Misty was a little worried about Carly. That didn't seem right - surely there was something a bit wrong with worrying about someone who was already dead. What else could happen when the worst was already done and over with? And yet, she couldn't help but be concerned as she closed the door to the room where the team's newest member was now resting.
Cried herself to sleep, Misty mused. Poor thing.
The fact was, Carly just wasn't adjusting well. Ever since she had come here, she had moved like a sleepwalker, refused to eat, wept frequently. Misty could understand that. It wasn't easy, getting used to the idea that you were no longer properly alive. She had been through it, too, and knew how unsettling it felt. Her heart beat, her lungs drew in air, she continued to eat and sleep like any other normal person. There was nothing about her that any doctor could have pointed to that would indicate that anything was wrong - to all outward appearances, she was in splendid health. It was mostly something she felt instinctively that told her that she wasn't the woman she once was. There was just something a little off, something in the way her heart seemed to beat to a different pace than it once had, how her lungs didn't seem to draw in the same amount of air, the way her blood seemed to flow more thickly. It felt to her as though something inside her had been rearranged to make room for this new force inside her. She used to lie awake at night, after it happened, listening to her body's new rhythms, as steady and relentless as a leaking faucet.
She didn't dream, either. People who spoke of "the sleep of the dead" didn't know how right they were.
That's Carly's problem. She's still dreaming, Misty decided. Dark Signers, she had determined, didn't dream. They had goals, desires, but not true dreams. Misty knew she was going to face Aki again someday soon, and when she did, she would get her revenge or die trying, but she didn't feel anything more than a bullet did as it sped towards someone's heart. She was suspected it was much the same for the others. She had heard Kiryu talking about how he wanted to make Yusei suffer, but there was nothing that she could discern beyond those thoughts - his whole world began and ended there. She suspected that it was the same for the others. Whatever future they had imagined for themselves had been supplanted by a desire for vengeance. That was as it should be. You couldn't do what they were trying to do if you were thinking about the future.
She had tried to tell Carly something of that, but it hadn't work.
"You have to forget all that now," she had said, as she ran a comb through the girl's tangled hair. She had tried so hard to soothe her... "It is sad. You should have had better than this, but you can't go back and change it now. Your old life is over, and you have work to do here."
Carly sniffled. Her eyes retained their strange dark look, but not even the magic of the gods was preventing her nose from turning red. Servants of the ancient underworld gods weren't supposed to have runny noses, either.
"But I don't want to," she said plaintively.
"We don't always get what we want," said Misty, a little too tartly, and Carly burst back into tears.
But it's true, thought Misty, a little rebelliously. We don't get what we want. I didn't want my brother to die. If I'd been given a choice, I wouldn't be here. There's just no point in trying to change what is already done and over with. I've accepted that. She has to do the same. She will, in time.
But she didn't quite believe that. There was something wrong with that girl, if wrong was the word for it. She couldn't let go of her old life, and it showed in the way she wavered erratically from one extreme to the other - able in one minute to mow down the man who had killed her without turning a hair, only to fall to her knees the next moment and weep because she had taken someone else's life. It showed even in her deck. Misty had never had much interest in reptiles until the lizard god had made her its avatar, and she was willing to bet that Rudger's affinity for spiders and Demark's collection of apes were new to them as well. But Carly's cards were more or less the way they had always been - a little stronger, perhaps, but essentially the same. And it was a fortune deck. Who played a deck like that if they weren't looking forward to what the next day brought?
That was the root of the problem. Carly was still clinging stubbornly to those impossible dreams of hers. Somewhere in her heart of hearts, she was still convinced that this was going to turn out right. Jack was going to come save her. She was going to get out of this dark place, away from the hatred and the anger and the pain. She was going to return to the world of the light and the living, and she was going to marry and have beautiful children. She was going to become a championship duelist, right after she wrote this whole escapade into a story and probably won a prize for journalism.
"Oh, Carly," she sighed. "Even if you were alive, it wouldn't be that easy. Why are you making this so hard on yourself?"
It was a pity. Even as Misty pitied her for what was going to happen next, she couldn't help but think that she liked this poor girl. If things had been different, she imagined they might have been friends. For a moment, she entertained a fantasy of the two of them having a normal life. She imagined her taking Carly clothes shopping and teaching her how to put on makeup, how to charm a man or deflect his unwanted attention. If Jack broke Carly's heart, Misty would be the shoulder she cried on; if not, she would be the listening ear that patiently took in the endless speeches about how generally wonderful he was... and perhaps later, she would be a source of good advice as to how to keep him happy now that she had him. And for Misty, Carly would be the little sister she'd never had, and perhaps fill some of the loneliness that her brother's passing had left. Maybe if she'd met Carly sooner, she wouldn't have felt the same burning desire for vengeance. Maybe she could have moved on.
You can't change the past, she reminded herself, but it didn't do any good, because it didn't have to be the past. Thinking things like this - imagining having friends, healing, moving forward - made her wish for a future.
She realized that she had been pacing without realizing it, walking in circles around the vast underground chamber where the Dark Signers had made their lair, and that she was nearly back to the place where she had started. Misty stopped walking and stood in front of Carly's door, listening for sounds of movement, but all was silent. Unable to resist the compulsion, she opened the door and let herself in. Carly was where she had left her, asleep on a sofa, lying in a posture of utter exhaustion. Her eyes shuttled rapidly behind her closed eyelids, and her fingers twitched slightly.
Of course. I should have known, thought Misty, and felt a stab of envy that Carly apparently had found the escape that Misty no longer had. What are you doing now, little one? Are you writing your latest article? Or running your fingers through your lover's hair? Is there light where you are?
It was pointless to ask, of course. Once she woke up again, the reality would be that she was in this dark place, and would probably never get out, unless it was to go to somewhere equally dark and unpleasant, and as for the rest...
Even so... I hope you sleep a while longer, Carly. I am glad one of us is dreaming.