Friday, June 4, 2010

Remaining Human in the Face of Darkness

"Come out, come out, wherever you are!" The sing-song voice echoed ominously through the alley, bouncing off of the grime coated bricks. "If you come out quick, little funkeln, I won't have to hurt you too much."

Edward flinched at the tone and tried to press his back even close to the cold, slimy feeling metal of the dumpster he had flung himself behind. It was just his luck that he had taken a detour going home from work to pick up a present for Eligius' birthday and stumbled over a slayer along the way. And not just any slayer either.

No, he had to skip all the way through the youngsters, the sympathizers, and the cold killers straight to the craziest one of all.

Rebecca fucking Larcoth was blocking the only way out of the dead end alley, blonde hair falling over features that would be beautiful if not marred by a killer's smile. And against her was just him, Edward Harlow: weaponless except for the monster that lurked in his psyche. That weapon was too much even to wield against Rebecca.

It might enable him to kill her...but it would also kill his soul in the process.

What do I do, what do I do?

"Funkeln," sang out Rebecca's voice and he caught the all too familiar sound of metal against leather - a blade being drawn from a sheath. Then there was the cold click of a bullet being chambered into firing position and Edward closed his eyes, nearly crying out loud as the memory of his own father holding a gun to his forehead. Of course that memory ended swiftly in his father's death at his sire's hands but it still made fear blossom even brighter in his chest.

"Oh God, Eli, where are you?" he hissed under his breath. "I can't...I can't fight her. Not without losing everything you made me."

He jerked his head up then as suddenly sprinting footsteps came towards him and Edward dove forward as Rebecca rounded the dumpster with a mad gleam in her too bright blue eyes. Somehow he managed to count the bullets that slammed into the dumpster exactly where he had been a moment before - one, two, three - as he rolled to his feet. The slayer spun towards him, knife flashing in the dim light that came from the street, and he swept his arm up in a blur to catch her wrist.

"Eindrucksvoll," she purred in a throaty growl that rippled with a hunter's amusement to find the prey resisting death. Then the barrel of Rebecca's gun dimpled the skin underneath his chin and she added, "But I am afraid you lose, funkeln."

Edward's mind flashed from present to past, from one gun against his skin to another, and he heard the slow rumble of drum beats start up. His eyes swiveled down to hers, terrified blue-green into crazed blue, and he breathed, "Please." Just one word.

She thought it was meant for her.

Rebecca's lips twisted into cruel smile and she rumbled, "Oooh, begging. I do so love begging."

Somehow Edward managed enough courage to snort as the rumble rose to a staccato pace in his mind. "Wasn't talking to you," he growled out. Her smile went cold at that and mad eyes narrowed as her finger began to squeeze down on the trigger. And he prayed to God and those Roman gods Eli kept statues of that her bullet spattered his brains across the bricks before the drums consumed him.

"Mi scusi," said a deep voice calmly and Rebecca jerked the trigger twice in quick succession as she felt the alarming presence of another vampire. And this one had snuck up on her without making a sound.

That was when she realized that her finger had clenched twice at air. No bullets had spattered the blond vampire's brain matter against the walls of the alley. The bastard had taken her gun without her even realizing it.

Rebecca felt breath on the back of her neck and the hairs there rose on end as she sensed the large vampire that was now looming behind her. "Sei fuori di tuo classifica, poca ragazza," he hissed and the calm voice of before had turned into the growl of an angry bear. She whirled on him then, ignoring the wrist still held by the statue-still blond, and pulled another knife out lightning fast.

Her swipe should have taken him across the belly, spilled his entrails hotly over his knees and onto the dirty concrete.

Instead the air was empty there and Rebecca had a split second to stare before one large hand closed around her throat, fingers pressing down harshly on her windpipe. Her wrist was ripped away from the blond's hand and she attacked with both knives then, aiming at the face of the vampire holding her as she struggled for air. He batted her strikes - which had decapitated so many before and sliced open throats to the bone - away like they were mere flies and she blinked hazing eyes to get her first look at her captor.

Severe cheekbones and a hooked Roman nose stood out from a heavy-boned face with a thin coat of scruff and the naturally olive skin of someone from the Mediterranean area of the world. Wavy dark hair did not soften the features that could have been carved from marble and eyes a shade of amber so dark as to be mistaken for dark brown or even black made her freeze. Rebecca felt a tremor of fear ripple up her spine for the first time in years as that gaze met hers and seemed to envelop her very soul.

She had always thought of herself as the ultimate hunter.

But, this gaze meeting hers was that of a true hunter.

He considered her for a moment, eyes boring into her, then he shrugged one shoulder. "You are lucky I am feeling generous today, poca cacciatore. And that Mico is more important to me than leaving your corpse upon the stoop of your kinds precious little haven in this city." With that he dropped her to the ground and Rebecca was so stunned that she stumbled, slumping against the dumpster as she fought to regain her balance. She then realized he had turned his back on her and stared at the broad, leather covered target it provided.

As she straightened, he turned his head to regard her and that gaze speared her into stillness. Her fingers fluttered over the smooth handle of her knife, wanting so badly to use it but too afraid to strike because she knew that he would kill her the moment she moved to do so. And while she danced with death frequently, even she did not want to tempt it to strike so blatantly.

"Run, little girl," he said as he turned his back on her again. Rebecca nodded, heart suddenly in her throat, and backed slowly out of the alley. She took to her heels the moment she was clear of its walls and made for her apartment with the fear still pounding through her.

Once the slayer was gone, Eligius took Edward's face in his hands, worried by the stillness that had taken his lover since his arrival. As soon as he touched him, he felt the tremors, and knew. Leaning forward, he breathed, "Mico, I am here," into his ear and instantly felt a hitch of breath against his cheek.

"E-Eli?" came the frightened little voice and the Roman drew the smaller vampire into his arms, pressing a kiss against his temple. Edward shivered in his arms as he warred against his personal demon and when he finally slumped bonelessly against Eligius, he whispered, "I nearly..."

"Shh, shh," bid Eligius with a shake of his head, "you did not so we shall not speak of it." He felt Edward nod against his throat and brushed at the grime-coated mess his normally feather-soft hair had become in annoyance. "I am taking you home."

Edward made no protests as his lover gathered him in his arms, simply limply resting his head against Eligius' chest and listening to his heart pick back up to a normal human pace as his body resettled into normal survival mode now that the crisis was averted. Then he asked weakly, "The slayer?"

Eligius shrugged as he answered, "I let her go." When Edward started to move his lips, he interrupted fiercely, "Your health is more important to me, Mico, than killing some slayer whelp barely loosed to hunt."

"Rebecca Larc..."

"May be something to fear for you young ones," growled the older vampire before the full name of the slayer could be spoken, "but I bear the scars of slayers far greater than she will ever be." His voice softened then as he said, "Now, hush and rest easy, carus."

A tried smile crossed Edward's face at that and he closed his eyes, the mental exhaustion of holding himself back from becoming what his sire had made him again wearing him down. That exhaustion was reassuring in it's own way, just as Eligius' phantom heartbeat in his ears was.

It meant he had faced a slayer as mad as he had once been and come out not only alive but still the human his lover had made him.