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Remorse [KH AU]



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Izayoi

galactic cancer
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May 17, 2007
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Thank you for giving this fic your attention. I've been planning and writing drafts for this fic for nearly a year now, and am finally getting it out. It's a Kingodm Hearts fan fiction, with plenty of OC's, but really tries to take the settings ans terms of the KH universe rather than writing about the characters from the franchise. It lets me develope my own characters and use familiar objects, as you'll see in the following. Darker things like death and some gore and the notion of killing in general are what this story is based sround, so if you're not crazy about that then I don't recommend this. It should settle down after chapter 1 though, if that is any consolation.

After the initial semi-bombing of this story, though, it underwent some heavy editing and ended up beingin much better conditiion. It's a whole chapter-based story I plan on writing, and I'm very glad to get it all out here. Hopefully you'll all enjoy, and I apologize for any small errors in the areas or grammar or tenses. I have a bit of a problem with reading my own work so I often find editing a task. I am confident though, that this draft will be the final. Enjoy.

~~~~~

I - Impulse

Twilight Town. Nothing remotely twilight about it. Clouds and rain; barely a speck of light in the sky, nor in the hearts of those living there.

He sighed, boot splashing into a puddle on his first step out of the hotel. A wonderful way to start the morning; he could already feel the moisture seeping in through the worn leather. Hardly a man of nineteen, Gabryl had his squinted eyes peer up to the dark gray overcast, admiring the rustling of clouds, and blinked when a flash of lighting in the distance impaired his vision for a moment. He shivered, wishing that he had something with a hood. Crossing his arms, with teeth clenched, he walked on, ignoring the fact that his very presence went unnoticed by every civilian in the town. Any sounds Gabryl made, the way he looked, and his own feelings, would not be sensed. There was another shiver at that reflection, and his arms went rigid as he stopped walking, standing at the street corner. Zoning out, not paying mind to anything external, Gabryl waited for a feeling; a certain urge that would come to him every day around this time. He couldn’t be sure when exactly, and how he would react, but Gabryl only resented that it would have to happen.

Gabryl was not happy with his life as a Reaper; it wasn’t really a life at all, for more reasons than one. Being undead, in a sense, he was at a loss for a heart. It had been only a couple of years since he had died; not in any stunning manner, but seemingly fated for his duties in the afterlife. He would recall the happiness he felt in the hours before that moment of destruction; being surrounded by loved ones, hearing them laugh and doing so in return. It was over, though, in a few seconds, and the last two years had been like hell; which he found ironic. Gabryl shook his head, blinking up at the traffic signal, directing him to walk across. That feeling wasn’t the only thing he was waiting for at the edge of the street.

A lock of black hair fell over an eye from the sudden movement of his steps, and Gabryl took it in two fingers, tucking it behind an ear. His hair as a whole was messy and greasy, from not having bathed in days. He looked down at his feet as he made it to the other side; why care? Not like anyone had ever seen him, or would. Gritting molars, Gabryl attempted to cease all those thoughts. It was those regrets that stopped him from getting any sleep, so he needed to not think and go about his usual schedule. Every day Gabryl made his rounds in this bleak and boring area of the city, waiting for the impulse he knew would come; the impulse that lead to his killing.

A Reaper; bringers of death and sorrow to their victims and those close to them; Gabryl was ashamed of this. When he ever came close to one of these unfortunate people, he suffered from a painful lurch in his stomach, rising to his chest and burning his lungs. If he had a heart, it would be thumping madly, deafening him and heating his head. That horrible, maddening sensation would remain until the hearts of his victims stopped beating. It was funny, however, if he didn’t have his own heart, why did he feel such remorse for taking lives? Gabryl had always been told that it was the heart that controlled emotions and housed all the feelings he should be having. He knew that there were hundreds, maybe thousands of Reapers in the world, maybe Twilight Town alone; did they feel the same? How could so many people suffer and still go on? Maybe it explained the dreary atmosphere in the city, because of all the unseen beings doing their jobs; their depression radiating off. When Gabryl started his evil life after death, he expected that the bloodshed wouldn’t bother him a bit, as he had been told he’d feel nothing. Yet, every time he saw the looks in the eyes of a helpless man or woman fated for a gruesome end, he would give anything just to put his weapon down. The impulse wouldn’t allow it.

Gabryl came just to the middle of the next block, and nearly tripped over his own feet. He let out a small gasp, hand snapping up to his stomach, his eyes dilating, forcing him to close them from the light pouring in. Stopping in his tracks, trying to keep balance, Gabryl clutched at his cloak, wishing to rip out whatever it was that caused the burning, to stop the familiar urge from crawling upward. The pain, however, squirmed up his trachea too fast, nearly exploding in his throat.

“Alright, damn it, alright!” He choked, arm whipping out, horizontal, to his side. Tense fingers were tightened into a fist, and black smoke materialized about his wrist, forming on his hand and swirling into a thin column in his grasp. A shaft of deep, violet metal, reaching nearly seven feet in length, slowly forming from the compressing smoke; topping off at the peak with a long, silver blade, said smoke leaving the mythical icon of death. A classic grim reaper’s scythe, personalized for Gabryl in the slightest ways; the flat metal was long and smooth on top, but jagged on the lower edge. The blade even extended to the other side of the shaft, just as dangerous.

Breathing heavy, he used the long weapon to hold his weight up, leaning on it and gripping with his other hand to hold it tightly. His mind swirled; explosion of heat was making it’s way into his skull, like multiple tendrils of fire filling up his brain. The impulse would give him a sort of sixth sense to find his victim, and already a path spanning down a few blocks came into view, only in his eyes. It wasn’t even physically present, but Gabryl was somehow, able to just feel it there. Sighing with a heavy, exhausted breath, struggling to get to a full standing position, he lifted the scythe, giving it a good practice swing through the air before hefting it over a shoulder, and took a few steps before his sorrowful eyes swept the immense crowd. Muscles tightened in his stomach when a pair of heads appeared bolder in his vision.

The fingers on his left latched back onto his stomach, and Gabryl made haste, wanting to finish this quickly. Pushing through the busy and ignorant pedestrians, they turned their heads as they felt an invisible presence, only to shrug it off. Grunting at the fact that no one would move for him, Gabryl finally reached a clearing; another street crossing. His targets walked over the darkened asphalt, wet from the downpour of rain from the previous night. When Gabryl finally laid eyes on the heads, he locked on and made a brisker pace, making sure not to get too close; anything to not get too attached to the people he had to kill; a single sentence that would make him feel at all empathetic would tear him up inside, more so than the impulse was doing. Regardless, he’d need to be near them when the time came. Weapon in two hands, getting over the continuous, nauseating pain, Gabryl was now walking on a diagonal behind them, eyes trained at their feet rather than faces, but the single instant he had to look at them was enough to send his imaginary heart sinking to his own feet.

Oh, these were the worst sort of kills to make; and hearts to take. It was a young couple, not much older than himself, perhaps in their twenties. Arms around each other’s shoulders, not going to fast; seemingly in bliss, in love, in their own little world.. His chest lurched at the smiles on their faces he had seen before averting his gaze, hoping that something would jar his thoughts away from them. Too many times had he ruined the lives of so many, due to a single death, especially those that cared deeply for others. However, this time both bodies gave off a kind of pinkish glow that only Gabryl could see, much like how he was given the sense to track the two down. That meant they were both meant to die, and to think that they didn’t even know it; all the things they must have planned for the future. Families and friends would be torn over their mangled bodies, and who knows how many Reapers would get new impulses due to the resulting grief. He shuddered at the thoughts; all the death that would stem, the emotion from the heart that he craved to have for his own, causing more negativity than anything else. He felt his hands gripping his scythe tighter than before; he was confused to how he was feeling, but more confused that he was feeling anything at all. Were they just memories of how to feel in these situations? But how were they any different form feeling the real thing?

These wretched thoughts. These emotions boiling inside him; that he shouldn’t even have! It made him want to pass up ever killing again. However, Gabryl had tried this previously, and he had failed. He knew that it was nearly suicide to try and hold back, good as an escape that would be, if at all. For, those higher ranking would reprimand him in ways unavoidable and unimaginable. As far as Gabryl knew, there was no way a Reaper, especially himself, could ever get rid of his burden, he’d just have to wait for an end to it all. Not that he was sure what that would be, but he could only imagine It unpleasant. It wasn‘t worth pining over, he concluded, and checked the happy faces before him, only to look back down. Why would a being created to destroy still be able to feel remorse for his actions?

The couple near him spoke amongst themselves, and Gabryl decided to block their voices out and just follow, and grieve in his own dark philosophies, mumbling and waiting. The couple then turned on their heels, walking into an alley. It isn’t like it was one of those dark, dirty, and ominous-looking alleyways you see in cliché films, either. In fact, was wide, and about as bright as they come in the regularly gloomy Twilight Town. They strolled on though, without a care. It pained Gabryl to watch this, knowing that their end would be a few steps down. There was something terrifying about having prior knowledge of these things.

Closer to the imminent tragedy, Gabryl’s breathing unintentionally sped up, a bead of sweat coming around his cheek, which he wiped off, seeing that his knuckles had been whitened from holding the shaft so tightly. This wasn’t just from the anxiousness he had never gotten used to. It was fear, an emotion, which he didn’t understand for a variety of reasons. Black smoke, like earlier, spiraled from his shoulder, creeping down to his elbow, and finally to where the blackness made a ring on his wrist. A shiny leather band appeared, still morphing like the scythe had minutes ago, with blades snaking over each white knuckle, with other bands strapping them to his hand. They elongated, defiantly sharp, made for combat at in close areas. This was one thing Gabryl never understood originally; he only needed to kill for the heart of a victim, so a scythe made sense due to its obvious symbolism. But a blunt, gauntlet-like weapon? It just seemed ridiculous that he’d ever need such a thing.

The thought was a lot more funny, though, until he actually had to use it on someone; Gabryl was now familiar with he difficult it was to cut into human flesh with his own hand. Distracting himself, Gabryl swiped through the air out of curiosity, hearing a bit of a ringing as the empty space was slashed. They were like talons; each one going to a fine point without the faintest sign of dulling. Flexing his fingers, Gabryl let out a misty breath, and admitted to himself that it made sense, since he’d probably have difficulty swinging the scythe in a place such as this to begin with. Still, there are times when Gabryl thought that some enchanted pistol would be preferable to wrenching someone’s organs out, but such trivial ideas got him no where. He looked up, having to squint as his eyes let in more light, the murder scene playing out before him. Wincing, he glanced to a dumpster adjacent to the yellow brick wall. Movement.

A man jumped out in front of the couple, was now menacingly holding up a knife; this is what he was waiting for. That was the thing about Reapers, they didn’t kill anyone without it being set up for them. Gabryl would stalk those who would be killed shortly, and wait for the people themselves to instigate any deaths. All he had to do was reap their hearts, which required Gabryl to kill, but not in a way unrelated to the death at hand. Looking at the knife that the mugger grasped, Gabryl noted how he never came upon any deaths that wouldn’t seem unusual if the victim was slaughtered with something blunt or sharp. Maybe that is he was only equipped with his claw and scythe. Did that mean that there was a Reaper out there shooting people in the head? It certainly would be a lot easier than what Gabryl did, and a lot less messy. Not to mention less tolling on the emotions whether they be real or not. But, he had to concentrate on the deaths at hand, and not the perfect murders that went on in his head, morbid as the pleasure may seem.

It was usually, in such cases, the deaths were always set up, as it were. This way, it wouldn’t seem too out of place or suspicious to find a pair of bodies with stab wounds that looked as though they were from a machete. In the next five or so minutes, Gabryl would leave three slaughtered bodies, making it look like a murder-suicide, with ample struggle. What divine forces made it so the predator and prey fit together so well, without knowledge of the former’s presence? The idea that someone could be thinking such things up was disgusting. Kill them, take their respective hearts, and leave someone else for the blame. Wonderful.

The mugger took a step, pointing the rusty point of the knife at the woman while muttering some threats. Another thing Gabryl would tune out; he despised hearing the distress, the fear, the sheer agony of feeling your life on the brink. Then the events leading up to the triple killing began. The man struck out at the mugger’s arm, managing to knock the blade out of his hand and send it falling to the cracked ground. They both scrambled for it, punching and clawing at each other for the item of ultimate dominance. The woman stood back, against the moist wall in fear, tears mixed with the rain, just beginning to drizzle. She was in too much dispense to even scream. Gabryl, in a single moment of instinct, took his clawed hand, fingers flattened and formed like his own knife, and brought it up in an uppercut, driving it into her stomach. He was visible only for a moment when the life was taken, sliding the long nails out form the bloodying body, now sinking to the ground. The arm carrying the scythe sprung into action now, and Gabryl swung it behind him, one-handed, the tip of the blade stabbing perfectly downward into the male lover’s back. The mugger hadn’t noticed, and went for his discarded weapon as his opponent’s hand went cold. He was pointing it at him, smirking in pointless triumph, without noticing the writhing body.

Bringing the scythe out of the man, Gabryl’s narrowing eyes focused on the mugger, who could now seem him in Gabryl’s primal, killing state. It was now his eyes filling with fear for his own life. He wouldn’t stay visible for long, though, and would go back to being unnoticed when the third person was killed. In one fluid motion the weapon came from the corpse, gliding around in a crescent and making a quick slice to his throat. The swing of the blade was so amazing and precise; it hadn’t decapitated him, which Gabryl had figured was discouraged, most likely due to the rarity of decapitations in mere robberies, but it was understandable. Stealth played a large role in the killing process of a Reaper, and seeing a man with his throat slit with only a knife on the scene would no doubt make sense to any authorities.

Gabryl, with a firm grip, rotated his weapon once it retaliated from the cut, flipping it. The sharp pike, the thin blade that stood poised on the end of the scythe pointed directly at his chest. Gabryl felt a sort of vengeance against this person, amongst his cavalcade of other, ignored emotions, because this man had caused two others to die. If he had never decided to take up stealing from innocent people, then the two bleeding bodies at his feet wouldn’t be laying there. In an unanticipated burst of anger, he thrust the scythe-turned-javelin through the sternum, causing a sickening crack, followed by a splattering. Gabryl held it there for at least a second longer than he needed to, scowling, and twisting it as he pulled.

Without warning, Gabryl’s scythe went up in a sudden poof of the same black smoke from which it came, and he looked down to his left hand, a thump coming from the body hitting the pavement. More blackness came; this time circling on his gauntlet, and fading into the air, the weapon along with it. The triad of bodies, now without any sound or notice of life, glowed a pink-purple hue for a moment, the light gathering towards each of their respective chests increasing in brightness. Out of each corpse, a radiating, pink, heart-shaped item arose. Gabryl always saw these after he killed someone, it was the spiritual heart of a person. Those things, levitating gently, and rising just as much, were exactly what Gabryl craved for; and to think it was something no living person knew thy really had. Each one lit up the alley, casting the same colored light to the brick walls, and Gabryl stared on in awe. Every time he watched these hearts, they seemed simply beautiful. Whether or not it was his longing for one, they were stunning.

So pure, made of feelings and memories and what made a person whole. Floating higher, at least two stories high, by looking at the buildings. Gabryl felt the envy that he should have for not having one of his own, twisting in an empty chest. Damn, why did he feel this way then? The sadness and longing; those were emotions too, so why were they there? Maybe all the legends and beliefs that many in Twilight Town went by were wrong, and was the kind of thing only a deceased man could know for sure. As the hearts reached the third story, Gabryl saw that by the third window up, each one burst into a small cloud of purple; a mix of the darkness that acted as a shell around them, and light contained within. Gabryl walked, slowly; bloodied hands burrowing into the pockets of his tight, black jeans. He wanted to get out of what was meant to be a crime scene, even if he couldn’t be seen. If there’s one thing worse than killing a person it’s seeing the horrified reaction, and the wasted heart and the life it contains fade to nothing.

Gabryl made his way out of the alley, hoping to forget about what he had just done, but as he turned a corner, there was a scream echoing down the streets, no doubt someone had discovered the scene. Any screams, or yelling, or even sirens from police cars and ambulances coming to area, however, were drowned out by a series of numerous, long, deep rings. Gabryl recognized them, having been born and raised in Twilight Town. They came from atop the bell tower, at the church, nearly a mile away. That bell was ancient, so it was impressive that it kept up making such a loud noise up to this point in time. Gabryl counted the chimes; nine of them. It was so early, and already three people were dead by his hand. As said chimes were absorbed into the usual sounds of the crowd, Gabryl’s eyes closed slowly as they dilated once more, and he clenched both fists. Rapidly heating warmth expanded in his stomach once more.

Scrambling amongst a tangle of sheets, Gabryl eventually sat up, not wishing to have even woken up in the first place, and his blurry vision surveying another temporary bedroom. Blankets wrapped around him in a messy fashion, having tossed and turned as a result of haunting nightmares; blood splashed onto him from a previous victim, dyed them in brownish-red splotches. He brushed a few strands of black hair from his eyes, having a double-take at the layers of bloody fabric that covered him, for a moment forgetting his disposition as a harbinger of death. Dried blood, not belonging to him, covered his fingers, and he scowled at it, cursing under his breath. It didn’t just plague him of his killing, but was fairly unsanitary to boot. Sighing after a shower, he looked into a steamy mirror, wiping off the excess fog. His eyes were shadowed by black, sleep-deprived rings, which in no way complimented their blue color. Those eyes, which had not glinted, almost angelically, like they did years prior. One might notice that they were taking on a grayish tone, as if the life in them were dying slowly.

Slipping on his garments, he eyed his bare torso’s reflection, not yet with a shirt on. It was never really very sunny in Twilight Town, as the weather seemed to prefer darkness, and Gabryl’s preference to stay inside as of late didn’t allow for him to get any sun. The rest of his paling skin was bruised and scared from fights with tougher targets who managed a good struggle. Gabryl had no idea if Reapers were physically immortal, and he wasn’t big on finding out, for all he knew he could end up having to live many years with a few broken bones, which was the last thing he needed. He buttoned the leather vest that he normally wore over his black shirt, decaled in purple designs, and as he shook the water from his draping hair, made his way through the rest of the house.

Being naturally invisible most of the time, and having to constantly kill every few hours, it’s difficult for a Reaper to hold up a job and get a regular income. Perhaps it’s different for others, but Gabryl would never get any money or supplies without the troubles of his urges getting in the way, so it basically came down to living off of that the dead owned. In fact, the house that Gabryl was sleeping in was that of a victim from yesterday; his last of the day, and after killing he had fallen, out cold, on the luxurious bed. At least it provided some comfort, and was better than some cheap motel, that he might usually have to sneak into at the edge of town. He turned to a shiny new coffee machine, pouring in water, and then heaved a heavier than normal sigh once his eyes laid upon the multitude of exotic mugs. Why did the people he kill always have these little things to make his guilt grow even more? Gabryl finally decided on the least decorated one he could find, and brought the hot liquid to his lips. A particular odor didn’t leave the air however, despite the pleasing smell of ground beans.

Gabryl narrowed his eyes to the living room, in which a suede armchair sat an older man, noticeably overweight; this man was to have died of a burglary gone wrong. Fortunately it was while he was in his sleep, so there didn‘t need to be much of a struggle with potential offender, it made Gabryl glad that the last time he needed to kill in a day was simple, and would let him get to sleep a little easier. Still, it was immaterial considering what Gabryl had done in the past. These sort of deaths, at least, allowed for him to live the rich life for a night and morning, maybe more depending on the situation, though just the one was all he really wanted, even if it was just one in a single month. Under other circumstances he’d stay longer, but due to family photographs dotted around the home, there would most likely be people returning. Regardless, it was acceptable since Gabryl had only come to escape the ensuing storm that had thundered the other night, since apparently there couldn’t be a full twenty-four hours in this city without it raining. He gave a sarcastic chuckle at that. Still, a bed never felt so good, even if it was bloodstained. The empty coffee mug was left in the sink; no reason not to be courteous when he could. He stopped in the doorway; oh wait, there was.

Going outside, abandoning the cozy house, Gabryl brought his hand up to shade his eyes from a ray of sunlight. Thick clouds were still rolling around the sky, with light only escaping through cracks, one of which were over him through some ironic happenstance. The mix of dark and light sky was eerie and unattractive at the same time. Eyes settling, pointed downward like usual, all Gabryl had left to do was patrol the city until his impulses took over. It would just be another one of those days he had to grate through, one death after the next. Stuck in his cycle, he always secretly hoped for something exciting to happen, even if it was just some interesting play on a murder or death-related event. Puddles were deep on the sidewalks that he splashed in, upsetting him every time he misjudged their depth. So, he kicked away some of the water for revenge on the pools. And the darkness that came when clouds blew back in front of the sun only deepened his recent depression, or at least a greater one. He desperately needed some way out of this loop, some way to go on with a life that he lost unfairly. Gabryl wasn’t even entirely sure how to get out of being Reaper; he assumed that at some point he’d reach his limit of killing, or taking hearts, and that would be that; some sort of heaven or hell or shot at life again. Not that he could expect anything so flashy for himself exactly, but hope was one of the few things that he had left, even with it having mostly deteriorated.

A few hours later, Gabryl had dispatched a man that was bludgeoned to death by a pair of gang members; one of which were stabbed in the process. It turned out that it was much easier to just stab a person, that it is to hit them repeatedly with the blunt end of his scythe, or any heavy object he could find. Once again, Gabryl’s mind was drawn to wondering why he was stuck cutting up others, when it was much easier to shoot someone. Heck, why weren’t those people back there using guns in the first place? Gabryl was a bit of an expert on how convenient they would be in so many situations. He took a moment to stretch his neck back, craning it, with a small crick. Then it would be someone else’s job to take out those two, but, would Gabryl just be trusted with another person destined to die in a more crude way? It could even effect him in a deeper way than he could imagine. Gabryl sat on a park bench as he shuffled through such theories on his place in the world, watching as police cars gathered across the street; reporters and emergency vehicles gathering as well.

Perhaps it was the two years of killing people, but Gabryl began to lose interest in anything the media spouted out regarding death and distraught. It all meant nothing to him. He got up, groaning in tiredness from his sleep deprivation, and from this half of a day’s work. Getting back onto the sidewalk, he flicked the same piece of hair that plagued him yesterday out of his eyesight, and heard something else familiar; the bell from the Chapel Hearts rang out on the other side of the park.

The one place in Twilight Town he remembered a lot from his former life, Gabryl could see the clock tower rise over the trees. He saw the old hands point out two o’ clock, and he turned as the final chime went off. The old church, which the clock tower was apart of, was known as the Chapel Hearts. Probably the most ancient thing in the whole city, with enormous cogs inspected daily, and prayers spoken for centuries announced in sermons on the same schedule as the bells. You could set your watch by the knees of the people hitting the floor. Deciding to head towards it, Gabryl made it to one side of the building, walking around to the front.

He peered around a large arch, that supported the walls on that side. The use of buttresses such as these were an old technique in architecture, so it reflected on the antique that was the Chapel Hearts. The yellow stone wall ending, Gabryl met a wide, towering door adorned with stained glass. It was white, and still managed to glisten a little in the bits of sunlight that came through the clouds. Its size was almost comical in the uselessness of it all, however, it was for that reason that a side entrance was used. As for it’s name though, Chapel Hearts was believed, and still is by many in the town, to be a sort of gathering place for the spirits and souls of the deceased; namely, of course, hearts. Gabryl had always been skeptical to such stories while he was alive, but seeing those legendary hearts float around first-hand, he became a lot more open-minded to the idea that there could be a few of the little pink things caught up in high ceilings. Still, there had to be more important places for hearts to go then to please some devout cultists.

Gabryl shook his head, slowly, putting a hand to his forehead and wiping some perspiration. The humidity was getting to him, and ranting over and over in his head about some religion wouldn’t get him anywhere, but neither would thoughts about death and such. He stopped, holding his arms up in the air, yawning with a bit of rage behind it, looking up as the sun went away once more.

“Something happen. Something.” Huffing, his eyes averting to the large glass window on the bank to his right. It was pretty reflective, and Gabryl noticed how odd he looked with his arms up, and shyly brought them down, during which he realized with irony that no one saw him. He was allowed to have dignity while dead at least, which was more an assumption than anything, really. His focus shifting, seeing through the window now, Gabryl‘s eyes widened in surprise. There was some activity going on in their, the kind he recognized; murder. A noise he recognized; gunshots. Some bank robber, holding up a gun, a flannel sack in the other hand, had taken a shot at a security guard, who lay dead on the floor. Gabryl watched, eyes wide, and patted at his chest, stomach, then his sides. Why wasn’t his impulse going off…? He thought that he may have ignored the warmth in his gut, but no, there was none. Looking back up, nearly losing it, Gabryl saw a person, running, for some reason unnoticed by the gunman. This person had a bag in each hand, filled with stolen cash, and took at turn for the window. Gabryl almost took a step back on his heel, and the man inside jumped, arms crossed over his face; crashing right through the glass in a burst of shards.

Gabryl took about five double-takes, looking for the robber, only to seem a man, about his age, dressed in black, ragged clothing, standing right in the middle of the mess of glass. His head darted side to side, and his fists clenched on the sacks. It was like no one else in the area could see him, and onlookers were simply shocked that a window seemed to explode out of nowhere. Attention drawn to the scene the scene inside, it was easy to assume it was the fault of a misfire. Gabryl knew that was not the case. With all in the immediate area looking right past the man, Gabryl was, for a moment, convinced even more of civilian idiocy. Watching the man look for a clear escape, he broke into a sprint, right in Gabryl’s direction. Gabryl, acting on habit, sidestepped so that this bank robber wouldn’t crash into the invisible man in his path, but to his shock, Gabryl was pushed aside before even moving himself.

“How…” His mouth went agape, and an arm raised. “Hey! Come back-” No, that wouldn’t work, he was running from the law or something. No, wait, wasn’t this guy invisible? Gabryl took a sharp breath and ran after him, arms pumping, and shouted multiple times to get his attention. Nearly falling over from his pursuing though, shoving people on the busy sidewalk out of the way; when was the last time anyone had made contact with him? This person had touched him, seemingly intentionally, and Gabryl wasn’t going to assume it as a coincidence. Hot on his trail, Gabryl heard a short, surprising clinking of some object with the ground, and, clenching his teeth, reached down and scooped something up in his hand; the mysterious man had dropped this, he could tell. They both came to a clearing, and even though the unknown didn’t know that he was being followed, Gabryl felt as if they were the only two in the large town square, dotted with benches and flower boxes with a marketplace at it’s center. Normally a sort of cultural center, Gabryl was ignoring the sights and focused on the man, hunched over, hands on his knees, breathing heavily. Thoughts raced through Gabryl’s mind, and he looked to the item in his hand.

The strange piece was made of metal, a chain stretching from one end; and judging by said chain, it looked as though it would be connected to something. Perhaps it was some stolen pocket watch, Gabryl would muse mockingly. He picked it up, looking at the shiny emblem dangling before his eyes. It was simple, silver-colored, and was made of three circles; two small ones connected to the largest, almost like the latter had ears. He wondered how special this was, or if it was just some trinket, however, the idea that someone could see him just excited Gabryl to such an extent. What if this person was a fellow Reaper? They could very well provide him the sustenance he needed in his dreary afterlife, socially and for his mentality. Almost smiling, blue eyes glowing, like they were returning to their original color, Gabryl took a step, but froze when something completely unexpected, and as he would see, quite unfortunate as well, occurred.

A flash of gold light came down in a column in front of the man. Both Reapers, as the unnamed man was, in fact, one, jumped, dead in their tracks, and Gabryl took cover behind one of the planted trees. He peaked around, gripping the chain of the item he found, seeing that his only hope for communication could be threatened, being stared down at with large, blue eyes. Those demeaning eyes burned on top of a dry-skinned, darkened face, and the expression was hardly that of delight. The most notable feature of this being, however, was the large pair of white feathered wings protruding form his back. They shone almost as bright as his eyes, both giving off an ethereal glow. Gabryl happened to know what this man was, rather than who. The only things he knew of with those eyes, wings, and that radiance about them, were Angels. Eyes narrowing, glaring, the man spoke in a deep voice, not suiting the angelic appearance, yet it didn’t seem like any other voice would.

“Lucre, being a little more careless this time?” There was a hint of sarcasm in his tone, like he was joking, but the stare he received was ominous. The Reaper, apparently Lucre, looked up in breathless surprise, free hand searching his clothing until he came to a pocket. Digging into it, he gasped when he discovered a hole, cursing under his breath,

“Where is…?!”

He was cut off. Gabryl’s wide eyes looked down at what he found on the sidewalk. Whatever it was, it was important, and he needed it.

“Your third offense; using your abilities for personal gain. I’ve warned you before, you know.”

Lucre nodded, solemnly bringing his head up. He was torturing himself on the inside for not checking for his Keychain earlier. The Angel brought up an arm, large fingers extended, and his palm generated a ball of light.

“I’m sure you know what comes next.”

Nodding again, faster, speaking quietly, in desperation that he tried to hide, almost whispering from a dry throat.

“Guy’s gotta live, not my fault we get these perks and can’t do nothing useful with them…”

The Angel, increasing the size of the energy ball, brought it over Lucre’s head. He winced as it left his peripherals, as he didn’t dare take his eyes away from the enforcer.

“You people do exactly what you have to. Do not think that you are useless, or that you’re special. And do not think that we do not know what you all do to get behind our backs.” He seemed to seethe, as if on cue. “We shall keep you under our rule, and assure you do what you deserve to do and only that. Now, your punishment.” And, not even giving a chance for response, the ball shone brilliantly, and a blast of light emitted, slamming down in a pillar like the Angel had appeared in. When it ceased, there was only smoke hissing from the air, and the two flannel sacks thumping to the ground. Passers-by saw the two bags appear seemingly out of nowhere; passing from the grip of someone non-existent to the realm of the living, only momentarily. Just like when he was visible to the couple, and criminal, for less than a second. Gabryl, wordless and horrified, had seen that man, Reaper or not, be vaporized on the spot. He was confused, and scared, and still his blood raced from the trauma of it all. Why had he been killed… but weren’t they already dead? What could be worse, and why did this even happen? The Angel had mentioned something about multiple offenses, but stealing something seemed so minor considering the consequence at hand. And what was the Angel talking about- Reapers doing things? So many questions flooded his throbbing brain, as the angel cracked the knuckles on his large, thick-fingered hand, which had been the source of the blast. His wings flapped out, and he began glowing, as if to leave. Gabryl rushed from behind the tree; pocketing his scavenged Keychain.

“You! Angel! What-”

The large, glowing man looked down as Gabryl neared; his eyes alone scaring him out of saying more. Those eyes, large and blue, seemed to scan Gabryl, seeing right into his mind.

“…Gabryl, is it.”

He gave the slightest nod, and couldn’t help but think that he must have looked just like the other Reaper, hopeless and without power.

“You’ve a single violation prior to this moment…”

That brought up the slightest recollection in Gabryl’s mind, but he didn’t dwell on it for very long. Just how did he know from looking at him? Gabryl clearly remembered his last confrontation with an Angel, and this definitely wasn’t the same man. The Angel went on, in deep monotone, raising on eyebrow on an otherwise expressionless face.

“I’m not normally lenient, but I‘m willing to let this particular one go.” Eyes narrowing, he sensed Gabryl was more oblivious than he originally thought, “’No prolonged contact with other Reapers. Yes? Good. Be warned, however, we will be much more sensitive to any future violation that may occur.”

Lifting one heavy hand, a beam of light, blinding, and similar to his vaporizing blast, emitted from it, prompting Gabryl to flinch, eyes closing from the brightness and fear of pain or death. But now, rather, there was but a weapon in his hand, not unlike an deformed, blunt, and what seemed like a rather impractical sword. It was difficult to get a more accurate read on it before the blade was pointed straight in his face, a three-pronged tip perpendicular to his nose. He could see that it was predominantly black, with red streaks up the shaft, curving with the rounded top. With the sharpness of the more demeaning end, and its shape, it gave the illusion of an elongated knife or axe, with the prongs making it more alien. At the bottom end of a guarded hilt was a small metal emblem on a chain, like the one made of silver circles Gabryl found on the ground, having belonged to Lucre. This one, though, from what he could see, took the shape of a small, black axe, almost a miniature version of the weapon itself.

“You know very well what may happen the next time I see you, should your troublesome record escalate by any means. The last thing we need is miscreants like you.” The blade disappeared, as did the Angel, in a final, radiating flash of white gold light. Gabryl was left to stand, his entire body quivering from fright, as people flocked to the apparent bags of free money left out of nowhere. Wanting to get away from the mess of greed and negative emotion, more so than he had already experienced this day, he staggered over, leaning on a lamp post. He had wanted something interesting to happen today, to break out of his prison of loneliness and grey skies. Someone had spoken to him directly for the first time in more than a year, and they were threatening to kill him. A person, albeit pushing him out of the way, has acknowledged his physical presence. And not stopping him or getting the chained thing to him on time is what killed him. Why did all of this have to happen at once; why did everything he wanted happen to all come together and scar him for the rest of his undead days. And now, that all of this had happened, what exactly would this change after today?
 
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Cinollex

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All I can say is; it's really improved from the first few drafts, Joe. Far less grammar mistakes, easier and more entertaining to read. I could nitpick, but not nearly as much as I would have before.

Good work. c:
 
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can’t do nothing
is that a double negative I see

and completely disregard the fact that it's dialogue (liek did I misspell that or something because firefox said I did :/)

but basically, tl;dr. I will later though :D
 

Izayoi

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is that a double negative I see

and completely disregard the fact that it's dialogue (liek did I misspell that or something because firefox said I did :/)

but basically, tl;dr. I will later though :D
Ugh did I sously overlook that? Yeah that wasn't an intention even as dialogue.

And thanks for the quick reply woo :D
 

Izayoi

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And much much later, we have ourselves a chapter 2. I hope you all enjoy.

~~~~~

II - Chains

Quivering in place, the scene that unrolled before Gabryl played over and over again in his mind. That man, another Reaper, a possible means of escape from his isolated prison, killed before him. Death was nothing to Gabryl, normally, but he had never witnessed it being done in that fashion; It was all strangely traumatizing, which was saying a lot for the position Gabryl was in, and the deeds he had done in the past. Maybe it was because he was so used to the gritty scene of stabbing or impaling someone. The amounts of gore he had experienced almost seemed like a natural way of dying by this point; unlike the unknown, supernatural process. A life ended in a flash of light, generated in less than a second; it sickened him somehow, but why? Had it been because Lucre, the Reaper, was falsely accused? No, as Gabryl had clearly seen him steal money, all by taking advantage of the criminals stealing it in the first place. His weight shifted to his right foot, losing his balance as he pictured the smoking remains, which in fact were only a few feet behind him, having stormed up to the Angel. Feeling nauseas, Gabryl started walking, wobbling a little in light headedness, and considered something. That Angel, the one who did the killing himself, was it him that angered Gabryl more than the action?

What Gabryl knew of Angels was limited, having only met them twice prior to this day, and for very short times at that. Regardless, both occasions were remarkably bitter, and left a scar a Gabryl in both cases, to remind him of his dim future. It was those two experience that he didn’t like to remember, period, and every haunting nightmare made him wish he wash his memories away for good. Just like this morning, before Gabryl knew that a third encounter would burn in his subconscious. Sighing, trying to erase it now, he held his forehead in a hand, leaning upon a metal pole, supporting traffic signals. The cold object was wet from last night’s rain, and he felt the water seep through his sleeve, making his arm slightly cool. Not caring to move until the signal changed, it was the wetness and other little things that came to his attention in his renewed isolation; the words of the people surrounding him grew louder, and the smell of car exhaust became more pungent. Only when he noticed others moving around him did Gabryl start moving again, crossing the street in the crowd that couldn’t see him, but still feeling and hearing and smelling what he had sensed moments earlier.

Folding his arms, he came to the opposite side of the road, staring at the ground. Every time the headlight from a car came into his eyesight, he winced, thinking of Lucre’s death. Though, he took into consideration what really bothered him; the Angel, as he inferred back there. Was it really their race as a whole that got to him? Perhaps Gabryl sensed some injustice within their ranks, since the only times he ever interacted with them, they were just threatening him with death, constantly warning him of violating their “rules”, or, as of today, killing.

It had been nearly five hours since Gabryl had woken up, and it was late in the afternoon, his impulses already quieting for the day. It bothered him, along with the scene replaying in his mind. Reminded then, attempting to take his mind off of it, Gabryl dug into his right pocket, feeling the cool metal bundled at the bottom of it, and pulled it out by it’s chain. Gabryl looked around, and stopped walking aimlessly, putting his shoulder to a wall. Now that his premonition that he would vomit disappeared, he wanted to make sure his stomach stayed settled. Looking down between two buildings, he was glad to not see anyone fighting; he was situated right near an alley, not unlike the one that he had done his work in the day before. To pass the time, for his head to relax, Gabryl took out the chained item he found, letting the main, flat part rest in his palm. Some sunlight, managing it’s way through the clouds, reflected off the faded item, into his eye by happenstance. Gabryl held it up high, dangling it by the end of the chain, and hung it in front of his face to get rid of the glare, and to inspect it more carefully. He recalled the conversation between Lucre and the Angel; and how the former was apparently looking for this, in quite a panic. If only he held onto it better, this whole mess might’ve not happened. Gabryl smirked, looking at the tiny rings that made up the chain; Lucre may as well have strung it on his house keys, or something. It essentially was, after all, a well-crafted novelty Keychain, if not an old one, as he could tell by the scratches it had endured. It really wasn’t that impressive, though. Could he have used it to fend for himself? Gabryl didn’t see how it would be more useful than his own scythe. Squinting, Gabryl searched it for some sort of marking that would make it any more fascinating; all three circle-shaped sections of it, but nothing. He sighed, arms going to his sides, and slouched, more lazily, against the wall.

Looking up at the thinning, still dark clouds, Gabryl bunched the chain in his hand, listening to it jingle a little, when he noticed something out of place in the corner of his eye. A person; not necessarily distinct in appearance, but more what they were doing. Down the street, a woman clad in black, running in obvious haste, due to her shoving others out of the way without a whim. It wasn’t very strange to see someone running, but Gabryl was for some reason fixated on this person; they seemed to just stick out. A moment passed, and he could make out her height, form, and a few facial features. She had to be at least his age, if not older, with a long jacket trailing behind her, coat tails torn and dirtied. Her left hand; bloodied, and dripping. The latter was only a little shocking, since Gabryl would normally have intense chest pains, and be ready to kill by the time a person with that much blood on them were trying to escape something, but his experience from the bank told him this might not be the appropriate time for that. She could be the prey of another Reaper, but what else?

Gabryl saw her eyes as she came closer, even with her head turning from one side to the next, constantly, watching out for herself. She was now on the same block, and her eyes were revealed to be captivating, colored a deep orange, unique enough to Gabryl that he could observe them from one street corner to the next. His Reaper eyes were a tad stronger anyway, but he was still shocked. The woman was interesting to say the least, but it still seemed a mystery why; there something special, or did Gabryl just find an attraction that he didn’t expect? Those trivial things, taking up the time until she was close enough that the next time her eyes flickered up, they met Gabryl’s directly. With her in constant motion, and Gabryl beginning to stand up straight, they kept the visual connection, only for him to break the contact out of embarrassment. Gabryl gave quiet gasp, or more like a quick sucking of breath, and looked back at her. Time seemed to slow during all this, and as he brought his gaze to its previous target, he watched her just taking her eyes away to make her systematic check over to her right. Even though, the way she stared at him wasn’t just another one of those. Was that on purpose? Had she seen him like Lucre, was she a Reaper as well? He had to know. Gabryl didn’t want to screw things up twice in one day, to lose his chance at freedom.

Gambling with his actions, Gabryl brought himself out from the alley wall, moving onto the sidewalk, and holding out a hand to stop her, or at least see if he could get her attention. However, the hand he held up happened to be still clinging to the Keychain, which he had forgotten to deposit back into his clothing. It dangled, looped over a finger, and glinted once in sparse light, turning as it hung freely. It was that reflection of sunlight that beamed right to the woman‘s eye, just like it had to Gabryl, and brought her to notice it as well. She knew what a Keychain was, and unlike Gabryl, she knew what purposes it served in the world. It wasn’t to be hung on anything, or clipped to a key. That Keychain was for protection, which she dearly needed now. Coming to the alley, she turned on her the toes of one foot, mid-step, when she came next to Gabryl, and pushed her arms out to the left, seizing Gabryl by his shoulders and sending both of them crashing to the muddy ground. Acting on practiced reflexes, Gabryl pushed back, only to be suppressed and sent into a roll; both of them fighting for dominance until the female pinned Gabryl to the wall, behind a set of trash cans, with him enraged and shouting in defiance. Before any words came out though, a gloved hand, the same bloody one from before, clasped down on his mouth forcefully. He could feel sharp fingernails through the leather. Looking up, trying to see his assailant’s face more clearly, Gabryl struggled more when a shroud of black enveloped both, making it pitch-black, and impossible for him to see. Something broke through however; a familiar bright light. Thin streaks of it poked through whatever was covering them both in small areas, and, after a few footsteps thudded and a bored-sounding grunt was sighed, the light shone a second time. There were no more footsteps, and whoever had appeared apparently left into thin air.

The sticky, bloody hand peeling off his mouth, the woman kneeled, then standing up, poised in a cautious stance. She didn’t seem harmed by the encounter, but Gabryl was drawn to her obvious feature, which had appeared on her since he had first seen her all of forty seconds ago. Spitting out the bodily fluids that stuck to his lips, his eyes scanned in surprise; with her back half-turned to him, Gabryl had a view of a pair of black wings, feathered, not unlike those of the Angels he had seen before, only with a color change. He was afraid initially; immediately going to thoughts of killer Angels, and scrambled up, gripping the scythe that appeared instantly in his hand. The woman, sighing in relief to herself, turned to see the blade nearly shoved in her face, and appropriately reacted, exclaiming, angry.

“The hell…!” Her hand lashed out, with quicker reflexes than Gabryl would ever expect from another person, and wrenched the scythe out of his hands. It was flung down the alley with an effortless toss, and clashed against the tightly-spaced walls and asphalt, sparks spraying off. They both watched it sail away, Gabryl suddenly coming under the impression that this Reaper was much more powerful than he, only to remember that that same unknown was standing right there, and most likely angry at him. He turned his head an inch to see her, only to feel his body lurched forward, his wrist gripped and used to yank up the rest of him so that they were eye level. She had to have been no more than a couple inches taller than him, though, so the increase in height wasn’t much. The woman however, did not have her focus on height, and rather narrowed her eyes towards the Keychain hanging from Gabryl’s clenched fist. He had no idea why the item would be so important to her, since if anything it should have meant more to Lucre, yet, after scanning the metal piece on the end thoroughly, her agitated gaze made its way back to her captive. With that, the strength shown before made another example of Gabryl, as it felt like his assailant was attempting to snap his hand clean off. He let out a sharp breath, and lost his hold on the Keychain, letting it fall.

Her orange eyes, nearly radiating some explosive emotion, followed the descending emblem, and she caught it in mid-air, letting it come to rest on her palm. they flicked back up to Gabryl’s face. He stared back, frightened by the evident, terrifying physical capabilities she may have. Blood pulsing from anxiety, he blinked. And it was when his eyes had opened not a moment later, that Gabryl saw the world flying past him, or perhaps him flying through it. He felt his cheek skid across the wet pavement, and bleed onto it; the coldness adding to the stinging on raw skin. He staggered to sit up, coughing, trying to find the breath that he lost, and wasn’t surprised to see her, with a fist still raised, holding the Keychain in the other hand. What did surprise Gabryl is that her punch didn’t tear right through his stomach, but had no doubt in him that a considerable bruise would be left. That, or he wouldn’t be able to properly digest anything for the next week.

Following up her offense, catching Gabryl off guard as he reflected on his dark humor, she made another move at speeds that he couldn’t comprehend. Jumping, or more accurately, lunging into the air, her wings fanned out to keep her balanced and almost floating as one foot came down on his chest to push him to his back, half-standing on him. Gabryl was once again searching for the connection from his mouth to his lung when a streak of black appeared in front of his face. A scythe, he knew, because of that way it was summoned to her. It was different though; the metal darker, almost black like the smoke that beckoned it. To make it appear even more distinct, was that the normally curved blade was jagged, coming to a sharp, angled point. Just like Gabryl’s, however, another shorter section of blade protruded from the opposite side of the longer counterpart. He couldn’t see any spike on the far end, like his, but from the uncomfortable position Gabryl was in he found that he had wasted enough time staring at what may go through his skull in a matter of minutes. His mouth opened once, slightly, to let out a gasp, another cough from the recoil, but she spoke before he could begin to form words.

“Where did you,” She shook the Keychain, it jingled, “get this?” Gabryl grunted, and didn’t know why he was having a conversation with a person that only managed to manhandle him in the time they had been together. He felt more pressure exerted on his chest when he didn’t answer.

“I-” He choked for a second when the words came out, and she nearly growled out of impatience. “…Found it on the ground.” Having said something out of impulse, without thinking, he realized how stupid that sounded. Her heel dug into his chest, and he could feel it bruising.

“No. The person who owns this wouldn’t just drop it-”

“Well, they did!” Again, he gagged, and Gabryl grasped her ankle, trying to pull it off. “The Reaper. He was running. He lost it.” He focused more on her leg, but as gripped onto it more, he couldn’t even feel any muscles tightened in it. Was it possible she wasn’t even trying to hold him down now? How weak exactly, was Gabryl, in comparison to others?

“You’re lying.” The woman was blunt, but with reason for not believing what seemed like such a shallow story.

“It’s what happened!” Gabryl sneered. “Then…then that Angel came and, he, um…” Starring back up, he saw a sudden softness appear in her eyes. The moment he mentioned the Angel, in fact, Gabryl could sense it in her; there was something she firmly believed in, or knew, that had been cut short. He was definitely used to this sort of reaction, having seen it in the eyes of people seeing loved ones stabbed or cut up otherwise. It came as a shock to Gabryl, though, to see it in this woman, with such physical domination over him.

“Dead…” She murmured, quietly, morosely, lifting her foot off of Gabryl. “He’s…dead. Right?” She spoke to the wall that she was facing, giving Gabryl the freedom to move without fear of having his movements predicted.

He gave a slow nod, and even though she couldn’t have seen the person sitting behind her, she nodded back. She didn’t really need an answer though, and knew how Gabryl would respond. Him having mentioned the Angel was all that she needed, and the pieces could be put together easily for someone with her experience.

Her scythe disappeared without any gesture or expression, and her eyes closed, sighing. However, Gabryl felt as though he was out of some big loops, all revolving around Angels and those chain things. First he inferred that the chains were special, probably meant to protect Reapers, or maybe anyone in general, from them. If Lucre hadn’t lost that Keychain, he’d be alive right now, living on what he could steal. He would have escaped into the crowd and never been seen by Gabryl again. Gabryl would have never had a run-in with this woman. He’d still be alone.

Just considering the chain of coincidences, and how these circumstances had come together made his head spin. Was he really benefiting from the death of another like this? Gabryl had gone and killed so many in the past, but they had just been random people. Never once had someone dying actually made him get anywhere, or helped him, or really do anything else outside of driving him into his depression. He brought a hand to his dirtied cheek, wincing as he wiped off blood. Gabryl noticed that he was scared. But, was he scared of having, in effect, killed someone important? No, and neither was he afraid of doing so again. Sure, he was slightly afraid of the woman that could break his neck in a second if she wanted to, but what affected Gabryl most deeply right now, was that he was involved in something. Gabryl thought of his only two instances of human contact before today, both being with Angels. He had always known there was something bigger going on, but never did he try to figure it out or look into it. The relation he had with Angels meant nothing to him until now. Now he knew they were the bad guys, and that other Reapers, if not also bad, were at least oppressed to some extent. Gabryl had learned, and saw that he was the cause of something, and that there were outcomes to be had that would directly affect him. It was frightening in a way he would never expect, but it was also so exhilarating.

Answers would be appreciated, but even this long-awaited adrenaline wouldn’t tell Gabryl how to communicate with others. Struggling with words earlier as he was stuck on his back, he hadn’t even been sure if he remember how to speak. However, he would need to learn how if he was going to get anywhere with this. It had been a long and confusing day, and Gabryl wasn’t about to let it go to waste.

“So…what, um, exactly is that chain thing…?” The words came out about as badly as he imagined.

She turned, giving him a look of pure distaste. Her striking orange eyes still kept themselves narrowed on Gabryl, and preoccupied herself by stringing the chain around her fingers. Opening her mouth a few times, finding her own right words, she gave a deep sigh, eyes going from Gabryl, down to the Keychain he asked about. It was evident she was angry towards Gabryl, for reasons he wasn’t completely sure of, but without going into the rage she had before. Her eyes closed, and she sighed once more before speaking.

“You don’t…know anything, do you?”

Gabryl looked perplexed, and wondered if he had just been insulted. The woman let the Keychain unravel off of her hand, holding it with her thumb and forefinger, in front of her for Gabryl to see. She bit her lip, and when she wasn’t fixated on looking at it with him, she was fighting herself from letting her gaze settle near the thing. Perhaps the hate she was showing was more towards the item between them, than Gabryl.

“…It’s a Keychain. We use them, so the Angels can’t detect us.” She brought a hand to her face, eyes closed more tightly now. “You really don’t know?”

Still absent minded, Gabryl shook his head. His sensitive, childish subconscious, having deteriorated form his loneliness, was jumping up and down in the back of his mind. Was there more he would learn about? More Reapers to meet? That side of him couldn’t wait to hear more. The logical part knew how critically things would change, and how dangerous the outcome would be.

“There are more Reapers with those things?” He shrank back when she nodded, feeling dumb. He clutched his stomach, it hadn’t been convulsing periodically like normal. No urges. It only added to the excitement. He pondered the connections, though, and then the possibilities; if Angels couldn’t see them when the had the Keychain things, then there was so much more he could do, and so much freedom he could have. Gabryl looked down to his hands, which had been stained in blood so many times in the past. For all he knew, they would never have to touch the color red ever again after today.

“Here, just…” She was clearly in no mood to talk, or even knock Gabryl around like before. Was it because Lucre was that important? She sighed and turned. “We’ll go there.”

Her wings, which Gabryl paid little mind to all this time, to his surprised, stretched out, wide enough that they were cramped in the alley, prompting her to turn parallel to the walls. She flapped them once to begin levitating into the air, and Gabryl watched on in awe. It was childish wonder, immediately followed by fear of being left behind. He stepped forward, almost under her, shouting.

“Hey! I can‘t…!” There was a look of distress on him.

She looked back, annoyed, with a frown, only to meet Gabryl’s expression of worry. The body language shared between the two was short-lived and blatant. Gabryl saw her motion with a shoulder, inviting him along. She became further troubled upon seeing his disdained look, afraid of being left behind for being of no use; he couldn‘t fly like that, and until today didn‘t know that Reapers could even have wings. She huffed, easing herself back down in front of him, landing lightly but making a show of stomping the ground to show how upset she was. Having made a show of that, she pivoted right on her heel and made haste towards the street, barely any traffic present at this hour. Gabryl hurried after, all the while wondering why he didn’t have wings himself; and watched as she folded her own, and wasn’t sure if it was through some subconscious movement or if it was like having two other arms. The appendages came together, black feathers very similar, if not the same as her raven hair, and then seemingly merged into her back, Reaper-styled smoke rising off. No pain or discomfort was expressed, impressing Gabryl, who watched as Leyla predicted car movements, preferring to cross here than waste her time at an intersection.

All the while, he was wishing he was as fortunate as her to have wings. Gabryl could only imagine they would be useful for getting around the large town with its crowded sidewalks and buses. And with this convenience, he’d be able to feel that cool, moist wind in his face, and have a front row seat of the perpetual twilight. He was sure it would be more beautiful when he wasn’t getting shoved out of the way every ten seconds or so. Being able to explore everything, without the burden of his daily killing sprees; he urged to have that fantasy come to life. Fantasizing, Gabryl almost missed following his companion as she crossed the street when a the walk signal flickered on. He took the opportunity to speak, to pass time and patch things up between them.

“So, um.” He began, catching up, and walking alongside her, to the woman’s discontent. Just hearing his voice was enough for her to cross her arms and sigh.

“Can I have a name to work with?” Gabryl chirped, albeit timidly, seeing her new pose.

“Leyla.” She spoke quietly and without formality, leaving the air between the two stale and a little awkward. He expected some kind of follow-up to that, but was glad he knew what to call her.

“Mine is Gabryl.” He stated, more wholeheartedly, not trying to demean her like she may have been doing to him before. However, even though he managed to give her this information, she didn’t exactly show any thanks for it, and simply stared blankly, gaze shifting from eye level to the sidewalk ahead.

“…In case you wanted to know.” He pulled at his shirt collar, uncomfortably, feeling some sweat on his knuckles. Gabryl could tell that Leyla wasn’t the kind of person who was very sociable, or was fun to talk to even when she did speak. To his surprise, Gabryl found that her apparent attempts to make him feel down was in fact working, as he didn’t feel like asking many more questions. He felt intimidated, sure, but impressed.

Still, Gabryl was excited, to a very held back extent. Leyla was taking him to some meeting place, he had inferred, of other Reapers. And not just any, but informed Reapers that knew how to get around these rules created to bind them. Gabryl had never felt so hopeful in so long, and could have smiled at the thought of his escape being blocks away. The only reason, of course, to suppress this urge was because of the melancholy girl near him. He’d reap the benefits of his new situation later, perhaps with a more celebratory bunch. Trying to think of these happier things, Gabryl glanced over to Leyla, who walked without distraction of the world around her, unflinching, with the same preciseness she had used to subdue him earlier. It was a feature, he noted, that made her desirable in a way, though he would take no actions on that small observation; any sort of romance or relationship was not in his agenda. If anything, his isolation made him crave a friend alone, than anything more. Besides, what semblance of love could come from their roaming of the afterlife? He realized he was still scanning her, and brought his eyes back to the town in front of him before she noticed, thinking of what she would do to him should she catch a person staring like that. He decided any form of attractiveness Leyla had was heavily shadowed by her somber tone, and frightening attitude. Her face, darkened by rings under her eyes, didn’t add to anything. Those eyes, that would normally be so intriguing to look at. Under these circumstances he was afraid to look at all; it made her look demonic, instead of bringing up any beauty, as eyes of that spectacular color should. He shrugged that off as a first impression gone awry. Stealing the Keychain he found didn’t help her case, though. Final impression? A bully.

But, these Keychains, there must be more of them. Hundreds more even, than the one that Leyla was holding now, and there must be enough that Gabryl could have his own as well. What if he could just walk up, and take one of them, no questions asked? His torments gone and nightmares settled, in one moment, just like that. It almost put a smile on the face of a man usually saddened and gloomy, just like the sky above him. Enough lamenting, though, he just wanted to get to their destination, like a child wanting a gift at Christmas; but it really did mean that much to him. He couldn’t stress that enough ,going over it again and again in his mind. In this rare time of happiness, the bells from the Chapel Hearts church rang over Twilight Town, the couple who were almost on the other side of the town. Gabryl craned his neck back to see the bell tower, over the trees of the distant park, as they gave their last ring. The sixteenth.

Without a functioning watch, and without constant sunlight, Gabryl usually relied on the chimes to tell him the general time; it was nearing the evening, and the hidden sun would soon set. as the encounter with Leyla lasted an hour. The bells fading, added to the peacefulness of this far-out area of the town, allowed Gabryl to hear another familiar noise; that of the Keychain, being handled by Leyla, as she moved it into her pocket. He wondered why, watching it fall into the pocket of her long, black jacket. Her eyes would dart down periodically, as if to make sure it was still there, in the fold of fabric. There was really no reason for there not to be, her clothing looked new and secure, without holes like Lucre. It was a long, black, billowy jacket that went past her waist. Silver drawstrings would tighten the baggy hood, should she decide to wear it. Between Gabryl, Leyla, and Lucre, Gabryl had to wonder if all Reapers dressed in such dark, depressingly-colored clothing. Shrugging it off as coincidence, a more pertinent question came to mind.

“Leyla.”

She didn’t look like she wanted to listen, but gave a short glance to have him continue.

“If those Keychains don’t let them- the Angels, see us, and you were running at me before…” Gabryl saw her pace falter for a moment, but keep pace. “You seemed in kind of a rush, so,” An eye twitches, from both individuals actually, “I mean, did you not have…?” She increased her pace, keeping her voice soft.

“My Keychain wasn’t with me, but there’s good reason.” Gabryl caught up to her, breathing a little heavy. He‘d normally go at a more relaxing walking speed. Eyes on her, waiting for her to keep talking, he gave a bit of a motion with his hand, which was caught in her peripheral.

“What? I told you. Not having it doesn’t…it doesn’t reflect on me or anything.” Gabryl was becoming more and more suspicious that either these Keychains were much more special than he originally thought, or that Leyla here, was quite paranoid about things. Either way, he wasn’t exactly feeling welcome into the apparent inner circle of Reapers that existed, and was hoping the rest of them wouldn’t lash out at him like her. He dismissed her defensive comments, and looked up at the sky as it darkened turned more purple than gray. Gabryl also noticed that they were nearly out of Twilight Town itself, in more rural areas, with the buildings decreasing in size, but not in the best of conditions. Trees were also more abundant. Traversing an intersection, Gabryl huffed a hushed breath when they made it to the other side, ignoring a man who bumped into him, obviously not seeing the invisible, dead person, and he sighed. The are was now much more wooded than the rest of Twilight Town, with tall trees almost touching the low clouds. With their branches only fanning out near the top, it was just like another layer to block the sun rays. At least it being nature made it look a little nicer. They stepped onto the old and cracked concrete, grass peeking out of the fissures, and turned right, going in the same direction as before. The buildings were darker and aged, some hidden in shadows, so Gabryl didn’t see their destination come near.

“We’re here.” Leyla said abruptly, snapping Gabryl out of his trance he was in, taking in the unfamiliar environment, and he looked up at the building in front of him. It was not the most impressive thing he had ever seen. It was a large mansion, albeit a little better-looking than the other buildings on the street, but it didn‘t seem to be very well taken care of. Yellow stone and dark shingles made up structure, chipping off in places. It had a second story, where a few windows were lit by some dim source. One or two were even cracked, with some surrounded by dry vegetation crawling up. It looked old, but carried the aura that it was once a more extravagant place, ravaged by time and lack of housekeeping.

They approached the tall double doors, but Gabryl couldn’t help but recognize the place faintly. He may have very well walked by this place before, or on multiple occasions, but the real reason for not recalling it was probably because of it not even having a sign on it; no name to speak of. A large wooden board, meant to be some kind of sign, hung by chains, in the shape of a three-pointed crown. It too was old, but Gabryl had no idea what it could represent. Probably just a symbol, or maybe some kind of invisible Reaper ink. A humorous notion, but he was not too sure how ridiculous it was. Leyla didn’t give the sign any notice, and gave the door a strong pull, neglecting to hold it open for the man who had been trailing behind, absorbing the strange scenery.

The interior was crowded with people, crammed into the large lobby at round wooden tables. The place had insufficient lighting, leaving some corners dark and dusty, though the latter applied the rest of the lobby as well. Two staircases, winding to the second floor, a balcony that went around the edge of the rectangular room, began at two ends of the room near the back and arched over a glass doorway. The glass in question dirty and yellow, making it almost impossible to see through. Gabryl imagined that it went outside. There were different age groups, races, and of obvious differing social statuses, and Gabryl had to wonder if all the people like these were really Reapers, if all of them were dead, and brought back reap hearts by just some chance. It occurred to Gabryl that this place was more than any meeting grounds, but some kind of cheap hotel or inn designed to even house the many Reapers in the town, or outside of it. A place like this would definitely solve his dilemma of having a permanent living space, so perhaps Leyla was going to try and find him a room? She led him to a long desk on their immediate left, where a man sat. He was in front of a tall series of shelves and cabinets, all crammed full of records and documents, probably in regards to those staying there and the keeping of the building. He was currently writing on a clipboard, making numerous marks and checking up on other papers to confirm those marks. Seemed like a boring job, despite the undead acting as your tenants. Gabryl’s mind wandered on how that could really make any significance though, and eventually came to realize that the owner himself must be a Reaper.

Both stood in front of the checkout desk, the managed not making any acknowledgment of the pair. Gabryl raised a hand to try and capture his attention, but Leyla was able to do so wordlessly, slipping a hand inside her coat and pulling out the Keychain by one of the small links. The jingle from its movement had the man meet her eyes, bold orange ones, just like her own.

“Ah, Leyla,” his deep voice expressed a kind of hopefulness, and he placed his work carefully to a concealed shelf under the desk, “so you’ve found him-” Clearing his throat, he cut himself off as he looked over to Gabryl, who just stood awkwardly. He had no idea how to present himself, or what to say. “Or not.”

“I, er, found him.” She tried to explain, simultaneously handing over the Keychain. The man took it in both hands like second nature, tucking it in his own pocket. Had that actually belonged to him? The man was old, obviously, and didn’t seem like the type to get out much. His face showed signs of wrinkles starting to come in, and his hair line had receded a little, though it still retained a fine blonde color. Leyla seemed to be respecting him regardless of age, however, as she formed her words sluggishly.

“Yeah. New kid. Found him when I saw him holding…that.” She nodded towards the Keychain, and he gave an uneasy look towards both. He looked down, opening his cupped hands to observe the object, and then back to Leyla, who he stared at sternly.

“But not him, hmm?

“…No.” She shook her head in small spasms, letting her own eyes drift towards the floor. There was some sort of understanding between them that Gabryl knew he wasn’t getting, and didn’t know if he wanted to know. He had the suspicion they were speaking of Lucre.

“I’m sorry.” He sighed. Yep, Gabryl thought, there was definitely something he was not aware of. His own gaze went back and forth between the two, before setting on the man, who finally paid him full attention. “I imagine we will have to set you up some place?”

Gabryl nodded, and felt his tension lessen. The single sentence aimed at him made him feel like he wasn’t an alien. The inn manager stood up, with fine posture, and turned to a drawer, rummaging through it. Gabryl’s eyes snapped to him as he heard more jingling, expecting a Keychain to be handed to him. Rather, it was a large iron ring with a number of keys hanging off it, which dampened his excitement, but gave him the positive prospect of having a bed to call his own. A key was hooked off and handed to Gabryl, to which he mouthed a shy, silent thank you.

“It will be to the left of your own, Leyla. Show him the way, and come back down. We’ll have a talk about what happened.” He scratched the hair on his chin, saying it in a tone that Gabryl thought a parent would take when about to scold their child, except they try to make it sound like a discussion, getting their hopes up in that they would have a fair say. Leyla did not make it seem this way though, and nodded, giving a slight smile that last less than a moment.

“Thank you, Ansem.” She turned, beckoning Gabryl to follow by sweeping her hand over her shoulder. He followed fervently, giving a timid wave to the innkeeper, who just sat back down to his paperwork. What had happened couldn’t have been a normal conversation between to friends, he thought, but he remember enough about having a social life to know it would be rude to ask about it. He simply sighed and caught up to her, fondling the key in one hand, and gathered the courage to ask his more pertinent question.


“Leyla, will I…do you think I could maybe…” He stammered, to his surprise, but his voice gained a little more enthusiasm as he went on. Leyla on the other hand gritted her teeth at his voice, preoccupied with other thoughts.

“Yes?” She spoke with some false brightness. Gabryl tugged at his shirt collar, and felt sweat like before.

“…Will I get a Keychain of my own? I mean, if you, and Lucre-” Leyla winced when he said the name, “had one, does that mean I could too?”

Contemplating, she tried to muster the kindest, and most truthful, answer possible.

“You…might. It could happen. There are some available ones I guess, but I don’t know if anyone is too delighted to just hand them out.“

Gabryl’s encouragement faltered at her words, and the glint that had appeared in his eyes died down just a little. Blue eyes that had gotten a little more brighter that day. Leyla had to admit that it was rare to see a color like that. She shook her head and ignored any admirations she had of the boy, he was new and wouldn’t be worth anything until he grew to know the place. She led him up the left-hand staircase, and down a hallway on the same side. Conversations and shouts and a television broadcast echoed. Leyla stopped to the side of one door, more than half way down, and stood next to it, inviting Gabryl use his key, which he did, fiddling shortly with the old lock. As he entered the dark room, he immediately smelled wet wood, probably from the material the old place was built of combined with the eternal rain. He was able to reach the outline of a bed and sat down on it, feeling the thick flannel blanket, which he promptly laid down on. Gabryl hadn’t noticed how tired he really was from the days events, and almost fell asleep before Leyla drew the curtains to the side of the creaky bed, filling the room with overcast-blocked light.

“Alright, you’re settled.” She drawled, turning away and making for the door. “I don’t plan on seeing you until the morning. Just ask Ansem for anything in the meantime.” It was still fairly early too, so she must be busy, or perhaps just wanted to lose the newbie that was essentially dead weight. Ah well. Gabryl would be sleeping from now until the next morning anyway, having his nightmares under the comfort of knowing that he would be having them in his own bed. He twisted his body and patted down the pillow, and looked up back to Leyla, standing in the doorway.

“Hey, how am I supposed to pay for all this, exactly?” He cracked his neck, and she rolled her eyes back in thought.

“Oh, well, Ansem supports us. Reapers get a considerable discount.” She smirked to herself. “Plus, I’m sure he’ll go easy on you, since you just moved in. Funds are hard to come by for us.”

The corner of his mouth twitched, and his finger circled on the blanket.

“I…have to make money?” The most Gabryl ever remembered doing was stealing a few dollars from the homes or wallets of people he killed, and that was just to get by. Barely, at that. He wasn’t crazy about stealing, but apparently that was how Reapers like Lucre got by. Unless that was what she meant? Did all Reapers steal? Leyla could tell he was thinking over his financial future and put a hand on the doorknob, preparing to leave and disgrace him.

“Look, you obviously don’t know much about being a Reaper-”

“But, I’ve been one for years!” He leaned forward, wearing a face of contempt and worry.

“Alright, alright.” Another disgruntled sigh from her. “Whatever. Years or not, things will change for you, so you’ll have to get used to it. I’ll show you around, introduce you to some others, maybe those that can handle you.” She gripped the doorknob a little tighter, letting her eyes settle on his. It occurred to her that rather than trying to just get him off her back, she was in fact coming off as a bit too mean. “Look, I just don’t normally walk around with anyone new. We‘ll take care of all that tomorrow. I need rest, and I need to talk things over with some others. It may not occur to you, but you were probably the only person to see someone who a lot of people cared about, get murdered.”

No, it really hadn’t occurred to Gabryl that Lucre was special. Of course he wished he could have spoken to him, but death was just so routine that ultimately the death itself was easy to forget. Sure there was the moral aspect of it, but most of it was forgettable. He had made a mistake there.

“S-Sorry…” Gabryl slowly put his head back to the pillow, closing his eyes. “Tell, um, Ansem I said thank you. I’m tired.” He spoke in his old, depressed, bored tone, but Leyla actually saw nothing wrong with it.

“Alright, you don’t have to get up early or anything, not like anyone’s in a rush. Do whatever the hell you want, just come and see me at some point.” She stressed the last part, maybe responsibility meant something to her. Overall her voice had lightened up though, which unnerved Gabryl. Was she happier for making him sad, and expressing her discontent? And he was just warming up to her, too.

Gabryl’s eyes closed tighter, and he put a hand over his chest. He didn’t feel like undressing, as he could feel his mind drifting off to sleep by the time he realized he was still wearing his clothes. Gabryl expected that he would never get to sleep after everything he had discovered today, too, yet slumber eventually took him, much to his relief. Snoring lightly, sprawling out as the hours rolled by, subconsciously some part of him would twitch every time the sound of a jingle made its way into his room.
 
Last edited:

Izayoi

galactic cancer
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Chapter 3 ya'll. Plot begins to pick up, plus we have things becoming just a tad more KH-like. Enjoy.

III - Longing

Leyla quietly stepped down the hallway, heels touching the floor lightly. She stopped when she reached the balcony that overlooked the lobby; there was hardly anyone there, and saw only a couple tables occupied. Not as if there were likely to be more, though. It was past midnight, so the majority of the people staying at the inn would be fast asleep, and like she expected, she was not one of them. Her eyes wouldn’t stay shut whenever she would lie down, and when they did, it only made it easier for painful memories to come to her. Leyla gripped the railing and made her way down, attempting not to lose her balance from incurable drowsiness. The steps creaked, causing a few heads that were awake to turn up towards her, who only had the noises of the desolate streets outside before she arrived. Only two pairs of eyes stayed on her.

She reached a familiar table, shoved against the staircase she had just descended, and sat at a chair already pulled out. She slouched while crossing one leg over the other, and sunk in her seat. It was, really, an unbecoming habit of a women with her looks. Orange eyes rolled up to the two sitting on the other side of the circular table, both leaning back in similar exhaustion, but without the same depression. Neither paid much mind to her, as Leyla’s insomnia was something they had learned to deal with, but they were not above acknowledgment. There were however, above initiating it.

“Are we too old for hello’s now?” Leyla muttered, half-sarcastically, pulling off a glove with diligence, then laying it gently on the table. Beginning to work on the right hand, one of the two spoke out, Raimyd. Of the three present, he was the newest.

“Nah, we just didn’t want to break the ambiance.” He smirked to himself, then looked up. “You know the weather can be a downer, but hi.”

She smiled a little, which was not a rare feat in the company of friends. It was to her knowledge that Raimyd was a fan of sunshine and a warmer climate, as he had moved to Twilight Town from some place in the south shortly before dying here. It was very fortunate that he made acquaintances, not knowing how to live off the city like Gabryl did, a native to the town. Leyla realized it must get to him when the clouds act like a permanent ceiling. Some continual sun, at least for a couple days, wouldn’t kill anyone, after all. The irony in that thought hit her a moment later.

“Not to mention it’s about one, girl. You should be getting some sleep, you know you deserve some rest right now.”

Both glanced at the third party member, Medea, sitting defiantly taller, dark-skinned, with her equally dark hair hanging over an eye. Leyla scowled, not wild about having others telling her what her priorities should be in the position she was in.

“Maybe I wasn‘t tired. Couldn’t sleep.”

“Or maybe you were thinking about him too much.” Medea kept a serious look, whilst the other girl just closed her eyes, sighing. Raimyd’s eyes flicked between both.

“By the way, we heard. We’re very sorry for your loss.” He rose an eyebrow on the second half of the apology, though it was more like an exaggerated statement. Sympathy was not either of the three’s forte. However, this was probably because it was directed more towards the woman seated next to him, who acted a little more blunt. Raimyd recomposed himself, and tapped the table with a finger to get Leyla‘s attention. She kept her eyes closed though. “Any word on what happened out on the field? All Ansem told us was about Lucre.”

Leyla sucked in her breath, taking hold of the arms of her chair and pushing herself up straight. She set an elbow on the table, on the palm of which she rested her chin. Half-opened eyes looked at the tabletop, covered in rings from drinks being set on them, and she reviewed the day. It came to her attention that she had ignored most of it, except for Lucre’s death and the general existence of the new Reaper she found. His name was not even clear in her mind yet.

“I, um.” She sat up straight, it wasn’t very comfortable speaking like that. “Found a new guy while I was out. A Reaper.” She added on that last bit when Raimyd gave her a strange look, but he became more inquisitive than double-minded.

“Oh, yeah. Saw him with you when you got back. How is he?”

She winced a little, and tried to remember. Oh, that’s right. He was completely incompetent.

“His name is Gabryl, and the kid’s just…he’s been dead for some time apparently and he’s just a blank slate. Doesn’t know anything. Couldn’t even fly.” She rolled her eyes, but her audience was a little more tolerant.

“Well, maybe the right circumstances to learn never came.” Medea noted logically. She knew that Leyla was upset, but she didn’t need to take it out on the new guy. She was also becoming suspicious that the coincidence in her finding this Gabryl character after learning of Lucre’s death might be having some effect on her. One that was clearly damaging how she saw this kid. Medea decided she would supervise the relationship, and make sure he that he won’t get scarred. Leyla’s increasing scowl foreshadowed her doing so, though.

“It’s just…he’s so stupid…” She buried her face back into her hand.

“Sleep’ll help you, hon.”

“I…can’t.” She crossed her arms on the table and her head collapsed into them. Some inaudible mumbles were absorbed into the wood. The three sat in the flickering, haunting candlelight from above, not noticing the handful of people wandering around, up and down the stairs, until a familiar, blue-cloaked figure made its way down the stairs on the opposite side of the room. His choice of clothing, coupled with his bright hair made him stand out. Ansem headed towards the group without a second glance, holding an ice cream bar out towards Leyla. It was bright blue, almost like his clothing, and he held the flat stick with his thumb and forefinger, staring down her downtrodden self. She lifted her head, sensing his presence, but shook her head when she saw the dessert presented to her. Normally she would feel bad about turning down his favorite treat, but she was in no mood.

“It’s sweet. It might help your spirits.” Ansem reasoned, in an attempt to help her, having talked down an initial rage from earlier. He knew she had decided though, and let Raimyd take the ice cream, much to the latter’s enjoyment.

“Or it’ll just rub salt in the wound…” Her head went back in her arms. Medea leaned forward to pat her arm in comfort. It was then Raimyd’s turn to try and console her, and he spoke between the laps he took at the ice cream.

“Well.” He licked. “Maybe now you can work on your own, right Ansem? I mean, wouldn‘t be right to just go and replace Lucre like that.” His mind stayed on the concept of partnerships, waiting from some sign of approval from the old blonde man. “Unless that means I’m with the newbie.” He bit a chunk of the ice cream off, and narrowed his eyes towards Leyla. “Eh, then he can stay with you.”

Medea brought the back of her hand to the side of his head, almost causing him to loose a grip on the stick, but he just gripped it tighter in response. Leering at her, he fixed his hair, blonde, draping over his ears and past his jaw.

“Shush it, Rai.”

“I’m just saying. I’m not, um, ‘qualified’ enough to handle him anyway, am I?” There was a look of satisfaction on his face, feeling as though he had gotten out of watching over Gabryl, and he licked silently. The rest were not as entertained as he was.

“I will have to work on the pairings, yes, but Leyla, you most likely won’t be working directly with anyone. Perhaps you four can make up a fine group.”

As he predicted, all three of them gave some semblance of a pout, and shifted uncomfortably, at the mention of a fourth joining them. While Leyla’s bias towards Gabryl was clear, Raimyd and Medea hid their own better. They too were on close terms with Lucre, and did not want someone to replace him, and so soon. They hoped would be capable of accepting him faster than Leyla was, and that she wouldn’t lash out too hard at the kid. They had both integrity and a person to keep safe, and said this to each other, wordless, giving a slight nod. Raimyd bit down on the bare stick, and Leyla stood, staring outside through the glass doors, between the stairs. Nothing inspiring came from the stars that were barely visible, like she had hoped. Wasn’t looking up to the sky for some kind of assistance the cliché thing that always helped?

“You know what. Sleep sounds fine right now. In fact, I wouldn’t mind locking myself up in my room and not waking up for years. Maybe someone will wake me when everyone I know is dead. Then I can just start over, no pressure.” There was a strange hysteria in her voice. Almost threatening. She turned on her heel, making haste towards the stairs, and not trying to quiet her movements like she had coming down. Ansem stood in place, but wore a mask of concern. Raimyd worried of Gabryl screwing up everything. Medea contemplated an unstable Leyla.

Gabryl dreamt.

He studied his surroundings. They were fairly familiar, but he couldn’t put his finger on it. Said finger, and clothing, were splattered in blood, which shocked Gabryl more in that he could not remember attacking anyone rather than the presence of it. He touched his stained arm with his other hand, but it was dry, and by how much it had set into his sleeve, Gabryl assumed that he had not washed his clothes in days. Odd, since he preferred to stay clean. There was next to no memory of this in his mind, but then why did he feel like he had been through this before? Gabryl knew this had to be a dream, since he was previously in a room assigned to him in a badly-kept hotel room. Therefore he reasoned it was a reoccurring dream, which would cause the feeling of familiarity. Gabryl tried to sit up, grunting, his limbs feeling like iron weights, and his joints stone. He had to have dreamt this before, but dreams that one experience over and over are not usually good ones. Maybe this would be a rare case, or it would be some kind of haunting event that was going to replay in his subconscious. Then again, something that important would not be forgotten so easily. His attempt at applying logic hurt his head, and all this deduction took place only over a matter of seconds. The seconds after jogged his mind.

Forcing his heavy limbs to lift himself, his eyes suddenly widened in shock, and every nerve in his body sent messages to his brain at once, all of which were signals of pain, agony, and excruciating hurt.

“Gah…ah…!” He choked. His initial exclamation quickly diminished as his body became too exhausted to make any noise. Gabryl’s voice just stopped working, and he feared his breathing would as well if he kept up the physical strain. He had to ignore the screaming in his brain long enough to focus on stopping his body from torturing itself, and somehow his will to stand up ceased, the result of which caused his writhing body to crash back to the chair. Rasped breaths escaped his burning throat. He was afraid to try to speak. The pain still remained, though, and he coincidentally remembered why he had not left the chair in so long.

Gabryl tightened his eyes shut, as if to hide from the pain, but it was the worst behind his eyes, in his head. No, in fact, it seemed to be pulsating between his brain and abdomen. The moment he noticed the pain in his stomach was the moment it burned more than anywhere else. He wanted to vomit from the built up nausea of the situation. Why did it hurt so bad, was it from hunger? It felt like he hadn’t eaten, but there were many food wrappers scattered about the room. That couldn’t have been it, so Gabryl racked his memory some more. Eating seemed like it would be a good suppressant, as the pain felt like that of hunger, or that his body simply needed something. That sour, lurching feeling dominated every fiber of his being now, and he wished the food had worked. He cursed the agony he was in, and hated this feeling. It was a familiar feeling. In fact, it was the one that plagued him every day.

Gabryl blinked, and the pain was gone. He could turn his head freely, and stretch his arms out any way he liked. A smile of great relief filled his face before he noticed how weightless he felt, and looked down. Gabryl was hovering over the scene he had just been reliving, and floated just above the dream version of him. His smile wavered, but now he was himself again, with all the memories returned, and he knew exactly what was playing out before him.

The Gabryl sitting on the comfortable, blood-stained armchair who was still experiencing immense physical torture was himself from about a year and a half earlier. This Gabryl didn’t know about being a Reaper as much as he did now, and had only just learned to cope with the fact that he had died a few months before. Unfortunately, this was not that case of his job to kill people, which he loathed and was horrified of. Young Gabryl could not be warned of the penalties for not fulfilling his duty, and his sense of righteousness was too strong to allow himself to kill just so he could feel a little bit better. The present Gabryl sighed as he recalled what would happen next, and wished his old self had figured out to overlook such morals early on.

A bright light flashed in the space in front of the chair, instantaneously forming a blinding column of whiteness. As Gabryl brought an arm to cover his eyes, he watched his younger self struggle to do the same. The light dimmed, and a person stood in its place, still radiating heat from whatever power it took to teleport him to their location. An older, more rationalized Gabryl knew who this was on a much less terrified note, as well as gaining some extra familiarity to the mannerisms of an Angel he had learned the previous day. Young Gabryl had no way to recognize the Angel before him however, for when he had first met an Angel, it was him going to them.

The Angel, drastically different than the one who confronted Gabryl more recently, took a step forward. He rotated his shoulders and cracked his neck, staring down the new Reaper with malice. At least, that is what one would assume was in his eyes, for this Angel was completely masked. A black-colored helmet concealed his head and any distrainable features above his neck. More black, combined with red, made up a strange suit that covered the rest of his body, making it look more muscular and almost demon-like. This entire getup though, was contrasted by his own Angel wings, which were stark white and thin, covering the width of his back by only so much. It was an odd sight, but reminded Gabryl that Angels were but stronger, higher-ranked Reapers. A change in color and a few flashy special effects didn’t completely hide that fact. The Keyblade, in place of a scythe, which the angel now held directly at young Gabryl’s face, confirmed his theory on this. Knowing how similar they were was a strange comfort.

The Keyblade in question was red and black, like its owner, and looked to be made up of fragments of cogs strung together. It bobbed and waved in his grip, much like his head, which told Gabryl that he was speaking to his dream self, who of course was too scared to respond. Gabryl sighed, and crossed his arms behind his head, leaning back in, He knew that the rest of this scene would be nothing, just the Angel scarring him for nearly the rest of his afterlife, prompting multiple dreams just like this one. He would make sure that Gabryl would break no more rules, and that resisting the killing impulses would only result in his erasure. Gabryl tilted his head forward, and froze. The Angel was right in front of him now, pointing the Keyblade to his nose from a perspective he had not been in before. Normally this was an out of body experience for Gabryl, but now he we genuinely afraid of what was happening, for the first time in a year an a half. The dream was to end here, wasn’t it? He kept thinking this, hoping it would become reality. It did not. In an instant that felt like it took forever, the Keyblade became a sphere of light in the Angel’s hand. It glowed ominously and slowly increased in size just like it had in the hand of the Angel in front of Lucre. Gabryl, trying to move, only felt his arms glued to the arms of the chair, and the rest of his body too heavy. He felt sweat on his forehead. His breath shortened. He was experiencing the one event that had sickened him more than anything; Lucre’s death. The Angel raised his hand above Gabryl’s vision, and he could only just see the object of his doom shine upon him, casting a horrible glare in the mask in front of him. He felt like he could see his assailant’s face for a mere second, but that meant nothing. He was done for. The glow blinded his vision, and sheer white dominated his vision before he blacked out.

Then Gabryl awoke. His mouth was agape, having said in his sleep what he could not in the dream, with arms half-raised over the bed. He waved them around, taking pleasure in the freedom to move them, and brought two fingers to his forehead. Sweat. Plenty of it, which he wiped off with his sleeve. Realizing his eyes had not yet been open, Gabryl slowly brought his eyelids up, squinting at his room that was now filled with the hazy blue light of a cloudy morning. Leyla had left his curtains open, and the brightness from the outside world must have awoken him. In the back of his mind, Gabryl tried to use the open window as reason for the change in his dream, hoping that it made any sense. But it was best to ignore it, not like it had been the first time he had the nightmare of his first meeting the Angel. Gabryl pulled his knees out form under the blankets and brought his feet the floor. It was cold, and he could have sworn it was wet.

With his eyes still half-shut, a hunched over Gabryl shuffled across the room to the window. Unfortunately, he failed to see the chair that was standing in his path. His chest slammed against the floor without the reflexes of his arms to cushion the fall. He felt his nose swell a little, and as he pushed himself up, there was a noticeable odor of dampness drifting up from under him. Gabryl had to wonder how water had found its way into his room, but he decided to place it on the fact that it rained so much. Tired and now a little injured, he leaned on the dusty glass, watching a few birds glide across the sky. They made him think of Leyla’s wings, and whether or not he would ever be able to fly. His eyes fell shut again, and he felt like he would fall sleep once more. The threat of the nightmare looming prevented this though, and Gabryl leaned away from the window before slumber could take him.

He showered, letting his perspiration-lined clothes air out in the meantime. The warm, rejuvenating water was a good way to put the life into Gabryl, puns aside, and let his mind work a little more efficiently. It also helped to construct his thoughts, so that he could take in the events that transpired in one day. He leaned against the shower, smiling a little, letting the spray drum against his chest. There was a reason for him to go on, now. Gabryl would experience a whole new set of adventures, escaping from his life of monotonous killing and giving dread to whomever he had contact with. It was almost as if he was reborn.

Yet, his enthusiasm was killed for the umpteenth time only moments after entering the lobby.

“Hey! New guy!” Raimyd shouted from below. He pushed a few taller men out of the way, and met Gabryl at the last stair. His head turned every now and then, eyes continuously shifting in search of someone. “Gabryl, right?”

This surprised Gabryl, who did not expect to be recognized so quickly. Hearing someone address him that bluntly made him falter.

“Um, yeah. Who are--”

“Good.” Raimyd interrupted, and he grabbed Gabryl by the shoulders, pushing him to an empty table. “Wait here. We’re leaving in a bit, so I’ll get the others.” He started walking back to the staircase, mumbling, and Gabryl could not tell if he was talking to him or himself. “Didn’t think you’d wake up so early, geez…”

What confused Gabryl more about this statement was that the clock read eleven twenty. Perhaps they were just night people, and were used to sleeping in. However, before he could further contemplate the living habits of what he was sure would be his new friends (by default) there was a soft thud across the table. It was Leyla finding a place to sit, and she did so with slight unease. Gabryl observed a cup of coffee in her hand, and not even a mug, but of fine ceramic work. It was odd, as Leyla was not a person he would peg to own such a delicate item. What would also be to Gabryl’s surprise, if he knew, was that this coffee cup had been refilled for the sixth time in the last eight or so hours, the surprise of course being that one could drink so much of the stuff and not be in the least bit jittery. He tone of voice showed that she was feeling quite the opposite, in fact.

“…Gabryl.” She whispered, acknowledging him. Gabryl gave a nod, and turned in his seat to face her.

“Morning.” he bode, flatly, not trying to upset her by sounding too happy. Gabryl knew how that could just set her off. Fortunately, this worked, as Leyla’s eyes sunk down to drink, which Gabryl saw was black and steaming. Her previous cups had also been black, which would surprise anyone even more that her blood was not made of caffeine by now. Leyla’s eyes darted form the cup to the stairs, to the front desk, and finally back on Gabryl. She slid the cup over.

“Here, I don’t need any more.” She said, still quiet. “You haven’t eaten or anything, and it’ll at least wake you up.”

Gabryl pulled the cup to his side of the table, slowly, albeit gratefully. It had been more than a day since he had filled his stomach, so yes, a beverage that would give him a slap to the face was appreciated. Especially one that didn’t seem to have anything added into it. Gabryl sipped, and winced as he swallowed. How could anyone drink this? The fact that he was incredibly hungry was the only thing keeping it down. It was better than starving.

“Ah, good morning you two.”

Gabryl cocked his head and blinked, coming face to face with a white coat, slightly shaded blue. Ansem stood, with fine posture, and a hand in his right pocket which itself was concealed under a red scarf slung around his neck. His arrival was received with a small hello from Gabryl, and complete ignorance form Leyla. Ansem was hardly offended by the non-greeting though, and nodded, the corners of his mouth raising in an attempt to uplift her with a smile. She wasn’t even looking. With a sigh, his hand came from under his scarf, and he handed a Keychain to her. She morosely took it, transferring it to her own pocket while trying to not look at it. Gabryl stared at Ansem hopefully, but did not hide it very well..

“Gabryl, I’ll be assigning you one once Raimyd returns.” His gaze shifted between them. “The four of you will be going out on reconnaissance at the,” there was a small couch as he cleared his throat, “scene of the crime, as it were.”

The new Reaper, without any knowledge of what Ansem was talking about or why they were even doing it, nodded enthusiastically. Gabryl was very much glad to be doing anything, especially if it meant he would have a Keychain.

“We too late?” Raimyd called, clamoring around other tenants, and coming to lean on his own chair. His attention averted towards Leyla. “Found the beauty queen trying to freshen up for all the boys down town that can’t see her.”

An agitated Medea, hair soaked, stormed down. Her fingers were almost wringing themselves around Raimyd’s neck, but she restrained herself enough to take a seat. A pair of dark eyes nearly burned their way into his smirking face, though, but she didn’t let her rage come down on him. Partly, this was because it was quite early, and Medea was not in the mood to stress herself out when the sun had just rose. Another reason however, was that she was trying to not appear as some quarrelsome monster to the new blood. Medea had decided logically that if Leyla would angst every moment she had, and if Raimyd was going to be a complete snob, that she would have to take the housewarming into her own hands.

“What, nothing?” Raimyd chirped, an eyebrow rising. “Well if you’re gonna be so quiet, then don’t get me started on that music you blast--”

“Quiet, Raimyd.” Commanded a deep voice. Gabryl was surprised to see it come from Ansem, though there was really no other candidates for it. Strange though, how a sort of fatherly, gentle quality left the man as soon as he stated those words. The air was cold for a while, before he started speaking again. “Now. Rai, you’ll be sharing one today with Gabryl. This way you two will keep close, understood?”

It is difficult to explain the cornucopia of emotions that showed on Raimyd’s face in one instant, but they very quickly cycled through shock, anger, acceptance, slightly more anger, and finally indifference. He was surprised to have the rookie paired up with the previous rookie, himself, then angered that he had lost the opportunity to go out on his own. Soon he accepted that it would not be too long until Gabryl was responsible enough, or dead, which ever came first. Then he was angry once more at having to get up so early, afterwards forgetting about what had angered him in the first place.

“Whatever.” He snatched the Keychain from Ansem’s palm, prompting a very disappointed Gabryl to watch it travel from hand to hand. That was, after all, the guy he was sharing with, right? He had to at least get to hold the thing once. Medea took her own, and Gabryl stood up, almost knocking his chair aside to see if Raimyd would let him get a good look at the item he could very well call his own now. However, he was rushing to the door already, slipping on a green camouflage jacket that he plucked from a coat rack. This indeed surprised the others, who were more morning people than him.

“C’mon, I wanna grab some breakfast on the way back!”

Medea grabbed Gabryl by the arm, wrenching him forward, and turned her head to Leyla. Her other hand signaled for her to hurry along, and she made for the door, which Gabryl had reached out of fear. He really did not know who this person was and how violent they could be, and was not willing to find out. Gabryl set the bar of politeness for Reapers at Leyla’s level, and ever since Raimyd entered the scene, he was contemplating setting it a little lower.

“Leyla, you know he’s gonna be there by the time we cross the street. I want to get it over with too, no reason to hold back.” She walked to the other side of the table, ushering her to go with them. With a sigh, she gave in, and shuffled to the door. Ansem gave them both farewells in the form of a nod, and waited until they had left. He tugged at his scarf, and returned to his post at the checkout desk. The next hour or so that the Reapers were gone, went as normal for him, except for something in the back of his mind. Gabryl came to him as familiar, or perhaps the way he acted. The child was quiet, but Ansem could see an apparent optimism in his eyes. Blue ones, at that, with a rare vividness. He shrugged it off, and went back to some paperwork consisting of tax reductions, and his own research notes.

There was a brisk gust of a wind, which blew Gabryl’s hair aside. He shivered, and brushed it back over his ears, hoping that it would keep him warm. It didn’t help. He crossed his arms and looked around, trying to keep his mind off the cold by distracting himself by the events surrounding him. Ironically, the town never seemed so boring. There was noticeably more growth in this area though, and towering evergreens did liven things up for the eye. Nobody, not even cars, roamed at this hour, which seems almost completely darkened, with the tall buildings and trees blocking whatever sun made it from behind the clouds. Since it had just rained so much though, Gabryl had hopes there would be some light soon.

Hm. Light, sun, warmth. Damn, he just reminded himself that he was cold. A sigh emitted, leaving a barely visible mist. Talking might help, he concluded. After all, he would have to get used to these people, and small talk could be the best path to get to friendship. He paused his thinking. Friendship. Did he even want to be friends with these guys? When they weren’t being rude to him they seemed generally intolerable. Or maybe he was that way too. Gabryl had hardly said a word since arriving, so maybe they saw him as some mute freak. He would have to speak eventually to get on their good side, then.

Later, the irony would hit Gabryl that he had thought in full circle, only justifying himself by the want to be accepted. He picked up his pace, coming to Raimyd’s side, who barricaded himself against the cold with a heavy hood. Raimyd’s pale, reddish eyes glanced to his side, and he gritted his teeth.

“Um, Raimyd?”

He responded with a blink, and wordlessly gave him permission to continue.

“Since we’re supposed to be partners or something,” Gabryl could actually see his teeth grinding as his lips parted, “could I see the Keychain maybe? I never really, er, owned one.”

“Sure, fine.” He rolled his eyes, tossing it in the air, across to him. Raimyd had been playing with the chain around his fingers, and it only served as a reminder of his new situation. “Just hold onto it. I’ll be hanging out with Medea. Don’t bug me. You can explore on your own when we get there.”

“Oh.” He spat out, fumbling to catch it. Gabryl pricked his fingertip as he tried to steady the small, metal emblem. It was pointed, and in fact it had multiple little points. He carefully turned it, seeing that the points were like spokes, coming off a silver, circle-shaped piece of metal. The chain hanging off of it was black and red, and segmented in three parts, unlike the generic chain Leyla’s had. He closed his hand around it, bringing it to his right pocket, thought he was crazy when he felt a heat coming off the Keychain. Gabryl inferred it was his mind playing tricks on him though, with him wanting to warm up.

“Hey.” He said, Raimyd’s last words finally registering. “Where are we going to, anyway?” His inquiry was more directed at the whole crowd, rather than just at the irked Reaper next to him. Fortunately, Medea addressed the question before anyone could lash out.

“Well, hon, we’re setting off to where you were yesterday.”

Gabryl finally paid attention to where they were walking, and took in the scenery. They were walking the same path that he and Leyla had taken the day before, heading back to the town common. He looked up, seeing that the populous of trees had all but disappeared, and a tram could be seen rolling by.

“What’s so important about that place?”

Leyla shot him a malicious look, but it was hidden by her better sense a second after it flashed on her face. Medea noticed, and put a hand to her shoulder.

“You know well why. We’re searching the area to see if the Angel left anything behind, or if there’s just some kind of clue…”

“Clue to what?”

Medea stared at the ground shortly, getting anxious glances by her friends, so she decided to drop that subject. Too much for the kid who did not even know how to fly.

“Nothing. Just something we could use against the Angels.”

Gabryl nodded. That was good enough an answer for him, and he thought he was getting a pretty good idea of how the system worked. These Reapers, and possibly others living at the inn, were not just in hiding. This was some kind of rebellion.

“…This is it.” Leyla announced, close to a whisper. They all scanned the area, though nothing was out of the ordinary. Small shops filled in the little spaces between tall buildings, and one store stood in the middle of it all. The tram from earlier circled around it before taking off towards the other side of the town, and they crossed the now-safe track. All but Gabryl, who was the only one that knew where the murder took place. He looked over, saw where he had hid while watching the Angel appear, and went towards where he had stood in fear. Leyla had a feeling that Gabryl was onto things, and purposely inspected the opposite end of the district, behind that standalone building. Raimyd stuck with Medea, lacking a Keychain, and checked the cracks, riddled with small fissures for things to fall into. Gabryl found something much more interesting than what could be found behind a building or in some crack, though.

He had not noticed it while standing there before, as his focus was more on the supernatural being before him, but the very spot where Lucre had been vaporized was scorched black. It was a splatter mark from the blast, and the more Gabryl looked at it, the more sick he became. He went down on one knee, disgustedly running a finger over the blackness. Upon checking his finger, there was no noticeable residue to be seen. It did, thankfully, take the pressure off of putting one’s hand on human remains. Gabryl did realize however, that it had rained, meaning that anything left would have been washed away. The Angel burned the brick ground.

“Wow…” He was impressed, and terrified at the power. Gabryl hoped, for Lucre’s sake, that the power from the blast made it a painless death. He stroked the ground with two fingers this time. Nothing rubbed off but some mud and water left by the rain. Whatever that power was, it was not just light, as it would take some degree of darkness to leave a permanent, black color. It piqued Gabryl’s interest, thinking that the Angels used an attack whose element was opposite of what it seemed.

Eyes trained to the ground, Gabryl did not see as the sky changed. The thick layer of morning overcast began to subside, letting the sun just peak through over the horizon. Rays traveled between buildings, reflecting off windows, until one stray beam illuminated the drenched stone. Something glinted in the light, something black as the mark present. Gabryl was just about to get up when he saw it, and leant closer to the ground to see. His fingertips explored this section of the smear, and found something laying on top of it. It was cold, metal, but light. Gabryl picked it up, and held it to the sunlight that was kind enough to find him in the first place.

What he had picked up, was a Keychain. It was perfectly black, as black as black could get, and stood out amongst any color. Except for what he had found it on, but color seemed to be some strange exception. The chain links were thick, and just as black as the emblem; a three-pointed crown. Gabryl watched on with awe as he held it by the chain, letting it spin gently by gravity’s doing. It was very pretty.

“…Mine.” He declared simply, under his breath. This Keychain was his, and it would be his own secret. Gabryl had found it, therefore he didn’t have to show it off or turn it in to Ansem. Where did it even come from? He could not ask, though. The they would know, and would try to take it form him. This was his discovery. Gabryl buried it deep in his left pocket, away from the other, and fearing he might take this new one out when giving back his other, very warm one. “I’ll just be careful, and if worst comes to worst, they might let me keep it or something--”

“Gabe!” There was a call behind him. Gabryl had not realized how loud he was talking to himself, and Medea had snuck up on him.
“Gabey, we couldn’t find nothing. Rai’s trying to force us home, so…ew.” She looked, with astonishment and disgust like Gabryl’s, at the mark. “That where it, um, happened?”

Gabryl nodded, and stood back up, brushing water from his knees. He felt as though the miniature crown was protruding out his jeans, alerting all to what he had found. And even if it was, Medea was mostly focused on the ground, walking over.

“What a way to go.” She lamented. Gabryl had to wonder how she knew the fashion in which Lucre was killed, but assumed that she must have known with experience in these matters. It didn’t make a difference anyway. He stared once again into the inkiness of the mark, as if transfixed, and didn’t notice Medea turning to Leyla and Raimyd, who leaned against the nearby bulletin board of public notices and town announcements. He also did not notice the sun falling behind the clouds once more, as the blackness was undisturbed by light. What he did notice a little, was a pair of bright, yellow eyes staring right back at him, from the middle of the mark. Gabryl blinked. They didn’t.

The blackened ground seemed to rise up, becoming a kind of bulge. It quickly increased in size and height, looking like a sphere and then thinning down like a neck. Long, erratic antenna stuck up from the newly formed head, and a pair of shoulders were now completely emerged. Gabryl was now much more concerned of this than when there were only eyes, and he stepped back in shock when a pair of arms with clawed hands were raised threateningly at him. They twitched, like the rest of its body did frequently. A moment later, the creature stood hunched over, head turning from side to side, and stopping on Gabryl. It twitched more, like it was going into a seizure, and bent at the legs. It was preparing to lunge. The head reeled back once as if to warn Gabryl, emitting a deafening, alien screech. A hand went to Gabryl’s ear, and the other was trying to summon his scythe in defense. It was all happening too quickly though, and he closed his eyes, bracing for the attack.

He saw nothing through his eyelids though, and after a couple seconds had passed, figured opening them would be best to tell if he had died or not.

Expecting the monster, Gabryl’s mouth gaped a little when he saw Leyla instead. She was leaning over, both hands gripping the end of her scythe’s shaft. Said hands were shaking. The blade was wedged into the ground, in the middle of the mark, where the creature had emerged. Gabryl had opened his eyes just in time to see a explosion of dark smoke where Leyla had struck. The blade itself was longer than his, and going in a crescent, but was much more crudely shaped. It was jagged, with a rough, zigzag theme to it, which applied to the shorter portion of metal opposite the main blade. That was the gist of what Gabryl saw, before it faded away. Leyla composed herself, checking over Gabryl to make sure he had suffered no attack, and looking back at Raimyd and Medea, who had watched the event in horror.

“Gabryl.” She beamed. “You guys. We’re going. Now.”

They had no qualms obeying, and the group made haste to return to the inn, cutting every corner possible. Leyla kept her hands stuffed in her jacket, hiding their trembling. There other two marched behind her. Gabryl was the only one with an expression of worry, contrary to their straight faces. He had no idea what that thing was, or why it was apparently ready to attack him. It was easy to infer that it was dangerous, and something they all knew how to deal with, otherwise it would not have been sliced in half that fast. Ultimately, these clues gave him nothing. Gabryl sucked in his breath and prepared to give another series of questions that would torment all but his own sense of curiosity. And even that was getting a little meek.

“Guys, what was that…thing?”

As expected, a coldness drew over them. One that spawned from three people thinking how much they hated the new kid and his abundant questions.

“It was a Heartless.” Leyla muttered, turning her head just a little in his direction, as if to show it was she who answered him and yes, without some snide remark or attitude. Before Gabryl could ask more, she cut him off. “We’ll explain when we get back.”

She walked faster, steps increasing in width. The others sped up accordingly. Gabryl huffed, glad that he was at least going to get a little exposition on this mess. They crossed the street earlier than usual, seeing a clear place in the street, so that they could rush to the inn on a straight path. It was efficient. Finally, the inn came in into sight, among a scattering of trees. They could just the roof through the branches, which gave them ease. It was seeing the door that put them off, though, or at least what they could see. A crowd had gathered at the double doors, keeping them forced open and surely letting in a lot of unwanted cold air. The four Reapers slowed down, a block away from the sight. Leyla and Medea looked on with contempt, while Raimyd shared some of the same curiosity as each other. Those standing at the door, most notably those with large black wings, were all Reapers looking for admission before the entire building was occupied.

“Shit.” Spat Leyla, completely prepared to shove away anyone who blocked her path. The others kept their distance, to avoid her rage. “I thought…” She pushed, but to no avail. “I thought we’d get in before the storm. But--” An elbow recoiled and jabbed her shoulder, while a feather obstructed her vision. She backed away, with a very unpleasant snarl plastered on.

“They’re early.”
 

Reverie

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I've read the first chapter so far, and I really like it. I'm going to read the second and third chapter when I have the chance. :]
 

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This is great! I just read the first two chapters, however it is now 1: 42 A.M and i really do need some sleep. i saw a few spelling mistakes/ left out words, moreso in the second chapter, but other than than that you have sculpted a briliant story :)
 

Izayoi

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Good to hear. And yes, 2 was one that more than likely has a couple grammar problems, which is something I tend to pick through later on. It's a bad habit but I have difficulty reading my own work, aheh. such things will be looked into much more in later chapters though, don't get me wrong.
 

Ventus Air-Man

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I really like all the long chapters. That's what every fanfic should have. Good work, again.
 

Izayoi

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Dunno what else to say. Here is what I hope if the long-awaited chapter 4.

IV - Far

The tiny metal point made rough strokes, etching into the wood. Nonsensical shapes and lines were formed. Occasionally it would stop in one place and pivot, driving into the table, digging up little shavings. Gabryl blew them aside and started over. Then he realized that he was probably damaging private property in some way and stopped, figuring he would pass time in a more effective way. Perhaps he would plague the other bored Reapers with inquiries as to what was going on at the moment, as the last half hour flew by with the four of them just sitting at the usual spot. This was after they fought their way through a crowd of anonymous Reapers, who had all thought they were trying to cut in line. This left them a little frazzled, and had Gabryl thinking how much he loathed mob psychology, but that was trivial, and he figured there were more important things to think about.

Why were there all these other people mobbing to get rooms? Was something going to happen soon? What was that Heartless thing that tried to attack him? There was also the Keychain he had found, where did it even come from? He decided that question was better to keep to himself, because Gabryl wanted to keep it as his own. His hand patted the side of his jeans, feeling for the small crown. Just to make sure it had not disappeared, or that it was even real. More pertinent however, was why Raimyd felt it so necessary to whine about how hungry he was.

“Damn it.” One fist clutched his stomach, while the other clenched in pain. “I’m hungry Ley, do I need to stay here or what?”

“Yeah.” She answered, quickly and with authority. “I’d like for us to all tell Ansem what we saw.”

Raimyd was beginning to sweat a little, but Leyla did not care what kind of agony he was facing. She found the current situation to be a critical one, and planned on giving Ansem a full report, having them act accordingly.

“I don’t care. I think my gut’s trying to eat itself.” He spat, trying to move, and faltering. Medea grabbed his arm to hold him steady, which he pulled away in indignation.

“A sandwich or something! I’ll be five minutes. There’s this place right over-”

“No.” Her answers were not at all hesitant.

“Well I’m sorry we can’t all be running on caffeine all day.” Raimyd shot back, as if thinking that insulting a person would in any aspect inspire them to let you do what you wanted.

“Quiet, you two.” Medea said, before Leyla could mutter something increasingly offensive, and motioned towards the desk. “Place is booked up as it is. Won’t take Ansem more than five minutes to come this way.” She glared at Raimyd, and saw his eye twitch. In fact, he almost looked sick, and coming to a realization, Medea rolled her eyes.

“Rai, when’s the last time you killed anyone?”

Gabryl looked up, suddenly distracted by the carvings he had gone back to installing on the beaten table. Listening to these people bicker was nothing compared to paying for a few damages, and he lacked money to begin with. His goal was to make a hole deep enough for the Keychain to stick up in, so he had zoned the talking out to make better progress. The last sentence though, caught his attention. Raimyd seemed to catch himself before speaking, expecting a less rational answer, or name-calling to make up for their earlier tussle.

“…Oh.”

“Mmhmm.” Medea nodded.

Raimyd felt his stomach, noting how the pain seemed to be coming from his muscles, chest, and where his heart would be. He took a step away from his chair, and limped to Gabryl, holding his hand out for the Keychain, and received it with a disappointed pout as Gabryl hung his head back over his unfinished renovation. Raimyd took a deep breath, bracing himself, and took off towards the exit, speaking over his shoulder.

“Yeah.” He shrugged. “Been like, a week.” Raimyd tucked the object into his breast pocket, and gave a kind of embarrassed smirk upon turning his head. It was not an enjoyment of his to be wrong, but now that he knew for sure what the pain was, he wanted it to go away as soon as possible. And if, by chance, a café or something was on the way back from his target, then so be it.

Those remaining reverted to their original silence and irritation of the new, not so silent guests. Gabryl had to ask his latest question, spurred from a conversation that troubled him, and while backlash from Leyla was inevitable, at least Raimyd was not there to double the dirty looks.

“So, hey.” Gabryl winced, feeling like his every word was a hindrance. Medea looked up, lifting her cheek from her shoulder, breaking her concentration. She seemed to have been looking at some of the Reapers at the desk and other tables, as if looking for one in particular.

“We have to kill people even with the Keychains?”

Leyla nodded, staring aimlessly into nothing, and Medea added on.

“Yeah, they just let us have a little more time in between.”

Gabryl recalled Raimyd saying it had been a week since his last kill, which was far more than a “little”. Especially for him. Holding off his murders for more than a day was enough to keep him content, though. His eyes caught a dusty clock hanging near the lobby television, and realized, with fascination, that it had been at least twenty-four hours without getting an impulse. No Angels trying to kill him either. Medea noticed how deep in thought Gabryl was, remembering again how new he was to everything, and in need of so many explanations. She checked to see whether or not Leyla was in the mood to talk. Her bored trance said no.

“Keychains are real important, Gabe.” She added on, eyes darting from her student to the door. As it turned out, there was someone she wanted to keep an eye on, but they had not yet arrived. “They’re what let us stay off the Angels’ grid. One moment without one, and they’ll come right down to take us out.”

He slowly nodded, already knowing these basics through his experiences. This explained what had happened when Leyla first found him; there was no Keychain with her, so she had to find one before that Angel found her, and she was lucky.

“Lot of us have been teaming up with only a few chains. Makes us stick together, in case anything happens. If an Angel does show up, there’s a better chance it could be taken down with more of us.”

“Or just last longer.” Leyla added grimly, still fixated on nothing in particular.

“Yeah, yeah.” Medea’s intention was not to make things seem so hopeless. “But, problem is, every now and then we come to a shortage. That’s why we’re making groups like this in the first place. Eventually, time come’s when we gotta find more.”

“Uh…huh.” Gabryl mumbled, trying to fit in a response to show his interest. Finding more? Did that mean going around, picking up Keychains wherever a Reaper happened to die?

“So, every few years we have a “Raid”. Bunch of Reapers from around Twilight Town, even outside it, come in, and we steal some of the Keychains from the Angel base of operations.”

Gabryl’s blankness suddenly flashed to one of utmost confusion, as, once again, a single sentence completely dumbfounded him. Was that the reason for all the Reapers? Were they all going to fly out to this place, probably risking their lives, to grab a few handfuls of magical pieces of metal? And this would not be any regular place, but where the Angels worked from, or something. That meant they would be there, maybe even waiting to vaporize them on the spot. Disturbing images began to come back to him, but he ignored them enough to phrase his surprise.

“You mean, um, they just fly out or something to find…them?”

Leyla was cursing the incompetence she felt she would need to get used to, and cursing the possibility of never getting used to it. Medea continued speaking, looking straight past Gabryl and to the door, which he found a little rude. She found herself engaged, though, taking out her own Keychain and laying it on the table.

“Mmhmm. Last time it was me, Leyla, and Lucre. ‘Bout five years ago.” She smiled a little, reminiscing, while Leyla scowled at the mention of Lucre’s name. “Left way early in the morning, so no one would get in our way. Had to be stealthy.”

“Why? Didn’t the Keychains just hide you?” That was the first time he had said something so openly in their company. Being so comfortable around others was coming off as quite the comfort, and Gabryl found himself leaning forward a little, just as excited as the woman explaining things.

“Well, see Gabe.” She said, wagging a finger. “The Keychains don’t make us disappear entirely. We just blend in. In crowds, on the streets, anywhere with a bunch of people, they make us safe. Angels could always blow up the whole town to get rid of us, but they won’t kill that many people until it’s their time. Overflow of hearts or somthin’.”

“Oh.” Gabryl said, thinking. Keychains really were not the end-all be-all answer then, they could not do everything for him. He would still need to keep himself hidden, and kill on the weekends. He sighed, and tried not to let the learning session he was enjoying die. “So it would be weird to have some normal people walking around where they live then.”

“Normally, yeah.” Her smile widened a little, and she tilted her head towards Leyla, who slumped lower in her seat. “But another thing about Keychains, is they got powers. Magic” The last words was said with a little exaggeration, but Gabryl was willing to believe it just because of that. Also because he was a supernatural being that killed people for a living.

“We have some kind of secret weapon?” He asked. Medea’s increasing smirk answered this prematurely. Leyla produced her Keychain.

“Yep. This little guy here.” She flicked the shiny circle, making it swing back and forth. Leyla let it do so, and moved her finger a little to make it move faster. She did this very apathetically, as a kind of joke, but no one paid particular attention to this.

“See,” Medea continued, “Ley’s Keychain lets us turn invisible. All out of sight. That way we don’t get seen at all.”

Leyla reeled it in by the chain, and bunching it in her fist. She felt like a pointless visual aid, to which the viewer only noticed what they were holding, or what was displayed on them. Gabryl reinforced this by looking straight at her closed, leather-bound hand, seeing the Keychain in an entirely different light. Imagining what his own Keychain could do, both the one assigned to him and the new black crown, it occurred to him once more that Leyla was extremely lucky to run into him of all people, with such a Keychain. She did not just tackle him to the ground to keep him concealed, but so she could get her hands on the Keychain and access its ability. He had not realized it then, but they must have been invisible, and undetected by the Angel. The frightening consequences filled his mind as well, for if Gabryl never looked down to pick up that chain, or if Leyla never came down that street, at least one of them would be dead. Her in both scenarios.

The very fortunate girl knew what Gabryl was thinking, as he was staring into nothing much like she was before. She bit her lip, and pushed a strand of hair from her forehead.

“And are very, very glad that you of all people were able to retrieve it for us.” Leyla narrated the irony in his position, in a sardonic tone. Medea disapproved, and kicked the leg of her chair.

“But that brings me back to my point.” She said, ignoring a glare. “Cause we got our special Keychain back, we can go on the Raid without worry. Happens tomorrow, too. Would have been the worst time to lose it…”

Something in Gabryl clicked at that last sentence, that childish sense of curiosity that was becoming ever-apparent as he explored this new world.

“Um, would it be too much trouble if…can I go?”

Leyla shook her head before he finished speaking, mouthing a ‘no’ to Medea. Her negativity was ignored once more.

“Erm.” Medea wanted to say something uplifting here, and turned to Leyla, who offered nothing. “Well, Gabey, it’s a far ways off, is all. We tend to have to fly there.”

And, like a child, the light died in Gabryl’s eyes a little. He was so behind on all this Reaper business, and not knowing how to fly seemed to be hurting him the most. Leyla looked as if she was taking joy in his hopes getting crushed, and smiled herself, finally, and tugged at her hair.

“Oh…” He sighed, trying to block out the one putting him down. “But, but what if I learn how? There’s still tonight-”

“Yeah!” Leyla yelled, in a voice that, to anyone who knew her well enough, was very out of character. Gabryl knew enough to understand this as well. “Yeah. Learn to fly in a few hours, and you can tag along tomorrow. Enjoy the ride until you get killed or something. Or hell, maybe when we all die.” She stood, sarcastic expression of joy turning sour, and walked towards the stairs.

Gabryl was put off by her show, and wondered how difficult it was to fly as a Reaper. In logically, something as huge as flying should be fairly difficult, but he had no was to be sure. However, the good humor in him could not help but find it ironic, since the task of staying downstairs had been the reason Raimyd was not allowed to leave at first. Furthering said irony, Raimyd was only a few steps away from the table, dripping blood on the floorboards.

“Hey.” He took a bite of the muffin he had picked up, and narrowed his eyes at the empty chair. “She took off. I knew it. Bitch just tries to get on my nerves sometimes.” Sitting, he laid his right arm on the table, which seemed as if it was dipped in a bucket of red paint, or blood. It splattered, along with some crumbs, onto his lap. Another mouthful of pastry occupied his mouth before he spoke again. “So why’d she go?”

“She lost her temper when Gabryl and I talked about him flying.” Medea explained.

“But I thought he couldn’t fly.”

“That’s what she went on about.”

“And I can’t.” Gabryl added on.

“…Alright.” Raimyd bit off another little bit. “So she’s getting pissy being right about stuff now?”

Gabryl sighed, and pointed to a pair of imaginary wings.

“No, I can’t, but Medea was saying I could learn how to so I could go on the Raid thing tomorrow.” He said this quite openly, which showed a new level of confidence for talking to the guy he was afraid would cover his other arm in his own blood.

“Oh.” Raimyd gave a slightly confused but educated look. It was without the intensity Gabryl expected, but he was glad for that. “Man, what did I miss?”

“You missed.” Proclaimed Medea, to Raimyd, brushing a few muffin crumbs off from her side of the table. “The part where I told Gabryl that you would help him get his wings tonight.”

Both made a double-take, then Gabryl once more, as he was sure he had missed that part too.

“What?” Raimyd asked, with emotion somewhere between anger and annoyance. The remains of his breakfast was smashed in his non-bloody hand.

“Yeah, Rai.” Medea said, standing up. “Leyla won’t do a damn thing, and I gotta meet up with someone from out of town. You’re the only other guy left whose good side he’s on.”

And it was at that moment that Gabryl realized that he really was on good terms with the people who likely wished they had never met him.

“…Besides, he’ll have to fly eventually if he knows what’s good for him. May as well teach him so he can go tomorrow, get some field practice.” She smiled, albeit kindly, to Gabryl. “Hope you two have fun.” Bidding that, she tossed her Keychain to Gabryl. It was a blue, butterfly-shaped thing. She gave it to him in case they were separated while flying around, should Gabryl learn how, or if Raimyd just left him on the streets.

The usual spot was quiet for a few minutes, filled in by sighs and awkward glances. Raimyd rolled his eyes, then rolled his neck, then did both simultaneously. He lifted his arm up and whipped it to his right, letting some blood splatter to the floor. Gabryl watched, hoping that Raimyd would take him out, despite them not being too friendly. The company may not be much, but Gabryl did want to fly; it would give him some feeling of freedom.

“Okay.” He said, slipping his heavy, shoulder padded coat off. “I’m gonna clean off. Meet me down here in an hour, and bring a jacket or something. Gets cold high up.” He stood, slowly, tossing the wrapper from the muffin to the ground. “Of course, that’s wishful thinking in the first place, huh?” Raimyd chuckled to himself, and went for the stairs.

Well, something good had come from that, Gabryl thought. At least Raimyd could try to teach him. Worst case scenario, he will not have to go on some mission that would threaten his survival on his second day of new Reaper life. Maybe there would even be some middle path where he would end up knowing how to fly, but not be experienced enough to venture out. Win-win situation really, so he was content. Just as long as Gabryl did not break anything being thrown off a building in the process.

A Twilight Town evening, moisture hanging in the air after a heavy rain, red glow of the sun spreading out from the horizon, had a surprisingly peaceful atmosphere. Everything, from buildings to people, seemed to take on an orange hue from the radiating dusk, relaxing to the eyes, turning the world into a visual narcotic. Gabryl felt like he could fall asleep standing up, but Raimyd would rather have just been in bed, especially since he would have to wake up earlier than his usual early. The voices of local denizens drowned into the splashing of puddles, and ringing of a distant bell, which became louder as they came nearer. Like a deep, slowly chiming alarm clock.

Raimyd was not a very sentimental person, but it was not as if he could not notice the subtle beauty around him. The Chapel Hearts tower, across the park, stood strong, casting a cold shadow over the plant life. He wanted to make some joke, paralleling religion, in his head, but thought that admiring the sight would be better. Raimyd shivered when an autumn breeze pushed against them, and crossed his arms to defend himself from the chill. He was the only one of the two without the benefit of something warm to wear, and shrugged comfortably under the thick cotton, and brought a finger to the top of the tower, where the clock faced the setting sun without unflinching.

“We’re going up there. Nice and high to practice from.” He smiled at Gabryl’s reaction, which showed concern.

Gabryl just tried to focus on the very pretty scene around them, trying to not think of falling, or dying. Getting evaporated had finally stopped plaguing his conscience for the day, and hoped being killed in any other form would stay away too. He let his train of thought keep flowing, on the topic of the pretty sky and pretty trees. Some were brown and some were orange, preparing to fall off for the winter. Gabryl has always appreciated the twilight aspect of Twilight Town, when the twilight in question did not signify some sun poking through gray clouds. This was a lot nicer to look at, especially with the bell, that finished its eighteenth ring right as Gabryl snapped out of his thoughts to cross the street to the old church. Six, which was fairly early for the sun to be setting, but it was late in the year.

Wait. Time, clock, tower, falling. Gabryl looked up at the building, which seemed a lot more demeaning up close, particularly when staring straight up from the base. Before Gabryl knew it he was watching himself plummet from the top. Crap. He was really wishing that image would go away by the time he was up there.

“Oh.” He said, looking to Raimyd, who also partook in taking in the sheer height of the cathedral.

“Mmhmm…?” Raimyd was enjoying the sight as part of his late afternoon walk. His teacher responsibilities were escaping him, blocked by his trance.

“How are we getting up there?” Gabryl hoped that learning to fly involved him going up, rather than down.

“Right.” Raimyd said, snapping out of whatever had enticed him so much. He remember what time it was, being sundown and by the position of the large clock hands, and figured that since it was a Thursday night, there would be no mass in session. Very calmly, he strode to one side of the clock tower, to an old wooden door on the side. A few steps led up to it, which were discouraged to be climbed in the first place due to a sign hanging over the door. “Do not enter” was written on in commanding letters. Raimyd silently brought his right leg back, and kicked it open. Gabryl jumped back from the smooth movement that ended with such a bang.

“There, no one should have heard that. Won’t need this on the way down anyway, or at least we shouldn’t.” He eyed his companion upon saying his last word, pushed the door a ajar, and beckoned Gabryl in. They climbed the dimly let tower interior, which lacked the bright bricks or vibrant colors created from the sun. If anything, the air around the two completely changed once they stepped through the doorway; warm and thick, with the feeling as if they were being haunted. Anyone who regularly visited the Chapel Hearts and was a devout believer would probably say that it was whispering from the hearts that still flittered about the building. Gabryl and Raimyd knew better than to believe such things, though, as they saw hearts going out on their own quite often, not needing to stop off at any church. The steps creaked mournfully, cobwebs hung, catching bits of moisture, and were swatted out of the way for their trip up. Deep grinding clanks from the large, ancient gears that moved the clock hands echoed, becoming louder and louder, until the mechanisms loomed dangerously close to their bodies, threatening to tear a limb off. Soon they reached the door, which would lead off onto an edge on the side of the very top of the tower. Peaceful, with quite a view. They walked on this bordering edge until they came across a corner and stood in front of the enormous face itself.

The park outside Chapel Hearts was even more beautiful seen several stories up than it is from the ground, and Gabryl took the opportunity to take it all in. Light reflecting off of leaves and wet grass, wind lightly tussling them, as well as his own hair. The sun was half concealed by the gently sloping, green hills miles away, making the horizon in the opposite direction begin to darken. There was the distinct arc of a rainbow, visible between two taller buildings, in the main part of town. Gabryl then looked downward, thinking the ground would be just as interesting if not more, only to learn that it was very far down. Nauseatingly far down.

“Well?” Raimyd chirped. “Just a matter of…jumping off. If you can fly, and I’m sure you can, then you’ll do it.”

Gabryl turned, raising an eyebrow and making a face the displayed how insane he thought this man was.

“Just, jump?” He checked the ground again. It was not any closer.

“Uh-huh.” Raimyd said. One of his feet moved out, over the ledge. “Real simple. Like this.” The other foot followed, and he walked straight off the tower. And it was the moment that he lost contact with the stone ledge, and the moment that Gabryl thought he was even more crazy, that a pair of black feathered wings emerged from his back. They seemed to come right out of his back, melting out of his coat, while still materializing on the spot. Raimyd had fallen not an inch before he came to a sudden, gravity-defying stop. It was as if he stood on some unseen surface. Gabryl wondered if flying was as easy as joining him on that surface. No.

“Look, I…I’ve never done anything like this before. I don’t think this is the way to start.”

Raimyd narrowed his eyes, looking him over, crossing his arms and giving his wings a flap. They were thinner than Leyla’s, but seemed to be rounder, fluffier even, but the feathers were overall the same, and just as black.

“Gabe, I think that you may be making this more complicated than it really is.”

Ignoring the nickname he had gained, and called many times, as of late, Gabryl did not see how he could simplify things more. Jumping of a building and hoping some wings popped out; what else was there?

“Well sorry, but it’s not like I’ve ever shown any signs of being able to do this.”

Raimyd sighed, and drifted to his left, floating in front of Gabryl. His head tilted, causing his body to lose its balance and tip backwards a little. He corrected this and spoke again.

“How long’ve you been dead?” Raimyd asked, rolling his eyes back in thought.

“…Two years, about.”

“Oh, good. That’s when I started flying. Found out about it when some serial killer pushed me off a bridge. But that’s beside the point.”

Gabryl was under the impression that he had made that up to inspire him.

“Happened completely by accident, and the body did it out of impulse. Like a Reaper failsafe. That’s pretty much how we all work. Don’t worry about it.”

“But…” Gabryl, as much as he wanted to fly, wanted more to not break his neck. “But what if it doesn’t work? How come I’ve never grown wings when I really needed them on the ground? What--”

“Hey.” He interrupted. “Over-complicating things. You don’t always fly by choice, sometimes it just happens. It is installed into us, and there’s no avoiding that. You’re treating it like it’s some right of way for Reapers. Pfft.” There was a taunting smirk. “Just do it. Come on.”

Gabryl was still apprehensive, which was beginning to make Raimyd a little irritated. So, to speed this needlessly anxious guy up, he did something very logically, that did not involve wasting more time trying to give him confidence. One arm, his right, slowly unfolded from his chest and gripped onto Gabryl’s collar. It was a calm movement, but a shocking one to Gabryl, who was too surprised to react. Raimyd tugged, pulling Gabryl forward and making him fall head-first over the ledge. His hand let go once Gabryl fell past his waist, and he watched, bored, as he fell. Yes, he had done something which would cause many to believe him mean, or lacking confidence in Gabryl, or a murderer, but he knew it would work. And if it did not, oh well. He was a little annoying anyway.

To his respect, he did not exactly push him off.

Which was what Gabryl thought as he was falling, thinking that that thought would be his last, and wishing it was not something partially kind to who may have just ended his afterlife. He yelled something scornful upwards as his feet left the floor, and decided he would stay silent the way down. There was really no one to hear him anyway. Twilight Town did not lose its beauty upside-down though, and Gabryl thought that he would enjoy the view while it was in that position, or while he could still see. That is, while his eyes were still in his skull. That is to say, while he was not a splatter of blood and bones. Eventually Gabryl realized that he had been looking at the distorted world for nearly five minutes and since he knew that he was not that high up, there must be something stopping him from falling.

Averting his view from the skyline, Gabryl looked down, or, up. His head fought the pull of the planet to see Raimyd still suspended in the air, looking back down. Gabryl was hanging as well, albeit awkwardly by comparison, staring up at him between his legs, which were forced up to his head. Or, as Gabryl thought, comprehending what he thought was impossible, down. He saw something poking out of his pocket, something shiny glinting in the setting sun, and pushed in his secret Keychain before anyone noticed. There had been a strong lurch that almost made it fall out, when his wings erupted from his back for the first time.

So, he thought, he had flown. No, he was flying. Now. Gabryl tried to push himself, tumbling in the air, so that he was upright. It was a strange sensation, like swimming, only surrounded by a lighter substance. His legs and arms felt like dead weight, as it was his torso that was primarily being lifted. Gabryl turned, and saw his own black feathers extending out of his back. As he saw the large, new limbs, he could simultaneously feel them, what nerves flowed through them, suddenly connecting with the rest of his body. These new features, as the moments passed, felt as if they were as natural as his lips. Soon it was as if they had always been there, and a sense of weightlessness set itself into Gabryl. His wings were one with him, and gave his whole body a feeling of freedom that Gabryl could never have imagined.

He floated, which he now discovered was as easy as willing it and shifting his wings, up towards Raimyd. He seemed bored, and impatient as Gabryl made himself used to his new ability. Unexpectedly, he was slapped right in the back of the head. Then Gabryl glided away.

“That’s for pulling me off a damn building!” He shouted, smiling, and let a soft gust carry his body to the low clouds. It was colder, and wetter, but he did not care. This was exactly the kind of freedom he dreamed of, and wanted to feel and savor. To move down, over the treetops, casting an invisible shadow on the people below, only took the smallest flap of his wings and slightest change in their angle. He experimented with how fast he could go, and stopped himself before crashing into an office building. The sleek, unused feathers provided a large amount of wind resistance, so he could cease movement at a second’s notice. This also let him see his reflection in the glassy mirror of a window, other than his proud, arcing wings. It was his usual, unkempt self, but there was something different, and not just his hair, blown to the side by the wind. On his face, under his nose, was what resembled a genuine smile.

He let it widen a little more, and let his weight shift backwards, falling, except this time he willed himself to. The flipped Twilight Town was still just as pretty, getting dark, and the sky dilating purple. Gabryl spotted the tram zipping by on its flat tracks, snaking through the town common, where that Heartless had attacked him that morning. He flew down, making himself parallel to the top of the train, and let the hum and roar of the wheels and engine vibrate up to his stomach. It was one of the more relaxing feelings that he ever had in that area. Gabryl, stretching his neck, then brought his knees up, letting his feet make contact with the train, and unsteadily stood up, as if gravity was going to make sure that he would never be off the ground that long again and would make sure of it personally. He yawned, exhausted, and looked around, letting a thumb hook into his belt. A moment later his chest hit the train.

“Idiot!” Raimyd yelled. He had dived straight at Gabryl, kicking him down, and pinning him to the roof. Raimyd’s shoe was firmly planted between his shoulder blades.

“What?!” Gabryl growled, trying to roll from under him. “What did I do?” His wings, light as they were while flying, threw him off in such a position. Raimyd grabbed onto a handful of feathers to stop him from twisting, and glared.

“Stupid!” And Raimyd repeated a number of similar words, all a variation on Gabryl being the most unintelligent person in the world. “Christ! You can’t just go on your own like when I have the Keychain!” His fingers pulled harder, prompting a yelp from Gabryl. “I can’t believe you aren’t dead right now.” He finally let go, after yanking him to his knees by his wing, and Gabryl scowled, adjusting his new features.

“What are you talking about? I--”

“I have it! Remember? I went out before?” Raimyd produced their shared Keychain, clear as day. Little pointy spokes twirling around as he held it by the very end of the chain.

Gabryl felt the barely visible bulge on his thigh, where his secret hid. Shit, he thought, no one knew about it. To Raimyd, it looked like he just went out to let himself die. Growing paranoid, Gabryl scratched his head, averting eye contact.

“I, um…” He could not see Raimyd’s eyes, but knew they were hot on him. “I forgot! I forgot giving it to you and getting it and, er, yeah.”

“Idiot. And you want to go to where the Angels live. It‘s like you‘re just serving yourself on a platter to them.”

Gabryl winced. Admittedly, that is what he had been.

“I won’t do it again.” The tone in his voice had signs of that admittance, which was enough for Raimyd. Still angry, he turned, blonde hair blowing away and chilling his ear. Gabryl noticed how his roots were much lighter, but Raimyd turned again, this time lowering himself and sitting, crossing his legs.

This newbie, he could not help but pine over, was just so stupid. Leyla was right. At first it seemed like she was just exaggerating, as she often does, and was taking out her anger on him. It definitely was not the fairest thing she had ever done, and he felt bad for the guy. Sure, he would be hazing him a little, being a jerk, making sure that he was not too soft, but that would be the climax of his actions. However, he was still being dumb, flying away like that. Raimyd really was surprised an Angel had not come down and stabbed him in the chest. Was he really that lucky? Last thing this kid needed to be was some crazy prodigy. Leyla would just get pissed off more. That was bad for everyone. A small part of him was worried for her feelings, though, false as they were, since they were Reapers. Was what he was feeling some kind of fake-caring?

Isolated, he sat down on the train, coughing to break the silence. Gabryl tried to fold his wings around his shoulders, seeing if he could shield himself from the cool wind from the speed of which he was moving. It helped some, and he watched the sky change to a full, inky darkness. A couple stars stood out among the light from the town, pouring upwards. The moon was also prominent, about three-quarters full. Gabryl watched it as well, staring without blinking until he could see the craters and shadows.

Raimyd knew a little about psychology; he was working towards majoring in it before he died. Therefore, he knew how perfect the situation was, for things to go badly for Leyla. Gabryl was replacing Lucre, in her view and theirs, and maybe they were all having high expectations for him. Impossible ones, for someone so inexperienced. It took years for this guy to even meet up with another Reaper, let alone fly. They should not be building him up as a replacement, like Leyla might be doing. Raimyd sighed. Loudly.

“Hey.” He said, slurring words out of his tired sigh.

Gabryl looked down, at his billowing hair, and was not even sure if he had really said anything. He thought it might be his mind playing tricks on him, hopeful that relations would improve.

“Yeah…?” Speaking, he realized, cemented that something would come from this.

“I shouldn’t have been so upset. You’re new.”

And that was the closest Raimyd would ever come to an apology for the way he acted that day. It was hardly much, but the fact that he had acknowledged his mistake, meant more than Gabryl would ever know. Raimyd sighed again, and drummed his fingers on his knee, and watched the road and buildings that the train passed up. He had another idea, one that required less of him verbally admitting his defeat, and that he could enjoy.

“Gabryl, we’re getting off just ahead, c’mon.” His wings flapped, and Raimyd leapt off the train, to the sidewalk. Gabryl followed, stumbling when he landed, his head spinning due to the transition from land to air to land again. Raimyd could not help but smile a little when he saw the scene, and took hold of Gabryl’s shoulder, leading him in the right direction.

“Where’re we going?”

“Clock tower.”

“Why don’t-” Gabryl tripped over one of his feet, still bemused from his short jump. “…Why don’t we just fly there?”

“Other than making sure you don’t vomit onto some people from fifty feet up, we have a stop to make.”

“Oh.”

He threw up.

Gabryl was glad that Raimyd made them stop at that ice cream store first. It was where they sold what Twilight Town was famous for; sea salt ice cream bars. Pleasantly colored, with contrasting flavors, almost anyone could find it delicious. Raimyd was no exception, and he lapped and bit at his like the night before, not letting a single drop fall off. If one did, it was on his hand. Gabryl was timid to trying it, but after a few initial licks, he enjoyed the sweet taste.

“How do you like it?” Raimyd asked, chewing on the top of the stick, which he had managed to eat down to.

“It’s…” Gabryl licked again. “It’s alright. Gets rid of the bitter taste in my mouth.

Raimyd laughed, something which flattered Gabryl.

“That’s deep.”

“I meant from vomiting.”

“…Right.” Raimyd tried to shake the image in his head of someone spitting out bile and whatever remained in their stomach after not eating in so long. Gabryl was just glad he had something to replace whatever he gagged up, but the cold substance also felt nice on his burned throat. Damn he was hungry. Before he knew it he was going at his ice cream quite ravenously, and both of them held damp, flat sticks.

“Love these things.” Raimyd said, staring to the blot of orange still left behind the trees. Gabryl noticed that he was deep in some thought, probably thinking about whatever had been so interesting when he would not talk to him on the train for half an hour. Whatever that was, though, maybe something good or bad about him, Gabryl could not help but feel a little happy. This guy, Raimyd, had lashed out at him, made him feel like an outcast, almost killed him, then attacked him, but had made this miraculous change. It made him feel a little happy. Or, as happy or however happy as he could feel. Feel being a loose term of course. Thinking about life as a Reaper was getting to be very depressing, so Gabryl decided it would be more fun to pretend he was alive, and just be truly happy, and enjoy the closing of such a beautiful sunset.

Raimyd, still contemplating on how nice he should be, thought he would be blunt.

“Guess we should go.”

The sun was concealed behind the skyline, and night was taking over. The sunset was really the only reason they had been sitting back on the clock tower in the first place, so the lack of it was a fine reason to leave.

“Think I can go then, tomorrow?” Gabryl asked, a little excited. He brought this up when they were half way to the inn, watching the lights from buildings and suddenly appearing stars illuminate the dusk.

“I don’t know how crazy Leyla will be about it.” Mumbled Raimyd, recollecting on her volatile attitude. “But the others should be on your side. I think you’ll be fine.”

Gabryl smiled to himself, rotating, and flying on his back, gazing at the sky from below. It was so vast, and those little flickering stars were so far away, yet their brightness managed to make it here. Gabryl had gone far too. He had traveled from an isolated, depressing life to one with people who understood what he had gone through. He walked the long walk to his new home, full of anticipation. He fell what seemed like quite a long way before his wings saved him. And with this breathtaking view of the town, roads like rivers of swarming lights, people like ants, time felt like it slowed, making the trip back seem much farther than it really was. He would be going on an even farther trip the next day.

“Just don’t die on is.” Raimyd mentioned, letting his arms hang down. “Would be kind of a waste of an evening.”

That, Gabryl was not sure whether or not was meant to dwindle his confidence.
 
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