The concert is horrifying. Somewhere under the glow and the white eyes and the stillness of her face, Vanya is screaming.
Her suit turns white and her skin burns where the cloth touches her. Her glow gets brighter, brighter, her notes coming faster, and Vanya isn’t in control of her hands. She’s never been so connected to the music and yet so adrift before. It’s like there’s someone else steering her body.
The violin turns white.
The power courses through her veins and no matter what she tries Vanya cannot escape it. She can feel it throbbing in her temples, surging to her fingertips, threading its way through her music.
All she ever wanted- attention, powers, her music- it tastes like ash in her mouth.
She can feel them coming, knows they are here in that way she always had. Their presences are pushing at the edges of her mind; they should have been warm, comforting, familial. But all they ever were was cold and judgmental and suffocating. The power inside snarls at her family and Vanya wants to cry.
She always knows when they are near; they’ve never realized when she was gone. They probably don’t understand even now, how far gone she really is. Vanya doesn’t know who it is that’s making this music, but it’s not her. It’s the white violin, guiding her hands, it’s her child self screaming for vengeance, it’s Leonard’s insidious voice twisting her lips into a smirk.
Now everyone can see her but it’s not her and Vanya wishes she’d never set foot in this concert hall.
All eyes on me- let the show begin.
Her light is blinding now, the music coming faster and faster. The notes sweep her consciousness away and Vanya falls into their roiling depths, drowning. Her vision tunnels, her hearing is muffled as if by cotton in her ears. Vanya is- Vanya is falling deep, deep down inside a well which opened in her chest. She can’t see the bottom. The melody flows around her, fills her mouth when she tries to scream, flooding her lungs, smothers her gasps for help.
And the white violin plays on.
And oh, she tries, she tries- she grasps for anything, anyone who will help her drag herself back. She thinks of Five and his return, of Klaus and his fearful, dilated eyes, of Ben, sweet Ben gone forever, of Diego and his little smirk of pride when he hit a bullseye for the first time when they were six, of Luther who only ever wanted to save the world even at the expense of those he was supposed to protect. She thinks of Allison, Allison, Allison who is staring at her with something too much like pride. Vanya screams for her sister and her music muffles it.
In another life, Vanya pulls herself together enough to complete the herculean task of dropping her bow from numb fingers. In another life, she smashes her own violin at her feet and the impact shatters the weapon into so many wooden splinters. In another life, the powers, the glow, the voice of her younger self, fade to the back of Vanya’s mind, and she collapses, grief-stricken but triumphant, into Allison’s arms.
Except this isn’t any other life. And Vanya does not do any of that.
She watches, as helpless and silent as she made her own sister, as her brothers prepare for an attack Vanya knows will be futile. She tries to call out and warn them, but she can’t push the words passed twitching lips which aren’t her own.
You’re nothing. You are worthless.
Maybe she is. She’d wished for powers, for her time in the spotlight, for the recognition of her family all her life, and now she has it Vanya can’t even get it right.
Fear clouds her thoughts and if this body were still hers her throat would constrict, her eyes would water, her muscles would lock. But the body’s arms are loose and limber, the knees bend and sway, the hair lifts in an unnatural breeze. Somewhere inside, Vanya is locked away just like Sir Reginald always wanted.
Vanya is going to watch a stranger with her own face kill her family and smile all the while.
I always wanted to be a hero.
People with powers save other people. Leonard had told her something like that once- before she knew he was Harold, before she knew he was vile. She wishes her skin would crawl at just the thought of him, but the body is calm and serene and no goosepimples rise.
But Leonard- Harold, Harold Jenkins, he’s a murderer and you killed him, what have you done? - was right about heroes.
They don’t hurt people. They save them.
But at what cost, she’d asked him then. She’d thought she’d understood then, what it cost to save the world, to be special.
Now she knew.
The well inside is deep and dark and Vanya just wants to rest. It would be so easy to curl up in this cold darkness and let the white violin play her song to say goodbye. It would be so easy to spread her hands. You guys were the heroes back in the day- you figure it out.
If they want to kill her, then by all means, kill her. Vanya honestly could not give less of a shit anymore. Literally- the violin stole that ability from her almost as soon as she collected it from the cold, dead clutches of Sir Reginald and Harold Jenkins alike. The violin covered her eyes with milky white and used her own young voice to spin the wool to yank over her head and the violin pushed her deep, deep down into this well of darkness and the violin muffled all the rest of the world until all that was left was the music.
Now she doesn’t even have that. But heroes save people. And no one has ever saved her brothers and sister, even when they so desperately, obviously need it.
If there was anything Vanya’d always wanted more than to be special, it was the ability to save her family.
So Vanya catches the tune inside of her, pulls the glow down, shrouds herself in the darkness instead of letting it suffocate her. She threads the melody through her fingers and claws her way out of the deep.
The violin shudders, tries to force her back. It would be so easy to let go of the music, let the violin twist her out of shape, stuff her down in a cage somewhere no one else could ever find her. It might even be peaceful there.
But Allison is looking at her, her brothers are looking at her, and Vanya can see them.
Vanya can save them. It would cost so very little.
Vanya looks at her sister’s wide, terrified eyes and smiles.
Tell me you’re not threatened now.
She can fix this. She knows she can fix this.
She can be the hero her family needs her to be. Just this once.
Vanya smiles at her sister, raises her bow to her own throat, and draws a crisp G sharp across her jugular.
The white violin parts from her unfeeling hands and Vanya has never been happier as she falls to the stage.
Things get hazy for a while; all she can feel is the warmth and wet at the base of her neck, cascading down her front. The floor beneath her vibrates, as if thousands of feet are stampeding by her, but the wind dies down and the light from her skin must be dimming because that overwhelming, cloying darkness is back. It’s almost enough to let her breathe easy again.
She’s lying in a pool of the same sticky, fast-cooling liquid when she opens her eyes again. Through the beautiful, domed glass ceiling of the concert hall Vanya can see the full moon. It shines just a brightly as she did, up there all alone.
Things are moving at the edges of her vision, but that moon, that ethereal, intact, glorious moon, it stares right into her, down that well Vanya was trapped in. It sees her. It sees her.
Vanya clings to the moon and lets it buoy her on an ocean of her own blood.
Then the moon’s symphony in her mind is interrupted by curls and concern and tears and oh . That’s Allison. That’s her sister.
“Va- no, oh God- don’t mov-”
“Christ! Keep her on her ba- nee- -op the blood flow-”
She wonders if the blood has reached her ear now, pouring in so she can’t hear. The moon winks at her, and her heart settles.
I did it, she wants to tell the soft brown eyes which appear above her. They block out the moon, but that’s alright because Vanya will be there soon. It will all be alright.
The stage is empty; she doesn’t have to see to know. Everyone is safe from her.
“Vanya- stay wi-”
“Oh- oh- she’s losing too mu-”
“ Move! I ca - ee- how bad it i-”
I did it , she says to Allison, and grins. Something warm dribbles from her lips to her chin. It’s probably ruining the pristine white of her suit. I saved you.
In another life, she is again collapsed into her sister’s arms, sobbing apologies and wondering if they will kill her still. In another life, Allison is hugging her, Klaus is cooing, Five is sniping at men in combat gear and gas masks, Ben is glowing and blue and here . In another life, Luther throws a woman in a suit across the stage and Diego knives a man in the back before he can even touch Vanya. In another life, silence falls and she is crying in her sister’s arms and the apocalypse doesn’t happen. In another life they end up in the parking lot of a burned out Griddy’s, clutching a thermos of stale coffee Diego digs out from underneath a car seat. In another life, Vanya falls asleep against someone’s shoulder, with someone else’s hand in hers and someone else’s fingers carding through her hair and more than one someone else singing along (badly) to the radio at two in the morning.
“Not you too, Vanya, please, not after Ben-”
(In yet another life, it is too late, and her brother wreaths them all in blue, crackling energy so they can narrowly avoid chunks of moon crashing into the concert hall.)
But in this life, something wet hits her forehead, her cheek, and Vanya opens her mouth to tell her sister to stop crying only there’s someone making this awful gurgling noise somewhere very far away that’s very distracting.
“Stay, stay, I’m sorry just stay- ”
Someone is holding her hand; she can’t actually feel it, per se, but she can flick her eyes down far enough to make out bitten nails and tattoos.
I won’t haunt you, she promises Klaus, but he won’t stop cradling her hand to his heaving chest.
There’s a face beside Allison’s now; wrinkled brow, pursed lips, a nick in the eyebrow. Diego has had his gloved palms pressed to her throat for a while now, probably. Vanya can’t tell- how long has it been? Minutes? Hours?
“I’ve got you. I’ve got you. Don’t give up on us now, you hear me?”
It doesn’t matter, Vanya tells him. It’s okay. I saved you.
Her brother’s face crumples but his hands don’t fall away. She wishes he wasn’t so stubborn.
Now everything is blurry, and not just at the edges. She can’t quite make out the moon behind Allison, can’t see the pupils of her sister or brother’s eyes. Another face joins on the other side of the blonde-red-brown- blob which used to be her sister, and only the navy and red of their familiar uniform tells Vanya it is Five.
It’s over, Five. You’re safe. You’re safe from me.
I’m the hero now Luther. I did what it took to save the world- aren’t you proud of me?
The light is so weak now; maybe the stage lights have been shut off? She doesn’t know. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that her family is safe. They’re safe. She saved them.
The darkness is closing in again, but it doesn't drag her down like an anchor underwater this time. It’s a blanket, warm and comforting against the tacky, wet substance covering Vanya’s face and hands and arms and torso. It’s nice. Soothing, even. She is so very tired.
She’s done it- she’s saved the world. It wouldn’t be so bad, now, if she rested, would it?
Vanya closes her eyes against her sister’s beloved, unseen face, and smiles as she slips into sleep.