Note: mildly NSFW and all sorts of disturbed
Faith hadn’t had to summon Seth this time; as she approached the end of the pathway towards the road, it was like her feet knew where to go.
“Fashionably late,” he teased as she walked towards him. “Ah, trouble with Lilith?”
“She harassed me as I was leaving,” Faith said, by way of apology. “She really doesn’t like you, does she?”
“Not anymore. Such a fine line between love and hate,” he said, casually.
“Right. Only I got the impression that you had perhaps done something to her.”
“Such as? Ah, destroyed her, of course she’d say that. Made her forget? That’s… concerning.”
Faith was digging her nails into her skin in an agitated fashion. “Can you even do that? Erase memories?”
He could buy a little time for this one. “Define erase?”
“Seriously? Answer the question. Can you make people forget?”
There was no ambiguity with that. He bit his tongue but the answer still escaped. “I can.”
Faith blinked at him, stunned. By his power? His honesty? “Did you erase some of Lilith’s memory?”
Her questions; they would surely be his damnation. He sighed. “Yes, I did. Exactly as she asked me to.”
“Shit. That’s all kinds of messed up.”
He could hear her forming another defined question in her mind. It was going to be a long night.
“Have you made me forget anything?” Faith asked. Her tone was calm, like she was trying to understand, but her thoughts were going haywire trying to process this; making excuses for him, looking for gaps.
He groaned inwardly. He worded his answer a few ways in his mind, but all were equally incriminating. “Yes, I have.”
Faith shook her head. “So I really can’t trust you at all. Lilith was right. I’ve made a huge mistake.” She turned back towards the path.
“Everything I’ve told you is true, Faith,” he offered. A meagre pail of water for the burning bridge. “I slipped a confidence. It wasn’t mine to give; I had to take it back from you.”
“How can I ever trust you now?”
Rhetorical, but he found himself answering anyway. “Ah. I guess you can’t.”
He had completely lost control of this situation, of her. She was about to ask him exactly what he had erased, which was, technically, nothing. But she’d eventually word her question in a way that would make him tell her about Caleb, and he’d have to wipe her slate clean again, anyway.
He might as well just get it over with.
As he advanced on her, she knew what he was going to do. She tried to run.
He stopped her, turned her round, waved his hand before her eyes. He listened to her dying thoughts until her mind became completely blank. He toyed with her for a moment; wondered if this temporary void was torture or respite for her.
He debated how far to go back? One sentence? Two? No. It had to be the start, right back to the start. One day he knew that she’d be ready to hear all of this again, he would recall everything he’d buried. For now, she would remain blissfully ignorant.
He watched her rewinding. Composed himself while he waited.
That was not the finest way to begin proceedings. But still, no harm done. She was drifting back now. Her brain quick to compensate; she was still so very human. He could try again.
“Fashionably late,” he teased. “Trouble with Lilith?”
“I haven’t seen her since this morning.”
Ah, too far back. Never mind. Knowing Lilith as he did, he reasoned that she had likely not told Faith anything of any great depth. Nothing to be missed. Besides, Faith looked content, calm.
Faith looked around, piecing together her surroundings, her thoughts. “How did I… did you compel me to make me find you?”
“Yes. I thought I’d spare you the emotional turmoil.”
“Fine. But if you want me to hang around, don’t control me again.”
He smiled at her. “Walk with me.”
She felt her feet being compelled to follow. “Seth,” she warned. “Don’t.”
This was the second time he’d seen an image of this mystery woman, dragged up from the darkness within him, somewhere. A memory from before?
Again, it was just out of reach, frustratingly dim and unclear. But still, it was there. He shook it off, his tone jovial. “I’ll try not to, however it’s rather hard to control myself.”
“Bullshit. I’m not your toy. Where are we anyway?”
Faith looked around at the small, makeshift camp. Well, hardly even a camp. It was really only half a log and a lantern.
“Is this where you live?”
“For now. Were you expecting a castle? Ah, a cave. Like a troll. Charming.”
Faith kicked the toe of her boot into the earth. Now she was out here she was doubting everything. “What do you want from me, Seth? What exactly will this entail?”
“I’ve told you what I want. It will require very little effort on your part. You only need to relax, remain as calm as you can. Let your thoughts run like water.”
“What are you looking for?”
“I’m not sure. Hopefully we’ll both know it when we see it.”
“And you’ll be able to see… everything?” She looked suddenly more unsure.
“Yes. But I am hardly one to judge your misdemeanours.”
She folded her arms around herself, looked at the floor. “I’m not so sure about this. There’s a reason why it’s buried, right? It’s not going to be good, is it?”
“I don’t imagine that what hides inside is anything glorious and bright, no.”
The pang of fear was genuine and Seth felt it. Faith’s voice was unnaturally quiet. “What if it’s too much? Will you stop if I ask you to stop?”
“I will. Shall we begin?”
She nodded. He instinctively raised his hand to compel her to sit and then changed his mind. He offered it to her, the mortal way, as she desired. She took it and he drew her nearer. She was happy to trust him. She needed to. He felt her relax as he pulled her closer.
Good; she wasn’t parched tonight, one distraction obliterated. He wasn’t sure she’d have been able to handle a kill. Not yet. As she settled in against him, getting used to sensation in her mind, he could hear those colourful thoughts of hers. She not-so-subtly pressed herself back against him.
Clearly she had done nothing to sate herself this way. Not that he had any expectation that she would. He knew that her motivation for coming back to him had little to do with what he could offer her mind. He could oblige a few desires, he supposed. Keep her interested enough to stay.
He tried to focus on picking the lock to that tantalising treasure chest in her brain. But, once again, the messages were mixed, confused. The images cloudy, nonsensical. He felt like he was drowning in her swamp of self-loathing. It was taking all his conscious effort to wade through, trying to stay connected, trying to make sense of it all.
There must be a way to crack this code. Faith could not be unique. He turned her over and over in his mind like a Rubik’s cube, twisting and spinning but the squares just wouldn’t align.
He was so focussed on his endeavour that he was only vaguely aware he was now idly running his fingers along her thigh, teasing up her skirt. Faith stayed perfectly still, afraid any movement would break him from his determined trance. Wherever she’d willed him, he had dutifully followed.
Was she controlling him?
As he heard this thought, he laughed. “No. But you are distracting me. You don’t make things easy, do you?”
“Sorry,” she said in a way that wasn’t sorry at all. “I didn’t mean to make things so… hard.”
There she was again. That was the clearest one yet. Seth found himself getting agitated. Excited. He had known this woman, intimately. He must have…
Faith had shifted so far back that she had pinned him against the tree behind him. “Maybe I should go…” she said, again in a way that told him she planned to do anything but.
The second voice he heard was from within himself.
Seth… I really should go…
She had a voice. Mystery woman had a voice. And he could see her… actually see her.
He wanted to remember her.
Seth wasn’t even sure if he’d done it the mortal way or if he’d just mentally thrown her there somehow, but Faith was now beneath him. The vision of his mystery woman held fast in his mind.
“You’re not going anywhere. Keep talking.”
“Did Faith say where she was going?” Lilith asked. Melinda shook her head.
“She said she wouldn’t be long.”
At Lilith’s request, Caleb and April had joined them in the living room. Caleb seemed unusually confident this evening. He’d allowed Faith to finally get rid of that ridiculous fringe he’d insisted on having for years. Shame he had been too busy upstairs with April to convince Faith not run off into the arms of a deranged monster.
She was pleased that Caleb seemed to be forming genuine relationships; it had taken him long enough, but Lilith didn’t like this rebellious phase he seemed to be going through. It had been almost forty years since Caleb had asked to have a television and Lilith had refused. By this point in her conditioning, she hadn’t even had to give him a reason. A firm ‘no’ was more than enough. He had simply nodded, didn’t argue, never asked again.
She missed those days when she could carry on her mission without any worries. He’d have certainly never lied to her, turned a random girl or dared to bring contraband into her house back then.
Now here she was with this thing in her living room, upsetting her décor as well as her brainwaves. The news channel was on and the volume was low but she could barely hear anyone’s thoughts over this wretched device. Precisely why she didn’t want him to have one in the first place. Not that she’d have told him that, of course. And not that it really mattered; it wasn’t long after this where he’d first managed to block her from his mind completely.
Look at him. All smug, thinking he’d got one over on her.
Lilith caught Melinda looking suspiciously between the siblings. She smiled at the younger girl. “Any plans for the evening? Going to beat Caleb at chess again?”
“Maybe. Although my dad did say there was a lunar eclipse tonight, I thought I’d go and watch that. We could all go?”
Caleb grinned at her. “Yes! We’re having a race through the forest too, remember?”
“You are determined to be better than me at something, aren’t you?”
“I’m better at drinking than you.”
“You have a few years practice on me!” Melinda giggled. “Lilith? Up for some star-gazing?”
“No, you three carry on. I have things to do.”
“Um… actually, Caleb, I thought tonight we could watch a movie together?” April said, coyly.
Caleb blinked. “That vampire movie? Your favourite one, right?”
“Yes,” April said brightly. “Just the two of us? Maybe in your room?” She glanced at Lilith, who glared at her. “Or down here, that’s fine too.”
“Just the two of us…” Caleb’s attention was torn between Melinda and April. Lilith sat back and watched him trying to process this whole situation. She could hear him asking for her input.
So now my opinion is valid?
Please help me, Lil.
You’re on your own.
Oh, she wished she could eat popcorn.
“Stay here with April,” Melinda suggested. “We can race any time.”
“But an eclipse, Caleb. Those are rare,” Lilith said.
Caleb looked hopelessly lost. He took April’s hand. “We did watch a movie last night. Come with us, April. We can lie together under the stars.”
That might have worked if April had been able to hear anything other than the rejection. “No, it’s fine. You two go. Have fun.”
Caleb smiled. “You’re so understanding.”
Now Lilith definitely wanted popcorn. Even over the static from the plastic box beside her she could hear April screaming in her head. Unfortunately, Melinda was far too kind and lovely to let Caleb dig his own grave.
“No. You should really stay with April,” Melinda assured him, looking desperately at Lilith. “Shouldn’t he, Lilith?”
“Why?” Lilith asked. “She said she was fine with it, didn’t you, April?”
To Lilith’s disappointment, April gulped and nodded. “Yeah. Totally fine.”
Stupid, stupid, stupid.