(AN) Haha, so…when I wrote this interlude it was more like a whole chapter, but I couldn't post all of it because I didn't want to ruin Delilah/Isaac in WotR. Echo kicked Isaac's ass pretty bad last time they met, that's why he's all taped up :-p I reposted the whole thing, but only the first part is the part I never posted. For more explanation, see chapter 19 (Bonus Interlude: Fresh Graves)
Interlude: Fresh Graves, Walking Dead, and the Witness
When I slept, which wasn't very often anymore, I could imagine the world was slightly better. I could imagine that we'd won the battle, and in my dreams my life was perfect. I dreamed of the life I should have had, the one where Isaac and I graduated high school and our parents were there to watch. My mom and dad, hand in hand, embracing me on my wedding day. I saw my friends, healthy and happy and so very full of life, the way I remembered them.
I saw children, beautiful lovely children. There were boys with Isaac's hair and my eyes, tackling each other in the grass, and sometimes there were girls, their red hair shining in the sun as they made daisy chains and threw them around each other. I didn't even just see the kids I could have had, but I saw the ones my family could have had. There was that little girl Eva had used to see in her dreams, the one with the blonde hair and tan skin. And the most haunting ones, the ones I couldn't explain, the boy and girl with curly hair the color of the night sky and skin paler than the moon. They had my sister's eyes, and they never had a hope of existing.
Eva didn't dream of that little girl anymore. But I still did. It was extremely unfair. And when I woke, I tried to hold onto those dreams as long as I could, squeezing my eyes shut and remembering their faces until tears leaked from my eyes. And then Isaac would hold me while my body shuddered with sobs. But when I woke up, I was too tired to even cry. I just stared blankly at the old blanket, the same one that had been here when I was a kid. This had been my parent's room.
I'd come in here to wake them up for Christmas, this blanket had been on their bed. They'd pretended to be asleep even as I chattered excitedly. Eventually Dad had let out a loud sigh and told me he'd get up when Echo and Blaze were up. I'd leaped out of the bed and ran down the hall.
"You didn't sleep well." Isaac whispered, shaking me from those sad, ghostly memories. I looked up and met his warm, worried brown eyes that were haunted by as many silent ghosts as mine were. His side was taped up, his left arm in a sling. His right was curled around me.
"You didn't sleep at all." I observed, running a finger lightly over his face, over the dark shadows under his eyes. He sighed but didn't argue. "What time is it?" I asked.
"I don't know. Noon, I think. Eva left around 3am and hasn't come back yet." Isaac whispered. We were silent as I let the implications of that run through my head. My eyes closed, and I had to struggle not to let the tears slip through.
"I miss Paul." I whispered harshly and I felt Isaac's arm tighten around me. The hole he'd left was tangible, a wound that pulsed raw and bloody. To Eva, Paul was her everything, the only thing that made her happy, but to us…he'd become something different. A father figure, when both our fathers were gone. We'd even gone so far as to call Evie and Paul "Mum and Dad". With Paul had gone the last link to our parents, the last link to our past.
"It's all over, isn't it?" Isaac asked darkly. "There's no hope left, Evie isn't strong enough to do this without Paul."
I paused for a moment, unsure. Do I tell him about Evie's plan, to send me instead? Was she even strong enough to do that? Chances were…she wasn't. We had failed horribly.
"I'm sorry." He whispered. "Sometimes I think I should have just let her kick the shit out of me. That might have made her feel better. She could have even killed me, I don't care."
"I care!" I protested, tears falling down my cheeks. "You're all I have left!" I quickly got up, sliding off the bed and wiping my tears on my sleeve.
"You could have a family, still." Isaac whispered. I glared at him.
"And then I would have wasted away like my mom, like your mom." I whispered bitterly. "That would have been preferable, I guess. I'm going to get Eva."
I turned on my heel, stalking toward the door. "Wait!" Isaac called, I turned to see him struggling to lift himself off the bed despite the bones Echo and Pandora had broken. I winced with his pain and was quickly by his side again, pushing him back down. His good arm grabbed my wrist.
"I'm sorry." He said softly. "I…I just wish it didn't have to end like this. I wish we didn't have to give up hope. And every time you leave…I think that maybe you won't come back. That it'll be over, just like that. Ticking clock."
"I'll be back." I whispered, leaning over and kissing him. The tears slid down my cheeks and onto his. "I promise."
He sighed and sank back down into the bed, his hand holding mine. He didn't let go until he had to, closing his eyes with a look of agony. I bit my lip as I hopped down the stairs, grabbing Eva's bag on the way. I shoved my hands in my pocket as I walked out into the cold, dark fog. I paused halfway across my old yard, looking back into the house.
It was hopeless, I didn't even know why I was taking this bag. What were the chances I could change it, when I'd been the cause of the problem in the first place? I tossed it on the ground in frustration, pushing back my hair.
Pick it back up, Delilah. A voice urged. I ignored it, even as I felt the heat warming my back. Delilah, you can't give up like this.
"Says my hallucination." I whispered. "You're not real." I turned to face it, the beautiful white wolf perched on the edge of the tree line, glowing much like I did. It looked almost hurt.
I'm not alive. That doesn't mean I'm not real. The wolf protested, loping closer to me. I took a deep shuddering breath, kicking the dirt.
"It's too late. We're too late." I murmured, walking away from the bag and toward the trees. The wolf growled and lunged at me. I didn't feel it touch me, it was weightless, but its paws were on my shoulders and I was somehow on the ground.
Everybody is waiting on you, Delilah. The wolf snarled angrily. Make a move. I know you're brave enough to do it.
"I am not, get off me!" I swore a few times, trying to sit up. The wolf didn't budge and I couldn't move.
Welcome to reality, Delilah. You could have that future. You still want it, don't you? I saw a flash of colors bloom in my head, my dad walking me down the aisle.
Redemption is right here, I dare you to keep going. Somebody has to. And then it was gone, her white fur just a dim memory in my mind. I stood slowly, brushing myself off. I looked up, and I could swear for a moment I saw stars. One last try, one last chance. I picked up the bag and kept walking, walking right to the graveyard.
The personifications of darkness didn't come there. I imagined it was mostly due to Echo, to the raging guilt I imagined she felt. I imagined that somewhere deep inside her, she was still human, still my sister. I had to believe that, behind the glowing burgundy eyes and pale skin wrapped in layers of darkness, she loved us still.
It was almost no comfort.
My eyes stared blankly at the twin graves in front of me. I didn't need to read the inscription on the marble. I knew it by heart. Jacob Black, loving husband and devoted father on the first. Cassandra Black, loving wife and devoted mother on the other. In between the graves was a statue of an angel with a chain looped around her neck. I reached out and took the chain, listening as the rings clanged together musically.
"I'll bring these back to you, mom, dad." I whispered. They didn't answer. It was okay, I'd spent the last five years with the silence. I looked around the rest of the graves, the names assaulting me like they were flashing neon Vegas signs. Quil and Claire Ateara, Zack and Stella Luwen, Sam and Emily Uley, Embry and Lucy, Kim and Jared, Colin and Dawn, Brady, Abby Uley and Daniel, Jared and Kim's oldest son. His younger brother, Aaron, was a little further away. My best friend, their younger sister Joy, was still alive, but it was dangerous for me to be near her.
I was too bright. My light illuminated the fog around me. It was noon, but it was as dark as twilight. The sun never shined anywhere anymore. The world was covered in darkness that was slowly killing every human. Even Emma Uley was barely able to get out of bed anymore. Most of the pack was immune to it, which meant they had to pick us off one by one. I looked over to the cross shaped markers to the left of the pack. Every single Cullen was there, although they had no graves. I swallowed back my tears.
They could find Eva, Blaze, and I anywhere. So we kept to ourselves, because they wouldn't reach out and hurt us if they didn't have us. Some part of Echo still loved us.
Still barely any comfort in that.
I hadn't seen Blaze in awhile. Leah and he couldn't stay away from each other, despite how dangerous it was for Leah. So he'd broken off from us, knowing that without my brighter light, they had a better chance. I couldn't blame him. I wondered if they were still alive, or if I should mark empty graves as well for them.
I left my family's graves, walking over to the freshest one and the figured huddled in front of it. She rocked back and forth, her small body shaking with sobs, dirty, tangled golden hair hanging limply down her back.
The grave in front of her read simply Paul Roy. She couldn't think of an inscription appropriate. Her hands ripped up the fresh dirt and she trembled. In her hands she held a pair of golden rings.
"Eva?" I asked softly. "We should do this, before they come looking…"
"Where did you leave him?" She asked dully, not turning to look at me. I felt a stab of pain in my own chest, looking over at the forest.
"At the old house." I whispered. I'd left my love alone, hidden. He couldn't be here for this, too dangerous. I wasn't willing to lose him. "He'll come looking soon though. I told him I was just coming to get you."
"I should have lied to keep him safe too." She whispered, brokenly, caressing the cool marble. I slipped to her side, looking down at her.
She looked more dead than alive. She hadn't been well, the darkness was killing her slowly the same way it was killing Emma, but this had been the last straw. She should be lying in a grave beside him. Her once pale, cream and honey skin was gaunt and bruised, drawn thin over her protruding cheek bones. Despite the fact she was wearing fifteen layers, I could see the bones from her hips. Her heart beat was irregular, like it was struggling as well.
"He would never have stayed away, Evie." I tried to comfort. Eva sobbed dryly once more.
"Paul." She whispered. "I'm so sorry. I…I don't belong here without you. I'll find a way to you soon. I can't live like this." She finished, laying the two golden wedding rings on the grave. I slowly helped her up, supporting most of her weight. It was easy, I was still strong.
"Here." She mumbled dully. I took off my bag and began pulling things from it. Eva slowly drew the circle, the stars. Each step she took seemed labored and her heart was racketing against her chest.
"You're not strong enough for this." I realized suddenly. "We'll wait till you're stronger."
"NO!" She shouted. She had to gasp for breath after that, coughing. Blood came from between her cracked, parched lips. She wiped it away. "Now. I don't care if I die. It doesn't matter anymore. This isn't how the world is supposed to be, Liley. We messed up! They should all be alive! My Paul…" She stopped, shaking with suppressed sobs again.
"Eva, I give a damn!" I shouted back. "You're one of the last family members I have left!"
"I'm already dead, Liley." She whispered now. "The sooner the better, but I'm dead nevertheless. Physically, mentally, spiritually, I'm already dead. This is my last attempt, my last chance to fix this."
Suddenly, I felt like I was thirteen years old again, desperately reaching out for my sister. But I'd waited too long, again.
"I'll fix it." I whispered, clutching the piece of paper in my pocket. "It'll be better, Evie."
"I love you, Delilah. Now stand in the circle." She ordered as she collapsed on the ground and opened up her mother's book. "I know where I can send you back to, the first time I ever saw my mom do a ritual. I'm going to intercept it." She explained. I nodded.
"Eva…" I started. She shook her head.
"Don't. It's not goodbye. Save us." She whispered. And then she started to sing in Gaelic.
And the last thing I saw before the light swallowed me was Eva collapsing on the ground, and my sister covered in darkness behind her, glaring at me as she screamed in rage.