Author's Note- This story contains mild language and implies disturbing content.
It's been a bit over a year since the game I wrote this for concluded. Spector was one of my favorite characters ever and the game she was in remains one of my favorites. There are going to be things here that don't make sense without context. Still, I enjoyed writing this and rediscovering it brought back poignant, powerful memories. Not to toot my own horn but I think this is a decent piece of writing. I hope those who read enjoy. Comments are welcome.
Spector winced as she knelt by the bed she would never sleep in again. Every part of her body hurt and she bit her lip to stop herself from crying out as she reached under the frame to pull out the box she’d tucked there. Slowly, carefully, she lifted it. The contents were very precious. Sweat beaded on her brow from the effort as she shuffled towards Josie’s bed. She knew the Spookhouse very well so it was no trouble to navigate her way through it even in the darkness to where her sister slept.
She gently set the box down. It was so heavy. There was an envelope with Josie’s name on it attached to the top. The woman remained standing there, staring down at the sleeping form. She bit her lip again, a tremor running through her body. It was the last time she’d see her sister, the last time she’d touch her. JoJo looked so peaceful. If it weren’t for the scars, you could almost believe nothing had ever happened to her.
She lightly rested the fingertips of her uninjured hand against Josie’s cheek, a featherlight touch. They trailed across the scars. For a moment, the two figures were illuminated by a soft glow coming from the marks that had been carved into their flesh. Her vision blurred with tears she refused to let fall. No more tears, he hated it when she cried. But knowing that she couldn’t give Josie a final embrace or say good-bye, knowing that she was sending her on to an uncertain fate, knowing that she couldn’t be there for her… Could anything hurt as much as this? Burn with me Spector…
Stubbornly she blinked. She wanted the last sight of her sister and the place she’d built for herself to be clear. She stood there for one minute. That was all she allowed herself. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… so still, so peaceful. Her shoulders sank as she turned away from Josie and headed towards what served as the front door, closing it behind her as she left everything, including the gloves and the mask behind. Left everyone behind.
She didn’t let herself look back. She couldn’t. She had to keep moving. Each painful movement of the muscles in her damaged legs carried her farther away. No one noticed the hunched figure moving away from the buildings and all the people in them. Her time was running out. There was none left for good-byes or regret. She couldn’t let herself think about—
Her mind calculated exactly how far she was from Redemption. How close she was to the Conflagration. Registered each step and every heartbeat that made the burn on her hand throb. She didn’t stop. It wouldn’t have mattered if she had. Awesome-- adjective, so impressive or overwhelming as to inspire a strong feeling of admiration or fear. Yes, that was the Conflagration. Even the diamond part of her couldn’t quantify it. There was no way something like it could be quantified. A wall of smoke and flame dominated the horizon and was moving closer. So was she. How many steps was that? Oh, right. How many were left? Oh-- right…
A human figure—masculine-- stepped out of, or through, the fire and moved towards her quickly. Spector stopped and waited, watching with wide eyes. Everything in her body went tight as he grew closer. She knew who it was already. Her knees went weak but she remained upright, as still and small and fragile as a figurine in the face of what was coming towards her.
If she tried to run, he’d be able to catch up with her. He was so much stronger than she was; he always had been. Too much, it was too much after everything she’d been through. She’d sacrificed so much and never once complained. What was happening to her, what was going to happen to her, was so unfair. Everything in her screamed in remembered agony, fresh horror and grief, screamed at her to get away. Life wasn’t about fairness though. It was about survival. And this, this last sacrifice meant the survival of 200 other people including her sister. She knew what she had to do. She always did eventually. Broken, hurting, exhausted as she was and had been for years, she was going to have to find the strength to not run. To do this.
“I see you kept your promise.” The words thundered in her head, each syllable shattering a piece of her. There was almost nothing left anymore. He is here… He didn’t look like he’d aged much since she had seen him last. Spector’s mind almost idly analyzed and catalogued the changes in his features, his height, estimated his weight, the distance between them.
“I always do.” The words tasted bitter on her tongue but she was able to speak them. JoJo… No, she didn’t always keep her promises. She’d promised that she wouldn’t let anything happen to her sister. It hadn’t until she’d left. She’d promised that she’d try whatever solution Josie came up with. Here she was. She was going to miss her so much… Spider too…
She’d known the moment the Flame entered her that it would consume her. She’d known that her offer would be accepted. Nothing else would have worked to insure the engine would fulfill its purpose. It was her magnum opus. Full understanding of what her end of the promise meant had been slowly, so slowly sinking in. Now it hit her, full-force. Nonononononononono… Burn with me, Spector…
Spector made herself focus on his face. Not his hands, she couldn’t bear to look at them. They had worked miracles. Then-- it hurts so much, why are you doing this, what do you want from me, please… “I just want to know one thing. What happened? What happened to you? What happened to the brilliant, vivacious man that I adored?” Her voice cracked; her throat was so tight and her mouth was so dry. Please, Poppa…
Tears pooled in her eyes again. She took a breath. No tears, he hated them. They had never once made him falter. They would certainly not have that effect now. They were not going to make this any easier. There was nothing that could. “Obsession. That’s what happened, Gemma. I thought I could change the world and I could sacrifice everything to make it happen. And I did. And I failed. But you didn’t. So maybe it wasn’t a failure.”
There it was. That was it. Not an injury, not the Conflagration. The answer was so simple and yet so complex. Spector understood. The same seed that had taken root and sprouted into something that had consumed him was there in her. A very particular kind of madness that came with a particular kind of brilliance and way of viewing the world. Of viewing people. She was his daughter. There had never been any doubt.
“No, Poppa. It wasn’t. I loved you so much. I still do, despite everything you did to me. I wish I could have fixed you.” He was broken, just like her. There was no fixing him. There was no fixing this. There was no fixing her. The tears could not be stopped any longer. Even the diamond part of her couldn’t prevent them from flowing down her cheeks. They dried quickly. The Conflagration seemed so close now. The buzz in her head was a roar that couldn’t drown out his laugh. The sound made the diamond part of her start to break.
“Come, let’s dry those tears.” He grinned. The expression was so familiar. Her stomach roiled. The last thing she wanted do was get closer to him, to let him take her hand. It was one of the hardest things she’d ever had to do. It burned.
“Together forever, just like you always wanted. Just like you said.” He didn’t say anything. She didn't say anything else either as they began to walk towards the Conflagration. Spector’s mind worked rapidly, sorting out the change in temperature and barometric pressure, the moisture content in the air. How many steps and how much longer it would take to reach it.
Three more people emerged from the Conflagration. Her father stopped. So did she. They both recognized the one in the middle. Caspian… Her skin was dry and tight, lips already cracking from the heat. But it was the pressure in her chest that hurt most. For a moment she forgot about the man standing next to her and the touch of his hand. Would she have a chance to say good-bye to her brother? Would he give her that much at least?
“Get the fuck away from her. You’ve done enough, you piece of shit.”
“The lady’s with us.” Her father grabbed her even tighter. It hurts, Poppa, make it stop, please, I can’t, I’m not ready, I can’t, stop, please, stop, NO!
“No. She burns with me!” The heat from his hand and the Conflagrations were transmuted into pain. Her body was already burning, turning to ash and cinder. One gesture, one word that was all it would take. Maybe she could get away from him and reach Caspian. Surely if his companions- who were they?- and him saw her moving towards them, heard her ask for their help while she still could, they would come for her. Maybe they would even reach her. Maybe what came next wouldn't be as bad.
She didn’t have long to decide, only moments before the rest of her was gone. Only moments. She knew what she had to do. She always did eventually. Caspian's eyes widened.
“It doesn’t have to be this way!” Caspian exclaimed as he reached for her. She didn’t reach back. She didn’t move. Only moments, then she was no longer capable of it.
The blood she’d washed off her hands the first time she’d helped Poppa save a life at the age of six.
Her favorite fruit, tangy and sweet and rare.
The pages of the books she’d loved to read.
Healthy, growing things.
Momma and Josie’s eyes, though Josie’s were a much darker shade.
The inky color of the sky the night she’d escaped.
The name she’d given to the injured bird she’d nursed back to health and released when she was eight.
How she’d longed to take to the sky with it. But she could not fly any more than she could run. Burn with me, Spector…
Nothing is ever really destroyed. Only changed.