Disclaimer: Wasn't there. Didn't see me. Can't prove a thing.
::blink, blink:: oh, - the other kind of disclaimer: All things BtVS and UFO belong to lots of other people who got to have fun with them and make a profit. Dragon is having fun, but not making a profit. Dragon will put them all back in their cryo chambers just as soon as she's done. ::don't look at me that way. Dragon ducking claustrophobic SHADO commander::
Spoilers: Sort of. Minimal indication of BtVS Season 5 finale and relationship references. Spike/Harmony relationship references. Graduation references.
Synopsis: Even Straker can't resist a pretty face all the time. Alec is – annoyed.
He was aware of eyes on him. He scanned the room, a slight frown marring his pale face. The crowd was moving, restless. Contacts that could mean careers were being made all around him, yet he was aloof. He sipped his water and waited.
In a sea of pretty girls, she was feeling depressed. She knew she was beautiful, would always be beautiful, and yet - . She looked around the room for a likely victim – partner, she corrected herself. She was bordering on hungry, the angry beast hovering just below the surface. Well, she'd had enough experience in self control lately. She looked around again and spotted him. For just a moment, she wondered if he was an angel. He was pale, silver white hair worn just a touch long, his entire body encased in cream pale raw silk. She felt her mouth water and go dry all at once.
A couple moved between them. His gaze had moved on when she could see him again. She hoped her mouth was closed, because she had an uneasy feeling it had dropped open when she spotted him. She sized him up. Older. Elegant. Expensive. That suit had to be Armani, the way it just perfectly suited him. She was too young to remember the Nehru suits of her parents' youth, too brand conscious to think of a personal tailor. He moved with controlled passion. She could feel it radiating from him.
His eyes roved over the crowd again and met her pale gaze. Eyes like smoldering ice under fair brows met star struck blue. She walked across the room as though there was no one between them. The electricity between the two was such that people moved out of her way. She stopped about two feet away from him, her head cocked a little to one side as she regarded him.
It dawned on her that she was staring. Her eyes dropped, and a hesitant smile curved her full lips. "Sorry. I know, it's bad manners to stare."
"Is it?" His voice was like the rest of him, crisp, crystalline.
She chanced a look up at him again. Not that far up. He reminded her of Spike. He was only about six feet tall, slender built, yet she could feel the power in him. "Are you – an angel?"
The question was so left field, it took him aback a trifle. He was expecting starlet gush from this epitome of golden California girl, and he got "Are you an angel?". He smiled. "No, I'm not. I'm Ed Straker. And you are?"
"Harmony." She continued to keep her eyes on his face as though she couldn't get enough of it. Then she blinked and gave him an uncertain smile. "I'm sorry. You're just so – gorgeous."
That was a new ploy. He was used to people who wanted to use him, to further their careers, even to kill him; but this was the first time he'd met a woman who thought he was gorgeous. "Thank you. Just Harmony?"
"Uh – yeah. I mean, yes. Just Harmony."
"Lovely name for a lovely young lady."
She glowed at the compliment. It had been so long since anyone had told her she was lovely. "Thank you."
A part of Ed Straker's mind was sitting off at a distance wondering just what he thought he was doing. While the young woman's response to his mild compliment was gratifying, she was just another starlet, from the top of her golden haired head to the tips of her lacquered toe nails. Or was she? There was an odd innocence in those deep blue eyes that was lacking in most of the starlets he knew.
He fielded a glass of champagne from a passing waiter and handed it to her. She took it, tipped the glass up for a sip and kept her eyes on him as she did so. Was it his imagination or did she just wrinkle her nose at the champagne.
"You don't care for champagne?"
"Oh, no. I love it."
The first false note of their encounter. Now why would she lie about something that irrelevant? "You do?"
She looked wary for a moment, then grinned. "No, I don't. But everybody else does, so I pretend."
She looked like she couldn't quite believe he was asking that question. She sat on her immediate "Well, duh." Reaction. "Because – it's what's expected." She was beginning to look confused. Wasn't it expected?
"Well, you don't have to pretend with me. All right."
That got something that sounded like a cross between a giggle and a chuckle which was all together much more charming than it should have been. "All right. So, where do I ditch this?" She indicated the glass. He took it and set the glass on the table behind him. "So, what are you drinking?"
"Water, with a lemon twist."
"Euw." The sound popped out without conscious thought on her part. She looked dismayed. "Oh –"
"It's all right." God, she was young. So what was he finding so attractive about her? He wasn't certain, but the almost hero worship in her eyes didn't hurt. His ego was feeling nicely stroked. That she was a well put together armful of woman didn't hurt either.
Half an hour passed. Her gaze wasn't quite so worshipfully on his face, but she never strayed far from him either. Oddly, she felt protected near him. That was funny. He suggested that they find somewhere to eat. She agreed.
Eat. Yes. That was good. She fastened her deep blue eyes on his and suggested that she make them something. There was seduction in her voice. It should have set warning bells ringing in the back of his head. Perhaps it did. Still, he found himself looking around her small, spare apartment curiously. She displayed a strange taste in decorations, from a richly tinted Persian rug on the hardwood floor to a haphazard collection of stuffed animals jumbled in the far corner. The couch dominating the small living room was about middle of the road. It was richly plush covered, but a little worn in places. He sat down while she put on a kettle in the kitchen.
She walked back, determination in her stride. She was hungry and she would feed. She stradled his long legs, hitching up her clingy skirt and lowering herself suggestively onto his lap. Well, she hadn't lost her touch. She could feel his interest against her. She placed her hands on his shoulders, let her face shift from pretty Harmony to game faced vampire and smiled, her lips pulling back from her formidable fangs. He - smiled – at – her.
She'd started to lean in to savage his throat when she realized he wasn't showing any signs of fear. None at all. She sat back, her legs cool against his. She frowned. "Why aren't you afraid of me?" she demanded. Her hands still held his shoulders, her grip becoming a little painful.
"Should I be?" Somewhere in the back of his brain, a paranoid, claustrophobic part of him was running around screaming that he was in trouble. He ignored it. Instead, he traced the angles and planes of her feral face with his eyes. She was still lovely. Now he knew where the strength he'd sensed came from.
"I'm a vampire! Of course, you should be!" But her look was uncertain. He smiled at her. It was an infinitely sweet, patient smile. "Oh, don't -" The beast was gone, leaving a sad girl behind. She looked like she might just burst into tears.
He put his arms around her and pulled her down to him, burying his nose in her hair. Spice and musk with an under hint of flowers and charnel house. It was an odd combination, yet it pleased him. She lay against him, listening to the strong, sure beat of his heart.
"It's not fair," she muttered into the front of his jacket. It was soft against her cheek.
She leaned up to look into his eyes. He really wanted to know. "Any of it!" she spluttered. "And it's all Buffy's fault!" She flumped her head down against his chest again. The chuckle didn't infuriate her, although she thought it probably should have done.
"Why don't you tell me?"
She did. Oddly, he found her amusing instead of boring. Her tail of woe was one of selfish wants fueled by too much money and not enough attention. The underlying cry for someone to appreciate her was clear. Harmony had been second in the 'in crowd' at Sunnydale High until the leader of the group had fallen under the spell of 'Buffy Summers'. Then Harmony had stepped in, yet somehow this Buffy had managed to take the wind out of her sails, had turned triumph after triumph, on a somewhat shallow level, to nothing.
Finally, Harmony had agreed to help out taking out some strange horror at her high school graduation and had lucklessly fallen to a vampire that night. "I mean, of all the things to happen – "
"You make a lovely vampire."
He could feel her smile against his chest. "You mean that?"
She sat up and looked at him again. "I was working very hard to be an – evil vampire." He noted the slight hesitation where the word "good" tried to creep in. "I even had minions!" She sounded very proud of herself. "But it didn't work out. Buffy killed my minions and nearly killed me. Then I was going to work for Angel and Cordy, but that didn't work out either."
"Well –" she explained the scheme the vampiric motivational speaker had outlined. "It was a – really good idea – except –"
"You were supposed to be working for the good guys and not the bad guys."
"Yeah. I kinda fell down on that one. I was surprised when Cordy let me go."
"Well – I mean – I betrayed them," she said in a small voice. "The first challenge and – I went back to being bad Harmony."
"So why am I still here?"
"Huh?" For a moment he saw panic in her eyes.
He reached up a slender fingered hand and cupped her chin with it. His warmth sent delightful shivers through her. He pulled her face down to his and kissed her, gently, exploring. She pulled back for a moment, uncertainty in her face. Then she smiled, not the seductive vampire, just the happy young woman, leaned down and kissed him back. For a while, there was just the sound of two people getting to know each other quite well.
Some time later, Straker's stomach growled and let him know that he'd missed dinner, as well as lunch. Harmony giggled. "You're hungry."
"I know a place to get a bite at this hour." She slid out from under him, pulling her skirt and top into place with the ease of practice.
"Do you?" He sat up lazily, straightening his own shirt and wondering just where his jacket had gotten to. She picked it up off the rug and handed it to him.
"Yes. I do." She ran her fingers through her thick golden hair and turned to look at him curiously again. "We just didn't have sex." She sounded confused again.
"It used to be called necking."
She laughed at that. "Nyah, I, like, know a whole new way of doing that." Utter Valley Girl for a moment. Then her face smoothed and she watched him finish slipping into his jacket. "You've met another one, haven't you?"
"And you survived."
"And the vampire?"
Alec Freeman, having watched his commanding officer leave the studio party with a lovely young thing on his arm, was worried. He checked with security again.
"No, Colonel. We haven't heard from the Commander."
"Let me know when you do."
"Yes, sir." Keith Ford frowned at the console in front of him. That was the eighth time Freeman had checked on Straker in the past couple of hours. What the hell was up with that? He shook his head and went back to keeping an eye on the radar grids.
Ed Straker walked in at 6:30am the next morning looking none the worse for wear, completely infuriating his acting second in command who fumed silently as he briefed the Commander on the very dull evening he'd spent at SHADO HQ. Ed nodded as he took the report. He sat down at his desk and pulled a folder out of his in box. He was aware that his friend was "hovering". After a few moments, he looked up innocently and asked if there was anything else.
Alec made an exasperated noise.
Ed's grin caught him off guard.
"Dammit, Ed –"
"Is that any way to address your commanding officer?"
"It is when said commanding officer disappears for several hours with a young lady and doesn't ask for a security report on her immediately."
Straker leaned back in his chair. "Lock the door."
Alec complied, walked over to the bar and poured himself a large whisky and soda, he had a feeling he was going to need it. He sat down in the chair across the desk from Straker and waited.
"You remember Imp Harris's friend?"
Alec paled and took a long pull of his drink. "The one the aliens thought was you?"
"Yes." There was a certain grim satisfaction in those memories.
"I remember him. Difficult to forget. Any news on where they went?" The pale vampire and his dark haired companion had left town abruptly.
"No. Not yet. But I've found another one."
"Another- vampire?" Alec took another drink. Leave it to Ed to find one and come out of it alive. Again. "Wait – That little blonde?"
Ed nodded. "Her name is Harmony. I'm going to put her on payroll with the studio first."
"And you'll explain it to the insurance when we start losing people?"
Ed grinned at him. "I don't think I'll have to do so."
"All, right, when the poodles start disappearing."
That got a laugh. "I doubt it. I think bottled will be fine for her. She's – young."
"As a vampire," came the dry response.
"Ah. I thought that made them more difficult."
Ed shrugged his shoulders. "Whatever it's supposed to make them, she is quite tractable. And I think she can be useful."
Ed Straker briefly outlined the idea he'd gotten when the last vampire had intruded on SHADO, saving Ed's life, among other things. Alec drained his glass and swore.
"Jackson's drugs don't work. We never have a live alien long enough to do any modifications of the drug and test it. He said that controlling a human who hasn't been drained was something that could be done."
"And he said that most of them didn't fool around with it because it took a lot of time and effort."
"And he had obligations. But Harmony doesn't. Go ahead and have her checked out. The probability is that she'll be listed as missing or dead."
"You think we can trust her?"
Ed looked distant for a moment. "I think I can."
Security came back with a confusing report on Harmony. The only daughter of two of Sunnydale's socialite circle, she'd disappeared the night of her High School graduation. Her parents seemed to think she'd gone to school in Los Angeles, or maybe New York. Their uncertainty about their daughter's whereabouts didn't seem to concern them. Alec wasn't the only one who found the whole thing creepy. The one thing that did surface were her grades. For all she and Cordelia Chase had spent their time acting fluffy headed and shallow, both had carried excellent grades. Harmony's SAT scores were off, but one test does not an intellect make or break.
Alec took the folder to Straker who looked pleased. He called Harmony while he was looking over the file in depth.
The voice that answered him sounded sleepy. "H'lo?"
"Eddie – I mean, Ed – " the pleasure in her voice was unmistakable, even if the diminutive of his name grated a little. "Hi. I – I was asleep."
"Thought you might be. How would you like a job?"
Harmony lay there for a few moments in silence. "A – job?" The concept was almost as foreign to her human days as it was to her vampire ones. "I – Ed, I don't have any experience."
"That's all right. It's nothing too strenuous. Mostly you have to wear nice clothes and look pretty."
Harmony frowned. "That's it?" she asked suspiciously.
"And make friends of mine jealous."
"Am I going to be your mistress?"
Wow, harsh. "O – K. Where?"
"At the studio. At night. Sometimes people – stray from where they're supposed to be. A pretty girl isn't particularly frightening for those who just get lost."
"And for those who don't 'just get lost'," she followed his thinking with a feral smile. Bad boys tasted so good anyway. "When do I start?"
"Tomorrow night. I thought we'd go shopping tonight, if nothing comes up."
Alec regarded the pale man as though he thought he'd run just slightly madder than your average hatter. "You're putting an air head on as security."
"Not your average air head." He regarded Alec steadily. "After all, she didn't do anything to me, and I was at her mercy."
/ And not the least afraid of her, either, / Alec thought. / Why does that make me uneasy? /
Alec was introduced to Harmony the next evening. The young woman was such an odd combination of tough cynic and puppy dog that he almost laughed. He could actually see the attraction she had for Ed. She was quite capable of surviving anything on her own, yet she was almost pathetically pleased with any kind word he dropped on her. Watching them together, he realized that they were good for each other. She understood secrets and how to keep them, she didn't really need to hang on his arm and be the center of his attention, yet when she was, she glowed. Being given leave to prowl anywhere she liked, within reason, through the sound stages and other areas of the studio almost made her squeal with delight.
"Anywhere? Uhm – if I recognize someone is it cool to ask for an autograph?"
"Ask, but don't force."
"OK. And I keep an eye out for anyone who looks – like – suspicious."
"Out of place."
"I can do that. What do I do if I find someone?"
"OK." She beamed at the two men, her smile especially warm for Straker and started her new job. After the first night, she settled on slightly less height in the heel department. Other than that, security was a breeze.
Most of the people she found in places they weren't supposed to be had very good reasons – usually the best of all, left or right turns taken in the wrong order. Harmony usually sweetly straightened out the mess by walking them to the place they were supposed to go. A few tried to put the moves on the pretty girl and discovered that she both a short fuse and the ear of the head man. She'd been on duty three months when she finally met a real problem
"Excuse me, but aren't you just a little off the beaten track?
The somewhat tough looking character turned to face her, a gun in his hand. "Well, well. You could be useful."
For just a moment, Harmony's eyes widened in instinctive fear. Then it occurred to her that unless he had wooden bullets, she was in the clear. She let her frozen smile perk up. She laughed delightedly and clapped her hands. "Oh, that was wonderful. Did I walk into a scene again? No one told me they were shooting here tonight. I am sooo sorry," she feigned looking around for cameras and personnel. Nothing. She turned those baby blues on the disconcerted thug. "Oh – you're rehearsing! Are you sure you want to rehearse here? I mean, it's so isolated. And there's all this stuff you could trip over."
She suited action to words, apparently turning her ankle and falling to the ground. Well, he was no gentleman. Eddie would have caught her, even if he did know that she wouldn't really hurt herself doing this. The man reached down, grabbed a handful of her soft golden hair and yanked her to her feet.
Slender fingered hands settled on his wrist with a crunch like a vise grip clamping down. Bones snapped as he released his grip on her hair. His mouth o'd silently in surprise and pain. She flipped her hair back out of her face. Face. Oh God! Panic pulled the trigger of his gun. The bullets stung like angry wasps as they passed through her body.
She reached out and took the gun away from him. "I don't like guns. You're nasty," she growled with a grin.
Teeth. Too many teeth. Way too many teeth. Sharp, pointy, rip your throat out teeth.
"Problem?" A smooth male voice asked.
The face was the pretty girl again. She looked around and smiled sweetly at Paul Foster. "I think he's lost. Badly." She handed the dark haired man the gun. She released the wrist with the broken bits as soon as one of the real security bunch got their hands on the man. "I don't think he likes me," she said in a plaintive voice, then grinned. "How's your night going?"
"Quiet. Just the way we like it."
She laughed and nodded. "I'm going on break now. Back in fifteen."
She dashed through the corridors at vampire speed to stop, breathless at Straker's door. She tapped at the door, opened it and peeked in. Ed was sitting at the desk reading a report. He looked up, scowling. She smiled at him. "Just stopped by to break up the monotony. Say hi. Wonder what you were doing for breakfast."
Pout. "I know that." Continued pout. No effect. She sighed and smiled at him. "Well, you know where to find me when you're not. And Alec says you should eat more often. Bye." She closed the door on the parting shot. She had discovered that "Alec says" tended to have effects. Not always the one desired, but it was fun to watch.
Alec and Foster checked in a few minutes later. The thug was being close mouthed, but he was sweating. Something about his encounter with Harmony had put the wind up. Alec hid his grin well as Foster extolled Harmony's abilities to the Commander. He still didn't trust the trollop, but she was doing what Ed wanted and that was all that counted.
Ed joined her for breakfast at her flat. He let himself in and was surprised to smell bacon. Harmony was in the efficiency kitchen. She looked around at him and smiled. "Hi. Bacon, eggs and toast. I'm not very good at cooking, but I loved bacon and eggs so much I learned how to cook them so I didn't have to bother anyone when I wanted them at mid morning."
She stopped and thought about that for a moment. "It was, wasn't it." The thought seemed to disturb her. "Don't tell anyone."
'All right, I won't," he agreed with a laugh. He wondered if that was what kept him coming back to her, his inability to predict what she'd say or do next. He sat down at the tiny breakfast table she'd added. The eggs were scrambled, the bacon was perfect and the toast was lightly buttered. Coffee was added, light and sweet, just the way he liked it. He found himself watching her as she straightened up the kitchen, microwaved a blood bag warm and poured the contents into an elegant glass so she could join him at the table. Sometimes he wondered why the knowledge of what was in her glass didn't bother him as he ate.
"You're staring again," he advised as he washed down a bite of toast with coffee.
"I'm sorry. I just – You really are unbelievably good looking. Actually, you look a lot like Spike."
His hand froze halfway between plate and mouth. He took the bite and then met her bland gaze. He wiped his mouth, took a drink and met that gaze again. "Spike?"
She suddenly looked guilty. "Uhm – I didn't mention Spikey? Well, no. I – I hate Spike." Except her delivery of the words didn't sound like she hated him. They sounded more like she didn't understand something.
"Tell me about Spike."
A shiver ran down her spine. She hadn't heard that tone before. Not from Eddie. Ed. She looked uncertain, set her glass down and told. "I met him after the fight with the – Mayor. I mean, I was a vampire, he was a vampire, he hated the Slayer, it made sense. Sort of." She thought for a moment, remembering Spike taking her in but treating her as though he thought she was an idiot. He never took her to Paris. He staked her and then wanted the ring that kept her from crumbling to dust. He'd dissed her in every manner possible, including falling for the Slayer. That hurt. His nutcase maker and the Slayer had his heart, she never had. She blinked back tears.
"He took me in. I thought he – cared –" Sniffle. "I wanted to go to Paris. And he wanted the Slayer. First he wanted to kill her. Then he wanted to – be with her." She couldn't meet Ed's eyes. Now he'd be disgusted with her just like Spike. "He was in love with the Slayer. Wasn't that a laugh."
"He should have been more honest with you."
She blinked. She met his cool gaze. "Yeah. He should have. But - He killed two Slayers – before – Buffy."
"Buffy, again." His smile invited her to share the foolishness of Spike's involvement.
She smiled suddenly. "Yeah. Buffy. Again. She's just – everywhere in Sunnydale."
He realized that she'd left Sunnydale before the events that had catapulted Spike and Dawn into his life. For a moment he considered easing her mind. Then he thought better of it. Spike and Sunnydale were in her past. He'd leave them that way. "Sounds like you're better off without him."
She straightened in her chair. "Yeah. I am. I'm in London. I'm closer to Paris –"
"Would you like to go to Paris?" Silence. She was staring at him much in the manner of one who couldn't believe what she'd just heard. "Would you like to go to Paris?" he repeated softly.
Her mouth made an O. He suspected sound would emerge eventually, but he seemed to have struck her speechless for the moment. She nodded, vehemently. She finished off the contents of her glass and then sat there grinning. He finished his meal.
She watched him for a moment. "Why?"
"Because you'd like to go and I haven't been away from the studio except on business in – years."
For just a moment, her eyes flickered with something. She smiled again. "Do I get to go shopping?" she asked slyly.
"I wouldn't dare take a woman to Paris and deny her shopping." Where the hell was his brain? He was voluntarily talking about taking time off to go someplace not connected with SHADO or the studio and take a woman shopping, of all things. What was he thinking? Yet the pale blush of pleasure on Harmony's cheeks was enough to assure him it was the correct thing to do. He suspected that Harmony had not been the happiest of teens, regardless of her ambitions and their fulfillment. Under the studied callous surface, there was a tender heart, a heart that couldn't kill an old friend when she was hungry, a heart that knew right from wrong, and a heart he was beginning to wonder if he could win.
Harmony spent the day packing and unpacking while her boss caught some sleep time. She finally decided on one outfit to wear, one of the ones he'd bought her, and that getting some down time was a good idea. She lay down, closed her eyes and became still as death. As a rule, vampires weren't known to dream. Harmony considered herself no exception. So she never mentioned the occasional nightmares she experienced, or the occasional dreams.
Harmony came bolt up right about sundown, a feeling of panic coursing through her. She grabbed the phone and called Alec.
"Where's Ed – Mr. Straker," she corrected herself breathlessly.
"He's not due in for half an hour. What's wrong?"
"Uhm – ah – nothing." She cut the line and sat frowning in the darkness. There was something wrong somewhere, she just didn't know where. Or what. She dialed Straker's home number and hung up before it could ring. There was no point to annoying him with her foolishness. That's all it was, a dream. A very – scary – dream.
She got up, showered swiftly and dressed for work. She suddenly wished she'd gotten a better place, closer to the studio. But it was hard to find a place at night in the suburbs. She exceeded the speed limit radically getting to work. She parked her little car, patted it fondly and walked into the studio offices. Alec Freeman was in the lobby talking to a trim, dark haired man with a longish face. Harmony frowned for a moment. Ford. That was it, Keith Ford. He did something on the TV/radio side of things.
Remembering her manners, she waited until Ford walked away before she approached Alec. "Uh – Mr. Freeman?" Oh, god. Those eyes. This man hated her, she just knew it. "Is – uhm – I mean – He's notinyetishe?" Her words came out in a rush.
Alec regarded her for a moment. He wanted to distrust this woman, yet the concern in her eyes, in the tension in her body, was real. "No. But he's only a few minutes late -"
She was shaking her head. "No. Something's wrong. Something is really wrong. Call him. He was coming straight in from his house?"
"Yes." Alec's voice was calm. Internally, he was anything but calm. He'd seen what the other vampire could do. And the other one had been able to sense things where Ed was concerned as well. Damn. He gave her the reverse directions to Ed's place and told himself he'd administer the amnesia drug to her himself if Ed was annoyed at him. "Get going."
He tried very hard not to drop his jaw. The door was swinging shut as the final syllables left his mouth. Damn, she moved like the wind.
While Alec was calling Ed's house and his car phone, Harmony was in her car and again exceeding the set speed limit. There was a very cold something with big icy wings in the vicinity of where her heart used to beat. For the first time in her life, she was afraid for someone else. She didn't know why, but she didn't want Ed to leave her – She laughed wildly. Like he was hers to begin with – what an idiot she was. She drove on.
About half way between Straker's house and the studio she heard something. That was a funny noise. It seemed to be over the trees. A few seconds later, she found a huge pot hole in the road and only her vampire reflexes kept her on the road. Straker's car was a few yards further on, parked with its nose buried against the trunk of an ancient oak.
She slammed on the brakes, nearly spinning the car and was out the door almost before it stopped moving. The car was empty. Her face shifted to the angles and planes of the vampire. Her eyes were softly golden gleaming in the darkness. She sniffed. Blood. She could smell blood. He was hurt. She popped the door on his car. Sniff. The steering wheel. He'd probably hit his head. Which way? Which way? She cast about for the scent and found it heading off into the woods. Why didn't he just stay with the car?
That sound again. She snarled soundlessly. Something about that sound set her teeth on edge, her spine vibrating. She wanted to kill whatever was generating that sound. She moved with the silence of a practiced hunter through the trees. She could smell more than blood now, she smelled fear. He was afraid. The thought sent a frisson of pleasure through her. But wait, he wasn't running from her. He wasn't afraid of her. What was he afraid of?
A clearing opened up before her. No. Not a clearing. Farmland. So close to London? This was a really weird country. She could scent others now. Strange, rubber and metal smells. There were four of them. Two were heading north. Two were just standing around. The smell of blood, his blood, was there. It was rich, inviting. Her eyes flicked to the moving pair. They were carrying someone between them. A pale head fell back. They lost their grip on the dead weight, stumbling and dropping their burden.
"ED!" The cry was one of ferocity and anger. Harmony moved swiftly. The two aliens with their backs to her only knew that they were dieing. They never saw the golden beast that dove between them, her clawed hands raking across the backs of their necks, shredding their suits, cracking their necks.
The other two turned to face her. One raised his gun and fired. Her lips stretched back from her fangs in laughter as the bullets passed through her flesh. It stung, but it wouldn't stop her. She was on the shooter, rending and tearing his suit, his flesh, teeth sinking into his shoulder, drinking his blood. God, it tasted horrid. She stood up, spitting the foul taste out of her mouth, wiping her lips with the back of her hand. She turned to the other one and smiled.
He backed away. If a face with white eyes swimming in green liquid could look terrified, the alien did so. Whatever this thing was that looked like a human female, it had just killed three of his people with its bare hands. He turned to run, knowing it was futile. He felt the airhose snap apart. Green liquid spewed out under pressure, soaking her shirt. Harmony backed away, spitting the stuff out of her mouth and getting out of the way of the stream of green stuff that came out.
"Euw! Gross! God that stuff tastes worse than demon blood! Euw!"
She looked down. Horrid tastes and weird people in rubber suits were immediately forgotten. He was lying face down in the long grass. He pushed himself up onto hands and knees and fell over at her feet.
She fell to her knees beside him, her hands wanting desperately to reach out, to touch him, but the damage was bad. She knew medical wouldn't want her to move him, not even to hold him until the ambulance came. Where were they, dammit? Where was Alec? Where were all those mortals who were supposed to care about him? He needed them, now.
His eyelids moved slightly. They felt heavy, so heavy. Breathing was hard. He gurgled. That was a bad sign. Moonlight on gold. Harmony. He tried to reach out to her. He couldn't seem to move his arms. He tried to talk, choking on his own blood. Dammit, no! He wasn't going out! Not this way.
"Harmony!" The word was hardly more than a movement of his lips. But she heard.
"Eddie – it's ok. They're coming. Honest." She tried to reassure him, but she could see in his eyes that he knew better. Her face crumpled slightly, tears gathering in her eyes, falling unheeded. "Eddie - don't die. Please, don't die," she whispered through her tears, finally taking his hand in hers.
"Don't let me go."
It took two tries to get the next words through. "I love you. Join -" He stopped, choking again. The sent of blood was almost overwhelming for her.
Then it clicked. Blood. His blood. She locked her eyes on the gaping wound in his chest. She looked at it, then at his eyes and back. "You – I've never made another vampire," she warned him. "I may not be able to –"
Her face changed, the feral beast, the demon that hid, surfaced. Her mouth watered at the scent of his blood. She buried her face in his wound. He arched up to the contact. At first it was agony, it burned, then the pain faded and he knew he was losing consciousness, yet he felt euphoric, aroused. He wanted Harmony in his arms, wanted her with him, wanted – wanted – conscious thought faded.
"Drink. Dammit, drink."
Cool fluid on his lips. He wasn't thirsty. He was – he was - he licked his lips to moisten them, to – to – salt. Iron. The tang of her blood in his mouth was ambrosia. He wanted more. It came to him in drips. He swallowed, tasting every thing of her in his mouth. He sighed in contentment and let go.
The SHADO Mobiles converged on the spot where the spinner had found the Commander. They found two downed spinners, four dead aliens and blood; lots of blood. They did not find Harmony and the Commander.
Alec Freeman stormed into Harmony's apartment. Empty. He checked Ed's house. Empty. He ran his hands through his hair, leaving it in considerable disarray. He stalked into headquarters half expecting to see Ed behind his desk looking up at him curiously. Empty.
For three days, SHADO ran with Foster and Freeman taking turns keeping things running. Alec awoke from a nightmare in which a pale haired figure kept turning corners just ahead of him. Sometimes the figure looked like the commander, some times it looked like a feral evil twin, always it was just out of reach. He fumbled for the phone and managed not to drop it.
Alec Freeman sat bolt upright in bed. "Ed. Where the fuck are you!"
The Australian took a deep breath, sat on his natural reactions and tried again. "Are you all right?"
The blood froze up in Alec's veins. That bitch. That bloody vampire bitch. He knew they couldn't trust her. "Where are you?"
Alec froze in the act of getting out of bed.
"With Harmony where?" he asked carefully.
"Eddie, let me have the phone, please," he heard Harmony's voice softly. "Please?" The phone changed hands. "Alec, uhm – we're heading for Ed's house in about half an hour. Could you – um – meet us there? Please?"
"What the hell have you done?" he demanded, keeping his voice down.
"What he told me to do. It'll be OK – I think. Just meet us there. He's – He's kinda reacting to being – not human any more. I think he needs you – to like – remind him?"
"I'll be there."
He cut the connection and just sat for a moment. Of all the things he had anticipated, this was not one of them. Harmony asking him for help with Ed. Oh Hell. Oh Bloody Hell.