I've always seen them. The monsters. But I didn't know what they were called until he came and told me what they were.
The day I met him was pretty typical. My adoptive dad and I had fought the night before and, despite the best efforts from Mom, weren't speaking to each other. Again. So he left for work that morning without saying good-bye. Again.
Mom had sighed and kissed my forehead, saying he'd cool down later and would talk to me again. "Maybe this time he'll accept you for you," she'd said hopefully. She always said that. It had yet to come true. For ten years Dad and I had fought. At first he'd thought the monsters were my imagination, but when I continued to talk about them well past the age of wild images at night, he'd began to argue with me, saying I was making up stories to get attention. "Shut up about the stupid monsters!" he'd always scream. "They are not real! Quit vying for attention!" I'd always fight back and Mom would cry, usually not in front of me, but I heard her when she'd leave the room. I hated making her cry, but God damn it, I was anything but a pushover, and I refused to let Dad win any quarrel we had.
Sighing, I made myself breakfast, packing my bag for school. The first term started tomorrow, but I wanted to be ready today, so I wouldn't forget anything the next morning when I left at six, which was o'dark early for me.
Mom left, slamming the door to make sure it stayed shut. The stupid thing never shut right when closed softly and you had to slam it hard to make sure it was shut. A few minutes after she left, there was a knock at the door.
Munching on my toast with sweet bean paste slathered on it, I opened the door to see a boy my age standing there in a school uniform, one I recognized. He was from True Cross Academy, one of the most reputed schools in the country. It had a record for turning out the best doctors, lawyers, and other experts. The boy had black hair that got in the way of his blue eyes that looked a lot like mine. He was slightly taller than me, my nose coming just about to his chin. As I studied him I said, "I'm Safaia Tottori. Who the hell are you and what do you want?"
He blinked. "Err…um…that is, I…" he stammered.
"If you're just going to waste my time then leave," I snapped, starting to shut the door.
"No, wait!" he yelped, leaping forward and grabbing the handle, pushing back to keep the door open. He was surprisingly strong, his strength actually giving me a run for my money. For as long as I could remember, no one, not even an adult, had matched my physical strength. I'd been known to break adult bones when I got into physical fights. I'd even broken Dad's collarbone once when he'd hit me and I'd hit back. I'd also managed to fracture two of his ribs. That had been when I was five.
"Who are you?" I growled, shoving back with all my might, still trying to shut the door.
"My name's Rin Okumura!" he said, shoving the door with his shoulder. "Please, I just want to talk! I swear!"
I let go of my side of the door and stepped back, watching with pleasure as he stumbled at the sudden absence of my force on the door. "Come on, then," I said gruffly, not waiting for his dumbstruck ass to follow me into the kitchen, where I could smell my pancakes burning. Damn. Stupid kid had made me burn my breakfast. Now I was really pissed.
Storming into the kitchen with the boy in tow, I motioned to the kitchen table and gruffly said, "You can sit there. Want anything? Water, a pancake?" I hurried to the stove and quickly flipped the little cakes, grimacing at their slightly burned tops.
"Uh, sure, I'll have a pancake," Okumura said, looking over my shoulder at the food. "Um, can I try cooking them?" He pointed at the griddle and gave me a questioning look.
Frowning, I slowly said, "Sure, I guess. There's not much you can do for them, though." Giving the pancakes a rueful look, I handed him the spatula and went to the fridge, pulling out a carton of milk. "Want some?" I asked, holding it up so he could see.
"Nah. Got any syrup?" He expertly flipped the finished cakes onto the plate I'd set out.
"I hope you like blueberry, 'cause that's all we got," I said, pulling the bottle out of the fridge and replacing the milk.
"Blueberry's my favorite," he smiled. "How about butter?"
"Here." I slid the tub to him.
"Great. Can you get me another two plates?" he asked kindly.
I grabbed the plates out of the cupboard and set them down on the counter. "There, is that all his majesty needs?" I asked sarcastically.
He turned pink. "I'm sorry," he snapped. "I'm just trying to help you. I'm a great cook, you know."
"No, I don't know," I shot back, my temper rising. I did my best to hold myself back. If I wasn't careful, the flames would come out. "And I'll be the test on whether or not you're a great cook. Gimme those pancakes."
"They're not done," he growled, and quickly slathered butter onto four of the cakes. He angrily flipped two onto one plate and the other two onto the other. He snatched the bottle of syrup and his plate and sat down at the table, fuming. Coating his cakes in syrup, and demanded, "Where's the silverware?"
"Here," I snapped, throwing a fork at him, which he caught with surprising ease.
Muttering darkly to myself, I grabbed my own pancakes and poured some syrup on them. Snatching up my own fork, I proceeded to eat them from the counter.
That first bite was pancake heaven. The butter had completely melted away any burned tastes, and the syrup made them even sweeter. I had to quickly swallow before my mouth dropped open in surprise. I shot the boy a look. "How the hell did you do this?" I asked, my anger dissolved for the moment.
He gave me a grin and said, "Told you I was a great cook."
Shaking my head in wonder, something occurred to me. "You also told me you wanted to talk to me about something. So talk. What's so important that you almost help me break my own front door and then cook me these amazing pancakes?"
He suddenly stopped chewing and his face grew cold and…a little sad. He stared out the window. I watched him, wondering why he wasn't saying anything. I watched his eyes, then traced his gaze. He seemed to be staring at…one of the monsters. It was a little black one, its body looking like a cat's head with a prehensile tail. I referred to these ones as "cat heads," as my six-year-old brain having nothing else to call them when I'd first seen them. The boy's eyes followed the path of the cat head, watching it float around outside the window. Past it, I could see a whole swarm of them around my mother's mushroom garden.
"You can see them?" I blurted.
He looked back at me, surprised. "Yeah, I can see the coal tars," he said.
"The what?" I asked.
"The coal tars," he said again. He pointed to the cat head. "Those things. They're demons. They're the kind that possesses fungi and dust. They like to hang around those and dark, depressing people. I'm kinda surprised they're not swarming you, with your charming personality." He grinned and said, "Then again, I'm not all that surprised considering…" He frowned and looked away, once again following the "coal tar" with his eyes.
"Considering what?" I demanded, frustrated. "You're making less and less sense the more you talk. Tell me what you want to tell me, damn it!"
The boy sighed and said, "God, there's no easy way to say this. Ok, you wanted to know. Don't say I didn't warn you." He turned and stared into my eyes. "My name's Rin Okumura. I'm the son of Satan. We believe you're my triplet sister."
My jaw dropped again. I was rendered speechless for the first time of my life. "So…" I said slowly. "I'm not insane?"
Rin's turn to drop his jaw. "Of all the things I thought you'd say, that was not one of them," he said. "Aren't you supposed to call me insane?"
"Well, since you can see the…demons too, either we're both insane or we're both in our right minds," I said. "I'm not so sure about us being triplets, though."
"I can prove that," he said easily. "Have you ever suddenly burst into blue flames, when you've been angry or scared or whatever?"
Once again I was stunned into silence for a moment. "How did you know?" I asked. Whenever I'd been angry, for as long as I'd seen the demons, I'd burst into blue flames. I'd eventually learned to control them, keeping them in check when I'd get angry, summoning them for when I needed to scare somebody off. I didn't make many friends that way. Only when I'd ever been truly outraged had they come out. Except…except for a few weeks ago. I'd been in my room, cleaning it, when I'd suddenly burst into flames. They'd roared out of my control, eating up everything within their reach, which had been just about everything in my room. Strangely enough, they didn't burn me. I'd only felt a warm tingle across my skin. My clothes hadn't burned, either. And, just as quickly as they'd come, they'd disappeared.
My room had been disintegrated into little more than ashes. It was what my adoptive father and I had been arguing about the night before. He'd thought I'd been playing with a lighter and had set my room on fire for some odd reason, and of course he didn't believe me when I told him what had happened. I'd even tried showing him my fire, but I wasn't able to summon it, for some reason.
"It happened to me, too," he said, suddenly pulling a sword from behind him. Somehow, he'd been able to hide it in the back of his shirt. It looked like a normal katana with a sheath, except for a small part of the sheath had a small hole that was…leaking some smoke.
"What is that?" I asked.
Rin grinned. "I'll show you," he said, and unsheathed the sword. Suddenly both he and I burst into flames, along with his sword. I yelped and leaped back, hitting the counter. All of the sudden, the flames on me went out. I looked back, wide-eyed, at Rin, who had…changed. His teeth were suddenly way more pointed, along with his ears, which looked like an elf's. His eyes were literally glowing, and he had a tail with fur on the end. Two spurts of blue flame were on his head, aligned like horns. He actually looked the part of Satan's son.
"What…the…hell," I murmured.
"I told you," he said. "We're the children of Satan. There are three of us." He sheathed the sword, and immediately the flames disappeared. Rin's ears shrank back to normal size, but they were still pointed, as were his teeth. I wondered how I hadn't seen that before. A small bit of motion made me look at Rin's tail. It was still there. All I could do was stare at it.
"Uh…Safaia?" he asked, shaking me out of my shock.
"Wait," I said. "You said there are three of us, three of Satan's kids."
"Yeah," he said, slinging the sword across his back. "There's me, you, and Yukio, our younger brother. We're triplets. Yukio and I originally thought we were twins, but—"
There was a sudden BAM! Rin and I spun to see a crazy-ass looking man standing on top of my kitchen table, dressed in a white top hat with pink and purple around the base, purple gloves, a tie that was pink with white dots, a white suit-shirt and undershirt, jester-style pants, and pointed shoes. His hair was a dark purple and his eyes were creepily like a cat's, but forest green instead of luminescent. He looked like a real freaky clown. "My, my, Rin," the man said, jumping down off the table. "You weren't supposed to take this long. What have you been doing?" He looked at the table at Rin's plate of partially eaten pancakes, then at my plate next to me. "Cooking, I presume?" He gave the table a disgusted look.
"Who the hell are you?" I demanded, glaring at the man who'd gotten boot prints all over my nice clean table.
"His name's Mephisto Pheles," a voice said, and I spun around to see a boy who looked a lot like Rin come into my kitchen. "I'm Yukio, your younger brother," he explained. He was dressed in a long black overcoat and had a pistol in either hand. He leveled them to my head and I immediately froze. "I'm here to kill you and Rin."