Chapter 2! I hope you enjoy, because I am shattered, and I can't stop thinking that my exam results come tomorrow – and that I have to open them on television – and yeah. So if you enjoy, please review!
This chapter is dedicated to Morganville-vamp-chick, because she's been with me from the verrrryyy start, and I have to thank her a lot. Her faith in me is unbelievable, and I think that's worth a lot more than a chapter dedication.
Sssnakepit ~ Enter Shikari
Myrnin, my vampire boss, was a sight to see. Running through a street-long puddle, his long legs strode him towards me at a closer-to-human-than-vampire-like speed. He was wearing his bunny slippers, and I cringed as they were slathered in mud and dirt; an open pink flannel shirt on top of a Hawaiian one was paired with baggy cargo trousers.
Sometimes I wondered if he owned a mirror.
"Claire!" He cried again when he reached me. He was panting, something which was odd – extremely so, because, hello, vampire – and bent down to rest his hands on his knees. I watched him carefully, and let him breathe it out.
"I-" breath, "-found-" breath, "-you."
I frowned at him. "Myrnin, is everything okay?"
He stood up straight then, and his breathing was back to normal. "Yes, of course, why wouldn't it be?" He dusted his hands off and took me by the elbow. "Now now, we must hurry; we don't want to be late."
I let him lead me towards the Town Hall, hitching my back-pack higher up on my shoulder. "Late? Aren't you supposed to be there already?"
He let out a short laugh, but it wasn't amused. It was irritated. "Of course I am! But I would think that, in light of recent events, I would be allowed some leniency in following orders."
I thought about that, and I wasn't so sure he was right. We'd all been through crap these last few months: some of us more than others. We had all fought for our lives, and at times when we thought we were at the end, it was unclear who our enemies and who our allies were. Myrnin was, at one point, one of those hazed spots. He was helping us, yet he had created Dean.
Under Amelie's orders.
It's hard to really...understand that. Amelie ruled Morganville, so there was no doubt that she wanted to preserve it. But she had created two sides: Dean and Shane. One to fight something and the other to fight the first, as an insurance plan. This fact wasn't made known to us until it was too late. She'd brought Shane back from the dead, only to let him fight for his life against a monster she helped create.
But...why? Why create Dean in the first place? What could possibly, possibly make her want to manifest something that would come close to causing her demise? To causing the destruction of the town?
To killing us all?
I sighed, and looked back at Myrnin. He was still striding us across town, and for all intents and purposes, he looked like he didn't have a care in the world. I wish I could feel like that. Because, for all intents and purposes, I felt like I had the world on my shoulders.
He stopped suddenly, and gasped. "Oh, no!" He looked outraged, and embarrassed all at once.
I stopped too, but he didn't let go of my arm. I looked around quickly, not trusting my surroundings at all. Anyone could pop out of that abandoned teddy bear, and anyone could raise their head from that puddle. "What?" I asked.
"Good grief!" He exclaimed, and this time, he started shaking his feet. "My slippers! Oh, well this is certainly embarrassing."
I glanced down at his once white slippers, now coated in a thick layer of sludge and dirt. And...God, that thing was moving!
He started dancing about, kicking his feet as if that could possibly help. I laughed despite myself, and shoved him lightly on the arm. "It's dirt, Myrnin. It'll wash off."
He stopped then, and looked up at me. "It will?"
"Of course it will," I laughed, before grabbing hold of his arm and walking towards the Town Hall again.
"Hmm. Would you take care of it for me?"
I glanced down at his slippers and screwed my nose up. The thing that was moving was nowhere to be seen. "Um..." No? "Okay, sure."
"Fantastic," he said, and stopped again. This time, however, he reached down and began to take his slippers off, hopping on one foot for balance.
What? "Uh, Myrnin, maybe-"
He thrust the slippers in my face, not listening to me at all. "Thank you, Claire."
I cringed away from them, but when this only caused him to push them towards me further, I gave in. "That's okay, Myrnin," I said, taking them between my thumb and forefinger and keeping them as far away from my body as possible.
He started towards Town Hall once again, his bare feet now splashing in the puddles as he went, coming up worse than the slippers.
I hurried after him, making sure my Converse avoided said puddles, because I didn't want them to end up like his slippers. "How come you're late?" I asked when we reached the steps of the building.
Town Hall was still in complete disarray. Work had begun to rebuild it, after a final showdown with Dean there, but it still wasn't the same. Bullet shells were still on the steps; there were splatterings of blood – infested, vampire or human, I had no idea – on the columns and walls, and the storm that had hit that night never really passed. It was drizzling now, and the cold rain was a bitter reminder of the cuts and bruises that still adorned my body.
It was over. I had to keep reminding myself of that fact, that the battle was over and that I could rest, recuperate, and do absolutely nothing if I wanted to.
But I couldn't. I so, so couldn't, and this "meeting" was evidence of this.
"Well," he said, before exhaling and then taking in a deep breath. "Sometimes, little Claire, we can't let the leaders of the battle become the leaders of our lives."
And with that, he walked into the building, leaving me completely confused, standing in front of a half-demolished building, close to sopping wet.
"Myrnin, wait up!"
Damn, he was on a mission today. We were crawling our way through rubble and debris, watching out for any knives or rocks or...broken fangs lying discarded on the floor. I was still making my way under a beam lying diagonally from wall to wall, having abandoned my back-pack and Myrnin's slippers way back in favour of not dragging his disgusting feet friends behind me.
He didn't listen to me though, but I knew he was close, because I could hear him humming a tune to himself. Ah, innocence really was bliss. I had no idea what made Myrnin innocent, but there you have it.
When we finally finished crawling through the rubble, we stood up and dusted ourselves off. In front of us was a large set of wooden doors, scratches and dust marks strewn about it. Myrnin had his back to the door, surveying the room. I didn't know whether he was genuinely taking interest in it, or if he was just politely trying to refuse to open the door.
Shaking my head, I turned around and raised my hand to knock on the door. Just before it reached the wood however, it opened with a creek.
Amelie was a sight to see. She clearly still hadn't recovered from the whole situation. No longer was she adorned in a proud, elegant suit: her pale, gentle skin looked rough and hardened, and she was dressed in a t-shirt and jeans. Her hair was still down long, but it lacked the shine it usually did. She had no obvious reminders of the night, because clearly, as a vampire, she healed quicker. But still, her eyes were colder than usual, and she looked broken in a way that probably couldn't be fixed.
"Claire." She moved aside, swinging the door open with her.
I walked in slowly, checking behind me to make sure that Myrnin followed. You never knew with him.
As I took in the room, I found an ounce of bitterness edging its way into my heart. This room was spotless. The large council table had been replaced, as if there had been a new one on hand in case of destructive emergencies. No scratches, no dents, no sign of any fight whatsoever. The floor was clearly power washed, and then vacuumed, and then polished to perfection. Curtains were brand new; chair upholstery was re-established.
Out of an entire town, Amelie chose a meeting room to refurbish first. There were houses, warehouses, shops, even a hospital, that needed to be rebuilt after what the town just went through. And still, a week on, nothing but minimum amounts of rubble had been cleared from there, while this room, the room where all this chaos probably started in the first place, was pristine and ready for Amelie to shove that stick back up her ass so she could boss us around more?
No. No freaking way.
I heard shoes walking against the linoleum floor, and Amelie appeared in front of me. She placed a bit of paper down on the table, but I refused to look at it, keeping my gaze steady on her. "You're late," she said. Her voice was cool, practical.
I wanted to say a lot of things to her, but I held my tongue, and instead of lashing out, only said, "Sorry."
She looked at me, and I looked right back at her.
"Ah, yes, my fault, my fault. We were experimenting. Well, ladies, I believe we're here for a reason, so perhaps we should get down to it," Myrnin's strained voice broke the tension in the room. I didn't look at him, and didn't acknowledge his lie. Neither Amelie nor I moved, however, except for the former inclining her head in Myrnin's direction.
I moved my eyes to the piece of paper that she had placed on the table, but it was turned upside down. A single sheet of paper, not double-sided.
It remained silent for a few seconds more, before I heard the scraping of a chair. I glanced up, and found that Amelie had settled herself at the head of the table, a bodyguard flanking each side of her. One of them was Remy, the Cajun bodyguard who had been with us during the final battle last week. He nodded to me when I recognised him, and when I nodded back, he smirked and winked.
"Now, down to business," Myrnin said, pacing around the room with his hands behind his back. He gazed around the newly constructed room, his mouth set apart in awe.
"Indeed," Amelie said, folding her pale hands on the table in front of her. "After recent events –"
"Goodness, what marble!" Myrnin exclaimed, eyes fixated on the ceiling. "And this woodwork, my, well-"
He ignored her, still exploring the room. "I could picture myself in here quite often. In fact, this could be etched into a semiconductor so powerful it could be classified as semi no more!"
"Hey, man, jus' sit down and shut up before the pretty lady busts a cap," Remy said, amusement laced into his voice. His face was serious, but his tone said differently.
Myrnin looked first at him, then Amelie, and then me. He nodded to me before sitting down, as if he needed to apologise for something.
Had he been stalling?
"What's going on? Why am I here?" I asked, taking a wary step towards the table.
"You are here," Amelie started, her voice as cool as ever, "because you can't be trusted."
Silence. Complete and utter silence. Something within me raised, something hot.
"Excuse me?" I asked, raising my eyebrows.
"You cannot be trusted," she repeated, raising a single eyebrow. "Was my phrasing confusing?"
"I can't be trusted? Why?"
Amelie sighed. It was a world-weary sigh, as if this coming explanation was something that had been spoken many times. As if I was a child that wouldn't stop asking questions, and now she was ready to scream her head off at me.
"You know things," she said.
I took a further step towards the table. The bodyguard on her left side straightened, as if he perceived me as a threat. Remy, however, stayed still. At least someone was on my side.
"I know a lot of things," I said. "I've never been distrustful because of it."
"You have witnessed things, Claire. You've been an insider to this group for some time, and I am beginning to think that the leniency we've granted you has been misplaced."
"What? How on earth could it have been misplaced?" I felt anger rising within me now. This was ridiculous.
And Myrnin. He was just sitting there. When I looked at him, he looked guilty one moment, and the next, he looked away.
Amelie shot out of her chair, the legs scraping back against the tiled floor. Remy startled, and the other bodyguard – God, he really did take his job seriously – was suddenly a blur; in the next moment, he was right beside me, towering over me. "Because, you stupid girl, people know!" She clenched her fists, and I felt a sliver of fear edge in between the rage flowing through me.
"There has been word spreading. Whispers, in back alleys and dark sheds, about a boy that was brought back to life and caused hell on earth for the people in charge of this town."
"So you think," I started, trying very hard to control my temper. I hadn't felt anger like this in a long time, "that I've been spreading shit to everyone in town about a psychopath that tried to kill me?"
Amelie stared at me for a second before she nodded to the bodyguard beside me. He took a step back, and I left myself relax slightly.
"Claire," Amelie said, "You have to understand that this cannot get out to the rest of Morganville. Do you-"
"I didn't do it!"
She carried on, regardless, "-understand what would happen if this information was made public? I would be thrown out of rule, vampires would face another struggle with the humans. You would be put into the line of fire. Is that what you want?"
"Of course not-" I started, but she interrupted me again.
"Then I insist that you do not discuss what occurred last week with anyone. It is not safe in Morganville anymore."
This brought back questions. First of all, why was I the only person being questioned about this? What about Oliver, Myrnin, Michael?
"Ah, yes, well, that'll be all now, I think," Myrnin jumped up from his seat, pacing around again.
"There is something coming to Morganville. Something powerful and unstoppable. Dean was supposed to combat this. Shane was supposed to combat this-"
"My, my, I really need to see the blueprints to this room!"
"But now, because of Myrnin's clear lack of control over his subjects, we are left defenceless. If the citizens of Morganville were to find out about Dean and Shane now, there would be uproar. Complete and utter-"
"Good grief! My feet! Look at how dirty they are!"
"Myrnin!" Amelie snapped. He shut up immediately, bowing his head after a second.
"Complete and utter chaos would break – homes would be destroyed, people will die. Now is not the time for alliances to be tested, and now is not the time for mutiny."
"If now isn't the time for alliances to be tested, why is ours? I've given this town my life, and this is how I'm repaid?"
She didn't have an answer to this, and I scoffed. I'd had enough of this. I turned my back on Amelie, but after a second, I stopped and turned back.
"What is it that's got you so scared, Amelie? After these past few months, what could possibly have gotten you in this state?"
She locked eyes with me, and what I saw shocked me. Fear. Complete and unadulterated fear.
She was terrified.
"The Fury's," she whispered, so quietly it was like a caress. A caress of ice, shocking me to the bone.
"Yes, well, that's quite enough now, Amelie, we can't scare the girl too much! We must be off now, Claire," Myrnin started, walking towards the door and dragging me with him.
I shook him off, and surprisingly, he let me. I walked back towards Amelie. "The Fury's? Like the myth?"
She didn't give any acknowledgement that she'd heard me: she just continued to stare at me. And then I realised that she really, truly was petrified.
"I want you to leave town," she said.
I stopped moving. I stopped blinking. I'm pretty sure I even stopped breathing, because there is no way I heard what I just thought I heard.
She nodded once and walked back to the piece of paper. She handed it to Remy, who looked at her. He shook his head; she nodded hers. He took a deep breath and walked towards me.
"Take this, and leave town. Take Eve with you, but leave the boys. We will need them."
I just stood still. I hardly noticed when Remy reached me, I was so numb. Leave the boys.
So it was still happening. The battle was over, but the war had just begun.
"Why do I need to leave?" I asked. If it was for something as petty as trying to stop a mutiny, I wouldn't leave. Not when people who knew more than me, and were more likely to tell more, were allowed to stay in town.
Amelie couldn't talk, or wouldn't talk. She wouldn't give me a reason for demanding that I leave town, something that made the anger within me rise again. She couldn't just order that I leave town and not give me an explanation for it.
"Why do I need to leave?" I repeated, my voice significantly harsher this time.
"To find help, cheri," Remy answered for her, and when I glanced at him, his eyes were downcast. He didn't appreciate this either, I could tell. "We need help if we want any luck of defeatin' this."
"But...you made Dean. You made Shane. You saw what happened when they clashed. Why can't you just continue with what you were doing?"
God, are you listening to yourself?! I was actually condoning what they were doing. Tampering with people's lives and emotions, as if they were toys to be thrown away. They had broken me, and Dean was still out there somewhere; Shane was falling apart, and something stronger than both of them combined was coming, apparently in force, and I was just willing to give them thumbs up and a grin to signal my blessing?
What had happened to me?
"Because we can't. It's too dangerous, and I don't have the resources to continue my research," Myrnin said, his back to me. 'Resources', of course, being dead bodies.
"But...can't I help here? I helped with-"
"Claire." Amelie's voice was strong, satirical. She was back, no longer scared and broken. "Leave. Now."
Remy took my elbow in his hand, gently. I looked at him, and he wouldn't look at me. I looked at Myrnin, and he wouldn't look at me.
I looked at Amelie, and she snapped.
"You cannot be trusted with the task of holding this town together. You will either leave by tomorrow morning, or you will be executed publicly for treason. Shane will be exposed and exiled. Michael will be deemed a traitor, and Eve will be considered a fugitive."
"What? You can't do that! I haven't done anything wrong! They haven't done anything wrong!" I was fuming, and scared, to say the least. She couldn't do this. "The humans will never fall for this! You're already on a fine line with them - how can you be willing to damage that relationship even more?" I shouted at her. I screamed, but it was clear she wasn't listening. She'd heard all she wanted to hear, and it was nothing I had to say.
I couldn't lose Shane, not again. And if I left and found from some messenger that he had died without me there, fighting next to him, I don't know what I would do. But if I didn't leave, he would be gone anyway. And I would never forgive myself for that.
Eve didn't deserve this, and neither did Michael. Hell, I didn't deserve this. But if it meant survival, I would go. If it meant an easier life, I would go.
Even if it was a life without Shane.
No. No, you can't leave him.
I stopped that train of thought before it got too deep.
"Fine," I whispered, defeated. My shoulders sagged, and Remy squeezed my elbow gently in comfort. "I'll go."
Amelie took a deep breath, and when I glanced at Myrnin, his head was bowed and his shoulders were drooping. Amelie gave me a nod, and then nodded to Remy.
We turned around, and with a surge of bitterness, I hated the way it had ended like this. I had given my everything for this town. I would give my life for it, almost had, many times. I had love here, I had life. But as Remy lead me to the door – noticeably back through the rubble we came through, not through the clean side door of the meeting room – I found that it had all been worth nothing.
Because in the end, Amelie took people's freedom. She took their soul, and their life. Humans were forced into worship here, and vampires were forced into law and indoctrination. Every essence that ever existed in this town was controlled by her, not brave enough to exit their house for fear of being eaten because she was lenient on vampire laws but not humans. Freedom was scarce, and our lives were whittled down into mundane existences.
Amelie stole lives. She used them. She stole Michael's, even if he begged her to. She stole Shane's, for an experiment that was now breaking him apart. For an experiment that almost broke us apart.
And now, she was stealing mine.
Chapter 2 done! Yeah, so I just had a huge brainstorm for this bad boy, and I hope you'll like it. You'll either hate me for it, or love me for it...
And you probably won't love me for it :S
But yes, thanks for reading! And thank you, especially to Morganville-vamp-chick, for your time to alert/review/favourite.
I'm sorry for the slightly late update, but my Internet went haywire and quite frankly, was pissing me off, so I stayed away from it for a while, but it's back now, and good to go. And for anyone in Scotland, exam results tomorrow! Oh, shit, haha :S
Please review! If you enjoy reading, please tell me what you think! You don't have to, of course, but I'll give you a virtual Oreo or bagel or something if you do! It will also probably speed up my updates ;) (Bribery ftw, huh?)