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Everything Isn't Enough

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Diana Wrayburn was left in charge of the Los Angeles Institute for the weekend. The Institute’s normal heads, Helen and Aline Penhallow-Blackthorn, had gone on a short trip with the Consul and his husband. The majority of Helen’s younger siblings were also away from the Institute. Mark away in Faerie with Cristina Rosales and Kieran Kingson. Drusilla in Idris studying at the Shadowhunter Academy. And Tiberius, far away in the Carpathians, at the Scholomance. Julian and Octavian were still in L.A. Tavvy, still being under the age required to patrol, remained at the Institute with Diana while Julian and his former parabatai, now girlfriend, Emma Carstairs were on patrol duty for the night. 


It was a normal night. Patrol nights had been slow recently, so the two were perfectly fine with going by themselves. Also, they were Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorn. The two were basically legends at this point. They had been transformed into True Nephilim not even two years ago and lived through it. The two were the dream team. They were damn near unbeatable. That’s what everyone believed, at least.


“Think it’ll be a slow night, Em?” Julian asked. The two had just begun their drive into the city, Julian watching the road and Emma the sensor. They did not expect to see anything out of the ordinary. Because shifts normally alternated, Diana had briefed them on Mark and Cristina’s patrol from last night. No irregular activity had been noticed.


“If it’s slow we can always drive down to the beach,” Emma answered. “We’ll have time.” And just as expected, they did just that. After about an hour and a half of no problems or run-ins with a demon, the pair decided to take their patrol to a place with a better view of the sunset.


“Should we text Diana to get the “Okay?” Julian inquired, knowing that Emma had no intention of playing it safe. 


“Jules we are adults,” Emma replied. “Plus it’s a slow night, I doubt she’ll even care. I’ll bring the sensor and my phone, just in case.” Emma was aware that anything could happen, they were Shadowhunters, she needed to be prepared for anything. 


What they weren’t prepared for though, was a nest filled to the brim with Scorpio demons. They walked down the beach, hand in hand, weapons ready, if necessary. However, as the made their way further down the beach, Emma noticed that the sensor in her pocket was becoming warm. 


“Jules,” She said. “Be on guard, the sensor is heating up.” He looked at her and nodded, now being made aware of a potential threat, his attitude was immediately shifted. 


“How close?” He asked.


“Not sure.” 


“Emma! Watch out!” Julian yelled. It was only at this moment that he had become aware of the presence of a looming Scorpio demon. Julian, drawing a seraph blade and calling out “Gabriel!” with great force as he prepared to face off the demon. Emma, drawing Cortana, silently moved to flank him. The demon, yellow eyes narrowed to slits hissed, revealing its needle-like teeth. This was the moment the battle calm descended in one swift motion. The rest of the world fell away, becoming distant and insignificant in the face of this hulking, bestial threat. 


The demon was the first to lunge, moving as quickly as a blur, barbed tail whipping and spearing towards Emma. She barely managed to dodge, avoiding the needle-like tail. Julian darted forward, then, using the seraph blade to cut deep into the demon’s side, causing a spray of ichor that spattered over Julian. Contact with the liquid made his skin burn. The demon hissed louder, lunging backward before moving with lightning quickness towards Emma. But this time, she was ready, dodging the moving demon and sinking Cortana deep into the demon’s side, killing it in a single fatal stroke. The demon sunk to the ground, disintegrating into nothing. 


Julian exhaled deeply, waiting as the rest of the world came into focus again. Turning towards Emma, Julian’s euphoric feeling of victory faded unbelievably quickly. Emma had sunk to the ground and was clutching her side tightly, her face contorted in pain. Julian dropped the seraph blade to the ground with a clatter, rushing to her side. “Emma!” he shouted. Bending over her, he inhaled sharply at the sight of the vicious stab one penetrating Emma’s side.


“It stabbed me right before I killed it… I didn’t realize it until it was gone.” Emma whispered her face was drawn and pale, the mere act of talking seeming to drain everything from her. 


“Hey hey hey Em stay with me. Stay with me, you’re not dying here.” Julian whipped out a stele, drawing an iratze on her as quickly as possible. The rune faded into her skin, and both anxiously waited for the injury to vanish or at least get milder in some way. When the wound continued to bleed and Emma doubled over wincing, it was clear the rune hadn’t worked. What’s going on? This isn’t normal. Julian’s mind was racing, panic beginning to take over.


Emma was fading fast; it was clear, the poison that had been in the demon’s tail consuming her from the inside out. It feels like fire in my veins. she thought as she faded in and out from consciousness. “Julian, what’s going on?” She managed to say before passing out again.


“No no no no no no Emma hold on please hold on. Don’t leave me now.” Julian begged, tears streaming down his face. Helplessness nearly crippled him at that moment, drowning him in a wave of infinite blue-black darkness. “Help! Somebody, please! Help me!” Julian shouted. Yelling to the angel, praying that he was being heard, but knowing even as he spoke that it was hopeless. They were alone, and beyond help at this point. Emma was convulsing at this point, violently shaking and shivering. Julian frantically drew more iratzes on her, dozens more, hand flying in desperate gestures. But as each one faded, his remaining slivers of hope faded, leaving him cold and empty. 


“Jules,” Emma whispered faintly in a raspy whisper. “I love you.” 


“Oh, my Emma. I love you too.” Their eyes met in that moment, and only a few moments passed before Julian was forced to witness the life vanish from behind her eyes. Her soul, her spirit, her life, everything that made Emma Emma quietly vanished, leaving behind nothing but an empty shell. At that moment, Julian’s heart splintered into pieces and he sobbed. Gripping Emma tightly, Julian sobbed as his very being broke to pieces with grief and sadness and regret and every other possible feeling. 


Have you ever seen the light leave someone’s eyes? Julian had seen it happen more times than he’d care to remember. The moment when you look into a person’s eyes and you know their heart has stopped beating. He had watched some of his closest relatives pass before his eyes. He had looked his father in the eyes as his soul left his corrupted body. He had watched his precious sister’s life be taken away far too soon.


But this? This was infinitely worse. The knowledge that not only was she dead, he had done nothing but sit and watch. All of his efforts seemed so pointless now, insignificant. His Emma’s last words echoing in his mind. Jules. I love you. And he loved her. So much, more than anything he could possibly dream of. For years, she was what kept him grounded. She was what his life was centered around. She had gone from being his first love to being his forbidden love. But that never stopped either of them. Julian had lived silently in love with her for years until their curse was broken. Then, finally, he went back to being his Emma. He would have done everything for her. But now, everything wasn’t enough.


I should have done something else, something more. I could have saved her. If I could have done something better, she would still be here. Julian sobbed to himself, folding inwards under the weight of crushing guilt and grief. Why am I so helpless? Why didn’t I do something, anything else? Em, I am so sorry. I will be sorry until the day I die, and it will never be enough. Because I couldn’t save you, or anybody else.