Through gasps of denied, hungry vanquished breaths, She sees Cosma's expression of disquiet turmoil, fretting silent witness - and - her eyes, settled on the arrogant, jagged, edges of the stake carelessly unloved upon the lavish loved ground.
And somewhere; someplace within her, that she claws through with unspoken deliverance to get to through the wild godhood of self preservation, because gods she can't breathe, she can't speak, she is a sailor in vengeful sea, yearning for home and for a moments peace in the untamed. Control is beastly and unheard of in this ghastly new reality. The sun - watchful and scornful, never an ally of her, does not step in to quell catastrophe - why would it? If not, to scream itself hoarse, and her into ash?
Somewhere in all of it - their eyes swim in a cataclysmic sea of golden and aqua; and shake in bombardments of irascible, unkempt, aggrieved absolution - as they linger in each other's vulgar terror.
Half, with and in yearning agony.
Kamilah knows that look; driven by panicked instinct - it is split violently in two; brief and accidental. Her mind, o' frenzied by the familiar struggle of the cusp of death, had been quick to understand - it was fleeting and fraught with delay, still gasping, starved like fish. There's but a moment - to see behind Gaius, his inflamed holy eyes, burning bright into the chasm of her aged lungs - her withered; unwithered kidneys - there is something that fixes itself, a decision that shouts, shivers, whispers.
She wasn't fast enough. She wasn't quiet enough. If she had just been smarter, more nimble...
She does not get to dissuade her - even if it was physically possible - given their current circumstance - logically it's godsent, the human had an opening, by all means it's the only option they have if any of them are to leave here alive, yet her mouth part - rosy lovers separated - in the beginnings of mouthing... mouthing what? She could utter a thousand warnings over a hundred centuries, and Cosma's stubborn determination would tower over all of them.
But by the middle of their departure Cosma has already crept; a demon in the daunted, hollow darkness, a horror in foggy unreality - and by her lips freezing into a moments rest - her pace has been promised into things more quickened - they do not rot in the death of speech; though they feel just as enviously, ruinously defeated - bleak - sublime in their watchful eye. Her feet are bare, her crimson o' bloodied heels, forgotten at some point in the ruckus, and - lord, she's close.
Cosma's feet dance upon the earth, in the ruthlessness of survival, enraged; a shout tears itself from her combusting, torn, teared, throat; only nearing him, does a cry, the feral freedom of the woods, personified, finally surface, unwavering, fateful, incensed! a gospel, in them. The stake moves, harmonious, with herself, time itself is unknown, unimportant, as it quivers and trembles, cowers - whether under the feet of Gaius, or the human, is unable to be determined - but it is murky, with sauntering, sweltering stillness. The brunette's eyebrows shoot upwards, in blind, battered, belief, the weapon raises, her grip, o' tightened, higher as it glares daggers into the back of Gaius' back, a kiss from the creation of his ash -
But he turns.
And Cosma stops running.
There's a ringing that resonates in her belly, bellowing badly in her body until it stumbled into her each ear, explosions in the growling skyline. For an inexplicable, egregious, second, she's sure the earth had stopped turning - Cosma does not move - does not persist or stay idle all the same in monstrous nothingness; has the galaxy endured blizzards? Has New York, ended? And she, herself, simply had yet to follow? Did she freeze over? Succumb to such terror that she forgot motion? Why had she stopped? Why had she -
There's a nauseating, prolonged squelch. A whimper.
And then she sees Jax's sword in his hand. Buried within, deepened and deep into the fabric of Cosma's staining tank top - and into her chest.
She can't hear it through the ringing; but feels her throat vibrates with a gutteral scream.
Cosma's face falls - previously, fueled with tenacious determination, now a flurry of confusion, brows, perplexed, squinted, rigid. There was a startled breath that exhaled itself from her lips, her golden head gradually fell downwards - a musty malcontent of denial - and in its descent was the desolation of discovery, the sorrow of a burnt up, bruised star - of bitter winter - as her eyes settled on the protruding blade in her body, mouth forming an 'O' shape.
They widened - morbidly comical; fluttering back up to Gaius - another throaty, pained gasp, animalistic, however, with her high pitched whine, blood bubbled up, seeping through the cracks of her lips, flooding them, invading their privacy and pride, streaming smoothly down her chin, dripping onto the blade below and impacting silver shades. The pointed edge of the sword peaks out from her back, dripping savagely, an abundance of divine violence onto the carpet, pieces of pink, plentiful, flesh sticking - devoted, onto it, a dreamlike nightmare of destiny.
"Nice try." Gaius smirks, brutal, barbaric. Her hearing evens out. The corners of his lips, twitching, as his grip on the hilt of the sword remains firm. His eyes glow, with newly gained, unfathomable power.
Her heart seethes. Her head clashes with knives and clanging drums. She can't move. She needs to move. She needs to move dammit, she needs to break free, why the hell couldn't she just fight this -
Cosma coughs, a splatter of blood trickling down her. The only thing holding her up is the sword. She stares into his eyes, vulnerable and unmoving.
But, there's no fear. There's a flash of something in her hand that Kamilah doesn't catch - too blinded by horror and desperation - that, barely above a whisper, struggled to be set free, she almost doesn't catch it.
"I don't... try.... I... win." She gasps.
Cosma's left arm rises, shooting up, her grip severe - insane and hysterically mad - a storm of adrenaline; the stake in her hand flying through the air - flying high, flying unseen -
And straight into Gaius' chest.
Her actions know consequence without delay - he staggers back - releasing his grasp on the sword, aghast and caught utterly off guard by the attack. He falls onto his throne like a ragdoll, spluttering angrily with panic and protest.
Where she expects him to crumble into pathetic ash, she is marred by surprise - as slowly - and with apparent agony, emerald vines begin to spread through his features, painful as they grow in his skin and fly out of it, his body cracking and reshaping horrifyingly, pops like a gunshot, and snaps, his bones crumbling and destroying themselves as limbs disappear one by one, transforming and fading until the only thing that remains is...
Her eyes gape at what sits on the copper throne. Strife, momentarily forgotten, as the power held over her, and the others, cease, her body once again hers. Merely staring in cautious, exhausted, bewilderment, at the stark white tree that remains, grand and imposing in his place.
Or, oh - god - was that Gaius now?
Whatever has just occured becomes of no importance - as, when her ears pick up the quiet gasp, low and slow, her head snaps, nearly enough to tear her head out of its socket entirely, the reality of what has just occured shooting into her and mixing with her born instincts of survival, a jolt in her heart that leaves her with a fleeting panic that she is somehow having a heart attack.
Cosma. Cosma. Cosma is - hurt - how dare - Cosma is - Cos-
Without the man's handle on the sword to steady her, the blonde has fallen to her knees, gaze fixed wearily and cloudy on the throne. Her upper lip works together with her bottom, to form a weak, sleepy, stained grin, scarred with relief, features far away and body soaked.
"We did it..." She whispers, pride laced in her voice. The stake slips from her hand, landing on the ground with a thud.
And then she falls forward.
Kamilah isn't fast enough to reach her before she lands in a slow forming puddle of her own blood. She doesn't pay attention to Jax's shouts, or Lily's hysterical screaming, just her. Just Her. All she needs to do is reach her, the human is persistently enduring, everything will be okay if she just -
She falls to her knees, ignoring how harsh the motion feels, ignoring how everything but this feels. It didn't matter. Oxygen was filled with the vivacious appetite of ego, personhood tiresome, petrifying and pus filled, filler filler background false this - no.
She grapples with the wet fabric of her - her - whatever, they were - of her shirt, handling her with unkind desperation, turning her over and onto her back.
"Cosma, no -"
Is that her voice? Is that what it sounds like? No she's more composed than that - whose is it? If not hers? Was it - was it hers? She hasn't sounded so - so... since her brother -
Her hands hover uselessly over the stab wound, over the sword inside of her as if there's anything possible to be gained from the action, and resigns herself to pulling her body onto her lap. She's too - she's too afraid, Kamilah is too afraid to pull it out of her - too much uncertainty in it, there isn't - there's so little goddamn time as it is -
Below her, Cosma apologizes. And through her own gracious willpower, she fights the urge to fall into fits of unrestrained hysterics, because she's just saved all their lives. What was there to be sorry about -
Something primal, something tiny, compels her to lower her olive forehead onto the other's - rushes and highs of contact, brushing up against the other. She can hear her breaths - crinkling, like paper, akin to asthma attacks, pained and patient. Her ears can hear - can hear how small her heartbeat feels.
Hundreds of years - hundreds of bloody years why hadn't she - why hadn't she learned some form of first aid -
But a part of her realizes - with unholy dawn, how useless any of it would be. What good would anything but a hospital do right now - God, there wasn't even one open -
A trickle - a prickle - glistened - glorious, penetrating, palpable. A blinding blink - Kamilah has not cried in one hundred years. She was stronger than any urge like that. And yet she does not wipe the challenger into murky, tainted, death
"Don't... cry... you... never cry..."
She bites down a strangled sob; overwhelmed by Cosma's comfort at a time like this. When she was...
When she was...
She knows the word. She reaches inward to the hollow chest of oblivion, trudging through blackened sky, the deathless night, the impossible sight of day, she reaches into the trees of knowledge, decorated by the sweets of oranges and savory fruits - and crushes it effortlessly - her hands, drenched in its juices. The tree, begging for mercy from this fate. The surrounding nature, but already bracing itself, not one to beg upon its bruised dirtied knees.
Cosma reaches for her. And Kamilah takes her hand, pushing it to her cheek. Unbothered by the red handprint that remains there. Her fingers were warm, honeyed with heat. A tingle, a sweetened yearning of finality. It wasn't enough. They didn't have the... they didn't have enough time. If she had been faster -
"I don't... want to... leave you."
Kamilah inhales sharply, like she's just been staked. Saying it made it real. She wasn't one to deny the truth but she wishes Cosma hadn't said that. She's... she's dying in her arms, right here and...
"Kamiliah, I... i'm cold... really cold..."
Cosma's eyes hold distance - sour with sudden rare apprehension, a crack in her tone, like sidewalks. She's gazing up at her, but yet is more focused on the ceiling just behind her. The vampire just nearly shoves off her blazer, in some frenzy to keep her warm.
Instead, she pushes her palm to her cheek, only then aware that her hands were drenched in blood. Her blood. It smells. It smells more than any blood Kamilah has ever smelled or tasted. It reeks. It repulsed her. It was pungent and evil, brutish and bastard. It stings her nostrils, gripping her throat and bites down upon her tongue, ripping into her flesh and crawling into it. Taunting and sneering. A would-be god on a lead tasting power trip, ivory and steel, wine and sex, foggy and flippant, noble and narcissistic. Emperors and kings. She wants to tear it into tiny pieces, until only the earth and her hardy flowers remained. She wants to destroy it.
Cosma's eyes keep losing their focus, briefly rolling backwards and regaining strength. If it weren't for Kamilah's help her hand wouldn't be able to stay put on her cheek. Her breaths were vicious, and menacing. An unspoken threat.
And - oh, Kamilah just knows.
In a whirlwind of discordant jumble, her breath quickened, her strength on Cosma's hand more than a bit dominating - but there's a horrible - oh, haunting noise escaping her. That feels like the beginning of something final. And she - it's so selfish but she needs to - needs to tell her before she - before she -
"Cosma, listen to me. You are strong." She states firm. As if strength, as if her tenacity, will defeat this. "You are brave. You are the most wonderful woman I have ever met."
She hated her. God did she hate her. She hated how easily Adrian listened to her. She thought of her as a... as a worm, a clever little worm earnestly longing to swim in the sea with famished, fanged fish that Adrian inexplicably cared for that would come back to bite him in the ass. Or even a fangirl. A human with an obsession for their kind born from tedious teenage romantic fiction and in over her head. But - she was - wrong. She's never - she's never met anyone like her before - she... she l-
"-And I love you..."
Halfway into the sentence, before she finishes, once again Cosma's throat crackles, like electricity, a merciless gurgle, but no blood comes up, dry yet watery. Her eyes roll, uncontrolled, untamed. They move around, whites showing, blinking sluggishly - until, finally the whites of her eyes disappear, and - they flutter shut.
They do not open again.
Cosma's face goes slack, her head rolling gently, falling to the side, Kamilah feels her hand go limp in her grip. She cuts herself off abruptly on the edges of the ending of 'love,' as if she's just been sucker punched by the sun. And stares, dumbfounded.
The weak, pulses of her heartbeat simmer until they no longer can be heard inside her chest.
She stares; and clenches her eyes shut; tight and screwed up. A flow of grief; her heart, unable to take such a reality, flips itself into feral knots. Her cheeks burned red with hot rage. Kamilah takes her palm, useless and still, lip trembling; letting them land on the lines of Cosma's hand, pressing them to it in a deep kiss, her sight blurring with fresh tears.
Behind her, Jax paces; swearing and shouting in rage profusely for twenty seconds. A ghastly, babbling, wail creeps its way out of Lily. Adrian is unnervingly silent, but tears streak down his cheeks. Bizarrely; a wave of guilt comes upon her, for so greedily solely taking up Cosma's final moments.
As in this was it. All her bravery. All her persistent survival. All her... all her Cosma-ness...
A thought sneaks into her; one that feels like a betrayal by just sitting inside of her. It's conjured from desperation. Sweet sweet desperate desperation. Something she shouldn't even think of; since Cosma wasn't... wasn't... present to decide for herself if it should happen. But they did not stop him, stop Gaius, just for... this. If this was victory; if this was savoured, swaggered, self preservation - she did not want it. She wanted eagerly to have lost. To fumble like a baby deer, to crumble with lost glory. If this was victory it did not taste like such.
Cosma is a hero. Sometimes the hero died. Sometimes they lived.
Sometimes they come back.
But she realizes once she thinks of it that there's no other option she can choose; that once it lives inside of her that reality is the only choice for it.
A beat. The air is inflamed by mourning and bitter semblances of peace.
Kamilah stirs, biting her wrist, drawing blood. It is not unnoticed, as both Jax and Lily get closer.
"Kamilah... what are you doing?" Adrian asks, something weary in his tone, thick with defeat and... nervous?
"Saving her." She replies, gruff.
Adrian's voice is tired. Stricken with a sea of emotion. His eyes are puffy, suit ruffled as, hesitantly, he nears her. There's a hollowness she hasn't seen on him in centuries - of course there is, she was under his protection. She doesn't spare him a long glance.
"Don't you dare try and dissuade me." She warns, venomous, pulling the blonde more securely onto her lap. There's a higher power in her ice. One made from the blood, of every enemy that she's surpassed over the years. But it's never been delivered to Adrian before. She needs to move quickly. "Don't even dare."
"Do it." Behind her, Jax speaks, arms crossed and gaze everywhere else but on the body cradled in her arms. "Please, just..." He trails off.
"Kamilah... I... really don't know if you should..."
"Oh - god -" Lily's voice cuts through his persuasion, in a seriousness she had never heard from the other's mouth before. It's primal. "please, please just - please, I need her, I want my friend; I need... just... do it. Please - I need her."
"I... I understand... I do too... but -"
"If you don't I will." Lily bites back with defensiveness, putting herself in a position as if she was waiting for Kamilah to obey Adrian. Her eyes are drenched, angered and pained.
Their bickering is the last thing she needs right now. The last thing Cosma needs. She can't think. She needs to think. She understands why Adrian is apprehensive, but she'd like it if they would all shut up. The wound from her bite has already healed, and she's forced to make another one. But Adrian doesn't protest any further.
She props up Cosma's lifeless body with one leg, using one hand to cradle the back of her head safely. She brings her blood up to the woman's mouth, helping it fall into her throat. Pensive as she sits there, grazed by grueling wait as she gets what she can into her.
A moment. As she pulls back. That turns into four. And then eight.
A hush falls over the room. Anxiously, the four of them watch her features for any sign of... anything. Her tears have subsided in the blind hope that she has just saved her life.
Oh, she thinks. This had to be like the movies. Those flimsy, cliche movies. The ones where they seemed destined to stay dead... and then...
But nothing happens.
Cosma stays still.