by Kathryne

She looks at herself in the mirror, and she thinks of something that Sean Cassidy said to her, once, when she was returning from a solo trip to the jewellers'.

"Every time since I've known you that you've bought yourself jewellery, something was eating at you."

She remembers the bracelet she bought that day - silver and diamond, expensive, but not gaudy - and she remembers the rest of the conversation she had with Sean, and the overwhelming worry for her students that had plagued her. A sudden impulse seizes her, and she reaches for her jewellery box, spills its contents onto the bed. Gems cascade over the white bedcover, light refracting in pale, watered-down reflections through their facets.

She rifles through them until she finds the piece she is searching for. Picking it out of the pile, she holds it up for a moment, admiring the way the sparkles dance in the light. She drapes it around her wrist, fastens the clasp, and watches the gems pale in comparison to the new brilliance of her skin.

She continues to rummage through the pile. Hundreds of thousands of dollars lay tangled on her bed, everything but the diamonds tossed carelessly aside. Soon she is naked but for the jewellery, an obscene amount of it, rings and bracelets and necklaces and earrings and anklets all dripping with diamonds. They gleam with the polish and attention that only the very richest of collectors have time to lavish on their care.

Some of them are blood diamonds, she knows. Normally, when she wears them, the faint psychic tendrils attached to them loop around her mind and scream in pain and loss. Others, mined in the farthest reaches of the Canadian Territories, whisper of cold and wide open spaces where the sky and the land are indistinguishable and infinite. Today, though, they are silent, their secrets unable to reach her through the protective skin with which she has surrounded herself.

Diamonds upon diamond, and she recognises the symmetry: the crystals she purchased in a conscious effort to ease her fears for her students, and the crystal her instincts had formed to protect her, leaving another group of students to die helplessly and painfully. If it hadn't been for her diamond form manifesting, she would have died there as well; instead, she was the sole survivor.

If it wasn't for her diamond form now, she thinks, that knowledge would kill her.

She can look through the jewelled film over her heart and see the facts coldly, dispassionately, detachedly: She had students under her care. They died.

She lived.


It doesn't hurt, can't hurt, through the diamond. In diamond she's not a telepath; she can't sense anything, and she doesn't let herself feel anything. It was disconcerting at first, seemed like there was a hollow place inside her. Now she is used to it, comfortable with the emptiness; it is a reminder.

She faces the mirror again, looking at herself impassively. She stretches a hand out, touches the surface, the illusion. With contact comes a shift in perspective; suddenly it seems that the mirror penetrates the surface, rips away her protection, leaves her naked, vulnerable, open under attack ---

She smashes the mirror.

Shards of glass tinkle musically onto the floor beneath her.

She faces the mirror.



She likes it better.


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