September 16, 2007
Red Lodge, Montana
Eli was a good leader.
Lenore had always known this. It was, after all, what had made her assign him his own clan decades ago, once their formal clan had become too large and required smaller groups. However, what Lenore had not quite realized was how effective Eli was with vampires who were newly turned or vampires who had suffered great traumas. She saw it in the way he treated the other seven clan members…and in how he treated her.
The student had become the teacher, indeed. Eli understood her faults – her fear of leading others after the massacre in Alaska, her inability to trust after Loki’s deceits – and he accepted her and, surprisingly, guided her.
Oh, Lenore had always listened to Eli’s advice before. He was one of her oldest friends. But this…this was different. For so many years Lenore had been the leader. Now, it was Eli who led. Who gave advice. Who comforted.
It had been rather unsettling at first…but Lenore needed it even more than she had known.
So she lived her years with him this way, following instead of leading. Taking comfort in the fact that there was no pressure to lead, no pressure to make decisions. Eli took care of them all.
Lenore did not exactly live her life in a fog, but that description bore close resemblance to her everyday life. It was just that she realized something after Loki’s betrayal – Lenore just needed to kill time until Willow was born and they could meet up, upon ‘Tara’s’ death, in Sunnydale. Then everything would be as it should be.
But, killing time was becoming more difficult now that a hunter was intent on killing them.
Lenore did not know him. He hid during nightfall and only attacked right after dusk, when they were weakest before feeding. Like most hunters, he was a lone wolf and went after the weakest members of their clan. So far they had lost four members.
When it began in Austin, Eli had turned to her, his eyes filled with grief.
“I couldn’t protect him.”
Lenore had wrapped her arms around her friend of 256 years. “You did what you could. When you heard Jonathon call out, you went to him. You tried to save him but the hunter was too fast.”
“And escaped too quickly,” Eli added bitterly.
“What would you have done if you had caught him? Kill him?” Lenore inquired reasonably.
Eli was silent for a long moment. They were hidden in a storage space below a barn, their living quarters for the last month as they fed on the cattle in the surrounding area. It was dark down here but Lenore’s keen eyes could see the features of her friend’s face, see the longing that lived there.
“I wish I had,” Eli finally said.
Lenore sighed, disappointed. She was distressed at Jonathon’s passing – he had joined them during the 1990s after someone turned him after a Nirvana concert – but she still clung to her values. “The river may beat against the mountain, but it cannot move it. Remember to stay steadfast in our faith.”
“Yes,” Eli had agreed – but it had not met his eyes.
Now a year had passed and they were still unable to fully rid themselves of the hunter. Every time the clan believed they had lost him, he showed up a few weeks later. The clan kept to the belief of Do No Harm but several of them wanted to get rid of the hunter for good. And Eli was one of them.
Lenore couldn’t fault him. Not truly. She had, after all, caved into her own darker impulses only a century ago. However, she was slowly moving more into a leadership role within the clan. Eli knew the path he was on was testing his will, and the path was thinning like ice in spring. He began to urge her to answer for him and eventually lead the clan to their next destination.
Now they were in Montana and beginning to enjoy the lives they carved out for themselves. Eli was a bartender. Conrad was a night watchman. Katerina was a dancer at a gentleman’s club. In fact, all ten of them had societal roles to play, even Lenore. She worked at a local greenhouse; it was a pleasure to immerse herself in the earth. It had taken decades for her magic to recover since she abused it and time with nature allowed her to reconnect to that aspect of herself.
She was there now, digging in the dirt to plant new tulip bulbs when Eli arrived. Lenore turned her head at the sound of footsteps, frowning at the dire look on his face. “Eli?” she asked breathlessly. That expression was one she was all too familiar with as of late.
“It’s Kat. He got to her. The mortician took her body before we knew; she’s in the city now.” Sorrow laced his words.
Lenore’s hands clenched, crunching the soft soil between her hands. “No,” she whispered mournfully. Kat had been so young. When they found her in Seattle five years ago she had been hanging out with the lesser vampires, the demon possessed, before they took her into the clan and taught her the right ways. As a human she had also been a dancer at a club and one night a vampire client had decided to turn her so she could dance for him whenever he pleased. But Katerina was strong in spirit and left the cruel vampire before becoming lost in Seattle.
Cold tears fell onto her cheeks and Eli came to sit next to her. She leaned into him and he petted her hair consolingly. Kat was the second member of their clan to die in the last two weeks here in Montana.
“I think,” Eli began after some time, “that we need you to do something, Lenore.”
Lenore pulled back with wary eyes. “And just what would you have me do?”
“We cannot elude him. It has been a year and already our numbers dwindle as we lose clan members to his knives. You must use your magic on him.” Eli gave her a thoughtful look.
Lenore’s mindlessly dug her right hand into the dirt, enjoying the softness between her fingers. “I will not use my magic against humans again, Eli.”
“I am not saying you need to kill the bastard – although I would not be wroth if you did – but I am only asking that you bespell him. Make him think he is a weatherman instead of a hunter. Anything!” Eli’s dark eyes glittered under the harsh light of the greenhouse lamps.
“Eli.” Lenore sighed. “I cannot. You know this. I have spoken to you on my struggles. I cannot engage in magic against humans and must restrict my use entirely. I can feel Gaia’s might when my bare feet caress the earth and she has given me ample warning – I must not abuse my gifts, or else the darkness will embrace me and I shall lose my connection forever.”
Eli looked away, his mouth set into an angry line.
“Eli,” Lenore begged softly. She hated the sudden feel of impotence regarding this matter. Even more so, she hated the way Eli looked at her.
“You’re right. You can’t help save us – just like you couldn’t help save us against Bilquis.” Eli stood, gave her one furious look, and walked out. He ignored her gasp of surprise and the painful expression on her face.
Of all the things he could have…why would he say that? Why? Tears stung her eyes and Lenore just sat there in the greenhouse for a long time. Perhaps she would have been angry at Eli’s jab, but she felt suffocated by guilt because she knew it was true. She couldn’t
save them, not then and not now.
When Lenore returned to their makeshift home – a farmhouse that had been abandoned in lieu of a new home the next acre over – at dawn the next day she avoided Eli’s eyes. But she did lead her clan in a prayer and ceremony for Katerina. They honored her memory with cow’s blood and candles. Gone were the days of Lenore requesting Mortemzilinas
from her account at Wolfram and Hart – humans had expanded throughout the Americas and there was little space for hunting anymore. Gone were the dense woods of the old days.
Lenore went to bed that night with a prayer in her heart. She prayed that the hunter would leave them alone. She prayed that Eli would understand and forgive her. And mostly she prayed to God to strengthen her faith again.
Living with Loki…Gabriel
…had injured her faith in retrospect. After his words about his ‘family’ – God – she couldn’t prevent the little niggling questions that would plague her mind after their separation. Further, she couldn’t help but question a god who created an angel like Gabriel, who then went forth to lead a very ungodly life. Pagan trickster gods, after all, were far from innocent creatures.
It hadn’t helped to learn from Anya all those years ago, during lunch with Crowley, that demons went to Purgatory instead of Heaven. That seed of thought had clung fast to her brain and grew larger as the years went by. Was it worth it to follow a god that would send her soul to a horrible place because of what
she was rather than who
she was? Lenore thought ‘no’ but her heart still loved God. Lenore supposed that she was so old that she had become stuck in her ways.
The next day, before his shift at the bar, Eli came to her. “Lenore,” he greeted with an incline of his head. He kept his gaze downcast as Lenore glanced at him.
“I’m…” Eli looked up at her. “I’m sorry for what I did. I lashed out. I didn’t mean any of that.”
Lenore’s lips pressed together tightly. “ Anger and alcohol have two similar reactions – they draw out the truth.” She looked away. “All niceties aside, I understand how you feel now.” And my, was that a painful thing. When they met again in the Amazon Rainforest, Eli had promised her he didn’t believe it was her fault. He did not hate her.
But apparently a part of him, albeit however small, did.
She looked away, studying the intricacies of the wood paneling on the living room bookcase.
Eli sucked in a deep breath and she stole a glance at him, only to see his features distorted in pain. “Lenore, I swear
, I didn’t….I was just angry at you. That’s all. I don’t hold you responsible for Bilquis. That was a long, long time ago. Please…forgive me,” he pleaded.
Lenore nodded, not quite trusting her voice. One side of her thought appeasement was best – just to accept Eli’s apology and be done with it. But his statement had hurt her deep in her soul, uncovering an old guilt that she had buried long ago.
“Alright,” Lenore nodded. She forced a smile. “Let’s just move on.”
Eli smiled, a wide grin that stretched his face. She always loved his smiles. He had always been such a stern-looking man that Lenore always felt accomplished if she was able to make him smile. With a silent laugh she presumed his stern expression and solid expression is what made him such a great bartender.
Around eight that night, Lenore cell phone rang. Brushing the dirt off her hands, Lenore got up from the orchids she had been tending, and went to the entrance of the greenhouse. She picked the phone up from her tiny desk.
“They killed Conrad.”
Something cold settled in her gut. “Eli?”
Conrad’s blood on them when they came in,” Eli snarled.
“Oh God,” Lenore whimpered. She clutched her shirt. “No.”
“I’m going to kill them.”
Lenore shook herself, pulling away from the grief to deal with this issue. “No, Eli.” She paused. “And who are they? It has only been one hunter so far.”
“It has. But two more hunters came in tonight asking questions. I directed them towards that farmhouse full of stoner hippies but the other hunter must have found them. All three are in here.” Eli growled low in his throat. “The man who has been hunting us for over a year walked into my bar tonight and I did not recognize him. If I had…”
Lenore knew there was no use arguing this over the phone. “I’ll be there soon. Are you still at the bar?”
“In the back. My shift ended…and if I see those filthy blood bags out there I will kill every creature in this building.”
Lenore closed her eyes in resignation. This needed to be handled tonight. “I’ll be there soon.”
She found Eli outside the bar, along with the other six members of their clan. They were in an uproar with half of them calling for the death of the hunters and the rest indecisive or against the measure.
“Enough,” Lenore commanded. “We will just leave tonight. I will utilize my Wolfram and Hart account to get us transported onto a different continent. The hunters won’t follow us that far.”
“But this is my home! I like
America,” Cecilia, a raven-haired vampire of one hundred years, cried out.
“Agreed. And I’m tired of running,” Markus snapped. “We should take them tonight!” Every muscle in his six-foot frame tensed and his otherworldliness was in sharp contrast to his baseball cap and jeans.
“Maybe we should just leave. It’s too dangerous here,” Yuriko said. Although she appeared the eldest of them all, turned into a vampire shortly after her fiftieth birthday, she had only been a vampire for five years.
Eli, surprisingly, stayed silent. There was an unspoken agreement between them to always have a united front, as good leaders should. Still, she would have thought the passion he felt on this topic would have led him to speak.
“And if we do leave, they will only follow us,” Cecilia added.
Lenore pursed her lips in thought. “Then we will ask them not to.”
The clan members looked at Lenore like she was crazy.
Roughly an hour later Eli and Markus were carrying in the youngest – and tallest – of the hunters. Eli strapped him to a chair in the corner of their living room.
“Watch him until he wakens,” Lenore commanded. She was upset by tonight’s events and wanted some quiet. Lenore retreated to the study to read “Pride and Prejudice”, an old favorite of her’s.
Less than twenty minutes later Lenore heard the hunter’s breathing become less shallow and his movements causing him to rustle in his chair. She bookmarked the novel and set it down before going into the living room. There she saw Eli leaning menacingly over the hunter and growling.
“Wait! Step back, Eli,” Lenore commanded. Her friend had a great deal of control and had not fed off of a human since he reformed at their first meeting. Nonetheless, she doubted his self-control at the moment.
Eli pulled back. His fangs retracted as he shot the hunter an angry stare.
Lenore walked over and pulled off the hunter’s gag. A tingling feeling ran through her as her hand brushed his temple. Her instincts told her that this was a good man, for all intents and purposes. Hunters, of course, were usually good people but she suspected this man was more innocent than most. His wide brown eyes held a light that she rarely saw in the average human.
“My name's Lenore, I'm not going to hurt you. We just need to talk.”
He gave her a scornful look. “Talk? Yeah, okay, but I might have a tough time paying attention to much besides Eli's teeth.” He jerked slightly against his bounds, emitting a delicious scent of fear, nervousness, and bravery. This one was a fighter.
Lenore shot Eli a look. “He won't hurt you either, you have my word. “
Laughing sarcastically, the hunter rolled his eyes. “Your word? Oh yeah, great, thanks. Listen lady, no offense but you're not the first vampire I've met.”
Lenore stiffened. She hated being compared to other vampires. Even though she no longer hunted her fellow demons, Lenore still despised their evil. “We're not like the others. We don't kill humans, and we don't drink their blood. We haven't for a long time.”
“What is this, some kind of joke?”
“Notice you're still alive. “ Lenore’s lips gave an imperceptible twitch.
“Okay, uh, correct me if I'm wrong here, but shouldn't you be starving to death?” the hunter asked with an analytical expression
“We've found other ways. Cattle blood.”
“You're telling me you're responsible for all the—”
“It's not ideal, in fact it's disgusting,” Lenore answered with dry humor. “But it allows us to get by.”
“Okay, uh, why?”
“Survival. No deaths, no missing locals, no reason for people like you to come looking for people like us. We blend in. Our kind is practically extinct. Turns out we weren't quite as high up the food chain as we imagined.”
“Why are we explaining ourselves to this killer?” Eli suddenly asked, anger in his tone.
“We choke on cow's blood so that none of them suffer. Tonight they murdered Conrad and they celebrated.”
“Eli, that's enough,” Lenore commanded in a thin voice.
“Yeah, Eli, that's enough,” the hunter mocked.
“What's done is done. We're leaving this town tonight.”
A puzzled expression crossed Sam’s face. “Then why did you bring me here? Why are you even talking to me?”
“Believe me, I'd rather not.” Eli was not the only one angry about the deaths of their clan members. “But I know your kind. Once you have the scent you'll keep tracking us, it doesn't matter where we go. Hunters will find us.”
“So you're asking us not to follow you.”
“We have a right to live, we're not hurting anyone,” Lenore implored gently.
“Right, so you keep saying, but give me one good reason why I should believe you.”
The hunter was right. How could she ask him to trust her, to trust them? Except… Lenore leaned in towards him, smirking slightly at the fearful way he jerked back. “Fine. You know what I'm going to do? I'm going to let you go.”
Startled, the hunter stared at her in shock.
“Take him back. Not a mark on him,” Lenore commanded him.
Eli covered Sam’s head with a sack and took him back to the truck.
Lenore sighed in relief. Soon this would be done. She needed to start packing.
After taking the hunter back to his motel, Eli returned while Lenore was packing. She set a box of old books on the table.
“In the truck, thank you.”
Eli walked towards her and grabbed her shoulders gently. “We can't leave like this. Lenore. Listen to me, we need to stay and fight.”
“They were my friends too, Eli, my family.”
“That's not what I'm talking about,” Eli spat. “This is self-defense. Kill or be killed. They can't hunt us if they're dead.”
Lenore’s stomach twisted in knots at the thought of taking a life again, especially an innocent life. Worse yet, it would be the life of a hunter, an occupation that ran through her bloodline. “Killing those three wouldn't solve anything. There's more where they came from. We're outnumbered. This. This is all we can do. Try and reason—”
“You can't reason with these people. They're going to kill us all anyway. We should at least take a few of them with us,” Eli argued.
“I'm not giving up hope,” Lenore stated stubbornly. “If we can change, they can change. Now go into town and gather the others. We leave before sunrise.”
Eli complied and Lenore was grateful. She hated arguing.
Now that she was the only one left in the house, Lenore set to packing everything in the trunk. She carried a box outside, thinking deeply on where they should head to next. Montana was near Canada; they could go up north and cut across to the artic areas. Polar beer blood tasted good. Although Lenore hated the cold – especially after their camp in Alaska had been destroyed – she knew that hunters would not follow them there. There was terrible predators up north and even if men did not fear monsters, they still feared wolves and bears.
A scuffle, like shoes against pavement, made Lenore’s ears perk up. She set the box in the trunk and turned around – only to see a man with a bloody knife in front of her. He was tall, dark-skinned, and possessed such hatred in his eyes that Lenore immediately knew this was the same man that had been killing off her clan members.
Lenore gasped and turned to run, but his arm hooked around her neck. The knife flashed in front of her, glistening with blood, and plunged into her stomach. Sharp, shocking pain flooded through her system and she began to feel the poison drug her.
The hunter behind her laughed. “Dead Man’s Blood, bitch.”
Many moons have passed since the last update (almost 6 months, le sigh). I am afraid all my readers may have given up on me! I have rewritten this chapter more times than you can believe. It was incredibly frustrating. Finally, I am satisfied with where I decided to start the next chapter of Lenore’s life. As you can see, I sped up about 90 years so we are closer to the present. Some may appreciate this, because I know many readers are eager for Lenore to experience the present day.
Please note this story is a Supernatural/Buffy crossover. The timelines for the series do not match up in real life, so I am meshing them here. I know some readers like to overthink this, but just trust me that I will make it all work out ;)References
**Gordon Walker: I've got this one covered. Look, don't get me wrong. It's a real pleasure meetin' you fellas. But I've been on this thing over a year
. I killed a fang back in Austin
, tracked the nest all the way up here. I'll finish it.
**“Bloodlust” – I have taken some dialogue from this season 2 Supernatural episode to use in this chapter and the next chapter. I do not mean to infringe on any rights, this is just some good-natured fun.