The Heart of EverythingFandom:
Nerys MacIntyre, featuring Keegan, Aerona and Bryn.Rating:
R or blood/violence and language.Word Count:
4234 >.>Authors Notes/Disclaimer:
This fic is a long time coming. To put it mildly. This is my half of a the duelling ficlet pair clez
and I 'started' wtf a long time ago, so it's a sort of follow on from Something Fragile
by the wonderful Clez herself. Keegan obviously belongs to her. This ate my brain and ran away and it ends abruptly :D!
Title and summary come from The Heart of Everything
by Within Temptation
.Summary: 'Stay with me now I’m facing my last solemn hour...' The Heart of Everything
Routine was comforting. The children were in bed; she'd bathed them, read to them and tucked them in, finding a deep seated comfort in the repetition of the routine that the entire family went through every day. There were variations of course, sometimes she and her mate exchanged places depending on their schedules or commitments, the balance between them wasn't always easily found but no one ever said raising a family was easy. It was challenging. Fun. Nerys sat reading a novel and enjoying the quiet which inevitably came after the twins were finally in bed. As usual the blonde lycanthrope was growing increasingly drowsy, on the verge of actually dozing off on the couch of the living room that had been generously set up for the family when something cut through the routine. It burst the pleasant lethargy that she had been settling into, waiting for her mate to come in from kissing the children goodnight as his first port of call upon returning to the family rooms, before slotting himself beside her on the couch and letting her doze lightly against his shoulder. But it wasn't Keegan's return. It didn't fit into the normal routine at all. It was jarring and caused Nerys to sober up in an instant. Listening hard she picked up the noises she had been hoping not to hear; fighting had broken out downstairs and the smell of decay was seeping through the crack under the doorway. Vampires.
In an instant her body snapped into action, leaving her mind reeling as instinct took over all decision making. She sprang to her feet, tossing the book aside and neither turning or caring to see where it landed. Before the spine had hit whatever surface it clunked dully against she was halfway to her children's bedroom. Quietly but quickly she opened the door and left it ajar behind her, warm yellow light spilling in through the opening and over the foot of the bed she moved towards. In muted tones she roused the sleeping twins. Aerona seemed wide awake in an instant and full of questions but knew well enough from gauging her mother's tone of voice and expression that now was not the time to ask them. Bryn by contrast was groggy and still half asleep as his mother tucked him into her body, his arms went around her neck instinctively, fingers tangling into her long, loose blonde hair. She held her hand out for her daughter and the gesture was enough. No questions. No arguments.
They crossed the room back out into the lounge and then the hallway, Nerys paused by the doorway and sucked in a deep breath before she opened it and peered out. The hallway was clear, for the time being at least and the mother ushered her daughter to stay behind her as she stepped out into the corridor, supporting her son in her arms as his head groggily lolled against her shoulder. The sensations sweeping through her body were nauseatingly familiar. Remembering dragging her siblings through her home in Wales she had to swallow her tears. The heart crushing panic came back to her, the sickening feeling of her knees about to give way from the fearful rushing of blood and endorphins, adrenaline careening its way to vital organs. At the same time though, this was different. These were her children. Her emotions were not dulled and muted by time. Everything was crisp and immediate.
"What's happening Mummy?" Bryn mumbled sleepily against her neck. Where her skin was chilled with fear his breath was hot.
Nerys kissed his hair gently, "Shh, baby,"
With the destination in mind, the back of the Hotel where there was an alleyway leading to the bustling streets of greater Los Angeles, Nerys started to jog, half dragging Aerona and holding Bryn in a fierce grip against her ribcage. They'd gone over this. Rehearsed it even. As depressing as it sounded to some. Keegan and Nerys simply did not take chances with their family. So they planned an 'escape route' for the worst case scenario; the pack home coming under siege. The group rounded a corner and Nerys knew at once they were in trouble. A vampire built like an SUV was striding directly towards them, a smile twisting his fanged mouth in a grotesque way. His words were blurred by the rush of blood against Nerys' eardrums, like he was talking to her through a wall and before she knew it Keegan was rounding the corner towards them.
For the next few minutes the fight was a blur. Jeers and snide remarks were fired at her by the vampire, trying to goad her into stepping away from the children but she couldn't. She wouldn't. Keegan told her to take the children and run between the onslaughts of attacks that rained down on him. He fell and then leapt to their defence again and again and all the female could do was hold onto her daughter's arm to stop her from trying to rush to her father's side. At the same time she held herself
back from doing the same. Bryn cowered behind her, she could feel his little fists bunched up in the material of her skirt, quivering unrelentingly and a tiny sob tickled her with the hot breath he expelled. Aerona had joined him. The vampire was making his way towards them.
Running was the only option. It was the only way to get the children out of harms way and both she and Keegan knew that. When their eyes connected there was a bleak understanding between them. They had to split up in the here and now if they had any hopes of saving their family. There was a wrenching in her chest. Leaving Keegan went against everything she would normally do. Her instinct was to remain by his side unwaveringly and her wolf grumbled and snorted with discontent at the idea of abandoning him. Keegan's final, beseeching gaze tipped the scales. As she knew he always would, he was fighting tooth and nail to give her time to get the twins out of immediate harms way and to cheapen that by being stupid enough to ignore the attempts was beneath her. Blinking back angry tears Nerys gathered the children, hoisting Bryn into her arms once more as he cried silently, unable to move without his mother's help through the fear that seemed to have rendered him immobile. They slipped down the corridor. Nerys paused for a beat at the mouth of the next turn and looked back. Ahead of her stretched an empty path to freedom. Or at least she hoped so. Behind her lay her mate, struggling to save them. Fighting for his life. It took all her strength to turn from the sight of him and the vampire and push onwards.
As they ran Aerona bit down on her lip so hard it was white. Nerys knew she was trying not to cry. Bryn did so freely and his mother's shirt was wet on the shoulder where he buried his face. Stop. Think. Nerys' eyes glanced around the hallway as she planned their route. They had been deviated from the pre-approved one set out by the parents what felt like an age ago and she had to re-orientate. To the left one of the doors sat skewed in its frame, the catch still settled home. Some of the wood in the top panel was broken at a ninety degree angle, bent outwards into the hall. By the looks of it someone had been thrown out of the doorway and into the hall from the room beyond. No evidence remained of whatever combat had taken place bar the broken door, and Nerys didn't stop to analyse scents.
"Hoooey!" A voice came from behind the three family members. "If it ain't a bitch and her runts!"
Frozen, Nerys recognised the renewed, bitter sweet stench of death curling through the air towards her. Assaulting her senses. Cursing that she hadn't been paying enough attention to the varying strength of the traces that had been left in the hallway system Nerys blinked a couple of times. Fighting to keep her composure. Smoothly she set Bryn down in front of her and manoeuvred her daughter to his side. Gravely, she turned on the spot.
." The vampire said, eyes widening and brows shooting up as he none too shyly gave the female a once over whilst her terrified children cowered behind her. "What's say I put the youngins to bed and we stay up and party?"
The vampire advanced. Nerys stepped back simultaneously, bumping her children rearward with the back of her legs as she went. A growl rumbled through her chest, up through her throat and into the hallway. One small fist tightened its grip on her clothing from behind. The tang of fear in the air flooded her brain and clouded her senses. As she went she turned slightly, directing her children towards the closed door on the right side of the hallway. Hungrily, the vampire watched their progress, following the group and keeping the distance between them small even though he did nothing more than follow. He was backing them into the room. Out of the hallway, more than happy to have them shut in a room rather than having to chase them. Nerys' body remained facing the vampire. Shielding her young. Her mate wasn't coming this time. As much as she hoped he would, that he had turned the vampire she had left him fighting to smoke and ash she knew she couldn't count on that. Gambling with her children's lives was not appealing to her.
Keegan wouldn't want that.
Be it maternal instinct or simple, undiluted rage something inside of her flicked into the 'on' setting at that realisation. Suddenly she knew that there was absolutely nothing she wouldn't do to protect her children and what that truly meant. Frightening in a way. One of her hands reached around her back, brushing a lock of long silken hair that she knew to be Aerona's through touch alone. Beyond that she felt for the door handle and gave it a sharp downwards turn. The catch sprang free and the door opened with a shove.
"Get inside." Nerys' voice was low and commanding.
Again the authoritative tone; "Both of you."
"Aerona." Nerys felt a start behind her, the sharp seriousness in her tone had caused her daughter to jump physically. "Take your brother and get in there. Close the door. Do not come out until I tell you to."
It took a moment but they obeyed her. Even after the door clicked to Nerys didn't move. Staring at the vampire instead she blocked the doorframe. Eyes that flared a luminous crimson swept over the door, as if he was mildly interested by the actions that the female had taken and nothing more. Committing the moment to memory before he spoke: "Hoo, Mommy's got balls
." Nerys was silent. "That door's not gonna keep me out, you know that. I'll huff and puff and blow it to smithereens. After I do the same to you, o' course."
Nerys' lips twisted into a grim smile but she still said nothing. It had occurred to her that Keegan had not changed to his wolf form in the fight that she and the children had fled from because he was frankly too big for the hallways, he wouldn't have been able to move. Nerys didn't have that problem. As a wolf she was small and lissom. As a wolf she had weapons in the form of teeth and claws. All that now remained was to find an opportunity to change.
Onyx obliterated the green of her eyes and Nerys' lips peeled back in a snarl, baring her teeth in a clear show of aggression. Her voice was deadly, even though it was quiet: "I'll tear your throat out if you try to touch them."
It seemed for a minute that the vampire was about to laugh himself hoarse at her words, but Nerys didn't move or react, just watched him.
"Bitch, you'll die trying."
That statement wasn't simple arrogance on the vampire's part. There was a very good chance that Nerys would indeed died in trying to protect her children. Only one member of the MacIntyre family was a fighter after all. If she had to die so be it. With any luck she would at least take the bastard with her. Silent again, Nerys simply watched her opponent as he fixed her with a scornful stare, full of hatred and hunger. Then he moved. A fist made of cold iron slammed into her gut before the thought of dodging it even entered her head. Breathlessly she fought to keep her orientation and balance. Still gasping for air she felt that same cold, hard fist crack across her jaw. Knocking her sideways. Teeth shook in her gums. Another impact felt like it caved the opposite temple. The floor pitched and the walls bent.
"Ha! This'll be easier'n' I thought!" The vampire cried triumphantly. "I'm going to enjoy ripping you to pretty little shreds." Long, clammy fingers intertwined with Nerys' loose hair, she felt their pads scrape across her scalp roughly. Yanked up from the floor by her hair, the mother gave a strangled yelp. With her eyes watering from the pain of the first assault it was impossible to make out more than the blurred shape of a wooden cabinet along the wall ahead of her. Dark smudges sharpened into doorways as she blinked and the tears dislodged themselves. Using her hair the vampire swung her towards the wall and pain exploded through the side of her skull, reaching through her head to set every nerve on fire. Nerys cried out wordlessly. A fist slammed into her ribs unceremoniously and all she could do was take it and shout and spit out blood as it oozed into her mouth from some unknown internal injury. Blood coursed from behind her ear but it was all superficial. Bruises and bumps. A snarl near her ear told her the vampire was tiring of the game quickly though and the injuries wouldn't stay that way for long.
As he slammed Nerys back against the wall again her blackened eyes caught sight of the broken door. Something snapped in her ribcage under another punch. Audibly so. Aerona and Bryn were only safe for now, for as long as she could protect them on pure instinct. Nerys heard the sound of scraping from beyond the door behind her and felt certain that her daughter was barricading it, she could hear her Ronnie ushering Bryn along. Suddenly a swell of pride rose through her. It was quashed as dead hands settled around her throat and her head was pressed back against the wall. The change was coming up fast. A rush of hot tingling swept up her spine followed by the familiar itching sensation. Like her skin was too tight all of a sudden. Black eyes turned upwards. Wide with comprehension; now was the time to do it. Before he robbed her of too much breath she mustered every ounce of strength she had and stamped her foot down on top of his. Her arms shot up through the gap between his and broke his hold on her forcibly. Her knee rushed up to meet his groin and her elbow slammed into his face. Then every powerful emotion her family sparked in her. Everything. It all went in to one hard shove and propelled them across the hall and Nerys thanked her lucky stars that Keegan had insisted she learn some basic self-defence.
Shock worked in her favour. The vampire blinked uncertainly as Nerys drove him backwards, eyes unfocused from the lycanthropic strength that fuelled her every move. Speed and strength he had not expected. In the blink of an eye he was crashing through the half broken doorway, leaving Nerys in the hallway. Bleeding but none the worse for wear in the scheme of things. He stumbled over his own feet as he tried to compensate for the residual motion as he fell across the room and away from the doorway, which was now nothing more than a gaping hole of splintered wood.
Without knowing if she had very much time for it, Nerys hurried through her change. Before the sound of crashing and cursing from the room the vampire had bowled into had died down the crunch of bones cracking against one another had filled the suddenly still air in the hallway. Sinew and muscle shifted and reshaped. There was a deep growl as fur bristled over skin and clothing fell away from lean, skinny shoulder blades. Fingers shrank into paws. Ears flicked. A tail swished. Briefly she shook her head and snorted, as if testing that she was wearing it right. An arch of her spine ironed out the kinks of having gone too long between changes. Then she was ready. Where the medium had once stood a wolf with pale blonde fur hunkered down low on all fours amidst a pool of crumpled, bloodstained clothing. Slowly, body low, head between her shoulder blades, Nerys crept over the fragmented remains of the bottom of the door. It hugged to the frame desperately, but there was no way it could really be called a door any longer.
Teeth bared and growling she advanced. Every motion carried the preternatural predatory syncopation of her race but with a gleam of the human intelligence lying in wait behind them.
Looking up the vampire rolled his crimson eyes when he caught sight of her approaching him; "Oh. Spare
me." He was pushing himself up from the carpet, the shattered remains of a floor length mirror were scattered around his feet. He laughed as he brushed some of the smaller shards from his shirt. "Little doggie like you's got no chance. Hell I'd take you home for a pet if I have my muzzle on me. What a shame I'll just have to kill you now."
As he'd walked nonchalantly towards the small form of Nerys' allowed her muscles to tighten, storing the energy she needed to get through this. Small she might have been, but she was fast
and she knew she could out manoeuvre the vampire in an enclosed space like this. She had to. Failure was not an option. Within a few feet of the female wolf now, the vampire lunged forwards but she was too quick for such a sluggish move. Nerys darted to her left and leapt onto the bed. Using it as a springboard she turned, forcing her muscles into obeying the sharp shift in direction as she attacked the vampire side on, going for his jugular. Intending to kill him. An arm got in her way as he moved to defend himself against her parted maw. No matter. Nerys' jaws clamped around the offending limb, her razor sharp teeth ripped through the shirt material and sank into cold flesh. Deep enough to scrape against bone. He tried to shake her off but the action only caused her teeth to slide and tear through his skin more. He screamed a curse and shook harder.
Nerys had to release. She tumbled away but righted herself in and instant, springing from her hindquarters to twist around and face her foe anew. Whatever the vampire was saying she wasn't hearing. Didn't care. She was still between him and the door. Between him and the pups across the hall. The vampire advanced towards her and she snapped her jaws, sending blood and spittle flying at the ferocity of the gesture.
The message was clear: Back off.
Apparently he wasn't interested in her message. A low kick shot her way and caught her hard in the muzzle. A high-pitched whine accented the impact and Nerys shook her head a few times, snorting as she backtracked from her target. In the lull he drew a blade. Panic fought to flood through her brain as the scent of silver peeled away from the malevolent looking blade but Nerys resisted it. Refused to give in to it. Silver or no she was going to rip the vampire into shreds. Even if she couldn't in wolf form effectively destroy his heart she could do more than enough to ensure that he wasn't getting up any time soon. This time when he lunged her she Nerys met him head on. There was no chance to formulate another move in her fog filled brain. Her paws connected with his chest and she shoved him backwards and down onto the carpet, following him as she bowled him over.
Time slowed. The blade plunged into sinew and muscle.
A howl rent the bedroom form Nerys' parted jaws, saliva and blood mixed together and beaded down to the carpet and she thrashed, wheeling backwards again. Unable to put weight on her right foreleg now. Her paw and the joint attached to it throbbed and burned madly and for a moment she was completely blind to her surroundings. A body impacting with her side on snapped her out of it though. The Vampire grappled her muzzle in one cold, dead hand while his other went to slit her throat with the blade, already coated thickly with the lycanthrope's blood. Nerys tossed her weight to the side and they rolled. The vampire landed on his knife wielding arm awkwardly and almost lost his grip on it. Nerys yanked back, using his grip on her to pull him along and it worked. The sudden movement wrenched his arm and the dagger shot out of his clammy, slick grasp. It span away beneath the bed and the vampire cursed loudly and fluently in a language Nerys didn't know or care to try and recognise.
Fuelled by rage that such a relatively small, female wolf who was in no uncertain terms, not
a fighter was doing a fair job of fighting back, the vampire grabbed her un injured foreleg. Still gripping her jaw fiercely he twisted and jerked it. Bone cracked. Then snapped. Agony sent Nerys' mind hurtling into a sightless, directionless panic. The sudden crash of distress against the inside of her skull granted her a burst of terror driven strength, manifesting itself in an uncharacteristic roar
allowed her to slip free form the grip that had rendered her mute above anything but throaty growls. The vampire's eyes widened as instead of shrinking away and limping into the corner to cower, the wolf settled on his chest, bleeding and almost mad looking with agony. Nerys ducked forwards, driven by instinct and nothing more. Her teeth sank into the cold flesh of the vampire's throat.
Nerys shook him relentlessly from side to side, splashing great arcs and sprays of frozen, ruby red blood onto the carpet. It sloshed coolly over her tongue and down her oesophagus but she refused to release. Any scream that tried to manifest form the un-dead creature beneath her was stopped short as his throat tore free and sailed through a camber to smack wetly against the wall and fall on the carpet amidst the broken mirror.
Flailing like a mad man the vampire tried to knock Nerys away blind and mutely. His face was covered in blood, it was in his eyes and mouth and up his nostrils and Nerys wasn't done. Progressively his thwacks against the side of her head, or aimed lower at her haunch became weaker and more laboured and the blonde wolf, now distinctly russet with blood as she liberated his organs from his body. Intestines trailed across the floor. Half a liver and a kidney sat by the bed and finally his heart. It lay quite still and innocent looking surrounded by gore on every side. The vampire lay in the middle of it all, caught in a spider web of his own innards that Nerys had tossed away carelessly in her blinkered determination to remove the threat and protect her young.
Only when he was still and no longer fighting her did Nerys stop. Panting. Exhausted. Her tongue lolled from her mouth, dripping yet more blood onto the already sodden carpet. Whining slightly as the pain came back to her, shattering through the haze of the kill and causing her ears to flick back and her tail to sweep lethargically towards the carpet, she limped away. Back to the door. Towards her pups. No longer possessing the strength to return to her human form, Nerys simply made for the door across the hall. On the other side of the wooden door she could hear her children crying, Aerona's hushed voice was trying to comfort her brother but Nerys couldn't sound her reassurance that she was right there. There was nothing she could do but turn in the doorway and settled herself into a curved heap over the threshold.
Once she had rested she would see what could be done next. Agony washed over her in waves, crashing and curling up her spine and her tail beat against the floor every so often as if trying to expunge the sensations when the rippled through her skin and bone, beneath the matted mess of her blonde pelt.
For now, broken as she was she would simply stand guard over her children. Until her last breath if she had to. ~*~