Long ago, deep in Seo's past…
The girl didn't return for years, after she swore revenge and left.
The Shadow assumed she'd forgotten him. He began trying to escape. He kept working at it, but the mental prison had been constructed too well. Every time he pressed, new defenses flexed into place.
The defenses anticipated his every move, gently maneuvering around him, reforming and adjusting, to anticipate and counter every escape attempt.
"When did she get this clever?!" the Shadow roared, trying to force his way through the defenses. But with no success.
She was her father's daughter.
She was just as crafty and underhanded as the Tevin bastard had always been.
"And now, she's out there," said the Shadow, "destroying the Earth. Probably long before I was ever born. And I can do nothing to stop her!"
Then… one day, many years later… Seosyrae came back.
Her hair had been bleached and dyed blonde, and she'd pulled it back into a tight bun. Her face looked different… yet somehow, the same. She wore — surprisingly enough — Earth clothes, from the early Space Era. Her eyes were crafty and clever as ever.
"Judging by your apparel, I'm guessing you didn't destroy the Earth," the Shadow observed.
Seo shrugged. "Nope. Tried to. Had a nervous breakdown. Wound up in an insane asylum for a little while."
"Serves you right for thinking you were no longer a vampire," said the Shadow. "I take it you're better, now? You're here to release me?"
Seo gave him a sad smile. "No. Sorry."
The Shadow frowned.
"Just because I don't want to destroy the Earth, anymore, doesn't mean I've decided to act like a vampire, again," Seo said. "I didn't destroy your world because… well… I can't. I just can't bring myself to kill another planet. Not after what happened to Irigova."
She took a long, shaky breath.
Willing herself to accept her past. And move on, from it.
"Destroying all those planets and all those species," Seo said, "was one of the most heinous crimes in the history of the universe. I can't forgive myself for taking part in it. But causing more deaths won't help. I have to move on. Make up for it. Give back, wherever I can."
"Those planets and species were nothing," the Shadow insisted. "They don't deserve your pity."
Seo folded her arms across her chest. "I think you've perfectly summarized why I can't release you," she said. "I hope you enjoy being stuck here, Shadow. Because this is the rest your life."
He growled, and leapt at her.
She dodged him.
"You ungrateful, miserable child," the Shadow said. He threw open his arms. "After everything I did for you! After I rescued you! After all those times I helped and protected you! This is the thanks I get — locked up, alone, forever!"
"You're not alone," said Seo. "You have me." She met his eyes. "That's all you need."
He remembered saying those words to her, when she was little.
He'd never hated the words so much.
"You've become just as evil and twisted as your father," the Shadow told her. He shook his head, in disgust. "I should never have rescued you from him."
"No, you shouldn't have," Seo agreed. "I never asked to be rescued."
She paused, for a long moment.
Then, with a sigh, added, "But… thank you."
The Shadow snapped his head up. Surprised. "What?"
"Thank you — for being there, for me, all those years," said Seo. "You weren't the best stepfather — in fact, I think you might have been the worst in recorded history — but… you never stopped caring about me."
"Until now," said the Shadow. "Until you betrayed me." He gave a bitter laugh. "Now, I couldn't care less if you dropped dead, tomorrow."
Seo spread open her arms. "Then kill me. I won't stop you. This prison won't stop you. Go ahead."
The Shadow didn't move.
"That's what I thought," said Seo. She reached out, placed a hand on his arm. "I'm sorry it's come to this. But I think we both knew… this is how things would end."
The Shadow met her eyes.
The eyes of his stepdaughter.
The eyes of the one person he had known — from the very start — would betray him, one of these days. Even if he hadn't wanted to admit it.
Her parents had betrayed him, so very long ago. And she had their blood.
"You are your parents' daughter," the Shadow said.
"I am my parents' daughter," Seo confirmed. "Just as I am yours. No one can ever take that away from me."
Then she stepped back. And disappeared, once again, from his life.
Leaving him alone — in the dark. Friendless. Hopeless.
Just the way he'd once left her.
"Yes," said the Shadow. "It seems you really are mine, after all. Seosyrae."