Cathy walked into her old campus with feigned ease, greeting inquisitive eyes with a smile. She was here to do one thing, get the necklace and nothing else mattered. She ignored the familiar prickling, tingling feeling invading her nostrils and the moisture gathering in her eyeballs, this was her old life and any semblance of sentimental nostalgia was a bitter after-effect of her once pathetic life.
God, how she hated this place. She recalled how nervous and lonely she had felt coming here, how she had cried in those first few lonely weeks, telling her mum how desperately she had wanted to come home, the knowledge that if she did she would fail her mum and end up staying in the same dead end town with no life. She had worked her arse off in all classes- psychology, sociology, English Lit, while the superficial cliques had bitched, gossiped and still managed to get better grades, whilst still having a social life that put Paris Hiltons to shame. When she had actually lost her temper and got all indignant one nameless sheep had actually had the nerve to suggest a boob job might help. One girl had stuck up for her though, been there for her, brought her out of her shell, and Cathy had learned not all party girls were minions from hell and not all men the devil.
Now I'm the minion of hell.
She gazed at the all too familiar trees, wooden benches, which were suddenly looking a lot more lethal than they once did and drab buildings and felt her throat closing up. She could see everything almost as if it were a movie, meeting David under those palm trees, glaring suspiciously at him while she ate her apple, him offering to carry her books and her refusing because she would not be a pathetic female or be won over that easily god damn it, and finally the time he had found her in tears because she was convinced she would never fit in anywhere and couldn't stand the constant loneliness any longer. He had held her, soothed her, and understood her which is something no one, not even Rachel and her mum had truly done before. They knew her yes, but they could not relate. They didn't have that same loneliness, that emptiness, the guard to prevent them getting hurt because they were scared and the constant feeling that they were a freak and would never have , could never have, the life everyone else did... but David had.
At least David had an excuse, I was just shut off. I never fit in High School because I was a goodie goodie geek who couldn't trust anyone and the only guys that ever showed interest in me just wanted a quick lay , not an actual relationship, apparently I was so boring , geeky and weird I should have been insanely grateful for the offer and dropped down and kissed their feet. Shame on me!
Her eyes went to the palm tress again. Then I met David and quickly learned not to tar them all with the same brush.
She shook her head in anger. High school was fake, juvenile and cliquey , maybe had I not shut myself off just because of some silly jocks I would have found someone who actually liked me years ago.
She knew now how a lot of her isolation was her own fault, it wasn't people didn't like her, it was that she didn't give them a chance too. David, however, had found a key to her heart, he had been like King Arthur the only one worthy of pulling the sword out of the stone and she would love him forever for opening her eyes and giving her everything she had ever been denied. Their first kiss, that day under the palm trees, hadn't been electric but it had been earnest, sweet and felt like he was reaching into her soul and telling her it was ok, she wasn't alone and she was visible, desirable , he understood. She could barely believe that somebody that gorgeous, with his fair share of female admirers, who was strong, kind, brave and incredibly special connected with her, chose her, and she was and always would be forever grateful to him for giving her that confidence that at the time she so sorely lacked.
Because I was pathetic. He only ever loved one part of me anyway, the weak, damaged, vulnerable part. The second the different, stronger aspects of my personality came out I knew we were in trouble. I wasn't allowed to evolve, have my own mind, show my spirit, my fire. We got stuck one aspect of my personality, the worst one and I had to repress everything I actually liked about myself. He loved the one part of me I actually hated. It was never going to work.
"Cathy?" Startled, she spun around to identify the potential enemy…and visibly relaxed.
Kirsty was the epitome of dumb blond, sweet girl but not even crickets would want to go in that head. Still, least she provided a welcome distraction. Cathy saw the girls eyes widen as she took in just what Cathy wearing. The black leather pants, silk red halter neck and studied boots definitely did not belong in old Cathy's wardrobe. They did in hers. She was not trying to be unobtrusive, she wanted to be seen. She had lived in the shadows long enough when human , now was her time to shine. Just a shame I didn't run into the superficial wannabees, would have just loved them to see me like this! She also privately hoped they would say something and give her an excuse to kill them, she still had not fed off a living human, Ree had been giving her hospital blood instead and so far remained patient but she was beginning to crave it and she had no doubt his patience would run out soon. She could think of nothing better than sinking her teeth into some rich bitches throat. She noticed, with a kick, that Kristy was still eyeing her with apprehension. Cathy was not surprised. Her get up, red lips , dramatic make up and curled hair, made her look dominant, sexy and deadly. An altogether different person. Which is the idea. Cathy decided to play civil.
"Hey, how are you?" Not that I care.
"Great, " Kirsty gushed. "Did I tell you I got selected for cheerleader tryouts?"
"How awesome! " She failed to pick up on the sarcasm. She always did. Cathy's gratitude at her interruption was rapidly turning to annoyance, any amusement abruptly dying
"I mean of course I didn't tell you, I've not seen you in weeks! Spill! Where have you been? Are you coming back to campus-"
"Actually no, I'm just visiting Rachel. "
Kirsty's face fell.
If only this wasn't so public I could shut up the twittering twit once and for all. As much as she was becoming accustomed to random thoughts like this, they never ceased to chill her. I need to get away from her before she becomes a very light meal. She may be an annoying airhead but I can think of better people who deserve my fangs.
Cathy forced a cheery grin. "Lots of personal stuff I can't really talk about right now but gotta go. It's been fun, was nice to catch up."
"Totally, you look amazing. We should go for lunch sometime."
"Please don't tempt me," and then leaving Kristy with an extremely confused expression, sped on to her old dorm
David gripped his seat as Steve veered dangerously around the last bend until they came to their destination.
"Are you sure she'll be here?"
David nodded , hating myself for what he was about do . There should have been another way , there wasn't. The necklace was no longer safe with either Rachel or him anymore but they did not know about her. The house was quaint, safely secluded behind bushes and honey groves, the nearest thing for miles around was a small farm, just now sheep were grazing in the field, nibbling on some tasty grass curiously inspecting the two intruders getting out the car. He had a scary moment where he almost felt perturbed by their watchful eyes, almost as if they were spies ready to report information. I'm losing it. They are animals which is not surprising , she did always love them. He smiled painfully upon approaching the bright pink house, a reminder of an innocence forever denied her.
They did not even need to knock. The door flew open as soon as they touched the rustic gate. She had not changed, why would she?
Despite the fact she just about reached his stomach, her joyful cerulean eyes carried an intensity that belied her age. "Hiya smelly."
Her eyes met Steve's and she giggled impishly.
He wasn't charmed. "We're leaving the necklace in the care of a child? No offence , sweetheart."
"She's more than a child," David defended.
In fact Steve had not been happy about this plan at all even before meeting her and her present attitude was clearly doing little to alter that fact. He did not blame him, he was far from thrilled about it himself but there was no other option and what did Steve expect? She was only eight.
He did a quick glance around, aside from the sheep to the right and some very hungry bees feeding on the roses there was nobody in site. He passed her the necklace, knowing he did not need to tell her how important it was.
Steve felt the need to reiterate. "It's not a toy, don't be hanging it around your Barbie's heads or leaving it in the dollhouse alright? It is very important". He turned to David ,"are you seriously saying a child can look after it better than we can? Do you have any idea what that does for my self esteem?"
She straightened and stared into his eyes so intensely Steve fell silent. "Listen loser, I am not just a child. I can take care of myself, I live here by myself and I can do things so much better than you ever could. Like you they don't see me, I'm just a stupid little kid right? So when they talk, make plans, whatever, I listen."
Steve laughed dismissively, "this is your contact, David? This is where you get your info from? Your inside girl is a six year old"
"Oh my apologises, that makes it so much better."
I can't wait around here. The whole point of not going inside is so we can get gone.
"Well whose the one arguing with an eight year old loser. Shut up, I'm having the necklace so nur!" She stuck her tongue out cheekily.
"Be careful where you point that thing I'll bite it off."
She barred her fangs "Bring it!"
"Stop it," David pleaded "shut up. Both of you! "
Jade pouted. "I really don't like him."
"I'm used to it, sweetheart."
Seeing he was not going to build harmony anytime soon, David addressed Steve. "Listen, she may not seem like the ideal choice but I have known her for years and she is right. Nobody knows I know her, they think I hate vampires, not that I associate with one, well aside from you. She is trustworthy and she is the last person anybody will think of. Give her a chance, she might surprise you."
He rolled his eyes. "Whatever, I'll be in the car."
He waited until he had left then quickly hugged Jade. "Be careful and keep your ears out."
She smiled, pushing platinum curls out of her face "I always do."
As he turned to leave, she called out-
"Hey, visit soon when you can. I've missed you."
"You know I'm only a phone call away. If things get too dangerous, call me. I'm not risking you. Love you."
She pulled a face. "Mushy! Love you too smelly"
When he looked back she was gone.
A long smile spread over Cathy's lips as she approached her tacky old dorm. She reached into her pants, that were already beginning to chafe, Maybe not the best idea of a summer day, and curled her slender fingers around her key. This was almost too easy. Just hope the wonder duo didn't turn up and get her to change the locks. She might not care about being seen but battering down a door could just draw too much attention and killing innocent bystanders wasn't something she relished.
Not for the first time she wondered exactly what she would find once she got past the door. David had told her about the necklace days ago and she had only just recovered enough to let Ree know and attempt to retrieve it, she was being altogether too optimistic to think she could just turn up and it would still be there waiting for her, with a box of chocolates and maybe some wine too. Ree had told her to try though, and if it wasn't there and Rachel foolishly was, well, Cathy thought she could be more persuasive than Steve had ever been.
She did not want to do this, part of her hoped Rachel had already fled, if she knew what was good for her she would be in Switzerland right about now. I just hope Steve and David aren't in there with her. For all I know I could be walking into a trap. Ree's promises about teaching her more had been futile, he had merely ordered her to go straight to Rachel's , retrieve the necklace and if it had already gone prise the information out of her , to her relief he had not said anything about killing her yet the fact remained David and Steve were two steps ahead of them right now and Ree was being unnaturally calm about it. He also did not seem to be able to comprehend that teaching her all about her powers was fine yet if Steve was behind this door she would never live long enough to use them.
She was no longer smiling anymore.
She cautiously tried the knob, certain it would be locked and was amazed when she felt it twist under her gentle tug and fly open.
Rachel stood at the other side of the room, stinking of fake tan and looking implacable as ever.
Cathy wrinkled her nose in distaste. "Same old Rachel. No matter what's going on you've always gotta look good, nice to know you've got your priorities straight."
Her eyes imperceptibly scanned for any other presence in the room. Her senses came up empty. She casually strode in, kicking the door shut behind her.
To her dismay, Rachel was unfazed.
"I'd say I have my priories a lot straighter than you do right now and as I recall I did try to teach you about fashion," she gave her a brief once over "guess Ree is just a better teacher. If I'd have known this is what it takes you to loosen up I'd have thrown you to vampires ages ago we would have had more fun."
"You weren't important enough to know about vampires or anything at all really. You should just stick to necking shots and throwing yourself at men, it's all you'll ever be good for."
She was gratified when she saw the brief flash of hurt behind Rachel's eyes. Destroying her was going to be far too easy.
To her credit, she recovered quickly, yet it was too late. Cathy had already detected weakness and she was going to do everything she could to exploit it.
Rachel forced a grin. "But now I am. In fact I'm let in on every little secret nowadays but then I guess you already know that or you wouldn't be here."
Cathy gave a genuine smile, grateful to her for cutting the bull and getting straight down to business. There really was no need to draw this out.
"How very perceptive of you. Now I was meant to ransack the place, searching for the necklace but to be honest Id much rather save my energy and your time as we both know that would be rather redundant. I take it Captain America has already given you the 411 and beaten me to it?" She didn't wait for an answer. "All I want to know is where it is and I'll leave you to…..well…..whatever it is you actually do with your life."
Rachel flopped down on the bed, lying on her stomach and grabbing a keg from the floor. "Drink?"
Cathy stared at her , confused. "Exactly. Drink, party, shop, dance on bar tables, whatever classy antics you wish to get up to. You can go back to having fun with your life."
Rachel smirked. "No, I'm asking you if you want a drink. You realise we have never got drunk together? Not once. That's rather sad. I do realise you prefer the redder stuff but I don't have any wine available."
Cathy couldn't prevent a tiny smile. Rachel had a habit of getting past peoples defences, breaking down walls, it was part the reason Cathy had become friends with her, she always found it hard to say no to Rachel or stay mad at her for long. You're not that person anymore! Rachel is not the alpha female here, she's trying to worm her way in, past your defences, show her you're the one in control now .
" When I want a drink trust me you'll know about it." She fought to keep her voice as menacing as possible.
Rachel didn't flinch. "You can try to kill your boyfriend but you still wont have lager with me? What's that about?"
Cathy had enough. She marched over to the bed, grabbing a fistful of scarlet hair, she saw the panic in her old friend's eyes, it only encouraged her further. Yanking her up by the hair , she dragged her to the wall, the lager can fell helplessly on the floor, colouring the yellow carpet and giving the room an unpleasant odour. Almost as if she has pissed herself. I can only dream. She's scared but she's not that scared. Yet. Rachel wasn't trying to fight, although she was reflexively trying to stand on her tiptoes to relieve the pain. Cathy forced herself not to care. She slammed her into the wall with enough force to bruise, then held her up by her hair.
"What you're trying to do, this whole girl talk, bonding, lets still be best mates act, isn't going to work. I tried to kill David, the ex love of my life, you really think I won't do the same to you? For once in your useless little life try and find a single brain cell and do something intelligent for once , before I turn the rest of you as crimson as this," she gave her hair a vicious little twist "and see if you're as tasty as everyone seems to think you are. " Rachel grimaced, shutting her eyes in pain. Lumps of soft locks gave way and spread over Cathy's hands like a sea of blood. She let her drop to the floor, landing in the urine coloured spillage. "Still fancy a drink? Feel free to lick it up. Sure you've had your tongue in worse places."
It took Rachel a moment to speak, when she did however, she sounded anything but cowed. "Is this what you want? Me kneeling at your feet, everyone worshipping at your alter?" Then to her disbelief, Rachel met her gaze, smoothed down her ripped, battered hair and straightened up, getting to her feet and facing her straight on. "The one person who did that is now paying for it and yet he still can't let go of you."
"I'm sorry, is this where the violins come out? Where's the backing orchestra, behind the curtain?"
"Sarcasm, you always hide behind sarcasm and you know when you do that? When you've always done that? When you're afraid!" Cathy felt an inward chill, she chose to ignore it. "I know that-"
"Let me guess, I've already done this part so lets skip to the cliff notes. You know a part of me still loves you all, wants to be good. can be reached and so forth. Rachel, I think you're confused, you're the slutty party girl who spreads her legs like a neglected little puppy for anyone offering you a bone, who gets her throat ripped out in act two, not the hero who spouts out very movie cliché going, David's already got that part covered which kind of makes you expendable. "
She inwardly winced at her own cruelness. Why do I care? I'm getting a little sick of her and David playing the sentimental routine. Gotta admit though am impressed, maybe David should have let her in on everything before, never thought she had this much spunk in her , shame I'm going to have to squash it.
Rachel shook her head, her eyes once again betraying her. "No, I was actually going to say I know a deep part of you likes this."
Cathy was utterly taken aback. What? This wasn't in the expected script. What the hell does she mean?
"I don't blame you. You always felt dowdy and in my shadow. I was always the centre of attention and had everything come easy, you had a tough childhood, always felt isolated and lonely, you must have felt practically invisible until you met David but I knew it was never going to work. He never completed you, he only completed one side of you, he didn't see the strong, sarcastic, independent side I know and love. He was safe and gave you the confidence you needed but it was never going to be a lasting romance. You were both good for each other temporarily but we both know it was never going to be any more than that. He could never provide the excitement you crave, you were always going to get bored and stifled and he was always going to end up disillusioned and disappointed. Why do you think I kept encouraging you get out there and flirt more?"
"Because you're a slut?" She couldn't believe what she was hearing. "David is meant to be your friend, how dare you imply-"
"Why are you getting so upset? Am I not right? He doesn't matter to you anymore remember? None of us do?"
Cathy's eyes flared, furious at the unexpected trickery. "Bravo," she clapped her hands theatrically. "I never knew you had the brains, shame you couldn't have applied that shame ingenuity to your studies . You know you and Steve should get together you're practically made for each other you're both so well versed in manipulative mind games."
"That's a little pot calling kettle don't ya think? " Rachel considered, " still, who knows, maybe we will, I am on his team now since the last agent went rogue "
Unlike her own barbed comments Rachel's sense of humour was gentle meant to mollify rather than antagonise yet Cathy felt herself becoming inexplicably angry. Even though she had brought it up, his name still unnerved her and Cathy was hurt that Rachel could laughably joke about such a thing when he had tortured and nearly killed her.
"How can you joke about such a thing? " she vehemently asked, dimly aware her ruse was slipping. "I don't suppose he told you what he did to me in passing conversation? You condemn me for doing what I need to do in order to survive yet everyone can forgive him, trust him, well I'm really glad you can all be best mates now I am out of the picture."
Rachel eyed her sympathetically "You need to decide whether you're the evil vixen or the victim you can't play both parts. "
Cathy kept silent, knowing she was right.
I keep standing here, hypocritically preaching about the unfairness of it all after what I've done. I'm meant to be intimidating her, not getting all woe is me.
It hurts that's all. Hurts he is taking a place in my life, with my friends, plotting against me , he has taken everyone that matters and all I ever wanted in life.
Rachel seemed to take the silence as encouragement and calmly continued. "I know a part of you has always been drawn to the darker aspects of life and with the vampire blood all those urges you've always had for power and control are coming to the service, part of you wants to let go and have fun with all this but don't you see that is what Ree is counting on? He controls you first by fear and then by pleasure until you embrace it, like it and then everything the human part of you is trying to protect won't matter anyway."
"Who says it does now?"
Rachel rolled her eyes heavenward. " If my best friend was completely gone you wouldn't be so upset about us trusting Steve, you would have done more than just rip clumps of my hair out, and you wouldn't be stalling like you are. I know you feel alone and lost but we still care about you , we can help you deal with these urges and you can stand up to Ree, because the Cathy I know would never have been anyone's bitch. He has more power over you then any one of those bullies used to and you're giving in. You talk about gaining power when all you're doing is losing it and any sense of self and becoming weaker than you ever were when you were human."
The words hit her like a lighting bolt in the chest. It was everything she had known deep down all long. One thing she had always prized herself on was her independence, her uniqueness, her ability to not conform. She had become one of those scared sheep she had been so against.
Sensing her indecision, Rachel pressed on.
"You're talking to the queen of acting on impulse and going wild and like any binge this will only feel good and block everything out until realisation hits and when that happens it's not going to be something that aspirin can fix. " She paused, warily assessing Cathy and then decided to go in for the kill. "I know you're worried about your mum but what would she rather you do? Turn against everything and hurt everyone to save her life? David's parents were murdered and he still kept on fighting and now you've aligned yourself with their murderer , you -"
"What?" Cathy who had been unnaturally silent, was now awake and present. The question came out like a screech.
Rachel appeared to sense her mistake. It was too late. "His parents were never alive," Rachel muttered, unable to meet Cathy's eyes, "he only just told me , he didn't want to tell you. Vampires murdered them after he moved here, we think it was Ree."
Oh god! How did he not tell me? He pretended they were alive, talked about me meeting them, though he always avoided questions but I thought that was just David. How could he have got involved with me knowing that? I'm lucky I wasn't murdered, we were lucky we all weren't.
The sympathetic and selfish parts raged within her soul. She had always known knowing him was dangerous but they had slaughtered his parents and he hadn't even thought to slip it in conversation.
He obviously doesn't trust me, share anything with me, our entire relationship was a sham after all. It must have been awful for him when I mentioned them but I didn't know, or when I mentioned my mum . No wonder he was always so overprotective all the time. How can he have dealt with this alone? Why didn't he tell me?
Wait, he knew the danger for everyone he cared about including himself but still fights Ree. When I joined to save my family, joined the monster who most likely organised his parents murder, he must have felt sick. It just makes everything so much worse. So much for Ree not being a monster, I knew how evil he was all along. He's capable of anything just to prove his point.
She eyed Rachel.
The debate with herself was over, and so was this monotonous conversation.
"Thanks for clearing everything up, I guess you do provide clarity after all. This girl talk has been lovely and it's been adorable to catch up but I want what I came for."
"You know it's not here," Rachel muttered.
Cathy could tell she was kicking herself. It was a shame she'd been surprisingly perceptive and almost reached her, then again her love of gossip and inability to keep a secret had always been her downfall , part of the reason she wasn't trusted with anything initially.
"This is true, but you know where it is so to quote one of you're old favourite phrases "spill!"
This time Rachel lost her anguished expression and Cathy could tell the sass was back. "I really don't. David is big on secrets, you should know that."
"I thought you were "let in on every little secret nowadays?" She was becoming exasperated.
"I was exaggerating, I like to do that remember? They came, took it and left. You don't believe me then do what you must to prove you're a bad ass, but just know you'll be killing a defenceless human who genuinely doesn't know. " Green eyes bore into Cathy's "I won't fight. I won't even scream."
"Like you'd have chance, " the words were cliché and slid off her tongue automatically yet she already knew Rachel was telling the truth. Her eyes were clear, unflinching , warm and honest, besides David always mistakenly thought everyone was safer not knowing.
Bloody idiot! I'm getting sick of playing ring a ring a roses with this thing, no wonder Ree is so fed up, this tiresome treasure hunt is driving me to murder. There is nowhere else to put it, it must be back at theirs. How stupid. Unless they think I won't dare come get it with Steve there…She shuddered. Guess it's time to go back to Ree's , if he thinks I'm going anywhere near that place without having a back up he can do one. It's not as if they can move it again anyway, there's nowhere else to move it too, would have thought they'd have a back up plan though, blinking idiots. Good job I switched sides, they really are all going to lose.
She refocused on Rachel . "Do yourself a favour, get out of this while you can. You have an out , I don't, so please don't pick now as a time you actually have to do a worthwhile thing."
Her eyes flashed brief relief and surprise .
She didn't actually think I would kill her, did she? David I had no choice about.
Cathy couldn't decide whether she was hurt or satisfied by her reaction. She settled for ambivalent.
"I didn't think you'd kill me," Rachel answered, almost telepathically "I was just prepared that you might. However much you might fool the others, you don't me, so let me repay the favour. This was a last ditch attempt to reach you but Steve is baying for blood and as much as David loves you I don't know if he will stop him if you get in their way, he's got other things to think about now." She paused, letting Cathy digest this. "You go there- he will kill you and David may not be able to help. I don't want anyone to get hurt, be careful because I'm not going to be able to stop Steve now. Nobody is "
If her blood wasn't already cold, this would have frozen it.
I knew it! I need to go back to Ree now, I can't face him yet I…
She felt like she was having a panic attack, only she didn't think it was possible for vampires to have one. Hiding her shaking hands and desperately fighting a fresh wave of nausea, she made her eyes cold
"Tell your lover boys this... they want a fight I'll give them one and maybe next time you won't get off so easy and you'll be the message. Trust me when I say, it really isn't me you need to worry about,"and then before Rachel had chance to respond Cathy slammed the door, and went running to Ree.