Olivia was the first one up. Her backhand rubbed her face as she dragged herself into the living room. Purple coloring collected underneath her eyes showing she had trouble sleeping last night. It wasn’t a surprise. Yesterday’s news had left the siblings mentally and emotionally exhausted.
Yawning, Olivia pulled herself into the nearest seat. Her arms folded to create a pillow while she laid her head down.
Several times during the night, she had been awoken by Emmett’s endless tossing and turning. They both wanted to be together to comfort each other, but honestly, there was none to be found.
Already sitting in one of the comfy chairs, Mairyell watched Olivia emerge and situate herself. “Morning. I see you couldn’t sleep well,"
he said, drinking something faintly red from a glass from time to time. It wasn’t blood. It was more like...vis wine. Not that she would know.“Anything I can get you? A blanket, a pillow? Uh...huge stuffed animal?"
His eyes were glowing a faint blue for once. The Brisn in the room, which he’d been exerting for awhile for practice, would slowly sooth her nerves some. It was subtle though. Nothing mind numbing, as it were. The pain would remain, but she might feel slightly less burdened by the sorrow deep in her gut.
Little comforts, he thought. That was the key. Well, that, support, and plenty of time.
As Mai prodded the girl, faint amounts of steam could be seen drifting from the top of the stairs. “Mai, have you seen my-”
Aeris, in nothing but one of Mai’s overly large shirts and a toothbrush hanging out of her mouth, walked down to the bottom of the stairs, then stopped. Though the children wouldn’t know that it was Mai’s, she still felt uncomfortable. “Nevermind.”
The word was blurted out of her mouth as she zipped back up the stairs, more quickly than was likely necessary.
Olivia was too tired to notice Aeris’ discomfort. Her head lifted enough to acknowledge the woman’s retreat and then flop back down. The whole time trying not to fall completely asleep again. It took longer than usual to finally registered that Mairyell had spoken to her. “Yeah… make Emmett stop tossing and turning. He was up all night.”
Her arm reached for a small pillow decorating the couch and stuffed it under her head. Eyelids closed for a moment’s rest while she kept speaking. “I don’t know what to do. I’ve tried not to worry, but…”
Her words trailed off indicating an unknown future scared her. “I understand,"
he replied, and meant it. Rising from his seat he finished his drink and then set the glass down. As he walked past her he ruffled her hair lightly and then headed for the stairs, cracking a small grin at the thought of Aeris in his shirt.
After a moment he arrived at the room that they’d arranged for Emmett and Olivia. He passed it, sniffing out his sister and heading in her direction. She was better with making people feel better, plus her control of Brisn was superior to his own. Entering the bathroom, he didn’t even bother to knock. He shut the door behind him
As he entered, he would see Aeris’ back as she stepped into the shower, “Did you need something? Or were you coming to ask what I was looking for?”
Aeris questioned him, running her hair under the water.“Yes,"
he replied, admiring her before she disappeared behind the curtain, entirely unashamed. “Provided Emmett is still asleep when you’re done, would you mind soothing him with some of that motherly magic of yours. Whether literal magic or not doesn’t really matter to me."“Sure.”
She responded, her voice remaining at normal volume. It wasn’t as though either of them would struggle to hear over the water. “But, what am I supposed to do about… well, me. I don’t want to scare them, but I also probably shouldn’t keep hiding it from them.”“I honestly think you’re a bit too worried about it,"
he said, sounding quite relaxed. “They know what I am. I’ve shown them, I’ve explained. They might give you weird looks here and there, but it’s not a big deal."“Maybe...”
The woman trailed off for a moment as she shampooed her hair, and then rinsed it. “By the way, have you seen my hand mirror that I got from Torqueo? I haven’t seen it since last night.”“Nope, haven’t seen it,"
he replied.“Mm. Alright.”
She responded, her attention returning to what she was doing. On any other occasion she might have invited him to join her, but with two young children in the house, she felt it best not to push her luck. After all, her bedroom was the only room in the house that was completely soundproof.“Yup. Enjoy the shower,"
he said, and then left her to it, though he didn’t really want to. Almost lazily, he made his way back downstairs and then into the kitchen, where he decided to put on some waffles
. He’d always loved waffles
Olivia stirred at the scent wafting from the waffles. Her stomach growled and rumbled at being empty, preventing her from resting more. Deciding she couldn’t ignore it any longer, the girl struggled to sit upright. “Mai, what are you making? And can I have some?”
She stretched her arms over her head. The burn of the muscles helped her to feel more awake, but she could still use more sleep.
As the scent of waffles wafted through the air, Aeris stepped out of the bathroom, to a veritable wave of steam pouring out behind her. It only took her a few moments to get dressed, but even before she’d started that, Brisn was filling the entirety of the house, slowly seeping into every crevice it could find, including the room Emmett was currently sleeping in.
Enjoying the sensation of his sister wrapp--his sister’s vis
wrapped around him, Mairyell glanced back at Olivia as he opened the fridge. “Of course Olivia,"
she wouldn’t be able to tell, but there was a slight strain in his tone, as if he hated the idea of parting with the waffles
he was making.
After a few minutes the waffles
were finished and he laid them on one plate, then put two on another. There were various condiments and such on the counter, within reach, “Enjoy."
He sat down and started in on his own. When he took the first bite a small smile lit up his face. He sighed once he’d chewed up and swallowed the buttery, syrup laden goodness. He closed his eyes a moment, remembering times from his youth. When their mother had still been alive. She hadn’t really enjoyed waffles herself, but when she could move properly, she’d made them for him. He remembered it very clearly.
It was perhaps why he loved them so much. In fact, it had taken him years
to figure out how his mom had made them. Hers hadn’t been normal. When he’d finally figured it out it had been like...like a slice of heaven.
As the two ate their waffles, Aeris made her way down the stairs. Inhaling deeply, she smiled and sat down next to Mai. “Did you save me any?”
He nodded to the plate, food in his mouth again.
With a small chuckle, she grabbed them. After a healthy spray of whipped cream, chocolate chips, and syrup, she dug in. A groan of pleasure left her lips as she ate. Damn, she loved the waffles Mai made. She knew that the recipe was originally their mother’s, but she had been too young to eat them before the woman died.“Thanks, Mai. Dad often made the waffles. He would put a bit of fresh cinnamon into them. He said it added a bit of extra flavor.”
Her voice tried to keep steady as she spoke.
The pain was still there. No matter how hard she tried to ignore it, thoughts and memories surrounded her. Inflaming the hurt. Would it ever stop and was this how Emmett felt too? She wondered. Her brother hadn’t bothered to talk to her since their conversation.
Olivia reached for the syrup, butter, and strawberries. She plopped on the butter, letting it melt before she added strawberries and syrup. Her fork dug in without further delay.
As she chewed and swallowed, she looked to Aeris who had just arrived for breakfast. “What are we doing today?”
She considered bringing Emmett something later.
Aeris, having absentmindedly laid her head on Mai’s shoulder whilst thinking about their mother, looked up. “Well, what would you like to do?”
She asked, clearly lost in thought. “I haven’t really thought about it. Not since we found out about mom and dad. I’ve never actually seen Emmett act that way until now.”
Olivia stabbed her food some, and forced herself to eat more. She couldn’t ignore her stomach even if she wasn’t in the mood to eat. It wouldn’t make things better. “I guess I would feel better if I knew what was going to happen. I don’t know where we’re going to end up.”
Her waffles were half eaten as she glanced back to the direction she came from this morning. She hoped to see Emmett trailing in, but it was just empty space.
After a moment of thought, Aeris got up and picked up her cell. She spent an hour on the phone, trying to locate any family members they might have had, to no avail. She had spoken quietly enough that Olivia wouldn’t have heard any of the conversation, thankfully. With a defeated sigh, she looked to her brother, and then over to the girl. “Could you go check on Emmett, Olivia? I’d really appreciate it.”
Aeris’ voice was gentle, as though it were a simple suggestion.
Olivia nodded, then slid off the seat onto the floor. She had eaten as much as she could, but there was still at least one waffle left. The girl slowly vanished from the room. Part of her was relieved. Now she could distract herself and possibly help Emmett at the same time.
Finishing his food, Mairyell wiped his mouth with some paper towel and then glanced at his sister, raising his eyebrows as if in question, “Mmm?"“They don’t have anywhere they can go once they leave here. Except for foster care.”
Aeris responded, with a sigh. She didn’t know what foster care was like, but she’d never heard particularly good things about it.
The corner of Mairyell’s mouth turned down faintly. “Well...that’s not ideal,"
he said with a sigh. Running his fingers back through his hair he nodded, apparently not particularly surprised by the news. He met Aeris’ eyes, “What are you thinking?"
Aeris frowned, and walked over to him. She pressed her forehead against his as she gathered her thoughts. “I honestly don’t know.”
He wrapped an arm around her in response, closing his eyes, thinking. There was an option, but...he didn’t really know how viable it was. They both worked a fair deal, his job was dangerous, hers tiring. They certainly had enough money, but….
He opened his eyes, gazing into hers. “We could take custody…?"
He sounded, well, unsure.
As Mairyell voiced his thought, Aeris’ mind raced. Could they? Would the children even want that? Would they be happier somewhere else? Outside of Ominar? What about their father? Had he prepared something for them? After a moment of silence, Aeris spoke. “...You know… knew, Raiden. What would he want?”
Mairyell didn’t even hesitate as he replied, “He would want his children safe and cared for. Loved. Understood, and he’d want them to be able to defend themselves one day. I think. Raiden was hard to read sometimes."
Aeris nodded. “They’d be no safer than being with us. Maybe we should ask them, though...”
Aeris trailed off awkwardly.“Maybe. Though, give it a few days, tell them we’ll make sure they’re taken care of wherever they end up. Might be better to...let them adjust to here, see if they are, well, as comfortable as they can given what they’re going through. If things look good...proceed?"
He frowned a bit and gently separated from her to get out of his chair.
Aeris nodded at his words. When he stood up, she immediately hugged him, her face firmly buried in his chest. Wrapping his arms around her, he squeezed, holding her there for the few moments that they had alone.
Damn, he didn’t want to give this up, but those kids deserved so much better than a foster home.Damn
Olivia frowned, noting Emmett was still asleep. He barely reacted to her touch beyond just rolling over and curling into a ball. She was worried something was seriously wrong with him. He rarely acted like this unless he wasn’t feeling well.
She thought back to yesterday, noting the queasiness and sluggish movements. Biting her thumb in thought, Olivia’s eyes noted the embrace Mai and Aeris were in. “Aeris… Mai?”
She wasn’t sure how to ask because she had never hugged her brother quite that close. In fact, she never hugged him. The only people she ever really seen hug like that were her parents and that was because they loved each other.
Looking up at Olivia, Mairyell intoned a questioning “Hmm?"
Aeris glanced at the girl from the corner of her eye, her arms still wrapped around Mai. She was able to see the worried look on her face. “What’s wrong?” “I think Emmett’s sick. He just rolled over and curled into a ball. He’s only done that when he’s not feeling well.”
Olivia answered, shaking her thoughts away. “I don’t know what to do. Mom usually handles-,”
she paused to correct herself, “...handled this stuff.”
Aeris nodded, and withdrew from Mai’s embrace reluctantly. With purpose, she walked silently up the stairs to the room she knew Emmett was in. Calmly, she opened the door, and moved over to the bed. She sat down on its edge, and placed her hand on his forehead. The brisn that had been filling the room exploded into view, setting the room in a bright blue light. Aeris’ eyes widened in surprise before calling out, “Mai! Get up here!”
Emmett flinched from the light and bunched into a tighter ball. His back was turned to Aeris, facing the wall where Olivia left him. A dampness was on his skin causing the sheets to stick to it.
Upon feeling Aeris’ hand touch his forehead, he turned his head to see who it was. His skin was white. He didn’t say anything but lowered his head back to the pillow and tried to stay awake.
Hearing Aeris Mairyell crouched and then pushed off the floor of the house, becoming a blur as he dashed from the kitchen, then up the stairs in a single leap, leaving him sliding in front of the door. He clearly had no qualms with showing his nature around the kids, besides who knows what was going on. Of course, the moment that he neared the room he knew
he said, swearing under his breath and rushing to Emmett’s bed. He kept his eyes on the boy, but spoke to Aeris.“It’s a damned shard isn’t it,”
he growled, putting a hand on Emmett’s back, making it so he couldn’t turn towards them more. “Don’t move, it’ll make this harder,"
he said, before closing his eyes.“S’what it feels like. It’s already rooted. I can’t dislodge it with Brisn.”
Aeris spoke quickly, her hand still resting on Emmett’s forehead. “I should have checked them over when I brought them here. God dammit.”
Aeris cursed at her lack of foresight. Of course it had marked him.
Olivia, naturally, had followed Mai up the stairs when she heard Aeris shout. Being human sucked because she was much slower than the blur that vanished up the stairs. Not deterred by this fact, she quickly ran to the room.
She reached the door to overhear some of Mairyell and Aeris’ conversation. Their looks told her all she needed to know. Something was wrong with Emmett and it wasn’t just being sick.
Olivia’s heart sank as she lingered by the door, watching the scene. She didn’t know what to do exactly or how she could help. “Aeris, what’s wrong with my brother?” “Ugh, sloppy work on my part too,"
he said, swearing in some foreign language under his breath. A moment after he took a deep breath, lowering the acidity of his blood till it was essentially zero. A blue aura of Brisn began pulsing from him as he focused it through his bloodstream, causing his veins to glow faintly. With a fingernail briefly sharpened, he lightly poked Emmett. It would feel like feel like a pinprick, but it drew blood.
Pressing his palm to the minuscule opening, the Hunter attempted to press a needle thin tendril of his own Blue Blood into Emmett’s body. He was rewarded for his efforts by a sudden flash of everyone in the room, bleeding black from their eyes, bodies torn into pieces.“Agh,"
he exclaimed, pulling back. “Clever bitch warded it with illusions. It’s already conscious enough to use them. No wonder we didn’t sense it."
He began pacing, trying to think of something he might be able to do to extract the shard.
He was drawing a blank.
Aeris’ eyes were bright, almost white, blue as she stared down at Emmett. The Brisn that filled the room pulsed with her fury, including the brisn inside the boy’s body. In a tongue that even Mai didn’t know, she cursed several times over, before feeling another presence in the room with them. Her head turned to look at Olivia, her eyes still glowing brightly. “We’ll explain it to you soon. I promise, but I need you to wait downstairs.”
The girl wouldn’t have noticed, but her body also had brisn inside it, and with it, Aeris was searching her for shards as well. Thankfully, she found none.“I’ll go with her. Call me if you need me. There’s nothing I can do here,"
he did not sound pleased to say it, but did as he’d said he would.
Walking to the doorway he put a hand on Olivia’s back and gently pressed her away from the door and towards the stairs. Letting her lead once she’d started moving.
He felt like shit. Angry, frustrated. He wouldn’t die, he knew Aeris wouldn’t let him, she wouldn’t allow his being to be devoured by that fledgling shade and turned into mere feed till it matured. She’d said she couldn’t pry it away, too entangled with his anima already, presumably, but she could likely stop it from maturing. She might be able to kill its mind where she couldn’t destroy its corruptive influence.
He took in a deep breath, attempting to calm himself, before he addressed Olivia while they headed back downstairs. “Your brother will be alright. Aeris will make sure of that, just...he might be a little different when she’s done. Not in a bad way though..."
it was hard to explain really. There was a chance that his body would kill and cycle out the licenti vis once Aeris dealt with it, but it was a long shot. Much more likely was that Emmett would become a hybrid...just like them.
Pain drowned Emmett, his body weak and unable to move. Even when he wished it would. Instead, he felt like lead settled in his veins and weighed him into place. When Mai pricked him, Emmett felt a strangled cry escape from the back of his throat. He became ridged from the sensation as it seemed to increase slightly with the probing.
He bit into the pillow to distract him from the pain.
The scene felt surreal and dream-like, his mind darted between focus and sleep. Though he wanted to move, Emmett just laid there. “I don’t… feel so... good.”
His voice was very weak, and quiet.
Olivia didn’t like the sound of it. She froze in place as she watched the scene unravel. Until Mai’s hand touched her back and gently guided her away from the nightmare. She started to move automatically until they reached the bottom. The whole time her hands gripped each other, wringing each other for comfort.
When Mai spoke, a breath of relief escaped her lips. Her shoulders slacked at the news before her eyes tightened. “Different? I don’t understand. Isn’t he just sick?”
Aeris inhaled deeply, focusing. “Emmett. Bite your pillow. This is going to hurt a lot.”
Her voice was stern, determined. Once he did as she’d asked, a searing pain would ripple through his body as her brisn worked its way around the shard that was now embedded in his Anima. Carefully, and likely excruciatingly slowly for the boy, she worked her brisn into the shard. An onslaught of illusions assaulted her mind, but she forced herself to press on through them. Once again cursing in that unknown dialect. There was nothing this shade could’ve shown her that would be worse than the darkest part of her life, and it would not take this boy’s. As she forced her brisn to permeate the conscious shard the illusions lessened, though Emmett’s pain likely increased.
Minutes ticked by like hours. The whole process probably took around two hours, but by the time she was done, the consciousness of the shard was dead. Now, it was up to Emmett’s body to do what it willed with what remained.
Emmett did as he was told. Though it wasn’t easy. Weakness spread inside him and drained his energy, making even the smallest actions a chore. When the pain poured into his small body, Emmett jerked. He screamed into the surface of his pillow even while Aeris worked.
Eventually, he lost track of time. The pain was like nothing he had ever felt before. Difficult to describe and impossible to forget. To his credit, he never pleaded for her to stop.
Deep inside he knew she was trying to save him. From what, he didn’t understand or know.
When the two hours ended. Emmett slipped into unconsciousness. His body stilled, but his breathing was steady and strong.
Once the boy fell into unconsciousness, Aeris pulled back from him, and drew her brisn back into herself. Before she left, she covered him with a blanket. Shutting the door behind her, she made her way downstairs, and collapsed onto the couch Mai was sitting on, her head resting on his lap. She was clearly tired, but responsive.
Watching her enter and seeing no disappointment or worry in her body language or on her face, he felt a relief pass through him like a gentle breeze. He’d heard the boy screaming, and while he’d expected it--having heard similar before--it was a bit more disturbing coming from a child. He was glad that he could only hear it due to his enhanced senses. Olivia was spared from it that way.
As Aeris laid her head on his lap he stroked her hair gently, channeling brisn through her from his touch, revitalizing and soothing her body. It’d surely help her relax physically as well as energetically, as it allowed her ostium to properly shift back into its normal state: mostly closed. He glanced over at the sleeping Olivia, then asked the all important question, “He’ll be alright, yeah?"“Yes. Though, based on how strong that shard was already, I don’t think he’ll come out of it Human.”
Aeris spoke, her eyes closed, and voice raspy. She let his brisn fill her, and relaxed into its familiar warmth. It was all she could do to not fall asleep.
He let out a breath of relief and laid back, fingers in her hair, stroking it gently. “Well, there are worse things,"
he said in reply. He laughed a bit and shook his head, eyes closed, “Of course, this kind of means we need to take them in, doesn’t it?"
He sounded both faintly amused and resigned to the idea.
Aeris’ only response was a nod.
Olivia stirred. She lifted from the couch where she had passed out, her palm rubbing the grit from her eyes. It took her a moment to notice Aeris. Her eyes widened in realization as she jerked upright. “Is Emmett alright?”
It was a fight not to immediately rush back up the stairs and check for herself. “Yes, he’s..."
Mairyell paused, tilting his head slightly, angling his ear towards the stairway, “...sleeping. I can hear him from here. Can she go check on him or do you think we should leave him be for now?"“Let him sleep.”
Aeris responded, without opening her eyes. There was a dull pulsing in her body that alerted her to something that made her nudge Mai’s leg. “Could you get me something to drink.”
She asked, moving off of him very, very slowly.“Sure,"
he said, rising. A minute latter he came back with something akin to what he’d been drinking several hours earlier, except in a much larger mug. He sat down and handed it to her.
Olivia, though upset by the response, obeyed. She dragged her legs over the edge of the couch as she eyed Aeris carefully. Now that things had calmed down, she thought back to the scene in the room. Several bizarre things happened which gnawed at her for answers.
It served to stir her curiosity.
She bit her lip, thoughtfully putting together her next question. After Aeris had begun to drink what Olivia thought might’ve been blood or wine, the girl began. “Aeris, what happened to your eyes? Back in the room, they became completely blue white and weird.”
Taking the mug Mai brought her, the vampire drank deep, tilting her head back as she did. When Olivia questioned her, she held one finger up, keeping the mug to her lips. Once she had drained it of its contents, she held it in her lap and looked at the girl. Briefly, Olivia might notice Aeris’ eyes as they flashed red, then purple, and then finally faded back to their unnaturally blue color. “The magic I was using is part of me, so when I use a lot of it, it changes my eye color.”
Though it was a bit more complicated than that, Aeris hoped the explanation would suffice for now. “Ooookay. Dad’s…he never done that. Then again… his skin crackled and popped when he was frustrated or angry.”
Olivia found it hard to talk about their now deceased parent. The memories poured into her awareness at the slightest mention. Though they were pleasant most of the time, she found they weighed her down and seemed to suffocate her. Thankfully, the pain hadn’t been as bad as yesterday. “So… what exactly happened to Emmett? Now that he’s alright. You said you would explain to me.”
Gaze settling on the girl as he settled back down next to Aeris, he wrapped an arm around her, its twin resting on the armrest beside him. Studying Olivia a moment, the Hunter sized her up, and then making a decision, spoke.“There are two possibilities, really. The first is that he’ll be unaffected by the process aside from the unpleasant memory of it. However, the far more likely reality is that the introduction of such a significant amount of licenti vis into his system will permanently alter his nature. In short, he’ll become a hybrid like us. Part licentia and part human."
He paused a moment, then glanced at Aeris, running a hand through her hair briefly, a small smile lifting the corners of his lips. He looked at Olivia from the corner of his eye, “Regardless, he will still be your brother. His mind will be more or less unchanged. He’ll still be the Emmett you grew up with...are growing up with."
At that, he fell silent.
Olivia hushed her questions for a moment. She leaned forward and tried to recall what she learned about Licentia. It was very little sadly. Their father had watered down to a basic and simple phrase.
Licentia could use humans to create more of themselves.
Before his death, he had promised to give more details when she was older. Now that wasn’t going to happen. Upon remembering this, Olivia frowned and reflected on how Emmett became infected. “Emmett’s not been around any Licenti until…”
Yesterday… Her mind finished her sentence as her face twisted in pure dismay. She looked at Mairyell then Aeris for confirmation about her assumption.
Aeris inhaled deeply, and then sighed. “Well, you know that Mai is a Licentia hybrid. To simplify it, that’s also what I am, and why my magic messes with my eyes.”
After a few moments in thought, Aeris rested her head on Mai’s shoulder. “Emmett will become like us, to a certain extent, anyway.”
Aeris went on to explain that due to how rare hybrids were, there was no telling exactly how he would turn out, they could only make guesses based on the licentia that corrupted him.
When Aeris finished up explaining, Olivia looked toward the stairs. Her thoughts were clearly with her brother and his situation. Just like Raiden, Emmett was difficult to fully read sometimes. At least when she considered his reactions to new things.
Biting her lip, she considered her next words. “So he’s pretty much going to be weirder than normal? Great. I thought he was bad enough before.”
She teased a bit, her tone relaxed some. “I’m glad he’s going to be alright. I don't think he'll like what he's become, but… Thank you.”
Aeris nodded, and suggested the girl get some sleep. Following her suggestion, the woman rose from her seat on the couch, and offered to show Olivia to a room she could use for the night, if she didn’t want to disturb Emmett. If the girl chose to go with her, Aeris would gently tuck her in and head back out to the living room where she would curl up with Mai on the couch.
Emmett stirred when his stomach made a loud gurgle. His face scrunched up and wrinkled from the mild pain his middle. Yesterday’s events and lack of food had taken its toll on his system. Now it demanded energy, refusing to leave him to slumber.
The boy groaned in defeat. His hand shoved the thick blanket off his legs where they entangled and onto the floor. They landed with a soft plop. Sluggishly he rose upright in bed and absorbed the room’s surroundings.
The realization of his whereabouts came slow. Memories of the sickness were hazy and faint in his groggy mind causing him to ignore them for now.
First, he needed something to eat.
Driven by the primal need to ease his hunger pains, Emmett slid his feet to touch the carpet. With a big effort, he managed to stand and drag himself to the hallway. He still felt sweaty and gross, noting he needed a shower later.
Cautiously he made his way downstairs and toward the kitchen. Unaware of his changes, his vis flexed and spread throughout the immediate area. He rubbed the back of his head while his other hand popped open the refrigerator.
The light was more painful than he expected it to be. His eyes squinted as he reached for sausages, his leftover omelet and whatever caught his eyes. He placed them on the counter while he shut the door. Trying to determine the drawer that Aeris picked the silverware out of, he rummaged around the different drawers for a fork. Finding one finally, he plopped on his seat and began to eat.“Hungry I see,"
Mairyell said from his position leaned against a nearby wall, arms crossed.
Emmett jerked in his seat. His eyes shifted to Mairyell, noticing him there for the first time. He relaxed when he realized who it was. “Sorry. I couldn’t help it. I wanted to go back to sleep, but it wasn't going to happen.”
Emmett said in a quiet tone.
As the two chatted for a bit, Aeris’ head peered over the couch, into the kitchen.
Mairyell shrugged, “That’s fine, carry on."
He kept an eye on Emmett as he ate, noting the slight shifts in the boy’s vis. He could tell already that Emmett was likely going to be in for quite the rude awakening.
After a moment, Aeris slid silently off of the couch, and made her way into the kitchen. “Mornin’.”
She spoke softly, followed by a large yawn. The small bags under her eyes showed that she likely needed either sleep, or energy.
Emmett looked at Mairyell. He kept trying to understand why it felt like he had done something wrong, the sensation too strong to shake off. Cautiously he returned to his breakfast until Aeris walked in. Once more his head looked up from his meal and noticed her appearance, frowning a bit.
[color=cadetblye] “Morning. Are you okay? You look awful.”[/color] Emmett commented, unaware of his nearly empty plate.
He didn't really want to remember yesterday, but he had the unsettling suspicion he was responsible for her condition.
Before Aeris answered Emmett, she walked around the counter, and opened the fridge. After rummaging a bit, she pulled out a rather large bottle of red liquid. “I’ll be fine after I drink something.”
With that said, the woman opened the bottle, shutting the fridge as she put it to her lips. Head tilted back, she practically downed the entire bottle in under a minute, seemingly uncaring of what Emmett might’ve thought about what the liquid was.
Mairyell chuckled slightly as he watched Aeris down the fluid. He glanced at Emmett, wondering how the boy would react, a small grin on his lips. “People usually drink coffee to wake up…”
Emmett’s words trailed off as he watched her chug it down quickly.
Aeris was reminding him heavily of Olivia the more he was around her. Especially when she woke up after a crappy night. Feeling Mai’s eyes on him, Emmett turned to him and gave him a look. One that asked if Aeris always drank that fast and much. After a moment, he decided to return to his breakfast. “I’m going to check on Olivia when I’m done. Where did she sleep last night? I don’t remember much after… the pain.”
He shook off the thoughts. It wasn’t a good time to think about it and he didn’t want to know what exactly happened.. yet. “She slept in a different room,"
the Hunter replied casually. “This floor, down the hall,"
he clarified with a shrug.
Emmett nodded and returned to eating in silence. In a few minutes, the sausage was gone. Then came the omelet, fried potatoes, hard boiled eggs, and other leftovers from the fridge. A bit focused on getting the pain in his middle to cease, he wasn’t tracking the amount he ate.
Upon emptying the last container, his stomach still rumbled in greed. It was likely loud enough that even Aeris heard it and confusion crossed his facial features.
Why was he still hungry?
Emmett pushed the container to the side, where the others were piled, and folded his arms over the counter. He had already eaten as much as his father in one setting and it didn’t fill him. It didn't even make a dent in his appetite.
Memories flickered into the surface drawing his attention to the events of yesterday. Weakness, pain and brief snatches of Aeris and Mai’s conversation were all recalled. “Did you get it out?”
Emmett forced himself to ask.
When Emmett asked the question that had surely been hanging in the air since he came down the stairs, Aeris glanced at Mai. After a moment, she sighed, placing the empty wine-esque bottle on the counter. Emmett might notice just how much better Aeris looked since drinking whatever was in the bottle as her eyes settled on him. “It was already rooted when we found it. If we removed it, it would have killed you.”
Aeris’ tone was somber, her eyes never leaving the boy’s face.
Emmett’s once hungry stomach curled. A tightened knot condensed into the center and seemed to swell, turning into a sick sensation. His head lowered to his folded arms as he inhaled. The desire to rant and scream tried to overwhelm his control, but he knew it wouldn't help him. Not now. “I was hoping if I ignored it, it might go away. I don’t want to be like… like that thing.”
He rose his face up once more and looked at Aeris. “I didn’t know what else to do… it threatened my sister.”
Aeris nodded as she leaned on the counter, her face level with Emmett’s. “You’re not at fault, Emmett. Just be thankful we got to it before it started growing.”
Aeris spoke calmly. The boy likely misunderstood what would have happened to him if they hadn’t found it, but that was normal for a child his age. After a few more moments of silence, the vampire spoke again, “How’s your body feeling this morning? Lighter? Heavier?” “I’m still really hungry like everything I ate didn’t matter. I’m also kinda sore from yesterday. I don’t feel any heavier.”
The stomach’s knot was still fighting with the need for additional food. “What’s going on with me?”
Emmett looked at Aeris, his young face held apprehension. He tried not to squirm when he learned that thing was still inside him. His fear gripped his heart, nevertheless, tightening with the passing moment.
Listening to the boy’s words as he explained how he was feeling, Aeris nodded. She couldn’t help but sigh when he asked what was happening to him. Her thoughts drifted back to when she had been turned, and how painful it was. She hated the thought of having to break that news to him. To tell him that he would likely outlive his sister. She and Mai were lucky. They were both hybrids, they would live for the same amount of time. Emmett and Olivia, however… Eyes closed, and brow furrowed, Aeris’ mind trailed off, not wanting to complete the thought.
After several minutes of silence, she finally met his eyes again. “What that thing put into your body was originally intended to be an egg of sorts. It was going to use you to grow a child. I killed it. However,”
The woman paused, and ran her fingers through her long brown hair, clearly trying to think of the right words to say. “However, its corpse is still rooted inside you. Your body seems to have started to utilize its vis which means you’re changing.”
She let the last word hang in the air, trying to anticipate what Emmett would ask next.
The boy was quiet as he listened. His eyes considered her words carefully and trying to compare it to what little he knew. Licentia wasn't exactly a well-covered topic back in school. Mostly a glossed over lesson to help with ignorance. Part of him wished he had covered this topic with his parents before their passing.
His head shifted to Mai. He seemed to be trying to connect the dots Aeris were showing him, slowly figuring it out. “Does this mean I’m not… human anymore? Am I like Mai… or will I become like the licenti that attacked us?”
Fear crept into his voice at the last part, concerned he would turn into a monster. “From what Mai and I can tell, you're becoming a hybrid. What that means for you we won't know until your abilities, if any, manifest.”
Aeris’ voice was gentle as she detected the fear in Emmett’s. She wasn't entirely sure how to explain that he and Mai weren't the only hybrids in the room, and so, remained silent. “Okay… How do we find that out?”
Emmett took comfort in that Aeris and Mai at least knew what he was becoming. Being a hybrid was better than becoming a full Licenti, which seemed to be the shade’s intentions. It didn’t make him feel any more human though.
His head had long ago lifted from the counter as his arms fell to his middle. Clenching it tightly to silence it. It was demanding, but he refused to give it any attention. In the back of his mind, he wasn’t even sure how to make it stop because food didn’t seem to do the trick.
In response to Emmett’s stomach, Aeris turned around and pulled a second bottle of the red liquid she’d been drinking a few minutes ago from the fridge, and sat it down in front of him. “Drink this, it should help some.”
Emmett’s eyebrow raised.
It looked like the same thing Aeris had been drinking earlier. He assumed that it was wine or something like it. Though he found it hard to believe that Aeris was a lush, he knew appearances were deceiving.
Deciding not to question things immediately, he reached for the bottle in front of him. He popped open the top then raised the bottle’s edge to his lips.
He expected it to taste sour and yeasty like he heard alcohol smelled like. Bracing himself, the taste exploded on his tongue. A light, tangy flavor like strawberries. The whole thing then chased down by a nuttiness he enjoyed.
Quickly, his hunger seemed to pass when he drank nearly half the bottle. Gently he set it down close to him as he looked at Aeris. “What is this?” “It's a vis infused strawberry drink. I drink it whenever I don't have time to feed.”
Aeris responded nonchalantly, as though she'd already told him she was a hybrid. She hadn't, which she realized a moment later, deciding not to elaborate.
Emmett’s expression melted into mild annoyance. Was everyone in this house a hybrid? He questioned, then sighed. To be fair, though he bitterly didn’t like to admit it, he could’ve asked or suspected it. He kept the drink nearby.
Deciding not to dwell on the fact Aeris was a hybrid, he returned to an earlier point. “You still didn’t answer my first question. How do we find out if I have any abilities? I rather not… be surprised.” “Surprise is all you've got, unfortunately.”
Aeris responded apologetically.
Listening intently, Mairyell nodded in response, “Though, perhaps not a complete surprise. It’s likely you’ll have some form of shadow manipulation at the very least. Any abilities you do have will surely be derivative forms of shade abilities. That is to say, they’ll be similar in nature."
He shrugged slightly, then fell silent once more.
Emmett inhaled, his fingers twisted the bottle in place. His eyes stared at it in thought. He felt like broken glass. All the emotions spiderweb through his very being and threatened to break him. “That’s something, I guess. I was hoping this would stay a bad memory, but I should’ve known better.”
Emmett spoke more to himself than Aeris or Mai. Was anything ever going to be normal again? He highly doubted it. “I don’t want to hurt Olivia by mistake. Is she going to be safe around me? Or should I avoid her?”
The words were painful to say, but he knew they had to be said.
Aeris looked at the boy thoughtfully, “If you don’t want to hurt her, then you won’t. For right now it should just be a matter of keeping your anger in check. Mai’s right, though, you will probably develop some form of shadow manipulation, and if you do, I can help you control it.”
As if to accentuate the point, the shadow of the bottle in front of him lifted up from the counter, and then laid back down. “Easier said than done.”
Emmett grumbled softly.
He knew he couldn’t always control his temper, especially since he lashed out at Mai yesterday. His fingers continued to mess with the bottle until the shadow moved. It was fast and unexpected.
His figure jerked back as he lost his balance. His stool leaned too far from its stable perch, bringing him toward the floor. His shadow below him twitched. A small tendril snaked up from the boy’s own shadow and shot halfway up his leg, seemingly coming to block the other shadow. It died the moment Aeris’ shadow laid back down, crumbling back to normal.
As he fell, Mairyell moved, seamlessly shifting into place near Emmett. He caught the boy with one hand, the other on the chair. Lightly he pushed the two back into a stable position and then let go. “Whoa! A little warning would've been nice.”
Emmett snapped. “You may also want to work on not getting startled so easily,"
he said, patting the boy’s shoulder before walking to the fridge. He got out some leftovers, heated them up, and then started eating.
Heart still pounding, Emmett leaned into the counter. It felt better to be on firm ground once more as he looked at Mairyell, noting the speed the hybrid moved. He gently pushed the bottle a little farther from him. He was still paranoid about the ‘living’ shadow rearing back up again.
[color=cadeblue] “It seems I have a lot to work on.”[/color]
Emmett’s head lowered to the counter and his fingers interlocked behind his skull. This whole ordeal, and how complicated it seemed, gradually ground at his nerves. Mostly worry that he couldn’t completely learn it all.
As Mairyell heated his breakfast, Emmett lifted his head and noticed his sister. She edged toward the kitchen from her room. His hunger had subsided enough he was comfortable. For how long, he wasn’t sure.
Olivia smiled upon seeing him, bring one to his own. She headed for a seat next to Emmett. “What’s for break-”
Olivia’s words abruptly ceased, pausing in the middle of her action. Her eyes widened as she yanked back out of the chair. She stepped away from Emmett causing her brother to crinkle his face in confusion. She was trembling. Her fingers dug into the counter and her skin completely went stark white in fear. “Olivia… everything alright?”
Why did she look so frightened? Emmett thought as he slid onto the ground and stood upright. He continued to study his sister. He moved to her. She flinched and retreated some more. “Olivia, it’s me. Emmett. Stop goofing off, this isn’t funny.”
His tone edged with irritation.
Aeris watched the display, mildly confused at first. However, it didn’t take long for her to realize what was going on. Slowly, she walked around the counter, and put her arm around Olivia’s shoulders. Though the girl wouldn’t see it, Brisn would flow over her body, insulating her from Emmett’s unrecognized ability. “See? It’s alright, ‘Liv. Everything’s fine.”
Aeris’ voice was calm as she squeezed the girl gently, and then let her go. She could feel her Brisn as it did its work, calming Olivia so that she would be able to act normal around Emmett.
Olivia visibly relaxed. The combination of the touch and Brisn worked to chase away the dread produced by her brother. She began to inhale normally as she looked at Aeris. “W-what was that?”
Emmett frowned, his right eyebrow raised in question. “Uh? What happened? Why were you frightened?”
He didn’t approach immediately. Now that Aeris had his sister, he noticed a calm swept over her. It hurt more than he wanted to admit to watching the change, but he didn't say anything.
Swallowing his bite of food, he glanced over at the two, noting that Aeris had handled the issue. He set down his plate and walked over to Emmett, “Well, that’d be what we call Dread Permeation. Otherwise known as a Fear Aura. A shade ability and now one of yours, though you won’t become a shade, just to be clear. It’s not a huge deal, we’ll just have to teach you a bit of control, and work on Olivia’s resistance to it some. Till then we’ll just use a bit of magic to make her largely immune."
He shrugged a bit, then flicked Emmett’s temple lightly.“Try not to get too worked up about it, it’s not a big deal. I imagine it’d be great for dealing with bullies though,"
he grinned to himself faintly.“I’m feeling more like a monster than I really want to…”
Emmett grumbled under his breath.
His hand rubbed where Mairyell flicked him, more annoyed than in pain. How could he not get worked over the fact he just terrified his sister? Even worse, she wasn’t going to likely look at him the same way. These thoughts didn’t help the anxiety building in his gut. He stepped away from Aeris and Olivia, sitting down once more.
Olivia bit her lip at what Mairyell explained. It still bewildered her over what had happened and even worse because it came from Emmett. “Is this what you meant? About him being different?”
She carefully resuming her seat beside him and reached out a hand to touch his shoulder. He flinched but thankfully didn’t pull away from her. “Yes.”
Aeris’ response was simple as she walked back around the counter, her hand delicately brushing against Mai’s as she passed him, though that would be largely unnoticed by the kids. “So, what do you want for breakfast?”
Aeris questioned, her eyes resting on Olivia.
Taking a cue from Aeris, Olivia latched onto the change in topic. She removed her hand from Emmett’s shoulder as she forced herself to smile. She knew it looked fake, but it wasn’t easy to make it genuine. Though the sensation faded, the thoughts of it lingered.
Folding her arms underneath her, she pushed forward and adjusted her rear in her seat. “Ummm… any of those waffles left? They were really good.” “I think Mai ate them all, but I can make some more.”
As Aeris finished speaking, she set to work, grabbing the ingredients she needed. After several minutes, she began piling waffle after waffle on a serving plate. Once she’d used all the batter, she turned around and rummaged through a cabinet, grabbing a couple plates for Olivia and herself. It had taken Mai a long time to learn the recipe, but Aeris was a bit better in the kitchen than he was, allowing her to learn the recipe much more quickly.“Sounds like something Emmett would’ve done.”
Olivia giggled. She once remembered Emmett devouring their mom’s baked goods, leaving only a few crumbles. He claimed innocence at the crime causing her dad to investigate and ground Emmett over it. Her giggle died a little at the end of recalling the fact they would never see them again.
Shaking the pain away, she then focused on the present. “Can I help this time? I want to learn.”
She also wanted to make Emmett feel better even when she wasn’t sure how to do it. He wouldn’t be in the depression for long, but she hated seeing him like this. The sooner he was out of it, the better it was for both of them. Without dad or mom around to make things better, she felt the responsibility fell to her.
Despite having already eaten, Mai sat down--notably near Emmett--before waiting for Olivia, Emmett, and Aeris to get their fill. Once they had he would proceed to work on the remainder of the waffles
Olivia noticed that Emmett hadn’t talked since he learned about the Aura. He picked at the last waffle and managed to finish it off before he slid his plate to one side. Though she suspected it was to appear normal more than actual hunger. Her feet swung back and forth under her chair as she thought about a topic. “I guess with Emmett’s… changes, we’re staying here?”
She tried to carefully word her statement, but Emmett just shook his head and pushed off his seat. He made his way around the counter toward the stairs, his steps stomping to the room he slept in. Olivia jerked when she heard the door slam shut behind him.
Olivia stared at his wake, her mask dropped. “I didn’t mean to upset him.” “Very likely, yes,"
the hunter responded in lieu of Olivia’s question. He glanced at Emmett as he began stalking away, then looked back to his food.
Aeris gave her brother a very pointed look, and then glanced at Olivia, “I doubt it’s your fault, ‘Liv. Give him some time, he’s adjusting to this just as much as you are. It’s probably really bothering him that he scared you.”
Aeris surmised through bites of waffle.
Mai swallowed, sighed, pushed his plate away and rose to his feet. “Not sure what you expect,"
he said, looking at his sister, before he walked off, heading upstairs, thumbs hooked into his pockets. When he got to Emmett’s door he knocked on it. “I really wish Dad was around. He knew what to do when Emmett got upset or angry. Even when Mom didn't like he came back with sore hands.”
Olivia sighed then lowered her head. She moved from her seat to lean against Aeris, needing the comfort.
Meanwhile, Emmett felt hot tears of anger and fear pour down from eyes. They made his vision blurry but he didn’t care. His hands pressed against the door for several moments. He struggled not to just tear the room apart, even when it made him feel better.
The worse part, he scared Olivia.
The very one he was supposed to protect and he nearly broke his own promise. Emmett pressed his back against the nearest wall, sliding down, and sat there. His right leg bent at the knee while his arm rested on it. He had no idea what to do. He couldn’t protect her when he couldn’t sense when he was doing something to hurt her.
He jumped when he heard Mairyell knock. "Go away!"
Emmett shouted, trying to keep the strain out of his voice.
As Olivia leaned into her, Aeris wrapped her arms around the girl hugging her close. “It’ll be alright, ‘Liv. We’ll get everything sorted out.”
She spoke softly, trying to act like she hadn’t heard Emmett just yell at Mai. “I hope so…”
Was all Olivia could say when Emmett hollered.“No. Open the door,"
he replied, looking at the door with a blank expression. “Just...just leave me alone!”
Emmett knew the door wouldn't keep Mairyell out. It wasn't even locked and all the hunter had to do was walk in. As Emmett lowered his head into his knee, he fought the urge to just lash out. That didn't apply to his words obviously since they held a hint of anger in them.“Or, now listen closely, you could open the door.”
He said once more, moving not an inch. After a moment he gave up on the whole being entirely calm thing, and turned the handle, throwing the door open. He caught it before it struck the wall. Entering the room he glanced to the side at the crying Emmett. His glowing purple gaze did not falter in the least.“I can understand how you’re feeling Emmett,"
he said, “...and I know that it’s hard. However, there is a silver lining that you’re not seeing here. You have people to help you through it. You don’t need to try to be a grown up. You don’t need to protect your sister and take the whole burden onto yourself. I know that feeling, I was there, and don’t try to tell me that I wasn’t. You have lost a lot, but I can assure you that where you are now is better than where Aeris and I were so long ago."
He looked away, gazing out the window across the room, silent for but a brief moment.“You can make it through this and you will come out on the other end stronger,"
he said it with a certainty that might even inspire a shred of hope and confidence in Emmett. That done, he leaned against the wall, and stayed with the boy while he cried. He kept his gaze on the window, allowing the boy to work through the roiling emotions in his small world.
He had much to learn.