“Sabrina, listen to me. We don’t have a lot of time, and I really, really need you to listen to me.”
“No,” I repeated, trying to scramble away from her. “You just… You fucking killed them, Veronica. They’re dead. You’re a murderer.”
“In my defence, he shot me first,” she said. “Fair is fair.”
“How is that fair? You already told me you can’t die.”
“If you’re willing to take a life, you have to be willing to have yours taken,” she said, shrugging. “He was clearly willing to kill me.”
“You’re not Veronica,” I whispered. “You’re not my friend.”
For the first time, she looked angry. Not just annoyed or irritated, but actually angry. Her face twisted into a scowl, and she lifted me off the ground with superhuman strength.
“Fuck you,” she snapped. “Fuck you. You do not get to judge me. I fucking died for you, alright? I died. I braved a city full of monsters for you, and you let me die. You saw me. You were there, right before she killed me, and I never knew it was you.”
She dropped me, and I hit the ground awkwardly.
“You think just because I’m here, because I’m back, that everything is normal now? I don’t get normal, Sabrina. I won’t get to grow up, or live a normal life. I don’t get to un-see the shit I’ve seen. I don’t get to forget what it’s like to die.”
She was shaking, crying, barely holding it together.
“I am here for one reason, and only one reason. I came back to save you, because you’re my best fucking friend, and I love you, you fucking asshole. So you are going to listen to me, because I am not going to lose you to that psychotic fucknozzle in your head.”
I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know if I could believe her, even though I really wanted to. Part of me wanted to run away, part of me wanted to yell at her, part of me wanted to hug her and tell her everything was going to be okay.
Instead, all I did was sit there, and stare up at her mutely.
“I’m sorry,” she said, wiping her face on her still-soaked sleeve. It only served to make her face wetter, which made us both laugh. “Ask me anything. If you need me to prove that I’m your friend, I’ll do it. I need you to trust me.”
“I believe you,” I said, surprising myself.
“Then you’ll listen?”
She sighed, and sat down beside me. We sat side by side, staring at the river and the darkened city beyond.
“The voice in your head. Does it have a name?”
“She calls herself Envy,” I said.
“How much do you know about her?”
“Not a lot,” I confessed. “She’s… from the other world, I think? She’s the source of my powers. She copies other people’s powers, and I think she has some weird mirror powers?”
Veronica nodded, but didn’t make eye contact.
“How much do you trust her?”
“I… don’t,” I said. “She’s in my head, like actually in my head, and I don’t know how much of what I’m feeling is real, and how much is her.”
“I guess you didn’t need my warning as much as I thought.”
“She’s taking over, Sabrina. Slowly, for now, but the more powers she absorbs, the stronger she gets. Eventually, she’s just going to lock you in a little room inside your own mind, and you’ll never get out again.”
My first reaction was to deny it. Envy had been a friend, a support, a guide. She protected me, helped me, gave me power.
Then I remembered the anger, the hatred, the single-minded determination I’d felt, to do exactly what she’d told me to do. I remembered going after the others, Ami and Gabriel and Zoe, all to grow more powerful, for a revenge quest I would never, never have wanted.
With Envy out of my head, I didn’t feel that hatred. I didn’t want to kill Charlie, or Gabriel, or anyone. I just wanted to help people. I wanted to make my city safe again, but not with violence, not with murder. Zoe’s machine, a portal back home, that was the key. Send the superhumans home. And Charlie, she was working on a cure, an antidote. She already had a preventative. Together, the three of us could…
“How do I stop her?” I asked, suddenly frightened. I didn’t want to lose myself to her. I didn’t want to let her loose on the world.
“I don’t know,” she confessed. “I’d say you need to stop her from getting any more power, but it seems like she’s already got as much as she needs.”
“She’s still looking for Haylie. Apparently she’s the key. I don’t know what that means.”
“Me either. But I think it’s safe to say that you should keep herself, yourself, away from Haylie. Just in case.”
“But how do I do that without arousing her suspicion?” I asked, at the same time as I felt twitch in my hand. I looked down. The skin was beginning to pale. I was turning back. “Shit.”
“I think that would be dangerous. Don’t give her a reason to push you, not if we don’t know just how strong her control already is.”
She looked down at my hand, and frowned. Without warning, she jumped to her feet, yanking me with her, holding me up by the collar, my feet dangling over the river.
“Shut up. Envy’s gonna be back soon, and things are going to be a lot smoother for you if she believes that we didn’t have this discussion. So here’s what I need you to do.” She took a deep breath, and gritted her teeth. “As soon as you get your strength back, fight back. Break some bones, and toss me into the river. Trust me, I’ll be fine. Tell Envy I was an imposter, and that you’re in more of a hurry than ever to find Haylie.”
“No ‘buts’, Sabrina. Envy is dangerous, and I need to know you’re safe from her. This is the only way.”
“I don’t want to say goodbye again,” I whispered, grabbing onto her arm.
“I’ll be watching over you,” she said, her face momentarily betraying affection, before returning to feigned murderous intent. “Oh, and one last thing. Don’t blame Charlie. She didn’t kill me out of malice.”
My body twitched, then convulsed. The familiar sensation of shifting washed over me, but it was uncomfortable, uninvited. It hurt.
The power returned. Strength, senses, violence. The detail of the world around me flowered, and with it came a nearly overwhelming desire to fight, to take.
“Just in time, it looks like,” Envy said, standing behind Veronica. “I don’t want to say ‘I told you so,’ but…”
It was alarmingly easy to break Veronica’s arm. It snapped like a thin, brittle twig. Her face contorted in pain, and she dropped me. My feet found the edge of the embankment, grounded me, and I twisted around, hurling Veronica into the river. She hit the water with a splash, sank, and didn’t surface again.
“Nice to have you back,” I lied.
“I need to know how she did that,” Envy said. “If she can do it again…”
“One time trick. She won’t land another shot. If I see her again, I’ll snap her neck.”
“Not exactly the happy reunion you were hoping for, then?”
Is she taunting me?
“That wasn’t Veronica,” I said.
“I’m sorry,” she said, and it sounded sincere. “So, what now?”
“Now, we draw out the Celestial. And I have a plan.”
“Miss Murder. She’s left him, and nobody knows him better. We find her, she helps us find him. Simple as that.”
“And finding her…?”
“We find Ami,” I said.
“Sounds like a plan.”
Next Week: Everything Here Is Wrong