A Human in the I Taskforce?! I don't think so - 9

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I was getting too involved with this situation; I was going to have to get out of here soon. No. I couldn't just leave the hostages here and risk them because I was being weak.

"You want to go home?" he asked me, raising an eyebrow.

"I can't do this," I stood up quickly, spinning on my heel to leave. I still wasn't sure if I was acting or really leaving when Azel caught my arm.

"Victoria?" his voice was serious. "Are you serious."

"I-" have no idea how to answer that question. Damn this all.

"All you have to do is help us," his other arm slowly rested on my shoulder, gently turning me around to face him. I forced myself to stay relaxed, to not react. I was still having a mental war about all of this. "Don't you miss it Victoria? That crimson sky and the obsidian streets? The spacious mansions out in the middle of nowhere abandoned when we drove the angels out. That stunning place free of wretched humans or self obsessed angels."

"Yeah," my voice was weak. "Yeah I miss it."

"Then help me," he was pleading, right down to the depths of his eyes. "Help us get home."

"Okay," I looked straight into his eyes. "I can make them do it. release all but three hostages and I can make them set up a temporary portal. When you let the last three hostages run for the door we can use energy to strengthen the portal, then use it."

My head was spinning so fast I thought I would pass out. Fear and pain thudded dully in my chest with every heartbeat. I wanted to go home, I knew that, but I couldn't. I just couldn't. Still, I knew this plan would work. I could go home... I really could. No. Stop thinking like that. Still, when the time came and that portal was in front of me, I didn't know what I would do.

Three hostages were picked at random from the shaking group and the rest were lead to the door, with me at the front. I had to go back to the limo now and convince Matt to make the temporary portal. I knew he would though. My plan was flawless.

Twenty minutes later I was walking back into the warehouse with a black orb in my hand. I was right, this plan was flawless. Now came the hard part. I have to convince myself to seal the portal after the hostages were safe and before Azel went through. No, I really had to convince myself to not push him out of the way and run through.

Damn this.

I was met with smirking triumphant smiles as I held the orb up and it started to glow with that mystifying black light. The last three hostages were forgotten about as they sprinted to the door. Seal it now. Seal it. Come on Victoria seal it. You left that place, you can't go back, they wouldn't want you back there now. You left them, they don't want you back...

I don't care... I don't care if no one welcomed me on the other side of the portal, if I was only met with cold stares and behind my back whispers. I wanted to go home. I wanted it with a longing that constricted my chest and made every rib ache.

Azel took a step towards the swirling vortex that leaked from the orb. I could almost feel the cool air from hell drifting through. I took a deep breath of the familiar sent that came with it. It was so perfect... so familiar... I took a step towards it.

No.

Stop it Victoria, remember what they did to you.

The portal collapsed milliseconds before the rest of my team stormed the doors. Azel stood staring at the empty space where the portal was for a long minute while he was surrounded. Then he turned and stared at me, no hate, just a bottomless pain. It twisted my heart.

"That was cruel Vicky," he said quietly. "If you were going to do that, you shouldn't have opened the portal at all."

Then he looked deep into my eyes, like he was searching for something. Suddenly he laughed, a low and depressed sound. His friends were all knocked unconscious with the special forces stun-guns, but Azel just stared at me. He didn't even seem to realize that the entire taskforce was surrounding him.

"You're not such a good little actress," he laughed, looking more like his dreams had been crushed than anything less. "You weren't even acting were you Vicky? You really wanted to go home."

I stiffened. Idiot, now everyone knows. No, that didn't really matter to me in that moment. In that moment, I just had to get out, get outside and stare at the stars. I had to be alone. I just gave up my third chance at getting home.

The first time it had been easy to refuse my mother's begs for me to return home, second there was that portal in Renaissance Italy. I'd come very close to going home then, but I didn't. Now this mission. Maybe I really was supposed to go home; God only knows how much I want to go home...

I handed Matt the orb and walked outside, flew to the top of the building and just lay there, staring at the sky. My brother once told me that when it gets dark enough, you can see the stars. Then again, the stars in hell are amber and the sky is red, but he was right.

The darker this world got around me, the brighter those irrelevant stars got.

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