Okay guys, this is my second oneshot of the day, and it's called Kissing Illusions, a title which will make sense as you read. This takes place during MR3, at the part where Max's mini-flock is in Paris. It's the sequel to Survivors, so I suggest you read that first. This is an Eraserfic, and centers on Ari and a few other Erasers. I make a reference to Underworld and Blood and Chocolate in here, so if you catch that, cookies for you. Forgive any mistakes, my betas didn't get a chance to read the end. Anyway, I hope you like this, and review!
Disclaimer: I do not own Maximum Ride.
Paris. Picturesque, elegant, and dripping with culture. Ordinarily, Ari would have been gone crazy here, in this picture-perfect place, desperately wanting to unleash some chaos, if only to mix things up a bit.
But now, he couldn't do that. No more bombs, no more massive Eraser strikes, no more deliberate disturbances of the peace. He was with Max and the broken Flock now, so he had to behave.
At least it was only for a short while. That thought, at least, was comforting. He had another week to live, maybe two, before it was all over.
He supposed that things weren't so bad. He was getting to see the world, he was in the company who tolerated him for a reason other than their own personal gain, and when he died, his body would stay whole. No dissections or cannibalism for Ari.
There was one thing he missed, though. Walking down Parisian streets, tall and muscle-bound and wolf-like, he knew people were always staring at him. When he had been with his fellow Erasers, he hadn't exactly fit in, but at least he'd been the same species at them. He never thought he'd say it, but at the moment, Ari would have done anything for the sight for a familiar Eraser face.
And then suddenly, totally unexpectedly, his wish was granted.
He'd been bent over a booth, looking at the leather jackets, trying to find a new one to replace his battle-worn old one when someone tapped his shoulder. He turned around, expecting to see Max or Nudge-Angel was too short to reach that high on him-telling him
it was time to eat lunch or whatever.
But when he saw the person standing behind him, he involuntarily took a step back, colliding with the table behind him. He didn't notice, having frozen to the spot.
Ecstasy looked straight into his eyes, a small smile playing on her perfect lips, un-roughened by the morph. He shuddered at the sight-too often he had seen those shapely pink lips covered in blood and flesh. She was easily as tall as him-Though Eraser females, her mother included, were quite small, her father had apparently been on par with a giant-and her green eyes were perfect, almost hypnotic. He forced himself to blink; Ecstasy had learned from her mother the art of silent hypnotism, and was a master at it.
When he was finally able to speak, he hissed, "What the hell are you doing here?"
Ecstasy's voice was low, and though soft, it still was dangerous, "We just thought you might appreciate a visit from an old friend."
Ari's heart was racing with a combination of fear and confusion. "We? How many of you are here?" Images of a full-scale Eraser invasion of Paris flitted through his mind.
If Max found out…well, that'd be the end of their truce.
Clearly his fears had been evident from his expression, because Ecstasy laughed. "No, the School didn't send us. It's just me, my sisters, Lee, Apollo, Lyris, Demetri, baby Artemis, Hercules, and Mother." She sighed. "Actually, she's the reason I'm here."
That confused Ari. The last time he'd seen Ursula, she had still been fairly healthy, if a little old. "What's wrong with her? Did she expire?"
Ecstasy shook her head, tossing copper-colored locks over her slim shoulders. "No, not yet. That's the problem, though." She stuck her hand into the pocket of her long black coat. Ari tensed up, preparing to bolt if she pulled out a gun.
Instead, she clutched a vial of colorless, slightly iridescent liquid. She asked, "Do you know what this is, Ari?"
He shook his head. "No idea."
"It's a serum to prevent the breaking down of our DNA, and the eventual decay of the internal organs. In other words, this is liquid immortality, snatched out from under the nose of the School's greatest by yours truly."
Ari stared at the shimming liquid for a moment. Was she telling the truth? Ecstasy had a history of lying, but what benefit would it be to her to make this up? "So why are you showing me this?"
"That's where Mother comes in. There are ten doses of this, enough for all of us. But she doesn't want to live forever. She doesn't want to live at all. Her time is close, but she wants to die."
"Why?" Ari knew that Ursula had lost most of her family, but that was no reason to crave death.
Ecstasy's voice was flat, but it was obvious she was holding back tears. "She wants to join them. My father, my aunts, my lost brothers and sisters."
Sisters? Ecstasy only had two sisters, Eros and Ember, both of whom were very much alive, to his knowledge. "Did something happen to Ember or Eros?"
She fixed him with a cold stare. "After Father died, Mother had three more babies. My brother Knife, and my sisters Sparta and Thera."
"What…what happened to them?" He almost didn't want to know.
Ecstasy looked away, not speaking for a moment. "You weren't the only one they tried to graft wings onto. You were just the one who survived it." Not giving him a chance to reply, she continued, "Mother's only staying until Eros has her baby. Then she'll be gone, and we'll have the leftover dose."
"Once again, why are you telling me this?"
In lieu of a response, she grabbed one of his large, scarred hands, and dropped the vial into his palm.
"Take this, drink it, live forever. But do it with us. With me."
Ari stared at it for a moment. "So, if I stay with you, I can live forever."
She smirked, twisting perfect features into something grotesque. "Yes."
"And I'll have to take you back."
Her smile melted into a softer, more alluring one, and she leaned forward, fluttering perfect red eyelashes. In a mock-hurt voice, she said, "You make it sound like you don't like me anymore."
He suddenly remembered why it had always been so hard to say no to Ecstasy; she was just too damn sexy. Ari forced himself to turn around and look down at the booth, examining a silky scarf as he asked, "So, how'd you find us, anyway? I thought that information like that would be confidential, or something."
Ecstasy sneered, and gave a short, derisive laugh. "It's only confidential if the people who know about it can keep their mouths shut."
Ari felt himself stiffen as her words sunk in. He whirled back around to look at her, knowing that he'd be able to see her lie in her eyes. "Is he dead? The airport guy?"
She gave a one-shouldered shrug, looking unconcerned. "I don't know. He wasn't when I left, anyway."
"You did it? I thought that was more Ember's thing." It was true, Ecstasy was the most seductive of the sisters, but her bloodlust was the most rampant, and more often than not she killed their informant before he cracked under her…techniques. Eros had never been into that sort of thing, so the task was usually up to Ember.
Ecstasy sighed. "Lately, Ember hasn't been doing much. Neither has Eros, but she never really did do much to begin with. It's almost like they're…settling down." She said the words as if they caused her actual physical pain, and shuddered slightly.
Ari shrugged. "Well, it's about time they did. Maybe you should, too."
She scoffed. "Right. And why would I do that? Living like this is so much more fun."
He stared at the small bottle in his hand for a moment. "Does this stuff just work on Erasers?"
She shook her head. "No, it works for humans too. Why do you ask?"
"Would it work for one of the bird kids, do you think?"
Ecstasy said again, "I don't know, why do you ask?"
When he didn't reply, she groaned. "Oh God, you're going to give it to Maximum, aren't you? You're going to waste it on that stupid little bird-girl to try and get her to like you. You're pathetic, you know that?"
Ari ignored her, and continued, "Will she know if I give it to her? She won't taste it and it won't make her feel anything, right?"
Ecstasy's face was flushed bright red with irritation as she sputtered, "No, she wouldn't feel anything, but it doesn't matter, because she's not going to get it!" With that, she reached out and grabbed the vial from him, dropping it into her pocket.
Ari said flatly, "You know I'm going to get that back, right?"
She gave a soft, tinkling laugh. "And how do you plan to do that? Do a full-on morph and attack me right here, in full view of the public? I'm sure dearest Maximum would love that."
"No, I was thinking of something a bit less violent."
Another laugh, this one cruel and derisive. "What, you're going to try and talk me into handing it over? Even you aren't dumb enough to think that would work."
"See, Ecstasy, this is why we never would have worked out. You're unable to interact socially with other people without insulting them. I know that's your way of protecting yourself from becoming attached to anyone, like your mother did, but I still wouldn't have been able to deal with it."
She opened her mouth to snarl a witty comeback at him, but never got the chance.
Ari closed the distance between them in a single long stride, and he pulled her up to meet him in a kiss. For a moment, she struggled, but then she remembered how kissing was one of the very few things Ari was good at. It became very passionate, her hands rubbing up and down his back, pulling him closer. Ari groaned, tangling his thick fingers into her hair.
The kiss went on for a few minutes before he pulled away slowly, licking his lips and looking thoughtful. Ecstasy stared up at him, for once speechless, though seeming quite pleased with herself.
Ari grabbed her shoulders, pulling her close again, but this time, he didn't kiss her. Instead, he whispered to her, "They're going to come after you sooner or later, Ecstasy, and this time, you won't be able to escape. There's a place where you can be safe, though. You know Budapest, the capitol of Hungary? Go there and go into the abandoned part of the subway systems. Our recon teams found a whole pack of natural-made Erasers-They call themselves lycans-down there, and they were tolerant to our teams. They'll take you in, no one can say no to you. Stay with them, join their society, and survive. Just don't let the Erasers die out."
Ecstasy stared at him for a moment, dumbfounded at this unexpected rush of information. Then she said, "Why are you telling me this?"
He looked at her with something strange in his eyes; Sadness, pity, fear, she couldn't tell. Ari turned away, breaking the intense eye contact, and began to walk away. He paused, though, and look at her for a moment, and said almost inaudibly. "It's payment."
That confused her, but before she had a chance to say anything, he was moving quickly through the crowd, out of hearing range.
Ecstasy watched him for a moment, then leaned back against the booth, trying to decide what to do next. Going to Budapest didn't seem like such a bad idea…it wasn't as if they had anything else to do or any other places to go. Perhaps she could follow Mother's footsteps and work her way into the heart of their Leader. And if they didn't want to accept her, well, who could turn up the bottled immortality she had to offer? She stuck her hand into her pocket to feel the comforting weight of the vial she had stolen, a habit she had acquired over the last few weeks.
It wasn't there.
Frantically, she jammed a hand into her other pocket to see if she had put it in there. It was empty. She groped around in both pockets, feeling for a hole the vial might have fallen out. Where the hell was it?
Suddenly, comprehension dawned. Ari had stolen it. Ari had stolen her bargaining chip, her surefire ticket to join the Erasers in Budapest. That bastard! Who did he think he was, taking things from her while distracting her with a kiss?
A nasty little voice in her head purred, 'He seems to think he's you.'
She swore, looking around to see if he was still nearby. But he had vanished into the crowd, melting into the busy square. Even if she did manage to find him, what then? She couldn't exactly engage him in open combat in the middle of the bustling square. Maybe she could try to track him down later, but she knew she couldn't take on him and Maximum simultaneously. Besides, he probably would have given it to the bird bitch by then. There really was nothing she could do.
Damn that Ari, she thought angrily. Damn him!
She stuck both of her hands in her pockets and pouted like a young pup who hadn't gotten her way, glaring sulkily at nothing in particular.
The vendor, who seemed to have been watching this little display of unhappiness, gave her an appraising look and smiled at her in a suggestive fashion.
She rolled her eyes and muttered at him, "Piss off."
Suddenly, something caught her attention. A very handsome human, one with thick dark hair and bright, if unintelligent, brown eyes had just walked by, smiling at her as he passed.
This would be the perfect opportunity for her to get over her failure with Ari.
Ecstasy straightened and moved after the beautiful little meatboy with her quick, feline strides, and caught up to him in seconds. She slid her arm through his, and as he looked down in her surprise, she gave him her best smile.
Her voice was clear and sweet as she asked, "What's your name?"
He sounded confused but not unhappy as he replied, "Jean. And yours?" His voice was lightly accented and smooth, almost like that of an Eraser.
"I'm Ecstasy." No point in making up a fake name, since he'd never get a chance to tell anyone about her. And besides, her name usually made her seem all the more appealing to men,
"That's an unusual name." He had taken the bait, as expected, and in her mind, she smirked.
"My parents were hippies, you see." It was a lame excuse, but he didn't seem to care, his rather unintelligent smile only growing. She continued, "Anyway, enough about names. Do you want to get to know me better, Jean?"
He nodded, and she felt sick to her stomach. Because she knew where this was going, and she knew that there was no way she could control herself. But then again, did she really want to? Did she want to control the part of her that had made her legendary amongst her people, the undisputed goddess of Eraser-kind?
She knew the answer. She didn't want to. She never wanted to change, to always be the female that males killed to be with-And often paid for their lust with their lives.
But at the same time, she didn't want to be a murderer. She was tired of it. She was tired of killing. But to let this weak human go, that would be unheard of. That would be utterly pathetic.
So she gave him a chance. Ecstasy's smile became larger, open-mouthed, so he could see her elongating teeth. She ran her already-wolfish tongue over them, making it as obvious as possible that she was not human.
But as always, his mind was already clouded with lust, and he didn't see. The prey fell for the bait, like it did every time. There was always the tiny, secret hope inside of her that one day, one would see her for what she really was, and run as fast as he could away from her, the way they all should. And yet, she knew that would never happen. Humans were weak, just for being what they were.
She gave him a sly grin. "Good. Because you're so pretty, I could just eat you."