Meet You at Lenny’s, I mean Dennys (3/4)
By Maccousin and Sukh
Ciarán looked up a moment into the sky. He stared across the street.
Màire was eavesdropping on LaCroix and that horrible mistake of a vampire when he came up to her and tapped her on the shoulder.
“What?” she growled.
“Did you hear it, lass?” he asked her, softly as he stared intently into her eyes.
“Hear what?” she rolled her eyes at him.
Nick flew in holding Cordy, several of the vampires and the three Immortals gathered around him. The screeching tires of a Suburban grated against his ears.
Ciarán’s cell phone rang. He opened it.
“Yes,” he said into the phone. He hung up the phone.
Ciarán turned back to the gathering of Immortals. He turned Cordelia onto her side and removed the tranq.
“Go to Denny’s,” he murmured.
The three Immortals took off running in that direction.
Ciarán removed his sunglasses.
“Where are you going?” asked Màire.
He turned back to look at her. “I can’t say. I just know where they took two of them.” Ciarán turned and flew away.
Maccousin woke up and shivered, still blinded from the effects of the sedative. Cold air blasted from the vent above. She tried to warm herself with her hands when she realized that she could not move. Her vision cleared.
*Danger, Maccousin. Danger! * She let out a half-sob when she realized where she was.
The white room.
The door open and the Maccousin began to shake. It was Madeline. Madeline always killed people in the white room.
Madeline smiled, or rather smirked at Maccousin and was about to open her mouth when she was interrupted.
“PLEEZE DON’T CANCEL ME!” wailed the Maccousin. “You’re a TV character. Everyone’s a TV character. It’s all some weird cross-dimensional rift and I’m stuck in the middle of it with a laptop that has a mind of it’s own! I don’t know anything! I don’t know what’s going on!”
“Settle down,” Madeline reassured what she assumed to be a mental patient.
“You want August. She’s nuts! She wants to take over the world!” continued the ranting Maccousin.
“August?” asked Madeline, wincing at the high pitched squeals. “Tell me more.”
(Meanwhile Back at Denny’s)
Duncan, Methos and Gilchrist ran into Denny’s. The manager was just getting up from her desk and noted the two kilted men.
“Hey!” she murmured sleepily, noting Duncan’s attire. “Can’t you read the sign? No Shirt. No shoes. No Service.”
Duncan passed by the manager without a word.
Buffy was waking up. “Willow?” she murmured.
Sukh rolled onto her side into something wet. She sat up and studied her surroundings and made a statement on them.
“EEWWWW!” she griped, realizing what she had rolled into. Xander had been drooling. Half of his face was now covered in sticky, translucent goo.
“Thank God, you’re all right,” Duncan hugged her fiercely, trying to avoid the wet goo.
“Where’s Maccousin?” asked Gilchrist, looking nervously around.
“And where’s Willow?” demanded Oz.
(Another White Room in Section One)
Willow woke up and noticed her hands were locked into place in the sides of a chair. Michael was watching her from a distance.
“Why am I here?” asked Willow softly.
“You don’t know what you did?” asked Michael.
Willow looked confused. She distinctly remembered Ciarán had a brogue, or at least when he was upset he had one. This man sounded different and looked different. Who in the heck was this guy? “Who are you?” Willow asked, her voice, querulous.
“That doesn’t matter,” said Michael, walking up to her. “You, of course, realize what you did.”
“I played some spy game!” insisted Willow, beginning to wonder what really had happened. “Did we hack into your computer?” she asked.
“Yes,” replied Michael. “You did. Do you remember how you did it?”
Willow shook her head vigorously. “I was fixing Maccousin’s laptop,” she exhorted. “It’s having personality problems. Somehow we got into your site. We all thought it was a game!”
“I see,” commented Michael.
(Another part of Section One)
Operations studied the reports for the last mission. He heard an odd whishing sound behind him and turned around.
“Michael?” he asked staring at the figure in black.
“I dinna think so.”
“Ciarán,” Operations nodded, trying to not show some amount of apprehension. Enforcers made him slightly nervous, however he was able to cover it up. At least he wasn’t dealing with the Ops in charge of the Enforcers. “Are you keeping track of the situation with August.”
“Yes,” replied the Enforcer’s liaison to Section One. “We called a bloodhunt on Divia as well. However, I’m curious as to why two perfectly harmless mortals were brought in.”
Operations smirked. “They hacked into our system.”
“Impossible,” laughed Ciarán. He had met the Maccousin. The woman couldn’t tie her own shoes.
“Au contraire,” replied Operations. “The teenager is brilliant, from what I’ve heard from Michael. I haven’t heard from Madeline yet about the other one.”
No Rest for the Weary
New Salem Cemetery
She screamed until her throat was in shreds. She had a vague memory of previous damage to her throat that night, first a knife, then screaming, but they were vague. All that mattered now was the pain.
It was hard for her to move at all. Her flesh burned, caused by the hardening material around her. Her senses reeled. Had she been able to concentrate, she might have made out the scent of wet cement, but she was dominated by the pain.
And one other thing. She was virtually bloodless, yet again, after almost a month of starvation. She had a scant vision of tasting blood earlier in the night, but it was hazy, and she paid it no mind, since it had to have been a tortured dream.
She needed to feed, desperately, but the pain commanded her attention. She tried to move again, and let out a hideous moan from her mangled throat. She tried again, and had the same reaction. It hurt too damned much for her to move.
She had been bound for so long by those that thought they had the right. She would show them that she was slave, and prisoner, to no one. She struggled against the pain with a fury, biting her lip as she did. A tiny taste of a trickle of blood, and the berserk in her awoke.
Paolo stood above the grave, a hideous grin on his swarthy face. He could feel her struggle in the way only a Childe could feel the suffering of his Sire. And it pleased him well.
The ground at his feet heaved, and the children behind him let out a few muffled screams.
“Bring one,” Paolo casually suggested, and everyone interpreted, correctly, as an order. Those trying to please dragged several children forward, and Paolo randomly selected a weakly struggling little girl. He drew her forward; ignoring her suddenly high pitched screaming. With absolute indifference, he drew his sharp nails across her throat, and pushed her forward.
Leigh lay on the hard ground, trying not to cry. She was hurt bad, but she couldn’t move. She wished she had a mommy to run to, a mommy to make the bad men go away, to make the hurting stop, and to save her from that awful lady in the ground that she just knew was going to come and gobble her up.
She missed Mother, the old black lady with no eyes that took care of them at the orphanage. She never let anyone harm them. Until those bad men had come and burned her up in the street just like the other ones.
And then Marcus. Marcus kept them safe while Mother burned. Leigh remembered him crying out to Mother, crying out for his own children, and it made her cry. No one ever asked Marcus about it, but all the children knew that Marcus lost his family to keep them safe.
She wished that Marcus was there to save her now, but she heard the snarling beneath her, and knew it was too late…
She could taste the blood as she tore her way upwards to freedom and feeding. It gushed down the cracks of the imperfect cement, and she gulped it with relish. Fresh, innocent and pure. For some reason, she should have hated it, but she couldn’t remember why. She didn’t care. To her, it was the sweetest taste in the world.
As she gulped, she could smell blood passing her by, and she snarled. NO! She couldn’t lose any of it!
She dug harder and harder upwards, losing everything of herself as she tore out of the hardened earth, and crawled forward into the stale air of the cemetery. On the ground beside her there was a small girl with blood all around her. She hissed and was almost upon her when she smelled that her blood was almost used up.
No, no life to be had there, she snarled to herself as she turned and saw all the offerings before her.
A handsome man with dark, curly hair stepped forward and praised her, “Yes, my Goddess! Only you could have risen from the grave of stone! Now come! Take the blood offered to you! Children, my Goddess. The best, the purest, blood to be had! All for you! Only for you! I give these gifts to you as a token of my praise, my willingness to serve!” He knelt before her, bowing his head in supplication.
A Goddess? Yes, she must be. Despite the pain and the hardness of the stone that held her, she has risen from her tomb. Who else but a God or Goddess could have managed such a feat?
She motioned for the first to be brought to her, and the man motioned for a servant to bring the boy forward. He was older than the others, and could give more blood. She smiled a hideous looking smile, and fell upon him…
The children couldn’t scream, so great was their horror at the figure before them. The flesh was all burned and oozing, and there was a crazy, soulless look in its eyes.
The man that had brought them there talked to the figure, calling it a Goddess, and the children clung to each other tighter. Charles was torn away from them, and placed before the thing, and it smiled, the skin around its mouth cracking open and bleeding. They all screamed when it bit Charles on the neck, for him, and for the fact that they all knew they were next…
Nick floored his Caddie towards the cemetery, the limo behind him holding those that couldn’t fit in his car.
Trapper looked over a him, her mouth open as if to say something, when a flash of lightning hit a destroyed tree beside the road. She glanced at the tree, and almost felt it sigh as it died, happy to be free of the disease in the woods.
“We’ve got to hurry!” Marcus yelled from the back seat and almost went unheard; such was the noise from the car. “I can feel the children! They’re screaming!”
“I’m trying!” Nick shouted in return, trying to make the Caddie go faster.
Devin glanced at Marcus, and shouted, “I can’t feel her! I know she’s there, but the link is gone!”
Marcus nodded, and Evie along with him. Whatever had bound them to Hanna’s call was gone, and none of them could guess what that meant.
Another crack of lightning struck the ground, nearer to the car this time. Almost as if something were…
“…Trying to keep us away!” Trapper shouted, NOT trying the use the Voice ™.
Nick only nodded. He could feel the growing menace as well. Whatever they were trying to do in the cemetery, they wanted to be sure that they weren’t disturbed.
“The trees are moving!” Evie screamed.
“What?!” many voices echoed as they looked in the direction Evie pointed.
“Those aren’t trees!” Devin shouted back.
“Have you ever seen ‘Demon Knight?'”
Evie stared him, just a bit puzzled before Trapper hissed, “You aren’t serious, are you?”
Devin looked her dead in the face and yelled back, “Do I look like I’m joking?”
Nick didn’t need to see what was coming towards them, trying to head them off before they reached the cemetery. Schanke had made him watch that movie a few years ago, and it was an experience he didn’t need to view anywhere close to reality!
He could hear gun shot coming from the limo and guessed that someone was trying to shoot the things. He shook his head. It wouldn’t work like that, but at least they knew that those things were out there…
Happiness is a Warm Gun
“I’m open for suggestions!” Nick yelled as he drove the Caddie toward the shambling mass ahead of them.
Devin pulled his gun and laser sight from his shoulder holsters and began fitting pieces together. “I think we can take out the majority of them if we make our shots count.”
The others in the car agreed and checked their weapons. Trapper cleared her throat.
“All right, Nick,” Devin said with a calm he didn’t feel, “we’re going to spin the car broadside when we get close. That will give us two windows directly facing these misbegotten things. The others can fire over the roof.” He checked everything one last time. “Remember, aim for their eyes. If I remember correctly, it’s the only way to kill them.”
Faces set in grim lines looked out at what they were facing. They didn’t hear Devin mutter to himself.
“Or was it the eardrums?”
by Devin Saceur
12:17am, just after “…a Warm Gun”
Devin continued to fire as Anna moved over his shoulder and opened up with a volley of her own, sent out by the explosive, armored vehicle-stopping force of her .50 caliber Desert Eagle. An ear-shattering “BOOOOOOM!” burped forth from the weapon with each consecutive trigger-squeeze.
After a few shots, Devin pushed her back from the window. “Jesus Christ! Must you use such an obnoxious gun?!”
“Would you rather me use that chintzy little cap gun you have there? What is that, a .22?”
“It’s a 10mm…with recoil suppression and laser sighting, thank you.”
“It’s a cap gun! Don’t put your eye out kid…”
Kat intervened then, leaning in the window and trying to manage a serious tone. “Um, I think we’re trying to put the eyes out of those demons, you two. We could use your help, maybe…”
“Oh yes!” came the nearly synchronized reply…followed by a renewed barrage.
But their moment of arguing had been just enough to allow an opening for the approaching creatures…one of which dove through the window and proceeded to lash out with a grotesque, snake-like tongue.
Devin jumped back, desperately trying to get out of the way of the beast’s gaping maw. “You must be the skating waitress! All right then…we’ll have four chocolate malts and a hefty bag of seasoned fries!”
The sound that came forth in response was little more than an unintelligible “RARRRR!” as the creature bit into Devin’s arm, removing a sizable portion of his flesh as it pulled back. It snapped its jaws down repeatedly on the chunk as it lunged forward in search of more.
“Aaaaaa! I said seasoned fries, damnit! What kind of service is this?!” Without further ado, Devin plunged his fingers into the eyes of the thing and pulled its head further into the vehicle. He tossed and turned with it, mustering all of his strength in an effort to tug free the clumps of gelatinous mess between his fingers.
“Move your head!” Anna screamed just before emptying a round into the creature’s skull. Under the sheer force of the bullet, a flood of gore exploded through the vehicle, covering everyone. A pathetic dying squeal directly preceded the demon falling away from Devin’s grasp…only to be replaced by another.
Anna pulled the clip free from the Desert Eagle and searched for another in her bag. “We’re in trouble! How about getting us out of here, Nick?!”
As everyone scrambled to adapt to the quickly deepening circumstances, Devin engaged in another battle as the next creature in line plunged its head through the window. Knowing the situation to be grim, he kicked out in exasperation while sliding across the back seat. “Eat my boot!!!”
The sound of gunfire stopped them both in mid-flight. Kat and Vachon had decided to take the high road to the cemetery both because the Cadillac had been full and because they all agreed to try a little divide and conquer. It was just too risky to have everyone together at all times.
Anxious at what they would find at the cemetery, neither had expected trouble on the trip over. They were learning quickly that every moment was a chance for August (or Lux or Divia) to stir things up; The less likely the time, the better.
Without a word, Vachon pulled a straight razor out of his pocket and turned back in the direction they came. Kat followed suit, freeing her main gauche from her boot. She desperately hoped they wouldn’t need firearms.
Cruising over the non-existent forest, Nick’s Caddie was in plain sight. It had swerved, forming a sort of blockade with the limo attempting a similar maneuver along side. Kat could see the determined faces of her friends in the flashes from the shots fired, but had yet to see what they were shooting at.
Vachon spotted the creatures first. “Madre mia!” he hissed, grabbing Kat and pulling her faster through the sky. They overshot the vehicles and landed behind them, hopefully avoiding both the monstrous things advancing on them and the shower of gunfire.
Reloading, Evie caught sight of the new arrivals. “Their eyes!” she yelled, tossing Vachon a spare Glock-17 through the back window. Vachon jumped onto the hood of the 62 Cadillac and began firing. Kat took the rear of the car and straddled it and the limo’s hood. Any able-bodied thing that made it this far would have to see through Kat’s dagger.
By Maccousin and Sukh
Algernon held the door open for the rest of the WARriors, many who were helping the still groggy mortals aboard.
Angelique couldn’t help making a face at the prospect of riding with Lalor. She sneaked a look at the waddling Lalor and turned away in disgust, hoping the plan would work. It had to work. She shuddered at the thought of Micah’s suffering. She offered a hand to Sukh from within the limo. Sukh took her hand and then sat down across from her. Sukh appeared to have a clear viscous substance on her face. Angelique glanced over to LaCroix on her right hand side. LaCroix handed Sukh a handkerchief.
“Thanks,” Sukh took the handkerchief and wiped off the remaining Xander drool. Duncan took a seat next to her and she leaned on his shoulder. “Where’s Maccousin?” she asked him.
Duncan bit his lip and looked to Gilchrist. “Don’t worry,” he told Gilchrist. “I’m sure Ciarán will find Maccousin and Willow.” Actually he wasn’t sure of that at all, but it was an assuring thing to say.
“Willow.” Buffy sat up with a start, fully regaining her composure.
Gilchrist turned to Màire. “Do you know where he went?”
She gave him a small shrug. “He has his connections,” she replied reassuringly, knowing better. “Ask Angelique, she knows his duties far better than I do.” She turned away to help Oz into the limo.
Angelique nodded, still lost in her own thoughts. “He works as a liaison for the Enforcers to another group. He knows what to do.” She lapsed back into silence, staring out the window, lost in thought.
Jenny and Giles were next, helping Xander into the limo. Jenny led Xander to the seat next to her across from Angelique as Giles took the seat to the left side of Angelique.
Xander groaned as Lalor took the seat next to him. “Hey! Why do I have to sit next to the old, fat vampire! Why can’t I sit next to her?” He pointed to Angelique.
Angelique turned to face him and hissed, her eyes glowing in the dim lights.
“Okay,” squeaked Xander. “I’ll sit next to the old, fat vampire.”
Angelique smiled as Cleo came to sit at her feet.
“Where’s Trapper?” whined Steve.
Benton carried Cordelia to the limo and placed her in the last seat. Cordy snored slightly as she was placed in the seat. Benton then turned to the red-haired vampire that had quietly come up behind him, holding up another mortal.
Màire helped Oz into the limo and then stared at the crowded conditions within the limo. She looked over her shoulder at Algernon and then at Methos’ proffered hand to her right side. Màire then turned back to Algernon, who was still holding the door for her.
“You’ve got to be kidding,” she said to Algernon, who shrugged. As much as she would enjoy tormenting Lalor, being in such close quarters with Angelique would not be entertaining. Despite the fact that Angelique had been rather quiet since that crazy vampire had blown up the building. Màire almost felt sorry for her during the tape viewing. Who wouldn’t? Still, there were 12 people crowded in that limo as well as a rather large cat and as amusing as that might be, she decided that it might be better if she followed the limo.
“Perhaps another trip would be in order, Algernon,” Angelique noted.
“We can wait for Maccousin and Willow at Denny’s,” Benton suggested.
“Actually,” began Màire, “I’ll follow you,” she said shaking her head at the thought of waiting at Denny’s. The smell of a grease pit just weren’t her thing. She turned to Methos with a small smile, “Want a ride?”
Algernon closed the limousine door. The Rays and Fraser started to walk across the street.
Methos turned back to her. “You have a car?” he stared back at Màire. “I’m not much of a flier.”
Màire watched the building burn a minute. “I think my car is in the fire,” she stated, thinking of her nondescript Honda. “However,” she turned and looked at a sleek black Porsche, “there are alternatives.”
(Meanwhile in the Limo)
“So isn’t Trapper coming with us?” whined the fat old vampire.
Xander and Buffy rolled their eyes.
LaCroix sighed and turned to look at Sukh and the Scooby gang. “Exactly what happened in the restaurant?”
“Well…ummm,” Sukh stated at the same time as Oz and Xander.
“All I know is the service sucked!” Cordelia murmured with a sniff and a toss of her head.
“Fascinating. I was not really wanting that information though.” LaCroix lifted one eyebrow at Cordelia’s shrug.
“Cordy,” Xander started.
“What? It’s not like that other guy isn’t going to rescue Willow and Heather,” Cordelia crossed her arms and glanced at LaCroix. “Besides if he laid a finger on me, Buffy would stake him in a nanosecond.”
“Do you even know what a nanosecond is?” Xander asked.
“I’m very amused, but my question still hasn’t been answered.” LaCroix’s voice held a edge to it.
“Let me,” Sukh spoke up.
“Ah, good little addict, do tell Nunkies.” (Th-thump. Th-thump)
Sukh fell into the whammy like Steve into the dumpster.
“We were hungry for patty melts and Methos gave us money.”
“Continue.” (Th-thump. Th-thump)
“Willow offered to fix Maccousin’s laptop.” Sukh paused momentarily. “Then she started playing some spy game and Cordelia got a big plate of lettuce.”
“Fascinating. Then what happened?” (Th-thump. Th-thump).
“A blonde waitress gave us refills and we fell asleep.”
“Is that all?” (Th-thump. Th-thump).
Angelique looked at Sukh, startled. “Ops, that bastard. Stealing innocents for his battles.”
Angelique breathed in the sweet smell of Giles’ blood. She would have a long discussion with that mortal soon.
“And this is the reason I never trust parking attendants.” Màire chortled, sliding into Ciarán’s Porsche. Both doors were left unlocked.
“Are you sure this isn’t going to get us both in some sort,” Methos paused, watching Màire settle herself into the black leather seat, “of trouble.” He slid into the passenger seat. Maire mechanically pushed the seat forward.
“Uhm…he’ll be grateful we saved his car,” stated Màire, sounding sure enough to almost convince herself. She gripped the steering wheel. “Okay, keys, keys,” she murmured. She leaned over Methos, slightly brushing his thigh with her arm and opened the glove compartment. “Sorry,” she smiled holding up the spare key and started the engine. The Porsche roared to life.
“Wow! This is going to be fun!” Màire grinned wickedly as she shifted into first gear. The Porsche began to buck and shudder before she pushed the clutch back in.
“How long has it been since you’ve driven a manual transmission?” Methos gripped the dashboard.
“There’s a first time for everything,” the vampire grinned at him sweetly before taking off after the limo.
In the Forest they Play…
She tossed yet another child to the side, still famished, still insane. She was a Goddess, and these were hers by right of sacrifice.
She lifted her head at the sound of gunfire. Gunfire? Here? Who dared to disturb her feast?
Paolo looked around, startled at the growing sounds of battle coming towards the cemetery. He motioned with his head for his men to go look and see what was happening. After they left, he turned to look for Guilford.
Guilford didn’t know what happened until his vision cleared, and the ringing in his ears stopped. “WHAT THE HELL!” he screamed, holding his head tightly.
Paolo drew his foot back for another kick when she stopped him.
“Why do you do this?” she hissed.
He looked from Guilford, where he lay next to the now-naked child by the grave, back to Hanna. “He was going to rape this dying sacrifice!”
“So?” she hissed again, her throat still full of blood.
Paolo took a moment to collect himself. “She belongs to you, my Goddess. She is yours to do with as you will. He is nothing. He
hasn’t the right to touch anything that belongs to you.”
She looked at him for a moment, the skin regenerating around her eyes as she watched him. “You are most correct.”
Neither he, nor Guilford, could have seen her coming. One moment, she was almost hunched over next to Paolo, the next, she was crouched on Guilford’s back, ripping out his heart through his back.
“NO!” Paolo gagged in protest. He had meant to make her cold, to bend her to his purpose. But he had no idea she would have gone this far…
She munched on Guilford’s heart, draining it of blood, then tossing it to the side. She ignored all the sounds around her, from Paolo’s
heaving to the children’s screams to the heavy gunfire. She reached her hands around Guilford’s head and pulled until it came off in a wet, crunching rip. The blood left from his body spilled from the wound, and she buried her face into it.
Paolo opened his eyes, and realized he was laying on the ground. He rolled over, and saw no sign of Hanna, or the children. All that was left of any sign of them was the torn-open grave, and Guilford’s mangled body.
“I passed out?” he whispered to himself as he got up on his knees. He heard grunting and moaning and looked about in time to see a half-dozen grotesque looking creatures coming toward him.
“Bono Christo!” he hissed as he backed away. He looked about, and saw a nearby mausoleum, one of the doors ripped of the hinges. Several bodies, much like the things coming toward him, were lying dead in front of it. He ran quickly towards the door, and almost had his head removed. The sudden rush of air warned him and he ducked forward into a roll.
“It is you.”
He looked up to see Hanna before him, guarding the door. “What’s going on?”
She looked at him pointedly, and he added, “My goddess.”
“Those creatures tried to take my gifts. I shall not let them. The children are mine.”
He shook his head in dismay. He really screwed up this time….
Jump, Jive and Wail
A blue white bolt of lightening shot out of the sky, hitting the limo and killing several of the demons riding shotgun. The stench of burning bodies, molten metal and ozone caused Detective Schanke to gag involuntarily – but his aim never wavered. One more devil bit the dust while Donny Boy swallowed back his dinner.
Kat was knocked off the back of the Cadillac by the force of the strike and landed on her back a few feet away. Her vision cleared just as a pony-tailed monster dove in her direction. Yelling in frustration, Kat waited until the thing was on top of her, then she drove her parrying dagger into it’s leering left eye socket. She rolled away but was covered in gore just the same.
Gunfire still erupted from the far side of Nick’s Caddie, even as half of its passengers jumped out of the back door. The enemy was dwindling and one major show of force would end it once and for all.
Vachon stuck a hand out and pulled Evie up onto the hood with him. She leapt onto the roof and took a wide-legged stance before she began firing anew. Trapper and Marcus ran past the fin, leaving Anna in the gap between the two cars. She crouched to give her weapon the perfect angle into the creatures’ faces.
Kat stood and couldn’t help but notice the smoking rip in the roof of the limousine. The vampire sprinted toward the limo just as Freidrick emerged, a limp mortal in his arms.
All around them, creatures exploded in time with the barrage of gunfire. Lightening continued to shoot dangerously from the sky and Hanna still needed their help.
“Pardonnez-moi,” he said, stepping out of the limo and callously over the werewolf and the stricken girl. Freidrick barely noticed LeBeau, he was intent on Kendra.
The Slayer’s eyes were open but unseeing. A vicious burn consumed the top of her head and most of her face. Kendra was alive, but barely. Her heartbeat was weak yet frantic; it was only a matter of time.
“Where the hell are you going?!” Trapper yelled.
Remy responded casually with a genteel flick of his hand, “Dis does not concern me.” He continued his stroll away from the massacre in the road.
Shaking her head in disgust, Trapper turned to more important matters. She crouched beside the fallen Slayer and took her hand. The new vampire could feel death pouring off the young Haitian woman. Kat rushed up to join them. She looked first to Freidrick, then Trapper. They all knew the answer but Kat asked anyway, “We can save you, Kendra. Do you want us to?”
A creature catapulted across the ravaged roof of the limo right into the waiting and capable hands of Marcus. Before the demon could even disturb the air around the group huddled on the ground, the Nosferatu rendered him into so much goo.
Kendra struggled on a breath, her lips moving slowly. Kat leaned in closer and Trapper squeezed her hand. “Kendra?” Freidrick asked the dying girl. For the first time since being struck, Kendra’s eyes focused and she looked at Kat. She stuck her chin ever so slightly out, turned her head away from the vampires and closed her eyes. They had their answer.
Meet You at Lenny’s, I mean Dennys (4/4)
By Sukh and Maccousin
“She’s harmless,” said Madeline to Operations and Ciarán. “Delusional, but harmless.”
Michael walked in. “She has no idea what she’s done.”
Ciarán chortled quietly. “I told you as much. Now can I take them back.”
“We need some more time with them.” Operations turned away from Ciarán. “We’ll drop them off when we’re done.”
“One hour,” stated Ciarán firmly. He heard Operations’ heart speed up slightly and then slow back down to normal. “Angelique will not be pleased if she is made to wait.”
Operations blanched slightly then regained his color. He nodded his head.
Ciarán turned and began to walk away.
“It’s a true shame Willow is so young,” commented Operations. “She has the makings of a great computer Ops.”
(Meanwhile in another section of Section One)
Walter stared at the computer screen.
“Just your run of the mill system,” he commented to himself.
Walter sighed as he began to bring up files. Nothing out of the ordinary here, he moved on to the Internet history files. Harem?
Walter brought it up and started chortling then began to roll. Tears slid down his weathered face and he wiped them away, shaking his head. These women didn’t really know Michael, but they seemed to enjoy thinking about him.
Nikita would have to see this to believe it.
(The Hallways of Section One)
Ciarán walked through the hallways with a small smirk playing at his lips. An operative came down the hallway. Ciarán stared at her momentarily, loving the seductive sway of the tall blonde’s hips cased tightly in leather pants. Her blue eyes bespoke of compassion and she stopped to look at him as well.
Nikita’s mouth nearly dropped open when she realized that Michael was smiling.
“Michael,” she said, in way of greeting.
Ciarán realized she was speaking to him. He straightened up and cleared his throat, willing himself to sound like Michael.
Nikita shrugged her shoulders and offered him a small smile in return. “Let’s get a drink later.”
Ciarán nodded. “All right,” he said.
Walter walked up to Nikita, his face contorting at the sight of Ciarán.
Walter halfway chuckled and tried to hide it with a small hiccup. “Nikita, you’ve got to see this,” he began to drag her away.
“Okay Walter,” said Nikita. She turned back to Ciarán. “Later, then.”
Ciarán nodded, trying to remain aloof and somewhat serious. He watched Walter lead Nikita away and turned on his heel. He continued his way out of Section One.
“You won’t believe this until you see it,” said Walter as he opened the door for Nikita.
“Okay,” said Nikita. “What is it.”
Birkoff was already in the room. “Yes, I have to get back to the workstation.”
Walter turned the laptop and showed them a webpage.
The three operatives stared at the page for a moment and then looked at each other. Then they began rolling across the floor.
(Five minutes later)
The operatives were still cracking up. The door opened and they all regained their composure. Michael walked in. Nikita’s lips puckered. Walter made a funny sneezing noise. Birkoff studied the desk, refusing to look into Michael’s eyes.
Michael stared at the three for a moment and then turned around the laptop. He glanced back at the operatives, who shuffled their feet and coughed.
Michael picked up the laptop and walked out of Walter’s office. He closed the door behind him, but he could still hear the loud chorus of laughter in the hallway.
(Michael’s Office, an hour later)
Michael clicked on the link to the ‘who’s in the harem’ page. Thankful that these women seemed to know little to nothing about him.
He was impressed at the size of the harem. Over 70 women professed their love and attraction for him. At each new harem member, his smile grew wider and wider.
Nikita knocked on the door. Michael closed the laptop as she walked in a leaned across his desk.
“Are we still on?”
“On for what?” he asked, staring at her unemotionally.
Michael’s eyes darted back to the laptop.
“Kita did you have any of the coffee or water in Denny’s?” he asked.
“No,” insisted Nikita. “We made plans in the hallway before Walter came over to show me something.”
Michael stared at the wall behind Nikita for a moment. “You must have made plans with Ciarán,” he stated.
(Back at Denny’s)
Maccousin stirred in the booth and sat up, her eyelids still lowered. Willow stretched as the waiter walked back to their booth holding coffee.
“Would you two like fries with that?” he asked with a smirk.
Willow and Maccousin heard the sound of a limo in the parking lot and they got a clear view of Ciarán as he stepped out of the vehicle. Within seconds he was at their side.
“What happened?” asked the Maccousin. Willow shivered, despite the fact that she realized this was not the man who had questioned her for so long.
“I’ll tell ya on the way back to the mansion,” replied their escort. He helped Willow out of the booth and turned to the Maccousin who was actively looking for something.
“Where’s my laptop?” Maccousin asked.
“The car. I’ll tell you in the car,” Ciarán propelled the two of them toward the door.
This is the Road to Hell
Trapper held Kendra’s hand tightly as she felt the Slayer’s spirit ebb. When it was done, she placed Kendra’s hand gently on her chest and sighed deeply.
Kat squeezed her shoulder. “She made her decision.”
Trapper nodded and rose, wiping a stray tear from her eye. “I know.” Her eyes narrowed to slits as she looked out over the battlefield. “Let’s finish this,” she growled.
The two vampires waded back into the fray, leaving a trail of eviscerated, eyeless bodies in their wake. Nothing stood before this tidal wave of rage.
As they stood, surveying the carnage, the rest of the party came running to join them.
“Are you all right?” Nick reached them first.
“Yes,” Trapper smiled wanly. “But we lost Kendra.”
“She was a Slayer,” Marcus said without emotion. “She knew the odds.”
“C’mon,” Schanke said as he walked ahead. “We still have to find Hanna.”
“Up ahead,” Devin said. He peered into the gloom. “Look! It’s Remy!”
“And he has found her!” Monique cried. They all stopped dead in their tracks as they beheld the sight before them.
The few remaining terrors stood at the base of the mausoleum stairs, amid a pile of mangled corpses. Remy lounged, smirking next to a granite angel nearby. Paolo was frozen at the doorway, his expression shocked at what he saw. They followed his line of vision to the small woman, framed in the doorway. She was naked, save for a few rags of clothing that clung to her. Or perhaps it was her skin that hung in tatters down her legs. What unbroken flesh they could see was bathed in blood. The smell rolled across the ground to them, heavy, metallic, sweet with the innocence of childhood. Marcus fell to his knees as the full horror washed over him.
“Hanna,” he rasped, his voice rough with tears.
She turned her head toward them as they approached. There was no recognition in the mad eyes that stared back at them.
Angelique sat in the lime, the beating of mortal hearts echoing through her. Giles was wedged between her and Jenny. As the couple talked quietly planning her freedom from Set, Giles’s body heat seeped through her. He smelled of books, knowledge, and things now ancient. Learning was in his blood, and she could almost taste it. The beast rattled through her and he eyes went green-gold.
Buffy glared at her from across the limo.
- Angelique wanted Lucien, to crawl into the cold comfort of his arms and pour her fears into him. She looked at the smoke glass divider, not seeing Buffy and Oz as they watched a single blood tear spill onto her cheek. Micah was still alone, still hurting and in the hands of the madwomen.
“Mea Amortea.,” Lucien’s voice whispered over her. His finger wiped the tear away. “We will get Micah back.”
“Don’t touch me,” She turned her golden-green eyes to him.
“Angelique,” LaCroix’s voice held a warning she felt no need to heed.
“I need to think.”
“I do not like this anger between us.”
“You should have though of that before you slept with Màire,” she hissed.
The limo became deathly quiet.
“You had Ricze,” rage colored his low whisper.
“Not in our bed.”
“Is that what this is about?” LaCroix’s chuckle made her anger burn hotter. She elbowed him.
“You knew I would find her in our bed.” She growled.
“Actually no, I was planning on her being gone.”
“Why should I believe you?”
“Angelique–” He was interrupted by the ringing of her cell phone.
She fished it out of her pants and answered. “Yes,” She nodded and looked at the Scooby gang. “Willow and the Maccousin are safe.” She announced as she hung up.
“How did she hide that in her pants?” Xander asked in teen boy awe.
“Was that Trapper?” Steve asked, a hopeful look on his vacant face.
She turned and looked at Gilchrist. “What now?”
“My two dollars?”
LaCroix and Angelique both looked at him blankly, then looked at Sukh and Duncan.
“For the patty melts.” Gilchrist clarified.
“Do I look like I have any cash at the moment?” Sukh rolled her eyes. Duncan fished a couple of bills out of his sporran.
“I don’t want your two dollar, it’s her that owes me.” He pointed at Sukh.
“This conversation has what bearing on rescuing Micah?” Angelique asked.
“It’s my money.” Gilchrist pouted.
“Cheap Scot,” Duncan muttered under his breath. Gilchrist glared at him.
“Can we do this later?” Angelique muttered as she leaned over Xander to tap on the Glass partition. Xander looked blissful until Cordy Elbowed him.
Xander didn’t dare talk to Angelique’s cleavage until she moved away.
“Yes, Mlle?” Algernon asked as he kept his eyes on the road.
“I need out.”
“Are you sure Mlle?” At her nod he slowed and pulled over.
“Angelique, what is this?” LaCroix frowned as she crawled over to the door. Xander looked dazed and far to happy for a teenage boy.
She turned at the open car door. “Jenny, will you take care of Cleo for me?”
Jenny nodded and stroked Cleo’s sleek head.
“She is my beacon to the Chateau.”
She turned to the driver. “Algernon, can you have another car sent to Denny’s?”
Then she was gone.
Paved With Good Intentions
“This doesn’t look to good,” Schanke muttered.
“That’s the understatement of the week,” Trapper shot back.
“Oh, man,” came from Kat.
Evie, following up from behind with Vachon, stopped dead and stood staring, her jaw hanging slack, her eyes filled with horror. Vachon stopped and looked at her, concerned. They’d all seen enough to send the average mortal off the deep end, it was a surprise more of them hadn’t lost it. But the woman seemed to recover quickly, scanning the area for danger. He turned away, relieved, before he saw her expression change to one of rage. “YOU!” she suddenly burst out.
Vachon turned back, surprised at the outburst. Evie glared at Paolo huddling near the entrance to the Mausoleum. Her eyes were narrowed into slits and her faced looked different – almost as though a bright light was radiating through her skin. He had never thought to fear this particular mortal. Standing there, he found he had second thoughts.
“You made her like this!” Evie screamed, in a voice few had heard. It was a sound of fury and rage and revenge that would not be denied. She sucked in air and straightened herself up. Suddenly she looked much taller. “Paolo. You only thought you were dead. I swear, by everything I hold holy, when I’m done with you, dead you shall be. This I vow.”
Trapper looked over to Kat and grinned humorlessly. “Aspect and Attribute. Gets ’em every time.”
“Oh.” Kat frowned, both irritated and uncomprehending.
“She’s just sworn an oath, and she must keep it, or die.” Trapper shook her head. “Really wish she hadn’t done that just now.”
Remy gave a low whistle from where he stood near the angle. “Les belles filles, I like ’em when they’re hot.” He stepped towards them but froze, the grin sliding from his lips as his eyes met hers. “Maybe not this hot.” He crossed his arms and tried to look casual.
Schanke grabbed Evie by the arm. “Hey! Snap out of it. Priorities – OK? What do we do about Hanna? She doesn’t look exactly friendly right now.”
“You wouldn’t either, Schank, if you’d been through what she has,” Nick spoke softly. He stepped forward gingerly to try to engage the still-mute Hanna. Evie reached out and touched his arm.
“Let me go point on this one, OK Nick?” Evie’s eyes never left Hanna. “She’ll either kill me or she won’t. We shared a link once. Let me try.”
Nick looked to Trapper, who nodded once. “We’re with you, girl.”
Evie stepped out front. “Hanna. I know you’re in there. I can feel it. Talk to me, OK?”
Behind the Wheel
The seat belt strained the motor hiccuped and Methos thought he was going to die. He began to grind his teeth.
Màire was having a major disagreement with the clutch. “Huh?” she asked.
“Pull the car over,” he repeated tersely.
“Why?” She shifted into third and turned back to the road.
“Because.” Methos reached over her and released the parking brake.
“I knew I was forgetting something.”
Methos gripped her hand, as she was about to downshift. “Pull over now.” He stared at her then his tone softened. “Please.”
Màire sighed and pulled over, the two switched places. Methos made a face as his knees connected with the dashboard.
Màire allowed herself a small self-satisfied smile at that. “Sorry.”
“I bet,” Methos gave her a sly smile.
“Well you did take all the fun out of ruining a perfectly nice Porsche.” Màire smiled back, she turned on the radio and began flipping through the box of CD’s at her feet.
“What would be the point of ruining an exquisite automobile like this?”
Màire frowned. “Because it would piss off the owner,” she stated. “I hope you like opera.”
Methos rolled his eyes and twitched slightly. “No, not opera. Anything, but opera.”
“Ciarán MacKeracher isn’t known for his musical tastes,” replied Màire. “But you’re in luck. He has a Seven Nations CD.” She placed the CD into the player and ‘Crooked Jack’ began to play.
Up ahead, the limo stopped momentarily.
“Oooo,” cooed Màire. “It’s Angelique.” A small smile curled its way across her mouth.
“Don’t even say it,” Methos warned as Màire snickered.
“But if you hit her, you can get extra points!” Màire shook her head and stopped giggling.
“I like my neck intact. Thank you.”
“Oh,” Màire laughed and sighed. “You’re no fun.”
“I am too fun. I would just like to make it to my sixth millennium. You know, Màire, I wouldn’t have lived for five thousand years if I struck down every vampire in my way.”
Màire arched an eyebrow and said nothing. “I’m sorry for yelling at you earlier,” she said studying the CD cover. She studied his neck for a moment.
Methos nodded slightly, “I imagine I would have reacted in much the same way if my door had ended up in the hallway. But, apology accepted. Now, tell me why you’re staring so intently at my neck?”
“I heard you mention earlier you were bit. I thought I saw a scar,” she said. “Just a trick of shadows,” Màire lied. The truth was the smell of that ancient blood was rather intoxicating. “I just hope…” Her stomach contracted and made a squeaky protest at being empty.
Màire reached to the floor for her purse before realizing her purse was back at the hotel, the purse with her spare provisions for an emergency. She opened the glove compartment and sighed disgustedly. “Thanks Ciarán,” she grumbled. She pulled down her sunglasses and stared back at the road that ran through the countryside like a purple ribbon.
Màire could feel his eyes watching her.
“Sorry,” she turned back to meet his gaze and removed her sunglasses. “You don’t have to worry about little ol’ me. I won’t bite,” Màire paused as she leaned across the seat, a seductive smile played across her lips. “Unless you want me to.” She winked and pulled down her sunglasses.
Methos couldn’t help smiling a bit at that offer. She was quite lovely. “I’ll get back to you on that,” he said.
Màire twisted a long curl around her finger. Things were just getting more interesting by the minute around here. At least now there was a possibility of a pleasant diversion to the bloody mayhem. She unconsciously moistened her lips.
Lament for the Fallen
The atmosphere was charged with electricity. Silence had descended like a shroud over the field of combat. Hanna stood like a bloody statue at the door to the mausoleum, staring blankly at Evie. The rest hung back a bit, frozen in the rigid tableau.
Kat touched Trapper’s shoulder to get her attention. They moved smoothly away from the standoff to gain a little privacy.
“I hate to leave just now, but I want to get Kendra out of here.” Kat’s eyes slid sideways to where the Slayer’s lifeless body lay.
Trapper agreed. “She needs to be back with her own.” She looked bleakly at her gore-strewn surroundings. “And Gods only know what they might do to the body of a Slayer.”
Nick appeared from the shadows. “You can’t go alone, Kat.”
“It’s all right, Chevalier,” Vachon clasped Nick’s shoulder. “I’ll go along with her.”
Kat smiled her thanks at both of them.
“Are we flying?” Vachon asked.
Kat frowned. “I don’t know. It would be the quickest, but it feels, I don’t know, wrong somehow.”
Trapper stepped away for a moment. She returned with Monique.
“I’ve made a call to Larry,” Monique said quietly. “He’ll bring a car around to the gates of the cemetery. You can take her back to the chalet, to her friends.” She glanced over to Kendra. Her eyes pooled with tears. “Poor girl. She was just a baby; a candle flame that guttered out too quickly.”
They heard voices rising on the air behind them. Something was happening at the mausoleum.
“We need to go,” Kat said urgently.
Nick and Trapper hugged her.
“Gods speed,” Trapper whispered.
“Be careful,” Nick said.
“Thanks.” Kat looked over at Vachon. “Ready?”
He nodded, and they were gone into the shadows of the trees with their burden.
Gone for Good?
She was vaguely aware of the group of mortals, vampires and “others” before her, but she ignored them. They were of no importance. She was a goddess, and only the faithful were worthy of her attention.
“…talk to me, okay.”
The plea was quiet inside her head, engulfed by the screams of her sacrifices, but she still heard it. Her eyes moved almost mechanically towards the speaker as she approached her.
As Hanna’s gaze fell upon her, Evie felt the menace directed towards her, and she almost stepped back. Almost. She had a purpose, and Hanna was too much of a friend for her to let this go.
The others, however, did step backwards, except for Trapper, when she spoke. Her throat, still not quite healed, produced a sound not fit for mortal ears.
“INFIDEL! HOW DARE YOU CALL MY ATTENTION UPON YOU!?”
Devin groaned, “Great. Now she thinks she’s divine?”
“SILENCE!” The shriek was followed by a burst of power from her hand. Devin’s feet were pushed backward from under him, and he fell forward into the dirt.
Hanna laughed hideously. “You do well to grovel before me!”
Evie stared at her in horror, tears welling up in her eyes….
Gathering Intel (1/2)
Angelique knocked on the back door of the small store.
“Come in.” The small man let her in. “what can I get you?”
“I need something, a jacket a reds silk shirt and a cape.”
“Will this be on your brother’s account?”
“No,” Angelique flipped a platinum card out of her pants. “Use this.”
“As you wish.”
Three jackets of supple black leather were shown to her before she decided on the one button long cut. A wide lapel, red silk shirt and a mid calf length cape of the same black leather of the coat completed her power ensemble.
As the bill was being settled, she flipped out her cell phone and dialed. “Henri,” She waited for conformation. “24 hours assemble a team.” She hung up and redialed. “Ricze, 24 hours assemble a team.”
She scribbled her name on the bill and walked to the end of the alley. The smoke from the blown hotel lingers in the air. She cocked her head for a moment, then pulled out the cell phone. “Ricze when you can, look through the ruins of the hotel. I think something we’re overlooking is still there.” She hung up and started walking towards Denny’s.
Ciarán stood waiting by a black Caddie limo. He walked toward her, taking off his sunglasses as he stopped before her.
“We convene in 24 hours. Can section one handle it?”
‘Yes,” Ciarán nodded. “Ops will not be pleased to see you.”
Angelique smiled. “I don’t imagine he will.” She shrugged as she watched Willow and Heather stir through the window of the Denny’s “Your mortals are waking. I will contact you.”
Ciarán nodded and turned to the restaurant as Angelique took to the sky.
15 Minutes later she slipped on her sunglasses and walked into Operations office.
Over the River and through the woods…
Benton helped Willow step into the limo. Maccousin was walking or rather twitching her way to the limo. When Stanley offered a hand to her, Maccousin’s left eyebrow twitched several times, making her appear like she was rapidly winking at everyone. It was kind of amusing actually. Ciarán shook his head, inwardly smiling. Section One’s drugs seemed to have different effects on everyone. Willow edged away from him. The resemblance was too much.
“I got it,” Maccousin said raising her arms in protest as she tried to step into limo. She couldn’t seem to her legs to stop shaking. She finally crawled into the limo. Benton closed the door behind her and began to walk to the other side of the limo.
“We’re going to make a quick stop at the hospital,” he reminded the driver, Elton. Then he turned to see Joe Dawson walking toward the limo.
“Do you need a ride?”
Joe took a quick look at the occupants. Maccousin and Willow had lapsed back into states of semi-consciousness.
“No cancellation! NO!” The Maccousin uttered.
“Just helping,” said Willow. “Just trying to fix the computer.”
“They’re just delirious,” Benton assured him as he held the door.
Joe sat down and studied the occupants of the limo closely as Benton took the seat across from him. A small red-haired girl sat next to Benton. Ray and Stanley were sitting next to her. A figure in black sat on the far side of the other woman, clad in some crazy outfit.
She snored and slumped onto his shoulder.
“She’s a prize isn’t she?” snorted the shadowy figure.
Natalie Lambert watched the entrance warily. A black limousine slid its way into the driveway. Natalie sighed and smiled as Benton Fraser stepped out of the limo and began to walk toward the hospital entrance. The light reflected off his polished buttons and nearly blinded Natalie.
“Ready to go, Doctor?” asked Benton.
She nodded as he took her arm and gently led her back to the limousine.
Natalie stepped into the limousine, somewhat disappointed. Instead of being alone with a good-looking Mountie, she was stuck in a Rogue’s gallery. Some crazy woman was mumbling something about cancellation. Willow was talking about a man in black. A strange vampire watched her momentarily, then turned back to his ringing cell phone.
“Where are we going?”
“Ughhhh….,” interrupted Maccousin, turning pale. “I think I’m gonna be sick.”
Ciarán and Joe both scooted away from her, luckily for them; she lapsed back into semi consciousness.
“What have I gotten myself into?” Natalie wondered to herself.
Elton started the limo and the group headed toward the chateau.
Enemy Mine, part one
Like a silver mist, a sleek 1959 Mercedes Benz floated up to the gates of the cemetery. Not caring for pretense, Vachon opened the rear door before the chauffeur could get out and open it for them. Kat slipped in, a dead Slayer in her arms.
Recognizing both riff raff and vampires when he saw them, Larry kept his mouth shut. His grimy passengers carefully arranged the corpse on their laps then settled back on the pristine leather upholstery. Larry winced as he eased the 300D out onto the main road.
They rode in silence, heading away from town.
Lost in thought, Kat plucked stray twigs and grass from Kendra’s body. She smoothed errant hairs and tried to wipe away some of the worst damage. How strange to care for the body of someone devoted to your extinction. Vachon took Kat’s hand and held it, knowing no amount of fussing would make it better.
It Seems We’ve Stood and Talked Like This Before
1:20am (after Gone for Good)
Trapper watched as Kat and Vachon disappeared into the trees. She could tell that fall was on its way. The color change in the leaves was obvious to her vampire eyes, and she could smell that first sharp tang of death in the air.
‘All things die,’ she thought to herself as she turned to walk back up to the mausoleum. She raised one of her translucent, white hands into the inconstant moonlight. ‘Well, almost all things,’ she thought with a half smile.
A sudden unearthly shriek brought her out of her reverie and into a dead run up the hill to where her friends still stood in their standoff. She arrived in time to hear Hanna’s guttural roar and watch their little party flinch back at the sound. Trapper felt almost detached as she watched Devin fall at a burst of power from Hanna. She sighed and stepped back into the action.
“HANNA!” The word ripped the air between Trapper and Hanna like a hand through cheap silk, propelled by just a little of ‘The Voice’™.
Hanna trembled slightly and blinked at the feeling that had washed over her. She took an involuntary step back and turned her mad gaze on Trapper. Her eyes cleared for a moment.
“Trapper?” she whispered. She stretched her arm out toward the woman, but stopped to stare at it. The arm was dripping with blood, tattered flesh writhing as it mended itself. Hanna’s eyes grew wide as she realized what had happened. She fell to her broken knees and began to wail and rock.
Paolo looked up from his position in the dirt, realizing that his plans were disintegrating before his eyes. “No!” he began. “You are the Goddess!” But the force of Evie and Schanke jumping on him simultaneously threw his words back into the dust.
“So,” Devin said, brushing himself off as he rose to his feet, “is this a good time to wrap this up?”
“I think so,” Nick agreed. They moved in on the quivering bit of vampire that had so recently been their friend. Marcus threw a cloak over Hanna and they all moved toward the Caddie with their near-comatose charge.
Remy had watched the happenings with interest from his vantage point, leaning casually against an old cypress. He started to rise, intending to follow, but was met with a hand in the middle of his chest.
“Just don’t,” Trapper said, eyeing him narrowly.
He threw up his hands and gave her a sardonic grin. “What, cher?” I’m just keepin’ track of de action. I don’t want t’ miss anything.”
Trapper gave him a parting glare and walked off to join the rest of them.
Remy watched the retreat and followed at a healthy distance. “My, my Remy. Dis is getting more interesting by de minute, mais yes.”
Gathering Intel (2/2)
Ops eyes widened for a split second as his worst nightmare stood before him. Angelique, the Operations of the most feared of the covert groups, was here.
“How did you get in here?” He stood and swallowed his fear.
“Mortal technology is nothing to us.” She stood at the wide glass wall that overlooked Section One.
“What do the enforcers need with mortal business?” He put on his glasses and attempted to recover his game face.
“We have a situation.” Angelique motioned to the floor below the office window. “I can brief you, but we need Section One for a liaison.”
“Mortals in vampire business?” Ops frowned.
“The Sabbat has grown to be a bigger threat than we anticipated.”
“Ah.” Ops walked over and looked down to see Nikita and Madeline having a spirited conversation. He kept his distance from Angelique, but was close enough for conversation. “The Sabbat is not in your territory.”
“It is now.” Angelique took off her sunglasses to reveal her vampiric eyes. “I have been attacked twice, my brother is a captive, four vampires have been killed to get to me, and the hotel I was staying in was blown up while I was there. I will not tolerate this, and I WILL have your cooperation to bring August down.” She hissed. “We have mortals involved in ways that I do not wish, and the immortals are threatening us.” She turned and flashed her fangs at Ops. “Then I hear you have taken two if my people.”
“They managed to hack Sections computer files. We had to make sure they were not a threat.” Ops stepped back another step from the Enforcer leader. “They were not harmed.”
“Then I guess you will not be harmed.” She calmed enough for her eyes to return to the normal whiskey color and shrugged. “I know you will cooperate with my Enforcers in any way I ask.” She smiled at Ops and he had to resist the urge to run.
“One moment.” He sat at his desk and picked up his telephone. “Briefing in one hour, Michael, assemble a team, take Nikita.” He hung up and redialed. “Birkoff, in my office.”
Five minutes later a very nervous looking young man with glasses and a buzz cut walked into Ops office.
“Birkoff, meet Angelique, she needs you to run through a SIM with her, she has the profile.”
Birkoff’s eyes widened. “Yes, sir.” Fear fought with young lust a moment as he looked at the regal woman. She growled at him. He paled, then turned to the door. “Follow me.”
Angelique followed, creating a wide wake as she moved behind him through section. Nikita watched the leather clad woman as Birkoff took a disk and started a SIM with her. The SIM looked an awful lot like a cave.
“Who is that?” She asked Madeline.
Madeline was already watching Birkoff and Angelique. “She is the Ops for the vampire enforcement. She guarantees that the vampires remain a closed community. If anyone leaks out information that vampires really do exist, they find them and dispose of them and the evidence.”
“What about us?” Nikita asked.
“We have had to turn over indiscreet agents to her operatives. As long as we keep their existence quiet we are seldom bothered, except for a few times for joint operations.”
Nikita’s blue eyes widened. “She has power over section?”
“Yes, Her word is law, even here.” Madeline looked up as Michael approached. “Vampires control much more than you think.”
“Nikita,” Michael nodded to Madeline. “We have a mission.”
Nikita pointed to Angelique “Does it involve her?”
Michael turned the direction of Angelique and Birkoff and watched impassively for a minute or two. Then he turned to Madeline. “Are we under the enforcers direction?”
“Yes, ” Ops walked up, looking a bit pale. “She is getting full cooperation. We brief in one hour.”
Michael watched Angelique as she and Birkoff worked. “Michael?”
“She is a problem?” She asked as Ops and Madeline walked off.
“No, but she is nothing short of dangerous. The enforcers operate much differently than Section in many ways.” Michael looked at Nikita. ” They have free will, and they have lives that we are not allowed.”
“The only thing driving them is to protect the vampire community. They are allowed to form attachments, to mingle and to be known in that society.” Michael turned back and watched Angelique. “When she comes here, that means that someone has stepped out of the vampire society to threaten us. ”
“And that is serious?”
“More serious than any threat we usually have to deal with.” He continued to watch Birkoff as he assisted the vampire. “If they turn on us, we all die.”
“But they don’t mingle with us.”
“They are here, everywhere. They can hide in ways we can’t. If mortals uncovered their society, there would be mass killings to rival the apocalypse. The vampires, they would retaliate.”
“She is a vampire, she sees us all as less than her. This makes her even more dangerous.” Michael watched as the woman shrugged off her leather cape and looked at him. Her eyes widened and her face tightened. Then she started toward Michael and Nikita.
Angelique looked up, not sure why, and noticed the black clad man. Ciarán! He was supposed to be with the others. Wait, she checked herself as she took her cape off, something isn’t right. Then she moved closer, drawn to something, a scent, and the promise of rich blood coursing through her. Then she realized what was wrong; Ciarán had a heartbeat. They stood a few feet apart and sized each other up, two great cats facing off.
Michael watched as Angelique started toward them, then checked herself to stand, watching them, as if studying her prey. They were still engaged in the staring contest as they moved up to the briefing table. They still stood at a distance, neither one of them willing to break eye contact first.
“You’re not Ciarán.” Angelique looked wary, unsure that the man was not dangerous.
“No,” Michael took a seat at the table. “I’m Michael.”
“Ciarán?” Nikita murmured again.
“You saw Ciarán?” Angelique was not pleased. Ciarán was one of her lead agents, but he was in deep doo-doo at that moment. Playing at being a Section One operative was not allowed.
“Yeah,” Nikita’s voice wavered slightly. ” I asked him out for a drink. He made me think he was Michael.”
“Did he accept?” she asked Nikita.
“Yeah,” Nikita shrugged. Michael’s jaw twitched at that. Angelique knew that Ciarán was in deeper trouble than he even dreamed. “He’s a dead ringer for you Michael. I thought it was you.”
Michael nodded as Ops and Madeline came into the briefing area. Angelique stood at the head of the table.
Something’s Rotten in the State of…
Màire sniffed the air; there was an odd scent lacing the car’s interior. She looked warily at Methos.
Methos turned to his right. And sniffed. He smiled at Màire as she leaned toward the car door, looking like she wished to sink into the floorboards.
*I smell rancid. * Màire thought. Màire had grown up next to one of the largest rivers in Ireland and the idea of smelling was intolerable. *I’ve got to get out of these clothes. * She wondered if she would be able to get the stench out. She stared mournfully at her new clothing. *Damn that stinky garbage. * The garbage smell had seeped into the leather and was now infusing into the car’s leather seats. Oh well, there was one good point to this and she chortled at the thought of Ciarán’s face when he discovered the stench.
“Have I missed something?” asked Methos.
“Nothing,” she said. “Just wondering what the next few nights will lead to.” Grateful he had not said more about the smell. They pulled up to the chateau. Methos parked next to the limo. The limo riders emptied out and followed Algernon into Monique’s impressive home.
“Thanks for driving,” said Màire, preparing to open the door and step out of the car.
“Wait,” Methos turned off the engine and looked at her.
“Yes,” Màire said.
“I was wondering if you’d like to get together later. Drinks?” He was about to say dinner then paused. “Whatever you’d like to do.”
“Why?” asked Màire. She was slightly surprised.
“You’re entertaining. You’ve made me laugh several times this evening and that hasn’t happened much in the last few days.”
Màire smirked. “So am I like a clown to you?”
Methos grinned. “Is that a yes.”
“Sure.” Màire shrugged and pushed away some strands of hair. “So I scored big with the bite joke.”
“No comment.” Methos chuckled and opened the door and walked over to her side of the car. He opened her door and helped her out. “Sometime later then?”
“Later.” Màire smiled up at him.
“Algernon, could we talk for a sec?” Màire tapped his shoulder gently.
“Yes, Mademoiselle?” he asked, with a small sniff.
“You can smell the problem,” she stated. “Do you think Monique would mind if I borrowed some of her clothing? It’ll just be until I can get some new clothes. I’ll order from a boutique in town or something.”
Algernon nodded. “I can show you her closets if you wish. I can send your clothing to the cleaners as well.”
“Thank you,” the petite vampire murmured demurely, sliding her sunglasses into her pocket.
“Much better,” sighed Màire, sliding into a black silk dress. It had a Chinese pattern and matching gloves that she left on the bed. There was nothing quite as refreshing as clean clothes after a shower.
Màire had liberally doused herself with geranium oil, hoping it would ward off any stench as well. She placed her other clothes in a small bag. She walked out of her room and passed the bag to Algernon.
Not This Time
In Nick’s car…
Marcus and Freidrick surrounded her on either side, Nick already in the driver’s seat. Trapper watched silently as Evie and Schanke dragged Paolo to the caddie, and she held the door open for them as they prepared to squeeze him inside.
Nothing else could have caught their attention the way that one word did. Not so much the word itself as the sound of it. Her throat may have been healing, but Hanna’s voice sounded more like broken glass on a chalk board than Davistch’s did. She leaned forward, worming her way past Marcus.
“Hanna?” he whispered, actually terrified for a moment.
“Let me be,” she whispered in response. She climbed out past him as his face turned to Freidrick, and the two of them shared a puzzled look.
Nick and Trapper tried to ignore the blood and gore she left behind as she moved past them as well, but it was a task that made Nick’s stomach turn.
She avoided touching Evie and Schanke, since there was no point in making them even more disgusted then she was about to. She simply gestured them aside with a tattered finger. Schanke shared a look with Evie that almost mirrored Marcus and Freidrick’s, and they both moved back from Paolo.
He sank to his knees, barely conscious. She wrapped her torn fingers in his hair and pulled his head back with a jerk. His eyes were glazed, and he stared at her unseeing. They didn’t see the slap, or most of them didn’t, but they heard it. The force of the blow would have decapitated a normal human, but as it was, Paolo’s neck just missed being snapped. His eyes flew open and she grinned.
“That’s better. I want you aware of what I do, Paolo. I want you aware of what I have chosen to become because of you.” She pulled back his head further, forcing his mouth open. In the same movement, she tore into her mangled wrist. The blood dripped freely, and she gingerly held her wrist over his mouth, an audible “drip drip” breaking the silence. He struggled, as much as he could, but she allowed him only enough for him to appreciate the futility of the movement.
“When they forced me to make you, they encouraged me to bond you, to keep you faithful. Naturally, I refused because I wished you to keep your freedom of choice. I have seen what my mistakes have cost the world around me.” She smiled again, almost blood chilling. “It’s time to pay the price for my generosity.” She forced her wrist to his mouth holding the two together as she counted silently, her lips mouthing the words, “One, Two, Three.” She threw him back down to the ground with a callous laugh. “You do serve me now, Paolo. With every ounce of your soul. I’ve left no room in that little brain of yours for rebellion. Your are mine as sure as I am the one that gave you this life. Now, stand up.”
It was spoken simply, but everyone heard each word as if they were nails in a coffin being hammered home.
Paolo jerked up to his feet, staggering. He looked at Hanna with eyes glazed over with love and a willingness to do whatever she commanded.
“Oh shit,” Nick whispered, echoed by Devin’s, “Bloody fricken’ hell!” Marcus’ eyes were spilling blood tears, while Freidrick sat in stony silence.
She turned back towards them, licking her wrist as she moved. The movement, the turning, all of it could have been considered in sensual grace had it been any other time, or any other person. Now, it just added more horror to the play.
“I realize that the lot of you ventured this way to rescue me, along with little Jenny, but as you can see, I am quite beyond redemption. Jenny, on the other hand, is still in need of assistance. Now, if you like, you may follow where I lead. Those of you who would rather not can take the children in the mausoleum back to the orphanage in the city. Either way, it’s up to you and honestly, I don’t think it matters much to me anymore.” She turned back to Paolo and said, rather loudly, “Come, dog. Follow your Master.” She proceeded on foot towards the airport, Paolo nearly falling over himself to keep up with her…
“Let me be,” whispered Hanna as she worked her way back out of the Caddie. Nick and Trapper traded a glance and followed her from the car, as did everyone else.
The group watched in rapt horror as she bound Paolo to her.
Devin shook his head in disbelief. “I always wanted to see him as a mindless lap dog. But not like this.”
Monique’s eyes filled with tears. “Mon Dieu!” she whispered. “What has she become?”
Anna bit her lip and kept silent. She didn’t like the direction this was going at all.
“Come, dog. Follow your Master.” Hanna and Paolo began to walk toward the airport.
Freidrick looked at the rest of them. “Marcus and I will take care of the children. The rest of you had best follow her.”
Marcus looked around at the carnage. “We’d best be cleaning the cemetery up as well.”
Nick closed up the Caddie and the group began to follow Hanna and her lackey.
“So, now that Paolo’s…well, in the condition he’s in,” Schanke began as they walked.
“This changes nothing,” Evie hissed through clenched teeth. “I still want his heart.”
Trapper began, “Cannon to right of them,”
Evie continued, “Cannon to left of them,”
Devin picked up the thread, ” Cannon in front of them volley’d and thunder’d.”
Anna spoke up, “Stormed at through shot and shell,”
Monique added, “Boldly they rode and well.”
“Into the jaws of Death, into the mouth of hell rode the six hundred,” Nick finished the verse.
“Y’know, hanging out with you guys is always like a trip to the Twilight Zone,” Schanke shook his head and followed along, hoping that Hanna was leading them to Jenny.
“As you know, the Enforcers operate much differently then the rest of the agency’s sections.” Angelique stood at the head of the briefing table and surveyed the operatives seated around the table. “Our main goal is the protection of our vampire community. This includes both mortal threats and rouge vampires.”
“What does this have to do with us?” Nikita asked.
“There is a serious threat, not just to our community, but to the mortal community at large.” She clicked a small remote at the clear screens dividing the table and August’s picture was there for all to see. “This creature is our main target. She and her associates are considered rouges by all the vampire communities.”
“How many communities are there?” Michael’s French accented voice was deceptively soft.
“There are three of any number. Smaller pockets of our kind exist in small groups, but they are disorganized and not of any consequence to this mission.” Angelique paced as she talked. “The first kind is our community. We try to blend as much as possible, with small underground clubs to socialize in. The specs are on your pads.” Ricze and Ciarán’s pictures replaced August. “These are my right hand men.” Ricze was brought to full screen. “He takes most of the Americas, while Ciarán,” Hi picture replaced Ricze’s. “Watches over Europe. When word of our existence is leaked to the mortals, they eliminate it, both the source of the leak and the one who has threatened to expose us. Sometime the mortal is safe with the knowledge of our existence, and can be used to the advantage of the community. ” She looked at the mortals at he table. “If any of you leak the fact that we really exist to the mortal world in any way, you will be turned over to either one of those two, or me.”
Angelique began to pace again, something was thrumming through her, something not welcome at this moment. Danger. She forced it down, she couldn’t afford any display of overt vampire abilities at this moment.
“Now, these vampires are annoying, but rarely a true threat,” Spike and Dru’s picture came up. “They have a young mortal, a slayer that tracks them down and eliminates them.” Buffy’s picture came up. “She has been trained by her watcher since childhood to take these demons in human form and keep the balance between evil and good. One danger would be the fact that one bite might be enough to make you like them.”
“And a bite form you is safe?” Nikita muttered.
“Actually, we require a more elaborate blood exchange to bring a mortal across, but that is not what I am here to discuss.” The danger flowed through her again; her eyes went green-gold. Damn.
“The third type of vampire is a bit more complicated. They have an elaborate political behavioral system based on bloodline, or clans. There are twelve clans and two major opposing political systems. ” She gestured to the information computer pads. “The clan info and details on most of what I will tell you are there.”
“The Camarilla are the vampires that wish to blend into mortal society, they have what is called a masquerade. ” Angelique took a deep breath as the faint laughter of madness whispered through her. ” The Sabbat are the vampires that want to rule society, using mortals mostly as blood sources. They are cruel and they like to flaunt their nature. ” A picture of August popped back up. “She is one of these.” Divia’s computer enhanced portrait popped up. “She is one of us. We have declared blood hunt on this one, and she is to be eliminated. If at all possible, they are both to be eliminated.”
“Your part of this mission is to retrieve one, possible two hostages. ” Micah’s picture came up. “This is the priority. He is an Egyptian art dealer and he also is one of my main Intel sources.” Jenny’s picture came up on screen. ” This one is a child, important to the relations of our community in Toronto.”
“A mortal Intel source and a child?” Birkhoff blurted out.
“No, he is immortal. She is the daughter of a mortal partnered with one of our communities more powerful vampires.”
“Vampire?” Michael asked gesturing to Micah’s picture. Angelique could almost hear the gears in his head grinding as he processed the Intel she was giving out.
“No, just immortal. The details are there. ” She pointed to the slim black computer pads in front of each of them. ” You will need special equipment, and I am to meet with your weapons specialist.”
Madeline stood. “Nikita, take her to meet Walter. I can finish up here.”
“Sure.” Nikita stood and scooped up her pad. “Follow me.”
Angelique slipped on her sunglasses, nodded to Madeline, and followed the lanky blonde.
“Hey Walter,” Nikita showed Angelique to the worktable, where an older, pony-tailed man was looking through a magnifying glass at an intricate electrical setup.
“Hiya Sugar,” The man turned to Nikita and stopped. “I see you brought Ole Walter his dream gal.” He smiled the natural flirt in his nature shining through.
“Not quite. ” Nikita couldn’t help smiling. “This is Angelique. She is using us as a liaison.”
Walter’s bright smile faltered for a moment, then he regained his mock leer. “The enforcer Ops. Should I be flattered or afraid?”
Angelique smiled, charmed in spite of herself. “Flattered would be preferable. I get tired of everyone being afraid.”
Nikita smiled at Walter’s laugh. ‘She had Operations shaking in his shoes.”
“I’d pay to see that.” Walter leaned against the bench. So, Brown Sugar, what does the Enforcers need wit me?”
“I need some specialized equipment, built for detecting vampire body temperature. ”
“Sounds like a real challenge.” Walter smiled and nodded. ‘Any specifics?”
“Yes, you will be changing locations. I will provide an assistant and a new workshop.”
“Changing location?” Walter looked unsure. “That’s unusual.”
“I don’t want Section to have access to my equipment. I could prove a disaster to my kind.”
Smart girl.” Walter agreed. Then he stood. “I’m in then. I sure do hope all your friends are as pretty as you are.”
Angelique slipped on her sunglasses and smiled. “You won’t be disappointed, my mortal friend.”
“Oh come on!” Birkhoff cried as he heard the new mission plan. “I can do the comm work from the section.”
“No.” Angelique insisted as she walked into Michael’s office. “I will not have Section monitoring my transmissions.”
Operations glared at Angelique. She glared back. “Birkhoff is very valuable to Section. I need him here.”
“No.” She said again, and she moved closer to Operations. “I need his to train my techs.”
“I have others that can do the job just as well.”
“I think Birkhoff needs to go.” Michael spoke up. “He knows our operatives the best and he can familiarize the enforcers techs wit hour equipment the fastest.”
“It’s not safe.”
“Are you implying that my people will try to harm him?” Angelique growled. Operations looked at her and swallowed. “I assure you Birkhoff, you’re re safer there than here in this Viper’s nest.”
No one caught Michael’s small smile at the apt analogy.
“We can sedate you.” Angelique gave Birkhoff a choice. “Or you can go of your own volition.”
“I’ll go.” He sighed.
“Good.” She turned to the silent Michael. “Please have the team assembled in one hour.”
He nodded and Angelique turned to leave. She paused at the door. “We need to be in place by sunup.”
“Walter.” Angelique approached the workbench, Michael trailing close behind.
“Hiya Brown Sugar. What can I do you for?” He turned and winked.
“I need a tracking device on me for Michael and his team to follow.”
“Sure. Take off your boot.”
“Something Section can’t trace.” Angelique handed Walter her knee boot. He popped off the clunky heel and slipped something inside. He handed Michael a slim monitor and glued the heel back to Angelique’s boot.
“Nikita used this once and it worked real well. ” He tested the strength of the glued heel and held it up. “The tracker is activated by banging the heel.” He nodded to Michael. “Remember?”
“Yes, It saved Nikita’s life.” Michael slipped the tracker in to the band of his snug pants.
“You’ll need it to find the base I’m using. I need to leave soon to beat sunrise, but the staff will be expecting you.” She sat, and held out one long, leather encased leg. “Now about my Boot?”
Walter smiled as he slipped the boot on and replaced it. “Anytime Brown Sugar.”
When she arrived to find Kendra dead in the Chateau and a Slayer/Vampire standoff — She hit her boot against the couch leg and wadded into the fray.
Home Away from Home
Elton pulled up to the front door and the motor purred gently and then became silent. He held open the door. Natalie, the Rays and Joe walked out toward the door.
Willow and Maccousin watched them and then looked at the stairs leading to the door. They both closed their eyes.
“Those stairs look…” Willow paused. “Really high.”
“I don’t think I can make it,” Maccousin slumped in her seat. “Besides, I’ve always wanted to sleep in a limo.” She pulled an arm over her head and yawned.
“Yes, it is very cushy,” agreed Willow, her eyelids became droopy.
Ciarán looked at Benton and rolled his eyes. Benton stepped out of the limo and pulled out Willow.
Ciarán sighed and picked up the Maccousin. When he turned saw noticed a familiar looking vehicle parked next to another limousine.
“Màire, you radge.” he muttered.
(Inside the Chateau)
“I’ve never been carried by a Mountie before,” Willow grinned and waved at Oz as Benton walked by and began heading toward the staircase. “This is really cool.” Oz shook his head and smiled, following them to get Willow tucked in.
“There she is,” beamed Gilchrist, pausing in his harassment of Sukh for his two dollars. Duncan wandered back into the entryway holding a drink in his hand, still clad in just the bumblebee-colored kilt.
Natalie looked in his direction and a small wrinkle crossed her forehead – a small chortle escaped her lips, when Duncan turned to
glare in her direction.
The Maccousin had one arm wrapped around Ciarán’s neck as he carried her into the Chateau, and was singing an odd little ditty. “Pursued by a woman whose name is Pearl; an evil gal who wants to rule the world. She threw a few things in her purse…” she paused and stared at Ciarán for a second. “Sweetie, how does the rest of that gooo?” she slurred.
Gilchrist chortled. “Want me to take her up?” he asked the burdened gentleman.
“No!” slurred Maccousin. “G’christ’ll take me up. Won’t ya?” She beamed at Ciarán blankly and then continued her raucous rendition.
“Please, no more singing,” grumbled Ciarán as he glowered at a smirking LaCroix.
Màire walked in to the entryway, curious at all the noise. She shook her head and smiled at the ‘relaxed’ women.
“I’ll be a-wanting words with you later,” Ciarán growled over his shoulder at Maire. He headed for the staircase.
Duncan sniffed the air noisily. “My, you are a tad ripe,” he commented. Methos caught her eye and raised an eyebrow. Màire shrugged.
(Elsewhere inside the chateau)
Steve was lost when he heard a strangely familiar wail drift through the chateau. It actually gave him goose pimples to hear it. Despite his abilities he was lost in an unfamiliar place and was feeling his way along the walls (instead of using his vampiric abilities – this we might expect from a vampire who is convinced he can’t fly).
“Owwww,” he cried as he hit a doorknob, not realizing what it was.
“Shit! That’s my fretting hand!” Steve bellowed as he touched a splinter from the door.
He reached out along the floor and then jumped back up. “Uh oh…moving!” he tried to run to the other side of wherever he was and ended up tripping on his own feet. “TRAPPER!!!!!” He called out.
Benton turned at the noise that echoed down the hallway. He handed over Willow to Oz and turned to go back down the hallway.
Willow waved to Oz, with a silly grin. “Gee, honey. You’re so strong,” she cooed.
Oz grinned back at her.
Benton took the Maccousin from Ciarán before anyone else had a chance to do anything.
“Whee!” The Maccousin squealed. “Let’s sing the Lumberjack song!”
Curious onlookers began to follow the singing duo upstairs and down the hallway.
Màire smiled and shook her head. “I’m going to get a snack. Care to partake?” Her moist lips were an invitation.
“Perhaps later.” LaCroix kissed her forehead and walked into his room.
Màire sniffed the air, wondering if she still smelled. She turned away and started to go downstairs.
“And where do you think yer going?” Ciarán blocked her path to the stairway.
“I’m going to get a drink,” stated Màire, “not that it’s really any of your business.”
Ciarán pushed her to the wall, his hands on her shoulders. “I imagine you’re responsible for my Porsche’s whereaboots?”
“Actually I am responsible for that,” said a voice over his right shoulder.
Ciarán turned to stare at the Immortal behind him. “I see, yab,” he said coldly. He released his grip on Màire.
“You should thank us,” said Màire, moving away from the wall toward Methos. “We saved your car from the fire.”
Ciarán laughed. “Màire you only would help someone if it meant helping yourself.” He watched as the twosome stood next to each other. “Oh I see where this has gone. Take my word for it. She won’t be worth it. You’re just lucky. I have a date with a lovely young mortal tonight.”
He walked away.
Enemy Mine, pt2
She had handled many a corpse in her extended lifetime, but never one designated a Slayer. Kat didn’t know the history, had never heard the legend, but still felt the young girl’s body should be treated with respect. Concurring, Vachon gently lifted Kendra and carried her from the car.
Monique’s manservant had apparently seen his share of bodies, as well. When the two vampires appeared on the doorstep, he ushered them to a bedroom in the back without so much as a second glance. Their surroundings were opulent, dark and secluded, but Kat and Vachon barely noticed. Laying Kendra’s body out on the beautiful duvet, Kat stood over her and fussed needlessly.
“I’d get my hands off of her, if I were you, dead girl,” Buffy growled from the other side of the room.
Kat turned and saw the Slayer and her entourage filling the doorway. Angel reached out and placed a hand on the teenager’s shoulder.
“Buffy. She’s dead,” he said softly, intending to stifle her burst of anger. It only made things worse.
“That’s it. Good vampire or not, you’re going down!” Buffy grabbed a stake from her ruck sack and advanced on Kat and Vachon.
Cordelia stepped up defiantly. “Excuse me, Slayanator, but Kat is not a vampire.” Xander raised an unbelieving eyebrow at her. “A little stuck in the eighties, maybe…” she continued.
The redheaded vampire stood up and faced her accuser. She was a full head taller than the Slayer but knew that size wasn’t always important – Buffy had lots of training and righteous indignation on her side. Kat didn’t want to fight but her eyes flashed gold and her teeth grew in response to the threat. She held her hand out to keep Vachon on his side of the bed. This would be between the two women, if it happened at all.
Noticing the distinct eye change, Xander jerked his head in Kat’s direction. “Uh, Cordy?!” he said, indicating her mistake.
“Ooops! My bad,” Cordelia quipped and stepped back into the hallway.
Kat moved smoothly away from the bed and spoke to the entire group when she said, “Look at her.”
Buffy, disgusted at the suggestion, lunged toward Kat. The vampire, quicker than the revenants Buffy was used to slaying, knocked the stake to the floor and grabbed the girl by the shoulders. “Look at her!” she almost yelled, and spun Buffy in the direction of her dead companion.
Struggling, Buffy finally focused on Kendra. Her brow creased as she took it all in.
“No vampire did this,” Vachon said from the other side of the bed, challenging her to disagree.
Buffy shook off Kat’s loosened grip and slowly approached Kendra’s body. “What happened to her?” she asked quietly.
The Woods are Full of Shining Eyes
“Where do you think we’re going?” Schanke asked of no one in particular. They could see Hanna up ahead, striding purposefully through the thickening woods. Paolo was a shambling wraith stumbling along behind her, his mind full of nothing.
“Beats me,” Evie shrugged. “I just hope it ends up leading us to Jenny, so you can go be a family again.”
“Yeah. It seems like forever since I’ve been with her and Myra. It’ll be nice,” he sighed. “I don’t mind telling you though,” he said, pulling up his collar, “I don’t like these woods. They give me the creeps.”
“That’s an understatement, Schanke,” Nick said quietly. “The forest, as damaged as it is, almost seems to be watching us.”
The group unconsciously moved a little closer together, as if by their numbers they could ward off the creeping miasma of evil that hovered in the woods.
“Nice pick up on the Tennyson, everyone,” Trapper said, trying to lighten the mood. “I had no idea this was such a well-read crowd.”
“Actually,” Devin said as he carefully stepped over a fallen tree, “the old boy was a bit of a bore. But he did write well.”
“Do you think so?” Monique interjected. “I always felt he was terribly morbid, myself.”
Anna smiled. “Ah, but you should have seen him after a few drinks. He could be quite a charmer.”
“Really?” Devin raised an eyebrow. “I had no idea you were so close to Alfred, my dear.”
“A woman needs a bit of mystery, Devin.” Anna and Monique traded glances and a chuckle.
Devin found himself suddenly a bit nervous.
Behind the bantering group, just far enough to go unseen, Remy glided along, watching their progress. He wasn’t sure what they were after, but he was determined to use whatever it was to his best advantage.
Curiosity Killed…Them All?
“Oh Hanna…” Devin moved forward quickly, past the others, toward the shady form of the woman ahead and her puppy that followed. “Might I have a quick word with you?”
As he approached, Paolo turned to face him. The expression he wore was one of anger, for he seemed intent on defending his newly-discovered mistress from harm. Stepping forward to meet the oncoming vampire, Paolo extended his arm, almost instinctively.
Devin had been paying little attention to Paolo until he felt the tight grasp on his shoulder. Without shifting his gaze from Hanna, who continued to move ahead, he spun past the apparently mindless lackey and snapped a kick into the back of his knee, dropping him to the ground.
“Hanna!” Her lack of attention had become more than a little annoying to him. If he was to go along, possibly to his final death…he’d be damned if he wouldn’t know to what hell he and the others were heading. As he closed to within a few feet of her, he shouted “speak to me…now!”
She turned, a clear rage boiling over onto her features. “Away from me, Devin!”
His first thought was just how comical this seemed. Though he was quite disturbed by the evening’s turn of events, he let out a faint chuckle as he looked down to the pint-sized cauldron of enmity that stood, looking up at him through some infernal gaze. Thinking it strangely proper – not to mention, amusing – to lower himself, as if in supplication to the tiny deluded Goddess, Devin kneeled down to eye level with her.
A sardonic smile lit up his face as he splayed his arms out wide. “What are we doing here, Hanna?! To what fate are we foolishly following you?”
Angelique watched as Kat defused the anger in the young Slayer. The girl sat next to the body of her comrade and looked back at Kat and Vachon her blue eyes rimmed with unshed tears. “What did this to her?”
“I would like to know that myself.” Angelique let her presence be known, stepping up to the bed after activating her tracker.
“We had a bit of a problem at the cemetery.” Vachon started to explain. Kat cut him off…”We could have used you in the cemetery, where were you?”
“I had Enforcer business to attend to.” Angelique stood behind the seated Buffy and looked at damage Kendra had sustained. “Is everyone else safe?”
“Well–” Vachon started to explain, everybody turned off by the sound of off-key singing in the hallway.
“You left them didn’t you?” Angelique shook her head as the singing stopped in a high pitched giggle. “I hear the limo has arrived from Denny’s”
Kat looked at Angelique then made a small head motion towards the mortal Scooby Gang. “Perhaps I can explain elsewhere?”
“Yes, maybe you can help me check out the new comm center for the mission. I think perhaps these friends needs some time alone to mourn.”
Kat nodded. “Let’s go.” She walked by and tugged Vachon behind her by his leather jacket sleeve. Vachon stumbled then followed the women out of the bedroom, leaving the Scooby Gang to say good-bye to Kendra in privacy.
Meanwhile back in the Hallway
After Home Away From Home
“Thanks,” grinned Màire, rubbing her shoulders slightly. Ciarán’s grip on her had been rather rough.
“He’s a charming lad,” said Methos. “Ex boyfriend?”
“Ex-husband,” clarified Màire. “He came here to fetch me home to safety I suppose, being the poor little culchie I am. But he got caught up in Enforcer business. Ciarán’s just cheesed off, because I came here.” She shrugged.
Màire heard activity downstairs and curiosity got the best of her. “Hmmm,” she grinned. “I can’t ignore all that noise. Let’s go check it out.”
Plug it in, Plug it in
Kat, Vachon and Angelique stopped in the hallway and watched the procession. One put-off looking Ciarán was carrying what appeared to be a drunken Maccousin up the broad stairs; Willow was being carried by a Mountie, Oz in tow. Angelique groaned, neither of the teens knew about Kendra.
The shaggy-haired teen stopped and looked at Angelique with one raised eyebrow.
“Yeah?” he asked, attentively watching Fraser carry his girl up the stairs.
“We have a bit of a problem.”
“Kendra is dead.”
Oz looked startled. “What?” He narrowed his eyes at her. “She wasn’t sucked dry by some hungry vamp was she?”
“No, something else killed her. Can you tell Willow?”
“Yeah, does Buffy know?”
Angelique nodded and pointed to the room the body was in. “She is in there with her, as are your friends.”
“Thanks.” He walked into the room.
“That was too easy,” Kat grumbled as the rest of the silly patrol straggled through.
Màire wandered by, Methos in tow. Now, what was a hag like her doing with a world class man like Methos? Angelique smirked and wandered by, looking straight at Màire and making a delicate sniff with her nose. Then she turned to Algernon. “I think we need some air freshener.”
“That was unkind of you Goddess, ” LaCroix drawled as her descended the stairs.
Màire looked like she’d been slapped.
“Since when do I care what you think?” Angelique turned to Kat and Vachon. “Algernon was kind enough to make a briefing area of sorts, shall we?”
LaCroix just gaped as Angelique turned her back on him and wandered off.
Vampire Tracking Activated
In big Black Suburban
“I have a signal.” Michael pulled the cell phone sized tracker from his waistband and flipped the small device open. He handed it back to Birkhoff and made a left turn.
“Wow.” Walter commented as they passed through the burnt out remains of the Hotel. A long-haired male, and a young Hispanic woman sifted through the rubble. Michael stopped. He pulled out another tracker and rolled down the window.
The long-haired man looked up and his eyes narrowed. “Who are you?”
“Angelique sends you a message.” He tossed the tracker to Ricze. “Tomorrow night at the latest.” At Ricze’s nod, he rolled up the window and continued to the source of the signal.
Day had just broken when they arrived at the Chateau.
At Section, Operations smiled at the tall black man sitting across from his desk. ” I believe we could do business, Mr. Tricks.”
Tricks smiled. “I knew you would see the big picture.”
Og and Fang?
Ciarán walked back to his room, catching a glimpse of Màire rubbing her arms. He opened the door and pulled out his cell phone. Time to call in the troops.
He dialed a number and waited. The phone was picked up on the second ring. No one answered.
“Og, I mean Jerry,” he corrected himself. Once a long time ago, Màire had come up with nicknames for his team, rather uncomplimentary ones at that. Since then he had subconsciously referred to the two rabbit-fanged Enforcers as ‘Og’ and ‘Fang’.
“Yes…” the voice hissed back at him.
“I need you and Ben to come down here,” he began. “The August problem has come to a head.”
“What happened?” Missy stood staring at the hotel, or what was left of it.
“Internal explosion of some sort.” Ricze stepped through the debris, stopping from time to time.
“And the others.”
“Safe. Angelique has something up her sleeve.” He continued searching the debris.
“What are you looking for? And why does that horrible sister of yours always get you into this crap?” Missy stood in the street, hands planted on her hips. He foot tapped out a nervous tempo as she watched Ricze shift through the material outside the hotel. “So much for going home,” she muttered to herself.
Why did Angelique and this damn Enforcer crap always come between them. If not for the Enforcers and the Agency, Ricze would be hers. The two only fueled his paternal instincts. It was a good thing he’d never been able to reproduce, he’d have driven any biological child insane with his over protectiveness.
Missy returned to the borrowed Viper Ricze had secured for the trip around town to help her recover and freshen up. Sitting on the hood, she twirled a lock of hair about her finger. How to get Ricze out of New Salem and away from Angelique. She knew the bitch had slept with him. She could smell her all over his clothes, in his hair. Not to mention he was more distant to her advances than normal. That only happened after a good lay.
A black suburban turned onto the street and slowed as it approached the hotel. Missy’s eyes narrowed. Ricze watched the vehicle with deadly stillness. Well, if she wasn’t going to get lucky, at least she could kill along side him.
The suburban stopped and the driver side window rolled down.
“Ricze Vlashmire?” A dark-haired man with a French accent asked.
Ricze looked up and his eyes narrowed. He walked toward the vehicle. “Who are you?”
“Angelique sends you a message.” The man tossed a small black device to Ricze. “Tomorrow night at the latest.” At Ricze’s nod, he rolled up the window and the suburban pulled away from the hotel.
“Who was that, and what has Angelique gotten you involved in. There were mortals in that car?” Missy stormed across the ground, stopping in front of Ricze, feet apart, fists planted on hips. “You always answer when she shrieks.”
“Melissa, jealousy is a very ugly outfit on you.” Ricze turned away from Missy and stepped into the lobby of the hotel. Nothing outside of interest, but something wasn’t right. Cash may have blasted the place, but something else was nagging at his conscience. Things just didn’t fit.
“Ricze.” Missy whined from the street. When he didn’t answer by the third cry, she came into the lobby. He glared over his shoulder and she stayed where she was. Just as well, a computer genius she may have been, but if she broke another nail digging through rubble, he’d go deaf listening to her wail.
He moved to the center of the lobby and stood. Blocking out Missy, he centered himself and sent his senses outward. Each floor had exploded, the concrete reinforcements preventing the structure from collapsing. Internal fire systems had calmed the flames, preventing the inside of the hotel from smoldering. Not much would be salvageable, but at least the structure remained intact. It was safe to proceed further up.
His senses caught an unusual arrangement of concrete, metal, steel and rock.
“Did you hear something?” Missy whispered. Ricze came out of the trance. Looking up the central stairs, he listened for what Missy had heard. A soft cry, a moan, a rustling sound.
“Follow. Be careful.” He started up the stairs, checking to see if Missy was making it past the rubble without much trouble. The evacuation stairs connecting the floors were intact, making the trip up through the building an easy one. As they neared the Collinwood suite, Ricze felt a shift in the energy fields swirling past him.
“Stay here.” He thanked the gods that Missy obeyed. Someone was messing around with magic.
He entered the suite, passing through the barrier that had been erected around the rooms. The inside remained unharmed from the blast that had destroyed the rest of the floor. In the center of the room, Kay sat, huddled in a ball, rocking side to side and crying softly. The source of the energy field surrounding the room was coming from her.
“Hanna?” Devin continued to kneel in front of the filthy, blood-encrusted apparition. His arms were still outflung and one eyebrow was cocked in wry amusement.
With an effort, Hanna stopped before him. She squeezed her eyes shut and clenched her tiny fists, looking like a petulant child who has been told it’s bedtime. “What do you want of me?” she rasped through gritted teeth. Glittering beads of pink sweat were forming on her forehead. It was taking all of her strength to control herself. “I said, away from me, Devin.” Her eyes flew open and fixed on the dapper vampire before her. “I don’t want to hurt you!” she said with a tortured expression.
“Then don’t, Hanna.” Devin rose and took one of her little fists in his hand. “Just tell us where we’re going. Where are you leading us?”
Hanna looked around wildly, her matted hair falling in her eyes. “I…Jenny…” She rubbed her forehead with her free hand, leaving grimy red trails across her face. “I…” She wrenched her hand back, pulling Devin off-balance. “Leave me alone!” she screamed through her raw throat as she spun away from him into the deeper woods.
They all began to run after her, trying to keep her in their line of vision through the thickening forest. Then, suddenly, in a flash of moonlight, she vanished.
Devin stopped so suddenly that Schanke plowed into him at full speed, taking them both to the ground.
“What happened?” Schanke said, through a mouthful of brocade coat.
“For starters, you’re on top of me.” Devin was mumbling into the ground.
Nick and Trapper pulled Schanke to his feet, and Monique and Anna did the same for Devin. Evie stood back, keeping a baleful eye on Paolo, who had crumpled to the grass with Hanna’s disappearance.
“Gone…” he muttered. “The goddess is gone.”
“What’s with him?” Schanke said as he brushed himself off.
“I think his life support’s been turned off,” Evie said sarcastically.
“More like his sanity,” Trapper said, waving an arm in front of Paolo’s staring eyes.
“Not like he had a lot before Hanna bound him,” Nick added.
“So what do we do with him?” Schanke looked around. “And what happened to Hanna?”
“I think we should just kill him and be done with it,” Evie growled.
“Ah don’ t’ink dat’s a good idea, cher,” Remy drawled as he sauntered up to them. He pulled up Paolo’s head by a hank of hair and stared into the unblinking eyes. “He be bound, so he’s no threat.” He dropped the vampire’s head and wiped his hand on his slacks. “I t’ink we should take dis one back to d’ chateau. The tite chat can track ‘im through d’er bond.” He turned to face the rest of the suspicious group. “Ah don’ know ‘bout you, but ah don’ want dat one mad at me, mais non!”
“I hate to say that Remy’s right,” Devin began.
Nick nodded. “But this time, he is.”
Evie pulled her backpack open. “Fine, but we’re tying him up and he rides in the trunk.”
“Allow me,” Nick said, whipping his handcuffs out of his pocket.
Schanke did the same, and soon Paolo was cuffed, hand and foot.
“Let’s get him back to the car and head out to the chateau,” Nick said, turning back toward the cemetery.
“Oui,” Monique said, scanning the sky. “The dawn is only a few hours away. I can smell it.”
They trudged off toward the Caddie, no closer to finding Jenny, but with something that might lead Hanna back to them. It was their only chance of finding Schanke’s daughter.
After Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
Màire stared at Angelique. The shock on her face apparent. She turned to stare at LaCroix who appeared to be even more appalled than she was.
Wordlessly, she walked toward the door.
The lone figure stood outside the walled garden. It was still dark. The figure’s eyes flashed red momentarily.
“No one says I stink!” griped the figure to the world. “How far did she live from the river. Much further than I did! If I ever hear ‘dirty or stinky Irish’ again, I’ll…”
Màire snorted angrily, thinking of Angelique’s haughty smirk. Well she’d be sorry soon enough. A wicked grin spread across Màire’s face, and then sadness overcame it. She had been having so much fun she’d nearly forgotten why she’d shown up in New Salem.
An Irish curse on August was about to come from her lips when she decided to say nothing of it. August would get hers soon enough. Then Màire could have revenge for the poisoning, the pain and most of all the humiliation.
Enough of those unpleasant thoughts; Màire got down on her hands and knees and began to sort through the plants growing through the garden. Sive’s voice echoed through her mind. Hard to believe that was over 1,400 years ago. She hoped the memories could guide her.
Màire paused and tried to remember those long-gone lessons.
(Beal Atha an Fheada, Ireland 561 AD)
The Druid’s worn hands selected the plants carefully, much more carefully than her niece did. The healer pushed back a strand of gray hair and smiled at Màire.
“You need to select carefully. You have intuition. Feel the plant’s force on your fingers. Let your body tell you what to pick, hoping her niece’s so-called Christian relatives would leave her alone this afternoon.
Màire shrugged and sighed, closing her eyes. She lay down next to the plants and slid the leaves across her face. She felt a tingling
sensation and began to dig up the roots.
“Well done,” Sive nodded, green eyes sparkling.
Màire continued happily picking until cold brushed against her hands. She shivered and moved away from the plant.
“Deadly Nightshade,” nodded her aunt. “You can tell with the black stems and green berries. Some have strong reactions to it. In a proper form it can be useful. If it bothers you don’t pick it.
“Don’t worry I won’t,” Màire assured her and moved on to a patch of geraniums. The smell of the oil lacing the plants was invigorating and intoxicating. The flowers had no real health benefits; they just smelt good.
Màire stared momentarily at the mistletoe, lining the graceful oaks in the grove, wondering if they could be used for anything.
Sive laughed. “Sacred Mistletoe is never to be used. It makes us dizzy and weak anyway.” She pointed out foxglove. “Beware of that as well. Now let me show you these.”
Màire jerked back into reality with the cawing of a bird. She opened the first bag and found the deadly nightshade once again. She selected nearly four dozen green berries. She looked at the fallen acorns from the Black Oak and placed them in a bag, the Chokecherries were placed in another bag.
She stopped to study the Rhubarbs and gathered plenty of the leaves. Màire paused to look at a plant she had not seen in years. The Piper shrubs had taken to the environment well. She smiled as she began digging up the roots the natives had called Kava-Kava.
Màire had been so lost in thought she had not heard him come up behind her. Methos leaned over her shoulder.
“Damn, you scared me,” she murmured.
Methos snickered. “That’s a rather odd statement for a vampire to make.” He became serious. “Are you all right?”
“Yeah I’m fine,” she turned back to her work.
“Now do tell me what does all of this do?”
Màire gathered all the bags into her arms with a small grin. “That is a secret, I’ve been sworn not to tell.” She stood and dusted off her knees.
The Immortal took a bag from her hands. “Deadly nightshade? That’s not for my drink later, I hope.” He leaned closer to her.
“Deadly nightshade is a misnomer.”
“Oooooo…Kava Kava root. Now that I hope you’ll mix into my beer later.”
Màire snatched the bag away from him, smirking. “Now did I say it was for you?”
Strong warm arms wrapped around her. “Would you be surprised if I said I wouldn’t need it?” he whispered into her ear.
She leaned into his arms. “Actually these herbs are going to be used in a bath,” she stated. It was a half-truth. The juices from the
berries and leaves could be mixed into herbal oil. The same wicked smile crossed her face.
“Another bath? Why do you even care? You”
Màire sighed. “I’ve been called dirty and stinky many times. It hurts no matter who says it.” She smiled. “I guess I’m hypersensitive on that. Although I’m not as bad as some, the last time someone referred to Ciarán as a stinky Scot, he tore that man’s right arm.” She dusted off the black silk of her dress. “Later, rún.”
Methos watched as she practically flew back to the chateau.
“Never a dull moment with that one,” he chuckled to himself.
(45 minutes later)
Màire walked up to the masseuse and switched out the vials of oil. While Angelique was gone getting her massage, the leftover portion of poison could be placed in the bottle of bloodwine in her room.
Màire watched as the bottle of oil left and turned on her heel. Soon, Angelique would have the surprise of her unlife.
She pulled a strand of her hair and sniffed it. Maybe her hair was keeping the smell. She then sniffed her arms carefully. She sighed wondering if Monique kept tomato juice and ginger around.
Three cups of ginger had been poured into the tub. Ginger was great for drawing out poison and toxins, Màire hoped it would work as well on the stink. Two empty cans of tomato juice lay in the garbage can. She had rinsed her hair with it earlier.
The ginger made the hot water even warmer. She heard a knock on the door to the bedroom and sighed.
“Come in,” she yelled. The front door opened and closed. Her sapphire colored eyes closed, allowing her other senses to come to the forefront. A small smile slid over her features and she called back to her guest.
“Give me a few minutes,” she reached for a black silk bathrobe. She wrapped her wet hair in a towel. She heard the sound of glasses clinking and then liquid sliding into the glass. She wiped the ginger sticking to her skin and walked out of the bathroom, shyly.
Filling in the Blanks
Kat winced and eased away from the elder vampire. If Angelique was offended by a whiff of garbage, surely the stench surrounding Kat and Vachon would make her sick. The mixture of burned corpse and ruptured supernatural being would bring tears to even the unbreathing.
“Tree creatures,” said Angelique flatly, resuming their conversation. Her pace slowed as she scanned the wood paneling lining this side of the hall.
“Demons,” Kat improvised, “I think.” She looked to Vachon for support. When he merely smiled in response, Kat glared at him.
“Relax,” the Egyptian said, now running her hand along the wall. “I don’t disbelieve you, I’m simply trying to make sense of it.”
Reassured, Kat continued their tale of adventure in the cemetery. She fought the feeling that she was a soldier reporting to a superior. Kat began to appreciate why this woman would make an effective Enforcer.
They were almost to the main staircase when Angelique noticed a crease in the paneling. “Stand back,” she warned, then pushed on the panel nearest the crease. The wood came back into place and silently, a door sized pieced of wall opened under the stairs.
“Very good,” she commented to herself. “Just where he said it would be.” She turned to Kat and Vachon, her cape flowing with each movement, and waved her arm toward the hidden room. “After you.”
The room was large – bigger than one would expect to find hidden beneath a grand staircase in a chalet. Angelique nodded in approval as she inspected the makeshift comm center. Although there wasn’t much in terms of electronics, there was the capacity for more. Next to two decked out personal computers and a multi-line phone were several jacks and some crates waiting to be unpacked. Boxes with files and floppy disks were lined up on the desk in the corner.
Larry stepped in, flipped on the lights and addressed Angelique. “I hope this is up to your satisfaction. Your coworkers will be bringing more when they come.” He purposely avoided looking at the two bedraggled vampires; He would speak to them momentarily.
“Yes, thank you,” said Angelique. “Can you let me know when they arrive?”
“Certainly. Let me show you to your room,” he said graciously.
When Vachon cleared his throat in an attempt to get Larry’s attention, the manservant answered brusquely, “There is an extra room off the main dining area,” then led Angelique into the hall.
“Okay…” Vachon said dryly, “looks like we’re relegated to the kitchen.”
Kat continued to snoop into boxes as Vachon came up beside her. “Man, I thought I was on top of this cyber stuff, but… I’ve never seen this before have you?” She held up an impossibly small laptop with no visible means of operation.
“No, but that isn’t saying much,” he said, taking the futuristic object and putting it back in its box. “We don’t have much time. Are we heading back to the cemetery or are we trusting Nick and company to take care of themselves?”
Something Not So Wicked This Way Comes
“Kay?” Ricze approached the girl slowly, speaking softly. She looked up, her blue eyes glazed over and shinning. A gold and green pendant hung around her neck, glowing and pulsating with the energy fields in the room.
“Ricze?” She sat up on her knees, cocking her head to one side. “RICZE,” she shrieked, coming to her feet and sailing across the room. She landed in his arms with a thud, squealing with delight.
He sat her on her feet and studied the amulet around her neck. He reached out with his left hand, but something made him stop.
“Where’d that come from?”
“The necklace?” Kay lifted the stone from her breast and cupped it in her palm. “I found it the day I got that stupid book.”
“What happened in here?”
“The rest of the hotel exploded, why didn’t your room?”
“I didn’t do it,” she wailed. “I swear I had nothing to do with the hotel exploding. It just. I can’t find Sukh. I looked, they’re all gone.” She slumped to the ground, the sobs starting all over again.
“Cash blew-up the hotel. You didn’t cause the explosion.” He knelt beside her, tilting her head up. “What were you doing when the explosion happened?”
“Here. Everyone else went to help Jenny Calendar. I thought I could find something to help save Micah from that devil Divia. I heard the blast and *poof* this thing starts glowing.”
“Melissa,” Ricze shouted. He pulled Kay up to her feet. “We need to get Kay back with the others. Come on.” He led both women back through the hotel and out to the Viper. After some complaining and shoving, he got both in the small car and headed out of town. Ignoring the speed limit and navigating by sense, they soon caught sight of the black suburban. As day began to break the sky, the pulled up outside a small chateau.
“I’d be able to tell if they were in trouble, wouldn’t I?” she asked him hopefully.
Letting Kat precede him into the hall, Vachon said, “Knight maybe, but you yourself said that this place messes with your radar.”
They paused beside the stairs as Kat considered her options. Sr. Vachon was deferring the decision to her and she was grateful that he gently played the Devil’s advocate – frustrated but grateful.
“They said they’d meet us here,” she stated definitively, although she didn’t feel it. Vachon waited in silence, sensing her hesitation. After another minute of consideration, Kat tugged on the younger vampire’s leather and forced a smile. “Let’s go check out our digs.”
Sauntering toward what he assumed was the dining area, Javier snuck in, “Knight would feel better knowing you were safe, anyway.”
Kat smiled for real this time. “Oh, HE would, would he?” she laughed and caught up to him.
The dining room was large and unused. Sheets draped over a banquet-length table and accompanying high back chairs. Kat figured this room would be well oiled and sparkling by the time any mortal saw fit to feast. Portraits lined the walls; Although they spanned eras, they were all of one woman.
“Ughhh,” Kat shivered, “someone has some issues.”
Lost in Her Mind?
A light rain misted over the chateau like a dusting of sugar. However it was still loud enough to wake Maccousin and her bladder.
“Rgrhgh,” growled the Maccousin, sliding out of her bed. She hightailed it down the hallway for the bathroom, forgetting that there was shared bathroom in between her room and Sukh’s.
Unfortunately for the Maccousin, the door to the room shut behind her.
Maccousin sighed as she walked out of the bathroom, relieved. Then a new worry clouded her already foggy mind.
“Where’s my room?” she asked piteously in a half cry.
The doors to the rooms closed into the hallway. Maccousin couldn’t tell where the door ended and the wall began.
“A little help?” she asked the walls. “I’m Lost!!! Help!!!!” she called into the hallway.
Michael heard her lament and walked to her side. “What’s the problem,” he asked the teary-eyed Maccousin. LaCroix walked into the hallway and saw his addict wandering aimlessly.
“I can’t find my room!” she wailed.
Michael sighed. “Who are in the rooms next to you?”
“Gilchrist and Sukh,” Maccousin sniffed.
Michael sighed and rolled his green eyes. “It’s two doors down to the left.”
“Which way is left?”
“How did you get into my harem?” grumbled Michael, walking Maccousin to her room.
Nunkies came up behind them. “I adore my addicts idiosyncrasies,” he stated.
Maccousin beamed at LaCroix.
Michael stared at LaCroix for a moment. “I suppose she can stay in the harem then.” He opened the door for Maccousin and she walked into her room.
LaCroix looked at his shaky addict. “Maccousin, why did you leave your room?” he asked.
“I had to use the facilities,” stated Maccousin, hearing the sounds of splashing and laughter from the direction of Sukh’s room.
“Well there are facilities right here,” LaCroix pointed out the door to the bathroom.
Maccousin sighed and rubbed her forehead.
Michael shook his head and began to walk out. “I’d suggest you get some rest,” he told Maccousin. “We need everyone’s help tomorrow.”
“Yes I have a cunning plan,” began Maccousin. Michael and LaCroix exchanged glances. “I’ll tell everyone about it in the morning or whenever.”
The black-clad operative left her room and LaCroix followed him out. He walked back into Angelique’s room.
“Yes,” repeated the Maccousin. “A cunning plan.” She giggled and slid under the covers, trying to not hear the sounds of splashing water and Sukh and Duncan’s laughter.
“I wonder if Immortals get pruney?” Maccousin asked herself. She didn’t have time to think about that plan. She was snoring happily a few seconds later.
Revenge is the Best Revenge
Màire walked out of the bathroom and paused, feeling slightly embarrassed at appearing in a robe and turban. She crossed her arms
- The scents of blood and wine slid across the room. She was hungry.
“You’re certainly full of surprises,” she said, taking a sip of her drink. She sat down and crossed her legs and motioned for her guest to sit.
“Well you did say we would meet for drinks,” Methos took the chair across from her. He raised his glass. “Cheers.”
A smile played across Màire’s lips. The glasses clinked together. “Cheers.” She gulped down the bloodwine and sighed softly. She looked away, somewhat sadly.
“Whatever happened to the good-time party girl?” asked Methos, taking a big sip of the black stuff. “And why is she so concerned with some other woman’s thoughts and words.”
“She…” Màire paused, staring at her feet. “Gets tired of being used as a tool. LaCroix and the princess fight, he ends up in my bed and then leapfrogs back into hers.” She gulped down the rest of the wine and poured another glass.
“Any particular reason why you let him do this to you?”
Màire brought up her knees to her chin in the chair. “Sometimes, because it feels good to take her down a notch,” she said softly with a small smile. “And she’s called me stinky for the last time.” She was about to tell him her plans when a ruckus interrupted her.
“Oooo, more mayhem,” Màire sighed as Methos opened the door. The two poked their heads into the hallway. Angelique was pushing LaCroix into the hallway.
“You arrogant Roman Ass, get out of my room!” She yelled as she flung open the door.
She shoved him into the hall. “You want sex, go find that Irish slut of yours.”
LaCroix turned and glared at the busybodies in the hallway.
Màire turned away from LaCroix and walked into her room. Methos closed the door and walked to her side. Màire stared at the window, silently fuming.
He gently rubbed her shoulders. “Imagine that, a free floor show with the room,” he said. The turban slid away and her thick hair slid across his fingers; smelling of tomatoes. A few seconds later he heard a chuckle.
“Would you like to hear my cunning plan?” she asked. Now facing him with her wicked smile.
“Only if I’m not implicated.”
She said nothing, but continued smiling.
“Are you sure Monique would have the supplies I need here?” she asked Methos.
“I’m nearly positive,” he replied, beginning to open desk drawers. He found some engraved paper and passed it to Màire, along with a black pen.
Màire took the pen and some paper, trying to think of what to write.
She began to write, ‘Gift Certificate entitles you to a free massage.’ She added the number for the downstairs extension and stared at the flowing script. She realized that Angelique probably had seen her handwriting on many occasions.
(Outside the library)
Giles walked to the library, hoping to find a book to console himself with. He wondered if he would get any sleep. He turned the knob.
“Crap, it’s Giles,” whispered Màire, sniffing the air, recognizing his scent. “If he knows what I’m doing he’ll tell Angelique.” She stood up and pushed Methos onto the library table over the notes, her lips locking with his.”
Giles walked in and blushed. “Dreadfully sorry,” he said, practically running out of the library.
The kiss lasted longer than Màire thought it would, his arms wrapped around her. She pulled back, with regret.
“Where do you think you’re going?” Methos asked.
She smirked and took his right hand, and brought it to her lips. She kissed a finger playfully and then slid her tongue down his wrist into his palm. Her eyes became amber and she traced her fangs against his palm. She heard an intake of air. “Methos?”
“I bet you have beautiful handwriting…”
Màire slid the gift certificate under Angelique’s door and walked into her room. She smiled as he took her in his arms again.
This Room’s Taken
“What are you doing here?” Angelique turned from her windows. Her face was a tight mask of rage.
“I am sleeping of course.” LaCroix started to unbutton his black silk shirt. It was torn in a few spots and had dust from the hotel streaking it. “I abhor being this filthy.” He commented as he moved towards the bathroom.
“Why do you think you are staying here?” Cleo was twining around Angelique’s legs growling softly.
“Mea Amortea, we always are together.” His tone suggested she was a small child needing an explanation.
“Not anymore.” She moved closer, her mouth thin with anger.
“Are we still on this tiresome subject?” He sighed.
“How dare you!” She slapped him, snapping his head back.
He stood for a moment, stunned into silence, a dark shadow of her hand marring his pale face. “You will pay for that.” He whispered between narrowed lips, his eyes gold-green.
“You deserve that.” Angelique’s eyes reflected the same green-gold as his eyes. “I’m tired of your mind games. I’m tired of your arrogance, and I’m tired of seeing you with Màire.”
“I am tired of you throwing yourself at every man that crosses your path.” He growled as he straightened to tower over Angelique. “For thousands of years I have been made to fawn at your feet, begging for any scrap of your attention.”
“I have watched you mistreat and bully those closest to you. Look what you’ve done to Nicholas.”
He cocked an eyebrow. “Do go on.”
“You’ve pushed him, you’ve threatened him, you’ve played cruel tricks on him, for what?”
“Nicholas has what was coming to him for throwing back the gift I gave him of this life.”
“Please, spare me the outraged Father bit.” Angelique snarled. “You couldn’t stand to be alone, to think about what you did to Divia. Nicholas was a diversion, the son, the companion, that she would have been, had you not killed her in that tomb long ago.”
His eyes narrowed, and then he lunged at Angelique his rage past words. Cleo met his lunge and they rolled on the floor for a moment snarling and tearing at each other. Then he shoved Cleo into the wall, stunning the ebony cat. He stood and stalked to Angelique, grabbing her by the hair and holding her against him.
“Do you think I liked watching that tape?” He yanked her hair as she tried to turn from him. “Do you think I liked having that entire room know what a sick child I produced? Do you think I enjoyed watching her do those depraved things to Micah and hear her call my name?”
“Angelique, I know what it did to you to watch that tape.” His tone was void of anger. “You love your brother more than anything, even that wretched Cleo.” He pulled his hand out of her hair and stroked her face. “When I am with you I remember where I came from. I can fall into your arms and forget about Divia, about the endless nights of being alone, of her looks, her touches, of thinking that I should have given in and done what she asked.”
“Lucien, as depraved as you can be, that would have destroyed you.” The anger drained out of her at the pain in his rich voice.
“Like my forcing Nicholas to do my bidding turned him into what he is?” His eyes were clear blue again, ancient and troubled.
“Nicholas was always too much the Catholic not to feel guilt.” Her lips curved into a small smile.
“True.” His lips brushed over hers, then he moved away from her. “If you wish, I can take another room.”
“I need to be alone this day, I need to start figuring out how to rescue Micah.” She closed her eyes. “His pain echoes through me, and I have to get him soon or he will be nothing more than an Immortal vegetable.”
“I should have done as Divia had bidden me.”
“Never, My Lucien.” She put her arm around him. “Never give in to become a total beast.”
“An elegant monster is much preferable?” His laugh was harsh.
“No being free is better than being the slave of someone else’s needs.” She turned and looked out the window at the filling moon. “The full moon is soon, after then, we can go after him.”
“Until then?” LaCroix slipped up behind her.
“I am subject to the whims of Set, until Jenny Calendar can release me.”
LaCroix kissed the top of her head. “Then I will leave you to your thoughts.” He brushed his knuckles over her cheek. “If you need anything Dark Goddess–”
“I can’t drag you into Set’s clutches.”
“Goodnight then.” He stopped and smiled. “Would you like the honor?”
She turned and frowned. “Of?”
“Throwing me out. I do know how you like a show.”
“All right.” She motioned to the door. He stood and waited until she was right next to him and nodded.
“You arrogant Roman Ass, get out of my room!” She yelled as she flung open the door.
She shoved him into the hall. “You want sex, go find that Irish slut of yours,” she growled, then winked at him as she slammed the door. He stood, dusted off and ambled down the hall, oblivious to the open doors and gaping faces watching him walk off.
Nine and a Half Minutes
“Elegant dark-haired lady on a horse. Dark-haired lady by a window. Pre-Raphaelite dark-haired lady…” she listed, describing each portrait as they passed. Finally reaching the end of the formal dining room, Kat added, “Dark-haired lady in hieroglyph.”
With that last description Vachon turned to look, then realized she was joking. “Lady in cave art,” he said, joining in. Kat laughed aloud. Running her hands through her short and dirty hair, she groaned, “Yeah. I’m tired.”
Javier wrapped his arm around her shoulders and led her toward the doorway in the corner. “Our pantry awaits,” he announced, maneuvering her down the narrow hallway. Just before the throughway turned into the kitchen proper, an open door on the right revealed a small chamber.
“Comfy,” Kat commented sarcastically, referring to the freestanding sink and single bed. Staring, unimpressed at their accommodations, Vachon asked, “Kitchen?”
Leaning her head on his shoulder, she answered quickly, “That’ll work.”
Arm in arm they made their way to the back of the chalet. They entered the kitchen and stopped. Squinting against all the chrome and stainless steel surfaces, Kat tried not to be overwhelmed; A kitchen this enormous could easily service a mid-sized restaurant. They took a tentative step forward.
“Ahhhh,” she sighed loudly, disengaging herself from Vachon and heading toward the sink. She immediately began to disrobe, asking Vachon to look for dish towels. His eyebrows went up, he blinked then began to open cupboards. By the time he came upon linen table cloths, Kat had turned the water on full blast and was climbing over the edge.
It was a double-sink, big enough to hold a large pot, but not enough to hold a tall vampire. She wriggled around and ended up with her rear in one sink and her feet in the other. An alternate faucet was a shower type nozzle, suspended from the ceiling on a springy hose. She yanked on it and doused herself, spraying hot water several feet in every direction.
Vachon dropped the linens on the butcher block table and deftly maneuvered around the impromptu shower. Hanging his leather on the back of a chair, he grabbed a couple of wine glasses off the nearest dish rack. He paused, in awe of the redhead in the sink; She was unbelievable.
“You’re next, you know,” she called from beneath the spray.
“I’ll wait until we get a real bathroom, thanks,” he replied, pulling the first of many refrigerator doors in search of dinner.
“What?!” she asked loudly. Kat had lathered herself up with some dish soap and was presently scrubbing her face with a sponge. When Javier didn’t repeat himself, she looked up at him and instantly flinched.
“Damn!” she spat, fumbling for the nozzle. “I’ve got soap in my eyes…ow!” Turning her head away, one hand went out, blindly grasping for something, anything, to wipe her face with.
Vachon put the glasses down and rushed to her with a linen napkin. “Here,” he said, placing it in her outstretched hand.
Kat’s fingers closed around his and she began to smile.
A Short Stop on the Way to Morning
On the road to the chateau
Hanna’s merry little chase had led them some distance from the cemetery. The trek back to the car with a resistant Paolo had taken some time. He had insisted on remaining in the woods, certain that his “goddess” would be coming back for him. After a short struggle, they’d finally gotten him into the trunk of the Caddie, and were on their way to the chateau. The forest seemed more ominous as they sped down the winding lane, the branches reaching out to scrape the sides of the car.
Trapper leaned over the seat. “Are we close?”
“Oui,” whispered Monique. “It’s just past that stand of trees.” She strove for control, but she could feel the approach of false dawn. It made her skin feel as though she stood too close to a fire. Her teeth ached with it.
Devin looked sideways at her, startled by the uneven sound of her voice.
A sheen of sweat stood on her forehead as she stared intently at the road ahead. As he looked at her, Devin realized what the problem was. She had always been terrified of being outdoors close to sunrise. He patted her hand awkwardly and was rewarded by the tiny glimmer of a smile.
“You remember,” she murmured.
“How could I forget?” he chuckled.
Monique heard a huff of exasperation coming from just beyond Devin, and felt an uncharacteristic pang of guilt. She leaned over her former lover and touched Anna’s hand. The other woman looked at her, startled by the sudden contact.
“I have a phobie, a phobia of being caught outside at daybreak,” she explained. “Devin has always found this amusing. When we get to the chateau, remind me to tell you of the hide-and-seek in the Valley of the Kings.” She colored at the memory. “It was most embarrassing.”
Anna smiled at Monique’s attempt to be friendly. “I’d like that,” she replied, glancing at Devin to see if the exchange was making him nervous. It was.
Nick glanced into the rearview mirror. “Monique? Is there anything with the chateau? Some outbuildings, perhaps?”
Monique furrowed her brow as she thought about it. “There is a barn, and a small family cemetery on the grounds, with a crypt. Why?”
“Perfect,” Nick said, as they turned in at the drive to the chateau. “I don’t want our uninvited guest inside the main building, so I was wondering where we could leave him for the day. The crypt sounds ideal.”
Nick stopped the Caddie at the end of the driveway, where two rusty iron gates stood guard at the entrance to the burying grounds of whoever had originally owned the property. “You go on ahead. We’ll take care of Paolo.”
Devin, Anna and Monique made their way through the tall grass to the chateau. Nick watched as Remy unfolded himself from the seat and followed them.
“That’s going to be interesting,” Nick said softly.
Trapper followed his look and crooked a smile. “I’m suddenly very glad they’ve gone ahead. I don’t want to be near the explosion.”
The four friends wrestled Paolo from the trunk and into the narrow crypt. After securing him in the one vacant sarcophagus, they hopped back in the Caddie and drove around to the front of the main building.
Evie yawned. “I don’t know about you, but I could really use a nap; preferably an eight hour nap.”
“I’m with you,” Schanke said as they exited the car.
It had been a long night, not totally fruitless, but frustrating beyond belief. Now for a little peace and quiet. They hoped.
Nine and a Half Minutes, pt 2
around when the crew gets home
Besides needing to be helped out of the cramped and slippery quarters, Kat thought the whole sink experience a success. Both vampires were moderately clean and, in theory, ready to sleep under the draped banquet table in the dining room. The only thing left was dinner.
Shirtless and damp, Vachon finished tablecloth drying his long locks and dragged a chair out to sit on. Kat improvised an outfit from a chef’s apron that covered all the important parts, and almost met in the back; She was just happy to be clean. Carefully choosing a few bottles from the chateau’s vast collection, Kat set them in a row on the stainless steel counter.
“Close your eyes,” she told him, spinning around and blocking the bottles from view.
Hungry, he waited for Kat to stop playing and pour some blood. When she crossed her arms and refused to budge, Vachon sighed loudly and closed his eyes.
Kat turned, poured one vintage in a glass and approached Vachon. “I want you to tell me what this is.”
He squinted and peaked at her from beneath his heavy lashes. Kat whipped the glass around him and set it on the table out of sight.
“No cheating!” she admonished him. She quickly snatched a fancy napkin off the table, opened it and made it into a blindfold. Vachon resisted briefly then accepted his fate.
Taking the glass, Kat slowly swirled the ruby contents around, enjoying its texture and aroma. “Ready?” she asked needlessly. Javier remained silent. Kat leaned over him and held the glass beneath his nose. Sensing her nearness, Vachon quietly sniffed the air.
He opened his mouth and Kat put the edge of the glass on his lips. As one, he tipped his head slightly back and she tilted the glass toward him. The chilled blood caressed his tongue and he let the sensations of life flow through him. Bottled blood, especially mixed with wine, was less active than live blood. This vintage was pure and fresh, on a par with LaCroix’s most expensive. He knew almost instantly who had donated this glassful.
“Pouty, ignored wife of a Wall Street tycoon,” he stated matter-of-factly. “Too easy.”
As Kat pulled the glass away, he deftly found it and took it from her. Downing it in on gulp, he handed it back to her. “I’m hungry,” he smiled.
She chose a new glass and another vintage. After pouring a sample she returned to Vachon. His hair was still wet and she watched a lucky droplet as it trailed down his chest and stomach. Getting in close, Kat dipped her finger into the blood and held it under his nose.
Vachon opened his mouth and was surprised when only a single drop landed on his tongue. Artist, was his first thought. “Not enough,” he said sternly; He was getting into it now.
Kat dipped her finger again and gently traced his mouth. Vachon licked his lower lip, catching a drop before it ran down his chin. “More,” he insisted softly. She put her bloodied finger on his lips and he opened his mouth to receive it.
Pulling softly on her finger, encircling it with his tongue, Javier felt a familiar ache in his canines. He wanted more than anything to take her into his arms, but knew instinctively to keep his hands down. Kat began to moan softly and crawled into his lap. She nuzzled his chest while he sucked forcefully on her finger.
“Ahem!” Algernon cleared his throat and looked distinctly away from the two vampires.
“Miss Monique would like to apologize for the mix-up in accommodations….”
Little Boy Lost
At the Orphanage
After the children were returned
“Well, well, well, what have we here?” Tricks rubbed his chin and smiled at the small, frightened faces hovering around him.
Madeline smiled at the children, false reassurance. “Hello, children.” She looked at one small, dark-haired boy in particular. “I’m your new caretaker, since the mean people came and got your old one.” She pointed to Tricks. “This nice man will help me take care of the rest of you and tell you stories at night.”
The children looked happier. “The bad men won’t come let the scary lady eat us?” One of them asked.
“No.” Tricks smiled and put his arm around Madeleine’s waist. “We’ll keep you safe.”
“But I have a Mommy.” The dark-haired boy piped up.
“Really?” Madeline cocked an eyebrow.
“My daddy is dead, but I still have a Mommy.”
“What is your name?” Madeline asked, knowing the answer already. This child was why she was sent here. He had been taken from his home and filtered in with the terrified orphans that had survived the horror of the Cemetery.
“Well, Adam, perhaps we can help you find your Mommy.”
Operations walked into the white room with a smile. Power undreamed of was just in his grasp.
The Indian woman in the chair glared at him. “Where am I?”
“We have Adam, Elana.”
Night’s Candles Are Burnt Out
She could not see it, as she stood at the leaded glass window, staring into the inky dark beyond, but she could feel it. Daybreak. Her eyes could catch the faintest glimmer of false dawn in the distance. At sunrise, she must be gone. She wrapped Rupert’s dressing gown tighter around her as she continued her solitary vigil.
“You’ve still a little time. Come back to bed.” Rupert Giles stood behind Jenny and enveloped her in strong arms.
She leaned back against his chest and sighed. Nodding, she allowed him to lead her back to the warmth of the featherbed. “But just for a moment,” she whispered against his chest as she burrowed in next to him.
They lay for a time in the comfortable silence of love while he stroked her hair.
“Remember, Rupert, it’s only for a little while, and I’ll be of far more use on the other side.”
“I know,” Giles voice was a raspy echo of its usual timbre, “but it doesn’t make it any easier to let you go.”
“When this is over, I’ll be in Sunnydale waiting for you.”
He pulled her up and kissed her. “I’m counting on it.”
As she dressed, they went over the plans to bring Micah back. She had just finished pulling on her boots when the knock came at the door.
“I’m expecting someone,” Jenny said in answer to Giles’ puzzled expression.
She opened the door to let Buffy and Angel in.
Giles frowned. “You were expecting them?”
“Unfinished business,” Jenny said. She approached the pair and took Angel’s hand.
“I’m sorry,” he began, but she stopped him with a fingertip against his lips.
“No. You weren’t responsible. I just wanted to tell you that I forgive you. Don’t carry the guilt anymore.” She smiled. “As you can see, I’ve gotten over it just fine.” She kissed him on the cheek and hugged Buffy. “Now get out of here before the sun finishes rising. I’ll see you back in Sunnydale.”
The door shut again, and she turned to Giles with outstretched hands. “It’s time, Rupert. Give me a kiss before I go.”
They held each other for a long moment, and then, as the sun began to silver the edges of the clouds, Jenny drew away. She walked to the window and threw it open. Her arms stretched out into the morning, and she turned back to look at Giles one last time.
“I love you,” she said as the sunlight began to glitter against her skin.
As the sun continued to rise, the glitter overtook Jenny’s body, turning it to a thousand dancing motes of light that drifted out of the window and were gone.
“I love you, too.”
The Morning Fog
As they approached the front of the house, they noticed the activity. Monique’s eyes widened at the sight of several sinister looking vans parked in the circular drive. People she had never seen before bustled in and out with equipment in their arms. It looked suspiciously like a command center.
“Mon dieu,” she breathed. “What is this?”
Algernon met them at the front door, looking haggard. “I’m glad you’re back, Miss Monique. We’ve been worried.”
“Merci, Algernon,” Monique nodded as they walked in. She gestured back outside. “What is going on here?”
He shrugged. “Angelique brought them. She seems to think they can help find her brother.” As he scanned the entourage, he suddenly stopped in shock. Unthinkingly, he grabbed Monique’s arm, his eyes gone white with shock. “Madam!”
Monique turned an icy, irritated glare on him, pointedly looking at his offending hand.
He hurried to let her go. “But, but, you have that Devin person with you! And he’s still alive! What will everyone think?”
“‘Dat was my question, too, Al,” Remy drawled from where he stood on the porch, smoking a Gitane.
Monique clenched her teeth and spoke in cold, measured tones. “Everyone will think that we have a truce, Algernon. Or, perhaps, that we have ironed out our differences temporarily.” She stared at Remy. “Not that it’s anyone’s business.” Her blackest look she reserved for her servant. “I am unused to being questioned by you. Has something changed in my absence?”
“No, Miss Monique,” he stammered in reply. “It simply caught me off guard.” He looked nervously around. “Shall I prepare rooms for everyone?”
“Oui,” she replied shortly, as Nick, Trapper, Evie and Schanke trailed in. “We will all need refreshment, as well. Did Kat and Vachon arrive safely?”
Algernon gulped. He’d been dreading the question. “Well, yes.”
“And they have been accommodated?”
“Well, Mistress, Larry put them next to the kitchen. Their clothes were in quite a state, and…” his voice trailed off as he realized the condition of all of them. Only the Cajun appeared to have come through unscathed.
“WHAT?!” she shrieked. “You will move them immediately into better quarters upstairs!” She strode toward the main staircase. Halfway up, she paused and turned back. “The Cajun is not to be allowed in. He may find his quarters in the garage. There is a crazed vampire locked in the crypt that I want a guard posted on for the day.” She took a breath to calm herself. “And you will send Larry to my room. Do you understand all of this?”
Algernon mutely nodded, grateful that he wasn’t in Larry’s shoes.
Nick and Trapper walked out of the shower in a cloud of steam. A carafe of lattes and a bottle of “Bessie” stood on the nightstand.
“Mmm,” Trapper murmured around her latte as she fell into the featherbed on the four-poster bed. “Just what I needed.”
“I’ll second that,” Nick said as he poured himself a glass and lay down next to her. “A perfect end to a harrowing night.”
Trapper raised her eyebrows. “Perfect?”
Nick nodded. “We’re still alive. We’re together.”
“Perfect,” Trapper agreed as their glasses slipped to the floor and they slipped beneath the covers for a hard-earned day’s rest in the comfort of each other’s arms.
by Devin Saceur
He’d listened to the exchange between Algernon, Monique, and Remy with little surprise. What could he say? “From the bottom to the top of the list in short order, old boy…’tis amazing how no degree of peripheral turmoil can sway the desire for blood-letting.”
Anna heard his mumblings clearly and sent a sharp punch to his shoulder. “If I were you, Saceur, I’d sip a cup of Earl Grey…make simple, polite conversation with the host…and go swiftly to my rest like a good boy. Remember where you are.”
“How could I forget. This place has been conjured from the very peak of my years with our good host. Almost a tribute, I would imagine…were I any more inclined to arrogance.” A faint grin slid across his lips as he continued toward the porch, where Remy could be seen tugging away absently on a smoke, his back turned.
Anna shook her head. “There are none more inclined than you, my love. So just get over your simple self before you get into trouble.”
“Of course, I shall be…polite.” He thought briefly of the gravity of this situation. With Monique, his once dear friend and comrade-turned pursuer on one side of the equation…and Remy, the pandering hyena waiting diligently for some scrap to fall from the table. Indeed, Devin could display little more than cordiality, lest he bring his own downfall around his shoulders.
As it happened, he opted for his best behavior.
“REMYYYY!” A sharp slap upon the back sent the vampire into an immediate battle stance…his hand tight upon some hidden blade within his overcoat. But Devin stood calmly before the man, his arms outstretched in a show of benevolence. “Please calm yourself, m’lord. I only wished the pleasure of a smoke with you.”
Slowly bringing himself down from that height of primal tension that had threatened to send him into frenzy, Remy laughed faintly through his fangs as they retracted. “Sure. Whatever. You need one?”
Devin rummaged around for a few moments before withdrawing a gold-trimmed case. “Ahh. No, I seem to still carry this, though I rarely indulge these days.” His eyes settled upon Remy as he slid one from the case and struck a match. “We smoke the same brand, old fellow.”
“How many are there to choose from…barring American shit?”
Anna stood across the porch, nearly merged with the shadows of the early morning, as Devin swayed casually in the breeze before Remy. The two appeared as malevolent hunters to her eyes, silently challenging one another over the right to roam a derelict, useless spread of earth. Even Devin, who had come so far and learned so much since his exit from the Black Hand, seemed besieged by some desperate animalism…barely restrained behind a civilized facade.
“Yes sir. It is little more than a decision of what degree of yellow we wish for our teeth, is it not?”
Remy’s eyes flickered a pale tint of red momentarily as he closed to within a few inches of Devin’s face and exhaled a great volume of smoke. “Is there a point to dis conversation?”
“None whatsoever, bon ami.” Flicking the half-burned cigarette into a wide arc away from the porch, just past Remy’s face, Devin turned to walk into the chalet just as Monique stepped outside and quickly looked over the two men.
Measuring the intensity in the air took little time. “Gentlemen, this is my residence. You will, at the very least, act civilized while you are here.”
Remy casually tossed his smoke aside. “Perhaps you should stress dat to your man there.”
Choosing to ignore the childish air consuming her porch, Monique smiled and reached out to Anna, who stood quietly by the door. “Come inside, dear. The maturity level is a bit higher.”
Devin made an exaggerated gesture as a semi-sincere frown brought him down to earth suddenly. “W-What did I do? I was simply enjoying the breeze.”
As he practically knelt for forgiveness, he heard Monique call out over her shoulder: “You can enjoy all the breeze you like…and you can share the garage with the Cajun.”
The enraged reply came in unison. “WHAT?!” But the collective howl fell on deaf ears as Monique slammed the door in their faces.
Remy jerked out another cigarette quickly, tapping his foot absently in part annoyance, part concern. Across the porch, Devin crossed his arms and tried to appear as carefree as possible.
“What I don’t understand…” Remy began, lighting his smoke with a jet engine-like butane instrument, “is how SHE has managed to look like a saint in dis whole thing. Wasn’t she first to come after your pathetic hide?”
“Classic female trick. We’ll just call it ‘Comparative Absolution’.”
“Compara-what? Make sense, Saceur!”
“Compared to us, she’s made amends – however temporarily – for her previous actions. Me, I’ve made an ass of myself this evening. You…well, you’re just an ass at heart.”
“This is gonna be a long day.”
Devin looked to the garage where they were to make their haven for the day. “You know, friend…I have a long-standing habit of waking roughly an hour before dusk.”
From behind a thick cloud, Remy grinned anxiously. “Great.”
“So how much do you weigh, anyway?”
Black Celebration (A Flashback)
1570 in Prague
Let’s have a black celebration
To celebrate the fact
That we’ve seen the back
Of another black day
The screams echoed through the grand house. She was lost, drifting away on her thoughts. The poisonous tang of Garlic lacing her lips and tongue. Holy water burns on her arms, throat and torso. She tried to stay away from the constant drip of the garlic-laced holy water from the ceiling above, but that was nearly impossible.
“Eyes wide open, and yet forever shut,” a voice cackled to her. Her mind grasped at the sounds but was too weary to comprehend.
“I have a gift for you, Marie. Or it is Mael Muire isn’t it?” the alchemist whispered into her ear from behind. Her chilled skin,
goosepimpled, not from the ice in his voice, but her fear.
I look to you
How you carry on
When all hope is gone
Can’t you see?
Your optimistic eyes
Seem like paradise
To someone like
Her brain took in Witter’s words and she found her voice. “I haven’t gone by that name since I was mortal. What could you possibly have that I would want?”
“A trinket from your past,” Witter walked in front of her. His nearly black eyes sparkled with mischief. He held a small golden gimmal ring in front of her.
Locked in the cage made of crosses, Màire stared at the ring blankly. Who had given her the ring? Ciarán? LaCroix? Some other lover from within the past century or so, she just could not remember.
Actually this ring had not meant that much to her. Her personal jewelry was somewhere at home. The silver knotted ring from Steaphan, the Pictish wedding band from Ciarán, her aunt’s faerie knot pendant, her father’s penandular and cross, a pair of glittering earrings made from Indian gold and pearls from LaCroix. A millennia’s worth of memories stored in a small silver box. She turned away from Witter.
Witter stared at the bottled blood at her side. “Not hungry?” he asked.
“Not if it’s as tainted as the others.”
Witter stared at her, anger lacing his features and kneeled down now to her level. “Shall I give August what she wants.”
Màire laughed. It was a sharp, crackling sound. “Why not. It will lessen my pain. Shall I kneel, Henry? It will make it so much easier for you” She got on her knees and leaned forward, her matted head nearly touching the bars of her prison.
“Why couldn’t you just do as I asked?” Witter asked. His hands stretching through the bars, for a moment he touched the flame-colored tresses. “Do you remember how well I treated you, monster that you are.”
I want to take you
In my arms
Forgetting all I couldn’t do today
“To ask me to bring the ancients of my kind here, for you to use for the blood and as your tests. Does August do that for you?” she asked, horrified, knowing that August would. “What does she get in return?”
Witter watched her carefully. He had felt her stretching her powers over him many times. It seemed so futile, when the stone offered unlimited power, without the restraints of a vampire’s false immortality.
He reached for the cord that would release the barrage of holy water on her shoulders and neck. Her eyes sparkled, like sapphires and he sighed. “Don’t make me do this.” He felt her power seep away from him.
“Because,” began the shrill voice from the corner. August joined Witter and smiled her cruel smile. “I want true immortality as Henry does. To be Immortal as the Gods and Goddesses,” she answered. “The Philosopher’s Stone offers that. All I need is our kind’s precious blood and bodies. I offer him your kind and mine that displease me.” August laughed, and tugged at a long rope. “A dark-haired vampire came into the door and collapsed at her feet.
“Siona,” whispered Màire.
Siona looked up at the sound of her master’s voice. Her richly hued eyes were gone, leaving nothing now but cavernous holes. “Màire?” she whispered.
Màire reached through the crosses, her arms now burning, for Siona. Their wails echoed through the small room.
“Ah…ah…ah,” August pushed away Màire’s arms. She stroked Siona’s hair. Siona stiffened. “This is your punishment for trying to bring in the Enforcers.” She dragged Siona into another cage under a large cauldron holding the garlic and holy water mixture. August walked away from Siona and nodded to Witter. He was about to pull on the cord.
“No, what do you want?” Màire begged from her crouched position.
August laughed. “There’s not much else for you to give, little one,” her voice grated on Màire’s ears, “other than your head. However, we will spare your child’s life if you tell us where Ciarán is. He will lead me to Angelique.”
To Celebrate the fact
That we’ve seen the back
Of another black day
Màire paused. “I don’t know where Ciarán is…” she paused again. “I don’t know,” she cried. “I haven’t seen him in over fifty years.”
Witter pulled her to her feet, through the bars of the cage. Rage coloring his features. “How else would you know the Enforcers?” He asked. “Why did you want to betray me? I gave you so much!” He turned and pulled on both cords, sending the barrage of holy water and garlic onto Màire and Siona.
Siona’s skin bubbled. Flesh melting with her clothes. Her screams drowned in the burning flesh. She was only a century old. She would not be able to take much more of this. Màire’s resistance was better, but that did not stop the burns from welting into painful blisters. Finally, her strength wobbled and she screamed, hearing only Siona’s burbles.
I look to you
And your strong belief
Me, I want relief
I want so much
Want to feel your touch
Take me in your arms
Forgetting all you couldn’t do today
I’ll drink to that
Màire woke up, screaming for Siona.
The keening wails woke up Methos. He wrapped her up in his arms and began to rock her back and forth. The sobs subsided and she grew quiet and looked up at him.
“Nightmare?” he asked, wiping away the stray red tears.
He stroked her hair. “Tell me.”
She shook her head.
“Who is Siona?”
Màire sighed softly. “My child. August killed her.” She briefly told him how she and Witter had met and how she had been captured, drugged and nearly died from his and August’s attentions.
“What happened in the end?” Methos asked her.
Màire slid in closer to him, her head resting on his chest. “Nick, LaCroix and Ciarán found me. I had been singing for Siona and LaCroix sensed me. They killed and burned Witter and his house. August escaped.”
Methos stroked her hair and gently kissed her forehead.
“Please hold me,” she whispered.
Methos did not answer her, just pulled her in closer. Exhausted, she fell back asleep. The demons from the dreams disappeared for the moment.
A Day in the Place of Rejoicing
the “other side”
Light streamed in through the high, slitted windows of the Temple of Isis. It flowed like liquid metal, gilding the brazier stands on its journey. The Great Isis watched from Her throne, a small smile of amusement gracing Her sculptured face.
“What have You brought Me now, Father Ra?” She murmured.
The sparkling rays of light began to move together, as if in answer to Her question. Twisting and twining upon themselves, they finally merged to pool at Her feet in a glowing column. A bit breathless, Jenny Calendar stepped out.
“Ah, Jana,” Isis glided down from Her throne and took Jenny’s hands. “You have returned to Us.” She looked into Jenny’s dark eyes. “But not to stay,” she continued. She looked past the young woman to some point in the darkness of the temple. “This is about My Brother Set, is it not?”
Jenny nodded as the Goddess let go of her hands. “Yes. I thought I could be of more use on this side of life right now.”
“A wise notion, child. I know that Set troubles the children of My heart.” She stepped away and raised a hand. “I realized that My Sisters could help in this, so I’ve asked Them to join Us.”
Two figures approached from the nether reaches of the temple. Veils of incense smoke gave way as Sekhmet and Bast stepped into the light.
“Sister,” They said together in their musical voices.
“And you are the Jana mortal,” Sekhmet said, inclining her head slightly and gazing upon her with velvet lion eyes. “You have the ka of a warrior, little one.”
“We have come up with a plan,” Bast said, jingling Her earrings as She flicked Her cat ears. “it should trick Our Brother and cause Him no end of annoyance.” Mirth was plain in Her voice as She grinned, showing Her fangs.
“It involves the Lalor mortal,” Sekhmet began.
“Certainly expendable,” Jenny murmured.
“Indeed,” agreed the lion-headed Goddess. “But, a ka as weak as his would not tempt Our Brother.”
“So,” Bast said, picking up the thread, “We have come up with something that will.” She gestured, and a slender, golden warrior in a white kilt appeared. “This is Our child’s pet, Lucius.”
“Ah,” Jenny smiled, beginning to figure out the game.
Sekhmet ruffled the young man’s yellow and black hair. “He wishes to help his mistress, so he has agreed to Our little game.”
Isis clapped Her hands. “Well thought, My Sisters. Come, let us spend the day in Our planning, with some refreshment as We greet the dawn.”
She held a shimmering hand out to Jenny and the group of Goddesses and mortals walked through the temple and out into the garden.
~~Spend all your time waiting, for that second chance, for a break that would make it okay
There’s always some reason, to feel not good enough, and it’s hard at the end of the day~~
After LaCroix left Angelique stood by the window again, lost in the silver reflection of the moon. Centuries were rising up to haunt her, and she let it come.
~~I need some distraction
Oh beautiful release
Memories seep through my veins
And maybe empty and weightless
And maybe I’ll find some peace tonight~~
She fell into her memories, reliving the first time she met the mortal Lucius, the first time they have been together. The terror of Vesuvius, the betrayal of her blood sister.
~~You are brought from the wreckage of your silent reverie
In the arms of the angels, may you find some comfort here~~
“Excuse me,” Larry’s voice sounded from the other side of the door. “The rest of the group is here.”
“Thank you Larry, ask Michael to meet me here.” Then she turned back inward.
~~In the arms of the Angels, fly away from here
From this dark, cold hotel room
And the endlessness that you fear~~
For a century she had been locked into a tomb, unable to leave unable to feed, hunger had been an agony, nearly driving her mad. Then Micah had found her, released her and let her feed off him. It had been a repeat of his first feeding, except her brother had revived faster than the first time she had fallen on him, ravenous for blood. He had been her companion through out the Middle East, letting her be his sister, protecting her from the Sheiks and small rulers of the forming Muslim states that had wanted her for their harems.
Michael stood in the doorway. “Yes?” Asked as he entered, taking in the room and the half full glass of bloodwine in her hand.
“I want you to oversee the comm center assembly. Tonight at Ten p.m. we have our first briefing. ALL the people that are in the chateau will be attending.”
“Yes.” He nodded, then paused. “Do we have a mission profile?”
“Not yet, we need to train my people. I will work on the profile while training is being done.”
“Very well.” Michael turned to leave. The door clicked softly behind him and she finished off her glass of bloodwine.
~~So tired of the straight life, that everywhere you turn there’s vultures and thieves at your back
The stone keeps on twisting, keep on building the lies, that you make up for all that you lack~~
Forty years after Vesuvius, She and LaCroix met again, along the banks of the Nile, spending their nights hunting and reveling in their vampire natures. Her brother had been battling his own, gathering strength with each quickening. Micah had tolerated LaCroix, until LaCroix had taken on of the women Micah had been seeing. He had not loved the mortal, but had been frightened by the demonstration of LaCroix’s growing powers.
They had ended up in India after a few centuries of living the gypsy life, and she had become a part of her brother’s Houri, safe from the daylight, and desires of all the surrounding Marharishi’s. She had taught his courtesans well, and had her pick of men for company.
Then LaCroix had turned up in India. She had welcomed him into her bed, spending day and night with him, all under the not so happy eyes of her brother. LaCroix had brought his new childe with, a dark temptress named Jeanette, and she had set her sights on Micah. Micah had understood what she was and welcomed her to his bed. Then the Muslims had begun to invade India, and they had finally left as the Crusades had been started in Europe and the Middle East.
LaCroix had gone to Paris, and Micah had gone to fight on the side of Egypt. Angelique had retreated to the Indian Jungles, and found company in the ruins of the great Temples and palaces of the Raja’s she had outlived.
Micah had found her there and stayed with her after the defeat of Jerusalem, taking comfort in the local women and gathering strength.
~~Don’t make no difference
Escape one last time~~
She lay on the rich comforter, trying to sleep, to escape the image of her brother, the pain and fear she could feel from him hovering in the back of her head.
~~It’s easier to believe in this sweet madness
This glorious sadness, that brings me to my knees~~
She closed her eyes, dawn had come and the faint heat on the other side of the blackout curtain seeped through and caressed her. If she wanted she could take that faint warmth and see her beloved Egypt, in the golden light of day. It shimmered like beaten gold, her home, the white walls reflecting the sun to the sand and magnifying the delicious heat of day. For centuries, she had seen nothing but cold silver moonlight reflect of the sands, reminding her of what she had turned her back on. Light, warmth and the chance to find love.
~~You are pulled from the wreckage of your silent reverie
In the arms of the angels, may you find some comfort here~~
She drifted off, sleeping for a few short hours before waking up screaming. She huddled in the big bed, bloodsweat dripping from her brow and curled into herself. Micah’s eyes had been her eyes, she had seen what had been done, not just the pain from Horton’s abuse, but the pure evil that Divia had been inflicting on her brother.
He wasn’t going to last much longer, and she had to get him out. Before they both lost their sanity.
~~In the arms of the Angels, fly away from here
From this dark, cold hotel room
And the endlessness that you fear~~
Dangerous Liaisons (NC-17)
By Maccousin and Sukh
Before ‘Rude Awakening’
Màire closed the door behind herself, with a heeled shoe. She backed away, leaned against the door and gave Methos a smile.
That moment she reminded him of a very pleased, impish leprechaun, with several millennia of tricks up her sleeve.
“Why exactly are you doing this?” he traced the line of her cheekbone with a fingertip.
“Because, I…” she paused and continued with the petulance of a child, “it’s fun!”
“Annoying an ancient vampire is fun?”
“Extremely,” she said. “The danger involved makes it all the more worthwhile.” She slid out of her shoes. “You should try it sometime. It’s quite the rush.” She brushed her lips against his.
“As I said before,” Methos murmured into the kiss. “I like my neck where it is.”
She nibbled his lower lip, playfully. “Sounds like someone is so worried about the future, he’ll never have fun in the present.”
“Danger and fun shouldn’t have to be synonymous,” Methos replied. He pulled away momentarily. “I don’t think you should carry this out. I’d hate to see you disappear as quickly as you appeared in town.” He ran his fingers through the now-dry curls.
Màire smiled, leaning into the caress. “Don’t worry,” she said. “It would take a lot for anyone to get rid of me. Fifteen hundred years has taught me where to draw the line.” She slid her fingers up under his sweater, her fingers brushing over the pulsing of his blood beneath his skin as she caressed his broad chest. The heat of him throbbed under her hand, she could almost taste the rich experience in his ancient blood. One gentle tug and she pulled his pulled up his sweater and tossed it to the side.
He nuzzled her neck, getting another whiff of tomato juice. He slid one hand down her back; his hand searching for her smooth bare flesh as he explored her throat with his mouth. He found the zipper and put one large hand over it, running his fingers along the edge of the on the back of her dress.
Her fingers ran down his back, the warm skin of his spine heating with his arousal.
She felt air hit her back as the zipper slid open. The black dress fell to the floor and she stepped out of it and kicked it to one side.
Methos smiled at her as she stood before him, in nothing but Victoria’s Secrets best silk panty set. He reached out, one finger tracing the edge of the black material that covered the rise of her breasts; then through the shadow of the valley of her chest and on up her neck to her chin.
Methos wrapped his arms around her, pulling her to him in a gentle motion. She met his lips, parting his lips and slipping her tongue
inside to stroke the heat of his mouth. The kiss became harder, deeper, as the heat burned higher, and soon they had to break for air.
Màire’s eyes now reflected gold, matching the thin strands of gold lace interwoven in her panties and bra.
A soft hiss passed through Màire’s lips as Methos dropped to his knees and pressed a series of burning kisses down to her navel, his big hands around her slender hips, pressing her closer to his questing mouth. She leaned back, her hands tangling in his short, dark hair, her knees quivering at the moist press of his lips and tongue across her cool skin. A small giggle escaped her lips as he hit a certain spot near her navel.
“Ticklish, are we?” Methos looked up at her, eyes twinkling with amusement and rubbed his thumb around the edge of her belly button, and she giggled again and shivered.
The door banged open. The two lovers froze; Methos turned his head, resting the crown on her belly as he glared when an all-too-familiar voice assaulted their ears.
“Hey have you two seen Trapper?” Steve Lalor stumbled into the room, leering again at Màire. Methos got to his feet, looking none too pleased at the interruption.
Màire snarled. She began to head toward the table, that had several beer bottles on it.
“Oh that’s it,” Methos grabbed his sword and began pushing out Steve, who moved back slowly like a tortoise.
“Hey if I can’t find Trapper, can I at least sleep on the floor, man? I’ve spent all night trying to find my way out of the basement.” Seeing only resentment in the sword wielding, Immortal’s eyes, he turned to what he hoped to be a kind and gentle face.
A pair of golden eyes locked with his. Màire then threw an empty Guinness bottle directly at Steve, Missing him by inches.
“I believe that’s our answer,” replied Methos.
Another bottle whizzed by Steve’s head, grazing him.
“Owww, what kind of crazy, freaked out chick are you?” he whined to Màire. Steve took off running for the door.
Methos locked it behind Steve. “Remind me never to cross you on a bad night,” he said.
Màire looked at the glass covered floor and took a careful step forward.
“Don’t move closer, you don’t have any shoes on remember.” Methos picked her and carried her over to the bed. “I hope that didn’t kill the mood,” he whispered into her ear. “I’d love to find all those ticklish spots.”
“Didn’t kill a thing,” she murmured as she curled into his warmth and ran the tip of her tongue across his collarbone. Màire nipped his shoulder, greedily licking the tiny trails of blood that slid down his chest, catching sensations of five millennia’s worth of memories. It was a heady experience; she became lost in his thoughts and desires.
Methos sighed as her cold tongue traced its way to his ear. He felt her pause momentarily, warming fingers trailing down his back. Her eyes closed, as he slid a finger under a bra strap.
Màire tensed, a funny smirk settled on her face.
“Ticklish here too, hmm?” Methos murmured, sliding the strap off her shoulder. He continued his path downward, lips traversing her shoulder, he continued down her stomach.
Màire hissed again, twitching slightly but still arching into his kiss, nerves quivering at the movement of his mouth at the edge of her lace edged panties. He edged back up as her fingers stretched for his belt.
“Oh no, you don’t,” he pinned her arms above her head. “Not until I’m ready.” Methos silenced her protest with another deep kiss. He tossed her bra to the left side of the room, his hands crossed over her rosy hued nipples. He lowered his head to tease the nipples with his tongue.
Her cold arms clamped around his neck, her eyes swirled in bright amber, the color of a well-aged scotch, as she could feel warm, wet caresses on her exposed flesh. Hands slid under her ribcage, lifting her to meet him. A slight growl passed her lips as Methos ran his thumbs around her nipples, teasing her again.
Methos closed his eyes for a moment, lost in the sensations until sudden movement rolled him onto his back. His own eyes opened for a moment and he found himself staring into Màire’s eyes. She smiled, inwardly enjoying the surprise. Màire leaned forward, kissing the delicate skin behind his left ear, the feverish pulse pounded through her senses. Warm fingers trailed up her thighs. It had been ages since she had felt that kind of warmth…
Màire paused and tore her mind away from those thoughts leering in the background. The raging, pulsating fire beneath his skin brought her back, she ignored her hunger, for the moment, sliding down his stomach, her long hair brushing against him. She gently stroked him through the cloth of his pants. Methos stared back at her, eyelids lowered. Màire unzipped him, and stroked him again, loving the look of pleasure cross his face.
He couldn’t take it anymore. Methos rolled her back over. She arched an eyebrow, pleasantly surprised as he nearly ripped off her panties. Methos inhaled sharply as he pressed into her, at the same time pulling her up into a sitting position. Màire moaned, wrapping her legs around him and pressing herself to him, losing herself in the intense friction, her nails digging into his back. She felt pressure began to build and then he slowed down, teasing her again. She nipped at his neck, lapping at the sweet trails of blood again. Màire tightened herself around him. Methos moaned as she contracted herself around him. He leaned into her shoulder as the pressure built up again.
As he climaxed, he felt a sharp pain in his shoulder that lasted a mere millisecond. The pain was replaced by intense pleasure and
then…everything. The smell of the sacred grove, the cold feel of the ancient stones, then the images and sensations sped up at rates and he could longer able to comprehend them. He felt Màire arch over him as she climaxed.
A few seconds later Màire leaned against his shoulder, watching in amazement as his body began to heal. Methos lowered them back into bed.
Màire smiled up at him for a moment. “Thank you,” she whispered.
“Shouldn’t I thank you?” he twirled a thick red curl in his index finger for a moment. Methos smiled back.
Màire looked at him wistfully. “I already told you LaCroix sleeps with me to exact revenge. Ciarán,” she sighed. “He sleeps with me because of the memories and probably to get even on some level with LaCroix. You slept with me because you wanted to.” She kissed him and a fearful look crossed her face.
“Am I a one night conquest?” Màire asked softly. “She had found no traces of anything like that in the blood, but she was still afraid.
“Do you want to be one?” Methos asked in return.
She smiled. “I think you know the answer to that.”
“I’ll be here tomorrow night when you wake up and as long as you’ll let me stay here,” he replied.
She curled into him again and smiled. “I must say I’m quite jealous of Dru though. Although, she didn’t have much time to enjoy you I’m sure. Blood is one thing that truly improves with age.”
They kissed again and within ten minutes were both snoring.
Around 6:00 am
Trapper stretched in the midst of sleep. Nick turned away from the windows, nuzzling into her hair. There was nothing to disturb them in this little oasis. Or so they thought…
They didn’t hear the door open. They didn’t hear the clunking of footsteps or the hovering, but the next thing sent them reeling out of
their dream world.
There was a huge whomp. The bed caved in toward the center. Then they heard that voice.
“TRAPPER!!!!!” Steve was relieved he had found her. The last couple he had interrupted were not amused. In fact they chased him out, one wielding a sword, the woman flinging beer bottles at Steve over her head.
Trapper, exasperated got up and threw Lalor bodily from the bed.
“What the hell are you doing here?” Trapper was not happy unless she had her coffee. Nick watched the action and could not help smiling at the way Lalor cowered in the corner.
“Babe, what’s the problem?” Steve grinned at Trapper in a way he hoped would be disarming. “I don’t have a room and there’s plenty of breathing space here.”
Trapper’s eyes grew red. “You could be on one side of the planet and there still wouldn’t be breathing space!”
Nick grabbed Steve before he could respond, and tossed him out the open door.
Suddenly there was pounding against the door and walls and the loud wails of ‘Trapper! Let me in! Trapper! Let me iiiiiiinnnnn!’
The person in the neighboring room let out a frustrated yell of his own and rushed out into the hallway.
Gilchrist had been resting peacefully when he heard Lalor’s whines. He ran out into the hallway, grabbed Lalor by the throat and said in a low, angry voice, ‘Old man, if ye dinna shut yer trap, I will pound your skull in.” He was not a morning person either.
Nick and Trapper opened the door and saw Steve being thrown down the hallway by a grumpy Scotsman. Steve landed and nearly saved himself from falling down the staircase (nearly being the keyword here). He mistakenly took a clumsy step backward and started a long, noisy trip down the stairs.
“Oooowww! Whatchya do that for?” Steve called out his misery for all to hear.
“Stupid, never has been, vampire, wannabe hippie,” grumbled Gilchrist under his breath. He stomped back into his room and shut the door.
Trapper collapsed back in bed, as Nick locked the door. Both of them hoping Steve would get lost in Monique’s Chateau once again.
Rude Awakening, Take 2
Evie had staggered out of the bathroom and fallen face first into the overstuffed bed. It had been a delicious sink into oblivion from the moment her head hit the pillow. Across the room, Schanke snored peacefully from the depths of a similar bed.
Now, as the sun began its slow ascent into morning, her sleep was bothered by a sudden “whomp”. She frowned, trying not to let it wake her up. ‘Earthquake?’ she thought. When there were no further tremors, she allowed herself to go sliding back toward dreamland.
That one deliriously shouted word was enough to splash the cold water of wakefulness all over Evie. She sat upright, her eyes still closed in protest, and listened. She could hear Trapper’s voice snarling in reply. She smiled and fell back over. It was being handled.
The door slammed shut. She could hear Lalor’s loud whines, followed by an angry Scottish voice from yet another room. She pulled the covers up over her head. The crashes and thumps that followed Gilchrist’s tirade were enough to cause Evie to crawl out of bed and open the door a crack.
The sight of the overweight musician flying through the air and careening down the stairs assaulted her eyes. She winced at the sound of the bumps and closed the door again.
She began to drift back to sleep. A loud, insistent knock at the door stopped that process in its tracks. Evie squeezed her eyes shut.
“EVVVVIIIEEEEE!! Let me in! I need a place to crash for the day!”
“That’s it!” she growled as she threw the covers back again. Her eyes felt like she’d been caught in a sandstorm, her brain suffered from sleep deprivation and lack of caffeine. She spied Schanke’s 44 Magnum on the small table by his bed and snatched it up.
Flinging the door open, Evie grabbed Steve’s collar with one hand and shoved the gun into his face with the other.
“Look, Lalor. I’ve had just about enough of you. It’s been a long night, and I get really cranky when I don’t get my sleep. If you don’t shut up and get out of here, I’m going to stick this gun up your nose and blow your sinuses back to Seattle. Kapish?”
“Good. Now, beat it!” She flung the hippie vampire away from her and slammed the door. As she pulled the covers back up, she could hear Lalor taking another long fall down the stairs. She smiled and was off to dreamland.
Now, Where Were We?
Nick crawled back under the sheets and wrapped an arm around Trapper. “I’ve locked the door this time,” he whispered tenderly into the pillow covering her head.
“Mmph,” she mumbled, pulling the pillow tighter.
“He’s really gone this time.”
She peeked out from under her shelter. “Are you sure?”
Nick nodded as he cocked an ear to listen to the silence.
Trapper smiled. “Ah, blessed silence.”
“Has he always been this obnoxious?” Nick asked with a grin.
Trapper rolled her eyes. “He only seems to have gotten worse since he was brought across.” She rested her head on her arm. “I can only hope that someone puts him out of our misery.”
“My opinion is that we find something more pleasant to occupy ourselves with.” Nick snuggled closer.
Trapper’s eyes widened and turned to gold as he pressed up against her. “I see what you mean.”
As Nick sank his fangs into her throat she murmured, “Mmm. Better than coffee.”
She bit him in return, and they both vanished beneath the covers.
Two pair of black silk pajamas had been laid out on the enormous feather bed, finally convincing Vachon to surrender his leather. Algernon, infinitely more diplomatic than his counterpart, had no reaction to the armload of odiferous laundry handed him. He merely nodded and said, “These will be ready for you by dusk, as well as, new clothing if you desire.”
“Merci, Algernon,” Kat replied, crawling onto and sinking into the down mattress. She could feel the sun rising and was in a hurry to sleep. “A bien tot,” she added before closing her eyes.
Vachon shut the door behind the manservant, locked it and made his way wearily to the bed. Stretched out, arms behind his head, Javier let the coming day sap any remaining energy from his undead body. He pushed all images of Lux, Tracy and Hanna from his mind; it was the only way he’d be able to get any rest today.
Just as he crossed over into unconsciousness, a low rumbling could be heard from outside. It grew steadily louder, rattling the shuttered and draped windows of the sleeping vampires’ room. Roaring once before stopping, it left a palpable silence in its wake.
Both Kat and Vachon, on autopilot, said aloud, “Harley.”
Someone had arrived.
Steve picked himself off the floor and dusted his tweed vest. His “I Flash Daily” button had gotten lost during his flights down the stairs. He shrugged, knowing that he had a box of them back in his room. He knuckled his eyes and yawned. ‘Boy,’ he thought, ‘being a vampire takes a lot out of you. I’m exhausted.’ Steve smelled Algernon before he saw him. ‘And, I’m hungry!’ he thought.
Before he could try putting the bite on Monique’s valet, Algernon grabbed him by the collar, sensing what was going on. He hadn’t lived with the mistress for as long as he had without learning a few things.
“If you’ll permit me, sir,” he said smoothly. “I think you’ll find that the drawing room will be quite unoccupied for the day.” He propelled Steve in through the sliding doors. “There’s a sidebar with refreshments that should be to your liking. Good day.” Algernon pulled the doors together and locked Steve in. There’d be no more trouble to disturb the mistress and her other guests.
Steve looked around the room until he found the bottles of “Mindy” and “Amanda”. Tucking one underneath his arm, he uncorked the other and took a long pull on his way to the chaise lounge.
“Much better,” he said to the empty room, and let a satisfied belch echo around the perimeter. “I could get to like this.” Something caught his eye as he put the bottles next to the couch. “Mary?” he said with suppressed excitement. “Is that you?”
He waddled rapidly over to a guitar stand and found that, yes indeed, it was his beloved guitar. All thoughts of sleep banished now, he lovingly tuned the old Martin and began to play a plaintive love song.
Best Western Hotel
Lux lay, tossing and turning on the sweat-soaked sheets. When he’d shown up with his white hair, mumbling incoherently, Spike, Dru and Tracy had wisely given him a wide berth. He’d decided that he didn’t need them anyway. He’d be given the great plan and then he’d show everyone.
Which was how he’d ended up at this hotel on the edge of town, trapped in his own skull.
“Hey, baby,” the warm voice purred in his ear.
The hairs on the back of his neck stirred. He felt a tingle down his spine at the touch of an ice-cold hand. Lux rolled over, his eyes still shut.
“Mmm. Better,” the voice murmured as a wet mouth nuzzled his throat.
Questing hands explored under the sheets, bringing a sudden gasp from Lux as they found what they were searching for. His eyes flew open.
“Remember me?” the red-headed vampire grinned.
“Sister Kat?” Lux spoke with a sleep-rusted voice. He couldn’t believe his eyes. He blinked once, twice, but the vision stayed the same. Sister Kat was plastered to his chest like a wet T-shirt, fondling his willing cock and pressing her lips to his neck. He gulped as he felt his heart beating against her lips.
“What? How did you know where to find me?”
“I know everything,” Kat breathed. “Now, shut up. You talk too much.”
“Wait just a fucking minute!” Lux snarled, and reached up to grab her. At least he tried to.
He couldn’t move, and as he looked from side to side he realized why.
Wrists and ankles were artfully bound to the four corners of the bed, in such a way that the slightest movement served only to tighten them. He gasped with what little breath was left in his stretched torso.
“Now to work,” Kat smiled, her fangs gleaming in the dim light seeping in through the curtains.
She hummed as she slowly dragged her long, red nails down his chest. The deep scratches welled up with blood immediately. Lux was too shocked to even scream. When she reached his stomach, she looked up from beneath her hair, grinning maniacally. Without a word, she plunged her hand into him. Lux shrieked and bowed his back as she dug out a handful of intestines. Licking her fingers, she wriggled up his tattered body to plant a bloody, coppery kiss on his lips.
“Save your strength,” she said. “This is only the appetizer. We haven’t even gotten to the main course.” She stood up and began draping bloody body parts around the bed. Flexing her dripping claws, Kat reached for his cock.
He came to with a scream of pure terror. Sitting up, he looked wildly around the room. Twilight was beginning to seep in around the corners of the draperies. Puzzled, he checked himself out.
His chest was smooth and unbroken. The sheets were damp with sweat, but there was no sign of blood. He fell back onto the bed, shivering with relief.
‘It must be a sign,’ he thought to himself. He levered himself off the bed and scooped his clothes off the floor. He headed off to the shower, humming to himself. Everything was going to be all right. All he had to do was find Sister Kat, and kill her.
Like a Virgin…
6:45 am am
“My isn’t this cozy.” Natalie looked at the huge brocade covered bed and smiled. “I am so tired, I could sleep for a week.”
Deif was sniffing around the room as Benton checked the doors and closet. ‘This looks secure.” He smiled at Natalie and went over to her. He gave her a hug and a brief kiss on the forehead. “I’ll go now.”
“Go where?” Nat hugged him harder, refusing to let him go. “This room is for both of us.”
“Well, then,” he looked nervous, then smiled. “I’ll sleep on the divan over there.” He extracted himself from her arms and moved a few steps away.
“Why?” Nat motioned to the bed. “It’s big enough for two.”
Nat, really, I’d prefer to sleep over there.”
Nat’s hopeful look crumbled. “It’s me isn’t it?”
“No.” Benton went to her, taking her in his arms and setting her in his lap as he sat on the edge of the bed. He touched her face, brushing her curls out of her face. “It’s just that I was raised to a gentleman.”
Nat leaned into his hand. “It’s just that Nick would never…well…you know…” She trailed off as Benton started to blush. She squirmed in his lap and settled into a more comfortable position. Then she smiled.
“No, Nat, it’s not that.” He touched his lips to hers, a small comforting kiss. “I find you very desirable. I just think you need your rest.”
“No, I don’t.” Nat cupped his chin and looked into his blue eyes. “I need to feel like an attractive, desirable woman.” She wiggled her bottom and tilted her head. “I know you want me, it’s not like you can hide it.”
Benton turned bright red. “Nat.” He whispered as he stilled her squirming.
“Ben, you’re a grown man. It’s not like you’ve never–” She stopped and her mouth gaped. “You’re a virgin aren’t you?”
“Yes.” He ducked his head. She took his chin and forced him to raise his face. He looked up into Natalie’s beatific smile.
“Ben, I don’t care, really.” She touched the gold buttons of his dress reds. “In fact if find it kinda sexy.”
“Nat-” He started to say more, but he ended up kissing her instead. Their mouths fused, and he took charge of the kiss in a very unvirginlike manner. She pushed against his chest and he fell back into the soft bedding.
“Let me teach you.” She took off his hat and frisbeed it to land on the divan. Then she started to unbutton his dress red tunic. He looked a bit panicked as she undressed him, so she paused halfway down his chest. She reached up and brushed her lips across his mouth again, nipping at his bottom lip and curling her hand into the opening of his jacket. She pressed against the material of his thermal knit undershirt, and pulled on it.
“Nat wait.” Benton’s voice had gone low, into a raspy growl. He sat up, leaning into her kiss, his arms around her. “Let me.” He took her hand out of his jacket and stood. She watched as he took off his scarlet tunic, the boots, and the jodhpurs. He neatly folded them on the divan, laid his hat on top and put Deif into the bathroom. He turned to her in his thermals and looked like a high school boy in his prom night. Hopeful yet frightened, with desire shining in his blue eyes. “Are you sure?”
She sat in the bed, on her knees, her long hair over her shoulders in a wild, pre-Raphaelite tangle. She smiled and beckoned with one finger, as she unbuttoned the top few buttons of her blouse. “Come here Ben.”
He crawled on the bed and stopped in front of Nat. His eyes were dark, his pupils swallowed the pale irises with his need. He reached out and touched her, running one hand down her neck, his hands a bit unsteady. A rosy flush spread under his heated hands and he smiled as he finished unbuttoning her blouse.
She reached for his undershirt and slipped her ands over his smooth flesh. He trembled, then stilled as he brushed across a nipple. She grinned at him then peeled the undershirt off in a dramatic tug. “Oh Fraser,” She whispered as she skimmed her hands over his taut muscles. “You’re beautiful.” She leaned in a laved one flat male nipple. He made a deep rumble in his chest as he mouth worked up his body to his collarbone.
Her blouse fluttered to the floor, and a small, groan slipped out of him as she slid her arms around his neck. She found his mouth and they got lost in the taste of each other once more. He slid one hand up he back, then he trailed his hot mouth down her throat He stopped as his hands found the generous weight of her breasts and rubbed his thumb over her nipple, through the lace of her bra. He head fell back as he released the front catch of the lingerie, spilling her breasts into his waiting hands.
“Pretty good for a virgin.” Nat stilled at the wet warmth of his mouth suckling her contracting Nipple.
Ben looked up at her a very wicked smile on his face. “Just because I’m a virgin doesn’t mean I don’t know my way around a woman.” Then he stroked the hardened tip of her breast with his mouth.
“Point taken,” Nat bent her head over his head, her cinnamon hair caressing his back in tiny feather tips, her hands buried in his short hair. His mouth moved further down he soft welcoming body, and she sank closer to the mattress as her legs went liquid with the heat Ben was stoking as he laved her bellybutton. Her stomach contracted at the soft brush of his lips, the moist heat of his tongue as he explored her inch by torturous inch. He slipped one hand under her skirt, and trailed his long fingers over her thigh.
“Benton.” His name was a low groan as he pulled her skirt down and stripped off her hose.
“Sshh…” He soothed her as he cupped her, feeling her liquid need. “I’ll stop if you don’t want to.”
“God, no.” She hissed as he skimmed his mouth along the edge of her panty line. ” I want to touch you.” Her hands traced a restless pattern across the ridges of his back.
“Next time,” He whispered as he moved up to her ear, his warm breath making gooseflesh dash across her neck in a pleasant tingle. “This time I just want to lose myself in you.”
She bowed into his touch as he skimmed his palm aver her taut nipple, and groaned. A light sheen of moisture was pearling her skin and he bent his head and tasted her. She was clean and salty, a faint taste of strawberries lingered on her creamy flesh. He slipped on finger under the elastic band of her panties and burrowed into her slick arousal. His finger found the nubbin of nerves and flicked it. Nat arched off the bed with a moan.
“Do that again,” She begged as she found his nape with her mouth.
“Yes, ma’am.” He repeated the move. Then he withdrew. He pulled of her panties and stopped.
“Ben?” She looked at him. He looked up at her, a smile of pure pleasure and awe on his face.
“Nat, I don’t know if I can wait much longer.” He moved up her body and pressed his rigid sex to her liquid heat.
“Then don’t.” She smiled. “I want you now Ben,” She kissed him and he lost the bottom of his long johns. “The drawer.” She whispered as she pressed against him in a restless wanting.
Ben reached out and pulled a box of condoms out of the drawer. He ripped open the package and handed her the foil packet. “You a have the honors.”
She smiled as he opened the packet and positioned the tip of the condom over him. She slid it over him slowly her finger lingering over the silken steel of him.
Then he was over and in a breathless push, in her. She arched under him, having him inside her was like joining a missing part of her. He stroked into her, at first hesitant, then at her urging making deep, long thrusts. Each stroke took her higher and higher into the white-hot realm of nothing but the feel of Ben in every pore of her.
He whispered something to her in Inuit, then he found her mouth as she felt herself free falling into the carnal abyss of Ben as he climaxed, and they found each other in the golden light.
“Than you kindly,” He whispered as she opened her languorous eyes.
She stretched and smiled. “No, Ben, thank you.” He pressed a sift kiss to her forehead then withdrew and discarded the condom. She snuggled into his arms and grinned. “But next time, can you wear the hat?”
“I’m yours to command, Natalie,” his voice was soft. He watched her fall asleep as small smile playing on his lips.
O.G. (original gangster)
The black man in black couldn’t appreciate the luxury of his room at the chalet – he had a job to do. Tired from his night-long ride, he sat on the edge of the four poster bed and propped a boot on the dainty step stool. He needed to stay awake just a little bit longer.
One by one, pieces of road-dirty leather landed on the dais near the fireplace. He untied the strap holding his hair, letting the long thin dreds swing freely, then rummaged purposely through his saddle bags. He only needed three things: black jeans, a well-worn pair of Doc Martens and a stiletto.
Soon dressed and ready for his appointment, Nelson paused at the minifridge.
“Come on,” he coaxed, “Daddy’s thirsty,” and flung the small fridge door open with a flourish.
“Oh hell yeah,” he said, grinning. Nelson grabbed a bottle and began to drink. He stood, kicked the tiny door closed with his heel and dropped the cork into a nearby trash can – all in one fluid movement.
It was time to find Dawson.
“Wake up old man,” he said loudly, his lips pressed up between the door and the sill. Nelson didn’t want the rest of the chalet to get out of bed – just Joe Dawson. Kicking in the door seemed extreme, but he’d be damned if he was going to wait until sunset to get the scoop on his newest Immortal.
Nelson decided to knock on the bedroom door – firmly, steadily, and unceasingly. Maybe he could drive the bastard insane in the process, he thought happily.
Two doors down, a clean-cut young man in starched pajama bottoms and a Stetson hat stepped into the hallway.
“Mr. Dawson has had a long night. Maybe you should come back after he has gotten some rest,” he stated politely. If Benton Fraser was surprised to find a large, tattooed man with a mohawk full of dreadlocks pounding on his neighbor’s door, he didn’t show it. He knew better than to jump to conclusions based on one’s appearance. Dief, who judged only on his senses, appeared at Benton’s side and began to growl.
Sighing loudly, Nelson turned to the half-dressed Mountie and the wolf. “Thanks. I’ll do that. Now go back to bed, Dudley,” he said archly, never slowing down his barrage on Dawson’s door.
At the same moment the confused Mountie returned to his room and locked his door, Joe Dawson stomped angrily up to his own. Grumbling loudly, he pulled on the door. “What the hell?” he asked – Nelson shoved him into the room and quickly shut the door.
In her dreams, she always played brilliantly. Plucked, individual strings, cascading like water, each note a golden bead, falling one after the other in ecstatic celebration. In her sleep, her fingers twitched in sympathy, and she was quite suddenly awake.
Evie rolled over and buried her face in the pillow, seeking re-entry to the dream. But it eluded her. Flipping over on her back, she found herself staring hopelessly at the ceiling. “I need a guitar fix,” she muttered to herself. “And I know just the guy to set me up.”
Evie padded down the hall in bare feet, jeans and a T-shirt, which read – appropriately enough – “Why am I out of bed?”. She paused for a moment, catching a faint sound of music coming from the drawing room downstairs. She frowned and continued to Joe Dawson’s door.
Evie tapped on Dawson’s door with one fingernail before opening it slightly. “Joe?” she hissed, trying not to wake the entire chalet. Seriously hoping she wasn’t going to be intruding on anything fun and exciting, she opened the door and stepped through it, closing it behind her.
“Joe, I hope you don’t mind, I just wanted to borrow your gui…” her jaw dropped as she turned to see Dawson glaring at a really big guy with dreadlocks, who was facing him with crossed arms.
“Whoa, am I interrupting something?” Evie grinned disarmly at the two men as they faced her. Joe looked alarmed at her presence, the stranger merely narrowed his eyes in a mind-your-own-business stare. Looking into his eyes, Evie found herself contemplating the virtues of the lightning-swift exit.
“Oh, man,” she muttered to herself. “And I thought I had good timing.”
by Evie and RavenKat
The disarming smile was wearing thin, and Evie was thinking furiously.
“Evie, hon, why don’t you come back another time,” Joe spoke slowly and deliberately, keeping his eye on the stranger. “Right now I need to talk to my friend here.”
“Yeah, sure,” Evie stepped toward the door uncertainly. “I’ll stop by later for the guitar, if you don’t mind.”
“Hey, wait a minute,” the stranger growled. He turned to Joe. “Aren’t you going to introduce me?”
“I wasn’t planning on it,” Joe replied grouchily.
The big man turned toward Evie. He towered over her. “You play guitar, like my man Dawson here?”
She put her hands on her hips. “No. He plays much better. And who’s asking?”
To her surprise, a fleeting smile passed his lips and he stuck out his hand. “They call me Nelson. You’re Edie?”
“Evie,” she corrected, shaking his hand. “Nice to meet you.” “I guess,” she added silently.
“So,” he turned back to Joe Dawson. “You gonna fill me in, or what?”
“Don’t know why I should,” Joe replied, obviously still cranky. “You bang on my door, waking half the chalet I might add, and damn near knock me over when I’m foolish enough to open it!”
Nelson’s grin was all teeth. “It worked, didn’t it?”
“Oh, hell,” Joe grumbled, limping over to the sitting room. “Sit down and have some coffee. That’s what *I’m* going to do.”
“Hey, since you’re asking so nicely,” Nelson quipped, sliding his six-plus foot frame deftly into a chair.
“Well, I guess I’ll be going now,” Evie said, quite loudly, obviously forgotten at the door.
“No – Come join us,” Nelson insisted, waving her to sit with them. “Gramps needs some time to get himself together,” he said, indicating Joe with a toss of his head. “So, you and Joe close?” he added innocently.
Evie narrowed her eyes suspiciously, arms crossed. “What exactly do you mean?” Joe put his head in his hands, muttering something unintelligible. Raising his head, he glared at the ‘younger’ man.
Nelson felt the stare, but ignored the warning. “Like, for instance, did Joe ever tell you what he does for a living?” He grinned, reveling in making Dawson uncomfortable.
Evie laughed, obviously relaxing as she started to understand the dynamic between the two men. “Oh, that. Well he didn’t quite tell me, but I understand a bit about his ‘business’.” She walked over and patted Joe gently on the shoulder. “Don’t worry, dear. I won’t mention that little b&d scene the other night. Now where’s your coffee?”
Joe’s expression changed from hostile to confused as Nelson raised an eyebrow in his direction. Evie whistled innocently as she searched for the coffee, enjoying the game. “Much better than sleep,” she hummed to herself. “Hey!” she shouted. “How come you get a kitchenette?”
Joe rubbed his face, off balance and short on sleep. “Algernon suggested it. I, uh… don’t sleep well.” “Even without people banging
on my door,” he added, his lips twisting into a reluctant smile.
“The old war wound?” Nelson’s face was unreadable. Joe nodded.
The microwave hummed, heating cups of water. “Joe?” Evie shouted from the kitchen alcove, “you want milk & sugar? Nelson? You want coffee or tea? We have both.”
Joe suddenly looked at Nelson, who looked back, inscrutable. Dawson wondered how much the punk Watcher going to reveal to Evie.
“Neither, thanks. I’m still vibrating from my trip up here,” Nelson said and began to unlace the brace on his left wrist. The old brown leather needed oiling and was chafing his wrist and the tattoo underneath.
Evie suddenly appeared at the table with two cups. She handed one to Joe. “You can doctor it yourself.”
“Thanks,” Joe replied. “I take it black.”
“Well?” Evie looked at Nelson expectantly. She had been around the new and improved Trapper long enough to know what she was dealing with. “Don’t worry about me – I know a few…unusual people.”
Nelson shook his head and lowered his gaze to Dawson. I’m losin’ my touch, he thought to himself, tiredly.
“Hey, don’t look at me,” Joe spread his hands in the air. “You’re the one who invited her.” Seeing her expression, he added hastily, “Not that I mind.”
Sighing, Nelson brought the subject around to the business at hand. “Word is, I got me a new assignment by the name of Lux
Nelson looked at Evie and, seeing her reaction, smiled. “You know him,” he said, leaning forward in his chair, elbows on knees.
“Oh, yeah, you could say that.” Evie sat, her hands wrapping around the coffee cup. “If he had an ‘Indian’ name it would be Scum-That-Walks. Or maybe Psycho-On-The-Loose,” she added thoughtfully.
“Yeah, I figured it was bad, if they called me,” Nelson said, his voice growing colder. He stood, brace in hand and headed for the door.
“Wait a minute,” Dawson interjected, “Remember you’re just here to observe.”
“Uh huh,” the bigger man said, turning to face his boss and comrade. “Does he have to be observed right this minute or can I get some sleep first?”
Did I Hear Coffee Break??
Trapper and Nick lay in the darkened room, curled together in contented slumber. No noise disturbed the quiet, save the occasional shallow breath from the bed.
Suddenly, in the dark, Trapper’s eyes snapped open. They were gold. She raised her head to sniff the air, and noticed that her fangs were fully extended. A soft growl escaped her throat as she caught the scent that had awakened her. Easing carefully from the bed, she quickly pulled on her tights, boots and her torn Harley T-shirt.
Nick opened one eye. “I smelled it, too. Don’t be long,” he murmured.
“I won’t,” she smiled as she kissed his cheek. Then Trapper moved to the door. The hunt was on.
Evie finished pouring her coffee and leaned against the counter to listen to the conversation. She’d no sooner gotten settled when an insistent knock sounded on the door. Sighing, she picked up her cup and walked to answer it.
As she opened the door, a hand snaked out and snatched the cup from her.
“YAAAAH!” she shrieked and fell back.
Trapper stood in the doorway, eyes blazing as she raised the cup over her head to drain the last drops. When she finished, she licked her lips and looked around with a sheepish grin. “Sorry,” she shrugged as she helped Evie back to her feet. “I’ve just got to stop doing this.” She handed the cup back. “Is there more?”
Evie laughed as she walked back to the coffeepot. “There’s always more, Traps, but I’m never going to get used to the way you drink it now.” She looked at the small chips around the rim of the cup where fangs had met china and suppressed a shudder.
Nelson raised an eyebrow at Joe. “Now, I know I haven’t been around lately, but did I just see what I think I saw?”
Evie looked over her shoulder. “It’s a long story.”
“Hopefully I’ll be around long enough to hear it,” he aimed at Joe in the form of a question. The last thing Nelson wanted was to get leathered up again and go in search of a crazed Immortal. He had several people to catch up with first. Besides, if these two were any indication of the ladies in New Salem, Nelson planned on sticking around awhile.
“It’s beginning to look that way,” Joe commented wryly.
Evie handed her famished friend a new cup of coffee. “We need to be getting back to bed, too,” she said, smiling. Trapper was putting in a concerted effort NOT to gulp her breakfast.
“You see, we’ve only had about an hour of sleep,” Joe said, ushering Nelson closer to the exit.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” the long-haired Watcher laughed, “I get the hint.” He opened the door then turned toward Dawson. “Tonight, then?”
“Yes,” Joe growled, “Tonight.”
As Nelson stepped away, leaving the door ajar, he heard Joe yawning, “You still want the guitar?”
Giles drifted back into a fretful sleep. When he work at noon, he reached for Jenny, his hand met empty pillow. Gone, she was gone from him again. He sighed and sat up, raking his hand through his neatly trimmed hair. “Jenny, I miss you already.” She spoke at the empty place in his bed.
~~You’re in the arms of the Angels, may you find some comfort here~~
Her laughter echoed in his head. <“I’m still with you English,”> Her voice was clear in his head. <“But someone needs your help.”> She spoke to him from the other side as he began to get dressed for the day.
“Really? Who?” He asked as he shaved in the steamy bathroom.
<“Micah’s sister. She needs a shoulder, and someone to help her find the strength to free Micah.”> Jenny sounded pensive.
“You want me to go to a vampire?” Giles frowned as he nicked himself. The blood was bright against the contrast of his shaving cream. He watched it bead up, wondering how far he had to take comforting Angelique. He had a brief disturbing vision of Angelique, naked and wet from the shower behind him, bending his neck to the side and licking the thin trail of blood off his cheek. Heat shot through his body. “Jenny?”
<“It’s okay Rupert. Isis wants you to do whatever it takes. Remember, I can feel you through her, through Angelique.”>
“Why, when I love you do I want her so badly?” He finished shaving with a less than steady hand. He moved to the other room and put on his blue shirt.
<“She is a beautiful creature, and we have a bond. You sense me in her and are trying to touch me through her.”>
Giles slipped his cream suspenders over his shoulders and reached for a cream tie. “I see.” He knotted his tie, then looked at his jacket, before shaking his head. “First, I have a funeral to plan for Kendra.” He walked out without his jacket.
<“Buffy should help.”>
“If she was awake, yes.” Giles stopped in front of Angelique’s door.
<“She needs you more right now. Kendra can wait until Buffy wakes.”>
He took a deep breath and knocked softly. No answer.
He opened the door, and found Angelique curled into a ball, her face streaked by crimson tears.
~~It’s easier to believe in this sweet madness
This glorious sadness, that brings me to my knees~~
“Angelique?” He knelt at her side, his hand brushing her hair out of her face.
She looked at him, not quite seeing him. “I can feel what they do to him.” She reached out and grasped his forearm, nearly cracking the bone. “Make it stop, please, ” her voice was small, and he sat on the bed and let her curl into his lap and cling to him.
~~Don’t make no difference
Escape one last time~~
He held her, rocking gently, stroking her hair. “Ssshhh, it will be all right.”
She melted into the comfort of his warm chest, and listened to the soothing beat of his heart. “I can feel myself coming apart, and I don’t know what to do.” She stroked his bicep through the cotton of his shirt, a gentle rhythmic brush.
~~You are pulled from the wreckage of your silent reverie~~
“Remember when Buffy ran away. I thought I’d go out of my mind with worry.” He whispered, revealing his private fears, hoping they could help Angelique. “I blamed myself, her mother blamed me, and the rest of her friends did her job.”
“You don’t understand,” She sighed. “It is my fault. I wanted LaCroix for myself, and instead of seeing Divia’s sick attraction, I festered her desires for him.”
“Its not like you took her into bed with him and had her join along.”
“Actually, I let her watch Lucien and I.” She shuddered at the memory. “At the time, in Rome, it wasn’t such a perverse thing.”
~~ may you find some comfort here~~
The fact she lived through the glory years of the Roman Empire made his historian heart falter. “No, not then.”
“Then she betrayed me, because I was going to claim Lucien for my own.”
“Why are you telling me this?”
“You understand what it is like to have the one thing you want, you care for yanked from you.”
Jenny’s dead body in his bed flashed through his brain. “Yes.” He frowned and stroked her cheek. “But LaCroix is still here.”
“Physically, yes.” Angelique laid her head on Giles’s shoulder. “But he is smothering me. It always ends up like this. Together for a few hundred years, then we part. Then we meet again and begin the dance all over.”
He said nothing, just stroked her cheek again, and then pressed a kiss to her forehead. She smiled then sank back into his warmth.
“Be glad he can come back.” He put his arms more firmly around her, and laid his chin on the top of her head. “And be glad you have the resources to find Micah.”
“If only you were less afraid of the computer, I could have you help me with the profile for Micah’s rescue mission.”
“I can help, with the magic.” Giles smiled against her hair. “Just make sure Willow is on the computer, and not on the magic team.”
“I will.” She turned her body to press against him. “And what about Oz? The full moon first night is tomorrow.”
Giles groaned. “I’ll asked Larry to find a safe room.”
“Call me Rupert.”
“You make me feel safe.” Angelique smiled. “I don’t feel that way often.”
“My pleasure.” He pressed his mouth to the top of her head, then eased out of her embrace. “I have to see about Kendra.”
~~In the arms of the angels, may you find some comfort here~~
“If you need anything, let me know.” Angelique stood and stretched, catlike, full of dark feline grace.
He felt the rush of desire, and watched her eyes widen as she caught the scent of his attraction.
“Rupert, I’m flattered.” She teased as she stalked closer. “Did you know I spent almost one hundred years in a Raja’s Houri? I was the head courtesan.” She walked around him, her hips swaying. “Anytime you wish a demonstration of my skills.” She leaned over and nipped at his lower lip. “Just ask.” Then with a bright laugh, she stepped into the bathroom.
Giles fled to the kitchen, looking for a soothing cuppa as Buffy and her group stumbled in.
It Is Unto This Fire That We Travel
It was an uncomfortable day.
The garage gave little convenience…and even less actual shelter from the raging flood of sunlight, which had the two vampires constantly searching for a new position to sleep in.
They’d struggled, in those last waning moments before dawn, to cover all of the building’s abundant windows. A torn strip of canvas here, a makeshift tower of paint cans stacked on a shelf there, a collection of Realtor’s yard signs tacked up wherever they could manage…the futility went on until the first beam of searing light shot through the window and flash-roasted Remy’s hand, sending Devin into a roaring fit of laughter.
But only minutes later, as they prepared their bedding behind a shelf covered with the remaining canvas, Devin’s amateurish yard sign barricade gave way. The resulting blast of ultraviolet rays rushed into him with the force of an explosion…hurling him across the garage, over the shelf they had so painstakingly covered, and hard into the wall. His skin and clothes immediately caught fire as Remy returned the favor of laughter – until, in a fit of fire-dousing anxiety, Devin fell upon the man and set him to flame as well…
The rest of the morning and afternoon had, fortunately, gone by without further incident. Not pleasant, of course…as they spent most of their normally restful hours shifting to and fro in an effort to escape the occasional ray that would slip through a hole in their canvas as the sun moved across the sky.
But it was at least “safe”. That is, until Devin woke at his usual time.
He found quickly that, although hardly rested, his custom of waking before dusk had become so ingrained to his existence that he could not force himself to return to his slumber. This was made even more painful by the fact that he could do little more than wander between the myriad beams of dust-choked light that seemed to await his every move and promise that, with a simple misstep, the cleansing fire would visit him once more.
Gone were the comfortably filtered windows that allowed him a peek at the slowly descending sun. Gone, it seemed, were all traces of the civilization and technology that he’d become far too accustomed to through his lavish, spoiled existence. And as the seconds dragged the mortal world ever so slowly towards night, so too collapsed all mental walls separating him from his personal demon.
When fear found him, it was the fool spirit that would invariably rise to meet the flood. Rage had always been too quick and sloppy for his taste. Panic was as alien to his consciousness as the notion of failure or defeat. But folly…oh, folly was as royal silk to him, likened so to his nature as to be the very marrow of his bones. No depth to which he could fall would ever supplant the malicious jester in him that beckoned to break the frustration of any and all moments beyond his control.
So without further ado, Devin snatched up the ankles of the peacefully sleeping Remy and began dragging the vampire across the worn concrete floor of the garage. The man snorted and twisted momentarily, causing Devin to stop short and produce a conniving grin in the event of an awakening. But a minute slipped by with no further movement, and Devin returned to his task.
Upon reaching the entrance, he set Remy’s feet down gently and twisted the handle to the garage door, lifting it slightly before moving over to kneel down at the man’s side. Readying himself for the shock of sunlight, he mustered his strength and proceeded to shove the man out into the open air and close the door behind him.
As he listened, giggling, with his ear to the door…Remy woke. Seconds after that, the two vampires were rolling on the floor in battle.
It’s Just a Small Glitch
Basement of the Orphanage
Mr. Trick stared at the computer screen, a sly grin spreading across his face. As he watched the words scroll down the screen, he picked up the phone and dialed.
Four men in black suits, dark sunglasses and ear comms appeared in a silver blur. “Where are they?”
“I’ll show them to you, don’t you worry,” Mr. Trick stood. “First, you might want to meet a few more people.”
Madeline stepped out of the dark stairwell. “Hello, gentlemen,” She stood next to Trick.
“Your show also?” they men looked dismayed.
“Tell the powers that be that both Operations and I stand behind them. The TV reality must be preserved.” Madeline cocked her head at the numbers scrolling down the laptop screen. “We both wish to be back in our Nikita reality.”
Deep in August’s cave, Divia looked at the computer screen and smiled. “Not so fast, TPTB, August has something to say about who controls reality.”
She picked up the cell phone and dialed August. “I have something interesting for you. I found it on the computer, of all things.”
She nodded her head, “I understand, but instead of just controlling the Sabbat and New Salem, how would you like to control an entire reality?” She laughed. “I thought so.”
Buffy was being shaken, rather rudely. She grumbled incoherently to herself and then threw the comforter over her head. She wanted to escape, escape from Kendra’s brutal death. Sleep was the easiest escape route. However, she had not been able to escape until mid-morning.
“Buffy!” Willow shook her friend once again.
“What time is it?” growled Buffy.
“Nearly four in the afternoon,” answered Willow, her stomach growled.
Buffy rolled out of bed, her eyes slightly bloodshot. She rubbed away some dry tears, hoping there would be no nasty black rings around her eyes. “I’ll be down in a few,” she told Willow.
Willow nodded and began walking out of the room.
“So how is she?” Xander asked Willow, falling into her stride.
Willow shrugged. “Give her some time,” she advised softly. Oz slipped out of his room and joined the twosome.
Cordelia joined them on the staircase. “I hope this place has better food than Denny’s,” she grumbled.
“I can’t believe you’re worrying about food at a time like this,” said Willow, softly. How could anyone be that callous was beyond her.
“We both think better with full stomachs,” replied Xander. Buffy stepped out of her room and silently joined the others, a determined look on her face.
The others quickly became silent. “I’m going to get whatever did that to her,” Buffy said, flatly, not that they didn’t expect to hear this again. “It will be nothing but a bit of blood on my shoe once I’m finished with it.”
The Scooby gang reached downstairs and walked into the kitchen. Giles was waiting for them, a haunted look in his eyes. He nodded to them, as he continued speaking on the phone. Larry took a glance at the situation and decided that since they had rested, food was in order.
Buffy took a seat at the large kitchen table, the others took the chairs near her. They noticed the Maccousin drinking a rather large cup of coffee, staring into space, ignoring everyone, hoping this hangover would depart soon.
“Larry, could I have some eggs?” asked Buffy.
“But, wouldn’t you prefer a sandwich or something more filling. It is four in the afternoon after all.”
“But we missed breakfast,” pointed out Oz. “Now you want us to have Drunch?”
“Don’t you mean linner?” asked Xander.
Smiles flickered briefly then faded as Giles hung up the phone.
“I just talked to Mr. Botos, Kendra’s watcher,” began Giles. “He feels we should bury her here near where she died.”
The Scooby gang nodded.
“Is there a cemetery nearby?” Giles asked Larry.
“Yes, there’s a small cemetery on the grounds. You could have a proper burial there,” he answered.
“We’ll take her there then,” Giles looked over the kitchen table at everyone.
He had once been a mighty warrior, Pharaoh, God-King. Now he was chained, naked and shivering in a moist cell, one thin ray of light his salvation from the daytime tortures that the demon creature Divia could devise. His mind was numb, detached from the torment that the she-devils were inflicting, the girl and her sexual perversions, all done while calling to her father. The same father that had thought her dead to him these past two thousand years, that had killed her rather than give in to her twisted demands.
The same man that was his sister’s lover.
He had seen her, his goddess of a sister a few nights, or was it last night? Time had lost its meaning for him. She had offered herself to Set, to free him. He was past any care about the petty teasing of Set, he was in the hands of evil as his Egyptian soul could never have imagined. The evils of August and Divia. And he had thought being Horton’s blood puppy was bad, Divia made him look like a tender lover.
Micah wanted death, nay, he craved it. Death was his, for too brief periods of time, then he awoke into the nightmare of his captivity. At least he had the day to himself. Days, he remembered things then, the beauty of hot desert sands, the soft caress of egret feathers, the touch of a woman, not the perversions of his captors, but true tenderness. The scent of vanilla, the soft abrasions of a brush on his flesh. The gentle tickle of feathers filled him, calmed him, made his capture bearable. He would curl up into a tight ball and close his eyes. Then he could set himself free from the rusty chains binding him. He knelt, his strength gone, his body bowed and watched the weak light dance on the smooth cave floor.
The thin ray of light increased, the brightness filled the tiny room and caressed him with gentle fingers of warmth. Then to his amazement, a woman materialized from the sunlight. A dark-haired, cat eyed gypsy woman.
Jenny Calendar looked at the man. He was a tall man, broad shouldered and still well muscled, despite the cruel wounds that crossed his torso and legs. His arms sported half-healed fang marks and his neck was a red raw wound on one side. His hair was limp, obscuring his face, streaked with gray.
“Mernptah, son of Ramses the Great?” She inquired, knowing the answer.
He looked up, he was aged, not the youth he was when he had been first revived, but older. His dark eyes burned from his under his arched brows, pain, rage, and fear congealed into his hot gaze. “Who, are you?” His voice was raw from the half healed vocal cords, strained from the screaming he had done, the vain begging for mercy.
He had been so handsome once, a masculine thing of beauty. Now he was a cruel caricature of his eternal youth. Jenny came closer, bending to where he rested on his knees, too weak to even have the defiance of being on his feet. She reached out to him, wanting to stroke the hair out of his face. He flinched from her fingers, turning his head, a shudder of fear trembled through his big frame.
“Micah, shh, I won’t hurt you,” she soothed him as she pulled his hair from his face. “I’ve come from Isis to give you strength.”
“For what?” He allowed her to stroke her hand over his hair. Her hand was warm and comforting. “My hell is more then even the great Goddess could comprehend.”
“All will be over soon. Your sister is planning your rescue, even now.” Jenny touched his face and stroked the lines away, restoring his smooth Immortal flesh, imbibing him with the strength that he had been losing. The wound on his neck started to heal and the fang marks disappeared. “Set will no longer be able have your Ba.”
“I am past caring.” He sighed and leaned into her touch; soaking in Isis’s energy. His hair thickened, it’s glossy sheen returning, and the wound on his neck began to shrink.
“No, you aren’t,” Jenny smiled as Micah surged to his feet and held out a manacled hand to her. “You have to hold on to the fact you will be out of here soon.”
Micah put his hand on the collar around his neck, the chains clinked and rattled against the heavy gold circle. The blood crusting his neck was gone, the chafe wound healed with the speed of his immortal system. His torso was clean also, free of all but he battle scars he had acquired before his first resurrection.
“Tell me, how is my sister?” He ran his hands down his stomach, glad that the marks of his torment by Divia were gone.
“She is very troubled. She took the news of your capture badly. She and LaCroix have parted company, driven apart by their ghosts.” Jenny smiled as he pressed his lips to her palm.
“Well, that’s some good news.” Micah dropped her hand after pressing the gentle kiss to her hand.
“Her soul hurts,” Jenny’s voice was heavy. “And she has no comfort.”
“What about Giles? I know he was yours. But maybe she needs someone more stable than that old General right now.”
“Giles?” Jenny looked horrified, then her expression turned thoughtful. “Hmm, perhaps.”
“How’s Kay?” Micah vaguely remembered a peach and vanilla scented bath and a warm willing body with him.
“Her magic grows stronger. She misses you.”
Jenny stepped back as the sounds of footsteps echoed through the caves. “Have strength, it will be over soon.” Then she melted into a thousand points of sunlight and was gone.
One of August’s lackeys held out a dinner tray. “Here eat.” He set the tray just out of Micah’s reach, and ran away laughing. Micah lunged out to the full length of the chains and hooked his toe over the edge of the tray, dragging it toward s him. He fell on the food, past caring about manners, hungry as a starving zoo animal.
He looked up as feathers started to fall around him, caressing his skin and cushioning the cold floor of the cave.
4:15 p.m. – right after Feathers
The feathers continued to fall thick and fast around Micah, piling up in soft, warm heaps around his small prison. He knelt with closed eyes, the remains of his meal momentarily forgotten as he luxuriated in the sensation of the feathers against his skin.
As he knelt, breathing in the quiet, he slowly became aware of a faint fragrance. It was tantalizingly familiar and he frowned in an effort to drag it from his memory. Where had he smelled it before, and how long ago? The scent grew in strength until he smiled in recognition. It was sandalwood and lotus. His mother had always worn it. Had Jenny returned, or was this comforting smell just one more kindness from the Gypsy woman?
Micah opened his eyes and beheld his mother emerging from the slowing cascade of feathers. He was mute with surprise. Had he gone truly mad?
The small, smiling apparition approached him with outstretched arms. “My little bull,” she said softly, “how I’ve missed you!”
She looked as he had always remembered, from the dainty feet shod in gold sandals, to her black perfumed braids that hung in a shining wave to her waist. Lotus blossoms adorned her hair and the belt that kept her pleated gown in place. Her dark eyes gazed on him with pure, simple love. Micah collapsed in tears.
“Oh, Mernptah, my golden child, why do you weep so?” She was instantly at his side, stroking his hair and shoulders.
He clung to her, losing himself in the curtain of her hair, breathing in the smell of her, sobbing out the grief that had not been released in over a millennium.
“How can this be?” he said hoarsely, gazing up at her. “You’ve been gone for so many lifetimes.”
“You needed me,” she said simply. “So I came.” She sank to her knees and drew his face level with her own. “Best beloved son of Ramses and my heart, I come to bring you courage and hope. Know that your father and I love you and watch over you always.”
Micah grasped her narrow shoulders. “How can I have courage, my mother, when my heart is breaking with pain?”
She touched the collar around his neck. “This will all pass, my son. You shall walk free to rejoin your sister.” The collar fell suddenly to the ground, pitted and cracked with age. “My small gift to you, son of Pharaoh.” She drew him to his feet as she rose. “Never forget who you are, my son. Never forget that I love you. Someday, you will join us in the blessed realm, but for now, have courage.” She reached up and kissed his cheek. “The Goddess tells me that I must go, but I leave you with a present and my love.” She touched his hand and turned away.
A sparkling mist had formed in the room. Still smiling at Micah, she stepped into the mist and vanished. He thought he caught a glimpse of lotus gardens and high white buildings as the doorway faded.
Micah stood, staring at the place where his mother had been. Had it been a dream? The collar of his slavery lying at his feet spoke the truth of the visit. He looked at the hand his mother had touched.
Lying on his outstretched palm was a silver Ankh.
Not So Random Madness
He raised his head slightly at the hint of a breeze. After Divia’s “goodnight” kiss, his skin burned quite literally, and any amount of coolness was welcome, however small.
Small was it entirely. After everything that had happened to him, to her, he never honestly expected to lay eyes on her again. He wasn’t really sure he had ever wanted to, only his heart raced inside of him as she glided along the shadows to him.
She was too far away and yet, when she reached forth her hand, the shadows responded and caressed his damaged cheek. His cheek stung suddenly, and as he blinked, he realized his eyes were spilling tears. His cracked lips mouthed her name and she smiled.
His eyes widened as she neared him, covered with blood and worse. He almost drew back as she reached to touch him again. Her eyes, almost warm, turned hard and she looked down.
“We haven’t the time, Micah, to play ‘I am offended by you.’ You are in need, and I am the only one here to help you. I can only do it now, while I have the…strength.” She nearly choked on the word, and he couldn’t understand why. Shaking herself, she knelt beside him. “Tell me you will accept my aid. Of your own will and with no regrets.”
He said nothing, only stared at her as if she were one of the hooded cobras that used to slither through his father’s palace. Own will? That sounded too much like the old vampire lure and he knew better.
She shook her head as if she knew what was in his mind. In a way, she did. Theirs was a special sort of bond, forged by the fires of his “Holy Ground” Quickening, the blood she took from him after saving Starr, and the love they had shared, if only for that one night. She had given herself to August to save him and the others at Casa Loma, and part of what she was now had come from that. He trusted her. He had to. Didn’t he?
He nodded once, and she stroked his cheek once more before beginning. Slowly, she removed his bonds one by one, then lifted him to his feet. Lifting a vial to his lips, she whispered, “Drink, and you will be able to walk out of here on your own two feet.”
He smelled it and wished he hadn’t. Steeling himself, he looked at her as he drank. Something was familiar about the taste, and he couldn’t tell what.
She smiled again. “Yes, you might know it. I borrowed it from an old friend. My life is yours, however briefly, Micah. My strength I give to you. Your wounds are no longer yours to suffer.” She bit into his wrist, taking only a mouthful. “As I take you into myself, so you receive me.”
He passed out. That was the best he could figure. Only when his eyes opened, he was sitting in an abandoned part of the airport. Everything that had hurt, didn’t. He looked down at himself and his skin was like new, as if he had been completely healed. What the hell?!
Remember the way back, Merneptah. You will remember.
He stood up, trying to find a way back.
“Don’t be stupid.”
He spun around ready to kill. And his hand dropped.
“None other. Who else would be able to give her what she used for you?”
“I had forgotten what you were…are…”
“No matter. Even having been Pharaoh once probably doesn’t prepare you for actually confronting ‘our’ afterlife. For all that we had once believed, very few of us actually attained this state of being. And of us all, I am the only one left who still practices the old … tricks.”
Micah simply nodded. He should have been this way, the way John was now, only he had become a different type of Immortal. At first, he had worried about his Ka, Ba, and the damage to the rest of his essence, but he knew better now. He…
“Wait one damned minute! Don’t try to distract me! We can’t just leave her there in my place!”
“I don’t need to try to distract you, I did it. Now let’s go. Nothing can be done for her now. She chose, you accepted, and you have to live with it.”
He sighed, “Will get her revenge.”
Micah looked back at the crack in the wall, carefully hidden from unknowing eyes. August was there, along with Divia. And Jonas’ silent ashes were in another urn in there as well. He nodded to himself. She was where she needed to be. Where she had always needed to be. Locked away with her only master, and her greatest enemy. Her right to exist would be determined by whatever happened now. Either August would destroy her, proving that she was worthless to begin with, or she would triumph over both the monster and her fear of her husband. Micah didn’t want to think about the consequences of either event, but he knew that, not matter what, he would be there to see it.
He turned and walked off with John, determined to head back to the city and make certain that the others made it here as well…
Today, We Gather
by Sukh and Maccousin
Buffy stared as Giles, Xander and Oz finished shoveling the dirt onto Kendra’s final resting-place. Mortals and Immortals both looked over the scene, with silence. The small contingent stared as Giles put a small cross over the fresh mound of dirt.
Gilchrist, Sukh, Maccousin, Duncan, Willow Cordelia, Methos and Joe stood to the side. Angel stood by himself under a tree, barely escaping the deadly rays of the fading sunlight.
After the cross was raised, the contingent stared at each other.
“Something should be said,” began Giles.
“Or sung,” murmured Sukh.
“May your heart and soul find true peace,” whispered Buffy, wiping away a tear. The contingent became silent again
Maccousin rubbed her eyes; they were still sensitive to the light. “As high as the moon and stars and as wide as the sea,” she whispered.
“You will not be forgotten,” finished Gilchrist. He noted how badly the Maccousin looked to shake and nodded to the rest of the mourners. He turned and began to lead Maccousin back to the chateau, noting how querulous her knees appeared to be. They reached the edge of the graveyard when a voice started to sing. It wasn’t a voice like Trappers, but it could hold a tune. The first verse to Amazing Grace trembled through the graveyard as the couple moved towards the chateau. A masculine voice joined the female as they sang Kendra to her rest.
The Maccousin began to cry silently.
The pair stood at the threshold to the graveyard and Maccousin wiped away her tears and looked one last time at the funeral procession turning away from the small, sad grave to return to the chateau.
“Don’t worry, things will work out,” Gilchrist promised, vaguely. He hoped he sounded surer of himself than he thought he did.
They walked into the chalet, leaving the others to their grieving.
Buffy looked in shock as Giles joined Sukh in the traditional hymn. Then she began to sing softly. Soon the entire group had finished the song.
“Come Lass,” Duncan wiped a tear from Sukh’s face and started to lead her off. “That was beautiful.” Methos trailed them inside, then wandered off to find Màire.
“At least I’m not doing it over Kay’s grave,” She perked up a bit as they walked into the chateau. “Man, I’m hungry all of a sudden.” Duncan smiled, then his smile faded. He got a closed, unhappy look, his lips tight around the edges.
Michael was standing in the doorway, the usual unreadable look on his face.
“Maybe not.” Sukh sighed.
Boys Will Be Boys
Dust clouds roiled through the garage like the aftermath of a desert sandstorm. Nothing was safe from the grit that settled everywhere, from Monique’s freshly polished limousines to the formerly sparkling windows. At the eye of the storm, two vampires continued their wrestling match.
Language and the intelligence to use it had gone by the wayside at least an hour before. Guttural animal cries and snarls echoed off the walls in evidence that the two combatants possessed no humanity whatsoever. Their Beasts were completely in charge.
A sudden change in the air pressure went unnoticed by the pair. The smell of blood, however, brought them both up short. Red-eyed, they looked to the open garage doorway. The sun had set, with only the slightest tint of crimson lining the horizon. Algernon leaned casually against the doorframe, with raised eyebrows and a smirk of superiority. Two bottles of “Toni” stood on the floor in front of him.
Their battle momentarily forgotten, the mangled, disheveled twosome snatched up their dinner and began to drink noisily, blood running down their chins.
Devin was the first to turn a clear-eyed stare on Algernon. “Sunset?” he mouthed.
“Yes, Mr. Saceur, sunset indeed,” Algernon said condescendingly. “I can’t imagine what possessed the Mistress to allow you here in the first place, let alone him,” he continued, staring pointedly at Remy. “But, since you are here, you should really come in and get cleaned up.” As he turned to go, he looked again at Devin. “I think you’ll find some of your clothes hanging in Miss Anna’s room. They’re probably a little dusty from storage, but Ms. Monique couldn’t bear to throw them out. Not that you’ll notice,” he said under his breath as he marveled over how filthy they were.
Remy wiped his mouth off with a grubby hand. “Hey, Saceur! ‘Dat was some fun! Too bad I won, eh?”
“You what?” Devin sputtered. “I beg to differ, you ego-inflated waste of fang! I almost managed to fry your ass!”
“I think not,” Remy replied as he leapt toward Devin.
As the battle raged anew, Algernon walked back to the chateau, rolling his eyes heavenward. “I will be so happy when the hotel is repaired,” he muttered.
Monique stood at her dressing table, staring at a small packet of papers. She had never thought she’d look through them again, but here she was, sorting through each yellowed piece of parchment, scribbled serviette and card. A soft knock at the door brought her from her daydreams.
The door swung open and Anna walked in, muffled in a long, terry-towel robe and drying her hair with a towel.
“I wanted to thank you. The room is lovely, and after last night, the shower felt exquisite.”
“You are most welcome.”
“Any word of the dynamic duo?” Anna asked, grinning.
Monique returned the smile. “I sent Algernon down to the garage with some refreshment, and to make sure they had not killed each other.”
Anna noticed the papers strewn on the small table and stepped closer. “Catching up on correspondence?”
Monique laughed. “No. These are old papers from Devin. I don’t know why I took them out. Perhaps I’m just trying to sort through things.” She picked up a card and handed it to Anna. “You would appreciate this. It’s a Valentine I received from him, shortly before our final falling out.” Seeing Anna’s expression, she smiled again. “Go on and read it. It’s very Devin.”
Anna took the card gingerly, and began to read:
“I’m no poet,
But when I look into your eyes,
I see every dream I’ve ever had.
I see the sun rising and the moon shining.
I see all my tomorrows
captured in a single moment.
But, most of all, I see…”
Yeah, I can see me
Right there in your eyeballs!
And damn, I’m lookin’ good!
I’m hot, I tell ya’!
I’m really…oh, yeah, sorry,
I was supposed to be talking about you.
Dreams and sun and all my tomorrows
Blah, blah, blah…
Anyway, love those eyeballs!!
HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!!!
Anna burst out laughing. “You’re so right! It’s just like him!” She handed the card back. “Tell me. What could you possibly send him in return?”
Monique smiled slowly. “What else? A pair of eyeballs.”
Back in Action
Nick and Trapper’s room
The two blonde vampires lay curled together in each other’s arms, gazing out the gauzy draperies. Trapper had opened the heavy curtains to watch the sunset. The ruby light spilled through the window onto the bed, bathing them in the sun’s dying glow. Nick sank a little lower under the covers.
“Mmm. I could stay like this forever. Couldn’t you?” Trapper said softly. “Nick?”
“Still a little bright for me,” Nick murmured from where he’d retreated, under the covers.
“Oh, come on!” Trapper said, playfully pulling the covers off. “Don’t go all creature of the night on me now!” She reached down and tickled him.
“Agh! Stop!” Nick writhed. “OK, you win! I’m awake! I’m here, watching the sunset! Yes, it certainly is one!” He grabbed her wrists and they both collapsed, laughing, on the bed again.
“You’re right,” Nick said as he raked his fingers through her hair. “I could stay here forever. But, we should probably get up. We’re needed.”
“Thank you, Steed,” Trapper said with a smirk as she got out of bed. “So, what shall it be tonight? Saving the world, perhaps?”
“Perhaps, Mrs. Peel,” Nick responded, playing along as they walked into the bathroom.
Trapper spoke up as she turned on the shower. “You know, the weirdest thing happened this morning.”
“That’s not exactly how I’d describe it,” Nick said as he got into the shower.
“Funny,” Trapper said as she soaped his back. “No, really. It was just after you bit me.”
“Mmm. A little lower, please. Yes?”
“I could’ve sworn I heard a Harley pull up outside.”
A Family Affair
Vachon awoke to the setting sun, as the chateau returned to life for the evening. The vibration of a nearby family member rippled over him. Taking care not to wake Kat, he reluctantly slipped out of bed to investigate. A neatly folded shirt and pair of pants lay on a chair. Vachon dressed quickly and with a last longing glance at the sleeping form, ventured out into the hallway.
Following the connection, he made his way to a room a few doors away from his own. The door was partially open, so he peered inside. Vachon sensed two vampires, but he could only see one. The woman stood sipping a glass of “Abigail.” Her long auburn hair spilled over her shoulders and down her back. She looked a little over five and a half feet tall, but the black leather, over the knee boots sported high heels. As she titled her head to look at him, he noted that her eyes were the same emerald green as her suede jacket and mini skirt.
“Hi.” She said casually. “Please, do come in.”
He tried to look sheepish as he entered the room. “Hi. I didn’t see you here last night. Did you just get in?”
“We barely made it before sunrise. There was so much activity when we got here, I doubt anyone noticed our arrival.”
He stuck out a hand and gave her a friendly smile. “Javier Vachon.”
Vachon took her hand and brushed her knuckles with his lips. He was about to say something when he saw the other vampire.
“Ah mierda.” he growled.
Francois Bourbon stood at the other side of the room. His dark blonde hair was longer, and tied back. He still wore a scabbard on his hip, but instead of his Rapier, a shorter sturdier weapon rested at his side. His long black coat would conceal it nicely.
“Such language.” Bourbon admonished, “And in front of a lady yet.”
“What the hell are you doing here?”
The former Musketeer stared at his master. It seemed odd that, in nearly a century, Vachon had not changed. “You know how I love a good fight. I should have known I would find you here.”
“First Saceur, now you. This just keeps getting better and better.”
“Devin is here?” the younger vampire asked amused, “And yet you remain. Would you like to borrow my cutlass?”
“We’re not after each other’s heads this time. Well, not yet, anyway.”
“Where is he? Perhaps I shall give him my regards.”
“He’s around here somewhere, so watch it.”
Picking up the Pieces
by Devin Saceur
Up from the blood and tattered clothing came the two…egos and expressions of frustration still intact. Remy, struggling to regain his composure and appear casual in doing so, spat a tangle of blood and hair onto the ground as he reached for a smoke. “Can’t ya just die already?!”
Devin stood slowly, cradling a left arm which had been rendered little more than a pulpy mess during his renewed conflict with the creole. “By the hand of an amateur assassin? I think not.”
But the wound said otherwise, as Devin painfully discovered upon attempting to will the appendage to heal. He grunted and moved toward the remaining bottle of vitae resting on its side across the garage. But as he did so, Remy noted the item of his concern and rushed to retrieve it first. “You’ve had yours, Saceur! De last bottle was mine!!”
Charging into yet another entanglement, this time over the coveted decanter du divinity…dispenser of the glorious – and yet readily available elsewhere -blood…the two miscreant vampires tugged and kicked in their foolishness. As if to spite the very truth that they’d exhausted themselves in discovering, the men wrestled over the bottle…raging, it would have seemed to all onlookers,
against the very notion that neither could claim any sort of victory.
But as it would happen, Fate, apparently annoyed by the tedium of their ongoing scene, stepped in to play the final card. As feet flailed and claws shredded flesh in the ridiculous battle, the bottle abruptly flew from their hands and across the garage. As they watched in shock, mouths agape, the thick glass shattered against the wall…
No less than five minutes of incredulous stares followed as the men finally decided that enough, apparently, was enough.
“What now, bâtard…?” Remy asked, falling back against the wall.
“I don’t know about you, but I’m going to get healed of these minor injuries.” Kneeling to fetch his severed hand from the floor, Devin set out on what was sure to be a painful stroll to the chateau.
Algernon, to his displeasure, found himself tending to the men as they regenerated from their grievous wounds. Against his ongoing wish to hurl the two into the nearest inferno, he set about the chores of selecting suitable clothing and bringing them more and more blood as they voraciously consumed the contents of each bottle. For whatever reason, the Mistress had asked that they be treated with at least a small degree of civility…and Algernon, in his respect for her, would act in accordance with those wishes.
“AAAAAAARRRRGHHH! Pain be damned!” Remy looked to a large hole in his ribcage that seemed more than a bit unwilling to heal. “What were you thinking, Saceur?!”
Devin grinned as he watched the dead skin and muscle of his wrist re-assert its claim over the hand that had been removed during their little battle. “My intent was to tear your heart out and crush it with my boot as you looked on in horror. Unfortunately, I missed.”
“Oh, how very civilized of you, hon.” Anna stepped into the room slowly, sipping from a cup of coffee and gauging the general dynamic with a pair of darting eyes. Monique entered a few seconds after, arms crossed.
“Apologies, Anna. If I’d known of your presence…” Devin wiped blood away from his face absently, leaning back further in his chair.
“You needn’t play this game with me. I know you far better than you would feel comfortable being aware of.”
Monique set her cup down gently on the counter. “Have we solved our problem, gentlemen?”
The two men looked to each other and then to the table between them. “For now,” Remy chirped, his fingers sliding into his cigarette case.
“We’ve shown little improvement in our relationship…” Devin smiled across the table as Remy smirked through a haze of fresh smoke, “but I don’t think that we’ll be doing battle again anytime soon.”
“So good to hear,” Monique nearly fell into laughter as she surveyed the blood soaked kitchen. “I was…”
Devin raised his hand suddenly and stepped toward the door. “Whose voice is that?”
Monique looked slightly confused. “What are you talking about, Devin? Oh…I always forget just how good your hearing is.”
“I hear Javier, but the other voice sounds strangely familiar.” Without pause, Devin opened the door and proceeded down the hall. As he rounded the corner, the voice began to take shape in his mind. From the past came yet another…but how would this one greet him?
He was laughing when he entered the room. “Francois! Veuillez être un ami, parce que j’ai assez d’ennemis.”
To Walk Among Friends (1)
A keep roughly thirty miles outside of Paris
They milled about the courtyard, determined in their anxiety to find some shred of interest in the beauty around them.
Anything to kill what seemed an endless wait.
But they had seen it all a thousand times, and though it was indeed a picture of Eden, the serenity of the gardens could bring little peace to them as they struggled with the certainty that something was terribly wrong. To make matters worse, their orders had stipulated that they were to wait for the return of the search party, which had been gone for far too many hours already.
Now, with the sun well below the horizon, things were looking ever more grim. The feelings of concern were unanimous among the young soldiers and seemed an unyielding haze over the entire estate. Each man felt at least partially responsible for the present situation.
“Riders approaching!” called the watchman from the crossbrace above the gate. He followed his exclamation with a series of staccato whistles as he pulled his musket from its stand and reached into a powder bowl by his side.
Francois Bourbon rushed to the gate and opened the view port. “They are too far out. Tower!”
In the tower above, a soldier removed the cap from his flint glass and focused on the oncoming riders. Though the darkness gave him scarce read, he was able, as they moved in closer, to make out some detail of import for his lieutenant. “The forerunners bear the crest, sir!”
“Very well. Open the gate, but keep muskets at the ready.” As he watched the iron before him rise through the sounds of metallic strain, Francois signaled for his throng to ready themselves.
As the riders neared the keep, one of them ushered his horse far out ahead of the pack, splitting the night with a shrill cry that
slowly took the form of words. “….a hot bath, Francois!!! Prepare a hot bath!”
Looking up to the horse as it stormed past him and through the gateway, he saw the Lady Cecilia sprawled across its back…with Javier Vachon holding her fast to secure her against the jarring ride. Francois jumped, began barking orders in rapid succession, and sent the soldiers in all directions. Henri and the others flooded through the entrance just then and quickly set about helping the men secure the keep against the cold, seemingly impenetrable darkness of the outside they had just escaped.
Vachon, upon bringing his horse up to the keep’s antechamber, quickly leapt from its back and with a careful hand, drew the Lady down and into his arms. At the door waited a servant girl, who guided him quickly through the various corridors and into a well lit chamber, where other attendants were pouring hot water.
Lowering her into the water, Javier brushed back a lock of blood-matted hair from Cecilia’s face and kissed her forehead gently. The feeling of relief expressed by the attendants he shared also, but concern and rising anger took hold of the vampire as he confirmed his fears with a quick glance to her throat.
“Out!” he screamed to the gathering women, “Out! I will tend to her!”
Francois moved against the tide of the servants as they hurried out of the chamber. “Is there anything I can do to help?”
“Come in! Close the door behind you.”
Doing as he’d been asked, Francois came to within a few feet of his immortal father. “How fares the Lady?”
Javier turned to the man, revealing eyes that burned with the golden tint of vampiric rage. “She is not well. She’s been nearly drained of her blood.”
Stepping over to turn the woman’s head to the side, Francois looked upon the clear markings where the fangs had pierced. Lines of blood ran out in rivulets from the wide holes, down the length of her neck, and on into the water. “But this cannot be so. I know of no vampires in this region other than ourselves…”
“Do not be so naive. Vampires travel where they wish in territory not held by the Camarilla.”
The younger man did not understand the reference, but he chose let it pass for now. The seriousness of Lady Cecilia’s condition demanded it. “What can we do…bring her across?”
Vachon suddenly appeared twice his age in mortal years. “No. But I must feed her some if she is to survive.”
“You…” The shock on Bourbon’s face was all too evident, though he struggled to maintain a calm expression.
“Yes, she is bound to me through my blood. We have been lovers for some time now.” Bringing his sword across his wrist with a swift, semi-circular motion, Vachon moved toward the unconscious woman. “She knows all of me, as I would have it with one so beautiful, so integral to my existence. My blood runs with hers…and through it I will lift her up again.”
As he placed his wrist over her mouth, the strength of his vitae rushed into her. Seconds passed with her lying still in the cooling water. Then, suddenly enlivened with the essence of immortality, Cecilia’s eyes opened and lit with a vibrancy and preternatural hunger unlike anything Francois had ever witnessed.
Vachon, feeling the closeness and deep interest of his youngest progeny, turned to face the man as Cecilia continued to draw the blood from his wrist. “Yes. You do not remember, but you were every bit as vigorous. But the circumstances, of course, were somewhat different.”
The woman fell away abruptly then, and Javier slid down from his kneeling position at the side of the large tub. The wound quickly sealed as he motioned to Francois. “Bring one of the servants in,” he mumbled as he struggled to restrain the mounting demands of his flesh…
To Walk Among Friends (2)
A keep roughly thirty miles outside of Paris
“I knew it was you…” Javier still knelt beside the bed where he’d placed Cecilia. The woman rested soundly, recovering from her wounds, and he had decided to stay near her. But in the back of his mind, he knew that the attack on his lover had been no random act. The vampire would find her again.
And here he felt the presence, entering the room upon a slithering fog that had passed through the cracks in the door.
From a corner shadow, a voice responded. “You are mistaken. It was not I who assaulted the lady…” The voice was at once vibrant and dead. It lingered on each word as though to do otherwise would strip the moment. Every syllable came wrapped in detachment and – it seemed to Vachon as he lowered his hand to the sword resting in his belted sheath – a sense of reluctant isolation. If it had been any other, Javier would have sworn that the voice embodied little more than abject sorrow. A slow, inexorable and unquenchable pining for some loss buried forever beneath a carefully fashioned façade.
But he had been educated, painfully, to the contrary. The man behind him was a murderer, an assassin whose very reason for existence rested on nothing more than the upholding of some long-dead vampiric ideal. Javier knew that this one would not relent. That somehow, no matter the cost to himself, this monster would always find him.
With his sword clutched tight, he readied himself for the inevitable attack, even as he held to his kneeling position by Cecilia’s
bed. But as the silence lingered to the point of becoming unbearable, it was finally broken with the wet thud of something hitting the stone floor next to the bed.
Javier turned slowly, believing the thrown object to be a diversion, and then stopped suddenly as it came into his view. “Jean-Lumiere?” he whispered, as though he believed the words would land only on his ears.
But the solid, steady voice from the shadows responded with the next beat. “I never thought that such a man would cry out so
horribly while having his head removed.” The voice almost lilted now, conveying grotesque amusement over a fond recollection. “One would imagine that such a brutal soul would spit and curse unto the very last. But this one…no. This one cried and kicked and screamed like a beaten child. I almost feel remorse for having matched his fury far past his ability to endure.”
Vachon recoiled from the terrible expression upon the face of the head that had been laid out before him. Jean-Lumiere had been a
particularly malevolent vampire among the Parisian circle for some time. None had more than a superficial knowledge of the man, though it was generally agreed that only the most wretched and foolish undead in the city would dare associate with him.
Evidently, the man had decided to travel the countryside, away from the prying eyes of Paris. Somehow – and Vachon cared little for the details – he had found his way to the forests around the keep. It seemed plausible enough at that moment. “Why, Devin…?”
“You need not worry…” the cold edge returned as Devin stepped from the shadows. Just past the reach of his long coat hung a scimitar, tapping lightly and then dragging noisily on the floor as he approached. “I did this not for you, but for my own enjoyment.
“You see, I recently learned of your presence in this keep, and during my journey here, I stumbled upon Lumiere in the midst of attacking the young lady. To be honest, I simply found it too easy a kill to let slip away.”
Vachon stood and drew his sword as the man before him closed to within a few feet. “How convenient for you.”
“Indeed…and for you also. Your lady would be dead otherwise. Lumiere was never known for his restraint.”
“Why would you care about Cecilia’s fate?”
“Because I did not care enough at the time to prevent Isabella’s…”
Stunned at the sudden return of the memory, Vachon drew himself away further at the mention of his deceased love, whom Devin had inadvertently killed while attacking him in the streets of Madrid years back. “You bastard! You dare to…”
“I meant you no anguish, no torment. It was my task to destroy you outright…not to leave you haunted. Others may have wished it so, but I did not.”
The rage consumed him all at once, and Javier rushed in to slash and thrust his sword as quickly and violently as possible. He had heard Devin all too clearly, but with the emotional resurrection of all that had occurred between them, and the pain that followed, there could be neither forgiveness nor even a separate peace as the Beast rose to the surface.
The air split with the exceedingly fast and powerful cuts as the two brought their blades together in a flurry of motion. Vachon, seeing a brief opening, brought his leg up and past his opponent’s defensive swipe. The force of the kick sent Devin crashing through the mahogany door and out into the hallway.
But he was up immediately…and in the span of a few rapid strokes, he had managed to slip through one parry after another, until his scimitar finally found its way cleanly through Javier’s hip. The passage of the blade cleaved muscle, tendon, and bone alike. As it cleared its way through, a deluge of blood followed, painfully depositing the man to the floor.
Devin listened, past the cries of pain beneath him, to the sounds of soldiers clamoring their way up the stairs. He knew that his time was short and raised his blade to make the final strike. “It pains me that you have suffered, sir, for I know all too well the unshakable pain of loss. But ultimately, this is where we are…where we have been since our first crossing of swords. I must finish th…”
The last word came out in a gurgle. Devin’s hand suddenly lost all control and the scimitar fell away as he moved to clutch at his throat. From a clean new slice just below his jawline, a liberal flood of his vitae poured out onto Javier and the floor. As his hands met with the stinging wound, he could feel the extent of the gash, which had nearly decapitated him.
Turning around, Devin saw a smiling Francois Bourbon standing before him…long sword poised for another strike. Through the
haze threatening to render him unconscious, Devin returned the smile half-heartedly as lines of blood ran out of his mouth, down his chin, and into the gore already covering most of his upper torso. “Touché…” he managed to finish before dropping to the floor and dissipating into a thick fog.
Bourbon had never witnessed such a thing. It wasn’t clear to him whether the vampire had been destroyed, or was in fact escaping the scene. “What is this?”
Javier, dragging himself up slowly, waved his hand sharply at his friend. “You will not catch him. Quickly now, we must cover all
evidence of what has happened. Send the men out to canvas the compound…” he said as the first man, Henri, cleared the stairs and moved over to the two.
Henri looked more than a little confused. “What has happened here? Señor Vachon, are you all right?”
“I’m fine, Henri. It is a small wound and not worthy of your attention.” He regained as much composure as was possible, given that his damage had not yet healed entirely. “Go with Francois and I will make certain that Cecilia is safe.”
“Very well,” the man agreed, though he still wore the bewildered look plainly upon his face…
Out in the surrounding forest, just beyond the walls of the keep, Devin found himself barely conscious and lying upon a bed of ferns. Though he had managed to will his deeply sliced throat to heal, the accompanying pain and exhaustion kept him pinned to the ground for many hours thereafter.
As the sun slowly crept above the horizon and he began the agonizing descent below ground to sleep through the burning hours, he could only think, over and over…”This is becoming too costly.”
Fire and Ice
Bourbon and his master sized each other up remembering strengths and weaknesses from a shared past.
“So what have you been up to this last century?” Vachon asked.
“Oh this and that.” Bourbon replied with an irritating smirk.
Camille watched the exchange with interest. After seeing him through her lover’s blood, it seemed strange to finally meet Vachon.
As they began to discuss current events, a disheveled vampire approached them, laughing as he did so.
“Francois! Veuillez etre un ami, parce que j’ai assez d’ennemis.”
“C’est evident.” Bourbon laughed, “Vous semblez terrible.”
“What the hell happened to you?” Vachon asked more than a little amused.
Devin brushed at the dirt and drying blood. ” A minor disagreement. I found myself in the rather unsavory position of sharing the garage with Remy today.”
“I’ll bet that was a real scream.” Vachon snickered. “I hope he looks worse than you.”
Devin’s reply was casual. “The gaping hole in his chest cavity should be healed soon.”
A delicate hand held a glass out to him. “It sounds like you’ve had quite a day.”
The fiery hunger that had been briefly forgotten at the sound of Bourbon’s voice began to gnaw at him.
“My thanks.” he said with a nod as he took the glass and quickly drained the contents.
Bourbon knew the look he saw in the elder vampire’s eyes as he watched Camille. Moving to her side, he possessively draped his arm around her shoulders. Ignoring the jealous posturing, she smiled and turned to Devin. Fighting the urge to elbow her lover in the ribs with bone crushing force, she waited for Bourbon to introduce her.
Devin looked impatiently from Vachon to his protégé. Turning on the charm, he flashed his most disarming grin.
“I don’t believe I’ve had the pleasure of making your acquaintance. I’m Devin Saceur.”
Stepping toward, she offered her hand. “Camille Marquette.”
He placed a soft kiss on the back of her hand and held it in his for a moment.
Gazing into his dark, expressive eyes, she was struck with the impression of great age. She guessed him to be at least a thousand
years old. Never having met one so old before, Devin was fascinating. It surprised her when, for a moment Camille found herself
hungering for his ancient blood. She could almost taste the knowledge and the power she would find in his veins.
Quickly dropping her gaze before her vision turned gold, the young vampire drained her glass.
Tame as ever…
by Devin Saceur
Watching himself slip away, as though from some more exalted perch above, Devin was reminded of those refinements often lost to a moment. Taking his eyes from Camille, he drained his glass of its contents and set to pouring himself another. The thought of some small talk briefly crossed his mind, as Javier stood across the room, his own thoughts apparently unoccupied. But his eyes unconsciously tracked themselves to the woman once more as her lover stepped in to deliver a purposeful kiss.
Camille was young. She could not have been more than a century in age to Devin’s senses. The soft glow of her skin had not yet given way to the cold stillness and indifference of time. The eyes sparkled with fervor and joy, while the weight of immortality lay far from her shoulders. Waiting…as it would likely be for some time to come.
In the soft muscular contours of her hands he could discern the lasting impressions of a mortal life given equally to both honest work and play. Not an overburdened young woman, by his estimation, but certainly accustomed to tending to herself. In her sinewy, graceful stance he saw a strength and utility that would have lent itself to any of a hundred occupations, had she been relegated in life to the requirements of the commoner. He believed she had not.
As the imbibed vitae settled in him and his eyes lingered on her form, a sudden teasing in his soul promised of the deeper pleasure he would know were he to slip his teeth past her immortal flesh. Further still, he traced the outlines of her legs and imagined the warmth and comfort of her beneath the sumptuous dress she wore. How pleasurable perhaps more in the fantasy of it than the action itself to slip into her, pinning her beneath his forceful thrusts as he satisfied his every desire even as he quickened the blood from her veins and assimilated into his soul the depth and beauty of her youth.
A quick and perhaps violent domination of her would be the way…as a girlish acquiescence on her part would do little more than play to his own petty vanity – not the demands of the Beast. The forced subjugation of another’s will was that which would forever play the greatest to his desires…
But as the fangs leapt forward into his mouth, biting into the flesh of his lower lip, he willed his eyes to see, just as he silently damned the rushing tide of depravity that coursed through him as surely as the blood from his exhausted glass. As he reached for the bottle yet again, Camille and Francois suddenly started for the door, apparently hearing something of interest down the hall. They both turned and gave a polite, quick nod and smile to him, as though unwilling to press any other interaction. Vachon remained a moment longer, his gaze hanging on Devin as he read the man’s surface tension all too easily. “It would appear we have ourselves yet another moment of fury unfolding. Should we investigate?”
Under any other circumstances, Devin would have heard what it was that had startled them into action. With extraordinary clarity he would have gathered each sound with his heightened senses. But now, in that state somewhere between protocol and feral awakening, his senses could scarcely discern the breaking points from one stimulus to the next. The sudden pierce of Javier’s voice entered slowly into his consciousness at first, and then flooded in to capture his attention at last.
Recalling the question posed to him, Devin smiled to the man, who mirrored the gesture knowingly. Beyond, he could now hear the frenzied Remy LeBeau, tallying wager after wager on the outcome of some noisy battle. He smiled again. “An investigation is certainly in order, my friend…for it would appear that the two ancients are engaged to the final death this time.”
Setting the glass gently onto the mantle, Devin joined Javier, a sparkle of interest leaping into his face at the thought of such a fray between the elder women. His mind slipped quietly away from the earlier thoughts, the Beast apparently satiated, for the very first time…with nothing at all.
by Sukh with a tad of help from Maccousin
Angelique sighed and rubbed her eyes as the red hues of the sunset graced the sky. There was no rest for her tonight. She stood in the shower the warm water doing nothing to warm her skin and let her thoughts tumble through her head.
Micah was still gone. LaCroix was off looking after his own interests. The anger with him had faded into a dull throb of agony at the pain he was feeling knowing Divia was loose. Angelique dried off and donned a black terry cloth robe. There was the big meeting this evening with her team from section one. Everyone was needed for the plan to go like clockwork. If only Lucien were here to help, but the fury between herself and him and not been resolved. Angelique’s thoughts were interrupted.
A note whispered it’s way across the floor. She picked it up and read the contents, how kind of Monique to offer the services of her staff. A massage was definitely in order. Perhaps she could better face the trials of this evening after a rubdown. She closed her eyes and had a brief flash of the pampering she had received as a princess of the house of Ramses, and shivered in anticipation. Cleo looked out the window at the fading sun, and growled softly.
“Poor pet,” Angelique stroked Cleo’s black head as she watched the mourners depart from the graveyard. She sent a silent prayer to Anubis to find Kendra’s heart worthy to pass on. She was a brave warrior against the darkness. The light faded completely, and she turned to the door.
‘It’s time to feed, my sweet.” She opened the door and waited for Cleo to stand at her side. She stalked down the hallway, Cleo in hand, knowing that the Carouche was in the mood to hunt. On the way to the stairs, she heard doors open and voices chattering, glasses clinked as vampires toasted the new night and hoped for the best for their plans.
These noises were nothing but mild annoyance to Angelique. Micah’s pain and Set’s trickery were at the forefront of her mind. She made a face at Steve, lying face down in the hallway next to the staircase. Disgusting, that he was family.
Angelique walked to the front door and released her pet. Cleo took loped into the night. She turned and walked into the kitchen looking for Algernon, Larry stepped to her side. She handed the card to the servant.
“Send the masseuse to my room,” she told him crisply, leaving before Monique’s servant could draw a breath.
Larry stared at the card. Monique gave a great many gifts and amenities to her guests, however he could not remember her ever giving out cards as gift certificates. Larry shrugged and picked up the telephone. Alex was Monique’s usual masseuse. Larry dialed a number; Alex picked up on the first ring.
(10 minutes later)
Angelique paced inside her room thinking about he upcoming briefing. She tried to arrange her thoughts into a logical pattern, sipping at her bloodwine, as a quiet knock sounded against the wooden door. Angelique opened the door to allow the well-muscled immortal inside.
“I’m Alex.” He started to set up his portable massage table.
“Hello Alex.” She sipped at the drink again and smiled. He was a handsome young man. “Call me Angelique.”
He set out some oils and towels. “I’m ready.” The scent of Sandalwood and Jasmine enveloped her in a relaxing, sensual fog as she dropped her robe and walked toward Alex. Alex grinned and shook his head as she lay face down on the table. He covered her rear with a towel and poured out a measure of the oil.
Down Comes the Night
The sun had been down for awhile before Kat opened her eyes. She awoke suddenly and knew instantly that she had overslept. Turning her head to the empty pillow beside her, she closed her eyes and focused on locating Vachon. He was nearby and apparently not in any danger; she relaxed.
Oversleeping was a rarity for her, unless she was gravely injured and attempting to heal herself. Kat hoped it was an anomaly; traditionally, her safety depended on being up and aware for as many hours as the sun would allow. Perhaps the proximity of so many family members had given her a subconscious sense of security. She’d have to be careful – not everyone in her newfound family was as interested in her well-being as Nick and Trapper were.
Stretching and letting her senses explore, she found all those she expected and a few more. The Chalet was a much clearer environment than downtown New Jerusalem, hopefully she wouldn’t be caught unawares again. Tonight was the night to rescue Detective Schanke’s little girl and Kat didn’t want any psycho rock singers sneaking up on her. Lux deserved his own special time.
She got out of bed and saw her clothes in a neat pile on the dresser. Kat’s parrying dagger lay nearby, hilt out as if ready for use. She smiled as she realized that the beautiful weapon was approximately the same age as her Conquistador lover.
Jeans on first, Kat held out her shirt for inspection. It looked clean, but the lanky vampire cautiously brought the T-shirt close to her face. She inhaled deeply and was overwhelmed by images of the burned slayer, as well as, desiccated forest demons. Scowling, she thrust the offending item away.
“Time for something new,” she announced and began to rifle through the dresser drawers. Hopefully Monique wouldn’t mind if she snagged one of these old undershirts. The hint of mothballs had a cleansing effect and Kat reveled in the softness of the ancient thing. She slipped it over her head.
Before leaving to meet up with her family and friends, Kat stooped down in front of the fireplace and stuck a finger into the ashes. She smudged a little black around her eyes, yanked on her boots and headed into the hallway.
Two things struck her as she lay foot on the expensive runner. Duncan MacLeod was coming down the passage with his mistress and somewhere near, Angelique was screaming bloody murder. Quickly closing the door behind her, Kat couldn’t decide which was more distressing.
Lie Down In Darkness
Bourbon did not like the exchange he saw between Camille and Devin. She was young, less than a hundred and fifty years across. Of course, a vampire as old as Saceur would draw her attention. She held Devin’s gaze for just a little too long. He thought he saw gold flecks in her eyes as she emptied her glass in one swallow.
Had they been alone, Francois would have offered her his neck. For obvious reasons he pushed that thought from his mind. Wrapping his arms around her, he settled for a passionate kiss. Dragging his tongue across the tips of her fangs, Bourbon allowed her to savor just a few precious drops of his blood, a taste of things to come.
As they slowly broke the embrace, he tried to ignore the jealousy that urged him to protect what was his. If he caused a fight, Devin was likely to kill him. If he got back up, Camille would surely kill him again. ‘Cherchez la femme.’ He told himself. It had been a fight over a woman that caused him to become a vampire in the first place.
– Versailles, France 1664-
The Sound of angry voices broke the relative quiet of the early evening. Two men faced each other, rapiers drawn. Both wore the clothing of the King’s Musketeers.
“I do not like you, sir.” The older of the two men stated. “I never have, but your father was a good man. I have honored his memory by tolerating your foolishness and arrogance. Were it not for him, you would not wear our crest.”
“I am here by my own merits.” Bourbon replied angrily.
He was in deep this time. Philippe was his superior in rank and also eleven years his senior.
It was a fact of life that any man who wore the uniform of the Musketeers could always find a willing female. Had he known the fair
Genevieve was Philippe’s sister, Bourbon may have thought better of enjoying her favors. To say Philippe was angry was a gross understatement. If Francois was to die for his indiscretions, he would die smiling.
“If you believe your father had nothing to do with your rank, then you are a bigger fool than I thought. Henri was a loyal advisor to our King. Why would his Highness ignore your wish to serve him?”
It was the truth, but Bourbon would not admit it. Besides, he felt he had more than proven himself in battle.
“You needn’t worry about my association with Genevieve. I did not sully her. Your sister’s virtue was taken long before I met her.”
The snickers from the crowd that had gathered around them were silenced by a venomous look from Philippe.
Another man may have walked away from the confrontation with that small victory, but Francois let his anger get the better of him.
Grinning broadly, he addressed the crowd.
“You know I speak the truth. I would wager there is not a whore in Versailles, perhaps even Paris that possesses as much skill in the art of pleasing a man.”
That did it. The gasps from the onlookers and the fury in Philippe’s eyes removed all doubt.
“Filthy pig! I shall kill you where you stand!”
A movement that was almost too quick for the human eye to follow blocked his strike.
“You may try, but I assure you, you will not succeed.”
The clang of swords as they crashed together rang through the courtyard. Despite his opponent’s hacking and slashing, Francois drove him back with quick parries and a little brute strength. Ducking a wild swing, he caught the other man’s wrist with his free hand and slammed the ornate gold and silver basket hilt of his sword into Philippe’s face. Blood flowed liberally from his broken nose, staining the crisp white and vibrant blue of this tunic.
Had anyone been looking, they might have noticed the unearthly glow of the vampire’s eyes. Watching the scene with interest, hidden from immediate view was a nearly 160 year old Spaniard. The hunger burned brightly with the smell of spilled blood, but he could not tear himself away from the battle to hunt.
The combatants were a flurry of fists, elbows, swords, and boots. Both were sweating from exertion and bleeding from various injuries, but the cocky grin scarcely left Bourbon’s face. They snarled and cursed as their blades clashed together.
When he tired of their game, Francois took the offensive to end the skirmish. Aggressively swinging his rapier, he drove the older man back. With incredible speed, his sword twisted in a wide arc against the other, disarming Philippe. A quick kick to the knee sent him sprawling on the ground, the tip of his own sword against his throat. Bourbon smiled down at him with traces of blood on his teeth.
“My thanks for the sport, old man. It was most entertaining.” Instead of delivering the deathblow, he brought his blade to his face and gave a nod, then dropped the older man’s weapon beside him. He offered his hand, but it was angrily refused. “Now, I believe we have other matters more worthy of our attentions.”
Francois heard the warning cry as he turned to disburse the group of men that had gathered to watch them. Shock registered on his face as he felt the bite of cold steel. The sword entered between his ribs and came out his back. Several men gasped in horror as their friend fell to the ground. As they started toward him, Philippe waived his rapier madly at them.
“No! Leave him!” he growled.
Bourbon began coughing blood from a punctured lung.
“Francois.” Gaston whispered, and rushed to his friend’s side, only to be slashed by his killer.
“I shall kill the next man who crosses me! Let him die like the dog
Vachon waited until the men were gone before leaving his hiding place. He had found himself thinking the brash young fool would make a good vampire. Companionship was a comfort he’d been without for some time. This Bourbon seemed almost a kindred spirit. No. That would complicate his life immensely. The Hand was already hunting Javier. A fledgling would be a weakness he could not afford right now.
Without realizing he had moved, Vachon was suddenly at the dying man’s side. Amazingly, his heart was still beating. He didn’t have time to think about it. If he wasn’t crossed now, the young mortal would die. Before he had the chance to ask himself why he cared, Javier drained what little blood was left, tore his wrist open, and held it over Bourbon’s mouth.
As the darkness began to lift and his strength returned, Francois became aware of a battle raging in front of him. He was at a river.
No, a lake. A man in strange clothing was swinging an odd weapon at someone. It was a man in heavy armor holding a pike. The fight was long and fierce, neither man willing to give up until the other was dead. They both lay dying when the sun set. A vision of a woman, then blood.
Bourbon’s senses exploded in a haze of red. Rage. He wanted to see Philippe’s blood spilling onto the ground until there was not a drop left in his miserable body. His eyes snapped open to view a scene tinged with red. Blood. He was drinking blood.
Too quickly the source of nourishment was gone. He could feel his wound closing. There was no pain, only hunger.
“Who are you?” He asked, looking at a familiar face. It was the man in the armor, but he was dead. Wasn’t he?
“Javier Vachon.” He said, helping the new vampire up.
“Am I dead?”
His benefactor laughed at the question. “Would you believe me if I said yes?”
Bourbon thought for a moment, then nodded and grinned. “Yes. I think I would.”
Vachon smiled back at him, amazed at how well his fledgling seemed to accept the change. “We must feed before the sun rises”
“Yes. I am very hungry. Perhaps you could explain what has happened to me?”
“I will answer all your questions when we are safe. We should leave now, before someone finds us here.”
“There is something I must do before we are gone.”
Shortly before dawn, Philippe’s body was found. His throat had been cut, and his own sword pinned him to the earth through his heart. Only the hilt was visible. The entire length of the blade had been driven into the ground below him. His body was lying in the exact spot Francois Bourbon was said to have died only an hour before.
Hair Today Gone Tomorrow
By Maccousin (with Sukh’s help)
Màire sat in her room, contemplating the dusky hues of a burgeoning Indian Summer sunset. The fiery colors lit the sky into a virtual rainbow of reds, yellows and even a strip of green near the horizon. She sipped her glass of bloodwine delicately. Algernon had brought several bottles to her room, along with several boxes from a local store. She appeared calm for the moment, however underneath her cool exterior she literally bounced with anticipation.
She had wondered briefly if the dream last night may be a bad omen for this evening’s activity, but she decided it was merely a sign of nerves, nothing more, nothing less.
After she woke up, she had selected a black stretch velvet minidress and she decided to forgo the heels for the moment, just in case. She looked away from the sunset as she heard some activity in the hallway. Was Angelique awake yet?
She paused in front of the door and opened it carefully and peeked out. The mourners had returned and she smiled as Methos came to the door.
“Are you still planning to go through with this?” he asked as she shut the door in behind him. He frowned at her, hoping to dissuade her from her little plans.
Màire laughed as she waved a razor and scissors at him. “I’m always prepared for fun,” she chortled. “Oh come on. Please help me, Methos.” She slid her fingers up his chest, then slithered gracefully next to him. “I’ll be ever so grateful,” she purred, fluttering her eyelashes at him playfully. She pressed her cold lips to his neck, feeling the thrum of blood under the skin.
He had planned to let her go in on this alone, but after last night…
“You are nothing but trouble,” he murmured, leaning in for a kiss.
Màire laughed quietly. “You are so right on that,” she replied. “But everyone needs trouble once in awhile, don’t they? You can’t say that I’m boring to be around, now can you?”
He sighed softly, shaking his head. “I can’t argue with that,” he replied. He couldn’t help smiling as she literally bounced in his arms. A small frown creased his features; he knew what Angelique would do to her, if she found out. Maybe as soon as Màire realized what could happen she would turn away from this insanity.
They heard movement across the hallway. Cleo growled softly as Angelique continued with the big leopard down the hallway. Angelique had been too busy with her own thoughts to pay attention to noises nearby.
“There she goes,” Màire took Methos’ hand, grinning wickedly, “let’s go hide in her closet.”
Alex wandered down the hallway to Angelique’s room and knocked on the door. A busy familiar buzzing overcame him as he saw another Immortal and a redheaded vampire walking toward him. The twosome stopped. The Immortal looked him over and the vampire came up to his side and smiled. Her blue eyes were the color of a sparkling blue sea and they overwhelmed Alex.
Màire smiled, glancing at the floor for a moment, allowing Alex to regain his senses. “Look at me,” she murmured softly. When Alex returned to his whammy state she continued, “You won’t remember me or him.” She told him.
“Won’t remember,” murmured Alex in return.
“You won’t sense him in the closet.”
“Very good,” Màire nodded to Alex. “Carry on.” She smiled over her shoulder at Methos. “Let’s go hide in the closet.”
“Someday, I want you to teach me that,” Methos followed her into Angelique’s room.
(Angelique’s closet — 15 minutes later)
“This is ridiculous,” Methos whispered, within the darkness.
Màire hushed him, hoping Angelique would not hear them. Angelique was probably too distracted to notice anything amiss.
Màire crossed her arms and gave him a small smile. The door opened. Soft voices were heard as the masseuse walked into the room.
Not five minutes later, there was a loud clunk. The masseuse dropped to the floor. Soft murmurs came from Angelique and then silence.
Màire did an odd kind of dance as she nearly skipped back into the room.
“Will they be all right?” Methos looked worriedly over her shoulder. He had a very, very bad feeling about all this. Màire seemed joyfully oblivious to his discomfort.
“They’ll be fine,” Màire assured him, dragging the immortal away from the bed. She handed Methos a long rope and scarf. “Be a love and bound and gag him,” she said, flipping Angelique unceremoniously over onto her back, rather like a large sack of potatoes. Màire gathered her scissors and razor.
“Màire, please wait,” Methos hedged. He finished tying up the Immortal and dragged him to the closet.
“What?” said Màire, giving him an innocent grin.
“Please don’t,” he said. “You’ll infuriate Angelique and she will kill you.”
Màire rolled her eyes. “As if,” she began, “She’ll never be able to tell it was me. Besides that, if she found out, LaCroix would protect me. I may not be his favorite, but I’m still his child.” She held the scissors, poised over Angelique’s scalp.
“Let’s be honest, Màire,” Methos began. “You and I both know that there is only one person here who has fought with Angelique recently.”
“August could be responsible,” shrugged Màire. Methos was beginning to bring her down. Damn, why was he so sensible? The worst part of this was that he was right. She would be a suspect, probably the only one. However, her curiosity got the best of her and to Methos’ horror, she cut a bald spot in Angelique’s hair. It was beautiful. This was probably going to be her best joke of the century. Even better than the time she and Janette had switched Nick’s bottles of moo juice with LaCroix’s own private stock. The sheer look of disgust on LaCroix’s face had made the women giggle about the occurrence for nearly a decade.
A wicked grin spread across her face and another of Angelique’s locks landed on the floor. A mad fury took over Màire and she continued throwing hair across the room. She became oblivious to everything else.
Methos looked on at the scene, aghast. Before he could think of anything else to say one word escaped his lips. “Fock!!!!”
Màire giggled and continued splitting hairs. Angelique’s long tresses were now littering the bed, pillow and floor.
“Are you insane?” Methos grabbed Màire’s hands before she could cut Angelique’s hair again. “What the hell is damned funny about being so self destructive? Angelique will take great pleasure in ripping you to shreds. You’re far too old to be this risky.”
Màire pulled away. “As I said before, there is a line I will not cross. However, I have to do this. It’s a matter of pride. I never got back at her for stealing my…”
“Stop the Irish pride crap. This is life and death,” Methos insisted as he watched her begin cutting Angelique’s hair again. More bald spots were showing up. Damn her, she was infuriating and now ignoring him completely. Angelique would stomp Màire and cut her into a thousand pieces. Why had he ever gotten involved with that crazy vampire? One look at her and he knew why. Màire Moran was fun. The most fun he had had in months and he wasn’t going to let her kill herself. There was just one thing to do. Find LaCroix, he could talk Màire out of this self-destructive act.
“I have a better pair of scissors,” he said. “Let me go find them. It will make this go faster”
“Yeah, sure,” murmured Màire, she continued spreading the hair across the pillow and table.
Methos stormed out of Angelique’s room and saw LaCroix’s tall imposing form heading for a room. He was about to say something, when Joe grabbed his shoulder and began dragging him toward the staircase.
“Birkhoff needs anyone with computer experience to help in setting up all the workstations,” Joe explained.
“But I’ve got to talk to…” Methos began. LaCroix closed the door behind himself.
“Talk to him later,” Joe told him. “I doubt he’ll disappear and there’s not much time.”
Joe stopped and sighed, with Nelson’s unexpected arrival, he had lost much of what was left of his patience. “What is it?”
Methos was about to say something and then thought better of it. “Nothing,” he said. “It can wait.”
Màire smirked as she stared at the long black hairs littering the room. Amazing how hair that had taken years to become as long as Angelique’s was gone in a few minutes. She was as bald as a billiard ball. Màire laid the last lock of hair on Angelique’s forehead so it lay in the middle. She had left a long lock of hair down the left side of Angelique’s head. Quickly, she plaited the hair and had super-glued a perky pink ribbon into the braid.
She stared at the artwork a moment and then gathered her tools to wash them. The razor would go into the trash bin in the bathroom at the end of the hall. The scissors would be placed in the library where they belonged. She deliberately smeared the fingerprints on the ornate design and walked out of the bedroom and began down the hallway, head down so her smile would not give her away.
Then she bumped into Trapper and Nick literally.
“Oops, so sorry you two,” Màire mumbled under her thick veil of hair in a vain attempt to hide her smile. She hurried past them, shielding the scissors from view and continued down the stairs, noting the new WARriors that had wandered in.
Nick and Trapper glanced at each other, worriedly. Nick knew Màire well enough to know that something was up.
“What’s going on?” Trapper asked Nick.
“I don’t think I want to know,” grumbled Nick, he then chortled. “Unless it means Steve ends up in the dumpster again.”
Màire dashed into the library; grateful Giles was not tottering about and slid the scissors into the drawer. She passed through the entry to the staircase again, and slid into her room.
It was just a matter of time now.
Shit Hits the Fan
by Sukh and Maccousin
The warmth of the sun radiated through the brick walls of the house. Sun spilled through the windows as the gentle massage continued over Angelique’s shoulders down her back. Soft voices speaking in Egyptian whispered to her. She tried to respond, but she couldn’t open her lips to speak.
A pair of gentle hands began cutting her hair. Her attendants giggled quietly to themselves, it was slightly annoying, but she could not find the strength to reprimand them. Something was wrong about this, but she found herself too tired to move after the massage. Angelique could not open her eyes. Giggles continued as the serving girls left Angelique’s side, their soft footsteps echoing through her father’s house.
Hair tickled the edge of her nose, and Angelique awoke with a start. Some joker had braided her hair and the offending braid with a pink bow now hung across her face. She pushed it aside and ran her fingers through her hair, and she was horrified to feel clumps of hair in her hands. Angelique opened her eyes and let out a bloodcurdling scream.
LaCroix heard the scream. He stopped in his tracks and then he took off at top speed. He burst through the door of Angelique’s bedroom to find he standing in a pile of her hair, shaved off braids clutched in each fist. Her eyes had gone red. Her head was smooth shaven, except for a youth forelock on one side of her head, topped off with a bright pink bow.
“Angelique?” He moved closer to her and she growled. He stopped. “What happened?”
“My hair.” She was whispering over and over. “This can’t be.”
LaCroix wasn’t moving any closer. A sharp gasp sounded behind him and he whirled to find Sukh, Duncan, Trapper, Kat, Nikita and Nick staring at Angelique through the broken door. “Go!” he hissed as Angelique made a sound behind him. “Find Larry. Now.”
They withdrew as Angelique looked at LaCroix and with a sob went to her knees.
“Why?” She stroked the hair on the floor. “Why?”
“Angelique, don’t fret,” LaCroix knelt next to her. “It’s not a bad as you think.”
“That’s easy for you to say,” Angelique hissed. “You don’t have a meeting in less that two hours.”
“They’ll never notice. We’ll find you a wig.”
“No, there isn’t time to get to town and back.” Angelique got back to her feet, her eyes still golden. “I want to find out who did
“We will, my dark Venus, we will.” LaCroix touched her smooth head. “And they will pay.”
Larry showed at the door.
“I need to have this youth lock removed.” Angelique stated to the goggling servant.
“ANGELIGUE!” A familiar voice sounded down the stairs.
“Micah?” Angelique started to run out the door, but LaCroix restrained her. “You may want to make your self more presentable, my dear,” he remarked at her reminding her of her towel clad figure.
Micah appeared at her door, sword drawn, and his eyes bright with the fire of battle. He saw LaCroix and silently charged him, sword drawn.
“What did you do to her old man?” He raged as he went for the dodging LaCroix. He swung at the ancient vampire and LaCroix dodged as he leapt on the bed in a rather undignified crouch.
“I did nothing.” LaCroix tried to retain his dignity as he slid on the satin coverlet. “It was not my fault.” His hand found a sword,
and he pointed it at Micah.
“Micah,” Angelique stopped the brewing fight. “He didn’t do it. But I can guess who did.” Angelique eyes flamed red again as she sniffed the air. She noted the faint tang of tomato juice. Maire. “And she will pay, as soon as I get dressed.” She nodded to Larry as she sat on a low stool. “I forbid any fighting until after I kick that Irish whore’s ass.” She glared at her brother and LaCroix in the Mexican standoff on the bed.
Ten minutes later she was in a sleek body suit of latex and clunky boots, ready for business. The forelock was gone and her scalp was sleek as a marble, murder burned in her eyes.
Màire was laying on the bed, running her fingers over Methos’ chest as her mind wandered over what she had done in the last thirty
- She examined her nails carefully then she raised her head. Màire chortled softly to herself when she heard the scream from down the hallway.
She sat up and waited tensely as Methos leapt to his feet. “Oh, fock!” He growled as he grabbed his sword and took off.
“Coward!” She called after him as she stretched into the heat left in the bed by his rapidly exiting body.
Ending the Suspense
Marcus lay sleeping, snug in his unusual bed. Mother, the old Primogen of the Malkavians of the city, had given it to him as a gift for helping her set up the orphanage. At first, he had thought it was some Malkav joke, and accepted in good, if a bit puzzled, humor. That had lasted until it was installed in his subterranean lair, and he lay in it for the first time.
The bed had been made of an almost solid gel, but one that accepted the body to it like a woman cradling a child in her womb. The moment Marcus sank into it for the first time, he felt almost safe, protected. And he proceeded to fall asleep almost instantly.
Because of the absolute calm of the bed, he only slept in it when there was trouble, and his mind was distressed. Since he returned, he slept in it every morning. Only the peace it promised couldn’t reach him. The horror of the past two months was something that he, in all his years, had never dealt with. No, that wasn’t entirely true. He had dealt with similar problems over the past three millennia, just not all at the same time. And Hanna. Seeing her come out of the mausoleum, skin in bloody tatters, eyes full of madness…and then bonding Paolo almost as an afterthought. Through all the hells he had seen her deal with, she had remained the bright-eyed, almost innocent women he had always loved. Surely, she had her moments of downright bitchiness, but she had for the most part remain kind and gentle. Even her enemies knew her to be fair and just. But now?
His nightmares of Hanna passed to the poisoned forest, the desecrated Caern, the slaughtered Garou. Why? August never cared enough about the Garou to waste her time on them. Even the first time she tried murdering Hanna, when they first settled New Jerusalem, she didn’t bother with them. Marcus had always assumed that she considered them beneath her notice. Lesser creatures that weren’t worth the trouble to destroy. Why had that changed? He knew enough about Infernal magic to know that the effort used in destroying the forest, sending that force towards the city, would have wiped her out. And August couldn’t have, and wouldn’t have, done it alone. Which meant that even Divia had consented to the risk, and helped. Why? What did they gain? Divia was
- Her hatred of her father/Childe’s favorite lover, Angelique, made it simple enough. But only in the kidnapping of Micah. What else would have led her to consenting? Nick? Yes, she hated LaCroix’s favorite Childe with a vengeance. And destroying the forest, damaging the city, would affect Nick, since he could not abide the suffering of innocents.
But why would August consent to helping Divia? Ah yes. Angelique again. He had heard from Jonas once that Angelique had been one of the handmaidens of the Priestess of Isis, Ptolemy Cleopatra. Angelique had taken the position because she had enjoyed the companionship of the girl, and when Cleopatra became Pharaoh, Jonas as Caesar had persuaded the still young woman that Angelique would be the best advisor she could hope for, besides himself naturally. Though Angelique was millennia older than either of them, she enjoyed their company, for their wit and intelligence she felt was an equal for her own.
And then Lamech came, and everything changed. Cleopatra was Embraced, and then she Embraced and bound Caesar to her. And something within her died. Like so many others of her kind, she took to believing that humanity existed to serve her needs. Seeing the germ of evil budding within her, Caesar broke with her, staged his death and then vanished. Of course, she had her own problems to deal with, and Mark Antony, her devoted Ghoul, was a cause of a good deal of them. Deciding that Angelique was in his way, he arranged to have her murdered, not knowing that she too was Immortal. Angelique, in her fury, helped Augustus to bring both Antony and Cleopatra down.
So there is the reason for August’s tolerance of Divia, Marcus thought as he tossed in his sleep. Cleo still wanted revenge for Angelique breaking with her. But there had to be more. Hanna, of course. It always came back to Hanna. August destroyed the forest and the Garou because they mattered to Hanna. She took the girl, Jenny, because Hanna was fighting to keep her safe from harm. He knew that the destruction he had seen at the cemetery, the damage to Hanna, was a punishment for saving Jenny. Not just, of course. Paolo had a crazy idea of making Hanna like him, of binding her to the Hand, and that whole thing at the cemetery had been part of it.
He started waking up a little, and fought against it. He started rolling over, and couldn’t. His eyes opened, and he tried again. What the hell?! The bed, which normally cradled his body was actually holding him down! He started to pull harder, and the hold of the bed increased. And then he noticed that with each struggling move, the bed pulled him down further, almost like quicksand. Panic seized him, and he fought hard to be free. The gel swelled up around him, almost as if it were eating him. As it oozed over his face, he felt a hard jolt, heard a roaring. The bed at once let him go. Reaching and clawing, he pulled himself out of the muck frantically. As he rolled out of the bed, he almost landed on Mark Fowler. The Garou reached out with his one good arm, helping Marcus to his feet. A discarded lighter and aerosol can lay at his feet, and he grinned.
“I keep all sorts of little toys in my backpack. You never know what you might need, or when it’ll come in handy. I saw that bed…eating you and figured one of my toys might help. I hit it with a little fire and POP! out you came!”
Marcus smiled ruefully. His bed was useless now. He doubted he would have been able to sleep in it again after today, but it had been a present from Mother, the only thing he had left of the old, black woman that reminded him of the “Aunt Jemima” commercials. He shook his head.
“It’s all right, Marcus. I don’t think it did it on its own. It’s, after all, just a bed.”
“No, it was August. I was dreaming of her, and she used it. She could sense me through the dreams, and used it.” He cursed at himself. “I usually guard my dreams, especially from her, but with all the strain lately…”
“Tell me about it,” Mark sighed. He almost gestured with his useless left arm. He looked at it and sighed again. Marcus had saved him from the “ooze” that devoured the forest, but not before it had gotten his left arm. It looked almost half digested, as if someone had pulled it out of a vat of stomach bile and reattached it. Marcus had bandaged it up, but it still hurt like a son-of-a-bitch.
Just then, a sewer lid was moved, and they both froze. Only a handful of people knew how to open the sewers: Marcus, Hanna, Jonas and…
“John!” Mark exclaimed as the mummy moved forward into Marcus’ domain. Behind him followed the missing Micah who, despite everything he had endured in the past two months, looked remarkably well. Even the extreme aging that had come upon him during Horton’s torture had been reversed. He looked whole and hale, though extremely pissed which wasn’t surprising.
“Micah,” Marcus nodded to him. “I trust you’re feeling better?”
“Smart ass!” Micah snarled. Marcus raised an eyebrow in surprise, and Micah exploded. “Don’t look so surprised you bastard! You let him bring her to me, so she could get me out and then take my place! She’s trapped with those two psychopathic bitches, and you let her do it!”
Marcus looked from Micah to John and it dawned on him what Micah was saying. “You took Hanna to get him out!? You stupid bastard!” His eyes flamed red, his fangs bared as he flew at John. Before he could reach him, Micah had him by the throat, pinned against the wall.
“Don’t pretend you didn’t know about it, Sewer Scum!”
“I didn’t!” Marcus snarled back. “The last time I saw Hanna was in the cemetery, when Paolo tried to…tried to ‘initiate’ her. She was a mess. And then she vanished.”
“Vanished, huh? Why don’t I believe you?” He squeezed Marcus’ throat tighter. “You better think of a way to make me believe you, or I’m going to do to you what Horton did to Jonas!”
Marcus’ anger flared, and Micah saw white nothingness as he hit the other wall. No one had known exactly what happened to Jonas, only that he was really dead this time. And now Micah was bringing it forward again.
Mark and Marcus turned in surprise to John. The mummy was perpetually calm, having broken only when his beloved Jocasta had been murdered. And now he was a towering fury. Micah rose to his knees and stopped when he saw John.
“I’m glad I have your attention! Now, Hanna came to me on her own! She begged me to help her free Micah! Begged! I could not refuse her. I could never refuse her. She told me that though she lost her beloved husband, she wouldn’t lose him,” he said this, pointing harshly at Micah, “as well. So I helped her. I gave her to her chosen fate, because it is what she wanted!”
They all looked at each other, their sorrow and grief shared. Why did it all have to be so hopeless?
“But still,” John croaked, his voice full of emotion. He cleared his throat then tried again. “We have more work to do. More work that she wants us to do. We’ve got to save the girl. We’ve got to stop that menace headed to the city. We’ve got to make certain that the others are all right. And we’ve got to make certain that if Hanna doesn’t kill August herself, that we finish her ourselves.”
“Then let’s go,” Marcus whispered.
Micah rose to his feet. “Yes. Let’s go.”
Climbing out of the sewers, they headed out to find the others, relying on Micah’s sense of his sister to show them the way…
And in this corner (with translations)
By Maccousin and Sukh
Màire sat, with a small self-satisfied smile on her face, pulling away from the warmth surrounding her in the bed. She pulled a large dirk from her bags and sat in one of the chairs by the table. Her hands rested on the dirk, knowing that Angelique would bring a weapon of some sort with her. Even if not, better safe than sorry. She heard more voices down the hall.
Màire glanced down at the hilt of the dirk and studied the clan badge momentarily and ran her fingers over the gilded edge. She pulled the blade out partway, the cool crisp surface glinted in the light, and her reflection gazed back at her. She tested the blade’s edge with her fingertip and found it to be in excellent condition, or at least enough to withstand an attack. She took a second look at the dirk, trying to remember the last time it had been in use.
She heard Micah call for his sister. Hmm, when did that come about? Voices reached a crescendo and a sword whistled. She glanced at the bottle across from her and took a quick swig of courage. Monique’s help arrived once again in Angelique’s room. She waited, patiently for the door to slam open.
(Down the hallway)
Ciarán caught himself shiver at the howl of utter rage as it echoed down the hallway. He heard the sound of quickened footsteps scurry around the corner and he saw Methos take off for the stairs, sword in hand. A small smile crossed Ciarán’s face. He had been waiting to hear from his team, who were supposed to arrive with the dusk of the new night. However, Ben and Jerry could wait for a few minutes. A group of mortals and Immortals dashed back downstairs, no doubt having been shooed away by LaCroix.
He walked up the stairs to see Larry walk into Angelique’s room, holding a pair of scissors. Angelique appeared herself a few minutes later, bald, absolutely quivering with fury and flanked by LaCroix and Micah. There was no doubt in his mind who was responsible for Angelique’s appearance. By Bhadhbh, Màire always took her tricks too far. He sighed and took off in the direction Methos was heading. Maybe the two of them could help keeping the Angelique and Màire from tearing each other into little pieces.
“And where do you think you’re running off to?” He stepped in front of the door Methos was about to open. He leaned against the door, raising an eyebrow.
Methos sighed. “I was trying to leave before Micah comes after my head. Angelique is bound to think I had something to do with this. I couldn’t stop her.”
Ciarán sighed. “Well it will take at least two of us to pry Màire and Angelique apart. LaCroix and I have had to separate the two of them before and I have a feeling that it will take more than just him and me this time.
“That slut is going to be in so much pain,” Angelique raged. She stomped over to the outer door, pulled it aside and then kicked the inner door off its hinges.
She walked into the room, with a look that might send a younger vampire running into the sunlight. “Pouffiasse, I’m going a to rip off your head and piss down your throat!” she growled.
LaCroix and Micah glanced at each other as Màire chortled. Several WARriors hearing the confrontation filled in and stood behind the two men.
“Nice do, báitaí,” Màire laughed.
Angelique growled, grabbed Màire neck and pulled her out of her chair. She then began shaking the younger vampire like a rag doll.
Remy whistled in the back of the crowd. “Awrigh! Catfight! One hundred on dat bald chick! Go chere!”
“Oh mercy!” Màire coughed with a smile. She couldn’t help laughing. After a small amount of initial pain, she would heal and end up unharmed. “Oh, hurt me,” she laughed again, noting Angelique’s wrath mounting at this discovery. She decided she would have to make a move and punched Angelique in the mouth.
Vachon grinned. “I’ll see that. One hundred on the crazy redhead.”
Remy shook his head and grinned. “The way dis is goin’, I may have to bet on dem bot.”
“I’ve fought with Angelique before,” said Kat. “I’ll put my hundred on her.”
“You’re in the want of a good funeral,” Màire grumbled as she picked herself off the floor, but still managed to get kicked in her left shin. Angelique pulled back her hair and proceeded to kick her opponent in the neck. It left her opponent dazed momentarily.
“Hmmm,” Duncan murmured to himself as he and Sukh wandered their way over to Remy. “Angelique has the upper track, but Màire is a Celt. She’ll be pissed if she finds out I didn’t bet on her. But Micah would be pissed otherwise. One hundred on Angelique.”
“Who dat?” asked Remy. “Is she dat bald one?”
“Yes,” sighed Duncan.
Gilchrist wandered up with a crisp hundred-dollar bill, and gave it to Remy. “Me own mother was a redhead, and never gave up in a fight. Besides that, I have to support the Gael.”
Maccousin punched him on the arm. “How come you didn’t give us that money last night?” she asked.
Màire meanwhile got up, tripped Angelique and managed to kick her in the stomach, once. Then her opponent grabbed her leg and pulled her down.
“Morue!” screamed Angelique, punching her opponent in the stomach.
“Pogue mahone, báitaí!” retorted Màire.
The operatives wandered inside.
“Michael,” Nikita murmured, looking at the carnage within the room. “Are they going to kill each other?”
“I doubt they could do that,” Michael replied calmly.
“All right a catfight!” Walter jumped past Nikita and Michael to get to Remy. He placed his bet and then began taking pictures as he cackled. “C’mon Brown Sugar, turn around a bit. Hey Red, could you look at the camera?”
Michael shrugged as Nikita and Birkoff continued staring at the two vampires. Ciarán and Methos arrived and moved to the forefront of the crowd.
Angelique and Màire had gone to opposite corners of the room and Methos jumped between the two of them as they prepared to go at it again.
“Ladies, stop this, you both look ridic-” The two women growled and started running toward each other. Methos was pushed aside and hit the wall.
“Ní morán thú!” screeched Màire. Angelique had grabbed her by the hair.
“Pouffiasse, you are going to be wishing you were dead!” answered Angelique, kicking Màire swiftly in the side.
“I’ll put a hundred on Angelique,” said Bourbon.
Camille shrugged, finding the scene a tad over the top. “I’ll put one hundred on her too.”
Duncan helped Methos to his feet. “Angelique is going to want your head if she finds out you had anything to do with this.”
“I tried to stop Màire. She wouldn’t listen. It reminded me of trying to give you advice sometimes.” Methos grimaced, rubbing his left temple. “You and her both never listen to my sage advice.”
Màire screamed in rage, as Angelique stepped on her stomach. Angelique began pulling out Màire’s hair. “I’m going to tear out your hair, one strand at a time, bitch.”
LaCroix quietly came over to Remy. “One hundred on Angelique.”
Nick and Trapper glanced at each other.
“Don’t look at me,” began Trapper. “I’m saving my money for espresso.”
Schanke grabbed Nick by his arm. “Nicky-boy, you know both of the ladies.” He glowed in excitement. “Who are you going to bet on?”
Nick sighed and then saw LaCroix over by Remy. “One hundred on Màire,” he passed over a bill to Remy and felt LaCroix’s stare on his back.
“Hmmm,” said Schanke, looking over his shoulder at Evie. “Who are you putting your money on?”
Màire leapt onto the Egyptian vampire’s stomach and was hitting Angelique’s head against the floor. Angelique grabbed a vase and swung at Màire, hitting her in the jaw.
“Oh,” Monique looked close to tears. “That was a very rare Ming vase.” She noted Màire heading for a chair. “No, please that is a
Louis the Sixteenth…”
Evie stared at the fight for a moment, as the chair became kindling. “I’m putting my money on Angelique,” she said.
Buffy walked in. “Somebody has to stop this,” she reached for a stake.
“Buffy, wait,” Giles took her by the arm. “Let them finish this.” He looked at the scene disapprovingly.
“Man, this makes last night worth it!” Xander jumped to the forefront. He couldn’t take his eyes away from seeing Angelique using a headlock on Màire.
“Xander!” Cordelia tried to get his attention.
“Huh?” asked Xander, not taking his eyes away from the scene.
Màire elbowed Angelique in the stomach and then kicked her in the stomach. The two began rolling across floor, screaming incomprehensibly at each other in different languages.
“Teigh I dtigh an deabhail!” Màire tried to pull away from Angelique’s grip on her hair.
“Morue, you’re going to wish you’re in hell by the time I’m done with you,” growled Angelique as Màire scratched her face. Màire rolled away and grabbed her dirk. She laughed as she wiped blood from her face from Angelique’s scratches.
Meanwhile, Ben and Jerry wandered into the room, shocked to see the head of the Enforcers rolling around the floor with their team lead’s ex-wife.
Lalor tried to get through their blockade. “Hey! I can’t see the fight!” he whined.
Angelique grabbed her brother’s blade and the two women faced each other, red-eyed and snarling.
Michael and Ciarán walked to the front of the room. Michael shot several bullets into the ceiling.
“Ladies,” Ciarán began, snarling back at them. “You dinna want us to separate you.”
Michael and Ciarán were pushed aside as Angelique and Màire faced each other off again. The clangs of metal meeting metal were becoming louder.
“That’s it,” Ciarán growled. He found LaCroix and Methos. “We’re going to have to pull them apar’ afore they hurt themselves or someone else. LaCroix, you and Michael take Angelique to her room.” He turned to Methos. “We’ll take Màire to the bathroom to cool off.”
LaCroix and Michael grabbed Angelique from behind.
“No,” she growled. “I’m going to kill that morue!”
Methos and Ciarán picked up Màire and dragged her kicking and screaming into the bathroom.
“Báitaí!” she raged.
“Ohhh, too bad,” laughed Remy. “Dis is a draw, dealer keeps all de cash!”
“What!” the WARriors growled.
“Now, now,” began Ben. He stepped to the center of the room. “Nothing more to see here. Move along. Move along.”
“Does anyone need medical attention?” asked Natalie, looking around the room. Everyone seemed in fine shape, except possibly Remy, who was trying to outrun most of the WARriors.
The dredded vampire noticed that the ruckus was quickly changing course and casually stepped out of the line of fire. All attention previously centered on the two women fighting was shifting to the retreating Cajun. Nelson groaned at the familiarity of it all. As if on cue, Jerry and Ben stepped into the room. They rushed by Nelson without so much as a smirk; he was pleased to see that the two enforcers had learned their lessons well
Searching the crowd, Nelson spotted a familiar bandanna. Navigating the diminishing crowd, he quickly stepped up behind the other man and placed a firm hand on his shoulder.
“O si yo,” Nelson said, his voice deep and resonant.
The grey-haired man turned and smiled broadly. “Ho wa!” he replied in kind and shook Nelson’s hand in the brotherhood grip.
“Do hi tsu?” Walter asked, pulling back to get a good look at Nelson. Long separated, Walter was happy to find that both his old friend and his Overhill Cherokee were in serviceable condition.
“Still kicking,” Nelson replied heartily. He tugged at the camera around Walter’s neck and teased, “Special surveillance?”
“You know it!”
A Shower Scene
Birkoff watched as the two vampires were dragged away from each other. He turned to Walter. “That’s it?” He was clearly disappointed.
“Don’t worry,” laughed Walter, holding his camera. “I’ll make you a copy.”
“Báltaí!” Màire raged as they half-dragged, half carried her into the large bathroom. She kicked and struggled against the vampire and Immortal who pulled her out of her battle into the bathroom.
“Let me go!” she screeched, trying to free her fists from Methos’ grip.
“Not until you calm down,” Ciarán said rationally. He was used to her temper tantrums regarding Angelique. He sighed as she began yelling in her native tongue. “There’s no need to insult my clan. At least my family managed to not kill each other. There’s only one thing that will calm her down.” He said to Methos.
“Don’t you dare!” Màire growled.
Methos noticed Ciarán staring at the bathtub. They tossed her into bathtub and turned on the shower. She screamed and pounded her fists as cold water plastered her hair onto her face. The black velvet dress became a second skin. The struggle lessened and the men let go of her.
Màire stared at them balefully. She scowled as Ciarán leaned over her.
“Are you going to behave?” Ciarán asked her with a smirk. “This is your own fault, you realize.”
Màire glared at him, her arms crossed over her chest.
“Ah, good. I see we’ve moved on to the silent treatment portion of our semi-annual conniption over Angelique. Speaking of which, I’m going to check on her.”
He nodded to Methos. “Later, old man. Make sure she behaves herself.”
Ciarán walked out.
“Are we done?” Methos turned to the sulky wet woman in the bathtub.
Màire stared angrily at wall. “Infuriating jackass,” she grumbled. “Sometimes I wonder how I managed to stand being married to him.” She looked at Methos. “I suppose I will have to listen to a lecture from you now.”
“Oh it’s a bit more than that. Thanks to you, I have Angelique after my head now.”
Methos clamped a hand over her mouth. She looked up at him, shocked. “Mmmm!!!” She murmured angrily.
“Will you let me finish a sentence now?” he asked her calmly.
She looked at him and Methos pulled his hand away from her mouth. Màire sighed impatiently.
“Did you not hear me say that this childish little game of yours would be trouble?” He asked. “Angelique is understandably upset.” He got up and walked to the other side of the bathroom. “She will want revenge on anyone involved in your dangerous little game. That means her brother, who is probably mentally unstable right now from everything he’s gone through will be all too happy to act in her behalf.”
Màire stared at her feet.
“Are you even listening?” Methos crouched down next to the bathtub.
“Yes,” she sighed.
“Do you normally do things like this for fun?” Methos asked sarcastically. “Quite frankly, I thought someone your age would know better.”
“Give me a break,” Màire returned the tone. “Before the sun came up, you were ready for fun. Why did you even follow me if you didn’t want some fun.” She wiped some water away from her face. “Why did you even come back. You could have at least stayed and given me an alibi.” Màire turned away from him. “Or wasn’t I even worth it?”
“It was great, but not worth getting killed over!”
“Excuse Me? You seemed to enjoy yourself earlier today!”
She sighed and turned away. “I’m sorry, I just really enjoy tormenting her that’s all.”
“That’s all the excuse you have for pulling a crazy stunt like that?”
“It wasn’t a crazy stunt,” she ran her hair over her wet hair. “It was just revenge.”
“Revenge,” Methos sighed. “I gave that up a long time ago.”
“Revenge,” Màire replied. “I could never give it up. That’s why I am what I am,” she smirked.
“Has anyone told you, Màire that you are a pain in the ass.”
(In the hallway)
Ciarán had all the intentions of going to Angelique’s room, but he got distracted. That blonde goddess, Nikita was following the two other operatives down the hallway. He sighed softly to himself.
Nikita must have heard him. She stopped to look at him. The man stopped at her side. Ciarán smiled, head tilted. He held out a hand. Ciarán did not notice LaCroix exiting Angelique’s room. Michael followed LaCroix a few seconds later, wanting to give Angelique and her brother some privacy.
“I don’t believe I’ve introduced myself,” said Ciarán.
“Oh, but I know who and what you are,” Nikita stared at him then looked over his shoulder momentarily, noting Michael. She took his hand.
Ciarán brought it to his lips. “Ciarán MacKeracher, of the Clan MacKeracher.”
Nikita couldn’t help smiling. She covered up a girlish giggle with a hand.
“Oh so you do smile,” Ciarán replied. He noted the way Nikita’s blue eyes moved and caught a scent of Michael. “I thought all section one operatives were automatons without emotion.” He couldn’t help smiling at Nikita’s smirk.
“We aren’t all that way,” Nikita smiled, she couldn’t help but notice the way Ciarán’s hair appeared to be nearly red in the light of the corridor. He continued to hold her hand, and she let him. “At least we don’t kill indiscriminately.”
“It appears Operations has been at work spreading lies about my kind,” said Ciarán. “And could you honestly say he is any better than us. I don’t suppose you would still want a drink.”
Nikita looked over Ciarán’s shoulder once again. Michael stared at her, blankly, as if he was daring her.
Nikita took Ciarán’s proffered arm. “Why not,” she answered. They began to walk down the hall together.
“We could drive somewhere,” Ciarán mused. “My car, thanks to our friend, Màire is here.”
Nikita paused in step, midway down the stairs. “Will she and Angelique be all right?”
Ciarán laughed. “The problem with Angelique and Màire is that they both regenerate too quickly to please the other. I imagine they will make a compromise sooner or later. They hate to admit it, but they have similar goals and don’t you dare tell either one of them this. They are alike in many ways.”
Nikita nodded. “I’m not sure I’d be able to handle going up against either. They won’t have a problem with this, will they?”
Ciarán opened the door for Nikita as they stepped into the night air. “I doubt it. Angelique is going to be preoccupied with Micah’s return. Màire is having too much fun tormenting Angelique. My own maker told me once; Màire has Fey in her and would be nothing but trouble. At the very least, she is entertaining trouble. Although I had no idea Màire would have scalped Angelique. She’d be all too happy to ignore me at this moment. If anything she’d probably tell you that you have her pity. Besides that, there’s someone else to enchant now.”
Ciarán walked to the car door and opened it for her.
LaCroix walked into the room silently, hearing the voices echo down the corridor. He paused outside the bathroom door, hearing Methos continue to lecture Màire on behaving like a grown-up. He could not agree more.
He paused outside the door before walking in.
by Renie and RavenKat 😉
“I saw a friend of yours shortly before I left.”
Vachon cocked his head and raised an eyebrow. “Yeah? Who?”
After giving Camille a look that said, watch this, Bourbon winked at her and leaned toward his master before replying, “Uncle Pachaqui.”
The Spaniard closed his eyes a moment and sighed heavily at the mention of the Inca. “No. Do NOT tell me he’s going to show up here.”
“The last I heard, he was on his way to Europe.”
Around the corner, a tall, lithe redhead appeared. She stepped silently up behind Vachon and snuck a finger into one of his belt loops. Javier was too preoccupied to notice.
“What did he want?” Vachon asked cautiously.
“Your whereabouts, what else?”
Kat tugged, doing her best not to intrude completely, yet let him know she was there. She was concerned that this might be a private conversation. Vachon turned, smiled distractedly then returned to questioning his offspring. “And you told him…?” He paused, waiting for Bourbon to answer.
“Oh, I gave him the exact address of this chalet and precise directions to New Jerusalem! What do you think?” he replied sarcastically. Nodding briefly to acknowledge the elder vampire, he continued, “I told him nothing. As far as he knows, I haven’t a clue where you are.”
“Good.” Vachon visibly relaxed. “Maybe we’ll get lucky and August will take care of him before he can find us.”
Camille shot him a look that was a mixture of disbelief and genuine amusement.
“That would end your game of hide and seek,” Bourbon teased. “Then what would you do for the rest of eternity?”
The conquistador pulled Kat around beside him. “I’m sure I’ll think of something,” he said.
The two men exchanged knowing grins. For most of Bourbon’s undead life, they had played the same game. Vachon would run, settle, then run again when the Inca found him. Pachaqui, and his agenda, was an eternal pain in the ass. Vachon’s Inca ‘brother’ took everything too seriously, including himself.
Javier watched the former Musketeer grow increasingly uncomfortable; there was something he wasn’t saying.
“What?” Vachon asked, hoping to get whatever was bothering him out in the open.
The Spanish vampire leaned against the wall, letting go of Kat and crossing his arms. “I’m just wondering when you’re going to tell me what’s really on your mind.”
“Okay – he told me Urs and Screed were dead. I didn’t believe him, so I called her private number at the Raven.” Bourbon set his jaw and looked away for a few seconds. The look on his face made it clear that he already knew the answer, but he asked anyway. “Is it true?”
Vachon nodded grimly, the scene fresh in his mind. “I found their bodies at the church I was living in. By the time I got there, it was too late.” He paused, not sure whom he was trying to convince. “There was nothing I could do for either of them.”
“It was bad,” Kat added solemnly. She gently took her lover’s arm, as much for her own reassurance as his.
Bourbon’s voice turned steely. “How?”
“August…or Horton.” Vachon didn’t elaborate; he didn’t want to think about the scene that greeted him that night.
The younger vampire met his eyes. “He already told me who. I got a crash course in their sordid histories from a friend in Seattle. What I want to know is how Urs died.”
“No,” Kat interjected, “you don’t.”
Refusing to acknowledge her, Bourbon closed in on Vachon. “Tell me.”
“Urs and Screed are dead. Let’s just leave it at that. We know who’s responsible – I’ll take care of it.” Vachon moved away from the wall and stepped around Bourbon.
“You?!” Bourbon demanded, stopping his master with the tone of his voice.
Vachon turned and faced his old friend. “Is there an echo in here?” he replied harshly. “This isn’t your fight.”
“Urs was mine, Bourbon. I am the one who made her.”
The swordsman flinched inwardly. “Perhaps, but I loved her. Does that make her any less mine?”
Vachon shook his head. Urs should never have been brought across. She was too kind, too sensitive. She eventually became used to being a vampire, but she could never accept what Vachon had done for her – to her. He had wanted to give her the love and protection she didn’t have as a mortal. Shortly before her horrific death, Urs told him she understood that.
In the beginning, she had refused to hunt with them, choosing instead to take the odd murderer, rapist, or wife beater. Upon her nightly returns, she made a habit of bathing, as if she herself had committed her victim’s crimes. On the many occasions when she couldn’t bring herself to kill, Bourbon had let her take his own blood. Then, when alternate sources had become more available, Urs was happy in the knowledge that she would never have to kill again.
Vachon hadn’t approved of the blossoming romance between his children. He had wanted Urs for himself. Eventually, he realized there was nothing he could do to change the situation, and it wasn’t long before he purposely found other diversions. Twenty-five years after that, Urs ended the relationship, and Bourbon left.
Bourbon found Camille only thirty years after that. She was beautiful and delicate, as Urs had been, and only a few decades older. Unlike Urs, she was happy with who and what she was. Francois allowed his thoughts to be interrupted as Camille edged closer and placed a calming hand on his back.
“I’m really sorry,” she told him softly.
Vachon sighed, “Getting yourself killed isn’t going to bring them back.”
“I owe her this,” Bourbon said, “Screed too.” Smiling a little at the memory of the old sailor, he continued. “Did he tell you about the last time we saw each other? We met in Las Vegas about a year ago. He had conned some uptight old vampire into paying him to find explosives in the tunnels under Toronto. He must have had at least $5,000.”
“He told me he lost it all in four days.”
Camille looked at the woman with Vachon and smiled. Kat leaned forward, stuck her hand out and said loudly, “I’m Kat, and you are?” The redhead threw a look at the men that let them know which courtesy had been overlooked.
“Camille,” she responded, laughing. “Nice to meet you.”
“Bourbon,” Francois said, bowing slightly.
The two shook hands – Kat didn’t need to touch him to realize that he was one of Vachon’s family. It was one thing to overlook a lie when caught up in a lover’s embrace, but quite another when the lie was right in front of you.
She returned to Vachon’s side, a smile frozen on her face. “Just Urs, huh?”
…A Dish Best Served With Distinction
by Devin Saceur
Following the bout, everyone anxiously moved to tend to their business once more. Devin noted, as he read the faces and body language of those assembled, that the situation was looking ever more grim. Initial alliances had turned to rivalries and even open feuding on various levels. As he looked to his still aching hand, that had only minutes ago managed to realign itself with his
wrist after being removed during his battle with Remy, he realized that he’d also fallen prey to the social collapse inherent to idle time among what would otherwise be warring parties.
Shrugging his shoulders in resignation, he moved over to where Anna and Monique stood, chattering excitedly like mother birds examining a new nest. As he approached, the object of their attentions became clear, and he found himself instantly engaged.
In Monique’s hands rested a hard laminate-sealed Studio di Nudo sketch, one of the first from Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel preparations. “Monique!” he gasped, “where, pray tell, did you manage to obtain this…? You know I have been searching for many, many years.”
“I know,” she managed an awkward smile as he looked over her shoulder at the finely preserved work. “That was, in part, my reason for securing the item to my estate. You and I had many points of…rivalry, shall we say…and it seemed the logical choice to lock this beauty away when the opportunity presented itself.”
He wanted to scoff, badly, at her petty admission, but the sheer beauty of the study captivated him. Without so much as an acknowledgement, he reached out like a mesmerized child to hold the work in his hands. A faint expression of asking crossed his features, and to his delight, Monique conceded the piece to his uncharacteristically gentle embrace. “Oh, it is beauty…” he weakly uttered as his index finger traced light circles upon the pure, clear laminate.
The two women grinned to each other as Devin stepped over into the bright bath pouring from a focused overhead light. It was as though the vampire’s aura had changed ever so slightly. Standing in relief against the backdrop of his more common disposition, he appeared as an enraptured angel, staring into the benevolent face of his god.
As they stepped away to give him the full range of available light, a silent telepathic exchange developed between them. “This should prove interesting,” Monique mused.
“You should have told him, maybe…” Anna replied as a devious smile lit up her face and she rested a hand on Monique’s.
“How could I? He was so enthralled with the very prospect that I couldn’t get a word in…”
“But you led him to believe…”
“I allowed him to lead himself. Nothing more.”
Anna giggled as she looked to the stern shoulders of her lover, his head tilted in a strange pose as he ran his fingers along the laminate surface as if reaching for an artifact lying just beyond his reach. She could clearly read from his thoughts that he longed to open the casing. “He has a keen eye, you know.”
“I should hope so, dear. For if not, he will be most embarrassed.”
Both nearly keeled over in laughter as they stepped further away and out into the hall. Behind them, Devin stood firm, intently analyzing the delicious beauty and personality of the figure. It was, if he recalled, the fourth draft in preparation for the Creation of Man fresco. Adam lounged, his right arm nestled gracefully upon a rock as the other stretched out, almost languidly, to touch the glory of God…surrounded by a host of Cherubim. Off to the side, the hand of God could be seen, but only partially so. The area seemed bleached by time and the cuts of the pencil ended at the tattered edge of the page.
He turned the casing over and over in his hands, examining the finely brushed vellum and tracing the worn edges. The thought of probing for inconsistencies was the furthest from his mind, as he knew well of Monique’s wealth and resourcefulness. She had certainly found this great work, and out of spite for him had shoved it away, probably deep in her dusty collection…never to be seen
But somehow, Fate had brought them together again and through the circumstances, he’d managed to partially iron out the old resentments. Perhaps reconciliation was at hand and he could profit from it. A wide smile set him into motion and he briskly strutted out of the room and down the hall, certain of himself and his goal.
“Mon…?” he chittered, floating into the kitchen on a portable cloud. “I am, of course, most impressed with your acquisition. In fact, I am more than a little envious.”
Monique didn’t need to look to Anna. All was being communicated in thought. Each laugh stifled as it begged to rise to the surface, they nonetheless allowed themselves small smiles, which Devin seemed to draw no meaning from. Stirring her cup of Oolong, Monique looked absently to the table. “You really shouldn’t be, Devin. ‘Tis but a trifle. I must apologize for having kept it interred for so long amid my other objects of little personal affection.”
Devin shook his hand in the air before him. “Oh no, no…not at all. Your reasons are understandable,” he tilted his head slightly, as though trying to choke back the inevitable follow-up, “if a bit…beneath you.”
Monique took a quick sip from her tea and sat down to the table. “Perhaps you’re right. We both said and did many things during those years that brought us low.” She seemed distant, pulled back in time to the days of their love, and the last days before Maman’s death. A sharp edge rose to her face, but quickly died back as she let loose another carefully checked smile. “Contemptible things. But nonetheless, we must forgive and forget…yes?”
Moving forward to take a chair across the table from her, Devin maintained a solemn but graceful poise and demeanor. “Absolutely, ami.” He was watching the moment fade into recollection…an unfavorable set of conditions for his present aim. “But let us not dwell on such things. We are here, now. Both of us are doing well by ourselves.”
Anna wanted terribly to jump from her seated position on the counter, shake her lover by the lapels of his long coat, and command him to speak his mind immediately. It was clear to each of them where he was leading, but the jabbering harlequin just…wouldn’t…get…to…the…point!
She knew the end result all too clearly. Nonetheless, this simple and yet grand play between the two former lovers had an oddly amusing quality to it, and Anna intended to watch it pan out, even to the chagrin of the man she loved. Such simple and harmless moments of revenge come few and far between. They must be appreciated when they arrive. In Anna’s estimation, Monique had earned it.
So she let Devin prattle on, weaving his way through one fond memory after another, calling up days of mirth and adventure in the late-night Parisian streets and taverns…of times spent in the company of their old jester friend Flavio, an insane vampire who had met with a suitably comedic end in the jaws of a crocodile on the banks of the Nile in Al Fayyam…and of the many evenings of “collections” along the Mississipi River plantations when it seemed that one party led into the next, as did the killings…
When Devin finally noted a favorable shift in the air, with Monique seeming more open to whatever he might say, he proceeded to bargaining mode. He gently ran his fingers over the laminate, obviously anxious to go beyond it with each lingering touch. “Monique. Have you ever considered the value of this work? You have stated its insignificance to you, but I can assure you that others will appreciate its beauty.”
Exuding the aura of a skeptical matriarch, Monique shifted ever so slightly in her chair, holding her cooling cup of tea in a pristine, ivory hand. “Others such as yourself, I presume?”
Devin huffed in an exaggerated manner, his hands coming up to brush gently down the breasts of his coat. “Well, you know of my affinity for Renaissance art, of course.”
“And as I am expressing obvious interest in this piece, you are undoubtedly aware that I intend to support the interest with an offer.”
“I would expect nothing less of you, Devin. Your fervor for the acquisition of art antiquities rivals even that of the national museums. I am actually amazed that you have never staged a pilfering of the Musée du Louvre.”
“Actually,” Devin grinned as he withdrew a cigarette from his breast pocket, “I once managed to secure a trivial item from Brueghel’s early works out of our national gallery. A sketch…but a magnificent specimen nonetheless. Give me time, Mon, and I will someday arrange a larger take.”
The mask fell momentarily and Monique let out a healthy laugh. “So nothing is beyond the grasp of the Boy Wonder…”
“I pray not. Which brings me back to this piece.” He tugged long from the cigarette, weighing in his mind how far he was willing to go, should she press. “What price would satisfy your requirements for sale?”
Monique leaned lazily across the table, resting her beautiful hand upon his for a brief moment before sliding the work over to herself. “I’m not sure, actually. It is quite a handsome image, though I am not an adequate judge of art. What are you willing to pay?”
“One-hundred thousand.” He said plainly, without hesitation.
“Oh, indeed.” Monique shot a glance to Anna, who gave nothing in return but a thought: “You are wicked…,” to which Monique responded: “so is he.”
Devin tried to subdue his enthusiasm, but it was quickly overwhelming him. “Do we have a deal, Mon?”
“I think not.” She set her cup on the table and ran her hand gingerly over the surface of the casing. “Given the haste of your response, I am led to believe that this object is worth far more. Admittedly, my knowledge of the market for such works is scant, but I will not let you simply walk away with it…laughing at my folly as you trot off to sell it at some ridiculous profit. Try again.”
“But I’m not going to sell it at all. You know me. My collection is mine alone. No bids taken.”
“If you are still interested, I would suggest you present a more realistic offer.”
“Fine. Name your price. I will give it quick and fair consideration.”
“What?!” He fell back in his chair and ran it over in his mind, tugging strongly on the cigarette until it singed his fingers. “It is but a single piece, Mon. It is NOT the Codex Leicester!”
“No it is not. But it IS a quality piece…and even I am versed enough to know that the Codex sold for over thirty million to one William Gates of Microsoft Corporation. Surely you can part with a measly one million for the privilege of owning the work of an even more exquisite artist.”
“That point is open to debate…”
“Come now, Devin. You are not exactly living at poverty level. So surrender up the meager sum, like a serious collector, and then you may drool at your leisure upon this glorious item.”
Anna burst into laughter at the remark, nearly falling from her perch atop the counter. Noting the look of irritation on Devin’s face was all that kept her from carrying on. She choked back another laugh and set to pouring herself more coffee.
After a moment spent absently hammering his fingers on the table, Devin smiled generously and moved to Monique’s laptop, which sat atop the far counter in silent amusement with itself at the dancing, pulsating geometric screen saver patterns trailing across the screen. “Francs, I presume?”
“Dollars, Devin. American dollars.”
He grimaced as his fingers skipped across the keyboard, transferring the sum from his accounts with a methodical precision …unwilling to even think on the matter any further. After a few minutes of waiting …waiting …waiting for the transmission to go through the ponderously slow Internet connection, he turned back to the table and snatched up the piece. “Deal. Your funds should be updated…”
“…No later than two o’clock tomorrow afternoon. I know, darling. It was…a pleasure.”
Devin smirked. “I’m sure. Now, if you ladies will excuse me,” He moved over to plant a slow, gentle kiss on Anna’s lips. “I have some admiring to do…”
With that, he exited, awkwardly pouring hot water into a cup and a snagging a canister of Earl Grey loose-leaf on his way out.
Anna looked to Monique in utter shock. “Oh…my…God,” she mouthed, a silly smile rapidly consuming her face. Her thoughts communicated the rest. “Who did you say that was again?”
“Pierre Larmand,” Monique giggled, nearly spilling her tea down the front of her dress. “Quite an accomplished artist in his own right, and a great admirer of Michelangelo…but NOT ‘the real thing’. That work was part of Pierre’s early drawings, when he was attempting to gain a better understanding of the human form. He chose the Sistine Chapel studies as a point of reference. Very good
emulation, I might add. But if Devin’s eye had been as sharp as his greed, he would have noticed that the hand of God was not in the original work by the Master. Pierre added it as an afterthought.”
“I can’t believe you actually allowed the deal to go through…”
Monique put a soft hand to Anna’s shoulder as she relayed her next thought. “My dear…that man owes me far more than he will ever admit to. Perhaps not in money…but money will do. He may never even realize the deception, but if he does, let him rant and howl his way into acceptance. For I can assure you, he is smart enough to realize just how fortunate he is that I’m willing to exact
my revenge in such a harmless manner. His bank account will survive.”
I Will Remember You
Angelique had fallen ominously silent as LaCroix and Michael dragged her to her room, Micah followed behind, looking for something as they got her into her room.
Angelique shook off Michael and LaCroix and glared at them. “How dare you?” Her voice was low, sibilant. “How dare you drag me off like a common street walker.”
“It was time to end it.” Michael stood his ground, his face an impassive mask.
“I should have killed her.”
Michael blinked, then took a breath before answering. “What good would that have been to the mission?”
“He’s right.” LaCroix stood to one side of Michael. “She does have skills that are needed.”
“Operations might interpret your tantrum as a weakness.” Michael folded his hands in front of his coat. “I don’t think you want that.”
Micah came in from the bathroom, frowning.
Angelique watched as he approached, her face cracking out of the furious mask. “Micah,” she breathed as she walked over to him. Everything else was forgotten as she silently thanked Isis for his safe return.
He stopped, the frown deepening as he went on one knee. “My queen,” he whispered as he bowed his head, his dark hair falling over his face like a silken waterfall.
“No, Micah, it’s your sister.” She bent to look at him, tilting his face up with her hand. He looked as whole as the last time she had seen him in Elysian Fields. “You look well, so well considering–” His eyes were curiously glassy, not quite focused and so much older than they had been a few weeks ago. The fire was gone, leaving a dull onyx emptiness.
“Considering LaCroix’s sick daughter’s abuse?” He showed Angelique the Ankh around his neck. “This saved me.”
Angelique let the silver pendant lay in her palm as she looked at it. “It looks just like mother’s,” she breathed as she stroked it with a trembling finger.
“It is, she came to me in a dream.” He looked at her, then ran one palm over her smooth head. “Remember how she used to sit and tell you stories as the slaves smoothed your head?” He ran a knuckle across her cheek “I used to think you were the most beautiful creature in all of Egypt, besides mother.”
Pink tears spilled out of her eyes. “Micah, Oh Micah, I’m so glad to see you.” She pressed her lips to his forehead.
He buried his face in her neck and closed his eyes. “Hanna set me free. She’s going to die.” A single tear wet her shoulder as he rested for a moment.
“How touching.” LaCroix’s voice shattered the moment. “I have other things to see to.” He brushed past the statue still Michael and left the room.
Micah watched LaCroix go, rage filled eyes burning into the elder vampire’s back. “He’s going to pay for what happened to me.” He growled. “And so is that Methos for helping to insult my sister so.”
Angelique could see a glint of madness and it frightened her more than she could admit to herself. “It is nothing. Methos was taken under the Irish witches spell, that all.”
“To insult a member of the Royal house of Egypt is punishable with death.” Micah growled.
“We have other duties for now, we have to rescue Detective Schanke’s girl from Divia and August. Do you want her to be treated like you were treated.”
Micah looked at Angelique fear was stark in his face. “Never.” Then he shook himself and stood. He looked around, his eyes stopping on the ever silent Michael.
Michael stared back, any reaction to the information he had just been privy to about the Head of Operations for the Enforcers, carefully hidden.
Micah looked at Angelique. “So what’s Ciarán doing here instead of with Màire?”
Michael either grimaced or smiled, Angelique wasn’t quite sure.
Add It Up
Vachon looked at Kat, unsure of how to react to her comment. He hoped she was kidding.
Camilla both felt and saw the tension building between the other couple. She gently tugged Bourbon away even though he was intent on finishing the conversation with his master. “What?” he demanded, unaware of the situation.
The point Kat was making was moot between vampire lovers – she knew it, yet couldn’t stop herself. Lying was an impossibility; the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, was in the blood. Vachon could no more lie to her than she could to him. So why was she acting like a jealous mortal?
Javier wondered the same thing. He knew she understood what he had meant the night of Urs’ death. Urs was the only vampire he felt protective of, the only one he had brought across solely as a means to save her from pain. There had been others, but they had been companions, lovers and friends. With Urs he actually felt the title of father. Javier saw Kat’s hesitation and waited for her to go on.
She knew why she was on the verge of making an ass of herself…up until this moment, Kat had had Vachon to herself. All of his past loves and lovers were either dead or otherwise occupied. His attraction to Tracy Vetter had never concerned Kat, either. She knew that Vachon’s interest in the girl had died when she did.
It was obvious that she wanted to keep the feeling of security as long as possible and that she didn’t want anything to interfere with her first vampire relationship. But it would be absurd to let Bourbon, a rebellious young vampire, rile her to feelings that were alien to her. She released the tension in her shoulders and sighed deeply.
“You know what?” Kat said, smiling.
Vachon raised an eyebrow in response.
“Nevermind,” she said, laughing at her own stupidity.
Payback’s a B**ch
“Micah, meet Michael Samuelle, my liaison from Section One.”
“Damn, that’s scary.” Micah walked closer to the stone-faced mortal. “He’s a dead ringer.”
Michael’s mouth twitched then settled into a thin line. He tilted his head up a bit to look Micah in the eye. “You need to be debriefed.”
“So I do,” Micah turned and looked at his sister, a sly grin on his face. “French? What is it with you and French guys? LaCroix…no wait he’s Roman… Then Nick…but that was a few hundred years ago.”
“Michael is here in a professional manner only.” But the power in his blood was drawing her like a filing to a magnet. It was there, under his iceman exterior, a dull pulse of electric fire.
Michael watched her for a moment, like he was reading a resting great cat. “I will help you debrief.” His eyes flickered with heat, then banked like chips of green ice. “30 minutes, in the basement.” It wasn’t a question.
“Yes, and inform the others that the big briefing will be pushed back two hours to reevaluate the mission profile.”
Michael nodded and left.
“Well, well, my sisters been busy, hasn’t she?” Micah pulled out his sword and swung it. It wasn’t the scimitar he was carrying earlier this month, it was an ancient Egyptian broadsword, gold plated and etched with Hieroglyphics. She recognized the sword from when he had been pharaoh. It had been in a trunk left behind in airport storage.
“Oversight wants me to take Operations out.”
“Have fun. I have to find a certain immortal with a yellow streak.” Micah was gone before Angelique could try to dissuade him.
She muttered an ancient curse in Egyptian as she rushed to find Duncan.
LaCroix walked into Màire’s room, and knocked on the bathroom door.
Màire sighed and put her head in her hands. It looked like she would have to sit through one more lecture.
Methos noticed her change in posture. “What’s wrong?” he asked.
“LaCroix is here,” she whispered, “and he’s furious. I can sense it.”
Methos watched as her face became drawn. “You may as well open it,” she said. “There’s no putting this off.”
“You really didn’t think this through, did you?” he asked.
Màire shrugged. Methos stood and opened the door. LaCroix took a step inside; his eyes focused on his daughter in the tub.
“I’ll leave you two alone,” Methos stepped into the bedroom.
LaCroix and Màire stared at each other a moment.
“A word, my dear,” LaCroix began quietly.
In a strange way this made Màire worry all the more. She knew when her master was upset, he quieter he got, the more dangerous the situation was.
LaCroix continued, “I had no idea you were so talented with a pair of scissors.” He sat down on the closed toilet seat and handed Màire another towel.
“Do we really have to go through this?” Màire asked as she stood in the tub. “Angelique plots against me. She takes the one man that I loved then away from me. Why can’t I have my revenge?”
LaCroix’s eyes became red and he hissed. “A woman who plots such revenge keeps her own wounds green. How many times I have spoke of this to you. Who do you think I was speaking to that night? Of course what am I to expect. Your entire existence has been about revenge. Revenge on your family for allowing your cousins to have sport with you. Revenge on Witter for Siona, and now revenge on Angelique, even though you know your years with Ciarán were numbered and the two of you have played out this scene
1,000 times before.” His voice raised for a moment as he stared at her. “It’s always about you isn’t it?”
Màire was about to turn to walk out the door. She angrily bit her lower lip to keep from responding to his verbal baiting.
“Don’t you dare walk out,” her master hissed. “Without me, you would have been nothing. A mere Hibernian fool who would have died at her family’s hands. Now, because of you, your lover will have to fight for some little joke of yours that you were wholly responsible for and will die at Micah’s hand.”
Màire sniffed and stared back at her master. “Are you done berating me? I thought you saved this abuse for Nicholas.”
LaCroix rushed to her side and hissed into her ear. “Don’t tempt me, Mael Muire. Your life was nothing. I should have never brought you across.” He turned and started out of the room
“You brought me across for your own reasons,” said Màire. “I remember you had a falling out with Angelique.” Màire turned and hissed at him in return. “You couldn’t care less that your foster daughter was tortured.”
She turned and walked past him. “Where do you think you’re going?” LaCroix hissed. “We aren’t done discussing your childish behavior yet.”
“What do you care?” She left and headed for the staircase. Hearing a clang of metal she flew out the door.
LaCroix watched her for a moment, his fury abated. He began to follow her downstairs.
Duncan paused, his sandwich halfway to his mouth. “Angelique?” He was still startled by the stark beauty of her newly shaven head.
“Micah has gone after Methos.”
The sandwich was forgotten as he started toward the door; Sukh was left gaping like a fish for a moment before running off.
Gilchrist came flying around a corner and skidded to a halt in front of Sukh. The MacCousin was right behind him, she slid into his back with a muffled thump.
“Micah’s gone after Methos.”
“Bullocks! Which way did he go?” Gilchrist swung his head around at the sound of metal striking metal.
“Too late,” MacCousin breathed as Micah came into sight and swung his Egyptian sword at Methos. Methos blocked the swing and went on the defensive.
“Oh man, this is not good.” Sukh muttered as Angelique and Duncan appeared in the opposite end of the hallway.
“Micah!” Duncan called. “Don’t do this!”
Micah turned and looked at Duncan, his lips curled into a vicious hiss, his eyes endless rage.
“Do something!” Angelique hissed.
“I canna,” Duncan watched Gilchrist on the other end of the battle getting the same response as he did. The two immortals on the sidelines exchanged sorrowful looks, knowing it was too late.
“One the battle has been engaged, no other immortal may interfere.”
“Oh Isis, Micah will take his head.”
The metal clanged against metal, sparks flew. As the WARriors looked on in horror, Màire rushed downstairs, still wet from her recent shower. LaCroix followed her in a more dignified manner.
Màire stopped with the rest of the WARriors and then began nervously pacing about. The two Immortals continued across. Micah took another set of swings at Methos. The impact nearly threw Methos into a wall. He managed to get back up and ducked another one of Micah’s blows. Methos saw Micah’s eyes glaze over momentarily.
“You’ll never have a chance to humiliate my sister again,” Micah growled, at Methos’s lunge.
Màire looked up from the floor. “Micah,” she began, “I did it all.”
“As if that matters now. He still knew,” Micah turned back to cutting his opponent’s defenses down. Micah knocked Methos over with the sheer force of the next thrust.
Methos looked up to see Micah standing over him, the cold steel of the Egyptian blade rested against his neck. Micah paused.
“If you’re going to do this, do it quickly,” Methos told him.
Micah tilted his head to look down at him. He raised the blade and looked over his shoulder. Many of the WARriors had turned away. Màire had her hands over her eyes and had turned to the wall. The blade fell back and the flat of the sword, touched Methos’s neck, his eyes were still clenched shut.
His eyes blinked open to see Micah offering a hand.
“Don’t ever do anything like that to Angelique again,” said Micah quietly. “I don’t need to warn you what will happen if you insult my sister, and as difficult as it is, please don’t let Màire do anything like this again.”
“I don’t know if I can promise that,” Methos looked at Micah warily. Something was definitely off about him.
“You can turn around and uncover your eyes, Màire,” LaCroix tapped his daughter on the shoulder as he watched Angelique and Micah join each other in the middle of the room.
LaCroix turned away and then passed her a handkerchief, noting small dots of tears on her lower eyelashes.
“Thank you,” she murmured, hurrying away into the shadows. She hated to let people see her cry.
The WARriors surrounded Micah and Angelique. Then Micah pulled away from the others, seeing Màire begin back upstairs.
He followed her. “Màire,” he called. She stopped in the hallway. She turned; a touch of fear graced her. Methos was right; Micah’s eyes were glassy. “Yes,” she said quietly.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you scared before,” Micah rested against the wall. “Except for the time you found a cobra in your bed. Maybe it’s just – It’s been awhile, but it’s kind of entertaining. You have my warning. I know better to expect an apology from you. Behave yourself. Although I’m sure LaCroix has been severe enough with you.”
Màire nodded her head ever so slightly. Then she looked up and met his eyes. “I’m sure your sister will have her revenge.”
Micah nodded and turned away, passing Methos in the hall.
“I hope she was worth nearly losing your head,” he murmured in passing.
Going Slightly Mad
“Well, that was entertaining.” Bourbon said with a wide grin as the room began to clear.
Camille glared at him. “That was awful.”
“Oh come now, cherie. He didn’t take his head.”
“No. He didn’t. It was still not an easy thing to watch.”
He leaned over and kissed her on the forehead. “What could you have watched with your eyes closed?”
“I didn’t think you noticed,” she said, a little smile tugging playfully at the corners of her mouth.
They each felt the hand that landed on their shoulders as a blonde head appeared between theirs. “What a fight, huh?”
Francois spun around. “Gunther, you yellow bastard. Where have you been, hiding in the cemetery?”
“No, but a little caution never hurt anyone. You would do well to remember that. Have you forgotten Bulgaria?”
“Do I need to be reminded of that?” He rolled his eyes as his friend continued.
“That angry mob staked me!” It was clearly a not a pleasant memory for the immortal. He and Bourbon had been marked as vampires and left out in the open to greet the sun.
“They didn’t exactly welcome me into their family, either. The wood didn’t harm <you>. I’m just lucky they missed my heart.”
“But they staked me like a common bloodsucker. And, if you recall, had I not given you my blood, you never would have made it to shelter before sun rise.”
“Had you not started that fight in the tavern, we would never have been in that situation.”
“I wasn’t the one who bared my fangs and growled like an animal in front of half the damned town!”
“I got hit with a chair. Do you have any idea how much it hurts to have splinters in your head?”
Gunther only laughed. “Serves you right.”
Camille was thoroughly amused by the friendly bantering. She had, of course, heard the entire story on several occasions, but it was still funny to hear them go on about it. She had known Gunther Hardraade for almost as long as she had known Bourbon. The immortal had quickly become a good friend. He was the only one of his kind she had met.
“Given what just happened, it would probably be in my best interest to return to Seattle.”
“You don’t have to go.” Camille sounded almost disappointed as she reached out and laid a hand on his arm.
He smiled at her and covered her hand with his own. “There’s too much buzzing going on here.”
She slid her hand down his arm until they no longer touched. “I think there’s some kind of truce among the immortals here.”
“Just don’t get on anyone’s bad side, and you’ll be fine.” The vampire informed him. “Of course with your penchant for irritating people… Well, there is holy ground nearby.”
“Do not press me, my friend.” His tone was serious. He’d had enough of his friend’s casual insults. “You have seen me fight. I did not live to be older than your master by running away, and you know that I have not spent my life hiding on holy ground.”
“Touchy, aren’t we?”
“Mind your tongue, or you’ll find yourself enjoying the sunshine.”
“Then where would that leave mon cher Camille?” Bourbon asked as he caught her eye and traced the line of her jaw with his fingers.
Gunther suddenly grabbed her in a fierce hug. “Don’t worry about the lovely Camille. I shall care for her.”
“I don’t need to be cared for. And how could you protect me during the day?” she inquired with a coy little smile.
“I would not leave your side.”
She laughed and broke from the embrace. Gunther was always a terrible flirt, but she enjoyed the attention.
“And what makes you think she would share your bed?” Bourbon questioned.
“What makes you think she has not done so already?”
With a cocky grin, he answered. “You’re not her type.”
Still a Little Off
by Suhk and Heather
Methos watched Micah stalk away and rubbed his neck. The bruise from the flat edge of the sword was fading.
Twenty minutes later, Micah, Duncan and Gilchrist felt the pulses of a quickening. They charged outside to find Micah on his knees in the midst of the quickening. He was on the edge of the Cemetery, where the holy ground stopped.
They watched in shock as Micah absorbed the power of the masseuse.
“Happy?” Duncan looked at Methos. “He died for Màire’s little stunt, which you helped her pull off.”
“Sorrier that you’ll ever know.”
“My word, that was incredible.” They whirled to find Giles watching in stunned fascination.
“This goes no further, Mr. Giles, or you could be in danger.” Duncan warned the Slayer’s watcher.
“I understand. But it was an incredible show.” Giles nodded to the other immortals as he went back inside.
“Well, his being a watcher will make it easier for him to find out what it was he saw.” Methos frowned at the other two.
“Great!” Duncan snorted. “I hope you can keep Màire in control, before more innocents die.” He ground out as he left, Gilchrist shot Methos a sad glance as he turned and followed Duncan toward the chateau.
“Hello mate, having a bit of a problem?” a blonde young man in a leather trench coat watched as Micah got to shaky feet and stalked toward the cemetery.
“Who are you?” Methos didn’t like the vibes this one was giving off.
“Spike.” He pulled a cigarette out and stuck it in his mouth, then pulled out a pack of matches. “I want to see the slayer.” He lit the match and sucked the cigarette to life. “I want to get that nutty singer out of the way.” He blew out a column of smoke. “He’s taking up too much of my Dru’s time, and I don’t like that.”
Methos sighed. “Follow me.”
Oh What a Lucky Man He Was
after the fight, before/during Micah and Methos
“I’m getting a little hungry,” she commented, straightening the hem of her borrowed T-shirt. She tucked her head, brought her right shoulder close and took a deep breath, trying to cleanse her mind with the fading scent of moth balls.
Vachon scanned the room for some nonliving nourishment. Much of the crowd had dispersed – separating along battle lines or betting lines – although a mixed group of humans, vampires and immortals still milled about. How had the rescue party grown so big, he wondered? Vachon didn’t recognize half of these people. He turned to Kat and said, “I’ll get a bottle and we can find someplace quiet until the meeting.”
The redhead nodded absent-mindedly in his direction until she noticed a Tiffany panel that had somehow survived the brawl between Maire and Angelique. She stared at the small miracle, her brow creasing. The beautiful purples were placed perfectly to depict an overloaded and sprawling grape arbor. Kat was looking but she wasn’t truly seeing the glasswork.
“Just one?” she asked mildly, her eyes still fixed on the artwork across the room.
Javier blinked. He was baffled by her question. One what?
“Just one bottle, Vachon? Are you sure?” Kat swiveled her head slowly, aiming her frown at the conquistador. “Is that your final answer or would you like to get some help from the audience?” Her tone grew increasingly sharp and she placed her hands on her hips.
“What exactly are you talking about?” he asked, in spite of the fact that he was beginning to understand.
Another battle had begun at the far end of the hall, drawing among others Duncan MacLeod. Kat didn’t even flinch when he passed by. Vachon began to feel a little uneasy.
“I know this happened 3 weeks ago,” Kat said, growing more and more agitated and pacing in a tight little area. “I know I should have dealt with this the second I tasted the truth – but damn, I was lost in the moment okay?!”
Kat was obviously speaking her thoughts aloud more than she was addressing Vachon. He leaned against a decorative piece of furniture and waited for his turn to speak, assuming he ever got one. Down the long hallway, some immortal crisis had been averted and Monique’s house-guests began to disband yet again.
“Conveniently forgetting to mention Bourbon and a couple of tarts is technically a lie, true?” She looked at Vachon yet answered her own question immediately. “True. Does that make you a heartless monster like LaCroix? Hardly.”
Javier nodded at the answers and raised a questioning brow at the questions; at least he could look like he was participating in this conversation. The redhead apparently needed to work this out right here, right now – so be it.
She saw his reactions to her argument and purposely chose to not interpret them in a poor light. Kat sighed loudly and stood next to Vachon.
“We both know you lied. Do it again and I’ll eat you alive.” She patted him on the shoulder with good cheer and added, “Let’s go get that bottle of wine.”
Javier shook his head sharply, as if clearing his ears then looked at his companion closely. He would have to assume she meant what she said. He pushed himself away from his leaning spot and accompanied Kat on her search for nourishment.
Methos groaned. “You’re the bloke with the psychotic girlfriend. That creature knocked me for a good loop.”
“Dru, that’s my girl.” Spike stopped at the door leading into the building. “You first.”
“Oh no,” Methos shook his head. “You first. I’m not going to be knocked out by another enraged female anytime soon.”
“Whatever,” Spike yanked open the door, took two steps inside and was knocked flat on his back.
Buffy crouched over him, a stake held in one fist. “Looks like my lucky day.”
“The sun’s down Buff,” Xander commented as he waited for his bud to dust the bleached blonde vampire.
“My night then.” She started to thrust the stake at Spike, only to have her hand halted halfway by the dull edge of Methos’ sword.
“Hey!” Buffy glared at Methos. “He’s my kill.”
“He wants to talk to Angelique.” Methos watched as the rest of the Slayerettes gathered around Buffy looking like a teenage thundercloud.
“I don’t think Angelique would want him to die before he imparted his limited wisdom on her.” LaCroix stepped into view, his arms crossed over his chest.
“Buffy, he’s right. Angelique is quite volatile right now and I don’t want her to have any excuse to get angry at you.” Giles attempted to gently rein in Buffy wit his calm words.
“I can take her.”
“I’d like to see you try,” LaCroix voice had softened dangerously.
“I could take you too, old man,” Buffy sneered at LaCroix.
LaCroix gave a short derisive bark of laughter. “Better than you have tried and failed young lady.” Then he turned and walked down the hall to find Larry.
“Chicken,” she called out to his retreating back.
He stopped, stiffening, and turned. In a flash he was next to Buffy and the Slayer jumped back at the fury in his eyes.
“I don’t like to kill children anymore. Don’t force me to do something I find distasteful,” he told her in a deep growl as he put a hand to her throat and stroked it.
She shivered under his hand and her eyes widened. The stake fell from nerveless fingers, yet she continued to stand her ground. He ran his thumb over her jugular and then withdrew.
“You always taste better after a fight,” he whispered. “Richer, sweeter, like honey and wine.” He leaned closer and pressed a dry kiss to her neck, right under the ear. He closed his eyes and inhaled her bouquet, the scent of a youth her peak, on the edge of womanhood. Then he withdrew and walked off, leaving six stunned people in his wake.
The Gates of Hell Reopen
The Indian woman looked at Operations, then did a quick scan of the room. “Where is Adam?”
“He’s safe, if you cooperate with us.” Operations showed her a small portable video of Adam on a playground.
“Who are you?”
“Hey Birkoff, I think I found that thing you were looking for.” Willow turned as Birkoff leaned over her shoulder. Behind them, Oz thumped against the steel door of the small room, growling.
Birkoff studied the digital image for a moment, then his eyes widened. “Oh shit,” He picked up a cell and dialed.
Nikita’s cell went off, breaking the tense silence after the sword battle.
“We have a problem. I need you down in Comm. Don’t tell Michael.”
“On my way.” She hurried off before anyone would notice her missing.
“What’s up?” Nikita came up behind Birkoff and Willow.
“This.” Birkoff punched a few keys and the video feed he was getting from Section One was on the big wall screen.
“Oh God.” Nikita watched as Sections told Elena about Michael’s faked death and his involvement with the plot to kill her father. “He forgot to mention he was the mastermind, not Michael,” Nikita muttered.
Angelique and Michael appeared at the stairs. Birkoff shut the big picture down. Michael turned to Birkoff. “Turn it back on,” His voice was quiet.
Birkoff turned to look at Nikita. Michael was behind them, and punched the key to bring back the white room video.
“Who has Adam?” Michael asked as he watched Operations compromise his entire life at Section One.
“We don’t know,” Nikita looked at Michael as he closed his eyes.
“Find him, Birkoff.” Michael turned and looked at Angelique, his eyes flat, his face blank. “The profile is being changed. The priority has been changed for the mission.”
Ciarán pulled Nikita to the side after the video showing Operation’s further treachery against his operatives.
“Drink?” he asked with a smile. “We both need to get away from all this.”
Nikita looked at Michael across the room a look of determined ice-cold fury lay underneath his handsome features.
“If anyone needs a drink, its Michael,” murmured Ciarán, following her gaze. “However, after the results of Màire’s escapade I need a drink”. He pulled Nikita away as she began to voice a protest.
“We should really help with the mission profile,” objected Nikita.
Ciarán smiled a most un-Michael grin. “We have a few hours before the big meeting. I need to get away from here to think straight. I’m leaving regardless, but I still would like to buy you a drink.” He leaned into the wall, looking into her eyes.
Nikita smiled for a moment, unlike his look-alike, this man knew how to charm.
“Please,” Ciarán tilted his head for a moment his smile nearly disappeared. “Before something else blows up?” He leaned in closer.
Nikita smiled, his cold fingertips slid down her left cheekbone. “Where to then?” she asked.
Ciarán and Nikita walked down to his Porsche. Ciarán grumbled to himself in Gaelic as he opened the unlocked driver’s side door about how some ex-wives were far too much trouble to be concerned with. Nikita opened the other door and sat down, closing the door behind her.
Ciarán and Nikita looked at each a second then they both jumped out of the car.
“What the hell died in there?” Nikita gasped for breath.
Ciarán grimaced and then looked up to the second story windows.
Màire had been staring out at the stars, drumming her fingers against the window frame. She had not seen Methos since the Micah killed that unfortunate masseuse. At the very least there was an apology in order.
A glance into the window itself showed her worried reflection. She then glanced down at her damp clothing. She sighed. Time to change again. She turned to her boxes and she noticed two small figures by Ciarán’s Porsche.
Màire shook as Ciarán looked up into her windows, his lips forming the words of a Gaelic obscenity; his eyes glowed into the night. Màire laughed and then started to wheeze as Ciarán’s gaze burned across the lawn. She began to shake and tears formed at her eyes. She continued shaking for over three minutes.
Nikita watched the two ancients stare at each other in silence. One shaking in furor and the other shaking in utter glee.
Ciarán snarled and turned back to her. “That witch is going to pay for the fumigation and I’m going to start adding things to her drinks so she’ll behave.”
His face became calm in thought again. “There’s a bar inside, why not get a drink there?” He offered Nikita a hand.
Nikita smirked and took his hands, her warm fingers closing around his cold ones.
Natalie and Benton walked down the hallway. Natalie sighed, quietly disgruntled that a perfectly wonderful evening had been interrupted by such chaos. First that catfight, then the battle between the Immortals, now a meeting. She straightened, thinking of Jenny and Michael’s young son, but there was an hour for the meeting. She glanced over to Benton as they passed by an empty storage closet; she grabbed him and ran for the closet.
“Natalie, what are you…?” Natalie silenced Benton with a deep kiss, closing the door behind her.
“There’s plenty of time,” Natalie practically pulled the button’s off Ben’s shirt. “Just uhm…leave your hat on this time.”
“Whatever you say, ma’am,” Ben smiled.
“What the hell is that?” Cordy grumbled as she and Buffy walked down the hallway. Xander hung behind a moment hearing a great deal of coughing echoing in a room nearby all the thumping.
He opened the door to see Màire coughing and shaking.
“You okay?” he asked.
Màire turned and nodded, still coughing. She sighed. “Sorry, I got carried away,” she smirked at Xander. “I do so love annoying Ciarán.”
Xander nodded noting the still wet velvet dress. Màire noted the stare and sniffed the air. “Someone at least is having some fun. Now if you don’t mind, I need to get ready. Goodbye…uhm…” She had turned to pick up some boxes.
“Xander,” piped up Xander, as he picked up the last box and handed it to her.
“Thanks, Xander,” replied Màire, wondering to herself if it was teenage boy lust that permeated the hallways or just mortal lust. She heard the rhythmic thumping and snorted to herself. She turned back to her surprise guest. “Bye, Xander,” she said, pushing him out.
She pulled out a pair of leather pants out of a box.
The thumping continued down the hallway, bringing forth many more WARriors.
Sukh and Duncan wandered by. Sukh grinned, “I want in there next,” she giggled.
A few minutes later, MacCousin stumbled down the hallway under a large mound of books and posters. She grumbled to herself about semi-useless Immortals who had left when they were needed to be pack mules. It was the natural order of things after all. She rolled her eyes at the sounds emanating from the closet and turned away.
Trapper and Nick walked by the closet. Trapper giggled at the sounds. Nick stopped for a moment and paused, he grabbed the door and opened it.
“Wait, Nick,” protested Trapper.
Benton turned around as the door opened. He and Nick stared at each other horrified for what seemed like several minutes. Their jaws slackened. Benton was in his long johns and hat and Natalie was even less decent.
“Nat?” queried Nick, semi-horrified.
Trapper closed the door before anyone else could say anything and started giggling again. In a few seconds Nick joined her and they continued laughing down the hallway shaking their heads.
“I guess she got over you,” Trapper said as they began downstairs.
The thumping paused and then started again.
Màire walked out of the room and smirked as she walked down the hallway.
“Oh, get a hotel room,” she chortled.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There are too many people in this place for me to feel safe.”
Kat stepped through the doors of the lounge area, into the darker, more intimate surroundings. Walking beside her, Vachon steered her to a private pair of chairs near the farthest wall and sat down. The redhead followed suit.
Easing the velvet drape beside her away from the window, she noticed an electrical glow briefly illuminate the trees on the outskirts of Monique’s property. Kat recognized that phenomenon, even though it had been almost two centuries since she’d seen it last; Somewhere outside an Immortal had been relieved of his head.
“All we need is one psycho with a relatively keen eye and we’re toast.” She let the curtain fall back into place.
People were beginning to fill the small room – vampires, immortals, humans – Kat was having a hard time comprehending the mix. She was glad she had been broken in to this reality at the Raven, otherwise she would be miles from here, solely for self-preservation. Eight hundred years of vampire avoidance had become habit and it was tiring for Kat to be on guard all the time. In her world, she was the only predator, so she slept easily during the day. Here, enemies were cordial and all the rules Kat thought she understood went right out the window.
Noticing the bartender was busy with other guests, Vachon went to the bar and sneaked an open bottle off the nearest tray. When he returned, Kat was smiling. “You do that a lot, huh?” she joked.
“I can take it back…” he taunted, pulling the bottle away from her outstretched hand and stepping backward.
“No no, that’s okay!” she laughed. “This isn’t a business establishment, this is a home,” she reasoned. With no glasses available Kat put the bottle to her lips and drank.
“And Monique would want us to help ourselves,” Vachon continued her train of thought before taking the proffered bottle.
“Such class,” Kat said wryly and winked.
The two passed the unknown but tasty vintage back and forth between them in silence. The chalet was bustling with activity and Kat simply wanted to let the energy of the place flow through her. She could sense both Nick and LaCroix some where in the house, and to some extent Trapper. No one in her family was in danger so Kat felt herself relax a bit.
The mission basement
“Where is your brother?” Michael checked his watch and looked at Angelique.
She started to say something as Micah wandered into the underground hive.
‘Sorry, I got caught up.” Micah flipped a chair around and straddled it. “So what’s on your mind?”
Angelique sighed. She knew Micah was trying to get Michael’s goat. “Be serious, brother dear, we need to know what we are up against.”
Micah closed up tighter than a nunnery under siege by satyrs. “It’s bad, real bad.”
Angelique captured Micah’s gaze and started to whammy him. “Tell me what we need to do to defeat August and Divia.”
“Too strong…her magic is too black…Hanna…Hanna monster..Hanna will defeat August.” Micah twitched. “Divia is easy…LaCroix must defeat her…then dispose of her for good…must scatter her ashes over long distance.”
“Thank you…we will keep Divia from you..”
“Divia bad…she hurt me…she made me do things…” Micah grimaced and arched shuddered. “Things that girls shouldn’t know about.”
“Micah, listen to me. What Divia did, it was all just a horrible dream–”
“You fell asleep and the smoke from the hotel explosion made you hallucinate the entire Divia thing.”
“We need you to help us find Michael’s son Adam. Can you do that?” Angelique brought him out of the trance.
“So you need me to help make the profile or help Birkoff run Tactical?” Micah asked Michael as the Section operative stared at Angelique like she had sprouted a second head.
“That is a very interesting technique,” Michael commented before turning to Micah. “What I need is for you to assist Birkoff with the setup and equipment check.” He looked at Angelique. “You sister and I will set the profile. Then you, Birkoff and Willow can run a SIM for us.” He turned and watched Willow bustle about for a few moments, the turned back to Micah. “Willow will need to be trained for SIMS.”
Micah stood. “I’m on it.” He moved to where Willow and Birkoff stood over a piece of equipment, checking the programming. Willow smiled at Micah as he joined them.
“We need Nikita and Ciarán for this to be executed properly.”
“Tell me what you have in mind.” Angelique sat at the briefing table, Michael sat next to her.
“I need Ciarán to be me to get into section. He can get to Adam without being killed.” Michael paused for a breath. “Like when he extracted Willow and The MacCousin.”
“Well, let’s find them, then.” Angelique frowned as Larry approached.
“You have a visitor upstairs. I believe you need to greet him ASAP, as Buffy will not be pleased to see this person.”
“I see.” Angelique turned to Michael. “Start the specs for the profile, I’ll find Ciarán and Nikita while I’m upstairs.”
“Fine” Michael nodded then turned on his computer.
Monique stood at the open French doors and stared out into the night. There were so many people, so close by. She shivered as she wrapped her arms around herself. It was a rare moment of privacy and she didn’t want to waste it thinking about all of the lives and unlives that she could sense in her home.
She stepped out onto the balcony of her room, one more silent shadow under the moonlit sky. A flash of movement in the darkness caught her attention, and her eyes narrowed as she searched for it.
A figure detached itself from a stand of trees below and made its way to where the cars were parked in her driveway. The front drive looked like an exclusive car lot, there were so many expensive and unusual vehicles in it. She raised one perfect eyebrow and smirked as she watched the punk trying doors.
“Fool,” she thought to herself as her vision narrowed to a scarlet tunnel.
Without thought, Monique leaped from her balcony, floating to the earth as silently as a raven’s feather. She landed behind the young man, close enough to smell the nervous sweat on him. She placed one small, white hand on his shoulder.
Manuel spun around, his eyes widening as they took in the sight before him: a young woman, pale as the moon, staring at him and smiling. He watched, fascinated as a snake’s prey as her mouth widened to show the long, sharp fangs.
Monique took Manuel in her arms as tenderly as she would a child. With exquisite slowness, she leaned down as if to nuzzle his chin…and tore his throat out.
Dinner was served.
Gunther sat on the leather couch snickering at the pages of the book on this lap. Ignoring the odd looks he was getting from passers by, he was on the verge of laughing out loud when someone cleared her throat beside him. Startled, the immortal leapt to his feet, the copy of Crichten’s “Eaters of the Dead” forgotten.
“Kristen. What the hell are you doing here?” Gunther asked.
“What do you mean, what am I doing here? I’m your watcher. Where else would I be? Nice of you to tell me your were leaving Seattle, by the way.” The young woman responded crossing her arms in front of her chest.
“How did you find me?”
“I have my sources.” At his raised eyebrow, she continued. ” Watchers. You know, you’re not the only immortal in this world.”
The Viking grinned at the way the golden-haired watcher looked at him. “I did notice that. I can hardly walk into a room without feeling it.”
“You certainly chose an interesting place to vacation. Your aren’t planning to take up permanent residence here, are you?”
“Oh I don’t know. It has a fascinating local culture. Wouldn’t you agree?”
“It gives me the creeps.” She rubbed absently at the goose bumps that suddenly appeared on her arms. Something was just not right about New Jerusalem. Of course, Gunther wouldn’t notice. She’d seen the people he hung out with.
“Well if it bothers you so much, you could always go back to Seattle and wait for me there.”
“Nice try.” Kristen said dryly. “No, I think I’ll be staying for a while. I thought you’d be happy to see me.”
“You know I am. It’s just not safe for you to be here.”
“Why not? Gunther, what’s going on?”
The mortal woman knew enough to believe him when he told her she was in danger. At least, he believed she was. Gunther was a little overprotective at times, but he meant well.
The immortal began to pace. What mattered most was Kristen’s safety. She was in more danger than she could know. Gunther wasn’t about to point out every vampire in the area. The last thing he wanted was for her to end up on someone’s evening menu.
Their meeting three years earlier had been an accident. Bourbon had sensed a heartbeat nearby, and found Kristen hidden in the shadows. Even without revealing his true nature, the vampire had still managed to scare her half to death. Gunther felt so bad, he’d caught up with her later to apologize.
He should have just ended all contact with his watcher after that night. That would have been the best thing for them both. There was just something about the vibrant, often head strong woman that attracted him to her. It was a dangerous game for them to play. His last watcher had died under mysterious circumstances. Although they had never admitted to anything, he suspected Bourbon and Camille had something to do with it. Luckily for Kristen, she wasn’t much of a resistor.
The Viking sighed heavily. “I’m not sure myself.” He admitted. “I really don’t have all the details. Just do me a favor?”
“Okay. Sure. What do you want me to do?”
“Go home. Get on the next plane out of here.”
“What? Hey listen, I…”
“Please.” He interrupted. “It will be a lot easier if I don’t have to worry about your safety.”
Kristen’s look softened. “It’s nice that your care about me, but I can’t leave. Where you go, I go. Those are the rules.”
He wanted to say, ‘ To hell with the rules.’ They’d broken enough of them just by being friends.
“I’ve got to meet with another watcher. I’ll see you later. Okay?”
He nodded and grabbed her hand as she began to walk away. “Be careful, Kris.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll be fine. I can take care of myself. Besides, I’ve got you watching out for me, and you’re not easy to get rid of.”
“Neither are you, apparently.” He said pulling her into his arms. “I really am glad to see you, but you shouldn’t be here. ”
“And you know why I had to come.”
“I know.” Without breaking his hold on her, the Viking stepped back and looked into her eyes. “Promise me you won’t leave this Chateau without me. You’ll be safe here.”
“I’ve already got a suite at the resort just outside of town. With all the security it’s got, it should be a bank not a hotel.”
“We’ll get your things in the morning. From now on, you only go outside during the day. If you absolutely have to go out after dark, you go nowhere without me.”
“I’m not a child!” The young woman said incredulously. Moving just beyond his reach, she glared at him from behind her glasses. “I don’t need a chaperone, and I don’t take orders from you.”
“Kristen, you are going to have to trust me on this one. If you want to stay alive, you’ll do what I ask.”
She sighed and glanced at her watch. “I’m going to be late if I don’t hurry. You and I are going to have a very long talk when I’m done.”
Gunther smiled. He knew he had won, at least temporarily. “If I’m not here when you get back, wait for me. I’ve got a meeting of my own to attend.”
“I’ll see you later then.”
She wasn’t happy with the immortal trying to control her every move, but until she knew why, she would have to go along with him. After a quick kiss, she headed off to find the other watcher.
Fly Away Home Little Birdy
Jenny sank to her hands and knees, exhausted. She barely lifted her head as the urn rolled away from her and came to rest near the stairs that led upwards, out of the underground dwelling. The screams kept echoing from far behind her. Normally, she would have become panicked, fearful that the others were close behind her again, but she knew that it was just the formation of the caves that allowed the sound to flow for so long.
She tried not to think about the tiny vampire she left behind in her place, but she couldn’t help but to think of everything August had told her about what she had done to Hanna, and what her final plans were. All those that had been killed over the past two months, the past thousand years, all out of the hatred of one for the other. Because one couldn’t understand the need for love, compassion or goodness, and the other couldn’t forget it. Of course, the man between them was part of the cause, and he knew it.
“Perceptive, little one.”
Jenny lifted her head and glanced about her in fright.
“Nothing to fear. I would never harm a child such as yourself.”
The voice was warm, deep and soothing. Jenny didn’t want to listen for the simple fact that it made her think of being home, safe and warm in her bed, while her father was off saving the world from all the bad guys. Tears began to flow down her dirty cheeks.
“Hush now,” the voice soothed. “There will be time for your grief shortly. Now, you must rise, Jenny. Climb the steps before you, and race on your way to the safety of your father’s arms.”
Her eyes glinted across the urn. Now she remembered what August had told her about keeping Jonas bottled up and under control. Poor guy, it must be cramped in there.
“Don’t worry about that now,” his voice answered, as if he was reading her mind.
Of course! He was just dust in there! He could only be talking to her in her own mind!
“Very good. You are clever, which is to our benefit at this moment. On your feet, little one. I shall explain to you along the way.”
She tried rising, and sank back down, her knees too weak to carry her.
Another scream echoed the sound of her knees hitting the dirt.
“There is no more time, Jennifer. Her sacrifice will mean nothing if you do not reach safety. From the moment she freed you from the Prince’s tower, she has paid the price to keep you alive. She hasn’t failed you yet. You must not fail her now.”
The next scream brought Jenny to her feet.
“Good girl. Now let’s go.”
She picked up the urn and muttered, “Pushy creep.” He chuckled lightly, then continued to give orders.
Just at the point where the road through the forest enters the city, a taxi stopped and let a homeless looking girl out. He wasn’t paid, and he didn’t care. He was going home anyway, and he felt sorry for the kid.
She watched the taillights as they disappeared down the street, then headed towards the nearest manhole cover that had a bright yellow “X” spraypainted on it. Marcus may not be home, but he would feel the intrusion into his dwelling.
She walked along the underground dwelling, ignoring the signs of blood on the walls. Jonas had mention what had happened to those that had live here before, what August had done to them because she knew that Hanna gave them value.
She stopped suddenly when she heard a noise up ahead, but the pitiful whimper relaxed her. Walking slowly, watching everything, she approached the form on the ground before her.
“Jenny!?” it, no he, moaned.
“Do I know you?” she asked, backing away a bit.
“The forest. The wolves…” he groaned and pulled his arm to him.
She faintly remembered running from Spike, and a wolf saving her. And there were the Garou in the…no, she wouldn’t remember that. Not right now.
He watched her squeeze her eyes tight, and knew what she was thinking about. It hurt him too, but mostly because he hadn’t been there to help his pack.
“What happened to you?” she asked, kneeling down. He could have killed her before, and he was hurt. And Jonas, with his whispering, told her that Mark was Hanna’s. What he meant, she didn’t want to guess.
“It got me too…what killed them. But Marcus grabbed me before it ate all of me…too bad it doesn’t quit eating…”
She noticed his leg and saw that it had suffered much in the same way the Garou had. It was almost as if the limb was being eaten from the inside, a little at a time. She looked at his face, and grimaced at the pain he had to be in.
“You got away again…”
She nodded slightly. “Hanna freed me.”
He groaned at the name. “She has a nasty habit of doing that…”
Wanting a few moments of quiet reflection to center himself, Bourbon retreated to the solitude of the room where he’d slept the day. There was still nearly an hour before the meeting Vachon told him to attend. Alone in his thoughts, he couldn’t help but see Urs.
Francois had felt her terror and the abrupt loss of their connection. Even if he didn’t want to admit it, he had known that night that she was gone. That had been the real reason he’d come to New Salem.
He had feared this day would come, but always thought Urs would die by her own hand. It seemed only a matter of time, perhaps another few decades, before she walked into the sun. Urs was dead, really dead. No one would have wanted to die the way she had. Had she still wanted to die? Was it something she had welcomed, or fought? The depth of the pain he now felt surprised him.
With a heavy sigh, the vampire sat on the bed and leaned his head against the wall behind him. He closed his eyes as the memories washed over him in waves of emotion. He could almost feel her golden hair and see her gentle, sad, smile.
Swallowing against the lump rising in his throat, Bourbon downed the glass of “Chantal” and refilled it from the bottle at his side. The well-aged cognac that was mixed with the human blood made it a particularly good vintage. Raising the glass in a private toast, his eyes fixed on the crimson fluid.
“Au revoir mon amour. Repos dans la paix, Urs. Je m’ennuierai de tu.”
She wouldn’t have wanted him to take revenge for her death, but he was bound by honor. He hoped she would have understood. Could he have saved her if he’d been there? Probably not. Most likely, he would be dead as well, but what if…?
He had to chase away the ghosts. This was not the time or place to grieve Urs’ loss. He suddenly didn’t feel like being alone anymore. As Francois drained half the glass in a single swallow, there was a soft, hesitant knock on the door.
“Entrez.” He said absently, although he already knew who was there.
Camille opened the door and smiled timidly. “I know you wanted some time to yourself, but I’d hoped you changed your mind.”
She knew without being told that he had. Half a century of sharing blood had forged an interesting bond between them. The resulting bloodlink they now shared was one not unlike that of vampire families. Each was aware of what the other was feeling.
Without waiting for a response, Camille sat beside him, laying her hand on his thigh.
“Are you alright?”
“I’m fine.” He smiled thinly as she brushed back a few errant strands of his long, pale, hair.
“Maybe you should talk to Vachon. Urs and Screed meant a lot to him too, and you are his child.”
“Child?” He laughed at the thought. “Javier Vachon creates companions, not children. No. I told you, I’m fine.”
As if to prove it, Bourbon took her in his arms and kissed her. As he playfully nibbled her neck, she reached behind him and gently removed the tie from his hair. Arching her neck to him as his fangs scraped her skin drawing small drops of blood, she shuddered with pleasure as he slowly licked the wounds. With wild abandon, her hands roamed her lover’s cool, muscular body.
“Perhaps I should cut it,” he murmured as Camille ran her fingers through his silken tresses.
“Don’t you dare.”
There’s a devil waiting outside your door
(How much longer?)
There’s a devil waiting outside your door
It is bucking and braying and pawing at the floor
And he’s howling with pain and crawling up the walls
There’s a devil waiting outside your door
He’s weak with evil and broken by the world
He’s shouting your name and he’s asking for more
There’s a devil waiting outside your door
God, he loved this song! He sang the slow and sultry lyrics to the decimated forest surrounding him. From deep within the woods, cries of unknown horror joined in the crooning, adding a chilling touch to the total effect. Lux made a mental note to incorporate those sounds in the next album – if he lived long enough to record a next album.
He strode purposefully down the highway, his hair blowing about his face in wild, albino strands. The strengthening moonlight allowed Lux to catch furtive movements in the corners of his sight. Things crept and crawled in the blackened, almost liquified forest, but left him untouched. Whatever ‘Jim’ had done to him was apparently keeping the dying creatures in the forest from even noticing him. So much the better.
Lovermaaaaaaaan! he yelled in his best rockstar voice – stopping momentarily to strike a pose.
Since the world began
Till end of time
Take off that dress
I’m coming down
I’m your loverman
Cause I am what I am what I am what I am
Lux had no idea where he was headed, except to find and butcher Sister Kat. “Jim Morrison’s” long range plan was everpresent in his mind, but some things just had to come first. Lux wasn’t sure why he had to walk every where, but for once walking wasn’t pissing him off. Maybe it was some sort of a test, to see if he had the proper amount of respect for It. He didn’t know and he didn’t care – Lux felt great!
The dead feeling inside was fading, as was the creepy talent to see inside of people. Even his face muscles began to loosen up. Hell, he might even be able to smile as Sister Kat bled to death in front of him. Lux was mildly disappointed to be losing the ability to see the reality of a person, though. He would love to be able to turn it on and off at will; It could definitely come in handy.
L is for LOVE, baby
O is for ONLY you that I do
V is for loving VIRTUALLY all that you are
E is for loving almost EVERYTHING that you do
R is for RAPE me
M is for MURDER me
A is for ANSWERING all of my prayers
Rounding a curve on the highway out of town, Lux spotted a scarecrow propped up on the side of the road. At first he blew it off as one of the dying things in the forest, but it seemed to be looking right at him – waiting for him. The closer he got, the less it looked like a scarecrow and the more it looked like a baglady in nasty old clothes.
Still singing, the last letter in the chorus died on his lips, “N is for KNOWING your loverman’s going to be the answer to all of yours….”
It, uh she, had no eyes. There was a big stitched X over each empty socket. Lux looked away, squeezed his eyes shut in an attempt to clear them then looked back at the baglady.
“Sandy?” he whispered. The scarecrow baglady was actually a grungy girl – his grungy girl.
“Hey Ira,” she called happily and stepped out into the road.
“Sandy?” he asked again. How had he mistaken Sandy for a stuffed bag of straw with no eyes? “What are you doing here?”
He looked up and down the deserted road as if anything he might see would explain why his dead girlfriend from high school was here in New ‘Salem.
“Coming to see you, dillweed,” she said happily and slapped him playfully on the arm.
Till the bitter end
While empires burn down
Forever and ever
and ever and ever Amen
I’m your loverman
So help me, baby
So help me
Cause I am what I am what I am what I am
I’ll be your loverman!
Lux scrutinized Sandy for a long moment, waiting for the scarecrow/baglady to come seeping through. When it didn’t, he turned and continued on his journey along the blackened forest road. Brushing her off had become such a habit that he did it now automatically, even though he was pretty damn sure that Sandy was just another fucked up apparition.
Sandy ignored being ignored and skipped a few steps to walk along side him. Something in the woods gurgled in pain.
“You killed me,” she reminded Lux in a chipper voice.
Lux kept moving. “Yeah, so?”
“You killed me and now you’re getting all bent outta shape over this other girl – and you’re gonna kill her.” Sandy kept pace with Lux, her steps bouncy in contrast to his determined stride. She always was too damn peppy.
He refused to look at her. “Again I say, ‘so?'”
“So…” his dead girlfriend said, taking his arm and stopping him in the middle of the road, “you accomplished nothing by killing me and you’ll accomplish nothing by killing her.”
A vision of holding Sandy under the bath water while they were both tripping their brains out flashed briefly through Lux’s mind. She had kept her eyes open the whole time; it had been incredibly unnerving and Lux had dreamed about it quite a few times since that night in high school.
“I got you off my back, didn’t I?” he replied snidely. He pulled his arm free of her tiny grip and stepped away from her. “I thought I had, anyway,” he groused.
“Big deal, Ira,” she retorted, “you offed a pregnant druggy.” Lux shook his head in annoyance and resumed walking. ‘I don’t need this shit,’ he thought to himself.
“Nothing like the easy ones, huh, Mr. ToughGuy?”
He froze momentarily, registering the change in voices. This one was fresher, but just as dead. Lux knew he was being sucked into some mind game and he was letting it get to him.
“I didn’t kill you,” he stated calmly.
“Well, technically, no,” his new companion said, “but you helped.”
Lux didn’t want to turn around and see Marla. Sandy had been a waste of human flesh, so listening to her condemn him had been no big deal, but Marla had been his friend. He hadn’t gone to her funeral last year for the same reason; Marla shouldn’t be dead – couldn’t be dead.
Marla began to sob behind him, replaying the conversation they shared the night before she was killed in a car accident. “I need you Ira…please come over…” her voice cracking through the tears.
“Don’t do this,” he intoned to the woods around him.
“Just come talk to me,” she moaned, following a few feet behind. “Sing me my song, hold my hand, something…” she whimpered, “I need you tonight, Ira, it’s really bad.”
“Don’t DO this!” he yelled at Marla, at New ‘Salem.
“You said you’d come no matter what. You said….” Her voice wound down to nothing.
“I know what I said, Marla, but I had a something to do!” He stopped walking but refused to turn around. “I told you I could come over the next day! I had to go to that goddamn party!” Lux’s voice began to crack with unearthed emotion.
“What the fuck do you want with me?!” he screamed in the night.
Marla stopped crying instantly and sidled up to Lux, causing him to flinch. He gazed at Marla, resigned to seeing her again. She leaned in conspiratorially and said, “Killing Sister Kat is so minor league, Ira. You gotta think big.”
Here I stand
Cause I am what I am what I am what I am
Forgive me, baby
My hands are tied
And I got no choice
No, I got no choice at all
By MacCousin (with an addition by Renie)
Màire walked down the stairs after the snickering Nick and Trapper and paused at a dark doorway. The heady smell of expensive wine, brandy and whisky infused the area like a thick cloud. She sensed Methos moving around upstairs and moving towards the stairs. She wasn’t ready to face him yet. Apologizing to him would be hell. She walked into the comforting room and breathed in.
Màire took a seat by the bar. Colin sighed as she walked in. Yet another of Miss Monique’s guests with a demand. What would this one want? He placed a wineglass in front of her. She licked her lips expectantly.
“Give me something young, saucy and not too smart. Brittany Spears comes to mind.”
Colin poured a small sample and she raised the glass in a silent toast. She gulped down the drink.
“It’ll do,” she murmured. He refilled her glass.
“Brittany Spears???” Xander’s eyes popped open. “Brittany Spears, where?”
“Xander, were you paying attention at all?” asked Giles.
Cordy’s nostrils flared and she shoved the drooling Xander’s arms off the table. Without support, Xander’s chin hit the table.
Ciarán led Nikita to the bar.
“Crieche,” he mumbled, pausing at the door. He could sense Màire.
“What’s the matter?” asked Nikita.
“Nothing,” he said, he began pulling her upstairs. There was a small mini-bar in his room. That would work.
Nikita got a small peek of a woman sitting in the bar, humming to herself.
“I’ve been the wild rover for many a year, and I’ve spent all my money on whisky and beer. An’ now I’ve returned with gold in great store, and I never will play the wild rover no more…”
Màire paused and then continued humming, lowering a finger into the glass of blood and then raised it to her lips.
MacCousin sat at a computer and grinned. This would be perfect for the meeting tonight.
‘Damn that infuriating woman.’ Gunther thought to himself as he strode purposely to the bar.
“Chevas Regal 1971 if you have it.” He said before the bartender could speak.
As the glass was placed before him, the immortal became aware of a very attractive redhead humming at a nearby table. She was sipping a deep red liquid, wine or blood. Judging by her pallor, he guessed it to be a mixture of both. Flashing her a friendly grin, he turned his attention back to the leather drawstring pouch in his coat pocket. The old stones felt cool and smooth against his fingers.
He had come to New Salem to help his friend Bourbon. Gunther cursed his foolishness. How could he have thought Kristen would stay out of it? She had no idea what she had gotten herself involved in.
Bourbon would be happy to whammy her into thinking she was urgently needed in Miami. That wasn’t a bad idea, but only as a last resort. The immortal recognized the need for such manipulation, but he hated to tamper with anyone’s memories, especially hers.
The Viking took a sip from his glass and, with ease brought by centuries of practice; he cleared his mind and prepared to listen to Odin’s runes. They gave him guidance and a feeling of peace during times of hard decisions. He set six stones in a circle in front of him, followed by a seventh in the center.
Drawn by curiosity, Màire stood and edged closer to the bar. It had been quite a while since she had seen these symbols. She knew the man was an immortal. He felt about the right age, and his features were Nordic. Satisfied that he was indeed a Viking, Màire began to interpret the runes.
Gunther felt the vampire approach as she peered over his shoulder.
“Thorn and Eolh.” She observed. Those were the runes of strength and protection. If she was reading it correctly, the problem involved the fear of not being able to protect someone. Interesting.
The immortal looked up, surprised.
“But this,” she continued as she tapped a perfectly manicured nail against the blank stone. It was in one of the two advice positions. “This means you are not meant to know the answer to your question. It’s Wyrd, the rune of fate.”
“Odin’s runes speak to you as well.”
“I’ve learned a few things over the centuries. May I?” she asked staring at a nearby barstool. “I don’t want to interrupt you. I suppose I’m avoiding thoughts of my own.”
Gunther smiled, eyes flashing momentarily to the deep red liquid inside the glass, he turned his eyes back to the vampire and gestured toward the barstool next to him.
Màire sat down and looked at the runes again momentarily.
“I’m Gunther Hardraade,” Gunther placed a warm hand on her cold one. He looked into her eyes for a moment. They glinted back at him like cold pieces of sapphires. It was somewhat discomforting to look into them. She had the appearance of an innocent young woman. The eyes though were hard and steely and seemed to stare at him with knowledge of things both horrible and ancient. They told of a very hard life before and after she became a vampire.
It made him wonder in if in a millennia, Camille would look as cold and hard.
“Màire Moran,” she murmured in reply, relishing the warmth in his hand as well as his eyes. If only vampires could enjoy such warmth on a permanent basis. The Viking noticed her eyes dart to the bar.
“Where did you learn to read runes?” he asked.
Màire kind of shrugged. “I lived in Dublin when the Vikings conquered a great deal of Ireland,” she paused, with a bit of an impish grin. “I don’t suppose you were there.”
“That was a bit before my time,” Gunther couldn’t help laughing a bit. The vampire’s smile widened at his chuckle.
“Yes,” she answered. “A friend of mine taught me the basics, divining from other things was much harder. I guess you could say my aunt taught me divining.” Her face became guarded again.
“Who are you avoiding?” asked Gunther.
“Hmmm?” asked Màire taking another sip.
“You had the look if you were hiding from someone.”
“I don’t give great apologies,” she said. “I imagine you missed much of the fight and aftermath. I didn’t see you betting on the turnout of the fight between Angelique and myself.”
“You want to apologize to Angelique.”
Màire nearly spit out her drink. “Good Gods, no,” she laughed. “A new friend I guess you could say. Although he probably rather stay away from me now.” She turned back to her drink. “I should give him time before the meeting.” She examined the runes again. “However, at least I don’t have to deal with the issues you’re obviously going through. It’s very hard to protect mortals, from what we deal with. They sometimes seem to believe they are as immortal as us.”
Gunther turned back to the runes, “any suggestions?”
Màire smiled at the fair-haired immortal, she didn’t look as old and hard when her face softened in a smile. “Tell her the truth, that’s all you can do at this point,” she said, nodding towards the runes. “Sometimes I think I should take my own advice more often.”
“Kristen,” sighed Gunther, “is stubborn. Sometimes it seems like the truth is never good enough for her.”
“Gunther, in the past…uhm seven centuries, have you known a woman who isn’t?”
“Good point,” he replied.
“If she doesn’t want the truth,” Màire paused for a moment. “If she doesn’t want the truth, you can’t force her to leave. She can only make that decision. You should take it as a compliment that she’s putting her life on the line for you. A mortal has never done that for me. Consider yourself a lucky man.”
“But I don’t want her to put her life on the line,” stated Gunther. “She should go home for her own good.”
“Ahhhh, I see,” Màire purred. “You want her to be a good girl and go home.” She sighed. “You are far too old to underestimate a woman’s determination. It never ceases to amaze me,” she paused taking a sip of her drink. “No matter how old a man is…” she stopped. “Forgive my male-bashing, you just sound an awful lot like Ciarán.”
“And that’s not good,” asked Gunther with a sly grin.
“He means well, he’s just…” Màire stopped. “He’s just a tad overprotective I guess.” She turned back to her drink with a small frown. “So what brought you and her together?” she was tired of thinking about herself.
“She’s my watcher,” answered Gunther.
“Now that, must be an interesting relationship,” mused Màire. “Tell me about it.”
Ciarán poured Nikita a glass of white wine and sat across from her in a chair. “So when did Section One take over your life?” he asked.
“Sorry,” Nikita shook her head with a smile. “It’s still rather unsettling to see Michael’s face on you.”
Ciarán snickered. “Has it ever occurred to you that maybe he has *my* face, Mhurin?”
Nikita’s eyes widened for a moment. She looked like she believed him.
“I was only kidding,” Ciarán looked at her for a moment, concerned. He wondered for a moment what it must be like to have your life dictated by a group that could do nearly anything.
He raised his drink. “Sliante,” he murmured.
Nikita smiled and the glasses clinked.
“I don’t know what to toast to,” she said.
“Us?” Ciarán leaned moved closer to Nikita. A small smile played against his lips. He moved closer to her. His fair a few centimeters from hers. He pulled away, a sensuous playful grin played across his lips.
Nikita shivered slightly. She couldn’t tell if it was from fear or anticipation.
Ciarán leaned toward her again as there was a knock from the door.
“Mr. MacKeracher?” Larry’s voice echoed through the door. “Miss Angelique wishes to see you and Miss Nikita.”
Ciarán ran a hand through his hair and grimaced for a moment. He turned back to Nikita, the small sensual smile returned. He slid a cold finger down Nikita’s neck and paused at a throbbing pulse point.
Nikita released a shaky breath. She felt herself drifting away in Ciarán’s eyes.
“Cinnamon and cloves,” he murmured softly, loving the scents that enveloped this beautiful woman. He stood.
“We better go,” began Ciarán, helping Nikita to her feet. Nikita shook herself out of her trance-like stupor. “Angelique doesn’t like to wait.” He started toward the door.
Nikita watched him warily as they exited the room. She slid a cautious finger over her throat.
Ciarán glanced back at her and grinned. “I behaved,” he said.
“I just don’t like being out of control,” Nikita replied, cautiously.
“Maybe you could tell Kristin that she’s needed in comm. or something?” suggested Màire. She hated the sterility of the computer lab, but it was safer than what would be going on outside. “Besides that, she’ll have several operatives, several vampires, and some of the slayer’s friends to watch her.”
Gunther raised his eyebrows. “That may just work,” he replied.
Better late than Never
LaCroix stopped as Angelique appeared in the doorway of the basement area, dressed in a black patent leather hip length jacket with a wide lapel and black knit cigarette pants. Her head was still smooth, and he remembered when they had first met, and she had worn wigs over that same smooth, bewitching scalp.
She looked at him as she passed and paused as she followed Larry, locking eyes with him. Fury still burned low in them, but the loneliness burned brighter. She still needed him, he was sure of that as he watched her face. Alas, the time wasn’t right just yet, she was distracted by this odd attraction to that mortal Librarian.
Funny, he thought she would be more attracted to the mysterious Michael, the spy from the Covert operations. Perhaps he was too much like Ciarán. Angelique left the room and he stood where he was for a few more minutes, looking for the way to repair the broken bond between and his dark goddess.
Angelique stepped into the drawing room and meshed gazes with Lucien. He looked so hungry the way he was looking at her and she repressed a shiver of pleasure. He missed her, how interesting. Truth be told she missed him too. He knew her better than anyone, always willing to be with her, the attraction explosive at times. What they had went beyond the volcanic they shared in the bed, it was two parts of another coming together.
She wanted it back. But the time wasn’t right yet. She had OT get this mission done, find Jenny and make sure her blood sister Divia was destroyed for eternity.
His eyes, those glacial blue eyes, were so full of longing as she passed, she almost reached out for him. Larry paused and cleared his throat and she turned and followed him, leaving Lucien behind for a few more hours.
“Miss Angelique?” Larry was trying to talk over the pounding on the front door. “This gentleman, claims to be her for you.” He turned on the electronic camera at the front door.
Jet was there, looking quite angry, his long hair queued back.
“Let him in, please.” Angelique stood as the door opened.
“What the hell took so long?” Jet growled as he stepped up to Angelique. He smiled and gave her a hug, then a very, very friendly kiss.
She returned the kiss and the hug then stepped back. “We have a serious problem and I need you to debrief, now.”
“What? No hello?” Jet laughed. Then he sobered. “I heard you have Section One involved.”
“Larry please find Ciarán and Nikita and tell them they are needed at the command post.”
“Yes, Miss Angelique.” Larry nodded and left.
Jet watched the interchange and sobered.
“I do.” Angelique finally answered him and bid him to follow her towards the Mission basement.
“Then it’s really bad then?”
“Yes, Ricze and Missy are out looking at a bombing site. I expect a report in the next two hours. This will take most of out resources.”
“It’s August isn’t it?” They started down the steps.
“Oh man.” Jet looked around at the activity. Birkoff and Micah were watching a large wall screen scroll numbers. A small redhead was at another monitor, punching in commands. Walter was in his spot, wire and other electronic odds and ends on neat piles on his worktable.
Michael was in a separate spot, typing into his computer. He looked up at the new arrivals, then stood.
Jet smiled. “I like.”
Micah looked up and grinned at Jet. Willow called to the immortal and he waved as he went to see what she needed.
Something flung itself at a large metal door and snarled.
“What is that?” Jet asked.
“That’s Oz, Willow’s boyfriend.” She pointed to the redhead. “He’s be fine in a couple of days, he’s a werewolf”
Up to Speed
Michael walked slowly toward Angelique and her new companion. Looked at Jet, anger burning low in his expressionless face, and then turned to Angelique.
“Who is this?”
Angelique turned as the acrid scent of anger surrounded her. Michael stood, in his vampire-like still manner, and waited to have his question answered.
“Michael, this is Jet Chou, he will be helping my enforcers.” Angelique watched as Michael looked at Jet.
Jet matched his stare. “Is there a problem?” Jet was not please to be inspected like this by a mortal.
“No.” Michael looked at Angelique one more time then turned to walk back to his desk.
Jet watched him go. That one, although mortal, was as dangerous as any elder vampire had encountered. “I’ll bet LaCroix loves that one.” He whispered.
Angelique looked at him and a short burst of surprised laughter broke out of her. “Actually, he and Michael circle each other like wary Leopards. I find it quite entertaining.”
“Where ‘s Cleo?” Jet looked around for Angelique’s pet.
“Hunting.” They started to walk towards the conference table.
“I see. So what’s with the do?” Jet reached out a smoothed his palm over her hairless head.
Angelique stiffened for a moment and her eyes flashed red. “That whelp of LaCroix, Maire.”
Jet laughed. “So we have two deadly battles on our hands.” He grinned. ‘And if Ciarán is around, it’ll be like the Fourth of July.”
“I’m sure we can manage to amuse you, as long as we get the mission objective accomplished.”
Angel appeared at the top of the basement stairs, Spike dangling in his grip. “We seem to have a new Intel source.” Angel growled as he dragged Spike into the main room. Buffy and Giles followed behind, then Methos. Ciarán and Nikita walked in as Angel threw Spike at Angelique’s feet. Spike glared up at her from his heap at her feet.
Jet grinned again. “This is going to be fun.”
The chateau basement
Angelique pursed her lips as she gazed down at Spike. Thoughtful, she stroked one long, red fingernail over her mouth as if gesturing for silence. “To what do I owe this…” she began, softly.
“Pleasure?” Spike grinned as he levered himself up to his elbows to leer at her.
The elegant vampire smiled in spite of herself at the impudent young vampire at her feet. “Hardly,” she said, arching one perfect eyebrow. “I was thinking of you more as an interruption.”
“I’m crushed,” he said, rolling over onto his back and clutching at his chest in mock despair.
Buffy and Angel rolled their eyes up in unison.
As Angelique stood over Spike and tried to decide what to do about him, a shiver suddenly ran its icy fingers up her spine. She turned to see what it was, but nothing was out of the ordinary behind her. She frowned, puzzled.
“Up here,” the soft voice spoke from somewhere over her head.
Giles, hearing it, looked up as well, and gasped as he saw his Jenny lying on top of some cabinets, her chin propped on her hand. He reached up for her.
Jenny leaned over to kiss him. “We’ll have all the time in the world back in Sunnydale, Rupert. Right now, I’ve got to finish what I came to do.” She turned to look at Angelique. “We need to do this now. Set won’t wait much longer. He wants either you or Micah, and it’s all Isis can do to hold him at bay.”
Micah turned from the wall screen and looked narrowly at Angelique. “Sister, what have you done?”
“It is nothing, dear brother. Go back to what you were doing.”
Jenny looked across the room. “She saved you by trading her soul for yours to Set. Now, he wants to collect.”
“WHAT?!” Micah roared as he charged across the room. He took his sister by the arms and shook her. “What were you thinking?”
One red tear broke free and rolled down her cheek. “I was desperate when I couldn’t find you. I would have done anything.”
He clutched Angelique to him and moaned. “But this!”
Jenny cleared her throat. “We have a plan, but it has to be tonight.”
Giles held her hand and looked up at her. “When tonight?”
“Oh, now would be good.”
For a Loop
“The briefing is in one hour.” Michael stared up at the woman in the filing cabinet.
Jenny looked down at the handsome man, looking through the flesh to see the pain he kept so well hidden. “Adam will be safe.” A son he couldn’t see, and a shadow life in a place that demanded a robot-like blind obeisance to orders. Yet in his pain there was a small thread of defiance, one too small for others to see.
Michael looked at her and tilted his head. “How do you know?”
“I’m keeping an eye on him for you.” Jenny looked at Giles. “Rupert and his charges are just as good at saving people as your Section.” She smiled at the surprised light in Michael’s green/gray eyes.
At that moment, there was a horrible commotion at the top of the stairs.
“Crap!” echoed out and a body came tumbling down the stairs to and at Micah’s feet.
“Hey man,” Steve mumbled as he stood up and tried to brush off the indignity of his arrival. “What’d I miss? ”
Jenny and Angelique smiled at each other.
“Michael, why don’t you, Nikita and Ciarán brief on extracting Alana?” Angelique suggested. “Larry will call as soon as Missy and Ricze show back up.”
“The briefing?” Impatience showed in Michael’s eyes.
“We’ll have plenty of time.”
The chateau basement
Jenny continued to hold Rupert’s hand as she leapt from her perch atop the cabinets. She wrapped both arms around him and pulled him into a tight embrace.
“I’ve missed this,” she murmured into his throat.
“As have I,” he whispered into her hair, breathing in her subtle perfume.
With difficulty, they pulled far enough apart to look at each other.
“What can I do to help?” Giles looked at her over the tops of his glasses.
“Behind the chateau,” Jenny began as she led him to one of the tiny basement windows, “there’s an old stone chapel. It’s at the edge of the cemetery, by the woods. I need candles and incense there, as soon as possible.”
“Consider it done,” Giles said.
“I’m in,” Buffy said.
“Me too.” Angel nodded and stepped up to Giles. “We should probably get started.”
Giles nodded. “You’re right, of course. I’ll meet you in the upstairs hall.”
Jenny hugged him again, and leaned in close to whisper in his ear. “If this works, I think I’ll have time for one more steamy goodbye.”
Giles smiled. “I’m counting on it.” He kissed her quickly and climbed the stairs to join his charges.
Jenny watched him go. When she heard the door at the top of the stairs shut, she turned to Angelique. “It’s time for part two.”
The air around the young Gypsy woman seemed to thicken, until she was lost to sight in a swirling fog. Angelique stepped back and made sure that Steve Lalor was between her and Jenny. They both watched raptly until the fog settled and out stepped…
“Trapper!” Steve’s face lit up. “I’ve been looking for you everywhere, babe!” He staggered to his feet.
Trapper/Jenny smiled at Steve and stretched out her arms.
“I knew you’d come back to me,” he said as he staggered toward her.
Angelique watched the proceedings with mild revulsion.
“If this continues for very long, I’m going to be quite ill,” LaCroix said quietly behind her.
She nodded in agreement, and watched as Trapper/Jenny led Lalor toward the stairs. “It begins,” she said. “Come.”
“….once again, we interrupt this broadcast with a live report…”
“…night, nearly a two hundred shoppers were maimed, wounded or killed
by horse-riding psychopaths….”
“….images from the security feed…”
“….young children should not be watching…”
“…eyes don’t deceive you ladies and gentlemen…”
“….live in New York…”
“…back to our regularly scheduled programming…”
Freidrick’s jaw hung open as Nick and Trapper walked by him.
“You okay there, sport?” Nick ventured, looking slightly puzzled. “Oh shit…” was his only answer.
No one paid much attention to the tiny knock on the front door, or the doorbell ring a few moments later.
Leading Lalor off to whatever plans Jenny Calendar had in store for him made them miss the butler opening the door and letting in a young girl who looked like she had just journeyed through wherever Lalor was headed.
She walked slowly towards the procession, terrified at the sight of so many vampires. She could smell them now, after so long with August and the others. They had a definite, underlying decay to them…something you’d never notice unless you learned to dread it.
No familiar faces, there wouldn’t be. Not unless Nick or her father were here…but that would be too much to hope for.
“Say something to them,” his voice whispered in her head.
She trusted him, that voice that belonged to the ashes in the urn she carried. The journey out of the hell of the caves that ended her had taught her to trust him. So she spoke.
The procession stopped, and all the eyes of the predators were focused upon her.
Using what little courage she had left she braced herself, and spoke again.
“I am looking for my father. My name is Jennifer Schanke.”
A Study In Scarlet
by MacCousin and Renie
Entwined in a lover’s embrace, the two vampires rested on the rumpled satin sheets. Bloodsweat from their recent encounter lingered on their skin, glistening in the pale moonlight. Francois lovingly stroked Camille’s hair as she rested her head on his shoulder. Reluctantly, she began to move from the shelter of his arms. With a low growl, Bourbon pulled her on top of him, kissing her hungrily. She smiled down at his golden eyed leer and felt him hardening against her thigh.
“We really should get downstairs. The meeting starts in an hour, and we should feed before we spend time in a room with so many mortals.” She reminded him.
He groaned dramatically in response.
Camille laughed a little and kissed him again before slipping out of bed. She took a long and appreciative glance at her lover. Bourbon smiled at her as he lay there naked, unabashed, with one arm resting behind his head. His long hair spread wildly across the pillow. Both vampires wanted nothing more than to lose themselves in each other again.
Camille sighed softly, running a finger down a smooth supple lock of Francois’ hair. His eyes met hers with a hunger. She smiled and stood.
“I get the unique impression one does not keep Angelique or her Enforcers waiting,” she grabbed a towel and headed toward the shower. “Last one in is a….”
A whir easily glided by her. Francois laughed as she joined him. “You were saying?” he chortled, turning on the warm water.
“I guess it’s time to face the music,” Màire sighed, looking at the clock above the bar. She gave Gunther a wan smile and slid off the barstool. “Guess I’ll see you downstairs in a bit.” She paused. “I don’t know what will be worse an encounter with Angelique, or trying to make apologies to Methos. Then again,” she smirked.
“You could be in my shoes,” Gunther grinned. “On the other hand, want some company until then?” Kristin had headed off to meet with Joe and the others.
They started downstairs.
(The Comm. Center)
Xander yawned visibly as Cordelia studied her nails.
Birkoff, Willow and MacCousin, oblivious to the boredom circling the area, kept typing.
Cordelia pulled out an emery board and began to file down her nails. After a few minutes the grating noise got the best of Xander. He got up and left without saying a word.
(A Few Minutes Later)
Màire and Gunther looked through the Comm. Center.
“Ugh, cold,” shrugged Màire.
“And dull,” sighed Gunther. He would never be able to understand why someone would spend their free time typing.
Gunther shrugged and sat down next to Birkoff to help.
Màire sidled over to the MacCousin.
The MacCousin leapt nearly five feet in the air from a sitting position at the cold touch.
“Sorry,” Màire pulled away.
“You know you’re a real sidler,” grumbled MacCousin, shielding her top-secret plan.
“It goes with the territory,” Màire chortled. “You know, vampires have to practice their intimidation skills. What’s the big secret?” She tried to peer around the MacCousin’s meager blockade. “There sure is a lot of green…”
“Sshhhh!” MacCousin shushed the elder vampire.
“Hmph!” Màire turned away. “If I was Nunkies-poo, I bet you’d show me the plan.”
“That’s right.” MacCousin turned back to her monitor.
Màire snickered and walked back into the foyer.
Camille wandered out of the bedroom, leaving Bourbon behind to dress. She walked out to the foyer pulling on a black leather jacket. She turned to see Xander watching from a distance.
She stopped and turned gracefully. “Hello,” she said.
Xander looked about for a moment to make sure the beautiful vampire was not speaking to anyone else.
“Uhm…hi,” he said.
“Young lust. Hmmm. My favorite vintage.” Camille purred under her breath.
“Oh nothing,” Camille sauntered to Xander’s side and slid a finger playfully down his arm, loving the way his scent tripled in potency. “My name is Camille. And you are…?”
“Xander. Xander Harris.”
“Yes.” She said with a slight nod of approval. His heart and breathing quickened. “It suits you well.”
This vampire was driving him insane. He knew she could sense his heart pounding as a small voice inside his head warned of the danger.
The warning voice whispered and stopped in a sigh as Camille smiled up at Xander. She slid her fingers gracefully to his shoulder.
“So, Xander Harris, tell me about yourself.”
“Uhmmmm,” Xander found words but could not find the strength to say them. He was caught in Camille’s eyes. He leaned forward and caught her lips briefly with his own. The mere whisper of her cold lips against his made him forget all about the inner warnings.
The vampire pressed her body against his and opened her mouth to his probing tongue. She wanted his complete surrender, to possess him totally. This was a mortal to be savored. Perhaps she would return to him again after he recovered from their encounter.
Camille could smell his arousal as it burned through his blood. His kisses became fierce, urgent. His breathing quickened as he awkwardly attempted to remove her jacket. Xander suddenly began kissing her sensitive neck and nibbling his way down. Unable to control the urge, Camille nipped the skin above his jugular sighing at the brief taste of the nectar in his veins. A thin trickle of sweet, young blood flowed from two shallow cuts on his neck. She was almost drunk with the taste of the young man. It was like the hot apple cider spiced with cinnamon and cloves that she enjoyed as a mortal.
Poised for the strike, the vampire was interrupted by something between a command and a snarl. She turned golden eyes to the door that had been flung open, and the glowering form of another vampire.
As Bourbon closed the door to their room, he paused to locate Camille and sensed the bloodlust rising within her. A smug grin began to cross his face as he thought of the reason his lover was now so ravenous. Perhaps they would hunt together after the meeting.
Francois suddenly realized that she was already hunting, stalking her prey in a deadly game of passion and desire. Camille could get a bit carried away at times, but surely she wouldn’t be so careless as to take a mortal under the noses of the enforcers and a slayer. Still, he sped off in the direction of the vibration, moving so quickly that the mortals he passed never noticed him.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Màire stared at Camille and Xander.
No longer under Camille’s spell, Xander jumped and backed away. He was just beginning to wonder what was going on, when he caught sight of the female vampire next to him and bolted for the door.
“Xander,” Màire’s grip on his arm was like steel. Xander opened his mouth to call for help, Màire caught his eye and locked onto his heartbeat.
“You will be silent,” she murmured softly. “Don’t go anywhere.”
“Leave us!” the younger vampire commanded, “There won’t be any killing here.”
With a soft whoosh, Bourbon halted behind the very old and very cross Màrie. The glassy eyed look on the mortal teenager’s face was not lost to him. Nor was the scent of fresh blood.
“Foolish child! I am not concerned about his wellfare.”
“What is this?” Francois asked as he stepped between the two women.
“She is busy hunting,” Màire hissed angrily. “As if this were the time or place.” She nodded toward the oblivious Xander.
“He’s only a mortal. Since when do either of you care about them?” Camille sniffed.
“Are you mad?” Francois demanded. “He is with a slayer!”
“Do you expect me to be afraid of one mortal girl? Besides, He wasn’t a meal, just a light snack. He wouldn’t have suffered any permanent damage.”
“Mortal girl?” questioned Màire. “She is more than that. What if he’s a resistor? Did you even think your actions through?”
Bourbon raised an eyebrow at Màire. “You’re not exactly one to think through things yourself.”
“This isn’t about me, this is about your responsibility. You brought her here,” she put her hands on her hips. “She is your responsibility to watch over and make sure she behaves.” She then turned her attention to Camille. “Youth is no excuse for this
kind of reckless behavior. You could have made a difficult alliance between ourselves and the slayer a dangerous one.”
Camille bridled at being lectured to. “Who are you to order me about. You are neither my maker nor my mentor. We are immortal, we need never worry about the slayers.” She turned and skulked toward Xander.
“If you were my child,” began Màire. She paused and looked down at her shoes, thinking of her dead children, some of them had been taken out by slayers. She looked at Bourbon. “Another foolish stunt like that and the Enforcers would remove her. They
aren’t known for their kindnesses. You know that as well as I.”
Bourbon and Màire looked over at Camille.
Camille swiped a finger through a little spot of drying blood on the boy’s neck and raised it to her lips. Her eyes closed as she savored the last of his essence. Caressing Xander’s cheek as she spoke in a soft, hypnotic tone, Camille erased the memory of their time together.
She turned and left Xander there, still lost in a whammy.
“I should have been here sooner. Thank you for putting a stop to this foolishness before Camille did something we would both regret.”
Satisfied that he was sincere, Màrie nodded. “She is yours?”
Francois ran a hand through his damp hair and winced slightly at the implications of the question.
“Not exactly. Her maker was destroyed decades ago. We do share a blood link though.”
‘Who does she think she is?’ Camille fumed silently as she walked away from them. ‘What do I have to fear from a teen-aged mortal?’
She was bored and hungry, which did not make for a happy mood. As a mortal who was unaccustomed to taking orders, it was infuriating as a vampire. Camille was sorry for Bourbon’s loss, but she had nothing to do with anything that was going on in New
Salem. She was beginning to think she’d be better off somewhere else, but knew her lover would never leave until the deaths were avenged.
Rounding a corner, the vampire nearly walked right into Gunther as he left the Comm. Center.
“Shouldn’t you be in there?” she asked, motioning to the room he’d left a minute earlier.
“I was,” the Viking answered a little embarrassed. “I kind of got in the way. They politely asked me to wait out here so they could finish preparing for the meeting.”
“I’m glad I’m not the only nuisance around here.”
Catching sight of the glimmer of gold in her eyes, the immortal led Camille to a sofa in a nearby sitting room. He was thankful for the small cart with bottles of blood and glasses provided for the guests. A hungry vampire was not usually good company. At the moment, Gunther really didn’t feel like being anyone’s next meal.
“So.” He began as he handed her a full glass. “What happened back there?”
The vampire drained her glass and set it on a low table before answering. “I was hungry.”
“And?” That couldn’t be all.
She shrugged and held up the bottle. “I wanted something a bit fresher than this.”
The immortal cast her a pained look and sighed. “Not only do I have to watch over Kristin, but you as well.”
“Kristen is here?” Camille asked slowly. The watcher was not her favorite mortal in the world. “Yes of course she is. After all, she is your watcher.”
“Look, she doesn’t know what you are, and as far as she knows, she’s only met you and Bourbon a few times. Just try not to let things get out of hand. Okay?”
“She’s going to find out about vampires, Gunther. There’s no way around it, not here.
“Hmmm….” Màire nodded at Bourbon. “My apologies for not saying hello earlier. I was kind of busy.” She smirked.
“So I saw.”
Màire chuckled, “I suppose this means you are forgiven for betting on Angelique.” She looked at Xander for a moment. “I guess I can take care of this…if you take care of her?” Dealing with another war would be impossible.
Bourbon nodded. “Be careful. He will have scars…and questions.”
Màire shrugged and walked over to Xander as Bourbon left the room.
“Xander. Xander, wake up.” Màire shook him slightly to bring him out of the whammy.
“Wha…huh?” Xander looked down at Màire. His neck hurt. He put an index finger to his wound. There was no blood, but he did feel bite marks. “Did you?”
“No, I didn’t.” Màire sighed, wondering if she would have to whammy him again. She raised a finger to his wound.
“I can’t remember what happened. But you stopped it. I remember that.”
“I’m sorry I wasn’t here sooner. You should really watch yourself,” Màire told him.
“But you helped,” Xander smiled. “You stopped it. Not only are you beautiful, but you’re nice.”
Màire sighed. “That is very nice of you to say, but you don’t know me at all. I just did it to protect my community and family.” She began to walk away.
Xander watched her go, somewhat sadly.
Màire heard someone begin laughing in the hallway. She walked into the library to find Methos laughing hysterically.
“What’s so entertaining??”
“Youth is no excuse for this kind of reckless behavior? He began laughing again.
Màire stared at him.
“You are an amazing case of ‘do what I say, not what I do’.”
“I’m so glad I amused you,” she said, sarcastically.
“Actually,” he stopped laughing. “It was very kind. I didn’t expect that.” He touched her shoulder.
“It was my good deed of the century.” She stalked off. A teensy bit glad, he seemed to have forgiven her.
Methos shook his head and turned to join the others back upstairs.
Schanke’s Lost Little Lamb
She stared at the faces surrounding her, clutching the urn tightly to her chest. Whispering to it, she barely breathed, “You said it would be okay. It would be safe!”
All those present, those going to the Lalor ceremony…and otherwise, heard the soft, soothing response that answered back. “It is…just give them time. They have been terribly worried about you.”
Freidrick pushed forward through some of the others, staring at the urn. “Jonas?”
Jenny stared at him as if he was a snake. Slowly, she nodded. He almost reached for the urn, but with the way she drew back, clinging to it, he changed his mind. There would be time enough for Jonas later. He wasn’t about to take Jenny’s security from her.
Marcus whispered to him, loud enough though for everyone to hear, “Very wise. The child is at the end of her tolerance. One more shock, and she’ll be lost forever…”
Sept 7, 1997
Freidrick paused for a moment, trying to get a grip on himself. Making certain he had everyone’s attention, he announced, “We’re fucked.”
Marcus looked at his friend a moment, then burst out laughing. “Nicely put, old friend.”
Freidrick gave him a withering look as a voice asked, “How so?”
All eyes turned to the urn in Jenny’s arms. “He never shuts up, does he?” someone asked, and was replied with, “Not often.”
Marcus interceded for the still flustered Freidrick. “The was a newsbroadcast about the occurances at the Mall. Normally not a problem, but our Sabbat friends were caught on the security tapes…in full performance. Needless to say, while some can still pass off vampires as fiction, especially on news reports, enough belief was raised by the tapes that it was broadcast from the local Boston stations, with transmissions sent to all the major networks. Unfortunately, even if they don’t believe it, enough people will be curious enough to come and find out.”
Friend or Foe
“I’ll go get Willow.” Buffy said as she and Giles reached the landing of the staircase. “We’ll meet you at the chapel.”
“Alright. I’ll gather what we need from the room.”
With that, the slayer headed for the comm center while her watcher continued up the stairs. Buffy was almost at her destination when she spotted Xander wandering the hall. His hair and clothes looked a little more rumpled than when she’d last seen him.
“Xander? You okay?” She asked, a concerned look on her face.
“Yeah. I’m fine. Why?”
He seemed a little preoccupied, but the slayer just shrugged it off. After all, things were bound to get a bit tense when you were trying to save the world.
“Have you seen Willow?”
Who? The only person in his thoughts at the moment was Màrie. Xander could almost feel the soft, coolness of her full lips, the smooth, ageless skin… Had he kissed her? No. She saved him. He had been holding and kissing another. But who?
“Huh? Oh yeah, Willow. Uh… she’s in there. I think.”
Too late, he realized his mistake in nodding toward the door.
“Oh my god.” Buffy gasped at the two little marks on his neck. The twin wounds were shallow lines drawn on the skin just above the jugular vein.
“Xander, who did this to you? What happened?”
He really didn’t want to make explanations until he figured out what actually did happen. His hand flew to his neck, covering the telltale fang marks. With what he hoped was a confident and determined expression, he tried to reassure the slayer. The last thing anyone needed at the moment was a war between the vampires and mortals who were supposed to be on the same side.
“I’m fine. Really. It’s just a little cut. Don’t worry about it.”
“Who did this to you?”
“I don’t know.”
“What do you mean you don’t know?”
“I can’t remember. It’s that hypno thing they do. Everything is kind of mixed up. It’s cool. Don’t worry about me. I’ll handle it.”
“I’ve got to get Willow. We’re supposed to be meeting Giles and the others. Are you going to be alright?”
Xander nodded. “What’s going on? Do you need me for anything?”
“Not right now. Be careful.” Handing him a sharp, pointed steak of wood, she looked up at him. “Just in case they decide to come back for seconds. We’ll talk about this when Giles and I get back.”
“See you later.”
Buffy was already walking away.
The young man studied the length of wood in his hand. He’d use it if he had to, but in the back of his mind, knew it wouldn’t be needed in this situation. Though Xander couldn’t remember the face of his beautiful attacker, he knew without a doubt it had been a woman. The fact that he had enjoyed being ravished by a vampire didn’t bother him. The fact that he wanted that kind of dangerous pleasure again did.
The Shattered Child
Jenny clutched the urn tightly as she started to tremble. The enormity of all that had happened to her finally reached into her core, and her determination to endure shattered. Shuddering, she sank to her knees, no longer seeing the adults, human and otherwise, that surrounded her. What she had seen was never meant for anyone’s eyes, let alone a budding young girl. Her mind, which had held on to sanity for so long through so much, just couldn’t take anymore.
Schanke, having heard that his missing daughter was downstairs, pushed the others aside to reach her.
He arrived in time to see the desolate look in her eyes turn into something far more heart-wrenching. As he reached out a hand to his only child, he watched as she dwindled into insanity….
No Ray of Sunshine
“I guess we should go back to the Com Center and see if they need our help with anything.” Gunther said.
“As if we could actually be of any help in there.” Camille retorted. She had reached the end of her patience with everyone there. Right now, all she wanted was a few hours of freedom, and a nice, warm meal.
“My, you’re in a pleasant mood this evening.”
“Sorry.” She mumbled. “I’m sure you have better things to do than listen to me rant. Shouldn’t you be babysitting your pet?”
The Viking sighed. “Kristen is not her father. Why do you hate her so much?”
“Have you ever heard the expression ‘The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree?’ And I don’t hate her. I just don’t trust her.”
Kristen’s father had dealings with Gunther’s last watcher. Neither Camille nor Bourbon would discuss the events surrounding Robert Hanley’s death. After his charred remains were pulled from what was left of his car, the police investigation turned up no signs of foul play. There were not even skid marks where the car had left the road. It was determined that Hanley had fallen asleep at the wheel and missed a turn, plunging 600 feet to his death. The vehicle had exploded on impact.
The same night Hanley died, Ellis was decapitated by Stanley Carter, the immortal he was assigned to watch. Three days later, his body had been found in a river. As far as the police were concerned, Ellis was another case for the unsolved files.
Ellis and his assignment had been paying large sums of money to other watchers in exchange for information. The unscrupulous immortal then attacked while his opponent was most vulnerable. After a few close calls, Bourbon and Gunther had done a bit of digging into Hanley’s affairs. A few well-placed whammies got them extra keys to safe deposit boxes, and with a little help from a knowledgeable friend, they were able to break into computer files. They learned of his business with Kristen’s father, and something even worse came to light. The Watcher had come too close to discovering the vampires.
His cryptic notes were damning evidence against Camille and Bourbon. Most concerning of all, were the few names listed. Someone, perhaps Carter, had given Hanley a short list of hunters. There were no phone numbers or addresses, but the names were enough. He would have to be questioned and neutralized as soon as possible. They needed to know how much of a mess was
there to clean up, and make plans for a hasty departure.
Soon after the two Watcher’s deaths, the vampires set themselves up in Seattle. The Community there was fairly large, and it would offer them protection if necessary. Gunther spent almost three years tracking Carter before joining them.
The tall blonde stood and turned to the door. “She’s meeting with another Watcher right now. She’ll find me when she’s done.” Then silently, he added ‘I hope.’
The vampire quickly poured and drained another glass from the bottle and rose to follow her immortal friend. They stepped out into the empty hallway and strode toward the Comm Center. Francois was close. She wanted to take flight out the nearest window, but she knew it would only delay the inevitable confrontation. Squaring her shoulders and lifting her chin, Camille stared defiantly at her lover as he rounded the corner in front of them.
Bourbon stopped when he saw her. A myriad of emotions waged war within him. Camille had been foolish, but he also feared he would one day lose her to a slayer or enforcer’s stake. Her master had taken for granted that he would always be with her, and neglected to be as firm as he should have been with her education. Not that Vachon was much of a disciplinarian, but he had at
least passed on the knowledge that he had learned from trial and sometimes painful error. The Spaniard had also tried to make sure those he brought over didn’t make those same mistakes.
“Are you going to stand there all night or are you going to lecture me and get it over with?” she demanded.
Francois nearly cringed at her icy tone. He really hated this part. She needed to understand why her actions nearly got her killed, but he didn’t want to sound like one of his Captains in the Musketeers. At least the few times he’d screwed up as a vampire and Vachon was there to see it, it had been over quickly. The few times the dark haired vampire had reprimanded him, he began with a string of Spanish profanity and ended with “…and if you EVER pull a stupid stunt like that, I’ll stake your ass myself!” There was usually very little in between.
What had Vachon said to Urs when she was out of line? The answer was quick to come. Urs had never gotten out of line, ever.
With a stern look, Bourbon allowed his age and power to flow through their bond. It would have worked better if he had been her maker, but the subtle change was enough.
“Camille, I’d like a word with you.”
His eyes made it clear that there was no room for arguments.
“I guess that’s my cue to leave.” Gunther said quickly. “Perhaps we’ll spar later.”
The immortal beat a hasty retreat without waiting for a response.
Strange Things Are Afoot in the Com. Center
MacCousin yawned and covered her mouth as she stared at her ‘project’.
She cupped her chin with a hand and closed her eyes for a moment. They fluttered back open and then closed again.
MacCousin sat at the head of a long table draped in tartan, she stared at her henchmen, who seemed to resemble her PHB (pointy-haired boss) and his associates and nearly snarled at them. They shivered in fright.
She stroked Mr. Lucius, her black kitty.
“You have been insolent, and that makes me angry. And when the MacCousin gets angry, Mr. Lucius gets upset.”
“Meow-rowr,” the cat turned his golden eyes to the naughty pens on the table. He hissed at Ryan.
“And when Mr. Lucius gets upset…people DIE!!!!” MacCousin slammed her hand on the table and the henchmen jumped. They all fell into a pit of fire.
MacCousin woke up. A thin trail of drool was on the computer table. MacCousin warily looked over at the others in the Comm. Center and wiped away the drool when she saw no one was looking.
“What a strange dream,” she murmured. “Although it was nice seeing those idiots get theirs.”
“What was that?” Birkoff turned to face her.
“Uh…nothing,” mumbled the MacCousin, with a small grin.