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Janus


The man’s groans broke the eerie silence of the brumonous forest, causing Janus to jump as he was suddenly pulled out from his stupor. The man currently pinned underneath him had been a side assignment, one that Janus had personally taken on with no prodding from the higher ups he bowed down to. It had all been part of a stupid, reckless gang initiation. ‘The Serpents’ they had called themselves, was a term coined by the popular television show ‘Riverdale.’ 

 

One moment he had been happily enjoying a double shot of Jameson, and the next he found himself listening to the private conversation a couple of young lads had been having at the end of the bar counter. His last minute adventure to Paris had quickly turned south the moment he heard the men talking about that nights initiation. Young blood from London had just arrived and they intended to bring them in and spread their influences across Europe. Ever the hero, this left a sour taste in Janus’s mouth that wasn’t caused by cigarettes or liquor. 

 

Janus had followed them to ‘PARC NATUREL RÉGIONAL OISE’ and had quickly been appalled at the sight before him. Still half hidden in the tree line, he watched as men stepped forward one by one to be bitten by a snake. The iron rich scent of blood had filled his nostrils, causing him to nearly gag at the sight of blood dripping down their arms. Illuminated only by a small bonfire they had started, Janus was hidden safely in the trees. Until one of the men fell to the ground and began shaking uncontrollably. 

 

You see, the ‘Serpent’ gang had brought two snakes along with them. One a harmless, but agitated burmese python, and the other a venomous viper yet to be identified by Janus. Who, had no intention of scoping out the reptile for himself. His only concern was the man who had been bitten by it. No doubt a cruel joke to show the new initiates that the gang was, for lack of better terms, hardcore and not afraid to kill off one of their own. 

 

As soon as the man had hit the ground, Janus leapt into action. The gang members had scattered, taking their animals with them. Recalling all he could about snake bites and venom, Janus quickly realized the only way to help him was to try and get out as much of the venom as he could. Which meant attempting to suck it out with his own mouth. Janus cursed as he brought the man’s wrist to his mouth and began taking in blood, spitting out as much of it as he could before taking a deep breath and repeating the process. 

 

Until, the venom became an afterthought. As a simple demon, Janus had no way of really telling when it was all gone. However, something peculiar happened as he sucked mouthfuls of blood into his mouth. It began to taste delicious, the sweet flavoring reminding him of freshly melted chocolate mixed with a delightful whiskey after note. Janus had quickly found himself drinking the blood, taking in hearty mouthfuls and moaning as the delicious life blood hit his otherwise empty stomach. 

 

In the midst of his gluttony, fiery red  hair came to the forefront of his mind and he quickly pulled away from the man. Only to hurl up the contents of the recently devoured blood. After he had stopped heaving up the contents of his stomach, he quickly pulled out his cell phone and attempted to type out a message. The shaking of his hands, paired with the blood coating his fingertips made the task rather difficult, but he managed to send it off. 

 

Flahme

Where are you? Trouble. Get here as soon as you can. 

PARC NATUREL RÉGIONAL OISE – PAYS DE FRANCE
April 16, 2019 03:57 pm

Flahme

Currently, in residence at her coven in Paris, Flahme was pouring over information about demons, which seemed to be all she did during any downtime of late. She was obsessed with figuring out what was happening to her and perused anything occult or demonic that she could get her hands on.

Taking a break, she walked through the mansion stretching her back, drawn to the drone of a television where breaking news reported an outbreak of something that started here in Paris. Three people initially diagnosed with a bloodborne disease that quickly leads to high fevers, self-harm and erosion of the brain. Further information showed London and Transylvania had also confirmed reports of patients presenting similar symptoms. Apparently, patient zero was a resident of Paris.

A vibrating sensation was felt in her right butt cheek as Flahme wiggled and pulled her phone from the back right pocket of her jeans.

Flahme
Where are you? Trouble. Get here as soon as you can.
PARC NATUREL RÉGIONAL OISE – PAYS DE FRANCE

Janus! What the Hell was he doing in Paris? It didn’t matter. Their friendship was such that no matter what if help were needed the other would drop everything to be there for them. Glancing once more at the horror on the news she blinked to her room, grabbed her favourite leather jacket and took off for the location stated in his text. The directions showed it would take far too long to blink all the way. Instead, she found an available driver and took one of the private limousines to the location as fast as the chauffeur could get her there. She texted Janus to let him know.

Janus
In Paris, on my way
Approx 30 mins ETA
PS. Don’t touch anyone’s blood!!

A nervous laugh escaped her. That news story compelled her to put that last part in her text. To her knowledge, Janus didn’t drink blood or anything like that; she was reasonably sure he would have mentioned that particular habit, especially knowing how curious she was. She included it only in the event he came across someone bleeding, and it got on his skin where an open cut lay or some similar occurrence.

The text he sent was sudden, and it fuelled her imagination as to what ‘trouble’ meant. His job put him in the middle of dangerous situations on the regular, and she had asked to join him at some point to see what it was like. She smiled as she remembered his horrified stare when she asked that of him.

Shaking her head of these thoughts, she asked the driver to turn on the radio in case there were any further updates. Almost immediately she asked him to turn it off when the reporter spoke of hospitals getting overrun with people presenting flu-like symptoms. She recalled a movie night in the Menagerie where loads of zombie films were watched back to back. So many started just like this.

Finally, a short time later, the car pulled up at the Parc Naturel Regional Oise. She had no clue where Janus was, and so headed towards the trees at the edge of the park shooting him another text in the meantime.

Janus
Where are you?
If you jump out from a tree to scare me, I’m gonna singe your hair.

Giggling she sent the text then sobered as she smelled the distinct metallic aroma of blood. Looking up she saw Janus standing in front of her. His tall frame, white hair and clothing style so familiar, yet somehow different. His chocolate gaze usually so warm, now anxious and slightly feral. There was blood on his hands and mouth.

Flahme swallowed at the sight of him, then whispered. “Janus, what’s going on? Did you...is that blood?”
April 16, 2019 04:47 pm

Janus


A few short breaths after he had sent the message, Janus collapsed. Exhaustion hitting him like a freight train. The man beside him struggled to breath, but his shallow breaths at least indicated he was alive for now. The sight of blood staining his alabaster skin nearly made Janus vomit once more. His stomach churned at his overwhelming desire for more of the ruby tinted delicacy. The taste it had left on his tongue had made his mouth water, even with the acidic burn itching the back of his throat from vomiting it all up. 

 

He was in deep sh*t. Janus was able to put together that much even with the bewildering circumstances he had put himself in. Plenty of his prior assignments had led to blood shed. Drug addicts and violence had caused him to come home splattered with gore, both of his own and others. He was unable to recall even one memory where he had the overwhelming urge to suck someone like a juice box. In fact, he couldn’t even remember what had particularly brought him to Paris in the first place. Flahme had mentioned she had a residence here, but had never gone into depth where it was and Janus wasn’t the type to stalk. 

 

A song? A movie? Janus was unsure as to what had sparked his last minute decision to hop on a flight overseas, but when he had run into The Serpents he had considered it fate. However, laying there on the hard ground covered in blood and vomit made Janus wonder if his misfortune had carried with him into the afterlife. 

 

Flipping himself over, Janus propped himself up onto his hands and knees to try and gather the strength to sit or stand. The vibration in his pocket was encouragement enough. He had missed her initial departure message, only taking notice at her arrival. Under different circumstances, he may have hid to try and scare her. The current situation, and the exhaustion washing over him made inconceivable to even try such a thing. 

 

Willing himself to stand, Janus had to steady himself before he could open his eyes completely. The relief that washed over him at the sight of Flahme’s slender form could have brought him back down to his knees, but Janus remained standing by some miracle. He could feel his palms shaking as she approached, the panic he found in her soulful green eyes gave him the idea that he must have looked much worse than he felt. If that was somehow even possible. 

 

Rooted to the spot, Janus motioned towards the motionless man laying on the ground at his feet. For once in his pathetic life, he failed to find the words necessary to explain himself.  Instead, the fragments of words came pouring out of his mouth along with more blood. No doubt from having chewed the inside of his cheek raw. 

 

“I...he...bit...venom…” Janus sputtered, feeling the blood drain from his face in horror. What had he done? What would she think of him? So much for showing her what he did to please the forces that so happily meddled with their lives. This was a nightmare. He would be stripped of his title, his name, and sent back to hell. 

 

These sobering thoughts helped him pull it together enough to sound out, “I sucked the venom out. He needs a hospital.” 

 

His strength was taken from him in another wave of exhaustion, and Janus was brought to his knees once more. Panting, he placed the palms of his hands upon his knees and peered up at her from beneath his dark lashes. His vision was spinning, and the world became blur. The only thing his weary eyes were able to focus on was her bright hair illuminated by the fire still burning. 

 

“Help.” 
April 17, 2019 03:26 pm

Flahme

Right now, standing seemed to be an issue for Janus. He was wavering on his feet, and Flahme worried he might topple over at any moment. She was strong but wasn’t sure she could catch someone well over six foot if he decided to crash down on top of her. Janus spoke then, and blood came out of his mouth, she gasped attempting to keep her emotions under control. Scared for him, she tried to assess the situation and figure out what she could do to help. He collected himself enough to point to a man behind him on the ground, dead or alive, she couldn’t tell.

I sucked the venom out. He needs a hospital.

Blood. There was too much blood on Janus. Far more than there should be from sucking venom out of someone. Which means he had, what? Been drinking it? Chewing on this person? It might even be comical if he didn’t look so stricken and unwell. Some of that may also be vomit, she realised and wrinkled her nose a bit. Strangely, she didn’t feel horror at any of these thoughts. Janus was her friend; if that were something he did now, she wouldn’t judge him. That was their thing, no judgement between them. What made her curious was why it started tonight or had he kept the habit from her? She wouldn’t blame him if he had, there were still some secrets they both held.

“Is any of that your blood?” First and foremost she wanted to make sure he was uninjured. Then he fell to his knees and said one word. Help.

Immediately she knelt at his side. She had to assume some of the blood might be his. Perhaps he had been in a fight. She pulled out her phone and called for an ambulance. They could take the limousine, but Janus needed attention as well and what if the other man was dead or went into some kind of arrest on the way. She was in no way trained for medical emergencies. She knew how to kill people, keeping them from dying not so much.

The purse that she often wore across her body was like a mini tardis; it was able to contain many more objects than one would think possible. She opened it up and found some tissues. Handing some to Janus for his mouth, she began wiping the blood from his hands. “Janus,” she began, not wanting to alarm him. “Are you aware of the infection that has broken out here? It’s a bloodborne disease. People present with flu-like symptoms. What I’m asking is, are you sure the problem here was venom?” She had stopped raking the soft tissues over his palms and just wrapped her small hand around his larger one. He was neither too warm nor too cold. Instead, his heartbeat was erratic, and his hand shook slightly. Maybe he didn’t have the infection, but he looked thoroughly exhausted.

A siren wailed in the quiet night, and Flahme looked up to see an ambulance threading its way carefully through the carpark. “I’ll be right back,” she said to Janus then released his hand to go wave down the paramedics but he caught her before she could move.
April 17, 2019 03:58 pm

Janus


Is any of that your blood?

 

Unable to find his voice, Janus simply shook his head and observed as she dropped down next to him. Through blurry eyes he was able to make out as she called for an ambulance, his basic French only good enough to understand broken fragments of the short conversation. Regardless, Janus was able to breathe a little easier knowing there was help on the way for the discarded man on the ground. 

 

Accepting the tissues, he dabbed at the corners of his blood stained mouth. Sudden clarity hitting him, he was reminded that he was in dire need to rid his mouth from the taste of blood. Remaining motionless, he allowed her to clean the blood from his hands. Janus hoped she wouldn’t mistake his silence for being ungrateful, as he greatly appreciated the care she took in helping him. However, his cry for help hadn’t been on behalf of himself. His plea had been for her to help the man whose blood he had lapped up like a hungry dog. 

 

As the shrill scream of the ambulance pierced the otherwise quiet night, Janus was quickly filled with panic once more. As she made to turn away, he gripped her hand, locking eyes with her, and through clenched teeth spoke. “You can’t let them take me. Treat him, leave me. We’ll figure the rest out later.” The same untamed look in his eye had returned, his pupils suddenly dilated and his cheeks flushed. Releasing her hand, he sank back into himself. “Tell them you suspect he was bit by something, and when you showed up he was on the ground.Promise me you won’t mention me.” 

 

The flashing of lights became clearer, and dread coursed through him once more. Without warning, and without awaiting her response. Janus moved for the tree line, nearly stumbling over his own feet as he did so. Crashing into the debris of the tree line, Janus forced himself to lean against the base of a tree to catch his breath. It seemed no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t get his heartbeat or breathing under control. This inability to guide his own emotions and reactions set him even more on edge. As a master of self preservation, he hadn’t even begun to scratch the surface of how worried he truly was. 

 

Flahme had mentioned a bloodborne disease, an infection, and the concern in her eyes reminded him of the newscasts. Janus was able to recall the slow scrolling of ‘Breaking News’ along the edge of a television screen. 

 

“Common cold spreads through London, Lemsip disappears from shelves. - New strain of flu consumes Paris.” 

 

So, he thought to himself, that was what had brought him to France all along. 
April 18, 2019 08:08 pm

Flahme

At Janus’s plea to remain unknown in this odd scene, Flahme relented. Of course, she wouldn’t mention him if that was his wish. Nodding her agreement she took off to deal with the ambulance noting Janus headed unsteadily back to the line of trees she initially saw. She would catch up with him after. His behaviour and actions tonight were so erratic and unlike the usual that he seemed almost like a different person. His confidence and control were nowhere in sight. She had wanted to see him let go and loosen some of that tight control he held about himself, but not like this.

Waving her arms to get the attention of the ambulance she directed them to the man on the ground. In reasonable but not fully fluent French she explained what she knew. “I was out for a walk and found this man just laying here. I think something bit him; there was a creature, a dog I think that ran off when I approached.” She gestured in the opposite direction to show where the imaginary dog had fled.

The paramedics asked a few more questions, all of which she couldn’t answer. Then they brought a gurney out and lifted the unconscious man onto it. When they attempted to get her to go in the ambulance as well, she shook her head. “I don’t even know him, go, make sure he is fine.” Refusing, she backed away, and they gave up and loaded the man into the vehicle and performed whatever was immediately necessary. Once the man was stable and secure, with sirens wailing, they took off, and she didn’t move until there was silence once again. She could hear her heartbeat filling her ears in the quiet night and realised she was afraid of what was happening to Janus.

Turning back to the tree line she moved, her eyesight slowly adjusting to the near dark now the lights of the ambulance had gone. She saw Janus there, leaning heavily against the base of a tree looking exhausted. Flahme heard his laboured breathing as she approached and she was becoming more and more concerned he had picked up the infection that was all over the news. If that was the case, he needed to get to the hospital, so why did he refuse?

“Janus, what is going on? If you have the infection, you need medical help. We need to get you to the hospital.” She moved closer and stretched herself to the side in an attempt to see his face then very gently laid her hand on his back. “I don’t care how you got it; what you did. We need to get you help.”
April 18, 2019 09:16 pm

Janus


Relief flooded through Janus as the paramedics took away his victim. 

 

Victim. How in the god’s names had he inflicted damage upon a mortal? Janus now walked the earth to help, to heal, to act as a savior to the pitied and the broken. He had been the one to call an ambulance in many situations, the most recent being for an overdose in the woods. Causing more damage was not supposed to be part of his plan. However, causing harm just for the fun of it had once been his full time job. 

 

Those very memories clouded his mind as he sat there, helpless against a tree. Letting his arms go limp, he clenched his hands to grip fistfuls of grass. A reminder to keep himself grounded despite how quickly thoughts were racing through his mind, but the sticky iron rich blood between his fingers stuck to blades of grass. Janus could feel himself crumbling over every reminder. 

 

Flahme’s voice was able to break through the dark haze that had washed over him. His eyes snapping open, he studied her as she leaned in to get a closer look at him. Her gentle, worried  eyes seemed to peer into the very depths of his currently exposed soul. As she placed her hand on his back, he straightened up and simultaneously leaned into the touch. The  sudden comfort he found was overwhelming. Without warning he pulled her into what would have been a bone-crushing hug if she was human. Her familiar scent was soothing, and he could feel himself achieving clarity with each passing moment. 

 

He only began to speak as he released her, holding her at an arm’s length as he looked into her eyes and spoke clearly. “I can’t go to the hospital. How do you think it will look when I walk in? Infection or no, should they be able to properly identify me, I’m supposed to be dead.” 

 

His words reverberated inside his own mind. His current life a constant reminder that he had ended his past life, only to begin a new one plagued by the very thing that had brought on his demise. Despite his exhaustion, her proximity helped him stay focused enough to keep his thoughts straight. Janus realized that if his current symptoms had come on so suddenly after ingesting the infected blood, the ones to come would be much worse. 

 

Perhaps, if he were lucky. They might kill him for good. 

 

Returning his focus back to her, he exhaled sharply before adding. “I drank his blood, and I enjoyed it.” 
April 19, 2019 09:37 pm

Flahme

The infection aside, something momentous had changed for Janus, she had never seen him this vulnerable before. Flahme knew how seriously he took his job and that he genuinely believed he deserved his fate. Whatever had occurred seemed to be draining his will to live. She didn’t like it one bit.

It wasn’t that long ago they met, a chance encounter in New York. Almost immediately there was an affinity between them. As they got to know one another, there developed a deep understanding of the other’s situation which it turned out were not so dissimilar. In that, they found common ground and were able to give each other not only encouragement but hope. Through it all, she had a sense Janus felt Hell was justified in their treatment of him, and neither had yet shared the reason they deserved Hell. Regardless, Flahme knew to her bones he had a good heart. It was why she was prepared to fight for him at every turn.

Suddenly he was looking at her and his strong arms wrapped around her in a hug that would have crushed a mortal. Instead, she hugged him back as fiercely, happy to give comfort where she may. She said nothing but eased a gentle hand over his back until he held her away from him to explain the situation. Her brow furrowed at his words. She would have a worse issue if she needed a hospital or anything that required her name. Flahme was the only name she remembered; she must have had another before Hell. “I hadn’t thought of that. You could give a false name, but according to the news there’s no cure yet anyway.”

Dammit, she could almost see thoughts when he mentioned he was already dead. “Hell won’t let you die unless they want it, so stop thinking about it. You promised me…” She let the words trail off, he would know what she referred to, but everything was different now.

Then her worst fear was realised. I drank his blood, and I enjoyed it.

Flahme wouldn’t be herself if she didn’t find the idea a little curious. She wanted to ask what it tasted like and what did it do for him. She sighed and nodded then tried for levity. “It’s okay, a lot of demons do. Just don’t be looking at me like I’m your personal popsicle.” She smiled at him. “We should probably get out of here; get someplace safe.” She couldn’t take him to the coven, couldn’t risk him infecting anyone. “We’ll go to a hotel. You can get some rest, and I can see what information I can find about a cure.” She stood and offered him her hand.
April 19, 2019 10:45 pm

Janus


According to the news? He briefly wondered what truth the press truly possessed when it came to the current ongoing medical phenomenon. Either way, he understood and nodded. “We’d be better off lying low until a cure does come up, and hopefully they won’t require a real name to get treated.” 

 

Janus froze, the promise he had made to her was still fresh in his mind and true to his loyal nature he would do everything in his power to keep that. Despite the thoughts and memories popping up into his mind, he had a life to live and new memories to make. The new found hope was foreign, and he would try his best not to let his illness get the better of him. Now that she was near, he felt like he could breathe again, his thoughts slowing in direct correlation. 

 

However, the fear in her eyes caused his heart to sink slightly. Quickly lifted by her witty remark, the light in his eyes returned. Falling in step with her, and his old ways he quickly jumped in on the banter. “Although I’m sure you’re quite the tasty treat, I’ll ignore any urges I may have of sucking you dry...for now.” With this, he shot her a wink. 

 

Watching as she stood, he quickly gripped her hand and accepted the help to get back on his feet. Janus found that he was more steady now than he had been since ingesting the infected blood, but still didn’t completely trust himself. He would need to stick by her side should matters get worse for him. “I had a hotel room booked when I landed. The details are somewhere on my cell phone…” Reaching into his back pocket, he withdrew the device and began scrolling through the numerous email confirmations he had received while making arrangements for his spur of the moment trip. 

 

“Ah, there we go. ‘Pullman Paris Roissy CDG Airport,’ I haven’t even checked in yet.” A soft chuckle escaping him, he glanced over to her, studying the gentle planes of her face for a moment. Hopefully she didn’t mind having to go on the run with him, as it wasn’t what they originally had in mind when they had daydreamed of running away together. It was this thought that spurred a fresh onslaught of emotion to well up within him, and he gripped her hand. 

 

“I know this wasn’t what we had in mind, but I’m grateful for whatever time we are able to spend together. Thank you for not running away, I can’t imagine the trouble I’d be in if I didn’t have you here.” A smile curling up the corners of his lips, he gently released her hand back to her side and began searching for a nearby Uber to pick them up. However long he had left with a clear mind, he planned on utilizing as much of it as he could before he was hit with another wave or exhaustion or mania. 
April 20, 2019 10:31 pm

Flahme

Relief flooded her when he agreed to go somewhere safe. She expected an argument and was ready to fight her case. She could be very determined and persuasive when she chose to be. “I bet there will be special treatment for people like us where real names won’t be necessary. That has to be a thing. There are too many of us who don’t have that information. I’ll find out what I can, once we’re safe.”

When Janus joined her in joking around she laughed feeling lighter than she had since getting here and even blushed a little when he winked at her, there was still hope, and he seemed far calmer than before. They would be fine. Somehow this had to work out for them.

He accepted her hand and stood, his tall frame towering over her as he scrolled through his phone looking for hotel details as she attempted to see what he was doing. “You hadn’t checked in? What, you couldn’t wait to get into the action?” She grinned looking at his phone screen knowing they were both a little enthusiastic when it came to the assignments they received.

The quiet made her look up to find him staring at her and was about to ask what was on his mind when he suddenly gripped her hand again. She automatically enfolded his fingers in hers, and a smile tipped up the corners of her mouth as he mentioned their daydream. “Doesn’t mean we still can’t do it one day and you know I’ll always be here for you, Janus. I’m not going anywhere. Besides we can find pictures of the beach and sunsets on our phones, buy some mixed drinks and it will be just as good,” she said nodding in a determined manner, her green eyes sparkling. Flahme was always able to find the bright side of most situations; it was how she kept going when the threat of death loomed over her every time an assignment came up. High pressure situations brought out her best.

At his mention of finding an uber, Flahme remembered the limousine. She hadn’t sent it away, and it should still be where she left it. “The limousine that brought me here might still be waiting. Let’s go check. We have to get to the carpark anyway even if we call an uber,” she pointed out and turned to move ensuring Janus followed her and didn’t need help walking. The limousine was indeed still there, and they got inside, and Janus gave the driver the new address to take them to.

Less than twenty-five minutes later they were at the counter checking into the hotel Janus had booked. Wandering away slightly as he completed the transaction, she looked around the vast lobby. A news report blared from a patron’s phone. ‘France has now closed its borders in an attempt to contain the infection spreading further.’ Flahme’s brow furrowed as she listened and then coughed a bit covering her mouth with her hand. A person nearby looked at her sharply then moved away. As she took her hand from her mouth she noticed a small amount of blood there. “Janus?”
April 20, 2019 11:04 pm

Janus


As per usual, Flahme was right. Her beauty and charismatic attitude had initially drawn him in, but her intelligence and the way she thought through things in a thorough manner had earned his admiration. It was her way of thinking that had changed his cold heart, and brought him clarity in his moment of desperation. Janus only had her to thank for soothing him out of the mental breakdown he had been having after consuming blood.

A chuckle escaped him as she ragged on him for being devoted to his work. Janus may have been offended had it been anyone else in the world, but he knew well just how seriously she took her own tasks. It made the teasing easier to cope with. However, he didn’t have the time to try and explain he came here on a whim and not for work. His previous epiphany on the inspiration for his last minute flight was still fresh, and he would need to work through all of the hazy details before getting to the root of it all.

A grin lit up his still pale face, musing on the idea of staring at a sunset by her side brought him more happiness than he thought was plausible giving the current dilemma at hand. Flahme’s optimism was an ever constant shining light in the dark that seemed to follow Janus around like an ever present rain cloud. In between searches on his cellphone, he stole glances of her lithe figure illuminated only by the dying bonfire from the gathering earlier.

Chasing down gang members, watching a man get bit by a snake, sucking out the venom, enjoying the taste of blood, now riding in a limo through Paris? Janus would have much to add to his autobiography should he live through the night. Whatever lavish life she had been living in Paris outside of their interactions intrigued him, and he made a mental note to quiz her later on it. Should he remember, that is. Fear still gripped him for falling into a mental episode. For now though, he felt safe as he climbed into the limousine behind her. After handing over the address to the driver, he sank into the supple leather of the seat. Assuaged by her familiar smell now enveloping his senses.

The short, quiet ride to the hotel was the most at peace with himself he had felt in months. In fact, it may have been the only time Janus didn’t have thoughts rapidly firing through his mind. Even the long plane ride to France had been filled with careful planning, and searching through documents on an assignment he was involved in. Checking in to the hotel proved to be a slightly difficult task, as the receptionist spoke in broken English. Janus depended on Google Translate in these situations, and was relieved when he saw Flahme wandering away from the corner of his eye. After all he had been through, he was grateful to not have to embarrass himself further.

Janus

Room key now in hand, he whipped his head around to see the blood on her hand and on her pout. Inwardly cursing, he rushed to her side and held her closely to him. They just had to make it to the room without being seen by the staff, then they would be free to plan their next move. Shooting a smile to the reception desk, he whisked her away down the nearest hallway. Their room was found not too far from the lobby, and upon arrival he ushered her inside.

“Sh*t, sh*t, sh*t,” Taking her face in his hands, he studied her face and mossy hues before forcing himself to calm down enough to question her. “Are you alright?”
April 22, 2019 09:33 pm

Flahme

Strong arms wrapped around her as Janus pulled her close upon seeing the blood on her hands and lips. Flahme wiped it clean and moved with him quickly. All of Paris was on high alert, and she didn’t want to be dragged off because someone thought she or Janus was sick. They were but didn’t want to advertise the fact. Tucked into his side, she gripped the front of his t-shirt to keep up with him.

Their room wasn’t too far, and he urged her inside then shut the door behind himself, flicking on lights before standing before he took her face in his hands. She leaned into his hands closing her eyes for a moment, his touch soothing her, then opened them and smiled looking into his chocolate gaze. At his question, Flahme shook her head. “I don’t know. I feel warm and tired all of a sudden. Like I could sleep for a week, and there’s a weird crawling pain all over me.” Moving from the warmth of his hands she went further into the room and shed her jacket and purse, then went to the bathroom to soak a washcloth with cold water to run over her arms and face.

Coming out of the bathroom, the light under the outer door caught her eye, and she had a crazy thought to block it. Taking one of the large fluffy towels from the bathroom, she shoved it against the bottom of the door, in the hope of stopping them from spreading germs to others. Turning back to Janus she shrugged and gestured for him to sit down on the bed. “Why don’t you rest?” She handed him the cold washcloth in case he needed it as well then located the remote and turned the television on to get some news.

There was so much information flashing across the screen that it overwhelmed her. Closed borders. Military presence. Containment camps. She didn’t like the sound of any of it, in her mind it all spelled loss of freedom. She knew logically that all these strategies were there to help the masses deal with something they had little to no knowledge of, but the possibility of being separated from Janus now scared her far more than it should. Was that the infection making her feel that way? The news coverage spoke of symptoms similar to the flu; she had the cough and fatigue, but also mentioned were aggression and paranoia.

Entwining her fingers with his, Flahme studied him for a moment. He had been steady as a rock since she met him, never judging her, always interested in her odd life and willing to share so much of his. She was eyeing the tattoos that snaked up the side of his neck and smiled at her curiosity of them the first time they met. She couldn’t have asked for a better friend to be sick with, and that made her smile. “Janus if the authorities find us and take us to one of these camps, don’t let them separate us, okay? If we are both infected, we can stay together, and if you get all aggressive, I will kick your butt.” A mischievous grin appeared at her declaration.

Her body began to feel like it was on fire and she whimpered a little. “Janus, remember that knife wound I got, and it healed almost immediately? I think my body is trying to heal me from the infection; this feels like the burning pain I get when a wound heals. I think that’s why I feel tired. My body is fighting this thing constantly.” Whether or not Flahme’s hypothesis was correct, she needed to lie down and rest for a moment as well. Kicking off her shoes she went to move coughing a little, this time without any show of blood. She held up her hand to show him.
April 23, 2019 09:12 am

Janus

The sudden absence of her face cradled between his hands made his fingers twitch in protest, but Janus nodded and let her go cool herself down. Having already discussed how warm she ran through the night, her sudden uncomfortable warmness due to the illness came as to no surprise to him. Watching as she shed her outer layers he shed his own, tossing his jacket onto the sofa across from the bed, and kicking off his boots in general direction of the door.   

Tossing himself onto the very same sofa, he leaned his head back into the cushions and closed his eyes for a moment.   

His mind was clear of any whirling or racing thoughts for the moment, whatever stupor he had fallen into drinking the blood had obviously affected his psyche more than the infection had. Janus had the feeling he would be losing much sleep over the impending doom of losing his mind. If the reports were true, he had 24 hours at best until he succumbed to the aggression the infection brought on.   

The soft clicking sound of the bathroom door being opened had his eyes snapping open, and he watched curiously as Flahme blocked out the light coming from the hotel’s hallway just outside the door. As observant as always, she had the right idea to contain the airborne illness to their quarters for the evening. Assuming they had that long.   

Doing as he was told, he rose from the sofa and ungracefully plopped himself onto the bed, kicking his feet up without hesitation. Then, taking the washcloth from her grasp, he draped it around the back of his neck. The cool damp material appeased the warmth of his skin, comforting a fire he hadn’t even realized was steadily growing underneath his skin.   

Internalizing his own horror at the steady stream of information scrolling across the television, he was only comforted by the fact he had gleaned some details he had been ignorant of. The ‘Red Death’ as they called it was sweeping across France, along with other parts of the world. Masses of victims were being corralled into the containment centers, to no doubt be studied as well as confined to themselves. Briefly, Janus wondered how long it would take for his symptoms to begin.   

Her sudden touch brought him back to reality, and he enclosed his hand around hers. Her dainty fingers felt more like toothpicks between his own, and it brought a small smile to his features despite the current climate. Meeting her own gaze, he couldn’t help but be entranced by the thick lashes framing her vibrant green hues. It was only when she spoke that his stare was redirected to her pout. He returned her smile with a grim grin of his own, nodding and giving a slight squeeze to her hand.   

“There will be hell to pay to anyone who tries to tear us apart. At this point, I think you’re the only person on the earth who could keep me contained if I suddenly lose it.”   

Although the rosy color that began building in her cheeks was absolutely adorable, he loosened his grip on her hand and made to remove the flanel from the back of his neck. Instead, draping a still cool arm onto her forehead as she spoke. Her skin was hot to the touch, and if he hadn’t completely trusted her he may have feared she would combust into flames right there. Her notion seemed highly plausible, as the highly intelligent being she was he didn’t doubt for a moment that she had thought this out thoroughly before bringing it to his attention.   

“As the alpha demon, I wouldn’t be surprised if you were fighting this. Your healing abilities might be kicking in to fight the spread before it gets too far.” With this, Janus moved away and picked her shoes up off of the floor and moved them towards the door. Quickly taking the washcloth he soaked it again in cold water before returning and offering it to her. It might bring a small amount of comfort in her feverish state.  

“It would probably be best if we try to keep our skin to skin contact to a minimum, so that you aren’t constantly fighting the infection just to get it back again. I could also go grab you some ice if that would help cool you down from the inside.” 

April 23, 2019 09:49 pm

Flahme

“There will be hell to pay to anyone who tries to tear us apart. At this point, I think you’re the only person on the earth who could keep me contained if I suddenly lose it.”

The sigh that escaped her lips at his words was both wistful and thankful. Janus seemed as invested in their friendship as she was. Her life was quickly becoming so she couldn’t imagine him not being around. Was this still a friendship or were they stepping into deeper waters? It felt to her as if the edges of their relationship were blurred and something new and fragile emerged to replace it. With so little experience of romantic attachments, Flahme wasn’t sure she imagined it all to be something more than it was. Everything with Janus felt right, whether talking about their assignments or holding hands as they discussed life and death.

Up till now they had both firmly been in the friend zone, but tonight their caring for one another was far more apparent. “It’s strange my warm touch can soothe you,” she remarked. “It has a feel of fate to it. Though I never thought I believed in such.” She didn’t want to lose his hand, but when he pressed it to her forehead, she leant into his touch once again. “Yours seems to have a similar effect on me. I wonder at the reason.”

The sparkle in her emerald gaze reappeared at his remark about ‘alpha demon’, she grinned wide as this was not a title she would give herself. Flahme always referred to herself as ‘just me’ not seeing there was anything more special about her than any other. She nodded at his assessment of her healing abilities, then he tidied her shoes away and went to re-soak the washcloth. When he brought it back to her, she ran it over her arms, face and chest and groaned from the coolness of it on her skin. “Thank you, Janus.” Then she fell back on the bed, the washcloth on her forehead as her red hair fanned out around her.

At his mention of minimising their contact she frowned, they hadn’t touched that much, not nearly as much as she would have liked. She wanted nothing more than to lay next to him, perhaps rest her head on his chest and sleep if she could. With the infection being airborne, touching wasn’t a big deal. She would be getting it from the air she breathed already.

His words interrupted her reverie, and she cleared her throat. “Yes, ice would be wonderful. Thanks, and be careful.” She heated momentarily for reasons other than the fever. Thoughts of Janus running a cube of ice over her hot skin then licking off the residual moisture brought an intense blush to her cheeks, and she rubbed her lips together to suppress a soft moan. She briefly wondered if the fever was taking hold again and bringing out such imaginings. Janus may not even think of her in such terms, though she had noticed his mahogany hues look at her more intently this night than any other moments they shared.

Sighing as he left to get the ice, Flahme shook her head to dislodge these thoughts. Instead, she turned her mind to the infection and was horrified at how quickly it spread. What she found most curious was that so many supernatural creatures were infected. There would be others like her who had intense healing abilities yet had succumbed. It boggles the mind, and she hoped a cure would soon be found.

In addition to this, Janus had tasted and enjoyed blood. What would the implications of this be? So many questions flew through her mind. Would he now crave blood, need it regularly? Did it give him any sort of advantage? He had maintained he had no special abilities, but in his line of work, it didn’t make sense that Hell wouldn’t have given him an edge. Perhaps like her, he had to figure them out for himself. Rolling to her side, she slid the washcloth over her neck as Janus had done and felt herself drifting off to sleep.
April 24, 2019 04:28 am

Janus


A smile gently curved the corners of his lips, and Janus could have sworn he saw a new rosy blush filled her cheeks. Having been surprised that he had the same effect on her that she had him, he was hyper aware of every reaction she gave him. His keen observations over others coming handy in all aspects of his life, the interactions between the two of them marking the peak of his measly existence.

“To quote the great John Lennon and Lou Gehrig, ‘There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be.’ Although I’ve been given a bad break, but today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” With that, Janus slipped out the door to retrieve the ice he had promised her. 

Janus had been a pessimist, both in his current life and in his past one. He quickly found his heart changing after every encounter he and Flahme had. The redheaded temptress currently in his bed had somehow melted the ice that had formed around his heart. To say that he would have rolled over and died to please her was an understatement at best. Though he had never been one to believe in fate, knowing her for such a short time felt more like he had found a missing piece to himself. Janus had grown to cherish their friendship and had become determined not to let himself stand in the way of their happiness. 

Walking down the otherwise empty hallway, Janus thought over her reaction to learning his sudden interest in blood. He both admired and appreciated the way she let the comment roll off her shoulders, though he was sure he would be hearing from her at some point. Ever a curious creature he knew her silence on the subject was short lived, and he knew well that he would oblige her with as much information as he could offer. 

Passing the vending machine area he contemplated grabbing them snacks, as he was sure she would be growing hungry after her body fought the infection. His own stomach was still uneasy after the consumption and vacation of blood. Alas, he had forgotten his wallet inside the room. 

It was as he was filling an empty ice bucket at the ice machine that he overheard the hushed whisper of multiple voices. Quietly, he lifted down the lid to the machine and crept his way over to the corner of the hallway and peered his head around the corner. A woman, and two uniformed men stood at the end of the hallway. The black haired woman from reception that had checked them into the hotel was frantic as the two men in front of her whispered questions to her. Janus had trained himself to read lips, but in this circumstance to do so was futile as they were speaking in French. He was only able to make out one word clearly, ‘du sang.’

After having watched the multiple reports about the infection spreading through Paris, Janus had picked up on enough to know that they were talking about blood. Fear gripped him as he quickly realized Flahme’s bloody cough had been seen in the hotel lobby, and the receptionist had most likely reported it to authorities and their worst fear had been formed into a reality. 

Sliding his head back around the corner, Janus walked back to their room at a brisk pace. He didn’t bother being quiet as he entered their room. Upon seeing her half-asleep in bed, Janus was in near hysterics. His emotions only amplified by the infection spreading through his own body. Placing the ice bucket onto the bedside table, he gently shook Flahme awake. His worry filled eyes met hers and his lips thinned out into a tight line. 

He was able to sound out, “We’ve got to get moving.” Before brash knocking ensued. 
April 24, 2019 09:14 pm
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