By Willow Taylor and Jenny Dickinson
Jesus, Jesus help
Jesus, I'm waiting
listen to your
words they'll tell you what to do
Jesus, were you
just around the corner?
It wasn't winter yet - but it was late fall so it only lacked a few days and degrees to make it truly winter. Shaper walked down the streets of the city blowing on his hands to warm them.
"I really got to get myself some gloves while we're here," he reminded himself, and turned the corner to the street where their inn was. Victor had made it clear he wanted to stay in a town for a good while this time, so instead of just renting rooms, they'd found an inn that rented studio flats. That meant Shaper, being the one with less money, slept on the couch, but it was like having an apartment - in short, a real home, something Shaper couldn't remember having. He smiled to himself, and started whistling happily, despite his cold hands. The rizen had loaned his mask to Amy, so he wasn't wearing it, not even on his belt. And he was in such a good mood, he wasn't paying any attention, until the blackjack descended on his skull.
Everything went black.
When he woke up, he was bound to a chair with layers upon layers of electrical tape. It had formed a solid nearly skintight blanket around him, so he could barely twitch - not enough moment to tense and try to rip out of it. He blinked trying to get his eyes to focus but it didn't help. He had no idea where he was.
"Well," he thought with a twitchy smile. "At least Victor is expecting me, so when I don't get there, he'll come looking." He winced. "Not that I want to be rescued again, but."
Victor wiped sweat from his forehead as he rocked back on his heels. "Ha," he muttered. "Try it now Amy."
Amy leaned across him to turn the hot water spigot and was rewarded by a stream of steaming water.
"You did it!" she exclaimed, grinning down at him. Victor made a face, a property of the mask seemed to be making any smile bigger than it had any right to be. So even if it did give Amy the ability to speak, some of the side effects were disconcerting.
"Was there ever any doubt?" he demanded cheerfully.
"Well yes," she admitted, turning off the hot water. "You're a damn fine supernatural hunter, and one hell of a lay, but I've never seen this handy-man side of you."
Victor blushed slightly and reached up tickling her. The vampire laughed and fell down into his lap. That led to a deep kiss.
"Hey," she asked after a moment. "Isn't Shaper supposed to be back by now?"
Victor pushed more than usually mussed hair out of his eyes and glanced at the clock.
"I think you're right. But I guess he found someone to talk to or something."
"Where did he say he was going?"
"The Guild-hall's library I think. Then the library at the Cloister." Victor shrugged. "I guess he wanted to look something up."
"Well nobody can stay an idiot forever."
"So shall we take advantage of the unexpected free time?"
Shaper sighed deeply, took a really, really deep breath and strained as hard as he could against the electrical tape.
"Ugh! Ugh! Ugh!" His struggles succeeded in nothing but knocking his chair over backwards. "So much for not being comedy relief any more."
The door behind him opened, grating on the cobbled floor, and laughter resounded in the room.
"Nice job there, Merrill, first time you've ever made me laugh."
Shaper tried to wriggle around to see who the guy was talking to, and then it sunk in.
The voice was speaking to him.
"Merrill? Sorry! Name's Shaper! You got the wrong guy I think. So why not just let me go and uhm...we'll forget this whole thing, neh?" he said, grinning up at the shadowy figure standing over him.
What he got in response was a kick in the ribs hard enough to steal his breath.
Hard enough he heard bone snapping. He'd need the mask to heal that for him. And even then it would take a day or more.
"Very funny Merrill. Now, tell me..." The figure knelt down next to Shaper. He had hair dark as midnight, and skin whiter than Shaper's pallid flesh. When he smiled, it was more fearsome than Shaper's ever could be, with or without the mask.
It wasn't that the smile was oversized, or full of shark-like teeth, no.
It was because it belonged to a vampire so twisted and foul-looking, Shaper's every nerve screamed for him to get up and run.
The vampire ran a perfect unmarred hand down his face.
"This is all your fault, you know. Yours and your pet demon's fault. You killed half my coven, and maimed me for eternity, Merrill. But I'm merciful enough to give you another chance at joining my ranks. Any human who can survive the magic backlash and wounds you suffered would be a most formidable vampire. But, it's your choice."
Shaper blinked. Then wondered if Victor ever had to go through mistaken identity stuff before, or Amy. He'd have to ask about it when they charged in to rescue him. Which with his luck, would be just after the vampire beat him to a bloody pulp.
"I'm waiting, mortal..." the vampire hissed.
Shaper winced as another blow rained down, this one catching him across the face, slamming his head into the floor, and leaving a coppery taste in his mouth. He spat, and something clicked on the floor.
One of his canines, elongated and fang-like, it could never be mistaken for a human's tooth.
The vampire picked it up and looked it over like it was a purple wombat in a tutu.
Then he tossed it aside and crouched down again.
"So, the demon DID change you. I knew you had channeled it that night, but I did not know it changed you so much inside. So. Will you join us, or do we have to use leverage?"
Shaper blinked, and stared.
"Leverage? What leverage?"
The vampire laughed and smiled, two inches from Shaper's nose.
"Why your partner and his slut of course. If we can get them to join, you won't have much choice - after all, we can always kill them later if you refuse us." He stood up and spoke to the darkness behind Shaper's body.
"Timmorn, Scut, make our guest more comfortable. Chris, Aynjel, go try and 'persuade' his partner over to our side, hmmnn? Take Remiel and Argus with you." He grinned.
"Yes lord Charon..." the knot of voices whispered, then Shaper heard them leave.
He struggled against his bindings anew, feverishly trying and failing to get free again.
"NO! Leave Victor out of this! He's just a human! And he's not my partner! PLEASE! Let him be! He's never done anything to you!"
Timmorn, a lanky auburn-haired male with an eye patch kicked the rizen in the head with a steel-toed boot, silencing his protests.
There was a loud insistent knock on their door, and Victor looked up somewhat put out.
"I think that Shaper forgot his key."
"That'd be just like him," snorted Amy, sitting up and arranging her top. Shaking his head and pushing his bangs out of the way, Victor got up to open the door. Fortunately, in town and relaxed or not, he was still a suspicious bastard, so when the door crashed open, Victor had his gun on hand. And up, when the first vampire snarled at him. BANG.
"VICTOR!" shouted Amy angrily, "that's gong to come out of our security deposit!"
"I'm sorry - no more gun, alright?" He put it back in the holster.
"You killed Aynjel!" the shocked other vampire said.
"Yeah, I'm such a bastard. He broke down the door. That's coming out of our security deposit too." He lit a clove. "Speaking of which, I don't think we've been introduced. I'm Angel Shelly, and you're the asshole that just pissed me off."
"And then he tore half my hair out, and broke my arm, and my nose, and my balls and told me that if I didn't take him to whoever was giving me orders, he'd make me wish he killed me."
"So what precisely is going on?" Victor demanded, lighting another clove. "I gather this has something to do with Shaper?" He blew out a cloud of smoke and frowned. "If you've done something to him, I'm going to have to kill you. He's not very bright, but he's very loyal."
Charon sniffed disdainfully at Victor's ragged appearance... then set hungry eyes on the veil-clad vision beside him.
Amalthea half hid behind Victor's larger frame, not liking that look one bit.
Then Charon looked back at Victor, amused.
"Shaper? You mean Merrill Foxhunter's changed his name to SHAPER? Feh. Well, we haven't killed him... if that's what you mean. We'd rather not have his pet demon get mad enough to rip us all apart." He smiled, and it was not a pretty sight. "Come, sit down, won't you? I have things to discuss with you."
Victor scowled, but before he could answer, Amy did.
"And what, pray tell, would we 'discuss' Mr. Ugly?" Amy snarled from over Victor's shoulder, the mask's powers making her look far more menacing than she was. Which wasn't much, seeing as how nymph-like Vampire babes never look really menacing.
More like a sex-pot than menacing.
Victor did, however, nod his agreement with her, the guy WAS ugly... it looked like something had sheared the skin off his face, leaving his vampiric teeth bared to the elements, and not much of a nose either... like all the flesh had just been peeled off, leaving muscle and bone behind.
Victor half-betted that when Shaper had seen it, he'd puked.
Charon settled back into his larger chair, and smiled.
"We're going to talk about how you are going to join my coven, or I'm going to send my people out to slay random townsfolk until you do. Starting with your freaky partner."
Victor seethed. Amy snarled. They were both ready to kill this monster.
Only thoughts for Shaper's continued lifespan kept them from doing it. They had no idea in this warren of tunnels where he was, if they were being watched now, or if they'd get there in time to save him if they did decide to kill the thing.
Victor didn't even know HOW many of these things there were in here, or out on the streets, watching their targets until the order was given to kill.
Shaper coughed, it was muffled by electrical tape wrapped around his face, and he wondered hazily why.
Timmorn stared menacingly down at him, a sharp dagger in his hands. Shaper's knees ached, along with his back and shoulders. They'd tied him kneeling to a post in the middle of a room, with electrical tape. If he could've spoken, he'd have quipped about them being too cheap to buy rope or chains. But as it was, he could only mumble.
He still wondered why they'd shut him up, after all, Charon seemed interested in learning more about him, when he heard Victor's voice nearby. Muffled, not getting closer, but close enough. Behind the door then.
Shaper threw himself into a frenzy trying to escape again. All he got was bruised knees, and a dislocated shoulder for his efforts. Timmorn merely laughed cruelly. Which was part of what Shaper wanted. He was hoping Victor would hear that, put two and two together, and come bail him out, because without the mask, he was pretty much a human who couldn't die. And he wasn't even sure on that last point.
design ©2001 by Cindy Rosenthal
Wake Up Dead Man © 2001 by Willow Taylor and Jenny Dickinson
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