I was so indecisive about this chapter, the irony of it didn't hit me until later. Anyways, I've been really busy lately. I've been working 40 hrs a week and going to classes, but I have some time off this week. Anyways, thanks for all the reviews I have gotten, I'm glad to see you guys like the new direction of this story. And to those who didn't read the last version, no worries, I like this one more anyways.
Again, reviews are appreciated, but I hope you guys enjoy this chapter.
The white room was cold, bright, and empty. Empty in both contents and in a sense where it felt void of anything good. Hope, happiness, freedom, all of those feelings died the second you walked into that room.
Vanitas hated walking into that room.
But as he sat in the chair across from Naminé for what must be the millionth time this week, he couldn't help the shiver that ran down his spine despite having been exposed to it so many times already. Naminé was staring at her sketchbook, eyes peaceful as they analyzed the pages, images invisible to him created a world of possibilities for her.
For once, most likely the first and last time ever, Vanitas had arranged this meeting, Naminé having not summoned him here. As her eyes closed peacefully for a moment, and then slid open to stare directly at him, he regretted this choice immediately. Last time he would ever arrange a meeting between them, definitely.
Naminé just stared at Vanitas silently, making the golden eyed boy wonder if she was in that trance from before, if she was not staring at him but rather through him, if she was still seeing whatever was in that other world that only existed in her eyes.
Finally, she blinked again, her eyes locking onto his suddenly to reassure Vanitas that she was now recognizing his presence, "You wish to change the terms of your contract with the human Ventus now, correct?"
Her words were quiet, but due to the both physical and non-physical emptiness around them they seemed to echo with a weight against the walls. Vanitas just nodded in response though, taking a deep breath as he prepared himself for this. Naminé had known this was coming from just a couple days ago when she recognized the contract, so Vanitas knew that she already had her decision made. That still wouldn't stop him from trying to bargain though, despite that he had also just found out from Xion the other day that Naminé was actually one of those witches who were getting involved in all of that petty politics of their world… and that she was pro-human.
Meaning she maintained a stance that supported the humane treatment of humans, as ironic an idea of that is. Worse yet, with Ansem the Wise having placed witches in charge of demons, more or less, it meant that many of them were restricting the freedom of demons in their interactions with humans. Like they would place restrictions on the number of humans they could mark, how they treat their humans, the contracts they make with humans, even the time they spend in the human world. All in all, it was a pain in the ass for the demons who knew humans to be nothing more important than a household pet, but 90 percent of the time perceived them as trash on the sidewalk.
Still, he was hoping that Naminé would take this as a chance to completely change the nature of his and Ventus' contract while he was attempting to only make a few alterations.
"We talked about it last night…" Vanitas started, figuring that it would help his case if it seemed like he had gotten consent for the change from Ventus as well, "He's not comfortable with this every night set up we have, it leads to bad situations like yesterday's accident. So after some debate, we decided that once a week would be fine. He submits to me completely once a week, let's make it a Friday, and in exchange I take care of all his problems."
Naminé stared at him for a while, he could only imagine her considering this change in contract and balancing it out to see if it would be truly fair. Glancing down to her book, he sat up straighter as he thought for a moment that she may just accept it as is, but then slumped again as her eyes locked on his. Figures it wouldn't be that easy.
"It leans too much in your benefit, considering the amount of emotional trauma that will be and already has been inflicted on the human…" Holding his breath, Vanitas waited for her to continue, scowling at the idea of 'trauma' as it seemed ridiculous to him. That was some kind of sickness human's got, wasn't it? How was he going to give that to Ventus? Naminé interrupted his thoughts though, finally continuing with her proposal, "Either change your end to better suit what the human will receive, an appropriate amount being you receive compensation about once a month… or you change your end by not simply taking care of the small problems in the human's life, but rather grant any wish he has—that is within your ability to grant, that is."
Once a month.
"I'll take the second one."
Reaching down to the pages, he watched as her fingertips ran over them carefully, resting at the corner as she looked back up to the demon across from her, "It has been rectified, the contract parameters originally decided on between the demon Vanitas and the human Ventus have been changed. From now on: in exchange for compensation of a sexual nature every Friday until the demon Vanitas deems it satisfying, Vanitas is required to make life comfortable for Ventus along with granting any wish that is within his ability to grant."
Vanitas frowned, staring at the blonde girl for a moment, then leaned forward almost hesitantly, still wondering if this was a question he really wanted to ask, "… You keep saying 'as long as that wish is within my ability to grant' like it's covering my ass. He's just a human, you really think he's going to ask for something that is not within my power to grant?"
Naminé closed her book, setting it parallel with her knees in her lap as she just calmly stared at him. For a moment, Vanitas thought that he must be seeing things, or maybe this room was finally just starting to crack him, because as she sat there she seemed more alive, relaxed and… content than she had ever seemed before. Something that was so small, almost transparent, could hardly have been called a smile, but for a witch it might as well have had a beacon on it.
Coming to terms with your own disparity is not something easy, it's an agonizing process. It creeps along the sides of your conscious for a while, a small part that you just pretend isn't there. Then one day it finally becomes too much pressure and you realize that there is no other answer other than that, and yet you still cannot quite accept it…
At some point you realize that there is no avoiding it anymore, it simply becomes too much trouble and too tiring to continue making excuses for not just others but yourself as well.
Ven hadn't quite reached that point, but he felt it closing in like a dull dread, as he sat in the back of the taxi and stared at the scenery that would eventually, somehow, in a way that seemed incomprehensible right now… lead him home.
As his house eventually came into view though, and he stepped out onto the sidewalk, and he walked up the steps, and he stared at the familiar scratched paint of the front door, and finally, finally, walked in… He felt like he was still in that taxi.
Roxas sighed heavily as he rested his head in Sora's lap, dozing as he felt Sora's thumb lightly brushing over the mark he knew resided on his chest, just under that sensitive dip in his collar bone, trying to resist the lull to sleep and wait for Ven to return home.
Sora's blue, so very blue, eyes stared into his, pulling on him, holding him until he could feel his body falling into unwelcomed unconsciousness. With Sora there for him, holding him, he was torn. His body was making the decision for him ultimately, it seemed, Sora's eyes focused on his, consuming everything in his vision.
This wouldn't be a restful sleep, unfortunately, he could feel all of those unpleasant thoughts still lingering as his eyelids finally slid shut completely. Remembering the blood that had leaked from his brother's lips, worried over the stain it left on the floor, anxious over when Ven would get home, and terrified for the safety of Ven, himself, and, most of all, Sora.
Maybe Ven had it right the entire time, and they were cursed. In which case, all he can really hope is that he won't end up dragging Sora down with him.
Feeling the blonde's breathing even out, Sora felt easier about turning his attention back to the front door. At the end of the stairs, just behind of the very couch they were on, was a new stain that would serve as a reminder of what Ven no longer had any freedom over anymore.
Sora was pissed.
His feelings were never something that were to be trampled lightly, and this entire time they had been nothing but used and abused by all those around him, he was becoming impatient with it all. He could withstand a small amount of abuse, Vanitas was his brother after all, but there was only so much that he could stand for before he would really reach his breaking point. It was fast approaching, unfortunately.
With Roxas asleep, and not waking anytime soon, and Ven reaching the home soon, Sora would be left with his ideal situation for getting back at his brother. After all, his brother stole from him first, so getting some revenge was not completely out of the question. It took a lot of work to get a human to fall in such devoted love like that, to find their world in you, especially two of them, and twins… He had always preferred Roxas, wanted Roxas more, he would admit that much…
Roxas was just… Special.
Either way, just because he had been taking his time didn't mean that Vanitas could come in and break their deal like that. Seeing as how he realized that this at least meant he would not be needing to hand Roxas over to Vanitas in death though, and Vanitas being his brother, he had forgiven it. Now though, now he finds out that Vanitas is purposely putting the blonde in dangerous situations, and sure Karma would not have lead him to his death for only his first offense, but he was still that much closer to death for any other screw ups that may happen in the future.
Sora didn't like that. He may not care about the boy as much as Roxas, but he still didn't like the idea of Vanitas just so carelessly playing around with a human that he had, at one time, put so much effort into obtaining himself, only to fail… That sort of subtle control and manipulation kept for such a length of time… What a waste of effort in the end.
The door finally opened, the counterpart to the blonde in his lap stepping inside and staring at them in surprise. Sora just smirked slightly, nodding for him to come over. Ven shook his head slowly, locking the door behind him and turning off the outside light, he was just going to assume that Sora would stay the night. Walking towards the stairs, his eyes glazed over as they fell on the blood stain, his entire body hesitating for the moment…
"Sit down," Sora spoke at a normal volume, calm and welcoming, but Ventus was not expecting it. He jumped, looking over to him and then down to his brother in his lap in surprise, "Don't worry about him, I asked him to sleep long and soundly."
Ven still whispered, eyes betraying his confusion as he continued to just stand by the couch, making Sora frown and stare up at him as the blonde spoke, "He's not that heavy of a sleeper, just because you asked…"
"It's because I asked…" Sora was still smirking, making Ven look at him suspiciously, "Anyways, I wanted to talk with you, sit down."
"I'm tired," Ven whispered back immediately, frowning as he still hesitated to walk any closer to that blood stain, "I just want to go to bed."
"I'm sure, but you'll be glad you heard all this later."
Eyes not quite able to rest on that blood stain again, they roamed on the floor around the edges for a while longer before he was finally able to make up his mind. Moving to the couch, he sat at the far end, gently nudging his brother's feet aside, sure enough the other boy didn't so much as flinch in his sleep.
"You won't regret it," Sora grinned at him, making Ven sigh heavily, slightly disappointed, he mourned the loss of his love for Sora, to be honest. He wished for the times when he would swoon over the other man, get lose in his thoughts of him, feel something so easy and pure again instead of this… He didn't know what to even call what he felt for the other man anymore.
Betrayal? Anger? Hatred? So many emotions were just spinning around in his head, he couldn't tell which one he felt or which ones even applied to Sora. He didn't hate Sora, for reasons he didn't really understand, he just… was disappointed? There was anger, he felt that much for sure, but he did not hate. Just disappointed… In what? In Sora, himself? More like in the love he thought he had felt, in that it was gone, because now he couldn't just blindly look past any faults that Sora may have…
"So what are the terms?"
Ven snapped out of his thoughts in a daze, looking over to Sora in surprise, the brunette just staring at him expectantly, "Of the contract… What's the deal you guys came up with?"
He felt the red take over his face before he could help it, feeling shame, Sora had seen them that night so he definitely knew what was going on. It was a deal, he agreed to it, he agreed to do it, "You know the deal."
"I haven't heard it from you though, which makes me wonder if Vanitas really explained it in full detail, or if you simply haven't realized the true power you have over him," Looking at him expectantly, Ven just stared back, lost because Sora made it sound like Ven had control in this situation somehow when he was rather sure he did not, "You know, you should really ask him about the terms of that contract, because he's required to tell you. From what I get so far: you do some 'favors' for him, and in exchange he makes your life easier… But how much easier?"
"I don't get what you mean? He keeps me from killing myself on stairs, yeah, what are you getting at?" Ven snapped a little bitterly, looking away from him to stare at the wall. He felt so uncomfortable, so nervous and tired and… He just kept thinking that he wanted to go home, and he kept reminding himself that this is home, he's here, now what?
"I'm just saying that I don't think that you realize that this contract was really open ended, he makes you more comfortable, but what exactly does that mean? Does he simply keep you alive? Or does he provide you with the lifestyle that befits a king? I would say comfortable really depends on you…" Their eyes meet, Sora's mischievous in the way they stare into his, and then he suddenly smirks and turns away, "I'm probably saying too much though, Vani would be pretty upset if I was getting involved in your business in anyway. He's the jealous type."
Looking at his twin, Ven frowned as he watched how absolutely peaceful and satisfied Roxas looked in his sleep. It wasn't natural, making what Sora said earlier click in his head. He made Roxas sleep. Being reminded Sora was a demon as well was like a kick to the stomach since they had literally just had a conversation about this supernatural conflict and his demon brother, but it had only just fallen into place for Ven then. Then it was like another kick to the stomach as his mind immediately started double-checking every bit of conversation they had and just had.
Sora looked at him in surprise, blinking slowly, just to flash a smug grin back at him in a moment, "Oh, are you the jealous type, too? Jealous of Roxie? Or me?"
Ven just ignored him, looking back up at the newly recognized demon suspiciously, "You chose him, right? It's not like you would just choose anyone… So why Roxas?"
He would admit that was satisfying some of his old jealousy as well, although his negative self-image of himself had certainly created more than enough answers for this question already, he wanted to hear it from the source. He wanted the truth, he wanted to know what brought Sora around in the first place, what started all of his heart-ache and pain. Most importantly, he wanted to know if there was anything he could do to turn them off of them. If they were doing something, somehow just keeping these two around without meaning to, and they just had to fix that…
It was probably too much to hope for.
Sora stared at him for a while, frowning, and as the seconds ticked on and no answer came, Ven realized he would not be receiving one. Shaking his head, he stood from the couch to look down at Sora, "Fine, don't tell me. Just know that if you do anything to hurt him…"
"As much as I would love to hear what you think would be a good enough threat for me, I have to stop you there. Roxas is perfectly safe with me, in fact I would say he's safer with me," Sora was serious, Ven realized that instantly, there was no stupid grin or tricky gleams in his eye. He looked him in the eye, his arms already wrapping around the boy protectively as Sora seemed to recite his part almost like a pledge.
Ven found that he could only nod in concession, accepting that as an acceptable answer. Heading around the couch to begin for the stairs, he hesitated as he saw the stain once more, having nearly forgotten about it by this point. He shook it off though, squeezing his eyes shut as he climbed a few steps slowly before moving more easily up the rest. He was safe, he knew he was, he held up his side to Vanitas.
As he reached the top of the stairs though and stared into his and Roxas' bedroom, he felt a twist in his stomach just like last night. He couldn't go back in there, he couldn't stand to be there again tonight, it was like walking into the nightmare instead of letting it come to him. He backed away from the door immediately, glancing down the stairs but instantly writing off the thought of seeing Sora again tonight, once was enough. Instead turning to look at the other doors in the hall, looking at his options for rest tonight.
Eyes resting on the bathroom uneasily. while it wasn't as tainted, it was also not somewhere comfortable to hide.
What was once his parent's bedroom, now empty and collecting dust… He could never sleep there.
The guest bedroom then.
He would stay in the guest bedroom, uncertain if he would ever feel right in returning to his own bed again.
The sun was beginning to rise by the time Sora left, frowning to himself and rubbing a stiff muscle in the back of his neck. He had spent the entire night sitting in the living room, hand brushing through Roxas' hair absentmindedly, staring into the darkness and simply thinking.
It wasn't a past time he particularly enjoyed, especially when it came to thinking about his own past, more particularly his past errors. He was a man of action, if something was going down and he didn't like it, then he did something about it, he didn't sit there formulating an argument or excuses. What was wrong was wrong, and he would fix it. It was simple, so very simple, to live this way.
Roxas was making it more complicated though.
He hadn't marked anyone since Kairi, and for good reason.
He couldn't just not mark Roxas though. His involvement with an unmarked human would have… repercussions. Nothing like any laws or rules saying he couldn't simply hang out with the guy, but rather other demons might start noticing all the time he was spending with him, might get curious, might try and butt their way in. And there are laws against killing other demons just because they tried marking a human you particularly like, so putting his mark on Roxas would at least keep attention off him…
Well, some attention off him.
The mark had its own powers too, but he doubted that Roxas would notice them. A marked human usually would be stricken with an insatiable urge to stay by the side of the demon that marked them, but so far Roxas was simply acting normal, nothing remarkably out of the ordinary about his behavior. That was good, he didn't really want to change Roxas… but it was still kind of weird though.
Now that he thought about it, didn't Vanitas mark Ven as well? Probably to counteract how much Ven probably hates him. That seems to be working though, even if the contract is lessening the power of the mark, despite how much he must hate Vanitas, Ven still asked for him when he was hurt… Or at least, that's what he gathered from what Roxas told him, it seemed that he was asking Roxas to call Vanitas.
On a side note, maybe he should sneak Vanitas' number into Ven's phone, that should make things a little interesting.
So the mark seems to be working on Ven… why hasn't Roxas seemed to be affected by it? Maybe something's wrong with the mark? Maybe he didn't give it enough power? Well, it didn't matter in the end anyways, he supposed, since he didn't really want to change Roxas anyways…
Roxas jerked awake in the early morning, somewhere between 5 and 6 am, his eyes searching the living room from his position still on the couch. He noticed immediately that Sora was gone, and the sun was just beginning to rise outside, so he lazily stood from the furniture and began to drag himself upstairs.
Pushing open the door to his and Ven's room, he glanced over and frowned at the sight of his twin's empty bed. Was Ven still not back yet? Sora had said that he would be coming home last night, but he must still be in the hospital after all. He would visit him later, he didn't want to leave his brother alone in a hospital. Collapsing onto his own bed for now, he sighed heavily as it felt like weight was just dropped on him.
Feeling another sudden wave of exhaustion come over him, his legs and arms felt like rubber and he groaned at the nausea that crept up on him, he rolled on his back to keep the feeling of puke from trying to escape through his throat when his eyes suddenly locked on to the site of a ruby red star blinking in the sky just outside his window. Roxas felt his breath catch slightly upon the sight of it, a foreboding aura around it, but at the same time saw no reason to be afraid of a star… he was just curious as to what it was…
He soon lost concern for that though, his eyes blurring more and more as the persistent blinking continued. His mind becoming sluggish, his body feeling achy, he just watched it as it seemed to grow closer to him, before it finally, as suddenly as it appeared… fell.
And then he could only see her smile.