'SLOW DOWN!' Flere mentally shrieked, wiggling in her clutched hands, but it was drowned out by the dark images racing across Momoko's mind.
She turned down a random alley, slamming her shoulder into the wall, but she ignored it, letting the burning sensation take her and out of the racing thoughts about demons and the end of the world, and her mother trying to hide her mutant hair because the world wouldn't be as forgiving if they knew the truth. She bolted across a street, the screeching tires of a taxi and the burst of curses lost on her as she disappeared into another alley. She didn't know where she was going, all that filled her was the need to run, to escape, to get away.
"Can we slow down and talk about this, maybe?" Flere shouted aloud. "I know you're upset—but I don't understand what's going on?!"
"Neither do I!" Momoko heaved, turning another corner.
"Maybe we should go back, get some straight answers-"
"I'm not going back!" Momoko pushed her burning legs. "I can't handle that! Everything's been a lie. I don't know anything I thought I did, not about Sylvia, or the world, or—"
She choked on the words. 'my mom... even my mom had secrets.'
Momoko barreled down a wider alley, realizing a second too late that someone about her size was blocking the way. She hit the breaks, too late. She careened into another body, it felt as hard as when she had hit the wall, but this down she went down in a tangle of limbs that weren't all hers. Her last comprehensive thought at the time of impact was Flere's safety, but then there was the dark openness of sky beyond the buildings of the alley, and heat, and the feeling of suffocating. With a groan, she pushed the body on top of her off, trying to formulate an apology through the pain.
'If you're going to apologize, you better do it to me, first.' Flere hissed, more hurt than angry.
"Are you all right—you're not hurt, are you?" Momoko glanced around, pausing in her effort to push the form away so she could breath.
"I'm not sure..."
Momoko froze, having to take a moment to work through the double response. Flere was okay, somewhere... and the spoken male voice was too familiar.
"I think I might be in shock, though." He rolled off of her. "Are you okay—"
Molten gold eyes beneath an oversized cap met her wide green ones.
"–Momoko!" he finished, with a gasp.
"Lucas." She wheezed, trying a smile.
"Are you okay?" he scooted towards her, a ray of street light catching his exposed cheek. His very pale, grey cheek with a streak of dark purple strikingly popping off the jaw.
Momoko's face must've betrayed her, because stopped reaching for her to hurriedly pull up the collar of his coat.
"Too late." Momoko coughed, trying to sit up. "You don't have to cover it up."
"What should I do..." he mumbled, his gloved hands dropping to his lap. "You'll turn me in, now.... Won't you?"
She pushed herself up to sit, her back resting against the cold brick as she caught her breath.
'Flere....' She glanced around, the alley way seemed empty. 'Flere, where are you?'
To Lucas, she sighed. "No. No I won't."
His head snapped up, his impossible eyes wide. She could see now, on the other side of his face, a streak of pale beige paint partially masking an identical purple mark. There was also a sharp streak across the bridge of his nose. That explained why he looked normal that first night.... Face paint.
She coughed through a laugh. "You're a humanoid, aren't you?"
'I'm here.' She felt Flere brush against the back of her hand next to the dumpster.
Relief flowed through her. 'Thank goodness. I'm so sorry, Flere.'
'It's okay.' Flere nestled against her wrist, mostly hidden from Lucas.
"I am." Lucas wasn't meeting her eyes. "I escaped from Park Asylum, as you know.... It's not somewhere they just take criminals.... They hide a lot of us there.... humanoids, I mean."
"I know..." Momoko took a deep breath, trying to get her breathing right. "... or rather, I just found out."
Lucas looked down at his hands, and they sat in silence for a moment.
"Why...." He bit his lip, but then looked at her with a determined expression. "Why wouldn't you turn me in... Doesn't everyone hate my kind?"
Momoko laughed again, this time gently. "I didn't even know 'your kind' was anything more than a rumor until today. That's hardly enough time for me to formulate an opinion."
His gold eyes searched hers, the pupils narrowing sideways like a cat's as he scrutinized her.
"Besides..." she glanced away from his intense gaze. " It's not like I'm in any position to judge at all."
She scooped up Flere and put it on her lap. "Do you know what this is?"
Lucas glanced down and shrugged, his expression puzzled.
"It's a phlox." Momoko smirked. "I thought I wanted to know what that meant.... No, I really did want to know.... But now I wish I didn't."
'Say hello, Flere.'
'Are you sure that's wise?'
Momoko didn't see the harm in letting one other person know about Flere.... Especially since after the day she had, keeping secrets was the last thing she felt like doing.
"It's name is Flere." She explained to Lucas as Flere opened its eyes.
Gold and Gold locked for a long moment, then with a shiver and a huff, Flere mumbled. "Hi."
"It talked!" Lucas squeaked, jumping back.
A laugh bubbled up in Momoko's chest, and she let it out, releasing all the negativity and strain. She laughed until her sides were sore and both companions were staring at her like she had lost her mind.
"I'm—" she tried to catch her breath. "I'm sorry, that was just so classic."
"Well..." Lucas glanced back down and Flere and titled head. "I guess there have been stranger things.... Um, hi."
He met Momoko's eyes again. "Do you mind if I ask.... What were you running from?"
"Life." Flere scoffed.
"Emotional overload, I suppose." Momoko sighed.