I've never known how to be unafraid. I do know that being brave is doing something you're afraid to do. But I can't seem to do that either.
My small twelve year old hands tremble as I stare at the transparent figure before me. He looks like an ordinary man with a heroic job. Hues of yellow and black tint his thick and heavy clothing, clearly showing that he's a firefighter. Ash smears can still be seen on it, indicating that he must have died in one as well. The light on his helmet shines around the room, yet it casts no shadow whatsoever.
"You can see me can't you kid?" he kindly asks me.
Gray eyes stare at me and I let my own slate eyes stare right back, more out of fear to lose him from my sight. "Y-Yes." I lean back against my large pillow and pull my purple and black striped sheets up to my shoulders.
"Will you help me?" He stays at a distant, probably able to tell that I'm scared of him in general.
"I...I don't know if I can."
"Please...I just need you to give a message to my wife," he pleads with me.
Biting the inside of my cheek, I debate on how tedious this could be, especially for someone so young as me. I brush my fingers through the strands of smoky blue hair covering the right side of my face, while the rest is cut short at the nape of my neck. Opening my mouth to answer, I close it like a fish at the sight of a newcomer.
The obvious difference from the current spirit and the new guy is that the new guy...isn't foggy, but clear as the hands attached to my wrists. Fluffed out pink hair rests at his shoulders while calculating blue eyes seem locked onto me. Tight black jeans are latched to his hips by several red studded belts and a silky baby blue button-up shirt, with the last couple undone, hangs on his broad shoulders, hiding the muscles I'm sure rest on him. A frown slips onto his lips as he turns to the firefighter, obviously able to see him as well, "You need to leave. This one here is not going to assist anyone."
Wide and worried eyes give me a sparing glance before they fade away, leaving me alone with this intimidating man. "Who are you?" I ask, trying to sound somewhat tough, but probably failing.
"Dear sensitive child, my name is Marluxia. You're very own personal Guardian."
"You're my Guardian Angel? You don't look like one. Where are your wings?"
A smirk spreads across his countenance, reveling in the horror that appears on my own, "Oh I'm not your Guardian Angel, I'm your Guardian Demon," and a deep laughs echoes into my eardrums. Causing me to dive under the covers and cower for morning to hurry and come. Even though he never left...and probably never will.
I massage my temples before yawning into my cupped hands. Shrugging my thick gray hooded jacket on, I pull the hood up so that the white fur on the edges tickles my rosy cheeks. I push the door open with chilled fingertips and step out into the freezing air of Hollow Bastion.
What a name for a city that's almost winter all the way around save for a few months of spring. No heat ever really reaches this place. Almost as if all the activity that no one sees is sucking up all the heat, leaving us humans barely able to breathe.
As I make my slow way along the streets, not wanting to go back to my tiny apartment, I try to think of somewhere to go that's warm and that isn't highly populated. People pass by me one after another, but the same chill, that's not from the weather, stays upon me. The flash of pink that only I forever see, stays in my peripheral vision, at least until I'm alone.
Ever since that night seven years ago, I haven't been able to help crossover one spirit. Thanks to Marluxia forever looming over me, they stay away, not wanting to evoke his wrath. Not even those people I went to school with will stay by my side. If it wasn't for my job at the bookstore, that has recently been combined with a coffeehouse, I would be homeless along with friendless.
"No one will ever want to be around a freak like you, my dear Zexion." purrs the evil man striding beside me.
I hold my tongue and continue on my way, not wanting to look more out of place by a sudden scream to someone I know no one else can see.
Some people call it unlucky with all the things that happen to me. But I'm not unlucky. I'm just able to see this haunting thing that makes my life a living hell.
Chocolate hair hangs down to the Mother's waist in a tight yellow ponytail while bangs are swept to the left side of her face. Gentle brown eyes gaze upon her three year old son that is strapped into his car-seat in the back of the second row in the van. Misty blue eyes stare back at her, compelling her to get him out of the metal contraption. Mother simply smiles at her baby boy, the true only family that she has left besides her husband.
Having a child at eighteen and getting married to the man that was the cause can really make one an outcast of a family. This man isn't the one Mother had pictured to be her companion nor is he the ideal man. Sloppy and can't keep a stable job are his keywords, but Mother loves him nonetheless. She'll put up with the occasional yelling so she can survive on his weekly paychecks from random jobs, never asking what they are.
The sun hides behind the growing dark clouds, indicating the coming of either more snow, rain, or hail. Whichever happens to beat the other to the punch. But no matter what it is, Mother must hurry to the store to get items for dinner, or else Father might get angry. He expects warm food the second he waltzes in the door from another day of whatever he does.
She straightens her white blouse and pale blue skirt before sliding into the driver's seat of the tiny beat up rusted red Ford truck. Glancing into the rear-view mirror, she holds the smile for her three year old baby boy in his light blue jean overalls and plain white tee. The only thing keeping her going would be the coos and giggles coming from her child because at the ripe age of twenty-one, she's miserable.
Turning the key, it doesn't start. With a heavy sigh, she continues until the fuel ignites and she's backing out of the driveway and away from the two bedroom, one bath, run down house. The grass grows knee high and the paint chips away from the paneling. Inside the wallpaper is tinted yellow, and thankfully the floors are tiled, or else they'd be revolting. The young Mother dreams of a medium sized house where her child can grow up happily, yet every night when Father comes home, those dreams shatter until he leaves at the break of dawn.
Very few cars line the roads as Mother drives carefully to the grocery store in the middle of town. She rarely comes into the town of Hollow Bastion for she knows no one at all. Hollow Bastion is the town they moved to, to get a fresh start away from the glares and stares of the people she used to call friends. Even when she comes with her son to sell the small basket of odd flowers that she grows, no one converses with her. Sometimes she'll wish she did so she could let her boy get away for just a little while with the excuse of being babysat.
The light clicks down from green to red, sending it's hues through the thick rain splashing down from the sky above. Windshield whippers swish back and forth with the same rhythm as the truck idles in place for the light to signal green for go. Leaning back against the headrest, she let's her eyes drift shut for a split second with the image of her laughing child in her head.
But the image is broken as tormented cries ring in her eardrums. Turning in her seat, she sees the tears streaming down the cherubic face. Mother reaches her arm around the seat and lets her fingertips graze over his balled fist that bangs against his leg. "What's wrong sweetheart? Tell Mommy what's wrong?"
Sniffling through the sobs, the child points a wary finger to the right, where the seat rests empty. "There's a s-scary man."
"There's no one there sweetie." says Mother as she swivels back around in her seat. Seeing that it's her turn to cross the intersection, she moves her foot off the brake. Halfway to the other side of the road, the child screams at the top of his lungs. Mother's attention switches to the mirror to check on her son just as she's slammed against her door.
The airbag fails to release and her forehead smashes against the steering wheel, crimson oozing out of the gash on her temple. Glassy eyes attempt to focus as she fumbles to check on the child. Mother's mouth presses firmly together at the sight of glimmering blood running down her child's face from the slash moving from the tip of the right eyebrow to the bridge of his nose. Showing that he's okay, he attempts to reach out to grasp Mother, but can not. She extends her bloody fingers toward him and he wraps his around hers. "Be strong...for Mommy...okay Squall?"
More teardrops cascade from the corners of the young child's eyes as Mother's head leans on her arm and the edge of the seat, her hand slipping from his. "M-Mommy! Mommy wake up!"
"She'll never wake up. You're all alone now and mine for the plucking." states the voice of the man that no one but the child could see.
As men and women scurry over to the crash to try and get the wailing child out, he only screams more as the figure, as clear as day, chuckles at the fear on the child's face.
I bolt up out of bed and hold my face in my hands. Sweat sticks to my skin as it cools from the cool air drifting in from my open window. I brush away the chestnut hair that hangs over the sharpening angles of my face before rubbing at the back of my neck.
That dream again...no that nightmare where he haunts me. He'll never leave me alone at this rate. Wherever I go, he follows and where he follows, so does misfortune.
A flash of platinum long hair that falls below his waist appears in my sights. Relentless and cold blue-green orbs seem to materialize out of thin air, along with the rest of his body. Pitch black slacks are tied to his legs by a leather belt and matching leather straps on the thighs. A pale gray dress shirt sits comfortably underneath a flowing trench coat that matches his pants and boots. Fingerless gloved hands hang at his sides, all the more threatening. "I see you had that memory again."
"Leave me alone you Demon trash!"
"Shh, you would hate to wake up that Father of yours. He'd surely beat you senseless if you did."
Hugging my legs to my chest, I rest my head on my knees, showing all the weakness that is me. "Please leave me alone Sephiroth. Just one night's sleep...please?" I plead with a slight whine in my voice.
"Now if I did that, what kind of Guardian Demon would I be? Letting you recuperate is not in the job description." A door down the hall slams and I feel myself cower further into myself. "See what you've done Squall? He's coming for you now. All because you can't take the pain or the blame for your Mother's death."
Whispering into the material of the sweatpants, I mentally pray for Dad to keep walking to the bathroom next to my room. "It's not my fault...you did it...it's not my fault..."
The doorknob digs into the wall as Dad throws the door open. His slight scientist frame is all a ruse for the damage he can do to someone. Raven colored hair is pulled back out of his face and the glasses sit crooked on his nose, in front of those menacing empty dark eyes.
Sephiroth appears behind him and leans forward, whispering in his ear, "He woke you up Hojo. He should be punished for it. You're a man of science and he should cower and do everything that you say because you're the better person...He's the main reason Lucrecia is dead."
Stomping forward, Dad glares at me over the rims of his glasses, "Get up, now!" Knowing not to question or hesitate, I slip out from underneath the covers and stand up, keeping my eyes on my feet. "Go make me breakfast and if you screw it up again, you'll regret it. I was nice last time."
I calmly walk out of my bare bedroom that only holds a dresser, bed, table, and a petite closet. Once I turn the corner, I dash into the kitchen and rush through cooking his eggs. Not that I know how to cook them after sixteen years of living with him without Mom. Once done, I scrub the skillet clean and set his plate on the table. In no time at all, he strides into the tiny, yet clean kitchen and stares down at the eggs. Thankfully, Sephiroth is no where in sight. But that doesn't mean he's not here. I'm not a medium or a psychic so I can't see him all the time.
"These are no good!" The plate soars by my head and crashes into the cabinets to right of the sink, in the corner between the sink and stove.
Before I can blink, his fist slams into the side of my head, knocking me to the side and against the other counter. "Get the hell out of here! I don't want to see your face!"
Stumbling away from him, I hurry to my room and lock the door. I remind myself that it could have been worse if Sephiroth had been there. He plays off of Dad's emotions and fuels his anger and false belief that I'm the reason that Mom is dead, while in reality it is his own. She wouldn't have been out there that night if he wasn't such a complete control freak.
Leaning against the door, I slide down till I meet the floor. Letting my eyes drift shut I only pray that I'm kept safe at least for the night. Before letting sleep take hold of me once more, I lift my hand up and place it on the side of the head where he struck me. I force all my focus and energy on that one spot and within seconds the pain is gone.
All I've ever wanted is to have a friend that cares and wants to be there for me so I can do the same for them. But I can't seem to cross the chasm of hate, which these people put out, that surrounds me.
I'm eight years old and starting the third grade in a new school that's in this new town...Hollow Bastion. But I'm really not scared at all. I want to make new friends and maybe even tell them what I can do. Forest green eyes appear in front of me as Mom brushes my brown hair, that spikes every which way, with her fingers. "Now sweetie, it'll be okay."
"Mom calm down. It's only third grade. I'm going to make a ton of friends! See you after school!" I reassure her as I jump out of the car and make my way to the steps of the elementary school. I glance back once to see her push back her long spiraling milk chocolate hair. She gives me a smile before finally pulling away to get to work.
Why does she have to freak out so much? She knows that I'm...what was the word she used...oh yeah, empathic, so I'm obviously going to be freaked out if she is since I'm so close to her. My first year in public school and I hope I can keep my gift under control...
Taking a deep breath I look at the empty schoolyard. Mom got me here half an hour late because she got lost, but I don't mind. I don't mind having to go in alone either, I want to show how brave I can be.
As I take the first step, I look up at the doors to see a woman standing there, a woman that hadn't been there earlier. Short blonde hair barely touches her neck as two tresses stick up off her head and lean back toward the rest, almost looking like antennae. Electric emerald eyes shine as they lock onto my own bright cerulean eyes. Midnight leather pants, that are embroidered with tiny lightning bolts, cling to her slim legs and end at her matching boots. A similar black corset with yellow stitching strangles her torso while a stiff, short ebony jacket fans out around her ribcage.
"Who are you?" I demand, already knowing that she's not connected to the school nor is she human.
"Well hi there, my name's Larxene. I'm here to watch over you Sora. Now are you ready to go inside? I'll lead you to your homeroom."
"No thank you. I already know where I have to go."
I walk around her and into the the school. As my sneakers smack against the swept tile floors, I hear no other footsteps behind me, yet her presence never dissipates. As I reach the door that will lead to my homeroom, I feel her hand fall on my shoulder. I cock my head to the side to meet her eyes. "What?"
"Last chance squirt. You guarantee me that little soul of yours and I'll make sure that your life is the best yet. Anything you ask for and I'll get it for you."
Shrugging my shoulder, her hand falls away and I face the door, lifting my hand to the knob. "No. Mom told me that my soul is mine and that I shouldn't give it to any unless it's God. So go away, I have to go to class and make friends."
She scoffs at me, "Be that way. But you'll regret it and when you change your mind, I'll be waiting."
Opening the door, I catch the teacher's attention as I take the spot in front of the class. The kind lady smiles at me and gestures to the class, "Boys and girls, this is our new student, Sora Kaze. Why don't you tell us a bit about yourself?"
I want to make best friends and I don't want to keep secrets. Not anymore...not ever.
"I moved here from Twilight Town. I was home schooled because my mom didn't think people would understand my gift of empathy."
A child in the back raises his hand for the teacher's attention, "What's empathy?"
Staring wide-eyed at me, the woman leans against her desk, "It's where someone feels the emotions of someone else."
Whispers curse through the class and I feel the color drain from my face at the sight of Larxene speaking low to several of them. Taking a deep breath I turn to woman. "Where can I sit?" She shakily points to a seat in the far corner and I take it without complaint or hesitation.
My eyelashes graze over my cheeks as they flutter open. Staring at the ceiling, I can't help but sigh. Usually I'm waken up by my brother Roxas who was born a week after Dad died in that work accident and we had moved here to Hollow Bastion.
Due to the fact that I had outed myself out about my ability, I decided when Roxas was born, that I would help him excel in everything. I tutored him through all the classes that he had, had trouble with, all while keeping my own grades up. After graduating with honors, I started to work at a gas station to help pay bills and save up for college tuition for my younger brother.
This past year when he graduated early and was signed up for college in beautiful city of Destiny Islands, Mom died of a heart attack from all the stress of life, as well as the fact that she didn't take care of herself like she should have. Despite everything, I sent Roxas off to college and out of this tiny two bedroom one bath apartment. I earn enough money to pay the bills anyway. Unfortunately, I hadn't saved enough money to support Roxas' college costs completely but he continues to assure me that his job on the campus is amazing.
Swinging my legs over the lip of the small bed, I close my eyes and search the emotions around me that might not be my own. Larxene's sticks out. But she must not want to be seen just yet, for she doesn't come forward. Sadly, she keeps the other spirits away and all I want to be able to do is help them.
I move to my closet and pull out my work uniform. Mere ivory slacks and a matching collared shirt. After showering, I dress into the attire and as I'm tying the laces of my tennis shoes, Larxene appears leaning against the closet door. "What is it?"
"I just want to know how you've managed to keep a job this long. Usually someone figures out who you are and you're laid-off."
"I've kept my mouth shut and I do all I can to be-"
"Perfect. Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever you want to do. Haven't changed your mind yet have you?" I shake my head no. "That's a real shame. I could probably get you enough money to live comfortably for the rest of your life...along with money to walk your brother through all the schooling he wants."
"I don't want to listen to your bribery right now Larxene. I have to get to work."
Throwing my long, thick jacket on over my outfit, I rush out the door. The less time I spend around her, the better. She's one demon I'm sure is like no other. She acts kind now because she's offering again but I know she's getting impatient and that's when things get nasty. Those are the nights I stay far away from everything and hide in the park so all she can hurt is me.
Walking fast, on the verge of a jog, I make it to the gas station in record time. Yet, my optimism seems to melt away along with the heat in my body as I look through the windows and into the store. The boss towers above the current manager with Larxene grinning beside him.
I won't let her think that she's won this round. At least I know for a fact that not all demons can do that...only if they're powerful enough or if that's how they play their game. Others like to see their victims squirm.
The bell above the door frame chimes as I walk inside. The professional man turns to me with a sneer. He shoves his way past me and out the door without a word to me. I step up next to the boss I've come to know over the past few months and I can feel the pity, sympathy, and sorrow radiating off of him. Turning his back to me, he coughs to clear his throat. "I hate to be the one to tell you this Sora. The CEO has ordered your termination immediately. Your last paycheck is on the counter. You've been paid up to today. I'm sorry Sora. I don't know what happened just now."
"It's okay...I'll get another job." Stuffing the envelope in the inner pockets of my jacket, I head back home to look over the classified ads. The people on the sidewalk seem to part for me as I walk through the downtown area. Not even muggers or thugs will approach me, probably sensing the evil that hovers around me like my own personal black cloud.
Unlocking the door to my apartment, Larxene stares at me over the threshold. "I told you Sora. No one wants to hire or work with such a freak. You should just hand over that soul of yours now. I promise it won't hurt...too much." Her speech ends in a shrill laugh as she vanishes from my radar.
I stride straight to the kitchen and pull out the newspaper, determined to find something and show this demon wrong. To show her that I can do anything with the faith I hold in my body.
It's a shame that my faith isn't a device used to repel demons. No, it just attracts them. Yet I feel that faith crumpling slowly as the days wear on. Questions that I should never think are filling my head. I don't want to question God's will...I don't want to question anything...I just want to live a life of happiness with trials that don't involve a fallen angel's henchmen.
Flipping the pages, I feel my heart swell and the tears spill over the brims of my eyes. As I form myself into a ball on the wooden chair, I pray with everything that I have, that someone or something comes to help me...that it doesn't have to get rid of Larxene. It doesn't have to do much really. I just need a strength boost and I need it soon or I have a feeling that she's going to chisel me away bit by bit where I might just fall into the clutches of hell and won't ever be able to escape.
I just need someone I can talk to...