Claire had known from the tape that Myrnin had beaten Shane up some, but that hadn't prepared her for this. Shane's face showed an array of angry purple bruises and his left hand was in a support brace. There was blood on his collar, probably from the now-stitched cut at his temple.
But when he saw Claire, it was like he lit up. He stood taller, half ran towards the bars to get closer, and smiled lopsidedly. Claire's heart nearly broke there and then because that tiny shred of hope that she'd been nurturing all afternoon dissolved completely.
Because Myrnin had walked in behind her, and everything had changed.
Shane had always had a decent, Eve-worthy glare on him but with his battered appearance he looked terrifying. His un-braced hand curled in a death grip around one of the bars, his knuckles white with strain and the other hand reached through the bars to tug Claire away from the door, and Myrnin. His behaviour was both scary and heartbreaking because it proved what Claire had already known; he was going to end things, and it would be neither clean nor easy.
"What the hell are you doing here?" he demanded of Myrnin, then turned to Claire, eyes wide and wary and worried. He didn't know what Myrnin had told her. He was going to try and cover his tracks. "Is he following you? Whatever he's said, you can't trust him. You know that, right?"
Claire was frozen by the desperate panic in his voice. For a moment, he looked like a scared little boy, worried of loosing something he'd always taken for granted. Just like he'd lost his sister, and his mother and hell, his dad too. Shane had lost too many people, but it wasn't fair on either of them to stay together for that reason alone. And at that moment, it was the only reason still standing.
"Shane, I-" Claire swallowed hard, trying to think of some sort of a reference point of how to break up with someone without hurting them. She couldn't. "I know what you said to Myrnin. He recorded everything." She said quietly, not daring to meet Shane's eyes. "But he didn't really explain everything to you, and I think you deserve to know all of it.
Shane didn't make a sound. He was looking at her with such a vulnerable expression that Claire's words died in her throat. Myrnin was stood by the door making an intent study of the wood grain, but she knew he was listening to their every syllable, movement and heartbeat. She knew he would get her out if Shane went off the walls.
She knew he would take care of her after...whatever was going to happen... happened.
"Claire...you said you weren't. You promised."
Shocked, Claire realised he thought she meant that she was cheating. She almost wished she was, because that was something that could change, something that could be fixed, in Shane's eyes. And it would make him angry at her, not Myrnin.
But she couldn't lie to him, not even now.
"I'm not cheating, Shane. I'm sired. To Myrnin. And that makes things different."
The anger was back in Shane's eyes as he glared holes in the back of Myrnin's head, defensive and confused. "And what the hell does 'siring' mean. Because you're not a vampire, Claire." The thought seemed to send him into an even greater panic. "God, don't let them do that to you-" he said, reaching out impulsively and grabbing Claire's hand. Claire jumped violently as Shane's fingers brushed against hers, hot and rough in comparison to Myrnin's. Don't compare them Claire, she thought furiously. That's not fair. She tried to force herself not to flinch as Shane took hold of her hand, but he'd already seen it.
"What?" he asked sharply, confused and suspicious again.
And that pissed Claire off, because so far she'd been nothing but careful around Shane. She'd tried to break the news softly, to save him pain and he had the nerve to doubt her, after everything she'd done for him.
"I'm sorry, but the last time I saw you, you were seriously deciding whether to shoot me with a crossbow or not, after you nearly had me burned to death." She snapped coldly. "Forgive me if I don't trust you yet."
She could sense Myrnin's appreciative smile from across the room- not because she was being heartless (not that he'd care) but because she'd finally acknowledged that Shane had been at fault.
Shane let go of her hand, stunned. "But I thought-"
Claire didn't let him finish. If she had, she'd never tell him what he needed to know. So far all she'd done was drop hints and clues, but Shane hadn't cared about anything other than whether she was cheating on him or not. He hadn't even thought that maybe Claire was angry with him too.
"Siring is like a half way house between being human and a vampire. It means that I can't be away from Myrnin for too long or I'll die, but if I'm with him I'm fine. Better, really. It's like... "Claire grasped for words but there weren't really any. She understood it. Myrnin understood it. No one else really had to, except Shane, but it wasn't something that was easily described.
"It's a connection, a link. Like... like soul mates, almost. We're stronger together and the only way to break it really would be for me to become a vampire, and since you're so set against that..." she trailed off, her anger leaving her. She was trying to leave it up to him, because she didn't want to take responsibility for something that wasn't her fault. She and Shane stood staring at each other, both wearing blank and wary expressions to try and cover up the counterpart anger and sadness that they both felt, but for different reasons.
There was silence for so long that Myrnin turned around. That was a mistake.
Shane's world seemed to contract to that tiny room, all his anger directed at one person whom he could not reach. Shane was like an untamed tiger at a zoo- lashing out at anything that came too close to its cage, but aiming for the people who put it behind bars.
"You bastard." Shane spat at him, kicking out viciously at the bars in front of Myrnin, making them shake in their sets and rings accusingly.
Myrnin's eyes flared bright, angry red but Shane reached for Claire's arm through the bars again, and Myrnin paused, his fangs snapping out in frustration.
Shane was out of control. His eyes were wide and crazy looking, and Claire was genuinely scared, not only for herself but for Shane, too. He only had so many chances left before Morganville decided he wasn't worth it anymore.
"Shane, you need to listen-"
"You stay away from him Claire. You hear me? He doesn't own you. You can't let them do that to you ever. It's not worth it." He cut over her, cupping her face in his hands and looking her dead in the eye. Claire heard Myrnin's warning growl and she made frantic back down signals with her free hand whilst maintaining eye contact with Shane. There was a loud crash as Myrnin kicked the stool in the corner of the room into the wall in frustration, but Claire didn't flinch.
"If I stay away from him, I'll die. And it'll hurt." She said steadily, watching Shane's reaction.
He leaned forward and crushed his lips against hers in a brief, violent kiss. "I'll always love you, Claire. And I'll kill him for doing this to you."
Claire was stunned. He would prefer it if she was dead? Shane's face twisted with emotion at the barely suppressed shock in her eyes.
"Claire? You don't really want to become one of them, do you?"
"You mean like Michael? Or are you forgetting that your best friend's a vampire too?"
Shane frowned. "Michael didn't have a choice..."
"Neither do I!" Claire's betrayed yell burst out from her as she wrenched free of Shane's grip, stumbling backwards towards Myrnin. She was fed up of being careful of Shane's feelings, of Shane's problems and Shane's beliefs: she had her own to worry about, and they were just as important. "I didn't ask for any of this, any more than you did. And you have no right to tell me that I'm better off dead because you don't want a vampire for a girlfriend." She fixed him with a glare that would have done Amelie proud. "Well, guess what? You won't."
"Shut up, Claire!" Shane snarled at her, holding the bars in a death grip that was turning his bruised knuckles an unearthly shade of blue. "Don't yell at me like it's my fault that your leech of a boss decided he'd like to have you all to himself because it isn't. I'm giving you a chance to make things right after you let him-" Shane made a choked sound in the back of his throat and looked down. When he met Claire's eyes again he looked like a different person; an angry, vicious shadow of himself and it was terrifying.
"You let him do this to you. Don't blame me for your problem." He finished quietly, his voice the calm opposite of the venom in his glare.
At that moment, Shane wasn't the messed around, misunderstood boy that Claire loved. He was exactly the violent, messed up criminal that he was locked in there for being. Claire could see everything that Myrnin saw, that Amelie and Oliver saw when they looked at her former fiancé: hate, anger and an endless capacity for violence.
They saw a murderer, and now Claire did too.
She knew that she was staring at him. She knew that there were marks on her bare forearm from where he'd grabbed her, that her eyes were red and that there were tears running slowly down her cheeks. She knew that she was probably pale and looking at him as if he were some sort of monster, because his murderous glare slid away, and he looked almost haunted as he realised what he'd said.
"Goodbye, Shane." She whispered, and was glad that although her voice was soft and quiet, she didn't sound broken or angry or sad. She wasn't. She sounded calm and sure, and that was because it was true. This was the last time she would come to visit Shane Collins, and if he ever got out of here she would stay away from him. She wouldn't give him the chance to hurt her again.
Claire felt Myrnin's hand enclose hers, gently pulling her towards the door, putting himself between her and Shane as if he could protect her from any more pain just by being stood in front of the cause of it. The movement triggered Claire's mind to pick itself up, dust itself off, and get a move on and she stepped away from Myrnin and walked on her own steam to the door, back straight, head up.
Shane followed them along on his side of the bars, calling her name, asking her to stop, to listen. Begging for her not to leave him. Claire didn't look at him. It wouldn't do them any good anymore.
"Claire, listen to me; I didn't mean it like that. Don't leave with him, don't give into- look we can try, okay? Just don't go with him, I mean it, Claire. You can'-" he reached forward to grab her hand through the bars as she reached for the door, but Myrnin slapped it away, wrenching the door open and almost shoving her out of the room, away from Shane, before turning back to him.
"She can move on with her life, without you." He finished for Shane, levelling his uncaring dark eyes at passionately hating ones. "And next time you see Dr Goldman, perhaps you should ask him precisely what happened to poor Claire when you decided to run off with the revolutionaries, and I think you'll find that the majority of this is in fact your fault, and not hers, though it matters very little. May it be your consolation that it was not some great misfortune of unavoidable events that lead to this rather than your own stupidity and foolishness. Good day." And then he tipped an imaginary hat to Shane and closed the door on his stunned silence.
Claire let out a long breath that she didn't realise she'd been holding. She hadn't considered how she'd feel after seeing Shane again after so long, but surprisingly, she wasn't crippled by sadness and loss as the trashy romance novels she'd borrowed from Eve had taught her that she should be. She felt...relieved. Her relationship had become a heavy weight on her mind ever since the fire at the lab had shown how easily led away from her that Shane was. And now it was over, and Claire was, for almost the first time since arriving in Morganville, free.
Myrnin was watching her carefully, his eyes betraying nothing of his thoughts beyond wariness and caring. He looked almost uncertain, which was an entirely new look for Myrnin, and it was...endearing. Claire smiled, and he smiled back, and it filled his whole face, lighting up his eyes. Myrnin held out and Claire took it, letting him lead her away from the remnants of her old life and towards a new one, and Claire knew that he would be there with her every step of the way.
So yes, she was free, but she didn't intend to stay that way for too long.
Does that qualify as an ending? I know it took a while but I kind of suck at introducing dialogue without sounding ridiculously English.
So read and review, please guys. It's your last chance.