The glint off the top of the water as it pounded against the bridge's structure would have set the scene for a romanticised view if it had not been for the destruction that lay about them. The rise of the sun cast a spotlight over every inch of devastation that had occurred in the past year or so across San Francisco. Golden Gate Bridge, itself, was still undergoing repair. It had almost completely been restored, but today the machinery sat quietly on the banks of the shoreline by Fort Point Lookout while Wyatt and Bianca stood atop the pylons high above the city searching for their newest foe.
"How is," Bianca began, shifting her feet awkwardly as her heels caught the cracks in the metal, trying to find a stable spot to stand on. "How is this going to help us find them?"
"It's high enough away from all irritants for me to easily locate them," Wyatt explained.
Bianca apprehensively looked down at the road below them. "I don't know about this."
"It'll be fine," Wyatt reassured her. "She hasn't got anyone on her side who can find us."
Bianca glanced back to him, folding her arms and settling back as she watched him stand before the edge, positioning himself in an upright meditative pose before closing his eyes and lifting his head. Another minute or two passed as he continued trying to sense for them. Bianca noticed him stiffen slightly.
"Wyatt? What's wrong? Did you find them?" she asked. Wyatt screwed his face up, shaking his head as if he were trying to shake off a feeling. Bianca stepped towards him. "What is it?"
"It's too strong," he growled. "It's worse here."
"What is?" Bianca asked. She looked around quickly, noting whether there were any signs of danger, but they continued to remain isolated. "No-one's here. You're…" She trailed off as his eyes opened. His gaze shifted to her. The irises looked darker than normal. "Wyatt. Fight it."
"You're trying to blind me," he said to her.
"No. Don't let it take over you."
With a burst of energy she felt him push at her. She heard her heel snap and the echo of her scream as she fell back. Hastily she reached forward to grasp hold of something. Her hand came in contact with the edge of the pylon. Seconds later she felt warmth as a hand grabbed her other wrist. Eagerly she gripped his arm, her face turning up towards him as her breath and heart raced. She felt the scraping of her fingers along the hot metal as her other hand slipped. She glanced down, feeling as if gravity was pulling her towards the road for a very grisly death. Wyatt lowered himself down, now the only thing keeping her where she was.
"Wyatt," she pleaded. She felt his hand loosen around her and she gripped harder, trying to stop herself swinging as she looked back up to him. "Wyatt, please. Don't let me fall."
"You think that you're worthy to be saved?" he asked her.
"You did once," she reminded him. "Please. Don't let it do this to you. I love you."
He seemed to consider this for a moment with a dark and empty stare before opening his hand completely. She closed her eyes, her hand knocking the ridges of his palm as she slipped. The amount of concentration needed to shimmer herself out of danger did not come as plaguing thoughts prospered in her mind, telling her she was going to die. She felt air, the dropping sensation becoming disturbed as her matter drifted in a completely different direction. She opened her eyes as she felt warmth – not the wet, draining liquid that preceded death, but the comforting grasp of Wyatt's hand around hers. She was back on the bridge beside him. She was safe. He'd orbed her back, but who knew when he was going to change his mind again. Scared and upset she shoved his hand away.
"Bianca," he said softly. He pulled her into his arms, holding her tightly as he dropped his face guiltily onto her shoulder. Her body went limp, complying with the touch, knowing he was wholly back now that the threatening tone had been lost. "I'm so sorry. I didn't want to hurt you. Please forgive me. I love you."
"How am I meant to believe that when you keep trying to kill me?" she queried.
"It wasn't me, I swear," he said, drawing back. "I found Veronica and her compatriots. They're near the eye. I must have accidentally locked onto it. I could feel it influencing me, elevating my anger, exacerbating negative thoughts… it's like breaking the wall of a dam, everything comes rushing out at once with too much force to control."
"We need to get rid of it," she insisted. "Where's the book?"
"Where it always is, but there's no time. We have to get to them before anything happens."
"I don't want it to take over you."
"Well I'm not going to destroy it first. It'll better our chances this way."
"You're playing with fire, Wyatt. You can't control something so volatile."
"If my parents can control The Hollow, and believe me that was a much stronger force than this, then I can manage it. I'm not going to let the Eye of Acrilya beat me."
Bianca stared at him resolutely. She knew no matter how much she fought him, tried to drum reason into him, he wouldn't listen. He would be determined to have his way.
She followed him down to the construction area. Empty of life, the machines sat silently like hollow shells of sleeping ghosts, sure to awake at any time with a groan and a roar. The dirt beneath them had cracked and shifted, leaving great canyons to plunge into around the site. Bianca surmised this had to have been caused by the earthquake, nowhere on earth would natural erosion have happened so quickly.
She stepped cautiously between two bobcats, pausing when she heard a tinkering sound – the echo of metal tapping metal in a taunting fashion. She could feel her heartbeat increasing, hairs raising off her skin like goosebumps as she looked around quietly, waiting for an ambush. There was no movement. She couldn't see anyone. She was beginning to think paranoia was getting the better of her. There was a crunch of rocks sliding across the dirt behind her and she spun, at the ready.
"I think that would be thwarting our purpose," Wyatt said, glancing down to the dagger in her hand as the point pressed into his abdomen.
"Hence why I stopped," Bianca returned smartly. "Did you find anything?"
"Not over there. I thought they would have surrounded you by now."
"For a public smackdown? I don't think so. You know I'm more mindful than that."
"Shh," he commanded suddenly. Glimpsing around, he pulled her down behind one of the vehicles, flattening his back against the wheel. "They don't sound very prepared for a rebellion."
"That doesn't mean they aren't," Bianca said.
Wyatt rolled onto his hands and knees, peeking around the edge of the vehicle. He pushed himself back to sit beside Bianca.
"They don't have any weapons," he remarked.
"That's because they can conjure them, remember? All Phoenix can."
"I don't think I need to be reminded that you and they are formidable opponents."
"Do you really believe that?" Veronica asked.
Wyatt whipped his head back in the direction of her voice only to discover that the witch wasn't addressing them. Her discussion with the Phoenix and other underworld representatives had simply elevated in volume enough for Wyatt and Bianca to overhear.
"The way I see things, he isn't helping us at all," Veronica continued. "You place so much assurance in the fact that he is a healer, that he is some almighty power who just so happened to be born the day magic died. But he's not indestructible. He's not a God; he's a witch with a good reputation. Who knows how much truth comes with that legend? You follow blindly as if he knows where he's going. He's no better than the rest of us. He certainly doesn't understand us. He doesn't see killing as an art form like we do. He doesn't see killing as a job like we do. He is the son of all that is good and solely views what he does as justice, as the right thing. How many of you suffered for his plight? How many of you have seen your homes and lives destroyed at his bidding? He is reckless and wanton, placing all his faith in the one person who continually betrays us. She brought Michael to his death and all of you into this slavery. Would you allow her to continue to influence him so that you may be further victimised? Or will you stand with me to oppose this injustice?"
There was a roar of support from those gathered around her. Defeated, Bianca dropped her head back against the side of the vehicle. Wyatt contemplatively drew his lips to the side as he listened.
"No longer shall we be misguided by the loins of men or traitorous harlots," Veronica continued. Wyatt looked to Bianca. "It is time to revolt."
Wyatt shifted his gaze to the digger and waved his hand. The controls moved, sparking it to life as it rolled towards the group.
"What are you doing?" Bianca asked as Wyatt watched it head away from them.
"I'm not going to allow her to continue degrading you like that."
Bianca gave a small, brief smile at his protective attitude. "You need to be a little stealthier or you're going to reveal where we are."
"You can't always hide, Bianca," he advised.
Standing, he turned and lifted his hands. The vehicle that they had been using for sanctuary telekinetically flipped into the air, bearing down on a number of Phoenix. The rolling bobcat at the same time managed to knock down another section of the group. Now alerted to his presence, Veronica turned and conjured a weapon, as did those still standing. Bianca quickly climbed to her feet, surveying the damage, feeling both frightened and furious at what he'd done – he'd wilfully exposed them and was blatantly showing off his powers to prove he was no second-rate made-up legend.
"I never claimed to be a god, but I'm a damn good witch," Wyatt said, striding forward and lifting his arms side by side in front of him. Continuing the motion, he circled up and over his head. Two demons in front of him found themselves lifted into the air and thrown over his form, crashing to the ground before Bianca. Apprehensively she took two steps back. "Don't try to tell me otherwise."
Clasping the dagger in one hand, Veronica lifted the other and sent an energy ball his way. The blast hit him in the chest, knocking him back.
"Don't you know it's rude to eavesdrop?" she called.
"Funny that. I don't see you following your own advice," he returned, sitting up. "Or is that kind of behaviour solely reserved for liars who plan to mutineer?"
Veronica lowered her hand with a scowl, lunging forward and hurling the dagger towards him. As Wyatt climbed back to his feet, he glanced up to see the weapon heading towards him. Quickly he raised his shield, the point of the blade making an audible clinking sound as it hit the barrier, the blue bubble flaring with sparks as the dagger fell to the ground. Veronica shimmered before him, scooping the blade into her hand and glimpsing up at him.
"You could have been good for something," she said.
"I waved that moment goodbye long ago," he said.
As he lowered his shield she shimmered back to her former position, a fair distance away from him so that she could pre-empt any attack he had to offer. Wyatt shook his head at her cowardice, lifting his hand and conjuring his own energy ball with a flick of his hand. With one throw he encouraged the others to do the same, only he was the target. He raised his shield again, knowing he could not continue to fight with this barrier in the way. He glanced back to Bianca to see her staring down at the two he had thrown at her feet. She still hadn't moved.
"Bianca, move!" he commanded. "Don't stand there frozen like a rabbit caught in a hawk's shadow!" Bianca glanced up to him. "You want me to piss you off?"
Bianca's jaw moved, but she couldn't get any words to come out. She was letting them attack him, and she was doing nothing to protect herself. They were going to both end up dead if she continued this. She heard someone shimmer behind her and the sound was enough to move her into action. She leant forward and reverse kicked, hearing her heel make contact. Spinning, she followed the move with another blow from her fist.
"Light blast you, you light-blinded orgone!" she heard someone call.
All of a sudden it became very bright. Bianca raised her hand to her eyes to shield them. Seeing she was in trouble, Wyatt lowered his shield and saw Veronica again taking aim with the dagger. At first he thought she was aiming at him, and smiled cockily when he saw she was way off, only to realise it was heading for Bianca. Orbing over to her, he grabbed her around the waist and orbed her out of harm's way.
"Are you alright?" he inquired, brushing her hair away from her eyes upon their landing. "Can you see?"
She blinked a few times. "Yeah."
"How many fingers am I holding up?" he asked, his hand in front of her face.
"One… three… if you hit me with that fist I'm going to kill you," she said.
He smiled at her ability to joke around at a time like this, pleased to see she kept up with his changes, and pulled her towards him.
"I think it's about time I finish this. I want you to stay here, I don't want to see you hurt again," he said.
"Wyatt, no," she said. "Stay. Don't go back there without me."
He kissed her gently on the forehead. "I wish there was another way but there isn't. Either Veronica wins or I do, and I'd much prefer the latter."
"You don't have to do this alone," Bianca said.
"When this is all over, I want you to do something. Remember us," he whispered, softly pressing his lips against hers. "Remember that we found our way to one another, that we loved one another, that we tried."
He orbed away. Bianca lowered her head, heartbroken, summoning up the energy she needed to follow him. She wasn't going to let it end this way.
She arrived to see that the number had been greatly reduced. From what little she had done, and the vast amount Wyatt had defeated, it looked like an easier task for them to overcome. But they didn't count on those that were left. Slinking along the outer edge of the concrete mixer, Bianca peered around the edge to see Wyatt orb his trusted sword into his hand.
"That doesn't scare me," Veronica remarked. Wyatt lunged towards her and she successfully avoided his attacks, on occasion parrying them with her own weapon. She glanced off to her right. "You seem to forget who exactly is on my side."
Another witch stood adjacent to them. He lifted his hands towards Wyatt as Veronica quickly pulled back. Wyatt looked with confusion at his sword as it seemed to bend like simple plastic melted by the heat. Drawing the handle back towards his body he felt it tug against him, then with a sudden force of power it flew from his grasp. His left arm followed in the same direction, and he felt with great pain his bracelet being ripped from his wrist. Crying out, he pulled his arm back towards his body, rubbing the rapidly forming mark that had been left in the metal cuff's absence.
"If you were a better leader you would have kept a roster of who exactly you've been capturing," the witch advised, holding his newly acquired metal materials triumphantly in the air.
Wyatt glanced towards the man but his vision suddenly became obscured by another – the same person he'd seen attack Bianca earlier.
"Sightburner take you, you over-ambitious son of a witch!" he called.
Wyatt's vision blurred and suddenly pain seared through his eyes. He fell to his knees, fingers clawing at his face.
"Wyatt," Bianca breathed.
Lifting her gaze towards Veronica, she shimmered towards her. This was her fault. She was the one to blame.
"Stop him or I slit you throat," she growled into her ear as she pressed the blade against Veronica's pale skin.
"Tsk tsk, your poor form and empty threats will get you nowhere," Veronica scolded.
Bianca increased the pressure and Veronica reached over, grabbing hold of her and flipping her over her shoulder. Bianca rolled onto her back to recover but instead felt the heel of Veronica's boot grinding into her midsection. Bianca tried to draw in a breath, feeling the ache spread.
"Pathetic. You're nothing but an empty shell," Veronica said down to her. She pouted, pretending to be empathetic to Bianca's pain. "Oh, don't worry, I won't offer you a chance to live so you can serve me. I can't promise you an easy death either. It's much more fun to do it slowly."
Collecting her thoughts, Bianca closed her eyes and shimmered herself away. Her hand tightly grasping the handle of the athame, she wasted no time digging the point into the eyes of the very witch who was trying to blind them. In a bloody mess the witch fell to his knees, light shining about him as his existence came to an end. The ground shook and Bianca lost her footing, falling to the ground. She saw in the distance what had once looked like dirt was now partially white. The disturbance around the area had become more severe. She glanced over to Wyatt. His face bore deep claw marks, his eyes open but looking back with a dead white stare. Two more approached him and took away the last fraction of consciousness he had been holding onto.
"No!" she shouted.
She pushed herself back to her feet, determined to finish this. More witches and demons came to attack her from the sides. With each punch and kick she felt like she was winning, one after the other sprawling to the ground and soon becoming vanquished. Bringing her athame down into another body and watching it become dust, she straightened and immediately felt something sink into her back. It was with a paralysing realisation that she understood her powers were being stripped from her body. The countless pain she had caused others was now being inflicted upon her. Her hand opened unwillingly, dropping the athame. She tried to fight the pain, focused everything into one point and brought her elbow back. She made contact with her target, and from the bellow that followed she knew it was Veronica.
"You… wench! Give up now!" she shouted angrily.
Bianca ignored her as she collapsed to the ground, scampering for the blade. Extending her leg, she swung around and knocked Veronica to the ground, twisting herself with the motion and bringing the athame down into her chest. Breathing heavily, she looked down into the face of the raven-haired Phoenix.
"I'm not the only one that hates you," Veronica spat.
"Feeling's mutual," Bianca mumbled.
The light left her eyes, a blankness appearing where hatred and jealousy had once been. Bianca knew she was dead. She knew that Veronica was yet another Phoenix who'd been added to her kill tally. They would never forgive her now. If they survived this, she was forever going to be hunted down by the Phoenix for the misdeeds she had done to her own kind.
With the little energy she had left, Bianca pulled the dagger from Veronica's chest and used one hand to crawl her way back in the direction they had taken Wyatt. Feeling nauseous, her stomach reeled further at the stench that reached her nose and the sight of smoke rising into the air.
"No," she whimpered.
Pulling herself across the ground, she tried to get to her feet and weakly fell back down. Again she tried to get closer until she saw the group that had dragged Wyatt away. They waved around sticks and cloths, all ablaze with flickering flames, tossing them forward euphorically. She saw Wyatt then, strung up against a large stake, fire surrounding him in what looked to be a mock-witch burning. His head lolled to the side and she knew he was not at all coherent as to what was happening to him. He was not going to be able to save himself. And she had no power to save and defeat all at once. The most she could hope for was that better life they had been told about. The best she could do was stop the eye.
She shimmered to Wyatt's apartment, falling to her knees upon her arrival as pain ran through her like wildfire. She wondered how she could have been so callous as to do this to Chris. Remembering what he'd died for, she set her sights on the door to Wyatt's bedroom and grudgingly moved forward. It was as if he had known that she would need the book. Instead of being hidden, it was right where she had first seen it, placed at an angle in the lower section of his cabinet. She pulled it out, the thickness between her hands providing some kind of reassurance. With a concentrated effort she shimmered to the Halliwell manor. The brothers had told her it was the nexus, the greatest point of power for good and evil. If any spell was to work, it would work here.
Upon her arrival the book slipped from her hands, falling onto the hardwood floor with a heavy crash causing the planks around her to vibrate and glass vials placed so neatly on nearby tables to clatter to the ground. She let out a whimpered sob at the failure she felt, lowering herself to retrieve the volume. Placing it on the dais, she opened up the heavy cover and looked at the pages hopelessly. The book was so thick, and there was no way that it was indexed for easy reference. She flicked through the pages until she came across the Eye of Acrilya. Skimming down the page she saw there was no solution. She hit the edge of the dais in frustration. Amanda had told her it was in here. She couldn't understand why there was no cross-reference to stopping the thing. Frantically she flipped through the pages until her head began to swim. Clutching the edge of the dais she steadied herself and took a few deep breaths. She couldn't give up now.
Thinking logically, Bianca tried to string all the pieces of vanquishing knowledge she had learnt together, looking for a guide. Eventually she remembered that blue was the key. She didn't know what was blue, but she knew it would help. Taking to the back of the book she worked her way backwards, glancing over various entries until finally her eyes fell upon what she needed.
A glass ball several inches across, usually blue, green, or violet, used to banish the evil eye and other forms of hostile magic. Some contain pins and needles to disperse negative energies, while others are empty.
That was all she needed to read. She looked about for the blue glass and found one on the shelf. She didn't know where to get the pins and needles from, but after much searching she came across a sewing box pushed behind a bed head, covered in cloth. She emptied the entire contents into the ball, using her powers to sear the glass closed. Dispersing so much energy, she was barely able to stand, but she knew she had to make one more trip. The glass in her palm, she shimmered back to the construction site on the banks of San Francisco bay.
She tried not to look at the ashes and charred flesh that had once been her lover. She could smell it enough to know how bad it had become. Instead she headed straight for the eye, for the thing that had ruined their lives, and stopped by the edge. It had no power to stop her, but its ability to increase her hatred only elevated her feelings in wanting it stopped. She cast the witch ball into the white, falling willingly as the ground shook in frustration.
"Bianca!" Wyatt called. Bianca slowly opened her eyes, raising a hand to block out the piercing sunlight as Wyatt and Chris slid down the embankment. "Baby, what are you doing here? This isn't where we agreed to meet."
Bianca moved her hand aside and saw his figure hovering over her. Despite the fact he was dressed in good clothes, he still knelt on the dusty ground by her side. His long locks were neatly pulled back into a ponytail, and he was clean-shaven. Lifting herself, she scooped her arms underneath his, clutching the shirt and muscle on his back as she buried her face into his shoulder. Wyatt held her, smoothing a hand over her hair in a comforting gesture. Bianca lifted her head and saw his younger brother approaching from behind.
"Chris," she exhaled desperately, a wash of relief flooding through her. "You're here."
"Yeah," he said awkwardly, running a hand through his hair. "Wyatt didn't want to come alone."
"You make me sound like a coward," Wyatt said dishearteningly, turning his head to look at Chris. "If anyone was afraid to come here, it was you."
Chris scoffed, obviously in disagreement with his older brother. Bianca looked frantically towards the hole. It looked deeper. Fear struck her at the sight of it, but she couldn't remember why. In fact, she couldn't remember much of anything. Wyatt followed her gaze and glimpsed back to her worriedly. She shifted back in fright, as if she'd seen something move and it had spooked her.
"You seem awfully obsessed with that pile of dirt. Don't tell me you're turning into Jack Sparrow," Wyatt joked. She didn't laugh, she just kept staring. "It's not magical."
"Something was. Something there," she said distractedly.
"What?" he inquired. "What was there?"
Bianca's bottom lip quivered as she looked back to him. She caught it between her teeth and held fast, trying to prevent herself from crying over the struggle she was having with her memory. She didn't like being so out of control. She didn't like not being able to recall what she needed.
"I don't know," she admitted.
"Okay, Chris, no more pirate movies," Wyatt chastised as he pushed himself to his feet. "Look what you did to her."
"It wasn't my suggestion," Chris countered, the emphasis implying he didn't appreciate Wyatt shifting the blame from himself.
Wyatt held out his hand to help Bianca up. She inspected the reddened skin, noting the scrapes along its surface, and looked up to him.
"How did you do that?" she inquired.
"Basketball," he replied simply.
"I thought someone hurt you," she said quietly.
"Only a cranky charge," he explained. Seeing she still wouldn't take his hand, he moved around her and lifted her to her feet. "Can you stand?"
"I'm scared, not an invalid, okay?" she snapped, viewing his actions as if he were suggesting she were completely helpless.
"Okay! I was just trying to help!" he retorted.
"Guys?" Chris interjected, waving his hands to make them aware of what they were doing.
"Sorry," Bianca apologised, hanging her head.
"Chris, take her back to the manor," Wyatt said. "I'm going to grab my attention-seeking charge and meet you there. I won't leave her like this. I can't try to work when I know she's frightened as all hell."
"Now he tries to be all valiant," Chris grumbled, walking towards Bianca as Wyatt orbed away. "Are you okay? You look kinda pale."
"I feel like something's missing," she said. She placed a hand on Chris' chest, looking up to him with a befuddled expression. Wetting his lips and noticeably uncomfortable he took a half step back to put some space between them. "Was there something between us?"
"No!" Chris cried, laughing uneasily. "I've got a girl. You should be focused on Wyatt. He's your fiancé."
"I know but… I'm just trying to get my head straight."
"Is it really that bad?" Chris asked sceptically. Bianca nodded solemnly. "Mom could make you some blueberry muffins to take your mind off it. I hear they're good for improving your memory."
"No, I just made that up," Chris said, smiling. "But Wyatt wants you to go to the manor so that's where we're gonna go."
Orbing himself and Bianca to the manor, Chris instantly sought out his mother, leaving her alone in the hallway. She looked around, noticing how the place seemed to feel more alive than she had expected. There were still toys scattered on the floor just inside the conservatory doorway indicating a young child had been present. Yes, Mel, this morning, she recalled.
The front door opened with a loud click and Bianca turned to see Leo walk inside with a bag full of groceries in his arms. He almost felt like a stranger as she looked the old man over. The paper bag wavered as he tried to close the door.
"I'll get that," Bianca offered.
"Thanks," he said appreciatively, resettling the bag in his arm. He stared at her, noticing her reticence. "Bianca, are you feeling okay? I thought you and Wyatt were having lunch elsewhere. Don't tell me you two are fighting again."
"No," Bianca said. "He'll be here shortly."
She didn't need to say anymore, a twinkling of orbs announcing his arrival alongside a young girl whose blonde locks jutted out in a messy array from underneath her white baseball cap.
"You don't need to manhandle me!" the misfit in his grasp shouted, breaking free from his hold. Wyatt scowled, wincing as her clothes scraped his roughened hands.
"Dad, I believe you know Amanda. Amanda, this is my father, and my fiancé Bianca," he introduced. Chris and Piper appeared in the doorway. "And my brother, Chris, and my mother."
Amanda offered her hand to Bianca which she shook almost in a daze.
"Nice to finally see the girl he's so obsessed over," Amanda said.
"Have we met before?" Bianca asked, unable to shake the familiarity.
"No," Amanda replied with a shake of her head. She shrugged casually. "Maybe in another life."
"Anyone feel like muffins?" Piper offered. "I've got them baking."
With everybody moving towards the kitchen, Amanda leant forward and whispered in Bianca's ear: "You don't have to worry. Everything's the way it should be."
Bianca later sat on the couch, contemplating the statement. Amanda had spoken as if she knew something, but Bianca didn't completely understand.
"Here you go," Wyatt said, handing her a cup of tea and sitting next to her. Bianca didn't look at him, instead glancing back to Amanda before looking into the murky depths of her mug. Wyatt put his arm around her and squeezed her shoulder. "You know if there's something wrong, you can tell me."
Bianca sighed, dragging a finger around the rim of the cup. "I'm just frustrated with myself."
"Because I can't make sense of anything going around in my head. I don't even know how I ended up where you found me. Everyone seems to be okay except for me. Even your charge knows more than I do."
"She thinks she knows everything," Wyatt jibed. "What did she say to you?"
"She told me not to worry because everything's the way it should be."
"She probably just thinks you're OCD," Wyatt suggested. "You know she accused me of being a control freak before."
"You are," Bianca said, looking up to him and smiling a little. "Kind of."
Wyatt chuckled. "That's a lot of support from my fiancé."
"You know I'm only teasing."
"I think it's about time I got you back with some teasing of my own," Wyatt taunted. As Bianca sipped her tea he glanced towards Amanda and Chris in the dining room, seeing them laugh uncontrollably as the Jenga pile fell down again. "Looks like they're getting along famously. I don't think they'd mind looking after her if you feel like going home."
"That's a nice thought."
Taking her hand, he pulled her into the adjoining room behind him. Amanda had her fingers around a block of wood, squinting with concentration as she slowly pulled her hand back. Trying to be casual, but being none too subtle about it, Chris waved his fingers at the pile, dislodging the block below it. Wyatt and Bianca's entry signalled another crash.
"Hey, I was winning!" Amanda protested, glaring at Wyatt. "Why'd you do that?"
"Don't look at me. Your partner-in-crime likes to cheat in mortal games. He even changed the colours on the Candyland cards once," Wyatt said.
"Did you?" Amanda asked.
"For his benefit," Chris explained, although still looking rather guilty.
"Bianca and I are going back to our place so I can show her some things that might help," Wyatt announced. "You don't mind Amanda staying here?"
"Well I'm going to have to start my game again since it was destroyed," Amanda whined. She looked to Chris. "No cheating this time."
"Yeah, yeah," Chris agreed. He glanced up to Wyatt. "Just don't be long, okay? Cause Sam's going to be royally pissed if I don't show up tonight."
Wyatt nodded, orbing both himself and Bianca to their apartment. While he paid a visit to the bathroom, Bianca took the chance to look around. She noticed photos that were seated on the shelves, moments in time she could vaguely remember. Things didn't look as dark, dangerous and dismal as she was inclined to believe. Reaching out towards the frame she noticed the birthmark on her arm. She remembered her past clearly, remembered how much the Phoenix despised her. That feeling was strong and she was the only thing she was certain about.
Wyatt re-entered the room, his face freshly washed, his hair now out in long curls that tried to tangle around one another. He paused, watching her as he unbuttoned his shirt with tentative fingers.
"If you look carefully you'll see the Lightner Museum in the background," he said.
She looked at the photograph slightly confused, but smiled as the memory came back to her. "I wanted to move to Florida. It was so warm then."
"You remember the stained glass windows?"
"I remember the light…the reflections," she said. She replaced the photo and turned towards Wyatt. "Why do I get the feeling you've done worse than you have?"
"What do you mean?"
"Like you were bad," she said, slinking towards him. "Like you abused your powers."
"I try not to," Wyatt said. Bianca looked at him frankly. "So I have a little bad habit. It doesn't hurt anyone. Much."
"It might one day," Bianca said.
"Not as long as I have you," Wyatt returned, putting his arms around her waist. "I think it was St Augustine who once said 'Interfice errorem, diligere errantem'."
"What's that?" she asked, raising her chin.
"Kill the sin, love the sinner," Wyatt interpreted. "And I am one sinner who needs to be loved."
Bianca giggled, shrieking as he lifted her up and carried her towards the bedroom, kicking the door closed with his foot.
It is in moments of despair that we cling to hope, that we believe adherently in one thing that keeps us alive. In a world of danger and darkness there is always a light; no matter how small it is there. We should not lust for power, but for comfort and happiness. You do not need to defeat others, only yourself. Nothing conquers except truth and the victory of truth is love.
PERSONAL NOTE: I just wanted to thank everybody who has stuck by me for the past year and a half while I was writing this fic. I appreciate your kind words and never-ending support, and it has helped spur me on in times when I felt I could no longer continue. Thank you to everybody who helped me when information or inspiration was required. I can not express the gratitude I feel at having all of you help me continue this until I finished, it has been an achievement and a life-changing experience that's very close to my heart. Much love to you all and I hope you'll continue to read my work in the future.