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Author Samarkand

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Recent entries from sam_arkand - the blog of Samarkand

NOTE: This blog has been rated FR18 by the author. Blog content is not moderated by TtH

Inspired by re-reading Girl Genius and this fic by Illustrationstaringiscaring, I present a re-imagining of our favorite series in a reality of steam and dark sorcery...


*****

"NOOOOOOOO!"

Anne Summers whipped her sabre through the neck of one of Count Von Zandt's minions. The half-vampire half-mechanical spider--what did you call those things? spidertaurs? sampires?--dissolved into ash and brass flakes as slayer strength and Toledo steel severed its armored spine. The Count himself rolled in agony, his vast ironclad bulk cracking with the stress as his engines exploded. The pretender to the undead throne of London less ashed than exploded in a cloud of fiery debris. Anne ducked a stray bit of shrapnel.

"Some, argh, help here?" A hand waved from beneath an overturned sarcophagus.

"I told you to be adjacent to the fray!" Anne levered the mass of cracked marble off "Xander" Harris.

"I had him at my mercy," insisted her boon companion, brushing dust off his peaked cloth cap. "This was, uh, shamming as part of my master plan."

"Of course." Anne grinned. "Although your scheme to sneak holy water into the Count's boilers worked."

"At your service, my lady." Xander sketched a bow. "No one messes with Anne the Vampire Slayer and Xander the Great--ow, ribs, ow."

"We should examine you on the ship." Sir Rupert Giles emerged from the shadows, dispatching a crippled minion with a stake-dart from a pepperbox pistol. "Anne. Five minutes. You were a little off the pace."

"I am going to slay," Anne grumbled, "that stupid pocketwatch of yours."

"I ...
Posted: 12 Feb 11 11:26 • More • Comments
Title: School's Out
Fandom: BtVS
Characters: Xander, Cordelia
Warnings: R rating, spoiler for end of S3


School's out for summer
School's out forever
School's been blown to pieces


"We're taking a moment," Oz said. "And, we're done."

As one, the Scooby Gang turned their backs on the smoldering ruins of Sunnydale High. For Xander it was the perfect way to end his high school career: power walking out of the smoke and flames with all his friends action-hero style. Sure beat his usual vision of how graduation was supposed to go. That usually involved him watching from the sidelines as the new janitorial staff hire while Willow did the valedictorian speech. Seriously, this was the coolest moment ever. They should have gotten the Dingoes to do a bad-ass guitar riff as background music.

No dusters, though.

The Avengers were already disassembling a block away. Oz and Willow veered away in the direction of her place. Xander resisted the urge play Mr. Tricycle. Will's expression told him that activities in the footsie-under-the-table--or hiding under the covers in a shirt and panties--category were about to happen. Huh. That probably explained why Will was nearly late for her own grad-- Bad thoughts. Very bad thoughts! Buffy headed for Revello Drive. Go with? In her "tree pretty" daze, Xander wasn't sure if butting in with the jokes was the best idea. Slayer speed had her a block away before he could ask her.

That left him alone.

Wait.

Xander glanced to his left.

Alone with Cordelia.

Definitely not how he expected graduation to play out.

Cordelia looked good. Of course, Queen C had always made it a goal in life to look great while pointing out how bad you were in comparison. The blue knee-length dress and cardigan worked on her. A lot more modest than her usual Princess of The Mall outfits, but even on a budget she was runway rea...
Posted: 19 Nov 10 22:47 • More • Comments
Title: Fairytale of New York (3)
Fandom: BtVS
Characters: Ensemble, core cast and Sunnydale survivors
Warnings: None for explicit sexuality or violence.
Ships: Gen, aside from canon relationships by "Chosen"

I go out walkin'
After midnight
Out in the moonlight
Just like we used to do


The Drake garage was like Cordelia's closet: something for every occasion, and dressed to impress. It was less a garage than a luxury dealership underneath an old coach house at the southeastern wing. A drive-in elevator on the back wall would bring up any of the Drake toys for a spin around the city. The best of Italian, German, and Japanese automotive engineering waited on four wheels and two, each example on their own platform. From the heavy smell of wax, Kennedy's family didn't bring by their cars down to the local wash. Each vehicle had the sheen associated with the weapons Giles kept for special company.

Xander sat behind the wheel of a Ford Mustang, parked in the small section devoted to classic American iron. His one-day reign as Car Guy had ended the second his Uncle Rory had seen the dents on the Bel Air's bumper. Still, enough of Lysette's lecture had drilled through to let him recognize the model. This? This was the car he should have taken on the road trip that hadn't seen much road or trip. The Porsches and Mercedes over there were too bloodless, the Italian ones too finicky. What you needed was solid Detroit steel to see this great land of ours. Unfortunately, the metal-to-rust content in the AMC Gremlin he had ended up buying had put the lie to "steel" and "solid" in the above description.

Xander turned up the volume knob on the CD player.

Every road trip needed music.

I walk for miles,along the highway
Well that's just my way of saying
I love you


Outside the front windshield, the Pacific Coast Highway rolled out in lazy curves all the way north...
Posted: 15 Nov 10 20:23 • More • Comments
Title: Peekaboo
Fandom: BtVS
Characters: Marcie Ross



Before, I was an emotionally disturbed borderline sociopath with serious body issues and a scalpel fetish.

Now I work for the US government!

Heh. You've heard that line before, right?

It's true, though. I wouldn't call myself Miss Stable . Whenever I see some pouty-lipped bitch on a billboard, a part of me wants to sneak into her apartment and pour a vial of acid over her pretty face. Did that one time in Paris. Her name's not important. No name, no pack drill as my peeps over in MI-6 say. I listened to every moan and snore while I tilted the beaker full of sulphuric acid. Maybe I should have done that do Cordelia instead of-- Ah, hell, water under the bridge, right? Anyway, I didn't actually do it. All I did was let a tiny drop go hiss on her pillow. Freaked the bitch out, though. When I checked on her the next night, she was up doing lines of coke to keep awake. Every single light in her place was on.

Wouldn't have stopped me, of course. But I didn't do anything more.

I'm much better now.

It's been a good life since the Feds picked me up sophomore year. You wouldn't believe how much the government was knocking on our secret program's doors when those planes when splat on the Towers. Talk about right place, right time. I knew choosing Arabic and Urdu for the language component in training was a good idea. Pays to smell where the wind's going. I've been a busy little secret agent girl ever since. The big problem for our lords and masters back then was getting decent humint on the tangos. Not easy when the Agency had been steering away from the messy business of dealing with meatbag informants. Lots of bad PR potential, trying to recruit terrorist wannabes and criminals to crack the tight-knit jihadi networks.

Or they could use us.

You'd be surprised. Most of our work is surveillance. Oh yeah, the lords and ma...
Posted: 25 Oct 10 20:14 • More • Comments
Behold! Methos at Twisting the Hellmouth was inspired to do this amazing banner for "Pigtails and Tweed"

Illustration
Posted: 8 Aug 10 17:57 • Comments
Many thanks to betas Illustrationfrogfarm and Illustrationtigerlily0484. Check out the former's long running FtVS and the latter's fic "When the Floods Roll Back" on their respective LJ's.


Title: Fairytale of New York (2)
Fandom: BtVS
Characters: Ensemble, core cast and Sunnydale survivors
Warnings: None for explicit sexuality or violence.
Ships: Gen, aside from canon relationships by "Chosen"




Busy, busy.

Andrew Wells tapped his way through the schedule on his Palm Pilot. He sat at his desk in the butler's office. The office was little more than a small room off the kitchens with an antique roll top desk taking up most the space. One wall was covered with small light bulbs connected to the bell pulls in each room. He kept an eye on the bulbs in case he was needed. One must be attentive. Of course, the office wasn't "his" at all. He had merely appropriated it while the Drake family staff were at the summer house in the Hamptons. Still, it was a quiet place for him to work out the day's schedules and the bills he needed to submit to Miss Kennedy.

Andrew noted down rearrangements for dinner's place settings. Nafisa and Ruth had had a teensy tiff today. Putting them on opposite sides of the room would give them the space to calm down. One had to be sensitive to the feelings of exuberant young women. Closing the application with a stylus tap, Andrew tucked the personal organizer into the inner pocket of his jacket. He smoothed down the dove-grey fabric. One must always be presentable. The fit was perfe...
Posted: 26 Jun 10 19:45 • More • Comments
Hey folks. I'm back, with a new tale. This is a sequel to "Why She Fights".

Title: Fairytale of New York (1)
Fandom: BtVS
Characters: Ensemble, core cast and Sunnydale survivors
Warnings: None for explicit sexuality or violence.
Ships: Gen, aside from canon relationships by "Chosen"


"Thanks for the lift, Clem," Faith said, slinging her bag over a shoulder.

"My pleasure!" replied the demon with a face only a shar-pei could love. "You saved my bacon from those guys in Baker."

"Yeah, well, it's this redemption kick I'm on." Faith shrugged. "No big. Call it quid pro."

"And don't worry." Clem mimed twisting a key between his lips. "I never saw you. That way you don't have to threaten to hunt me down and slowly torture me to death. Ha. Which you won't, right?"

"Work for one evil mayor..." Reaching down, Faith pulled a wad of bills from her sock. "Here. Gas and food for the road, and a sweetener for being quiet."

"Wow!" Clem fanned out the fifty dollar bills. "This will really help to set me up in Cleveland. Where did you get it?"

"One night stand with a hot rich dyke." Faith thumped the side of his car. "Now, get out before some cop sees you next to an interstate fugitive."

Clem favored her with a cheery thumbs up before driving away towards the Holland Tunnel. All the demons in the world that get the shit kicked out them by rednecks outside of her no-tel window, Faith thought, and it happens to be one of B's bestest buds. Fact was, Clem had saved her ass way more than she had saved his. Southern California had been chaos in the wake of the Jasmine Riots. It had taken her a week of dodging cops and National Guard just to get to Baker. She had been sure she'd be made by the CHP and Guard troops at the border from the fugitive BOLO that had to have been issued. Clem had managed to bluff ...
Posted: 9 Jun 10 19:01 • More • Comments
Unabashedly porny, kinky AU ficlet of Dark!Willow/Faith set by the end of Season 6. Consensuality between the two parties involved is ambiguous to say the least.

Faith spasmed.

The dark-haired, sultry slayer writhed on her knees in the cell. Tight bands of darkness crushed arms together from just below her shoulders to her fingertips; only her inhuman flexibility and strength stopped the magic bonds from dislocating both shoulders. The girls in front were definitely out and proud. More darkness bound her folded-legs into a classic frog-tie kneel, invisible hands forcing them so far apart she might as well have been doing the splits. She grunted a very unFaithish whimper that would have been a scream except for the black substance filling her mouth and gumming her lips together.

Shit tasted chalky.

Whatever had happened to Red? Had to have been bad. Faith had never seen Willow as much of a threat. A lightweight even with the rumours about the nerdette stepping up with the magics. This? Red was flat-out pedal to the metal, balls-to-the wall dark. Stepped right out of the shadows of Faith's cell, her midnight hair and jet-black eyes matching her dark clothing. Goth-Willow? Sexy on a level Faith had never considered. Faith had stared at Will as much in surprise at the her easy grace as her sudden appearance. The second of the Chosen Two had thought only she could walk with that much menace with a toothy smile.

Then things had gotten so much worse.

The slayer arched against the unseen things probing her cunt. And ass. And mouth. And tiny little claws tongues fingertips on her clit keeping her just there. Will lounging on the bottom bunk, studying Faith with a little smile that scared the kneeling woman way way worse than anything else she had ever seen. Kakistos had wigged her out less. God, she needed to cum. Only it had been, what hours? Wasn't stopping. Minute Faith got close, Red wiggled a pinkie and ...
Posted: 3 Apr 10 17:56 • More • Comments
Anne was in her Yellow Period. Dipping the roller into the tray, Anne painted the walls of the new nursery a sunny hue. She had gotten plenty of practice doing this when setting up the Teen Center. Days of investing literal sweat equity into an office building one step away from the wrecking ball. Spray cans hissing, Tater and Deirdre threw up a graffiti mural of the residents of Hundred Acre Wood in hip-hop style. Poo on the turntables, Piglet in shades rocking the mike. Volunteers in the hall outside put together a crib donated after a quick call to one of Anne's contacts. Everyone pitching in to welcome the new life born into their midst.

It was a good start.

Anne mopped her face with the kerchief tied over her hair. It was roasting in here in spite of the fan. Her heavy work-overalls weren't helping. One last swipe with the roller, and the second coat on the last wall was done. They would start on the borders--masked off with tape and newspaper--after it dried. Draining a glass of iced tea from the common pitcher, Anne decided to check in on Rosita and little Jesus. Until the nursery was done, the new mom and baby were bunking in a chill-out room downstairs. Ricardo-- Well, he was in the wind. If and when he decided to face up to his responsibilities was his business. Anne peeked in to see how Rosita was handling things.

"Hey." Cordelia rocked Jesus in her arms. Rosita snored on the bed beside them. "I came by to drop off something. I heard you were fixing up things for the kid, but, manual labour? Not my thing. I thought I'd sub for the mom instead."

"Every little bit counts," Anne said.

"Pregnancy can run you down. Swollen ankles, stretch marks, pig's blood cravings--" Cordelia sighed. "Normal people who are not me get the twenty four hour flu. I got knocked up with hellspawn for a day."

"Lots of pamphlets on safe sex downstairs," Anne offered.

"I got that memo, don't worry." Cordelia kisse...
Posted: 6 Feb 10 11:45 • More • Comments
How to respond to the fire alarm in your apartment building when it goes off at 2:30am in the morning:

* Lurch awake

* Grab robe, long parka, and boots.

* Head out front door, checking for heat. Or go out on fire escape/balcony

* Realize it was false alarm, grumble, go back to bed.


How I did it:

* lurch awake

* robe, parka, boots

* CAT! Where is pet feline, can't leave her to fiery and smoky doom

* Wrestle with cat carrier buried in closet, prompting cartoonish comedy avalanche noises

* Cat has ran under bed and into bed frame via hole she clawed

* Grab catnip, try to lure out

* Snarl, bodily lift up bed (with bad back, even, adrenaline is a wonderful thing), dump out cat

* Seize cat in full nelson, stuff in cat carrier like I was making sausage

* close carrier, stumble out door in robe/park/boots

* stand like an utter twat with scared and annoyed cat banging head against carrier door as I discover it is false alarm

* stay awake until Oh God O'Clock due to adrenaline and bad Chinese take-out consumed with father

* wonder why the hell I put myself in danger over animal-- *flop* *nuzzle* *scritch* *purrrrrrrr* Right.
Posted: 23 Jan 10 08:18 • Comments
    Of all things, I've been nominated in the Porn Without Plot category for the Willowy Goodness Awards for Completely Gratuitous Shower Scene


   Yay me!

Illustration
Posted: 21 Jan 10 22:23 • Comments
Their hands roamed over each other's bodies. Anne pressed close to her lover's form. In a few hours she would have to go back to the grind of the diner. Avoiding Mitch's gropes, dealing with smart-ass customers and small-time cons who tried to play twenty-and-one. Here, now, under the covers of this badly-sprung bed in this tiny apartment? She was happy.

A moan as fingers slipped down to touch there and there. Anne arched as fingers capable of bending rebar worked within her. The other woman arched back as Anne matched her rhythms. Jade-green eyes hazed with lust stared into Anne's. Blond hair with a hint of dark at the roots framed features that were unexpectedly young. She could be a spoiled brat from the Valley or a cheerleader meant to hang on the arm of the quarterback. Her lips curved in that quirk Anne loved so much. So often, her lover faced the dark. To bring her joy--

Oh.

They collapsed into one another's arms. Anne thought it wonderful, how unmarked her lover's body was despite the night's battles. Perfect.

"Anne?"

Soft voice in her ear.

"Need you to do something."

Anything.

"Live for me."

++++

Green eyes.

Sharp claws swiped at Anne's nose. Startled, she jerked away only to fall onto the floor. Sophie landed far more gracefully beside her. The grey tabby streaked out out of the room with a plaintive mew. Anne rose on hands and knees. Sophie. Right. The cat had been in the building when they had taken it over for the Teen Center; she had never accepted that the humans were the rightful tenants. That must mean she had slept overnight on the cot in her office again. Honestly, she might as well move in. Her small apartment on Willoughby was little more than a place to store her bed and clothes. Always meaning to decorate, never getting around to it. She must have decided to stay here after--

After.

Anne buried her face in her hands...
Posted: 20 Jan 10 21:01 • More • Comments
Anne Steele worked through the jumble of account statements on her desktops, both real and virtual. Outside the closed door of her office, she could hear the muffled chaos of volunteers passing out the new batch of clothes donated to the East Hills Teen Center. Like tossing chum into a shark tank. Really, she should be out there-- Anne kneaded her temples. No. This first.

Bills, always bills which were never quite balanced by the month's donations. The street kitchen van needed a new alternator, an inspector had ordered the kitchen's wiring brought up to new code, a thousand other costs. At least Virginia Bryce had sent in her usual handsome monthly check; Mr. Nabbit had promised nearly new computers for the life-skills lab. And, if needed, she could dip into the two and a half million a certain law firm would have to be kept in the dark about. It would mean a few extra "anonymous contributions" to launder the money.

Hard work. Six months spent bussing tables in the cheapest diner in Los Angeles taught you quick how to juggle figures, though. Anne could handle it.

She had it on the highest authority.

+++

Lying on a couch the common room, Anne finished up a chapter in her sociology textbook. Thank God CalState had a distance learning program for social work degrees. You could only go so far on a GED and life experience. At least the shelter had finally quieted down enough for her to squeeze in study time. Ten p.m. curfew was past. Everyone had bedded down for the night. Always a bear that last hour before the cut-off. Working the door, weeding out the high and drunk, forcing yourself to stick to closing the doors even when you wanted to take in one last soul.

The women's washroom door banged open. Out came a small troop of street kids. A brassy voice lecturing about winter and summer looks followed. Cosmetics case in hand, Cordelia Chase held up a compact to show Manuela her "bold new look". The young woman...
Posted: 16 Jan 10 22:32 • More • Comments
Norristown, PA, 2005

Some cases stay with you.

Detective Len Fenerman watched the crane lift its burden out of the old sinkhole. The forensics team took infinite care as the rusty safe was placed on a tarpaulin pegged out on the ground. The coldest of cold cases, perhaps. But one that had lived on in the department's collective memory; no one wanted to screw up on this one. The techs worked over every inch of the outside of the safe, in hopes that the son-of-a-bitch would have left behind trace. Wherever George Harvey was right now, everyone on the force wanted every chance they had to nail him when his devil's luck finally ran out.

A sharp intake of breath when the team began working on opening the safe. Abigail stood a few feet away with the others. Still beautiful after all these years. A part of Len wanted to go to her, the same one who had shared her pain and her bed. Instead, he stood respectfully off to one side with the other detectives who had worked the case. Abigail and her family stood a few yards away. Jack leaned against his wife as if she were a pillar of the world. Buckley supported his dad on his other side. Lindsey's spine was ramrod straight, though she rested in--what was his name, right, the younger of the Heckler boys--the arms of her husband. Watching in the funny-solemn way of kids, a young girl clung to Lindsey's hand as the safe finally was opened after so many years.

The low barrier put up around the excavation site stopped Abigail Suzanne what the team, piece by piece, recovered from the safe. The tomb of Susie Salmon. The rest of her family did. Len did not watch their reaction. He did not need to. There's a certain cry you hear if you put enough time into homicide investigations. Imagine a whimpering puppy. Then imagine it crushed by a car, yet still alive and begging. The keen of Abigail and Jack rendered afresh made the hot summer day even more obscene. The part of him that had loved Abby...
Posted: 19 Dec 09 06:34 • More • Comments
Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor...on the accordion.

Rock it hard core, baby.
Posted: 5 Dec 09 06:57 • Comments
Then the children of Israel cried unto the Lord their God, because their heart failed, for all their enemies had compassed them round about, and there was no way to escape out from among them.
Thus all the company of Assur remained about them, both their footmen, chariots, and horsemen, four and thirty days, so that all their vessels of water failed all the inhibitants of Bethulia.
And the cisterns were emptied, and they had not water to drink their fill for one day; for they gave them drink by measure.
Therefore their young children were out of heart, and their women and young men fainted for thirst, and fell down in the streets of the city, and by the passages of the gates, and there was no longer any strength in them.


Book of Judith: 7:19-22


Pain. Between her thighs, in the wound at her side, at feet still unused to walking barefoot on sand and stone. Was this Purgatory? Bethany wandered among the hills, lost and alone, as if a soul denied the balm of Heaven and the judgment of Hell. What had she done to deserve this? What was her sin? Was this a test? The Hebrews had wandered in the desert, enduring many trials, before coming to the Promised Land. The Lord Jesus had suffered on the cross. Bethany walked in the valley of death, but she feared not. God would provide. He provided the dew she had licked off the leaves of a bush this morning, the dead bird she had eaten raw at noon. He had given her the strength to--

To.

So much blood.

A shadow in the hillside. A cave hidden beneath an overhang and scrawny trees. It was...familiar. Bethany had never been this far north. Yet it was if she knew the land as well as the fields of her village south of Gulu. At times, it was as if she wore rags wrapped around her body rather than a torn schoolgirl's blouse and dress. The knife always clutched in her right hand sometimes became chipped stone rather than rusty steel. Bethany paused at the cave's mout...
Posted: 29 Nov 09 12:13 • More • Comments
A note: the atrocities of the Lord's Resistance Army are all too real. Those who are disturbed by scenes of sexual abuse and other horrors should take note.

+++

In the eighteenth year, the two and twentieth day of the first month, there was talk in the house of Nebuchadnezzar king of the Assyrians that he should, as he said, avenge himself on all the earth.
So he called unto him all his officers, and all his nobles, and communicated with them his secret counsel, and concluded the afflicting of the whole earth out of his own mouth.
Then they decreed to destroy all flesh, that did not obey the commandment of his mouth.


Book of Judith: 2:1-3


Imatong Hills, Uganda, May 2003

Forty days and forty nights.

Bethany floated out of herself while her husband grunted into her. Forty days and forty nights it had seemed she had been walking with the men. It could not have been that long. It felt that way, as if she were with Noah in the Ark while the rains came down. Before, she had been in school with the others. The Sisters had said she would have a cake for her birthday. Fourteen candles, there would have been. But then the men of the Prophet had come in the night. Most of them were only boys--stolen from villages or from the fields, forced to carry guns almost as tall as themselves. Leading them were older boys and men, mad from the Prophet's words and years of living in the bush. They had shot the gatekeeper of her boarding school and fallen upon the dormitories. Bethany's class and three others had been marched out into the jungle to become wives and concubines. Now she was the Lieutenant's wife.

She had screamed the first time.

She had learned not to after the beating.

Bethany silently prayed to God and the Lord Jesus. His mercy was infinite. Surely he would welcome her into heaven no matter how filthy her body had become? Sinking deep within herself, she cried the n...
Posted: 29 Nov 09 12:11 • More • Comments
What it said on the tin.

*****

 Snow reminded Buffy of miracles.      She had seen snow before.  Mostly during the Christmas trips to her Aunt Marge in Napierville as a kid.  She had seen snow after.  Like that time David Nabbit had invited her to go to Gstaad while they were finalizing the budget, and she had said she didn't have anything suitable for Gstaad, and then he had casually given her the kind of credit card which brought on a reverential hush when it was presented in a retail setting.  Not that she had gone overboard or anything.  Just a few suitcases--well, wardrobes--to put in the pack of the corporate jet headed for Gstaad.  Buffy felt that deserved further emphasis.  Gstaad.  Where there had been snow, which she might have even noticed if she had not been a little bit distracted she was in Gstaad.      Still, there was a special sort of snow that brought to mind the snowfall that one Christmas in Sunnydale.   A sunrise that didn't, fluffy white flakes that did, and Angel.  In spite of all the pain and all the sadness, the magic of the moment remained.  A sign that there was still hope, and grace, and a chance of love.      Buffy watched the snow fall silently on the front lawn of the patrol house.  It was a Third Bear snowfall: not too little, not the dreaded blizzards constantly promised by a Cleveland winter.  Just right--tiny puffs filling the air, forming drifts that brought to mind tumbling out the next morning with Celia in their snowsuits.  In her lap was an open cookie tin full of Andrew's patented holiday confections.  Buffy wasn't sure when Andrew had transformed from mildly-annoying hanger-on to the ambiguously-gay hobbit who mother beared slayers and watchers with Christmas cookie shipments.  She weighed a sugar-encrusted shortbread biscuit with a calorie count that generated its own event horizon.  With the sigh of a woman who will regret it later and decided not to care, B...
Posted: 18 Nov 09 22:06 • More • Comments
Pistol in hand, Ziva descends the stairs. A whisp of smoke curls out of the muzzle of her gun. One step two steps three. Down into Sheol, the resting place where both the righteous and wicked dead sleep together in peace until Moschiach comes. Her half-brother lies in the shadow of Gibb's boat. Blood pools beneath his head. He had always called her "shochet"--the kosher butcher trained to make a clean cut. Or a clean shot. As every night when her dreams take her here, she mourns the brother she loved instead of the monster she listened to in those last moments.

Ululation. The terrifying cry Palestinian women issue in mourning. The girl kneels by Ari's corpse in thobe and mandil. Scarlet screams down a face covered by hands clasped over her eyes. The grief-cry drowns out the Mourner's Kaddish Ziva says every Day of Atonement for Ari
--Yit-gadol, yit-gadash, shmei rabah. It drowns out thought. Only pain and rage remain. The girl's hands fall away. What could have been attractive Arab features are twisted into something that sends Ziva trembling into the corner. Trapped as Gibbs was under Ari's aim. Ziva cannot raise her weapon. She cannot do anything except watch as the girl with her dead brother's eyes advances upon her. An Angel of Death over Egypt, and no lamb's blood by the door will turn her aside.

Ice. Ducky had once said that was all he had seen in Ari's eyes. Ziva had seen much more: humour, what she hopes was true love for her and Tali, compassion as he worked over the sick. Now all that she sees is ice, framed by the skull-mask painted in blood around them.

"I am coming."


+++++

Adrenaline rushed through Ziva when she snapped awake. It was sour and jarring, like the dregs of a cold coffeepot. Ziva clamped down on the instinct to fight or flee. An old reaction. One learned early on through her Aba's training and in the army. One hand was already under the pillow on the Smith and Wesson Model 60; a ...
Posted: 13 Nov 09 22:22 • More • Comments
"A werewolf attack?" McGee asked, beer mug frozen halfway to his lips. "Really?"

"Right out of American Werewolf in London," DiNozzo said, sipping his own draft with relish. "First year on the Baltimore homicide squad. Five chewed-up bodies, spread over three nights all over the Western. What we used to call a 'full Cleveland'."

"A serial killer who wore leisure suits and white belts?" McGee's brow wrinkled in confusion.

"Points for the obscure 70's fashion reference." DiNozzo leaned back to assume his patented "reveal wisdom to Probie" pose. "It's cop slang. Everyone knows Cleveland's where the Weekly World News gets half its material. A full Cleveland is a case is the stone whodunnit every smart detective roundfiles if he can. Those are career death if you follow them up."

"That sounds like a very high profile case," Ziva said. "I am surprised you were able to shovel it away."

"Command did use a big spade to spread the manure," DiNozzo replied. "'Feral pit bull pack'. Brilliant. Right up there with--"

"Barbecue fork accident," Ziva muttered.

"Murder by ice pick for us." DiNozzo poured himself another glass from the communal pitcher. "Was that Mossad's pet explanation for vampire attacks?"

"No such thing as vampires," Gibbs said, seated at the bar with bourbon glass in hand.

"No argument from me, canopy beds from hell aside." DiNozzo winked at Ziva. "Mossad agents have to, quote, 'be open to things one cannot see'. Bet sweetcheeks here has a bottle of that garlic cologne Abby was passing out last month in case Dracula goes kosher."

"Actually, Dracula might have been an Israeli ally," McGee said,"at least the historical Vlad Tepes..."

Ziva David half-listened to the conversation degenerate into a combination historical lesson of Wallachia and debates over who was the best Dracula ever. According to Tony, Bela Lugosi's iconic performance was tec...
Posted: 11 Nov 09 22:46 • More • Comments
Note: this a sequel to Pigtails and Tweed

****

Director of Mossad Eli David stared out at the landscape passing outside the car window. Highway One was an apt symbol of Israel's position in the world. The main highway linking Tel Aviv to Jerusalem wound among the Judean hills in its eastern reaches. North and south were the Occupied Territories--promised by Hashem to His chosen people, now contested between Israeli settlers and the Palestinian rabble who squatted there. The route to the capital was a narrow, precarious path snaking between enemy lands. The burned out hulks of tanks and trucks along the fringes were memorials to the intense fighting during Independence and the Six Day War, to keep the road open to the heart of Yis'rael.

In front, his armed driver and bodyguard listened to chatter from the escort teams posted behind and in front of the Director of Mossad's official car. A partition of bulletproof glass cut off the sound from the passenger compartment. Eli was alone.

He had been alone for some time. A wife who grew ever distant with each passing year. One daughter long dead, a traitor of a son executed on his orders. As for Ziva-- How ironic that one of Israel's most ardent children should seem more and more lost to the Galut. Lost to him. Perhaps it was even justice, for what he had encouraged her to become since a child.

He glanced at the file atop his open briefcase. Surveillance photographs from a sayan--one of the Institute's volunteer "helpers" among the Diaspora--who was a Virginia private detective. Ziva in a cafe, caught laughing with her friend and co-worker Abigail Sciuto. How long had it been since she had ever honoured her Papa with more than a small-yet-loving smile? By Sciuto's side was a slim red-haired American woman. According to the dossier compiled by the sayan, a certain Violet Brady. Roundi...
Posted: 9 Nov 09 08:46 • More • Comments
Our Slayers, Our Selves by Andrew Wells, Esq.

Into every young woman's life comes a change. Before, she is a shy bud closed against the world. Then, one day, it comes. The bud trembles with life and strength. The miracle happens. A new day dawns as her petals open to greet the rosy-fingered dawn of a new stage in her life. She has become a glorious, vital flower. Naturally, there will be questions.

Among them may be "I can now bench-press a Volvo?"


Weirdest informational hand-outs, ever.

Abby tucked the pamphlet back into the stack on Rupert's desk. The books on the study shelves definitely weren't ordered according to Oprah's top ten picks. Those that weren't in dead--or undead--languages contained the sort of woodcuts that stretched even her taste in the macabre. Andrew Wells'--Esquire, don't forget that--helpful hints on slayerhood, dealing with sudden-onset lycanthropy, and simple recipes for the busy demon hunter was the most normal reading material at hand. A faint snore came from the concealed door, left ajar, in the study's panelling. The sound of an exhausted Watcher Emeritus sleeping off the effect of a worked up Abby in bed drifted down the spiral stairs leading to his room. Post-coital chatting? Not up for it. Although, with the right application of dental floss, Rupert had been up all--

Abby idly wondered if one of the rooms down the hall could fit in a coffin. Rupert's chambers were too cramped.

Um.

Getting a little ahead of herself.

Was she?

The District patrol house was quiet as a tomb, though she might have to rethink that simile these days. More snores betrayed slayers whose alcohol tolerance has met its match in Abby's decision to change "thank you for sex" cases of beer to "thank you for stopping the apocalypse" kegs. Rupert's objections had been drowned out by the collective rush of super-strong feet. Apparently, the motto of Chosen Ones aft...
Posted: 6 Nov 09 21:09 • More • Comments
One thing about DC: great sense of production values. Abby sat next to Ziva on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The Reflecting Pool was the darkening blue of an early summer day shading to twilight. The Washington Monument rose up like a don't-think-of-Jimmy-Palmer-at-all spire, the tip glowing bright from the setting sun. If you squinted, you could see the National Mall and the Capitol Building beyond. Tourists and District inhabitants clustered around the Memorial and the banks of the pool. Some took pictures, others followed tourist guides, some even were having al fresco dinners on the grass. Ordinary people doing ordinary things. Statistically, of course, at least one of them might know about demons and vampires and an eternal battle between good and evil. Here, though, in the fading day one could only see the world and the beauty in it.

"'I know about pigeons, Lilly'," Abby said, sipping Caf-Pow through a straw. "Kate always quoted that when we came here."

"In the Line of Fire." Ziva laughed. "Too many nights watching movies with Tony. He's infected me."

"Is that all you did on the couch?" Abby asked.

"Ahabla." A lethally-quick hand flicked Abby's ear in rebuke. "I was too busy taking notes on the assassination plan, and Tony kept comparing Eastwood against Connery."

"We have to get the team together again for movie nights," Abby said, tossing a piece of chocolate muffin to a cooing pigeon. "Are you okay? You've been quieter than usual."

"I am alright." Ziva stared out at the madding crowd. "What Jimmy told us is not too different than what little I understand of kabbalah. The other...places are the qlippoth, the dead shells of creation. If they are real, of course, this means that--"

"You're regretting every pepperoni pizza you ever ate?" Abby winced. "Think about me. The next time I go for confession, I'll have to be hypnotized so I can remember every sin I never copped to...
Posted: 1 Nov 09 22:43 • More • Comments
She could do this.

Sweat trickling down her back, Abby stood before the entrance to Autopsy. The underground room, with no sunlight, and all the dead bodies. One of which might suddenly come to unlife and slowly slide out of the morgue drawer when your back was turned and it would be Ari, only not Ari, something even worse than Ari wearing his face. And it would be Abby down there instead of Kate, like it should have been the first time around.

She could do this.

She had to do this.

Ducky had to be warned.

A small yet strong hand in the small of her back. Her life seemed to filled with small yet strong women. Abby could see Ziva as a Slayer: dark hair flying, stake whipping out, carving a swathe through a horde right out of Army of Darkness. A David destroying a thousand Goliaths. Now it was alright, it was fine. Ziva was here. Ziva was one of the team. Ziva had learned the Gibbs Rule #0: Always have your partner's back. Someone had her six. Abby could do this.

Jimmy Palmer puttered around the morgue, straightening instruments on their trays. Tall, dorky, reassuringly normal Jimmy. Okay, so he was a complete klutz. Not to mention probably had a secret stash of Sex and the City vidcaps that focused on the bottom of the screen for maximum drooling time over Jimmy Choos and Manolos. Still, context. Normal. Breathing easier, Abby walked into the morgue. Her boots clacked on the tile. Jimmy raised his head as if to sniff the air.

"Oh, garlic doesn't work on vampires," Palmer said, cleaning a scalpel.

Abby had what could only be described as A Moment.

"--has anyone ever told you to lead up to certain announcements?" Ducky said dryly.

"I was only trying to--OW" Palmer recoiled from a slap upside the head.

"You--" At the end of the vision tunnel, Ziva paused as if going through every language she spoke for the bon mot. "You utter putz!"

"'M okay." ...
Posted: 28 Oct 09 21:32 • More • Comments
"Happy birthday, Tim!" Abby said, rushing into the bullpen with gift boxes in her arms.

"Thanks. But it's, uh, not for a few months." McGee blinked when he opened the box. "A cross? Perfume?"

"Never too late to accept Jesus in your heart." Abby hung the gaudy wooden crucifix around his neck.

"Gah!" McGee flinched when she doused him with several puffs. "Garlic! Much too much garlic!"

"It's anti-microbial," Abby said. "H1N1's just around the corner. We've got to do our bit for herd immunity."

"Seriously, you smell like my Great-Aunt Sofia's kitchen," DiNozzo said. "I'm having sausage and polenta flashbacks."

"Happy pre-birthday to you too," Abby said, advancing with another box.

"Already covered." DiNozzo fished a small gold cross on a chain from beneath his shirt collar. "Ziva will be on me about size and overcompensation if I sport one that size. Also, 'Eau de Mafioso', not my idea of man-scent."

"C'mon, please!" Abby pulled out her big guns: the wide eyes.

"We suddenly move to Santa Clara?" DiNozzo asked.

"'Only problem with Santa Clara,'" McGee said between frantic applications of a wet-knap, "'are all the damn vampires.'"

"Lost Boys. Classic '80's vampire movie," DiNozzo said, "Kiefer's big break out. I think Fright Night and Near Dark did more with the trope, though. Let me guess, Abbs, some bad pizza and late night Lugosi got you freaked."

"Right." Abby smiled a touch too wide. "Because vampires aren't real."

"Not laughing, my sweet Goth." Opening a desk drawer, Tony took out a novelty pistol crossbow. "Of all people, I understand the terror that flaps in the night. Most kids worry about the monster under the bed. I had to worry about Carmilla on the canopy sucking out my precious bodily fluids. I still have my stake."

"Your security blanket was a stake?" McGee asked.

"Carved Mr. Pointy my...
Posted: 25 Oct 09 11:38 • More • Comments
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