Chapter 25:

Claire's POV:

My 'welcome home' greeting from my friends isn't exactly what I expected…

When Myrnin and I make our way through the portal into the Glass House living room, we're faced with the three people who I used to be the closest to in this entire town. The three of them are talking frantically, something about which vampire they can beat up to find out where the hell something is—it takes me a second or two to process that they're probably talking about my body—but this ceases immediately as they simultaneously look up and see me and Myrnin standing before them.

A long moment of silence passes between us all, Eve in particular staring at me in wonder, until Shane finally cracks the silence. The distraught look on his face makes me certain that he's already figured out what I am; the cracked tone as he speaks confirms it. "No," he states, the one word betraying everything he feels. "You're supposed to be dead. You are dead. You…" he trails off, evidently unsure where to take his thoughts—or maybe he just has nothing left to say—but they're enough to send waves of agony through me. I never wanted Shane to suffer, ever, not even when he was being ridiculous; to see him like this pains me.

Part of me wants to take a step closer to the three of them, to see what little I can do to comfort them, but as though he knows what I'm thinking, Myrnin looks at me. As he does so, he shakes his head, a tiny movement that's barely noticeable, and I understand its meaning instantly. He doesn't want me to go and comfort Shane. Whether that's a selfish request, or whether it's a request that could save my life, I don't know; I just have to trust that he has my best interests at heart.

"I'm sorry I couldn't tell you before," I say quietly, looking at the floor rather than at the three people in front of me. "I was dying when Myrnin found me, it felt like I was dead, but I wasn't—obviously—and then…then…" I trail off, not sure what to say. I don't know how well they're coming to terms with what I am; I don't want to push things too far, just incase everything suddenly goes belly-up. With it being my friends on the other side to me, I don't want to do anything that could incite an argument—or a fight. To have to fight my friends at any level would probably tear me apart.

Shane turns away from me, and whilst I'm no longer in love with him, I still love him like I love Michael and Eve; his turning away rips through my heart, almost causing me to lose any semblance of control I have over myself. Something begins to rise within me, something which I'm scared of; it's something I've never experienced before, and I guess that it's to do with being a vampire. The vampire inside of me wants dominance, in order to protect me from the heartache—and for a moment, I'm considering giving it control.

One light touch from Myrnin, one short glance into his eyes, stops me, however. His touch reminds me that he's here with me, that I'm not alone; the doorway to his soul reminds me that he's experienced this before—that he experiences a much stronger version of this inner voice on a daily basis—and that he understands. He knows what I'm going through, and he's here to help. But more than that, he's here to stay.

If I needed another reason why to 'choose' Myrnin, this is it.

An awkward silence falls upon the room, with Eve and Michael continuing to stare at me, a confused expression on both of their faces. Shane's now facing the opposite direction, drinking coke, and humming some sort of tune that I've never heard before. I'm glad of it, though; it distracts me from the sound of two heartbeats in an otherwise near-silent room.

"So…there was no other choice?" Eve finally speaks, her eyes locking on mine as she does so. The usual confidence she arms herself with has gone, replaced by some sort of uncertainty. I can understand why; she's gone from being surrounded by three human best friends (though Michael, admittedly, was a ghost) to one vampire hunter and two vampires. She's the odd one out now—as Shane's never bothered about being the only one of his kind, I've always known that—and I suppose that that must be unnerving for her.

I nod slowly, taking a slow step forwards regardless of Myrnin's advice. As I do so, I feel Myrnin's position shifting slightly, ready to jump in front of me should I require protecting. I know I won't though; the only person who would hurt me is Shane, and Michael would stop him before that happened. I'm sure of this; whilst Michael is shocked at the sight of me like this, deep down—deep, deep down—he must be secretly glad: he's no longer going to be living forever on his own. Now, he's got me.

"I didn't want to leave—it's selfish, and it's an option closed to almost every person in this situation, but I didn't want to…to go without saying goodbye to you all," I whisper quietly, just loud enough so Eve can hear. "There are so many things I want to do, to see, to discover…and I had a choice: there was a second or two in which I could choose to hang on and see you all again, or die and go wherever it is you go when you die. I chose the first one because I love you all." Tears begin to form in my eyes as I speak and I half-wait for Eve to come up to me and give me a hug, telling me that everything is going to be alright.

She doesn't; whether it's because of what I am now, or another factor, I don't know, but I have to make do with the gentle touch of Myrnin's hand on my shoulder in solidarity. He understands. He always does.

The next five words I hear tear a hole in my heart even larger than the one caused by Shane turning away from me.

"You should have chosen death."

Unsurprisingly, it's Shane.

Myrnin's POV:

I never wanted her to come here, not yet, but who am I to deny the girl her right to make her own choices?

The moment that the fool says to her that she should have died, I break the silence I have kept throughout the past few minutes and snarl, a low, feral noise in my throat that so rarely comes out nowadays. Anger bursts through me, fanning out through my veins, every muscle bursting full of a renewed energy as they wait for my brain to give the permission to rip the boy's throat from his body. I could do it, even with his anti-vampire-death training; nothing he has ever faced is comparable to me in this instant. Bloodlust and rage from the fight are one thing; emotional rage from a vampire who has never been emotionally stable is quite another.

Claire's silence speaks volumes, but it isn't enough for me; I know that the only reason she is silent is because she is hurt, and she doesn't want to betray that hurt in front of the person who has caused it. So I step in.

"And who are you to make her decisions for her?" I spit at him, wanting more than anything to rip my hand from Claire's shoulder and use it to tear through Shane Collins' chest. I won't, if only to prevent blood getting on this coat. "You, someone who looks at her in disgust, do not have the right to tell her what she does with her life! Do you own her?"

"She's my girlfriend!" he snaps back, causing me to sigh. The rage fades slightly, into more manageable anger, and I take a step back from the humans and Michael.

Before I reply, Claire interjects, her voice filled with a cold venom I can only presume she's picked up from Amelie. "No," she says, "I am not your girlfriend. I don't think that someone would tell their girlfriend that they should have died."

Shane's expression changes slightly, to something that I cannot quite understand; there is regret but anger, sorrow but defiance in there, and all I can presume is that it's something to do with Claire's words.

"More than that," I state, slipping into the conversation before Shane has a chance to reply. "You don't make decisions about other people's lives to their faces. It is a common courtesy to keep such opinions to yourself, especially when it is the one you love."

Claire turns to face me, her movements faster than I was expecting, and she smiles. "Thank you but I'll take it from here," she whispers quietly, much faster than she was ever able to speak before.

Unsheathing her shoulder from my hand, Claire takes a step towards her three friends—or whatever they are now, it's hard to understand—an aura of strange calm around her; she's far calmer than I am, which surprises me, but as I watch her, I feel my own anger fading. It is her life, as I just said, and it is not my place to make her feel things she doesn't want to.

"You may disagree with what I am, Shane, but that doesn't mean that you have the right to tell me to die," she says quietly, a subtle authority behind her every word. "Nobody has that right over my life. I don't see you flinching away at Michael now; I remember you hated him at first, but now you're back to being 'bros' as though nothing ever happened. I guess it's just because I don't want to be with you anymore that you're attacking me in this way."

I smile ever so slightly as Claire speaks, unable to help myself; she's standing up for herself, just as she ought to, against someone who absolutely does not deserve to have her as a friend let alone anything else. She turns around to look at me for a brief moment, a look on her face suggesting that she needs to check that she's done the right thing, and an irrational burst of anger spreads through me. It is her life with which to make her own decisions; she doesn't have to rely on anyone's opinion but her own—I presume that the Collins boy has gotten her into that mindset. So I merely stare at her, waiting for her to continue, causing her to turn back to face her three friends.

They're all staring at her with a strange expression on their faces, the girl and the vampire as though they barely know her, the boy with that strange look on his face still. "I'm sure you're going to sort everything out when everyone just calms down," the girl says, standing up and taking a step closer to Claire—and me. A strange feeling spreads through the room, a static coolness, and she stops, unsure what to do. "Everyone just needs to have a drink and something to eat and just relax—everything'll be fine. I know it will." Tears begin to drip down the girl's face, and only after a long moment of silence does the vampire boy step closer to her and whisper comforting words in her ear. At least, I presume they're supposed to comfort her.

This leaves Shane and Claire staring at one another, the boy's face now strangely blank. "You've made your decision. You choose him." He sounds resigned as he speaks, with that usual undertone of fury he always has when he talks about me. I've learnt to deal with it.

"And you wonder why?" Claire half-explodes, anger radiating out from her. I immediately take a step closer and replace my hand on her shoulder; I cannot tell if she's able to control her temper, and I presume even she would be upset if she killed the boy. "All you have done since I walked in here is jeer and say horrible things. That's all you've done for a long time! I'm amazed you actually tried to save my life, given you don't seem to care about it one way or another—so long as you have me, that's fine. I can't…it isn't healthy to live like we do, Shane, and how we've lived for so long. I need to be me; I can't be that when I'm with you." Tears dribble down her cheeks and I can understand that the anger has passed quickly as it often does in the young, replaced instead by a sorrow I don't understand.

"But you can be with him?" Shane's voice is softer than I expected as he speaks now, his head inclining in my direction. Our eyes meet, and I see a core of utter hatred towards me within them. If Shane Collins hates anything, he hates me.

Claire shrugs, and too late, I get the feeling that perhaps I ought not to have remained for this conversation. It's…not for my ears. So I allow myself to fall into a sort-of daze, considering what sort of experiment we could complete this morning—we can do so many more things now that we don't have to worry about Claire's human body surviving it—and whether or not it's a good idea to complete something which requires a lot of concentration, or two smaller things which don't need us to focus on them quite so much, until Claire shakes my arm softly.

"Myrnin?" she says quietly, and I jump ever so slightly, barely able to shake myself from the careful consideration of all the components which make up deciding which avenue of alchemy I wish to ponder next. "We're going."

I don't turn to look at her friends as we walk through the portal; I have no interest in the three of them. Once the portal is closed, I turn to face Claire, intrigued as to what she said. "So, what is occurring between you and the Collins boy? And the black haired girl." I feign a lack of knowledge in her friend's name, pretending that I know less about her than I actually do.

Claire raises an eyebrow, walking past me to start picking up bottles from one of the tables closest to us. "What were you doing? You're a vampire, I'm pretty sure that your hearing is good enough to have heard the entire conversation."

I shrug. "It was not my conversation to listen to, therefore I decided to contemplate potential experiments for the rest of the day until you startled me," I tell her. "I forget when I tuned out, it wasn't a conversation that was for my ears."

She merely stares at me, an indescribable look on her face. "You mean to tell me that I took you there with me, and you weren't even paying attention?"

"…Yes?" I reply, unsure what could possibly be wrong with this. "I was giving you privacy, is that not the right answer?"

"I took you there," she says slowly, enunciating every syllable. "So that if I lost control, if Shane said something completely idiotic which made me go psycho, you would stop me! And you weren't even paying attention!"

It looks as though I may have gotten it wrong in this situation, but I don't want to let this show. "So the fact I gave you privacy in a very trying time for you counts for nothing whatsoever?" I ask, looking away as I pick up a bottle of some chemical left on the side. It's in the wrong place—I presume one of Amelie's servants was ordered in here to clean at some point in the last month and I never noticed—and I dislike not knowing where things are. "Did you move this? It's in the wrong place and I dislike disorder," I ask Claire, just for a reason to have the bottle in my hand.

"You dislike disorder?" she asks, incredulity in her tone, but she doesn't press it further. "And yes, Myrnin, I appreciate the fact that you thought to give me privacy as I told Shane what an ass he is, but…with what I am now, it probably wasn't the best idea." Claire moves, and faster than I remember her ever moving before, she's standing in front of me, removing the bottle from my hand. "I don't want another sodium explosion," she says in explanation, continuing to speak before I can interject with the fact that it's because of her that I dropped the sodium. "But thank you for doing that for me, Myrnin—not listening, I mean. It wasn't wise…but it was lovely."

I smile as I take hold of one of her hands, closing the gap between us. Before, this wouldn't have been a good idea, given how fragile she was; now she's still fragile, but the monster inside me doesn't want to hurt her. She's as safe as she can ever be around me, and I suppose this is all I can ask for.

"I do everything for you," I remind her, staring into her eyes. "Whatever you may think, anything that involves you has been considered carefully before I do it. I hope that you always remember this."

She smiles. "I will. I will never forget that," she promises, reaching up to close the gap between our faces.

Her lips press against mine, and if I ever had any doubt before, I am hers and she is mine—forever.

So that's it, the end of the story; it's now finito!

It'd always be appreciated if you review now you've finished, thanks for reading!