Hello everyone! So I had a hectic year or so, and almost forgot I'd written this and left it so open ended. Thank you SO much to everyone who commented on BD&D, it means so much to me that people enjoyed it. Back then I had planned a sequel, and had even started writing it, and this is basically the first chapter. Being that I haven't written or thought about it in over a year, who knows where it will go from here... but posting is the first step to making myself keep going, so if you're interested there will be more. This will cycle through Emily, Katie and Naomi's POV most likely (that was the plan back then anyway). Again, I hope you all enjoy it, and want to thank everyone for waiting so patiently, and for the ridiculously kind comments! Your gracious and lovely words convinced me to dig this out of my hard drive and post this, so really, thank you for the encouragement.
So I Stayed In The Darkness With You
Their dad had given them the colouring book as a birthday present along with a little doll with brown hair and big blue eyes. Katie had grabbed the doll and declared it would be hers. Emily, she'd said, could have the stupid book, but when Katie had seen the little paint set that came with it, and the plain pictures inside begging to be coloured in, she'd grudgingly agreed that maybe they could share them both.
That was part of the problem though, that they were often given things they could share instead of something each. Their dad would've given them both dolls and colouring books if he could've afforded it. He might even have given them both dolls, or both books, but he thought Emily would like the book a little better, and Katie would love the doll.
They'd taken the presents to the bedroom and Katie had cuddled the doll to her chest, squeezing it tightly and admiring the little dress she wore. Emily held the book between her fingers gently, already afraid to rip the pages accidently.
Her eyes widened at the images of puppies and cars, horses and houses that she would get to give colour. Any colour she liked, too.
"Elizabeth is a pretty name." Katie murmured, stroking the doll's hair and grinning at it. "You say so, Ems?"
Emily looked up from the book, nodding her head as her thumbs continued to rub against the pages in her lap.
"Charlotte is pretty too." Emily blinked at Katie, her voice soft. Katie looked up at her sharply before she shook her head.
"She doesn't look like a 'Charlotte', she's Elizabeth." Katie was confident as she hugged the doll to her chest again, looking at Emily with a frown.
It was decided then, and Emily couldn't bring herself to care too much. That meant the book was hers, didn't it?
"Oh." She breathed as she turned the pages to an outline of a little girl standing in a meadow. She could hardly wait to colour this one, already deciding the girl would have brown hair and eyes, like her. Or maybe red hair would be better. Bright red.
"What are you looking at?" Katie continued to clutch the little doll tightly, but was peering at Emily curiously. "That book looks stupid."
"It's not!" Emily continued to turn the pages, taking in the images, deciding already what she would start colouring straight away and what she would save until later.
Katie stood up, mindful of not letting the doll touch the floor, stomping over to her sister and snatching the book from Emily. A corner of one page, where Emily had been holding tightly, ripped off in her hands.
"Katie you ruined it!" Emily stood up, feeling that hot flush of anger somewhere near her stomach. That had started to happen a lot around her sister, lately.
"It's not ruined." Katie mumbled as she carried both the book and doll to their bed, Emily following so closely that she was stepping on the backs of Katie's feet. Katie jabbed her elbow behind her, pushing Emily away as she carefully placed the doll on the bed with a fond look before laying the book down and flipping through the pages carelessly.
Emily still held the tiny square of torn paper in her hands, standing behind Katie uselessly and trying to look over her shoulder.
"Be careful!" Emily bit her lip, hoping against hope that Katie wouldn't decide the book was better after all and want to swap. Or, worse, that she would rip all the pages, especially the girl in the meadow.
"Don't be stupid." Katie jabbed her elbow back again, pushing Emily away from her.
Katie decided for both of them that they would share the book, and the doll, though the doll ended up most nights snuggled in Katie's arms as they slept, and Emily rarely wanted to play with it. With the book they decided to take half the pictures each, and take turns colouring.
Emily chose the girl in the meadow straight away as hers. Katie sniffed and said it looked stupid, and chose a horse, and they went through the book choosing what they did and did not want to colour.
Emily didn't mind so much, days later, as she coloured a train green and made the carriages a nice orange. They took turns and showed each other, afterwards, what they'd coloured in. Katie wanted to show their parents and make them choose a winner, but Emily had acquiesced that Katie's were better straight away. She didn't really think they were, of course, but the thought of losing to Katie over something she loved doing so much was a terrible one. She'd rather declare herself the loser instead of let anyone else decide Katie was better.
When the train had dried, later, she beamed at it because it looked much more wonderful than possibly anything else she had coloured in. She'd even managed to stay in the lines for the most part, and that was something Katie couldn't do yet. Would get too frustrated at keeping a steady hand and splash different colours everywhere instead, declaring it looked better that way anyway.
Katie had made the horse a lovely shade of yellow, splotches of brown over the top of it in a strange sort of spotty pattern. Emily turned the pages past it, taking note of what was still to be coloured, finding the pictures she'd put dibs on and deciding what order she'd paint them.
She frowned as she got to the end of the book without finding the picture of the girl in the meadow, because she was sure it was just after the horse but she hadn't seen it.
She turned the pages back slowly, getting to the horse again and something inside began to panic as she blinked at the book. It was her favourite picture, the one she was saving for last.
She found it a few moments later, having not recognised the purple sky and blue-eyed girl standing in an orange meadow. She wasn't going to do that, she was going to make the meadow a lovely green colour, and the girl's eyes were meant to be brown, not blue.
Katie had coloured her picture in, her favourite one, and she had tears in her eyes before she could even think about being upset. She was so angry she was tearing the picture out of the book before she could stop herself.
She stormed out of their house, spying Katie seated in the grass and chatting to Elizabeth as she brushed the doll's hair.
"Katie! Why did you colour my picture?" Her voice was loud, but shaky, and her cheeks felt so hot.
Katie blinked up at her in surprise, scrambling to her feet as she watched Emily hurtle toward her with the picture in her hands.
"I didn't!" Katie held Elizabeth behind her back protectively as Emily reached her and pushed her roughly.
"It was meant to be mine!" Emily sniffed, trembling so much Katie looked scared of her for the first time in their lives.
"I didn't! It wasn't me!" Katie yelled out, hoping their mum would come and tell Emily to not be so loud and angry.
Emily shoved Katie again, harder than before, as she sobbed.
"It was my picture and you ruined it, Katie! I hate you!" Emily had begun to hiccup in her distress.
"I didn't ruin it!" Katie stammered, walking backwards from Emily.
Emily shoved her once more, so hard that Katie fell and was unable to pull Elizabeth out from behind her in time. She landed on the doll, it's face cracking with an audible snap.
Emily felt her anger dissipate just slightly, and guilt hit her hard in the stomach as Katie got back to her feet and stared at the doll's broken face.
Katie turned back toward her sister, tears streaming down her cheeks, and wrenched the picture out of her hands. She began to storm back toward their house, crying out for their mother.
Emily blinked at the broken doll, it's eyes staring lifelessly toward the sky and it's dress coated in splashes of mud.
She wanted to feel better, but she couldn't. Now they were both miserable, their favourite things ruined, but it didn't help matters. Emily kept crying, standing there and staring at the doll, even after their dad came home and hugged her tightly and told her there were other pictures still to be coloured, as their mum attempted to fix the doll's face with candle wax.
Katie had thrown the doll away, anyway, after staring at it with a deep frown, her thumb tracing the waxed scar that ran down the middle of its face. She'd also nailed the coloured picture of the girl in the meadow to the wall above their bed, sulking and stating that it was in memory of Elizabeth before she got ugly, and Emily couldn't bring herself to tear it down and throw it into the stove fire like she wanted.
She just looked at it, sometimes, and tried to swallow the sick feeling of jealousy that said the picture was meant to be hers and Katie had stolen it; that imagined it coloured differently, or that she had gotten to the picture before Katie and none of this had happened.
They laughed about it when they were older, of course, and beyond dolls and pictures. But there was something left over, to Emily, about the whole experience that sat in the back of her head and sometimes whispered ugly thoughts into her ear. That Katie got things first, would always get to things first, and steal them from her.
The girl had been watching them for a while, standing outside the shop with her head tilted to the side and a strange sort of smile on her lips. Emily wasn't stupid, she knew she was different. Knew that when her sister lay next to her and talked about the boys in town, and marriage, that there was something altogether unattractive about the idea. Being married, and having children, all sounded good in theory. But the few boys who had given her shy looks at town dances, or who stopped by the shop to blush and stammer at her and Katie, seemed like idiots to her.
Katie would moon over it afterwards, constantly talking of a future in which they married rich brothers, or neighbouring princes, and ended up wealthy and in a position of power. Katie flirted shamelessly, always, as Emily hung back and wondered why she wasn't interested, or excited.
The girl standing outside the shop made her feel funny, deep in her stomach somewhere, and she had to drag her eyes away from her. Had to suck in a breath and sternly tell herself not to blush as the girl came in and bought cigarettes, her sister acting like an uncouth tit as per usual.
The girl had left, and Emily had watched her go, wondering why her heart hammered so strongly in her chest, or why her skin still tingled from where they had touched.
"Ems, can you take that back home? I still have to pick up these bloody potatoes." Katie huffed, gesturing at the empty basket near her feet and Emily felt inexplicably annoyed for some reason. What if the girl came back to buy something else?
"I'll sort the potatoes, yeah?" She said instead, raising her eyebrows at Katie as Katie shrugged and picked the basket up.
"I fucking hate potatoes." Katie balanced the basket against her hip as she pushed the store door open. "Back soon."
But Katie hadn't come back, even after the potatoes were off the floor and it neared closing time. Neither had the girl, and Emily had sighed as she left, looking around hopefully to catch a glimpse and wonder why she'd never seen her before.
Katie had disappeared completely, and it wasn't until a few days later, as their father led the townsmen in a search for his missing daughter, that Emily saw her again.
Their mother and brother were sleeping, and Emily felt the bed dip in her half sleep, too worried to drift off properly. She couldn't seem to stop the sinking feeling of dread that something bad had happened to Katie, and she might never see her again.
She blinked her eyes open, saw Katie seated across from her with a smile on her face and her eyes shining in the moonlight coming through the window. Emily couldn't stop herself, launched across the bed and threw herself into her sister's arms and hugged her tightly, before pulling back and slapping her, hard, across the face.
"Where have you been?" Emily asked hotly, torn between anger and relief.
Katie surprised her by chuckling and touching her cheek lightly.
"It's the most amazing thing, Ems." Katie replied softly, standing quickly and holding out a hand to her sister.
"Mum will be so relieved, we thought you were dead! Dad has half the town looking for you now." Emily gave in to the relief she felt, and sighed before smiling.
"I want to take you somewhere." Katie whispered, her hand still outstretched and Emily cocked an eyebrow at it.
"Let's wake Mum up first, get Dad back here so-" Emily felt her grin falter as Katie shook her head.
"Come with me first, Ems." Katie stared at her, and Emily wondered at the look on her sister's face. Wondered for a moment, too, whether this was some kind of dream. Katie's expression softened. "Please."
Emily could count on one hand the amount of times Katie had said that word to her without being forced in some way, and it was that which made her reach her own hand forward and take her twin's.
Katie frowned at her, before shaking her head again.
"I'm still not used to this." She murmured, and Emily didn't have time to ask her what she meant before Katie was tugging her out of their house and over the field behind it.
"Where are we going? I'm bloody freezing." Emily felt her teeth starting to chatter as Katie led her further into the darkness. It looked like they were heading to the woods but surely that couldn't be right. Why on earth would Katie be taking her there at this hour?
"Because it's safe." Katie muttered without turning around, and Emily felt herself frowning deeply and wondering if she'd spoken out loud without meaning to.
Emily's feet were aching and she was colder than she'd ever been in her life when they reached the lake. The moon hung above the lake, bright and full. Emily found herself admiring it, for a moment, even though she ached all over from the walking and the cold.
Katie let go of her hand, walking toward the lake's edge and standing there silently. Emily had the awful thought that this wasn't her sister, was a nightmare creature sent to lure her into something awful, and again wondered whether she were dreaming.
Katie turned to her, then, and smiled.
"Something has happened to me. Something wonderful." Katie's eyes closed as she said it, and Emily took an involuntary step backwards. Katie's eyes snapped open, and again her expression softened. "Don't be scared, Ems. It's a good thing."
But Emily felt a chill that had nothing to do with the cold. Whoever this was, this wasn't Katie.
"It is me, Ems." Katie took a step toward her, and Emily felt her breath catch.
"You keep, how do you know what I'm thinking?" Emily felt her heart starting to pound in her chest. "Why have you brought me here?"
"Let me show you, yeah?" Katie asked softly, and Emily nodded, wondering what she was agreeing to see. "You have to promise not to be frightened. I won't harm you." Katie raised her eyebrows.
Emily couldn't bring herself to respond, and after a moment Katie gave her such an impatient look that Emily nodded. That was familiar, at least.
The impatience turned to excitement, and Katie looked around her for a few moments before picking up a rock and holding it out to Emily.
"Hit me with this." Katie smiled, nodding excitedly.
Emily was sure she was looking at her sister like she was deranged, and after a moment Katie rolled her eyes.
"Fuck's sake." She murmured, before throwing the rock away and putting her hands on her hips.
"Katie, what are you-" Emily started to ask, backing away until she felt a tree behind her and leant on it for support. Katie was looking around on the ground, frowning and kicking at things, waving off Emily's question before she could finish it.
"I want to show you the best part first." She muttered, before her foot shot out violently and kicked a rock far away from them. She growled in frustration, and something in her mouth caught Emily's eye in the moonlight.
"Katie! What's in your mouth?" Emily called, her lip trembling as her fingertips scratched against the rough bark of the tree she was backed against.
Katie's head shot up as one hand flew to her mouth. Her eyes slipped shut in annoyance when her fingertips found her teeth.
"Fuck's sake. I wanted to show you the best bit first." Katie sulked, and Emily felt herself begin to scream.
Katie was on her in an instant with a hand over her mouth and a panic in her eyes.
"Ems what the fuck? Someone will hear you!" Katie muttered furiously, lisping heavier than usual around the fangs that pointed down from her canines.
"Get off me! Someone help me!" Emily screamed, twisting her face away from Katie's and feeling her heart pounding hard within her chest like a mortal countdown.
Katie's eyes narrowed and she forced Emily to look at her.
"Stop it, Ems. It's me, Katie. Stop fighting me." Katie's voice trembled slightly with something that sounded sadder than Emily had ever heard before. "We're going to live forever." Katie whispered, her fangs sat atop her bottom lip as she smiled beseechingly.
"You're not Katie!" Emily whispered back, her voice failing her as she felt the coolness from Katie's hand against her throat.
"But I am." Katie blinked before smiling almost ruefully. "I painted the girl in the meadow the wrong colours and you killed Elizabeth." Katie's head tilted to the side as she raised her eyebrow.
"What's happened to you?" Emily sniffled, hoping against all hope that this was some terrible dream and tomorrow she could wake up next to her warm sister and plan for the day ahead.
"I changed." Katie shrugged her shoulders lightly before smiling properly. "I want you to change too, Ems."
"It's brilliant, actually." Katie's grip loosened as Emily coughed. "You can't get hurt, and I can read people's thoughts, and it feels amazing."
Katie turned her face toward the moon and shut her eyes for a moment as Emily stared at her, shaking from fear and the coldness of the woods.
Emily couldn't believe this was her sister and at the same time couldn't believe anything else. She watched as Katie's eyes opened and gazed at the lake before coming back to rest on her. It was still Katie, but someone or something else was hidden in Katie's eyes, watching her.
"Can you change back?" Emily rasped out finally, feeling how weak her legs had become and unable to tear her eyes from Katie's mouth.
Katie shook her head, before reaching out and brushing Emily's fringe off her forehead. Her fingertips hesitated against the warmth of Emily's skin, as Emily sucked in a breath.
"I don't want to live forever without you." Katie looked at Emily sadly, and Emily thought of David Wells at Sunday school whose brother, Joshua, had drowned in the very lake her and Katie were now beside.
She remembered playing with them and learning scripture; remembered Katie saying they would marry the Wells brothers when they were older and have sets of twins; remembered that David had been the shy one and Joshua the loud, and David had just gotten quieter when Joshua had died.
At Joshua's funeral she remembered Katie squeezing her hand fiercely; overheard David's grandmother sadly intoning that he would never be the same, that losing a twin meant the rest of his life was now incomplete and how sad that was.
She wouldn't want to live forever without Katie, either.
Besides, this had to be a nightmare and she had to wake up soon.
Emily extended her hand with a shaky nod, and Katie stepped toward her. She'd felt her sister's teeth sinking into her neck with such tenderness that she barely felt a moment of pain.
Much later she would think of this choice, of this moment of going to Katie willingly. She would think of all the things she could be blamed for, and everything she couldn't blame away. Because, after all, she had said yes to this.
Her sister's blood had been cool and tasted of something she couldn't identify. She felt it twisting in her stomach and filling her in a way she had never experienced before.
She felt her sister cradling her head to her chest as her lungs gave out, afterwards, and the moon began to grow dark.
She saw the lake as her vision swam and a stillness descended on her limbs. They felt heavy, and empty. Her sister's tears were falling onto her face and sliding into her hair, and then her heart stopped completely.
Pandora had been the defining moment.
Effy's brother Tony had spoken to them about a new way of existing, of a different form of forever. He had a fierceness in his eyes as he gazed at each of them, and for the first time in a long time Emily had felt a sense of hope deep down in her stomach.
Katie had scoffed, of course. Had smirked at her later and told her it was all a crock of horse shit and there was nothing wrong with the way they were.
Emily had thought about the portrait of their family, and something Tony had said kept echoing in the back of her head.
"The fun doesn't last forever, but the guilt can."
She had understood that completely.
Every person who had died because of her, or who she'd fed off, had lingered in her mind long past the blood from their body had. Like something else was walking with her legs, and biting with her mouth, and it was something she couldn't control.
But being in College and surrounded by young blood was all well and good in theory. It was the practice that ached, sometimes, when she was feeling hungry or they were crowded into the classrooms and hallways, and that smell was all around her.
The drugs and the light feeding at the clubs was something to tide her over, but there were nights when it wasn't enough. When the blood was surging into her lips and a voice was whispering in her ear to keep it going until the heart stopped, to consume her victim completely.
She had held back by the night of Pandora's, though only barely, but already she could feel the insistence that sang in her veins to go back to how things were. To take Katie and Cook to a pub in the country and kill everyone inside.
Pandora had invited them to a birthday slumber party since Effy had thought it fun to adopt her as a new best friend.
"Breaking down the barriers." She'd smirked with a shrug when Chris had asked her why on Earth she was making friends.
There were balloons tied to Pandora's driveway, and she was hungry because they hadn't had time to stop and eat on the way. She would have to sneak off later, she'd thought as Katie had burst into laughter at the cardboard signs around Pandora's home.
"Look Mum! Twins!" Pandora had called out excitedly as Effy looked around with a curious expression on her face, and Emily felt a pang in her stomach and wondered whether it was from hunger or a sense of nostalgia at being in a family home.
Pandora's mother was wiping flour from her hands and gazing at them warily, until Katie stepped forward with her hand extended and made up some story about being choir friends with Pandora.
Effy went along with it, and so did she, because it was Katie's thing wasn't it?
Emily didn't mean to nod when Katie held up the bag of powdered MDMA later, but she had lost part of herself to her hunger by that point.
Emily didn't mean to laugh when Pandora's mum, Angela, started singing loudly and undressing herself. Didn't mean to lick her lips when Katie took Angela by the hand and led her upstairs, and Effy let the boys in.
She lost control completely, after that.
"Tastes a bit old." Katie giggled before she scrunched her face up and grinned. "Fuck, this shit is amazing. She's full of it."
The last thing she heard was Pandora talking excitedly downstairs before Cook had laughed, Pandora had gasped, and Katie had entwined their hands together as Angela's heart slowed beneath them.
"Never again." Emily declared and glared at her sister. Tony stood by the fireplace with his back turned, deep in thought.
"Fuck me for trying to have a good time!" Katie yelled, and stormed out of the room. She slammed her door moments later, and Emily grimaced.
"It feels awful to lose control, doesn't it?" Tony murmured, turning slowly to look at her.
"I can't do this any more." Emily replied, feeling blood well up in her eyes and thinking of Angela lying half dead on the floor. Thought of Pandora dazed and naked in the living room as the sun rose and they all struggled to get back to the house in time.
"Good." Tony said simply, before striding past her and into the hallway, glancing at her before he left. "So don't."
They had kept themselves separate from their peers after that. Had kept to themselves, and tried to remember what it was like to be a teenager and have a future ahead of them.
Emily had promised herself that no one else could get too close to them so that no one else would get hurt. It wasn't hard, not really.
Not until Naomi.
There was a tall blonde girl smoking and scowling at the college building from the front steps, and she caught Emily's attention.
The girl was pretty, sure, and had a decided arrogance set into the line of her shoulders. She had a hideous bag slung over one arm, and when she flicked her cigarette butt to ash it Emily noted how long and slender her fingers were.
"Fucking dibs, man!" Cook threw his arm around her shoulders and pointed at the girl. Even as he said it, the girl threw her cigarette butt onto the ground and sighed before trudging into the college like it was a death sentence.
"Who?" Katie reached an arm around her waist from the opposite side and raised an eyebrow at Cook as they walked toward the college building.
Cook leant across her so he could put his face close to Katie's.
"Tall, blonde, bitchy from the looks of it." He made a show of running his tongue over his bottom lip as Katie rolled her eyes. "And the best part is she's new, isn't she?" He pulled back with a laugh, and Emily shrugged his arm away from her.
"She won't go for you." Effy said softly, laughing when Cook's face fell. Effy was walking next to Katie, Freddie just behind them all.
Emily felt herself smirk as Cook declared loudly that no one could resist him, blowing kisses as they walked down the hallway toward their respective morning classes.
Effy caught her eye as she, Freddie and Katie walked to the other end of the hallway and Cook burst into their Philosophy class with a laugh and a yell.
Effy quirked an eyebrow, and Emily found herself returning it. Effy winked before turning back to Freddie and Katie, and Emily frowned as she found her seat next to Cook, wondering what Effy was up to.
She'd made a rule about people from college. Still felt an inkling of guilt sometimes when Pandora glanced at them warily, or Thomas glared. She sat down next to Cook and ignored Pandora's nervous glances behind her, or Cook's low rumbling voice detailing everything he wanted to do to the new, tall blonde.
"Good luck with that." She mumbled as the girl walked into the classroom midway through the lesson, and turned and looked at both of them.
Fuck, Emily thought. Fuck.
Of course the girl befriended Pandora straight away, and of course Cook wanted her too. Pandora led her, Naomi, around the school like a prized pony. It was a bit much, really, to be interested in someone for the first time in fuck knows when, and have them constantly next to the reminder as to why being interested was a bad idea.
"What's the big fucking deal?" Katie asked sulkily after they'd walked past the girl. "She's a right twat." Katie examined her nails for a moment, before glaring at a group of boys a little ways off suddenly.
"She's like a peach, yeah? So ripe I just want to sink my teeth into her." Cook howled and laughed, and Katie rolled her eyes.
"In case you haven't noticed, we're not allowed to do that anymore." Katie raised her eyebrows at Emily, and Emily wasn't sure whether she was being asked for back up or being told off too.
"She's beautiful." Emily murmured, and felt four pairs of eyes turn to look at her. Cook look delighted and winked at her challengingly; Freddie gazed at her thoughtfully; Effy smirked knowingly and Katie just looked plain startled.
"Here's your chance." Cook mumbled as Naomi was forced to sit next to her in Politics. It was like being hit in the face, hard, when Naomi's smell washed over her and it was all she could do to not pounce on her then and there.
"Emily." She introduced herself, felt Naomi hesitate for just a moment and wondered what Pandora had told her.
Cook jumped in, and she felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand up just slightly. This is what they did, what they used to do, before. Find a girl, and see who could get her first. Without, of course, using their abilities.
She didn't want to play this game, though, with Naomi. Felt something akin to panic at the thought.
"Fuck off Cook." She said it softly, with a smile, and he smiled back at her. Raised his eyebrows. Ignored the request behind the words, and winked at her again.
"You didn't have to do that." Naomi whispered, and Emily wondered if she was annoyed.
She left before Naomi could turn around and talk to her once the class was over. Left before she could do something stupid like start a conversation and get to know the girl.
She was silent as they drove back to the house, and found a tall leggy blonde at the club that night and sank her teeth in deeper than she normally would. This girl smelt wrong – too much perfume, not enough deodorant. Not enough to resemble Naomi, anyway.
It should have been her first warning, and would've if she'd known then to look for it. She'd never felt this before, though, and didn't wonder until much later that it only took knowing Naomi one day for everyone else to suddenly be wrong.
"You should give her the choice, Ems." Michelle was frowning and clicking through antique furniture websites on a laptop, as if home decorating was enough to fill the endless amounts of time they found themselves with.
"It's not about that." Emily muttered, putting the book she was reading down and listening as a car pulled into the driveway outside.
Michelle looked up at her, then, with an expression on her face Emily couldn't read.
"It's one or the other, and you know that." Michelle closed the laptop gently, smiling as Tony opened the front door and strolled in looking satisfied with himself. Sid and Chris followed him, both laughing and clutching each other, as Cassie walked straight over to Emily and knelt on the floor next to her chair.
Cassie put her head in Emily's lap, hugging one of her legs.
Sid and Chris ran upstairs, racing each other, and Tony kissed Michelle's forehead before gesturing that she should follow him as he too walked upstairs.
"Cass?" Emily asked, her fingers smoothing Cassie's hair as it fell in waves over her thigh.
"I just remembered." Cassie squeezed her leg again before lifting her head and peering intently into Emily's face.
"Right," Emily loved Cassie, very much, but hated this part. The foreshadowing, the obscurity, the endless fucking vagueness.
"You love Naomi now." Cassie gave her a small smile, though it was sad.
Emily frowned. "Cassie, just tell me whatever it is."
But Cassie shook her head, standing quickly.
"If you don't do it," she began, but another car pulled up outside with a screech and they could hear the laughter long before Cook and Katie fell through the front doors together.
"Should've seen his fucking face man!" Cook threw his head back, and Katie joined him as Effy strolled in behind them smirking.
Cassie blinked at Emily, before turning and gracefully lowering herself onto the lounge Michelle had been sitting on before, staring into the fireplace even though they hadn't bothered to light it.
"Shit Ems, it's happened again." Katie walked toward her, tripping slightly as she giggled, and Emily wondered how fucked up they all were.
"Emily!" Cook called out, almost falling over with laughter when Freddie finally walked through the front door with his eyes downcast and a sheepish smile on his face.
"What now?" Emily asked, standing from the chair and meeting her sister halfway.
"Freddie made a girl strip completely naked!" Katie snorted as Effy neared them, rolling her eyes.
"Offered herself to him on the spot." Effy quirked her eyebrow at them, moving toward Cassie and sitting behind her.
"Fuck me, Freds! I don't understand why you don't do that all the time, mate. Fucking magical!" Cook was shaking his head, before Chris appeared at the top of the stairs and gestured to him.
"Sid needs you, yeah?"
Cook shrugged and bounded up the stairs, and Emily could hear him still laughing and telling Chris about the girl.
Katie moved past Emily, throwing herself into the chair she'd just been occupying. When Emily turned she saw Cassie leaning back against Effy's chest, Effy hugging her from behind.
"You missed magic, Ems." Katie whispered, tilting her head back and staring upwards, and Emily thought back to a time when Katie was convinced her and Cook were nothing alike.
"The drugs were," Freddie started, shaking his head before laying an arm across Emily's shoulders and leaning on her. "Lost control a bit." He mumbled.
"Completely naked, like, gagging for you to marry her in the middle of the club." Katie laughed, once, her eyes following the intricate patterns carved into the ceiling. "True fucking love."
Emily blinked, wanting to find something resembling hilarity in the situation. But it wasn't that funny, not anymore.
She thought about Naomi, thought about Cassie. Watched her sister and Effy smile at each other, felt Freddie's arm around her and wondered at what point this had all started to feel wrong again.
"I'm going out." She muttered, shrugging away Freddie's arm and turning swiftly.
"Bit too fucked, yeah? But if you want company…" Katie called after her, but Emily ignored her, closing the door with a soft click that seemed to make her ears ring nonetheless.
She sat in the car outside of Naomi's house and stared at the second storey windows. There weren't any lights on, but it was a strange comfort to know that Naomi was sleeping inside. Just lying there, inert and dreaming.
Sleep was such a foreign concept to her now. She had watched Naomi sleep, before Thomas and JJ had thought to intervene, and marvelled at how she just lay there for so long lost in unconsciousness. There was nothing like that for her, or any of them, anymore. The closest they got to escapism, to breaking up the monotony, was the drugs.
Even that, though, didn't seem to compare.
Emily tapped her fingers against the steering wheel, a habit she couldn't seem to break, and wondered when Naomi would forgive her. If she would, really.
Some part of her, deep down, wanted to find Thomas and JJ and rip their throats out. Slam them into a wall until their heads were nothing but bloody, pulpy mush. Open Pandora's throat and drain her in front of Thomas, just so she could say to him, "How does it feel, then, having someone taken away?"
She swallowed the thoughts, put her forehead on the steering wheel and willed her hands to still, even as they were reaching to turn the ignition and put the car into gear. She wasn't that monster anymore. She was a person, or something like it at the very least.
Cassie. Cassie had remembered something.
She had asked her, once, what it was like knowing the future.
"I remember things before they happen." Cassie had blinked at her, before shrugging. "Sometimes I can't tell, though."
"Tell what?" Emily had leant forward, a question burning on her lips that she couldn't bring herself to ask.
"Whether I'm remembering forwards or backwards."
Emily lifted her head from the wheel, looking at Naomi's house one more time before starting the car.
She would go home and find Cassie and talk to her, and not let up until Cassie explained what it meant that Emily loved Naomi now, and why it made Cassie so sad. If there was any way, at all, that Cassie knew how to make Naomi forgive her…
Well, she thought, steering the car toward home, she wouldn't let Cassie out of her sight until she told her.
She waited in the car as Naomi jogged into the little service station, trying to avoid the falling rain drops, and glanced at the sky warily. She knew what Naomi would do. The question, really, was whether or not Naomi would tell her.
She drummed her fingers on the steering wheel and thought of Katie. Katie out there, somewhere, with Effy. Cook and Freddie would follow, surely, and for a moment she wondered whether they should've just waited and followed them. Cook was an expert at locating Effy, after all.
She felt the pull, though, and saw the urgency in Naomi's eyes. Naomi wouldn't wait. Naomi was anger and impulse right now, adjusting and changing to something she herself had long ago grown used to. But she remembered how it felt, that first taste and first experience of invincibility. It was irresistible. So she could understand.
Naomi got back into the car, her eyes bright and a small smile on her lips.
"Ready?" Naomi asked her, and she could almost feel how exhilarated Naomi felt after using her ability. Had felt the same thing, at first, before the guilt and emptiness had caught up and almost smothered her.
"How much was it?" She asked, steering the car back onto the endless country road. She was baiting Naomi and knew it, but fuck it, they needed to be completely honest with each other if this was ever going to work.
"Free of charge." Naomi responded softly.
She nodded. Naomi had told her the truth. Somehow, it didn't make her feel better.
She felt the faintest tug, then, from somewhere ahead of them. It was always low in her belly, like an invisible string she couldn't sever. They were headed in the right direction, she knew that much.
As Naomi shifted uncomfortably beside her, a small frown on her forehead, Emily knew she'd felt it. Knew she felt as impatient to get to Katie as she did. And they had to be honest with each other, completely. She knew that too.
But some things were better left until later, until Naomi had more time to adjust. Emily would be honest with her, of course, just selectively for the moment. How do you explain to someone that the person they hated the most was also the person they'd be drawn to for the rest of eternity?
She fiddled with the radio, trying to find something loud and relentless that would stop her from thinking so much. Would distract her and Naomi from all this, even if only momentarily.
When she found something they both knew, and Naomi smiled at her and took her hand, Emily knew she'd made the right decision. She would wait, prolong this almost-happiness, until the very last moment. Until there was nothing left but for everything to unravel.
She owed Naomi that much, after all.
She watched Naomi seducing a boy in a pub on the outskirts of Edinburgh, hated how she ran her fingers over his arm and leaned in close to talk to him. There was jealousy, she wouldn't deny it, but more than that there was a kind of awfulness that sat just behind her heart. It was hard to watch not because Naomi was with someone else, but because of what Naomi would be doing to him later.
There wasn't anyone in here she was interested in feeding off, and being older meant she could wait longer than Naomi could between meals.
"We could share?" Naomi had offered, last time, raising her eyebrows at a young man who couldn't keep his eyes off them. Naomi had almost killed him, later, and Emily was only glad for being there so she could gently pull Naomi off him and save his life.
Sharing didn't dispel the unpleasantness. Nothing would, short of turning back time enough to make sure Naomi never left her sight, and Katie had no window of opportunity to get to her.
She followed Naomi and the boy, intercepted when she had to.
Naomi kissed her, afterwards, forcing her against a hard brick wall and pressing closely to her. She wrapped her arms around Naomi's back, squeezing their bodies as close together as possible while still clothed and standing upright.
Naomi smiled, she felt it against her lips, before she pulled back.
"It's not like a single one of them could compare, so you know." Naomi whispered, brushing snowflakes from Emily's cheeks with her hands.
"I know." She replied softly, cocking her head to the side and wondering when Naomi would figure it out. If she ever would.
It had taken Emily long enough to, anyway.
They were being pulled west over the North Sea. It made Emily hesitate, just slightly. Where were Katie and Effy going?
"We'll have to ditch the car, pick up another in Bergen." Emily muttered as they sat in the car in the airport and watched planes flying overhead.
"You don't have to come with me, Ems." Naomi gazed at her, and Emily reached over after a moment and wiped a speck of blood from Naomi's cheek with her thumb.
"I know." She replied, because she did.
Naomi smiled at her gratefully, and Emily wanted to hug her tightly and make her promise something she knew was impossible.
She loved Naomi, so deeply it hurt now to look at her. But she wasn't just here to keep her company, and there was no way to say that without forcing Naomi away completely.
"So, abroad then?" Naomi kept smiling, and Emily did her best to return it.
"When we find Katie, it won't be, well, it might not be what you think." Emily reached over, grabbing Naomi's arm and squeezing slightly.
Naomi rolled her eyes, and Emily looked away at the behavioural reminder of who Naomi had been before all of this.
"She killed me, Emily."
She forced herself to look back at Naomi, to take her hand and squeeze, to stop herself replying with "Because I wasn't there." seeing as that would do nothing but make them both uncomfortable.
Naomi looked far too impressed with herself when she talked her way through security. Emily projected images into the heads of people around them until they seemed, to everyone else, to be ordinary holidaymakers heading to Norway, hand in hand.
For the briefest of moments, she allowed herself to imagine what it would've been like if that were true.