Rachel had rushed to the young man and tried to look at his wound, but the colonel had immediately pushed away, a terrible grin on his face.
"He's dying!" the journalist. "We can't just let him die here, like this! Why did you shoot? Look at him, it's a miracle that boy even had enough strength to stand, how on earth could he have been a menace to you, to anyone?"
"He was with her."
"And that was enough to kill him? Just because he didn't see what Samara really was?"
"No one stupid enough to believe her to be good deserves to live. Think of it as helping natural selection, and be glad I'm allowing you to live, after all you've done for her."
It wasn't the first time the colonel mentioned that he should have killed her for freeing Samara, all those years ago. It was however the first time Rachel realized that he would in fact do it as soon as he no longer needed her, and that this moment was approaching dangerously fast.
"You're mad," she whispered. "You are completely mad, you're probably worse than even her."
He didn't answer, focusing instead on the red-haired boy bleeding on the floor, gasping for breath, pathetically trying to reach for Samara with a trembling hand, not aware that the girl had probably lost consciousness while the colonel was beating her.
God, Rachel hoped she wasn't conscious. Even for Samara this was too much.
But the her surprise and horror, she saw the young girl struggle until she was able to take Pink's hand in her own and squeeze it. Even when the young man stopped moving and breathing, Samara didn't let go of his hand, clinging to it with all her strength, as if her life depended on it. And in some way, it probably did.
Suddenly, it all clicked together in Rachel's head.
Even when she had first seen those two together, she had felt something had been... wrong. She had known that, somehow, Samara was different when she was with him. For heaven's sake, she had been smiling until she saw Rachel. The Samara she had known before would never have smiled, probably didn't even know the word existed. And everything after that, the way she had clung to the boy like a frightened child might have done, the way he had protected her, even though he had known who and what she was, the fact that Samara had probably tried to protect him in return in that restaurant, and then how she had stayed with him while he was asleep, ready to stay by his side for ever probably, and how she wouldn't let go of him even now that he was dead...
"Oh God. What have I done?"
"You have done the right thing," answered the colonel. "And you will keep doing it by letting me destroy that... thing. That little monster will never again hurt anyone."
But she hadn't hurt anyone since she had met the boy, not until Rachel and Mr. Jackson had made them fugitives running for their lived.
"We can't kill her. We mustn't. There's hope for her! She can change, she's proven it! Look at her, just look at her! She isn't the same, she... she's good now, better, just look at her!"
To prove her point, Rachel sat down next to Samara and, slowly, gently, caressed her cheek. The girl was startled, and tried to move away, looking at her like a hare might look at a hunter.
"It's okay Samara," Rachel whispered. "It's going to be fine. I'm so sorry about your friend, I'm so sorry about everything. But I'm going to make everything better. Because you've changed, haven't you? You've become such a good girl, I can see that..."
For a few seconds, the young girl seemed surprised, almost scared, but she finally relaxed and allowed herself to just enjoy the journalist's caress.
"I'm so sorry Samara. I'm sorry you've lost him. I won't replace him but I'll find people to take care of you if you want, people who'll understand, and if we don't find anyone I'll just... care for you myself, I will, and..."
She stopped abruptly when she was struck violently by (la crosse) of a gun, and once more pushed away from the two bodies on the floor.
"You have made your choice, miss Keller" said the colonel in a cold, flat voice. "I hope you are reading to face the consequences."
He raised his hand again. And again. And again.
And then, the nightmare began. Samara's nightmare.
It had been years since the pictures had been so terrible. Years since they had been so horrific in her mind that even she couldn't stand them. It made her sick, that impression of everlasting suffering, these smells of rotting flesh, the sight of worms and flies and crawling horrors, those sounds of screaming and water. It was terrible, so painful, making her want to tear away her eyes and ears, to reach into her head and throw away her brain just to make it all stop.
It was the worse her brain had ever created to torture her and those around her, and yet it was still less awful than the fact that Pink was dead.
And if she had to suffer, the world would suffer with her.
Rachel's proposition had almost appeased her. Live with her? Yes, a thousand times yes, even now, even with everything Rachel had done, Samara would have been glad to be with her, even if she wasn't as great as Pink.
But the man wouldn't allow it.
No one would allow it.
And she wouldn't allow them to live.
They would all pay.
They would all die.
But she was too angry. Too sad. Not enough in control. In other circumstances, it would have been too easy, to make that man, that horrible, terrible man use his own gun against himself. And he did raise his gun, hesitated for a few moments, torn between his will and Samara's. But she was having doubts. Pink had said not to kill. And he was dead, yes, but he had wanted her to be a good girl, and she had been, she had been so good even Rachel had seen it. Even if that man was the worst person she had ever met, she wasn't sure she should kill him.
She hesitated for half a second maybe, but it was too long.
She lost was little control she had over colonel Jackson.
He pointed the gun at her, and shot twice, hitting her chest both times. Samara cried weakly, because of the pain obviously, but also, mostly, because it was just so awfully unfair that she had to die again.
She vaguely felt her body leaving to cold floor when the colonel lifted her until they were face to face.
"You lost, little monster" he said. "You lost and I win. You took my son. I took that idiot who dared to care for you, and I'll soon enough take that foolish journalist. You're going to die, for good this time, and I'm going to live. How does it feel? Are you going to beg? Did people beg you when you came for them? Did it ever move you, little freak?"
"Not a freak," Samara mumbled, her head feeling empty. "Princess. Pink say 'm a princess. Not begging."
"Too proud for that, little freak? How about I shoot again, somewhere that won't kill you faster, somewhere it'll just hurt, until you learn to beg?"
For a brief moment, Samara wondered if she had looked like that to all the people she had killed. She hoped not. She had never tried to make things... personal. It was a good thing, wasn't it? She had never wanted to humiliate them at least. She wanted to say that. She also wanted to say she wouldn't beg because she didn't see the point: he would kill her anyway. They might as well get that done as quickly as possible and move on. She wouldn't last much longer anyway. She was feeling so weak.
Somewhere behind them, Samara vaguely heard Rachel talking to the colonel. She was begging. Asking him to let them live. Foolishly thinking there was still some hope. Promising he'd never hear of them again, that Rachel would make sure Samara would never hurt anyone again. All the journalist earned from this was a nasty kick in the stomach that made her vision go white from pain, and a new blow to her head that had her fall down to the ground.
She struggled to remain conscious, trying to focus on anything. She feared that if she closed her eyes she might never open them again, and so she look desperatly around her, until...
until her eyes met Pink's.
Her first thought was that he had strangely big eyes, not exactly pretty, but interesting.
Her second thought was that she had thought he was facing the other way last time she had seen him.
Her third thought was that she knew, knew Pink had been dead just a few moments ago.
Her third thought was that she had to be hallucinating, because he was now moving, slowly standing up, walking toward the colonel. Putting his hands around the man's neck, and then, suddenly, without warning, twisting it violently. Something went snap. The colonel's body collapsed to the ground, but Pink somehow managed to catch Samara in her fall.
Her fifth thought was that she was definitely losing consciousness now. And the last thing she saw was Samara in Pink's arms, smiling at her.
Rachel woke up hours later, in a hospital room.
Later, people told her that she had been found next to colonel Jackson's dead body after an anonymous call had warned the hospital. They had found a lot of blood around them, most of it belonging to a patient of the hospital who had now disappeared. Witnesses believed to have seen the young man leave with a little girl, but even that wasn't certain. Considering how much blood he had lost, it seemed quite impossible that he could have gone anywhere. And yet, his body had disappeared.
A few weeks later, after finally coming home (no charged were pressed against her. The anonymous caller had also claimed the colonel's death as his own, and there were evidences proving that Rachel was, on the whole, quite innocent) the journalist received a postcard from a place with a ridiculous name that was apparently famous for having the biggest pumpkin in the world. There were no names on it, just a big "thank you" in a childish handwriting.
She had smiled.
Dead or alive, they were safe.
And... that's it. Thank you for your patience. I know I've been really awful with updating this. And there are many mistakes and probably plot holes everywhere. I don't really care. I just wanted to... make things better for Samara.
Thanks for reading.