Prompt: STORY DICE! Either: Natalie and Janette in a hostage situation
(they can't let the vampire/s take out the hostage-takers for whatever
reason), so it's up to Nat and Janette (who have a grudging respect for
one another, despite their different agendas regarding Nick) to save
themselves... OR: Nat and Janette are trapped in an elevator/freezer/bank
vault together during a robbery/power outage/whatever. Feel free to
include storytelling/truth or dare/bonding during the crisis... :-)
Length: 1969 words
Rating: PG-13 for violence and language
Summary: Natalie is drinking at the Raven when thugs arrive with demands. Janette and Natalie work together to take care of the situation.
Dr. Natalie Lambert had had the sort of evening that left her unusually unable to give a damn.
The day had started out promisingly, one of her rare shifts off. If she hadn’t been dumb enough to stop by to grab her Walkman, it might have remained promising. But no. There was this one more thing to do, a bit of paperwork, a quick, “we’re really overloaded, could you just do this one before you leave, we’ll add in overtime,” and a moment of weakness she truly regretted.
The girl had been sixteen. Home alone. Neighbor found her in the closed garage in her new-to-her, sweet sixteen car. Cherry red blood suggested carbon monoxide poisoning, confirmed by blood-work. The blood-work showed one other thing--the reason for the suicide. Elevated human chorionic gonadotropin. Pregnancy. Not far enough to show, just far enough to know.
Natalie closed her eyes and slammed back a swallow of the bourbon sitting next to her hand.
Even that would have been...well, not okay, but bearable. But the girl’s mom had gotten off shift from her emergency department job. Damned if she didn’t know how to find the morgue. She’d still been in shock. Her only daughter, how could this have happened, didn’t she think her mother would understand, they just BOUGHT her the car...Natalie gestured with her empty glass. The bartender filled it warily. After the first, he’d clearly expected her to stop. Or hoped. Too bad she seemed to have her endurance on tonight.
She swung one foot and eyed the bar owner as the dark-haired woman smiled at an older man, patted his hand, and said a quick aside to one of her people. Nick would swallow his own fangs if he realized she was at the Raven without him. She was tired, she wanted to drink enough so she take a cab home to bed where she could try to sleep, and she was a big girl. Nick would live. She blew strands of hair from her face with a quick breath. He’d live longer, if he avoided making overprotective remarks.
* * *
For her part, Janette Du Charme had hardly had a better night. Her crush of customers was not entirely welcome, for one.
She’d had an earlier visitor. A young woman, seventeen perhaps. The blonde had the wild grace of youth and the skittishness of a stray kitten. Janette had been trying to lure her in for a few weeks. If nothing else, she could see that the girl ate a decent meal. She might even manage to find the name of the pimp beating her. Janette saw few obvious bruises, but the trace scent of blood was unmistakable. The French woman had no desire to tolerate such behavior in her territory if she could manage otherwise.
The child had been shaking with fear, and Janette had ended up using actual compulsion to acquire a name and story. Annie had been on the streets for a few months, but her pimp was not her current problem. Her current problem was having been close enough to a soured drug deal that several parties thought she’d hidden her very own stash. Given her current state of withdrawal, not exactly the case. Of course, convincing those hunting down the drugs they’d been too incompetent to retrieve was another matter.
She’d hidden the child in the back rooms at the Raven. Tomorrow night, they’d close for posted repairs while she figured out a way to remove the trouble following her young guest.
For now, she had another guest with whom to deal--Nick’s young doctor. Dr. Lambert seemed intent on drinking herself dull. Probably not a long journey, given the pedanticism of most of that profession.
She wondered idly what would be most irritating. Calling Nicholas to retrieve her and tolerating his suspicion that someone here had intended to eat Dr. Lambert? She snorted delicately at the idea. If she were willing to put up with the investigation spurred by a city medical examiner disappearing at her establishment, she could remove Natalie herself, but that was hardly an option. She had no immediate plans to leave the Raven.
She could send an escort. She examined the room. Provided she hadn’t a dearth of the usual coterie. This close to closing and that much nearer to dawn, most had found destinations elsewhere. She sighed to herself. It might not have been wise to trust the younger ones to not get hungry on the way, in any case.
Call Detective Schanke and tell him his colleague was drinking herself under the table? She shuddered. The smell of souvlaki would linger for hours.
She placed a hold on the decision in favor of ushering the last few patrons out before attending to Natalie Lambert. She had just started to tell Miklos to stop serving when the door was flung open.
She smiled professionally at the three men entering. “I’m sorry, sirs, but we were just closing.”
The center-most man smiled back at her. “And now you’re not.” He showed her the gun he’d concealed, drawn, inside his coat flap.
* * *
Janette cursed to herself in French. She hadn’t had the skylight cover closed for the morning yet. And those men had positioned themselves exactly as she wished they hadn’t. Bar on one side, with vampires. Thugs, controls for the skylight, and aisle to the back rooms on the other side. Sunlight in the middle.
Were she alone, she could have kept well enough to the dark patches. Guns didn’t threaten her. They did, however, threaten others still in the bar. She could move quickly enough to reach the men but not to neutralize all three. And they all had weapons drawn and aimed.
“We’re lookin’ for somebody. We know she came in here, and we just want to talk to her. Blonde kid, kind of skinny.” His hand came up to roughly Annie’s height. “We’ll have ourselves a quick look-see, and everyone here will be fine.” He pointed one man to the back, but the other two kept their firearms trained more professionally than made Janette comfortable.
She shifted toward the wall, hoping to begin a slow drift over, but the lead man shook his head at her. She stopped. His follower had a gun trained on Natalie Lambert.
* * *
Janette listened to the man as he searched. She listened to his finding Annie. She listened to him question and then beat her.
Her eyes stayed focused on the other two men.
Neither had sense enough to be afraid. Yet. She positioned herself as closely to the men as dawn allowed. She signaled Miklos, who had begun creeping along one wall. He blurred with speed, heading for the door and drawing fire away from Natalie. Both fired. Both hit him. He smiled and hissed at them.
“What the hell!” One man backed away from the door. Closer to Janette. She smiled.
“Rick! Stand your ground!”
“Charlie, what the hell is he!”
“Nothing you can’t deal with. Come on, man. I got your back. I always got your back.”
The other man ran out, dragging Annie. Janette glared at him, fangs bared.
Charlie grabbed Annie and shook her by one arm. The girl screamed, but he yelled loudly enough to be heard over her cries. “I don’t need her that bad! If you don’t let us out, we’ll kill her right here!”
Janette smiled coldly. “If you do that, I promise you, not one of you will even make it to the door. So, gentlemen, we are at an impasse.” Charlie frowned at her. She sighed and clarified. “We are both stuck.”
He let Annie go with a contemptuous gesture that still kept her in easy reach of him. The girl curled her right arm around her ribs and hunched over. Her left arm had a lack of motion that betokened a potential break, but the skin was intact. Natalie eyed her. Annie had started a slow descent to the floor, not quite a collapse. Janette made a convulsive movement as if to catch her, touched sun, and recoiled.
Natalie stepped forward, steadied by adrenalin and the need to do something. “I can help. I’m a doctor.” She eased into the full glare of sun. “I’m not one of them.”
Charlie looked at his prisoner and swore. “Don’t you fucking die on me now, bitch.” He glared at Natalie. “Fine. But if you mess with me--” He raised the gun.
Janette watched, a clear warning in her eyes for Natalie. She shook her head. Natalie took a breath and kept walking to Annie anyway.
“When was she injured?”
Janette raised her voice. “Not until these fine gentlemen arrived.” She managed to contain an amazing amount of contempt in the word ‘gentlemen,’ Natalie thought.
Natalie Lambert fingered the extra scalpel she’d forgotten to remove from her pocket.
* * *
Natalie made a show of putting all her attention on Annie. She wasn’t as skilled with live bodies, but the cursory exam placed her close to Rick. She drew the scalpel, hiding the motion under pretense of looking at Annie’s ribs, which, she noted, were at least bruised. The faster they resolved this, the faster she could call an ambulance.
In one smooth motion, Natalie jabbed the scalpel into Rick’s leg. No time to sterilize. Oh well, that was almost deserved. As the stabbed man screamed, she shoved Charlie as hard as she could. He flew almost to the edge of the sunlight, gun still in hand.
Janette was willing to reach the rest of the way despite the immediate burning of her arm.
Her other arm snapped hard, throwing something too fast for Natalie to see.
Natalie looked around for the third man. He slowly fell, still breathing. Natalie swallowed hard but forced herself to take his gun. She held it aimed at the second man, who had dropped his pistol in favor of clutching his punctured calf. She could see Janette in her periphery, with the last man left in her embrace. She understood that posture, and she knew what it predicted. She shook her head desperately.
“Janette, no!” The other woman looked at her, snarl-exposed fangs an inch from Charlie’s throat. “Don’t give me more than I can explain.”
“Cherie, there will be nothing left to explain.”
Natalie looked at her steadily. “Then don’t give me more than I can live with being part of. Please.”
Janette met her eyes and smiled slightly. “For you, then, cher.”
Janette pulled back farther, to meet Charlie’s eyes. “Understand me. I am the night. I have lived more years than you will ever see. If you ever touch this girl again, if you ever return, if you ever speak of me to anyone, I will know. And no one on this earth will save you a second time. Do. You. Understand.”
His frantic nod was less eloquent than his loss of bladder control. Janette tossed him free with an expression of disgust.
Natalie drew in a breath, shaky with the release of tension. No one had died. She closed her eyes. Thank God.
A steady arm wrapped around her shoulders. Janette shook her gently. “Ma soeur, you have heart.” The arm tightened slightly. “Though I am not sure about sense.” She let go, moving to tend Annie.
Natalie laughed, heart still pounding. “I’m not sure either. “
Janette slanted a grin at her. “This will make a lovely story for Nicola later.” Her grin widened. “I think I will let you tell it.”
Author’s Note: I do not recall a skylight in the Raven, but *I * needed one. So...they had one briefly, and this convinced Janette that, no matter how much fun it might be to have a direct and dramatic exit on demand, a skylight was a bad idea.