Life After Purpose: Part V

Life After Purpose

Part V: All I Have

 

I…couldn’t seem to figure it out. The game seemed so simple, but I was doing so, so poorly. Perhaps this sort of thing just wasn’t for me. Either that, or I just had to try harder. I made a note for that along with another plan to win Annabelle over. I wasn’t going to be easy. She didn’t speak her mind that much, but she was clearly passionate whenever she did. I found that admirable. Along with her eyes I could always lose myself in. Speaking of which, when I glanced over at her to see what she was doing, I saw her eyes on me.

She then tore her gaze away from mine and looked down at the page in front of her. I noticed that she was really tense now even though I didn’t mean to make her uncomfortable. It was kind of amusing to see how flustered she’d get whenever I decided to push my luck in the slightest.

“So, what’re you drawing so intently over there?” I asked, trying to break the awkward silence.

“N-Nothing. It’s nothing. How’s the game going?” She quickly closed the sketchbook, shutting the drawing away.

I wish I knew what it was…

“Uh…alright.” I didn’t want to tell her how poorly I’d done.

“Really? Can I take a look?”

“I guess, but don’t expect anything too great.” I shrugged.

Annabelle stood up and came over to the desk. My heart raced when she leaned in and did some sort of commands to view some statistics on the screen. Crap, now she’d definitely see how much I sucked. She stared at them intently for a while until I found I couldn’t hold in what I felt anymore. I was never one to be patient, really.

“Well, this isn’t bad to be honest-” Her voice was cut off when I pulled her close and kissed her gently.

She didn’t respond in any way, so I let go and inched away. I started to doubt whether that had been a good idea. I only assumed that she liked me and what I’d done just might just ruin whatever we had. She currently looked both deep in thought and frozen at the same time.

“I…I should go.” I stood up and went to the door.

“Don’t. I was just a little surprised that’s all.”

“I shouldn’t have forced myself on you like that, I’m sorry. I’ve never been one to wait, you know?” I mumbled, feeling miserable and full of regret.

“It’s alright. I assume you…want us to be more than what we are?”

“That’s kind of a blunt way of putting it, but okay. And yeah, it is what I want. What about you?”

She looked to be collecting her thoughts and once again seemed extremely focused.

“I do like you. A lot, really. But, there’s people after me and I can’t drag you into that.” Annabelle’s eyes fell to the floor.

“I’m not afraid of them. I…can help you. I can protect you!”

“I can do it myself, or at least I’ll learn to. It’s why I’m here.”

“You can’t be alone in this and have it weighing on your back. Please trust me when I say I do want to help you. I…I need something to believe in…again.” My voice trailed off when I realized I’d let a little too much information out.

“What do you mean by that?”

“Nothing…I shouldn’t have said anything.” I rubbed my forehead as a mild headache started to stir.

“Is it about your sibling, by any chance?”

“Maybe…”

“You’re not the only one who’s lost someone. I can’t even see her anymore if I wanted to.”

“Why’s that?”

“It’s a long story…” She laughed nervously.

“We’ve got time, right?”

“I guess, but I don’t know if you want to hear about this sort of thing.”

“Hey, I can always make time for you. Don’t forget that.” I gave her a kind smile. Or the kindest I could manage anyway.

“You might was so sit down, then.” She sighed before going back to where she was before.

I sat down beside her, maybe a little too close just to see what she’d do. Like before, she froze up and blinked a few times before her face turned red. My gaze went from the sketchbook she used back to her. I was still curious to see what she’d drawn in there.

“So, what happened?” I asked, my attention now back on her.

“Her name was Natalie. We met in a…hospital and she was my room mate.”

“Ah. What happened, if I may ask?”

She bit her lip and looked away.

“It’s alright if you don’t want to answer.” I shrugged.

“Where I was…it was a psychiatric hospital…” Her hands were clenched where she sat.

“I see. Those places are never fun. They try and lock you up while claiming you’re too helpless and dangerous to care for yourself.”

“You’ve been admitted to one?”

“Well, yeah. After June passed away, I tried to kill myself. The cutting didn’t help, either. My time there had been short as it, err, ‘stained’ the reputation of my parents and I was assigned someone who’d check up on me while I went to school. She was a bitch, to say the least.”

“Who’s June? Your sister?”

I nodded and took a deep breath.

“She was. She died in a car accident a few years ago. I was being careless and wasn’t paying attention. She pushed me out of the way and…the next thing I saw was her on the ground. I couldn’t help her…Those who knew her at the school I went to blamed me. My parents clearly do and to be honest, I do, too. If only I wasn’t so goddamned rash…she’d be…” I stopped myself and took an uneasy breath.

“You can’t blame yourself for what happened. She chose to do what she did and she did it for you.” She put a reassuring hand on my shoulder.

“Yeah, probably. So what happened to Natalie?” I wasn’t convinced, but I wasn’t about to argue.

“Well, we continued our relationship after we both were released. It was okay for a while until she tried to take her own life and was readmitted. I tried to see her, but then let it slip that we’d been dating and was cut off from her life. The last thing I heard from her was that we couldn’t be together anymore. I still miss her.”

“Let me guess. Homophobic parents?”

“Yeah…”

“Some people aren’t as accepting to it. To be honest, I didn’t think you’d acknowledge my advances or anything.”

“To be fair, you don’t really come across as someone who’d enjoy the company of anyone. You looked pretty tense and irritable…”

“I guess you’re not the only one who needs a ‘gay as hell’ sign, huh?”

“Apparently not.” She laughed lightheartedly.

I looked out the window and my thoughts returned to June. I couldn’t believe I told someone what had happened to her. I’d come close to revealing it earlier with another student, but I simply didn’t have it in me at the time. The loss still hurt so much in my mind. If anything, talking about did feel like some sort of weight being lifted from my shoulders, if only a bit.

My eyes returned to Annabelle again. I had her attention when I took her hand in mine. I had to find another purpose. I needed to.

“So…what do you say?” I asked, hoping she’d accept me.

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Sanguine: Part III

Sanguine

Part III: Someone Like You

I was still deep in my thoughts before Yougen spoke again.

“Hey, I’m kinda hungry. Can you help me? I’m really tired.” Yougen seemed hesitant on speaking her own thoughts.

“Ah, of course.” I remained absentminded as I helped her to the kitchen.

She eagerly went over to the fridge and kind of dug into random things in one of the most strangest displays of gusto I’ve ever seen. I wondered how hungry she’d been to have been so…passionate about that sort of thing. Yougen tried to get the dishes done, so I helped her with that too. She seemed happy that I was doing so.

“Hey, so…I made something for you.” Her voice was now really quiet.

“What? Why? Why would you do this?”

“Did I do something wrong?” She frowned.

“You’ve already done so much for me. This is plain unheard of…I am to serve your kind, not the other way around.”

“Serve? Don’t be silly…Just try it, okay?”

“I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

“Gosh, you’re stubborn. Is there any chance you’ll reconsider?”

“I don’t think so.” I looked away.

“Please?” She gave a look that only made things harder for me.

“Fine.”

“Oh, good. Here, it’s probably cold by now…” She held out something I didn’t recognize.

I sighed and tried the…mystery item. I expected to not be able to taste anything, but there was a slight sweetness to it that brought back a few fond memories. My father wasn’t a very good cook though, he did do his best. As much as I missed him I couldn’t afford to dwell on these thoughts.

“Is it good?”

“Yeah, it is. You might have a knack for this sort of thing.”

“You think so? It’s just something I threw together.”

“Yeah, I’m sure they’d let you join them whenever they make something.”

“I…don’t think so. They seem to do good enough without me.”

“Is that why you don’t talk much with the others?”

“H-Hey, you don’t, either!” She was clearly trying to defend herself, but I saw right through it.

“I don’t have the time to build on such bonds. If I’m going to, I have to keep them…limited. I don’t see your reason, though.”

“If you must know, I often feel out of place here…It might just be in my head, but I’m sometimes more self-conscious than I realize.” She scratched her arm out of how uncomfortable she was.

“I know how it feels.”

“Do you? Whatever you go during your time…do you feel out of place there to? I heard you came through a rift too, yes?” She seemed doubtful.

“It was a part of an experiment. I’m still trying to find answers about other things…It’s only gotten more difficult since I came through it.”

“We’re somewhere completely different now. I’m trying to adjust the best I can. I didn’t think you’d be going through something similar. You just seem so…disciplined?”

“Yeah, I…where I came from, they treated me a certain way. It hasn’t changed at all here.”

“Is that a bad thing?”

I went silent.

“They treat me like a monster. I thought they’d be more accepting. Even after everything I do for them.” I mumbled bitterly.

“Now, why would they do that? You don’t seem dangerous?”

I laughed in disbelief.

“Oh, right. You weren’t there for the whole power party thing nor did you do too much to the Rook, either. I never found out what you could do.”

“Perhaps that’s for the better.” My voice remained bitter.

“Let’s go back to my room. We can show each other there if you want?”

“I don’t know…I’m not really supposed to use my abilities without a good enough reason.”

“They don’t need to know every detail of your life. Come on.” She gave a small pout before going back to her room with a new found energy.

I sighed and followed her. One we were back in the room, she was a little silent and seemed deep in thought. She went over to the desk and looked through some notes she had written down. They didn’t look very organized. I wondered what she was looking for. When I went over there, she got flustered and shut the notebook suddenly.

“Uh…”

“I was just looking for something to help with the transformation. Certain memories make it a little easier. I had them written down somewhere. Along with a LOT of other crap…like, crap you shouldn’t see.” Yougen seemed flustered.

“Embarrassing notes about the others? Got it.”

“N-No…They’re just so I remember, I swear! And they’re not about everyone…”

“Sure.” I gave an amused grin.

“So, were we gonna do the reveal or what?” She said, desperate for a topic change.

“I guess so.”

“Ladies first.” Yougen didn’t seem to realize I didn’t get the joke.

“I don’t get your sense of humour.” I took the coat off so it wouldn’t be damaged.

“Don’t worry, it was kinda lame, heheh.” She said before staring up at me expectantly.

I took a few steps away and held out my left arm. I focused and felt the spiked blades jut out from my arm. It stung slightly and I flinched a bit from the strain. Seeing as how much I’d already pushed myself, it wasn’t wise that I was doing this at all. I was breathing harder than I realized and tried to relax a little. Looking over at Yougen, there was a fascination in her eyes.

“Can I…Touch them?”

“They’re not supposed to be touched…”

“You are much too tense.” She pouted again.

“I assume your ability is one that easily lets you convince others to get your way…” I looked away.

“Nah, I’m a lot like you, but I’m sure you already knew that.”

“Right.”

“So, can I?”

“Fine, I guess I do owe you for the coat.”

“Thank you.” Yougen smiled and I tried to remain still as she came close and touched the now black skin.

She brushed my skin with her fingertips and I got even more tense than I already was. My fatigue was already taking it’s toll on me. She seemed to notice and pulled away.

“Does it hurt you?”

“A little. It gets more noticeable with overuse.”

“I didn’t know, I’m sorry.” She frowned.

“It’s alright.” I relaxed and the blades melted away.

“So, does it only happen with your arm?”

“I had a full transformation once…” I admitted, wondering how she’d respond.

“What did it look like?”

“Something like Rowan, only…spikier, I guess?”

“Because, well…the thing is…”

“I already know.”

“Oh, right you saw me during class…Do you still want to see?”

“If you don’t mind.”

“Okay. I just gotta clear my head.” She shut her eyes and exhaled.

The transformation came suddenly and I felt something burn inside of me. I wasn’t exactly sure why this was happening and dismissed it. Yougen’s slightly familiar form revealed itself and she smiled shyly. She stood taller than me when she got up from the wheelchair. Her eyes were down at the floor, like she was avoiding looking at me.

“I’ve gotta stretch out, haha. It gets sorta cramped.”

“Hm.” I remained deep in thought.

“What’s wrong?” She looked nervous.

“It’s nothing.”

“Is it really that bad?”

“No, I’m just thinking of what it was like back then.”

“Sorry if this brought up anything nasty.”

“I would probably be more useful in that form, but I cannot control it.”

“You’re already really strong. I could tell you could’ve taken on Rook, but you held back. I’m sure your other form would just be unfair for our enemies, haha.” She gave a bright smile.

Her smile was a little different at the moment, before it was uncertain and cautious. It was currently filled with confidence. I wasn’t sure why I took note of this, but I was felt a little happy knowing she was feeling a little better.

“Pff…Flattery?” I scoffed, slightly amused.

“Maybe a little. And, um…I hear Annabelle coming back.”

“Ah.”

“Can we, like…hang out again?”

“Sure. I’m sure we have a lot to talk about still.” I took the coat in my hands.

“You can still use that if you want. It’s gonna get cold soon.”

“I must repay your kindness. Somehow.”

“Don’t worry about that.”

“Alright, well…goodnight, Yougen.”

“See ya.”

She bid me farewell and I went back to my assigned room. My roommate was there, but already fast asleep. She was either a deep sleeper or oddly restless. There was no in between. However, I was able to tell that her mood was a little lighter too. Seems things were possibly looking up for the both of us.

 

Life After Purpose: Part IV

Life After Purpose

Part IV: Annabelle

My mind was still heavy as I stared at the screen. I was still a little upset from what happened with Mace, but I’d had some time to think it over and I felt worse because what’d happened was probably my fault. My temper often got the best of me.

“Since we have more time than I thought, want to go to my room? We’ll have some privacy there.” Annabelle said, pulling my attention away from my own misery.

“Sure.” I took the computer with me and followed her. I was nervous over the proposition and tried my best not to show it.

Her room looked a little plain. I’d done the liberty of decorating my, erm, half to my own liking despite my roommate’s dismay. Maybe Annabelle would like one of the posters I’d managed to stash somewhere…There was still a lot I wanted to do with the room, but it probably wasn’t going to happen.

Annabelle then mentioned why there wasn’t much to begin and then continued with a story I struggled to follow. Something about yakuza and running away which involved demons, which I guess were a thing?

“That’s a long and weird story.” I said as I tried to make sense of it.

“What’s yours?”

“Eh, my parents just signed me up.” I shrugged. It hadn’t really been my decision, had just managed to get to school to accept me so I’d continue the family business…

“I guess not everyone has got to have one hell of a weird story.”

“Yeah…” A brief sense of anguish entered my mind from the memories.

I looked around the room for something else to talk about. I wasn’t in the mood for getting into something too heavy or depressing. One would think I’d already had enough of that crap, already. I noticed a sport bag leaning against the desk that clashed a little with the rest of her things.

“Is that your bag?” I asked.

“No, that’s my sister Emma’s I just borrowed it.”

“Oh. What does she play?” It was hard not to think about June at this point, she had had a bag almost identical she used for her fencing lessons…

“Lacrosse. She’s a midfielder.” She answered, not that I had any idea what Lacrosse was.

“So is she older or younger than you?”

“We’re twins, the identical kind. Well, not so identical… She’s smart, athletic and beautiful. And I’m just…” Her voice trailed off and she looked at the floor.

“Just beautiful and amazing in your own way?” My hand went over hers in an attempt to have her feel even just a little better.

But it had an opposite effect as she abruptly changed the topic which had me thinking what I’d done wasn’t welcome. And even worse, she asked if I had any siblings. I got really freaking tense and tried not to panic.

“I did, yeah.” I avoided her eyes.

“You did?” She responded, putting emphasis on my use of past tense.

“It’s a long story… One I’d rather not talk about right now…” I glanced at her and my eyes probably revealed more that I would have wanted.

“I’m sorry.”

I didn’t reply. I saw her move a little closer in an attempt at a hug.

“Can I?”

The whole idea would’ve been exciting if it hadn’t followed something so emotional. I didn’t really like people touching me, either. However, I couldn’t find it within myself to reject her, especially with her having that look in her eyes. The second there was contact, I inhaled sharply and almost pulled away. My mind was just hell right now.

“Not a hug-loving person, are you?”

“Not in the least bit.” I mumbled.

“Alright then. Do you still want to play HotM?”

“Uh, sure.” I sighed a little in relief.

I watched as she stood up and went over to the desk to set everything up. She spent some time on the computer and I started to wonder if I’d handled it improperly. I wasn’t known to be very careful, after all. I saw the familiar screen of the game and went over to her.

“You sure you don’t mind me hogging your laptop?”

“It’s okay, I spend so much time on it that a break is welcome really. And hey, I can just get my sketchbook out. I haven’t worked on my art in ages.”

“You draw?”

“Yeah, just pencil sketches, nothing big really…”

“I do too.” I replied, feeling a little down because I wasn’t really good with my art, either.

“Really?”

“Yeah, I’ve always liked drawing stuff. Mostly creatures though.”

“Oh, that’s nice. Say, do you want to see my art?”

“If you’re okay with it.”

She got out a sketchbook from a nearby drawer. She held a few of them out to me and I took them in my hands. I felt like I was intruding whenever I looked through someone else’s drawings and when I set my eyes on a few her works, it was clear I might be looking at more than I could understand. I struggled to think of what they could mean. Annabelle was looking over at me expectantly.

“It’s interesting. Kind of surreal and weird. But it’s really cool.”

“Yeah, I tend to draw the things I see or hear.” She sounded slightly reluctant.

“The things you see or hear?”

“I’m schizophrenic…” Her voice went really quiet. “I learned to draw to illustrate my warped thoughts.”

“Ah, I see.” I wasn’t sure what to say as I had little to no knowledge of the whole thing.

I probably should’ve said something else as I could see a hint of frustration in her eyes. I started to feel guilty because she might’ve thought that I was going to reject her or something.

“Here’s your sketchbook. It’s really nice.” I held it out to her and kind of hoped that she’d forgive my ignorance.

“Thanks.” Was all she said.

I watched her as she went to a fresh page and got out some pencils. She glanced at me and I gave her a reassuring smile. She tore her gaze away and her attention went back to the papers.

“So, you talked about the prison break thing?”

“Oh Right. We still have plenty of time, BVPB only takes about twenty minutes with a half-decent group.” She said as she set up several things on the screen and then proceeded to try and explain it all to me.

“Just remember, when the chief starts casting ‘call backup’ use your interrupt. You don’t want to mess with the adds he summons.” She warned me yet again.

“That’s the fourth time you’ve reminded me.” I laughed a little even though I didn’t really know what she was talking about. She’d tried to explain dozens of gaming terms but I didn’t have the memory for them.

“Sorry.”

“Ah, it’s okay. I think I’ve got this in the bag, if I don’t I’ll just ask you.”

“Alright, I’ll leave you to it.” She walked over to the bed and sat down. My eyes followed her for some time until I heard my character being hit.

I swore under my breath and got into the game. I wasn’t really doing too well with it, but the team had some good enough players so we didn’t fail the instance. The controls were still awkward and difficult to use. I didn’t want to express I was having difficulty. This last bit of my pride was all I had left from what’d happened today.

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Sanguine: Part II

Sanguine

Part II: My Purpose

We both held back on what we’d went through. It was understandable seeing as we’d only just met a short while ago. She did seem to calm down a little as we talked, though, so I guess that was something. However, I still had a feeling that she was going to keep being a slob no matter what I did. I’d have no choice but to deal with it. It was still uncomfortable to have someone that close to me for an extended period of time. Especially someone who irked me as much as she did.

I didn’t get very much sleep that night. I didn’t require that much of it, but it was still something I enjoyed to a certain extent. Seeing how much they would tire me out, one would think I’d welcome any sort of break. In reality, I couldn’t simply decide otherwise. It was like serving them was hard wired deep into my being. I did often want to be “normal” in a sense, but that sort of existence would lead to some sort of monotony which I didn’t think I could deal with. Even now, the few things I felt were pushed out of my consciousness and were replaced with the feeling to serve. Anytime I’d grow upset over this, that would be pushed out too.

Now that I think about it, this sort of existence was growing dull too. I remember I was able to fight it before by forming bonds with others that would hold this cursed instinct off for long enough for me to regain myself. I wondered if I could do so again. They wouldn’t be happy if I were to go against their orders, or find that I was gaining a personality. I vaguely remembered it being wiped in the facility where I was before. Despite the risk, I thought it was worth it to at least try and then feign ignorance if I got caught.

On the third day of me being here, I went about my schedule with little enthusiasm. I remember the day before where the other had some sort of get together during the afternoon. That hadn’t interest me that much and I wondered if I should spend the rest of the day at the facility or to study here. I tried the latter and it only got an awkward conversation with my roommate.

Today, though, I wanted things to go a little better. I still had my responsibilities to uphold, so I figured I should go about them first. They required me to be at the facility rather early in the morning. Unfortunately, this time I found I couldn’t get very far outside. The cold was a bane to almost anyone with black blood, I heard, or at least ones with the pure material. I’d observed both Yougen and Rowan being unaffected. Lucky them.

I’d retreated back inside before I collapsed. My own fatigue from fighting the shock was wearing me down and after I was now safe. I sure hoped that they wouldn’t be upset if I were late. I decided I would give myself a few more hours before trying to go out again. I then realized it would be too late to go and got a little frustrated. Of course, this didn’t last long. I was filled with embarrassment when I noticed someone looking at me.

“Are you okay? Is it really cold out, or something?” Yougen said, obviously nervous.

“No…Yes…I don’t know.” I remembered I wasn’t exactly talented with holding conversations with others.

“I have a warm jacket if you want to borrow it. There’s down lined inside of it.”

Her offer seemed tempting, but I barely knew her. I was curious to how she’d obtained the black blood, though. Among other things, that is.

“It’s nice and warm. I’ll go get it…” She turned around to go back where she came.

“I’ll come with you. It’s clear I can’t be outside in that climate otherwise.”

She gave a shy smile before going over to her assigned room. I took in the few details of it and noticed that she’d kept things in an orderly fashion. I didn’t realize that I’d said this out loud, but she didn’t see it as awkward as I thought she would. We spoke of our room mates and I mentioned that mine was certainly not the most organized person ever. Yougen was lucky to get someone who wasn’t as careless.

“Anyway, you can borrow this as long as you want to.” She held out the jacket.

Again, I was unsure.

“Come on, I don’t want you to freeze out there.”

“Alright, fine.” I gave in to her pressure and carefully put the jacket on.

“Looks nice on you.” She smiled brightly.

“R-Right. I really have to get going, though. I’ll answer your questions later. Thank you, Yougen.” I gave her a casual nod before going back outside.

Like I expected, my superiors were not happy with my tardiness. They subjected me to more training instead of my usual guard duties. I wasn’t sure if it was a punishment or not, but I appreciated any opportunity to better myself. I was informed that I didn’t have much time before I to attended the classes. In a way, I was relieved to know that I’d be in a less strict environment soon enough.

Despite my best efforts, I kept getting distracted and they’d sent me off early because of my negligence. Yougen’s carefree smile was seemingly stuck in my mind. It was like the girl hadn’t a care in the world. I didn’t know those like myself could experience such a thing. That is, other than…no, I couldn’t think about that one. The “failed” experiment that’d come after me. They said it perished, but I didn’t believe their words one bit. I did recall that they mentioned that the subject had a yearning for freedom which made a chill go through me every time I thought of why it had perished to begin with.

The classes in the morning were a little demanding, especially on top of what I’d already done today. There were others doing worse than I was. I wasn’t sure what to do when one of the students looked as though they were about to collapse. My roommate, on the other hand, seemed eager to take part in the class. Such enthusiasm I hadn’t seen from her in any other class up until now.

After this, we got some experience with dealing with a rather skilled opponent. He simply went by the name Rook, but his techniques were anything but simple. He knew his way around with dealing with parahumans. I didn’t really want to get into a confrontation with him especially after seeing what he was capable of, but my turn came eventually and I had no choice but to submit. I was not ordered to harm another human without a good reason. I doubted the Rook would actually try to kill me, especially after I’d claimed to be defeated.

A few more students were introduced throughout the day. I was to go back and work for my superiors once the classes ended even though I sort of wanted to get to know the others a little better during that time. I did what they wanted in dismay. They knew I wasn’t really happy with my current situation, but chose not to bring it up. They also knew they could only push me so hard before I grew…troublesome. When that happened, something else would take over and instinct would dictate my actions. My memories of that occurrence were very faint.

I got back a little late and I was eager to relax a little. I chose to study for a bit in my assigned room. To my luck, my room mate wasn’t there, so I could go about this in peace. I only got a few minutes in before I was disturbed again by a knock at the door.

“Hey, are you awake?” Yougen’s voice could barely be heard.

I went over and opened the door to see her there. She’d clearly been sleeping before as she was in the proper attire while looking quite drowsy.

“I just got back.”

“So I heard.”

“You weren’t waiting, were you?”

“Maybe. You took your time getting back here.”

“Sorry, I didn’t know.” I looked away awkwardly.

“Do you have time to talk now?”

“I could spare a few minutes.”

“Cool. Do you want me to come in?” She fidgeted with something she held in her hands.

“Sure. My roommate is out somewhere it seems.” I stepped aside so she could get past me.

“That’s a little odd.”

“I’m sure she hasn’t gotten far. Anyway, what did you want to talk about?” I went over and sat in the chair beside the desk.

“Where to begin?” Yougen looked flustered.

“You want to know more about the black blood, right?”

“Y-Yes. Since I was exposed to the material.”

“Exposed how?” I struggled to understand what she was saying.

“Long story short, I injected myself with it. Not the smartest thing I’ve ever done.”

“Why would you chose to do this to yourself!?”

“I got curious. It’s also how I ended up here, of all places.”

“Tsk…” I looked away.

“Is it really that bad?”

“You cannot tell anyone about this, they could-”

“They already know. It’s why I’m here.”

“Then why…?” I stopped to regain my composure.

“They…make you serve them, don’t they? They said I wasn’t capable of…service because of my condition…” Her voice was quiet and she chose her words carefully.

“I had to serve them where I was before. I could only be honest once I showed up here. Otherwise, I’m certain I’d be lost.”

“Well, that’s bullshit if you ask me.” She shrugged.

“How do you mean?”

“Shouldn’t you decide if you want to serve them?”

“They say our power needs to be controlled.”

“I don’t care what they say. What matters is what we want in the end. They don’t control us. You deserve a better life. Not just wall to wall stress and work. I’m sure they know that, too. Even happens in humans. Push too hard and they’ll push back. They’re a lot like us. I found that out the hard way…”

“Hm…” I pondered her words, but they failed to stick in my mind.

“You’re blocking it out, aren’t you?”

“I…I can’t be thinking about this.”

“Why not shut them out for once?”

“That’s absurd.” I stood up and turned away.

“I’m serious. Maybe that way, you’ll know what you want.”

“I…don’t think so.”

“Don’t think, just do.” She came in close and hugged me close.

Everything inside told me to panic and push her away. They said I shouldn’t let others get close to me. I didn’t want to lash out and hurt someone. I had the feeling that I’d done so before. They didn’t tell me anything else about this, though.

I was still rather tense as I pushed her away gently. She looked disappointed and a little defeated. I was able to realize something while she’d done that though. I still wanted to protect people, but I wanted it to be my own choice. My goal now was to not be used as a tool by my superiors. Maybe by suppressing that, I’d be able to find out more about who I am.

 

White-Out: Part II

White-out

Part II: Some Relief

Being here sure was tiring. My other form was pushed to its limit and clearly had no effect on my current one. There probably weren’t that many options for me to begin with. It didn’t bother me that much. I found that I could stay as my other self a bit longer every time I’d transform into it. There was a certain presence that would force its way into my head whenever this happened, but it remained dormant for the most part. I remember that when I was before, it easily overpowered my own will and forced me to to take someone’s life. I instantly felt sick from thinking about it.

I also found that I was growing negligent over my current form. My other one oddly reminded me of that mutant who went by the name of Rowan. I wondered if the same material had been discovered wherever they’d come from or if the others here had been exposed to it. Several others here did send a chill down my spine. The one that had my attention was Annabelle. She was a little withdrawn and seemingly innocent enough, but something about her had me on edge. I decided not to focus on this after she showed genuine concern for my well-being.

I may have stared at her for a little too long after she’d asked me, though. Or, that could have just been in my head, I’m not sure. Everyone here seemed so kind. I’m sure that mistake from earlier was an accident as I could tell Jaime wasn’t really sure what she was looking it. Still, I’d seen worse ignorance where I was before.

I was currently fixated on repairing a pair of headphones that played only though the left side. The wires were a little beyond what I could do with what materials I had, though. I couldn’t do any more with it tonight and set everything away.

I felt a little uneasy as I went out into the room where we all were before. Annabelle was outside talking to someone, but I didn’t know where the others were. I found I wasn’t really hungry and was about to go back into the room until I saw Rowan sleeping on the floor, curled up like a cat. I wondered why they slept here and not in their room.

Getting over to them was a little tiring as my arms had clearly wanted to just rest already. They heard me when I got close enough and seemed a little dazed for a moment.

“Oh, it’s already night?” They stretched out before standing up.

“Seems like it.” I replied, trying not to seem too interested in what they were doing.

“Right…later, then.”

“Wait, I need to ask you something.”

“No, you can’t pet me.”

“It wasn’t that, besides I don’t think you’d let me, anyway.” I laughed nervously.

“What do you want?”

“I just would like to know if you knew anything about the Black Blood. You see, my other form was a result of a altered variation of it.”

They seemed deep in thought for a moment.

“I don’t know that much about it. There were only rumours here and there about what was really going on. What ever had attacked me back then could’ve been something that had been infected with the stuff, but I’m not really sure.”

“Hmm…” I looked at the ground and tried to make sense of it.

“Maybe ask the other one about it.”

“The other one?”

“Yeah, I didn’t really catch her name. Also had yellow eyes. Haven’t seen her around much, though. She definitely has the Black Blood as far as I can tell.”

“Are we supposed to be able to sense each other, or something?”

“Are you saying you can’t?”

“Not like this, no…”

“Ah, well…at least you can choose when you want others to fear you.” Their voice sounded rather bitter.

“It’s not that simple.”

“Whatever you say. I’m going back to sleep before I get cranky.” They took another look at me before going into one of the other rooms nearby.

I watched them leave. They’d obviously been through more than I could imagine. Probably everyone here had gone through something or another. I went back into my assigned room and tried to go back to sleep. It didn’t come and I ended up getting no rest that night. I was exhausted and didn’t boast the kindest mood when the others saw me.

“Got no sleep, huh?” Rowan said from behind me. I didn’t know that they were standing there.

“None at all. I feel terrible.”

“Ah, well that sucks. You might want to bother that other one before she disappears again.”

“Alright…” I mumbled.

“Good luck.”

I searched everywhere while the others ate and talked amongst themselves. I found her, but she was clearly about to go outside. Going over to her, my arms were begging for me to stop moving. She almost went out the door until I spoke up.

“W-Wait…”

The look in her eyes was cold and I felt uncomfortable having her gaze on me.

“What?”

“Um, I just want to ask you a few things if that’s alright?”

“I have places to be. Maybe some other time.” She glanced outside.

“Oh, alright…” I frowned.

Yikaru took one more look at me before going outside. I sat there feeling defeated until she came back inside, shivering noticeably. She was clearly trying to hide that she was in pain. She gave me an embarrassed look when she noticed me staring.

“Are you okay? Is it really cold out, or something?”

“No…Yes…I don’t know.” She cringed.

“I have a warm jacket if you want to borrow it. There’s down lined inside of it.”

She seemed hesitant.

“It’s nice and warm. I’ll go get it…”

“I’ll come with you. It’s clear I can’t be outside in that climate otherwise.”

I gave a faint smile. She followed me to the room and watched as I looked through my things. I found it neatly folded up where I’d left it.

“You keep things in order.” She stated blankly.

“Yes, so I can find them easier of course.”

“Must be nice. Seems I can’t do such a thing without it being disturbed.”

“Yeah your roommate seems sorta…abrasive?”

“You have no idea. Seriously, who uses up all the ink in someone else’s pen? It’s like it’s some kind of joke to her. I do hope yours is a little better.”

“Yes, she is. She doesn’t really talk much, though.”

“Ah.” She seemed deep in thought.

“Anyway, you can borrow this as long as you want to.” I held the jacket out to her.

Again, she seemed hesitant.

“Come on. I don’t want you to freeze out there.”

“Alright, fine.” Yikaru accepted my gesture and put the jacket on.

“Looks nice on you.” I smiled again.

“Right. I really have to get going, though. I’ll answer your questions later. Thank you, Yougen.” She nodded before walking out.

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Enmity: Part I

Enmity

Part I: Angst

“Rowan, please try to understand…”

“No! Why would you do this? Why would they let you!?”

“You’ll be happy there. That’s all I want.”

“What about what I want? Have you ever thought of that?”

My dad looked flustered and fearful. Deep down, I knew he cared about me, but I hated that he’d do such a thing behind my back. Somehow, he’d submitted an application to an institute a ways away from here. It would require me to study over there for a long time. I flat out hated the thought.

“They’ve already accepted your application. They know about others with your condition. They can help you. Please give them a chance.”

I took a deep breath.

“Fine, but I’m not happy about this at all.”

“Alright. I’ll drive you over to where the bus is scheduled to arrive.”

“They expect me to fit on a bus?” I said in frustration.

“I’m sure it’ll be okay. Please keep an open mind to the whole thing, alright?”

“I’ll try. When do we go?”

“Let’s see…it’s the 5th today. So, tomorrow.”

“What the hell, were you going to tell me?!”

“I lost track of time.” He shrugged.

I mumbled angrily in response.

“Better get packing, Rowan. Be sure to rest early.” He turned around and went into the kitchen.

I went upstairs to my and took out the bag I used for school when I used to attend one. It’s probably been several months since then. I looked through my things and decided to pack light as I already planned to come back home some time in the future. As much as I disliked my dad for doing all of this without my consent, I didn’t want to leave him behind.

Our relationship wasn’t one filled with love and trust and it was only more strained after my mother had left my father shortly after what had happened to me. She said she couldn’t understand and deal with it. We never saw her again. I was certain that I hated her for doing that to him. She and I were never close, but he’d turned into a different person after this happened. He wasn’t as passionate about things as he used to be and was just generally unhappy.

Our arguments started the day she left. He was trying to convince me that it hadn’t been my fault, but I wouldn’t have it. I knew the truth. I’d heard her words, after all. The look on her face when she saw me was heartbreaking. Why, it was almost as bad as when I was rejected by Hayden. She’d been everything to me and now I was supposed to act like I hadn’t been hurt by what she did. Cutting someone off like that…and they say I’m the monster.

I didn’t sleep well that night. This bed was a little small for me now, so it was hard to get comfortable. I tried to sleep on the floor, but it wasn’t carpet or anything soft, so it was truly hopeless. I’d packed everything away like my dad wanted to and added his number to the cellphone I had. It was difficult to get the numbers dialed because of my claws, but the few calls I made were important enough to make it matter.

I woke to my dad walking into my room and nudging me softly. He greeted me with a forced smile. The sympathetic look I’d been getting from him was starting to get tiring. I was really going to miss him, despite this though. He was the only family I knew since my mother was out of the picture.

“There’s a bus stop downtown that’ll take you to…Ravenhold Academy, it’s called. Are you sure you have everything?” My dad said, taking out several notes he’d written on.

“Yeah, I do…” I wasn’t very eager to go along with this at all.

“Okay, come on.” He went out the front door and I went behind him.

He was silent while he drove. I was in the back seat because I couldn’t fit anywhere else. Even now, I felt a little crowded because I had to keep all hunched down uncomfortably. The drive to our destination took a long time and I fell asleep a few times on the way there. When our vehicle came to a stop I eagerly got out and felt sore. My dad stood beside me and was looking at the other students were boarding the bus.

“I’m kinda nervous…” I said, my voice sounding weak and quiet.

“It’s okay. You’ll be alright here, Rowan.”

“Will you be okay all alone?”

“I won’t be alone. I’ll get a puppy or something.” He shrugged.

“Giving me a reason to visit, are you?” I asked jokingly.

“Perhaps.”

“If you do get one, please send pictures.”

“Will do.”

I looked at the bus and back at him. He was awkwardly looking away. He accepted my hug, but it was shorter than I’d wanted. I picked up the bag I’d brought with me. He gave a reassuring smile and watched me board the bus. I found a seat quickly near the back of it and tried to find a comfortable position. My dad drove away before the bus left and I was a little sad to see him go.

The noise in here made it hard to relax. There was people yelling and I noticed this guy was trying to get an Itharii to sell him dust. What was it about people and wanting to escape this reality? They’d only come back to it later, anyway. The Itharii didn’t seem to know what to do and luckily another student intervened before the situation got any worse. They’d mentioned their name was Ahti, but I didn’t catch anything else. I was a little to tired to get up from my seat and do something anyway. Seeing as they were alright now, I eased up a little and got some more sleep before I arrived at the academy.

I woke up once more when the bus came to a stop. The students filed out and eagerly took in their surroundings. I couldn’t help but feel curious, too. I waited for everyone to get in front of me and went in behind the last person. I was a little nervous that they’d seen me, but it was reassuring to see others that were mutated like I was, at least.

I was lead to a building by someone after I’d spent a little too long wandering around. How she knew who I was, I had no clue. Something about her had my guard up. She had yellow eyes like I did and had a scent that was similar to mine. Before we went inside, I knew I had to ask her about it.

“Are you…Uhh…” I tried to form the words.

“I am like you.” She whispered.

“But, how is that-”

“Not important. Go inside. I’ll join soon enough. Maybe.” She said before going back where we came.

I watched her leave and then looked back towards the building. Going inside, I saw a few others that were here already. When someone asked about the Itharii, this girl with red hair had called them an “it” which made a part of me snap.

“Don’t call Ahti an ‘it’.” I said, my anger showing a little more than I’d wanted.

She shrugged off my display and left into another room. I glared at her until she was out of view. My eyes then went to the pizza. I was quite hungry and it was difficult to not over eat with this new form of mine. It was troublesome to get full and feel accomplished after having a meal. I had several slices before I decided to lay off.

I saw Ahti talk to someone else over the pizza and they hesitantly tried some. They seemed to be delighted. An appropriate reaction when it came to pizza. I left them alone to look at the room assignments. Ahti came over to try and read what was on there. My room mate was someone who went by the name of Allison Walker. I felt a little nervous over meeting them.

“It’s too high, I can’t read it.” Ahti said beside me.

I went over to their entry and read it to them. Their room mate’s name had me feeling both uncomfortable and worrying for their safety. I didn’t know why I was feeling so protective over them. I even felt flattered when they mentioned how tall I was. I told them I gave credit to being a parahuman, a term they were unfamiliar with.

“Hey, which one of you is Rowan?” An unfamiliar voice asked.

I went over to them and they explained that they were my room mate. They also let me know that they, too, used “they” pronouns. The room we were supposed to share was bigger than the one I had at home. I went in and unpacked what I’d brought with me. Seeing the empty spaces, I thought that maybe I’d forgotten some things.

I took out my phone and called my dad. He didn’t often pick up, but I really hoped he would this time. I needed to hear a familiar voice.

“Hello?” He sounded tired.

“Hey, I got here safe. Just thought you should know…”

“Alright.”

Awkward silence hung in the air.

“Um, talk to you later. Bye.” I didn’t wait for his answer.

Next

Life After Purpose: Part III

Life After Purpose

Part III: Corrupt Thoughts

That little shit…if he thinks he can get away with saying such bullshit about me, then he’s mistaken. I should’ve made my point clear before he had his “protection” around. With my luck, Jaime was probably going to keep close to him from now on. The thought angered me. She’d used those damned weights against me. If I hadn’t worn them, I would’ve flattened him. I had to wear them, though. There wasn’t a choice in the matter. Without them on, I’d break so many things. At times, I wished they’d just let me do whatever the hell I wanted. That little fuck deserved it. I’d just wanted to go outside for a quick smoke even though it probably wasn’t permitted.

I tried to calm down from what happened, but his words stayed in my mind. My other side? He didn’t know what he was talking about. Though, that look he’d given me was something strange. It was like he’d never seen me before. Whatever it was, this was his problem. If he can’t defend himself after saying such crap, then I have no respect for him at all.

Going back inside, I wanted to go back to my room to try and relax. The others here were up by then and were talking amongst themselves. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Annabelle go out to where she’d sat before. I wondered if I should’ve joined her seeing as I was in a shitty mood. I decided to go and try and talk to her anyway, she could probably use some company.

She was sitting by herself and clearly tense when I sat beside her. Perhaps I was a little close, but it wasn’t like I was going to move away. Annabelle gave me a shy smile that I almost lost myself in, those angry thoughts from before long gone.

“How’s it going?” I asked as I tried not to come across as nervous as I was.

“It’s a little early for me…”

“Yeah, I’ve never liked waking up in the morning.”

“So, would you consider playing HotM again?” She asked, that curious fascination in her eyes once more.

“Sure, it looks interesting. I might get my own computer to play these games on, but I don’t think my parents would appreciate me bothering them.”

“I’m sure they’d like to hear from you?”

“Heh, I doubt it.”

“You’re not close with them?”

“No. Mostly because I’m not…” I didn’t want to think about this.

“They put expectations on you, right?”

“Something like that.”

“It’s okay, I understand. You should still talk to them, though. It couldn’t hurt.”

“I might. I don’t want to go yet, though. I’d rather talk to you.”

“I’m not sure if you mean that…” She looked down, unsure.

“Why wouldn’t I?”

“There’s really no reason for you to want my company.”

“I’d think the same thing when it comes to myself, to be honest. Most people see me as abrasive and generally unpleasant.”

“You’re strong and confident, a number of people would kill to have those qualities.”

I frowned.

“I’m not as confident as you think, or strong, either. I have times when I break. Why I almost did so earlier when Mace said some bullshit.”

“Really? I didn’t see him as the type to do something like that?”

“I guess I gave him a good reason.” I shrugged.

“I’m sure he didn’t mean it, whatever it was.”

“I seriously hope not.” I stared bitterly at the ground.

“Anyway. Did you want to play some more HotM sometime?”

“Yeah, that sounds nice.”

“Did it bother you when were, um, that close?”

“Nah.”

“Well, we have a few minutes here before class starts…did you want to?”

“Sure.”

“Okay, I’ll be right back.”

I watched her stand up and go into the other room. I didn’t see either Mace or Jaime since that conflict happened. If I did see them again, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to control myself. Maybe he had been right about me after all. I hated to think that it was true. I couldn’t let my anger take over my thoughts, especially now when I didn’t want to fuck up in front of Annabelle. It was going to be a struggle to see both her and him in the same room. Despite how I felt, I chose to put up a fight against my anger…

For her I wanted to.

Speaking of the little devil himself, Mace walked past me into the main room to where the others were. Jaime followed behind him and I saw her glance in my direction for a moment. I knew she had trouble seeing, but I had the feeling she knew where I was. I didn’t want to make enemies here and yet I totally did. It made things both interesting and miserable for people. Jaime probably hated me for lashing out at him like that. I almost hated her for stopping me.

Seeing as Annabelle hadn’t come back, I went to get my fill and ate absentmindedly. It wasn’t bad. When I was back at home, I didn’t really have anything home made like this. My parents would have something ordered in from the local restaurant. It got tiring over having the same thing over and over again, but then again I was probably just getting spoiled.

I was about to have another serving when Annabelle came back with the computer in her hands and a kind smile on her face. She sat down beside me and the screen showed that she’d been doing something else before coming out here. I was curious to what it’d been, but I didn’t want to seem intrusive.

Much like before, those negative thoughts disappeared and were replaced by some rather…sinful things about her. I was a little ashamed over it.

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