Tristan and Mary walked silently back to town, keeping a quick pace and kicking up dust as they went. Mary felt like she was covered in a film of dirt by the time the city began to grow larger in the distance.
Tristan: "They said if you were pure of heart, the judges would be favourable."
Mary: "Yes, I remember, but what is that supposed to mean? I'm not perfect! Nowhere near it!"
Tristan: "Nobody is. I'm sure you don't have to be. I think it means you have to be true to your heart."
Mary: "I am true to my heart!"
Tristan: "Are you?"
Mary: "How could I be any other way?"
Tristan sighed and sat down on a barrel a few feet from the road.
Tristan: "You're kidding, right?"
Mary: "Of course I'm not."
Tristan: "So you were being true to your heart when you slept with Chris?"
Mary: "Hell's bells, does everyone know about that?"
Tristan: "Yes. James is my best friend, and it hurt him."
Mary: "Like hell it did."
Tristan: "You don't understand him."
Mary: "Let me guess. James, who has slept with every woman with the right measurements, every adoring bubble-headed fangirl, is madly in love with me, the one woman he can't have?"
Tristan: "Well, not precisely..."
Mary: "I thought not. Life isn't a romantic comedy. I suppose that's why there's such a market for them."
Tristan sighed heavily and stood up. He began pacing the road, deep in thought, not speaking for several minutes as Mary watched.
Tristan: "This isn't about James."
Mary: "Well, duh."
Tristan: "It's about you. All of this. I can't conceive of half the things we've seen, even though they seem to make small bits of sense in hindsight. So this isn't about James or how he feels about you or anyone else. It's about you and how you feel."
Mary: "No, it's about Emily and how she feels."
Tristan: "Listen! Do you bloody well see Emily anywhere? I certainly don't. This is your afterlife, Mary, and you're the one who's going to have to face up to it and navigate our way through it if we're to have any hope of finding Emily and her afterlife. I'm just a fixture. A useless fucking fixture. Emily isn't here. Can't you see that? Can't you feel that?"
Mary: "Of course I can! But I don't know what the fucking hell to do about it!"
Tristan: "You have to stop taking us around in circles! You have to stop thinking about what you'd do if you were Emily, and simply start thinking about what Emily would do. And yes, there's a difference. But before we can even get there you have to be yourself so that we can get the hell out of your afterlife."
Mary: "Well that's just brilliant! You know what? The next time we go to the Underworld, we're killing you off so that I can scream and rant at you about honesty! You're such a fucking hypocrite!"
Tristan: "What the hell is that supposed to mean?"
Mary: "Exactly what I said! Here you are, so obviously in love with my best friend, and what do you do? You run away. And then you come back. With another woman!"
Tristan: "That's different."
Mary: "Really. Please, enlighten me as to me how things work on your home planet."
Tristan: "Emily had a boyfriend!"
Mary: "Great, let me translate that into my native tongue... oh, yes, I've got it, 'I'm a pussy'."
Tristan: "Me?! What about you?"
Mary: "What about me? I've been trying to break the two of them up since they started."
Tristan: "Maybe if you'd left well enough alone we wouldn't have to be here! Emily would have had a friend to go to. Someone to listen, someone to be supportive."
Mary: "Right, so this is all my fault? Why don't you talk to your best friend about it, who was last seen in Emily's bedroom while she was in her underwear, telling her how beautiful she is!"
Tristan glared at Mary sharply before slapping her hard across the face. Mary brought one hand to her cheek, which was already turning hot and red.
Mary: "You fucking hit me!"
Tristan: "Since you don't actually have a body down here, consider it a metaphorical slap in the face. I don't know what you think you saw, but that's not what happened. I know James. Above all, he's an honourable man."
Mary: "An honorable vampire, you mean."
Tristan: "I'm sorry, was he sucking her blood?"
Tristan: "Then I really don't see how that's relevant."
Mary: "Vampires are evil!"
Tristan: "And so are Republicans. Still not relevant."
Tristan: "Look, this is getting us nowhere. Let's just head into town and face our doom."
Mary: "Sounds like a plan to me."
They resumed walking back to town in silence. Every time Tristan glanced at Mary, she had the same look of determination and anger on her face. He felt hopelessly lost, stuck in her world and completely powerless. And then he realized that the look he had been mistaking for determination on Mary's face was actually one of frustration.
Tristan: "Mary, why did you sleep with Chris?"
Mary: "I don't see how that's any of your business."
Tristan: "Just humour me. Try to be honest and let's see if that gets us anywhere. For Emily."
Mary: "Because I could, that's why."
Tristan: "You left to kill him, and you end up in bed with him. So who won the fight?"
Mary stopped in her tracks.
Mary: "I did. Obviously. And don't make it into some sort of weird immoral thing. It's not like he didn't enjoy himself."
Tristan: "Oh yes, I'm sure it was better than being turned to dust."
Mary: "Fuck you. You don't know what you're talking about."
Tristan: "Of course I don't! You don't make any damn sense! Vampires are evil, but you can go to bed with them. But only the really, really evil ones. The good ones, the ones who are actually trying to help you, well those you have to treat like dirt! If all of this is about your heart, then what about love? Who is it okay to love? Are you even capable of it?"
Mary: "Obviously not! Love is... it's overlapping with someone. I don't overlap. You overlap with someone and they suck the life right out of you, and then you can't protect yourself from anything or anyone. Case in point: Emily. Remember her? The whole reason we're here?"
Tristan: "Of course I do! Why do you think I'm beating my head against a wall trying to talk to you?"
Mary: "Right. Got it."
Tristan: "Mary, I didn't mean..."
Mary: "Yes you did. It's okay. We're on the same side. It doesn't matter. Let's just do what we came here to do. For Emily."
Tristan: "It would probably sound a little hollow if I chose now as the time to tell you how much you mean to her, wouldn't it?"
Mary: "Yes. Save it. Let's go find the Truth. I hear it's out there."