-Short- Noire mourning the loss of his one true love. A bit depressing.
|The main hall of the Rubicon Manor was dark and chilled. Heavy curtains of shadow hung over the room, held at bay by a single, pillar candle that burned on a side table next to a high-backed, upholstered chair. Every so often a slight draft would find its way into the room and cause the steady flame to flicker and jump, sending morphing blobs of darkness dancing about the walls and ceiling. Reclined in the chair and almost invisible in the blackness sat Noire. He was slouched down with his bat-like wings folded around his body like some sort of protective barrier. His long, sharp tail twitched and traced the floor around the chair’s legs at random intervals.
The room was as silent as a freshly dug grave and that silence remained until it was cracked by the sound of heartbreaking sobs. Noire was a cold blooded killer. Most of the time he didn’t care what his targets had done to earn themselves a bounty. He was hired; he did the job, got paid and never lost so much as a minute of sleep afterward. In all his twenty plus years on this earth, no one had ever seen the assassin shed a tear for any reason. He had endured pain to the point of collapse; he’d seen the family members of his victims wail themselves hoarse over the lifeless body of their loved ones and nothing had ever made him cry. He had walked on the darkside of human society and witnessed things that would have a sociopath cringing and yet none of it fazed him.
Tonight was different though; very different. On this night he felt the raw ache of loneliness much more profoundly then at any other time and every year on this night, he did the same thing. He sent his handyman, Robert, to stay in one of the outlying cottages that sat along the banks of the small river that ran the southern border of Noctune land. He wanted his house to himself. He had gone to his bedroom – a place he rarely ever ventured to – and from inside a small compartment near his bed, withdrew a long, white candle. That candle now burned beside him. It seemed an innocent item but those candles had been Zach’s before he was taken from Noire.
Now he sat in the dark room, the pain and hurt inside him almost overcoming all sense and reason. His chest ached around the jagged edges of his broken heart, illuminating the empty void inside him just as Zach’s candle illuminated the room around him. He reached up slowly, wiping a stream of tears from his left cheek and staring at them as they trickled down his fingers. He clamped his eyelids closed as tightly as he could, his hands turning into hard fists. His wings snuggled closer around his body and he let his mind wonder through the memories of times past.
“Noire! You ass!” Zach laughed and punched his lover in the arm. “You did that on purpose!”
The young human had been leaning against a partially fallen tree along the bank of a small creek. The two of them had spent the day fishing, an activity that Noire didn’t fully understand. He couldn’t figure out why someone would willing spend hours and hours doing nothing but watching a plastic ball float about in the water on the end of a fishing line with no guarantee of catching anything. It had taken some heavy convincing from Zach to get him out and fishing and even now, he wasn’t entirely impressed by the pastime. His partner had given up trying to show him how relaxing and fun it could actually be. Noire still insisted that it would be much more efficient to just go to the store and buy some fish. He really wasn’t the outdoors-y type.
“It was an honest accident.” The Rotti said with a smirk that told all too well that he was lying.
Zach had just gotten a bite; the first bite after three hours of fishing, and just as he jumped up to reel it in, Noire’s left wing snapped out, smacking him dead in the face and knocking him backwards and onto the ground. Zach’s pole had gone in the other direction, being pulled through the water by the snared fish at the other end. To someone watching, it would seem that Noire was just being mean but the two of them had a bet running. First one to catch a fish got to pick the restaurant that the two of them would dine at for their one year anniversary. It wasn’t a big bet but the assassin took competition very seriously.
“Hmm.” Noire watched Zach’s pole go skitting across the water’s surface. “Looks like that was a big one too.” He craned his head around and smiled evilly at his lover.
Zach doubled up his fist and shook it at the Rotti menacingly.
Noire chuckled and looped his arm around the human’s shoulders, pulling him close. Zach didn’t resist; after all it would take more than a runaway fish to damper their love. He leaned his head against the anthro’s chest and smiled. The sound of the running water mixed with the strong, steady beat of Noire’s heart put the human at ease more so then any drug or assurance offered by the world.
Noire lowered his head, kissing Zach’s hair and inhaling deeply of its fresh scent. Right now; here by this creek the assassin felt as if they were the only two living creatures on the planet. He forgot about all the grim and macabre business he would be engaging in soon enough. Each one of them needed the other just as a drowning man needs air. Zach made Noire feel ‘human’; with his lover at his side, he could lose track of who he was and what he did for a living. With Zach he wasn’t the Patriarch nor the shadow of death come calling. He was simply Noire.
Noire’s watery eyes opened and he gasped for air as if he couldn’t breathe. The pressure of his loss seemed to weigh on his chest like a million pound weight. His whole body shook with sadness as he tried to silence his sobs. Had he known that scarcely two weeks after that fishing trip that he would be alone he would have dove into that creek and retrieved Zach’s fish with his bare hands.
“Damn you Zach!” He growled, his voice croaky and weak. “Why!? Why did you leave me here all alone!?”
“I love you.”
Noire went as stiff as a board! His silver eyes were wide and darted from shifting shadow to shifting shadow, looking for any sign of the speaker. It had been Zach’s voice. There was no way he would ever confuse that smooth tenor with anyone else! It felt like hours passed and he didn’t so much as draw a breath. Had he imagined it? Was it just his sorrow making itself manifest? Other thoughts began to enter his mind; what if Zach wasn’t dead? What if it was just a cruel, humorless joke pulled off by his nefarious cousin?
With another growl, Noire pushed the thoughts away. He had seen Zach’s body. Saw it pinned to the top of his dining room table with knives in some gross, defilement of a crucifixion. He saw the words that Kevail had written in the human’s own blood proclaiming that Zach’s heart was now his; literately. Just remembering the events made a hurricane of white-hot rage roar to life inside him. He fought it, knowing that if he let it loose he would destroy the entire Manor before it was appeased. A thousand times the assassin had cursed himself for dispatching his villainous cousin so quickly. It was dark times like these that Noire wished he had taken him captive instead of killing him. He could let that rage explode it’s fury onto the bastard year after year but no; he had to be put down if for no other reason than to show the rest of his family that those who chose to meddle in his affairs would meet a very unpleasant end.
His hatred was such that if it were possible he would call Kevail back from whatever hell he was immersed in to extract a second toll for his crimes.
“Why are you so angry?” This time it was not a voice he heard with his ears but rather inside his head.
No sooner had the words passed through his mind then he felt a strange calm settle over him and his attention went skipping across the stepping stones of his memories.
It was barely a month since Zach had moved in and already the human was reconsidering his choice. When he had met Noire he knew that he was dangerous; that he was as close to evil as one could get without completely losing their soul but he never imagined how disturbed the anthro was.
“Why are you so angry?” He asked quietly, still not sure if he was speaking out of turn or drifting into waters that could prove lethal.
Noire stood with his back to his lover, staring out the giant bay windows that lined on side of the Rubicon’s main hall. He, himself, was still trying to come to grips with loving another living creature. He did not know how to be compassionate or understanding. To him, the strong ruled and the rest followed. There was no compromise. If he was able to do something then, by his thinking, he had the right to do it regardless of how it affected the people around him.
“I am not angry! I just do not suffer fools gladly!” The Rotti snapped a bit harsher then he meant to.
Several hours prior, one of the lower ranked Noctunes had come by the Manor wanting to speak with Noire about some trivial business. Her name was Regina; the second daughter of Kevail’s first marriage and unlike the majority of his family, she was not a back-biting monster. Indeed, her visit was legitimate but none of that mattered to Noire. He hated his family; every last man, woman and pup. Zach had been there, watching the two of them discuss kindred matters. He saw how much delight Noire got in refusing her petitions even though it was obvious that she needed his help. He witnessed how Noire had used his serrated tongue to humiliate and chastise her and the anger he vented when she refused to leave the Rubicon.
The human was glad that Regina had left when she did, though it took a mortal threat from Noire to get her gone. It was a threat that could not be mistaken for anything but a warning. With the barrel of one of the assassin’s .45’s leveled in her face, she had cowered away and quickly left in defeat. Her problems did seem very critical to Zach but Noire didn’t care. If tomorrow all of the Noctunes floated belly up, dead, he wouldn’t even pause to wish them well on their passing.
A long silence ensued. Zach knew the Rotti was mad. He also knew that, as cruel as he was, his anger was justified. The things his family had done to him were unforgivable. Not knowing what else to do and wanting so badly to sooth his lover, Zach approached a few steps at a time. When he was less than a foot away he slowly raised his right hand and, after a moment of hesitation, rested it on Noire’s shoulder.
He had been expecting the anthro to jump on him or to spin around, taking his head off with one blow but Noire didn’t so much as twitch. Zach moved closer, sliding his arm down to the small of the Rotti’s back.
“They were wrong in what they did to you.” He said plainly, eying his partner carefully.
That remark earned him a venomous glare.
“But you are away from them. Let them fight each other if they want. If you cannot forgive them then ignore them. Holding onto this anger is only poisoning you; it doesn’t hurt them at all.”
That was about as far as Zach was willing to push. This was a very tender subject; as tender as a fresh burn but to his surprise Noire’s only response was placing his own hand on Zach’s back, rubbing it for a moment before becoming stationary.
“You should not have had to witnessed that. I am sorry.” The assassin stated flatly.
“I don’t care about her or her problems; I just don’t like seeing you like this. Promise me that you won’t let this eat away at you?”
Anyone else would probably have been picking their teeth up off the polished, wood floor for saying such a thing and pushing into Noire’s business but the Ice Prince only let out a long sigh and turned to face the human. He took both of Zach’s hands in his and held them there as he stared into the innocent, blue eyes of his love.
For the first time of the night, Noire reached over and took hold of the half filled glass of whiskey. Alcohol didn’t affect him the way it did humans but it still helped to ease the torment he was locked in. The key was knowing when to stop. On a night like tonight, when the assassin yearned to drown his sorrow in a river of fermented liquid, he forced himself to be content with one glass. He shot it down despite the lump in his throat and relished the burn as it scorched down into his empty stomach.
Zach had always been understanding; sometimes to a fault. His refreshing optimism offset Noire’s more cynical and jaded outlook. In the brief time that they were together, the human tried several times to try to get him to make amends with both his father’s family and his mother’s. Zach had not been much younger than the assassin but he was eons more naive. That was one of the enduring qualities that made the anthro fascinated with him.
In his perfect world, Zach thought that if you just tried hard enough and had right on your side then you could accomplish anything. Even though he could have, Noire refused to dispel the young man’s illusions. After all, it was that line of thinking that had made it possible for Zach to turn a blind eye to the ruthless murders that his lover committed on a weekly basis to keep them both living a lavish lifestyle.
Noire slammed his glass down, almost knocking the candle over. Never again would he be able to find someone so pure; so caring and open-minded. He had met his soul mate and now there was nothing else to look forward to. He would never know love like he had known with Zach. If all he had from here on out were friends, then he would die alone.
It hadn’t been all rosebuds and sunshine of course. There were times when Zach really got on his nerves. Like with the cat. Oh god; that damn cat!
Noire knew Zach was up to no good. He just had that look about him the moment the assassin returned home. The human had been lounging in the den, his feet propped up on the coffee table next to a pet carrier. He didn’t seem to notice his partner’s presence at first. It wasn’t until a floor board creaked under Noire’s paws as he entered that Zach turned around.
The moment he saw him, he jumped up; excited.
“Your home!” He ran to Noire and embraced him, squeezing him hard. Every time he went off on a mission, Zach never knew if that would be the one that he would not return from.
“I am.” Noire said, returning the hug though not nearly as aggressive as his lover’s. “What is that?” He asked suspiciously.
He didn’t have to ask; he had smelt the putrid stench of a feline the moment he had come through the front door. It wasn’t detectable to the human nose but his keen senses were almost flooded with it.
“Oh! I got us a pet. Ya know, something we can take care of and play with.”
Noire watched with weary eyes as his partner walked over to the carrier and in one motion, turned it around and opened the cage door.
“Come on out, Blanc.” He said in a soft voice, “Come meet your other daddy.”
“Blanc?” Noire arched an eyebrow.
“Yeah.” Zach laughed, “I thought it would be cool since your name means ‘black’ in French; his means ‘white’.”
As the Patriarch of the Noctunes stood there waiting, the small kitten came edging out of the carrier slowly. It sniffed and looked around, sensing a predator nearby. It was a cute, little thing; solid white with big blue eyes. Unable to restrain his animal instincts, Noire let out a low, threatening growl.
The cat’s eyes locked on the anthro’s dark form and the ridge of hair that ran down its back stood on end. It backed up, back into its cage gracing Noire with a raspy hiss that was trademark to kittens. It was obvious that the animal wanted nothing to do with Noire.
“A cat. Zach; what the hell were you thinking?”
Hurt flashed in the human’s eyes, “What? You’re not a dog so what is the problem.”
Noire growled again, “I hate cats, Zach. I had their smell, the noises they make. I hate them.”
At first Zach was speechless then his lips turned up into a wicked smile and he drifted closer to his lover. Noire eyed him and took a step back.
“You hated humans too but you learned to put up with me.” He countered.
“Barely.” Noire looked passed the young man at the cage. He could see the kitten in the far corner, huddled up into a puff ball and watching him intently.
“Oh come on; he is just a little kitten. Don’t tell me Mr. Noire, Grand-high Poo-ba of the Noctunes ; slayer of the vile and criminal is scared of a little furball.” Zach chided him with a smirk. “Just hold him. Once you two get to know each other I think it will work out.”
As the human spoke, he walked over to the carrier and fished Blanc out. The kitten spit and fussed and dug its claws into the floor of its cage as Zach tried to pull him out. The kitten did not want to come. After a few minutes, Zach was able to get the animal calmed down and out of the carrier. He held Blanc to his chest and scratched behind his ears. Then he turned so that it could see Noire.
Blanc’s reaction was instant. Zach yelped as the tiny, needle-like claws of the kitten dug into his chest. Blanc didn’t know what Noire was but he knew that he didn’t want to have anything to do with him.
“Stop; stop, stop. He isn’t going to hurt you, little one.” Zach soothed the cat and slowly unlatched each of its paws from his chest. “Go on; say hi.”
Zach held him out to Noire who accepted it reluctantly. The cat hissed, Noire growled and chaos erupted. The cat twisted itself around backwards, breaking Noire’s grasp and gashing him down the inner part of his left arm. He let out a yell more from surprise then pain. Before he could throw the cat to the floor it had clawed its way up his arm and down his back to his wings. Noire spun around, reaching back to try and grab it. The momentum flung the cat off his back. It clawed the air viciously and was lucky enough to find purchase on the assassin’s left wing with both paws. The kitten stuck like velcro.
Zach backed up as he watched his lover and his pet spin around and around, fighting, hissing and growling at each other. He couldn’t contain his laughter. Noire was the textbook definition of ‘badass’. He could snatch someone’s heart clean out of their chest before they could even blink but poor Blanc was giving him more then he could handle. Blanc kept clawing and spitting while Noire kept swatting back behind him and turning in place.
Zach laughed until he thought his sides would explode. Tears ran out of his eyes and he couldn’t so much as speak as he watched the scene unfold. This had been a bad idea.
A new sound echoed through the room when Noire returned to the real world. It was the soft ‘splat’ of the hot, runny wax dripping from the candle and landing on the floor. In fact, now that was the only sound. Noire had dried his tears, remembering his promise to Zach. His lover would not want him sitting here suffering because of him. Outside the windows, the sky had turned from black to a deep blue that told surely that dawn was on its way.
“You were the best part of me, Zach. Gods, I miss you so much!” Noire looked at the candle as he spoke. It was almost completely gone now. One last tear spilled over and ran down his furry cheek. He raised a hand to the flame, feeling its warmth and trying to link it to the warmth he felt with his human. “I will never stop loving you, my beloved.”
His voice was a thin whisper and he punctuated his sentence by pinching out the flame, cloaking the main hall in an inky veil that glowed with that faint bluish light from outside. He stood up carefully, his wings spreading out to their full extent has he tried to work the stiffness out of them. Once he was up, he picked up the remains of the candle with great care and held it for a moment. He then faced the windows, drawing himself up and putting his grim mask of apathy back on.
It was a new day and once again he had an entire year to try to outrun the hurt before it caught him up again. Maybe this time it would be different. Maybe this time he wouldn’t have to come back here and indulge in this pity-ritual. Maybe this time that gaping hole in his chest would heal over and he could go back to the way things were before he lost his world. Anything was possible but Noire wasn’t about to kid himself. The loss; the hurt would never leave. There was no doubt in his mind that when time found him on his death bed, he would still be mourning for Zach.