Chapter 35: Some Kind of Comfort, Part II

Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 443

It was a question Lance was disgusted to think, but what repulsed him more was the fact that he couldn't bring himself to imagine what Zidane would look like after. Maybe he didn't need to; maybe it was inevitable.

If that fuckin' whack job beats you again... Don't show me.

A long pause answered him, and then Zidane answered using both voices. The younger one was louder, diminishing his current to almost a murmur.

"Alright." A pause, and then the voices spoke together again. "I think the reason I really went back that day was because it was... nice. The first memory I'd had in a while where I felt... something besides all that anger. It was like I had been underwater, drowning, for years and just experiencing that let me breathe again, even if the inhale was slight."

Lance nodded. But you had only been with Arzo for a few months, right?

"No. A little under two years, actually. I was almost eight when this happened."

Shocked, Lance replied before he could filter himself. But you still look so young. Really tiny.

Zidane shrugged, a nonchalant smile on his face. "Yeah," he stretched out. "Another deformity for you."

Another? Lance asked, but his question was never answered as the scene changed again.

When Zidane spoke next, his current voice came to Lance. An image appeared in his mind's eye; Zidane standing, one hand in his pocket and the other softly gripping the back of his neck, focus downwards in thought. A position he would take at his current age.

"This next part happened I think a few days later... Yeah, about three to four days." A sarcastic smile pushed its way onto his face, head rising to the sky while his hand fell away. "Don't have to do much imagining on this one."

It's a pretty vivid memory? Lance asked.

Zidane nodded. The image of him vanished, and once more Lance was inside the kitchen. Like most times before, the room was empty. A heavy, almost painful weight pressed against his gut. It was the last time he would see this kitchen; he could feel it.

Zidane was inside already. A cut was on his cheekbone, the wound beginning to scab and a line of dried blood running beneath it. He stayed standing, staring at the walls, the refrigerator, seeming to be taking in everything with little interest.

The kitchen door swung open. Kazuo hobbled in, noticing Zidane almost immediately. The old man smiled.

"Eight," he began. "This marks our eighth encounter. I thought about you much over the holidays. I hope you were able to find warmth in such cold conditions."

He stopped walking, considering Zidane with those kind, concerned eyes. Kazuo didn't say anything for a long moment, and finally he spoke in a quiet voice that carried through the room.

"What would you like?"

Like every time before, Zidane didn't answer. He stayed silent, standing there and continuing to study Kazuo with a glare still lightly etching his face. Kazuo nodded, seeming to understand the response perfectly, and began walking towards the refrigerator. Zidane stepped back, moving on silent feet. Lance saw Kazuo give a smile of appreciation, something Zidane never returned, and a moment later the fridge door was pulled open.

Bending down, Kazuo reached inside to retrieve a half-gallon of milk. He didn't close the door as he stepped away to stand in front of the stove, instead glancing back with a smile to see Zidane take small, cautious steps forward—enough to see past the open door and watch what Kazuo was doing.

The old man turned back, and Lance sensed that the smile was still there as he retrieved a cup from the overhead cabinet. The cup was set down, the milk poured in, and nearly a minute later the microwave was done heating it. The preparation brought Zidane a little closer Kazuo; the beeping emitting from the press of buttons scared him, as Lance expected, but a cautioned interest overtook the crossbreed when nothing but a glowing light and constant hum became of the strange box. He had taken a few steps forward, leaning out with a little less caution and a little more curiosity. Beeping pierced through the microwave's hum and that interest yanked itself back. Shock overtook it, reversing Zidane's progress both emotionally and from a distance.

Now even farther away than before, Zidane didn't take his eyes off the machine as Kazuo opened the microwave door and took the mug out by the handle. He set it back on the counter and with his other hand withdrew a slim white package from a long narrow box. Watching the packet rip open and the powder pour in, Lance realized exactly what he was making.

A light smile came to him as he looked back to Zidane, the crossbreed's guard seem to be rising even higher as Kazuo finished stirring. The spoon tapped on the cup's rim twice before it was set on the counter. With the mug in both hands, Kazuo turned back. He was still smiling, that quiet expression still there as Zidane grew suspicious, eyes tracking the man as he bent down and held the cup out in offering.

Zidane didn't step back like Lance expected him to. He only moved his eyes, shifting them from the cup to Kazuo's face and then back again. His glare worsened, hiding the brightness in his eyes and returning them to a deeper color. Kazuo's smile casually fell, the corners of his mouth bending down so slightly. He moved his head towards the window, motioning to it as he spoke.

"Why did you come then?"

Zidane looked to where he motioned, twisting enough to stare at the window behind him. Lance sensed the blue in his eyes become night-like again, and the pain echoed against Lance's gut. For single moment, Lance also wanted to know why. Making a statement and taking your anger out on something was one thing, but Zidane had yet to break anything Kazuo had offered. He was standing here like he was waiting for something.

A sigh pushed against Kazuo's closed mouth as he stood up, hot chocolate still in his hand. His attention went to staring into the cup, and then Lance felt a shift inside Zidane. A brief electric spark in darkness, something that surprised him enough to look back just as Kazuo did. A lighter blue had touched Zidane's eyes as he continued staring at the cup.

After a few moments that seemed so brief, his stare rose, looking into Kazuo's eyes. The malice was nearly gone from his expression, the deep lines folded in between his eyebrows present but his face was almost completely relaxed. He almost looked his age.

He didn't move away as Kazuo started forward, the sound of his light footsteps seeming loud against the silence. Half an arm's length away, he stopped. Carefully—much more careful than anything he'd done before—he extended the mug, lowering it in a way so the cocoa wouldn't spill. When the cup was within comfortable reach, Zidane didn't move to accept it. He only stared, and Lance could feel the tension in his arms, his shoulders, as though they were thin blades that dug into his muscles.

The crossbreed's eyes blackened when he reached out, cupping with one hand on the bottom and another on the side. Kazuo's fingers released the cup one by one, gently guiding the cup into Zidane's hold. Zidane brought it close to him, looking down at the wisps of steam rising to his face. Lance couldn't name the feeling, but he knew something inside Zidane had changed. Like someone taking a pike and a hammer against a concrete sphere, a crack had been made. A breach had been formed.

As time stretched on, Lance saw the blue in Zidane's eyes appear again. The dark ocean color rose once more, and the tension Lance had been holding released in a quiet breath. He nearly felt ashamed to be relieved; of course Zidane was changing. He had to; something had to make him be the person he was now.

Pressure came against the inside of his chest at the thought, almost like something was trying to reject the idea. The person that had changed him, truly deeply changed him, wasn't Kazuo.

Zidane looked up, eyes a few shades deeper than medium blue. He instantly looked to Kazuo and a different kind of sincerity touched the old man's expression. Something that moved pride together with gratitude.

Right at the moment Lance put a name to the emotions, Zidane stepped back with a quiet gasp. The fear in his eyes was clear, and the start of tears forming along his lower eyelid only made the sight unbearable—frustrating, even. Zidane's breath quickened to hyperventilation and he continued to quickly step back as his hands released the mug. The cup dropped. Shards of glass exploded against the floor, hot chocolate bursting out and splattering the tile. The glass pieces stopped sliding, some zooming past Lance and ending a few inches away from the wall behind him.

Zidane finished climbing up the counter, stepping into the sink and diving out the window. Lance was outside as he rolled onto the snow, the momentum allowing him to immediately stand upright again. He stayed still, the breath from his nose and mouth visible in the air. His eyes shut and his mouth closed, leaving only his nose to pump the air like smoke from a dragon.

"Long run for someone with no bags."

Arzo's voice. Lance felt his stomach drop; he looked below the window. Zidane's bags sat on the ground a few feet away.

"I was scoping," Zidane replied. The demeanor had switched; the glare already set firm.

"Oh, really?" Arzo's footsteps crunched the snow, though Lance refused to look at him. He kept his head turned away, listening as Arzo continued.

"Looking around a place you've already been five, six times?"

Surprised, Lance and Zidane both looked to him. Arzo's expression remained stoic, dark eyes contrasting the white snow in his hair. The jacket he wore was thick and seemingly comfortable, and it was this observation that sparked a new type of anger in Lance. Zidane turned away, walking back to the bags. He slung the duffel bag over himself, picked up the other bags. "They did some changes. I wanted to make sure I knew where I was going next time."

Lance didn't exactly see Arzo's anger increasing; he felt that immeasurable amount of darkness loom over the Spiro as if a large shadow had rose out from behind his feet and waited above him like a hawk, like an umbrella. Arzo didn't move, allowing Lance a few more moments of seeing those jet-black eyes against the white of his surroundings.

It's not normal to have that much hate, Lance thought. It's fucking inhuman.

A fleeting thought came to him; none of it was normal even for Spiro standards, and those eyes were just the surface.

Submitted: December 01, 2019

© Copyright 2023 Meaghan Kalena. All rights reserved.


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