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all i've ever known is how to hold my own (but now i wanna hold you, too)

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You feel nothing. 

 

As Anacostia releases you from the depths of Fort Salem, you realize that. You try to dig deep into the nothingness that is your heart, to try and find some feeling of relief or gratefulness towards Anacostia. The woman who risked her life to save you but you can’t. 

 

Your best guess is that your emotions left the same time that Raelle did. 

 

You light the match and it burns under your skin, and then you become someone else. 

 

-

 

When you find out Willa Collar is alive, you finally feel something. It’s anger-always anger-but you are not too sure who it’s directed at. 

 

First you believe it’s directed at Willa, for leaving her daughter in such pain and misery. For making Raelle think that her life was worthless. For making you lie and deceit her, making Raelle hate you. 

 

You. You. You. 

 

You realize that anger that you feel as you spit insult after insult at Willa, that that anger, which is white, hot, and burning through your left hand. 

 

Yeah, that anger. It’s at yourself. It’s at this moment you realize that you’ve really fucked up. 

 

All you can think of is Raelle and the way she looked at you in the dark, murky cage. You can still feel the chill, still smell the mushrooms. 

 

She looked at you as if she hated you. She probably hates you. She hates you

 

You collapse right there on the kitchen floor. 

 

-

 

A letter comes for you that night on your windowsill. 

 

Meet me at the coffee shop at 9 am, don’t be late. 

 

You’re there the next morning at eight forty five. You bounce your leg nervously and check your wristwatch every second. 

 

“Don’t look behind you.” The sharp tone of voice makes you smirk in your own form of relief.

 

“I was expecting a hug, maybe a gift basket. Let me just say I am thoroughly disappointed.” 

 

“I’ll bring you one next time.” You can hear relief in her tone as well. It surprisingly fills you with unexpected warmth to hear Anacostia worried about you. 

 

“The Bellweather unit was deployed to Tarim.” 

 

Your heart drops to your stomach and terror seizes your body. You clear your throat but your voice still sounds hoarse. 

 

“When? 

 

“A couple days ago.” 

 

You don’t say anything. Anacostia takes this as a cue to keep talking. 

 

“The Carmilla ambushed them and-” Anacostia cuts herself. Probably to keep herself together you think, but you don’t know because all you can think about is Raelle right now. 

 

“Craven was the only one to make it back.” 

 

Your head falls to your hands as uncontrollable sobs rack your body. Anacostia seems to forget that you two are enemies and comes to hug you from behind. You know that everybody is staring at you in the coffee shop but you can bring it in yourself to care. 

 

You know giving up felt like, you felt it when you were in that garage and could hear your parents screams of pain. You felt it when Raelle told you she regretted you two ever meeting. And you feel it now like an ocean wave washing over you again and again. 

 

Only if that wave was like a tsunami and felt like grief. 

 

-

 

You tell Willa as soon as you get back to the safehouse. No matter how mad you are at her, Raelle is her daughter and she deserves to know. 

 

She looks at you as if she can’t believe it, tears shimmering in her eyes. And oh , it hurts because those are Raelle’s eyes. Tears fall down your cheeks, unable and not caring to stop them. 

 

Willa takes a few steps forward and gathers you in her arms. Your knees go weak as you collapse into them. You clutch her shoulders like a lifeline because you are scared of what will happen if you let go. 

 

I love her repeats in your mind like a mantra.

 

-

 

There's a funeral. Or a military funeral you should say. 

 

You go, but you stand back by the treeline not to be spotted. 

 

“You’re not supposed to be here.” A voice behind you says.

 

“I’m getting a weird sense of deja vu here.” You snark as you look around at the settings. 

 

Raelle’s picture hangs front and center, staring back at her, almost taunting her. 

 

Why did you go? Why didn’t you take me with you? 

 

“Anybody could see you.” 

 

“I’m willing to take that risk. I have nothing else to lose.” 

 

You turn to Anacostia, see the same pain reflected in her eyes. You look back out into the crowd and spot Raelle’s father. Your heart aches for him, even though he is standing by the casket, you can see the tears streaming down his cheeks. He looks broken beyond repair, like you are. 

 

Just like you

 

A civilian just like a witch. 

 

You chuckle at the irony. 

 

“There are rocks in the caskets.” 

 

A beat. Then you turn to look at Anacostia, disbelief fills your body along with a little bit of hope, but you force it down when you take a gulp of fresh air. The air smells like mushrooms.

 

“What?” 

 

“A team was since out to look at the aftermath and to retrieve the bodies-” 

 

Anacostia winces at the last word. 

 

“But nothing was found, just dirt and rocks. No Collar and Bellweather.” 

 

“And you think-” 

 

“I think that they could still be out there.” 

 

You almost breathe a sigh of relief, but then you turn up to the podium and see Tally standing there. She looks old and withered, hair white and frown prominent.  Your heart drops to your stomach. 

 

“Does Tally know this?” 

 

“I can’t give her false hope.” 

 

“But you can with me.” 

 

Anacostia sighs and you roll your eyes in annoyance. 

 

“It’s not like that. When Tally gave her life up, she linked with Alder, so anything I tell her-” 

 

“It’s like you are telling Alder.” You finish the sentence for her. 

 

Anacostia smiles compactly. 

 

“Exactly.” 

 

Alder begins to walk up to the podium to give the speech. You see Tally search the crowd and her eyes catch yours. 

 

“I have to go.”

 

You turn to left, but Anacostia catches your wrist in a firm grip. 

 

“Don’t tell Willa.” 

 

Your eyes go wide.  “Anacostia, that’s her daughter-” 

 

“I know, but it is too risky.” 

 

“She can help us. I know she can, she would want to-” 

 

“Scylla, it’s bad enough that I dragged you into this. I cannot risk another Spree knowing what I am telling you right now. It’s classified information.” 

 

You feel your gaze harden. 

 

“I messed up with Raelle. I know I did. I lied to her, manipulated her, and broke her.” 

 

You stop speaking for a minute when you feel tears begin to fill your eyes. 

 

“But I love her. I love her so much . I’ve already lost so many people to this war, Anacostia, Willa has too. She deserves to know that her daughter could still be out there, so I am going to tell her, whether you want me to or not. Because even if Raelle hates every fiber of my being, I am going to get her back to her mother. Because I know that if it was the other way around, she would do the exact same thing for me. Because that is the kind of person she is and that is the kind of person I am trying to be .” 

 

And with that you walk back into the woods, your heart broken and full at the same time. 

 

-

 

You tell Willa the minute you get to the safehouse.

 

She just stands there for a minute before sitting down on the coach in the living room, a perplexed expression on her face. You sit down next to her, but you make sure not to sit too close. 

 

“Are you sure?” She asks you in a hoarse voice. 

 

You shrug. 

 

“I don’t know.” 

 

You lean your elbows on your knees and put your face in your hands. 

 

“I just-I want to believe it.” 

 

You look back at her, despair evident in both of your eyes. 

 

“I have to believe it.” Your voice cracks. 

 

Willa nods and gets up. 

 

You stay there for a minute before going upstairs to take a shower to rise the scent of fucking mushrooms off of you.

 

No matter how many times you scrub yourself clean, the scent of mushrooms seems to linger, festering with the blood on your hands. 

 

-

 

You don’t sleep anymore. 

 

It’s been weeks but you can’t remember a time when you have slept for more than a few hours. 

 

You spend your time talking with Anacostia and Willa, trying to get a grasp of a theory of how Raelle and Abigail made it out alive. 

 

If. If. If

 

Anacostia keeps saying, but you can’t believe in an if , you have to believe in an how

 

That how is what keeps you going through book after book about everything from sirens in the fucking sky to mushrooms in the fucking ground. 

 

That how is what keeps you from breaking down and screaming, destroying everything and everyone in your path. 

 

That one fucking word is your lifeline right now. 

 

You hold onto that word like you used to hold onto Raelle in the depths of the night. 

 

-

 

You finally get a break when Anacostia tells you about a news article written in China about two American soldiers saving a village from a forest fire. 

 

Hope fills every bone in your body. 

 

“Do you think it was them?” 

 

Anacostia is quiet for a while, picking at the lid of her coffee cup.  

 

“Alder is sending out a team this Thursday.” 

 

“You have to get there before them.” 

She looks up at you, your eyes meet. She cracks a small smile. 

 

“You mean we have to get there before them.” 

 

All you can smell is mushrooms. 

 

Seriously do these fucking things live inside you or something. 

 

-

 

You go that night. 

 

Anacostia sneaks Willa and you on base. While Anacostia was more than surprised when Willa showed up with you, she chose not to say anything. 

 

Strength in numbers you’re guessing. 

 

What surprises you the most is when you get to the aircraft carrier and see Tally, young and reformed, standing there along with a boy with black hair as well as a young girl. 

 

The girl speaks up first. 

 

“Scylla Ramshorn.” 

 

You look at her with a questionable look.

 

“How do you know my name?” 

 

The girl shrugs. 

 

“You are important, so I remembered your name.” 

 

You stare at her for a minute before Anacostia breaks the silence by handing you a medpack. 

 

What the hell have you gotten yourself into. 

 

-

 

You can’t sleep on the carrier, but it’s not like you try either. 

 

Tally keeps looking at you. You can feel her eyes watching your every move, tracking you as you when you walk back and forth across the space. It finally annoys you enough to say something about it. 

You rest your head up against the wall with your eyes closed, but you can still feel her stare across from you. 

 

“You can take a picture, I heard those will last longer. Probably not as good as magic will though.” 

 

You crack your eyes open with a smirk. She looks at you like a deer caught in headlights. 

 

Only for a moment though before her gaze hardens into something more angrier. 

 

“What’s your deal?” 

 

You cock your head at her as if to challenge her. 

 

“You made her feel broken, worthless, used, manipulated. And now what? What do you think is going to happen? You’re going to bring her mom to her and you guys can be all happy again.” 

 

You lean your arm on your knee that is propped up.

 

“I know what I did.” 

 

She looks at you with such bold rage that you have to turn away as not to be blinded by it. 

 

“I could never have done what you did. To give you life up at a moment's notice to someone that I am not sure even deserves it.” 

 

You turn back to her to see that her gaze has now turned to confusion. 

 

“I thought about that alot. Why you did what you did, but I could never get a solid answer.” 

 

“Maybe I am just good.” 

 

You lean forward. 

 

“Yes, because that is the real, solid answer, Tally. You are good, selfless, loyal and bold to do that for a monster .” 

 

You turn to look away again, you don’t want to see the gratitude in her eyes. You don’t deserve it. 

 

“I couldn’t do that though because I’m none of those things. I could only be all of those things for one person.” 

“Raelle.” Tally’s answer is instant. 

 

You nod your head. 

 

A beat. A moment of silence between the two of you. 

 

“You’re pretty selfless for doing this though.” 

 

You smile and close your eyes. 

 

An olive branch. 

 

A common ground is forged between you both. 

 

You lean your head back and suck in the scent of mushrooms.

 

-

 

You land outside of a small village the next night. 

 

Anacostia decides to split up in groups to ask around the village about strange occurrences. 

 

You go with Khaldia and Tally, which would’ve been fine if Khaldia wasn’t eyeing you the whole time. 

 

Seriously, what is with these people and their staring?

 

“What?” You finally crack as you all walk from house to house. 

 

“I can’t figure out your priorities.” 

 

“Yeah, me neither.” 

 

“Really?” 

 

You look down to see her genuinely curious stare. 

 

You chuckle. So wise, so pure

 

“It was a joke, kid.” 

 

“Oh.” 

 

A moment passes as you wait for Tally to finish up talking with the group in front of you. 

 

“You’re not very good at them.” 

 

“At what?”

“Jokes.”

 

For some reason, that gets you to throw your head back and laugh. A big laugh that gets Tally’s attention from the group she was sharing information with. 

 

Khaldia chuckles too, her grin wide and bright. 

 

For a moment, it feels good

 

You stop laughing after Tally comes back and berates you two for being too loud. You all continue walking.

 

“Raelle’s my main priority.” 

 

You don’t look at Khaldia, but you see her nod and that’s enough

 

In that moment, it’s enough

 

-



You find them. 

 

Anacostia gets news that the two ‘saviors’ are in a hut up east towards the river. 

 

You trek all night and day, arrive at the hut at the break of dawn. 

 

You see the light on.

 

You grip Willa’s hand tightly, feeling the shake of both your hands. 

 

“Collar, Bellweather!” Anacostia yells strongly, but you can hear the shake in her tone. 

 

The door opens and you see her. 

 

Raelle

 

She is wearing some dirty work pants and a wrinkled button up with stains, her boots have holes in them. Abigail comes after her, wearing the same outfit.

 

Raelle’s eyes dart around, trying to make focus of the group. 

 

She doesn’t see you and you think that it's a good thing.

 

Raelle’s eyes find her mother’s and she sprints. 

 

Goddess , you’ve never seen her run that fast. 

 

You watch as she collapses in her mother’s arms with a sob, you have to look away because you feel you’ve interrupted a private moment. 

 

You look at Tally and Abigail hugging tightly, Adil waiting patiently to the side. 

 

You feel Anacostia’s presence beside you, she nods to Raelle and Willa embracing tightly. 

 

“You did that.” The pride in her voice is apparent. 

 

“I didn’t.” 

 

Anacostia turns to intervene, but you won’t hear it. You can’t hear it. 

 

“I’m going to start back to the carrier. We have to leave soon to not run into Alder’s team.” 

 

You realize in that moment Raelle isn’t yours .

 

You’re only hers

 

You turn back as you feel Raelle’s gaze burn into the back of your head. 

 

Your left hand burns so much that it goes numb. 

 

You take your first step back as the scent of mushrooms gets stronger with every step you take. 

 

-

 

The trip back is something .

 

You try to blend into the background because if you can’t do anything else right, you can at least do that. You’re good at that.

 

You’re a dodger after all. 

 

You try to pretend like you’re sleeping when the rest of the group gets back.

 

“Hey, kid, wake up.” You can feel Willa’s hand on your shoulder, shaking gently. 

 

You open your eyes to see her smiling widely, Raelle’s smile. Your chest aches. 

 

“Look who’s back.” 

 

You look behind to see Raelle, her gaze is unreadable. You stand up and smile tightly. 

 

She hates you. She hates you. She hates you

 

“Welcome back.” 

 

The air is suffocating with the scent of mushrooms, you taste them in your mouth. You want to throw up. 

 

She smiles back just as withdrawn. 

 

“Thank you.” 

 

“Ramshorn, up here with me.” Anacostia calls out from the cockpit. 

 

You ignore Willa’s confused gaze and Raelle’s indecipherable one and climb up to the cockpit where Anacostia regards you with curious eyes. 

 

“Thank you.” 

 

“Are you okay?” Her voice is soft and motherly. You don’t deserve it. 

 

You did this. She hates you. You did this . She hates you

 

You look to Anacostia and nod. 

 

“Fine.” 

 

The scent of mushrooms is about to swallow you whole. 

 

-

 

You arrive at the base the next night. Anacostia sings a seed to make the guards unconscious. It was decided that the Beweather unit, Khadlia, and Adil would accompany Willa and you back to the safehouse where they would stay there until further notice from Anacostia. 

 

Anacostia walks with them until they hit a clearing in the woods. 

 

One by one the girls say their goodbyes, you’re last. 

 

“Thank you for giving me a fighting chance.” 

 

Anacostia shrugs with soft eyes and a teasing smile. 

 

“You deserved it.” 

 

“I don’t know about that.” 

 

You regard each other for a moment before Anacostia does something unexpected. 

 

She steps forward and wraps her arms around you. It takes you a little bit, but after the shock wears off, you hug her back just as tighty. 

 

Her embrace is soft and warm, it makes tears spring to your eyes. Nobody has hugged you like this since your mother

 

“Remember Scylla, you do deserve it.” 

 

You know she’s not talking about the second chance. 

 

You sigh and put your head in the crook of her neck, squeezing once, twice, and then a third time before letting go. 

 

-

 

It’s weird

 

Yeah, that’s a word for it.

 

It’s weird walking on eggshells with the person that you’re in love with. A person who hates you. 

 

 It’s heartbreaking. 

 

Yeah, that’s more like it. 

 

-

 

You stay in your room most of the time, only coming out to eat or drink. That’s another thing you do now is get drunk up on the rooftop every night, looking up at the stars. 

 

You memorized her footsteps. You did a long time ago when things were good, you memorized a lot of things about her. 

 

Like how she smiles in the morning; she only snores when she’s on her back; she only takes sugar with coffee; she pants softly when you trail kisses along her pulse; she hums when you run your hand through her hair. You play these memories back at night when you can’t sleep. 

 

Most nights. 

 

Sometimes you dare to think of the things she memorized about you. If she plays the memories of you back on nights she can’t sleep. 

 

Most nights you don’t want to know the answer. Other nights you just want to sleep. All nights you just want the fucking scent of mushrooms scrub clean from you. 

 

 

One night, Abigail comes up to visit you on the roof. 

 

Which is fucking shocking and kind of scary. 

 

“Well, ain’t this the biggest pity party i've ever seen.” She says as she grabs the bourbon from your hands and takes a huge swing.

 

“Surely you have thrown some.” You snark back as she comes to sit down next to you. 

 

You two sit in silence for awhile, sharing swings of the bourbon. When she talks, it’s in a low tone as if she’s questioning herself. 

 

“She misses you.” 

 

You laugh and take another swing of the bourbon because it’s just so cruel

 

I thought we said the word was heartbreaking? 

 

Well, it’s cruel too, fuck off. 

 

“Really? Has she told you that?” You turn towards her, but she looks off in the distance. 

 

Another moment of silence. Abigail speaks again. 

 

“That day in Tarim, when she-” She stops and rethinks her words. 

 

“When I linked with her, I saw her last moments before the bomb went off.”

You don’t say anything, just pick at the label of the bourbon. 

 

“Her last moments were of you.” 

 

You look up and shake your head at her. You can’t hear this because it’s just cruel of Abigail to come up here and make you hope. 

 

Would it be heartbreaking too-

 

No, it’s fucking cruel. 

 

“No, Abigail. You don’t get to do that, okay. She deserves better. She deserves someone with no baggage, no issues, no lies, no heartbreak. She deserves someone better .” 

 

You say the last word with an emphasis because it’s true and it’s heartbreaking. 

 

There, I said it, happy? 

 

“You really do love her.” She says in some realization. 

 

You don’t say anything for a while.

“I’m sorry about your parents.” 

 

You turn to look at her, she regards you with sympathetic eyes. 

 

An olive branch. 

 

“I’m sorry about Charvel.” 

 

“You didn’t kill her.” 

 

“You didn’t kill my parents.” 

 

You regard each other for a moment before both of you let out a soft chuckle. 

 

The moon gazes down on the both of you. 

 

-

 

You finally have a real conversation with her on a Tuesday. 

 

You get your first mission in several months; you have to get onto the base and contact Anacostia. 

 

Willa assigns you and Raelle to do it together. 

 

When she says this, the air out of the room is sucked out. 

 

“Well, this be a problem?” 

 

You and Raelle both shake your heads. 

 

Well fuck. 

 

-

 

You set out around early morning to get there by night as to not alert other soldiers. 

 

You drive and Raelle sleeps, or at least pretends to. 

 

For a moment you pretend that you’re a couple going on a road trip or on their honeymoon. It fills your heart with a bit of warmth to think that. But the warmth is replaced with cold when you remember you haven’t spoken in months. 

 

That’s fucking heartbreaking. 

 

-

 

You finally arrive at the tree clearing, you both sit on the trunk of the car. The space between you is holding all the things you can and can’t say. 

 

“How have you been?” Raelle breaks the silence, but then shakes her head at her question. 

 

You let out a soft chuckle because you can’t help it because it’s awkward and heartbreaking , but it’s just so Raelle

 

You don’t answer the question though, you can’t. 

It doesn’t matter because Anacostia crashes through the trees, looking panicked. 

 

“They followed me!” She calls out to you and Raelle. 

 

As if on cue, other witches crash out of the trees and start making their way towards you. 

 

You hum a low seed that makes the earth vibrate beneath you. 

 

You dodge their scourges when they get thrown at you. 

 

And when you windstrike the last one, another one pops behind you as you turn around and slashes your torso. 

 

It’s not deep you know that, but it still makes you cry out in pain.

 

“Scylla!” Raelle screams for you in panic. 

 

She runs to you and tries to put her hand on your wound, but you swat them away. 

 

You ignore her hurt gaze and scream for Anacostia to get in the car. 

 

You climb in the back and try not to cry everytime Raelle looks at you. 

 

-

 

As soon as you get back to the safehouse, you go to your room and start to dress your wound. 

 

It hurts like a bitch, but it’s better you than her. 

 

You’re wrapping it when your door opens. 

 

It’s Raelle, fury in her presence is evident as well as confusion.

“Why wouldn’t you let me heal you?” She eyes the blood already seeping through your wrap. 

 

You scoff and pull your shirt down. 

 

“It’s fine, you don’t have to heal me for a tiny slash.”

 

“That’s not a tiny slash, Scylla.”

 

“Seriously, Raelle, it’s fine.” 

 

“No, it’s not. Why?” 

 

“Why what?” 

 

Raelle rolled her eyes. 

 

“Don’t be difficult.” 

 

“I’m not being difficult, I just don’t want you to heal me.” 

 

You bite back a wince.

 

“Scyl, you’re in pain, let me heal it.” 

 

“No.” 

 

“Scylla-” 

 

“No.” 

 

Raelle makes a move to come closer and that’s when you lose it.

 

“No! I don’t want you to heal me because I don’t want you to link with me and feel what I have to feel!” 

 

Raelle steps back at your outburst, her gaze filled with confusion and hurt. 

 

Don’t say anything else. 

 

You sigh and rub a hand down your face. 

 

“I don’t want you to feel numb.” 

 

Stop talking. 

 

“I don’t want you to feel broken.” 

 

Stop .

 

“I don’t want you to feel like you’re in love with someone who hates you with every fiber of their being.” 

 

You see tears streaming down Raelle’s cheeks and you want to wipe them away, but you can’t because she isn’t yours

 

“You shouldn’t have to feel like that, I don’t want you to feel like that, okay? I deserve it, but you-” Your voice cracks. “You don’t deserve that.” 

 

You hang your head and just sob because you feel like that’s all you can do right now is cry. 

 

You hear Raelle’s footsteps come closer until you feel her arms wrap around your waist tightly. Without a moment’s hesitation,  you wrap your arms around her neck and bury  your face into her neck, inhaling the scent of pine, sweat, and Raelle

 

Her warm embrace is what makes you break down entirely. 

 

At some point, she lulls you to sleep. You feel her place you gently down on your bed and place a blanket over you. You feel her gaze on you while she strokes your hair. You feel her place a kiss to your forehead.

 

Your heart might burst. 

 

“I don’t hate you. I could never hate you even if I tried.” You hear her murmur as she goes back to stroking your hair, lulling you into a deep sleep. 

 

Best sleep you’ve had in a long time. 

 

-

 

Things get better after that. 

 

You and Raelle don’t talk daily, but you do talk. You spend time together with the other girls, but never alone together. 

 

You both don’t think you’re ready for that, at least you thought you weren’t. 

 

Raelle surprises you when she climbs up to the rooftop with a bottle of moonshine in her hand and a cheeky smile. 

 

“I heard that this was the finest nightclub in town.” 

 

You chuckle and play along. 

 

“Oh yes, but you have to have a password to get in.” 

 

Raelle rubs her chin, pretending to be in deep thought. 

 

“Can the owner be persuaded just this once?” 

 

“Okay fine, but just this once.” 

 

She smiles and sits down next to you. The warmth where your shoulders touch radiates throughout your entire body.

 

You don’t talk, just trade laughs when one of you coughs on a strong gulp on the moonshine. 

 

“I didn’t know about your mother.” You confess in a moment of silence because it is tearing you up inside and Raelle must know this. 

 

She looks at you and opens her mouth to talk, but you keep speaking. 

 

“I swear, Raelle, if I knew it was her, I would’ve told you. I-” 

 

She wraps her arm around your shoulder, silencing you in her embrace.  

 

“I know you would’ve. I know.” 

 

You pull away just a little bit. 

 

Her eyes go to your lips and then you both are leaning in.

 

It’s different

 

There’s a warmth that radiates from it and it fills your body up with purpose and love. 

 

You don’t know if you deserve it, but the fuck if you care anymore. 

 

You just care about her. 

 

You pull away to place your forehead against Raelle’s. 

 

She lets out a small chuckle, you can feel it vibrate against your lips.   

 

She looks at you like you hung the moon and all the stars in the sky. 

 

You take a breath of fresh air and are surprised to smell no mushrooms, just the midnight air. 

 

You feel love.    












  

















Chapter Text

You don’t address the kiss. 

 

Well, not at first. 

 

Actually, fuck it, you don’t address it at all. 

 

It’s not like you wished it never happened, you are glad that it did. Now you know that she doesn’t hate you. 

 

If a person hated you, they wouldn’t have kissed you like she did. 

 

If a person hated you, they wouldn’t have walked you back to your room like she did. 

 

If a person hated you with all of their might, they wouldn’t have looked at you like she did, like you hung all the stars in the sky. 

 

A person who hates you doesn’t do that stuff, right? 

 

Right? 

 

Hell if I know. 

 

 

You don’t actually get to talk the next day. 

 

Well, you don’t know if you were going to anyway because while you are getting better at communicating, it’s still weird and awkward. 

 

It still hurts because a person that you once shared everything with is scared to even breath the same oxygen as you. 

 

But you won’t say that outloud because it hurts more than you would like to admit. 

 

Where were you? 

 

Oh yeah, talking. 

 

You don’t get to talk because Willa sends you out on a mission with Anacostia, who is apparently working with you or something. 

 

You don’t know who’s side she is on, all that you know is that you can trust her. 



That’s all you can do these days. 

 

But Willa sends you and her out to Pittsburgh to rescue a family. 

 

Because apparently you are just fucking saviors to everybody now. 

 

Tally sweeps you up in a tight hug before you go the next morning, you chuckle at her warm embrace, but you hug back. 

 

Abigail nods to you with an affable smile. 

 

“Try not to get into too much trouble, Necro.” She snarks, but you can hear the warmth lacing her tone. 

 

“Try not to burn the house down, High Atlantic.” You finish with a smirk, making her chuckle and nod. 

 

Raelle comes up next to you. 

 

You feel the mood shift into something serious. 

 

You look into her eyes and are surprised to see nothing but concern in them. 

 

Maybe a little bit of love as well. 

 

You’re fucking pushing it at this point. 

 

Before you can dissect any further, Raelle wraps you up in a tight embrace that has you clutching the back of her flannel. 

 

There’s nothing you can do at this point, but just bury your face into her neck and inhale her scent of pine and sweat. 

 

Thank god it’s not mushrooms. 

 

Seriously, I will fucking kill you. 

 

“Be safe, okay.”

 

You nod your head even though you know it’s not a question. 

 

At least you know she doesn’t hate you. 

 

Yeah, the jury’s still out on that one. 

 

-

 

“How are you adjusting to the Spree lifestyle? Have you gotten your first lighter yet?” 

 

You relish in Anacostia’s answering laugh.

 

“I’m not adjusting to anything.” 

 

You look at her confused, she must notice because she laughs again. 

 

“I’m not. I’m just staying because I know it’s safer for me here than anywhere else.” 

 

You take a long swig of your water before answering. 

 

“Still questioning Alder, are we?” 

 

“You have no idea.” 

 

“Tell me.” 

 

She looks at you for a minute, probably deciding if you are serious or not. 

 

You are serious.

 

 You trust Anacostia and if something is burdening her, you would like to know. 

 

You love her. 

 

Shut up. 

 

“How are you and Collar?” 

 

You laugh at the sudden change in subject. 

 

“Nice deflection.” 

 

She sputters and somehow that makes you laugh harder. 

 

“It’s a genuine question. I saw that hug.” 



“We’re friends, if that.” 

 

I still don’t know if she hates me or not. 

 

“Oh come on.” 

 

“I’m serious. End of story.” 

 

Except the story is nowhere near closed. 

 

Anacostia places a hand up as if in surrender. The conversation goes quiet for a couple of minutes. 

 

“You deserve it.” 

 

You raise your eyebrows up at her in question. 

 

“Happiness.” 

 

You hum. 

 

“We’ll see.” 

 

You don’t deserve it . You don’t deserve her

 

“I’m glad you’re back.” 

 

“Yeah, I’m glad I’m back too.” 

 

“Don’t let other people hear you say that, they might think that you have emotions.” 

 

Her laugh fills up the hole in your heart where your mother’s laugh used to be. 

 

-

 

You get to the house at nighttime.

 

You see it before Anacostia does, the front door kicked it. 

 

Your heart drops

 

“We’re too late.” 

 

Anacostia looks over at you, confusion is in the first thing you see in her eyes and then a look of understanding flashes across them. 

 

She nods her head. You both step out of the car. 

 

You smell the mushrooms in the air. 

 

Fuck. 

 

 

Anacostia pushes the door open and the revolting smell of death hits you straight in the face. 

 

Water fills your eyes and you cough. 

 

 You have to cover your nose with the collar of your shirt to get away from it. You see Anacostia do the same thing before heading further into the house. 

 

You first see a body of a man on the couch, half off-half on, blood covers most of his shirt and his jeans. 

 

He kind of looks like your father. 

 

Shut up, he’s bald. 

 

Yeah, but he has the same glasses. 

 

“Ramshorn.” 

 

You turn to Anacostia, who regards you with soft eyes. 

 

You don’t deserve it. You don’t deserve it. You don’t deserve it

 

“You okay?” 

 

You nod and swallow down the bile rising in your throat.

 

You walk past her, ignoring her questioning stare. 

 

You walk into the kitchen where there is another dead body face down on the kitchen.




This time it’s a woman, red covering the back of her blouse and dripping down on the tile floor. 

 

It looks like your mom. 

 

You can’t even see her face. 

 

Yeah, but she has the same hair. 

 

“Ramshorn, come take a look at this.” 

 

You take one last look at the woman before heading back into the living room where Anacostia stands with a photo in her hands. 

 

You take it from her. 

 

It has the man and the woman that are laying dead around you in it, they’re smiling. It also has a little girl about six years old in it. 

 

She looks like you. 

 

She has blonde hair and brown eyes. 

 

Yeah, but she has the same smile. 

 

“Where’s the girl?” 

 

“I’ll check upstairs and you check down.” 

 

You nod and continue your search around the kitchen. 

 

Ignoring the dead bodies surrounding you. 

 

The air smells like death and mushrooms. 

 

-

 

You search for thirty minutes before Anacostia comes back down, breathless. 

 

“She’s not up there.” 

 

“Well, she’s not down here either.” 

 

“Do you think they-” Anacostia cuts off her own sentence.

 

You shake your head. 

 

But then suddenly, it dawns on you. 

 

You head straight for the garage. 

 

Deja vu, huh? 

 

Shut the fuck up.

 

-

 

You see her straight away, tucked underneath a work desk, curled into herself. 

 

You walk closer, but you keep your footsteps light.

 

She’s already scared though, her brown eyes wide in fear and her knees tucked into her chest. 

 

“Hi.” You crouch down to get to her level. 

 

You focus on the bunny she has clutched in her hands. 

 

“What’s your bunny’s name?” 

 

She looks at you for a moment before speaking. 

 

“Apollo.” Her tone is soft but you can still hear the fear behind it. 

 

Your heart aches. 

 

“That’s a nice name. My name is Scylla.” 

 

Her eyes light up.

 

“Like the sea monster?” 

 

You laugh and nod.

 

“Exactly like the sea monster.” 



“What’s your name?” 

 

The girl looks down at her bunny, playing with its arms. 

 

“Artemis.” 

 

“Goddess of wildlife.” 

 

She nods and goes quiet. 

 

“Are my mommy and daddy okay?” 

 

You’re about breakdown right there, but somehow you keep it together.

 

If not for yourself, but for this kid. 

 

“Why don’t you come with me?” You hold your hands out. 

 

She looks at you for a minute before scooting closer and wrapping her arms around your neck.

 

You take this as a cue to wrap your arms around her tightly and stand up. 

 

You feel her burrow her face into your neck. You try not to cry. 

 

You turn around to see Anacostia looking at you in awe. 

 

You don’t deserve it. 

 

You cover Artemis’ face as you walk back through the house. 

 

You saw your parents’ dead bodies and looked how you turned out. 

 

You want to give this kid a fighting chance, you didn’t have one. 

 

You didn’t deserve it. 

 

-

 

You arrive back at the safehouse around nine the next night. Artemis is still sleeping in your arms when you walk onto the porch. 

 

Raelle, Tally, and Abigail come rushing onto the porch, all wearing confounding expressions.

 

“Where’s Willa?” 

 

You can feel Artemis start to wake up, so you start to rock her and run your hands through her blonde locks. 

 

Raelle is the first to move, ushering you inside with a hand on your back. 

 

The warmth of her hand spreads through you and the smell of mushrooms fade from your nostrils. 

 

 

Artemis doesn’t want to let go of you. 

 

She sits on your lap while Willa talks with Anacostia quietly in the kitchen.

 

Raelle comes to kneel in front of you with a warm smile on her face. 

 

The smile is not for you. 

 

I know that. 

 

“Are you hungry, Artemis?” 

 

She nods. 

 

“What’s your favorite food?” 

 

Artemis thinks about it for a little bit, stroking her bunny’s ears before answering. 

 

“Grilled cheese.” 

 

“Well lucky for you, I make the best grilled cheese in the world, you can ask Scylla.” 

 

Artemis looks to you for approval and you nod. 

 

“She does.” Even though you’ve never had it, but you trust her. You will always trust her. 

 

“You want me to make you some?” 

 

Artemis nods and laughs when Raelle goes to poke her belly when she gets up. 

 

 

You watch her go. 

 

You love her. 

 

But, you don’t know if she loves you. 

 

You don’t deserve it. 

 

-

 

You finally get Artemis to sleep in your bedroom around midnight. 

 

You go back downstairs to set up your bed on the couch. 

 

You sit down on the floor with your back against the foot of the couch.  You sit for a moment before pulling out a picture from your back pocket.

 

Your parents. 

 

The one Anacostia gave you in the cellar, the first time she showed you compassion. 

 

You trace your father’s beard and your mother’s smile, your heart twinges. 

 

You miss them. 

 

Of course that’s obvious, but you miss your mother’s voice and your dad’s smile. You miss their laughter and jokes. You miss everything. 

 

Your thoughts are interrupted by a pair of footsteps coming down the stairs. You turn and see Raelle, looking like a deer in headlights. 

 

“Hi.” She says softly.

 

You smile cheerlessly. 

 

“Hi.” 

 

She makes it down to the bottom and shoves her hands in her pockets. 

 

“I was just checking to make sure you were okay.” 

 

You chuckle and wipe the tears from your cheeks. 

 

I didn’t even realize I was crying. 

 

You two stare at each other for a moment before you pat the spot next to you softly. 

 

She goes to sit, puts her arms along her knees. 

 

She looks down at the photo in your hands and motions to it. 

 

“Are those your parents?” 

 

You nod and pass over the picture to her. 

 

She hums with a small smile, her eyes trace over the photo. 

 

“They look like the type of people to name their kid Scylla.” 

 

The remark shocks you so much that you let out a clamorous laugh, this makes Raelle laugh as well. 

 

“Yeah, dad was a mythology buff. He could quote the Odyssey from front to back. I really didn’t have a chance. It was either Scylla or Charybdis.” You finish with a chuckle. 

 

She hands the picture back to you, careful not to crinkle it. 

 

Your eyes trace over the picture, your mother and father. 

 

“She was hiding in the garage.” You can feel your voice start to fall apart. 

 

“I only knew to go there because when-” You cut yourself off and take a shallow of air. 

 

The air smells like pine and sweat , for that you are grateful. 

 

“Because when my parents were murdered that’s where I hid.” 

 

You pause, still looking down at the picture. 

 

“Only nobody found me.” 

 

You feel her arm go around your shoulder and pull you closer to her. 

 

You start to sob. 



You sob so hard that you can feel the vibrations in the floor below you. 

 

But through that you can feel the warmth of her palm on your knee. 

 

“I found you.” You hear her whisper over and over again. 

 

Okay, maybe she doesn’t hate me. 

 

Told you. 

 

Shut up. 

 

-

 

Artemis becomes linked to your hip in the following days. 

 

Wherever you go, Artemis seems to follow. 

 

You start to sleep with her in your bed because she somehow makes her way to the couch each night. 

 

You’d wake up with her on your back, blonde hair astray, bunny clutched tightly in her hands, still snoring softly. 

 

You’ve never had a sister, but you think it might feel like this. 

 

A person that you could never let down, no matter how many times you mess up. 

 

You decide that you like it. 

 

But you promise yourself to never let her down. 

 

You’ve already done that to so many people. 

 

-

You go on a supply run with Anacostia and come back at sunset. 

 

As soon as you get into the house, still chuckling at the joke Anacostia made on the way up the stairs, you can feel the tension in the room.

 

Cold and callous, it reminds you of the dungeon. 



In the center of the room you spot the two Collars glaring at each other. 

 

Raelle’s glare reminds you of the dungeon too, but this time it is directed at Willa instead of you. 

Thank god. 

 

Willa, still looking at Raelle, speaks. 

 

“Scylla, a word.” 

 

You drop your bag and go to the kitchen, ignoring the concerned glances of the other girls. 

 

“Alder knows that Abigail and Raelle are alive.” 

 

“What?! How?” 

 

“I told her.” 

 

Your heart drops to your stomach, you take a step back, suddenly nauseous. 

 

“Wow.” 

 

Willa goes to speak again, but you cut her off. 

 

“Pretending to be dead for two years, lying to your daughter, then selling her out to the organization that left her for dead ! The organization that almost killed her ! They did kill her !” 

 

You can feel the wood rumbling underneath your feet, hear the paintings slamming against the wall. But you don’t care to stop it, you haven’t let yourself be this furious in a long time. 

 

“This is war, Scylla. Sometimes you have to make choices you don’t necessarily agree with.” 

 

Your response is through gritted teeth. 

 

“What does that mean?” 

 

Willa takes a deep breath before replying. 

 

“I have decided that in the best interest of all witches, it would be the only way for us to defeat Carmilla if the Spree and Army form an alliance. Effective immediately.” 

 

You can feel the crackle of lighting in your fingertips. 

 

“You saved me.” 


Willa looks at you with a muddled expression. 

 

“You found me in that garage. You took me back here and helped me. I told you what happened and you said-” 

 

“You’re safe here, Kid.” Willa nods with a gentle tone. 

 

“I still mean that, Scylla.” 

 

You shake your head.

 

“You let them torture me. You did nothing . You’re a liar.” 

 

You shove at her shoulders. 

 

Liar !” 

 

You shove again and again. And she lets you. That’s what makes you angrier than anything else.

 

You finally hear footsteps come rushing in and arms wrapping you. Anacostia

 

“Breathe, Ramshorn. Breathe.” 

 

You turn in her arms, grasping at the back of her shirt, sobbing into her shoulder. 

 

She lets you, rubbing small circles into your back.

 

You look over her shoulder and see Raelle, looking at you with a broken expression, tears in her eyes. 

 

You have to go back .

 

To Fort Salem.

 

To a place that just caused pain. 

 

A place that causes you to only get a few hours of sleep each night because the fear of being tortured in your sleep was just too much to overcome. 



A place that ate you up and spit you out like bitter fruit. 

 

A place that made you lose everything. Raelle. 

 

It made you lose the only thing that really ever mattered to you. 

 

You were actually the one that made you lose Raelle. 

 

I know, but it’s easier to blame than to admit the truth. 

 

Maybe admitting the truth will help you get her back .

 

-

 

You’re packing when you get a knock on your door frame. 

 

You look up and see Raelle standing there, hesitance evident in her posture. 

 

“Hey.” You smile closely. 

 

“Hi.” She smiles back tightly. 

 

There’s a silence that fills the room, it holds uncomfortable and awkward feelings in them. 

 

You wince as you walk to your closet to pull out more clothes. 

 

“Is there something you want to talk about?” 

 

“Are you okay?” She blurts out, not missing a beat. 

 

You really don’t know what to say. You just want to hurt something. 

 

“Yeah, I mean-we all have to go sometime don’t we?” 

 

As soon as you see the blue in Raelle’s eyes ice over, you wish you could take it back. 

 

But you are a bomb full of anger and hollowness just waiting to explode, Raelle just might be the drop zone. 

 

“You know I didn’t mean that.” 

 

“Do I?” 

 

Raelle sputters. 

 

“You don’t talk to me about anything, Raelle. You didn’t tell me how you survived the bomb, I heard it from Abigail , of all people. You didn’t tell me about going to Petra and getting yourself deployed. You just decided that one night was fine and then didn’t talk to me after that!” 

 

You can feel her getting angry, the lights flicker in the room. 

 

“You don’t talk to me either, Scylla. Everytime I enter the room, you walk away. You don’t look at me. It’s like you’re here, I can feel your presence, but you’re not. Like you’re a ghost. Like you’re dead.” 

 

You zip up your duffle bag and grab your jacket. 

 

“Isn’t that what you wanted?” 

 

With that you walk out of your room, trying to hold back the tears that are already sliding down your cheeks..   

 

-

You have to leave Artemis at the safehouse with Adil. 

 

She cries and hugs you tight by the van. 

 

“I want to go with you.” 

 

You shake your head. 

 

“It’s too dangerous, Artemis.” 

 

“Then stay.” 

 

You feel the first tear fall from your eye, you have to wipe it away before she sees. 

 

You crouch down to her level. 

 

“Listen to me, Adil will take care of you. Don’t listen to anybody else, but him, do you understand?” 

 

She nods. 



“Good. I have something for you.” 

 

You reach into your bag and pull out a worn, almost falling apart copy of The Odyssey. 

 

“This is where we both got our names, Apollo too, let Adil read it to you. We can talk about it when I get back.” 

 

She takes it gently, wonder in her eyes. You open your arms and she steps into them, you hug her tightly until Willa clears her throat. 

 

“We should get going.” 

 

You kiss her forehead and stand back up to look at Adil.

 

“Take care of her.” 

 

He nods. 

 

“I will.” 

 

You step into the van and vow to yourself that you will not let her down. 

 

You’ve already done that to too many people. 

 

-

 

The Spree have their own building, where the Necro facility was. You decide to take your old room.

It still smells like wood and dirt when you walk in, but dust is everywhere. 

 

You look to the mirror, you expect to see a balloon. You are thankful that you don’t, but there is still this white, burning monster in your stomach trying to eat everything that moves. 

 

It already got Raelle, the girl wouldn’t even so much as glance your way during the car ride here. 

 

You do know who or what the monster will get next. 

 

All you know is that you hate this fucking mirror. 

 

You walk up to it and put your fist straight through the glass. 

 

You can feel the blood dripping down your fist, but you don’t stop. 

 

It feels good . Letting the monster run wild inside of you. 

 

You then go to your bed and tear the sheets off, turn the mattress over, push the backboard to the ground. 

 

You go to your desk and throw all your books to the ground, rip up the pages, turn the chair over and break the legs of it. You throw those at the mirror too. 

 

You rip the Necro flag on your wall to pieces. 

 

You blackout after that. 

 

-

 

After you come to, you’re in the middle of your room looking at the heap before you. 

 

You sigh and start to clean up the mess you created. 

 

There’s a knock at your door and you consider not answering it. 

 

“Necro, I know you’re in there.” 

 

Damn it, Abigail. 

 

You open the door and make sure to block her view to see into your dorm. 

 

“What?” You say curtly. 

 

“Wow, warm welcome.” She snarks back. 

 

“I heard you and Shitbird got in a fight. I got a bottle of bourbon and a rooftop with your name on it.” 

 

She wiggles the bottle in her hand, the brown liquid sloshing around. 

 

You place your hand on the door. 

 

“You know, I think-” 

 

She cuts you off. 

 

“What the hell happened to your hand?” 

 

You look at your hand on the door, it’s worse than you remember, swollen with blood still dripping out of multiple cuts and shards of glass stuck in there. 

 

“I cut it.” You lie. 

 

Abigail shakes her head. 

 

“Yeah right, Scylla, what happened?” 

 

That’s the first time she’s called you by your real name. She seems genuinely worried, you can see the concern in her eyes. 

 

You open the door a little further to let her in. 

 

She strides in, but soon stops, taking in the disaster before her. She turns back to you, fury evident in her eyes. 

 

“Who did this to you?” 

 

“I did.” 

 

She takes in your words and looks back down at your hand, at the blood dripping down to the wood floor beneath you. 

 

“Got a med kit?” 

 

-

 

She stays after your hand is wrapped, quietly helping you pick up the pieces of your breakdown and put it in trash bags. 

 

After, you both lay down on the floor with the bottle of bourbon between you and look up at the wooden panels above. You tell stories of your past and she shares some of her own. You trade laughs and sighs. 

 

You never really had friends growing up, you couldn’t. You moved too often and you couldn’t share so much of yourself to people because you were just going to leave them. You think Raelle is or was your best friend, you gave so much of yourself to her, more than you have ever given another person.  



But in this moment with Abigail, you see what a true friend can look like. You think that you want it, a true friend. 

 

Abigail might just be it, a true friend

 

Fucking High Altantic. 

 

-

 

The first mission that you go on is to China. 

 

The Camarilla has captured almost every witch there and is burning each and everyone of them at the stake everyday. 

 

Alder orders for units to be supplied there daily, on the second day she orders the Bellweather unit to be deployed. Again

 

Willa orders for you to deploy with them, sends you with a unit of your own. 

 

Two first year Necros, Kennedy and Emily. Both terrified. 

 

You debrief both of them walking to the hangar. 

 

You spot Anacostia with the Bellweather unit, speaking earnestly. 

 

“Nice speech.” You snark as you walk up, only making eyes to Anacostia, who hides a small smile. 

 

“Nice unit. You pick them out yourself.” Abigail strides up, tone snippy but she holds mellowness in her eyes. 

 

Tally throws an arm around your shoulders and takes you up the ramp to the aircraft. You can see Raelle in the corner of your eye, making busy with her medpack, refusing to look at you. 

 

Before your heart can drown in your stomach, Anacostia speaks. 

 

“Strap in, ladies, long ride ahead of us.” 

 

-

 

Kennedy and Emily both fall asleep short into the ride. You try to, but you can’t. 



You can’t sleep when Raelle, who is furious with you, is so close. 

 

You can feel her eyes on you when you are talking with Abigail or laughing with Tally. The heat in her gaze is evident. 

 

Like a game of chicken, see who breaks first. 

 

You’re so close to going over there and falling into her arms, but to your surprise, Raelle plops down right next to you. 

 

It takes a minute, both of you trying to think of something to say. 

 

“I’m sorry.” 

 

Raelle says softly.

 

“Rae-” 

 

She cuts you off. 

 

“For leaving you in that dungeon.” 

 

You feel your heart burst from your chest and lodge in your throat, you gulp.

 

“You don’t have to be sorry about that.” 

 

“I do.” Raelle is firm in her choice. She leans forward to put her elbows on her knees, then looks back at you.

 

Her gaze is soft, so soft that you don’t believe it’s for you. 

 

“How could I say I was with you and then just leave you like that. All alone with nobody-” 

 

You can hear her tone, her self-hatred come back out, you place your hand on her thigh. 

 

She looks down at your hand, but you don’t move it.

 

“I hurt you, Raelle. I know I did and know matter how much I wish I could go back and change it, I can’t. But, I can’t focus on that, I can only focus on what I do now.” 

 

Raelle smiles so gently at you that you have to smile back.   



“You can’t think about leaving me in the dungeon because it’s in the past and you can’t change that. Believe me I’ve tried.” 

 

Raelle laughs softly and places a hand on yours, gripping tightly.  She leans back and pulls you towards her, you lie your head on her shoulder and close your eyes. 

 

Breathing in the scent of pine and sweat, which helps lull you to sleep.

 

See, truth works. 

 

If you told me that about six months ago, we wouldn’t be in this situation. 

 

-

 

You get there the next morning, the air is thick like smog. 

 

The scent hints you instantly, the scent of death. 

 

“Stay close to me!” You yell over the wings of the bat to Kennedy and Emily. 

 

Anacostia signals for the trek to begin west of the dropzone.

 

It goes well for about an hour, you don’t feel anything other than a coil in your chest tightening with every step you take. 

 

Then it happens, the coil snaps

 

You can feel it coming up on a clearing in the forest, the burning in your stomach. 

 

You run up to Anacostia, placing a hand on her shoulder. 

 

“Death is near.” 

 

She sucks in a breath. 

 

“Show us.” 

 

You run towards the clearing, footsteps following behind you. 

 

You stop and look at the edge of the clearing, seeing two witches bloody and beaten on two stakes, two men with sunhats standing between them, torches in each of their hands. You think that they might’ve been expecting you. 

 

The faint buzzing in your ears almost becomes unbearable as you step closer. 

 

“Necros!” One of the men speaks, voice distorted. 

 

“Speakers of the dead! Do you wish to speak to one of them?” He points the torch to the already burnt corpses at his side. 

 

You feel sick, you hear Kennedy vomit behind you.  

 

You can hear the man laugh, his voice like nails on a chalkboard. 

 

In unison, both of them put their torches near the witches feet, that’s when you start to sprint towards them, hearing the protest of the others behind you. 

 

You manage to deck one to the ground before he has a chance to set the fire ablaze. You straddle him and begin to punch over and over again. 

 

You don’t know how many punches you land, but you can feel the blood of this revolting human dripping down your hands, staining the cuffs of your uniform. 

 

Someone picks you up off the man and throws you to the ground, the hit hard enough to disorient you for a second. 

 

The man, the one who threw you to the ground you guess, picks you up by your collar and slams you down again against the cold hard rock. 

 

The pain spasms throughout your back, it feels like fire burning through your body, leaving you paralysed. 

 

The man walks toward you again, you can faintly hear the screams of the others, but you don’t look towards them. 

 

He crouches down to your level, placing a hand on your collar, making sure you don’t move. 

 

You couldn’t even if you tried, but he doesn’t need to know that.

 

You can see the smirk underneath his sunhat, then he takes off his sunglasses, so you can see the fire in his eyes. 

 

The buzz in your ears is deafening, so much so that you can hear the protests of Raelle, Abigail, Tally, and even Anacostia, screaming at him to stop. 



He then laughs, his breath smells like blood and fire, you wince. 

 

“O Death, where is your sting?” 

 

You remember that verse, you remember reading it your first year at Fort Salem. It packs a punch that hits straight to your gut. He thinks killing you, a necro; the bringer of death, will stop the cycle. 

 

You look to his neck, your eyes catch a metal box. 

 

The buzzing.

 

You try to get enough force to move your hand up, but the fire licks throughout your body when you try to move. You cry out, blood bubbles out of your mouth.  

 

He then stands up from you to turn and face the others. 

 

“The Lord rejects you as equals. You are a disgrace to humanity. We do not need you to fight our battles! You are the battle!” 

 

He turns back to you and gives you a swift and hard kick to the side. 

 

You feel a crack and then you feel as if you were sliced open again and again by a hot, scolding knife. 

 

This. 

 

This is how you die

 

The end of your story. 

 

He then grabs you by the back of your collar, forcing you up on your knees. 

 

You see Raelle and the others down on their knees, silencers around their necks and hands cuffed in front of them. 

 

Other Camarilla are standing around them, they must have been hiding in the woods. 

 

You make eye contact with Raelle, you can see the tears streaming down her cheeks, her eyes are glazed over with defeatedness. 

 

You try to send a soft smile, to ease her worries. 

 

You take in the fragments of her faces; eyes, nose, mouth, her scar. Everything. 

 

If you’re going to die, you want to look at her in your last moments.

 

“You deserve to get your necks slashed open! To be burned at the stake! Like your ancestors were supposed to!” 

 

You feel the edge of the knife around your neck. You see Raelle start to scream and try to break free of the Camarilla holding her. 

 

“Any last words from the bringer of death?” 

 

Well, might as well go out with a bang, right? 

 

Always. 

 

“O Hades, where is your victory?” 

 

You say with a smirk and then you muster enough strength to throw your head back, you hit him square in the nose, blood pours out as he stumbles back. 

 

You bring yourself to your feet and jump to rip the metal box from his neck and throw it to the ground, it smashes instantly, buzzing it your ears gone. 

 

You turn around to the other Camarilla and scream so loud that it throws them back to the trees. 

 

You turn back around to the man charging at you. 

 

You then feel a sharp pain in your torso, you look down. 

 

The knife

 

The damn knife. 

 

You see him smirk and he whispers something to you but you can’t make it out. You’re already too far gone. He gets blown back into the cliff, which lands him onto the ground, unmoving. 

 

You crumble to your knees, ready to feel the coarse rock but something catches you. 

 

More like someone. 


Raelle. 

 

She gently lowers you to the ground. 

 

“It’s okay. You’re okay. Okay, I've got you. You’re okay.” She keeps repeating in your ear, her voice shakes almost like she is trying to convince herself. 

 

The pain becomes unbearable, like a million searing lashes whipping up and down your back and torso. 

 

Raelle then places a hand on your wound and one on your neck. 

 

“No, don’t.” You try swating weakly at her hands, but they don’t move. 

 

“This isn’t up for discussion.” She says stern, placing her forehead on yours. 

 

You can feel the link start to form. 

 

“I’m Scylla.” 

 

“Raelle.” 

 

“Live a little!” 

 

“Your plan was hot garbage.” 

 

“Well, I hate to break it to ya, beautiful, but there’s no way out.” 

 

“I know a way.” 

 

“You think I’m weird?”

 

“Like sexy weird. I like it.” 

 

“Life becomes death, which becomes life again.” 

 

“You’re so beautiful.” 

 

“If I do get the urge to run, I’ll take you with me.” 

 

“You’re okay.” 



“Do you care about me?” 

 

“What would you do if you were so in love with someone, but they had done something wrong, something unforgivable?” 

 

“You’d have to decide if that person is worth it, and then fight for them.” 

 

“I like you, okay. I have feelings for you.” 

 

“I’m in this with you and we’re going to figure this out together, okay. Whoever you are, whoever you were, I’m in. No matter what happens, no matter what anybody else thinks, I’m with you.” 

 

“We’ll run away and live on the beach!” 

 

“I just want to be able to say hi to you, wherever you are.” 

 

“No matter what happens,” 

 

“I need to know she’ll be safe once I get her there.” 

 

“She goes where I go, Scylla’s my girlfriend.” 

 

“Scylla’s gone too.” 

 

“You saw her! You saw her and then she was gone!” 

 

“Scylla was killed in the storm.” 

 

“She was going to take me to the safest place she’d ever been.” 

 

“Where’s Scylla?” 

 

“She’s alive! She’s not dead!” 

 

“Everywhere I look, there she is.” 

 

“You’re dead.” 

 

“It’s me, it’s really me.” 

 

“I would never do anything to hurt you, Raelle, please believe me.” 

 

“I-I believe you. I-I love you.” 

 

“She didn’t take me anywhere Tally, she was with me before the attack telling me she loved me!” 

 

“I need Scylla back.” 

 

“She said she loved me.” 

 

“She told you what you need to hear.” 

 

“Everything about you is a lie.” 

 

“She’s dead to me.” 

 

“Let me see Raelle one more time.” 

 

“I loved you.” 

 

“I still love you.” 

 

“I’m sorry we ever met, Scyl.” 

 

“I chose you! Instead of them, I chose you!” 

 

“I still love her.” 

 

“She loves you, that part’s real.” 

 

“Wherever they’re taking Scylla, can you make sure they go easy on her? I know she’s messed up, but she’s not all bad.” 

 

“Hold onto the part of you that’s good.” 

 

“Craven was the only one to make it back.” 

 

“Because even if Raelle hates every fiber of my being, I am going to get her back to her mother. Because I know that if it was the other way around, she would do the exact same thing for me. Because that is the kind of person she is and that is the kind of person I am trying to be.”

 

“I have to believe it.” 

 

“I couldn’t do that though because I’m none of those things. I could only be all of those things for one person.” 

 

“Raelle.”

 

“Raelle’s my main priority.” 

 

“No, Abigail. You don’t get to do that, okay. She deserves better. She deserves someone with no baggage, no issues, no lies, no heartbreak. She deserves someone better .” 

 

“I don’t want you to feel like you’re in love with someone who hates you with every fiber of their being.” 

 

“I don’t hate you. I could never hate you even if I tried.” 

 

“I love you .” 

 

-

 

You awake with a gasp, breathing in the scent of antiseptic and bleach. 

 

You’re in the hospital back at Fort Salem. You look down at your clothes, you’ve been changed out of your uniform into a plain t-shirt and shorts. 

 

You’re still gasping for breath, when you hear a voice beside you. 

 

“Didn’t I tell you to wait?” 

 

Anacostia.

 

You turn to look at her, she sits in a chair beside your bed. Her uniform is wrinkled and there are faint bags under her eyes. She has a faint smile forming across her face, relief is evident in her eyes. 

 

“Do I ever listen to what you say?”
 

She chuckles and for the first time, you see the tears in eyes reflect in the sunlight. 

 

“Apparently not. Should’ve learned that by now.” 

 

You look at the beds beside you, trying to see the familiar blonde hair, but you don’t see any. You’re about to ask Anacostia, but she beats you to the punch. 

 

“Collar’s back at her dorm getting some well-needed rest. She’s okay. I had to basically pry her from this seat since we got back.” 

 

“How long was that?” 

 

“Five days.” 

 

You let out a deep breath and look down at your lap.

 

“You took it bad, Scylla.” 

 

You look back up at Anacostia to see the tears now flowing freely down her cheeks. 

 

“He broke your back, fractured your ribs, pierced your left lung.” 

 

“Did Raelle-” 

 

You clear your throat before continuing.

 

“Did she take any of it?” 

 

Much to your relief, Anacostia shakes her head. 

 

“Even though a link was formed between you both, I managed to break it before she could take on too much. One of the witches that you saved, they helped heal you once we got back onto the bat.” 

 

“So, the witches that were on the stakes, they’re okay?” 

 

“Yeah, they are.” 

 

Anacostia places a hand on your shoulder and sends you a soft smile. 

 

“You saved them, Scylla.” 

 

A moment passes between you both before she pats your shoulder and moves to get up. 

 

“I almost forgot! There’s someone here to see you.” 

 

She moves to open the door, standing on the other side is Artemis, holding Apollo and the worn copy of the Odyssey, her blonde hair glints in the sunlight. 



As soon as she sees you, she sprints and jumps right into your arms that you hold open. You feel her wrap hers tightly around your neck. 

 

You meet Anacostia’s eyes above Artemis’ head. You give a gracious nod to her, she nods back with a smile and closes the door on you both. 

 

“Did you finish your book?” 

 

Artemis pulls back, arms still wrapped around your neck, she shakes her head. 

 

“No, I’ve been waiting on you.” 

 

You smile and pull at the book in her hands, you open the dog eared page as she settles down on your chest. 

 

You take a deep breath and start to read the written words before you. 

 

“You will die peacefully of old age, surrounded by prosperous people.” 

 

-

 

You are released from the hospital two days after you wake up. 

 

Alder wishes to see you as well as Willa. Both of them admire you for your sacrifice and that it will not go forgotten, Alder agrees to pardon you of all crimes after the war is over. 

 

You think Willa has something to do with it. 

 

She catches up to you after the meeting lets out. 

 

“Scylla.” 

 

You stop and turn to face her. 

 

Her expression is soft. 

 

“Thank you.” 

 

You feel your brows pull down in confusion. 

 

“For taking care of my daughter. You were right not to bring her to me. I see that now.” 



You take a minute, thinking of words to say to her. 

 

“She’ll come to you when the time is ready.” 

 

“Take care of her until then?” 

 

You don’t hesitate on your next sentence. 

 

“I’ll take care of her forever.” 

 

And with that, you turn and walk away. 

 

-

 

You’re still living in the Necro dorms.

 

You don’t go and visit her, you try to respect her boundaries. You put the words that you told Willa in your mind. 

 

She’ll come to you when the time is ready. 

 

Tally and Abigail visit you though, sometimes together, sometimes alone. They never tell you about Raelle, you don’t ask. 

 

A week goes by and you wonder if she is ever going to visit you. The dark side of your brain telling you that she saw all she needed to when the link was formed. The light side is still telling you to be patient.

 

You like to listen to the light side of your brain. 

 

But the dark side is too damn tempting to believe. 

 

A knock comes at your door on Sunday night. You think it’s Anacostia, ready to give you another mission. 

 

You open the door, words of snark already forming on your lips, but fall breathless at who it really is. 

 

Raelle. 

 

Her hands are stuffed in her pockets, she looks good; color in her face, bags underneath her eyes gone, her hair washed and in her usual braids. 

 

“Hey.” She says breathless, reminding you of when she came down the stairs to find you crying all those months ago. 

 

You nod to her, soft smile on your lips. 

 

“Can I come in?” 

 

You open the door even further and usher her in. 

 

She looks around the room as if she is seeing an old friend. 

 

“What took you so long?” You say as you press your back up against the door. 

 

She looks back at you, her hands out of her pockets and now fidgeting together. 

 

“I’ve just been trying to process a lot. Thinking about what I want.” 

 

Your heart in your throat, you move towards her. 

 

“What is it that you want?” 

 

She lets out a sigh and scratches the back of her neck. 

 

“I realized I could live without you a long time ago, when everybody told me that you died at the wedding.” 

 

Your heart drops down to the pit of your stomach, but Raelle keeps talking. 

 

“It was hard. God, it was hard, Scylla. Seeing you everywhere I looked, but it turned out that you weren’t there. I almost-” 

 

She cuts herself off. 

 

“I almost turned my life upside down convincing myself that you were still alive. So, when I found out that you were, but I was just your mark in some mission.” 

 

“Raelle, you-” 

 

She cuts you off again. 

 

“I know I’m not, I know that now.” She says with firmness in her tone. 



“It gave me an out. An out to hate you even though I knew I was still in love with you. And I just felt so stupid and helpless.” 

 

Raelle laughs. 

 

“So, I tried to hate you, live without you, wish you were gone. And for a while it worked, I was numb to it; to you. I had other things to figure out, I was a human bomb, for God’s sake.” 

 

You chuckle, she smiles gently at you. 

 

“But, I just kept thinking about you; how you were, if you had eaten, were you alive or dead -” 

 

Her voice breaks. 

 

“I kept asking myself why, ‘why would I think about someone who has only brought me pain?’” 

 

“I could never find the answer until I saw you again. That is I’m in love with you, Scylla.” 

 

You look up to see her staring right back at you, her eyes are serious. 

 

“I don’t think I’ve ever stopped. I couldn’t, maybe that’s why I hated you so much because I could never stop loving you. If that makes any sense.” She quickly adds. 

 

You giggle softly as you walk up towards her.

 

“I love you too. I never stopped.” 

 

She smiles brightly and oh, your heart sings. 

 

You press your lips together and that lost warmth finds its way back into your body. 

 

You grab the lapels of her jacket and tug it down her arms. 

 

You push her till her knees hit the edge of your bed, you push her down and straddle her hips. 

 

She puts her hand softly on your cheek, you lean into it as she gazes up at you in wonder. 

 

Maybe she does love me. 

 

Told you. 



Shut up. 

 

-

 

You wake up to fingers grazing your witch’s mark on the back of your left shoulder, lips soon replacing them. 

 

You murmur and turn around towards the feeling, you then open your eyes to see the ocean staring back at you. 

 

“Morning.”

 

Her smile is like the sun, her fingers trace patterns up and down your back. 

 

You smile widely through closed lips, you trace the scar right above her heart. 

 

You place your lips there, enjoying the feeling of the thrumming of her heart.

 

It pulses through your veins. 

 

You feel peace.