Blood Bonds Pt. 12byphoenixphair©
Jobias Thompson cocked his head to the side at the same moment Tolbert, who'd been running through video feeds on his laptop across the room, stood abruptly. Both looked out the window at the trees bathed in bright morning sunlight.
"What is that?" the elder Hunter asked, glancing over at the hulking blonde telepath as he sat down his computer and slowly moved towards the door.
"Not sure," the other said slowly, his raspy voice catching as his eyes narrowed. "But something...there's a crowd heading this way. Lycans and...something else. And they're pissed."
The leader sighed and stood, pushing his chair away from his desk, running a hand through his silver hair. A junior Hunter burst through the office doors, eyes wide, expression bordering on panic.
"Sir! There's a whole pack of Lycans heading up the main drive! What should we do?"
"Let me see them, Tolbert," Jobias sighed, nodding towards his lieutenant. The big man nodded, typing in a command on his laptop.
On the big screen across the room, cameras lining the winding drive up to the organization's rural North Carolina base displayed what appeared to be an entire Pack of Wolves roaring up the mountainous road on their bikes. There were at least fifty cycles, many with more than one rider; all looked angry. Looking at the lead bikes, Thompson shook his head slightly.
"Oh, shit," Tolbert murmured.
"I see her," Thompson replied, feeling a shiver run down his spine.
"That's not possible," the blonde muttered, shaking his head and taking a step forward, squinting at the image. "It's full daylight. She should be a fireball."
"Is that Talera?" the junior Hunter asked, mouth falling open, eyes showing real fear now.
"Looks like it. Pershing too," Jobias said with a nod. He retrieved the coat hanging on the back of his chair and moved towards the door, pausing to let his second fall in behind.
"Where are you going, sir?" the young woman asked, mouth agape. "We need to head to the cellars."
"I'm going to see what they want," the ancient Hunter responded, glancing back at her. "If she'd wanted to kill us, this complex would be a crater already."
"Is this a good idea?" Tolbert asked quietly as they strode through the big house towards the front door. "If she can show herself in daylight, we have big problems."
"They're not here to fight. You know that."
"Oh, I forgot I invited them for brunch." Tolbert shot back. "I'll get Tara and the cooks working on a nice quiche and some finger sandwiches—"
"We are not walking out there looking for trouble. Just stand there and read them. Let me do the talking."
"I'm going armed," the other man grumbled, pulling a shotgun from the closet by the door. Stepping out the door, he cocked it loudly just as the Pack roared to a halt at the front steps of the stone house. He pointed it firmly at Talera as she flipped down her kickstand and climbed off the imposing black Harley.
Her expression unreadable behind her dark glasses, white skin gleaming in the sunlit drive, she stood for a moment, facing the Hunters on the front step, the leather of her pants and jacket creaking in the silence. Tolbert let out a rumble of dark laughter as the Alderman kid, fully Lycan and looking dangerous as hell, nodded a greeting to the Hunters, but otherwise remained impassive in place on his bike behind Pershing's.
Pershing stayed astride his bike as well, arms crossed, observing for the moment, simply an escort for an ally. Thompson noted Talera's two pets in the mix. The Asian, very obviously now a Dark Succubus with her violet hair and eyes, sat behind Pershing. The black sylph sat behind Kevin Alderman, dark eyes sparkling, face pinched with anger and hurt.
The supernaturals looked on with vague amusement as the entire compound of Hunters assembled all around them, guns drawn. Talera crossed her arms as if waiting patiently, glancing at Pershing, who shrugged minimally.
After they'd had a moment to settle, Talera vanished, then returned, holding a small, blonde woman aloft by the back of her collar. Thompson's eyes widened as he realized Talera had discovered the spy they'd been wondering about. The Alderman kid raised his chin in challenge, clenching those giant fists.
"Morning, Jobias. Did you lose this?" Talera called, deep throaty voice carrying across the stillness.
"No, Lady Talera," he replied, shaking his head and coming down the steps. Tolbert's aim never wavered as he came down behind his leader.
"Just checking," she replied, smiling sweetly, baring her top fangs.
"Whose is she? NSA?" the Hunter asked, coming to a stop a few feet from the vampire, looking up at the girl, who whimpered softly, terrified eyes darting about, though she seemed otherwise paralyzed.
"FreakOps," the immortal snorted, now baring all her fangs, which, Jobias noted, numbered at eight. She let the girl drop.
"You broke her?" Jobias asked, squatting next to the prone captive. He lifted up one sleeve of the girl's camo jacket, seeing the solid black line, two inches wide that encircled her wrist. Slave Mark.
"Little bit," Talera said, smirking.
"Well, she knew better when she got into it," the Hunter sighed, standing, looking at the vampire intently. "You're out awfully late."
"Working on my tan."
"Right," he chuckled. "We heard you'd been Turned, but information is sparse. You're surprising me."
The vampire simply shrugged, brows lifting, lips curving faintly.
"What do you want me to do with her?" the Hunter asked with a shake of his head. "Most of your kind would have killed her."
"I respect the talent. It's hard to deceive me, and she did exceptionally well. If her people get ahold of her again, they'll finish her for me."
"So you're gifting her to me? Wrapped up with a neat little black bow around the wrist?"
Talera bowed her head in a chuckle, hair falling over her eyes.
"I'm not letting her off with no repercussions. The Mark is a reminder."
"That you can snuff her out with little more than a thought at any time for the rest of her life? I've seen that Mark before. It's a little more than a reminder."
"Everyone's past catches up with them sometime, right?"
Several of the Wolves snorted in laughter behind her as she said the last, baring their fangs in grins. The vampire looked down at the girl, lifting one finger slightly. The broken agent immediately climbed to her feet, peering with terror at her new Master.
"Nicolette Cassidy," the demon said, voice flat. "I release you from my side, but never from my service. Even think about harming me or mine again, and your life is forfeit. Do you understand?"
"Yes," the girl whispered, blue eyes trembling with tears.
Thompson felt a fleeting stab of pity for the girl as she looked over at each of the friends she'd betrayed, pleading and remorse in her gaze. The Alderman boy and the Dark succubus stared back with heat in their eyes. The human stared back for a moment, then buried her face into the tangled waves of Kevin's hair, her arms tightening around his waist.
With a nod to Jobias, Talera turned and got back on her bike, graceful as air. And with a roar, they were all gone, the rumble of their Pack echoing through the mountains for several minutes more.
"Shit," Tolbert muttered again.
"What did you get from her?" Thompson asked a few hours later, barely looking up from his computer screen as Tolbert came back into the office, rubbing his temples.
"I don't know what that thing did to that poor girl, but her head is...something else," the big man grumbled, dropping to the couch. "I get nothing other than terror and...I keep seeing just blackness. Pure black. And then...the biggest damned pair of eyes, full of...I don't even..."
Thompson looked up sharply, eyes narrowed.
"Black and crimson fire?" the lead Hunter asked, standing and coming over to his second.
"Yeah, actually. How did you know?" the big man asked, looking up at his boss in confusion.
"Show me," Jobias demanded, closing his eyes.
Frowning, Tolbert took his hand, closing his own eyes. After a few seconds, Thompson drew back, eyes wide, hand over his mouth. Very slowly, he turned and moved to the window, looking outside, but seeing nothing beyond his own thoughts.
Tolbert knew better than to try to read Thompson's mind, but the jumble of emotions coming from the man was nauseating. Several minutes later, the lead Hunter returned to his desk, still rubbing his chin.
"Pull all surveillance on her and her Line," Thompson said softly.
"What? All? Are you serious?" Tolbert stammered, standing up, coming to the desk, putting both hands on the wood to bend down and look his boss in the face.
"I am," Jobias said with a solemn nod. "Do it."
"She's not a threat, and I'm not going to irritate her. Leave her be."
"What the hell did you see? What is she?"
"Just do it, Tolbert. Everything gets shut down now. Send teams out to collect equipment at first light tomorrow. Maintain surveillance on the House, but drop her friends and familiars. Drop Pershing too. If she approves of them, we don't need to watch."
"Are you—" Tolbert began, then shook his head, moving to the door. "Okay, I'll have it taken care of right now."
"You up?" Kev murmured, sticking his head into the cabin, seeing nothing in the darkness. At a mumbled, unintelligible response, he stepped inside, trying to let in as little light as possible before he closed the door.
A candle popped to life in the bathroom, casting a faint, but helpful light into the main room of the little cabin, giving his sun-blinded eyes an extra boost.
"Overdo it?" he asked with a sympathetic chuckle.
"A little," Talera muttered into the tops of her bare knees from her position in the center of the bed, arms wrapped around her legs, head bowed, shaking uncontrollably. "If I could vomit, I'd be best friends with the toilet right now."
"The term 'sun poisoning' comes to mind," Kevin said wryly, sliding onto the head of the bed, wrapping his long legs around her, pulling her back into his chest. "I don't know if you're aware of this, but you're a vampire. That means daylight is bad."
She just moaned something four-lettered and leaned her icy forehead against his chin, tremors coursing through her muscles.
Bringing his arm up, he made just enough of a nick in his wrist to bring blood, then pressed the wound to her lips. With a relieved sigh, she sank her teeth into his burning skin. He held in a gasp, closing his eyes, his arm around her shoulders and across her chest gripping tightly.
She relaxed back against him, breath stopping as she let go of the façade of humanity. He kissed her hair, breathing in the faint remainder of her scent. Idly, he wondered when it would fade completely, when the last of her physical humanity would leave her forever.
He was nearly lost in the Trance, seeing the stars and sparkling lights rise up when the room was flooded with real light.
"Oh, sorry," Sarah yelped, turning to rush out.
"Get back in here!" Kevin barked, pressing his wrist back into Talera's face when she went to pull away. She squawked something indignant-sounding, but her words were smothered against his skin.
"You, drink," he ordered the vampire, then looked at Sarah, who was a blinding silhouette of embarrassment in the sunlight. "You, get in here and close that door."
"I didn't think," the girl muttered, coming to sit gingerly on the side of the bed, looking at Talera, who had relaxed back into the Wolf's chest once more. Her eyes were closed, but peaceful, her throat working slowly as she drank.
His eyes threatened to roll back in his head and he shook it hard, hair flying.
"Turn off the Trance, please," he requested through his teeth. She mumbled something, but he shook his head again. "I know it'll hurt; I'm a big boy. I can't focus with you in my— thank you. Ow! Fuck! That does hurt."
Reaching out with one hand, Sarah lightly touched the hair at Talera's temple, smiling tenderly when the other's face softened. She jerked her arm back as Kevin growled something threatening in Lycan at the vampire.
"Keep going," he ordered. "You're not going to hurt me, and I'm not letting you go until you stop shaking."
"I can come back later," Sarah said, looking at them both.
"What's wrong with now?" Kevin asked, lifting a brow, wincing slightly to himself.
"Well, this is kind of an intimate moment" the girl laughed.
"Oh, yeah, you've never seen anything like this before," he deadpanned, stroking Talera's shoulder.
"For a creature that's supposed to go up in flames in the daylight, you sure spend a lot of time in the sun," Sarah said finally, sighing and sliding further onto the bed. Absently, she reached out one hand and held Talera's ankle, feeling that the other still shivered.
"Age doesn't always bring wisdo—OW!" Kevin began only to be cut off by the pop of all eight of Talera's fangs sinking into his arm.
"Shit," Sarah chuckled. "That even sounded like it hurt."
She just looked between the two of them as the vampire drank, wondering at the closeness of their bond despite the gulf of differences now between them. The sight sent an odd pang of loneliness through the girl, a fleeting shadow of pain across her face.
After a few minutes, Kevin sighed and let Talera pull back, shivering slightly as she licked the wounds she'd made in his wrist. They were both silent, the Wolf kissing the vampire's cold hair tenderly, murmuring something in her ear.
"That's better," he murmured, laying a hand over Talera's chest to feel her pounding heart. She smiled, but her eyes were so heavy, she couldn't do much more. Chuckling, he lifted her out of his lap and let her stretch out on the bed beside him, nuzzling into a pillow like a little kid, smiling faintly in satisfaction. Her wings popped into view suddenly, rising, then settling back over her body like a heavy blanket. Snorting, Kevin flipped the edge of the nearest one closer to her body when it drifted towards him.
"And she's out," Kevin announced with a shake of his head. "I don't think she'll ever learn her lesson."
"She wouldn't be her if she did," Sarah sighed, smiling softly.
"What's on your mind?" he asked, squinting at her in the darkness. "Something's troubling you."
"I just...um...after all this..." Sarah stuttered, shaking her head. "I just need to go home for a day or two. See my parents."
"Why? I mean, I understand," Kevin said, face gentle. "What can I do to help?"
"I think you're the problem," she replied with a wry smile. "When you're around...I just...I want impossible things...I need to see if normal life...I don't know."
He was silent, letting her sort out her own thoughts.
"This whole trip...I learned so much about this world," she continued slowly. "The Wolves, they're amazing. I never realized how much of a family they are...impossible things."
He just nodded, reaching out and pulling her to him, stretching out beside her as she lay back, nuzzling into his hot chest.
"Sarah, whatever you want. I'll understand. We all will."
Jobias Thompson leaned back in the booth, sighing deeply, closing his eyes for a moment. He let the muted chatter of the patrons, the clink of glasses and beer bottles, the faint muffled murmur of a baseball game on a distant television, the clump of footsteps on the ancient wood floors, wash over him. The first time he'd come to this bar, it was little more than a shack perched on the side of a mountain, serving the few indefatigable loggers, miners and refugees from city slums determined to make a life in these old hills.
At the time, he'd stood out. Now he blended into the walls, just another local amidst the rush of spring tourists seeking their own kind of refuge. Footsteps came to his table in the corner and he smiled without opening his eyes.
"Thanks, Connie," he murmured, taking the offered beer without so much as looking. He'd known the perky blonde waitress since she was eight, so they'd passed the point of pleasant conversation. He was here to drink, she was here for support and said drink.
"Two Greek gods disguised as men walk into a bar," came a gentle voice, deep enough that it wasn't immediately identifiable as male or female. "A wise man in the corner says, 'you shouldn't drink, it only invites Death that much faster.' The first man replies with a snort that Death is more interested in a stiff drink than souls that night."
He sighed a chuckle, finishing the story.
"And the second remarks that there will always be Death, Time needs a beer right now. Then the wise man realizes who he's talking to, loses his mind, and a good night was lost once again because you were always showing off."
Thompson sat up, taking a swig of the beer before looking up at the young woman who stood next to his booth, shaking his head at her.
"Where the hell have you been, Erebes?"
"Chronos, I thought you'd be happy to see me," she chided, grinning at him, hiding her teeth admirably.
"Shit, no one's called me that in... couple thousand years," he laughed faintly, moving his feet and motioning her to sit across from him. She slid in gracefully, waving for a drink for herself, smiling as a bottle of deepest red local wine and a glass were brought over.
"It is you isn't it?" Thompson asked, leaning forward to stare into her eyes, seeing the echoes of the crimson flames deep behind the stunning green irises. "I didn't think I'd ever see you again after the whole god thing got old."
"That's half the fun of living forever," she chuckled taking a deep drink of the wine, which glistened like blood in the glass. "You never get to never see someone again."
"True. But a girl? You?" Thompson huffed. "Given this the body of a tremendous witch and demon, but still...a girl? Have you ever taken the form of a female? Ever?"
"I'm used to it now," she replied with a cock of her head.
"You're completely bonded to it. This vessel. Aren't you? Amazing."
"I am this vessel."
He just watched her as her gaze flashed across the crowded bar. The bustle and flow of the other living things in the room was curiously remote, sitting across from a being who had no age.
"She's changed you."
"The girl inside you. She's..." he shook his head, searching for words. "I can see her looking out, not just you. There's a wonder in these eyes that I've never seen before in yours."
She just shrugged, bring her eyes back to his, appraising him in one blink.
"I didn't think I'd come back to find you a Hunter," she said, raising a brow at him. "Bit ironic, isn't it?"
"I never took life. I live as a man. Always have," he responded, raising a brow right back. She conceded the point with a shrug, sipping her wine, eyes still on his.
"Anyway," he sighed, leaning back, running a hand through his hair. "For a couple centuries there after you left, I really thought these people had it figured out. They embraced reason, began to function as a true enlightened society. Then... same thing that always happens with humans. Fear. Greed. Hatred. Jealousy... It was bad for a while. Really bad. And whenever they get off track, so do the Others, you know that. A thousand years ago? This place was out of control. I had to do something. Superstition is as dangerous to me as it is to your kind. Someone had to stop the madness before the unwashed masses turned on us all."
She just regarded him levelly, ancient compassion in those young eyes.
"So what's it like? What's your grand plan?" he asked after a long pause.
"I'm just gonna go with it," she shrugged, pouring vanother glass. "It's kinda fun. Being mortal. Corporeal."
"You're not mortal any more than I am."