide mission anyway. Swallowing his tears, he made a decision.
“Cy?” he called, hoping with all of his might he was not too late. A murmur answered his cry, the words unidentifiable. “Cyrus, I am going to get out of here, okay? I am going to find a way out, then I will come back to find you. I will bring help. Stay put. Do not try to escape. I will help you.” The boy’s words were oddly formal, but, after his intensive schooling of learning the English language, he did not know of any other way to speak.
No response reached his ears, but no screams did either. He took it as a positive sign, and, with a new motivation, he trudged forward, covering his mouth with the neck of his shirt and trying not to inhale the poisonous fumes.
After what seemed like an eternity, he reached the end of the hallway, and, lifting his hand before him, he prodded at the still-cool glass. Pressing as hard as he dared against the windowpane, he shoved his fist at the glass and managed to shatter a hole clean through it, allowing the night air to permeate the flames. His knuckles were bloody, stained with the result of his actions. Eying the ground nearly twenty feet below, he leapt from the window spontaneously, flailing his arms as he crashed through the glass and the branches of the towering oak.
The ground rose to meet him, his fall softened by nothing but a thin layer of fallen leaves. Along his cheek, three horizontal cuts resided, caused by the shards of glass that had followed him, perfectly aligned and parallel. Body aching, he managed to rise, panting and hating himself for lying. He was young, but he was not stupid.
He could not save his brother. The fire was too strong; it could not be stopped. If he were to try, he would die in the process.
Coughing, he stumbled across the street, hoping to escape the suffocating atmosphere, and, in the instant he reached the sidewalk, chaos erupted behind him.
The fire swelled as a swift breeze blew across it, enabling it to grow to a monstrous size, consuming everything in the building. Blinding light accompanied the raging heat from the inferno, but the worst had yet to come.
An explosion sounded from the back of the house, and a burst of new flames stretched into the sky. The fire had reached Cyrus’ chemistry sets; that was the only explanation. The boy’s screams resounded into the heavens, the suffering so intense Griffin nearly braved the heat to save him.
He managed to stop himself, allowing the tears to fall freely, because he knew there was no point. He valued his life. There was nothing he could do but listen to the agony and watch as everything was burnt to rubble and ash.
His parents remained nearly silent; only once did their shrieks reach his ears. They had been sleeping when the fire reached them, of that he was sure. The only comfort Griffin had was that they did not suffer long.
Unfortunately, he could not say the same for his brother. The child’s shrieks continued to escape the house, his terror and agony as clear as the stars above. Griffin shut his eyes tightly, unable to bear it any longer. His twin, his other half, was dying, and there was nothing he could possibly do to help him.
The fire continued to escalate, consuming even the old oak tree adjacent to it, and all the boy could think to do was watch now. The screaming had died down, but it had not ceased. A final, innocent cry ruptured the once peaceful silence of the night in an anguished, pleading scream before all noise ceased to occur.
Gasping for air, I shot up in bed, shaking and trembling, my blankets tossed carelessly to the floor, forlorn. There was no smoke polluting the room. I was not suffocating. It had just been a dream.
A terrible nightmare. A reality from the past.
A sheen of sweat covering me head to toe, I struggled to calm my mind. I knew I would be unsuccessful. That memory was the most painful one of all. It was impossible to forget.
Someone stirred in the room beside mine, the walls thin enough for their voice to carry through clearly and the building empty enough for them to speak without fear of being overheard.
“Griffin?” the werewolf asked softly, her voice eerily similar to the one in my memory. No, that cannot be; my mind is playing tricks on me once more. “What’s wrong?” Much more alert than I would have imagined it had be, her voice sent tremors through my entire body. Has she been awake this entire time? That was just my luck.
I shook my head, throwing off the wool blanket and rising to my feet.
“Nothing is wrong,” I answered quietly, shaking my head. “I-I just need some fresh air.” Distraught, I climbed the stairs at the other end of the room, making my way out onto the roof and resting on one of the abandoned crates there. I struggled to regulate my breathing, hating the way I felt so inexplicably vulnerable.
Only a month or so had passed since we had arrived in Akira’s home, and, already, my dreams had grown worse, more vivid. Maybe it was due to the strenuous situations we had been exposed to, but maybe it was simply a coincidence. Either way, I hated facing the nightmares, especially the one of my brother.
While I did not wish to forget, all they ever brought was despair, something I could live without.
Soft footsteps reached my ears as someone climbed the stairs, their identity obvious to me. No one else would venture after me, not this late in the night.
“What do you want, Akira?” I breathed, my voice unnaturally soft. She paused in her advance, standing directly behind me now.
“Something’s bothering you, and I’d like to know what,” she answered without a moment’s hesitation, and I turned my head around to face her in time to see her cross her arms defiantly over her chest. It was typical of her to do so.
“It is not of your concern,” I replied briskly, averting my gaze. “It is in the past. Nothing can be done about it.” I stared off into the distance, inhaling to fill my lungs as much as possible. “It is much too late for anything to be done.” Sighing, she walked around the crate and taking a seat beside me, avoiding my eyes for a moment.
“Well, maybe if you talk about it-” she began, but I cut her off with a hiss.
“Talking will do nothing,” I snapped, glaring at her out of the corners of my eyes. How dare she act as though she could help. “It never has and it never will.” Huffing, she met my glare with one of her own.
“Look, I’ve tried to be nice, but your attitude is seriously getting on my nerves,” she growled, surprising me with her frank honesty. “I am so sick of it. So either spill it or I’ll rip your throat out.” I felt my eyes widen as I stared at her in disbelief. Her furious expression told me she was completely serious about her threat. I did not want to risk it. With a sigh, I complied.
“Fine, I... I will tell you,” I murmured, casting my gaze downward before turning on her. “You must promise never to repeat it.” She opened her mouth to object, but I interrupted her. “Promise. You can never tell anyone what I will tell you. No one else can know.” She bit her lip, considering my proposition.
“Alright,” she surrendered reluctantly with a sigh, running a hand through her hair. “I swear I won’t tell anyone. Now tell me, Dragonboy. What had you so worked up?” Lifting my face to stare into the stars, I inhaled as deeply as I could.
“My brother,” I managed to choke out, my throat constricting around the words, catching her attention. I could see her open her mouth to interrogate me, but I held up a hand. “Just, please, allow me to finish. I am sure you can refrain from interrupting me for a few minutes.” Scowling, she rolled her eyes and leaned back against a crate, gesturing limply for me to continue.
“I used to have a twin named Cyrus. We were identical, physically at least. He always liked science and I liked fantasy novels, especially ones with dragons.” I smiled sadly, recalling the hazy memories of our bickering. “We were almost complete opposites, but we were best friends.”
I swallowed hard, trying to keep my emotions under control. I had never shared my story with anyone. It was more difficult than I imagined.
“It was fall,” I stated shortly, speaking around the lump that had formed in my throat. “We were about to start eighth grade. We were twelve, and our parents had home schooled us for a few years. We were above our intended education level, but that is beside the point. You see, in September—”
I stammered, biting my tongue and trying to force the words out. I did not want Akira to ravage my throat, after all. Panting even as I struggled to control my breathing, I shut my eyes, mentally hammering myself. I had trained since I was thirteen to keep my emotions hidden, but it was as if all that training had been turned to dust. Perfect timing.
Akira had been watching me, of that I was certain; her piercing gaze made itself known even when I was turned away. As I struggled to regain composure, she surprised me by hesitantly placing a hand on my bared shoulder, offering a sort of silent support. I met her encouraging stare with a questioning one of my own. With a brief smile, she nodded for me to continue, lifting one eyebrow as if she thought I was being a coward. How she managed to simultaneously be supportive and degrading I would never understand.
“In September of that year, someone set our house on fire,” I whispered, licking my lips tentatively. “It was the thirteenth, our twelfth birthday; I will never forget that day.” I clenched my fists, furrowing my brow, before continuing. “I am still unsure of how I managed to escape that fire. I just remember a few flashes of memories: choking on smoke, hearing Cyrus... hearing him ask me to help him,” I was forced to pause, bringing a fist up to my mouth and resting my mouth on it, “and lying to him. I lied to my brother. He asked me to help him, and I told him I would get help.” I felt my eyes grow wet, but I no longer cared. I could not hold it back anymore.
She patted my shoulder, the best comfort she could offer in silence, and, while I appreciated the attempt, I did not acknowledge it. It did not offer any comfort, anyway.
“I never got help,” I confessed brokenly, shaking my head in anger at myself. “I escaped and made it to safety, but I did not save Cyrus. I could not have. It would have been suicide.” A tear fell from my eye as I tried to work through the inner turmoil I faced. How long has it been since I recounted this tale? Oh, Cyrus... “No. No, I could have saved him. I could have told him where to go or how to get through the fire in his room, but I did not. I left him to die. I abandoned him in his time of need. My own brother.” More tears fell, cascading down my cheeks. I felt undeniably weak, but there was nothing I could do. I needed to continue. I needed to finish.
“I saw him die,” I breathed, resting my arms on my knees and staring at the ground. “Or, in the least, I heard him. I saw the explosion. I could have saved him. Almost five minutes passed between the time I got out and the time when his room exploded. I could have done better. I should have done more. I could have saved him!” I shouted it to the heavens, furious at no one but myself. Biting my lip and inhaling through clenched teeth, I continued in a soft, meek voice.
“I heard him scream. I can still hear him screaming. Every night I hear it. Every waking minute of the day I imagine what he went through in that inferno while I stood outside and watched, helpless and selfish.” Closing my eyes, I took a shaky breath, tensing my entire body inadvertently. “His last word was my name. He screamed it to the heavens for all to hear. He thought I was coming to save him, but I lied. Because of my selfishness, my brother perished in a horrible way. He was my other half, and I was the death of him. I never got the chance to say goodbye or tell him how sorry I was. I killed him, and I can never forgive myself for that.” I closed my eyes, never wanting to face the world again.
Within moments, two arms had surrounded me, and my eyes flashed open the instant they made contact. Akira shook beside me, her face burrowed into my shoulder, and what was visible of her face was streaked with tears. At a loss for words, I managed to return the embrace, perplexed by her reaction. Is she mourning my brother? Does she feel sorry for me? I could not determine her reasoning.
Sniffling only once, she lifted her head, wiping under her eyes and releasing her hold. I followed suit, my eyes still wide.
“Why are you crying?” I questioned softly, confused. She had not experienced it. She had no reason to be so upset.
“Sorry,” she whispered, all traces of sarcasm and threats completely gone, as her voice wavered. She did not answer my question, not immediately. Wondering what she was apologizing to me for, I did not move. “I didn’t mean to, uh, cry on you.” Oh. Shrugging, I averted my gaze again, my eyes dry once more. “Look, Griffin, I just... I’m sorry that you went through that. I had no idea.” Refusing to move, I kept silent, waiting for her pity to pass. I did not want her charity. “The thing is... I kind of went through the same thing.” Not a second passed before my head jerked around to face her and I softened my gaze.
“Akira, I am sorry you have also dealt with the death of family,” I breathed, sitting up straighter, unsure if it was the proper way to console someone. “I knew I was not the only one, but no one should ever face what I did.” A grim smile set itself on her lips, and she exhaled in a sigh.
“You had it a lot worse, though,” she countered, leaning forward to rest her elbows atop her knees. “You lost your whole family at once. I lost my father.”
“How did he pass?” I asked, commending myself on my idiocracy as I did so. “No, I am sorry. I did not mean to-”
“Griffin, calm down,” she laughed, forcing it out, the sound more like a bark than anything. Leaning back once more, she met my gaze evenly.
“My father was a good man, a strong role model who kept everybody in line. No matter what the circumstance, he knew what to do. After my mother left us when I was young, my father stepped up to the plate to take care of us. He taught us to hunt and to have strong morals. We lived here, in the mansion, since I was little with all the other werewolves,” Akira recounted softly, staring at her feet the entire time.
“I was only eight when I began learning how to defend myself. Hunters were always on our tracks, so my father knew it was wise to teach my brother and I how to fight. I had been fighting all of life, of course, but not properly. I didn’t have much experience.” The ghost of a smile danced across her lips.
“My father was always saying how proud he was of me for learning the techniques so quickly. I learned faster than my older brother. It wasn’t a problem to keep up with him.” With a frown, she sighed.
“We would focus for hours on end, so much so that we couldn’t focus on the danger that lurked nearby.” Her fists clenched. “Hunters had found us. They were waiting outside.”
“When they broke down the door, my father told us to hide. I was determined to fight, but I couldn’t endanger my brother. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself.” Though she had not meant to, she had struck a painful chord in me with that sentiment. “Our father was incredible. He attacked with grace and skill. He was so much more talented than us.” Biting her lip, she let out a shaky breath.
“They snuck up on us. We were too absorbed in the action to realize two hunters were not two feet away. They picked us up as if we were nothing, prepared to toss us into cages like mutts.” She gritted her teeth in anger.
“My father heard our cries and took out the hunters. When... when he turned to smile at us, there was a loud noise. A gunshot.” She swallowed. “He stopped smiling. Then, he fell. The hunters had shot him. We were too weak to kill them, and our father was lying in a pool of his blood.” Inhaling, she struggled to catch her breath.
“We tried so hard to keep the hunters away. And we succeeded. But, when they fled... all we could do was cry. Our father, strong and independent, lay on the ground, dying before our eyes. We could’ve done so many things to help him, but we didn’t. If we’d have gone to get help, we thought we wouldn’t get back in time. And he would die either way, no matter what we chose to do.” Trembling, she brushed away a tear from the corner of her eye, lip quivering.
“So we cried. We cried and watched our father die... and did nothing.” By now, fresh tears began streaming down her face, but she did not try to wipe them away, instead covering her face and trying to hide. What should I do??
“We buried him that night and left the next day. After a few months, we parted ways, and, when I discovered that I had nowhere to go, I found my way back. My father left this place to me, and I’ve always wondered why. Why not my brother? Why me? When I did nothing, he still had left this place in my name. To save him... I did nothing. I don’t deserve his kindness.”
It was unlike her, to seem so susceptible to her emotions, and, for a few moments, I was unsure of how to comfort her. She had experienced a life-scarring tragedy just like me. She had learned to hide her emotions like I had, but tonight, I decided, was a night of trust and revelation.
“He knew you were capable of great things,” I answered in a soft, gentle voice, resting a hand on her shoulder and drawing her gaze to mine. “You were young; you could not have saved him. Your guilt is clouded by your insecurity and pain. You did not kill your father. You did the best you could, and, for that, he was grateful.” She lowered her gaze, shaking her head as she sighed, running a hand through her hair.
“But how do you know that?” she demanded, her volume low, glancing at me from the corners of her eyes. “How could you possibly be sure that what you’re saying is the truth? You didn’t know my father. Besides, you think you’re the cause of your brother’s death. You can’t tell me that I’m not responsible for my father’s death when you deny the same about yourself and Cyrus.” I was taken aback, surprised she had brought the subject back to me.
“I was the cause of his death, and I regret not doing anything to help him every day,” I responded in a low voice, refusing to allow her to lie to me. “You tried to save your father. I did nothing. Our stories are different; you cannot compare them like you are trying to.”
“Hey,” she snapped, turning to face me abruptly, “you were ten years old, were you not?” Shocked, I barely managed to nod. “Exactly. You were just a kid, like I was. You couldn’t have done anything. You would have gotten killed if you’d tried. Stop... beating yourself up over this and face the truth. I didn’t kill my father, and you didn’t kill your brother; whoever set the fire did. You didn’t do anything.”
“You are right,” I sighed, turning away. “I did not do anything.” Seeing that her words had had the wrong implication on me than she had intended, she began to object, but I stopped her. “I watched as my house burnt to the ground. I may not have started the fire and I may not have killed my family, but I could have tried to save them. It is my biggest regret.” She seemed to want to speak, but I was not finished, not yet. “I will redeem myself, however. I intend to find the man who murdered my family and avenge their deaths.”
“But, how would you find him?” she pondered skeptically. “It’s been over ten years. He could be dead by now.” I shook my head, the movement tense, clenching my fists.
“No, I know who committed the crime,” I responded, my words sharp, narrowing my eyes out of habit. “I do not know where he is exactly, but I would know him if I saw him. He is even on your tracking device in the Xenogenesis Laboratory section. It was the man who took me under his care that night and put me through unbearable torture. What he did to me...” I shuddered, recalling the infinite hours of agony I had endured. “No, I apologize. I cannot go into that, not now. That part of my past must remain a secret.” She appeared offended at first, but, sighing, she relaxed. “Look, Akira, the thing is, my past is something I hold dear. You are the first person ever to hear about my childhood.”
“And you’re the first to hear about mine,” she cut in, drawing my stare to her. She smiled briefly, regarding me with a strange expression.
“Then I must implore you to forgive yourself,” I stated forcefully, catching her by surprise and hardening my gaze. “It is not healthy to dwell on your guilt, especially when you are not truly at fault.”
“Then you have to do the same, okay?” she pleaded, her red eyes kind. “Don’t be a hypocrite.” Raising an eyebrow, I nodded without thought. She smiled a genuine grin, and, with only a moment’s hesitation, her hand moved towards mine, intertwining our fingers. Eyes wide, I could only turn to face her, hating that I could feel my cheeks flushing. Her face was flushed, as well, but she continued grinning. I could not explain it, but, for some reason, I did not mind having her hand in mine. Maybe it was because we shared such personal items of business.
Or, maybe, just maybe, it was something different.
We sat like that for quite some time, staring off into the distance hand in hand. It felt so strange, so cliche, to be so close to someone, but I was not complaining, not in the least. I enjoyed the company, more than I would ever let on.
Hours passed, and, finally, she rose to her feet, pulling me up with her, as she yawned.
“It’s getting late, don’t you think? We should probably head inside,” she insisted softly, her eyes appearing heavy-lidded. I nodded, keeping a firm hold on her hand. It may have been the exhaustion sweeping over me, but I cared about Akira, more than I could express with words.
Together, we descended the stairs, making our way to the hallway that contained our rooms. I started to pull away after reaching her room, but she refused to release my hand. Puzzled, I stopping tugging, settling for staring at her inquisitively.
“Thank you, for showing me that you aren’t all bad,” she whispered, staring up at me kindly. Unsure of how to respond, I remained silent. “I know I said you were an a** before, but, tonight, I realized that you’re actually a decent guy. Just stay that way, okay?” Stunned, I nodded, words seeming inappropriate at the time, Akira finally releasing my hand. “And thanks for trusting me.”
“Thank you for listening.”
As I turned away, she spoke once more.
“Stay with me,” she ordered gently, causing my eyebrows to raise. “Just one night. Come on.” Biting my lip, I contemplated her offer, wondering if it was a good idea.
Sighing, I obliged, following her into the darkness and pulling the door shut behind me, leaving us in our own world for a little while longer.
The night was filled with carefree times, meaningful conversations, and nothing more than a few insignificant discoveries. It was... pleasant. Unusually so, but nice nonetheless.
Perhaps all I had ever needed was someone who was willing to listen. Though I had never thought of it before, perhaps all I needed was a friend.
In the end, maybe all I really needed was Akira.
Even with my newfound discovery and enlightening relief... nothing could have prepared me for what would come in the morning.
Woooo tragic backstories and inclusion of EVERY CHARACTER GUYS!!! Make way for the plot twist MWAHAHAHAHHA ahem :D so ah.... hope you enjoyed it.... hehehe :3 Honest to Celestia, I wrote the majority of this 3-4 months ago, but I tried to fix everything. The first part (before Griffy’s dream) I added the other day (like... Friday). So I hope I did a decent job!!! Comments and critiques are welcome and encouraged! <3