“Sometimes – ” She coughed, blood spurting out of her mouth like a fountain gone haywire. Christian's arms tightened instinctively around her, his fingers biting into her shoulder and lower back. She tried to reach up a hand to calm him, tried to put it on his chest, but her hand went up and fell uselessly back down, sharp aches spreading through her arm like bruised muscles. She tried to smile, but it came out as a bloody grimace. The pain was becoming unbearable, cracking across her chest and head like lightning, sharp and powerful. “Sometimes, I would dream about you, you know that? They were normal ones – not like the Nightmares. They were peaceful and normal, calm. You would just hold me, and I'd be happy – but I didn't imagine it to be like this.”
“Don't talk, Iris,” he whispered pleadingly, fiercely. His blue eyes watered in anguish, making her own tears fill her lids. “You're going to overexert yourself. Please, just try to fight this. Maybe it won't happen, maybe you'll be okay, just don't try to do anything.” His words came out in a rush, as if what he had to say had to come out fast – before she was completely, utterly gone.
“You're asking too much of me,” she murmured. “I don't think I can fight this. It hurts too much.”
“No,” he whimpered. A tear, a single tear, like a pearl, or like a glistening drop from a tap, fell from his eyelashes, slid down his cheek mournfully, caressing his cheekbone, gliding to his chin. It dangled precariously there, as if daring, then dropped peacefully onto her cheek. She winced, the pain of his tears reaching to her heart and cracking it, little by little. “Please try. You can't do this to me. I need you, Iris, I need you more than anything else. You have to understand that we need you, we all do, you need to stay here, help us, help me, please, please. I can't live without you – do you understand that? You're the only thing I have. The only thing.”
She was silent for a moment. What could she say to that? She knew she couldn't stay any longer, couldn't keep going with this pain and sadness, couldn't bear seeing anyone like this. Shouldn't he be grateful? She'd wanted to save his life, and it'd been her choice to make, to sacrifice herself for him. He was throwing it back in her face – making her endure this pain more and more. Wait – she shouldn't be talking like this. She'd never make him feel bad, wouldn't blame something that wasn't his fault on him. Where were these thoughts coming from? She closed her eyes for a brief moment, trying to look inside herself and found something that was completely wrong – there was something there, a growing darkness, one that was snarling, and angry, bitter and malevolent. It was waiting there, roiling and clawing, a misshapen evil that lurked in her soul, whispering evil thoughts in her ear, trying to control her, making the pain worse, sharper and more dreadful, leaving her no choice but to succumb ––
Her eyelids were getting heavier by the moment, but she managed to heave them open with great effort. Christian's blue eyes were wide, the pupils getting smaller and the blue getting hazy. They seemed to be melting – but then maybe that was the tears in his eyes, coming freely now, a vein at his neck bulging, as if he had to restrain himself from screaming or beating walls. He was saying something to her – his mouth was moving frantically, and when he paused, his lower lip trembled.
“What?” she asked, her voice coming out disoriented and dreamy. His eyes widened evermore, his hands on her like pressures closing in on her body.
“Fight it!” he said desperately. His voice held a million moments – his eyes when they had first looked at her, his soothing murmurs of adoration, his caressing touches filled with love, the longing in his embrace when he'd clutched her like he was the only thing she had. Just like he said she was to him. His only reason.
“Yes, yes you can! Please – please don't leave me. I'm sorry for what I did.” He bent his forehead to hers, a sign of devotion, his tears staining her cheeks. His eyes were closed, his mouth moving rapidly as if in prayer. “I'd do anything to take it back, just to have you well and not going through this. I'd take it all back, everything, ever having gone to Alonzo, ever having thought of betraying you to him. I'll do anything, I would let everyone kill me and burn me and torture me and have Raymond inject me full of silver till I'm leaden and too heavy to move and burning on the inside out.” He bit his bottom lip, which quivered mercilessly above her own lips. “I'd do anything, anything. Just please, please, just stay with me. Don't go.”
“I have to,” she whispered, closing her own eyes, wishing she didn't really have to go. “You know I do.”
“But can't you just stay? Can't you fight it?”
“No.” It was all she could say – the ache in her heart, plus the burning of the
monster inside her, made everything blurry and hard to focus on, making her unable to help the fact that she couldn't utter more than a few words at a time. The darkness reared, becoming
anxious and triumphant, telling her that she could let go now. Telling her to let the thing take over and help her ease the pain. It sounded so alluring, to let this pain go, to let it
carry her away onto a sea full of peace and remembrance.
You'll remember them, I promise. They won't leave your mind until you wake again. All your experiences, every touch from that man, every smile you've ever earned from anyone, you'll have it all – I'll make sure.
Somehow, she wasn't surprised when she heard the voice of the darkness talking to her casually, as if they were having a conversation about politics. It sounded strangely familiar, one of dark times and captivation, seductive. It took her only a moment to realize it was Lucifer's voice.
“But I love you. Can't that be enough?”
She looked up at him. Looked into his eyes, but this time, she wasn't mesmerized. She only saw the turquoise, the dark navy blue surrounding the outer rim of his iris. “It's always been enough for me. You know that. But I have to go now. I have to go...”
He opened his mouth to say something, but darkness was closing in. It filled the edges of her vision, eager to overcome her, eager to swallow her entirely. She had to tell him she loved him, but her tongue was heavy in her mouth, and her words were anchors. She closed her eyes, trying to sleep, she was suddenly so tired, but he shook her, none too gently, telling her desperately to open her eyes and she cracked them open. She smiled at him, trying to tell him it was okay, and he tried to smile back, but his mouth trembled, and it came out more as a grimace.
“This is the way it's supposed to be, Christian,” she heard herself say, vaguely. She was losing consciousness, losing the grip to her reality, and she wanted it so suddenly, to be enveloped in dreams of him, with his arms wrapped around her, his blue eyes twinkling like sunlight on the deepest ocean. “But I love you. I always have. Ever since I first saw you, your eyes, that smile, it's what pulled me in. And I'll keep you in my heart. Forever.”
“I'm scared,” he said, his voice cracking with held-back tears. “I'm scared of losing you. You're my life, my whole heart. I can't let you go.”
“If you truly loved me you'd let me go. I can't have you keep this burden on your shoulders.”
“You're my reason.” He stared into her eyes, a love so deep and painful there she couldn't bear to look but did anyway. “You are the one I want to keep with me. The one girl I've been waiting for, but thought would never come.”
At first she didn't realize it, but when she looked at his face, she saw her hand there, cupping his cheek in her small hand. He leaned into it, closing his eyes as more tears fell. “I love you,” he whispered.
“I love you, Christian.” She stroked his cheek. “Promise me, though. Don't leave.”
He opened his eyes. “I will always be here. Right here waiting.”
“Okay.” She closed her eyes. “Just stay.”
And then the darkness came, wrapping her in spirals of blackness, soft and yielding, and suddenly her world was gone – in the blink of an eye, every sound gone, every image extinguished. Everything was pure darkness, but it was more like heaven to her than anything else. No dreams. No nightmares. Nothing. A floating endless void of brief oblivion, peaceful and calm. All her problems were suddenly gone, all the people from her life flashing before her eyes for one last time, so suddenly it seemed impossible – her mother and father smiling down at her, together one last time; meeting Liesel and Natalie for the first time, so different yet the same; her brothers and sisters crowding around her, hugging from all sides; then it was Christian, and he was the most prominent. The pain and hurt, the love and laughter he'd caused all flowed together to make a maelstrom of images, full of his face and the emotions of his eyes. I guess this is what people mean when you're life flashes before your eyes, Iris thought in wonder as her memories flowed and darted. Maybe it's all the good times put together, to make it less hard. But then maybe it was supposed to be like this. Everything had a purpose. Meeting Natalie had been destined; Liesel was supposed to be her friend; discovering her powers and fate made her aware of everything she was supposed to do; falling into the Sleep had its purpose. Maybe her death would make all the other Nephilim Daughers know that they had to be careful. Even knowing Christian was it's own part of what she had to do to be strong, to know that loving was okay, that you didn't have to be afraid of it. She'd changed him from being a loyal follower to Alonzo, to a determined soldier of the Resistance. This was meant to be.
Then the darkness slowly closed around her mind, blanking out the memories.
But not before there was that pinprick, a spot of color, vibrant and illuminated. The blue eyes of a lover.
Give me a sign - Breaking Benjamin
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