Carpathia III: Epilogue 13 - Relapse

Monorail Station, Rune Lake, New Carpathia

Jaze trudged sombrely out of the subway station and immediately looked around to find his bearings. He was surprised he was even there, having little interest in the late-night snack pub to which he was invited. Yet, somehow, he found his way to the subway exit, having allowed his feet to carry him there out of sheer apathy. The subway ride was a hazy blur, during which he could only think about what had happened earlier in the day.

Tokkastran Embassy, Tri-Rivers, New Carpathia

It was lucky that Kradik's ambassador suite at the top of the Tokkastran embassy was so spacious, for Toma's twenty offspring certainly did their best to take up as much room as possible. Toys and games littered the area and the chaotic scene looked more like pre-school playtime, albeit where the pre-schoolers were the size of junior high school students. Regardless, they were as decently behaved as could be expected from a gaggle of two and a half-year-olds and Jaze had fun interacting with them along with Toma and Tuomas.

For a short time, Toma disappeared into a side room with some tokki doctors. Jaze didn't think much of it, assuming that Toma was getting a specialized examniation. After Toma was done and the doctors left, however, Kradik called Jaze into the room and Kradik's demeanor, leaning forward in his chair with his hands on his lap, suggested that bad news was coming. Jaze also noted Toma, who sat hunched over on a small couch next to the exam table, his leg bouncing on the ball of his foot.

Kradik: Have a seat, Jaze.

Jaze's ears folded down on his head, knowing something was definitely wrong, as he slowly sidled up to the couch and sat down next to Toma.

Kradik: There's no easy way to say this, so I'll just say it. Toma will have to go away for a few weeks for treatment.

Jaze's ears immediately popped and began to swivel around on his head as he instictively reached out and grabbed Toma's hand, as though he might be able to prevent him from leaving.

Jaze: What? Why?

Kradik shifted in his chair as he held his head up, seemingly trying to think of what to say.

Kradik: I'm sure you remember the caffeine issue from the arena fighting. I didn't tell the doctors about Artemis's healing or Toma's wind ability, so they were surprised he is doing as well as he is. Nevertheless, the addiction was acute and he'll need to have rehabilitation.

Not knowing what to say, Jaze turned to Toma hoping to hear what he thought.

Toma: Sorry. I've been trying to hide it. With the wind power, I've been able to walk normally, for example, but it's very tiring. I don't think I can keep this up anymore.

Jaze squeezed Toma's hand tighter as a wave of instinctive protectiveness washed over him.

Jaze: Don't worry, Mr. Lapin! I will always be there to help take care of Toma!

Kradik raised an eyebrow as Toma tensed, though Jaze didn't noticed either of these things.

Toma: Jaze...

Jaze: Forever and ever! I promise you that!

Toma: Jaze!

Finally, Jaze snapped to attention.

Jaze: What?

Toma looked Jaze directly in the eye and scrunched up his face, wordlessly telling Jaze to stop talking. He was, however, too late, for Kradik leaned forward and addressed Toma earnestly.

Kradik: Toma, you're monotype, aren't you?

Immediately, Toma brought his arms and legs together and looked away, shutting his eyes tight.

Jaze: Monotype?

without looking up, Toma spoke.

Toma: That's the word for tokki who prefer to spend their lives with one partner.

Jaze suddenly flew into a flailing panic, not only embarrassed that he had forgotten again this aspect of tokki culture but moreso worried that he had just outed Toma.

Jaze: Ack! Um... No! I didn't mean that... I mean... I...

Kradik smiled softly and held out his hand.

Kradik: It's okay, Jaze. I've suspected for awhile and moreso after Ryuu showed me the memories.

Jaze fell silent, terrified by what might happened next while Kradik turned his full attention to Toma.

Kradik: Toma, I'm ashamed to admit that, a few years ago, I probably would have disowned you if I had known this. However, spending all this time on Carpathia has given me to understand that there are many right ways to live.

Toma's ears twitched and his eyes opened slightly as Jaze started to calm a little.

Kradik: If you're happy with Jaze, then I'm happy. Simple as that.

Toma opened his eyes wider and now dared look at his father, now seeing the sincerity in his eyes.

Toma: Really?

Kradik smiled and nodded enthusiastically.

Kradik: Yes, really. Now, we need to get to the important matter of your treatment...

Before Kradik could continue, Jaze grabbed Toma's hand again and interrupted, reiterating his vow from before.

Jaze: I'll help take care of him!

To Jaze's dismay, Kradik frowned and shook his head, making him wonder if his little affirmation before came with a caveat.

Kradik: After the treatment, sure, but I'm afraid that a key part of the treatment itself is sensory deprivation. I know that sounds awful, but it's different for tokki. Think of it as a tokki reset switch. Neither of us can be there.

Jaze's mouth flopped open as he tried to think of something to say, but no words came out. All he could think to do was lean his head on Toma's shoulder.

Toma: At least this time you'll know where I am.

Monorail Station, Rune Lake, New Carpathia

It was only 2 a.m. the next day that Jaze wandered desultorily near the subway station, wondering how he would manage three whole weeks before he could see Toma again. Pacing near the station, with nary a person or car around, Jaze had half a mind to go right back home, but instead, he finally decided to cross the street and look for the late-night snack bar where his other friends were waiting for him. As soon as he approached the rear of the monorail station, someone popped out from behind a pylon and grabbed him, dragging him under the tracks.

Creepy Brunette: Finally! I thought we'd have to wait all night for someone cute to pass by!

Creepy Blonde: Turn him around. I'm done waiting! I'm taking him now!

The creepy blonde guy was already tugging at Jaze's pants and it did not take long for Jaze to remember where he'd seen these guys before. It was a long time ago, back when Toma first arrived, and the same two guys tried to do the same to Toma back then before Jaze rescued him. Clearly, neither recognized Jaze, for all they saw of him back then was a flurry of claws and teeth. Toma had convinced Jaze not to alert the authorities at the time, which was a decision he was now regretting. A white hot rage quickly built up in Jaze as the blonde undid his belt while the brunette held him at bay. Suddenly, with blinding speed, Jaze thrust his hand out and grabbed the blonde by the neck and lifted him off the ground. Shocked by the strength and violence of the attack, the brunette staggered backward and fell over a lump of trash. Jaze thrust out his other hand toward the brunette, quickly materializing a fireball in his palm, and pinned him against a pile of old tires.

Jaze: You guys again!

Jaze stepped closer to the brunette, who desperately tried to scramble through the tires while keeping his eye on Jaze, but to no avail. The blonde gagged and pounded furiously on Jaze's arm, but his efforts against Jaze's superhuman strength were as effective as whacking a marble statue with a pillow. Blood trickled down the blonde's neck and onto his shoulders as Jaze's claws dug in even more tightly.

Jaze: I'm not going to let you walk away this time.

Jaze shot two fireballs to each side of the brunette's head, close enough to singe his hair, sending him wincing and curling up into a little ball. While the brunette whimpered pathetically, Jaze tightened his grip on the flailing, kicking blonde and moved closer to the sobbing, wet mess that was in front of him. At that moment, something inside Jaze changed, like a switch had been flipped, and whether it was from a sudden realization of what he was doing or from the sight of the pathetic lump that quivered before him, he did not know. Jaze pulled his hand away, dousing the fire, and tossed the bloody blonde into the tires next to the brunette.

Jaze: Go. And don't come here again.

The two guys glanced at each other momentarily before taking off into the night, leaving Jaze standing where he was, slowly returning to normal.

Heart heavy, Jaze contemplated going home, but instead meandered toward the snack bar only because it was closer. With a heavy sigh, he opened the door and walked in. The snack bar was a fairly closed up space with all of the tables and seating around the outer walls in semi-enclosed booths, which came as a relief as Jaze did not want people staring at him. In short order, he found the booth with Adell, Artemis, and Kaoru, who waved him in exuberantly. Jaze silently took a seat.

Kaoru: Jaze, are you shaking?

Jaze glanced down at his hands which were, indeed, trembling. Assuming the truth would have to come out sooner or later, he decided to go ahead and tell of his recent encounter.

Jaze: I almost killed two people today.

Adell pushed a plate of chicken wings toward Jaze.

Adell: If you want to tell us about it, I'll get you a beer before you start.

Jaze shook his head.

Jaze: Just a soda. I've decided that I'm not going to have anything Toma can't have, aside from meat, of course.

There was a pause for just a moment before Adell responded with surprising enthusiasm.

Adell: Alright, then! I'll get you a soda!

Adell was gone only briefly before returning with a soda for Jaze. After a bite of a chicken wing, Jaze started with his story from the moment he came out of the subway station.

Commissioned art in this episode from:
Atomic Clover

All city pictures from SimCity 4

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