Holding Out For a Hero

~x~

Author's Note: Wow. College is tough. O_o

~x~

Chapter Seven: Heart of Darkness

For days, Elie silently followed Lucia around. Most of his life, it seemed, consisted of more meetings with that same group of men, sans the man that he had killed. For the most part, the blond had ignored Elie's presence, and the brunette began to wonder if she would have been better off locked away.

There was one advantage to her staying near Lucia, however; it gave the brunette all the time she needed to observe him. Oftentimes during those dreadful meetings, Elie would watch as he grew silent, one hand absently stroking the gem of his Dark Bring. If she really focused on it, she could almost hear that God-awful voice running through her mind.

Another advantage was that, as creepy as it sounded, Elie was able to witness Lucia's dreams. He slept in relative peace, and that was just it. During his waking hours, the blond seemed constantly tensed, as if he was always posed for attack. But, when he was asleep, all the tension seeped out of him. It was like looking at another person completely.

Despite all of this, however, the brunette couldn't seem to devise any sort of plan as to how she was going to pull anything off.

An even greater question – what was she going to pull off? She had no idea how to draw out the little bit of good that still resided in Lucia's heart; she wasn't even fully convinced he had any.

Doubt gnawed at her daily, and there were many nights that she would fall asleep with the decision to leave made, only to dream of that anguished look on his face and awaken with renewed determination.

All in all, it was a rather taxing experience.

To make matters worse, they were drawing nearer and nearer to this Hardner man, and Elie could only imagine how little time she had left. Whatever she needed to do, she had to do soon.

X

"Sir, Hardner has requested that you leave at once," reported a soldier one afternoon as the two of them were walking around the castle. It seemed almost romantic, these little walks, but Lucia spent the entirety of them with one hand attached to his Sinclair, and Elie divvied up her time with watching him and taking in the airship.

It was not often that they were interrupted; and even rarer that the interruption were allowed to walk away freely. Lucia, however, seemed too lost in thought to bother pulling out his newly reforged sword. "We are not yet at his door," he said in a steady voice.

Elie glanced at his face, noticing a distant look to his cloudy yellow eyes. "I-I know, sir. I received a message, and it politely asks that…" the soldier paused, glancing down.

"Well?"

"He politely asks that you 'stick your tail between your legs and start running the hell away.'"

Had she not feared for his life, the brunette might have laughed. Most people that worked under Lucia, like Lady Joker, had given him the utmost respect. Whoever this Hardner was, he had gained just an inkling of respect in Elie's eyes.

Lucia chuckled. "What a shame. Do not report back. Just continue moving," he instructed, waving the man away. For a few seconds, the soldier just stood there, staring at his superior. Rumors of the soldiers that reported to Lucia never returning were rampant around the airship; Elie had picked up a few as they walked away the ship.

"Go," she whispered, nudging him gently. Lucia did not notice, and the man quietly scurried off. "Who is Hardner?" she finally asked, unable to contain herself. Her voice was still raw from when he had grabbed her throat, but Elie was pleased to find that she sounded much stronger than she had been lately.

Broken completely from his trance, Lucia turned to look at her. "He is one of my greatest warriors," he explained stiffly, "Gone rogue, apparently. He has one of my Sinclairs, however, so I would like to ensure that your little friend does not take it from him as easily as he had with Doryu (A/N: I don't know if I've explained this before, but I refuse to call any villain 'Drew' .)."

"Aw, the great Lord Lucia is going to check up on one of his inferiors?" teased the brunette, grinning.

The glare that she received from Lucia was enough to make her want to sew her mouth shut. "No," he spat, turning to face her fully, "I am protecting my Sinclairs. Whether Hardner fails is irrelevant. If he does succeed, then he is worthy of the power he now has. If not, then he never was and it was a mistake to have assumed otherwise."

Elie couldn't help but see a certain amount of logic in that, much as she hated the thought. For all his ruthlessness, Lucia did have a level of politics in him.

The two resumed their walking in silence, and though the brunette detested the thought, she felt a fair amount of companionship in it. They walked in complete silence, and whatever words they might have spoken would surely have been filled with hatred and malice, and yet…

I suppose when you spend enough time with someone, willing or not, they become a part of you. And, Elie added mentally, it is nice to not be alone in the dark.

"I have no interest in fighting the Rave Master now," Lucia suddenly blurted out, sounding frustrated. Elie jumped slightly in shock, but soon realized that he was not speaking to her, but to the sword around his neck. "I already have what I need. What reason is there to destroy the Rave Master in body when I have surely already done so in spirit?"

Silence followed, but judging by the irritated flicker of his eyes, Elie assumed that the Mother Dark Bring had argued. "Then when the rest of this world is gone, so he shall be. So long as I have Etherion in my grasp, I have no need to kill him. He will die with the rest of the scum; he is no more special than they," he snapped, sounding even more irritated than before.

Without warning, the blond cried out as if he had been struck and fell to his knees. In horror, Elie watched as he writhed on the ground, clutching his head tightly. "Lucia?" asked Elie softly, leaning away.

Just as suddenly as it had started, the blond settled. Taking deep breaths, he picked himself off the floor, leaning against the nearest wall from his knees. "Yes, Mother," he gasped, more contempt in his voice than Elie had ever heard from him.

The scene was over and done with in perhaps no more than thirty seconds, but the brunette knew without question that it was vastly significant to her cause. "What just happened?" she asked, reaching out to him.

"Don't touch me," he snarled in reply, slapping her hand away. He was like a wounded animal, frustrated and hurt at the abuse of his owner. Elie felt a pang in her stomach as she realized how accurate the analogy truly was. "And don't ask questions. It is not your place to know what the Mother Dark Bring desires of me."

Even with that declaration, he did not move further from his knees. His torso quivered just slightly, enough to reveal a deep-seeded pain. "Why do you listen to that thing?" she asked softly, her voice dripping with pity.

Lucia must have detected the pity in her voice, for he quickly stood up and whacked her away. "I cannot argue with Mother," he said. "Her word is law."

It was almost eerie, Elie decided. Not even a minute ago, he was on the floor writhing around in pain caused by the damn stone, and now he was saying that her word was law. "You were just arguing her word a second ago," Elie pointed out, following him closely. The blond did not answer, lost again in thought.

"I do as Mother instructs."

The brunette stumbled, caught off guard on how much of a drone he sounded. "Do you even hear yourself?" she asked, catching up to him quickly. "It sounds like you don't even want to do what she says!"

Before Elie could think of anything more to say, he reached out and pinned to the wall by her neck. Not enough to truly worry her, but enough to restrict her breathing and, thus, silencing her. "You know nothing," he hissed in her ear, anger flickering in those yellow eyes. Elie met his gaze as evenly as she could given the circumstances, keeping the two locked in that cruel embrace for several seconds before he finally threw her down.

"I know what a Dark Bring does to a heart," she gasped out, clutching her throat. Admittedly, she was growing increasingly tired of this abuse, but she was determined to stay until this was done. "I've…I've seen it. Saw what it did to Go."

The blond didn't answer, moving away from her to continue his walk. "I know what you are, Lucia!" she suddenly cried out, using all the strength she could muster up into her voice.

"Oh?" demanded Lucia, swiveling on his heel and walking back to her. His sword was in hand now, and he pressed the blade near her neck to intimidate her. "And what am I, Elie? A monster? A devil? Please, enlighten me!"

"You're just a scared little boy that wants his mommy!"

Fury enveloped any trace of amusement the blond had had and he grabbed her neck and heaved her up, slamming her against the wall. "I am not a boy!" he screeched, stabbing the sword into the wall next to her head. "I am Lucia Raregroove, heir to the great and powerful Raregroove Empire; I am the Lord of Demon Card. I am the Dark Bring Master!"

Elie wasn't sure, but she was beginning to think she had hit a nerve. "You're a puppet!" she choked out, her fingernails scratching at what she could of his hands. "You're being used by the Sinclair!"

"Silence!" he screamed, pressing his nose close to hers, but Elie wasn't done yet.

"Sinclair found you when you were young and weak and scared and hurt and it picked you to be it's puppet!

"Sinclair isn't your mother!"

It was the last thing that Elie could manage to get out before he tightened his grip and the only noise that the brunette could make was a gagging-gurgling sort of sound. Spots began to appear in her vision, and for the first time she believed that he was actually about to kill her. However, just when she didn't think she could take any more of it, he threw her to the ground.

Relief was short-lived, though, as he slammed his foot down on her chest and brought his sword down on her. The blade pierced through her arm as if it was cutting paper, and if Elie could have, she would have screamed. "You know nothing!" screamed Lucia, a manic look in his eyes. "Sinclair chose me and saved me from the dark! Mother has given my life purpose when I thought I had none! Do not dare to insult Mother, you wretched wench!"

"You know I'm right," gasped Elie, refusing to give up. She wasn't going to let this go. She wasn't going to give up. "Let…let me help you."

Just like that, all the fight drained out of him. He stumbled backwards, allowing his sword to clatter to the floor, soon following it. "Wh-what?" he asked softly, his yellow eyes wide. Elie coughed and picked herself up, reminding herself that she had suffered worse injuries and stood.

"I can help," she said again, kneeling in front of him. "I can. You…you just have to…let me."

Gently, she reached out and placed her quivering hand over his shaking one. His eyes did not leave hers, nor did he blink, but a single tear began to slide down his cheek. Behind the hate and anger in his eyes, Elie knew that somewhere deep down, there cried a little boy, only wanting salvation from the dark. "You don't have to be alone anymore," she whispered, gripping his hand.

Something broke in Lucia right then, and he threw himself at her, sobbing into her shoulder. The brunette did not gasp in pain, but wrapped her arms around him tightly and gave him the comfort that he had always needed.

Lucia Raregroove was a man. No human being was capable of not giving into the temptation of darkness; even Haru, a being of light, had fallen to the Ninth Form's Darkness. To put a child in the darkest of prisons and expect him to come out as fine as he was when he went in was madness. The Sinclair had taken his mind and controlled it, used his body for what it could not accomplish alone.

And Elie had done the impossible. She had reached in and pulled out the human in him that still existed.

An unexpected surge of affection flooded through Elie as she comforted him, one that she could not place. It was not the same magnitude that she felt for Haru or Musica, but enough that Elie knew she would carry it with her forever. "I can help you," she whispered to him softly, gently rubbing his back.

Finally, after what seemed like a century, Lucia rose and wiped his eyes. "Thank you, Elie," he said hoarsely, not meeting her gaze, "You're right. The Mother Dark Bring was just…using me. But, no longer."

Just as he said it, a great quake shook the ship and caused the two to fall. Lucia dove under Elie and shielded her from falling on his blade, holding her against his chest tightly. Despite herself, the brunette found herself blushing brightly.

"All units to the main deck. The Rave Master is infiltrating the ship. I repeat, all units to the main deck…"

"Haru!" Elie said happily, a smile spreading across her face. "Lucia, this is it! Haru and the others, they can help too!" she said, "Come with me. We'll leave together and they'll make it better."

The blond looked at her incredulously for a second, but nodded. The two quickly stood up and, hand in hand, ran through the flying ship towards the main deck.


"Where are you, Lucia?!" screamed Haru, taking down several men at once. This was their last chance before confronting Hardner; it had to be now. Even if he could not fight Lucia and win, he could at least rescue Elie.

"I don't see him," Musica called back, fighting next to him. "Maybe he's waiting for you to come to him?"

"I see them!" screamed Let suddenly. Haru bashed a guy to the floor and turned to find where Let was. He stood on a raised platform with his hand extended. "There! The two of them are…running together."

Haru scowled. "Must be a trick," he decided, searching for them. From his vantage point, he couldn't see either of them, but he knew that they were there. It was enough. "ELIE!" he screamed over the noise of everything.

I'm coming!


"Stay here," Elie instructed, stopping Lucia. He looked at her curiously for a second before glancing at the crowd of soldiers. It wasn't a big army, not even enough to stop Haru alone. "If they see you come with me, they'll just attack you. Let me go ahead and explain that you're coming along."

Reluctantly, Lucia nodded, squeezing her hand. "I trust you," he breathed. It was unlike anything he had ever felt, this sense of…feeling. Emotions that he thought were long gone flooded up to the surface, threatening to take control of him. Instinctively, he fought against it, but something about Elie's trust made him pause.

As she ran ahead, he watched her. She was much more than just the Etherion User, he decided. She was a human – and a beautiful one at that. A light in the darkness. Lucia smiled – a real, genuine smile – and reached up to touch his lips.

What strange feelings…


"Guys!" Elie cried happily, running towards them. They had taken down every soldier that had made it to the main deck, so it was a straight shot. "Guys!"

They all came running at her, dropping their weapons. Musica reached her first, embracing her tightly. He hugged her so fiercely; she was half-convinced that he would break her in two. "C-careful," she gasped, still weak from Lucia's attack a mere fifteen minutes prior. The silverclaimer laughed and loosened his grip, but kept a firm arm around her. "Where's Haru?"

To answer her question, Lucia screamed.

All the hairs on the back of her neck stood straight, and the brunette began to struggle against Musica's embrace. "Lucia?" she asked softly, her eyes finding him.

Haru stood over his body, the Ten Commandments dripping in blood. There was something beautifully terrifying about the way Haru stood over him; intense, serious, and for the first time in his life, heartless.

Musica quickly grabbed her and began running back towards their ship, shouting commands out to the others. Elie heard nothing, saw nothing except for the look of confusion on Lucia's face.

He was good! He was going to give it all up and start a new leaf – start over! Elie kept on screaming in her head, hot tears burning down her cheeks. I don't understand…I don't get it!

Before she knew it, she was buckled away in a much smaller air-carrier. They were leaving. Just like that. Come in, heartlessly stab an innocent man, and leave. Anger exploded inside of her chest for just a second before it quickly dissipated. She had to see him again. Had to try to remedy what had just happened.

Suddenly, she yanked the chain off her neck and gripped it in her palm. "Wait!" she screamed, her voice cutting through the orders. "I left my necklace back in the room he kept me in."

Musica and a tall blonde woman turned to look at her. "I can't leave it behind. Please," she added, knowing that the desperation in her eyes would be misread entirely. "I know my way around. I'll be there and back again in ten minutes flat."

"I'll go with you," the woman offered, standing up.

"No!" cried the brunette, already half way out of the ship. "I know where I'm going. You'll just slow me down," she explained, shouldering open the door and jumping out before they could argue. Her feet hit the ground after a second of drop, and she crumbled. No time! she reminded herself hotly, breaking into a sprint.

The others were all gone, waiting for Musica to take them off. The airship, glancing back at it, was larger than just a small carrier, but not near the size of Lucia's flying fortress. There were no windows that she could see, so she forced herself to run faster, necklace cutting into her hand.

Lucia was not where he had last been, but a sickening trail of blood remained. The brunette didn't think about it, she just followed it about forty feet to where he had finally collapsed entirely. The sight was heartbreaking – Lucia on his stomach, clutching a wound that she could not see, staring at her with only a trace of consciousness.

"Lucia," Elie breathed, sliding down next to him. He twitched slightly at his name, and his eyes flickered to her.

As carefully as she could, she turned him over and laid his head on her lap. His hand clutched a bleeding wound in his stomach, but Elie knew that it wouldn't kill him. He was too strong for that, and Haru was too kind. "You…you said that they would help…" he gasped out, his eyes accusing.

Elie looked down for a second to compose herself before responding. "I didn't expect Haru to just come running at you," she explained tearfully, stroking his cheek.
"I…I should have…known," he wheezed, coughing violently. "The bad guy…never gets the girl."

"That's not true!"

Elie had said to reassure him that it wasn't over, to remind him that it didn't have to be this way. However, as soon as the words were out of her mouth, she knew that she meant it.

In some way, she still hated Lucia. She hated all that he had done to her, and Haru, and everyone else in the world that he had harmed. Yet, at the same time, she loved him for all that he could be. She loved Lucia Raregroove because it was what he needed more than anything else in the entire world.

"G-go," he breathed, closing his eyes, as if the mere sight of Elie was harming him. When Elie did not move, tears began to fall from his eyes and he more forcefully pushed her away. "Go!"

No matter how much she hated it, Elie couldn't resist it. She had failed. The darkness would swallow Lucia whole and destroy the beam of hope she had given. No…not the darkness. Not the same darkness that had once controlled him. This would be voluntary. This would be a much different type of darkness; this would be the darkness brought only by lack of hope.

But, even so, she could not leave him there, not like this. Nervously, she leaned down close to his ashen cheeks and, with her heart fluttering like a butterfly, pressed her lips against his.

The kiss was soft and gentle, nothing at all like the last one they shared. Although he did not respond, he gave no resistance at all to it, save for a slight twitch at first. It was over in just a few seconds, but the brunette knew that she had left an impression on him. "I'm so sorry," she whispered once more before dropping the necklace on his chest and rushing off.

Each step she took caused another fracture in her heart until, by the time she reached the airship, she fell to her knees with an anguished cry.
The last thing she saw was Haru throwing open the door and his mouth open in angered surprise, and then…nothing.


Never before had Lucia felt a hatred so extreme in his life. It boiled hot in his blood, forcing his limbs to move without his consent. He called forth his blade and, with tears in his eyes, followed Elie's retreating figure.

Somewhere in the blackhole that was his heart, he knew that it was not her fault. She had sincerely wanted to help.

Did I not tell you this would happen? The light…when has it even been kind to you? When has it ever done you well? It rejected you for no reason, and now it has done this to you.

Lucia scowled at the retreating figure, silently prowling behind her, ignoring the nagging voice in his head. It was all he had known since he was six; it was all he would ever know. Sinclair was the one true constant in his life; Mother would never leave him so long as he was loyal to her.

Yes, yes! Feel that rage and hatred… Look at what the girl has done to you! She has been nothing but trouble since you first snatched her away. Make her suffer in all the ways that she has made you suffer, my child!

The blond cried out in rage, and reared back the bulky sword. Elie stopped just by the airship, only for a second, but just enough for the Dark Bring Master to lunge forward and pierce her feeble body with the sword, just as Haru had done to him not long ago.

The brunette cried out and collapsed to the ground. As she fell, he pulled the blade free and jerked it to the right to fling some of the blood off of it. Haru stood in the entryway of the ship, staring at the scene with wide eyes. "Elie!" he screamed, jumping down and kneeling next to her. "You bastard!"

His words meant nothing to him. Lucia stared down at him with a face of uncaring, a face devoid of any emotion other than malice. "Take her," he spat, flicking saliva down at her, "She is of no use to me anymore."

That said, he turned around and began to walk away, wiping away the trail of blood leading from his lips.

Good boy… Mother is proud of you. You are the Dark Bring Master; you are the embodiment of darkness itself! Together…together, my dear, we shall exterminate this surreal existence and create a world where all is right again!

Lucia smirked and nodded curtly. There could be no other way.

There would never be any other way.

As he walked, he spotted the necklace that she had left on his chest, laying on the floor where it had fallen off. As he walked by it, he made sure that his right foot stomped on it, breaking it pieces.

~x~

Author's Note: I really like how this chapter turned out, actually. I actually wrote this entire chapter in about five days, starting on Thursday, working through Friday, not writing at all during the weekend (I don't know why) and then again yesterday and today.
:D
It has a lot of stuff happening in it, but there was no way to draw any of it out long enough to break it up. Well, there could be.
But I like how it turned out.
This isn't the end of it, though! I'm thinking maybe another two or three more chapters to wrap it all up and end it.
:D Anyways, I hope you all enjoyed~