A/N: I know I am supposed to have some sweet/touching/thoughtful/promising anecdote to mark the end of this lengthy and widely appreciated story. However, I do not, so let me simply say, thank you, and feel free to eat your heart out.
Professor B. C. Hayell,
Due to both your initial flight from the High Council of Vampires on February 14, as well as the suspicious circumstances you were found in later that night on February 15, your presence is required in court for an official hearing. In this hearing you will be questioned on the death of the serial killer, Narkall Dath, the incident at the High Council Library, as well as your possibly inappropriate relations with your student, Miss Rakel Deth. The hearing will be held in one week on March 9 at 12:00. Two officials will arrive at the Raekland Academy to escort you to headquarters.
High Council Member Amalric Tancred
Reading the letter over for what was going to be the fifth time, Belus growled softly to himself as he reclined in his leather desk chair. Discarding the paper onto his desk, he moodily stared at the far back wall; he glared stoically at the large black door, his right hand absently climbing up the side of his face to play with a small scar at his temple.
Actually, he was surprised that this had not happened sooner. Caphis, however, had again risen above his estimations; it was she who had fought brutally with the High Council for the past few months regarding Belus' and Rakel's right to recuperate before any sort of trial took place. If the woman wasn't already a Headmistress, Belus would have suggested she become a lawyer; she had skills and connections that a multi-millionaire would be jealous of. The Dragon Lady-like vehemence she displayed had earned them a near month of recovery; she had even managed to convince the council of Rakel's lack of connection to the situation, thus making them withdraw the motion to call her in for a hearing.
With Belus, she had not been so lucky.
Despite the fact that he had killed (for this is what he insisted Caphis tell the Council) a notorious murderer and psychopath whose track record was even worse than his own, the HCV did not let up on Belus. Upon examining the body of Narkall Dath, the Council Forensic Team found several very interesting things: 1) that Narkall Dath's heart had burst inside his chest, along with his lungs; 2) that there had been some mysterious, crystallized black sludge all the was from the tip of his tongue to the end of his esophagus; and 3) the traces (left unnamed) of extremely powerful and illegal Dark magick having been used on him prior to, and probably causing, his death. Not only this, but because of the state he and Rakel had been found in (and due to some dickless pipsqueak looking to make trouble (coughJemcough)) the Council was also finding reason to suspect him of "inappropriate relations" with Rakel.
And this time, Belus would be forced to own up to all of this in court. If there was one thing that he knew there was no escape from, it was a court date with the High Council of Vampires.
It certainly isn't a false accusation, he mused mildly. Truth be told, none of the accusations are untrue. It would appear that I am getting my just desserts.
"'Just desserts' my ass."
Shaken out of his reverie, Belus immediately went into immaculate mode, back straightening with a swiftness that was actually painful. His eyes darted, and quickly caught sight of who had spoken.
She stood there, in his doorway, leaning against the frame. She was clad in dark, ripped jeans, a black long-sleeved shirt, and a pale blue scarf, which she had thrown around her neck. Her hair was loose and free, spilling in ebony falls over her shoulders.
Her smile was weightless, like a sliver of soft moonlight and her inky irises gave a slow, deep glimmer; she was breathtaking. And she looked quietly radiant, healthy-- but it was a new healthy, a just-come-home-from-the-hospital healthy. There was still frailness about her.
When someone had finally stopped staring at them, sprawled on the debris-littered floor as they were, and sprang into action, they took both Belus and Rakel to the Second infirmary ward, where they were both put in beds and treated. The healing itself happened quickly: all major wounds, having been treated immediately, were cleared up in less than a fortnight.
The psychological trauma, however, hadn't been so quick to fade. In the nights and days following the attack, Rakel slept most of the time-- and woke frequently with nightmares. Once a week had passed, she was emotionally stable enough to go back to her own dorm. However, because the of amount of students she would no doubt disquiet, she was forbidden to attend classes; thus, she had a good lot of time on her hands to sit and ponder and delve into some rather unpleasant memories, things better left in the dust. And while facing your problems was an important step to solving them, it was definitely taking its toll on her.
This is not an environment she needs to be in, Belus thought, looking her up and down. She needs to be somewhere safe. Somewhere she can be nurtured and protected.
But how? He was certain that the High Council had no intention of letting him off the hook-- they were most likely going to pull out all the stops to ensure that he remained in solitary confinement for the rest of his unnatural life. Or worse.
Belus made a grim face. He couldn't protect her if he was six feet under or behind bars.
He sincerely doubted he could be without her either way.
Forcing a small smile of his own onto his worried face, he said genially, "Good evening. And what have you been up to?"
At this, her smile twisted itself into a slightly evil smirk that twinkled in the dim. "Terrorizing Jem and his posse," she replied, stepping further into the room. She sauntered up to his desk and leaned against it. "It's actually quite funny; a single look in their direction makes them shit their pants."
Belus laughed, surprising himself. He was rewarded with a warm smile from Rakel.
"How are your powers?" he inquired lightly. They were still on safe, comfortable ground.
She shrugged, leaning back on her heel and slipping her thumbs into the loops of her jeans. "Fair. I'm not blowing random things up anymore; I'm still shocking people, though. Lots of lingering static, or something. But the nightmares have let up."
A wonderfully large amount of relief flooded him. "Good," he murmured; his hands unconsciously fingered the edge of the letter on his desk. "Good."
Rakel's eyes strayed from his face to the letter edge dangling from his lax index finger. "So," she gestured at it with a nod. "What's that?-- no, wait, let me guess: a love letter from one of your many adoring fans."
Belus rolled his eyes; that was rather a sore spot. Ever since his alleged and heroic "killing" of Narkall, he'd been receiving more and more attention from the female population of the school.
His expression turned grave again, though, when he divulged the real origin of the letter.
"It's from the High Council," he said. "They've finally decided on a court date."
He regretted having said that a moment later when his words expeditiously wiped Rakel's grin away. She frowned and her thin eyebrows knitted together.
"In exactly one week," he replied, noting with some self-irritation that he sounded a bit morose. "I have a feeling that whatever the results, they will lead to a full trial-- which will, subsequently, lead to nothing good."
"What's the worst?" she asked, wincing inwardly.
Belus shrugged. "Death. Lifelong imprisonment in a white room. The latter, though satisfyingly sadistic, is rather inconvenient; no doubt they will be able to fashion the charges into something serious enough to warrant death."
He looked down while he said this. The words sounded harsh, even to him, and again, he regretted having spoken.
"So don't go."
He looked up from his desk, catching the flash of ardent vibrancy. She gazed at him seriously, stubbornly, daring him to disagree with her.
"It isn't that easy."
Rakel snorted, snatching the paper up and waving it in front of him. "What is? These numskulls have no hard evidence against you: just the monkeyshines of an asshole or two and their own suspicions. They have no right to convict you of any of this."
"Ah, but they do," he said bitterly, wryly. "This is no longer in the realm of personal battles against court; it is far more serious. This is political. This is about bringing criminals to justice and instilling a sense of power into our society's courts. In their minds, they have every right-- and even you must admit, most of these charges are based on fact."
She shook her head, looking at him in utter dismay. "So that's it, then? You're going to roll over for them-- comply to their fucking wishes?"
He was quiet, and she leaned across the desk even further, bringing her face close and making him look directly into her shining eyes. "Well?"
He stared at her, hesitating momentarily; then he angled his head and placed his lips upon hers, kissing her softly.
When he pulled away, she hadn't lost the look in her eye. It was still very cool, but his kiss had unearthed an underlying sense of desperation.
And, looking at her with such stubbornness and need, such pride and pain filtering through her severe, beautiful face, he knew that he would never be able to leave her.
It feels good to need and be needed.
Rescuing himself from her devouring black orbs, Belus slid his gaze down. He brought up his hand, and began smoothing his thumb gently over her jaw, her petal-velvety lower lip; he kept his own vibrant eyes hooded, and contemplated quietly to himself.
"No," he said finally. His thumb stopped itself at the left corner of her mouth and then pulled away as he looked back into her gaze. "No, I am not going." I cannot leave you like this, I . . . .
Easily and without disturbing anything, Rakel pulled herself all the way across the desk, and sat herself on the edge closest to him. "Then what?" she demanded, pushing herself off into standing.
Belus leaned back in his chair and thought quietly, considering his next words.
"Given the fact," he began after a cautious moment, "that the High Council has never yet had someone successfully refuse showing up in court, there is not much hope for us any way you spin it. However," he held up a hand briefly, seeing Rakel open her mouth, "however, if, by any small chance, luck feels that we are worthy enough to be smiled upon, our best chance would be to abscond-- quite abruptly and unexpectedly."
The way in which his ruby orbs sparkled when he said this was not lost to Rakel. She couldn't help but let a tiny, mischievous smile quirk the edges of her own worried lips as she began to grasp what he was implying. She leaned forward, putting her hands on either one of the leather chair's armrests.
"That sounds like eloping to me."
Belus smirked and placed a kiss on the corner of her mouth. "For lack of a more scandalous word, yes: we will elope."
"Not, of course, without style."
He raised a silky silver eyebrow.
"Belus! Belus, they're here!"
"I am well aware of that, Caphis," Belus replied calmly, keeping his irritation to a minimum. "I sensed them when they first stepped foot on the grounds."
"Yes, but they're here--!"
"And it will be taken care of," he enunciated clearly into the speaker sitting on his desk. He folded his arms, grumbling internally. He hated talking to people with this little noise-box; telepathy was old, to be sure, but not outdated. It was both the past and the norm. It was also much more direct and effective in preventing eavesdropping.
"Tell them I will meet them in the main hall," he told the little intercom, "no strings attached."
Caphis' voice paused for a moment. Then it filtered through the minute but annoying amount of static:
"They aren't going to like that. They want to barge in on you in your study, take you by both arms, and parade you all the way downstairs so that everyone can gawk at you as though you're a criminal."
"To them, I am a criminal," Belus reminded her, "and will be even more of one if everything goes according to plan. Have you sent our things ahead?"
Though he couldn't see her, he knew she was nodding her head. "With Mr. Jacques, as you asked. I even took the liberty of telling the head of dining car not to serve him any alcohol during the entire trip."
"Good," he said, though he was really thinking about how disgruntled the ruddy oaf was going to be once he met them in Boston. "I shall be down in two minutes."
And with that, he pressed the little red button on the side of the box and severed the connection, leaving him in a blissful silence. Breathing in deeply, he looked around his office.
Though, in reality it could hardly be called his office any longer. The glass cabinets along his walls, before filled with precariously placed, dangerous looking dark artifacts, were bare. His bookcases sagged from the weight of countless heavy books, no longer there. What little there had been on the walls had been taken down as well. The ever-immaculate desk was the only thing that looked unchanged, save for the absence of a red pen and a stack of essays.
All of it, of course, was now riding in the baggage car of a nonstop train to Boston. Once there, a semi-sober Rudolphus would unload it all and have it sent to an obscure little town in the northern tip of Massachusetts. The holder there would be paid a considerable sum not to pry into any of it, and while Belus doubted that this would stifle someone with serious curiosity, it was the best he could do, seeing as Rudolphus would have to promptly vanish. Even if he wasn't linked to the illegal activities Belus had been instigating for the past few months, he was not on good terms with the Council, and didn't need "possession of illegal dark objects" added to his list of accomplishments. Belus could hardly ask anything more of him. As soon the charges against him were dropped (and, knowing the way the HCV worked, it was inevitable that they would indeed be dropped), he could come out of hiding and go on living much as before: that was, spending no waking moment sober.
The man wouldn't be happy any other way, Belus thought giving his old office another once-over.
With a certain resign, Belus walked across the room and approached his office door. Lending the room a final nod of approval, he slipped out the door. He closed it behind him with a thunk, left the key in the lock, and made his way downstairs to the main hall.
In actuality, it didn't matter that they hadn't dragged him from his office-- the throngs of eager and curious students were no less in predicted number. They flocked around him but gave him a good five feet of distance for personal safety; as he glided majestically down the staircase, they coagulated on the main hall's floor, flooding in from various doors, all watching him with expectation. As he came to the edge of the staircase, he passed a group of girls with horrified looks; a few of them were even crying (though for one red-head in particular, "bawling" was a better term for the noise she was emitting). Hundreds of inquisitive eyes loomed at him from youthful faces, all silent but screaming their question furiously. At six foot intervals along each wall, an impassive HCV guard stood on alert, waiting for him to make a move. The room itself was drawing a slow, agonizing, apprehensive breath.
Belus looked at none of them as he swept casually across the floor, black robes swishing near his feet. His hair, loose, flowed down around his shoulders, and his eyes were fixed on the trio standing before the gargantuan main doors.
He met the gaze of Caphis first, who nodded; then he turned to the two faceless officers, and they stonily returned his acknowledgement. The one on the left stepped forward, breaking ranks with Caphis and his partner. Dramatically, he stated:--
"Belus Cohal Hayell, you are hereby arrested for participating in acts of suspicious and illegal behaviors, and are to be brought before a court in a formal hearing."
At this, there was a scattering of gasps among the large and numerous audience. Whispers filled in the gaps of the previous silence. A stern look from their grave Headmistress submitted them all back into watchful silence.
The second officer stepped forward, a silver band of metal in one hand. The vampire equivalent of handcuffs, it would bind his powers and hamper his physical strength so that he was easily subdued. It glowed faintly with Dark magick and gave off a nasty, noxious vibe, collective energy from arrests past decaying in the silver loop.
"Hold out your wrists."
No "please" and "thank you"? he wondered snidely, complying and lifting his arms. While the officer unhooked the complicated lock on the wrist band, Belus glanced up into Caphis' worried amber-grey eyes.
His look was unreadable.
Just as the officer was about to snap the silver cuff over his right wrist, something fast and dark fell from the cranny of the ceiling it had been hiding in.
The sound Rakel's foot made when it came down on the officer's shoulder was sick, but deliciously satisfying. Crunch, and the man's knees buckled as he went down.
Taking his cue, Belus whirled and sent the heel of his palm to collide dead center with the other officer's chest; the sternum cracking but not breaking. This officer went down as well.
The four seconds it had taken to immobilize the first two officers were all the HCV guards needed to spring into action. They swarmed immediately, coming at Rakel and Belus from all sides, knocking over students in attempt to reach them.
Not waiting to be surrounded, Rakel and Belus simultaneously dug their heels into the marble and bolted. The castle's gold-gilded main doors loomed before them, closed and unfriendly.
With a growl, Rakel thrust her hand, encased in dark magick, forward, sending a blast of energy at the doors and throwing them open. The night spilled in from the outside like water from a busted aquarium, and they dove into it, from warmth and light into cool and refreshing darkness.
The handful of guards that had been waiting outside looked up, utter amazement in their previously lifeless eyes. They scrambled into action, but not in time to stop the two fugitives as they raced across the emerald seas of the grounds. In seconds they were no more than two tiny black figures, sprinting for the academy's wrought iron gates. These two black shapes screeched to an abrupt halt before the gates before merging and becoming one, then vanishing completely into the darkness.
He turned away from the car's open door and looked at her. "What?"
"Giving every passersby who comes this way that dirty look," she replied, tossing her hair back over her shoulder. "You're making them suspicious."
"Would you deprive me of all my happiness?"
Rakel snorted, a smile that was becoming increasingly common finding a seat on her mouth. "Yes. Because you're a joyless, undead Elder who is currently on the run from the global authorities, along with his young, dangerous accomplice."
"Thank you for so graciously reminding me of that fact," he said with dryness that no amount of Zim's crack cream would ever cure.
At this, Rakel actually laughed, and Belus himself gave a small, pleased smile.
"Besides," he then remarked, "with my appearance, there is not much more I need do to look suspicious."
Rakel hummed and nodded to herself. "Hm. You're right. Shut the door, will you? Leaving it open like that is making me edgy."
Rising, Belus gladly complied, sliding the door into its wooden frame. Truth be told, it had been getting on his nerves too.
Resuming his seat directly across from Rakel, he gave himself a moment to look at her. She hadn't had a chance to change out of what she had lovingly referred to as her black "James Bond getaway" jumpsuit. The clothe shoes she'd worn in order to scale the walls in the main hall lay discarded on the floor, and her pale feet protruded from her pants.
Her feet began swaying, kicking back and forth, and that's when he noticed the tense, pensive look that had washed over her face.
He called to her softly. "Rakel."
She snapped her head away from the window of the train, turning those smoldering, endless black eyes on him. What? they asked. What kind of absolution can you give me?
None, he answered dully. He could give her none. He couldn't say, as they always did, that "it was over". There was no way he could be sure of that. Narkall could be the beginning of a string of similar psychopaths; the Council could have followed them, could have made Rudolphus talk and could be waiting for them patiently at the North Boston Station. Any number of things still had yet to go wrong. No, he couldn't tell her that it was over.
So instead, he said this:--
"I do not know what is going to happen, but I will stay with you no matter what. I cannot promise you anything, save for my complete devotion. I will never leave you, Rakel." He, blinked, and the spell of her consuming gaze was momentarily broken.
"Now," he said, leaning back once more, "please: try to relax."
She stared at him for a long moment, features without expression and unreadable. Something stirred within her though, something with a glimmer of unmistakable deviance.
"Relax?" she repeated.
"Yes," he said, feeling himself crawl with uncertainty. Was she quite alright?
She stared at him for another moment. Then she shrugged.
Without saying anything further, she rose swiftly from her seat and straddled him, placing her arms around his neck and surprising him by capturing his lips with hers. She kissed him deeply and he responded, the sensible side of him vainly attempting to break the kiss and ask between couplings:
"What are you--? Someone might-- Rakel!--"
"Shut up, Professor."