THE CRIMSON FLOW

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Chapter 8.5 - BELOVED

Stepping over the ravaged remains of Luke’s coven, Cain moved hesitantly, reluctantly, to Becky’s side. He did not wish to face this grim reality.

She lay, sprawled at the edge of the stage - broken, rent, a slick trail of blood seeping from her wounds. Cain’s winged shadow formed a velvet embrace over her body. Faltering, he knelt at her side.

Relinquishing the vampire talons, his hands reverted to that of a man. Gently he brushed her hair away from her face; blood stained her cheeks. With her eyes closed, she looked like she was sleeping - peaceful, dreaming; just as she was when he’d watched her - secretly - on occasion. But, now she had been torn, gouged, fed upon - her life-source depleted - stolen.

Images of her smiling, laughing, even sulking, flitted across Cain’s memory, making his lips stretch in a smile, although it was tainted, bittersweet.

He was death incarnate, darkness, and she - she had been his light; his beacon, his reason, his new-found purpose. And still, he’d tried - vehemently - to deny what she stirred within him; but he couldn’t silence the blissful reality. True divinity. Too beautiful. Pure. Miraculously, she had re-awakened certain feelings; in her company, he’d felt revitalised, reborn, anew.

Her smile always lifted him, her voice thrilled, and the touch of her hand, such a simple gesture, always filled him with hope. Inconceivable for a creature such as he, yes. But hope, nonetheless. Even her lingering melancholy had been a stimulant, an irresistible allure.

From their first encounter in Whitby, the time spent in Becky’s company had always been precious, something he’d come to cherish - to the point of adoration. All too brief.

Now - it was gone.

Snuffed out.

He had failed her.

His fingers traced over her cheek, praying, aching for the feel of her skin but, still, he was denied its beauty. Crimson tears spilt, tracing over his cheeks, splashing on the cold floor, their crystal timpani amplified by his grief.

Cradling her, he buried his face in her hair. “I don’t want to lose you,” he whispered, ragged, crushed. The memory of their first kiss, barely an hour ago, washed over him. An intense stricture, shards of pain coursed through him; his black heart was breaking, disintegrating. He closed his eyes as rivulets continued to flow, obliquity clawing at his conscience. “Forgive me.”

Across the room, the two Fallen observed. Nick moved toward the vampire, but Craig lay a prohibitive hand on his shoulder. “No,” he said softly. “Let him be.”

Turning opalescent eyes to his companion, Nick stared, disbelieving. “He is our friend! Both of them are - were...” His voice hitched, sadness engulfing him.

He looked back at the immortal kneeling over Becky’s limp form. Cain’s wretchedness was tangible. Of all the sorrow he had carried over the millennia, the angel could see this was by far his greatest agony.

Craig offered acquiescence. “Yes, I know.” With his cool features betraying his own grief, he looked at Nick, thoughtful. “Give him time, my friend. She was his beloved.” The Fallen remained where they were, reverent, watching.

Pain, the likes of which Cain had not felt in centuries, erupted, tearing him apart. Raising his head, he looked skyward, his anguished roar filling the building; the very structure trembling from his torment. He cradled her, refusing to accept the grim situation.

Without warning, the vampire propelled upwards, thunderous, crashing through the high dome. Thousands of shards and glass splinters fell, a glittering, crystal shower amongst the carnage. And just as instantly, blue flame swept through the room, its roar almost deafening.

“What are you doing?” Nick gasped, grabbing Craig’s arm.

“Purifying it,” Craig replied as the scream of police sirens closed in. He swept his arms through the air like an orchestra’s conductor, whipping up the blue-flames, building to a crescendo.

“But...Becky -”

“We have no choice!” Craig’s eyes were ablaze, resolute. “There must be nothing left.”

Wave upon wave of angelic fire roiled and rippled over the bodies throughout the room until all were consumed, the ash rising in the updraft, dispersing through the dome into the night air. Just as suddenly, it was extinguished, abrupt, final.

The two angels, hovering just moments before, then exited the scene through the shattered dome.

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