Hello again! In the last chapter, you are introduced to the lovely Cleo and find out a bit of what she is like. She finally finds her dear brother and just that fact changes things for her. In this chapter, quite a few discoveries are made, especially an important one that shocks everyone beyond belief. I think you will all like it. Enjoy the chapter and review!
Chapter 2: Revelations
Nai and Gareki had been taken to an exam room where they could be looked at, just to make sure that the Varuga hadn't infected them. There was a window that looked into the room and that was where I stayed so that Nai could see that I hadn't left. He seemed comfortable around Gareki and looked at him as if he was a surrogate brother. Little Nai was the type to attach himself to people like that and I found it adorable. He turned to see me outside the window and waved at me energetically, so I waved back and he settled back down once more.
I heard footsteps approaching and then a voice said, "Aren't you glad that I stopped you from leaving?"
"I wasn't at the time, Captain, but I am now," I said softly. "I had thought you had forgotten about my predicament. I suppose it's a good thing you didn't."
"I remember all of my subordinates' problems," he told me as he stood beside me to look in the window. "That's why I ask for your history before you get on the ship. How are the patients?"
"Nai is his cheerful self, even though his was a little frightened at all the poking and prodding the doctors put him through. Gareki, on the other hand, is bored and irritated, so I'm sure he wants out of that room as fast as possible."
"I have a special task for you," he said, turning to look at me and making me do the same.
I rolled my eyes and said, "You have to be kidding me. I just found my brother and this is what you're going to do?"
"Don't get hostile, Cleiona," Hirato said sternly, opting out of using my nickname to show that he was serious. "This task is one that you will approve of. I want you to be both Gareki's and Nai's bodyguard. Yogi and Tsukumo can help when they aren't busy."
"Gareki won't like this one bit," I said with a tiny laugh. "I am quite certain he will try to give me the slip and Nai won't know what to do because of him."
Before he could speak again, the doctor came out and gave me a smile. "They are both in perfect health. There is no sign of Varuga blood whatsoever and they are free to roam about the ship."
The doctor left and headed down the hallway, nearly bumping into Yogi and Tsukumo, who were turning to walk closer to us. The doctor nearly fell so Yogi grabbed him to steady him as the doctor thanked him profusely. He walked away quickly and I could see his face burning red. I looked back at the window and saw Nai gazing at Gareki curiously, who looked bored again and was lying on the bed with his eyes closed.
"I want you to help Cleo watch out for Gareki and Nai," Hirato said to Yogi and Tsukumo. "I'm going out to talk with a friend in need a few towns over."
"Are you making us do this instead of going with you because you look down on us?" Tsukumo asked seriously.
Hirato shook his head and began to walk away, pausing for a few seconds once he was standing next to them to say, "Actually, I'm asking you to do this because I trust you. I don't want Cleo to be alone if Varugas decide to attack." The Captain then left entirely and disappeared from sight.
Yogi sighed and turned to look at me. "So what should we do now? Maybe we could play a game for a while and keep those two busy."
"That sounds like a good idea," Tsukumo said. "Cleo, keep an eye on them until we have everything set up. It shouldn't take very long."
I nodded and watched them go for a few seconds before turning towards the door. Just as I was about to open it, it was flung open and I was face to face with Gareki. I didn't realize that he was a few inches taller than me until then and we both stared at each other. Lazily, he leaned against the door frame as he looked down at me, crossing his arms and seeming to wait for me to get out of his way. There wasn't a chance in hell that I was going to do what he wanted and lifted my chin defiantly.
"What do you think you are doing?" I asked him, narrowing my eyes to show that I was being serious.
"I'm leaving," he said simply, his very voice exuding that boredom he used as a barrier. "I want to get out of here now while I have the chance."
"Well, too bad for you," I told him with a derisive smile, watching a spark of amusement flash in his eyes for a second before he suppressed it. "You get to stay in the lap of luxury for as long as the Captain decides you are welcome. So I suggest you get back in that room now before I force you to."
"Oh, I'd love to see you try," he said with a grin of his own, one that was just as mocking as mine. "You're a tiny little thing and I think I might break you in two before you're able to make me do anything."
As my smile got wider and I showed off my dainty elongated canines that didn't once surprise him, I reached my hand up to press it against his chest and allowed the fire within me to focus on my hand. The temperature there rose until he had to hop back, looking shocked as a light smoke rose up from where my hand had just been. I snapped my fingers and a tiny flame appeared just above them, which I doused by closing my fist around it. Nai began to clap so I knew he was entertained with my trick but Gareki could only stare.
"I'm sorry, but what was that about me not being able to force you back into the room?" I asked sarcastically, looking at my fingernails with disinterest and then up into Gareki's eyes.
Ignoring my previous words on purpose, he asked, "So you can control fire? Is that pyrokinesis?"
"I suppose you could say that," I told him. "I am Circus' fire breather. I am one of a kind."
Before Gareki could ask anything else, Yogi and Tsukumo appeared behind me. "We've got everything set up now!" Yogi said with a laugh. "We're going to play hide and seek and Tsukumo here is going to be the seeker!"
Gareki shouldered his way past me and turned down a few corridors to get out of sight. Nai ran up to me, gave me a quick hug, then ran off to hide somewhere else. I walked away from everyone else as Tsukumo began to count. I found a room with high ceilings and rafters, flew up to one of them, and waited patiently to be found. Ten minutes later, Tsukumo came into the room with Yogi and Gareki trailing after her, Gareki looking rather angry.
"You were told not to leave," Yogi said with a shrug. "You really shouldn't be so angry that they were doing their job."
"They picked me up and carried me away from the exit," Gareki grumbled.
"Found you, Cleo," Tsukumo called out, pointing a finger in my direction. I jumped down as she asked, "Have you seen Nai?"
I was about to answer when I felt a bad feeling deep in my gut, one that alerted me that something was wrong. I only ever had this feeling when the Varuga were near and I looked out the window to see a large one. It was rather grotesque looking and I wasn't all that concerned until I saw a figure cowering in front of it, one with white hair that stood out from afar. I gasped and flew to the window, opening it as quick as I could and flying down to Nai to keep him from the Varuga.
"Get away from him," I growled at the monster, watching its grin get even wider as it assessed me.
"Oh, more red seeds for me to take," the Varuga cackled. "I have been looking for so long and now I have finally found them."
"I said get away," I told it as my entire body went up in crimson flames. It took a step back and hissed, afraid of what I could do with my magic. I could hear running and I looked out of the corner of my eye to see Yogi, Tsukumo, and Gareki coming towards us, but the Varuga didn't like that.
"Can't have you interfere with me getting my red seeds!" the Varuga yelled and spit out what looked like eyes at Yogi and Gareki. They were wrapped up and struggling fiercely while Tsukumo ran past them, only for another Varuga to step from the shadows to wrap her up in its hair. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see a distressed Nai try to pick up a large rock and throw it at the Varuga keeping Tsukumo still, but it didn't go very far and the Varuga formed a twisted grin on its face. The large Varuga turned back to me and tried to spit those eyes at me this time, but I extended my arm and sent a huge plume of fire outwards to burn them to a crisp. "This little girl is stubborn. Too bad I have to take her in with the boy."
Just as I had begun to suspect, now they knew of Nai's existence and wanted to capture him as well. I had tried to keep him safe from them and I had failed, which only served to make me even angrier. The flames around me burned out of control now and I bared my fangs at the monster before me. It looked a little confused at my behavior and I began to concentrate the flames in me until I felt it burning in my veins, then let it out like a Dragon breathing fire. The Varuga burned instantly and screamed in agony until it eventually turned to a pile of ash. My chest heaved as I tried to steady my breathing and I turned around to face the other Varuga when I heard a noise behind me.
"Time is up!" a little black Sheep from the ship said as it stood in front of Nai. "Nai was the last to be found so he is the winner! Game over!"
Thankfully, the Sheep picked him up and flew off with him, heading for the ship to keep him safe. I let out a sigh of relief as I turned back to the other Varuga, who had already let go of Tsukumo and was leaving the scene. Tsukumo cut Yogi and Gareki free from their binds as I did my best to force the flames back beneath my skin. It was a struggle in of itself and it took a few seconds to accomplish, leaving me hunched over and panting heavily. I felt exhausted as the lack of sleep finally caught up with me and my legs gave out entirely. I managed to catch myself and was on my hands and knees when I felt a pair of arms wrap around me to pull me up on my feet. I turned my head to see that it was Gareki and I could sense that he was worried even though he didn't let me see it.
"When was the last time you slept?" he asked softly.
"It's been a while," I told him with a bitter laugh. "I can sleep when I'm dead."
"If you're not careful, that might happen sooner than you think."
He kept a hand on me to steady me as we walked closer the ship and later Yogi grabbed him so that we could all fly back to the ship. I made it inside easily but walking around was a little difficult when my legs attempted to give out again. This time, Yogi and Gareki threw my arms over their shoulders to balance me and helped me walk along as dark spots began to pop up in my vision. Ten minutes of walking and my body shut down, forcing me to slump into them as I passed out.
The dreams were the reason behind why I never wanted to sleep. All I kept seeing whenever I closed my eyes were monsters of different sizes and shapes chasing after me. Soon after that, I would see Nai there in the darkness, calling out my name and looking for me even though I was right there, only the monsters heard him and chased after him instead. I tried my best to stop them, even going so far as to kill as many as I possibly could, but they caught him. I heard him screaming for me and it tore my heart to shreds. This was my biggest fear, my strongest nightmare. I didn't want to see harm come to Nai and I would die before anything happened to him.
I woke up with a gasp, sitting up quickly and scanning my surroundings like that of a wild animal. The first thing I noticed was the fact that I was in my room. I cursed my weakness that led to me passing out while in the presence of others as I caught sight of something that surprised me. Sitting in a chair near my bed was Gareki, looking as livid as ever. I pushed my bangs out of my eyes and forced my body over to the edge of the bed closest to him.
"Why do you look so grumpy?" I asked him, tiredly rubbing the sleep from my eyes. The only response I received was a grunt and he turned his face away from me to look towards the door. "It would be much simpler if you just told me what's going on. Don't force me to burn the answers from you. You know I'd do it."
"Something happened with Nai and I was sent here to wait for you to wake up so I would be out of the way," he grumbled.
I felt my blood run cold at his words and quickly asked, "What happened? Is he all right? Was it because of the Varugas?"
Before I could throw out any more questions, he waved his hand noncommittally and said, "He's not hurt or anything if that's what you are worried about. Not long after you passed out and we dropped you off here in your room, Nai heard something with his exceptional hearing. It was loud enough to make him scream in pain and later pass out just like you. He's been unconscious ever since."
"I'm going to see him then!"
I was up and running in seconds, Gareki yelling something after me that I didn't quite catch since I was already at the door. I heard him curse under his breath as he took off after me, but I was much faster than he was. I headed in the direction of the infirmary areas, loping along as a quick pace and hoping that he would be awake by the time I got there. I turned a corner to see Yogi and Tsukumo waiting outside of a doorway to the infirmary and I slid to a halt a few feet away just as Gareki caught up with me. He glared at me as he panted, hunching over to try to catch his breath.
"Good, you're awake," Yogi said to me. "At least one of you is finally conscious. Now we're just waiting on Nai."
I was about to say something when the doctor came out of the room to see us all. "Cleo, dear, you look like a mess! Go back to your room and get some more rest. I can't have you passing out a second time under my watch."
"I'll sleep later after Nai wakes up," I told him. "Is he going to be ok?"
"Physically, there is nothing wrong with him," the doctor said to us all. "The only thing is that there is a strong disturbance in his brain waves. Nothing serious but it is something I informed Hirato about. He said that he would go to the Research Tower to find out more. Honestly, he should be waking any time now."
"How soon are we talking about?" Gareki asked.
"Soon enough," the doctor said with a sigh, obviously displeased with the fact that he had to explain things twice. "Listen, young man, I want you to sit with Nai for a while. I need to go get some supper now while things are looking optimistic."
"Now wait a minute," I protested, taking a step closer to him. "I want to sit with Nai as well!"
"Sorry, Cleo, one person at a time until he wakes up. Besides, I thought I told you that you needed to get some rest."
With those words, the doctor walked away from us without so much as a second look. Gareki went into the infirmary and all I could do was stubbornly sit out in the hallway to wait it out. No matter what Yogi or Tsukumo said, I wouldn't move from that spot or speak up about it. Tsukumo finally gave up and left while Yogi said he would be back with food for me since I hadn't eaten. I didn't know when it happened, but I had managed to drift off to sleep with my head resting against the wall.
When I woke up again, there was a slamming noise that made me jump. I looked up and saw Gareki leaving the room, seeming so infuriated that he went expressionless so that no one would notice. His eyes seemed just as blank when our gazes met but I could sense the storm brewing in his mind as he walked down the hallway away from me. I was about to chase after him when I heard a sudden wailing noise that sounded sorrowful and absolutely wretched. I scrambled to my feet and burst into the room to see Nai weeping inconsolably, his cries loud and echoing through the hallways.
I moved closer to him and he screamed, "No, stay away!"
His tears slid down his cheeks faster than ever and he looked like he was under a lot of emotional distress. I felt my heart ache for him and I moved closer slowly, making him scream again. This time, he got up from the bed and made a move to run away from me, but I was much faster than he was. I ran forward and grabbed him, wrapping my arms around him tightly as he thrashed in my hold. He wailed again and I felt his tears drip down onto my arms, his body shaking as I pulled him even closer.
"You've got to leave me alone!" he whined. "I don't want you or Gareki to break! I don't want you both to be hurt!"
"Little Nai, what are you talking about?" I asked him softly, leaning my chin on the top of his head. "You should know that I am not so easily broken. I am much stronger than I was before I had to leave to protect you."
"Karoku has been coming in my dreams," he whispered shakily. "He said that I had to make you and Gareki leave or you would both break. Bad things happen around me, Cleo. I don't want that to happen to either of you."
He had finally stopped his struggles now that he had told me what he was so worried about, still he was shaking as if he was freezing. I let go of him long enough to turn him around to face me. I placed my hands on either side of his face and tilted his head back just enough so that he was looking me in the eyes. In those crimson pools, I could see worry and fear still swirling there, his tears still streaming down his cheeks. I could even see myself in those eyes and I realized I could understand why he worried so. I looked exhausted now more than ever and he was afraid of what might happen.
"I swear to you that nothing bad will befall us," I whispered back, giving him a comforting smile that took the edge off of his anxiety. "I will protect us all, even Gareki. You won't have to see another friend break or worse."
Even though he was still afraid for us, he seemed happier as he cried out what was left of his apprehension, hugging me tightly again to cry on my shoulder as I knelt in front of him with my arms around him. He was sniffling lightly as I heard footsteps approaching and I turned my head to see Yogi with a tray of food for the both of us. He saw that Nai was awake and gave us a bright smile until he noticed the situation that he had just walked in. Yogi tilted his head to the side and then walked in the room to set the tray down.
"Gareki found me and said that Nai was finally awake," Yogi said as he put the two plates of food out on the table for us to eat. "However, he didn't say anything about this. It makes me wonder."
It made me wonder what was going on as well. Gareki had stormed out of the room faster than an alley cat and I had a hunch that he might have been another reason why Nai had been bawling his eyes out. If that boy had done something to my little brother, there would be hell to pay. I would chase him around the ship and throw fireballs at him.
I gently pushed Nai away from me so I could hold him at an arm's length, making sure to keep a grip on his shoulders in case he tried to bolt from me a second time. "Nai, do you know why Gareki left here so fast?"
He refused to look me in the eyes as he said, "I don't know."
"You're going to have to tell me," I explained to him. "I want to know if there is something wrong with him so we can help."
While avoiding looking at me the entire time, he finally told me what happened. "After I woke up from the dream, I saw Gareki sitting on the bed next to me. I remembered what Karoku said in the dream and I told him to leave. He didn't look very happy but still got up to go and that was when I remembered the bracelet. I was supposed to give it to him as payment for helping me escape. So I got up to give it to him and handed it over when he got angry with me. He said that… what I was doing was just low and that I was treating what we had been through together as nothing. Then he left just like that."
He instantly started crying again and I reached over to wipe his tears away with my sleeve. "It's ok, little Nai. He didn't understand that you were only trying to protect him. I'll go find him and talk to him if you want."
Nai nodded hesitantly and I stood up, feeling the fires of rage burning in the pit of my stomach. I gritted my teeth to stop the hiss of rage and that was when Yogi saw my expressions. I walked out of the room slowly so that Nai wouldn't be able to see me fuming over the whole situation. I heard Yogi walk behind me and he grabbed me by the wrist to stop me long enough so we could talk. He shut the door behind us and gave me a hardened stare.
"Nai knows you're angry with Gareki," he explained. "He's an observant person. If you are going to confront Gareki, then don't you dare hurt him. You can try to scare him if you think you can, but don't let any harm come to him or your brother will be even more upset."
"I didn't intend on hurting Gareki," I assured him. "I was just going to give him the worst tongue lashing in his life. Please keep my food set out for me because I'll eat it when I get back."
I turned around and walked down the hallway without once looking back. I didn't tell anyone this, but my senses were extremely sensitive and I could pick up on things that normal humans couldn't. I tracked Gareki's scent as I moved down the hallways, walking soundlessly as I looked for him. Before long, his scent was getting stronger and that meant that he was close by. There was a noise that startled me and I saw a huge mob of Sheep carrying Gareki towards me. I stepped out of the shadows to intercept them and they set him down quickly.
"He went out of bounds!" they told me before dispersing quickly.
I turned my gaze to Gareki and he looked away, trying to hide his anger as I lost control of mine. Crimson sparks jumped from the skin of my arms until I had tiny red flames burning at the tips of my fingers. That caught his attention and he took a step back, now knowing how dangerous a situation he was in. His goggles slipped down a little and he pushed them back quickly before putting his hands up in a nonthreatening manner.
"I don't know what you are so angry about," he said hesitantly, his eyes finally meeting mine but showing no fear, "but you really shouldn't take it out on me."
"I disagree," I said curtly as I took a step closer. "You hurt Nai and now you're going to pay."
"Now listen, Cleo, I didn't do anything wrong. He used me to get away from that lady, the one that could have killed me while I was dragging him through her mansion."
"Is that what you think he did?" I laughed incredulously as the fire darkened a shade. "You think Nai is the type of person to use people to get what he wants? He is too sweet to ever do something like that, especially if it means hurting someone that he considers as his friend. Me, on the other hand, I'm not so nice."
"Take another step closer and you'll force me to fight you," he told me as he glared fiercely at me, but it only made me laugh once more.
"I could beat you at a fight. I'm much too fast for you to see any of my attacks. Now stop changing the subject on me. Do you really think Nai would use you to get what he wants?"
He paused for a few seconds as he watched me and I began to wonder if I would ever get an answer when he finally spoke up. "No, I don't. That's why this whole situation is confusing to me. Why did he push me away like that? It wasn't like him at all."
I could see that he was actually worried about Nai and that was why he was so furious about what had happened. His guilt for what had happened between the two of them was the only reason why my flames slowly burned out, turning blue just before they disappeared entirely. I shook my head and took a step back, only surprising him more than ever.
"He did it because he had a dream that Karoku told him to get rid of us both. He said that Nai had to push us away now before we break. Nai tried to push me away as well and I wouldn't let him."
"Is that why he tried to give me the bracelet?" Gareki asked curiously.
"He knew that you wanted it as payment before and he figured that you still might so he gave it to you to make you happy. Now that we are speaking about that bracelet, did you really demand payment to help him?" I asked, feeling a little angry again.
"I may have meant it then but I don't now," he told me with a sigh. "I won't ask for anything like that from him again." I saw a surprising softness in his eyes and I knew he cared. I was about to ask him about why he would demand payment for things like that when he quickly stopped me. "Don't waste your breath asking me about why I did what I did at the mansion. I don't know you and you don't know me, so why bother. We would need to have a mutual trust before I tell you anything about my life."
"The one thing we seem to agree upon," I told him as I grabbed his sleeve and pulled him along behind me. "You're coming with me right now and you are going to apologize to Nai."
He sighed but didn't protest it, so I took it as a good sign. It didn't take very long until we finally reached the infirmary, only to see Yogi and Tsukumo standing outside of the door again. The door was cracked open just enough so that they could eavesdrop on the conversation at hand. Yogi beckoned for us to come closer and explained that another doctor by the name of Akari had arrived with Nai's test results over why he had fallen unconscious. He even said that Hirato was with them and also Nai, so we moved closer to listen in on what was going to be said. Gareki had his shoulder pressed against mine as we leaned in closer to the crack in the door.
"I have been going over the results for hours now and I finally came to a conclusion," Dr. Akari said before pausing.
"Well?" Hirato asked when the silence became overwhelming. "What did you find out about our little friend here?"
"First of all… Nai is physically fine and the epitome of good health," the doctor said seriously. "That's what matters the most about what I have to say. Second, I made an important discovery. Nai is not a human. He is actually an animal."
"What?!" Yogi yelled, so surprised that he lost his balance and stumbled forward, which forced the door open to reveal us all. Knowing that we had been caught, we moved inside the room and that was when Yogi and Gareki turned to glare at me. "Is this true? Did you know about this?"
Before I could speak, Akari stopped the flood of questions with another statement. "Of course she knew about this. The reason I could figure out that Nai was an animal is because she is one as well."
A collective gasp could be heard from the few people who had been in the dark about my secret and I cringed. I had been hoping to keep this hidden and take it to the grave with me, but it just wasn't the case. Now my friends knew what I had been hiding from them for so long and it wasn't a good feeling.