Act VI – Stumm

-v-

She wasn't asleep.

She heard voices, even though they seemed to come from far away and echoed in her head strangely. But it didn't hurt, so she supposed it was fine.

"Daemon, I can't!"

"Anathea. If anyone can, it's you. Do it. Please."

Teacher.

"Do you know how many we've lost?"

This voice was alien, as well as the one that answered. They came from some distance away.

"Nobody can tell. There were so many young ones and students – they knew exactly what they did when they attacked us today. Damn. And we didn't even expect them!"

"They will pay for that," a third voice growled. She didn't know this one, either. All voices were deep and full of thirst. Revenge, they seemed to scream. She could remember the emotion but it felt distant and unnecessary. Footsteps approached.

"How are the others?"

"Nadya and Jaq are hurt, but they'll be fine. Teacher, what about – oh my God! Rese!"

She was right here. What was the matter?

"Rese! Rese! Don't you dare die on me! Come on, open your eyes! Open your eyes, Teresa!"

She tried. It worked, somehow. Marina was staring down at her in tears.

"Oh God, Cass, what happened?"

Don't tell her. She doesn't need to worry, I'll be fine.

"She saved…" Cass's voice didn't sound like his own. A hand pushed a strand of hair out of her face. What the heck was going on? She was here, she was alright, and she just needed some sleep. She was incredibly tired.

"She saved me."

Another voice. Nicholas. Was that what she had done? Yes, maybe. But she hadn't only saved Nicholas. She had saved Cassidy.

"Teresa." Teacher's voice was soft. He touched her face. His hand was warm. "Hold on."

He wasn't asking her how she felt. He was telling her to hold on and that told her more than he could have told her in words. She must really have been wounded badly. Strangely, she felt no pain.

"Teacher." Speaking was hard. Her voice was barely a whisper. She coughed and something trickled down her lips. Blood, red and warm.

"I'm tired."

He just looked at her, pain clearly written in his eyes.

More footsteps, more voices.

"Rese! Oh God, Teresa, please, no…"

"Hold on, Rese, you'll be alright…"

"What happened? She will be alright, Teacher, won't she?"

It is okay, Mar, don't cry. You are strong, Ten, you can take care of them for me. Nadya, Terrance, Jay, Jaq…

Cass.

She was so tired. Trying to hold open her eyes, she searched for his face and found him right by her side.

"What happened?" She whispered.

His face was a mask of pain.

"That damn vampire got you." His voice was choked, laced with pain and hate at the same time. "He aimed for Nic and you…"

"I can't feel my arms."

Mar started sobbing so hard Rese immediately was sorry she had said anything. Though she wasn't sure why the fact that she couldn't feel her arms made her little sister cry so hard.

"It's okay Mar, don't…"

Her voice turned into a gargling sound. Someone gently lifted her head and she coughed more blood.

That's bad.

Suddenly, the knowledge was there.

I'm dying.

She looked down on her body and realized she hadn't wanted to look. She closed her eyes.

"Cass…"

"Yeah?"

"I want to go home."

"You will, Rese. I promise."

"Don't."

If she was dying, it didn't feel bad. She didn't hurt. The only things that pained her were the tear-streaked, bloody faces of her family. She blindly searched for something – she couldn't feel them, but they had to be somewhere – and found Mar's hand.

"Cass."

And Cass put his hand on top. And Nadya was there, and Ten and Jay, Jaq and Terrance and Teacher. Next to him was a white-haired woman whose stony face told Rese as much as Teacher's eyes.

I love you.

Had she said it, thought it? It didn't matter. They knew. (He knew?) Peace settled over her like a warm blanket. All-encompassing, caressing. Wordless. For the first time in her life, Rese allowed herself to let go of what she was.

Cassidy.

As the darkness spread and swallowed her up in a warm embrace, she knew she would never be alone again.