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Uncanny Valley

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There’s something strange about Jesse. 

 

When you first meet him, something feels strangely warm about him; radiant and commanding but benevolent. He doesn’t look like much, just a short, lightly muscled young man with wavy hair and warm brown skin and cheerful green eyes, but you know, you just know deep down that he’s powerful. 

 

But as you get to know him, you start to see… things. 

 

A flash of a few sets of wings here and there, suddenly his eyes are glowing for a few seconds, or you get a glimpse of claws and fangs and bright bright feathers glowing with something inhuman. 

 

Inhuman is a good way to describe him. 

 

<~>

 

Lukas knows Jesse is something else. 

 

Sure, the man is good at controlling it, but Lukas sometimes sees flickers, flashes of something not of our world when he talks to his lover. 

 

When he faces down the monsters of the night and they shy away from Jesse who’s just standing there and glowing and his thousands of wings and eyes are blazing and his jaws are unhinged—

 

It doesn’t bother Lukas very much. 

 

Not anymore. 

 

He used to want to flee when Jesse’s voice suddenly sounded like hundreds speaking in unison. 

 

Now he ignores it. 

 

He often wonders to himself what Jesse really is; what he came from. He knows that Jesse isn’t human. 

 

But Jesse acts human and cares like one, and that’s enough. 

 

To Lukas, it doesn’t matter that Jesse will sometimes flicker into something radiant and eldritch when emotions run high (obviously Jesse was taught to hide it from a young age since most people fear what they don’t understand). Lukas doesn’t care that Jesse once tore apart an enderman with his bare hands and ate it promptly afterwards and used a claw as a toothpick or that he almost seems to fly when he leaps from a high place. 

 

It’s strange and slightly frightening, but Lukas doesn’t really care. 

 

Lukas doesn’t care that when he takes Jesse into bed with him spectral wings and more sets of hands that he can count pin him to their mattress and how Jesse’s mouth on his bare skin feels burning and how every point of contact between their naked bodies feels like it’s coursing full of unearthly power. 

 

It’s strange and slightly frightening, but Lukas loves Jesse for it. 

 

<~>

 

Petra first sees Jesse and feels a cold shudder run through her body. 

 

“Hey, Petra. How ya doing?”

 

She meets Jesse’s eyes and something triggers her instincts; not to fight like she normally would but to run. 

 

Something inside her senses a vicious predator she couldn’t beat even if she tried; something feels very very wrong and she wants to bolt even though Jesse’s half her size and smiling cheerfully. 

 

She left the fairgrounds feeling rattled. 

 

But then later that night, wandering around in the woods while killing time before her deal with Ivor… 

 

Petra hears an inhuman screech from behind a copse of trees. 

 

She runs closer to check it out. 

 

The first thing she sees is Jesse, his dozens of eyes glowing and wailing as he tears an attacking spider apart. 

 

Then as suddenly as it happened it was over, and Jesse is sitting rather nonchalantly on the corpse, chewing on one of the spider’s legs with gore and blood smeared all over his face and hands. 

 

His pig, Reuben, cowers beside him. 

 

Jesse brightens when he sees Petra, staring in horror at the scene she’d just witnessed. 

 

“Hey,” Petra says, quickly putting on a tone of amusement, even though every instinct in her body is screaming at her to drop everything and run, “It’s not safe to be out here. Let’s get out of the open.”

 

She feels on edge the whole time she’s alone with Jesse. 

 

He looks so normal and so innocent it’s hard to picture what he really is when it isn’t showing through. So close to the real thing, but so far. He’s so human that he’s almost getting it right.

 

Like someone who’s used to drawing dragons being told to draw a person, and the drawing looks fine but the proportions are just a little off and out of place and it’s slightly disturbing if you look at it for too long. 

 

Jesse is a bear in the body of a sheep. 

 

<~>

 

Aiden never liked Jesse. 

 

He felt like he was the only one who could see the danger Jesse was that everyone else was ignoring. 

 

Animals got uneasy and skittish around the guy (except for that pig, which acted disturbingly human-like), clocks and compasses wouldn’t function normally, the monsters of the night straight up ran away from him, and Aiden was afraid but he managed to hide it behind mockery and rude comments that would hopefully keep Jesse and his friends away. 

 

But when Lukas started following Jesse around like a lost puppy, he snapped. 

 

“Can’t you see?” He pleaded. “Lukas, something about Jesse is just wrong, okay? You need to get away from him or he’ll hurt you!”

 

Both of them knew that Aiden meant that last sentence literally. 

 

“You don’t know him like I do,” Lukas snapped. “He’s not evil just because he isn’t quite human, Aiden! I can’t believe you can’t see past that!”

 

And with that, he’d stormed out. 

 

Weeks later, Aiden had seen Jesse with the magic flint and steel and numb terror had spread through him. 

 

Jesse was too dangerous. 

 

He couldn’t have the damn thing. 

 

And so when they’d headed through the portal to Sky City, Aiden had warned the Founder about who was coming; the eldritch terror Jesse was. 

 

And their battle.

 

Oh, that battle. 

 

Even now Aiden can’t get rid of the afterimage of the thousands of wings and eyes and teeth holding back the rain and Jesse’s unholy scream and that radiant glare blazing the storm. 

 

Aiden had badly lost the fight. 

 

He’s partially blind now, thanks to looking at Jesse while he was wreathed in those terrible flames.

 

He’s been sitting in this mental hospital for months, desperately trying to persuade the doctors that Jesse is too dangerous to be alive; that whatever he is the man needs to be destroyed. 

 

Aiden knows no one wants to believe that he’s telling the truth. 

 

<~>

 

Axel has known Jesse his whole life. 

 

He knows full well that Jesse isn’t human, but he doesn’t mind or care. 

 

Jesse’s his best friend. 

 

As grade schoolers, Jesse had always been unruly and loud and had had a reputation for being a biter and fond of destroying others’ property. 

 

Axel had been the only one who’d been able to put up with him. 

 

Of course, they’d bonded and become close friends, and the first time he’d slept over at Jesse’s house he’d almost been smothered by the family pet; a large black cat named Macbeth. 

 

That cat had acted unnervingly human-like for the twenty years it had been alive. 

 

In progressing years, Axel had practically become Jesse’s brother. Even though Jesse had been prone to outbursts of violence and often Axel saw his dozens of pairs of wings and talons and glowing eyes, but since they were kids it never seemed to matter. 

 

It was comforting, in a way. 

 

At one point, Jesse’s adoptive parents (who always wore golden jewelry and seemed to have an almost magically calming presence) had been talking in the kitchen, and Axel could’ve sworn they had blazing haloes when they weren’t wearing their jewelry and glowing wings and eyes, and he’d only caught the words antichrist and best friend before he’d retreated in alarm. 

 

But Axel hadn’t told anyone. He didn’t mind Jesse’s strange family. 

 

Jesse was his best, closest friend, and none of Jesse’s monstrousness could change that.

 

Olivia agrees. 

 

<~>

 

Jesse is a monster. 

 

Ivor has studied monsters, and he knows them when he sees them. 

 

As they wander through the portal network, the boy in front of him with an arm wrapped around the blond one’s waist makes him shudder. 

 

Ivor has books that he’s collected. 

 

He rereads the one about eldritch abominations, the one about fallen angels and daemons. 

 

He’s vaguely dubious of Jesse still. 

 

But the boy is clearly very human, even though he isn’t one biologically. 

 

He laughs and talks with Petra and Lukas, he fights with his sword and he cries when he’s sad. 

 

He’s human, but not the way you think. 

 

Ivor reaches the page about the Antichrist, the harbinger of the end of times, and the description of the thousands of wings and eyes and mouths and claws fits a little too well. 

 

But Ivor knows, he just knows deep down that he doesn’t need to worry about the apocalypse happening during Jesse’s lifetime. 

 

Whoever raised him managed to turn a daemon into a good man with a good heart and love for his family. 

 

He’s human, but not the way you think.

 

<~>

 

There’s something strange about Jesse. 

 

When you first meet him, something feels strangely warm about him; radiant and commanding but benevolent. He doesn’t look like much, just a short, lightly muscled young man with wavy hair and warm brown skin and cheerful green eyes, but you know, you just know deep down that he’s powerful. 

 

But as you get to know him, you start to see… things. 

 

A flash of a few sets of wings here and there, suddenly his eyes are glowing for a few seconds, or you get a glimpse of claws and fangs and bright bright feathers glowing with something inhuman. 

 

Inhuman is a good way to describe him.