Winged One/Unfeathered- Julius
Julius stood, head craned over his shoulder staring at his back. The slits for his wings were red and inflamed, painful to any type of touch. Even a small breeze made him wince and bite his lip. He hunched his shoulders forward and then straightened out his back trying to force the tiny shreds of feathers to poke out more. They remained immobile, just barely sticking out torturing him.
It had been two day since the incident with Scarlett. Two days since he had taken off his bright white T-shirt and traded it for a grey one that had hung in the very back of his closet. He had accepted his fate, knowing that he was doomed as soon as the words had refused to pass his lips. As she had wrapped her cold arms around his stomach and laid her head on his back, he knew he had nowhere to turn. He had lost everything in order to save her.
After fighting his battle with every ounce of energy his possessed he had stumbled and fell losing everything in the process. Scarlett had looked into his eyes and had wiped his mind of everything but her and only her. Those so important words that he had promised himself he would never ever forget had completely disappeared in his moment of need.
For the first day of his transformation he had been incapacitated not only from the pain that was radiating up and down the muscles in his back but from the pain of his defeat as well. What had she done to him? How had she taken control of his mind like that, making him lose everything he had fought so hard for?
Scarlett was a tricky woman to care about. She had come to him when he had needed her the most, being his companion in his hour of need. But over time the world became more about her and only her. Every time he tried to walk away she had whispered a plea or looked at him with those lost eyes and he had walked right back into her arms.
The questions and reminiscing stopped running through his head quickly though once the pain of the emerging feathers took complete control of his mind. For an entire day he had laid in a collapsed heap as the pricks and stings came and went. They would stall and he would move pushing on one of the tips and wave after wave of agony would ripple up and down his back. He lost the ability to see as well as the ability to interact with the world around him; let alone ponder how he had ended up in this place.
Today he woke up, the pain still there but bearable. Scarlett was nowhere to be seen. She had left him. She had walked away when he had needed her the most, as she was known to do. His back still ached this morning, but the pain was numbing now. Maybe the initial shock was over or he was just getting used to the stings. Either way he had been terrified to turn his back and look in the mirror but he knew he had no choice. He had to see what was now apart of him.
He had made it until the sun started set until he had given into curiosity. He had to see the beginning of the wings. The beginning of his life shifting from his complete control to a life where he barely played apart. He had to see the evidence that life was no longer his own.
He now stood in front of the mirror confused, as well as slightly scared. He went to touch the pieces of feathers he could see when a knock sounded at the door. He stopped, completely still. Who was that? Scarlett? She wouldn’t knock. He was not in the mood for visitors at the moment, or really ever again if he was being honest with himself. The second knock was harder and more persistent. Again he stood completely still, the angry red marks on his back shining brightly in the dim room. He heard the door knob rattle but no one entered the house. Why not?
He checked his watch, it read 8:45pm. They still had fifteen minutes to come inside. But after a few seconds he realized no one was coming inside. Maybe they got bored, or were too polite or too scared or just crazy. He really didn’t care. As long as he didn’t have to deal with them right now.
He returned his attention to his ruined back. He just stared at it, at a loss for words. Why were they so small? Where were the full feathers, and the appendages to hold them? Why was there no evidence that they were going to get any bigger? It just looked like someone had ripped open his back and had gotten debris inside the cuts. As if he could pour water down his back and wash out the pieces. He knew that wasn’t true though. After two days he should have something beginning to take shape, maybe even full wings. What was wrong?
He heard a door close and soft footsteps make their way into the living room. Scarlett was home, or else the visitor from earlier had come back through the back door. Honestly he didn’t think he wanted either case to be true.
Scarlett entered the room her black boots criss-crossed tied up to her knees and her brick red hair thrown over her shoulder, only a few strands clinging to the front of her neck. She gave him an almost relieved smile when she saw him standing in the living room.
“What is wrong with me?” he asked, spinning to face her. He didn’t have the energy for pleasantries. He needed an answer. Why he thought she would have them he had no idea? But there was no one else to ask, to bark questions at or rage at. This was all her fault after all.
“What do you mean?” she asked gently, coming quickly towards him hands outstretched. He took two steps back, he needed distance between the two of them.
“I don’t have any real feathers. It is like they are stuck, or something,” he turned his back to her so she could see properly how much of a mess it was. He couldn’t watch her face distort in horror, but he had hoped to hear her whimper or scream at the sight. Maybe she would even run from the house and leave him alone. He hoped she would maybe even whimper in pity, knowing that she had done this to him.
“Oh honey,” she cooed, like she was seeing a small inconsequential scratch. He felt her hovering near his back, a cold nail touching the very top of one of the openings. The rational part of him knew he should back away and run from her. He should put his shirt back on and get the hell out of the house, find someone who could give him answers, who wouldn’t betray him sooner or later.
He didn’t move, just let her slide the nail down his back right next to the marks.
“I don’t know,” she whispered, sounding confused but also a bit scared. Scared for him or for what might end up happening to her.
“What do I do?” he asked her. Again why was he asking her, like she had any real information? Yes, she ran around the cities getting into trouble and hanging with the wrong people but he doubted she knew the secrets of the Winged One world. If she did and had never told him, he didn’t think he could ever look at her again.
This wasn’t her fight. Yes, she had caused this to happen to him but she wasn’t part of this now. She shouldn’t be forced to suffer with him. He had to find answers, in the hopes he could help himself so in turn he could help her when her own transformation began.
“I have to find Jack,” he said turning around and breaking their contact. He pulled his T-shirt back over his head, wincing slightly at the tug at his skin. He made his way towards the door.
Scarlett reached out and grabbed the tips of his fingers. “Don’t,” she pleaded. He looked her in the eyes, saw the tears glistening there. He felt his heart ache. She was just as lost as he was, but it was even worse for her. She had been running around her whole life looking for a safe place to live out her life. Now she stood in his house, watching him breaking down and knowing that soon it would happen to her as well. He had saved her only to destroy her.
“It is going to be alright,” he pulled her into his chest and wrapped his arms around her back. He placed a gentle kiss on the top of her head. He knew soon she would begin suffering as well. He didn’t want her to hurt, but right now she was whole. Right now he was the one falling apart and he needed to find his own answers in order of having a hope of helping her at all.
A part of him wanted to stay here and protect her, to not let the world destroy her like it was destroying him. Another part of him wanted to shake and scream at her, begging her to tell him how she had made him forget what he promised himself he would never forget. Another part of him just wanted to collapse into tears and beg for this all to stop. He felt his head spinning as the emotions swirled around and around. He didn’t know what he was going to feel next, let alone what he was going to do.
“I gotta go,” he pushed her away from him, making her stumble back on her heels. Jack would have answer for him. At least that is what he silently prayed to himself as he slammed the door. Because if Jack didn’t have anything; Julius wasn’t sure what he would end up doing to himself and let alone Scarlett.