After just over a month, I give you- dun dun DUN DUN- more Arazel. *hides* This is part 5, by the by, in case you had lost track or just discovered it.I don't know what to say about this piece. OOCness, weird moodswings, and flashbacks ahoy! Oh, and SLASH. There is (just a little) SLASH, and now you can't say that I didn't warn you :) .His heart wasn't beating. Or, no, he realized, it *had* to be- it was just that it had been pounding so hard earlier that now he found the lack of sensation overwhelming. He sat cross-legged on the bed, the quilt drawn tightly around his shoulders. Exhausted, Arazel sank back into a state of subdued numbness, waiting for the girl in the business suit- the girl in the pink nightgown- to come back. Once he was calm again, she had said that it was about six a.m. and that she was going to go make tea. He felt as though he had lost his grasp on time, but he was too sick to reflect on it and too tired of himself to break down again. *At least,* he thought, *now I know what I've been missing.* It was a rather dismal joy- he had learned why he had been wandering the streets, but he had also lost control of older, more painful memories. Leaning back against the headboard, Arazel held the blanket with one hand as he reached for a romance novel that lay on the bedside table. *I spit on your love,* he thought tiredly, and immediately regretted it. Laying the book on his lap, he closed his eyes. *Green eyes met his on a winter afternoon, the softness of his orange sweater offset by the clingy roughness where the knit had shedded and balled. Pale, wind-chapped lips called his name over the wind- "Arazel!" The boy was laughing- *When was he ever not laughing for more than a second?*- as he leaned one bony shoulder against his. And then he was serious, his green eyes shaded in the fading light. "Thomas said that you're going away to fight... them." "Yeah." He tried to shrug it off. It wouldn't be his first time, after all- the first time as an actual military member. yes, but not as a fighter- or a commander. "When will you get your official orders?" "Not until summer, at the earliest." He didn't say anything more, just examined the long hand that had somehow managed to slip into his. Pale, gnawed half-moon fingernails twitched and glinted against his palm as the other boy turned to face him. "Don't die on me, okay?" And as he stared at him, Alex began to laugh again. "Just... don't." He didn’t even think about his response- he just nodded, and let Alex lead him wherever he wished. How could he have ever said no?* "I'm back!" Arazel blinked heavily as his host reentered the room, carefully balancing a tray with a pot of tea and two cups on it. "...Thanks," he said. "For everything, I mean." "Don't worry about it." She had a dimpled smile, he noticed, fixating on it for no reason other than that he didn't want to have to think about anything else. "I'm sorry; I missed your name." "It's Arazel." He waited for her to return the favor as he took the offered cup and blew on it gently. "Monica." She grinned, revealing deep dimples. "I'm not surprised that you don't remember. You seemed pretty out of it last night and this morning." Arazel nodded, and then took a deep breath. "I won't hurt you," he said bluntly. "I don't have that kind of power anymore. I used to, but I was stupid, and now it's gone." He watched her face carefully, but her smile never faltered. "Oh, I know that." He blinked. Why had she taken him in- off of the street, no less? Was she really that innocent, that fearless? Was she deranged, or even just plain stupid? Monica seemed to see his question in his face. "You don't look like a killer, you know. And, I think that I would have seen it in your eyes. I've never met anyone with golden eyes before, and I just can't believe that anyone with metallic eyes could be a killer." Arazel blinked again. What kind of drugs was she on? Suddenly, he realized that the book was still on his lap, and he moved it to avoid accidentally spilling any tea on it. "So you took me home... because I had nice eyes?" "No..." She sighed as if he were irreparably slow. "I took you home because you were being hit on by some weird-ass creeps. I believed then- and I still do- that you wouldn't murder me in my sleep because you have nice eyes." "Oh." That made sense, Arazel supposed. He didn't particularly feel like analyzing anything at six a.m. on a morning after a night of dreams that felt like reliving chunks of heaven and hell. Taking another sip, he thought about what he had learned of his sudden madness. *Green eyes...* Alex had had green eyes, but they were jade- nothing like the ghastly emerald that he had seen in the hotel room. But... Alex was the one who he had sworn to protect, who he had told that nothing would ever happen to him. In the end, he had lied, but still, at one time... he had really *believed*. Arazel resisted the urge to shake his head. *Was it a dream? Was it real? If it was, who was that? *What* was that? And how did it know that the twins would find me?* "Are you okay?" Monica came to stand beside him, holding her cup in her hands. "Yeah... I'm fine..." he answered slowly. She looked as if she didn't completely believe him and raised one eyebrow, but she didn't ask. "I think that you should at least be able to tell me *something*, since I took you in!" she said, putting her tea down on the bedside table beside the romance novel. "It's cold in here. I'm going to turn the heat up and light a fire in the main room, if that's all right with you." He nodded, and she grinned at him again before she left. *Fire...**That evening, not even Alex was laughing. A fire crackled in the grate, despite that it was midsummer, and he had yet to even mention it. They played chess in his chambers, the firelight and the moon glinting off of worn playing pieces and tired fingers. He often looked over the board at Alex, but he didn't say anything. It wasn't that he didn't have anything to say- it was just that he had already decided that peace would be a better memory than a conversation that really said nothing at all. It almost felt like it would have been a sin to disturb the silence. And it wasn't like Alex didn't know that he loved him- he had said that many, many times, both with his voice and with his body. Besides, it almost felt like saying it would make it official that either he wasn't going to come back at all, or he was going to come back very, very different. But then, that wasn't something that they talked about. It wasn't so much that he was planning on disappearing or dying as that it was a distinct possibility. Five hundred bird-siren troops, all under his command, marchingoff to face almost two thousand shadows and other evils on a wide green field under the summer sun. He would have the twins with him, of course, but that was only a superficial comfort. Abaddon had practically told him to bring back the moon, and by hell or high water, he was going to go and bring back the damn moon- and he was going to leave Alex behind to do it. When the game was over, Alex leaned over the board, pressing his lips against his love's. Too hot skin met too hot skin, the moistness of breath lingering against the uncomfortable truth of fragility. Sometimes, it was the only sentiment that they had- and it was becoming rarer and rarer, because he had started to refuse to let Alex share his bed. "When I come back," he had promised, resting his head on that paler shoulder. "I'll be waiting," Alex had said, his soft eyes tired and a little hurt, but still smiling. *He always believes everything that I tell him.* The thought brought him pain, but he wasn't sure why. The kiss ended, and he found that somehow his hand had come to dig into the skin of the other boy’s back, wanting and haunted, the gentleman's fingers callused from his sword and riding. Slowly, he drew back, knowing that he had already left bruises. He was disturbed to realize that he didn’t feel guilty, but somehow it also seemed like a perfectly normal epiphany "When I'm back," he promised again, and then tried for humor. "Do you want me to bring you back a coat too?" He regretted it when Alex didn't chuckle, but instead touched his shoulder gently. "If you die, I'll be very upset." His eyes were serious, but his mouth curved into a grin. "Very, very upset. Don't forget that, when you're out there." He tried to smile back, trying to let all of his love and his other feelings out without saying anything. From the look in the other boy’s eyes, he knew that he had been successful. And then suddenly Alex was gone and the door was closed again. He burned the chessboard in the fireplace (he had always hated playing the game with anyone but Alex, and they could always buy a new board when he came back) because he felt like there was simply nothing else left to do. The smoked wreathed around his face, and he breathed it in without hesitation. He wasn't smiling, but he hadn't expected to. An odd peace had descended over him- what would come would come, and that would be the ending- or the beginning- of it. This, after all, was just another ending with the same old tradition. Tomorrow, he would dress in his parade uniform and start over again, riding away with his people both at his back and overhead. The fire stung his eyes, making his face and his hands burn, and when it was all ash he went to bed. He didn't dream, and he was glad.*When Monica came back in, the temperature in the apartment had already gone up by several degrees. "So," she said, still cheerful but a bit cautious, "Are you going to tell me now?" Arazel met her gaze evenly, but her expression didn't waver. "What do you want to know?" "Well, we start with whoever- *whatever*- you were talking about this morning." The girl stretched out on the bed beside him, looking for all the world as if it were natural to lay down in a nightgown beside people who one picked put off the street. The curiosity in her eyes dared him to disagree, and he didn't take the challenge. *Who is this girl?* "I don't remember who I was talking about," he said, keeping his voice neutral. "Oh, but you must! Don’t play games with me." Her gaze branded him as her mouth smiled. “There was a Navia-“ "Nadia," Arazel corrected automatically, and then cursed silently to himself as her eyes lit up, appearing brighter than should have been humanly possible. "Nadia- see, you do remember! I never had any doubt that you did- and a Thomas, an Abaddon, and... an Alexis?” For once, her voice sounded unsure. Arazel tensed, trying to keep his breathing even. “Alex.” “Yeah. Him.” She rolled over onto her back. “Who is he? You talked about him a lot. Something about green eyes.” There was a kind of perverse pleasure in her grin, but he had to wonder if he had only imagined it when it suddenly disappeared. She seemed ready to say more, but the doorbell rang. Monica got up to answer it, patting his knee as she did so. “I’ll be back in a minute, okay?” Troubled at her change in personality and her permeating smile, Arazel rearranged himself on the bed and took another drink of now-cool tea. He listened with half an ear as she answered the door, but the voices were too distorted for him to make out any words. And then she came back into the room, her face serious and her eyes glimmering with fear. “Hey... Arazel?” The words seemed forced. “There’s someone here who says that he wants to talk to you.” He suddenly realized that she was trying not to cry. “... Monica?” She lunged at him, moving so quickly that it took him a second to register that she was clinging to his neck and trying to get behind him. “Stop it!” The feel of her fingers on his neck was searing his skin. She pulled his head down towards her mouth, stretching up as she whispered, “Arazel, he has evil eyes.” He started to say something, but the man at the door beat him to it, stepping over the threshold and into the room. “It’s nice to see you again, Arazel.” Arazel looked up as Monica whimpered. Violet eyes shined like an animal’s, lit from within, glared at him like chunks of purple ice. He stood up and reached out a hand to grasp the claws that were already extended towards him. “Go to hell, Raul.” And then, before the clock had even rung seven, the world exploded in a twist of sharp claws and, Arazel thought, surprisingly dark blood. The worst mistakes, he thought dully, are the ones that are realized too late.*I didn't know that he wanted to kill me too.* Feedback is always greatly appreciated!