Remembrance: written by Kora Knight & Raven Foxx
No Matter the Distance, the Pain Lingers On...
Standing in the human realm, Seth looks out over the ruins of the castle that serves as a portal to the underworld. Arms crossed, he frowns, watching the strange foreboding sky overhead. He is expecting his son's return anytime now. Hopefully—for Anton’s sake—he has found Jazz, or at least some information about him.
He turns, long strides caring him toward the castle’s strategic cliff's edge. It overlooks a turbulent sea, the angry churning waters like the world in an uproar, screaming as if life was trying to withdraw and hide.
After his run-in with Jazz, Anton flashes back home and changes out of his blood-stained clothes. He knows his father will be outside waiting for him, so he promptly flashes in behind him and clasps his hands behind his back. Sooner or later, Pops will acknowledge his presence, but Anton isn’t in any hurry to get their conversation rolling. The old man isn't going to like what he has to tell him.
Cloak swirling around his body, he doesn’t bother turning around. He draws in a deep breath and concentrates on keeping his cool. The vibes Anton is putting off tells him for certain that he isn’t going to be happy with whatever he’s about to hear.
“What is it, my son?” he asks faintly, letting his gaze linger on the sea before him, knowing the male is about to dig a new barb into his chest.
“He's going to Scotland… to fight in a war.” Anton keeps his face blank. The last thing he needs is for his father to try and read his mind to find out what truly went down between him and the angel. Anton does, however, let a smirk cross his lips. “He and his family are on their way now.” He shrugs. “That’s what the ass at the bar Jazz works at said, at any rate, after I got through with him.”
Seth adsorbs the news, slowly turning to look at him. “Tell me about this war,” he commands.
Features barren, the wind whips around him as he watches his son closely. Dressed like the dark lord he is, he feels like something fresh out of a child's nightmare. Ashen and withdrawn, he aches to hunt and slaughter, but it will have to wait until his son fills him in, his words stoking the fires burning inside.
Anton shrugs his shoulders. “Apparently they’ll be going head to head with a horde of goblins.” He walks over the cliff’s rocky wall and trails his hand along its edge. “Sounds like your boy toy might not make it home. Such a tiny angel against so much depravity. Not at all a fair fight.” He turns to Seth. “Do you think he'll survive, Father, to come back to you?”
Seth’s lips twist into a cold smirk. Slowly, he nods. “Oh, he will indeed. Because you're going, too, to make sure of it.” Anton scowls darkly. Seth steps closer until they’re face to face. Low in his throat, he growls. “And you're going to do this without bitching.” His lip curls into a snarl. “I'm tired of your smart-ass remarks.” He should back hand Anton for his mouth. Instead, Seth draws in a breath and reels back his ire. “If you please me in this, I'll tell you all about a little sister of yours you never knew you had.”
A shocked expression flashes over Anton's features. Seth smirks. He has the little bull by the balls. Anton craves family—and the possibility that someone might actually welcome him with open arms. “What do you say, boyo?” Seth murmurs wryly, his cold hand rising to touch Anton’s cheek. “Are you going to be the good son for once in your fucking worthless life?” he spat. “Or are you going to make me want to shove you back into the wretched womb from which you came?”
Anton inhales a deep breath, his eyes narrowing. He knows his father is dangling a carrot before him, one Anton knows damn well he'll never get. “I'll be the ever devoted son, Father. Question is, will you be the father who stands by his word? You talk a good game, Pops. I'll go to Scotland. But know this: my life is only worthless by your standards, not mine.”
Without another word, he flashes his ass out of there before his father can beat the shit out of him. He instantly reappears inside a small Scotland village, just outside a big lively fair. He scowls as he scans his surroundings, pissed that once again he’s stuck doing menial shit, just to stay in his father’s favor.
Seth snarled as his son bolted from sight. Glaring at the spot Anton had just been standing in, he sighed wearily, thinking of the things Jazz had changed in him. “I am but what I was made to be,” he muttered in disgust. “But no loyal son would push me in such ways that I want to rip his spine out to use for a fucking cane.”
* * * * *
Lachlan pulls into to the private airport’s runway in his shiny, black Tahoe and shoves it into park. He turns and looks at Jazz. “No second thoughts? I’ll understand if you’ve changed your mind.”
Jazz doesn’t reply, just shakes his head and diverts his gaze to something random out the window. Lachlan frowns. “I’m not surprised by your silence. In truth, I am overrun with regret. I loathe that this cup has been forced upon us. To fight in a war where so much is at stake. So much to be lost if we fail.”
Jazz meets his gaze, feeling his guilt.
Lachlan sighs, pulls his key from the ignition, and pops the back hatch. Janel and Jared have already climbed out and are eyeing the small jet as they grab their bags.
Janel gapes especially wide at the plane. “Wow, if I knew flying could be like this, I'd use my wings a lot less.”
Lachlan and Jared chuckle lightly, as if trying to find a casual air amidst the bleak reason why they’re all there now in the first place.
Jazz, however, just whistles low, taking in the sleek flyer. “Hot damn. Now this is the way to travel.” He yanks his duffle from the back and slings it over his shoulder, then makes his way with the others to the plane. He wishes he can be more excited about his first time flying the friendly skies like this, but the fact of the matter is, there are way too many things on his mind. Namely, the uncertain future of those he cares about, but also of a certain underlord.
He swallows, squeezes his eyes shut briefly, and readjusts the bag’s strap on his shoulder.
Time to go.
Exhaling heavily, he scales the jet’s extended stairs behind the others.
Inside, Janel takes a seat—and frowns. She and her brothers promised Lachlan that they’d fight for his country’s cause—and she doesn't regret that decision one bit—but she’s worried about Jazz's current state. Having been in many battles before, she knows that just 1% lack of concentration could cost a warrior their life, and she’s not about to lose Jazz again.
She observes her brother quietly as he sits alone in a back seat. He’s not himself, and that’s to be expected, but she has to do something to get his head in the game. It sounds cruel, but he’ll have time to brood later. Right now, he needs to be focused.
He suddenly gets up and excuses himself. As he heads for the bathroom, she quickly follows after, pushing herself inside with him when he tries to close the door. “We need to talk.”
Jazz does a double-take as Janel barges into the stall with him out of nowhere. “Damn, Nel,” he laughs halfheartedly. “If you have to go that bad, I would've let you go first.” He moves to leave, but her arm drops down to block his way. Confused, he raises a brow. “You want me to watch?” he snorts playfully. “I'm gonna have to pass on that one, sis.”
Janel leans against the door and crosses her arms, donning her I’m serious expression. Jazz’s face falls in clear understanding as to the reason for her little intrusion. She takes a deep breath, knowing this will be painful, but necessary—like scrubbing an open wound in order to clean it.
Exhaling slowly, she begins. “Look. I'm not going to get into your business, Jazz. I know you'll talk to me or Jared when you're ready.” She reaches to touch his arm. He avoids looking at her, and she can see the rigid tension in his jaw. “But you've got to snap out of this funk and get your head in the game. If you don't it could cost you your life.” She cups his cheeks and makes him look at her. “And damn it, I just got you back.”
Jazz groans, raking a hand through his mane as he leans back against the counter. He looks at the floor, nodding. “You're right. I know you're right. I'm trying.” He flicks a weary smile. “I figure I've got another day or two to wrap up the grappling in my head.” Again, he nods, then turns away. “Yeah, then I'll be good. Right as rain.”
As if overwhelmed by shame, Janel looks down. “I'm sorry it took us so long to find you. We—” She swallows miserably. “We thought you wanted your space.”
Jazz’s chest squeezes. Adamantly, he shakes his head, gripping the counter on either side of his thighs. “No. Don’t feel bad. You had no way of knowing. How could you? Hell,” he chuckles darkly. “I didn’t expect you to ever find me. I consider myself lucky that you did.”
Janel gasps, the thought of never finding Jazz horrifying. Stepping swiftly into his arms, she lays her head on his chest. “It must have been horrible if you gave up hope.”
They stand there for a moment in silence. It’s selfish of her, but she needs to feel his embrace. This is the first time since they rescued him that he’s allowed her touch. He’s never denied her before, and she’s been desperate for it.
All too soon, she feels him tense and knows he needs to be released. She steps away and wraps her arms around herself. “We'd have gone to hell and back to find you.”
Jazz frowns as she blinks sadly at him, then inwardly moans. He’d hated moving out of her arms. She’d felt so good, his soul had nearly cried. But he just can’t do this, let himself feel. He's been working too hard to shut down his emotions so he'll be ready for battle. He doesn’t want to die, after all, so he’s been forcing his heart offline.
He looks back down as visions of Seth skitter through his mind. “Where I was being kept was hidden. In a realm where you could never have found me. I knew this. And so—” He groans and scrubs his face. “Never mind. I don’t really want to talk about it, let alone think about it.”
Sharp pains lance his stomach. He winces, absently clutching his stomach.
Janel regards him in concern. At the same time, she can tell he’s closing himself off again. She won’t press, ask what’s wrong, but she does tuck the sight it into her brain, making a mental note to keep an eye on him.
“Jazz. We would have found a way.” She peers down at her feet, hating the unsettled disquiet between them, then locks gazes with him again. Reaching out her hand, she hopes he’ll take it. “Shall we get out of here before someone thinks we're up to no good?”
They shared a small laugh and for a brief moment it’s as if nothing has changed between them. She prays it will be that way again. But in this brief moment, she has her brother back, and that will have to be enough.
Finally, Jazz clears his throat. “Yeah, but if you don’t mind, I’ve still got some biz to do in here.”
Janel blushes, shaking her head with another laugh as he ushers her out the door. Closing it behind her, he locks it securely then leans against the door. With a weary exhale, he tugs free a chain from around his neck—the one that Seth had given him. The one with a pendant filled with the underlord’s blood. Jazz stares down at it, his thumb stroking over it its smooth outer shell. His mouth waters and his eyes darken. He’s jonesing so fucking bad, but he needs to save what little he has for the battle. Otherwise, he'll be good as dead.
With a groan and a curse, he shoves it back into hiding and turns to the sink. Hopefully ice cold water to the face will get him good-to-go enough to face the others again.
*Guest writer for Anton: Alicia Dawn
*Guest writer for Janel: Jaden Brielle
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