Okay, long A/N here. Please read? I think this is the last chapter.

Well, wow . . . guys, I am so serious. I just came back from band camp, (I KNOW! SHUT UP WITH THE "ONE TIME, AT BAND CAMP . . ." STUFF!!!) and I checked my hotmail, and it had like, 20 new emails in it!!! I was like, whoa. I mean, I not that popular. And (sniffs in honour) most of them were reviews from you gorgeous, godly, amazing, awesome people! I'm so happy, you have no idea. I'm so serious, aye. I love you all, in total non gay ways. SO MUCH! Thanks so much . . . You are all such beautiful, kind people.

And one thing: CeeCee seeing Paul has a ghost has NOTHING to do with a mediating ability that CeeCee has. That was Paul. She is NOT part mediator or something.

And look out for my next story:

"And All That Jazz!" Parody/Humour, (Everyone in Carmel keeps bursting into song – idea from "Once More, With Feeling" owned by Joss Whedon.)

Sequel to: "Get out Jesse, and never come back." – written under the name Devil at Heart. And one thing, Purtymanagirl58, I did actually write 22 chapters of that story, thus, owning the idea of the Ghost Hunters Knife, hehehe.

Well? What do you think? PLEASE DO THAT REVIEW THING, SENDING ME AS MANY IDEAS FOR NINTH KEY AS POSSIBLE! I'm WAY stuck with the plot. I have basic ideas, but nothing amazing. And Luna and Lauren? That person doesn't die until Reunion, sorry. Mistake . . . One thing, a few of you are getting Ninth Key mixed up with Reunion. Michael Meducci doesn't come in for another story yet. And YES, Tad is going to be in the next one. Please, if you have any ideas or requests, try to incorporate Tad into them. THANK YOU!!

I GOT AN EMAIL FROM MEG CABOT!!! (Sorry, still thrilled about that . . . Probably old news to everyone, but hey? I'm young and stupid, okay?)

(Tries to suppress scream, failing,) I LOVE YOU ALL!!! AHHH!!!

Okay . . .

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Paul's POV.

She had laughed at my new look. What? Leather was SO in. These combat boots were to boot! My jacket only enhanced my threatening aura. What was her problem? I did this all for her! Killed this bikie dude, and everything! Sure, it had taken him a whole day to turn up as a ghost, but I'd found him in the end. I needed 'dead' clothes. So I made them 'dead.'

So sue me? I was a murderer now. No use turning back, I could only go further. I had homicide pumping in my deceased veins – if they did pump, that is. My mind was no longer my own – it belonged to a killer. I was a killer now. I was a monster. I was meant to be like this. I tortured ghosts in my life, and it felt like a new beginning for me, of an evil reign. Now, as a ghoul, I was meant to use my paranormal powers to destroy, and make more of my kind. It was my calling. I knew it. It felt too damn good not to be like this. When I remembered the whipped, ghost-aiding Paul who fought side-by-side with Jesse De Loser, I want to vomit. HELPING ghosts. I'd been HELPING them. That was until old Pops had shown me my full potential – what I could really do as a shifter. Shit, I'd been powerful. I'd been the most powerful, I reckon. I'd explored places that you pathetic mortals couldn't dream about. I'd seen the dark side. Been to hell and back. Sinned the original sin. Ensnared so intensely by the darkness. Heard the screaming of the innocent . . .

And she'd had the nerve to LAUGH at my leather!

Well, look who had the last laugh?

I had Susannah Simon a knifepoint.


She was lying in what looked like an agonizingly difficult position, among the broken tables in the restaurant. She was trying to sink away from me. From the knife I had at her chest. She knew as well as I did that I would do it. And why I'd do it. I could see it in her eyes. They'd gone misty with fearful realization. They were glittering brighter than ever in the light of the fire around us. Glinting with life.

Not for long . . .

Her shining brunette hair fell lightly down by her pristine face, coming out of its style slightly. Amazing, how she could fight me like she had just done, and not get her hair messed up.

I played the knife across her dress, tracing the patterns of the white lace. She looked as if I'd petrified her to stone, just staring up at me with that horrified expression on her face. Speechless, and plainly horrified. The emphasis around her eyes and her mouth was picturesque, almost. A raw human emotion – horror – staring at me.

I smirked obliquely. There was a snake in me, squirming, constricting my organs, and urging me to kill. I burnt searingly with impurity and evil.

I am the Original Sin.

Say hello?

I saw her lips, smooth and glossy, open in silent dread. She knew what was going to happen to her. But she wasn't going to believe it. She was denying her fate. It was a pity I had to kill her. If she was alive, then it would have been so much better for me. I couldn't reach my full shifter potential anymore as a ghost, but alive, she still could.

'Get away from her,' De Silva commanded from behind me.

I laughed as I ran the tip of the blade up her neck, and he hushed.

'You want to know the most annoying thing about this?' I said softly De Silva. 'I can't, for the life OR afterlife of me, decide whether I love Suze more than I hate you, Jesse. But either way, Suze is going to die tonight, because then I win both ways,' I explained. And I did. If I killed Suze, then I could watch Jesse's world fall apart right before him, thus, getting even with him for murdering me. And of course, I could take Suze for myself. Well, that is, if she came back as a ghost, as most murdered people do, from what my research has told me. She'd be defenseless in her first hours as a one, as most are, unless they are fueled by a dynamic emotion. But I doubted that.

I glanced at Jesse, grinning. I could feel my rage flare up again. Addictive, empowering, satisfying . . . Slave to rage . . . and proud of it.

Seeing him staring at me like that, as if I was doing something wrong, it just made me so mad. Of COURSE I was doing something wrong! This was what I was all about now. He just thought he knew me so well. Ha . . . I knew him better than he knew himself, and I knew myself better than I knew him, so there. So trust me, I'm not the kind of guy you want to get on the wrong side of. I have power. Power so intense, you'll scream for release. For mercy. And I'll laugh in elation, and kill you anyway . . .

Killing was an addiction as well. It felt like smoking to me. I'm serious, ever since the very first time I'd shot that porn-obsessed reception dude at that Le Grande Hotel in NY, the urge to slaughter had been overwhelming. I had been summoned to fulfill this craving. It was the screaming that I enjoyed most of all of it. Have you ever heard the sound of laughter when you tell a really funny joke, and how popular you feel suddenly? It was like a sadistic version of that. The cry before the killing. Fresh blood . . .

I didn't think I'd be getting a scream out of My little Susie though. Which was a shame, really. They gave me such impetus. Especially her screams. Their shrillness, and how they tried to call upon all the blessed forces to save her – even though she didn't know it. But they never came. This was Paul Slater she was dealing with.

The Original Sin himself.

'So yeah,' I continued to a very stiff Jesse De Silva, 'Are you gonna die first? So you don't have to watch her die? Or am I going to kill you first? What's it gonna be, Rico? Bear in mind, if you go first, little Susie will have no one to protect her. From me . . . But if she dies first, well, you know what depression can do to a guy's sex drive.'

I saw Suze give me this total "Ew!" expression, which fed my dark laughter. Jesse began to shake with fury.

But it was nothing compared to my rage . . .

'Tonight,' I snarled to Jesse, 'Suze is gonna see who the real man is here . . .'

I looked back at my Suze, and saw that she was looking positively disgusted, now, despite the fact that her chest was rising and falling like a basketball being bounced. And trust me, I was paying all the attention I wanted to her chest now.

She raised her eyebrows cynically, but still scared, I could tell. 'Er, first?' she said easily, 'I think Jesse's kind of the only real man here, Paul. I mean, let's review. He's actually "real"? Are we registering here?'

My hand tightened on the handle of the knife angrily, as I held back from stabbing her there and then. She just said I wasn't real. That I wasn't as man as De Silva was. That bitch . . .

(A/N: And quoting my reviewer, "Em" . . .)

'And another thing,' she continued, obviously not seeing the full extent of my reaction, 'What straight guy wears leather pants and boots?'

Jesse snorted in spite of himself.

My mouth fell open in wild indignation.


That dirty bitch!

With my other hand, I seized her by the chin and yanked her forward. She gasped with more annoyance than pain, now. 'You won't get away with any of this at home,' I spat at her through clenched teeth.

She glared. 'What do you mean, at home? What are you –'

Then, a look of panicky comprehension emerged on her pale face. 'No . . . I would SO not let you,' she sneered at me, but the alarm in her voice was as obvious as a black ink stain on a white shirt. I repositioned my arm so it was curled around her shoulders. She looked like she was going to try and dexterously roll away, but I moved the knife in my hands, so it was on the side of her neck. Fear flickered across her face like a faulty light bulb. Trying to fight it, trying not to give into the terror.

Too late, sweetheart.

'I'm going to have you,' I growled low, my voice soaked with suppressed passion. Her eyes went wide, and she tried to struggle out from my grip, but couldn't. I told you I'm strong.

'How did you find out about this?' she demanded. 'About me and Jesse?'

I smirked proudly. 'Oh, don't give me all the credit. A certain Miss Snow White revealed your little tryst, with some somewhat painful persuasion.'

'What are you –'

'Oh, you're not familiar with a CeeCee Webb then?' I asked innocently.

Her mouth fell open.

'You . . . you didn't,' she said, denying the answer she already knew. 'You're lying –'

'Ask her yourself,' I shrugged. 'That is, if you ever get the chance once I'm done with you.'

She received that with a heavy blow. As she should have . . .

Again, she tried to thrash away from me, but I brought the knife so it was fight in front of her eyes. They kind of went cross-eyed as the stared at the tip. She went still, but I could hear the growling anger in her voice. 'You assaulted my best friend,' she stated, her tone wavering due to her anger, 'You showed yourself as a ghost, and you told her about my power . . .'

I frowned. 'Yeah, that's about it, love.'

She slapped me. 'Don't call me that!'

I didn't hesitate to slap her back – though not as hard, 'I'll do whatever I bloody well feel like, Suze! I'm in control here. As I was since the very beginning. You didn't stand a chance against me.'

'Leave her out of this!' Jesse shouted from behind my back. I groaned. He was getting annoying, wasn't he? I turned angrily to face him. 'What?' I snapped.

'I said leave her out of this!' he repeated furiously, his face twisted in abhorrence. 'This is our fight, do not bring her into this! Do not involve her!'

I smirked. Time to dig Suze's shit hole deeper. 'I think she involved herself, De Silva, when she responded ever so energetically to my little kiss. I'm not involving her; I'm just taking what I want. Which unfortunately happens to be your girl. I love her, De Silva. I really do.'

'Oh, God,' Suze spat in revulsion, her nose wrinkling like she'd just smelt something really foul. 'This is so gross . . .'

'There's nothing gross about it, Susie,' I said, turning my attention away from De Asshole. 'There's something between us. I know it's there, and I know that you've felt it before. You know it too . . . Don't you?'

And then, a God send! I saw guilt flash in her eyes. For a spilt second, oh even shorter than that, but it was there! Jackpot . . . I'd caught her.

'I'd rather die,' she said simply.

'Well, yeah, it's on my to-do list, of course,' I nodded, and pressed the blade into her neck slowly.

'Párelo! Paul, stop!' Jesse shouted. I saw Suze's forehead wrinkle in pain, as she fought a scream. 'Don't do this! It's a coward's revenge!'

Oh for God's sake.

I turned to him, my eyes flashing black. 'Shut UP!' I roared. I mean, seriously, did he EVER cork it? He sure didn't when I was alive. If Suze didn't make me mad, by God, he did . . .

Yeah, well, he was looking pretty freaked now. Which is fair enough. I had drawn a sliver of dark red blood from Suze's neck. I twisted back to her, grinning like a madman.

She was holding her breath by then. And she was shaking, trying to endure the pain. Her eyes were jammed closed. You know, like when I used to get needles? When I was a kid and I got them, I wouldn't cry, I'd just shake like mad. After that, I got tougher though. Yeah. Weird, thinking about me being a boy at a time like this. At a time when I was most certainly a man.

The only man here.

It was surreal. That's really the only word. Like a dream and a nightmare at the same time. Pain and pleasure. Fear and dominance. Just, my pain and fear was only a minimal. I was enjoying every moment of this. Making Jesse suffer. Making Suze mine . . .

She was terrified. I could plainly see that. She was terrified of her awaiting death. Her eyes were glittering with dreading anticipation. Ha, they say anticipation is the best aphrodisiac . . . Oh, just ignore that.

But it was funny, she just seemed so strong, physically and mentally. Like a fortress.

Well, this fortress was under attack, wasn't it?

The orange fire was spreading slowly forward, catching onto anything flammable it could reach. Consuming. Even I, a ghost, could feel it's angry heat.

A mere reflection of my own rage.

'Paul,' Jesse persevered, 'You must remember yourself. When you were good. Before all of this. Don't kill Susannah . . . ' Even I heard the panic in his voice there. 'There must be something inside you that remembers your conscience. You aren't a murderer. Remember what it felt like, helping ghosts? Remember what it was like helping Alice?'

Bloody hell!

'Holy shit, De Silva!' I shouted, now officially irritated. 'Look, I'll tell you a secret. I'm doing you a favour. Knocking you off your high and mighty horse. Alice? Yeah, she would be DEAD.'

He went silent.

'I killed her too. And guess what? She's not a ghost, dude. I AM a murderer.'

Ha. I watched De Silva blanch to a nasty shade of white. It was amusing. I wicked smirk went broader, and I narrowed my eyes at him. Oooh, the realization had struck him like lightning.

'No,' he denied.

'Yeah,' I taunted quietly. 'They say it's hard to survive a thirty seven meter fall from a balcony, De Silva. Lot's of strawberry jam,' I added callously, referring to the big splat.

A lost look swept compellingly across his face. This news had hurt him. Good . . . let it hurt . . . Let it burn you up inside. Let it break you, tear you, crush you.

And then let me kill you.

The chick had meant a lot to him. I knew that even. She'd been younger, and wasn't exactly what you'd call hot stuff. Well, at least not like my Suze, or even like Snow. Nah, she was a way Plain Jane. Daggy black hair, too many freckles, and chubby. That was why I didn't have too much fun with her before killing her. I enjoyed watching her die. Watching blood drain from her body. Watching her breaths slow until they stopped completely. I'd known well what she'd meant to De Dickhead.

The world.

That's what this news was costing him. I relished his denial and anguish. I could feel him racking my thoughts, searching for truth. And I could tell he'd found it.

Stupid sissy-ass softie. He wasn't as strong as me. He cared too much. If only he'd listened to me. Oh well, his funeral. Hopefully very soon . . .

'You've gone too far . . . ' Suze breathed.

Again, I turned my head to look down at her angelic, innocent face. But this time, she was staring at me with something like . . . pity in her eyes. Pity? As in, feeling sorry for me like I was some lost cause or something. Me, lost? I doubt it. I was in perfect control, navigational and otherwise, thanks. And definitely in control of this situation. What can I say? I'm obsessed with authority . . . I ran my fingers lightly down her neck, and she sighed delicately. Mine . . . She was already mine . . . She had been from the very start.

(A/N: I just got a shiver . . . I don't have a clue why!)

*I'm Paul Slater, and I always get what I want . . . *

'Yeah, love?' I said down to her. She gulped slightly, trying to keep it discreet. 'Well, I don't think I've gone far enough yet . . .' And I trailed the tip of the knife until it was once again right above her heart.

But . . . hang on . . .

There always is that other way. The way De Silva knows nothing of . . .

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Jesse's POV.

He had my querida in his arms, holding her as if she belonged to him. His personal property. She was not his! She was not mine, either. She was her own self. I didn't have any right to claim her as my own yet.

I didn't know how I could rationalize it. I felt something for Susannah so strong and so unique, I knew that it was something that didn't come by regularly. At all, it seemed. It was an intense feeling that made me burn, at the sight of him touching her, threatening her life. How this love had happened so fast, I shall never know. All I knew was if had, and now she was suffering the consequences for my past misdeeds against Paul Slater. He was going to kill her. Just like . . .

No . . .

When he uttered those time-freezing words about Alice, I felt myself go very cold all of a sudden. Drained of emotion, and reality. No, this couldn't be true . . .

I concentrated on his mind, and to my dismay, I saw images of Alice's cold- blooded, rancorous murder.

He wasn't feigning. I fell back a little, obscurely aware of what was happening anymore. Alice. No . . .

'You've gone too far,' I heard Susannah murmur to him.

And tersely, it all seemed real. Intolerably real.

Ese bastardo . . .

Blood started rushing through my body so rapidly, I felt my surroundings churn. All I could see was Slater and Susannah, the fire, and a great deal of red.

And what was even realer was how I knew that he was going to kill Susannah. He knew I knew. He was counting on me knowing it.

'And this is it,' he said wrathfully to me, 'You're chastisement for the murder of Paul Slater. I hereby declare the execution and after-entitlement of my Susie here.' I saw the tendons along his hands tense, and he arched the knife up. It flashed in the light. She screamed, and flung her hands before her eyes.


'Máteme!' I barked at full volume, as my heart seemed to seize up within my chest. I felt pain. And fear for Susannah. 'Do not hurt her. Release her, Paul. You will kill me. This is NOT her fault, and she has nothing to do this!'

Please do not think that I'm oblivious to what I'm doing. If Paul killed me, Susannah would be safe. I knew I was keeping him here on earth. He would move on if I was dead. And, well, if that was what it took to save Susannah's life, then that was what had to be done.

Because . . .

I . . . I loved her.

Oh so MUCH.

To such extents that I was willing to die to rescue her. I'm no hero. I'm just not prepared to let that Slater slime steal away her life to spite me. Steal away my Susannah -

Jesse! Do not claim her!

Or you will be just like him.

I blinked hard, and my hands tensed. I saw that Susannah was crying. Liquid crystal, descending from her eyes.

'Jesse, don't,' she murmured. 'Don't . . . '

It was devastatingly illusory. I'd always deemed my purpose to be to help ghosts. I never thought that I would die helping the living. Indeed, die saving the one worth dying for, aside from my family.

I could see Slater leering at me, his eyes clouded with the dark evil that had taken him permanent hostage. I didn't want this to be happening. I did not want Susannah, mi amor, mi querida, to die.

I was in love with her.

Mi Dios . . . that word sounded so extraño, yet perfect when talking of Susannah. . . Love. Amor . . .

(A/N: Yum . . . Chicken . . . *chews quickly and continues typing* Sorry, unprofessional of me . . .)

'So?' Paul went on, 'Come here, De Silva. Then I'll let her go. God, I want to enjoy this . . . I've waited long enough, after you blessed that bloody house of yours.'

'Indeed I did,' I said coldly, slowly and gallantly stepping forward. 'So I wouldn't have to see your feo face again, Slater.'

'But you had to have known that I'd turn up sooner or later in one aspect of your life,' Paul said nonchalantly, as if this was a typical conversation I would have with Mamá. It infuriated me so! 'It was just unfortunate for you that it had to be your girlfriend. You know? Because I don't care what you say, or if I'm going to kill you, she's still coming with me. Mine, all mine. Ha, ha De Silva.'

'You have not killed me yet, aliento de la ciénaga,' I snapped. His plan would not work . . . I hoped it wouldn't. I didn't want anything to happen to Susannah, no . . .

'Paul, you can take your knife and shove it,' Suze said, glaring fiercely. 'I'm not going anywhere with you, you loser.' Then she turned to look at me right in the eye, and her expression melted into one saying, "You can't do this. I'm not worth your life. Just run, Jesse."

Directly, I fired on back. "You're worth this and more. I love you, Susannah . . . I will not leave you at his mercy. He has none."

A tear fell from her eye. Los ojos verdes hermosos. . . 'Jesse,' she whispered, 'Run . . .'

'He's not going anywhere,' Paul intruded, standing up with her roughly. Susannah looked as though she was a rag doll. She winced as he touched the stab wound – it appeared to be – on her stomach. One he had caused . . .

My hands felt charged with electricity.

He'd beaten her. If he killed her . . . there was nothing to stop him . . .

The fire around me crackled.

It had spread to form a tight, asymmetrical circle.

My head pounded dangerously.

My eyes narrowed hatefully.

'Come and stand right in front of me, De Silva,' he hissed. 'Real close like, you know? Or else . . .' With lightning reflexes that were matched by only my own, he spun Susannah around and pulled her viciously against him. She groaned, and he held the knife at her back, the point near her spine. She went still.

'Jesse, don't do this,' I heard her gasp. 'Just go . . .'

Ignoring her request. I went and stood right in front of him. But not quite close enough . . .

'Hey, De Silva?' he said softly, 'Here's a departing present, you know?'

And he dragged Susannah right into him, and kissed her.


Right in front of me.

His hand passionately clenched her back so it was arched into him, still holding the knife in the other. She was resisting, but I could see the pain she was in. She cried out, still trying to break away. But he was too fuerte for her. Almost too fuerte for me. He was the más fuerte ghost I'd ever encountered. And that is saying a great deal. I could see him grinning against her unwilling, unresponsive lips.

How dare he . . .

How dare he touch her like that . . .

How dare he even LOOK AT HER!!

Now I understood about how this rage that Paul had always spoke of felt. Mi Dios! It WAS empowering. I felt like I could blow up the earth, with the violent waves of powerful emotion that was blasting through me. I was almost knocked over by the force of it. My arms seemed to swell, desperate to release this overpowering energy. It was blinding, searing! Made me corrode from within! I fell to my knees, and roared, and jerking my head to look up.


With a smash that rang in my ears painfully, the roof broke off. It flew up into the air, and was propelled all the way into the night sea. Paul broke away from Suze, who looked almost dead, panting. His eyes went wide, as he followed the roof to its strident collision with the swallowing ocean waves.

But then he smirked. One that made this excruciating rage increase, two- fold. I groaned to the pain.

'Well, well, well, De Silva. We HAVE been practicing, haven't we?' his voice rumbled. Susannah sank to the floor, unconscious, it appeared, and so did the knife. Paul stared unswervingly into my eyes, fixing my with an icy gaze that could have frozen the sun. I felt it chill my heart, but not to the extent where it was cold-blooded. I was good. I was right.

I was going to save my Susannah from him.

Do not claim her, Jesse . . .

'Well? Are you ready for me?' Paul demanded, his voice loud and demonic all of a sudden. He removed his leather jacket, and threw it down just next to Susannah. I stepped forward. 'Well? Are you? I'm going to rip you apart, De Silva. You know that, right? This isn't just a vengeance fight, any more,' he snarled. 'This one's for Suze. She's mine. She always was. And there isn't a damned thing you can do any more . . .'

He threw the first punch with a roar of ire, aimed for me head. I ducked, and kicked him in the chest. Instead of falling back, he did a back flip, and landed on his hands, where he jumped at me and knocked me over, landing on top of me. I threw him off, hard against the wall. I ran over to him, and threw him against the opposite wall, where he bounced, and ran at me, punching me in the stomach. I keeled over, and he savagely kicked me again and again in the stomach, until when I caught his foot, and twisted it hard . . .

'Vaya al infierno, Paul!' I growled furiously at him.

'Been there, done that,' he retorted, dealing a brutal blow to my left shoulder. I groaned, and knocked him off his feet with a simple kick, and went to elbow him on the ground, but the mestizo deamterialized!

'Cobarde! I roared accusingly into the night. He was hiding! 'You are cheating!'

I glanced irately over at Susannah, and went still when I saw that she was unmoving, crumpled on the floor, her dress exposing a great deal of her thigh. It was not for Slater's eyes. Blushing, I stumbled over, and went to pull it down, but was kicked into the air by a robust leg.

'De Silva, there ARE no rules,' he snarled with vile mirth. His black aura looked a lot less dimmer . . . Huh?

My back cracked painfully as I hit one of the tables, landing in the fire. I shouted as the flames tried to char my skin, but I too dematerialized to right in front of him. There, I promptly kicked him onto the burning stage area, where a drum kit was still set up, and was now ablaze. He skidded right into it, and yelled.

'You are nothing but a sin,' I snarled, throwing a table at him with my controlling power.

'No, mate,' he smirked. 'I'm the Original Sin.'

I came to stand above him.

'Give it up, De Silva!' he called breathlessly, dematerializing to somewhere. 'You can defeat a ghost, but you can't defeat me.

'I can and I will!' I defied, and aimed a perfectly targeted kick at where I predicted he'd end up. He rolled onto the ground again, and I kicked his, uh . . . where ever I could reach, which happened to be his, well, suffice it to say I have them also. El pene . . .

He moaned in pain, as most men do when stuck in that place.

'I'm keeping her,' he grunted, 'Forever. She's not going to know what hit her. Pain night after night, just like I felt. I'm going to torture her, Jesse. Make her scream – ow, shit! – yeah, that's right. She'll beg for freedom. I'll never let her leave. Never. Suze is mine. I'll never get bored of inflicting pain. I'll never get bored of my Susie . . . ' His tone was passionate and portentous. He meant every word.

That was when it happened. The rage snapped, into something beyond rage. It terrified me, almost damn well killed me even. With a roar that shook the heavens, seas and skies, I cupped my hands at Slater, and channeled the fire surrounding me, trapping him in a flaming prison where he couldn't dematerialize. He howled. My hands were burning, scorching, blazing, red, but this fire wouldn't stop until the emotion – this FORCE, was satisfied that Paul was not a threat! I yelled against the pain and the life-testing determination it took to remain there, my face distorted in agony and rage. Past rage! Miles past!

He was threatening another that I loved.

Possibly the most . . .

Susannah, mi amor.

The blistering fire enclosed him in an elemental sphere of light. He was yelling. This was causing him pain. I hated causing others pain, but this was well deserved. He was heartless. Utterly heartless . . . Jesu Cristo, he'd been about to kill Susannah!


It was a faint little sigh. Susannah!

I ran quickly to her, as all of my rage dissolved. 'Susannah?' I said recklessly, scooping her up like I did my sisters, yet with more love than I've ever thought it possible to feel before. I gently caressed her face, and her precious emerald eyes blinked. She was powerless. Slater had done something to her, but I didn't recognize it.

'Jesse,' she said with less than a breath. Her eyes fluttered closed again.

'Don't let him kiss me again. It . . . hurt.'

I looked back at Slater, who was looking burnt, and black. He looked as anyone would after being in a fire that powerful and deadly. Yet, as a ghost, he was healing swiftly. The fire had gone, by then. It had been used against him, and was now gone. But there was something about Slater that was wrong.

Like I said, his aura, now black, was almost . . . gone.

'What have you done?' I choked, holding Susannah close and tightly to me.

Coughing, he said, 'Can't you figure it out, De Silva? I mean, look at her? Have you ever known Suze Simon to be that weak after a kiss? Or have you not had the pleasure yet?' he asked snidely, licking his lips.

'I have kissed her,' I retorted, 'But I mean something to her. You do not –'

'She tastes good, doesn't she?' he continued, his blue eyes bright and nefarious. 'Now if rage does nothing for you, she's something you can get addicted to . . . I know I'm hooked.'

I went solid. How . . . how dare he talk about my Susannah in this way? How DARE he?!


Then, in my arms, Susannah stirred again. 'Let me say something,' she mouthed, ostensible breath seeming to escape her quivering lips. I set her down, but immediately, she collapsed. Like she had done that day with that Heather ghost, but this was far worse.

'Paul,' she murmured in barely a whisper. 'I want you to leave. Don't bother coming back, you won't be missed.'

Paul, whose eyes were narrowed in both hurt and fury, shouted, 'You LOVE me!'

'No,' Susannah said. 'I don't. I really don't. That would be illegal, and against everything I want and know. So make like a tree, dude.'

Wow. Even in a near comatose state, she still had that attitude that I loved so much about her . . .

She could now stand, but she still needed my help.

Paul's black aura flared up. 'I should have killed you . . . '

'Maybe,' Susannah said coolly, yet still weakly, 'Beauty of hindsight, right?' Well, I guess this is goodbye, Paulie. And may I compliment you on achieving what I didn't think possible. Looking more stupid than one of my friend Gina's old boyfriends trying to dress up as Frankenfurter for a Movie Buffs dance. Leather works for you . . . not. Now get out of my life.'

Paul's aura shrank again. 'Oh, I'll go . . . ' he said in a murderous tone, scooping up his leather jacket from the floor and donning it, 'But I'm coming back to haunt you, Susie. I'll came back for you.'

Susannah clung to me firmly, as if to prove a point. 'No, we're going to exorcise you right now, aren't we Jesse?'

'Ye-' I started to say, but that el tonto débil dematerialized right there, with a dark, dazzling black light!

'NO!' Susannah screamed.

But there was nothing we could do. He was gone . . . For how long, none of us was to know. Not even he.

'Get back here!' Susannah cried out, pushing herself away from me to where he'd dematerialized, where she promptly fell over. I dragged her back up from beneath her shoulders as gently as I could. She stared at me with popping eyes. 'That TURD!' she spat, and spouted a rapid string of unprintable cuss words, 'He got away! He's gonna come back, and, like, murder us in our beds or something, when we least expect it! He'll be all powerful, or whatever! And . . . and why are you SMILING?!'

It was true. I could not help it. She was just so adorable. It was spread across my lips like a contagious virus, one that caused me no pain.

'I'm smiling because of you,' I told her.

'But –'

Only when someone kisses you, it may be difficult to finish a sentence. As I kissed her then, anyhow. I gripped her into me, refusing to let her go. She mattered too much to be away from. My arm was wrapped around her, and the other was cupping her face. I kissed her with passion that had never channeled through me before. Her lips on mine were so sweet.

I loved her . . .

More than I knew.

Her small arms were thrown behind my neck. She was warm.

'Now, this is how kisses are supposed to be,' she said, beaming at me with love swimming in her eyes. She sighed, still weak.

'Paul Slater ain't got nothing on my Jesse De Silva.'

I have been claimed.



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A/N: Now please read Author's Note at the top if you haven't already, and respond to as much of it as you can. Please tell me your ideas for Ninth Key INVOLVING TAD.

And please tell me your opinions on THIS CHAPTER! This story! What did Paul do to Suze? You'll find out next story . . .

Love you all so much, and I WILL be back with another story soon, as soon as I get a plot pumping . . .

Regards, MystAngel.