Finding Kieran wasn't hard.
His mind blazed as brightly as a shooting star in the midst of dull and grasping human thoughts, streaking through them like a virus with a five-minute incubation period. They stood no chance. One by one they dropped, insignificant and quickly forgotten.
Kian understood that Kieran was angry. It really wasn't all that hard to figure out. That flaring purple aura leapt and burned, dancing to its own haunting song in its own amaranthine time, and colorless dreams drowned beneath its crush. He made no effort to hide his emotions and no effort to subdue them. The maelstrom lashed through the night with a violent violet crackle, its tail recoiling to strike with power drawn from his fury.
His twin fed from the anger and Kian did, too. He did not stop to wonder where it sprang from, but instead welcomed its existence and followed it. Kieran's anger was hot and vibrant, trailing fire through the air and leaving stark etchings on his mind. They scorched a path in front of him, linking the twins as though they were indeed one.
But where Kieran's anger seared charred trails and left ashes of destruction in its wake, Kian's anger cut as clean and sharp as a blade of ice. His frosty touch kissed gently and, without warning, glacial needles threaded their way like creeping fingers where his gaze brushed. Layers of frost so thick they seemed endless wrapped around him, anger boiling through his blood like a raging arctic river. Cold calmness settled over him to blanket and to trap his emotions. They simmered dangerously below the calm and threatened to erupt.
Outwardly, he was calm.
Inside, he was dying.
He found himself standing in front of his apartment building with no memory of walking, running, or even moving. He was simply there, staring carefully into the darkened windows as if they unlocked the secret to those burning trails. What had drawn him here, cold and abandoned and unforgiven?
The answer, of course, was simple. Kieran was here. Pain crawled trapped below both their surfaces, beneath a smokescreen of fire for his twin and beneath a sheet of ice for himself. Whatever his twin had done, whatever battles the two fought, when they were together, the pain would always lessen.
His own long ago words filtered into his brain. "We are the same. Don't you see? We are the same, Kyaren. Always we will be together. We are One."
And despite everything, they were indeed One.
Kian's jaw clenched, bitterness pulsing through his veins. Best not to think of that now. Best not to think of anything but the anger gurgling quietly and deceptively just below the surface.
He shook the hazy emotions out of his head, stepping purposefully onto the small, dingy porch. White pillars soared to meet the sagging roof, their straight backs stiff and proud despite the woefully chipped paint. He didn't spare them a glance, knowing that the air current from looking may very well cause them to fall on his tousled burgundy head.
Carefully, he opened the battered door. It creaked on its hinges, making a noise similar to that of a dying cat. The squeal hurt his ears, but fortunately, this time the handle had stayed attached.
Taking them two at a time, he mounted the stairs quickly. Through the door. Down the hallway. Every step he took augmented the feeling of dread inside him. He stopped in front of his own door, somehow knowing that something was off. The mahogany entrance swung open. In front of him, the apartment waited silently.
He relaxed, almost disappointed. Kieran wasn't here.
Stalking lightly inside, he dropped his keys on an antique coffee table and fumbled for the light. The wall stayed suspiciously flat. Oh, come on, Kian, he thought, annoyed, it's not like the thing moves around at will. His fingers brushed the switch and light flooded into the room, showing him just how wrong he'd been.
Kieran sat comfortably in the middle of his living room, almost as if he were waiting for him. A glass rested in his hand and his feet were propped on Kian's antique coffee table. He turned when light illuminated the room and Kian tensed.
His twin met his eyes directly, raising his crystal goblet in a mocking toast. Thick red liquid sloshed dangerously close to the edge. "Nice place," he said casually.
Kian's icy shell shattered. He was across the room before Kieran could blink. Gripping his brother's tailored shirt, he picked him up and threw him toward the wall. The chalice in Kieran's hand flew across the room with him, blood spilling on the floor and splattering over the furniture. Kian followed close behind. "What did you do?" he growled, slamming Kieran's head against the wall.
Kian looked vaguely shocked and more than a little angry. "I haven't done anything," he replied, trying to shake Kian off, "unless my name has been added to America's Most Wanted list and leaving the country is now a federal offense."
They stared silently at each other for several seconds, then Kian's shoulders slumped and his grip loosened. "What are you talking about?" he asked, suddenly tired.
Glaring from beneath thick lashes so dark they glistened like hematite, Kieran pulled away and brushed himself off almost fastidiously. "You asked me what I am doing," he explained slowly, pronouncing each word carefully and clearly. Kian knew that mocking tone well. "I am leaving the country. You of all people should have no problems with that."
Identical violet eyes locked with his. "Why?"
Kieran shrugged, easing away and dropping back down on the sofa. He avoided the mess the blood made on the floor. "Do I need a reason?"
"Need one? No," Kian replied. "Having one might help."
Kieran laughed. His eyes lit delightedly and his mouth curved. "I've never claimed to be helpful. But, if you must know, I've missed the taste of Irish cream. It's so thick and rich and--"
"And not the real reason you're leaving," Kian supplied, sitting next to his brother. He sank into the soft cushions of the couch. His eyes slid shut. "You don't have to lie about it. We both know it won't change anything."
Amused, Kieran watched his twin relax against the cushions. "I'm glad to know it, brother. It would be a shame for me to ruin centuries of feuding with something so inane."
Without opening his eyes, Kian responded, "You don't feud, Kieran. You destroy. I've known nuclear warheads to do less damage than you."
"I aim to please."
"You aim to wreak havoc," his twin corrected, "and you do a wonderful job. Perhaps I should send a thank you note. No, not a note… Maybe I should make you cookies."
"So you can lace them with arsenic?" Kieran shot back.
Kian opened his eyes. "I think not. Arsenic would have the same effect as trying to plug a leak with a toothpick."
"Now there's a thought," Kieran muttered. "It depends on where you're plugging that leak."
A devilish smile flitted over Kian's face. "Don't give me any ideas," he warned.
"Wouldn't think of it," Kieran replied cheerfully. "I might have the misfortune of seeing them carried out."
Kian raised an eyebrow, drumming his fingers idly against the side of the blue chintz sofa. "It's not me you have to worry about," he countered softly. His mouth twisted. "Cameron's grown claws."
"Cameron has always had claws," Kieran corrected. "She just kept them sheathed around you. I never got that lucky."
He sent his twin a cynical glance from the corner of his eye. "You don't think that would have anything to do with the fact that you were murdering her at the time, do you?"
Kieran paused, blinking in mock thoughtfulness. "You know, I often wondered about that. I think you might be right."
Kian rolled his eyes. "What are you doing here?" he asked.
"Admiring your furniture," Kieran replied dryly. "How upset would you be if I were to take back Mother's coffee table?"
"Devastated," he said glibly. "Uncle Jareth was staked on that table. It has sentimental value, you know."
Kieran smirked, one side of his mobile mouth curling beautifully. "The only intelligent thing he ever did was to get himself killed, although Mother was quite worried that he'd ruined the finish." He ran a hand lovingly over the solid oak, pausing over a curiously deep hollow in the middle.
"Kieran," Kian said, exasperated, "what do you want?"
His twin shrugged. "Nothing. I just thought I'd stop by before leaving the country and let you know that I still intend to ruin the decade for you. I'm just taking my time about it."
Staring in disbelief, Kian leaned away and raised an eyebrow. "The day you stop making my life miserable is the day I'll have you committed." He shook his head and looked away briefly. "You didn't have to visit to tell me that. I already knew."
"I know," Kieran admitted, "but I thought I'd give you the opportunity to try to stop me. It only seemed fair."
The breath stopped in Kian's throat, his eyes flaring hotly. "Fair? Is it fair that you take away my soulmate in every life? Is it fair that she's only lived one life past the age of sixteen? Don't try to be 'fair' with me. It's too late for that."
"I never said--" his twin started, only to be cut off.
"And what did you do?" Kian snapped, repeating his earlier question. "If you're not going to kill her until her next birthday, don't interfere. After taking away thousands of years we could have spent together, you owe me these months."
It was Kieran's turn to look tired. "I don't owe you anything," he stated. Reluctantly, he added to himself, Except maybe an explanation. But despite his self-confession, his expression was cold. "And while I thoroughly enjoy your accusations, I have no idea what you're talking about."
Gritting his teeth, Kian fought the urge to strangle his twin. "You did something," he answered flatly.
"Are you so sure about that?" Kieran asked, amused. "What exactly makes whatever happened my fault?"
Kian paused, considering, wondering what had made him so sure his twin was at the bottom of this. Finally, he answered, "I saw things."
Kieran looked at him sharply. "What kind of things?"
Shrugging uneasily, his response was sulky. "Just… things. Glimpses of you and of her."
"Oh, really?" Kieran asked softly. His voice was silken, dangerous, slipping through the air like mist. "When are these images from? What happened?"
Kian glared. "From the last time she died." He didn't need to say who "she" referred to. It hadn't been necessary through any of the conversation. They both knew. "You killed her."
"You say that like it's something different," Kieran responded, brushing the accusation aside.
"It wasn't like the other times," Kian snapped. His cheeks flushed with anger. "She died in pain."
Kieran sighed, sitting up straight. "Losing blood is never a pleasant experience. Getting bitten… Well, that all depends on where you bite. What did you think? That drinking someone's blood makes them want to jump up and say, 'Let's do it again?'"
"Don't change the subject." Kian's mouth tightened. "I want it to stop, Kieran."
"Wish for it all you like," Kieran replied, "but it's not going to end until one of us is dead." His mouth curled dangerously and he glanced briefly to meet his twin's gaze. "That rather leaves you at a disadvantage, doesn't it?"
Emotion washed over Kian's face, hot and fierce, like a tidal wave crashing over a sandy beach. "I'm already at a disadvantage," he returned. "Thanks to you and your games, I'm never to come near her again."
Kieran's eyes widened fractionally and he sat back again. "What happened?" he questioned.
Staring at the wall moodily, Kian responded, "She remembered something. I only caught shards of the memory, but I know it wasn't pleasant."
His twin remained silent, waiting for him to continue.
"I think it happened around twenty years ago--"
"Twenty-one," Kieran interrupted, "but I guess that doesn't matter."
Kian shot him a bewildered look. "I don't suppose you know the month and the day as well, do you? What about the hour?" He shook his head. "She wasn't expecting it, that much I caught with very few problems. She trusted you, Kieran, and you destroyed her."
"March 28, 1980," Kieran replied coldly, ignoring the last comment. "Midnight. I was in Las Vegas. She was near Vancouver."
Blood rushed to Kian's face. "That's impossible. You killed her."
"Did I?" Kieran countered softly. "It would make things simpler, wouldn't it? You always have been the type that likes things cut and dry."
Kian's response was calm. "I like my soulmate alive, too, but clearly things don't always happen the way we want."
Kieran looked at him, his violet eyes piercing through his skin and pulling his thoughts apart until they were laid bare before him. "No, things don't always happen the way we want," he agreed. Quietly, he continued, "I didn't kill your soulmate, but I know who did."
Eyes flashing like lightening in a velvet sky, Kian demanded, "Who?"
Kieran smiled tightly. "That," he stated icily, "is no secret. If you think about it long enough, you'll know who it was, too. If not, then it's none of your damned business."
"Would it be that difficult to just tell me?" Kian wondered angrily.
Contemplating him quietly, Kieran gnawed idly on his lower lip and traced a thoughtless pattern on the arm of the sofa. "Yes, it would. Figure it out yourself." He paused. "Where were you that night?"
No matter how hard he tried, Kian couldn't remember.