The serum made it easy for the words to tumble out. The guilt that had chewed away every moment of happiness for three months finally bit through flesh and poured out. I saw the scene again, us finding Calvin, and knowing I had done it.
I took a deep breath and let the truth come out. "What they don't want me to tell you, is that-"
Nathan jumped to my rescue, immediately interrupting. "Dad, let's go question Lieutenant Marcos, he's probably waiting for us-"
Edgar raised a clawed hand, his brow creasing. "Quiet! Finish what you're saying Azra," Somehow, even though he didn't know yet, couldn't possibly know yet, his voice was colder than ice. I think he knows what I'm going to say. How many things like this could there be?
Nathan sharply shook his head, but I had to finish.
I shuddered, imagining it. If he had known, all these moments we've spent as a "family" meant nothing. My inner wolf pleaded with me, reminding me what I had to lose.
Stella said nothing, she just watched me, a strange look on her face.
"I had the chance to kill Lance. When I was in Chicago, Lance and I had to fight Alaine, the sorceress, and-and, after...he was trapped and I could've killed him. But-" My heart plummeted, and I stuttered. There was a single heartbeat when Edgar's face softened miserably before his eyes turned to muted amber. Edgar growled at me furiously.
"You didn't kill the man, who placed a bounty on my nephew? You let him live, so he could steal my son from me..." Edgar's voice choked up and I felt my heart hurt, and my chest constricts. "Calvin died because you couldn't do what needed to be done. You always struggle with doing what needs to be done, and I wish..." Edgar closed his eyes at that moment, and I would've done anything for him, not to continue. "I wish the prophecy had chosen someone else."
I reeled, and Nathan stepped away from his father, his body loosening. The secret I had forced Stella and him to hold was out, and it felt like a string had been removed from a cloth. The tension was gone, but the cloth was unravelling. All of unravelled.
Edgar contemplated me with a terrifying glare. I couldn't meet his eyes. Numbness trickled into me, and I wondered bitterly how I could have thought this would be any different.
Nathan stammered something, then cleared his throat and tried again. "Father, she-she didn't know what he would-"
"Silence! You are not one of my pack anymore, Ms Baloch," Edgar informed me, his voice cutting.
My wolf howled and died, and I felt a sharp pain where my pack mark was. I felt nauseous and said nothing. There was nothing to say. I felt acutely betrayed, that I should've been forgiven, but I knew there was no coming back from this.
Already Edgar was turning away, our interaction over faster than our relationship. "Nathan, come with me, to interrogate Lieutenant Marcos." He turned to Stella, who seemed almost dazed. "Ms Rossi, the potion."
Stella moved quickly, looking frightened. She locked eyes with me, her green eyes consoling. With shaking hands, she ladled her cursed truth potion into a vial. Without looking at Edgar, she handed it to him, completing every task fast. Her hands continued shaking as she awkwardly shifted in place, not quite near me or Edgar.
For me, the moment slowed and stretched, distorted like the deadened roar in my ears.
Nathan and Edgar left, and I stood there, frozen.
Stella stepped towards me, then backed away, placing herself onto the sofa, curling her thin arms around her knees. Finally, she said something, her voice strangely garbled. "Azra...I'm so sorry, I didn't know-" She couldn't blame herself for the potion. I blamed her, but I couldn't, couldn't kill this last relationship too.
Automatically I answered, my voice flat to my ears. "No, stop. It would've come out anyways, and-and, he's right. It is all my fault that Calvin died." The admission, even though I had made it three times in private stung so much more now. Like the sick, awful feeling climbing up my stomach. I closed my eyes. I was responsible for Calvin's death, and he had done so much for me. He was more than any idea of a brother I had ever had.
Edgar hating me felt worse than everything I had felt before.
"It's not your fault, you can't just kill someone in cold blood, that's what makes you different from Lance," Stella murmured, her voice slow and gentle. "He'll get it, he knows he-"
Stella's optimism meant nothing. How many times would I have to explain this?
I flung out my arm, my anger coming out uncontrollably. I had promised myself I wouldn't believe Stella's nonsense assurances that he would forgive me. And still, a part of me hoped Edgar would be angry, but understanding.
That's not what he was, he kicked me out of his family. "Just stop. He would've done what he needed to do, you heard him! I failed him, I let Lance get away, I'm why we're at this point! The prophecy would be over by now if it wasn't for me." My voice broke because I couldn't say what Edgar had said. My worst nightmare, that he didn't believe in me, was true.
I turned to the window, uninterested in Stella's sympathy or kindness. The one person who I needed to be there for me wanted nothing to do with me.
"If it's a prophecy, it was always going to happen." Stella tried for some light tone, but her voice failed at the end. I clenched my fists, remembering her grief when Calvin had been found. "You know, I was mad too. When you told me, I was so upset that you could've let this happen. But then I knew, Lance is the one responsible in the end. He's the reason so many people have to die." Stella sounded stronger, but her voice was still thin. It hurt that I hurt her like this. She was so sweet and full of sunshine, and I knew she'd always liked Calvin. Even if he ruffled her hair, or called her 'kid'.
It was so quiet. I felt like I was going to vomit. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Stella shift and glanced over, shivering.
Stella's eyes were wet with tears, and she put on a watery smile. "Come here," She looked so small, even when holding out her arms. I shuffled towards her, needing comfort more than I needed to be strong. I was relieved that Stella forgave me, even though she had known what I had done and who I was.
Strange exhaustion had seeped into me, and I melted into Stella's hug. I had always hated them, but Stella held me tightly, clearly needing some comfort too.
My breath suddenly caught, and I inhaled deeply, trying to inhale enough air in. It didn't work, I kept breathing and breathing and my lungs were closing.
Stella was saying something but I could barely hear her over my panic. I wheezed, desperately trying to breathe.
"-to be this way, you're family to me too." Stella held me firmly, and I gasped for air, struggling against her. "But I have to cut my ties too."
I didn't understand it when she dropped me, when she began walking away. My chest ached, and all I could do was fight for air. I scraped the ground feebly, realizing that I was dying.
I know that Stella left, my last remaining family. She's not helping me even as I die. I'm running out of air, everything is fading...
I couldn't hear anything, but I knew with terrible certainty, that she had betrayed me. I never saw it, never felt it in the millions of moments we had shared, spent together.
My vision fades, everything goes dark.