Comparing your savior to an avenging angel is cliché and outdated, and in this case, inaccurate.. Standing in the artificial glow of the hallway, Xana looked more like some sort of secret agent from a spy movie, dressed in her evening wear and brandishing a pistol in one hand. Her face, framed by her colorful hair, was absolutely bloodthirsty. She really looked like a vampire.
"Xana," Jezebeth hissed from off to the side, venom in her voice and the bloody chalice in her hands. She didn't seem surprised, but she certainly didn't seem pleased. Her gaze flickered over to Will who had just pulled himself to his feet. He stood rather unsteadily, blood drenching his person. His lips, stained scarlet, were spread into a stunning smile. Not his usual, happy, sunlight-streaming-through-the-clouds smile though. This smile was smug and wicked and seemed totally alien on his usually sweet face.
"You summoned her, didn't you William?" Jezebeth demanded, "I'm rather impressed I must say. I wasn't aware that your telepathic powers were so refined."
"They're not," he said, grinning wickedly as he pulled something out of his pocket. He raised his clenched fist before dropping the item on to the floor. It landed with a clank. It was his cellphone.
I immediately thought back to when Apollyon had been slicing up my arms. Will had been tucked away in the corner, his head down. I'd thought it'd been because he couldn't bare to watch. I realized now that that was what he wanted everyone to think. He hadn't been cowering. He'd been texting Xana.
"How anticlimactic," Azazel commented dryly.
"Only fools take the time to be theatrical," Xana snarled, speaking for the first time as she lifted her gun, "For instance, I could have come in here swinging Excalibur and challenged you to a duel to the death. But it seemed much easier to just pump you full of lead."
"Shoot me," Jezebeth dared in her little girl voice. "Go ahead. Shoot your best friend."
"You must've thought I was pretty stupid," Xana said levelly, "To ever believe that you were Little Lyn."
Jezebeth shrugged, giving up the facade quite quickly. "How did you know?" she asked curiously.
"Those devil eyes gave you away," she hissed.
"Fair enough," Jezebeth agreed, her green eyes flashing even brighter for an instance, "But it doesn't change anything. I may not be Little Lyn but to get me out of her body, you'll have to kill her first. And we both know that you can't do that."
"You're wrong," Xana snarled, cocking the pistol, "I'd do anything get you out of Little Lyn. It's what she'd want. She'd rather be dead than your puppet."
"Then do it," Jezebeth challenged, spreading her arms, "Shoot me." She looked confident, but Azazel, on the other hand, didn't seem nearly as sure. He glanced nervously at the door Apollyon had disappeared through.
Xana looked ill. She had tears in her eyes and goose bumps on her arms. But despite all that, her expression was determined. She was going to do it.
"I hope you burn in hell for what you've made me do," she cried as she pulled the trigger.
A lot of things seemed to happen at once. Xana fired the gun, the doors at the back flew open and Apollyon appeared, and Jezebeth fell to the floor with a scream. I watched on in shock from my position on the floor as blood began to stain the midsection of Jezebeth's dress and pool around her. She continued to howl in agony as she curled in on herself.
She was at my level now, and I could see that her eyes were clenched together in pain as she screamed. But all of a sudden, she went still as the screams cut off abruptly. Her eyes snapped open, glowing that poisonous green color. They were unfocused and staring at nothing for a moment.
Everyone was dead silent as a black, smokey substance began to ooze out of her body, seeping through her pores, hovering in the air around her. It began to gather together next to her until it created the silhouette of a woman. And with a popping sound, the shadow woman became more feasible.
She still didn't look quite like a real person though. She looked kind of like a cross between a ghost and a shadow. She had more volume than a shadow, but didn't have enough definition to pass for what most pictured a ghost as. She looked like the shadows I'd seen around Azazel in the past; smokey, inky, figures that seemed like clouds of black smog. Except this one looked like a real woman. She had facial features, a willowy body, a gown on, and long hair. Everything about her was black and shadowy, like a phantom. Except for her eyes. They were emerald and green and seemed as real as any pair of eyes I'd ever seen.
It was Jezebeth. The real Jezebeth. She'd come out of Little Lyn's body.
But Little Lyn wasn't dead yet, I realized. Her screaming had started up again once Jezebeth was out of her. But it sounded different; not quite so high pitched and bird like. This scream was slightly rougher, a little more boyish, and was full of anguish. She started to thrash about and when her eyes opened briefly I saw that they were no longer that sickly green, but instead were a natural looking, light brown.
"I couldn't take it anymore!" came the voice I was used to hearing come out of Little Lyn's mouth, but was now coming from the Shadow Woman. "It hurt too much!"
"You fool!" Apollyon shouted at her, "Do you realized what you've done? If you don't have a host body, we cannot complete the ritual! We need three!"
"Do not fret Apollyon," she soothed him, "I know just what to do." And then the shadow woman seemed to collapse in on herself, turning into one of those shapeless shadows. She plowed through the air almost too fast for my eyes to follow. She crashed into Xana and then dissolved into her. Xana closed her eyes and went rigid all over.
When her eyes flew open again, they were glowing green.
"Fuck!" I cursed under my breath. That was the problem with having another Blood Angel come save us. If they forced the Shadow People out of one body, they could just inhabit theirs. It was an endless cycle. If only we had a human to help us. After all, Azazel had said it himself; Shadow People couldn't possess humans. But of course, Will would never drag his human friends into this. I didn't blame him. I wouldn't either.
Jezebeth smirked, admiring her new form. "Well I rather like this switch," came her voice from Xana's lips, "It's so delightful to be tall again." She lifted the gun in her hand and examined it as well. "And now I have a glock as well. I must say, this was a splendid idea on my part."
Little Lyn began howling again and every pair of evil green eyes in the room flashed to her in annoyance. I could tell they were all thinking the same thing. "Time to dispose of this pest." Jezebeth lifted the gun again.
Will, who had been standing and silent, was suddenly in action. He ran in front of Jezebeth, blocking her view of Little Lyn. He was swaying slightly, but he stood his ground; his grey eyes as turbulent as the stormy sea, his jaw set as blood dripped off of it. He looked like a force to be reckoned with, oddly enough.
"Move aside Billy boy," Jezebeth advised lightly in her sneering, patronizing voice that grated my nerves like nails on a blackboard.
"No," he snarled, backing up so that he was stepping in the puddle of blood surrounding the screaming Little Lyn. "I won't let you kill her."
"Oh?" Jezebeth inquired, pointing the gun at me, "Would you rather I kill Amunet instead?" What blood remained in my body went cold. Goosebumps spread out over my skin and sweat beaded at the back of my neck. My heart was slamming away fearfully in my chest as I stared down the barrel of that gun.
"You're bluffing," Will said with confidence.
"What makes you think so?" Jezebeth inquired.
"You need us both alive," he said simply, "To complete the ritual."
"Forget it Jezebeth," Apollyon finally spoke in his deep authorities voice, "We don't have time for games. It's nearly midnight. Just take the girl and put her in the back room. Gag her or something."
"Fine," Jezebeth sighed unhappily, lowering the gun. She placed it on one of the arm chairs as she passed, probably so she wouldn't be tempted to use it. She tried to approach Little Lyn but Will blocked her way. Now that she was in Xana's body, Jezebeth was just as tall as him. She smirked at him, obviously enjoying her new height.
"Come on William, I already promised not to hurt your little friend," she sighed, seeming bemused but also exasperated.
He held his ground in silence. His fists were clenched tightly and his jaw was firm but he was trembling slightly all over. It didn't escape Jezebeth's notice.
"Besides, I don't think you can afford to waste anymore strength, standing here. Do you?" she inquired, patting his cheek lightly. It couldn't have hurt, but he flinched. He didn't make a sound as he stepped aside and allowed Jezebeth access to the screaming girl on the floor, writhing around in a pool of her own blood. She appeared to still be bleeding and I couldn't help but worry how much longer she would last without medical attention.
Jezebeth picked up the bloody girl as if she weighed nothing and carried her into the back room. Once they were gone Apollyon spoke, "Well now that all that's over with, let's proceed with the ritual." I noticed that in his hands he had a paint brush and a bucket of some clear substance.
"So we're just going to act as if they hadn't attempted to organize an escape plan?" Azazel demanded, seeming flustered.
"Well did you expect them to be enjoying themselves?" Apollyon countered as he thrust the bucket and paint brush at him. "The point is, they didn't escape. No harm, no foul. Now let's get a move on. It's nearly time."
Azazel grumbled to himself as he began to trace a large shape on the floor in the center of the room with the clear substance. Apollyon smiled faintly, pleased with himself as he went over to the door and put the deadbolt back in place. Will and I both watched them with wide, traumatized eyes. I imagined that we were both thinking the same thing; what are we going to do?
"William," Apollyon said, "Why don't you take a seat. You're not well enough to stand."
I had to agree with him there. Will looked like hell, although I doubted I looked any better. But at least I wasn't pushing myself by moving. My wounds had stopped bleeding but Will had agitated some of his with all his moving around. Not to mention he really didn't have the strength standing required at the moment. He was shaking all over from the effort. Despite Apollyon's suggestion, he didn't move. He looked like he was caught in a bad dream. I could relate.
"Will," I managed. My voice was dry and hoarse. I barely recognized it as my own.
He looked over at me, blinking, as if my voice had woken him up from his trance. "What?" he asked. It sounded painfully normal.
"Why don't you sit down," I suggested.
He looked around briefly before finally taking my advice and sinking to the floor, right in a puddle of Little Lyn's blood. He didn't seem to mind. I breathed a sigh of relief. He'd looked like he was about to pass out a second ago and if he did, he could hit his head or something. He was hurt badly enough, he didn't need any more injuries.
We both sat there, staring at each other from across the room. Apollyon had settled back into his chair, seeming impatient but pleased. Azazel was still painting with the clear paint, all over the floor. I was too tired to keep track of what it might be a picture of. Jezebeth reappeared from the back room, smirking as she took her seat. I noticed that I could no longer hear Little Lyn screaming. I hoped that it was because Jezebeth had gagged her and not because she was dead. Will wouldn't be able to handle that. I hadn't even known her and I wasn't sure I'd be able to handle it.
"Well aren't you quite the little artist Azazel," Jezebeth teased, watching him paint.
He growled. "Why I've tolerated you all these years I haven't a clue."
"Oh come off it. We both know you love me," she went on.
He snorted. "Like a lion loves the wildebeest it feeds off of."
She rolled her eyes. "If you don't love me then why were you so upset when I got expelled from that Blood Angel's body before?"
He didn't look up from his work when he answered, "Because we need you to perform the ritual. I've explained this already. I love you like the lion loves the wildebeest it feeds off of. I need you to sustain myself, but I could care less whether you live or die."
She seemed offended. "Once we gain our bodies, I do believe I will deliver a swift kick to your manhood," she said delicately.
"In which case I'll response with a swift kick to your manhood," he retorted, "You are actually a man, aren't you?"
Jezebeth jumped to her feet angrily, looking like she was about to lunge at Azazel, but Apollyon stopped her. "Knock it off," he growled, "Both of you. Goodness, you're both more childish than the Luma or the Umbra, who are both merely sixteen, might I remind you."
"Actually, I'm seventeen," Will spoke up, sounding more normal than he did previously.
"Practically old enough to be collecting social security," Jezebeth muttered sarcastically, throwing herself back in her chair.
"Well how old are you?" Will asked, his voice making the question a challenge.
She snorted. "Let's put it this way. I was there when the Hanging Gardens of Babylon were no more than a bunch of flower seeds on a staircase."
Will stared at her. "You of all people should know that clever little references like that are totally lost on me. It's not like I pay attention during history class. I'm stoned half the time, as you should already know, considering you regularly pushed drugs down my throat when you were pretending to be Little Lyn."
"I had to pretend to be Little Lyn," she said with a shrug and a smug smirk. "That way I could try and seduce you. And if you fully succumbed to my advances than I'd know you weren't really in love with Amunet."
Ahh. It made a little more sense now. Azazel had possessed August to test me, and Jezebeth had possessed Little Lyn to test Will. It was sick, but at least it made sense.
"I get that," Will said, "What I don't get is why, when I didn't succumb, you decided it'd be cool to slip me drugs and fuck me."
I felt my stomach roll a little at that. I really didn't want to think of anybody, least of all Jezebeth, 'fucking' Will.
"Oh honey," Jezebeth said, in a pitying tone, "You don't realize just how delicious you are, do you?" She clucked her tongue and looked at me. "You really hit the jackpot with this one. Usually the really gorgeous ones come with a magnificent ego to match their magnificent bodies."
Will looked appalled. Under other circumstances, this would've been amusing. Will always found it weird when women obsessed over him and seemed to think that everybody received the same special treatment he did. He didn't realize that normal people didn't have strangers buying them drinks or offering them rides or inviting them places. He didn't realize just how good looking he was.
"Shut the fuck up," Will snarled. It was weird to hear him sound so vicious.
"Somebody needs to learn how to take a compliment," she clucked reprimandingly.
Will glared at her heatedly from under his bloody, tangled bangs. "That was not a compliment," he snarled. I was surprised by how pissed and passionate he was about this. I mean, didn't we have bigger problems than a little sexual harassment?
"Most people consider being praised for your looks a compliment," Jezebel said. Apollyon, from where he sat next to her, rolled his eyes dramatically. He met my eyes and gave me a look that one man might give to another when their wives were prattling away endlessly about something stupid. It was a look that said "what are we going to do with these two?" I returned it with a look that said "go fuck yourself you asshole."
"I don't," he said sharply. I didn't understand why he was getting so offended.
"Hmmm, you're oddly sensitive about your looks aren't you?" she inquired.
"If anyone should be sensitive about their looks it's you," I snapped angrily, tired of her baiting Will, "For fuck's sake you're a shadow!"
Jezebeth made a snarling noise, like a dog, and bared her square teeth at me. "You're really not in any position to be insulting people."
"Really?" I challenged, "You're going to kill me sooner or later, what does it matter if I'm rude?"
"It may be sooner rather than later," she growled the threat.
"Whatever," I said, my voice raising in volume and pitch as I angrily threw my hands in the air, "It's not like manners are going to do me any good in hell."
Jezebeth opened her mouth to snarl another snipe but Apollyon stopped her. "Enough Jezebeth."
She looked disappointed. "But -,"
"Done!" Azazel cut her off, jumping lithely to his feet in the manner of a cat or some other agile creature.
"Excellent," purred Apollyon, getting regally to his feet, "Now I hope you two are ready for your own bodies. Because this is the last time you'll ever inhabit a Blood Angel ever again. The last time you'll ever have to be a leech inside another person's body. The last time you have to pretend. Because tonight, we become real."