Challenge: Someplace you'd like to move or visit
Eve hated it. She hated how everyone saw her fiancée. He was nothing more than a beast to them that devoured everything in sight. He was the scary monster that they told their children to make them behave. She heard the whispers behind her back, during work at the IGO headquarters. Everyone was glad that he was gone, in prison, for his crimes. They didn't even care that he had a lover and a toddler son back home, waiting for his return. To them, he didn't deserve such happiness. It didn't matter that he was one of the Heavenly Kings, having found the most ingredients among his brothers.
At first, Eve fought tooth and nail to protect the honor of her fiancée.
Yet, the same fiancée, Zebra, sooner rather than later told her to stop. In respect for his wishes, she did. But it didn't stop her feelings and thoughts towards her co-workers. They were the sort of people that made the brown skinned doctor understand where her lover always came from, with his hatred towards 'cocky' people. Even if she showed them the proof of the man he was, through the existence of their son, they would only scoff, roll their eyes and turn their backs. They had done that already, when she first brought her son to work, by request of the President, Ichiryu. Her baby boy, Caesar, was a perfect mixer of her and Zebra. He was an angel with a warrior's heart. It was easy to spot the physical characteristics of his father, with the shape of his face and coloured hair. It was enough to make her co-workers back off, as if he was a monster ready to devour them too, much like his father. They didn't bother to look into his heart, which broke the mother's heart. The only thing to brighten up her day was when she showed Ichiryu and her father their baby grandson.
Today was no different.
Eve was busy to attend to the injured workers, as part of her job. They were brought into her office, where the necessary supplies sat, waiting to be used. Her 4 year old son stood right next to her. He was quiet as ever as he watched her with blue-ocean like eyes filled with intelligence beyond his age. His left hand gripped onto her dress white pants in a strong grip, which was beyond normal for a toddler. But it didn't hurt her nor did it bother her. Her son simply watched, somehow understanding that she was working. He wasn't even scared when he saw the amount of injury and blood. To him, it was something that made his mother special, because she fixed it all.
"I can't believe that the sleeping drug didn't work."
The injured man gritted out in pain. Eve said as she cleaned up the blood from the messed up looking arm:
"From what I've seen, you've put so much of the drug into the animal that it became immune to it."
"That's not possible!" The scientist barked at her, but she ignored him in favor of wrapping his arm up. She kept her professional aura which kept her from snapping at him. I understand he's angry, but I'm just stating facts. "That stupid ass- ow! Watch it - ugh!"
The scientist cried out in pain every time Eve tightened the bandages. She told him softly, but with an icy tone that froze the scientist:
"May I remind you that there's a toddler present."
The man looked at the said toddler, who looked at his arm with interest. He sneered in disgust.
"Why would you bring this mons- ow, ow, ow!"
Blue-ocean like eyes darkened at the description of her son. Her gentleness was gone from her body language and voice. In its place, there was harshness that promised pain:
"I will not have you talk to my son like this. Is that understood?" The frightened man nodded, his whole body shaken with fear. "You're done. Now get out of my office."
She didn't have to tell him twice. Before she could blink, the man disappeared from the hospital bed. She couldn't believe the nerve of these people. How many times did she have to make it clear that she would beat them herself until they were black and blue? So that they understood not to call her son those disgusting names? They were lucky that Zebra was never around long enough to hear them say anything. If he did, none of them would be safe.
A soft voice brought Eve out of her dark thoughts. She turned her attention to Caesar. Her anger pushed aside as she sent a motherly, loving smile to Caesar.
"That man needed sleepy time."
She knew that he didn't mean that the scientist needed to be knocked out. Her son meant in a medical term. The man, in fact, needed to rest his arm for at least a few weeks until she deemed it worthy for him to head back to work. That man would come crawling to her soon enough. Let it be a lesson to him. Yet, it made her pride as a mother grow that her son was so smart that he caught on without being told. Maybe this was how her father felt as she grew up and followed his footsteps. It wasn't hard, though. He was Ichiryu's personal doctor that looked after him and his children. That was how she met her future lover. Through watching and doing, she became a doctor at a young age of 18. She didn't need to go to university for the full term. She passed her exams with flying colours thanks to her experiences as a student under her father. She nodded a bit, her mind filled with bitterness towards the thought of the man.
"Yes, but that man shouldn't fight with mama unless he wants to be kicked out."
Caesar hummed in thoughtfulness and leaned against her. Eve smiled softly at the action. She ran her long fingers through his dark red hair, which relaxed the toddler and made him lean into her touch. The action made her smile turn sad, as it reminded her of how Zebra reacted when she did the same to him. Caesar is so much like his father that it hurts sometimes. I wish Zebra can see him now. She thought with a heavy heart. Her lover has gone to Honey Prison a year ago, but it felt so long for the small family. At first, her son always asked her where his papa was, but without much of answer he soon stopped. Yet, she saw in his blue-ocean like eyes whenever he saw a picture of his father or heard stories of him. He missed him, dearly, no matter how much he won't say it.
Eve ran her other fingers through her hair messy hair, which made it loosen further from its bun style. To those that knew her, it was so out of character of her. Her hair was always in a tight bun and looked so neat that there wasn't a piece of hair out of place.
There was a knock on the door.
The small family looked up and Caesar smiled brightly at the person that stood at the door. He shrieked in a child-like manner as he ran to the figure:
"Oh no, I've been captured by a little rascal. Tickle attack!"
His grandfather, Ichiryu, announced with mocked frightfulness. He picked his grandson up and started to tickle him, which caused the toddler to laugh and struggle in his hold. Eve walked over with a greeting smile, but her eyes looked confused.
"Uncle Ichiryu, what are you doing here?"
She asked of him. The blond, tanned man looked at her with his usual grin. The grin lost its brightness when he looked at her. The man asked her as he stopped the tickling:
"Have you been sleeping at all lately?"
Eve flinched at the question. She knew that she looked bad, but she hasn't thought much of it. Yeah, her hair was messier than usual. Then there were the bags that started to appear underneath her eyes. Her actions weren't much better, as she kicked a patient out of her office because of the way he spoke to her son. She was always a professional woman and kept it at that. And there was also the small fever, which she woke up with today. That fever would explain why she might look a bit ill. But she couldn't look that bad… right? No, you look awful, admit it. You've always been a realist. Don't you dare start to act like an airhead now. A voice in the back of her head snapped at her. With a soft sigh, she admitted, knowing that she couldn't lie to him:
"I've been having a bit of trouble sleeping, but don't worry." She waved off his worried expression. There was no way that she'd admit to him that she was so worried for Zebra nowadays that she lost sleep because of it. She had to be strong, for her and her son. There was no moment of weakness allowed to be shown. "Is there a problem? Are one of the guys injured again? Is Rin alright?"
"It's not that" The President answered slowly. It appeared that he wanted to ask of her further about her health, but didn't. Even though she was hardworking and brilliant, the woman in front of him was as stubborn as they came. "I'm going to Honey Prison, to see Zebra."
Eve froze where she stood. She whispered in disbelief:
"Yes, and I wanted to know if you wanted to come with me, to see him." Ichiryu explained further, his eyes landed on his grandson. The little boy blinked at the adults, as he didn't recognized yet his father's given name. A teasing smile danced on the man's lips, "We can bring this little rascal too."
The black woman wanted to accept the offer right away, but stopped at the thought of bringing her son with her. Honey Prison was no place for children, no matter how much she wanted to bring her son to see his father. She didn't have the strength like her lover and his brothers have. After all, she never needed the training like the guys and Rin. Yet, her heart wouldn't allow her to leave the little boy behind. Both he and Zebra deserved to be together, even if it was for a little bit. At the sight of her struggle, the blond man assured her:
"I know that it's dangerous, but between me and Yosaku, we'll keep you both are safe."
"B-But what happens if one of those beasts attack us?" Eve asked nervously, an old habit that started to resurface ever since her son was born. "What about the criminals? They can attack us!"
"The beasts are controlled, and by means that it would be impossible for them to break away. As for the criminals, they have no means of escaping." He laughed as he said the next part, "Anyways, I don't think that you have much to worry about, with Zebra there. If those criminals go after either of you, he'll snap their necks faster than we can stop them."
The 24 years old woman had to chuckle a bit, no matter how dark that joke was. It sounded like Zebra alright, that worrywart. She thought about him with softness, her heart quickened with affection at the thought of him. Let's be honest, what are the chances of you two getting hurt when Zebra, Uncle Ichiryu and Yosaku there? The voice from before asked of her, to which she nodded mentally in agreement. It was true, what were the chances? With a sigh, she turned to her son with a bright smile:
"Caesar, how would you like to see papa again?"
The quiet toddler's blue-ocean like eyes brightened at the mention of his father. He cried out:
"Papa! I want papa!'
"Then it's decided!"
The grandfather responded with an equal amount of energy, much to Caesar's happiness and to Eve's tired amusements. I seriously need to get some sleep once we get home, the black woman thought as she noted how tired she was. But first, they needed to visit Zebra.
Eve looked behind her with a nervous look at Gate of the Underworld. Her hold onto Caesar tightened, as she brought the child closer to her chest. The boy tightened his hold onto her beige travel cloak, his face buried into her neck. She felt him shiver with fright, and the mother tried her best to comfort him, but it was a failure. This place was frightful, much more than she could ever imagine. She never saw the gate nor has she ever been to the prison. She heard stories of it and knew of the levels, but that was about it. Her knowledge was as basic as the next person.
The woman turned her eyes towards the zig-zag thin road. The men that she accompanied stood on either her side in a sort of protection. It didn't even matter to her that one of them helped to capture her fiancee. It brought her a bit of sense of security, but it wasn't enough for the mother and child. At least Caesar wasn't crying, much to her relief. Once he started, it was hard to get him to stop. The only person that could stop his crying with comfort was his father, and Zebra wasn't that close by.
Eve kissed the boy's head and tightened the cloak around the duo. Next to her, Ichiryu chuckled with a hint of nervousness. She looked at him with a raised brown eyebrow.
"Hehe, just Zebra."
The confusion turned into a blank stare. She asked flatly:
"What did he say?"
"Nothing much, just angry at me for bringing you two here."
"He threatened you, didn't he?"
The cheeky smile was enough of an answer for her. This made Eve sigh at her fiancée's behaviour. Why wasn't she surprised? She knew that it wasn't that he didn't want to see them. It was more so the danger that this place brought.
After a long way to walk, Eve gasped in fright at the sight of 3 giant Convoysaurus walking up to the prison. When Caesar tried to look up at what frightened his mother, the cloak covered him. He whined at her behaviour, but the quick shush quietened him. An arm circled around Eve's shoulder, belonging to Ichiryu. When she looked up, the blond man gave her a smile to comfort her. It would have relaxed her, but her body tensed when they walked up closer to the prison. There were two rows of what appeared to be guards with a man yelling at the front. The President beside her announced with amusements:
"Busy as ever, eh?"
The strange looking man, who shouted a minute ago, turned around and stared at them in surprise. He cried out:
This made Ichiryu chuckle deeply. He poked fun at him in greetings:
"Hey man, what do you call that hairstyle?"
Even Eve had to crack a smile at that question in amusements. It was true. The man's hair was divided between being long and straight and curly. The only thing that kept the hair down altogether was the hat. At least, that was what it looked like.
"President!" The man straightened his body like a soldier. "It's been an awfully long time since I've heard from you, President!"
He took his hat off and bowed. The center of his head was bare of hair. Eve would have laughed if not for how frightful she was of the place. Without her notice, Caesar poked his head out and looked. He pointed at the point and told his mother while the man cried out in shock:
"You went bald in the center?"
"Mama, who's the funny looking man?"
At this question, both the President and Yosaku burst into laughter. The mother blushed in embarrassment. She stuttered in apology:
"I-I'm so sorry for his behaviour. Caesar, that was rude. You don't talk like that to other people."
She lectured her toddler. Caesar apologized to her, but was still confused. The strange man wasn't sure what he thought of the duo in front of him. Yet, before he asked why there was a woman and child there, he was interrupted:
"Is Warden Love around, Pricomb-kun?"
Yosaku asked as his laughter died down. The man, Pricomb, looked up and shouted again in startle:
"Saiseiya Bloodstained Yosaku-dono, too?!"
Okay, at this point Eve was more annoyed than scared. It appeared that Caesar was the same, as he mumbled to her:
"When is the funny looking man going to stop being annoying?"
The mother sighed at the question. Yes, this was definitely Zebra's son. Even when the man was away for a year he somehow managed to put into their child this sort of attitude.
"We're forever indebted to you!"
"You ain't blowing smoke. Given how worthless the Gourmet Police are, us Saiseiya never have a moment's rest."
Yosaku replied with a huff of annoyance. Ichiryu spoke up next, this time in seriousness:
"We're here to talk with Warden Love about Zebra. And we brought with us his fiancée and child to see him."
The three haired styled man looked at Eve and Caesar in shock. He asked the President:
"Z-Zebra, sir? I-I'm not sure if Warden Love will listen… or will be too happy having Zebra's fiancée and child here."
That last part came out as a mutter, but everyone caught it. The black woman narrowed her eyes dangerously. What did he mean that this person won't be too happy that they were here? She knew that no visitors were allowed into the prison. But even when she came with two powerful people, this person still won't be happy? How strict were they exactly? Yet, something told her that this wasn't the issue. And by the way that the men tensing at that last part, her suspicion grew. Ichiryu answered the first part like a professional:
"That's why I have here the person who is the master of Teppei, the one who captured Zebra, and who also had a hand in capturing Zebra himself, Yosaku. As well as me, the IGO President, both coming here in person, because you guys won't talk to Director Gras."
"Y-Yes, sir! I-I'll go contact them."
With that, Pricomb ran off to do just that. Eve took that as an opportunity to interrogate both men.
"Who is this Warden Love?"
Ichiryu and Yosaku looked at each other in silence, before they turned to her and Caesar. The latter explained:
"She's the one that looks after this prison and rules it with an iron fist."
She…? Oh hell no! Eve thought dangerously. She did not like where this was going.
"And why wouldn't she be happy to allow for a family reunion?"
"You're telling her. It's within the rules."
The Saiseiya pointedly at the President. The blond man snapped at him:
"You can't decide when it's convenient for you to not break rules!"
"You're still telling her."
"Telling me, what?"
The woman asked sweetly, which caused the men to gulp. They took a step back, frightened by what was about to come. The President laughed in nervousness as he scratched the back of his head:
"Well… you see… Warden Love has this little, um, crush on Zebra."
"What do you mean, crush?"
Eve hissed in anger. Who does this bitch think she is?!
"Y-Ya know, when someone likes another person-"
"Man, you better stop talking right now. I think she's about to break the rules in how angry a woman can get."
Just as the doctor was about to put her son down and show just how angry she was, Pricomb came back. The man showed them the way, but not after he barked orders at the guards to what they needed to do with the prisoners. Her protectiveness over her son came back full blast as she held him close while she watched the, apparently, execution beasts. She heard horror stories of this prison, but this was even scarier than the Gate of the Underworld and the road.
They quickly made their way past the front desk to the office. There, they were greeted by Love. Eve could only stare at her in shock at her appearance. This Love person was below average height and dressed like a bee with two hearts tattooed on her cheeks. What the actual…? Even though the woman was angry that this… person has a crush on her fiancée, she was more so confused about the appearance than anything else. She knew for a fact that appearance wasn't everything, but this was still something else.
Love looked annoyed at the newcomers, especially at Eve and Caesar. The toddler started to fuss at being carried for so long, so the mother had no choice but to place him down. But she held him close to her, just in case. The bee dressed woman walked over to them and studied the mother and son with a critical eye. She grumbled:
"So this is Zebra-chan's fiancée and son? Tch, I don't see what he sees in you."
That comment was turned to the black woman, to which earned her a dark look from more than one person. Ichiryu told her off:
"Love, you better stop this behaviour at once. I will not have you insulting my future daughter-in-law and grandson. Accept that Zebra has a family and stop harassing them. If you don't..."
That last part was left unspoken, but it was clear what the threat was. It made Love huff, but she backed off with a nasty glare. Even she didn't want to piss the Heavenly King or the IGO President off. She ordered her Assistant Warden, Ohban:
"Take these two to a spare room and bring Zebra-chan to them. Make sure that he's dressed."
"Yes ma'am" Ohban turned to the mother and son, and spoke softer than his boss, "Please, follow me."
Eve grabbed Caesar's hand and the two followed the scarred faced man. They were led to a room not too far away from the office. The room looked like a waiting room. It had nothing but furniture, table and some book cases filling the space. The black woman thanked the man before she walked in and closed the door behind her. She let go of her son, who decided to explore the room. This brought a small smile, as the mother was happy to know that he wasn't as scared as before. Yet, for her, she has yet to relax.
Eve felt her heart accelerate steadily as time passed by from excitement and anxiousness. She took a seat on the couch from tiresome, but kept an eye on the child. He already managed to grab a book from the lowest shelves, sat on the ground and flipped through it. She knew that he couldn't read, yet, but he was always excited when it came to books. He loved the pictures and stories that they contained. The woman grabbed the back of her neck, both out of nervousness and to check on her temperature. It was warmer than usual, but was about the same as when she woke up.
She didn't lie that she woke up with a bit of a fever this morning. The stress started to build for a while now, no thanks to her job. Ever since Zebra was taken to prison, her co-workers took every opportunity that they could to make a comment about Caesar. It made treating those people harder, as she loved her job but she cared far more for her son. She hated with a passion how they treated the toddler. He's only 4, she thought tearfully, though she kept her tears back to the best of her ability. What did he ever do to them? Eve tried her best to stay strong and keep her son away from their poison glares and words, but it grew harder as each day passed. Caesar hasn't started to ask questions, but he soon would if this kept up.
Eve forced herself to calm down. The last thing that she wanted was for Zebra to see her cry and be stressed. She needed to be strong, for everyone.
There was a few knocks on the door. The black woman stiffened in her seat. She was about to get up to go protect Caesar, out of motherly instincts, when the door opened. Walking in was none other than Zebra.
Caesar squealed in excitement as he got up and flew to his father. The tall man caught him before he crashed and hurt himself and picked him up. Eve felt her heart was about to explode, as she also came rushing towards him. It was almost like a dream, to be this close to her lover again after a long year. When she came close, a muscular arm wrapped around her figure to hold her close against the massive body.
"Zebra" Eve breathed out in happiness, all the stress has disappeared. Zebra turned to look at her, for a moment not listening to his son's blabbering stuff into his left ear. "I'm so happy to see you."
The man didn't say anything, and she didn't expect him to. He wasn't a romantic man that only spoke through words. He spoke through actions, which was more than enough for Eve. She was picked up, all of a sudden, and brought into a kiss. The couple kissed for a few long moments, just savouring each other's presence and taste. They ignored the disgusted sounds that Caesar made, even though it would amuse them other times. Eve ran of fingers through his red hair, ignoring the deep scar that made it a bit difficult to kiss her fiancée. His strong scent filled up her nose, one that she missed so much. His taste was a mixture of his favourite food and drinks, but with a hint of something else that just made him so… him. His strong muscles around her made her feel safe again, like nothing could happen to her.
The couple finally pulled away, their foreheads rested against each other. Eve stroked his unscarred cheek, which made Zebra lean his face against her hand. The woman told him:
"We missed you"
He grunted in return, his grip on them tightened. Yet, with such gentleness that would be alien to anyone else. Zebra turned his attention back to Caesar, as he watched him and listened to the blabbering. It didn't matter to him that he barely understood his son. It was just one of those times that their son converted back to his old baby speech. That, in itself, only happened when he grew excited.
The family of 3 sat down on the couch which Eve abandoned before. The lovers didn't say anything. The only one that continuously broke the silence was their son. Slowly, the toddler converted back to his normal speech. Though, what he said next made the mother's heart drop to her stomach.
"And the people that mama treats their boo-boos are big meanies! They make mama sad and call me mean names."
The atmosphere turned chilly in an instant. Eve knew what was to come. But she gave her lover some credit, because he didn't blow up in anger when their son was around. He also didn't curse around him, which was out of respect for her request. Their son was young. He didn't need to pick up the habit of short temper and swearing, yet. That or he never picked those habits up, in an ideal world. But when one was the child of Zebra, the chances of that were slim to none. When she looked at him, she saw the look in his eyes that promised unimaginable pain. The promise of pain wasn't directed at her, but more so at her co-workers. Zebra stated in a low voice:
"That's why you look tired and sick."
Eve didn't meet his eyes at the statement. She played with her fingers in a shaky manner. There was no point in lying to him.
"It's getting a bit… difficult to work there." She admitted, "And I've been losing a bit of sleep. But I'm handling everything."
Somewhat, she added mentally. This was one trick that she found that allowed her to go around the lie detector. She didn't necessarily lie if she spoke in half-truth and added the rest of the truth in her mind. It wasn't enough, though, and she should have known it. Zebra leaned in to speak quietly into her ear:
"Don't you dare lie to me." His grip on her waist tightened a bit, but not enough to leave any marks. It was just a warning. "Once I get out of this place, I'll teach them a lesson."
"Zebra, no!" Eve objected with wide eyes. Even though her co-workers weren't the easiest to work with, she wasn't about to throw them in front of her lover to be murdered. It didn't even mattered, at this point, if the chances of them being killed were close to none. This man was violent, but not a murderer when it came to humans. "They just don't understand. We can get through this, without violence."
The man scowled, his wrinkles on his forehead showed up more pronounced.
"I will not have them treat you two like trash."
"You need to stop acting tough when something bothers you."
The man snapped at her. Eve stiffened and looked away once more. She wrapped her arms around her shoulders in self-comfort. The stress that built up this past year started to fight its way to the surface, no matter how much she resisted it. The hand on her waist transferred to her back. His thumb rubbed the lower part, in an apologetic and comforting manner. She relaxed a bit at the action, but her stressed form still stayed. She whispered softly:
"I have to act tough, because you're not there. I have to protect Caesar, somehow."
It was Zebra's turn to stiffen. He knew that she was right, no matter how much he didn't like it. He knew that he should have thought of the consequences, before he picked a fight with the animals and drove many to extinction. He wasn't 10 anymore. He has a fiancée and child to take care of now. But because he didn't think, he brought this upon his family. The red headed man looked at his son, who leaned his whole body against him. His small head was tucked into his neck. Soft breathing escaped his lips, indicating that he somehow fell asleep through the whole thing. Zebra felt relaxed, with his son and lover in his arms. It was then that he noticed a sound to his left, where it sounded like something was zipped open. The man looked at Eve, and watched as she took out two colourful ear plugs from a small bag that she brought with her. He watched with slight confusion as she leaned over to their son and gently put them into their son's small ears. Caesar made a little noise of annoyance, but fell back into deep sleep. Zebra turned to her with a questionable expression. The black woman smiled tiredly.
"When you left for Honey Prison, Caesar's hearing has started to heighten. He barely got any sleep for a while, and complained about his ears hurting, because of it. I can't do much except for giving him ear plugs when he goes to sleep or we're in a loud place."
Zebra grunted in understanding, as he also had that problem when he was young. His heart tightened that he wasn't there for his son when he needed him most. No, when both of them needed him.
"I won't get into any more trouble, once I get out." He turned to his lover, with a serious expression. "I won't leave you two like this again, unless I have to. We can even get that wedding that you wanted for so long."
It appeared that they were the right things to say, because Eve's face brightened at the promises. He had proposed a few years back, before they found out that Eve was pregnant with Caesar. But every time that they thought that the wedding would officially take place, there was always a complication. His usual promises that he never broke had to be put on hold for so long. And he knew how important it was for his fiancée, even though she didn't say anything and kept a patient aura.
Eve leaned over to kiss him, to which he returned. The kiss was short lived, as the woman pulled away long enough to say:
"I love you"
The man responded, which made her crack a smile in amusements. Zebra pulled her once again against him, just for the sake of holding his small family before they had to leave. Yes, once he got out he'd keep his promises. He'd also keep one other promise, which was left unspoken. He was ready to maim her co-workers to teach those bastards a lesson.