Falling Into Darkness Ch. 17byElianna©
"Will you quit it?"
"You keep looking in your mirror. Are you okay?"
Angel shrugged. "Yeah, I suppose so. I just feel..."
Mara felt her heart rate accelerate ever so slightly. Whenever Angel felt anxious, uneasy, whatever the hell it was she felt, bad things happened. They were on the north end of the city already, and if they were lucky they'd be able to ditch the car, hit the subway and disappear. That was the most important part. With Paola and the Ancient One on their tails, they needed to get out of New York and become invisible quickly. Initially she'd thought to find a new start in a different corner of the country, seeking safety and anonymity among the sea of strangers of the famous city. Despite all her efforts, it seemed that somehow her dark past had followed her; Paola had never been one to let his toys escape him.
She noticed Angel shiver again and look out her window, those incredible blue eyes scanning the streets and the darkness for something she knew was nearby, but couldn't identify. Her hands were unconsciously clenching and she shivered occasionally as she sat. The Little One probably thought she was being subtle, for she was working hard to restrain herself, but Mara had been watching people for a long time. Angel was obviously distraught and frustrated; she could feel that something wicked was coming, but she couldn't determine from where, when or how. Her expressive face fluctuated with expressions of frustration, anger, fear and sadness, as she continued to stare intently out the window and in the mirror.
"Easy, Little One," said Mara reaching out and taking her hand.
Angel clutched to her tightly. "I can feel him coming, Mara," she whispered.
Mara nodded. "We'll get away from him. I know it. I've been able to avoid him for two years, and that was before I had you and your incredible talents. Francisco doesn't stand a chance against the two of us."
Angel smiled wanly, giving her a look that clearly said 'keep telling yourself that, idiot.' Of course, she was right. The two of them still weren't a match for an old one like Paola. Their only option was to run.
"What if..." Mara began for the third time that night.
"No!" Angel snarled. "He said he'd put you on trial for what Paola forced you to do. I won't let him. I'm not going to let anyone hurt you anymore."
Mara chuckled warmly. "I think you've mixed up our roles. I'm supposed to be the mentor and you the Little One. I'm supposed to protect you."
"I'm so angry at him," she fumed. "He said he loved me, but he treated me like..." she growled irritably. "I'm not some stupid child!"
"You are a Little One," Mara said. "And he is your creator. Maybe you should give him another chance."
"Fine," Angel snapped. "No problem. Let's just turn ourselves in. You can take the blame for all of Paola's shit, and I'll meekly stand at his side and watch you do it. How does that sound?"
"Anyone tell you that you've got one hell of a temper?"
Angel growled again and stared out the window.
"Come on," Mara said shaking her head in amusement at Angel's moodiness. "We're almost there. Settle down. We're going to be okay."
Angel just shook her head and continued to peer into the darkness as they drove through the city. Every once and a while, she flinched or started only to close her eyes for a moment and then open them to stare once again.
Mara sighed. She couldn't imagine how difficult it must be to see things and feel things, knowing they were going to happen, but unable to understand how or when. For so long she'd wished for a special gift, not just the strange affinity to disarm security systems, but as she watched Angel flinch she wondered. It seemed sometimes gifts were blessings and sometimes they were curses.
Mara started looking for a place to stop and dump their SUV. They'd passed a few subway stations on the way already; it was time to abandon their identifying vehicle and make their way underground. She only caught the lights in her peripheral vision, but it was enough to make her turn. In that single second her brain registered everything. Angel's eyes glowed with power even as she stared looked hopelessly and horror stricken out the window at the oncoming lights of a large SUV. She debated about whether to slam on the brakes or punch on the gas to avoid the vehicle that would obviously broadside them, but she found her body frozen, much like Angel's, as she stared in surprise. The last thing she observed was that the vehicle wasn't braking, it was accelerating, and it was going to ram right into the passenger's side with incredible force.
Was she even alive? She hurt, she couldn't move and she was so...tired. She smelled her own blood, dripping from her nose, pooling about her body. She could hear her heartbeat, pounding in the silence. She was dying. She wanted to cry. There was no one to hold her as she died.
Fight! A tiny voice in the back of her mind echoed.
She was so tired.
She just needed to rest. She hurt so much. Was there no one to even hold her hand?
"Easy, Anna," a smooth sensual voice echoed in the darkness. "Easy," he breathed.
The melodious voice was soft and gentle and it slid over her body like a gentle caress, soothing her and comforting her.
She knew that voice. Somewhere in the dark recesses of her mind, a memory stirred. She recalled darkness, and those very words spoken in that beautifully powerful voice. Suddenly she was there again. His arms were strong and gentle as he held her, stroking her hair comforting her as she shivered in agony.
"Cael?" her own voice echoed from the past.
In the lassitude of pain, images that had been shunted away for the past month suddenly overwhelmed her. They were centered on one man: Alexander LeGaulle, Cael. In an agonizing moment a whirr of memories assaulted her. She remembered him holding her defiled, blood-covered body in a dark and dirty vault; his sensuous voice running over her body like a tender caress. She remembered his stories, their heart wrenching escape, their trip across country to Montana. Their story played in her mind like a movie; it seemed to last for hours though in reality she knew the knowledge was overwhelming her in merely a few seconds as she sat in agony.
Then finally she remembered her last moments, lying in despair as James Bradford and Kaiden molested her. Her last memories were jumbled and shaky. She recalled running through the house with the sounds of warfare about her. She saw herself shooting the vampire that was Bradford as he attacked her in madness. She remembered the shot to his head, and his heart even as her body bled dark blood from a wound in her abdomen and then...nothing. The rest was black.
Cael must have found her in that hallway, bloody and broken, and given her his blood. Cael... her Cael had come too late; or so they all thought.
Oh God! Cael!
Her mind recalled the little things; the way he smiled devilishly as he stole a French fry, how he straightened his jeans so self-consciously, uncomfortable with the casual dress. She could smell the spicy male scent combined with the sweet scent of his flesh that was uniquely his. She remembered was the way his hair curled when he ran his fingers through in frustration, rebelling against the rigid constraints of his meticulous style almost stubbornly. She could almost feel the comfort of his touch; the way his hand always seemed to find hers when she was afraid. She could see his eyes glittering dangerously as he hovered over her protectively.
Cael, her mind sighed in weary longing.
She'd lived for the past month in the shadows of a former life and yet she knew something horribly important was missing. Finally, everything made sense. She'd been feeling the ache in her soul, but never understanding what it meant. The darkness of forgetfulness had at last been filled, but now it only increased the ache and pain in her heart. She was going to leave him alone yet again.
Cael, oh my Cael, I'm so sorry.
She closed her sightless eyes. She was so tired.
There were noises outside now. Crunching and creaking. She didn't really care.
"Good God," an unfamiliar voice said. "You're really hurt. I'm going to help you."
She felt someone reach over her and unlatch her seatbelt, then carefully lift her out of her seat. He pulled on her legs to free them from the crumpled vehicle, and she moaned in agony.
"We're almost out," he said gently. "Be strong. We're almost there."
She moaned but did her best to relax and allow him to free her. Finally, he pulled her from the crumpled heap of Mara's SUV and pulled her close comfortingly.
"I've got some blood in my trunk, kiddo," he said. "You're going to need it to heal."
She felt him carry her for a moment and then lay her gently on the ground. For a moment she was left all alone, but then he took her hand again and held it tightly.
"Hang on," he said. "I know this feels awful. I can tell by your eyes, you're a Little One. I know you don't believe me, but I promise, you're going to be okay."
"I'm not going to die?" she breathed wearily.
She felt something press to her lips. It was cold, soft, and plastic, but at once she knew the smell; blood. Instinctively her fangs elongated and she bit into the bag purring in need as the chilled liquid splashed on her tongue. She didn't care that it was bagged. She didn't care that it wasn't warm, flowing from the veins of a live donor; her body was way beyond such things. She consumed it with desperate swallows exulting in the strength of the powerful healing essence as it flowed through her body.
"That's a girl," said the man holding the bag to her lips. "Drink up. It'll help you heal. You've lost too much blood to do it on your own."
She didn't reply. She simply swallowed with animalistic hunger, whimpering with need, longing for more to consume.
"Okay, kiddo," said the man. "That's probably enough for now. Give your body some time to heal."
She nodded, comforted by this stranger who gently stroked her hair and held her hand as she lay on the hard ground. Slowly she felt her body begin to battle its broken state, making her gasp in pain. The discomfort of healing wasn't the same as hunger; it wasn't an ache in her stomach that drove her need to consume. Instead, it was an agonizing pulse of energy radiating out from her core seeking out imperfections, and injury and repairing them to their original state. She could literally feel her skin closing and regenerating around her wounds, her internal organs repairing themselves, her bones painfully mending together while the adrenaline from shock faded from her system.
She whimpered and cursed in agony.
"That's it," the man said holding her hand tightly.
"Oh GOD!" she cried. "Oh God it hurts!"
He chuckled. "Yeah, tell me about it."
Finally, it seemed the agony of healing was over, though for a while she could only lay gasping. The strange vampire sat mutely with her, holding her hand stroking her hair comfortingly. As the last shudders went through her body, Angel's eyesight returned and she was able to look at him for the first time. He had soft green eyes and dark brown hair. He looked vaguely familiar.
"I know you," she said.
"Sort of," he agreed. "I saw you stopped on the road and offered my assistance. Remember me? My name's Jay."
Angel shook her head and tried to sort through the jumble of thoughts. Jay... she'd met him when he'd pulled over to check on Mara and her.
She sat up in horror.
"Where's Mara?" she demanded.
"You were the only one in the car," he replied. "Someone came and took her out of the vehicle and carried her off."
"Oh God," she cried. "He's got her."
"Who? Who is after you?"
"Francisco Paola," she whispered. "He's taken her. That's what this was about; he hurt me and took her with him."
"Your friend looked pretty tough," said Jay. "I'm sure she's okay."
Angel shook her head again. "Paola is a psychic. She can't resist him."
Jay was quiet for a moment. "Listen, Little One," he said. "I'm going to make a call real quick and get some help. You're not well enough to just go off on your own."
Angel nodded and laid her head back down on the cool cement. She was slowly feeling better, but she was horribly exhausted. She wanted nothing more than to find a bed and sleep, but her heart ached. Mara was in trouble, she was afraid, in pain. She had to be strong for her friend, she had to recover. She forced herself to sit up again.
"I got her some blood," she could hear Jay saying. "She's weak but okay. Her friend is nowhere to be seen."
Suddenly, it occurred to her who Jay might be calling. She could only hope that she and Mara had guessed correctly when he'd stopped for them earlier. "Who are you talking to?" she asked.
"Just some friends," Jay replied a little too evasively to be believable. Angel could tell he wasn't used to subterfuge.
"You're talking to the representatives of Alexander LeGaulle, aren't you?"
Jay was silent.
It was all the confirmation she needed.
"Can you call Alexander?"
"No one calls the Ancient One," he replied emphasizing the words as though she didn't have the right to call him by his name.
She forced herself to her feet, even though the only thing she really wanted to do was to sleep, and walked over to where Jay was talking on the phone pacing. For a moment she was dizzy and she had to take deep breaths to steady her reeling head. She cursed her aching body. She didn't have time to be weak; or rather, Mara didn't have time for her to be weak.
"You need to rest, Little One," said Jay, his brow furrowing at her as she struggled to stand and walk. "Yeah," he replied back into the phone. "We're on..." he swore in amazement as she ripped the phone from his hand.
"I want to talk to Alexander," she demanded into the phone.
"Are you Angel?" a man asked her.
"Yeah," she replied. "I want to talk to Alexander."
"He'll be there in a few minutes, if you'll just wait," said the man.
"I don't have time to wait," she said. Tears filled her eyes and she cursed herself for being weak and weepy. "Please," she begged her voice breaking. "Paola's going to kill Mara. Please let me talk to Alexander."
"We're sending help your way right now, Angel," said the man.
"I understand that," she replied. "I just want to talk to Alexander."
The man on the other end was silent.
"They're heading down Broadway," said the voice over the radio.
"We'll be there in 20 minutes," said their driver.
"We've got them, brother," said Kieran grinning at Alexander.
He was rather proud of the team and their intelligence; something he'd worked hard to establish over the last decade. They'd managed to locate Mara and Anna within 24 hours of initiating the all-out search. Considering the system was run exclusively by vampires and many couldn't get through the day without seeking rest, he was quite pleased.
"Not too shabby," he added in satisfaction.
Alexander, however, was silent. He'd not said much of anything as they'd begun to head towards the north end of the island. Once again, he was somehow lost in the strange connection he shared with the irritating girl. Kieran privately admitted to himself that the only reason he found her so irritating was because she was willful and stubborn; something he'd never tolerate in a woman of his own. He'd never imagined Alexander falling for a woman like her, though he admitted that it kept the Ancient One on his toes. He didn't doubt that Anna would drive Alexander to hysterics with her antics for many centuries to come.
"You okay?" Darian asked Alexander startling Kieran from his musings.
"She's afraid," he said curtly.
"You're feeling her more," Darian replied. "We're close."
"Yeah," Alexander replied. "Close enough to feel her fear, but once again, too far to help her."
Kieran wished he could say something to comfort his friend. This was all too similar for his taste, too. The Ancient One could feel his mate's fear, but he couldn't get there fast enough; there were too many roadblocks in his way. Alexander had been nearly beside himself last time, and though he was restrained right now, Kieran could feel his power crackling in the air. He was just a hair away from losing it once again. The last time he'd nearly destroyed his own house; Kieran couldn't imagine the damage he'd do to the city if something happened to Anna again.
"We'll get there, brother," said Kieran comfortingly. "We've got a civilian following them, and he's doing a good job about reporting their turn-offs. He's leading us right to them."
Alexander nodded and was silent.
Kieran felt a little prickle on his spine and turned to see Darian's silver eyes glowing slightly. It seemed that he was also bent on helping more than he did last time. He knew his creator's inability to sense Anna was a huge frustration. He felt as though he'd let Alexander down by not being able to see that she was going to turn into a vampire. While Darian didn't talk about it, Kieran knew that he took it very personally when he'd learned that Anna survived. As a dream walker, he felt it was his right to be able to know such things, especially when he wanted to help his best friend. Anna was like a black hole in his sea of visions and it drove Darian to distraction. Even standing next to the girl he could only vaguely see her future and the events that were happening or were going to happen.
After a few moments, Darian let out an irritated sigh and shook his head.
"They're still heading south on Broadway," said the dispatcher who was in communication with the civilian tail.
Suddenly Alexander gasped and then he let out a growl of fury.
"She's been hurt!" he cried angrily. "I swear to God I'm going to personally dismember whoever just touched her."
"The SUV has just been in a serious accident; they were broadsided on the passenger's side by a silver Chevy Tahoe," said the dispatch.
"Is Angel on the passenger side?" asked Kieran.
The driver asked the question on the radio.
"That's a yes. Angel is on the passenger side. The tail says it's a bad accident; the girl is probably seriously injured. He's going to get out and see if he can help... wait...the driver of the Chevy has gotten out of the car... he's kin."
"Paola," Darian breathed his eyes glittering again.
"He's going to the driver's side of the vehicle." There was a long pause. "He's got the other target, Mara. She's unconscious. He's heading down the street with Mara, towards the subway."
"Is Angel in the car? Is she okay?" Alexander demanded taking the radio away from the driver.
"She's still in the car. The tail is going to tend to her, his name is Jay Martin."
"Tell him to stay on the line," said Alexander.
"He just hung up to tend to the Little One," said the dispatcher.
Alexander growled. "Get him back on the line, NOW!"
"What is their location?" said Kieran pulling the radio from Alexander's hand.
The Ancient One snarled angrily, but Kieran ignored him. They needed to get to Angel quickly, before the human police showed up at the accident. She might need Alexander's blood to heal if she was in serious condition, too.
"Claremont and 120th," said the dispatcher.
"We're on our way," said Kieran. "Go as fast as you can," he said to the driver. "The three of us will discourage pursuit."
Their driver nodded and swallowed slightly. Kieran could tell he was a little nervous. It wasn't every day when one was the driver for three of the oldest vampires alive. He could probably feel the air sizzling with their respective powers. It surely made for a very nerve-wracking experience. Kieran could feel Alexander and Darian reaching out with their minds 'discouraging' any police officers from finding their outrageous speed offensive and smiled a little wickedly. After all these years, there was still something boyishly exciting about evading the law and getting away with it.