NIGHT OF AUGUST 4 & 5
Call to Arms Daytime
The Morning After 3:00 p.m.
Back to the Shadows 4:00 p.m.
Message Late Day
Say What? 4:30 p.m.
Secret Agent Man 5:00 p.m.
Strange Happenings Sunset (8:30)
This is the Modern World 8:30 p.m.
Blessed is 8:35 p.m.
Princes 8:45 p.m.
Come Out, Come Out 9:00 p.m.
Continuing Adventures 9:00 p.m.
Children of Darkness 8 – 9:00 p.m.
The Lull Before the Storm 9:15 p.m.
Operator 9:20 p.m.
Where’s Elmo 9:30 p.m.
Reluctant to Fly 9:30 p.m.
Waiter 9:35 p.m.
Spirit in the Sky 9:45 p.m.
We Gotta Get Out 9:45 p.m.
I Think, parts 1-3 9:50 p.m.
Space Oddity 9:55 p.m.
I Think, part 4 nonlinear
Coffee, Comraderie & Confrontations 10:00 p.m.
Ground Zero 10:30 p.m.
Meanwhile 11:00 p.m.
Coffee, part 2 11:00 p.m.
All Trussed Up 11:45 p.m.
A Deep Breath 12:00 a.m.
Waiting to Exhale 12:05 a.m.
Appearances 12:05 a.m.
Crusade 12:30 a.m.
Suffer the Children 1:00 a.m.
My Whole World 1:20 a.m.
A Chance Encounter 1:30 a.m.
A Sound that Could Kill 2:00 a.m.
Many are Called 2:45 a.m.
A Deeper Betrayal 3:00 a.m.
Restraint 3:00 a.m.
Payment 3:15 a.m.
When the Spell is Broken 3:30 a.m.
Will the Real Joe 3:35 a.m.
Stowaway 3:45 a.m.
Ties of Blood and Water 3:45 a.m.
Judas 4:00 a.m.
Death Enters, part 1 4:10 a.m.
Something’s Happening Here 4:10 a.m.
Death Enters, part 2 4:15 a.m.
Nite Crawler 4:25 a.m.
Again with the Judas 4:30 a.m.
Enter Stage Left 4:45 a.m.
Stand Back 4:55 a.m.
Nth 0 5:00 a.m.
Lions & Tigers & Bears 5:00 a.m.
Salvation in a Dark Corner 5:00 a.m.
You Haven’t Seen 5:10 a.m.
Nth 1 5:10 a.m.
Violence of Dawn 5:15 a.m
Phone Call o’ Doom 5:15 a.m.
Delusions of Reality 5:15 a.m.
Doom, 2 5:20 a.m.
It Ain’t the Hilton 5:30 a.m.
All Good Children 5:30 a.m.
Here Comes the Sun 5:35 a.m.
BBQ (not!) 5:40 a.m.
Java Jive 5:45 a.m.
Call to Arms
“What’s this?” Buffy looked at the envelope Giles handed her.
“It’s a ticket to Toronto, Canada.”
Buffy looked at Giles with her patented teenage‑excuse‑me look. “Why?”
“It seems you might be needed.”
“Whoa, back up a bit. Vampires in Toronto?” Buffy shook her head.
“It seems there is a crisis of epic proportions brewing in Toronto. This will make the Harvest look tame,” he replied.
“And I’m to skip school just to run up there and kill the nasty things?”
“Yes. But I will warn you. There are some very different vampires in Toronto. Not all are a threat to the humans.”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “And I can tell the difference?”
Giles nodded “Yes. In fact one the less harmful ones, a Nick Knight requested your services.”
“When do I leave and how do I meet with this harmless vampire?”
“I’ve arranged a school trip for you. You need to meet Detective Knight at a club called the Raven. He has arranged for you to get in.”
“Cool. When do we leave?”
“Right now is good,” Giles gathered up his things. “We can stop by your house and give you a few minutes to pack.”
The Morning After
by Trapper & Evie
The door to the loft banged open, and Evie and Duncan bounced in, looking decidedly smug.
Evie was holding two lattes in travel cups. “Hi, honey! We’re home! I’ve brought coffee!”
Nick came down the stairs from the bedroom in a bathrobe, looking more than a little rumpled.
“My, my,” Evie said, trying very hard to suppress a giggle. “Don’t we look . . . rested?”
Nick raised one eyebrow and tried to glare.
Duncan sat on the back of the couch and opened his coffee. “So, we’ve come to collect Trapper. I hope she’s not in the same shape as you are.” He looked again at Nick. “If she is, I think we’re going to be here awhile.”
Nick tried to smooth his hair, and glanced uncomfortably upstairs. “Well, she’s partly dressed, but. um . . . well, you might want to come back later.”
“Why?” Evie asked, too innocently. “Have we interrupted?”
“Ah, no. Trapper just, well, hasn’t exactly eaten yet today.”
“This is news? She NEVER eats before at least two in the afternoon.”
“Uhh . . .” Nick began.
A black and gold comet suddenly dove from the upstairs, and made straight for Evie!
“Um, Traps? Here’s your coffeeEEEEEE!”
The cup was snatched from her grasp. Fangs tore through the thin plastic top, and she lifted the cup to drain the contents, growling deep in her throat. “Ah, a triple tall latte with extra foam.”
“Trapper, the lid IS removable.”
Trapper put the cup down and began to lick the foam off her upper lip. Her eyes slowly returned to their usual brown. “Hey, hi, guys!”
“Hmm,” Duncan mused. “Gives new meaning to the phrase, Got Milk?, doesn’t it?”
Evie gave Trapper an evaluating stare. “Well,” she concluded, “It could be worse.”
Duncan stared at her, disbelieving. “How?”
Evie continued, completely unfazed. “I once knew a woman who used to scream and bang her head on the wall, speaking in tongues whenever she had sex.” Trapper looked up at her, uncomprehending. “No, really,” Evie said, crossing her arms, “I’m serious, man. Being a vampire is better.”
She looked at Trapper. “So is there, like, something you want to tell me?”
Nick was muttering to himself as he walked to the fridge. “Her first kill was coffee? I don’t get it.”
“Like what?” Trapper asked, all wide‑eyed and innocent.
“Gimme a break.” Evie rolled her eyes. “That has NEVER worked. You were NEVER innocent.” She took a swig of coffee. “Oh, I don’t know, Trapper. For starters, why are you dressed like . . . I dreamed I was brought across in my Maidenform bra? And would you stop staring at my mocha! This is my coffee ‑ mine!”
Trapper looked away. Nick’s coffee pot was on the counter, still with last night’s brew. Trapper switched it on to reheat it, paused to stroke the side of Nick’s face, and turned back to Evie. “Sorry about that.” She remembered to look down. “Oh, yeah. I had just picked up my shirt when you came in. I’ll go get it.” She went back up to the bedroom, using the stairs this time.
Nick began to raise the bottle to his lips, noticed Evie watching him, and sauntered nonchalantly over to the cupboard for a tumbler to pour his “Instant Breakfast” into. “So . . . um . . . I guess you want to know what we were doing.”
“Honey, I KNOW what you were doing,” Evie smirked, and Duncan looked away, wearing his best innocent expression.
Nick leaned on the fridge and put a hand to his face. “I know I really shouldn’t have brought her across . . . “
“Oh, like you could force Trapper? As if!” Evie said, and walked over to place a hand on his shoulder. “Don’t worry about it. Really. It’s not like she’s any different.”
Nick spun around to face Evie. “What do you mean? She’s a VAMPIRE, for God’s sake!”
“Yeah so? What’s the difference?” Evie walked back to the couch and sat. “Look, Nick, you figure it out: she dresses in black all the time, wears shades at all hours, wears number bazillion sunscreen if she’s outside in the day, doesn’t even LIKE daytime, and we’re talking Seattle here. It’s not like we’re living in the Banana Belt or something.” She paused to slug down a gulp of coffee. “This doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t even affect her holy objects. Her Gods are the Triad of Elephantine, commonly known as ‘The Addams Family of the Egyptian Pantheon.’ They’re a little different.”
Nick sat at the table, thinking. “What I really don’t understand about all of this, is how coffee could be her first kill. I can’t drink coffee.”
“Lots of people say that,” Evie reassured him. “Look, think of it as a Seattle thing. You drank her blood, which was probably pretty caffeinated by then, and then she took it back. Works for me.” She smiled. “She believes she can drink coffee. Maybe that makes all the difference.”
Nick looked over at her and, finally smiled. “I guess you’re right. But LaCroix is never going to let me live this down. He’s been after me to bring someone across for years, and I bring across someone who prefers coffee to blood.” He grinned ruefully and shook his head.
“Well, at least,” Evie snickered, “she prefers coffee when YOU’RE not around. From the look of you, it’s not like she’s had much time to drink anything else.”
Nick looked back at Evie with a thoroughly silly smile.
Trapper came down from the loft. “Well, I’m ready to go, I guess.” She walked to the coffee pot, poured a cup and gulped it down, snarling quietly. She walked back to Nick, who had gotten to his feet. “Later?”
Evie whispered to Duncan, “I sure hope she doesn’t do that every time we go to Starbuck’s.” Duncan snorted and elbowed her in the ribs.
Nick took her face in his hands. “Are you sure you’ll be OK outside? The sun’s not down yet. And if anything happened to you now..”
She silenced him with a kiss. “Sunscreen and a hat. I’ll be fine. Do you want us to swing back by, or just meet you at the Raven at 10?”
“Buffy and the crew are planning to show up around sunset. If teenagers don’t bother you, why don’t you swing back by, and we’ll all go down together.” He looked over at Duncan. “Where are they staying?” He looked back to Trapper. “I’d love the pleasure of your company again.”
“I’m sure we can work something out here. Evie and I had a fine time last night!” Duncan and Evie looked sidelong at each other, and promptly burst out laughing.
“Do you know what that was about?” Nick asked.
“Not a clue,” Trapper shrugged. She ruffled his hair. “Thank you.”
“Mmm,” he leaned over to kiss her.
“Whoa! That’s it. We’ll be downstairs, Traps. Don’t get carried away.”
Trapper and Nick waved and continued their long goodbye.
Back to The Shadows Again
by Trapper & Evie
Duncan, Evie and Trapper walked into the Raven. It was quiet in the heat of the late summer afternoon, and dimly lit, as usual. They found Miklos in the back, gathering up supplies to restock the bar.
“I take it you’re here to finish things, ladies?” he said without turning.
“Yes,” Evie said. “We want to get it done before the sun goes down.”
Miklos turned to look at them. Something felt odd to him, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on it.
Trapper spoke up. “Miklos, I don’t suppose you have any . . . espresso?” She took down her shades. Her eyes gleamed gold in the half‑light.
It occurred to the bartender that he had never seen her eyes before. This couldn’t be their normal color. “Certainly, if you wish. Just let me get this load to the bar.” He walked past them still looking rather puzzled.
They followed him back to the bar, and Trapper watched him intently as she replaced her sunglasses.
Evie looked at her friend. “Thank you. That still creeps me out a little.”
Miklos set the steaming cup on the bar. “Triple latte, extra foam.”
Trapper nodded, and grabbed the cup. Moments later, it returned to the bar, quite empty. “Thanks. You’ve no idea how much I needed that.”
“I think I’m beginning to,” Miklos said, as the light (strange as it was) began to dawn. “I’ll go make sure that your . . . subject is ready for you, on the roof.” He stared pointedly at Trapper. “Are you going out as well?”
Miklos turned, not waiting for an answer, and disappeared up the stairs to the roof.
Duncan hugged them both from behind. “I’ve got to go check on my people. You’ll be all right for now?”
“We’ll be fine,” Evie said. “I’ve got to move the van anyway, so why don’t we just meet you back at Nick’s around, oh, sunset?”
“That sounds good.” Duncan leaned over and kissed her. “Thanks for this morning.”
“Oh, thank you! I haven’t had that much fun in ages!” They both smiled, and he left.
Evie sighed contentedly. “That man sure knows how to handle his weapon.”
“Sheesh,” Trapper grimaced. “Ow!”
“What’s wrong, Traps?”
“Mm . . . I just bit my lip. Mmm . . . tasty.”
“Would you stop it? Now you “RE creeping me out!”
Trapper collapsed in giggles on the bar, just as Miklos called from the stairs. “He’s ready.”
“Coming!” Evie called back. “Well, let’s get this done.”
“I’m there,” Trapper said, suddenly grim. She cracked her knuckles ominously and they moved to the stairs.
They came out on the roof. There was quite a bit of shade by the doorway, but the sun was blazing everywhere else. Miklos pointed to a large cardboard box in the shadows. It seemed to be oozing something noxious at the bottom. “Can you handle it?”
“Definitely.” Trapper caught his eye as he headed for the stairs. “Could you call for a UPS pickup in oh, 20 minutes?” He nodded and continued down into the dark.
They sauntered over to the box. Evie kicked it. “Still in there, scumsucker?” A moan was heard in reply. “Good! Just want to make sure you’re awake for what comes next.”
Trapper reached in and hauled Lionel, or what was left of him, out of the box. He hissed. She dropped her shades for a moment, and, yellow‑eyed, hissed back, baring her fangs. He quieted instantly.
“L‑L‑Look,” he mumbled through his ravaged face. “What’ll it take? I can give you Horton! I can take you there! Just let me go! Please!”
“Thanks,” Evie said, “but, no thanks. We have much more reliable guides to get to Casa Loma.”
“Hey Trapper,” she said conversationally, as she pulled on her black leather gloves. “Have you ever disjointed a chicken?” She reached down and grabbed Lionel’s lower leg and pulled, twisting it deftly. The joint snapped and popped and the foot and shin twisted completely around as she wound the leg into the air and folded it back on itself. “So, how was that?” she asked him as he screamed weakly. “Did you do that to Dennis?”
“No,” Trapper replied, “they did this.” One by one, she ripped his fingers off, not bothering to use pliers. She preferred the ‘hands on’ approach. “Oh, that’s right. They left him his thumbs. Sorry.” She held them up and then tossed them onto the sunlit rooftop. They smoked and turned to ashy goo. “OK, you’re next, meat.” She turned from Lionel. “Evie, would you care to do the honors?”
“Oh, thank you so much, Trapper dear,” she said in a false British accent. “That would be simply smashing.” They tied a rope around Lionel’s throat, and Evie hauled him into the sun. He screamed as he burned, and tried to crawl for the shade. Each time he made it, Evie waited just until he’d stopped smoking, and then dragged him back out onto the scorching metal rooftop. Finally, after three or four times, she yawned and stood on the rope. “OK, I’m bored now. You can go to Hell, and wait for your buddies. They’ll be along real soon.”
It was only a few minutes until he stopped screaming and writhing. After that, it only took seconds for the body to disintegrate completely to ash, leaving behind scraps of cloth. Evie carelessly scooped ash and bone fragments into a special box they’d brought along. “They don’t need all of him, do they?” She and Trapper spontaneously broke into a chorus of “All of Me” as they scattered what little bit remained of Lionel, and dropped the scraps of UPS uniform into the box along with his ashes. Then they went downstairs for a drink.
EPILOGUE: “Life Is Like a Box of Chocolates”
It was still slightly before sunset. The nervous UPS driver placed the box in front of the forbidding doorway, and rang the bell. “Candygram for Mr. Horton,” she spoke into the intercom, and fled to the truck without waiting for a reply. An Immortal thrall opened the door and pulled the gaily wrapped package inside. He saw a UPS truck barreling away at breakneck speed.
Horton walked into the drawing room, where the package had been brought. “Now what do you suppose this is?” He opened the card. The cover read: “The Law of Three‑Fold Return applies. Whatsoever you do, will be returned to you threefold.” He shook his head, puzzled, and opened the card. As he read it, he began to grit his teeth.
“Dennis is dead,
You made us blue.
We give you back Lionel,
Wait until number two!”
“Old Horton, who liked giving lashes
Had his flunky deliver the gashes.
the girls had an itch
to say “Payback’s a bitch”
Now Lionel’s a small pile of ashes.”
Thinking of You,
Evie and Trapper
Horton hurled the card across the room and screamed in frustration. Every vampire and Immortal within hearing ran to hide. There was no telling what he’d do when he was like this. With fingers trembling with rage, he undid the red, red ribbon, and opened the lid of what appeared to be a gift box of chocolates. Inside each little fluted paper cup was an ashy body part.
Horton flung the box across the room, eyes golden with rage, snarling and snapping at the empty air. He threw back his head and screamed. He shrieked and smashed things. He hurled curses at the empty air. But all he heard in return was haunting laughter.
Kat was dreaming.
Having just entered the Raven, she was weaving her way through the crowd of mortals. She had a growing sense of undefined urgency; It compelled her forward, through the press of bodies. At the top of the small staircase, she searched the crowd below for something – someone. There he was at the bar.
Kat descended, and as she did, the crowd began to thin. When she reached the bottom there was no one left in the club except her and LaCroix. He held his hand out, beckoning her closer. The urgency was fading, replaced by a wave of love and admiration. The connection between them was strong. She could really feel it now. How could she have ever been in the presence of this powerful vampire and not known he was her creator?!
Around them the Raven was transforming. LaCroix no longer stood next to the mahogany bar, but a large stone slab. Tall white candles replaced the cocktail tables, casting an ethereal glow. The elder vampire looked essentially the same, but less jaded somehow. He reached up and touched her face.
She was in no pain, yet he pulled his hand away bloodied. LaCroix was so proud of her. She could see it in his eyes. He opened his mouth to speak.
All Around Toronto
Late Day/Early Evening
All the War folk got a mysterious message.
It read as follows:
Your presence is requested at the Raven for the evening of August 4.
Please be there at 10:00 p.m.
It was not signed.
Secret Agent Man
Her arm emerged from between the sheets. She was determined to end the disturbance and return to dreaming, post haste.
Finding the phone by touch, she rested her hand on top – waiting to see if it would stop ringing.
“All right already!” she groaned from under the covers. Kat grabbed the handset and pulled it to her.
“Kat here. Uh huh. That’s okay. Yeah? I’ll come down. Thanks.”
She clumsily replaced the receiver but did nothing to get out of bed. Being rudely awakened before sundown was harder on her than was staying up all day. Grrrr, she thought. I am definitely not an afternoon person.
Kat fetched her burgundy satin bathrobe from the chair in the corner and slipped it on. In the bathroom, she automatically wet a washcloth and began to rub at her cheeks. Looking up, she was surprised at what she saw. She checked the washcloth; It was clean, too. Putting her face right up to the reflective surface, she ran her fingers over her skin, searching. Searching for . . . what?
After backing away and shaking her head to clear it, she looked again to make sure she was halfway presentable. “Thank the gods for punk,” she mumbled, noting her attractive ‘bed head’ and smudgy eye make up.
She snagged the key, got on the elevator and rode it down to the first floor. When she stepped out into the palatial lobby, she received quite a few looks. Luckily she had the most prestigious accommodations in the city, or the Four Seasons might not be too happy to have her sort around. If they only knew! She laughed to herself.
“Psssst! Miss O’Neill!”
Clarence was motioning frantically to her from the concierge station. Kat acknowledged that she’d heard him and ambled over.
“I’m sorry I woke you, Miss O’Neill,” he whispered loudly. “But this seemed important, and you said . . . ”
“That’s okay Clarence,” she reassured him. “Whatcha got?”
He looked around anxiously before reaching slowly under the counter. His blatant attempt at stealth inadvertently caused her to look around, as well.
“There are two things, actually.” He clutched an envelope in one hand and a rectangular package in the other. “This was here when I arrived,” he said. He lay the envelope on the counter and pushed it toward her with his finger. “And this,” he added, holding up the box, “was just delivered by messenger.”
She had picked up the envelope and was waiting patiently for the next installment.
“It’s a videotape.”
Kat regarded him dubiously.
He shook the box.
She chuckled at his ingenious methods and took the package as he handed it to her. Reaching into the deep pockets of her robe, she fished out a few bills. Since the concierge seemed to like the ‘cloak and dagger’ element, she snuck it to him as she firmly shook his hand.
“Thank you, Clarence. I appreciate the quick work you made of the window upstairs, as well.”
He beamed, raising a finger to his lips, “Shhhhh.” Kat responded in kind.
She had almost reached the elevator when Clarence called out to her, “Miss O’Neill? I love your smoking jacket.” Kat turned and waved. As the doors began to close, she heard him add, “looks like something Hugh Hefner would wear.”
near sunset (8:30)
“Ma’am can I check your bags?”
Buffy cringed. “Do you have to?”
“I’m afraid so.” The customs official opened Buffy’s vampire kit. His eyes widened, and then he pulled out a stake. He looked at Buffy, frowned then pulled out a length of garlic. Then he turned and whispered to guy behind him. “If you will wait her for a minute.”
“We are so busted,” Xander groaned.
The customs guys reappeared, a Mountie in dress reds at his side. The Mountie scooped Buffy’s stuff back into the bag. “I’m Constable Benton Fraser, and I will be detaining you. Please follow me.”
He cut Buffy off. “Please follow me. And your friends.”
They followed Fraser through the checkout, and into the area beyond customs. “Umm, don’t you have a little room for us or anything?”
“Follow me, please.” He led them out of the door and to a waiting car. “Please get in.”
“Fraser, I can’t believe I came all the way from Chicago to pick up a bunch of teenagers.”
“Ray,” Benton hustled them into the back seat of Ray’s car.
“Nice dog.” Xander scratched Diefenbaker’s ears.
“He’s a wolf.”
Xander stopped scratching. “Oh.”
Ben took off his hat and smiled. “He won’t hurt you.”
“So, why are you picking us up? I thought Detective Knight was going to meet us?”
“Unfortunately, Detective Knight, is allergic to sunlight.”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Duh. Brain freeze.”
Xander spoke up, “What do you know about this Knight guy?”
“He is a good detective, and he is not your typical vampire.”
The car screeched to a stop. Ray looked at Fraser, his eyes practically bugging out of his head. “A what?”
“Ray, keep driving.”
“Your friend is a vampire?”
“Yes, but it’s supposed to be a secret.”
Ray started to drive again. “Great. A vampire. He’s probably like you, rescuing the downtrodden and all.”
“Yes, but I don’t…”
“Kill people and suck out their blood?” Buffy chimed in.
“Well, actually, Det. Knight drinks cow blood out of a bottle.”
“Really?” Buffy pondered that for a minute. A vampire that didn’t kill – a novel concept. “So there is more than one type of vampire?”
“Yes. I myself have encountered two distinct types.”
Ray made a hysterical laughing sound.
“Really?” Buffy leaned forward to talk to Fraser. They launched into a talk of the different types of vampires that each had run into.
“Hey Fraser. We’re here,” Ray broke into the bizarre conversation.
“Good.” Benton got out of the car and helped the teens out of the back. “Stay Dief.” The wolf dipped his head and slunk back into the car. They emerged into the loft a short time later.
“Welcome to Toronto.” Nick said and he got up from the couch and walked toward them. “Thanks Benton.”
“You are welcome. If you need me,” he handed Nick a card, “this is where we will be.”
“Welcome Buffy.” He flashed her one of his patented boyish smiles. “Let me take your stuff.” He reached for her vampire kit, then stopped at the reek of garlic. “I smell you’ve come prepared.”
“Always.” She was looking around the loft, taking in the place. “Nice digs for a bloodsucker.”
Nick winced. “I don’t kill for food.” He watched her as she examined his possessions. “I haven’t for a very long time.”
“That’s a bonus.” Buffy looked at him. “She what’s the deal? Why am I here?”
“We have a renegade vampire.”
This is the Modern World
Spooning a cold body was disconcerting yet oddly comforting at the same time. Kat snuggled closer. She realized how keenly she needed to be with her own kind and felt a wave of loss wash over her. Almost 800 years alone – it amazed her.
Vachon, awakened by the sunset and by Kat’s body, pulled her arm tighter across his chest. He couldn’t help but wonder about her. She was decidedly different from any woman he had ever known; The combination of her prowess and her naivete was compelling. Kat was a strange, fluctuating mixture of mortal and vampire.
He turned over slowly and drew her to him. The younger vampire was determined to lose himself in passion, to forget about the horror of the last few days, and the older vampire was more than happy to oblige him.
Although they had spent a considerable amount of time together yesterday, Kat had yet to partake of her lover’s blood. The reservations she had seemed ridiculous; She had bitten and drained thousands of men (and women) in her lifetime. But, somehow the act of drinking Javier’s blood felt like submission. It felt more like submission and loss of control, than did allowing him to drink of her. By returning the bite, by surrendering to the hunger in front of someone who truly understood, Kat felt she would be acknowledging something that she had purposely avoided admitting in her long, long life: She not only needed to drink blood to survive, to live forever – she adored it!
Purring lustily, Kat rolled onto the Spaniard. There were so many places to draw blood on the human body, she mused. She started to scoot down his body, thinking of the artery that runs along the inner thigh.
There was a rustling and then a thump as Kat’s rear end and the uneven bed surface caused something to fall onto the floor. She had only reached his belly button.
“Hmmm?” she asked, not really caring.
Vachon threw back the covers. “I said, ‘What was that sound?’.” They paused. He was waiting to hear it again and she was trying to jog her memory.
“Right!” Kat said, untangling herself. She hung over the side of the bed and retrieved the two pieces of mail from Agent Double-Oh-Zero downstairs.
Handing him the letter, she said, “Well, I already know this is a video.” She tore off the plain wrapper as she got off the bed. “You have to check this out,” she urged him excitedly to follow her.
In the sunken living room area of the penthouse there was a cream colored leather sofa, a coffee table and a few chairs. Kat placed Javier on the couch, sat beside him and reached for the remote control. She sat back, encouraging him to do the same. He still held the unopened letter in his hand.
She aimed the remote straight ahead and pushed one of its many buttons. Nothing happened. Kat smiled slyly at Vachon as if something had. Suddenly, on a smooth engine and greased hinges, a large video screen descended from the ceiling on the far side of the room.
“Not bad,” he conceded, a tiny smile beginning to form.
“Not bad. Not bad?!” She pressed another button and a tape slot appeared out of the top of the coffee table. He did his best to appear unimpressed by turning his attention to the letter, while she put the mysterious tape into the machine and fumbled with the controls.
Blessed is the Match
after sundown/8:35 p.m.
“Blessed is the match
Consumed in kindling flame.
Blessed is the flame
That burns in the secret fastness of the heart.
Blessed is the heart
With strength enough to stop its beating
For honor’s sake.
Blessed is the match
Consumed in kindling flame.”
She opened her eyes, and found herself looking up at the ceiling. Her back was pressed against the softness of a bed, and her many wounds were nearly healed. And yet the last thing she remembered was the screams of children.
She bolted upright in the bed, and looked around fervently for them. Naturally, they were nowhere to be found.
She climbed out of the bed and reached for the clothes that had been put out for her. With a twinge of anxiety, she noticed that they were white. Someone knew that she only wore white on deadly serious occasions. And she knew who that someone was.
She pulled the clothes on reluctantly, pleased that they at least covered her body. It wasn’t that she thought less would have been disgraceful, she just despised herself and her body so much that she wanted no one to see any of it.
She ventured out of the room, and walked cautiously down the hallway, until she heard the children again. She immediately started to run, her bare feet slapping against the floor as she ran.
When she came into the room, she stopped dead in her tracks. Saetere! She swore to herself.
The children were bound together, save one, who was in the middle of the room. And quite dead.
“No!” she screamed as she came forward, unthinking of any danger or traps. She cradled the child in her tiny arms.
“HA! You are so damn predictable it is pathetic!”
She turned with a snarl at the sound of that hated, familiar voice. “A child!? Have you run out of vampires and the rest of the lot, that you now prey on children?!”
August narrowed her eyes. “You can’t imagine what I will do!”
The child stirred in Hanna’s arms, and she looked down in horror as he opened his eyes. They bled blood tears, and when he opened his mouth to speak, his fangs were quite apparent.
“Bona Dea! How could you?” she screamed.
He looked up at her. “Mommy?”
She pulled him closer to her as she wept.
“Mommy? I’m hungry mommy.”
“Shh,” she whispered in his ear.
“Oh, mommy!” August jeered at her.
She didn’t listen. Didn’t want to. There were almost a dozen children here, and she knew what August had planned for them.
“You’re so smart, mommy! Now, you will buy your Achildren” some time, won’t you? You’re going to be a good girl, and do EX”CTLY everything I tell you to do. Or else, I will Embrace every last one of these little bastards!”
Her head came up. “You wouldn’t!”
“Oh, yes I would! And you know it! You will obey me, Hanna, because you know that if you so much as raise an eyebrow at me, I will Embrace every one of them! You will obey, and you will do it completely. Or they will suffer for it. Do you understand?”
She gritted her teeth together, trying to ignore her.
“I think you are starting to defy me. Oh, Horton! Come here, please!”
“NO! All right! I will do it!”
“Absolutely. If those friends of yours show up, and I tell you to rip them to pieces, you’ll do it, or these little bastards will P”Y!”
She hung her head in defeat. How could she say no, when the lives of innocent children were the price? “Yes.”
“No! I want to hear you swear it and mean it, you Saxon bitch!”
Her head came up, and for a brief moment, her eyes flashed. But she calmed herself, for the children. “In the name of Bona Dea, and by the blood of my people, my word is my bond. I submit to your will.”
August grinned fiercely. “Oh, that’s much better!”
Horton walked into the room and leered at Hanna. It was all she could do to keep herself from ripping out his throat.
“Tsk, tsk. None of that. You’ll learn to like Horton, pet. Or else.”
“Oh, come on!” Horton protested. “It can’t have been that easy!”
“I told you, Horton. You can torture her all you want, and she will deal with it, and maybe even die, without giving you the satisfaction of breaking her. But . . . if you threaten someone else, especially an innocent, like those little brats, she folds like a piece of paper.”
“HA! The weak are easy to break! Too bad, I was enjoying myself.” He looked at the fledgling boy. “Come on. You need to feed.”
“Mistress,” she begged in a quiet voice, “if it . . . pleases you . . . you have told me that the safety of the children is upon my shoulders. Therefore, it would not be correct to force Horton to . . . assume my burden. The child is my responsibility now. May I see to his needs?”
August stopped gloating for the moment. She knew she broke her, but she never expected her to . . . beg! She smiled evilly. “Oh, how right you are! Take care of your children, Mommy! And they’d better keep quiet, or I might think you are encouraging them to annoy me.”
“I will do as you say, mistress.”
And then August and Horton left her alone with the children. She nearly burst into tears, but the children needed her comfort now.
Biting into her wrist and making certain that none of the others could see, she let the fledgling boy drink his fill. When he finished, she licked her wrist, then made certain there was no blood on his face.
That done, she let him move out of her lap, then she turned to the others. They were still terrified, but they somehow knew, in a way, that she had given up her own life to save theirs. So they were not afraid of her.
“I know this is a very bad thing that is happening,” she started, trying to keep in mind that they were all only about five or six years old. “I promise I will not let anyone hurt you again. But you must do what I tell you. And I will do my best to take you back to your par . . . mommies and daddies. All right?”
They nodded, and she managed a half‑smile for their benefit.
One of them asked, “You’re mommy now?”
She shook her head. “Only if it makes you feel better. She said that only to be mean.”
“Why is she mean?”
“She does not like me.”
“Why not? You’re nice!”
Smiling again, she said, “Thank you. She does not agree. She is mad because I . . . have something she wants.”
“My husband’s love. She is jealous of that, so she hates me.”
They looked confused, and she knew that she was talking about things that had no meaning to them.
“Try it this way . . . it is like having an old toy that someone threw away because they did not want it anymore. You play with it now, and like it. And when they see that you like it, they decide they want it back. But they cannot have it, because it belongs to you now.”
“Oh, I get it!” the fledgling boy cried out, pleased with himself.
“Shhh!” the others whispered. “You’ll get her in trouble!”
“Oh.” He closed his mouth, looking quite sad.
“It is all right. I am not worried about getting hurt because of you. I worry about you getting hurt . . . because of me.”
She broke the chains that held them in place, and then nearly burst into tears as they all clung to her. Children! Of all the things to harm, she had chosen children! What was she to do? What would happen when the others managed to return? And if Jonas was brought with them? August would command her to scatter his ashes, she just knew it. And she would have to, or the children would die for it. What about Starr, or Evie, or Micah, or Friedreich, or any of the others? If she was told to kill them, she would have to, or the children would pay for it.
There were few times in her long life when she actually wished she were dead. Now was the absolute pinnacle of it. If she were dead, August would never have done this to children. She only did it because she knew that Hanna had a weakness for protecting the innocent.
“Oh, sweet Caine! What do I do now?” she whispered into the hair of one child pressed against her.
“You’ll think of something,” he whispered in her mind.
She nearly jumped, but didn’t, because she didn’t want to scare the children.
Well, Caine was still with her. That, at least, was something . . .
Princes of the Universe
Buffy looked at Nick and blinked Vachon-like. “A what?”
“A renegade vampire. We also have some rogue Immortals in with this renegade, aiding her.”
“Immortals?” Buffy sat on Nick’s leather couch. Willow wandered to where Nick had set up his laptop and starting punching keys.
“What are you doing?” Nick asked as she followed Willow and stood behind her.
“Getting on line. I can find out almost anything on the Web.” Willow signaled the modem to dial.
“Oh.” Nick walked over and opened the fridge and pulled out the cork with his teeth. Then he took a swig of Bovine vintage as he wandered to the window. Buffy watched, pulling a sour face.
“Is that necessary?” She shook her head. “Men have no manners,” she mumbled.
“What are Immortals?” Xander asked.
“Well, Immortals are men and women who cannot die. They have to lose their head to be really dead.” The sound of the elevator opening interrupted him. Duncan, Methos, Sky and Joe walked in.
“Maybe we can help Nick.” Joe said as he took a seat in Nick’s leather chair. “Hey Mac, why don’t you have furniture this nice?” Joe teased as Duncan and Sky pulled up chairs. Methos wandered over and watched Willow. Buffy looked like a deer caught in the oncoming headlights of an 18-wheeler. “My god,” she whispered, blind sided by Duncan’s smile.
“Hi, I’m Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod,” he grinned at her stunned look. “I’m 450 years old.”
Xander was gaping at Sky like a hooked fish. “You look like–”
Sky grinned. “Xena, yeah I hear that a lot.”
Joe shook his head. “Now, Buffy, I’m going to tell you about the Watchers and the Immortals. This is very top secret stuff, so it doesn’t leave this loft.” Joe looked serious for a minute. He pulled up his sleeve and showed Buffy his tattoo. Methos wandered over and planted himself on the arm of Nick’s couch. Buffy looked him over. “You’re one of them.” She motioned to Sky and Duncan.
“Yes.” Methos nodded.
“How old are you?”
“I can remember as far back as 5000 years.” He lifted his sleeve to show his tattoo. “But I hide in plain sight.”
Willow piped up, “Hey can we use you guys for History class? We could ace it with you all.”
Methos grinned. “Not quite.”
“Explain the game you are playing.”
Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are
It was on, Kat knew because she could hear it churning, but nothing had appeared on the screen as yet. Impatient, she leaned on Vachon and tried to get a glimpse of the open letter in his lap. She pushed gently down on his arm, angling the paper so she could read it.
“Don’t tell me it’s another invitation,” she groaned. “Unbelievable. Hasn’t this LaCroix character ever heard of a phone?”
“Turn it off.”
Javier was up and staring golden-eyed at the video screen before Kat even knew that he had been speaking to her. Looking up, she followed his glare across the room.
“Holy . . .” she was stopped short by Vachon reaching down and ripping the remote control out of her hands. Pointing the device ahead of him, he indiscriminately pushed buttons – only to cause the sinister laughter from somewhere off screen to get louder.
Kat couldn’t believe what she was seeing. First one, then another woman was being tortured. Vachon forced himself to concentrate on the task at hand and finally got the homemade snuff video to stop. He dropped the now useless remote onto the floor; It had cracked with the force of his grip.
“I don’t get it,” she thought aloud. “Is that supposed to mean something to me?” Kat was so sick of this whole Toronto scene, she was practically screaming.
“No,” Vachon replied in a low and menacing tone. “It’s supposed to mean something to me.”
Continuing Adventures . . .
Nick’s Dark Loft
Nick’s door buzzer rang.
He walked over to the intercom. “Who is it?”
Nick frowned. “Who is the package from?”
The messenger shrugged in the video monitor. “A captain Horton.”
- Not a good sign.
“I’ll go get it.” Skye opened the elevator doors, her Katana out and ready for action.
They watched the exchange of the package in the monitor. All was well as Skye reappeared in Nick’s loft a few minutes later. She tossed him the small package.
Nick opened it. A videotape. “Now what?” He mumbled under his breath as he inserted it in the VCR and turned it on.
His worst nightmare was on that tape. Tracy, looking half dead, her face a mass of bruises, tied arms up, feet almost, but not quite touching the ground, in her now torn underwear. He started to curse in fluent French when the tape changed to show Amanda chained much like Micah was.
Amanda was then jabbed in the side and wounded horrifically. Horton’s laughter could be heard in the background. Methos and Sky had to restrain Duncan from destroying the TV.
Buffy watched this all. “So when do I start?” She watched Amanda’s wound start to heal. Another wound was carved into Amanda.
Nick looked at her. “Tonight. At the Raven you are going to meet some more of us vampires and Immortals, Mages and a Garou. Can you handle it?”
Buffy looked at him then at the tape. “Oh yeah. This guy’s toast.”
Children of Darkness
by Trapper (w/little additions by Evie)
8 – 9:00 p.m.
It was the end of a beautiful summer day, and the fading sunset had turned all of the buildings to shining rivers of blood against a Maxfield Parrish sky. If one believed in omens, premonitions, foresight or that sort of thing, one might take some significance from this. This was going to be another long, strange night in Toronto. Of course, if omens meant nothing, then one could simply chalk it up to pollution. The kind of pollution that killed Dennis, and had Hanna missing in action.
Evie and Trapper walked into Nick’s Loft behind Duncan and crew, and became instantly unobtrusive. They had finally gotten done with all of their running around. After dealing with Lionel, the next stop had been the hotel. A note from Michael and James was waiting for them at the front desk. It read:
We knew that you were going to be visiting friends for a few days, and we had the chance to go off with the Clumsy Lovers for a couple of gigs. Seems their guitarist broke his hand, and the accordionist spontaneously combusted! Can you believe it? Like in that documentary! Anyway, we said that we could fill in. We’ve got our gear with us, so don’t worry about keeping the hotel rooms if you’ve got plans (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). We’re staying at Moira’s cousin’s place. Moira’s the fiddler, if you didn’t know. The number is 555-2911. See you soon. Write when you get work.
Michael & James
After the note, it was up to the rooms to take showers, change clothes, and pack up. They checked out of the hotel in short order and drove the van back to Nick’s place, just in time to run into Duncan and friends.
As they got out of the van to go into Nick’s building, Evie turned to Trapper. “So, don’t you think Sky sorta looks like . . . ?” She and Trapper stopped and looked at each other, frowning. Suddenly Trapper snapped her fingers. “Yeah! I got it! Miss Amphipolis!”
As they emerged from the elevator, they scanned the room. “Hmm – teenagers, vampires & immortals,” Evie murmured. “Looks dangerous. You go first.”
Evie sat at the couch and introduced herself to Joe. As Duncan continued his orientation on Immortals for Buffy and Xander, Trapper moved around to where Nick was watching Willow at the computer.
“Hi!” Trapper said shyly. “Did you miss me?”
Nick turned faster than the human eye could follow. He hugged her fiercely, and her hat fell onto the floor. “Is this enough of an answer?”
She tucked her head into his chest in response.
Methos was just getting ready to explain “The Game,” when Buffy looked over to notice the clinch. “Oh, great! Another bloodsucker! Is this like, a party? How many more of you ‘don’t-stake-me-I’m-not-a-bad-vampire’ types are there?”
The door buzzer sounded. Nick excused himself, and went to answer it.
Buffy looked up at Trapper, who had turned to the computer screen. “Hi! I’m Buffy! And you are . . . “
Trapper walked to where Buffy sat and extended her hand. “Trapper. That’s Evie over there.”
“And is Evie . . . ?”
Nick inserted the videocassette into the VCR and turned it on. They all watched the scenes unfold in horror. When it had ended, and everyone had made their comments, he removed the tape and turned it over in his hands. “No markings, no label, and, if I were to have it checked, no fingerprints, I’m sure.” He looked at Trapper with concern. “You and Evie “REN’T going back to your hotel!”
Trapper shook her head. “We already checked out. The rest of the band has gone out of town with our opening act for a few days, so at least we don’t have to worry about them.”
“Good. Then you can stay here. You can store the van next to the Caddy.”
“Well, here we are then,” Buffy said, lounging back on the couch. “Just one big, happy undead family! So, now what?”
“Food could be fun.” Xander was pacing behind the couch nervously. “You know, chewing, eating, things some of us don’t do at all, and the rest of us don’t do enough of.”
“Xander,” Willow spoke without looking up. “You’re babbling.”
“I am. You’re right. I’m babbling.”
Evie broke away from the conversation she was having with Joe and Methos. “Hey, there you go. I agree with . . . Xander.”
“What, that I’m babbling?”
“No, that food is a good thing. I’m thinking pizza, maybe? Delivery?”
Trying to decide what to have, temporarily took their minds off of the tape. As the debate raged about which would be better, sausage or pepperoni, or better yet, both, Nick spoke up.
“Me for the usual.” He opened the fridge and took out a fresh bottle. “Join me?’ He offered it to Trapper.
“I think I’ll make some coffee.” Nick shook his head, and they both began to laugh.
Willow looked confused. “Umm, excuse me, but, I mean, aren’t vampires supposed to drink, you know, blood?”
“I’m from Seattle.”
“Oh.” Willow went back to work on the computer as if, somehow, that explained everything.
The food arrived, and people separated into small groups to plan strategies, eat, and just rest. Since there was nothing to be done about the tape until they could get to the Raven, vampires, Immortals, Watchers and humans banded together for a few short hours of camaraderie. Who knew if they would make it through ‘til tomorrow. For now, they would sit with friends old and new to steal what happiness they could in a world gone truly mad.
The Lull Before the Storm, an interlude
by Trapper -w/ Evie’s edits
Nick’s loft had turned into a haven of sorts, for human and other alike. Evie had gone down to the van to move it, and decided to bring in her guitar. She and Joe were sitting at the kitchen table, jamming, with Duncan and Skye listening appreciatively to a piece called “Persecution Blues.” Methos and Buffy were leaning over Willow, who hadn’t moved from the computer. They were talking about some UK website that dealt with the “unexplainable.” Buffy was trying to have Willow access information on the vampire known as “Angelus.” Xander sat in one of the living room chairs, trying to get the last bit of pizza out of the box, and Nick and Trapper sat on the couch, talking.
“Did I tell you that we found another one of the creeps that killed Dennis?” Trapper looked at Nick over the rim of her coffee cup.
“No.” Nick was staring into the depths of his “wine” glass. He’d been thinking about the horrible tape with Tracy and Amanda on it. He wrenched himself back to the present with difficulty, and glanced up. “I trust you dealt with him with your . . . “ The smile that graced his lips was anything but pleasant. A…usual panache?”
Evie stopped playing and laughed. “Oh, man, you should’ve seen it! Eddie, the other vampire, was hiding out in our hotel room! They really must’ve picked poor Dennis’ brain. Anyway, the room was all dark, and this incredibly scummy vampire came howling across the room at us. He didn’t know about Trapper’s . . . adjusted living style. She dropped her shades and snarled at him. I wish I’d had a camera, just for the expression on his face! So, I knocked his feet out from under him, and Traps dropped the Gideon Bible from the nightstand on his chest. That seemed to do the trick.”
Buffy looked from Evie to Trapper and back. “But, you killed him, right?”
Trapper answered, “Worse than that.” Nick looked at her and smiled, raising his eyebrows in a question.
Xander stopped mopping the crumbs out of the pizza box. “Worse? What’s worse than dead?” He looked at Trapper and Nick. “Whoa. Maybe I don’t want to know.”
“Mmm.” Trapper looked at her watch. “In fact, he should be at his destination any minute.”
August 4, evening
‘There goes Matty again!’ he thought. “Matty! Shut up!” Duane hit the stairs from the basement at a run. The doorbell always set the dog off. He checked his watch. It was awfully late for anyone to be ringing, unless Susan had forgotten her key again. They always looked after the house when Trapper was out of town, and he hoped it wasn’t some kind of emergency from wherever she was.
Duane answered the door. “Yes?”
A Federal Express employee stood on the porch behind a large box. “Sign here, please, sir.” He handed the electronic clipboard over. Duane took the clipboard and looked back questioningly. “Same-Day Delivery from a..” He looked down and turned the box to find the label. A…Trapper?”
“Cool. Thanks.” Duane handed the clipboard back and dragged the box in to examine it. “What’s she sending now, boys?” he asked the cats, who had come up to see. Sinbad, the 25 pound Siamese, sniffed at the box and hissed. Greco just stared with narrowed eyes. The box was heavy, and covered with duct tape, crosses and pentacles. Duane shrugged to himself and pulled out a pocket knife to cut the tape.
As he opened the box, he could hear muffled noises from within. He looked inside, and saw a vampire, covered in duct tape, with what seemed to be a bible on his chest. There was a note:
Hi Mr. D.
Had some weirdness on our tour. Our drummer got killed, and some other stuff, but everything’s pretty OK otherwise. This is one of the goons that got Dennis. His name’s Eddie, and we thought that we’d send him to you to Aplay” with.
Trapper & Evie
PS–Say hi to the kids!
Duane looked at the cats. “Mummy said hi, guys. And look! She and Aunty Evie sent toys! Let’s go have some fun!” He began to drag the box to the basement stairs. Eddie didn’t stop screaming for a very long time.
Operator, Give Me Information
at Nick’s Loft
Evie set her guitar aside, muffling a huge yawn, and rose from the couch, where Joe was already asleep. “Say, Nick, Mr. Knight, sir,” she turned to the group’s host in appeal. “Have you got an out‑of‑the‑way corner I could use? I’m thinking I’d like to spend a half hour in meditation, so I don’t fall on my face at a crucial moment. I got not nearly enough sleep, and I’d really like to be alert.” She pointed at Trapper who had her mouth open, ready to reply. “Don’t,” she warned.
Trapper closed her mouth with an effort, and looked momentarily disappointed. Then her face brightened. “I could really use a . . . nap . . . myself.” She nudged Nick in the ribs suggestively.
Not one to miss a subtle hint, Nick replied, “Oh. Uh, sure. Make yourself at home.”
“Thanks,” Trapper smiled cheerfully, dragging him up the stairs. “Don’t mind if I do.”
Nick grinned as the light dawned. “Race you!”
Xander waved distractedly and went back to examining Nick’s collection of vampire videos. “Cool! ‘Near Dark’. I haven’t seen this one yet.” He popped the video in and settled in front of the big screen. Buffy grimaced and went downstairs to work out.
“Ok, then,” Evie called after the retreating figures, “I’ll just make myself at home, too.” A giggle and a slammed door were her replies. She wandered into the kitchen in search of coffee. “Damn! She drank it all.”
“When the going gets tough, the tough take a nap,” she muttered as she removed her shoes and socks and set them by the door. Then, settling cross‑legged on the floor, she began the regular breathing pattern which she’d used in her training years ago. Closing her eyes, she willed the sounds in the room to recede and become unimportant, leaving a small part of her mind to monitor while the rest of her floated comfortably between the worlds.
“Evie!” The next thing she knew, she was back, flailing and shrieking and gasping for breath. Her eyes flew open, though it was a few moments before her conscious mind recognized Willow and Xander kneeling next to her, restraining her from self‑injury. Her heart raced while her mind attempted to make sense of the overwhelming deluge of images.
“What is it?” Joe sat up from his nap on the couch. “What’s wrong?”
“Hanna,” Evie gasped. “It’s Hanna! She’s not dead.” She looked wildly from one to the other. “But she will be soon. We’ve got to do something!” Then, all the blood drained from her face and she leaned over and barfed dramatically on the floor.
“Ugh,” Xander jumped back. “She’s certainly got a unique way of making a point.”
The blonde one that bit him was around somewhere, the furry red form standing in the shadows could sense it. He didn’t know how or why . . . He just knew that he needed the red stuff the humans had, and Warren was the one who usually gave it to him. But his pet was gone, he couldn’t call to him, he couldn’t feel Warren’s mind, his aura like he could before. Elmo was lost.
When the sun had come up, Elmo took refuge in a toy store. He didn’t have enough red stuff to withstand the light. And he was soooooo sick and fraggin’ tired of saying “HA HA HA, THAT TICKLES” every time some human picked him up. But now he was where all the big brown buildings were. And the blonde one was around here somewhere.
Elmo darted from window to window. He was getting closer. Closer, still, until he came to a window. He saw three humans in the corner . . . no four.
“HEY IT’S SCRUFFY MAN! MAYBE HE’LL GIVE ELMO RED STUFF!”
The one spewing something from her mouth definitely wouldn’t. Elmo didn’t EVEN want to know what she tasted like. Elmo pounded at the window, trying to get Joe’s attention. But, of course, his tiny, furry fists didn’t make much noise. So Elmo turned to screaming at the top of his three-year-old lungs.
“SCRUFFY MAN! SCRUFFY MAN, OPEN THE WINDOW FOR ELMO!”
That didn’t work either. Elmo looked around and saw there was a light on in another window. The hungry Muppet floated up to the window.
“Oooo it’s the blonde one.” Elmo pounded at the window. “HEY COW MAN, OPEN WINDOW FOR ELMO!”
Elmo screamed until he wore his lungs out, “Cow man? Please let Elmo in.” He put on his best sad face, which wasn’t too far from the truth. “Cow man?”
Elmo wiped some of the dirt from the window, and found that Nick was occupied at the moment. “He gets red stuff, why can’t I?” Elmo stared into the window, his hunger starting to get the best of him . . .
“ELMO WANTS RED STUFF NOW!” Without the complexity of actual thought, Elmo lunged forward with all his strength and burst through the window.
“ELMO WANT RED STUFF TOO!” He flew onto the first one he smelled.
“NOT AGAIN!” Nick stumbled backwards nearly falling. Trapper started back in momentary confusion.
“What the hell?”
Elmo whipped his head around, and stared at Trappers pierced neck.
“Oooo Chocolate Mocha . . . Elmo’s favorite! ELMO WANT CAFFEINATED RED STUFF TOO!”
Reluctant to Fly
“You could find her.”
They had covered this already. “Excuse me?” Kat asked, frustrated. She pointedly returned to getting dressed while reminding him, “I thought we agreed to wait. To see if anyone else knows anything, before . . . “
“I know,” he interjected. “But, it might save her life.”
Vachon had changed his mind three times already since seeing Tracy Vetter on that tape. His gut reaction was to rush off and search every corner of Toronto. But, having no blood link to her, there was no way for him to trace her whereabouts.
Kat, on the other hand, didn’t need a link. Javier knew, from tasting of her, that she could find Tracy through a Spirit Walk.
“The problem is,” Kat explained AGAIN, “that I’m not . . .
…. not very good,” Javier finished for her.
Standing with her hands on her hips, Kat stared hard at Vachon while she thought. The man was on the verge of losing another friend and needed all the help he could get. She tried one last time to keep him from asking this of her. “You know I can’t do anything, even if I do find her?”
Javier smiled; He knew her question meant that she would do it.
“That’s okay. Just find where she is and come back. We’ll deal with the rest later.” Taking her arm, he led Kat toward the dining area. “What do you need me to do?” he inquired, trying to hurry the process along.
Not sure how she felt about this rusty talent of hers, Kat yanked her arm out of Javier’s grip and walked back into the bedroom. She returned seconds later with an ancient wooden box. “You just make damn sure that you stay here with me the whole time.”
Getting no response, she paused in her unpacking of the velvet-lined case to ask harshly, “You think you can do that?”
Man! She hated to rely on other people! “Because this could get really hairy if I can’t find my way back.”
Kat pulled an assortment of items out to help her on her journey. Technically, she didn’t need any of it. They were simply spiritual markers that she had collected throughout her life. Which pieces she chose would depend on what she felt when she saw them.
Vachon had no idea what to expect, until he saw the Zuni fetishes. He knew that Spirit Walk was Native American – he just hadn’t considered Kat to be part of the Nation. Next to the tiny stone wolf and mountain lion, she placed a chunk each of black onyx and of a multi-hued brown agate. The last thing out was a purple sachet. The aroma reminded him of Kat, of drinking her blood. She held it up to her nose and breathed in deeply.
“Cinnamon,” she said as she carefully set the tiny bag in front of her on the dining room table.
“From what I’ve heard, not a whole hell of a lot happens at this end,” she cautioned him. “If I’m not back to normal in about an hour..” They each checked the mantel clock.
“What?” Vachon prompted her.
Waiter, There’s Someone in My Coffee
“Oooo Chocolate Mocha . . . Elmo’s favorite! ELMO WANT CAFFEINATED RED STUFF TOO!”
Trapper and Nick looked at Elmo, who was dusting the glass off of himself. “I think we have a little problem.”
“Hmm. A little, red, noisy problem.” Nick grabbed Elmo as he began to leap toward Trapper’s exposed . . . neck. “If you have a suggestion, now would be a good time.”
“Actually, I might.” Trapper smiled at Elmo, who by now was screaming, again.
“WANT RED STUFF! WANT COFFEE LADY RED STUFF!”
Trapper hunted up the bottle of “Elsie” that Nick had left next to the bed and held it to the light. “Oh, good! Still half full.” Fighting the urge to gulp it down, she poured the dregs of her mocha into the bottle.
“Um, do you think you could possibly hurry?” Nick was in a wrestling match with the little furball, who was trying to climb over him.
“Almost done.” Trapper sank her fangs into her wrist and then held it over the bottle to drip in. She checked the level of the bottle once more, and, satisfied at last, she staunched the flow of her blood. “Oh, Elmo! Look what I’ve got for you!” She held the bottle before him. “Ok, Nick, do you have a large trunk or something?” Nick gestured at the locking wardrobe. “Perfect!” Trapper wrapped the sheet around herself and walked to the wardrobe. Opening the door, she set the bottle inside. “Ok, furball! Come and get it!”
Elmo streaked across the room as soon as Nick released him. Trapper slammed shut the door of the wardrobe behind him, and Nick came up to turn the lock. They both put their ears to the door.
“AHH! Cowman and coffee lady LIKE Elmo! Feed Elmo!” a soft, purring sound came from the closet, followed by a resounding “BURP! HAHA! SCUSE ME!” and tiny, furry snores.
“Nice work, Trapper! I think that’ll hold him for a while.” Nick led her back over to the bed. “Mmmm. Now, where were we?” They were instantly oblivious to the commotion below. He hadn’t felt this alive in centuries. It must be the coffee.
Spirit in the Sky
specks of life
struggle to group
surf the night
taste the air
A tiny ember
shrouded by smoke
We Gotta Get Outta This Place
Buffy came through the door, done with her workout and ready for action. The first thing she saw was Evie lying on the floor.
“Hey, what’s up?” She looked down. “Oh, yuck. Never mind.”
Willow stood up. “Evie just had a vision about someone called Hanna. It was . . . um . . . a little intense, I guess.”
Xander stooped to help Evie to her feet. “Intense is a good word. How much more intense is this going to get?”
While the three of them talked, Evie staggered into the kitchen to put on the kettle. “Oh, man. I need a nice hot cup of tea.” She sniffed, “and a quick shower.”
Duncan stepped over to the stove. “Go on,” he shoved her in the direction of the bathroom. “You go get cleaned up. I’ll take care of the tea.”
As the door to the bathroom closed, Trapper and Nick came down the stairs, with a sleepy Elmo in tow.
Joe stood, startled, and pointed his cane. “Where did THAT come from?”
Nick looked back up the stairs at Elmo. “My bedroom window,” he sighed. “What’s going on down here?”
Joe walked over to fill him in, being careful to avoid Elmo. Trapper dug around in her purse and went to the kitchen to make coffee.
“OOOOH! Elmo clapped his furry paws. “Coffee lady’s making coffee! Elmo wants some!” Trapper looked down at him, cocked an eyebrow, sighed and bent to pick him up. She set him on the counter.
“OK, now, listen up. If you sit here, and are VERY quiet, I’ll give you some.” In response, Elmo nodded and clapped both hands across his mouth.
A short time later, everyone was busily getting ready to leave for the Raven. Elmo sat quietly on the counter, drinking a cowblood/coffee concoction and humming. Suddenly, a bloodcurdling scream from the bathroom tore the quiet air in two!
Trapper bolted for the door and flung it open. Evie stumbled out, holding her head and moaning. Duncan came to help, and between the two of them, they got Evie to the couch. Nick had gotten a wet dishcloth, and began wiping her forehead.
“Evie! What’s wrong?” Trapper shook at her gently. “Evie?”
Slowly, Evie’s eyes opened. They looked haunted. “Hanna. She . . . must’ve forged a link . . . blood and water everywhere! …Rage . . . Terror! Trapper, I can’t stop the pictures! It’s horrible!” Trapper eased the cloth down over Evie’s eyes and let it rest there.
“Shh. Take it easy. Try a couple of deep breaths.” Trapper looked up at the anxious faces gathered around. “We have to find some way of dealing with this.”
Methos, who had been deep in thought, spoke up, “Maybe going to the Raven will give us the answers we need. We’ve been invited, after all.”
Nick answered him without looking up. “Even if it’s a trap?” Elmo had wandered over, unnoticed, and was quietly slurping at the bottle of blood that sat on the table. Nick pried him loose and wiped down the neck of the bottle. He took a mouthful and gave the bottle back to the tiny paws that reached out for it. “Well, I agree. We can’t just sit here. Maybe LaCroix and Micah will have some answers.”
With that, all were galvanized into action. Weapons flew into pockets and bags, jackets went on and attitudes were grim. “Is everyone ready?” Nick looked around the loft.
“Almost.” Trapper reached for Elmo, and stuffed him down the front of her leather jacket. “Now, you sit tight! Face to the front, and DON’T bite!”
Elmo nodded in answer and tucked his head down in the jacket. Nick looked over and gave Trapper a quirk of a smile.
“He’ll get in a lot more trouble if we leave him behind,” she explained.
They walked out the door, and Nick locked it behind them, hoping that he would be back.
I Think I Remember How
I whisper your name to the moon
and stretch my arms out toward the stars
Choose one and make a wish that
you could touch my fingertips
and echo back my cries
~ M. A./HS
He awoke with a start. Not startled that he still could, but he had expected it to be . . . different. But there was really nothing different in him. Well, except maybe the hunger that burned in his gut, flooded his mind and tunnel visioned his thoughts down to one track: Blood.
Warren needed to feed, NOW.
It was all he could think about. The way it rushed over his tongue and filled him, bringing back from the brink that first time it had. He had vaguely heard LaCroix and Angelique talking but he didn’t care about that then. Not once the blood started to revive him. And now he needed it to sustain him again. He needed to; He H”D to. Once he did, he could get to Casa Loma, and finally back to Greer.
Warren squeezed his eyes shut as the sweet image of his love, the only thing that kept him going in this farce of a world anymore, burst past the pain and the hunger. It gave him clarity of thought, and direction: Out the window and to the nearest, strongest heart beat he could find.
Joe Dawson hobbled along the street in that way he had, since he had lost his legs. The others were way behind him . . . actually probably at the Raven by now. He had split up from them to return to Watcher HQ. Something told him he might be able to find something in a chronicle. He always had before. Why would this time be any different?
Hunter/Vampires, Horton, August, some Roman guy, and a petite vampire. And a bunch of lunatics, immortals, slayers, vampire Muppets, and a Mage as friends. Dawson had had a feeling, all those years ago, that being sent over to ‘Nam would change his life.
If he’d only known.
So far in the past, god, four days? A psychotic vampire bent on revenge, had managed to resurrect Horton, bring him across, or embrace him, or whatever . . . Gotten a bunch of immortals and Hunters, done the same, take over Casa Loma, and managed to draw them all to Toronto just so she could make their lives a living hell. With all that had gone on the past few days, four days seemed like two months. And Dawson had another of those gut feelings: It ain’t over yet.
Joe began to go over a mental list, he’d need to tell the new Watchers at the Toronto HQ who to look for (and what years he had worked out in his head). Dawson was counting on his fingers, lost in though, when he bumped into a black clad figure in the side alley. Inertia carried the haggard Watcher back into the wall. Inertia, and whoever’s arm . . .
“What the hell?” And he barely even got that out before he found himself staring at . . .
“Warren? Is that you?”
All that came from his assailant was a low hiss‑growl. Dawson didn’t have more that a millisecond to think before he became Warren’s midnight snack. And he didn’t have a lot of leverage either. The howl of pain surprised him more than Warren had.
The Mage jumped back from the offending mortal, he barely realized he had almost had his friend for lunch, but Joe’s wooden cane sticking from his leg brought him to his senses long enough to realize . . .
“Damn, Warren I’m sorry! What the hell happened to you?”
“Sorry, Joe, but I’m hungry, I . . . I . . . ” Warren gritted back a scream of pain as he pulled the cane from this thigh. The wound didn’t help his hunger. He needed to feed. But not Joe. Warren turned to fly away, to find someone else.
“Warren, W”IT! What happened to you . . . You’re . . . You’re a vampire now?!! Since when? And where the hell was I?”
“I asked Angelique to bring me across. She did. Now I can find Greer.” Warren wasn’t one for being delicate, he was hungry.
“WH”T?!” Joe’s jaw had never dropped so close to the ground as it did then. Warren, a vampire? Not from what Shayna had told him.
“I thought you hated vampires?”
“No, just one in particular.” Warren squeezed his deep crimson eyes shut. “Joe I can’t explain now I have to feed . . . ”
Warren was about to leap to the sky, but paused. There was another heart beat . . . a mortal heart beat, besides Joe’s. Over in the corner between the buildings edges . . .
And Warren fed. No one would miss the elderly homeless man. Joe wasn’t exactly going to report it to the cops either. Bloodless bodies were even harder to explain than headless ones.
(New Moon Aug 3)
The moon was nearly at its peak. The fullest it could possibly be. And, as Warren stared at it, he thought of the first time he ever truly noticed the moon . . .
The Terrian landscape stretched out into infinity. The emerald hills bathed in moon light. But to Warren the beauty of his home, of the sweeping waves of gentle hills, paled in comparison to the perfect absolute beauty that sat curled in his lap.
“Warren?” The melodious voice filled his ears, much as the heart beat of his victims would years later . . .
Greer giggled. Oh no, he’s in one of those thinking moods again. “Did you ever wonder?”
“About what?” He shifted his weight straitening his back against the trunk of the large oak.
Greer giggled again, she sounded like a fairy when she laughed like that. “About the moon.”
The young Mage frowned. But only for a brief second. Greer had taken to tracing her thumb over his jaw line, drinking in his gaze with her innocent luminous brown eyes. That night Warren didn’t exactly see the moon. He was too busy looking into her eyes and into their future. He saw their union, their children, not the pain and heartache he would actually get. His near innocence entrapped in that one moment, he slipped the silver knot bracelet over her delicate wrist.
“Forever, my love?”
“Forever and ever and ever.”
That fairy giggle filled his ears and entranced him as his lips were brought to hers. And in the back of his mind, the part that observed EVERYTHING he sees, it noted the reflection of the shimmering silver disk in Greer’s eyes. But if you had asked Warren what color the moon was that night . . . He would have said brown, and then drowned in it.
And that is the only answer he will ever give you still.
“Warren what are you staring at?”
The lost Mage sighed, “Brown.”
Warren shook his head and forced himself to focus on Joe. He had barely noticed much of anything when they had made their way to the back of Watcher H.Q. His mind was a million miles and half a decade away.
“Sorry Joe. Just having trouble focusing.”
Dawson snorted. “Well, I’m not too sure that gettin’ your self brought across just because you think your wife was transferred or transported or whatever to this universe is such a good thing. In fact, I think . . . No, I KNOW it’s probably some August engineered trick.”
Warren wasn’t in the mood to argue.
“I know Joe,” blood tears welled in his eye, Abut if there’s even the slightest chance I can get her back. Gods, I’ve been without her for so long . . . I don’t care about my oaths or my honor anymore. I just want to be with Greer now. Even if it means becoming what I have fought against all my life.”
Joe’s jaw dropped, this time hitting the floor with a thud.
“NO W”RREN. I’ve already gone through that with Mac. I don’t need you going bad too.”
Warren turned his gaze to Joe. His eyes were almost dead. He was so indifferent now; He didn’t care. He felt no remorse, no guilt. But, he could make a decision, a decision he could be sure of.
He was going to give in. He was going to stop fighting, and finally give in.
I Think I Remember How pt. 3
“Joe, don’t even think about it.”
“Warren I’m not going to let you go off like this. Why? Why can’t you just forget Greer? It was a long time ago. You’re still young enough to start over.”
If Warren hadn’t been so set, so ready. If he had even cared what Joe thought or said at that moment, Dawson would have been in various pieces on the bookshelves. Instead he just shook Joe’s hand by the fore arm, and disappeared into a vortex.
just before 10:00 p.m.
She was right. Absolutely nothing did happen on this end. And it was maddening. Twenty minutes had passed like molasses on a winter sidewalk and Kat had remained perfectly still, eyes closed, the entire time.
Vachon began to pace; watching her every non-move was obviously unproductive. It was almost ten o’clock and they needed to get to the Raven. He didn’t want to bring her out of her trance. Hell, he didn’t even know if he could, but since he had sworn to not leave her here alone . . .
He pulled up a chair and sat directly in front of the mesmerized vampire. Leaning up close, he stated firmly, “Kat.” Immediately her eyes opened. He relaxed; that was much easier than she had made it out to be.
“I’m sorry that I, uh, woke you, but we need to get moving,” Javier announced hurriedly, as he got up to leave. “We can try this again later. I mean, you didn’t find her yet.” He turned to her. She hadn’t moved. “Did you?”
Kat was gazing silently up at him. Unblinking. Blank.
“Uh oh.” Vachon began to slowly wave his hand in a wide arc, trying to catch her attention. Nothing. He sidestepped and then called her name. Her eyes followed, but a moment later. So, she was following the sound, not the motion.
“Kat!” he tried a louder voice – nothing.
Suddenly remembering the owl fetish in his pocket, he pulled it out and set it next to the others. Before she ‘left’, Kat had related the story of the owl – how it was the Guardian of the Home and how it would help her to find her way back. It was supposed to help, anyway.
“Look, we have to go!” he announced into her face. He started to laugh at the image this created – as if shouting were the answer.
Kat smiled. Vachon stood up, shocked by her reaction. Kat stood up. This looked promising.
“Do you want to go to the Raven?” His voice was high, like he was speaking to a small child. There was no reaction from Kat. Javier picked up the tiny stone owl for himself and the wolf fetish for her, then started heading toward the elevator. “Come on,” he tried. She followed him.
They stood in front of the private elevator for only a few seconds before Javier remembered the key. Kat was staring at him, as if he were the most interesting person in the world . . . or a bug on a pin. “Pardon me,” he said, as he began to pat her down. Reaching into her hip pockets, he mumbled under his breath, “I could get used to this.”
He found the key, used it to summon the ride down and ushered her in. He’d worry about flying, later.
I Think I Remember, pt 4
August lounged in an overstuffed chair in one of Casa Loma’s ninety eight rooms. Well, what was taking that upstart magic-user so FRE”KIN’ long? She had hoped her use of infernal magic would drive Hanna’s sniveling little friends insane, or put them all off her case. But, Warren was different; She needed his power. The fact that he was already mentally unstable had made it even easier to convert him. When he arrived all he would see was his beloved wife. She would be able to play him like the proverbial harp. August let out a high-pitched snort of laughter, while she mulled over what she would say to him . . .
“Oh Horton, dear could you come here for a moment? . . . I think our guest is about to arrive.”
Warren stood on the window sill, covered in his favorite hooded black cloak. A birthday present from Greer. She had always said how good it looked when he clipped it together with his clan badge. He couldn’t wait to be with her.
His darkening blue eyes watched her intently as she lounged in a plush chair. His features hardened as he saw Ackron approach her. Damn. That bloody bastard was here, too. Just as well. If he really wanted to be with Greer again, he’d have to pledge himself to Ackron anyway.
Warren pulled his hood over his face, and pushed the window open . . .
“Ahh, look Hor . . . Ackron. He is here!”
With exuberance she didn’t truly feel, August leapt out of the chair and threw her arms around the cloaked Mage.
“G‑G‑Greer? ………….Oh thank the Goddess it is you.” Warren returned the hug ten fold. He did not see the illusion for what it really was. To him, he was hugging his wife in the presence of his soon-to-be master.
Warren was on cloud nine. He was finally where he belonged, in the arms of his beloved. He had thought he would never know this wonderful, hazy bliss again. He felt so foolish, denying himself this existence. They had told him it would disrupt his connection with Draconis. It will drive you mad! It will cause you to lose control of the magick!
HA! He had never been in more control. Greer had helped him tap into well of energies he had never known existed . . .
And then there was Ackron . . . Who wasn’t as bad as Warren had thought. In fact he liked Ackron, they had like minds. When Warren, after being turned by Ackron (He was actually blood bound to Horton, folks . . . ) had wanted to discipline a very inefficient Watcher/vampire, Ackron let him have his fun with the sniveling coward.
And who knew that men, especially weak, easily manipulated ones, could be so pleasantly entertaining?
Greer stirred slightly . . .
“Warren?” Her sparkling green eyes held Warren in captivity.
“Yes?” he whispered.
“Tell me about home . . . ”
Warren frowned. “Home? But sweety . . . we “RE home, finally.” Only slightly phased by the odd question, Warren kissed her, nipping her full bottom lip gently.
“I’m sorry Warren . . . I was just testing . . . ”
Greer leaned forward and kissed her husband passionately, letting her full lips envelope his, lingering until he was so pleasantly dazed he forgot to breathe.
Warren sighed into it, relaxing further. Nope. He had no problems with his new life . . . Mac and Doug could go straight to Annwfn.
‘Horton burst into the room, one of ninety-eight, poshly appointed. He paused, glad to see the boy was still bundled tightly in his delusions. He came up behind Warren and got August’s attention. He mouthed a few words to her:
“We have Dawson locked up in the stables . . . We need the boy down there now, if we’re going to lay the trap . . . ”
August’s eyes widened in surprise. She didn’t think even Horton could capture the crippled mortal TH”T quickly. But then again that decaying fool had probably strayed from the protection of that pathetic flock. It was time to pour on the act for the boy’s benefit<
Greer broke off the kiss and glanced up at Ackron’s slick, angular features. Warren turned a bit annoyed at the interruption . . . but his gaze hardened when he saw his new master. Showing “NY type of weakness however momentary would have been a mistake.
“I am sorry to interrupt you children . . . ” His hushed, hypnotic tones swirled around in Warren’s mind . . . He had no choice but to give the ancient menace his undivided attention.
Warren laughed maniacally; That spell he had whammied that pathetic mortal with was possibly his greatest work. The others wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the real Joe Dawson and the one that answered only to him. Because it was Joe Dawson for all intents and purposes . . . If the new and improved copy was killed, the original would die. There was no way this little trick would fail . . . The others would be at Casa Loma, in Ackron’s hands, and whatever his master didn’t want, he’d get to play with.
Warren’s laughs receded into the distance . . . He had to get to the Raven, which was the last thing Joe had told him before he passed out.
And he was ready to give the finest performance in his life . . .
This part was written during a live chat on AOL – I tried to make it as readable as possible J
Coffee, Confrontations and Comraderie
by HannaClay, TRAPPERG2, Phoenixw,
CousinSuk, Kustenhin, CookyCook and RavenKat
The back door that led to LaCroix’s office opened. Friedreich looked out from the room, then looked back to Marcus and Jonas inside. He nodded to them, then walked out.
Trapper watched Friedreich as he emerged from the room and nudged Nick. When he looked at her, she indicated Friedreich with a nod of her head. Nick shook his, knowing already that there was going to be trouble.
Vachon held the door open for Kat, then bowed to Angelique when she, Micah and Skye entered behind them.
Zara watched everyone enter. She sighed, rubbed her eyes, and turned back to Methos. “It’s a good thing I got that nap in.”
He gave her a half‑smile, then took a sip of beer. “You’ve earned it.”
Friedreich approached Methos and Zara at the same time Micah approached them. He leaned down and whispered in Methos’ ear, “Jonas is here.”
Methos showed no outward sign of tension, but he felt his blood pressure rise.
Friedreich straightened when he noticed Micah. He glared at him, still hating him for leaving Hanna behind.
Micah looked at him with slight apprehension. Then he turned to Methos and Zara and asked, “Is it just me, or is the Earth spinning off kilter?”
Friedreich snarled slightly, “It’s you.”
Micah glared at him. “Yeah?”
Zara, not ready for them to start fighting, tried to interject something. “If it is, I slept through it.”
Methos added, “You look like Hell.”
Friedreich muttered, “Not yet he doesn’t.”
Micah shrugged, “I feel like it.”
Friedreich smiled rather bloodthirstily, “Good.”
Micah snarled back at him, “You try having Horton torture you for a while and see how you look!”
Friedreich moved up to him, only inches away from his face. In a low voice, he said, “I don’t have to try! I know what they’re doing to her!”
Javier walked over to Nick and tossed a tape at him. Nick caught it and looked at it.
“You get one of these?”
“Yes,” he snarled as he slammed his own copy on the table, “we got one of them too.”
Javier pulled up a chair next to Trapper, nodded at her. “Hello.”
She nodded back, then took a long swig of coffee. “Hi, yourself, Javier.”
Evie rose and offered her chair to Kat. “I’m for another. Anyone want anything?”
“Me, Evie,” Trapper called out.
“No. Me, Evie. You, Trapper,” Evie smiled. Trapper laughed.
Evie looked up at the sky and wondered aloud, “Hmm, lemme guess. Cafe pour la petite mademoiselle?”
Trapper laughed. “Oui, Evie!”
Evie started off toward the bar, then stopped when she saw the commotion between Micah and Friedreich. Turning back to Nick, she leaned over and asked, “What are those folks going on about?”
Nick shrugged. “They always do this. You know how it is at family gatherings, Evie.”
She shrugged and headed for the bar.
Vachon leaned over and snarled, “So, Knight. Where is this fucker and why aren’t we there? What’s the plan?”
Nick shrugged. “Who knows? Hey, I’d love to be going after them, but I figured it was best to start here. Especially after the tape and the invitation.”
Zara looked between Micah and Friedreich, wishing they would keep it down, since some of the mortals were starting to pay attention to them.
Friedreich, however, wasn’t close to being finished. “You know what they would do! And you left her there!”
Micah tensed. “If I was in any shape to help, I would have. Of course, it didn’t help that she ran off, all hell‑bent on revenge!”
Zara butted in, “It wasn’t all Micah. I was there too.”
Friedreich ignored her and kept on Micah. “No! You were more concerned about saving your own neck!”
Methos looked between the two of them, watching the conversation with interest.
Micah snarled, “And the necks of several others.”
“Oh, right! That’s why you left her, and wanted to leave Joe behind as well!”
Zara looked at Micah, waiting for his response. She had been there. She had heard him when he wanted to abandon Joe.
“Joe? He wandered off on his own,” Micah responded.
“And when Zara informed you of this, what did you say? That he was a Watcher, and that he deserved whatever he got!”
“Joe is a big boy,” Micah glared at him, then snagged a drink off a passing waiter’s tray. “At least I bothered trying to help. I didn’t see your happy ass there at all!”
Zara nodded in agreement. It was all well and good for Friedreich to be critical. But he wasn’t there. He had no right to judge.
Friedreich smarted under his own guilty conscience. He knew he should have been with her. But how could he explain to them that Hanna had sent him after Starr? And whatever Hanna demanded of him, he had to obey? “Oh, I was helping all right! I was busy going after Julian Luna…the bastard that staked her, drained her and left her for dead! I wasn’t there because she took off while I was doing what she told me to do!”
“Look,” Micah spat, “I’m past the blaming thing. I want revenge at this point, so back off!”
Warren entered the Raven then, dressed in a plain black T‑shirt, black jeans and boots, looking a bit scruffy. His normally vibrant blue eyes looked drab. He spotted LaCroix and headed toward him.
“I don’t care who needed it! That’s my private stock! I use it to heal!” LaCroix was nearly shouting at Miklos.
Warren approached and mumbled to Miklos, “Go get me something to drink!”
Miklos looked at him, a bit startled at his demanding attitude. Then he turned and grabbed a bottle of the “house special.” He looked at Warren, the handed him the whole bottle.
Evie reached the bar, and started to search for the coffee machine, not wanting to interrupt LaCroix, lest he turn his ire upon her.
“It’s over to the left, Evie,” Trapper helped, knowing that the situation at the bar was getting tense.
“Thanks, Traps,” she sighed in relief, and she fetched two cups of straight espresso. She glanced over at Warren, and shook her head, then walked back to their table.
When she reached the table, Trapper smiled, “Thanks Evie! You’re a life saver!” Of course, no one mentioned the fact that she might just have been suggesting that, had she not gotten her coffee, she might have started working on . . . people.
At that moment, Buffy and company wandered into the Raven. They looked about, Buffy noticing that at least half the people in the place were vampires, of one sort or another.
“Whoa! Check it out!” Xander yelled over the music.
“Yeah, cool!” Buffy added, her hands on fire with the familiar need to remove vampires.
Just then, LaCroix’s office door opened again. This time, Marcus walked out, complete with his Greek “mask,” looking all the world like Alexander the Great. Behind him walked a classically beautiful man, in every sense of the word. His hair was a honey‑pale blonde, his eyes were ice‑blue, with dark rings around the irises. His skin was pale, though this was natural, and not just because he was a vampire. The best way someone could have described him was Roman. Definitely Roman. And his face, for some reason, was terribly familiar.
Warren interrupted LaCroix’s tirade by tapping him on the shoulder. When he turned to look at him, Warren picked him up and set him over on the opposite end of the bar. “LaCroix, stop yelling. Do you know how annoying your voice is?”
Quite a few mortals began muttering to each other quietly about it, and Trapper snarled.
Buffy watched them, and asked no one in particular, “So, are they the good vamps, or the bad ones?”
Trapper laughed. “You sound like Glenda the good witch! They are the good ones.”
Evie tossed back her coffee, then noticed Warren and LaCroix. “What the hell is going on over there?!”
Zara looked over to the bar in tense surprise. Was that Warren? Assaulting LaCroix?
LaCroix was not the slightest bit amused. “What IS wrong with you, boy?”
Buffy watched them. “Are you sure?” she asked dubiously. “Those are really creepy good guys!”
Trapper shrugged. “Good is a state of mind, Buffy. Compared to the bad ones, these “RE the good guys!”
Nick looked at Evie and Trapper. “Umm . . . has anyone seen Elmo?”
Angelique moved to Warren, her fledgling child. “Have you fed yet?”
In response, he pulled the cork out of the bottle with his teeth and spit it at Nick, then took a long swallow.
Nick caught the cork in midair and muttered, “Kids.”
Friedreich watched Warren for a minute and muttered, “I smell a rat.”
Warren turned his attention back to LaCroix. “I…I…can’t . . . ,” he hissed.
LaCroix frowned, nearing the end of his patience. “You can’t what?”
Zara looked around the room, concerned at all the commotion the scene was causing among the mortals.
Evie had the same thought. She turned and grabbed Nick by the arm. “Isn’t it time to close up shop?”
“God, yes!” Nick agreed fervently, so preoccupied that he hadn’t noticed he used the “G‑word.”
Even Micah and Friedreich ignored each other, consumed by what was going on at the bar. Marcus and “drop‑dead gorgeous” walked up to Friedreich.
“Get them out of here, Miklos! Do your job!” LaCroix yelled at him.
“We need to do something!” Nick yelled, nearing panic, at Evie.
Evie looked at Nick crossly. “Well, he’s your dad! Do what?”
Angelique spotted the man with Marcus, and her mouth hung open. “It can’t be!”
Methos noticed them at the same time, and one eyebrow lifted sardonically.
Warren grabbed LaCroix. “Wait! …I need to talk to you!”
LaCroix hissed at him, “If you can’t control yourself, you’d better leave!”
Warren’s eyes blazed red. “THIS IS SERIOUS! UNLESS OF COURSE YOU WOULD LIKE ME TO MAKE AN EXAMPLE OF YOU, OLD MAN!”
Angelique was startled out of her reverie, and moved to get Warren away from LaCroix.
Friedreich started to move to help LaCroix, when Marcus touched him on the shoulder and said, “Wait.”
“Warren, stop this!” Angelique shouted at him, moving between him and LaCroix.
Zara nearly jumped out of her seat when Warren started screaming at LaCroix. She stared at him in surprise. This wasn’t the same person who spent hours in self‑pity over the fact that the now absent Shayna had been taken by Horton.
Nick stood up. “Okay. Time to clear the floor. Let’s try to get the bystanders out of here.”
Skye added helpfully, “Last time, coffee helped.”
“Come on!” Nick insisted. “Let’s break this up! We’ve got more important things to do!”
Evie stood as well, muttering under her breath, ” I never understood this alpha male thing . . . ”
Warren whipped out his claymore from a blue vortex that formed next to him, then he backed away from the bar so he would have plenty of room to swing. Angelique saw it as the perfect opportunity to try and shove him to the floor. Warren, however, disagreed, and swung his claymore at her, forcing her to back away. Then he leaped at the bar, and put the sword against LaCroix’s neck.
Evie ran to the fire alarm and stopped when Nick shouted, “Evie! No! Wait!” He ran after her.
“Evie! Grab the axe!” Trapper shouted.
Both Methos and Zara stood, concerned, and Evie, Trapper and Nick all waited near the fire alarm.
There was a slight “whoosh” of air near Warren, and Jonas suddenly appeared behind him. “That wouldn’t be prudent, my friend.”
Warren stumbled slightly, and then tried to dodge Angelique as she made another attempt to grab him. “LE”VE ME “LONE!” he shouted at her as he again swung his claymore at her.
“I “M your master! You will listen to me, or I will destroy you!”
Nick shook his head. “We don’t want to do anything that might bring Schanke down here.”
Evie let her hand drop away from the fire alarm, realizing that firemen were the last people they wanted there.
Zara watched them all, trying to figure a way to get the people out of there.
Evie decided to rely on her voice, and bellowed, “FREE BEER DOWN THE STREET!”
Nick wondered to himself aloud, “Maybe we should just go off and deal with things on our own.”
Evie ran to the door shouting “FREE BEER!” All the people in the Raven took the cue and ran off after her, effectively clearing the place of innocent bystanders.
Nick watched her and burst out laughing.
Warren brandished his claymore and shouted, “YOU CAN’T CONTROL ME! WEAKLING!”
Angelique slapped the claymore out of his hand, extended her claws, then growled as she moved to attack.
She felt a cool hand at the back of her neck, and Jonas whispered in her ear, “Wait, Dark Goddess.”
Trapper waited for Evie to come back inside, then she moved to the door and bolted it. “Okay. That should do it. Nice one, Evie.”
Evie smiled at her, then pulled out her .44 Magnum.
Nick looked at her as if she were crazy. “You know, that won’t help you much.”
She shrugged. “Maybe not, but it makes me feel better.”
Zara moved closer to get a better view of the fight. She reached under her trenchcoat for her scimitar, but stopped at the touch of Methos’ hand on her shoulder.
Warren snarled as he used a tendril of energy to pick up his sword. “JUST LISTEN TO ME! I DON’T WANT TO HURT ANYONE!” He suddenly, visibly, grew weaker. “Please . . . I . . . I . . . ” He backed up into a corner.
Jonas turned to Warren. “You’re a bit out of sorts, it seems, my friend.”
Warren stared past him, mumbling to himself, “I . . . I’m losing my mind . . . after all these years . . . It’s really happening . . . ”
Angelique moved to her Childe again. “You need to feed. I suggest you do it soon.”
Warren remained entranced and kept talking to himself. “I…I couldn’t find her . . . I tried to get her back . . . but I can’t . . . ” Suddenly, his eyes focused upon Angelique and he screamed at her, “AND I DON’T NEED TO FEED!” Then, his weakness returned and he whispered, “Not again.”
Angelique backed up in surprise, and Jonas took it as the perfect time to move forward and step in front of her. Confident he could protect her if needed, he continued. “Her? Whom? Tell me whom you see.”
Vachon came out of a hunger induced trance suddenly. Nick noticed, and grabbed him a bottle from the bar.
“Here. It’ll help.”
Vachon smiled and blinked slowly. Obligingly, he took the bottle, and drank from it heartily while watching the scene unfold.
LaCroix stared at Warren, trying to keep his temper under control. “It seems that Angelique and Warren’s blood don’t match well.”
Warren glared daggers at LaCroix. “There’s nothing wrong with my blood.” He brandished his Claymore, still ready to strike anything that made a wrong move, or dared to look at him wrong.
Jonas tried again, still collected despite the interruptions. “Warren. Answer me. Whom do you see?”
Buffy, Xander and Willow watched the whole exchange in horrified fascination.
Nick and Trapper made certain to stay out of Warren’s way. Trapper cracked her knuckles, anticipating more trouble.
Vachon finished polishing off the bottle and set it on the bar, nodding his thanks to Nick.
Nick nodded back, then whispered, “Javier, what do you make of this?”
Vachon shrugged. “Don’t know. Never saw one of his kind brought across.”
Warren returned to his muttering. “NO ONE . . . not now anyway . . . I just . . . wanted to . . . to . . . ”
Jonas wanted to hit him hard enough to get a clear answer from him. But he naturally kept himself collected. His self‑control was as legendary as his wife’s iron‑will. So, he instead kept with Warren’s act. “But you saw someone.”
“NO! …Yes . . . I mean . . . NO! She’s gone . . . and I couldn’t help or . . . ”
Jonas sighed to himself. Oh, but this was annoying. “It’s all right. I understand. But I can’t help you if you won’t let me.”
Evie muttered, “Oh, great. A rampaging psycho vampire!”
Warren turned on her and hissed, “Listen! I could fry you in a second! Keep your smarmy comments to yourself!”
Methos watched quietly, bemused, while Zara moved closer.
Nick leaned over and whispered to Vachon, “Sorry about Urs and Screed, by the way.”
Frustrated, Warren hissed, his eyes a deep crimson.
“Relax, Warren,” Jonas soothed him. “It will do you no good to lose your temper. You’ll only make your situation worse. Now, let me help you.”
Trapper looked at Evie. “Maybe the voice, you think?”
Evie holstered her gun. “Nah. Violence is never the answer.
Someone pounded on the door and Evie opened it. Joe burst in, freezing in place when he saw Warren.
“Joe! Get down!” Trapper yelled when he came into the room.
“Warren?! What the Hell are you doing?” Joe yelled as he did his best to run down the stairs and head toward him.
Zara looked between Joe and Warren. Micah circled to stand next to his sister. And Methos watched Joe, clearly concerned for his friend.
Warren ignored them all. He brandished his sword, then it vanished.
Nick and Trapper raced to Joe’s side and hissed at Warren in warning. “Back off! Now!” Nick yelled at him.
Evie moved to stand between Buffy and her friends and Warren.
Joe hobbled over to Warren, just as Skye started moving toward Joe, keeping her eyes on Warren. He watched Joe approach and made no move to hurt him since, by all appearances, Joe was the only one he still trusted.
Trapper hit her head in frustration. She felt helpless and useless. And she hated feeling that way.
Evie hissed at Xander and Willow, “Maybe NOW is a good time to leave?”
Xander looked at her, puzzled. “What? And miss the show?” Willow tugged at Xander. “There are probably better places to watch?” Xander disagreed. “Nah! This is prime seating!”
Evie snarled, “Listen to her, dude! Life is good. Death is bad!”
Buffy readied herself for combat. “I can take ’em if I need to.”
Evie rolled her eyes and glanced at Buffy. “You, I’m not worried about.”
Duncan moved and blocked Joe’s progress with his blade. Jonas stood near the Highlander, whispering, “Let him through.”
Joe pushed the Katana away, and said in a low, calm voice, “Stop, Warren, and take a deep breath. I have some . . . news.”
Duncan followed Joe, his Katana still ready. Warren hissed.
“Back off, Mac,” Joe warned him.
Jonas reached out a hand to restrain him. “Leave it be, Highlander. He needs this.” Duncan stopped, but avowed, “I won’t interfere if Joe’s not harmed.”
Jonas whispered to him, “Warren will die before he harms him.”
Warren demanded, “Why am I still here? I should be back on Terra, and I’m still here.”
Joe looked at him sympathetically. “The spell didn’t work, Warren. But she’s safe now.”
Trapper and Nick sat back down. Trapper grabbed her deserted cup, and apologized to it by taking a good long gulp. She put her feet up on the table and leaned against Nick. “Well, time to sit back and watch the show.”
Nick nodded and stared at the action, while Evie relaxed marginally.
Warren sat in his chair, his eyes vacant as he stared into nothing. “But LaCroix . . . and then Ackron . . . I thought I’d be home . . . ”
Duncan muttered to Jonas, “Well, I want to be near, just in case.” He sheathed his blade. “But I won’t interfere.” Jonas removed his hand from Duncan’s arm, certain that he wouldn’t do anything rash.
Angelique reached out to Warren, then stopped. “I should have never done this.” Jonas breathed into her ear, “You’re right. But we all make mistakes.”
Evie looked at him, puzzled at the tingling sensation at the back of her neck.
Angelique turned and looked at Jonas, “But he wanted it. I had reservations.” Jonas shook his head, “You know better, after all this time.”
She sighed, “After Sion was gone . . . you know how it was.”
“No. You forget where I’ve been the past eighty years.”
“No, I haven’t. Hanna reminded us plenty.”
He smarted under the barb. It was quite apparent that Angelique didn’t like Hanna at all. Probably, if he was reading them right, she disliked her because of Micah and Starr. “She can be stubborn.”
“But, even in the urn, you know . . . ”
“Yes, you’re right. I know what it’s like to lose a Childe.”
“Hanna thinks you’re dead.”
“Yes. She found my prison. But she doesn’t know that John is here, or what he has done.”
Vachon stood. “I’m done here.” Kat rose along with him, still silent as the grave.
Nick looked at him. “You got a ride, Vachon?”
He shrugged. “Thanks. We’ll . . . walk.”
Joe reached out and handed Warren a small bracelet. “She’s better now, though. You did help Greer.”
Warren looked at the bracelet, then at Joe, and actually smiled. “I did!” His eyes lit up, and he laughed long and hard, so hard that tears roll down his cheeks. As he sobs in his joy, Joe put his hand on his shoulder, relieved that the wounds were starting to heal.
Angelique looked at Jonas, her face stricken. “That’s Micah’s!”
Jonas smiled. “Not to worry. He and I have . . . discussed it.”
Micah tried his damnedest to pretend to not be listening to the two of them, but when he suddenly looked sheepish, his sister called his bluff. He shrugged, “‘S’Alright, sis.”
Warren choked a bit, then slowly stopped crying. Joe smiled at him wryly. “What a long, strange trip THAT was, huh, kid?”
Nick and Trapper, embarrassed by the sudden overflow of emotion, began edging toward the door.
Buffy wandered over to the table, picked up the tape and asked, “Hey! Has everybody seen this tape?”
Angelique noticed the trio of teens, and with a “Good Goddess!” moved off toward them.
“Goddess?” Warren’s head came up. “Where?”
Xander tripped over a chair trying to back up. Evie moved in front of them again. “Hey, Angie! Long time no see!”
Angelique stopped dead in her tracks. “NEVER call me Angie!”
Joe chuckled as he ushered Warren over to his forgotten bottle of blood.
Evie backpedaled suddenly. “Whoa! Sorry. Angelique. Remember me? Annoying mortal?” Trapper hissed softly and growled.
Angelique hissed, “Yes. My question is who allowed the mortals to witness all of this?”
Nick shrugged and pointed to Buffy, “She’s the slayer.”
Angelique scanned Buffy and her friends. “A teenage slayer?”
Buffy shrugged. “Works for me. I could kick your butt.”
Angelique shook her head. “I hope the Enforcers don’t get wind of this.”
Buffy looked at her. “Enforcers?”
Evie tapped her foot impatiently and put her hands on her hips. “They seem to miss a lot.”
Marcus leaned over to Buffy, making her jump. “Call them Policemen, my dear.”
“Well,” Angelique smiled, “I guess I do have some pull.”
Jonas touched the back of her neck again. “You always did.”
She struggled to ignore the familiar tingle she felt at his touch, and looked at Xander. “Perhaps I could make arrangements to not let this leak.”
Xander regarded her as if he were a cornered rabbit.
“Come on, Angelique. You’re scaring the kids. They mean well.”
Nick and Trapper were even closer to the door. “Evie? Need a lift?” Nick called out to her, tossing her the car keys, and then unlocked the front door. Evie sighed heavily, then caught the keys.
LaCroix glared at Warren as he approached the bar.
Warren was careful to NOT make eye contact with him. “Umm . . . I guess I owe you an apology, huh?”
LaCroix stood there, stony‑faced, and said nothing.
Warren cleared his throat, gulped down the rest of his bottle, and then, “I was . . . kind of under the influence . . . so to speak . . . I, uh . . . sorry.”
LaCroix narrowed his eyes.
Warren kept trying. “I guess . . . um . . . I don’t have an excuse for my behavior LaCroix. None that you or anyone else would understand.” Warren looked at Joe, who was glaring at LaCroix with all his might.
“I don’t need to understand,” LaCroix snarled. “Nor do I want to. Know only if you do it again, you’re a dead man.”
Warren looked at him, and quickly lost all the built up good humor he had regained. He became more pale as he whispered, “Okay.”
LaCroix turned away from him and joined the others.
Angelique casually picked up the “Button” torture tapes and asked, “What’s this?”
LaCroix shrugged. “I have a TV in the back room.”
Jonas noticed Evie for the first time as she turned back to the bar. She looked at him again, still puzzled. Nick interrupted her reverie. “We think we’ll walk. If you’re going to stay, you could drive the Caddy.”
She grinned. “You’ll let me drive? Way kewl!”
Joe whispered to Warren, “I think you need to . . . go back to your hotel and . . . recharge . . . ”
Warren took the hint and vanished in a vortex of energy.
Jonas approached Evie, and without hesitation, announced, “I know you.”
She turned to him, the hair on her neck standing on end. “I feel like I know you from somewhere.”
Nick shook his head. “This is our cue to leave.” Trapper smiled back, “We thought we’d get some . . . air.”
Joe rolled his eyes. “Would someone throw a bucket of cold water on them, please?”
Jonas reached out with his senses. “You smell of my wife.”
Evie bristled. “Humph! That’s not a particularly polite observation, but . . . okay, I’ll bite. Who’s your wife?”
Jonas bowed slightly. “Excuse me. I meant no offense. Simply put, Hanna.”
Her mouth hung open as she stood, dumbstruck.
He smiled at her, the ever fatal Caesar smile.
Angelique felt her own knees melting as she leaned over to Evie and whispered, ‘He’s a looker, isn’t he? For a guy in an urn for 80 years.”
She agreed with her. “He’s certainly kept well.” Then she turned back to him suddenly. “Oh my god! Do you know where she is now?”
He sighed. “I wish that I didn’t.”
during Coffee, etc.
There was no color, only a myriad of greys and there was no sound save the rushing of the wind.
She had become cognizant walking up a road overlooking Toronto. The city lights were sparkling fiercely; they enthralled her, distracting her from her task. Sometime later, there was a gentle but insistent nudge on the back of her leg and she turned to see a large grey wolf loping away. It circled back, whining and encouraging her to follow.
Eventually the hill flattened and the trees receded, revealing an expanse of manicured lawn. An imposing stone fortress sat proudly at the center, commanding attention. Although the mixture of modern Toronto and medieval castle seemed incongruous, Kat knew from experience that this was not the symbolic representation it appeared to be – but rather an actual, physical location.
This stronghold, towers and all, was a reality – a solid construct existing in real time and space. Kat, on the other hand, was not. She had substance but no form; She was aware but no one was aware of her.
Except the Wolf, and it was a spirit. There was no way to know if the animal existed elsewhere as a physical being, as Kat did. But, the Wolf was a powerful creature and she would be a fool to ignore its significance.
Following silently behind the Wolf, it became increasingly hard for Kat to disregard the massive structure that loomed nearby. It lorded over them like a gigantic tick, gorged on the blood of millions. The grass, the stone and the sky were a somber grey, but the castle windows emanated a crimson glow. Each pane of glass was a secret housed within; The torture of innocent mortals being only one.
Carried on the wind, a plaintive wail rose and fell, urging her onward, but the Wolf would go no farther. Kat passed through the gates onto the immediate grounds. She knew that with or without the spirit guide, there was no turning back until she found Tracy Vetter.
Meanwhile, Back at the Coroner’s
“Dr. Lambert?” Benton asked the woman bent over the table examining the neck of a corpse.
“Yes?” Nat turned and faced a Mountie in full dress Reds with spectacular blue eyes. A Mountie she hadn’t seen since she had been hanging upside down in her underwear, in New Orleans at the mercy of that twisted bastard LaCroix. Trouble. That’s what this handsome guy meant.
“I hate to disturb you, but it’s rather important.” Benton took off his hat.
Nat turned around. “Go ahead Constable.” Dread churned in her gut.
“Well, I picked up some friends for Detective Knight this afternoon. ” He took a deep breath. “They seem to have come up missing.”
“I see.” Nat shrugged. “And how do we know they are missing?”
“This.” He moved aside and two very large, very ticked off looking black Leopards stalked into the office. “Angelique wouldn’t let them loose on their own.”
Oh God. Nat looked into the eyes of one of the big cats and swore she could see worry. “Umm, how did you get them in here?”
“The back way. I was quite discreet.”
About that time Schanke barreled into t he office. “Hey Nat, you seen Knight?” He stopped dead as one of the cats snarled at his sudden appearance. “What is this, a safari?” He took in Fraser. “I see the circus is in town. What does the RCMP want with a couple of kitties?”
“They are informants.” Benton Fraser informed Schanke.
Schanke laughed. “You Mounties have such a sense of humor.”
“Did you say that you haven’t seen Nick tonight?”
“Nah, supposedly he booked off early.”
Natalie and Benton locked eyes.
Coffee, Comraderie and Confrontations, part two
11:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.
Evie moved closer to him. “I saw her. It was . . . well, horrible doesn’t begin to describe it.”
He wanted to block it from his mind, but could not. “I heard her. She called to me when they began raping her.”
“We’ve got to do something,” she insisted, “or there won’t be anything left of her worth saving.”
He looked at her with something akin to heartbreak in his eyes. He had spent nearly a millennia with Hanna beside him. The thought that she could be absent from his life was sheer torture. But, for her to still live, and yet be twisted and dead to herself and all that she loved . . . was a thought he couldn’t bear. “I believe, my dear, that we may be too late to save anything.”
Angelique gave Xander another leering look, and then turned to the TV, which Friedreich and Methos were bringing out. “Well, I for one, want to see what’s on the tape.”
Vachon and Kat looked at each other as they finally made it to the top of the stairs. No. They weren’t going to watch that tape again. They turned, and were gone out the door.
Joe hobbled forward. “What’s on that tape anyway?”
LaCroix put the tape in the VCR, and it not only fed into the TV that had been brought out from the back room, but into all the tiny screens around the club.
Tracy, with Horton at his “best,” was in agony. And then it flashed to the torture of Amanda.
Joe had made it to a chair before Amanda’s face came on the screen. He fell down into it in shock. Oh no! Not Amanda too!
LaCroix narrowed his eyes. “Is that . . . ?”
Nick replied by smashing his fist into the wall.
“Tracy Vetter,” Angelique vocalized.
Methos, Duncan and Zara all followed Joe’s lead, and stiffened in shock at the sight of Amanda.
Joe whispered, looking a little wild about the eyes, “Makes you wonder just what kind of sick entities run this universe, doesn’t it?”
Angelique looked a bit paler, all the while looking suddenly gleeful. “Look! We have a new friend!”
A man with all the appearances of vieing for the job of “Billy Idol Wannabe” suddenly appeared in the video, assisting when and where he could.
“Spike!” Buffy spat, then snarled.
“Not a good combo, those three.” Angelique shook her head.
Jonas looked at Evie, agreeing with her, but knowing that to rush off and rescue Hanna would be lethal. He had to be certain that they were committed with no sign of hesitation. “Do you know what you’re saying? Do you know what it is you wish to go to? Look at what happened to your friend. And he was no enemy of theirs. Just an opportune moment. She has been, and always will be, an enemy of hers.”
“Hell no!” Evie snapped in defiance. “But I can’t let her go now!” She caught a glimpse of the video out of the corner of her eye, and turned to look. “Oh, no! Not that again!”
“You see?” He looked at the video. “Those women mean nothing to them. She does.”
“We can’t let creatures like this get away with crap like that!”
“We won’t,” he assured her. “But I know my wife. I know how well she . . . handled this the last time.”
Micah butted in, “Better than I did!” He couldn’t believe that Jonas was decrying Hanna’s ability to handle her torture.
Jonas sighed as he looked at Micah. “You didn’t see her the first couple of centuries.”
“No,” he agreed, “but I know she is a very strong woman.”
“Yes. That she is. But even the strong can be broken.” He looked pointedly at Marcus. “If you hit them right.”
Micah’s dark eyes looked empty. “Yeah.”
Evie looked between them, feeling suddenly ill, and looking quite green. “You mean this has happened before?”
“Of a sort. She was mortal then. She was raped for nearly two weeks by a Roman cohort before I was able to free her.”
Evie turned to the espresso machine. “How charming.”
Trapper called out, “Oh, Evie! Get me another, would you? There’s a dear!”
Angelique watched the tape until Joe turned it off. She heard the exchange between Jonas and Evie and muttered, “Been there. Done that.”
“That’s sick!” Joe snarled violently. He turned to Duncan and Methos. “We can’t just sit on our asses. We have to do something about those bastards! NOW!”
Micah moved forward in agreement. “We need a plan.”
A disembodied voice added, “I say we nuke the mofo’s.”
Xander piped up, “I agree with the voice!”
LaCroix would have loved to hit Warren, but had to be satisfied with, “I don’t relish a nuclear winter, thank you.”
“Why do you think I am here?” Nick asked as he joined the group.
Joe nodded to Micah. “At least someone is thinking along the same track.”
“A plan is going to be the only thing that can possibly help them now,” Nick added. “If we act independently, we’re not as likely to succeed.” He turned to Trapper, looking a bit sheepish. “Listen to me! A motivational speaker!”
She smiled at him.
Warren’s voice paused for a moment. “Oh. It was a thought.” He cackled suddenly. “Nuclear cows! Mooo . . . !”
Nick looked vaguely sick.
Skye turned to Micah, “You’ve been on the inside. What do we need to know?”
“We all know where we have to go,” Jonas said, “but we need more than a plan.”
Starr stumbled out of the back room, blood running freely from her nose and tear ducts.
Angelique glared at her. “Great timing.”
Friedreich moved to her side and caught her as she fell.
“Children . . . ,” she gasped.
Micah was distracted by Starr’s appearance. “Starr?” He moved closer to her, only to be snarled at by Friedreich.
Evie moved to her as well, startled by her appearance. “Oh my god! Starr!”
“…they’re using children . . . ,” she gasped.
“Well, she finally got what she deserved, ” Angelique muttered contentedly, and felt nearly a dozen pairs of eyes on her. She shrugged. “She’ll heal . . . unfortunately.”
Micah snarled at her. “Thanks for the input.”
Evie watched Starr, and decided enough was enough. “We need action!” She zipped her jacket. “Let’s move!”
Trapper stood and cracked her knuckles.
“WAAAAIIIITTTT! PAUSE. STOP. HALT. DESIST!” Warren shouted through the room.
All motion stopped.
“Sorr‑ee!” Trapper muttered.
“And I thought my life in Sunnydale was weird!” Buffy whispered to Willow.
Warren, still disembodied, giggled in an evil‑jester sort of way.
“NO!” Starr tried to yell, choking on blood. “It’s a trap!”
Warren materialized in the room. “It’s not a trap, Starr.”
She glared at him, hating him.
Evie moved forward. “Enough comments from the peanut gallery! Let’s move!”
“NO!” Warren yelled at her.
Duncan reached out to her. “We need to get a better plan.”
Warren smiled at him. “Thank you, Duncan.”
Trapper bared her fangs. “Whether it’s a trap or not, we’re going in there, and we’re getting Hanna!”
“No!” Starr coughed weakly. “That’s the trap!”
Duncan swallowed. “And become August bait?”
Warren smiled again. “No. August is the bait.”
Trapper looked at him pointedly. “She can try!”
“You don’t get it,” Starr mumbled. “Hanna is the bait.”
Duncan shrugged. “There’s safety in numbers.”
Evie sighed and conceded. “Right, then. What do the older heads have to say?” she asked, looking pointedly at Duncan.
Warren held up his hand, revealing a small snow globe.
“Oh, look!” Willow exclaimed. “More hocus pocus!”
“Do we squish her now, or just keep her here for all eternity?” Warren asked, smiling.
Starr struggled to sit up. “She doesn’t want any of us! She wants him!” She pointed at Jonas, wishing she could speak freely.
“I was thinking of using August to get to Horton . . . THEN kill August using the slowest, most painful torture around.”
Angelique looked from Starr to Jonas, feeling a slight panic. “So, she knows he is loose?”
“She knows everything!” She tried to say more, wanted to tell them what was happening, but the pressure in her head wouldn’t allow it.
Trapper snarled. “I’m for Horton, that slime monster! He’s got a debt to pay!”
“I get Horton!” Micah’s voice came, deadly earnest.
Trapper snarled at him, “Stand in line, buddy!”
“I’ve got rights to take Horton’s head!” he insisted.
“Fine! I get the rest!” Nick placed a comforting hand on her shoulder.
Micah smiled, full of blood and revenge. “Deal.”
Warren blinked slowly. “Uh, guys . . . I got August right here.” He pointed to the snow globe.
All eyes were on him, and he grinned, a little blood on his fangs.
Starr screamed, “TRAP!”
Warren ignored her, and looked at Joe. “I recharged. August didn’t taste very good. But I got her!”
“He’s lying!” Starr wanted to scream until they listened to her. She wanted to tell them, needed to tell them, but she wasn’t even allowed to think it, in case someone decided to try to scan her mind.
Evie sighed. “Great. Psycho vampires on the loose.”
Warren continued as if he hadn’t been interrupted. “She should be regenerating by now.”
“Yeah,” she muttered. “I believe that. Thousands wouldn’t.”
Buffy asked dubiously, “So how does this little magic show prove that this August chick is dead?”
“Oh . . . she’s not dead . . . ”
Evie looked to Jonas for his reaction.
“She isn’t dead. I would know it.”
Warren blinked as he looked at Jonas. “Yeah . . . that . . . but like I said . . . ”
“So what?” Buffy asked. “She’s like waiting for us to come after this Hanna?”
Warren’s eyes widened. “Oooo! Wait . . . !”
Jonas looked at him carefully. “Clever.” He shimmered briefly, then melded down into the floor.
“Not really,” Trapper smirked. “Childish is more like it.”
Warren started muttering an incantation. The snow globe grew to the size of a 72″ TV screen. The building in the globe was a mirror of Casa Loma.
Evie frowned as it expanded, and moved away. Marcus moved quickly to her side.
“Almost Copperfield quality,” Willow admired as the rest of the group moved together.
Nick grabbed Trapper’s arm. “I’m not sure about this.”
“Soooo . . . like I was saying . . . I trapped August in the globe, ” Warren smiled proudly.
Starr shook her head. “NO!” How was she supposed to get them away from him when she couldn’t tell them to run?!
Evie looked around for a good place to hide, while Micah spoke everyone’s thought. “I still smell fishy all over this globe thing.”
“I know you all think I’m insane . . . which by some standards I am. But . . . Anyway . . . ”
Evie muttered, “Oh, you’re way past that milepost, buddy! You missed that exit by miles!”
Micah moved next to Starr and though Friedreich glared at him, he didn’t threaten him.
Warren blinked slowly. “Mile post? …Where?” He looked about.
There was a bit of static, then the globe started to crack. The air was filled suddenly with the sounds of swords being drawn.
“Hey! Watch that point!” Angelique growled as she was poked in the rear by a blade.
Trapper grabbed Nick’s arm and snarled, quite irritated.
Warren turned on the globe. “NO! I’M NOT DONE YET!!” There was another crack, a bit like the way a car windshield cracked. Warren’s eyes started to bleed, and his fangs extended. He started muttering ineffective incantations.
“Stop him!” Starr yelled.
“How?!” Evie yelled back. She fumbled through her bag and grabbed a bottle of holy water.
“This does not bode well!” Buffy exclaimed as she took a step backwards.
Tendrils of black energy flowed from Warren’s hands and circled the globe.
The globe swelled even more, and Evie jumped, dropping her bottle, which shattered on the floor. “SHIT!” she swore.
“NO! I “LMOST H”D THEM “LL!” Warren screamed at the globe.
“Oh no!” Angelique exclaimed as she watched in horrified fascination.
The globe expanded again, and Warren turned on the group. “D”MN!”
Xander grabbed Willow and dragged her behind the bar.
Warren spun back around and faced the globe, then turned his energies upon the group. Black tendrils of power reached out from the globe, and the black energy surrounded everyone in the room.
“It’s the magic!” Angelique yelled, near panic. “The magic’s driving him over the edge!”
Trapper made a warding sign before her, which naturally didn’t work.
The globe shattered, and everything went black. Evie tried feeling her way around on the floor as a lot of the group stumbled around each other.
The blackness cleared, and they were no longer in the Raven.
“What the . . . ,” Duncan exclaimed. He looked around.
The barren landscape stretched out for infinity. It was cold upon cold. The clouds were an “icky” grey, and the soil was dry and cracked.
“What the Hell?!” Friedreich muttered, echoing Duncan.
Evie fumbled around on the dry, cracked soil. “Shit!”
Nick and Trapper still gripped each other’s arms, appalled.
Marcus looked around. “Would that John were here.”
Starr shook her head in grief. “I told you!”
Evie growled at her, irritated. “You didn’t tell us nearly enough!”
“I didn’t know what he would do!” She actually did, but she still wasn’t free to say it.
“I see you got us into another fine mess, Starr,” Angelique accused unjustly as always.
“I didn’t do anything! You’re the one who gave him the power!”
“What?” Angelique stopped cold.
“He never had power enough to do anything like this! But you brought him across! And that bitch got her talons in him!” She glared at Angelique, hating her for always blaming everything on her. “YOU did it, Angelique!”
“Ah, but I DID put on a good show, didn’t I?” Warren laughed evilly. “Oh . . . I’m so lost and I’m so sorry,” he whined mockingly. Then he laughed again. “Stupid foolish insignificant bugs!”
“Well, fine!” Trapper snarled.
Evie got up and dusted herself off. “Why do I feel like a bug in a jar?”
Angelique thought about it for a moment. “Well, if she can do this, I should be able to counteract it.”
“It’s too late!” Starr screamed at her. “Don’t you get it?!”
“It’s NEVER too late!” Angelique snarled back.
“She’s got him! It was never he alone! Get a grip!” Trapper yelled at her.
“Especially you, Joseph. Warren expected better of you. We did play you like a harp, didn’t we?” He laughed, his voice sounding more and more like a combination of voices. “Oh, Warren wasn’t exactly willing, mind you. But he’s so very compliant now!”
In a flash of murky light he appeared, covered in odd, strange shadows. His features were darker, more threatening and sinister.
Nick felt his stomach twist. “Elmo would be very unhappy.”
LaCroix looked at him, then agreed. “Yes. He would.”
“You thought you could what? Actually win? HA! Good triumphs over evil . . . Maybe in a perfect world.”
Evie screamed in frustration, “Kick your butt, you twat!”
He grinned maliciously. “You are weak . . . so . . . limited . . . and in that we have already won!”
Trapper became very quite and cold. “Evie. Remember: Revenge is a dish best served, how?”
She took a deep breath, shaking with rage.
LaCroix put his arm about Angelique and quietly whispered in her ear. She smiled, and whispered, “Of course.”
“This sucks!” Buffy muttered.
Warren whipped around to face Evie and Trapper and was about to retort, when he got an “inward” sort of look. “D”MN! It seems I don’t get to play with you yet . . . ”
The same inky black energy enveloped them, and everything was once again black. This time, they felt the cold, hard marble beneath them and heard the nearby lapping of water.
“Not again!” cursed many voices at once.
As they opened their eyes, the few who had been there before recognized Casa Loma.
A voice came from behind them. “We are happy you could join us.”
Micah, as he realized where he was, felt the hate welling inside him.
“We were beginning to wonder if any of you would make it this far.”
As vision cleared, they could see Warren standing off in one corner, his eyes glowing red. His pearl white fangs glinted in the poor lighting.
The voice came from behind them again. “And we do like company, do we not, Warren?”
“Yes, we do,” he hissed as he grinned maliciously.
Angelique stared at him and whispered, “Betrayed by my own blood.”
He snarled at her, “I “M NOT YOURS “ND I NEVER W”S, YOU FOOL!”
“But enough of that now,” the voice continued. “Angelique, be silent. Or your brother will endure yet another bout of his fate.”
Warren grinned. “I wouldn’t mind helping with that.”
Evie replied conversationally, “You know, they have a 12‑step program for control freaks.”
“The first order of business is this . . . ” the voice became hauntingly familiar. Hanna stepped out of the shadows. “Come to me, my husband. I long to feel your embrace.”
She appeared to be looking at Micah, which caused some confusion, until Jonas emerged from the wall behind him. She grinned then, very nearly matching Warren.
“Odd,” Angelique muttered, Ashe never felt that way before.”
Micah stared at Hanna, his heart sinking inside of him. “Not Hanna too!” He paled visibly.
“Exactly the point, Micah dear,” she smiled. “If they can have me, they can have anyone!”
Duncan looked around, counting heads. “Are we missing anyone?”
From everywhere at once came Warren’s voice. “FOOLS!”
All Trussed Up and Nowhere to Go
Tracy woke to the long, drawn out groaning of wood overhead.
“Daddy?” she called hoarsely.
Waiting to hear his patented gruff answer, it took a few moments for her to remember that she was not in her childhood bed, hiding under the covers. The realization that her father would not be coming in to kiss her on the forehead and sit with her until she fell asleep wrenched a sob out of her. As the physical pain awoke, too, Tracy bit her lip to keep from crying.
She needed to pull herself together. Not because Horton would torture her more if he caught her weeping – he didn’t seem to care either way – but because she was still alive. There was no way she was going to spend whatever time she had left sniveling like a baby. Tracy calmed herself and tried to think rationally.
It was pitch black and, until her eyes began to adjust, she had mistakenly assumed she was blindfolded. She couldn’t tell much about her surroundings in the dark, besides the fact that this was not the oak paneled room she had been held in earlier. This room felt much smaller and for some reason, she got the impression it was round.
“Amanda,” she croaked in as tiny a voice as possible.
There was no answer, but that didn’t rule out the possibility that she was lying somewhere nearby. The amount of torture that had been inflicted upon the other woman was inconceivable. Tracy was sure she had seen Amanda die of her wounds on several occasions – only to regain consciousness a short time later. In a perverse way, which shamed her deeply, Tracy had begun to welcome those resurrections because they turned Horton’s depraved attentions away from her and back to Amanda. The ungodly things he had done to her, to them both . . .
Forcing herself to focus on something more productive in order to preserve her sanity, Detective Vetter squirmed. It was a small, controlled movement to test her bounds. Yep, still hanging. She had lost the feeling in her hands and arms so long ago that she doubted their existence, except that something had to be holding her up off of the ground.
Tracy struggled wildly then, grunting in frustration. A new set of aches and pains suddenly tore through her; that impulsive motion had jarred stiff muscles and torn open partially scabbed wounds. She stopped fighting and gasped for air.
Think, Tracy, think. Who knows you’re missing? She hadn’t told anyone the exact time she would be returning from Paris, but she was scheduled to work Monday night. Tonight, she guessed. Nobody would even begin to get worried until Tuesday. Horton and his demented accomplice hadn’t killed her yet, so they probably had a ransom on her – which meant they knew who she was. Her father was by no means rich; Maybe it was simply revenge?
She doubted the videotaping was solely for their own amusement. If that had been the case, she would be either dead or hanging in the same room as before, waiting for the next round of fun and games. She would not be swinging here, like a duck on display in a Chinatown shop window.
On display . . .
Then it hit her – She wasn’t stashed here just for safekeeping. Tracy was being used as bait! Where was she and who were they trying to attract?
A Deep Breath
by Trapper & Evie
Trapper, Evie and Nick picked themselves up and breathlessly surveyed their surroundings . . .
Methos, noticing their breathless anticipations of action, said, “Well, this could be interesting. Mind if I join in?” And took a deep, long breath . . .
Waiting to Exhale
Methos looked at Trapper, Evie and Nick. He noticed that they were all a rather unhealthy shade of blue. He nudged Nick in the ribs, none too gently. They all let out their breaths in an explosive rush of air. “I was just going to mention that you can breathe now. Warren seems to have left.”
“Whoa!” Trapper gasped. “What a rush!” She glanced around. “So, where were we, Evie?” Silence greeted her question. Trapper turned and touched Evie’s shoulder. “Evie?”
Trapper and Nick looked at each other over Evie’s head. “You know,” Nick said worriedly. “I have a bad feeling about this.”
Just then, Evie began to speak . . .
“…if they can have me, they can have anyone.”
Friedreich watched her, not wanting to believe it for a minute. Not Hanna. Not in a million years.
Marcus watched in shock as well. He had seen her at some of her worst moments. And he never would have imagined that she could be beaten into submission. Least of all by August.
For Jonas, however, it was the worst. He remembered the look in her eyes the first time he had spoken to her, after he rescued her from the Norman cohort. He remembered her eyes as she watched Paolo burn; her only Childe, until Starr. He remembered all the countless losses she survived over the years, from the Inquisition and on, and never, in all that time, did she ever hold the look of a wilderland in her eyes. His Hanna. He though he knew her enough to know that she would die before being broken. And he was wrong.
She watched their reactions, hating every minute of it. She knew that one ounce of a hint at the truth would send August and Horton to her “children.” So she maintained the stance. She had watched August enough over the years, so it wasn’t hard to pretend evil. Her prime concern was to keep Warren from hurting anyone, since she knew for a certainty that HE wasn’t faking it.
“Warren,” she smiled sweetly, “do be a dear. Would you be so kind as to inform the Mistress that her guests have arrived? You know how she is about magic, so you’ll have to take the long way, I’m afraid. But she isn’t far. And she’ll want to welcome them . . . personally.”
He laughed a bit sadistically, and then left the room.
Jonas looked at her in absolute horror when she referred to August as “Mistress.”
But she didn’t have time for this. She only had one shot, and she had to make it good, or it was over.
Evie felt her mouth open, and the voice that came out was definitely NOT hers.
“I know what you are thinking. I do not have time to explain fully. There are ten children in one of the rooms that she is holding against my “good behavior.” One has already been Embraced. The others will be as well if I do not “Obey.” You have to find them, and protect them, so that I may be free to act. Friedreich, I would send you, but she would notice if you became lupus. So you need to go along to protect those I send. Evie, I need you here, since she can detect me sending out my thoughts to everyone, except for you it seems. You are a resistor, are you not? Trapper, you seem to posses a unique . . . skill. That will be needed should anyone try to stop you. Duncan, you are still the best of the Immortals. Your sword is needed in case you encounter any. Marcus, you can deal best with those of . . . our inclinations. And . . . Buffy? You are a slayer. You go along as well, just in case. They are on the second floor, in the middle room on the left side. It will stand out, since it is the only door with the locks on the outside. The fledgling will attempt to prevent your entry unless you give him this . . . ”
Hanna pulled her wedding ring off her index finger and handed it to Trapper. Jonas raised an eyebrow, and she touched his cheek.
“Do not look at me like that. It is the only thing about me he knows cannot be counterfeited, since your blood is in it. Now, no more time. You must hurry, before she gets wind of it!”
The Children’s Crusade
by Trapper, with edits and additions by Hanna
Trapper had listened to Hanna’s/Evie’s speech with growing amazement. “Wait a minute! You want me to go save . . . children?!”
Marcus looked at her as those named by Hanna began to group together. “We have to protect them. They could all perish.”
Trapper looked back at him over her shades. “And this is a problem?” The other party members looked aghast. “Hey, I’ve got cats. I don’t like kids. OK?”
Buffy checked her supply of stakes as she spoke. “Yeah, but these kids could end up as the lunch that really comes back on you.”
“I see your point. Right then; let’s go save the fractious little beasts.” She turned back to Hanna. “And, I have your word that if Evie stays here she’ll be safe?”
Hanna stared pointedly at her, trying not to be offended. But, she realized that her honor had been compromised by her apparent compliance with August’s game, so she held her temper. Evie’s mouth opened, and her voice said simply, “I will guard her with my life.”
“I’ll take you at your word then. Mind, if this proves not to be the case, if anything happens, there is no part of Hell that my dark Gods and I can’t reach.” Their eyes locked for a moment. Satisfied by what she saw, Trapper bowed and turned away.
Trapper and Evie exchanged brief hugs. “May your Gods be with you.”
“And yours with you,” Evie returned. “Go scrag the bastards!” she smiled. “Hey, Nick!” Evie called out to their retreating backs. “Take care of my partner!”
Nick nodded and took Trapper’s hand as they headed off into the dark corridor behind Duncan and Marcus. Buffy and Friedreich followed.
They walked in silence until they were safely away from the rest of the Raven abductees, and Hanna.
“So, tell me, Chevalier,” Marcus dropped back to speak to Nick. “Why have you decided to come along on our little escapade? Are you afraid I might get a little close to your playmate?” He smiled and projected his best drop‑dead‑gorgeous stare at Trapper. “I don’t believe I’ve actually made your acquaintance, Trapper.”
Nick stiffened as Trapper turned to look at Marcus. She cocked her head at him, momentarily puzzled. Her eyes widened suddenly, and she backed into Nick as if she’d been a Christian scalded with holy water! “Oh, man! Seriously facially challenged!” Nick looked at the ceiling, trying unsuccessfully to stifle a snicker. “I don’t mean to be rude,” she couldn’t stop staring at him. “But, what kind of vampire “RE you?”
Marcus tried to recover his shredded dignity. “Nosferatu. And I don’t understand how you could see through the mask.”
Trapper smiled and extended her hands, palms out. “Glamour just doesn’t work on me. Sorry. It was a good one, though.” She patted his arm, very briefly.
“You’re exactly why I came along,” Nick said to Marcus, regaining his composure and becoming serious again. “If anything happens, I don’t want you feeding Trapper your contaminated blood.” Marcus nodded, still trying to regain his aplomb.
“It’s OK, Nick.” Trapper touched her small, beaten‑up backpack. “I’ve brought C‑rations along.”
“I’m not going to ask.” He looked around. “C’mon. They’re getting ahead of us.”
Buffy muttered to herself after witnessing the brief exchange, “They’re the good guys. They’re the good guys.” She pulled out her crossbow as she walked, and armed it. “If these are the good guys, I’m getting RE”DY for the bad guys!”
Suffer the Children
Thomas looked around at the other kids. They were all scared, just like he was. Only, they were scared of him too.
It wasn’t his fault! That mean, nasty lady did the bad thing to him! And now, the other kids hated him.
He wanted to sit down in a corner and cry, but his new “mommy” asked him to make sure no one tried to hurt the other kids.
He thought about his new mommy. None of them were really afraid of her, probably because she was nearly the same size as they all were. And she was the only one who had been nice to them since the mean lady had taken them out of their day care.
He almost cried again when he thought about the nice day care lady. He didn’t want to remember what they did to her when she tried to keep them from taking the kids.
Then he thought about his new mommy, and how she saved them from those little fishes that were going to eat them all up. He was never going to go in the water again!
And then he remembered what the mean lady had said to his mommy. He didn’t understand most of it, but he knew that if his mommy didn’t do the bad things that the mean lady wanted, then the mean lady was going to make the rest of the kids just like him. And he knew his new mommy well enough to know that she would do anything to keep them safe. That’s why he trusted her.
He heard a little rustling noise near the window, and he ran over to see what it was.
There, on the window sill, was a Tickle Me Elmo Doll! Just like the one he had at his real . . . home. The tears started to well up, and Elmo looked up at him. “Oh, little boy sad! Don’t cry, little boy! Elmo is little boy’s friend!”
He stared at Elmo in wonder. Elmo was talking to him!
“Hee hee!” Elmo laughed as he climbed in the window.
“Wow!” “Elmo!” “It’s Elmo!” The kids all ran over to see the walking, talking Elmo. “Can I play with him?” “Let me!” “I saw him first!”
“Elmo play with all the children! Elmo says you should share! That’s what Elmo’s mommy says!”
“Elmo’s mommy? Is she the same mommy we have?” one little girl asked.
“Do you have a mommy?” Elmo asked.
“Uh‑huh,” she whispered. “Not our real mommy. But the mean nasty lady made her our mommy.”
“Mean, nasty lady! Elmo don’t like mean, nasty lady! Elmo thinks she’s bad!”
“Our new mommy doesn’t like her either! But the mean lady is making her do bad things, or else she said she was going to hurt us!”
“Wow! Elmo sorry for your mommy.”
“Yeah. Hanna mommy is nice mommy!”
“H”NNA L”DY!” Elmo jumped up and down, clapping his hands. “ELMO MISSES HANNA LADY!”
The children all looked at each other. “You know our mommy?”
“YE”H! Hanna Lady Elmo’s best friend!”
For the first time since their abductions, the children smiled . . .
My Whole World Lies Waiting Behind Door Number Three
They felt as if they had been in the stuffy, dark corridors forever. The dim light barely showed what a lovely place it would be under better circumstances. As it was, the miasma of evil that permeated the walls discouraged any art appreciation the little band of warriors might have wanted to indulge in.
Duncan stopped in the middle of the hall, and looked to the left. There was the door they were after, stout oak, with locks on the outside. He looked around and whispered, “OK, who wants to take care of this part?”
Marcus stepped up. “I can do this quietly. Stand to the side, please.” He grasped the lock in his preternaturally strong fingers and pulled until it gave way. “That should do it. Trapper, I believe you have the ring?”
Trapper muttered, “Does this mean: looks dangerous. You go first?” She and Nick stepped to the door. Duncan and Marcus stood guard the way they had come, while Buffy and Friedreich watched the unexplored hallway ahead. Trapper carefully opened the door.
“Hello,” she called quietly. “Anybody home? Rescue express!”
A small, white face peeked around the door. “Please don’t hurt us!”
“Sshh,” Nick said. “It’s OK. We’re here to help. Hanna sent us for you.”
The boy eyed Nick suspiciously. “How do I know that?”
Trapper handed him Hanna’s ring. “Here. She said to give you this as proof.”
He took the ring and relief washed over his face as he felt the blood within it. He stood back to let them pass.
As they entered the room, they saw a small huddle of frightened, damp children. As they moved to them, a small, red, furry cyclone detached itself from the center of the children and hurled itself at Trapper and Nick!
“COFFEEL”DY! COWM”N! ELMO MISSED YOU! Nick, Trapper and Elmo tumbled to the floor in a heap.
“Argh! Get off!”
“Elmo! Behave! Ow! Stop that!”
Duncan looked at Marcus and rolled his eyes. “So much for the element of surprise.”
A Chance Encounter
Friedreich watched the “reunion” of Nick, Trapper and Elmo with apprehension. If that little beast didn’t keep his voice down, they would all be in . . .
“Trouble!” he shouted back into the room. He blocked the doorway, listening to the others get ready behind him. The children started shrieking, and he heard Buffy whispering calmly to them.
Of course, her efforts were completely destroyed when he changed from human to lupus.
“He’s a werewolf!” one of them screamed.
“It’s okay,” Nick tried to soothe them. “He’s a friend of your . . . mommy.”
They looked at him doubtfully as they clung to each other, desperate in their fear.
The best Friedreich could tell was that there were about four Immortals, and 10 Watcher/vampires. He growled and snarled, ready to fight to the death.
But the guards had obviously known what to prepare for; They must have been warned. The first W/v that reached him pulled out a metal spray bottle. He wore protective gloves, the kind blacksmiths wore when working with . . . hot metal.
Everyone in the room heard the cries and agonizing howls as Friedreich fell to the side, his muzzle covered in molten silver.
That done, the spray bottle was cast aside, and they all entered the tiny room.
One Immortal came forward, leering at them. “You’ve lost your dog. Now, either come with us willingly, or we’ll kill every child FIRST, and then we’ll finish you off! Your choice.”
Marcus’ palms itched with the need to attack, but he knew Hanna well enough to know she would roast him alive if the children came to any harm because of him. And then, unbidden, the thought came . . . How did they know to bring the silver? How did they know there would be a Garou here? Because they were told. But, there was only one person who knew where they were.
A Sound That Could Kill Someone
Marcus was torn with indecision. ‘Damn it!’ he thought to himself. ‘She cannot make this easy for us! We shouldn’t have trusted her . . . ‘ His heart sank as he thought of their companions, left behind at her mercy. Normally, Marcus would have trusted Hanna beyond almost anyone, but now she had to be treated as August’s thrall, and not responsible for her actions. He was jolted from his dark thoughts by Trapper’s voice.
“Nick, Buffy,” Trapper said without turning. “Get Elmo and the children as far away from the door as you can. Marcus, would you be good enough to pull Frederick out of harm’s way? Duncan, please stand behind me.” She stepped forward, toward the attackers. Her companions did as she asked, with puzzled expressions.
“Trapper?” Nick asked. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“I’m going to take care of this little situation,” she answered without emotion, as she removed her shades to reveal that her eyes had become completely white.
The Immortal who had originally spoken stepped up a little closer. “So, what’s the blonde think she’s gonna do? C’mon, baby. I’ve got plans for you!” He grabbed the crotch of his pants, and looked over his shoulder to his companions, laughing.
“I don’t think so.” She spoke to her friends. “This is going to hurt.” Trapper looked to the attackers, who had all moved into the room in front of her. She smiled, showing her fangs, stretched her arms out in front of her and took a deep breath.
What came out of her mouth started as a whisper, a gentle breeze of song. As it built, it changed to breaking glass, shattering crystal. She assumed the gift of her heritage and was the Bean Sidhe, the Singer of Death. Her sightless eyes burned as her volume increased. Her hands were like talons, reaching for the would-be assailants. The wordless howl was a razor slash of ice and fire at once, a cry of such utter despair that the attackers before her fell, clutching their heads and screaming. Their screams went unheard beneath her wail. It tore their hearts, stripped flesh from bone, tore limbs from sockets and hurled the pieces into the far wall. Even that wall trembled and cracked before the onslaught of her rage. The anguish and grief of the sound were felt throughout Casa Loma, and far below, even August and Horton shuddered as if someone had just walked over their graves.
Elsewhere in the castle, Evie raised her head and smiled grimly at the sound. “Sounds like Trapper finally got to use ‘The Voice’ä. Poor suckers.”
Hanna’s eyes grew large with the realization of just what “The Voice”ä was.
LaCroix looked over from where he stood. “What do you mean?”
“I mean,” Evie paused, knowing the effect that “The Voice”ä was having on everyone, even at this distance, “someone just paid the price for being stupid enough to get in Trapper’s way.”
“Indeed,” LaCroix said, nonplused. He would definitely have to speak to Nick.
Trapper’s voice sank to a snarl as she slowly realized that there was no longer anything living in front of her. Her eyes returned to normal and she collapsed to the floor. Duncan and Marcus stepped forward to take care of the remains, to ensure that nothing would rise from the gruesome mass of pulped flesh and bone. The silver that covered Friedreich’s muzzle had cooled, and it fell from his face as he, with considerable effort, turned back to his human form. Buffy handed him some water from her pack. Nick, Elmo and the children all came to Trapper’s aid.
Nick cradled her against his chest and moved to rip open his wrist for her to drink.
“No,” she shook her head, “don’t scare the kids.” She gestured. “In my backpack.”
The child closest picked up the beaten up backpack. It was covered with Folklife Participant’s buttons, and a button that read, “Campus Crusade for C’thulu: It Found Me.” Nick reached inside and rummaged around until his hand found a small glass jar. He pulled it out and read the label.
“I might have known,” he said wryly, “instant coffee.” He opened the jar. “Now what?”
Trapper smiled as she took the jar from him and raised it to her lips. She shook a good tablespoon of crystals onto her tongue and closed her mouth. “Mmm,” she said as the crystals melted. That’s better. It’s not a latte, but it’ll do in a pinch.” Nick helped her to stand. “Whew! I’m glad I don’t do THAT every day.”
“So am I,” Marcus said dryly as he walked back into the room. “My ears are still ringing.” Duncan staggered in behind Marcus, still reeling a bit from four simultaneous Quickenings. “We’ve disposed of everything,” Marcus said with satisfaction. “There will be no resurrections this night.”
“Good,” Nick said. “Now, we need to take care of getting these children to safety. Friedreich?”
The Garou turned red-rimmed eyes to Nick and winced at the pain from his injury.
“You’re in no condition to fight for a while. If we can get the children to the ground outside, can you get them to the Raven, with Elmo’s help? Miklos should be able to find help for them.”
Friedreich nodded with effort. “Though why,” he croaked, Awe need this, this, demented TOY along, is beyond me!”
“The children like him,” Nick said simply. “And I don’t think Elmo would let anything happen to the children. For Hanna’s sake.”
“Elmo LIKE Hannalady!” Buffy warily patted Elmo’s head as he chattered away. “HAHAHA! THAT TICKLES!”
Friedreich nodded. “So, are we going out the window?”
“Exactly,” Nick said. “I’ll carry you down first, and Trapper and I will ferry the children down to you.”
When all of the children were safely outside, Trapper stepped up and carefully hugged Friedreich. “May the Gods protect you.”
Nick had moved off a little way with all of the children but the fledgling, who stood by Friedreich with Elmo. When Nick returned, he looked at Friedreich with sympathy for the pain he must be feeling from his wounds. “I’ve influenced them to remember nothing. They were lost. You found them and helped them.”
Friedreich looked at Trapper and Nick. “I’ll be back once they’re safe. Take care of Starr ‘til then, would you? And Hanna,” He looked down as if thinking something dire. His eyes had teared up a bit as he brought his head back up to meet their eyes. “Let Hanna know, somehow, that the children are safe.” Any thoughts he might have had about their possible betrayal he left unspoken.
Nick nodded. “We’ll see to it.”
“Yes,” Trapper agreed as she watched the little band move off into the waning night. “We have to go back. Evie’s there.” They rose back to the window and rejoined their companions, to return to the lion’s den.
We were working secretly for the Military
Our experiment in sound was nearly ready to begin
We only know in theory what we are doing
Music made for pleasure music made to thrill
It was music we were making here until . . .
But they told us all they wanted was a sound that would
kill someone from a distance
So we go ahead and the meters are over in the red
It’s a mistake in the making
From the painful cries of mothers to the terrifying scream
We recorded it and put it in our machine
But they told us all they wanted was a sound that would
kill someone from a distance
So we go ahead and the meters are over in the red
It’s a mistake in the making
It could feel like falling in love
It could feel so bad but it could feel so good
It could sing you to sleep but that dream is your enemy
We won’t be there to be blamed we won’t be there to snitch
I just pray that someone there can hit the switch
But they told us all they wanted was a sound that would
kill someone from a distance
So we go ahead and the meters are over in the red
It’s a mistake we have made
And the public are warned to stay off
Many Are Called
Schanke cruised slowly up the street toward Casa Loma. When the call came into the precinct, he’d told Reese he would handle it himself, shrugging off the captain’s suggestion that he take another cop as a temporary replacement for his regular partner, Nick. Who’d disappeared again. Which worried Schanke more than he wanted to admit. So he grumbled and slouched into his car and headed over to Casa Loma on an anonymous tip about some kids that had been abducted the previous day.
That was an ugly situation. He grimaced as he recalled the report he’d read at the station. The day care worker had been brutally murdered, and the kids presumably taken by the killer. For god knows what purpose. An image of his daughter flashed in his head, and he fought the urge to push the accelerator a little harder. “Phone‑ins are bunk, half the time” he muttered to himself. His hands tightened on the steering wheel.
“So where’s your partner, Schanke?” he spoke aloud in the empty car. “Gone ‑ as usual. And who gets to deal with it? You, of course.” The more he thought about it, the more it bothered him. No one had seen or heard from Nick in nearly 24 hours. While this kind of disappearance was not unheard of, it was unusual. Where was that guy when you needed him, anyway?
Schanke pulled into the turnaround, tires screeching. Killing the engine, he surveyed the front of the castle. Nothing moved, and the area was lit well enough, with spots illuminating the front facade. Don checked his gun, then opened the door and stepped from the car, intending to check the place out thoroughly. He walked toward the building.
As he got closer, he noticed movement near one corner of the building. “Hello,” he shouted to be heard. “Police. Anyone there?”
At that the movement resolved into a small group of little kids, stumbling toward the light. “Oh my god,” breathed Don. “It’s them.” He started to walk toward them. “Kids!” he called, “You ok?”
They paused when they saw him and looked around nervously. “It’s ok,” he shouted reassuringly. “I’m a police officer.” He pulled out his badge and showed it across the yards that separated them.
They turned toward the shadows and he feared for a moment that they would bolt and run. But instead they turned back and suddenly ran toward him as if their lives depended on it. “It’s ok,” he murmured as the swarm overtook him and they clung to him, some crying softly. “Let’s get to my car and I’ll call for help. Any of you ever rode in a police car before?”
“Elmo wants to ride with the nice police officer!”
“Shhh,” hissed Friedreich, still in pain, as they watched from the safety of the shadows. He and the Muppet and the fledgling child huddled there and saw three police cars pull up, and the kids were tucked safely inside. After everyone had left, he turned to the other two.
“We’ve got to get to the Raven,” Friedreich urged. “Some time before sunup,” he muttered under his breath. The child nodded solemnly and took his hand. It made him feel strange, holding a child’s hand like that. Such unconditional trust. He shook his head. He wasn’t sure he liked it. Elmo took his other hand.
“Let’s go, doggy‑man!”
A Deeper Betrayal
Hanna shuddered as she felt the ripples of Trapper’s power pass over her. She was terribly glad that SHE had not been in the direct path of the sound!
And then, she was fearful. For Trapper to have needed to use such a power, something had to have gone wrong. “NO! Not the children!” she thought to herself. “Please, let nothing happen to the children!”
She knew that Friedreich had been injured. She had felt it as certainly as Jonas had. But, for some reason, she hadn’t considered the implications. Until now.
She had sent them off to help the children, and someone had warned August of it. Someone in the room. But who here would have done such a thing?
She glanced at each of them, gently probing every mind. She hated doing it, since it was, to her, a type of rape. But whomever betrayed them was a danger to them all. And no one else here seemed to think there was anything wrong. So, she had to do it, for all their sakes.
Methos and Zara were safe, she could tell instantly. Joe, though befuddled for some reason, was still clean as well. She scanned the two teenagers she didn’t know and found nothing. Evie she didn’t need to bother with, since she was still, for all intensive purposes, linked to her. She knew that Evie would never betray them, least of all Trapper.
She worked her way around them all, and found nothing. Fear stabbed her in the heart. Then how? She knew that August could pick thoughts out of others’ minds, but none of them had been probed. Which meant, August had her confederate long beforehand. She knew for certain that she herself had been left alone. August knew better than to probe her when she was in her full power, since she could, had she sacrificed her will to it, follow back the thought projected, and turned her brains to jelly. She could kill with a thought, if she tried. She never had, but she knew how.
So, it wasn’t her. Or anyone else in the room. Then who? Marcus? Never. Nick? Possible, but unlikely, especially with innocent children involved. Trapper? Not a chance. Friedreich? Impossible. Duncan? No. He too would never harm an innocent child. Buffy? As if!
Evie and LaCroix spoke to each other quietly about Trapper and her “voice,” and Hanna looked away from them, and turned to consult Jonas.
When she met his eyes, her heart nearly burst in her chest. Of everyone in the room, she hadn’t scanned him. It never occurred to her that he . . .
“My . . . by all the powers . . . Sweet Caine!” she gasped, flustered, and she sank to the floor in disbelief.
“Hanna?” Both Micah and Methos moved to her side, though Jonas stayed where he was.
Evie looked from Hanna, her face stricken with the look of ultimate betrayal, to Jonas, his face stricken with the look of ultimate grief. “What the hell is going on people?!”
“How could you!?” she screamed at him.
“What?” Micah asked, worried for her, and preparing to fight Jonas if he found out that he had hurt her in anyway.
“What did he do?” Starr asked as she struggled to her feet. She still hadn’t told anyone the reason why she had been bloody when she had come out of the back room. She hoped that she wouldn’t have to.
“He betrayed them! He betrayed us all!” She screamed still. Her heart could stand nothing less than shrieking her outrage.
“How?” was asked by several voices.
“He told her what we were doing! He told her that I sent them to save the children!”
They all stared at Jonas, mostly in surprise, but Evie looked outraged.
“How did he do it?” Zara asked, puzzled. “He’s been here this whole time.”
Hanna shook her head, trying not to believe it. Not wanting to believe that he had betrayed her . . . again! “He is bonded to her. In the same way that Micah is. If she asks him a question, with the force of the bond, she can make him tell her, no matter whether or not he wants to tell her! If she commands him to do something, with the force of the bond, then he MUST obey!” She stared at him, the blood tears streaming down her cheeks. “You betrayed us! You betrayed me! To HER! Again!”
He stood silently, agonizing under the stream of her accusations. It hurt him, more than any of them would ever know. But he couldn’t fight it. He had no choice. He was in thrall of the blood bond, and his will was not his own.
He moved forward, slowly, whispering the words that were put into his head. “Forgive me, wife. Let me explain.”
He wanted to warn them, and knew he couldn’t. He screamed silently in the depths of his soul, but the will that controlled him would permit no utterance.
Micah and Methos moved to block him, but Hanna pushed them aside as she rose to met Jonas. Unlike the rest of them, she knew what was coming.
He drove her back to her knees, his large hands gripped tightly about her head, as he was commanded to squeeze. She didn’t waste her strength trying to tear his hands from her head. She knew it would have been futile.
Micah pulled out his sword, and Methos and Zara followed suit.
“NO!” she gasped.
The three hesitated, and then Micah raised his sword again to strike.
But Jonas let go, and doubled over before Micah could strike him. He lay on the floor, clutching his side as the blood flowed freely.
Everyone stared at him, and then looked at Hanna. She stood again, blood running freely from her nose, mouth and eyes. As she stared at her husband, she held up her hand for everyone to see. She wore her customary black ladies’ gloves. But they were no ordinary gloves. Silver claws extended from them, claws that had once belonged to a Garou, and she had extended them into Jonas’ side as he tried to crush her skull.
She retracted the claws, and then moved quickly to Jonas’ side. The wound was dreadful, and would not heal, unless he had the blood of a vampire that was closer to Caine. She bent down, and much to the disgust of some of those present, she licked his wound. The bleeding didn’t stop, but it slowed substantially.
She stood up, and then, in a fury, lifted her head and shouted, “I am coming for you, whore! I will not rest until I have eaten your heart!”
She stepped into the nearby shadows, and melted into them, just as Trapper and the others entered the room. They all watched in amazement as the shadow flitted across the wall, moved rapidly out of the room and down the corridor.
“Stop her,” Jonas gasped. “She’ll kill her.”
Micah snarled, “Oh, like that would break your heart! Your poor little August!”
“No!” he whispered. “She’ll kill Hanna. She’s waiting for her. It’s a trap. She knew that if she did this, Hanna would go after her alone. She doesn’t stand a chance! You’ve got to stop her!”
“Let’s go, Doggy-man!”
Friedreich looked down at the little red Muppet, and Elmo quickly ducked behind the wall.
“Elmo sorry! Didn’t mean to hurt Doggy-man’s feelings!”
Friedreich looked up at the building, at the window that led to the room he knew the others were at. Oh Hanna, why? How could you? He asked her, silently to himself. He shook his head, then looked back in the direction Elmo had hid.
“Come on, fuzz ball. Let’s get to the Raven.” He changed quickly into lupus, since no matter which form he was in, the silver on his face hurt him desperately.
Elmo ran out from his hiding place, the leaped onto Friedreich’s neck. “Let’s go, Doggy-man!”
Marcus fumed silently as he walked along with the others back to where the rest of their party waited. When he got his hands on Hanna . . .
Nick watched the Nosferatu closely, only guessing what must be going through his mind. He knew what his own suspicions were. But Hanna was nothing to him. Not really. Not that they never got along, since they never, technically ever even met! But she had attained a balance in her vampire’s existence that he would never be able to. She had, through all the years she lived, held onto her mortality and her humanity in a way he never could. He needed the power stripped from him to control it. She did it simply by will.
And yet, now, she had deliberately sent them into a trap; A trap that would have killed them and the ten innocent children. His thoughts were dark as he moved along, listening to Trapper grind her teeth.
Trapper wasn’t particularly thrilled with Hanna either. She had sworn that Evie would be safe, much in the same way she had sworn that she had wanted the children safe. And the whole fiasco with the children had been a deliberate set up. Well, Trapper didn’t particularly like being set up. And as she walked alongside Nick, she started contemplating the “hells” she had in mind for Hanna.
Of them all, only Buffy sensed something out of the ordinary. Probably because she was the only mortal amongst them. She didn’t know why, but when she had been watching the tiny vampire they named Hanna, she sensed something quite puzzling. That woman was quite sincere in her desire to protect the children. So much so that she was willing to sacrifice herself to the demands of monsters to save them. No, the betrayal came from somewhere else. It had to. She could never believe that the tiny vampire would have done something so . . . evil. She didn’t know why she trusted her. But she did.
When the Spell is Broken
They stepped around the corner into the cavernous room, in time to see a shadow that flitted in front of them and began to ricochet down the hall. Trapper whirled to lock eyes with Evie. Faster than thought, she spun back to the hall and shouted, “NO!” The sound was a short, sharp burst, a rifle shot of noise that sent splinters of rock flying from the archway as Hanna approached it. Trapper clutched Nick’s arm for support and watched as the bit of shadow wavered in the dim light.
At the same time, Evie hurled the mental equivalent, sending “STOP!” This hit Hanna like a white-hot knife to the brain, and brought the shadow to its knees. Slowly, Hanna took back her shape from the darkness, kneeling in the hallway and holding her head in pain. “It’s a trap!” Evie sent frantically to Hanna. “Jonas told us! August’s just goading you! Don’t you want to know what happened to the children?”
Hanna nodded wearily, and tried to clear her throbbing head. ‘The children!’ The thought suddenly registered, and her pulse began to race like a mortal’s. “Evie, I am returning,” she sent. “What about the children?” She entered the room and took stock of those she had sent. Marcus and Duncan were spattered with gore (none of it their own, thank the Goddess), Buffy was in all out slayer mode, and Trapper looked bone weary, with Nick the only thing keeping her on her feet. “I thank you all,” she said quietly. “Had I known,” she turned to stare despairingly at Jonas, “that we had a..betrayer in our midst, I would never have sent you all.” She spit the words with venom, though in her broken heart she knew that it was August, not Jonas who was truly to blame. Micah moved to help her as she sank to the floor, her hands wiping at her eyes. She looked up bleakly at those who had returned and spoke, with little hope in her voice. “The children?’
“All safe,” Nick said, as he helped Trapper to sit.
“Thank the Goddess!” Hanna breathed, and allowed a trembling smile to grace her lips. “And Friedreich? He is not with you . . . “
Starr gasped in shock and realization that Friedreich was missing.
“Damaged,” Trapper said. A low sobbing sound was heard from Starr. “But, he’ll survive. He and Elmo are taking the fledgling to the Raven for safekeeping.” She turned exhausted eyes to Starr. “He said he’d be back for you.”
“Enough talking, Trapper,” Nick said. “You really need to feed if you’re going to continue.” She laid her head on his shoulder and watched as he slashed open his wrist for her. “I probably should have eaten some of your instant coffee first,” he said wryly as she gulped down the offering. At this she giggled, and the mood in the room lightened a bit for the first time in awhile. She licked the wound shut, murmured her thanks, and curled up against him for a short rest.
LaCroix watched the proceedings with interest. He had never seen Nick act this way before. Perhaps there was hope for Nicholas yet, he thought to himself. The few that Nick had ever succeeded in bringing across had all come to bad ends. ‘And then there’s the little . . . accident,’ LaCroix smiled. Plenty of time for that later. Seeing Nicholas behave this way made Lucien almost regret his little surprise. Almost.
Evie glanced around and decided to speak up, “We need a plan. There are still two people that need rescuing, and we still have to get out of here.” She stared pointedly at the vampires present. “Preferably before dawn, you know? So, I suggest we decide what to do.”
Micah agreed, and glanced up to see Duncan and Joe sidling toward one of the many exits. “Hey, no sneaking off to be heroes,” he said. “We need all of our power in one place right now.”
“You’re right, of course,” Duncan said, and guided Joe back toward the group. Inwardly, “Joe” gnashed his teeth in frustration at being thwarted. But he couldn’t afford to tip his hand. There was too much at stake.
Will the REAL Joe Dawson please stand up?
He could feel her will brush gently over his. But, when Hanna just looked at him and said nothing, Joe relaxed. Well, at least the little midget didn’t suspect anything. Although, it was hard to keep his composure with Hanna probing his mind and Warren whispering instructions in his ear. Joe idly wondered if Hanna or Angelique would be able to sense the Mage’s presence in the room.
“I guess he’s safe as long as he doesn’t say anything out loud . . . ”
Duncan gave Joe an odd look. Coming in to find Jonas attempting to kill Hanna had been enough. Now, was he going to have to worry about the Watcher’s sanity too?
“D’ya say something Joe?”
“Um. No, Mac. Just thinking out loud.”
MacLeod nodded, pensively.
Joe backed closer to the wall. What was Warren trying to tell him? He tuned out the commotion in the room, trying to listen to his instructions . . . <Separate yourself from the group. I need you to come back to the stables . . . Ackron has something else planned for you . . . ‘
Joe nodded and started backing toward the door. Mac put a hand on his shoulder, making the imposter jump.
“Is there something wrong Joe?”
“Wrong?!” Joe laughed a bit nervously. “Well, let’s see now. Taking in mind the events of the past three days? Well, let’s just say . . . NO!” Joe hissed, whispering to Duncan.
“Listen Joe, I’m sure we could find a way out . . . If you need to get out of here . . . Hell, I’m severely tempted to join you.”
Joe blinked heavily, getting another message from Warren.
“Well, Mac . . . There is a way to the stables through the tunnels . . . ”
Kat would be as safe here as anywhere, he told himself. Miklos was inside and when the sun rose he could store her in the back room or the wine cellar for safe keeping. The way Javier saw it, Kat was either going to come back into her body or she wasn’t; It didn’t matter if he was standing guard or if she was in her hotel room. They had been there, they had done that.
Promise or no promise, Vachon was tired of waiting. It had been several hours since Kat left and she was no closer to waking up now than she had been then. He had tried everything he could think of to bring her out of it, but to no avail. He did not want to waste one more minute just standing around. Morning was coming soon and that would lead to another day of torture for Tracy – that is, if she was still alive.
Vachon led Kat into the Raven and sat her down. He grabbed a bottle from behind the bar and began to drink deeply. Where was everybody? Earlier in the evening, he and Kat had returned to the club, only minutes after having left in haste, and found everybody mysteriously gone. Determined to not follow the others into oblivion, he had taken the catatonic redhead to Tracy Vetter’s apartment.
Once there, Javier hadn’t seen anything out of the ordinary. The detective’s place was small but comfortable, and the decor reflected the young woman’s ambiguity. There were as many frilly touches as there were cop mementos. Nothing had changed since he had been there a week ago to wish Tracy, ‘bon voyage.’ She apparently hadn’t even made it home from the airport. If she hadn’t been so damned stubborn and kept her ETA a secret, he might have been there to save her. He smiled sadly, he liked it when she was stubborn.
Only half done with dinner, he got up to leave; It had to be now or never.
“Hate to do this to you, old girl,” he said as he turned to walk away.
Coming through the back room doorway was an injured Friedreich. On his shoulders was a small child, and on the small child’s shoulders was Elmo. All three looked a little worse for wear.
“Where is everybody?!” Vachon asked. The Garou had disappeared along with all the others.
“Casa Loma,” two voices said in unison – one from in front of him and one from behind.
Vachon whipped around to see Kat wide awake and walking toward them. With a nod from the ‘pony’ she took the young boy off of Friedreich’s back. She had to gently pry his tiny fingers open because of his intense grip on the Garou’s long golden hair. Elmo, by default, came as well.
Leaning in close, she whispered, “Thanks for getting me home, Wolf.”
Ties of Blood and Water
She noticed it when Joe gnashed his teeth, but for the life of her, she couldn’t understand why it bothered her. She shrugged to herself. It didn’t matter now.
She sat on the cold floor in Micah’s warm embrace, and when she looked up and met Jonas’ eyes, she was surprised to see a faint flicker of jealousy.
No, she thought to herself. It couldn’t be. He would never care that much about me. Not enough to feel jealous of anyone.
He watched her carefully, wishing for all the world that he could take her into his arms, apologize for hurting her, and love her the way he had always wanted to. And when Micah moved to her side, it was all he could do to keep from killing the Immortal on the spot.
“So, what do we do now?” Buffy asked.
“Um, I don’t think it’s a good idea to discuss it in…present company,” Nick muttered, eyeing Jonas balefully.
Jonas returned his look with mild interest. “Whenever you think you’re ready, little man,” he barely sneered. He really didn’t have the desire to fight any of them verbally. He was too hurt by his shame. And Nick was right. There was no telling what August would use him for next. Unless…
“Unless, we break the bond.” He whispered it as he once again looked down at his tiny wife.
Her head came up in horror. “NO!”
“It’s the only way,” he pleaded. “Otherwise, she’ll have my trying to murder the whole lot of you!”
She rose to her feet, shrugging off Micah’s embrace. Standing before her husband, she looked up at him, and whispered in a terrible voice, “I would see you dead first!”
“What does it matter?” Nick asked. “If it breaks the bond, then we should do it!”
Janette stepped forward and touched Nick’s arm. “We do not have the time, Nicola.”
“Well, considering the danger he represents, we should make the time!”
“NO!” Hanna nearly shrieked at them all. “I will not allow it!”
They all looked at her in surprise and shock. This was the same person who’s skull was almost crushed because of the “bond”, and she didn’t want to break it?
“You would not see him freed? He is your husband. How can you not?” Angelique demanded.
Marcus came to Hanna’s aid finally. “You all do not understand what he is proposing.”
Hanna looked again at Jonas, “There is another way! We can wait until she is dead!”
“No. You will need my help for the “battle”, and I won’t be able to do anything to aid you if she takes control.” He touched her tear-stained face. “It is the only way.”
She pulled her face away. “NO! I will not allow it!”
Evie came up to her, laid a gentle hand on her shoulder. “Tell us. What is he asking us to do, Hanna?”
She sighed, her shoulders slouching. “There are only two ways known to break a blood bond. The first is to kill the Regent. The other was invented by the Sabbat. The vampire is drained of all blood, then buried six feet underground. He must claw his way out, stripping away the bond.”
Most of them looked visibly shocked, not only by the description, but by Jonas’ suggestion that he go through with it.
“It also strips away whatever humanity you have left.” She looked at her husband again. “I will not allow it.”
After “Ties of Blood and Water”
“Is simplicity best?
Or simply the easiest?
The narrowest path
Is always the holiest?
So walk on barefoot for me
Suffer some misery
If you want my love
If you want my love . . . ”
She didn’t want to look at him. She couldn’t bear it. And she knew that he had already made up his mind, so the mute anguish in her eyes would only serve to anger him.
She looked instead to Evie, who was just a bit shocked at the suggestion that had been made. Nick was stunned, and almost everyone could hear him thinking about whether or not the same trick would work with him and LaCroix. Of course, he knew better than to believe that burying himself would relieve him of the burden of LaCroix, but he could wish, couldn’t he?
Trapper shrugged nonchalantly. “He’s gotta do what he’s gotta do. If he breaks her hold on him, then more power to him.”
Hanna nodded. She knew that, despite their misgivings about the “burial,” most of the people here would agree with him. It was a bond that needed to be broken. But at what cost? It might not work. If the bond was too strong, sometimes it didn’t work. And then, not only would he know that he would never be free of August, what humanity he had left would be gone. And he would be lost to her. Again.
Marcus touched Hanna’s hand. “We need to do it now, while we have a small amount of time. The others can work on the smaller pieces. But we need the both of you ready to deal with August.”
She nodded again. What could she say?
Jonas reached out a hand, lifted her chin. He nearly winced at the look in her eyes. But she knew that it was a risk that he had to take, one that they had put off for too long. He leaned down and, in the presence of all there, he kissed his tiny wife passionately.
Marcus’ eyebrow rose in surprise. Well, there was a first time for everything! And for these two, who were both so damn dispassionate in public, it was about time they showed a little “human” emotion.
Her head spun as she clung to him, as desperate for him as she had been last year, when they had gone back in time to 1924, and she had met him there, and they had kissed. All those years, all that time, wasted. And now, she would lose him again.
The kiss ended, like they always must, and there wasn’t a soul in the room that wanted to break the silence. Too many people here were well aware of the nature of the relationship between the two of them. They knew what lay ahead.
When they broke apart and started to move out the door, Evie whispered to her, “It’ll be all right. In the end. It will be all right.”
Hanna turned to her and sighed. “Not if it does not work.” She looked everyone over, then whispered, “Stay on your guard. We are separating, so she will try something else. Watch and ware.” And they were gone.
“Man will survive
The harshest conditions
And stay alive
Through difficult decisions
So make up your mind for me
Walk the line for me
If you want my love . . . ”
Micah followed closely behind them, with Methos and Zara bringing up the rear. Hanna stopped and looked at them mournfully.
“Sorry,” Micah started, just a little embarrassed, “I figured that I would show you the way.”
Jonas raised an eyebrow, but said nothing.
“And we figured that you’d be a bit . . . preoccupied,” Methos ‘fessed up.
“So we came along, in case you need someone to watch your back,” Zara finished for him.
Hanna looked at the three of them, trying her damnedest not to cry. She nodded sharply, then turned away. She couldn’t stand to look at anyone at this point.
The six of them together left the building, with Micah in the lead. He pointed out an area next to the stables that was fairly secluded, and then he moved back inside the stables. He had wanted to come, to be there for her, but after watching the way Jonas kept staring at him, he thought better of it. God, that man could be unforgiving!
And Death Enters
Angelique felt a tingling sensation race across her neck. Turning towards the shadows, she searched the darkness. Nothing.
“Something wrong?” LaCroix asked.
“Just thought someone was there. Must be another one of August’s tricks.”
Angelique….. An eerie whisper tickled her senses. She searched the shadows once again. There.
A tall figure clad in tight leather pants and a flowing poet’s shirt open from mid chest flickered out of nowhere. He spun away from her, his black cape enveloping him, making him one with the endless shadows.
Come to me... His melodic voice beckoned her to him. Pulling her towards the darkness.
“Stop it.” She spun away from the flickering form. With a high pitched growl, she moved from behind LaCroix. “He’s dead, August. You can’t trick me with this hallucination.”
“Angelique,” LaCroix hissed. “What are you so agitated about. There is nothing there.”
LaCroix arched an eyebrow. “Ricze?”
“He’s dead, Lucien.” Angelique pulled him away from the advancing figure. “It’s a trick. Besides, he had much better taste in clothing.”
I was in a bit of hurry………
“Go back to hell,” she spat.
The figure materialized inches from Angelique’s startled face. “Hell is such an uneventful place,” it laughed. “What, no ‘How are you? I’ve missed you?’ Poor manners are so unlike you, Angel.”
“You are not real. I was there when you were murdered.”
“I’mmmmmmmmmmmm Baaaaaaaaack!” The figure disappeared as quickly as it had come. An eerie chuckle bouncing off the walls as it left.
Something’s Happening’ Here
Casa Loma grounds
“Are you sure this is safe?” Nat asked as they snuck to the stables. At least he wasn’t wearing dress reds’ anymore. He was wearing dark colors, leather jacket and dark jeans, with a dark flannel plaid shirt. She was in black. She was beginning to understand why Nick liked black so much. No one noticed you at night. A good thing at this moment, she looked up at Casa Loma. A real good thing.
“Perfectly,” Benton murmured as her checked around a corner for enemies. He motioned to Cleo and she crept around the corner and melded with the blackness of the night. “The children are safe, now we get the rest out.”
“Great.” Nat rolled her eyes. “Mortals are so effective against vampires.”
“You just have to be more careful.” He motioned to her, and they snuck into the stable.
Micah was standing there, his sword drawn, staring at Cleo. “Go home kitty,” he snarled as he swung at the cat. “You’ll just get someone killed.” Cleo snarled and backed up.
“Who is that?” Nat watched the handsome man. With her luck he was one of the bad guys.
“Micah,” Benton whispered. Micah froze and Cleo slipped by him into the tunnel.
“Constable?” Micah shook his head. “Great. More hostages for August.”
“Actually, we need you to help us get the teenagers out.”
Micah smiled at that. “I’m gonna regret this, but let’s go.” He stopped as he noticed Nat. “Very nice. And she is?”
“Dr Natalie Lambert, Toronto Coroner.”
“Hello, Dr.” He wouldn’t mind being on her slab. “Welcome to hell. I’ll be your tour guide.” He bowed over her hand and kissed it lightly. “I’m Micah.”
The three of them slipped into the tunnel and threaded their way back to the scene of the action, hiding in the shadows.
Then Micah saw the ghost. “Damn.”
And Death Enters pt 2
by Sukh and Kay
The eerie laughter echoed around them.
“Oh Isis.” Angelique suppressed a smile. If he was really here, and really alive, then the tide was going to change rather quickly.
But that wasn’t possible. She had been there when the Hunters had caught up with them in Paris.
Did you ever see the body……….
“No,” she hissed into the shadow.
“Angelique?” Micah stepped forward, looking around him. He was sure Ricze had been standing there. “What’s going on? Has Hell opened it’s gates and let the bastard out to play?”
“August is the one playing with our minds. The Stalker has been dead for 800 years. I was in Paris when that group of deranged farmers staked him down and left him writhing in holy water for the sun to finish him off. He wouldn’t let me get to him. If only he’d swallowed his damn pride long enough for me to get him away. Instead, he tipped that mob off and I had to run to save my own neck.”
I laugh in the face of danger..…….. A haunting chuckle rumbled around the room….. Death is but an obstacle to hurtle…….
“Sure sounds like the bastard,” Micah mumbled. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but he does have a track record for the most faked deaths. He’s worse than an Immortal when it comes to spontaneous regeneration.”
LaCroix arched first one eyebrow and then the other, a mocking smile skirting across his face. “Ye Gods.”
“Show yourself – what ever you are,” Angelique demanded.
Now, now, Angel……You know I don’t respond to that tone of voice
“That would be trouble,” LaCroix smirked.
“Excuse me, Miss Angelique,” Benton stepped forward.
“Great. Just what we needed,” Duncan muttered, rolling his eyes.
But the more the merrier.……
“Enough of this nonsense,” Angelique snarled. Pointing to Xander and Willow, she addressed Benton. “These two need to go.”
You mean we aren’t using bait.………….
“EXCUSE ME,” August stormed into the middle of the group. “Have you all forgotten who’s in command?” Snatching Xander by the neck, she hissed at Angelique. Xander struggled, mumbling something about what was it that only psycho women liked him.
Lightening crackled through the air, converging onto a single spot. Out of the light stepped a tall figure with flowing ebony hair. Underneath a stiff duster he wore tight black wranglers and a silver dusted long sleeve silk shirt. “Of course not, August,” he sneered. “Everything is going according to plan. MY plan, that is.”
“All this playing with our minds, and we haven’t had the opportunity to respond.” LaCroix stepped in front of the motley gang of assorted pissed off warriors. He shook his head, a slight mocking smile on his face. “That is quite unfair.”
August looked at LaCroix. “I don’t play fair,” she spat at him.
“A pity.” Again with that smirk. “I’m sure all kinds of dark, fetid secrets lurk in your twisted brain.” August glared at him for a moment.
Horton approached. He glared at Horton – Ice eyes glinting yellow. “Better men than you have failed, Horton.” Horton backed away.
“Afraid?” He chuckled, as she raised her hand. “Do you really think that raising your hand at me will keep the doubt I’ve planted at bay?” Her hand wavered, then dropped back at her side.
“Let me in, August.” He purred in his soft growl. “Let me into your mind.”
Again with the Judas
They reached the area that Micah had pointed out to them, and Marcus started digging out the “grave.” Methos and Zara took up flanking positions to cover the three vampires.
Hanna turned to her husband, and tried one last time to persuade him otherwise. “We can wait! It is nearly dawn. You will be forced to stay down there until nightfall, and by then, the blood thirst will be so great that . . . ”
“I know,” he whispered, touching her cheek. “But now is the only time. And when I awaken, you can point me in HER direction.”
“Are you forgetting how many mortals will be in your way?! You expect me to keep you from killing all of them in your frenzy, fight off August and Horton, and direct you in her direction . . . and still keep you from killing ME?!” Her eyes flashed hotly in fear and desperation. “You have an awful lot of faith in my abilities!”
“Warn the others. I’m certain that Angelique and Lucius will be helpful. And Marcus will be near as well.”
She shook her head. “No, this is too great a risk. If you can even claw your way out, you will be a raving lunatic. I will not allow it!”
“I’m sure Micah wouldn’t mind that!”
She gasped, her mouth opened and shut, and she could say nothing.
He sighed, and pulled her to him. “I am sorry. I shouldn’t have said that. It was unkind.” He kissed the top of her head as he hugged her to him. Then he stepped back slightly, and lifted her head. “I am sorry. I should never have left you to begin with.”
“Idle talk and
Don’t just stand there and shout it
Do something about it . . . ”
She reached up, pulled his head down to hers.
Methos looked at Zara, and noticed the tears that were spilling down her cheeks.
What seemed like an eternity later, Marcus pulled himself up out of the grave and was about to speak when he noticed the embrace. He too began to weep. For all the years they had together, it was not until now, when they would lose one another, that they finally attained the ability to express themselves to one another. He shook his head as he wiped the tears away. And to think, Jonas had forced good old Bill Shakespeare to rip up the tragedy he had written about the two of them. And Friedreich had gotten back at him by telling the bard to write his “Julius Caesar.”
Marcus almost laughed aloud, and in the effort to keep quite, he caught Jonas’ attention.
“What’s so funny?” he asked his old friend as he stroked his wife’s hair.
“Sorry. I was just remembering the blistering you gave Friedreich after the whole Shakespeare thing.”
Jonas groaned involuntarily, and was surprised to hear Hanna giggle. He looked down at his tiny wife, her face shining with mirth. “What’s this? Not you too?”
“You have to admit dear, that whole ‘Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me . . . ”
“Never mind! I don’t want to hear it!” He tried to be angry, but began to laugh with them as well. The strips he took off of Friedreich were nothing compared to the ones the bard had earned. He shook his head, mildly ashamed of himself.
They heard a sudden commotion in the stables, and they all sobered quickly.
“We need to get this over with,” Marcus growled, noticing that the dawn was quickly approaching.
Hanna looked up at Jonas and sighed, “Yes. Now, before I change my mind.”
He knelt down before his wife, and she stroked his hair briefly before pulling his head to the side. With a lunge, she sank her fangs into his neck, and began to drain him.
Only once before had he ever been this bloodless. And that had been when August had first Embraced him. For days, she had kept him in the same fashion she had kept Micah . . . nearly bloodless. Just for play.
But now, all he felt was the ecstasy of having his wife slowly pull the life from him.
When she felt his essence beginning to pulse in his veins, she let him go. She sank to her knees, and Marcus quickly took him from her arms. Her head spun with the power of her husband, and she could not move. Marcus left him in the “grave,” then quickly started to shovel the dirt back into the hole.
“Hurry up!” Methos hissed as he moved to Hanna’s side, kneeling down, and making certain she was all right. “The sun is rising!”
Marcus’ skin began to tingle with a painful fury as he quickly shoveled the rest of the dirt into the hole. He was smoking by the time he was grabbed by Methos and pulled to the stables.
Hanna stumbled along, following the pull that Zara had on her arm. She still couldn’t see, but she wasn’t nearly as bad off as Marcus. But then, she had been flirting with the sunrise for centuries. She was used to it, and could tolerate more than most of her kind.
When they reached the safety of the stables, Micah was nowhere to be found. They moved up the pathway, back toward the room the others were in. And heard a commotion that could only mean one thing . . .
Jonas felt his awareness sink away from him as the sun rose. His only hope was that none of her minions that could move around in daylight would find him. She would be incapacitated. They would not be. And he would be done for.
His last thought before he slipped into oblivion was of his tiny wife . . .
“You can fulfill
Your wildest ambitions
And I’m sure you will
Lose your inhibitions
So open yourself to me
Risk your health for me
If you want my love . . . ”
Enter Stage Left
“I think not.” Buffy replied, as she raised her fists and prepared to go into Slayer mode.
“It’s about time,” gurgled Xander as August wrapped her arm around his neck in a half Nelson.
“Oh my,” Willow whispered. “Who is that?” she asked, pointing to the guy in the duster and black jeans. “We’ve got to do something Buffy.”
The stranger merely observed everyone in the room. Willow nudged Buffy’s shoulder and nodded at the unusual pair. “Well?”
Buffy gave Willow a withering glance. “Yeah, right,” she mumbled under her breath.
“Anyone else care to join me in kicking some ancient butt?”
Buffy circled around until she faced Xander and August. Her sight focused on August, but a slight movement off to the right caught her eye.
An auburn-haired woman stepped from the shadows near Buffy, followed closely by Angelus. “Looks like we’re just in time for the fun,” grinned Angelus.
Buffy quirked an eyebrow at Angelus. “I was wondering if you were going to show up. Nice timing.”
August leaned closer to Xander’s neck and cackled, “Is that virgin’s blood I smell?” Her eyes met Buffy’s, a coy smile played on her lips.
“Virgin, who’s a virgin?” sputtered Xander. At the same time Buffy and Willow exchanged a meaningful look.
Benton cleared his throat. “I don’t think that’s the point here.”
August bared her fangs and lowered her head slowly….
Kay & Sukh
Casa Loma/Pool Room
August glanced up, staring down the business end of a sawed off double barrel shotgun.
“Put down the virgin,” drawled the duster clad stranger, glancing at Buffy with a knowing wink.
“Whattttttt?” Buffy glared, fists planted on her hips. The shotgun made a suggestive point at Xander.
Xander mumbled under his breath ‑ something about putting an end to his misery.
“And just who the hell are you?” August hissed.
“Vlashmire, Ricze Vlashmire. You have threatened my sister. Prepare to die,” the stranger said in a cheesy Spanish accent.
Angelique rolled her eyes, snatching Xander from August as she glared at the new arrival. She paused, caressing Xander’s cheek. “Virgin. How refreshing.”
Xander’s eyes grew wide. “But I’m not a virgin ‑ Honest.”
“Talk about bad deja‑vu,” LaCroix sneered.
Angelique pushed Xander toward Buffy and Willow. “Spoilsports.”
“What is it with these psycho women,” Xander groaned.
“And just who invited you?” August started toward Ricze, fangs barred.
“I always have an invitation,” Ricze smirked, showing off his own set of prized incisors. “Its part of the fringe benefits’ package.”
“Why would a vampire be carrying a shotgun?” Willow asked.
“Gotta have all those bases covered.” Ricze raised the barrel, centering between August’s eyes. “Well,” he snarled. “Any famous last words?”
She snarled, knocking the shotgun to the floor. “How dare you threaten me,” she hissed, eyes going vampiric.
“Enforcers dare what ever they choose.”
“Enforcer,” Nick gulped.
“How do we know he’s telling the truth?” Buffy stepped in front of her friends, daring Ricze to try and get to them.
“Badges. Badges. We don’t need no stinkin’ badges,” came a another cheesy accent.
“Someone’s been watching just a little too much late night television,” Micah muttered.
Shayna bolted up right in bed; Something was not right. She went over a mental list, folding down a finger after confirming each item….
“Homework, check…Dishes, check….”
She frowned. Everything was done, but still something nagged at her. It made her brain itch, and she hated when her brain itched. That’s when it dawned on her. She forgot to finish the last paragraph of her story!
Shayna tossed off the bed cover and made a mad dash for her notebook, and a pencil. Flipping to the last written page, she skimmed the last few sentences she had written only hours before….
Images of the ‘real live’ Warren flashed in her mind’s eye as she began to finish her re-write. How different he actually was. Well, now anyway. But, getting transported to what seemed to be a gross misrepresentation of your world, finding out everyone you knew doesn’t really exist outside of a wacko teenagers mind and a few scribbled notes could have an effect on a guy.
Shayna re-read what she had written. It had been some time since she had ‘created’ this world, and only now was she finally hitting the proverbial nail on the head. This had to be the millionth time she had re written and re-thought Terra and the main characters. Finally satisfied with the newest version of Warren Casey, she snapped her notebook shut and went back to bed.
As she languidly fell into slumber, Shayna wondered how Warren and Joe were doing in Toronto. She hoped Warren was getting better. He hadn’t seemed entirely stable when he had brought her back. He should be coming back soon though. It really wasn’t fair that Warren got to be a Watcher before she did, just because he was older. What were they going to need with a fictitious Mage anyway? And that whole trip to Toronto, what a scam!
That night, she dreamed blue hazy dreams, filled with barren landscapes and rolling emerald hills. Never realizing how truly mighty the pen was……
Lions and Tigers and Bears
She couldn’t decide which had been harder – getting the two youngest vampires to stay behind at the Raven or convincing Miklos to babysit. Laughing aloud, Kat pictured the bartender’s face as she had presented him with a squirming Elmo and a crying 5-year-old.
Friedrick and Vachon glared at her whenever she let the giggles get the best of her. This last time, she whispered harshly, “I’m nervous, okay?!” She was pretty tired of it, herself. The psychic currents emanating from August and Horton’s lair were making Kat jumpy and more than a little nauseous.
The first few glimpses through the trees hadn’t been so bad. But when Casa Loma rose up, glowing an impossible fiery red, Kat doubled over and vomited into the ivy. Hanging there momentarily, she wiped her mouth. Instead of the usual blood, there was an oily, black substance on her hand. A shiver ran up the length of her spine, causing the hairs on her neck to rise.
Neither man said a word as she regained her composure; They merely took a place on either side of her. The two ‘mythical’ creatures were waiting for her to make the first move – to decide her own fate – and when she did, they joined her.
Having chosen the direct route, the trio stood facing the main entrance of Toronto’s only medieval castle; The stables had seemed too obvious a starting point; They didn’t want to get caught before they had even started.
“Tracy’s up there,” Kat said, pointing to the Scottish tower in the back. Vachon tensed for flight but Kat cautioned, “The only way into that tower is by spiral staircase. We can go in down here or take that open tower over there.”
Not waiting for a decision, Friedrick strode up to the doors and yanked one open. He was tired, he was in pain and he needed to get inside. Turning to the others, he said, “Look, you do what you have to, but I’m going in to find Starr.” The Garou didn’t voice his nagging fear that Hanna had betrayed them all and that there might not be anybody left to find.
Vachon balked momentarily, but ended up joining the larger man by the front door. “Let’s go,” he agreed, looking back to see if Kat was coming, too. She smiled unconvincingly and darted over.
Friedrick pulled the door wider and all three crossed the threshold into Casa Loma.
Salvation at the Dark Corner of the Universe
by HannaClay (in the spirit of Sebathius)
Christopher looked at the big man and cried harder. He scared him!
Elmo came over and patted him on the hand. “Elmo wants to play!”
Christopher looked at his very favorite Sesame Street Muppet, and cried harder. It wasn’t fair! First, he couldn’t never see his real mommy again! And then, that mean and nasty bad lady made him into an icky Dracula person! He didn’t want to go around and bite people on the neck and drink their…their… For one thing, it wasn’t very nice to do to someone! And his mommy tried to teach him to be nice. And he didn’t like the taste of…of…
He cried and cried. He had always tried to do what mommy told him to. He was never a bad boy, and he always ate all his vegetables, even his broccoli! But now, he was a mean Dracula person! Why would he be this way if he hadn’t been a really bad boy?
Elmo looked at his new friend Christopher, and started to cry as well. It made him very sad to see his little friend upset. He knew that it was because Christopher missed his mommy and wanted to go home. Elmo missed his mommy too!
“It’s okay, Christopher! Elmo understand. Christopher wants to go home to Christopher’s mommy.”
Christopher nodded his head as he sniffed. The big man that scared him handed him a towel to blow his nose, and he did just like mommy taught him.
“I’m sorry, Christopher,” Miklos told him kindly. “If there was a way to change what happened, I would do anything to help you.” He really didn’t want to think about what would happen to the boy. As young as he was, there was no way he would be able to survive. He wouldn’t be able to hunt, since his fangs were so tiny. And all the power hungry vampires would kill him simply because the vampire that made him was so powerful, and they would hope to gain some of that power through him.
“I wonder if you would.”
The three of them turned quickly at the sound of the sonorous voice. Miklos’ mouth hung open in surprise. No, it couldn’t be!
“Oooo! Pretty man with wings!” Elmo exclaimed happily, wiping away his blood tears.
“Would you, Miklos?”
It took him a few moments to gather his wits about him before he could answer. “Would I what? Do anything to help him become mortal again?” He looked over at the sobbing Christopher, his little cheeks stained red with tears, and thought of his own young son, long dead. He couldn’t save his own son, but maybe he could save Christopher. “Yes. I would.”
A single, beautiful hand raised, and pointed a slender finger at Miklos. He felt his essence beginning to drain. And yet, he wasn’t afraid. The peace that surrounded him was an absolute, and as he sank into final death, he saw the face of his son, smiling at him.
Elmo watched his old friend Miklos turn into ashes, then watched his new friend Christopher start to lurch about. Elmo was afraid for him as he jerked about. But then, his body stopped jerking, and Elmo could hear his heart start beating again.
“YE”H! Christopher can go home to Christopher’s mommy!”
Christopher’s blood‑smeared face looked up quickly at the angel. “Can I really see my mommy again?”
“Soon, Christopher, soon. But first, say goodbye to your friend Elmo.”
Christopher turned to Elmo and hugged the little, furry vampire. “Goodbye, Elmo.”
“Goodbye, Christopher! Elmo is happy for you!”
And suddenly, Elmo was alone in the Raven, with nothing but Miklos’ ashes to keep him company.
When Christopher awoke, he found himself on the front steps of his house. And he couldn’t remember how he got there! But then, the door opened, and his mommy was there, holding him and kissing him and telling him how much she loved him! And everything was alright!
You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me!
August snarled at the “Enforcer.” He thought he was something, didn’t he? Needing a shotgun to threaten her! HA!
“Well, it looks like you have gotten yourself into a bit of a spot this time, darling!”
Most of the occupants of the room turned to find the doorway crowded by Marcus, Methos, Zara and Hanna. The tiny vampire looked both worn and almost ready to burst at the seams with power.
August glared at her “immortal” enemy, then faded quickly from view. “This isn’t over, you little bitch!” And then was gone.
Hanna walked into the room in front of the others. Evie stared at her, noticing that her skin was almost . . . normal looking. When she reached out a hand to touch her, to make certain that she was all right, she actually felt warmth!
“Do not ask,” Hanna warned her off. The last thing she wanted to tell anyone was that she had taken all of her husband’s blood from him, so she was so stuffed with it that she was nearly mortal in appearance. Some things were better left unsaid.
“Damn!” Trapper snarled. “I was ready for a fight!”
“Why did she leave?” Willow asked quietly, making certain that Xander was all right. “I mean, did that guy scare her away?”
“Hardly that, child,” Hanna smiled as she neared the “Enforcer.” “It is simply dawn. She had to protect herself for the day.”
“Great! That means we can go after her and kill her!” Trapper nearly yelled, more than eager to take a piece or two out of August’s hide.
“NO!” The command caught everyone off guard. But before anyone could gainsay her, she continued. “August is mine. I do not care how the rest of you feel about it. I have a thousand’s years claim on her, which far surpasses anything the lot of you might feel. Find Tracy. Find Amanda. Deal with her Immortals if you must. And the Watchers she has made into vampires. But she is mine.” She looked from the Enforcer to Angelique and back again. “Period. And I am more than willing to teach anyone who decides that I am wrong . . . otherwise.”
The Enforcer lifted an eyebrow, catching her meaning quite clearly. It wasn’t like he could do anything at the moment anyway. He needed to find a place to sleep out the day as well.
Angelique was swaying slightly as sleep neared her. LaCroix let her lean on him, though he was in no better shape.
“All right,” Micah moved forward, “we need to get them some place safe. If we go off ‘hunting,’ they will be helpless against anyone that happens upon them.”
“So, what does this mean? That we don’t go hunting until sunset?” Trapper protested. She still had some people to pay back for Dennis, and the longer she waited, the more agitated she became.
Micah turned to Benton. “Constable, take Nat, Xander and Willow with you. Go to the last room at the end of the hall here. It used to be the gift shop. They can stay in there, and the four of you can keep watch. Since you’ll all get in the way if you come with us anyway!”
The vampires moved quickly down the hall with Benton and his group of mortals close behind.
Hanna lingered briefly. Touching Micah’s arm, she leaned over and whispered, “Be careful. Please. I would not be able to handle losing both of you in the same day.” She touched his cheek, then walked out the door.
Micah stared after her, thinking briefly that he hoped Jonas wouldn’t be able to get out of that hole. He shook his head, then turned to the others. “We should probably do a room by room search.”
They moved upstairs quietly, ready to kill anything that got in their way that didn’t answer to the name “Amanda” or “Button.”
Hanna watched them from the shadows, wishing fervently that she could go with them. She turned and started down the hall again, when a hand covered her mouth, and another hand held her arms behind her back.
“Not you, my pretty muchkin! I want you to keep me company!”
She struggled as Horton dragged her back toward the pool . . .
Warren stalked through the halls of Casa Loma. Where were Greer and Ackron? It scared him, because for a minute there, while he was trying to retrieve his Joe copy, Warren had flashed on an empty vortex.
He had seen things. Events in his life, in the lives of the people closest to him. Things that had never happened, but oh, wouldn’t it be grand if they had? And then the doubt set in. For a second, even more fleeting than his split milisecond in the vortex, he saw that August bitch, and Horton, and then Greer and Ackron at the same time – like a superimposed image. It made his brain itch, and he hated it when his brain itched. It had caused him to flee his observation of Hanna burying her husband, who was no longer in the urn.
Warren ceased to have a fixation on their destruction. He no longer wished to obey Ackron or Greer. In fact, for some reason, he remembered Greer to be quite different, even after Ackron had snagged her that first time.
Something was very wrong here. It nagged at him, and made his brain itch even more. And he RE”LLY hated when his brain itched even more. He needed answers and he needed them now, right now. Not in two seconds or in and hour, but RIGHT NOW!!!
The fugued out Mage turned on a dime and continued his stalk down a side corridor…that’s when the blue and silver haze of searing pain hit him. Paralyzing him, mind, body and soul. He lost his hold on the energies he commanded. All of the spells he had cast in the past few hours came undone……
Joe fell down the stairs with a surprised yelp and a thud. Gathering up his abused form, he crawled up a wall until he was more or less standing…more or less.
“Where the Hell am I ?”
He made a half turn and found himself facing Duncan, Zara and a surprisingly unruffled Methos staring at him. Duncan looked the scruffy man up and down.
“How’d you…? But you were right behind us before weren’t you?”
Two sleepy vampires came up behind the group of Immies, leaning on each other heavily. Angelique stifled a yawn, LaCroix fought the urge to imitate her.
“You were taken by Warren, copied, and were spying on us…”
Three tired immortals, and one indifferent master vampire turned on Angelique.
She frowned at them groggily. “How did I know that?'”
Joe frowned,too, but he was not at all as tired as the Egyptian.
“That’s funny, the last thing I remember is closing the door to the bookstore behind me, and starting off to the Raven with Warren…. Where are we anyway?”
Duncan stared in a very Nick like way at Joe, “Casa Loma or the Twilight Zone, whichever you prefer….”
LaCroix growled lowly at Duncan, catching the entire group’s attention, “Catch up later, sleep now.”
Getting the hint, the unlikely throng made their way to some shelter. Bringing up the rear with Zara leaning against him, Methos quipped, “He must really be tired, he’s starting to sound like Kosh.”
Violence of Dawn
Trapper, with edits by Evie
Horton began to drag a protesting Hanna off down the darkened corridor. Suddenly, without warning, he was grabbed by the shoulder and yanked roughly around into a silver-clad fist. His head snapped back, but the hand that gripped his shoulder tightened and dug in until it hurt. He tried to get his bearings as the fist slammed into his face again. He took an involuntary step back. Hanna took advantage of his momentary vulnerability to break free of his grasp, and plastered herself up against the wall, into the shadows out of his reach. Horton shook his head and squinted, trying to see his assailant through the veil of blood that ran across his eyes. The hand on his shoulder released its grip, and the attacker stepped back.
He saw a tall, blonde woman, all in black, with mirrors where her eyes should have been. Her mouth was a thin, red line, and she appeared very, very angry. As his vision slowly cleared, he saw her casually flick his blood off of her hand, which was covered with heavy silver rings. She wore reflective sunglasses.
“Who the hell are you?” His voice bubbled with the blood in his broken mouth.
A dark haired woman appeared from behind the first. “Death,” she said, without inflection, and fired a shot from her 44 magnum short barrel.
Horton went down on his knees from the impact. Obviously, it wouldn’t kill him, but, strangely, it hurt.
“Holy water and garlic on the silver bullets,” Evie smiled grimly. “And yes, I BELIEVE in the power of holy water.”
Trapper turned her head slightly, with a ghost of a smile. “Watch it. You’re starting to sound like a tele-evangelist.”
Horton took advantage of the moment, and hurled himself down the corridor, toward the darkness, and away from these two harpies that had come in search of their friend.
Nick spoke up from where he stood, watching over Hanna. “That was too easy. Should we hunt him down?”
“Nah,” Trapper said. “Too much effort for this time of the day.”
“We’ve hurt him,” Evie said, holstering the handgun. “I think he’ll probably lick his wounds ‘til evening.” She looked to the shadowed wall. “Hanna?”
Nick was helping her to her feet. “Thank you. I am fine, if a bit shaken.” She looked at the trio. “Again, thank you, but shouldn’t you be looking for Tracy?”
Nick looked at Trapper, guilt warring with exhaustion. “I need to find her. She’s my partner. My responsibility.”
“There are plenty of people looking for Tracy and Amanda,” Trapper argued. “I really think we need to find a place to rest for a bit.”
“Time for all good vampires to lie down for a nap,” Evie quipped. Then she rubbed her eyes. “And I think my third wind is wearing off.”
Nick nodded wearily. “OK, you win. I admit, I could use a short rest.” He tried, unsuccessfully, to stifle a yawn.
“I know a spot,” Hanna led them off into the darkness.
Phone Call ‘O’ Doom
By Kay and Suhk
The motley crew of vampires, mortals and other assorted folk stumbled down the not-so-dark halls of the castle.
“The gift shop,” Micah announced. ““LL mortals disembark here.”
“But–” Buffy started to protest.
“They need you to protect them, Buffy,” Angelus reminded her with a gentle push.
“I don’t need a sniveling teenager to protect me,” Joe groused.
“That sniveling teenager is the slayer,” Ricze glared at Joe.
“And, just who the hell are you?” Joe snarled at the tall stranger.
“Ricze Vlashmire at your service.” Ricze executed a perfect 17th century mocking bow. He flashed his fangs at Joe. “And a vampire.”
“Show off,” Angelique rolled her eyes. “Can we find shelter now ? My skin is starting to itch.”
The shrill ring of a cell phone answered her. Several people reached for their pockets.
“Ricze you Bastard!” Echoed out of one phone loud enough for even the mortals to hear.
“Mine.” Ricze held the phone from his ear as the woman on the other end cursed like an 18th century sailor.
Delusions of Time and Space
He knew where he was now….Casa Loma in Toronto…but not Toronto. Everything was different here. It was like the modernized side of Terra, but not. His home was constituted as legend, Arthur and Vivienne and Mryddyn were nothing more than conjecture and myth. Scotland wasn’t free. Ireland was embroiled in conflict. And Wales was…just there.
Nothing was as it is supposed to be. Draconis was dying slowly here.
And Warren Casey was dying with it. He had been driven to the brink of insanity a dozen times before, but he was away from home and the energies that he drew his magic from were chaotic and weak. He wasn’t strong enough to keep his dark side in check.
But something at the castle had changed…somewhere there was someone who still believed in the old ways. Someone who drew their spiritual power from those beliefs. Somewhere in Casa Loma there was another Druid.
And his master Angelique, whom he’d abandoned. All because he’d actually thought that Greer was here -but, she wasn’t and he didn’t know where she had gone. One minute, he was off to cause all manner of pain for the group of Immies, vampires, mortals that roamed the halls, and the next, he couldn’t see. He had disappeared into a vortex and when he came out it was almost dawn and all his spells had worn off. Everyone else was still here, but it wasn’t his magic that was keeping him here; It was something else.
That evil he had served. What had caused him to use and betray his friends, putting them all in a life threatening situation? How many had been dispatched already?
Phone Call O Doom pt 2
Kay & Sukh
Toronto Airport ‑ ladies room
“Ricze you bastard!”
“Calm down Melissa. Everything…..”
“Calm down?” Missy shrieked. “I was standing there in the middle of customs and next thing I knew I was smoking like a charcoal briquet on the Fourth of July!”
“And what the hell were you packing in that damn bag? The airport police are probably hunting me down as we speak.” Missy threw the black leather shoulder bag across the room to release the frustration.
“What was that?”
“Nothing,” she hissed. Glaring at two women who came into the restroom, she moved into a stall, dropping a handful of cards onto the floor.
“Missy? Missy, what is that sound?” Came Ricze’s voice at the sound of crunching plastic.
“Revenge is so sweet,” Missy sang as she flushed the cards and began shredding his passport.
“Shit! Missy………Missy, stop that right now.”
“Stop what?” She faked an innocent tone.
“Get me out of here,” she whined into the phone like a lost child, “or your “TM goes next,” she growled. “Along with every other piece of important documentation I’m packing.”
“Melissa Carmen Rosas Vlashmire,” came an authoritative bark over the phone. “Stop acting like a spoiled child.”
“Me! A spoiled child,” she spat into the phone. “You’re not the one trapped at Toronto airport with the entire resident RCMP after you.”
“Mounties,” Ricze questioned. “What did you do to the Mounties?”
“Well it’s that whole smoking like fajitas and needing to find shelter, but some dumb guy won’t get out of the way,” she hissed. “Besides, we wouldn’t have this problem if you hadn’t gone gallivanting after that slut sister of yours,” she spat.
“I am not a slut,” interjected a heavily accented yet muffled voice from the other end of the phone.
“I want out of this place, and I mean now!” Melissa demanded scarring off two more unfortunate women who had wandered into her haven.
“Can you handle red serge?” Ricze asked.
“Excuse me,” a startled male voice asked from the background.
“Don’t worry, Constable Fraser. Missy is perfectly harmless,” Ricze suggested over the phone line.
“Harmless my ass!” Missy screeched loud enough for the entire airport as well as every person inside the closet at Casa Loma to hear.
“Missy. If you don’t promise to behave, the nice Mountie Constable Fraser, who happens to be on our side, won’t come get you.”
A muffled hurrumph came from Ricze’s end of the connection.
“Please Constable Fraser,” Ricze purred, “She really is a charming young lady.”
“Like hell I am,” Missy spat. “I should have listened to mother,” she sighed.
It Ain’t the Hilton
Casa Loma gift shop
“This won’t do at all,” Angelique looked around at the tiny supply room in the gift shop. She was exhausted and she missed Cleo and Lucius. They would be sleeping in luxury this day, and she was reduced to this dusty, cramped closet-like space.
“Poor Angelique,” Starr taunted her. “You can wait it out with the Mortals and hope for shade.”
LaCroix laid his leather trench coat in a spot near a empty shelf. “Here Angelique, perhaps this will help,” he sat down and beckoned to her to join him.
“I just don’t see how all of us are going to fit in this room,” she sighed as she tumbled down next to LaCroix.
Ricze was pacing the room pleading with someone to calm down. “Slut sister?”
Angelique narrowed her eyes. “I am not a slut.”
Starr smirked. “Depends on who you ask.”
Angelique turned green-gold eyes at Starr. “I would suggest you not talk anymore.”
Starr stuck out her tongue.
“Mounties? What did you do to the Mounties?” Ricze was sounding stressed.
Benton looked up, his eyes narrowing as Ricze was volunteering his services as a rescue agent. He made an odd hurrumphing noise and started to leave.
“Constable Fraser, hold up.” Benton froze.
“I need a really big favor.”
“Really?” Benton didn’t look happy. But he would do whatever was asked. It was a Mountie thing.
“Could you please fetch Melissa from the airport?”
“Tell me where to find her.”
“In the ladies bathroom, near customs.”
All Good Children Must Take Their Naps
Hanna led them down the darkened hallway. Though the dawn sun was reflecting it’s full glory along the outside of the “castle”, the inside had been modified to suit the purposes of the vampires that now occupied it. So the three vampires in their company moved safely down the corridor, not worrying about being burned.
“In here,” Hanna whispered.
Evie and Trapper had to drag Nick between them, though Trapper was showing signs of extreme fatigue as well.
She led them into what looked to be almost a “broom closet”. Evie groaned, and she smiled briefly. “I know. It is tiny. But I do not want any spaces around us that they might be able to use as an entrance. And they would never think to look for us here.”
Nick stretched out on the floor and fell asleep immediately. Trapper snuggled up next to him and joined him in Never Never Land.
Evie looked at them both and shook her head. “Great! I guess this means I’ve got guard duty!”
“Hush, Evie. Sleep now.”
“Say what? Do I need to remind you what you are? It’s daylight outside. Shouldn’t you be sleeping too?”
“Soon enough. Get some sleep. I will wake you when I can no longer trust myself to stand adequate guard, which should give you at least a few hours rest.”
“I don’t get it. How are you…”
“Relax, Evie. I have done this before. During the Inquisition, many times, we had to lead groups of vampires to safety. Obviously, since we were vampires ourselves, someone had to stay awake to keep guard. So, a few of us learned how. It is not hard, really, if you put your mind to it.”
“So, Nick and Trapper could stay awake if they wanted to?”
“Trapper is a bit too young for that kind of experimentation. Nick, on the other hand, probably could. But then, he has spent so much time and effort in denying who and what he is, I am surprised he has any abilities at all.” She shook her head sadly at Nick. “LaCroix, I do not doubt, could do it. Or Angelique for that matter. It is a simple thing, really.”
“Oh,” Evie mumbled as she stifled a yawn.
Hanna smiled at her. “Enough. Sleep now, Evie.”
Evie lay down in what little space was left and closed her eyes, falling quickly into the oblivion of dreams.
Hanna watched them all carefully, then immersed herself in her senses. She stretched her hearing and touch out like tentacles, feeling slowly around, being certain that they were safe. Once that was done, she expanded the search to the others, easily locating Buffy and the other mortals as they stood watch over their vampire charges.
She would have looked for Duncan and Micah, but she felt a wave of bloodlust coming from outside. Searching, she felt Jonas as he became aware.
“NO! Not yet!” she screamed at him in her mind. If he came out now, he would be dead before he could reach safety. Bloodless, he would be without protection.
She should have woke Evie then, so that she could keep guard while she held Jonas with her though, but that would mean letting him go long enough to wake her. And it would be futile at that point.
So she reached out to him with almost everything she had, leaving only scant pieces of herself in the tiny room. Just enough to warn her if anything was going to happen . . .
Here Comes the Sun
It was almost dawn. Even though the mansion seemed equipped specially for vampires, the two of that particular species felt the pull of sleep. Friedrick was sleepy, as well, but for more mundane reasons – it had been a hell of a few days.
Once inside, Kat had steered them into the first room they encountered. It was covered from floor to ceiling in mahogany, yet, the only girl in the group walked straight to the fireplace and opened a secret panel.
“There’s one on the other side, too, but it goes upstairs,” she said, responding to the disbelieving looks on their faces. “I have been here before, remember?”
Somewhere below a large gun was fired.
Friedrick didn’t need to be told twice; He quickly stepped through and started down the steep stairway. Vachon looked up at the ceiling, as if trying to see Tracy through the second and third floors. He knew it would be better to have reinforcements, but being so close and not able to help her was driving him mad. Growling, he swore this would be the last detour he was going to take.
Kat took hold of his arm as he passed by her into the passage. “She’s okay,” she reassured, “I promise.”
They emerged into a dusty and unused wine cellar. Once in the main hallway, it became clear to Vachon how massive this place actually was. A series of closed doors ran an equal distance in both directions and the sound of lapping water came from the very left end of the hall. Instinctively, the Garou turned right.
Each pulled whatever weapon they had and tread lightly down the corridor. All three felt less than prepared: Kat with her non-stake parrying dagger, Vachon and his much-too-close-to-the-body straight razor, and leading the pack – Friedrick with a leather sack of supplies (care of the Raven).
There were many doors from which to choose, but the one to the Gift Shop beckoned loudest. Friedrick turned the knob and slowly pushed inward. For a few agonizing seconds there was nothing, then a very heartfelt, “Oh, thank the gods!” as Starr erupted out of the darkness and ran to her love.
“Well Mr Vlasmire, I have one problem.” Fraser gave Ricze one of those Mounties’ looks.
“I don’t drive.”
“You don’t drive?” Ricze looked confused.
“I have no transportation to rescue your daughter,” Fraser clarified.
Nat piped up, “I can help.”
Both men looked at her.
“I can get us a car and I can drive.” Nat smiled. “Problem solved.”
Fraser made an odd sound, frowned, then nodded. “I would appreciate any assistance you could give, Dr Lambert.”
“Now all I need to do is locate Nick.”
LaCroix closed his eyes for a moment and took a deep breath. “Try near the pool.” He sighed as he opened his eyes. “I do believe he is there with some of our missing parties.”
“Thank you kindly.” Fraser and Nat started to leave.
Then two things happened simultaneously.
First, Vachon and Kat burst into the room, causing Starr to squeal and throw herself at Friedreich.
Second, Angelique scrambled to her feet and yelled “Noooooo!!!!!” loud enough to have Micah, Duncan and the others in the search party to stop what they were doing and begin a return trip to the gift shop.
Nat and Fraser stood in the door of the gift shop, concern plain on their features.
“Angelique?” LaCroix helped her to her feet.
“Warren.” She clutched LaCroix’s arm. “He is out and the Dawn is almost here.”
“Find him,” LaCroix encouraged her. “Lead him here.”
Angelique closed her eyes and searched for the connection to Warren. Once she felt it, she pulled, taking her time, like a lifeguard pulling in a drowning victim. She could feel his doubt, his confusion, and she soothed it as he drew nearer.
Warren appeared as the sun started to break, scurrying into the storeroom as the vampires were forced to close the door to shield from the sun.
“That was close.”
“Yeah.” Nat took Benton by the arm as they went to find Nick. “So how long have you been a Mountie?”
“Well . . . ”
Nat and Benton surveyed the gift shop full of vampires. “You know,” offered Benton, Ait is just a bit . . . crowded in here. If we’re going to find transportation, perhaps we should start looking for Detective Knight.”
“OK,” Nat said, moving toward the door into the hallway. “Now, we need Nick’s Caddy to go to the airport. All we have to do is find him and convince him to loan us the keys.” Nat fussed with her hair nervously. She couldn’t remember the last time she had driven the Aland yacht,” and Nick was so, well, picky about letting anyone else drive it.
The hallway had begun to lighten when they walked out of the small gift shop. With the sun up, he’d probably hand her the keys to get rid of her, she thought ruefully. What was she doing here? A hand touched her shoulder and she jumped.
Benton stood behind her with his usual stoic expression. “Are you ready?”
“You frightened me half to death!” Natalie panted, clutching her chest.
“It’s OK. Let’s just get moving. So, where’s this pool?”
The door to the gift shop opened and a breathless Friedreich staggered out. He leaned back in to kiss Starr once more, and then moved to join Nat and Benton.
“I can find Nick quicker than either of you. Besides,” he held up the leather sack he was carrying. “I need to get this to Trapper.” He looked at the sack as if seeing it for the first time. “I’m not sure why, but I need to.” He shrugged it off, and loped on ahead of the other two.
Nat looked at Benton as they trotted to keep up. “Who’s Trapper?” Benton shook his head in reply as they followed the Garou down the hall.
A nondescript door was his destination. The stencil on its scarred surface read, “M”INTEN”NCE.”
“He’s here,” Friedreich gestured at the door.
Nat stepped forward to knock gingerly. “Nick? Are you in there? It’s Nat.” Several sleepy groans answered. “I hate to bother you, but I need the keys to the Caddy.”
Friedreich picked the sack up to adjust it. There was a sudden sound of movement in the little closet and the door was suddenly flung open. A many-ringed hand snaked out and snatched the sack from Friedreich, then the door slammed shut.
The three in the hallway looked at each other, thoroughly perplexed. They could hear the faint sounds of snarling and gulping coming from beyond the door. It whirled open once more and the now empty sack was pressed back into Friedreich’s hand. The drained carcass of a coffee thermos was flung to the floor, with bits of latte foam gently drifting through the air to join it. A muffled “Thank you” was heard as the door shut once more.
Benton’s eyes were wide. “What was that!?”
“What about the keys?” Nat said, to no one in particular. She was becoming rather vexed with all of these surprises. She heard a jingle as the door opened once more. The same hand offered the Cadillac keys.
“Well, I guess I should say thank you.” She took the keys and the door shut once more. “I’ll talk to YOU later, Detective Knight.” Turning to go, she added, “Anyone for the airport?”