Title: Adjudication
Rating: PG
Characters are not mine. I am just borrowing.
A/N: A sequel to Isolated Pawn.

Alphard sat in a dark hotel room, and stared out at the neon lit streets below her. Her eyes searched vaguely in the darkness, until she suddenly found herself starting to focus on a billboard for some pop singer and the words describing the young woman's latest hit. All pop music seemed to concentrate on some sort of romance. It was slightly disgusting, because Alphard knew the truth. There was no love, and if there ever was it had long since turned into something else.

She had asked Cummings to show her what his love looked like, what Liang Qi's love looked like. Setting him up to fail, because she already knew that what those two felt was not love. It was obsession. Words always changed their meanings in people's minds. It was the sweet lie that kept people going. It was the sweet lie she never gave into. She never gave Liang Qi hope, and perhaps that was where she went wrong. People needed their lies, and even she...Yes, she needed her lies as well.

The barriers were broken though. She had been seen through. Her curse had been noticed, and even seeing that she was dead, inside and out, Canaan still wanted to save her. But there was another lie. The dead could not be brought back to life. The dead could only seek the inevitable.

She shut her eyes and went to rub the ghost of her left arm, the vacant place that had burned with the poison of the snake, the fire of where she had shot it off to escape, to be free. Perhaps, she would repair it. Her organization had access to a wide variety of technologies. There was probably something she could do, but that would also be a lie, an illusion. She would keep her scars. She always did. She would learn how to fight just as well with only one arm.

Her thoughts drifted and Alphard suddenly began to wonder if Canaan imagined herself in love with that girl. Though, there, in that imagining, she could see a spark of truth. There, she could envision that the word might actually be true for them. She frowned, and stood up. Moving towards the window, and resting her forehead against the glass as she looked down at the stream of traffic below.

She had felt the lie once, and then it was taken away from her. There could never be anything else to replace it. The mystery was gone, and love was a myth. There would be attraction. There would be sex. There might even be some feeling of companionship, but it would never be love. She would always know in her heart that that was impossible.

Alphard moved from the window and grabbed her coat. As she reached the door her phone rang.

"Hello." She grinned. "You've nothing better to do, do you," she asked curtly.

"No," the woman on the other end replied. "Besides, you left me the card if I recall correctly."

"Do you have business?"

"This is more of a social call."

"I am not one of your pieces," Alphard said sharply, softly.

"No, I suppose that was rude of me." There was a pause. "I suppose you've moved well across the board."

"I'll find you, Miss Natsume."

"Of course. I'll be waiting."

Alphard hung up the phone and frowned. The once unpleasant sting of Siam's ghost did not crop up to stab at her. There was absolutely nothing left of the snake's curse. There was just a void, and it could never be filled. Perhaps it could be ignored, tricked into believing in something. Maybe she could pretend that she was more than just a ghost. Then she opened the door and laughed.

"No," she said as she walked down the hall towards the elevator. "No more lies. Let this be what it is...Nothing."