I stand on the edge of a cliff. Above, the sky is brilliant with stars, diamonds on velvet. Below, the waves pound on the golden sand, the sea a mirror that reflects the sky.
This place is not just the edge of a cliff. It is the very edge of the land, the sky, the sea.
Chase stands next to me, his arms encircling my waist. His expression is solemn, thoughtful. I wait patiently for his words; I know he will not share them until he wants to.
Finally, he speaks.
I have finally achieved my dream, he says. I nod.
You rule the world, have destroyed your enemies, and have the Xiaolin monks on your side. And, I add, feeling my lips curve into a smile. You brought me back.
He has more than that on his mind, I can sense that. What is it? I ask, feeling a pang of worry at his expression.
He looks at me, his golden eyes dark with shadows. His mouth is twisted in a frown, and his expression grows darker even as he watches me.
Do you love me?
It takes me a second to register the words that come from his lips. I am confused.
Yes, I reply, hoping he can hear the sincerity in my answer. I do.
What is love?
His question stuns me. I have no reply to it.
When you were dead, I thought of you every day, he continues, ignoring my pause, running a hand through my hair. I assumed that meant I loved you.
My blood goes cold; my body understands the situation more than my mind does.
Chase, I say, pleading. What are you trying to say?
He sighs and removes his hand from my hair. He takes a step back and I stare at him with confused eyes.
He looks back at me with an unfathomable expression, and I am afraid.
Eva, he says softly. When I drank the Lao Mang Lon soup fifteen hundred years ago, I did not just become immortal. I did not just gain power beyond imagining.
The tension in the air mounts. I am so very afraid to hear his next words. But I know the truth must be faced.
When I drank the Lao Mang Lon soup, I became less than human, he explains. I destroyed that which made me human.
What do you mean by that? I whisper.
I destroyed what allowed me to love as a human, my soul. I became no, I am inhuman.
You told me you loved me years ago, I say, shaking. Even after you became evil. Those of wicked hearts are capable of loving. I can honestly say I love you, for I do. Once again, that pleading note enters my voice. I hate it. Dont you love me Chase? Answer me!
His are gold pools, deep and enigmatic, and impossible to read. For the first time, I wonder what he has been doing for the past fifteen centuries.
I dont love you Eva, he says, almost apologetically. Im not capable of it. I remember loving you, a long time ago, yes. I think of you every day, yes. But I do not love you.
I inhale sharply, feel myself trembling. For the first time in a very long time, tears sting my eyes. I feel as if I am being viewed by a huge, dominating omnipresence. I am insignificant under its gaze. For the second time, I am losing him. Or perhaps, this is my punishment for not saving him from falling to evil. A world without him. My personal hell indeed.
From my birth, the gods have not been kind to me.
I did tell you before that I didnt love you anymore. He laughed darkly. I just didnt realize how true the words were. Until now.
Humor me, I beg pathetically. Just for one night. Just this one night. Pretend you love me, like you did before. Please.
He shakes his head, an unhappy and apologetic expression on his face, as if he truly were sorry. Im sorry Eva. I cant.
I close my eyes and feel a single tear run down my cheek. I love you Chase.
I know, he replies. And Im sorry. I am going to have to kill you.
My head snaps up, shock forming on my features. He grips my arms tightly with supernatural strength; I cannot move. I apologise, he says. You are going to die soon, and by my hand.
Why? I whisper. After everything you did to bring me back?
At the moment, your love is all that stops you from killing me where I stand, right now. I do not know how long it will take before your love changes to hatred. You are too much of a threat for me to allow you to stay alive. He pauses. I am sorry, but you are going to die for a second time.
Even then, I could have struck back. Killed him even. But my fate would not change; I would still be living without his warmth. Death would be welcome to this nightmare.
I look at him sadly. Softly, I reach out a hand and touch his face, tracing out the features I love so much.
I weep, quietly, but I do not mind this weakness. It does not matter now that I am about to lose him once again. Somehow, this strikes me as unfair. After fighting to stay alive for so long
And now I am just going to let him kill me.
He surprises me by kissing me, long and hard, his tongue deep.
This is the last time, he says in a whisper when he pulls away, his eyes suddenly cool and detached.
I love you.
He smiles, and for a moment, looks like the old Chase, the one I had grown to despise. The human Chase.
I know, he says.
Make it quick, I say through pale lips. I can feel the blood drain from my face.
He rips out my heart out of my chest. But he had stolen it a long time ago.
She dies in his arms once again.
Her lips were closed in a half-smile, but her expression was pined and tortured. He wiped the tears off her cheeks with a finger, and without thinking, put the finger to his mouth.
He closed his eyes, and a single tear slid down his face. He quickly brushed it away.
The wind picks up as Evas body stiffens.
Please. Remember me. It seems to whisper in her voice. For a brief moment, the wind feels like her fingers brushing his face.
I will, he says aloud. More than you will ever know.
The end. For real.