My flight was delayed. Again. I had already changed planes twice and been delayed for over eight hours. Apparently every time they tried to take off, all of a sudden someone would find ice on the wings, a random and drastic increase in wind, water in the engine (I can't wait to see the explanation for that one) or some other problem. All I kept asking myself was how long Croatoan could keep this up. And sooner rather than later, I was going to leave the airport and try to catch a train.
I knew he was tired already, and don't get me wrong- I was more grateful for his efforts than I had ever been for anything- but it wasn't a matter of stopping me. There was no way to break the bind- he had said that already. All he could do was delay my actions and hope, as I did, that eventually Mevolent would decide to have me do something else. There was no benefit for him in making me kill my parents anyway- nothing beyond the usual satisfaction he got from torturing, anyway.
Sometimes I wondered how well he would take it if all the pain he had inflicted was somehow inflicted back onto him but I came to the conclusion that all of it probably wouldn't do much. He just didn't care about anything or everyone. A slight shiver ran through my spine- why did that sound so eerily familiar? No, Niccolo was nothing like Mevolent. He never had been, not really.
Sure, he had done a whole host of terrible things, but his whole style was different. He never wanted a lot of attention, never wanted to rule the world or anything like that- it was just that he had only ever cared about keeping himself alive and powerful. And even that seemed to be changing- just look at what he was doing now! I was sure by the end of this he'd have used every trick in his book- and there were a lot of them- just to keep his promise to me. I suddently got up from my seat at the gate and began walking towards the exit- there it was, then. Time to try something new.
Sure enough, I found myself at a train station, waiting for the next one to take me home. I had to wait an hour until the next train to New York would arrive, so I sat down on the stairs leading up to the station, just inside the parking lot. A few moments later Croatoan was standing in front of me. I kept my eyes glued to the floor.
"So, you're going after them now."
I nodded, and said nothing.
"You know I won't let you do it."
"I know," I said, standing up slowly, and then in a flash I was lunging at him, aiming for his eyes with my fingers splayed. He saw it coming and leaned backwards just enough for my hand to swipe uselessly in front of his face. I stared blankly into the distance, still having a hard time comprehending what I had just done. I finally realized how powerless I was; and all one man had to do to gain complete control of me was carve one tiny little scar into the right spot on my neck.
"So that's your play now. You can't get at them, you kill me first." He shrugged, still completely relaxed. "It makes sense."
"You should have let me die." I murmured in my darkest voice, barely above a whisper.
"What?" He asked genuinely- he hadn't heard me. And I just lost it.
"YOU SHOULD HAVE LET ME DIE!" I screamed, tears filling my eyes. "Yesterday, when Jubi stabbed me- she was doing me a favor! Now I have to become my own worst nightmare." My voice was desperate, cracking and bitter. Niccolo just stared at me- he had now idea how to react.
"You don't-" He faltered a bit, still trying to figure out what someone who was good with emotions would say, "You don't really mean that..."
"Yes I do," I said quickly, "And you know it. From the moment we first met- you remember- you attacked me in my room, and I had your blood, but-"
"You wouldn't kill me unless you thought your family was in danger. I remember. But dying isn't the only way out of this one. I'll just keep you here until Mevolent gets bored, and gives you another target."
"You know he won't do that."
"You have any better ideas?" He stared me down, determination in his eyes. I still couldn't figure out what had changed in him, but I knew he had no intention of giving up. Why couldn't he see how futile all of this was?
"Kill me." I whispered, pleading with my eyes, "Please kill me. I... can't take this anymore."
He stared at me wide-eyed. I don't think I had ever seen him look so shocked. Not surprised, though- just shocked. "Aretha... I can't."
"Yeah? And why can't you?" I demanded, my voice harsh- but I couldn't hold his gaze. When I put myself in his shoes... I wouldn't be able to do it, either. But that was me. He was the cold, unforgiving one. And somehow I would make him see that he had to do this. I would make him kill me... And it would be the last thing I did.