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Oh, Little Sister

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       there are days i am your twin
       peekaboo
       hiding underneath your skin
       jets
       are revving yes revving from
       an ether twist
       call me ‘evil’
       call me ‘tide is on your side’
       anything you want . . .
       oh, little sister, can you forgive me one day?
             —Tori Amos, “Suede”

We climbed the walls out of the cemetery, you and me, B. Ivy tangling in our hair, the bricks abrading our skin. I heard you say my name in your little girl voice, and some nerves connected in my brain, and I remembered the first time I heard you speak—“Be aggressive, B-E aggressive!” The first time I saw you, your ponytail swinging, your little skirt swaying as you high-kicked. And I thought you had good legs, and that night when I took you out for the first time, you did that same high-kick into a vamp’s jaw, dislocating it with a sound like biting into an apple. And I was proud, for the first time in my life, of another human being. “You have to be patient,” my Watcher warned me, the night before I met you, sick with excitement like the night before Christmas, “she hasn’t had your training.” But you were a natural, B, just like me. We didn’t need their rules, their Slayer’s handbook. So many rules and numbers and shit, like fucking calculus or something. If I’d wanted all that, I would have stayed in school, and you would have, too.

Be aggressive, B-E aggressive!

When I was little, I begged my mom for a little sister. I was tired of being cooped up alone, day after day, night after night. I needed someone. Someone I could look after; someone who would always be there for me.

“You have to be patient,” my Watcher said, but I was still reeling from the thing she’d said before, “There’s another Slayer now.”

You asked me once, B, how dying feels, and I shrugged it off. Dying sucks, just so you know.

But it was worth it, so I could have you.

We climbed the walls out of the cemetery, you and me. Our nails were bloody and our feet itched to run, our hearts rabbiting in our chests. The cemetery gate would have been easier, no skinned knees or vines catching our ankles, but we needed to put something—anything—between us and the hellhounds.

“I have an assignment for you,” the Mayor said, the same way my Watcher used to say, before Kakistos ripped her in two. Ripped her in two, B, like she was a paper doll, not a living, breathing person who bandaged my wounds and gave me a place to spend the night when Mom locked me out. “I need something, for the Ascension.”

Yes, sir, boss man. Happy to be of service. You can count on us.

We did shots first, the pretty-colored ones you like that taste like candy and make my head fuzzy. I remember the first time I brought you to this club. The bartender raised his eyebrow when you ordered a beer, and you blushed. You blushed, B, like you were still some high school homecoming queen and not a killer, not a razor-sharp instrument that could hunt and punish. And then I kissed you, for the first time—just a show for the bartender so he’d forget to card you, but you kissed me back, so hard and so long that I got dizzy before I had a drop to drink. And I know that we drank, and I know that we danced, but the whole night between that kiss and sneaking into your bedroom is just a blur, like I was drunk, B. I was drunk on you. We climbed up the tree to your window, trying not to giggle too loud, trying to stifle the sound of our shoes on the windowsill. The window was still open when I started undressing you, the cool night breeze goosepimpling our skin. I picked you up and carried you to your bed, and I felt like Clark Gable, like I’d always wanted to feel—dashing and debonair and like I was worth a damn. The way I hadn’t felt since my Watcher died.

We climbed the walls out of the cemetery, you and me. We could hear the hellhounds snarling behind us, their massive paws clawing up the hallowed earth. Their stink, like rotten eggs—“That’s brimstone,” I can hear my Watcher saying, like a whisper in my ear—filling up our nostrils, making us gag. Our muscles burned; our breaths grew shorter and shorter, like the atmosphere was thinning as we climbed, like the wall was a stairway to heaven.

You had only been with us a few weeks when Kakistos came. I wanted to pull you out of school, but you had a dance that evening and I knew it was important to you—you’d already shown me your dress, white lace and blush-pink chiffon. It wasn’t a big deal, I thought; just one vampire.

And then, suddenly, my whole world was gone. All I had left was you. And when the Mayor came calling, well, that just made sense. And I know you didn’t want to go with him, but you would have followed me anywhere, B, wouldn’t you? You would have followed me to hell and back.

The thing about hellhounds, B, the thing that you would have learned if we’d paid attention to the Slayer handbook, if we’d had a real Watcher, not Wesley Wyndam-Pansy, is that hellhounds only chase down damned souls.

And they were chasing us both, B. They were chasing us both.