Karra (karra) wrote in mountieslayer,
Karra
karra
mountieslayer

"Suburban Legend" part Ii



The ride in the plane was hell for Ray Kowalski.

Nauseous already, they hit a patch of turbulence over Ontario that had
the American desperately wishing he could just up and die. He could barely
walk to the freezing cold bathroom on the plane and once they hit the
turbulance, he had to suffer in his seat. Wedged between Dief and Mina,
he was oblivious to all conversation and looks of concern cast his way.
Food was out of the question, he couldn't even take the smell and he
vomited up the anti-biotic pills within a minute of swallowing them.
So he just tried to curl up as best he could and prayed for a swift death.

Turnbull wrapped him in blankets and Mina pulled his head onto her shoulder
while Dief lay close.

He tried to sleep, but it was futile as the small plane drove forward
over the Canadian wilderness.

He suddenly wanted desperately to go home. The closer they got to Tuktoyatuk,
the more he wanted to go home. Something was /wrong/ there. Something
bad was going to happen, and Ray was slowly realising it didn't have
anything to do with Fraser.
Nothing at all.

Fraser wasn't the target. Yet.

He pulled Dief into a hug, desperate for the comfort. He groaned at another
patch of turbulence, glaring at the dead man who'd talked him into doing
this. Or at least had given him the push.

Fraser's father sat calmly in one of the seats, seeminly enjoying the
flight. Why the hell was he following Ray around now? Why didn't he
go bother Fraser? Where were they going? What had made him think he
knew what to do once they got there?
At least he hadn't dragged these people there. Well...okay, he'd dragged
Turnbull, but the rest had followed. He wondered what Thatcher would
think when she found the note at the temporary consolate telling her
he'd borrowed Turnbull.
He welt a wave of melancholy come over him, and everthing started to
go dim. "Fraser?" He whispered, feeling Mina's very cold hand on his
cheek. It felt good. "Fray..." His eyes closed, and gradually his breathing
slowed.
"Ray?" She rose her eyes to meet Turnbull. "Renfield?"

"We should not have let him do this," whispered Turnbull. He felt Ray's
forehead as Jay rose and watched with concern. "Keep an eye on him,"
the constable ordered, "especially his breathing. I'm going to go have
a word with our pilot."

***

He was neither awake nor asleep, his body burning cold, his mind confused
by rivers of memories not all his own. It started in darkness, gradually
taking shape until he was viewing in his mind images from the dawn of
the world. Eden. Lilith. Adam. The Shining One. Eve. Lilith scorned.
Three times. Her revenge. Caine and his cursed children.

His own lifetime seemed paltry by comparison to the legacy of Lilith's
children, yet he saw their lives in this waking dream and found he did
not care. The past was not a place where Ray Kowalski tended to dwell.
Not while he had Fraser.

The whole history of the vampire kind passed unnoticed through his mind
as his thoughts centered on the man he called friend and partner and
now lover. He pushed aside the bloody images, the hunts, the massacers,
the shameful glory of a damned race and instead found peace in the memory
of the Mountie's smile.
Was it just a day ago that Fraser had touched him so tenderly? It seemed
a lifetime without him near. Those big hands so gentle as they undressed
Ray, the eyes so bright and clear as Fraser worshipped him with his own
perfect body. It had been worth all the pain and misery he'd endured
to this point for that time alone with the one person who loved him above
all others, who did not judge, just accepted Ray Kowalski and everything
that Ray Kowalski meant.

In his mind's eye he could see the Mountie's face studying him, leaning
close-
Then the memory warped. Not Fraser looking down at him - Victoria.

"No!" he screamed.

"You." She smiled, almost wickedly. "You're his childer. Ellery's. He
/chose/ you. You know why."

"No...why are you doing this?" His breathing was coming in hard pants.
He could feel Mina getting him in a laid down position, awkward on the
flight chairs. "Why is she doing this...?"

Victoria smiled. "You know why."

He arched as Ellery's memories, things he hadn't known he had, suddenly
knowing exactly why Ellery had chosen him. He was afraid of her. He hated
her, knew her power, knew what she would do to his pack. To him, if she'd
caught up with him in time. And he'd chosen Ray to face her for him.

Fucking coward.

He'd done all this for a reason. "No. No..." He was crying, he knew
it. He didn't want this, didn't want to be anywhere near her. Even if
she wasn't really there. This memory of Fraser, ruined forever.

She gave him one last smile. "I'll get you, then I'll get Benton. Maybe
at the same time." She nodded, then was gone. Leaving him blank and cold
and alone.

His get, what was left, was staring down at him frightened. Behind them
stood the silver-haired Mountie.
"We....we....we have to hurry...she's gonna kill 'em..."

/Not if you kill her first, yank./

***

Turnbull was on the radio to Frobisher. "Understood, sir. And thank you."
The watcher would meet them at the air strip, waiting with an air ambulance
to take the detective to the nearest hospital. The rest of them would
find the constable and his party, and get them all out of there.

Let Lilith have her war.

***

Calhoun nervously chewed on the bit of rabbit he'd managed to catch.
Draining it. He hated animalism. It was odd for a gangrel, and he supposed
he wasn't one any longer. He seethed internally. Kowalski. If Ellery
had chosen him, instead of Kowalski this never would've happened. Hadn't
he served long enough, loyally enough? What did Kowalski have about
him that Ellery had chosen him as his successor? Was that what made
the Mother spurn him?

***

"No. No! I will not go to the hospital, Turnbull. I have to find Fraser!"

"Ray, please. You're in no condition to be anywhere /but/ the hospital
right now."
"You don't get it, Turnbull! Fraser is already heading to Victoria.
He knows where she is now and /she/ knows he's on to her. I have to go
find him first!"
"Why you, Ray?"

Ray couldn't answer. He shook his head. Turnbull stepped side, letting
the paramedics load Ray onto a gurney. He could hear the whine of the
helecoptor's motor, feel the icey wind stirred up by the blades and knew
that if he left now, if they forced him away from this place, it would
be a disaster. He found his voice for one final plea as the gurney was
wheeled towards the rear of the chopper. "Turnbull. Please. Don't."

He could see no other way. Ray was dangerously ill and this was no place
for him. "I'm sorry, Ray..."
The constable backed away, holding onto his Stetson as the medivac chopper
lifted off the platform. A final wave from the pilot, and they vanished
into the evening sky.

***

Frobisher was waiting for him with the get and Dief. The old Mountie
was a bit surprised at Dief's appearance but he was as flexable as a
man could be in his attitudes towards people. Dief was Dief was Dief
and Frobisher was only concerned he would now get chilled. Turnbull
had expressed the same worry, but the werekid seemed unaffected by the
cold and still refused to wear anything on his feet or any other clothes
than an old t-shirt and loose pants and even these he barely tolerated.

Mina and Jay were likewise unaffected by the Arctic air, a point of concern
for Frobisher until Turnbull filled in a lot of details over bowls of
hot soup and coffee in the airport's tiny canteen.

"I knew something was up. We never get this many tourists here. There
have been flocks of ravens like I've never seen before congregating."

"Where?"

"Fortitude Pass."

"Constable Fraser will be headed there, Sgt. Frobisher."

Frobisher smiled wanely, knowing Bob Fraser's son and what he would see
as the right thing to do. "Rushing in where angels fear to tread, eh?"

"Vampires, too," muttered Jay, slipping the rest of his soup over to
Diefenbaker.
"Lilith...Victoria...is insane, Sergeant. From what I understand, she
knows Ray is some kind of threat to her and seeks to eleminate all her
children. Perhaps she intends to start anew."
Frobisher leaned back in his seat with a sigh. "I've never seen anything
like this, Constable, I'll admit. I was talking to the local shaman
over a beer the other night and he told me the woods are alive with the
dead. Even the trees are worried and according to him, evergreens don't
scare easy. All the animals are gone and the Inuit and even the trappers
who don't know better are pulling out of the area around Fortitude Pass.
He found a herd of caribu - two hundred at least - dead. Drained. Untouched
except by these damned ravens. When the scavengers leave, you know it's
bad, son."
"Can you contact the Constable?"

"I've been trying since yesterday. I even called the 27th. Vecchio
has a phone but this far north and in this weather, those things are
sketchy. I've left word with every post between Runamukluk and here to
contact us if they show, but if we're in the field that'll be useless
unless Benton brought a radio."
Turnbull sighed, unused to the lack of communication this wilderness
presented. He looked up at Mina and Jay. "You don't have to come.
You can join the Elder."
Mina shook her head. "We'll come, Renfield."

"I would never be able to face the Elder if I let his Slayer come to
harm," Jay said bravely.
***

He felt the paramedics working on him and closed his eyes as he felt
the smooth lift-off. Another day, another hospital, only this one was
destined to have a Canadian accent. Meanwhile, his stubborn Mountie
lover was basically heading straight into the lion's den without so much
as a clue to guide him. Great. He could smack Turnbull. If the Constable
hadn't had that extra six inches and fifty pounds on him, he probably
would have tried, pneumonia or no pneumonia. And everybody /helped/
him! Geeze, where was their loyalty? Except Diefenbaker.

At least the werewolf had been an impartial spectator. He sighed, suddenly
feeling cold again, trying to relax as the minutes stretched on and his
coughing reached new levels of uncomfortable. The RCMS paramedic that
was in the cramped cabin with him moved forward and he could hear concerned
voices.

Not about him at least. About the time? Timing? Why weren't they there?

Suddenly the voices were alarmed.

"Where the hell are we?" demanded the co-pilot.

/Yank!/

Dad was back. Ray croaked, "Fraser?"

/Yank, you have to get out of this thing! She manipulated the instruments!
This chopper is headed straight to Fortitude Pass!/
Ray let out a startled yelp as the helecoptor suddenly dipped. The paramedic
was scrambling to get into his seat and the pilots were fighting the
controls. A moment of calm followed, then the pilot said in a voice
full of disbelief,
"Oh, my god."

***

He couldn't, didn't blame Lucia. He should not have been so hastey in
his preparations. It was a lesson learned. A bitter, difficult lesson,
but he knew that he would never repeat it. Nor would Lucia.
The RCMS post at Runamukluk had an excellent dog team and enough supplies
for the them to set out within three hours of their arrival. Food, water,
bedding, stakes, silver bullets and two guns, holy water, and a bundled
up, miserable Ray Vecchio were piled into the sled while Fraser stood
behind and Lucia, with that eerie tirelessness of the undead, kept time
alongside them.
"Where are we going?" asked a muffled voice. Ray was not happy and he
wanted very badly to lynch Lucia. It wouldn't have any effect, seeing
as how the girl was alreay dead, but it might drive home the importance
of correct pronunciation of remote Arctic towns with weird Inuit names.

"Fortitude Pass. I realised Victoria would want to return to a place
familiar and rather signifigant to her."
"You, too."

"Rather."

"Hey, Benny?"

"Yes, Ray?"

"You ever going to explain that 'nothing' from the flight up here?"

"Probably not." He grinned despite himself, knowing he was being teased.

"Wouldn't have anything to do with the fact that Stan didn't have enough
oomph to stand up after, would it?"
"Ray is suffering from a severe case of pneumonia. He's very weak on
his own, thank you, Ray."
"Doesn't need your help to be limp as a rag right now."

"Not at all."

"But you helped him along anyway, right?"

"What are friends for?"

Ray chuckled. "Friends. Right. Want to buy some ocean-front property
in Saskatchewan?"
***

"It's fifty miles from here," Frobisher was saying, leading them away
from the canteen. "With so many vampires around, dogs will be a liability."

"What do you suggest?" asked Turnbull. He was the first to admit he was
out of his element. He was from Ottawa and this was the furthest north
he'd ever been. He had some training, but he was not in the same category
as Buck or Fraser when it came to surviving in the Territories.
Frobisher was leading them to a garage by the airport's hangar. He pushed
open a door to reveal several snow mobiles.
"Here we go."

Turnbull looked at Jay as the Asian boy sighed. Love at first sight.

***

The plane lurched and so did Ray. He felt hands trying to keep him down
and pulled them away. "What's wrong? What's going on?"

/She's trying to crash the chopper. She's going to kill you, Yank. If
she can./

"No. How do I stop her?"

/Know how to fly a plane? Didn't think so. Strap in, and cover your head.
This bird's going down./

Ray did as he was told, shaking hard. He was scared, for Ben for the
people on this chopper. For himself. He was /not/ ready to die and come
back.

Not ready at all.

The chopper started to shake around him, and he moaned. He could /hear/
her laughing, and Fraser's dad trying to keep him calm. "What do I do?
What do I do when we're down?"

/You fight./

A scream from the co-pilot as the cockpit burst into flames. The medic
was desperately reaching for the fire extinguisher hanging on the wall.
Ray winced, as much at the light of the flames as at the pilot's desperate
cries of, "May day! May day! We're going down!"

/Fight for your life, Yank, you're the only one who can do it./

***

She raised her hands towards the sky, towards the chopper. Concentrating.
It began to tremble in the air, then suddenly falling. She didn't make
it crash. She didn't want him dead. Not yet. She smiled as the plane
fell, almost at her feet. The fire not even touching her.

***

Vecchio saw it first. It was like a burning fireball, like a meteorite.
He lowered the binoculars and handed them to Lucia. "What the hell was
that?"

"A helicopter." Fraser bit his lower lip. "Why should she want to crash
a chopper?"

Lucia shook her head. "It's a medivac. RCMS. Pilot's getting out." She
adjusted the binocular's as they continued. They were near the Pass,
but not close enough for Victoria to see them yet.

"Medivac." Fraser's stomach suddenly ached. "No. He wouldn't."

His heart skipped a beat for a number of reasons.

She allowed the pilot to get two feet before seizing him.

He lowered the glasses.

/Ray.../

***

Ray heard the pilot scream, and he struggled to release himself from
the straps on the gurney and get to his feet. The sliding door was open
and of the medic there was no sign. The co-pilot, the fortunate one,
was dead in his seat. Unsteady, he went out into the snow, sick and
frightened and cold.

It was worse than the letting. Worse than anything he had ever imagined.
A fitting addition to the river of memories he'd dreamed before.
He was in a rocky, wooded pass deep with snow. A fire burned, casting
a bloody red glow onto the snow and tainting the clear night sky with
heavy smoke. He could see the forests around were teeming with the undead.
Thousands of vampires that had answered their mother's call, clinging
to the trees as they moved so that the slopes seemed to be crawling with
beetles. It was nauseating to see. How many centuries of death had converged
here in the wilderness?
He slowly circled around the smoldering helecoptor, then tripped over
something steaming and sticky. The medic. Dead. A bloody heap of flesh
and bone staring at Ray with panicked eyes. He scrambled away in the
snow, horrorfied.

Then he saw her. The woman who'd invaded his dreams. Victoria.

She stood in the middle of a circle of ancient and evil-looking vampires:
Elders of the many clans that had heeded her call. Their faces were
pale, devoid of expression as they watched their queen.
She held the pilot up by his bloodstained flight jacket and as he watched,
she plunged her fangs into the man's throat. In seconds, the pilot was
dead.
Ray closed his eyes, whispering, "Oh, my god."

***

Fraser strained to /be/ there as he looked through the binoculars, watching
with a rising panic as Victoria lashed out at the pilot.
"Oh, my god."

***

"Ben."

Their eyes locked, dark eyes to dark eyes and she laughed.

He felt it. Saw it. In his mind, she had Ben. In his mind, Ben was
dying. He was filled with utter terror and horror. And anger. He wanted
her dead. He wanted revenge.

And he'd get it.

Something overtook him, took him over. Ellery. /His/ hatred, /his/ fear,
but the need for vengance was all Ray's. He growled, his teeth baring.
He could feel his gums pulling back, and narrowed his eyes. The elders
scattered as he lashed out at her, hands like claws. His attack knocked
her into a tree. She stared at him, dazed and shocked. But not quite.
She seemed to expect it.

Just not that soon.

***

Fraser's jaw hit the floor. "Oh my God...Ray!" He forced the dogs to
move faster, shouting for Lucia to hurry. Vecchio was shouting at him
to stop.

"Benny, what's happening? What's wrong?"

"They'll kill each other..."

***

At the end of the valley, Frobisher halted. They could see the fire's
glow and while there was little for the ears to pick up on, they all
knew something hideous awaited them just ahead.
Turnbull looked over at the Sergeant. "Can we get closer?"

"Just a little. The terrain gets too steep for the snow mobiles and
we need to conserve fuel. We can - Dief!"
In a blur of motion, the child leapt down from behind Jay and started
running, changing into a wolf as he moved and blending in with the night.
In seconds he was out of sight.
"Let him go," said Turnbull. "Let's move."

They pulled out, never noticing Calhoun watching them from the rocks
above. Dropping down to the ground when they'd left, he set off in pursuit.

***

She fought back, managing to get in a few good swipes. They were both
frenzied, clawing at each other like wolves, trying to get the best of
each other.

"It's better when you fight it, Kowalski..." She snarled. "I'll get him
again. Rip out his heart..."

He let out a howl, leaping. Surprising himself. He knocked her into the
side of the pass, biting deep into her neck, holding her up. She struggled
in his grip, clawing at him still.

But she wanted this. She knew what would happen to him. And she wanted
it. She was laughing.

***

Fraser stepped off the sled, gaping in horror as he watched his love
do the one thing he'd hoped he'd never have to see. He was close to screaming,
walking slowly towards the circle of vampires that surrounded the two
fighters. "No..."

Why weren't they stopping it? Why wasn't he?

Ray drained her, slowly. Barely aware of what he was doing. His heart
was pounding fast in his ears his breathing matched her death screams.
He let her body fall to the ground, growling. Still in the frenzy.

He wanted more. He needed more.

From where he crouched behind a tree, Calhoun was staring at Kowalski,
shocked. He'd never seen or heard tell of a ghoulite attacking a vampire,
much less draining one to death. Certainly not one as all-powerful as
Lilith. All instincts were telling him to run.

He was about to obey when he spotted his childe, Lucia, with the cop
Vecchio. They'd arrived with the Slayer.

"Ray...?" Fraser stared at the detective's back. He saw Victoria, dying
on the ground. He couldn't see Ray's face. "Ray. Look at me..."

Ray seemed to sniff the air, still in the frenzy. He turned his gaze
towards Fraser.

The mountie didn't like what he saw there. Blood lust. He took a step
back, shaking his head. "Ray. No."

He was unprepared for the American to leap at him.

***

A few yards away, Ray Vecchio struggled to free himself from the dog
sled, not even trying to understand what was unfolding before him.
"Benny!" Vecchio screamed, drawing the gun he carried illegally. Something
slammed into him, hard, smashing him down into the snow, something insanely
strong. He fought for breath, twisting around until he was faced with
familiar blue eyes.
Calhoun laughed.

***

"Dear God in heaven..."

"I don't think God has much to do with this, Sergeant," said the Seeker.
They stood at the fringe of the gathering, watching the eerie shadows
dance on the snow until Turnbull pointed.
"There! The medivac chopper! She sabotaged it somehow."

"Or the men on it," Frobisher agreed grimly. "There's Kowalski!"

"Slayer!" exclaimed Mina, seeing Fraser as he approached the ring of
elders in the distance.
Turnbull's eyes grew wider as he recognized what was happening. "Ray!
NO!"
***

Fraser could feel Ray's teeth at his neck and closed his eyes tight.
He knew he could fight back, that he could easily overpower Ray. But
he didn't want to hurt him. In his condition...

Then again, maybe he couldn't. Ray had managed to drain /Lilith/ in his
condition. God knows what he could do to an unresisting human.

He touched Ray's face, gently, trying to get his attention. "Ray. Ray,
look at me...Ray..."

Ray didn't seem to hear him. He inhaled, breathing in the scent of blood.
He needed it, wanted it. He tested the skin of the neck under him.

/Yank, don't.../

He ignored the voice, annoyed suddenly. He bit down, not as hard or as
deep as before. Blood filled him, fresh blood. Living blood. He felt
the throat arch under him, fingers curling in his hair.

Familiar fingers.

"No..." His voice was barely a whisper. "Ben..." He pulled back, shaking.
"Ben."

***

Dief ran towards the foul smelling vampire about to attack his pack mate's
other, and snarled. Lucia, the fighter of The Three, was right behind
him. He snarled, leaping. Scratching and clawing at Calhoun, recognizing
the scent of the one who hurt his pack mates. He got a lot of scratches
in.

They looked painful. The foul one, /Calhoun/, fell back. He was startled
that a werewolf would attack him here and now, but this was the slayer
of Ellery. He did the only thing he could. He ran.

Vecchio stared at Dief. Wolf form. "Thanks...I think." He inhaled, deeply
then exhaled. "Where's Benny...?"

He shot up as he heard Turnbull's shout. "Benny!"

***

Ray Kowalski came to himself in a rush of guilt and shame and fear that
threatened to drown him. He pulled back, staring at the familiar white
throat all smeared with the blood he had drawn with his own teeth. Fraser.
Ben. Oh, dear lord, Benton.
What had he done? How far had he gone?

He tried to listen for a heart beat, feel for Fraser's chest to rise
beneath him. He couldn't hear but for a roaring in his own ears.
He was trembling so hard he couln't form any words. Forgotten was Lilith,
the vampires, the awful scene of death. Everything was cast aside in
light of his attack on Fraser. God. Was he dead? Had he killed him?
What had he done?
"B-Ben?" he whispered, too frightened to raise his voice above a faint
whisper or to look at that beloved face. He could smell the blood.
A moment ago it had been intoxicating. Now he wanted to vomit at the
stench.
"...ben..."

Fraser abruptly coughed, still lying in the snow with Ray's weight upon
him, his fingers still lovingly twined in the blond hair. He shifted
his hands, slowly caressing Ray's head with gentle strokes as he always
did when he wanted to calm his lover. One hand shifted down to stroke
the detective's back as Fraser posessively held him, cared for him.
It was that simple, wordless gesture that told Ray all was forgiven.
Fraser would not hold this against him or accuse him. He loved him still
despite what he had done.
Overwhelmed, Ray rested his head against the broad chest. "I'm sorry.
I'm so sorry-"
"Benny!"

Suddenly Ray was yanked away. He fell into the snow and Vecchio leveled
a gun at him as he assisted Fraser with his free hand.
"Did he hurt you? My god, you're bleeding! What did this son-of-a-bitch
do to you?"
"Ray, I'm fine," assured the Mountie, sitting up. "Don't hurt him, he
hasn't -"
"He just offed Metcalf and almost you and you say you're /fine/?"

"Ray, you're hysterical."

Diefenbaker came running up, pausing by Fraser. Absently holding the
werewolf, Fraser was far more interested in getting to Ray Kowalski.

The American had struggled to his feet and stood clutching both arms
around his middle, trembling and shivering so hard Fraser expected him
to collapse.
Suddenly Ray started coughing. The violence of the reflex dropped him
to the snow once again. Suddenly he collapsed to all fours and his thin
body arched as he began to vomit Victoria's blood.

Vecchio stared, gunhand shaking in force. He swallowed at the sickening
sight of blood and bile on the snow, of Kowalski covered with more blood.
"Benny, what's happening?"

Fraser shook his head. "I don't...I don't know." He went to Ray's side,
trying to hold him up. His skin was so cold. "Find Turnbull. He must
be here if Dief is..."

Ray shuddered in Fraser's arms, his skin burning, his throat on fire.
The blood kept coming up. "Fra..." He gagged again, choking on the blood.
It was too much. He was merely a ghoulite, not a vampire. His system
could not abide such a potent draught.

"Ray...Ray, calm down." Slowly, under Fraser's stroking, soothing hands
the tremors ceased, and Ray collapsed in Fraser's arms. Blood running
down his face, down his shirt. It stank of death.

For the first time in a long while, Fraser looked up.

They were surrounded by the Elders. Their faces were shadowed, but their
eyes gleamed with unholy fire.
Silence. All was silence. The vampires in the woods were still, watching.
Waiting. What for? Why were they still alive? What kept the vampires
from slaughtering tham all? Ray? Could it be because he had killed Lilith?
As with Ellery, was he now the one to lead the elders?
Was he a vampire?

A sound of crunching footsteps in the snow and Turnbull came running
up to them, Ray Vecchio and Dief on his heels. The Seeker faced the
Elders squarely, his strong voice the only thing breaking the intense
silence. Three clear, ringing words echoed through the pass.

"It's dawn. Begone."

So it was. And the ravens screamed and took to the air.

***

With Turnbull and Frobisher's help, they'd managed to get Ray to an abandoned
cabin they had passed on their way from Tuktoyatuk. Vecchio wasn't sure
exactly what had happened, Fraser said he'd gotten so into the blood
frenzy he couldn't stop, but that didn't make sense. Did it?

Leaving the get with Turnbull and Dief by the mouth of the pass, the
rest of the party took two snow mobiles and the dog sled back to the
two-room cabin.

Fraser picked the lock with alarming skill, and as Frobisher set about
securing the dogs and building a fire the Constable carried Ray into
the bedroom. The cabin was clearly a trapper's, stocked with some food
and medical supplies and bedding. It had stood empty for some time
as evidenced by the dust on the table.
Frobisher poked his head into the bedroom. "I'll be back. I want to
make sure they don't get lost."
"Thank you, Sergeant."

"There's some soup. You might want to think about eating something."

Fraser just nodded, intent on the unconscious detective. He touched
the sodden clothes. "We have to get him out of these clothes and get
him warmed."

So now they lay on the bed, holding Ray between them. Hugging him close
to keep him warm. It had taken a lot of effort to get him changd out
of the bloody clothes amd he simple wore Fraser's red thermals. He was
swimming in them and if Stan wasn't so desperately ill, Vecchio knew
he would have laughed at the sight.

Ray was freezing, bordering on hypothermic. He remained unconcscious,
his feet curled into Vecchio's legs, his head pillowed on Fraser's shoulder.

Victoria...Lilith's blood had had some sort of weird effect on Ray. It'd
thrown his body out of whack. Vecchio didn't like it.

Nor did he like the look on Fraser's face. "Benny?"

"His pulse. It's slow."

"Hypothermia?"

The Mountie shook his head, biting his lower lip before whispering, "I
don't know. It could be that...or the pneumonia...or..."
Kowalski coughed, his whole body tensing. Vecchio twitched, uncomfortable
with what he'd been witness to. Calhoun's assault had scared him senseless
and he thanked god Deifenbaker had shown up when he did. If he hadn't....he
shuddered, shoving the thought away for later. Nightmares seemed guaranteed
tonight.
As if in sympathy, Kowalski began to shiver. Senseless, he groaned,
a pained and frightened sound and he clung desperately to Fraser.
"What is he, a dog?" joked Vecchio, watching the Mountie pet the blond's
hair.
"The best way to calm him is to touch him, Ray. He's never been able
to rely on his sight. Why do you think he touches everything? Without
his glasses he can barely see."
"He must be hell in a museum."

Fraser bit back a smile. "He won't go to the Natural History museum.
Too many ghosts."
Vecchio grinned. "Yeah, all those dinosaurs..."

Fraser felt another shudder from Ray, and pulled him closer. He frowned.
The detective's skin was clammy, his hands and legs sweating over time,
while the rest of him froze. "Ray, help me hold him."
"Benny, I don't."

"Ray."

Vecchio sighed, getting his arms around Kowalski. He felt ridiculous.
They held Ray between them, trying to calm him, trying to calm themselves.
Something was seriously wrong, and it didn't have anything to do with
the pneumonia.

"Or what, Benny?"

"Pardon?"

"It could be hypothermia, pneumonia or what?"

Fraser opened his mouth to answer, stopped when he saw Ray's eyes open
a few centimeters. "Ray? Can you hear me?"
"mmm." Ray's throat hurt. Burned. He coughed hard, groaned as he felt
their grips around his shoulders and waist tighten. "where...?"
"A cabin."

"Lil..."

"Dead."

"sure...?"

***

The get knew Turnbull was nervous as they waited for Frobisher to return.
He would have preferred not to split up their party, but Ray quite simply
would have died if he was exposed to the elements much longer. It was
strange for Turnbull to see the American devoid of his usual boundless
energy.
Diefenbaker whined. He was a child again, clearly aching to go run in
the woods around them. He looked at Turnbull hopefully, but the Constable
shook his head.
"No. We were told to wait for the Sergeant right here."

Another whine, and he sat down on Lucia's feet.

With the dawn, the forest semed normal. He knew there would be teams
out looking for the downed chopper and its tragic crew and he actually
prayed the rescue effort failed. At least until the woods were safe
again.
He wanted desperately to go back and reassure himself the Victoria was
truely dead. It had been too easy. She could have - /should/ have destroyed
Ray with one glance. That she hadn't spoke volumes and told Turnbull
this was far from over.
"Renfield?"

He looked up as Mina touched his arm. He knew it was rediculous, but
he thought he could feel a warmth through his parka where her hand rested
on him. He was bundled up within an inch of his life and yet the three
McGets wore the minimum amount of gear so as not to raise suspicions.
Like Diefenbaker, they could have walked around in bare feet and shorts
and not notice the bitter cold and icey winds.
Interesting that Ray could not...But Ray still had a soul. Did the McGet?
More importantly to him, did Mina? How did you ask such a question?

"What is it?" asked Mina, concern showing in her hazel eyes.

He covered her hand with his. "I'm just thinking. It was too easy."

"Easy?"

"The blood hunt was more violent than this. Victoria - excuse me, Lilith
is up to something."
"What?"

"I wish I knew."

***

Another bought of coughing shook Ray and Fraser sat him up in the bed
the easier to breath as his body fought the sickness posessing him.
Fraser rubbed his back, grimacing as he could count every rib through
the thermals.

Ray was clearly having difficulty taking a breath and despite their efforts,
he was still cold.
"Ray, could you get him some water?" asked Fraser of his other bedmate,
the reluctant Ray Vecchio who did not want to be cuddled up under the
covers with Ray Kowalski, ghoulite or otherwise, under /any/ conditions,
even if it was to save Kowalski's life. He'd seen and heard too much
the past six months for him to ever relax around his one-time replacement.

"Sure, Benny. Right back."

Frovisher had placed a pot of snow near the fire and it was liquid now.
Ray found a clean glass, figuring if Kowalski caught anything from a
dirty glass he couldn't be any worse off, and after filling the glass
he took a moment to tend the fire.
Was Irene here?

He felt a certain contentment at the idea. Irene. So beautiful. If
only...
***

Fraser cradled the blond head to his chest, leaning back against the
bedstead. This was bad. Ray was desperately ill. He should have known
the detective would have followed him up here. It was so Ray. Annoying,
but Ray. Touching, too, that he would be willing to risk all once again
to protect him...
Having Ray in his arms stirred memories of two days ago and the passion
they had shared. fraser thought, remembering...the Flash. Ray had seen
himself fighting Victoria /over/ some thing or some one. He had seen
Fraser looking up at the night sky as he tried to save the dying vampires.

It hit him in a terrible rush.

Victoria could not be dead. Not yet.

"...fra...ben?"

Suddenly more frighteded than he could say, he gathered Ray closer and
pressed his lips to the blond hair before he said, "Yes?" in a voice
that was amazingly calm.
Ray struggled to speak, his voice a whisper. "Feel...wrong."

Wrong?

"Hurts."

No. "What hurts, Ray?"

"Blood...her...sh..." More coughing. He felt a glass against his lips
and had to fight to swallow the water. He kept his eyes squeezed shut,
shaking hard.
Vecchio watched, shocked at the look of fear that was only in Ben's eyes.
"What's wrong with him?"
Fraser shook his head. "I don't know." He kept his hand on Ray's back,
trying to calm the hacking coughs. And his own shattering nerves. "Ray,
what is it?"
"...sure she's dead..."

"Yes. Of course..." Fraser lied. Badly.

/Ray./

Irene's voice was very calm in the midst of all the panic. She stood
beside Vecchio, seemingly having every idea of what was going on. /Ray,
look at me.../
"...rene?"

"She's here?" Fraser wasn't surprised, after all Vecchio was here. So
should she be.
Vecchio stared at where Ray was staring, startled. He couldn't see her.
In the warehouse he'd seen...something. But now...
"..rene...what's ha..." More hacking. He could feel something twisting
in him. He shuddered.

"Ray, Lilith is trying to make you into something you cannot become."
She frowned, watching him carefully.
He opened his eyes. Even the twilight of a windowless room hurt and
he squinted at her. "Can'...t?"
"Must not," she corrected. "Dare not."

"Why?"

"Caine is rising."

"Caine? So?"

"Ray...you have a soul."

The pain grew in his belly until he could think of nothing else and he
writhed in Fraser's arms. Small gasping screams escaped his lips as
he tried to twist away from this agony.
"Oh-god-please-Frase-make-it-stop!"

Burning. The blood was burning him. Too much for a mere human to handle.
Too much for a ghoulite. Too much even for an Elder. He clung to Fraser,
clawing at him weakly, desperate for the sanctuary his lover represented.

"Is this a flash?" He could barely hear Vecchio's frightened voice.

"I don't think so."

A faint, whimpering, mewing sound reached his ears. Ray barely realised
he was making it.
And then, for one moment, clarity. Like the eye of a hurricane.

He was being remade in her image.

A toy soldier for her amusement. To do battle against Caine.

An anomaly. A rogue. Her dark horse. Ellery's heir.

//"My son chose well."//

Victoria's voice. Robert Fraser's voice. Speaking together.

Ray forced his eyes open.

//She's playing with your mind, Yank.//

Fraser's dad stood at the foot of the bed.

//She made you think she'd killed Benton. This is the result. She's
pushing you to where she wants you to be. Next she'll have you go after
Caine, to weaken or distract him so she can close in.//
Another spasm of pain. His companions were helpless against it.

//Good move that, vomiting. You've only absorbed a fraction of what
you took. If you hadn't vomited, you'd be so undead you'd make the antidilluvian
crowd look like amateurs. Painful, though, I take it.//
"Ah!" He clenched his teeth, trying not to scream.

//Just remember, Yank, fight her. Don't do what she wants. You know
what's right. Do it.//
He wanted to die. He couldn't any more, could he? But Irene said he
had a soul. That had to count for something. Didn't it?

"Ray. Ray. Ray, look at me. Open your eyes." Fraser had Ray by the chin,
was trying to make him look. "Ray, what's she saying. What's wrong?"

"Li..not de..." He stomach clenched tightly and he doubled over. "No...God-God-No...Fraser...Ben..."

Vecchio helped Fraser pull Ray into a sitting position. "Stan. What're
you feeling. Tell me what's happening."

//You're mine. Not Ellery's. Mine.//

"No...hurts..."

Fraser stared in horror as minor convulsions wracked his lover's body.
"Ray, help me..." He got his arms around Ray's body, trying to hold him
still. All reluctance tossed aside for fear, Vecchio did the same. "You're
ok...calm down...you're fine..."

"Please...please hel..."

***

Lucia shifted uncomfortably in her seat. Her stomach ached painfully.
She caught Turnbull's concerned gaze. "The Elder..." She offered, quietly.
She'd been of the party that had performed the original letting. She
had some of his blood in her. They were connected.

Dief tossed, quietly in his sleep. Turnbull raised an eyebrow. "Something's
wrong?"

"Yes."

"Can you tell what?"

"Lilith. She's done something to him. He's in pain. Too much pain."

"Do you know what she's done? Can you tell?"

"She's...in him. She wants to fill him."

"Why?"

Her eyes were a million miles away, centuries in the past and her voice
was barely a whisper. "Caine has awakened."

***

He could feel her in his head. Alive. Talking. Twisting his mind and
his inner body. "Stop...It's too much..."

"Stan..." Vecchio had suddenly taken to Kowalski as he would a sick niece
or nephew. Rubbing his back, trying to calm him. Fraser had gone to see
if he could meet Frobisher half way. Before he'd gone, they had managed
to change him into a t-shirt and boxers, the thermals had been hurting
him. "Stan, keep talking...Talk. Tell me what's happening. Tell me
so we can help you. What's too much?"
"Her. In. Me. Hurts." He gulped, coughing, alternately trembling
and sweating. Vecchio was forcing more water on him. He almost gagged
on it.
"She's in you. From the blood. Right?"

A sharp nod.

"What does she want?"

"Me. I...hava soul. Needs me. Made me. Made Ellery do-do this t-to
me."
"Fraser said Ellery hated her."

"She m-made him."

"Made him hate her. I get it. She set him up because she needed someone
like you."
Kowalski nodded, eyes squeezed tightly shut.

"Why?"

"Kill...Caine - Ah!"

The gasp of pain cut to Vecchio's heart and he held Kowalski close and
tight as the younger man began to cry against his shoulder.
"Please...please...I don' want...don' wanna do...please...please..."

"Aw, Stan." He held Ray tighter, trying to ease the pain and shaking.
"It's ok. Fraser'll know what to do..."
"Help me...help...ah...god..."

Vecchio was suddenly filled with rage against Victoria. Lilith. Whatever.
Why would she do this to Kowalski? What point did it serve? She didn't
even /know/ him. Certainly he couldn't hope to fight someone as strong
as Caine and win.

Then again, he'd killed that Assasin that was trying to kill him.

"Stan?" Kowalski's sobs had suddenly eased, the shaking stopped.

/Yank, you have to fight it./

"Can't...can..t...fight..."

"Stan, how do I help you?" Ray demanded, trying to keep Stan talking.
"Talk to me."

***

"He's in pain?" Frobisher had turned his sled around and was heading
back towards the cabin with Fraser. "Maybe it was just too potent for
him. I'm sure it's nothing..." He didn't sound too sure.

Fraser shook his head. "His fever's broken. Could the blood have done
that?"

"No. But Lilith could."

"What?"

"There's a legend...third rate rumour, actually. A tale of Gehenna we
don't like to get out. We don't need a pack of loons with messiah complexes
springing up." Frobisher paused. "It speaks of a blind seer despised
by the sun, with the power of a knight - that's knight with a 'k', by
the way - and darkness that will host Lilith's might and battle Caine
in her stead. This seer is supposed to be betrayed by his sire."

"Why didn't you tell me?"

"The legend has this seer with dark hair and eyes. Ray's not dark haired."

"No. Not now..."

"What is it, Benton?"

Fraser swallowed. "The Giovanni Prince, Warfield, told Ray his hair
color made the elders sneeze. Ray actually said the other day that his
hair hurt."
"His /hair/? Well, maybe I can see that."

***

Vecchio held the barely conscious Kowalski under the shower, still dressed.
He was not prepared to undress the guy a third time. Twice was enough,
but unless Benny returned by the time they ran out of hot water, he knew
he was doomed.His fever had suddenly sprung up, and wouldn't go down.
His legs were like rubber, barely supporting him.

"Come on, Stan. You've gotta help me here..." He tightened his grip around
Stan's waist, trying to keep him from slipping. Ended up sliding down
the wall into a sitting position, taking Kowalski's with him. "Ok. We
could stay here..."

He adjusted the flow of the shower, and let Stan's head rest against
his shoulder. "Fraser's gonna love this. Stella too..." He touched the
detective's forhead. "God. You're on fire..."

"mm?"

"Just an expression. Any more pain?"

"Mmm...no..." THe minute the negative came, he grimaced. A cramp in his
stomach.

"Right. He'd better hurry..."

/You should've fought harder.../

"I shouldn't be here..."

"Uh..." Vecchio began nervously.

"...yet."

"What?" puzzled the Italian.

/What?/

"Shouldn't be here yet...not time..." An intake of breath. "My hair hurts..."

***

Turnbull was starting to feel the cold as he sat with reluctant patience,
waiting for Sgt. Frobisher to return for them. He was not comfortable
remaining this close to Fortitude Pass, but he had his orders and he
would wait. Diefenbaker curled up on his booted feet and the Constable
found himself grateful for the slight warmth. Mina sat beside him while
Jay and Lucia (who had yet to recover from her feeling of guilt for misdirecting
the Slayer's party) quietly talked a few feet away.

The sun would be slipping towards the horizen soon and Turnbull had no
desire to be caught out here at night. He peeled back the sleeve of his
parka and glanced at his watch. If Frobisher did not return in an hour,
they would start walking, following the trail left by machine and dogs.

Suddenly Dief was on his feet and growling more savagely than any of
them had ever heard. In a heartbeat the scrawny boy was gone and a wolf
was scrambling to get his front legs on the log next to Turnbull. The
Constable turned and looked behind them.

The Elders.

Mina gasped and the other McGet drew close. There were at least twenty
of them in a line, their skin as white as the snow and their eyes gleaming
with unnatural light. Some were dressed for the Arctic, some were in
robes, a few were naked and feral. Turnbull drew himself up to his
full height, facing them squarely even as he laid a hand on Dief's back
to calm the werewolf.
/Day walkers,/ thought Turnbull, trying to conceil his nervousness.
They wouldn't stand a chance if so many elders attacked.
One moved forward. He was ancient, dressed in rich silk robes and a
fur-edged head dress like something out of the Arabian Nights. Ancient
wisedom shone in his black eyes, and when he spoke it was with a strong
voice and an accent Turnbull could not place.
"Where is the Eldest, Son of Rachel?"

"My lord, he is sick in body and the Mother has poisoned his mind."

"How can such an one be sick?" demanded the old vampire.

With a shocking thrill, Turnbull suddenly realized he was speaking to
a being that was almost older than civilization. Older than the Flood...older
than the Covenant or Soloman's temple. He predated Ilium and the Vedas,
had seen empires rise and fall to dust. There could not be many like
him in the world. An ancient that would outlive Gehenna...
"The one you speak of is a ghoulite, my lord." Turnbull saw confusion
at the unfamiliar term and quickly added, "He is not as you. He is not
undead. His soul remains."
An amused glint filled those black eyes and a ripple seemed to flow through
the Elders. They were not pleased with such news. The get shifted uneasily,
intimidated beyond words and amazed that the Seeker even had a voice
in the face of such power.

The speaker was struck by the irony. "So they one who slayed our Mother
is not even born in our world. They youngest of us all is our lord."

"He is as a toy to the Mother in her war against Caine, my lord. Lilitu
is not gone."
"Nor is she here, Son of Rachel. The Gangrel clans have answered her
calling and she has given us a new Eldest. We would see our new Prince."

Turnbull swallowed, afraid to refuse. He gripped Diefenbaker by the
scruff of the neck and held him in place. "He must return to his home,
my lord. He is sick and weary."

"Your words ring true, Son of Rachel," said the Elder, his eyes locked
on Turnbull's. He knew of Seekers, though they had only existed since
the days of Isaac and Abraham. This one was pure, he could tell by
the light that shone in him. "We shall abide by the Mother's law that
none but she may slay or drink of the humans in this valley. You, Seeker,
and those of your party may depart this place in safety from the Gangrel."

"We thank you, my lord," whispered Turnbull.

"Know that one of our kind was declared outcast, autarkis by the Mother.
Beware of him, Seeker."
"We shall."

"We will meet again, Son of Rachel."

"Yes, my lord," said Turnbull, bowing in respect. "My lord?"

The ancient one smiled slightly, knowing what was wanted. "You may call
me Aja. It was I who built the walls of Ur for Gilgamesh my king."

Then he turned, and in moments they had vanished into the forest.

And Renfield Turnbull stared in speechless awe.

So awed, in fact, he barely noticed Frobisher ride up to him with the
Constable. "We have to get to the cabin," the Sergeant said, bluntly.

And they followed.
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