Time and Time Again
Summary: KissingTheRainSeries Part1. Every time Cass uses his strategy, he gets up again. One time, he doesn't.
Warnings: Wow – it's almost romance! Almost. If that (possible romance, isa- and Rese-style) might be a reason for you to leave, here's your last chance to run.
Disclaimer: Standards apply. This one goes to Snowlia, who did a great job in betaing! Thanks!
Teresa is twelve years old and Cassidy is thirteen, but if she wants to, she can still kick his butt.
Training with Teresa is some kind of masochistic streak he must possess, Cassidy believes, because it's mostly his poor ass that swipes the floor in the end. But he does it anyway.
Training with Cassidy is like fighting the sea, Teresa thinks, because she never seems to actually get to him – no matter how much she kicks and punches and strikes at him. She needs it anyway.
They're in the middle of a training fight and nobody is winning.
Rese is strong, but Cass is fast and intelligent and they enjoy it, so they don't want it to end too soon. But after some time, Cassidy starts to feel exhaustion. He doesn't have the energy and stamina his partner has. He has to end the fight soon, but it doesn't look as if he'll be winning, so he has to find a way. His mind is racing.
Rese notices Cass's movements are becoming strained, slower; his breath comes in fast and shallow huffs. She'll win, she knows, it's just a matter of time. They're evenly matched, but if it comes down to raw energy, she's the one at advantage. Her feet move while she lashes out, her fist aiming for his stomach. Cassidy dodges and strikes a round-house kick at her side. She leaps backwards elegantly and tries again. This time her fist connects. Cassidy groans and crumples to the floor.
"Yes!" Teresa knows she has won, so she lets herself fall to the floor next to him. He doesn't move.
"I win," she tells him, her breath still coming fast. The smile illuminating her face is blinding. "I…"
She can't finish, because Cassidy erupts from the floor, flings himself onto her and pins her to the ground, grinning widely. She stares at him, appalled. Then shock turns into anger.
It's the first time he uses this strategy.
The next time, they both are fifteen and they're hunting down a vampire who's on the verge on turning into a ripper. Ten, Jay, Jaq and Terrence are with them; Nadya hasn't yet joined their team.
"Split up," Teacher orders. "Ten, Jaq and Jay follow the trail. Teresa, Cassidy and Terrence finish the perimeter check.
"Why?" Teresa demands angrily and gives her teammates a hard stare. "I want to hunt down the ripper, too!"
"You'll be on patrolling duty as long as I tell you," Daemon answers calmly. "Be back at six. Don't be late."
He disappears into the darkness. The hunter apprentices are left to themselves. Cassidy knows Teacher will be watching them from the shadows, accessing their skill and strength. He shrugs.
It's dark and cold and the grounds of the abandoned house they're patrolling looks more like a labyrinth than anything else. There is rubble everywhere; walls are crumbled, window-panes broken. It's eerily quiet. Cassidy gives Terrence a knowing stare and he nods curtly. Teresa is still occupied and angry, mumbling into her coat collar. She is the first one who notices, though. Suddenly, she stops, freezing into a marble statue. Not even the strands of black hair move. Cassidy and Terrence pause and listen as hard as Teresa does. But no one sees the dark shadow until it lashes itself onto Terrence.
They're not stupid, even though they're only shadows of their former vampire-self. They quickly single out the strongest one of them. Terrence fights back hard, but neither Cassidy nor Teresa are able to help, confronted by another pair of rippers. They're so damn fast. He goes down, still fighting and kicking, but the ripper attached to his back puts his claws around his neck and starts to asphyxiate him. Teresa's swearing in his ears, Cassidy quickly goes through the options they have. It's not much his brain comes up with. He makes up his mind within seconds. Then, suddenly, his body turns rigid and stiff and he lets himself fall to the ground, closing his eyes and willing his breathing and heartbeat to be slower and slower. A furious ripper, betrayed by its prey, snarls angrily and launches himself onto Theresa, who's the last one still moving. Teresa sees Cass go down and cries out in anger and frustration. The remaining rippers snarl and hiss and attack her simultaneously.
Terrence is out cold. He's the only one who can help.
Cassidy launches himself from the ground, his weapons ready, his mind prepared. He gets one monster in the back, the screeching wail telling him he has hit. Then he is next to Rese, fighting the last foe. Together, they end the fight within seconds.
"You did it again!" She accuses him later.
He gives her a nonchalant shrug. "What did I do again?"
"You know what I mean!"
He knows, but he won't tell her.
"I saved your life, that's what I did."
She almost manages to kick him.
The strategy is good and works well, almost every time he applies it. The only one who doesn't like it is Teresa.
She's twenty and he's twenty-one and they're still alive and hunting, even though the experiences they've had left them raw and hurt and scared. Rese isn't the only one with nightmares now.
But even though they've lost friends and encountered death, they're still working for the Council – together. They've met many other hunters by now, but no one can fill in the gaping holes their departed former teammates created in their lives. So whenever they need a partner, they mutually turn to each other.
They're hunting down two stray nightmare demons that were created by some insane weirn. They've eliminated him first but didn't get the demons and now, they are roaming freely, in search of children's dreams and flesh. They've hunted them through a few cities – small and big ones, lively and sleeping ones – and finally have cornered them. The demons don't know they're here yet, but they'll notice soon. Cassidy has brought some little surprises for them, given to them by their former teacher's friend, Roi, and Teresa is filled with enough rage to burn down an entire flock of them. If thoughts could kill, they'd only be smoldering ashes by now, but life doesn't work like that. She'd had enough nightmares in her life to know that's true.
The seals activate and the demons are caught in a field of light, shrieking and raging inside the safety wards. Suddenly, the room is full of light. But there are no children in those beds. They've been lured into a trap.
They have fed enough lately. They are strong. They launch themselves at the barrier surrounding them, baring their yellow fangs. Their claws make horrible noises while scraping against the wards. Teresa regards them with dark certainty.
"We've got you."
The demons snarl at her viciously, but she doesn't shrink back. Then, suddenly, she turns rigid.
"Rese?" Cassidy asks, kneeling on the floor a few meters away from her, but she doesn't answer. Her eyes are fixed on the two monsters in front of her. The demons suddenly are quiet. Nobody moves.
"Teresa?" He asks again, gets to his feet and starts crossing the room. She doesn't move.
He grabs her shoulders and forces her around. Her fists are balled at her side; her face is contorted in fear. Her mouth is slightly open – maybe she would have screamed in panic, but she's still Teresa and she doesn't scream. But in her eyes, he sees unbridled fear. He shakes her.
"Rese! Wake up! They're just…"
Her nightmares have to be really, really strong – of course they are, she has told him about them, even it had been a long time ago – and suddenly, the demons give a collective, piercing scream and the barrier shatters. Now free from the restraining lightning cage, they attack immediately. Cursing, Cassidy makes a move for his weapons. He isn't fast enough. They lash out at him – red eyes and black claws and yellow fangs – and Teresa still doesn't move – and he has to do something, protect her somehow – the demons' claws cut through the denim of his jacket and he doesn't even feel the pain, but suddenly there's red, red everywhere, and it's cold and wet and his own legs refuse to support him any longer. He blinks, trying to see through the red, hazy mist, and the last sensation he feels is the cool and hard floor tiles in his back.
Brown eyes stare at him, huge in fear.
It's the last thing he sees.
Teresa sees him fight – unarmed – and sees him go down and knows it's his coward strategy once again. She has to move, she has to do something – she can't let him do all the fighting, she's a hunter too, she has her pride. It takes an enormous amount of determination to finally leave behind the black void of terror the demons have created in her – showing her faces and battles and people – and she finally can feel her limbs again. With a wordless scream of rage, she launches herself at the first demon and catches him in surprise, but the advantage doesn't last long. She knows Cassidy will be up within seconds, helping her, protecting her back against the second demon. Something slams into her back and she shrieks again, fury clouding her vision. He's really good for nothing, he can't even…
Claws rake down her back and leave trails of searing pain and hot, wet blood, and suddenly realization dawns: He isn't fighting.
It's only her and two demons and Cassidy's down.
She doesn't know how she defeated the demons – all she knows is that her partner is unconscious, bleeding to death slowly, and she has to do something, anything. The fight passes in a blur and the next thing she remembers is running, or rather forcing herself forward, half-carrying, half-dragging him behind, staggering into the Sanctuary half-blind with pain and tears and dizzy with the loss of blood. She doesn't want to let go, but an unconscious body is somehow forced from her and she's led into another direction. Soft voices tell her to calm, to lie down and to relax – You're safe, it's fine, he'll survive – but she won't calm down and she won't fall asleep. If she does, he´ll disappear and…
There's a cool, familiar hand on her head, dark black eyes and brown skin and the scent of books and blood and night, and she falls, away from reality and into darkness, still struggling to stay awake.
She survives, and Cassidy does, as well, but he takes a long time to recover whereas she is able to leave the Sanctuary after five days. She only returns three weeks later, and she returns when she knows nobody is there except the sick and the injured.
Cassidy is asleep.
His red and blond hair is tangled and his face without his glasses seems so much younger and vulnerable. His breathing is even and soft. There's nothing indicating that he's hurt except the healing gashes in his face – and Teresa knows there's more of it underneath the covers, a broken hand, a deep wound in his side, a few broken ribs that almost punctured his lungs, cuts and slashes all over his body. She's fought him so often she knows him better than herself, but she can't – she doesn't want – to imagine him with all those new scars. The moonlight falls into the small chamber, there are little rooms in the back of the sanctuary. He sleeps peacefully. She feels jealousy and pushes it back down, tries to bury it next to all those feelings she has been fighting for so long. Even though he looks fragile and young and hurt, it's still Cassidy. She knows, and her whole body knows as well.
She just stands there, looking down on him, fighting the urge to touch him and make sure he's still warm and alive. The impulse comes from nowhere and her body reacts before she can stop it.
And then she freezes, because his eyes are open, and he's smiling at her.
Cassidy feels the smile fade from his face. He wanted to ask if she was fine, if she wasn't hurt by the demons. He wanted to ask her so many things as soon as he saw her again. But all questions die when he hears her slipping into his room far past midnight, because he realizes nothing is alright. She just stands there, staring down at him, and he doesn't move. But then she reaches out to touch him, her lips brush his, soft and gentle like a feather, and then they're staring at each other wordlessly.
"I just wanted to check on you," she finally manages.
"I'm perfectly well. Now", he adds, smirking, and her fists clench. He knows he's making her angry, but for some reason it's the only reaction he can show, and it's the only reaction she can deal with. Her eyes are blazing.
She's at a loss for words and he's not going to help her with that. She's not good with words when it comes down to them, and he knows that as well.
"Get back to earth," she snaps at him. "You were dying."
She's serious; she completely freaked when she saw him there, on the ground, injured and bleeding and unconscious. She can't remember anything of the fight, just the overpowering need to end it so she could take him to the Sanctuary as fast as possible. The sudden, gut-wrenching fear of losing him…
Teresa turns on her heel and runs. He doesn't try to stop her. His voice follows her down the dark corridor.
"It's okay, Rese. It'll be fine. It's not your fault."
She hears his words and wants to scream.
Cassidy listens to her footsteps.
It will be fine.
It's the only thing they can believe in, the only thing that keeps them upright during dark nights. They are hunters. They'll go out and hunt and fight, go down and get up time and time again.
They can just hope they'll be together as long as possible.