After Gemma got out of the shower, she hated to admit how awesome she felt. Emotionally, she was a wreck, but physically, Gemma had never felt better. She’d never done drugs, but she imagined that this was how a really good high felt.
Thea came back with a huge towel, and Gemma wrapped herself in it.
“You feel better now?” Thea asked.
“I guess,” Gemma said, trying to downplay how good she felt, and started walking to her room.
She lay down in her bed and pulled her blanket over her. It made her uncomfortably warm, but she kept it on, wanting to bury herself in it. Thea had followed her, and she stood tentatively at the end of the bed before sitting down.
“Why are you being so nice to me?” Gemma asked Thea. “You used to be such a bitch.”
“I’m still a bitch,” Thea replied. “But this is hard enough to go through. Lexi and Penn are too dumb and selfish to help. I just don’t think anyone should go through this alone.”
“How do you live with it?” Gemma asked.
“You mean from killing people?” Thea asked.
“Yeah.” Gemma pulled back the blanket a bit so she could look at Thea. “I just can’t stop thinking that he was a person, and … and he didn’t deserve that.”
“If it makes you feel any better, it didn’t hurt,” Thea said.
“How can you say that? I ripped out his heart!”
“Yes, but you’re a siren,” Thea said. “When you feed, you make a kind of purring sound. It’s like a cross between a cat and a lullaby. It has an anesthetizing effect on your prey. So it’s like they’re in a coma almost. They don’t know what happens. They die peacefully.”
“Still.” Gemma settled back down in her blankets, and while she found that fact a bit more comforting, it didn’t erase her guilt. “I still killed a man tonight.”
“That’s the part that’s the hardest to get over,” Thea said. “That we do the actual killing ourselves. You would probably be a wreck if you murdered a cow, too, but you don’t think twice about eating a hamburger.”
“That’s different,” Gemma insisted.
“For you now, it seems that way,” Thea said. “But the longer you live, the more your perception of humans changes. They die all the time, over the simplest things. Life is very, very fleeting for them. The best they can hope for is a painless death, and we provide that for them.”
“You can’t honestly believe that,” Gemma said. “You can’t really think that you’re doing them a service by killing them.”
“Sometimes I can.” Thea sounded sad, staring down at Gemma’s comforter and picking at a stray thread. “What helps me is trying to find people that deserve it.”
“People that deserve to die?” Gemma asked.
“Yeah, pedophiles, rapists, that kinda thing,” Thea said. “We seem to have the strongest effect on them, anyway, so it’s easy to find them.”
“Luke wasn’t a pedophile or a rapist,” Gemma countered. “I bet those other boys that you killed back in Capri weren’t, either.”
Thea shook her head. “That wasn’t me. That was Penn, and even she was feeding more than she normally does. She was collecting human blood to create a new siren.”
“She killed all those boys for one flask?” Gemma asked. “I doubt that.”
“We had two failed attempts before you,” Thea reminded her. “Penn saved Aggie’s blood in a jug, because she knew we only had one siren that we could get blood from. But she was more wasteful with the humans. She knew she could always get more. So she took what she needed, then left them, and when the girls died, she needed more blood and a new boy.”
“So you didn’t eat them?” Gemma asked.
“No, Penn doesn’t like sharing anyway,” Thea said. “And that’s fine by me. I prefer going after people that deserve it, not lovesick teenage boys.”
“You don’t have the right to decide who deserves it, though,” Gemma insisted. “You don’t get to decide who lives and dies. You don’t get to play God.”
“People decide who lives and dies every day,” Thea said flatly. “And in the end, it doesn’t matter if you agree with what we do or whether you think it’s right. I do what I need to do to survive, and you will, too.”
“Am I interrupting girl talk?” Lexi asked, appearing in Gemma’s doorway.
She leaned back against the doorframe, arching her back a little. She’d changed, so she was wearing a white nightie now, and her long blond hair hung down, covering up her chest in a way the fabric didn’t.
“No, Gemma was just getting some rest,” Thea said, and stood up.
“I just thought I’d let you know that you’re in big trouble, Gemma.” Lexi laughed when she said it, a strange flirty giggle.
“I’m in trouble?” Gemma sat up a little, propping herself on her elbows.
“Sawyer just called Penn, and cops are swarming the alley,” Lexi said. “They found the body.”
“What does that mean?” Gemma asked, feeling a new fear at possibly getting caught.
She didn’t exactly want to get away with murder. On one hand, she thought getting arrested might be the best thing to happen to her, because then she couldn’t hurt anybody else. But on the other hand, getting life in prison would be really terrible if she lived forever.
“Nothing.” Thea shook her head. “Penn and Sawyer will take care of it. It’s just more work for them. That’s all.”
“And Penn hates extra work,” Lexi said, smiling down at Gemma. “But that’s not the only reason you’re in trouble. Penn found out about your little make-out session with Sawyer today.”
“Lexi,” Thea groaned, and started pushing Lexi out of the room. “Just leave her alone. She needs to rest.”
“She called me a psycho!” Lexi insisted as Thea forced her out of the room. “She can’t talk to me that way without getting in trouble!”
“Lexi, you are a psycho.” Thea shut the door behind her, but Gemma could still hear them talking outside the room. “And Gemma’s one of us now. You’ll just have to learn to get along with her.”
“She shouldn’t be making out with Penn’s boyfriends,” Lexi insisted, her voice getting quieter as she and Thea got farther away.