For disclaimers see Part One
The bard can be fed, anytime, day or night, at Terias_McKlay@hotmail.com
Lex jumped hook kicking her nearest opponent. The thug dropped to the ground unmoving and the Hunter turned to glare at his partner. He moved to run and she pounced on him forcing him to the ground and pulling his hands behind his back. She snapped a set of riot cuffs on him and tossed him beside a dumpster doing the same for his cohort afterwards. The woman they'd attacked was nowhere to be seen, likely taken off sometime during the fight.
She jumped back on her skateboard and headed for the fire that the mugging had distracted her from.
"You alright?" Athena asked over the phone.
"Yeah, just had a loose end to tie up."
"How are the streets?"
"Chaotic, it was calm when I first got down here but all hell busted loose when the cocktails started flying."
"Yeah, of the Molotov variety. All the clubs and restaurants started emptying out, traffic is gridlocked. There's no way any emergency vehicles are going to get down this way."
"I know, the operator is sending out foot patrols but as for fire teams…"
"Okay, I see the fire," Lex jumped off her board and snapped the carry strap around it slinging it across her back. The fire appeared to have started in the first floor where the shops were and had moved upward to the level of apartments above. A crowd of, what Lex assumed to be, residents stood in their pyjamas watching helplessly as the building burned.
One woman screamed incoherently looking back and forth between the burning building and the crowd. Lex approached her since she seemed to be the only one in hysterics.
"Ma'am are you alright?" The dark haired woman spoke again and it took Lex a second to realize she was speaking another language. "Um…"
"It's Arabic," she heard Athena say. "Her husband and two boys are still in the building."
"Where are they?" Lex asked turning her attention back to the woman. "Shit Athena, she doesn't understand." Lex turned to the nearest person grabbing his arm. "Where does she live?"
"Up the stairs, end of the hall on the left," he answered his speech heavy with his Middle East accent. "The husband told her to leave, they were trapped behind her."
"Yes, her husband and two sons."
"The fire trucks will come," by the tone of his voice Lex couldn't tell whether it was a statement or a question.
"Not in time," Lex said as she sprinted for the end of the building.
"Lexina, what are you doing?"
"I dunno, something, anything, I can't let them burn to death. Can you find me a schematic of the building?"
"You're on Dundas and Yonge correct?"
"Yeah," Lex debated whether she'd be able to get anywhere if she went in through one of the store fronts. She heard typing on Athena's end hopping impatiently from one foot to the other as she waited.
"I've got it, there's no sewer access to the building and only two fire escape routes, one is interior the other is an exterior on the south end."
"Got it," Lex rounded the building looking up at the fire escape ladder. "Nothing is ever easy."
"It's one of those latch release ones, the stupid thing is a good ten feet above my head. See? Grappling hook, I told you so," Lex said feeling slightly vindicated as she backed up a few paces and took a run at the ladder. She pushed off on one foot stretching her arms and grabbing the last rung. She hauled her body up climbing for the small deck.
"I'm up." She could feel the heat from the door and knew she was in trouble. She put her sleeve over her hand and tested the knob. "Door's locked on the outside and it's hotter'n hell."
"Be careful, exposing the fire to oxygen could do more harm then good." She heard a window explode somewhere near the front of the building and took a breath.
"Don't think that's possible," Lex moved to the edge of balcony perpendicular to the door. She picked up her foot and kicked the knob off the door. The locking mechanism popped free and the door swung open. Lex likened the feeling to a vacuum as she felt the air practically pulled from her lungs as it rushed into the building. She dropped to a knee and covered her head as moments later flames shot from the open doorway.
Relatively speaking. She braced herself taking a deep breath as she crouched low and moved into the hallway.
Great, which left? The Hunter sensed more than heard movement and headed to the apartment whose doorway was blocked by a fallen crossbeam.
If I kick it out of the way the weight could collapse the floor.
"Shit!" She cursed as a part of the roof dropped beside her spraying her with embers.
I don't have time for this. The brunette dropped as low as she could nearly having to slither on her stomach to get under the beam and into the apartment. The screaming alerted her to the location of the apartment's occupants. She rushed into the bathroom to see a man soaking his children down in the tub. One boy appeared to be about five, the other was barely past infancy.
Lex grabbed his arm hoping he spoke more English than his wife.
"We have to go." He said something in Arabic, his eyes frightened. The Hunter reached past him taking the older boy out of the tub and putting him on his feet. She grabbed the younger one tucking him under her arm to protect him. They were running out of time, the smoke in the room was almost opaque.
The man looked at her with confusion, the Shadow Hunter grabbed him by the collar and tugged pulling him out of the bathroom and back the way she had come. She manoeuvred back underneath the beam child in hand and turned, motioning for the older boy. He got the idea and crawled under speaking something to his father.
"Do you understand English?" The boy nodded. "You have to tell him to come out, the building is going to burn."
"He says he's too big, we must go now."
Fucking duh Lex, how the hell was he supposed to fit when you barely could?
"Tell him I'll be right back." The boy yelled to his father and Lex picked him up as she darted into the hallway and onto the balcony. She let the older boy down and ripped off her skateboard tossing it over the edge as she kicked the latch to release the ladder.
"Climb on my back," she ordered. She waited to insure the boy was secured before throwing herself over and grabbing onto the ladder. She put her feet on the outside of the supports and let herself slide unhindered toward the ground. She used her feet and free hand to brake and reached behind herself to grab the boy by his shirt and take him off her back as she touched ground.
"I'm going back for your father. Your mother is around the corner. Here," Lex handed him the crying toddler. Without giving herself time to reconsider she ascended the ladder and went back into the hall where the man stood the beam blocking her from him.
The Hunter touched her hands to areas that weren't aflame and pushed picking the beam up with a grunt. She screamed with effort and pain as the flames licked at her bare hands. The man moved under the beam and reached to help the Hunter. She shook her head motioning as best she could for him to go to the door.
"Athena? How do I say 'get the fuck out of here' in Arabic?"
"I don't know but I'm saying it in English, get the fuck out of there!" It was, Lexina mused, the first time her Dhaskalos had ever used that particular expletive with her.
Please don't let the floor collapse. With a heave Lex pushed the beam out of her hands and turned for the door dragging the man behind her by his shirt collar.
She felt her foot break through the fire weakened wood and cursed. She took the man in both hands and tossed him through the doorway just as the floor disappeared beneath her feet. She struggled to pull herself up her feet meeting the empty air beneath her.
Bad day, meet worse day.
She was so intent on finding a way not to plummet to her fiery death that the sudden grip around her wrists surprised her almost to the point of screaming. She looked into the face of the man she'd saved and he nodded at her. The Shadow Hunter nodded back and began to pull herself up exchanging the man's wrists for his shoulders and eventually his belt.
"Let's get the hell out of dodge." Though he may not have understood the words he understood the meaning and led the way as they exited the building and made it to ground level.
"Still here Athena."
"Are you still battle capable?" The Hunter inspected the fire damage to her hands, it was serious but nothing some salve and a few bandages couldn't cure.
"I'm good to go."
"The silent alarm just sounded at Siobhan's shop."
"On my way," the Hunter looked around for her skateboard her eyes falling on the older of the two boys she'd rescued. He held it out to her shyly and the Hunter smiled as she took it from him trying to ignore the pain in her hands.
"My family thanks you."
"You're very welcome, thank your father for me." Lex manoeuvred her board out of its sling glad it hadn't been broken in the fall. With a final smile at the family she took off for Siobhan's.
Megan yawned and stretched trying to relieve the kink in her back. Her textbooks were spread over a good half of Siobhan's work table which she'd commandeered this afternoon. The witch was working on her own texts across from her and looked up as Megan closed her book.
"It's almost one am," the Irish woman stated with evident surprise as she checked her watch.
"Guess I'd better pack it in, I'm going to go cross eyed if I have to read another article."
"Indeed." Megan tucked her books away and stood.
"Thanks for letting me work here Siobhan, evidently the concept of being quiet in a library was lost on most of my peers."
"You know you're welcome here anytime you like Little One. Come, I'll walk you out." Megan smiled as the older woman followed her to her Jeep. Megan could hear the faint sounds of sirens in the distance and looked to the skyline surprised to see an orange glow.
"What the hell?" As she spoke a beat up Fifth Avenue careened around the corner and sped toward them. Something deep in Megan clenched and the blonde grabbed Siobhan swinging the woman around to the passenger side of the Jeep as automatic gunfire pierced the air.
They huddled together as the car continued to speed by, firing random bursts. Glass pelted them as her Jeep windows shattered and the car turned a corner and disappeared out of sight.
"What was that you said about them not being hardened criminals?" Megan asked as she slowly stood scanning the area for anyone, casualty or otherwise. Aside from themselves the street appeared deserted. The blonde offered a hand to the visibly shaken redhead.
"Umm, flashback I think." Megan scrunched her eyebrows in confusion before understanding dawned. Siobhan had watched her husband gunned down in a similar fashion ten years ago in Ireland, an unfortunate civilian caught in one of the many skirmishes that spilled onto the streets. Megan knelt down next to her friend taking a grip of her arms.
"We're okay, they're gone, c'mon let's go inside. We gotta call the cops." Siobhan nodded absently and allowed the blonde to pull her to her feet. Suddenly, it was there again, that feeling in the pit of her stomach that told her something was awry. She turned to see three men walking toward them their Dockers clumping noisily against the cement. "I think we should go." The redhead didn't respond and Megan shook the woman. "Siobhan! We have to go. Now."
The blonde unlocked her Jeep door and pushed the woman inside running to the driver's side. The boot steps grew faster, Megan let out a scream as a rough hand grabbed her arm, spun her around and slammed her against the Jeep.
"How's it going little witch?"
"It ain't witch it's bitch man." His partner laughed before surprising Megan with a punch to the stomach. The blonde crumpled, dropping to her knees as the breath left her body. A hand grabbed her throat and threw her against the vehicle and her head exploded in pain. She could've sworn she heard the sound of a skateboard before she faded into darkness.
Lex kicked her skateboard into her hands and swung it at the nearest skinhead connecting solidly with the back of his skull. She twisted her foot with his partner's preventing him from completing a kick directed at the unconscious blonde. She bent her knee and tugged pulling him off his feet and delivering a swift kick to his head.
Siobhan was being hauled from the Jeep by a third attacker and Lex jumped over the vehicle landing neatly beside him. His eyes widened as he realized what she'd done but she didn't give him time to contemplate. She belted him in the mouth, dropping her skateboard to the ground before she grabbed him by the shoulders and threw him into a lamppost. She riot cuffed the three men before moving to take care of Siobhan and the girl.
The redhead appeared to be coming out of her stupor and she looked quizzically at the Hunter.
"The whole goddamn city has gone squirrelly," Lexina commented walking around and checking on the small blonde. "She's gonna have a nasty concussion." Siobhan knelt next to the girl shaking her gently.
"Megan? C'mon Little One, wake up."
"Should we take her to the hospital?"
"No, I can take care of her in the shop, I'll set up some protective barriers," Lex nodded picking up the small woman and letting out a quiet laugh. "Something amusing?"
"It's just… this is the second good looking blonde in my arms tonight and I bet I'll still be sleeping alone."
"Sorry, it's been a weird night. My humour is probably a little off color."
"Quite," Athena chimed in her ear. "Is Siobhan all right?"
"Yeah the shop looks like Swiss cheese but no one's been seriously injured." Lex stepped into the shop and placed the girl on the common area table. "You gonna be okay?" She asked looking over at the shop owner.
"We'll manage, other's likely need you more." The Hunter nodded.
"Here." Siobhan threw her some gauze from the first aid kit she pulled out. "Wrap your hands."
"Right, be careful."
"You as well."
Lex opened the door to the apartment near collapse from exhaustion. It was well past sunrise, attacks had tapered off around three am but the city was still in turmoil as it tried to recover from the sudden wave of crime. She'd carried countless numbers to hospitals and emergency hospices, helped put out fires and tracked down as many of the instigators as possible. All told there were probably two dozen criminals tied up around the downtown core awaiting pick up.
And none too few piles of dust blowing in the wind.
Athena was at the door to meet her catching the young warrior as her legs buckled. "I just gotta lay down," she tried to say, though the words came out much more disjointed to her own ears. She'd gotten her bell rung more than once over the course of the night and she knew she'd ripped her stitches at some point as well.
"Come, I need to have a look at you." Lex felt her Dhaskalos tug her in the direction of the kitchen and willed herself to move. A wave of nausea blindsided her and she closed her eyes willing away the vertigo.
"Lexina?" Her Dhaskalos' voice faded away and even as she fought it she could feel herself slip out of consciousness.
Lex slowly opened her eyes blinking against the harsh afternoon sun that shone into her bedroom. She lifted her hands surprised to see them wrapped carefully in fresh gauze.
That's not my wrap job. The Hunter groaned as the dull throbbing of essentially every part of her body made itself known.
When did I end up in my bed? For that matter, how did I get home?
Her groan must've alerted Athena because Lex heard the woman turn off the TV and walk into the room. The Hunter tried to speak but found her tongue wouldn't respond to her commands.
"Relax," the Dhaskalos held a straw to her lips and the Hunter drank greedily. "Easy now, the last thing your system needs is another shock." Athena pulled the cup away and placed a hand on the Hunter's cheek. "You're a walking bruise, you need bed rest." Lex nodded slightly and closed her eyes.
When she came to a second time she was considerably more lucid and the sun appeared to have long since set. She heard murmurings in one of the other rooms and assumed Athena was talking on the phone. She realized it was her bladder making itself known that had awoken her in the first place.
My legs will hold me, my legs will hold me. She continued this mantra as she slowly pulled back the covers and swung her bare legs off the bed. She was attired in boxers and a tanktop and wondered once again how her small Dhaskalos had managed not only to get her into bed but wrangled her into her usual sleep attire.
There was a crisscross of bandages along her legs and arms and the Hunter cringed to think of how many stitches lay underneath the gauze. She used her hand to push herself to her feet trying to ignore the bolts of pain that ran up her arms. Her steps were unsteady but she managed to make it to the door way and leaned heavily against it, vexed with the amount of effort required to go so short a distance.
She took another two steps to get to the other side of the hall and used the wall as support as she made her way to the bathroom. She passed the office and was surprised to see Siobhan seated across from Athena. The witch caught her eye and was immediately on her feet wrapping her arm around the Hunter's waist to help her stand.
"You should be in bed resting," the woman chastised.
"Had to pee."
"She's fine, I'll get her to the lav, why don't you make something to eat?" Lex looked up sharply at that, instantly regretting the move as the room began to spin.
"I don't want to poison the poor girl, why don't you make something and I'll take care of her."
Oh thank the goddess. Athena's culinary skills left something to be desired.
Like their existence for one. One embarrassing and painful trip to the bathroom later Lexina slid back into bed thoroughly spent.
Athena sat at the edge of the bed giving her an odd look.
"What?" The young Shadow Hunter asked.
"I'm proud of you, you did a lot of good last night. Not the least of which was helping Siobhan."
"She's got some kick ass magics, she would've been fine once she snapped out of it."
"Perhaps, but by then her friend could have been seriously injured or worse."
"How is the girl anyway?"
"Siobhan said she would be fine, she gave her some herbs for the pain and took her home."
"Kid's Jeep looked a little worse for wear."
"Automatic gunfire has a tendency to do that."
"Hmmm. Is this your patch job or hers?"
"Hers mostly, I called her to help after you passed out."
"I was wondering how you managed to get me undressed."
"Even with both of us it was no mean feat, I nearly had to use a crowbar to get those jeans off," the Dhaskalos said with a smirk.
"Ha ha, ho ho, he he, it is too laugh." She stuck her tongue out at her Dhaskalos and settled further into her pillows. "For all the burn marks and blood stains you may as well have just cut them off."
"I would have if there'd been room enough between your skin and the fabric to get a pair of scissors."
"Careful, with all this hilarity I may bust a stitch."
"Alright, I'll stop," Athena touched Lex's face and ran a hand through the girl's hair. "In all seriousness, you did an admirable job, I…" The teen looked up at her Dhaskalos expectantly, these emotional moments were relatively rare in their relationship. "I couldn't be fonder of you if you were my own daughter, I believe that wherever your mother is she's very proud of you."
"Thanks Athena, that…" The Hunter swallowed willing herself to maintain her cool. "That means more than you know." Whatever else Athena had to say was cut off as Siobhan walked into the room laden with a tray.
"Think you can handle some soup?" The witch asked placing the tray over her legs.
"I think so."
"Good, make sure you drink the tea, it'll help with the healing as well."
"Why don't you supervise this? I'm going to see if I can make heads or tails of our night of the pifflings."
"No more CSI for you," Lexina commented as she spooned some broth into her mouth.
"If you can quote the Sixth Sense I can quote CSI."
"You only watch it for Grissom anyway."
"I most certainly do not."
"She fancies Warwick," Siobhan said with a smile. Athena huffed and left the room Lex's and Siobhan's laughter following her out.
"You don't have to block me, I can handle a little pain and nausea." Lex said, referring to the healing witch's ability to psychically block her pain.
"I know you can, but while I'm here I may as well do what I can to make sure you're comfortable." Lex nodded, who was she to argue?
"Thanks. So, who's the cutie you were with?"
"Ah, that would be a reporter friend of mine. I've been teaching her some magic for the last year or so."
"She seemed pretty quick on her feet, I saw her getting you into the car."
"Yes, I think she has a touch of foresight, she seemed to sense the danger before anything actually happened."
"Could've been gut instinct…" Lex hazarded. Siobhan shook her head.
"I don't think so. She's also got incredible telekinetic potential, I'm going to bring someone in to have her properly tested. Gifts like that shouldn't go untrained. They have a bad tendency of going rogue." Lex nodded, Athena had told her the same thing. "Your power is telekinesis as well isn't it?"
"Yeah, Athena taught me the basics of control but she's a telepath so my training is a little limited."
"I'll look into finding a tutor, perhaps you and Megan could share lessons."
"Cool, you know I'm always primed to learn new ways to kick ass." Siobhan smiled at her and motioned for the Hunter to drink her tea.
"The herbs will make you drowsy, don't bother to fight it, you've taken a good beating, your body needs to recover."
"Yes ma'am," the Hunter could already feel the herbs working.
"I'll come by tomorrow to check your bandages, don't try to do anything foolish like training or patrol."
"Mmm, kay…" Lex closed her eyes and let sleep take her.
Megan rolled out of bed smacking her lips trying to get some moisture into her mouth. She had a boatload of things to accomplish today and all she felt like doing was going back to sleep. She had a nasty goose egg on the back of her head and a few cuts from when she'd landed on the asphalt.
She grabbed the article she'd finished earlier this morning from her desk. She'd written it while waiting until it was safe for her to go to sleep with her head injury. Hopefully, the newspaper she freelanced with would like the firsthand account of her involvement in last night's events. She also had to get back to the downtown core and check what kind of condition her Jeep was in. It was likely going to be utter chaos down there but she had to get the information into her insurance agency to start repairs.
There was no hope for public transit despite this area of the city being relatively unaffected by last night's events. The wait for a taxi was the better part of three hours and Megan was afraid to see what they'd done to the prices. The blonde tossed on her backpack, grabbed her bike and set out.
"I'll take it," he wrote something on a slip of paper and handed it to her. "Take that to Mandy she'll get you sorted out."
"Are you alright? It wasn't a good night to be downtown."
"Yeah, my Jeep took more of a beating then I did."
"I don't suppose you have the name of the woman who saved you?"
"No, Siobhan said she came out of nowhere and took off just as quickly."
"Yeah, I've been getting a lot of the same, so far no one's got a picture or a name."
"Can I work the story?" John shook his head.
"Sorry Kiddo, this is a bit big for you, I gotta give it to the league players." Megan sighed, not that she'd expected to be a lead reporter but she'd hoped to get at least a tiny piece of the action. "Tell you what, I might do a survival story or something. Get me some good interviews and I'll see what I can do for you."
"Yeah. G'wan, let me work."
Megan shook her head as she looked at the bullet riddled body. It bordered on blasphemy to have something so beautiful destroyed without regard for the consequences. She pulled her camera from her bag and snapped photos. She circled the crime scene making sure she got all the angles to get her report as accurate as possible. It wouldn't do to have things slowed up by some fact checker with a stick up his ass.
"Got everything you need?"
"Yeah, thanks." Megan put the camera away and looked at the man.
"Absolutely, I don't know what people are thinking nowadays."
"I can't believe someone would shoot up such a nice Jeep," he said as he grabbed the tow cable and slithered underneath to attach it.
"Thanks for doing this Mike."
"No problem Meg, 'sides, if I hadn't your sister would never have let me hear the end of it." The blonde laughed.
"That's what you get for marrying her. Trade the guilt trips of your mother for the guilt trips of your wife."
"At least your sister is a better cook."
"Ah so that old axiom, 'the way to a man's heart is through his stomach,' is actually accurate?" He slid out from underneath the Jeep and stood up dusting off his coveralls.
"It is when she's making her biscuits."
"Mmm," Megan could almost feel her mouth water at the mention of the food.
"I'll try to get this fixed up for you next week, it doesn't look like the engine took any damage so it should be okay."
"Awesome, thanks Mike."
"Sure thing, you need a ride anywhere?"
"No, I'm good thanks."
"Be careful, no telling what crazies are running around." Megan smiled at her brother-in-law watching as he jumped into his truck. Siobhan's shop was still closed and there was no sign of the owner. The brunette had fixed the glass last night and erected a shield to prevent further damage. Damage to the interior of the store had been relatively minimal, only a few books and some furniture had taken direct hits.
Guess I'll have to come by tomorrow, last thing I want is to get caught down here after dark again. She slipped a note under the door telling Siobhan she was alright and would drop by later before hopping on her bike and heading for home.
"Hey!" Lex looked up from her book at the shout returning to 'Tropical Storm' when no further shouts were forthcoming. The idiot jocks were constantly screaming across the quad and the Hunter cursed her bad luck for forgetting her CD player at home. This was her first day returning to school since the crime wave last week.
She wasn't fully healed, she still had stitches along her jaw and her hands had a light layer of gauze wrapped around them. Her attendance however, was less a desire to be at school than it was a desire to be out of the apartment.
Athena was driving her nuts with her theories rationalizing the crime wave and who the possible masterminds were. The woman seemed to be stumped on the fact that all the criminal organizations, including warring ones, had acted in concert on the night in question. Lex had to admit it was odd but what did she care who'd orchestrated the criminal coup? That was the cop's job to determine, she and Athena had more than done their part.
With a shake of her head she flipped the page reading about Dar & Kerry's adventure in Disneyland. That was somewhere she wouldn't mind going. Maybe she could convince Athena to take a break once she'd cracked the demon case and go down somewhere warm for a little R and R.
Her musings were disturbed when the sun suddenly disappeared and Lex looked up to find one of her peers standing in front of her.
"You're in my light," she stated in a matter of fact manner.
"Oh, um, sorry." He moved to the side and Lex winced as she got an eyeful of sunlight. The Hunter turned back to her book reading another page before raising an eyebrow at the intruder.
"The purpose for you standing there is?"
"Um, I'm Brian."
"Right. Sorry, I didn't want to disturb you, I just wanted to say thanks." At that the Hunter looked up trying to determine if she knew the boy.
"I'm going to regret asking this but thanks for what?"
"For your help on Wednesday night." Lex sighed closing her book and standing up. She slipped the paperback into her cargo pocket and slung her backpack onto her shoulder.
Ah great, that's gotta be damn near a statistical impossibility.
"Yeah, well let's not make a thing of it." She began to walk toward the cafeteria letting out a sub vocal growl as he followed her.
"You were really something, where did you learn to fight like that?"
"Self defence class," she deadpanned opening the door and purposefully smacking him in the chest with it as she yanked it open. He grunted but pressed on.
"Yeah, but there was like five guys, I thought I was done for."
Ah, now I remember. It had been one of the first fights of the night near the outskirts of downtown proper. The thugs had been nothing more that some teenaged punks with more attitude than common sense. The boy, Brian, had been about three seconds away from an ass whooping when Lex had skateboarded past. His assailants hadn't been good for much more than a warm up for her but an inexperienced fighter probably would've taken a good beating.
"Girls kick ass, says so on a t-shirt, or on a TV show. I forget which."
"Look, can I do something to repay you?"
"Your heartfelt thanks, is more than enough to make my efforts worth while," she said her voice dripping with sarcasm. She got in the lunch line grabbing milk and salad and following through to the hot lunch line.
"Well, how 'bout supper?"
"How about not?" She nodded for a grilled cheese sandwich and fries.
Finally something recognizable, it only took a month.
She reached the register, before she could pull out her wallet Brian had paid for both their lunches.
"Alright, now we're square, can I eat in peace?" She questioned as she searched for an empty table.
"C'mon, just one lunch and then I'll never bother you again." Lex looked at the boy, he was a good two inches taller than her putting him around 6'1" or so. His sandy blonde hair was stylishly cut, which while attractive, was certainly not original considering half of the male population in the school sported the same look. The cut exposed his strong jaw, blue eyes and a lean neck.
It was evident in his posture that he hadn't quite grown into his body yet and was uncomfortable with his lanky limbs. Overall Lex supposed the girls would consider him attractive which left Lex wondering why he insisted on talking to her. Most people at the school had learned by now that she was a person best avoided. Perhaps he'd gotten the wrong idea when she'd rescued him.
Better nip that in the bud.
"You know, just 'cause I saved your ass doesn't mean I won't kick it myself, the moment you begin to irritate me I'll send you over the table, get me?"
"Got you." He nodded and followed her to a table. "So, does that mean I'm not irritating you yet?"
"Thin ice boy, thin ice," Lex growled as she took a bite out of her sandwich.
"So, how was your meeting with our young Hunter?" Brian shrugged dropping his knapsack as he took a seat in his employer's visitor chair.
"Fine I suppose. She's hostile but I think I can get though to her, might take a little time." The man across from him nodded accepting his answer.
"I've waited nearly two decades for this, I can afford to wait awhile longer."
Lex threw her bag onto the bed, exhausted from four gruelling weeks of night patrols. The Shadow Hunter's hair hung limply at her shoulders and her ice blue eyes were rimmed with dark circles. If not for her naturally tanned skin she would have looked deathly pale. Lex flopped onto the bed pulling her pillow beneath her and snuggling into it.
Athena was off somewhere doing 'Dhaskalos stuff' leaving the teen with some down time before the night's patrol. Before the appearance of the mysterious demon she had usually only patrolled for a few hours every night. However with the death toll rising and the new demon first on the list of suspects Lex had easily been pulling eight hour shifts.
Between her duties and school, which she had taken to going to simply to avoid her Dhaskalos' sudden perma-PMS, she was lucky to get three hours of sleep a night. Not that it mattered. After a month's worth of beating informants, paying snitches and scouring the city she still hadn't located the demon.
Whatever lair it was occupying it wasn't one of the local transient spots. Likely, the demon was in the woods or hiding in some unknown sewer. Either way it was a considerable amount of ground to cover for anyone, even the Hunter. The demon wasn't yet enough of a threat to warrant calling another Shadow Hunter in on the game.
Three of the Hunters were already congregated in Rome dealing with some evil cult or other and couldn't be bothered with a small time, single demon, search and destroy. The other nine Shadow Hunters were rotating between cities covering for their occupied peers, keeping vamp and other demon populations in control. Of the 13 Shadow Hunters Lex was the newest, most of the others had at least a couple of years experience on her and the teen was by far the youngest.
It was only her lack of experience and the fact that she was still in school that kept her from touring the cities like the others. The Tribunal had respected her request that she be allowed to be semi-permanently placed until she got her high school diploma. Her mother had always insisted on an education and even if Lex never went on to post-secondary, out of respect for the deceased Ballard she was determined to at least finish high school.
The Tribunal, however, made it perfectly clear that her duties came before her scholastic responsibilities and that, should the occasion call for it, she was to go where she was needed, diploma or not.
Come her graduation in June all bets were off and she fully expected to be celebrating Canada Day in another province, possibly another country. Not that any of that mattered at this point, a lot could happen between now and then that could stop those plans. Right now Lex's biggest concern was finding an expedient way to track and destroy the demon.
As vain as her efforts in locating the demon had been it certainly didn't have a problem finding her. Her 'predator's instinct', had alerted her to its presence four times in as many days last week and twice since yesterday. Each time the demon had approached her she'd been in a populated place, too crowded to make a stand without causing a scene. Nearly the moment she detected the demon it would disappear leaving Lex frustrated and curious. It seemed as though the demon was actually leery of confronting her.
It was, of course, a justifiable fear but it was also rather un-demon like. Most supernatural evil doers jumped at the chance to take out one of the Thirteen. It was kind of like an unwritten rule. Hell it could've been a written rule for all she knew some of the demon clans could be quite anal. Even though she'd tried to track the demon after it disappeared she was no closer to finding it now then she was on the night of chaos.
Lex sighed as she picked a book off the floor. It was one of the many she'd read over the course of the month in search of an ID on the monster. The books were usually more helpful but their lack of information was making it difficult to research. Like most of the other texts, the one she was reading 'Demons of the Western Continents,' hadn't been able to help her in anything except sharpening her Latin translating skills.
If she was in to the whole, optimistic, 'glass half full' shtick, she supposed it could also serve as a confidence booster. She'd slain three of the demon types she'd read about so far and according to the book none of them were an easy kill.
Still, the text made for dry reading and Lex absently scratched her newly scarred shoulder while she leafed through the pages. The muscle just under her left shoulder blade was hard and knotted and the scarred skin tissue above it ached when she worked it too hard.
The Hunter knew it was unlikely she would get back a full range of motion with her left arm which really irked her. Though she shot her longbow right-handed she was a southpaw at heart and wielded her sword with her left hand. Not being able to get a full swing with a blade could prove detrimental to her health so had been improving her right handed skills.
Not that she was bad with her right hand, Athena certainly hadn't allowed her to become too one-sided but there was always room to improve. The demon and her shoulder weren't her only problems either, there were more trivial yet equally annoying problems, a.k.a. Brian.
He was a decent guy, Lex had the intelligence to admit that. Smart, courteous, charming, not bad looking at all really. He also didn't seem to think he was God's gift to women, which in Lex's experience was actually quite unusual. The fact that she could hang out with him for more than five minutes without wanting to rip his head of was also a good sign of a possible long- term acquaintance.
Problem was, the guy followed her around like a lost puppy. After the classes she didn't have with him, which, it turned out, were unmercifully few, he was waiting outside the door of the room to take her to her next class. He also happened to live along the route Lex took home from school so it wasn't until well past four that she got rid of him.
I do not need a tagalong. Lex thought fiercely, snapping the book shut. Maybe I should just kick his ass and dump him on his doorstep.
"Lexina?" Athena called as Lex heard the front door open and close.
"In here," Lex said managing to keep her sigh an inward one. Athena had been overly combative lately, picking fights with her over the most inane things. Yesterday at practice she'd gotten a fifteen minute lecture on the importance of keeping up her training when she hadn't blocked a strike. Not that she hadn't deserved a reprimand for the slip but the Shadow Hunter hardly thought it was worth the sermon.
Lex had tried to discern what was troubling her mentor but had been shut down every time she brought it up. If her Dhaskalos didn't start talking soon she was going to have to go digging for the cause of her unhappiness. Without knocking her Dhaskalos walked into the room and placed three bags on the floor.
"What's this?" The teen asked suspiciously as she plucked a bag from the floor and opened it.
"Clothes, there's some shirts, a vest and a new jacket to replace your other one." Athena said referring to the jacket she'd ruined a month ago when the quarrel had plowed through the leather and into her flesh. Between the blood which had managed to seep into the satin lining and the inconvenient placement of the hole itself the jacket had been pretty much beyond repair.
Lex shuddered unconsciously as she remembered the feeling as the arrowhead had scraped against bone. It wasn't the first time a strike had hit bone. When she was a Protégé some pansy ass thug who'd thought he was Rambo had cut deep into her bicep with a serrated blade.
Luckily for her, Athena had been waiting in the wings and Lex had gotten a first hand view at what her small Dhaskalos was capable of when angered. The Hunter idly wandered how long the man had had to eat from a tube.
The Dhaskalos grabbed a box from one bag and threw it onto Lex's bed startling her from her thoughts.
"Those are the boots I want you wearing on patrol, they're durable and in accordance with your vanity they should look good with your pants." Lex barely refrained from sticking her tongue out at that comment but thinking it immature wisely kept her mouth shut.
Despite all they'd gone through, even with the events of last month, Athena evidently still thought of her as the popular princess that she'd found a year ago. Lex shook her head and pulled the boots out of the box mildly surprised when they were a cross between a military and a clubbing boot. The heel was low and the boot laced up the front but the tops ventured close to her knee giving it a stylish look while still remaining practical. As with the rest of her gear the boots were made of dull black leather that blended easily with the shadows.
Goddess only knew where Athena got the clothes, they'd never been the wrong size or uncomfortable in any way. The clothes were warm during the cool fall nights and with long johns underneath and a set of gloves they were perfect for when the temperature dropped below zero degrees. It was also a lot easier to clean the blood off of leather than out of fabric, a trait Lex had taken advantage of time and again.
"Thanks," Lex said as she took a vest out of the bag. It was made of leather as well but it looked as if it had been stuffed with something for warmth. There were also several long sleeved T-shirts and hooded sweatshirts, all black of course. Lex idly wondered where the money for the clothes came from as well as the extensive weapon set Athena had recently purchased for her 17th birthday.
She had dozens of throwing knives, hand crafted stakes, two crossbows of different sizes (her third had been destroyed on the night her shoulder had been injured), swords, short swords, daggers, and a pair of sais. Anything that could be concealed in a bag or under a coat she had it and was proficient in its use.
"I know we don't always get along," Athena started. She stopped unsure of how to convey how much she cared for her young charge.
"We could fight a lot more than we do," Lex said with a small smile. If Athena was willing to try and talk things through she really couldn't do any less. The Hunter stood up and stripped off her school clothes tossing them into the laundry basket. Once, her wardrobe had been bright and cheery with baby blues, bright yellows and the like. Now, as Lex threw on her patrol gear she again realized it consisted of black, black, dark blue and black. She shook her dark head a smile on her face, no wonder everyone thought she was a Goth.
"I know I'm hard on you Lexina. You must understand it's for your benefit."
"I do understand that," Lex said casting her eyes downward. "It's just hard sometimes. I didn't get much of a chance to lead a normal life before I was identified as a Protégé and now that I'm one of the Thirteen I'll never be normal. My duties will always come before all else and it's not fair for me." Lex held up her hand motioning for Athena to let her finish.
"I know life's not fair but it's still hard. I feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders and not matter how many vampires I dust or demons I slay it just keeps getting heavier."
"I wish I had comfort for you my young friend. The truth is, I don't. I can only see this getting worse. I only hope you feel comfortable confiding in me so that I can help you as much as I can," the Dhaskalos said her eyes full of sadness. She'd met her fair share of Shadow Hunters over the years. Many had confessed to her feelings similar to that of her charge. What worried the Dhaskalos was that soon afterwards the depressed men and women had been killed in battle, as if they'd simply given up and let go. Athena didn't particularly like the idea of losing the girl she'd come to think of as family.
"I'm beginning to see why we usually have such a notoriously short lifespan," Lex said quietly as she slung her sword over her shoulder. She barely noticed the weight anymore, it was only wanting to remain inconspicuous that kept her from taking it on patrol all the time.
The weapon had been made specifically for her to accommodate for her height, arm length, and strength. It had been coated with a layer of silver and cooled in holy water to make it particularly painful to vampires. The Hunter usually only took it out with her on patrol when she was looking for serious trouble, i.e. big, sneaky, murderous demons. Whatever it was that kept following her she was taking no chances, she wanted this thing dead and buried as soon as possible.
"I'm sure that's part of it," Athena said interrupting Lexina's thoughts. "After years of killing and surviving without really living, it becomes easier to just let go." Athena confessed, her eyes full of a pain whose origins Lex couldn't even begin to fathom. The young Hunter realized she knew little of the woman who had cared for her these last few months and Lex wondered what went on behind Athena's intelligent brown eyes.
"Not yet," the Hunter said firmly. She stood and held a hand out to her Dhaskalos. "I have some things to settle before I let myself go."
"I suspected as much," Athena answered allowing the much stronger girl to pull her to her feet. "Come on," she said, ending the moment, "sun's almost down and you still need supper."
Lexina roamed through the cemetery heading for the area she'd last caught sight of the demon. It wasn't the one she really wanted but any demon was a good demon, especially when she was feeling fidgety. Lex let her breath out in a "whoosh" as something pounced on her from behind forcing her to the ground.
The teen threw her head back catching her opponent in the face, she felt the monster's horns scrape along her scalp and suddenly blood was in her eyes. Cursing she pulled a knife from her concealed arm sheath and thrust it behind her catching the demon in its sensitive stomach.
The demon growled in frustration and backed off the Hunter. Lex got to her feet quickly and swung her leg around hook kicking the demon in the head and dropping it to the ground. It recovered faster than Lex expected and she had to sidestep a razor sharp claw lest she be cut in half. Acting quickly the Hunter pulled her sword from its sheath and slid it into the demon's gut pushing the blade in up to the hilt before she ripped it out the side. The demon let out a high pitched squeal as it dropped to the ground clutching its side. Lex brought her sword down in an arc cleanly severing the head from the body.
The Hunter knelt beside her fallen opponent and wiped her blade clean using the soft cloth she kept for just such a purpose. She let out a small sigh of frustration, she'd barely worked up a sweat tracking and killing this demon. She was starting to get bored and a bored Hunter was no vampire's friend. Having made the decision to extend her patrol Lex stood and brushed the dirt off her leather clad knees.
I'll finish up with demon disposal then head over to Hartford Cemetery and see who's up.
"Incendium," the Hunter said as she tossed a satchel of powder onto the corpse watching casually as the demon burst into flame and disappeared into ashes. The spell had been impressive when Athena had first taught it to her, now it was just part of the job.
Lex took her cell phone from her pocket and dialled the apartment's number to report on the kill, Athena was always keeping records. She waited until the fifth ring before hanging up eyebrows creased in worry. Athena always stayed home while Lex was on patrol to insure she could be contacted in case Lex was too badly injured to get back. If her Dhaskalos wasn't there something had to have happened at home. The Shadow Hunter slipped her phone back into her duster and headed for her apartment at a sprint.
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