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Living in the Shadows

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Air rushes through her almost intact lungs as she jerks upright, her hands flying toward her throat. She splutters, eyes wide and blurry, as the brightness of the room disorients her already weak senses. She hits the ground hard, though her thin body barely makes any noise. She’s not completely sure whose body this is, nor is she sure where she is, but she’s… definitely not in hell anymore, definitely no longer dead- but she’s very certain that this body, whoever it is, has been dead for quite a long time. This body’s limbs are almost skeletal, and most of it is missing skin in several places. The body’s stomach has been gored, it’s- well, her- intestines practically spilling out. A sudden rush of strength fills her body, along with her memories and thoughts, and a sharp pain. 

She is Miczariel, that much she remembers. 

Her sigil burns into her wrist, permanently marking this body’s flesh. Slowly, Miczariel gets to her wobbly human legs. She’s still a bit disoriented, and quite grumpy, and she gets a glimpse of her new face from the mirror across the room… she’s in an embalming room, she realizes, and most of the flesh around her jaw is gone- leaving her features in a twisted, skeletal grin. One of her eyes is missing too, she's practically a zombie at this point… barely human, barely in control. Vicious, angry hunger gnaws at Miczariel's empty and loose stomach, which is slowly receding back where it belongs with her other intestines. Her tongue, surprisingly still intact, runs along the dry, bony teeth of her lower jaw in place of her lip. Miczariel isn't sure when she's last eaten… it feels like an eternity since she's last tasted blood. And, speaking of food, Miczariel's ravenous attention is drawn toward the sound of a man's voice. 

"Hey," the sound is cautious and firm, "what the hell are you doing here-" Miczariel unleashes a loud, blood curdling scream just before the man can finish his sentence. The man is prey- live prey, tasty prey- and Miczariel hasn't seen or heard a live one in some time, not since she was locked away for her brutal slaughtering. Miczariel moves with inhuman speed, the door to the embalming room crumbling beneath her violent demonic strength. Even with her limited vision, Miczariel can see the man across the room. She can taste his terror, she can hear his heart pounding in her ears. Miczariel leaps over a table scattered with human remains reeking of blood and decay, her movement all but flipping the surface. 

Miczariel is upon the man in seconds, teeth tearing into his throat. His blood, warm and thick, rushes into her mouth. Muscles, ligaments, and skin tear easily as Miczariel rips into him, trying to satiate the ungodly hunger eating away at her. She must eat and heal, figure out why she's here, and who's brought her back. The man collapses beneath Miczariel despite his superior strength and weight, but his fists continue to tear and hit Miczariel's bare sides and back. Each blow glances off Miczariel, each hit akin to the annoyance of a mosquito bite, as she continues to eat him alive. 

Blood coats her pale, ice cold skin as the man's movements begin to slow and grow weak. He's no threat to Miczariel, he's barely a nuisance, and now he's dying beneath her… it's pathetic really, how easy the humans are to kill. A dry, gurgling laugh leaves Miczariel's bony lips as she draws back; her lone eye a shimmering black orb in the socket. Her guts are completely in place now, now the hole in her abdomen is beginning to close. Soon enough her missing eye will return, as will her skin and hair… soon, she'll be able to pass for human, unrecognizable as an unworldly and ungodly being. 

"Oh, fuck," a tiny voice squeaks out. Miczariel's head snaps toward the noise, her features twisting from amusement to suspicion. There's a girl huddled in the corner, barely an adult, her brown eyes wide with terror. No, this is more than terror- this is absolute mania. Miczariel's lips aren't back yet, but if they had been she'd be grinning ear to ear. Is this another victim? Another human to end this hunger? Miczariel gets to her feet again, her movements more steady and certain, and lowers into a stalking crouch. Miczariel creeps toward the girl, slowly regaining vision on her blind side. Her tongue darts outward again, licking the blood from her reforming lip. This girl, the potential prey, isn't very big. She's skinny, and shorter than Miczariel, and definitely won't provide much of a meal… but as Miczariel comes closer, she realizes that this is not food. Miczariel can feel it deep in her foreign bones, this person is not to be eaten.

"You," the word hisses between Miczariel's skeletal teeth- her voice hoarse and raspy, like nails on a chalkboard- as she stops just a few feet away from the girl, but she doesn't get an answer from the girl- nor was Miczariel expecting one. The only thing Miczariel actually receives from the terrified mortal before her is a surgical tray to the face. It doesn't hurt, well.. it does hurt a little, and it sure as hell startles Miczariel more than she's going to ever admit. Miczariel stumbles back, giving the girl just enough time to scramble to her feet. 

"Help! Help!" The girl shrieks. "Madison, help!" But this Madison, whoever Madison is, doesn't come. Miczariel cradles her nose, glowering beneath her brow, as she slowly turns to the screaming girl. 

"That…" Miczariel begins slowly, testing her voice. Her throat is raw and her voice hoarse from lack of use. "Fucking… hurt…" the girl's eyes widen comically. She grabs something shiny from the counter- it's a small knife, nothing that can really hurt Miczariel. She waves it at Miczariel, trying her best to imitate a threatening stance. 

"S-stay back!" The girl stammers as Miczariel stalks toward her once more. Maybe before Miczariel had felt… intrigued by the girl's difference that set her apart from prey, but now Miczariel is angry. The girl moves to slash at Miczariel, and in one fluid movement Miczariel grabs the girl by the wrist. The knife is dropped out of fear, those brown eyes oh so close to Miczariel's as the demoness leans in. The girl's scent, mingled with fear, fills Miczariel's nostrils. She smells like peppermint, burning Miczariel's nose- though, in a pleasant way-, and fear. But it's the girl's wrist that catches Miczariel's attention. Upon the girl's wrist is Miczariel's sigil, the familiar mark mimicking Miczariel's own wrist mark. Ah, so this is Miczariel's Summoner, the one who's called her here.

"You." Miczariel repeats, studying the girl's features- her voice more sure, more real . Miczariel sniffs at her summoner gain, the girl going rigid beneath Miczariel's touch. "You brought me here." 

"I don't know what you're talking about!" The sentence leaves the girl's lips in almost a single breath. She flinches away from Miczariel, trying her best to break free from the demon's grip all the while trying to stay as still as possible… it's a weird combination of movements, one Miczariel certainly hasn't seen before. Miczariel twists the girl's wrist to show her the mark. 

"You summoned me." Miczariel states, a little more forcefully. The girl begins to shake, her eyes locking onto the mark fearfully. 

"Please… l-let go," The girl mumbles, casting her eyes away, "you're hurting me." Miczariel releases her grip, not necessarily intending to inflict harm. 

"You summoned me." Miczariel repeats, pointing to her own wrist. "Why?" The question is more forceful and aggressive than Miczariel intends, her voice echoing- though it's not really hers, is it?- through the morgue. She hasn't had to practice her inside voice in quite a long time. 

"I didn't mean to!" The girl says, flinching at Miczariel's tone. "I… I swear! I don't know who you are, I didn't know that the spell would.. would bring you here!" 

Miczariel nearly sneers, "You read an ancient text without knowing who it’d wake up? That’s the most foolish thing I’ve heard in a long time.”

"L-look," the girl is trying to be brave now, her brow furrowing as she attempts to stand up to Miczariel- which, Miczariel does have to give the girl credit for-, "if this is… is a problem for you I'll.. I can just try to get you back to where you came from, okay? I… won't bother you anymore," 

"You think it's that simple?" Miczariel laughs, a humorless noise. "You can't send me back , not unless you're planning on dying. What did you sacrifice, Girl? Blood? Hair? Bone?" 

"Blood," The girl says, breathless, as she backs herself into the table where the body Miczariel had jumped over earlier lies, "I… sacrificed blood." Miczariel stares at the body behind the girl- it's male, poorly stitched together, with a pentagram of blood on his chest.

"A sacrifice?" Miczariel asks dryly, smirking. "For me? I'm flattered. But it was stupid of you to do this. You're lucky I'm reasonable, Girl." Miczariel is almost fully healed now, the body she's now bound to adjusting itself to best suit Miczariel's essence. For a moment, Miczariel thinks the girl's eyes dart toward Miczariel's bare chest. 

"I… I didn't do it on purpose," The girl reminds Miczariel a millisecond later, "please… just let me send you back!" Miczariel leans close to the girl, their noses brushing together, as Miczariel looks deep into the girl's eyes; scanning for any lie, any truth… but it seems the girl is telling the truth, no matter how naïve she sounds. 

"You don't seem to comprehend your situation," Miczariel snarks, "but I suppose I can humor you. You can't send me back, witch, you will never be able to send me back. I am part of you now." Miczariel's fingertip runs along the girl's jawline, her black eyes shimmering once more as the whites return and the irises take on an icy blue. 

"What are you? Who are you?" The girl croaks.

"I am Miczariel," The demoness grins, "and you are mine." 


 

Zoe's hands shake as she grips the steering wheel of the dead morgue employee's car. The thing in the passenger seat beside her had killed the employee just moments before, making quick work of him, like he was nothing more than a steak or a burger. Zoe's eyes nervously dart toward it , her heart racing in her chest. The thing's eyes slowly roll to meet Zoe's, a lazy smirk finding its way upon the creature's lips. It looks human, feels human, and seems human… but Zoe knows it isn't. 

It's name is Miczariel, she remembers, and the name sends chills down Zoe's spine. 

"You…" Zoe licks her lips uneasily, "you killed that guy." 

"And?" Miczariel asks, bored with the conversation already. Miczariel folds her arms, the muscles tensing beneath her skin, against her chest and glowers at Zoe like a teenager expecting a scolding; yet, her gaze holds all the energy of a careless alley cat. Miczariel’s dressed in the morgue employee’s clothes now, reeking of death and God knows what else, pouting like an angry toddler. Zoe’s not sure what Miczariel has to pout about, but whatever it is Miczariel is heavily dwelling on it. 

"And that's bad." Zoe says dumbly, not sure what else to say. This creature is clearly much older than Zoe, and much less human. 

"I was hungry." Miczariel sighs, glancing out the window of the car. "What was I supposed to do, eat you?" There's something sinister about that smirk now, Miczariel's teeth are just barely visible behind her lips. Zoe looks away nervously, her eyes instinctively widening with fear once more. Miczariel wasn't serious, was she? Surely she wouldn't really eat Zoe… but then again, Miczariel had eaten the morgue guy.

"You can't eat people." Zoe says after a moment, trying to ground herself. "Seriously." 

"Oh really?" Who's going to stop me?" Miczariel's voice is smooth, sultry… enticing, even. "You?"

"I don't know." Zoe huffs. "But you can't.

Miczariel snarls in annoyance, "Fine," she mutters, "but can't I just eat the lady in the back?" 

"What?!" Zoe shrieks, startled, when she feels a hand against her shoulder that definitely isn't Miczariel's. For a moment, Zoe panics; nearly losing control of the car as she shrieks. Out of the corner of her eye, Zoe thinks she sees Miczariel smirking. 

"It's a stowaway," Miczariel confirms, the bored tone seeping into her voice once more, "another of you. " Zoe glances at the rearview window as she wrenches the vehicle under control once more. Two blue eyes peer at Zoe- but they're not cruel, not like Miczariel's. No, this is a curious gaze. 

“So you’re what drew me out here,” The woman murmurs, lax, as she gazes at Zoe before her eyes dart to Miczariel. Miczariel’s ruby lips curl into a wry, wolfish grin as she sizes the stranger up… Zoe doesn’t know why Miczariel’s looking at this lady like that , but Zoe figures she doesn’t want to know. Miczariel sniffs at the lady, reminding Zoe of a feral animal each time Miczariel does this, as the grin continues to inhabit Miczariel’s features. 

“I think she’s lost,” Miczariel practically giggles , “alone, perhaps.”

“Can ya turn around? An’ make a right?” The woman asks. Zoe doesn’t know why she listens to the woman in the back seat, but she does. As soon as she’s able, Zoe makes a U-turn. Her heart is pounding against her chest, her head is swarming with billions of thoughts- none of them good. What if the lady in the backseat means to kill her? What if Miczariel eats the lady in the backseat? What if Miczariel eats Zoe ? Miczariel looks out the window for the longest time, almost oblivious to Zoe and the woman in the back, but while Miczariel’s cannibalistic ways- is she a cannibal? Zoe doesn’t even know if Miczariel is human- run through Zoe’s mind Miczariel turns and grins at Zoe. God, Zoe hates that grin; it’s crazed, wild, and hungry and it scares Zoe.

“Don’t worry,” Miczariel coos at Zoe like she’s talking to a scared animal, “I won’t eat you… well, not yet anyway.” The mortified look on Zoe’s look is apparently exactly what Miczariel wants to see because Miczariel throws her head back and laughs, her eyes glinting either playfully or cruelly- Zoe’s not sure yet, she has no idea what anything means for Miczariel yet. They keep driving until the sun begins to rise. It must’ve been two or three hours, maybe more, but Zoe’s definitely surprised when they reach a small, rundown shack in the middle of nowhere. Miczariel looks as though she could care less, but the woman in the back is certainly grateful Zoe had brought her home. 

“Thank ya,” The woman practically beams as she gets out of the car, “for bringin’ me home. I’m glad I found ya, whatever you were doin’... it called me to ya.”

“Her… foolishness called you?” Miczariel asks wryly, quirking an eyebrow. 

“No…” The woman bites her lips and squints a little, as if looking for the right word. “Her.. magic. I could feel her pulling into the Underworld itself.”

“You felt me resurrect Miczariel?” Zoe asks, though in the corner of her eye she thinks she sees Miczariel wince at the mention of her full name. Miczariel folds her arms against her chest once more, still focusing on the woman- who stares right back.

“Are ya hurt?” The woman squints at Miczariel and her leftover wounds- some of which, mostly the facial ones, are still a little visibile and deep. “I can fix those, if ya want.”

“I’d like that.” Miczariel’s features turn into a small, tight-lipped smile. It looks like she’s being insincere for a moment, but Zoe wonders if Miczariel’s just forgotten how to smile. 

“Well then, come in. What’s yer name?” The woman smiles back, gesturing toward the shack, as she directs her question to Zoe

“Zoe Benson,” Zoe answers and steps out of the car, but Miczariel doesn’t at first. She looks suspiciously at the car door handle, almost glaring at it, and after a moment Zoe realizes Miczariel doesn’t actually know how to use it- she’d partly forgotten that she’d had open the door for Miczariel earlier. 

“You just, uh,” Zoe clears her throat uncomfortably and points at the door handle, “pull it.” Miczariel scowls at the door handle again as she wraps her fingers around the slim handle and yanks it. Zoe winces and definitely hears something in the door break as the door swings open, but Miczariel is unbothered once more; a triumphant look upon her face as she climbs out. The woman leads Zoe and Miczariel inside her spacious, practically empty, shack. Miczariel looks somewhat contented inside, as if she’s been inside it before- or perhaps something similar-, as the woman sits her down on a stool. Miczariel sits obediently, something that definitely surprises Zoe. The woman rummages around for something, and after a moment she produces a bucket filled with green muck. 

“This’ll do the trick.” The woman chirps. She places the bucket by Miczariel and sticks her hand in the green gunk. Moments later, she’s smearing the stuff against Miczariel’s pallid skin. Miczariel sits calmly, almost like a patient being tended to by a doctor. She looks almost human for a moment, but Zoe suspects Miczariel is anything but. 

“Do you think that’ll work?” Zoe asks curiously after a little while, watching as the woman applies the muck to Miczariel’s stomach wound once Miczariel has lifted the fabric of her stolen shirt. 

“Oh, I know it will.” The woman replies, focused on the task at hand. She looks up at Zoe and smiles, “This stuff’s the shit. Literally.” Miczariel wrinkles her nose a little at the mention of this. Apparently, even though Miczariel eats people she’s still opposed to having shit smeared on her face. 

“Shit?” Miczariel half groans, which causes the woman to chuckle.

“Louisiana swamp mud’s filled with spanish moss and alligator dung…” The woman scoops up another handful of her medical shit, “they have amazing healing properties. Mother nature has an answer for everything. I mean, it healed me when I was burned alive.” The woman scoffs, moving to smear the muck on the weird marking on Miczariel’s arm- the one Zoe now shares with her-, but Miczariel shakes her head.

“That won’t heal. It’s not a wound.” Miczariel grunts. So the woman, now finished with tending to Miczariel, gets up to put the muck away. As she does so, something clicks in Zoe’s head. 

“You’re Misty Day?” It’s more of a question than a statement, really, but Zoe asks it nonetheless. “The witch Cordelia told us about? Everyone… thinks you’re dead.” Miczariel looks toward Zoe, quirking an eyebrow curiously. Some part of Zoe thinks she feels Miczariel’s curiosity deep inside her, but Zoe brushes it off. 

“But of course you’re not,” Zoe continues, “you have the power of Resurgence!” Miczariel snorts, amused, but Misty seems more intrigued.

“‘Power of Resurgence’?” Misty echoes, bemused, “I like that.” 

Miczariel climbs to her feet, staring boredly at the swamp mud clinging to her skin. She sneers at it, perhaps wondering when she can rub it off, but Zoe ignores Miczariel once more as Misty continues.

“Y’know, we’ve so much to teach each other, Zoe.” Misty says, staring at Zoe in wonder.

“Maybe we do,” Zoe supplies with a nod, finally looking over at Miczariel- who’s touching the mud curiously- before she turns her attention back to Misty.

“I knew there were others like me.” Misty concludes as she sets the mud away, smiling at Zoe. “But I had no idea how to find you… and then today, I was meditatin’ in the woods when my heart started racing and my teeth started vibratin’. Somethin’ was callin’ to me, I had no idea what it was but I knew I had to follow it… and it was you, Zoe.”

“And me,” Miczariel grumbles, apparently not keen on being left out.

“And you.” Misty adds, still smiling, as she stands in front of Zoe. Zoe takes a small step back, a little uncomfortable, but Misty passes her by and sits upon her bed. “Your magic brought me there, Zoe.. and I’m grateful, ‘cause now I’m not alone.” There’s music playing in the background, and Miczariel is vaguely aware of Zoe asking about it, but her attention is drawn elsewhere. There’s a deep pull in Miczariel’s gut, like someone’s hooked her and they’re reeling her in. Miczariel is momentarily disoriented, but she’s drawn back when Zoe’s hand touches Miczariel’s shoulder. Involuntarily, Miczariel jerks away and glares at Zoe; her lips pulling back to show her teeth. Zoe takes a step back, startled, but she speaks nonetheless.

“I… should be headed back. My school’s gonna.. Be worried about me. They’re probably wondering where I am…” Zoe glances at Misty, then back at Miczariel. “I just gotta find out what to do with…” She gestures at Miczariel, who grumbles and folds her arms against her chest again. Zoe wonders if that’s Miczariel’s defense mechanism, but she doesn’t ask about it.

“Oh, she can stay with me. I’ll heal ‘er.” Misty offers, but Miczariel shakes her head.

“That’s not a good idea.” Miczariel responds. “Besides, with the… swamp shit, and my abilities, I should be find within the next… oh, the next half hour or so. But I can’t stay here.”

“I don’t know if you can come with me,” Zoe says sheepishly, “you’re-”

“I can and I will.” Miczariel snaps, cutting Zoe off. “You brought me here, you summoned me here. Remember? You are mine, and I am not leaving you… and you are not leaving me. ” Zoe appears to be a little frightened at Miczariel’s sudden outburst. She flinches at Miczariel’s tone and glances at the floor. Misty appears to be a little surprised too, except she actually cuts in.

“You shouldn’t talk to her like that,” Misty says, frowning at Miczariel, “she brought you back.”

“I’m well aware.” Miczariel growls. “I am back, thanks to her, and she’s not about to pawn me off. So let’s go.”

“Fine.” Zoe snaps back. “You can come with me. But we’re going to lay down some rules, okay?”

Miczariel’s glare turns to another grin, one that makes Zoe even more uneasy than the others, “You can lay down your rules all you want, but there is only one rule I’ll ever follow: learn the rules, so I can break them.”