Author: mellowenglishgal PM
Bethany, 17, finds herself on the Island the night after a car-wreck; there, she discovers some of her potential in a crash-course on the Lore. She fights to survive-and struggles with her conscience over a vengeance-crazed Lykae intent on claiming her. While torture weighs on his damaged mind, Uilleam seeks his mate to soothe him...until he learns what she is.Rated: Fiction T - English - Supernatural/Romance - Chapters: 7 - Words: 39,157 - Reviews: 24 - Favs: 16 - Follows: 12 - Updated: 03-11-13 - Published: 01-31-13 - id: 8965961
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A.N.: So Immortals After Dark has a criminally small fanfic-base, and I've decided to remedy that. Rumours are that hints about Uilleam's mate were sown in Dreams of a Dark Warrior—whispers that it's the fox-shifter abound, but I wanted to give Thad a twin-sister, and had initially intended for her to be Munro's mate, but it didn't fit. Her and Uilleam make a better pairing. So here it is, Immortal Island.
The silence had become blissful; it now warded off the incessant buzzing of the blazing track-lighting above the twin bunk-beds, which had grown steadily louder over the days—or was it weeks?—that she had dwelled in this hell between living and dead, surrounded by…monsters. Beautiful demons, hellish angels. Everything was upside down—especially her being here.
Or so she'd thought.
Her first examination had confirmed what the people in charge had accused her of; she was one of these people. Loreans.
If not for the incident with the Incubus in her first cell the morning she had awoken here, she might not have believed her next cell-mate, even with the evidence right in front of her eyes—horned men, pointy-eared women wearing nothing but gauzy skirts, a freaking eight-foot-tall centaur in one of the cells—that she belonged to some hidden world comprised of creatures she had been indirectly taught since birth were myth and fairytale.
But after the incubus, one of a race of incredibly handsome males who fed off sexual energy, had attacked her, things had started to happen—to her own body, things that she couldn't explain away, instincts that had flared when she had fought back, and she had known…she wasn't…right. Both her reaction to the violation—and to the blood pooling from a headless corpse before her as poisonous gas was piped into the cell.
Whether this was all just a really bad dream, some kind of a coma, she could understand that, her last memories before waking here consistent with the idea that she could be very well in Limbo, and she thought it was probably the case that she was in a coma, struggling for the right to…wake.
Her first assessment, the people discovering what she 'was'? Stage one of her personal purgatory. She'd been returned to her cell drenched, pupils dilated until a painful amount of artificial light seared her retinas, and the buzz of the lights continued to grow louder as her teeth ached, and…other sensations bombarded her body, sometimes less strongly than others, sometimes just a whisper while she slept, dreams and inklings, the remembered private touch of the incubus, the thought of Ray…
Her 'meeting' with the man they called Magister had come not long after her first examination. Blademan, the colourful inmates nicknamed him, because he gutted his victims, other members of a world her cell-mates called the Lore. The pale-faced man with soulless eyes had…asked her questions, pressed a little button that delivered immeasurable pain whenever he believed, wrongly, that she was withholding information.
He had demanded she tell him why she was the only female vampire in known existence.
News to her: she basked in sunshine, she didn't just walk in it; she loved Tex-Mex; and the only time she'd felt inclined to nibble anybody was her boyfriend's collarbone when they were out parking at the lake.
During the Magister's interrogation, she'd passed out from the pain of the poison, silently, shamefully admitting to herself that…the blood that had saturated everything the night of the accident…had made her pleasure-points throb, her teeth aching as they sporadically had throughout her interminable confinement—especially when she woke on the verge of coming, her dreams making her ache with emptiness.
When she had woken in a new cell, she'd been given a makeshift sling from a pillowcase, gifted by the female leopard-shifter with vibrant emerald eyes who had set her dislocated shoulder to rights.
When they had learned of the Magister's questions, she had told the shifter her honest answers: she was from Harley, Texas; she'd never bitten anybody in her whole life; she ate her mama's cooking every night at family-dinner; she hated wearing bras; she didn't like the girls at her high-school for calling her the "BFG"; she was adopted; and had near flunked her Politics class last semester.
She didn't tell them about the accident. She figured, this was her passage to Hell, they probably already knew why she was here. Fact of the matter was, she was here now, and the shifter, Jazira, said nobody who was "drugged-'n-dragged" here ever left.
When she'd told Jazira the questions the Magister had asked, about the Lore, and vampires, and why she was the only female vampire known to exist, the Invidia who shared their cell had attacked.
Loreans didn't take kindly to rats. In the words of Tig Trager, "Rats deserve to die". And the Invidia, female embodiments of discord who forced men to self-castrate or die, had thought the same of her. So she'd attacked. For the second time, instinct had exploded through her mind like a time-bomb going off, one minute, calm, miserable and aching from torture and captivity, stunned by her surroundings and this whole new world, next second, mindless lust for violence. To strike out, to slay.
Again, she'd blinked down at a pool of blood, her hands sullied with it, a disembodied head gaping up at her with a grimace of bewildered pain. The Invidia had never seen it coming. But she'd got what she wanted; Bethany wouldn't speak a word of Lorean secrets to the humans running this sick operation.
Because she couldn't speak.
Turns out the tongue was the fastest-healing part of the body. Even for someone who hadn't reached their immortality yet.
Jazira guessed she was on the very cusp of her immortality—she had explained that when Loreans reached the age at which their body was its strongest, or best suited to survive the future, it froze, forever regenerating back to that original form, never aging…the only way to die, beheading, immolation…literally only a handful of ways.
But before that milestone, immortality…well, Loreans were very much susceptible to injuries, and death. Just like the human Bethany had thought she was, she was still vulnerable. And never before had she felt so vulnerable and violated as her…examination.
They'd tested some sonic hearing thing on her first—and after that, the buzzing noise from the lights, the frustrated howls and nerve-shattering shrieks of the other inmates, the screams from their nightmares and their fury, the fights that broke out in different cells amongst alpha-males unused to confinement…they'd been silenced. So blissful, so peaceful; after the pain, the silence that enveloped her was like a gift.
No tongue to speak, no ears to hear. Her body had become her personal haven…for that one moment, she had been free, free of the frustrated screams and whispers and noises of the other hellish inmates, free to close her eyes and look inwards, to escape. Blissful; she had only sight, and when she closed her eyes, the lack of noise let her just…let go. She slept more and more, able to block out everything, even coming as close to smiling while she dreamed of Ray, and of Melanie and her insatiable boyfriend Joseph. She could imagine that they were there with her, wherever she wanted them to be. She knew what had happened the night of the accident, had heard the Sheriff at the hospital…but that was what infuriated and confused her the most about this whole ordeal.
The people—half-horse though some might be, red-eyed, horned, winged—in this containment facility would live (if they hadn't been caught by dirty ambushes, bad form and charge-throwers) forever.
Forever. Not eighty years, tops. Their lives couldn't be cut short by a fast car, a freak shower and a ravine combined to create her nightmares. Nothing short of a beheading or immolation from unearthly fire could kill an immortal dead, forever.
Not even vivisection.
The humans called it 'examination'—and they did examine the cell-mates up and down the ward…while they were conscious.
Even if she hadn't heard the whispers, and been brought to nausea, her fangs aching for the blood dotting the clothes of victims dragged past her cell, their skin stapled closed like a zipper down their chests, her latest visit to Doctor's office had confirmed everything evil the immortals suspected of the humans.
When she roused from deep bouts of heavy, blissful sleep, she was vaguely aware of tiny details, amassed and painstakingly catalogued each time she drifted back from unconsciousness. She lay on something soft, and someone had draped a sheet over her, soft from constant use, warming her chilled hands and legs. When consciousness teased at her mind, she sometimes was aware that light glowed to the right-side of her face, and that at times, someone touched her wrist. But she drifted off to that deep, rich sleep, where the fiery pain in her chest and stomach disappeared, where she had sound, and could talk to the friends she imagined were with her, in the flatbed of Joseph's truck, watching bonfires, drinking beer and laughing, throwing a baseball, the stars twinkling overhead, the radio tuned to her favourite country songs.
She was in solitary, trapped inside her very own skin, and it was marvellous. Those times when consciousness threatened, when she was close to waking but still deeply entrenched in sleep, dreams more real than this hellish prison-facility soothed her aching body and her pain-drenched, tragedy-saturated mind.
She saw her friends, played Life with them, and poker, betting pretzels, gumdrops, Bazooka and lollipops, laughing as they listened to music and teased each other about sex—what else did teenagers really talk about?; she didn't see Thad, though, or her Gram or Mama. Guess they couldn't come with her. They watched movies, tossing popcorn at each other, giggling, and ate cheese-fries and Dr Pepper; she gave Melanie manicures, Mel putting Bethany's thick, long hair into different 'dos, and the boys tossed a football over the coffee-table littered with Joseph's makeshift bongs, bags of Lay's and Bethany's brownies.
She didn't want to wake up; these dreams were too precious.
As her Gram said, there was a fine line between denial and faith.
She'd say Beth wasn't on the healthy side of that line.
But, with her heart carved out of her chest, in more ways than just the physical, Bethany wasn't exactly at her healthiest now.
She started to believe the shifter, after everything she'd gone through…the examination…a shudder passed through her body, and she gasped, fighting the nausea that roiled her empty stomach, and opened sightless eyes, panicking; someone touched her wrist, rubbing a warm thumb against the back of her hand, and it was a gentle, comforting touch; she calmed, already forgetting what had got her worked up even in such deep, comatose sleep.
Consciousness blinked in and out, like flashes of light in a riotous gym during a school-dance, and she became more and more aware of her surroundings, staying lucid for up to a minute each time, and if she had had her hearing, she might've recognised that she was regaining more strength than she knew, for she would've heard the buzz of the lights, the whispers of the inmate-grapevine, the frustrated shrieks of the other creatures, the snaps and snarls of the true monsters, the coaxing and gentle words of her cell-mates all drifting over her near-constantly like a light blanket, but she couldn't hear, and her recovery seemed interminable. She could feel, though, and as the pain in her chest worsened, she knew she was regaining consciousness from her coma, and she could feel, sometimes, someone moving her legs, like stretching. Her arms, too, and someone had removed her boots to massage her feet, getting the blood circulating. Whoever it was, they were trying to help, trying to keep her healthy while she recovered, physically, from the most despicable surgery anyone had ever undergone—the writers of Criminal Minds would've shied away from writing this story due to the unimaginably gruesome nature of the experiments carried out on the abducted prisoners.
The first day she moved, it was a gruelling, pathetic attempt; one eye squinting open, bleary against the blazing artificial light from above, she was shivering from cold, despite the fiery explosion in her chest, and when she rolled slightly onto her side, she hissed, grunting with pain, at something inside her chest. It was the most unnatural thing she had ever felt; she had never been made more acutely aware of her own body than being in this Purgatory, and she knew something was wrong.
If she had ever had a period, she might've suspected these were the most hellacious cramps she had ever experienced. She had heard other girls moaning about cramps; she had always secretly envied them their pain.
Meant they could have babies.
She exhaled a pain-drenched hiss, leaning heavily on her elbow, trying to take the weight off her torso, and something flickered in front of her—a familiar face…the shifter. Jazira. That was her name. She was aware that the shifter busied herself, as a huge male with blazing sapphire eyes touched with lines of tension gently held her aloft with huge, warm hands; when he eased her back, it was against a mound of borrowed pillows, propping her up at an angle, and gently tucked the blanket higher to keep her warm.
Silence bombarding her, dreams coaxing her to a world of colour, sound, laughter, freedom, lack of food had her drifting off again, vaguely aware that sounds could reverberate, for she could decipher the timbre of the blue-eyed male's voice, as she would have a low, throbbing hum underwater, and he and the shifter spoke constantly to her, whenever she was conscious enough to think, Maybe I should open my eyes now? She watched their lips—the male's were incredibly lush, almost too pretty for a man; she had become gifted with lip-reading after the sonic experiment had deafened her. But she was too tired for her brain to engage in deciphering their words. Too tired, too much effort, something inside her chest felt wrong, and she could vaguely scent dried blood on the stagnant air. The scent was familiar, and tears welled and stung her eyes, but didn't fall, as she remembered the last time she was surrounded by the scent of blood; her nightmare returned. Except it wasn't a nightmare—it was a rerun of something truly tragic that was actually a memory. Her own memory, the last thing she remembered before hearing it from the Sheriff at the hospital…then nothing; she had woken here, to a horned female demon, a pointy-eared fey, and a desperate incubus with his hands inside her shorts.
The scent of blood had washed over her once again, as she severed the incubus' jugular with her claws. Instincts had screamed within her, to finish him, take his head…and she…had, before the humans running this place had had time to realise what was going on in their cell and had gassed it to knock her out…and clean up the mess of cooling blood that had her pleasure-points throbbing beyond endurance, her fangs aching like she'd had a real bad appointment with her orthodontist.
This time the blood was only a scent drifting on the air, like a memory, and she was aware that someone was washing her face with beautifully hot water, lulling her. She drifted off again…
Agonising. She had never felt such pain—and it was the pain that drew her from her coma, keeping her from re-entering the dreams that had made her internment bearable. She'd been throwing a baseball in the backyard with her daddy… She peeked around blearily, still propped up, a blanket tucked over her, and she started to squirm.
Sit up, Beth, she thought. Sit up. She could do it. Sit up. Constant vigilance, like Mad-Eye says…Gotta sit up. Watch… Drawing on a hidden well of strength and determination she had inherited from her gram and her mama, she sat up. Weight settled on her stomach and lower-back, but she gritted her teeth and peeked around. The lights were never turned off, not even at night-time, but the opposite bunk featured two mounds hidden by blankets. Bed-time. Or are they just nappin'?
In this hell, the inmates slept for emotional fortitude rather than to replenish vigour; the torque she had woken up with her first day in this place depleted any mystical abilities and strength. After days—weeks?—new inmates stopped trying to wrestle the torques from around their necks; in her first days here, she had watched time and again as other prisoners almost asphyxiated themselves trying to remove them. One red-eyed vampire had been so maddened he'd started clawing at his own throat to partially-decapitate himself to remove it. The humans had knocked him out and cuffed his hands behind his back.
Slowly, agonisingly, she moved her legs off the bed, gritting her teeth against the grunt of pain as pins and needles shot up her legs, seizing them in place; apparently her cell-mates hadn't done her exercises for her before bed. Deep, calming breath; allow the pain to pass, move.
The fiery ache in her chest returned, along with shivers. A fever. Now she had the flu on top of her recent—how recent?—vivisection? Or…was this the cause of an infection? Her hands icy, her head fevered, she moved slowly, panting deep breaths, and…something told her…not to look at her chest. But she could see her legs; she was still wearing her shorts, and she was glad the laser treatment she'd had had actually worked. No embarrassing need to shave her legs—in the sink.
After her first week of not eating the slop they were each given, she had realised…she didn't have any bodily-functions, not just…not just the fact she didn't menstruate. She didn't need to use the toilet hidden behind a screen—why they'd put it up, she didn't know; there were cameras constantly monitoring them from the ceiling. The shifter, Jazira, said this was probably due to her ancestry; vampires traditionally didn't eat; they drank blood. They could eat; Jazira said some Lorean females couldn't become fertile without consuming the fruits of the earth. And as for periods—Jazira's own words had been, "Yuck! Can you imagine preternaturally strong Lore females with swords, the ability to level mountains and PMS?"
Jazira had also told her about overstimulation, a developing hypersensitivity to sight, sound, perception and touch that came on just as immortality started to approach, as well as a rollercoaster of supernaturally heightened emotions—especially lust. She knew she had felt it, off and on before her examination…now she just felt like she had the flu. And it sucked.
There was condensation on the metal walls of the cell. Condensation meant cold… She panted a breath, moved to the edge of the cot, and shimmied up toward the glass wall. She wanted to see. Anything. Something different than the underside of the empty upper-bunk.
She made it. She had moved five feet to the edge of the metal wall, where it connected to the two-foot-thick space-shuttle glass looking in on the corridor, the cell directly in front and glimpses of the diagonal ones either side.
She sat herself against the metal wall, legs sprawled out before her, and rested her head back; the cold seared through her threadbare, soft-as-anything white t-shirt, which fell deeply off-the-shoulder, revealing her right shoulder. The cold pierced her, battling the fever in her head and soothing the ache in her chest, the ache she still hadn't investigated out of…well…fear.
She knew what had happened; she had been completely conscious and…petrified…when that bitch had cut her open. Don't think about it, Beth…tuck it away, put it in the past and leave it there…don't let 'em hurt y'all anymore'n they already have by dwellin' on it.
She knew what they had done…she just couldn't believe she was here sitting up against the chilly wall, thinking about it. She couldn't look down and see the incision she felt was stapled and seeping, angry, because that meant it had happened…and she hadn't died from it. She was healing—slowly—but that meant everything Jazira had said was right.
Bethany did indeed belong to this world Jazira called the Lore.
And her blood-daddy'd been a vampire.
And everybody in the Lore, whether they sided with the Pravus or the Vertas armies, hated vampires. Even the ones that weren't red-eyed: Jazira had told her about the two warring vampire armies; the red-eyed, crazed Horde, and the Forbearers, who were forbidden from drinking straight from the flesh.
In the days—weeks?—before being deafened, Jazira and Bethany had talked. A lot. Nothing much else to do, anyway, and Bethany was from a family dominated by strong Southern women; she, her mama and her Gram were chatty… She wondered, not for the first time, how Thad was holding up keeping Mama and Gram together. Her sweet superhero, her twin-brother was the golden boy, both in their family and within their little community, a football god filled with humility and a good boy.
She hoped none of her family ever found out what was happening to her—if indeed this was real, if it wasn't just her own personal Purgatory she had to earn her way through to get to the fires. If Gram ever found out what those doctors had done to her… In fact, to her dying breath she'd never let her mama know how bad she'd been violated…it would break her heart. And Thad? He'd go near-mindless from guilt for not protecting her…the man of the family since their daddy died. He took his position real serious.
She wondered what the humans had told her family. She could only imagine their grief at the accident.
The whole town would be feeling it.
And it was her fault.
Maybe they thought she was a fugitive, running from responsibility, afraid of being duly blamed. She'd never run from responsibility in her whole life; since they were babies, she and Thad had known they had to help out around the house, help with their family. Daddy was gone, and it was hard for Mama to be without him.
She could remember her daddy dying; an accident had killed him at the worksite before they could call an ambulance. She could remember the crash. She hadn't even known they were gonna get into that accident that night. After weeks of sunshine, they'd had a shower, making the thirsty roads suddenly slick… She hadn't known she'd have to say goodbye when they'd all piled into the car to go home from the bonfire after they'd spent the weekend camping.
A.N.: I was inspired by the novel Collision Course for Bethany's back-story (I can't really say 'past' when she's a 17-year-old amongst millennia-old warriors!) and the glimpse of Jean Viljean hauling a ship in the waves during the Les Mis trailer—something about Scotsmen in kilts with their hair in berserker-braids, hauling ships in centuries past called to me, I don't know!
Ideas for the jumbo plot point would be killer, thanks; I still wonder who Thad's birth-parents were, KC wouldn't have put him in if she didn't have a use for him later on, with all his potential. For those of you who've read Shadow's Claim, I despise Sabine but her interaction with Munro at Erol's was quite sweet.