DISCLAIMER: Angel the Series/Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy etc. Elizabeth Blaine and attendant characters belong to Wes Craven etc. I'm just playing. If, herein, other characters bear a certain resemblance to familiar faces, it's intentional and they, of course, belong to their various creators as well.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: 1. I write femslash. Therefore, there be f/f lovin' ahead. If you don't like it, find another 'ship. 2. Vampires and blood and stakes, oh my! This story is dark in places. Not all the time, and not forever, but there will be some points where things aren't pretty. If you are bothered by graphic descriptions of the evil that men do, you may wish to find something fluffy. 3. Some knowledge of the show, Angel and the movies Dracula II and III (Ascension and Legacy) are quite probably necessary, though not entirely so.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Resurrection is for the Unbelievers
Elizabeth didn't look happy, but then, Kennedy wasn't ready to throw any parties either. For every three people they questioned, at least one of them had some tale of missing friends, frightening encounters or flat out fights with some of Caruso's toughs. What they did learn was enough to make both women ready for some first class ass kicking.
"Kate's going to want to move on this," Kennedy said softly as they walked down a deserted street on their way back to the office. "If she doesn't, I might have to put a call into slayer central this can't be allowed to happen."
Docked at the harbor, a cargo ship belonging to one of Caruso's shell companies was scheduled to depart. All sources held this as the place where the warlock would take his victims. Both Kennedy and Elizabeth were in agreement it was the perfect way to smuggle several hundred children out of Chicago. If they failed to act, those kids were certain to come to a horrible end.
The vampath's eyes narrowed as she said, "It won't come to that, Kennedy. If I have to, I'll stop him myself."
"Whoa, pretty sure of your butchness aren't you, Doc?" Kennedy gave the vampath the once over. "You got a death wish or something? Because I sure as hell want to live to kiss my girlfriend for a few more years."
Unable to meet the slayer's eyes, Elizabeth muttered, "First do no harm." She stopped walking and waited for Kennedy to face her. "Every breath I take is a gift, Kennedy. If my life is the cost then so be it." The vampath's eyes were flat, but clear. She looked at Kennedy and smiled sadly.
"Broody, much? I know the history, Doc. I got my lessons just fine but if you're looking for permission to commit suicide you won't find it here." Kennedy crossed her arms and glared at the vampath. "So you have some dark shit inside you so what? Doin' good ain't about who's got the brightest halo, it's about makin' sure the bad guys know they can't fuck around with our world and get away with it."
"What if you could become a bad guy?" Elizabeth covered her face with her hands and shook her head. "It's in me this thing, this creature that has given me a second chance at life. At love. And it's tasted something so special so sweet that to not have it to lose it would drive me insane."
"Love sucks, don't it?" Kennedy started walking, and Elizabeth followed. "It's also the grandest damned thing in the whole fucking world. You're in love. Yay you. You're scared because of it." The slayer snorted and kicked at a stray rock. "Welcome to real life, Doc."
The vampath rolled her eyes. "Gee, thanks. I feel so much better now," she groused.
Kennedy smirked. "Hey, you want the warm fuzzies? Talk to Willow. She's the one with all the gooey answers. Me, I call 'em like I see 'em." The slayer stuffed her hands in her pockets and shrugged.
"Yeah. Well..." Elizabeth bit her lip. "Look, can you, uh just tell everyone that I'll Tell Kate that I'll be back later. You know everything I know, so it's not like I'm needed for the big planning session."
Kennedy cocked her head. "Gonna run away again, Doc? How original."
"No," Elizabeth said, shaking her head. "No I need to go and think. I need to go somewhere private. Please, just I'll be okay. Look I have my phone and you can call me if I don't come back by tomorrow, okay?"
Against her better judgment, Kennedy nodded. "But if I have to hunt you down, I swear I'm gonna let Willow lecture you."
Having seen how the witch could turn her slayer girlfriend into a squirming pile of shame-face, Elizabeth knew how harsh a threat that was.
"You won't have to hunt me down, I promise." Taking a running start, the vampath was up a wall and to a nearby roof within moments.
Kennedy's low whistle followed her. "Damn. Makes me almost wanna be a vamp."
Familiarity breathed around Elizabeth like an old coat. The sweet scent of incense, the hard bars under her knees it was all a part of the ritual that had eaten up many a Sunday morning in her youth. From the moment she had entered the church, she had been fighting tears caused by the almost painful nostalgia.
It had taken her a while to actually go inside. There was a tree just a few hundred feet away from the main doors, and from there, she had perched, watching the interior. Fear gnawed at her. What if she wasn't supposed to enter a house of God? After all, she had been a vampire. The demon had lived within her and done evil in the name of His greatest Enemy.
On the other hand, she was also terrified that she would be allowed to enter, but once within, she would be struck down the moment she dared beg for forgiveness. Stuck in her quandary, she had almost decided to quit, and turn her back on the mirage of comfort.
Evening mass ended, and the church emptied. The doors were thrown open and the scent of myrrh floated out, catching in her throat and forcing her to climb down from her perch and steal inside before the pastor could close the doors.
The nave was empty, devoid of life, and yet so filled with it that her symbiote swelled with satiation. The light from dozens of candles glowed steadily upon an altar and somewhere, someone was whistling a cheerful tune.
Dominating the room was a simple wooden cross. Unlike many of the cruciforms that the vampath had seen, this one was bare of Christ bloodied or otherwise. Even the stained glass lining the clerestory windows were of gorgeous, art nouveau inspired themes rather than the lives of the saints.
Taking a seat and then lowering herself to a kneeler had seemed perfectly natural. With her eyes closed, Elizabeth could almost imagine she heard the voices of the choir lifted in holy song.
"Can I help you?" The soft voice broke the solemnity but not the peace of the chamber.
Elizabeth glanced up and her hand went to her mouth in shock. The face of the priest bearing down on her was as familiar to her as her own. So taken aback by the man's appearance was she that it took a long moment for her to notice the odd cane in his left hand.
The gentle tap-tap-tapping of the device struck a memory and she bit down on her knuckle to keep from crying out.
Luke? Blind? How dear God, how? Scars covered his face and obscured his once beautiful eyes in thick folds of burn-ravaged tissue. Burned. God. He must've been caught by Iscariot's kin trying to escape Romania. Pain for what he had suffered suffused her and she found herself getting angry. Rather than exploding, she forced herself to calm to explain the need that had driven her to the church in the first place.
Softly, she said, "I came to pray, Father."
If he recognized her voice, Luke gave no indication. Instead, the young priest knelt beside her.
"What are you praying for, my friend?" He reached for her hand and unthinking, she gave it to him. His fingers were warm and calloused, hardened in places by calluses that one only earns from wielding a stake. Yet they were too, oddly soft and gentle, cradling her hand so lightly that it might be a bird ready to take flight the moment he attempted to cage her.
A sort of song seemed to radiate from him a piece of peace that soothed her frazzled nerves.
"Forgiveness, Father. I pray that God will forgive my darkness and purify my sins."
"Wow, you sure don't sweat the small stuff do you?" said the priest. He smiled briefly and Elizabeth's heart nearly shattered at the ruination of her friend's joyful visage. "What you ask is a tall order by anyone's standards. You sure he's up for it?"
Elizabeth hung her head. "I don't know, but it's such a heavy burden and I'm scared that I can't do it alone."
"So you're alone? You put yourself in His hands and claim to have no one's love?" Luke's tone was gently mocking and for a moment, Elizabeth wondered if he knew her.
"No, I " She sobbed and rested her head against the pew in front of her. "I have a choice to make and no matter what I do, there's a really good chance I'm going to do some bad things. I I've hurt people in the past, and I don't want to do that again. Not now. Especially not not her."
Her. Luke felt his jaw stiffen. Even now, even after the years had drifted by, the pain of her loss still haunted him. He would never be the one. He could not save her twice. The priest started to rise. "Do you wish to make a confession?"
The stilted phraseology caused Elizabeth to withdraw her hand from his. He would not help her.
Sighing, she said, "No no, I've already made my confessions. I just wanted to pray."
Luke struggled with his conscience. Maybe maybe he could offer hope, and in doing so, find his own peace. He settled down again. "Then pray, my friend. And remember this He is with you, beside you His footsteps mirror yours when you are strong and when you are not, it is He who carries you. He has already Absolved you isn't it time for you to exonerate yourself?."
Tears rimmed Elizabeth's eyes. She looked at him, seeking any sign that he knew her and found none. Turning her face downward, she said, "Thank you, Father. Your words bring a measure of hope and I will think on them." Closing her eyes, Elizabeth continued to pray.
The priest stood and waited while the vampath sought what comfort she could in the rituals of prayer. When she stood and walked away, he lifted his face toward the cross that hung above the altar.
A thousand shades of memory flooded the priest's mind. Shadowed images that carried him from Iscariot's castle to the arms of a coven of vampires. They had blinded him, and would have killed him, if not for Uffizi. The once-priest, now vampire, had freed him and given him an oath.
"One hundred years, Luke. Then I rise. Warn them."
Luke had awakened in Rome, in the care of a blind old cardinal who had taught him the ways of the priesthood. Though he had never been a religious man, Luke found an odd calm in the ritual and form of the faith. He had warned them, and they had sent him here, to wait. For what he did not know, but perhaps Luke sighed and shook his head. He knew.
For her. She had known him as he had known her, and that was as it should be.
"Okay, I get it. If she passes this little test, I get to play the wise mentor and friend." He laughed mirthlessly. "I guess I can handle that."
Turning away, listened to the sounds of the city.
"You've got a crappy road to follow, my friend. Be strong. I hope you find your peace."
Closing the door to her loft, Kate saw a shadow through a curtained window. Going to it, she opened the casement and said, "You left without saying goodbye."
"Yeah. I had to do something."
"Feel better now? Did you and Kennedy have fun breaking a few faces?" she asked absently.
"You let me go. You didn't chase me down and stop me." Elizabeth's tone was accusatory. Even prayer had not completely eradicated the knot of pain that ate at the vampath's heart.
"Why should I? I trust you."
"You trust me? A former vampire? A killer who by rights should be dead and dust?"
"No, I trust my friend, Doc. I trust my lover, Elizabeth. I trust my partner, Liz. Yeah, I trust you all of you. The dark and the light, the good and the bad because even that which is bad about you is still good. You're not evil, Elizabeth and we both know this. God, you've felt me inside of you. You know how my heart beats surely you don't think that all that's going to change just because you got a little impulsive?"
At Kate's words, something dark and hard inside of Elizabeth melted. "Partner?" The vampath stepped from the shadows and squatted by the window. "Are you sure?"
Kate snorted and shook her head. "Yeah. I'm more sure of that than of anything else. It's been a long time since I felt this way maybe never actually and I don't intend to let it rot. Now get in here so I can kiss you silly."
Elizabeth climbed through the window and into Kate's arms. The detective cupped her hands around the vampath's face, stroking her lips with her thumbs briefly before leaning up and kissing her tenderly. "Welcome home. Next time, please use the front door."
The best laid plans oft go awry was the old saw, or something to that general effect. Kate looked at the ten odd vamps that were circling her and decided that next time she was going to call in sick and tell Angel to come stop the Ultra Big Bad Guy himself.
Everything seemed to have gone off without a hitch. They snuck aboard the ship and went about searching for the kids. Kennedy, Elizabeth and Dersk took the middle deck while Tiatitania led several Ssilligorth clansmen below decks. It was up to Kate, Willow and two of Dersk's cousins to locate and capture Caruso.
Kate had just gotten word that the nonhuman kids had been found when all Hell broke loose.
First came a godawful tone that just about made Kate's ears bleed, then a ripping, grinding roar, that was quickly followed by a nauseating sinking sensation. Upon observation, Kate discovered that the ship was rapidly disappearing beneath the surface of Lake Michigan.
"Oh shit" was on the tip of her tongue when she realized that even though the ship was sinking, none of the water was actually coming over the side. Instead, a thin membrane seemed to surround the vessel, protecting it. The more it sank, the more obvious it became until Willow looked up from casting a spell, and shouted, "Grab something and hold on!"
With very few options, Kate wrapped one arm through the rung of a ladder while fending off blows from a vampire's fist with the other.
It wasn't the sudden, blinding flash of light, nor the twisting, sickening drop in the pit of her stomach or even, the overly pervasive stench of ozone that told the detective that they were definitely not in Kansas, Ohio or even the United States anymore. No, it was the utterly disgusting, drab, overly macabre swampish appearance of the landscape.
Nothing like it existed on Earth, not even in the deepest parts of the Louisiana bayou.
The ship floated on a pool of brackish substance that burbled and spat. It wasn't long before patches of the stuff appeared on the deck. The garish lighting revealed that it was as red as blood. During the fight, one of the vamps landed next to a puddle, stuck his hand in it and let out a howl of pure greed. In moments the liquid was gone.
"Blood! It's an ocean of blood!" he yelled as he dove off the side.
Several of the other vamps joined him, giving Kate and her friends a brief break. Regrouping, the detective grabbed Willow and said, "What the hell is going on?"
The witch was dazed. A cut under one eye wept a steady stream of blood while she cradled an injured arm close to her chest.
"We've done a little hop, skip and dimension jump," she replied glumly. Biting her lip she said, "It's gonna be a bitch to get home."
"Oh fuck me," said Kate.
Three decks up, Elizabeth, Kennedy and Dersk were enjoying the benefits of a workout courtesy of Caruso's demonic guard.
The double headed axe in Kennedy's hand looked six sizes too big for the diminutive slayer but she wielded it with a power and a grace that often had Elizabeth wishing for a spare moment to applaud the slayer's efforts. By contrast, the paired, wickedly curved daggers the vampath had chosen seemed clumsy, though effective. Not that she relied on them very much.
Mostly, she played upon the remnants of her vampirism. With her teeth sunk deep in a scaled throat, and brackish, black blood flowing around her lips, she could latch her psyche into theirs and weave a spell of rapport that had most of her targets racing for the nearest side rail. Those that didn't run found a quick end on the edge of her blades.
Dersk held a baseball bat and swung like a major leaguer. Weapons had never been his strong point but he didn't need finesse when it came to the bat. The wet, crunching noises that followed an impact were all the encouragement he needed.
On the other side of the ship, Tiatitania and three of her most trusted clansmen were herding a line of crying, frightened children onto a lifeboat. These were not the missing humans they were on another level of the ship, still trapped behind Caruso's forces. Instead, these were young demons of all shapes and sizes.
Looking around, the Ssilligorthic woman growled softly. "Aborlas, you and Dreslan stay here and guard the children. Kangr you're with me." She and the bright orange youth peeled away from the other two and headed toward the sounds of combat.
Kate ducked a fist, kicked out and dropped to her knees to avoid another blow. Three feet away, Willow's face was screwed up in concentration as she used magic to launch several vampires over the side of the ship.
Gunfire echoed four times. Dust filled the air. Coughing and gasping, Kate reloaded and ran to the witch's side.
Grabbing the younger woman's arm, she shouted, "Willow come on, we have to keep going!"
Blinking owlishly, the witch groaned but nodded. "Going. Right, because we have to get the bad guy and find the portal."
"Portal?" Kate said as they ran down a deserted corridor.
The witch was silent. Kate turned to look and found Willow leaning against a wall, sucking down a bottle of Gatorade. She wiped her face and chucked the now empty container into a nearby trashcan.
"Strange time for a snack break," Kate said with a frown.
Willow belched softly. "Sorry. Gotta keep the mojo goin'. Gatorade's good for that food and sleep are the best of course but good old lemony lime sports drink is all with the yum and zing and magickal zowie." She smiled and said, "Oh and portal! Caruso's gotta have some kind of artifact or doohickey filled with supermojoisticness that gave him the power to transport us, lock, stock and ship, into this dimension. 'Cuz if he did it with a spell, I'm scared. Like, petrified in my undies, scared." She frowned and pursed her lips thoughtfully. "Also grossed out because ew, much death."
"Care to explain while we walk? I'd like to catch up to Kennedy and the others."
"Oh! Sure." Willow smiled brightly and started to amble down the hall. "It's pretty simple, really. Big ship, lots of stuff equals heavy mojo. Either it comes from an artifact like a power whatsis of Drogmar the Dark and Dreary, or it comes from the warlock himself. Since personal power sacrifice isn't exactly in an evil big bad's best interest, my guess is he got it from an outside source. If it wasn't the aforementioned whatsis, then it's probably some kind of blood magic."
"I have a feeling that I'm not going to like that at all," said Kate dourly as the stopped outside of a closed hatch. She pressed her ear against the metal and gestured for Willow to remain quiet.
Half a minute ticked by before Kate nodded and Willow continued her explanation. "Blood magic is the nasty kind of ritual where the witch or warlock builds power by hurting others. It's messy and quite evil." Delivered in a thoroughly didactic manner, Willow's brief description left Kate feeling cold to her bones.
Suddenly a few more old crime scenes became a little more horrific, and left Kate with the bleak sensation of despair over the possibility. "I've seen the aftermath," Kate said shortly. Her tone did not invite question.
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