Only after calling in to his information operative with the basic details about them having Skeletal Smile, Ben needing assistance, and that he was going out into the field to help Red Robin, did Christein allow her to pull him back with her to where she had left Ben.
She couldn’t be bothered to care that the vampire was gone, though Christein was vocal about it. He checked the area quickly before returning back to where she was sitting with Ben’s corpse.
“Did you even incapacitate him before leaving?” he wanted to know, but when he looked at her, he choked back more rebukes. She was just sitting there, holding the hand of a dead body, staring at empty eyes as if waiting for them to light up with life again.
He could just look at Ben and know that he was dead. He had seen paintings of Ben before he’d become a phantom and the dark green eyes and light brown hair fit the description. The only explanation for him to have returned to his original coloring, minus the still deathly pale skin, was that he was dead. Or rather, that he was truly dead. Still, for Amadhay, he kneeled on the other side of her and checked for a pulse. “Gone,” he sighed, pulling his hand back and looking at her. “He’s dead. I’m sorry.”
Amadhay simply shook her head as if it didn’t matter. “It’s a seal. It can be undone. I, we, have Skeletal Smile. He is at my mercy for at least twenty more clacks. He will undo it.”
Christein chose not to question what would happen in twenty clacks. He preferred plausible deniability when it came to his younger cousin. “He might not come back,” he whispered instead, taking her hand from the corpse and holding it between both of his.
She needed to know that. Once phantoms were sealed by a necromancer, it was rare that they came back. It either took an incredibly strong necromancer to force it or a strong desire from the phantom to continue with this existence. He wouldn’t lie that he doubted Ben had that draw. Ben wasn’t with anyone, his only friends (as far as Christein could tell) were him and Amadhay (and it was pushing it to call him Ben’s friend), he was in a job that was slowly eating at what was left of his soul, and Christein was hard-pressed to think of something that the phantom could want to come back to besides them or the job.
But he couldn’t seem to get Amadhay to understand that.
“No,” Amadhay shook her head decisively. “He will come back.”
“Amadhay, I’m serious. He might not come back.”
“So am I,” she responded, glaring just past his ear. He was actually glad to see that. Her going back to not glaring directly meant that she was better. “He. Will. Come. Back.” She enunciated each word intelligibly, as if he simply weren’t hearing her right.
When she made to touch the dead body again, Christein pulled her away, disgust and other things that he refused to think about prevalent in his mind. “Why are you so insistent?” he demanded, grabbing her by the shoulders. “He’s dead, Amadhay. He has always been dead!” he shouted, shaking her, trying to shake the sense into her and the infatuation out.
Other people she knew had died on missions with her, even other friends. He hated that she was so broken by Ben’s death. A small part of him recognized that it was a good thing that she was so obviously in love with Ben. But a larger part of him hated it. Would she be that broken if he were the one dead?
“Stop it,” she said shakily, shoving him back from her.
“Why?! He’s dead, Amadhay!” He yelled again. He cupped her cheeks to make her look at him and not the dead body. “If you love him so much, let him do the one thing he couldn’t in peace!”
Amadhay froze, her eyes glittering unhappily, but no tears marred her face. “I hate you,” she whispered.
Christein recoiled as if he had been slapped. “Amadhay…”
She didn’t look at him, instead moving back to Ben’s body and trying to lift him. The corpse outweighed her by about 100 lbs and was well over a foot taller than she was. It would have been funny if she weren’t so serious about it, if Ben weren’t dead. No, Christein corrected himself, It would be funny if it weren’t her.
“Here, let me help,” Christein muttered, but fell back when she lifted one hand to tell him not to come any closer. He watched as she fumbled, falling under the weight of the body of Benjym Base. She sat down on the ground and looked ready to cry.
“Mayday,” he said softly, moving closer to her. She didn’t stop him this time. “I’m going to help you.” She shook her head, pushing at his hands weakly. “Come on. We’re going back the base.”