When I came to, I was tied to a chair. FoxFace was before me, arms crossed and a very sour look on her face. I felt groggy and sluggish.
“Feeling better?” FoxFace asked sharply, marching over to my side.
I eyed her, unable to really move my head. I was exhausted. But still, she irritated me. “No,” I mumbled. “Can I have some painkillers?”
Crack! She punched me across the face. Hard! It stung! My head snapped to the side and pain split across the side of my head.
“Really?” she asked sharply. “Does that feel better?”
I spluttered, head hanging back down. I blinked but couldn’t shake the pain. “No,” my voice cracked. My lips were dry.
“Listen to me, you little shit,” she snapped, hauling my head up by my hair. It hurt! But I was too limp to do anything about it.
For a blissful moment I almost laughed, knowing that Bella wouldn’t like me being treated in such a way. She was possessive, she would react and punish.
But she didn’t. Instead of a surge of possessive anger I felt an emptiness within myself. No more Bella.
Like a whipcrack it struck me. Bella was gone. She’d left me.
FoxFace was saying something, but I wasn’t hearing her. “Where’s Bella?” I blurted, completely interrupting her.
“What do you mean?” she snapped. I managed to focus on her burning eyes.
“Bella,” I spluttered. “Where is she?” I felt near tears. She’d abandoned me?
No smile from FoxFace. “Not here,” she snapped. “What, did you expect to find her?”
I searched her face, hoping to see some clue, something that I was missing. What had happened? I’d found the bones. I’d let Bella use me, send her magic out. She should have returned. We should be together right now. Unless… no, she wouldn’t. She cared about me. She wouldn’t just leave me behind.
Not like this.
I was snapped to by FoxFace glaring at me – and talking. It was more the tone of her voice, honestly. It was somehow sympathetic. “You found Bella. Don’t you remember what you did?”
I felt like crying. Blinking rapidly, I cast my eyes around, not really noticing what I was looking at. Anywhere but at FoxFace.
“What happened?” asked FoxFace staunchly.
I gulped. Where was Bella? She mustn’t have just abandoned me without a reason. There must have been a reason.
Shaking my head, I tried to sort my thoughts out. Focus on the now. FoxFace was standing before me, hands on her hips.
I collected myself somewhat. “I don’t remember,” I fibbed. “I just sort of – something happened. When Leo was talking and -” something clicked in my mind. “Why are you still alive?”
“What makes you think I should be dead?” she asked wryly. “If you don’t remember anything, that is.”
I balked. Stupid, stupid, me.
FoxFace smiled wryly. “If you’d stop lying, don’t you think this could go easier?”
“Really?” I snapped. “You think life gets better with honesty?” It sure as hell didn’t! I’d heard enough life stories to-
“No,” FoxFace said calmly. “I think it gets easier if you know when to make friends and when to make enemies.”
I paused. “You’re not my friend.”
She stooped to look me square in the eye. “I’m not your enemy, either. Don’t make one of me.”
“You’re not?” I sneered. “I seem to remember things differently.”
FoxFace grinned slyly. “Really?” She smirked. “If I were you, I’d rethink that statement, Chaos. You don’t want to be my enemy. Now-”
I spat in her face. On second thought, not the smartest thing to do, considering I was cuffed to the chair and still in head-splitting pain from the last punch.
FoxFace wiped her face on her sleeve. There was a rabid look to her eyes now, and I expected another punch. Instead she was just grinning. “Alright,” she hummed. “That’s the way this is. Well, that leaves me a clear conscience.”
“For what?” I snapped, all bravado and secretly wondering what the hell she had up her sleeve.
But, grin still in place, she didn’t answer. “Sweet dreams, Chaos,” was all she said as she produced another syringe from a nearby table.
“Hey! What’s that?” I fairly yelled, trying to shimmy away from the thing. It was pointless, as she poked it in me without second thought. When she drew it out, empty, my arm was tingling.
FoxFace waved at me. “Bye, bye,” she said way too happily.
Then the world grew dark. But in this darkness was pain, incredible pain. I had the distinct feeling that I was dissolving, being torn apart, and that I was traveling. Returning to the astral plane – yet I didn’t want to go there. Desperately, I wanted Bella. I knew I had to find her, help her, and be by her side.
I woke in a field of snow, crashing into it and the icy cold on my hands and face like a harsh bite. I floundered, struggling to my feet, blinded by light and stinging all over in residual pain as I felt myself finish putting itself back together.
For a moment all I did was flail and try to stay standing in the knee- deep snow. Then, as the pain oozed away and my eyes adjusted – I saw that I was standing exactly where Bella and I had once stood together. The view here was beautiful. The rolling fields, the farmhouses – it was all still as it had once been.
A gaping ache opened up like a wound within me. I wanted Bella like an addict wanted their fix – and for a split second I wondered whether I really wanted her, or whether it was that strange sensation of being with her that I wanted. Was it the euphoria, or love?
I shook my head, dismissing that as stupid. At this point, I figured it was probably a bit of both. No – a lot of both. I really needed Bella, and I really –
“Chaos?” a sweet voice said from beside me. I whirled, and there she was, like a mirage.
“Bella?” I grabbed her with both hands, seizing her by the shoulders. She was real! She was solid! I flung my arms around her, squeezing her in the tightest hug I could manage. She was laughing.
“Chaos? How did you get here? What are you doing?” And she pushed back, forcing me a step away from her. I didn’t care, I was filling up with her presence, feelign a strange euphoria at her presence. I just wanted to sink to my knees in the snow, as if it was the only right thing I could do in her presence.
I found myself babbling as this went through my mind. I was pawing at her hands that held me at arms’ length. “I was looking for you – they captured me – you were gone – and now you’re here – ,”
Bella chuckled. “You’re my absolute best,” she murmured, and I felt like she meant it, meant every word and meaning of it. My heart felt like it was going to explode from joy.
She finally drew me in for a slow, purposeful kiss. I wanted to cry from relief. The feel of her was a balm to my wounds – and then she drew back.
“Come with me,” she said sternly. “We can’t stay here, the humans have control of this area.”
“They do?” I asked, mind flubbering around. Of course, they had invaded. Bella had no more land – or did she?
Bella dissolved away before my eyes, her grip still firmly on my arms. When her hands went to dissolve, I began to follow.
This traveling was painless, easy, and fluid. One minute we were in the bitter snow, the next we were slowly reappearing in Bella’s living room. The same one as before, with several vampires still in it.
“I went to investigate the portal,” Bella was drawling as I finished taking full form. “And look who I found.”
There was a murmur of approval from the vampires. A glimmer of jealousy? They didn’t seem fully pleased to see me.
But Bella either didn’t care or didn’t notice. Within moments I was seated in someone else’s spot and Bella had resumed her chair. Swiftly, I was given the summary of the situation. The vampires had retained power over the city, and only the city. The humans who lived within were the reason why – the rest of Canada wasn’t sure how to control a raving bunch of awe-inspired people who insisted Bella was their god and wanted to be left alone. For now, they were being starved out in the dead of winter. The humans, in their devotion to Bella, were simply staying put and starving.
“There are many who have been taken into captivity. Those who lived outside of the city,” said one vampire angrily. “We must rescue them.” And due to the emotion in her voice – did she actually care about these humans? “They are our brothers and sisters!” she said dramatically.
“Yes, yes, all in due time,” muttered Bella, eyes staring off into the distance beyond everyone.
The vampires did not seem pleased. “There are many more who have been made captives in the earth realm, taken away,” grumbled another vampire. “We must rescue them as well.”
A smile lit up Bella’s face. “I think I know what we’re going to do next,” she said with the cheer of someone on a bright new idea.
“But the rescue missions?” whimpered the vampire who was so emotional about it all.
Bella waved her hand in dismissal. “I’m going to challenge the sky god to a duel.”
My jaw fell. She said it so lightly, so easily – but did she know what she was doing?