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Ashaa

Yeeooooowwwllllrrrrrrll...

Waking to the warmth of her fur wasn't a routine I was quite used to. In fact, I was already used to the warmth of her skin brushing up against my own every morning. Still, it was quite rare to find her like this over the years. She didn't normally sleep in her animal skin but after what happened last night, I suppose I couldn't blame her for wanting to be ready to attack at a moment's notice. 

Lazily, I reached back to the large and rather bored feline that had been gnawing gently on my shoulder. "Stop," I mumbled tiredly.

Kali began nuzzling into the back of my head, pushing past my hair and digging further as if she were trying to get to the nape of my neck. My body jerked violently as I became startled on the direct contact of her teeth nicking the flesh. All of the motion had taken Kali by such a surprise that our entire bed shifted when she sprang off.

"Ow," I groaned in pain, rubbing my neck instinctively. I could feel the blood when I rubbed my fingers together but the wound itself wasn't deep at all. It was actually nothing to worry about but it still hurt.

Her ears had been lying flat against her head with her teeth bared directly at me, taking a defensive position as she began to snarl. I moved to climb off the bed but the white tigress continued staring attentively, observing every aspect of my movements with her tail swaying back and forth in quick succession.

"Stop," I commanded in a stern tone of voice but she didn't move in the slightest. Her body was stiff and rigid compared to before. Her breathing was labored and heavy as she held down her position as though her life had absolutely depended on it. I mean, I know I may have scared her but I didn't think I had gotten her so scared that she'd respond like this.

"It's ok, little rabbit." I murmured with a warm smile as I knelt down before the stressed and panicked creature. Carefully, I reached out and ran my fingers gently across her snow-colored fur in an attempt to relax my one and only mate. 

As my partly bloody hand began rubbing down her front leg, I felt her muscles slowly loosen and her hardened stare become that of a gentle gaze. I sighed with great relief before patting the feline hard enough to continue pulling her humanity back to her. Her ears flickered, rising from against her head as her gaze shifted to meet mine in much more comfortable ways.

And then a white blinding light flashed all across the room.

The animal that had been previously standing before me had become ghost-like with a rainbow beam shining all across her body, letting all know that she was created by the heavens themselves. The very sight of an Original shifting could be both breathtaking and terrifying, depending on why they'd be shifting to begin with. But, Kaliska... it was like seeing her for the first time all over again, and she was even more beautiful after each shift.

The bright lights around her figure began to dim, leaving her in a complete humanoid form and us back in the dim-lit bedroom. Without so much as a warning, Kali lunged forward and captured my lips with her own in a desperate manner.

I closed my eyes, returning the kiss shyly before she pushed with a more dominant display of warmth and affection. Her hands grasped my cheeks as she moved her body to sit up straight, fixing herself to the point where my face had raised upwards just to keep her lips on mine.

Slowly, Kali pulled her lips from mine, stirring disappointment all along my body as I realized she was finished. I opened my eyes only to find her removing her hands from their previous position. One hand was now fixed on the back of my head while the other maintained a tight grip on my side.

"What's wrong, rabbit?" I asked, looking up at the blue-eyed beauty.

"Nothing's wrong," She whispered with an unnatural tug of her lips that made it her smile look completely strained. Just seeing such an action from her normal sprightly behavior made my heart ache. As of the last few weeks, I haven't seen her as lively as she used to be but I couldn't blame her after what we've been through.

"We've been together for a very long time," I ran my hands through her white hair, watching as her strained smile fell and her blue eyes began darting around the room in a nervous manner. "I think I know you well enough to know when something is bothering you, Kali. Not to mention you nicked me pretty good."

"Fifteen," The number flowed uneasily from her lips as her eyes revealed the animal to now be in full control over her thoughts. "That's how many people have come after us since the train, Ash. That's fifteen lives so intoxicated with Kylan's aroma these last few weeks that they are willing to kill whoever stands in their way and what's worse is that not a single one of them was a bounty hunter looking for us. Each of them have been child-eating demons searching for a now non-existent newborn."

My mouth gaped open slightly, dry and unable to form words of any kind. Her words were lacking emotion entirely and, as a non-human, she did not care about the feelings of those around her nor did their opinions matter in the least but I liked to think that she at least tried to be nice. Sure, the animal inside often prevented her from feeling the loss of Kylan in an effort to keep her from becoming overwhelmed with emotion. Of course, the last thing I ever wanted was for the love of my life to have to go through something like the self-destructive that the angels cursed her entire race with. But what upset me the most was the fact that all the animal seemed to be doing was redirecting all of those emotions toward anger and reigniting the monster we fought hard to bury.

"I know I'm asking too much of you and I know that blanket is all we have left of his," She pressed the issue further with a little more humanity as opposed to before, "but if those demons find out how much we're worth to Denarius, you're the one they'll be lining up to die for."

Well, she's not wrong.

I frowned upon hearing the unforgettable Welsh accent of a disembodied female voice echoing in the darkest corners of my mind.

No one asked you. My words echoed throughout my mind, aimed directly at the opposing voice.

Then, without warning, the face of Lexi flashed before my eyes. It was only a moment but it was just enough to make me unravel. Her skin was gray and dried to the point where she had been disturbingly similar to that of a decaying figure. She had blood coming from the corner of her eyes and a severe series of wounds all across her face, suggesting that she may have endured the very worst at some point in her past. Whatever her story, she was very old and much older than Kali or myself. I thought it queer that I'd not seen her over the last few decades, but she was awake now and I'm guessing it's because of what happened to Kali on the train.

Still, this... filth was the reason I'd been marked as tainted and a traitor to the angels. 

Ash!

Startled by her alpha voice, I quickly pulled myself from her arms and said nothing. I could feel Kali staring at me and worrying as she was all too well aware that I was being distracted by someone other than herself but there was nothing we could do about Lexi. 

Lexi had always been with me- haunting me- for as long as I could remember and even the most powerful of witches over the ages dismissed her. Too often was I told that she wasn't a spirit or a demon of any kind. They said it was all in my head but I knew better than that. I could easily sense the creature inside of me was created by the venom of a vampyre. It was something Kali and her family couldn't possibly ignore, and this vampyre, in particular, tended to make our relationship that much harder at times.

"Do what you want," I waved Kali off dismissively. "I don't care."

"That's it?" She gawked, unsure how to proceed while staring nervously at me.

"That's it," I turned away and walked back towards the bed, shifting my gaze over to the mirror briefly. Though I was wary of initially finding Lexi on the other side of it, nothing could ever compare to the amount of relief I found when I saw my own reflection staring back at me.

"That was easy," Kali stated awkwardly as if she were talking to herself. "Why was that easy?" She asked uncomfortably.

"Well," I began making the bed up, "do you really want to argue about it being too easy or do you want to take Kylan's blanket and get rid of the scent before something else breaks our door in like they did last night?"

Whoooosh...

I kept focus on folding the sheets, despite suddenly feeling her warm body pressed against my back. She had been moving all of my hair to one side, exposing my neck as I tried to not think about what she'd been doing.

"I want you to not be upset with me," Her cheek began to nuzzle affectionately against mine, trying to comfort me the only way she knew how but I didn't want her to touch me right now so I shifted uncomfortably in an attempt to make her back off.

"You're going to have to put a little more effort than that if you think I'm that much of an idiot," She scoffed.

"Let me go." I sighed in irritation, feeling my insides starting to burn. 

"No," Kali moved her arms around my waist and shook her head defiantly.

"I will not repeat myself," My hands formed into tight fists as I felt myself becoming angrier with her. The palms of my hands were searing in pain and giving off the usual tingling sensation at the tips of my fingers.

Breathe.

Her alpha voice commanded with great composure as I gasped sharply. Some higher power took a blow to my stomach and forced the air out of lungs. Unable to hold my ground, my body collapsed and I fell to my knees with a single hand on my chest. Just as quickly as I had lost my breath, I inhaled only to find the air flowing smoothly into my lungs once again.

All of the tension, all of the anger. Gone, just like that.

"No, there's something else on your mind, right?" Kali crouched before me with red eyes and a saddened expression all across her face. "For a moment back there, you went quiet... and it's Lexi, isn't it? She's whispering in your ear again, isn't she?"

"I'm sorry," I avoided the question and apologized sincerely, but guiltily.

Regardless of what I was going to say, it was going to sound bad. Lexi was back and we were lucky that she didn't give me any push to harm Kali because the truth was, I was going to hurt her all on my own but I was glad she stopped me before I could ever lay my hand on her.

She nodded once, not wanting to say anything further... or at least nothing that would lead to any sort of argument and I silently thanked her for it. Instead, she reached out and put her hand over mine as if to comfort me.

"Let me help you," She offered quietly. "I know I can't make Lexi stop but I can help with Kylan. All I need is your consent and I can ease all of your memories of him. It'll make it easier on you, and you'll be able to breathe without feeling that heartache."

"What about you?" I asked just as quietly. "Why should I get a free pass while you would still have to suffer with the inability to mourn your own son?"

"Because you and all humans are extraordinarily emotional," She managed a small smile as she squeezed my hand gently. "It's okay to mourn, Ash, even if I can't because I need you to feel something other than anger. I don't know if you blame me for what happened or-"

"Don't ever think I'm blaming you for what happened," I quickly dismissed such a thought and brought her hand to my lips, kissing her knuckles softly as her eyes gently gazed upon me. "Look, maybe you were right, Kali. It might've been a freak accident and maybe there truly was no way we possibly could've prevented it, and I'm sorry if you thought I might've been blaming you for it because I'm not. I know I've been off lately but it's not because of you, and I don't ever want you to think that. This is just how I'm coping, even if it's not the best way to do it... I'm still trying."

There was a moment of silence between us as she took a deep breath and looked elsewhere. I never thought to blame her for the accident but I also never stopped to think that she might've been blaming herself this entire time. Honestly, I didn't understand how she could have. Neither of us knew what caused the fire, even the rest of her family couldn't find the source of the flames.

"Eheheh," Kali had started laughing rather uncharacteristically, sounding almost as if she had started to unwind and that definitely wasn't a good thing.

My expression twisted upon seeing tears running down her face. She hadn't even stopped laughing yet and I couldn't help but start to worry that the feelings could begin overwhelming her at any moment.

"I-i'm fine," Her laughter began to ease as she helped me to my feet and moved behind me, holding me in her arms in an effort to keep me from seeing her face. I swallowed hard as my eyes began to sting at the exact moment that I had I felt her chest rising against my back. She had taken a deep breath to regain control of her own emotions but it wasn't enough to comfort me.

"Ok," I started to shift my figure, turning around in her arms.

As I met her face-to-face, I found her head tilted to the side so cutely that the sight only stunned me briefly. Her now blue eyes seemed to glow from the perfect angle of the light hitting them, but I don't think she noticed just how adorable she looked at all. In this moment, Kali looked like the happiest person in the world.

I reached out to touch her face, watching as Kali closed her eyes to the feeling my skin brushing against her own. Her lips parted slightly and uttered a soft vibrant sound from the back of her throat while I caressed her cheek. Her response to my touch only brought a smile to my face.

"Tell me what you need me to do to make this easier for you," I said as she began to put her head in motion, nuzzling her cheek affectionately against the palm of my hand.

"Let's go home," She pleaded quietly.

"What?" I felt my stomach starting to twist and knot uneasily at the mention of returning to the island. It wasn't our real home, of course, but it was the place where everything had gone bad. Why in the world would I ever go back to those ruins?

"Because this is the only way I'll be able to sleep at night," Kali placed her hand over mine and to keep me from pulling away from her, even when I wasn't planning on doing it. "To everyone on Lantau, I'm the bad guy in this story. I held you back because I know you, Ash. If I didn't keep you pinned down on that beach, you would've perished in those flames along with Kylan. I know what I did was wrong but I couldn't lose you too. I mean, we didn't even stay to give him a proper burial. Don't you see that we have to go back? I know you want to keep the blanket and that it might be the last thing we have of his, but it's not ours."

"You're right," I agreed with a deep sigh. "We'll return to Lantau, and bury him properly. See your family and whoever else, but I can't stay there any longer than we have to."

"Details," She whispered carelessly, leaning into me with her lips grazing against mine. "We can figure all of that out later, ok?"

I bit my bottom lip, blushing over the beautiful creature that moved her body even closer to mine. The hotter I felt, the more attractive I became to her. She shifted her head slightly to investigate the situation from a better angle as I held my breath. Kali took a gentle whiff of my scent, taking in everything I felt for her at this very moment.

I reached out to touch her cheek only to have her suddenly grunt loudly and force me to stop. "Kali, what's-?"

"What?" Kali's previous demeanor had suddenly vanished as she fell into a state of panic. "What's wrong? Was I holding your hand too tight again?"

"What?" I asked after being thrown off about her hand. "No, you're just-"

"If isn't that then why are you doing this to me?" She asked so quietly that I could taste the insecurity in her words.

She wouldn't even look at me.

"This is where I wanted to take you for our date," She reassured me. "Y-you said I could pick wherever I wanted and this is it!"

"Our date?" Her eyes were narrowed and sad, making me feel awful and every bit more confused. What was she talking about?

"This is my home," She insisted, pushing the matter further. "We're always in your home! Why don't you ever want to be with me in mine?"

Different homes, how? We lived together.

We've always lived together.

"You're not listening to me!" She shouted, pulling her hand away from mine as her eyes began to glow bright red. "Why are you ignoring me, Ash?"

"Kali, I-"

"You're always with Xion and he doesn't like me!" She argued as I caught on to the name we rarely ever spoke of. "This is supposed to be our day but you're not even here! Don't you get it, Ash? I don't want you to be with him! I want you to be with me! Why can't you see that I am capable of providing what he can! I can do everything he can and I can do it better than him! I'm better than him!" Her last words took on the voice of her animal, powerful enough to shake our bedroom a bit.

I sighed softly, watching as tears began streaming down her face.

She was as angry as she was all those years ago. Just thinking back on Xion made me cringe but it started to look as though she was going to have to finish what was left of her episode.

"Forget it." Kali said with gentle words as she began wiping her tears away. "Maybe you're right. Michael's daughter shouldn't be here with someone like me. I obviously don't know what I was thinking but I'm staying for the gathering. You should just go back home to your boyfriend before he comes over here looking for you."

Deciding how to confront her wasn't the easiest thing to do. Though she may not have been human, Kaliska was full of life and she definitely wasn't afraid to speak her mind, but I bit my bottom lip to keep from saying anything... just like I did all those years ago.

"Right," She scoffed at my silence and nodded. "I had a really good time," She commented with a sarcastic enthusiasm and forced smile.

In an awkward motion, Kali turned away from me and set off towards the exit of our shared apartment without another word. Her departure had no grace or even the slightest care in the world, and it was heartbreaking to see her beautiful soul move like a zombie.

"You know, I never cared about who was better than who." I said at regular volume, knowing that she would hear me because she was always listening.

Kali suddenly came to a halt, not taking a single step further.

"I don't know why either of you cared so much about who was better," I clarified. "You were both wrong to think I was seriously invested in someone who could provide more than the other. All of your idiotic competitions meant absolutely nothing to me. I've always been perfectly capable of providing for myself. In fact, I'd been doing it since before my father created either of you and I lived that way before you both started the feud between your families."

I watched as the creature slowly began to bounce on her feet again, regaining her lively composure. Her body was swaying left to right as if she were trying to decide whether she should turn around or not. After a few more seconds had passed, Kali did a complete spin in place and began gracefully moving back towards me.

She moved within proximity as her hand magnetically took mine and entwined our fingers together. Her once free hand had taken position on my cheek before I found myself unable to say anything. Her lips immediately captured mine.

"I don't care if you're capable of providing for yourself," She said in-between short, sweet kisses. "I don't give a damn how you feel about entering the Colosseum. You're wrong if you think you're not going to walk inside with me because, like it or not, you are going in with me. I'm the alpha, not you, which means you are my guest and if I want to have my way with you in front of all of them," Her lips suddenly curled into a mischievous smile, "you will let me without question."

"Of course," I brushed the back of my fingers against her cheek, "but Kali, we're not at the Colosseum."

"What?" Her eyes suddenly flashed blue. Panicked by my words, Kali began to look at our surroundings frantically. "Where are-?"

"That day at the colosseum was many lifetimes ago," Her eye color began shifting between blue and red as I kept my hand on her cheek, trying to bring her out of the past. "Everything you're saying, this is the same argument we had about Xion. We fought that morning because you were so upset that I wouldn't leave him, so much that you took it upon yourself and tried to tell him the truth about our affair in the following weeks, remember?"

"Yeah," She whispered insecurely as her eyes began maintaining their beautiful bright blue color. "You begged me not to say a word because you knew what would happen if he had found out. When I told him I loved you, he was so furious that he-"

"Please don't think about that," I grabbed a firm hold of her chin and forced to her to meet my gaze. The last thing we needed was for her to lose control over something that happened so long ago. "That past is no longer our concern. Focus on me, ok? Can you do that for me right now?"

"Yes," She nodded more assertively this time.

"Good," I leaned forward, kissing her cheek gently. "If returning home will bring you peace, then we'll return home at once."

"We probably shouldn't," She argued with a weak voice. "I love you, and if you don't want to go home then we don't have to."

"This is not up for debate," I silenced her and it seemed to rebuild her confidence in a matter of seconds as she become more attentive. "Everything that's happened these last few weeks are my fault, Kali. I left before the fire was even put out and you chased after me. You took care of me while I was hurting, now let me take care of you, rabbit."

"Ok," A smile spread across her lips.


Submitted: February 04, 2016

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