The Depths of Demons Chapter 7

By Chessidy 

"My blood before my begs me

open up my heart again."

--"H" by Tool


She was headed to Junon, on chocobo. She detested the beasts, but it was all that had been found for her, and, had she stayed any longer, eventually someone would have decided to chance the girl’s life, lunged at Scarlet, and perhaps succeeded in disarming her.

The animal jumped forward, its powerful muscles moving as she whipped its side with the small, black, leather whip she kept with her always.

Leaning forward, she wrapped her arms around the beasts neck, letting it guide her. She wouldn’t be able to make it all the way to Junon for two days at least, and would be forced to stop for the night soon. That was not something she looked forward to. She didn’t dare stay at any of the settlements; news spread far too quickly, and someone might choose to attempt to capture her.

As she saw it, there were too choices.

She could camp in the open plains, leaving herself open, vulnerable, to anyone—anything. Or, she could head to Midgar, which she would reach if she changed direction and rode half-way through the night. In Midgar, or what was left of it, she would be able to find shelter for the night, and be able to think of all she needed to do, needed to find out; she would be able to put some focus on to the obscurity that the past few days had become.

Nodding to herself, Scarlet shifted her wait, applied pressure with her knees, and turned the reins slightly. The animal quickly adjusted its course, so that they were headed straight to the remains of Midgar. Scarlet felt the wind brush past her, cold against her body, flattening her clothing against her, causing her long hair to spill backwards.

She took deep breaths.

To Midgar, I return. As I have always returned. And I know I always will, even when I die. I hate this city. God I hate it. I wish I had been the one to level it. I wish I had been the one to drive a sword through Shinra’s heart.

Eyes wild, she looked upward, at the star-filled sky, the cold darkness washing over her. She squeezed her knees together tightly, making certain she would not easily loosen, then she let the reins drop. Leaning backwards, she tilted her chin to the sky, to the glorious goddess that was the moon. She threw her arms backwards, stretching, flexing the muscles, feeling a strange, terrible power course through her. She kept her eyelids closed, but her mouth slightly open. Her hair tickled the back of her neck.

I will be the one to find Rufus.

I will be the one to kill him.

And nothing can stop me.

Feeling that power in her, running rivers though her veins, she loosened her knees. Her feet were tight in the stirrups, but that would not necessarily prevent her from falling.

Scarlet knew, though, that she would not fall. Slowly, carefully, she unbent her knees, moved upwards, so that she stood in the stirrups as the chocobo ran farther and faster, and Midgar loomed in the distance. With a surge of elation, excitement, exaltation, she laughed, keeping her arms spread, as though she could embrace the wind, catch the air night air.

Because Scarlet knew, as she had known always, that there was something wild in everyone. Something just waiting to be unleashed. And few found it, but those who did were bound together, forever, even if they had never met, in something unbreakable by life.

Because that chilling freedom kept them whole.

Arriving at last in Midgar, she slowed the beast, approaching the hulking wreckage of metal as one would approach a graveyard. She felt shadows move across her, a great darkness drifting in silence. A knot of apprehension had formed in her belly, her throat, and the closer she got to Midgar, the greater the knot became, threatening to strangle her.

Her vision blurred.

I have seen this before in my mind, the bloody wreck of a city, the corpses of people I knew still littering the streets. I know this place. And it knows me. But I have to keep going if I’m going to give the bastard what he deserves. What I should have given him a long time ago.

She dismounted, leading the chocobo hesitantly forward. A faint metallic taste hung in the air, a mixture of rust and blood. It was not unpleasant, to Scarlet, but quietly disconcerting. The smell of smoke, ashes, also clung with steel grips to the air, refusing to let one breathe.

Moving closer, she stepped onto the fallen plate of Sector Four, felt it give way beneath her slightly. She waited until she was certain the ground was steady, then moved forward.

She would only go far enough to find a place of shelter. No farther. She would not see the remains of the Shinra Building, glaring at her.

"You will never win, you know."

"What the hell?" Scarlet whipped around, winding the chocobo’s reins around her fist. No one stood there. But she knew that voice.

She knew those words, and what came after.

It was her own voice she heard next.

Laughter, echoing softly in the dark room. "I already have won. You simply don’t know it yet."

Telling herself to ignore it, she went onward, taking deep breaths as she tried to make out forms in the darkness. But there was nothing but flat, fallen metal across which to walk.

"You merely think you’ve won. Eventually, you will discover, that nothing you did, could do, really mattered. You didn’t gain what you wanted."

Her voice was bitter. "You don’t know what I want, Jem."

"I think I know, better than you do, that you will never find it."

Scarlet wanted to scream. She dropped the animal’s reins, covering her ears with her hands. Not now. This is not coming back to me now. Not NOW.

Frightened by a sound, by the atmosphere, the chocobo took off, running across the plate, out of Midgar, before she could stop it. For a moment, Scarlet stood there, paralyzed watching the creature race through the darkness, disturbing the quiet slumber of ghosts. But Scarlet could not stay there, shivering, forever. Neither would she find shelter, she knew. So she did something she didn’t know she dared to do.

Scarlet slowly lay down upon the cold, dark metal of the Sector Four plate, her arms at her sides, hands balled into fists. She squeezed her eyelids shut.

"What if all I want is to hear you scream? What if all I want is to kill you?"

She had expected him to laugh, say she couldn’t kill him. But there was something in his eyes, something bright and shining, and frightening beyond words. She did not know him, not in any way she thought she did. He did not care for her, and never would, despite what she tried. He would never look at her, smile at her, the way he smiled at Sairobi Payne. He would never want her. And, though she hadn’t realized it then, he knew her better than she knew herself.

"That isn’t all you want. You may make me scream, you may kill me, but you won’t find what you want, because you can never have it. You will never allow yourself to."

"That wasn’t true," Scarlet mumbled aloud, keeping her eyes shut. "It wasn’t." But, in the darkness, sleeping with the dead, there was no more room for lies, to the world, to the ghosts beneath her, around her, to herself. She told herself not to cry, and did not, but the truth still found its way across her face, into her eyelids, into her dreams.

She had never found what she wanted, and never would.

And she would kill Rufus Shinra, make certain that he didn’t, either.

Lying there, alone in Midgar, sleep found her, caught her, hooked her in dreams that had happened long ago.

Her office stretched long before her. The room was huge, with a marble floor and a throw rug, and it was bare. Only her desk, at the very back of the room, placed near the four huge windows that were one wall of the room, adorned the empty place. And her desk, too, had very little on it. Boredom crept over her as she sat in her large chair, which was upholstered in red satin, and leaned back, her long fingernails digging into the wooden sides.

She sighed softly, stood, took heavy steps so that she could listen to the sound of her heels falling upon the floor. Her hair was pulled neatly back, into a somewhat tight bun, one strand having fallen loose, curling near her face. The silk fabric of the dress light blue she wore felt cool against her skin. And, though outside the heat was sweltering, the angry child of the jungle sun crawling across the skin of those outside, Scarlet’s office was cold.

Scarlet took small, slow steps, her head down, watching herself in the smooth, reflective surface of the marble. Quietly, she moved to the windows, looked up, then pressed the tips of her fingernails against the clear, clean glass. Just barely, she could see herself in the mirror, superimposed against the image of the world outside, blond and light blue against the green, endless green of the jungle, of the grass, the blindingly bright blue of the sky. Scarlet, for once, did not focus on her own image, however. She looked down, below, to wear the Turks were training.

Mostly, they trained themselves, since it was their lives being risked. They were expendable, and knew it. But Jem oversaw them, guiding while going through the exercises himself, as he was in command of the Tur-Ah Turks, second only to Scarlet, who had never gone through training, and never would.

She wondered why Jem trained. After all, he never went on missions. Unlike the other Turks, unlike Scarlet herself, he was not expendable. He ran Tur-Ah Compound, no matter what the executives thought. Without him, Tur-Ah would fall apart. Although Jem thought he was doing all he could to free Shinra’s slaves, he was not. Simply being there, running Tur-Ah, prevented him from doing so. By working as hard as he could for his goal, he was moving it farther and farther from his grasp. To get what he wanted, he would need to disappear. If he was not there to run Tur-Ah, no one would. And the slaves would find their freedom.

Scarlet pressed closer to the window, her fingers spread like palm leaves. Chandra and Barreson were the only two Turks missing; they’d been sent to do some dirty work for the President in Mideel, and would be gone for two more days. But all those who were meant to be there were, a blur of blue coats and neatly trimmed hair as they went through the exercises, watching Jem with careful eyes.

Watching them, Scarlet noted each movement they made. Watching them, she saw things about them that she otherwise would not. Chevrun Marrit took careful steps; his movements were deliberate, each calculated; even the way he breathed. He was handsome, in an odd way; his face was somewhat angular, and his shoulders were wide, but very skinny, so that his shirt seemed to hang on him loosely. And there was a darkness to his movements. There was a purpose in everything he said. All those things told Scarlet something.

He was a man who could be used.

Not like the absent Chandra, who strode hesitantly, yet gracefully; she was half-girl, half-woman, in a strange stage of life that Scarlet could not remember ever having been in. But, then, she wouldn’t have been able to use Chandra as easily, anyway. Men were so easily overcome, but the female Turks—and Jem, who knew much more about everything than he should—knew that Scarlet was not all she should be, that the mind working behind her guarded eyes was carefully planning.

They did not trust her, which was just as well, she supposed.

Her eyes shifted to Jem. He moved like Chevrun, but with subtle differences she could not quite name. He was powerful, but seemed to hold it in check. He knew his strength, and controlled it just enough to be seen, but not felt. And his movements were deliberate, but he moved in light, despite the aura of dark, coolness that hung around Jem.

Scarlet could not describe it.

But, she was drawn to light, and she was drawn to darkness. And in Jem, the two so completely intertwined within him, drew her to him without knowing it.

Shaking her head, she moved away from the window. She could not allow herself to lose focus. Too much depended on what she did at Tur-Ah. Too much—her life. She couldn’t mess up again.

How easily time passed.

She watched Sairobi Payne walk slowly across the courtyard, wrap her slender arms around Jem. Scarlet was still above, inside, watching always. A sigh filled within her, but she would not let it free; she kept in her, deep in there, where it couldn’t escape. Where it could not mean anything.

In the past two years, she’d done the job the president gave her well. And she’d kept Rufus Shinra in check, though she knew that, at times, she had almost lost herself to the sighs buried deep within her. She’d kept watch over Rufus, as his father had told her, but she had yet failed in the other charge she had been given.

That, she told herself, was no fault of her own. President Shinra took everything into account, thought of every person’s actions, of everything that could possibly matter to anything. Except for his son; he discounted his son, because he did not see Rufus as Rufus was. He did not see that Rufus thought and felt, and would not so easily be seduced, in soul or mind or body.

And one other thing Shinra had not counted on.

He had not counted on Jem Buckley, who Scarlet continued to watch with dark eyes.

He had kept his own deep secrets from the president, which Scarlet was only beginning to learn of. She’d always known he disagreed with Shinra; they all had.

But the extent was greater than any knew.

Scarlet turned from the window. She returned to her desk, to her computer, and pulled up the file of the deceased Darra Blake.

Opening the door silently, she crept inside, hoping her patient was asleep.

He wasn’t. He was sitting in his bed, in the darkness, waiting for her to return, his face nearly void of expression.

"He didn’t tell you what you wanted," he stated softly, and, sighing, she nodded. Her arms felt weighted, her eyelids heavy. Mylar felt absurdly close to tears, and she did not want to cry. Brushing her fingers over her eyelids, she tried to wipe away any tears that might have formed. Her patient spoke again. "What was it you wanted to know, exactly?"

Shaking her head, she turned away from him. She did not want to talk to him, not then. "It’s not important. He—he’s coming over here, tomorrow, to tell me."

"And you’re afraid of what you’ll learn."

She whipped back quickly, her mouth slightly open, her hair tangled. The words she was about to speak never left her mouth. Her heart was caught in her throat, and she could not say a word.

And you’re afraid of what you’ll learn, he said. Maybe I am, at that.

She shook her head, tugged slightly at her snarled hair. "I said, it’s not important."

But there was an urgency in his eyes that frightened her. Somehow, for some reason, he wanted to know. And, despite how much she wanted not to say, to run swiftly into her room and bar the door, crawl into her bed, cry, she did not. She sat down on the floor in front of him, looked up at him, and said, "Yes."

Her patient nodded.

"I want him to tell me about my mother."

Again, a nod.

Mylar stood again; she paced the room, the dark weight of night upon her. She moved her shoulders, loosening them, turned away from Rufus. There was an odd, detached feeling in her. It was as though she was out of herself, and so what she did or said, or did not do, did not say, did not matter. And that unimportance of everything gave her a freedom to feel.

Whipping around, she saw that Rufus had stood, an odd look—of concern?—upon his face. That same wildness that had caused her to run through the night to Dr. Cleraunce’s house rushed through her again.

"Are you all right?" he queried softly.

She opened her lips slightly, to speak, then simply nodded. Again, she sat down in front of him, cross-legged, at his feet. Mylar put her hands together, fingers to fingers, palm against palm, as though in prayer, the tips of her middle fingers touching just beneath her chin. She looked at him, and, with her eyes, told him to sit.

Rufus obeyed the unspoken command. He sat as she did, hands as hers were, as though part of some sacred ritual. And something there was sacred, in those strange dark hours when things that should perhaps be left unsaid are spoken.

He waited for her to speak.

All around her, people were laughing. The soft chime of glasses being struck softly together filled her ears; that flowing, drifting noise caused her to shiver in her red dress. She didn’t care that Tur-Ah Compound was twenty years old. She didn’t care about those who moved toward her, smiling faces, hands clasping, clutching glasses; their words moved past her. Her eyes were focused upon two people who stood at the other end of the room.

Sairobi Payne, soon to be Buckley, three months pregnant, and the tall man who stood next to her, smiling down upon her. As always, Jem’s smile was the sun, burning bright, especially to Scarlet, who felt the deep darkness outside Tur-Ah climb in through the windows and curl around her ankles. Smiling tersely, she made her way toward them.

She focused upon their voices, their words, tuning out all others.

"Where is Rufus?" That was Sairobi, slight distaste creeping into her voice; in the three years she’d known him, the girl had never been able to tolerate him. And Scarlet knew he greatly disliked her, as well.

Jem’s voice, low and vibrant with life, replied, "He told me he was feeling ill. He’s in his room with Dark Nation."

"Do you buy it?"

"No. Rufus isn’t ill. He’s avoiding—hello, Scarlet. Can I help you?"

She let the smile slide easily across her face. It would be all too easy.

Sairobi glanced at Scarlet, something unreadable in her clear, shining green eyes. Uncomfortable beneath the girl’s gaze, Scarlet shifted her eyes to Jem.

"You can, at that," she said silkily, moving slightly closer. Her eyes dropped to the glass Jem clutched, identical to the one in Sairobi’s hand. Both were drinking water, which might have been a problem, but was not.

Because Hojo was a genius.

Because the first drug she would give them was tasteless, colorless, a powder dissolving quickly and easily in liquid; small doses of it were incredibly powerful.

Scarlet glanced at the clock, high above them, far away in the crowded room. She had it timed just perfectly. It would take affect when she needed it to.

"Well?" Jem asked, raising his eyebrows slightly.

Speaking to them softly, she slipped the powder into their glasses so quickly, neither noticed.

A smile tugged at her lips as Jem brought the glass to his mouth.

"Happy twentieth, and—" she pointed to Sairobi’s not-yet-round belly—"congratulations. Enjoy the night." While you can, her mind finished. She continued smiling.

She painted a picture with the words she spoke. He sat listening to her, placed somehow under her spell, and he watched her eyes, their light gray color, as she spoke. They were haunted with memories she’d nearly forgotten, she’d buried deep.

Heura, asleep near them, made a sound, stirred, then fell back into slumber.

"I suppose I never thought about it much. But my mother was not happy. And, my father did not tell me all he knew. And I believed what he did tell me, because it’s easier to believe, sometimes." Her voice was soft, smoky. She shook her head, tilting it backwards, and let her hair slide across her shoulder. "One morning, when I was much younger, I woke before the sun did and crept outside, onto the porch, and sat in the shadows. I think I must have startled her, as she was coming into the house. Her hair was wet, as though she’d been swimming, and it was clinging to her face. Her feet were bare, I remember, and they were covered in sand. When she saw me, sitting in the corner with my knees drawn against me, she gave a soft little cry and put her hand over her heart. I guess I must have looked a little like a ghost. I’d been ill, and—the dress she wore was whiter than anything I’ve ever seen, whiter than clouds. I don’t know where it had come from, and I never saw her wear it again. But I can still see her, the look upon her face, like she was afraid, but I don’t know what she feared. My mother was always a stranger, to everyone she knew. So no one ever knew her, not even me. I was closer to my father, though I loved my mother more than anything in the world. She was always something I could not touch, something ethereal. Sometimes, standing in the kitchen, I almost catch a glimpse of her standing near the window, in the sunlight, one hand raised slightly and caught in mid-air as her vision is captured by an object, a person outside, and that lost, lonely look almost leaves her eyes. I realized today that I know very little of who my mother was. She never talked about where she was born, or how she grew up, or when she fell in love with my father. Or if she fell in love with my father."

Mylar tilted her head once more, to the side this time, closing her eyes. Her fingertips played across the carpet, danced slowly, touching the floor then fleeting swiftly. "She sang me lullabies when I was ill. So did my father, but different songs. She would hold me and rock me, when I was little enough, and one night she took me out to the ocean with her, sat me in the sand. And she stood, slightly in the water, and sang." A soft sigh escaped her lips. Rufus watched her, entranced somehow by the easy way she sat, memories clinging to her like cobwebs, yet burning bright like the sun beneath her skin. Each breath was the birth of some past shadow. She was no longer the girl she had been, and he wondered what she had been like.

"No matter what Dr. Cleraunce tells me about my and father, I’m going to remember that."

Rufus guessed that she had been about to say more, but something had stopped her. Moonlight fell in through the open window and slid across her face as she stood, stretched her arms upwards.

"You should get some rest. I shouldn’t have kept you up with all this nonsense."

He shook his head, but he also stood.


She eased the door open, being careful to make little noise as she did so. There wasn’t much danger of waking the occupants of the room, but she did not want anyone else to know of her deeds just yet. With slow precision, she slid one stockinged foot into the room, then the other, and pulled the door closed behind her.

Scarlet stood in absolute darkness. The only sound was the faint, easy breathing of two people deep in the realms of sleep, and a clock, counting the seconds as they passed.

The drug had done its job, then.

A small grin tugging at her lips, Scarlet flicked the light on, gave her eyes a moment to adjust to the sudden brilliance, then sauntered casually farther into the room. She was enjoying herself. Tapping the black leather whip lightly against her left leg, she strolled to the bed.

"Well, well, well, Jem," she taunted the drugged man, her voice high, excited. No longer could she control the grin that spread across her face. The man did not hear her, nor did he see the smile.

Moving to the foot of the bed, she gripped the blanket with one hand, pulled it quickly away, and tossed it to the ground. Jem lay on his side, one arm hanging over the bed, dipping toward the ground. He wore only a pair of shorts and, oddly, one sock, which was upon his left foot. Next to him, one arm tossed across Jem’s shoulders, her body curled to his, was that little whore he’d saved, her dark hair contrasting with the pale white of her skin, the faded blue of her nightgown.

For so long, Scarlet had denied the girl was pretty. But she admitted it now, because it no longer hurt to. Now, she would finally be able to pay back the little slut who had stolen.

But first, she would kill HIM.

He watched her turn, walk down the hallway, toward her room. He saw her arms swing back as she moved slowly in the darkness. No, wait. "Wait!" he called, then seemed suddenly at a loss for words as she turned back and walked toward him, her face filled with concern. Searching for words, he whispered at last, "What did your mother sing to you?"

A slow smile lit up her face. "Lullabies, sad songs," she told him, her voice quiet than he’d recalled it ever being before, as though she thought, were she to speak any louder, some spell would break, the night would evaporate and leave them in the cold, dry morning, where nothing meant anything at all.

Maybe it will. So he whispered, too. "What kind of lullabies? What were they of?"

"The lullabies…I guess they were simply lullabies, what you sing to children to put them to sleep. And she sang me songs about loss—people dying, betrayal, loves gone, sad, lonely songs."

"No one ever sang to me."

A look of mild surprise crossed her face. "Are you—"

He shook his head. "No, I haven’t remembered. I just…I just know that." Turning from her, he moved toward the cot that served as his bed, climbed onto it and lay, facing the wall.

Without having to ask her, he knew she was going to sing.


In a casual manner, she pulled one of the heavy metal chairs away from Jem’s table, placed it just in front of the bed, and sat upon it. For a moment, she simply sat there, regarding the two in the bed. Then she stood, pulled the light pack from her back, and removed the rope. First, she’d tie up his girl. Then she’d handcuff him to the bed, tie him as well, and wait for the drug to seep out of them.

Then all her fun would begin.

A deep swelling of anticipation filled her as she pulled Sair’s slight body from the bed, carelessly letting her drop to the floor, then pulling her to the chair. Scarlet placed the girl in a siting position, tied her arms behind her, tied her waist and legs to the chair. Her head sagged down against one shoulder.

Against her will, Scarlet found her gaze dropping to the girl’s belly. Her pregnancy was just barely evident, only a slight curve to the girl’s belly. But Scarlet could already imagine the tiny life growing within. She pulled her knife from it’s hidden sheath on her right leg, looked for a moment at the long, slender, wicked blade as the light of the moon reflected silver, then moved toward Sair. A sneer tugged at her lips.

"I don’t think you’ll be having that baby," Scarlet whispered, placing her hand upon Sair’s belly. Then she removed her hand, dragging the tip of her knife across the pale blue cloth, then back across the stomach, pushing slightly into the skin, so that the tiniest bit of blood began to seep out, to stain. "No, Jem’s baby won’t be born. I’ll be sure of that. But not just yet, darlin’. There are other things I must attend to first." She stood, stepped back, and grinned as small bit of blood colored the nightgown. "Have patience, patience, Sair. Your turn will come soon enough. But I wouldn’t want you to miss out on my little fun, now would I?" There was a wild look in Scarlet’s eyes. The red dress she wore felt cool against her skin, and abruptly harsh against her.

"And now for you, Jem," she murmured, changing her voice, making it smoky, like Sair’s. Swirling around, she slid her feet across the bare floor, pulled one knee up and rested it upon the bed. Her dress slid upward, satin against skin. The stocking upon that leg slid slowly downward. Pouting her lips, she pulled the other leg onto the bed, then crawled across it to where Jem lay, her hands falling into a sea of sheets.

Staring at him, she crooned, "It’s such a shame, you know. I didn’t want it to come to this. But you had to be stubborn, didn’t you? How very naughty. And now I must punish you. It won’t hurt." She paused, a slow smile tickling her features. "At first."

The fingers of her left hand closed around Jem’s right wrist. His wrist was warm, thick with muscle and pulsing with life. Scarlet could feel his heartbeat through his wrist. She could feel the blood beneath the skin.

Mylar did not sing softly, no longer keeping her voice to a whisper. As she sang, her voice seemed completely transformed, a voice he had never heard before. It was soft and sweet, something unearthly as the words tumbled from her lips. He was not entirely certain what it was she was singing, but it was a calm, tranquil melody, flowing through the darkness, flying over his closed eyelids. He could feel its light fingers upon his forehead.

And, just before he fell asleep, Rufus realized something. In a deep, sudden certainty, he realized that he had been sung to, a very long time ago.

She tied him to the bed. Rope around wrists, around the bedposts, ankles hand-cuffed together, but not tied down. It wouldn’t be necessary. He would not be able to struggle much.

Behind her, Sairobi was beginning to rouse. She could hear muffled moans as the girl struggled slowly through the layers of the drug-induced sleep. Quickly, Scarlet pulled out the hypodermic needle, slid it into Jem’s arm, under his skin. Her thumb pushed down the end of it—the liquid entered his bloodstream as Sair’s moans became murmurs.

Scarlet was at her side when the girl finally opened her eyes. She watched in dark amusement as confusion melted away, and she opened her mouth to scream. That scream, though, did not escape the lips; Sairobi Payne quickly shut her mouth as the tip of Scarlet’s blade touched her just beneath the chin, cold and deadly, gleaming silver.

"Good girl," Scarlet whispered, staring straight into Sairobi’s wide, frightened eyes. "You won’t say a word until I tell you to, if you know what’s good for you. And for your baby. And for your lover."

As though woken by her words, upon the bed, Jem began to thrash wildly. He opened his mouth, but no words came out. Hojo’s drug had done its job. The first half, in any event.

"Ah, Jem. You’re awake. Good. We can begin now." She turned and began to walk away, but whirled quickly, her feet moving, swirling, twisting, and she pressed the blade again against Sairobi’s throat. "I itch to see you bleed."

Sair flinched. Her green eyes darkened. They shifted downward, to the small trail of blood upon her stomach.

"Don’t worry, you’ll bleed tonight. But if you have any care for Jem, you won’t say anything. Not a word until I request it. Do you understand me?"

Shuddering, the girl nodded. A grin tugged at Scarlet’s lips as she saw slow tears well up in those emerald eyes.

"Now. Jem." She turned once more, walked slowly, softly across the floor. Having realized the predicament he was in, he had stopped thrashing; he’d stopped moving at all, and instead sat watching her with cold, brilliant, golden eyes. She smiled. Now she had his attention.

But he turned his head, his gaze melted as his eyes met Sair’s frightened ones. Scarlet felt her blood run hot and cold in the same instant, fury in fire and ice. "I’ll get to your little whore soon enough!" she snarled; her arm moved of its own accord, her hand impacting with his face with far more force than she’d intended. His head rocked back. His eyes stayed, attached to Sair’s.

"What the hell are you doing?" Sair demanded, finding her voice within Jem’s eyes. "Scarlet, get the hell out of here and—"

Scarlet grabbed Jem’s hand, thick and warm, within her own. She slashed it quickly from across the palm, not deeply, but enough to form a stream of blood across his hand. "You want to see him bleed, you slut? I told you not to speak until I tell you too."

Her face broke; her mouth closed.

"Jem here is accused of crimes against Shinra. I’m here to conduct an investigation. And I know Jem would never tell me anything, so I figure he shouldn’t be able to talk at all. You will tell me everything I need to know. And you will do it, Sair, because, if you don’t, Jem will pay the consequences." Her eyes focused on his blood. She dropped her knife to the ground and clasped her whip in one hand, then slowly, traced one finger across the line of red on Jem’s palm. Weakened by the drug, he could not pull away, but his eyes were still damning her.

She looked into those vibrant eyes, saw their shining anger. She would damn them both.

He woke in a sweat. Dark Nation, who never seemed to sleep, was pacing the room, her eyes wide and glowing in the darkness. Rufus climbed out of bed. He looked at his clock, and told himself to go back to sleep.

"Please, please don’t hurt him," Sairobi pleaded, but Scarlet had tuned her voice out; she’d learned what she needed to know. "You promised you wouldn’t hurt him! Oh dear god leave him alone. Jem! God, please leave him alone!"

"Shut up, now. Or I’ll kill him right here before you. Scream, and I slash his throat and bathe you in his blood, got it, you whiny little girl? I’ll let him live if you stop. After all, what fun will it be if I don’t get to have a trial? But I’m not done with him just yet."

Jem was wide awake, his eyes still shining, ferocious, fearless, but she knew that he was afraid, somewhere he would not let her see. Hojo’s drug would keep him conscious and silent. And Scarlet would have her fun.

"It’s a pity I don’t get to hear you scream. But if I let you…I can’t do that." She leaned closer, one leg upon the bed, so that she was nearly on top of him. His shirt was torn, his arms and shoulders bloodied from the sharp bite of her whip. Clasping her knife tightly in one hand, she moved forward, so that her face was near his. She stared straight into his eyes, and he stared hatefully back. "Oh, don’t be like that, Jem," she whispered, grasping his chin with her free hand. She kissed him hard, preventing him from twisting his head away, as he was struggling to do. Her long fingernails dug into the flesh of his cheeks.

In the chair, Sair had begun to sob.

Keeping his lips firmly together, Jem continued struggling to break his head free from her grasp. He was holding his breath, waiting for her to stop.

"Oh, you aren’t going to play nice?" she asked, withdrawing, the stain of her lipstick upon him as red as the blood that covered him. "I suppose it’s your own loss. I could have made this fun for you." She moved off of him, her free hand closing upon his thick wrist, bringing his arm with her. Her heart was beating rapidly; she felt drunk somehow, her blood rushing, her vision seeming slightly hazy.

"Are you ready, Jem?" she asked softly, looking once more into his eyes. Jem swiveled his head, his eyes turning to Sair, and Scarlet felt rage and want burn through her. Her blade moved toward his arm. She felt the heat of the long, slender knife as it cut into his skin, slicing downward. She felt his blood flow out; her fingers sought that skin, found it, and slowly, almost tenderly, she began to tear.

And Sair’s scream ripped through the air as she expressed for Jem the pain robbed from his voice, cutting through, shattering the perfect silence. But Scarlet could not stop. She continued tearing. Her blade continued biting.


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