“It's not the face, but the expressions on it. It's not the voice, but what you say. It's not how you look in that body, but the thing you do with it. You are beautiful.”
“I, the soul called Wanderer, love you, human Ian. And that will never change, no matter what I might become.”
“Perhaps there could be no joy on this planet without an equal weight of pain to balance it out on some unknown scale.”
“I held you in my hands, Wanderer, and you were beautiful.”
“You never know how much time you'll have.”
“Eight full lives,” I whispered against his jaw, my voice breaking. “Eight full lives and I never found anyone I would stay on a planet for, anyone I would follow when they left. I never found a partner. Why now? Why you? You're not of my species. How can you be my partner?”
“It's a strange universe,” he murmured.
“It's not fair,” I complained, echoing Sunny's words. It wasn't fair. How could I find this, find love–now, in this eleventh hour–and have to leave it? Was it fair that my soul and body couldn't reconcile? Was it fair that I had to love Melanie, too? Was it fair that Ian would suffer? He deserved happiness if anyone did. Itwasn't fair or right or even…sane. How could I do this to him?
“I love you,” I whispered.
“Don't say that like you're saying goodbye.”
But I had to. “I, the soul called Wanderer, love you, human Ian. And that will never change, no matter what I might become.” I worded it carefully, so that there would be no lie in my voice.
“If I were a Dolphin or a Bear or a Flower, it wouldn't matter. I would always love you, always remember you. You will be my only partner.”
“You are the noblest, purest creature I've ever met. The universe will be a darker place without you," he whispered.”
“What was it that made this human love so much more desirable to me than the love of my own kind? Was it because it was exclusive and capricious? The souls offered love and acceptance to all. Did I crave a greater challenge?...Or was it simply better somehow? Because these humans hate with so much fury, was the other end of the spectrum that they could love with more heart and zeal and fire?”
“Her name is Wanda, not it. You will not touch her. Any mark you leave on her, I will double on your worthless hide.”
“Body and soul. Two different things”
“Perhaps without the lows, the highs could not be reached.”
“Fine,' Jared snapped. 'But if you try cuddling up to me tonight... so help me, O'Shea."
Ian chuckled. ' Not to sound overly arrogant, but to be perfectly honest, Jared, were I so inclined, I think I could do better.”
“It is a strange world," I murmered, more to myself than to the native soul.
"The strangest," he agreed.”
“It's real interesting to have a soul as a friend, and it makes me feel super special that I've managed it.”
“This place was truly the highest and the lowest of all worlds - the most beautiful senses, the most exquisite emotions.. the most malevolent desires, the darkest deeds. Perhaps it was meant to be so. Perhaps without the lows, the highs could not be reached.”
“Ian stood above me, his chest heaving with exertion and fury. For a second he turned away and put the door back in place with one swift wrench. And then he was glowering again.
I took a deep breath and rolled up onto my knees, holding my hands out, palms up, wishing that some magic would appear in them. Something I could give him, something I could say. But my hands were empty.
"You. Are. Not. Leaving. Me." His eyes blazed - burning brighter than I had ever seen them, blue fires.
"Ian," I whispered. "You have to see that... that I can't stay. You must se that."
"No!" he shouted at me.
I cringed back, and, abruptly, Ian crumpled forward, falling to his knees, falling into me. He buried his head in my stomach, and his arms locked around my waist. He was shaking, shaking hard, and loud, desperate sobs were breaking out of his chest.
"No, Ian, no," I begged. This was so much worse than his anger. "Don't, please. Please, don't."
"Wanda," he moaned.
"Ian, please. Don't feel this way. Don't. I'm so sorry. Please."
I was crying too, shaking too, though that might have been him shaking me.
"You can't leave."
"I have to, I have to," I sobbed.
And then we cried wordlessly for a long time.”
“You and I won't lose each other, I will always find you again. No matter how well you hide. I'm unstoppable.”
“If I was given the choice between having the world back and having you, I wouldn't be able to give you up. Not to save five billion lives.”
“Happy and sad, elated and miserable, secure and afraid, loved and denied, patient and angry, peaceful and wild, complete and empty...all of it. I would feel everything. It would all be mine.”
“Even if we all want you here, you don't belong until you decide you do.”
“I waited for him to say something more, but he was quiet.
"Was there something you wanted?" I asked.
He didn't answer right away, but I could feel him struggling, so I waited.
"If I asked you something, would you tell me the truth?"
It was my turn to hesitate. "I don't know everything," I hedged.
"You would know this. When we were walking... me and Jeb... he was telling me some things. Things he thought, but I don't know if he's right."
Melanie was suddenly very in my head.
Jamie's whisper was hard to hear, quieter than my breathing. "Uncle Jeb thinks that Melanie might still be alive. Inside there with you, I mean."
I said nothing to either of them.
"I didn't know that could happen. Does that happen?" His voice broke and I could hear that he was fighting tears. He was not a boy to cry, and here I'd grieved him this deeply twice in one day. A pain pierced through the general region of my chest.
"Does it, Wanda?"
"Why won't you answer me?" Jamie was really crying now but trying to muffle the sound.
I crawled off the bed, squeezing into the hard space between the mattress and the mat, and threw my arm over his shaking chest. I leaned my head against his hair and felt his tears, warm on my neck.
"Is Melanie still alive, Wanda? Please?"
He was probably a tool. The old man could have sent him just for this, Jeb was smart enough to see how easily Jamie broke through my defenses.
Jamie's body shook beside me.
Melanie cried. She battered ineffectually at my control.
But I couldn't blame this on Melanie if it turned out to be a huge mistake. I knew who was speaking now.
"She promised she would come back, didn't she?" I murmured. "Would Melanie break a promise to you?"
Jamie slid his arms around my waist and clung to me for a long time. After a few minutes, he whispered. "Love you, Mel."
"She loves you, too. She's so happy that you're here and safe."
He was silent long enough for the tears on my skin to dry, leaving a fine, salty dust behind.”
“I belong wherever I want to be.”
“Neither heaven nor hell can keep me apart from you, Melanie.”
“As I took another breath, I saw the three stars again. They were not calling to me; they were letting me go, leaving me to the black universe I had wandered for so many lifetimes. I drifted into the black, and it got brighter and brighter. It wasn't black at all - it was blue. Warm, vibrant, brilliant blue...I floated into it with no fear at all.”
“You may have taken the planet, but you will lose this game!”
“And then we jerked to a stop. Jared was blocking the exit. "Have you lost your mind, Ian?" he asked, shocked and outraged. "What are you doing to her?"
"Did you know about this?" Ian shouted back, shoving me toward Jared and shaking me at him.
"You're going to hurt her!"
"Do you know what she's planning?" Ian roared.
Jared stared at Ian, his face suddenly closed off. He didn't answer. That was answer enough for Ian.
Ian's fist struck Jared so fast that I missed the blow - I just felt the lurch in his body and saw Jared reel back into the dark hall.
"Ian, stop," I begged.
"You stop," he growled back at me.
He yanked me through the arch into the tunnel, then pulled me north. I had to almost run to keep up with his longer stride.
"O´Shea!" Jared shouted after us.
"I'm going to hurt her?" Ian roared back over his shoulder, not breaking pace. "I am? You hypocritical swine!"
There was nothing but silence and blackness behind us now. I stumbled in the dark, trying to keep up.
He jerked me along faster, and my breath caught in a moan, almost like a cry of pain.
The sound made Ian stumble to a stop. His breathing was hoarse in the darkness.
"Ian, Ian, I..." I chocked, unable to finish. I didn't know what to say, picturing his furious face.
His arms caught me abruptly, yanking my feet out from under me and then catching my shoulders before I could fall. He started running forward again, carrying me now. His hands were not rough and angry like before; he cradled me against his chest.”
“Sometimes things go wrong. You need to accept that. You need to know that you will be okay. You’re amazing and you can have an amazing life if you choose to live it.”
“Impatiently, I grip the offensive hand in mine. “If you do not want me to break your wrist with one squeeze of my hand, you will do two things immediately. First, you will remove your hand from my woman’s purse. Second, you will remove your hand from this shirt. It is attached to the body that belongs to the owner of the purse.”
“I have never even seen a witch, let alone felt the need to burn one to death. We can conclude, then, that our forefathers, equipped with the knowledge that supernatural explanations were reasonable, rounded up all the witches in existence and took care of them. The other possibility is that there are witches out there, hiding somewhere, plotting their revenge, liberally applying fireproofing compounds to themselves. And someday they may reappear and start causing trouble.”
“biology is usually called upon to justify a society based on selfish principles, but we should never forget that it has also produced the glue that holds communities together.”
“You’re staying here tomorrow.” I sit up and cross my arms. “Don’t even try it. I’m going.” “You can’t go with a fever.” “Why? Do the zombies have a rule that you have to be fever-free for twenty-four hours before you can visit?” “Jesus”
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