Chapter 1: Territory
Rating: Mature for sexuality and violence
Disclaimer: I don't own Selene, Michael, or any of the other characters mentioned. They are owned by Len & Co. and Screen Gems. I do wish I owned Michael, but that's for my own nefarious reasons…
Spoiler Warning: Underworld and Underworld Evolution
Summary: Selene and Michael begin the difficult process of aftermath.
The dull screech of the dying helicopter made Michael want to clap his hands over his ears, but he was too focused on the woman still perched atop the broken bridge; her eyes glowed fiercely, more frosty white than blue. A thump brought his attention back down to the ground, where Marcus's head had landed just inches from that of William's. The Elder had worked so hard to be reunited with his brother. Well, now he was. Not caring for propriety or respect for the dead, Michael growled and shoved it farther away. The other hybrid had hurt Selene.
Selene: she was still standing on top of the bridge, not moving, just breathing. Michael could smell her blood seeping through her ruined corset. He concentrated, and Changed back into his human form and went to find the steps that led to the bridge. He could have jumped it, but wasn't sure of the structural integrity of the thing.
By the time he was at the top of the stairs and could see her, Michael realized two things. Firstly, she had already stopped bleeding. This was surprising, even after seeing her burns heal so quickly yesterday. Marcus had skewered her with his razor-sharp wings; she should have been dead. Instead, the way she held herself showed him that her spine had not been damaged, nor did it seem to have affected any of her internal organs; her heart he could hear beating furiously. But the other realization was even more of a shock.
Selene was standing beside a ray of sunlight, her back to him, her hand floating in the glow, and she was not burning.
Michael stared, not believing that the winter morning light was not harming her fragile, translucent skin. But his confusion was replaced by much more solid wonder when she half-turned, exposing her face to the radiance as well.
Still, she did not burn.
Michael's breath caught in his chest. She had tears building in her eyes. And even more, she looked even more stunning in the sunlight than she did in the moonlight. He couldn't help but smile.
He walked towards her.
Selene's breath came raggedly from her, heartbreaking fear mixed with the overwhelming joy that threatened to consume her instead of the harmless ultraviolet light streaming around her. Joy that she was standing in the sunlight, joy that he was walking toward her.
Fear that it was all too good to be true, that she was moving in slow motion, and that at any moment, she would feel the familiar horrific pain that sunlight had always meant before, and that he would disappear, only an apparition in her mind to sooth her in her last moments.
But he still walked forward. And her skin felt nothing but warmth.
He was close enough now to touch, but she did not dare make contact. He stepped into the pool of sunlight that bathed her, his green eyes a shade she'd not seen before. Selene stood there, petrified that if she reached out, he would vanish, or fall to the ground, dead as when she had last seen him.
The dam finally broke. The tears that had been welling up now overflowed, and ran down her face. She stared at him, pleading with him to touch her, to confirm that he was really there. He did. He gently touched the sides of her face, and kissed her. Relieved and shaking, she kissed him wholeheartedly back.
He pulled away after a few moments. "What happened?" He asked, his voice quavering.
"I don't…" Selene started, but she had to start over again. "I thought he killed you. Marcus. I thought you were dead."
Michael pulled her into an embrace, burying his face into her hair. "No," he murmured into her ear. "I could hear everything; I just couldn't get up. I wasn't gone, I promise."
Selene shut her eyes tightly, relief coursing through her like the blood in her veins. A few more tears fell off her face onto his shoulder. "You weren't moving; you weren't breathing…I couldn't…" But she was unable finish the sentence. He pulled away from her, just far enough to look at her expression.
He shook his head and smiled at her. "Anyway, that's not what I'm talking about," he said, "I'm talking about this." He took her hand, and placed it in the morning illumination.
She stared, as if mesmerized, at the picture their joined hands made in the glow. Then she looked back up him.
"Corvinus had me feed from him," she voiced softly. "There was no other way; he was dying. Marcus had attacked him." She shook her head. "I asked him what would happen to me, but he was really vague. I honestly think he just didn't know what could happen. But it worked. He gave me the strength to kill his son. And this." She intertwined her fingers with his in the light.
"Do you feel different?" Michael asked, sounding concerned. Selene smiled at the doctor-turned-immortal.
"I'm…fine," she said, "I just feel stronger. Are you alright?"
"Tired," was the reply, "but I'm okay."
Her smile grew broader. "Yes, you are."
He smiled back at her and pulled her into a tight hug. Selene shut her eyes, resting her head into his shoulder.
She was in Michael's arms, in the sunlight. At that moment, nothing else mattered in the world.
Before leaving the castle ruins, Selene only made sure of one thing: Marcus's remains were scattered even further away from each other than the helicopter had done, to ensure the dead hybrid would not make his own regeneration, like that of Michael's. The head of the fallen Elder was left where it fell, next to William's damaged skull. If anyone should ever find this place again, the two Corvinus brothers' heads would greet them, a testimony to the lengths they had gone to be together.
Michael went to the fallen helicopter. Inside, there were no weapons left, just the bodies of the two pilots. Michael had gone to see if either had survived the fall but it was to no avail. The first had broken his neck; the second had been impaled. He felt badly, not being able to give them burials, but after he had collected some supplies from the aircraft, including jackets for himself and Selene, he pulled the gas lines out, and set the helicopter blazing. The lycans' bodies were also burned. In the end, the only corpses left in the dismal place were that of the Corvinus brothers.
My uncles, way back, a terrible voice said in the back of his head. But given all that he had been through in the past few days, this circumstance was no more twisted than anything else. That he had met his ancient ancestor was just too strange to comprehend, much less the sons of that ancient ancestor. That he had killed one of them with his bare hands…well, he didn't want to think about it. Corvinus had given him no more than a passing acknowledgement, and no wonder. Where would a 28-year old and someone well into his second millennium find common ground? Nowhere, Michael answered to himself. Corvinus had seen that, as well, speaking mostly to Selene who although nowhere near his age, was a good deal older than Michael.
And wiser, Michael thought. Selene would never see it in herself, or if she did she never mentioned it, but Michael did: for someone who had been lied to for six hundred years, she was erudite and clear-eyed. And practical, beyond anyone he'd even known.
Selene had explained what had transpired when he been out for the count. She'd thought he'd been dead, she told him, though she had hardly needed to. Though not totally aware of what had gone on around him, Michael did have recollections of his two "dead" hours: he remembered being shoved in the helicopter and stuffed in a body bag. He remembered hearing the gunfire.
He remembered her begging him to not be dead. Pleading, crying, hitting him in grief and frustration. He had wanted to sit up, to say I'm alright, don't worry, but a force even more powerful than his bone-aching exhaustion had gripped him, preventing him from even blinking or drawing breath to assure her he was still there, still with her. It wasn't until he had been in the helicopter that he had been able to force his eyes open, to be able to move at all.
But it was hearing the Cleaners say that she was being overwhelmed by the proto-lycans in the castle that got him moving. The new, strangely feral part of him, the same part that had demanded he rip the lycan's throat out while at Tanis's place, had screamed at him to wake up and protect his mate.
My mate, he mused, I never would have used that word before. But how else should he think of Selene? The two of them had moved beyond friends and allies. "Girlfriend" was insulting, "lover," awkward. He wouldn't have flattered himself at all with this thought of possession, of a relationship at all without her permission, but hearing her reaction to his…injuries had made him realize one distinctly important truth.
She cared for him just as much as he did for her.
He had to move away from the burning helicopter, the smell of burning flesh an all-too familiar one after working in emergency rooms.
But despite his revulsion, he was beginning to feel hungry, even more than he had been yesterday. The little he had taken from Selene after being shot was gone completely, mostly because of his regeneration and the effort it had taken to subdue William.
"Are you ready to go?" Selene appeared at his side, accepting the long jacket he handed to her and donning it.
"Almost", he replied, staring meditatively into the flames of the wrecked aircraft. He turned to her. Her brown eyes danced, reflecting the firelight. "Where is the pendant?"
She blinked. "I left it in the lock," she said, looking at him strangely, "where William was kept. It should still be in the wall."
He nodded. "Which way?"
She looked at him curiously. "I'll show you." She led him through a partially submerged tunnel, all the way through, to a room that stank of dirty lycan, an oddly coffin-shaped cell with one small hole in the ceiling to let in air and light. In the wall on one side, just below the waterline, a mechanism cradled a metal disc, which in turned held Lucian's necklace. Mine, now, Michael thought. He extracted it from the wall, and removed it from the disc, which he shoved into his pocket. The pendant went back around his neck. He couldn't explain his attachment to the thing, especially since it had turned out to be nothing more than a key to an ancient zoo cell. But he still held Lucian's memories and those recollections that still sometimes came into his head demanded that he hold onto it. It represented something greater, although Michael had been far too pressed to delve into why, it was better, he felt, to have it on hand.
The snow that had capped the peak had disappeared hours before; the descent to the base meant warmer temperatures. But the change in climate did nothing to alleviate Selene's worries. The trek down the mountainside was so uneventful that she couldn't help but feeling that something had to go wrong. She and Michael met up with no angry, vengeful immortals, no human police, no one. Of course, the fact that they were traveling in open day, as opposed to the comforting darkness that even the light-tolerant lycans preferred, was possibly a contributing factor to this peace. But as the sun started to set, the realization hit her.
No one was coming.
The death toll of the past few days was astronomical, even with the history of a six hundred-year old war. The entire governing structure of the vampire nation had crumbled; the Elders were dead, Kraven was dead (thank God), the Council had been destroyed. Almost every high-ranking member of the Death Dealers other than herself had most likely been killed in the fight in the underground. The lycans must have also been in a state of shock and chaos; their leader had also been killed. All that was left of the legacy of the immortal leaders that had ruled for so long was gone. The Cleaner Samuel had revealed to her that Marcus had destroyed Ordoghaz and everyone in it. With Michael's apparent death still hanging over her at the time, she had not given that fact more than a second's thought. Now, however, she had time to think on it. So many people in the mansion had ridiculed her and despised her for her "peculiar" and belligerent behavior. So many of them had done nothing but swim in their own pleasures for decades, spending more time in hedonistic pursuits than mortals had in their entire lifetimes. But even so…
The place that had been her home for centuries was just…gone. She had known as soon as she had killed Viktor that there never really would be a place for her there again, but the knowledge that it was wrecked and empty was still strange to think about.
Selene stepped over a large branch on the forest floor. Down near the foot of mountain, it was much warmer. Still, the late autumn air held the promise of winter coming on. The nightfall that had draped over them like a blanket meant a deep temperature drop. She was not affected by the cold as greatly as he could be. But of course, she didn't know for certain. Best to ask him.
"Michael, I—" She turned to look at him, and stopped. His eyes were blackened, and his breath was heavy. How had she not noticed it? He was probably starving. The Change in him had never been properly sated, and the little bit of blood he had taken from her after the police had attacked him had certainly not been enough to quench a thirst probably tripled by his heavy injury and regeneration.
She walked back towards him. "Michael, you can't deny this anymore. You're going to need to feed, and soon. Otherwise, the hunger will overtake you. You could hurt people. You," she stopped, in order that he would listen to her, "you might hurt me, even."
Michael's posture changed immediately. His black eyes searched her face. After a long moment, he let out a breath. "What do I need to do?"
"Hunt," she said simply. "Change completely, and search for prey. You have instincts. Use them."
"But what about—"
"—There aren't humans around for kilometers," she interrupted him. "We're nowhere near a settlement. But places like these are full of animals."
He shifted, looking uncomfortable.
"Michael," she sighed, "you've killed before."
"That was different," he murmured, "William would have killed everyone, and Tanis's lycans would have killed me. And the ones in the castle…" He stopped speaking.
Selene looked at him curiously. "'The ones at the castle?'"
"They were going to hurt you," he answered.
The statement was so simple and yet so intimate. She wanted to kiss him, but held back; in his state of hunger, he was a danger even to her. "Michael, you have to learn to do this. It's in your nature. Now go."
The hybrid took a deep breath, and then slowly nodded.
Michael nodded. He shed his jacket, and shut his eyes. Not angry or stressed at the moment, it was a little harder to Change. However, the hunger that made his fingers shake helped him cross the threshold. When he opened his eyes again, Selene was looking straight at him, looking as if she was proud of his control. He let out a soft grunt, and turned on his heel, bounding into the dense cluster of trees. He turned, and saw Selene set down his jacket on the pebbled shore of the stream they had been following down the mountain. He turned again, and set off into the night.
He had gone about half a mile into the woods, when he stopped. In the darkness, Michael felt his senses heighten. The trees around him teemed with nocturnal life. In the distance, wolves, real wolves, sang in their eerie harmony. An owl hunted not far from where he was, probably for voles or shrews in the dirt. Michael breathed through his elongated fangs, listening and smelling for a sign of desirable prey.
For the first time in his own existence, the first time since becoming an immortal, he let go. He felt prepared, ready to become the predator. His own impulses combined with memories of Lucian hunting filled his head. He smelled the air, listened for signs…there. It was not far from him; Lucian's memories told him what he smelled was a young deer. He turned left and quietly moved through the trees, careful not to disturb anything that could make noise; a difficult feat among fallen autumn leaves. And then he stopped in a space between the foliage.
The young buck was alone in the clearing, grazing on the little bit of grass not yet destroyed by the oncoming seasonal chill. Michael held his breath, steeling himself for what he was about to do. The deer lifted its head, sniffed the air, and lowered again to continue to eat. Michael could hear its pulse running, and the need to feed rose up in him. Against his will, a soft growl began to build in Michael's throat. The deer's head snapped up in alarm and it poised itself to run.
But it was too late. Michael lunged forward, far faster than even the four-legged animal, and in a split second, the deer lay at his feet, its neck snapped. After a second or two of twitching, the thing died. It had never made a sound.
But Michael didn't stop to think of what a piteous sight the dead animal made. He let the carnivore in him rise up and he fell upon his quarry with abandon, sinking fangs into its throat. Fresh, hot blood gushed around his mouth. This was what he had feared, to relish in the destruction of another living being. The doctor in him would have been horrified. Instead, the part of him that was human and conscious of what he was doing realized that this was nothing more than survival, nothing more than following instinct. There was no sin in this. This was far more "natural" than what he used to consider such – a granola bar and a cup of green tea. The crimson, coppery taste on his tongue was incredibly sweet.
When he was done, he sat up, feeling sated. He dragged the deer carcass to the side of the clearing and covered it with leaves; he didn't want to leave it out in the open. Carrion animals would find it and finish the job.
His energy level was incredibly high. The lagging exhaustion he'd felt since waking up in the helicopter was gone, replaced by a vitality he'd not felt since childhood. He breathed for a few moments, taking in this new vigor. He Changed back into his human form and wiped the excess blood from his face. Feeling exhilarated and almost high on it, Michael's pulse raced. Where had this come from? The answer was simple: his immortal nature had required the kill, the abandonment of his inhibitions, and his acceptance what he had become. He had done just that, and in doing so had fully become a predator, capable of giving in to his instincts.
Selene would understand. She had been a hunter for six centuries. He wondered if she had ever reacted to a kill the way he had. I'll ask her, he told himself; he looked around. The most obvious way to get back the where he had left Selene was by following his own scent back to her. As he followed his trail back, he forced himself to calm down, breathing slowly and trying to rein in his energy.
But he realized, as he quietly came upon her, that he needn't have bothered. In the same moment, he caught sight and scent of her; instantly, he was overwhelmed. He had never seen a more exquisite or tantalizing vision in his life.
The striking vampire knelt by the stream, absolutely naked. Her skin seemed to sparkle in the moonlight and in the cold steam emanated from her. Her leather lay abandoned at her side, and next to that, her gun. He smelled fresh blood near her, probably that of a small animal; so she had fed as well. Water dripped from her hair, sliding down her flawless skin in tiny rivulets.
Michael had never seen anything so incredibly perfect in his life.
His heart rate went up again. His mouth began to water. The growl in the back of his throat that had only stopped after the death of the stag came back, soft and so low that not even she with her enhanced hearing seemed to detect it. The need he had felt just before feeding on the deer was nothing compared to the desire he had to lick every inch of her pale, gleaming flesh, to feel her against him. He had to force himself not to lunge at her like a beast. Instead, he stalked across the treeline, waiting for the right moment to approach, dark eyes unblinkingly watching her in the shadows.
Selene crouched by the stream. A dead, drained rabbit lay next to her, curled into a sleep-like position, a clean cut across its throat. The vampire washed the fresh blood from her fingers. But bent over the water, she caught sight of herself. Blood, mostly which had belonged to the proto-lycanthropic Cleaners, matted her hair. More blood, probably her own, had dried across her forehead, leaving a rusty brown powder. Disgusted, she shed her heavy trench coat, the corset, her boots, and her wrist guards. Finally, she stripped off her leather suit and began to wash in the freezing mountain spring water; standing, the water only came up halfway her legs, but she didn't care. Nor did the cold bother her half so much as the disgusting state she was in. The crusted gore came off easily and floated away. When she was clean to her satisfaction, she stepped back onto the bank, grabbing her suit. She had started to don it, when—
Crack, she heard a twig snap. Startled, Selene sprang up to her full height, grabbing her gun, and accidentally knocking the poor drained rabbit's body into the stream to float away. She stepped out of the shallow water onto the cold, pebbled ground. Her eyes turned blue. She certainly did not want to be stumbled upon in this state, either by mortal or immortal. Her recently increased strength be damned, her dignity protested a potential fight if she was going to be naked.
She held her breath, waiting for the invisible presence to appear. But nothing happened; nothing came out of the tree line. She strained to hear for anything, and heard only the breeze rustling through the leaves. Crack, to her left. She spun on her toe, pointing the gun to the source of the noise. A fox yipped and walked into view, then took one look at her and fled.
Selene shut her eyes and sighed. Just a fox. She turned back to face the stream and looked down at her suit. There was no hope for it, the damage caused by Marcus's wing was irreparable; she'd need to get a new one. Or something else entirely, she mused while picking it up, I'm not a Death Dealer anymore. Not really. All the same, she turned it around in her hands, preparing to don it again.
A soft growl behind her left ear startled her, but not so much as what happened next. A head of blond hair appeared in her peripheral vision. It was Michael. She tried to turn to look at him, but changed her mind when he began to nuzzle her neck, growling possessively. Hot, blood-scented breath spread across her shoulder. He wrapped his arms around her, pulling her into a pocket of warmth despite the cold. She was engulfed in Michael's comforting, sexy smell.
Selene's breath caught in her throat. Her gun fell from her loose fingers and tumbled to the ground. Whatever feral part of him that he had tried for days to ignore was coming out, and he was allowing that part of him to initiate contact. Contact they both needed, after the worry and pain, after the hurt.
Michael stopped the nuzzling and began kissing her throat, from the base of her shoulder, slowly up to the sensitive spot behind her ear. She let out the softest of moans, and closed her eyes, knowing that they were glowing bright blue no longer out of wariness but from something much more instinctual. She dipped her head to the side, allowing him more access. But he had had enough of her neck. He twisted her whole body around and began to kiss her mouth, plundering it with his tongue. She opened her eyes, for only a second, and saw that his eyes were still his hybrid-form's inky black; he was watching her. He moved one incredibly strong hand down from her shoulder to her waist, stroking her lower belly, while his fingers on his other hand ran lightly up and down her hip. Her cold skin welcomed the contact and her nerves hummed at his ministrations.
Selene responded actively. This new, much more animalistic behavior of Michael's was making her far more aroused than she had expected she would ever be. Maybe it was the blood on his breath; maybe it was just that he was the one initiating, the one being the aggressor.
But she knew the truth. It was just him. His mere presence was having an aphrodisiacal affect on her; his smell, his eyes, and the way he paused for breath with every powerful kiss.
He had been dead; the only thought that reached past her limbic system was this. I had lost him; he was dead, right in front of me. She shuddered, but from something that was the complete opposite of revulsion.
Not wasting time, she moved her hands from the back of his neck down to his trousers, and found that his enthusiasm matched her own.
Well, he's certainly not dead now. The wicked thought escaped her brain by passing through her fingers, which worked busily to undo his fly.
His hands were working as feverishly; they grabbed her hips firmly. He forcibly shoved her backwards into a tree not a full meter away from them. This aggressive action did not make her angry or hurt her. Instead, her excitement increased and she almost whimpered with frustration as her own impulses took over. Her body demanded fusion with his; she pulled herself up to his eye level and kissed him hungrily. Michael assisted her, lifting her higher by grabbing her thighs. This action elicited no thoughts on her part; instinct and desire dictated that her legs separate. He broke their kiss and looked straight into her eyes. For a few seconds that felt like an eternity, he didn't move; he just continued to stare at her as if spellbound. What was he waiting for? A small, hungry cry escaped her throat. Hearing this, he finally acted; he pushed his hips forward into hers, entering her. Selene inhaled sharply and she closed her eyes, wrapping her legs around him.
The next moments became a blur as they joined completely; he moved slowly at first, making sure she was comfortable. She moaned and he responded. Building speed, he thrust into her repeatedly, meeting her gasps with growls. The tree against her back actually shook, their combined immortal strengths stressing it with every recurrence. The cold was forgotten and the rough, harsh bark of the tree against her back was ignored. Her fingers dug into the back of his shoulders, clawing the muscular flesh that moved there. His hot breath on her neck was in time with her own panting into his ear.
"Michael," she whispered his name, repeating it softly with every wave of pleasure, although out of encouragement for him or just her own need to say it, she didn't know. She didn't think, just felt every sensation as if it would last forever. Pressure and heat began to build in the muscles that gripped him between her legs, threatening to contract. Incoherent thoughts she couldn't utter played in her head. Oh God. She pulled her arms around him firmly, binding her legs around his waist even more fixedly than she had thought herself capable of. So close. "Michael" He hissed into her hair and his hands gripped her unyieldingly. Keep going. "Michael." He pushed again. This was it; her eyes rolled up with intense pleasure. Now. "Mich-unh!" Her breathing momentarily stopped, as her orgasm hit her. Her hips thrust forward of their own accord, and her back arched against the obliging tree. She held him even tighter, clenching him, burying him deeper within her. His climax hit as well, and he let out a roar as he poured into her. She inhaled sharply as his warmth exploded within her belly. They hyperventilated into each other's necks for a few moments, their hearts racing and their bodies shaking. He left a small kiss on her jaw.
Eventually, Michael loosened his tight grip on her, and her feet touched the frozen ground. But she didn't want to let go of him completely. She embraced him, resting her head on his chest. Trembling, they slowly sank to the ground, temporarily stunned, kneeling amongst the fallen, crumbling leaves.
Michael couldn't believe his own behavior. It must have been the rush and the excitement of the hunt, he told himself that had made him want her so badly at that moment. But he knew the truth: he had wanted her nonstop since seeing her in the subway. The difference was simply that he now had the energy to act on it. Their lovemaking in the empty warehouse had been exquisite and slow, but the instincts that had showed him how to hunt and feed had also wanted something else equally powerful in regards to Selene. What they had just done was primal and instinctive.
And the singularly most erotic experience of his young life.
They knelt together on the ground, his hands around her waist. He looked into her eyes. They were a luminescent blue and stared at him unflinchingly. He suddenly felt guilty. Had he forced her into it? He didn't think so; to say she had responded positively would be an understatement. Still, he couldn't help but think he had been too enthusiastic.
"Are…" he had to breathe, "Are you alright?"
She blinked, as if surprised by the question. "I'm—" She lost her balance slightly, and gripped his arm to stable herself. She gave a small gasp of laughter. "I'm very well." She looked at him, a hidden smile tugging at one corner of her mouth. "That was…interesting."
Michael's pounding heart twisted in his chest. What did that mean, interesting? Awful? Unwelcome?
She obviously could tell what was on his mind. Her smile widened and she kissed his lips softly. Then she pulled herself closer to whisper in his ear.
"Amazing," she murmured. Her breath tickled his ear and in response he planted a soft kiss on her clavicle. Selene hummed in pleasure and her grip on his arms tightened.
Needing no more encouragement than that, Michael moved his mouth lower, over one of her breasts, and then the other. Selene threw her head back as he lavished attention on her; her cool skin flushed and she quietly gasped when he licked the sensitive skin there. Her fingernails actually were digging into his triceps to the point of being painful but certainly he didn't care. He slowly made his way back up to her neck, and stopped to look at her face. Her eyes were shut and her cheeks were flushed; she looked like she was enjoying this. After a few seconds, she let out a soft whine in the back of her throat, protesting his pause. She was enjoying this. He pressed a firm kiss into the hollow of her throat. Then he shifted his weight, pulling them both to the ground. He ran his fingers slowly over her ribcage, down her belly, and lower; he covered her intake of breath with a kiss.
This time, he promised himself, he would be much more of a gentleman.