The Three Fates

All disclaimers apply.

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Paradise: Julia

It wasn't planned. I swear to God it wasn't . . . although at this point, I'm sure God has turned a deaf ear to anything I have to say. But that's fine. I'll make my own fate, my own destiny, and continue living on borrowed time. We all have to die someday; I won't bemoan the state of my soul until then. Some people might say that's too late, but it's just in time for me. I do my best talking with a gun to my head, or with the fires of Hell at my back. Most women do.

When I met them, they were brothers. There's no other word for it. Whether literally or in the bloodless sense, the two of them might as well have been twins. Fraternal at best, but twins no matter how you put it. They moved differently . . . one with fluid ease, the other with catlike ferocity . . . different, yet alike. They looked different . . . one tousled and tanned and seductively rumpled as if he had just rolled out of bed with a cherished lover, the other pale and neat with iron calm and mediated perfection like a hunter carved from white jade . . . somehow, still alike. Their eyes were different, one set mismatched, melting mahagony, the other icy, translucent gray . . . but with similar challenges within their gazes, similar arrogance and fierceness.

At first glance, you would say they were nothing alike, nothing at all. But then . . . I saw them fight together. The way they spoke, the way they moved--wordless communication, flawless articulation, perfect unison, to the point of reading each others' minds, it seemed. Like making love, only with ice-cold clarity. And when facing death, fearlessly, mockingly, they would smile.

God, that smile. Slim, serpentine, chilling to the core, the smile of a fallen angel who never really liked Heaven anyway and couldn't wait to meet the innocent Eve and seduce her into a demon's embrace.

That was what they had in common the most. That terrible, beautiful smile.

I'll tell you the truth. I liked the one with mismatched eyes first. Spike. I did. He was so irreverant, so cool and languid, liquid marble, as if he hadn't a care in the world. Mocking his body with those damn cigarettes--God, he was the worst chain smoker I'd ever seen--and yet capable of running up twenty flights of stairs without slowing down. I saw him do it.

So why didn't I choose him first? He scared me, to be perfectly honest. Nothing fooled him, no type of tough act or smart remark made him any less perceptive of truth, any less accepting of the most horrible facts. Those mismatched eyes peeled away my layers with a single lazy glance paired with an easy grin. He saw me, all of me, whether I wanted him to or not.

He promised without words to be both a best friend and a lover, know all my secrets and show me his.

So, yeah, he scared me shitless.

And so, when the other offered, I accepted. The safe choice.

Not to say the other, Vicious, was in any way safe. The things in him that didn't phase me or Spike frightened everyone else around him. He didn't have that name just to be cute; it fit too well. There was a reason why he chose to kill with a sword, that long katana of his. It made killing more personal, more real. And yet he was a cold killer, uncaring. Where Spike did what he had to, Vicious drew it out. He lived for the hunt, for the game, us simply proving we were better than the rest. A white tiger dropping silently from the trees, or an albino snake, injecting lethal poison for no other reason than being disturbed.

Vicious. Yes, an appropriate title.

But that was okay. Vicious could never disturb me, assassin though he was. He took me as I was, blonde bombshell, sleek leather-clad killer, seductive deciever, accepted all of my facade without comment, and I wanted that so much. Whether or not he knew of what I showed him, either of them, that wasn't real . . . who knows? Most likely he didn't care, at first.

Then, suddenly, it got deeper than that. It went wrong.

In the beginning, we were the best. The Three Fates, those around the Syndicate named us jokingly. They called me Paradise because I would taunt mercilessly, called Vicious Damnation because he condemned without hesitation, and called Spike Purgatory because he never seemed to give a damn either way. We were the Fates, the best there were in the business, tight-knit, unbreakable, unstoppable. One day we would rule the Clan. Everyone knew it, and no one hoped for anything less.

It was so perfect. So right. And of course, it went straight to Hell.

To this day, I'm not sure how it happened. It crept up slowly, unseen, undetected until it was far too late. Hanging out when Vicious had a loner mission, late nights at bars playing pool and hustling cards and starting brawls, which Vicious deemed utterly immature, racing zipcrafts at breakneck speeds just for the hell of it, while Vicious cursed us from the sidelines.

At first, it was innocent, just his best friend and his girlfriend, his partners, enjoying each other's company. But then . . .

Slowly, the conversations got deeper. Slowly, Spike sifted through my layers until he found the true me, and I stared into his strange, two-colored eyes for a millisecond too long, seeing things that tugged at portions of my soul left dormant for ages. And when the day came that those mismatched mahagony eyes looked at me with nothing less than love, I knew I was doomed. I knew I wanted him, all of him, knew that I could live my life with him . . . happy, truly happy, for the first time in ever.

I also knew it would never happen.

Vicious . . . wasn't stupid. He knew the moment it happened. I remember that day Spike and I returned to the Loft after an endless night, staring at the stars and making confessions and acting on desires that we knew weren't right, could only destroy everything we'd ever valued. But we didn't care. Not then.

We approached the Loft, speaking softly, trying to decide what to do, if there was anything we *could* do . . . and there was Vicious, standing at the top of the stairs, hands in the pants pockets of his impeccable suit. Watching us with those frozen, analytical eyes. Back two days early from a solo mission.

In that moment, he knew. We knew he did.

And there wasn't a damn thing we could do about it.

I'm not so arrogant as to believe I was the one that solely tore those two brothers apart. No, it wasn't just me. I was just the added stone on an ancient bridge that finally collapsed under the weight. Just one more piece to the quiet resentment that existed between them, the shred of curious distrust that was nothing before me and everything afterward.

Everything fell apart.

What happened next was a hazy blur, a dream so far gone into a nightmare that it was impossible to even see the transition. Suddenly, Spike was laying in a bloody heap in front of my apartment door, half-dead, Vicious was holding a gun to my head, telling me I would never live to see the sun rise unless I killed the man I loved, and it seemed like the Syndicate itself had become our enemy.

Spike wanted out. And he wanted me to go with him.

I was so stupid to believe that a woman like me could ever be happy.

I did the only thing left to do. I ran. I ran and I didn't stop running. I ran . . . and the pallid tiger chased, ever present. I hadn't done as he'd wanted, and so I would never find peace.

I disappeared from sight, never in one place for too long. The only time I made any kind of connections was on Callisto, one frozen stormy night in a place called The Blue Crow, with a man who wasn't just a man, who played the sax like a willing lover.

But I didn't stay long. I kept moving. I'll always be moving, until the hunter finally catches up to me, and tears my traitor's heart clean from my body.

And now . . . right now. I look back and I won't say I'm sorry. I may or may not be, but it doesn't matter. I do, I did, what I've always done. I lie, like all women lie, because we were molded by a race that doesn't understand the truth. I betray, because my soul is too scarred to trust, to believe, in anything anymore. I run, because I can't face who I am, what I've done.

And I want. I want most what I can never have without a price that's too high to pay. A price that will be paid anyway, regardless of what I do or where I go. I found something worthwhile, something real, for the first time in my life, and I let it slip away. Now I know I can't get it back. Ever.

I'll see them again. One day soon. The three years of running, of waiting, are drawing to a close, and the Three Fates are destined to come together again. Paradise, Purgatory, and Damnation.

Like I said, I make my own fate, and I know I'm living on borrowed time.

Time's up.

~end~

Author's Note: If the reviews are good, I'll make this into a trilogy, with POV's from the other two people in this twisted triangle. It's all up to you readers. Later.