Spoilers/Timeline: Very AU. Set many years post series.
A/N: Special thanks to yellowsmurf6 and bara_brith for the beta, and widget007 for the title.
She felt a sharp pain as fangs sank into her throat and found her jugular. Warm blood, along with her life, was drained from her body as she took her last few breaths. She died in the arms of a beautiful woman… a stranger.
She had expected death to be painful… but waking up after death was more painful than she could ever have imagined.
She stumbled into the night, feeling confused; feeling lost; feeling hungry… Her clothes were torn and dirty. She smelled of the two-day old garbage she’d woken up in. The pain that had threatened to turn her inside out had lessened until it only threatened to split her head open. Though in a fog, she made the correct turns to go home, instinct guiding her.
The gangbangers were high… and horny. They saw her as easy prey.
They couldn’t have been more wrong.
“You don’t want to do this,” she told them. “Please… don’t…” she pleaded.
The five of them closed in on her anyway.
Her body seemed to move faster than thought. The first two dropped, their necks broken. The next two flew into opposite walls of the alley, chests already crushed. The last one showing surprise… and confusion as his own switchblade was used to sever his carotid artery. He never saw her eyes turn an unnatural luminescent blue or her canines elongate into razor sharp fangs. He only felt his life slip away with the final beats of his heart.
Before she could form a thought to stop herself, she closed her lips over the source of the crimson geyser and drank deeply, keeping his body upright with her grip on his shoulders. When she’d had her fill his heart had already stopped beating. She let go of his shoulders and his body simply crumpled at her feet.
She stared at the five bodies littering the ground around her… and felt sick to her stomach. Her mind rebelled at what her body had done.
Having somehow made it home, she stripped her foul smelling clothes and stepped into her shower stall. Tepid water sluiced the grime from her hair and skin, but she still felt soiled as she climbed into bed. She prayed to a god she wasn’t sure she believed in.
“I’ll do whatever you want if you just make tonight go away…”
She woke up with the worst migraine she’d ever had. The sunlight filtering through the drapes was much too bright. She stumbled to the window. As she reached to shut out the thin ribbon of light coming through the small gap of the drapes she snapped her hand back as if she’d touched a hot stove. It burned!
Every thought, every image, every action, every sensation of the night before came rushing in… in full Technicolor.
She barely made it to the bathroom before her stomach rebelled. Long after her stomach emptied itself, she still fought the dry heaves. Her ribs ached. Finally she stopped. She slowly pushed herself to the sink where she rinsed her mouth out with water.
The nightmare had been real! The beautiful, dark seductress from the club had been a monster.
She lifted her head and looked in the mirror, taking in her haunted visage. “Guess the myth about mirrors is just that,” she said ruefully. She looked pale. But after having been so sick she’d expect to be. She leaned in and peered at the two puncture wounds on her throat.
She clenched her jaw and ground her teeth together. “I refuse to be a monster.”
But you’ve already killed, supplied her conscience.
She refused to leave her house for days, growing sicker and weaker as each day passed. The pain of hunger twisted like a knife within her, but she would not give in. She was too weak to leave her bed when someone broke into her home on the sixth day.
It was with gentleness that a pair of slender hands quickly ran over her body, checking for injury, then held her head up and brought a cup to her dry, chapped lips. Weakly she tried to pull away when the thick liquid passed her lips.
“Shhh. You need blood to survive.”
“It’s okay – it’s not human blood.”
The last of her willpower left her and she drank.
It was dark when she woke up, but she could clearly see the stranger sitting in the chair in the corner of her bedroom.
“Who the hell are you?”
The stranger smiled. “I’ve gone by a number of names, but you can call me Mel.”
“What are you doing in my home?”
“Saving your life.”
The stranger sighed. “To make up for a mistake.”
She sat up and glared at ‘Mel.’ “What mistake?”
“The one who did this to you, the one who turned you… she was my mistake.”
“What do you mean?”
She saw pain in Mel’s eyes as she answered. “I thought… She said she loved me… and I believed her. She begged me to turn her so that we could always be together.” Mel’s voice cracked and she felt sorry for her. “But after I did she became… enamored with the power rather than me.”
“But why save me? I mean… I’m not exactly innocent. I killed five people.”
“You killed in self-defense. I spoke to someone to who witnessed the attack on you. Five men attacked you – after you warned them not to. You did nothing until they tried to hurt you first. You’re a good person. There’s no reason to let you die. You can survive on cow and pig’s blood. You don’t have to take human blood – I don’t. You can live without harming anyone and still give back.”
She looked at Mel a few moments in silence, contemplating her words. “Will you teach me how?” she finally asked.
Mel returned her look, measuring her. “Yes.”
Mel stayed and taught her the ways of survival; the ways of living without harming; the ways of prospering; the ways of giving back. And though Mel was mostly a solitary soul, she introduced her to others of their kind. She was shown an entire new world… hidden within plain sight.
She came home and found Mel preparing to leave. “Where are you going?”
“It’s time for me to go – past time. I’ve taught you all I know. I’ve stayed much longer than I should have. I have to go after Rey.”
“I understand.” She paused. “I’ll go with you.”
“It’s not your fight.”
She moved to stand in front the more experienced vampire and gazed into her naturally blue eyes. “You’re my friend, so, yes, it is. You can either accept my help, or take off on your own knowing I’ll follow. Your choice.”
Mel looked into her eyes and saw the truth of her words. And for the first time in more years than she cared to admit, was glad for the company. She nodded. “Alright.”
Day after day, week after week, month after month they traveled together to towns, outposts and through the frontier, following word and rumor of Rey.
Finally, the day of reckoning had come. Mel had located Rey. Though infinitely grateful for the younger vampire’s companionship, she knew the coming confrontation had to be between her and Rey. So she waited until her companion was asleep and then slipped away.
Mel landed almost silently, dropping from the roof of the three-story building.
Rey turned and smirked. “Well, well, well, look what the cat dragged in,” she sneered.
“Lisa. Or is it Katherine, or–”
“Mel for now.”
Mel shrugged. “At least it’s more imaginative than Rey.”
Rey stood with hands on hips. “My choice of moniker is not why you’re here.”
“No, it’s not. I’m here to stop you.”
Rey scoffed, “And you think you can?”
“I will… or die trying.”
Without warning the two vampires launched at each other, moving at a speed that made them nothing but a blur to the human eye. The combatants were evenly matched, with neither achieving a clear advantage. One fighting for what was right… one fighting for survival.
The instinct for survival finally tipped the balance. In the end Mel lie on the ground mortally wounded.
Rey looked down at Mel… her ex-lover. She fought to catch her breath. “You never embraced the power! You’ve never felt the rush of human blood singing through your soul! There’s so much you’ve missed out on! You know, things could have been different, we could have worked out if only you were open to the possibilities!”
Rey didn’t know if she actually expected a response, but she got one. However, it was not one she could have imagined. She looked down at the stake suddenly protruding from her chest, a stake which had been driven through her from behind. “Fuck.” She dropped to her knees and then turned to dust.
She knelt next to Mel, gently taking her head into her lap and tenderly caressing her cheek. “Mel?”
“Re… Rey… Reyes?”
“It’s okay, Mel, she’s dead.”
Mel slowly shook her head. “Not… not Mel… Da… Dana.”
She lifted her wrist to her mouth and tore the flesh with her fangs, causing the blood to flow, then pressed it to Dana’s lips. “Drink.”
“Yes. Your days of being alone are over, Dana.” She bent down and placed a tender kiss on Dana’s cheek. “I love you,” she whispered in her ear.
Dana looked up into the younger woman’s eyes when she pulled back and saw the truth of her words. And the walls she’d built around heart over the last 116 years crumbled. She grasped the proffered wrist and fed, feeling life return to her body and soul as she drank Jess’s blood.