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30 April 2006 @ 11:26 pm
Aubrey: Hush Still Monsters, chapter twenty-one -novel  
Chapter Twenty-One
Admittance of Love

They were like two tigers circling each other, snarling and flashing their teeth in silent threats and warnings. They were performing a beautiful, deadly dance of sheer mockery towards each other. Testing the others' strengths, sizing them up, anticipating their moves. Their muscles moved gracefully beneath their skin, flowing like heaven. It was beautiful, but frightening. Any moment, one of them could have pounced the other, tearing into that smooth flesh and bringing forth crimson rivers to spill across their bodies. They could sink their teeth into bone, scrape away skin with their fingernails, cover their faces in masks of blood. But for minutes, they merely stared each other down, their hatred towards each other locking their eyes into a malicious stare.

Fin made the first move. He snarled at Alexander, his eyes burning with a war-lust that radiated off of his body. He lunged forward, his machete held backwards, the way a skilled killer holds their knife. He was ready to slice into Alexander's neck and kill him quickly. But Alexander wouldn't allow that. He drew out his knife and struck Fin's to the side. Fin brought his hand around and sliced at Alexander's face with his fingernails. They left small scratches along his cheek, but the vampire didn't seem to notice.

The two were locked in combat then. They swung their knives at each other in a mystical dance of blocking and slicing. They had yet to cut each other. I wondered if they were merely toying with each other to begin with, testing their fighting abilities to see how much they would have to put forth. I clung onto Ulric, who was watching the battle fearfully. Justine stood in front of us, her fingers curled around the edges of her skirt. She seemed to move along with Alexander, slightly twitching every time the knife came close to him. She licked her lips a few times, wanting to be in the fight.

Fin let out a grunt and I moved my eyes towards him. The two vampires stood apart from each other. Alexander had his knife held above his head and his other hand held out in front of him. Fin had one knee on the ground, his machete blocking his body. His other hand was pressed tightly over his side. He was staring at Alexander, daring him to attack him while he was down. I looked at side, blood trickled between his fingers. He had been cut.

"You won't beat me, little one." Alexander said, a wild look on his face. He was enjoying the fight.

"I'll keep your ashes close to my heart, Alexander. So that you'll forever be with the one who cut you down." Fin spat.

Alexander didn't answer. Instead, he rushed at Fin again. I didn't understand why they were fighting normally. When Alexander and the other two had come after Aubrey before, they had used such speed. But now, they were moving slow, like humans. The fight was faster than any I had ever seen in movies or whatnot, but it was still slow compared to the speed they were capable of.

Their knives met with a clang. Fin whirled around, trying to slice off Alexander's ankle, but Alexander brought his foot up and kicked Fin in the side of the head. Fin sprawled for a moment, but regained himself and slid on the ground, bringing his machete up to meet Alexander's knife as it went for his head. They swung at each other a few more times before Fin got the upper hand. He managed to break through Alexander's defense and slice his thigh. With him momentarily distracted, he brought his machete up and with the hilt he knocked Alexander's knife out of his hand. It flew across the room and slid across the floor.

Alexander sunk to a squatting position, his hands out to his sides, ready to fend off an onslaught should one come. He glanced towards his knife that lay across the room and then looked back at Fin. Fin stood towards the opposite side of the room. Blood had stained most of his pant leg, thought it was hard to see through the dark colors. His bare skin had slowly begun to collect smudges of. Fin looked towards the knife as well, which was closer to him. He was gauging the distance.

When Fin made a move, I expected Alexander to run for it too, but he didn't. He stayed right where he was and instead reached to the gun that was at his side. He pulled it out with speed that I couldn't measure and pulled the trigger. The bullet lodged itself into Fin's shoulder, sending him flying backwards with momentum into the wall. He hit it harshly and fell to the floor, his machete loosened from his grip and lying next to him. Fin let out a harsh yell of anger mixed with pain. He held his hand over the wound and when he pulled it away, blood had soaked his palm.

"Silver bullets." Alexander said coyly, the smirk had returned to his face. "Do they hurt?"

Ulric tensed and turned his head to look at me. I withdrew my eyes from Fin and looked at him. Dread hit my gut harshly when I saw the look of fear that was etched across his face. His eyes were glazed as he looked at me and his voice shook when he spoke. "I won't be able to protect you if they kill Fin." He whispered. Justine snorted in front of us, but Ulric ignored her. "As much as I get knocked around, one of those bullets and I'm gone. Wolves and silver don't mix."

I could only stare back at him. There was so much regret in his eyes that I didn't know what to say. Was he sorry that he had a solid weakness? Did he regret us coming here? I didn't know.

"We'll kill you first, puppy." Justine whispered. She didn't turn to us. I stared at the back of her head as if I could burn holes into her skull with my eyes. Even if Fin beat Alexander, he still had Justine to contend with. She would automatically have the upper advantage; Fin had a bullet wound. It didn't look good for Ulric and I.

"I told you," Alexander started. He stood up and started walking towards Fin, who still had yet to regain his feet. Blood had stained his neck and part of his cheek from the shoulder wound. "I will not be the one to die here today."

"Maybe," The voice had come out of nowhere. Fin looked up, a gleam of defiance in his eyes as he stared at Alexander with a knowing glare. "But neither will he." Ulric took in a breath next to me and I half expected him to let out a cry. But instead of fear on his face, there was extreme excitement. His eyes were glittering with love and anticipation.

Alexander turned to his right but was only met by a large, furry creature that slammed into him. They tumbled around on the ground for a moment. Alexander let out a strangled cry, but I couldn't see what was happening. When the two figures separated, I saw that Alexander had deep claw marks across his chest and one of his wrists had a piece of flesh torn out from it. Standing opposite Alexander was another werewolf. His fur was darker than Ulric's and it seemed to be a little longer and shaggier. His eyes burned a golden yellow and blood dripped from his yellow teeth.

Justine let out a growl and took a step towards the other werewolf, but Alexander held up his hand. She stared at him defiantly, but didn't move any further. The werewolf stood breathing heavily. He was taller than Ulric had been in wolf form, and his muscles were huge. He looked like a very hard foe to beat.

"Is this a pet of yours?" Alexander asked, looking at Fin who had gotten to his knees and was testing his arm. It seemed to hurt him a little, but he ignored it and stared back at Alexander.

"Not mine." Fin said bluntly.

The werewolf didn't allow for any other conversation. He ran towards Alexander on all fours and pounced up to kill. Alexander met him with the gun, but didn't get a chance to fire off any bullets. The werewolf tore into Alexander's shoulder with his teeth and shook him like a dog shakes a chew toy. The two of them fell over and the werewolf ran his claws along the vampire's arms. Alexander yelled and sank his fangs into the werewolf's neck. There was a whimper and the two rolled away from each other. But Alexander wasn't done. He whirled around, gun in hand, and pulled the trigger.

"Mitch!" Ulric screamed. The name sounded familiar, but I couldn't place where I had heard it before. I'd heard Ulric say it once before, but I couldn't remember where.

Mitch tried to jump out of the way, but the bullet grazed his arm. There was a hissing of burning skin and Mitch fell to the ground, holding his arm and whimpering in agony. He quickly transformed back to human form. I recognized him then. Though his clothes were torn and there was pain across his face, I recognized him as the bartender from the club where this whole escapade had begun. He was the bartender that Ulric had known, the one I had accused when Aubrey had stood me up the night we were suppose to meet. He held his arm, which was bleeding freely, and his breathing was heavy.

Ulric tried to stand up, but Justine turned around and brought her fist against his cheekbone. Ulric grunted as his body was turned and flung. I caught him and gave Justine a sneer before ducking my head to get a look at Ulric's face. He seemed to be unaffected by the blow, though now his cheekbone was swelling and a trickle of blood ran down his face. I held onto him to keep him from doing anything Justine didn't want him to do. Though my eyes went back to Mitch, who was now looking at the gun that Alexander had trained on him.

"Not a very good rescue attempt." Alexander said.

"Wasn't suppose to rescue them. Just suppose to distract you." Mitch smiled. Alexander frowned, but then realized what was being said. He realized too late however, as right then Fin slammed into him, driving his machete into the soft spot beneath Alexander's arm. It went deep, to the hilt. Blood spurted from Alexander's mouth as he attempted to scream. He only choked. Justine screamed for him and practically flew towards them. Alexander swung his arm around and knocked Fin away. There was terror and pain on his face. Justine flew into his arms and turned around to face all of us. She hissed in warning and then dragging Alexander with her, they left.

We were left in the quiet settling of dust and echoing screams. Ulric struggled to get to his feet. When he stood, his leg gave out. I caught him and helped him hobble over to Mitch, who was sitting on the ground, still holding his arm. When we got there, Ulric collapsed next to Mitch and looked at him. Mitch looked back. I watched them and chuckled a little. They were like two little kids who hadn't seen each other in a long time and were hesitant about how to ask which game they should play.

"How'd you know where we were?" Ulric asked, pulling Mitch's hand away from the bullet wound. Mitch hissed in pain but looked back at Ulric anyhow.

"I have my sources. Gotta keep tabs on my brothers." Mitch smiled and pulled his arm away from Ulric, who opened his mouth to protest. "It's just a scratch."

"Brothers?" I interjected. Sure, Ulric and Mitch acted like brothers, but they looked nothing alike. Mitch looked like a different nationality altogether.

Ulric looked back up at me and smiled. "Mitch, you remember Mia, right?"

"Of course." Mitch said and held out his hand. "Never got properly introduced though."

I blushed at the comment. The last time I'd seen Mitch, I hadn't been on nice terms with him. "You two are brothers?"

Ulric and Mitch laughed in unison before Mitch stood up and helped Ulric to his feet. He swayed a little bit, but Mitch put an arm around him. "The closest thing to brothers there is." Mitch said.

"We're part of the same brotherhood." Ulric explained a little. "We're in the same 'pack' of werewolves." I nodded in understanding then.

Fin came over to us, nursing his shoulder wound. On closer inspection, I cringed at the sight of it. If Fin would have been a human, he wouldn't have taken another breath after a wound like that. But he was already dead. Now he acted like the open wound didn't affect him other than give him a little pain. "Will you be okay?" I asked, looking at him.

Fin looked back at me as if I had offended him. "It's nothing. Silver just hurts more than normal bullets."

"Yeah it does." Mitch said, looking at his arm. Ulric huffed.

"It's not right." Fin said, shaking his head.

"What?" I asked.

"That fight was a lot easier than I thought it would be."

"You call that easy?" Ulric asked, his eyes wide with horror. I had to agree. If that fight was an easy fight, I didn't want to see a fight that Fin considered difficult. We had all almost lost our lives, especially Fin. If Mitch hadn't of come when he had, Fin would have been killed by Alexander right away.

"They could have finished us. They're toying with us." Fin said, clenching his hands into fists.

"But, you stabbed him through, sideways, with your knife. Alexander is as good as dead." Ulric said.

"No he's not. That's just a scratch for him." When the three of us looked back at Fin with confused eyes, he continued. "Alexander is over a thousand years old. The only way he'll die is if he walks into sunlight or gets his head cut off."

We didn't know what to say to that. Ulric and Mitch looked as though they were both thinking really hard about how to keep the sun from setting. I was wondering why in the world Fin had survived as long as he had against a vampire that had lived for over a thousand years. A thousand years was a long time to live. All of the knowledge that a person could learn almost overwhelmed me as I stood there thinking about it. A thousand years to hone your skills. If Alexander truly was over a thousand years old, we'd only seen the tip of the iceberg. There were a lot of skills that he hadn't shown us. The more I thought about it, the more I saw vampirism as a gift instead of a disease, as I had originally thought. The things you could do with power such as that.

"Are we going to go after him?" Mitch asked.

"We need to regroup for a few minutes." Fin answered. He walked over to a wall and squatted down, resting his head between his knees. He was hurting more than he wanted to admit, I was sure of it. Mitch helped Ulric over to a wall and sat him down, before he went to go retrieve the knife that Alexander had lost. I sat down next to Ulric and looked at his wounds.

"Mia, can I ask you something...personal?" Ulric whispered. He was staring straight ahead, like he was embarrassed to be asking any questions at all.

I was almost afraid to answer him. Ulric and I had become so open with each other, if he was having trouble asking me a question, it had to be something big. But I wouldn't turn him away, not ever. "Sure."

"For a long time now, I...I've been looking for someone." Ulric paused and licked his lips. "Someone to be with." My fingers tingled at this. I didn't want to hear it, but I didn't get a chance to tell Ulric to be quiet. "Mia, I've really enjoyed spending time with you. I've never been around someone quite like you and I don't want to lose you. The brotherhood is always willing to accept new members." He looked up at me with eyes that looked younger than ever. "If you won't become a vampire, will you become a wolf? Will you join me? Join my brotherhood? We'll treat you like a queen, Mia. You'd be a goddess. You're so beautiful and we would all love you with all of our hearts."

Tears were stinging at my eyes. I didn't want to be talking about this now. I was torn completely in two. A part of me wanted to wrap my arms around Ulric and say yes. I would have joined him in anything he did. I would have loved him and spent the rest of my life with him. But I couldn't. My mind went to Aubrey. I had something with Aubrey that could never be broken. My heart was split. There were two ways it could go, Aubrey or Ulric. I pictured the two in my mind then. Ulric was a warm teddy bear that I could hold until I had my fill. I could play with him and be happy. That thought was wonderful. Aubrey was like a porcelain doll, in a way. He looked fragile and terribly beautiful. It was almost like I couldn't play with him, for fear of breaking him. But then again, beneath that proper and strict outer layer, there was a loving, wonderful person who wanted to be loved and who would be so loyal to me that I would never have to fear him. Aubrey was broken beneath his shell of security. I had seen his tears. Tears that I wanted to make go away because I had caused them. And among all the conversations and jokes I had shared with Ulric, there had always been something holding me back. That something was Aubrey, and my ignored love for him.

As I looked into Ulric's eyes then, I realized the full extent of my love for Aubrey; it was pure love. Ulric was a friend, one of the best I'd ever had, but it wasn't anything more. He was the perfect man, true enough, but for some reason, my heart belonged to Aubrey and no one else. It was the devotion, the ultimate love that he showed towards me. It was the fact that I had turned him away and caused him great pain. But now I could take away all that pain by loving him back. I could make his tears go away and I could patch up a broken man. That's what I wanted. I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him because he would never let anything happen to me. He would always love me and he would show me things that I couldn't ever dream about.

"Ulric." I started, but my tears choked me up. "Ulric, I'm sorry." I put a hand to his cheek and wiped away a speck of blood that had splattered there. "I can't. I don't want to be a werewolf."

"Well then you don't have to. But just stay with me."

I sobbed a bit. "I will, but...but not as lovers. I can't do that, Ulric." I looked away from those sad blue eyes to regain my courage. When I looked back, he was on the verge of tears. Questioning was all over his face. "I love Aubrey." The words forced their way out of my mouth. But as soon as they left, I felt as if a burden had been lifted from my shoulders. It felt so good to admit my love for Aubrey, something that I had never been able to do before. I smiled a little through my tears at Ulric, who was studying my face.

To my surprise, Ulric smiled back. The tears were gone from his eyes, but the few that had spilled already still clung to his cheeks. He laughed and flung his arms around me. I hugged him back, confused and wondering, but I hugged him anyway. When he pulled away, he cupped my face in his hands. "I knew it." He whispered. He put his forehead to mine and laughed, closing his eyes. "When all of this started, Aubrey asked me to find out how you felt about him. He told me to get close to you, but I never thought I would become such good friends with you, Mia."

As I thought about his words, anger started to grow up within me. "So, you were forced to become friends with me?"

"No! I was told to get close to you. We just became friends. I love you Mia. I love you more than anything and not because someone told me to, but because I really, truly do. But not as a lover." Ulric laughed and his laughter flooded away my anger. "He loves you, Mia. He loves you so much and he wanted me to see if you loved him back, even just a little. He wanted to know if there was a chance."

I cried again then. "I told him I couldn't. I told him that wouldn't love him. How can he still love me?"

"He knows what you're going through, Mia. He will always love you, no matter what." Ulric brushed a few strands of hair away from my eyes. "But I think it's time you told him. He needs something to drive his fight." I nodded.

It was time to tell Aubrey how I felt. I loved him.