Chapter Thirty-One

Remembrance: written by Kora Knight & Raven Foxx 

"Gotta get him out of my head."

JAZZ
It’s been a few days since Seth removed his addictive essence from Jazz's body. Jazz no longer feels physical pain. His body has been free to function, hell to breathe, like normal. But Jazz has new concerns now. A part of him had hoped that once his form had been purged of the vampire's influences that he'd be back to his old self. So far, that doesn’t seem to be the case. At all. Although he isn’t experiencing brutal withdraw pangs through every fiber of his being, he’s still hurting. Inwardly. In a way that isn’t physical. It’s still hard to eat. Still hard to concentrate. Still so very hard to sleep.

Most unsettling, though, is the fact that his wings still remain gray. He’s afraid to contemplate the reasons for his newfound state. So, he decides not to, resolving to do the only thing he can do.

Just keep on keepin' on.

 

* * * * *

 

SETH
Through the night he moves, roof top to roof top, no longer trusting himself to move among the humans. To a roof on the outskirts of the city, he stops. Standing there, thinking himself as far from Jazz as he can get, yet still feeling as if the male surrounds him, he groans.

“Won’t you ever leave me be?”

He breathes in deeply he sighs.

Who is he kidding?

The angel could be anywhere and he'd still feel him. His mind, his very being, is in tune to the male. He’ll never be free of this clawing pain.

Lifting his eyes to the sky, he aches to be among those clouds soaring amidst the stars. With Jazz. Wings or no wings. It doesn't matter.

He turns and searches the night around him. With a laboring beat of his heart, it feels as if the angel has come to stand behind him.

So damn close and yet so far away!

He fights the urge to bellow. It proves quite the battle, going so far as to bite his tongue to cause himself pain.

Pressing the heel of his hand to his left eye, he curses. “Will you ever stop this torment? Will you ever stop these games?”

With a growl he turns and looks at the streets below, finding them all nearly empty. He drops, his coat flaring around him as if a new set of wings. Landing with bended knees, he rises to his full height again and peers around. So much about him has changed, he can feel it like some strange new weight. But he’s still a monster, the same one that’d been ingrained in him, who needs to hunt, to remind the world who is the Master.

JAZZ
Jazz watches silently from where's he crouched atop a New York City water tower. He's been following Seth for over an hour now, ever since he first picked up his aura. Even after all they've been through together, the vampire still intrigues the hell out of him.

What is Seth doing?
Where is he going?
Why is he radiating so much anger?
Has something happened?

Jazz can’t help but wonder—is it because of Jazz that he’s is unsettled? Does Seth miss him?

Jazz is pulled from his musings. Seth is on the move again. Taking to the sky once more, he catches a current in the elevated atmosphere, allowing him to coast soundlessly above the sleeping city. Like a hawk, his keen eyes zero in on their target. Even as Seth moves in and out of the shadows, Jazz never loses sight of him. His mind has become transfixed on the male.

Where is he going now?

Seth’s paths don’t appear to hold any rhyme or reason. Jazz cocks his head in puzzlement.

And then he sees him. The human Seth is tracking, following. Hunting.

Jazz stiffens, then drops out of the current to veer closer, his powerful wings flapping slowly in his controlled descent. His heart pounds faster the closer his gets. His mouth actually waters.

Watching as Seth closes in on the male, he mutters tensely under his breath, “No, Seth. Don’t. Leave him be.”

 

SETH
‎Fangs aching, hunger boiling nearly as out of control as his anger, he wants nothing more than to rip into the mortal before him. Cloaked in shadows, he follows him.
Wait.
What is—

Stilling, he frowns in the shadows of the alleyway and looks around. Something is off. He no longer feels the rage. A strange peace washes over him. A calm. Or rather, a sudden lack of interest.

Lifting his gaze, he searches the heavens. “Why? Why did you curse me like this, then tease me with that?”

Snarling, he forces himself, step by step, to walk away, only to stop again and press his hand against a building. Breathing deeply, he fights the fresh onslaught of a rage, then slams his fist into the brick wall, sending chunks flying. Overhead a cloud opens up. A heavy downpour ensues, as if the city is sensing his mood.

Uncurling his fist, he ignores its ravished knuckles, and centers himself. “No more games. I must feed.”

JAZZ
Jazz scowls as he watches Seth fall back into his advancement, the sudden rain drenching his clothes in a matter of seconds. Inside, his essence stirs, the part of him that makes him what he’s been created for. A mission angel. Fashioned to eradicate demon presence from the human realm, keeping mankind safe from their supernatural attacks. If Seth goes for his prey, Jazz will be compelled to stop him.

He sets down on a rooftop just above where Seth is stalking. He can feel the vampire's emotions fluctuating wildly. It affects Jazz down to his core. His wings shudder and shake, trying to remain dry enough to fly.

Jazz curses. Seth is on the hunt again.

Damn it.

Shoving into a run, he leaps off the edge of the building, his soaked wings controlling his drop toward a darkened lane. His mission instincts war with personal interests. If Seth doesn’t back off his newest quarry, Jazz will have to intervene. He won’t be able to stop himself. To resist.

Landing in a crouch, Jazz slips into the shadows, retracting his wings as he catches sight of Seth passing the mouth of the alleyway. The vampire is mere feet away now from his oblivious target.

Soundlessly, Jazz follows after, his body kicking into auto pilot. “Don’t do this, Seth,” he mutters. “Don’t force my hand.”

 

SETH
‎In one flash of movement, he jerks his prey into the darkness. Clamping his mouth over the male's neck, his sharp fangs sink through the weak skin, his eyes closing as warm blood floods into his mouth. A shudder racks his body. He growls, staring past the male's shoulder, feeling as the man's body begins to slump…

Slowly, he lifts his head, aching to finish off his prey.

Snarling, he shoves the human to the ground. “Damnable angel. This is the last one I spare for you. No more.”

Consumed with fresh rage, and the ache of raw loneliness, shadows swallow him whole into the darkness of the night.

 

JAZZ
Jazz exhales as Seth disappears, leaving the dazed male behind. And alive.

Close call. Jazz had been a split second away from engaging him. And he’d been dreading it. But there is no fighting his mission angel instincts. Resistance is futile.

As Seth's essence dissipates completely, Jazz walks over to the human lying on the ground. He is alive, yes, but barely. Seth took too much and had done so too roughly. The guy’s neck is a bruised and shredded mess.

Frowning, he lays his glowing hand on the male's wound, murmuring a blessing while erasing the traumatic memory. Soon the man is healed, but is still very weak, so Jazz stays with him, guarding him while he's defenseless, until he fully comes around. A second before his eyes open, Jazz disappears into the night, heavy hearted yet strangely satisfied that he encountered Seth.

 

 

* * * * *

 

 

JAZZ
It’s been an interesting afternoon. While footing it to the corner store, Jazz ran into an angel he hasn’t seen in ages. Shani, from the guardian ordinance, assigned to an individual who lives in Manhattan. Jazz had interacted with her in the past on a number of occasions, having easily picked her up on his angel radar, but they’d never amounted to anything other than acquaintances. Nevertheless, they were always still friendly and still knew each other by name. Which is why, when they crossed paths today, he knew something was off. She genuinely hadn’t recognized him when he’d stopped to say hello. What’s more, she’d looked lost and kind of confused.

So, being the good and decent angel he is, he resolved to help her any way he could. It didn’t take long to discover she was suffering from amnesia. Or more specifically, what looked suspiciously like a memory wipe. She still knows her name and address, and thankfully, that she’s an angel, but doesn’t remember the reason, her purpose, for being here.

Unfortunately, Jazz couldn’t give her many answers. Because, again, he doesn’t know her well. But he could give some temporary distraction to her unsettled mind.

So, they took to the skies and did some casual east coast soaring. As the sun began to settle, though, they decided to head, their feet landing soundlessly on her apartment’s roof top. But as they head toward the stairwell door, Jazz pauses in his tracks. For some reason, he doesn’t want to go inside just yet.

Turning to Shani, he smiles. “You know what? It’s such an awesome day, and we don’t really get that many of these this time of year... What do you say we hang out outside a little bit longer?” He shrugs. “Maybe try to jog some of your memories and unearth some answers?”

Shani tilts her head at him thoughtfully. “Um. Yeah, sure. Okay. It’s a pretty day. No reason not to enjoy as much as we can of it.” She climbs up on a large air conditioning unit and peers out over the city, then turns back and eyes Jazz as if waiting for him to come sit down next to her.

Jazz ambles over and joins her.

She quietly meets his gaze. “So, jog my memories, huh. And how exactly do you propose we do that?”  

‎Jazz tucks his wings in and shrugs again. “I dunno. Maybe if I talk about some of the times we've had in the past it might get the ball rolling.” He smiles at her as she looks up at him, then turns and points a few blocks down. “You see that building over there? We both went to a summit meeting there. They debriefed us on some geomagnetic pulses that had recently breached the hemisphere. Warned us that humans would be acting all kinds of strange for a while. And man, was that the truth. Two crazy weeks.” He turns back to Shani, a grin on his lips. “Crazy people everywhere. Ring any bells?”

Shani tamps back a laugh. “Not really. But it does feel like… like I know what you’re saying is true.” She looks at said building and sighs. “So, that's a start, right?”

Jazz smiles with a nod. “Yep. It’s definitely a start.” He racks his brain and pulls up another memory. “Okay, let’s see if we can get your motor revving a little more. There was this time a few months back,” he chuckles boyishly, “where I kept butt dialing you. I had no idea I was doing it, your number was just one in my whole list of angel contacts, but it apparently drove you up the friggin’ wall. So, you tracked down my location and appeared on my balcony, not knowing who the owner of the annoying calls was. I was asleep when you arrived, but boy did I grace you with an eyeful.”

“An eyeful?” Shani blinks at him with a totally blank expression.

Jazz’s lips curve sheepishly. “Yeah… I sleep in the nude.”

Shani’s eyes pop wide. “Oh, my!” She covers her mouth and laughs—then gasps. Her eyes flare even wider. “Oh, God! I remember!”

‎Jazz chuckles as her cheeks flush red.  “Well, of course you remember that. Who could forget such an awe-inspiring sight.”

When she sniggles, he gives her a wink, then nods. “Alright. So, we're making progress.” He looks to the horizon. “Let’s see… What else...” His eyes scan over the bustling streets below. He smiles and points to the right. “You see that? That rundown diner past the laundry mat? That’s where we first met. We didn’t know each other, but both could sense our unique similarity. From across the room, we made eye contact, didn’t wave or say hello. Just swapped secret smirks, then resumed our business.”

Shani leans over and eyes the little diner, then frowns a little. “I don’t remember…”

‎Jazz's smile fades as he watches her try to make sense of things in her mind. What had happened to her that everything is so fuzzy? He turns and cups her face, looking her straight in the eyes. “Shani. You need to focus, female. I'm gonna try and calm you with my energy. Maybe your mind will see things clearer when its relaxed, okay?”

She nods, blinking up at him.

Slowly, Jazz lets his hands begin to warm, a soft illumination seeping from his fingertips into her essence. “Close your eyes,” he murmurs. “Focus your mind and try to bring forward your last memory.”

Her lashes slide close. She relaxes into his hands. A few moments later, she whispers, “Chaos... Lots of chaos...”

Jazz frowns but doesn’t disturb her.

“I see a wishing pond,” she breathes. “And then...” She opens her eyes and looks up at him. “I made a wish of some sort... and then blacked out.”

‎Jazz blinks at her words. She made a wish? He regards her. She frowns and lifts her hands to grip his wrists. They feel so soft and warm and .... gentle. Jazz's intrinsic nature makes it impossible to ignore her sweet touch.

So vulnerable.
And innocent.
And pure.

Aside from his siblings, he’s never been touched by anyone this clean. Zayta certainly was nothing like this.

Neither was Seth.

The vampire underlord was always so fiercely passionate.

Jazz’s heart thumps faster at the thought. He frowns and closes his eyes. If only another could make him feel the way that Seth did.
He stills, then opens his eyes and focuses intently on Shani.
Maybe another can. He’s never really given it a chance before.

Shani sighs then, her lips parting absently. Jazz's gaze drops to eye them.

Trying to focus, he murmurs, “That’s good, Shani... You made a wish...” Slowly, he begins to stroke her cheeks with his thumbs. His eyes rise to meet hers again. Quietly, he asks, “Do you remember what you wished for, little angel?”

She tilts her head and regards him, as if confused by some change on his face.

Is he looking at her differently?

Admittedly, his voice has dipped lower. Even his breathing had shallowed a little.

Shani swallows, diverting her gaze in thought. “My wish... What was my wish…” She worries her lip and furrows her brow. “The words... They’re just out of reach... I can all but hear them echoing...” A glint flicks in her eyes. She gasps meets Jazz’s gaze. “I wished not to be so conflicted anymore.”

Instant sadness tightens Jazz’s chest. Sliding his hands to the sides of Shani's neck, he sighs, repeating her words, “Not to be so conflicted anymore.”  A humorless chuckle escapes. “Can’t say I blame you for making that wish. Some inner peace right about now would be really nice.”

His thoughts divert to Seth again.

No.
Gotta get him out of my head.

Once more, Jazz focuses intently on Shani’s face.

He could fall for someone like her, right?
She's beautiful. And kind.
And sitting this close? Yeah, she smells really good, too.

He clears his throat and tries to concentrate, absently stroking the soft flesh below her ears. “So… Okay… Let’s do the math...”

She nibbles her lip.

His eyes drop to her mouth. With a quick, imperceptible head shake, he forces himself to refocus. “Okay, so what we’re working with here is…”

Would her lips set him on fire?
Like the underlord's did?

 “… you made a wish....”  He leans slightly closer.

Would they be soft, like a kitten? Or aggressive, like a tiger?

“... one where you asked to not be conflicted anymore…”

Would her taste make him crazy like Seth’s?

“... and then the next thing you know...”

Closer. Then closer still.

Eyes locked on her mouth, he murmurs, “... you’re waking up...”

She releases his wrists and grips his shoulders, her lashes hooding.

Jazz groans softly, “...all lost and confused...”

She nods, pupils dilating.

Jazz closes the distance, his lips taking their first gentle swipe against mouth. She sucks in a breath but doesn’t stop him or back up. He dishes another light brush. And then another.

Shani sighs and leans closer, slipping her hands around his neck, her undeniable consent for him to continue. He slides his hands down her back and pulls her closer, deepening the kiss.

Nice. She feels nice.

But does she taste heady like Seth?

Tentatively, he slides his tongue along the crease of her lips. She parts her lips and grants him entrance, leaning closer till she’s nearly in his lap.

Whoa. She's super sweet.

Again, he swipes into her mouth, the feel of her tongue so different from Seth’s. So mild and gentle, unlike the vampire’s wild roughness. Demanding and hungry and confident.

Jazz frowns against her lips but doesn’t stop. He can do this, damn it! He can forget about that friggin’ male. He needs to prove this.

He grips Shani tighter and kicks up the intensity of the kiss. But all too soon, his breathing regulates. Even his pace returns to steady thumping.

Come on, heart. Start that jackhammer business. Get excited.

Tick-tock—

Nothing.

He pulls her closer, kisses harder, but the deeper he delves his tongue into her mouth, the more solid the vision of Seth’s face becomes inside his head.

He growls in frustration.

Breaking the kiss, he closes his eyes. “I'm sorry, Shani,” he groans. “I shouldn’t have— I didn’t mean for this—I just—Ugh.” Sighing, he hugs her. “Forgive me, little beauty. I'm a shitty-ass excuse of an angel. A terrible example.”

Easing back, Shani tilts her head and eyes him, confused. “I don't understand. Am I not good at kissing?” She shakes her head and looks down. “Nevermind. That was a stupid thing to say.” She peers back up at him. “I think you’re an awesome angel.”

Jazz smiles at her sadly. He must be defective not to respond to her kiss. The female is perfect personified. Everything he needs, but not what he wants… Because, clearly, his head and heart have been derailed. Broken. No longer capable of seeing reason.

Exhaling heavily, he shakes his head. “It’s not you. Believe me. I think you're fantastic. But I'm not your destiny. When you find the guy who is, though?” He nods with a fresh little smile. “He's gonna be one very happy mo fo.”

Shani giggles, cheeks flushing.

Jazz turns his gaze back to the skyline. His smile fades in defeat. “The sun has nearly set. I better go.”

 

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