Cold wind blew her long red-hair into her eyes and across her face. She shoved it out of the way. She had been meaning to chop it off. In combat it only interfered, but it was a luxury of hers... a little of her left over vanity. The last bit of her past she had never let go. From the time when she had been Juliana. From when she had loved and lived before she had met him… the man who had turned her and changed the world she thought she had known. The time before Juliana had been destroyed… and Jul born. She blinked back tears in her eyes. Tears she would never cry. He couldn't help but if he, if Oracle destroyed all that he touched. Her throat closed as she thought about him. As she thought of the tall lost man she had met. Sometimes she wished she had never met him but then… she was no longer one to wish. Juliana had been the wisher… Jul had never had a chance. She shrugged it off. She not even then had been one to think on regrets or could-have-beens… and she had, even then, hated the thought of living in ignorance.
She walked. Her boots silent on the freshly fallen snow. She shivered. She hated the cold… had always hated it. She couldn't wait to go back south… and wondered if she would ever. A leather gloved hand rose to her chest where her heart was. It was odd. Feeling this cold inside. A coldness that had nothing to do with the northern weather.
Red hair blew across her face again. This time she didn't bother to stop it. It hid the darkness in her eyes from the rest of the world. She looked across to where her men… no, Oracle's men… were cleaning the scene. In a few hours this place would be back to as it had been before… no blood, no dead, no destruction. She surrendered to the impulse and pushed the red curtain back again, if only life were that easy to fix.
She rubbed her arms through the thick black coat and walked to the corded off area. She heard the men talking and caught snippets of their conversation. "It was ugly…." "Man, look at what is left of that poor guy's throat…." "Damn… and it was only a half-breed too…" "Imagine what a full-blood…" Jul shuddered. She didn't have to imagine. She had seen what had happened when mortals met with full bloods. Another voice spoke, "Wha? Ewww…" She grinned, Eddie. That had to have been Eddie. He must have just arrived. She sighed she would have to teach them to be quieter, even the spell Eliana had cast on the scene it would be best not to rely on it to deter everyone who could hear them. "… died instantly…" "… so much blood…" The sounds of someone puking. She smiled weakly in sympathy, Elliot the Newbie. The next words she heard confirmed it. "Eww… Elliot. Gross man. That's just…" There was silence complete silence. She tilted her head, that was odd. Eddie never shut-up on the job. Suddenly a cry split the cold night air. "OH MY GOD!"
Her smile dropped her and her strides lengthened. "HE'S MOVING!" "HE'S STILL ALIVE!" Elliot's squealed, "HE CAN'T BE! HE CAN'T BE!" She ran and stopped short her breath catching in her throat. One hand coming up to push her hair further out of her eyes. She ran to where her men were huddled. They were slowly backing away from the body readying their weapons; sure nothing human could have survived the attack… or maybe just scared of something not even them with their paranormal understand could comprehend. They dropped into the defensive… with the exception of Eddie, who dropped down on his knees besides where the body must be. She was almost there but couldn't see around the backs of her men.
She pushed them out of the way and came to the center of the circle and once again came face to face with the scene that she was sure would haunt her nightmares for weeks. She instead focused on Eddie. The only experienced one in this bunch. Oracle had said something was coming and the recruiting had begun to speed up confirmed it. They only recruited victims of the Enemies. Eddie had been with them since he was twelve. He was twenty-one now. His head was bowed as he looked towards the body. His dark bluish-black spiky hair vivid against the snowy background. He looked like a shadow dressed in black with dark hair but he wasn't. He was the light of the group. He was the heart, the same way she was the backbone and Oracle was the brain. Eddie was also the eyes and ears, for a multitude of reasons.
He had lived in the darker side of the city, a place were the supernatural was natural and everyday and 'normal everyday life' was a dream no one ever achieved and only fools tried for. And where he lived fools never lasted long. This had given him contacts in the Shade. The other main reason was his Vision. He could See thing others couldn't and Understand.
Whatever he saw in this man didn't make him afraid. Eddie stripped off his long black leather coat; something he never parted with for any reason, and draped it over the form of the man who they all had assumed was dead. Jul stood shocked and touched by the display. Her voice gentle she called Eddie from the world that he alone could See. "Eddie?" He looked up his dark brown almond shaped eyes glassy and bright against his golden skin. She saw something in Eddie's eyes that she couldn't ever recall seeing… sadness and… pity?
Eddie could empathize with all but after his hard life he had no room for pity. He made others feel better; he felt their pain and eased it. But there is a difference between pity and empathy. She had never realized how much until now. Eddie had always cared how others felt but had always known that they had never had to endure what he was. But something Eddie saw made him pity the shivering stranger. Her eyes widened as she realized why Eddie's eyes were so glassy. Tears. Eddie, who had never cried in all the years she had known him, had tears in his eyes. He looked past her and paled and looked down at the stranger. She snapped out of her trance, which her internal clock told her, had lasted no more than two minutes, and dropped on her knees beside them.
She felt her stomach lurch at what she saw. The man was as pale as the snow beneath him. His eyes glazed sightless green-gold eyes blinked up at her as though looking at her even though the star was unfocused. His body was racked with shivers. He looked so young and afraid. As a child does when he is sick and doesn't understand what is wrong with him… and only knows the pain. She could understand the pity in Eddie's eyes and yet knew that she had no idea what the true pain Eddie saw was. The man shivered, skin cold as ice. Lips parted gasping, blood sliding past to slide down his pale cheeks and fall into the white snow. A new drop of blood on one of the few places where the surrounding snow was still white and not slushy red. A vampyre's dream. Crap. They needed to get him out here before company came.
She was aware of her men standing around doing nothing and felt rage and contempt rise. Why would they be afraid of this weak bloody child, this innocent caught in a war he had nothing to do with. She spun and snapped, "YOU IDIOTS! GO GET A HEALER!" They spun ran tripping over themselves to get away from the scene and get a healer. Only Eddie stayed.
She looked down at the young man on the ground who had died tonight. She had no doubt that he had died. Trying to keep her eyes from the gore that had been his throat. Against her will her eyes dropped down sliding past his chin down the long pale column of throat to a hole that exposed tender pink flesh and red brilliant red congealed blood. A small part of her held out hope that he hadn't died. That the congealed blood had been able to stop blood flow. That she had remembered wrong. He had still had a throat. The cold had made him seem as dead but that he hadn't truly died. But the sight that greeted her eyes confirmed that she had remembered accurately. Her eyes closed tightly.
She felt a hand touch her shoulder and looked up to meet Eddie's eyes. Eddie smiled a small sad smile; "he isn't one of them. He'll never be one of them… he'll be something else." She smiled back and tilted her head to inquire, "Eddie, what…?" She was cut off by the sounds of footsteps sloshing through snow. And by a familiar voice crying out, "Jules!" She smiled and patted the pale more than half-dead man's cold hand and whispered even though she knew he didn't hear, "Help is here." His eyes closed.
Ami dropped on her knees beside them, pale blonde hair and pale skin glowing in the moonlight. "Some idiot told me that there was only a dead man." She snorted, "and that my services wouldn't be need-", she broke off and looked towards Jul in shock. Her face pale, "he-e… can't… can't live… not and be human…." She turned her face calm giving no sign to the others. Jul started to speak uncertain of what to say. Eddie cut her off, "He was bitten by a werewolf, but Oracle… knows. He approves this." Jul shot him a look. Eddie didn't meet her eyes. Ami nodded, sighing with relief, "You have Seen him?" Eddie didn't need to answer and Ami didn't wait for it. Ami knew he would have read the man before allowing her to proceed. Ami didn't care about politics much. Oracle had saved her so she helped him help others but for her it was all about helping people in need. It didn't matter whom. Ami winced when she lay her hands on the blood-covered body. Lines of pain etching her young face. Jul looked at Eddie mouthing the words over Ami's head, did he? Eddie looked away for a moment and then met her eyes with a sad and truthful stare and nodded. She knew Eddie wasn't lying on this fact. He had lied a few minutes before and she had known the same way she knew he told the truth now. She sat there frozen. Locked in thought.
When her men came and carted off the now sleeping man and they helped Ami to her feet and handed her off to a friend and fellow healer who had a soft spot for her. Eddie helped with the body and then helped hide the evidence and Jul couldn't help but notice that Eddie looked everywhere but where Oracle was standing watching the proceedings and she couldn't help but look where he didn't. She turned and looked up and saw the Eliana the young punky blonde that she had grown to think of as Oracle's assistant. Eliana stood illuminated next to Oracle framed by the light of the full moon behind them. Specks of darkness on the moons luminous surface. Eliana her brownish-blonde hair braided into dozens of tiny braids. Eyes wide with horror and fear. Oracle turned a smile on his lips as he met her eyes. Then looked past her. He spoke and then turned his coat billowing behind him as Eliana had looked at him with horror and disgust and she knew… knew what had made Oracle's little pet, his little child look at him in disgust.
Elliot came behind her… maybe not such a coward after all if he was willing to come near her after her outburst. "Ma'am, the half-breed, the half-vampyre… what do you want us to do with it?" Jul after years of training barely winced at the calling of the half-vampyre half human an it. "Destroy him." She spoke calmly. They could have helped Bradley but now he had nearly killed a human, he had tasted human blood. There was a no tolerance policy among the Hunters. Elliot nodded, pale and grim and saluted and turned on his heel.
Jul looked at Eddie who was a distance away talking to a Healer in hushed tones, another rarity for Eddie. Eddie turned and met her stare as though knowing she was looking and then looked away refusing to meet her gaze. He turned on his heel and walked off. Her full lips compressed into a line of displeasure and concentration, I will talk to him. He as though knowing her thought turned and nodded before looking at the snow and trudging off.
She mimicked his action and looked at the snow and as she did hair fell into her face. The blood of an innocent perhaps destroyed by deceit and betrayal of one inside the Order of Hunters. She couldn't help but wonder how Jacob Bradley had managed to escape his self imposed confinement surrounded by Hunters on the day his turning was to commence. She looked down at her bloody clenched fist. Covered with the blood of a lost innocent. She didn't believe in coincidences, did she? Her eyes dropped to the snow the gesture caused hair to fall across her eyes. Her brilliant red hair… red like blood on snow.