|Let me ask you a favor (conclusion)|
Her everything hurts. She has been through so much in her several lifetimes, and yet the nekojin still finds new ways to scar her body and soul. Samantha keeps her eyes tightly shut, breathing steady as she slowly gains necessary distance from the scene, from the odd wasteland in which they sit, from the difficulties and heart-rending cares that she invests in these two people. Johnny's question registers dimly against her outer senses, though it is a minute longer before an eye cracks open. Tears sparkle within it, uncried, held in check only by her deep focus. "It was..." she begins in a whisper, delicately clearing her throat before trying again, the eye slipping shut again. She cannot look at him. "It was home. The one place I can't go. I tried to focus on..." The next words catch in her throat. A shudder runs down her spine and her concentration shatters. She opens both eyes now with a gasp, and sets her hands at her abdomen, breathing becoming more laboured. Her words come in a rush. "I tried to focus on my pop. I thought... if she went back to him..." She glances at Tabitha, fixing her momentarily with a thousand yard stare that seems to beg forgiveness even as it travels through her...
A sudden shift seems to fall over Tabitha as Samantha explains what she'd been doing. "No. That's not my home. I was born on Twisted. Take me back ta Twisted." Johnny stares at the small girl, his head tilting to the side. "What's it matter to you? Isn't anywhere better than this?" Tabitha takes a moment to glance around at the landscape before reluctantly sighing and nodding. "Yeah... fine... whatver... I'm sorry." Johnny stares at her a moment longer before dropping to his knees beside Samantha. "Sooo... why can't you go back there? This is the first I've heard about it."
She says it before she can stop herself, her voice small and sad as she responds to the clone. There is no bitterness in her tone, or resentment, and yet the sentiment that is expressed causes her to cringe inwardly. She is too aware of the predicament Tabitha herself must be in, as again a vision of fire and blood flashes through her mind. She is not the first clone that has been made of Samantha Li-Bogard. Far from it. She can still see hear the screams... A second shudder, but this seems to galvanise her somewhat, as she lifts her gaze to Johnny, no longer preventing the tears and letting them dash her cheeks as she brushes aside the accompanying emotion. She will not allow herself to be as frail as once she was. A smile brushes her pale lips. "I can't go back for the same reason that she can't. It's not my home any more. No more than Metropolis, or Neo Tokyo. No more than Porre." It is the first time she has spoken that word, though it does not sound strange on her lips. Pausing, she draws and releases a breath, then glances at Tabitha. "She's right. /You're/ right. Let's get both of us home." She returns her eyes to Johnny, eyes wide and inquiring, "Do you think you can help with that? I..." "I'm not as sure as I was."
Johnny rolls his eyes at the comment. "We could try what we did back on Twisted... that seemed to work." He stands again, offering a hand for his weakened friend to pull her to her feet. "Then again I'm not sure if that wouldn't kill you." Tabitha headtilts, her ears perk and focus on the conversation at hand with a renued intrest. "Wait... how did ya get here? I've been trying that cutting thing Johnny did when he threw me here for months now. Why don'tcha teach me an' maybe I could take 'er place?"
Samantha gains her feet with assistance from her friend, gasping as she does so. Her legs are shaking beneath her as she stands, obviously and almost palpably drained of energy. Her wound is not assisting matters. Keeping a hand clasped to it, she glances between maniac and clone, vision slightly blurred, still processing the words enough to frown at Tabitha's suggestion. What the maniac says is right... that much is clear from her stance, and from her aura. And yet. She breathes in and out, forces herself to look at the younger catgirl with fresh eyes. Her head cants to one side, one ear twitching as she lifts a hand to rub at her face, leaving her hand across her mouth and nose as she stares levelly at the girl. Slowly then, she nods, dropping her limb with a resigned sigh. "I... don't s'pose we have a choice. Tabby, how well can you control your chi? It's gonna take a lot to pull this off. It's taken me /months/ but..." She nods again, looking a little more determined, pulling herself together with a roll of her shoulders. "Maybe together. We're the same, right? You know it. I feel it. If we c'n use our wills as one..." She trails off again, thinking back. Staring deep into the past. Her ancestry looks back, raising a figurative eyebrow. Though it is not simply /her/ ancestry; it is shared. It is /theirs/. "Open your mind," she murmurs, stepping closer to Tabitha.
Johnny steps back as Tabitha takes a step closer to Samantha. With a shrug of her shoulders she rotates her head, loosening the muscles in her neck. "I'm better than Johnny 'ere. Even at his own tricks. I also had Sun show me how to call on fire magic." Her face falls into a mischivious grin, "I think he'd be in trouble if he could ever bring 'imself ta fight me." She straightens up as the elder catgirl moves closer, her eyes closing and a deep breath escaping her lips. "Alright." Her mind is open, and save for a strange darkness clinging at the back of her thoughts, her secrets are bare. A desire for a life, a childhood, and that darkness... that ever growing darkness... "What now?"
"Now," Samantha replies, not echoing the grin. She is too tired to allow her focus to shift from the task at hand, as she seems to once more fall deeper into herself, toned frame swaying back and forth as it struggles to keep up with the honed focus of her mind. "Now I give you myself." It is spoken simply, almost matter-of-fact, although this is nothing that she has ever done before. Her eyes lid slightly as she places a hand just above Tabitha's breast, warm palm seeking proximity to the clone's beating heart. "Maybe we'll understand each other a little better." That draws a small smile, the heat of it touching her sapphire gaze momentarily before it becomes further clouded. Samantha's very life-force seems to dim and flicker as she draws in a long, slow breath, releasing it in a shudder that runs the entire length of her body, tail whipping a tense arc before falling limp. It is not something she could do under any other circumstance; but she is buoyed up by desperation, and a deep melancholy unlike any other. In a flood, it all comes pouring out, a seething, complex mess of memories erupting from her own mind into Tabitha's. All that the maniac sees is the slumping shoulders and flaccid tail... But within, turmoil. There is no way to make this any easier. The poor clone is all but assaulted, her own misery compounded by that of the original. Until the hopes and dreams start breaking through, conveying each friendship, every love, every salvation and moment of laughter. Every lesson that Samantha Li-Bogard has learned. It will be impossible to retain it all, however, and as the storm continues the pertinent points start breaking through. Slowly, a glow of energy starts to melt off the nekojin's entire body, prickling blue-white motes surfacing as she draws on every iota of strength she can find. It takes minutes, but she reaches the vestiges of experience needed to convey months of practice unto the clone. Every motion can be felt, lived as though she herself lived it. It is accompanied by a wave of sympathy, compassion, and a begging for forgiveness. Because the journey has been so hard... but this is what she needs to go home.
The connection of course, goes both ways. The cold icy darkness within the clone seems to grow stronger with each heartbeat. The images of Tabitha's brief experience on Twisted and the horrible things she did after being tossed aside. The reasons this world is dark is simple - she willed it to be. On the girl's face a grin widens with each horrible act she witnesses during the connection, each one lived for the first time and each one relived from her own experience. While it was true that the girl was created innocent desiring nothing more than a family, jealousy over the life she was replacing has grown into something far darker than it should have. She hasn't been trying to return to Twisted, she has been waiting for this moment, this connection. Should Samantha open her eyes she would see the girl grinning with contempt, the mate to Johnny's Dread Dagger clutched tightly in hand and posed to make it's way home into the elder's heart before she can fully break contact. Johnny watches it all with distracted intrest. For all he knows this is what Samantha wanted, and if he had his way he would never stand in the way of that again. It took him millenia to admit to himself, but this is all he wanted from life. To have his friends with him again. If only his life was so kind as to help him keep things that way...
She believed that she had learned about herself, tempered her weaknesses with the wisdom of ages. Honed her body and mind to equip her for the future. But one great flaw remains; that Samantha is given to trust. In striving to save this vestige of her damaged soul, she has given completely of herself, committed to her innermost to salvaging this pitiful creature and perhaps gifting her with a greater life than she herself has possessed these past years. Nothing would have made her happier. Nothing would have allowed her more to vindicate her mistakes, to allay her horrible guilt over the past. So it is that she is ill-prepared, focused mentally and emotionally on sharing what she can with Tabitha. With this twisted daughter, creation of her memory at the hands of a man she undoubtedly loves. Her eyes do open a fraction before that blade pierces her skin, but they do so with only an extension of this love glistening in them, that she might meet with some understanding or approval from the girl before her. For all that she owes her apology, she owes her so much more as well... She owes her life. She owes her blood. As if in slow motion, the brutal, empowered metal drinks deep. A black wellspring bubbles up around it, crimson turning to ichorous darkness as the power temporarily sealed away by Oblivion lashes back into existence at reunion with its opposite number. Samantha's lips part in an empassioned exhalation, as reality batters at her distanced senses with all the insistence of a hurricane against flimsy wooden doors. And there is nothing she can do. The doors are blown outward, flung far and wide along with the fluid that keeps her heart pulsing... as it runs down her breast, coating her flesh and her clothes in foul, steaming liquid of red and black. "Johnny..." Her voice comes so tiny and quiet, a strangled plea as she glances toward the apparently relaxed maniac. Her eyes scream desperation, even as her mind resigns itself to a fate it cannot escape. Slowly that light, that fire, dies. She can only say one thing. There are but two words that can sum up an eternity so poorly spent. "I'm sorry." Her body ceases shaking as the life leaves it. It is too sudden to be merely the work of that dagger, even of the leeching, mutated once-power of Benedict as it runs through her. It is as though she simply gives up. And then, it happens; an explosion of force that shakes the very world around them. Blue-white energy erupts from the nekojin's well-honed frame even as it pales and falls, sending out waves of incredible soulfire. Reality itself starts to collapse inward, space and time folding in on itself as Samantha - in her dying act - opens a portal home... It is a pure act, no spite or anger directed toward the jealous clone or the friend who would watch her die. Who once slayed her, himself. Because she owes them this much and more. Because they have earned it with their blood and their sweat and their tears. Because they may continue to earn it. And so the darkness that consumes them as they traverse between worlds carries a strange, prickling warmth. The bittersweet deathbed gift of a matriarch to those she leaves behind. A home is the gift she can give. It is only fitting, after all they have been through, that this home should be known simply as 'Twisted'.
Johnny screams as realization fully hits him as to what is going on. His movements are slow, at least in his own eyes, as the blood and blackness begin to flow freely. Tabitha cackles as the darkness running from the wound covers her own hands, seemingly being absorbed into her skin as it finds a new home. In seconds it's over, Samantha slumping to the ground as the younger image of her stands overtop, blood dripping from the pulsating black blade. Swinging the blade as if to clean the blood from it, it twists and turns reflecting Samantha's ninjato with a red hue stolen from it's previous owner. Johnny reaches her too late, his own copy of the dagger blocked by the red blade as he tried in vain to do the same damage onto the clone. "WHY?!? WHY DID YOU FUCKING DO IT?!? WE WHERE TRYING TO HELP YOU!!" Tabitha grins, licking a dab of blood from her hand. "It's simple. I made things better for you. No more distractions. No more confusion. Now you KNOW she's dead, so what more is there to worry about?" Johnny drops to his knees for the second time his hand reaching out for Samantha's already cooling flesh as he tries to ignore the obvious and hope for a sign of life. Tabitha cackles at the maniac's display. Her voice a singsong as she speaks again, "It's okay, Johnny. You can tell her you love her when you both meet on the other side-oh. That's right. That'll never happen Mr Hell Council." She brings the blade in her hand to her face and her expression darkens more. "...after all, I have her little soul right here, don't I? And even that will be gone soon." Johnny leaps to his feet again, tears of rage welling up from his eyes as he glares at his rouge creation - but in that moment the girl is gone, leaving only fading darkness and the sound of her laughter in her wake...