Chapter 21 - Respect for the fallen

The funeral took place a week after the battle, and there were more in attendance that I'd expected. All the remaining Slayers were there, including Erol, and then of course there was Dracula, Victor, Jane, Jack and myself. If you're wondering now who the funeral was for, it was for Elizabeth and Armando.

"Do we have to give them a funeral?" I wondered aloud to Dracula, "They did sort of try to kill us and all that crap."

"Yes, we do have to give them a funeral." Dracula smiled, explaining, "As much as Elizabeth betrayed us, she was still our friend. And our friend deserves a proper burial. Everyone does. It gives the dead a natural closure to their lives, it takes the suddenness out of it all, friend or foe, hero or villain."

"But they were trying to end our lives, I doubt they'd be so kind as to give us a funeral." I countered.

"Ah, but one must always show respect for the dead, as we have no idea where they will move on to, or if they're going to move on at all." He smirked, as if knowing something he wasn't letting on, "It's best to be nice to them now while we still have a chance to appease them, just as a precaution."

I didn't bother asking what this meant, and instead turned to Erol, "You ok?"

He hadn't said a word throughout the whole ceremony, but now he broke his silence, "I'm fine. Everything I knew before has been thrown completely upside down into a new light. Most of my comrades are dead for a cause we shouldn't have been fighting for, and now I'm not sure what to think. But I'm ok. I'm still alive."

"Will you be all right dealing with the Government side? Me and Dracula think you'd be trusted by them more than us." I hid the fact I was still slightly concerned for Erol's wellbeing. I knew how it felt to have everything you thought torn up in front of you.

"I can handle a few Government officials." He grinned, "They're easy if you talk to them properly. And I'm sure I can sort out some kind of explanation to keep them happy until you get the antidote ready."

I ignored the fact I didn't know what he was talking about and tried to carry on the conversation, "So-"

"You know, you and Victor seem to be getting along well." His smile had a hint of mischief, "Besides, you guys could do with some alone time after that little scene you had before the fight."

"W-what?" I glared at Erol, covering my embarrassment, "How do you know about that?"

"Dracula told me all about it." He replied casually, "Personally, I think you should've got the hint when he was cleaning up your messes for you, but I suppose I don't blame you for not getting it."

"Hey, I don't need advice from you about stuff like this." I poked him in the side before wandering through the crowd of Slayer's to find Victor and Jack.

"Oh, hi Elsie." Victor smiled as he saw me approach, "Everything ok with Erol?"

I nodded, "He says he's fine, so there's no point pursuing it any further."

"Did you hear about our next mission?" Jack grinned, "Seems Dracula wants us to retrieve the ingredients for that antidote to the humans…not sure how we're going to get everyone to drink it though."

"Well, we have to find some way." Victor said, "We can't leave a clueless Government at the head when someone could stumble upon the fact they could control everyone if they really wanted to, can we?"

"Right." I looked away for a moment, then looked back at Victor, "Um, can we talk for a bit in private?"

He blinked, then cottoned on to what I might be implying, "Oh, um, yeah, sure." We strode through the crowds, eventually finding a quiet clearing where we sat, "So what is it?"

"Well, you see…" It was only now I realized I didn't have the first idea how to talk to him about such a delicate subject, "Um…you know we've known each other for a while now?"

He nodded, "Of course."

"And over that time, we've been getting along quite well." I continued, pausing to try and conjure some words from the air that would phrase exactly what I wanted to say.

He nodded again, "I know all this already."

"Well, I've been…um…growing quite fond of you." I said, instantly feeling stupid for having said it like that, "I mean…we're quite close…and there was the whole…protective thing from before the battle…"

"I'm not sure I quite get your point." He smiled politely, but I could tell he was getting a little impatient with how I was dancing round the subject, "Can you phrase it a bit clearer?"

"Well, I…I…" My eyes narrowed as he started grinning, "You already know, don't you?"

"Yes, but I'd rather hear you say it." He replied, still grinning, "Just so it feels more real."

"In that case, I…I…" I still couldn't get the words out, even though he already knew, "I…l-love…I love…"

"I can't wait forever." He smiled, leaning forward and kissing me, stealing the last word before I could say it.

Since then I've heard many times that the first kiss is always the most special. I'd have to agree, as the first time always feels strange and awkward, but wonderfully sweet all at the same time. It's difficult to find any other words to describe it.

He leant back, letting me savour it before saying, "What was that last bit?"

"You already know that I love you." I rolled my eyes, grinning from ear to ear like an idiot, "And I was about to finish my sentence before you so rudely interrupted."

"Sorry." He smiled mock-apologetically, "But it was worth the interruption, wasn't it?"

I paused for a minute, then asked, "So does this mean we're officially a couple now?"

"I hope so." He replied, laughing, "Or I just made a mistake."

A thought suddenly struck me, "What happened to Charles? I never saw him after the battle."

"I…don't actually know." Victor shrugged, "But don't worry. He's no threat, probably cowering in a bush after the way I sorted him."

"Hey, you two." A voice behind us startled me, a voice that turned out to be Jack, "You're going to miss the main e-…hey, have you two got together now?" I nodded sheepishly and Jack sighed with relief, "Finally. It's about time. Now come on, it's the main event."

We stood and made our way back to the service, where Jane managed to catch up with us, "Hey, Elsie, I just wanted to ask you something."

"Sure." I smiled, glad to see her, "What is it?"

"How come you trusted me in the battle?" She asked, her usually bright disposition becoming more sad, "For all you knew I could've turned on you again."

"I guess I was just happy to go along with it, even if it was too good to be true." I said, still smiling, "I suppose I just liked it better thinking you were on our side." I would've continue explaining, but a loud cough from Dracula signalled a silence from the crowd.

"We're all gathered here to witness the burial of Elizabeth Blake and Armando Fears. As much as they were not wholesome characters in life, may their spirits rest in peace where ever they may rest. And if they should come back to haunt us, may they find it in their hearts to forgive us for our trespasses, as we've forgiven them for trespassing against us." Dracula's voice was loud, but he wasn't shouting, his words stirring something in me and surely in everyone else, "For it's better that we don't dwell on past mistakes and past crimes. Life is here and now, and that's all that matters."

He waved an arm to the left and then the right, signalling for the Slayers who'd volunteered to help to lower the coffins into their respective holes.