Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy or any of the characters. They belong to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. Underworld belongs to it's creators.
As I looked back across the centuries, all I could bear witness to was a life filled with bloodshed and war. For years upon years, the Death Dealers had existed solely to hunt down and destroy the Lycans, and I was no different. I existed solely to deal out the vengeance that was reserved amongst the vampires for their kind. There was nothing in my life except that purpose, and I was good at it. I didn't know it, but change was on the mere fringes of the horizon, just waiting for me to walk into its grasp…waiting for me to fall in love with the thing I had hunted for so long...
As the rain continued to pour down around her, Willow looked down at the sparse crowd walking around the sidewalk below her perch atop the balcony. The guns resting close to her hips were a silent reminder of why she was here. For weeks, she had been 'observing' one of the potential Lycans that she had discovered on her last encounter with the 'animals'. They were hunting this girl, and more than ever, the red-headed vampire wanted to know why.
Pressing the view-finder against her rain-drenched face, the vampire almost felt a smile tug at the edges of her lips as she saw the familiar face fill her vision. Some part of her wanted to allow the thoughts and words that made the girl's beauty take center-stage in her imagination, but she forced herself to swallow down those thoughts. For a thousand upon thousands of years, she had walked the Earth alone, and that wouldn't be changing any time soon.
And yet…she couldn't deny that the girl was indeed beautiful. The way her blonde hair flowed with ease down her shoulders. The way the blue color of her eyes forced the vampire to stare at them. The way that with a single, but simple sway of her hips that any thoughts in her mind would disappear entirely. Anya had jokingly talked about the 'hilarious' situation that one of the most ruthless and focused Death Dealers was falling in love with a human, and had gone on to suggest the numerous ways that she could 'adopt' the girl as a pet.
Her green irises still following the human's path, Willow's mind instantly went on alert as she felt the sudden shift in the air of the plaza below her. Shifting the finder's focus to the crowd behind the girl, she growled as she caught sight of two Lycans following the girl through the crowd. Somewhat surprised at her own violent response, the red-headed vampire shoved the view finder into the pocket of her leather trench coat and closed her green eyes as she jumped down from the balcony itself. As she felt the ground make contact with her feet, she immediately started towards the underground subway entrance that both the girl and the Lycans had made their way into.
As soon as she felt the rain cease its endless assault against her now completely soaking wet red tresses, the vampire could almost feel the amount of intimidation that was pouring off of the few people that were around her. With each of the humans making way for her silently as she walked past them, Willow focused solely on finding where the human girl had run off to. If the Lycans that were after her were as committed as the last group had been, there was going to be blood, and nothing could prevent it. She had tried her best to avoid exposing the human to any unnecessary danger, but considering the current situation that had presented and forced itself onto all of them, there was nothing she could do now to prevent it.
She was close now, she could sense the heart-beat that she had watched over for weeks now. The heart-beats were calm and relaxed, assuring the vampire that the Lycans hadn't reached her human yet…
My human? As the thought ran amok through her brain, Willow almost stopped in order to baffle at her own thoughts, but continued on through the underground pathway. She was even closer to the human, so close that she could almost smell the scent of the girl's hair. Even as her mind begged her to revel in its scent, her senses forced her back to reality as the unmistakable scent of Lycans flowed into her nostrils and set her vamperic senses into a barely controllable rage.
As she cleared the last step and found herself on the landing ramp of a subway, the vampire silently scanned the crowd, clenching and unclenching her fists time and time again as she saw no sign of the human or the two Lycans. Again, as thoughts of the human being harmed or even so much as touched by Lycans ran through her mind, Willow growled, although she kept the sound low enough in volume that no-one could hear her. She knew that showing her true state to a large crowd wouldn't be the wisest thing to do, for neither herself, the Coven, nor the girl.
Finally, as a small group stepped away with laughter and happiness on their tongues, she caught sight of a head of wet blonde hair, and underneath it's drenched locks, the same pair of blue eyes that had captivated her so many times from afar. Looking back for a single moment as if she felt like she was being watched, the human and the vampire locked eyes with one another. Inside her, Willow felt something akin to a spark flow through her cold skin, leaving no part of her body untouched by the sensation. For a moment, the vampire actually felt like shaking before she once again caught the scent of the Lycans within the immediate area around her.
Taking a step forward, she stopped as the scent of the Lycans grew so strong that she thought she might pass out from the sheer intensity of it. Turning her head in an attempt to spot the two that she had seen come in, Willow felt something lay it's hand on her shoulder.
"And so, the elusive Death Dealer finally decides to show her face."
As she looked away from the loud crowd, Tara Maclay Corvin sighed, not knowing why she had even looked into the people that surrounded her. Pushing a few strands of her soaked blonde hair behind her ears, she wished that she had brought her hoodie instead of only hoping that the storm clouds would part and allow the sun to regain control of the sky. She hadn't been that lucky, and as a result, she was standing in the subway still dressed in her almost completely rain soaked scrubs. More than ever, she simply wanted to go home and sleep the world away, to let the world slip away as she curled up underneath the warm sheets of her bed, to let the warm, rejuvenating waters of a hot shower wash over her cold body and banish away the cold that had been inflicted on her.
Leaning back against the support beam that lay directly behind her, she closed her blue eyes and sighed once more, not knowing how else to deal with what she was feeling. Moving out to the city on her own was supposed to have made things easier, and yet here she was, still living in roughly the same condition that she had been in for almost her entire life. At least her in New York, her family didn't stand a chance of finding her. Not in a place where so many people came to run away from things that they had no other way out of.
She had been here for almost a year now, working her way up through the ranks of the internship she had been offered at the local hospital. It was a thankless existence, and often times she worked hours that she wouldn't even have nightmares about doing, but she pushed on, knowing that every minute she logged put her above the rest of her competition. More than ever, she wanted the job that she had set out to get. One way or another, she wasn't going back to her family. She was going to make sure of that.
Opening her blue eyes, she found a pair of eyes staring at her from a few feet away, the man's entire expression showing nothing but hatred towards her. Furrowing her brow as she looked around her to see if there was someone else around her that was drawing the man's hate, she found no-one, and her heart-dropped to the very pits of her stomach. The man was looking directly at her, for what reason, she had no clue. But from the amount of anger he was showing, she had a bad feeling that it wasn't good.
"Miss Corvin?" Turning her head as she heard someone ask for her by name, Tara swallowed hard as she found herself looking up at someone who was nearly twice her size. "We've been looking for you."
"W-W-W-What for?" Stuttering out an answer that showed the pure amount of fear beginning to flow through her system, the intern pressed herself fully against the beam behind her. She was almost seemingly able to sense the intent the man had for her, and it was neither good, nor peaceful.
"You should come with us, we'll explain everything if we're away from…the public's eye…" The man answered, not bothering to turn his head as his companion joined him at his side. "After all, it's a private matter, and you wouldn't want anyone else to know about your private life, wouldn't you?"
There was something in the man's tone that continued to inspire nothing but dread in Tara's heart as she looked up at his face, her blue irises absorbing the way the smile on his face seemed to spew venom. Her blue irises searching for any route of escape that she could manage, the intern closed her eyes as she attempted to calm her breathing. Having a heart-attack was no way to get out of this, considering that they could simply carry her if they wanted her that bad, and something told her that they did. Whatever it was that they wanted from her, they were willing to take it by any means necessary. Opening her eyes, she forced herself to breathe as she continued to look for a way to escape.
And that was when the first shots rang out through the subway.
"Warren. I didn't still realize you were still alive, otherwise I would have started hunting you again." Already recognizing the voice that the hand belonged to, Willow's hand twitched as it started to drift towards one of her guns. "You've got guts showing yourself to me."
"As do you for thinking that your eliminations of my Pack would go unnoticed. You've gotten sloppy." Increasing the strength of his grip on the vampire's shoulder, Warren smiled as he saw the way the red-head froze for a moment. "Now, now, no need to bring out the guns. Especially when you've got so many innocent people standing around. Wouldn't want them to get caught in the cross-fire when the fight goes down..."
"Should have known. That's always how you've liked things, isn't it, Warren? Bloody and countless innocents slaughtered?" Growling out her answer, Willow nevertheless moved her hand away from the holster at her side, despite the itching in her trigger finger. "Just like you."
"Oh, come now, Willow. Even you know that you enjoy seeing that blood being spilled." Taking a step closer to the vampire, the Lycan was only inches away from the red-head's ear. "It just makes you want to forget those rules you and your little Death Dealers follow, and drink from them."
"You've played this game before, Warren, and it didn't work the last time. What could possibly make you think it would work now?"
"Time. It changes a person, and even beings like us are not immune to that." Moving away from the vampire, Warren came to a stop directly in front of the red-head. Almost laughing when he saw the amount of anger that the pair of green eyes held, the Lycan's smile seemingly mocked the red-head. "As I'm sure you're aware of. We all know how much it hurt to lose any sort of 'friends' that you ever even thought you had. But of course, we all know the truth of that matter."
"Warren-" Starting to speak, Willow growled at the man in front of her. "What are you doing here?"
"Cutting straight to the heart of the matter? Alright then, we can do that. Should have known you weren't one for the entire exposition. " Rolling his eyes at hearing the vampire's angry retort, the Lycan turned away for a slight moment, during which he tossed off his trench-coat. "You never were."
"That's just how I am." Her hand resting directly on the grip of the pistol, the red-headed vampire cast her eyes' gaze on where the human girl was standing, and felt more anger boil up inside her as she saw the two Lycans surrounding her.
"Something the matter, Willow? Figured you would have pulled that pistol by now, seeming as you're so fond of them."
"Let the girl go, Warren. She has no part in this." Her voice having returned to its growling sound, the red-headed vampire pulled the weapon out of its holster, although she kept it at her side, its barrel aimed at the ground. "Don't bring an innocent civilian into this private little match."
"It's more than that now, and you should know that." Scuffing at the vampire's attempt to defuse the situation, the Lycan paying no attention to the drawn weapon that was only moments away from being pointed at him. "Surely you can sense it as well as I can. She's important, to both of us."
"Something tells me your definition of important is different from mine." Finally lifting the gun and leveling it at the man's head, Willow felt her finger's grip on the weapon's trigger tighten, but yet she didn't pull it completely. "Explain to me what she could possibly mean to you."
"Ah, but that would be telling now, wouldn't it?" As a smile came to his lips, Warren seemingly knew heard and saw the vampire's grip tighten on her weapon. "And that would give away the entire secret. This early in the game? That's not something either of us would have fun with."
"This isn't going to turn into one of your games, Warren." Taking a step forward, Willow pushed her weapon directly into the Lycan's forehead, although she still refused to pull the trigger. "Tell me."
"All in good time, Willow, besides…" Her attention focused solely on what Warren was saying to her, the red-headed vampire heard a distinct click behind her head, causing her eyes to widen slightly. "It looks like we're at a stand-off right now."
"Tell him to put the gun down or I blow your head off right now." Her weapon still trained at the Lycan standing before her, Willow felt the weapon behind her dig into her neck slightly. "Now."
"I believe that neither of us are in any position to negotiate. What we want is equally simple. I want the girl, and you want her as well. Can't we just share?"
"Tell. Him. To. Drop. The. Gun." Only barely managing to saw the order through her gritted teeth, Willow wanted desperately to look over at where the human woman would still be standing, but knew that distracting herself for even a single moment would give Warren the upper hand he no doubt wanted.
"We're not going to reach an understanding." Sighing, Warren turned away from the vampire and his minion before snapping his fingers. "Get rid of her. Something we should have done a long time ago."
Her vampire senses already having been heightened to their peak, at least as far as they could go without her giving in completely to her vamperic nature, Willow could almost feel the Lycan pulling the trigger before she turned, ducked, and brought up her own weapon up to the werewolf's chest, and pulled the trigger. Her finger seemingly moving on its own accord, the red-head fired the weapon until there wasn't a single bullet left in the clip. Looking across the now scattering crowd, Willow could only think of doing one thing.
She had to find the human girl, and she had to find her now.
As she ran, Tara could feel her heart beating faster than she ever would have thought possible. Continuing to pump her legs for all the speed that they could give, she scaled the stairs, wanting nothing more than to feel safe once again. Behind her, the shots continued to ring out at a rapid pace, the sere volume of them almost deafening. Casting her eyes' gaze over her shoulder, she felt her heart stop dead in her chest as she saw one of them that had surrounded her earlier leaping at her. Her legs stopping short, the human fell to her knees as waves of pain shot through her body in response. Closing her eyes as she cowered on the ground, she waited for the unavoidable impact of the man's body slamming into her body.
Pushing every inch of her strength into her legs, Willow pounced on the Lycan in mid-air, the amount of momentum contained in her body redirecting the two of them into a nearby wall. Finally allowing all of her anger to boil to the surface and flood her senses, the vampire felt her teeth elongate in her mouth, and knew without a doubt that the normal green color in her eyes had given way to a cold and icy dark blue. Her hand flying towards the other pistol holstered at her hips, she pulled the weapon out and trained it on the Lycan. Not sparing a single second, she pulled the trigger, repressing a smile as she saw the Lycan fall still and silent. Closing her eyes in order to face the change away from her features, Willow turned and saw the human girl still cowering on the floor where she had fallen, her beautiful eyes hidden away from the world. Shoving the pistol back into its holster, the red-headed vampire felt her body actually tingling from being so close to the beauty that she watched from afar for so long now.
"You're not safe here." Saying the words in a tone that was very much not her own, the vampire felt any thoughts in her brain evaporate as the human opened her eyes and stared at her. They were directly in front of her, the most beautiful blue irises that she had ever seen in the centuries that she had lived and hunted. Unable to stop herself, the word 'beautiful' slipped from her lips.
"W-W-What?" Staring up at the girl now standing over her, Tara couldn't help but feel flabbergasted at the completely leather-attired red-head standing beside her, holding out her hand in order to help her up. Cautiously taking the offered hand, she felt another unbearable wave of pain swarm through her leg. Seeing and hearing the girl's pain accompanied by a hiss, Willow frowned.
"I j-just l-landed on m-m-my leg wrong, that's all…" Shaking her head, Tara noticed for the first time the powerful pair of green eyes that lay underneath the girl's rain soaked red hair. Just looking into them made her want to swoon in their gaze, and the only thing keeping her from doing so was the fact that more gunshots had begun to erupt from inside the subway platform. As she heard them, the medical intern looked up just in time to see one of the bullets slam into the girl at her side, the impact of the round making a sickening splat. Stumbling for a moment, the red-head's eyes flashed blue for a moment before they returned to their natural green color. Her thoughts scattering as she felt the girl pushing her into the relative safe cover of a nearby wall, she heard the red-head hiss.
"Let me look at it, I'm a medical intern!" Managing to say the sentence without stuttering, Tara reached out in order to peel away some of the leather clothing surrounding the wound. Her blue eyes had witnessed only a single moment of the wound before a pair of cold fingers took hold of her hands and forced them away, although the touch behind them was gentle.
"I'm fine. Do you have a car?" Keeping her eyes closed even as she felt the pain from the wound shooting through her veins, Willow simply placed her hand over the wound in an attempt to cover it.
"N-N-No…" Shaking her head, Tara saw the red-head move her hand away from the wound and take hold of her own hand, the skin cold to the touch. Her mind still awash in the confusion surrounding the scene erupting around her, she remembered running as both she and the other girl charged up the stairs at a rapid pace that took them less time it normally should have. As the heavy rain once again began its onslaught against her body, Tara hissed again as she felt a particularly heavy drop land on her injured leg.
"W-Where are w-w-we going?" Managing to ask the question despite her stutter and lack of breath, the human continued to keep pace with the other girl as they ran through the rain drenched streets. With each and every step, her heart beat continued to increase, a product of the adrenaline and fear coursing through her tired veins.
"Somewhere safe, keep running." Not even looking at the human for fear of losing sight of what was going on around her, the red-headed vampire kept running, her hand maintaining its firm but gentle grip on the girl's own limb.
"Running away, Willow?" Turning around as she heard Warren's voice, Willow felt her eyes widen as the unmistakable sound of a gun being fired shattered the air around her, the shot being followed by a splat. Looking behind her, the vampire felt every single shred of rage inside her boil to new heights as she felt Tara's body going somewhat limp as a dark red stain began to appear in the shoulder of her scrubs. A whimper escaping her lips as the pain of the wound fully began to spread out through her senses, Tara closed her eyes tightly and tried to breathe despite the massive amount of pain she felt.
"Warren…" Reaching into her leather jacket and pulling one of her pistols out in one swift motion, the red-headed vampire managed to level it at the Lycan and first off a few shots before he disappeared from view back into the subway. Part of her mind wanting to give chase to the almost ancient being, the red-headed vampire forced her mind to focus on the human girl almost completely holding onto her due to the amount of pain circulating through her.
"I'm f-f-fine, I'm fine…" Shaking her head as she tried to avoid biting down on her tongue, Tara could feel her feet leaving the ground as the vampire picked her up. "R-R-Really…."
"No you're not. Keep quiet, talking will only make you tired." Cradling the human's golden-haired head close to her chest, Willow looked around at the very sparsely populated streets, the sound of police sirens already present in the immediate area around her. Ducking into a nearby alleyway, she almost found her sighing in relief as she found the car she had taken from the estate to be exactly where she had left it.
"I know…" Managing to push the two words past her lips with an intense struggle, Tara once again focused on her breathing as she felt herself being gently set down into a seat, the difference in temperature making her shiver.
"Try to stay awake, you'll lose more blood if you black out." Even as she heard the other woman's voice flowing easily into her ears, Tara could feel the world around her slipping and fading into black with each passing second. After all the training and studying she had done regarding bullet wounds, nothing had prepared her in even the slightest way for being shot herself. Her mind still struggling to stay awake, the golden-haired intern gave a final sigh of both pain and exhaustion as she gave into her body's need for rest, and allowed herself to slip away from the world.
The bullet wound itself didn't hurt much, I'd been injured by far worse in my time. The thing that kept my mind off the pain was the girl laying in my room, asleep and hurting. I'd had the Coven's doctor take a look at her leg and her shoulder, and under his assurances that she would be alright, I allowed him to take a look at my own wound. I stayed with her that night, keeping her safe, making sure she wouldn't be in any kind of pain, and to my own surprise, simply staring at her.
To say that she was beautiful was an understatement...
"Keep still, don't make any sudden movements." As she slowly opened her eyes, Tara found herself looking up at the ceiling through blurred eyes. Turning her head slowly, she scanned the room, looking for the origin of the voice that she had heard only moments earlier. Turning her blurry gaze upwards, she struggled to make out the face sitting only a foot or so away from her. "Ok? Nothing to be afraid of, you're safe here."
"W-W-Where am I?" The woman's words doing nothing to calm her almost frantic heartbeat, the medical intern's entire expression turned frantic as the memories of what had happened before she had blacked out came rushing back to her. "W-What happened?"
"You were shot. You're somewhere safe now. I promise." Reaching out slowly and resting her hand against the other woman's cheek, Willow sighed slightly as she saw the intern freeze for a moment before relaxing against the hand resting on her cheek. "No-one's going to hurt you here. I promise."
"Why what?" Furrowing her brow in slight confusion as she heard the human's question, Willow continued to gently move her hand ever so slightly against the woman's cheek.
"W-Why was I shot? W-Who shot me?"
"It's a long and complicated answer." Giving an exaggerated sigh, the red-headed vampire closed her eyes for a moment as she forced her brain to try and remember exactly how the war itself had started. She had heard the answer once before, but considering how those within the Coven were forbidden to learn of the past, it didn't surprise her that so much mythology surrounded the events of the days past. "I'll tell you once you've healed."
"W-Who are you?" As she let the question pass her lips, the intern hoped that she could at least get the answer to that question finally. Ever since the shootout at the station, it was the one thing that she first and foremost wanted to know. There had to be a reason why this woman was so concerned for her.
"Willow." Letting her name flow into the other woman's ears like velvet, the vampire offered a small smile with it. "And you are?"
"Tara. Tara Corvin." Taking some comfort in the fact that she now knew the name of her rescuer, the golden-haired woman remembered a specific event from the past twenty-four hours in great deal. "You were shot yourself, can I look at y-your wound?"
Trying to push herself into a sitting position, Tara hissed slightly as she felt Willow's other hand gently push her back down to the bed beneath her.
"It's fine, see?" Moving her hand away somewhat sluggishly from the human's face, the vampire exposed her bandaged arm, the white color of the bandage conflicting with the pure black of her t-shirt. "Finey McFine over here."
Staring up at the girl above her, Tara closed her eyes as she felt the pain in shoulder flare up, and leaned back fully into the relative comfort of the bed.
"Does that feel ok?" Watching the human's face attentively for any sign of discomfort, the red-head wanted more than anything to spare the girl from feeling anymore pain or suffering. After yesterday, there was no need for any more harm to ever come to the girl laying in the bed.
"Better. The bullet went completely through I think…" Giving a small nod as she closed her eyes, Tara let out a large breath, sucking in more air slowly in order to try and alleviate the pain in her wounded shoulder. "I should get it looked at though."
"Our Doctor already has. I had him look at you in case you were hurt worse than I thought."
"Thank you." Her blue eyes still hidden, the human woman continued breathing in the same pattern, the pain in her shoulder eventually beginning to subside. "I d-don't even know your name…"
"Sssshhh, sleep. Everything's going to be alright, I promise you that." Leaning down and daring to give the woman a kiss on the forehead, Willow smiled as she saw Tara nod, and shift herself slightly so that it would be easier for her to sleep. "We'll talk later, I promise."
Only giving a small nod as her response, Tara continued breathing in and out, the actions seemingly making the pain in her wound go away, if only a short moment before it returned. Giving another sigh as she carefully and silently returned to her feet, Willow headed for the door, every one of her steps light and soft in an effort to avoid disturbing the wounded woman. Before she slipped out the door and back into the remainder of the large estate within the Coven's possession, the red-headed vampire allowed herself one last look at the human, now so close that she had actually been able to reach out and touch her. As she closed the door behind her, Willow allowed herself to do a single skip before she slipped back into her calm and unflinching Death Dealer persona.
Now that she had managed to find the girl and a way to keep her safe, nothing was ever going to harm her again.