Graham had called Evey and Will from his car and given them the update. Where the drug ring was going to meet and what was going down. He rubbed his eyes as he hid his car a good distance away. Sneaking up not too close so they wouldn't notice him so he could get some pictures as evidence. One never had too much evidence.
God, he was so tired.
He found his perch, gave Evey a quick call to let him know where he was and stayed in place, watching the ancillae and solis package and prepare the shipment.
There were at least twenty he could see that were working on the shipment, making rounds from a derelict warehouse that probably hadn't been used since they set up their operation. It was easy enough to pick out the vampires; they looked bored and were more often than not just standing around, barking orders to the eagerly working ancillae. One particularly large solis stood by the entrance to the warehouse, inspecting each package carefully as it passed her.
"This is no good!" she growled. "You can see the bottles! Take it back!"
The ancilla carrying the box scurried back inside without question, keeping his head low and averting his gaze from the others while he went to fix it. The detective's cell vibrated, a text coming in from Will: "We're directly across from you on the roof."
Brendan texted back quickly: "Excellent. I've gotten some pictures. Tell Evey to take some more. The chief should be here soon with the SWAT team and lots of back up."
Graham strained his listening, writing down things he heard said, anything that would help give him any more information. He would have to get one of the bottles and take it to Cei so she could test it and tell them what it was. He doubted the boys in the lab would be able to make much of it, since it was probably supposed to affect vampires as well as humans.
Barely five minutes after that the police had pulled up and poured out of their cars. Brendan grinned. He had told them not to have the sirens sounding because the dealers could've tried to make an escape (the CPD didn't know half their dealers were vampires and could run faster than normal), and that they probably had escape routes in case of a bust.
So when the cops came in, the SWAT team at the head, shouting orders to drop weapons and the drugs, the solis and ancillae were caught completely off guard.
Brendan hoped that they wouldn't try to attack the cops. Things would get very, very messy if they did. Still, prepared for that inevitability, Graham prepared to jump off and attack any vampire that tried anything.
It was little surprise that the large cruenta by the door didn't hesitate to attack, and with her lead the other vampires followed. Though they couldn't use any of their vampiric abilities in the daylight, they still didn't want to go down without a fight. The ancillae huddled together in scattered groups unless one of the solis shouted at them to do something, and even still they were no match for the well-trained officers.
Brendan cursed. He leaped down from the room, landed where no one he hoped had seen him and rushed toward the cops, pulling out his gun. The SWAT team shot several of the solis after telling them to stand down. What was freaking them out of course was the fact that the solis didn't stay down.
As far as the CPD knew these were humans. Humans don't stand up after being shot in the kneecaps.
A couple of ancillae were shot and stayed down, but the solis, who attacking the cops more avidly, wouldn't. Brendan punched the hell out of one who had managed to take the gun away from a cop. He took the gun and emptied it into the solis's neck, hoping to at least partially severe the neck so it would have a hard time getting up. Hopefully it would be down long enough for Will and Evey to get there and take care of the solis that were injured and trying to heal themselves before they could.
"Aim for their necks!" Brendan shouted at the SWAT team that was struggling with the solis attacking them. The SWAT weapons were more powerful. They could probably severe a neck entirely if they were in close enough range. The SWAT guys had tried fighting hand to hand, but found they were losing fast against the strength of these men and women half their size.
The bust had turned into a shoot out and a brawl. Fucking vampires.
Will had decided it wasn't worth it to wait for the solis to wander off to heal; it was too dangerous. Knowing he would likely be spotted, the hunter decided he had to get into the middle of the fray. Guns just weren't as effective against cruenti as his sword, and they needed to get this under control. It was a risk on his part, but that happens when you hunt something that most people don't believe exists.
Moving away from Evey and more into the open, Will set his sights on the female vampire that seemed to be the one in charge. She saw him at about the same time, growled something incoherent and lunged. The hunter shook his head, avoiding the attack and slicing through her neck with one smooth motion. She was young, as far as vampires go, and obviously had never encountered a professional hunter before. At least the toughest of the lot was down.
Brendan tried to keep the officers busy so they wouldn't notice Will hacking off heads. He was going to have to steal most of these bodies so they could be burned later. Lord, if cruenti didn't want to be known by the whole city why do something like this and fucking announce themselves?
Evey helped a few of the police officers being overwhelmed by pulling weapons away from the ancillae and solis and shoving a few around enough for the cops to get the advantage again.
"Vi-aych! Vi-aych!" one of the solis shouted just before Will decapitated him. Whatever he had meant, the other cruenti took notice and began to back down, now trying to escape the police rather than protect the shipment. Half of them were dead or wounded, on both sides of the fight, but this call for retreat let the CPD arrest some of the stragglers, even though several still got away. Will ducked back into one of the buildings to avoid being spotted, tugging Evey along with him.
Graham's cell vibrated again, this time with a text from Ju: "VH = vampire hunter, particularly the Keattings."
"Makes sense," Brendan muttered to himself. But now he was a little worried. Those who escaped would report this to the heads of the operation. He closed the phone and put it back in his pocket. The Keattings would be targeted heavily now for revenge. Well, he supposed this was better than nothing.
If you had to destroy one rat hole in order to get the nastiest rats out in the open, and make yourself bait in order to do it at least you have a shot of killing the nastiest rats.
The chief yelled his head off at Brendan asking him what the hell was going on, they'd shot the hell out of some of them and they had just gotten back up and that now he had at least several decapitated, so how the hell was he going to explain that!
"Chief, just don't explain it."
"What? I've got an entire contingent of men here, some of them dead too, and a SWAT team that saw this, how the fuck do you expect me to keep quiet about what happened?"
"I didn't say keep quite, Chief, I said don't explain it. I don't know why the hell people that should be dead got back up as if you didn't shoot them. Maybe it's the drug. For all we know it could be some kind of a superhuman drug, or something that reanimates you once you're dead hell, I don't know what the drug does! But for all we know what we saw here is exactly what it does."
"That's fucking ridiculous."
"We won't know for sure until we get the bodies back to the morgue and that drug into the lab. Oh, and chief," Brendan stood over a body of a solis. "We may want to burn the decapitated ones..."
"What?! That's evidence!"
"Seriously, Chief, trust me on this, you wouldn't believe the shit I've seen while investigating this drug ring. If you want to do an autopsy, do it trust me, you probably won't like it but do it FAST and then burn the corpse. I don't think any of these people have any family left, anyway."
"What the hell do you know, Graham?"
The expression Brendan gave the chief when he turned back to him was enough. Whatever the hell happened here, it was much worse than what had just happened.
"Fine," the chief said, and began to bark his orders at the paramedics and the officers. They arrested the living and uninjured, put the injured into paramedic trucks, all the drugs were collected every last one and the bodies were hurriedly collected as well.
Brendan recommended, quite darkly, that they keep the heads away from the bodies.
"Just in case."
Considering the carnage of the scene, they didn't have a problem following Brendan's request.
He also put in a couple of phone calls when he was away from the rest of the cops, talking quietly into his phone. Two of his pack. He wanted them to steal the bodies and burn them. He didn't know how fast the CPD would work, but he did know that Charon was still there and that could lead to problems. After that was done, he grabbed one of the bottles of the drug.
"What are you doing with that?" asked one of the CSI.
"I have a chemist who has been one of my informants on this job. Part of the deal for the help was to get some of this in order to experiment on it."
"That's not the way this works, Detective."
"I know, but if it helps me find out more about the lords of this drug ring and the ring itself, it can't be bad. Just keep me posted on what you find out about it, and I'll keep you posted if my chemist finds something you don't."
The CSI rolled his eyes.
"Fine, but I'm putting it down on my report."
Brendan pocketed the drug. When the coast was clear, Will and Evey emerged from the doorway of the warehouse. The hunter sighed, walking towards Brendan while he pulled out a cloth to clean his sword.
"That was a lot worse than I had expected. You?"
"Me too. I had kind of hoped the solis would stand down."
He gave Will and Evey a quick rundown of what he had done and who he had called.
"We should probably get the drug to Cei to see what she has in mind."
Brendan took it out, paused and then gave it to Will.
"You see to it. I'm going to head back to the precinct and make sure the bodies get out and get burned without a problem. Malone is still there, and the last thing I need is a fucking bloodbath in my own precinct."
Will held it up to the light, inspecting the bottle for himself.
"This looks a lot like Cei's Gracilis formula, only... thicker..."
He tucked it away in his coat.
"We have a few hours yet till sunset. We won't be able to do anything about this drug until then."
Brendan nodded. It would be better for Will and Evey to go anyway, rather than him. He could do other things, and Cei didn't need him anymore.
"Oh, I forgot to tell you the good news. Happened last night. Well, some good news. Some bad. Bad news is Ashton the filius of Crudelis that has been trying to kill Cei has been feeding your brother information, seeing if Jon would kill Cei for him. Your brother tried to kill her last night. Luckily, he came to his senses and we sent Ashton scurrying away to lick his wounds. Damn bastard got away again. But the good news is the techs at the precinct are tracking down Ashton's email and your brother is now part of the loop. I told him everything. Except the fact that Cei feeds you both blood I let her handle that."
"I hope he takes it well," he said. "Knowing Jon, he'll be pigheaded about that and refuse to let her give him blood. God, I hope he does something smart for once in his life."
Will turned to Evey.
"Guess I know where he is now."
Evey beamed at Will. She gave him a hug.
"Oh, Will, I'm so happy for you! Jon's back and he's with Cei and everything there will be all right again!"
She was overflowing with happiness for Will. Something he'd been so afraid of for years was now gone, washed away entirely. Jon and Cei were free in a way they had never been before.
Brendan looked at both of them, stuffed his hands in his coat pocket and began to walk away. He had to get back to the precinct. Will had the drug; he could give it to Cei.
"We probably shouldn't linger here," he said after a long minute. His words were quiet.
Will understood why the detective had grown distant, but knew it wasn't the time to discuss it. He simply nodded, going with Evey back to his bike so that the two of them could leave. Hopefully, Brendan would be alright.
As soon as dusk fell, they were at Cei's apartment. Will had been curious about the drug all day and hadn't been able to stop toying with the bottle. It took the vampire a little bit to answer the door. When she did, they could see that Jon was in the kitchen, making a sandwich.
"Ju called and told me you were coming with something for me to analyze," she said. "Just let me get a quick shower before we go up to the lab."
When she disappeared up the steps, Will leaned over to Evey.
"Looks like Jon gets the munchies too."
Evey punched his shoulder, unable to stop herself from grinning.
"I'll gladly feed you as long as it keeps you going," she said, tossing him a wide, evil grin. Evey headed over to the kitchen and gave Jon pat on the shoulder.
"Good to see you again."
Jon turned around curiously, the sandwich hanging from his mouth. He laughed a bit, chewing his first bite and attempting to swallow it before he smiled at her.
"Hey Evey! How have things been?"
Will settled in on the couch, waving to his brother as he walked by. He was intent on napping while Cei showered.
"Well, we killed bad guys today and helped a drug bust, so far so good."
She grabbed two wine coolers from the fridge.
"Good to see you not trying to kill any of us," she chirped, still grinning at him. Then she headed to Will, plopping down next to him and handing him a cooler.
"No nap for you, sir. Find out about the drug and then we can go to bed."
"But I'm still sore from this afternoon," Will grumbled, though he did sit up and took the drink offered him. His brother chuckled from the kitchen.
"Wish I could have been there for the action, but I'm not about to leave Cei alone after what her psycho brother did."
"I hope Graham got some sleep," Evey said after a moment. "He hasn't been sleeping well, and he hasn't had much of it. I hope after he burned all those bodies, he crashed."
She looked up at Will and gave him a smile.
"You big baby. You barely did anything. Graham did most of the work today."
"Hey, I decapitated five of those bastards! Hunting isn't easy work..."
"Drink the wine cooler," Jon teased. "You'll feel better."
By the time the drinks were finished, Cei was out of the shower and jogging down the steps to join them.
"So, what's up with this drug?" she asked, eager to take a look at it.
"It's what Crudelis has been selling to humans. We don't know what it does. Graham figured you would be able to analyze and understand it in a way none of the CSI guys probably would."
Evey motioned for Will to give Cei the bottle.
"The sooner you can tell us what it is, the better. That way we know what we're dealing with and know what to expect."
Will pulled out the bottle and handed it to the vampire, who instantly held it up to the light.
"Hmm..." she mumbled. "It looks a lot like my Gracilis formula..."
"Funny," Will laughed. "I said the same thing.
Jon stared at them, already confused. Will glanced over at Evey before turning to Cei.
"If you two want to work on that in your lab, I'll bring Jon up to date on your formulas."
The cruenta chewed her lip, but nodded.
"Come on, Evey. We'll need to do some tests."
Evey nodded. She gave Will a brief kiss on the lips. She got up and waved a finger at Jon.
"You listen to your brother, sir."
She smiled at him and then followed Evey up the stairs.
"What does it mean that it looks like your Blood-Thinner thing?"
"Nothing yet," Cei said, opening the door to her lab. "It could be as simple as making it look like something it isn't. I can smell the faintest hint of blood in this..."
She walked over to a table and began setting up various test tubes.
"I just need to break this down for its various components and go from there. It's a good thing Brendan snagged this; conventional chemistry is unlikely to find anything here."
"Well, that's Graham for you. The man catches everything I seem to miss and vice a versa."
Evey watched Cei as she worked.
"Are you happy, Cei?" she asked eventually, and quietly. "Now that Jon is back, and he's accepted you. You must be so happy. Right?"
The vampire was silent as she thought, separating the drug into several of the test tubes.
"I should be, shouldn't I?" Cei asked, never looking away from her work. "But now I almost feel like we're forcing things..."
She sighed, turning to Evey.
"I didn't... really tell him... about his condition..."
Evey was puzzled.
"What do you mean forcing things? Lord, Cei, Jon's accepted you. Your worst fear is gone. I'm surprised you haven't told him about his condition, but if you explain everything, even the diluted form of the blood you give him so he and Will won't become your ancillae, he can't get mad. He's already gotten over the hard part."
She threw her hands up in the air and then put them on her hips.
"What the hell are you afraid of? The hard part is over. You have no reason to be afraid anymore. Jon loves you, and you love him."
Cei frowned and looked away, her face flush.
"That's the part I'm not quite sure about."
Evey blinked. An eyebrow arched, and she leaned forward to look at Cei, meeting her eyes.
"I know Graham is in love with you, Cei," she whispered. "And I can take a guess why you humored him. But..."
She spoke into Cei's mind. She'd been practicing with Will a lot since she'd discovered it.
"I can guess that the only reason you let yourself get involved with Graham was because he was safe, not like Jon who you were always worrying would find out the truth. But for you to fall in love with Graham back? That can't be right, can it?"
Her gaze searched Cei's face. The vampire's eyes welled up with tears.
"I don't know what I was thinking," she sobbed gently. "I didn't expect that to happen, but now..."
Cei wiped her eyes.
"I can't believe I let myself do this..."
Evey moved around the lab table and gave Cei a hug.
She took a deep breath.
"Cei, are you in love with Brendan?"
She nodded into Evey's shoulder, unwilling to even think the word "yes," she was so worried about it.
"What am I going to do?"
Evey looked up at the ceiling. Oh, beautiful. How the hell was this going to work?
She gave Cei a gentle squeeze and pulled back.
"How about you not worry about it for now? I have an idea."
The thought blossomed in her head. Yes, yes this could work.
"Just let me handle it and don't you worry about it, okay? Let's focus on the drug Crudelis is selling, and then I'll give you all the details of my wicked idea later."
She wiped the tears off Cei's face. Lord. Cei was in love with Brendan. It was mind-boggling and kind of thrilling at the same time. Cei nodded again, turning back to her work.
"I... just need to focus on this now..."
She sniffled a bit and began finalizing the set up for her tests.
"Just focus on this..."
The experiments took a couple of hours to complete, and when they were finish Cei looked none too happy.
"This is worse than I could have imagined."
Evey had gone downstairs to take a nap with Will. She'd put her plan with Jon and Cei and Brendan into use later. The issue with the drug was more important. After the first hour and a half, she got up, made food for the men and then went back upstairs with Cei, a cup of coffee in hand to help her stay awake.
She was there when Cei muttered the damning words.
"How is it worse?"
Evey was wide awake now.
"What is it?"
Cei rubbed her forehead, leaning against the table as she began to explain.
"This is my Gracilis, but it's been altered to create the reverse effect it was intended to. Instead of preventing addiction to a particular vampire's blood, it accelerates it, having the same effect as ingesting blood from the same vampire ten times. This sample is infused with two blood types; anyone human or otherwise who had one dose of this would instantly be enthralled, and there were enough doses in this bottle for ten people."
She took a deep breath.
"One of the blood donors was Crudelis. The other is from a cruentus much more ancient."
"My mother," Evey said flatly. "Come on. You need to tell the boys. I'll call Graham and let him know so he knows exactly what's out there."
"Oh god," Cei breathed, starting towards the door. "That means half of Caligo could already be under their influence and not even know it."
Evey looked at Cei.
"We have to stop all the shipments of this stuff. Stop every bit of it on the streets. Or kill Crudelis and Carmilla."
"I prefer the latter option."
When they were back downstairs, Cei immediately went to the living room where the brothers were now playing cards. Will looked up from his hand to ask what she had found, but she didn't give him the chance.
"They're mass producing ancillae with that drug. Anyone in the city could be thrall to them."
"Every drug addict or casual user can be ancillae. They could be putting it into the food for all we know. Somehow they got the Gracilis formula, and instead of dilution which is what Cei did, they upped the power. For all we know we have a city of ancillae."
Evey flopped onto the couch.
"We need to kill Crudelis and Carmilla."
Jon was on his feet.
"No time like the present..."
"Don't be stupid," his brother said. "We don't even know where they are!"
"Then we'd better start now!"
"Jon," Cei sighed, but said nothing more. She knew they had to act soon, but she worried he would do something foolish. Again.
"We'll get in touch with Graham," Will offered, nudging Evey. "I think we should take this directly to him rather than just call..."
"Maybe I can create some way to detect this drug," Cei mused to herself. "A cure is impractical at this point..."
Evey nodded and grabbed her phone.
"Maybe he has a good idea where they are. They do have some ancillae in custody. And Charon. If the angel of death hasn't broken out yet..."
She winced and dialed. Jon walked over to Cei and kissed her forehead.
"I'm gonna run back to the apartment and pick up some more supplies. Don't go anywhere while I'm gone, alright?"
She nodded, still deep in thought about the possibility of a detection formula. Jon waved to his brother and Evey before heading out the door. Evey watched Jon go out. Her brow furrowed as the phone rang.
"Should we let him go anywhere alone? I mean... we just did a drug bust, took tons of drugs from the really big nasty bad guys, have some of their ancillae in prison probably confusing the hell out of cops, and an angel of death in prison. He might as well walk out with a giant target on his forehead."
Evey shook her head and got up, hurrying outside after Jon. She got Brendan's voicemail, so she hung up. In a minute, she thought. She opened the door.
"Hey, Jon! Don't go anywhere by yourself!" she shouted as she went out the door. The older Keatting had just reached his car when she called to him, and he scratched the back of his head while he looked at her, somewhat confused.
"Why? It isn't like I'm not a capable hunter, you know. I'm used to needing to watch my own ass."
Evey headed down toward him and punched his shoulder.
"Yeah, and Alec was pretty fucking capable too, and so am I. But we still got ambushed, and Alec still died. After what happened today we shouldn't go anywhere alone. They are going to be pissed, Jon. PISSED. Any of us are alone for any length of time they'll ambush us and kill us. We're talking two vampires that make Jesse Taylor look like a wimp. One of them is Jesse's mater! They have an ANGEL OF DEATH working for them. Think this through. Even a capable hunter needs back up, and you can't call for it if you're ambushed."
She put her hands on her hips.
"Apparently, no one in this group can think safe. Apparently, everyone has forgotten that one of our own died not two days ago. How many more of us have to die before someone other than me starts realizing that these things are NOT things to mess with? Jon they almost got you to kill Cei. Being a capable hunter didn't stop them from using you! We need to all stop thinking like we're strong enough to take care of ourselves."
She gave him a hard glare.
"I had to hold Alec in my arms while he died to realize that we are not strong enough alone in this. Divide and conquer, and they're having a damn easy time dividing us because everyone is bloody pigheaded! Take your brother, Cei or me, but do," she poked him in the chest, "not," poked again, "go," another poke, "alone!"
He was silent, lips thinly pressed together. After a moment, he gave in.
"Alright. I'll take Will with me, but before that, let me drop you and Cei off with Brendan. Just to be doubly sure, you know?"
Her reaction was instant. Evey beamed at him.
She grabbed his arm and dragged him back inside.
"Let's go you two," Evey said. "Cei, if you want we can tell Brendan to take us back here if there's anymore tests you want to run."
Evey hustle the three out and into Jon's car, while Evey called Brendan again.
"Yeah," came the gruff voice on the other line.
"Jon is going to drop of Cei and I at your place, while he and Will get some supplies. You've had enough time to sleep. We have a lot to tell you."
"Kay," Brendan grunted and then hung up.
"He better be awake when we get there," Jon mumbled, starting the car and pulling onto the road. It didn't take them long to get there, thankfully, and the brothers watched as Evey and Cei went up to the door.
"I don't feel so god," the vampire said. "I have a really bad feeling that something horrible will happen really soon..."
Evey gave Cei a small smile.
"Why do you think I'm insisting we all stay in groups? I've got a bad feeling too, and I don't want to get caught unawares like the other night."
Her expression fell a little as she thought of Alec. Evey knocked on the door.
Graham opened it a moment later. He was shirtless, unshaved, his hair sticking out in odd angles, and had a toothbrush stuck in his mouth. His pajama pants hugged his hips. They were bright blue and had black kittens decorating them. He gave Will and Jon a wave and let the women in with a grunt. Evey was more than a little amused as Graham closed and locked the door behind him.
"Gimme a minute," he mumbled around the toothbrush, disappearing toward his bathroom. A large black cat almost knocked Evey over as it purred and rubbed up against her legs. Cei's mood brightened almost instantly.
She dropped to her knees so she could pet the cat, clicking to get its attention so she could scratch it behind its ears.
"I love cats..."
The cat immediately basked in the attention. It was a huge black beast with golden eyes and huge feet. It seemed to have extra toes. It rubbed up against Cei with great appreciation and demand.
Evey smirked slightly at the two. She looked up toward where Brendan had disappeared.
"I didn't know you had a cat!"
There was some water running, the sound of a spit, some more water and then another spit.
"Three weeks ago you didn't know I was a werewolf," he called back. When Brendan came back out he was wearing jeans, but his shirt was still unbuttoned. He headed straight for the coffee pot.
"I don't think any of you have even been here yet. Coffee?"
"Yes, please," Evey said, heading over to him. Brendan poured her a cup, Cei a cup and himself a monster of a cup. He looked over to Cei and felt his heart do a flipflop as she played with the cat.
"It's name is Reggie."
"It? Don't you know if it's a boy or girl?" Evey asked.
"I respect its privacy."
Evey snorted and took a sip of her own coffee.
She searched for it as Brendan headed toward Cei offering her a cup.
"So what's up?" he asked.
"The drug is worse than we thought," Cei said, taking the cup but setting it down so she could continue to play with Reggie. "It's basically a potion for instantly loyal ancillae."
She looked up at him.
"The sample you gave me was already infused with blood."
Brendan cursed. He tried to say something, but cursed again. He gulped down some of his coffee.
"Fantastic! Who knows how many people have taken that stuff? Half the city could be in thrall."
He rubbed his temple.
"Okay. We have no choice. Have to kill Crudelis and Carmilla as soon as possible. Sorry, Evey."
"I'm the first one who said that," she said, taking a sip of her sugared coffee. "I don't know how we're going to kill my mother though. How does one kill a caelestis?"
"Rosa nigra?" Cei offered. "Or perhaps we could talk Zuriel into helping out..."
She had to stop petting the cat to drink some of her coffee.
"Speaking of divine beings, any news with Charon?"
Brendan shook his head.
"But according to the cops watching him, he seems stressed. Unusual for Malone, but usual for a felon. Of course, they don't know what I know, so I'm not sure what a stressed angel of death is really capable of or what it is that is stressing him out."
"It could be the fact that he's realizing Arishtat's right. He's being used."
She paused and took a sip of her coffee.
"Hey, how does one destroy a divine contract? Could we do that? Perhaps free Charon so that he can't do their bidding anymore?"
"I'd need to do more research into it... or ask Ju. He'll be able to give us an answer quicker."
She paused for a moment, as if waiting for something.
"Odd, he usually calls right when we mention needed information..."
Brendan was worried.
"He was acting strange today. He gave me the information about the drug ring. It was because of him we were able to do the bust. Evey, call him. Make sure he and Jezz are all right. They could've found out we got the information from him, but god, I hope not."
Evey immediately flipped open her phone and dialed Ju. It rang much longer than she had expected, and when someone finally answered, it was very soft.
"Talk to Jezz," Ju told her, not waiting for a response before passing the phone along. He didn't sound very good at all. Evey was startled.
"Hello?" came Jezz's soft voice.
"What's wrong with Ju?" Evey asked, worried. She put the phone on speaker so Brendan and Cei could hear too.
"He's become a... a noctis. He's not doing well. I'm taking care of him, but he's not doing well. Is someone there who knows about this? Is there anyway to make him feel better?"
"Shit," Cei growled, moving to be closer to the speaker. "Jezz, he needs to feed and quickly! If he doesn't get fresh blood in his system, he may go catatonic until someone revives him. How long was he out in the sun today?"
Jezz spoke nervously into the phone.
"A l-l-long time. I took him out for pizza. Detective Graham paid. I..."
Her voice firmed.
"I'll call you back."
Evey blinked as the phone clicked and she heard the dial tone. She didn't say anything but she could guess what Jezz was doing.
Meanwhile, Jezz pushed the phone away, picked up her hair into a ponytail, exposing her neck, and hurried to Ju. She moved close to him.
"Ju, Ju... Oh, Ju, I'm so sorry, this is my fault. Cei said you need fresh blood."
She knelt down on the floor, bringing her head to his level (he was laying on the couch).
"Y-You can have mine. Okay? Oh, please get better..."
The vampire tried not to look at her, turning his head away even as he bared his fangs.
"Don't... don't do this, Jezz..."
Ju was becoming feverish.
I could kill you, he was trying to say, but his thirst overwhelmed him and the offer of fresh blood was too much to resist. Still weak, he slowly turned back, pulling Jezz closer to him with more force than he had intended so that he could feed. Ju's fangs sank into her neck, locking the two of them together in the deadly embrace. He quickly became lost in the sensation of drinking her blood, unable to make himself stop feeding even after he was sated.
Jezz sighed, her body shivering with rapture. A small moan escaped, before she was quiet again. She clutched him to her, her hands gripping onto his shirt. She shivered again as she began to weaken. Her eyes rolled back as she slumped against him. Her fingers slackened their hold.
Meanwhile at Graham's...
As Evey stared at the phone, Brendan finished off his coffee and began to button his shirt.
"Ju is one lucky bastard," he muttered. Evey shook her head and looked at Cei.
"She's going to offer herself to him, Cei. Will Jezz be all right? How much blood does he need?"
Cei's eyes widened.
"Shit," she growled again. "We have to get over there. Now! He could kill her in his state!"
The vampire was already at the door.
"The transformation into noctis is very strenuous and shuts down all functions except the need for blood; he won't be able to stop himself from draining her!"
Evey paled and was running out the door following Cei. Brendan was right behind. He grabbed his jacket, his gun and his keys, locked up and practically jumped down to the first floor, running to his car.
The three were inside in seconds, and Brendan was peeling across the asphalt as he raced toward the warehouse.
They were there in under two minutes. Thank god, for no traffic.
Evey raced out of the car toward the door, right behind Cei, and Brendan behind her after he locked the car. Cei nearly destroyed the door when she entered, running immediately towards Ju and Jezz.
"Julian! Stop!" she growled, eyes glowing deep red. The abrupt command caused the younger cruentus to release his meal and turn to face her, but there was nothing of the mild-mannered Ju in this creature's face. Cei gasped, "He's in a blood rage; be careful!" just before he lunged at her.
Evey gasped, but Brendan's firm hand on her shoulder brought her from her shock. He showed her a stake. He'd begun a habit of carrying them in the car with him.
"Make it fly true, V," he said before tossing it at Ju.
Evey took telekinetic control of it, swiveling the stake behind Ju and stabbing it into his back where his heart was. A quick paralysis should take away the blood rage like it had with Jesse.
He fell to the floor mid-lunge when the stake impaled him, hitting the ground with a solid thud. Cei sighed and shook her head as she knelt down to him.
"Just wait a few minutes, Julian," she said softly, stroking his hair. "The rage will pass."
Though paralyzed, an agitated growl still escaped him with the rhythm of his breaths. Cei looked over at the others.
Evey rushed toward her friend, her hands trembling. Jezz was pale and barely moving, but she was still breathing. Evey saw the puncture marks, bright and red with a hint of blood. She lifted Jezz carefully and held her close, concentrating on healing the wounds.
Brendan moved by Cei to look down at Ju.
"He's not going to be very happy with himself when he recovers from the rage."
"Rage is horrifying," she said sadly. "It's like being trapped inside your own body, watching it destroy everything around you. Cruenti have minimal control when in a rage."
Brendan looked at her with some amusement.
Her eyes narrowed.
"It isn't funny, Brendan. Rage brings out the most bestial instincts a vampire has. Most of the worst myths and rumors about vampires are derived from encounters with an enraged cruentus!"
Cei turned back to Ju, placing her hand gently on his back.
"He should be fine now."
He'd ceased growling, so she carefully began to remove the stake. Evey called Brendan over to help her put Jezz on the couch. He did so without trouble, making sure the young woman was comfortable.
"She won't need a blood transfusion will she?" he asked quietly.
"God, I hope not," Evey whispered. As soon as Cei had removed the stake, Ju had begun to rise, a bit disoriented as he stumbled back towards the couch where Jezz rested. His glasses slipped off, making the task even more difficult, but he managed to sit himself on the floor beside Evey.
Hesitantly, Ju reached and touched Jezz's forehead, his lips pressed into a thin frown.
"She isn't... I didn't... did I?"
He could barely get his words out.
"Please, tell me she's alright..."
Evey looked at him.
"She's weak, Ju, but alive."
She looked up at Cei.
"She won't need a blood transfusion, will she? Just some time to rest?"
The older vampire nodded.
"We got here just in time."
Ju was silent as he looked at Jezz. She had only wanted to help him, and he had almost killed her for it. And then the rage: losing all control he had, unable to stop feeding, neglecting to fully close the wound... Ju couldn't bare the thoughts that flooded his mind. He pressed his head against hers.
"I almost killed you," he whispered before the tears broke their way through. "Jezz, I'm sorry..."
Evey gave him some space. Her smile was warm when she looked up at Brendan and Cei.
There was a brief little murmur from the prone Jezz. Her hands twitched, but didn't move much. Warm breath escaped in a sigh against Ju's cheeks.
There was another murmur, as if Jezz was trying to move or speak, but was too weak to do either. There was a hint of confusion too. Ju wiped his eyes and nuzzled his chin against he shoulder. Cei sighed with relief.
"Let's just wait here for now, until she feels better. We can call Jon and Will and let them know we're here at the moment."
She rubbed her forehead, pinching the bridge of her nose.
"I hope that was the thing I had a bad feeling about."
Probably not, Evey thought, but didn't voice it aloud.
"Sure," she said. "I'll call them."
She got up, pulling out her phone and dialing Will.
Jezz got enough strength to lift her forearm and hand and touched Ju's shoulder. But the touch was light and weak. Brendan nodded at Cei.
"Sounds like a good idea. And you two can bring us up to speed about anything else."
Conversation was somewhat disjointed while they waited for the Keattings to arrive. Ju was too distracted to offer any input, more concerned that Jezz was going to be alright. Will and Jon were expected to arrive any minute when the newly changed noctis looked up at the others for the first time since he'd calmed.
"Why are the Keattings coming here?"
Cei raised an eyebrow.
"Don't you know? I thought your sight..."
"It was severed while I was in rage, and only just kicked back in. I don't think you should let them come to the warehouse; I think they're being followed."
Evey flipped open her phone with the words barely out of Ju's mouth. She dialed Will. When he answered she said immediately, "You're being followed. Don't come here. Figure out somewhere else to go, tell me and we'll try to meet you there. Better to have a group of five than a group of two to face whatever is following you."
"Shit, Evey," Will cursed into the phone. "Jon just pulled up."
"Tell him to keep driving!" Ju shouted, frowning because he knew where they were.
"Keep driving! Just keep driving!" she told Will, suddenly worried for him and Jon. "Put the gas on and go!"
They could hear the squealing of tires outside, the brothers driving away. Ju looked more relieved as he turned back to Jezz.
"They're still following them," he sighed, talking to no one in particular. "They won't come to the warehouse."
Evey sighed in relief and relayed that information to Will.
"Where are you guys going to head? We'll meet up with you there, so you two aren't ambushed."
"Well, seeing as the engine light and fuel light just came on, I'm gonna guess that we'll be round about the downtown graveyard before the car dies."
She heard him scold Jon for not getting the car serviced when it broke down the last time.
"Ask Ju when we stop. That's the best I can give you."
Evey cursed. The point was to meet them there so they weren't alone when whatever or whoever was following them caught up. Waiting till they stopped was cutting it way too damn close.
"I don't like this, Will. Just pick a destination and we'll head there. If the car breaks down along the way we'll see it. I hope."
"Graveyard it is, then. We should be able to make it there at least."
He hung up. Either that or the phone died, seeing as he didn't say goodbye or anything. Cei had begun to pace.
"My head is throbbing. I don't like this at all..."
"Where are they going?" Brendan asked.
"Graveyard," Evey said.
"Then let's go," he said, looking worriedly at Cei. "The sooner we get there, the sooner we can figure out what's going on."
The vampire shook her head and moved to one of the armchairs.
"I'll stay with Ju and Jezz. My brain feels like it's going to explode, and I don't think I'll be of much help if I have one of my prophecies in the middle of combat."
Cei chewed on her lip.
"Or if I get possessed by Crudelis again..."
"All right. Come on, Evey."
He began to head out. Evey paused only for a moment.
"Take care. We'll be back soon. Contact us if anything, okay?"
Then she followed after Graham. Once in Graham's car, they pealed out to the graveyard, each one hoping that everyone else would be all right. They got there just in time to see the brothers begin their battle with their pursuers: a small group of ambae cruenti commanded by an annoyingly familiar red-head who seemed to be quite enjoying the show from his seat on top of a mausoleum. Evey and Graham looked at each other. Brendan grinned.
"You go help the Keattings as best you can. Try to stay out of sight though. I've got stakes in the back. The distractions should allow me to get behind Ashton."
"He'll probably sense you before you get a chance to attack," Evey said, grabbing the stakes. "I can make myself uh, invisible, sort of. I've been practicing over the last few weeks..."
She shook her head.
"Nevermind. I won't be able to attack him mentally while doing that. The most I can do is move in that state. And that was a LOT of training with Alec. I would have to drop my 'invisibility' once I was close enough and then attack."
She didn't mention that once she did that she was pretty much useless. Still, once good strike and the boys could take care of the rest.
"If you can get up close to him without him noticing and then attack all the better."
"Let's do this."
Evey grinned back.
God, she hoped this worked.
Brendan go out of the car. Evey followed. He went in one way, while she went through another. Once behind one particularly large statue, Evey concentrated, blocking herself mentally. No one could detect her.
Graham launched himself at an ambae about to attack Will from behind with a growl. The vampire went down fast, and Will gave the detective a thankful nod before decapitating the cruentus.
"Thanks, but there are more coming. Jon and I have caught glimpses of them among the tombstones..."
He stopped talking to deal with two more that came at them.
"I think the car was psychically sabotaged to end up here."
"Somehow," Brendan said as punched another, sending him hurtling into Will's blade. "I'm not surprised."
He took out a stake and stabbed it into another vampire, kicking it toward Jon so he could finish it off.
"I need to start carrying a flamethrower."
Evey continued her way toward Ashton. She was careful not to make any noise. He wouldn't be able to hear her anyway, but if something was loud enough he would hear it, even if he didn't hear, sense, smell, or see her.
When she got to the mausoleum, she began to climb her way up, staying focused. Get behind him and stake him. The boys should be able to take care of the rest.
Ashton seemed to have gotten bored watching the men fight and had taken out his cellphone, speed-dialing someone. He was holding the phone to his ear and drawling something in Italian by the time Evey reached the top of the structure. He didn't sound happy, like a spoiled child who had grown tired of his expensive toys.
Evey took out the stake she was going to use, got up as close as she dared, and dropped her shields. Before the practice it has always been a slow progression, piece by piece materializing again. Now, she could drop it all at once.
The second she dropped concentration on that the stake was in the air and buried in Ashton's heart.
Evey promptly collapsed to her knees, heaving for breath. The noctis dropped his phone the instant he was paralyzed, but that didn't put him completely out of commission. He'd seen Evey seconds before she staked him, and that made him furious.
"Bitch! Don't think you'll get away with that!"
Ashton's eyes brightened into a furious red.
"You can't paralyze my mind!
An invisible force wrapped around Evey, shoving her back of the edge of the mausoleum. Rather than let her fall, however, it tossed her to the side, hurtling towards the cemetery ground.
Evey didn't have enough strength to scream. She knew she was going to hit floor and hit it hard. Brendan knew he wasn't going to get there fast enough. He saw Ashton go down and then Evey fly off the building. He was still the process of staking a vampire when it happened.
Jon was the closest and dove for her, catching Evey before she hit the ground and moving so that neither of them crashed into the nearby tombstones. Carefully setting her down, the eldest Keatting placed a hand on her shoulder.
"Just need a minute to recover," Evey said, gasping. She was amazed that she'd been caught. She'd been sure she was going to snap her back against a tombstone.
"He can still use his telekinesis. Have to kill him now."
Jon straightened, eyes narrowed, twirling the sword in his hand.
"Consider it as good as done."
He headed towards the mausoleum, starting towards the back, the easiest place to climb, but stopped when he looked up. At some point during all the chaos, the stake had been removed from Ashton's heart, and the cruentus stood beside his rescuer with a smug grin. He turned, and in a mockery of gratitude, gently kissed her cheek.
"Thank you, sis."
Brendan was already leaping up toward the mausoleum, stakes in hand ready to stab Cei and Ashton if he had to.
"YOU BASTARD! STOP FUCKING POSSESSING HER!"
Evey's arms shook as she tried to sit up, watching with horror. God, hadn't Ju been able to stop her?
The possessed cruenta looked at Brendan and gave him a smirk that was entirely not her own before she hopped down from the building to face him. Fangs bared, she lunged at him, latching onto one of his wrists. A sinister laugh echoed in his head.
"Detective, do you know what happens when a vampire feeds on lycanthropic blood?"
The voice laughed again, right about the same time Ashton and Jon became locked in combat. The cruentus had morphed his hands into the hideous claws, and each swing of the hunter's blade was met with a slash.
Brendan growled. The main difference between a human and lycanthrope (aside from the physical attributes) was the mental stability. It was a lot harder to crack or affect someone like Brendan.
Cursing, Brendan grabbed Cei's hair with all the strength he could muster without ripping hair out, tearing her off his wrist. The wound gaped open before weaving itself closed. Fur rippled over his arms, his eyes glowing bright yellow, his own fangs bared. Knowing full well only a taste was needed for Cei to go into a rage, he tossed her into a statue with all his strength. The statue broke in half and he heard the cracking of several bones.
He grabbed the stakes he had dropped, knowing that wasn't going to stop her, and leaped toward her. He jumped higher and was stronger now, but not as strong as in full transformation. A stab in the heart should calm her down.
"Crudelis, I'm going to rip you apart with my own bare hands. Just you wait."
Evey wished she could do more. Jon was fighting Ashton, Brendan trying to control Cei she'd finally seen him... sort of transform. It was if he was only enhancing some of his abilities. She had seen Alec transform, but never this halfway between man and hybrid that Brendan now sported.
She spotted a couple of stakes on the floor nearby. Telekinesis, thank god, was as natural to her as breathing. If she could breath, she could use TK. She lifted the stakes effortlessly and began to send them soaring into the surrounding ambae that Will was trying to fend off.
The hunter was grateful for the back up, since he'd been left to take on five alone. The stakes Evey sent paralyzed two of the vampires and wounded one, giving Will enough of an edge to gain the advantage again.
Cei rose from her crash with disturbing ease, only one hand morphing as she clawed at Brendan's leg. She seemed intent on drawing him close enough to bite again, this time on the neck. The mix of rage and possession had made her something else entirely.
Brendan moved at least as fast as she did. He sent a punch into her jaw, coming down with the stake in the other hand, hoping that he got her in the chest to at least render her mostly immobile if not the heart.
Evey continued to help Will, getting strong enough to try pulling herself up, using a tombstone as leverage.
The fighting became more furious as the seconds ticked by, neither side giving in to the other. The vampires just wouldn't stay down, and though Will was beginning to run out of strength, he refused to slow down. Jon and Ashton had been circling around the other groups with their duel, taking and dealing blows right and left. Cei and Brendan were the only ones losing any speed, as the rage began to wear off and the cruenta seemed to have brief moments of clarity before her mind was taken over again. The stake had gotten lodged firmly into her side, immobilizing half of her body; sometimes, she'd feverishly try to remove it, but then would stop, as if trying to keep her self from dislodging the wooden dagger.
Perhaps it was seeing Jon fight Ashton, or Brendan attacking her, that was allowing her to break through. Evey managed to get a few more stakes into vampires, allowing Will to cut off more heads. Not wanting to risk anything more, Evey concentrated on the stakes. She envisioned them in her mind and focused the on the atoms. She made the atoms move faster and faster, clashing against each other until the heat made the wood begin to catch flame.
Suddenly all the stakes buried in bodies burst into a blaze of fire simultaneously.
Brendan saw the stake in Cei's side catch flame. He dove at her, taking out the burning chunk of wood and stabbing down with the other stake into her heart. He wanted her to not move and calm down, not die!
Cei growled when the stake impaled her, her body locking up. After a few moments, she spoke through her telepathy.
"Oh God... thank you, Brendan. The rage is starting to fade..."
A sickening crack cut her off. Only yards away, Jon was holding onto his arm, the elbow bent backwards. Ashton smirked, retracting the claws on his hands as he rushed up to the hunter.
The noctis slammed his hand onto Jon's chest, extending his claws again, sending five taloned fingers tearing through his flesh. Brendan whirled around, the roar in the back of his throat ripping free as he lept at Ashton.
Evey could only stare in horror, her sight blurring with the sudden burn of tears. She struggled to get up, fully intending to get up to Jon and try... God, she had to try to...
Ashton pulled out his claws and stepped into the shadow of the mausoleum, effectively vanishing from sight. His laugh taunted them as it faded away, frustrating because they all knew he was still near by. The other vampires well, the few that were left, anyway followed their leader's move and scattered, some slipping into shadows, but most just running. Will dropped his sword.
"Oh my God... Jon!"
He ran to his brother as Jon slumped against a headstone, a thin trickle of blood flowing from his lips. Cei psychically screamed, unable to see what had happened but knowing her love was seriously wounded.
Brendan stilled, knowing there was nothing he could do help the fallen warrior. Instead, he did Cei a favor. He returned to where she lay and pulled out the stake. He didn't say anything. There was nothing that could be said.
Evey struggled to get to Will and Jon. It was Brendan who finally picked her up and carried her to the hunters. Cei scrambled over to the others, her wounds healed by the time she got there. She gasped at the sight of Jon's injuries, shaking her head in disbelief.
"No, no, no..."
She crawled next to him, taking him up in her arms as her eyes began to fill with tears.
His eyes followed her voice and drifted slowly to look at her. Cei couldn't keep herself from sobbing.
"Oh God, Jon..."
He gave her a weak smile, so she knew he was listening. Evey desperately looked him over, concentrating to see how bad the damage was, how much she had to fix, how much time she had to do it. Tears dripped silently from her eyes. She couldn't. There was too much damage, and she was too weak to do it too fast. The pain would probably kill him faster. Whether she tried or not he was going to die. God, she didn't want him to die in pain... Evey looked up at Brendan.
"I could try... I could try. But it'll only hurt him more... and I won't be able to do it in time..."
As she spoke, her voice cracked as tears flowed down them easily. She turned to Will and Cei.
Will was biting down on his lip so hard, it began to bleed, trying to keep himself from breaking down. Cei's eye's lit up when Evey mentioned her healing abilities, even after she said she couldn't do it. The cruenta looked at Jon.
"I could turn you," she said, a small glimmer of hope in her voice. "You won't die if I turn you..."
Evey took Will's hand. Brendan crouched down by Jon.
"The decision is yours, my friend. Cei is working on an antidote. You can take the risk and become a vampire yourself until Cei finds your cure."
With what little strength he had left, Jon shook his head.
Cei's expression fell, and she began to shake with sobs.
"I'm sorry, Cei..." he said softly. "I could never live like that... I still love you..."
He gave her one last smile before his eyes closed and his face relaxed. He was gone.
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