Remembrance: written by Kora Knight & Raven Foxx 

Chapter Thirty-Nine

-Epiphany-

Heart pounding, she runs as quickly as she can through the streets, holding in her hands her swollen belly. With a whimper, she glances behind her, seeing no one, only shadows.  

But he’s following her. She can sense him. He’s close.

She ducks down an alleyway and plants herself against the side of a building. Panting, she lifts her gaze, praying she’s him. She’d been out searching for food, anything to nourish her unborn child.  That’s when she came across the stranger, so dark and handsome. She’d instantly felt desire, but then it’d been replaced with pure fear. Pure fear when he smiled and showed his fangs. In his deep, accented voice he’d told her to run, that her fear pleased him. Which naturally, had only spiked her panic more.

She peeks around the corner but continues to see nothing. Has she truly lost him? She leans back against the wall. She needs to get back camp where she and so many homeless live. They’ll watch over her, keep her safe, protect her from the monster.

 

SETH
‎Approaching the woman from behind, Seth inhales deeply. She smells of fear and forbidden pleasure, the blood of her unborn child like ambrosia. So innocent. So pure. It makes his mouth water.

He continues to walk up behind her. “Are you done running now?” he purrs. “Because I’m starving.” Running his tongue along his fang he smirks as she whirls around to face him. The grimace of pain etches her features. She’s been frightened into early labor. “Well, well,” he murmurs. “Dinner and a show.”

The woman whimpers and slumps against a building, then slides down to the ground, her expression saying it all. She knows she can’t escape him. There’s nowhere left to hide.

He eyes her with cool indifference. “That's right, little one. The time has come.” Stopping in front of her, he reaches down and pulls her to her feet. “Look away,” he whispers.

Trembling, she squeezes her eyes shut and turns her head.

He strikes quick, pinning her to the wall, and buries his fangs into her neck. Her hot blood hits his tongue like liquid paradise. Snarling softly, he bites deeper, making more blood spurt into his mouth. Damn, but she tastes good. And that unborn baby, like heroin. So wrong but so right. His mind spins into oblivion.

That is, until her faint pleas finally register.

She’s begging. Not for her own life, but the life of her child.

Bloody hell, now she’s praying for a guardian angel.

Jazz 's face instantly appears in his mind.

Seth stiffens, then with all his strength, reluctantly forces his fangs to retract. His body shudders in protest, every cell shrieking No!

“Damn you, angel,” he snarls.

Her blood would’ve taken him to the stars. Taken away all his worries, if only for the night.

Growling, he licks her wounds to starts the healing, then draws back and erases his feeding from her memory. She exhales, lost in his stare, but he isn’t done. Not yet.

Jaw ticking, he holds her gaze. “You will go to him. He will help you and your baby get off the street. The next monster you meet won’t think twice before devouring you both.”

Sightlessly, she blinks up at him.

With his darkness, he carries her into the shadows, appearing a moment later outside Jazz's apartment. Muscles tight, he rings the doorbell, then fades away, leaving the woman behind, the sight of her cupping her belly infused in his mind.

 

 

* * *

 

JAZZ
Ding-dong—

Jazz stills on the couch and looks at the door.

“What the hell?” he mutters, frowning. He isn’t expecting any company, nor are his siblings since they’re not home.

Some drunk or clueless fool must have the wrong address.

Standing, he heads to the door and quickly opens the thing up, then curses in alarm at the sight before him. A dirty, malnourished woman, no more than twenty years old, standing in the doorway holding her belly.

Warily, she lifts her gaze. “He said… He said that you would help me…. Please…” She gasps, knees buckling.  “My baby...”

Jazz’s eyes go wide. In a flash, he dashes to catch her. “I got you. You’re okay.” Carefully, he takes her inside. “You’re safe now, but I’m gonna need you to tell me what happened.”

Her floodgates bust. Between sobs, she recounts her run in with the stranger who chased her into an alleyway and bit her neck. Jazz listens to her intently, noticing the blood on her collar—and the barely-visible puncture wounds on her neck.

He clenches his teeth.

Seth.

The bastard’s at it again.

Tamping his anger, Jazz leads her to the couch, then grabs his cell. Thanks to that vampire, this woman’s in labor, a situation that needs a doctor. And a doctor, Jazz is not. He’s a mission angel.

After calling for an ambulance, he grabs a water from the fridge. “Help is coming. Here. Take this.” He crouches down and hands her the drink. “I'm Jazz, by the way. I'm gonna make sure you and baby are good to go.”

She nods pitifully and takes a sip.

He nods, too. “Okay. So this guy… The one who brought you here… He's the same guy who bit your neck?”

“Yes,” she whispers. “I’d been praying for a guardian angel to help me. That’s when he told me you’d take me to safety. Me and my baby…”  She stops and looks down. “Said the next monster I meet wouldn’t hesitate to eat us both.”

Jazz tenses. Such morbid words.

She gasps and cradles her belly, then weakly slumps forward. He catches her as she passes out against his chest.  

Jazz frowns, peering down at her.

Damn it, Seth. What game are you playing?

Laying her down on the couch, he stands and begins to restlessly pace, dragging his hand repeatedly through his mussed mane. He doesn’t know how to feel about Seth’s little surprise. He should be raging mad that, after everything he's done to help that fucker, Seth would still go out and attack an innocent woman. Thing is, he can’t shake the feeling that this was somehow a message. That Seth is trying to tell him something between the lines.

What Jazz has deciphered, however? That Seth made the conscious choice not to drink this woman dry. What’s more, he clearly felt the need to fix his wrong doing. To try and make things right again. All despite the potent effects innocent blood has on every vampire. Seth has told Jazz in the past how nearly irresistible it is for his kind. Once they begin, it’s virtually impossible for them to stop.

Jazz looks down at the woman, a literal double dose of vampire ecstasy. Yet somehow, Seth had forced himself to withdraw. So what does this mean? Just a fluke? Proof that Seth’s trying to change his ways? Curb his urges and live by a higher moral code?

Jazz's heart skips a beat at the prospect. Still, he’s reluctant anymore to hope.

Sitting down next to the woman, he exhales and waits for the ambulance. “Damn it, vampire. What is going on with you?”

 

 

* * * * * * * * * *

 

 

JAZZ
Lying in bed after a long shift at the pub, Jazz can't get his mind to chill out. It’s been ages, it seems, since Seth escaped Jazz’s detention. God, in those days of captivity, he'd been so stubborn, so ready to give up rather than try to fucking compromise. Not that Jazz had been willing to budge either, but come on, it’s not like he has a choice. He can’t just sit back and condone the shit Seth engages in.

But then... that pregnant woman showed up at his door. Sent by Seth after he'd tapped her. And yet, he hadn’t finished her, hadn’t drained her until she’d died. A women whose unborn child’s blood pumped through her veins. Jazz knows that vampires rarely can stop themselves from drinking from the trough of such purity. It’s like a drug to them, one that strips them of all control.

But Seth… Somehow Seth had resisted...

Jazz rolls onto his side and shoves his face into his pillow. “Stop thinking about him, you dumbass. It’s over. He's gone. You tried, but now there’s nothing more you can do.”

Sighing, he closes his eyes and forces his mind to go to sleep. Moments later, he slips into the shadowy land of his subconsciousness…

Jazz stills, suddenly finding himself smack in the middle of Seth’s cave.

He looks around. His flesh feels cold, his insides barren like a grave. In the distance, a hanging stalactite drip—drip—drips.

It’s dark. He illuminates his body so he can see. His eyes flare wide at what he sees. Images that remind him of Egyptian drawings used to tell stories span nearly every single inch of the cave’s walls.

He moves closer and studies one sequence, trying to decipher its message, its meaning.

His heart skips a beat. “What the…” He touches the images with his fingertips. “It’s Seth… And me.” His eyes go wider. “Holy shit,” he murmurs. “It’s our story.”

Spinning around, he searches the cave walls for their dark tale’s starting point. The cavern’s huge, though, so takes a while. Finally, he locates its beginning—images of Seth as a young boy, trapped alone in some indecipherable cold, dark place. Just one image, yet somehow feels seems to go on for an eternity.

Jazz moves his gaze to fable’s next event. Seth as an adolescent, being beaten by an older male. He looks similar to Seth, though. His father maybe?

Jazz forces his eyes from the disturbing sight to the next image. Seth with a woman. His mother? Jazz cants his head and studies them. Why are they separated by that supernatural-looking barrier?

Frowning, he moves on to the image that follows—Seth in battle, fighting a female monster with two heads. Tiny twins sit at his heels. A girl and a boy. One looks like Anton.

Jazz ponders this and continues. Seth again in the next drawing. This time, though, he appears deep in the earth by his own doing. Sleeping, with tears still fresh on his handsome face.

Somehow the rendering implies that much time passes with Seth in this state.

‎Heart heavy, Jazz splays a hand atop his vampire’s slumbering image. He remembers Seth briefly telling him about this period in his life. He'd been so beaten down, he'd gone to ground in search of peace.

Jazz's chest clenches at the thought of his lost-lover in such despair. Swallowing a lump in his throat, he drags his gaze to the following scene. Seth, risen from his grave, re-claiming his rightful seat on the thrown, heir to his malicious father's kingdom. Fire burns in his eyes, malevolence rolling off his revived form. Such darkness, hate, anger.

Jazz inwardly blanches. How could a simple drawing relay such powerful emotions? There is no mistaking it, though—Seth returned to do more than merely wear a crown. He’d been determined to make the whole world feel his wrath.

‎Jazz groans as he focuses on the next image. Seth torturing, maiming, disfiguring, killing, the brutal acts visibly giving him pleasure. And in each sequence, the center of his chest is painted onyx. Not like night, though. Or even coal.

Just a black fucking hole.

Jazz turns his eyes away. It pains him to see Seth like this, the monster inside the damaged male he cares so much about.

Abruptly, the images seem to illuminate a few yards down. A soft light seeping from the wall's very surface, enough to catch Jazz's attention and draw him over. Tentatively, he approaches until he’s standing in front of the drawings.

His heart skips a beat. He whispers a curse. The drawing that’s glowing is an image of him. Where he’d officially entered Seth's life. In fact, the rest of the depictions from that point forward hold the same soft light. Light, where before that point on the wall, there’d been only darkness.

Emotion welling, he studies the first few scenes. His abduction at Seth's command. His captivity and countless torture at Seth's hand. Jazz breathes a curse, remembering well.

And then came an image of them in water, Seth holding him, offering his blood to help him heal. Although Jazz hadn’t seen it at the time, his eyes having been closed as they were in this image, Seth had exhibited a conflicted remorse for having injured his captive.

Jazz blinks, frowning, then lifts his hand, brushing his fingertips across Seth's chest, his heart no longer a black hole but the gray of a rain cloud.

No way…

He quickly scans the next few events, needing to see their story continue from this third-person viewpoint.

The first time Seth kissed him.

The countless nights they sat and talked.

Seth’s Christmas gift, Rex.

Intimacy, more prevalent with each scene.

And Seth's black hole…  still visibly lessening as—

Jazz pauses, spotting something else.

Each day, as Seth’s heart lightened, Jazz's own glow dimmed at the same rate.

Jazz curses and rubs his sternum, not wanting to dwell on that fact. Forcing himself to focus, he continues on.

Zayta, helping his sibling with Jazz’s escape. The scene is amazing, their fierce battle, but again, Jazz can’t help but notice how much weaker his illuminance is next to his siblings’.

Exhaling, he continues on, studying the events that followed his escape. Seth had been beside himself in anger, but to Jazz's surprise, the dark lord’s chest never reverted back to black.

And then it dawns on him. All this time, he’d thought he siphoned Seth’s darkness into himself, but in reality, something else had actually been happening. They’d both been changing, becoming part of the other in some way. Jazz's light had fused with Seth's darkness, changing his black heart to gray. And in return, Seth's essence had altered Jazz’s holy glow.

In truth, this revelation should make Jazz uneasy if nothing else, but for some inexplicable reason it brings him comfort.

Settling his gaze on the next image, he sighs. Seth, trying for the first time to feed off Jazz's essence. Ominous wings had sprung from his back, and then that brutal bout of sickness as his body forced Jazz's purity from his system.

Jazz frowns at the memory. He'd had such hope, such confidence, that his angelic properties would somehow rid Seth of his darkness. Or if nothing else, at least the part that made him evil.

Heart sinking, Jazz continues on.

The scene where he'd kept Seth against his will, trying desperately to purge the wickedness from his lover’s soul.

Then the image of their last night together, where they’d engaged each other so intimately. Unabashedly. Body and soul, under mere candle light sprawled out on Seth’s bed. Jazz had given him his trust that night and let down his wards. That same night, Seth had accidentally tapped Jazz's essence again. An honest mistake. They’d been lost amidst the throes of heated passion. Seth had only intended to take his angel’s blood.

As always, his body hadn’t been happy but managed to forge through the rocky moment. Later, in Jazz’s sated drowsiness, he’d succumbed to Seth's magic and fell fast and hard under the vampire’s sleeping spell.

Jazz’s jaw ticked.

Evidently, according to these renderings, the second he was out?

That fucking vampire wasted no time in leaving him.

‎Jazz closes his eyes at the memory of waking up to find Seth gone.

Hands splayed against the wall, he leans in and rests his forehead against it, too. His brows furrow in tired torment. He'd tried so hard, but Seth is so stubborn. He supposes the vampire will never change. No matter how much of himself Jazz gives to him. How much he sacrifices.

With a grunt, he shoves off the rock face, ready to get the fuck out of that cave. But then a tiny, super-bright light emerges from the next scene. The final scene. In truth, Jazz hadn’t wanted to reach the end of their story. But that nearly-blinding glows now beckons him closer. He can’t resist. Against his down-trodden will, Jazz approaches, needing to see.

His eyes go wide. “No fucking way.”

It’s a drawing of the pregnant lady he found on his door step. And the brilliant light is coming from her belly.

Jazz can't help but chuckle and touches her stomach, or more to the point, the place where pure innocence dwells. He thinks back to that day, of how Seth had sent the woman Jazz’s way, after consuming her blood—her highly-addictive blood, thanks to her baby.

Jazz's brows furrow as he absently traces the woman's swollen abdomen.

Come to think of it, how had Seth overcome the urge?

That was an unborn baby’s blood.

Seth told him their blood was literally impossible to resist.

That once a vampire began, he couldn’t stop till every drop is gone.

Jazz’s gaze flicks back to the recent images of Seth, or more specifically, to views of the male’s chest. Still that consistent subtle darkness. Still no trace of his once black hole. Jazz looks back at the woman, then darts his eyes back to older drawings, returning his focus to where Seth had taken his essence by accident…

Jazz stills, realizing something.

Seth never actually threw up.

Jazz's heart skips a beat.

Mind racing, he turns ahead again to the scenes he’d initially skipped. The ones that illustrated what Seth had been up to since escaping the cave. Jazz had purposely avoided them for fear of what they might reveal. But now he has to see. Has to know if his suspicions are founded.

Sure enough, event after event show Seth foregoing activities he used to relish.

Jazz stares at them. “Could it really have…?”

Again, he moves back to their final encounter, convinced that it somehow holds the key. The definitive answer he's looking for. The missing piece. He focuses on the rendering of Seth clutching his stomach, grimacing in pain.

Jazz narrows his eyes, searching, studying the crude sketch, looking for anything that—

His eyes snap wide.

His face lights up.

Then his entire body illuminates.

“It worked!” he cries, slapping his hands down on Seth's image. “He didn't throw up! His body didn’t purge me! It kept me! And not just my blood!”

Jazz’s essence, too. Meaning it's finally taken hold and changed Seth’s biology. Which explains why Seth didn’t throw up, and later, was able to resist that pregnant woman.

Bolting upright from his dream, Jazz throws off the covers and jumps to his feet. “It worked!” he shouts, elated. “It fucking worked!

 

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