"Honestly, I thought you’d be happier about the return of your estranged older brother." Dalton quips as he stretches his legs out in front of him, crossing his arms over his chest. He’s all limbs, Viviana notes from where she’s seated on her bar stool.
“Happy? You abandoned me, remember that? When I was little, right after mom and dad died— you just took off without a word. Never called or wrote. Never let me knew you were okay. What would make me happy would be never seeing you again.” His body was practically shaking with anger, and it takes all of her self-restraint not to turn on her protective mother mode and throw Dalton out of her house onto his head.
Demetrius softly rests his hands on Zach’s shoulders. “Let him talk, Zachariah.”
The youngest boy turns around to face Demetrius so quickly he’s nothing but a blur of motion. Noticing his hands that clench in tight fists at his side, Viviana steps herself in between the two, looking eye-to-eye with her son.”Calm down,” she orders. For a fraction of a second, he does, but then anger claims his features again.
"You’re both against me? I get it with you, Demetrius. He always was your favourite, you always let him get away with everything. But not you, Viv. You don’t even know him, and I’m your son! You should be on my side."
The demon opens his mouth to respond, and, hearing the intake of breath from behind her, she raises her hand to silence him. Her attention goes back to Zach. “I’m never on anyone else’s side,” she says gently. “And trust me when I say that I trust that boy as far as you could throw him. But he’s your brother and family is family.”
There’s a pause, but eventually, he turns around so that he looks at Dalton again. He’s wearing a self-satisfied smirk, and Viviana wishes she could smack it right off his face. But she refrains. For the sake of her son, and Demetrius.
"So. If I’m going to give you the time of day, you better have a good explanation for being gone all these years. Better than good, though— a great explanation. Like, I don’t know, you were kidnapped and have actually been held hostage all these years and that’s why you’ve never attempted to make contact with me."
Dalton’s eyes lazily goes from Zach to Demetrius, and his eyebrows raise slightly. Viviana turns around just in time to see Demetrius nod. An interested grin pulls on the corners of her lips, and she moves back to her stool. Taking a seat, she leans with her elbows on the counter, and waits for the scene to unfold.
"When Mom and Dad died, it messed me up, y’know? I was fifteen years old, and I didn’t know how to deal with it. So I took off. I tried to call you, Zach. I wrote letters and never got a response. I always thought that you were ignoring me. And, when I was seventeen, Demetrius got in contact with me. Found where I lived and showed up one night.
"He told me not to try and call you anymore, not to write. Because it was better if I didn’t, better for you. He went on for over and hour, telling how things were better with me gone. Said you were doing good, and how much easier it was for you to deal with Mom and Dad’s death because I wasn’t there. And I believed him. Didn’t think he’d have any reason to lie to me, even though I realized later how stupid what he said was."
Zach glances back at Demetrius, betrayal obvious in his expression. “Is that true? Did you tell him that I didn’t want him around?”
Demetrius’ face is unreadable, and he nods just slightly.
For a moment, all the youngest does is look at him. But then he shakes his head, disgusted, and takes off out of the kitchen. There’s still that self-satisfied smirk on Dalton’s face as he breezes past the demon to follow his brother. Something’s off, she realizes as she looks at Demetrius whose head is hung.
"None of that was true, was it?" She says, an eyebrow raising in his direction as she brings her wine glass to her lips and takes a long drink. She knows the answer before he speaks, and she has to give props to Dalton— he’s a good liar. His heartbeat had remained strong and steady, never faltering throughout the whole story.
He shakes his head. “Not a word. I just figured it’d be easier for Zach to hate me.”
He placed his hand on her shoulder, squeezing once as he sat down beside her.
Her face was drawn in concentration, and she stared off into nothingness with an unreadable expression. Blank eyes didn’t even flicker over towards him, and she made no acknowledgment that he was there at all. His hand moved to twirl a piece of her hair between to fingers.
"What is it that you’re thinking about so hard?"
She looked at him then, blinking as if she didn’t even know he had been sitting there. But her face soon sobered, and she blew a long breath of air from her cheeks. “You do realize that I’m going to die someday, right? I’m going to get old, and I’m going to die. And you won’t.” Her eyes met his, and he could see the beginning of tears brimming them.
"Trust me when I say that there’s not a day that passes that I don’t think about how I’m going to have to learn how to live without you again. I do realize that one day, hopefully in the very distant future, my whole life with be yanked out from under me." His hand slipped down to grasp hers, entwining their fingers. "There’s always something that reminds me of it."
"Are you scared?"
"Scared of having everything I love about the world taken away without any rhyme or reason? I’m terrified. It gets closer with each day that passes."
She found herself turning into him, pressing her head into her chest and letting his arms encircle her in safety. “I don’t want to be a vampire. I don’t want to not be a witch, ever. But I also don’t want there to be a moment when we’re not together. I love you, Elijah.”
He put his hand under her chin, forcing her face up to look at him. “Things will happen as they will,” he said calmly, and despite the emotions that threatened to tear him limb from limb.
Neither of them said anything, so he leaned down and pressed his lips to hers as she cried.
She had found Gabriel in a room that she didn’t even know existed.
As it turned out, Viviana’s house seemed to hold more secrets than Viviana herself.
She had gone into the one room that had been strictly off limits since that terrible day—Viviana’s bedroom. No one had so much as walked up the staircase at the bottom of the hall that led up to her floor. But that day she hadn’t been able to find Gabriel anywhere, and she wouldn’t have even thought to look there if it weren’t for a whispering in the back of her mind.
So she had opened the door and mounted the staircase, which opened up to Viviana’s grand room that was one floor renovated into one big bedroom. The room was alit, but completely empty, and Dominique was about to turn around and leave when the open closet door caught her eyes. She had been in her room the day before that night, and she remembered the door being closed.
So of course she had to investigate. And, as she walked into the closet, she saw the coats on the back wall pushed back to reveal yet another staircase. She hadn’t known that to be there, but she couldn’t deny something that was right in front of her eyes. She wasn’t going to investigate further until she heard footsteps above her head, and she knew that’s where Gabriel was.
As she poked her head into the room that she didn’t know existed, she saw Gabriel sitting on the far side, lit only by the dim light of a single candle. But he wasn’t the only thing there. The room was filled with canvases and paper—tacked on the wall, sitting on the floor, lounging on easels. And all of them were filled with paintings—some of the most beautiful paintings she’d ever seen.
Gabriel looked up at her, his lips in an O shape, as if he’s shocked to see her standing there. But then the shocked expression fell and he was back to looking miserable and withdrawn—the same way he had for a week. “Yeah.”
“I didn’t know she could paint,” the blonde walked towards a half-finished painting, and she couldn’t help but draw in a breath when she saw that it was a picture of her, standing with the axe that she had used to kill Lucifer.
“I think there were only three people in the world who knew she could, and two of them are dead, so.” He doesn’t attempt to meet her eyes, instead turning his attention to another, darker, painting.
The silence stretched between them, and she thought that he wasn’t going to say anything else, but then he turned back to her. “It feels like she’s alive in here. You can still feel her in the bedroom, but in here—it’s like she’s standing right beside me.” He said, and he looked to his left, staring at the empty space as if he thought he could make her materialize by sheer will.
“I miss her too,” Dominique said. She thought about taking another step towards him, but he looked so withdrawn, so miserable that her feet stayed planted firmly in place. “There’s still a half-empty glass of wine on the counter that no one has the heart to touch.”
He ignored her, his eyes flickering towards the ceiling. “She saved me; all she ever did was save me. When she found me, bleeding and broken in the field, she fixed me. She put me back together. And when I died, she never gave up hope on me. I came back, and she fixed me again. Everyone thinks her whole life was about her, but it wasn’t. It was about me.”
“This isn’t your fault, Gabriel.”
He turned to her, eyes blazing. “Yes it is. I fell in love with you. I was the reason Eris came back and summoned Lucifer, who started this whole mess. It’s on me, Dominique. She’s dead because she couldn’t stop saving me.”
“She had a choice. She could’ve walked away,” the witch said quietly.
He scoffed. “Viviana doesn’t walk away from anything.”
“But she could’ve,” she insisted, which, admittedly, wasn’t the smartest thing for her to do. “It wasn’t her fight.”
Gabriel stared at her, dumbfounded for a long moment before his lip curled up in a snarl. “You blame her,” he accused. “You think that it was her fault she died. I could’ve gone with her and protected her. You had the most powerful weapon known to man in your hand, and you did nothing to save her. She didn’t have to die.”
“Gabriel,” she said as he stormed past her. But he didn’t stop. He just kept walking, down the stairs.
She had never felt so distant from him before.
“Take me away from this place,” Viviana begged, her hands pressed against Alex’s chest. “Please, Alex. I don’t want to be here, anymore, I don’t want to marry that man. I want to be with you, so, please, let’s go.”
“Viviana,” Alex said softly, taking her hands in his own. “Running away from your problems isn’t the answer.”
She drew back from him as if he stung her with nothing but his words. Her arms fell limply to her sides, and the look on her face was one that he never wanted to see again. Anger. Hurt. Betrayal. “Are you saying that you wouldn’t run away with me? That you don’t want to be with me. Because if I stay—if I get married—we will never be allowed to be together, do you understand that?”
“Viviana,” he started again, “I want nothing more than to be with you, but if we run, we’re running from more than you could ever comprehend.” They would just be trying to escape Viviana’s life; they’d also be running from Alex’s choices—from Rixon. And he wasn’t sure if Rixon was the right kind of person to be running from.
Her eyebrows knitted together until a realization dawned on her. “You’re scared,” she accused, a mean smile curling around those perfect lips. “That’s it, isn’t it? You’re too scared to run away with me.” The girl, so dainty and light, reached up and wiped angry tears from her eyes. “Well, fine. You can stay here, and I’ll go by myself.”
He grabbed her arm as she tried to walk by him. “Don’t,” he said, amber eyes meeting brown. And he took a step toward her, bringing his hands up on each side of her face before pressing his lips to hers. She was hesitant at first, but then she was kissing him back like she usually did. He pulled back slightly, pressing his forehead to hers. “I’ll go. I’ll take you far, far away from here.”
Viviana’s eyes returned to the ones he knew—warm, welcoming, loving, kind. “You promise?”
“Mio amore,” he whispered, a smile curling around his lips. “I promise.” He nodded. “We’ll leave. We’ll find a place and be happy together. But you must know that you’ll never have a life like you have now, like you could have with the other man.”
“Riches and royalty? Do you think that’s all I care about?” She sounded flabbergasted that he would even think of such a thing, but she stood on the tips of her toes and kissed him again, shortly and sweetly. “All I want in life is you, Alexander. I don’t need to have money or a title to be happy. Just you. You’re everything I’ll ever need.”
He ran a hand through her curls, looking at her like she was the most beautiful woman in the world, and, he had to admit that she was. With her wild hair, warm eyes, and perfectly pink lips, there was no doubt in the world that was the most beautiful creature he had ever encountered. “Tonight, then. When the moon reaches the highest point in the sky, come out here, and we’ll run.”
She barely knew him. She didn’t trust him. But the sight of him walking away from her made her insides churn uncomfortably. Because this time, he wouldn’t be coming back. She gritted her teeth, bouncing from one foot to the other before she propelled herself forward, into the doorway of her little cabin. He had already reached the fence and was about to open it when she spoke.
“I don’t like cheese. I hate wearing socks. I wish I lived in Greece because it’s the most beautiful country. I have a toenail that grows sideways.” At that, he looked over his shoulder, perking an eyebrow. “I’m claustrophobic, and I’m terrified of needles. Feet gross me out. I could live off of French fries, and there’re normally two cartons of chocolate milk in my fridge at a time.”
He was facing her full on now, but he didn’t say anything.
“Reading is the most wonderful thing because, for a little while, I get to live someone else’s life. I complain a lot, but I’m so shy. I love to laugh. Sometimes I like to turn up the radio really loud and dance around the kitchen. And I sing to myself everywhere. I don’t brush my hair because it makes it frizzy. I love animals more than humans.
“I don’t wear pants when I don’t have to. Sometimes I don’t get dressed all day. I shower twice a day. I really miss my mom. My dog, Sansa, is my best friend. I’ve struggled with depression for as long as I can remember. Being alone terrifies me. I don’t talk a lot because it’s hard sometimes. I’m not open because whenever I have been, people have hurt me.”
His face had softened considerably, but he still remained quiet.
“And the thought of falling in love, the thought of someone having that much of me, is the scariest thing of all.”
In a flash, he was in front of her, taking her face in his hands. Their eyes, both dark in colour, were locked, and she could see something burning in the depths of his. Before she could take in a breath, his lips were on hers, strong yet soft. She was hesitant at first, but it felt so natural—so right, that she couldn’t stop herself from relaxing and kissing him back.
He remembered her smelling like summer rain, and sunshine, as if things couldn’t get anymore ironic.
And, through the whole time he knew her, there was never a moment that she wasn’t smiling like she was the happiest person on earth. It always confused him greatly, but, if he was correct, it was also what made her so… appealing to him. Her thirst for life and love and happiness and everything good was apart of what made her so enthralling.
It just seemed like it was impossible. Humans were broken and sad and never pleased. Or at least what he saw of them. But this woman, this woman whose eyes were the colour of burnt coffee and whose laugh was the most beautiful sound to the ears was never like that.
She was happy. She was whole. She was big in mind and spirit and soul.
And he want to know how it was all possible. Wanted to know how she was like she was, and why on earth she always had flowers braided into her hair—a different colour every day of the week.
Eventually, he learned why she braided flowers into her hair, and why sometimes she would lie on the grass with her eyes closed in the scorching bright sun. But the one thing he never learned was what made her so joyful every moment of every day. He had asked her once, but the only response he got from her was, “because it’s a beautiful day. Because I’m alive.”
If he concentrated hard enough, he could hear her saying it. And he could almost feel the way she patted his hand afterword. And he could feel, rather than see, her smile. The smile that was most definitely a thousand times brighter than the sun. The smile that almost made him wish he was human.
He knew now, that the feeling in his gut he got whenever she was near, or whenever he thought about her, was love. Or as close to love someone like him could get.
Thinking rationally, he shouldn’t have so openly accepted it. Letting her get to him was a mistake, though he knew she didn’t mean to. Falling for her was wrong. But, as he thought about it, he knew he didn’t regret it. No. The last thing he regretted was falling in love with Rosalie. They were polar opposites but she loved him and he loved her and that should’ve been enough.
He could’ve given her everything she ever wanted. He would’ve made her a queen, if she had permitted it. Though, if he had to admit, imagining Rosalie in a place like hell was nearly impossible.
He wanted to be with her for the rest of forever. But, as it turned out, she had different plans. So he killed her. He got mad at her, so he killed her husband, and then he killed her. Never once since then did he feel guilt for his actions. Now, he could see so clearly how much of a good choice that was. He should’ve done it earlier, when the feeling started, but he didn’t.
Lucifer wouldn’t admit it, but as he was sitting in his prison that the little blonde witch and his daughter had trapped him in, he felt regret for what he had lost. And what had happened because of it.
“You never did tell me what happened to your parents.”
Her back was to him, so he couldn’t see her face, but he saw her shoulders tense, and her posture go completely still. For the longest time, she said nothing. But, eventually, he heard her exhale a long breath. “They’re dead.” And she said nothing else, neither did she walk away or turn to face him. She just stood there, breathing in and out shallow breaths as if she were trying not to cry.
He felt no need to press the subject, seeing as it was upsetting her, and she wasn’t being forthcoming.
After what he figured was about five minutes, she turned back to him, but didn’t look him in the eye. “I have a bad relationship with my dad. He drank, and we fought nearly every night. I hated the way he treated us. All of us. I used to dream about me, mom, and Paul packing up and leaving. But by the time I was ten, he drank himself to death.” The brunette finally sat, but still avoided his eye.
He pursed his lips, watching her with dark eyes.
“I was fourteen when my mother died. Heart attack. She was my best friend, and for a long time, I felt like I wanted to die too. The only thing that got me through it was Paul. I mean—he was the only family I had left, and I was the only family he had left. Kind of unconventional, me being fourteen and him being just eighteen, but we got through it.
"He’s been a musician ever since I can remember. I basically raised my self for the amount of time he was actually there. But he loved me, and he made sure that he called every day, twice a day. It was lonely. I was just fourteen, living without any family, just trying to get through school and life. A child raising herself. It was a good thing no one found out because I probably would’ve ended up in foster care."
In those few minutes, she had opened up to him more than she had in months. Maybe he was, after all, breaking down the barriers she fought so fiercely to keep up.
"And you survived," he said, reaching across the table to take one of her hands in his. "Despite all odds, you survived. I can’t help but admire your strength."
“She’s a pain in the ass. My sister.” When Elijah looked up at him with a perked brow, Paul simply shrugged. “She’s always right. Even when she’s wrong, she’s right, and she’ll never let you forget it. Not to mention that she’s stubborn as hell. If there’s something she doesn’t want to do, she’s not going to do it. And she’s prideful, too. Won’t ever admit she needs help, even when she does.”
The Original vampire only listened as the brother of the woman he loved spoke.
“One moment you could have one opinion on something, and if she doesn’t agree with it, she can change your mind in ten minutes. Don’t ask me how she does it—she just does.” Paul scratched his cheek, something that Elijah had seen her do many times before. “And I think that she has to be the pickiest person alive. There’s things she doesn’t like that she hasn’t even tried.”
He stopped talking, turning to face Elijah with his brow furrowed as if he was deciding whether to tell him what he was thinking of next. “Trust is a fickle thing with her,” he spoke somewhat hesitantly, as if unsure. “She trusts strangers far more than she should. And the people closest to her are the people she doesn’t trust. She just doesn’t want to get hurt.”
“And she’s not nearly as strong and fearless as she’d like everyone to believe. She’s just a girl, and sometimes she forgets that she’s still a kid.” He shrugged again, running a hand through unruly dark locks. “What I guess I’m really trying to say is that she’s my sister, the only family I have left, and I’m not around nearly as much as I should be.”
Paul looked at him, and he knew that his little witch wasn’t the only person in her family with trust issues. “Take care of her. Like I said—she’s a pain in the ass, but she deserves the best. And don’t hurt her because then I’d have to kill you. She’s had enough hurt in her life to last forever.”
"What are you doing here?"
"Tying up lose ends."
He watched her from where he stood. It took all of three seconds for the realization to dawn on him, and he took a step backward, pressing himself against the cold, hard rock wall. As his eyes widened, hers stayed narrowed. She could barely look at him. He was disgusting.
But, she knew, it wasn’t just him and his actions that she was disgusted with. It was herself and hers. Because she was the one who let him into her bed, into her heart time and time again. She trusted him blindly and without reserve. One could say there was a point where she loved him. But not anymore. She hated him now; hated him almost as much as she hated Lucifer, as she hated herself.
Because, in reality, his actions were worse than Lucifer’s. And he was not only able to trick Viviana, a woman who held herself in high-esteem for her instincts, he tricked Lucifer too. He was nothing more than filth in her eyes now. And she was here to make sure that he would never be able to hurt any of the people she loved after she died.
The woman was in front of him in a flash, stabbing the blade into his gut. He let out a loud cry, but he made no move to fight her back, or try to get away. He just looked up at her with big, blue eyes, pleading silently. “You don’t understand. I was trying to save us.”
"There is no us, Rixon," she pointed out, her face a mask of cool indifference.
Strong hands reached up to grip her shoulders, but he still didn’t push her away. “We’re supposed to rule together, you and I. In a new world. A world not run by humans were we have to be ashamed, where we have to hide. I’m trying to save you, all of you. We’ll be safe once we take over. You and your loved ones will never have to worry about another thing again.
“It’ll be our utopia, Viviana. Not there’s. A place where everything will be better. I just wanted to give you a better life.”
For a second, she considered his words. She considered his plea. A new world. Safe for them. It was too good to be true, and she knew it. If she didn’t know him better, if she didn’t hate him so much, perhaps she could’ve been swayed to his side. But she did know him, and she did hate him, so her feet remained planted firmly on hers. All he did was lie, this time was no different.
"We both know, Rixon, that there is no way of taking this from the humans. There is no safe. Not while you’re alive, at least."
And the last thing the demon of mischief saw was Viviana’s snarl as she took the blade from his gut, and used it to disconnect his head from his body.
The vampire watched as his body fell, and his head rolled across the floor. There. She let the sword fall from the ground as she pulled a package of matched from her pocket. She lighted one, and let it fall onto his body. Within seconds, the whole things exploded, and Viviana was left standing there with bits and pieces of him on her clothes and face.
“You do realize that when you call me, I come to you as-is. So if you call me when I’m naked, I will show up here sans-clothing.”
“Please,” Viviana drawled, “it’s not like Isis gives you any anyway.”
An amused smile spread across his lips, and he crossed his arms over his chest. “Touché. Now, what is it that you needed?”
She couldn’t believe that she was about to do this. Asking Jace for help was one of the worst things she could think of. Even though they’ve been recently civil for Zach’s sake, she didn’t like him any more than she did seven hundred years ago. But she had nowhere else to turn. She couldn’t ask Gabriel, and she didn’t want to put more on Briar’s plate.
“I need you to bless this.” The vampire held out a sword, with the sharp, curved blade.
He perked an eyebrow. “Any particular reason why?”
She fell back into one of the larger plush chairs in her bedroom, rubbing her forehead. Viviana opened to mouth to speak, but no words would come out. She couldn’t say them because she didn’t want them to be true. “Jace,” she chocked out, shaking her head.
He sat on the couch across from her, ducking his head. “I know,” he said quietly. When Viviana looked at him with raised eyebrows, he shrugged. “I’ve always known about your connection to Lucifer. It’s part of the job description. I just found out about… y’know. Kind of hard to believe.” His blue eyes were distant and guarded.
She knew the look. There were many times that she wore those eyes herself. It was always when she didn’t want to seem like she was attached to someone when she actually was. She knew how he was feeling, she knew the mask, she just didn’t understand why. As far as she knew, Jace disliked her as much as she disliked him.
“So you’re actually going to go through with it,” he said, his eyes tainted out of the window.
She blew a long breath out of her cheeks. “I don’t see where I have much of a choice.”
Now, he looked at her. “There’s always a choice, Viviana. Whether you make the right or wrong one is up to you, of course.” His face was drawn tight, and completely serious.
“I don’t have a choice,” she repeated. “I want them to have a good life. All of them.”
“If you chose to keep Lucifer imprisoned instead of killing him, they will still have a good life. One thousand, two thousand years is a long time to live and love. And even then, he might give you a choice—allow you and your loved ones to live in exchange for not fighting him. All of you could have a good life for the rest of an eternity.”
She looked at Jace. Of course, she knew that. She had thought of them. Any option she could come up with, she’d thought of it. Because, if there was one thing that Viviana didn’t want to do, it was die. She wanted to live and see them all grow up. But she couldn’t. She’d spent her whole life being selfish, and she couldn’t be anymore.
“I want to live, Jace. With them. For them. Leaving Gabriel, Dominique, and hell, even Briar is the worst thing possible.” Her eyes wandered up toward the ceiling, and she let out another long, shaky breath.
“But you’ve already made up your mind, haven’t you?”
Viviana shook herself, as if she could actually shake away the sadness that had laid itself in her soul. And then she turned to Jace again, holding the sword out to him. “Will you do it?”
He nodded. “What’s for? You already have the axe that Dominique needs. I don’t have enough power alone to make another one to kill Lucifer.” A dark eyebrow perked up as he took the sword from his former wife’s grasp.
“It’s not for him. I need this to slay another demon—one of my own, this time.”
He didn’t question anything, and that was okay because she didn’t feel like explaining anyway.
Jace set the sword on the coffee table in front of him. She watched him with interest as he held his hands over the blade, closing his eyes in concentration. And she watched as a golden light emanated from his hands, stretching down toward the sword. Soon, the golden light covered the whole blade, and in the next second it went out.
He opened his eyes, picking it up and handing it to her. “I hope you know what you’re doing.”
“Have a little faith in me, will you? I mean—the worst thing that can happen is I die,” she said dryly.