ladydeathfaerie: (Jean Claude)
[personal profile] ladydeathfaerie posting in [community profile] marysuevirus
Title: The Mary Sue Virus: Beyond Death
Chapter Forty One: Children of the Grave
Fandom: Anita Blake universe
Rating: 18 and up
Warnings: graphic sex and violence, language, anything else i can toss in.
Disclaimer: the recognizable characters and places contained herein are the property of LKH. i'm merely borrowing for the sake of entertainment. no money is being made from this venture. the Sues are the sole property of their originators, Ginevra, Dazzledfirestar, Nanaea, SilverFoxChan and ladydeathfaerie. the concept and title of The Mary Sue Virus are used with permission from Dazzledfirestar.

Author's Notes: this is the final of three chapters written because of the bunny that wouldn't quit eating my brain. i really hope that they translate to something enjoyable and readable.

The Mary Sue Virus: Beyond Death - Index Link

It all happened so fast.

One moment, he was trying to convince the gathered throng that the things he'd told them had been the truth. The next moment, there was screaming and movement even though it felt as if everyone was glued in place while something terrible happened all around them.

It wasn't hard to find the source of the trouble. A man wearing a waiter's uniform was in the middle of the crowd, moving toward the right hand side of the clearing. If Jean Claude was being honest, he'd admit that he hadn't paid any attention to the waiter as he'd moved through the gathered throng. What had caught his eye and drawn his attention toward the waiter was Aedan. She'd seen the man cut a path through the crowd, had been following his progress openly. And then she'd started to head in his direction. It was her action that had seen him paying attention.

The waiter suddenly threw his tray into the crowd, and the resulting tirade from several rows back suggested that someone had gotten hit with it. The waiter's pace increased, despite the crowd around him. He shoved people out of his way left and right as he made for his target. No one made any move to halt his progress. Jean Claude could see a knife in the man's hand, the outline hard to make out in the dim glow of the faerie lights, and the blade was already on a downward path when Aedan stepped into the clearing.

"Die, you thieving bitch!" the man bellowed as he brought the knife down. Jean Claude had no idea who the man was targeting. The crowd chose that moment to start scrambling away from the attacker. He knew a moment's anger at their cowardice, then his thoughts were distracted when Aedan's voice echoed across the clearing only seconds after the man's voice had died out.

"No! Minette!" Aedan screamed.

The man's blade found purchase in Minette's back, the woman in the midst of turning when the strike happened. Even across the distance, Jean Claude could see the light of mania burning in the man's eyes. And he saw those who were clustered around Minette start to move, but their actions were slow. Almost clumsy. He twisted the knife, pulled it free of Minette's flesh to strike again at her arm. Her cry of pain echoed loudly around the park.

Aedan almost made it to the edge of the crowd, almost plowed headlong into the crowd, but Truth was there to pull her back and away from danger. She struggled in his arms, tried punching and kicking him in order to force him to free her. Truth ignored her attempts as he moved her back until she was once again beside Jean Claude. Wicked had already taken up his position beside Jean Claude, eyes ever vigilant as they watched for more danger. "Goddamn it, Truth! Let me go. Fucking let me go!"

There were screams from the crowd and several people, those who hadn't fled from a single human with a single blade, went to the ground. There were those who were still on their feet, though, and they seemed to move as one group toward the attacker. Just before someone made to grab the man's wrist, he shoved Minette forward into Micah. A moment later, the waiter broke through a wall of onlookers and headed toward the tents and the exit. No one seemed inclined to give chase, leaving Jean Claude to wonder if they were refraining out of fear for their lives or because they didn't care if anything happened to him and his people. He was leaning very heavily toward the second option.

Moments later, another figure was running at full sprint across the park, giving chase to the attacker. Jean Claude recognized Edward as he ran after the waiter. Hiring Death to patrol the party had turned out to be an excellent idea.

"Let me go, you asshole! He's getting away!" Aedan ordered, her temper so high that Jean Claude wouldn't be surprised if everyone in the park could feel it. Truth did not let her go. Nor did he say anything to her. His seemingly uncaring attitude earned him a blistering strain of swear words from the woman he presently held. Jean Claude was fairly certain she'd made some up on the spot. He wanted to be amused at her anger, but this was not the time. And she had good reason to be angry. He could sense pain radiating from the Nimir-Ra, so intense that it was almost overwhelming and definitely distracting. He could feel the burn along her nerves that said the blade had been coated in silver.

"Jean Claude. Make him let me go!" There was desperation in her voice. He almost gave in to the plea, but stopped himself at the last possible second.

"I am sorry, ma poupette, but I cannot do that. You are unarmed and I will not risk your safety." he told her regretfully before closing off their link, effectively shutting her out of his mind.

Aedan shot him a dark glare. Tried one last time to get Truth to let her go, but the man held her tight in his embrace. She went slack in his hold a moment or two, then righted herself. Jean Claude heard her mutter a string of curses as she took hold of her skirts and pulled them up until she'd exposed her knees to view. Then she kicked her legs out before her, one at a time, so that her shoes went flying across the park. A moment later, her bare feet were planted on the ground and Jean Claude felt her call up her powers. He wasn't the only one. Every vampire in the park turned their attention to where she stood.

Oblivious to the attention being paid to her, Aedan grabbed hold of her necromancy with both metaphysical hands and dragged every last inch of it to the surface. Her rage and intent wrapped around it, twined with the power until they were so strong, the three of them battered against his own shields. And then she shoved that power into the ground, pushed it and her will and her rage deep into the earth.

He knew little about necromancy and how it worked, only that it sought out the dead and gave back a momentary life. What he did know was that her anger and rage served as a battery for her power, fueled it as it dug down and spread out, searching for any dead bodies in the area. That her will kept her power focused and on track. Those, he could feel surrounding her as well as he could feel them coming from her. He could feel her power working. And he knew that every vampire in the park - no, every vampire in the city - could feel her power working. There were no ritual words. There was no letting of blood. There were no tools of the trade. There was nothing of what he knew a necromancer needed or used in the raising of a zombie. There was nothing beyond power and anger and hatred and iron will.

For a few tense moments, nothing happened. The entire park was silent and still, everyone waiting to see what would come of her efforts. For those few tense moments, Jean Claude was sure he could feel emanating from his guests the belief that nothing would happen.

Then the ground started to boil. Like water in a pot left on a burner turned to high. The ground boiled and bubbled as soil rolled over grass and then grass rolled over soil again. Hands appeared. Arms. Heads. They all rose above the surface of the boiling ground. Rose until people stood at the ready, eyes turned to where Aedan stood caught up in Truth's unrelenting embrace. But it wasn't only people. Dogs and cats sat waiting patiently. Squirrels and birds. All with sharp gazes turned toward Aedan, merely waiting. A murmur from the crowd drew his attention to the edge of the lake, where at least half a dozen dripping zombies stood waiting.

Jean Claude couldn't count the number of zombies that circled the park. There had to be dozens of them. All of them looked like they had never died. Even the animals looked perfect. He allowed himself a moment of immense pride when he noticed that the party goers were staring around at the zombies with a mix of awe and fear. But that moment was shattered when Edward returned to the clearing empty handed. "Son of a bitch got away."

And just like that, it was all over. The world returned to normal and Jean Claude was left wondering how a single human had been able to launch a successful attack against one of his own people and then had managed to get away without a trace. How had no one reacted in time? It felt like the whole sequence of events had taken an hour to play out. But he knew that it had only been a matter of moments. Mere seconds. Someone should have been able to stop the attacker. Someone should have been able to run him down and capture him.

A hushed murmur went through the crowd before it began to move. Jean Claude watched as his guests shifted away from the spot where the attack had taken place. It was to find that a small crowd of his people were on their knees, including Micah, Nathaniel, Jason, Richard, Rhiannon, and Dr. Lillian. Shang Da and Jamil stood guard over the group, as did several of Rafael's rats.

"Let go of me. Let go of me! LET GO OF ME!" Aedan snarled. Jean Claude looked over just in time to see her plant a sharp elbow in Truth's stomach. Truth sent Jean Claude a look in question. Jean Claude nodded and Truth released his hold on Aedan. She was on her way to the crowd at the edge of the gathering without a word, hands fisted around her skirts to hold them up so she didn't trip over them. Even as she was dropping to her knees, Dr. Lillian turned to stare at him.

"We need to get Minette out of here. The blade was silver." He hadn't needed her to confirm it, could feel the fire burning under Minette's skin. But no one else could.

Jean Claude nodded. "Take her home. London, Requiem. Go with them. Ensure that Dr. Lillian has everything she needs."

London and Requiem melted out of the crowd. The group rose, with Micah lifting Minette up off the ground as carefully as he could. She hissed in pain before curling up against Micah's chest, face buried so that no one could see it. He watched as Aedan rose with them, obviously intent on returning to the Circus with Minette and the others. A look from Jean Claude saw Truth once more taking hold of her and pulling her back to his side. "Fucking let me go or I swear to the gods above and below that you'll be sporting a steel enema before the sun rises! Let me go!"

Truth kept hold of her until Jean Claude knew that a pair of the waiting cars were on their way back to the Circus. Only then did Truth release his hold on Aedan's arm. She rounded on Jean Claude, eyes filled with fire and lips twisted into a hateful scowl, intent on tearing into him. But he took hold of her hand and turned her to face the remaining guests. "Does anyone else require proof that I am telling the truth?"

Gazes shifted uneasily toward the zombies, still standing where they'd risen and still awaiting Aedan's orders. A voice rose from the back. "How do we know these are not actors?"

"Actors? You think I hired a bunch of fucking squirrels to act as zombies?" Aedan asked, temper getting the better of her. Jean Claude could feel she was itching for a fight and the fool who had asked that question had just given her a reason to let her temper run free. "You think I spent the last two fucking weeks trying to train some squirrels and sparrows and fucking finches to act like fucking zombies just so you could fucking question my abilities? Who the fuck do you think you are?"

"For all we know, this could have been done merely for show." That was Martine, taking the opportunity to cast doubt. It was payback for Aedan's comments to her earlier.

"Right. My best friend got stabbed for show. Just to prove to you that everything is all normal here," Aedan snapped back. Her gaze shifted to the zombies standing by the shore. "Do you want to try and convince the zombies to break character? Or should I order them to come take a bite out of your pretty hide?"

"The timing of this attempt is suspect," Martine continued. She made sure to put as much skepticism into her words as possible. A soft murmur rose up around her, sounds of agreement that saw the zombies shifting forward a few steps even though Aedan hadn't said anything.

"This attempt?" Aedan echoed. "You think I staged an attempt on my friend's life? What kind of fucking asshole do you have to be to think I'd risk my friend's life to impress your pathetic ass?"

Aedan paused a moment, giving Martine enough time to open her mouth in preparation of a reply. But Aedan ran right over her, cutting her off before she even got started. "Oh, right. Sorry. I forgot. You're a petty, vindictive bitch who wants to get back at her old boyfriend for some shit that happened a billion fucking years ago. Get over yourself, bitch. You're not that fucking special."

"Are you going to allow your human servant to speak to us in such a crass manner, Jean Claude?" The first voice asked. Jean Claude recognized it as belonging to Wellington, a Master in from Australia.

"Since I'm being so crass," Aedan said before Jean Claude could answer. The edge of her anger lashed out a everyone present, sharp and jagged and painful. He probably should have put an end to her tirade, but perhaps this was a good way to let the others know that she would not be trifled with. That they would not be trifled with. "Which one of you blood sucking mother fuckers tried to kill my best friend?"

A chorus of voices rose up, each one denouncing the unfair accusation while never once actually denying it. The crowd was getting restless. No one had noticed that the zombies were inching closer to them. "Enough, Aedan. Allow the zombies to go back to their rest. And do not antagonize the attending Masters so." She frowned, but said nothing. And the zombies stopped moving. He wasn't sure how she was controlling them. As far as he knew, zombies followed verbal commands. She'd said nothing.

"I will not stand here and allow this... human," Anastasia put so much contempt into her voice that she made 'human' sound like the dirtiest of words. One arm rose, a single finger pointed Aedan's way. "To sully my good name as she is. I demand her blood in payment for this slight, Jean Claude."

"It is a fair question, Anastasia. It would benefit everyone here if something happened to one of my people. One of my more powerful people. I, too, would like to know if one of you has plotted against me in an attempt to assassinate the Nimir-Ra of the pard." His voice was almost pleasant. But no one could miss the deadly steel that he'd threaded into the words. The protests died away almost immediately. In fact, no one said anything. He let his gaze slide over each and everyone present, let them know that he was not going to forget this evening. "I think we can safely say that the party is over. Thank you all for coming. Enjoy your flights home."

Aedan gave him a sour look. "You're going to let them go? You're not going to make them admit that they were behind the attack on Minette?" Something about the way she asked the question felt wrong. Or maybe it was something in her voice. Almost as if she didn't really believe that anyone at the party was responsible. Almost as if she was only asking to make him think she believed one of them was the guilty party.

"Unless you can offer me solid proof that one of the visiting Masters was behind the attack on Minette, I must let them go." He waited to see if she would argue the point or if she'd let it go. Aedan let her gaze slide around the clearing, let it land on each and every face there. Finally, she sighed and shook her head. As he thought. Something about the attack and her accusations was off. If only he could convince her to tell him what that something was...

He was aware of the crowd moving off in small groups, party goers heading toward their transportation to return to their rented rooms and houses. Those of his people who had remained behind were all clustered together, watching everyone go. His attention was focused on Aedan. She was staring at her zombies, her expression suggesting she was mildly surprised by their presence. Surprised and proud. She allowed herself a few extra moments to enjoy those feelings, then she gently put them aside and closed her eyes in concentration.

Once again, he felt her power build and flow out of her. It slipped easily into the ground and flowed across the park in all directions, following the paths created by the thin strands of power already there keeping the zombies under her control, until it touched each one of the dead she'd brought to the surface. When her power was touching all of them, she opened her eyes and gave a soft smile. "Thank you for answering my call. I release you from my power. Return to your eternal rest with my gratitude. May you always know peace and may no one else disturb your slumber."

Just like that, the zombies were gone. The ground boiled again and every last one of her zombies simply sank into the soil below them. Those who had come out of the lake turned and walked back into the water to disappear under the surface with barely a ripple to mark their passing. Jean Claude took note of a few of the guests stopping long enough to watch the zombies go back from whence they came before finishing their trek to their vehicles. And then everyone was gone and he was alone with Aedan, with Wicked and Truth, with Edward, and with his people.

"We should go," Edward said. His gaze was constantly moving around the park, looking for the next threat. Jean Claude had to agree. He was not comfortable standing in the open at the moment. The attack on Minette had been a frightening thing, something that shouldn't have happened at the party. He'd ensured that every person hired to work the event had been vetted. Not a one of the many members of the waitstaff had set off any alarm bells. He wasn't sure he wanted Aedan in the open any longer than necessary. And he wanted to ensure Minette hadn't been too seriously injured.

"Come along, ma poupette." He reached out to put his hand on Aedan's back, but she ducked away from him before he could touch her. Cold anger poured off of her in waves and her expression might very well have ended his life had she given it to him for longer than a second. He shared a look with Edward, who shrugged. It might have been Jean Claude's imagination, but the other man seemed to be amused by her attitude. That thought was fleeting, though, because Edward turned and followed after her. Jean Claude held back the sigh and started the walk to the car, Wicked and Truth at his back.

The atmosphere in the back of the limo was... uncomfortable. And that was putting it politely. Aedan had taken a seat on the other bench, in the far corner. Edward had settled beside her. That left the second bench for Jean Claude and the Wicked Truth. She had yet to actually look at him and Edward looked extremely amused by her anger. To be perfectly honest, Jean Claude was tired of it. Tired of trying to figure out what he'd done wrong. Tired of trying to figure out how to fix it so that things could go back to some semblance of normal. Tired of feeling so out of sorts where his human servant was concerned.

He wasn't going to get into why he felt out of sorts. That wasn't something he was ready to tackle just yet. Maybe when he could figure Aedan's complicated set of emotions out. Once he accomplished that, he could figure anything out.

Her gaze was focused on the window, attention on whatever she saw outside of the vehicle. It was obvious, if he wanted to end the uncomfortable silence in the car, he was going to have to be the one to do so. A glance at Edward showed him the other man was watching Aedan with such intensity that Jean Claude wished, just for a moment, he could read Death's mind. Then again, given the things Edward must know, perhaps digging around in his head would be ill-advised. Right. Time to find something to say that would break the ice. He considered a few different options before finally settling on one he thought would best open up communication between them. "I am sure Minette will be fine."

It was apparently the wrong thing to say because Aedan's head snapped around and her eyes flashed fire when they landed on him. "She would have never gotten hurt if Truth hadn't pulled me back."

Her words saw his temper shooting up. Just a little bit. "Truth pulled you back because that man had a knife and you had no weapon at all. You could have been injured. Perhaps even killed."

She snorted at him. "Not likely." She sounded absolutely convinced that she would have come out of a confrontation with the man unscathed. He couldn't understand where the certainty came from.

"You cannot know that, Aedan," Jean Claude pointed out.

"I know that I could have kept Minette from being hurt if given the chance." She shot a look at Truth. He was unphased by her displeasure with him. She then turned that look on Jean Claude. It was filled with anger. So much anger. He had to wonder if it was all Aedan's own anger or if she'd inherited some of Anita's when the other woman had passed her powers on. Underneath the anger, he saw fear. Strange, because he couldn't feel it. Perhaps the anger was so strong and loud, it drowned everything else out.

"What if you are correct and this act had been perpetrated by the same people who killed Anita?" He wasn't entirely certain that was the case. But he wanted her to understand that her actions had consequences. Not just for herself, but for everyone she was close to. And that everyone included him. "What if you had been a target, as well? Did you stop to think of that? Did you even stop to think of what would happen to me and my people if you had been killed?"

She stared at him, as if she hadn't stopped to consider what would have happened and was only just now thinking about it. For a moment, he saw a flicker of something softer in her eyes. Something that might have been worry and compassion. But the moment passed and her stare hardened until there was nothing on her face but her anger. "You would have survived. Like you always do. Just like a cockroach always survives."

Edward's lips twitched up at the corners. Just a little bit.

It was as close as she was going to get to actually calling him a cockroach. The idea she thought so poorly of him pained him. It was almost a physical thing, too. And it was something he wasn't going to look at too closely. Not now. Not when things seemed to be getting worse every day. Not when he was still trying to figure out what had brought Aedan to this level of rage. She carried it with her. All day. Every day. It was tiring trying to discover the reason for it. Why she directed it at him. Why it even mattered to him in the first place.

"You could have been killed," he repeated. Because he wanted her to understand that she was not immortal. Just as he wanted her to understand that he didn't want to see her killed.

"I told you. I would have disarmed the attacker and Minette wouldn't have gotten hurt. But you had to be a jackass and leave me with no weapon for defense. Your people had to be jackasses and hold me back when I could have stopped it! I am not a fucking child. I can deal with one lone attacker!" She snarled the words at him, staining the interior of the vehicle with her loathing and contempt. Rage still burned in her eyes and she lifted a single finger to point at him. "Unless we have a public engagement, don't fucking talk to me again."

And just like that, she shut herself off from all of them and resumed her pensive stare out the window.

"Even if I live to be a thousand years old, I will never understand women," Jean Claude muttered. Edward's lips twitched up into a full blown smirk. Perfect. Just what he needed. Death being amused over his problems with women...

~*~*~*~*~

"You need to shift, Minette," Micah insisted, doing his best to hold her even as she writhed against the burning pain running through her.

"No," Minette ground out, teeth set and jaw clenched. Sweat had broken out on her forehead and above her lip, and her eyes were shut tightly. "Aedan. Need to know... she's okay."

"She's okay, Minette," Jason replied, hand stroking her hair from her face. It had come loose from its intricate style, wisps hanging in and around her face.

"No." The answer was a little firmer this time.

"I saw Truth pull her back. She's not hurt," Micah told her.

"No!" Minette spat forcefully. Her eyes blinked open to show that they'd gone that shade of green that said her beast was so close to the surface. He didn't understand why she was fighting it, why she didn't simply allow herself to shift here and now. The pain had to be excruciating. Why prolong it? "Not until I see Aedan!"

"Jason," Micah said, doing his best to keep his worry and his anger from his voice. Nothing good would come of trying to yell at her. And trying to force her to change could prove disastrous.

"I'm already on it." Jason already had his cell phone in hand. Even with the slim piece of electronics pressed to his ear, Micah could hear the other line ringing. The call was picked up after three rings.

"Yes?" Jean Claude did not sound thrilled. It made Micah wonder if maybe he'd been rash in saying Aedan hadn't been hurt. They'd gotten Minette out of the park pretty quickly once it was clear the attacker had fled.

"Minette won't shift until she can see Aedan."

There was a sigh, then a moment of quiet. The soft sounds of the phone changing hands came next. No words were spoken during the exchange. "Hello?" It was Aedan's voice and she sounded... really pissed off.

"Just a sec. I'm putting you on speaker," Jason said before pulling the phone away and pressing a button. The back of the limo filled with the soft, electronic hum of the open connection. "Aedan, Minette wants to know you're okay."

"Minette? You haven't shifted yet?" Aedan asked. Some of the anger leaked out of her voice as she did so.

"No," Minette got out, the single syllable little more than a breath of air.

"Why the fuck not? Jesus fucking shit, Minette. Shift now and start healing. Or I swear to whoever will listen, I will beat the crap out of you myself."

"Need to see you," Minette got out.

"You do not need to see me. You need to fucking go furry and heal. Do it now."

"I wanna know you're not hurt."

"Of course I'm not hurt, Minette. Truth made sure that I was in absolutely no danger at all. I'm fine. Please don't worry about me. Just take care of yourself." Aedan's voice was softer this time, most of the anger gone and replaced by tenderness and concern.

"I need to see you first," Minette repeated. There was a kind of desperation in her voice that Micah didn't quite understand. He wondered if she was even aware of it being there. It was an agony to wait the second or two for Aedan's answer, to find out what she'd say. He hoped she'd say the same thing, that Minette should shift and heal herself. "You could be lying."

"Minette..." Aedan's voice trailed off on a sigh. There was silence from the other end of the line, allowing Micah to pick up that annoying electronic hum again for a few brief moments. He couldn't imagine why Aedan was so silent or what she was doing but he wished she'd hurry up and tell Minette to just shift. End the call so that she could put an end to her misery. "We're five minutes behind you. I've been assured that we will be at the Circus in no more than ten minutes. I'll come see you when we arrive. And then you're going to shift and sleep and heal. And the next time I see you face to fleshy face after that, I'm going to kick your ass for being so fucking stubborn."

Minette gave a grimace that he supposed was meant to be a smile. "I learned everything I know from you."

"Bitch." It was the last thing Aedan said before she disconnected the line. Micah was considering kicking her ass the next time he saw her. She should have encouraged Minette to shift now and check her over later. He planned on having a word with Aedan about her apparent lack of concern with regard to Minette's health.

"Fuck, I'm going to kill that son of a bitch if I ever get my hands on him." The words were the only warning Micah got before Minette squeezed the hand that held hers. He could hear the bones in his fingers creaking as they ground together and wondered if this would be the time that she broke his hand with her strength. But her hold loosened almost as soon as it tightened and tingles filled his fingers as the blood flow returned to them. Then she curled up on herself again, face sweaty and pale, and it was all Micah could do not to force her to change then and there.

~*~

True to her word, Aedan came bustling through the door five minutes after Micah and Jason had settled Minette into bed. They'd managed, somehow, to get the gown off of her before doing so, but Micah was certain it was already beyond repair. There was so much blood staining the green dress. Minette was currently curled into a ball, hands fisted in the bedding as she rode out a fresh wave of pain. She was rapidly losing her grip on her human form, her fingers already sprouting claws that had ripped through the fine material of Jean Claude's expensive sheets.

A look at Aedan's face told Micah that she'd agreed to Minette's ridiculous terms for purely selfish reasons. She knew how important it was for Minette to shift so that she could heal. But Aedan needed to see with her own eyes that her friend was okay. That killed some of his desire to rip her a new one. Some, but not all. They were still going to talk.

She was still in the gown she'd worn to the party, the crystal point tiara tilted slightly on her head. Her face was pale beneath her makeup. It wasn't hard to see that she was doing a good job of holding back the tears, her eyes red and watery. She hurried over to the bed and reached out a tentative hand toward Minette's shoulder, but drew it back before she could actually touch the other woman. "You idiot. You should have shifted."

"Had to be sure you were okay," Minette replied without opening her eyes. The pitch of her voice had lowered and there was a hint of a growl on her words. She was going to shift soon, whether she wanted to or not.

"I told you I was fine. Dumbass. Not quit being such a shit and do what you need to do. Heal up. I'll come back and visit after you've had time to rest up." Micah watched as she stared at her friend a moment or two, then she bent over and pressed a kiss to Minette's cheek. "Get better. I love you. This place would suck without you."

The whispered words had barely finished echoing in the room before all of that preternatural energy came to a boil. It filled the room, rubbing against everything around it the way any cat would. Jason was the one who inched forward and took hold of Aedan, who pulled her away from the bed as quickly and as quietly as possible. It didn't look like Aedan put up much of a fight, but her head turned so that she could watch over her shoulder as Minette let go of her human self and allowed her beast to take over.

It wasn't a slow shift. Minette had held the energy of her beast off for far too long. It had been waiting just under the surface, looking for the right moment. And so it burst through her skin as quickly and as smoothly as a hot knife cut through butter. Bones shifted in a matter of seconds and midnight black fur erupted from her skin as the feline replaced the human. Her ears rose up and her tail grew, as did her muzzle. Thick, viscous liquid saturated the bed, some of it bright red with blood. In the span of a minute, Minette's human form was gone and a large black panther lay curled up on the bed. It never once opened its eyes. A moment later, the energy pulled back and left Micah able to breathe again.

Aedan stared a moment longer before she pulled herself from Jason's hold and headed for the door. Micah followed her out into the hallway.

His hand caught her arm before she'd gotten five steps from him. Her fist caught his chin half a heartbeat after that, every last bit of everything she felt packed into the punch. He let her go in order to take a step or two back, but he didn't flinch. Nor did he falter. "What the fuck were you thinking?"

She ignored him, tried to step around him to continue up the hall. Micah put himself between her and the exit. "Answer me, Aedan. What were you thinking?"

"Move, Micah," she replied, voice low. Tight. Filled with roiling emotions.

"She should have shifted ten minutes ago. Fifteen. Right after she was stabbed. But she refused because of you. You should have told her to do it."

"Get out of my way, Micah," Aedan retorted. There was a little more volume in her words. A lot more anger.

"Not until you tell me where you head was back there! She needed to shift as soon as possible in order to heal the damage done by the silver!"

"You think I don't know that? You think I don't know what could have happened to her because of the silver on the blade?" She stepped into him and glared at him, anger leaking out of her like air from a tire. "Everything that's in my head and you think I don't know?"

"If you know, why did you tell her to wait? Why didn't you let her shift and start healing sooner? Why did you risk her life?" Though he never raised his voice, he was fairly certain Aedan knew he was yelling at her. She glared at him defiantly for a long, long time.

"Because she's my family! She's the only family I have! Forgive me if I let my emotions get the better of me sometimes! I'm only fucking human." There was so much pain and regret and fear in his words that he was left confused by that. She gave him a look that suggested he could go fuck himself, then pushed past him to stalk up the hallway. He could read intent in the way she'd set her shoulders and the straight line of her spine.

"Aedan? Where are you going?" Because he knew, he just knew, she was going somewhere.

She halted her progress a moment or two so that she could turn to look at him. "Someone attacked my family tonight. Someone who has a death wish. I'm going to go get information so that I can fulfill that wish for them."

There was so much hate in her voice.

She was gone before he could say anything else. For a moment, Micah considered going after her. Stopping her before she did anything rash. But then he realized she'd never let him keep her from doing whatever she was going to do. She he turned and went back into the room to keep watch over Minette.

~*~*~*~*~

"Did it work?" she asked the moment he entered their home. He knew that she'd been playing with herself again. He could smell it on her. Filthy whore. She had no shame and no self-control. He'd have to punish her for it later. For now...

"No!" he shouted at her. Satisfaction rolled over him in waves when he saw her flinch, when he watched her shrink away from him. He liked it when she wasn't so forward. "It didn't work! The thieving bitch didn't die! She didn't suffer at all!"

Anger swelled, saw him sweeping an arm across the table. Everything that littered the surface, bottles and papers and empty food wrappers and pens and pencils and several silver blades, all went to the floor with a loud crash. The glass shattered and flew over the tiled surface. She flinched again, shrank back into the corner to get away from his temper.

He'd been so close. So, so close. He'd almost succeeded. But he'd been spotted before he could accomplish his mission. He'd been seen and it had forced him to act quickly. Rashly. And he'd failed. His temper soared again as he thought about the last glimpse he'd had of her, of how no one had been panicking or running or screaming. "FUCK!" he snarled out, put his hands on the edge of the table and flipped it over. It clattered against the floor, made so much noise that he was glad they weren't in any neighborhood. His actions startled the little whore. Saw her trying to inch back even further. Seeing her cowering like the dog she was made his dick hard. But now wasn't the time.

Right now, he had to come up with a new plan.

He stalked from the main room, into the small, cramped area they used for their bedroom. It was also where they planned and plotted out each move. The walls were covered with pictures, maps, and pieces of paper with his writing scrawled all over them. He'd hoped that he'd be moving on to the next part of his plan to destroy the fake family, but no doubt everyone would be on alert now. So it would have to wait for a little bit. That didn't mean he couldn't continue his original mission. That didn't mean he could laze about and ignore God's work.

No. He had to act. He had to pick someone. He had to keep fulfilling his duties. His eyes scanned the wall, checking over every image and word in the hopes that something, that someone, would catch his eye and he'd have his next task.

He heard her come, her bare feet slapping softly against the wooden floor. She did it intentionally, to ensure he knew she was there. She knew how much he hated it when she snuck up on him. She stood behind him, silent, watching as he poured over all of the information they'd gathered up. It was hard to choose. His heart was in destroying the fakers. But there was no way that could be dealt with at the moment. If he was going to go after the next target on the faker list, he was going to have to do something to keep people distracted. He didn't want them expecting another attack.

"What are we doing?" she asked softly. He watched out of the corner of his eye as she moved up to stand beside him. Her eyes moved over the collected information dispassionately. He knew she didn't really enjoy their mission, but she was doing it because it was the only way.

"We need to create a diversion," he said, voice quiet and attention back on the wall before him.

"So they don't suspect anything?"

"Exactly. We have to get them running around like chickens with their heads cut off before we strike our next target in the fake family." On the last, he tapped a photo on the section of wall he'd dedicated to said fake family. She stared at the image a moment, then nodded and let her gaze skim over their other subjects.

"How about this one?" She tapped a finger against a glossy photo, the nail obscene with its bright crimson paint.

He read the information scribbled on the sheet of paper next to the picture. The subject was a good choice. This one would make ripples. That would have the desired effect, would send everyone scrambling to try and figure out who was doing these things. "It would certainly attract her attention."

Close those eyes and let me love you to death

Little sister nodded her head at him, eyes wide. "She won't be able to ignore us anymore."

"We're not doing this for her attention," he reminded her.

"I know," she nodded again, sending her hair shifting around her head rapidly. "We're doing this because God said we needed to do it. But you want her to know. I can tell. You want her to see you for the brilliant mastermind that you are."

"I want her on her knees," he said, brain going to what he was going to do when he finally had her in his grasp.

The beast inside of me is going to get you

She nodded her head again. Inched closer to him so that she could press a breast against his arm. He knew what she was doing. He should push her away. He should gather the things they'd need to deal with their next subject so that they could get started with their diversion. But he didn't, let her keep rubbing the softness of her breast against him the way she was. Such a wanton little whore. He liked the way her breasts felt against his skin. In his hands. In his mouth.

She was emboldened by his silence, let her arm slide around his waist so that her fingers could press the bulge in his pants while she continued to rub her breast on his arm. His eyes rolled shut with the feel of her hand on his cock through his clothes. He shouldn't let her distract him like that. But he was a slave to the heat of her cunt and he loved the symphony of her moans and groans as he fucked her long and hard.

He gave in. The subject could wait a little longer. His sister was hot and eager for him, ready to show him just how much she loved him. He turned to her and slid his fingers into her hair. Fisted his hands around the soft strands and dragged her face to his. She was ready for his kiss, her mouth meeting his and giving him access. She let him throw her down onto the pile of mattresses, let him shred her clothes from her body. Her hands worked at releasing his cock from his pants and she was tugging him down toward her pussy even before he'd shoved the offending garment off his hips.

Holy shit, she was so wet. Her cunt sucked him in and held him. He ripped her shirt open, yanked her bra down to expose her breasts to view. She moaned when he bit one hard, then wrapped her legs around his waist and held on for dear life while he fucked her right into the mattress.

This is just the start, dear friends, for I have come to claim revenge

~*~*~*~*~

Aedan had finished setting the circle a while ago, and the power caught inside with her was buzzing against her brain. She only had to draw that bit of blood and send her necromancy down into the earth. But she couldn't quite bring herself to doing so. Not just yet. Because if she did this, if she went through with her plans, everything was going to change. Not just for her, but for everyone in her life. And she didn't know if she was ready to do that to people. She wasn't sure if she was ready to expose herself.

But she needed answers. And this was the best way to get them. Until tonight, she hadn't really considered this as an option. But the attack on Minette had changed the game. Because she'd recognized the attacker's face. And that meant that shit was getting real. And it was getting real really fast.

Sighing, Aedan used the machete she carried in her kit to shed the blood of the chicken. Not her favorite part of the job, but she was going to do it the right way this time. The safe way. The chicken's blood was warm as she sprinkled it around the circle. "Rise for me. Rise and answer my questions, Katie Harris. Answer my call and rise."

The ground beneath her quivered for a moment or two, then the surface boiled and a tiny hand broke through the shifting soil. The girl's head followed a moment later. In the span of five seconds, the little girl stood on top of her grave, her eyes wide and filled with confusion as she looked around the cemetery.

The family who had buried her had put her in a soft pink dress with lots of lace and ribbons. She wore white tights and black ballet slipper shoes and someone had put a pink headband in her hair. A delicate gold cross rested against the bodice of her pink dress. She looked so alive. Aedan wanted to cry. She held it back and offered the child some of the chicken's blood. The zombie girl drank the blood without reservation. The last vestiges of life, of intelligence, flickered in the girl's eyes and the illusion of her being alive was complete. "Hello, Katie."

The girl looked at her. "Hello. How do you know my name? Do I know you?"

"No. You don't know me. I know your name because I work with the police," Aedan replied.

"The police? Did I do something wrong?" A touch of worry crept into the girl's voice and she looked around her earnestly. "Why am I in a cemetery? Where are my mommy and daddy?"

Aedan took a breath. This was going to kill her. But she needed Katie to cooperate with her if this whole thing was to be any kind of success. She motioned to either side of her, to the tombstones at the head of the two graves. "Your mommy and daddy are there, Katie. Do you remember what happened to them? To you?"

The girl frowned as her gaze looked at each headstone in turn. Aedan was sure she was trying to read the names inscribed on the granite markers. When she turned back to face Aedan, there was a mixture of fear and sadness in her eyes. "We're dead? Mommy and Daddy and I?" she asked in a small voice.

"I'm so sorry, sweetheart," Aedan nodded. She had considered talking to one of Katie's parents, but adults tended to hold things back. They tended to try to find ways to explain the unexplainable. And Aedan hadn't wanted to deal with their religious attitudes. Not to mention, she felt she owed Katie a personal apology. "I know this is very scary. And I know you're scared. But I really need your help. I need to find the people who hurt you and your parents. Do you remember what happened?"

"They came in when we were having bible study," Katie told her. Her face was scrunched up in thought as she worked at recalling that day.

"Who are they? Did you hear any names, Katie?"

The girl shook her head. "No. I didn't hear any names. And I don't know who they are. I've never seen them before. Daddy was trying to get them out of the house, but the girl was too strong for him."

"There was a girl? Who else was there at your house, Katie? How many of them were there?"

"Two," the girl said with certainty. "A boy and a girl. He was so angry. He hurt Mommy and Daddy. I thought he said something about God, but I was so scared. The girl was nice to me, though. She tried to protect me from the boy."

Well, that proved that Aedan had been right about there being two people involved in the lycanthrope killings. But it didn't get her any closer to the answers she needed. If she was going to get those answers, she was going to have to focus Katie's answers. "Are you a princess?" Katie asked suddenly. It reminded Aedan that she hadn't bothered to change out of her party clothes in her haste to find answers.

"I am tonight, Katie. And I'm a princess who desperately needs your help. That's why I came here tonight. To ask you for your help," Aedan told her before settling down in the grass with her knees legs crossed under her skirts.

"I'll do what I can," Katie promised solemnly.

Aedan offered her a smile. "I know you will, princess. Because princesses do what they can to help people. Right?"

Katie nodded and moved closer. She mimicked Aedan's pose, settling into the grass with her legs crossed before her. Aedan held back her smile, sure that Katie's mother would have a fit if she could see her daughter treating her Sunday best so casually. "How can I help you? I already told you that I don't know their names. They didn't say them while they were in our house."

"Well, you've told me that a boy and a girl are the ones who came into your house and hurt your Mommy and Daddy. That helps. Do you remember anything weird or strange about the two of them?"

"You mean besides the girl being really strong?"

"Yes. Besides that. But how do you know the girl was really strong?" That was the second time Katie had mentioned the fact. So it was important.

"She pushed Daddy across the room. With one arm, even! She just shoved and Daddy went backward. Like when a person jumps out of a plane and the parachute opens."

Interesting. If Kate was telling the truth, and Aedan had no reason to believe she wasn't, the girl had been as strong as any member of the preternatural community. Aedan had smelled the musk of wolf at more than one crime scene. "What about the boy? Was he as strong as the girl?"

Katie gave the question some thought, fingers picking at the grass near her knee as she did so. "No. I don't think so? I mean, he shoved Daddy, but Daddy only staggered back a couple steps. He didn't go flying back like when the girl pushed him."

Aedan nodded. So the woman was the lycanthrope. Curious. "Who did most of the talking?"

"He did," Katie said almost immediately. And with a great deal of conviction.

"What else did you notice?"

Katie fell into thought again, her eyes distant as she worked through her memories of that day. It took her a few moments to recognize something that might have been important. When she did, she raised confused eyes to Aedan. "The boy kept saying things about a fake family. Do you know what that means?"

Aedan frowned. "No. I don't think I do. But I'm sure its important. So I'll see if I can figure it out."

"Why did they do this to us?" Katie asked softly. Her gaze had gone to the grave on the left, which was where her father had been buried. The girl sounded so sad and lost. Aedan supposed that was to be expected, given she'd been murdered only a couple of weeks ago.

"I don't know, Katie," Aedan shook her head. "I wish I knew. But I really don't."

"You said you work with the police. Does that mean you're a police officer?" the girl asked, fingers once more picking at the grass beneath her.

"I'm a Federal marshal. So I am a police officer."

Katie's face lit up as she processed the information. "You're a police officer and a princess? That's so cool."

"Yeah. I guess it is."

"Did you always want to be a police officer when you grew up?" Katie asked. Aedan let her have the moment because she knew this had to be hard. How did one come to terms with the notion that they were dead? She had no clue, but Katie was handling the situation with style and grace. The least Aedan could do was give her a moment or two of childish curiosity.

"No," Aedan shook her head. "I didn't know what I wanted to be. I grew up very confused about what I would do with my life."

"Didn't your mommy and daddy help you decide? Mine did. I told them I wanted to be a zoo keeper. And that I wanted to work with elephants. Mommy said I could be anything I wanted to be." Katie paused and looked around again. Though it was dim in the cemetery, it was still easy to see that the graves of all three members of the Harris family were piled high with flowers and candles. A large blue bear sat beside Katie's headstone. "Did your mommy and daddy tell you you could be anything? Didn't they think you couldn't be anything other than a princess?"

"They didn't call me princess," Aedan admitted. Katie turned wide eyes her way, then the girl reached out and laid her hand on Aedan's knee. It was awkward, because she had to stretch and go up on her knees just a bit to accomplish it. But she did it all the same. Her touch was comforting, soothing after the events of the day. The heat of her palm soaked through the layers of material and into Aedan's skin.

"If they didn't call you princess, how did you get to be a princess? Did someone make you a princess?" Katie went up on her knees and stretched a hand up to touch one of the crystal points on Aedan's tiara. There was childish wonder in her face as she traced the shape of the crystal.

"Yes. Someone made me a princess."

"Do you like him?" Katie asked. Her tone was sly. Aedan couldn't help but smile at the girl, but the question made her think. Her first instinct was, as always, to deny that she felt anything other than contempt for a certain annoying vampire. But she curbed the instinct and gave the question consideration. It wasn't like Katie knew Jean Claude. And it wasn't like she was going to be able to share Aedan's secrets. Once she'd answered Aedan's questions, Katie was going to go back to her grave. She doubted that anyone would ever come here and raise the girl up to ask her any questions. No one would think that a child could give them the answers and the help they felt they needed. And, maybe, getting it out in the open would be the first step in figuring out how to deal with it. And him.

"I think I do, Katie," Aedan admitted to the girl. And to herself. A wide, knowing grin spread across Katie's face.

"Well, that's good. That'll make it all easier."

"Make what easier?"

"When he goes to kiss you. He wouldn't have made you a princess if he didn't like you. And since he likes you, he's probably going to kiss you. Liking him back will make kissing him easier," the girl explained. Childish rationalizations where usually the best. They were simple. Uncluttered by years of cynicism and heartbreak. Aedan's heart leapt a little at Katie's words, but she quashed the hope immediately. Jean Claude wanted nothing more from her than her powers. "Are you going to marry him?"

Aedan blinked. That question had been out of left field. "I... don't know, Katie. Our relationship is kind of complicated right now."

"I bet he'll marry you. He likes you enough to make you a princess. That means he likes you enough to want to marry you." Katie gave her a knowing look that was full of all the certainty a seven year old possessed. Aedan smiled at that. Then she watched as Katie turned and looked at her own headstone. How odd this must all be for her. One small hand reached out and took hold of a bouquet of flowers, dragged them closer so that Katie could look at them. Then she plucked a single stem from the bunch, a pale pink rose that had yet to blossom. Chances were good it never would. Much like Katie. The girl surprised her by turning and offering the rose to her. "Every princess needs a pretty flower. Thank you for coming to talk to me."

"Thank you, Katie. The flower is lovely. I'll treasure it always," Aedan replied as she flower from Katie's hand. She laid it across her lap, then reached into her bag and took hold of a folded piece of paper that she'd tucked in there before heading to the cemetery. She pulled it from the bag and carefully unfolded it. She offered it silently to Katie. "Do you see the man who hurt you?" she asked softly.

Katie hesitated a moment before taking the paper from her. Aedan watched as she studied it, her eyes going over the entire thing with great care. She finally nodded and put a finger against the paper. "This is the boy that hurt my mommy and daddy."

Aedan leaned over to look at the paper upside down so she could make note of the boy in question. Then Katie's finger moved and settled on another face. "And this is the girl who was with him."

Aedan stared a moment. "Are you sure?"

"Uh-huh," Katie nodded. "That's her. She's the one who pushed Daddy across the room."

"I see. Thank you, Katie. You've been a big help and I really appreciate it," Aedan replied. She tugged the paper out of Katie's hands, folded it up, and tucked it back into her bag. Silence fell between them, cold and uncomfortable. Katie glanced to the left and to the right, to the places where her parents had been buried. Then she glanced over her shoulder at her own grave. When she turned back to Aedan, her eyes were haunted.

"You're going to put me back now, aren't you?" she asked quietly. There was a trembling fear in her voice. It twisted something inside Aedan, made her look up at the night sky. Dawn was still a few hours off. And she certainly wasn't ready to return to the Circus. Not now. Maybe not ever.

"Not right yet. There's still time. We can sit for a while, if you like."

Katie nodded her head. "I'd like that a lot." She was silent a moment or two, her fingers twined in her lap. "Will you hold me? I'm scared."

It took everything in her to keep the tears from falling. Aedan silently moved the rose from her lap, then held her arms out toward Katie. The little girl got up on her knees and crept across the grass so that she could settle in Aedan's lap. She sat sideways, rested her head against Aedan's chest. Aedan folded her arms around the child and held her close. It was so wrong that she was the last person to hold Katie like this, that she was offering comfort to the girl. It should have been her mother. They shouldn't have died. If Aedan had been better. Faster. Something. If she'd stopped the killers before they'd gone after Katie and her parents, she wouldn't have needed to visit the cemetery in the middle of the night to raise the zombie of a little girl.

If it was the last thing she ever did, she would see Katie's killers paid in kind for their senseless brutality. Maybe she'd even be the one to do the torturing. It was the least they deserved. It was the least she could do.

The night crept by them silently, only the occasional sound from an insect or bird to remind them that there were other things alive in the cemetery that night. Aedan simply held Katie against her, one hand absently stroking the soft fall of the girl's hair. And the imagined every possible way she could visit violence upon the parties responsible. It was cold comfort, but it was comfort. It held the tears back, kept her from sobbing her heart out. She would find them. And she would kill them.

"What's your name?" Katie asked softly. She almost sounded sleepy. She lifted her head to look at Aedan. The fear was gone, replaced with resignation. It was entirely possible that that look was worse.

"Its Aedan. My name is Aedan."

Katie smiled. "Aedan. I like that. Aedan's a good name for a princess. You should go home and kiss your prince. Make him marry you and have lots of babies together. You can name one of them Katie and she'll look like me."

"I think I'd like that," Aedan replied.

"Its time for me to go back, isn't it?"

"Dawn is coming. I should let you go back to sleep before the sun comes up. I don't know if your family would be happy to come and find that I'd raised you without their permission." Katie nodded and accepted the explanation without comment. But she still remained seated in Aedan's lap. To be honest, Aedan was loathe to push her out so soon. Katie had helped her forget about her troubles. For just a little bit.

Katie remained motionless for a short while. Then she suddenly twisted around so that she faced Aedan and threw her arms around Aedan's neck. The hug was genuine, and filled with warmth. And Aedan's heart ached all over again for the girl. She hugged back, silent and sad and determined. "Thank you for coming to see me, Aedan. I'm ready to go back now."

She pulled free of Aedan's hold, rose to her feet and moved back toward the stone at the head of her grave. Aedan nodded, not sure she could trust her voice just yet. There was a lump in her throat and tears in her eyes and she hated herself so much in that moment. She reached into her bag one more time, pulled out a pale cream teddy bear with a big pink heart stitched to his chest. She held the toy out to Katie. "Someone to keep you company. And to protect you. So you won't be scared."

Katie said nothing, merely smiled and came back to collect the plush toy. She hugged it close, cradled it in her arms. "Thank you for being my friend, Aedan."

"Sleep now, Katie Harris. Return to your grave and sleep. Be at peace. No one will disturb you. I'll see to it. Sleep." Aedan pushed with her power and it was over in the blink of an eye. The ground swallowed Katie back up. Aedan was left with a lump in her throat and a hole in her heart. She picked up her rose and put it to her nose, took a deep breath and pulled the faint scent into her lungs. Then she broke the circle and began cleaning everything up.

"You look good with a kid in your arms. Maybe you should consider having one." His voice came out of the shadows and startled her so badly, she dropped both her bag and her rose. It took Aedan a moment to bring her emotions back under control, to make sure that her hands didn't shake when she bent down and retrieved her things again. When she looked up, Edward was only inches from her. He looked... concerned.

"You offering to get me pregnant?" she asked, threw every last bit of anger and determination she felt into her words. Edward chuckled and shook his head. "I didn't think so. What do you want?"

"Everyone's worried. You took off in a hurry and didn't say anything to anyone."

Aedan shrugged. Everyone meant Jean Claude. She didn't care if he was worried. "I'm a big girl. I can take care of myself."

He gave her a look that said he wasn't sure he believed that. Then he looked at the trio of graves behind her. "What were you doing here?"

"Getting information," she told him. She dug the paper out of her bag and shoved it into Edward's hands. "Katie named her killers." He opened it and pointed to one of the images on it.

"He's one of them."

"Yes. And she's the other," Aedan snarled before tapping a fingertip against the image of the girl Katie had indicated.

"Really? That's interesting. What's the plan?"

"Find them. And kill them. Both of them." There was not one ounce of emotion in her voice. Edward gave her a look, then let a smile crawl across his face.

"Well, well. Things are looking up."

(no subject)

Date: 2017-05-26 01:31 am (UTC)
cathryne: (Jean Claude 1)
From: [personal profile] cathryne
Holy freaking crap!

I don't know where to begin! There's SO much happening in all three of these chapters...I probably should've taken notes so I can sound semi-intelligent in commenting. *blush* My bad. ;)

But suffice to say I am intrigued and absolutely in awe of the breathtaking descriptions of the costumes and the gathering! (Amongst other descrips of course. ;) ) I could see it in my mind, kind of like something out of LoTR...*sighs wistfully*

I'm really in awe, also, of your ability to have a shitton of plot threads in one fic and somehow...somehow you're able to keep track and keep them together and tie them all in! I know I've told you that so many times before, but damn...it's really an impressive skill! :)

And oh shit....Aedan....Edward...someones better watch their backs. ;)

*applauds wildly*

SO worth the wait! xxoo!

(no subject)

Date: 2017-05-26 07:37 pm (UTC)
nanaeanaven: Dolls of all my sues (animated) (rhiannon)
From: [personal profile] nanaeanaven
First, before I forget again, your author's note says that this is the first chapter of the epic plot bunny. So did the previous two. Just fyi. No biggie.

Second: GOD DAMMIT, WOMAN! You made me cry. Break my heart with that little girl, why don't you. Jeez. *sniffles* The bit at the end with Edward hardly made up for it.

Third: How did NO ONE catch that asshole? Seriously. Vamps, shifters, Death ... how the frickin hell did he get away? Was everyone high? *sigh*

Excellent job, hon. Seriously. Totally worth the wait. :)
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