For disclaimers see Part One.
To feed the bard send it all to Terias_McKlay@hotmail.com
*Author’s Note: The previous section contained reference to Melissa Good’s fantastic story 'Tropical Storm’. If you haven’t read it the story can be found at http://www.merwolf.com/tropical1.html, it’s a definite must.*
"Oh gods," Lex spoke softly as she came upon the shattered remains of the lobby’s glass door. "Athena!" She screamed as she took the stairs three at a time her long legs allowing her to take the huge strides with ease. The elevator was broken. Again. The Hunter pitied the less athletic people that had to climb up to 12 floors of stairs to get home. She kicked open the door that led to the hallway her hand on the hilt of her sword, ready to lash out at anyone who threatened her.
From where she was she could make out her door at the end of the hall, or rather the lack of a door. She skidded to a halt outside the doorway, what was left of the wooden barrier hung loosely on its hinges, the rest spread around the apartment and the hallway.
Lex stepped quietly into the still apartment, on full alert for movement though her senses told her the invader was long gone.
"Athena?" She called out pushing open the door to her Dhaskalos’ room. Personal belongings lay everywhere blood spatter coated the walls. Lex picked her way through the debris and looked out the window and down at the ground below. There was no trace of her Dhaskalos or whoever her opponent had been. She could see the police cars as they turned the corner and screeched to a stop in the apartment parking lot their lights flashing.
Lex moved out of the room without touching anything lest she disturb evidence. It was possible Athena’s assailant had been human and the police were more equipped for that type of investigation than she was. Somehow though, Lex didn’t think it had been a man, Athena wouldn’t have had any trouble dispatching a single human thug.
The Hunter unhitched her sword from her shoulder and tossed it onto the floor in the living room. She doffed the rest of her weapons in case the cops decided to get frisky and wandered around the apartment following the trail of mayhem as she searched for Athena.
Lex checked each room of the large loft finally coming upon hers and Athena’s shared study. Lex tried the door surprised to find it locked, that was odd, how would Athena have had time to lock the door? Her surprise turned to worry as she pulled her hand away. Her palm was slick with something and the scent reached the Hunter’s nose. She didn’t need to look at it to know it was blood. Lex was preparing to kick the door in when two police officers charged into the room.
"Hold it. Stay right where you are young lady," one of the officers commanded as he levelled his pistol at her.
"Relax, I live here. I think my aunt’s in there," Lex said motioning with her head to the door as she held her hands out in front of her.
"Get down on the floor!"
"What?" Lex asked in confusion. Surely he didn’t think this mess was her doing.
"I said get down. Now!"
Okay maybe he does.
Lex held her hands up at waist height as she dropped to her knees. Not making any sudden moves she lay flat on her stomach and clasped her hands behind her head thanking the goddess for her foresight. It would’ve complicated matters severely if the cops had found her with weapons. As if her trench coat and all black ensemble weren’t enough already. The Hunter felt a growl erupt from her throat as the bigger of them manhandled her looking for weapons. Finding her clean he hauled her up roughly by her coat and cuffed her.
"What the hell are you doing?" Lex asked sharply as she tried to wrench free of his grasp. He rewarded her with a jab to her kidney for her effort evidently thinking it would settle her down. Lex had to bite her lip to keep from laughing at him, Athena hit harder than he did.
"Please, my aunt’s in that room," Lex said, hoping the damsel in distress routine would get his fat ass in gear.
Or maybe I’ll tell him I have a box of donuts in the room, bet he’d beat down the door then.
"I’ll check this out, Doucette hold the kid," the man said as he pushed Lex into the hands of his female partner. He put his hand on the doorknob and jiggled it. He jerked his hand away as he felt the blood and looked at Lex with disgust. She shrugged her shoulders, it wasn’t her fault he hadn’t worn gloves.
"Is there a key?" He asked through clenched teeth as he pulled out a handkerchief and wiped off his hand.
"There might be," Lex answered with a shrug. "Why don’t you be a nice boy and take these off and maybe I’ll find one for you." He sneered at her and turned to the door.
"I’m breaking it down."
Hehe, good luck ass wipe.
Athena had had the door reinforced when she’d taken possession of the loft. There was valuable Tribunal material that they couldn’t risk just anyone getting a hold of it. If one or the other of them wasn’t in the apartment the study door was locked and alarmed.
Lex didn’t bother to hide her smirk as she watched the man take a run at the door.
This should be good.
His shoulder slammed into the door with a thud and the man winced as he was forced back by the brunt of his own blow. The door hadn’t even creaked.
"Jesus, what the hell is that thing made of?" Lex shrugged her shoulders. Her ears perked up as she heard the muffled moaning of someone behind the door.
"Athena?!" She screamed in question pulling free of the woman and leaning her head up against the door. She stood fast as the male cop tried to pull her away.
"Lexina?" She heard a weak voice call through the heavy wood of the door.
"I’m coming! Hang on!" Lex dropped her arms as low as she could and jumped pulling her legs under the crook of her arms and landing with her hands in front of her rather than behind. Both cops looked at her wide eyed as she lifted her foot and dropped it down putting her entire weight into the blow. Had she been a regular 150 pound, 17 year old girl she’d have knocked herself flat on her ass, but she was one of the Thirteen chosen warriors of the gods.
The steel frame bent and gave way as she used her powers to kick the door in. Before she could react tall, fat and stupid had her pinned on the floor again and Lex came face to face with Athena’s form. The Hunter squirmed and bucked trying to get to her Dhaskalos who lay nearly still in a pool of her own blood.
"Hold still kid, you’re only making this harder on yourself," the man said kneeling on her neck to keep her head to the ground.
"No," Athena moaned. The officer looked at her, Doucette was already beside her to look at her wounds.
"She’s my niece, release her. Please," Athena murmured as she slipped from consciousness.
When he didn’t immediately respond Lex heard the woman bark out, "damn it McKail take the cuffs off the kid."
Guess we know who wears the pants here. Lex watched as the woman carefully cradled Athena’s head in her lap and put her hand over one of the Dhaskalos’ deeper wounds. Once the metal fell from her wrists Lex was up and pushing McKail away trying to get to Athena as fast as possible.
"Get some towels," Doucette ordered looking up at her partner. Obediently he turned and walked into the hallway returning moments later laden with towels. "Contact the hospital, tell them we’ll be there in ten."
"Shouldn’t we wait for the medics?" Lex asked as she watched McKail gently place towels on her Dhaskalos’ abdomen and apply pressure. Doucette shook her head.
"She’s bleeding too much. If we wait for them she’ll die." Lexina squared her jaw and nodded in agreement picking her Dhaskalos up with ease. The woman was barely 115 pounds and looked as though she’d break if you bumped into her. Lex had learned first hand what lay beneath the deceiving surface when she’d begun training. Lean muscle covered hard bone compacted into the 5’4" frame. Nothing short of a full fledged demon could get the best of the small woman.
Whatever had attacked her had been huge judging by the claw marks covering Athena’s face and body. The Hunter made her way quickly down the stairs and kicked open the lobby door. Leftover glass from the shattered door pelted her as it slammed against the brick wall. Lex stumbled as the familiarity of the situation crashed down on her. She’d done nearly the same thing no more than a month after she’d been chosen.
Payton slowly made her way up the stairs, sore from head to toe. Athena had worked her over again tonight. Her mother was starting to worry about the new bruises that were appearing daily. Yesterday she’d come home sporting a split lip and a black eye. Not that Payton minded, she was more than willing to spar Athena, eager even, since she’d gotten her new powers. Problem was, there was only so much damage you could claim was due to errant elbows at basketball practice.
As it was she felt bad lying to her mother about her extra-curricular activities. She’d quit basketball the week after being Chosen. As a Protégé she had been unwilling to make sacrifices to the cause, not seriously expecting to ever become one of the Thirteen. But now, loath as she was to admit it, her duties did come first and she needed to get in as much training as she could. Her only worry now lay in making sure her mother remained ignorant of all things supernatural, hence the pretence of basketball practice.
Athena had mentioned confessing to her mother about her training and Payton had toyed with the idea. In the end she’d decided against it, she couldn’t stand the thought of causing her Mom that much worry. She’d told Athena as much and her Dhaskalos had acquiesced and agreed to Payton’s one request. That if Lex should die on patrol Athena would find a way to explain to her mother in a way that wouldn’t have the older Ballard babbling in a psych ward.
It was odd, she hadn’t known the British woman long but she trusted her with her life and knew the Dhaskalos would find a way to honour her wish. It had in fact, been only six months since she’d met Athena and found out she’d been identified as a possibility to become one of the Thirteen. As it happened, one spot in the team of Shadow Hunters had cycled through three people in quick succession before Lex had gotten her powers.
The first, a seasoned warrior, had been taken down in an ambush. His successor had been a young man slightly older than Lex who had been killed in a car accident the same day. Lexina’s direct predecessor had been a 23 year old Texan girl who had been killed on patrol barely a month ago. According to the reports Athena had received the inexperienced Hunter had stumbled on a nest.
Payton had already read the Dhaskalos’ accounts of the death and found the fatal mistake had likely been the girl’s attitude. She’d been a mediocre fighter at best but had gotten away with it because she’d never encountered more than a couple of vamps at a time. The woman got cocky to a fault and walked into something she couldn’t handle. Athena had taught her from the beginning that her powers did not a god make and had expressed no sadness over losing the rather useless warrior. Payton mirrored her Dhaskalos’ thoughts feeling little sympathy for the pig-headed little sot or her Dhaskalos who should’ve reined the woman in long ago.
"Payton, is that you?"
"Yeah Mom, it’s me," Payton said as she pushed open the door to her mother’s room. The 40 year old sat crossed legged on her bed absently flipping through the channels on the TV.
"Hey Sweetie, rough practice?" She asked pointing to a deep purple bruise on Payton’s arm.
"Uh, yeah, some of the girls are getting pretty aggressive," Payton said wincing as she remembered how much the strike had hurt. Athena had gotten under her guard and disciplined her mercilessly by whipping her staff across her arm and into her ribs. Her mother frowned at the comment but didn’t speak.
"Anyway, I’ve got a lot of homework and I want to get it out of the way before the weekend. I’m gonna tackle it now."
"Kay, I’m just gonna watch some TV and try to relax a little. I’ve got that flight early tomorrow morning."
"Right, I forgot about that."
That’ll make going out for patrol considerably easier, Payton thought with a smile. Patrol was definitely high on her 'fun things’ to do list, there was nothing quite like watching the anger and fear in a vamp’s face as their bodies turned to dust. She was getting all excited just thinking about it.
"Want me to drive you to the airport?"
"That’d be great, I’d rather that than leave my car in the lot for three days."
"Okay. Wake me up when you’re ready."
"Are sure you don’t mind having your Saturday morning ruined?"
"Not at all," Payton said as she walked over and hugged her mom. She and her mother had been on their own since Payton had been a kid and there was no one in the world the Hunter loved more. Her Dhaskalos was now running a close second but that was different, she loved Athena the way a student loved a teacher, her mother was her best friend and closest ally.
"Great. Oh and Max might be coming over later. "
"Max? Where’s he been all this week? I thought you two were moving into the 'steady dating’ category," Payton said sitting on the bed to face her mother giving her a cheeky grin. Her Mom ruffled her hair with a laugh.
"He said he had a big deal fall through in Italy and he had to go see what he could salvage."
"With no phone call?" Payton asked with a raised eyebrow, that didn’t really sound like Max.
"No, he apologized profusely though and bought me coffee," the elder Ballard said. "He did look a little pale, I think he might have the flu."
"Maybe he has some sort of Italian super bug," Payton said with a shrug.
"Eeyah, I’m sure that’s what it is Sweetie, why don’t you go eat? There’s some supper in the fridge."
"Awesome," Payton bounded down the stairs to the kitchen and microwaved the left over pizza: evidence of both her and her mother’s lack of cooking ability. Her next stop was the den to boot up her computer. She sat back as the computer went through its start up procedures, devouring two slices of pizza before it had finished.
Payton only had an essay to type for homework but it was lengthy and having the typing ability of a two year old it would likely take her awhile. The teen had been typing away diligently for nearly an hour when the doorbell chimed.
"I’ll get it," her mother called from her room upstairs. Payton bristled a little as a cold chill ran down her spine.
"What the hell?" Payton shivered uncontrollably and only a white knuckle grip on the desk kept her hands from shaking.
"Hey Max," Payton could hear her mother say, acting on her 'predators instinct’ the Hunter shot up from her chair and made her way quickly to the front door. Her Mom turned and smiled at her from the door. Payton smiled back and flicked her eyes to the tall form in the doorway.
"Honey, you remember Max?"
"Hi Payton," he greeted charmingly.
"Hi Max," Payton replied her tone careful. There was something wrong with this situation. Payton had only had that type of reaction to someone’s presence on patrol. It was her alarm system, a Hunter special, her personal 'spider sense’. It had kicked in before but never to this degree. Max was setting it off in a seriously bad kind of way.
"Max would you like to come in?" The older woman asked stepping away from the door. Payton’s mind screamed in protest as her mother’s words left her mouth.
"I would love to, thank you," Max walked across the threshold flashing Payton and her mother his 100 watt smile as he did so.
Oh damn. This guy was sick alright but it wasn’t anything there was a cure for, except maybe a stake and some holy water.
"I’ll make some coffee, Payton why don’t you take Max into the living room?"
"Sure Mom," Payton looked at Max belatedly noticing the pale skin the dark doorway had failed to reveal.
Oh man, I hope I don’t have to stake this guy in front of Mom, she’ll never date again.
"This way," Payton said putting her hands in her pockets feeling a vial of holy water rest comfortably in her left hand. Her right hand held a small silver cross blessed by a priest from the church down the street.
Payton didn’t have a faith per say but Athena told her she needed every tool she could get. Pretending to be an obsessed bible carrier to get the piece of metal blessed had been a minor inconvenience. Though she could still feel her skin crawl whenever she thought about the irritating wool skirt she had worn.
Hello, vampire in your house, please concentrate.
"So Payton, how’s school?" Max asked once he was seated comfortably on the couch.
"Not bad, it’s school you know." Payton answered as she caught sight of her book bag lying on the floor. It wasn’t her Hunter kit but she usually kept a stake in it for emergencies.
And I would say this more or less qualifies.
"Yeah, I know," Max said with a chuckle. "But it’ll all be over soon."
"Beg pardon?" Payton asked her eyes widening.
"High school. You’ve only got one year left after this one haven’t you?"
"Oh, yeah," Payton laughed weakly as she moved casually over to her bag and dug around searching for a weapon.
Shit, I took out my stakes during training yesterday. Damn. Payton grimaced and punched her bag in frustration.
"Something wrong?" Max asked.
"Uh, I just forgot a book is all." Payton pulled a pack of sharpened pencils from her pencil case. Max looked ready to comment but closed his mouth when Payton’s mother walked in.
"Here you are Max," she said handing him a steaming cup.
"Thanks Meana," he said smiling as he took the mug. Payton gripped the pencils tighter fighting to keep herself from staking him then and there. With considerable will power the Hunter stayed her hand and slid the pencils into her back pocket. The teen had barely moved to take a seat on the couch when the doorbell chimed again.
What the hell? Why is this place grand central station all of a sudden?
"Honey, would you grab that please?" Meana asked Payton was about to refuse but a look from her mother silenced her. She didn’t relish the thought of leaving her Mom alone with the leech but if she didn’t go she would definitely raise Max’s suspicion.
The Hunter gave her mother a nod and walked out of the room sprinting to the door once she was out of sight. She threw open the door intent on quickly dismissing the interrupters, the less people who had to witness her dusting the better.
Payton raised an eyebrow in curiosity as she saw the doorway was clear and she stepped outside to look for the pranksters. She immediately realized her mistake as she cursed as her predator instinct again switched to high power. Before she could jump back the vamp had her by her shirt collar and the seat of her pants and pitched her off the porch.
The Hunter was on her feet in an instant just in time to duck the vampire that jumped at her. He hit the sidewalk with a grunt and Payton swung a roundhouse kick at his head knocking him clean off his feet. She whipped out a pencil and shoved it into the vampire’s chest.
Her powers gave her the strength to force it past the bone and into the unbeating heart of her enemy effectively dusting him. Her mother’s scream pierced the night air giving Payton a burst of speed as she ran back to the house.
"Mom!" Payton barely had time to recognize what was happening as a beefy arm came out in front of her. The Hunter dropped to ground clutching her throat as the vamp clothes lined her. Before she could rise he was on top of her straddling her hips. She struggled in his grip as he put his hand around her throat and began to squeeze.
Payton gasped for air kicking frantically to remove herself of the unwelcome weight. She pulled a small switchblade from her pocket and jammed it into the vampire’s foot. He growled angrily and tightened his grip. Not quite the effect Payton had been going for. The teen’s grip on consciousness began to weaken and she wriggled beneath him trying to loosen his hands.
"I’ve been waiting to kill one of you Hunters," he snarled. He can tell I’m a Shadow Hunter?
"Wait…ugh...Longer!" Payton ripped the knife from his foot and thrust it into his groin. The vamp dropped her like a sac of garlic and collapsed to the ground clutching his crotch. Payton wasted no time. She arched her back and flipped onto her feet. The Hunter quickly put a pencil through his heart and ran up the porch steps.
Payton rounded the corner to the living room just as Max sank his fangs into her Mom. The teen took a running jump at the vamp, drop kicking him into the fireplace. Payton hit the carpet with a thud and kicked her legs around using her momentum to put her feet under her butt and push herself into a standing position. She went to her mother’s side, thankful she was still conscious and alert, Max hadn’t had time to take a lot of blood.
"What the hell happened?" She asked as Payton helped her to her feet. The woman put a hand across her neck to staunch the blood flow as Payton pushed her toward the hallway.
"I’ll explain later, run, get to the car. I’ll be right behind you." Payton said as Max began to get up. Payton kicked the coffee table at him the heavy wood pinning him to the wall momentarily. The vampire growled angrily and picked up the table throwing it at the Hunter and her mother. The teen pulled her Mother to the ground and covered the older woman with her body as the table sailed overhead landing with a crack as it broke through the wall.
Payton was on her feet before the table hit the carpet barely in time to block a thrust from a poker. She grabbed the piece of iron and pulled bringing the vampire to her and shot out a front kick forcing the vampire to release his grip. She swung the poker connecting solidly with his temple and whipping his head to the side.
Max wiped the welling blood off his temple and advanced on her, murder in his eyes.
Payton swung again, too wide Payton, Max ducked the blow and moved within a foot of her.
The poker was useless to her now and Max took advantage of his opportunity. Payton’s head snapped back as his elbow connected with her face. Her eyes watered uncontrollably as her shattered nose poured blood. She didn’t see the next strike that backed her into her mother.
The girl doubled over as a second hit caught her in the gut and a kick to her knee dropped her to the floor. Payton grunted in anguish as the blows rained down on her body. The Hunter struggled to keep herself conscious as a powerful boot landed on her temple. Payton felt a searing flash of pain and with it came the blissful peace of oblivion.
Payton came to rather sluggishly, her senses telling her she was in the kitchen and not going much of anywhere. The Hunter pulled up on the chair with her forearms trying to snap either the ropes or the chair, both held fast. Her binding weren’t actually ropes but rather broken cords from appliances Max had destroyed.
Either way, they bit into her wrists and ankles as she struggled to free herself. If she could get a little space she could easily break the chair but the bindings were so tight she was unable to move. The girl looked about her for anything she could use to cut the cords.
Her eyes came across the stove clock, as far as she could tell she’d been out for less than 15 minutes, not long, but even that was more than enough time for Max to do his dirty work. The kitchen wall blocked her view of the living room and the Hunter tried to inch her way to the door by bouncing her chair forward. If she had more time she could create a spell to free herself but that took considerably longer than Payton had. The teen perked her ears when she heard talking in the living room.
"It’s the most freeing experience. Shedding mortality is like being born again." Max said. Payton listened intently to her mother’s response which included some degrading remark about Max’s ancestry and just where he could shove his offer. The Hunter would have laughed at her mother’s brazenness if the situation wasn’t so dire. As it was, Payton’s mother was probably only pissing him off, not the best idea in the world. Payton looked around for anything she could use, all that rested on the counter was a spoon.
There are knives in the drawer Payton’s smarter self said. Okay, I can open a drawer. Athena even said telekinesis was my strength. Too bad I’ve never moved anything bigger then a quarter. Okay, here we go.
Closing her eyes Payton began to clear her mind using a meditation technique Athena had taught her. She was only a fledgling witch but Athena had once said she was capable of powerful things, all she needed was discipline. Focusing on the drawer Payton envisioned it opening and a knife floating to her. It was of course more complex than that.
It was, or so Athena said, more accurately her energy calling to the knife’s energy and nature was the force keeping them apart. Payton had to go around nature convincing the knife that she was part of it and that it belonged over by her. Personally, the explanation was far too deep for her and Payton merely demanded the knife come to her by sheer force of will.
C’mon, gimme. Slowly she opened her eyes slightly surprised to feel the knife in her hands. If is survive this I have to thank Athena for those witchcraft lessons.
She managed to weaken one of the chords with the knife and pulled up snapping the chair arm and freeing herself. She freed her other wrist and untied her ankles in less time. Payton heard her mother scream just as the last chord fell from her legs. She dropped her foot down on the chair breaking it into several large pieces. She snapped the chair legs giving herself a decent stake and hopefully, a fighting chance.
The Hunter dashed to the living room ignoring the throbbing behind her eyes that threatened to make her head explode. Max’s teeth were deep into Meana’s throat when Payton rounded the corner to the living room. She raised her arm overhead and drove the stake into the vampire’s back, he didn’t disintegrate and Payton cursed realizing she’d managed to miss his heart.
Son of a…
He screamed in outrage backhanding her roughly and making Payton’s head reel with the impact. The vampire reached behind and pulled the stake from his back tossing it to the ground and glaring murderously at the Hunter. Payton charged at him narrowly missing a vicious kick that would have broken ribs.
She roundhouse kicked him in the head and went in close range delivering a powerful knee to his stomach. The blow lifted him off his feet and as he dropped back to the ground Payton cracked him in the temple with a right hook. In her peripheral vision she saw her mother slowly rise from the couch, the woman wobbled dangerously before collapsing to her knees.
"Mom!" The Hunter rushed to her mother hoping to get the woman to her feet. Her attention on Max slipped for a split second and he took advantage of it quickly standing up. Payton grabbed the stake from the floor and turned to face her enemy.
"I’d be more worried about yourself than your mother kid," Max advised as he threw a hook punch at her temple. Payton tapped the fist away and answered with her own to his throat.
"Bite me," she spat out as she blocked a kick.
"All in good time," Max promised as he grabbed the arm she’d blocked with and used it to flip her on her back. Payton kicked upward catching him in the groin. The Hunter flipped onto her feet and hook kicked the vampire in the head. He staggered back shaking his head to clear it. As Lex approached him he swung a staggering left cross landing it squarely in her broken nose. Payton cursed and axe kicked the vampire dropping him to the carpet.
"How’s that nose of yours kid?" He asked with a smirk from his position on the floor, seemingly unworried about his helpless position. Delivering a throaty kyai Payton dropped her foot onto his face grinning in animalistic satisfaction as she heard the cartilage of his nose break beneath the blow.
"How’s yours?" The Hunter asked raising her stake, he growled and before Payton could react the vampire had a knife out of his boot and shoved it deep into her calf. She screamed in anger and dropped to one knee slamming the stake toward his chest. He rolled out of the way and kicked the Hunter in the hand knocking the wooden stake from her grasp.
"Motherfucker," Payton stood and ripped the knife from her leg tossing it into the kitchen. The metal blade would do her little good against Max. Payton stepped back putting her hand over the wound as she moved. Max was up with startling speed using Payton’s distraction to get to his feet unhindered.
The brunette picked up the discarded poker but she hardly had a grip on the weapon before it too was kicked out of her hand. Max lunged at her and Payton used his momentum against him tossing him haphazardly into the wall.
The Hunter made for the poker determined to get a decent long range weapon. Max guessed her intentions and they both dove to the carpet trying to reach the weapon first. Their struggle knocked the poker away and Payton swore as Max gained a few more feet. The teen grabbed his hair and forced his head into the floor, crawling up his body to beat him.
The vampire grabbed her arm in a vice grip as her hand grasped the poker. He jerked his hand back bringing Payton’s fist into her face. She grunted in pain as he repeated the movement knocking the blow into her sternum. The Hunter dropped the poker and rolled off his back catching the tail end of a head butt. Her mother was not so lucky as Max caught her trying to sneak up on him. He grabbed the poker and whipped the spiked iron rod at her side landing the strike in her kidney.
Meana dropped to the ground and Payton pushed her away from the fight, trying to keep the woman safe. The Hunter flipped to her feet blocking an overhead strike with her forearm. The business end of the poker slid down her arm and across her eye, the blood effectively blinding Payton. She grunted as she felt the metal connect with the back of her leg and she went to one knee. The next blow came hard across her back and Payton fought the urge to scream as she felt the cut go deep.
The Hunter prepared for the blow that would finish her, confused when it didn’t come. She wiped the blood from her good eye and looked for the vampire. He was thrashing around madly trying to remove Meana whom had jumped on his back and was putting elbows between his shoulder blades.
Max ripped her mother from his shoulders throwing her to the carpet and held the poker overhead. Payton tackled him before he could complete the fatal blow her side sliding against the poker as she landed on him. He palmed her in the throat and the Hunter panicked as Max put a foot in her stomach and pushed. The girl flew six inches off the ground landing in the fireplace on the other side of the room.
Goddess he’s strong, my powers usually make this easy, Payton thought as she was pelted with carbon from the chimney.
The vampire stalked towards her a smile of victory playing on his bloody lips. The Hunter struggled to get out of the fireplace before he cornered in the small confinement. Her side was bleeding heavily and she already felt weak from loss of blood, it was no wonder he was smiling so happily.
"This won’t end with me," Payton said lifting her chin in defiance as he boxed her in.
"You’re right little girl, you’re just the first in a long line of Hunters who are going to die screaming by my hand," Max said readying himself to make the final strike.
"You’re wrong about one thing Max," Payton said as she caught sight of her mother standing up. The woman picked up the discarded stake and quietly moved up behind the vampire.
"Really and what’s that?" Payton reached into her pocket feeling the vial of holy water. She wriggled the cork top free and pulled her hand from her pocket hiding the vial in her palm.
"I’m not the one who’s going to die screaming." The Hunter flung the contents of the vial at his eyes and kicked him in the stomach. He backed up holding his face with one hand and maintaining his white knuckled grip on the poker with the other. Meana tossed Payton the stake and the Hunter raised the weapon ready to strike.
The twitch of Max’s elbow warned her and the teen bent backward the poker passing frighteningly close to her face. Her mother wasn’t fast enough and Meana collapsed as the poker caught her in the neck tearing the soft skin. Payton flinched as a warm spray of blood caught her in the face.
"No!" The Hunter grabbed for Max’s arm twisting the poker free and breaking his wrist in the process. She swung her legs behind his and kicked his feet from beneath him. Payton grabbed him by the collar and drove her fist into his face putting all of her considerable strength into the blow. He growled angrily and used his good hand to grab Payton’s wounded side.
"Get off superbitch," Payton took his hand in hers and made a fist crushing all the bones in his hand. The Hunter straddled his waist and drove the stake deep into his chest. He screamed in outrage as his body disintegrated and Payton stood slowly dusting off her hands.
"I told you so." Payton’s attention immediately turned to her mother and she gathered the woman in her arms.
"Payton?" Her mother asked her voice weak. The woman held a hand loosely over the wound which poured blood freely.
"Yeah, it’s me, I’m taking you to the hospital," Payton said as she lifted her mother off the floor. Normally with her Hunter Strength lifting the woman would have been easy but Payton was smart enough to realize she was in rough shape. Her mother felt leaden in her arms and the Hunter stumbled as she grabbed the car keys from the rack.
"Hang on Mom, it’s going to be okay," Payton comforted as she gently sat her mother in the passenger seat. The car was a Mustang Payton had gotten for her 16th birthday seven months ago. It had taken a little money and none too few hours spent working in the garage to get into shape and it was one of Payton’s prized possessions.
The Hunter hopped over Meana’s slumped form and the gearshift slipping easily into the driver’s seat. The girl used an elbow to steer and speed dialled her Dhaskalos from her cell phone.
"Athena, my mother was attacked. No, vampire, I don’t know she’s bleeding badly. I’m driving to the hospital now. I’ll be there in a couple of minutes. I’ll meet you there. Thanks Athena." Payton glanced worriedly at her mother as she increased her speed to catch a light. The Hunter prayed to every god listening as she sped down the highway into the enclosing night.
"This it?" Lex questioned tersely motioning with her head to show she meant the ghost car sitting in the parking lot.
"Yeah," the woman answered as she opened the door to the car in question. Lex ducked her head to get in all the while keeping Athena’s body as still as possible. Her wounds were bleeding badly, the first towel was already soaked through and the second layer was near saturation.
"Where’s your partner?" Lex asked Doucette as the woman started the car.
"He’ll stay on the scene until they can round up a rookie or two to tape it off and guard the apartment," she answered pulling away from the building. Lex found herself wishing they were already at the hospital. She was about to suggest Doucette step on it when she realized they were pushing 140 kilometres an hour. It couldn’t have been more than seven minutes from their departure that Lex kicked open the doors to the ER.
Two doctors were beside her in seconds with a nurse wheeling a gurney their way. Lex gently placed her Dhaskalos down and walked with the women as they wheeled her into the trauma room.
"You’ll have to wait out here," one nurse said as they pushed her guardian through the double doors.
"But…" Lex protested, the argument stopped in her throat when a gentle but firm hand landed on her shoulder.
"C’mon, you watching won’t help anyone," Doucette said steering the teen toward the waiting room. "Hey you’re bleeding," she said gently pushing Lex forward so she could get a better look.
"I’m fine, it’s nothing," Lex said drawing away from the woman’s inspection.
"You should get it checked out, come on," Doucette ordered taking the Hunter’s arm and pulling her toward a cluster of nurses.
"Carol, can you have a look at this girl’s head please?" Doucette said addressing a middle aged blonde woman. The nurse excused herself from the group and walked up to Lex and Doucette.
"What have you brought me this time Chantelle?" The woman asked looking at Lex with a critical eye. The Hunter felt uncomfortably like a bug under a microfying glass.
"Niece of the woman in trauma two," Doucette said giving Lex a push toward the nurse. "Got cut up somewhere."
"Look, I’m really okay, I don’t need to see a… Owww, stop that," Lex said as the nurse moved her hair to the side revealing the wound from the demon’s strike.
"Hold still please, Chantelle grab me Dr. Patton would you?" The nurse led Lex to a curtained area and motioned for her to sit on the bed.
"Why don’t you take off your coat?" Lex sighed but did as she was asked placing her duster beside her on the bed.
"I really think I should be with my Aunt," the Hunter argued as the nurse began clipping back pieces of hair to keep them away from the cut.
"The doctors are doing their best for her, you need to let us take care of you. Here’s Dr. Patton now, thanks Chantelle."
"Lexina Ballard I presume," the doctor said looking at the dark haired girl.
"Yeah. Look I’ve already told both Officer Doucette and the nurse that I don’t need help, I just want to be with my Aunt," Lex explained trying to make the thick headed medics understand.
"I understand Lexina we’re just going to take a look and see if you need stitches or a cat scan. You have to be careful with head wounds. Now Carol is going to ask you some questions while I have a look back here, okay?"
"Fine, but can we make this quick?" The nurse gave Lex a smile and a nod before commencing her round of questions.
"Are you taking any medication?"
"Are you allergic to any medicines like penicillin?"
"No, owww," Lex turned to glare at the doctor who gave his best conciliatory smile.
"Have you had any head injuries, surgery or health problems?" Lex thought about the question for a second. There were the injuries she’d sustained with her mother, and of course the arrow that had ripped through her shoulder last month, as well as everything else that had happened on the night of chaos.
And that crazy demon flue I caught in June, that had been nasty.
"Nope, nothing but the usual teenage bumps and bruises," the Hunter said with a grin. The nurse raised an eyebrow and went through the rest of her questions. An hour later Lex was sent on her way with a fresh set of stitches and a promise to return in a few days for a check up.
"All done?" Doucette asked appearing suddenly at Lex’s elbow.
Geeze, I must be out of it, I didn’t even sense her coming.
"Yep, what are you still doing here?"
"Keeping an eye on your Aunt," the woman answered as they walked toward the waiting room.
"Why don’t you have a seat, I’ll be right back."
Lex nodded and sat on a comfortable looking couch. Doucette disappeared for a few minutes and returned laden with two cups of coffee. She handed one to Lex without a word before sitting on the arm of the couch.
"She’s not going to make it is she?" Lex asked quietly as she stared into the steaming brown liquid. Athena had lost a frightening amount of blood and hadn’t regained consciousness since the apartment. Her lacerations had been deep and it was entirely possible her organs had taken some damage. If she was a Hunter she’d have a decent shot but her small Dhaskalos was only human and didn’t have any healing powers.
I should contact Siobhan, maybe she can help.
"It’s hard to say," Doucette answered interrupting Lex’s thoughts. Lex nodded she hadn’t expected a straight answer.
"Thanks for the coffee," Lex said as she sipped at it. She finished it off with a final gulp and put the cup on the floor. She put her head in her hands fighting back the sobs that threatened to erupt.
I can’t do this again.
Her real life had died with her mother, but even this, this life of constant fighting and sore muscles and emotional scars was something she constantly fought to keep. Without Athena there was nothing holding her here.
Despite her best intentions Lex knew her concern for her duty would dwindle if her Dhaskalos wasn’t there to constantly remind her of its importance. After all, what were her powers worth if twice she couldn’t save the life of the people she loved? She did love Athena, despite her harsh teaching methods and bristly personality the woman was the most important thing in her life.
Whoever’s listening, please, I can’t lose her. She’s all I’ve got left. Lex silently pleaded as a lone tear escaped her eye.
"Lexina?" A male voice asked. Lex lifted her head to see a doctor dressed in scrubs that had been stained a deep red. The Hunter felt her stomach heave at the sight, that was her Dhaskalos’ blood.
"Yes?" She asked standing up and absently running a hand through her hair to order it.
"Your Aunt is being transported to the OR. She’s lost a lot of blood but we managed to get her pressure up with some transfusions," he explained, "there was an extensive amount of internal bleeding and her kidney was irreparably damaged."
"Is she going to live?" Lex questioned her voice betraying her fears.
"It’s touch and go, but if she pulls through the operation she’s got a chance. Post op infection may be a problem but we’ll do all we can for her," the doctor assured. Lex nodded in thanks and sat down as the man left the room.
"You don’t have to stay you know," Lex said turning to Doucette who sat quietly on the couch. She didn’t really want the woman to go but the Hunter was sure she had more important things to do than baby-sit.
"You don’t have any other family close by do you?" She asked, quickly checking the brief report she’d had Lex give while they had waited for the doctor. The girl shook her head with a small sigh.
"I don’t feel comfortable leaving you by yourself. Do you have any friends you can call?"
"I think I have someone," Lex said reluctantly, she didn’t want to call, the woman would be sound asleep by now. Not that she had a choice, there was no one else and Doucette wouldn’t leave until Lex had another companion.
"I’ll be back in a sec," Lexina stood and walked out into the hallway flipping open her cell phone and dialling the number.
"Ugh…Hello?" A groggy voice picked up. Lex fought the urge to hang up but she needed someone to watch Athena. The longer she waited in the hospital the colder her leads got and the less chance she had of finding her Dhaskalos’ assailant.
"It’s me," Lexina said doubting she’d need to identify herself.
"Lexina, what’s happened?" Siobhan asked her voice seeming more alert.
"I need help."
Siobhan knocked on the doorway before entering the waiting room. Lex was up immediately though not without a startled grunt. Her usually clear ice blue eyes were dark rimmed and bloodshot. The leather coat she favoured was rumpled looking along with every other piece of clothing she wore.
Siobhan slowly walked over to the girl fully aware the Hunter’s reflexes were still on high but her thoughts probably weren’t quite clear. If she wasn’t careful she would end up looking at the teenager from the flat of her back.
"Hey," she said in greeting, "how are you doing?" For a split second Siobhan saw the extent of the young warrior’s pain. Before she could determine whether it was real or her imagination it was gone and Lex had the neutral mask she so often wore back in place.
"Better than Athena," the brunette answered.
"And how is she?" Siobhan asked though she was a little afraid of the answer. If they were in the ICU her friend couldn’t be doing terribly well.
"Comatose." Lex said her voice toneless. "The doctors aren’t sure she’s going to wake up and even if she does there’s no way of telling if she’s going to make a full recovery."
"I’m sorry Lexina," she moved toward her friend’s charge but the brunette moved away with a small shrug.
"I consider this lucky, my mom never made it this far."
"What happened?" Siobhan asked. She had heard vague accounts of the elder Ballard’s death but the young woman had never discussed it directly. The raven-haired teen sat heavily onto a couch putting her feet on the table. She stayed silent for a long while and Siobhan had given up on an answer when the Hunter spoke.
"She was attacked at our apartment," Lex said looking up at her from bloodshot eyes.
"I meant with your Mother," Siobhan clarified as she sat on the coffee table facing the Hunter.
"She was attacked at our house."
Siobhan mouthed a silent 'oh’ and began inspecting the back of her hands. "Lexina, have you ever talked about your mother? I mean, did you ever go to a therapist?" The glare Lex levelled at her was barely short of homicidal and she fought the urge to shrink away. Siobhan could feel the hurt and anger coming off the girl, something had to be done before she exploded.
"I don’t need a shrink," the Hunter said standing and turning to the window.
"I didn’t mean it to be a negative, this isn’t healthy. You should talk about your mother’s death. I know it must’ve been hard to find her by yourself…"
"Who told you I found her?" Lexina asked still looking outside.
"What? I don’t… I’m sorry, I just assumed."
"I didn’t find my mother lying dead in the kitchen or the living room or whatever the hell it is that you heard from Athena or your guy’s sources."
"Then what Lexina? What went on that night?"
"I came home, my Mom’s boyfriend Max came over about an hour later. I knew something was wrong but I didn’t say anything. Long story short my Mom ended up dead, I ended up hospitalized and no amount of talking about my feelings is god damn well going to change that." Lex spat out the word 'feelings’ the way she might a bad piece of fruit and gave the wall a punch.
"No, but it might help you deal and maybe move on," Siobhan said her voice slightly louder than she intended. She wouldn’t make any headway if she put the stubborn girl on the defensive.
"Deal with what? That I was an incompetent airheaded little bitch who couldn’t save her mother?"
"No, that you were a frightened teenage girl who had something horrible happen to her."
"I’d rather take the incompetent rap thanks. Now if we’re through with the psychoanalysis, I have to take care of this. Can you stay with Athena?"
"Of course? Where are you going?"
"To see what I can find out while the trail is still warm."
"Any ideas how you’re going to get your information?"
"I thought I might try violence," Siobhan nodded. "Can you do something for her? A healing spell or something?"
"Spells of that magnitude are very dangerous Lexina," the Hunter pleaded with her eyes. "I’ll see what can I do."
The Hunter gave her a half smile and a piece of paper with her cell number on it.
"Thank you, call me if there’s a change in her condition,’" she said. "I’ll be back in a few hours." Lex walked quickly from the room trying to push most of the conversation from her mind. It was hard enough for Siobhan to have brought up her mother at a time like this but what was worse was that some of her comments had struck a chord.
Besides the hospital psychiatrist and the police she’d never actually talked about her mother’s death, not even to Athena. It had been a survival mechanism to wall off that part of herself and she could ill afford to have that wall come down now. She’d be no good to Athena or anyone else if she reverted to 'frightened teenage girl’ mode and she was determined not to fail again.
The vampire ran down the crowded downtown street pushing people out of the way as he tried to escape his pursuer. The girl behind him moved with a speed that rivalled his own making him very nervous. Only one of the Thirteen would be able to match his gait and that meant he was in considerable trouble. He spared a look backwards bowling over an elderly pair as he did so. The girl was coming at him at a dead sprint somehow avoiding the people in front of her with a grace he couldn’t even think to imitate.
He faced forward again and cut across the street narrowly avoiding several collisions as the light turned green. He dashed for the subway jumping flights of stairs at a time. The Hunter’s heavy steps echoed loudly at the entrance and for a second he thought he’d lost her. Suddenly she was sliding down the middle stair rail and doing a flip in the air that landed her neatly beside him. He moved to run but she grabbed his collar and flung him into the wall.
"Hey! You two!" A security guard yelled as he ran toward them snapping out his club. "No fighting down here, take that upstairs."
"Help, she’s trying to kill me," the vampire screamed pushing away from the wall and moving to the guard.
"I wasn’t trying," Lex said with an innocent shrug right before giving him a malicious grin. "I was succeeding."
"Alright Miss, just calm down," the guard said putting his considerable bulk in front of the vampire dwarfing the undead man.
"I am calm and I wouldn’t let him stand behind you like that if I were you." The Hunter warned advancing on the pair. The guard didn’t realize what had happened until he was looking up at the girl from the floor. His head spun and he shook it to clear his thoughts. When he looked again the girl was chasing the man nipping close at his heels. He only hoped the brunette’s fist hadn’t left a mark.
The vampire forced the doors of the subway train open breathing in a small sigh of relief as the train began to move. The Hunter rounded the corner to the tracks a split second later and he could see the curse fall from her lips. The hero had had to stop to rescue a kid who’d fallen on the track, losing precious seconds in the process. He waved at the blue-eyed girl who sneered in response.
The train picked up speed and he sat on a chair glaring at his seat companion until the young woman moved away. He heard a thump somewhere along the car and paid it no attention, these cars tended to be full of mysterious noises. He closed his eyes and relaxed: he could pick off a straggler, feed and be home long before dawn. Not to mention he had bragging rights about being the only vampire in his group to face a Shadow Hunter and survive.
Come to think of it, that’s probably why the gang is so small now. He was deep in one of his Hunter killing fantasies when someone tapped his shoulder.
"Mind your fingers if you want to keep them," he said with a growl before opening his eyes. "Ah shit." The Hunter sat beside him her cheeks red and her hair windblown.
"We need to have a chat," the girl said pulling a stake from her coat and resting it on her knee.
"What do you want to know?" He asked nervously as he shifted away from her slightly.
"Tisk, tisk. It’s rude to discuss private matters in a public place." The Hunter grabbed his shoulder and squeezed digging her fingers beneath his shoulder blade. "You don’t mind if we talk somewhere more isolated do you?"
"Not at all," he ground out, his eyes flashing amber. Lex eased her grip a little, it wouldn’t help if she sent the other passengers into a panic by making the leech put on his game face.
"Good, I didn’t think so." The train slowed to a halt and the Hunter pulled him to his feet. "C’mon, time to go," she maintained her grip on his shoulder and pushed him out the door, her stake back in some secret pocket.
"This is St. Paul Street," he said nervously as they walked up the steps to the street.
"Why yes, it is," the Hunter said as if that had just occurred to her.
"But that’s where old St. Paul’s church is," the vampire argued trying to pull free of his captor.
"You don’t say," she feigned surprise. Once they were at street level she released his shoulder and took his hand. To anyone passing they would look like a young couple going to a late mass. It was only those who looked at their linked hands more closely that would see she held him with a bone crushing grip.
"Listen leech, I’m tired, sore and in one hell of a bad mood. You made me chase your ass over half the god damn city, jump on top of a train, which I might add gave me a bitch of a case of windburn, and I had to destroy public property to get into the cabin. I have no intention of making this easy, now keep moving or you’re going to find a cross shoved so far up…"
"I get, I get it," he said hurriedly as he picked up his pace. The Hunter grinned and turned them toward the church.
"I know you know something you little blood sucker," Lex said angrily as she snapped a punch into the vampire’s face. He shook his head vehemently putting his hands up in a submissive gesture.
"Hunter, I swear I don’t know anything," he protested as he was tossed into a wall. He screamed bloody murder as Lex dunked his head in a bath of holy water. "Look, why would I lie?" He asked as she pulled his sopping wet head out of the water.
"Oh I don’t know: could it be because you’re an evil blood sucking creature of the night?"
"I’m an evil bloodsucking creature that wants to live. Lying to you isn’t exactly healthy."
"You’re right, it’s not, so I suggest you start talking."
"Okay look, I might know a little something, but you have to swear you won’t kill me," he stated with a touch of confidence. Lex put his head back in the water watching as the skin blistered beneath the clear surface.
"First of all, you’re in no position to bargain and second I never make promises I’m not sure I can keep," Lex said as she took his head out and tossed him into a row of pews. The Hunter grabbed him roughly by the collar and pushed him toward the altar. She delivered a vicious blow to the back of his legs dropping him to his knees. He gulped in fear as he glanced up at the large crucifix looming overhead.
"There’s this new demon in town, been here a few months. Rumour has it he’s big, I’ve never seen him and don’t know anyone who has," he said turning his eyes to the Hunter. "Underground says a couple of demons have gone missing in the forest and some more in the sewers, no one really cares to look for them though so could be they skipped town."
"A name," Lex demanded.
"I don’t know," he claimed. Cold fury flared in colder blue eyes as she stepped menacingly towards him stake upraised. "Azriel, Azriel, that’s his name!" He yelled hysterically, Lex stopped her arm millimetres before her stake hit the vampire’s chest. "That’s all I know, I swear." Lex frowned but her gut told her he was telling the truth.
"You better not let me hear otherwise," Lex stated. She picked the vampire up and tossed him in the direction of the nearest door. "Get out of town, if I ever see you again…" Lex let the sentence hang in the air as she played with the stake in her hand. The vampire adopted a wide-eyed look before nodding his head and beating a hasty retreat.
She’d give him a ten second head start before she went after him. The Hunt wouldn’t be any fun otherwise.
The Hunter quietly made her way through the halls of the hospital grabbing a small hand towel from the shelves as she walked. She wadded the cloth in her hand marvelling at how quickly the blood began to soak through. The cut wasn’t deep enough to warrant stitches but it was bleeding considerably more than she’d originally thought.
The wire fence had caught her across the palm when she’d vaulted over on patrol. The cemeteries had been unnaturally deserted tonight and Lex was a little worried. If they weren’t in their crypts they were out feeding and it was likely there’d be more than the usual amount of corpses in the morgue by morning.
Lexina walked into the waiting room hanging her head as she saw Siobhan’s form sprawled on the couch. The woman was breathing deeply and Lex debated whether to wake her up. It was nearly three am and she’d likely sleep better in her own bed than on a cheap hospital couch.
"Yes..." She seemed out of it. "Yes, I’m up, sorry." The Hunter smiled at the older woman and sat down next to her.
"No problem. I don’t suppose her condition changed."
"No, her blood pressure dropped but it normalized quickly. She’s basically in the same shape as before."
"Damn." The witch put a hand on her shoulder.
"She’s strong, I’ve known her since before you were born, she’s too stubborn to die." Lex nodded resting her head on the woman’s shoulder as she was pulled into a hug. It was then that Siobhan noticed the blood soaked towel wrapped around Lex’s hand.
"By the gods, what have you done to yourself this time?" Lex felt a tug as Siobhan’s words brought up memories of Athena saying nearly the same thing not long ago. Still she managed to answer without breaking into tears the way she wanted to.
"Just cut myself on a fence."
"Let me see," she said unwrapping the towel. "It’s deep but I think with your Powers you can get away without stitches." The witch picked up her purse pulling out a pouch, a bottle of water and a roll of gauze. She used a cup from the water dispenser to mix the contents of the pouch and the water making a paste. She applied it to Lex’s palm and wrapped the gauze around the poultice.
"That should do it. Change the wrap in a couple of hours." The healing witch handed Lex a fresh roll of gauze. The Hunter smile in thanks.
"You’re a walking first aid kit." Siobhan laughed.
"What good is a healer without supplies?"
"You should go home, I’ll stay with Athena." Siobhan nodded and stood.
"Did you get anything out of your hunt?"
"A name, I think it might’ve been the demon that’s been stalking me," Lex said. She should’ve made more of an effort to find it, if she had her Dhaskalos might very well be safe rather than lying in a hospital bed.
"It’s not your fault," Siobhan stated, as an empath she could sense the young woman’s guilt and wished she could relieve her of it.
"My fault or not I’ve got to find this thing, I have to make this right." Siobhan nodded placing a hand on the Hunter’s shoulder.
"You need to rest first, regroup. Call me if there’s anything you need."
"I will, thank you."
"Yes?" Lex looked up from the book she’d purchased in the gift shop and raised an eyebrow at the woman.
"You can see your Aunt now if you’d like," the doctor said motioning for Lexina to follow her.
"Great," Lex got up and tossed her coat over her arm and put her book into her pants pocket.
"It’s this way," the woman stated already on the move. Lex followed obediently behind keeping her gait short so as not to overrun the short doctor.
"Do you know if she’ll wake up?"
"We’re quite hopeful she’ll be awake within the next few weeks and make a full recovery."
"She has good brain activity and physically she should recover normally, barring infection of course. Here we are." The doctor opened the door and held it open for Lex to pass through.
"Oh goddess, Athena." Her Dhaskalos looked shrunken in the small bed and masses of tubes were coming from her nose and arms. The usually fair complexion was unnaturally pale rivalling the bed sheets for whiteness. Lex approached the bed nervously, in all the time she’d known Athena not once had the Dhaskalos seemed weak. Now, she was more helpless than Lex would have ever thought possible.
As she stood in the doorway Lex realized how wrong this situation was. A Dhaskalos was supposed to outlive their Hunter, not the other way around. Since the beginning it had been the duty of the Dhaskalos to continue on after their Hunters death, training others. Athena couldn’t die; it was against nature.
"You should talk to her," the doctor suggested bringing Lex from her musings. "A familiar voice might help."
"Yeah, maybe," Lex said absently as she sat in one of the visitor’s chairs and placed her coat on her lap.
"I’ll come back and check on you in a little while," with that assurance the doctor left the two women alone.
"Athena, I’m so sorry," Lex said finally as she grasped her Dhaskalos’ hand. "I failed again. I never should’ve been chosen, the Powers made a mistake, I can’t even protect you how am I supposed to protect the world?" She asked putting her head on the mattress next to Athena’s hand. "I’ll make this right Athena, I promise."
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