With the promise of Josh's love as well as Genevieve's wrath hanging over her head, Emma goes to her lair in Paris, intent on fulfilling her mission.
Falling to Pieces
Josh and I lay side by side in the shack's bed. It was very early morning, and Josh was dozing. We'd stayed up all night to enjoy each other's company; I hadn't been able to sleep and Josh was too worried to doze off. His comfortable heat and weight against me had calmed me somewhat, but my mind had still been running wild long into the night. I'd had a lot to think about; Josh, our marriage, breaking the news to his family, breaking the news to Aidan, Rebecca and Sally, my fight with Genevieve… I had a lot on my plate. Above it all, though, I had a strong unstoppable feeling inside me that I had to end this. If I let Genevieve continue, she'd kill innocent people, people who were my friends and family. I was nervous (I'd never killed anyone in my life), but I knew that this had to be done. Figuring that there was no good time like the present, I rolled over and pushed against Josh's chest, waking him up slowly. The sooner I went, the sooner I could get this over with. Considering my enemy never slept or rested, there wasn't an ideal time for me to launch my attack. "Josh, wake up. It's time," I whispered, Josh snapping awake as soon as I said his name. He looked down at me, eyes half sleepy and half anxious.
"Ok," he said after taking a deep breath. "Ok, right." He got up and quickly got dressed as I did the same. We were silent as we both got ready and then went outside. Sally was nowhere in sight, but Aidan and Rebecca were already waiting, having heard us get up.
"Sally went to go get Simon. We figured you'd want to do this quickly." Rebecca said, her voice slightly hoarse as Josh and I walked up to them. I gave her a weak smile in appreciation. I was very glad that I was going to leave without a large audience; saying goodbye to Rebecca, Aidan, Josh and Simon was going to be bad enough.
"You'll need this," Aidan said, extending a heavy wooden stake my way. It was very solid and looked to be very sharp. It was unlike any other stake I'd seen before, and I realized that Aidan wanted the job to be as easy as possible for me. I slowly took it, feeling the rough grain of the wood underneath my fingertips.
"Thank you," I said softly, unwilling to meet his eyes. I wished briefly that I could take him with me. Aidan always seemed so strong, so impenetrable, whereas I was just an average person. Sure, I could teleport myself and objects all across the globe, but I wasn't strong and I certainly wasn't a killer. Moments later, I brushed the idea off. Aidan may have been strong, but he wasn't nearly as fast as I was and when it came down to a fight with Genevieve, speed was better than strength. All I had to do was get close enough- and that was a huge problem for Aidan. Before anyone could say anything else, Simon and Sally suddenly appeared among the tents, walking over to us (or in Sally's case, floating). Sally looked completely at ease as they came to a stop, not at all terrified like I was. Her posture, her face, they all screamed cool assurance. With that in mind, I started to lock myself down. I could do this. I could do this. There was no other option.
"Are you ready to get this over with?" Sally asked, her voice suddenly giving away her true emotions. It was quiet, meek, almost nonexistent. I swallowed, giving her a sure nod. Simon stepped forward then, and gave me a quick but sure embrace.
"The pack will be here for you when you return." Simon said strongly, giving me a solemn but forceful look as he let me go. He didn't wish good luck upon me, which was something I appreciated. Even thinking about that phrase made me even more nervous.
"We've still got a lot of catching up to do, don't we?" I realized, and he gave me an amused nod. Within seconds, Rebecca swooped me up, holding on tight, ending my exchange with Simon.
"You gave me everything, Emma," she whispered, voice struggling to remain steady. "You gave me the power to live a life free of addiction and I can never, ever repay you for that, but I can try; so you better come back so that I can start, ok?" She rambled, and, to my surprise, I didn't even start to cry at her kind words. I loved Rebecca, she was like my sister, one of my truest, closest friends. I loved her enough to know that even if I didn't come back she would be fine.
"You can't get rid of me that easily," I told her, and she smiled a watery smile, releasing me. Aidan gave me a quick but very reassuring hug next , as if he was trying to pour his strength into me. Once he'd let me go, Josh hugged me close.
"Come back to me, alright?" He begged quietly in my ear.
"I wouldn't dream of doing anything else." I whispered into his neck, and his grip tightened. After a moment, I forced myself to pull away, offering him a smile that came out like a grimace. Before I could do something I'd later regret, I turned to Sally. "Ready?" I asked her, and she gave me a tight nod. My heart screamed at me to look at Josh just one more time, just to see his face, but my head took over the decision making and I jumped away. I tried to reason with myself that I already knew what he looked like, I had stroked his face millions of times, but I didn't care. I could never get tired of looking at his face. I'd never memorize what it looked like, and I never wanted to.
The absinthe gallery I'd seen so long ago reappeared around me and my thoughts on Josh vanished as I went on high alert, groping the stake in my jacket through the fabric. Sally was next to me, looking around, and neither of us made a sound as we listened…and waited. The gallery was empty of absinthe now, and was slightly eerie in the half-light system that was still in place. I waited for five agonizing minutes, trying to keep calm, and in those five minutes no one came. Option one was scratched off, and I knew that I now had gone down to my second option- going to the circular room where I'd first met Genevieve. I swallowed, not wanting to go, considering that she would most likely be there, but I had no choice. Glancing over at Sally, I could see similar anxiety on her face. Taking a deep breath, I gave her a nod and then jumped.
"Don't," Rebecca told me quietly, not looking up from where she was staring at the floor. I'd just been about to go outside to try to talk to Josh, to try to offer him any comfort I could- I had to. I could see and hear him pacing around the two shacks we'd slept in, desperately trying to not go insane. "It won't help him, Aidan. I know that you're his best friend, but you can't help. None of us can. He's got more at stake than he can handle."
"What do you mean?" I asked her, confused. It was obvious that he had more at stake than Rebecca or I (we weren't Emma's lover), but the way she had said 'he's got more at stake' sounded…off. Rebecca closed her eyes, her fangs starting to poke at her bottom lip as she tried to stay calm.
"I heard them. Yesterday. I didn't mean to listen in, but I heard what they were talking about when they went to the edge of camp to talk." Rebecca spit out, tears appearing at the corners of her eyes, the strain of the information she held starting to crack her perfect façade. I didn't say anything, trying to think clearly through the dread in my stomach that had settled there since Emma went off to Paris. "They're engaged, Aidan." Rebecca whispered, fangs present now.
I stayed perfectly still, even more worry than I thought possible crashing onto my head. They were engaged. While it was wonderful, and I was extremely happy for the both of them, the horrible, negative cloud in the back of my mind whispered that Emma wouldn't come back and that Josh would be alone. After what happened with Julia all those years ago and after what could happen to him now, Josh would never date again. He'd never open up again. If Emma died, it would kill him. It nearly did when she disappeared, and the last thing I wanted to see was what would happen to Josh if she was actually dead and gone, with no chance of ever returning. The idea of that happening was suddenly all the more terrifying.
"I'm sorry, Aidan. I shouldn't have told you- it's just," Rebecca struggled to find the words, looking guilty and hurt all at the same time as she took in the look on my face.
"No, don't apologize. I'm glad you told me," I responded instantly, closing my eyes to try to not panic. My mind fruitlessly tired yet again to find a solution to the problem that was Genevieve that didn't involve Emma, but nothing turned up. This was it- the end of the line. This was what had to be done- but why did it have to hurt so much?
I walked silently over to Rebecca, sat down on the bed with her, and simply hugged her close, selfishly glad that she was safe in my arms and not out trying to kill a murderous vampire.
I landed in the perfectly circular room that I remembered, the small table for 'meals' included, but something was wrong. Horribly wrong. Objects weren't just objects anymore. They had dimensions I'd never seen, matter that shouldn't exist. I could see colors that were darker than black and lighter than white. I could hear the colors, taste them. I could see heat and cold, see vibrations in the air. There were even things that I could see and hear and taste and feel that I couldn't describe. I briefly, idly wondered if I'd been drugged, if this was what the world looked like to those on illicit drugs, when I heard laughter. It was evil laughter; laughter that I could feel in my bones and see in the air. It was coming from what had to be Genevieve.
She was standing by the door, a malicious look on her face as she glared at me with triumph and hate. She smirked at my confusion, and the dimensions that look created almost made me sick. The world was moving and yet still, spinning and falling and holding motionless all at once. I stumbled a bit, trying to regain my balance, and she laughed harder. Sally was saying something, she was speaking, but I only saw it in a blossom of color. Focus! I screamed at myself, trying to ignore how I felt like my body was being tugged at from all directions. I practiced deep breathing, like I did to avoid an accidental jump, and sound filtered back in, the dimensions started to come together a bit more. "Emma, what's wrong?!" Sally asked, sounding like she was on the edge of panic.
I went to reply but found that my ability to speak had suddenly vanished. I raised a hand to gesture, but got transfixed by the movement, turning my arm from side to side. The dimensions, color, whirled around my skin, releasing into the air in fantastic patterns. My arm prickled and jerked at the socket, making me grimace, wiggling my fingers and watching in a type of confused horror as blended through spectrums of light. Genevieve stopped laughing, and I could feel her hate-filled glare on my face. "What is it about you that makes you so impossible to control, to kill?" Genevieve ground out, staring at me with grudging admiration mixed with the hate. Kill? My mind repeated unhelpfully. It managed to realize that Genevieve was threatening me, and I absentmindedly reached for my stake. I had a mission, after all- I was here to kill her. Once she was dead I could get the hell out of there.
To my horror, my hand passed right through my jacket. I couldn't feel those fingers anymore, I couldn't feel the texture of the jacket, nothing. The gasp that came out of me was horrified, but Genevieve started laughing again, apparently pleased with my predicament. What had she done to make me so out of control? "Are you having problems, Emma?" Genevieve asked mockingly, treating me to a venomous smile as I tried again, just managing to pinch the edge of my jacket.
"Shut up," Sally snarled at her, blocking the space between me and the murderous vampire, as if that would help. I appreciated the effort, but the tingling in my body was getting stronger, the tugging more insistent. Gritting my teeth, I reached into my jacket and focused all of my strength on gripping the stake in my fist. I raised that arm, fully prepared now to kill her, when with a sick snapping noise, my arm jumped off of my body.
The pain that roared through my nerves was incredible, and I shrieked out loud, trying to grip at the spot where my arm used to be. My fingers wavered through that space and disappeared. My arm on the other side of the room was frozen in its raised position. No blood leaked from my amputated limb, but the pain, the pain was right up there with neodymium magnets. I knew that Sally was trying to say something again, but all I saw was the blossoms of color, even from Genevieve. Her face was a mix of shock and excitement- she was enjoying this.
The longer my arm was off my body, the more the pain increased, until my legs were shaking to hold me up. An image of Josh flashed through my mind, and I felt my determination build. I had promised him, and he had made a promise to me. We had a long life ahead of us- I had to end this now! With that thought in mind, I urged my detached arm to jump again, on its own, and into Genevieve. It was morbid to think about, but there was no way I could make it over there to fetch the stake, and in this state Genevieve could kill me herself at any second. Sally wouldn't be fast enough to kill her- it had to be me. Shakily trying to breathe, I pushed energy at my arm. To my delight, it jumped across the room and just like that, the stake slid into Genevieve's heart.
With a ghastly scream, she disintegrated into ash. Mission complete, I let my arm hang eerily in the air; I let my knees fold as more pain crashed over me until I was gasping, near writhing. With another snap noise, my thigh disappeared. I screamed in pain again, curling in on my twitching and prickling body. I could still sense Sally, but there was no way I could talk to her now. All I could do was try to hold myself together.
When I felt Sally vanish, I knew that she'd gone back to Bordeaux. Hoping that she would get everyone to Paris in time to help me, I gritted my teeth and tried to hang on.