They all thought she was insane. After all, what she said was impossible and it was obvious from her demeanor that she was extremely disturbed. She sat there playing with her favorite charm bracelet while she told them her story, the story no one in their right mind would believe. They acted like they believed, of course, but even the girl knew they didn't.
"Fuck all of you!" she yelled irately, her greasy silver hair falling around her shoulders as she moved, "I'm telling you I can't die."
"And I believe you believe that, Cassia," the oldest one said in a clearly patronizing tone. Cassia was led back to her room where she was left alone since even the crazy girls were scared of her.
Cassia was immortal. She had drawn too much attention after her first 'death'. She'd cracked under the cold information that she could never die. She was only seventeen and she'd already died once. She hadn't known until one of the humans working with her kind had taken her out of the morgue and dropped her off on a street corner. She'd attracted the attention of a 'good Samaritan' who had called a mental hospital about her and here she was. She wished the windows opened. She'd even die again to get out of here.
Cassia heard the wheels of the food cart coming down the hall. Someone must be sick then. You only get food delivered if you're sick. Cassia was surprised when it stopped in front of her room and the door opened. A man entered with the food cart and shut the door behind him. He was different from the men here in that he was actually quite hot underneath the hospital scrubs. Blonde hair shone in the fluorescent light and green eyes winked at her like emeralds. She distrusted his good looks and easy manner immediately.
"Hey, it's okay," he said as she scrambled away from him, "I'm Zak'Nefein and I'm going to get you out of this place."
"Out?" she squeaked, trying to back away further. He grabbed her hand before she could get far, though.
"Yes, out, little one. You're immortal too, right?"
She nodded solemnly.
"Then let's get you out of here."
Cassia really had no choice. She'd do anything to get out of this place. Even follow a stranger. She followed him out of one of the backdoors that were usually locked and to a car. She curled up in the front seat and tried to sleep but the memories wouldn't let her. She stared out of the window trying to keep track of where they were. 'It's not like I can die,' Cassia thought bitterly.
Cassia felt her mind folding in on itself again but that wasn't so unusual by then. They stopped in front of a rather large house that reeked of age. Cassia was glad. She hated new houses. The man led her to the door trying to make polite conversation but she could barely hear him. It was more like a buzz in the background. He rang the doorbell. A woman with short brown hair and blue eyes opened it minutes later.
"Another one?" she asked gently.
"Yeah," the man beside Cassia answered.
"What's your name, hon?" the woman asked staring into Cassia's eyes as if she were looking for something. Cassia automatically backed away from the woman and began counting the cracks on the porch. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7.
"Well, that's okay, I'm sure Zak can tell me who you are."
She lost count but shook her head trying to clear it from the fog. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9.
"Amiee, could you show…"
"Cassia," the man offered.
"Cassia to her room?" the woman asked. A red headed girl with baby blue eyes appeared in front of them.
"Yeah, come on, kid." Cassia kept counting. Nothing could interrupt the counting or she'd have to start over and she might lose focus before then. 10,11,12,13,14,15,17. Wait. That wasn't right. Something was wrong.
"Geez, what kind of drugs is she on?" Amiee asked.
"Probably some really good ones. She got tossed into a mental institution after she 'died'," Zak answered.
"Yeah, they didn't believe me," Cassia answered still looking at the cracks but no longer counting. Something was wrong with the counting.
"Well, you really can't blame them," Amiee said practically.
"No, I guess not," Cassia answered in the same soft dream-like voice.
"So, you want me to show you your room? Amiee asked. Cassia shrugged and went back to counting. It was the only thing that kept her from giving in to the drugs. Amiee grabbed her arm and led her upstairs and to a room. It was nice but Cassia didn't really notice. She lay down on the bed and immediately went to sleep. It wasn't like they could kill her in her sleep or anything. She vaguely heard the door close. She woke up the next morning. The clock by her bed flashed 10:00. She felt better. The drugs were wearing off. Actually, they already had but she needed something caffeinated.
She crept down the stairs to where she heard a lot of noise. She peeked around the corner and found a bunch of kids eating and goofing off. She used to belong to this kind of thing. She used to be a fun person but not anymore. She was thinking about going back to her room but Amiee had seen her.
"Cassia!" she exclaimed, "What's up?" Cassia backed away a couple of steps so that the girl was farther away from her.
"I'm awake," she answered, counting the tiles on the floor out of habit. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10.
"Earth to Cassia, are you okay?"
"Yeah, fine," she answered distractedly, trying not to lose count. To her surprise, she could remember what number she was on. It must have been because they didn't have her on medication here.
"You are not," Amiee said grabbing her arm in a strong grip. Cassia jerked her arm away from the other girl, the whites of her eyes showing.
"Girl, it's okay. We won't touch you then."
"Thank you," Cassia replied, refusing to look into their faces to see the hate that she imagined was there. She got some toast and ate it as slowly as possible, counting the rings on the plate. When she finally looked up many pairs of eyes were on her. She shrank back against the chair and tried to pretend like she didn't notice.
"What's going on in here?" a male voice suddenly asked causing Cassia to jump.
"Um…" Amiee replied obviously the spokesperson of the group.
"Get to your lessons then," he barked. The teens all left. Cassia put the plate in the sink and began to wash it.
"What are you doing?" the man asked in a quieter voice.
"Washing a plate," Cassia replied not stopping what she was doing.
"Do you know how to fight?" he asked.
"No," Cassia said quickly.
"You'll learn," he stated. Cassia nodded, hoping he was kidding.
The next few days they tried to teach her to fight. The problem was that although she knew all of the moves she could never use them on an actual person so she lost every time they tried. They finally just let her learn the moves without fighting an actual person. Things were okay. She wasn't a part of their group but she wasn't alone either.
Until one day when sparring one of the boys killed another boy and took his power. Immortals can't die but they can't live if their head is cut off so their energy goes into the other person. Cassia heard it and ran outside to get away from it. They found her there hours later shivering and counting.
"Cassia?" Zak asked.
"Come inside. It's over."
"It's never over, Zak. Never.
"This isn't just about the fight is it?"
"No, not really."
"It's about your first death isn't it?"
"Yeah," Cassia said in a choked voice. Zak held her close to his chest and she didn't pull away.
"How did you die the first time?"
"I only died once, Zak."
"I know," he said determined to hear the story.
"He killed me," she whispered, "He killed my whole family then he killed me."
"Who killed you?"
"He did," she said trying not to break down.
"He did, he did, he did!"
He held her for a little while longer then helped her up. As soon as they entered the house Aimee ran up to her and hugged her. Cassia winced as she did this but tried not to tense up. Amiee quickly remembered, though, and let her go.
"Aaron's so sorry he scared you, Cassia. He even said so before he had to sleep. They're not supposed to do that kind of stuff here but sometimes fights between us get out of hand."
"He killed another person," Cassia said emotionlessly.
"That's the only way to take another's power, Cassia."
Cassia shook her head as if that would help to clarify her thoughts.
"W-we have the…the power inside already. Death is… unnecessary. We just have to…unlock it."
Amiee looked confused but Cassia didn't have time to explain. She walked up to her room and went to sleep.
When Cassia woke up it was raining. It matched her mood. She was sad and scared and everything she'd always loathed before she'd 'died'. She grabbed some clothes and went into the bathroom. Someone had left a razor blade out. It winked at her and she picked it up. It would be so easy to take this temporary release so she did. A line of blood appeared on her wrist as she pressed the sharp edge into it.
Someone suddenly knocked on the door. "Hey- hurry up!" the unmistakable voice boomed. Zak. Shit. What had she done?
"Just a sec," she called in a much too high-pitched voice.
"Everything okay in there, Cassia?" he asked worriedly.
"Um, yeah, of course," she replied panicked. She couldn't stop the bleeding quickly enough and in the process of trying to stop it she got blood all over her pajamas.
"Shit," she cursed loudly.
"Go away, Zak. I'll be out in a few minutes."
"What's wrong, Cassia?" he almost yelled.
"Nothing!" she yelled in an unsteady voice.
"I'm kicking the door in if you don't get your ass out here!" he yelled.
"Zak! Please don't," she pleaded desperately. She didn't want him to hate her when he saw how she'd messed up so badly. She only had a little while to think this before the darkness began to close in on her mind. "Sweet death," she murmured incoherently, "Set me free." She knew without a doubt that she was going to die.
"I'm only asking you one more time Cassia! 1…2…3!" There was a loud bang as he kicked the door open.
She stood in the living room with her little brother. He was explaining a new game he had made up, but Cassia couldn't understand it. They were interrupted when her mother came in.
"Cassia, Julian? I'm home!" her youthful voice called. Julian jumped into their mother's arms and kissed her on the cheek. 'He's pretty okay for a snot nosed demon brat,' Cassia thought affectionately. She hugged her mother and smiled as her father came in, home from work early for once. Suddenly, she was pulled away from this loving scene. She fought but she might as well have been fighting the pull of a black hole.
She awoke to a blinding light.
"God," she breathed when she saw the blood all over the place. She sat up in the bed she'd been put in by Zak, "Why can't I just fucking die like a normal person?" she cried in a pained voice. Thinking she had finally been allowed to die had been another one of the universe's cruel jokes at her expense.
"Why? Why? WHY?" Zak yelled slamming a fist into the wall. Everyone had by now gathered in the hall outside of her room. "I'll tell you why. You can't die because you're not supposed to!"
"I don't care!" she yelled.
Amiee walked in and glanced around disgustedly. "Well, kid, did it make you feel better?" she asked. Cassia looked around. Memories resurfaced of her father, her brother, and her mother. She buried her face in her arms.
"Leave her alone, Amiee," Zak said, suddenly contrite. Pulled her into his arms and hugged her.
"I won't leave her alone!" Amiee yelled, "Everyone else here has dealt with this stuff. She doesn't WANT help so she goes and cuts herself. Everyone's life is tough, kid. Get used to it."
"Shut up!" Cassia screamed, fury suddenly taking over her body, "You sound just like he did before he killed us."
"Who?" Amiee asked.
"HIM!" Cassia yelled. Amiee backed away muttering something about finding her some more medication and left the room.
Cassia was too tired to even think about it and went to sleep in Zak's arms.