Redemption Ch. 02byElianna©
Redemption Ch. 02: There's a flipside to every coin.
"What the hell's happening?"
Mara looked up from Angel's terrified face and growled at the frantic bodyguard angrily. "How the hell am I supposed to know? She's never done this before!"
Angel whimpered and shook violently, her eyes wide with horror, but they were obviously seeing something very different from the small cell.
"Angel," Mara murmured soothingly. "Come on, kiddo. Snap out of it."
"What should I do?" the guard demanded.
Mara smiled a little, he had good reason to be frantic. She wondered if Alexander would kill him if he allowed something to happen to Angel.
"I think maybe we should call the Ancient One," she said watching in fascination as her friend flinched and panted. "Angel has visions and she used to flinch a lot in the car when we were driving cross-country. She's never had one that made her act like this before, though."
His expression grew darker, if that was possible. "The Ancient One is in a meeting with the other vampire rulers. No one can interrupt him."
She stroked Angel's cheek as she tried to come up with something else. She hated feeling so...powerless. From the small blood connection they shared, Mara could sense her fear. Hell, she could smell the fear on her, even if she didn't feel her body shaking and couldn't see her horror-struck eyes.
"I think we should get her out of here and comfortable," she said at last. "If she doesn't come out of it on her own, we might have to break up his meeting. She's his Little One, and he might understand her power better than you or I."
She reached out to take her friend in her arms and growled irritably as she struggled with the handcuffs again. Kieran Montasse was an arrogant bastard.
"Look," she said to Angel's guard. "This is pissing me off. You got a pick set?"
He looked at her curiously.
"You know," she said holding her hands up in exasperation, "A lock pick set."
"Lord Kieran might not like..." the guard replied.
Angel gasped and writhed again. Tears leaked out of the corners of her eyes and down her temples. Mara growled impatiently.
"This is Alexander's Angel, and she's hurting. We need to do something, and I probably know her better anyone. So give me the damn pick set."
Had the Ancient One really put Angel in the care of this moron?
He seemed to think about it for a moment more and then he nodded. "The name's Dorian." He reached into his coat and pulling out a small case.
She nodded curtly as she accepted the set. "These picks aren't very substantial," she commented as she deftly raked the lock with the tiny pick.
"I have an image to keep," he replied. "It does the job in a pinch, and it makes it through metal detectors."
Mara arched an eyebrow. Now that was handy. She might have to palm these suckers before she headed out of this place. With a couple of rakes and a slight twist of the lock, the cuffs slipped off her wrists.
"Nice job," he complimented her.
She didn't bother to smile. He was definitely a moron. "Let's get Angel back to her rooms."
"I'm brining her back to the Ancient One's chambers," he said into a microphone on lapel. He turned back to her. "We've got a couple of doctors on staff here, they might be able to help, too."
He bent over to lift the still whimpering and wide-eyed Angel gently in his arms.
"Be careful," Mara said looking at her friend with concern.
"Don't worry, Mara," said Dorian. "I'd rather not be staked in the sun by an irritated Alexander LeGaulle."
"Staking in the sun will be the least of your concerns if you fuck up and I'm still around," Mara replied.
"Huh. I wonder why Kieran handcuffed you?" he mused eyeing her irritably. "I would have gagged you."
"Aren't you charming?" Mara grumbled. It seemed that most of Alexander's men were assholes. "Let's go."
Dorian led the way out of the prison cell and Mara walked along side him keeping her face glued on Angel's hoping to see some kind of change. The strange connection they shared let her feel the edges of her friend's emotions, and just that vague shadow was awful to endure. Whatever it was that Angel was going through was...horrible. That was probably why she didn't feel his presence until the last second and by then it was too late to make a run for it.
"What the hell happened?" his dark voice demanded angrily.
Mara felt herself slink just a little. Something about his deep, dangerous voice always seemed to up her anticipation level. She wasn't sure whether it was fear, anger, or...whatever, he made her heart race with adrenaline.
Kieran walked into the opulent hallway dressed in an expensive charcoal suit; a far cry from the street gear he'd been wearing the night before. He obviously had the chance to clean up from their stay in the subway last night, and if she wasn't so jealous, she would have thought the business attire made him look...edible. She sniffed in irritation. The bastard had the chance to luxuriate in a shower, while she slept in some cell on a tiny cot with her hands cuffed. Her fingers unconsciously went to her hair and raked through her tangles, then she froze and dropped her hand.
Why the hell did she care?
Kieran looked right at her, his dark eyes glittering. All thoughts of her appearance melted away. Her heart pounded and her breath shortened. Suddenly she had the intense urge to make a mad dash out of the opulent mansion before he managed to lock her up again. He frowned slightly at her, and she felt her hands tremble.
Damn it! How did he do that?
"Sir," said Dorian nodding professionally. "She collapsed like this and hasn't come out of it."
"I always knew she was trouble," he muttered irritably to himself, but when he joined them he looked at Angel's face with concern.
Now that he was closer, she could smell the slight scent of cologne. It was spicy and exotic; almost contradictory to businessman image he sported. The smell made her think of the warrior who'd kicked her ass last night, and not some prissy executive. Somehow, with his predatory nature concealed, he seemed more dangerous to her. It was intoxicating, alluring, and as much as she loathed him, it called to her.
She frowned at herself. She had to get out this place. She was going nuts. She looked at Angel's wide eyes and sighed in resignation. She couldn't leave her best friend like this, no matter how much Kieran annoyed her.
He touched Angel's cheek with his fingertips, and Mara could feel a slight push with his mind as he tried to break the connection she had with the vision.
"Do you know what you're doing?" she demanded feeling suddenly protective of her friend.
He looked up at her and seemed to rake her body with his stare in a way that just pissed her off.
"How the hell did you get those cuffs off?" he demanded. He turned to the guard who still held Angel protectively. "If you don't want to lose your position, Dorian, you better explain why my prisoner is free and Angel is unconscious."
"Back off," Mara snapped indignantly. Not that she really cared much about the poor guard, but she hated seeing someone get in trouble for something out of their control. "Angel came to see me and she just started screaming."
"Do you always have the effect on people?"
"Are you always such a jackass?" she retorted before she could help herself. Out of the corner of her eye she could see Dorian's face drop with shock. She guessed that people didn't usually talk to "Lord Montasse" like that. Kieran seemed to bring out the worst in her temper.
What was it about him that ignited her like that?
"Sorry," she said, as she took a deep breath to calm herself. "I think she's having a vision, but I've never seen one last this long."
"She's done something like this before?"
Mara shook her head. "Not like this. Sometimes she'd see things and flinch from them, but this is different."
He looked at her thoughtfully, calculatingly, then. She wasn't quite sure if she liked that look.
"Let's get her back to Alexander's rooms," he said. "Then you're going to start telling me everything you've seen Angel do when she has visions."
She almost pointed out that they were on their way before he interrupted them, but decided against it. Let the arrogant prick think he was a genius.
Several more vampires dressed in the same black suits as Dorian stood before a doorway and looked at them expectantly. Mara noted that they all bowed low to Kieran and looked at her curiously as she followed him and Angel. She glanced around as she stepped inside the Ancient One's private rooms trying not to look like some ogling bumpkin, but, she was curious.
Yeah, the Ancient One was beyond rich. Angel was one lucky kid.
She frowned and looked at her whimpering friend.
Then again, maybe she wasn't so lucky.
"Put her on the sofa," Kieran commanded as he disappeared into another room.
Dorian gently situated her on a couch, and Kieran returned with a pillow from what Mara assumed must have been the Ancient One's bedroom. He gently lifted Angel's head, put the pillow behind it, and smoothed her hair from her face. Something about the gesture made her arch her eyebrows in surprise. Kieran...gentle?
"What?" he demanded sharply.
Damn. He didn't miss anything.
"It seems you have maybe one nice bone in your body," she answered.
His dark eyes glittered angrily. "I'm not going to explain myself to you." He stood abruptly and sat down in an armchair beside the sofa.
Mara sighed and knelt beside her friend and took her hand comfortingly.
"Tell me about her visions," Kieran demanded.
"She started having them when Francisco started chasing me," Mara answered. "She told me she'd see him like he was really in the room beside her. He'd talk to her, and sometimes he'd appear in the mirror behind her. It freaked her out."
Kieran's face darkened. "The visions interacted with her?"
Mara shook her head. "I'm not sure. She said that Paola called her my name all the time, so it was like she was me in her visions. She told me that when she saw him in a dream she seemed to be herself and not a part of the scenario, but if the visions came when she was awake...it was difficult on her."
"She's got to learn to control this," he mused.
"Yeah," Mara agreed rolling her eyes with irritation. "She's the Little One of the oldest vampire in the world. I'm sure she knows all about how to manage that kind of power."
"What I'd kill for the powers of a psychic. Then I could force you to shut your mouth."
"Well," she retorted, "sucks to be you, huh?"
Once again she felt the strange tension electrify the room. She wasn't sure whether Kieran was about to jump out of his chair and beat the shit out of her or...
Angel's eyes shot open.
"NO!" she screamed her arms and legs flailing violently.
"Angel!" Mara gasped as one of her arms smacked her hard on the side of the head.
Angel screamed. "NO! NO! I won't let you! NO!"
"Shit," Mara swore ducking another flying limb. She tried to grab her friend to restrain her, but in her panic Angel was terribly strong. "Angel!"
Her friend screamed and shook her head.
"Get out of the way!" Kieran snapped as he launched himself at her and tried to wrap his body about her to restrain her struggles.
"NO!" Angel screamed again fighting violently.
"Damn it, Angel," he snapped. "You were a handful before you became a vampire." He caught her in his arms and held her with his own body restraining her flailing arms and legs with his own. Still, Angel fought. Her head banged back against his chest, and she screamed and cried.
"Angel!" Mara cried feeling sick. She'd never seen her friend so desperate, so violent, so... terrified. She took her friend's face in her hands.
"No!" Angel wailed pulling her face from her and banging it against Kieran's collarbone. He grunted in pain.
Mara didn't know what came over her. It was like something snapped. She reached out and slapped her hard across the cheek. "Pull yourself together!" she snarled slapping her once again.
"What the hell are you doing?" Kieran shouted in horror even as he tried to shield Angel from any more of Mara's slaps.
"You got any better ideas?"
"You don't slap Alexander's Little One. He probably felt it, you idiot! They're fucking connected. He's going to kill you!"
"If they're so damned connected, then where is he?" Mara demanded angrily.
"You don't just run out on a meeting with the vampire kings of the world," Kieran retorted.
"Not even when his Little One is suffering?"
"He has a responsibility!"
"That's fucked up! She's his responsibility, too."
Kieran glared at her angrily, his dark eyes literally glittering.
She stared right back at him her breast heaving with anger.
"Mara?" Angel whispered softly.
Mara froze and then stared intently at her friend's face. Angel was a mess; mascara trails down her cheeks, hair awry, cheeks flushed, and her eyes were...haunted, but she seemed like she was finally aware of her surroundings.
"Hey kiddo, you're back."
Angel nodded mutely and struggled a little again against Kieran's restraints. "Let me go Kieran," she said quietly. Her voice was hoarse. "Please," she added in a soft whimper.
Kieran slowly relaxed his grip on her and she instantly slid out of his embrace onto the floor.
"You okay?" Mara asked cautiously.
Angel shook her head. "No." She wrapped her arms about her middle, and bowed her head breathing deeply.
Mara sat back down next to her feeling awkward, and a little guilty. First, she wasn't the best at giving comfort, and second, she'd just slapped her best friend across the face. When Angel's shoulders shook a little as she tried to get control of herself, though, an instinctive trait took over and Mara reached out and put her arm around her friend. It felt a little awkward. She wasn't used to affection yet, even though Angel was the closest thing to a daughter...maybe a sister...that she'd had in her entire existence.
Kieran stirred restlessly on the couch behind them. It occurred to Mara that perhaps she wasn't the only one uncomfortable with the more vulnerable of emotions. She wondered if the dark vampire had learned to regard such things as weaknesses, too.
Angel leaned into the embrace and continued to breathe deeply for a long time.
"I had a vision," she finally managed to say quietly.
"Yeah, I kinda figured," Mara said. "It seemed pretty rough. You don't have to talk about it if you don't want to."
"No," Angel said looking up. She really looked like hell, but like always, her blue eyes glinted stubbornly. "I want to."
"Okay, kid," Mara replied. "We're listening."
Angel stared a nothing for a moment and then took a deep breath. "It started out and I was just walking down the street. I know it was a street here in New York, but I don't think I've ever been there. Anyway, I stopped in front of this café and read the menu." She paused for a moment. "It was weird, because I swear I saw both of you sitting together at a table, but I wasn't interested in you, so I didn't glance long. I heard a car behind me, and I felt the strange compulsion–you know; the one when we call to humans to get enough control to feed on them." She shivered. "I couldn't resist the compulsion. Even though I knew what it was, I couldn't ignore the calling. I turned around and there was a car..." she shivered. "There were two vampires standing on the street waiting for me. They commanded me to go with them, and I got in the car with them without fighting."
Mara lost track of the story for a moment as the beautiful woman with the auburn hair flashed before her eyes. She'd read the menu, glanced at them fleetingly, and then turned to get in the car with the two vampires. Could it have been...
Angel's shaking brought her back to the story. "They fed off of me, and it was... awful. Usually it's good for humans, you know? But these guys, they fed to frighten me, and bit at painful places. I was screaming inside, but their commands still kept me silent. I don't know...maybe one of them was a psychic, but I couldn't manage to do anything other than whimper and cry silently. We drove for a long time, and they didn't do anything for a while, except comment to each other about what a find I was. They pulled at my hair...it was red, so it obviously wasn't me."
Oh GOD! They'd seen her. They'd just let those vampires abduct that poor young woman! By Angel's screams, her fate couldn't have been a good one.
"Then the vision flashed and I was locked in some kind of cell. I was naked. It was dark; dark for a human, but fine for a vampire. Then the door opened. A man came inside, but it was too dark for me to tell much about him. He..." Angel shuddered, "raped me, and then he bit me and fed from me. He used me for blood and for sex, and then he left. It was...awful. And, the scenario repeated. At first, I fought every one of them. I screamed, I begged I cried, but you know how weak humans are in comparison to us. I didn't have a chance. The vampires kept coming, using me for sex, feeding from me. Some of them were brutal, and some were just plain efficient. I, or whoever I was in the vision started to give up. She stopped fighting, and she grew weaker with each feed. As she stopped struggling, I realized that I was in a vision, and that these things weren't really happening to me. That's when I finally got out."
Angel shuddered again and then sighed. "Thanks for listening to me," she said. "I'm going to clean up. I think Alexander's almost done with his meeting, and he's really upset."
Mara couldn't move. She knew she should be standing beside Angel and comforting her some more, but she couldn't make herself get up. That beautiful human. She'd just watched her as she was abducted into a fate of blood, sex and hell. After all the horrible things she'd witnessed, this one seemed to strike a chord more powerfully than any other. She'd seen Paola murder men, women, children, but somehow she'd always had the comfort that she didn't have any other options. She couldn't resist his power; she was as helpless against him as those poor humans. But this was different. She had simply sat and watched. She had the power to intervene. She had the ability to make a difference, but...she simply stood aside and stared.
She couldn't blink, she couldn't breathe.
"Mara," his deep voice broke through her shock. "Breathe."
She took in a ragged breath. Her lungs seared and her eyes filled with tears.
A hand touched her shoulder. "You and I both know these kinds of things happen to humans."
She pulled away from him and stood with a snarl. "So that makes them okay? So I should just stand aside and let some poor girl suffer? We should let Angel relive it? You're as much as a monster as Francisco was!"
He rose so quickly his shape blurred and his hand grabbed her neck in anger. "Don't ever say something like that to me again," he snarled, truly furious. "You have no idea what you're talking about."
Whatever she'd been feeling up to that point was suddenly overwhelmed by the seething rage in Kieran's eyes. She stared at him in shock, and for the first time in absolute terror. Something she'd just said struck closer to home than she'd ever intended.
She didn't know what the hell she was talking about! He was nothing like Francisco! Did she even realize what he'd been doing the last four hours trying to locate that poor woman? He was going to throttle her! She was bossy, self-centered, and devious. He wouldn't tolerate such accusations, especially since she knew nothing about him, nothing of the journey he'd made. Nothing!