Let's do the disclaimers...
Because everyone should have at least one lesbian vampire story in their repertoire: Originally posted for the Academy of Bards Halloween 2003 Invitational. Xena, Gabrielle, et al., belong to a whole slew of folk from Ren Pics and Co. No infringement meant, no profit gained. Rest is mine and all that. If you take what's mine and claim it as yours, you'll need more than garlic, holy water, and crosses to save yourself from my preternatural wrath, sweetie-kins. Some violence and sex (because a lesbian vampire story wouldn't be a lesbian vampire story without lesbians, violence, and sex. Or vampires, for that matter. Eh. Go figure.) Many thanks to a bunch of good folk (waves to the livejournal crowd) who sent good vibes, tolerated the bitch-fest and sent lots o' blud, blud, blud to keep me in high spirits. Thanks goes to Erin Reilly for trippin' the light academic and as always, †special thanks to Viv Darkbloom for helping me mind my p's and q's and commas and run-on sentences and whatnot.
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[post oct 2003]
Whew! And now, on to our story....
v a r d o u l a c h a
angharad governal (email@example.com)
Love isn't brains, children. It's blood -- blood screaming inside you to work its will.
Spike, Lover's Walk, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
She awoke slowly. The dream -- haunting, far away, yet strangely vivid -- filled her mind with sensuous images.† She was on the edge of consciousness, of awareness -- half awake, half asleep, yet fully cognizant of her dreams. Her body was awakening, her senses shifting from the realm of dreams to one of wakefulness. Suspended like an ancient insect caught in amber, she thought that the hand which gently molded the flare of her hip, the fingers that slowly caressed the delicate folds of her sex, the mouth, tongue, and teeth that licked, kissed, and nipped a slow and deliberate trail along her stomach to the curve of her breast, were all a part of the kaleidoscope of a particularly vivid erotic imagining. It was not until those same fingers had brought her to the knife edge of sexual fulfillment and the mouth, tongue, and teeth had danced along the stiffened peak of her nipple and took a delicate bite of her excited flesh that she realized this was no dream. She came moments later, pushed over the edge into bliss, into the life-affirming oblivion of sexual climax, fully and completely awakened.
It was the bite, she realized later, that drove a sliver of panic into her mind and had pushed her sluggish thoughts over the brink of sleep into wakefulness. It was the sudden awareness of the delicate balance of pain and pleasure that tore through her body and brought into sharp relief the realization that she was with a woman she hardly knew, and from what little she did know of the woman -- this beguiling, beautiful, seductive stranger to whom she had willingly given her body -- was dangerous, possibly even deadly. The fingers that played against her at the height of her orgasm had not left the quivering folds of her sex. It now soothed where it had earlier sought to excite and arouse.† The teeth and tongue too now lathed her breast in soft, gentle flicks. Suddenly, the movement stopped and again she felt a rising, uncontrollable fear flood her body. She was all too aware that the figure that had lain on her was now moving and settling next to her.† The hands and mouth which only minutes earlier had sought, found, and claimed the secret places of her body now withdrew from her with slow and sensuous deliberation.
She opened her eyes and gazed into the hypnotic depths of the eyes of the woman whose bed she now occupied.† Again the rising fear flickered at the edge of her conscious mind.
And if I die before I wake, I pray the Lord. . . I pray the . . . Oh, God. . .
A soft, involuntary moan escaped her lips, her eyes fluttering shut as her body reveled in the light touch of the woman's hand moving yet again across the planes of her body.
"I wouldn't have. Not like that. Not to you."
She opened her eyes at the low, melodious voice and once again felt herself being possessed by the darkening hue of the woman's eyes.† She surprised even herself when she reached up to cup the woman's face, her fingers briefly caressing the flawless golden skin before drawing the stranger to her mouth. †She delighted in the feel of the woman's lips against her own and grew dizzy with renewed need as those lips parted for her insistent mouth and tongue. She ran her tongue against the woman's teeth, deliberately caressing the pointed canines.† She felt, rather than heard, the stranger's breathless moan.† A rush of want flowed through her as she felt the fangs lengthen and grow against her exploring tongue.
The word echoed in her mind, but rather than eliciting fear and apprehension, it sparked a sharp hunger, a bright sheaf of lust that coursed through her body and invaded every fiber of her being. When she finally pulled herself from the stranger's embrace, she was breathing heavily and hard, her mind reeling with desire. The woman now stood beside the bed, a hand outstretched towards her. She moved from the bed and took the woman's hand into her own, following willingly as the stranger led her to another room. Her eyes were riveted to the woman's body, her graceful gait. She took in the play of shadow and light along the stranger's golden skin and marveled at the muscled planes of her arms, back, and buttocks.
"Here we are. I thought you might enjoy this."
The melodious voice snapped her from her lustful reverie and she began to take in her new surroundings. The room was simple, yet elegant. Lit candles occupied niches and shelves along the bare walls. At the center of the room, stood an enormous circular marble bath filled with steaming water. She smiled. A soft laugh escaped from the woman before her and she looked down to meet green eyes that sparkled up at her in merriment.
The woman smiled and pulled her to the tub. "Come on. Water's getting cold."
She sank into the bath with a sigh. Leaning against the tiles, she closed her eyes and relaxed as the water's warmth penetrated her skin. She smiled as she felt the woman's hands play gently against her thighs, urging them apart. She opened her eyes once more and was caught in the stranger's smoky gaze. The woman knelt between her open thighs, their faces level with one another.
"You know what I am?" The stranger's fingers played against her jaw and traced a sensuous line along her lips.
She took the woman's hand from her face and guided it between their bodies to her sex, pressing the delicate fingers against herself. "I want you. I want this."
There was hesitation in the eyes that looked back into her own.
With her free hand, she grasped the woman's face and pulled her into an open-mouthed kiss. Once again, she traced her tongue along the distended fangs, eliciting a guttural moan from the woman in her arms. Their lips parted; the stranger's fingers stroked harder against her, the woman's mouth and tongue moving to trace against her proffered neck. She gasped as she felt delicate fingers swirl against the excited tip of her sex before moving lower and gently entering her body. Through the haze of her desire, she felt teeth gently raking the soft skin of her neck.
"Please," she whispered brokenly as her body tensed and warmth began to spread through her nether regions.Pain at first. Sharp, hot. She gasped, her eyes closing as the sensation tore through her body, rivaling the heady warmth suffusing her sex. Suddenly, the pain transformed, metamorphosing into pleasure. She moaned openly, her senses overtaken by a feeling of sheer intoxication, of bliss.
One word ripped through her mind, and as her orgasm rent through her body, she screamed it aloud. "Gabrielle!"
One week ago...
She moved through the undulating crowd, her eyes quickly following the movements of the woman ahead of her who weaved through the press of bodies dancing in the dark, smoke-filled club. Music blared all around her as multicolored lights of orange, white, and purple pulsated before her eyes. She doubled her pace as the music suddenly quickened and the bodies around her gyrated feverishly, the mass of humanity throbbing and beating like a living heart. The push and pull of the crowd moved her farther and farther from her prey; she craned her neck and saw the blonde head weaving and bobbing away from her, even as she forced her way across the room. A feeling of frustration suddenly filled her -- she had come so close to finally meeting her and now the chance she had been hoping for was slipping through her hands. She knew that she would never have this chance again, would never come so close to being in the same room with the elusive woman that she disregarded both her instincts and years of training which had been instilled in her.
"Gabrielle! Wait! Gabrielle!"
The blonde head stilled its forward motion for a brief moment before proceeding out the doors of the smoky room. She cursed audibly and a stocky woman with close-cropped hair snickered and suddenly stood in her way.
"If the baby butch don't want ya, I've got what ya need."
She rolled her eyes, side-stepped the stocky woman, and headed for the exit, hoping that she would see where the blonde went.
The stocky woman shrugged nonchalantly and sat back on her barstool. "Your loss." She picked up a half-drunk bottle of beer. "Bitch."
The street was empty. She leaned back against the brick faÁade of the building, her head pounding as the realization that she had lost her target, that the woman she had been searching for almost her whole life had slipped through her fingers. She closed her eyes. The Order would never trust her again, would surely never let her do surveillance work again, not after this, not after losing track of her.
She let out a soft curse into the cold night air, "Damn it." She could almost hear William's solemn voice droning in his distinctively clipped monotone: Remember, all of you, the purpose of the Order is to observe, to record, but never, under any circumstances, to interfere. You are to observe your subjects. You are not to engage them by any means. We strive to be invisible. We are invisible. †She snorted. Oh yeah, she was invisible, all right. She was a veritable ghost -- a ghost who yells across crowded rooms and runs after her subjects, all the while maintaining that all-important aura of discretion and invisibility, for surely no one in that club noticed an almost six-foot tall woman chasing down a petite blonde across the room while bellowing like a moose in heat. The Order would find out, of course, and after a long inquest they would.... What would they do to her?, she wondered worriedly. Throwing her out into the proverbial streets seemed an unlikely option -- it was an odd perk of being part of a thousand year-old secret organization that kept track of all supernatural activities around the world. Being "fired" was the least of her worries. She shuddered as visions of how other so-called clandestine societies throughout time had punished members for violating sacred trusts flashed through her mind. So absorbed was she in thoughts of her immediate (and most likely dreadful) future that she didn't notice the lithe figure sidle next to her until she felt a hand against her arm.
"I see that you didn't accept that charming woman's offer."
To her credit, she did not scream, but it was obvious that the sudden appearance of the woman unnerved her. She managed a weak smile, and tried to visibly relax, as if she had expected to find the blonde there, although she could hear the rapid thudding of her own heart pounding in her ears. "N-no." She smiled wanly as her brain snickered at her stuttering response. You finally meet her and all you manage to do is sound like a babbling idiot. Bravo, Shakespeare. And what part of, "only observe and never engage" is this little exercise, huh? "I-- I was hoping--"
"You've been following me. And not just tonight. I'd like to know why." The blonde regarded her critically, but there was no hostility, no sense of accusation in her voice or manner. She spoke matter-of-factly, as if they were speaking of things no more mundane than the weather.
The woman's placid exterior did not fool her, however, and a prickling fear shot through her. The woman was dangerous and suddenly she understood the gravity, the necessity of the warnings given to her, to all of them. But as she looked into the woman's eyes, all caveats fled from her mind and one singular thought echoed through the haze of her confusion and fear: beautiful, so beautiful. She was not aware that she had spoken it aloud, nor was she aware that she had reached out and delicately traced the line of the blonde's jaw, until she felt the woman's fingers gently grasping her hand. She had been staring at the blonde's mouth, remembering, suddenly, how that mouth had moved along her body in her dreams, how it felt and tasted. She resisted the mad urge to kiss the blonde when she realized that the woman had spoken to her. She tore her eyes from the plump, almost bow-shaped lips and stared into the woman's eyes. "What?"
An amused smile blossomed against the blonde's features. "You said something about 'the texts being right', but you never expected something. What did you not expect?"
She blinked owlishly at the woman before her, as if she had suddenly awakened from a long sleep. She began to trace the woman's features with her free hand, amazed that the blonde permitted such familiarity between them. "The texts said that you were beautiful. They were right about that. But I never expected," she whispered as she moved even closer to the woman, her eyes trying all at once to take in the sight before her. It was fate, she realized now, destiny -- that this moment was as inevitable as the day and the night and that this woman was as vital and necessary to her as breathing. "I never expected I would fall in love with you."
She leaned down and took the blonde's mouth in a desperate, hungry kiss. She felt herself melting into the kiss, her mind suddenly overwhelmed with feelings and sensations. The blonde did not resist and as she pressed herself against the supple curves of the woman's body, her tongue boldly sought entrance to the blonde's mouth. †She felt the woman pull away from her and she opened her eyes, and was pleased to note the slight blush of color on the blonde's cheeks, that however subtle it was, she had affected her. She moved again to the woman's mouth, but was stopped when the blonde placed a gentle hand against her shoulder.
"How do you know that you could trust me? Or even if I want this? I could be a knife-wielding serial killer, for all you know."
She shook her head. "But you're not."
The blonde gave a wry grin. "You seem so sure of yourself."
She took the woman's hand in earnest. "I'm sure of you. You knew I'd been following you. You could have stopped me at any time you chose if you thought I posed a threat, but you didn't, Gabrielle."
The shorter woman looked at her skeptically. "And why should I trust you?"
She let out a shaky breath. "Because I know you, Gabrielle. Because I know."A shadow passed over the blonde's face; her eyes grew bright and a hint of red ringed her pupils as she pulled herself from the taller woman's hold. "Go home, little girl. You're in way over your head."
With that, the blonde turned from her and slowly walked down the deserted street. She stood rooted to the ground, her body shaking violently as she watched the other woman disappear from view. Her legs suddenly buckled from under her and she fell heavily to her knees.
Three days ago...
Her hand reached for the light switch as she entered the room and closed the door behind her. She stared into the empty apartment, noticing for the very first time how truly empty it was -- an old sofa was pushed against a wall by the only window, books were stacked on the floor against another wall and beside it were a small table and two chairs. In one corner stood a small refrigerator and a sink; in the other, a paper screen and her bed; beyond it was a door that led to a tiny bathroom. She had never truly looked at the room before, despite having lived in the space for over seven years. In all that time, it only served as a temporary rest stop in her life, a place to sleep and get clean -- it was never a home; it was just a room. As she leaned back against her front door, she tried to remember how long it had been since she had felt truly at home anywhere. Remembering brought stinging tears and she hastily pulled her coat sleeve against her face, shook her head, and pushed her body from the doorframe. She walked to the small refrigerator, took out a half-empty bottle of scotch, and took a glass from the cupboard above the softly humming appliance. She poured herself a double and raised the glass to her lips.
"You know, drinking isn't very good for you, Rebecca, and drinking alone is even worse."
Rebecca let out a surprised yelp and the glass slipped from her hand and shattered as it hit the wood floor. She turned around and her eyes fell upon a woman sitting on her sofa. Her short blonde hair shone with the light reflected from a nearby lamp, contrasting with the rest of her attire -- a form fitting black turtleneck sweater, jeans, black leather boots and a long black leather coat.
"H--how -- how did you--"
The blonde stood up and took a step toward the shocked woman. "Don't worry, Rebecca. I won't hurt you. I promise. Here, let me help you clean that up."
Gabrielle took a step toward her and Rebecca shook her head and knelt down to clean up the shattered glass, her eyes never leaving her unexpected visitor. "N-no. It's all right. I've-- Ow." She looked down abruptly and realized that she had picked up a jagged piece of glass. An angry gash cut across her right index finger. Blood flowed profusely from the wound. Suddenly, the blonde was kneeling next to her and had cradled the injured hand in her own.
"You should be more careful. Excessive blood loss can be fatal." A crooked grin appeared on Gabrielle's face. "Let me kiss the boo-boo and make it feel better."
She watched, mesmerized, as the woman bent down and licked the blood from her finger. A riot of confused feelings passed through her as her eyes met the cool green of the blonde's gaze. She's testing me, her mind supplied. She's trying to see whether I'll run screaming from her. Seconds passed, although it seemed an eternity had passed before Gabrielle gently moved her mouth from the injured hand. The shorter woman stood up and pulled Rebecca from her kneeling position. Her hand still firmly in the blonde's grip, she was guided to a nearby chair. The woman knelt before her and placed a free hand against her thigh.
A sardonic grin crossed the blonde's features as she gave Rebecca's hand a gentle squeeze. "Looks like you'll live."
She nodded numbly, still unsure of what was happening between them.
The blonde stood up. †"First aid kit?"
Rebecca gestured toward the bathroom. "Cupboard in the--"
Gabrielle nodded and turned from her. "Be right back."
Minutes later, the woman had treated her cut finger and cleaned up the broken glass and spilt alcohol as she sat by and watched in silence. After tidying up, Gabrielle sat down across from her.
"We need to talk."
Rebecca nodded, still unable to gather her thoughts into a coherent whole.
The petite woman ran a hand against her unruly locks and gave the woman across from her an appraising look. "You're a hard woman to find."
For the first time in the past few days, a genuine smile crossed Rebecca's face. "I should say the same goes for you."
Gabrielle gave a soft laugh before her face turned serious. "TouchÈ. Actually, I was rather worried. Since the last time we met, you essentially disappeared. I'd been trying to call on you for the past thirty-six hours or so. I was afraid that they had done something to you before we had a chance to talk."
Rebecca shook her head. "How did you manage to figure out who I was and how did you get past all the--" She gestured to the closed door as the blonde's eyes swiveled to the door in question and back to her anxious face. "I--I mean, I thought your kind couldn't enter private spaces without an invitation and all the-- the mojo on that door should have stopped you."
"Ah yes." The woman shrugged. "Frankly, I've never encountered that many protection spells and charms on a door before, but magic's never had any effect on me. As for finding out who you were -- if you've lived as long as I have, you learn a thing or two about bureaucracies and how to get what you need from them. And as for the other thing, Rebecca, I was sure you'd have figured it out before now, but I'm not vardoulacha. I'm not a vampire."
Abruptly, Rebecca stood from her chair, a look of satisfied triumph on her face. "I knew it!" She walked to a pile of books on the floor and began to rummage through them. She pulled out a slim, bound volume and waved it excitedly toward the blonde. "I had posited that theory to the committee. William and the others were intrigued with the idea, but were adamant that it was due to your age, your longevity, that you acquired such abilities. They said that you were unique, that your abilities couldn't be documented in other vampires because there were no others who had lived as long as you, no others of your kind had ever survived more than two or three hundred years."
An amused grin spread on the other woman's face. "There are theories about me?"
Rebecca nodded as she placed the book on the table between them and sat back down. "Surely you must know that people like me have been keeping tabs on you and others like you for years, centuries, even. The populous in general probably have no idea what's really out there or they choose to ignore it for whatever reasons. But for a select circle, your existence is well known, Gabrielle. We know very little about you, really. You're quite a mystery, but what facts we do know of you -- you've survived for a least five or six hundred years, maybe longer by some accounts, and that you can walk in sunlight. The other vampires call you Day Walker. You're legend. Actually, I--" She blushed furiously as she tapped the cover of the book in front of her. "I -- I did my dissertation on you."
Gabrielle's eyebrows rose in surprise as she glanced at the book that the taller woman had shyly placed before her. Her eyes scanned the title: †A Vampire By Any Other Name: An Ontological Case Study of Gabrielle of Potidaea - Rebecca Pappas-Alexandros Villalobos. A slight blush enveloped her cheeks as she looked back at the younger woman. "I don't know what to say. I'm flattered that I'd prove an interesting enough subject for a dissertation." She glanced at the cover of the book once again. "That must have been some university you attended to allow you to write such a thing."
Rebecca shrugged. "There are shadow institutions that grew alongside the most famous universities throughout the world, but the numerous types of subject matter they teach are more...um, esoteric in nature than your run-of-the-mill school. But if you're not vardoulacha, then what are you?"
Gabrielle smiled and gave a dismissive shake of her head. "There isn't really a name for what I am, Rebecca." †She took hold of the younger woman's hand and placed it over her heart. "Well, for one thing, I'm very much alive."
She felt the strong thrumming of the woman's heart beating against her fingertips. Their eyes met. Rebecca blushed as she withdrew her hand from under Gabrielle's. "And warm to the touch," the younger woman added.
Gabrielle grinned. "And vampires, as you know, are very, very dead. And they stay warm for only an hour or two after they've fed. Demon possession of a corpse, essentially. They take on the personality of the person, but the soul's gone."
"Right," Rebecca nodded in the affirmative. "Except for Angelus who was cursed by a gypsy and was re-ensouled."
Gabrielle laughed. "You watch way too much television."
Rebecca laughed as well. "What did William always say? Plausible deniability. When the general populous get a bit too suspicious of the rather strange comings and goings in the world, we have Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer to point to and act as a cover story." She shook her head. "And what-- what about--"
"The blood drinking?"
Rebecca nodded solemnly.
Gabrielle sighed and ran a hand through her hair. "Unfortunately, that part is true. But it isn't as necessary for me to partake as it is for a vampire." She looked up and saw a tiny flicker of fear in the younger woman's eyes. Her voice was contrite, her eyes unwavering as she answered the question she saw in the eyes of the woman seated next to her. "But I haven't, Rebecca. Not for a very long time."
A melancholy smile etched across Rebecca's features as she lifted her injured hand to Gabrielle's sight-line. "Until now, that is."
A look of horror flashed across Gabrielle's face, but before she could stammer out a reply, Rebecca placed a slim finger against her lips.
The younger woman began to gently trace the shape of Gabrielle's mouth with her fingertips. She leaned forward and took Gabrielle's mouth in a soft, slow kiss. Rebecca moaned as she felt Gabrielle open for her and began a gentle exploration of the other woman's mouth; she was surprised when Gabrielle abruptly pulled away from her.
The blonde stood up and walked a languid pace to the small pile of books that littered one corner of the room. Her eyes scanned the titles before she turned her eyes to the woman sitting by the small table. "I'm not the only one here with her share of mysteries, Rebecca. According to the information that I found about you, you're supposed to be dead. In fact, according to official records, you died twelve years ago."
"God, you are good, aren't you? You managed to find out who I am, who I was, even tracked down where I lived and some how got into my apartment despite the most powerful protection spells the Order can muster." She sighed heavily, as if she were unburdening the innermost secrets of her soul. "Rebecca Villalobos did die twelve years ago, Gabrielle, but Rebecca Alexander is very much alive."
"Why the deception? Why the need to change your name? Did they force you into leading this life?"
Rebecca stood up and began to pace the room as Gabrielle settled herself on the sofa. She gave an audible sigh and sat down next to the blonde. "The Order thought it best that I change my name, considering that I "died" on that night. And they didn't force me into anything. As a matter of fact, they saved my life." She closed her eyes and leaned back against the cushions. She felt Gabrielle's hand against her arm; she opened her eyes as the blonde gave her arm a reassuring squeeze. "Everything they ever taught me dictates that I should have fled for my life the minute I saw you in here. I hardly know you, you're practically a stranger, but I feel as if--" She found herself caught in gentle gaze of the other woman's eyes and once again, unknowingly, her hand reached out and caressed the outline of Gabrielle's jaw. She sighed audibly. She hunched forward and closed her eyes before she began to speak in a quite, halting tone. "My parents and I were camping in the Angeles National Forest just outside of Los Angeles twelve years ago. There was an attack. It happened very quickly." Tears began to sting her eyes and she hastily drew her hand against her face and wiped them away as she avoided the older woman's gaze and stared at the floor. "As you must have found out, the official reports said that it was bear attack. Everyone in that campsite was presumed dead, mauled to pieces by a bear. No bodies were ever recovered."
Gabrielle nodded. "But obviously you survived."
"In a manner of speaking," She turned her eyes back toward the woman sitting next to her and gave a hollow laugh. "It's actually a funny irony, considering my name." She sighed and ran her hand through her long dark hair. "It wasn't a bear that attacked us that night. It was a werewolf."
The blonde's eyes went wide with shock. "But-- but you can't be -- that night when you kissed me was the night of the Hunter's Moon."
"I'm not a werewolf, Gabrielle. I am human. And yes, I did survive that night -- thanks to William Congrieve. It-- it killed both my parents and then tried to go after me. William told me that he had been tracking it for several nights. He got there in time to save me. After he shot the Were, he put two silver bullets into the dead bodies of my parents. He told me he couldn't take the chance that they might turn into Weres too. I had just turned fifteen that summer and I've been with the Order ever since. †For twelve years, I've known nothing else but this life."
Eternal Life is now on my trail
Got my red glitter coffin, man, just need one last nail
While all these ugly gentlemen play out their foolish games
There's a flaming red horizon that screams our names ††
Jeff Buckley, Eternal Life, Grace
Twenty-four hours ago...
William Congrieve stood on the banks of the Thames River and waited. The waning night was growing even colder as the fog rolled in waves into the deserted streets of London. He pulled his trench coat tighter against himself in an effort to keep warm. He checked his watch. It was not quite three a.m. He looked around again at his surroundings. He pulled up his collar and cursed under his breath. "Damn this cloak and dagger business. I'm getting too bloody old for this sort of nonsense." He checked his surroundings once more. "Where in bloody blazes is that infernal woman?" He took a glance at his watch. It was now one minute past three. He gritted his teeth. "Bollocks to this. I'm going home."
"Hello, William. Not late, am I?"
Congrieve turned and watched as a figure emerged from the fog. The figure wore a knee-length black leather jacket and as it came closer, he could make out short blonde hair on a lithe frame. She was shorter than he had imagined, but knew that however delicate and slight she seemed to be on the surface, it belied her great power and strength. He watched uneasily as she walked toward him.
"Is it true that they used to call you 'Wild Bill' in your younger years, Congrieve?"
Despite his unease, he suddenly became extremely annoyed. "What is it that you want of me, Day Walker? Surely we aren't out here in the middle of the night for social pleasantries."
Gabrielle smiled sardonically at the man as he stood shivering in his thin trench coat. "Your 'Order' should give you lessons in manners, William. And a pay raise so you can buy yourself a warmer coat."
Congrieve's face split into a scowl. "You've met her, haven't you? Talked with her?"
The blonde nodded. "She knows nothing of who she really is, does she, Congrieve? You and your organization have kept it from her."
"She's no concern of yours. I'm warning you, vampire, stay away from her."
Gabrielle took a menacing step toward him. "She is of every concern to me and you know it. How dare you? How dare you keep her from knowing who she really is?"
A glimmer of understanding flitted across Congrieve's face and a note of incredulity crept into his clipped tones. "You've-- you've fed on her, haven't you?!"
"I haven't fed on her, William. But I know. I know. She is of the Pappas-Alexandros bloodline. You and I both know what that means."
"Damn you, Day Walker. You have no claim on her!"
"I have protected her family line for a millennia!"
"She is not Xena. She is not your long-dead lover reincarnated! Your lover died over a thousand years ago and you broke the karmic circle that bound you together when you sealed that God-be-damned bargain that made you what you are! Rebecca is ours now, Day Walker. She belongs with the Order!" The blonde lunged at him. To his credit, Congrieve stood his ground, even as she lifted him off his feet and pressed him hard against a nearby lamp post. "If she were of any importance to you as you claim, then where in God's name were you when she needed you most? Where were you, Day Walker? Where were you when she needed you? Where were you when that werewolf was mauling Helena and Antonio? Where were you when that monster turned and charged toward Rebecca? If I weren't there, Gabrielle, Rebecca would have been as dead as her parents."
Suddenly, William Congrieve fell to the ground. Dazed, he looked up and found only an empty street and the London fog licking at his heels.
It was her choice, Gabrielle told herself. Her choice. They had met that morning and spoke together long into the early evening. When they finally retired to her estate in the farthest reaches of the Welsh mountains, Gabrielle had asked her again, and again, the dark-haired woman reassured her that she had made her choice freely, that Rebecca chose to be here with her, that from the first moment they met, she had known, that this and they were as inevitable as the day and the night, that this was destiny, that this was meant to be.
They had made love well into the night and when the time came and again, Gabrielle had asked her if it was what she truly wanted, Rebecca smiled, kissed her, and said, "Yes." She had fed on her, but only enough to make her drowsy. What Gabrielle had told her days before, and what she had repeated to Rebecca that day was true. She was not vardoulacha. She was not a vampire and could not turn others into what she was. Rebecca questioned her, but Gabrielle only smiled and said that Rebecca would understand when the night passed and when the sun rose.
She arose as the sun crept over the mountains. Rebecca lay next to her, sound asleep. Gabrielle watched her slumber until, hours later, the woman beside her began to awaken. She watched as her lover's eyes fluttered awake, watched as a dawning comprehension bloomed against the bright blue of Rebecca's eyes, watched as her love took in the sight of the day and of her.
Rebecca took hold of her lover's face as tears fell from both their eyes. "Gabrielle, I-- I remember. I remember."
Gabrielle smiled through her tears. "I know."
"But-- but how did--"
Gabrielle wiped the tears streaming from her eyes. "Does it really matter?" She moved from the bed, walked to a nearby window and stared out into the sunlit valley below them.
Rebecca moved from the bed to where Gabrielle stood. She enveloped the blonde in her arms. "Tell me. Please." Gabrielle tried to move from Rebecca's arms, but she held fast. "Gabrielle, it's me. I have her memories. I am still Rebecca, but somehow I know I'm also Xena. I love you, Gabrielle. I have and always will love you. Nothing will change that. Please, please tell me what happened."
Haltingly, reluctantly, Gabrielle began to speak. "After Japan, I made my way back to Greece but I never made it to Amphipolis. There were rumors that there was something killing whole villages in Macedonia. I tracked it down to a cave in the hills above a small village. In the end, I managed to kill it, behead it. I didn't know then what it was, but the local villagers called it vardoulacha. I know now that it was what you call a 'vampire', a very powerful vampire. I was injured. Badly. I passed out in the cave; I thought I would die there, but I awoke the following morning. I was in pain -- terrible, terrible pain. I staggered back to the village, but when they saw me, they were afraid. There was a girl there about your age--" She felt Rebecca's arms tighten around her. "I was out of my mind. The pain was... overwhelming. I attacked her, fed on her. When I realized what I had done, I ran. The rest of the day was a blur. I don't know why, but I made my way to a temple; I passed out at the doors. When I awoke, Aphrodite was cradling me in her arms. I don't know how she did it, but she took the infected blood from my system. She said it was gone from me, that the demon blood was no longer in me, but I was no longer quite human. I was still feverish, weak. I realized that I was dying. She told me there was only one thing that could save me, that if I was to eat an apple from the tree of the Hesperides, I would live. It was my choice whether to take what Aphrodite offered me. I said yes. Before I left the temple, she told me that one day, Xena and I would be together again. When the time came, she said, I would know what I had to do." Gabrielle turned in the circle of Rebecca's arms. "Many years passed. And then one night, not so very long ago as I walked out of a club in the heart of old London, I heard a woman calling my name from across the room--"
Twelve years ago, Prague, an undisclosed location in the heart of the city
"Have you made contact with William?"
"Yes, sir. He's on his way to the target. He will be releasing the Were about a mile from the campsite and will be following at a discreet distance, as ordered."
"And what of the vampire, sir, will those chains hold her?"
He swiveled in his chair and regarded the monitor. "Magic may have no effect on the whore, but pump enough sedatives and drugs into her system and she's quite...manageable. By the time she comes out of her stupor, Operation Fallen Angel will be complete and the girl will be ours to do with as we will."
(c) October 2003 angharad governal
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