"Melanie!" Brittany screamed. "What the fuck do you think you're doing?"
"I could ask you the same thing!" Melanie snapped, trembling with rage. The vine shivered in sympathy and Joe moaned as the stems sawed into his bare ankles. "This is only what he deserves, didn't you tell me that? He's nothing but a lying, evil manipulating bastard!" She flicked her wrist and the vine swung down and outwards, pulling back to slam Joe into the side of the building with a force that would shatter his skull.
"Bitch!" Brittany screamed. "Put him down!" She came at Melanie, running, her hands outstreched, her hands curled into claws. "You leave him alone, you bitch!"
Melanie took a step back and white flame sparked in her eyes. It traveled down her arm, rippling over her sleeve and bursting out of the palm of her free hand. It leaped across the gap between them, a white thread, captive lightning, hitting Brittany in the chest and throwing her backwards. Brittany's body spasmed and jerked, twitching and fitting in agony. She hit the roof ten feet away and slid to lie still on the edge. Melanie smiled a small, satisfied smile, watching Brittany for a moment before going to the opposite edge, allowing the vine to drop away.
He's not there!
She stared, her mouth open, her eyes wide in disbelief. Shock robbed her of her anger and she rubbed her eyes, squinting. He should have been there. He should have been dead. She'd just meant to frighten him, to povoke in him a reaction of fear she'd never seen but thought he should feel, even if it was just once. Brittany running at her had disrupted the spell, made her lose control and so the fall of the vines should have kiiled him. He should be lying there, four floors down, his head split open on the gravel path, brains seeping out through his cracked skull.
Melanie didn't feel relief, she felt cheated. She realized she had after all, wanted him dead, the lying little fuck. He deserved it; the world would be better off without him. And Brittany! That just made her even angrier. That she'd let him do that after all the things she told me! After what he did! After what he said about Mal!
A sound behind her made her turn and all the rage came flooding back, bringing acid into her mouth and making her stomach cramp and churn.
"Hey Melanie," Joe said, as if he were greeting her on the way to class. He was naked except for a tendril of vine that was caught around his left ankle. Melanie wanted to scream at him but managed to control herself.
"What have you been telling Brittany?" she said, her voice trembling with suppressed emotion. "More lies? As if every word out of your mouth wasn't twisted!"
"Come to kill me have you Melanie?" Joe said, he smiled. "Why don't you just walk away now, before you get hurt?"
"Before I get hurt?" Melanie spat. "Shit, I've learned. My power is innate. Inborn. I wasn't given it by a symbiote demon in exchange for my soul! I've learned and I've studied, and if anyone's running it's gonna be you Joe!"
"I don't have that demon any more. It's out of me now. Want to know where it went? Into Mal, your precious Mal, who you think wouldn't hurt a fly. He raped me."
"You liar!" Melanie screamed. "You fucking liar!"
"It's true. Go find him and ask him. He. Raped. Me."
"Liar!" Melanie flung out her hands again and the threads of lightning flew out of them, but before they could reach Joe a wind rose up, growing stronger and stronger. The glowing threads met it and disintegrated, and it blew hard in Melanie's face, battering her, pulling at her clothes. She had to take a step back and brace her legs, bu still it rose, pushing her backwards to the edge of the roof, her braids flapping wild, her shirt flattened against her. She had to squint into it, could see Joe standing there at the eye of the storm, glowing warm yellow and orange.
She had to lean into it with all her weight. Oh shit! Don't panic; you need to focus! Focus! With the strength of her will she reached into herself for the calm center of her magic and let go. She let the wind take her for a moment then used its strength and its force to propel herself upwards, rising above the wind.
Looking down now she smiled to see Joe below her and shot down fire on him. But all of it he absorbed, looking up at her wih burning eyes, laughing now.
"Give it up!" he said in the sudden silence as the wind died. "Melanie, you know you can't win."
She didn't answer, incensed by his arrogance and dismissal. She tied harder, bringing all her anger to bear, using it to fuel her fire, but he brushed it all aside and was suddenly in the air with her. He laughed again, sitting on nothing as if it was a feather bed while she had to struggle and concentrate. The vine dangled like a kite-string
"Last chance! Fucking hell Melanie, have you got a death wish?"
"Fuck you Joe!" she screamed and flew at him as he laughed at her. She saw his mouth open, wider and wider as he laughed, as if he were yawning. Smoke poured out between his strong, white teeth, congealing into tendrils like the vine, but black and oily, stinking. They stung as they whipped and curled around her, so cold they burnt. The last thing she saw as they covered her eyes was Joe's laughing face.