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Janus


New York

24 hrs after the end of Red Death

 

The plane ride home had been brutal.

Physically, he had come out of Paris unscathed. Despite being sore from the wreck, he had felt fine in the hours that followed the cure. Whatever euphoria some experienced paled in comparison to the highs that Janus had experienced in his mortal life, though he couldn’t say the same for all passengers on his flight. He had witnessed families holding onto one another, couples pressed up against each other at all times, and the joyous expressions many had as they were finally able to leave the city and return home. 

Janus lacked the same enthusiasm. During his time on the flight, he brooded. He had let his reserve slip around her, letting himself grow too close far too soon to his friend. The bright auburn locks haunted him, and he found himself subconsciously looking for her in every face of the crowded airport. The disappointment he had experienced at not finding those brilliant green hues was irrational. He hadn’t even let her know he was leaving the country, in fact, he had promised she would see him the following day. Silently he had cursed himself with every swear word he could think of on the ride to the airport. 

The hell he would have to walk through once he arrived back in New York was but a small price to pay for the hours he had managed to steal away from Flahme. If he was lucky, he wouldn’t have to walk into the literal gates of Hell just yet. In his mind, he deserved a small break. Afterall, he had still fulfilled whatever f*cked up duties he had been assigned to. Breaking up a gang initiation, saving a man from a venomous bite, and not killing the man who had mistakenly shot his counterpart. If anything, he felt he deserved a medal and an entire ceremony for not killing everyone in the crowd for knocking over their transport vehicle. 

Despite this overly high opinion of himself and his abilities, he truly felt remorseful for everything he had done and said in Paris. His actions, and the words he had spoke all reigned true. He had most likely never been that truthful in his life, but he had withheld a lot of it as well. Everything he had said to Flahme, every small touch, and every affectionate glance had been true to himself. Yet, he hadn’t confided to her the secret he was keeping so tightly under wraps, and for that he was tearing himself apart. 

The real roman God Janus, and all of his cohorts in Hell, had the best of his protege. With each assignment they bestowed upon him, they effectively stole the life from every one of his veins. His second chance at life was rigged, and he knew it. Janus was not free to enjoy himself, right his wrongs, or fall for anyone. He had a job to do, and in the eyes of his maker, that was all there was to him. All he would ever be in their eyes was one of many pawns they could use to their advantage. The very thought made him sick. 

It had become apparent to him during his seven hour flight home that he would have to shut her out, so that he would be able to stand a chance at weathering the storm that was headed his way. Never completely, he would still leave a few doors open to her, as Flahme’s friendship had become dear to him in the time they had spent with one another. However, there were certain parts of his mind that would have to remain closed. No matter how desperately he wished to open up to her, and how at peace he seemed to be whenever she was smiling at his side. The bond they had secured into place in Paris would have to be broken, and this was what unfortunately lead to Janus fleeing without so much as a word. 

Fingers tapping a tune on the arm of his seat as the plane bounced onto the landing strip, Janus quickly turned on his cellphone with his other hand. He had quickly typed out a message to Flahme once the service had been reconnected, now all there was left to do was wait for a response. Though he tried not to get his hopes up, he would find himself checking for a notification every few minutes. He was determined to try and make the best of her forgiveness. 
May 21, 2019 07:37 pm

Flahme

The trill of harps sounded somewhere near her head, and Flahme turned to see her phone lighting up each time the chimes went off. The light streamed in through her bedroom windows, blinding in its radiance, she wondered why the curtains were still open. Exhausted when she got home, it appeared she only stopped long enough to get her jeans off before collapsing on her bed. Pulling the offending phone towards her, she shut off the noise and noted there was a message to read but buried her face in the downy pillows determined for five minutes more sleep.

According to the clock on her phone, she had been asleep for close to twelve hours. She couldn’t recall sleeping that long before, but then didn’t usually run around the city fighting off crazy people while her body fights an infection and heals a gunshot wound. Yeah, that was one for the books.

Pushing herself up she decided to check the message later. Stripping off the remainder of her clothes Flahme wandered into the bathroom and checked her stomach in the mirror, it was completely healed. Smiling, she showered, dressed and walking back into her bedroom to find someone had left a parcel of clothes on her bed. Her fingertips grazed her leather jacket, then snatched at the note atop the pile. It was from Janus. He had already left for New York and wouldn’t be meeting her as agreed.

Disappointment spread through her gut as she sat slowly on her bed then reached out for her phone to check the message. The text was also from Janus. He was sorry but wondered when she might be in New York next. Flahme frowned at why he had to leave so suddenly when he said he would remain a few days.

Shrugging off the blue feeling, she decided not to worry over it. Janus must have needed to get back, or he would have stayed, perhaps his job called him home quicker than he realised. Whatever it was, she would find out when she flew to New York. They did have a lot to discuss. She hadn’t told him any of the revelations from her latest assignment. Running all over Paris didn’t leave a lot of time for chit chat. Also, she still had questions about the blood drinking situation. But mostly, she just wanted to spend time with him. Texting back that she was upset with him, she would make plans to get to New York soon.

Two weeks later, Flahme found herself at JFK airport flagging down a cab. She had texted Janus already and was on her way to a small apartment she borrowed from a friend when in New York. She didn’t come here often enough to buy a place, plus she doubted she could afford anything here. She was looking forward to seeing Janus. They had become so close in Paris, but ever since his departure, his texts had been apologetic and subdued. She hoped that time and distance hadn’t changed what had blossomed between them.
May 22, 2019 07:03 am

Janus


Two weeks after the end of Red Death

The last two weeks had been equally as unkind as his flight home had been, possibly more so. Consequences from his departure to Paris had resulted in an unsightly black eye, along with a few scrapes and bruises easily concealed underneath his clothing. The squabble had come while he was gleaning details in the field, the demons that had paid him the visit a week ago were swift and brutal. Of course this was all complimentary to the shiny metal band that he now adorned on his left ring finger. 

Flahme’s impending arrival left Janus more on edge than usual. As if he didn’t have enough on his plate already, the evidence from the secrets he had been withholding from her in Paris would now be evident once they met in person. He had scarcely communicated with anyone, but mostly regretted the distance he had put between himself and his red-headed friend. A necessary precaution, he had told himself everytime he had deleted whatever pathetic message he had been trying to craft. 

Now, on his way home from his most recent assignment, he had the time to contemplate how he would explain himself. Black boots pounded away at the wet pavement as he navigated his way home. The wild surroundings of New York had become more familiar now that he had an opportunity to situate himself. The path home was now muscle memory, leaving him to his own thoughts, which were a depressed haze compared to his once easy-going nature. 

His marriage to Elisa had been unexpected, a whirlwind romance, if you could call it that, was brought on by drinks and flirty comments. The details of that night were still hazy, though they were nearly two months into their marriage. The petite blonde he had become tangled up with was fierce, confident, and her silver tongue got her into trouble frequently. She was a wicked spirit that matched his own, and they seemed to have a good time with one another despite all that was wrong in the world. 

Despite all of the chaos in his life, his mind always focused on one particular person. Flahme had a way with words that helped Janus make sense of everything going on his life. He was much looking forward to her council on many of the dealings that had happened in Paris. One of which was a matter he had adamantly ignored during his time at home. Janus hadn’t the heart to confront anyone about how he had drank a human’s blood in Paris. 

On the sleepless nights he woke drenched in his own sweat, he had to fight back the bile that threatened to creep up his throat from the memory of blood coating his tongue. He had gone back and forth between dismissing it as the infection, and a fluke. It was entirely possible he hadn’t enjoyed it that much, but the way his mouth seemed to water whenever he thought of that night told him otherwise. 

Reaching home, he swiftly unlocked the door to his small but tidy apartment. Though they were married, Elisa and Janus had yet to consolidate their belongings into a single home. They were both creatures of privacy, and Janus had the idea there were still some secrets his new bride had the mind not to share with him. He hadn’t minded though. He split his time between both of their dwellings, keeping his the same aside from a few personal belongings of hers that were neatly packed away in drawers. 

Flahme

I’m home. How was your flight? 
May 25, 2019 01:55 pm

Flahme

Flahme arranged what little she had brought with her from Paris, in the small borrowed apartment. She didn’t know exactly how long she would be staying. She had packed enough for a few days but could wash her clothes or buy more if it ended up being longer. They really could have done this over the phone, but when he asked when she would be in New York next, this led her to believe Janus wanted to see her as much as she wanted to see him.

Dressed in jeans, boots, a t-shirt that hung off one shoulder and her favourite leather jacket, Flahme stuffed cash and her house keys in her jacket pockets and her phone in her back pocket and went out to find something to eat. She enjoyed being in New York. So many people and there was always something to do or somewhere open for food no matter what time of the day or night you were out. Walking into a pizza joint, she felt her phone buzz in her back pocket. She smiled at the text.

Janus
The flight was good.
Just getting some food.
Will be at your place in about 40.

Ordering a couple of slices and a beer she thought about all that happened in Paris. If she weren’t a fast healer, she likely would have died. That was scary. She had never been shot before. Not an experience she was keen on repeating any time soon, or ever. She was thankful Janus and her both came out okay all things considered. Despite the horrid circumstances and the emotional roller coaster, it was one of the best times of her life so far. She only wished things had ended a little differently.

Sighing, Flahme looked up as the waiter appeared with her food and drink and she tucked into both as if she hadn’t eaten or drank in days. Her mind wandered back to Janus as she ate. She sensed something had changed in him, but she didn’t know what. It made her a little anxious to see him. Perhaps it was because she had wanted so much more than what they had shared. Neither had made any sort of commitment or statement of, well, anything. They were friends only, but in Paris, it had felt like so much more. She had to remember that before letting daydreams carry her away.

Above all else, she still had nine items to find before she even knew if she was staying on earth. She seemed to forget that fact when he was around. He also had his assignments to do. They had talked of this, their relative lack of freedom, though she at least has the possibility of it. The running away together idea still sounded like the best one to her, her practical side knew it was never going to happen.

Finishing up, she wiped her mouth, left cash for the bill and headed off to Janus’s apartment. Fifteen minutes later, she was outside his place, knocking on the door. Friends, she reminded herself.
May 26, 2019 10:56 pm

Janus


Having prepared a quick meal of instant noodles and a mostly warm beer, Janus quickly jumped up from his place at his dining table. The sudden rapping had recentered his thoughts after trying to drown in his own self pity just moments before, and Janus felt the familiar cold sheen of sweat began to trickle down his neck. His dinner for champions would have to wait until he attended to the pressing matter standing in the vestibule just outside his door. 

Crossing the distance between his small dining table to the front door took but a few steps, given his advantageous height and long legs. It was with a deep breath he unlatched the door and swung it open in a great sweeping motion, nearly hitting his boots with the motion. The smile on his face had been feigned in the last two weeks, but the grin on his face upon seeing Flahme was anything but. 

It took a moment for him to breathe in the long fiery tendrils of hair, and the gleam in her green eyes. Always breathtaking, and always spectacular. Slowly, he leaned forward to embrace her in what would have been a bone shattering hug for a mortal. Luckily for him, Flahme was anything but. Something he had always been curious about and entranced by. Her ethereal beauty and grace was haunting. 

Breaking away from the embrace, he held her at arms length and looked her over. His russet brown eyes narrowed as he checked her for any gunshot wounds as his own injuries evaded his memory. 

“You look well, as always.” Motioning her inside, he held back the door for her. “Please, come in. I was just having a drink.” 
May 27, 2019 09:24 pm

Flahme

Flahme could hear Janus’s boots as he crossed to the door and her grin grew wide, no matter how she tried to act nonchalant, seeing him always made her happy. When the door was thrown open they just stared at each other a moment. His familiar face, white blonde hair and warm brown gaze had her beaming a smile at him, as she noticed the black eye. Before she could ask any questions Janus pulled her into one of his strong hugs that would have crushed her rib cage had she been almost anyone else, and she returned it with the same enthusiasm.

As he mentioned how well she looked, she was able to catch her breath and shaking her head entered his apartment. Looking up at him, she couldn’t control her curiosity. “You do as well, but who gave you that black eye? And I hope the other guy looks worse than you.” She stepped in closer looking up at the swollen eye when a smell tickled her nose. The smell was faint but she realised it was perfume and it was on Janus. She looked around quickly as she had once before and could see no trace of a female in the surroundings. Had he met someone in the past two weeks, or was it something else?

Taking a small step back to put a bit of distance between them, Flahme thought about his subdued behaviour since they parted and yet he had just greeted her as if he had missed her dearly. Something didn’t add up and she was determined to find out exactly what was going on. As she was about to ask him directly he raised a hand to his bruised eye and it was then Flahme noticed he was wearing a ring, she had never seen this before and her head tilted as she took in which finger the ring was upon. Janus was wearing a wedding ring. Flahme’s heart stopped.

Licking suddenly dry lips, her blood roaring in her ears, Flahme looked up at Janus. “Are you married?”
May 29, 2019 06:35 am

Janus


Under her watchful gaze, a small smile tugged on Janus’ lips. “Of course the other guy looks worse than me. Compared to me, he’s a goblin.” 

His ability to hide the truth within a lie or snarky remark had been developed under duress. The role he had stepped into had taught him how to be manipulative with his words, and he had quickly realized he detested doing so with his friend. However, in order to keep the small amount of peace he had in his life, it was completely necessary. 

Side stepping his way around her, Janus made his way into the small kitchen to pour them each a glass of liquor. The scene was so familiar to him, a memory from their first encounter. The drastic difference in each of their lives compared to then was astonishing. It seemed like a lifetime ago, when all he had to worry about was his job and not the opinions and feelings of others. 

Once a knuckle’s length had been filled in each of their respective glasses, Janus quickly appeared back into the dining area once more. Placing her glass on the table next to the meal he had been consuming moments before, he lifted his cold glass to his eye. The widening of green hues he had come to adore had his breath catching in his throat. Of course he had forgotten the stupid wedding band. 

Though Janus hadn’t intended in hiding his marriage from Flahme for forever, he had wanted to do it in his own way. One that was easily explainable and would leave no one with hurt feelings. It seemed that his reveal, like most things in his life, were out of his control.  

With a sharp inhale of oxygen, Janus downed the whiskey swimming in the chilled glass between his grasp. Exhaling, he nodded and swallowed the contents. “Yes.” 
May 30, 2019 08:24 am

Flahme

At Janus’s direct confirmation, Flahme took another step back from him, emotions swimming in her emerald gaze to the point they flickered red on occasion. She closed her eyes so he couldn’t so easily see the emotional turmoil she was attempting to control. So many questions ran through her mind that she barely knew where to begin to sort through it or to understand what was most important to ask.

Pain bloomed in her chest, something she hadn’t experienced before. It hit her hard and yet nothing physical was happening to her. She absently rubbed her sternum with a clenched fist then opened her eyes she realised both her fists were tightly closed. With some effort, she opened her palms and let them hang loose at her side before raising her head again to look at him.

“You said you didn’t have a girlfriend, and then…Paris. It seemed…” she trailed off, her voice quiet. Then she shook her head and took a different tack. “Are you telling me you just met someone in the last two weeks and got married?” It would explain his change in behaviour.

Some part of her realised she had no right to ask him anything about his personal life, but she thought even as friends they would have shared such information. She would’ve been better prepared and probably insisted they talk over the phone. At some point she would accept this, in her own time and maybe even be happy for him, or never speak to him again, she hoped for the former.

The problem with all that was Flahme believed they had a connection, that they understood one another, and now she wondered if she had it wrong all along. It just didn’t feel wrong, nothing with him had ever felt wrong, and she finally realised, in that tragic moment, her sad little heart had chosen Janus for her own. The revelation made her want to weep and for once she didn’t want to share her thoughts with him. She glanced at the door behind her, wanting nothing more than to leave. Then another thought occurred to her.

“Why am I here? Why did you ask me here?”
May 30, 2019 08:35 am

Janus



Behind her closed eyelids, Janus could envision her green hues switching rapidly back and forth to red as she fought to calm herself. The switching of her eye color had been a tell as to what emotions she was experiencing, though he never thought he would be the cause for the occurrence. He himself was attempting to calm the tidal wave of emotion that came with his admission, only seen in the flicker of muscles in his jaw and the tightening of his grip on the glass between his fingers.  

Janus fought to swallow the sudden lump that had formed in his throat as she rubbed her chest and questioned him. The pain behind her eyes threatened to break his heart entirely. Paris had evidently been a major mistake. Both for him, and for whatever stable relationship had been between them before. Regret had weighed heavy on him before, but it was nothing like what he was facing now that the truth was out. 

Easing back into a chair, he rubbed his temples with scar flecked hands. The tightening of muscles on his jaw returned as he grinded his teeth. He would need to spill everything to her if he expected her to stay. 

Why am I here? 

His russet gaze flashed back to her, focusing on her defeated stance and the way she looked towards the door as if she intended to rush through it. He was desperately hoping that the truth would keep her here for a while longer, for both of their sakes. 

“I asked you here for a few reasons. None of which will be pleasant for either of us I’m afraid.” Chewing his lip to fight back a nervous smile, he rose from his seat and grabbed the bottle of whiskey he had poured from and refilled his own glass. “Feel free to take a seat, or stand. Whichever is easiest for you.” 

Pouring himself a half knuckle length, he quickly downed it before continuing. 

“It was never my intention to deceive you, there was nothing going on that would have affected the way I acted. I had to return to New York for an...urgent assignment. I paid the price for our adventure there, even though it nearly got us killed. I haven’t seen nor heard from Elisa since my return. That aside, I thought it best not say goodbye. Like my note said, I’ve never been good at it.”

Sighing, he fixed his gaze on the wall. “I met Elisa two months before Paris, and after a night of drinking, we tied the knot that same night. It would seem that I have a rival for most dramatic. We knew our shotgun wedding was bound to turn a few heads, so we’ve kept it under wraps. I received the wedding band as a gift from her a few days before I left for Paris. I chose not to bring it for obvious reasons.” 

Massaging his hands, the bruises on his arms became apparent as muscles in his forearms worked to relieve any tension he felt there. “I didn’t want to tell you on the phone. I needed to do it in person, because it doesn’t change anything that happened between us. It doesn’t change anything I feel...and felt.” 

Returning his gaze back to her, scanning her face for any emotion, anything that would tell him how she was feeling now that she had learned the truth. “I also need your help. It can only be you, otherwise I wouldn’t ask this of you. I need this one favor and then you can be rid of me forever if you so choose. “ 

 

May 30, 2019 09:33 pm

Flahme

As Janus began to speak, Flahme lowered herself into the seat opposite him. Feeling numb, she couldn’t believe how much this affected her, and all her self talk about being friends hadn't made one bit of difference to how she truly felt about him. Watching him take another drink, she fiddled with the glass he had put on the table for her, then took a sip before setting it back down with a small thud.

A deep breath was taken as he began to tell her some of the details. How he had not intended to deceive her, and then he spoke of paying the price for his Paris excursion. That’s where the black eye came from, she hoped he put up a good fight against his assailants, and perhaps his ‘goblin’ remark was more on point than first thought.

Then he spoke of his wife, and that strange pain bloomed again. Two months. All that time in Paris together, all they went through, with Flahme thinking it had meant so much more. She was a fool and had to shut these ideas down before she did something she regretted. Then his words penetrated her thoughts. “You haven’t heard from her for two weeks? Isn’t that odd?” Her natural concern for others showed through, then he continued with the details of their romance, and she took several deep breaths to keep herself calm.

Surprisingly, Flahme was grateful Janus felt the need to tell her in person, it showed he respected her if nothing else, but she found she wanted to know more. When he said it changed nothing, her anger rose. “What do you mean it doesn’t change anything?” she was on her feet before she realised it, pacing the room, then spun towards him and placed her palms on the table leaning into them. Demanding emerald hues searched his russet gaze. “And what is it you feel, Janus?” You mean the world to me was what she didn’t say. Let it go! Her mind screamed; any answer he gives will only hurt you more. But she couldn’t. This was Janus, and this was her. They had been through too much just to let go, more than some whirlwind romance, they had risked their lives together, stood up for one another, bared their souls. These things forged steel.

Sighing heavily, Flahme sat once again and raised her green gaze to his, and she tried to keep the pain hidden but knew she failed. At his plea for help, specifically her help, she would not deny him because regardless of what she might want for them, she would always be his friend first. Looking at her glass again, she lifted it and drained the contents. Her anger dissipated, and she spoke softly. “Of course, I will help you. What do you need me to do?”
May 31, 2019 08:03 pm

Janus


“Elisa is a solitary creature, or so it seems. I can’t say that I’ve minded the space.” Actually, he had honestly preferred it. He had been able to get work done, do his research, and of course brood. Wallowing in his own self pity had become his favorite past time and had gotten nearly black out drunk every night after returning home from work. Though he wasn’t proud of it, that was all he did. 

The sudden motion of Flahme jumping to her feet startled Janus, and he nearly knocked over the glass still in his hand, onto the table. He had been staring off into his own abyss again, letting himself be swallowed by his thoughts. The gleam in her eye was anything but friendly as she prompted him for more information. He had expected it, and had even anticipated being smacked around a bit if she needed it. He would have complied with whatever she felt would make this easier, and would if she chose so. 

“It doesn’t change anything. Not for me.” A huff of forced air rushed past his lips, the heat warming his suddenly cold lips. Pouring himself more to drink, he watched as ice began coating the glass under his fingertips. The slight movement of his hand hid the evidence as he sipped on the dark amber liquor swimming between his grasp. “I don’t know what it is I feel, I’ve never felt this way before. My range of emotion in my human life was shockingly shallow.  I’m afraid that even if I did know what I felt that I wouldn’t be able to properly express myself.” 

Stretching his hand out towards her, he quickly let his fingers dance backwards across the table. The idea of grasping her hand after what he had confessed was foolish. Needing to spare himself from the action, he let his hand curl around the glass of whiskey so that he was cradling it between both. 

Watching intently as she sat down, he fought to calm his breathing into a steady pace. The anger she had shown in pacing had smoothed into a cold calm, and she accepted his favor in a hushed tone. The traitorous smile that stretched across his lips made his still swollen eye ache as his eyes squinted along with the action. 

“Have you ever heard of Paulo Coelho? He is a brazilian lyricist and novelist best known for his novel ‘The Alchemist’. It seems my makers have a sick sense of humor.” Procuring a scrap of paper from the depths of his pocket, he placed it on the table. In a messy scrawl Janus knew it read:

‘Behind the mask of ice that people wear, there beats a heart of fire.’

I found it on my person after I was returned to earth from my initial death and resurrection. I didn’t understand then, I had no memory of why I had it. I’ve kept it in my wallet since, not thinking anything of it other than it was a nice quote.” He cut of a snarl that began to sound at the thought of his last encounter. “While I was receiving my punishment for my recent decisions, a goblin by the name of Bathor slipped a bit of information unknowingly. He was teasing me for not having figured out how to free myself of my title.” 

“He said, ‘All he would have had to do was have her prove to Janus he had changed, then he wouldn’t even need to be here.’ It wasn’t until after I came home a day or two later that I understood what they meant” 

Draining the remaining contents of his glass, he peered into Flahme’s emerald eyes for what he felt would be the last time. “Elisa doesn’t know me like you do. Even if she did, she’s been MIA for two weeks. Would you let me drag you to hell so that you can testify in my case that I’ve earned my freedom?” 
June 02, 2019 10:33 am

Flahme

The passion Janus displayed when he disagreed with her about things changing caught her by the throat. For the smallest moment, Flahme sensed something different about Janus, her brow furrowed, but she continued to listen to him and shook off the strange feeling. That he wouldn’t and believed he couldn’t admit his feelings frustrated Flahme. For a being that, for the most part, had no issue blurting out her thoughts, it was a strange situation, yet hadn’t she also held back her feelings where Janus was concerned? One day, when he was free, she wouldn’t hold back, and then it would be his choice to grab hold of what she offered or throw it away.

‘I’ve never felt this way before.’

“Neither have I,” she said quietly in response to his words. She knew Janus was not a lost cause. She wouldn’t be here if he were. It’s not her job to fix him; she just showed him the brightness of her world, and maybe he would enjoy it enough to want more of it. Green hues fell to the word tattooed across his neck. Hope. She wondered if he even knew how much more he wanted for himself?

When his hand moved across the table, hers began to reach out as well. Reaching out to him had become a natural reaction for Flahme since Paris. They had not been afraid of displays of friendship, and what she thought at the time was affection. She hated this tension and uncertainty between them. She would cut it out entirely if she could find the way.

Then he began to speak of why she was here. Her eyes grew wider as he spoke. Janus produced a scrap of paper, and she snatched it up and read the words, smoothing the crumpled paper with her slender fingers, biting her lip as she thought of the implications.

‘Behind the mask of ice that people wear, there beats a heart of fire.’

The words that the goblin had said to Janus made her heart pound, and she couldn’t hold back the excitement that built as he talked. Her emerald gaze sparkled with vitality, and flickered red only when he mentioned ‘his punishment’. Forgetting everything that was or wasn’t between them her small hand gripped one of his stealing it from the cool glass. “Janus, gaining your freedom is exactly what you hoped for. Yes, I will go with you, and you don’t even need to drag me there, I would walk through Hell for you.” The words were out of her mouth before she could stop them. She blushed, but at that moment didn’t care about their circumstances, the thought of him being free of his curse lit her face with a radiant smile. Slowly releasing his hand, she held his warm russet gaze with hers for a moment then found the whiskey bottle and added a splash to her empty glass.

Overcome with her emotions, she sipped the amber liquid and took a moment to calm down. “There are two issues I see right now,” she paused a moment and brought her gaze back to his. “You have changed Janus. From what you’ve told me of how you used to be, you've changed a great deal. But, sometimes, you still have on the mask of ice. In Paris, you took that off for a while. I wish you weren’t afraid to let your true self shine through.”

“The second issue. They said, ‘have her prove to Janus’. Does this mean you don’t believe it yourself? That another has to convince you? So my question to you, Janus, do you think you have changed?”

Quietly thinking about what she had asked him, a thought struck Flahme with regards to something that occurred in Paris. “Janus, have you ingested blood since Paris? I mean, was it a one off or has it happened again?”
June 02, 2019 11:05 pm

Janus


Heart hammering inside his chest, he accepted the hand she wrapped around his own. Janus had forgotten the smoothness of her skin, and the warmth of her touch. With every word she spoke his smile seemed to stretch further until he was grinning from ear to ear, the dry skin of his lips threatening to split under the strain. He was suddenly aware of just how lacking he had been in self care, but knew he would appear all the same to her. 

The blush that filled the apples of her cheeks had his fingers twitching to reach out and brush his thumb across the heat that bloomed there. It was only as she pulled her hand away and reached for the bottle that he was able to respond, “As I for you.” 

Nestling back into his seat, he listened to her thoughts on the matter intently. Janus had been quick to accept and value her opinion and advice on many matters, and trusted her to be blunt and truthful no matter what his reaction would be. He wished he could have extended the same generosity to her. 

However, despite this deep appreciation for her and the words that fell from her lips, the truth cut deep. The mask he wore for the world was vastly different than his true form, the one he had only let Flahme in to see. Janus had always turned a cold shoulder to the world that had raised him in a hostile environment, and often bared his teeth to show that he was not the same frightened child he once was. 

Flahme had been different from the start. She had been fearless, curious, and her very aura was entrancing. The change in him, in his heart, had been unexpected as well as frightening. He knew somewhere in his heart that he had changed, she had insisted as much. Flahme had shown him the light at the end of the tunnel, though he still had miles to go. She had given him hope, and that was reason enough for him to believe he had changed. 

“Stick me with the pointy end why don’t you?” Exhaling through gritted teeth he stretched his arms above his head and brought them back down to cradle his neck. “I’m not even sure where to start. So I suppose the easiest would be the latter.” 

“I’ve drank more. It was an accident at first, truly. I was messing with a particularly nasty assignment when he injured himself and his blood sprayed into my face, and thus my open mouth.” Grimacing at the thought, he forced himself to continue despite the memory. “It was like coming alive all over again. I thought in Paris it was just the adrenaline, but my senses were heightened and I realized I become stronger.”

“The time after, I thought I’d see if it had the same effect. I pricked their thumb just enough to get a drop of blood, and it was the same. The look on their face was one of blasphemy and shock, I’m not sure they realized what I’d been doing. I found a blood bank that supplies to vampires on the side and acquired a few bags of it. I’ve been adding a few drops to my diet every day to keep up the strength. It seems to be all I need to keep the abilities it gives me.” 

With a heavy sigh he scanned her face for any sign that she may be repulsed before continuing. “I don’t think our problem will be convincing me of anything. The real Janus will be the one we need to win over. Explaining to him that his protege and the side of the coin that looks in the past to right his wrongs, has suddenly seen the light will be the hard part. I’m eager to be free of his rule, of my sudden taste for blood, and to learn what my name was in my mortal life.” 

A small smile curved the corners of his mouth before Janus added, “However, whatever my name is, I’ll still be the same man you found me to be.” 
June 03, 2019 09:21 pm

Flahme

Delight filled her being when Janus confirmed he would walk through Hell for her as well. Her teeth sank into her lower lip as he gave her one of his full smiles that lit his handsome face. She relaxed for the first time since entering his apartment. Flashes of how Janus was in Paris appeared, and it did wonders in calming her nerves.

‘Stick me with the pointy end, why don’t you.’

Laughter spilled unbidden from her lips at his declaration. Flahme didn’t sugarcoat her words. Honestly, she didn’t mean to; she simply said what seemed the most appropriate and concise. “Have you met me? Janus, if it’s in my head, it’s going to come out of my mouth at some point. You’re strong, you can take it,” she teased him, a grin hovering at the corner of her lips.

Putting an elbow on the table, Flahme leaned into her palm as she listened to his words, green eyes wide, her mind mulling over each piece of added information. She was amazed and, considering all the things she had experienced in her short time back on earth, that was saying something. Drinking blood made Janus stronger, heightened his senses. He would be more like her. In Paris, he had kept up with her and perhaps the blood while infecting him had also kept the infection from spiralling into aggression as it had with so many. It would explain much that they hadn’t understood. Perhaps it also allowed him to feel his emotions, expressing them in words and actions. It would explain how comfortable he had been around her, the things he had told her and numerous occasions he touched her. She licked her lips at the thought of the last part.

What he described thrilled her, and a shiver went through her body, which made her shift in her seat. “Just a drop of blood did that to you?” she asked, clearing her throat when he paused and looked at her. He searched her face for something. She wasn’t sure what he expected. Perhaps rejection or disgust, but what would he think if he knew she felt the opposite? She wondered what he would do if she went over to him and kissed him. He’s married, she reminded herself and frowned looking away with her own heavy sigh.

Emerald hues returned to him as he spoke of convincing the god Janus, not himself, it seemed she misunderstood which Janus he referred to. Nodding, she better understood the problem facing them. “Well, we will have to be very convincing then. Look at all the people you have helped, though you did that on assignment and not of your own volition, so it may not count. Hmm, but you have helped me a lot, and you were very, um, concerned for my welfare. A selfish person wouldn’t have gone to get me ice,” she smiled at the memory.

When Janus mentioned being free of the god’s rule, Flahme frowned a moment. “Being free of his rule does not necessarily mean you will be free of the desire for blood. That may be more connected with being a demon than your relationship to him. Maybe…” she paused not sure Janus wanted to hear this. “Maybe the abilities you are receiving from the blood are the ones you were meant to have all along. You won’t know until this is over.”

At his smile, she couldn’t help but mimic him, her lips pulling up as she looked at him. “’A rose by any other name would smell as sweet’, I’m wondering what it would feel like to call you by another name, but you’re right it’s not the name that makes us who we are.”

Shaking her head to get back on track, she stood and spread her hands an excited smile playing about her lips. “Okay, how do we go about this? I’ve never been dragged to Hell before, so at the very least there is a new experience in here for me.”
June 04, 2019 06:21 am

Janus


Grumbling, Janus said under his breath just loudly enough for her to hear. “Trust me, I’ve met you.” Just as easily as he had feigned his annoyance, the look was replaced with a smile at the return of their playful banter.

The tone in which Flahme posed her question about it being a drop of blood had his ears perking up, and turning hot. Whatever gleam that had been in her eye had turned into a smoldering warmth that changed the air between them. So, falling back into his old ways, he flashed her a debonair smile and responded to her question with one of his own. “Is that an offer for your services?” 

Sliding his tattooed hand over to his empty glass, he brought the cool container up to his face and rested a cheek upon it. Condensation quickly began to run down the length of his neck and the tattoos he had collected there. Her rehashing of his good deeds indeed brought back pleasant memories, though they were tainted with an overwhelming sense of dread from their situation in Paris. 

A selfish person wouldn’t have gone to get me ice. 

Blinking at the statement, Janus studied her for a moment before quickly dismissing the thoughts that came to mind. Her faith in him was outstanding, and he considered himself incredibly lucky to have acquired such a loyal friend. 

The familiar sensation of worry filled him at the thought of still ingesting blood once he was dismissed. He could live with being a demon, even if it meant losing his immortality in being a god’s right hand man. However, he didn’t know how long he would be able to avoid his guilty concious creeping up on him from ingesting blood in a regular basis. There were plenty of people in New York who could use the bags of blood he had been purchasing illegally, and he had even considered losing his strength to relieve himself of his emotions towards it. 

“As always, your confidence in me is humbling. What did I do to deserve such a person in my life?” Smiling once again, he poured himself half a shot worth of whiskey from the now mostly empty bottle on the table. Downing it, he savored the burn in the back of his throat before continuing. “Whoever it is I’m meant to be, consuming blood or not, I’m grateful to have you by my side through this. Getting to Hell will be the easy part of this journey. I say the word, and we’ll have transportation there.”

Rising from his seat, the space between them and placed a hand on her slender shoulder before providing a small, embarrassed smile. “The demons driving our blood stained chariot will await us tomorrow morning if you are positive you can accept what I’m asking of you. Though I have to warn you, the person they know me as is not pleasant. The face I will wear for them is one you haven’t seen before, and I hope you won’t see me differently after it. I’m still the same person underneath, the one you’ve brought out in me. I just can’t stand to lose any street cred that I’ve gained with them. I’m now at the point where they don’t bother me as much when I make these trips to fulfill my other worldly duties. Which, reminds me.” 

Releasing her from his grasp, Janus disappeared into the hallway leading farther into the apartment to his bedroom. There, in the drawers of a cedar nightstand he withdrew a long black jewelry box. The contents of which pulsed under his touch. Returning to the dining room he set it on the table before her and flipped open the lid to reveal a necklace. 

A delicate silver chain was attached to a round pendant with a bright red ruby housed in swirls of silver. The bed it laid upon black velvet. “A gift. I expected the worst, but hoped and prepared for the best in asking this favor of you. I won it off of Bathor during a game of riddles. Though he was the one to execute my punishment, I’m rather fond of him. He said, though I’m not entirely sure I can take his word for it, that it would protect one from enchantment. I saw it and immediately thought of you. I hope you’ll accept it as a token of my gratitude.” 
June 05, 2019 08:29 am
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