In my mind’s eye, I saw the living room to our modest safe house, her sitting on the couch while I cleaned my knives on the floor. Smoke drifted lazily from an ashtray beside me, a rag in my hand running the length of my final knife. I paused to draw from my lit cigarette, but shifted my focus from my weapons to Monica when the weight of her gaze settled on me.
As much as her eyes were fixed upon me, though, they seemed a thousand miles away. A mental wall granted her private thoughts sanctuary from my psychic prodding. I perked an eyebrow, reaching forward to extinguish my cigarette and set the dagger down. “Your expression is pensive, yet your mind is closed,” I said, white plumes billowing outward with my words. Reclining back against one of the other chairs, I adjusted my position so I could face her. “Is there something you wish to say?”
Monica glanced at my blades before looking at me again. The room was dark enough for me to have my sunglasses off, so she could not ignore the deliberate stare I maintained. She did not answer at first, though – not until shifting in her seat and pointing at the collection of blades. “Have you always taken such good care of those?” she asked, a question I recognized as an obvious diversion.
Still, I shrugged, apt to temporarily indulge it. “I learned to do so early on, at first for the sake of ritual, but later for the sake of use.” Sliding my leg into a bent position, I rested an arm on my knee. “Neglecting to polish even the finest steel will cause it to rust and deteriorate. It is hard to depend upon a katana which lacks a sure cut, especially as an assassin.”
“Now, are you truly curious about proper weapon care, or is there something else on your mind?” I smirked, an expression which turned more bemused the longer I maintained it.
She narrowed her eyes in response, but betrayed the action by grinning as well. “Maybe I’m just curious. Haven’t thought that might be it? What’s the matter, don’t I look like the sort of girl who’d be interested in whipping a sword around?”
“Yes, I can just envision you throwing knives and decapitating vampires. Perhaps someday you might even get around to drawing the blade you keep strapped to your thigh.”
“Are you trying to say I don’t know how to use it?”
“A knife is easy enough to use if you are able to recognize which is the sharp end.” My grin broadened. “You do know which one that is, am I correct? Or must I extend you the offer of teaching you?”
“You sarcastic son of a bitch.” Monica laughed
“You flatter me, miss.”
“That wasn’t a complement. I’m still wondering why I didn’t drive a stake through your chest when I had the chance.”
“Because you were overwhelmed by my charm and my good looks. It is a burden to be so attractive, but one I bear nonetheless.”
She shook her head, a gesture which caused me to smile. Finally, she settled enough to regain her composure. “Before I need a pin to pop your ego, I’ll come clean with you. Yes, there is something on my mind and, no, it’s not your burdensome good looks.”
I nodded, leaning back against the chair again. Resting my arm on the cushion, I motioned with my hand as I spoke. “One does not need to be psychic to see that. You have been wearing it on your face all night. Please, tell me what it is. I am yet unable to sift through your private thoughts.”
“It’s a lot of things, actually.” Monica drew in a deep breath. She exhaled it slowly and allowed her disposition to become serious. “Lydia’s gone. It’s finally hit me that she won’t be there to offer us guidance any longer.”
“It is just as well. I have thought about it and concluded that watching me become a sadist could not have made the afterlife lovely in any way.”
“No, I’m sure you’re right.”
“Be that as it may, I do agree. Her oversight was beneficial.”
Monica sighed. “It was the only oversight I ever knew. She’s the reason why I went looking for a duplicate pendant; how I knew everything that happened before she was murdered and where my insight into you came from. Granted, she never spoke to me in my dreams, but she at least talked enough about you that I knew where to look for information. If it had been left up to the Council…”
She trailed off. I furrowed my brow. “What of it?” I asked.
“I would’ve been completely in the dark. When I first told them I meant to rehabilitate you, they told me it was my funeral. I’ve been hoping that after what happened with Sabrina, we’ll regain their oversight, but…”
“… You do not think they will hear our case?”
Monica nodded. “Exactly. They might even seek action against us.” She paused to glance away again, frowning. “I haven’t wanted to deter you, Flynn, but they were pretty pissed off with me the last time we spoke. What I told you before, about your life possibly being in jeopardy – I still think it is. Though I’m hoping for the best, I’m preparing for the worst.”
“Well, I thought the idea somewhat whimsical anyway, no offense toward this blind optimism you possess with regard to me.” My own gaze became distant as I studied my knives, seeing in them not merely my current mission, but the havoc I wrought with them as an assassin. “To be perfectly honest, I am not entirely certain I deserve to go on living.”
“If Lydia said you must, then you must. The Fates have their own agenda. That they gave you a mission in the first place means you have to stay on this path.”
“And what path might that be?”
Monica offered me a sober smile, her eyes speaking comfort to my unsettled soul. While such a look would have ordinarily repulsed me, I found it soothing for a change. “That’s for you to find out. I’m afraid I might not be able to give you much assistance beyond tonight.”
Those words caused me to straighten my posture and regard her much more seriously. Not asking for permission before doing so, I delved into her mind as far as she would allow me, to search through the thoughts troubling her. She did not offer me any resistance. Instead, the message she could not bring herself to saying played inside my mind.
I was yet unacquainted with the ways of the Supernatural Order, but already knew one thing – their roundabout ways confounded me. As a creature of action, I reckoned that if I was such a threat, I should have been done away with despite any words of defense Monica might have already presented. They allowed me to be the devil for four years, though, and did nothing but watch and wait. Monica waited for me to find her, they waited for me to realize my supernatural powers – everything those daft mortals did seemed to involve waiting. I could not fathom such a passive attitude. But as I plumbed Monica’s thoughts, a much different picture was being painted with the brush strokes of anxiety. The Council could be spurred into action. They just needed to be prodded.
“So, they would finally send a hunter to pursue me,” I said, breaking the brief silence which had settled between us. “The killer becomes a penitent and yet they would put me to death?”
The look in her eyes turned haunted. Monica sighed, glancing away while straightening in her seat reflexively. “Not just any hunter, Flynn. A seer. Probably even a master seer. Someone with a hell of a lot more training and experience than even you have.”
I could not help but to scoff. “Please, witch. The covens sent assassins to exterminate me and not a one of them was successful.”
“The kinds of people I’m talking about would make your assassins look like amateurs.” Her absurd posture turned all the more confusing when her fingers began tugging at the fabric of her skirt. “Think about your fight with Sabrina for a moment and take this seriously when I say a fully-trained master seer would have mopped the floor with her. I know where this brash level of confidence is coming from, and I’m not trying to crush your ego, but these men go through intense physical and mental training. They infiltrate covens and can take entire droves of vampires out without breaking a sweat. The chances of us surviving one of those encounters borders in the slim-to-none category.”
Her eyes found mine again. “I want you to make me a promise,” she said, mustering a sobering amount of seriousness in the way she regarded me. “When I go in to speak to the Council, I want you to hide outside and listen. If they threaten action against us, I want you to get as far away from here as possible, with whatever you can carry on your back. Don’t come for me, just go.”
“Bullshit. I shall make no such promise.”
“Damn it, Flynn. You must.”
Regardless of how much her admonition had begun to unnerve me, her request irritated me to the point of clenched teeth. “Monica, I cannot and shall not. As much as Lydia gave me a commission, she assigned you to be my companion. I need your counsel. Leaving you to face their judgment without intervening is out of the question.”
“But you have to.” Her tone of voice turned desperate. “This is important…”
“I have no doubt the matter is grave. This is why I cannot do it alone.”
“Someone else might be able to help you.”
“And what would they ask of me in return?” I narrowed my eyes at her and rose to my feet. “How could I trust them not to plunge a dagger into my back when my defenses were down? You are the only person I trust and I do not wish to search the ends of the earth for another in whom I could put my faith.” I paused, frowning while struggling with how angry this proposition was making me. “I dare say, you are the only being who believes in me.”
Monica sighed and looked away. “You have no faith in yourself.”
“I do not, for I know what kind of devil I am.” I sat on the edge of the chair and stared at her until her gaze returned to me. “I may be tame for now, but I am, in no way, domesticated. Depravity was never more personified – indeed, I was probably viler than Sabrina herself and would have eventually usurped her, given the time. My humanity may be in control now, but even when I lay upon the floor of that coven, I succumbed to the siren call of my dark side and until Lydia’s talisman called me back.”
“But you came back.”
I frowned. “The next time I might not. You do not understand what I was being enticed to do by Sabrina. I would have defiled my only friend to do her bidding. I would have liked it; loved it, in fact. I once told Rose I would make her a trinket in my pocket – well, I would have worn you like a coat.” This time my gaze was the severe one, meeting hers in an expression meant to penetrate into the marrow. “I will not become that monster, not without someone who would put me to death if I became a tyrant once more. You are the sole person with the ability to either coax me back to my senses or end me should the monster resist being caged.”
“Flynn,” Monica said, the color escaping her face in some small measure. “I don’t think you’ll have that problem any longer. You’re a seer now. If you turn evil again – trust me when I say this – the Order’s trigger finger will be itchier than mine. They’re not about to let someone as powerful as you running around without a conscience.”
“I do not trust their ability.”
“Well, trust this much: from this point forward the game has changed and you and I have to be prepared to play it.”
I could not issue a rebuttal. Our conversation gradually relaxed and I swore to her, after a great deal of prodding, I would flee to safety and leave her to the Order’s judgment should the worst come to pass. She smiled at me and said, “Now was that so difficult?” but I suspected she knew already what course of action I would take. It led me to wonder if she forced me to swear the promise merely to soothe her own conscience.
I simply wished it would not have resulted in her brush with death.
“Next time, we must be mindful of elders wielding stakes, my dear,” I said, shifting away from the memory and returning to my hospital vigil. My now-informed watched rested under the haze of sedatives, looking as though the very shadows she feared had come to claim her. I fought against the temptation to remain by her side, especially upon catching sight of the clock. After all she had done, I would be doing her a disservice in risking my death.
So, I indulged another steadying breath and exhaled it slowly as I strolled to her bedside. Reaching for her hand, I wrapped my fingers around it and gave it a subtle squeeze. “Rest. I shall be close at hand. And Fates help whoever would mean you ill should they harm you in your sleep.” With that, I released her hand and slowly, walked in the direction of the door.The cavalcade of humanity waited on the other side, a familiar hum gaining volume as the morning shift filtered in for the day. I passed doctors and nurses, becoming aware I would be spending my time in their constant presence. The prospect both unnerved me and piqued my interest, presenting both a challenge and a classroom to me so long as we could avoid the Order. Shrugging, I wandered off to locate a suitable resting place and allow my tired mind reprieve.