Note: mildly NSFW text and some blood.
Jessica had been staring at the wall all morning, her mind blank and still wearing that numb expression she’d been donning since the previous evening when the doctor had given her a run-down of her various test results in their clinical, factual way.
She’d only heard one word in the whole discussion.
As if it wasn’t bad enough that she was locked up in here, mourning the deaths of her colleague, career and freedom, worrying about how her mother was coping and what on earth those loopy people in the Truth Society were doing outside, now she had to factor in this little one, too.
There was no doubt in her mind whose baby this was and Jessica didn’t know how to feel. The doctor had reeled off Jessica’s options and left her to her thoughts.
Part of her was happy; having children was something she’d looked forward to, one day. But that day had felt a long way off, when she’d be settled, with a good job and a loving partner. She never dreamed that she’d be pregnant with her dead boyfriend’s baby aged only twenty-three while locked in a psychiatric unit.
Chase hadn’t even been her boyfriend. How would she refer to him when her baby grew up and started asking questions about daddy? The man at work that mummy didn’t even like that much?
Other than Ralf, Jessica didn’t know Chase’s family, she knew next-to-nothing about his life before she’d met him. She hoped Ralf would visit her one day so she could ask about him. Perhaps she’d see if he’d also pop round to her mother’s, explain what was happening – more than Jessica could in the ten-minute call she was allowed – and make sure she’d taken her meds. Maybe he’d even feed Jessica’s cats, although that was asking a lot.
Jessica huffed and rested her head gently against the wall. What a mess.
She closed her eyes and strained to listen to the calls of the protesters outside, but they came muffled and muted through the thick walls of the Tower, unlike the sudden booming from the loudspeaker above her door.
“Spoon, Jessica; to visitation,” it announced in its robotic tone.
Jessica brightened. She had a visitor? She scrambled from the bed to dress but barely a minute later, the mechanical lock on her door unlatched as an orderly in a white apron appeared, looking over her unwashed form with disdain.
“I wasn’t expecting anyone,” Jessica said by way of explanation. “If you give me five minutes—”
The orderly sighed as if this was a huge inconvenience and Jessica faltered; weighing up whether it looked worse to not comply, or to go to see her visitor smelling like BO.
“Who is it?” she asked excitedly.
“Your sister, Emma,” the orderly replied, in a bored fashion. “Ready?”
Jessica nodded, smoothing down her hair and following the orderly from the room. Hoping her face hadn’t given away her confusion or her intrigue.
Jessica didn’t have a sister.
Faith awoke in the partial darkness and blinked until the scene materialised before her.
“Where am I?” she asked to the empty room, to herself.
In an instant, a figure appeared beside her. “An abandoned cabin, somewhere outside Willow Creek.”
“Seth?” Faith murmured, trying to prop herself up, but failing. “Oof,” she huffed as her jellied limbs wobbled beneath her. “Fuck. Why can’t I get up?”
“Stop trying,” he instructed. Joining her on the floor, he supported her on his knee as he caressed her hesitantly. Everywhere his fingers brushed her caused a jolt of fire, and not in a good way.
“What happened?” she asked, realising that she didn’t actually know. What was the last thing she remembered? A big pile of dirt?
He must have seen her flinching as he swiftly stopped stroking the bare skin of her arms and looked over her with concern. “We got carried away,” he said quietly.
“At the arcade?”
“We didn’t go to the arcade,” he sighed. “We stayed out all night until the sun rose.”
The previous night started to knit together in Faith’s memory. She wasn’t sure if it was his doing or her own memory crystallising with his prompt, but she could see the aggregate yard, Kevin lying on the floor.
She remembered being lost for words after the first kill. There he was, blood-splattered with a dead human at his feet, looking every bit the monster he professed to be.
Seth had looked to her at that moment, unsure; wholly expecting, even encouraging her to leave, yet silently begging the opposite. Could it be that his violence was as much a front as her crudeness was? A mask to keep everyone from getting too close?
If it was, it worked a treat.
Who did he have?
Faith wanted to show him that she was nothing like Lilith or the likely countless others in his life who had seen what he was capable of, who he was and had fled.
She could offer him what he had offered her, they could each be what the other needed; someone who would stay and fight and, perhaps, in the safety net of acceptance, even nurture change.
So, despite every thread of her being telling her to get the fuck outta there, she’d done exactly the opposite.
“What else do you remember?” he asked softly, sweeping her hair from her face. Show me.
Faith pouted as in her mind’s eye, she watched the second man, Kevin’s date, wander into the yard to meet the same fate as the first. She vividly recalled Seth laughing, but the rest of the night was a daze.
“Shitting hell; how long were in the sun? Am I all burned up like Blondie?” Faith gasped. “I bet my skin has more cracks than a nudist beach.”
Seth laughed. “A while. But no, barely a mark,” he assured her.
His words were crisp and sure, but something wasn’t right. “Where were we that we couldn’t find any shelter for ages?” she asked.
He didn’t answer immediately. She wanted to turn to look up at him, but she didn’t have the strength to lift herself. “On the yacht, surrounded by water. It was an oversight,” he admitted quietly. “I thought we’d have time once the sun rose to make it back to shore, but within minutes you were losing consciousness. I couldn’t risk misting with you when you weren’t lucid.”
“Shitting hell,” Faith whispered. “That missing limbs thing wasn’t a joke, was it?”
“Oh my god, did you have to carry me like a sack of spuds? I hope you didn’t have a good grope while I was hauled over, like Caleb did.”
“I doubt you minded him doing it,” Seth muttered.
“I wasn’t wearing any undergarments that day, either,” Faith teased, delighted when she felt Seth tense beneath her.
“Lack of garments was half the problem,” Seth said tersely. “We really need to get you something more substantial to wear.”
Faith gasped and lifted her head with the pure power of horror. “Are you trying to turn me into a nun?”
He laughed heartily and he turned her face towards him, giving her the dirtiest smirk she’d ever seen him wear. “No, that is definitely not my intention.”
Fuck, he was gorgeous. And she sort of liked being splayed across him like this; it was like he was taking care of her. Not that she needed taking care of. She again tried to force herself up, longing to kiss him but again, her body did not cooperate. He caught her before she landed face first in his crotch, hauling her floppy form into his arms.
“Ugh,” Faith groaned. “I think I’m dying.”
“Ever the drama queen,” he sighed. “Go ahead. Take a little to tide you over.”
Giddily, Faith turned in his arms to nuzzle his neck and felt him flinch as she embedded her fangs. Unlike when feeding from humans, the blood did not pulse freely from Seth; it was effort. But shit, was it amazing. Cool and concentrated and dark. There really was no other way to describe it.
She hadn’t really registered what she was doing with her hands until he grabbed her wrist and growled, “Fledgling, this is not an invitation to grope me.”
But you’re so hot and I’ve been so horny for days, she projected to him. He definitely reacted to her words. He kept her hand tantalisingly close, as if fighting himself, before he tugged his head away.
She ignored him, pretended she hadn’t heard him, until he grabbed a fistful of her hair and roughly yanked her head back. She whined as she was forced to stop, as pain shot through her scalp.
“Ugh! You call me a drama queen?! I barely even had any!” she protested.
Seth fixed her with one of his intense stares and she gulped. Shit; she’d done it again. Ignored his wishes, bullied him into complying.
“I’m sorry, OK? I just… you’re just so…” she stammered. “I’m sorry.”
“I understand,” he assured her. “You need something more substantial. I’ll be back as soon as I can.” He gestured for her to move.
“What? You’re just going to leave me here? Alone?” she asked.
“I can hardly take you with me.”
Faith’s mind began racing. She’d pushed him too far, she’d upset him. He could leave her here, dehydrated and lost and just never come back. She swore; cursing herself for being such a desperate, sad bitch.
“I will come back to you, Faith. I swear it,” he mumbled into her hair, which did nothing to make her feel any better. He pulled her closer, whispered against the shell of her ear. “Do you trust me?”
“We could wait until nightfall, go together…”
His hand left her hip and her needless breath hitched in her throat as his hand slipped up under her skirt, his fingers drawing small circles as they crept up her inner thigh.
“Do you trust me?” he purred into her ear. Answer me.
Fucking hell. At that moment, she’d have agreed that the grass was purple. I trust you.
“Wonderful!” Seth boomed cheerfully, abruptly getting up and strutting to the door. “Sit tight; I won’t be long.”
“You’re fucking kidding me!”
Jessica padded through the pristine visitation room, wondering who on earth was going to be waiting to greet her. Thankfully she didn’t have to guess who her guest was; the room was deserted, except for a humongous portrait of Wilbert Wangshaft – the founder of this place – and woman in a pink scarf who looked oddly familiar.
“Jessie!” the woman gushed. “Oh my little baby sis, it’s been so long! I got back in town only last week and kept telling myself; Emma, you need to go and see Jessica now she’s back from her jaunt with that animal rights group, but you know how it is, life gets in the way. Anyway, how are you?” She reached her hand out towards Jessica but was promptly stopped.
“No touching!” the orderly instructed taking a seat beside and gesturing for Jessica to sit. ‘Emma’ pulled her hand back, pronto, but not before Jessica noticed the tiny flash of silver contained within. Was that… tinfoil?
Oh dear Watcher.
It was her; the GliTS member from the séance. Pixie.
“Oh my goodness, look at you; skin and bone!” Pixie gasped. “I knew I should’ve brought you something more filling from the vending machine. Are they feeding you OK at meal times?”
“Yes,” Jessica replied, trying not think of the dead cow and spinach medley that appeared to be every meal in this place.
“Oh, good!” Pixie sighed her relief. “I’ve heard rumours about the dismissal of dietary requirements in here; I’m glad they’re just rumours.” She flashed Jessica a strange expression, waited a beat and then continued. “There’s a right palaver going out outside, you know! Some very snazzily dressed people calling your incarceration injustice.” She cleared her throat as the orderly glanced at her.
There was that look again.
Jessica knew that Pixie was trying to communicate with her without coming across as suspicious, but she neither understood the code, or why Pixie would do this. Still, the investigation side of her was dominant and she played along.
“Don’t worry, things are going well. I’m having some talking therapy. It’s all changed since Mum was in here; I’ll be out in no time, if I don’t cause too many waves.”
Pixie’s eyes widened. “I was actually going to call round to see Mum later; I wondered if there’s anything you’d like me to pass on? I know she’s not been well and you’re probably worried. It’s partly why I’m here.”
How do you know that? Jessica asked silently.
Whatever her suspicions about Pixie, Jessica wasn’t about to pass up a chance for someone to check on her mother. They’d probably get on pretty well as her mother also spoke to dead people.
“That’d be great, thanks P- Emma.”
The orderly glanced at Jessica, eyebrow raised.
“Pemma!” Pixie laughed. “You haven’t called me that since you were tiny! Aww, that brings back memories, doesn’t it?”
“It sure does!” Jessica beamed. “But let’s not get into the embarrassing stories now. Do you need Mum’s new address?” she asked hesitantly.
“No, I have it, obviously.” Pixie smiled. “Is there anything else I can do? Swing by your place? Pick up the mail?”
Jessica wasn’t really sure that she wanted random conspiracy theorists in her house, but there was one thing they could do.
“Can you pop by and feed my cats?” she asked.
“Cats?” Pixie repeated, looking thrown for the first time but quickly recovering. “Yes of course. Do I need a key to do that?”
“No, the bowls are on the porch and the food is in a hutch outside,” Jessica explained, watching as Pixie relaxed. “They’re not really my cats, but no one else feeds them, so I do.”
“Typical Jessie! Got it, I’ll do that,” Pixie said. “Is that everything?”
Jessica hesitated. There was one more thing, but she really wasn’t sure if Pixie was the right person for this task. Still, she didn’t have anyone else to ask. “Can you… can you pay my boss a visit and ask him if he’ll visit me?”
Pixie looked a little sad for a moment before she responded. “Yeah, of course I can.”
“Your fifteen minutes is up,” the orderly announced.
“We only get fifteen minutes?” Pixie gasped, looking at her watch. “But we have so much to talk about!”
“We sure do,” Jessica smiled. “So hopefully I’ll see you again tomorrow?”