The Monster in the Woods
It was the third bar in two days and his fifth drink too many as he continued to waste his life away with cheap alcohol and even cheaper women. Nothing new and nothing out of the ordinary. He definitely didn't think that it would be the day his life changed forever.
He slammed his cup back against the counter as he demanded heatedly at the unfortunate bartender, "Vodka," and he wasn't slurring. Why wasn't he slurring?
"Hey man, I think it would be wise if you cooled it for a while," the bartender advised friendly as he nervously grabbed the cup off the counter.
Well, too bad for that guy because if he wanted friends he most definitely wouldn't be there, getting a solid buzz from who knows what anymore. He's literally drank anything and everything on the shelf and the twitch located directly under his left eye was still there. So, no, forgive him if he was in such a sour mood.
The bartender hadn't even seen the hand until it was clamped firmly around his throat, entire body forced down over the counter until the two were eye to eye. The stranger's cold green eyes burning into the bartender's murderously.
"Vodka, now," he growled, hand relaxing enough so the poor bartender could lean back sputtering indigently as he scrambled to retrieve the man his beverage. Whenever he went to snatch it from the shaking man's grasp though, another hand- small and pale- stopped him with a firm grasp around his wrist.
And the voice was male, a boy still reaching the peak of manhood. The eyes, though, were dark and clouded over with a haunted past. The same eyes that shifted over to the not nearly drunk enough man unconcernedly.
"Got a problem?" the man demanded, voice incredulous as he glared down at the boy.
If only looks could kill…
"Yeah. You're completely wasted. Go home," the boy growled out, tossing the glass full of precious vodka against the wall. It shattered in a pattern of broken glass and wasted liquor.
And that, the boy was soon to find out, was his biggest mistake.
The man stood up, rising to his towering 6'10'' stature as he glared down at the youth. His eyes were beyond rage now, a cold withering look as destructive as frostbite. The boy didn't waver though, he straightened his back and stood his ground, face concealed behind the white scarf wrapped around his head and draped over his shoulder like a lazy hood.
"You shouldn't have done that," the man laughed humorlessly, eyes turning to slits and fingernails sharpening into lethal claws.
The kid noted these changes serenely, before focusing back at his newest threat. Dark eyes narrowed as long slender fingers twitched at his sides.
"If you're looking for a fight, keep searching. Preferably one you have a chance of winning," the kid finally just shrugged, tossing the words over his shoulder as he went to leave.
And the man had heard enough; he attacked.
Stronger than a locomotive; more destructive than an atomic bomb, that's how he's been described before. By the ones who fear and hate him, as they should.
Still, as fast as he was nothing could compare to how quick the boy moved. And the kid's senses had to be sharp as he didn't even turn around, was just suddenly facing him as he ducked to dodge the swiping claws that would have landed a fatal blow if it managed to strike him.
Green eyes widened in shock as the kid saluted him with two fingers as he slid, almost in slow motion, underneath his legs. Then a bare foot was connected with his butt and he was sprawling unceremoniously out the door and on the ground outside.
"I warned you," the kid's smug voice sighed as he casually strolled out of the bar rubbing his thin wrists delicately while flexing his fingers testily, "Try picking a fight sober next time."
"I'll kill you," the man just growled from his spot on the ground, glaring daggers up at the kid.
The kid just snorted, smug smile crossing his features as he replied, "More determined than you have tried, my friend."
"You. Are. Not. My friend!" the man screamed as he charged forward, claws swiping at the boy's stomach this time.
The kid easily sidestepped him though, hands reaching out to grab onto the man's much thicker arms to yank them around to his back and holding it there tightly.
"Has anyone ever told you that an easily provoked temper is a losing temper?" the boy inquired innocently, no doubt batting big brown eyes down at him.
The man growled as he shifted under the kid's hold; the kid might not look like much but he was strong. He just so happened to be stronger, even drunk.
He flung the kid over his head, watching as the boy landed gracefully in front of him, one knee bent as the other stretched out. Fingertips landed in the dirt, keeping the kid steady.
Whenever the boy glanced back up, he was smiling broadly. Like this was all just a game to him.
Well, the man was tired of playing.
He charged again, the kid already moving again so he was swiping empty air. This time, though, all the alcohol must have finally caught up to him as the world was tilting and blurring dangerously. When he managed to regain his footing, the kid was leaning against a pole watching with an amused sort of smirk.
"Had enough?" he asked as innocently as a 14-year-old kid fighting a cranky drunk stranger could.
The man rose to his feet, spitting on the ground as he repositioned his body. The kid let out a mockery sigh as he shook his head sympathetically.
"When do they ever learn to quit while they're ahead?" he muttered before flexing his fingers again, this time a wicked looking blade appearing in his hands. It was curved with something akin to teeth attached to its side.
"What- how?" the man sputtered before narrowing his eyes and growling, "Nice party trick."
"Thanks," the boy replied as he casually spun the thing around in his hands before the blade stopped and the boy was readying himself for a fight, "Now let me show you how the big boys party."
The man charged, intent on at least scraping the kid at this point.
He didn't but that fancy little blade the kid wielded sure hurt like the dickens when it barely scratched his arm.
A howl unlike any he's ever uttered escaped his lips as he collapsed on his knees, arms shaking as he doubled over. His eyes returned to normal and even the claws seemed to retract. He heard the soft padding of bare feet come up beside him- close enough so the kid's next words could be heard yet far enough that the man would be unable to hurt him if he tried.
"Told ya," the kid sighed bending down at his knees, blade casually dangling in his grip, "More determined than you have tried."
And now his blood was boiling but he couldn't bring his body to obey. Everything was swirling around in one crazy mess of color and noise. The kid went to stand up, but the man's voice had him halting in the streets.
"Who are you?"
A pause and then-
"I only tell my name to my friends."
Then Hyde passed out in the middle of the streets.
Needless to say, Hyde was shocked whenever he woke up in a bed with the kid eyeing him strangely from the chair pulled up to the side. He was smirking when green eyes suddenly focused on him though.
"For a man so feared, you can't hold your alcohol very well," he noted as he straightened up in the chair, stretching thin arms above his head as a rather large yawn escaped his small face.
"What are you?" the man asked as he narrowed his eyes suspiciously, something heavy and damp drooping on his forehead. Upon further inspection, he discovered it to be a wet washcloth placed by, most likely, the youth in front of him.
"Others are quite fond of the name Seiten Taisei," the boy shrugged as if he wasn't admitting to being one of the most dangerous and powerful creatures known to all of mankind.
"Funny," Hyde just snorted as he sat up in the bed, "You don't exactly strike me as the Chinese type."
"How racist of you," the boy reprimanded like his mother used to before she had been murdered for protecting him, "and, for your information, I lived in Chikina Village for four years."
"That where you got your nickname?" Hyde continued to prod in an uninterested tone as he desperately gazed around the room for something to drink.
A water bottle connected with his head along with a serious frown that just seemed utterly wrong on the kid's face.
"That's where I got a lot of things," the kid replied cryptically before rising from the chair to head towards the door, "I'm glad to see you're feeling better so I'll just be taking my leave…"
And Hyde suddenly didn't want him to go.
Call him weak or soft, he was just tired of feeling alone. Of knowing, no matter where he went, he knew he was going to be viewed as a monster. This child didn't look at him that way, though, not even remotely.
"Wait!" he called after the kid's retreating form but was too late.
The door burst open and several men dressed as white knights barged in, one impaling the kid in the stomach with their sword. The kid tumbled to his knees, suddenly weak with fatigue as small hands clutched the hilt buried in his gut.
It had been a cheap shot and everyone in that room knew that. And if it was one thing Hyde hated, it was cheap shots.
He hadn't even been aware of leaping from the bed before he had the guy who impaled the kid pressed against the wall, snarling in his face. And something must have set the guy off that he was dangerous because he was suddenly quaking in fear.
"Please, don't," the man begged and Hyde didn't even have to know this guy to decide that he hated him.
Weak withering scum of the earth that would strike a kid distracted by an obviously ill drunkard. A very dangerous ill drunkard at that. And one who didn't have time to deal with such pathetic excuses of human beings.
"Leave," he growled in a voice that informed him he was barely on the verge of his humanity, "Leave and never, ever, come near me or that kid again."
Then he was releasing the petrified man to tend to the still bleeding kid. The sword had been removed and was lying beside the kid's leg as he watched with glazed dark eyes, panting for breath.
"You… shouldn't… have done… that," the kid gasped as, painstakingly slow, his wound healed over.
"I know," Hyde reassured, large hands reaching up to cup the kid's face in a strange act of gentleness, "but I suppose we all do things we probably shouldn't do. Besides, the guy was nothing but a weak withering sack of bones."
The kid snorted before it turned into a tight grimace of pain as he clutched tighter to the wound on his abdomen. Hyde quickly swooped him up in strong arms as he went to lay him on the bed he had occupied several minutes earlier.
"You sure… showed him," the kid panted as he gazed up at Hyde, genuine smile crossing his lips, "Thanks."
"No problem," Hyde nodded as he rose to fetch something to stop the bleeding. A small hand suddenly enclosed itself around his sleeve so Hyde stopped in his tracks.
"I'm Cal. You asked earlier," the kid gasped, face ashen and pale but the wound was no longer bleeding and appeared to be healing rather quickly.
Hyde, to say the least, was shocked before a gentle smile so unlike him crossed his lips as he gave the boy a curt nod. And when he opened his mouth to speak, it was like sealing away his life to this youth that was so unlike anything he's ever encountered before.
[4 years later]
Cal plopped down beside the miserable Hyde, stretching long skinny legs in front of him as his older companion scooted closer to the fire in his desperate search of its warmth.
"Whelp, it's decided. We're officially lost," the kid sighed unhelpfully as he glanced over at Hyde, who was currently busying himself by rubbing his hands in front of the flickering flame they called their fire.
"And whose fault is that?" Hyde sneered, grouchy and buried very deep in his foul mood thanks to the snowstorm currently blowing around them.
Cal grinned that stupid grin of his. The one that revealed too many teeth and didn't quite reach his always twinkling brown eyes.
"I dunno," the kid feigned innocence, "Who trusted who on receiving instructions?"
"You're an idiot," Hyde snarled now, officially, without a doubt, 100% miserable.
"Aw, you don't mean that," Cal giggled as he reclined his head towards his friend before focusing back on the fire, "Besides, I could just-"
"Don't. Even. Think. About. It," Hyde growled, puncturing each word with a sharp pause.
Cal stuck his bottom lip out in a small pout as he whined, "Not even a little?"
"Not even slightly. It's cold enough without you going around making a bad situation worse," Hyde ground out, returning back to the comforting warmth of the fire in front of him. He felt rather than heard or saw Cal come to stand beside him, eyes widened in that innocent way only Cal could pull off.
"That's how you think of me?" he asked in that way Cal just knew was pushing Hyde's buttons. Add that to the fact that the cold never appeared to bother him had Hyde's head pulsing in the beginning stages of a headache specifically created from- and only from- Cal.
"Yes, now go over there," he growled as he shoved the youth away from him.
If he was honest with himself though, he wouldn't want Cal to venture off too far especially where Hyde could no longer sense him. There's no telling what's lurking in these shadows and he doesn't really want to explore a life without Cal just yet. After all, the kid had saved him from himself four years ago and had remained stubbornly by his side ever since.
Four long stubborn years.
But he digresses, as the kid certainly made his life livelier. If anything, he's definitely made it more exciting considering he hadn't been kidding whenever he told him that he was Seiten Taisei. And, quite literally, everything either wanted to kill or obtain the Seiten Taisei, which kind of sucked for them because Hyde wasn't prone to sharing.
Out of the corner of his eye, he watched as Cal plopped down on the log not so far away. He was grinning again, white scarf wrapped around his head concealing unruly brown hair. He lifted up a stick from the ground and started scratching in the frozen dirt.
"So the plan is just to sit here until you freeze to death?" he finally spoke again, growing bored at whatever he was scratching out and, instead, gracefully spinning the stick in his long nimble fingers.
"Shut up Cal," Hyde growled again, scooting closer to the flames.
The kid was right though. The storm was only going to get worst and it was only a matter of time before he froze completely. But, darn it, he hates it whenever the kid was right.
"Well then, what do you suggest," Hyde snarled after a pause, green eyes burning as they turned to the obviously bored Cal.
The kid (teen rather but he'll always be a kid to Hyde- a very stupid kid) just grinned brightly, a mischief glint entering his dark eyes that made Hyde question his sanity. Oh why, in all that was pure and holy, did he just ask Cal that?
"The cold obviously doesn't bother me so we could cuddle and share-"
"No," Hyde snapped, returning his attention to the fire; the kid's soft chuckle could be heard from beside him.
"Alright, Mister Grumbles," Cal snorted as he rose back to his feet and sauntered back over to Hyde, "How about I-"
"But you haven't even heard what I had to say!" Cal protested as he crossed skinny arms over his chest and stuck out his bottom lip in a pout.
"Doesn't matter. I know I won't like whatever comes out of your mouth," Hyde growled, hunkering closer to the fire.
He didn't see it but he knew Cal rolled his eyes as the kid crouched down beside him again. His baggy white pants bunched up around the kid's wiry muscles. His monkey toes scrunched up, gripping the frozen earth in that odd Cal way of his.
"How are you going to ask what I suggested and not even bother to listen to what I have to say?" Cal sang as he reached over to poke his friend's much larger bicep.
"Make no mistake, Cal, I will kill you," Hyde growled, the cold making his usually short temper flare dangerously.
Cal, who was used to Hyde's usually grumpy empty threats, just rolled his eyes again as he replied perkily, "I think we both know that's a lie. If you wanted to kill me then I'd already be dead."
Which was probably true.
The kid might have sprouted up like weed these past four years, his limbs growing unnaturally long so he stood at a solid 5'7"- it was really nothing compared to Hyde's 6'10".
And, much like his stature, the kid's skills have grown immensely. He was now much quicker, which was kind of frightening all things considered, and skilled with those fancy weapons of his. As great as the kid might be getting though, Hyde's Hyde and is much larger and stronger than Cal, no matter what the kid might like to think.
So, if it ever came down to it, Hyde could probably wipe the floor with Cal. He probably won't ever try but he could, if needed.
"Okay, why don't we just seek shelter until the storm blows over," Cal finally snorted earning, yet again, another murderous look from Hyde.
"If I knew of some sort of shelter do you honestly think I'd be sitting here, freezing my tail off?" he growled and Cal gave him another incredulous look as his eyes shifted down to Hyde's lower region.
"You have a tail?" he asked and Hyde was dangerously close to swiping at the kid now but Cal was already continuing before he had a chance to answer, "And, for your information Mister, I found a cave several miles back. It's cramped but should work for tonight."
And that was it. Hyde snapped.
He pounced on the unsuspecting youth, hands wrapped around Cal's neck as claws dug dangerously into the skin. The scarf fell away from his head, laying against the ground limply. Hyde just pressed down, Cal's head burrowing further in the snow and dirt.
"And why, pray tell, are you just now informing me of this?" he demanded, voice a throaty growl as green eyes burned angrily.
"Chill…" Cal gasped, eyes narrowed stubbornly and unafraid as he wiggled uncomfortably, "I just… discovered… it."
Hyde relaxed fractionally, leaning backwards as he continued to gaze down at his peeved friend. Cal just rubbed his neck delicately as he glared up at Hyde, small cuts Hyde's nails made already healing.
"Are you done now, overgrown baby?" Cal snapped annoyed, "Because, if you are, let's go find that cave."
Hyde motioned for him to lead the way and after several long minutes of stumbling around in the snow storm, they finally arrived at a tiny cave big enough for one person.
"This it?" Hyde asked, teeth chattering and goose bumps dancing across tan skin.
"This is it," Cal gleamed brightly, face practically glowing in pride upon his discovery.
"It'll suffice," Hyde snorted as he climbed under the shelter.
Whenever Cal went to snuggle up next to him, however, Hyde was shoving him back out in the storm. Cal stumbled before turning big eyes on Hyde, comfortably cramped in the small overhanging.
"Sorry. Not enough space," Hyde shrugged, earning a serious look from Cal before the kid moved to sit guard outside. He drew long skinny legs up to his chest as dark eyes gazed out into the blinding whiteness pressing all around them.
"Do you think the storm will last long?" he asked, voice uncharacteristically childish.
Hyde blinked at him before snorting, rolling over so his back faced the youth as he muttered, "Don't know and no sense in pondering it. Might as well get some sleep."
Cal didn't respond but he imagined the kid nodded.
It didn't take much longer after that for Hyde to quickly follow his own advice.
When Hyde woke back up, he was aware of two things simultaneously. The first was that the storm had stopped and the world was now blanketed in a beautiful white quilt; the second was that Cal was gone.
"Cal!" he called from his cramp spot squished against the wall. Maybe the kid was just lurking somewhere out of sight.
But there was no answer and it wouldn't be the first time someone's tried to attack them while they were sleeping. And if Cal had gotten himself taken (not killed because that was just not an option) then Hyde swears he'll kill the youth himself. Not before he destroys everyone dumb enough to try and take the kid first though.
"Cal!" he shouted again, stubbornly refusing to allow the panic to enter his voice as he wiggled free from the cave, "Cal!"
There was no sign of the youth outside either. The snow covering any tracks that might have been made in the middle of the night.
This was bad. Especially considering if he let the kid sleep in the cave with him then he probably wouldn't be missing. And if anything happened to the kid… let's just say Hyde wouldn't be responsible for what would happen next.
"Cal! Answer me right this second! Cal!"
And the fact that he was so utterly alone in the middle of the woods with any traces of footsteps gone was enough to drive Hyde on the edge of insanity. Cal and his captors could be anywhere by now, and he didn't even know where to start looking.
He picked a direction and started towards it.
He hadn't even taken three steps, though, when there was a crash in the forest and a figure came barreling through the thicket. Hyde hadn't even thought, just reacted. And the poor unfortunate figure was suddenly being slammed against a tree before recognition could strike Hyde.
"Calm down. Jeez. What's gotten into you?" Cal demanded hotly as Hyde released his friend shakily, who he had been so sure was kidnapped sometime over the night.
And then the shock was replaced with anger, burning red hot anger that clouded over Hyde's relief upon the fact that Cal was okay and relatively unharmed (his claws scraped up his skin pretty badly and was taking its sweet time healing).
"What's wrong with me?! What's wrong with you?! I thought something bad had happened to you!" Hyde shouted as the familiar sensation of anger took over.
Cal matched his glare with a pretty impressive one of his own before Hyde's words must have finally struck as he blinked before lowering his head remorsefully.
"Sorry," he muttered softly, "I honestly didn't think you'd be awake and you looked so cute sleeping, I didn't want to disturb you."
And, just like that, Hyde's anger was quickly dissipating replaced by an overwhelming sense of relief that left him unsure rather he wanted to attack Cal again for being so thoughtless or swooping him in a bone crushing hug and never let go.
He decided upon neither, and instead set a large hand on the boy's shoulder as he reassured softly, "It's alright. Just… try not to be so thoughtless."
Cal blinked again before nodding.
Hyde finally allowed himself to relax before something occurred to him and he couldn't help but ask, "What had you drifting off, anyways?"
Cal's face suddenly got a glossed over serious look as he murmured, face pointed slightly upwards, "The trees were crying."
Which, surprising enough, wasn't the weirdest thing the kid's ever said.
"Alright, I'll bite," Hyde sighed as he too gazed up at the surrounding trees, not able to hear anything at all, "what were they crying about?"
Cal's dark eyes focused on him, oddly serious as he explained, "Something terrible happened in these woods last night while we were sleeping. Something very, very bad."
Surely they would have known if anything had happened in these woods last night, especially something bad. Apparently not.
Cal's eyes narrowed in intense concentration before he murmured, "A monster had lost control, killing a tribe of locals. Slaughtered all of them, leaving no survivors."
"Cal, we didn't hear anything last night," Hyde reminded in denial because surely something would have at least tipped them off that an entire tribe of people were suddenly being murdered.
Cal just frowned though as he replied, "I think the storm covered it up. Last night, we were completely blind like everything else was. The trees hadn't even known about the murders until this morning, when their weeping woke me up."
"And you just ventured off while there was a monster on the loose?" Hyde demanded, anger suddenly returning to his system. He swears, Cal could be so thoughtless.
"I hadn't known at the time," Cal shook his head, "I just followed the weeping. Hyde, it was awful. All those people just exposed and no one there to bury them."
And, what had to be done next came to him in a sudden exposure of pure, utter clarity. He reached out, large hand resting on the kid's shoulder again comfortingly.
So Cal did and nothing could have prepared Hyde for what was waiting for him.
The village had been burned to the ground, everything in complete ramshackle. Corpses were stern everywhere, sliced open in various gruesome ways. And Cal was right, not a single survivor could be seen nor heard.
"This wasn't just a mass murdering either," Cal spoke up from the shadows he lingered in, head bowed and back tense.
"This was a rampage," Hyde finished, sad eyes taking in the destroyed camp.
It was clear to him then that a true monster had done this. A monster probably still lurking in the shadows somewhere. A monster still in these very woods.
And that meant they were no longer alone.
They buried each and every one of the bodies in a separate grave, occupying the better part of their day. They didn't know any of their names though, so they just placed fairly large sized rocks in place of the headstones.
Cal was silent the entire time.
Cal who was eccentric and active in every little thing he did. Cal who was hardly ever sullen, always filling the silence with noise, was quiet. And that was more than enough to put Hyde back on edge.
"Come on," Hyde pressed gently, delicately like one would a traumatized child, as he came to stand beside Cal, still staring down at the lines of graves they created.
"Hyde," and the man hadn't expected the kid to speak but he had, successfully gaining Hyde's full attention, "If I ever lose control like this, I need you to promise me that you'll stop me. No matter what happens."
And, suddenly, Hyde's world was fracturing because there's no way the kid could be asking that of him. No way. Absolutely not.
"No, listen to me," Cal interrupted sharply, head bowed again and fists shaking at his side, "You have to promise me. Stop me at all costs if I ever lose control."
Hyde blinked before he nodded solemnly, "I will. You have my word."
Cal twisted his body so he could face him, tear tracks running down his face as he clarified, "That includes killing me if it came down to it."
And if Hyde thought he was on edge before, he was now teetering precariously at the end of a frayed rope. But this was Cal so he nodded, knowing he meant the next words with his entire being.
"I'll kill you if that's what's required," he reassured before adding, "I just need you to promise me one thing."
Cal blinked up at him, eyes wide, as he asked, "What?"
Hyde turned back towards the graves, green eyes taking in the sight sadly as the next words left his mouth almost automatically, "Don't ever make it required."
Beside him, Cal grew silent before that familiar grin of his returned and he nodded his head. When he spoke again, there was the usual lightness found in his tone.
They were still no closer to finding an exit to the never-ending rows of trees than they had been before. If anything, they were even more lost and the knowledge that a bloodthirsty monster lurking in the shadows didn't help much. Cal, at least, appeared to brighten back up as the day continued on. Hyde though, Hyde couldn't get Cal's request out from his head.
That includes killing me if it came down to it.
Is he capable of killing Cal, even if the kid lost it all completely and ventured so far off the deep end it required for Hyde to end his life? He didn't really want to be forced to find out.
It wasn't until the sun rose at its highest peak- when Cal suddenly stopped head tilted to the side as he scrunched his nose up in concentration- that Hyde focused back on the present. It was, Hyde knew, Cal's listening face.
"What is it?" Hyde hissed, immediately on alert claws coming out as he tensed his back in preparation for an attack.
"Shh," Cal snapped as he took a step forward, away from Hyde as he glanced around his surroundings in search for whatever he could hear. It was enough to put Hyde back on edge.
"Cal," he growled, stepping towards the boy but a firm hand raised in an obvious 'stop and shut up' motion had him quieting down.
None of it was helping Hyde's heightened senses that came only when they found themselves in some sort of peril, which is a lot more than he'd like for comfort.
Then Cal's face was brightening up and he was sprinting off in a random direction, surprising Hyde. Of all the stupid things the kid could do, he goes off running into the forest alone.
"Cal!" he snapped, hyper aware of the danger surrounding them, "Cal, get back here!"
The boy was sprinting off, leaving Hyde with no choice but to follow him through the dense forest. And the kid was quick, Hyde losing track of him four times. So they ran through the forest, Hyde chasing after the kid who, he's pretty sure, had finally lost it.
I swear, if you're running us into a trap I'll kill you myself.
He hadn't even noticed when Cal suddenly stopped, almost plowing over the kid. He just barely managed to re-gather his footing body hovering over the still excited looking Cal.
"Oh Hyde," he chirped excitedly, hands folding in front of his chest as he turned large brown eyes to him, "Can we go?"
"What?" Hyde asked as he looked into the clearing, head suddenly spinning in confusion.
Right dab in the middle of the forest stood several large circus tents.Start writing here ...