So, I write a LOT of fanfiction. Not as much lately due to circumstances, but I'm always playing with something. I always cross post to my own LJ, so feel free to check that out. I'm musically obsessed, write a lot of songfics, write a lot of meme stuff. I take requests on occasion. Please read my disclaimers, as I try not to traumatize anyone who doesn't want to be traumatized.
I hope you enjoy.
Title: Mightier Than The Sword
Genre: Fanfiction- The Hollows
Rating: I rate everything NC-17 OR HIGHER just to be safe. I'm not your normal little cookie, and it comes out in ink like poison on the page.
Pairing: Rachel/Al- And some really disturbing Al/Pierce. Not a happy little trees story- I really dislike Pierce, and want him out of the way for future concepts.
Disclaimer: I own nothing except the words rattling around my twisted little brain. All recognizable characters/plot points belong to Kim Harrison. There may or may not be spoilers- I don't give spoiler warnings by piece or chapter, so if you haven't read all published books in the series, you may want to skip anything I write.
WARNINGS: I am hardwired for tragic, erotic, sometimes frighteningly dark story-telling. I seldom write anything that is less than an NC-17, never anything less than an R. MOST of my work is even heavier on any/all of the following material- sex consensual, coerced and completely nonconsensual, blood/gore, bizarre magical concepts, a stockpile of torture and horror developed from childhood, a strong background in BDSM and other kinky things, profanity, non-canon plotlines, complete disregard for social norms and niceties, and a strongly purple tint to my prose. I write any and all imaginable sexual pairings- and a few that I'm pretty sure are illegal, or would be if they were possible on this planet. Occasionally I'm in a humorous mood and Cthulu kin make an appearance. I'm also addicted to feedback, the more I get, the more I write.
"No class, tonight, itchy-witch."
Al stood in my graveyard, not looking at me, the wind of the ever-after mussing his carefully coiffed brown hair, his eyes completely hidden behind a new set of shades. They were black as pitch, reflecting the moon-silvered headstones back in shades of red.
"Couldn't you have called?" I asked peevishly. "I could have made a date or something."
Al turned to face me, finally, and I felt cold fear wash over me for no explicable reason. Something had changed, and menace poured out of him in a black wave. He shimmered in the haze of ever-after.
"I don't feel like teaching tonight," he ground out, his accent clipped and dangerous. "Unless you'd like a different kind of lesson than you can find in books."
I took a step backward, involuntarily, my heart in my throat. He growled, low and vicious, and one long-fingered hand snapped out, catching my wrist. His skin was bare, shocking in its heat, covered in a thousand twisting scars. I shrieked as I felt the fragile bones inside my skin grinding. Distantly I heard Ivy's startled shout and Jenks' high-pitched whistle as Al dragged me close enough to let the wind that always blew in the ever-after lift my curls. His mouth took mine, hard lips and sharp teeth ravaging me, forcing my lips open, filling me with the choking taste of burnt amber and ozone. His anger was a living, breathing thing, raging through me in a searing blaze of ley line energy I scrambled to try and spindle, even as he ripped my control into ragged shreds. I gasped as he pulled away, cursing in some gutteral language that made my skin crawl.
"Tell me, Rachel Marianna Morgan." The demon was breathing hard and deep, a muscle in his cheek twitching as he glared at me over the top of his shades. "Did you take him to your bed just to get him killed? Or just to see how much more of my manhood you could take away from me?"
I gaped at him, fear making my heart stutter, my lungs freeze. Time slowed, etching the details of Al's face- the fury and agony in his gaze, the strain carved into his handsome mask- into the space behind my eyes. Wordlessly, I shook my head, unable to answer. His face twisted as he jerked his head up, throwing me backwards away from him. I hit my ass in the dirt as he straightened his back. His eyes were hidden again behing those dark glasses, his face cold and impassive as the graves behind him.
"Go, before I lose more of my control than I already have, my beautiful little traitoress." His eyes went passed me, and savage joy brought a dangerous smile to his face. "It seems my wayward familair is coming to your rescue." He laughed, bitter and triumphant, and let the line take him
"Pierce- no!" I screamed futilely, even as the black witch charged past me, into the vanishing line, chasing the demon. Straight to his death. I scrambled to my feet as Ivy slid to a stop beside me, her scent wrapping around me. Vampire incense, strong as her love, filled my nostrils as she spun me to face her.
"What in Tink's contractual hell is going on?" Jenks was shouting, while Ivy swept her aura-black eyes over me from head to toe. Her pupils were still ringed with the thinnest edge of brown as she fought to control her nature. I stuttered, swaying, and trying to turn back towards the church.
"Al- he knows. Pierce and I. He's going to kill Pierce."
"Oh, fairy farts," Jenks moaned. "This is so not good."
Algaliarept was not himself. He paced around his kitchen in a wide circle, dangerous and graceful as a hunting cat. His smoldering eyes were locked on the black witch in the center of the room, bound hand and foot on the stone table.
"Gordian...Nathaniel... Pierce." He drew the name out into a sibilant hiss. "I do believe I'll be in need of a new familiar." He paced closer, his hands clenching and unclenching in rage. He'd known the witch would follow. It was an ego thing. Like fucking Rachel.
"Traitor." He growled, and the table trembled, flipping itself upright so that Pierce was looking him in the eye. "She. Is. Mine."
"Mistress Witch?" the other man laughed, comtempt in every word. "I swan she didn't seem so last night, screaming my name as she was."
Al's head swam, his scowl deepening. Visions throbbed behind hsi eyes, his twitchy, itchy, elegant witch, stretched beneath the former Council member. Her cream-pale skin yielding and slick under the witch's fingers, his sneering lips tracing the forbidden paths of her desires...
Pierce spat out blood, his cheek split and already purpling. He winced as the demon backhanded him again with a hand that had grown black claws. He felt the distant chil as his shirt was shredded across his chest, and the trickles of warmth and pain as blood spilled down his ribs.
It was going to be a long, hard night.
"Did he hurt you?"" Ivy's voice was silk, sifting through the soft night like ashes. "All we saw..."
"Was him throwing me out of a line. I know." I was steadying with every step. "I need my gun. And Bis. I have to go after them."
"Oh hell, no." Ivy stopped in mid-stride, grabbing my arm. "You are getting your ass on sanctified ground and staying there until we figure out what to do about the demon."
"Ivy- this is my fault. MY fault. Al is going to kill Pierce, because- because I can't keep my pants on."
"True enough." Blunt and cold, Ivy met my panicked gaze with her own, her eyes filling up with opalescent darkness. "But Pierce can handle himself. Rachel, it's not worth it. He's not worth it."
"I'm going." My eyes begged her to understand as I pulled my arm free of Ivy's grasp and jogged the last few steps to the door. I dove for the new red splatgun nestled into my copperpots under the counter, calling for Bis. The young gargoyle dropped through the ceiling, landing beside me with a muffled thump.
I turned and gathered the startled gargoyle into my arms, feeling the lines sing through me as he expanded my awareness. I closed my eyes against the vertigo, and braced myself against the pain.
"Bis," I croaked, feeling my throat tighten with fear and guilt. "I need a favor..."
Al's kitchen was dark and cold. I hit the ground painfully as we dropped out of the line, gasping for air. My head throbbed with the line's energy, my skin felt tight and scorched. Bis whimpered and scrambled off my shoulders as I crouched on the floor, retching. He scuffled across the floor and returned, cupping water in his scaled palms. I drank gratefully.
All the arguments and threats from my friends hadn't been able to hold me at the church. I had finally threatened to hit both of them with sleepy-time charms just to get Ivy and Jenks to back off. I'd left them sitting in the kitchen, Ivy as cold and still as a statue, and Jenks screaming and cursing in rage. But I'd had to come. This was my fault, and I had to fix it.
"Ms. Rachel?" Bis' whisper was terrifed. "I think there's a problem." I lifted my head, disoriented by the darkness, and tried to reach out with the other senses I could still rely on. Everything reeked of burnt amber and broken stone, and under those scents, a smell like hot metal. I rose carefully, feeling my way forward with my toes. Almost immediately I stumbled, tripping over something that clattered and rolled away. I took a deep breath and reoriented myself. Moving carefully, I tripped over bits and pieces of wreckage until I found Al's fireplace. Sweeping my hand gingerly through the mess on the floor, I found a few pieces of his carefully hoarded wood and thanked whatever gods look after stupid, suicidal witches.
Tapping into the spindled energy in my thoughts, I pushed out the spell Ceri had taught me, forcing a flame to sparkle to life between my hands. I carefully fed the sticks into the blaze and turned to survey the damage.
Devastation was more accurate. All the carefully stored curses in the cupboards had been flung to the floor, broken glass and bottles sparkling dimly in the shadows. The enormous table where I spent so much time was in splinters of stone on the ground. The walls were missing bricks, and covered in scorch marks. A puddle of what looked like blood gleamed near the stone face that acted as a doorway.
"Bis." The young gargoyle huddled near my feet, his eyes wide and scared. "Go find Treble. Stay with her. Tell her I said so, and if she gives you any problems, she'll answer to Al."
"Bis, go." I stepped onto the screaming woman's face, checking the load in my splat gun. He whimpered as he scrambled into the shadows of the chimney.
"Touching." Al's voice, dark and thick, oozed over me from behind. I spun, ready to take him down, but he simply looked at me from the furthest edge of the flickering light. Shards of metal and glass crunched under his boots as he moved towards me. His coat was gone, and his shirt singed, splattered with blood. His disheveled hair spilled around his shoulders. His eyes were hidden completely behind those damned shades that gave me nothing but my own reflection.
"You came to rescue your lover," he spat at me. "How very sweet."
"I came to stop you from killing him, Al. That's all." He smirked- not his usual infuriating, teasing smirk, but something that scared me even more. He raised one hand and shoved back his hair from his face, leaving a crimson smear on his ruddy forehead.
"And what, Rachel Marianna Morgan, do you propose to do to stop me?" He tossed back the tattered lace at his cuffs and I saw what he carried in his other hand. I frowned, trying to make sense of Al carrying around a pen in a situation like this. His eyes followed mine, and he burst into broken laughter. He lifted the pen, catching the firelight on the edge of the sharp metal nib.
"Al, what's so funny?" I edged closer, my splat gun firmly aimed at his face. The demon sounded almost hysterical, gasping with laughter that sounded more like screaming. "And where is Pierce?"
The thought had never crossed my mind that I might be too late. Al liked to play with his food. When he lifted his head, I felt a quiver of doubt in the pit of my stomach.
"Put down that little toy, witch, and I'll take you to him." His sensuous mouth twisted into a vicious grin, showing the gleam of white teeth. "I won't even charge you for the trip."
"Liar." I took a step back from him as his face contorted in rage.
"YOU DARE CALL ME A LIAR?" He howled in fury, stalking towards me. I retreated, not daring to look behind me and having to slide my feet backward one at a time to avoid tripping. "Demons. Do. Not. Lie. That's your job, my litle bitch." He was closer now, moving faster than I could, his strained face hellish in the red-gold light.
My finger tightened on the trigger, but I still hesitated. He stopped, close enough that I could have reached out and poked him with the barrel of the splat gun. I could smell him, burnt amber and ozone, blood and salt. He leaned into my gun, his breath hissing out.
"I dare you. Pull the trigger. I'll throw you to Newt so fast you'll die before you catch your breath. And you'll never know what happened to your little friend."
"Al..." I hated that my voice shook. I hated that my hand was beginning to shake. He growled in satisfaction and swept his arm up, knocking my gun out of my hand and into the rubble on the floor. He wrapped his long fingers around my bruised wrist, tracing the marks he had put there even as he dragged me in against his body.
Panicking, I started to struggle, and he growled again, spinning me in a dancelike move that trapped me- his chest at my back, his arms wrapped over mine like some sort of macabre hug. I felt the tiniest prick in my side and froze, realizing I had nearly stabbed myself on that damned pen.
Without warning, we jumped.
I'd only been in the demon mall a handful of times. It made no sense to me, as the world shimmered back into reality, why we were here. Al shoved me away from him, sending me to my knees on the paving stones, and I saw why. Lashed to a stone cross in the center of the square, battered and broken and bloody, was the purposeof my trip.
"Pierce. Oh God, Pierce!"
Al strode past me, his boots echoing oddly on the stones. I realized that it was completely silent. Demons lounged against shop fronts, sat at outdoor tables sipping coffee or liquor, their impassive faces following my teacher as he fisted a hand in Pierce's hair and dragged his head up.
"Hello, familiar," he said pleasantly. "I brought you a visitor."
Pierce coughed, thin blood trickling down his chin, as he rolled his head back against his arm. His eyes were dull and blank as he looked at me. I stumbled to my feet and towards him, only to be stopped when Al caught my arms, dragging them behind me.
"Do you see?" he hissed in my ear, his breath warm against my neck. "Look, itchy-witch. Look and tell me what you see."
I blinked, trying to clear my vision. All I could see was a ruined, red mess where there used to be a man. Al grumbled in frustration and frog-marched me forward, close enough to smell blood and bile, the details of the damage leaping into clear relief.
Words. Pierce had been ripped apart by words, words like crawling things scribbled across his skin. I could only make out a few of them- it looked like his entire body had been wreathed in bloody script, from neck to toes. Apart from a blackened bruise on his cheek and the blood on his mouth, his face was untouched. He stared at me, his face completely blank, no recognition in his slack features.
"What did you do?" I breathed.
"The pen is mightier than the sword, love." Al chuckled, his fingers digging into my skin. "Didn't you learn that in school? Can't you see the poetic justice here? LOOK!" He flung me forward, away from him, into Pierce.
My knees cracked painfully into the base of the cross. I pushed my hair back from my face, staring up at Pierce's body. The words blurred again, and I blinked, bringing them back into focus. Slowly, pieces started to come together, a word here, a phrase there.
My heart thudded painfully in my chest as the words sank in, heat rushing to fill my face. Every secret, every touch, every kiss, every erotic, wicked thing Pierce and I had done together was inscribed onto his body. I recognized the cramped, slanting hand. I sobbed for breath, filled with shame and pain. My fault, this was all my fault.
"Oh, not all of it." Al crouched beside me. His rage seemed to have faded somewhat. "He knew the price for touching you. I warned him often enough."
"I. I own him. I own YOU. And no one takes from me." The demon rose, the pen clenched in his fist so tightly that his scars stood out in white relief against the dark skin. The jumping muscle was back in his cheek. "And now, I can kill him. And teach you the lesson you should have had long ago, student."
"No!" I swung at him, and he went misty, dodging sideways to avoid the blow. He reformed behind the cross, the wicked silver edge of his pen poised against Pierce's throat. The black witch flinched and groaned.
"Al, wait. What about Newt? What will she do if Pierce can't guard me anymore? She'll take me away from you." I tried to reason with the demon, edging towards him slowly, my hands spread harmlessly.
"Oh, no, my little itchy-witch. Because I'm through waiting." He traced a finger over Pierce's ribs, following the spikes and curves of the words. "I ripped every memory he had from his head. The way you bend, the taste of your skin. Your voice, when it goes hoarse with screams."
He lifted his head, his lips thinned with anger. "Everything, my little wanton. Everything he saw and touched and tasted. It's all in my head now. Newt will have no reason to claim you. Because I'll have you where you belong, chained to my bed, underneath me." His face softened, his voice dropped to a whisper that sounded like despair. "Beside me, above me, around me. Mine, Rachel Marianna Morgan, mine for the keeping."
"You can't. You don't have enough marks to take my soul."
"Don't I? I'm sure I can change that." His fingers tightened on the pen, and a bead of blood appeared in Pierce's skin. "What do you think? Shall I wite the end of this little story on your lover's throat?"
"Al, please. Please don't do this." I was crying again, cursing myself. I wasn't willing to trade my soul for the black witch's life, and I was out of options. "Please, just let him go. Sell him, do something else. I can't let you kill him."
"What do you have worth his life, eh my itchy-witch? I'll take another mark for it, I suppose." Which would give him three, enough to claim my soul, enough to drag me into the ever-after and keep me here.
"I'll give you another night of the week."
"Not enough, not even enough for me to give him back his tiny little mind. Not enough to atone for this insult, student. A demon has his pride."
"Only if you spend them in my bed, and even then it's not enough. A mark for his life. And you willing in my bed for his mind restored."
I shivered. I was on dangerous ground. Al wasn't in a bargaining mood. And any misstep was going to land me straight in Newt's tender care. The air around me shifted, and I flinched as the devil in question decided to make an appearance.
"Gally, dear, what is going on here?" Newt, androgynous and scary as all the demons in the mall combined, strode towards us, her robes billowing. "Why are you making a mess of your familiar?"
"He stole from me," Al snapped. "It is still within my rights to kill or sell an unsatisfactory familiar, is it not?"
"Of course," Newt agreed pleasantly. I stayed very still. She hadn't acknowledged me yet- if I stayed still she might not even notice me. Newt was funny like that. "Have you received any offers yet?"
"I haven't asked for any." Al's fingers crept around Pierce's throat, drawing a panicked moan from the other man. "I want him dead."
"Why?" Newt sounded like a curious child as she walked her fingers across Pierce's chest, licking the blood from her hand like a cat with cream. Her bald head gleamed in the dim light and what would have been her eyebrows drew together. "What did he steal?"
I took a deep breath and prepared to do something really, really stupid.
"Me," I said stepping forward. "He stole me."
Stupid, stupid witch. Al growled, flinging himself away from the man he wanted to tear apart with his own two hands, his blood boiling with rage. She was going to ruin everything. She had already ruined everything.
"Traitorous little bitch," he snarled. His hands were fisted in her her red curls, her green eyes wide and terrified as he roared down at her. "If all you wanted was power and danger between your legs I. WAS. RIGHT. HERE!" He shook her, feeling her lithe body tremble and twist against his.
Newt's laughter, rough and raucous, filtered through the pulse beating in his ears.
"Gally, let her go." The female demon put a hand on his shoulder, and pain flooded through him, dropping him to his knees. Rachel came with him, tumbled against his body by the grip he had in her hair. She writhed, gasping as raw line energy poured from Newt to him, from him to her. She retched out a word, spindling it as fast as she could, her breath coming in open-mouthed pants.
Agonized, he flung her away like a broken toy, her body sprawled boneless on the stones. Newt released him and he rose to his feet with all the dignity he could muster, sweeping his hair back from his face, straightening his ruined cuffs.
"As you wish," he snarled. He looked at the last surviving hope of his race, insane as she was, and barely bit back a growl. "What do you suggest, Newt?"
"Give him to me." Newt's gaze lingered on the witch, her black eyes dispassionate as she followed the snaking words across his body. "Give him to me, and I'll let you keep your little student."
"I want more than that for his life." He couldn't believe the words coming out of his mouth. Newt eyed him askance and he smirked. "I want my conservatory back. I'll throw his mind in for free."
"Fair." Newt's eyes narrowed. "But who will watch your little witch? I warned you..."
"Do you want her as well?" Al pretended to think about it, tapping a bloody finger against his teeth. "I don't really want to sell..."
"Al." Rachel had managed to get to her hands and knees, looking up at him through her tangled hair. "Don't."
"And what do I get out of this, hmmm? Tell me, what are you willing to bargain?" Turning his back on Newt, even though the skin between his shoulderblades crawled, he pulled her to her feet. "Another mark."
"No," Rachel shook her head. "No more marks."
"Someone has to keep an eye on you. Easier to do if you're here with me."
"Indeed." Newt paced around them both, something like amusement crossing her narrow face. "Rachel Marianna Morgan, I believe I have a solution."
Al closed his eyes. He wasn't normally so stupid. Drawing Newt's attention, losing his temper with a familiar. Allowing a student to betray him. He opened his eyes and grinned down at his lovely redheaded witch with malice.
"Do tell," he purred. Newt's fingers caressed his cheek and he swallowed back a shudder of fear.
"She's safe enough in daylight. I say she spends her nights with you, so you can keep an eye on her. She'll learn faster, too."
"But what about my runs?" Stupid girl. She never could keep her mouth shut.
"We will deal with those. I will accompany you." Al snickered. "We can negotiate on my fee."
"No! This isn't fair." Newt growled, and Rachel shuddered, looking steadily at Al. "I don't agree to this."
"Then I will give you to Newt, and sell her my marks as well as the one I bought back for you. Three marks to a demon, itchy-witch. Are you so eager to lose your soul?" He dragged her close, his lips brushing her ear.
"I will do it, Rachel. As much as I want you, I will not die to protect you from Newt. Agree, or damn us all." He felt her take a shaky breath, then another.
"I agree," she whispered.
"Louder, itchy-witch. Let them hear you agree to be mine, let them feel the conviction of this contract."
"I agree!" She screamed it at him, her eyes full of fury and tears. "Damn you to hell, I agree."
"Done!" Newt said with triumph. She touched Pierce's arm and tilted her head at Algliarept. "I'll expect you to come by and fix him as soon as you're done settling up with your... student." She grinned wolfishly. "I never thought to see you smitten again, Gally. It suits you." She vanished without so much as a ripple in the air, taking the bloody witch with her.
Al shuddered in relief. He looked at Rachel over the rim of his shades, his anger still a throbbing, tumultuous song in his blood.
"Now to deal with you, my dear."
Yep, I'm going to leave you hanging, for now. I've pounded this out, edited and rewritten it in less than 24hours. It's still rough as sandpaper, but I have a concept to run with now. I know where I'm going- although I live in the kind of reality where my muse occasionally hijacks my brain. Expect things to get more intense from here.
If you liked it- hated it- have thoughts/corrections/suggestions- leave a comment. If you want to see what to expect further down the line in terms of intensity- take a look at my personal LJ and 21st Century Cure.