Hehe thank you very much for the comment Tombow
I appreciate it a lot.
And after a long, long time...I finally have a new chapter up for the story, enjoy! Alternative Choice.By Rebecca Mason.Authors Notes: Emily's death seriously shook poor Shou up...and as time goes by, just how will the fourteen year old be able to cope with only a tabby cat for company and without the mother he held so dear?
It should also be known that this is my longest chapter yet...so be prepared for a fairly lengthy read.
And again, many apologies for taking so long in getting this particular chapter done. ^^;
Shou Tucker belongs to Hiromu Arakawa.
Laura McKenzie, Jack McKenzie, Aaron Magnus, Alexis Hetworth, Michael Hughes, Samuel Hunton, Jacob, Tigerlily, and Emily Tucker belong to me ( Rebecca Mason)
Mortimer Larke and Julius Loxias belong to Skye.Chapter 6.
A trip down memory lane part 2.
Ghosts from the past.
In the days that came and went after that, Shou made no effort to try and relive any of the events that happened; what was the point?
The loneliness in the house was too much to bare, sure so it only affected him slightly when Jacob had left home.. but now that Emily wasn't there, the silence was extremely noticable.
Tigerlily was still there and Shou loved her very much, but there was only so much comfort in having an animal companion.. it still wasn't the same as having someone else to talk to, it was times like this that Shou wished that all animals could talk in human language..but that wish wasn't exactly going to happen anytime soon.
He hadn't been able to sleep properly at night either, everytime he closed his eyes; the dream would soon consist of his mother..and in every single dream, it soon became a nightmare that resulted in him losing her all over again..and every single time he awoke from such a dream, he was drenched in cold sweat.
His mother's death really had affected him badly, and it continued to do so for weeks on end.
One time he was sitting in an armchair in the living room; there was mirror that reflected into the kitchen..he looked into it and actually thought he could see his mother standing in the kitchen.
' It..it can't be!
' Shou thought to himself, his eyes had widened in shock and beads of sweat had started to trickle down his face.
Naturally, he had then shot up out of the chair and looked into the kitchen to see if his mother was there; only to find that she wasn't..and when he looked back into the mirror, Emily was no longer reflected in it.
" It was just my mind playing tricks on me.." he muttered, wiping his forehead before sitting back down in the arm-chair; however he was still feeling somewhat shaken up.
After that incident however, just being in the house had started to make Shou uncomfortable.
His imagination had began to get the better of him as he sometimes thought he heard his mother's voice call out to him.. or other times, he used to hear the dreaded cough.
" I don't know how much more of this I can stand Tigerlily.." the teenager said one evening as he was petting his beloved cat.
" Just being in this place is like being trapped in place of memories.. yet.." he paused at that before speaking up.
" I refuse to leave this place.. even though it's doing me no good..am I really alright, girl?"
Tigerlily just mewed in response, she hadn't sensed anything out of the ordinary.
Cats and dogs could often pick up on any supernatural activity that went on.. but as far as she was concerned, everything was just fine..the only thing she could sense was how frightened Shou was.
After a moment's silence Shou decided that it was enough for a day and decided to have an early night, patting the sides of his legs as a message for Tigerlily to get off his lap; the fourteen year old boy smiled when she did just that.
" Good girl Lil, come on now.. let's go to bed and just hope that thing's are better tomorrow, huh?" at least.. that's what Shou wished for, at the moment 'hope' was the only thing Shou could do..wherever things finally turned in his favour however, was another question entirely.
Outside, although it was around seven o'clock in the evening; the sun looked as if it was going to stay up for a while longer...it had puzzled Shou at first.. but then he realised that nearly three whole months had passed since Emily's death and the start of Summer was more or less just round the corner.
' Even though you're gone mother.. the rest of the world still carries on with it's daily duties, yet..why do I find it so hard to do just that?
' once the two of them had reached the bedroom, Shou just gazed out of the window for a few minutes.
' Is it because I've stayed in this house all this time? have I just been treating it as if it was my own personal shelter from everyone and everything else?..
" But if that's the case..then all I've really been doing is stopping myself from moving forward.." he said outloud, a deep sigh escaping from his mouth as he spoke.
Eventually he made his way over to the bed and practically threw himself down onto the soft bed cover then just laid there, not even bothering to get dressed into his pyjama's.. he felt as Tigerlily jumped up onto his bed and curled up beside him to go to sleep, followed by the sound of her soft purring.. that put young Shou at ease slightly.
In the young Shou's mind, his adult version was beginning to have serious doubts about resting up for the night.. ' I don't know if I should go to sleep.. with all of those strange things that have been happening lately, it's bound to affect me in some way..
' however as the hour pressed on, he began to find himself in a losing battle as the younger version of himself had started to slowly drift off to sleep.
" I've heard that alchemy can bring the dead back to life.." the young teenager tiredly said out of the blue..although whether he was saying it to Tigerlily or himself was anyone's guess.
" People say that it's forbidden.. but I don't understand why, I mean wouldn't people be happy if their deceased loved ones came back to life to be with them again? .....I know I would.." he then yawned widely before closing his eyes.
"..Then everything would go back to how things used to be, then Mom and me would be happy again.." Shou trailed off as he finally fell asleep, the sleepiness had finally set in and it seemed like nothing was going to wake the young lad from his slumber..
It must of been several hours later when Shou finally awoke, from what he could tell it was now the middle of the night seeing as the world had seemingly been thrown into darkness both outside and in.. the only source of light came in the form of a street lamp that was beside the house.. but even that didn't light up the room much.
Nothing seemed to be out of place, although Tigerlily didn't seem to be on the bed anymore.. but Shou put that down to the fact that maybe she had gone to her basket.....however as he sat up in bed, something just didn't seem to feel right.
He couldn't help but get this feeling that he wasn't completely alone, like there was a presence in the room with him.. but it wasn't Tigerlily ( if she was there at all, that is) and it started to un-nerve the young teenager.
" Ti-Tigerlily?" Shou asked, sounding slightly feeble as he looked out into the darkness of the rest of the room.. now that his pale blue eyes were finally getting used to the darkness, it didn't seem as if anything was out of place.
However.. it was then that he heard it; the sound of faint breathing going all around the room..and it wasn't stopping once; Shou knew that it definately wasn't him because whoever was breathing seemed to sound rather short of breath.
" Who's there?!" Shou called out into the darkness, looking around frantically as he tried to find the source of the breathing..so far he wasn't having any luck in doing so.
He then frowned as he began to wonder if maybe, his friends had came into the house after he'd gone to bed and decided to play a joke on him..afterall, it wasn't everyday that Shou Tucker went to bed early.
" Guys.. if you're just trying to scare me then it's not working!" he snapped, starting to sound somewhat annoyed..however in actual fact he was absolutely terrified and was currently clutching his bed cover very tightly in an effort to calm himself.
However the breathing didn't stop and that just made Shou even more scared than he already was, if it really had been his friends..they probably would of switched on the room's light and just laughed at him while saying something along the lines of 'fooled you!' ( sometimes being the youngest in a group of four boys was nothing but pure torture..particulary when it came to pranks) .. or maybe this was a new tactic of theirs.
" Sam?" he called out, no answer.. " Julius?.." again no answer.. but the breathing continued on.
Shou gulped audibly and waited a few seconds before calling out into the darkness again.
" Morty?.." and for the third time, there was no answer; much to Shou's ever growing fear.
The more he listened to the breathing, the more Shou realised that it actually sounded feminine..
But before he could say anything, the breathing stopped and finally a voice sounded within the darkness.
Shou's eye pupils must of shrunk at that... that voice was one that he reconised only too well.
" Mo-mom?" was all he managed to say in a squeaky tone.
' It's probably just my imagination..
' he thought, desperately trying to stay calm.. he wasn't having much luck in doing so though.
" Shou, could you be a dear and switch the light on for me? it's been a while since I saw you last.." the voice then seemed to chuckle lightly.. but it seemed so different to how Emily's chuckling had been, there was some kind of nasty undertone to it that Shou really didn't like.
" What's wrong? don't tell me you don't want to see your dear old mother? having a conversation in the dark isn't very polite you know"
' It's not that I don't want to see you, I want to see you more than anything.. I just don't want to see the condition that you might be in now
' the boy thought to himself as he looked towards the place where the voice was coming from, he could clearly see the outline of his mother.. but the thought of seeing her made him shiver.
She had afterall, been dead and buried for three months; surely her body would of started to decompose by now? Shou didn't really wish to find out..
Yet at the same time ( much to adult Shou's horror) the teenager had got out of bed and was now starting to stumble over to the lightswitch.. he couldn't stand it any longer, the temptation to see his mother was becoming too great.
' I know I shouldn't give in so easily.. but I've missed her so much, I just can't help it..
' he thought to himself.
' I need to make sure... I need to make sure that it's really her!
Had he of had his own solid body, the adult version of Shou would of screamed in an effort to stop his younger self from sealing his seemingly approaching fate, yet he could only do that inwardly as the boy had finally found the lightswitch...and hadn't hesistated in flicking it on.
The ceiling's light could only illuminate so much of the room, due to the lamp-shade that was on it; so a lot of the bedroom was still in shadow..yet it finally showed the source that was behind the voice..
Emily just sat there on a chair beside Shou's bed, her chestnut brown hair tied up in that same old loose ponytail, on her face was that same gentle and calming smile that Shou loved so much; although at the moment she was looking down and smoothing out some wrinkles in her denim coloured skirt so he couldn't see her eyes.. but it really was her and she didn't seem to be rotting at all!
" Mom, it's really you!" he blurted out and ran over to her with his arms outstretched, happy tears had already started to form in his eyes.. it was too good to be true, but heck he wasn't complaining!
Pretty soon, Shou was hugging his mother and resting his head on her shoulder; the tears were really streaming now, the relief and pure euphoria of seeing his mother again after three months had proved to be too much for him.
" Me and Tigerlily have missed you so much.."
Emily said nothing at first, but soon just started to stroke her son's hair softly.
" I understand how you must feel sweetheart.." she paused for a while before sighing in despair, what was she disappointed about all of a sudden?
"..But I never thought you'd resort to anathema.."
That got young and adult Shou alike; to freeze in shock... what was Emily trying to say exactly?
" Anathema?... you..you mean as in a taboo?" he asked..only to have his mother nod in response, she still wasn't facing him properly.
' But to commit a taboo, I would of had to perform a human transmutation..' he thought to himself, frowning slightly.
" I've been in bed all this time Mom.. how could I of brought you back if I was fast asleep?"
Emily just let out a sigh and finally pulled out of the hug.. was she upset with him?
" Shou.. how could you even bring yourself to lie to me like that?" she finally looked at him.. and it was then that he saw her face fully..
The complexion of her skin was horribly pale and underneath her eyes, it seemed to be a dark shade of purple...Shou tried as hard as he could to look away, but something made him look up at her eyes.
They were still blue.. but there was no shine in them at all; they were just lifeless and unfeeling in their appearance.. and it didn't help matters that her pupils were tiny dots in the middle of the iris's, it gave her the look of a posessed person at best..and a living corpse at worst.
" But Mom, I'm not lying!" came the teenager's frightened murmur; he had started to back away from her as he saw the scowl that had now appeared on his mother's face, it was a truely horrid expression for Emily to pull...
' She's not my mother.. she was never like that, even when she was angry..
' Shou thought as he kept walking backwards..only to stumble and fall into something.
" Ack!" the next thing he knew, he was facing the ceiling and there seemed to be two 'walls' at each side of him.
After that he just heard his 'mother' laugh like a mad-woman followed shortly by the sound of footsteps coming towards the thing that Shou had fallen into.. pretty soon she was just standing there, overlooking him.
" Of course you are! since that thing you're currently reclining in happens to be my coffin" Emily said quite plainly, only to sigh in exasperation when her son started panicking and scrambling around in order to get out.
She finally grabbed his hand and pulled him up quite forcefully.. and once Shou was standing upright, the thirty-something woman just shook her head sadly.
" You used Human Transmutation in order to bring me back because you missed me..I can understand that.." her expression had softened a little by now.. but she still looked terribly ill.
" But it's done nothing to get rid of the ailments that plagued me in life..Shou, I still suffer from that horrid disease.. and you've brought it all back by bringing me back"
Shou was beginning to wonder if this was really just a nightmare or not.. maybe his mother really was telling him the truth but it was just something that he was trying to deny..wasn't it? but then again, this 'woman' who appeared to be his mother kept switching between Emily's original sweetness to a much more volatile version, and it was seriously starting to confuse the young boy.
At her words about still having the disease however, his eyes widened in shock..if this woman was indeed his mother then he wasn't going to lose her to illness again, he'd see to that!
" Mom, we can go and see a doctor this time.. now that you're back we can get you seen to and you'll be healthy again!" he looked to her with a hopeful look in his pale blue eyes.
He then grabbed ahold of her hands ( they felt so cold!) and started to run along towards the bedroom door, however he soon found that she didn't seem to want to go and looked around to her.
" You brought me back Shou.. so I'm your responsibility" was the only thing Emily responded with before she started to have one of her horrendous coughing fits and leaving her son to do nothing but look on in shock at her.
Each cough seemed to get more severe than the previous every single time..and pretty soon she had slumped down onto the floor, shoving Shou away from her just so she could cover her mouth with both her hands.
Shou bit his bottom lip as he looked down at her pathetic body-frame, his eyebrows went up in worry as he now had a feeling of guilt.
" I do want to help you Mom.. but I'm not a doctor, you know that.." he muttered in a regretful tone.
" I don't know the first thing about medical procedures, I'm only fourteen years old for goodness sakes! ..what if I was to mess something up and ended up losing you all over again?"
' Mother, why can't you see that a doctor would do better at curing you than I ever could? I'm just a kid, I'm not a genius..
Emily just looked up at Shou with those lifeless eyes of hers, the current expression she was pulling almost made it look like she'd been betrayed by her own son.. it was one of pure horror.. however that only lasted for a few seconds before she started to cough even more violently than before, blood had now started to come from her mouth and it didn't look like it was going to stop anytime soon.
The next time she managed to get the coughs under control.. she looked to Shou with an unfeeling and rather chilling gaze.
" Having a weak-will is not a good thing to have, my boy.." her tone of voice had dropped down to sounding really bitter, it was getting too much for Shou to handle.
" If you keep on doubting yourself, you'll never get anywhere in life.."
But she hadn't stopped there, when she noticed that Shou had started to back up towards the door; she just let loose with a half hearted chuckle.
" You said that you wanted me back.. but now you're abandoning me? you're abandoning your own mother?! just what kind of person are you?"
" I'm a person who wants to make sure that his mother is in safe and reliable hands!" Shou snapped back at her harshly, in reality he never would of done such a thing to his own mother.. but this woman was nothing like Emily and she had put so much pressure on him, he was bound to do such a thing.
He then reached the door and practically stormed out into the hallway, his hands had started to shake from the stress.. why was everything going wrong all over again?
" Shou, if you thought that things were going to go back to the way they used to be; then I regret to tell you that will never happen!" he heard Emily call out from the bedroom.
" The world just doesn't work like that sweetheart.. even you should be old enough to understand that"
Shou had soon reached the front door but stopped for a while, taking in Emily's words.. she was right in some aspects and he did understand what she was saying, but it didn't mean that he had to agree with her fully.
" Maybe that is true..." he started to turn the handle and smiled a little as the door opened to the outside.
" ..But you said so yourself, you're my responsibility..so I'm going to do what I should of done all those months ago and get that illness of yours treated by someone who knows what they're doing.."
Before Emily could shout out anything else that would dishearten him, Shou ran outside onto the cobblestone streets.. unfortunately it was still dark outside and the street lamps only lit up so much in their dull golden light, giving the whole street a slightly creepy look to it; it didn't help matters that there was hardly anyone about.. so it was completely silent.
Gulping slightly as he looked around at the scenery, the teenager just sighed and started to walk forwards.
' You're not a little kid anymore Shou..you know that the dark can't hurt you and there's no monsters hiding within it that can grab you and pull you to your doom..
' he mentally told himself as he walked along the quiet street.
This brought back so many memories of when he was little.. back when he believed that there was a monster in his closet; he had even claimed to his parents that he had seen it more than once.. but they had just told him that it was his imagination.
One night he had awoke to find it sitting at the end of his bed; only for it to go back into the closet when he'd screamed his little lungs out for his parents to come into the room..and another night it had followed him to his parents bedroom.. but had backed off, growling in defeat when Shou had crawled into his parents bed for safety.
But as time had gone on, he became convinced by his parents that it was all in his mind.. Jacob had once told Shou that the mind was a powerful thing and maybe that particular 'monster' was living proof on what the mind could create..
However, if that monster wasn't real..then why did thinking about it send shivers down Shou's spine even now?
No, now wasn't the time to remember childhood fears; he had more important stuff to worry about!
Of course.. that didn't stop him from becoming nervous as he heard his footsteps echo on the ground.. it almost sounded as if someone was following him..and the faster he walked along, the faster the footsteps seemed to go.
As the fear kept on rising within him, the only thing he could do was try and mentally reassure himself that he had nothing to be afraid of.
' There's no-one there, it's just your imagination.. there's no-one there, so don't look around.. there's no-one..
' his thoughts paused as he found himself looking around.. just to make sure, sure enough no one was there which just made him sigh in relief.
" There.. nothing to be afraid of afterall.." he muttered as he then looked ahead of him again and smiled in relief as he saw the doctor's clinic at the end of the street; it looked as if the lights were on so the doctor hadn't gone home yet, things were finally starting to look up!
He then broke into a run and carried on until he finally reached the building.
Once there, he didn't hesistate in knocking on the door like a mad-man; only to jump back when the door opened to reveal a woman in her thirties with dark blonde hair that was tied up in a bun with two loose strands of hair coming down just in front of her ears..
Shou reconised this woman as Laura McKenzie, a woman who had started her career as a mid-wife nearly seventeen years ago.. and while she hadn't helped with delievering Shou personally, she had helped with the delievery of Samuel Hunton; a friend of his who lived down the other side of the street... and in a slightly nicer district.
Laura just looked to Shou standing there in the doorway, her grey eyes seemed to have a look of curiousity in them..which quickly changed to a look of anger.
" Shou, just what are you doing outside at this time of night?" she asked and folded her arms slightly.
Even though he was starting to grow fairly fast now, Shou was still just a kid to her and should of been in bed by this hour at least.
" I...I apologise Ms. McKenzie, but I really need a doctor.." he then pointed in the direction of his house, he had to tell her what was wrong before she tried to usher him away from the clinic.
" It's just that my mother needs seeing to and I was wondering if you or your husband could-" he trailed off as Laura's expression went from slight anger to wide-eyed shock, maybe saying that hadn't been such a good idea afterall..considering the recent circumstances.
' Oh great..
However instead of thinking the boy to be a weirdo, Laura just suddenly pulled him into the building ( much to the boy's surprise) and closed the door; once inside she called over to her husband.
" Honey you were right, even Mrs. Tucker has come back from the dead!" the grown woman then ran over to her husband; a raven-haired man with green eyes who was just sitting at a table in the waiting room.
One of Mr. McKenzie's eyebrows raised as he heard what Laura had to tell him and just muttered something incoherent, shaking his head lightly in despair.
" It's almost like we're all being punished for something that was beyond our control" were the only words that Shou could hear properly.
At that point, Laura and her husband just began to talk amongst themselves.. while the young teenager could only stand there with a puzzled expression that grew even more perplexed the longer he listened to them.
' I only wish I knew what was going on here.. I never saw any dead people other than my mother walking around, Mr. McKenzie's probably just had too much to drink
' Shou thought to himself as he then turned his attention to the window with a worried look on his face.
' ..And if I'm not going to get any help here..then I might as well get back to Mom and see if I can help her myself.. I've already kept it too long..she's probably coughing up buckets of blood by now
Shou then reached for the door handle and was just about to open it, when he heard the thunder of footsteps behind him and felt a slight clamping pain on his arm as someone grabbed ahold of it.. it was Mr. McKenzie.
" Whoa now kiddo.. you can't head out there!" the man exclaimed as he looked down at the young boy.
" To do something like that would be like throwing yourself off of a cliff and I won't allow it, especially for someone your age!"
" Well I'm going to go unless you tell me what's going on out there" Shou merely responded, trying hard not to sound too impolite.. but when the person in particular was gripping your arm with such force, it was hard to be cheerful about it.
Laura just watched her husband as he noticably let out a deep sigh and let go of Shou's hand before he started to walk back to where he had been sitting before.
" Take your time Jack.." she softly whispered to him..to which he just nodded in response while Shou also came and sat down.
" It was several hours ago.." Jack started up, the expression on his face completely serious.
" Bodies had started to rise from the dead in the local grave-yard.. and when someone went to investigate what could of happened, they found some sort of circle etched around one particular grave" the middle-aged man paused to briefly scratch the side of his face briefly.. which Laura had once said; was her husband's way of trying to cope with nervousness.
" You mean a transmutation circle?!" Shou asked as he shot a worried glance out of the window once again before looking back to Jack McKenzie.
' So alchemy is behind this afterall, that explains how Mom came back from the dead.. but who could of started all of this in the first place?
' the young teenager thought to himself.. however, something at the back of his mind seemed to tell him that he knew who caused all of this.. but he was going to ignore that for now and just try and find out about the current situation.
" Yes! that's the word I was looking for" Jack replied in an almost eager sounding tone, much to Shou's discomfort.. a tone like that really didn't suit the situation at all.
" It was one of those transmutation circle thing-a-ma-jigs that alchemist's use...although this particular circle was one of a specific design..but I'm no alchemist so I wouldn't know what the heck it meant"
Normally, that would of been enough information for anyone else to just leave it alone.. but Shou Tucker preferred to take things one step further and actually find out about these things for himself, he was a curious boy by nature; always had been and in adult Shou's mind, probably always would be..... and upon hearing what Mr. McKenzie had just told him, that had just fuelled his curiousity even more.
' I know I have my mother waiting back at home.. but surely just having a look at that circle wouldn't hurt...right? ... besides, I'll hurry back home as soon as I've seen it
' he mentally told himself; in his mind that was a justifiable enough reason.....wasn't it?
But the question was... how on earth was he going to get outside when Jack and Laura were being extremely adamant in not letting him go out? his mind wandered as he tried to come up with some kind of escape route.
' I can't get out of one of the recovery or examination rooms; the drop from the windows would be too risky.. sneaking out of the back-door wouldn't work either, they'd definately know I was up to something..
It was then that he noticed the door to the men's toilets and did a small ( though almost sly-looking) smile.
' Perfect...they'd never think twice if I asked about using the toilet.. I'd just have to be really quiet when it came to climbing out of the window, that's all
Without further ado, Shou looked over to the couple as they had gone back to discussing things amongst themselves.. sometimes he really didn't understand married couples; but that came from the unfortunate fact of having only a few faint memories of seeing his parents together before his father decided to leave the home and find a job in alchemy, dare he admit it.. Shou sometimes even felt a little bit jealous to see others who were more fortunate than himself when it came to the topic of family, but he wasn't going to let that eat at him right now.
" Erm.. Mrs. McKenzie, is it alright if I use the toilet? I kind of forgot to go before I came out of my house" Shou asked as the woman in question looked over to him.
" Huh? oh, sure thing sweetie.." came her simple reply as she then turned back to talk to her husband..whatever they were discussing must of been something of high importance.. but most of it was hushed so the young teen couldn't hear what it was about no matter how hard he tried.
" Thank you ma'am" he said politely before hurrying into the bathroom and closing the door behind him, once inside he found a cubicle that was closest to a window and went inside it.
" Now to escape.." he whispered to himself as he slowly clambered up onto the toilet seat and pushed the window open after taking it off of it's catch.
Yet... he hadn't even made his exit from the place and he was already starting to feel guilty for lying to Laura, she was a nice ( although slightly strict) woman who had been friends with his mother.. to be lied to by a dear friend's son just didn't seem right at all, what if she never forgave him?
Sure so he was doing this for his own reasons but this was the only way he could do it, Laura and Jack would never let him out of the surgery while there were supposedly 'zombies' going around, not even if he asked.. and they definately wouldn't let him go back home to his mother.. considering the fact that she was supposed to be dead.
" I'll apologise and give my reasons afterwards.." Shou reassured himself as he then saw that the window was now fully open and started to carefully climb out of the window, all the while trying to be as quiet as possible..
The window turned out to be a little way off of the ground...but it thankfully wasn't anywhere near as high as the windows on the second floor, plus there were thick bushes on the ground that would cushion the teenager's fall.
Not wasting any time, Shou let himself drop down onto the bushes, wincing a little as he heard the snapping of small branches and felt the small coarse leaves of the bush scratch his back and legs as he landed on it...
Fearing that the McKenzie's might of heard the noise from indoors, Shou panicked slightly and scrambled out of the bush as fast as he could before breaking into a run down the street, going in the direction of the grave-yard.
It must of taken around two minutes or so before he finally reached the grave-yard's gates.
However, Shou felt a little cautious about going in at first as Mr.McKenzie's words about the situation kept resurfacing in his head.
" It's impossible.." he just muttered " even if someone was to perform a human transmutation on one grave.. it would just bring back one person, you can't bring a whole grave-yard of people back to life..." he still didn't know that much about alchemy but his mother had told him about the law of equivalent exchange years ago; explaining that it was a law that all alchemist's abided by.
" To give something is to receive something in return.." he recited remembering how Emily had said it, however..something made Shou pause.
" But.. if someone did perform a human transmutation, wouldn't they still have to lose something in order for it to be a complete trade?" so much for gaining courage.. that realisation just made things worse!
Pushing his fears aside for the moment however, the fourteen year old walked into the grave-yard...feeling somewhat glad that the skies were cloudless and the moon was full, it seemed to illuminate the entire place.
Shou Tucker walked on through the lonely place, the gravel on the path crunching beneath his shoes with every step he took; he had to keep a look-out for the grave with the transmutation circle on it..well it wouldn't be hard to spot, that's for sure!
The search for the ominous grave just seemed to go on and on.. and Shou was finding it hard to see if he had made any further progress; to him.. a good lot of the grave-stones all looked the same, not to mention this place was just down-right creepy.
' Maybe this wasn't such a good idea afterall...
' the teenager thought to himself as his fear started to rise again.
' Besides... something about this place doesn't feel right...
Eventually Shou was just about ready to turn around and head back towards the entrance when all of a sudden, he could smell a faint scent of paint... and he knew that a smell such as that could not normally be found in a place such as this.
Letting his curiousity be his guide, Shou walked in the direction where the smell of the paint was coming from...and once he reached his destination; the boy's eyes widened as he looked ahead.
There it was; the grave that Jack McKenzie had talked about, on the grave-stone and the grave itself was a transmutation circle...both had been drawn in red paint, however the circle on the grave had been destroyed due to where someone had dug up the grave.
The young teenager just looked, both in horror and awe, as he knelt down besides the grave to get a better look at the circles; both had intricate designs ( from what he could tell) that seemed very different from the basic transmutation circles that he'd seen in Jacob's alchemy book when he was small.
" It times like this I wish I had brought my sketchbook with me" Shou said with a nervous little chuckle as he studied the circle's details.
" If dad had left his alchemy books at home, I could of looked through the book and found out what both of these circle's symbols stand for..."
After having a good look at deciphering the one on the remains of the grave, Shou then turned his attention to the transmutation circle on the grave-stone; some of the words stood out more than others due to the paint...and it was when he read the name on the grave, that he actually froze in shock. " Emily Daniels-Tucker...born 1858, died 1895; here lies a devoted wife and mother who was taken by a cruel wind of fate, may her soul be welcomed with a heavenly embrace into paradise as her earthly body rests in eternal peace..."
It was then that his 'mothers' words from earlier came back to haunt him, mixing in with what Jack had told him and at the same time; the worrying thought that he'd had before, made it's way back into his consciousness.
" I really did do this..." he muttered, his tone now going up into an almost frightened squeak.
" I'm the one who brought Mom and all those other people back from the dead..."
For a while he just sat there in an almost slumped-like position as his mind seemed to whirl out of control; another part of Shou felt like laughing at himself for ignoring the facts when they were very clear from the start; emotions were bubbling up inside him as he tried to think about what he should do.
Confusion, anger, regret, sadness, helplessness, guilt; these were the emotions he was currently feeling and it was making his heart ache, yet he had managed to stop the tears from falling.
' I just don't understand it... the evidence is there to show that I did do this, but how come I have no memory of doing such a thing?
' both of Shou's young and adult versions thought in unison, it was something that had puzzled them to no end.
He could of remained on that spot all night, trying to find the answer to this bizarre mystery; but the sound of a distant gunshot being fired into the air made the teenager snap back to reality.
" Mom; I have to get back to her!" he exclaimed, remembering what he had told himself earlier about how he was going to go back home after he'd seen the grave.
Getting to his feet quickly, the young teenager broke into a run; not wanting to waste any more time than he probably already had.
' By the sounds of things, people are already starting to take matters into their own hands by using violent means...why can't they understand that the people who came back are still the ones that they loved...
' however he paused at that thought, remembering how his 'mother' had kept switching personalities earlier on...Emily certainly hadn't been like that in life, she just had one warm and loving personality, a woman who had done her best to ensure that her boy grew up happy.
The Emily that had come back had only shown a small part of her original personality...but other than that, she was a completely different woman.
Needless to say, Shou didn't continue with that thought he'd had previously...
The world went by in a blur as Shou ran back to his house as fast as he could, his footsteps echoing once his shoes made contact with the street's road again; a great feeling of relief spread across his face when he finally saw his home come into view.
However....as he got closer, he realised that the front door was open....and he knew for a fact that it hadn't been like that when he'd left.
' Ma-maybe I didn't close it properly..
' he thought nervously to himself, a smile of the same nature forcing it's way across his mouth.. so much for reassurance.
Running into the house; Shou wasted no time in running up the stairs, almost tripping up twice in the process.
" Mom, I'm back! see? I told you I wouldn't be long.." he called out as he entered the bedroom... yet the scene that greeted him made the teenager freeze in shock.
A puddle of blood was on the wooden floor, probably from Emily's coughing fit earlier.. but there was also some furniture that had been upturned, signs of a struggle of some sort was very evident.. and just looking at it sent chills down Shou's spine.
" No...please no..." was all he said as he shook his head in disbelief.
' Just what could of happened here?
' Shou thought to himself as beads of sweat started to form on his forehead.
Had Emily thrown a horrendous tantrum when her son had gone out and, in her rage, just started to wreck the place before going outside by herself? or had someone found her?
He didn't know for sure... but when Shou thought back to the sound of the gun-shot that he'd heard back over at the grave-yard, it just made him panic even more.
In a moment's heart-beat, Shou then turned around and ran down the stairs at full pelt; very nearly crashing into a wall once he'd reached the bottom.
" If she's out there somewhere, I need to find her before anyone else does!" he told himself as he started to run towards the front door.
" That is....if no one's found her already.." he gulped audibly as he set food outside once again.
It seemed to be drawing more towards the new day's dawn outside, the street was illuminated much more than it had been a few hours ago.. making it look a lot less creepier, much to the young teenager's relief...but right now something else was weighing on his mind..
" Where do I go?.." Shou muttered to himself as he frantically looked in either direction of the street.
" Whether Mom was taken by others; or if she walked out by herself.. I still have no idea where she's gone.."
He remained standing on that spot for a few seconds, scratching his head as he tried to pick which direction he could go in, when all of a sudden a familiar voice shouted out his name, he spun around to look as three boys came racing up to meet him; they were his friends and fellow class-mates.
" Morty, Julius, Sam...what are you guys doing out here?" was all he managed to ask.
" What are we doing out here? we were just about to ask you the same thing!" the dark brown haired boy exclaimed, this was Samuel.. he was actually the oldest out of the four, but his lack of height seemed to suggest otherwise; not that he made a fuss about it....much.
" I take it you heard about the dead people walking, huh?" a rather chubby-looking boy with greasy black hair spoke up.
" It's not everyday something screwy happens in this city of ours; so Morty, Sam and me came out here to investigate before everything went back to being boring again" he said, giving a careless shrug.
The last boy, a red-haired freckled youth with a lot of zits; just did a cheeky little grin in response to what the other had said.
" Julius is right about that.. but I also wanted to see if I could study one of the walking dead, it'd be good research for cell-reanimation"
Shou just listened to what each of the boys had to say, visibly grimacing at Mortimer's reason...dead things really didn't entice him at all, especially not now.
' But isn't that just toying with the dead?
' he thought to himself....only to pause at that as realisation hit him once again.
But hadn't he been toying with the dead when he brought his mother back to life? as well as ressurecting those other people.
Who was he to suddenly judge on what was right and wrong when what he did was almost the same thing?....sure so he supposedly did it because he missed his mother rather than for research purposes.. but he had still done it, so he wasn't going to break out into an arguement anytime soon.
However, he wondered how Morty, Sam and Julius would react if he was to tell them just who was the one who was responsible for all this; would one of them turn against him and try beating the stuffing out of him for committing a taboo? or would all three of them understand?
" Guys...." Shou spoke up, doing his best to make his tone not sound uneasy..but it was failing.
" Yeah?" came their unintentionally echoed reply, their eyes focusing on him as they awaited his answer.
The feeling in the air at that moment in time was a tense one...or was that just from Shou's point of view?
Shou spent the next few seconds in silence, running through every possible phrasing he could use ... but he soon let out a defeated sigh.
Even if they were his best friends, he couldn't tell them.. not yet anyway.
" Do..do you know where they're taking all the reanimated bodies?" he finally asked.
At first; Mortimer, Samuel and Julius all gave him odd looks.. it wasn't like Shou to ask that kind of question afterall.
Then again, he could be an odd boy at times so they merely shrugged it off.
" Yeah... Mr. McKenzie and a few of his workmates have been rounding up all the living dead and taking them to the outskirts of town" Samuel replied.
" If you want, we could go there using the short-cut" and with that, he pointed out a path that led down a narrow alleyway.
Although the slightly older teen couldn't help but do a nervous chuckle.
" It's a little bit of a squeeze.. but it should be fine as long as you're not claustrophobic"
Shou looked a little concerned at where the living dead had been taken, one eyebrow raised quizzicaly as curiousity mixed with slight fear.
' So Mr. McKenzie's helping out, huh?... maybe that's what him and Mrs. McKenzie were talking about back in the clinic..but why take all those who have been brought back to life, to the outskirts of town?... what are they going to do there?
Not really wanting to stay put any longer, a determined expression formed on his face as he started to take a few steps forward.
" Let's get going then!"
" One word of advice though.." Morty piped up as he started to follow his younger friend.
" Me, you and Samuel had better go down the alleyway before Julius does.." he noted with a slight chuckle as Samuel, Shou and Julius all looked at him questionally and asked 'why?'
" Well... if he went in first, I don't think we'd be able to get in at all!"
Samuel and Shou just let out a stiffled chuckle as they both broke into a run down the alleyway, Morty broke into a run too...but for different reasons as an enraged Julius chased after him, screaming at the freckled boy that he was going to 'pummel him into a bloody pulp'
It took a while, but soon the four boys reached the outskirts of East City; here it was easy to see that life out this way was more relaxed since the buildings were further away from one another, the air was cleaner and the intensity of the rolling green hills and farming land was almost overwhelming to a city dweller; and this was just at, what you could perhaps call, the crossroads between the countryside and the city.
Shou would normally of just wanted to stare in wonder at the scenery, places like this relaxed him straight down to the core...sometimes he even thought to himself that maybe his family should of moved to the countryside while he was still little.. but if they had, then he probably wouldn't of made the friends he had now and they were pretty much the only people that seemed to understand him and his quirks; so maybe it was a good thing the family didn't move after all.
But now was not the time to be standing around, he had to find his mother before it was too late!
" But now that we're here, which way do we go?" Samuel asked as he stood at the edge of a hill, overlooking a run-down looking farm house.
Just seeing that building made him a little nervous; what if they got into trouble out here, who would help them then?
Julius, who had just punched Mortimer after finally tackling the red-head, just looked to the right of them and pointed in that direction.
" That way, I can hear people talking over there.." he said as he got to his feet and started to walk over in the said direction.
Mortimer just muttered something incoherent under his breath before standing up and following Julius, followed shortly by Samuel and Shou.
Sure enough, the mutterings of other people could be heard as the four boys walked along the grassy path; although what was being said was hard to understand and there were occasionally a few shouts from some men whose voices sounded as if they belonged to some of the people that worked at the local gun factory.
As the teenage boys got closer, the faint smell of smoke reached their noses and got poor Samuel to cough slightly..... what on earth were people having a bonfire in the early hours of the morning, for?!
Eventually the path the boys had taken, seemed to lead down a small slope to a large clearing of barren ground, sure enough there were crowds of the town's men and some women standing around, some clutching flaming torches; a little way from where they were standing were big metal box-like structures with holes at the sides... two of them were already alight while one other remained unlit.. but it looked as if the people there, were currently preparing to set fire to it.
" Now what the heck is going on down there?" Mortimer asked as he peered down at the people and the metal boxes.
" Is there some kind of celebration going on that we didn't know about?"
" Bonfire night came early, perhaps?" was all that came from Julius's mouth as he scanned the current scene that was taking place.
" Seems kind of odd that they're doing it on the outskirts of town too.."
" Well this definately doesn't look like any bonfire I've ever seen.." Samuel muttered, his deep blue eyes narrowing slightly as he gazed at the two boxes that were burning.
Something else also caught his attention and made him wince ever so slightly.
" Guys... can you hear that screaming?"
The other three gave Samuel a look before doing their best to hear what was beyond the sound of people shouting and talking, it took a while..but eventually the particular sound that Samuel had pointed out, became clear.
The sound of a number of people, screaming in agony seemed to pierce the air with it's high-pitched intensity..only to be drowned out by the roar of angry flames and the heartless sounding jeers of the onlookers that were stood at a safe distance...
However, just as the screaming had reached it's highest point; it was harshly silenced..and only the sound of the flames replaced it.
But the most disturbing thing of all, that made it even more unsettling, was the fact that those screams had been coming from the inside of the burning metal boxes.
Now... Julius, Mortimer, Samuel and Shou were big boys...they didn't cry like overly spoilt mother's boys at every little thing, nor did they scare easily at some cheap fright ( although if it was convincing enough, it never failed to make Shou scream and make a run for it but he'd never admit that in front of the others) but the very thought that they had possibly just heard a number of people being burnt to death sent an icy chill down each of their young spine's.
" I thought they'd stopped the witch burnings a long time ago.." Samuel finally spoke up, giving a little nervous squeak as his hands started to faintly tremble.
" I mean what we just heard... it couldn't of been.."
However Mortimer shook his head and interupted his older friend by pointing down to the crowd of people.
" I'm not sure how to answer that Sam, but it looks as if we'll be first-hand witnesses for the next burning.."
Down below, Mr. McKenzie stood up on a pile of logs ( like a kind of stand) and shouted to the other people.
" Alright, let's get the last box loaded... herd the remaining walking dead into there like lambs to the slaughter!" he bellowed harshly..and with one wave of his hand, another crowd of people started to walk people that had been kept out of the boy's view before-hand, into the last of the metal boxes.
That just got Samuel to pale even more..so they had heard people burning to death afterall....the undead to be exact.
" How could they just go and do that?!" he muttered, gritting his teeth slightly, the tears in his eyes were more than noticable...Samuel really wasn't good in situations like these.
" Those were they're loved ones once and now they're just going to do away with them by performing some form of group cremation?!"
" Well it's happening and there's nothing we can do about it.." Julius stated, narrowing his pale blue coloured eyes at the scene.. sure he sounded so bitter about it but in truth, he didn't like this anymore than what his friends did.
" Afterall we're talking about four teenage boys against a number of adults..we'd be lucky if we could get past ol'e McKenzie himself.."
Mortimer merely gave a grim nod of agreement and just sighed.
" So much for finding a subject to use cell-reanimation on.. by the time they're done with all the living dead, the only thing left will be charcoaled bone and ashes.." however he briefly looked over to see Shou with a look of horror on his face.
" My mother..." was all that Shou managed to utter as he saw Emily among the crowd of living dead that were being led into the metal box.
At that point, he clenched one of his hands into a fist and stood up, he then looked towards the other three with an almost dark looking expression on his face, his clear blue eyes almost looked as if they were illuminating in the twilight.
" We're going down there..." he insisted, his tone sounding determined... he had been searching for his mother all this time and now he'd found her, he wasn't going to let her slip away again.
Mortimer's brassy coloured eyes widened a little as Shou's reasons for being outside when they found him had finally become clear.
" So your mom came back too..." was all he said before glancing over to also see Emily, yet he then looked back to Shou as a feeling of suspicion took ahold.
" You knew about all of this... didn't you? this is why you wanted to know where the undead bodies were being taken.."
Shou was silent for a while before giving off an eerie-looking grin as his subconscious mind had told him that he'd just gone and put himself on the spot.. so now he had to explain himself.
" Well it always pays to be perceptive.." he muttered before giving off a little sigh and didn't hesistate in telling his friends what happened... he really did need to get down there and fast!
" Okay, to cut a long story short.. I brought back my mother.. but I somehow ended up bringing other people back from the dead too.." Shou also went on to quickly explain about how he'd left his mother at home in order to get help..but had then got stuck at the Doctor's clinic for a while and had to escape before heading over to the grave-yard just to see what he'd done..and then about how he'd hurried home just to see that his mother wasn't there.
Once his explaination was finished, Shou then turned towards where the crowds were and began to get ready to run.
" Now... are you guys just going to sit there.. or are you actually going to help me?"
Samuel finally got to his feet and walked over to Shou, just to put a comforting hand on his shoulder.
" Shou.. it's not that we don't want to help you.. but didn't you hear what Julius said? it would only be us four against all of those adults..we wouldn't stand a chance!"
However... Shou just shook his head and smiled slightly.
" But you're forgetting, we have one thing that they don't have.." he then looked over his shoulder to look straight at Samuel.
" And that's alchemy..." with that he lightly brushed off Samuel's hand from his shoulder..and began to make his way down the hill.
" Don't forget...when you have the power to do something, it's hard not to try..."
That had got the older Shou to do a half hearted smile slightly, so that saying had been in existence ever since he was a young teenager.. but even if the words themselves were strong...just where had the will behind them gone after all these years?
Julius, Mortimer and Samuel all looked at Shou before looking to each other and giving agreeing nods, although Julius had noticably gave a small roll of his eyes and Samuel had done an audible gulp, Morty had been indifferent to either opinion.
" Well okay then.. but we can't promise you that it'll all run peachy.." came the red-head's response as he started to follow Shou, Julius and Samuel following after.
Once reaching the foot of the hill and hiding behind some bushes, Shou wasted no time in telling the other boys what his mind had been devising when they had been running down the grassy bank.
" Okay.. Morty, Sam, Julius here's the plan; the four of us will head over to the last box as quickly as possible.. once there, each of you three position yourselves at the points facing left, right and centre and draw transmutation circles on the ground..then if the adults start to come forward to stop us, transmute a mud wall! and while you guys are holding them off, I'll find a way to get into the box and rescue my mom"
" Sounds good... but what about if they try coming from behind?" Samuel inquired as he pointed to a possible space where they would of been un-guarded.
" Transmuting a wall is all well and good, but if they were to get in through an open space, we'd be done for"
Mortimer however, just shook his head at that and gave a cocky little smirk, he was more than confident when it came to his abilities in alchemy..and now was the perfect time to show exactly what he could do.
" Just leave that to me, I'll take the place closest to the back on the right-hand side..that way when it comes to transmuting, I'll be able to build up the walls for the right and back" however.. in his mind, Morty mentally grimaced as he still had doubts about how everything would turn out.
Shou nodded and gave a small little smile.
" So it would technically be killing two birds with one stone? I say we go for it.." at that point the sound of something closing alerted the young teenager, causing him to look around and see some people closing the door of the metal box; well now was definately a time to act!
Once he saw the people leave the burning site ( possibly to fetch more supplies) Shou looked back to Mortimer, Julius and Samuel.
" Okay, they've loaded the box up..let's go!" he exclaimed..and with that, the boys started to charge forward.
Running as fast as they could across the dry-mud ground, it didn't take the four teenager's long to reach the spots needed for initiating the plan.
Shou had reached the metal box and skidded to a stop to watch as his friends knelt down on their designated places; each of them taking out a piece of chalk from their trouser pockets and frantically started to draw transmutation circles on the ground.
Glancing back to the metal wall of the box that was right in front of him, Shou started to desperately look for a way in.. frowning when he saw that the lever to open it up was right at the top and out of his reach; but it had been obvious enough that it had been easy for one of the adults to reach it.
" Tch.... just typical.." was all the young teenager muttered under his breath.
However, Shou wasn't beaten yet..as he also reached inside his trouser pocket and pulled out a piece of chalk, not hesistating in sketching a circle on the side of the metal box.
He then placed his hands down on the outer lines of the circle and as the transmutation started, Shou concentrated on the metal hoping that he'd be able to manipulate the compounds within it in order to make some sort of entrance.
Concentration was something Shou needed more than anything.. yet with the ever rising fear of being caught by Mr. McKenzie and his followers, such a thing was very hard to do; however the fourteen year old looked hopeful when he saw the metal begin to deconstruct itself and twist into an entirely new shape.
When the alchemic energy died down, Shou grinned widely when he saw that the metal's had managed to take on the shape of some kind of flower with large petals.. and in the centre was a hole that he could easily crawl through.
With that, Shou looked around to his friends to let them know that he'd made a breakthrough.
" Alright guys, I'm going in... you know what to do if the adults start coming towards the site, good luck!" and upon breifly seeing the other boys do a thumbs-up in response, Shou then clambered up one of the metal 'petals' and scrambled through the hole leading into the box.
Once he'd crawled inside, Shou paled a little as he saw the majority of people in this metal death-trap; men, women and even some children stood around and talked to one another while others were trying to pathetically claw their way out.
Their complexions were just as pale as what Emily's had been; complete with the purple rings under the eyes and the lifeless gazes, it was a truely chilling sight to witness.
However, Shou only just managed to not let his ever growing fear get the better of him as he got to his feet and started to look for his mother within the crowd, occasionally squeezing past various people and receiving a few cold looks along the way...but those weren't going to stop him from finding Emily, not at all.
After what seemed like a few agonising minutes, Shou finally found his mother near the back of the metallic contraption and called out to her in a tone of complete and utter relief.
" Mom!" before running over to the 'undead' woman, albeit stumbling a little.
" Everything's going to be okay now, Mom...I've come to get you out of here" the fourteen year old said as he looked up to her with a relieved smile on his face.
' Thank goodness you're alright...oh mother I was so worried about you, I hope you can forgive me for leaving you for a while
However, Emily failed to say anything in response at first...all she did was stare down at Shou with lifeless deep blue eyes, a blank stare was the only expression that graced that oh-so pale face of hers, it seemed like another few minutes passed before she finally spoke up.
" So...you finally decided to take me on as your responsibility, hmm?" the brown-haired woman asked in that cold tone that she had used during the confrontation with her son earlier on.
Well 'that' was slightly unexpected, shouldn't she of been happy about that fact?!
Shou just looked at Emily with a rather shocked expression before his eyebrows furrowed upwards and he responded to her.
" Well of course...look Mom, I know you're probably still upset with me for leaving you behind in the house but I can assure you that I didn't mean to be gone long! the McKenzie's literally kept me inside the clinic and refused to let me go out...I had to more or less escape from there" of course what Shou left out was the fact that he'd also gone to the city's grave-yard to see how Emily ( and the other dead people) had come back to life before he'd hurried home to check and see if she was alright...but the way he saw it, she didn't need to know that!
At this point, the teenager was almost ready to start begging in the hopes that Emily would finally understand and perhaps regain her original personality...the mother that he had known so well.
" Please, you have to believe me Mom...when I found out that you'd been taken away, I was determined to find you no matter what!" he pleaded with the thirty-seven year old woman; a hopeful look was more than visible on his face as he tried to look for a sign of understanding in Emily's expression.
" And yet you choose to save her when all hope is lost?" came a young girl's voice from behind Shou...and when the startled youth turned around to see who it was...it caused him to freeze in fear.
The owner of the mysterious voice in-question was a young girl of around nine years old, her hair was platinum blonde with ringlets and her eyes were a rather nice shade of green...unfortunately they were also lifeless and gave off a less than cherubic appearance.
Her white party-dress made a ruffling noise and the gold foot bracelet seemed to click on the child's ankle as she stepped closer to Shou, her gaze just as cold and lifeless as Emily's.
" It's been quite a while, hasn't it Shou?"
" Alexis..." Shou murmured in disbelief, oh he knew who Alexis was alright...she had once been a part-time playmate who hailed from the richer district of East City.
Alexis and her sister Amelia had been kind enough to sneak him into the Hetworth mansion everytime their father was out working; thanks to them, Shou had got a glimpse of what life was like for those who were more fortunate with money.
The three children had played together every now and then for two whole years...until one day, when news had reached eight year old Shou that Alexis had been killed in an accident concerning a horse-drawn carridge.
Amelia had been the one to break it to the bewildered young boy, saying that the twins had been going to a birthday party at the time...but Alexis had got too excited and rushed out to cross the street without thinking.
Shou could also remember that he wasn't allowed to go to the funeral for Alexis either, it was only for members of the Hetworth family...and other high class aquantinces, heck he was lucky enough to get a hug from Amelia before the family moved away.
Yet Alexis's body had stayed behind, buried beneath the soil in East City's grave-yard...until now.
' How is her body still in tact? she's been dead for six years!
' he mentally screamed as he took in every detail of the undead little girl, every single inch of her body showed no sign of physical decay what-so-ever.
' This is almost hard to believe...if this is what I really did do with alchemy, then I have officially gone against all the rules...and succeeded!
" Alexis...it's good to see you alive and well again"
However, it would seem that Alexis was less than happy about her particular situation as she marched up to the 'now older' boy and kicked at his ankle, only to scowl more when the teenager let out a surprised ( and somewhat pained) yelp.
" You've got some nerve, how could you go and do this to all of us?!" the nine year old snapped as she looked up at Shou.
" We were all dead, Shou! dead, buried and resting in what was supposed to be eternal peace...you've just gone and taken that all away from us with that little stunt you call alchemy!"
But the little madame wasn't finished there as she barely gave Shou a chance to respond.
" Thanks to your actions, you've condemned us all to be burnt alive inside this metal death-trap!" Alexis had to wipe her eyes briefly as tears had started to form.
Shou just remained silent as Alexis screamed at him and blamed the teenager for his apparently reckless actions.
Deep inside the young boy's body, it deeply hurt him to hear Alexis say all of these things to him...in life she had been such a sweet ( although annoying at times) and mischevious girl who never thought bad of him, she and Amelia had even been like big sisters to the young Tucker boy; but now...
" I...I..." he stuttered helplessly, really wanting to apologise to the upset girl...yet those words of apology failed to come and he really couldn't understand why.
However it was at that point that Emily walked over and rested a gentle hand on the little girl's shoulder.
" Alexis, please don't cry...I know the burning may hurt when it happens, but after that we will have eternal slumber once more" with that a motherly smile made it's way onto Emily's face as she stroked Alexis's hair.
Shou just seemed to stare at the two for a moment as he saw that oh-so familiar look and gentle persona that he'd longed to see in Emily once again...why had she waited until now to finally show off that personality properly? and more so...why did it have to be towards someone who wasn't even a relative?
As for them all burning to death in this place...well Shou was going to make sure that didn't need to happen, although it seemed that he missed Emily's reasoning that she would like to die.
' It's probably just her thinking that there's no other way out, yeah that must be it! I mean mother would never give up this easily
' and he definately knew that for certain, Emily had been a woman who had battled an illness for as long as possible, keeping herself alive just so she could look after her son...she hadn't gone without a fight and to see 'this' Emily practically giving up on the spot and resigning herself to her fate made the teenage boy shake his head in disbelief.
" Mom...what are you saying? I've made an exit that we can all crawl out of...come on! Morty and the others are outside, we'll be able to make sure the others don't hurt you... my friends even know a short-cut home and then we'll all be safe!"
However, Emily didn't say anything and just looked to the side instead as she heard noises outside.
" Are you sure about that?" was all she asked as she could hear the shouts of other people, her eyebrows actually furrowed up into a look of worry which made her look a little bit more alive.
" Because it sounds like there's more than just your friends out there..."
Confused at what his mother meant at first, Shou also looked to where Emily seemed to be listening and concentrated...only to pale considerably as he heard the voices of the men from before, they'd came back to the burning site!
However he couldn't let doubt take him over now and the fourteen year old just looked up to Emily with a knowing ( although somewhat nervous) grin.
" They won't be able to stop us, we have alchemy on our side!"
The only thing that Emily did after that was look Shou straight in the eyes, a feeling that was definately unpleasant to the young teen since his mother's eyes showed no signs of life at all and said in a rather cryptic tone.
" And how do you know that those other people don't?"
In the meantime; Mortimer, Julius and Samuel were still doing their best to keep the mud-walls up in order to keep out the now-angry civilians, however...Mr. McKenzie's voice seemed to boom out over the yells and shouts of the other men on the other side of the wall.
" What is the meaning of this?!" he exclaimed before turning to one of the workers from the gun factory.
" Marcus, bring this barricade down...nothing's going to stop us from saving our city from the unholy undead!"
" Saving this city? pssssh' you hear that guys? old man McKenzie's really gone off the deep end this time" Julius grumbled then blinked as Mortimer rolled his brass-coloured eyes.
The red-head then cupped his hands to his mouth and yelled out.
" If anyone needs saving... it's those who have the unfortunate fate of being near you, you crazy coot!"
" Julius, Morty!!" Samuel hissed with a wild fearful look in his deep blue coloured eyes; he really couldn't believe the pudgy and spotty members of the group sometimes and this was just one of those instances.
" You know what McKenzie's temper can be like...if he gets ahold of us, we'll end up being the laughing stock of the entire neighbourhood!" the oldest ( yet smallest) member of the group still wasn't over the last time they'd got into trouble with McKenzie, that man wasn't against spanking others in public as punishment!
Yet before he could say anything else, Samuel was interupted by Jack McKenzie's voice; lightly furious was probably not the best word to use for his tone.
" Why you cocky little...okay that does it!" after several nasty sounding thuds sounded on the hard mud, Jack could be heard muttering a few cuss words before speaking louder again.
" Marcus, forget the battering ram... I've got one more ace up my sleeve, Aaron!" he called out the boy's name into the crowd of people and it wasn't long before a strawberry blonde haired teenage boy came out of the sea of people and towards him.
Jack just grinned and pointed to the wall.
" I've got a job for you...some naughty brats have put up this mud wall and are stopping us from ridding the city of the hordes of dead people that have been wandering around... do you think you could help out a soul in need and do the honors of getting rid of this muddy obstacle?"
Aaron just scratched at his freckled cheek nervously ( Jack could sometimes have this effect on people) before glancing at the wall of mud and giving a nod.
' Why would they want to help defend the dead anyway? I should think we'd be doing those walking corpses a favour by putting them to rest once more...
' the young boy thought to himself as he studied the surrounding area.
" That wall should be easy enough to get rid of with my speciality... but I'll need some form of moisture in order for it to work, does anyone here have a bucket of water?"
The three boys on the other side of the wall remained completely oblivious as one of the gun factory workers handed Aaron a full bucket of water, that had originally been kept around for use on the fire if it got too out of hand.
" Thanks, this is perfect!" Aaron said, thanking the older man...and with that, walked towards the wall and tipped a fair amount onto the ground in front of the mud-based barricade.
Grabbing a nearby stick, the teenager sketched out the transmutation needed for his type of alchemy and then put his hands down on the edges of the circle before concentrating.
Everything seemed to fall silent if only for those few seconds...maybe even a minute; before the soil where the transmutation circle was, started to bubble over and a small rumbling could be felt.
Aaron just did a little smile as he began to put more energy into the transmutation, his attitude becoming a lot more confident as he quickly looked to Mr. McKenzie and did a thumbs-up.
" It's ready to go!"
" I don't like this guys..." Samuel muttered as he just stood staring at their side of the wall, something about the silence on the otherside was bothering him greatly.
" Things have gone too quiet out there, you don't think they decided to go back home...do you?"
Julius just seemed to let loose with a small huff and glanced back towards the metal contraption that Shou was still in.
" I hope so...if those idiots are still around, we'll never be able to make a clean get-away..."
" Well if things have gone quiet on that side, then maybe that means they have gone..." Mortimer stated in a confident tone and then smirked.
' Maybe I was wrong... this plan has worked out for the better afterall' he thought before speaking up again.
" I guess our alchemy made a wall that's tough to break...of course I'll bet that they were trying to get in on the part that I made and couldn't get through, it just goes to show how good I am at this sort of thing!"
Samuel and Julius just let loose with fed-up groans in response to that and while Julius rolled his ice-blue eyes, Samuel just put a hand to his forehead and shook his head slightly in disbelief.
However, all three boys soon turned their attention to the ground beneath them as the rumbling began, shortly followed by the sound of water rushing up from somewhere and splashing against something.
There wasn't much time for questions though, as they then glanced towards the wall and realised ( much to their horror) that the sound of the water was hitting against the mud-wall with what seemed like extreme force.
" Awww man, now we're in trouble!" Samuel exclaimed and had already started to panic by flailing his arms wildly.
" This is all your fault Julius, Morty... if you hadn't of said anything, we wouldn't be in this mess now!" he snapped at the two younger boys... in case no one knew, the Hunton boy had a tendency to lash out verbally when under pressure.
" Well I didn't think he'd react *that* badly!" Mortimer snapped back, normally for some adults it took a 'lot' more name-calling and disrespect before they snapped at the younger generation... unfortunately, it was now very clear that Doctor Jack McKenzie was not one of those people...
" That's the problem, you two never DO thin-" however before Samuel could finish his sentence, a weird sludge-like sound could be heard...and upon looking back to the wall, the sixteen-and-a-half year old let out a terrified screech and pointed at it.
" But nevermind that now, we've got other problems!"
Puzzled by that, Mortimer and Julius looked to where their terrified friend was pointing...only to pale when they saw that their alchemy-made barricade was beginning to melt and it was then that their minds went awry... of course they had been in trouble beforehand but this just tipped the scale!
And so far the only thing these three boys were doing, was standing around and staring helplessly over at their now-melting, alchemised mud-wall.
However it was then Samuel who let out a small huff and began to roll up his sleeves before whipping out a piece of chalk from his pocket and began to draw on the ground.
' Just this once... I want to be of some use, just this once
' he mentally told himself as he thought back to all the times he'd stopped Mortimer, Julius and even Shou from causing mischief around East City.
Out of the four of them, it was Samuel who had always been the good boy, it had always been Samuel who always wanted to 'do the right thing' and attempt to keep his younger friends out of trouble...even if sometimes it hadn't worked at all.
But this time it was Samuel who wanted to play against the rules and actually help his friends by any means possible... and right now, those means was by using alchemy.
" Well what are you waiting for?! if they're breaking their way in... the least we can do is protect out 'fort'!" he yelled at the other two, a wild look replacing the normally timid and docile look in his deep blue eyes.
It didn't take very long for Julius to respond to that, as he merely blinked at first before doing a rather evil-looking smirk.
" Now you're talking!" he cheered and knelt down on the ground, taking out the chalk and began to sketch a circle on the dry mud.
Mortimer just gave a somewhat shocked look to Samuel in response to the shorter boy's words from moments before...not because of the fact he was becoming the new voice of reason for the group ( far from it...this was Mortimer Larke afterall) but because of the fact that he'd known Samuel back when the two of them were three and five years old; and in the red-headed boy's golden eyes...Samuel had never shown to have this sort of streak to him at all, but it would seem that Morty was wrong about that.
' You really can't judge appearances, I guess...
' he reasonated with himself before smiling to Samuel and giving a nod.
Before long, all three boys were sketching transmutation circles on the ground...and just as the first lot of people from the other side made their way over the now melted mud wall, the teenagers slammed their hands down onto the outer lines of each circle and started to transmute more mud barricades just to give the older people a hard time.
Very soon, those men were running from rising walls or smacking into some... unfortunately Aaron was also there and on Jack's command, had started to transmute streaming jets of water in order to get rid of the newly formed barricades.
It started to seem as if mud and water was flying everywhere once the ground started to become too moist for the mud walls to form properly and so Morty, Samuel and Julius had done the next best thing... make mud balls and actually throw them at the oncoming enemy.
It may of been a childish strategy but it proved to be effective as a few people ended up being knocked down by those slimy balls of mud... and even Aaron's water alchemy wasn't enough to protect him as he also got pelted by some.
This crazy 'war' had been going on whilst Shou had been talking to Emily and Alexis... yet just as it seemed that the three teenagers could keep up the resistance, the three of them ended up being jumped by some tall men who had managed to get past the earlier onslaught of mud balls.
" Mr. McKenzie, we got them!" called out one of the men as one of the boys struggled in his grip.
It was then that Jack came forward with a rather nasty looking glare making it's way onto his features.
" Troublesome little punks..." he muttered as he looked to the boys as they squirmed around while being gripped by their captors, he then gave a nod to the man that had spoke up.
" Good job, Roberts... just make sure that you, Lewison and Hughes keep these runts here... trying to sabotage our plans to help East City, really...youngsters these days" the doctor muttered before making his way towards the metal contraption, one eyebrow raising quizzically as he noticed the alchemised flower pattern...and the medium-sized hole that was now in the metal.
" So... not only were you trying to make sure we didn't burn them; you were also trying to let them go free, too?!" he bellowed as he looked around at the boys with a rather wild expression.
Samuel just winced at that and started to kick around even more.
" But Mr. McKenzie, you don't understand!" he started, about to mention the fact that Shou was in there... but he just got silenced by the rather irate older man.
" No buts! I always knew that you three were troublemakers...but this just proves that you're much worse than that, did you ever take it into account that these dead people might harm the living?! by letting them out, you endanger the entire population of East City or even Amestris itself!" Jack yelled, carrying on with his almost self-righteous sounding rant... before he was interupted by one of the other men that were holding one of the boys.
" What is it, Hughes?"
The bespectacled man just adjusted his glasses with his free hand before letting loose with a sigh.
" Aren't you being a bit too hard on these kids, McKenzie? I mean they're only children... I have a son at home who's just a few years younger than them for goodness sakes, they probably didn't know what they were letting themselves in for"
Jack just seemed to stay quiet for a few seconds before he finally spoke up again, this time referring to Mr. Hughes by first name terms.
" I realise that Michael, but I don't think even Maes would go as far as this...and as for not knowing what they were letting themselves in for" he huffed and pointed to all the melted mud barricades and puddles of muddy water that littered the once dry patch on the burning site.
" This looks like it was planned in advance to me...and naturally, a planned crime definately needs a fitting punishment..."
" What are you going to do?!" screeched Mortimer as he tried kicking at it's captors legs...only to get kneed in a rather sensitive area and just let out a pained squeak... however that did get Mr. Hughes to glare at Marcus Lewison... Lewison then rolled his eyes and whispered a 'sorry kiddo' to Mortimer... of course Morty was currently too preoccupied by the pain to even pay attention to the apology.
Jack just smirked darkly as he glanced at the hole in the metal before reaching into his trouser pocket and fumbled around for something...before pulling out small box.
" And what better method of punishment than to destroy the very thing you tried to protect!" he snapped as he opened the small box and took out a match.
" Aaron, Thomas, Joseph...throw the logs into the hole; we might as well take advantage of this opening, seeing as the ground's too wet now"
Aaron and the other two just nodded to Jack and did as they were told...although Aaron shot a rather apologetic glance at the three boys being held captive as he walked past them, carrying a few logs.
' I'm sorry you three had to go through this... but if what Jack says is true, then maybe it's for your own good
' he seemed to say inwardly...he figured he'd just get clobbered if he was to go up to them and say it outloud, so saying it mentally seemed like a more painless option.
Pretty soon, the gathered up logs were sticking out of the hole that Shou had transmuted earlier... and Jack McKenzie stood near the metal contraption, frowning as he could see a few of the undead coming towards the hole in a desperate bid to get out.
" And now... consider all of us saved, everyone!" Jack shouted out to the crowd before smirking at Mortimer, Julius and Samuel.
" As for you juveniles...consider this a lesson in the basic laws of nature, the dead should stay dead with no exceptions!" and with that, he lit a match and threw it into the hole before running back towards the crowd.
Samuel looked completely devastated as he saw the flames begin to appear as the logs sent on fire within the metal box, and began to struggle in Michael Hughes's grip.
" Please, you can't just.... please just let me go!" the teenager began to yowl somewhat pleadingly as tears started to form in his eyes.
Mortimer's brassy eyes had widened when seeing what Mr. McKenzie had done and began to also panic, knowing full well that Shou was still inside that thing.
And very soon even he started to struggle, but he wasn't about to burst into tears like Samuel had started to do and the same went for Julius as well.
" If you don't let us go and stop that fire right now, then Dr. McKenzie is going to be faced with a much worse crime than what we've been commited of..." Julius muttered rather darkly as he glared at both Michael and Marcus with those ice-blue eyes of his, however he also directed it at his own captor too.
Michael looked a little puzzled at that and briefly looked over to Jack McKenzie who was now being surrounded by the other people who seemed to be cheering him on for his 'good deed' ...but decided to at least listen to what the chubby teenager had to say and looked back to Julius with a concerned glare.
" Okay then...why don't you boys tell me why that is, hmm?"
It was then that the boys began to tell the bespectacled older man the real reason as to why they'd came out to the burning site and also why they'd built up the mud walls in the first place.
" It was all Shou's idea to come down here originally, he only wanted to save his mom!" Samuel explained, his panic seemed to be forever rising as he kept looking from Michael to the metal box and then back to Michael again.
" We didn't mean to cause all of this trouble!"
" And now that moron's gone and set that...that 'thing' on fire, with Shou still inside it!" Mortimer exclaimed, pointing with a very firm hand, over at the box.
" If he dies, we're not the ones who are going to be responsible for this..."
" It'll be Jack McKenzie and his merry band of idiots" Julius mumbled rather coldly, finishing off Mortimer's sentence...more or less.
Michael's eyes seemed to widen at that as the complexion drained from his face... surely these boys had to be lying, right?
Yet as he gazed into their eyes, it was easy to see that their looks were far from kidding...and that assumption began to fade from Mr. Hughes's mind more or less straight away.
' They really aren't lying...aww man!
' he thought to himself before letting go of Samuel and got Marcus Lewison and Jimmy Roberts to let go of the other two boys.
" Well what are we waiting for, let's go and stop that blaze!" he shouted to Mortimer, Julius and Samuel before looking to Marcus and pointed over to where Jack McKenzie and his celebrating group were.
" Lewison, you go and tell McKenzie what these boys just told us!" and when Marcus just nodded and did so, Michael just started to sprint back down towards the metal box.
" Finally! a decent enough adult who actually listens to us" Samuel said, breathing a sigh of relief before grinning to the other two.
" Makes a pleasant change from the usual, huh?"
Mortimer just chuckled a little at that but then that smile faded as he looked towards the metal box.
" Yeah, but Shou's not out of danger yet...come on!" and with that, the spotty teen began to run down towards the site in the direction that Michael had gone in only seconds earlier.
And pretty soon Samuel and Julius were following suite, Samuel being quite hopeful that things were going to be okay now.
However... inside the metal box, things were far from okay as the flames had started to spread...and the poor undead person ( the one who had only wanted to find a way out) from before, was now screaming wildly as flames had started to engulf him completely...but soon, it wasn't just him, but several others that were also screaming as they too were set on fire.
Shou, Emily and Alexis were still at the back of the box...yet they could see the horrific scene that was unfolding right in front of them and Alexis had started to pathetically hide behind Emily's legs in the ever-wishful hope that she'd be safe behind there.
" But I don't understand..." Shou murmured as he looked at the nasty sight of people running around on fire and winced at the horrific screams that seemed to be growing in numbers at a very rapid rate.
" Morty, Julius and Sam were out there...they were protecting us" he carried on, through the flames and people... Shou could just about see the hole that had once been a ticket to freedom for him and his mother, the logs were blocking it and the flames would of made it very diificult to escape by now anyway.
' All hope really is lost...
' he mentally whimpered to himself as he looked towards the burning people and could now feel the tempreture as it began to rise even more, as well as smell the foul-smoke that was beginning to reach suffocating levels.
" There really is no way out now..." the fourteen year old muttered while trying to hold back a frightened sob, he didn't want to die; it wasn't his time to go...he just knew it wasn't!
" Oh but there is..." Emily suddenly stated, resting a surprisingly soft hand on her son's shoulder before smiling gently and gazing down at him with those soft eyes he'd been so used to seeing when he was a small boy.
Shou looked up to his mother and sniffled a little before speaking up again.
" Th-there is?" he then quickly had a look around the interior of the box... trying deperately to see if there was an exit from the box that he had perhaps missed from before, however there didn't seem to be one... which only made him look back to Emily with a confused look on his face.
Without saying another word, Emily suddenly grabbed ahold of one of Shou's arms quite tightly before also grabbing ahold of one of Alexis's arms.
" The only way fit for a heretic such as yourself...by burning!" however Emily still wore that gentle smile that neither fit the situation nor the words that she had just spoken.
And before the teenager could argue, she began to walk forward towards the flames...dragging Shou and Alexis along with her.
" Mo-Mom, what are you doing?! how's this going to solve anything? we'll be killed!" Shou exclaimed in a panicked tone...which began to become even more apparent as they neared the intense flames.
" Mom, please...I...I don't want to die!"
" Maybe you don't want to Shou..." Emily muttered before turning around to look him directly in the eyes, that soft look from before had gone...and all that remained in it's place was an icy cold glare.
" But me and Alexis do! ...you never once thought about the concequences for all of this, did you?!"
When the only thing Shou managed to mutter was a saddened 'No' Emily just growled a little and began to run faster towards the flames.
" Well then...it's only right that you suffer from them, my boy!"
And as the flames started to surround Emily, Alexis and Shou, all the fourteen year old could do was close his eyes and let loose with a horrified shriek...and then after that, it went black.
All of a sudden, Shou's eyes snapped open and he found himself staring at...his bedroom ceiling?!
As he sat up slowly, beads of sweat trickled down the young boy's face and his heartbeat was currently going like crazy.
' I'm alive?
' was the first thing he thought to himself as he looked towards the bedroom window and saw that the sun was already in the sky, a few birds could be heard twittering on the roof of the house outside... although that was coupled by the noises of people walking down the street.
Tigerlily was currently sitting on the edge of the bed and licking one of her paws as part of her morning wash... there was no sign of a coffin in the bedroom nor was there a bloodstain or signs of a struggle, everything was completely...normal.
It was then that Shou's mind finally pieced everything together and he just blinked awkwardly a few times.
" It was just a dream..." he murmured before looking around at the room once more.
Everything that had seemingly happened last night... Emily coming back to life along with all of the dead people in the graveyard, being held captive at the Doctor's clinic, the plan with Samuel, Mortimer and Julius, seeing Alexis again...and finally, burning to death in a flaming metal box; it had all been nothing but a really horrible nightmare!
Shou then started to smile at that " it was just a really, really horrible dream..." he carried on with his sentence before getting to his feet and started to jump on the bed out of joy.
" I didn't commit a taboo! I didn't get Morty, Julius and Sam in trouble! Mom's not a cold-hearted undead person...and...and...and I'm still alive!!" he yelled out with every jump that he made before accidently stumbling on a landing and ended up falling back onto the bed.
But despite that, he just started to laugh ( whether or not sounding slightly insane could be anyone's guess) out of pure euphoria and relief that the horrors he'd witnessed had been nothing but imaginary.
Naturally, this just got Tigerlily to tilt her head to the side slightly in confusion, she wasn't this used to seeing her teenage owner show this much display of energy, well definately not in recent months at least... but pretty soon she just let out a little 'mew' as if to say 'ah well' and went back to washing herself once more.
After a few more moments of relieved happiness, Shou could hear the phone ringing downstairs and looked a little puzzled at that...who on earth could be phoning him at around eleven o'clock in the morning? he definately knew it wasn't Julius, Samuel or Mortimer...those boys were often out goofing off somewhere by this time.
Maybe it could of been Laura McKenzie? she sometimes checked in on the teenager to make sure he was doing okay.
With that in mind, Shou hopped off of the bed and ran down the stairs, still relieved that the horrors from last night had been nothing but a horrible dream afterall.
Once he'd got to the living room, Shou finally reached the phone and answered it with a slightly bewildered sounding ' Hello?'
However, his pupils must of shrunk in shock as he heard a very familiar voice on the other side of the phone, one that he had not heard for eight years...
" Shou? dear lord boy, is that you?!" a male's voice exclaimed over the phone before letting loose with a surprised chuckle.
" You certainly sound a lot older than I remember you sounding...but I guess I can blame that on me being away for so long, you're doing okay aren't you?"
Despite Jacob's joyful sounding tone on the other side...Shou wasn't exactly too thrilled about hearing his father's voice again.
Jacob could of phoned home all those years ago if only to ease the anxiety that poor Emily had suffered from, and Shou was sure that Jacob's absence had been one of the reasons for his mother's downfall.
Understandably, it took Shou a few moments before he replied to his father while attempting to not sound bitter towards him.
" I'm alright Dad...I finished my school studies a month ago, I haven't really looked into getting a job as of yet though"
Jacob just seemed to hesistate in saying something for a moment before speaking up again, he hadn't expected his son to be this forward in educational studies...didn't most boys stay in school til they were around sixteen? he really wasn't too sure nowadays.
" Erm...well that's good to hear Shou, how about your mother? is she alright?"
Even if it had been an innocent question on Jacob's part...Shou flinched at that and seemed to tighten his grip on the phone, he should of known that the conversation would come to the subject of Emily sooner or later.
" No..." Shou started up, figuring it was best to at least tell his father what had happened...it wasn't like he was going to come rushing home out of sympathy and attempt to be the father he should of been all those years ago, anyway.
" Mom died off an illness three months ago, so I've just been living here since then...although Mrs. McKenzie comes to check in on me every now and again, so it's not like I'm alone"
But from the fuss Jacob started making on the other side of the phone, it didn't sound as if that was okay at all.
In his mind, Jacob Tucker still saw his son as a helpless six year old boy...and started to ramble on about how he didn't have to worry about being left on his own ever again, it also seemed as if he was generally upset at the news of Emily's death as he practically started to apologise, saying how sorry he was to of left them for all of these years and how it must of been hard for poor Emily.
Although he then paused and told Shou that he had to go out somewhere, but not to worry as the teenager wouldn't 'have to worry about being alone anymore' which just got Shou to respond with a rather puzzled sounding ' Erm...okay?' needless to say...the fourteen year old had a bad feeling about this.
After putting the phone down ( as his father had hung up before he could even say 'Goodbye' ) the young boy had felt a little cautious for the rest of the day...that is until Laura came around for a visit in the late afternoon, although for some reason she seemed to be carrying a load of papers this time round.
While that had puzzled Shou somewhat, he had quite happily welcomed Laura into the house and even offered to pour out some tea for her; just like he did every other time she visited.
" You know Shou, a boy your age shouldn't be this eager to make tea for a guest...why aren't you out messing around with those friends of yours?" Laura asked casually as she sat back in one of the chairs at the kitchen table while Shou served her some tea.
Shou just gave a small shrug in response and did a small grin to accompany it, concerning the thing on what boys should or shouldn't do...well considering that he had practically been raised by a woman for most of his life, as well as the fact that he'd also been around his mother's friends...he was bound to show a little bit of feminine sensitivity such as politeness and wanting to serve people cups of tea; not that there was anything wrong with that at all; although granted, Jacob would of probably been disgusted at the fact...
A man shouldn't have to do a woman's work in Jacob's eyes, but he wasn't here...so it didn't matter.
As for the second topic on goofing off with Mortimer, Samuel and Julius, Shou couldn't help but say a vocal answer for that.
" Those three would of come knocking on the door if they wanted me to hang around with them...they're probably just getting themselves into trouble by bugging the workers at the gun factory anyway" and Shou didn't need to be reminded of how that had gone for him a few years ago when he did decide to be a mischief-maker for once.
He had got some of the workers angry from throwing pebbles into the work area and tried stealing some of their food on the lunch-break...
But Shou soon found out that they ( like Dr. McKenzie) weren't against smacking a child and ended up being sore for about a day and a half as a result, needless to say that the young boy had decided to try and stay out of trouble after that.
" Aww, well you're such a good boy for staying out of it then...I'm sure Emily would be so proud of you" Laura said softly as she took a sip from the cup, however her eyes widened as she suddenly remembered something and after swallowing a mouthful of the hot drink, spoke up again.
" Oh! that reminds me sweetheart...you know how you and Emily were waiting for Jacob to come back?" the blonde then grinned and waved the papers around.
" Your father called me today, he told me that he heard about Emily's death and wants you to go and live with him...you don't have to worry about being on your own anymore!"
While that normally would of been good news for any child, Shou was far from happy about the fact and just shook his head.
" Oh, n-no...I'm alright with living here! I mean I have Tigerlily with me...and you only live down the road, it's not like I'm really on my own!" he insisted with a nervous smile.
" I'm nearly an adult anyway"
But despite Shou's insisting that he was alright with looking after himself, Laura just sighed in disbelief and shook her head.
" I'm sorry Shou, but you still have another four years before you'll finally be listed as an adult" she confessed and ruffled his hair slightly...much to his discomfort.
" But nice try..."
Shou just sighed in despair at that...while it was true that he was still considered a child, it wasn't like he was five or six anymore and it wasn't like he cried whenever there was no one to look after him...as far as he was concerned, he grew out of that a few months ago; even if he did still feel lonely sometimes, but it wasn't like he sobbed his heart out over it... however he was currently curious as to what those papers that Laura had with her, were about and absently pointed to them.
" Erm...what are those abou-" was all he said in a questioning manner before he trailed off as Laura let out a surprised gasp.
" Oh! you mean these?" Laura asked and pointed at the papers...when Shou gave a nod in response, Mrs. McKenzie just smiled a little.
" Well, these are adoption papers...due to the fact that you're partially an orphan with one remaining parent who lives away from home, the State has ordered that you go and live with your father...see here?" she pointed to one of the boxes that held a tick and a signiture.
" Jacob already signed it earlier today...so you're officially his son once more" however...Laura also seemed to give a sad little smile, it looked as if she'd wanted to adopt the young teenager too...but she felt that maybe it would be best for him to go with his actual father.
" It's also my duty as your guardian to take you over to his place...that's more or less why I came over, I know it may seem a little sudden Shou... but Jacob said that he would feel more at ease as soon as you were back with him" although deep down, even Laura couldn't help but find that pretty strange.
' Although I'd personally call that ' an act of desperation by a lonely father' on Jacob's part... but I guess I have no say in this
' she muttered inwardly to herself as she finally finished off the cup of tea and got up from the chair she'd been sitting on.
" So I suppose you should pack up the things you have and we'll get going"
Shou was hesistant in responding at first... but the more he thought about it, the more he realised that there no use in resisting when the odds were against him.
He was too young to stay living on his own for a long amount of time, it was only a matter of time before the money he had ran out and what's more, he had no job to support himself; so in the end, Shou just gave a small nod and also got up from his chair.
After that, the two of them began to pack up the essentials that Shou would need; like his clothes and toothbrush.
Shou had also chose to bring along his sketch books, text books and the Tucker's family photo album...and of course, Tigerlilly was definately coming to live with him and Jacob...who cares if Jacob wasn't too fond of cats? Tigerlily had been Shou's and Emily's and the young teenager was adamant on keeping her.
Once everything was packed up into Laura's motorcar and the house was all locked up...the three of them were now making their way over to Jacob's residence.
Shou just stroked Tigerlily as the tabby cat lay fast asleep on his lap, and looked out at the scenery that passed them by.
' I'll have to phone Morty, Sam and Julius later on and tell them about what's happened and where I'll be living from now on...I just hope Dad lets me hang around with them
' was all he said inwardly to himself.
About an hour and a half later ( Laura had a bit of trouble finding the address) the car finally parked up outside Jacob's house, Laura got out of the car and began to make her way up the garden path, finally reaching the front door.
As Laura knocked at the door, Shou just remained sitting in the car with Tigerlily and gazed at the residency that he would finally be calling 'home' from now on.
It was quite a quaint looking house and not too fancy, it was moderately sized too...and while not a State house, nor a mansion; it was definately easy to see that it was bigger than the house that the Tucker's had in the backstreets of the city...it even had a garden too!
' So he's been living the good life, er? ...good for him
' Shou thought with a frown...and that frown didn't go away when he saw that Jacob had finally answered the door.
" Ahh Laura, I was beginning to wonder where the two of you had got to" Mr. Tucker SR said with a small laugh as he shook hands with the young woman.
" Shou didn't put up a fight in coming did he?"
" Oh no, e-heh actually he came along quite well...I'm afraid I have to apologise, we would of got here sooner but I had a problem with finding the address to this place" Laura confessed, laughing nervously.
" But we're here now...Shou's in the car although I think he's a little bit tired, he was really quiet during the journey here" she said, looking back to the car and called out.
" Come on sweetheart, why don't you come up to see your father, hmm?"
But despite even Laura calling out to him, Shou refused to budge...he felt much more at home in the car than with his own father and just stroked Tigerlily softly as she woke up from her slumber.
Although his eyes widened when he saw that Jacob was now coming towards the car and tried to scoot backwards in the chair and away from the car window with Tigerlily now cradled in his arms instead of on his lap. ' No! I don't want to go with him!'
was pretty much what his body language and thoughts seemed to scream.
Before long, Jacob had reached the car and didn't hesistate in opening the door.
" Come on Shou, you can't stay in there all day...don't you want to come out and see your old man again?" the older man said, surprisingly softly...yet that just got the hairs on the back of Shou's neck to bristle, Jacob was talking to him like he was still a little boy!
However Jacob just paused as he saw Tigerlily and looked to the young teenager with a questioning expression.
" ...Don't tell me you picked that thing up off of the street just before you came over here, Shou you know how I am with cats..."
Now *that* did it... and without any warning, Shou finally spoke up.
" Tigerlily's not going anywhere! Mom got her from a pet shop seven years ago and she's been with the family ever since" he told Jacob as he cuddled the tabby cat close to him.
However, his expression and tone soon softened as he looked down at Tigerlily.
"...And I'm not going to lose her now"
Jacob didn't say anything in response to that at first, but the look on his face almost seemed to resemble the expression he used to give Shou when the boy got himself into trouble, although to Shou...the memory that perhaps showed the greatest example of that scowl was that time when he'd been caught with one of Jacob's alchemy books.
After what seemed like forever, Jacob finally did what sounded like a defeated sigh and just turned his back on his teenage son.
" Fine, you can keep her...but just remember that she's your responsibility and yours alone" he muttered...obviously that was his way of saying ' So you're the one who has to feed her, groom her and make sure she goes to the toilet outside; I'm taking no part in any of it' and before long, was making his way back up the garden path.
Shou didn't really say anything in response to that...but a ghost of a smirk graced his face if only for a moment, as he knew that he'd won a arguement against his own father.
' You never could stand it when someone stood up to you, could you father?
' the adult Shou's mind asked, not really feeling the smugness that his younger self was currently displaying...he'd lived through all of this before and he knew how it all turned out in the end, that was something he dreaded in seeing again...but he was thankful enough in knowing that it wouldn't be happening yet.
After Jacob and Laura had taken all of the stuff ( that Shou and Laura had packed up anyway) from the Tucker's old house into Jacob's house, Shou decided that maybe it would be best to give Jacob a chance afterall and pretty soon, the fourteen year old finally got out of the car with Tigerlily still cradled in his arms.
" This is going to be our new home, girl" he told her as he gazed up at the building.
" I have to admit I'm pretty nervous about it...but we should be okay here, right?"
Naturally the cat couldn't comfort him by telling him ' of course it will be alright' considering the fact she didn't know the human tongue, but she did let loose with a couple of mew's to at least show that she had been listening.
Once reaching the front door, Shou set Tigerlily down on the ground carefully and just looked to Jacob and Laura as they were discussing a few more things and Laura finally turned to face Shou with an apologetic smile.
" Well then...I suppose I should get going now, those patients of mine can get pretty cranky if they don't get seen to in less than a minute of their arrival" she said with a small little chuckle and gave the boy a hug.
" You be good for your Dad, okay?"
Shou looked fairly alarmed that Laura had to leave so soon...but as she explained her reasons for not being able to stay, just gave a small sigh and a nod...he should of known that it would just be him and Tigerlily left with Jacob sooner or later.
" Okay I will...and thank you for bringing me here, Mrs. McKenzie" he reponded as he hugged back, giving a slightly sad looking smile.
" Take care..."
Laura took note of the sad look on Shou's face...yet as guilty as she felt for leaving him with Jacob, she knew that she couldn't do anything about the situation.
" You take care too..." and after nodding to Jacob and giving a wave to him, Shou and Tigerlily; Mrs. McKenzie finally went back down the garden path, got into her car and drove off down the street.
Shou just watched in despair as Laura's car disappeared into the distance...and just shot his father an anxious look as the older man turned to go inside the house.
' I might as well see what this new house is like...for all I know, I might learn to like it here
' the young teenager told himself mentally as he followed Jacob into the house, getting Tigerlily to follow as well.
When he was inside the house, the first thing Shou noticed was that everything looked a lot more tidier even though Jacob hadn't really given off the impression of being one to do house-cleaning, he had said that was a housewife's job at a much earlier date afterall.
' The only other way he could of got the place this clean is if he'd hired a maid' the teenaged reasonated with himself...but that realisation just got him to frown, of course a maid would mean female company and Shou couldn't help but frown a little at the thought.
' He'd better not of been cheating on Mom while he was away from us...if he was, I swear I'll never forgive him
" So what do you think of the place so far?" Jacob asked as he walked up to his son with a rather happy smile on his face, perhaps over the victory of the fact that he'd got his son back by means of a legal contract.
" It's quite a house, yes?" although the older man wasn't finished there as he just folded his arms and grinned almost smugly.
" I think we could both definately agree that this beats our tiny excuse for a home back in the slums, right?"
Shou just seemed to grit his teeth out of slight annoyance; that tiny excuse for a home as Jacob so lightly put it, had been the place where Shou was born and raised...to think this man would gladly throw away something of sentimental value was almost sickening if not shocking.
But while Shou severely disagreed with Jacob's statement, he could see how it was perhaps a better place...it seemed somewhat bigger, warmer and was in a slightly more nicer area. To be continued. Authors Notes Continued: E-heh okay so I'll admit...these flashback chapters have just had to be split into four chapters instead of three, sorry about that everyone. ^^;
But chapter seven will be known as Descension now.