By Crazywritings

I'm queasy. I'm really fucking queasy. Can someone please rip my stomach out? That would be great. It'll get rid of this pain, this disgusting nausea that keeps rearing up on me, washing over me in delirious waves, lapping against my shoulders, never leaving me alone, leave me alone, please leave me alone. Never, never, the waves are attached like barnacles. I should know better than to think that this could pass. It hasn't passed, and it never will. It's always there, in the pit of my stomach, quietly festering and shuddering in the confines of my tummy. I can block it out most of the time; it's like an ache, after a while fading into the back of your mind. But now it's roaring. Now it's howling. Now it refuses to recede, and it won't leave me alone. But we've been over this. We've been over that it won't leave me alone. Fuck, please tear it out, take my stomach away—

…that's probably not the smartest request in a prison. The people would probably actually do it. And I kind of need it for food. I like food. Food is good…

Shit, I'm just nervous. Nervous is all. Yes, yes, I'm nervous. Well, great, now that I've established that I'm nervous, I'M FUCKING NERVOUS! What do I say? What do I do? How am I supposed to—to act? How does he want me to act? What does he want me to sound like, be like, think like, everything? Pressure, pressure, pressure, there's too much pressure. I don't want to die. I don't want to die. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever, I want to be immortal. I want to see the trees bloom every year and watch the flowers open every year and hear the rain drip through the gutters every year and listen to the brush of the snow every year for years and years and years and years to come—

Whoa. Chill, Cassie, chill. You're getting yourself worked up over nothing. Well, okay, not exactly nothing, per say, but you still don't know what's coming. That's right, I don't know what's coming. Perhaps that scares me the most, that I don't know what to expect. No, that's not right either. It's definitely a combination of the two. The unknown scares the shit out of me, sure, but it's my knowledge that makes the unknown scare me. I don't know what to expect because I know what he's done and I know that he knows that I know what he's done—seriously, who doesn't know what he's done?—and that's why I'm scared because I don't know what to expect anymore, like I used to.

…Did that make sense? I'd be impressed if it did, because it didn't even make sense to me.

I need to take a fucking chill pill. But you know what's better than a pill? Alcohol. Alcohol will take care of everything. Maybe some vodka, a gin-and-tonic, rum, beer, oh gosh, a nice splash of cool beer would be great right now…

Okay, stop. Seriously, I need to get under control. Being under the influence won't help me very much right now. What the hell am I thinking, going for a drink? He'd smell it on me anyway and want some of it, and when I say I don't have any, he will proceed to flip a shit and maybe hit me or something. Actually, I don't know if he would actually hit me. He tends to only do that when he's pasted, and considering there isn't any booze in prison, he will probably keep his hands to himself…for the most part. That's another thing prison doesn't have any of. Girls. Prison has no girls, at least not the one he's at. I'm a little nervous he'll be a tad insatiable for that shit, too, and I'm really just not in the mood today.

I can't believe this. I can't believe I'm thinking about him like this. It wasn't but about a year ago (actually, that's kind of a long time…) that I thought he was the greatest thing in the world, the most perfect specimen of man. I wanted him, wanted every part of him, every single centimeter of him I longed to have all over me, inside me, outside me, in my mind, my body, my soul, everything. Where has that gone? Where has all that heat, that passion, disappeared to?

Well, I'm guessing it got buried with all his other victims. That would be my guess. But you know, that's just me.

I rub my cheek, frustrated. God damn, can't this guy drive a little faster? Whoa, whoa, whoa—suddenly I'm so fucking eager to get there? Yes, yes I am. I want this over and done with. I want this shit gone, finished, dead and buried—

Wow. I really couldn't have chosen a worse phrase. Wow, that's…that's impressive…I'm really dim.

Okay, okay, I've got to quit picturing him like this. Maybe he'll be different. Well, that is, maybe he'll be different by being the same. Maybe he won't seem like the mass murderer he is. Maybe he'll remember everything we had, and poof, he'll be fine. Maybe he'll be his old self, the one that laughed and joked and was fucking normal. Maybe he'll talk about the usual stuff that he likes, like music, music, lots of music, making fun of things, anything that he can remember from when we were together. Yeah, yeah, maybe that's how it'll go down. Maybe I'll get lucky.

You know, I really shouldn't think like that either. I shouldn't get my hopes up. I really just need to focus on getting out of there alive. UGH, Jesus, I just can't pick a good way of operating. I'm not going to die, but I'm not going to see the man I love standing behind those cold iron bars. It doesn't work like that. Shit doesn't happen like that. Don't I pay attention to movies? My God, perhaps I should seek counseling. The doctor did recommend that, after all…

No. No way. I'm not going to be categorized as a loony-bin prisoner. Nope. No gracias, thanks, but I'll live a life of normality if that's just dandy with you. Doctor Brooks hadn't a clue what he was bullshitting about anyway. I mean, so what if I was in a relationship with a serial killer and didn't even know it? That happens to…other people…sure. I mean, it's not unusual, right? Love is love, right? That's what all the fairytales teach us, right? Right. You know, if they don't like the message the fantasies are sending us, then shit, they need to change that crap, because if they don't, no one else is going to. Those fucking story books, sitting there in the shelves, glistening with wonder and desire, the pictures all shiny and sparkly. They're fake, that's what they are. They're nothing. Life doesn't work like that. Nothing works like that. It's worthless, useless, a waste of paper. You know who was my Prince Charming? He was. He was my damn Prince Charming, and look where he's ended up. That's just…that's just fucking great. Thank you, Cinderella, Snow White, Belle, Sleeping Beauty, whoever the fuck taught me that someone could love me as I could love them.

You're fucking wrong. Yeah, that's right. You're fucking wrong. I'd like you to pop into this cab right now so I could land a good one right on your nose and crack the sucker, bitch.

"…and pizza sauce was all down my front!" the cab driver cackles. He slams his palms against the fake leather of the steering wheel as he chuckles and guffaws at his own (supposed) cleverness. I roll my eyes. Sweet baby Jesus, did I really have to get the one cab driver that liked to chat and converse with his customers? Why couldn't I get the speed demon that shoots through spaces like in the fucking video games?

"You know, you're pretty cute," he comments, wiping his eyes with a pudgy finger. "Why you headed to Maxim County Prison, baby?"

I glare at him in his rearview mirror. "I'm visiting my boyfriend, actually." I cross my arms and sneer at him. Take that, you dumb fucker. Your New York accent is stupid, too. Just thought I'd let you know. But of course, he can't hear me because I don't have the courage to say it out loud. I need his ride, and he's got the wheels. So I keep my mouth shut as he marvels at me as I continue to glare at him.

"Damn, you ain't kiddin' are ya?" he gapes. "What's a cutie like you doin' with a low-life like him?"

"You know, I'm not telling how to live your life, okay?" I snap, my eyes narrowing. "So how about you just drive the fucking car."

"Fuck," he drags his eyes back to the road. "Kill a guy for being interested, why dontcha?"

There's a few beats of silence. My guilt increases and squeezes my inside like water pressure. Oh, screw my conscious. Why won't it ever leave me alone?

"Ugh, I'm sorry," I sigh. "I'm just…a little nervous is all."

"Aah, I can understand, babe," he immediately returns to his former self. "I'd be pretty scared muhself if I was ya. Thank God I'm not!" And he bursts into another round of laughter. I pout a bit. Really, this isn't doing anything for my mood. If he pushes my buttons one more time, he's going to die, I'm not even joking.

Great, I'm threatening death and I'm going to visit my killer of a boyfriend.

"So what did he do, eh?" he asks, composing himself. "Steal? Assault? What?"

I chuckle softly. "You don't want to know."

"I wouldn't be askin' if I didn't want to know, hon. Come on, you can tell ol' Bert."

I glance at him through his rearview mirror again. Hmm, he seems nice enough. His cheeks are bright red from cracking himself up, his bald head is glinting in the afternoon sunlight, and his dark brown eyes are glimmering with good nature. You know, what harm could it do, I mean really? What is he going to do? Tie me to the seat to keep me from going? I really doubt someone in this dismal city really cares about what I do with myself.

"Uh, not exactly," I shake my head. "Have you, err, heard of, uh…Daniel Daemon?"

Shit, I knew I shouldn't have said anything! My God, the guy almost has a heart attack all over the steering wheel and his cab swerves this way and that before he finally rights us. Lots of horns howl, but he doesn't care. It seems he doesn't hear anything anymore; he just stares in utter shock out the windshield.

"Are…are you okay?" I ask. Fuck, if he dies, I'm never going to get there! Actually, I could always get another cab I guess…and this time I could keep my big mouth shut.

"Girlie," he finally gasps after long moments of him sounding as though he's choking. "If you're fucking around with me, I'm kicking you out of this car in two seconds."

"I wish I was," I say morosely as I gaze out the window.

"So you…you're fucking Demon?"

Demon. Hah. Nice nickname he's earned himself. "Sure enough."

"Oh, my God…why?"

"Because when we were on, he wasn't a fucking serial killer." So that isn't true. Sue me. The guy doesn't need another startle like the one I just gave him, especially at his age. He looks around sixty-something, and I don't want to be the one to make him kick the bucket.

"Why are you visiting a schmuck like that?"

If he keeps asking questions like this, I will kick his damn bucket for him.

"Because I—" I start to answer, but I come up with nothing. Why? Why am I doing this? What the hell could he have left for me? He killed, damn it, he took lives, he, he—I could be next. I could be fucking next if he got the chance. But why would he do that? Would he do that to me? I was with him through everything, everything, anything that ever happened to him, I was there. I was fucking there for fucking everything, fuck! He wouldn't. He wouldn't do that to me, would he?

"Because I…I think I love him…"

Shit, that shouldn't sound and feel so right.

Bert begins to guffaw again. "Oh, sweetie, such a love-struck little teen."

"I'm twenty." The fuck?

"Just think 'bout what ya do before ya do it, if ya know what I'm getting' at, hon."

"I'll be sure to use protection, if that is what you're getting at." Who is this guy, my fucking father?

He laughs yet again, hearty and deep. Well, isn't he just a regular Chuckles McGee? "Well, that's a start, I s'pose. But what I mean is, there're plenty of otha fish in da sea."

Hmm. I see. Well, at least he's honest, I've got to give him that. But really, I don't need his advice. Why is he even sticking his massive porky nose into my business in the first place? There is a friendly cabby, and then there is the nosy cabby. This guy is the epitome of the nosy cabby. And you know what? Nosy people bug the shit out of me.

"Look, Bert," I sigh. If he's going to be nosy, I may as well play around with him a bit. "You're a great guy and all, but I think you're a bit old for me. I'm sorry."

This time, he doesn't laugh. The one time I'm actually joking, he doesn't laugh. Sure says a lot for my comedic skills.

"Sweetheart," he grumbles. "Ya can make all the jokes ya want. But I know you ain't dumb, and I know you know what I'm gettin' at. Please, I just don't want ta see a young gal like you get hurt."

I stare at him through the mirror again, but his dark brown eyes just stay plastered to the road. Silence swarms the car, and I relax into it, deciding to ignore the could-be-awkward quiet that this may turn out to be. What he said is strange to me. Who the hell would look out for me, Cassie, a real throw-away that no one would ever care about? It just doesn't make sense. Why does he suddenly seem to be like the Patron Saint of Goodwill? He's a cabby, for Christ's sake; he couldn't have chosen the perfect path when he was younger. It's not as though he's one to be preaching to me.

And you know what? God damn, if I want to be with Daniel, I will fucking be with Daniel. If I want to screw Daniel until his eyeballs fall out, I will fucking screw Daniel till his eyeballs fall out. If I want to get myself into a shitload of trouble, that is none of his fucking business. Hah. Take that, you old fart.

I cross my arms and gaze out the window, content with my determination.

Just as my tummy goes back to squirming with anticipation, the car screeches to a halt.

"Here we are, sweet cheeks," he calls back to me. Without hesitation, I throw open the door and practically dive out. The honking and squealing and din of the city surrounding me is so comforting, is so much of a break from the man's idle and pestering chit-chat, that my wallet seems to fall out of my pocket and smack into my palm with a resounding thunk in a hasty effort to make the cabby leave me the fuck alone. How much would make him steer away faster than I could blink? Fifty? Seventy-five? Maybe if I just make it a hundred, he'll drive off a bridge, too. Alas, I don't even bother to look as I swipe a few bills out of the smooth leather and shove them in his weathered face.

"Hey, babe, time out a sec!" he hollers from his window as I begin to stride away. I glance over my shoulder at him. What does he want now?

"Look, please," his huge eyes widen, and he looks like an adorable little puppy. Aww, how cute—not. "Just…just be careful, okay? For ol' Berty, if for no one else?"

My expression softens along with my heart, and after a pause, I grin weakly and say, "Sure, Bert. Sure." And with that, my thin-heeled suede boots make obnoxious clacking noises as I hop up the stairs to the prison entrance. Once I reach the landing, I gaze up at the sign. The words MAXIM COUNTY PRISON HOUSE glare down at me. I shudder. Man, they're not big on making people feel welcome, are they? I feel as though something just ran a finger, cold and smooth and icy as an icicle, along my spine, leaving deadly shudders in its wake. Fuck, this won't be easy.

Come now, Cassie. Be brave, now. Put on your big girl panties and get the fuck in there!

So I walk the rest of the way through the parted doors. I feel Bert's large Italian eyes watch me as I disappear, and it seems as though they're begging me to come back, begging me to choose life over, over…over what? What is this?

What the hell am I getting myself into?

Go away, pesky thoughts, go away, I don't have time for this. Visiting hours are short, and I haven't a clue how much time I want to spend with him, if I want to spend any time at all. My attention is fixated upon the front desk, an impressive mahogany slab that is chock full of complex-looking computers. Shit, how the fuck did they even know how to turn that stuff on? Really, I give anyone that can operate technology successfully all the credit in the world.

The man sitting behind the desk looks up at me and beams, though there is still depression that lines his face, most likely a product of working at a prison. "May I help you this afternoon, ma'am?"

"Yes, that would be lovely," I say. When I'm talking to strangers, this sudden burst of politeness seems to rip through my usual self. It's uncomfortable to say the least, but it gets me where I need to go. "I'm here to see Daniel Daemon, please?"

"I see," he answers, his face darkening considerably. My, my, what have you done, Daniel? "And is he expecting you?"

"I don't believe so," I purse my lips delicately and put on my most persuasive air, which includes a little sway of the hip and a swell of the breasts. "I wanted it to be a surprise. Will that be any trouble?"

He looks me over once, twice, three times before finally sighing in resignation. "No, no trouble at all, I suppose. Follow me, then, Miss."

And he opens a massive iron door that leads down a gloomy, dimly lit hallway.

As I follow him, I feel my knees begin to knock together. My God, my God, what am I doing? What can I possibly be thinking, visiting my convict of a boyfriend in jail? We aren't even going out, really, are we? I mean, the last time I saw him was, what…about ten months ago? It has been nearly a year since we've seen each other's faces, exchanged words, understood each other the way we always did. Why did I suddenly get the guts now? What has made me want to even think about this crazy psychopath? What made me want to even think about this crazy psychopath that murdered seventeen people until he was finally caught? What made me want to even think about this crazy psychopath that killed so many people and still had the nerve to date and/or bang me?

Honestly, I can't tell you why I want to see him. I can give you thousands of reasons, thousands upon thousands, and none of them would be right. Sure, a few would come close to the real reason, maybe even hundreds. None would hit the nail on the head. I can't understand what's making me walk behind the dreary man that's leading me to perhaps my death (if Daniel gets a hold of me that is). I just…I just have to. Little butterflies peck and flutter in my stomach as I mimic his footsteps, nearing closer and closer to my goal.

We reach another iron door. He shoves a key into the lock, twists it, and pushes it open.

"There you are, Miss," he says. "Follow the hall all the way to the end, take a left, and follow that to the end. His cell is the last one, the one that ends the hallway."

"Thank you, sir, I appreciate your helpfulness." Sure, sure, whatever. Leave so I can find him.

"Uh, I feel compelled to tell you," he adds just as I'm about to cross the threshold. "There are guards everywhere, so there's really no need to worry, but still…please, do take care of yourself? I'm sure you're no stranger to Demon if you're here to visit him, and you probably know better than any of us…"

"Why the hell is everyone telling me to be careful?" I exclaim, throwing my hands into the air and throwing my polite demeanor with it. "I can look after myself, if that's alright with you! He wouldn't…He won't…he won't—"

"He won't what, Miss?" the man challenges. I only stare at him, panting slightly, my heartbeat racing a little. I can't understand what has gotten me so riled up. Perhaps it's that I hate it when people tell me what to do. Perhaps it's that he's being an annoying little prick that doesn't know anything. Or, perhaps it's that he's being a knowledgeable son of a bitch that knows far too much.

"I apologize for insulting you," he says. "Forgive me. But I still cannot help but worry. Do give a yell if you need any assistance…" he allows his sentence to trail away. Subtle hint, buddy, subtle. But before I can make any smart-ass comments, he is off and striding purposefully down the other hall, and before I know it, he's throwing open the door at the end and returning to his post behind his desk. It's safe there. He's always safe. He is in no danger whatsoever, no matter how many lethal assholes are groaning and growling behind the door that is open before me now. He is always safe.

And with one step forward, I'm risking my life.

With a flourish of hair, I saunter forward, letting the door clang shut behind me.

It isn't long before the hooting and hollering begins. I just roll my eyes and continue forward. Vulgar, vile creatures these people are.

"Hey, baby, what's shaking?" a black man calls. His eyes are greedy and hungry as he stares at me.

"What's good, baby girl?" a Latino ogles openly at me.

"Hey, sweetheart!" a pale-ass white cracker boy snickers.

"Ay, bay-bay, what's going on witchu?"

"Sexy, can I? Just pardon my manners!"

"Oh, hot damn! You shake that thang, honey!"

"Shit, she's fucking hot."

"Hey sexy, where you going?"

"Come on, don't leave us here all alone!"

"Hey, hey, come on back here!"

"Give a nigga some lovin'!"

Again, as I turn the corner, I feel my eyes roll of their own accord yet again. Jesus, even my eyeballs are fucking sick of all this shit. Head to toe, I'm already drained. Catcalls and wolf whistles still sound like sirens behind me, but I ignore them fervently. Resist the urge, dear, resist the urge to tear their nuts off and sell them to orphans. Chill. Although I'm sure no one would mind if a few of them went missing inconspicuously…dragged down to the sewers where they belong…kicking and screaming and crying and sobbing like the babies they are…

And my love is one of them. My love is one of these mongrels.

Boy, can I pick them or what?

The hall that I turn down now is equally dim as the other two. One line of fluorescent rods is pinned to the ceiling, but they cast barely enough light for me to see down to the end of the hall. But I can. I can see the end. I can see inside the last cell. I can see the hunched figure secluded in the shadows thrown across his white face, his brown shoes and navy-clad legs visible but the rest of him eaten by darkness. I'm scared. I've got to admit, I'm scared shitless. What do I expect? Will he kill me the first chance he gets? Will he break out of his cell just to strangle me? Will he scream and holler at me till my eardrums explode and I'm deaf for all of eternity?

Or will he smile at me? Will he smile that smile, that very smile that always made my brain turn to mush and drip out of my ears? Will he laugh that hearty laugh that made me feel safe and warm? Will he whisper all the words I've needed to hear since the day he was taken from me and make me feel all better? Will he be himself? Who will he be? Who has he become?

Do I want to find out? Yes. Yes, I want to find out. I need to find out. I need to know, need to hear his deep, sweet voice. I need to know, need to see his perfect face. I need to know, need to know who he is now.

Is he Daniel or is he Demon?

Fuck it. God, whatever You have in store for me, give me all You've got.

A new swagger in my step, I clack down the hallway. The morose linoleum is echoing beneath my boots. Clack, clack, clack, thunk, thunk, thunk, rhythmic, gentle, melodic, a lullaby. It is a soothing coo and a blaring alarm at the same time. For me, it has always symbolized strength. The sound of the heel is like screaming "I am woman, hear me strut." It's empowering, it's a great feeling, it is sexy, even if I'm not one of those annoying, raging feminists. I love it. But at the same time, the loudness is like screaming "Here she comes, she's coming for you, Daniel!" He knows someone is coming now. He can't not know. And he knows it is a lady. Won't he be excited?

Asshole better be excited it's me and not just get excited because something fuckable is coming toward him.

The cells lining the hallway are empty. They glare back at me, cold, unfeeling, dead. They watch me, cold, unfeeling, dead. They try to pull me into them, cold, unfeeling, dead. They try to infect me. They want me cold, unfeeling, dead. But I am alive. My heart is beating at a rapid pace, trying to break free of its own prison that is my chest, trying to shatter its own bars that are my ribs, trying to save itself from a certain Hell. What does it know that I don't know? Perhaps it has a brain. Maybe it's smart and knows that I'm fucking screwed. I have a very good chance of dying today.

I know very well that he has a slim to none chance of him physically killing me. As the secretary pointed out, guards were everywhere. But that's not the only way us humans can die. I know, I'm certain, that if there is anyone else but Daniel Daemon sitting in that cell, then I am dead. My heart will crumple. My heart will splinter and explode into too many pieces to glue back together again.

I reach the final cell. The darkness stares back at me. I feel eyes, but I can't see them.

I pause.

"Daniel?" I ask. My voice cracks. Shit, that's attractive.

"Hello, Cassie," a smooth voice replies without a hitch. The sound, that sound, sends tremors rolling through my body. They erupt along my arms, down my legs, crippling the backs of my knees, and so I have to cling to one of the bars on the cell to steady myself. A touch, icy and steady, caresses my knuckles lightly. With a gasp, I yank my hand back and clutch it in my other fingers. It feels wrong. Suddenly, this all feels very, very wrong.

But he merely chuckles. "Jumpy, aren't we?" And he stands. I watch his shapeless form rise from a sitting position. There is a glint in the depths, and abruptly, I feel very watched, very calculated, very assessed. Too much so. It's creepy.

"A…a little…" I admit. But then, I reach a little deeper and find a bit of myself, a bit of myself that hasn't been scared senseless and frightened into hiding. "Prisons aren't exactly cozy for me."

Then, he emerges from the shadows, and all of myself, all of myself that I've ever been, ever hope to be, recedes, tumbling into my core, into my heart. Standing before me is a man. Standing before me, at a particularly intimidating six-foot-three, is a man. Yes, obviously he is a man. His muscular jaw and clean-cut cheeks are evidence to that.

But standing before isn't Daniel Daemon.

Standing before me is a serial killer.

And he is smiling.

He smiles like a wolf. His lips are pulled back but they show no teeth. His eyebrows are cocked in such a way that clearly states that he knows, he is certain, that he has unlimited power coursing in his veins. His lower eyelids are risen a smidge, just so they touch the impeccable color of his irises, clearly indicating his criminal smirk. But his eyes glare at me. They glare at me in such a way that makes me feel small, infinitesimal, miniscule, tiny, a bug. I am beaten before I can speak. He knows this. His orbs are filled with a frightening knowledge, the blatant obviousness that he knows far too much, too much for my own good.

"Touché," he mumbles. His voice is even, not at all perturbed. "But you are the one that came to visit me, isn't that right?"

"I…" Fuck, what a great time to blank out. I would love to banter with him. I would love to say something scathing and put him in his place. Oh, the millions of things I would think of as I lay sleepless in bed tonight, the millions of comebacks that would have driven him to tears. But, of course, I can't think of them now. So it goes.

"Come now, Cassie," he smirks again. "Where's that fiery girl that I always knew? Did you forget your balls in the taxi you took here? Or did you leave them with Bert for safe-keeping?"

I freeze. My body freezes, my mind freezes, my heart freezes, everything freezes. Even my soul freezes. I'm crippled, wounded, driven into silence. How…how the hell does he know that?

"How did you…?" I begin to ask, but I can't bring myself to finish.

He swaggers right up to the metal bars of his cage and gazes at me. There is a new light to his flawless blue orbs, the ones buried beneath his luscious lashes, and it stings. It's closer to normal, a more natural, sane light instead of the manic gleam that he had donned a few seconds ago. But he is still one cocky son of a bitch, and he still carries the air that he knows what I'm thinking, what I'm feeling, every move I'll ever make.

"Were you thinking of me, Cassie?" he asks. His eyes widen to immense proportions, making him look like the sweetest, most harmless kitten on earth, and he tilts his head slightly to the side. The fringe of his white-blond hair brushes delicately against his forehead. "What made you come say hello? Why have you led yourself into the belly of the beast?"

And he reaches out, his hand clearing the bars, and he strokes the side of my cheek with his fingertips. With a short squeal of surprise, I hop backward and gasp at his audacity.

"Or did you want to see who I was?" he continues. A new understanding has fallen upon his brow. "Did you want to see who stood here, in this pathetic excuse for a home? Please, who were you expecting to see locked away, Daniel or Demon? Or, better yet, who were you hoping to see locked away?"

"Stop!" I burst, breaking out of my stupor, the stupor that he'd created just for me. The fog he has me locked in begins to clear. "Stop it. Are you trying to ruin this visit, damn it?"

A smile etches across his face. It seems to be closer to a real smile than anything he's given me so far, but it's still not complete. I'm not sure he knows how to truly smile anymore. "Of course not, Cassie. I'm enthralled to see you. How have you been? I see you let your hair grow out; it looks lovely, really, it does. And, my, my, have you filled out. Honestly, you look amazing, darling, you truly do."

Another attempt at a sweet smile. I gape at him.

"…What the hell are you talking about?" I question dumbly. "Last time I saw you, you couldn't even spell the word enthralled."

"I read," he says with a shrug of nonchalance.

"How can you read in prison?"

"Believe it or not, if you ask nicely enough, they give you things to preoccupy yourself…that is, when you're on your free hour. Other than that, you're on your own to just stare dumbly at the wall. Once that gets boring, you stare at your bars. Once that gets boring, you go back to staring at the wall. Anyway, the free hour is the best time. They give us simple books, books that can't give us any ideas."

He pauses and looks at me. He takes in my startled expression, my wide eyes, my small O of a mouth. A small, creeped out shudder hops along my spine. It's too cold, too calculating, the way he looks at me. He's not really even looking at me anymore. He's sizing me up, critiquing me, wondering at the best way to kill me, the best way to get at me, evaluating my strengths, my weaknesses, everything. He can see it all, he knows it all, everything is his, stored away for later if he so wishes to use it. I'm as good as dead, if that's what he wants.

"Please, don't be afraid," Daniel says. The ring in his voice is strange, almost…almost pleading.

"That's a little difficult, sorry," I scoff.

"Your best weapon has always been sarcasm," he peers at me. "But it's failing you now, isn't it?"

I stare at him, defensive. He can see the wall that's being built rapidly and feverishly in my eyes.

"There's nothing to mock now, Cassie," he goes on. "There's nothing funny anymore. This is very, very real, and you know it. Your precious Daniel is locked behind bars. You loved a criminal. You loved a murderer."

How? How does he know exactly what I'm thinking? How does he know exactly what I'm feeling long before I know what I'm feeling? I hadn't even put my thumb on the startling reality that I'd fallen for a cold-blooded killer, and yet he already was ten steps ahead of me, deducing that fear for me. How does he manage to stay so on top of everything? How does he manage to see everything so clearly, to see through the unconscious slant and bigotry that his mind provides for him?

"And who would've ever thought," he breaks the tense silence as he gazes at me thoughtfully, "that a serial killer could have ever loved, really, truly loved anyone ever, and still go out and…"

He doesn't finish. It seems as though we're trading who can and can't complete their thoughts. But perhaps he could have, would have finished the sentence if he hadn't reached out again, slowly, cautiously, and touched my arm with the lightest of touches. The sensation it creates is strange, foreign, and yet sickeningly familiar. A buzz runs ramped along my nerves, the flare originating from the center of his contact point. My God, even with ice in his veins, he still has the same effect on me.

"Please, don't be afraid," he begs again. "I'm sick of everyone being afraid."

"Do you blame me?" I whisper. It's crackly and uneven, but he can certainly make it out. "Do you blame me for being a bit scared?"

"You're not scared, Cassie," he shakes his head slightly, his hand not falling away. "You're petrified. You can barely look me in the eye."

I realize with a start that he's right. The entire time, I'd really been looking at his cheekbones, the area just beneath his lashes. But as hard as I try to bring myself to lift my gaze, I can't. I simply can't. The image of his eyes, brilliant and rich, flashes in my mind. They're not his eyes. They're Daniel's eyes. They're the eyes filled with liquid sapphire instead of ice. They're the eyes that he used to ogle at me with, the eyes that made me feel all warm and fuzzy and delighted. They're the eyes that made me feel like me, the eyes that made me whole. Then, suddenly, that very same image is abruptly contrasted with his eyes now, the eyes I saw when he first stepped out of the shadow. They were years, millennia, light-years different, shockingly so. One pair was the eyes of a lover. The other pair was the eyes of a killer.

"I don't know who you are anymore." The words drop from my tongue before I even know what I'm thinking, but the second they do, I know. I know that's what I'd been trying to form since I'd walked through the door and up to the secretary. Who is this? Who is this man standing before me? Who is he, and what has he done with Daniel? If anyone would know, this—this stranger would. He knows everything. He knows it all. He knows it all without trying.

"I don't know," he admits after a beat of silence.

So much for my theory.

"But I know how we can find out."

I look up at him. He looks down at me. I am certain. He is certain. We are certain. Yes, there is one way.

Lightly, so as not to frighten me too badly, he tugs on my forearm. I stumble one step closer, then another, and then another until my chest is pressed lightly against the cool iron of the bars. It sends shivers spiraling through me. I've been shivering a lot today. The absoluteness, the conviction of the icy touch of the metal is scary. It's damn scary. How has he survived so long behind such pillars of frost? But then, interrupting my thoughts, he leans down, painfully slowly so I don't go running away, screaming my head off. His descent is gradual, evenly measured, paced exactly.

And then, as though eternity had decided to finally quit separating us, his lips graze mine.

At first it is gentle. At first it is soft. At first it has the touch of snow, barely there. And then we can't fool each other any longer. It doesn't take more than a few seconds for our tongues to find their way into their rightful places. There is definitely a sense of wholeness at the feeling of him against me. He's mine, that's for sure. It will always be this way. I will be his, and he will be mine, our hearts beat in each other's chest. We are each other's reason for being, the meaning of each other's existence. Like time, like gravity, like space, like air, that will never change. There are some things that are set in stone, and this is most certainly one of them.

But that doesn't mean anything. Not anymore.

The second we came in contact, I knew. This isn't Daniel. Daniel is long gone.

Demon is standing like a Roman column behind the restrictive bars.

Demon grabs onto my shoulders and presses me harder against the barrier between us. I can't help it, I can't fight it; I allow my own hands to rush up and clutch his neck, the back of his hair, everything, anything I can get my grip on. I don't care, I don't care anymore, I latch onto anything. It's as though I'm searching for him. It's as though I'm still searching for Daniel. Where had he gone? Where had my love gone? Where had the one, my one, disappeared to?

The longer we stay connected, the more I'm certain: Daniel is far away. Daniel is never coming back.

He pulls away first, releasing me almost reluctantly. He pants, and his breath brushes against the tip of my nose like a light winter breeze. It's nice, to be sure; he's plenty attractive enough to have anything he does be considered "nice" at least.

"Well, I'm positive now," he says. It should be awkward, but it's not.

"As am I," I respond.

His orbs soften, and now they're more like melting ice than true ice crystals. "He's gone, isn't he? I'm gone."

"Yeah," I nod quickly, succinctly. Tears begin to prickle at the back of my eyes, but I blink them away as soon as they've come.

After a beat of silence, he mentions, as though it's an afterthought: "I love you, you know. I always have."

I sigh. "Yeah, I know. I've always loved you, too."

More silence.

"This really sucks," I pout with a small, nervous giggle. He returns it, his chuckle completely void of humor.

"Indeed," he grins slightly. "I really…I really fucked up."

"It wasn't just you," I hurry to say. He hadn't cursed yet, but the occurrence of the word "fuck" in his sentence—that part was definitely Daniel. "I was a little retarded, I've got to say. I mean, there you were, out killing people, and I'm sitting there, completely oblivious." For some reason, it's easy. It's easy, nearly natural, to mention his past acts. Why does it flow so well? Why am I suddenly at a certain ease? Perhaps it's because there's nothing to be afraid of anymore; the one I love has died, and there's no one to impress anymore.

"I can't say I'm sorry," he shrugs. "Because I'm not. But I suppose it was really both our faults, then…" he fades away again, and looks at me with eyes more like the ocean than anything else. "But I honestly would do anything to get you back. But I can't."

"Yeah," I nod, and a small, round tear plops over my eyelashes. "Yeah, I guess it's really over."

Like lighting, his finger darts out and catches the drop of salty water as it streaks pathetically slowly over the pale skin of my cheek. I don't cringe away anymore. I'm already dead—well, half dead, I suppose—anyway.

As he lifts his finger away, Demon whispers. "I love you, Cassie."

"I—" what do I call him? What's his name? For now, I settle on: "I love you, Daniel."

He gives me a curious look, his brow furrowed, deeply confused considering we'd just gone over that Daniel is officially dead and gone. But obviously, there's still got to be a little bit left of him. That's why I'm still here. That's why I still breathe. That's why my heart's still beating, however unwillingly.

I smile a tiny smile, and I turn and strut down the hallway.


A/N: As usual, Eminem was the inspiration for this little ditty. Check out his music video for You Don't Know, for which the story is named after. It's old, of course, and it's really Fifty Cent's song, I suppose, but Em does the best in it. Obviously. And he looks gorgeous in the music video. Obviously. No news there.

For those of you wondering, yes, I'm still continuing Step-Lover. Just belting out a few one-shots first.