Here's Delilah!

And the moment you've all been waiting for... chappie 26.

Sorry for the longish delay in updating - so many things going on. Many family trips, and THEN, oh my God, I painted the kitchen and halls and lounge in my house, and they look GREAT, even if I do say so myself. Mainly because I chose the colours, and I rock. Obviously. ;) The lounge is now ORANGE. HAHAHA. I lub it.

But a moment for my thanks, if you please:

Lane: Haha, the parent paranoia never ends... my dad used to read my texts! How rude is that? And all that D-R-A-M-A you mentioned? Moowahahahaha...I never did back away from some angry hunky men. ;)

Morri: Quote-unquote from you "OO" Well said. Lol :)

Rachel: Lub right back atcha, dawg ;)

nor'nirishcraic: Hehe, glad you're lubbing it - I'm very proud of my cliffies. 'Course I'm gonna reply to you! Especially if it keeps you reading...hypnotising finger wiggling How is N. Ireland nowadays? Is it green? (I've never been!) Oooh, on St Patrick's day is it all really funky? DO YOU WEAR THE GIANT GUINESS HATS? So cool... ;)

Querida: Hope this chappie is awesometatious enough! Moowahahahhahaaa :)

Slatergirl: Suffer at the cliffies! Hehehe. I have no idea if this fic is nearly finished, cos the words just keep on flowing... I cannae tell you which hotté Suze will land, but I can tell ye...he's a hotté, MOOOWAHAHAHAHAAA. ;)

gyvenska: HAHAHA, Paul, a starfish? LOL. Sooooo not the image I intended! Here I was going for Green-Mile-dramatic, and all the while you're seeing Little-Mermaid-under-the-sea! Haha, a funny image, yes, but still... Paul was screaming cos it hurt, but probably there was a little anguish at Suze's killing herself. :)

AliAlandra: So pleased you like the description! Seriously, I reckon that's the worst part of writing...even if it basically IS writing. Anyhoo... hope you enjoy! ;)

aD3LiN3: Hehehe, I don't hate you...I just like to TORTURE YOU. Can you blame a gal? ;)

Nessie717: YAY! You feel the lub! ROCK ON, SISTAH! Does your 'Nessie' name have anything to do with the Loch Ness monster, or am I just insulting your real name? ;)

AlLiThElLaMaLuVeR: Hahaha! I lub "Henry the hippo humper"! Sheer genius! That's how I got my name - Delilah Wigglesworth. Started out in primary school and then never really ended. Although, now I'm trying to get people to call me Brian, because that is such a funky name, and if you mix up the letters it spells BRAIN, which MUST mean that people called Brian and super intelligent. It simply MUST. Glad you liked the one shots - they're examples of me being bored during school hours. :)

Alicia: Lub back atcha! P.S. I think your name is so pretty! There's something about that name that I've always liked. Dunno why. Just count yourself lucky to be the recipient of my name lubbin' lub. It's a special kinda lub ;)

annie: Is Suze dead, isn't she? MOOWAHAHAHHAAAA:)

Ariana: Another cool name! Lub it. I'll try to keep on rockin' ;)

harr: Sorry about the right arrow issue! If only I had the power to create buttons... :)

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Sorry if I missed any reviewers out! The lub is there, I swear!

Now, does Suze die or doesn't she? Maybe you won't find out this chappie...maybe I go in a completely different direction and just IGNORE Suze completely? Huh? Then what would you do? HUH? Nuttin'.

Luckily, I wasn't that cruel.

Or was I...?

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All around me was darkness.

A soul-sucking, pressing kind of darkness that was like syrup; heavy and thick and inescapable. I tried to suck some air into my lungs, but I wasn't sure I had a mouth, or an airway, or any lungs. I didn't think I had a body, in fact.

Talk about a downer. Now what was I going to spend my money on?

Then, through the pitch black, I heard something.

Without physically doing so, I squinted, and canted my head, trying to hear what the noise was. I'd thought I was alone in this…place. Obviously not, though.

I listened to silence for a few moments, then I heard a buzzing. Bees? There were bees in this place? Or…no, not bees. It sounded like something synthetic. The buzz tailed off into a zap, then started again after a small pause. Maybe I was near a loose wire? With a feeling of doing so, I looked around me.

Then I – mentally – snorted.

Yeah, like I was going to see anything through all this black.

With a pop, the buzzing cleared into a really loud, "Suze?" It echoed through the dark, rebounding upon my – mental – ears, making me – mentally – wince. The volume was extreme and I wondered idly if there was a megaphone nearby, because it sounded tinny and still reasonably unclear.

"Suze? For God's sake."

I frowned. Who the heck was Suze?

"Please." The word echoed and echoed and echoed. Please what? Who was talking? Why wouldn't they leave me alone? I was quite content to stay here in my dark room, wherever or whatever it was, feeling nothing and being nothing. It was…calming.

Hmm. Strange. That seemed like a foreign thing to feel. Why?

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.

That was another thing: how was I feeling all these physical movements when it appeared I didn't have a body? But in my mind's eye – ah, the perfect way of summing it all up – I could see myself doing it all. Even though I couldn't actually see myself.

Weird, huh?

But it didn't scare me, or disturb me.

Nope. There was just more of this calmness.

"Don't be dead. I'm begging you." There was that voice again. Annoying, actually. It was seriously getting on my nerves. I wanted to shoo it away, like you would with an irritating fly.

Because, really, who were they to beg me not to be dead, when – if I was dead – I was thoroughly enjoying it? Talk about selfish. Clearly I was better off dead if I was away from somebody like that.

"Oh, God. Wake up. Don't die."

Pshaw. Like I was going to listen to what they had to say. Loser. I bet if I showed them what it was like here, they'd wish they were dead.

"I don't know what to do! I don't know what to do!"

Well, that wasn't my problem, bud. Sheesh. Some people, huh?

"Help me!"

Oh, go away.

See, now you've annoyed me so much, whoever you are, that I'm going to just sit here in silence. Okay, so I might hum. That was pretty relaxing. Shame I couldn't actually hear what I was humming. But it was there. I could feel it through me.

And then…something odd happened. For one split second, the darkness cracked, clean in two, and something bright and white pierced my vision. I screamed, afraid and surprised, but the light was already gone.

Breathing hard, I looked frantically around, trying to find the source of the light, trying to soothe the pain that had speared through me with the light.

Suddenly I was frightened. Where was I that I would be hurt so much? I didn't want to be here. I was alone and afraid and in pain.

I wanted to go home. Wherever that was.

"Suze! Please!" The voice was different too. Louder, more obtrusive, more grating. And it hurt, like the light – though this time it hurt my head, whereas the light had hurt my eyes.

Then the light broke through again, and I screamed again and hurt again and this time I heard the voice with it – "Breathe, goddamn it!" – so my head hurt too.

For hours, it seemed, this continued. The light and voice and the pain. I screamed and cried with it. Occasionally, it would all dim, like a light bulb fading then brightening. At those times, I would smile through my tears in relief.

Then it would all start again.

Where was I? Why was this happening to me? How could I get it to stop?

I tried to run but there was nowhere to go. Nowhere to escape to. I was trapped.

"Come on!"

My head throbbed and I groaned.

Then something…shifted. I felt slanted and uneasy.

And…filled. All at once I felt full and heavy and solid.

In fact, I just plain felt. Tingles in my arms, for example. Nausea rolling in my stomach. And a weight on my chest, like a lightweight anvil – now, if that isn't a contradiction in terms, I don't know what is. There was also a sharp, spiking pain in my chest, right under and across the weight.

I realized what the full feeling was – air. Rushing into and inflating my lungs.

I didn't like it. Scrunching my eyes tightly together, I pictured myself back where I was, back in the safe, calm darkness.

I was there.

Though…something was tugging me back, back to feeling something. A rhythmic pounding on my chest that kept on flashing me closer to that place of pain. I didn't want that. Didn't they understand? Why wouldn't they go away? Leave me alone!

I struggled in the black; struggled to stay in the black.

But I wasn't strong enough, and soon I was crashing back into a solid body and feeling things.

Ick.

Who wanted to be alive when it was painful? My limbs – no, I still couldn't see them, but now I could sense they were there – were prickly and achy. My head was throbbing constantly even without that person yelling through a megaphone directly into my ear.

"Jesus, Suze, don't do this to me!"

Don't do it to me, jerk! This was so not pleasant.

It was a continuous battle: I kept forcing myself to slide back to the simple, unproblematic black, but whoever was out there kept pulling and dragging me back to the agonizing place of being something.

"Susannah?" That voice had me blinking, even though that hurt too. This new voice was different – not loud or tinny or scary. This voice was low and soothing and lovely. It was warm and comforting – welcoming.

"Come back to me, Susannah." Now that was tempting. I could picture it: gentle light and warmth wrapping around my body and easing all my aches.

But…I couldn't.

Could I?

I belonged here.

Didn't I?

No, I wasn't going to head towards that voice. Instead, I heaved my mind back to the black. Only this time I got half way there before my body jerked itself back. Growling in frustration, I screamed a frustrated, "Why?"

Of course, no one answered. I didn't expect them to.

"Don't leave me, querida." I smiled. I don't know why. It was spontaneous. And it felt wonderful. Freeing. Glorious. "I need you." That was even better.

My body was still sore, but now there was something else there to help with that: hope. Corny, I know, but it felt good.

"I love you." That was when my heart exploded.

Or at least, that's what it felt like.

All I knew was that suddenly, this thing was inside my chest, when it hadn't been there before, and it was excruciating – it was as though someone had just stuck a cattle prod into my skin.

I screamed and screamed as the burning continued – and from it spread and tha-thump…tha-thump of pain. With each tha-thump came a sensation of someone trying to force golf ball round my body through my veins.

Not overly pleasant, to be honest. In fact, I wanted to rip myself from my body so I couldn't feel it anymore.

But with it came a sort of energy.

Unfortunately, that didn't stop me from hurting as though a hundred men were drilling, hammering and buzz-sawing respectively. I didn't want to feel, I didn't.

Someone, make it stop! "Make it stop!"

"Susannah?"

"Suze?"

I gasped as my ears objected to the sudden cacophony of noise.

Only that gasp meant burning air rushing unexpectedly into my lungs, which cause my chest to expand dramatically and my heart to pound heavily and all of this set off a chain reaction of explosions of stinging pain.

Which, in turn, caused me to scream.

"Oh, God, Suze! I'm so sorry!"

"Susannah, you need to calm down. Susannah!"

I sucked in a shuddering breath, and – just like the Bible says – then there was light.

Well, a pinkish glow. Eyelids, I distantly recalled, and gradually opened them. Only the light that shone through that tiny slit was like a hundred tiny knives stabbing at the conjunctiva, so I quickly shut them again.

I gave a shuddering sob as my body was wracked with twitches and twinges. I felt my limbs spasm as blood gushed into the previously stilled veins. And let me tell you something: that is no picnic of pleasure.

In fact – surprise, surprise – it was pretty freakin' unbearable. So I felt I'd earned the right to let loose another scream.

Warm hands soothed over my face and neck, and that wonderful voice crooned in my ear, "You can get through this, querida. Just remember I'm here. I'll always be here. You need to breathe, Susannah. Smooth breaths. You can do it."

I concentrated on that voice, those hands, and did what he said. Drawing in even breaths, I felt my body relax, and the pain recede.

Something warm brushed my forehead – two lips; a kiss – and that voice encouraged, "Open your eyes, querida. Open your beautiful green eyes for me."

I tried. God, how I tried. But my eyelids were weighted and scratchy. They were dry and painful. My lashes fluttered with the effort, but that's all that happened.

Still, that calming hand stroked my hair with rhythmic consistency, driving me on even as that voice purled into me like a flowing river of strength; it poured into every crack and crevice inside of me and filled any emptiness and holes I might have had, ones I didn't even know were there.

"Come on, querida. Try harder. Just a little bit more. You can do it. I know you can. I know you can do it, Susannah."

I teetered on the two prongs of scared reluctance and eagerness to please the voice's requests.

The eagerness to please won.

With what seemed like gigantic effort on my part, my eyelids scraped open, dragging across the surface of my eyes. A small moan passed through my dry lips.

The light knifed into my eyes but after moments – minutes – of rapid blinking the pain became bearable and my eyes more focused.

I heard exultant yells but didn't listen to them as I concentrated on what I could see. I could see!

Two brown, beautiful eyes filled my vision. The concern in them was dark, but the relief was darker, deeper.

"Dios mio! Gracias! Querida, mi querida." Those lips again pressed fervently against my forehead, stayed there, then pressed hard into my own lips. The beautiful eyes stared into mine as his forehead rested against my own. "I love you," he whispered feverishly, "I love you so much." I was still gasping for breath – though why it was so hard to breathe, I didn't know – but in the midst of one gasp the name "Jesse" suddenly popped out.

And just like that, everything slid into place.

It was as though I was standing in a mirrored elevator, and as the doors slid shut my reflection was suddenly complete. Instantly, I knew who I was. And with that flooded in torrents of other information – where I was, why I was here, how it all began, etc etc.

It wasn't an altogether pleasant experience, if I'm perfectly honest.

The whole 'ignorance is bliss' adage? So completely true in this case. Why, you may ask? Mainly because those beautiful brown eyes – so caring and concerned at the moment – would turn hard and fierce with anger in only minutes at the realization of what I had done.

Oh, yes. Jesse was going to be one angry ghost. And I, as usual, would be the recipient of that anger.

Forget shaking mirrors, this bad boy was probably going to raze the whole of Carmel with his supernatural fury.

But for now, I figured I'd milk the whole Suze-almost-died-again-I'm-so-in-love-with-you thing he had going on. Jesse was probably going to need a while to get over what I had done tonight which would mean no Jesse-lovin' for me for as long as that sulk lasted.

Mental sigh. Guys can be so over-dramatic sometimes, you know?

Speaking of dramatic…

"Jesse…Jesse! I'm fine. I'm fine. Is Paul okay? I saw him go flying right before…" Right before what? Right before my semi-ascension to the higher plane? What exactly happened?

Jesse's hands cradled my face as he lay me gently back onto the sand. "Paul is not injured. Do not concern yourself, Susannah. You need to rest. We will take you to the hospital to make sure you are not in any danger, but for now you need to remain calm."

I sat up abruptly at the word 'hospital'. "No, Jesse. No, no, no. No way am I going to a hospital. I told you. I feel fine. Look." To prove just how fine I was, I pushed myself vertical.

I got to a crouch, then was washed back down by a wave of intense fatigue and dizziness. "Whoa," I moaned, lifting a hand to my forehead. Yeah, like that was going to stop the jack-hammer pounding against my skull.

"I am looking, Susannah. And what I see is a girl who needs medical attention."

Maybe I did, but I still wasn't going to any hospital. "I'm just feeling a little drained, that's all. Like I pulled an all-nighter and then ran out of coffee. You said it yourself, Jesse. All I need is some rest, then I'll be right as rain." When he looked less than convinced, I placed my hand over his resting against my cheek. "I promise, Jesse."

His eyes seared into mine for a few seconds longer, as if checking for any signs of potential heart failure or brain haemorrhaging. Then he sighed, and I knew I'd won. "Alright. But I will carry you home and you will stay in bed for at least two days."

"One," I argued.

"Two."

"One and a half."

"Deal. And no schoolwork."

This time I smiled. "Deal."

With a reluctant smile, Jesse scooped me into his arms. From my new perch, I caught sight of Paul, standing a few feet away looking pale and wretched and solid. He watched us with solemn eyes as we approached. I smiled – though it might have been a little weak; suddenly I was feeling very tired and slumberous – and greeted him. "You're looking very alive. No after affects? No lingering supernatural capabilities?"

Paul showed no sign of appreciating my humorous quips. "I'm alive," he said flatly. "And it's a goddamn miracle you are, too." Then the full force of his anger was all at once unleashed. On me. "What the hell were you thinking, Suze? Were you even thinking at all? Jesus Christ, you almost died tonight! You almost died trying to save my life! I could feel you in my blood! I could feel you flowing right out of your body and then slamming into mine!

"Do you know how that made me feel? To know that I had literally sucked the life out of you? I felt like a goddamn vampire! I felt like a murderer! How was I going to live with that, Suze? How was I going to live with the knowledge that I had killed the girl I lo–" He broke off unexpectedly and took a deep breath, closing his eyes as if gathering himself together. "How was I supposed to live if you had died?" he asked quietly, the low volume juxtaposing the previous bellows and making me feel empty, and sad, and scared.

I looked at Paul with wide, confused eyes, not knowing what to say. In the end he blinked back his furious tears, shook his head, and walked off down the beach, disappearing into the bleeding pink-and-blue sky and endless sand.

I took a shuddering breath, surprised at the acid feel of tears in my own eyes and back of my throat, and looked up at Jesse, unconsciously pleading with him to help me figure this all out.

Instead he kissed my lips, held me more firmly against his chest, and said, "Let's go home."

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...well...?

What did ya think?

I tell you what... REVIEW-ME, and then tell me what ya thunk. DO IT. Don't make me hurt you... ;)

Lub is all you need, dahlinks.