Interlude #1 – "Head Clearing"
Author's Note: So… this isn't chapter nine, and I apologize ahead of time for that! But my friend, TDH (theduelistsheiress), suggested that I start with oneshots. However, instead of having a collection of oneshots being their own story, I decided to do this: little "interludes" between chapters if I find something to build on.
These will be used for insights into the characters' minds; points brought up in these interludes will be referred to in – or important for – later chapters.
You get to see inside Malik's thoughts for this interlude, and I hope the sudden change to first-person isn't too shocking, and also that I've kept him relatively in character considering the subject this is on. Anyway – enjoy, and please review. :)
I needed to clear my head.
This quite frequently proved to be much easier said than done. I often focused so much on clearing my mind that I would remind myself of what I intended to forget; as such, I would end up in a state of distress or anger. The aforementioned state meant I needed to clear my head even more.
In simpler terms for simpler minds, I already knew that this "head clearing" would end badly.
I paced around the deck of the boat, my feet landing much too heavily. My bitterness would have been extremely evident, had anyone been nearby, but I was alone. Part of me liked it that way… but that meant part of me didn't.
"Do you even know what it's like?"
Elise's voice repeated itself in my head as I closed my eyes. An image of the girl burned brightly behind my eyelids. Her eyes were wide and pained – pleading with me.
"… to feel like you're nothing more than an object, not even human?"
She'd said she doubted that I knew how it felt. Yet I had been unable to hide the sadness that had crept onto my face, mixing itself with the surprise and hatred I'd felt as she accused me. Oh, I knew better than anyone what it felt like. I knew – in a way that Elise could not even begin to fathom.
I glanced toward the warehouse floor, hearing the sound of footsteps. No one was there, but I watched as the floor began to twist into an all-too-familiar hallway. I was lost in my own mind, my own memories… and helpless to stop it.
I felt my heart wrench terribly in my chest as I watched, as if from a third person perspective, myself – albeit a ten-year-old – getting pulled down that hallway. Rishid was unable to help; and for the longest time, though I would not admit it, I'd blamed him for being too weak.
The scene wasn't third person anymore. It was my own memory as told by me, now. I had glanced over my shoulder, tears streaming down my cheeks. "Father… Father, please! I don't want this. Father!" I was choking on my own sobs, leading to my inability to speak coherently or properly.
He'd made the same servants who'd dragged me down that cursed hallway pin me down. I remember a gag being placed in my mouth, and my screams became muted. I felt nothing – not even fear anymore. Glancing over my shoulder once more, my heart had sped up as I saw the smirk on my father's face. He was enjoying this…
The memory shattered as I screamed out in reality, a hand wrapped around the ship's railing so tightly that my fist had begun aching. I caught myself mid-scream and stopped it short, breathing heavily. I was unable to stop myself from hoping that no one had heard – but Rishid came running almost instantly.
Our eyes met, and I was unable to suppress the sigh that escaped my lips as I calmed my breathing down.
"Is everything alright, Malik-sama?"
I turned away from him, shaking my head from side to side gently. "You worry too much for me. I'm fine, Rishid."
"Elise is getting ready to leave. I told her she has ten minutes." I could tell from his tone of voice that he was only changing the subject because he didn't believe me, but didn't want to bother me to speak.
I tapped my toe in a way I pretended was due to impatience, but really it was because of the sadness I felt at the mention of Elise's name.
There was something else there, too, however… it wasn't just sadness I felt. The other strange feeling that was there… I couldn't tell what it was supposed to be, but I'd felt it before. I felt it quite often – around Elise, at the mention of her name…
… blasted hormones; it must be something to do with them.
"Thank you, Rishid," I hurriedly spoke upon remembering that he was expecting a reply. "You may go."
I turned to watch him leave, standing in silence for a while.
I had hated – still hated – my father. I knew I was nothing to him except the heir he had desired. My emotions, my thoughts, who I was – none of that had mattered.
My head was beginning to hurt. I needed ice cubes. My feet began moving almost as if they were on automatic.
"Rishid?" The voice of myself as a child echoed dully through my head. In my mind, I could see myself looking up at Rishid. He seemed so tall; I must have only been seven or eight at the time I was asking. He looked down at me, forcing himself to smile.
"What is it, Malik-sama?"
"… why does Father act the way he does toward you?"
Rishid had opened his mouth to answer, but never got the chance to. My sister walked into my room, a frown upon her face. The sadness in her eyes shocked me even then.
"Malik, you know you shouldn't ask questions like that," she'd scolded me. I remember I had to hold back tears. I didn't like being scolded by Ishizu.
"But, sister," I'd protested. She shook her head, and I almost remained silent, but a question had been on the end of my tongue. I couldn't stop myself from opening my mouth and asking, "Does he… does he actually love us, sister? Has he ever?"
Ishizu hadn't replied.
Without even being aware what I was doing, I had somehow made it to the freezer onboard the ship and had taken out a tray of ice cubes. I slammed it down on top of the counter beside the freezer. Most of the ice cubes fell out of the tray, and I popped one into my mouth.
As the ice began to melt on my tongue, I felt almost instantly a little bit calmer. This wasn't so bad, then.
"Let's lay down the facts," I mumbled.
I held a hand up in front of myself, extending my index finger up to the ceiling of the ship.
One. I was uncertain of my own emotions toward a certain female Ghoul, and I didn't like how that felt. I had to be aware of everything, and always in command. There was something about the fact that she was female and would listen to everything I said that I liked, something that fuelled the hunger for power inside of me. But that wasn't entirely it. Dammit, I needed to talk to Rishid.
Two. I extended my middle finger to have it join my index finger in the air. There were essentially only two Ghouls left now working for me. Rishid was receiving what one could call a "luxury treatment", whereas Elise was – ah, how had she put it? Oh yes. Elise was treated "lower than the dirt I stood on".
There appeared to be a fair difference in the way those two were treated, which brought me to fact number three. I didn't bother raising another finger and instead dropped my hand to the counter, where it subconsciously popped another ice cube into my mouth.
If Elise was treated even a sliver of how I was treated by my father… both of my hands clenched into fists at my next thought. No one deserved to feel like that.
Dammit, was I feeling sympathetic for the girl? I appeared to be going soft, seeing as how I was acting… kindly, for lack of better words.
Unable to help myself any longer, I burst out laughing, the sound of it echoing throughout the kitchen.
However… well, seeing as how Elise and Rishid would both be accompanying me to the Battle City finals, I may as well treat her a little bit better. As it were, it was her own fault she had to tag along.
I started to walk to the deck of the boat so I could disembark.
"You know, Master, they say women are only good for one thing…"
I froze mid-step as I realized what that Ghoul had meant by "one thing". Of course, I knew at the time, but now…
I suddenly knew what the feeling I felt toward Elise was, and I was not impressed with myself at all.
Rishid was right about the hormones, but he'd never mentioned lust.