Chapter 19--Light in the Dark
You heard your mom call your name out lovingly, and you turned to see her off in the distance, by a set of gates. Happiness surged through your tired limbs as you ran towards her now, holding your arms out to embrace her, and you did, closing your eyes as you felt your mom wrap her arms around you in return.
"MOM!" you cried, sobbing in relief. "Oh man, I thought I would never see you again!"
"Look at you," you heard another voice say--another voice that made you cry so much more. Your father showed up by your mother's side with a kind smile.
"DAD!" you cried out as well, throwing your arms around him as well. "Oh my god. I missed you both!"
But suddenly the atmosphere changed. Before, you were standing on a set of golden clouds--suddenly you were surrounded with flames, and even worse, you were struggling to stay afloat in something thick and gross.
"Yes, you did," your dad suddenly...hissed.
You jerked your head to him, staring with wide eyes as you saw your parents turn into a pair of demons--black-winged demons with thin stringy arms, eyes glowing in an eerie yellow-green.
"Dad, what..." you faltered. "What happened?"
"You deserve to stay with us," your mom hissed, swooping down to meet your gaze. "Look at our daughter, dear. Don't you think she should stay with us as one happy family?"
"What happened to you?!" you cried, kicking your legs upwards to keep your head above the surface, but even that was not going well for you as you felt something pull down on your legs, sucking you back in.
"Dear, death has been an amazing experience," your father said, lifting your chin to his face with a wing. "We've been doing so well here. Why don't you join us? You have always wanted to see us again." He laughed. "Forget everything you ever had in the world above. Forget your new friends. Forget Hiro, your boyfriend. You want us, and now you have a chance to! Live with us, (Y/N), and we can all be together again!"
"Not like this!" you cried. "Let me go!"
"(Y/N), wasn't it your wish to see us again?" your mom asked softly. "If you die, we could all live as a family together, like the old days. That's what you wanted with me after your dad died. Wasn't it already too late for you to realize?"
You continued to struggle against the liquid dragging you down. "Look, I didn't want to see you like this. How could you guys just end my life like this? I don't want to die! I have friends now, okay? I have people out there who care for me! You are not my parents! You're just their spirits taken over from evil!"
"You really think so?" your dad whispered threateningly. "Well then, prepare yourself to die in the same way that I did, that your mom did, and you would be rightful to join us...in hell."
Then they disappeared, leaving you struggling in the substance that you now recognized as poison. Could it be the same one that Callaghan used to kill your dad?
Before you could answer that question, you heard a shrill scream echo through the air, and a million red-eyed eagles started to swoop down towards you with great speed, clawing at your flesh. You tried to find a way out, but you couldn't find a nearby rock, and you already felt yourself giving up.
You screamed as the eagles easily picked off your flesh like they were simply picking off the flesh of a fresh kill, the pain washing over you like tidal waves all over your body, over and over and over, the pain intensifying.
"NO!" you cried, looking down at what remained of your hands, your arms, your face. Then you looked down at your legs, which were starting to age and wither in the liquid. You screamed again as you stopped fighting, the poison finally covering your entire body...
"(Y/N)! Wake up! Wake up!"
You heard another distant voice now, but who it was, you couldn't tell.
"No!" you screamed, grabbing at your flesh, your hands flailing in the air, crying out once more before you felt arms grab you from behind.
"Wake up, please! It's just a nightmare!"
"Let me go!" you cried, struggling against the grasp before you heard the voice again, right by your ear.
"(Y/N)," the voice whispered. "It's me."
You finally opened your eyes, the scene of the nightmare finally dimming down to a black. Bright sunlight was streaming through the blinds and into your room, and you winced at the light piercing your eyes. You stopped struggling against the grip and turned towards the person holding on to you, surprised.
"(Y/N)," Hiro whispered. "Are you okay? It was another nightmare, wasn't it?"
You nodded, tears streaming down your face as you threw your arms around Hiro now, sobbing. Hiro said nothing for a bit as you cried it out, and he closed his eyes as he pulled you close to him, running a hand up and down your back, feeling your breaths shake through your entire body as the sobs just racked through your entire system.
"Shh..." Hiro whispered soothingly in your ear, wrapping his arms tighter than ever now around you. "It's all a nightmare. It'll be okay. You'll be okay. You're still here."
"But...my parents..." you managed to stutter out.
Suddenly, Hiro was alert. He let go of you and sat up in the bed now, and you did the same. "Tell me what happened. And take all the time you need."
You took a shaky breath, running a hand through your hair. "Well, it started out pretty nice. I saw my parents at the gates to what looked like heaven, and...for a moment...we were united. Then the scene changed. I was treading water now, except the water wasn't water...it was poison."
"Poison?" Hiro breathed softly.
You nodded. "It was very thick and gooey poison...and it kept dragging me down whenever I struggled. Then my parents started taunting me. I mean, they've changed appearances too--winged devils...black winged devils...with bright yellow glowing eyes...they said...horrible things..."
You felt the tears come back now, and you looked down, unsure of whether you should continue or not. However, you felt Hiro's hand take hold of your face, slowly lifting it up to his eyes. "What did they say?" he asked.
"They said...join them...we could live like a happy family again...but I refused...then they just said to ditch everyone I have ever known, even you...they just...said your name like...it was...poison on their tongues...and when I refused...a whole bunch of...black eagles...giant ones...lashed out at me...and then...I felt my bones...picked clean...the flesh was clawed away...and I was weak by then...and I sunk in the poison..."
Overwhelmed, you threw your arms around him again, and he slowly brought your legs over to him so you were somewhat sitting in his lap, your legs draping over his thighs.
"(Y/N), you're the strongest person I have ever met," Hiro murmured softly into your ear. "Your parents would never be like this. I promise you. It's just a nightmare..." His voice trailed off, unsure of what to say next. "Please don't give up just to join your parents. They would never be begging you to stay with them like this. If this isn't what you want, then why give in, right?"
"But the dark forces were strong," you recalled, envisioning the black eagles that clawed at your arms, your cheeks, tugged at your hair, even.
"So what? There are so many dark forces out there. There are so many people who hate you. But know this: amidst the dark, there would be a light to guide you."
You sniffled and removed your face from Hiro's neck, rubbing your nose. "You think so?"
Hiro nodded. "Absolutely. How else would I be able to move on since Tadashi disappeared on us? There are so many things we don't want to happen. But even as it happens, there would always be something good that would help you through."
You nodded. "For my dad's death, you were my guide. For my mom's death, both you and Melanie were. And then everyone else started to join in."
"That's it," Hiro smiled gently. "(Y/N), believe me when I say that there is absolutely nothing to worry about. Keep fighting for what you think is right. Maybe then, you would be able to find the positive light, and lead yourself away from those dark thoughts."
"It was a shame my mom never found that," you said. "That's why she killed herself."
It took you a bit of time to fully wipe the tears away, and then you looked at him sadly. "I'm sorry, Hiro."
"Sorry? What are you sorry for?" Hiro smiled as he rubbed his thumb over your cheek, careful not to damage your skin. "(Y/N), please, just listen to me. You will never be a burden to me. You're my girlfriend, remember? I'll always be here for you. I care for you."
You laughed. "If I constantly have to keep letting you remind me, you can stop being my boyfriend at any time."
"I won't do that," Hiro promised you. "I'll never break up with you." He proved that to you with a gentle kiss on the lips, which calmed you down and steadied your heart beat.
You smiled. "Thanks, Hiro."
Hiro smiled back. "Anything for you, (Y/N)."
You swung your legs off of his and stretched, taking a good glance at the clock. It was now past noon.
"Oh my god," you murmured. "Is it really that late?"
"Seems reasonable," Hiro said in his normal voice. "I mean, a 9 hour sleep is pretty optimal, especially for a guy like me."
You turned to him and grinned. "Really?"
"Hey! I need sleep too, you know!"
Laughing, you walked over to your closet and picked out a t-shirt, a faded denim jacket, and a pair of track pants. Then you remembered that Hiro came without a change of clothes, and you weren't sure what to do.
"Umm..." you mumbled, looking thoroughly at Hiro's current attire. "I have no idea what to do."
Hiro smiled sheepishly. "You won't mind me spending most of the day in this?"
You shook your head. "Better than strutting around in that super hero suit of yours, right?"
Hiro nodded in agreement. "Yeah, I guess."
You just exited to room to change when you saw Mr. Lacitier with a phone in hand.
"Hello, Mr. Lacitier," you said, waving to him.
"Glad to see you up, (Y/N)," he greeted you back, giving you a big hug. "Melanie wants to talk with you."
Suddenly attentive, you nodded as he gave you the phone, and you put it close by your ear.
"Hey Melanie," you said into the mouthpiece.
"(Y/N)!" you heard Melanie cry on the other end. "Oh my god, it's great to hear from you! I've got amazing news!"
"Well, my parents came over and they got to see Gisele, alright. And they just broke down, but they claimed her back all the same. Said that she has to start school soon as well, but they'll get that arranged. We're all at home now, so...you feel like coming over any time soon? I heard Hiro's still with you, if you want to bring him along you can. My parents just want to get a chance to thank the both of you."
"Actually..." your voice trailed off as you tried to stifle a giggle, remembering that Hiro was still in a gym shirt and shorts. "You mind giving Aunt Cass a call? It seems to me that Hiro needs a change of clothes."
"Not at all! I'll let her know."
"No problem. See you soon!"
The two of you hung up, and then you turned to Mr. Lacitier.
"Hey, Melanie actually wanted me to go over to her house later today," you told him. "You don't mind me going? It hopefully won't take long."
Mr. Lacitier smiled. "Of course not, (Y/N)! Take care of yourself."
"I will." You gave him a quick hug. "Just need to change my clothes and do the like, and I'll be set."
You quickly ran into the bathroom and changed your clothes, brushed your teeth, and then headed down as you grabbed a piece of toast and washed yourself an apple just as you saw Hiro run down the stairs and whip up a sandwich with you.
"I heard," Hiro smirked. "Melanie wants us over to her place?"
You nodded. "But before we do that, you need an actual change of clothes. I told Aunt Cass to drop your clothes off for you."
"Thank god," Hiro sighed a breath of relief. "I don't want to see Melanie's parents in this."
You laughed. "I'll admit it, you still look very handsome."
The conversation was suddenly interrupted when you heard a car horn honk.
"I'll get it," you called out, running to the door and opening it to see Aunt Cass holding up a bundle of clothes.
"Thank goodness you got home safe and sound!" Aunt Cass cried, giving you a big hug.
"Hey Aunt Cass," you greeted her. "Yeah. Hiro's here too."
"You didn't do anything rough?" she asked suspiciously.
You shook your head. "And even if he did, I wouldn't file that as sexual assault on a worker."
Aunt Cass laughed. "You say it. He is your boyfriend after all now."
You nodded. "Anyway, so are these Hiro's clothes?"
Aunt Cass nodded. "Get him changed. You don't want to keep Melanie waiting."
"Trust me, Aunt Cass, I won't," you promised her.
"Alright then. Take care! I'll see you tomorrow, okay? You get a day off today."
You couldn't believe your ears. A day off for you? Wow.
"Thanks Aunt Cass! See you tomorrow!" You waved to her as she walked back to her car, started the engine, and pulled away.