She was Lilith. She was Lilitu. She was Bloody Mary. She was Death. She
was life. The First Woman, before Eve. Traitor to man, traitor to woman.
Traitor to Caine. To the Gods. To Adam. Poisoner of the mind of Eve,
she offered the forbidden fruit. She knew Eve, she knew Adam. She knew
all. She was creator, destroyer, fertile and sterile. The Queen of the
Dark, bringer of Gehenna.
She was equal to Adam and of his flesh. Born from the back, not from
the rib. Higher than Eve, higher than Adam. Level with Caine.
She was clanless and Bahari. She was Autarkis and Elder. She was Ancient
and Whelp. She was human and inhuman. She was pain and pleasure. Death
and life. Fear and love.
She was fire, ice, owl, cat, blessed and damned.
She was The Dark Mother.
She was Lilith. She was Lilitu. She was Bloody Mary.
She was Victoria Metcalf.
His second day among the Elders, he was feeling like crap and trying
not to show it. In fact, against the oddly somber mood in the meeting
place, he looked downright relaxed. He sat in the uncomfortable woooden
chair, grinning as he listened to the Giovanni Elder, Frank Zuko, run
down his plan for some sort of hunting ground. He didn't even try to
understand everything they were talking about. What a way to spend a
Yesterday they had grudgingly allowed him into their inner sanctum, where
it was painfully obvious that, Gangrel though he may be, Ray was far
from being undead and woefully ignorant. Still, he was their peer,
if only in title, and Prince Warfield had insisted he be treated with
the respect due his title.
The meeting, what Ray understood of it, had centered around why Calhoun
had packed up and blew this joint. Ray had tried to explain the images
of Gohannah (Or whatever the hell Turnbull had called it) but he had
the feeling they all thought he was nuts. Still, he noted an uneasiness
when one of the other clan elders, an old guy that looked like he pre-dated
the Bronze Age and spoke with a lisp, backed up his words by mentioning
no Gangrel had been spotted in his or their territory for almost three
weeks, and since their territory included the Chicago Zoo, this was apparently
noteworthy. Why, Ray had no clue.
"Is something amusing, Kowalski?" Zuko suddenly demanded. He was put
out and sounded as if he was about to sneeze. That was another thing
- for some reason, Ray made these elders sneeze. It wasn't because he
was still human, Warfield complained about the color of his hair and
had asked him flat-out to change from blond to anything else just prior
to a fit of sneezing such as the Prince had not had in about two centuries.
"No...no...sorry." He felt incredibly flushed and wanted to get home
to Fraser and Dief. The less he complained about their oddball ideas
for the city, the less he'd have to be there. Listening to them sneeze
and getting glaring looks every time he automatically said, "Bless you."
Zuko shook his head, continuing. He'd always thought the detective strange.
Especially now. He didn't understand why a ghoulite was allowed on the
council. Especially one who consorted with slayers. He was equally displeased
with the assignment handed him by the Prince: He was responsible for
helping this ghoulite should he need it. Zuko hoped the day would never
dawn. Still, the man DID consort with Slayers and, it was rumored, a
Seeker, and you never quite knew when such things could be useful. Kowalski
was harmless. Let Calhoun play his childish game.
Ray rested his head on the steering wheel, tiredly. He was in the parking
lot of his building and had been sitting there for several minutes. He
was vaguely aware of dozing off when he heard a tapping on his window.
He rolled it down. "Mina?"
"Ray, are you not well?"
"I'm good. Just a little sleepy."
"I'll get the Slayer."
He didn't protest. "Y'ok..."
"Let me help you inside."
Again, he had no protest and Mina frowned in concern at the omission.
She was getting to understand this elder and she liked and respected
him and she knew that he should be arguing with her by now.
"Good evening, Mina," greeted Constable Benton Fraser as he entered the
apartment with Diefenbaker at his heels. Ray's apartment was almost
always busy now, so busy that they had had to move. But his get being
always welcome, and Fraser liked it here all the more for the activity.
Jay, the only boy in the get, had developed an odd fascination for the
GTO and Lucia seemed to enjoy debating over anything just to hear Ray's
and Fraser's accents. Mina, though, had stolen a bit of Fraser's heart
with her gentle, quiet ways and her calm acceptance of what had happened
so unexpectedly to her. Until called by Calhoun to meet Ray, she had
not known she was a vampire.
Turnbull, upon meeting the McGets (as Ray had entitled the group), had
clearly been smitten with Mina. Fraser smiled. It was an interesting
"Good evening, Slay- Benton. I was about to call you. The elder is
"Where is he?" asked Fraser, immediately concerned.
"On his bed. I had to help him from the car. He said he was tired,
He hurried into the darkened bedroom, letting the light from the living
room illuminate the space. Ray's glasses were off. The reading lamp
would blind him if turned on.
He was still dressed, lying on his side, and Fraser was struck at how
frail the detective looked against the shadows. A rattling cough shook
his body. It sounded painful.
He knelt by the bed and stroked the spikey blond hair. Ray's black eyes
opened and he smiled at the sight of the Mountie's concerned face so
close to his own.
"Hi," he rasped.
"Hello. How do you feel?"
Fraser leaned in and kissed his forehead, as much in greeting as to check
for fever. Ray was burning.
"Feel like crap."
"Could you be a little more specific?"
"Cough. Hurt. Sore throat. Wanna puke. My hair hurts. Y'know. I feel
Ray caught the look in the Mountie's blue eyes and decided now was the
time to distract him before he started talking doctors and nasty-tasting
teas. "Love you."
"And I, you."
He reached for Fraser's hand. "Hey, Ben?"
"Yes?" he returned, not liking how Ray's skin was hot and dry.
"When I'm feelin' better and stuff, you wanna do something about that?"
"About what?" he asked hopefully.
"About the 'love you' and 'and I, you'."
"What do you suggest?"
"Let's do more than say it." He coughed, tears brimming in his eyes
from the effort.
Fraser stroked him face, knowing he wore a stupid grin as he answered,
"I would...like that very much."
"Like?" Ray sounded hurt.
Fraser somehow kept his voice steady as he said, "I would give anything
for you to be feeling better right this instant, Ray."
"Dat's better. Hell, I don't need to be feelin' better. The shower..."
Another fit of coughing shook him and Ray groaned in pain. Fraser came
back down to earth.
"You need to see a doctor. Now." He tried to sound as forceful as he
could. For some reason it didn't work on Ray.
The Canadian's eyes narrowed, glancing at the clock. It was six. If
Ray wasn't at all improved in six hours, he was going to the emergency
room and he knew he could recruit the entire get, Ray Vecchio and Turnbull
to get him there if he needed. The traumas he had suffered in the past
two months had left Ray exhausted and vulnerable and the effects were
still making themselves known.
"Now move it or lose it..."
"The serge. I'm about to..." Ray launched himself up, unsteadily and
bolted for the bathroom.
He hadn't gotten better. In fact, he'd gotten worse. Ray's fever had
gone up to 104, and he was so exausted that Fraser hadn't needed to get
anyone but Mina to help him.
Ray had been surprisingly docile when the doctor had started the examination.
Now, he was openly glaring at Mina, knowing that it wouldn't get him
anywhere with Fraser.
"Have you been doing anything extra strenous lately?" The doctor asked,
making Ray breath in and out so he could check his lungs. "Fluidic lungs,"
he noted to the nurse.
"Took the McGet hunting two days ago...Wabb...Rabbit." Ray almost giggled.
"When it rained?" Fraser asked, quietly. "Oh, Ray..."
"Don't Ray me, Frase."
"Pneumonia." The doctor stated, bluntly. "He has pneumonia."
Vecchio and Dewey stared at a police officer from across the hall. "That
"Partner turned him in."
In the past two weeks, Vecchio and Dewey had been investigation the Holy
Coffee Bandit, and had come up short. Dewey and Huey and apologized to
Ray, but had not /exactly/ been forgiven. Finding who tried to poison
him would go a long way to regaining Kowalski's trust.
Dewey fell in behind the uniformed officer as he exited the precinct
and headed towards a patrol car. Unlocking the vehicle, the officer
glanced up and recognized the detectives.
"Officer Johm William McCarthy?"
"...Yeah..." He was suspicious now.
"Officer McCarthy, you are under arrest for aggravated assault on a fellow
officer in the course of his duties, namely one Detective Stanley Raymond
Kowalski." It felt so good to finally use the speech he'd been practicing
for two weeks. "Will you return to the station with me quietly, or am
I going to have to humiliate the hell out of you by cuffing you and removing
your gun and badge in plain sight?"
"What the hell are you talking about, Dewey?"
"We got you, Mickey. Father Paul told us you stopped in at St. Michael's
during your lunch break and took a jar of holy water out with you. George
from the custodial staff told us he found the punched-out papers in your
trash for the confetti. We know you collect coins...missing a silver
dime from 1961? We got it nice and safe in evidence. We also know you
were assigned at the 30th when Kowalski was undercover there. He blew
the whistle on the corruption and all the graft going on. Nothing stuck
to you but we did notice when we checked your finances your bills weren't
paid off as quickly here at the 27th as at the 30th. Work with us and
we'll leave it at agg assault. Give me shit, and we up it to attempted
homicide in the first, second if you're lucky, with a full investigation
of every waking moment of your life from the time you hit puberity.
Silence. Then McCarthy slammed the door and returned to the precinct.
"Fine. Whatever. I got nothing to hide."
"Good. That oughta make things easy."
Vecchio made a face. "Too bad. I like the hard way."
Ray stood in the cold shower, eyes closed, hands balanced on either wall.
He was dizzy, but his fever was so high he couldn't stop sweating. He
was shaking badly, partly from the cold and partly from the sick. He
could hear Mina on the phone with the Elders, explaining why he wasn't
there. Lucia and Jay played with Dief.
And Fraser was just outside the glass shower door. Just in case. Truth
be told, Ray would rather the mountie had been in the shower with him,
but hey...ya get what ya get.
"Get..." Ray snickered, leaning his head against the cold tile. He felt
himself slipping, and barely noticed when Fraser grabbed him. "Wow. Yer
"You're dizzy?" Fraser helped him to step out of the shower, steadying
him long enough to turn off the water.
"Mmm." He leaned his forhead against Fraser's. "Yer makin' me dizzy."
"I'm silly?" He tried to sound hurt. Failed. God, he'd waited for this
for months and years and now he was too damned sick to do anything about
it. Anything constructive, at least, though he /could/ start small...
"Ray. Ray." Fraser was finding it difficult to concentrate, especially
with Ray's teeth nipping at his neck. "Ray!"
"That's very distracting."
"That's very the point."
"Ray." The voice was quiet, a caress in itself as Fraser pushed him against
the wall, standing close enough to hold him there without actually touching
him. Ray stilled, trying desperately hard not to cough or shiver in
anticipation of what was about to happen. Fraser leaned closer still,
studying the detective's pale, angular face, memorizing every plane and
line of his face.
Ray closed his eyes to spare himself from the dull light. He didn't
have to see to sense. He could feel Fraser's breath upon his cheek, his
The Mountie was smelling him, re-learning him now that he had been released
from the hospital. Ray smelled of soap and medicine and tea over a lingering
notion of...blood. Old blood.
Fraser almost smiled as Ray tried in vain to control his body's reaction
to being in such close proximity. He was so beautiful...
Kowalski's thoughts were running riot. //Oh, god, does he know what this
does to me? He must. He'd have to be blinder than me not to see it.
He must get off on gettin' /me/ off without even touching me. God!
If he starts that tongue thing, I hafta attack 'em!//
Fraser took a deep breath. Unconsciously, Ray echoed the motion, his
heart racing. He was trembling, fighting not to cough...
//Wait for it...//
"Ahhhh," he sighed as he felt Fraser lick his neck. Warm, moist, slow
and so erotic Ray was all but purring as he leaned into the touch. "Oh,
god," he whispered, his hands rising to twine in the Mountie's dark hair.
Who cared about the get? Chicago? The world? He was here, with Fraser
in his arms...
Abruptly, the Mountie stiffened. Something had changed. Ray. His smell.
Something was happening -
The American's back suddenly arched and his black eyes opened wide in
fear and horror. Fraser struggled to keep him from striking his head
on the wall as Ray drew a gasping breath in prelude to a scream. The
naked flesh beneath Fraser's hands was suddenly burning hot, the flash
must have effected his fevered metabolism.
"Ray. Ray. Ray." He got him away from the wall and back in the shower,
turning it on. Wet clothes be damned. He blinked as they were both assaulted
by the spray, watching Ray as whatever vision he was seeing took over.
"Nonono. Frase...Fraser..." Ray couldn't move, couldn't close his eyes.
Flashes of the fire, of Ben. Of the McGet. Thousands of vampires dying.
Screams. Zuko and Warfield. Faster, and faster. He was barely aware of
the sound of his own voice screaming, as well as...Lucia?
He gasped as the vision finally slowed to a halt. But didn't end. He
was...somewhere. Not with Fraser, and not in his apartment. Standing
in the cold snow.
Attacking someone, viciously. The anger he felt towards the dark haired
woman was intense. He had no idea who she was, but she'd done something
to hurt him. Or Fraser? And he was....
Feeding off her.
Her eyes opened, "See you soon."
He stared down at her. "Who..."
"Victoria. Lilith. Whatever."
And then it was over. He woke up on his bed, a towel being brushed on
his forhead. Mina? He opened his eyes halfway, startled. "What..."
"Your flash lasted a long time, El...Ray." She smiled, "Benton went to
get Renfield..." She pulled the blankets around him. "Rest."
"Asleep. She was more startled than hurt. She's the eldest of us three.
She saw just a little of what you saw, snow and fire and the sky at night."
Mina smiled and pointed. "Right here."
He turned his head and found himself nose-to-nose with the wolf. He'd
thought they'd put Lucia in here with him, but no, he got the shedding
bandit instead. Dief licked his face and ear and Ray lay back down before
he was saturated. Dief rested his head on the pillow as well and Ray
knew when he woke up and Dief was past the stress of Ray's flash, the
wolf would be a child again. But he didn't want to think right now.
Couldn't. All he wanted was sleep and Fraser.
"You're certain, Constable? He said Lilith?"
"In the same breath he said Victoria."
Fraser followed Turnbull to the GTO, not exactly sure what was going
on. "Why would he say Victoria? He's never met her, I've never even told
him about her."
"I dare say he's not met Lilith either." He pauses, glancing at Fraser.
No. It wouldn't be a good idea to tell him.
Too late. Fraser saw the look on his face. He knew Turnbull too well
not to know something was bothering him even if he was a Seeker. And
he would have to be told eventually...
"What?" Fraser pulled out of the parking space, his heart thumping with
panic. Was Lilith coming? Or Victoria? What was going on?
"Lilith is Victoria."
He winced as the brakes slammed on and the GTO skidded to a stop right
in the middle of the street in the first violation of a traffic law Turnbull
had ever witnessed out of the Constable. Cars screeched behind them
and instantly the blare of horns erupted into the already noisy Chicago
Fraser stared straighT ahead, his mouth moving but no words forming.
Turnbull, regretting his timing and having to hurt this man he respected
so, quietly asked, "Shall I drive, Constable?"
Fraser couldn't even nod. He just put the car in park and got out right
in the middle of the street and let Turnbull take the wheel. He sat
in silence, knowing he would lie before a Seeker would. Victoria - Lilith?
How could that be? How could such a thing have happened...? What would
He closed his eyes to keep from seeing the night. He had seen too much
Vecchio entered the small apartment, shrugging off his coat. "What's
going on?" He turned to Jay, belatedly addressing the question to him.
If anyone would know, Jay would. He seemed to know everything without
being told. It was eery.
"Elder Kowalski had a vision. About a woman The Slayer knows." Jay led
him into the living room. The Chinese teen had categorically refused
to call Kowalski Ray, or Stan or anything other than Elder. It was bothersome
but Kowalski had given up trying to bend Jay's rigid sense of what could
and couldn't be said to an Elder of the Gangrel.
Fraser was hunched over for the first time in years, looking strangely
worn as if he had aged. He was staring at his boots, sighing. "Ray."
"Benny. What happened?"
"He saw it again. Gehenna." Fraser closed his eyes. "And he saw /her/."
"Her? Who her?"
"Victoria." Fraser felt the couch shift as Ray sat beside him. "She's
"Oh God." Vecchio felt himself flush, knowing that if he hadn't been
sitting he would have fallen.
"He won't tell me what else he saw." Fraser said quietly. He didn't
feel betrayed by Ray's refusal. He felt helpless.
"You think he'll tell me?"
"I think he'll tell Irene."
Diefenbaker, a scrawny little kid with stiff hair once again, lay almost
on top of Ray's chest as he tried to understand the strangeness about
his pack mate's scent. Fraser could have told him it was the medication
and cough syrup Ray was consuming, but Dief hadn't left Ray's side all
day except to pilfer a chocolate donut and get a drink. All he knew
was that all was not right with his other human and he didn't like it.
Any more than he liked the burning feeling of his other human's skin
or the motions his body made.
He knew his human was here...surely he could set his other human right?
The tall one was here, too, and Dief was glad. He was his human's pack
mate, and Dief liked him. He had always been kind to him in either form,
never reacting to moon-phases like /some/ of his human's pack mates.
He needed to be so tall to house the twin spirits within him, the werewolf
reasoned simply. He liked either being, just as they liked him, though
the softer of the two was actually harder to bribe than the knowing one.
He had spoken to Dief's other human at length and he sat there still,
shifting from one spirit to the other as needed. Now the soft one that
was hard was trying to get his other human to swallow something that
smelled almost as foul as holy water. If it had been anyone less trusted,
Dief would have growled. As it was, he whined, knowing the tall one
would never hurt one of his pack.
"Detective, I know it tastes terrible, but you've got to take it. Constable
Fraser asked me to be sure you got this at seven precisely and it's already
three minutes past."
Ray coughed, dazed from fever, exhausted from talking and the flash.
He glared, but Turnbull just wasn't getting it.
"Turnbull?" he rasped, trying to piece together what he didn't know about
this man and the completely weird conversation he'd had for the past
hour with what seemed like two people.
"Are you schizoid?"
"No, Detective Kowalski. I'm a Seeker."
Ray's jaw dropped. Turnbull saw his chance and shoved the spoonful of
green syrup into Ray's mouth. Ignoring the 'I'm dying' look from Ray,
he checked the clock. Five minutes past. Perhaps the Constable wouldn't
be too angry.
He sat on the bed, feeling the elder's forhead with the back of his hand.
"You're leaving something out, detective."
"What?" He swallowed the NyQuil, making a face.
"What else did you see?"
"Nothing. Just what I told you."
"If he tells Irene, you want me to tell you." Vecchio didn't mean it
as a question. He looked over at Fraser. The Mountie looked torn. Like
a storm was going through. Turnbull was listening, morally barred from
agreeing with Vecchio. "Benny?"
"I don't know. I don't understand how he could have a vision about a
woman he's never met."
"But from what you've said, he's seen bits of the future. He's named
people he can't know but meets later. Maybe it's a vampire thing. Isn't
Lilith the Queen of all vamps?"
Fraser nodded. "And the...oh dear."
"The first Gangrel. She was Gangrel." He closed his eyes, turmoiled.
He had no idea what to do.
"She drained me once, you know. I never...never drank."
"You told me."
"I wanted to."
Dief curled into a ball, his head on Ray's chest. He listened to the
slow thud of his other human's heart. He was worried. He had seen what
his other human had seen, and hadn't liked it. The Woman was coming back.
He lifted his head as the door opened again, this time to admit his human's
/other/ pack mate. He had changed considerably since the Three arrived
and Dief rather liked him, though his human's other insisted on wearing
those tempting covers...
Ray Vecchio let himself into the sick room and studied the pathetic sight
of Kowalski with pneumonia. If Rosa Vecchio saw how thin Stan had become
Ray knew he'd be in the doghouse for not telling her.
"Hey, Dief," he whispered, stroking the boy's hair as he settled on the
bed. He was rewarded by a low, concerned growl as he placed his hand
on Kowalski's shoulder and gently shook him.
He'd come to tell Ray about the arrest, and to get a statement. But he'd
been sucked into something else. Seemed like a regular occurance, lately.
"Stan? Stan, you awake?"
Clearly he wasn't, and he roused unhappily.
"How you feel?"
A low cough answered, then, "Rotten."
"Sorry to hear it."
//The planets are in alignment. Vecchio's paying a social call.//
"Is...Irene here?" Vecchio asked nervously. He was still uncomfortable
with Stan's ability to talk to the dead and he'd hit pretty close to
home the last time he'd spoken to Irene Zuko. Too close.
Ray frowned, looking past Vecchio. "Who are you?"
/Don't you remember me, Yank? Of course, you were busy dying at the
"Who's there?" worried the Italian, looking to where Kowalski stared.
He saw a dresser, nothing more. Dief was watching with wide gold eyes.
/You've seen me for years. You're good, Kowalski. I had to work hard
to keep you from getting a good look. Against the rules. But you make
the rules, don't you, Elder?/
"Who was she?" His throat felt raw, sounded scratchy. He stared at the
older man, shaky. "What was she?"
/The beginning and the end, Yank. What're you gonna do about it?/
Vecchio was getting worried. "Stan? Is she here? Is Irene here?" He glanced
at Dief, who was whining. And wolfing. He looked back at Kowalski to
him arch under another vision.
Mina handed Fraser the glass of bark tea, smiling kindly at Turnbull.
He caught the glance and blushed. If Fraser were in another mood, he
would've been amused.
Turnbull was about to say something when they heard the dual screams.
one from the guest room, one from Ray's. Mina went one way, the Mounties
went the other.
Ray's face was contorted in pain. "Tu...tu..." He gasped over, and over,
unable to get the entire word out. He clutched at his head, screaming.
This was not a vision. This was a message. His head swam, the room tilted.
He screamed again, oblivious to Vecchio's shouting.
All over the city, vampires dropped from the message. Screaming in the
streets, some falling to their knees. The human around them were startled
as they finally discovered who among them was not of the mortal variety.
The nations and clans of vampires all knew where they needed to go.
/She/ had called. /She/ wanted her children gathered to her. Such a
thing had not happened since the Flood, when the world had changed.
And now, in the span of this century, it would happen again, to /them/.
They would look upon the face of their mother, Lilith.
It was remarkable to the travel agencies the sudden interest people showed
in visiting a remote Canadian town in the Northwest Territories. Who
visited the Arctic circle in summer, let alone winter? And who ever heard
Blood. He tasted blood. Even if it was his own, it was a welcome sensation.
Never thought he'd /want/ it that way.
Why was he bleeding?
Fraser's voice, far away.
"Ray? Open your eyes for me."
Suddenly it seemed to Ray that simple request was too much to ask. He
tried to force his eyes to obey. Why did hid head hurt so much? Did
pneumonia hit ya this way? He felt gentle pressure on his face now.
He got one eye open a slit. Fraser was holding him. This was nice.
The Mountie had a red-stained cloth in his hand he was using to staunch
the blood flowing from Ray's nose.
"Ray, can you hear me?"
He wanted to answer. He managed a grunt.
"Can you speak?"
His attempt made him sound like Dief. His tongue was thick in his mouth
and he couldn't get his body to co-operate with the simplist requests.
"Something is happening. Here, in the city, to the vampire clans. It's
connected to the flash you had earlier. Now Lucia says she's received
a psychic summons to go to Canada, to the Gangrel territories."
"Tuktoyaktuk," Fraser provided, pausing to stroke the blond hair, knowing
it was the easiest way to comfort the American. He was right. The lean
and boney form he cradled visably relaxed at the touch. "Ray, I know
Victoria Metcalf is Lilith. You know we have a...past. I don't know
if I ever told you the full story."
Ray got his eyes to open fully now and he gazed up at his Mountie, thinking,
//I hope she's not Inuit...//
"I was hunting her. She'd killed quite a few people, humans and vampires.
I found her nearly frozen to death. Odd, for a vampire. But not for one
that was starving. I found her at Fortitude Pass."
Ray listened, quietly. He clutched at Fraser's free hand, trying not
to cough. "She fe..."
"Yes. By the time she started, I was so far gone I didn't realise she'd
started to. We'd been talking, just talking for hours. Trying to keep
each other awake."
"Feed? No. She wouldn't let me. In retrospect, I see why now." He rubbed
the bridge of his nose. "No. I didn't feed from her."
"And you arrested her..." Ray knew that much of the story from Dewey.
And something about Vecchio shooting him. "Oh God...what does she want?"
"I don't know. I need to know what you saw."
"No. What you didn't tell Turnbull. What you wouldn't tell me." He brushed
the hair out of Ray's face. "Please."
Ray took a breath in and swallowed nervously. Fraser waited patiently,
knowing this would be as difficult for Ray to say as it would be for
him to hear. He could feel the fever burning his lover, heat radiating
off the normally cool body and he knew the pneumonia was consuming all
of Ray's strength.
The detective coughed, closing those strange black eyes as he fought
for control. When he finally spoke, his voice was a whisper.
"I see me. In the snow. It's night, but bright, like there's a big
fire somewhere close. I see a woman with dark hair. She's standing
over something in the snow. Something I want. Maybe Dief. Maybe you.
I'm attacking her. I'm...I'm..."
"It's alright. Take a breath."
He plunged on, his body and mind slowly recovering. "I'm feeding off
of her. But I can't, can I?"
"I don't know. You certainly don't have the teeth for it," he said, going
back to stroking the blond hair, waiting for more coughing to subside.
"Then I see her turnin' and lookin' at /me/. /IN/ the flash. She knows
what's happening and all 'cause she's makin' it happen and she smiles
real nasty-like and says, 'I'll see you soon.'"
"Do you have any idea what she wants?"
"Yeah. She wants revenge."
"Ellery. You. God. The world."
"I dunno. I just...know what I know and it ain't enough and it scares
me so bad I wanna crawl under the bed but I know they'll find me anyway."
The whisper was fading, the admission of fear a difficult one for Ray
He was totally open, too weary and beaten by his own abilities to erect
the barbed wire fences he normally hid behind and only the Mountie could
breach. "Oh, god, Ben..."
Fraser bent his head and held Ray close and tight, feeling the wirey
arms return the embrace. "I have you," he assured softly, as his heart
almost broke anew. Once again he thanked god for this man, this caring
and loving man that meant everything in the world to him. He wished he
could protect Ray from the world, from the living that mistrusted him
and the dead that plagued him and the undead that despised him. But
all he could do was love him, and so he did.
"Do you?" whispered Ray.
"Hmmm?" He felt Ray's fingers travel up his arm, and took in a breath.
"Do you have me?" Ray grinned, weakly. He kissed Fraser, suddenly but
slowly. His fingers ran up to cup Fraser's face, pulling him closer.
"You /can/ have me. I love you. You love me?"
"I love you." Fraser closed his eyes. This was a bad idea. Ray had pneumonia.
They couldn't possibly...Oh, god, he'd wanted to do this since the day
they met. "Ray."
"I love you. I want this. Ok?" He nipped behind Fraser's ear, carefully.
Closed his eyes as he felt Fraser do the same to him. He thrilled to
feel those strong arms tremble and Fraser's voice was husky as he said,
"Fuck me kindly, Frase?" Ray grinned, teasingly.
Fraser blinked in surprise at the words that did not quite fit the tone
of voice. Was this a genuine offer? Was Ray serious, or was he just
trying to generate a reaction?
Fraser blushed, not having a free hand to tug at his collar. "What?"
The grin broadened as Kowalski enjoyed his reaction, then he repeated,
softer this time, "Fuck me kindly, Frase?"
"Yeah. R.S.V.P. right now."
Fraser leaned back on the bed, pulling Ray down with him as gently as
he could. They moved slowly, taking their time. Ray wasn't in any hurry.
He wasn't going anywhere.
But he had a terrorfying feeling that Fraser was.
Vecchio watched Jay from inside the house. He appeared to be circling
the Riv like a hawk. Eyeing it like prey. He wondered if he should be
worried. He didn't know what normal behavior for teenage, Chinese vampires
might be, but he was fairly sure that obsessions with classic American
cars just wasn't what one could expect. He'd seen this kid with the
GTO and it had bordered a religious experience when Stan had let Jay
drive it. He probably went into ecstacies whenever Stan popped the
Mina and Turnbull had gone for a walk, taking Dief with them. The werekid
needed non sick air. It'd be good for him. Maybe they could get some
real food in him too. It was good for Turnbull as well. The big Mountie's
feelings were as plain as day where Mina was concerned: head over heels.
A Seeker and a get. A McGet, no less.
It had been an hour since Stanley had been screaming and bleeding before
him. Fraser and Turnbull had managed to calm the hysterical detective,
Fraser remaining behind the closed door of the bedroom for the talk he
and his lover must have. Vecchio was in the kitchen now, wondering
if he should wait or leave when he saw Lucia pick up the phone and dial
a number she seemed to know by heart. "I need three tickets. Runamukluk.
Yeah. For tonight..." She kept an eye on Ray's bedroom door, making
sure they didn't hear, unaware he was listening.
"Why?" Ray lay next to Fraser, still nipping at him. Their legs were
entangled with the sheets. It was some time later and Ray was at once
exhausted and elated, basking in the glow of Fraser's love finally expressed.
He hoped Fraser didn't get what he had. They didn't need two of them
with pneumonia. But if he didn't have it by now...
"Why what?" Fraser lazily traced the tattoo on Ray's arm. He wondered
if it would still be there if Ray ever did go across.
"Why didn't she let you feed?"
"Power. I would've been her equal. I doubt she would've liked that..."
He planted a kiss on Ray's forhead, curling around the smaller one protectively.
"I'd let you."
"Really. I would."
"I know, Ray. Ray?"
"Only the two of us in our bed. Agreed?"
"Yeah." He curled his body, head resting on Fraser's shoulder. He felt
Fraser's fingers tangling in his hair. "I think I might let it go darker..."
"My hair. Makes the Elders sneeze."
"You're joking." Fraser smiled, amused.
"Mmm." Ray let his eyes fall closed. He could hear the thud of Fraser's
heart against his ear. It was strangely hypnotic. He could feel his breathing
slow, in time with Fraser's heart beat. He didn't know if that was normal,
or if that was a vampire thing.
And for once he didn't care.
Fraser watched his lover slowly fall asleep, knowing that when Ray awoke
he probabally wouldn't be here. If Ray's vision did come true, he needed
to be in the territories. He needed to stop Victoria.
Lucia turned as Vecchio left the kitchen. She had just finished the
arrangements for a journey across the Canadian wilderness to Runamukluk.
The wrong town, but she didn't know that.
"Yes," she stated blandly.
"Who you planning on taking? You made arrangements for three."
"The get. They must come. We have been summoned."
"Didn't seem to me Jay or Mina were too effected. I don't see them screaming
to get north. The fact that Mina's out with Turnbull and Jay's drooling
over the Riv's bumpers says a helluva lot right now."
"They're not as old as I am."
"Ah. And you're what, all of two months old? If that? Did you talk to
Sta- your Elder? Don't you need his permission for something like this?"
"You wait here, missy," ordered Ray. "You don't budge until I've talked
with Fraser. Got it?"
"Do you have any idea of who and what called you?"
"The First. The Dark Mother."
"The biggest bitch that ever crawled across the face of this earth you
mean. Why would she summon you? All of you? What reason could she
Lucia was silent, not having any answer.
He was about to go knock on the bedroom door when Turnbull and Mina returned.
Diefenbaker, in werekid form once again and stuffed with a burger and
fries, came bounding in, hauling Jay along by his jacket. Turnbull looked
"Something is wrong in the city, Detective Vecchio."
"Something's wrong right here. Lucia's booking passage north."
"You mustn't," whispered Turnbull, growing pale.
Lucia's eyes brimmed with unshed tears of a wordless longing. "I must,
The bedroom door opened and Benton Fraser back out, shutting the door
behind him and leaning his head against it in abject misery. They all
gazed at him, his body language obvious. He was saying goodbye. Perhaps
Diefenbaker ran over to him and wrapped his arms around Frasr's waist,
a soft whine escaping his throat as he pressed as close to his human
as he could.
He could sense his human's distress. He had felt such turmoil in the
past and while the touch of his human's hands was comforting, it did
nothing to dispell his fear.
The Canadian turned grieving eyes to his former partner. It was that
look of utter aloneness that moved Vecchio and reminded him why he called
the Mountie his best friend.
"The arrangements are all made. Our flight leaves at three-thirty in
the morning. We've got until then to get ready."
The look of gratitude said more to Ray than mere words ever could.
Fraser finally found his voice. "Seeker?"
Turnbull shook his head. "I can't go with you, Constable."
He nodded sadly. "Understood."
She stood at the top of the pass, waiting and watching as the first of
her children began to arrive. The Gangrel were the first, led by Calhoun.
She could smell the blood of her childe Ellery on him. Somehow she knew
he had not gotten it directly from Marcus. Typical of Calhoun. It had
been taken from someone else. She looked away from him in disgust as
he approached her, distressed at the look on her face. The rejection.
To be rejected by the dark mother was the highest sin. His clan took
four steps back. They would follow him no longer. And for now they had
only one leader.
And he wasn't there.
Victoria smiled, coldly. He'd just have to be summoned. She took a step
towards the nearest gangrel. Her pack. The Gangrel were of Lilith. The
only clan to be totally of her, and not of Caine. They were hers. "Who
is he? Where is he?"
The woman seemed to know of whom she spoke. "Kowalski. A human. A ghoulite."
She spat the last word out like a derogatory term.
"Not for long." She smiled, looking up at the Northern Lights. They seemed
to glow a blood red. And they knew it was her doing it.
She was power. She was hate. She was Lilith.
And Calhoun stood alone, ignored, outcast, despised.
Turnbull sat alone in the darkened living room, waiting. He'd been here
for hours. Mina and Jay were hunting, having promised Fraser they would
not leave Chicago without permission. Diefenbaker was curled up in a
tight little ball on the overstuffed chair. He was clutching a pair
of socks he'd claimed from the laundry pile and Turnbull hadn't questioned
Three o'clock. Three ten. They would be in the air soon. Three twenty-two
and the bedroom door opened. Like a man sleepwalking, he stood on the
doorway, pale and sick and alone. He saw Turnbull immediately. Turnbull.
Not Fraser. Fraser was...gone. Gone. And he couldn't stop his Mountie
from rushing headlong into peril. Not this time. Maybe never again.
Turnbull said nothing. There was nothing that could be said. He could
sympathize with Ray, but he could not understand the anguish of being
seperated from the one thing you love above all else, never having loved
anyone so deeply yet in his life. He held the detective's gaze, trying
to convey his feelings.
A quiet sound of grief escaped Ray's throat. He slowly slid down the
wall until he was sitting on the floor, lost and alone and aching for
Vecchio sat between Lucia and Fraser on the charter plane, watching the
Mountie with some concern. "Benny?" Fraser was staring at his boots again,
eyes half closed. He was chewing on his lower lip. "Benny, did something
happen I need to know about?"
Fraser's head snapped up, jerkily. He blushed. "No. No. Nothing."
Vecchio knew that look. He grinned, half way. "Ah." He teased Fraser,
mercilessly using the Canadian's phrase against him.
"Nothing you need to know about."
Vecchio grinned wider. "Ok, Benny." He glanced at Lucia, then back at
Fraser. "So, who're we meeting again?"
"Sgt. Frobisher. He's had reports of the Gangrel gathering at Fortitude
"Your favorite makeout spot," He ignored the look Lucia gave him. "Calhoun's
"Maybe Stan should've come..."
"I should've gone..." Ray's voice was hoarse. Jay and Mina had returned,
and had helped him get to the couch. Dief had plopped next to him and
was clutching him like a child. "I should be up there..."
"You're not well." Turnbull shook his head, "And you will not get well
if you go gallavanting around the NWT." He paused. There was one way,
but it gave him shivers just thinking about it.
/They're stalling you, Yank. You need to be up there./
Ray looked up. The old Mountie was back. Fraser's father. Had to be.
He tried to think back. He remembered seeing maddening glimpses of this
man for years, brief snatches of color and voices that had driven Ray
to doubt his own sanity. Until Muldoon. Until Ray had interfered with
fate and fate had lashed back. This spirit had paid the price as well.
"I know," answered Ray.
/She's too old. She's been on this plane too long and she's insane. Has
been for years. You said it yourself a year ago: why have the vampires
changed over the past few decades? Why are there so many and why do they
all want to kill?/ As he spoke the elder Fraser moved to stand directly
in front of Ray.
He felt Turnbull's big hand on his forehead. "The constable felt duty-bound,
detective, since Victoria /is/ a fugitive."
/Because she's unstable. Caine was smart. He put his family on hold
and took a nap./
"How do you know about her?"
Mina brought his medication as Turnbull prattled on. "I've known for
ages. Since before I first met Constable Fraser. The RCMS were tracking
Victoria for many reasons. Constable Fraser just happened to be the
one in the wrong place at the right time."
/Just because I'm dead doesn't mean I don't stay on top of these things,
Yank. She almost killed my son. She still wants to. She'll be gunning
for you and everyone you know next. If she's not stopped, all that will
be left is ashes./
Ray sighed in misery, coughing and retching. God, he was tired. Damn
this pneumonia. He looked up at the unsympathetic Mountie. "What'll
"Swallow these," coaxed Mina, forcing some anti-biotics on him.
/Get up there and save him. Remember what you said about him?/
"I'll die without him," whispered Ray.
Jay and Mina looked at Turnbull in alarm.
Fraser Sr. just nodded.
"This is a bad idea," Jay said for the tenth time since Ray had made
them all pack up. Including Turnbull. The organization of this venture
had taken some doing, but Ray in his tenacity finally got the lot of
them ready to go. It had taken half a day since Mina wouldn't budge
without excessive amounts of anti-biotics and about a gallon of cough
syrup. "You're sick, Elder. You can't..."
"I can and I will," He rubbed at his eyes, turning left towards the airport
and actually stopping at the red light. "They need us. Especially since
Lucia the Wonder Vamp booked 'em to the wrong town."
"I'll speak with her about paying attention, Ray..." Mina smiled, sweetly
then glanced at Turnbull. "Renfield?"
Turnbull was staring out the window, nervously. They were in Prince Warfield's
territory and despite the usual Saturday crowds, he saw something was
amiss. "They've started packing up. The vampires. They're nervous."
He sat up as he stared at Warfield's bar as they drove by. "Oh dear."
"What?" Ray glanced over. "Shit...he's still here." He parked, hoping
out. Mina followed close behind, reluctant to let him out of her sight.
Jay stayed with the car and the werekid.
"Warfield! Zuko!" Ray shouted as best he could, entering the bar. "You're
still here." He leaned on the polished wooden bar, coughing violently
for a few long moments as Mina and Turnbull caught up with him.
Warfield nodded, almost sagely. His ancient eyes glittered in amusement
at the plight of the ghoulite elder trying to stand upright before him.
"The Tremere and the Giovanni are not children of Lilith. We'll stay
and fight after she has destroyed her own." He looked out the window
at the slowly reddening skies. "I'd suggest you do the same."
"Nah. I've uh...I've got business with Lilith."
"The Mountie," Zuko nodded, frowning.
Turnbull spoke up, standing close to Ray as he addressed the Prince.
"What do you mean, she'll destroy her own?"
Warfield regarded the tall, young Slayer with interest, sensing something
about this man... "You're the Seeker."
Unable and unwilling to deny the truth, Turnbull nodded. "I am."
"Of whose lineage?"
Turnbull hesitated, then stated, "The House of Rachel."
Impressed, Warfield leaned back in his chair. "I met your grandfather
once, Renfield. He was a good man for a Slayer and a Seeker and he brought
peace to the clans and helped us in a time of need. Let me give you
advice in his memory: do not go north. Lilitu or whatever she calls
herself this time has become warped. She is Mother no longer, but destroyer
of her own children. This one," he indicated the suffering Kowalski,
"carries in him a line that did not give her the regard she felt was
her due and so she wishes to eradicate them. That she will wipe out
her entire family to do so is an indication of her instability."
Absorbing these words with horror, Turnbull nevertheless replied, "My
superior officer and friend is walking into danger. Victoria - Lilith-
has a score to settle with him as well."
"I am sorry to hear that. Sorry that a Seeker of such noble lineage
would throw his life away for the sake of something as fleeting as friendship.
But your world is not my world and I won't pretend to understand it
anymore." He looked over at Kowalski. "I do know enough, though, to
know you're in no condition to go to the Arctic in the winter. Or any
other time. You hid it well for a long time, Kowalski, but your body
is not up to the demands you place upon it."
Zukko spoke up with a smirk. "And Calhoun isn't what you'd call gentle
in his methods."
"Yeah." Ray paused, hands in his pockets, trying not to shudder at the
memories of Calhoun teeth upon his throat, draining him. Even paler
than when he'd entered the bar, he looked up at the vampire that had
been Vecchio's childhood friend. "Hey, Frankie?"
"You've got a sister, right? Irene."
A long silence. Then Zuko turned away, muttering, "Had. I had a sister."
Ray pushed his glasses back into place on his nose. His prescription
had finally come in, they were a lot less conspicious than sunglasses.
"I've spoken to her. I can do that at times. She follows Vecchio around
a lot. She's helped me, too."
"Sounds like Irene."
Ray shuffled his feet. "Did you want to tell her anything?"
Zuko stared at him as if to reassure himself there was no mockery in
the ghoulite's words. Finally he said, "Tell her I'm sorry."
"Tell her I love her."
Fraser stepped off the charter plane, looking around. Vecchio noticed
the confusion in his eyes. "What? What's wrong?"
"This is Runamukluk." Fraser scrunched his forhead a bit. Frobisher was
no where in sight. He rubbed the temple, harshly. "Lucia."
"We're supposed to be in Tuktoyatuk." He tried to sound calm. He was
aching inside. They were too far. Too far from where they needed to be.
He felt Vecchio's eyes on him, and frowned. "We need to find a phone."
Victoria approached Calhoun, staring him straight in the eyes. "You took
from Ellery? Drank from your sire's heart."
"You didn't drink from Ellery." She didn't believe him.
"No. A ghoulite he wanted to suceed him. I was trying to help."
She smiled, bitterly. "You're lying. You're mad for power."
"You're insane. Why have you summoned us here?"
"You'll find out. In time. Now go, /Autarkis/." She apat out the word.
"Or I'll loose your clan on you."
Frobisher looked at his wristwatch, whistling. "Clock must be off." Benton
Fraser was never late. He was too much like his father. No. His watch
must be off.