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Back To (Ab)Normal
|“NO!” Chris woke up with a start, throwing off the covers that had been clinging to his body. He sat on his bed in the darkness, his breathing very shallow and difficult. With a shaking arm, he reached over to his bed stand where he had placed a tall glass of water before he had went to sleep and drank as much as he could in one gulp, letting out an explosive breath when he was finished. The nightmares had become a daily ritual for Chris now, so he always had things set up so he could wake up ready to fall back to sleep again.
Chris felt a twinge on his chest. Reaching up, he pressed against the skin with his hand, trying to find some trace of the cuts he had received just a week ago. He shuddered when the image of a dagger sinking into his heart flashed through his mind, quickly followed by Kou biting his head off. That didn’t really happen though. Mark and the others hadn’t really hurt him too much, and Kou didn’t even scratch him. Yet still the nightmare seemed to have taken a life of its own, changing that day’s events in the worst possible way.
“Maybe I should cut back on the cafeteria food.” Chris mumbled before he flopped back into bed and fell asleep as quickly as he had woken up.
* * *
“Morning Chris.” Mark said cheerfully.
“Morning.” Chris mumbled as he climbed the stairs up to the school entrance at a very slow pace.
“Another nightmare?” Mark asked, taking note of his friend’s lassitude.
Drowsily, Chris nodded. “I dreamt that you guys sunk your knives four inches into my body and made Kou bite my head off while I was still squirming.”
Mark laughed a bit weakly. “Ah, I’m really sorry Chris.”
“So you say over and over again.” Chris smiled ruefully as he climbed the last step and walked through the double doors to the school.
“Morning guys!” Lucas waved at they entered the hallways. Lucas said something briefly to his football buddies before he left them to join Chris and Mark. “Dude, you looked wasted Chris.”
“Thanks for reminding me.” Chris replied as they walked down the hallway toward their classes.
“Maybe you need to go see a shrink?” Lucas suggested.
“Maybe you should get a life.” Chris snapped.
Lucas looked a little taken aback. “I was just trying to help, Bro. Sorry.”
Chris immediately regretted what he had said. “No, I should be the one who’s sorry Lucas. Sorry. Anyways, let’s just get to class before we’re late.” He stopped at an intersection where their paths split.
“Alright, see you at lunch!” Mark said as he took off down one hall. Lucas gave a silent nod and went down the other.
Chris took a deep breath and headed down the last hallway towards English class. When he entered, he found Kou already sitting in his seat, looking down at his closed textbook. Before, Kou used to always stay in the library until the last possible minute, but for the past week he had been acting differently. Kou had become strangely quiet and was deliberately doing his best to avoid Chris.
“Hey Kou.” Chris said as he sat down next to his friend.
Kou gave Chris a brief glance, and then returned his attention to his still closed book.
Chris felt a brief wrench in his chest. Kou’s indifferent look was killing him inside. And the main problem that tore Chris apart was the fact that he didn’t know what he did wrong.
English dragged by slowly, with Chris sitting next to his silent friend. Before, sitting next to Kou was comforting, even though they didn’t exchange many words during class. But now it was torture. Chris was more then glad when the bell rang and everyone began leaving for the next period. Chris suddenly had an idea. He moved quickly to the door, cutting right in front of Kou and stopped, blocking the exit.
Chris looked up straight into his friend’s face before Kou turned his head away. “Kou, can I talk to you?” Chris asked.
“Will you move please?” Kou asked politely. “You’re blocking the door, and I have to get to class. I don’t wish to be late.”
“Kou, cut that out already!” Chris said hotly. “What’s wrong with you? For the past week you’ve been acting strange every time I come fifteen feet of you.”
Then Kou did something that Chris didn’t really expect. He reached out and placed his hands under Chris’s armpits. Then, without so much of a grunt, he lifted Chris up three feet into the air, turned around, and gently put him down again. Without so much as a word Kou turned back around and walked out of the room, leaving Chris without even looking back.
* * *
“He’s avoiding me like a plague.” Chris muttered as he shoveled his food into his mouth. “He’s acting like he doesn’t even know me anymore.” Chris sat across Mark and Paige at a lunch table in the cafeteria. The other two had already finished most of their lunches when Chris sat down after Chris spent half of the break time looking for Kou.
“Maybe Paige could help you with the plague department.” Mark said as he took a bite out of an apple.
“Haha, very funny.” Paige said sarcastically.
“Things were kinda alright after…y’know,” The look in Chris clearly told them what he was talking about. “But all of a sudden he grew distant. Before I knew it, he was avoiding me entirely. He’s not there to walk with me after school, and every time I go over to his house, his dad says that Kou’s not in yet.”
“Maybe he has a good reason.” Paige suggested.
“I just don’t get it!” Chris threw his fork down in frustration. “What the hell is wrong with him?”
“Very nice choice of words there.” Mark laughed.
Chris calmed himself down a bit. No need to make a scene after all. “You know what I mean. Anyways, have you guys been around Kou lately?”
Paige shrugged slightly. “Not really. I’ve bumped into him once or twice, but that’s about it.”
“Same here.” Mark agreed. “I think he’s spending more time with Lucas though.”
“Lucas?” Chris looked up. “Why would he hang around Lucas?”
“Beats me.” Mark said. “They never invite me to tag along with ‘em whenever they do whatever they do.”
Chris looked thoughtfully at Mark and Paige. “How good are you guys at spying?”
“Don’t even think about it.” Both of them said together.
* * *
“Uff!” Lucas grunted as he jabbed Kou’s abs. His punch didn’t do a single thing to those steely muscles however, so all he succeeded into doing was hurting his hand.
Lucas and Kou were once again fighting in the same basement room where they had held Chris captive for their ‘ritual.’ This time, however, there was no blood or knives and the only chains there were the chains attached to Hunter’s clothing.
“Hraah!” Kou yelled as he threw a punch towards Lucas’s chest. Lucas moved to dodge it, but his feet got tangled up so the strike hit the edge of his shoulder instead.
“Stop!” Lucas said quickly as Kou reared his other arm back for another attack.
“Did I hurt you?” Kou asked in a worried tone, lowering his fists. He was stripped down to wearing nothing but his jeans, his muscular torso exposed to the air. Even though he had been fighting, there wasn’t a trace of sweat on him, and he still looked pretty energetic.
“It was an accident.” Lucas waved off. “I stepped wrong and tripped.” Lucas was shirtless like Kou, and he was once again swelled up with rippling muscles. However, he was drenched with sweat, and looked completely winded. Panting, he walked over to where he had thrown his duffel bag onto the ground and stuck his hand in it. After a bit of rummaging, he pulled out his towel and began wiping his body. Already he was shrinking down, his muscles deflating until he was once again normal sized.
Kou sighed as he watched Lucas turn back to normal. “I wish I can do that.”
“Speaking of which…” Lucas glanced over at Hunter, who was sitting in a low stool against the wall. “Did you find anything for that yet?”
Hunter shook his head. “We mostly deal with killing demons, not helping them become human.”
“Well there’s gotta be something” Lucas crossed his arms over his ripped chest.
“If there is, then it’s very obscure.” Hunter sighed. “I think we won’t be able to find what we’re looking for anytime soon.”
Kou felt his heart drop about an inch. He had really hoped that they had something to help him become normal.
“Don’t look so down bro.” Lucas gave Kou a resounding slap on the back. “We’ll find a way to turn ya into one of us.”
“Th-thanks.” Kou said shyly.
“So this is what you’ve been doing.” Mark said as he descended down the stairs with Paige following closely behind him.
“What time is it?” Lucas asked, his towel draped over his right shoulder.
Paige looked at her wristwatch. “It’s about ten thirty-five.”
“When did you two start fighting each other?” Mark asked curiously.
“Ever since I had that fight with you guys. I thought it would be a good idea to learn how to fight.” Kou said, sitting down cross legged on the floor, causing his quads to flex and his mounds of pecs to bulge outwards. Even sitting down, he was taller then Mark and Paige.
“If that’s all, then what is it exactly that’s wrong between you and Chris?” Mark asked.
Kou was somewhat taken aback by the directness of the question. “I- well, I, uh,” He struggled to think of an excuse quickly.
Mark frowned slightly, then his eyes lit up. “Oh. I see now.”
Kou’s eyes widen with surprise. “Y-you do?”
Mark smiled and tapped his nose. “You forgot that I have certain advantages that you don’t.”
“Hey, that’s cheating!” Kou exclaimed in horror.
“Alright Mark, what’s bugging Kou?” Paige said impatiently.
“It’s actually pretty simple.” Mark said as-a-matter-a-factly. “He-“
“Don’t say it!” Kou shouted as he jumped up and roughly covered Mark’s mouth.
“Mmph mm mrrh!” Mark tried to say through the hand and failing miserably. His pale thin arms and legs flailed around wildly and his face was starting to turn distinctly blue.
“Whoa, Kou! Let him go before he suffocates!” Lucas said as he went up and tried to pry Kou’s hand from Mark’s mouth. Try as he might, he couldn’t budge it even the slightest.
Paige, however, took a simpler approach. She calmly walked up, tapped Kou’s arm once, then took the hand and moved it away easily.
Mark took a deep breath of air, refilling his lungs with oxygen. “I though I was going to die there for a second.” Mark gasped as he held onto Lucas for support. “If you didn’t want me to say it anything, you should have just told me.”
“S-sorry.” Kou stepped back and hung his head. “Ah-I..”
“No need to apologize big guy.” Mark smiled a bit weakly. “I shouldn’t have looked in your head without asking anyways.”
“I said it’s alright.” Mark reached up and patted Kou on one of his meaty pecs. “Although honestly I think you’re being just a little bit silly about Chris.”
“It’s my life, so I’ll be as silly as I want to be.” Kou’s face twisted into a stubborn expression that looked so strange and unlike him that everyone couldn’t help but double over and laugh.
“You’re not helping.” Kou pouted.
They laughed even harder.
* * *
As Chris entered his dingy apartment, he swung his bookbag back once before throwing it all the way across the room and watching it slide on the ground until it crashed into the wall. What was up with Kou! Didn’t he know he was killing Chris inside? Chris was virtually torn between anguish and anger. Still frustrated, he bent down and grabbed the mail. He shifted through the normal junk until he fell upon a yellow stained envelope. He made a quick glance at the return address and felt a cold pit in his stomach. Without waiting he neatly tore the envelope open and pulled out the letter inside. The letter was badly damaged with water marks and it positively reeked of stale beer. The letters were legible however, so Chris read quickly.
Faggot, get your fucking ass here now. You better clean up before the government bitch gets here on Friday or else you’re dead.
Shit, it was already Thursday night. As usual his uncle told him at the last possible minute while using the slowest possible method. He had planned to finish his essay today, but from what things were looking he probably won’t be able to turn it in tomorrow anyways. Without grabbing a bite to eat, Chris turned around and walked out, locking the door behind him.
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