Sublimation: Heat of the Moment

There's a realm above the trees / Where the lost are finally found / Touch your feathers to the breeze / And leave the ground -- Owl City, To the Sky

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Sublimation: Heat of the Moment

Post by Crispin » Wed Dec 05, 2018 2:53 am

August 2013


Cris inhaled until his chest strained, the scent of jasmine and clean cotton soft to his senses and on his skin. He stretched out an arm across the wrinkled sheets, just barely warm and imprinted from the weight of a body. A smile spread across his mouth, easy and full, as lashes parted to let in the clean light of the dawn. Fatigue's clutches slipped away like oil off water.

He opened his eyes.

And sat bolt upright, panic thundering through him.

The room he was in was longer than it was wide with high ceilings and a spacious atmosphere; a loft designed to hold artwork or sculpture, not the furnishings of domesticity. The floor was made of pale wood planks glossed to a high shine with no rugs to protect the soles of unsuspecting feet from the chill. The theme of the decorations was modern, chrome and black, and minimal.

On the opposite side of the loft was a collection of kitchen appliances; a stainless steel fridge next to which were cabinets. A toaster, microwave and coffeepot, all made of the same alloy, shiny and clean, took up much of the counter space. Through the window above the sink, he could see the brownstone bricks of the adjacent building.

A screech of metal silenced the ambient noise he'd registered as running water. The shower, from beyond the door some feet away from his left. The slide of the shower door, water droplets falling to splat on porcelain. Cris threw the tangled bedclothes from his legs and spilled out onto the floor with a painful thud. He looked frantically at the clock on the steel and glass nightstand looming over him. The digital red numerals read 07:38. Next to the clock and framed in silver, two women stood cheek to cheek, embracing and smiling brilliantly at the camera. They could have been sisters with the darkness of their hair, the shape of their brows and the sharpness of their jaws. One woman's eyes were the deepest black, the other's were a chilly ice blue. The nightstand's drawer was half open revealing the handle of a knife resting among hair ties, a tube of lipstick, and spare change.

He scuttled back from the bed, casting his gaze around. The floor to ceiling banks of windows left much to be desired in the ways of privacy, but they afforded the loft a brilliant view of New York's tumultuous skyline, the East River a cloudy ribbon in the distance.

This was not where he'd laid down.

This was not where he wanted to wake up.

A musical chime shattered the silence of the loft, making him jump and fumble for the weapon in the nightstand. He had no idea where his blades were and his legs were covered in soft plaid instead of the sturdy comfort of gear. After a repetition and a half of the song, a woman's voice took its place.

"Hey, you've reached Bianca and Cris. We're either not here or screening our calls because we hate you. Or we're having sex." Laughter rang in the background of the recording, and when the woman's voice resumed, she was speaking through a smile. "Leave what you need, we'll probably get back to you at some point. Bye!"

Cris gulped as another voice began.

"Heeey, it's Salome. Bianca, I know you're awake at least. Cris, get up, you sleep too much. I'm bringing coffee in about twenty. Make sure you're presentable and not joined at the you-know." Click.

"Was that Salome?" called the hidden figure in the bathroom and he looked to the door, that voice plunging him into a storm of dread and joy. He gripped the knife handle tightly and drew it from the drawer. He did not take his eyes away from the door, not even when she emerged.

She was a small woman, and slender, the generous white towel wrapped around her torso and the fall of her jet black hair to her elbows making her seem child-like. Her attention was not on him, on the small round table that held the phone instead, but he could not take his eyes off her.

She was a study of contrast. For one so small, her limbs were long, slim, almost coltish in their length. Her white skin held no freckle or scar, starkly devoid of color against her curtain of dark hair. Her nails were painted a deep, bloody maroon. She hit the play button on the answering machine with one of them but as soon as she heard the voice, she punched delete.

"Yeah, yeah."

Then, an excruciatingly long, or short, moment later, she turned to him.

Her face was as perfect as he remembered it. High, shapely cheekbones, a sleek jaw. Dark brows and long, sweeping lashes framing eyes of the clearest, arctic blue, narrowed in an almost feline squint of challenge; daring him to be the one to conquer her. It was not the face of the girl next door, but the one that would set that girl's house ablaze.

When she smiled it was with an abundance of giddy glee, both sets of pointed eyeteeth glinting as she laughed. "What the hell are you doing on the floor, Cris?"

He had no idea what this was. A beautiful dream or a terrifying nightmare, but never before had either one seemed so real. Never before had he not been able to jolt himself out of it on his own.

This was not where he'd laid down.

This was not where he'd wanted to wake up.

And the last time he had seen this woman, she had been dead in his arms.

"Bianca."
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Re: Sublimation: Heat of the Moment

Post by Crispin » Wed Dec 05, 2018 3:01 am

The longer she held his gaze, the more he found the details of the loft around him disappearing in a haze of white and chrome. Their surroundings were immaterial. The ethereal woman before him, wrapped in her towel, was very much alive.

And she was very much headed in his direction.

Her smile had eased into something far less mirthful, her plump lower lip caught between two rows of perfectly white teeth. Fangs dimpled delicate flesh almost to the point of drawing blood. Her steps were languid and graceful for legs so small, all of her weight focused on the balls of her feet. The supple curve of muscle in her calves tensed with each step she took until she was right before him.

"Did you have a bad dream? Poor baby."

Black hair tumbled free from over her shoulder in a jasmine scented waterfall, dripping on his skin and clothes. Bianca reached for him without shame and he turned his face away from her. His back came up flush against the glass and metal nightstand.

"Oh, don't be like that. You know I can make anything all better for you, Crispin. Won't you tell me what's wrong?" She got down on her bare knees, strategically placing one on either side of his own. She did not think he would try to escape. Her palm was warm on his thigh, dragging up and across his hip. Her fingernails raised red welts on his stomach beneath his shirt and never once did she lose her smile.

Beneath the cover of the bed, Cris tightened his grip on the handle of the knife and tried to ignore the way his heart was intent on beating its way out of his chest. Her hips covered his, her softness bathing him in warmth. In readiness.

He closed his eyes to shut her out when she put her hands on his neck, fingertips tracing the Marks wrapping his throat. Her hair was slippery silk against his cheek, filling his senses, paralyzing him. He felt the muscles in her thighs grip him, her weight pressing down. Insistent, tempting.

Her mouth on his ear was hot, damp with the wetness of her tongue and her words slithered over him like desire forged snakes, filled with a poison he couldn't wait to have course through his veins.

"I could do things to you that would terrify even your nightmares…" She pressed her body against his, covering his willpower with her presence. His mind tried to tell him there were too many layers of fabric between them, that the slide of wet flesh on flesh was the only thing he should be feeling. The scents of sweat and flowers and sex mingled in a humid haze that took his breath away and never gave it back.

"Cris…" Bianca pleaded in his ear and he ignored the shudder of pleasure he felt course down his spine. He put his arm around her, holding her gently writhing body against his chest while his other sneaked out from beneath the shadows of the bed. His fingertips stuck to her wet skin as he pulled the border of her towel down, exposing her shoulderblade, making her gasp.

He turned his wrist and the morning light winked down the edge of the blade moments before he plunged it into her back.

She struggled through a moan that had began as a sound of pleasure, choking off in a gurgle of pain. Her undulations against him became violent in her desperation to get away, but he held her tightly to his chest. Her fingers burned him where she touched his skin and he smelled smoke in the air, mixing with the blood soaking through her wound.

Soon after, too soon, she went still and her weight against him became the abandonment of life. He could no longer feel her breath on his neck or her tears wet his shirt.

"I'm sorry… I'm so sorry," he said to the empty loft, his voice shaking in his mouth. His hand around the knife was slick with blood. "I don't know who you were, but you were not, nor would you ever be Bianca…"

But he turned his face into the woman's hair, drying his eyes in the scent of dead jasmine.
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Re: Sublimation: Heat of the Moment

Post by Crispin » Thu Dec 06, 2018 1:41 am

Early morning light was the first thing he saw when he opened his eyes. The air was filled with the scents of dew, perfume, and the gentlest smudge of cigarette smoke. He turned his head from where it rested on the pillow, frowning as he brought his hand over his face, smearing away the remnants of fatigue. Gaze focused through his fingers, he squinted at the high ceiling, so far out of reach, fat beams of steel criscrossing overhead.

Sunlight streamed in through long banks of windows.

The sound of running water pitter pattering to his left. To his right, the digital clock read 07:38.

Dread rushed through him like a flood of dirty water, his shirt clung to the sweat slicking his back. Cris threw the blankets away from him and wasn't surprised to find his legs covered in loose flannel plaid.

This was a dream, he was convinced of it now. A recurring dream borne of…if he was honest with himself, borne of the suppression of several months worth of feeling. He put his legs over the edge of the bed and the phone rang. He let it go to the machine.

"Heeey, it's Salome. Bianca, I know you're awake at least. Cris, get up, you sleep too much. I'm bringing coffee in about twenty. Make sure you're presentable and not joined at the you-know."

Click.


"Was that Salome?"

The sound of her voice put a sickening nausea in his stomach that leeched the blood from his face, dampened his palms and made all his movements unkempt. He found the edge of the bed to lean on and worked to calm himself enough for action.

The gentle thuds of bare footsteps sounded from behind him and once more the message button on the machine was pressed. Moments later, Bianca cut off Salome's cheerful voice.

"Yeah, yeah."

Cris turned his head, chin on his shoulder and watched the woman put her fingers through her long, wet curtain of hair. She massaged her scalp and slid her fingers down her white neck, sighing in satisfaction. Then her sweeping lashes lifted over glacial blue eyes and she smiled at him.

"Good morning, sleepyhead."

He blinked.

"What? What are you staring at me for? I know I don't have anything on my face, I just exfoliated." She put her hands to her cheeks. He continued to stare at her.

"Cris, what's wrong? You didn't get much sleep last night, is that it? Do you need coffee?" Gaze tracked her as she put herself before him and raised the back of her hand to his clammy, furrowed brow. "You feel cold. You want me to warm you up?"

Her full mouth began to spread into a smile he knew well, lids settling half mast over her eyes; their ice blue suddenly smoldering.

He looked away from her and got up, avoiding her outstretched hand. "No, I'm fine. Thanks."

"Cris…" Her hands closed around his elbow before he got too far from her and he paused, sighing in exasperation. "Talk to me."

He wet his lips, knowing he should pull his arm from her grasp but was suddenly unable to. She seemed to take that as an invitation and moved to stand in his way once again, tilting her head back to meet his gaze with hers. Her presence, her being, was too large for her small body. She looked at him as if they were the same height with the knowledge that he belonged to her. She drew his eyes back to hers with little effort.

"I had a dream. And in it…you died."

She laughed, and the song of it startled him like a slap to the face. She patted the Strength rune on the left side of his neck. "You know that won't ever happen. I have you to protect me, don't I?"

He rubbed his throat where her hand had touched him and could not bring himself to meet her eyes.

"Well, you did protect me, didn't you?"

"Bianca, you died, of course I didn't protect you."

"But it was just a dream! A silly little dream. A passing fancy. A tiny blip on the radar. You have dreams all the time and they don't mean anything."

"Coming from a Warlock, dreams mean nothing?"

Bianca smirked. "Yours don't."

He dug his fingers into his throat. He would very much like to wake up, now.

"Crispin…" His name on her tongue arrested him. Reluctantly, he looked back at her like a dog knowing his punishment was on its way. "You will save me. Nothing will get through you. I know that." She showed him her palm where once a Mark sat on the folds of skin. Against his will he found his own hand mirroring her action. He put his palm across from hers, close enough to feel the heat of her presence without contact.

The sound of a key in the lock on their door startled him out of the tender moment. Bianca put her fingers through his before he could lower his hand and they both watched Salome step into the room with a carton container with three cups. From beneath the bed a fat ginger streak shot across the room with a loud growling hiss.

"Archimedes, you bitchy little thing." The Persian crashed into Salome's shin and she ushered him, forcefully, off of her shiny boot. "Wait your turn."

Bianca kissed his knuckles and he forced down the shiver that ran through him.

"Am I interrupting something?" Salome asked when she was close enough to pass out coffee. Bianca took hers, finally relinquishing his hand.

"No, you got here early enough."

Salome gave him his cup, squinting a heavily make-upped eye. He raised his brows in question and reclaimed his seat on the edge of the bed. Watching the women share an embrace and impart a kiss to each of their cheeks, he let his eyes fall on the clock on the nightstand. 07:52.

On a whim, he reached for the Date/Time button in the upper right corner. 04:24 flashed in red and he narrowed his eyes on the numbers.

The sounds of the girls' voices faded into white noise. He felt as though he was forgetting something. Something important. Something he needed to know, and needed to know fast.

When he looked up at the girls, they were smiling, but all of their movements were made in slow motion. Salome's eyeroll took nearly a year to accomplish and Bianca's hair was still rippling through the motion of her thrown back head. No sound came from her wide open mouth.

Sunlight glinted off of her demonic fangs like the tips of needles.

A line of water droplets floated through midair and one by one they died on the wood floor.

Blinking, he turned to look at the door. Archimedes stood before it, his back arched and fur standing on end.

Tingling fear crept into him, chilling his blood to ice in his veins, turning his breath to vapor. When again his gaze fell upon the clock it read 08:03.

And the entire front door erupted off its hinges in a storm of fire and gurgling hellion screams.
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Re: Sublimation: Heat of the Moment

Post by Crispin » Thu Dec 06, 2018 1:50 am

He came awake with a surge of alarm, expecting the loft to be a wreck of debris and dust. But as he cast his gaze around, noting the pristine arrangement of furniture and knick knacks, even the artful disarray of spent clothing on the floor near the bed, his heart stuttered.

What in the Angel's name was going on?

Cris pushed his hair back from his brow, reached for the clock and pressed the Date/Time button. 04:24 flashed red. The apartment had erupted at 08:03 and it was now 07:27. He leaped from the bed and ran for the bathroom's partly open door. Steam was already wafting in a heady, flower scented cloud.

"Bianca?" He slammed the door open.

The bathroom was as small as the loft was spacious. Barely enough room for him to turn around in, it was next to impossible with two bodies. The mirror to his left, above the standing porcelain sink, was matte with fog. A curling iron and a white, wide toothed comb sat precariously on the sink's edge. A large, purple make-up bag was plopped on the back of the toilet, a small pile of cloth, presumably clothing, on the lid. The garish red lace of bra and panties stood out against the otherwise black abyss of the rest of the outfit.

"Bianca, we…" He brushed aside the shower curtains and froze. Water crashed into her hair and she massaged it into her scalp with dark fingernails. It ran down her white skin in rivulets, following every line, every smooth curve, peak and valley.

She blinked, her brow crumpling in confusion. Turning to face him, she wiped water from her long lashes. "Cris? What the hell are you doing, it's cold!"

"We have to go…"

"No, you have to go, you're letting all the heat out!" Bianca wrapped her arms fruitlessly around her naked body. He'd already seen the effect the rush of cold air had on her skin. Her full lips trembled, she gazed up at him darkly. "If you won't leave, get in here with me."

It only took him a moment to decide, but that moment seemed to last forever.

Did it really matter whether or not she was real?

Whether or not she was really alive?

Would anyone blame him for taking advantage of the fantasy world inside his own mind? He would never tell.

If this really was a dream, his dream, he had every right to be here. These dreams were like none he had ever had before. He felt as if he was alive here, completely in control of his mind, of his body…until she looked at him like that.

Tentatively, she reached for his face through the stream of scalding hot water and a rubber band broke inside of him. He gripped a hold of her wrist and drew it away through the air as he stepped over the edge of the tub into the shower. He felt her gasp underneath him as he pressed her back to the tile wall and put his mouth on hers. The water beating down on them was cold compared to the fire he tasted, felt all over him. Her wrist twisted in his grasp but she encouraged him closer with the arm snaking around his neck, her hand fisting in his hair.

He broke the kiss, taking in a dizzying breath. He tasted her and the city's water in his mouth. "I missed you…" he said against the shell of her ear. "You've no idea how much I've missed you…"

"Then show me," came the reply. Her fingertips worked into the wet collar of his shirt and pulled it aside. He felt her breath on his throat, hotter than steam, four pinpricks like the point of a knife grazing across his skin. Her teeth, threatening to bite down. She closed what distance was left between them when she wrapped one naked, wet leg around his hip and drew him in.

He splayed his fingers through hers, pressing her knuckles against the wall. The steam and the water was rising to drown him, a torrent of desire to keep her close breaking inside of him.

He did not know what time it was, but at the same time that did not matter either.

He wished on the Angel that he would never again open his eyes.
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Re: Sublimation: Heat of the Moment

Post by Crispin » Thu Dec 06, 2018 2:10 am

Eyes peeled open into the feather softness of a pillow, his mouth parted against it. An intense physical ecstasy suffused him and he groaned, feeling the shudder of pleasure slid down his spine, into his legs. The tips of his fingers and every other part of him in between.

He could not help it, even though he was completely alone in the bed.

His hand pulled from the wrinkled sheets and he covered his face, trying to catch his breath.

Across the way, he heard the sound of running water from the shower.

Why was it that every time he laid down, he woke up here? At this time, this exact place. No matter what he was doing the last time he'd been here?

What was it about this day, this morning that he needed to know beyond the obvious?

Sitting up he kept the covers over his lap and looked blearily over at the clock on the nightstand. 07:36. He knew if he pressed the button it would flash April twenty-fourth.

He knew what was coming in less than a half hour.

If he knew, and did not even attempt to change it…what could that mean?

Two minutes later, the phone rang and Salome's voice poured into the loft's newly found silence, jerking him hard from his reverie. He rushed to find suitable clothing, upsetting Archimedes where he laid on top of the dark jeans he'd worn the day before. The day before in this dream, he reminded himself.

But he remembered throwing them under the bed…

Cursing, he pushed all the details into the back of his mind and lurched for the phone. "Salome. Salome! It's Cris…"

"Cris? You're awake? Well fancy that…"

"Nevermind that. Stay where you are, we will come to you. Stay at the coffee shop, do not leave it. Understand?"

"Oookaaay. What's gotten into you?"

"Nothing, just do it."

He hit the end call button at the exact moment Bianca stepped out of the bathroom. "Was that Salome?"

"Yeah. Get dressed quick, she's meeting us for coffee."

He caught a glimpse of her wrinkled nose as he traded the flannel pajamas for the jeans in his hand. "Doesn't she usually bring it to us? What's wrong with her legs, are they broken?"

"I told her to."

He went to the wall and pulled up the large, Oriental scroll of artwork. Two seraph blades in their Marked sheaths hung in an X, waiting for him to take them. He strapped the belt around his waist.

"Weapons, Cris? Really?"

"We do not have the time for me put on gear."

"That's not what I mean."

He looked at the clock on the nightstand. 07:47. By this time, Salome had already come. She was waiting for them at the shop. "Bianca, please. I will explain everything once we meet up with Salome."

His patience was a thinly spun wire, pulled taut by her stare of incomprehension. She wanted him to explain it to her now. He knew that. But they were wasting precious time. And if he did not handle it this way, he knew that she would want to stay and fight.

"Fine," she said finally, giving in. "Give me a second." She disappeared into the bathroom and he ran his hands back through his hair.

He did not want to remember the events of this day. If he was honest with himself, most of it was a blur. Within the next ten minutes, the apartment had been a rush of screaming, tearing, ripping and shredding. And pain. He did not know what had been the cause of it until later, much later.

Too late.

The red numbers on the clock read 07:54.

There were eight minutes between right now and complete and utter devastation. A sudden thought lancing through him, he went for the bowl of keys and loose change sitting on another chrome table to the right of the locked door. His fingers closed around a slick, black device that was dead silent. His sensor. So far, there was no demonic activity save for the minute traces Bianca's presence regularly put into the air. He pocketed the device and unlocked the door, sticking his head out into the dusty hallway.

Silence greeted him like an uncomfortably awkward friend.

"You're paranoid, you know that Cris? When did you ever get so paranoid? I know I didn't teach you that." Bianca stalked past him, the needle thin heels of her boots clacking against the wood floor. She had knotted her hair in a wealthy spill at the back of her head, still damp tendrils of jet black framing exotic features. Simple black make-up turned her eyes the color of deadly frost, her mouth shining in its frown. Her black pants fit snugly and she wore an open knitted gray sweater over a simple black chemise. It slipped invitingly off one shoulder. Golden rings the size of bracelets swayed from her earlobes.

He stepped out after her and pulled the door tightly closed behind him. Instead of locking it with a key, he put the tip of his stele to the door and etched a burning Mark above the handle. "Let's go."

The silence of the hall was normal for this time of the morning, but right now everything seemed to be a threat. Cris put his arm around Bianca's shoulders and set the pace for the end of the corridor; brisk. Her boots clicked three times for each one of his paces.

"Do you miss Salome that much? I've never seen you so excited to go see her."

"Angel's mercy, I do not miss Salome." He herded her down the stairs, his grip on her shoulders tight to make sure she wouldn't lose her balance. Why had he not thought to tell her to put on shoes without a heel? "I just have a feeling. A strong one, that we are not safe here right now. I will explain it to you later."

"Not safe." Her dark brows climbed. "Demons?"

"I don't know."

"Cris, you're not exactly known for your psychic visions."

He came to a halt in sight of the building's revolving doors. The traffic on the road was deadlocked; yellow taxis, white delivery cars and black sedans creating colorful brickwork.

A line of men lurched unevenly across the road, headed in their direction. They stepped on top of the cars they came to, crawling, clamoring over each other. But the Mundane drivers did not seem to notice. One of the four held a chain leash in either hand, each collar wrapped around what used to be two dogs. Flesh hung from their muscles in bloody strips, leaving open sores festering with gangrene and pus.

The sensor in his pocket shrieked.

"Well…" said the voice at his side, equal parts concern and excitement. "Maybe Salome should hire you after all. You'd rake in the business."
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Re: Sublimation: Heat of the Moment

Post by Crispin » Thu Dec 06, 2018 2:31 am

A narrow hallway led from the revolving door through a corridor of apartments and finally to another utility door that opened into an alley. Once they reached it, he would figure out their next move. Cris seized Bianca's arm and pulled her back, already moving at a clipped pace toward it.

Bianca struggled in his grasp, straining to see around his shoulder to the entrance they were hurriedly leaving behind. "Forsaken?" she said, her voice marveled rather than concerned. "You can't be serious."

The line of men broke against the revolving door, each taking their turn to pull back and go at the glass with force.

"Unfortunately for us, I think they are."

"Cris, there's only four of them. We can use Alliance, and--" He cut off her words with a sharp left turn and pushed her back to the wall with enough force to elicit a squeak of surprise and indignation. He put his palm against her mouth to stifle any protest, the gloss on her lips sticking to his skin. Bianca gripped his wrist with both of her hands, her eyes over their combined fingers alight with a wild fire.

"Listen to me. I have already lived this day. I know what happens, on this day, three months ago. And on this day, you are kidnapped by these things." The thuds of bodies on glass punctuated his words. "They get the best of not only you and I, but of Salome as well. Because when I lived through it, we were all in the apartment."

The baying dogs rammed their shoulders into the glass, creating spiderweb fractures that grew with each impact.

"I do not know why I'm here. I don't know if this is real, if I am only dreaming or if I have truly been transported back here to save you. But whatever the case, I will not fight them until I have a plan and back-up. I will not let you be taken again."

The hallway erupted in a cacophony of screaming and broken glass.

"I won't lose you."

He didn't pause to determine the effect of his words but he could feel the boneless surrender in the arm he held and she kept pace with him much easier than before.

He hit the utility door with all of his weight and spilled out into the alley, throwing a wild look up to the deadlocked street. The smell of garbage and filthy animals hung like a cloud. The cars gave the Forsaken little resistance, but they were worth putting behind them, between himself and Bianca and their pursuers.

As they ran, he pulled his cell phone from the back pocket of his jeans with his other hand. He had not yet gotten it to his ear when he heard a shriek of surprise and pain and Bianca's arm in his hand lurched downward, nearly unbalancing them both. One of the two rotting dogs had lurched further ahead than the others and managed to ensnare one of Bianca's ankles in teeth that were coated with yellow green slime and dripped cloudy saliva.

It bit down, several of those teeth puncturing through the thin material of her boot. Crimson joined the drool oozing from its mouth as it began to violently whip its head back and forth. His name grating out of her mouth was like swallowing knives.

He dropped the cell phone to the ground with a clatter and came up short. Bianca's fingers dug firmly into his arm as, with a fierce cry, she spun her body and buried the heel of her other boot in the dog's eye socket. Yellow pus squelched from the fissure and the dog, snarling and keening in pain, retreated, cracking its jaws open from Bianca's leg.

Cris had his free hand wrapped tightly around one of the blades at his hip, gaze sweeping back and forth across the alley before them.

The second of the dogs rushed over the scrambling body of the first and launched itself into a violent leap, its mouth opening wider than it should have been able to. In one fluid motion, he pulled the blade free of its sheath and cut a swath through the air so swiftly the white-blue of the blade's edge left an after image.

Though a moment later he realized it was not because of his own skill.

Brilliant blue flames had joined his own attack from Bianca's outstretched palm, a wad of hellfire that burned cold and splashed into the dog's wide open mouth. As it swallowed fire, he spun the hilt of the blade in his hand and thrust it down like a stake through the dog's skull. Instead of convulsing in a heap of pain, the entire beast vanished in a rush of black smoke, leaving nothing behind.

As one, Cris and Bianca looked up to at those who were left.

The dog at their feet had begun to get its bearings and resumed a chainsaw's steady growl.

"Can you run?" he asked.

"I'd prefer not to," she answered.

"We're not staying to fight them, Bianca. We don't have the firepower."

She scoffed. "You're underestimating me. But, I'm not going to run because it hurts."

It did not show in her face, but he could tell she spoke the truth in the way her fingers clawed at his arm and chest for support. She tried to find her balance with an ankle that no longer worked, blood streaming like cherry syrup down black leather.

"We need to get to Salome."

The Forsaken, as one, lumbered forward. They were taking their time, he noticed.

Had they the intention, they would have the ability to rip them both to shreds within moments.

So why didn't they?

"The coffee shop is three blocks away. Tell me again why you told her to stay behind?"

"Because I did not think it would take me this long to convince you you were seriously in danger. I don't make these things up, Bianca."

Cerulean flame hissed to life across the palm of her free hand in response to the dog's snapping at their feet. He heard her gasp at his side when they hit the door of a taxi. All at once the city's sounds caught up with him. Blaring horns and Mundanes spitting cuss after cuss at each other, completely oblivious to the tension just outside their doors.

"On three, we run," he said. This lull in the battle could not last for long. "Use the cars. Whatever you do, get to Salome. They are after you, Bianca. Not me, do not forget that."

"Cris, don't be a hero."

"I'm not. I'm being what I should be."

The dog's legs had begun to snap, bone shifting beneath matted fur until each limb was the width and length of a tree branch. Ribs rippled, creating waves on the dogs flanks and its eyes rolled back, revealing bloodshot milk.

"I will let nothing get past me."

The dog before them lowered itself to the ground, unnaturally shifting muscle tensing in preparation for launch.

"Cris--"

"Three!" He ripped Bianca's hand free of his shirt and leaped in front of the dog at the same time it exploded into motion. "Go!"

The dog caught his blade in its teeth and bit down, but he did not surrender. The beast focused on what it had in its mouth. Each shake of its head added another coating of drool to the white-blue of the blade's edge and before long it began to to sputter and die. Out of the corner of his eye, the foursome of Forsaken had shifted their attention to something else. They hurried, hobbling unevenly, their hungry expressions of insanity drawing their faces tight.

He brought his knee up into the beast's ribcage. Over and over again, until he felt the crunch and splinter of bone. Unlike before however, that did not seem to deter it. His hands were coated in sickly green drool. He dared not let go with one hand to reach for another weapon or he would lose control of the blade.

He put all of his weight behind the blade and forced it back through the corners of the beast's mouth. With a sharp, downward cut, its entire lower jaw came loose. Reaffirming his grip, he swung the blade at an angle. Moments after it cut through the skin of its neck, the entire beast collapsed in a wealth of ash black smoke.

"CRIS!"

He turned on his heel.

Across the street, over the steadily inching cars blocking the path, Bianca stood with one hand on her shoulder. The other was in the air, waving frantically.

"Cris! Come on!"

She was supposed to have run to meet Salome, to tell her what was going on. But she was waiting. Waiting for him, urging him to flee with her.

He darted between two passing cars, the bugle of several horns drowning out all other noise. Even what Bianca was screaming at him.

The next moment seemed to take forever and to pass in an instant.

Through a lull in the noise, he heard her voice. Frantic and terrified. "BEHIND YOU!"

A hand much larger than a normal human's gripped him by the back of the neck. Fingers delved relentlessly into his throat.

The last thing he saw was the flare of an oncoming yellow taxi. The last thing he heard was the crunch of metal. Pain enveloped him, forcing him into its familiar clutches.

And his world went black.
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Re: Sublimation: Heat of the Moment

Post by Crispin » Thu Dec 06, 2018 2:35 am

He came awake abruptly, the waking world hitting him like a dark, heavy weight. Disoriented, he lay still on his right shoulder, staring into the dark of his rented room.

Breath grated in and out of his lungs, chest heaving until the muscles in his torso burned with the exertion. The unmistakable scents of gasoline and blood hung in the air.

The pain came next. Sudden and unforgiving, his body plunged into a world of ache so violent he fought against a startled groan. He gripped the edge of his bed and succeeded in lifting his weight only a few inches. Sweat drenched his neck, his shirt stuck to his back with it. His palms cold with it.

What was this? Surely, he simply thought he was still in the dream.

Gulping down air with a dry throat was difficult, but he managed. Teeth grit, he forced himself to fight against the phantom pains still tethering him to the bed.

Upright now, he felt more than saw the room spinning. His center wobbled to and fro, balance non-existent even before he got to his feet.

He found the corner of the desk with his left hand, then the back of the corresponding chair and with only those two handholds, hobbled like an old man into the open doorframe of the bathroom. A heavy hand threw the switch, illuminating the small room.

He fell into a lean against the sink and lifted his head.

What he saw terrified him.

Blood and glass turned his face into a grotesque work of art. A gash as long as his hand worked its way diagonally from his brow to his cheekbone, mercifully missing his eye, speckled with dirt and glittering glass crystals. A rivulet of red ran from his mouth to his chin. The left half of his neck was smeared in gore.

It was much the same all the way down his body. Lacerations just barely scabbed over oozed thick blood over black Marks. His shirt, once pristine was a matted mess of navy blue fabric, dirt and holes.

He looked as if he had just been grabbed and whipped headlong into a stationary vehicle.

With ice in his chest, he took hold of the collar of his shirt and pulled, unable to keep silent as cloth pulled away from broken skin. Sand and grit and further bits of glass rained down on his feet.

Panting, equally from terror and pain, he turned his back to the mirror and took in the sight of purple bruising around puckered, broken and bloodstained flesh. Marks crawled through each wound like black ivy, clinging to him just as much as the remnants of his dream.

Though he was not so sure any longer that what he was experiencing was not real.
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Re: Sublimation: Heat of the Moment

Post by Crispin » Thu Dec 06, 2018 2:56 am

07:38





Four times I have done this, and four times it is always the same. I open my eyes to this room and I smell these sheets; the mingling scents of skin and jasmine, leather and smoke, and sex. The sunlight streams in from all directions. The morning is gentle and soft, and normal.

I draw myself up and I look at the clock and I see 07:38 in disturbingly bright red. As I push the Date/Time button, 04:24 flashes to greet me.

The shower runs in the bathroom, steam roils from the partly open door like nothing ever happened.

And if I'm to be honest, nothing has. Not yet. This is the fifth time, and it is still early.

I roll over and pull a pair of jeans out from under the bed, still warm and covered in orange fur from Archimedes, and I stuff myself into them. I take my blades down from their hidden hook on the wall and reach the phone just as it begins to ring.

"Salome," I say into it.

"Cris! You're awake, well fancy that."

"Yes, yes. Skip all that. In fact, skip the coffee as well, just come straight here."

"You're kidding, right? Have you seen Bianca without her--what am I saying, you live with her. It's ugly."

I turn toward the bathroom door, where I've heard the water shut off. "Just get here as fast as you can. If you arrive before eight, bar the security doors leading into this building."

"Wait, wait, wait. Slow down there, Commander, there are a few things you aren't sharing with the troops."

"Is that Salome?" Bianca's voice comes from the open bathroom door. I lift a hand to her.

"There are Forsaken on their way here, get here as fast as you can."

"Forsaken? Wai--Cris. CRIS!!"

I hang up.

"What was that all about?"

Turning to face her, I'm struck once more by her very presence. She weilds her beauty like a knight would a sword; with an ease that's borne from years of practice. Every movement she makes is smooth, perfect, a work of art on display even as she pushes her wet hair back from her face with both hands.

With no make-up, her eyelashes are thin but long, framing arctic blue eyes so pale they're almost silver and they glint in the morning sunlight like icicles when she looks at me. The way her full mouth curves, she knows that I'm watching her, drawn to her and unable to look away.

She's always known.

I wet my lips, bringing myself back to reality. Or my unreality, my nightmare.

"And why do you have those out?" she asks, pointing a blood red nail at the blades in my hand. "I thought you'd hung those up for good."

"Bianca." I look at the clock. 07:48. Salome should be here any minute and it would certainly be easier to wait until they're both in the same room.

But if experience told me anything, wasting time would prove detrimental to our escape as a whole.

"There's something I have to tell you."
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Re: Sublimation: Heat of the Moment

Post by Crispin » Thu Dec 06, 2018 3:06 am

07:38

That should have worked.

Salome had come in time and barred each maintenance door into the building.

There must have been another way they had gotten in. The roof, a fire escape… I roll over and battle the desire to simply pull the blankets over my head and wait for chaos to find me.

Water pours down the tile walls in the shower, pitter-pattering like rain. The gentle vocal cadence of song, something that I'd never noticed before, rides on the waves of steam pouring from the bathroom. Bianca's voice. Weightless and bright as the sunshine, and unaware.

Unaware of what was coming, unaware of her fate.

The phone rings and jerks me from my reverie and, grudgingly, I drag myself from the bed. Bianca's voice echoes from the answering machine and I hear my own laughter behind the words as I pull my pants on. The man on tape is only seven months younger than I, but the absence of pain and shame in his voice is so discernible, I stomach a cringe.

The roof or the fire escape, I remind myself, as Salome leaves her message.

I head to the nearest window and push it as far open as its hinge allows. The city's air washes over me, an invisible cloud of smog, waste and take-out food. Of coffee and hotdogs and anger.

The fire escape is to my left.

I turn my head.
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Re: Sublimation: Heat of the Moment

Post by Crispin » Thu Dec 06, 2018 3:35 am

07:38

The goddamned fire escape.

They were watching us the entire time. That is how they knew every single one of my plans as I made them.

Leaping from the bed, I fall upon the phone and punch in Salome's number.

"Cris? Hey, I was about to call you."

"There's no time for that," I hiss into the phone. "There are Forsaken at the apartment and they are watching us. You need to get here as soon as you can."

"Forsaken? Cris, are you sure?"

I am tired of hearing that question, like I've not been trained as a Shadowhunter. Like I don't have the experience necessary to make these kinds of calls. Like I'm blind.

"Salome!"

"I'll be there as soon as I can…"

I hang up.

"Was that Salome?" comes the dreaded question from outside the bathroom.

There is no time, but I can't leave the loft without some form of weaponry. I say nothing to Bianca as she stands there, watching me with open confusion. I pull the wall scroll down from its hangers and tear my blades free.

"Cris!"

"There's no time to explain."

"Do you know how much that cost?" she shrieks at me as I take her by the arm and herd her toward the door. "What are you doing, I need to get dress--"

"Would you, please, for the Angel's sake, shut up for once?" I snap and I can feel the atmosphere between us change immediately. She looks at me with ice in her eyes and I do not care. I draw her from the loft ahead of me and slam the door closed. In all honesty, if I fail, what does it matter if I lock it or not?

True there is only one on the fire escape, clinging to the bricks like a rotting, pus riddled spider, but one Forsaken is enough for even me to deal with on my own.

I race with her down the hallway.

This had always been the difficult part. Getting Bianca clear of the building, meeting with reinforcements. There were myriad ways to escape, I just could not think of them for the grating fear that I did not want to admit was clutching my heart. And it certainly did not help matters to have her resisting me at every step.

Before we reach the window at the end of the hall, outside of which I know is another fire escape leading into a different alley, I turn to the last apartment on the left. The gold oval at eye level proclaims the apartment 434. The Jensenns. A Mundane couple in their mid fifties, very much in love with their mutual desire to live in Florida, they'd left the care of their plants and their skittish chihuahua Charles to Bianca. And they had not been home in over a week.

I draw up my leg and kick the door in. It burst open with a crunch, splinters of dust spraying the air. An incredibly high pitched yelp sounds and a streak of cream colored fur and gangly legs races across the floor into the kitchen.

I pull Bianca inside after me, stele already in my hand.

"Cris, I hope you planned on telling me what's so important that I have to be dragged all over creation naked."

I take her hand in mine and turn it over, exposing the silver outlines of Alliance on her palm. It had been her idea to use this in the first place, and I had brushed it off. I put the stele to her skin and she sucks in air through flared nostrils. As I draw, the lines glow the color of lightning.

"There's little time to explain, Bianca. But you have to know that I need you to trust me. Salome is on her way here and we will fight."

"Fight what?" Though I could hear a hint of curiosity in her voice. Suddenly, to her, the aspect of running about in a towel did not seem all that bad.

"Forsaken."

"Forsaken." She does not believe me, but she takes the stele and my hand, and Marks my palm. The familiar pain travels up my arm, delightfully sharp.

"Yes, I'm well aware that their existence is a crime against the Covenant. But crime or not, they are here, and they are coming for you."

"But wh--"

"I don't know. I don't know why, I don't know who. I do not know anything but what is happening now. What has been happening."

I don't even know what time it is, but we must be getting pretty close to the final seconds.

As if sensing my thoughts, the floor beneath us thunders. The baying of a dog heralds the stench not far behind. Garbage, sickly sweet sweat and blood.

I put my hand over her mouth and hide her smaller body against the wall with my own. Her eyes are wide above my fingers, straining to see out the wide open hole I've unwisely created in the doorway.

I count the bodies as they lumber past. Only two, lurching and groaning as if in great pain. Their tattered clothing resembles burlap, rough and stained brown by various bodily fluids. Their skin is bone white around Marks that look suspiciously like my own.

Another thunderous crack shakes the hallway and Bianca cringes beneath me. I murmur to her, comforting monosyllabic noises that make no sense. Whatever she'd thought before, she believes me now.

Forsaken are not known for their intelligence. After nearly a full minute, sounds of destruction still echoed in the corridor. They were clearly distracted with rendering our loft inside out in search of us. Trusting her not to ask questions, I take my hand from her mouth and step away from her, glancing down both directions of the corridor.

Only two Forsaken and one dog have made it inside. There is one, presumably, still watching the fire escape of our loft. That leaves one Forsaken and one dog yet unaccounted for if I'm to go by my previous experiences.

It was a chance we had to take. We could not hide here forever, lying in wait for Salome to join us. The yapping of the Jensenn's dog is sure to draw their attention at some point. Putting my finger to my lips, I give Bianca a pointed look and begin to pick my way silently through the destruction of the apartment door, over the threshold. She follows me with all the stealth afforded to her slim legs, walking mostly on the balls of her feet. Her free hand holds the knot of the towel around her body. Her wet hair smells of violets and jasmine, a pleasant change to the putrid slop streaking the floor.

I turn with her and we rush down the stairs. She holds onto me like I am the only thing keeping her upright. For all of her bravado, all of her armor, I know there is something inside of her that is afraid. She might be unwilling to show it and she might hide if from me every chance she gets, but it's moments like these that I cherish between us.

It's moments like these when I know she sees me.

"CRIS!" she shrieks suddenly at my side, grabbing my shirt instead, and we stumble the last few steps to the main foyer.

A lone figure limps toward us. Her right arm holds her left and it hangs dead against her side, dripping blood on the floor. Her left leg drags and every time she puts weight on it a spasm of pain shoots across her crimson streaked face.

The moment she looks up and sees us seems to take forever. She breathes noise of exaltation, of joy and fear, of agony.

"SALOME!" Bianca screams, blue fire filling the hollows of her palms. She scrambles free of me and I reach for her.

"Bianca, no!"

The foyer explodes in a cacophony of noise and broken glass. Salome goes rigid, her spine arching back on itself. She sags like a curtain shaken free of its rod into Bianca's arms and I can see the long, wooden handle of an axe protruding from the valley between her shoulderblades.

"Salome. Salome, get up. Get up, please! Salome please, we have to go. Come on!" Bianca's voice rises in hysteria the more she shakes our fallen friend. I lurch into motion at the exact moment the last Forsaken shows itself in the broken revolving door.

I meet its eyes and its split lips, leaking black fluid, spread into a malicious grin.

Blue flame and an inhuman screech fill my ears, followed by the vicious snarls of a dog.

My body stills. I can't draw a blade.

I can't even breathe.

Bianca's voice calling my name is the last thing I hear.
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Re: Sublimation: Heat of the Moment

Post by Crispin » Thu Dec 06, 2018 3:57 am

Breath painfully raced into his lungs, expelled on a cry borne from terror and confusion. He threw his arms out across the sides of the bed, cold wrinkly sheets sticking to his skin. Moonlight speared the dark in a gentle, blue bar.

Head turned to regard the hulking shadow of the desk just beneath his window. With his eyes on it, he spilled out of bed.

He could feel the bruises when he breathed, the aching throb of a twisted ankle when he tried to use it to walk. The scent of blood was all around him, mixing with the night air billowing in through the open window, making his stomach roil.

Tearing the open the desk drawer, he grabbed his phone with a shaking hand and scrolled through the contacts. He put it to his ear and rested his sweat slicked brow in his other, bloody palm.







"Cris. I'm sleeping."

CLICK.

The phone clattered to the floor at his knees.

The moisture on his face was no longer only blood and sweat.
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Re: Sublimation: Heat of the Moment

Post by Crispin » Thu Dec 06, 2018 4:29 am

Every night, I dream you're still here
The ghost by my side, so perfectly clear
When I awake, you'll disappear
Back to the shadows, with all I hold dear

I tried to protect you, I can't let you fade
But I feel you slipping, I feel you slipping away
Digital Daggers -- Still Here




07:38





Did that really just happen…?

Did I really get Salome killed…?

Sunlight streams into the loft like nothing's happened. Dust dances through the air. I put my hand over my face, afraid to open my eyes.

The shower slaps water against tile.

I hear Bianca's voice, gentle in its lilt.

The phone rings, and Salome's chipper greeting breaks the rest of the loft's silence.

By experience, it's somewhere after seven-forty.

If I do nothing…

Exhaling, I get out of bed.







07:38

I am beginning to see how they got the drop on us in the first place. We're vastly unprepared here. There are not nearly as many weapons around as I'd like.

But if I'm to be honest, would they do any good?

Half the time, it is only me who knows what is going on and willing to stop it.

The other half, we are too late.

To prevent Bianca from being taken, I am killing us all.







07:38

Over and over again.

Why am I brought back here? To this moment, where I have no time to do anything.

It does not matter how much I fight, or how much I will it. Seven thirty-eight are the numbers that I will see.

Ten more minutes. Even five would have helped.







07:38



Is there something that I'm missing? Something that I cannot learn in any other way but suffering through this torture, night after night?

I have lived through it legitimately once, and I was not as useless then as I am now… Even with the knowledge that I have, through of all these repetitions, it is not enough.

It will never be enough…







07:38



It is like my dreams don't know or do not care that I think about Bianca every minute of every day when I am awake. They simply wish to allow me the illusion of free will. Of power, only to take it away from me.

I was never strong enough for something like this…







07:38



I am exhausted.



07:38



There's nothing left for me to try.



07:38



I can't do this anymore…

07:38





I can't…

07:38



I…



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Re: Sublimation: Heat of the Moment

Post by Crispin » Thu Dec 06, 2018 4:33 am

07:38



I've given up. What difference does it make if I race to get myself out of this bed or stay and bask in the comfort of these few precious moments with her, real, in my arms again before all Hell breaks loose?

There is no difference.

I cannot change what has already happened.

Nothing I dream will change my life. Nothing I dream will bring her back.

And so I choose once more to be the coward. I choose these moments to cover wounds only I can see, but that pain me every day.

I'm prepared for this agony.

I will not fight it.

I have nothing left inside of me to fight it with.

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Re: Sublimation: Heat of the Moment

Post by Crispin » Sun Dec 09, 2018 9:32 pm

Early morning sunlight streamed in through the loft's tall windows, bars of white gold radiance, soft in their silence as they warmed the pale, hardwood floor. Dust motes danced, floated gracefully like snowflakes to land invisibly wherever they fell.

Water streamed steadily from the shower, hot lilac and jasmine joining the smoke and metal scented breeze coming in from the open windows. A voice rose higher than the water's steady beat, smooth and full of energy, unintelligible words hidden by distance and the half closed bathroom door.

A phone rang in the distance, the xylophone melody repeating itself one and a half more times before the recorded message kicked in.

"Hey, you've reached Bianca and Cris. We're either not here or screening our calls because we hate you. Or we're having sex." Laughter rang in the background of the recording, and when the woman's voice resumed, she was speaking through a smile. "Leave what you need, we'll probably get back to you at some point. Bye!"

And then, "Heeey, it's Salome. Bianca, I know you're awake at least. Cris, get up, you sleep too much. I'm bringing coffee in about twenty. Make sure you're presentable and not joined at the you-know." Click.

"Was that Salome?" called the songstress from the bathroom. But receiving no answer, she poked her damp, dark head out beyond the door. A gaze the exact color and warmth of an iceberg cut to the bed and the sleeping male body sprawled there. With an exasperated sigh, Bianca knotted a towel around herself and padded the distance to the phone. She pushed the message button with a bloody red nail, but only listened to a few words before she stabbed delete with her thumb.

"Yeah, yeah."

Turning once more to face the bed, she swept water droplets back into her hairline. The clock on the nightstand read 07:41. A smile spread full on her lips, dangerous in its width and implication. She tickled the tip of her tongue along one sharply pointed tooth and tiptoed her way to the bed. She put her hands and knees into the mattress, carefully picking around the lanky limbs beneath the covers. Dark hair, mussed by sleep, hid the man's brow and temple, caught in the long sweep of eyelashes so full that had she not known him, she would have killed him for.

"Criiisss…" She slid her fingers into his hair and his dark brow twitched. His hand clenched tightly around one of the three pillows beneath his head, the lines of muscle in his forearm rippling beneath pale skin and the black, sweeping Marks that made up nearly all of him. "Cris, I know you can hear me. We've got a little time before Salome gets here." He groaned, and she sneered.

He was never a morning person. Were she to let him, he would not wake up until well past eleven-thirty.

She scraped her nails along his scalp, relishing the appearance of goosebumps rising on his neck and down his arm. She brought her hand down; down over his shoulder blade, fingertips picking out each rib with a firm administration of pressure until she found his waist. The narrow line of his hip. His stomach was warm from the blankets and his clothes, skin smooth, delicious she knew from experience, even more so when he bled. She'd only managed the first knuckle beneath the band of his pants when he rolled to his back, allowing her easy access to her favorite toy.

"Must you?" he asked, though he did so through a smile, lazy with drowsiness. Easy. Sexy.

She straddled him without invitation, his warmth under her naked body a pleasant distraction. She put her hands on his shoulders and he lifted the palm shielding his eyes.

"Oh, I must. You looked so helpless, I couldn't resist."

He laughed and she felt it in her palms, vibrating her body.

"You said we'd some time?"

She leaned down upon him until there was no illusion of distance between their bodies. His eyes, usually so pale a green, were dark now with desire, like a fire burning low in a hearth. "I'd always make time for you." She slid her fingertips into the collar of his shirt and pulled it roughly aside, exposing more of his throat. The curling black line facing her thumped along with his racing pulse. She felt his hand on her hip and as she put her mouth on his collarbone, his mounting anticipation greeted her between her legs.

The sound of a key in the lock made him gasp against her and she growled into him. A feline yowl preceded Salome's entrance.

"Archimedes, you bitchy little thing." Heels clacked, hard on wood, and she brought the carton holder of three coffees further into the loft. "Oh, God. Please tell me you're not doing what I think you're doing."

"Not yet, thanks to you. Why don't you just be quiet and sit in a corner," Bianca said, drawing herself upright. Out of corner of her eye, she watched Cris once more cover his face with his hand. "It's not like we haven't let you watch before."

"By the Angel…"

"Yeah, by the freaking Angel. Take your damn coffee. That's gross."

With a drawn out sigh, like a child finally brought around to the idea of sleep, she climbed off of him like she hadn't brought him to a brink of physical anxiety and took the coffee out of Salome's outstretched hand. She stood on her tiptoes to press her cheek to Salome's, who did the same.

"Hey there, sleepyhead," Salome greeted Cris with a lopsided smile on her matte lips. "Your wake-up tree is showing." She offered him a cup that he snatched out of her grip with one hand as he threw the blankets over his lap.

"Mmm, dark chocolate," Bianca purred, lifting her coffee with both hands.

Frowning, Cris put his nose to the mouth of the travel lid and inhaled. The scents of hot pomegranate and honey reached him and he smiled.

"You thought I brought you coffee, didn't you?" Salome asked, lounging on the foot of the bed.

"For a moment," he answered. "Though I've done nothing to you yet that warrants poisoning."

"Yet's the keyword, Nephilim."

Chuckling, he slurped his tea, wincing as it burned its way down his throat.

"I'll get dressed," Bianca announced, chipper from the slurps of coffee she'd taken. "Then we'll go."

Salome shrugged.

Cris brought the tea to his mouth for another sip.

On the nightstand, the red numbers switched from 08:01 to 08:02.

Three seconds later, the window next to Bianca and the front door of the loft imploded with the sounds of breaking glass, shrieking metal and inhuman wails of impending destruction.
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Re: Sublimation: Heat of the Moment

Post by Crispin » Sun Dec 09, 2018 11:56 pm

Bianca stripped the lid off of her coffee and whipped the piping hot liquid in an arc straight into the Forsaken's sweaty face. Moaning in pain and confusion, it veered off course from her and hit the wall, trying to clean its eyes on the broken plaster with no avail.

Salome leaped from her seat, her black eyes lit by a wild fire. When she threw out her hand, the small metal table supporting the phone jerked as if on strings and sailed into the Forsaken ripping its way through the door.

Cris lurched from beneath the blankets and in the single moment that he had his back turned, he heard a feminine shriek of rage and pain. Stomaching the urge to look back, knowing that would not help, he wrenched the Oriental scroll hanging from the wall and left it in tatters at his feet. He had only time to tear the X of blades down from their nails when a shadow loomed before him on the wall. He threw himself to the ground and an arm the size of a young tree sailed over his head. The fist broke effortlessly into the drywall, bits and pieces rained down on him as he pulled one blade free.

"Re'nael," he ordered. On command, the blade gleamed as hot as a star, wicked in its brightness. Turning the blade over in his hand, he shoved it backward and at an upward angle into the Forsaken's knee boxing him in. The seraph blade sank through rotting flesh like a hot knife through butter, dirty blood spurting in an arc to stain the wood floor. Cris hammered his palm against the blade's hilt, evoking a bestial scream from the Forsaken. Putting all of his weight behind the blade, he shot up from the ground and ripped it free. Muscle pulled from bone with the sound of tearing meat.

He put his knee on the sheath of his other blade and pulled it free.

Time seemed to slow.

Beyond the Forsaken in front of him, Bianca and Salome had been split from each other, the latter cornered by the refrigerator with an array of glinting knives hovering before her, pointing at an overly stocky rottweiler.

Bianca drew a complicated picture in the air with both hands, her index and middle fingers held tightly together. Blue fire lingered like a ghost, glittering in a large shield before her. When she put her palms to it, the shield formed a wad of fire the size of a boulder and swept up into the chest of the Forsaken driving her back, knocking it completely off of its feet. She threw a look to Salome and began to rush to her aid.

Cris managed to put one foot beneath him, then the other. The Forsaken swung again, this time wildly, its balance awkward because of its newly ruined knee. He leaped back, slicing the glowing blade down its arm from elbow to wrist, opening another waterfall of crimson to drip freely on the floor.

The loft was a chaos of noise. Bellows from the Forsaken and baying from the dog. He could not hear his own thoughts, but thoughts were never needed in battle. Not unless they were being put to one's strategy.

There was a moment when all movement ceased.

He met the Forsaken's dead eyes, the scars marring its face, and lifted one blade to fill the distance between them. The other, he held at the ready, out at his side. Blood sizzled along its glowing hilt, smelling of burned iron and smoke.

The sound of a whimpering dog was abruptly cut off from the corner.

And the Forsaken lunged.

He ducked beneath the arms reaching for his throat and stabbed the entirety of one blade through its navel. Its momentum still carried it forward and they crashed together, a mixture of sweat and rot, peeling skin and clean pajamas. Cris hit the ground beneath the Forsaken and he felt something give in his arm. Pain lanced up into his shoulder with the swiftness and force of a lightning strike, growing with each moment the Forsaken had its weight on him.

He struggled to see through the fall of matted hair, swallowing a cry with each struggle the Forsaken made around his blade. Turning his other hand, one last strike of the glowing blade beneath the Forsaken's arm, sideways through his ribs, ceased its efforts forever.

Silence rang somehow loudly in the loft, shattered by his name.

"Cris!"

Groaning, he wrenched one blade free and felt the spill of blood run down his side. Footsteps pounded the floor and suddenly he had help getting the body off of him. The shout he'd been holding back finally came free as his hand was forced free of the blade.

"Your stele," Bianca's voice coldly cut through his pain. Her hands cool on his face, wiping away the grime and the sweat, bringing his attention back to her. "Where is it?"

"I…" He sat up with her assistance, shaking the last echoes of pain and confusion from his mind.

"I've got it," Salome said suddenly, kneeling down to offer it to him. The scent of blood was everywhere, everyone's breathing raced. "What the hell was that?"

Bianca frowned, an expression rarely found on her face.

Taking his stele, Cris turned the point inward to the inside of his left forearm and Marked an iratze there. Immediately, the pain receded.

"Whatever it was, we are vulnerable here."

"Cris, do you know what those were?" Salome hissed.

"I do. But worrying about it isn't going to help us now. We can do that later."

"And I still need to put some clothes on," Bianca added, sullenly.

Cris flexed his hand, the small bone in his arm ached, but that would fade soon. It allowed him movement. He got to his feet at the same time Bianca did, his head full. The existence of Forsaken were against the Covenant, their creation was a serious crime. This had not been done since Valentine's rampage, at least as far as he had heard. Much of his time was not spent with his own kind.

"Who were they after?" Salome asked him. They both watched Bianca disappear into the bathroom, stepping over the other Forsaken corpse. It was mangled from flame, leaking blood and pus onto the floor.

"I don't know," his answer came low and uncertain. He cut a glance to the dead body behind him. "Their intention seemed to be to split us up, but that could mean they were after nothing but all of our deaths." He slid his blades along the outside of his pants to clean them and finding their sheaths, slid them home.

"But that could mean anything." Frustration and fear took its toll on Salome's face. It made her look young, her black eyes wide as they flicked to each of the loft's windows like she expected more to come. She rang her hands, then forced herself to stop, putting her clawed fists into the pockets of her coat. "I know Bianca's pissed some people off, but this? This is too much, even for the kind of people she crosses."

"Then stop thinking about it." Blades in hand, Cris walked through the destruction of his home to the gaping hole that had been the door. His own unease made it hard to breathe. Her questions came like bullets, his own anxieties vocalized. But he did not want to hear them. He was not afraid of death. It happened so much, it was more like a salesman; hellbent on making him pay for something he did not want.

He put his hand on the broken doorframe and stuck his head out into the hallway. "We will get dressed and head somewhere safer. And then we--"

His breath was forced from his lungs. Blood gurgled in his throat, pouring from his mouth, open in surprise. The wooden handle of an axe stuck out sideways from the center of his chest. A white, sweaty hand gripped it. He sagged when he it was wrenched free and could do nothing about the fist barreling itself into his stomach. Forced back off his feet, through the air he flew until he crashed into something fleshy.

Salome.

She screamed, screamed at the top of her lungs for Bianca. From the edges of his vision, a door opened and a woman spilled out. She wore nothing but a coal grey shirt that hung off her shoulder, and black underwear. Her wet hair was caught up in a clip, spilling free at the back of her head. She took one look in their direction, and her eyes gaped wide, then turned to the figures lumbering into the loft.

One Forsaken, then two. A third with a massive hand wrapped around the leash of another dog lurched in their direction. The dog snarled and spat, growling until it was hit with an invisible force that rent it silent with a crack of bone.

He could not see but felt her body ripped out from beneath him. Her shriek hit the air like shattered glass and one more crash later, she went quiet.

"Salome!!" Bianca's voice cut through his pain.

Three Forsaken closed in, backing her into a corner.

Blue fire lit up in her hands. She met his eyes defiantly through a gap in the creature's reaching arms.

He reached for her, choking on her name.

His world tipped upside down, and went white.
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