The Scars of the Past
True to his word shortly after crafting such a particularly gruesome nightmare for Danny, Pitch became quite drained and ended up falling asleep on Artemis's couch no sooner than he returned to the writer's residence. He then proceeded to sleep there undisturbed for four days and nights… When he finally began to wake up on the afternoon of the fifth day, it was only because he felt someone poking him in his face… Cracking open a tired golden eye, Pitch Black stared straight into the face of the young boy that was Artemis's godson and the child he had given a reality distorting nightmare only a few days prior. Imagine the poor Boogeyman' surprise to see the child staring at him with eyes filled with fascination, curiosity and without the slightest hint of fear.
"Um… Artemis?!" He called out as he managed to sit up, although his bones and muscles still felt tired and weak.
"Auntie Artemis went out to get some food, she said would be back as fast as she can." The young boy said as his eyes remained locked on Pitch. "Auntie said that you're the Boogeyman; are you really?" He questioned with childish curiosity extremely noticeable in his voice. This was really a bit of a strange situation for Pitch… namely being this close to child who is actually able to see him and is not afraid of him at all.
"Yes, I am indeed the Boogeyman." Really he didn't mean to sound half as awkward as he was feeling, but he really couldn't quite help it. "You're… not scared of me?"
"Why should I? Auntie says you're one of the nicest people she's ever met!" Danny said flashing a broad smile at Pitch who just raised a nonexistent eyebrow at this child whilst making a mental note to have a word with Artemis about this... he did have a reputation to protect after all. "Do you wanna play game?"
"No." He answered flatly as he began to lay back down on the couch and tried to get comfortable once again. Figuring that if the kid saw that he was trying to sleep, the boy would leave him alone…
Naturally he had no such luck…
"You wanna watch some TV?"
"No… besides there's never anything on." He grumbled, finding this kid to be more than a little annoying… espescially when he would like nothing more than to go back to his dreamless sleep.
"Aww come on! Please!? There is a horror movie marathon on right now and I don't want to watch it alone!" Danny pleaded and attempted to use the 'Puppy Dog Pout' on the overtired Boogeyman.
"…would your aunt really allow you to watch such a thing? Even with adult supervision?" Pitch inquired, suddenly a little bit interested in where this conversation was going. He could find the strength to fully wake himself up for this.
"Well…" Danny suddenly looked a bit sheepish at this. "Auntie Artemis is not here right now..."
By the time Artemis actually returned from the grocery store, she opened her front door and walked in to an entirely dark house. Just as she began to wonder if the power had gone out, an ear piercing, bloodcurdling scream came from in her living room! Immediately recognizing the screams owner to be Danny she dropped all of the groceries that she had just bought and she rushed inside… only to see Pitch and Danny watching the movie 'Python.' And it was all too clear that Pitch was enjoying watching the five year old freak out much more than the movie.
"What the hell are you two doing?!" Artemis demanded, only for poor Danny to jump up and scream yet again! Having not noticed his aunts return.
"Just teaching your godson a lesson." Pitch said simply. "If someone tells you not to do something, chances are there's a good reason for it." Artemis didn't say anything to this, but she did smack Pitch hard upside the head before moving on to calm her frantic godson. And after a few long minutes the boy did calm down… and once assured that there were no giant snakes around. (Nyoka was thankfully napping upstairs in Artemis's bedroom and the irritated writer made a note to make sure that he would not make himself known to Danny until this whole Python thing blew over…) She told him to go and play in his room, since she now needed to have a word with her other guest. While Danny quickly went to do as he was asked, he did pause halfway to his room.
"Um… can I go play outside instead? I'd like to make a snowman." He asked. And after a second of thinking it over, Artemis nodded.
"Just be sure to wear your coat, hat and gloves." She said which caused Danny to smile and then rush off in order to gather the specified clothing items. This left Artemis to return her full glaringly obvious irritation back to a certain Boogeyman. "What were you thinking? Letting him watch those kinds of movies… he'll have nightmares for a week!"
"Yes… and you will notice that I'm actually awake for the first time in a few days? Danny's fear actually helped rejuvenate some of my strength." Pitch asked in a very smug manner. It also brought him a great deal of amusement to watch as Artemis suddenly remembered that he was the incarnation of fear itself and it was his job to scare children. "Although I do have to wonder, why is the boy here anyway? I thought after you took care of his father he would be reunited with his mother?"
"Well while you have been asleep these past few days a lot of things have happened. For starters did you forget that Dreary is still in the hospital? She is actually going to be in there for another week due to the severity of her injuries… And there is a bit of an investigation going on in regards to Lionel's death. It was so bizarre that the authorities want to make absolutely sure it had nothing to do with foul play. So until that all blows over, Danny is going to be staying here. It was either this or a foster home which I would not allow."
"That makes sense." Pitch commented as he and Artemis then watched Danny, now fully clothed in his winter gear race outside to begin building his snowman. But that was when something else suddenly caught Pitch's eye. From what he could see, it appeared that Artemis now had several heavy bandages wrapped around both of her forearms with several drops of red beginning to seep through in some locations. "Wait… what happened to you?" He asked as he gestured to the bandages. Artemis just chuckled slightly before rolling up her sleeves to fully expose her now bandaged arms.
"I tried a new experiment with my Magic Artist abilities… aaannnd… it didn't quite go as planned, not to mention that it hurt like hell. But… I still think it was partially successful." And with that she began to unwrap these bandages…
Revealing what she had done to herself…
It was all too clear what she had TRIED to do but apparently failed MISERABLY at! As Artemis's arms were now adorned with insanely scarred up, poorly done tattoos… Pitch didn't even need to ask how she done it! The writer must have put some Nightmare Sand into some tattoo ink, dipped her writing quill into it and proceeded to carve designs into her own flesh! What she had drawn into herself on each arm was the kanji symbol of fire, surrounded by small little flame designs… All of which were poorly done and looked as though they had been extremely painful to inflict upon herself! The Boogeyman just stood there for moment, jaw open and staring in complete horror at the sight before him.
"What… the… hell...?" He asked her as she actually ran a finger over one of these pathetic excuses of tattoos. The skin was raised up, swollen and scarred all to hell. "Are you completely batshit?"
"No…" Artemis explained as she immediately yanked her arm out of Pitch's grip. Which he found a little bit strange, but what he found even stranger was how she suddenly went three shades paler in spite of having barely any color to her skin to start with. Although after a few seconds she managed to get a grip on herself and she cleared her throat. "For your information, I got the idea in my head after watching a segment on tattoos on the History channel… my brief dabbling in the art of tattooing did yield some rather interesting results however." And with that Artemis clenched her fist and then proceeded to open it very slowly… revealing that these crude tattoo's had suddenly flared to life, glowing with a vibrant red/orange light…
…and a small flame danced elegantly within her palm…
Pitch said nothing as he observed the flame's movement, but his eyes wandered back over to the self-inflicted tattoos and watched as the longer she kept the flame burning, the quicker this tattoo actually started to fade away… as he expected, the power contained within small samples of his Nightmare Sand could be depleted over time if used in such a manner. But as he watched the images fade off of Artemis's arm he realized that he had been incorrect in his earlier observation. It appeared that the heavy scarring on the writers arms had nothing to do with these ratty tattoos… they were far older.
"As I'm sure you've noticed, this little trick is a lot harder to sustain than some of the other things you are capable of…" and with that he gestured to the tattoos that were still visibly fading away. "It would most likely last longer if these had come out better."
"Well excuse me, do you have any idea how bad this hurt to do? Tattooing is not exactly my chosen profession."
"There are other ways to do this and get the same, if not a better result." Pitch explained calmly. "I'll help you with that later. But for now, how about you answer a question for me?"
"Where did you really get these scars? You tried to hide them underneath these crappy excuses for tattoos." Artemis's face immediately hardened and her eyes flashed dangerously.
"I don't think that it's any of your business!" She growled in a warning manner, but Pitch paid her no heed and continued on.
"Technically we are in business together, so I find myself quite curious… besides it's not like I am going to go repeating whatever you tell me to anyone. I'm a spirit remember?" Although Artemis did continue to wordlessly glare at him for a little bit longer, he did make a good point… so she sighed irritably and shook her head.
"Fine… I got the scars when I was eleven years old… back when I was institutionalized at a psycho ward." She explained, although her voice suddenly sounded very cold and distant. Undoubtedly this was not a happy topic for her.
Pitch was actually quite shocked by this revelation. "You were in an asylum? Why? You don't seem unstable... of course I am hardly one to judge."
"I'm not and I wasn't… but everyone thought that I was. Think about it Pitchy; I see spirits. And an eleven year old does not know how to keep their mouth shut… So when I started talking about seeing things that no one else could see, my parents had me taken to the Looney Bin!" Artemis's voice seethed in barely controlled anger. "I was only supposed to be in there for a week or two, but my parents made me stay in that hell hole for a whole year! They wanted to make sure that they fixed whatever was wrong with me so I wouldn't embarrass them anymore with my overactive imagination! These scars that now adorn my body were little presents from the nurses. When they went to take blood samples or give me an injection they always had difficulty finding my veins so they'd stab me with the needles over and over again! At some point I think they were just doing it for laughs… but even when I got out of that place and went back to school, the scars made everyone think that I was some kind of cutter or something." At this she made a fist and slammed it on her countertop… hard. Although thankfully not hard enough to injure either herself or the said counter and after a second or so she looked up, her eyes were slowly losing their dark luster indicating that she was calming down.
"Now it's your turn Pitch. What's up with your wrists?"
"I see you rubbing at your wrists sometimes and judging by the way you do it, I don't think you're doing it consciously. What's up with that hmm?" She chuckled darkly at the Boogeyman's suddenly irritated glare. "What? You wanted to know my business so it's only fair that I know yours; the door has to swing both ways Pitchy."
"…fine… remember how I said ten years ago that I had made an attempt at a resurgence only to be defeated? Well my nightmares turned on me and dragged me down into my lair… they didn't let me go."
"What do you mean?"
"It was exactly what it sounds like. They imprisoned me in my own lair, shackled me to the wall… and brutally tormented me with horrors from my… memories. Imagine your worst nightmare, the memories that bring you the most pain… now imagine being unable to escape from that memory no matter how hard you try. I was trapped like that for eight years…" At this he locked his gold eyes into Artemis's ruby ones. "Can you fathom that? Fathom the misery and anguish I endured for all that time?"
"Actually… I can." She stated in a tone that sounded completely dead and lifeless. "What's your worst memory? The one that you were trapped in for all those years?" At those words that memory burned through Pitch's mind like a dragons flame…
Memories of a beautiful innocent child, his child…
Memories of that beautiful sweet little girl and the butterflies she loved to chase through flower fields…
The memory of his daughters face frozen in death, taken by the plague…
And from that day forward all he had known was fear and misery…
"Now that I'm not telling you!" He said icily; angry that she had even dared to ask him such a private question. "There are topics between us that are, and should remain off limits… or should I start asking you about your son? The one that Lionel mentioned before you killed him in cold blood?" Instantly Pitch could tell that he might have crossed a line because if looks could kill, Artemis's rage filled glare would have killed him… again…
But just before it looked like Artemis was going to do something that might compromise her little arrangement with Pitch, a sudden burst of loud happy laughter resounded from outside in Artemis's front yard. Wisely choosing to walk away before she did something she would regret, Artemis turned her attention towards just what her godson was up to outside… especially since she was pretty sure that she was hearing another voice outside with Danny. However when she looked outside, the blood froze solid in her veins…
Outside, helping Danny build a truly impressive looking snowman was none other than the winter demon that Artemis was fully intending to kill…
Yep that is it for this chapter I am being evil and ending it there! As always please remember to read and review! ^_^