29. Lager

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"Hello to you too, Darkling High Commander." Becky says, her voice soft for the first time ever, her head bowed in submission.

Say what?

I look back and forth between Becky and this mysterious man in the black cloak, wondering if this is the real Becky. What if it's a clone? Or a Becky from an alternate universe?

That's just my drunken mind speaking, I think while giggling.

The man in the cloak's eyes flash to me for a split second, melted gold. They're really pretty. I wonder if I held up actual gold to his eyes, what would be the difference?

A noise draws my attention away from his eyes. Is that a rumble?

I look over and see Zero literally shaking, although not in fear. The terror seems to have passed, and in its place, Zero have anger seething out from him, his grey eyes nearly glowing. The rumble is coming from his chest, which vibrates with each growl.

Having a faint idea why he's so upset, even with my drunk mind, I take a small step away from the Darkling High Commander. Zero's growl quiets down very minimally. I take the step back towards the cloaked man, and the volume of his growl increases.

Oh Zero. Your such an overprotective dog sometimes.

My mind conjures up the image of Zero with dog ears and a tail and I start laughing really hard.

"What happened to her?!" Zero snarls, turning to Max and Becky, who are side by side, protecting each other's backs. They share a look, before Becky nudges Max to speak.

"Well, um, she was in pain, and there's only a limited amount of options I could use. My powers weren't working that well, and um, you see, I had some Lecic-"

"How much?" Zero growls.

"How much what?" Max nervously laughs, scratching the back of his head and faking oblivious.

"How much Lecic?!" Zero close to roars.

The Darklings don't move, don't even seem confused as they watch this strange exchange with blank stares.

Max says nothing, before silently taking the empty bottle  out of his pocket. Zero looks close to manslaughter, but my eyes drift to the Darkling High Commander. He's staring at the bottle in amusement, and is that pride? Why would he be proud?

I wonder  if he has a name. I would hate being his friend if all I could call him is Darkling High Commander. What a mouthful.

As if sensing I'm thinking about him, my new friend turns to see my swaying on my feet.

"Hold onto the tree." He orders, his eyes softening. I stick my tongue out at him, but one of my hands casually rests on the neon yellow trunk. This jungle is so vibrant with all these neon colored plants. I wonder why I haven't noticed them before.

I'm drawn back down from La La Land by my name.

"Let Ashley go."

It's Zero, and he and my new friend are seeming to have an intense stare down. Hmm, silver meets gold. I wonder who will win.

"Ashley." The cloaked man says, looking at me with curiosity. "So that's your name." He mutters.

I hiccup in response.

Then as if it finally registers in my mind, I shout in happiness. "Zero! Your back!"

They all look at me in confusion as I push off the tree and stumble towards Zero, arms outstretched. The minute I'm two yards away from him, he rushes forwards, swooping me up in his arms and crushing me to him.

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