It was a quiet neighborhood filled with cookie-cutter houses. Each painted a different color, with slight variations here and there, but all essentially the same. This was where the chase took place. It was the time of night when everybody was asleep. The moon was full and bright, illuminating the streets. It was just enough light to guide the two figures that raced across well-tended lawns.
The hunted ran with uneven movements, someone who had clearly not been chased in such a manner before. Someone not used to running in general. He heaved heavy breaths which he let out with groans of pain. Occasional glances back propelled him forward, each glance providing enough motivation to push him forward with just a bit more speed than before. However, even this was starting to fail him as his body wore down.
The dark figure moved with long strides in graceful movements as silent as a shadow. No signs of fatigue. Just another chase.
The hunted cut back behind a house with obvious effort to get over the chain-link fence blocking off the back yard. He paused only a moment to survey his options. Tree. Tree. Pool. swing-set. Another tree. He decided to keep running just in time for his hunter to leap the fence, grabbing the top with one hand and redirecting the momentum in his lower body to propel him to the other side. End of the line.
The victim's head hit the pavement beside the pool with a cracking noise. he was still alive and kicking. Literally. With the light from the pool, this was the first time the breathless prey got a good look at his attacker.
A young man. Early twenties. His shoulder-length hair was pitch black. Same as his tracksuit, stained with red. He held a dagger in his right hand. Also stained red. Flecks of red dotted his pale face, some dots trailing down his chin.
"What do you want from me?!" the victim exclaimed.
"Nothing you can't spare, I assure you," the young man replied in the type of chilling voice expected of any knife wielding, blood stained man looming over his next victim. "Nothing personal. It's just my job."
The other rolled over and attempted to stand.
"Useless," the attacker muttered, tossing a piece of loose cement. It hit its mark, knocking the victim out cold. He sauntered over to survey the body. Still breathing. Letting out an annoyed sigh, he crouched beside the body and muttered, "Such a fighter."
"Enough!" another figure flew over the fence, clearing the span of the yard in a fraction of a second. A hand caught the attacker's knife-wielding hand. "That's enough," the figure said in a softer voice.
"You're a nuisance, Emmett," the raven haired young man hissed.
"I'm not the one killing people," Emmett stated.
"I have no choice."
"Not like this. This is murder. Get it in your head already!" Emmett exclaimed.
"Does it matter?" he said with disinterest.
"I've had it," Emmett crouched down, "With you," he grabbed the other around the shoulders, "And this stupid 'repercussion side effect!'" With that, he pulled the killer and himself into the pool. Under the surface, Emmett coughed on the chlorinated water. He hadn't thought this through.
The other drifted in the water with a confused expression his face. He took in the situation after a few moments, grabbed Emmett under he arms and kicked to the surface.
"Up," he groaned, trying to heave the man onto the pavement. When he finally had enough success for Emmett to not fall back into the water, he pulled himself onto the pavement and dragged Emmett up all the way. He stared at him in a slight panic.
"Emmett? Hey," seeing that he wasn't breathing, he gave Emmett a shake, "Hey... come on, bro! If I have to give you mouth-to-mouth, it's going to be really weird!"
As though on cue, Emmett started coughing. His eyes snapped open for a moment and then closed in pain. He rolled over and proceeded to vomit while still coughing up chlorinated water.
"Y-you okay?" the raven-haired boy asked with slow, cautious words.
"You," Emmett turned to him with a sharp gaze.
"Hm!" the other straitened up, concern transforming into fear.
"This is getting out of hand!"
"You need to get this under control, Kyle. Otherwise, we'll have to move again."
Kyle gave a nod, staring down at his hands, "I'm trying. I swear I am."
"I know," Emmett sighed and stood. He offered a hand to Kyle, "Try harder."
Kyle gave a weak smile and took Emmett's hand, "Right."
Emmett eyed the unconscious man and nodded toward him, "You should finish your assignment. The right way. None of this," he gestured to the red stains spread across Kyle's clothes, "Bloody stabbing crap."
"Yeah, yeah," Kyle nodded and turned to face the body, "It'll be a minute."
"Always is," Emmett muttered, raising his chin as he inhaled. "Do you smell that?" he started looking around.
"What?" Kyle turned his head to look at him.
"That," Emmett was staring across the pool.
"Hm?" Kyle followed Emmett's line of sight and jumped with surprise. A person.
A girl probably in her late teens, to be more specific. Pretty face, auburn hair. She was staring back at them.
"What do you know?" she mused, "I smelled blood, but I didn't expect to find live people."
"Uuh," Kyle glanced between the two of them, "Emmett, this is the first time this has happened. What-"
"Quiet," Emmett growled, focusing his gaze, calculating. The moon was to his back. They could clearly see her face, but she couldn't see much more than their outlines. His advantage.
"Necrophilia is frowned upon in these parts," the girl said with a sly grin, eyes on Kyle.
"I don't have that kind of creepy fetish!" Kyle exclaimed.
"Meaning he does have other kinds of creepy fetishes," Emmett remarked.
"No, I don't!" Kyle stared at him, "Whose side are you on?!"
The girl glanced between the two of them.
"Eyes forward," Emmett ordered Kyle. His eyes were still locked onto the girl.
"Bro, tell me you don't feel threatened by this chick..."
"Eyes," Emmett stated, loud enough for her to hear.
"Oh? You can tell?" she raised an eyebrow, "From over there? In this light?"
Kyle squinted and stared until he saw what Emmett meant, "Dude! Yellow and slit irises! Bad sign!"
"Mmhmm," Emmett hummed, "Tall for a girl. I wouldn't be surprised to see a couple extra sets of canines."
"Hah! Rare to see someone who still believes those fairytales," she scoffed. Her gaze sharpened, "But I'd rather people not know that about me, so-" fire flared up around her hands, "Adieu." The flames spread and shot forward, engulfing everyone in it. "Hm! Now," The girl allowed her hands to drop to her side until the flames cleared away. Her eyes widened and she took a fighting stance.
"That could have been dangerous, dragon," Emmett stated, standing between her and Kyle.
Kyle's eyes shifted between Emmett and the girl, hands shaking from the surprise.
"Sit this one out," Emmett stated, eyes not leaving the girl.
"Sounds good," Kyle nodded, "But... She could be anywhere between B-rank or D-rank for all we know. You really gonna fight...?"
"What do you think?" Emmett smirked, "It's been decades since I last met one."
"Okay then," Kyle shrugged and sat down indian-style next to his victim. He stared at the unconscious man and pointed with his thumb to his older brother, "Can you believe this guy? I finally get an interesting assignment, and he still gets the limelight."
The girl watched the boys with a confused expression, "I don't think you realize how serious a fight with a dragon is."
"I think I have an idea," Emmett said with a shrug.
Letting out a huff of frustration, the girl held up a hand again, shooting fire at Emmett. He grinned in response and mocked her stance, fire also spiraling forth from his hand. The flames met over the pool, creating a fireball that took a few moments to disperse.
"Wha-," the girl stared with wide eyes.
Emmett smiled a harmless smile and extended a hand as though expecting a handshake despite the span of the pool between the two of them, "Emmett Windfield. Trained by a descendant of the Third, and a dragon. Sup?"
The girl grimaced and took a step back.
Kyle raised his hand, "Kyle Windfield," he pointed to Emmett, "What he said, except for the dragon part. I'm a shadow and a recently appointed Guardian. In case anyone cares." The three of them stared at each other as though waiting for something to happen.
"Your turn," Kyle stated, eyeing the stranger, "And hurry up before this guy wakes up. Tonight's assignment was to take this dude's life and bring it back to my boss. My compensation for this one is supposedly a sword, and I really could use one."
The girl took a hesitant step back and paused a moment before turning on her heel and sprinting full-speed away from them.
"Nice meeting you-" Kyle let out a breathy noise and waved, "I look forward to getting future letters." He paused and looked up at his brother, "Not chasing after her?"
Emmett stared after the girl, arm still extended. He stood in contemplative silence, weighing the options, and let his hand drop to his side, "No." He sighed and looked up at the stars, "She seems harmless enough."
"Hm," Kyle nodded. The two of them sat in silence, Kyle staring forward into the distance and Emmett staring upward.
Emmett's eyes shifted to the unconscious man, "You should finish your job."
"Right," Kyle set his hands on his knees and stood up, "Thanks for reminding me."
"Mm," Emmett folded his arms, looking back up at the stars.
Kyle stood over the victim and held out his hands as a light circle surrounded the body, "In the name of Erubahn, blah blah blah, mystic-like crap and ritualistic chanting," he flailed his arms about, "Release." The body started glowing until it became a white light that faded away, leaving just a small sphere of light that floated into Kyle's hands. "Be free, little birdie," Kyle muttered with a tone that showed just how uninterested he was in this part of his job. He raised his hands and parted them in a showy, sweeping motion as the light dispersed and faded away.
Kyle watched the lights and turned to his brother, taking in a breath as though about to say something. Observing Emmett's vacant expression, he closed his mouth and followed his brother's line of sight. Seeing nothing special, he stepped closer and squinted up at the sky. He leaned over and whispered, "What are we looking at?"
"The same sky," Emmett replied.
"Hm?" Kyle made a face and looked between the sky and his brother, "Ya sure..?"
"I don't know anymore," Emmett muttered and let out a long breath. He paused and turned his attention to Kyle, "Done?"
Kyle looked at the vacant space where his victim was previously and gave a nod, "Sure, let's go with that."
"Hm," Emmett chuckled, "Then let's go home."
"Good idea," Kyle stretched and followed his brother's lead, "Why didn't I think of that?"
Emmett shook his head, smiling.
"What?" Kyle took a few hurried steps to walk beside his brother.
"You're the same as ever."
"Yes," Kyle said with a slow nod, "We're both proud I lost no limbs in that adventure. Did you expect something to be missing?"
"Nah, I'm just overthinking things."
"Huh," Kyle nodded again and followed Emmett's gaze straight ahead. He thought for a moment and asked, "How do normal people talk to you?"
"Of course not," Kyle sighed and tried a different approach, "How did the others deal with you?"
" 'The others' referring to..?"
"Ben, Hanna, A-Anamerie," Kyle's voice cracked, "Darion... Or Lucium. How about her? You get along well enough with her!"
Emmett chuckled, "Lucium grew up with me."
"If you can call that growing up," Kyle interjected.
"Hahaha! Fair enough," Emmett laughed, "As for Darion and Hanna, neither of them really spoke much in general."
"Ben just said whatever came to mind," Emmett continued, "I never really knew what to do with him, and Anamerie," he trailed off and his smile faded.
"Hm?" Kyle took an extra step after his brother stopped.
Emmett stared at the ground, "Anamerie just..." He looked back up at the sky, "She..."
"Was Anamerie?" Kyle finished, "And she always knew just what to say."
"Mmhm," Kyle nodded and pressed his lips together, thinking before he added, "I'm not Anamerie, so you'll have to help me out here. I don't do the whole motherly-nurturing thing."
Emmett cracked a faint smile, "I would hope not. You're fine as you are."
Kyle furrowed his brow when his brother eyed him, "Don't get all touchy-feely on me, dude. I don't care that we aren't blood; I don't swing that way."
Emmett laughed and turned toward home, "Of course."
"Mmkay," Kyle paused and walked beside Emmett at a distance, "As long as we're clear on that. Don't need to wake up with your arms around me..."