Relations in Blood


Years in the Secret Service, hopping around the world to places like Spain, Turkey, and Pakistan to name a few, had taught Morena one valuable lesson: sleep when you can. Which isn’t to say that she didn’t require a little help now and then. But after a string of sleepless nights and equally stressful days, the clock was ticking down on her full system crash. T-Minus…right now.

She’d managed to keep it together a lot longer than what would make sense given her emotional state. But it had been those very emotions that created the need for perpetual awareness. At first, concern for Jesper had fueled the hours. Then jealousy over this crackpot wannabe shrink she’d made the mistake of contacting had become the source. Fear had then begun to creep in after the shop attack and what came after, married up with the sense of betrayal and utter vulnerability. And now, now she was just numb. Spent.

She needed her perspective back. She needed something to get her back to that office tonight for round two. She couldn’t let the errand boy fend for himself. She’d seen the way he fought…nope, couldn’t let him go it alone.

She popped a few melatonin pills, said a mental “F* you!” to the nightmares to come since the herbs gave her nasty-mares, and slipped under the covers. She was snoring within a half hour, never mind the sun streaming in from a gorgeous, not-so-sleepless-in-Seattle summer day.

As day turned to night, the sun slipping beneath the Puget Sound amidst the ferries and cargo ships, the Space Needle pointing up at a moon in first quarter on the rise, Morena’s awareness began to fuse back together, first a sense of the weight of her covers, then the briny smell from the nearby locks, and the far away buzz of traffic as the Ballard crowd began to fester out onto the streets.

So deep had her slumber been, she barely remembered any dreams at all and she stretched her limbs, her hand reaching under her pillow for the comfort of her Glock. Instead, something smooth, cold, and hard nicked her palm and she sat up with a start.

Even in the low light of her apartment, she could see the blood oozing from the gash across her hand. Flipping the pillow up, she found herself staring at a familiar looking slightly bent blade. The kukri. But how…

“Sorry about that.”

Morena started again as Lucy shrugged out of the shadows. She pressed a bandage into Morena’s palm and began wrapping a dressing around it. In an instant, Morena clearly understood Nick’s earlier anger at having his parents’ business and home invaded by her noisiness. It had been with the best of intentions. But what possible intentions could this vampire have with her?

Lucy finished the dressing and met Morena’s gaze with dark eyes that seemed bigger than her face should allow. She’d chopped her hair into a flapper girl bob, looking very much like Clara Bow. The thought almost made Morena smirk. Her ears seemed healed.

“May I sit?” Lucy asked, still holding Morena’s hand.

When Morena said nothing, Lucy took her silence as consent and sat on the edge of the bed. After a moment, Morena took back her hand, brought it to her chest, and covered it with her other hand, not wanting a repeat of the previous interaction with Lucy’s brother.

The room fell into an uneasy silence and Morena surmised that Lucy was expecting questions. When Morena couldn’t form any, or at least decide on the first one to flow from her still sleep addled mind, Lucy spoke up.

“I’m sorry about the cut but it’s the safest, best way to form a bonding.”

Morena blinked, “Bonding? What sort of bonding?”

“Between you and the kukri.”

“And why the Hell do I need to bond with a knife?” There. That was better. She was feeling more herself already.

Lucy relaxed back an inch, the corners of her mouth deepening into her cheeks. “It’s not a knife. And it’s not just any bladed weapon.”

Morena made to stand to which Lucy quickly put a hand out.

“I wouldn’t do that just yet.”

Lucy was right. The moment Morena reached full height, the sensation of a disconnection between her body and her mind hit her and she collapsed back onto the bed. Morena managed to stare down at her bandaged hand. There was a warmth trembling through the meat of her hand, moving up her arm. “What…what’s wrong with me?”

“It’s just the blood bond with the kukri. It’ll pass in a moment.”

And so as suddenly as the feeling seemed to be building up to a crescendo that threatened to engulf her arm, it crested and dissipated. “Wha..?” She threw a questioning look to Lucy.

Lucy crossed her legs casually. “Well, you don’t expect to do anything with that silly gun, do you? Just relax for a few moments.” Then she reached around behind her, producing the kukri to show Morena.

“And how is that thing going to help me with vampires?”

Lucy rolled her eyes just as Morena noticed that she was wearing gloves. When she was sure Morena noticed, she nodded. “Now are you getting it?”

“You can’t touch it? What happens if you do?”

“Hard to say, really. I’m allergic to silver, which is folded into the blade. But its effect on other vampires will be more pronounced and will vary. Legend says the kukri, once bonded by blood, protects the bearer by finding its enemy’s weakness and revealing it.”

Morena blinked at her. It was hard to tell what was harder to swallow; that Lucy was giving her a weapon to kill vampires or that this mumbo jumbo was real. But considering Jesper could emit sun beams from his eyes and Lucy here could disappear into a cloud of birds, why shouldn’t the blade work like some magic talking sword?

Lucy held it out to Morena and she took it gingerly. It was heavier than she expected as she held it in right hand, her cut hand. Funny, it didn’t hurt to grip it tight. She hefted it, feeling the weight. While a strange shape, somehow, she knew exactly how it would feel to throw it.

“Good, you’re getting the hang of it. But you’ll probably still need some training, “ Lucy stood.

Morena sneered, looking up at her, “What, from you?”

Lucy threw her a sharp look. When Morena looked back down, Snuffy, her favorite stuffed animal, a pink Easter Bunny, was in her hand. The kukri was on her desk alongside her Glock. With the clip removed. And the bullets moving around the desktop. The thought was utterly sobering. Might as well have been her head.

“Don’t mistake bravada for stupidity. You still haven’t fully seen what your boyfriend’s capable of.”

Morena took in a deep breath. “It’s not like that. Not anymore.”

Lucy relaxed, letting out a breath. “Good. Vampires make terrible boyfriends.”

Morena couldn’t find it in herself to laugh but when she looked at Lucy, she sensed the punch line hadn’t hit yet. “Oh, and why is that?”

“Because they’ll bleed you dry, given half the chance.” Lucy’s lopsided smirk belied a deeper message.

Morena didn’t want to think about that part of her acquaintanceship with Jesper. That had been quite enjoyable, on reflection. And that she did NOT want to reflect on.

“You’ll get over it. I promise you that.”

Morena stood, “Already am.” She shuffled over to her desk, lightly touching the Kukri. She noticed a box sitting on the desk chair seat. “What’s this?”

“Oh, that’s a box of the modulators. Figured you might want to carry them, just in case. Damn nuisance that I can’t figure out why Sophie’s voice doesn’t come through.”

Morena opened the box, adding idly, “Maybe because she thinks too much like a vampire.”

Lucy shrugged and headed for the door. “Maybe so. In a few days, we should start training with the kukri. With all the activity around, you should be prepared.”

“Is Sophie going to like you training me to hurt vampires?”

Lucy opened the door, tossing a casual look back. “Don’t mistake me, Miss Fourtenay. I’m not going to train you to protect yourself against vampires. I’m going to train you to kill them. Goodnight.” And as if to accentuate her point, she exploded into a murder of crows and flew out the door, the sheer gust of flight sucking the door closed.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

But she didn’t go far, up the staircase, through an open window on the landing, out into the sticky night air, to alight on the rooftop. She craned her neck to look down, standing just above Morena’s apartment window. It was risky using her powers so openly but Morena needed to know what she was up against. Her very soul depending on it.

Lucy turned and walked towards the roof’s charming garden, a few rows of raised cedar boxes, with every kind of herb growing. The summer had been hot and sunny in the last few weeks and the plants were taking full advantage. There was a quaint rusty patio set with a rocking chair and a trellis. It would suffice for her first night’s vigil.

As she approached the patio, she noticed a shadow from the trellis lengthened over the gravel rooftop. She started as a figure materialized out of the shadow and grabbed her arm.

“Maurice!”

Her brother’s face bristled with intensity, as if devouring every detail. It had been hours since sundown and she had not checked in with him. She couldn’t be sure if it was concern or anger etched into his countenance.

As he was about to speak, his eyes took in her shorn hair. “What happened to your hair?” his voice trembled in barely controlled emotion.

Her ears had healed sufficiently to all appearances but under the surface, the bruising of rapidly regenerated flesh still lingered and would for some time. With his deep breathing, controlling his anger, anger that had started to turn dark of late, she knew he could smell the blood pooling in her tissues. There was no use in lying to him. He was still her beloved brother, no matter what he was struggling to become.

“I burned my ears. Scorched them doing recon.”

He released her arm, his face falling. It took the breath from her, this sudden shift. The grouchiness she was getting used to, even the anger when it flared. But this, this was something new.

“How have I failed you so completely, dearest sister?”

She shook her head, “I don’t understand what you mean.”

When she thought he might speak, he swallowed his thoughts away. When she reached a hand to him, he turned his shoulder away, staring up at the moon. For many moments, they fell into silence and Lucy tried to reach out her mind to him, to find a shred of the bond they had shared for so long that would unlock the puzzle her brother had become. But all she felt was his deathly silence.

“Did you give her the Kukri?” he asked softly.

“Yes. And I was going to watch over her tonight. Just in case.”

He nodded. “Would that things were different and we had met her under other circumstances.”

“Life proceeds as it does, brother.”

He turned to her, his eyes gone dark. “But we should be its master.”

The shadows around the rooftop began to swirl around Maurice, as he took a single deliberate step towards her. “Come, we have work to do.”

Lucy steeled herself. “Someone should stay behind to protect her.”

“She is a Fourtenay. She can take care of herself. At least, at the moment.” Maurice put his hands gently over Lucy’s shoulders but the effect upset her more than relieved her of worry.

“But Maurice, the Kukri is new to her. What if the wound still bleeds? What if others find her? We must protect her.”

“We must protect our own. And for that, there is work elsewhere needed.” He rubbed her ear, saw her grimace. “I know what you have been stalking. You must come with me now.” The shadows began to inch up their legs as they stood there, uniting them in darkness.

Lucy tried to twist from his grip, resisting. “But Maurice, she—.”

“You WILL obey me!” Vox Compulsum shattered ceramic pots all along the rooftop. And then, the shadows made in his image roared up, consuming them entirely before dispersing into the night, leaving only an echo of Lucy’s scream.

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