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Stranger Like Me

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They both start falling, only for more cave floor to break their fall after roughly ten feet... but now Mikleo is in very obvious pain.

 

A flare of something hot shoots up from his right ankle and makes its way throughout his body, his head bounces slightly on the stone floor renders him dizzy, and his clawed side takes the majority of the fall. All combining into a cesspool of misery, pain, and a slight concussion (with a possibly sprained ankle). An injured, weak scream gets forced out of him, leaving an additional ringing in his head in its wake.

 

“Uuughh…”

 

Neither human nor seraph was doing well, Mik managed to surmise. From audio cues, it sounded like the human was lying in shock, getting over the fall as well. He was probably in pain, too, after taking on that hellion alone.

 

Mikleo has to push through it, though. Push through the pain, through the fogginess, because he’s made it this far without dying.

 

After managing to lean on his elbows, he looks over to his right and sees the figure from before standing up-- nearly toppling over in a manic fashion, the shadows hiding his features too well, and there's a deep groaning coming from the humanoid in the dark.

 

 

Nevermind, this was too creepy for him to deal with.

 

Mikleo yelps and bolts the heck out of there in the opposite direction as fast as he can get up, escaping further into the cave. He didn't see an exit behind the tall, seemingly menacing figure, and he was too low on mana to perform any arte that could've propelled him back up to the surface from where they fell from. There are streaks of light still spilling from cracks in the ceiling, allowing barely enough light through the path.

 

He doesn’t have his staff anymore. He has to make do, has to keep running--

 

He tries looking back to see if maybe he lost the human but unwittingly ends up tripping due to his bad foot hitting some rocks at a not so pleasant angle. His world spins again before he hits his head on the wall of the cave in front of him.

 

The world spun more, his head rang, his skull hurt, everything hurt and felt sore; he wasn't moving, nothing made sense , even his own breathing was loud in his ears…

 

And then he heard footsteps. Rapid footsteps-- Running!!

 

That was enough to break Mikleo out from his trance, but he couldn't feel his legs. He quickly looked around; the space was small-- enough for 2 or 3 more of himself, there was no more tunnel, a crack in the roof of the cave wide enough to only allow sunlight to illuminate where he was sitting-- too far up from him to reach.

 

He was trapped, he was alone, his voice was gone, he was scared, he was nearly--

 

And then the figure was visible. It quickly and abruptly stopped just before the opening of the small space.

 

It could see Mikleo…

 

He curled up into a ball as his world slowly began to freeze up. Neither of them moved. Nothing was said. Nothing was heard except for their rapid breathing; Mikleo out of clear and utter fright, and the human assumably catching his breath from running to catch up with him. For a long while, nothing happened...

 

Mikleo is only able to see certain features with the small streaks of light, and they didn't come from the right angle for Mikleo to even get a good look. He could only make a scholarly guess for the rest of his appearance since his mind wasn’t in the right place during the fight: It looks like the man has tattered clothes, a belt with a few pouches, a quiver full of arrows with a bow over his shoulder, and the odd sword sheathed by his right hip.

 

This... made Mikleo feel slightly safer, his mind finally catching up to the fact that he wasn’t another monster; he didn't attack him at first glance, nor does Mikleo sense any malevolent presence from this stranger.

 

He is, however, still a stranger. Mikleo has to stay alert.

 

Now that he has calmed down some, the situation at hand hit him full force-- he was nearly eaten, he was nearly ripped to shreds, he was almost dead-- And here he is, alone, with an unknown human, that can see him, touch him, and possibly hear him, too.

 

It was too much, too much in such a short timespan, too much for him to cope with-- too much pain--

 

He feels the tears fall from his cheeks before he knows he’s crying aloud. He tries to keep his sobbing quiet, he really does, but it’s too... He’s scared and alone--

 

The human sees him crying... and takes a hesitant step forward.

 

Mikleo seizes up and looks at him wide-eyed in an instant.

 

The figure sees Mikleo's distress and both his hands shot up-- a sign a surrender, of peace, that he didn't mean any harm. He didn't say a word, didn't even appear to draw a breath from Mikleo's-- a seraph's presence. He stood there with Mikleo eyeing him (as best he could since he couldn't even see him).

 

The man slowly, hesitantly kneels to the ground, releasing the straps of his weapons, lowering the quiver and the bow to the ground with one or both hands still raised in the air. He barely made a noise, perhaps to ease Mikleo's nerves, he surmised; his tears still streaming down his face in force and his lips quivering, doing his damnedest to keep some of his blubberings contained.

 

One by one, most of his pouches along with his weapons- save from something rectangular and the emptied sheath of his sword, both strapped to his belt- were laid out onto the floor to show his intentions. He didn't mean to hurt Mikleo, or scare him.

 

Rather, he genuinely seemed to want to help him .

 

He thought it was touching to a degree, but he wasn't quite ready for any more one-on-one interactions with other living creatures, no thanks to the previous encounters earlier. Mik kept his eye on the man essentially hidden from his view. He didn't need the light to assume what his build was from their current distance (in case it was all a trick), though it didn't hit him quite right to reveal his face…

 

His hair seemed to be pretty messy. Made sense, they both just fought off hellions and fell into a dirty cave, but that was all Mikleo could guess as the man crouched down slightly. The tunnel got narrower the closer it got to Mikleo-- probably the only reason he fit so well into the small space after he fell, some part of him whispered annoyingly...

 

‘Now is NOT the right time for this.’

 

The man took another step forward, and Mikleo, this time, tries backing up as much as possible against the stone behind him until there’s no space between it and his back. The human saw this and gestured with his hands to grab his attention.

 

He still meant no harm.

 

Mikleo doesn’t give any indication that he noticed this, nor that he cared. 

 

Another pause... Nothing was happening. Mik didn't even move to wipe his face, and the human didn't seem to breathe.

 

The stranger took another, albeit a smaller step than before-- he was now about five feet from Mikleo. That makes a few whimpers slip past his lips. 

 

The man saw Mikleo's worsening predicament and waved his hands out in front of him, not saying a word, but not needing to; 'Don't be alarmed, I'm not threatening you!'

 

Mikleo didn't know what was worse: the fact that he could practically understand the intent from his gestures, or that he almost wanted to believe in them.

 

He knew this human didn't have any malevolence, but that just didn't make any sense--!

 

He takes a deep breath to try calming himself. He couldn't afford to close his eyes, only allowing himself to blink the tears and fear away. After a few tries, he feels his shoulders begin to sag… The man saw this and took it as a sign to continue forward.

 

Another step, four feet away, and Mikleo didn't know what to do. He didn't feel in danger, but he didn't know this person-- why could he perceive Mikleo--?!

 

A short pause... and then another step, three feet . Mikleo quickly started panicking again.

 

He started blubbering again, too. This made the man stop again. He stayed in place, face still shrouded in mystery, watching the seraph’s tears with a horrible taste in his mouth. It didn't seem right at all... but the more he got closer, the more the other panicked. He could do nothing, and he hated that...

 

Mikleo couldn't control his emotions. They always found a way of leaking out without his consent.

 

Ever since he rescued Alisha, guided her to the village and took care of her, even though she couldn't see him, he ended up going after her before his entire life had changed with the sword from the temple. Nothing was the same, nothing was safe. While he enjoyed getting out and seeing the world with his new friends, Mikleo hated knowing he was weaker than everyone. Alisha and Rose are a powerful duo, while Lailah, Edna, and Zaveid were far more experienced than he was as seraphim. He was the youngest in the group in every way, the weakest, and he hated it.

 

He finally looked away from the strange man, letting his sorrow overpower him for just a moment. At least he could find peace in the shadows of his mind, whatever this human intended to do. He didn't care anymore, he just wanted to cry. It was stupid. It was selfish. It was--

 

Another push forward. He was two feet away from a curled up seraph, now actually on his hands and knees in order to crawl into the small space. 

 

Mikleo had stopped silently crying, and looked up once more…

 

There was a fingerless glove on one of the man’s hands, and he’s slowly, gingerly, removing it. No sudden movements... The human recognized that he was to blame for putting him on edge more than he deserved, and he wants to fix that in any way he can.

 

Mik didn't see the point in this, whatever the human wanted. He just wanted to be alone...

 

And then the glove was gone, laid onto the floor. Mikleo eyed the glove, then the bare hands in front of him. They’re slightly closed and held close to the human's chest, almost as if he isn't sure what to do with them. This made Mikleo a little curious, so he just watched, his hiccuping subsiding for now. 'He hasn't done anything hostile, yet... might as well see how this goes.'

 

The human rubbed his fingers together for a moment... then slowly looked towards Mikleo again. He paused when he noticed Mik's eyes on him again. He seemed taken aback if the slight retracting of his head was any sign to Mik. Was it his eyes? Everyone in the group complimented him on them at least once. Of course, the man would react in such a way...

 

The human scoots closer and lets out an admiring hum.

 

Mikleo... actually almost feels flattered.

 

(His breath reeked, but he wasn't about to grimace right after an indirect compliment.) 

 

Immediately after, he carefully lifted a single finger to delicately brush the side of Mikleo's face.

 

Mikleo jerked at the sensation, so did the human. Neither of them knew what to do...

 

... And then the human tried again, more softly as if as light as a feather. His finger barely touches his lower eyelid... then he wipes away the tears from the one side of Mikleo's face, ever so gently running his hand along his soft, pale skin.

 

Mikleo can feel his senses coming back to him, thanks to the contact. Judging from their current interactions, this human must be some sort of hermit or mountain dweller. Someone who lived separated from the rest of civilized society. He thought back to his weapons and tools from what he could see before. Some of it was well crafted with simplistic designs, but nothing simple enough for a simple hermit to make without the proper equipment. He had to have had some interaction with people then, if his theory was correct, such as getting extra supplies for winter or purchasing medicine not found in the native area.

 

It didn't require much for his attention to come back, the human seeming to admire his looks. Or cleaning his face for him.

 

He had to thank him somehow for saving his life, and... 

 

The man scooted even closer, just a headspace away from Mikleo's, in order to wipe the other side of his face.

 

And then Mikleo saw him, the light directly above him catching the features of the other...

 

He was... He was...

 

(The first thing he registered in his mind with a light gasp were those piercing, emerald eyes, staring right back into his...)

 

... More of a boy, than a man. A young man around Mikleo's age.

 

(The second thing that Mikleo registered was that he was rugged and dirty, but he was... in a way, handsome. )

 

Mikleo makes an audible gasp and gulps as he watches the boy, watching him as he cleans the rest of his face off. This is done very carefully, so as to not startle him any further. When he pulled his hands away, he backs off a couple inches so the seraph isn’t tense.

 

Well, "tense" isn't the right word... He stares at him, almost as if he has seen a ghost. He’s still partially flushed from earlier alongside the boy’s ministrations, but that’s to be expected.

 

Mikleo can't tear his eyes away from him-- the boy who had rescued him twice now without even saying a word to him. It boggled his mind, a human who could see him that wasn't a Shepherd, who had chosen to save him from certain doom without hesitation despite not knowing him, and who was quite frankly very filthy, but very good looking. 

 

It didn't make much sense to Mikleo.

 

The boy didn't know what to do in this situation, the atmosphere becoming slightly awkward, but he figured that the seraph didn't see him as a threat anymore. That was what he had been trying to do, which was good.

 

He smiles with a slight tilt of his head, seeing as he has Mikleo's attention, and held up both his hands to cup his face. He had inspected him from afar, but he was much more pretty up close. Since he hadn't been pushed away, he took it as permission to continue checking to see if the ethereal being was really sitting in front of him... He lightly brushes his thumbs across his cheeks, running one gently hand through his fringe, and shyly tucking one strand of hair behind his ear. 

 

'He really is beautiful,’ the boy thinks to himself, enjoying the feeling of soft skin under his palms.

 

'He really is strange,’ Mikleo thinks to himself, even if he is slightly attractive...