Garnet was a bit startled as Erinye interrupted her, but she smiled regardless, tilting her head slightly. "Erinye. It's pretty. I've never heard it before."
Garnet had found herself drawn to follow Erinye. The excuse she gave herself was to make sure the other girl was okay and to apologize for Mark. Or maybe just thank her for slugging Mark. He had deserved it, even more than usual. Garnet had never found herself all that impressed with Mark or any of the other guys, but considering their behaviour she had never found that overly surprising. Someday she would meet the right guy, one who wasn't an idiot. If she was truly lucky she would find someone who made her feel free rather than trapped, but she wasn't sure she should hold her breath waiting.
After all, she was a good girl and she did as she was supposed to do.
Except when she followed Erinye. Deep down, she started to wonder just why exactly she had done that, what about the other girl had made her leave behind her friends to folow the virtual stranger.
Erinye simply shrugged a bit, shifting her feet. Her beast felt anxious, knowing that it was a bad place to linger. Yet her beast still felt soothed by this girl, Garnet. The smell of cinnamon tickled Erinye's nose and she sniffed, leaning a little closer. The silence lingered longer than it should, but it had been so long since Erinye had bothered to talk to anyone beyond issuing threats she followed up on shortly.
"It's the name of the Greek goddesses of retribution." It had been the name she'd chosen for herself after she was given this gift, the power to take retribution. Her old name was only barely remembered, preferably forgotten. It belonged to the victim she'd been. Not anymore.
"Really? That's very cool." Garnet felt a thrill at the thought of retribution, at the memory of seeing Erinye's fist connect with Mark's face when he had so clearly deserved it. That had been one of those things always denied her, something she had been forced to ignore any time the urge rose within her to resort to violence.
"Are you coming?" Erinye had already turned away. Her social graces had been worn away, allowed to fall from her as she honed her abilities. The beast within her left little room for worrying about behaving properly and having manners.
Garnet looked at the girl in confusion for a moment, then her eyes widened and she started nodding as she stumbled to follow. "You mean it?" There was hesitation in Garnet for a moment, part of her holding to the life she knew. It was only a momentary choice, and yet it was also a momentous one. "Where are we going?"
Erinye glanced back over her shoulder, realising that the other girl was having a hard time staying caught up. Her steps slowed slightly, but energy radiated through her. It seemed to run over her skin and the moment Garnet reached out to touch her arm it tingled over the other girl's fingers and she flinched.
It was unexpected. Erinye slowed nearly to a stop, catching Garnet by the elbow for a second before releasing her. The touch was awkward, and yet she could still practically feel Garnet's skin under her fingertips even after releasing the girl's arm.
"Dunno. Playground?" The fact that Erinye asked it as a question showed just how out of her depth she truly was. It was all so strange to her, the fact that her beast felt calmed by this girl, the one who was so very much not part of Erinye's experience. Yet there was something about her.
Garnet thought for a moment, considering. She felt the heat from Erinye's fingertips still on her skin and licked her lips. Her friends would be wondering where she'd gone. Her mother expected her home soon also. Although she'd been ready to follow Erinye at first, now she found herself thinking about it, considering it.
The point was moot, however. Erinye continued to walk, her steps quick, practically a trot, and Garnet followed as though caught in a magnetic pull.That part of herself that felt trapped took a breath finally, stretching within her.
They walked in silence, Garnet breathing hard as she struggled to keep up. She had no extra breath for conversation and she was unsure what exactly to say.
Erinye was consciously trying to keep her pace to something slower than usual. She was so used to trotting through the streets that it was difficult to remember not to run. For some reason she wanted to stay close to Garnet though. The calm of her beast was a nice change, a chance to breathe and for just a few minutes do something normal like be around someone else and just talk. Not that she was talking. She hadn't quite gotten that far yet.
They reached the playground and without a word they settled on the swings, pushing themselves back and forth. An echo of the previous night, except this time Garnet was not alone, not daydreaming of adventure and battle but feeling breathless as she considered the girl beside her.
"Did that hurt?" Garnet had noticed the scars that marred Erinye's skin on her shoulder beneath the tattoos, finally realizing that the ridges beneath the claw marks were real. There was real concern in in Garnet's voice, the thought of Erinye experiencing the violence that could cause such marks making her ache inside. For once there was no conflict within her, she simply wanted to soothe the other girl, find a way to take away the pain. She reached out, intending to touch Erinye's shoulder, but at the last moment she hesitated, not sure if she should.
Erinye frowned slightly, looking at Garnet's face. The concern there, the pain, all on her behalf, baffled the beast in her. The thought of someone caring about her was something that had not entered into her realm of existence in a very long time. The sheer foreignness of it made her recoil a little, jerking her shoulder back and out of Garnet's reach.
Garnet yelped, tumbling back in the swing and grabbing for the chains. Instead Erinye's hand closed around her wrist, pulling her back to a stable position with an ease belied by her small stature.
Their eyes met and Garnet swallowed. The way the light caught Erinye's eyes, they seemed to glow. Not the way a normal person's eyes might glow but the way a cat's would. She was afraid to look closer, something deep within her recognizing that she wasn't ready to investigate that.
"Sorry." They said it at the same time, and they both let out nervous laughter, tension easing just a little in their bodies. They both leaned apart, once again allowing their swings to hang properly.
"I love this place. Nobody ever seems to come here and I can pretend I'm alone in the world with nobody expecting me to be what they think I should be. I can just pretend I'm alone, and nothing bad ever happens." Garnet had tilted her head back during the ensuing silence, looking up at the few stars she could see through the trees. Another echo of the previous night, albeit an unconscious one. It was simply something Garnet did often and felt comfortable with.
Erinye caught herself looking at the other girl, noting the way the moonlight traced the line of her neck and seemed to tangle in her hair. She thought about the words that hung in the air and her beast let out a soft sigh within her. "Alone." She never thought about it, not really. The kill was what she lived for. She hunted, she killed, she ate and she slept. But in this moment, her beast stirred and the knowledge that there might be more caught in her thoughts.
Garnet glanced over at her, a wry smile curving her lips. "I don't mind you being here." The words were out before she even thought. It was true though. As much as Erinye was a stranger, and one who occasionally made Garnet think pulling the covers over her head might be the safest plan of action.
But safe was the very thing that was stifling her, that made her want to claw her way out of this cocoon everyone seemed to want to put her in.
"Me either." The words were soft, so soft that Garnet wasn't sure she'd heard them. Stillness followed, or at least what passed for stillness inside the confines of the city. It was as surprise to Erinye also when she whispered those words. A truth all the same, though.
Garnet tugged out a receipt from her pocket, then dug in her bag, finally producing a pen. It was just a moment, and she had scribbled a number on the paper, handing it over to Erinye. "Here. It's my cell number. If you ever... yeah." She wasn't quite sure what to say, or why Erinye might look for her, might want to see her. But the other girl took the paper anyway, shoving it in her pocket without a word as the two looked out into the night.
A trill coming from the very cell phone Garnet has just given Erinye the number for interrupted the companionable reverie the two girls had fallen into. Garnet started, glancing down at her lap guiltily before fishing out her cell phone from her pocket. Erinye frowned, already halfway out of the swing and headed for the shadows, pausing for just a moment to look at this girl who seemed to have snared her.
"Mom, I'm fine. Really. I just...
"Yes, Mom. I know. I'm sorry.
"I'll be home in a few minutes."
The minute she started to close her cell, she looked for Erinye, but it was too late. The shadows had already claimed her.
Just for a second Garnet considered running headlong into those shadows, disappearing too. But she let out a soft sigh, shoving her cell back in her pocket and trudging home.
She never saw the eyes glinting in the shadows, never saw the flash of tattoos on pale skin as a darker spot in the shadows followed her.