"Janie!" Cole yelped as he came to. His eyes cast around wildly, his breath coming in short, panicked wrasps. Everything was white, so clean it was spotless, emaculate. There was one window shining bright gold sunlight on his face.
"Hello, Mr. Wells," came a deep, sultry voice from someone veiled in the shadows near the corner of the window.
"Who's there?" he called out shakily. A bead of sweat rolled down the side of Cole's face. "Who are you?" he asked fearfully. He tested his bounds, they were at his wrists and ankles. A familiar smell he couldn't place blew around the room in the cold air wafting from the slightly open window. A tall woman with long, fiery curls and blue eyes emerged from the shadows, her heels clicking on the tile. She wore a loose-fitting, pink sleeveless top and black cut-offs. "Bout time you woke up, Cole," she said as she approached him.
"Where's Janie?" he pleaded.
The woman smiled. "You need not worry about her. I'm here, now," she said, keeping her sexy voice.
"Your little blue eyes are really pretty. In fact, I swear they change colors, from lights to darks." She sneered. "Pretty. Cry for me. I want to see what they look like."
Cole took in a sharp breath. "Stop it," he whispered.
"Oh, don't worry," she said, shaking her head and playing with his curls, "I know you want me."
"I love her!" he said carefully, so frustrated he pulled and forced his restraint to unsnap, freeing his arm farthest from her.
"Someone didn't have their post-nap juice, did they?" she asked mockingly, and pushed his chest back down with one hand, forcing his arm down with the other. After she re-fastened the clasp around his wrist, she said, smiling, "You will have me yet," and she licked the side of his face.
"If you hurt her, I'll kill you," he said through clenched teeth, breathing fast and hard.
Still bent over him, she said, "I can see that this Janie is very dear to you. That's very cute. But you and I both know that's not why you broke that." She winked, over-exaggerating and obvious.
"I love her!" he snarled with such raw emotion.
The woman giggled softly as she walked around behind Cole, and bent back. "Yes. And she'll be dead soon. Then you'll have to settle for me," she whispered, kissing his temple.
"I don't want you!"
She kissed him again. "You will. Sleep now, my pet, I have greater tasks ahead for you." And she discreetly injected a sedative into his neck. He blinked, the room spinning, his eyelids growing heavier by the second.
"Sleep," she insisted, kissing his shoulder. And everything faded out, even to his relief, her terrible icy laugh.
Jade's face was etched with pain. She tossed and turned, restless in the night. She had made it home the last night after waking up in an alley with a massive migrane. She bolted upright, her fingers tightened around both pillows and fell over, clear off the bed, and landing smoothly on the carpet. She cried out, painful nightmares and illusions entering her mind, convincing their truth. Once more, she saw Cole being shot in the forehead, his body falling with a sick smack on the pavement. She knelt down beside him, sobbing as his once beautifully blue eyes filled with blood. Jade screamed, blinking back tears and seeing red. She stopped fighting, and snatched Cole's pillow. She let herself rock against the wall, her arms around his pillow pressed against her face. "Come back, come back, come back," she chanted softly, breathing in his scent. "I love you, please, please come back!" she sobbed into it.
"This little piggy went to market," Vanessa said, grabbing Cole's big toe and wiggling it. "This little piggy stayed home."
"Knock it off," Cole said in a warning tone.
"This little piggy had roast beef," she said, and gently kissed his middle toe. He tried to shake her off by kicking his toes. She held on, even gripped his ankle clad in his only Armani black pants. "Cole, relax, baby," she said, her voice soothing. Weakened again, he stayed motionless and silent.
"This little piggy had none." She smiled. "Good boy, Cole, very good," she said as he kept quiet. "And this little piggy," she wiggled his baby toe, "cried 'wee, wee, I want some!' all the way home!"
She stood up straight and pouted as she walked around the cold steel table, finally reaching the end that he could see her better. "You need to be more cooperative, Cole. What can I do to make it better for you, baby?"
He stared at her, breathing in through his mouth heavily. "I want Janie. And quit calling me that."
Hardy pursed her lips. "I thought I told you that she's not here. I'm here, now."
"No one can replace her. Not her. Not ever," he growled.
She traced her finger around and around on his chest lightly, barely there. Cole gritted his teeth. A cell phone rang out. "Excuse me, baby," she said. After listening for a moment, she smirked evilishly. "So it worked?" she paused, listening for more. "Yes, yes! Bring her in, there's someone here who would love to see her."
She flipped her phone shut and started playing with Cole's curls again. "You little Janie is coming, Cole."
His breath quickened. "She is?"
"Oh yes. But she is very sick. Very feverish. And delusional. Very sick," she repeated.
The metal door creaked open and Hardy stepped in, her arm around Jade. "Come on, Janie," she said in a singsong voice. Vanessa's red hair was pinned up in a ponytail, curls cascading down the back of her neck. She wore a navy blue shirt that said 'I have Issues' in pink letters and long blue jeans. Jade was wearing the same outfit he last saw her in: a periwinkle sleeveless sundress. Cole's lips trembled as he looked her up and down. Her clothes were tattered, dirty, and soaken wet from the rain outside. There were several scratch marks on her face and arms where her shirt was ripped, and her eyes were red and rimmed with overflowing tears spilling on to her cheeks.
She didn't seem to hear him, just kept muttering odd things in English and then alternating to French. Hardy's brows furrowed as she stared. She soon snapped out of her reverie and called, "Janie," attempting to capture Jade's attention. It didn't work, so she grapsed her chin tightly and turned her to face her. Jade's eyes still remained blank, gray spheres. "How ever did you get so goofy?" Hardy asked, raising an eyebrow.
Jade ducked down, freeing herself from Hardy and popped up her head and leaned it on Cole's chest. "Goofy! Goofy, goofy, goooofy!" she exclaimed, smiling wide. She raised her hand and placed it on his wrist. Intrigued, she felt blindly with it, and he grabbed her hand, grasping it tightly in his own, even as she tugged it back. Her face fell dramatically, and the tears returned. Her hair dripped rain on Cole, and everything else she touched. Despite the water, Cole held fast onto her hand, and whispered, "Janie, Janie, it's going to be okay."
She stood shakily and pulled at her hand again. "Nonono, sweetie, come on," he said trying to make her feel better. Hardy watched, satisfaction chiseled in her eyes; invisible to the couple. Jade took her other hand and found Cole's restraints. Thinking it was what held her back, she unfastened it. Hardy sneaked around and unfastened the bounds around his ankles. Cole let go of her and snapped his last restraining bound. Jade ran to a corner and he followed, wrapping his arms around her, his heart aching. "Janie, Janie!" he said, trying to be gentle with her. She finally stopped fighting and stayed still, letting him hold her. She felt so small, so fragile, yet already broken. "I love you." She shook her head, leaning on him. "Janie, I love you, so much!" he whispered insistently.
"No! I want Cole! Cole, please come back, come back, back, please!" she sobbed into his chest.
Cole turned, Jade still in his arms, hate boiling in his veins. "What did you do to her?" he shouted at Hardy. She erupted with anger. "Nothing!" she yelled, "I was called when she was found! They found her like this, in the back of some French restaurant!"
"I want to go home!" Jade said, wiping her eyes. He turned back to her, staring into her beautifully gray, kaleidoscope, cut-glass eyes. So much pain radiated from them, he couldn't bear to look more. "We will go home, baby, don't worry. I'm going to get us out of here," he said, kissing her forehead.
"Cole wasn't there, he wasn't there; I want Cole, please, I love him!" she cried.
Cole was beyond concerned. He stroked her wet hair. "I am right here, baby," he said as a tear rolled down his cheek, "right here."
Cole looked around the room, letting her cry. Hardy was sitting on the thick window sill, the door closed and shut tight. She laughed at them, clearly amused. "So. Now he cries. Just for her. Ass." Her remark was ignored. Suddenly, the door was thrown open, and two men similar to the ones who had ambushed them the other night walked in and headed straight for them.
"What are you doing?"
They took her, but Cole held on. Hardy hurried toward them and slammed his head into the wall, and injected him with another sedative. Pain exploded all around, and his grip loosened.
"Noo," he moaned.
"Put her back where you found her, she'll just go home again. Hurry back," he heard the enemy say.
"I want Cooooole!" Jade shouted, still crying, but there was nothing he could do for her; blackness had overcame him once again.
Cole lay, sprawled on the cold, hard floor. A silver crescent moon shone through the window, illuminating his tired features. Hardy sat, her legs crossed Indian-style and leaning her head in the very corner Cole held Jade. She looked as if she were meditating. "You know, Cole," she said, opening her eyes and lifting her head, "I think I've been going about this thing in all the wrong ways."
She reached behind her head and took her hair tie out; and, shaking her head, her red curls came in place to frame her face. She brought her knees up and crawled over a few feet to Cole. She laid her chest on his stomach as she stared off into space.
"Get off of me," came Cole's strained voice. She sighed and put pressure from her elbows on to him as she got up. He gasped in pain. He tried to turn onto his side, but couldn't. Hardy stared down at him in wonder, her sea-colored eyes turning slightly lighter as she moved into the light to see him better.
"I'll go get it," she said, tracing her fingers on his lips. "I think you're going to like this one," she added, a spark of cruelty in her eyes. He shuddered again, closing his eyes in hopelessness. He heard her footsteps die away, and opened them again.
"At least she hasn't reached the point of sadomasochism yet," he muttered.
"Hey, Cole," the wretched woman he mentally referred to as "Slutfuck" sang out. She skipped happily to him. "This'll help muchly."
He tried to sidle away from her, but she grabbed his wrist and slammed it on the floor. He grunted, and his eyes grew wide as she brought out a needle hidden behind her back. She gently set it down on the floor and tapped the inside of his elbow. "Don't!" he shouted, but she snatched the needle back in her hands. Her skin was bathed in the moonlight; she looked like a sick lunatic. She knelt her face down and spied his vein. Cole wriggled his arm as much as he could, but to no avail. She stuck the needle in his arm, and pressed the syringe down, injecting the dark blue liquid into him. A burning sensation erupted in him, and every muscle in his body tightened.
"Chill, it's not like it's an aphrodesiac or anything." She narrowed her eyes and grinned. "But that is a good idea!"
Hardy mopped sweat from his forehead with her fingers and squeezed his bicepts. He didn't move for fear that everything would hurt even worse. "The more you resist, the more pain you'll feel," she said; and then, narrowing her eyes again, "The more pain Janie will feel."
Cole mustered up the strength to turn his head. "Leave her out of this. She's never done anything. To anyone."
Hardy snorted lightly. "C'mon, Cole. It's always about her. She is the key to you, you are the key to her."
His face darkened. "If you hurt her--"
"I'm not going to at all," she interrupted. "You will. That blue inky stuff is a kind of poison." She squinted thoughtfully.
She grabbed Cole by the shoulders and dragged him into the corner slowly, and sat him up. "Clever little vial of junk, eh? See, it works like this: you get infected, it messes with your head, and I can just totally sway you. Then, you do as I ask, and neither you or her are my problem anymore."
He leaned forward and viciously spat, "I won't let you make me hurt her!"
She raised an eyebrow. "Silverlining: It's not like you'll be able to help it. Your mind will betray you. Kinda like hers did. Except her main programming was hallucinations, totally different thing than what we're dealing with. Apparently, she saw something a tad bit traumatizing."
Despite his extreme pain, he leaped forward, his hands around her neck. "I won't hurt her!" he yelled at her. Her hands flew to his wrists, and she tried to pry his fingers from her. He sat on top of her, continuing to strangle her. Her eyesight started to dim, and she dropped her hands to the floor. She blinked, hard, letting her watering eyes drain. Then she threw both her fists at Cole's face, right in the forehead. He cried out and released her, clutching his throbbing head.
"You asshole!" she screamed hoarsly, coughing.
Cole fell to the side, collapsing in a heap. He turned over, breathing heavily, and passed out again.
Cole unconsciously drifted into a white area. He lay on the soft, blanket-like floor. It consisted of white cloths, millions of them somehow together and shredded. Sparkling golden and silver partles of glitter clung to the pillowy floor, looking like the essence of magic. Vanilla scented candles sat on shelves projecting from the walls, their lights dancing and flickering on the beige walls in front and behind them. Everything was warm and fuzzy, and blissfully wonderful.
"Cole!" a happy voice rang out, echoing in his ears. Cole sat up and turned around quickly, hoping against hope. Jade smiled, a glow radiating from her being. She was wearing a beautiful white gown and her hair curled to perfection hung down, framing her face in ringlets. She stood atop a staircase. It was also covered in cloths and glitter, yet the risers facing him peeked out under the cloths hanging down. On the risers, silver circles reflected the dancing flames from the candles and cast silvery circles in the dim room, such as a disco ball would. Candles were also perched on the side edges of the stairs, alighting a path. He ran to her, glitter flying in his wake. After leaping over the last two steps, he pulled her into his arms and spun her around.
He set her down gently and kissed her forehead as she laughed. A dark thought occured to him and he stared at her, worried. "Are you okay? Did she hurt you again?"
She reached up and brushed aside a stray lock of his dark hair. "I'm fine, baby, everything's all right," she said, her smile still intact. "I was seeing all these awful things for a bit, but I am better now," she reassured him, holding her hand on the side of his head. He let her support his head, and turned ever so slightly to kiss her hand. Her eyes grew a little wider and she slid it down his chest and took his hand in hers. As she started making her way down the slowly sloping and gently curving staircase, she pulled him with her. She dropped his hand and broke into a run. Cole watched her go, a content smile on his face as she started whirling around. He caught up to her and bent a little, picking her up and cradling her like a child. He began spinning, around and around, her laughter music to his ears. The candles all dimmed, and the room became a blur. All he could see in the mix was Jade's face, her blue ash-in-gray eyes big and bright. Time slowed and events from when they were together years before flashed through his head.
It was a warm summer evening, the streetlamps hand just been turned on. Cole was doing tricks on his skateboard and watching to see if Jade liked them. As he studied her features, a light wave of heat passed through him. He felt it everywhere: his legs, his chest, his arms, his face. He turned, his board focused on the pavement beside her, and he spun around, earning himself a grin.
Another flash, and he was kissing her in the park. The wind blew red, brown, and yellow leaves on them, an abundance of red settling on their shoes. Jade broke away and put her arms around his middle, leaning her head on the side of his chest. He put his arms around her. "I love you, Cole," she whispered.
Another flash, and they were getting their picture taken at Homecoming. Cole was wearing a traditional black tux, Jade was clad in a medium lavendar, her hair lighter and up in curls.
Another flash, and he was tearing after her in the street.
And then Jade stretched up and kissed him on the cheek. Coming back to his senses, he stopped. Jade whipped her legs from his grasp and jumped up, tackling him. They fell to the padded floor in a heap. She laid on him, letting her dizziness subside as he did the same. She sat up, her curls falling in her eyes. Cole lazily sat up as well, and kissed the top of her head. She situated her legs, so she was on her knees. She began kissing him, over and over on his neck, and the heated sensation he felt since he arrived intensified. Her fang teeth grew and sharpened, sinking into his neck in the middle of her kiss. As his blood drained, he could feel her hunger. Dizzy with passion, he let her drink him, his body frozen in a paralyzed state. And then it was over. She slightly lifted her head from his neck and licked the trail of red trickling down his chest. Without realizing it, Cole had wrapped his arms around her waist and was kissing her. His eyes closed, the taste of his own blood in his mouth. After a moment, she opened her eyes and her irises glowed red. She raised an almost timid finger between their chins and gently pushed him away. He swayed a little, but righted himself. With the back of her hand she had brought up, she wiped sloppy blood from her chin.
"You should have listened to me years ago," she said, with a hint of regret in her voice, and her eyes downcast. Cole stayed silent. "I told you I was a monster, Cole, I told you. How could you not believe me? Now look what I did to you!"
Thinking it all unreal, he leaned forward and hugged her. "I can't love you anymore, Cole," she whispered, "I tried so hard, for so long. Lust is only just. And I couldn't anymore."
"Why would you stay so long, then?"
Her face scrunched up and she grabbed him by the shoulders and threw him away from her. With a boneshattering slap, he landed on the white stairs; all the lights on the side levels flickered. "I tried!" she hollered. "You'll never know how hard I tried," she spat, her anger mounting. "Back before, when everything was great, I loved you. I loved you so much, Cole. I stayed because I owed you for that. I owed you the happiness you gave me. You would never understand. Never. I would give.. anything to feel that way again," her voice died down, "But I can't."
"They took it from me. I can't love. I can't feel it at all."
Cole shook his head, and she glared at him. She rose to her feet and walked slowly, deliberately, powerfully towards him and sat on the stairs beside him. "I'm sorry for everything I've cost you, if there were any way, you know I'd do it in a heartbeat."
She looked in his disoriented eyes and in her own reflected distrust and pain. "I can tell you don't believe me. Still." She took his palm and held it against her breast, then gradually slid it up her chest, pausing at the place her heart should be. A whole two minutes had gone by in silence. Finally, Cole's intake of breath sharpened. "How-how can that be?" he stuttered.
"I told you," she said somberly as she rose. She walked up the gentle stairs and turned around. "I give in," she said, staring at his back. "Again. Tonight, I am going to do whatever I feel like with you." She smiled devilishly and said, "Come to me."
Upon her command, Cole's legs went stiff, and he stood up and turned her way. He couldn't stop, he fought against his body, against his thoughts, but even so, mad love replaced everything else, conditionally. And he ran to the most beautiful woman in the world, against his better judgement, he wanted to do everything in his power to make her happy, and once his lips reached hers, he felt the rest of him sift away like sand through clutching fingers.