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Forgotten Love by Carla

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Before they're through/ They'll have me hunting you. - Eddie and the Tide "Power Play"


“Just get the fuck away from me!” Anna exploded. Her body movements matched the intensity of her words as she shoved herself off of the couch and away from Dwayne. His hand, which had been about to stroke her cheek, fell back to his leg, while his eyes locked onto her retreating form.

Once she disappeared around the corner, his head dropped into his hands, which vibrated slightly. In the months since her sister had shown up, Anna’s attitude had taken a rapid decline, but always had she allowed him to try to comfort her.

Until now.

Dwayne didn’t understand what had changed, didn’t know what had brought about this overwhelming anger in the other vampire. She hadn’t been acting like this a day ago.

Though, if Dwayne had been honest with himself, he would have realized that she had been acting like that a day ago, and a week ago, and a month ago even. Slowly, so slowly that few had noticed, Anna had distanced herself from everyone in the pack.

She was taking the same steps she would take if she were preparing to leave her Pack for once and for all.

Dwayne refused to let himself see this.

He couldn’t handle that as the truth.

*~*~*~*~*~

Anna knelt in one of the more hidden rooms to the connecting caverns that made up their home, resting her forehead against a large, cool rock. Occasionally the icy stone would soothe the pain that still ravished her mind. Today was not to be one of those times, but sometimes it did help her deal with the feelings.

Laddie approached her unmoving form slowly, taking care to make enough noise to alert her to his presence, but not be loud enough to upset her, as so much did lately. When he was able to come within a foot of Anna, he rejoiced, for that was closer than he had been in weeks.

“Anna,” he whispered, hesitantly holding out a thick bottle, a plainer version of the one David used during his rituals. “You need to eat.” She lifted her head and gazed up at him blankly, her normally blue eyes glazed over so much that their original color couldn’t be determined.

Laddie took this as a good sign and pushed the bottle closer to her. Anna’s gaze dropped down to it, then returned to his face. After another moment of empty staring, she jerked the bottle from his hands and turned away, pressing her forehead back against the rocks. Laddie winced when he saw the smears of blood appearing where the dark stone met her pale skin, but began to back away. He’d learned not to question Anna, not to even dare speak to her most of the time.

The little vampire hesitated once at the back of the cave, staring forward at his friend, his almost sister, then turned away before his tears could stain the hard floor. Nothing so trivial as the tears of her Pack could mar the perfection of Anna’s sanctuary, and she enforced this with a passion few had seen from her lately. They were not allowed in the room for more than a moment at a time, and Laddie feared that if he did anything to disturb her one place to escape, Anna might quit communicating with them altogether.

Anna stroked her fingers up the neck of the bottle, then higher to trace over the soft cork filling the top. Her nails dipped into it to pull it out before she hesitated, pressing her lips to the cool glass, the only barrier that separated her from the rich blood inside.

The bottle smashed against the rock wall a moment later, sending a shimmering mass of glass and blood showering to the floor, the dark liquid tainting the pale stones while the glass glittered like diamonds amidst the sea of red.

Anna returned her forehead to the large rock, pressing harder and harder against it until the pain in her mind was almost replaced by the pain in her skin as it tore, leaving pale shreds behind on the stone, and spilling her blood, which dripped down, filling the small crevices until it pooled on the floor.

*~*~*~*~*~

“She’s gone,” Marco whispered. He stepped back into the main room of the cave, leaving behind the ledge from where he watched Anna’s angry departure. The rest of the Pack sprawled around the room, settled on armchairs or across the long couches, with Laddie even sitting on the floor.

“What the hell is wrong with her?” David wasted no time on preliminaries, instead jumping straight into the conversation. No one attempted to answer his inquiry, and he felt the need to voice it again, his frustration bubbling up and welling over into anger. “What the hell is wrong with her?”

“We don’t know, David!” Paul burst out. “Don’t you think we’d say something if we did?” He glared up at the older vampire from his position on one of the faded leather couches.

“We don’t know what’s wrong,” Adam broke in before David could retaliate with his own harsh words. “But we need to figure out what is going on, so we can help her.”

“Maybe. . .” Star began, but trailed off without finishing her thought. Michael squeezed her hand, offering her his support, and somehow she found the strength to continue, though the entire room was gazing at her, expectation in their eyes. “Maybe she’s sick.”

“Sick with what?” Dwayne snapped. “It’s not like she can catch a cold or something. Vampires don’t get sick!” Star shied away from his outburst, hiding behind Michael as best she could. He shot a murderous glance at Dwayne, but the dark-haired vampire didn’t notice.

“I think she’s purposely pushing us away,” Shauna muttered, just loud enough to be heard.

“What?” Laddie cried out, aghast at the accusation. “Why would she do something like that?” Shauna didn’t bother answering him and instead looked towards David, her eyes focused on his face.

“Because she’s going to try to take over the Pack,” David explained after a moment. He hadn’t meant for his thoughts to be brought to head so soon, but Shauna’s comment had made it inevitable.

“What are you talking about?” Paul asked, kicking his feet off of the arm of the couch. His boots made a heavy thud when they slammed against the floor, but he didn’t continue the movement to his feet, and instead waited impatiently for David to explain himself.

“She told me once, not too long ago, to lead, or she would,” David started to explain, but Victoria broke in, her sharp words interrupting him, though she wouldn’t have dared to do so before.

“That’s not true,” her words were quiet, though forceful. “She told you to lead, and she would follow, but if you didn’t lead, she would. You’ve been leading, haven’t you? Then you have nothing to worry about.”

“If she doesn’t approve of how I’m leading, which is what was happening when she made her threat, then she will try to take over. As she is trying to now.”

“You have no proof of that!” Dwayne burst out, shoving himself to his feet. “You know she wouldn’t do that. How many times do we have to tell you, Anna has no desire to lead us.”

“She forced me to take on Adam and Victoria, though that did turn out to be a wise decision. She didn’t approve of taking on Shauna. When I asked if she was going to follow my new lead, she didn’t answer me.” David gazed shrewdly at his old friend. “Honestly, Dwayne, and tell the truth here, do you really think leading has never crossed her mind? Do you really think she can handle following someone else forever?”

“She wouldn’t do this!” Dwayne argued. “You’re paranoid. She’s not like you, not power hungry like you. . .” When his mind caught up with his words, he trailed off.

David remained silent for a moment, then caught Dwayne’s eyes once more. “Are you certain? Would you bet your life on that?”

Dwayne parted his lips, intending to deny David’s statements once more, but he found that no words would come. He knew Anna better than any present, and he couldn’t lie to himself, not about this, and not now, not with her gone.

“I’m telling you,” David continued when it became apparent that Dwayne wasn’t going to speak. “Anna wants to lead us. This is her way of going about it, her way of resting power from me.”

“By driving us all away?” Adam laughed derisively. “Not the best way to start a leadership, in my opinion.”

“She’s just trying to keep me from learning of her plan,” David reasoned. “And it worked—for awhile. But she waited too long.”

“If this is true,” Michael stressed the if, but continued on. “What are we going to do about her?”

In response to that, even David was silent for a moment. “I don’t know,” he finally whispered, the sound aching after his loud outbursts from before. “I just don’t know.”

*~*~*~*~*~

Anna sat where she had collapsed mere moments after leaving the cave, mindless of the incoming tide that threatened to spill over her legs, or the damp sand that clung to her pants. Her pale hands clutched at her paler forehead, and her extended nails dug deep into her skin as she attempted to shove away the pain that overwhelmed her.

As she sat there it grew stronger, until it was too much to bear, though she had been bearing it for months upon months. As yet another wave of agony spilled over her mind, Anna flung her head back, gazing up at the star-filled night sky through blurry eyes.

“Please!” she whimpered, crying out for help from whatever higher power truly existed and would offer guidance to a cursed vampire. “Please let this end! Help me, please help me!”

As if her words opened a floodgate, cool darkness slid over her mind, easing the pain and stealing her consciousness. Before she had even toppled sideways onto the sand, three large men moved forward, lifting her easily, though none too gently, and carted her off.

Anna’s still form was dropped onto the ground, though the vampire didn’t notice her surroundings, for she remained unconscious. A black robed figure knelt next to the female, stroking her pale, bleeding forehead, and then pressing its bloody fingers to its own forehead, sealing the bond between them. Next to Anna’s body the crystal lake shimmered, reflecting not the bright night sky, but the darker, bloody days to come.

And still Anna’s consciousness evaded her grasp, and so she was lost to the world as she once knew it.

*~*~*~*~*~

That night was spent, except for a brief hunt, in small groups, trying to figure out what could be wrong with Anna. Dwayne spent most of the night pacing back and forth and hurrying to the entrance to the cave, searching the skies for any sign of her. She hadn’t returned by the time the vampires normally retired, and he couldn’t shake off the feeling something was happening, something important. Still, Paul and Laddie convinced him to sleep, though he hung upside down for what felt like hours, straining to hear any sound of her return.

When Dwayne woke early the next afternoon, the cold dread twisting in his stomach let him know that something was amiss in his world. When he entered the main room of the cave, he knew immediately that Anna hadn’t returned. Her scent in the area was too faint, not sharp and clear as it would have been had she returned before the night was over.

His cry of anger and fear woke the others, though they took their time making their way to the main room of the cave, for the sharp sound had not been repeated, and there was no scent of danger on the air. They found Dwayne pacing back and forth as close to the cave entrance as he could get without exposing himself to the last remaining rays of sun.

“What’s wrong?” Paul asked. He hopped up onto the fountain in the center of the room and began to work his way around it, stepping over chunks of concrete and other obstacles with an easy flair. He could have done the tricks in his sleep, so well did he know the area; so many times had he circled it. It was now a calming habit, one he hoped would help defuse the tension already filling the air.

“Anna still hasn’t come back,” Dwayne muttered. He barely noticed when Laddie crept up to him and slipped his hand into Dwayne’s larger one, but a minute part of his brain noticed and accepted the comfort. “Something’s wrong, I can feel it.”

“Even if something is,” David spoke up, interrupting Paul’s continued questioning. “What do you want us to do? The sun is still up, we’re kind of stuck here for now.” The bare hint of a smile that tugged at the corners of his lips might have been an illusion—or it might have been caused by his thoughts on Anna’s supposed treachery to his leadership.

“We might be stuck,” Dwayne snapped, whirling around to face David. “But they aren’t.” One finger jabbed towards Adam and Victoria, though both werewolves knew he wasn’t upset with them so much as with himself, with the situation as a whole.

“You’re right,” Victoria grabbed Adam’s hand and began to lead him towards the door, though he was just as eager to find Anna as she was. As they passed Dwayne, Adam clapped him on the shoulder encouragingly, and Dwayne recognized his silent promise to find Anna and bring her back.

Dwayne remained where he was, turning only to watch Adam and Victoria disappear from the cave. Moments later the soft roar of Adam’s bike could be heard, though the sound faded away at once, a tribute to the speed they were giving this search. Only then did Dwayne let Laddie gently lead him away from the door and over to one of the soft couches. He collapsed onto it with a loud thump, kicking his feet up until his boots landed heavily on the low table in front of the couch.

The others drifted away, alone and in pairs, but Dwayne remained where he was, and consequently so did Laddie, even when waves of tiredness washed over him. The vampires continued their vigil until well after sunset, though the werewolves hadn’t returned.

*~*~*~*~*~

“What’s going on?” Rilly glanced up at the loud jangling bell that sounded each time the door to the movie rental opened. She had long ago wanted to replace it, but it was a nice warning when intruders. . .er, customers entered the room. Now, though, the door opened for friends, and she offered them a bright smile. The look faded when she saw the expression on both Adam and Victoria’s faces.

“Have you seen Anna?” Adam asked as he stalked forward, Victoria at his side. The female werewolf stopped at the counter, resting her elbows on the glass top, but Adam started to circle it, unable to remain still.

“Not for a few days,” Rilly replied, then tilted her head, her creamy brow creasing in confusion. “Isn’t she still in the cave? The sun just set a moment ago; I didn’t think they would be out and about yet.” She strained a little to see over Victoria’s shoulder, searching the entrance to the store for the first sight of the vampires.

“She didn’t come home this morning,” Victoria offered, tapping her long fingers together in front of her face, the quick action belying the forced calm of her voice. “Dwayne’s a little worried, so we came out to look for her.”

“Only no one has seen her for at least two days,” Adam broke in, a low growl rumbling his throat. “It’s like she’s disappeared. I can’t imagine where she could be. . .and I don’t know what to go back and tell Dwayne.”

“The truth, I’d assume,” Victoria smiled wanly at her mate, her eyes bright with worry, though she still clung to her profession calm. In situations like these, sometimes it was all she had.

“I’m sure she’ll turn up soon,” Rilly tried to offer sympathy, though she was unsure of just how to go about it, for it really wasn’t like the vampire to just up and disappear, especially without telling Dwayne what she was up to.

“I’m not so sure of that,” Adam argued. He came to a halt in front of Rilly and tilted his head, lips twitching as he weighed something over in his mind, then finally came to a decision. “She’s been acting weird lately. Not herself. Odd.”

“Odd how?” The question was normal enough, but some flash in Rilly’s eyes seemed to hint that she might know more than she was letting on. Adam leapt onto the faint hope that the mortal might have extra knowledge, and fed her another bit of information.

“Just being very snappish with everyone, not open and calmer, like she usually is,” he explained. “And she’s had the worst headaches. . .”

“Headaches?” The shrill, frantic edge to Rilly’s voice gave it away. She did know something, and both werewolves could smell her sudden fear, could taste it on their tongues. It was time to stop the games.

“Rilly, what the hell do you know that we don’t?” Victoria snapped, losing her cool just as fast as Anna had been lately. She shoved herself away from the counter and pushed her hair out of her face, leaning forward, her teeth bared in a snarl.

“I. . .I don’t. . .I’m not sure,” Rilly stuttered, backing away from them and hurrying towards the back room. “I’ll come find you guys later, and tell you, when I have no doubts.” As they started to stalk towards her, low growls filling the almost empty room, she held up one hand. “Please. I promise I’ll come find you. Give me an hour, no more.”

“Go.”

Rilly didn’t hesitate, instead taking the growled order at face value and disappearing out the back door. Lucy would just have to understand why she had to take off on such short notice, leaving the store unattended. This was far more important than any movie rental.

What had they done?

*~*~*~*~*~

“Someone had to have seen her!” Dwayne snarled. The door to Anna’s empty apartment slammed shut with an echoing thud, highlighting the desperate quality to his words. Adam stepped sideways, putting distance between himself and the irate vampire without being obvious about it.

“No one had,” Adam said for the fourth time in so many minutes. “We asked everyone, checked out all her usual spots, even talked to a few of the remaining Surf Nazis. After we threatened them with your presence, they were quite anxious to help us—but hadn’t seen her either. She wasn’t on the Boardwalk last night, Dwayne, unless she hid from everyone while being there.”

“Hasn’t been in her apartment either,” Paul sighed, placing his hand against the door leading into the room they had just searched. Dust was thick inside it, and it was quite obvious that nothing had been removed, or disturbed in any way. Their perusal didn’t include the closet, for it had been empty of her clothes for months now. Had they looked closer, small scratches on the floor would have belied the lack of disturbance they assumed.

“I can’t believe this,” Dwayne growled and flung himself down the steps leading towards the exit to the building. The others followed him, slower and calmer, though keeping their worry in check was proving difficult for even the calmest. “She can’t have just disappeared.”

He flung the door open and stepped out into the dark, damp alley, still growling beneath his breath. Adam’s heavy sigh caught his ears and he turned his face back, though he continued to move forward, preparing to snap at the werewolf yet again for not accomplishing what he had set out to do.

The words never made it past his lips. Just as his mouth opened, pain exploded in his shoulder and he yelped, jerking to the side, away from the unseen assailant.

David jumped down from his spot on the third step, shoving past the others and out into the night, his keen gaze searching the darkness from which the bolt now embedded deep in Dwayne’s shoulder would have had to come from.

Paul was at Dwayne’s side by this time, carefully extracting said bolt. Dwayne snarled, his back arching up as pain radiated through him. His blood welled up to slide down his arm, staining his shirt black in the dim light.

“Look,” David grunted, nodding with his head towards a building across the street. Nestled in the shadows, a dark figure leaned forward as if to watch them. Paul’s head came up just in time to catch a glimpse of bright blonde hair before the figure was gone, its footsteps echoing along the empty street, then silence.

“Let’s go home,” Marco suggested as he moved over to help Dwayne stand. With both Marco and Paul’s assistance, Dwayne made it to his feet, then shrugged their helping hands off, maintaining that he could stand on his own. David took the crossbow bolt from Paul and dropped it into his own pocket before heading back towards their bikes. His silence muffled any conversation that the others might have had, and the trip to the cave was finished with no speaking what so ever.

“Are you all right?” David asked Dwayne once the Pack was settled inside their cave. Dwayne nodded, not glancing up from the bandage he wrapped around the wound. David touched his healthy shoulder once, then walked back towards his chair, dropping the bolt onto the table as he did so. Shauna scuttled over and grabbed it, holding it up to examine it in the flickering light from the bonfires, though her vision was great enough that the action was more habit than anything else.

The bolt clattered to the floor a moment later, punctuated by her shocked gasp.

“What?” Adam was on his feet and approaching her immediately. Shauna shook her head, waving him away and turned to face David, her bright eyes catching and locking with his.

“I know that bolt,” she said, ignoring the quiet comments from the rest of the crowd and focusing on David’s reaction. He froze for a moment, as if anticipating her answer, then motioned for her to continue on with a harsh flick of his hand.

“It is the same kind of bolt that I used when I was little,” Shauna finished, her voice lowering. The effect worked, for the entire Pack fell silent and the cave itself seemed to tilt inward, closing the open spaces so as not to miss a single word that passed her perfect lips. “The same kind I would still use in a crossbow today. There’s only one difference between my bolts and this one.”

“Well, what is it?” Star snapped when it became clear that Shauna was waiting for a response. Her hands twisted in the glittering skirt she wore and she pressed closer to Michael on the couch, searching for comfort, comfort that he doubted he could offer, for he too began to realize just what Shauna was building up to with her melodramatic storytelling.

“The marks on the tip are different,” Shauna bent down to retrieve the bolt, and then held it up into the dim light. The tip of one nail traced over the marks cut into the silver edge, though even that light contact sent a faint burning through her fingertip.

“What is your point?” Victoria’s question, though spoken as softly as Shauna’s storytelling was, broke into the air. Shauna frowned, though she didn’t take her eyes off of David, waited a moment longer to reestablish the mood she had built, and then answered.

“These lines are Anna’s marks, not mine,” Shauna explained. “We used to mark them so we’d know whose bolt actually hit, and then it became habit. She’s the one who shot you, Dwayne.” Her heavy gaze left David and settled on the dark vampire. In response to her sudden switch of attention, the others looked to him as well, and all but Laddie missed the slow twist of her lips into what might have been perceived as a smirk.

“No.” Dwayne’s denial was quiet, then repeated, harsher, the sound breaking into the tension that Shauna had instilled into the air. “No! Anna wouldn’t do something like this. She couldn’t. Not to me.”

“If she had a good reason,” Shauna hesitated, glancing down at her hands, then back up into Dwayne’s face as if reluctant to make the point. “She could do anything.”

“And just what would be her good reason for shooting Dwayne?” Paul snapped from his perch atop the fountain in the center of the room. “What could possibly be a good enough reason to shoot her mate?” The female vampire turned to glance at him, but by the time she spoke, her gaze was back on Dwayne, gauging his reaction to her words.

Immediate silence followed Paul’s question, a silence during which the air grew thicker until was a tactile presence beating down on their skin. When each member of the Pack leaned forward, unconsciously reaching out for more information, Shauna spoke again, mere in a whisper.

“Revenge.”

“‘Revenge?’” Laddie repeated, his words barely above a whisper in echo of Shauna’s statement. His gaze shifted back and forth between Dwayne’s frozen expression to Shauna’s calm one, though he could almost make out the smirk he thought he had seen there earlier. “What would she want revenge for?”

“Oh, a variety of things,” Shauna’s hand wafted through the air. “She could want revenge on me for pushing my way back into her life. She always was a very private girl. Never let anyone close, not really. Everyone who was acquainted with her thought they knew her better than anyone else; they were all wrong. She could be taking us out one at a time because I’m a part of your little group now; associated with all of you.”

Paul’s snort ruined whatever effect Shauna had been going for. “Right,” he drawled. “Let me get this straight. Anna is mad at you, so she tries to kill Dwayne—hmmm, makes perfect sense to me, how about you all?”

“Well you know,” Shauna snapped, her eyes flashing orange fire before she could regain her calm demeanor. “She could be out for revenge on you all. I mean, you did kill her. She’s dead now, no matter what you say, not alive. Maybe she’s mad because you took her life away, both in the literal and the figurative sense. Ever thought of that?”

From the shocked expressions gracing Dwayne and Paul’s faces, it was obvious that they had not. Shauna turned away from them, flouncing over to the couch she had so recently vacated and settled herself down again, then lifted her face towards David, who glanced down at her then looked away, his brow furrowed with his thoughts.

*~*~*~*~*~

The heavy wooden crossbow slammed against the ground with a resounding thud, though the towering trees encircling the clear water muffled the noise. The bearer of said crossbow remained still, unspeaking, waiting as patiently as she was capable of.

A cloaked figure knelt before the pool of water, not a single flinch brushing the stillness when the weapon struck the dirt. Its hands rested on its knees, hidden beneath the dark cloth. A heavy calm swept across the small clearing, stealing in past the sparkling bottles filled with all sorts of unrecognizable potions that clustered together on the ground behind the figure.

Only when Anna began to fidget, her slender fingers plucking at the bottom of her shirt did the figure speak. Its voice was soft, but heavy enough that each word broke the silence like a sword tearing through paper.

“You missed.”

“I did,” Anna replied, ducking her head, her dark blue eyes locked on the ground. Her hands left her shirt and tightened into fists, hard weapons in their own right that seemed to search for a target to strike.

“Why?”

“I don’t know,” Anna’s hands pressed hard against her thighs, with enough pressure that perfectly formed bruises would appear within moments. “I just missed. I aimed, and the bolt didn’t hit his heart. I missed!” The last words burst past her lips with all the frustration and anger at herself that had been twisting in her stomach since that fateful moment earlier, when her carefully aimed shot had ended up in Dwayne’s shoulder instead of his heart.

“Go to sleep, child,” the figure turned towards her, revealing the age-lined face of an old woman. “You will have another chance tomorrow night. For now rest and build your strength. Things will be difficult for us soon.”

“Yes, my lady,” the words were already habit to the vampire, an unquestioned attribute to the older woman’s power over her. “I will do better tomorrow night.”

“Yes. You will.” Though an outside listener would have found nothing wrong with the words, would have heard only an echoing statement of what Anna herself had said, they were enough to send Anna scampering for her bed in fear of retribution for her earlier mistake.

Her wagon, just one of the many making up the caravan on the far side of the lake, was silent and soothing, a respite to the anger still brimming in her body. Anna flung herself down on the bed, tugging the covers up to her chin as an afterthought, and reluctantly gave herself over to sleep.

The woman extracted a thick pouch from the folds of her black robe and opened the silver rope holding it closed with deft fingers. The dull green powder inside was soon dumped into the lake water. The image there twisted, not reflecting the night and the woman, but instead a single, new image.

Anna’s fair face filled the water’s surface, the calm expression there twisting into one of pain as the powder mixed into the water. Even in her sleep, a harsh cry of agony tore from her lips, and her hands flew up to clutch at her forehead once more.

“Cloud thy thoughts, dear monster,” the old woman murmured, brushing her gnarled hands over the top of the shimmering water. “Forget. The past is never as we remember; nor shall yours be. Forget. The pain will dissipate when you abandon what once was. Forget, my broken monster. Do not remember when you wake. Forget.”

Even as her harsh murmurings filled the air around her, another figure shut the window to her own wagon, then set the heavy binoculars down on her nightstand. She crept her way across the cold wooden floor, then cowered in her bed, tears streaming down her face.

For the first time in her young life, Rilly cursed what she was. Cursed the very bloodlines that normally brought her such pride. She couldn’t believe her family would stoop to such things.

Couldn’t believe what she would have to tell the vampires when night fell again.

Paul would never forgive her for this. He couldn’t. She wouldn’t ask him to. Not when she was a part of—a strangled sob escaped her throat and she buried her face in her pillow for fear of being heard.

Not when she was blood for blood tied to those who threatened to destroy his Pack.
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