Taylor hates ghost stories now, hates that whole dark and stormy night schtick that Hollywood won't let die. More than that, she really fucking hates that Michael is the Antichrist and they find this out on a dark and stormy night. He's never going to let that drop. She'll be eighty, the world will be ashes beneath her shoes, and he'll still be holding that cliché over her head like it's the funniest thing in the world. Right now, though, firmly in the present as he bites into a fresh heart, it's…. Fitting.
Storm clouds and rain and a murder of crows circling outside are all part of the atmosphere as Michael sinks his teeth back into the heart and blood drips down his arm. It's making a small puddle at his feet and Moira will have a conniption fit when she sees it. Behind Michael, thrown against the wall like a shadow, a beast unfurls with horns and wings and clawed fingers that twitch and move. Around her wrist, Eve tightens and writhes and hisses like it never has before. The Adder's never reacted quite like this, wrapping tighter and tighter until Taylor's fingers begin to go cold before loosening all at once as Michael's eyes turn black as pitch.
The three that found them, the Satanists, all bow in reverence, like they're seeing the face of God for the first time in their lives. She supposes that's not too far from the truth, it almost makes her laugh. She swallows it down and moves to stand in front of him, reaching out a steady hand to cup his smooth cheek. Michael blinks and his eyes are blue again, almost glowing in the firelight.
His lips twitch up in a smile, a cold and ruthless thing that should make Taylor afraid. It should terrify her and send her to her knees to beg forgiveness. Instead, she presses a kiss to his forehead and relishes the fire burning under his skin, an inferno of warmth. When she pulls back, he's grinning like a little boy.
"I told you eating a heart was a literal thing," he says, insufferably smug. Taylor just crosses her arms over her chest with a huff.
"Well, it wasn't served on a silver platter." It had been in a little metal bowl, carefully pilfered from a morgue. Outside, the storm grows louder and she turns before Michael can bring up that stupid cliché, moving to the front door and swinging it open in time for hail to start falling from the sky.
"I caused this. Isn't it beautiful?"
"And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceedingly great." Michael is quiet beside her and they stand in the doorway until the sky begins to turn pink, the rain slowly letting up until it's nothing but a light sheen on the grass.
"Will you finish the heart? Be like me forever?"
"No, I'm perfectly fine being what I am." Whatever that is. She doesn't even care right now, she just wants to curl up somewhere dark and warm, away from the damp outside. "Let's go sleep for a few hours. Then we'll leave this place."
"She'll be fine," Taylor assures him. "She has her brother and that other guy that died here a year ago." Marco is a sweet guy, all soft edges and everything that Tabitha isn't. He brings out good things in her, and when she smiles now it's like clouds parting to reveal sunshine. There are still moments of rage, times when she drives her fist through a wall or a tire iron against her father's knees. Marco takes the edge off of that, he hugs her until the rage dies down and she actually lets him.
"That's true." Michael heaves a sigh and turns his back on the blushing sky, heading upstairs to the master bedroom. Taylor hangs back for a second longer before following suit, heading into Violet's room and curling up in a sleeping bag. Eve slithers farther into the sleeping bag until it can wrap around her ankle, safe and cold.
And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast.
The day the world ends starts out with waffles.
Taylor is freshly graduated from a culinary school, knows how to make most of anything, but waffles on Tuesdays are tradition. She decorates them with slices of strawberries and whipped cream, only using a small amount of syrup to keep everything in place.
Michael sits at the kitchen table with the glasses of orange juice, dressed in black from head to toe apart from the splash of pale blue from his scarf. It matches his eyes, a deliberate choice he was completely against until Taylor threw it at his head and told him to wear it or make his own waffles. Since the kid can burn water, he put the damn scarf on.
"We'll have to get you to a bunker soon," he says, watching as she brings their plates to the table. "I don't want to chance you being out in the open when the Blast happens."
"But you won't stay with me." It's not a question, it's a statement of fact. The grass is green, the sun is warm, and Michael Langdon wants to watch the neighborhood get razed to the ground. She lets out a soft sigh and begins to pick at her breakfast, not really feeling up to eating. Michael, on the other hand, has chipmunk cheeks as he stuffs a whole ass waffle into his mouth.
"Miss Crowe needs to be looked after."
"So do you." She reaches out with a napkin to wipe the syrup off his chin, smiling fondly all the same. "You might be the Antichrist, but you're my little cousin first and foremost." Taylor drops the napkin to the tabletop, leaning back in her seat. "If I don't watch over you, no one will."
"My Father will."
"Your Father is a temperamental pain in my ass." The sky thunders overhead and she rolls her eyes with nearly enough force to pull something. "Fuck off, Satan, you know it's true." There's another rumble, softer this time. Taylor grins over at her cousin, a predatory thing. "I'm winning him over, I can feel it."
"Yes, I'm sure he can't wait until you meet him face-to-face." She snorts and spears a strawberry on her fork, nibbling on it. Michael's smile fades slowly into a worried frown, but he keeps eating and she lets it go for now. They'll see each other again eventually, he vowed it to her in blood.
When their plates are empty and clean, Taylor stares out the front door at the sky. It's a gorgeous blue, no clouds in sight to muffle the bright sunshine. She likes how it feels on her skin, craving any and all warmth. She's just so cold all the time, like a corpse that doesn't know it's dead yet.
She'll have to leave soon, she knows it, but it doesn't stop her from enjoying this view one last time. The neighbors across the street working in their garden, a sprinkler watering the grass somewhere down the way, a little girl's laughter floating on the cool breeze. It's perfect. Then there's an ugly blotch on the horizon, transforming into a SUV that parks curbside, a pair of black-suited escorts in the front.
"Did you really have to go with the Men in Black theme," she asks, turning her face up towards Michael. "It doesn't match the Victorian elegance of everything else."
"Let our lucky survivors have this one last modern thing." He's got his hands clasped behind his back and the scarf is still neatly tucked into his coat. Taylor's dressed in a pair of skinny jeans and a blue hoodie, the words Ohana Means Family printed across the top in white. "Are you ready?"
"As I'll ever be." She grabs her lone bag and brings it with her to the SUV, Michael opening her door for her. The interior of the car is nice, leather seats and a new car smell, but it doesn't compare to the smell of autumn leaves. She'll never get to smell that again if Michael's plan works out.
"I'll come visit you as soon as I can."
"And I'll text you every night to make sure you're okay. Thank God that some spells can be used for modern things."
"Yeah, not being able to play Plague Inc. would really make the apocalypse boring." He lets out a huff of laughter, nuzzling his cheek against hers. "Be safe." Michael sucks in a trembling breath and nods, stepping away. He looks like he wants to yank her back out of the car and keep her with him forever, but there's a loud clap of thunder overhead and his shoulders sag just the slightest.
"I love you, Tay."
"Love you too, Mikey." And then her door is slammed shut and the car is taking off at a breakneck pace, smooth asphalt changing to unpaved roads the farther they go, leaving Los Angeles behind them in a spray of dust. Taylor doesn't cry, just watches the scenery change out her window until the car stops five hours later. When she gets out again, the sky is a blood red, clouds gathering thickly in the east. The end is coming, will be here within the hour if Taylor has to guess. She'll be flown to the Outpost once the Blast is over, a little plane purchased in advance.
One last modern thing.
"Miss Valiente," says Agent Kay," it's time to get inside."