Special note: To those who might read and/or speak Gaelic, I offer my humblest apologies. I'm a beginner, have practically no grasp on the most rudimentary aspects of the language, and wish I could do it better justice. Also, I don't have the proper characters on my keypad to spell it correctly.
This is all in good fun, though...I mean, come on, it's FANFIC.....
I had terrible dreams all day; I didn't expect them to be this bad. I knew I wouldn't be completely at ease here, but I was still unprepared for them. My family's reception was such an unexpected pleasure that it gave me a false sense of peace.
I killed my mother in this house.
I drank the life out of her and tossed her body down the stairs. It's the one kill that I will never lose complete, vivid, second-by-second slow motion replay of. It used to replay in my dreams every day, sometimes several times. After the first time I saw you, I had my first full day of sleep without reliving it. Here, I should have known. I suppose Hell may also have given me the illusion that I could leave some things behind, and some of the atrocities I committed have dulled over time, some have softened around the edges, but not the brutal killing of my mother, not the taste of her, not the grief and horror in her eyes, not the sudden crumpling of her body in my arms, not the fact that her loss of me was worse for her than her own death, even at my hands. It will never leave me.
My body felt like lead when I woke. I had to fight just to get up. It's important that I overcome this. There is much to be done, little time to do it in, and I have a stubborn family to protect, as well as a powerful network to infiltrate.
And I keep telling myself that I have you. In some way, I have you. "Seize the day," you've said. I need that now, I need you. I talked with you this morning, I sat on the edge of the bed in my old room and looked at the floor and talked to you.
"I wish I could...." I meant my mother, and you knew it.
"You can. She's still part of you, she's inside you. Tell her what you want to tell her,"
"I can't-nothing can-"
"She can forgive you. She would,"
I couldn't speak, then. You put your little hand on mine.
"How many centuries have you felt this?"
"Two, and then some,"
"Would she want that?"
I had to push to get the words out.
"No. Probably not,"
"Then you need to try to let it go,"
"It was the last time I saw her," I was losing the battle with emotion, "The last time I ever saw her. I miss her. I miss her, so badly, here,"
"Is that why you need to keep that memory so close? Because letting go of that would be letting go of her?"
I was paralyzed by the return of it; a wave of nausea washed over me and I bent over, my hands in my hair. "It's much sicker than that," I managed, "I remember what she tasted like,"
"The fault," you said, "Isn't with you. You didn't kill her. The demon did. He forced you to do that, and it's in your brain. Your soul was gone, and you had no control,"
I made some awkward sound and you wrapped your arms around me; I could feel your warmth and your heart beating against me, and I tore myself away from you. An innocent, beating heart, the draw of the pulse, like a siren's song, I remembered it. Since you, the part of me that feared my weakness grew braver, because love changed me. When I'm next to you I'm no longer seized by that craving. The only longing I know, when I smell you, when I feel the warmth of your cheek next to mine, is human longing, the pure draw of desire and the need for companionship. Still, feeling you next to me in that moment reminded me, and I was desperate to pull away from the sting of it.
I walked across the room and stood there for a time. You waited. Then,
"Angel. Angel, come here,"
I turned and looked at you. The pain was inky and thick, I could barely see you.
"Come here," You were standing with your arms held out.
As I approached you, you pushed your hair back, tilting your head. You presented your neck.
"What do you want?" Your eyes were so soft, soft like an Irish summer night, glimmering and sweet.
I scooped you into my arms and held you the way a man in shark infested waters clings to a raft. "I know," you were saying, "I know what you want, you want what I want. You don't feed on humans because you don't want to, not any more. This," you put your hand on my chest over my heart, and looked up at me, "This doesn't beat. But it works, Angel. It works better than any other I've ever known. That's all that matters. Use it,"
And then my arms were empty; you were gone.
The sun had barely gone down. I went into the hallway by the line of wide windows and stared west, steeling myself against the searing in my eyes for as long as I could. I needed to snap out of this self-pity.
John was in the library, where I knew I would find him. Even as a child he'd felt safe there. He was on his knees perusing an old map, which he'd spread out on the carpet.
"Sleep well, Uncle?"
He looked at me with knowing, but he didn't contradict me. Instead he said, "There's something in the refrigerator, if you like,"
"Thank you. How old is this?"
"It's not dated, but it's been about for a few generations. I was looking for the catacombs you spoke of last night,"
"Those were started a long time ago, but extensions were dug in the middle ages...late 1400's, if any of the old demons can be believed,"
"You're planning to take down the leaders, then to flush out the rest,"
"When will you check the factory?"
He rose, dusting off his knees.
"I'm going alone," I said.
He sighed and narrowed his eyes at me. "Will you not take Johnny?"
"No. I want them to think I'm fighting alone. It's important, John,"
"They'll be waiting,"
"I hope so. If they aren't, we're in for worse than I thought. I need to be able to surprise them. We don't have numbers. We only have strategy, and no second chances. Promise me you'll wait for me here,"
My mother's penetrating stare has survived through the ages; it was in John's eyes. It's a potent gaze. He clearly wasn't happy.
"You want us to wait here."
He bit his lower lip, eyeing me.
"I won't be long," I said, and I smiled at him.
Galway is swarming with tourists these days, but it's always been a lively place. It was relatively quiet down by the Corrib. A short way above the factory someone began following me, an undead. You can tell by the way they don't give off a living scent, and also by their arrogance. This one clomped along, following me right around a corner, too closely. I pressed my back to the wall as I turned the corner and grabbed him by the neck as he came around after me. I slammed his face into the brick twice, quickly, then threw him down.
"To`g bog e` n`oimead!" The old Irish. I hadn't heard it in so long that I hesitated.
"Conas sin?" He had asked me to take it easy for a minute, and I wanted to know how he expected me to do that.
"Agatsa at`a an bua!" (You win)
"Obviously," I said, "So now, you'll escort me to Midir the Proud,"
"I don't know where he is!"
"You do," I picked him back up and pulled a stake out of my pocket.
"I don't! You can kill me, but still I cannot tell you!"
"How many in the factory?"
He took on the look of a child caught stealing. It would be nice if they were all this stupid, but I knew better. He looked past me, and I saw his eyes widen with hope; I turned, stake out, and dusted one. Another followed, hooking an arm around my shoulders. I still had the stake in my hand and pulled a classic Buffy maneuver: impale from below. I brought him down onto my chest as I fell and staked him that way. My pursuer was sneaking away. I was up quickly enough to catch him with a kick to the back of the head.
"Ta`imse ag e`ir`i as!" he said, from the ground.
"I thought you already gave up,"
"There are many, too many,"
"And out here?"
He was silent, so I twisted his arm around his back. The bones creaked. He yelled.
"Only one scouting party, only two of them left!"
I dragged him away from the building and into the open. I lifted him up with one hand and paused, holding a stake in the other.
"I won't kill this one," I announced, "I won't kill the helpless," I dropped him. He scrambled away. I knew he would keep going, and take along a report of my weakness. I wanted that. I had no intention of sparing any undead here, but I wanted them to believe I might. They thought of me as weak to begin with; I could use that.
Two behind me, in careful pursuit. I would meet them on the way out, I was certain. The obvious entrance to the factory, a worn spot in the grass by a broken basement window, was the trap. I mounted a drainpipe and scaled to the roof carefully. It was lucky that John had seen a minion do the same one night; it saved me time in finding their entrance. A broken board led to a rickety iron stairway. I slipped over two railings and landed on the floor as lightly as I could. I could feel them, as a human might sense bats in the dark of a cave before hearing them stir. Their silence was deafening.
"N`i g`a dhuit fan`uint," I said, looking up, "You didn't ask me home to bore me to death," Ten or so vampires were perched, like gargoyles, above. Two of them leaped lightly to the floor several feet away from me. They were keeping distance, setting up an attack line. I pointed my crossbow to the ceiling and fired, reloading as quickly as I could, but I only nailed two where they dangled by their legs from beams above; I caught one on the way down. He never landed. The others did. I was amused at their approach to attack and I was reminded of the many wars that have been won by lack of disciplined order; the American Revolutionary war is an example of that. The Red Coats lined up for slaughter, and the Americans took shots out of trees and from behind rocks. I rolled quickly along the floor and behind a stack of crates; I'd been able to reload and I took out two more where they stood in neat formation. One leaped over the crates and caught me in a tackle. We wrestled for a moment while I grappled for a stake, and then I dusted him. I had no idea how many there were left, but I was prepared for several nasty surprises. I slipped more arrows into position.
From above a voice boomed, "Feicfimid anois c`e is l`aidre den bheirt againn!"
I stood. A very large vampire was descending the iron steps, slowly, with great dignity. He was about twice my size. He brandished a broad-blade sword; it gleamed in a sliver of stray moonlight that came through the roof.
I fired. The arrow pierced his heart, and he smiled at me. I fired again, landing another right next to it, but he only winced. As I reloaded I noted I was being approached from behind, but he held up his hand.
"No," he said, "This will be our battle, you and me, Aingeal. I have waited," he pulled the arrows out of his chest delicately.
"Who are you?"
"I am M`iche`al Monaghan,"
"Yes," he hissed, smiling broadly.
"Then tell me one thing," I said, "Why didn't you kill my family before this?"
"You cannot guess?"
Of course. A worse fate, they could be given.
"Then why didn't you-"
"Because you'll watch, Aingeal. And then you'll be dismembered, and the parts boiled in the cauldron of Midir. Until we behead you, you're suffering will be legendary,"
I fired arrows into his heart, three in rapid succession. He pulled them out like a gardener would pull rose thorns from his fingers. He grinned at me and swung the sword in a wide arc. He had a reach that spanned half of the space we stood in. I tossed a crate at him and rolled toward a hole in the floor, but I was cut off by a vampire, who landed a strong punch on my chin.
The sword sliced the air very close to my head; I ducked and scrambled behind a pile of boxes, tossing them at him. I fired two arrows into his throat and caught him in the eye with another. He roared and lunged at me with his fists, catching me by the temple and launching me across the floor. My crossbow was now beyond reach. I struggled up. My focus was shaken, but I made out a new figure in the dim, dusty space, a shadow that approached the Monaghan stealthily from behind, then thrust a broken broom handle through his back. The Monaghan roared, dropping his sword, and he reached around his back to pull the wood out. I lunged quickly, caching the tip of the blade in my hand and dragging it toward me. I looked up to see Johnny's body dangling from the giant's paw. Monaghan hissed at me and opened his mouth, a string of drool dripping from the tip of a fang.
"Head down!" I yelled, and Johnny was conscious enough to respond. I swung and the Monaghan's head came off easily. I turned and sliced the head off one vampire behind me, then two more to my left. The remaining minion was crawling away and I let him go.
Johnny was writhing in a pile of dust. I threw him over my shoulder and headed up the stairway with the sword poised in my other hand. The roof was clean. I dropped to the ground and spotted John's car on the gravel drive, engine running.
I put Johnny in the passenger seat, checking him quickly.
"There's no external bleeding," I said, "Can you move?"
"Yes," he managed.
"Get him to the hospital. Now. Tell them he had a bad fall. I'm worried about his spine. And have them check him for head injury,"
"Have you done them all, then?"
"NOW," I said, and I closed the car door, glaring at John. We'd argue later.
I went back to the factory for my crossbow, and to check for stragglers. They had taken off. The stupid one I had spared earlier was waiting on the roof as I came back out.
"You have the Monaghan sword now. You've taken some of the clan's power,"
"That's an old superstition," I said, "It doesn't work that way,"
"What will you do now?" He stood just out of reach, but he was obviously in turmoil as to who he feared more. That wasn't good. I was losing surprise as an edge, and I'd have to kill him. I grabbed his hand and twisted, throwing him down and holding tight to his thumb.
"Now I'm going to find out where Midir is,"
"He's presiding in the catacombs, under the hollow hills," he said, "That much I know. But I don't know where,"
"Here, or on the islands?"
"Here. The Arans host a worse one than he,"
He laughed. "You're going to kill me," he said, "So it gives me some satisfaction to know you'll have to meet with Her. Midir is too proud, he thinks you're weak. She does not. If anyone will take you, it will be She,"
"Who is she?"
He giggled. "I'll not give you that. I leave the battle to Her," he sneered up at me, "But I can tell you, She's the third power. You're heart She'll take. And then She'll make meal of you,"
I was tired of him. I staked him and leaped off the roof. I took off my coat and wrapped it round the sword, and I carried it under my arm with my crossbow. It was a chilly night; although I haven't felt a chill in a century or two, I notice the cold here. It's one thing I always have in the back of my mind, how warm you are, how you warm me when you're next to me. I walked through the cheery little streets of Galway City with it's painted signs and bustling pubs, and finally reached the hospital. I found John in the waiting room looking pale and tired. I sat beside him.
"How is he?"
"Dislocated ribs," said John, "And it might be a concussion. They're giving him the x-ray now,"
"I'm sorry," I said.
"It's not your fault, then, is it?"
"Mine, yours and his,"
"And if we hadn't come?" he said.
"That's not the point,"
"Sure, and it is,"
I stood quickly; I was frustrated and saddened, and I wanted to avoid an argument here.
"Do you think we didn't know that it would be dangerous? Of course I'm angry, I don't want my boy to be hurt. But he's a man now, and will make his own decisions. And I will make mine,"
"And my decisions? What do they mean?"
"Angel, sit down,"
"Is he going to be all right?"
"Yes," he said, strongly, "He's going to be fine. He's not in danger. Won't you go home and wait with Mark?"
I looked out the window of the bright room. The darkness is deeper here. A few streetlamps can't compare to the acres of lights in LA.
"This won't happen again. I won't have it," I said.
"You can't cut off your own right hand. You can't fight alone,"
We glared at each other. I turned heel and left.
I sat by the fire with Mark for an hour or two. He'd been sharpening stakes all night, apparently in a snit because he'd been left out of the excitement. It's the eternal struggle of the younger brother. I know he'll pull the same foolishness if I'm stupid enough again to tell them where I'm going. I'm feeling a bit desperate at this point. It's true that Johnny saved me tonight, and that will only encourage them. I'm wondering how I can talk reason to them, how I can make them listen. Stubbornness, I'm afraid, has always been a family fault. It's saved us at times, but it could be our undoing now.
I know you'll be angry when you find out all of this, but you're needed where you are. This isn't an emergency for the world, just for me. You have to think of that. The Chosen one doesn't get many choices. I'm sure you're sick of hearing that, but it's true. The one hope I keep closest to my heart is that you are careful, and safe.
I miss you.
I love you. Always.