“Repeat that again,” Sister Michael said.
“Erin and James were sucking each other’s faces,” Michelle said.
“I meant the part about Kathy McGuire showing up outside the school,” Sister Michael said.
“We didn’t see her, but Orla saw her aura, or traces of it?” Clare said.
“Okay, but seriously, I think they might be possessed,” Michelle said, jabbing a thumb at Erin and James.
“Do you know how recently she was here?” Sister Michael said to Orla. “An hour ago? A half hour? 10 minutes?”
“I mean, you should have seen it,” Michelle said. “I really thinking they were trying to eat each other’s faces. Is there a demon that does that?”
“Right,” Sister Michael said, slamming her hands on her desk. “Miss Mallon, I get that you’re clearly going through something, but I need you to shove those feelings deep down inside where they can fester into what I can only assume will be a psychological problem for a therapist.”
“Mx. McCool, how recently was Kathy here?”
“I think 10 minutes?” Orla said.
“Right,” Sister Michael said. “Miss Quinn, you and I are going to see Peter.”
Erin felt her stomach twist.
“Why now?” Clare said.
“Before, I thought being near the man who nearly murdered her would unnerve Miss Quinn at a time when she needed her wits about her.”
“You were protecting me?” Erin said, surprised.
“I prefer to think of it as keeping you on your mission objective,” Sister Michael said. “And now that Kathy McGuire has shown up again in Derry, it’s time for Miss Quinn to talk with Peter. I made some truth potion and asked him every question I could think of, but I still wasn’t prepared for Kathy to show up in Derry. Maybe if you talk with him, he’ll reveal something more.”
“Like Silence of the Lambs,” Michelle whispered.
“Oh Jesus,” Sister Michael said, rubbing her temples.
“I’m coming too,” James said.
“Aye, like you’ll be able to stop him if Sister Michael and a trained Slayer can’t?” Michelle said.
“For emotional support,” James said.
“Jesus,” Michelle said, rolling her eyes. “Is this what you’re going to be like all the time?”
“Supportive of someone’s feelings?” James said.
“I’m gonna boke,” Michelle muttered. “Well, if he gets to come, I want to come too.”
“This is NOT a group event,” Sister Michael said. “It will be me, Miss Quinn, and no one else.”
“Actually Orla might be useful,” Clare said. “Since they’re psychic and all.”
Sister Michael sighed, rubbing her temples. After she minute she looked at them. “Well, come on then.”
“Grand,” Michelle said, a devious smile on her face.
As a Slayer, Erin was no stranger to dark, disturbing places. Moldy cellars, tunnels crawling with bats, the sewers, for feck’s sake. But the graveyard underneath Derry was the place that scared her the most.
James held been held hostage here. She had died here.
Kathy had betrayed them here.
“Is it just me, or did this place get creepier?” James said.
“Not just you,” Erin said. James took her hand, and gave it a squeeze. She felt her cheeks warm, giving him a shy look.
The moment was ruined by Michelle screaming in the background. “Fuck, fuck, fuck!”
Erin turned around, watching as Michelle slowly floated to the ground. Behind her, Clare was making rapid arm motions like she was trying to swim through the air, and Orla was simply stretched out, enjoying themself.
“It’s okay,” James said. “The levitation spell won’t let you fall.”
“I…don’t…give a fuck,” Michelle growled. She was clawing the air, eyes fixed on the ground.
“What if it wears off?” Clare stammered.
“Honestly,” Sister Michael said, drifting gracefully to the ground, “you’ve been through this before.”
“And I still fucking hate it,” Michelle said. She grabbed a tombstone, pulling herself to the ground.
“I always wondered how you managed to get down here before,” Erin said.
“Yeah, you’re welcome,” Clare screeched. She finally made her way to the ground, waving her arms and legs frantically.
“All right,” Sister Michael said. “Let’s get going.” She set off through the graveyard.
“Right,” Erin said. “Orla, stop playing around!” Orla was still in the air, spinning over and over in a ball.
Orla pouted, but floated to the ground. “Can I punch Peter if he tries to bite you?” they asked.
“If he tries to bite her, you can hit him over the head with a tombstone,” Michelle said.
“Good,” Orla beamed, linking their arm through Erin’s.
Erin had to give it to Sister Michael – she certainly had a sense of irony.
Peter had been locked in the same mausoleum James had been kept in. A silver chain kept the cage door closed, and Erin felt that odd, staticky sensation she always did around a spell, reminding her of the air before a thunderstorm.
“Capture spell?” she said.
“Not its name, but close enough,” Sister Michael said. “Spell reinforces the structure. He’d have an easier time trying to break through a steel wall.”
They walked up to the mausoleum, Erin’s stomach twisting into a knot as a she passed the bloodstained ground. Her blood, blood that had been spilled weeks ago but still somehow had left a mark. She swallowed hard, concentrating instead on the captured vampire.
“Miss Quinn,” Peter said. “This is a surprise.” He leaned back in his chair, lacing his fingers together.
“Christ,” Michelle said, “are you trying to be a Bond villain?”
Peter dropped his hands, glaring at her. He snarled, revealing his fangs. Orla snarled back, and Sister Michael had to restrain Michelle from throwing a vial of holy water.
“Peter,” Sister Michael said. “Kathy McGuire is back in town. We need to talk.”
“I’m not sure if I want to talk,” Peter said, looking away.
“Like hell you don’t, what the fuck else are you going to do?” Michelle snapped.
“There’s some interesting mold growing on the walls,” Orla said.
Peter tapped his foot, looking around. He was clearly irritated, knowing he would eventually talk, but not wanting to give a bunch of 16 year old girls the upper hand. Finally he sighed, rolling his eyes.
“It started with a dead Slayer,” Peter said.
James hand tightened on Erin’s.
“The last Slayer had the misfortune to walk into a vampire nest,” Peter said. “She was ripped to pieces, of course.”
Erin’s heart sped up. Behind her, Sister Michael didn’t so much as twitch, but Erin knew she just as tense. This story sounded familiar.
“Unfortunately, the vampires were killed afterwards in revenge, but one of them managed to escape.” Peter leaned back in his chair. “After a little while, word went around the vampire community that a new Slayer had been found. This vampire went to Northern Ireland, where he heard the next Slayer was. Once there, he told the vampires that they had to get their hands on the Slayer.”
See, he had noticed that back in France, after…dealing with the last Slayer, that he had enhanced strength and speed. Vampires are already more strong and fast than a human, but when he consumed a Slayer’s blood, he was even more powerful than before.”
So he gathered his fellow vampires together, telling them of what they could gain if they captured a Slayer: to be stronger than ever before and with no Slayer to stop them. They could hold the Slayer captive, drinking her blood to gain strength.”
“And then you stuck your nose in it,” Michelle said.
“In my search for a god, I wandered off the beaten path. And after you exposed the existence of vampires to me - ”
“You mean after a vampire attacked us and you ran away?” Michelle said.
“I went in search of more information about mythical creatures,” Peter said, glaring at Michelle. “I stumbled into vampires, and was turned. The best thing that ever happened in my miserable life.”
“And death, I guess?” Clare said. “You know, cause you’re technically dead now…” She trailed off as Peter glared at her too.
“Once I was changed, the vampires let me know it wasn’t just a benevolent gesture. An exchange had to be made. I lived in Derry, had interacted with the Slayer. She knew me, trusted me.”
“Eh,” Erin said.
“’Trust’ is a strong word,” Clare said.
“’Put up with’ is more accurate,” Sister Michael muttered.
“I was to get close to her, and when the time was right, attack,” Peter said.
“And you thought the best time to do that was five seconds after you saw us again, did you?” Michelle said. “You didn’t wait to start throwing punches.”
Peter hissed at Michelle again. Orla hissed back again. Sister Michael rubbed her temples.
“Just finish the story,” she said.
“I was to attack and incapacitate the Slayer, and bring her to a waiting nest of vampires. We would imprison her in a secret location, and drink her blood. We could live in a world even stronger than before, with no Slayer to stop us.”
Erin knew all about his plan, but it still chilled her blood to hear it again.
“How’d you get my mum get involved?” James asked quietly.
Peter grinned, finally starting to enjoy himself.
“As you know, the first kidnap attempt did not go well, due to certain…interference,” Peter said, glaring at Michelle, who glared right back. “And I tried again on Prom Night.” He sighed. “Where there was more interference.”
Orla gave James a thumbs up.
“I noticed in both fights that the Slayer had been particularly protective of James. And he’d been protective of her. Speaking of,” he said, nodding to Erin and James’ clasped hands, “are you two finally dating?”
“NO,” Michelle said.
“We…haven’t really talked about it,” Erin said, looking at James (who looked back, equally confused).
“Their auras are pretty together,” Orla said.
“Good for you two,” Peter said. “Anyways, I knew I’d found the Slayer’s weak spot. And because word gets around fast in this town, I already knew quite bit about James. Including the fact that he’d been abandoned by his mother.”
Erin squeezed James’ hand.
“So I popped around to London and told Kathy everything,” Peter said.
“Except you twisted the details,” Erin said, remembering how Kathy thought Slayers were murderers, how she was “helping” Father Peter.
Peter shrugged. “A bit. But honestly, it didn’t take much to get her on my side. All I had to do was dangle the possibility of eternal life in front of her. Didn’t even mind we’d have to kidnap you,” he said, nodding to James.
“We all know she’s a shit mom, get on with it,” Michelle said. She looked angrier than before, and Erin remembered how furious she had been when Peter had kidnapped James.
James’ grip on Erin’s handed tightened, and her heart hurt. She wanted to do something, comfort him, but she didn’t want to do anything in front of Peter.
“’Course, she wasn’t that dedicated to the cause, since she left the second things got tough.”
“You mean after you stabbed Erin?” Clare said.
“It wasn’t meant to be in the chest,” Peter said. “Just a little wound to the shoulder, something to throw her off balance.”
“I mean, you shouldn’t be stabbing her AT ALL,” Clare said.
“What’s going to happen to my mum?” James asked quietly.
“Well, she made a deal with vampires,” Peter said. “Just because I’m locked up in here doesn’t mean the rest of the vampires will give up. And they won’t be happy that she ran away instead of continuing to capture you.”
“Is that why she came back?” Erin said. “To try and grab me?”
Peter shrugged. “Maybe. She’s in a desperate spot – if the vampires find her, they’ll kill her for letting them down.”
“And she’s not exactly welcome here,” Michelle muttered.
“She’s got nowhere to go,” Peter said. “And desperate people make desperate decisions.” He smiling, showing his fangs. “I can’t wait to see what happens next.”