Sandra walked through the dark to her car. He did not try to stop her again. Once inside, she locked the doors again and turned her key in the ignition. But she didn't take off the break. Instead she just sat there, staring at the top of her wheal, trying by force of willpower to stiil her raging emotions.
She felt buffeted by them. All of these emotions that were a result of her choice to leave him. Her choice to become normal. Oh how they hurt. Oh how easy it had all been before. How easy to book cool and insensitive and uncaring.
But oh how she had hated that person she used to be, in these years looking back. Hated. More than she had ever hated Garith she hated herself. And she could not. Would not. Refused to become that person again. No matter what Garith said or did. No matter how gentle and strong the arms that had caught her a moment ago were. No matter how much the pain in his eyes hurt her.
She tried successfully to suppress the bitter sobs that rose in her chest. She wanted to scream. Why did she have to be so attached to that man? It was like they were chained together by the neck. And now she knew what it was to be free of that chain she never wanted to wear it again. But there it was, around her neck once more, and present in the imaginary throbbing of her scar.
And there was nothing she could do. She could not go back to her apartment. She had no money to get on a plane and leave and nowhere to go if she did. The only thing she could do was go back to him. Get to the bottom of this. And stop whoever it was that was trying to kill her.
But she was afraid to go back. Afraid to step back into her past self.
At last she turned off her car.
In those last moments, she had made a decision. Not about what to do. There were no choices there. She couldn't run away so she must go to Garith. No--she had made a choice about herself. She had decided that no matter what happened and no matter how tempting, or easy it appeared she would not become the person she had been. She would see this problem through to the end and she would leave him again. And she would remain the Sandra she had worked so hard to become.
She tugged on her mirror till she could see herself in it and dried her eyes with a tissue. That was a perfectly normal thing to do. But she did not try so hard that her crying would be completely hidden as she would have once. Her eyes were still somewhat swollen.
Garith had returned to the shadows of Dollar Dragon to wait for her.
It was strange walking to him again, avoiding the same lump of gum, glowing faintly grey against the black asphalt. It was like re-watching a movie. And although she had no idea how most of it was going to end there was the one thing that she knew, and it made everything more bearable and less frightening. She knew who she was.
“I assume I know the way to where we’re going?” she asked when she reached him. “Or will you be driving?”
“No,” he replied slowly. “No, you don’t know the way.”
“But?” she began in surprise.
“We’re not going to House 26,” he paused painfully, “There is no House 26. I told you that I fired myself. Well, I fired more than just that.”
“You destroyed it?” she asked, shock making her insides drop.
Again he nodded. “That’s why I need your help. And your blueprint.”