Heart of the Cards
Chapter Ten: ". Then How Come You're On the Floor?"
And blinked again.
What the hell TIME was it?!
And for that matter, what day...?
I sat up with much effort, trying to ignore the fantastic display of colors
that exploded in front of my vision. I could barely remember when I'd
fallen asleep, why, or how come my chest hurt so much....
Oh yeah. That.
I shook my head out, memories flooding back through a hazy curtain. Being
led down to the training room, seeing Gaia and Doma battle, my own Duel
with Ebon... it was coming together a bit more clearly.
Sitting up, I took a chance to lift the bandages wrapped in a constricting
way that reminded me threateningly of snakes winding their way up my torso.
Peeling back the top layer, I held my breath a little only to see...
More bandages. I lifted those.
More of them. I groaned and gave up, wondering why I had had that
disgusting curiosity anyway. Come to think of it, where had Ivy gotten
those from, anyway? I had no doubt that Ivy had down the medical clean-up.
She was the only one among us that had any experience in this type of
thing, and her hyper-super-freakishly high levels of maternal instinct
explained why I'd most likely still be working on removing these two years
I got up, testing my energy. I regretted it almost at once.
Staggering backward and lifting a rough claw to my face until I hit the far
wall, I allowed myself to slide down it to the floor. That was more trouble
than it was worth.
"Unngh...?" I asked intelligently. Cracking open my right eye, which hurt a
little less than the left, I was greeted by a blurry brown, green and blond
"Hi Will. Are you... feeling okay?"
"Yup." I lied. No need to worry Blaine, even though I had the type of
shooting pain in my joints that signified that I probably should be
clinically dead. He was only twelve, as I constantly had to remind myself.
No need to stress him out...
"... Then how come you're on the floor...?"
I winced. I'd walked right into that one. "Um..."
"Blaine? ... Oh! Sleeping beauty is awake!" another voice and presence
entered the room, and I quickly identified it as Ivy. Her face came into
focus as she traveled the room and knelt down, smiling. "How are you
I knew it was a natural thing to ask, but I was starting to get irritated.
"I'm fine." I said, perhaps a bit too curtly.
"Oh. I see..." She said, frowning slightly, and pulling me up to my feet
with considerable force. I was more than shocked. It must be the Blue-Eyes
genes, Ivy would not be able to lift me up normally.
"Ebon? Oh, he's out talking to Casey, his cousin..." Ivy paused and looked
at the ceiling, thinking. "Coincidental, huh?"
I frowned. The coincidence didn't bug me; I wouldn't be surprised if I
encountered my grandparents in here, honestly. But there was something...
off, I suppose, about the way that Ivy was talking, something that
suggested that something was indeed, very wrong. She was just not telling
Silence. I think she knew my tone, so I waited.
Nothing. Ivy busied herself with straightening the already straight bed
I sighed, giving up and plopping down hard on what I could only assume was
Blaine's bed, since it was kept immaculate. That was one thing I could
always count on Blaine for; keeping the house clean. While I admittedly was
a slob and a half, Blaine was practically obsessive-compulsive about his
dire need to keep things in order.
My ribs each chorused out a bitching cry of pain as I took in too deep of a
breath and explosively exhaled it, regretting my need to yawn. I earned
myself a concerned look from Ivy, and closed my eyes to block her out.
Sure, I should be more grateful, but... I really wished I could just take
care of this myself and quit worrying everyone.
Getting up again a little sooner than I should have wasn't fun. Swooning
and pitching slightly, I made my way to the door in spite of the fact that
my vision had gone dark, and groped for the doorknob, leaning my weight on
it as support.
About a second before it opened of it's own will.
"HOLY-" Tipping forward, I bumped into the person entering the room.
Well... okay, so it was a little more than a bump. We both careened off in
different directions, I scaling off of the wall. And then, a strange thing
As I made contact with the wall, one knee smashing into it and my palms
connecting to the floor, bracing myself for the pain of the full-bodied
impact that was sure to follow, two new appendages: two that I hadn't
really given any thought to before, spread out behind me instinctively and
gave the wall a sharp tap. The world spun upside-down as I spun away from
the wall. I let loose a whoop (for whatever reason), as I looped back down
as agile as an alien gymnast and FWOOSH! Red and black wings spread and
supporting me, hands and knees facing the ground, I touched down and
It happened in maybe two seconds. But as soon as the exhilaration left, the
pain kicked in.
"Oh, jeez Will, sorry..." said Ebon, who had been the person I smashed into
hurriedly, as I groaned and rolled over.
"I'm f-fine... clenching my eyes shut, I really wanted to say "Hey! Hey,
dude, did you fucking SEE THAT?!! That was fucking crazy awesome cool!" But
two things were stopping me: 1) I couldn't pry my teeth open as they were
clenched to stop me from shouting, and 2) I would die before I spoke the
Ebon, thankfully, let me get up on my own, and smiling sheepishly said
"Didn't see you..."
"... 'Course not..." I grunted, starting to recover my speech centers a
bit. "You were on the other side of a door..." I shook my head out and
suddenly said "Hey Ebon, did you see me?"
Ebon's expression flashed to worry. "Will. are you feeling okay? I just
said I didn't..."
I blinked, then laughed. "No no, not like that, I meant just now! I was
flying, I swear to God, I was here-" I shifted my position to the threshold
of the door. "And then I hit you-" I made the motion of being ricochet off
of something and careening at the wall "And THEN, when I got here, my wings
kind of... smacked the wall and I went way up there and around like that
and then I was hovering here for a sec, and then I feel down back over
here!" I said, and sucked air in after my continuous sentence. "It was...
weird. Well, okay, so it wasn't REALLY flying, but you get the point!"
Ebon was looking at me blankly, eyebrows raised. "Flying."
A blink. "Okay... that's bizarre." An expression I knew too well grasped
his features, and I almost screamed at what I'd done. "But it doesn't make
SENSE, how does that WORK, your wings, I mean... they're only about three-
quarters size of your body each, and unless your bone structure changed-"
blah blah blah.
Ebon walked around and around me, pulling a wing out here, poking another
there, examining them and talking all the damned time. My eyes rolled into
my head as aerodynamics, contrasts to the bone structures of birds, my body
weight, and a whole load of other stuff was thrown at me, seeming more
overwhelming as his voice kept travelling round and round and round, giving
the lecture a surround-sound stereo quality.
"Ebon. No offense," I started in a hazy tone. "But SHUT UP." My eyes
snapped open and a tic started under my eye as I glared at him, his new
spot one just under the left wing, staring at the place where it melded
into the skin.
There was a short pause, and just as I was anticipating a snappy comeback,
cold remark or indifferent shrug, he laughed. "You're right, sorry. Just
I gaped. "Who are you, and what have you done with the real Ebon!!?"
He smiled wryly. "Gimme a break."
In the silence that followed, I became increasingly aware of my hands and
feet. Well, at least I couldn't say I was imagining that they felt
overlarge and clunky; the transition from human to human-red eyes freak had
left them with four clunky claws in place of fingers, and three razor-edged
talons instead of feet. They WERE roughly four times their normal size.
"Will, I just want to say... I... I'm really sorry, you know... abou--"
I cut him off. "Ebon, drop it. I can't think of anything that was less your
fault than what happened yesterday. Look..." I paused, rubbing my temple,
which was awkward with my claw, but a force of habit. "Don't go all awkward
on me, okay? Everything's fine, no one got hurt-" the look on his face made
me correct myself "-seriously." he tried the look again but I went on. "And
we know who's fault this really is. So just forget it, okay?"
I wanted to say more. Strange things I never thought I'd be the type to
say, things about how he couldn't be going all soft and worrisome in this
place, things about how affection for others meant death for yourself,
things about being ruthless, cunning, strong and unable to feel emotions at
all. Strange things that made me a little nervous, a little worried.
And what was ironic in all this, was that normally Ebon WASN'T soft, WASN'T
affectionate, WAS ruthless and cunning, at least in duels, and as far as I
could tell, the normal Ebon, the past Ebon that I knew had the same
emotional capacity as a rock. That was another thing that tweaked me. If
Ebon started changing, starting loosing the durability that made him a
tough-ass duel opponent, things would get hard, fast.
But I didn't say all these things, because Ebon smirked and said "alright,
but you know, you NEVER have to worry about ME going mushy." Crossing his
arms again in the stance he always had, he continued "I agree that we need
to kick some serious ass. What you say to a walk down the hall? Casey told
me yesterday that this place has fucking showers. Can you believe it?"