Mask and Mirror

Sara Pezzini shut the door of her apartment behind her and sifted through her mail. Today had been a strange day. Everyday had been a strange day. She had a nagging feeling in the back of her head. Like she had forgotten to do something. But not quite like that. More like, she had forgotten something she desperately needed to know.

For the past few weeks she had been having overwhelming episodes of Deja vu. Maybe it was Vuja de. She took in a huge breath and released it slowly. She needed a shower. Something a few notches shy of scalding would do nicely.

It seemed everything was falling apart. Or falling together. Her mind was reeling. Sara had found herself knowing things . . . Only, she didn't know where the knowledge was obtained. Or what it was half the time. All she knew was that she had done something. Something that had affected every one. She wished she knew what it was. Some of it came to her in her sleep. Some of it in waking moments. A few days ago, Jake McCartey and Danny Woo, her partner, had found her staring into space. They told her it took them fifteen minutes to knock her out of it.

She didn't remember any of it.

Sara left her mail on the table and began to peel away at her clothes. Leaving them in a trail behind her that lead to her bath tub. She turned on the water and stepped inside. It wasn't too long ago that she had done this. Sitting in the shower and thinking. There was so much she didn't understand. The sadness she felt when she looked at Joe Siri or Danny; why Jake kept on walking to her office in the morning as if it were the most natural thing in the world; her fear of the Rialto theater; the bad taste in her mouth whenever she heard the names Vorshlage or Kenneth Irons. It was all so confusing.

She thought she recalled someone telling her about a confusion tolerance, but it was all so muddy.

Whatever.

Sara reached out and turned off the water. She wrapped her body in a towel and sauntered off to get ready to sleep.

She was out the second her head hit the pillow.

Sara jumped at the sound of a siren outside. She got up and shut the window.

"You have no idea what you've done. Do you?"

She spun around to see Jake sitting on her bed.

"What the hell are you doing?! How did you get in?!"

He rolled his eyes at her.

"I don't know. You tell me. This is your dream. Not his."

"A dream?"

"Hey. It's your head."

"Then go away."

"Can't do that."

"If it's my head-"

"No one ever said you had control."

She glared at Not-Jake and stalked to her bed to grab a pillow. She'd just ignore him.

"That won't work either."

"Fine."

Sara slumped down on her couch and motioned for Not-Jake to go on.

"Do you know who I am?"

"You're 'Not-Jake'."

"Real cute, Sara. Seriously, though. Do you know?"

"I guess you're the Witchblade trying to talk to me."

"Yes and no. And I'm not 'Not-Jake'. In an extremely round about way I am him, well a very small part, but still . . ."

"How?"

He crossed his arms and thought for a moment.

"People, souls really, travel in groups. All the people that are close to you, you've always known. So you've known Danny, Joe, Jake, and there are a few others that will show up soon, well they already have in truth, for thousands of years. Whenever someone of your bloodline wields the Blade these people are always there. The person you know as Jake McCartey once died on the end of the Witchblade, by accident. I am an imprint of him, sort of."

"So my head picked you out because you're familiar."

"Pretty much."

"So. What have I done?"

He stared at her for a moment before he spoke.

"Memory is the foundation of self."

Sara threw her hands into the air and shook her head.

"What's that supposed to mean?!"

Not-Jake gave her an irritated look and rubbed his temples.

"You need some serious help, you know that. You take everything at face value way too often. Think!"

She let out a frustrated sigh and concentrated on what he asked. Things came to her easier now then they did when she was awake. Oh . . . so that's what she had forgotten.

"So."

"So!" Not-Jake ran his hands through his hair and started again. "Elizabeth Bronte was right. Time runs two ways. Forward and back. But it goes a hell of a lot smoother in fast forward than it does in rewind. Time is too difficult to perceive in model terms. It's not straight, not linear, it's not wound, it's not even curved in the way you think of such things being curved. She didn't understand. The Lazar guy didn't understand, Cathain didn't understand. What you've done here, Sara, it won't last. All this will unravel. You tried to do too much."

"But they sai-"

"I know what was said. It was too much time, Sara. The furthest anyone has managed, successfully, is four days. Cathain tried to go further than you to save her lover, and it cost her life."

"What's the problem with what I've done. I've undone so many bad things. I-"

She trailed off. There was no point. The look he was giving her told her as much.

"Wishes can be unraveled and events can be undone, but it is one of the tenants of creation that the soul can not be unmade. Too much had happened, Sara. Too much time had passed. There were things had taken root. You can't undo people. It's just the way the world works."

"When will it go back?"

"It's already started."

There was a sinking feeling in her stomach. She didn't want it to go back to "normal". She was afraid.

"Sara, normal is what every one else is and you are not. It's an idea, like perfection and parallel. There's nothing to be afraid of. You have friends. People who care about you. People who love you."

"Not all of them are there." She whispered.

"You're right. It's too late to save Danny Woo. Maybe even too late for Joe Siri. But that doesn't mean you can't still be with them. Speak to them. You know better. All it takes is a little control. You have people who can help with that. Believe in your friends, Sara, they'll surprise you."

"But . . . how far ahead will it go?"

Not-Jake moved to sit next to her and pulled her into an awkward half-hug.

"Where do you want it to stop?"

The world went white.

"Pez? Sara? Sara!"

"Huh?"

She shook her head. She wasn't at home. Where was she?

The safe house.

"Um, what were you saying, Jake?"

"I said. I know my timing sucks, but I need to tell you something."

She knew this part already. He was about to finish his sentence, but she interrupted him.

"Jake."

"Yeah?"

A man's foot steps sounded in the next room. Her "lapse" had delayed things a bit. It would end differently this time.

"Hello boys and girls." Bruno Dante stepped into the room and raised his gun.

Finis