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(Fic) Caught Sleeping

13th July 2008 (15:18)
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This is a another fic written for fantas_magoria , prompted by these lines from 'The Harvest':

The Master:  A Slayer! Have you any proof?
Luke:  Only that she fought me, and yet lives.
The Master:  Hmm, very nearly proof enough. I can't remember the last time that happened.
Luke:  1843. Madrid. He caught me sleeping.

 This is the story of what happened that night in Madrid in 1843.
1,350 words. Rating 15, warnings for violence, death and tragedy.

.
Caught Sleeping

It was the proudest day of Don Cristobal de Menendez y Spinoza's life when his ward was Chosen as Slayer. She'd always been a dutiful child, hard-working and diligent, enduring the long hours of training patiently; but afterwards, when she'd relax and listen to the stories his father had told him, her laugh was like little silver bells. There was such life in her.

And as Slayer, she burned like a fiery torch in the darkness of the city's nights. Vampires and demons shrivelled and died at her touch; fear stalked through the underworld while the citizens of Madrid walked the city's moonlit streets in safety for the first time in generations.

Rumours came to him of an organisation, the Ordo Aurelii, that spread its grasping fingers all throughout Europe like a dark mirror of the Watchers' Council itself. Don Menendez investigated: studying the ancient books in his library, sending off to Council headquarters in England for more knowledge, and even sending his Slayer to extract information from the more harmless demons who dwelt in Madrid's shadows. At last he tracked down the Order's base in the Kingdom of Spain, in the ancient city of Toledo. They travelled there in his coach and took lodgings, and in one brutal week his Slayer tracked down and killed every last one of the vampires. It was a glorious victory, and his pride in her knew no limit.

On their return to Madrid a message was waiting for him from the Council. A warning. News of the destruction of the Ordo Aurelii's operations in Spain had flown on wings of night even to that Order's mysterious Master. He was angered, and had sworn vengeance. The Watchers knew this because a vampire had walked right into the lobby of their headquarters in London the next morning, shielded by a cloak. It told them that the Master had sent his chief disciple, the one called Luke, to destroy Slayer and Watcher alike who had done such harm to his children. Before it could be questioned further, the vampire had stepped out again into the direct sunlight, and burned to ash. Such was the power of the Master, that could compel his slaves to sacrifice themselves so willingly.

Don Menendez was not willing to wait like a lamb for the butcher's axe. He sent his Slayer out once more, to demand information about a strange new vampire arriving in the city. Terrified whispers pointed the way, and three nights later the two of them stood at the gates of the Santa Rosa cemetery, watching the moon rise over the tumbled stones and moss-encrusted sepulchres. She was confident, eager for battle, and his heart swelled within him as he watched her test the edge of her sword then stride confidently towards the large mausoleum at the centre of the graveyard.

He was still watching ten minutes later as the door of the mausoleum opened again, and a huge hulking figure tossed something small and broken down to the ground before the entrance, wiped his lips and went back inside.

The moon was bright, but his world darkened. He stood there minutes, or perhaps hours, unable to believe. Hoping any minute that the door would open, and she'd step out, laughing the way she did, wiping dust from her hands. That it was a mistake. That the crumpled shape of a dead girl there on the ground was a lie. 

But it wasn't. 

Slowly, resenting every step, he walked over towards her. Knelt beside her, gently turned her head to face him. Closed her eyes for her, and sat there cradling her until the moon set and the first pale glimmers of dawn lit up the eastern sky. He knew that the vampire might come out again any moment, find him there. Kill him too. He didn't care. Her face looked so peaceful, as though she were sleeping; but there was blood on her clothes, and the two puncture marks on her neck seemed to stare at him accusingly.

He knew what that meant. He knew what he had to do. He was a Watcher, and he knew his duty and the demands of honour. She had been bitten; she might be turned. He drew his own sword, stood over her. Her form blurred and wavered: a trick of the dim light, not the tears he refused to shed. His hand shook. But then he imagined her as a vampire herself, her light and life and happiness turned to darkness and cruelty, and he knew he was doing this for her. The blade swept down, and her head tumbled away across the flagstones.

He didn't watch it. All he saw in front of him was the shape of the monster who'd killed her, and he clutched his sword tightly and pushed open the door and strode into the mausoleum. He was going to kill or die trying, and he didn't care which.

Not true. He wanted both.

The tomb inside was large and shadowy. He stumbled, letting his eyes adjust to the trace of light coming in through the open doorway. But there was no mistaking his objective; the large stone sarcophagus at the centre of the room. He strode over, exerted all his strength to push the lid aside. 

He was there. The vampire, Luke, the killer of his beloved child. Fast asleep, sated and dreaming his evil dreams of blood and hatred. Don Menendez quivered, a haze before his eyes. He lifted the sword, then lowered it again. The stone sides of the sarcophagus shielded the monster, made it too hard to strike a killing blow. And decapitation was too honourable a death for him anyway. His dropped sword rang against the stonework as he fumbled in his coat for a stake. He didn't notice Luke's eyelids quiver at the faint sound; the vampire had no breath to alert him by its changed rhythm.

He clutched the stake two-handed and plunged it down towards the vampire's chest - just as Luke shot out his arm to deflect the thrust. Almost too late; the sharp ash-wood stake plunged deep into his chest, causing him to yell with anger and pain - but it missed the heart. His counter-blow knocked Don Menendez sprawling; then he leaped from his tomb, pulled out the stake and cast it to the ground. He spoke then, threatening the Watcher with a slow, lingering death as he seized him by the neck and lifted him, one-armed, right off his feet. 

It was the death he'd craved, but something woke inside Don Menendez then. Perhaps it was honour. Perhaps it was shame; his Slayer had not surrendered, and neither should he. Choking, fighting for breath, he fumbled in his pocket and pulled out a rosary. Pressed the cross against Luke's hand, and the vampire yelled in surprise at the sudden pain and hiss of steam. His grip slackened for a moment, and the Watcher kicked himself free. Dropped to the ground and rolled to his feet again like a man half his age - then sprinted for the exit.

Luke was right behind him, hands reaching to grasp and tear - but Don Menendez hurled himself out of the exit like the ball from a cannon, then stumbled and fell to the ground over the mutilated body of his Slayer. So much for flight; but at least he would die beside her.

But he didn't. Luke stood there watching him in the entrance to the mausoleum, unable to come any closer. Baffled by the warm light of dawn, as the sun rose gently over the city rooftops and chased away the shadows with pink and golden rays.

The vampire snarled in anger and contempt, then bowed mockingly. "Congratulations, boy. You're the first one ever to fight me and live."

But Don Menendez felt no triumph. His life would go on. He had his duty. There may even be other Slayers to train, in time. But live? No. 
The best part of him died that night. 

What he had was life; but it wasn't living.
.

Comments

Posted by: Maz (thismaz)
Posted at: 13th July 2008 15:34 (UTC)
Dove

That is wonderful. I love it. The language and the sense of place and the pride and 'father's love' he had for his slayer. I always thought the man who escaped Luke had to have been a watcher, but you have provided the motivation for his attempt. Thank you for sharing your picture.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 13th July 2008 15:57 (UTC)

Thanks! It always threw me a little that Luke is talking about Slayers but the person who escaped him was a 'he', so this did seem the logical solution.

Posted by: I need more coffee (a_mistletoe)
Posted at: 13th July 2008 16:16 (UTC)
Boo!

What an excellent response to Luke's words, and a fine example of the sacrifices Slayers and Watchers were called upon to make.

This watcher was a fine creation and I felt sorry about what he had lost.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 13th July 2008 16:27 (UTC)

In some ways, of course, he was a monster; training a young girl to kill then sending her into battle until she died. But I tried to make him sympathetic as well, with human feelings and honour.

Thanks!

Posted by: a2zmom (a2zmom)
Posted at: 13th July 2008 17:40 (UTC)

Wonderful story that rings completely true.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 13th July 2008 18:03 (UTC)

Thank you!

Posted by: mr_waterproof (mr_waterproof)
Posted at: 13th July 2008 20:24 (UTC)

That was a great story. However, when you quoted the line "..1843 - he..", my first thought was it was Angelus. And while I was reading the story, I was expecting the line "I am Don Cristobal de Menendez y Spinoza, you killed my slayer, prepare to die" to come up.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 13th July 2008 20:30 (UTC)

But that would be inconceivable silly. And would kill the mood. :-)

Thanks!

Posted by: scythematters (scythematters)
Posted at: 13th July 2008 20:47 (UTC)

I really liked this.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 14th July 2008 08:22 (UTC)

I'm glad. :-) Thanks!

Posted by: chrislee (chrisleeoctaves)
Posted at: 13th July 2008 21:10 (UTC)
phantasmagoria

This is a wonderful fic which makes good use of what we already know about the Slayer and unravels a whole new story with such perfect period detail.

From the fic's opening line: It was the proudest day of Don Cristobal de Menendez y Spinoza's life when his ward was Chosen as Slayer.- the stage is set and I never for one second after doubted where I was.

I also think you did a wonderful job of conveying how vital the link between Slayer and Watcher is- adding even more weight to the relationship between Buffy and Giles.

Thanks so much for this fic and your contribution to the community!

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 14th July 2008 08:28 (UTC)

Thanks!

such perfect period detail

Well, I'm not sure I'd go quite that far myself: I didn't even bother to research whether there was a railway built yet between Madrid and Toledo back in 1843, for example. ;-) But I know what you mean...

Posted by: the_hero_factor (the_hero_factor)
Posted at: 13th July 2008 21:53 (UTC)
zeppo1

I really enjoyed this.

It was the death he'd craved, but something woke inside Don Menendez then. Perhaps it was honour. Perhaps it was shame; his Slayer had not surrendered, and neither should he.

I really love this part. That even though he's devestated and wants to die, the idea that his Slayer went out fighting, and that he's one of the people she was fighting for, would spurn him to fight back, also.

Great job.

Edited at 2008-07-13 23:07 (UTC)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 14th July 2008 08:38 (UTC)

Thanks!

That line was a little tricky for me, since technically, what he does is decide he wants to live and then runs away rather than actually fighting back. :-) But that's more heroic than meekly staying there to be slaughtered... And you're right, it's what his Slayer would have wanted him to do.

Posted by: MrTeufel (mrteufel)
Posted at: 14th July 2008 02:54 (UTC)
Beautifully written.

You create the setting with your use of language, and the personality of the character you portray.

If you write a novel, I want to read it.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 14th July 2008 08:39 (UTC)
Re: Beautifully written.

*blushes*
(Well, figuratively, not literally)

Thanks!

Posted by: ares132006 (ares132006)
Posted at: 14th July 2008 08:10 (UTC)

Wonderfully written. Your use of language set the mood. I had never considered that it woudl have been a watcher that had caught Luke unawares. I, too, had always thought it someone like Angelus.

Her form blurred and wavered: a trick of the dim light, not the tears he refused to shed. His hand shook. But then he imagined her as a vampire herself, her light and life and happiness turned to darkness and cruelty, and he knew he was doing this for her. The blade swept down, and her head tumbled away across the flagstones.

Nice to know that it isn't only Giles that had a father's love for his slayer. This was a moving tale of love and death and honour.

Well done.


Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 14th July 2008 08:45 (UTC)

My assumption was that a superpowered opponent, like another vampire, would have easily killed Luke if he caught him asleep. The way Luke talked about it, the other person was lucky to escape alive, and would have died if Luke had been more alert. I can't see Angelus doing that...

Thanks!

Posted by: brunettepet (brunettepet)
Posted at: 14th July 2008 16:32 (UTC)

This was an excellent back story explaining Luke's words. You captured the watcher's pride in his slayer's accomplishments, and his devastation at her loss. Having to decapitate his ward made the loss that much worse, and his angry response was fitting and beautifully described. The image of Don Menendez tripping over her headless corpse, sunlight the only thing keeping him alive, was heartbreaking and vivid.

This passage was vivid and heart hurting: He was still watching ten minutes later as the door of the mausoleum opened again, and a huge hulking figure tossed something small and broken down to the ground before the entrance, wiped his lips and went back inside.

The moon was bright, but his world darkened. He stood there minutes, or perhaps hours, unable to believe. Hoping any minute that the door would open, and she'd step out, laughing the way she did, wiping dust from her hands. That it was a mistake. That the crumpled shape of a dead girl there on the ground was a lie.

But it wasn't.
The detail of Luke casually wiping his mouth is excellent. The once vital slayer now being described as something small and broken gave me pause, too.

Excellent job.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 14th July 2008 21:36 (UTC)

Thank you - and especially thanks for the detailed feedback! That was my favourite couple of lines from the story too...

Posted by: Alley (alleynyc)
Posted at: 15th July 2008 02:03 (UTC)

Very very cool. Thank you.

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 15th July 2008 18:36 (UTC)

No, no, thank you!
:-)

Posted by: Dio (diachrony)
Posted at: 15th July 2008 19:59 (UTC)
buffy ... and rule again (_jems_)

That was beautiful, and very moving.

::Wipes tears - literally, not figuratively::

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 16th July 2008 19:53 (UTC)

*Aww* Thanks!

*Passes you a (figurative) hanky*

Posted by: librarian2003 (librarian2003)
Posted at: 16th July 2008 23:49 (UTC)

Such an imaginative scenario created from no more than a couple of sentences. The story really fleshes out that enigmatic statement, as well as shedding light on both the Order of Aurelius and another Slayer/Watcher relationship.

Beautifully written. I loved it. (And I really do like the Order as the dark mirror of the Council!)

Posted by: StephenT (stormwreath)
Posted at: 17th July 2008 12:13 (UTC)

Thanks! I think I was drawing on inspiration from Victorian mystery/melodramas here a little (Sherlock Holmes, Dracula, Fu Manchu, etc), and the idea of the shadowy international criminal organisation fit into it well. And I did like the idea of the Order of Aurelius having a kind of truce with the Watchers' Council as long as neither interfered with the other, but Don Menendez and his Slayer were too conscientious and eager to take notice of that...

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