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The Only

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He wonders about her often.

Leslie finds himself thinking about her more than he should. Or maybe just in the appropriate amount. It depends on who you ask.

He wonders what she's doing at the very moment. He wonders if she's heard of his great escape from the coroner's. He wonders if she is searching for him at this very moment. The bond between Survivor Girl and the person they run from is strong, he knows, but that strong?

He kind of hopes it is.

---

He leaves right after the big night - he has to.

He thinks that his first run was a good one. He did everything right - killed the stoners, the slut, the jocks, the random douche bag. Got Doc Halloran. Was "vanquished" by his Survivor Girl - his Taylor. He was glad it was her, too, instead of Kelly. There was just something so sweet and naïve about Taylor that he was drawn to.

But, then again, wasn't that the whole point of a Survivor Girl?

He escapes the morgue. Rises right off the autopsy table just as he's about to be cut open. His precautions have been carefully laid out, and his first night of killing is immaculate, perfect down to the very last detail.

Even the part when he almost died.

Actually, in some ways, that was the best part.

---

Leslie moves to a new town. Gets his roots down. Finds a large, old, rickety house that is doomed to be known as one of those houses - the kind that used to house a killer, the kind that people know to stay away from, and yet can't keep their eyes from lingering on…

He plants the Leslie Vernon story at the local library, and waits.

He gathers everything he needs. Pre-cuts the branches. Finds his way around the entire property, learning every nook and cranny, every speck of dust and piece of grime like his own scarred hands.

He manages to rig the cable in the living room and he watches the news each night.

Leslie tries not hope to see her face, in the center of the screen, looking so vulnerable and innocent and intelligent all at the same time, spinning her words around his killing spree. He tries not to imagine how she would word it, or what clothes she would wear, or if that camera guy he had managed to not kill was still with her…

The latter part kind of makes him jealous.

---

Finding a group of friends to stalk is harder the first time around. This time he actually has to find a group of girls with a pure, innocent virgin at their heart.

He tries out various schools - large ones, small ones, medium sized ones. There are always groups, but they all seem the same. The jocks, the Goths, the preps, the cheerleaders… None of them really pop at all, if he's truly honest with himself.

Then again, it is rare that a sequel will live up to its predecessor.

---

He finds a girl who isn't too bad. Her name is Jane, and she is the quintessential Survivor Girl. Virginal, pure, rejecting the advances of her boyfriend.

Perfect.

Except, not really.

Her hair is red and her eyes are brown and she is a cheerleader. She wears swooping skirts and low cut tops and likes to have her waist-length hair in a braid down her back.

He tries not to think of how he wishes she were a blonde, with crystal blue eyes and a sweet disposition. Tries not to wish that she were fond of sweaters with frayed sleeves and liked to have her hair untamed and down and loose around her shoulders.

He tries not to wish she were Taylor.

---

"It's perfectly normal," Eugene says over the phone, "to not get over your first. I didn't."

"Yeah," Leslie reasons, "but you ended up marrying her."

He can practically hear Eugene's shrug as he chuckles nervously.

It's quiet over the line, and all Leslie can think of is her.

---

"Leslie Vernon? What kind of name is that?"

A damn good one, he'll show them, just as he slices through their necks.

---

He prepares himself for the night.

He stalks Jane, follows to her workplace - a local bookstore - and makes sure to set the tone. Makes sure she knows she's being follow. That she's the one he's chosen, even though he just can't get over his first.

He tries something new. Kills one of her friends in her home, slicing through bone and tendon and screams. They find her that same night, and Leslie is proud of that at least, that his handiwork has gone noticed.

"You think," one of her guy friends says - the stoner of the group, named Greg, "that maybe it's that Vernon guy? She was killed with a scythe."

Jane blanches. "There's no reason that he would - there's no proof that he exists."

He can't wait to prove them wrong.

---

Not a lot of time passes until one of Jane's jock friends - Matthew, he believes his name is - tells them they should go hang out at the old abandoned house on the hill one night. It's cold and dingy and there's a fresh coating of snow on the ground.

Nice, Leslie thinks. A great contrast to what was before.

They set the date. On a weekend, of course, and he finds that his bones feel like they have electricity running through them, as if the very marrow themselves is able to carry a strong current of the stuff.

He finds himself sharpening his scythe and waiting.

Waiting for what, he isn't sure, but he can't wait for his original anymore.

He has to go ahead with the sequel.

---

They drive two cars to the ancient, rickety house. More tires to slash, but other than that, Leslie is unperturbed.

He waits.

---

The first of her friends goes down without problem.

It is an easy kill, almost too easy in it's clichéd manner.

He's voiced the words, "I'll be right back," and moved to out to the cars to grab the six-pack of beer he left there.

Leslie stabs him through the chest with the handle of a nearby shovel.

---

He takes down two friends at the same time. The jock, Matthew, and his Goth girlfriend, Elisa. They've left the group to go get busy in one of the upstairs bedrooms, and Leslie is there waiting.

He slices them up, takes his time. Cuts their throats first so that their screams don't notify the rest of their clan. The gurgling sounds of terror are music to his ears.

Their blood coats the sheets as it does his hands.

Three down.

---

He leaves the bodies so that they are easily discovered.

Leslie waits until they are found before he strikes again. It's another one of Jane's promiscuous friends that he kills next, blonde and buxom and just so stupid, stabbing through her chest with one of those large, obscene butcher knives.

He hangs her body on the chandelier.

---

Greg is next. The stoner, the must-kill of any self-respecting icon.

He goes off outside, still wanting to light up even when people are dying around him.

Leslie shoves the lit object down his throat before he strangles him.

---

Only two left - Jane herself and her best friend, a geeky horror-buff named Cal.

He smashes Cal's head with an ashtray, sending glass shards into his skin while Jane screams. Cal stumbles around, blinded, before ending up directly in Leslie's murderous arms.

His hands find Leslie's mask and pull down, revealing the mad, contorted face of a murderer, focusing on the task at hand. Cal can't see - Leslie believes some of the glass has cut his eyes - and Leslie only growls and places his mask back.

He snaps Cal's neck. Quick. Effortless.

Jane continues screaming and runs upstairs.

Typical.

Her skirt tears on a nail sticking out from one of the rickety doorframes. She runs straight into the room with the open window and the cut branches peeking through, just waiting for some unknowing person to take hold.

She does.

And this isn't how it's supposed to go. His Survivor Girl isn't supposed to die like this - sure, Kelly did, but she wasn't the one anyway. That honor went to Taylor.

So Jane tries - and fails - to escape, clinging to the branches that break under her weight, sending her falling to the ground below where she dies from a crushed skull. Déjà vu settles into his bloodstream.

"No!"

But that's not his voice crying out. It's someone familiar. So familiar, in fact, that it gets his heart beating furiously in his chest, sends pleasant chill bumps down his arms.

He turns and finds himself face-to-face with her. His Survivor Girl. His Taylor Gentry.

She's holding a gun in her shaking, small hands, her eyes wide and bright with fright, mouth trembling.

Now this is unexpected, but in a good way. He feels the charge he gets from killing leave his body, replaced with a strange kind of elation. This is it. It's almost like being fed hamburgers from a cheap fast food restaurant his whole life and then finally being able to have filet mignon. The contrast is crippling in the best of ways.

Behind the mask, he feels a smile overtake his face.

His murderous mind has been thrown off guard, and the character drops, leaving simply Leslie behind, standing in his old overalls and raggedy, dirty shirt, scythe in hand. He sticks his fingers into the eyeholes of his mask and pulls upward. Brown eyes meet blue and…oh, it really has been so long.

She looks taken aback by the look on his face. Her breaths are coming out ragged and unsure and her fingers twitch on the gun. She could kill him now, but she doesn't.

She hesitates.

He feels like he hasn't talked to anyone in the longest time, so his voice is raspy when he says, simply, "Hey."

Taylor stiffens, her tiny shoulders tensing as she tries to keep herself under control. He watches as she shifts from one foot to the other. "I have to stop you."

"You've been following me?" He's touched.

"D-Don't…flatter yourself."

"But you have."

She sets her jaw, eyes him up and down. "You can't keep doing this, Leslie."

Oh, how he loves it when she says his name.

He can't shake how the parallels have lined up. The smile grows larger over his face as he says, "So you're my Ahab now?"

The ghost of a smile twitches her face, "Survivor Girl, Ahab…whatever you want to label me as."

"You're my girl," he says, his voice raw and rough and he doesn't imagine the lovely pink blush on her cheeks.

"You've obviously found another one," she nods her head toward the window, where Jane's lifeless body lies beneath the tree, amongst the fallen branches. "I'm here to end it. All of it. You won't be hurting anyone else. No more Survivor Girls necessary."

"She wasn't you," he says. "You're the only one, Taylor."

She closes her eyes, looking to be fighting some internal battle. "I have to kill you."

A bitter, twisted smirk overtakes his face now. He drinks in all of her - the black, slightly faded sweater, baggy jeans, the unkempt blonde hair and the determined blue of her stare. He's missed her so much more than he originally thought.

"I know," he says, smiling.

She shoots and misses. He's too quick for her, tackling her and pinning her down. She kicks him in the shin and rolls over on top of him. He feels the momentary shock of being in pain - none of his victims tonight had even laid a hand on him - and looks up at her. She's straddled his waist and is pointing the gun directly between his eyes. Leslie forces himself to ignore how pleasant this feels. He allows her to think she has the upper hand for the briefest of moments before they roll over again and she knocks her head against the wall.

Taylor groans as she presses a pale hand against her head. There's a small cut where her hairline meets her forehead, and the red mixes with the blonde, creating something that is morbidly beautiful.

He wraps his hands around her throat and her eye widen as he tightens his grip. He doesn't want to kill her, of course, but this is the appropriate dance for the two of them. Circling each other like predators and attack, attack, attack.

Taylor knees him in the gut and he tumbles off her. She gets to her feet just as he is struggling to his own. She stumbles a bit and finds the gun, aims it at his chest, and fires.

Leslie takes the bullet - it's how things must go, after all - and falls out the open window, landing further than what Jane had managed on her failed escape attempt.

He slows his breathing, making sure that she can't see his chest moving up and down, up and down, makes sure his eyes are closed and that he looks appropriately dead.

He knows Taylor peeks out at him at one point, and she shoots him again, hitting him in the stomach.

Bulletproof vests are a lifesaver - literally.

He lowers himself into an unconscious state, a meditative state, just like Eugene had demonstrated.

And then the cops are called, but not before he vaguely sees Taylor at his side, looking strangely distraught with tears clouding her sky-colored eyes.

---

He escapes from the autopsy room, yet again. Really, when will these people ever learn? Leslie Vernon is a legend now, just like the greats, and when he leaves the morgue he is proud, holding his head high, knowing that Taylor will find out about this.

She's his Survivor Girl and his Ahab all rolled into one, and that will be the one thing that keeps her joined with him.

Leslie feels elated for the first time in a long time, knowing that she will always come back to him.

---

"I told you she'd come back, son," Eugene says over the phone later on, after Leslie has been relocated once more. "They always do. Can't stay away."

Leslie hears Jamie in the background, protesting lamely.

And the words reassure him, let him realize what he'd known all along.

He and his Survivor Girl - his Taylor - are linked.

Permanently.

---

It's during his next kill cycle when he sees her again.

He's murdered yet another group of unwilling teens. He doesn't even need to plant the story any more. His star has risen through the ranks, now being mentioned with the greats of the field, and it is harder now to stay hidden.

"I thought I killed you," she says.

She has no weapon, no backup, and he has blood on his hands, fresh from his kill. His latest Survivor Girl is no where to be found and she is all he sees.

Leslie feels a smile form on his face - she seems to have the power to break him out of his murder-induced trance.

She's standing her ground, and he clearly sees that she has no weapon whatsoever in her hands. This reassures him, but also makes him wonder. He digresses - whatever she has in her arsenal, he'll be able to counter. He's that prepared and confident in his abilities, though he is no supernatural being like Jason or Michael.

He removes his mask once he's close enough, and he can see the trembling breath that fogs out in front of her.

"You can't get rid of me that easily. You know that."

And he presses his lips against the crown of her forehead just as her fingers curl around the knife hidden in her belt.

The dance continues, and Leslie couldn't be happier.

One day - yes, one day - there will be no more dancing, and the two of them can just be.

Until then, though, this is all they have.