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    version 22: awakening


    GHAUL -- Year 209


    "(souls are not meant to live more than once — death was not meant to be temporary, and she is so sure that every time her heart starts to beat again that irreversible damage is further inflicted)" -- Anonya, written by Colby

    [private]  don't close the coffin yet; ryatah

    hangman hooded, softly swinging; don't close the coffin yet, I'm alive

    It makes no sense that he is irritable, but he is. It is something that snakes through his veins and bites at the back of his mind. It coils under the surface of his skin until he is stalking around Hyaline, watching the few horses that live here (he has no idea why) and noting that Ryatah is nowhere to be found.

    Perhaps it is the fact that somewhere in the deep black hole that is his consciousness, he knows he made a mistake. He hadn’t intended for the interaction with Agetta to go anywhere other than the fight that they both typically craved. He hadn’t intended for anything but a few snarls, thrown insults and split flesh.

    But it had.

    The fire and teeth and anger had morphed into something else completely different and he hadn’t exactly put a stop to it. In the throes of his fury, it had felt natural for the fight to become sex. It’d felt right.

    It was a mistake though. Perhaps the first time he’d felt that way about coupling.

    Agetta was more than just his old enemy. She was Ryatah’s friend. He and Ryatah had never discussed any kind of formalized relationship—in fact, the two of them had been more than glad to avoid the topic altogether—but that didn’t stop something like guilt from weighing on him. A line had been crossed.

    It was easier then to turn his guilt into frustration and irritation. Easier to deflect and stalk the land as a panther, growing more irritated the longer time past. When he finally does see her, beautiful in that painful way of hers—deceptive in the innocent tilt of her head—his mind roars, going blank.

    Mood black as his coat, he moves toward her, shifting at the last second.

    He stands slightly apart, sharp yellow gaze briefly over the swollen curve of her belly. It’s never bothered him to know that she has other trysts so he doesn’t quite understand the tightening in his chest when he realizes that she’s with child and that it’s not his own. His agitation grows and his smile is cruel.

    “Have fun out there?”

    His teeth are sharp when they show behind his velvet lips.

    [Image: atrox.png]

    now be defiant, the lion, give them the fight that will open their eyes

    “I know when you go
    down all your darkest roads
    I would have followed all the way
    to the graveyard.”
    She doesn’t feel like she had been gone long, but time had long since lost its relevance. She has been alive and dead and alive again too many times, an endless sick carousel, and it made it hard, sometimes, to accurately judge the passing of time.

    It was long enough, she realized, that her sides had already grown swollen with what she knows is Illum’s child by the time she returns. She was not a creature prone to regret, though,  and he was no exception. Her regrets extended only to herself, at the way she could not help but to break off another piece of herself, how he made it so easy to pretend there was something right with her when she knows everything is wrong.

    She isn’t sure why she had chosen this particular flirtation to fixate on—Illum was not the first, and likely not the last. There wasn’t a discernible reason for it to keep her away from Hyaline, and away from Atrox.

    Perhaps it was the way Illum called her angel, and she almost believed it.

    She didn’t stay with him, though. There was something about here that constantly pulled her back, some sort of strange magnetic pull that drew her back to Atrox. It was different from whatever inexplicable force tethered her to Carnage; he was like an addiction, one that she didn’t plan to quit. But Atrox almost felt like home, or as much as she would ever allow anyone to ever be.

    They were different, but both so tightly interwoven right into her veins and her bones that only they could sever it.

    When she sees Atrox stalking towards her in his panther form she instantly recognizes the tension that simmers beneath his infinitely black pelt, and she stops, uneasy. When he shifts back into himself steps from her she fights the urge to recoil back from the sharpness of his eyes and the calloused edge to his smile, because while it wasn’t uncommon for him to be irritated for one reason or another, this felt like something else entirely.

    “I guess so,” she answers him, afraid that no matter how she answered it would be the wrong way. With her head angled down, she is reluctant to meet his gaze, and she remains quiet as she tries to not wilt beneath his scrutinizing stare. He has never laid out any kind of boundaries – has never told her what was right, what was wrong, and he didn’t seem to mind when Echis was not his.

    It would not be the first time the rules were changed on her, though.

    The wind toys with the gilded feathers of her wings, lifts the light colored forelock that stirs beneath the soft amber glow of her halo, and finally she dares to say softly, tentatively, “You seem mad. Did I do something wrong?”

    hangman hooded, softly swinging; don't close the coffin yet, I'm alive

    That irritation continues to grow in the back of his mind. The storm cloud of emotions that towers above all else, thundering in his brain as he tries to make sense of it all. Why would it matter to him that she had a child with someone else? Why would he care when he had never cared before? He was too old, she was too old, to try and tie themselves down into a monogamous relationship again. That was for another life.

    He had no desire to let the lie of it lead him into the flood again.

    But here he is, glowering at the thought of it—rage snapping its jaws against the back of his mind as he turns all of his attention toward her flirtations instead of thinking about what he himself has done.

    “I don’t know, have you?” he snaps, teeth glinting behind his velvet lips. There is enough logic left in his nearly feral mind to know that he isn’t being fair, but the way she yields so softly to his temper only seems to stoke the flames higher. She should at least fight back, he thinks. At least stand him to the grossly unfair way he lashes out like this, but instead, all she does is look up him from behind her lashes.

    It was infuriating.

    Atrox’s tail flicks against his haunches as he fidgets, adjusting his weight. “Do I seem mad to you?” he asks, coming back to the question again. He takes a step in her direction, yellow eyes sharpening, the scar on his chest nearly throbbing with unspoken feeling. “I’m not,” he lies with a twist of his lips. Another step as he presses a cold kiss to her cheek—a dull thing. “I don’t have anything to be mad about, right?” 

    “I know when you go
    down all your darkest roads
    I would have followed all the way
    to the graveyard.”
    She is trying to understand what she did differently to make him angry. Her mind is racing, a frantic hum as it searches back through everything she has done recently, and how she could possibly remedy it. The need to please had been carved into the very marrow of her bones over a hundred years ago, back in the jungles of a land far from here.  It became such an intrinsic part of her that she wonders if it had always been there. It ate her alive from the inside out most days, because she was destined to tangle herself with men that would never be satisfied.

    It meant that she would give almost anything to avoid being looked at the way he is looking at her right now. Only a few could look at her like that and spark anxiety until she wants to crawl out of her skin, make her heart pulse in her throat, and the blood rush until she can hardly hear anything else around her.

    And of course, he is one of them.

    She had attached herself to him in a kind of unspoken agreement, and the idea of him being so thoroughly irritated with her was enough to send her spiraling.

    It doesn't occur to her that his anger could be a deflection. It doesn't occur to her to harden against his rage and demand to know why he is suddenly so furious.

    She doesn't let herself wilt any further, though. She stands, with her heart leaping into her throat when he steps forward, and then feeling it drop like a stone at the feel of his cold, impersonal kiss against her cheek. “No,” she says softly in response to his question again, her sable eyes finding the sharp yellow of his, searching for the answers she knows she isn't going to find. Her mind again settles on Illum, and how that is the only thing she can see that could have possibly angered him.

    There is a tense pause before she says cautiously, “I always come back, Atrox. You know I do.” She looks again at the hard lines of his handsome face, keeps herself from reaching out to touch his familiar jawline or the tension in his neck, and adds quietly, “But if you want me to stay in Hyaline, all you have to do is ask.”

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