Disclaimer: This is an all original and copyrighted work. All legalities apply. Do not archive (except lists), or distribute. Do not use \copyrighted characters or 'borrow' the names Chancers or Last Chance Traveling Show.
Notes: I hope I don't let y'all down on this.
Warnings: I'm going to off Umi in the most gruesome way I can. She deserves it.
Vengeful Females, 8/8
by Fannie Feazell
A little earlier in the evening
YaYa left Callie in the bedroom and went to the front of the trailer. Dmitri and Artus were waiting anxiously. "She's going to be all right," she said, and the men relaxed a little. Dmitri started to say something, but she cut him off. "The baby is fine, too. It was a false alarm, caused by how upset she was. I don't expect a reoccurance, but it would be for the best if we catered to her for the rest of the pregnancy." Dmitri started to speak again, and YaYa said, "I mean even more than you have been."
"That won't be hard to do. Can I see her now?" he asked.
"Yes, you should. She needs a loved one near her now. She can get up, but tell her not to abuse the freedom." She gave Dmitri a hard look. "She's not to try to claw Umi's eyes out no matter how much she wants to, or how richly the bitch deserves it."
Dmitri went back to the bedroom. Callie was stretched out on the bed, holding a towel wrapped Sock in her arms. She gave him a weak smile and said, "We're all right. I'm sorry I frightened you."
"Baby, don't apologize to me." He sat on the mattress beside her. "Will you let me take Sock now?"
"No, not yet." When he sighed, she said, "Now, Dmitri--you've always been understanding. I need to do this. For ages untold women have prepared their loved ones for the next world, and Sock deserves every bit of tenderness and care. Don't worry, I won't exert myself. I can do most of it sitting in the bathroom."
"Only if you let me stay with you, to be sure you're all right."
"Certainly. Sock loved you, too. Having you there may help him find a little peace."
Artus came in, his expression grave. "Missus Callie. YaYa tells me the danger is passed. Sometimes Fate makes the right descision after all." He hesitated, then said, "I've had Uta Umi locked up in Stefan's cage."
"A good place for her," said Callie grimly, "if she isn't in the grave."
"It's obvious that we can't just turn her out," said Artus, "but I've never felt comfortable ordering a death, no matter how well deserved. The one who does the execution may be fine with it, or regret may come and haunt them. Most of our people aren't natural killers, despite what the world might think. Lucy wouldn't hesitate, but I don't think Stefan could do it, no matter how he might want to, unless he was in beast form, and that won't happen for awhile yet. Callie, you're the wronged party here. What do you think I should do?"
Callie rocked Sock's body, looking down at it, then she looked up at Artus. "I think her fate should be decided by the one she's hurt the most."
"Fair enough. But promise me you won't try to take her down by yourself. You can't endanger your baby."
She smiled faintly. "Oh, no, Artus. She's taken all from me she's ever going to take. I promise you that I won't even sing her into killing herself. But I won't try to convince anyone else they should do the deed. I just want... everyone to understand."
"They do, Callie."
"Not all of them, not yet. But they will. Please don't tell Lucy what happened to Sock. You can tell her that he's no more, but I should be the one to explain it. Dmitri? Help me up and go fill the bathroom sink with warm water."
Artus left the trailer thinking, *So that's it, then. Callie will let Lucy be her avenging Fury. Lucy's well suited to the task. She already hates Umi with a passion, and after what that woman did to Callie, she'll probably froth at the mouth.*
Dmitri watched silently as Callie bathed her cat's body, gently working out every scrap of the sticky webbing. She had Dmitri set up a fan on the tub as she dried Sock. Then she lay him across her lap on a towel, turned the fan on him, and began to carefully groom his fur. Dmitri couldn't watch any more. He went out to Stefan's cage and told Uta Umi exactly what he thought of her. He did it through the canvas, not wanting to give the woman a chance to entangle him in her strangling webs. He'd made it clear to Umi that her road through life was at an end. He didn't really think she'd use her last hours to prepare for death--he'd just gotten a little vicious satisfaction by quashing any faint hope she might have had.
When he got back to the trailer he found that Callie had wrapped Sock in the little patchwork quilt that she'd sewn for their coming child. "Don't scold me, Dmitri," she said in a low voice. "I'll have years to make more of these for our little one. I thought I'd have years more with Sock. He was always a healthy, lively thing, and cats can live a long time, when they're cared for. I hoped he'd be here for our baby to love as the child grew up. It would have been something else we could share. But now... Things change so quickly, Dmitri. The only thing that never seems to change is the human capacity for cruelty."
"Will you rest now, doll?"
"Will you lay down with me till we sleep?"
"Of course I will."
"Take the side by the wall tonight, Dmitri. I need to be able to breathe."
"I'll put him on the little pillow he liked to nap on."
She wouldn't change into her night clothes, but she lay down with him on top of the covers. He held her close, and Callie began to sing softly. It sounded like a lullabye. Even though he realized what she was doing, he had no desire to try to stop her. He simply relaxed and listened.
"Sleep, my lover. Sleep, my man," she crooned. "Take what peace and rest you can. For it's never guaranteed that you'll gett it when you need. Though I hate to use you thus, I must do what I must. I have promises to keep. Sleep, my sweet Dmitri, sleep." By the time she'd finished Dmitri's eyes were closed, and his breathing had settled into the steady rhythm of deep sleep. Callie crawled out of bed carefully, and went into the living room. She picked up Sock, then kissed the soft fur of his head. "You'll be able to rest in pease, Sock," she whispered. "I swear it. Love will bring vengance."
She left the trailer and walked to Lucy's place, singing. This time she sang, "I walk the night and I'm unseen by man, or woman, or inbetween. They hear this song, but don't realize that I'm bewitching all their eye. Though try they might, they won't see me pass. I'm like air or window glass. I do this only for a cause, I hope they will forgive. But someone's killed the thing I love, and must no longer live."
She walked right past several Chancers, who never glanced at her. She tapped at Lucy's door, but before it opened she called, "Lucy, don't open the door, just listen. I need you to bring Jing-Jing to Stefan's cage as soon as you can. I'll be waiting for you there. And brace yourself, dear sister. It isn't good news."
She sang again as she walked to the outer rim of the carnival, and no one noted her passing. When she reached the cage she carefully set her bundle down, then went to the cage. It took a little effort to release the canvas cover, but she was very careful not to strain herself.
Umi blinked in surprise as fresh air and cool moonlight streamed into the cage. She saw Callie letting the rope fall. The blonde woman peered in at her, expressionless, then said, "Hello, Umi."
"You don't dare kill me," Umi blurted. "I know America. You'd have to look over your shoulder the rest of your life." She bared her teeth. "That baby will have to grow up without its mother." Callie ignored her, going over to pick up the bundled blanket on the ground. She turned back and just stared at Umi, bouncing the bundle in her arms. "Say something, damn you!"
"I don't have anything to say to you, Uta," said Callie quietly.
"Ha! You there's nothing you CAN say. Open this cage," she ordered, "and I will leave. You'll never have to see me again. Why do you smile?!"
"You are so incredibly full of yourself-giving orders while you're in this situation." Callie shook her head. Her voice was flat as she said, "You shouldn't try to make me angry, Uta. Just so you know, I could make you bash your brains out against those bars. I could make you try to hang yourself with your own webs." Her eyes narrowed and she bared her teeth. "I could make you poison youself, then bite off and eat your own tongue--but I won't."
Umi felt chilled, and she suddenly believed what Callie was saying was true. She hadn't made an effort to know the Chancers, but she'd done some reading on unnatural creature. Callie Kouros was supposed to be a siren, and they were very, very powerful. "What are you going to do?"
Callie smiled sweetly, and Umi's insides curdled. "I'm just going to make things clear to someone. That's all."
"Callie?" a voice called. "You there, sister?"
Callie didn't take her eyes off Umi. "Here, Lucy, but don't you come nearer till you promise me you won't do anything violent."
"Oh, come on! Maybe just maim a little?"
There was a sigh. "You no fun. Don't laugh at Jing-Jing--she already upsetl."
Callie actually smiled when Lucy came up to the cage. Jing-Jing was almost being dragged at the end of a red leather leash. She was snarling and biting at it. "Jing hate this, but I had to keep her with me. She kept running. She been looking for Sock all night, and is now pissy bitch."
"Oh, Jing," said Callie softly.
Lucy was alert immediately. "Callie, what wrong? Sock not hurt?"
"Lucy, I want you to remember what you promised me. Tie Jing-Jing to that stake there. I wouldn't ask you to do that unless it was necessary."
Lucy shrugged. "Jing can't hang self, but can hurt throat." She tied the leash end to the stake, and Jing-Jing immediately began worrying it. "Better make it quick."
"Come here." Lucy approached. She looked curiously at the blanket in Callie's arms, then looked at her still swollen belly. "I can't say this, Lucy. I have to show you." She gently folded down a corner of the blanket.
Lucy looked and saw the piquant black-and-white face. "Oh, he sick! What happened, Callie? What...?" Her voice died away. She sniffed, then turned to look at the cage. Umi tried to scoot farther back. In an instant Lucy changed, and for the first time Callie saw her with her full nature exposed. The planes of Lucy's face shifted to unnatural angles, skin going almost translucent with dark veins visible. Her eyes were blood red, and glowing, and when she snarled her teeth looked like spikes. "BITCH!" she screamed. Callie couldn't say later whether Lucy flew or merely moved so quickly that it seemed that she did. In a split second the vampire was plastered against the iron bars, arms clawing through, nails as long and sharp as talons clawing the air. She was shouting in Chinese. Umi seemed even more frightened, and Callie wasn't sure if she actually understood, or just recognized the tone.
"LUCY!" snapped Callie. "You promised."
Lucy dropped to the ground. When she looked at Callie her face had melted back almost to normal. "Callie!" she hissed. "She deserves it."
"I know. But it isn't your right to do it."
"Yes." Lucy glowered at Umi. "Sing to her, sister."
"It's not my right, either." When Lucy looked at her she said. "No one has understood so far. I said I wanted to have her fate decided by the one she'd hurt the most." She looked at the tail lashing Jing-Jing. "That's not me."
"Aah," said Lucy. Her smile was terrible.
"Hold her leash, Lucy, while I make her understand." Lucy untied Jing and started to pick her up. "No, don't hold her. When she understands you might get your arms sliced. Just keep hold of her collar till it's time." Lucy did as she asked, and Callie sat awkwardly on the grass near Jing-Jing. Jing saw that her Sock's human was here, and meowed plaintively. "Yes, I know, sweetheart. You're missing him already. I'm so sorry I have to do this to you, but you need to know that he'd never have run off and left you."
She laid the blanket on the ground and opened it, exposing Sock's wasted body. Lucy gasped, and started to cry, bloody tears leaking down her cheeks. Jing-Jing saw Sock and started scolding him. When he didn't move she slapped at him. He still didn't move, and now she sounded more questioning and hurt as she slapped at him again. "Sweetie, he can't answer you." Jing-Jing nudged Sock with her nose, then suddenly backed up, ears flattening.
Callie started singing. "Jing-Jing, where is darling Sock? Where can your faithful lover be? He never would leave the ones he loves--you and me. I have no baby, you have no mate. Who has brought this horrid fate?" She pointed, and Jing-Jing followed the direction. "There she sits, the demon whore. Now we'll have our Sock no more. Now your kits will never know their daddy as they start to grow."
Jing-Jing was growling, seeming to swell with rage. The change was not as obvious as it had been with Lucy, because most of it was covered by fur. But her eyes changed--blue fading into red. The teeth she exposed would have made a pit bull cringe. She was making a deep rumbling in her chest. Suddenly she lunged. Lucy hung onto her collar with both hands, but she was struggling. Callie continued singing, and now her voice rose, sharp with hurt, anger, and hate. "I said I'd not kill her, I took a vow. So go seek vengance for us both--NOW!"
At the word 'now' Lucy let go. If Callie thought Lucy might have flown, she knew that Jing-Jing ran and leapted. She knew, though, that the little cat wasn't going to risk a second in fighting with the bars. She went just slow enough to leap accurately and scramble through the bars. Umi had stood up, eyes bulging in alarm. Lucy had startled her, but she'd known that the lock and bars were keeping her safe. They proved no barrier for an enraged Jing-Jing.
Even then she didn't fully realize what was hapening to her. As Jing darted toward her she tried to kick the cat. Jing-Jing just ran up her leg, claws digging in for traction. Umi grabbed at her with all four hands, and screamed when Jing's claws ripped her as she was torn loose. Lucy screamed and cursed again as her pet was thrown against the bars. She needn't have worried. Jing landed, four legs spread, but only lighted for a split second. It was as if she'd landed on a trampoline and launched herself back into the fray. Umi tried to kick her again, but Jing-Jing simply ran up her body. The cat was screeching and screaming the entire time. She didn't stop when she reached Umi's face, as Callie had expected. Instead she plated her back claws firmly on the woman's chest and reared up, fron paws spread, fish-hook claws exposted, and sank everything sharp she had into Umi's scalp.
Umi was screaming and stumbling now, trying to tear Jing-Jing off. Jing-Jing would free a paw or her mouth long enough to bite or scratch the tugging hands. She was biting off hunks of long black hair, and there were bloody chunks of scalp as she spit them out. Then she started working her back legs in a high stepping motion. Each time they came down they raked fresh furrows in Um's cheeks.
Her screams became gargled as blood filled her mouth. She slipped in the now blood wet straw and fell heavily. She tried to crawl toward the side of the cage, though it was unclear what good she thought that would do. It did no good. Jing-Jing rode her like she was one of the Shetland ponies--biting and scratching all the way. Umi's robe was shredded, and her skin was becoming shredded, too.
The two women were watching the very one sided fight. Callie's face was impassive, but her eyes were bright. Lucy's eyes were wide, and she murmured softly, "Wow. I know Jing-Jing a bad ass, but never knew she could do this."
"She lost the love of her life and the father of her children," said Callie quietly. "This is her right."
Umi rolled over, trying to throw Jing-Jing off. Jing sprang away before she could be squashed, but leaped back, landing on Umi's chest. Again she attacked, this time raking at her face over and over, her blows lightening fast. Umi could no longer scream, she could only gurgle weakly as the blood loss became too great to survive. Her fangs slid out reflexively, snapping, but Jing-Jing was out of their reach. Webbing sprayed from Umi's belly, but she couldn't aim it. It shot out in spastic ropes, stringing itself around the inside of the cage.
Umi was still trying to call out, and Jing took advantage to perform another vicious act of vengance. As Lucy watched in astonighment the little cat thrust her wedge shaped head deep into Umi's gaping mouth. She bit and jerked her head, tugging backward hard. There was a moist ripping sound and Jing-Jing tumbled off her body. She spat out a wet lump of flesh, then attacked again. She wasn't trying to punish now--she was moving in for the kill. She sank her fangs into Umi's already slashed throat and began to rip it out.
There were several gouts of blood, weakening with each pulse. The Umi convulsed, all eight limbs flailing, then went still.
Jing-Jing went still, then threw her head back and screamed. It was a primal sound, combining grief, rage, and vicious triumph. Then she turned from Umi's body, dismissing her, and went to the bars of the cage. She dropped to the ground and came slowly back to where Sock's body lay. She lay down atop him and began to wail, low and steady.
"Thank you, Jing-Jing," Callie whispered. "He can rest now." She reached down and stroked the cat's blood matted fur. "Now you have to go on, for the babies."
Lucy wiped her face, leaving bloody smears on her face. "Callie, I need to go wash Jing. She's not gonna clean that off--might poison her."
"Yes. I think she'll go with you." There was the sound of people approaching, and Callie said, "I was afraid that they'd come before this was finished. Go on, Lucy. You weren't really a part of this. I'll take any blame."
"Like hell, but I go take care of Jing now." Lucy gathered the cat up in her arms, and Jing-Jing lay against her shoulder like Sock had done so many times with Callie. She was whimpering and rubbing her face in Lucy's hair as the woman carried her away.
Callie wrapped Sock up again and took him on her lap. "She'll be all right now, Sock. Don't you worry about either of us. She has Lucy, and I have Dmitri. They love us, and they'll take care of use. You rest easy now."
She didn't look around as Dmitri, Artus, and most of the Chancers came up behind her. Everyone was looking at the mutilated mess in the cage. Finally Artus spoke. "How? I know you or Lucy couldn't get in there." He looked. "The lock is still intact. How on earth did you manage to get her to do that to herself?"
"I didn't," said Callie.
"I'll admit I'm hard pressed to say how you could, but I don't see what else could have happened. Lord, I haven't seen anything like that outside the Colleseum in Rome. They threw some poor bastard to a couple of lions that hadn't been fed for four days. What was left of him could have easily been fitted into a bread box.
"You said I could explain what had happend. I explained--to Jing-Jing." She looked up at Artus. "And no, I didn't make her do it. It was purely Jing-Jing's will. I just made sure she knew that Umi had killed Sock."
Dmitri sqatted next to her, putting his arms around her. "Baby, did you get what you needed?"
"Yes. I can let Sock go now." She bit her lip. "Dmitri, I'm sorry about putting you to sleep. But really, I didn't want you to see me when I did this. I'm afraid I wasn't very nice."
"But you were human," said Dmitri. "Very human." He helped her to his feet. "Tomorrow we'll find a pretty place in the woods to put Sock to rest--someplace quiet, with flowers and birds."
She sniffed, then smiled. "And butterflies, and grasshoppers. He'd like that." She tipped her head toward the cage. "Waht about--that?"
Xandu came forward and touched her shoulder. As she watched he mimed lifting the lid of a trunk, slinging a body over his shoulders, then climbing down a ladder. He dropped the invisible body and pantomimed digging. "Yes, Xandu," said Artus. "That would solve our problem." His moustache flickered in a near smile. "Though I'm glad I'm not a resident of wherever you're going. I'd hate to be presented with such a mystery. Stefan?" The redhead's nostrils were flaring with the scent of blood, and his teeth were bared. "Don't worry, we'll give it a thorough scrubbing before the next moon, and the soiled straw will burn easily on the trash pile. It seems things are settled, so why don't you good people go back to your beds? It might be prudent to do a fast turn around here, leaving tomorrow afternoon instead of early day-after-tomorrow." He bowed to Callie. "I see now what you thinking when you asked me to be allowed to explain the situation. You are a judicious woman, and a patient one. I don't think it was entirely easy for you to sit back."
"No, but it was the right thing to do," Callie said.
Stefan came to her and held out his arms. "Let me put him to rest, Callie. Dmitri should be with you now."
"Thank you, Stefan." She finally surrendered the blanket. "Bury him deep, so that the animals won't disturb him."
"You got it."
"I think I'd like to rest now." Callie put a hand on her stomach. "The baby needs to rest. Take me home, Dmitri."
A month later
"Is she any better?" asked YaYa.
Dmitri looked a little drawn. "Not really. She's not interested in anything anymore. She won't sing, she doesn't smile. She sits and stares at his pillow, like she expected to see him there."
"It's very hard to let go," said YaYa. "A lot of people can't understand being that attached to an animal."
"Even Lucy can't get a rise out of her," sighed Dmitri. "I'm getting worried. She still has a month to go in the pregnancy and she just isn't THRIVING like she was."
Callie came in from the bedroom. "My ears were burning, you two."
"You're our favorite subject--you know that," said YaYa. "Lucy wants you to go over and see her."
"Maybe tomorrow night. I'm tired."
"Sweetie, this is Lucy. She needs you as much as you need her. Don't you want to see how Jing-Jing is doing?"
Now Callie looked alert. "Oh, no! There's nothing wrong, is there? I know there's been some question about the kittens, since they didn't seem to be moving much. She didn't lose them? That would be horrible! Not Sock's babies."
"I don't know why she wants to see you," said YaYa. "Go find out." As Callie hurriedly left, YaYa smiled at Dmitri. "I do sho know why."
Callie rapped on Lucy's door, but didn't even wait for her friend to answer. She opened and hurried in. "Lucy! Lucy, is Jing all right?"
Lucy came out of the bedroom. "Jing fine, except pissed that paternal grandma not come to visit."
"What? Lucy, do you mean...?"
At that moment a much more slender Jing-Jing came down the hall. She was carrying a plump white kitten gently in her jaws. She stopped in front of Callie and stared up at her expectantly. Callie sat heavily on the couch, and Jing-Jing jumped up, laid the kitten in Callie's lap, and headed for the bedroom again. "Oh, Lucy," said Callie breathlessly. "It's..." Lucy laughed heartily as Callie looked under the kitten's tail. "She's beautiful." The kitten squawked indignantly. "Yes, I know it's rude." Callie cuddled the kitten to her cheek. "You're so precious."
Jing-Jing was returning with another white kitten. As she laid it, too, in Callie's lap Callie said, "I wish they'd gotten their mother's markings."
"Probably will," said Lucy. "Siamese start out plain, grow colored. That girl too."
"How do you know?"
"I know cause only boy look a lot different. See for yourself."
Jing-Jing was bringing a third kitten. Again she leaped up and deposited it in Callie's lap, then she sat back to watch.
Callie's breath caught. "Oh," she said softly. "Oh, Jing." It was the image of Sock as he had been when he was a kitten, a roly-poly ball of shiny black-and-white. One of his little forelegs was even white. But the baby eyes that looked up at Callie were blue. The other two kittens had crawled off Callie's lap and were nuzzling up to Jing-Jing. Jing flopped on her side and let the kittens root at her belly. "He might be hungry, too." Reluctantly she put the kitten down, giving him a gentle push toward his mother.
Jing-Jing got up, leaving the protesting white kittens behind. She once again took the tuxedo kitten by the scruff and lifted him into Callie's lap. Then she stared at Callie and said, "Yow!" She nudged the kitten closer to Callie's rounded belly and meowed again.
"Callie," said Lucy, "Jing trying to tell you something."
"Oh, but he's so little."
Jing-Jing gave her a slightly disgusted look and took the kitten farther down the couch, then lay to let them all nurse. "Jing say not now, silly," Lucy interpretted. "When he not need titty, then you get kitty. What say?"
Callie laughed, but her eyes were wet. "I say I guess I'd better start thinking of more names."