Author's Notes: This takes place in New Moon, when Laurent found Bella in the meadow. As for the Winchester boys, this takes place after the first episode of Season 3.
The Sword, the Singer, and the Vessel
As I stared into Laurent's dark eyes, I wondered if—not for the first time—I had lost my mind.
There was once a time when I would have been more afraid, more willing to fight back. I would have done just about anything to escape, to survive.
This was different though. Not because this particular vampire was being cordial in his intent to kill me, or the fact that he didn't have my mother's life to use as a bargaining chip, but because I realized with a startling clarity that I wanted it.
I had never been suicidal, but after everything, I couldn't bring myself to want to live enough to even try.
Regardless of my current feelings, that realization was more than a little unsettling.
Was I so very broken that I couldn't even muster the slightest desire to escape?
"Please," I gasped, both a plea for postponement and a lack of words to express how pathetic I had become.
"Look at it this way, Bella. You're very lucky I was the one to find you."
"Yes. I'll be very quick. You won't feel a thing, I promise. Oh, I'll lie to Victoria about it later, naturally, just to placate her. But if you knew what she had planned for you, Bella... I swear you'd be thanking me for this."
I imagined what would have happened if Victoria had shown up here instead of Laurent, and shuddered at the gruesome tortures my mind conjured up. Would she have broken my bones, one by one in an homage to James? There were an endless stream of possibilities and even I wasn't so far gone that I didn't fear her.
I didn't flinch or falter as Laurent stepped closer, all poise and cat-like as if after tearing through my neck, he planned to procure a napkin to dab at his mouth.
"Not so fast, Lestat!" a male voice yelled some distance away.
Laurent turned and I peeked around him to find a man across the field, slowly making his way toward us. As he grew closer, I noticed that he had some kind of weapon in his hand—a crossbow, I think—and although he was smiling good-naturedly, even I could see the aggressive stance he was taking.
I didn't know who this man was or how he had found us, but the fact that he had a weapon made it more than clear that he came here with purpose. He must not have been well informed, however, if he thought an arrow would make any difference against a vampire. Laurent's chuckle affirmed my thoughts.
"And who are you?" I could hear the grin in his voice. "The hero, come to save the damsel?"
The man stopped a few feet ahead of us. He was wearing an old leather jacket that had obvious signs of prolonged use and faded jeans. His hair was short, although not drastically so, and light brown. If I had to guess, I'd say he was somewhere in his early or mid-twenties.
"I'm Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, come to kill myself a vampire," the man replied with a smirk.
So the man did know what he was up against and yet, he had come here anyway, bearing a useless weapon. Although he knew what Laurent was, I didn't think he knew all of the details. If he did, then he was either brave, or just incredibly stupid.
"You should run," I blurted, feeling ridiculous when he only quirked an eyebrow at me, unfazed by my warning.
I knew Laurent was much too fast for the man to actually escape. He was also a human who knew about the existence of vampires, and therefore wouldn't be allowed to just leave. Yet, I knew I was responsible for Laurent's presence here and I didn't want this man getting hurt because he thought he could save me.
My only hope was that Laurent would be too busy draining me to keep the man from escaping.
"No can do, Sweet Cheeks," the man smirked at me and I blushed even harder at the reference to my still burning cheeks.
"She is right you know," Laurent said conversationally, "You really should run."
"We're not really the running type, are we Sammy?" the man hollered passed us.
I glanced behind me to find another man not too far away, wielding a similar weapon.
"Definitely not!" he agreed.
This man looked around the same age as the other, although there was something about him that made him seem more boyish. He was also more...shaggy, both in clothing and his longer hairstyle.
"Well, now that you two are here, I won't have to incur Victoria's ire," Laurent noted.
His gaze left the first man as he turned back to me.
"I suppose you will have to endure what she has planned for you," Laurent explained sadly, as if taking me to her was such a travesty and beyond his control. "I pity you, Bella, for the horrors you will undoubtedly experience."
Laurent turned back toward the first man and I began to panic.
"Wait! Don't hurt them. You came here for me," I pleaded pointlessly.
I knew it was of no use. Laurent's steps didn't falter and he didn't acknowledge me.
"Don't worry about us. We can take him," the first man assured me with a wink, aiming his crossbow at Laurent.
Laurent stopped walking, tilting his head to the side in curiosity.
"Do you truly believe your measly arrows can stop me?" Laurent asked, amused.
There was an audible click and as it rang through the air, instinct kicked in. I dropped to the ground as both men fired, knowing that even if the arrows wouldn't affect Laurent, they could easily kill me.
The first slid straight into Laurent's chest, right where his heart would be if he had one. I had to assume that his had shriveled up long ago, along with his humanity. The second sunk into the back of his neck. I had no doubt that those shots would've been lethal, had Laurent been human.
It took me a moment to register what I was actually seeing.
Those arrows were in Laurent, meaning that they would've had to puncture through his stony skin. As far as I knew, nothing but another vampire could do that.
"Did you know that if another vampire's venom is introduced to their 'bloodstream' it can work as a temporary paralyzer? Happens pretty rarely because a bite won't do it," the second man spoke up as he approached.
I slowly stood up, glancing between the two men and Laurent, who had gone curiously still. Cautiously, I crept around Laurent to get a look at his face.
His entire body was frozen, even his dark eyes remained wide open, as if he had a brief moment to register surprise before he lost use of his limbs. Although I knew vampires could remain perfectly still if they chose to, it was still a disturbing sight to behold.
"You... How?" I breathed out, too shocked to form a coherent sentence.
"With these," the second man withdrew an arrow from the bag draped over his shoulder. "They've been dipped in vampire venom."
The arrowhead was thin and sharp, with a distinct shine to it that I supposed was the venom.
"The weapons lesson is over," the first man interrupted. "We need to torch this bastard before that stuff wears off."
Both men pulled a lighter out of their coat pocket, almost moving in sync. Despite their different styles of dress, they seemed similar and I wondered if they were related.
"Might want to stand back, Sweet Cheeks," the first man warned me.
Although a part of me wanted to rebel, to insist that I could handle whatever would happen next, I did step back. Truthfully, I was still a little too shocked by how drastically the situation had shifted to resist.
The men set fire to various parts of Laurent's clothing and I was shocked by how easily the flames spread to his skin, as if he was coated in gasoline. The fire was practically feasting on him.
Laurent's eyes were still wide open and the horror I found there made me sick. Despite his inability to move, he could obviously feel himself being burned alive.
"You shouldn't be watching this," the first man sighed in exasperation, when he noticed my fixed gaze.
I hadn't noticed his approach, nor did I resist when he took a hold of my arms and turned me away. I didn't think I would ever be able to forget what I had just witnessed. There was also a sickly sweet smell filling the air in the form of thick purple smoke, so potent that I began coughing.
I remember reading somewhere that the smell of burnt flesh was something you could never forget, as if it was seared in your nostrils. I imagined that the smell of burnt vampire flesh wouldn't be any different.
"He just... He just stood there."
"Yeah, this one was definitely a cocky bastard. They really should learn not to underestimate us," the man replied gruffly.
"Us?" I whipped around to look at him, willing my gaze to stay on his face. I didn't want to watch Laurent turn to ash. "Who are you people? How do you know about vampires? How did—"
"Whoa there! Before you go on playing twenty questions, we have some of our own."
I stared at him, noting the resolve in the set of his jaw. I didn't know what information they wanted, but I had a horrible feeling that it would be about them. After seeing what they were able to do to Laurent, I was worried.
"I'm not going to answer any of your questions if you aren't going to answer any of mine," I stated stubbornly.
The first man quirked an eyebrow at me and his mouth once again lifted into a smirk.
"You just watched us gank a vampire and yet, you're trying to call the shots?" he asked incredulously. "You're either brave, or just plain stupid."
I almost wanted to laugh because that was what I had thought about him when he first showed up.
"She's right Dean," the second man intervened before I could reply. "We can't really expect her to trust us if we don't trust her," he finished, reasonably.
"How about the fact that we just saved her life?" the first man, who I now knew as Dean, muttered gruffly.
The second man ignored him and offered me his hand instead.
"I'm Sam and this is my brother, Dean," he introduced with a smile.
"Bella," I replied once he had released my hand.
"So Bella, how about we each ask a question? Alternate, you know?" Sam suggested.
Dean rolled his eyes, while I just nodded. It was the best deal I was going to get. Besides, although I was worried about what they would ask, I was dying to get some answers.
"Who are you?" I blurted, before rushing to elaborate. "I mean, obviously you aren't just a couple of normal guys who happen to carry around venom-dipped arrows..."
The brothers shared a look that reminded me of the silent conversations they used to have when they didn't want anyone to overhear. It was still remarkably annoying.
"We're hunters," Sam finally replied after a moment.
"Nuh-uh. It's our turn to ask a question," Dean pointed out.
This time I rolled my eyes, gesturing for them to go ahead.
"You knew the vampire," Sam began. It wasn't a question, so I didn't respond, although I was surprised he had caught on to that fact. "How?"
"I met him once before," I replied, vaguely.
"How did you meet him before?" Dean interjected.
"Nuh-uh. It's my turn to ask a question," I mimicked him, surprising myself.
I guess now that the adrenaline had worn off, I wasn't in the mood for his attitude.
"That was Sam's question. This one's mine," he smirked.
I narrowed my eyes at him, annoyed that he was trying to manipulate the little game we were playing in his favor.
"That's kind of cheating," I pointed out.
He shrugged in response, nodding at me to proceed. I sighed loudly in defeat.
"A member of his coven tried to kill me last year."
"Tried?" Dean repeated incredulously, but I ignored him. It was my turn, after all.
"What are hunters?" I directed my question at Sam. "I'm guessing you aren't the normal deer-killing kind."
"No, hunters are people who track down and kill the supernatural. Spirits, Demons, etcetera."
Demons? I wanted to ask, but I knew it wasn't my turn. Although part of me wanted to be skeptical, I wasn't. I had dated a vampire after all—it wouldn't be too far of a stretch to suggest that there were other supernatural creatures out there.
I wondered if he had known, but kept me in the dark.
These men were becoming more and more dangerous. They killed the supernatural and while I was grateful that they had stopped Laurent, I wondered if they hunted indiscriminatively, wiping out any and all creatures they came across, regardless if the being was good.
"What happened with the other vampire? How did you survive?" Sam asked, his curiosity evident in the way he shuffled closer, bending his head as if the better angle would reveal more.
He had technically asked two questions, but I wasn't bothered by that right now. No, I was more worried about how much to reveal. I decided to try to be as vague as possible.
"One of the other vampires—James—came after me. I guess I smelled good," I added with a wry smile. "He liked the thrill of the chase though, so he prolonged the hunt. Before he could kill me, someone...else stepped in and, well..." I gestured to the pile of ashes that used to be Laurent. "Now he's gone."
I stared at the ground, unwilling to meet their gazes. I didn't care how they reacted to my story, as long as they didn't ask about—
"Who stepped in? Who saved you?" Dean's questions made me flinch.
Thinking about who had saved me wasn't what hurt. It was the why.
Why did they bother to save me if they were just going to leave? I felt like I knew the answer—the same I always came up with when I dwelled on this question. If they hadn't 'saved' me by sucking the venom out, I would have become one of them.
Hell, the prospect of an eternity with me was enough for him to overcome his bloodlust. I must've been blind not to notice a clue that massive.
I shook my head, unwilling to talk about them.
"You have to answer. That's part of the game, remember?" Dean pressed.
I continued to shake my head, keeping my lips pressed tight together. I wasn't going to budge on this.
"You said other vampires..." Sam interjected and my gaze snapped up to him. "How many more were in the coven besides James and this guy?" he pointed a thumb at the pile of dust behind him.
I visibly relaxed, realizing who he meant. At first, I had thought he was referring to them, having figured out what they are.
"The one Lestat was talking about?" Dean confirmed.
I nodded at him, before shifting my attention to Sam.
"You said Demons and Spirits... What else is out there?" I asked.
"More than you could possibly imagine," Sam replied vaguely.
I sighed, wishing that one of them would give me a straight answer at least once. As it was, they were getting far more information out of me than I was from them.
"So what's the deal with Victoria?"
"She was James's mate," I shuddered, thinking about the crazed redhead. She had looked so wild the last time I saw her. "She...blames me for his death."
I didn't mention the whole 'mate-for-a-mate' speech Laurent had given me. I didn't want to have to explain my involvement with them.
"Huh. So the red headed bitch wants revenge."
I looked at Dean in surprise.
"How do you know what she looks like?" I narrowed my eyes.
Dean stuffed his hands in his pockets, seeming unperturbed by my suspicion.
"We've been hunting that crafty bitch since people started going missing in the town over."
A wave of guilt washed over me. While I had been moping about losing the love of my life, people were dying.
"How... How many people?" I asked quietly.
"Three or four. Maybe five. We're not too sure. Takes twenty-four hours for a missing person's report to go through," Dean shrugged.
"It's all my fault." I swallowed the bile that was threatening to climb up my throat.
"There's nothing you could've done," Sam tried to comfort me.
I didn't want his reassurances because no matter the reason for Victoria's murders, the fact remained that those people probably wouldn't have died if James had just killed me like he meant to. However, he was right about one thing. I was powerless to stop her.
One day, sometime soon, Victoria would come for me. I only hoped she did so sooner rather than later.