An Anita Blake/Sweet Valley High crossover
: Anita Blake belongs to Laurell K. Hamilton. Sweet Valley High belongs to Francis Pascal and her horde of ghost writers. No profit has been made from this fic.~~~~~
Elizabeth looked at the torn scrap of paper in her hand. The address, scrawled in faint pencil marks, mocked her with its finality.
This was it. Her last chance at finding Jessica, of making sure her twin sister wasn't in trouble, wasn't in over her head...
Of making sure her baby sister wasn't dead.
Elisabeth's hand tightened on the paper. That wasn't going to happen. She would find Jessica, she'd take her back to Sweet Valley, and everything would be right again.
Taken a deep breath, Elisabeth rang the doorbell.
In the nearby woods, a bird chirruped. A lawnmower whirled, a car drove past, and Elizabeth was about ready to start screaming when the latch clicked and the door swung open.
A young man peeked out from behind the door with curious violet eyes. Elizabeth opened her mouth, the 'I'm looking for my sister' speech stale on her tongue. Then the young man's eyes widened, panic barely hidden, and Elizabeth knew that after all these months, dead ends and broken promises, were over.
"Wait!" Elizabeth exclaimed. She leapt forward, shoving the door further open. "I need to see her!"
The man gripped the door so hard that the wood cracked. ""I'm not sure who you're talking about--"
"Yes, you do!" Elizabeth’s heart pounded in her throat. So close, and this man was standing between her and answers about Jessica. "You know exactly who I am! I need to see my sister!"
The man didn't move.
"Please." Her voice cracked. "I've been looking for her for months and every time I get close, she's ripped away from me again! I know she's here and I'm not leaving until I see her!"
Even as she spoke, a faint shiver of panic speared into Elizabeth’s heart. What if the reason the man was so surprised to see her was that he knew Jessica... and Jessica was dead?
"I just want to know she's safe," she whispered around the pain.
If Jessica was dead, the sun would keep on turning and the world wouldn't end, but Elizabeth’s life would be over. She was the older twin, always looking out for Jessica, always keeping her as safe as she could. They should have been the same person, all but for an accidental split of developing embryonic cells twenty years before, and if Jessica was dead Elizabeth didn't know how she could survive it.
The young man bit his lip, ducking his head nervously. Trying to disappear,
Elizabeth's mind filled in around her panic. "I'm not sure... this might not be the best time," he said.
Elizabeth's heart almost stopped beating. "Jessica's here? She's alive?" She took a step forward, then another. "I need to see her, just for a few minutes, where is she?"
She was almost inside the house now, in the man's personal space, and then he stepped back. He looked at her warily as he closed the door. "I don't know if she's ready for visitors quite yet, I'll go ask her. You wait here."
"I'll come with you--"
"No, you wait here." The man's voice was surprisingly firm, and Elizabeth found herself standing still. "I'll go get her."
Only after the man vanished down the hall did Elizabeth realize that she hadn't told him her name.
The wait was agony. Elizabeth tried to pass the time by looking around the hall, not really seeing anything. She strained to hear any noise deeper in the house, but still she was startled when she heard a voice, more familiar than her own say, "Elizabeth?"
Elizabeth whirled around. Jessica,
she tried to say, but her throat closed up. Jessica looked pale and worn-out, wearing worn clothes and not any visible makeup, but she was Jessica
and that was all that mattered.
Fighting back tears, Elizabeth rushed over to her twin sister and wrapped her arms around her. Jessica returned the embrace, hugging her sister tighter and tighter until Elizabeth couldn't breathe.
"Jessica, stop," the young man said, suddenly at their side prying the twins apart. "She can't get any air."
Jessica gasped, falling back into the man's arms. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry," she babbled as she tried to touch Elizabeth’s face. "Are you okay, I'm sorry--"
Elizabeth tried to breathe around her bruised ribs. Jessica had never been that strong. All those rumors of drugs and drinking and wild living came back to Elizabeth, all that she'd been hearing as she'd searched for Jessica, came back to her.
"She's fine," the man whispered to Jessica, holding her tight. "You didn't hurt her."
Jessica closed her eyes. "I'm sorry," she whispered again.
"What are you talking about?" Elizabeth demanded. "What's wrong?" Her sister didn't answer. "Jessica? What happened to you?"
The silence was worse now, because Elizabeth was so close to answers that she couldn't believe that she'd ever have them within reach.
Why had Jessica left college in the first year, not telling anyone, not even Elizabeth, where she was going? It had been over eight months, days stretching into weeks into months, all not knowing where her sister was, what fate had ripped her away from all she knew.
"Nothing," Jessica said faintly. "It's--"
"Jess," the man interrupted. "Don’t do this."
"Don't do what?" Elizabeth demanded. "What is going on?"
Jessica closed her eyes, looking ten years older. "I'm... I mean, I was..." She took a deep breath as she extracted herself from the man's arms. "I was... back at college, I left because I was attacked."
The words, soft and matter-of-fact, kicked Elizabeth in the gut.
"And it wasn't like that, not really, but I..." Jessica looked away as she pulled up the hem of her t-shirt to reveal four parallel scars stretching across her stomach. "I'm not stupid, I knew what this meant. So I left."
It all came together then. All the rumors of strength and wild mood swings, Jessica finally coming to rest in the lycanthropic hotbed of the United States, the strength in her embrace.
Elizabeth remembered being told their whole lives to be careful of the woods at night, to stay away from those animals that looked human on the other side of the river. How lycanthropes were less than human, how they should be put down like the dogs they were.
Nineteen years of prejudice and fear, all falling apart in that instant as she looked at Jessica. Her sister could never be an animal.
Elizabeth stepped forward and hugged Jessica again, not letting her hesitations show. "I'm so sorry this happened to you," she whispered.
Jessica sagged against Elizabeth, making a tiny noise in her throat. That was one of Elizabeth’s first memories, of Jessica toddling across the living room and falling, the tiny distressed sound pulling Elizabeth over before the tears started.
"I couldn’t tell you," Jessica said against Elizabeth’s neck.
"You can tell me anything," Elizabeth argued. "Same as always."
"It's not the same, not any more."
Elizabeth pulled back a little so she could see Jessica's face. "So we make it the same," she said as she brushed the tears from Jessica's cheek. Her sister's skin was feverishly hot, but she looked fine.Perfect and alive.
The front door opened and a woman, short with dark hair, came into the hallway. Elizabeth felt Jessica relax, and she barely had time to wonder why before the woman fixed a glare on her.
"What's going on?" the woman demanded. "Nathaniel?"
The young man who had let Elizabeth into the house edged around the twins. "Jessica's sister came looking for her."
"I can see that," the woman said testily. "What--"
"It's okay, Anita," Jessica said. "Really, it's fine that Elizabeth is here."
As Anita continued to bristle, as Jessica slung her arm around Elizabeth’s waist, it occurred to Elizabeth that Jessica was acting as if she was safe. As if this was home.
It ate at her heart to think that her sister had found a home that didn't include her.
"Come on," Jessica whispered. "Come inside so we can talk." Her voice faltered. "I mean, if you want to stay?"
"Of course I want to stay," Elizabeth said without hesitation. "You're here."
Elizabeth had crossed the entire county looking for her sister, and now that she'd found her again, she wasn't going to let go.