|This Mortal Coil
Author: elusivebreath PM
Cara has spent the last several years of her life among immortal beings, protected from those that had murdered her family. She's come to terms with her situation - until another human arrives and leads her to question everything she believes about her past, and her future.Rated: Fiction T - English - Supernatural/Drama - Chapters: 22 - Words: 68,754 - Reviews: 5 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 09-19-12 - Published: 08-01-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3046901
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
***Author's Note: I just wanted to let everyone know that this story is actually finished, but I'm posting it a chapter at a time in the hopes of getting some feedback as it goes. Please feel free to post comments/constructive criticism, because I really do want to improve this story as much as possible. Thank you!
"Here we go, does it hurt?
Say goodbye to this world.
I will not be undone,
Come to life, it gets worse."
-Breaking Benjamin, What Lies Beneath
It was raining the night they saw another angel. Why did it seem like it was always raining at times like these? Max might not have noticed that flash of pale skin, that silver hair, but she did, she always did. Sometimes he thought she had a sixth sense about these things, but other times he was convinced that it was merely a product of having spent so much time with them that allowed her to so quickly and easily pick them out, either in a crowd or skulking alone down some side alley or even in the air, in the cases of their counterparts.
Sometimes she was actively looking for them, tracking them the way a hunting dog tracked its prey. Once she had the scent, she was tireless and no matter how long it took, she always found them in the end. Sometimes, like tonight, she caught them out by chance, or so she thought. He always wondered if perhaps there wasn't something else at work on those nights, or rather, someone. He never brought that up, however, because he knew she wouldn't want to hear it. He had become an expert on avoiding topics that she didn't care to discuss. It was so unlike him, but when it came to her … well, a man had to pick his battles and the last thing Max wanted to do was lose her.
He'd almost lost her once before, when one of them had proven particularly difficult. That one had trained her himself, after all, and he had exacted a toll on her for her temerity in destroying him and those like him. Max had barely gotten her home in time to nurse her back to health. He'd wanted to bring her to a hospital, but her wounds would have been too hard to explain - who fought with swords in this day and age? It was only his own medical training, incomplete as it was, that saved her. She'd suggested more than once that he go back to medical school, but Max didn't see how that would work, they traveled too much. The implication was that he should stay in the city and wait for her, but they both know that he wouldn't do that,. It wasn't that there was much he could do to help her, she was the one with all of the training, but he could at least tend her wounds, and he shuddered to imagine what would have happened if he hadn't been there on that dark (and rainy, of course) night.
Tonight promised to be as bad or worse, because when they'd ended up on the roof of some old apartment building, he'd been able to see through the rain who it was that she was facing. Max's heart felt like it was going to freeze in his chest when, hiding behind a chimney the way he'd promised, he saw that unmistakable pale figure, nearly glowing despite the darkness of the night and the pouring rain. He could feel the icy fingers running in rivulets down the back of his neck as he watched, his heart in his throat, praying that he was wrong.
Max hated hiding like this, feeling like a coward, but she made him promise and he knew that it was the only way she would allow him to follow her. He had no illusions that she could lose him if she chose, and he couldn't bear that idea. So he swallowed his pride and hid, despite it being so out of character for him. When he tried to tell her that, she'd only laughed and told him that he couldn't always be the hero.
"Besides, I can't concentrate on fighting and worry about you at the same time," she'd said, after the first time they had tracked an angel - all the way to Argentina - and he'd almost gotten himself killed trying to help her. Sometimes he trained with her, but after only a few times it became obvious that it would take him a long time to catch up. All of those years she'd spent with them, training out of boredom, they showed, and Max could not keep up. He'd toyed with the idea of at least attempting to train to her level, but if he was being honest with himself, he just didn't have it in him. He had always been a healer at heart.
Max tried to keep the two of them in sight, but it was hard, shivering as he was in the wet dark. Their blades flashed and scraped against each other, and sometimes he could hear their voices, though he was too far off to hear what they were saying. He wasn't sure he wanted to hear it anyway. He held his breath as she shed her coat, her shirt and jeans soaked already. She wouldn't be feeling the cold or the rain right now anyway, not with the fight for her life going on. Sometimes, Max didn't want to look - most times, really - but he couldn't stop himself. He had never been a superstitious man, but he couldn't shake the thought that by watching everything as intently as he could, he could prevent her from being hurt.
Besides the emotional toll, watching her fight was physically difficult because they moved so fast that his eyes could hardly follow them. And besides it nearly always being raining, for some reason, it was also almost always dark. He'd learned to watch for the flashing blades and to listen for the sounds of the fight and adjust his eyes accordingly. For instance, right now she was a white t-shirt that darted here and there and the other one … well, maybe this one wasn't a good example. This angel was silvery bright, like the swords they fought with, and he was constantly flashing here and there as the two foes moved across the rooftop. Max was afraid they might keep going, leaping from rooftop to rooftop like superheroes, and that he, the lesser mortal, would be forced to try to keep up. She was too smart for that, though, because the last thing anyone wanted was witnesses and the best way to ensure that was to stay out of sight. Whoever survived didn't want to tangle with the authorities.
Max counted one blessing, at least. In the dark he didn't have to see all of the blood. Not that he was squeamish, but when it was her blood, he found it almost unbearable. He reached up to shove his wet hair out of his face, underneath the hood of his jacket, which wasn't really doing anything to keep the rain out and was instead obstructing his vision. He let the hood fall back, wincing as he watched her go down in a shower of sparks. Their blades hit with such force that Max imagined he could feel the reverberations himself. She wouldn't like it, but he had brought something, just in case. He carried it with him all the time, a gun loaded with silver bullets, the special type of silver that would kill them, with a wooden core, so no matter who she faced, there was a chance that he could protect her. He knew that she wouldn't approve, not because she had anything against guns in particular, but because she wanted her kills to be more intimate. She said that you should always be willing to look into the face of the being whose life you took. Max didn't agree, not when it was her life at stake, but he knew, just like he knew that the sun would rise tomorrow and that water was wet, that if he wanted to be with her, he had to respect her wishes in this.
The fighting continued for so long that Max lost track of everything but the sound of steel against silver, the low grunts and terse words between the two of them. He stopped feeling the cold, numb now as the rain continued to come down in sheets, interrupted only by the strikes of lightning that illuminated the rooftop for heartstoppingly brief moments and the rumbles of thunder that made his teeth rattle. This was the worst time, the waiting and watching and hoping, his heart hammering erratically and leaping into his mouth every time she went down.
But she always got up, as did the being she fought, until he didn't, falling instead through the skylight that dominated the top of this building. Max rushed forward when it happened, watching the glass shatter and rain down like a million glittering stars. It was gray out now, and the rain slowed down, pattering lightly over the concrete of the roof and down into the room below them. By the time Max reached the windowsill, she had already jumped, landing with catlike grace on a desk, next to the angel, who lay on the hardwood floor in a pool of his own blood. Max watched the blood spread further out with every shallow breath the creature took, and as the rain finally stopped completely and the gray sky lightened as morning threatened, he confirmed who it was bleeding out below him.