It stirs.

I try to hide it from everyone. Even Bal is unaware of it. He did his own half good, so long ago already. The memory's already fuzzy... but he saved us from our shared demons.

Or so he thought, anyway.

Even though we were infected with the same goddamn thing, the creature split in two, each half taking in something from its host. Being an Aragami, it didn't take on the brightest qualities, oh no. Damn asshole grabbed the worst aspects of each of us and ran with them. My brother's part... it was abrasive, unreserved and cocky, full of itself and ready to take on the world, just like him. Because of this, it squandered its chance to make good on its promises, wasted its one and only opportunity to take over, and got killed for its trouble.

Mine was, is, and will forever be something else entirely. It's more insidious, more insistent, it bides its time. It does not care for the spotlight, and acts just as it thinks it must. It lurks just outside of my mind, clawing, trying to find a way in. Trying to find a way to force me out. And each time it comes closer.

These last few days have taken their toll on me... every night feels like it's just one nightmare after the other, but I know there's something in there, something more than mere thoughts to be dispelled by the light of the sun.

The first day was no different from usual, and I hid it from everybody. Alice didn't notice it, heavy sleeper that she is, and I just pretended nothing happened, as I had so many times before. The second night, however, the thrashing was wild, and I'm sure she noticed. But she pretended not to, just as I pretended not to notice the many times she'd had restless nights due to the nightmares of the Aragami attack I rescued her from. I figured I'd only talk if she approached me first, and it seems so did she. They receded after a time.

After the event transpiring for the third night in a row, something that never happened before, I could not afford to have a little girl in the house of a woman who could act unpredictably at a moment's notice. My consciousness, damned softie that it is, would never forgive me if I took that chance, even if nothing came to happen in the end. So I sent her off a couple of days with her uncle and her cousin. She seemed happy enough, and Bal didn't ask too many questions, though I still think he noticed something off. However, since we've never kept any secrets, he doesn't have any reason to suspect... right?

The fourth night was agonizing. I felt as if my whole body was submerged in boiling lava and freezing water at the same time, and the next morning the bedsheets were ravaged and torn apart. Almost as if they were attacked with claws... I did not dwell too much on it. For my own sake.

Last night was no different, however. The dreams were a little less vivid, granted, and the bed wasn't completely destroyed, but when I woke up I could feel my insides boil, I saw some blood stains here and there and I could swear my nails were a little more pointy than I remember them being the night before. I tried to lie down in bed, see if I could recover, if I could just shrug it off, but it was no use. Now... now I'm too weak to go to work. I've called in to the Branch and reported sick. Must've surprised them, since I hardly ever take a day off, but I feel so tired and feeble I can barely make it to the counter and prepare some tea before I collapse in the sofa.

Now I can feel it stir while awake. It's subtle, it's like a whispered conversation far away in a library at the time of closing. It's almost like it isn't there, like you're just imagining things, but once you notice it you can't focus on anything else.

The headache does not go away. I can feel my head beating to the rhythm of my heart, and the pain is greater than that any Aragami's ever made me suffer before. I drop the cup of tea, and as it smashes against the floor I grab my head in pain and yell with all I have, letting it all out. The pain does not go away. The other half stirs, at the edge of consciousness this time, probing to see if my mind will give out in hopes of making the damn pain go away.

I feel myself... change. My hair stands on end, my nails turn into claws and my scream begins to echo even though it shouldn't. It's taking over. I can feel it, satisfied, almost as if a smug smirk adorned its non-existant face. Gloating, enjoying itself, taunting me over my failure. I begin to feel like I can't tell what's in my mind and what's actually happening anymore.

"LIKE HELL YOU'RE GETTING AWAY WITH THIS!," I hear my own voice say, not sure if I actually spoke or if it was a thought... at this point, it's hard to tell one from the other. But I begin to push back, on instinct. I've no idea what I'm doing, but I'm not letting it take over me just like that. You're not getting this. I've kept myself going for so long just for you to come and do this, to take all my hard work for yourself and wreak havoc with it? No. Not a chance.

The satisfied smirk is gone, replaced by a grimace. I can feel it clawing inside, its long fingers desperately trying to find a grip from which to pull back against the tidal wave pushing it away, but it can't. It goes away. It can't help but go away.

It all returns to normal afterwards. I find myself lying on the floor, curled up, grabbing my head. It's gone.

For now.

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