Limerance

Sabrie

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a part of Limerance, by The_Queen.

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The_Queen holds sovereignty over Sabrie, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

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Default Location for Limerance
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Sabrie

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Sabrie is a part of Limerance.

3 Characters Here

Doll [381] "I long to see the day where I will be free."
ZERO [359] "Family don't end in blood."
REN [5] Kid Brother // WIP

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Doll Character Portrait: ZERO

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❝We all have our demons❞

[Moonlight Sonata | Beethoven]
DIALOGUE
#853c41

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Strong but not invincible. Hell, she's got strength too. Even if she couldn't remember it. Zero let his hand rest atop her crown of messy blonde hair, just being able to stroke her hair a little, such mundane a gesture was enough to put his mind at some ease. She was the only person he felt closest to.

You're her demon. Don't forget where you stand.

Madame's whisper curled into his thoughts, the fragments of her existed within him even long after her death. She was his curse, his haunt, fear, desire, and every worse nightmare writhing in him. Her essence existed solely to taunt him at every waking hour. Zero closed his eyes and shoved the pressure of Madame's influence into the far corners of his consciousness. He couldn't deal with her shit now.

Oh, so you're gonna run with denial now? You're pathetic.

Her chuckle pricked down his spine, warring with the comfort Loretta's presence gave him. He rolled his shoulders, yeah, so what? They were burdens to the entire human race. They fed on them for survival, and he, he was an asshole who could tear any one of those sonuvabitches apart without so much as batting an eye. He'd need her blood to live, but if she ever said no, he'd just have to find an alternative. No one had to tell him that, especially the scraps of cells that remained of Madame's psyche.

"Zero." Ren's voice pulled him out his head and he snapped out. "What?"

Ren indicated toward the others, "We going."

*


A day later, they were heading into a private airline, apparently Doc knew folks everywhere it seemed and there's always someone who owed him a favor. Getting in, strapping up wasn't the issue. Zero could separate the claustrophobic nightmare fuel cage from the closeness of the seats and little space to really move around. He'd turn his focus on Loretta and just seeing her calmed him enough to endure it.

But when they went airborne he had to grip both armrests and shut his eyes. The all too familiar chill gripped him, making it near impossible to hide. Beside him, Ren settled back, occupied with a magazine. He must have traveled plenty and gotten used to it, much to Zero's agitation. Or perhaps, he wasn't affected.

"Not a damn word." Zero muttered, humming some rock song to distract himself.

"It's just so amusing, we can't die if the plane crashes. Why are you so freaked?"

"Just shut up."

This was gonna be the longest flight of his life.

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Doll Character Portrait: ZERO
  1. Yui-chan, wrong Thread! lol

    by Himekura

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Slang, a pretty but expressionless or unintelligent woman. I.e. "She's nothing more than a doll."



{ Bird Set Free | Sia }


Garamound]Dɪᴀʟᴏɢᴜᴇ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✦ #66CDAA || Tʜᴏᴜɢʜᴛ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✧ #008B8B


"Where are we going?" Doll asked, feeling clothing ruffle against her as the nurse got her dressed. "The Doctor is taking you to a new hospital, where they can treat your legs better." Doll felt around the space, looking for something. The nurse nudged the stuffed unicorn closer to where Doll was reaching around so that the girl could have a sense of accomplishment in finding something for herself. "I'm still surprised that Mr. Unicorn survived," her face broke out into a smile as the nurse helped her into the wheelchair, the fancy new one that had been delivered that morning. Doll couldn't see it, but it was much more comfortable than the hospital wheelchairs.

They had slept in a hotel, Doll with the nurse and the boys sleeping in other various rooms. Xavier was somewhere around there too, under heavy sedatives so that he didn't move around and rip out one of the many stitches in his side. Doll was worried about him of course, but she was much more interested in someone else. Her heart fluttered anxiously as she thought about him, a whisper of breath shared between the two, a daring kiss that went against every law and value the two had ever been taught. Human and Being, it wasn't something that would work. It was dangerous and bad, but amazing all the same. A lot like chocolate, Doll thought. It was rich and creamy and left a sweet after taste on your tongue, but go too long without it and you began to crave it.

There was a plane waiting for them on the airstrip. The others were already inside, strapped in. "I'll carry her in," Grell said, greeting them. Doll's head turned in the direction of where his voice had come from, her blonde hair whipping around since it had been put into a pony tail in an attempt to tame it. "Morning," Doll smiled, wondering if she could be heard over the sound of the jet engine. "Morning! I'll be carrying you in, so just hang on tight." Grell lifted her out, walking up the short flight and placing Doll in one of the seats. "The others will be here soon," Grell promised. It turns out the voice Doll had heard before were not the voices of her friends, but the sound of the jet engine messing with her senses.

Feet went up the steps, they stomped around the interior, people moved about, settling into cushions. Doll fumbled with the eat belt on her lap. The stuffed unicorn had been tucked underneath the large leather seat since it had to be stowed for safety reasons. There was tension in the air, a slight hum that was charged with excitement and mystery. They were going to a new place, a different country, another adventure. Doll had no idea what was in store for them, but she knew that wherever they were headed, it was going to be for the better. Soon her eye sight would come back, then she would be able to walk again, then maybe she and Zero could maybe... Doll wasn't even sure what she was thinking. No one was going to want it, a human and a being? No doubt Ren would protested and they would be separated.

"Zero, we're going to stick together this time. Right? No one is gonna pull us apart?" Doll squeaked, turning her head in the direction she believed Zero to be in. There were still bandages across her eyes, these ones fresh and clean from the bloodied mess of white gauze that had been there the day before. There was an eight hour flight ahead, but Doll wasn't worried, no one would attack them so high up in the sky.

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Character Portrait: Doll Character Portrait: ZERO

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❝Up in the sky, everything looks so small below, so fragile.❞

[Moonlight Sonata | Beethoven]
DIALOGUE
#853c41

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Her voice. How he clung to the musical airiness of it. How it resonated within him with every spoken word. Zero nodded, no, no one would tear 'em apart. Before recalling, she couldn't see him yet. So he opened his eyes and gazed at her, then reached to take her hand in his. "No, but they can try." Zero lifted her hand and pressed his lips at the back of her hand.

Ren's stare bore holes into him, but Zero didn't care. She was all that mattered. Her happiness was his happiness. Her sorrow was also his. If anyone had an opinion well, that's their opinion. Fuck taboos, fuck the rules, he was done. Of course, shit was never as clear cut, there was always some other crazy popping up. The world was full of them. But he swore to himself, and to her that he'd be there. He'd protect her. Guide her. Just as she did for him. They were stronger together than apart.

When the plane started its sudden trembling and the light for safety belt flashed, Zero gripped Loretta's hand tighter. Why was the plane shaking? He tore his eyes from the flashing light to Ren who merely flipped the page of his mag.

"Turbulence?" Zero elbowed him, Ren just shrugged.

"It's normal, relax." Was all Ren cared to say.

"Like it's that easy."

"It is, you breathe, and stop spazzing."

Zero stomped his foot and Ren kicked. "Stop being such an ass."

"You're being childish." Ren moved his feet so Zero couldn't crush his toes.

Zero sighed and tried to ignore the shakiness around him. No one was panicking so that was a good sign. Maybe it was all in his head.



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Character Portrait: Doll Character Portrait: ZERO

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Slang, a pretty but expressionless or unintelligent woman. I.e. "She's nothing more than a doll."



{ Bird Set Free | Sia }


Garamound]Dɪᴀʟᴏɢᴜᴇ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✦ #66CDAA || Tʜᴏᴜɢʜᴛ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✧ #008B8B


It was warm there, beside him. The farther away they were, the colder it got. A shiver would crawl up her spine, freezing her, crawling up her body to make her a statue of ice. When he was with her, the ice thawed and melted, there was no more fear of the unknown of the past that she couldn't remember, there was only a bright future to look forward to. The light was blinding, it was frightening living in an unknown where neither before or after could really be told. With him there, beside her, diving into this light wasn't as scary. She could feel his hand lifting her's, her small, delicate palm in his large, rough hand. No doubt they were calloused and hardened from the past, but to Doll, they felt so incredibly soft.

His lips brushed against her skin, like butterfly kisses, his breath warm and slightly minty. It came as a surprise, to be honest. Doll wasn't sure why, but she had thought that Being's didn't need to do things like tooth brushing and doctors appointments. They were invincible, even to tooth decay. Her stomach flip flopped with anticipation until his lips left her skin and he spoke those words. People would try to separate them, but it didn't matter. He would always come to find her, she was safe from the monsters who stalked her in the night, the ones who crept in corners and didn't make a sound.

There was no need for spoken words, just sitting beside him was enough. The air returned to her lungs, the tension in her shoulders eased. She had no idea of how she was actually blinded, believing that she was simply a weak, pitiful human. Powerless in the face of the Beings that oppressed them. The plane bounced, a slight rocking that moved the plane the same way the wind whipped through the leaves of a tree, causing them to fall and swirl until they were nothing but a memory. She tensed, holding her breath. It was normal, Ren said, but Doll wasn't sure if she trusted him. He had said those things, hurtful words that pierced her heart. Perhaps Doll was wrong to think that the Beings would accept her, a measly human, among them. Grell, Zero, and the Doctor accepted her. Doll couldn't trust Ren though, he had an air about him, even if she couldn't see him, she could sense it.

There was something dark and dangerous, that made her shake the same way that turbulence shook the plane. Doll brushed her fingers over where she thought Zero's hand was. She felt the cold leather of the chair, then the warm touch of contact. "It's okay," Doll smiled reassuringly. "Ren probably knows a lot about planes, we should trust me." She felt a stab of guilt. She had wanted to be Ren's friend, but it would be better to remain cautious for now. The two brothers were fighting, bickering in the way that family did. Doll smiled, wondering if she had any siblings. They would probably be in a zoo somewhere, right? Or maybe pets in Being's households? She hoped that they were okay, wherever they were.

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Character Portrait: Doll Character Portrait: ZERO

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❝Sometimes, even family can become strangers.❞

[Moonlight Sonata | Beethoven]
DIALOGUE
#853c41

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He was basking in the sunlight that was Loretta's presence. It was something he realized only occurred when the two were in the same room, brilliant beyond compare especially when they touched. He always liked the feel of her small hands, how they fit in his as though she were a missing piece to make him whole. It was indescribable, the rush, the high, the pure bliss of such simple contact.

She spoke in reassurance, and he listened, sure, but he couldn't outright hold on to those words the way he held on to her hand. A plank that kept him from drowning. It'd been her hand he held back when they were at the mouth of the secret entrance back in the states. The only person he could rely on in the face of crippling fear. The one who caught him every time.

"I trust you."

Ren's eyes pierced him, perhaps more affected by the affirmation. They weren't humans, they didn't value things like sentiment or family. Yet that had been how they were raised. Mom was more human in her kind, warm and always caring actions than a distant father who was seldom around. They were something different, something between human and beast a fact Ren and Zero both lived by. But was it wrong for Zero to follow his gut on this when Loretta became more of a friend to him than the one who was family, at his side? Or perhaps they'd adopted the human concept of family because Mom had wanted them to blend in, be human, fake it. The rest came last.

For Zero he had no qualms being the good son, not only a mother to please, but a father to make proud. A brother to protect. He'd failed at that when Ren needed him most, and then they were parted. All that time they couldn't ever get back and from the start, things were shaky. As turbulent as the physical plane Zero was strapped up to his neck in. He'd managed to fill that void, with Loretta, just as he was trying to get used to this new life he'd been given. The old wounds, the loss, turned out not to be lost after all. Though he could shrug it off and put on a game face, it stung knowing the time lost didn't have to be.

Those were just truths he had to live with. A distant brother with cracks in his veneer, a girl who relied on him as a friend, a partner, someone who gave him strength. His hand gripped hers with a little more force, not enough to harm but enough to show he was here. Conviction stirred from deep in his chest with each pound of his heart. She gave him purpose, a resolve worth living by. And though shit wouldn't be easy, he had to give it everything he had. Or he'd be back to square one again—like hell would he allow that.

*


Hours passed, and they were in relative silence. Zero wraked in nerves, Ren in a silent contemplation. Grell and Doc were busy with making contacts and assuring the place they were headed to next was free of any unwanted trouble. Yet trouble always seemed to follow no matter precautionary measures. Still, Zero had hope that this new place would be it. The one they could settle in, focus on healing. On Loretta's recouperation. It was time he wanted to cherish because she was someone he wanted to cherish.

By the time the flight ended and they were shuffling down the metal steps to solid ground. Zero was a little more than relieved that they touched ground in one piece.

"Not like the plane was gonna crash, kid. We got an expert pilot." Grell rested his palm against Zero's head, ruffling the strands. He had a better outlook than Zero himself, but he managed a smile and nod. "

"I wasn't worried about the pilot," Zero cast their new scenery a thorough glance. So far, Doc was assisting Loretta along with a team of medical staffers on call inside. The plane itself was empty save for the workers that tended to it, most likely communing with the pilot. Ren was headed behind Doc, followed by their newest company the boy who rarely said much of anything the entire flight, Grell was hauling a duffle, he held one out for Zero to take.

"Stop looking so freaked, we're here, it's fine. Let lose."

Zero slung the strap over his shoulder, "You know I can't do that."

Grell lead the way, "You can if you try."

The last time he had, they were nearly goners. He wasn't about to drop his guard like that, ever again.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Doll Character Portrait: ZERO

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Slang, a pretty but expressionless or unintelligent woman. I.e. "She's nothing more than a doll."



{ Bird Set Free | Sia }


Garamound]Dɪᴀʟᴏɢᴜᴇ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✦ #66CDAA || Tʜᴏᴜɢʜᴛ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✧ #008B8B


One hand on his hand, the other on her heart. The way it thumped in her chest felt so loud that the human was sure most anyone could hear it. The heat coming from him, the way his eyes unfocused when he was thinking, it was captivating. Doll found herself blushing from having stared up at him, her eyes slightly starry as she looked at her lap, a gander at their intertwined fingers. Her free hand traveled up to her hair, twirling a lock of gold around her finger, occupying herself to keep from making some sort of embarrassing sound. Save for the odd conversation, the flight was mostly quiet. Sometimes Doll would drift off and awake with her head on Zero's shoulder, other times she watched out the window as they soared over the ocean, attempting to spot one of the large sea mammals she had read about in a book illustrating animals. Orcas were one she could recall, black and white like the famous panda. Another was blue whales, whose hearts were the size of a small school bus, whatever that was, but it sounded big.

When the plane landed, Doll felt her hand being squeezed just a bit. She could feel his pulse thrum against her skin, beating just as fast, if not more so, as her own. "It's so dark," Doll spoke, referring to the outside. She could see a city illuminated under harsh technicolor lights. "Is that where we're going?" The Doc shook his head, saying nothing, no doubt wanting to speak the location aloud. Supposedly they would be safe here, humans had a bit more freedom in this place called Japan, they could make small lives for themselves when allowed by their masters, start business, families, not have to worry about being carted away to a human zoo. "I'm gonna take off from here," Xavier said, grabbing his bag. He gave a slight bow, his British accent lilting a little, no doubt having practiced sounding American.

"Goodbye," Doll waved, wondering where he would go. "It's always so sad parting with friends," Doll said a bit sadly. Their hands broke away, she watched Zero leave. Doll looked down at her legs, the ones that no longer worked properly. If she could use them, she would have walked out right after Zero and Ren; instead, Doll had to wait. Every moment apart was heartache, it was slightly hard to breathe. Or perhaps that was from the difference in air pressure. It felt as though there were something in her ears, a sort of veil preventing her from hearing much. "It sounds like everything is underwater," Doll placed her hands over her ears, wondering if it would make things better. "Go like this," the Doc knelt in front of her, holding her nose. "Blow out through it," Doll followed the directions, her ears popping. "That's better," she smiled.

Her wheelchair was waiting for her off of the plane, sitting in it felt similar to being trapped in a cage. Why was it she was always falling behind him? Whenever Doll finally felt as though she had her feet on the ground, they were ripped out from underneath and Zero continued walking. Doll was holding him back, she realized. He could no doubt reach his full potential if it wasn't for her being so... useless. A weak human, in the end, that was all Doll was. "I'm sorry," she spoke quietly. "I want to keep up with you, I want to walk beside you and yet, I'm always holding you back."

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Character Portrait: Doll Character Portrait: ZERO

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❝Even in the brightest moments, there still lingers shadows of doubt.❞

[Moonlight Sonata | Beethoven]
DIALOGUE
#853c41

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A city where humans were free? It sounded more like a dream than a possibility. But in all those buildings and in the vehicles that sped, the streets below and to the far stretches of the mountainous lands, there were humans, some with their owners, some without. It was mind-boggling. If they were free here, why couldn't the same carry out in all the world? Or perhaps, much to his chagrin, their kind weren't so keen on change. They still fear the rise of humanity once more. It was ironic they assumed themselves the superior race, as if they were a nature all their own when in fact, they too possessed human qualities. Even if they were blind to it.

Those were which the only shreds of fact he clung to. And the girl he'd met who gave him more than he could ever compensate for. Thinking of her bought a smile to his lips and a warmth he was beginning to accustom to as time passed.

Loretta was back in a wheel chair. her bright eyes however seemed downcast, was she sick of the constant moving around? He was for certain. He caught up with Doc as he lead Loretta inside the building where they'd transfer to their newest home. Yeah, he wanted it to become as much, even if they were in a new place. It wasn't like he wasn't used to it. He'd always been in the move, him and Ren. They never had a "home" but a collection of places each holding a memory. It was about time they make this one be the one. However long it takes.

Xavier had grabbed his bag and said his goodbyes. So he was just gonna bail on them? Bastard. Without much thought, he latched a hand onto the kid's arm. "Idiot. You don't ask for help and then high tail it once the danger is over. I won't stop you from wherever you're going but, take this. Use it when you're in a ditch. We'll come for you." He palmed the boy a burner cell, their numbers already in the phone book and on speed dial. In other words, don't forget who your real friends are. Then Zero let go and returned to Loretta's side.

What did she mean by holding him back? Was he catching that right? Inside, Doc lead them toward an elevator where they all shuffled inside. Zero shook his head, she wasn't holding him back. More like pushing him forward. Ren had to be the one to put such a silly idea in her head. If he didn't shape up, Zero was gonna have to give him another "talk" just to set him straight.

Zero was done with the drama, the hate emanating from Ren, the kid never once gave Xavier or Loretta a glance and was too quiet. He returned his attention to Loretta, was she getting cold feet? He couldn't help worry about her more, her distress was always his. They were like a whole, he couldn't explain it but it gave him this sudden impulse to want to drive away her every sadness, every fear. And to know he was the cause of her down—it wrecked him.

"I've told you this before," He let his hand gently rest over her head, "you've given me strength. Don't underestimate yourself."

They reached the first floor, Doc wheeled her out airport entrance to the ramp, leading them to an awaiting stretch limo. After confirming their chauffeur's identity and giving him the coordinates, everyone packed in and they were headed toward their final destination.

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Character Portrait: Doll Character Portrait: ZERO

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Slang, a pretty but expressionless or unintelligent woman. I.e. "She's nothing more than a doll."



{ Bird Set Free | Sia }


Garamound]Dɪᴀʟᴏɢᴜᴇ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✦ #66CDAA || Tʜᴏᴜɢʜᴛ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✧ #008B8B


"Don't underestimate myself..." Doll repeated, holding onto his words. Xavier took off without a second word, had she held him back too? Or had he finally realized that he was free? Unlike her, who was now stuck to this chair thanks to the Madame. Doll didn't mind it so much though because in truth, she would never be free, not without Zero by her side. Doll would rather sustain another hundred years of being enslaved by the Being's if it meant she could remain here, in this moment, with him telling her that he drew strength from her. "I'm always afraid, even though you tell me not to be, that something will separate us again." It was painful not being by his side, how was it that such a relationship could have ever formed? No doubt Ren was looking down on them in disgust. Perhaps Doll should tell Zero in private what Ren had said to her? That he was disgusted by her, how weak and pitiful a human she was. It was as though Rin didn't realize that Doll truly was human, that they were not strong and unbreakable like Being's but rather, gentle and fragile creatures.

"I want to be strong like you one day," the feel of his hand on her head was peaceful, a gesture that made Doll feel relaxed. Walking slowly like this, she no longer felt as though she was being left behind, but now, Doll could keep right in step with him, er rather, in wheel. Doctor Atarashi took the handles of the wheelchair, taking her down the ramp so that Doll didn't go too fast and crash into someone or something. They made a steady descent to an awaiting car, something stretched and black that was unlike anything Doll had ever seen. Grell lifted her easily, as though she weighed nothing, and placed Doll inside. The interior was nice, shiny leather seats and it had a wall that lit up in different colors. Doll was so glad she could see once more, that bandages no longer stayed around her eyes and blinded her from the world she wanted to see.

"Where are we going?" No one spoke the name of the destination, as though they were afraid. Doll had to patiently lay in wait, sitting beside Zero, wondering if it was alright to touch his hand. It was funny how every human she had ever encountered had warned her against the Beings, that they were destructive and blood thirsty, that, that was how she ended up with no memories in the first place and it was true that there were some, but others were more human in unexpected ways. Doll saw it in the way that Doctor Atarashi truly cared for his adopted son, in the passion that Grell had for cooking, even if he could almost never eat what he made. She saw it in the way Ren glared with what was perhaps fake hatred at everything he saw and Zero, he was the most human of all. Doll had first seen this side of him on that very warm day, where Zero had strode over and ripped off the collar from around her neck. In that moment, Doll had known that something extraordinary was about to happen in her most painful life. Zero took that hurt and transformed it into happiness.

"I see shapes, they're big! Like mountains!" It was still winter here, in a place that snow dusted the ground. Early signs of spring had begun, closed up blossoms with light winter frost covering them, freezing them from trying to open too soon. "It's so strange watching things in the dark, like playing a guessing game." They had reached their final destination, another gated house that was more heavily guarded than the military base. Doll didn't understand why they went to all of this trouble, she was just a human after all. "I have one of these for everyone," a light switched on in the back of the car. Doctor Atarashi opened a silver metal box, revealing three pristine looking bracelets. "You are to each wear one at all times. Do you understand?" Doll nodded, reaching for one, she strapped it on her wrist, the bracelet tightening ever so slightly to fit her. "Is this it? Is this the house?" The Doc nodded, getting out of the car to begin giving orders of things Doll didn't understand. "I hope we can finally be happy here."

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Character Portrait: Doll Character Portrait: ZERO

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❝Where there is light
there is h o p e.❞


[Hozier - Arsonist's Lullaby]

DIALOGUE
#853c41


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She didn't know it, but among them she was powerful. A blessing and a curse. She was scared something might part them from each other and his hand reflexively pressed into her hair, holding her head like he could keep her in this moment. He let his hand drop after.

"I don't want you to worry about that, if anything happens I'll protect you."

It was her next comment that made him nearly freeze. Be strong, like him? He almost laughed but there was the sensation of razors in his throat and barbed wire bundled in his chest that wouldn't allow even the tiniest semblance of humor. No Loretta, you don't want his strength, that shit comes with a price. He shook his head, no, she might be there halfway. Did it mean one day she'd be burdened with the hunger? Conflicted with the restrictive diet and never enjoy the once plentiful foods available to her?

He pressed his hand into her hair, remembering the texture of it. The softness of her humanity.

"I like you just the way you are, you don't need to change."

Soon they were on their way toward the final destination. She'd asked where but no one could say. It'd be revealed eventually. Beside him she sat gazing out the window, her eyes wide with a sense of wonder he'd never have. That pure spec of brilliance that made her shine brighter the more he looked her way.

She made his days worth striving for and that was the best feeling. Turning his attention out to the other window he brushed his fingers against hers. She was always by his side. Her voice once again pulled him out his thoughts and he turned to see what had made her excited.

"I mentioned before about Japan and all its glorious mountains. Remember Miss Loretta? Wait till you see the hot springs and the Cherry Blossom festival, I'm sure they still celebrate it now."

Snow landed and stuck against the glass, it reminded him of times he used to go out at night and play in the snow. That was back at a time when he and Ren were closer and when mom was still around. When they were still family.

Across from them, Ren was staring out the window and Zero wondered if the snow brought back the same nostalgia. From then and now they've changed. And Ren was more so different than the smiling kid in his memory. The boy in front of him regarded the snow touched glass with little concern. His features revealed nothing, his eyes, distant, cold as the metallic hue they bore.

Was Zero truly as apathetic once? Uncaring for anything or anyone? A blank slate waiting for something to fill it? No, he'd been cold, but he'd also been full of something darker. That was a stain he carried with him and it had grown with each kill, each bloodshed.

When had it began to fade?

Was it that first day, when Doc said he had a surprise? When Doc brought home a girl who was so ready to break. Then it had only taken one glance and he was sucked in. One kind gesture and she had opened up to him and shown him the most precious thing in all his miserable existence. She became the embodiment of everything he could only dream of. The promise of friendship, of trust, of unbridled compassion. She woke something in him that shouldn't have existed—or maybe it had all along and she just showed him.

It was the same thing his parents were searching for and it took one girl to show him that it wasn't something concrete, it wasn't something science could ever create.

His fingers wrapped her hand, holding it. She is the girl he wanted to protect. He nodded at her words, a game of guessing the shadows? She always had a clever way of turning the mundane into something fun.

Doc handed them each a mercury colored bracelet they were to wear at all times. Zero snapped it over his wrist, he agreed, this was gonna be home, their home.

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Character Portrait: Doll Character Portrait: ZERO

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Slang, a pretty but expressionless or unintelligent woman. I.e. "She's nothing more than a doll."



{ Bird Set Free | Sia }


Garamound]Dɪᴀʟᴏɢᴜᴇ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✦ #66CDAA || Tʜᴏᴜɢʜᴛ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✧ #008B8B


Home was a strange word, a warm word. One that wrapped around her and sent comfort through her body. Despite this kind sensation, she felt eclipsed by a sudden fear; a fear that this would all be ripped away from them once more. "Home... it sounds kind." Personifying a house was a strange thing, but Doll thought those words suited each other. "I hope this one will really be our home," more than a safe house for a day or week, more than a place to recover before being transferred to another zoo. Home was something that became cozy, that you felt safe enough to let your guard down inside of. It was going to be strange getting acquainted with something so foreign. Yet, her lips were painted with a smile, the same color as freshly bloomed cherry blossoms, a sea of spring in the middle of winter.

Trees were painted like skeletons, their ghoulish frames outlined in ghostly hues of silence around the house that beckoned to them through the large, guarded gates that opened so easily for them and shut with a heavy slam. Her chair navigated easily through the snow, the pink and purple standing out among the white. Aside from the house, the street was quiet, not another abode to be seen. Their new residence was squat, a traditional type with a slanted roof, the entire thing arranged in a courtyard with a small pond of koi fish in the middle. The entire home was enchanting, something Doll had never seen before outside of some of the books that had rested on the mantle by her bedside in the hospital. She couldn't wait to show Zero how far she had come, working her way up to a second grade level of reading.

It was illegal for humans to learn to read and write and yet here, in this place called Japan, humans could own business and have real lives. Or at least, that's what Doll had been told. Whether it was true or another fact of propaganda had yet to be found out. The house was a step up, her chair was lifted, Doll kneeling down to remove her shoes as requested. There were slippers for feet, keeping them warm even in winter. Inside was a strange table with a cloth surrounding it, pillows placed on the floor for them to sit. Doll realized that in this place, it would be difficult for her to navigate with her wheelchair. Perhaps it had been purposeful, the Beings not wanting her to gain a sense of independence. Zero was different though, he encouraged Doll's sense of responsibility, imploring her to go off on her own and discover the world around her.

She spun the bracelet around her wrist, no doubt it would become a nervous habit like when she had fiddled with her collar when there was a pause in conversation. This was nothing like it and yet, entirely too similar. A bracelet made to keep track of her, to ensure that she was always accounted for in the list of belongings. A collar made to keep her from leaving, to ensure that she stayed in line. They weren't so different after all. It served her right, perhaps, to have this binding her to this place; after all, Doll seemed to have a track record for disappearing. "Dinner is ready," there were steaming plates of food placed on the table with the odd cloth around it, Doll's mouth salivating at the smell. It was another new experience, new places meant new cultures and with cultures came food.

"Out here, we can be anything we want," Doll suddenly decided. She managed to maneuver herself out of the wheelchair and onto one of the pillows without incident. There were still bandages on her wrists, by now the pain having faded to nothing but a bad memory. She pat the pillow beside her, smiling up at the Being that captivated her so. "Come sit with me," she said warmly, her shoulder stinging with a memory that didn't belong. Doll placed the heel of one hand against an eye, closing both for a moment to stop the swirling of the room that rocked like a ship in the stormy seas.

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Character Portrait: Doll Character Portrait: ZERO

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❝We're just shells without souls,
trying to find something
to fill the void.❞




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"Home is where you make it." Zero said. Once, he'd asked Mother about what home really meant since they were always moving. Those had been her words, plain and simple. His gaze followed Loretta's, sweeping up toward the snow-covered trees. Spring was near like a whispered prayer, the quiet life waiting to bloom with the change of the seasons. Not long now.
The gates weren't like others in former dwellings. Equipped with an extra measure of security the electrical impulse hummed. Just at the edges of his hearing. Doc logged into the security system. The voltage lowered. The gates received them with open arms and pulled shut as soon as they stepped through the threshold.
Ren flinched at the echo of the slam, did it invoke bad memories? Zero caught the darkening of his features, the slight tension around his eyes. His attention registered the vacant area, taking note of the exits and roads. Old habits never die. It was the same for Zero, they lived on their toes.
They approached a brick, Colonial built sturdy house. With a sloping roof, elegant curb appeal complete with a central koi pond. Doc held an appreciation for marine life, this was the second listing to have it. A story-book, pleasant and inviting place. Had it been a deliberate choice or one made without planning? The focus set on security over actual comfort for those assigned to it. Loretta mainly. There wasn't any ramp set for her, the place was lacking in some aspects. But what could they do when all this had been rushed? Might not even be their last, which meant Zero would learn the inner layouts and make plans of escape should they need it.
At the door and beyond, there was a sectioned-off part of the foyer. They exchanged their shoes for indoor slippers. From there, they moved to the dining room. A traditional low table had been set up. Arranged with a spring-themed decor and comfy floor cushions around it. Upon closer inspection, he noted the low table was actually a pop-up that sinks back onto the floor. That'd make it easier to move around and opened up the space to be more than it seemed. Clever. There wasn't much room for the wheelchair. They'd manage a work around.
She toyed the bracelet that wrapped her slender bandaged wrist. A pacifying gesture. Something must have made her anxious.
It was then he considered the lightweight shackling his wrist. He had to tackle the negative thought staining its brilliance. It's meant to keep them safe, like a cell with a tracker. It had been an utter nightmare when they'd lost Loretta's location. They had to come up with another method to track her. Though with the way technology was, there's no guarantee this would work. Someone could remove the device and destroy it.
"Dinner is ready." A lady with fair hair tucked under a bandanna walked in. Dishes in hand she set them on the table. She was in casual clothes sporting a white apron. Human. A silver chain shimmered from around her neck, a red stone dangled. Was she Grell's assistant? Is the stone a tracker?
Soon enough, the table brimmed with bowls and plates of Asian cuisine. None of the scents welcomed his appetite.
Loretta's words pulled his attention back.
Be anything they wanted.
If that were true, Zero would've been more human than darkling. Ren wouldn't be here (let's be honest, he was ready to bolt). Loretta would be anywhere else but tethered to doctors and endless medical complications. And monsters like himself.
She approached the cushion, moving without help. When her eyes met him he blinked and recovered and managed a smile. She patted the empty cushion at her side.
"If you wish."
He was about to lower himself but hesitated. The jump of her pulse shot his nerves on end. What was wrong? Did her head hurt?
Zero reached to grasp her shoulder. "Miss Loretta are you—" His hand trembled. Wavering between his desire to help her and his suppressed need. Her scent came alive and weaved around him. Fangs arched pushing against his will and he held his arm down, pinning it to his side. His stomach roared, he was half inclined to lean down and bite. Grinding his teeth he shook his head and concentrated more on her, less her scent. Now wasn't the time for this. He took a step back and turned to the man in the white coat. Latching his hand onto the other's arm, squeezing tight.
"Help her, now." Releasing Doc, Zero narrowly escaped unseen into the corridor. When a pair of hands gripped him, supporting his weight.
"Keep moving." Ren pushed him forward, leading him into another room that smelled of Lysol and plum blossoms. No one spoke as the two siblings entered and shut themselves inside. Zero stumbled ahead, abandoning his shirt, he turned on the water, drenching himself cold.
Ren sat on the cover of the toilet, his gaze taking the immaculate towels. The presentation of egg shell blue and ivory bathrobes hanging on the hooks behind the door. The orchids in a glass mini vase on the bamboo shelf above the hotel themed racks of folded towels for guests?
"You're addicted," the words lashed out without any filter, "and losing control. You could have attacked her."
Zero let his head bend so that the spray hit the back of his neck. Tension had him in a bind.
"She's not a drug."
"Can you tolerate any blood that isn't hers?"
"Right now, I can't tolerate you."
"Answer the question."
Zero closed his eyes. He wouldn't think about it. But the blood Doc had been feeding him was hers. The first that ever satiated him when others failed. They all needed human flesh to survive. Any substitute wasn't enough. For Zero, just her blood kept his demons at bay. He could live with that. Why did Ren have to twist everything? Make him feel like he was doing something wrong? Was he?
"You might end up killing her if you resort to favoring her blood." Ren continued on as though Zero's silence had somehow confirmed whatever he was suspecting. "And this 'love' you hold for her is just a front for your addiction. Most addicts claim to love getting their hits justifying their actions."
"How do you deal?" Zero rolled his shoulders. Focused on the chill caressing his flesh chasing away the heat of his denial. It was the first three months of his fast. All over again—but then had been a mild tickle of hunger, he could back-burner it. This time, his body ached for her blood. Ached all over and drove his senses into a frenzy.
"I take tabs for it, not the best in quality taste but it works. One of father's experiments you would have been privy to." Ren must have brandished said object, he shook it and tablets rattled. "Had you checked his lab."
"I almost did."
"Almost. Such a sad word."
"It was too cramped to reach."
"That's a human's perception. We aren't subject to the mortal psyche nor have the need for phobias. You've spent too much ti—"
Zero shot Ren a look that cut him off. "Keep talking, I'll enjoy ripping out your tongue and wrapping it around your throat."
"Impossible." Ren's features lost the concern it once held if any. "Like I said, you're not doing yourself any favors and I won't be around to pick up the pieces when you break."
"Ren!"
The boy's eyes narrowed, mirroring Zero's. He was glaring at a younger heartless version of himself. The part of him that existed. The fragment that remained. But he wasn't a machine anymore. He wasn't as broken. So he held on to the other part of him that feels, bleeds, suffers. For her. For himself. He shivered in the tight control over shards that wanted to flare out. Pierce the reflection that was too real, too raw.
Ren didn't know it. But he'd already shattered a long time ago. He'd been working on picking up the pieces and putting himself back for years. Doc had tried to help, he'd set up the frame, near completed. Zero had to do the rest. It took the gentleness of a warm girl that pushed him to finish. Shit wasn't perfect and he never expected it to be. Yet, when assholes like Ren came along trying to mold him. Define him. He just snapped.
Ren said, "You remember when dad would go out, left us alone with mom?"
Zero didn't respond.
"He always told me to watch you, keep you grounded."
"I'm not a kite. I won't fly away."
Ren blinked, his brows pulled in. "Then what do you call this?" He gestured their surroundings.
Zero shook his head, averting his gaze. "You don't have to be here."
"You say that with little conviction. I'm not here to mess around." Ren stood and came forward. Switching off the shower. Latching his hand at Zero's arm raising it. Then snatched the bracelet and crushed it.
"The hell are you doing, we need tha—why aren't you wearing one?" Was Ren insane? Didn't he hear what Doc had said?
Ren's expression darkened. "You're being tagged. If Doc could find you with this, so can everyone else. We've got targets at our back."
"Ren, what did you do?"
"Overalls, Ring Master, the corrupt dark ones, the basement. I went back. Destroyed the place they'd used as the grand arena. Tracked the ines that fled,"
"it won't stop just because I knocked over one base. There are many across the world. It'll be fun knocking down each one. See, we aren't so different."
Zero tensed at the imagery.
Ren nodded with a grim smile.
"I found out when you were released and a little after taken in by a renowned doctor. His work with Doll—"
"Miss Loretta."
"Yeah, he wasn't the only one testing her genetic markup. So was father. He left us his research but I can't crack it. I need you on your feet. It's the only way we can cut 'em down."
Zero twisted his arm free and pressed against the wall. "I'm not leaving her side, if that's what this is about, I won't."
Ren struck the wall at Zero's head, the crack of tiles rained dust over his shoulder. "You're such a soft-hearted idiot. Blind too. You think that if you turn your back the problem will solve itself? You want to put her in danger by staying here?"
"I'm protecting her."
"Listen, what happened to our parents wasn't accidental. We don't have time to kill here and you can't promise that. You can't keep watch over her every second of the day. It didn't work in Sabrie, it won't work now. Not until we solve the case Father left us and ice the rest of those bastards. We have to." He pushed off the wall, flexed his fingers and cast a glare at the door. "Grell, you're not fooling anyone. I can detect your signals."
The house chef unlocked, key in hand, he regarded them with a look of concern and something else Zero couldn't make out.
"Dr Atarashi is taking care of Miss Loretta, but he's also requesting Zero at his office. We all have much to discuss, this is a serious matter."
That was an understatement of the century.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Doll Character Portrait: ZERO

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Slang, a pretty but expressionless or unintelligent woman. I.e. "She's nothing more than a doll."



{ Bird Set Free | Sia }


Garamound]Dɪᴀʟᴏɢᴜᴇ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✦ #66CDAA || Tʜᴏᴜɢʜᴛ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✧ #008B8B


Zero fled the room with his brother, another argument no doubt. In the meantime her head had stopped spinning, perhaps it had just been her imagination that the floor was rocking side to side like a boat crashing in the waves. Yes, a delusion, she had hit her head rather hard the other day. To be honest, most days Doll was surprised that she was still alive. Perhaps she simply needed to eat something to make the emptiness go away? Doll took a bite, Grell's food as amazing and tasty as ever, much better than the hospital food or that period when she had to have food delivered via a tube through her nose. She could hear their shouts from another room, muffled slightly only by the sound of the shower and then a large crash. Doll attempted to ignore them, she tried to continue smiling, a shadow catching her eye. Doll looked up, the shadow gone. What was that? She wondered. The girl who thought herself to be human attempted to rise and follow, only to remember how useless her legs were.

The crutches, if she could reach them, she could have some semblance of independence once more. They weren't here though, no doubt being brought to her room along with the braces that would teach Doll to walk again. She was lucky it hadn't been worse, she was lucky to be alive after the injuries she had sustained, with the flow of oxygen cut off to her brain for so long. Doll was lucky in many ways, but the most prominent being Zero. Her guardian, her protector, just thinking of him made her stomach flutter with a thousand butterflies and her cheek tinged pink the same way a school girl's would upon drifting off in class. What was this feeling that pestered her insides? Her breath caught in her throat upon recalling that breathtaking moment of glass and shattered things, of his body pressed against her's, his eyes full of warmth that made her heart flutter.

"What's wrong?" Her thoughts snapped back to reality, Doll quickly growing flustered. "N-nothing!" She waved her hands in front of her, cheeks turning as red as fresh fall apples. "I think I just ate something spicy," her lies were terrible, it was so easy to see through them. The Doc smiled and nodded, saying nothing else. Already Doctor Atarashi had come to her side to check up on her, to make the dizziness go away. "Thank you," she gave a small smile, clearly grateful for all that he had done for her. "Thank you for saving me all of those times," she looked out the window, the snow continued to fall. "You say that as though you're going somewhere," Doll shook her head, she had no intention to leave, it wasn't as though she could either. Broken was not unfixable though, Doll would pull through, just as she had those other times.

"There, that should do it." Perhaps it would make the odd visions go away too? "The brain is a very fragile thing, one little event can upset the entire balance." Doctor Atarshi stood and Doll wondered what that upset was. "Will Zero be alright? He seemed out of sorts," if the Doc had noticed, he mentioned nothing of it. "Zero just has to adjust is all, he never did like change." This was a good change, a new change of pace. A house in the middle of nowhere, an electrified gate surrounding them, little silver bracelets to keep track of where they were. Her smile faltered, no, this was not a home, this was a prison. While it was certainly nicer than any zoo, it was just another cage she was locked inside of. The realization hit Doll hard, making it difficult to breathe.

Four walls trapping her inside, a luxurious home that was nothing more than a dollhouse. She really was a doll wasn't she? A lowly human undeserving of a name, carried from place to place, house to house, only seen as valuable so long as she could keep them entertained. No, Zero, he, he was her protector, it wasn't like that, it wasn't a normal being to human relationship. He will be your undoing. Doll shivered, suddenly feeling as cold as ice. "No, you're wrong," she whispered, her teeth chattering. "I-I love him," she was a girl made of ice and snow, as fragile as a snowflake, so easy to break.

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Character Portrait: Doll Character Portrait: ZERO

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❝When we're together like this,
we can never panic, even if we get lost.❞




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Zero had once lived in the frost, becoming just as numb and chilling too. At some point he’d forgotten what pain felt like. Or that joy existed within him. Until the winter had shifted and there was a snatch of sun. But that sun’s rays wouldn’t last would it? Every day they lived, was he truly putting her at risk by staying at her side? Was she more endangered around him than without? He sighed as he trudged along a too tense Ren and a concerned Grell who kept throwing Zero wary glances.
He shivered in his dry clothes. Simple white oxford shirt, dark pants. They were new. Something Doc must have packed up when they ran out of time to gather old things. The things that’d been his, those he’d miss. No matter how strong, how advanced, how invincible they appeared to be, time was always a million steps ahead. Always out of reach.
”Do you think she'll understand?” One thing was certain, she'd be better off without a monster craving her blood. Removing himself from her so that she could finally be free, he’d do that. He'd step back. So she could truly grow and become whatever she wanted. Even if that meant he couldn’t be at her side. His heart lurched at the sharp pain digging through. But if that was a truth he kept running from, maybe it was about time he faced it.
But if he had to be honest with himself, he didn’t want to exist in a world where she wasn’t in it.
Instead of answering, Ren tsked, ”Stop looking so miserable. It’s an eyesore.” Followed by a sharp elbow at his rib so he'd pay attention whilst they entered Doc’s office.
Zero nodded and smothered the agony as best as he could. Though it did little to lesson the frost that settled in his chest. He hadn’t said good bye, yet in accepting what he had to do, it felt like it. There was no turning back. Not anymore. Protect her. Even if he had to keep his distance. He gripped his hands into fists and stood near Doc's desk. There were paintings on the wall, one in particular of a forest. An image looking up from the forest ground, it gave him a sense of being in the midst of eternal greenery. His gaze locked on the shades of emeralds among the shaken leaves. What dark secrets whispered in their branches.The image evoked a calm he wished he could feel. All he had left was a hollowness and hurt. He wanted to close his eyes, he was tempted to sit in one of the comfy looking chairs.
Ren as usual surveyed their newest surroundings, his expression none too pleased. His eyes steel and calculating perhaps their next step.
Grell shut the door and crossed his arms, his features heavy with a million emotions passing through and Zero wondered how long he’d been around humans to adopt their habits, learn their tastes, be so humbled and open. He wondered if Grell had a family besides Madame, or ever wanted one of his own. Or were they living in a world that wouldn’t allow it? Maybe they were. Just look at what's happened to them. They had none left but memories. Ren was back, but he had a darkness in him. This was supposed to be a brand new start. In a place no one knew who they were. Yet, Zero had the lingering suspicion that the sparkling city with the happy people, the one he looked up to was nothing more than a pipe-dream.
He was a darkling. According to others a flawed one. Broken. Unworthy. Even so he'd fight for a better tomorrow. Team humanity. He'd do this not because Ren had asked him too, but because he wanted to preserve what remained. If there existed dark ones like himself, those that gave a damn about people then he wasn't alone. If it could help put a cap on the bastards tearing everything apart then he’d wholeheartedly drive forward and lead the fight. Set the world right again or as close to it as possible. But would Ren agree to this or was he working on another agenda? As soon as Doc came in, they'd lay down all their cards.

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Character Portrait: Doll Character Portrait: ZERO

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Slang, a pretty but expressionless or unintelligent woman. I.e. "She's nothing more than a doll."



{ Bird Set Free | Sia }


Garamound]Dɪᴀʟᴏɢᴜᴇ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✦ #66CDAA || Tʜᴏᴜɢʜᴛ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✧ #008B8B


There was no such thing as loneliness when a boy of warmth and light was just around the corner. Doll hoisted herself back into her wheelchair from the floor with ease, she was growing used to having to do transfer herself with her arms. She went to check on him, the light in the darkness, but the walls swirled and it felt as though darkness was consuming her. What was happening? Doll broke free of the bad thoughts, pushing herself into the hallway. He wasn't there, in the room where the shower was no longer running, where the tile was crumpled to bits on the ground. "Zero?" Doll squeaked, breath caught in her throat. It was alright, if he wasn't here, then surely he would be in his room. Doll headed in that direction, ever the optimist, knowing that he wouldn't just disappear. She stopped the wheels abruptly in their tracks, finding something on the ground. A silver bracelet, just like the one she wore; only this one was cracked and broken, wires poking out of the neat chrome exterior.

Her heart sank further. Surely this was just Ren going off on another tyrant, being the control freak that he was. Her stomach twisted in knots thinking about it, all of those accusations that floated over her head. Weak, spineless, human. She really was holding him back, wasn't she? Doll shook her head, clutching the bracelet against her chest. No, she couldn't go down the path of dark thoughts. She followed the light, wandering the halls on the wheels that felt more like a prison than a blessing. Until she could use her legs, these wheels would allow her to be the best that she could. Until then, until then... then what would happen? Every time she healed, another injury came along. What would it be next? Her arms? Her mind? Some days Doll already felt far too fragmented to be put back together.

But he, he was the glue. Being around Zero made sense in her mind, the light in the darkness, the glue that held her together, the sense in the puddle of mindless thoughts that tried to drown her in grief and despair. She could be happy because beside her was Zero, her mentor, her protector, her lover. Her cheeks flushed at the thought, a squeak emitting from her lips. "Is that really how you feel Doll?" She whispered, wondering if he saw her in the same light. Or perhaps she was just another toy for him to break? A terrible pain lurched through her head. Doll pressed her fingers against her temples, figuring it was from the medicine. It was late, she figured, the light of the sun having gone dim hours before, consumed by the moon and stars.

The halls were empty, no Ren and Zero, no Grell or Doctor Atarashi. Doll felt alone, a shudder passing through her. She headed to her room, figuring that she could at least ready herself for bed, prepare to read a book and pretend that the words didn't go over her head as her mind flitted to other places. She reached a door marked with an L. "L-Lo-Lore-Loretta," Doll sounded out, seeing that it was written in another language right beneath it. She perked up, glad that she could now read her own name. Inside was a room unlike any of the others. It was neat and modern, with a table in the center and a bed underneath a window that was locked tight. There was a bookshelf lined with children's books and a place to stow the wheelchair and crutches when not in use. She felt spoiled, stepping into this space, knowing that it was her's. There was no stuffed unicorn to greet her today, he had been lost in the battle in the hospital.

Instead there was something else, a different animal with a black and white stripped tail, looking as though he were wearing a black mask. "Raccoon!" Doll remembered, knowing that Zero would be proud of her for recalling the name. She looked towards the door, expecting him to appear with ghostly footsteps no one could hear, as he always did. The doorway was disappointingly empty.

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Character Portrait: Doll Character Portrait: ZERO

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❝The questions become smoke with empty answers.❞







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In the office, Doc settled behind the desk, his gaze dividing from Zero to Ren. Features unusually tense, as though he suspected trouble.
“You’re going to make things difficult for me, aren’t you?” This was directed at them both. The sizzle of irritation burning just under the calm surface.
Ren scoffed. “We’re only here to inform you, we’re leaving on the next flight available.”
Zero stared at him. What? So soon? But he—
“Is that right?” Doc’s eyes narrowed on Ren. “And where are you planning to go, better question, for what purpose?”
“It’s of no consequence to you, Doctor.” Ren kept it cool, entirely unfazed by the crackle of tension rising in the atmosphere. He almost appeared smug, or perhaps he’d garnered a distaste to their kind just as Zero had.
“In case you weren’t aware, he is my son, so naturally it’ll concern me, Ren.”
Zero slammed his fist over the study, making the objects resting over its surface shake. “You may have adopted me, but I don’t remember becoming your son.”
Doc met his regard with sharp eyes. “If I had true emotions, I might’ve actually taken that to offence.”
Ren gripped at Zero’s arm before latching into his hand. Holding tight. It was then Zero stepped back and took a breath. He had to match Ren’s temperature and re-center himself.
”They want to look into the infamous Qizakari case.” Grell said, taking a seat in those leather chairs. “They’re attempting to flush out the filth of the world by storm.”
Doc nodded, “Aleron’s research was banned, it got him killed so I hear.” Then his gaze landed on Ren. “You’ve been snooping and discovered a new lead.”
Ren’s features tensed. He gripped Zero’s hand. “It’s the family business, so butt out.”
“Why? We were colleagues. It’s no secret we held mutual fascination and awe in our respective fields.”
“Is that why you were using Miss Loretta? Testing her as a variant, using her without her consent?” Zero gripped at Ren’s hand, it felt similar to holding onto a hot poker.
“Humans aren’t given the option of consent—“
“Father only worked with volunteers, he never forced anyone to become test subjects.”
“How sure are you of this?”
“Mother.” Both boys said in unison. She’d never allow it.
Doc cut his eyes to the many portraits hanging on the walls, in search of answers or inspiration. “When are you planning to return?”
Zero stared at Ren, but the boy gave no definitive reply. His heart sank. What if this mission of theirs took months, years? He couldn’t stand the uncertainty.
“Zero, you’re aware of how this will affect her.” Doc’s voice cut him back to reality and Zero grit his teeth. It’d hurt her, but it was better this way. She’d be alright without him. “I have to see her.” One last time. He released Ren’s hand, the biting frost numbed at his fingertips. He was used to that by now.
Ren nodded, he’d be waiting.
Zero left them to discuss. Ren wasn’t being entirely honest, there was more to this than what he let on.
Leaning against the wall for support he attempted to steady himself. The room refused to keep still and each step threatened to challenge his equilibrium. But he’d push forward. Like always. The burner cell in his pocket buzzed but he didn’t bother answering it. Instead, he continued onward. Soon enough he found Loretta already in her new room.
He hesitated at the door. It gave him a strange feeling like he was intruding on her or something. She was holding a new plush toy, already she seemed happy.
“Miss Loretta.” He said on a breath and just like that, his strength faltered and he had to grip the door jamb to keep him steady. What was this scent? It smelled… intoxicating. It came from inside the room and he moved as though in a trance until he was standing before her. His heart raced ahead of him and his limbs warmed with the burst of adrenaline pouring through his veins. Miss Loretta. It's from her.
Like a spell it threaded through him, weaving into his bones and he was lost to it. He filled his hands with her face, the heat of her cheeks, the pulse of her life caressing his senses. Relief and familiarity hit him in feathery waves.
He couldn’t leave her. He never wanted to leave her.
Before he even realized what he’d done, he leaned in and licked the side of her neck. Then sunk his fangs into her flesh. Blood flowed strong and true, casting the ice in a fire that sent a strangely pleasant thrill along his spine and shockingly, he eased into it. His body unwilling to move, his hands gripped at her clothes, holding her against him in a desperate attempt to keep her. Just hold her. For as long as possible.
With care he unhinged his fangs from her skin but refused to let go. She was his salvation. His true center.
“All I ever wanted was you.” He whispered and held her small face in his hands, feel her skin beneath him. His vision blurred, his eyes stung, probably changed from his heightened state and he didn’t care. He kissed her lips, tasting her as if for the first time. He could barely breathe, it didn’t matter. Parting from her he caressed her hair, memorizing her touch into his soul if ever he had one.

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Character Portrait: Doll Character Portrait: ZERO

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Slang, a pretty but expressionless or unintelligent woman. I.e. "She's nothing more than a doll."



{ Bird Set Free | Sia }


Garamound]Dɪᴀʟᴏɢᴜᴇ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✦ #66CDAA || Tʜᴏᴜɢʜᴛ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✧ #008B8B


Doll lifted the stuffed animal gleefully and went over to the bookshelf to look for a book of animals. She found one on the top shelf and lifted herself up, pulling the book down with some difficulty. The human flipped through the pages, the paper crisp against her fingers, the book smelling new. She went through it slowly, memorizing the animals on each page, running her fingers over the pictures of texture and color. "There, raccoon!" Doll smiled up in success, she closed the book and placed it on the nightstand, the door opening. "Oh Zero!" Doll jumped, her smile returning. "You surprised me, I was looking for you, I was worried because you seemed so out of sorts and-" she stopped as he suddenly darted forward. Doll's eyes widened, was something wrong? He seemed so worried, a crazed expression written on his face. "Zero?"

He was holding her then, cupping her chin in his fingertips, her heart jumping into her throat. "Zero, is everything ok-" she was cut off once more as his fangs pierced her neck. Doll gasped, stiffened, reminding herself that it was okay, that it was just Zero. This was a human's duty, anyhow, to be the blood bag for a Being, so why should she be any different? Perhaps Doll was a bit disappointed, although she should have known better. Of course she was no different, she wasn't special, she was a fool to think that she could be anymore, to break out of the chains that bound all of humanity in the face of its greatest adversary. Doll managed to relax, she mustered a smile, she had told Zero that this was okay and she meant it, Doll wasn't one to lie after all, her fictions could most always be easily seen through.

Their limbs were entangled, the wheelchair shoved away somewhere. When his mouth left her neck two small markings were left behind, almost indistinguishable from the other markings around that area. "Zero, are you alright?" She asked, her voice hardly above a whisper. His voice was so sweet it was intoxicating, "I don't want to leave this moment." Doll admitted as his lips brushed her's, bringing her in. She fit perfectly against the curve of his body, as though she belonged there. There was a moments hesitance as their lips parted, Doll gasping for air, Zero seeming as though he were memorizing this moment. There was something terribly off, something Doll didn't understand. Did he see the dancing shadows s well? "I found your bracelet crushed in the hallway, I was worried you left." She ran a hand through his hair, as white and fluffy as the freshly driven snow.

She sighed in relief, she had been worrying for nothing after all. Zero wouldn't just leave her, it was silly to think. Then again, Doll wasn't know what to think anymore, lately her head felt clouded, perhaps it was from all of the words she had been reading in books. Maybe that's why they made them illegal to humans, books were as addicting as cookies. Perhaps it was curiosity they had really banned, but without curiosity the first trains wouldn't have been made, curiosity drove the humans and beings and first kisses. "Is everything alright? Was Ren being bothersome again?"

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❝There is something he's left behind.❞







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"When is he not?" Zero picked her up and settled her on the bed, holding her hands he looked her directly in the eyes. This wasn't going to be easy for either of them. It definitely wasn't for him. But he couldn't be selfish, not with the girl who meant the world to him.
"I know I made a promise, but right now I can't keep it." The lingering markings on her skin, she'd been bitten countless times. If only he could take that pain from her. "There are threats that must be dealt with. It's something you shouldn't be dragged into." Because if he didn't fight, things wouldn't change, running wouldn't fix a damn thing.
His fingertips brushed the tender skin at her neck. He grimaced in his inability to resist biting her. "You won't have to worry about this anymore either. You'll be free." Finally, she'd have the life she wanted, the one she deserved. Where she could wake up every morning without feeling like a lesser human. She'd learn to keep her chin up, be proud of herself, move along. All he wanted was for her to live and smile from the heart. Always.

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Slang, a pretty but expressionless or unintelligent woman. I.e. "She's nothing more than a doll."



{ Bird Set Free | Sia }


Garamound]Dɪᴀʟᴏɢᴜᴇ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✦ #66CDAA || Tʜᴏᴜɢʜᴛ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✧ #008B8B


"No!" Doll suddenly cried out, holding onto him. "You-you can't go," Doll shook her head, burying her face in his chest. He was her everything, if he left, then what was she? An empty vessel, a shell, a human to be pushed around by the Being's in the world. "Please, don't leave me." Doll would have begged to have gone with him, but that much was an impossibility. She couldn't keep up with him in his bustling world and her useless legs. She couldn't stand on her own two feet, much less walk behind him, follow next to him. "I am free, you, you freed me." That day she had arrived and he had thrown off the collar, that was the day she had known he was extraordinary. He had captivated her, become her world; perhaps that was exactly what was supposed to happen, she being a human and he, in all technicality, being her owner. "If you go..." her voice shook, "If you go, I'll never be happy." It was the truth after all.

"The only time I feel alive, is here, with you."

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❝Life, it sings in your blood.❞







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Zero was left utterly shocked. He hadn't expected her to react like this. Then again what was he expecting? The girl he adored clung to his shirt, buried her face into his chest and he could do no more but hold her. The best thing she could do was forget she ever met him. Yet he wouldn't dare tamper with her memories—even if he could. A line he'd never cross. With tenderness he stroked her hair, smoothing out the unruly waves of gold. Was he truly leaving her, or did it just seem that way?
"Miss Loretta I can't promise you'll be safe if I stay. You'll become targeted, not just you but everyone else too." If he could make it clear she'd realize the actual danger. "I want to set you free from the war. It's not going to stop until something is done. And I..." He couldn't continue. The words wouldn't form, his head swirled caught in a fog of endless grey and he closed his eyes.
Ren's presence stabbed into him. An urgency to hurry and now.
Zero's senses sharpened in irritation but just as quickly smothered under the spell that was her. She had a way of spurring his thoughts and sending it all scattering white sheets where he was left scrambling to find his train of thought. And he just let them fall. Like snow landing all around him, brushing his skin in absent reminders.
Say goodbye. Walk away. She'll be fine.
Lies. All lies.
All he's desired contained in one person. If he stayed she'd be at risk. If he left, she'd still be at risk. What guarantee did he have to go on? Doc didn't have a track record for keeping her safe. Well, neither did Zero. She'd gotten abducted right under his nose. Another possibility which he hadn't put on the front lines till now: What if Ren was scheming something? This wouldn't be the first offence. Shit. But why would Ren act so convincing? So intent on returning home and looking through Father's work for no purpose? It couldn't be that simple. It was a naive thought. Then what would happen after they cracked Father's work? Why was Zero needed for that? Couldn't Ren just continue this on his own? No, he'd returned to take Zero away, use him for that purpose.
He tasted it in her blood, the feelings she bore. One of the many components that made her irresistible, even now he couldn't pull away from her because she had that affect on him. A powerful one. He didn't know what to do, keep moving or stay? Life or death? Black or white or grey?
Live, Loretta. Live always.
"I want you to come with me." It was crazy, probably wrong and Ren would never agree to it. But leaving her wasn't an option.

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Slang, a pretty but expressionless or unintelligent woman. I.e. "She's nothing more than a doll."



{ Bird Set Free | Sia }


Garamound]Dɪᴀʟᴏɢᴜᴇ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✦ #66CDAA || Tʜᴏᴜɢʜᴛ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✧ #008B8B


She couldn't breathe, but she didn't dare move, afraid that if she broke this precious moment he would walk away and never return. Doll clung to him, breathed in his scent that was slightly musky and damp from the impromptu shower Ren had given him. "I wasn't safe from the moment I woke up, what would make you leaving any different?" Being born a human, your life was guaranteed to be unsafe. Bouncing from family to family as a pet, going to the zoo, losing her memory, being kidnapped and losing her legs. None of that had been in the realm of safety. "I am not free, not without you here beside me." When Zero wasn't with her, Doll felt choked by the constraints of being a pet. Even if there wasn't a physical collar, it was always there, threatening that if she tried to go anywhere it would stop her. There was an illusion of freedom, but Doll would be delusional if she actually believed it was there. At least with Zero she could pretend.

If he left, her sky would fall, her world would crumple. Already she was hanging on by a thread, to this fragile self worth that she possessed. "Please don't leave me behind." Tears blossomed in her eyes, running down her cheeks. She felt so small there, pinned to the floor beneath him, the scent of blood and heavy thoughts between them. It was selfish to want to keep him here if he felt he needed to go, but Doll was a selfish human. She had so little rights, but emotions there were plenty of. Doll closed her eyes, their iridescent color hidden behind long lashed lids. She took in a shuddering breath, attempting to quell the rising tide of emotions that swept over her, threatening to spill over and drown everyone in this house. When she opened them, Doll almost imagined him to be gone, so quickly leaving her life almost as fast as he had come in.

That was the thing about love, it was heartbreaking and building, it was anxiety and fear and paranoia wrapped up in excitement and question. He spoke, she breathed, a sharp intake of breath. "Go with you?" She asked, knowing it would be near impossible. "I want to," she felt a flutter in her chest. Could he feel it? The excitement of escaping this place, just the two of them. "But Zero, my legs." Her legs, her useless lower half that made her butt stick to a wheelchair or had her hobbling around with crutches and leg braces colored purple. "The Doc will never let me go."

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❝From here on out, no more roads. We jump down the rabbit hole.❞







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He cradled her face. Such a small one fitting in his grasp. A gentle flower. With hidden thorns. She was woven in cotton, needed to be protected. Her mind playing tricks on itself, keeping secrets to itself. Here he was holding on by his fingertips. Ren was right, she was his greatest weakness, his greatest love and their enemies would exploit it. Drawing him back to her like a snapped rubber band. Bound from the start, even before he ever met her. Inevitably they'd cross paths. Father made that possibility. Once again, Zero stood at a cross roads with no more but a thread of time.

If he left, what hope did he have of ever seeing her again? Ever knowing if she made it? If she got her freedom? The one he wanted to give her. The one she deserved.

If he stayed, what hope did they have of surviving a world that'd reject them? In time she'd get captured. Experimented. An existance worse than death. And he'd live with the knowledge of having failed her, over and over.

It wasn't a gamble he'd risk and yet. The logical answer is out those doors, waiting beyond seas. Somewhere between the trees and the earth.

"I can't stay and hurt you. I can't go and hurt you. I risk losing everything no matter which option I take so..." He petted her hair, finding it soothed him as much as it did her, such a familiar gesture. "I'll take neither."

His body sparked alive with something he had yet to name. But when he looked into her eyes he saw possibility. There was always that light in her eyes that never ceased to give him strength and when he said she'd given it to him he meant it. Every time.

She already made it up in her mind. There was no going back.

Love was a smile on a sunny day, petting horses and watching fish swim. It was a girl with a halo of gold and eyes of sky that ultimately washed his grey days in color. It was here in this moment when time wanted to rip them apart, playing against them again and again and despite his wish to give her freedom, he couldn't yet do it. She was holding on and he wasn't letting go.

"Your legs can heal themselves. You have the power to, even if it's dormant." He helped her up on her feet. Supporting her in his arms, "can't expect it to happen over night but it's not impossible." He righted her chair and settled her on it. Securing the belt across her lap and once again his fingers threaded hers. "My blood can also help, it's still in you."

Ren emerged at the door, no need to step passed the threshold. His auras pricked like barbed wire.

"You want to look after the kid on top of everything else we have to do?" His brows furrowed and he shook his head. "We're not going on a field trip, there's no time to mess around."

Zero gripped her hands and pressed a kiss to her lips again. Maybe he had to take extra precautions, but he'd do it, for her.

Doc was always making choices for her, even when she didn't like them. She was never given her own choices. Doc was all about control, hard facts, and experiments, he's a scientist. He showed signs that he cared but was is as genuine for Loretta or because of what she represented? To Doc, she's his test subject. Perhaps that'd never change.

"Unless you belong to me." Zero whispered. Just as he belonged to her. Under Doc, she'd always have to seek his permission. She didn't have to anymore.

Then he straightened and addressed Ren, "Mom and dad taught us a lot of stuff, but you forget the one that matters, live together never apart."

Ren sighed but nodded. Ren lived by that didn't he?

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Slang, a pretty but expressionless or unintelligent woman. I.e. "She's nothing more than a doll."



{ Bird Set Free | Sia }


Garamound]Dɪᴀʟᴏɢᴜᴇ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✦ #66CDAA || Tʜᴏᴜɢʜᴛ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✧ #008B8B


His eyes were like a fire that sparked and flickered with passion, smoldering embers latent with desire. Her breath was caught in her throat, her heart a butterfly that fluttered so quickly she was certain he could feel it. A strange desire filled her mind, although her hands were already clutching his shirt she wanted to run them through his hair, to rustle the soft locks that fell just so over his forehead. She was afraid that his mind was already made up, that he would leave her, walk out that door never to return. She would never know whether he was dead or alive, whether he was aching for her the way she longed for him. Surely their love was doomed from the start, as a human and a Being could never truly be together. They would break this curse, they would show that love could conquer all. "The thought of being away from you for so long makes my heart ache," she admitted in a whisper, biting down on her lip.

When had this love started? Was it that day he had promised to show her the world? Those quiet times in the library filled with determination between the two for different reasons. Doll to spell out her name, her true name, and Zero, then wanting and longing to find his lost brother. Sometimes the idea of things were better than they actually were. From Zero's stories, Doll had loved the idea of meeting Ren and now that she knew him well... she could live without having met him. Doll could recall that day in the hospital, where he had seemed steps away from attacking her, when Zero had fallen asleep under some sort of spell and it was just Doll, Grell, and the Doctors attempting to fix her, or perhaps study her. She wasn't sure why they seemed so fascinated by her biology. It could have been because as a human, she was an easy target.

To go with Zero would mean freedom, or perhaps, partial freedom, but it was better than being cooped up here, poked with needles and asked questions that at times made her uncomfortable. Most days, Doll daydreamed of being outside and now, there was an offer to go, to abandon this beautiful house, their new prison, and run away into the open world. It wasn't for fun and games of course, no one could never have too much fun in a place where war was waged around every corner between the same people that had taken over Earth in a falsified conquest for peace. "Neither?" His words made her head spun, as though Zero were speaking in puzzles rather than words. It could have been a side effect of being so close to him for so long, their weight pressed together, their lips brushing, his hand on her head, stroking her hair.

"I don't have power," Doll shook her head as he got off of her, righted her chair, placed her back in it. "I'm a human, remember?" Sometimes he made her question her humanity, whether a human and a Being could really fall together. Yes, she decided, because something like this defied all logic and science. It was a rebellion the world had never seen, the spark of a fire that would consume the world should word ever get out. "Your blood is still in me..." Doll repeated, trailing off. "How do I make it heal me?" She requested, wondering if it was possible to somehow manipulate the blood, or if Zero would have to command it inside of her. The thought made her cheeks heat with unexpected thoughts she had only recently learned from thanks to her reading binge.

Ren opened the door, going inside. Words exchanged back and forth, her cheeks burning in shame. "You're a kid too," Doll whispered, not wanting to upset Ren, knowing that he could easily lash out and crush her. When Zero spoke those words, that she belonged to him, quite frankly her heart stopped. Her cheeks heated, her head flitted, taking off in a dizzying way. Doll was his, even though it had been so all along, hearing the words was something new. She was his, to do whatever he pleased with. That was why she didn't cry out or protest when he drank from her, because she was rightfully his. He could drain her of every drop of blood and she would say nothing, because Doll was Zero's. The words in her mind filled her with a dizzying exhilaration. "I'm going with you," Doll spoke then, attempting to not sound so timid. "Whether you like it or not."

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Character Portrait: Doll Character Portrait: ZERO

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"They're planning on taking her." Grell stared at the screen among many that depicted the halls, rooms, kitchen, dining room, nearly every angle of the estate. "Both of them are dead set on fleeing the country."

Doc slammed a file on the table. His eyes fierce, head bent low.

"He can't just take her. Not like this."

Grell rose a brow and glanced over his shoulder, "He did have a point. Technically, Loretta's his."

"No, Grell. She belongs to the lab. This was just an experiment. She can't just disappear. Not that she could."

The other pointed at the monitor, "Didn't you take her under your wing?"

"I did, but her case isn't typical. We need to ensure she is safe."

"If her security is the main issue, won't she have better chances if she's moving?" Grell returned his eyes on the screen. The boys took Loretta into her chair and lead her down the corridor. Intent on making quick work of departure. The younger kid pulled out a cell phone and pressed the device to his ear. Then the kid glanced up at the security camera, his lips flickered. Something about that kid wasn't right.

Grell crossed his arms, the boys continued down the steps, Zero carried Loretta and Ren the wheelchair, he flipped his cell shut and pocketed the device.

Doc ripped the phone off its hanger and dialed. "They want to take her out. Zero's claimed her as her own." His voice a hiss of suppressed rage and frustration.

Grell tilted back into the swivel chair, the faint crackle of the lady on the other end spoke with her graceful, soft tone.

"Her condition and temperature hasn't changed yet, we're still monitoring her progress. As long as we're connected there's no major concern." She said. "The experiment isn't over Dr Atarashi."

"But Dr Brennan, she's not ready for—"

"I'm aware of her case, I know what the boy did. It has yet to take full effect, remember your job, Dr Atarashi."

Doc sighed. "Yes, of course."

"Good. As long as we have your full cooperation nothing should go wrong."

Grell rolled his eyes.

"They want to take her out of the country. We just arrived."

She chuckled, "Is that supposed to be news? Call me when you have something."

The line cut.

Doc slipped the phone back on the cradle.

"We have to let her go. I have a feeling she's already being watched by their people."

Grell stated at the screen, the kids were getting into a black Honda Accord, same driver. Zero disappeared inside along with Loretta, strapping her in, while Ren reluctantly stuffed the trunk with the clunky wheelchair.

"They'll come for her if things get ugly, won't they?"

Doc paced the office. "That's what I've been trying to avoid."

Pushing off the chair, Grell watched the car roll away. Doc may be tied, but he wasn't.

"We'll figure something out, always do."

Doc shot Grell a hard look but his eyes revealed the depths of pain in them. The family he fought for, the family he'd die for, slipping away.

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Slang, a pretty but expressionless or unintelligent woman. I.e. "She's nothing more than a doll."



{ Bird Set Free | Sia }


Garamound]Dɪᴀʟᴏɢᴜᴇ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✦ #66CDAA || Tʜᴏᴜɢʜᴛ Cᴏʟᴏʀ ✧ #008B8B


They had just arrived and yet, she was ever so eager to go. Already the outside had been painted with the colors of midnight, the hall falling silent. There were cameras bending around to face them, to watch their every move, record their every breath. A slight shiver ran down her spine as she wheeled beside Zero, the hallway mercifully big enough for her to do just that. Once they reached a certain point, however, her chair became useless. Zero's arms slid underneath her, lifting her easily from the chair. Doll's cheeks tinged a slight pink and she hoped it wasn't obvious enough to see. Ren trailed behind them, seemingly none too happy that the human, the liability, was coming along. Even so, he took out his phone, pushing the wheelchair Doll was no longer sitting in.

She would have to thank him later, even if he did intimidate her. Doll had decided right then, to be brave. She had leaped into this adventure, plunging head first into the waters of whatever lay ahead of them. The future was hard to see in the murky substance that surrounded them, but surely the outcome would be worth the effort. The air outside of the home was brisk, the interior of the car warm. Where were they headed? Doll had no idea. Ren seemed satisfied with his conversation as he loaded the chair into the back. Doll slid her arm upwards, pinching the skin on the outside of her thigh. She could feel it, a slight tingling that sent of nettles of sensation, but it wasn't enough. If she wanted to be useful, she was going to have to get rid of the chair her butt had been glued to these last few weeks.

"A real adventure," Doll breathed in excitement as they pulled away from the home. She was surprised that no one had come to stop them, or tried to separate them. Wasn't Zero valuable to Dr. Atarashi? Didn't the man consider him his son? Perhaps the guards were all asleep? That was laughable, they had been hired as around the clock security. Which brought another question to mind, how had Ren rustled up a driver? "Where are we headed first?" Doll inquired, wanting to be of use rather than well, an accessory. Sure, she was a human, but mortals had special powers of their own. They were good for some things, not fighting or anything aggressive, but they could carry information and keep a secret like nobody's business.

Was their destination a secret? Her mind flashed back to that dirty old, snow covered shack in the woods that Zero had said was once his home. It must have been nice when it was standing fully upright. She could imagine a warm fire smoldering within, the smell of hot cocoa and gingerbread houses tinging the air, which was a silly thought considering Beings couldn't eat those types of food.

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Character Portrait: Doll Character Portrait: ZERO

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"Out. We're taking a private line back." Ren took the keys from the man who'd pulled up front and slipped into the driver side.

Zero naturally took the back seat, accompanying Loretta. He had a strange feeling that tingled off the base of his skull and from years of experience he took it as a bad sign. The outside world passed the window dark, stretching far and away. No one had stopped them—not even doc.

Ren flickered chrome eyes up at the rearview mirror. "He might send out a tail on us. If that happens, I can't promise a clean break."

Of course Ren's automatic reaction is to kill and violently. Guess that's how he remained hidden for so long.

"Let's just practice a little more discretion. Isn't it easier?"

"Not with that neon sign you wanted to bring along." Ren rolled his eyes and stepped on the gas. Wherever they were headed he never gave light of. Instead his focus on the road and ensuring they weren't followed kept him intensely silent.

There had been a call Ren had made, who was he talking to? Zero's plan was to get out of the country but Ren was calling the shots like this was his bread and butter.

"How do we hide a neon sign then, any suggestions?" Zero asked, he held on to Loretta's hand, the other gripped the handle above his head. He also trained his eyes on the terrain.

Ren lead them from the clearing streets into the highway. "Simple. Cut the lights and dismantle it."

Zero grit his teeth and shook his head. Why did he bother anymore? "What does that even mean?"

"You'll find out soon enough."