Yeah, I know it took forever. I have no excuse.

I just hope you guys didn't give up on this story because I'm not nearly done yet ;)

Hope you like,

Tal :-*

PS: I'm not putting any fic's reccomendations today 'cause I'm just too tired and it's the middle of the night =P

Bad always leads to good

Chapter 29


"No way! You are not accepting this task, Little Girl! I will not allow that!" Abe yells; I see little bits of spit flying out of his mouth. Ew.

"I'm going to do it, Old Man." I sigh. "You can stop fussing like a worried mother. I'm a big girl, Dad."

"That's what you said about the whole 'Killer' thing, Rose. This is different. That Strigoi is the oldest Strigoi known to man, and he isn't living alone." Abe looks around at the family surrounding us in Denis, Artur and Lev's new place (Nicolai's old apartment), which is conveniently located in a building close to the place where my grand entrance took place. "I want to remind you the last time you got into a Strigoi's layer here in Russia. Good thing we had Oksana with us or you would still have the scares on your neck." Everyone in the room around us shudders; and Dimitri gets a haunted look in his eyes.

"That was a long time ago, Father." I hiss. "I have my powers now, I've killed a lot of Strigois in the last five years. I can do this!" I argue.

Why am I even talking about this? I should use the time I have to plan a successful attack.

"This isn't some newborn Strigoi, Roza." Olena adds. "Eight years ago, a royal Moroi has been slautered by that Strigoi. The queen sent sixteen guardians from her guards to take care of the Strigoi. They were all dead within half an hour. Sixteen guardians from the Royal Guard, Rose! What chance do you have?"

Damn! Sixteen Royal Guardians? I might have slightly underestimated that Strigoi's power.

"If I won't go they'll send someone else, Olena! What do you want me to do? Let some other girl get killed? They don't all have the experience I have!"

"As harsh as it sounds right now, Rose, we just don't care." Liss snaps. "We don't care how much experience you have, or that you now have your new powers, or what will happen if you say no. The only thing we care about right now is you and keeping you safe, which we won't be able to do if you accept this task."

Well, I guess she isn't mad anymore. I think to myself. I really should talk to her about this before I leave.

"Well, I'm not going to let some clueless girl just waltz right into the lion's den. I won't. And I know I can kill this Strigoi, I will kill this Strigoi." I say. "I've killed a lot of Strigois already, and I'm not going to change my mind about this. So instead of wasting our time on pointless argues, help me form a plan of action."

"You won't need a plan of action because you won't live long enough to go through with it, Rosie. There's a reason why Lev, Artur and I never told you about this Strigoi, we knew you would want to hunt him and we couldn't let you do that. A lot of our friends from the Academy had planned an attack on the mansion where the Strigoi stays a few years ago. None of them had come back." Denis pleads with me. "Please don't do this, Rosie, please. We can't lose you."

"Why are you all so frightened?" I ask. "He is just a Strigoi. We were trained to kill those all of our lives. What's so different about this one?"

"He is not just a Strigoi, Rose. This is what you don't understand." Lev snaps. "He is the strongest and oldest Strigoi in the world. He had built an army of the most vicious and cruel Strigois as his servants and they are all living with him. He is the Lord Voldemort of our world, Rose."

I snort at that. "Nice comparison, Lev. Very intelligent of you to use Harry Potter's characters to try to make me take this more seriously." I try to joke, but everyone stays silent.

"This is serious, Roza. If you won't quit this task I will go tell Anna myself that I'm switching places with you." Olena glares at me. I swear, I've never seen anyone looking so frightening before. "I'd like to see you handling that."

"You wouldn't." I glare back.

"Oh I will. If you think this Strigoi is so harmless then why won't you let me go? I'm not a clueless little girl, I've been a guardian before I got pregnant." Olena taunts. I don't know what has gotten into her. Where is my sweet Olena who can't hurt a fly? Not here, that's for sure. Oh no, Olena is in a full Mama Bear mood right now.

"That is completely different. You hadn't trained in years, you don't have as much experience as I have and you don't have my powers." I state.

"You can't trust your powers, Rose. You don't know if you'll be able to use them." Lissa whispers. "Think Rose, remember what happened the last time you couldn't control your powers, remember what I did. You're relying on your powers too much."

"What did Lissa do?" Nicolai asks.

"Nothing," I hiss.

Lissa and Christian share a meaningful look, which makes me think that maybe Christian isn't as clueless as he should be about 'what happened last time I couldn't control my powers'.

Christian takes Lissa's hand in his. He gives her an encouraging smile and a small nod of his head. So small, that nobody else but me even noticed. They were all still puzzled about what Lissa said and my reaction to her words to see the almost unnoticeable interaction between Christian and Lissa.

I sense overwhelming waves of guilt and shame coming off of Lissa. Her eyes get watery and as she sees me looking at her, trying to convince her not to do what I know she's about to do, she immediately drops her gaze to the floor.

"I stabbed Rose," She whispers quietly. She was so quiet; I hoped no one could hear her. But, unfortunately, Olena heard her say something.

"What was that, Dear?"

Lissa steals another look at Christian before taking a deep breath in and releasing it slowly. Her gaze meets mine again before settling on a spot near Eddie's foot. "Last week, when Rose and I were attacked by Strigois," Liss starts, a bit louder this time. "She… I… Her powers didn't work… And that voice told me… I just wanted to see my family again… I didn't think… I wasn't…" Lissa is in a full on crying mood right now. Christian lays a hand on her back and leads her to the sofa, where he places her in his lap and mumbles things to her ear while rubbing soothing circles across her back. We all follow the two to the sofa and sit down around them, forming a circle.

"Lissa dear, we don't understand. What happened last week? What made you so upset?" Olena asks softly, too afraid of another breakdown but also too worried to keep quiet.

Lissa sends Christian a pleading look, but he shakes his head, deep sorrow in his blue eyes. "You need to be the one telling them, Liss." He says. "I wish I could, but I don't know all the details. Either Rose will tell them, which I really don't think will happen, or you will have to."

Lissa opens her mouth again, but nothing comes out.

Denis switches his gaze from Liss to me. "What's going on, Rosie?" He asks. "What happened last week? What is Lissa trying to tell us?" Everyone is now staring at me, looking for an explanation.

I sigh. "Lissa and I ran into some Strigois, my powers didn't work and I didn't have my stake with me. I fought with a few Strigois, I got stabbed, Lissa passed out, my powers came back and I killed them all. End of story." I say in an emotionless tone. "I guess I just wasn't focused enough at first. It won't happen again." Okay, so I dropped out a few details. So what? That's actually what happened just with fewer details. Like the darkness convincing Liss and I to kill each other and Lissa being the one that stabbed me. Nothing they need to know.

I guess my speech did the opposite of what I intended it to do, because it gave Lissa enough motivation to start talking. Why do I get the feeling that lately, all of my secrets are revealed one by one? Oh, right, because it's true.

"Stop trying to protect me, Rose. That's not what happened and you know it. How can you even look at me after what I did to you?" Liss starts crying again. "I stabbed you, Rose. I tried to kill you." Gasps fill the room, but I keep my eyes focused on Lissa face as she sobs. "Why don't you hate me?" She whispers. "You should hate me."

Christian and I share a look. We both stand up at the same time and switch places. He sits in my place between Lev and Artur and I sit in his place, and place Liss in my lap, like a little girl. "Of course I don't hate you, Liss." I say softly. "How could I? You weren't in your right mind. That voice affected you. Of course you'd want to see your family. It's not your fault."

Silence spreads across the room. I consider keep talking just to avoid this kind of silence, but Denis beats me to it. "Rosie, I need you to explain this to me again, because from what I understood from what you and Lissa just said, Lissa tried to kill you, and that's impossible, so please explain."

I sigh again. "It's not what it sounds like, guys." I start, but get interrupted by Anna bursting into the room.

"Finally!" She calls. "It has been forty-five minutes, Rose. You are late for your declaration. Everyone were sure you ran away after you heard what your task is after we couldn't find you. But I knew you wouldn't do that. I mean, with you being 'The Killer' and all."

"She doesn't accept the task!" Abe barks. I can see that Anna is startled by the hostility in Abe's glare, and I understand her. When Zmey looks at someone like that, that person needs to start running, and fast.

"Don't listen to the old man, Anna." I say, Lissa still in my lap. "I accept the task; I just need some more time with my family. I promise I'll be on my way to the Strigoi's den in less than three hours." I ignore the protesting calls all around me. "Is that okay?" I ask.

Anna's eyes widen at my attitude towards Abe. I guess she never saw anyone talking like that to Zmey and keeping both of his kneecaps unbroken. She nods slowly. "On one hand, we never gave a heroin more time than what was given in the letter but on the other hand, none of the other heroines had ever got such a dangerous mission on the first mission, or ever, actually. I'll see what I can do."

"Thank you," I smile as she leaves the apartment, and then turn to face my family.

"I know you don't agree with my choice, but you can't do anything about it, so don't even try." I start. I can see most of them are about to argue anyway, so I hurriedly add. "Now, do you want me to explain what happened last week or not?" That shuts them up. Liss drops her head on my shoulder and shuts her eyes as I start.

"Last week, after I left to run and Liss followed me, we were attacked by ten Strigois. I was without my stake and when I tried to use my powers I found out I couldn't. We started fighting hand to hand combat until one Strigoi landed a hit on me and threw me aside. He grabbed Lissa by her neck, and she tried to compel him to let her go."

I pause for a second when Liss hides her head her face at the nape of my neck, trying to hide herself from everyone's looks. "I was sucked into Lissa's head. There was a voice in her head that convinced her it's my entire fault and that she should kill me."

I pause again when Liss raises her head. Her watery eyes survey everyone in the room before she opens her mouth. "The… The voice told me Rose didn't love me, that she was using me and that my family is hurt that I saved her and not them." Mia puts her hands over her mouth in shock. She knows how much Liss Miss' her family. Lissa shuts her eyes again, remembering what that voice said. "It kept telling me 'Kill her, and get your family back'"

Now, Mia is not the only one with her hands on her mouth. Lissa drops her head back on my shoulder and I continue telling the story.

"I was stuck in Lissa's head, so I couldn't help her. She shook the Strigoi off of her and took a knife out of his pocket."

"A butcher's knife." Lissa mumbles and Olena gasps.

"She stabbed me in the chest and hit my ribs. The pain brought me back to my body and I took away all of her darkness. Then she passed out." I stop here, not sure if I should continue or not. Lissa doesn't know I tried to kill her, and I'm afraid of her reaction. But, by revealing the whole truth I might be able to show Liss that she's not the only one who was affected by that voice. It might make her hate herself less; never mind the fact that she's going to hate me. She comes first; always.

"I didn't really pass out," Lissa says. "I was inside Rose's head." She admits.

She was? Oh man, this is not good. Why didn't she tell me? "You were? Why didn't you tell me?"

I try to catch her gaze, but she refuses to look into my eyes. "I… I heard what that voice told you." She mumbles.

Oh. She's upset about what that voice said about her.

"Liss," I sigh. "I know what that voice said about you is not true, just like I'm sure you know what that voice said about me isn't true. I love you and I understand your anger about what I almost did completely. I'm a guardian, I'm supposed to protect you and I did the complete opposite. I'm very sorry, Liss."

Liss lifts her head from my shoulders and looks into my eyes. "What are you talking about?" She asks in a trembling voice.

"You have no idea how sorry I am that I believed that voice… To think that I tried to…" I shudder at the thought. "I understand why you are mad at me, Liss, but you have to understand that I would never want to hurt you, and to think that I almost did…"

"Of course I'm not mad at you!" Lissa bursts and stands up to glare down at me.

"You're not?" I ask, shocked.

"I am now!" She yells. "How could you even think that?" She pauses for a second so that she could breathe some air in before her next outburst, but before she could continue Vika intervenes.

"Could someone please explain what's going on? What did that voice tell you, Roza? What did you almost do? And why the fuck would Lissa be mad at you?"

"Viktoria Jane Belikov! Watch your language! You are not too old for me to wash your mouth with water and soap." Olena admonishes.

Vika blushes ten shades of red. "Sorry, Ma. But really, what's going on?"

"What's going on," Lissa says loudly, still annoyed with my assumption. "Is that after Rose took the darkness from me I was sucked into her head. That voice started saying things to her, much worse things than it did to me, and it convinced her to kill me."

Again, gasps fill the room. "But Rose managed to stop herself in time before she could hurt me and she used all the darkness in her to kill the Strigois." Everyone breathe in in relief when Liss tells them I stopped myself before hurting her.

It bugs me how Lissa could be so hard on herself but at the same time, tell the story in a way to make me look like the hero instead of the monster. "I tried," I say. "I actually lifted her body off the ground and planned on sending her into a group of ten bloodthirsty Strigois. The only reason I didn't do it is that when I lifted her using the darkness, my mind got clearer."

"But you didn't!" Lissa bursts. "Don't you see the difference, Rose? The voice told me that if I'd kill you, I'd get my family back, and I did it. But, the voice told you that if you'd kill me you'd be happy, and you didn't do it. Why Rose?" And again with the pitying looks. I just can't stand it. My life is my life and whether I'm happy or not, it's not anyone's business.

"So, what you are saying is, that you want me to kill you?"

"Of course not!" Lissa looks appalled. "What I want is to know why do you always think that your feelings doesn't matter, that your happiness doesn't matter?" Liss whispers now again. "It was always like that. Even at school, you always put other's desires, mostly mine, above yours. It shouldn't be like that, Rose!" Lissa finishes her big speech with tears gathered in her eyes, and as much as I want to be mad at her right now, I can't. Behind her tears, I can see pure love and worry in her eyes, along with some shame and apology at her past actions.

Instead of just storming out and running away from the pitying looks all around me, I simply say. "I fail to see where you're heading with all this, Liss. This has nothing to do with me going to hunt that Strigoi."

"It has everything to do with that, Roza. And the fact that you don't see it is what worries us." Sonya says from her seat on the couch in front of me. Lissa walks across the small circle we have created and settles down back in Christian's lap. They all stare at me expectantly now.

"What is this?" I shout. "Some kind of an intervention?"

"You can call it that," Eddie is the one to answer me this time. "Or just your family, which loves you very much, trying to convince you not to go and get yourself killed."

"Well, the only thing you have succeeded achieving in this conversation is to tell everyone that Lissa stabbed me and I tried to kill her, and to piss me off. So why don't you tell me how your story fits perfectly into your 'Rose is too reckless to make decisions about her life' agenda so that you could all go home and I could go do my job," I pause for a second, daring anyone to contradict me. "Which I have been doing for the last five years," I stress on that sentence. "And come back when I'm finished." They all release an exasperated sighs as I talk, apparently expecting me to decide I'm staying here.

Nicolai stands up from his seat in the circle and sits down on the floor in front of me. He takes my hands in his and looks into my eyes. "I think it would be best if I will explain this to you, since I'm the one least connected to you, and you seem to not understand when Lissa is trying to say this gently." He smiles, trying to make us smile and break the tension a bit.

Nicolai releases my hands and sits more comfortably on the floor. My guess is that he is getting prepared to a rough argument. "What Lissa was trying to say by telling us the story, what we all try to make you realize, is that you have to stop sacrificing yourself and your desires," I open my mouth to object, but Nicolai "shh's" me. "Think about what your claims are, Rose. You won't forfeit the task because you don't want to send another girl to her death. But what about your life, Rose? Why is someone else's life more important than yours?"

I remain speechless, which is not something you see every day. But really, how can I answer a speech like that? "Look, guys, I know you're all very concerned about me, and I love you for it. But I don't know what to tell you. That's what I was taught since I was a little girl. Guardians risk their lives to save someone else's, they don't come first. Ever. And now you ask me why?" I take a deep breath. "I can't promise you I'll come back safe and sound. I know there's a pretty good possibility I won't come back at all; I'm not stupid." I roll my eyes. "But I'm willing to take that risk. And there's nothing you can do to stop me."

They all sigh again. "Now, I think it's time for me to start getting ready. Someone has anything else he wants to tell me before I leave?" I ask.

Everyone look down sadly. It breaks my heart to see how much pain I cause them, but I know I have to do this. "Just remember that we all love you," Olena whispers. "And that we only want what's best for you." I nod at them and stand up, so that I could hug everyone before being on my way.

I first go to a couch behind me, where Paul, Gabriel and Rosalie are fast asleep. I feel horrible about waking them up, but I know that I may not come back, and that it would hunt them if they won't be able to at least tell me goodbye.

I shake their shoulder until they're at least half awake. "Hey," I whisper.

"Autie Rosie?" Gabriel asks. "What's going on?"

"I'm going to leave soon," I tell them. "Just wanted to tell you all goodbye." I hug the three of them together, with Paul in the middle, and then each one of them separately, kissing them on their foreheads.

"You guys have to take care of everyone while I'm gone, 'kay?" I say. "The family is going to be pretty sad, and I need you three to cheer them up."

"Why would they be sad, Auntie?" Rosalie asks in her cute tired voice. "You're going to come back, right?"

I was sure I'm going to come back when the task was announced, but now, after I've seen how terrified everyone is of this Strigoi, and after I've heard a few stories about him, I'm not so sure anymore. "I will if I can, baby." I give her another kiss. "But I'm not sure I would be able to. Either way, promise me you'd help everyone. Why don't you take everyone to the zoo tomorrow?" I suggest. "Don't let anyone stay in the house."

They all nod. I hug them tightly one last time, holding my tears in. Then, I move to the next person, Karolina.

"Love you, Sis," I whisper as I hug her tightly. "Don't be sad." I feel a few tears drop from her eyes to my neck, but I ignore it. I kiss her on the check and release her, smiling slightly before moving to Sonya. Karolina picks up Gabriel in one hand, which is a very big achievement since he's already five, and hugs Paul with the other, crying softly. "Don't cry, Ma." I hear Paul say. "Auntie Rosie is the best fighter in the world. She'll come back."

I chuckle while embracing Sonya. It's pretty much the same thing that happened with Karolina, and I have to fight to keep my tears in check.

Ugh, I hate saying goodbye, especially when I don't know if I'll be back. That's why running away was always my thing, no one can see you crying when they don't know you're leaving. And I hate it when someone sees me crying.

After I say goodbye to Paul, Rosalie, Gabriel, Karolina, Sonya, Vika, Nicolai, Lev, Artur, Adrian and Christian, I turn to Mia and Eddie.

"Good luck on your doctor's appointment today," I whisper to them both as I stand in front of them. Since their appointment is in a Moroi clinic in Moscow, their appointment is at 3 A.M. while here in Baia, we live on the human timeline, which means everyone will be asleep.

Mia sobs and pulls Eddie and me into a tight hug. "I really don't like the fact that you're going, Rose, but I know that if someone can do this, you can." Eddie whispers. "Besides, you have to come back." He states. "We're making you our little girl's godmother." I smile; Eddie and I have always been like brother and sister, and I'm glad a five years break hasn't changed that.

"It's going to be a boy." Mia growls.

"Girl." Eddie retorts.




I laugh loudly. "I love you, guys." I kiss them both on the cheek before moving to Olena.

I take her gentle hands in one of mine and use the other hand to wipe off her tears. "I can't tell you how grateful I am that you accepted me into the family, Ma. And I know you're mad at me for accepting the task, but I'm not doing this just for me, I'm doing this for everyone. I can't let that Strigoi keep feeding off of people in this town. Anyone could be next. You understand, right?"

Olena nods slowly. "The fact that I understand why you're doing this does not mean that I approve of it, Roza. I just want to see you safe and happy."

"Then you need to know that I'll never be happy if I'll know I had the chance to save so many people and I gave up on it." I keep wiping off the tears that are still running down her face.

"That's the only reason why I don't have you tied down to a chair in our basement yet, Roza." She laughs. "I just want what's best for you."

A lonely tear falls from my eyes. "I love you, Mom."

Olena hugs me tightly. "I love you too, Roza. You're the best daughter I could have asked for."

Karolina and Sonya clear their throats playfully, glaring at their mother.

"Oh that's not what I meant and you know it. You three are the best daughters I could have asked for. And since Dimitri is my only son I have, I'm not going to get another daughter except Roza, so I'm glad I already have you as a daughter."

I blush slightly as Olena's words settle in. Does she really think Dimitri won't bring another girl home except for me? I mean, if I won't come back after today, surely he'll find a new girl eventually, right?

"I love you, Ma." I tell her, purposely ignoring the meaning of the words she just uttered. Surely, she didn't really mean them; she just wanted to convince me not to go by telling me Dimitri will suffer. We weren't even dating for Christ's sake!

She kisses my cheek gently and I can't help but let the tears start flowing. How could anyone stand hearing Olena so hurt and sad, I'll never know.

Before I could move on to the next goodbye, (By the time I got to say goodbye to Olena, the kids already fell asleep again and everyone got back to their seats because they were tired of standing for so long.) Someone lays their hand heavily on my back. As I turn around, I see Abe with tears in his eyes, and Olena immediately pulls him into our hug.

"Don't cry, Old Man," I whisper, because I'm sure he does not want everyone to see him cry. "You're not going to get rid of me so easily." I try to joke, but he sends me a stern look.

"I'm so sorry I wasn't in your life, Rose," He says, and I immediately startle. I always saw Abe as a heartless mobster, and now to see him acting like that… and crying… It creeps me out.

"You are now," I tell him. "And that's what matters."

"Roza is right, Abe." Olena whispers to him too. "What has happened in the past should stay in the past. It won't help anyone for you to keep torturing yourself over it now."

We stay in this position for a few more moments, none of us wanting to let go of the other. "You are the best parents I could have asked for. I'm so grateful I have you, guys."

I hear someone clear their throat behind me, and as I turn my head around I see Yeva waiting for her turn to say goodbye. I leave Olena and Abe's embrace and move right into Yeva's. I manage to see Abe and Olena clinging to each other before I bury my face in Yeva's neck.

It's not very shocking for me to realize how hard it is to say goodbye to my family. I have no idea what I was thinking when I planned to leave in a month.

"Any advices, Babushka?" I ask.

"Don't die." She says loudly and I chuckle. I'm the only one to find this amusing. Everyone look at me with sad eyes, filled with tears and sadness.

"Now really," I ask. "Do you know something about the outcom of this task? Will I be successful?"

Yeva shakes her head. "My knowledge doesn't work like that, my girl." She says. "What I do know is that there will be no second task. Weather it will be because you'll fail the task or other circumstances, remains to be seen."

After hearing that, Olena starts sobbing again, and I regret asking anything. I stay in Yeva's hug a few more minutes, taking comfort in her hug.

"The problem isn't finding out where you are going to go – it's figuring out what you are going to do once you get there that is." Adrian says from across the room in a weird sensei voice.

I turn around to face him, leaving Yeva's embrace but keeping one of my hands around her shoulder. "What?" What he just said would have sounded so weird if he hadn't said it in that voice; but by the way he sounded everyone could realize he wasn't in a sane state of mind. It was his 'crazy' voice. And he shouldn't have these crazy moods anymore.

Just when I'm about to suggest that I'll heal the darkness out of him, Adrian switches the dreamy look on his face to a smug one. "What's wrong, Rose? Do you need a hearing device? I thought you said you now have 'heightened' senses along with your super powers. Doesn't seem so 'heightened' to me. Maybe it's better if you stay home." He smirks and I scowl. At least he got Olena to smile.

"I'm going to shove one of those hearing devices so far up your ass; you will hear the sound of your small intestine as it produces shit." I glare at him and ignore the glare Olena sends my way after my threat, sending a glance to the kids to make sure they are still asleep.

Before Olena could manage to scold me because of my threat, I hurriedly remove my arm from around Babushka's shoulders and take a few steps to stand in front of Denis, ready to say my goodbye.

The worst thing about this situation is that we don't know if we'll see each other ever again. Denis has been the best friend anyone could have ever asked for in the last five years and I hate seeing him so upset over my leaving, I hate the fact that I'm the one causing him pain. I never want to do that, but lately it seems like that's the only thing I am capable of doing.

It will probably be better for him if I'll never return from this mission. Even though it will hurt him at the beginning, he will be able to forget me eventually, he will be able to move on.

"I guess this is goodbye," I say in a choked voice, and raise my arms to warp them around his waist.

But, before I could even rest my arms around him, Denis puts his hands around my waist and slings me over his shoulder ,carrying me caveman-style towards one of the bedrooms.

Even though I have a very strong urge to scream and pound on his back until he drops me, I just stay there, quiet and calm, dangled over his shoulder until he reaches the door he was looking for, opens it and sets my feet gently back on the floors the he could face me.

"This doesn't have to be a goodbye." He says. "The letter didn't mention anything about you having to do this alone, Rosie. I can come with you. I can help you."

I start to panic. No! Denis can't come with me. I've already ruined his life enough as it is with all my drama. The last thing he needs is me getting him killed. He won't be another Mason. I won't let him.

"Denis, no." I say. "There is no way in hell I'll let you come on this mission with me. You're going to stay here with the guys and your brother and if I won't come back… Then that's what was meant to be."

"It was not meant to be and you know it." He growls. "You can't stop me from coming with you just like I can't stop you from going at all."

"I'll fight with you if I'll have to." I tell him, my eyes pleading him to understand why I'm doing this. "I'll leave you unconscious and will leave the place before you wake up, without even a goodbye. Is that what you want to happen?" I really would, and I don't care how harsh it sounds. It's for his own good.

Denis looks at me with big, sad eyes. "Please don't do this, Rosie. Just let me come with you, let me help you stay alive." He pleads. Of course he knows I meant what I said, he knows me too well not to.

Denis sits down numbly on what I assume is his new bed in what was Nicolai's old apartment and now belongs to the guys. By the look of this room, I'm pretty sure Denis carried me to his bedroom. "Please Rosie, don't do this. Don't leave me like that." He pleads again and my heart breaks into millions of tiny pieces. Here I am, hurting him again. This is exactly why I can't let him come with me.

I settle down in his lap, placing a small kiss on his cheek. "I'm so sorry, Baby. I just can't let you come with me. I won't."

Denis crushes me as close as he can to his body and buries his face in my neck and hair. "Then don't leave." He mumbles.

I place my hand under his chin and pull his head up so that I could look at him in the eyes. "I can't." I say. "I'm sorry."

A lone tear runs down his cheek and he quickly wipes it off.

"I love you." I tell him. "I really do. I just wish it would have been enough."

Denis looks deep into my eyes and leans forward. I know I should stop him, but I also know that by doing that, I'll hurt him even more. So, I let his lips crash into mine.

His kiss is nice, soft and comforting. But it doesn't have the passion I share with Dimitri. It doesn't make me feel breathless, speechless, or any other 'less' you could come with. Well, except heartless.

I'm eventually the one to break the kiss. Denis looks at me with expectant eyes. "I'm sorry." Is all I manage to utter. But those two words are apparently enough to break Denis's heart. I can see it in his eyes.

"No, I'm sorry." He says. "I know you don't feel like that towards me. Or, at least, not enough. I shouldn't have done that."

I give him one last peck on the lips and a sad smile before I get off of his lap.

"I better go call Lissa," He says. "I'm sure you want to do the last two goodbyes more privately than the others." He gets up from the bed and heads toward the door.

"Denis," I call and he halts in his steps, his back facing me. "I love you, I really do. It's just that…" I pause, not sure how and if I should continue.

"It's just that you love Belikov more." He finishes the sentence for me. "I know, Rosie." He sends me a sad smile before leaving the room and signaling for Liss to come in and close the door after her.

"Hey Liss," I say as she sits down next to me on the bed.

"Hey," She sits quietly next to me on the bed, folding her hands in her lap and keeping her head down, refusing to meet my gaze.

"Would you like to explain?" I ask tentatively, as to show her I'm not mad at her and not accusing her of anything.

"About why I told everyone what happened last week or why I've been avoiding you ever since it happened?" She sighs.

"Both." I shrug.

"Well, I think Nicolai explained my intentions as to why I chose to open everything that had happened in front of everyone pretty well. And as of why I was ignoring you… Do you really not see it? See the difference?"

"I really don't." I say. "Talk to me, Liss. You know I'll never be mad at you, especially not about something you had no control over. I understand if you got freaked out about what happened after you passed out but all you needed to do was talk to me. Why would you feel it was necessary to ignore me like that?"

"You know what Rose?" Lissa bursts. "I'm sick of it, okay? I'm just sick of it!"

"Sick of what?"

"Sick of all this self-loathing you've got going on." She screams. "The reason I was ignoring you wasn't because you almost tried to kill me, it was because that when I was in your head, when I heard what that voice told you, I realized something."

"Which is…"

Liss rubs her forehead roughly. "That voice… That voice told me that if I would kill you, I'll get my family back, right? And I stabbed you in the chest."

"Right. And?"

"And it told you that if you'd kill me, you'd be happy, right? And the only thing you did was lift me off the ground a few inches and then set me back down."


"Don't you see how wrong that is? I want you, for once in your life, to think only about yourself, and what you want; Instead of putting everyone in front of you."

I sigh deeply. "This conversation sounds awfully familiar, don't you think, Liss? Maybe it's because we already had it about an hour ago with the rest of the family." I really hate to use this tone of sarcasm with Liss, but that's the only thing that may make her leave it alone.

"Yeah I know, Rose. But…"

"Not buts. We've been through it. I'm not backing out of this task and nothing anyone will say will change that. I'm sorry Liss but not even you."

"And I?" A strong voice from the doorway questioned. "Maybe I can change your mind?"

We both turn around abruptly, startled by the voice. We see Dimitri standing at the entrance, looking at us with sad eyes.

"I'm sorry to interrupt your time together, Roza, Princess," He tells us. "But I would like to speak with Roza, and her time is coming short." He steals a look down to his watch. "We only have half an hour before you have to leave."

Why would we need more than ten minutes to say goodbye? I hope Dimitri isn't planning on having a heart-to-heart right now, because the last thing I need is to go out to this mission with a broken heart.

"Sure, Dimitri." Lissa smiles sadly, and then turns back to me and engulfs me in her arms.

"Be careful," She whispers.

"Always." I wink at her and watch her leave the room, closing the door behind her.

Now it's just the two of us in this room, and the silence starts getting uncomfortable. I sigh. "Dimitri," I start, breaking the silence, but he shakes his head, telling me to stop.

"I'm not going to pressure you not to do this task, or argue with you not to go, Roza." He states.

"You're not?" I question, shocked. He, with his over-protectiveness behavior, not going to argue with me over this? Obviously, I'm relieved I won't have to argue with him about this, but I'm ashamed to admit that I'm also a bit disappointed that Dimitri is willing to let me go like that. Of course no one would ever manage to convince me not to go, but it was nice to know that they cared.

"I know you too well to try to convince you, Roza. I know that once you've made up your mind, there is no way to change it back. I know there is no use of arguing with you, so instead I'd rather help you." He concludes. "There is nothing I'd like more than to know you're safe, happy, and back in the house. But, since I can't know that yet, I'll just have to make sure you'll come back, and then make sure you'll be safe and happy, just like I want you to be."

"Dimitri…" I sigh again.

"Shh Roza, just listen." He takes a deep breath in and releases it slowly. "While I was… While I was a Strigoi, I've met this Strigoi you're supposed to hunt. He was Galina's boss and wanted me to join him and live at his mansion; thought I had huge potential as a Strigoi." He rolls his eyes, and I see how much it hurts him to talk about it.

"I refused, not wanting to stay so close to Baia, so he threatened to kill someone from the Belikov family." I gasp. "I may have not been able to feel love at the time, but I did have an ego; A rather large one, and I was furious he'd even think to threaten my family." Dimitri stops from a minute, unable to continue, and I start rubbing soothing circles across is back.

"What happened then?" I whisper.

"I paid someone to place wards around the house," He sighs. "And I've also stationed some Strigois around Baia, with strict orders to not attack anyone." He flinches at that. "Do you remember killing two Strigois before coming in here? Those were Strigois I've stationed, who had disobeyed my orders."

"Really?" I ask. "So you knew I stayed with your family?"

"Yes," he sighs again, and suddenly he looks twenty years older.
[AN: I know that RM wrote he was surprised when Rose said she was with his family, but lets just pretend she didn't ;-)]

"I knew you were staying with my family, but so did Charles Montgomery, which, by the way, is the Strigoi's name."

"Wait," I cut him with wide eyes. "You want to tell me that the scary Strigoi I'm supposed to fight is called after a character from 'The Simpsons'?" I start laughing, and Dimitri just shakes his head and chuckles a bit.

"Why am I not surprised you recognized his name?" He chuckles. "No, he wasn't called after a character from 'The Simpsons'. There once was a legend about a vampire which used to go out and attack people, and the vampire was called Charles Montgomery. The legend was about his Moroi days, even then he used to go out and attack humans, so the makers of 'The Simpsons' called their character after him." He smiles for a bit. "Now after we cleared that up, may I go back to the story?"

I nod my head and wait for him to continue. "Like I said, Charles also knew you stayed with my family and started digging up about our past. When he found what he wanted he came to me and threatened your life, but by then you'd already left the house. I sent a couple of Strigois to protect you, and he sent a couple to kidnap you. You've met some of them. You actually tortured and staked them, but when the one you set free told Galina what you were doing, she refused to send more, so I convinced her to let me keep you with me in the hotel by promising you'll be a great Strigoi." We both shudder at the thought. "His mansion is just outside Baia, you just have to continue through the dirt road 'till you see a mansion."

Dimitri stops for a second but then continues. "He has some of the strongest Strigois living with him and he has a vault where he keeps all of his victim's possessions. He also has humans working for him."

"Thank you for telling me that, Dimitri." I tell him. "Not just the information on the Strigoi, but also your history with him, I know it wasn't easy for you. I promise to sneak in 'Dimitri sends his regards' right before I stake him." I joke, but it only seems to make us both more anxious.

"You don't need to send him my regards, because I'll be doing it myself." Dimitri growls.


"You didn't think I'd let you go there alone, did you, Roza?" He smiles. "I'm going to keep you safe, even if it's the last thing I'll do."

"No you're not! If you think for one second that you're going to come with to this mission then you're very, very mistaken. I'm doing this alone." I growl.

"Be reasonable, Roza. I know where the exits are, I know how to get to the vault and I know which room belongs to which Strigoi. You need me so that you could win this, Roza." He begs. "I need you to come back safe. And alive, and for that I need to be there to make sure you won't get hurt. So even if you'll manage to run away from me now, and you'll go there alone, I know where he lives, Roza. I will help you stay alive, whether you like it or not."

"If you're planning on coming there while I'll already be there then you should know you'll be doing more damage than help." I snap at him. "You don't know my action plan, so by going there you may just reveal to the Strigois that I'm there." I tell him.

"Then I'll just have to make sure you won't be able to run away from me and go alone." He states. "You're not going alone and that's final."

I look deep into Dimitri's eyes and see pure determination. He really isn't going to let me walk out of here alone. Well, I'm not going to let him come with me.

"I'm really sorry, Dimitri." I sigh, and before he could even object I punch really hard on a dot in his neck which leaves him unconscious immediately.

I know that now, after I've pointed out the flaws in his plan to come to the mansion after I've already arrived, he'd never do it. And if rending Dimitri unconscious is the only solution to me walking out of here alone, then that's definitely what I'm going to do.

"I'm sorry," I whisper and place a small peck on his soft lips before leaving his spread on Denis's bed and exiting the room.

"Denis, I need to borrow on of your stakes," I say as I walk back into the living room.

Denis just nods his head and walks back into the room I just exited.

"Where's Dimitri, Rose?" Lissa asks from her seat on the couch.

"Unconscious on Denis's bed. He's going to wake up in a couple more hours with a killer headache. Make sure he takes some Advil, okay?"

Lissa just nods her head, too shocked to say anything else.

"Belikov tried to come with you, didn't he?" Denis asked as he re-entered the room, and I just nodded. "I see you weren't kidding." He adds, and I just nod my head again.

"I must be going," I tell them all.

Before anyone could say anything else, I turn around and leave the apartment, wiping a small tear from my cheek without anyone noticing.

And then I started walking. And walking. And walking. Until I was standing in front of the place where I'll most likely spend my last moments, trying to take with me as many Strigois as I could.