Note: Okay, establishing a few things. YES. This is a sequel to Best Served Cold. NO. The characters are not mine, they are MysteryBen and Artsy's. For this story, YES that is the only time I will make that disclaimer. Also, YES I am diving into a mythology I am not an expert in, so those of you who are expert in this mythology, I crave your indulgence, I am only trying to make an entertaining story, you most likely are correct and know more than I do. NO I will not be updating this every day, this one will be coming out slower due to other projects I will be trying to work on. Also MY THANKS TO THIS PERSON solitaria-fantasma on Tumblr who let me bounce my ideas off them. Check out their blog! With that out of the way… enjoy.
"Vivi dear, are you home?" The front door to her apartment swung open, the lock undone. "I was hoping to see you! I was in town and I thought I'd pop by."
Vivi sat at the breakfast counter, turning old, weathered pages of a timeworn book. She didn't raise her head or respond.
"I just wanted to check on you, see how you are doing. How are your friends nowadays? I hear Arthur's doing a bit better, wonderful job you did, how is the boy?"
Her eyes remained fixed on the book, one hand slowly raising a page to turn it.
"The time draws near."
The page Vivi held quivered as she turned it slowly. "Not if I have any say in it." She finally responded. "I never asked to be part of this, you'll have to do a lot more than talk to make this happen, because I'm not interested."
"The time has long passed, dear. I only say it draws near out of courtesy."
"So you keep saying." She scanned the following page for useful information, but none presented itself. None had ever presented itself, she couldn't read the words. She had been able to read only one page, and that quite recently at terrible cost. How could she learn when even the author's name was indecipherable? She couldn't research a book she didn't understand. But it might hold a key to helping her.
Arthur couldn't help her, indeed it would be Arthur who might need help should this call upon her come to pass. There was only so much Lewis could do, dead as he was. Of all of them, Mystery might be able to discern the truth. After all, he had been there… but…
"You fear their rejection, rightfully so. The light ever scorns the dark."
"I'm not the dark." She replied forcefully. "I'm not my ancestress."
"Continue to reject me, child, and such suffering will fall on you that you will wish you were dead."
"I never accepted you, and I never will." Her words hissed through her teeth. "Go find someone else to be your half-wit puppet. I have my own life."
"Perhaps you can abide suffering, but how much more will you see your mother endure?"
Vivi's jaw tightened. "She made her choice, and it was the wrong one. If she could speak to me, I know she would warn me away from this. You already have a body, you don't need me."
"They go so fast, you know. You would understand if you dared raise your head."
Bracing herself, Vivi lifted her head, and stifled a gasp. Her mother had aged at least thirty years since she had last seen her at high school graduation. Her hair was no longer a deep indigo, but a faded powder blue, like the color itself had been leached from it. Lines, not born of laughter but of suffering, crisscrossed the woman's face repeatedly. Her body stooped over, hunched painfully at the back so far that she had to crook her neck up to see her daughter. Her lips sucked in, hinting at a lack of teeth, and the ever-black eyes bored into Vivi's own with patient cunning.
"She's only forty you fish-fingered monstrosity!" Vivi shouted, banging her fist on the table. "What are you doing to her?"
"Me? Why nothing, darling." The woman answered mildly. "The real question is, what are you doing to her? You failed to take on the responsibilities of your line at the appointed time. If this is anyone's doing, it is yours. On top of that, you just indebted yourself to me."
Vivi's fingers curled protectively around the palm of her hand, the freshly burned imprint in her skin still smarting after a week of aloe vera treatments.
Her mother's fingers crooked as if pulling on strings. "The cords tighten, dear. You can only resist for so long. I will catch you off guard in my own time if you do not submit yourself."
Vivi's knuckles whitened as she gripped the edge of the breakfast counter. "Get out." Her voice was low. "Get out now. I don't want to ever see you again. I know what you want, and I will not let it happen. You come near me again, and I will tell Mystery, and he'll be able to take care of you."
The woman laughed scornfully. "Little seven-tails? Please Vivi." She turned, slowly waddling out the door. "If your hope hangs on him, you are sadly misled. He cannot outmatch me. Speak my name and watch him quail. When you are ready, call me. I will be waiting."
The door swung shut, and Vivi stood there, staring at the closed door. She clutched at the chain hidden under her shirt with one hand, sinking back onto the stool and fumbling for the book with the other. "There has to be something here," she muttered, flipping through the pages again. "Anything…"
Her phone chirped, and she shut the book. Returning to her room, she reached into her shirt and pulled out the pendant, a small flame shape. She held it up, pressing it into a matching indentation in an old cabinet. The doors swung open, revealing a small set of shelves, lined with fragile-looking books. The smell of decades washed out of the cabinet as she replaced the tome and closed the doors, pressing the pendant again to the wood. She pulled on a pair of fingerless gloves to cover the mark on her palm.
Turning, she headed for the door. It had been a week, and she hadn't seen Arthur or Lewis. Dear Lewis…
A Christmas feast. That's what was needed. A Christmas dinner of epic proportions to pull them all out of this slump. They'd figure out how to move on together. As long as she wore her pendant, there wasn't a problem. No need to discuss the details. She hadn't removed it once since it was given to her, and it could easily stay that way. The chain was strong, not prone to breaking. She would be safe, and nobody had to know.
Note: By the way, if you haven't guessed, Best Served Cold is part of the phrase "Revenge is a dish best served cold." So what phrase do you think this title is part of? Also… holy cow this is my 50th fic on FFnet…