It's so easy to pretend that everything's ok sometimes...
But only sometimes.
Reality gets in the way soon enough.
The last thing he wants is to be here.
"It's a chance to say goodbye," his father gently reminded him, "We all need the closure."
While his father tells him that Krista wouldn't want him to be sad, and other almost unbearably hopeful platitudes, Paolo feels...numb. Tired. Drained. He wears the black clothes, stands in the cemetery and watches everyone cry but...he can't bring himself to feel anymore. The five stages of grief feel more like an erratic pendulum to him; swinging from depression to shock to anger at random.
When is it going to stop? When will everything just settle down and be normal? Paolo wishes someone could tell him that.
"I'm worried about dad," Tula confesses to her aunt. Tula has never properly met her aunt Tulip, with her being crime fighting most of the time, but she does know that Tulip is one of the police officers involved with Krista's arrest. Tula has never met a Vampire before, so she studies her aunt carefully. The glowing eyes, long canines, the umbrella she uses not because of the rain...
Tulip looks down at her niece sadly. "I'm worried about him too..."
"He never really talks to anyone now. Like, Aunt Xara is here and he hasn't even said hi... you're here and he won't even look at you. It's like he hates you, or just everyone right now..." she shifts a little, glancing at the ground, "...maybe even me."
Tulip feels a wave of guilt crash over her. She doesn't regret arresting Krista, but she never imagined anything like this coming from it.
"Your dad doesn't hate you," she chooses not to speculate on how Paolo might feel about her right now, "He's just going through a hard time. We all are."
Tula scratches the back of her neck, "Even you? I-I've heard people say that Vampires can't feel..." she has heard this from television and other fiction, and Tula wants to know if maybe she's like a Vampire; just pretending to fit in.
Tulip's face hardens, "Even me. And I can feel." Though sometimes it would be easier if I couldn't. The hurt and offense is subtle, but Tula can pick up on it.
"Oh, gosh, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, I can't ever say anything right... I know I shouldn't believe what the other kids at school say...." Tula apologises profusely.
"Have they been picking on you?"
Tula bites her lip nervously, "N-No." Everyone's been giving her and Guy a wide berth of space, actually. But her aunt doesn't know that.
"Don't worry about it, I'll be fine! I don't care anymore..."
Tulip's face softens, "If kids pick on you, you can't just take it, Tula. You have to stand up for yourself."
Tula looks away angrily, "Ok, I get it. I don't want to talk about it anymore." She rubs under her eyes as if she were crying.
Tulip decides to leave it alone for now. This isn't the time or the place for this discussion.
"Is the sky crying 'cause it's sad?"
Xara tilts her head. That is so...innocent, in a horribly depressing way.
Xara finds the question naive and childish coming from someone almost in their teen stage, but there's such a pure perplexity in his eyes that she can't help but feel her heart melt. The poor kid is just confused.
"Maybe it is," she equivocates, not quite having the heart to burst his bubble, "But it won't be sad forever. Eventually the clouds disappear and the sun comes..."
Guy's unearthly blue eyes gaze at her owlishly. It's such an intense stare that Xara can't help but break eye contact. He looks at her, but it's like he's seeing something else.
After several seconds pass, Xara looks back at him, still spaced out, and squeezes his shoulder.
"I miss Krista, too."
Guy's eyes slowly move to stare at her hand, and his brow creases.
Can you miss someone who was never really there? he wants to ask. Krista was there...sometimes... maybe. And now she's maybe gone...forever. He doesn't know how to put that feeling into words, so he just stares at Xara's hand. It feels like her hand will phase through him if he lets it sit long enough, as if he didn't exist.
Maybe it's him that's not real. He was imaginary, after all.
Tula has long returned to her grandparents' side, leaving Tulip standing to the side. Alone.
Tula's words are still ringing in her head. It's as if he hates you. She would be surprised if Paolo didn't resent her. Seeing him stand numbly, not hearing anything being said to him, she wonders if she shouldn't have come.
She decides to duck out quietly. She folds her umbrella and begins to move to her parents and say goodbye, and pauses. There's someone else she needs to say something to.
The grave offers no forgiveness.
Hours after everyone has left, Tulip comes back to the graveyard. She has an important meeting.
"Her funeral was today," Tulip says as she approaches.
Keith doesn't glance away from his sister's resting place. "Was it really?"
Tulip stares at him. "You were the one who asked to meet here. You must have known."
Keith scratches the back of his neck. "We're not here to talk about Krista."
"No, we're not."
They move to one of the benches. It's raining, dark, and cold but they put their umbrellas to the side.
"I hope we're almost done with all of this," Keith grumbles.
"Almost," Tulip confirms. "We have Pablo in for murder, and his things are being searched. We'll need you to meet up with a few of your old business partners. Say that you're trying to handle things for your brother, clean up his mess. Keep them distracted long enough for us to move in."
Keith smirks, "So I'm bait? Like Krista?"
Tulip clenches her jaw and looks forward. "Do you think you can do that, or should we ask someone else?"
"Sorry, did I hit a nerve? Don't feel bad, she was bound to get herself hurt sooner or later. Krista was always so...clumsy."
Tulip continues to stare forward. "Be careful, Chandra. If you're clumsy, you'll find yourself without a plea deal."
Keith's expression becomes neutral, "Yeah, I haven't forgotten."
They sit in silence for a few minutes. Everything has finally fallen into place. Tulip wants to say the sacrifices were worth it, and let herself revel in finally toppling over the Parrotts.
Instead, for the first time, she wonders if it was all worth it.
After all, they say the road to hell is paved with good intentions.