Actions

Work Header

The Echo Of My Heart

Work Text:

Chadara sees dead people.

Or rather, she sees the echoes of dead people, souls that got stuck somehow. She sees the living as well, of course, their life-force vibrant, souls shimmering eager through the surface. But in a way, Chadara understands the dead better. Echoes don’t lie, don’t manipulate, don’t have malicious intent. There’s no deception left in them. They don’t pretend to be anything but dead and they never change. They don’t want anything from her.

The living use her, throw her away like trash, and then pretend they never needed her anyway. Or well, they would, but she learned her lesson young. Souls are bad at keeping secrets from her. Now, whenever she recognizes the purpleish, flickering shade of deceit, she runs.

She signed up for the Sentry herself, she’d grown up seeing echoes, she knew she belonged there. More importantly, she wanted to belong there. At least, these people would know to be honest. So when she first got tested as a Seer, she was excited. She’d finally be able to help people, and she’d be matched with someone who would help her, have her back. She’d connect, and they wouldn’t be able to lie to her. They wouldn’t want to.

How naive she had been.

She tested well, and a lot of people tried out for being matched with her. She declined all requests. Nobody ever genuinely seemed to want to be matched with her. They either wanted her because she was pretty, or because she was the new girl, or simply because nobody else had been accepted before them, and they wanted to prove themselves. They praised her to her face, complimented her skills, but their Souls shimmered green with envy and spite, so brightly that it hurt her eyes. The longer she stayed, the worse it got; the more she rejected, the harder their rejection. So she got shunned and left to her own devices.

In the end, maybe that was for the best. She wasn’t sure she could have dealt with someone always being there, at the edge of her mind. So she left them to their colors, their scheming, and their too-bright thoughts. She preferred the faded and muted, the more subtle movements of light that echoes left. For her, the company of the dead was enough.

 


 

Mira didn't care about echoes. On the streets, they didn’t really matter. They couldn’t steal your food, couldn’t assault you in a dark corner, and couldn’t murder you in your sleep. The worst that could happen was a door slamming in your face. It was the living who are out to harm you. The ghosts, the ghosts were just stuck.

Mira couldn’t see them, of course. Only Seers could. But nobody needed to tell her what the chilly spots in alleyways were, or why she got blindsided by terror and despair the first time she took a short-cut through the park. Echoes were always the strongest where people had violently died, endlessly reliving their last day on earth, as if to try and fix what couldn’t be fixed.

They didn’t bother her, unlike the living. They were easily avoided, as they haunted the same places, fixated on their dying spot. Even with the Sentry slow in taking care of them in her neighborhood, it was easy to stay away once she knew where they were. Once in a while, a matched pair would pass through, vanquish those they found, and the roads would be clear again.

Mostly she tried to make sure she didn’t end up as one of them. Sometimes she wondered if she'd even leave an echo if she got killed. No one to remember her after all, and no unfinished business to keep her here.

She met Spartacus at a crime scene, on her usual way home from her shitty, below-minimum-wage job. Beggars can’t be choosers. She was waiting for the police barrier to be cleared away, so she could go and sleep already, when she noticed the man circling about the crime scene. He seemed to instinctively avoid the echo, but he was wearing a Scryer insignia, so Mira figured he actually wanted to find it. She couldn’t see any blood, but whatever happened must have been pretty horrific. The echo gave of little waves of fear that were giving her goosebumps.

“It happened more to your right,” she spoke up.

When the man snapped around, looking for whoever spoke to him, she pointed to where the chilly waves were coming from. He beckoned her closer, so she dove under the police ribbon, hoping that her help would move this along.

The man looked her over and frowned a bit. He was tall and carried himself with a lot of tension. Despite all that, he was rather handsome. He looked like he worked out a lot, but even with all those muscles, and his uniform, his body-language was very non-threatening. Mira relaxed, but only slightly.

“Are you a Seer?” he asked, and Mira scoffed. Would she be working a shitty job for shitty pay, to pay the rent of her even shittier room in the shitty building in the worst neighborhood in town if she was a Seer? Was he shitting her?

“No, I don’t see the dead or anything,” she said, and when he looked disbelieving, she clarified. “I’m just a bit sensitive when something bad happened somewhere, like how a chilly room can give you goosebumps. Sometimes when I imagine rubbing my arms, it goes away, but this one feels too bad for that.”

He looked her over again and then looked at where she assumed the crime happened. Murder, she guessed, since apparently they were talking about echoes.

“Well, you’re something, if you’re feeling this. I’m one of the best Scryers of this generation, and I can only barely feel the residue of what happened here. Would you mind coming to the office with me, and get a preliminary test?”

Mira arched her eyebrow at him. She didn’t have time for this nonsense.

Once he realized that would be her only response, the man smiled a little self-deprecatingly.

“I’ll buy you dinner for your time,” he said. “There’s always a chance I’m wrong about this, but if I’m right, there might even be a job in it for you. One that actually pays.”

Well, she’d never say no to free food.

“Alright,” she said. “As long as there’s dessert in there somewhere as well, I suppose it couldn’t hurt, Mr… …?”

He smiled fully now, and fuck, he was beautiful.

“Spartacus,” he said, and held out his hand for her to shake. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

Mira shook his hand. He had a strong grip, and his large hand completely engulfed hers. His warmth spread through her fingers. Even standing this close, she felt almost safe with him.

She looked up at him. “You can call me Mira.”




 

Chadara had expected them sooner. After all, the town she lived in had been plagued by a serial killer for a long time now. Everywhere she walked she saw the echoes of his victims. Trudging down the paths they’d always walked, forever stuck to relive their last days. Their deaths had been too abrupt, too violent, for them to be able to find peace.

She’d followed a couple of them, to see if she could find out anything, but their expressions when they died were just too horrific. She kept looking over her shoulder, expecting to be jumped any second.

She honored their graves with flowers, but there was nothing she could do for them.

They needed a Scryer.

She watched them crossing Main Street. They both looked professional, composed, but with a certain tension within them. They were not how she remembered and expected a matched pair to look like.  Where was the glow of the underlying connection?

She decided to follow them into the diner to take a closer look. They didn’t talk much while they checked the menu, nor did they really chat much their waitress. They were both very polite, though, and the way they passed around the condiments showed a certain ease, the familiarity of knowing each other well.

Mostly their souls didn’t make sense. The man’s was fiery red, burning with rage, grief and a certain thirst for revenge. It encompassed him wholly, which made his apparent calm kind of disconcerting. Chadara looked away in discomfort and focused on the woman instead. She was pretty, both on the inside and out. Her soul burned as well, but it was bright and hungry, reaching out. Where it reached for the man, instead of the connection Chadara expected, the woman's soul had turned gray and bitter, however.

When she saw their insignia, it all made sense. They weren’t a matched pair, they were two Scryers. No wonder there was no connection between them. If she looked past the burning rage of the man, she could even see the scars of where there used to be a connection. His Seer must have died.

Chadara felt for them, she did, but the people of her town were being hunted by a psychopath, and being haunted by his victims, so she couldn’t let her emotions deter her. They would need her help.

She made her way to them, and the closer she got the more she got distracted by the woman. She was beautiful, with dark eyes, and freckles on her cheeks. Chadara stared, until she pushed her attraction down. No time for distractions.



Spartacus was a dismissive ass, despite meaning well. Chadara wondered how Mira had suffered him for all this time. But she guessed his looks helped somewhat, and she assumed the sex was good too. And they’d definitely hooked up more than once, their body language open and comfortable, and their souls passing through each other, but never truly connecting. However, Chadara did like Mira. She was competent, kind despite being a little distant, and most importantly, she got shit done.

She deserved better than to be partnered with someone so self-centered. They did manage to vanquish some of the echoes haunting her town, though. And if Chadara was honest, she was surprised how little they actually needed her help. It was like they stumbled around until they bumped into something they couldn’t see, nor understand, and then blasted it with power so strong and bright no echo could possibly linger. It was inelegant, but it worked. Still, even systematic stumbling could be improved upon, and Chadara brought them to each site precisely, directing their power as well as she could, not being able to actually guide it.

“I wanted to thank you,” Mira said, after she and Spartacus vanquished the third one. “It’s such a relief, to not have to keep walking through all that misery to feel out its borders.”

“Oh, you feel their emotions? That’s just horrible.” Spartacus was talking with the police liaison, and she and Mira were sitting on a bench. Mira still burned blue and bitter, but her face looked less pinched, and the circles under her eyes had cleared up some, like she had caught up on sleep. Chadara wouldn’t sleep either, if she’d had to feel murder-victims' emotions day in, day out.

“Sorry if I’m intruding,” she said. “But why aren’t you matched with a Seer? Not that you and Spartacus don’t work, it’s just, this seems inefficient.”

Mira smiled wryly. “I was never properly tested as a kid. Didn’t realize all these emotions I could sense were a side-effect of me being a Scryer. He,” she pointed to Spartacus with her chin. “He found me, and when he realized I was a Scryer with a strong sense for emotional residue, trained me up to be his partner.”

She hesitated.

“He used to be partnered with a proper Seer. I think they loved each other even before they actually matched. They were married, in any case. She died - she was murdered - and he hasn’t wanted to be matched with someone else. Can’t bear to make a connection like that again. So I stuck around, never ran through matching for myself.”

“Seems to me, you’ve gotten the bad side of the deal there,” Chadara said, carefully putting her hand on Mira’s bare wrist for comfort. For a moment, the world flashed brighter, and she could feel heat sliding up her skin, like a frisson of… something.

Mira snapped her hand away, to curl it around her coffee. “He’s a good man,” she said, chin jutted forward stubbornly. “He’s kind and gentle, and he took me off the streets.”

“Pretty sure you got yourself off of the streets,” Chadara said, but Mira’s soul still burned frostily.

Chadara wanted to kiss that cold away.

Fuck.

 


 

As it happened so often, things went to shit. Their over-enthusiastic police-liaison took them to a site but didn’t warn them about the severity of the haunting-complaints in the neighborhood, nor about the amount of them. If he had, they would have had some inkling they were walking into the serial killers’ favorite kill-spot. Mira couldn’t tell apart the echoes, let alone find an outline. It was just wave after wave of terror and despair, and she couldn’t escape it. She couldn’t escape them.

Chadara had frozen when they entered the warehouse, and she looked pale, like all her blood had gone elsewhere.

“There’s so many of them,” she whispered, and stepped closer to Mira, looking for support. Spartacus was walking around unbothered, looking for signs of a struggle that could point him in the right direction to start vanquishing. She didn’t understand how he couldn’t feel it. How could anyone not sense the horrifying terror that filled the room? She could taste it on the back of her tongue, the nauseating sourness almost clouding all her senses.

“Spartacus,” she said. “It’s everywhere. It’s a massacre. There’s no use in seperating them out.”

Spartacus looked worried when he finally noticed how overcome both she and Chadara were.

“Alright, let’s do a general, concentrated vanquishing burst and see where that gets us.”

Mira reached inside, but she couldn’t get a grip on her power. She couldn’t focus. The terror was too strong, and with every grasp that missed, she got more and more frightened, until she couldn’t make a difference between her own feelings and those she was sensing.

Spartacus’ burst of power was as strong as ever, but without direction it wasn’t concentrated enough to make a difference. She was starting to panick, and just wanted them to get out of there.

“So you’ve discovered my masterpiece,” a woman’s voice suddenly said. The three of them turned around to look for her, but it was Chadara who finally pointed at a far corner, shrouded in shadows.

When the woman stepped forward, Mira wanted to recoil from the expression on her face. She was grinning, but there was something off about it. She looked unhinged, and the ritual knife she carried only added to that impression.

The woman swirled around, wildly waving her arm. “Doesn’t it feel marvelous,” she sang. “All that pain, all that grief.” She suddenly stopped, and looked them over menacingly. “All that power,” she said, voice cold, and made her free hand into a fist.

Beside her, Spartacus fell to his knees and moaned. Chadara gasped. The chilly terror in the room increased.

“All that rage and pain,” the woman cooed. Beside her, Spartacus collapsed. “Lost your Seer, did you? So did I. It’s like missing a limb, or suddenly becoming blind. I went a little mad for a while there.” The woman laughed, and Mira shivered. If this wasn’t being mad, she didn’t know what else was.

“She’s like you,” Chadara whispered. “She’s a Scryer. But she uses it differently. She uses it wrong.”

Spartacus was still squirming and grinding his teeth in agony.

“She uses it on the living souls,” Chadara said in horror.

“Why, aren’t you a smart little bird? Got a little power of your own, huh, I can tell. Well, let me tell you a little secret,” the woman paused dramatically, pointing her knife at Chadara. “You don’t need to be matched to make use of your power, you can use the power of the dead.”

Mira stepped back in horror, until she could feel Chadara at her back. Spartacus lay motionless before her. Mira searched her memories, desperate for anything to stop this, desperate for a way out. She found nothing. Nothing but despair and fear.

“All those dead,” Chadara said, “all that pain, only to power a madwoman.” She sounded defeated, nothing like the warm tones with the little bite Mira had come to know.

The memory of Chadara touching her wrist popped up again, warm and light, like a beacon in the darkness. She hadn’t wanted to think about it, what it meant. Didn’t want to face the attraction, since she’d be moving on with Spartacus soon. But there it was, comforting her a bit, clearing her head. And fuck it, it was worth a try.

Mira held out her hand behind her. Chadara only hesitated a second, but then they were holding hands, and the world exploded in color and light.

 


 

Mira held out her hand, and Chadara knew. She knew what was going to happen if she’d take that hand. They’d connect, and she wanted to, she wanted it so bad. But she wasn’t sure if she could afford to. What if Mira let her go again? What if her own soul, the only soul she couldn’t see, was a horrible bitter thing, and Mira, so bright and burning, would recoil?

But they couldn’t afford not to, surrounded as they were by echoes, swirling in layers of cloying mist around them, strings connected to that, that woman. Her soul was the blackest of black, and its tendrils were hooked into Spartacus.

They needed to do something, so Chadara took Mira’s hand. For a second, it burned. And then she drowned.

She was submerged in emotions. So much terror, horror, and fury. She could feel the weight of the mist, instead of only seeing it, and it weighed her down. She couldn’t bear this. She couldn’t breathe, and when she gasped for air, she could almost taste the residue of terror filling up her lungs.

How could anyone bear this? How had Mira born this for all these years? Thinking of her made her focus on Mira, made her notice the wonder and excitement and hope through all that despair. So she stepped closer until her nose was pressed between Mira’s shoulder-blades.

She closed her eyes, but she couldn’t hide from the swirling pool of emotions and echoes circling around them. When she inhaled, however, she could smell Mira’s shampoo, something citrusy, and it cleared her senses somewhat. She controlled her breathing, pressed herself closer to Mira, and focussed. She could feel Mira’s power, like a current between them, sizzling.

“Fuck, they were so afraid,” she said into Mira’s back. “How do you deal with this, and not turn out like that?” Chadara pointed to the woman with her free hand, still holding on to Mira with the other.

The madwoman was looking at them warily, pooling tendrils of the swirling echoes about her.

“How do you make sense of all this color?” Mira asked in turn. And yeah, Chadara had known about Mira’s sense, so she’d expected something like this, but Chadara had never properly explained how Seeing actually worked for her.

“Think of them as layers on top of each other. Each layer is the impression left by a person. It’s not normally so detailed, though.”

She closed her eyes again, trying to ignore the details and the emotions connected to them. She wasn’t strong enough for this. She didn’t do emotions.

She almost felt Mira following her advice, like a tickle on her skin, pulling at her. She pressed a little closer, and the connection between them sizzled a bit more strongly.

They needed to do something with this power between them. Not that Chadara had a clue about how actual vanquishing worked, but she felt the power between them, and she felt the madwoman pulling on the echoes around them, absorbing them. She felt Mira’s aversion, saw it almost, like an echo, but in her mind.

“I don’t care for it either,” she said. “But we need to do something soon.”

The woman grabbed the tendrils hooked into Spartacus, and he screamed.

Chadara felt Mira brace herself, and she gripped tight.

 


 

The room felt covered with a thick gray film; like a mist had risen out of nowhere. Slowly, Mira could discern people in the swirling mess, and the moment she identified someone, she could see the whole layer belonging to that person, like a movie playing out. Unfortunately, she could also connect the people to their emotional residue, which turned clear and strong the moment she focused on the images. She swallowed down the bile rising in her throat.

Maybe she was lucky she’d been paired with Spartacus so far if this is what matching with a Seer was like.

“I don’t care for it either,” Chadara said, and fuck, nobody had ever told her matching came with telepathy.

Something warm burned below her midriff, and when she looked down, she saw that Chadara had wrapped her free arm around her. It felt nice. Safe. And warm. And that’s when she realized that while she could feel all the surrounding echo’s of fear and pain and terror, it didn’t necessarily affect her. Underneath that weight, she felt settled and secure. She wasn’t alone.

“We need to do something soon,” Chadara said, and she was right because Spartacus was screaming in pain. The madwoman had stepped closer to him, and fuck, they couldn’t get distracted now, even if there was a high possibility she and Chadara were currently in the process of matching.

Now that she focused on the madwoman, she could see the tendrils of the echoes seeping into her… her aura, for lack of a better word. But even worse, she could see her pulling on Spartacus’ aura, which seemed to be fraying at the edges.

She tried vanquishing the woman’s tendrils instinctively, a bright burst of concentrated power, but it didn’t make a difference, and the woman just cackled, and wrapped the tendrils hooked into Spartacus around her hands again.

“She’s not dead,” Chadara said into her back. “We need to vanquish the echoes. Set them free. They're her source of power.”

“Okay, but where do we start? There’s so many of them. And they feel so solid. She connects them somehow.”

“Start with the oldest one. She should have seeped a lot of its substance already, because it was the only echo at the time.”

It was as good a strategy as anything, so Mira looked around, trying to find the right echo. She tried to focus on locating the oldest one, but she couldn’t see it through all the stronger and brighter layers. And she kept seeing Spartacus’ aura getting more and more disconnected. She was momentarily overcome with panic, until Chadara pressed her fingers encouragingly.

She wasn’t alone. She had Chadara at her back, she could See properly for the first time, and Spartacus was counting on her. She’d done this so many times before, without even seeing what she was Vanquishing. She could do this.

She closed her eyes, which apparently didn’t really change her seeing the echos, fuck, and focused on her power. Once she had her power pinned down, she noticed the thin thread of warmth growing out of it. She wondered at it for a second, but then focused on her own emotions, singled them out, and pushed them away, just like Spartacus had taught her. The thread pulsed, but the connection remained, and Mira sighed in relief. With her own emotions out of the way, the layers seemed a little more obvious, and it took her only a couple of seconds to feel out the emotions belonging together. When she pushed those away, the underlying layers became even more discernable.

Finally, she made it to the bottom one, a frail thin little thing, grayish blue. There were still remnants of fear and despair, but mostly Mira felt sadness. She focused for a second, and then pushed her power out.

She expected her usual flare, but instead it looked like lightning connecting, hitting the echo in all the places where it was still strongly connected to this world. It didn’t even take that much of her power.

The woman grunted, and Spartacus stopped screaming.

“It won’t matter,” the woman yelled, “that was only a weak one, I’d already taken most of it. And once I take this one, you won’t be able to stop me.” The woman laughed, and Spartacus started to scream again.

“We need to hurry,” Chadara said into her back and pressed closer. The connection burned. An echo brightened.

 


 

She tried to guide Mira as well as she could, even though it was hard to make sense of the connection and how it worked exactly. She focused on the oldest echoes, but when that didn’t seem to help, she rifled through them slowly, focussing and dismissing each top layer, on the rhythm of Mira’s heartbeat.

Once they had a grasp on the oldest echo, she focused on it, on all the little details on the scene unfurling, the expression on the victim's face, what he was wearing. She let herself feel his emotions, let herself see what he saw, all so the connection between them and the echo didn’t break. The tendrils of the madwoman pulled into one direction, they pulled in the other. Then, she felt Mira gathering her power, like gathering her breath.

Lightning struck, and Chadara felt it go through her and follow her connection. The echo disappeared, and Chadara simply took one steadying breath and moved on to the top layer again.

Once in a while, Spartacus moans would break into her focus, and she couldn’t look at him, out of fear she’d see his soul disconnect. She had left this madwoman run amok all this time, she couldn’t let her do this. Nobody deserved to suffer like this.

After sifting through and vanquishing at least twenty more echoes, they finally had only three echoes left. The woman had stopped her incessant laughing and was now aggressively pulling on the tendrils hooked into Spartacus’ soul, winding them up her arms. Pull by pull, Spartacus’ soul became more unhinged. Even though they’d diminished the madwoman’s power, she still had enough to keep going, and their own power was flagging. They’d used up so much already. Mira tried to vanquish another, and Chadara could feel her draining their combined power. There was a big bright flash, but no lightning impact and the echoes remained as they were. The madwoman cackled, and it gave Chadara chills.

“We need more power,” Chadara said. “She nearly has him.”

She looked at Spartacus again, squirming on the floor, mouth open in a soundless scream. If only she could pull back, like a horrid version of tug of war. She’d be doing the same as the madwoman. She felt Mira pulling on her powers again, and she knew it was no use. They needed more.

She stepped in front of Mira, ending their embrace, and she suddenly felt the chill of the room again. It was so cold, so terrifying. She grabbed Mira’s hand tighter, not letting her go at least there. She looked up at Mira’s pale and pretty face. She looked frightened, the dark circles back under her eyes. Chadara raised their joined hands and bumped Mira’s chin with her knuckles.

“Please forgive me if this doesn’t work,” she whispered, before reaching down, and grabbing Spartacus’ ankle with her free hand.

She thought she would have to reach or search for his soul, but his defenses were already brought down by the madwoman. She was immediately overwhelmed with screeching pain and fear, with an underlying current of rage she had never felt before. The connection with Mira trembled under it, was almost too frail to bear it all, and she felt Mira reaching for her.

She tightened her fingers and reached back, focussed on their connection and found the parts of Mira that were still reaching for Spartacus. For a second, she burned with jealousy, but it was pushed away by Spartacus reaching for Mira through her. Their power threaded and knotted into each other, forming a tight thread between them. Spartacus’ power was like a current streaming to Mira through her.

She felt her pull on it, like parched soil absorbing water. Spartacus’ soul ripped free from the blackened tendrils of the woman. Lightning struck, again and again, until the bright flashes were blinding her, and like that the last echo was vanquished.

The madwoman screamed in despair. Chadara succumbed to Spartacus’ rage.

 


 

The last lightning bolt hit, and Mira felt a weight lift from her shoulders. No more pain, no more despair, no more horror. The world was bright and beautiful, and warm. So warm. She felt... She felt happiness like she’d never felt before. She took a breath, to savor it, but then saw the madwoman move in the corner of her eye, pulling her hair.

Mira scrambled for the ritual knife, lying forgotten at the woman’s side. When she turned back, Spartacus was getting up, ignoring Chadara’s offered hand.

“Spartacus, are you alright?” Mira asked, trying to ignore the fact she could still see where his soul was frayed and disconnected. He ignored her, to look at Chadara with despicion and fury in his eyes.

“Let go,” he said through his teeth, voice rough from the screaming.

“I’m sorry,” Chadara said. “It was the only way to save you.”

“LET GO!” Spartacus yelled, and it was the first time Mira heard him raise his voice in anger. It was frightening.

Chadara looked at her, mouthed ‘I’m sorry’, and Mira felt the still-burning, warm connection break off. The layers of light and color disappeared, and Spartacus looked like himself again, no frays.

“I’ll go call the cops,” Chadara said and walked out of the warehouse.

Mira was alone again.



The woman was called Lucretia, a once-renowned Scryer, who went missing together with her partner and husband a couple of years ago. Apparently he’d died in some kind of accident, and Lucretia had snapped. She’d been traveling, feeding upon the power of her victims, until she committed a murder where a similar crime had already taken place, and discovered that she could let them feed on each other to feed her.

Mira had finished delivering her statement, although much of it seemed unreal, like it happened in a dream, now that she didn’t feel the connection anymore.

Spartacus brought her a coffee and offered his gratitude. They drank in familiar silence, but where it used to be comforting, now it just felt incomplete and uncomfortable. Like they didn’t quite fit.

“Was that how it used to be, with you and Sura?” She finally broke the silence.

Spartacus seemed to mull over his answer. “Similar, probably. Everyone is a different person, and we all fit together - or don’t fit,” he smirked at her. “We all fit different. No Scryer or Seer works exactly the same either. Even with Sura, I never shot lightning out of my fingertips.”

Mira couldn’t help but smile a bit, and straightened her shoulders. That had been awesome. Spartacus took another sip from his coffee.

“If you’re open to it, the longer you stay connected, the deeper they get entrenched, until they’re so interconnected with your being, you can’t really grasp where you begin and they end. It’s the best feeling in the world, but when that’s taken away from you, it’s the worst pain. And it doesn’t stop.”

Mira nodded, and bumped their shoulders in silent comfort. Spartacus took a deep breath.

“It’s all worth it, though. So I’m sorry I took the chance for a matching away from you.” He looked at her, earnest and guilty. He might have been all wrong for her, he was still one of the kindest men she’d ever met, and she still liked him. Even if they, as he put it, didn’t fit.

“You didn’t take anything away from me. Besides, I wouldn’t have trusted anybody else anyway.” She took a steadying breath as well. “But I am gonna stay, if Chadara is interested, and see if maybe we could be a match.”

Spartacus nodded, and wrapped her in a hug. Mira couldn't help but cling for a moment, smell his familiar soothing scent, feel his strength.

“Be careful with her,” he said. “She’s very powerful.”

Mira laughed. “So am I.”

 


 

Chadara was sitting on a bench, observing the chaos of a serial killer crime scene. She did that a lot, sit back and observe, but Mira figured that made sense if you could see so much more about people. She wondered what Chadara had known about her before they matched.

She slid aside a bit to make room, even if there was more than enough for her.

“So,” Chadara said. “Riding off with Mr. Handsome?”

She sounded neutral, but she felt sad. Lonely. Mira wondered if feeling living people’s emotions was part of her powers now, or if she only could with Chadara's.

“Nah, think I’m gonna stay here,” Mira said, reaching for Chadara’s hand. Chadara looked at her, really looked at her, and Mira tried to let all her hopes and desires show.

Chadara held her hand.

“I’m not kind,” she said. “But you make me want to be.”

Mira kissed her, and for a moment she thought she felt actual fireworks explode within her, like in one of those popular romance novels. But fuck it, she liked the feeling, and there was nothing silly about it.

Then the connection settled, to a simmering sort of warmth, swirling inside her and between them. She felt warm for the first time in years. She could get used to this, she thought, and pulled Chadara closer, to kiss her some more.