Where the hell was she?
Rashel glanced around, her eyes narrowed at her surroundings. This was where she'd been before. The field. The absolutely green grass and unconditionally blue sky. They were so… gah, they were awful. The sky was as blue as indigo, the actual plant, and the clouds as white and fluffy as lambs. The grass was green as… well, grass, she thought bitterly. Golf-course grass. Fake, plastic, unnatural golf-course grass.
It wasn't Earth. Rashel had always taken Boston's dismal, scraggly grasses for granted. She'd never realized she would ever want something flawed compared to the ideal thing, but this abnormally, alien grass and sky made her want to puke. She'd take the weeds over puke any day.
Rashel shook her head. That wasn't important right now. The real question was, how had she gotten back here? Back where she'd started?
The Between-Place. Not the Other Side.
It couldn't actually have worked, she thought, staring in disbelief around herself. But there was no other explanation for it. The Goddess couldn't possibly have…
But she had.
Rashel fist-pumped. She jumped up and down, stamping the perfect grass flat beneath her bare feet. She spun around in circles, arms raised almost religiously. She let out a glorious, long, yowling cry of exuberance. Then she turned her head, scanning the vast, endless field for him.
For the one. The one she loved. Her soulmate.
He had been made for her, molded perfectly to fit with her own self like two puzzle pieces. He was meant to spend the entirety of his life with her, next to her always, never leaving, never faltering, never questioning. He was supposed to be next to her now.
And then she saw him.
He was standing there, not fifty feet away, gazing in bewilderment about himself. His black hair was gleaming in the bright, artificial sun, his skin so white it was practically glowing. Rashel had always loved to see him in the daytime.
It took all of her strength not to launch herself at him right then. She had to look at him first, really look at him, just like the first time she'd seen him, in the basement of an abandoned building, unconscious from when she'd hit him over the head with a wooden club. Caveman style.
She took him in, all of him. She was him, in that moment. They were one being, as separate from each other as two hands that had been tied together.
He was as beautiful as the sunset, dark as a dungeon, mysterious as an echo. And he was all hers. Always. Forever.
Well, he would be. She had to be patient, she had to wait. But one day, eventually, she would be able to hold him again in her arms forever, never letting go. Of course she would hold him now. But she'd have to give him up soon, too. She had only a small amount of time with him. She was lucky to have any of it at all.
Now she launched herself at him. She sprinted toward him, legs pumping as hard as they were able to, harder than they had ever worked in her life – even harder than when she had been running down the hill, away from Hunter Redfern's burning mansion. Nothing would stop her from reaching Quinn. Nothing in the entire universe could hold them apart, not even death itself.
After what seemed like an eternity, though it could only have been seconds with how speedily she was running, she reached him, whacking into him, wrapping her arms around him, knocking him over flat on the ground. She lay on top of him, kissing him over and over all across his face. On his eyes, his ears, his mouth, his nose. And when she was done kissing him, she ran her hands all over him, just as she had always done before. She felt his features – his head, his shoulders, his knees, his toes, just like the song. She learned them all over again, even though she'd never really forgotten.
"Quinn," she said, running a hand through his jet black curls. "Oh, Quinn. My John. My John Quinn. How I've missed you. I've missed you so much, don't you have any idea?"
Quinn wasted no time in saying her name. He grabbed her and kissed her hard on the mouth, very differently from the way he was holding her face in his hands, as lightly as if she were a lily, not a rough, audacious vampire hunter. Finally, after what seemed like lifetimes, he let go of her and brought his forehead to hers. "Rashel."
Then she pulled away and smacked him.
He blinked, his large, icy black eyes seemed unfocused before he brought a hand up to his cheek. "What the hell?"
"What the hell yourself?" she said furiously, glaring at him icily. "You idiot. You imbecile. You're a complete boob, John."
He gave her a wounded look. "Why?"
She sat up, and he sat up with her, taking her hands and running a thumb over the back of the left one. His own hands were pale and looked very delicate, but the palms were rough from the hard work he put into anything he tried to accomplish. Rashel had always admired that about him. She sighed now. "Why'd you have to go and get yourself killed?"
"Am I dead?"
"Not for long, you're not. I only have a few moments with you, and after that you're going straight back down to Earth and living properly."
Quinn's back straightened, and his eyes narrowed to dangerous slits. "You mean I don't get to stay here? With you?"
Rashel's jaw clenched tightly, and she looked away. "No," she finally admitted. "I have to stay here. Because when I died, it was my time to go, unlike yours now. You have your whole eternal life stretched out in front of you. You've got to live it for the both of us. You've got to live the life I gave you, the one where you do good things for Circle Daybreak and help small children out of trees, instead of kidnapping girls for money."
"Rashel," Quinn said, losing the menacing look. His eyes became startlingly innocent, and this scared her. He never looked like that, if he could help it. "I can't go back without you. I just can't. Don't you get it? You were the only reason I ever did any of those things. You made me who I was. If you're not there, then I can't hold onto my humanity."
"Dammit, Quinn. You're just going to have to learn to."
"But you're alone up here."
Rashel smiled reassuringly at him. "I'm not, actually. This is the Between-Place, but I've made it to the Other Side. I had to come back to see you, if only for a moment, to talk to you before you went back down."
"How did you make it back to here? Isn't it impossible?"
"Yes," Rashel said quickly, nodding. "Yes, it is. It's supposed to be, I mean. Once you're on the Other Side, there's no going back to this field place. I don't know how, but I think I managed to convince the Goddess to let me see you for a few minutes. I think she took pity on me. I was very pathetic, you know."
"Oh, my Rashel, I'm so sorry. I never should have let you get killed." He reached out and embraced her, and she let her head rest against his chest. His shirt was as soft as butter, and she was terribly afraid of going another long stretch of time without holding him like this again. But she had to. So she pulled away and clasped his head gently between her hands, looking straight into his eyes.
"John," she said, quietly as a mouse, "I've been watching over you. Just because I'm on the Other Side, that doesn't mean I haven't been able to see you. What's happened that made you like that again?"
She sighed, her breath rustling his hair. "You should be, you idiot. There's one reason I came to see you, and one reason only – you have to go back to Circle Daybreak. They needed us, Quinn. Sure, they have Ash. They have Jez and Morgead. They have Keller. But they needed us, too. And since I can't be there, you have to be there. You have to try and be strong without me. And I know you can. You're John Quinn. Your scowl alone could stop a car on the street."
"I'm nothing without Rashel Jordan."
"You're not without me," she whispered, rubbing a thumb along his cheekbone. "Haven't you been listening? I've been watching over you. That's the only thing I've been doing, besides to talking to others up here. I've been making sure no harm befalls you, and I knew the second that that vampire hunter staked you that you'd be here. And I begged the Goddess to let me see you. I begged her, John, from my knees. I told her how you were not usually like this – a smashed, bookmaking, unhappy mess. I told her how you were better, better than any other vampire I knew. How you'd rescued me from the burning house, and how you rescued me from myself. I told her how you'd save the world someday."
Quinn looked up at her, meeting her eyes. And so much was said silently between them at that moment, that Rashel thought it might be enough to last her entire wait on the Other Side. She hoped it would be.
"I have to go soon," Quinn said morosely. "I know I do. But I'll go back to Circle Daybreak, okay?"
"Good." Rashel leaned forward again and held him tightly for one last time. "We're soulmates. Just remember that we're soulmates – we have a bond so strong that even death can't break it. I'll be watching over you, and you'll know I'm watching over you, and you will never be lonely. You'll have everyone at Circle Daybreak to keep you company in the meantime – go get up to mischief with Ash again. And I have everyone up here. My parents, and Aunt Corinne, and even Dove, who's watching over you, too. In the meantime, don't get yourself killed again, okay? I love you, John. I love you."
"I love you, too, Rashel. I'll wait for you."
"Do that. I'll wait for you, also. I'll be waiting up here for you for as long as it takes – that's my promise to you. Don't do anything stupid, or we might have to have this conversation again."
There was a slight change in the air. A breeze seemed to have started up, and it left a windy, shadowy, shifting feeling deep in the recesses of her soul. Quinn would be sucked back down to Earth in only a few moments. She took a step back.
"It's happening," Quinn calmly, but there was something wild in his eyes. A fear like a grasshopper's, ready to go off at a second's notice.
She let go of his hand hesitantly. "I can't hold onto you. Otherwise I'll be pulled back down with you, and I can't. I have to stay here. But I'll wait for you always. Okay?"
"I love you, Rashel Jordan."
"I love you, John Quinn. I'll be waiting, always."
And then there was a loud whooshing noise, like a horn being blown in her ear, and there was wind all around her. She couldn't see anything because she had to close her eyes against the wind, stumbling a bit, hardly able to keep her balance. She screamed against it. She scrabbled uselessly, changing her mind. She wanted to go back with him after all. She couldn't give him up again. It was much too hard.
And then, as suddenly as it had come, the wind stopped, and Rashel was left standing by herself in the golf course grass underneath the indigo sky. She was alone. But not really.
Because Quinn wouldn't let her be. Their tie was as unbreakable as chewing gum. They would never be without each other, as long as they could help it.
And just before Rashel turned to go back to the Other Side, through a little, shimmery door, she whispered, "Thank you."