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***Seven Years Later***

***Reyes POV***

Pain has been a serious pain in the ass recently. Torin, Keeper of Disease, would have been proud of me for the pun, except it's not funny. The usual slice-and-dice across my body isn't helping to ease Pain's whiny yet insistent demands, nothing is. I've become more irritable. Angry. Inhospitable. A pain in the ass to everyone around me. And a threat to my family.

Ever since Renier was born I vowed I would never lose control of Pain. For my sake. For Danika's sake. For Renier's sake. My family is just too important to me.

Lucien, Keeper of the demon Death and our leader, along with Sabin, Keeper of Doubt, isn't going to be pleased when he hears my request, namely because it could jeopardize our mission- at least weaken our ranks. I'm not saying that to be arrogant, we- Lords of the Underworld- just need all the help and forces we can get with the war against the Hunters- Dean Stefano and Galen- and the race to get Pandora's Box. They aren't going to be happy at all, but my restraint is vital for the safety of my family and friends.

I'm sitting at the dining table, driving a serrated kitchen knife deeper into my flesh, hoping for relief from my demon. Hoping his demands will lessen, consoled by my physical agony. But no luck. Unfortunately I'll need to follow through with my original crippling plan. I'll need to quarantine myself away from my family. Keep them safe from my corrupt self.

As I continue grinding the knife into my skin- it's now scraping against bone- Lucien walked into the room I occupied, flanked by Sabin and Strider. They spotted my blood coated form and stopped, staring. Even though the wounds I'm not currently working on creating have healed the blood remained, leaving evidence to my recent activities.

"My gods, Reyes," Lucien exclaims upon registering the carnage I've administered to myself. They're used seeing me in this state, but I usually tend to clean up after myself, never leaving too much to see or examine. Now, I must appear a mess. He jerks his chin, a signal for me to follow.

I go to stand, but the damage I've done to the muscle and bone in my thigh hasn't healed since I jerked out the knife literally a second ago, and I stumble. Usually I'm prepared for anything, even my body going lame, but Pain has distracted me, making me a liability. Weakly, I begin to limp behind Lucien. Shooting electrifying pains shoot through my leg, causing me to wince. I must have sliced through a nerve. The pain slightly lulled Pains presence, though by slightly I mean hardly at all. If this continues I'm tempted to jump off the top of our fortress again and let Anya and Paris play Hide-Reyes's-Splattered-Gray-Matter with the goop of my brain- usually they'd hide my pancreas, but maybe missing and having to regenerate chunks of my brain will satisfy Pain- but I don't want Renier to come find me in that beaten, bruised, scathed, and pancaked state. There's no way I'll put him through that.

Noticing my struggle Strider places a hand on my shoulder, offering a guiding hand as we follow Lucien's fleeting form. We remain behind him, as he leads us into one of the many lounges, baby-proofed after Renier's birth. My stomach tugs at the thought of my son. I'm thankful he is at the park with Danika, instead of in he fortress, liable to walk in here and witness me at my lowest in thousands of years.

Strider tries to help me across the room, but I break away from him- my legs tissue stitching itself back together now- and sit on the couch. The pain and injuries I inflict on myself usually- usually- sates my demon, but always leaves me weakened.

Lucien eyes me worriedly with his mismatched eyes, sensing my distress. "I haven't seen you this bent out of shape in millennia," he remarked.

"Yes." Lucien, being one of the first of the warriors to gain a resemblance of control over his demon, has always been a sort of anchor to me, and probably the rest of the warriors. I couldn't lie to him, even if I wanted to.

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