Her senses prickled a warning and she turned, fangs bared; a growl rising in her throat. Nothing moved in the trees behind her; though it still felt as if someone were watching her. Satisfied that nothing was there, she shoved the amulet into her back pack and began making her way towards the city. Wary of every little sound, her large black ears flicked to and fro; picking up on the sounds unseen.
The pale glow of the moon against the trees gave the landscape around her a sinister eerie feeling. Every shadow seemed to be alive and reaching for her. “Stop this. You’re a grown woman. I will not give in to the panic. I am not afraid of the dark, for I am the scariest thing out here.” She growled mentally to herself.
Forcing herself to calm, she nearly screamed when the figure stepped out from behind tree a couple feet in front her off her right side.
His face was hidden in shadow, and he stood close to six feet, virtually towering over her. He simply stood there watching her, waiting.
There was something very dark, dangerous and old about this creature. His posture and intensity spoke of a calm violence surrounding him. This was not a human being; this was something else entirely different. She tensed, her metal claws glinting in the moonlight as the trees swayed in the wind. A gust of wind blew from behind her, and she saw the predator take a breath, catching her scent on the wind. She growled a low menacing sound, but remained human.
“I’m going to need the amulet you found.”
His deep Scottish brogue carried across the stillness of the night; full of quiet authority. She knew within that moment that this creature was very, very old and very, very dangerous. If he wanted he could most likely explode into action and snap her in half. The stark realization was sobering.
“I don’t know what you mean.”
It took a deep amount of effort to keep her voice level and not let the fear show.
“The amulet you found in the Elvin oak tree. I’m going to need it back before they find it.”
“Who are they? What does it do?”
“You don’t need to know little human; just know that I need it back… to keep you safe.”
She stiffened; no one took anything from her without a fight, and her safety was her own responsibility, not some strangers. Forgetting her fear for a moment, she let her hackles rise and the anger wash over her.
“It’s mine now, I found it.” Her voice had gone low and dangerous. The creature chuckled, clearly amused with her reaction.
“I had forgotten how spirited some humans could be. I can sense your fire and passion. The fight that burns deep within your soul. It has been an eternity since I have seen that in humans.”
He began walking towards her, his duster moved with his graceful movements. She looked up into his face, still concealed in shadow and his presence rolled over her. Powerful, commanding, and dark; yet there was a deep sadness within his soul. A weariness that spoke of a long hard life.
“I’m not giving it up without a fight.”
Her voice shook on the last word, and she clenched her fists; hating to show even an ounce of fear in front of this dark stranger. She glared at him defiantly; the fire and fight burning deep within her eyes. He chuckled again and brushed his fingers across her cheek. Shocked by the contact, she stood there frozen, unable to move.
Up close, the aura of calm danger that surrounded him was much more powerful. In the light of the moon she could see the end marks of three scars that seeped down his chin to his neck and crawled down his shirt.
There was a quiet lethalness to his voice as he spoke; captivating and hypnotically deep, but it was his eyes that captured her attention most.
“No; I don’t think you will; and you would be quite the fighter. I still need that amulet though.”
He reached behind her intending to take it by force; when his eyes flew wide and he went down gasping. She had driven a punch straight into his solar plexus and brought her knee up at the same time, effectively dropping him to the ground.
Groaning slightly as he got to his feet, he looked around for the human woman but she had disappeared. The only sign she had left behind was a slight shaking of leaves and branches. He chuckled, more out of impression than pain; it was not often humans surprised him. He was impressed with the little wildcat. He melted into the shadows of the night, knowing he would see her again; though he feared their next meeting might not go as well.
JB knew the moment she crossed the outskirts into the city. Sending her a quick message, he returned to waiting for his most recent assignment. The old woman was lying in a hospital bed, with machines hooked up to monitor her heartbeat, vitals and fluid levels. JB could hear her heartbeat beating slowly, steadily pumping towards the end. Her daughter sat in the chair beside the bed, holding her frail hand and talking softly to her. Crooning about her life and how everyone loved her.
That was the thing about being dead; you had the patience to go with it. Nothing more than a shadow, he waited until the old woman closed her eyes, expelled her last breath and her heart gave its final thump. Laying his hand on the woman’s shoulder he severed the soul chain and sent her onto the next stage.
Eryn was back at her apartment when he saw her the next evening.
“Glad your back how was your trip?”
She was very quiet, watching him out of the corner of her eye while she chopped vegetables for the stir fry. “It was alright…”
“Hey, listen… I’m sorry for not coming to get you… I had… other things to do.”
“Its fine, I could look after myself anyway.”
“It’s not that; I know you’re capable of looking after yourself; it’s just…” He paused, a look of indecision on his face. “I wish I could be there … like how I used to be… as your partner.”
“You haven’t been there as my partner for a long time.”
“Three years is not a long time.”
“Remember what happened the last time we went on a mission together?”
Even though he seemed human now, a shadow would pass over his face and a darkness would come into his eyes.
He looked sad, and like he was trying to be human, she could see the struggle to remember what happened on the last mission; and yet at the same time he was trying to push those memories away. “He’s not human!” The voice of sane reasoning screamed across her consciousness. It was right though; JB wasn’t human anymore, he was death; a creature that took the souls of others.
“I remember; it was not pleasant.”
“You could have been there though.”
There was an underlying edge to her voice, a hurt look flashed in her eyes before it was gone and her face returned to calm impassiveness.
“I know, it’s just…. I have other…”
He left the sentence hanging, and shrugged. Her anger flared.
“Other what? Priorities? It’s more important to take care of other people and yet when I need you; you’re not there. You used to have my back and not abandon me.”
He looked away; not sure what to say because he knew she was right. She was his humanity; his link to the human world. When had she not become his priority? But she was passionate when she was angry, and lust burned in his groin for her.
“I’ve missed you; come on, let me make you feel better.”
He gave her a cheeky smile, trying for forgiveness. She growled low in her throat, a hint of fang in her sneer.
“You used to have my back. Do you even still love me?”
“I have something special planned for tonight. Come on, I want to show you something.”
He was either ignoring her or he hadn’t heard her, but either way she wasn’t going to let him change the subject.
“Well what do you expect? He sees you as nothing more than a power charge. Remember the last time he fucked you? You had nightmares for weeks, and not to mention he drains your life force. Wake up girl.”
The voice of reason hissed through her head.
“I don’t feel like getting drained tonight. Also, I won’t be home. Answer my question.”
Every muscle seemed coiled into a tight spring. He didn’t answer for a long time, staring off into space; his emotions crossing his face so quickly she couldn’t even read them coherently. Finally, he just looked down and spoke quietly.
“A part of me will always love you. You’re what keeps me human.”
“You haven’t been human since the day you died.”
He flinched; not expecting her anger, or understanding where it was coming from.
“I know I haven’t been the best partner, or the partner you need…”
“Your right, you haven’t been. You’ve never been there when I needed you most. Just… get out.”
“Why are you angry at me?””
“You abandoned me! You didn’t even try to look for me. You’re such a bastard.”
She was seething, and her fangs had extended. Her eyes blazed fury and she growled low. “Just leave. I told you before I don’t need or want your protection. I am quite capable of taking care of myself.”
His anger sparked, and the Reaper took control. His blue eyes became obliterated by the black, and he snarled. The air sizzled and electricity sparked through the air. “Don’t you know I need you?” He growled.
“Need me for what? Charging your powers?”
He didn’t deny it, and glared at her; his soulless eyes reflecting her image.
An angry woman, whose animal characteristics were showing through the human ones.
“Get out. I’m so tired of you thinking I belong to you; well news flash buddy, I don’t belong to anyone but myself. Now leave, and don’t come back.”
There would be no negotiating with her. She was serious; she was kicking him out again. And this time, he doubted he would be coming back. Resigned he let the human façade come back.
“Alright; I’m sorry for never being the partner you needed. I guess this means we’re over… Have a good night.”
She locked the door after him; sinking to her knees with her head in her hands. Outside her door, JB disappeared into the middle realm.