IN THE LEYLINE OF FIRE
Title: In the Leyline of Fire
Author: Wye (wyback)
Fandom: The Hollows
Rating: T for now. May rise as the story progresses
Spoilers: Up to White Witch, Black Curse
Disclaimer: Rachel, Ivy, Jenks and the rest of the Hollows belong to Kim Harrison and her publishers. Only the story below is mine.
Author's Note: This isn't my first fic but it is my first Ravy fic, and it resulted mostly from sheer frustration. I wanted to see Ivy and Rachel moving forward, or at least going places, and this was the result. Thanks to Madlaxx for the beta-work and the title!
Summary: Rachel learns that it's okay to need someone.
I was going to die.
Stupid, stupid witch.
This is what happens when you live a relatively quiet life for a year. You let your guard down. Not that it was uneventful; I did my lessons with Al, consulted with the F.I.B., took on some runs, paid my rent, and mostly stayed out of Trent's way. Maybe the last time I'd nearly gotten killed had finally knocked some sense into me.
Then, three weeks ago I'd helped Ford thwart one of Cleo Walker's schemes to snatch Holly, who was that rarest of beings, a banshee's baby (though she was more of a toddler by now). I thought there'd be some kind of payback but I never expected Walker to send a banshee after me! And right to my door too.
I had let the harmless-looking, gray-haired woman into the church myself, thinking she was a potential client. Within five minutes she'd ascertained that no one else was there, and she pounced. Only chance and a lucky knee in the ribs let me get away.
But I couldn't get far. She had already drained a lot of my aura in the first attack and it left me weak. I was reduced to taking baby steps, then crawling, and even then each move felt like it was tearing more of my aura away. I collapsed, feeling helpless as the banshee recovered. Her predatory eyes gleamed.
"Ivy! Jenks!" I cried out, though I knew it was useless. They were on a run and they weren't supposed to be back for hours. Even Bis was away, some gargoyle social thing. It was unfair. I won't get to say goodbye.
Desperate, I felt for the ley line running through the church. With much of my aura gone, this was going to hurt, but what choice did I have?
"Get away!" I shouted as I reached for the line and threw the force of it at her.
The banshee cried out as she flew across the room. She landed against the thick stone wall with a solid thunk, and slid down in a crumpled heap to the floor. For a moment she lay there, her head propped up against the wall at a sharp angle and her limbs splayed.
I doubled over as the ley line reverberated through my thin aura. Run! I told myself, but I couldn't even get up. All my body wanted to do was curl into itself as nausea and vertigo sent it spinning.
"Is that all you got, dearie?" To my horror, the banshee's eyes slid open. Staring at me, she began to straighten her crooked limbs. She used the wall to support herself, sliding up slowly against it as she began to sit up.
Oh God, did I even have enough of an aura left to use a ley line again? I couldn't tear my eyes away from her slow, inevitable recovery. I knew that I was watching the approach of my death.
Then something in me rebelled. No, dammit! I gritted my teeth. I would try, I would do whatever I could to stay alive. No way in hell would I give up and allow Ivy and Jenks to come home and find my body, and blame themselves when the only thing at fault was my dim-witted lack of caution. Ivy. Ivy, I'm sorry. I thought we had time. I should've worked harder to find a way for you to keep your soul. I'm sorry I can't help you to be the person you want to be.
The banshee cocked her head to one side, soaking in my distress. "You only think she'll miss you, but the truth is your death will probably be a relief. All you do is hold her back, Rachel Morgan." A nasty smile grew wide on her face as she soaked in my distress. "You're a coward. You say you love her, but you've done nothing but hurt her. You won't accept her for what she is."
"That's not true," I denied in a hoarse whisper. I knew the banshee was toying with me, messing with my emotions so she could feed on them before she killed me, but even doubled up in pain I couldn't let a statement like that stand.
"She's a vampire and she scares you. She's a woman who stands head and shoulders above every man you've had in your life, and that frightens you. You claim to live for rush and adventure, but you draw a line in the sand and refuse to cross it." She licked her lips. I was helpless and the damn banshee was practically salivating over the feelings I was throwing off. "You are a coward," she repeated.
"Not. True." I barely managed. It was so tempting to give in to the weakness, and pass out.
"You are stupid." The woman got up on her haunches and went into a crouch, readying herself to leap at me again. A tone of real contempt crept into her voice, the disdain of a banshee, a creature who could not love without killing, for any being who merely refused to. "You find love, and build walls around it because it's nothing like you've known before. This is the single most complicated thing you've come up against, and you have no idea what it might mean or how far it might go, and how it will change you. And now you're going to die, and you're never going to find out. You've lost your chance."
"Lies," I whispered. But I could hear Ivy's voice in my head, "You know how banshees are. They tell you hard truths just to get you angry so they can eat your emotions..." The only reason I was still alive was because I was providing the banshee with a tasty snack.
The banshee's lips parted, her snaggled teeth framed in the rictus smile of a predator. "Maybe I should wait for her, this vampire of yours. I'll stay till she finds your body. Then I'll tell her how you died blaming her for not being here. Her sorrow will nourish me for weeks, and in gratitude I'll offer her a quick death."
"Ivy will tear you apart!" I threw back. But God, she might believe it. She'd hunt this banshee down and make her pay, but I could see her blaming herself for my death, as she nearly did with Kisten's.
"Or maybe I'll lay waste to the stump in your garden, and see how fast your little pixie can dig thirty new graves. Though pixies are not much of a taste."
I couldn't let her. I couldn't let Ivy carry a burden she had nothing to do with. I couldn't let Jenks' family down. With the last of my strength I lifted my hand. "Stay the HELL away from my friends!"
I opened myself up to the line again.
This time I screamed. The energy burned through the thin layer of my aura and right through to me, every spike rasping on my nerves. It seared as it flowed, bringing tears I couldn't stop.
The banshee was thrown against the wall, but I had seen her crumple and get up before, and I wasn't going to take the chance this time because it might be my last. I threw as much force behind it as I could until the woman's eyes were bulging and she was writhing where she fell.
My insides felt like they were being torn apart. Instinctively, I understood that if I pushed this much further the forces I was harnessing could turn against me. The wave of the ley line was doing what I demanded, but it was also burning something inside. Soon the damage might be more than my body could take without permanent harm.
Then suddenly the pain cut off, as cleanly as if it had never existed. And I knew, even before my befuddled mind realized that a hand was gripping my shoulder, even before she spoke, that she was there.
"Rachel, enough!" Ivy said.
I was safe. She was here and I was safe, and all of us were going to live... Half-delirious with pain, I could only smile at her.
"Get her to stop. Crap on my daisies, her aura's as thin as fairy wings!" Jenks shouted as he buzzed near my ear.
"You heard him. Rache, let go," she urged. She looked towards the fallen banshee, and a sliver of white teeth showed. It said more clearly than anything that another predator was in the room, and she was royally pissed. "Let me take care of it."
With a sigh I did, and dropped my hand. The power shut off, but I'd used too much and everything was a wild kaleidoscope of spinning, blurry images.
Ivy caught me as I collapsed. "It's okay. I've got you." A hand touched my forehead, and its coolness was soothing.
Those were the last words I heard before the world turned from gray to black.