03 – Stay With Me

“Medic!” Jack shouts as the team rushes into the building. “We need a medic!”

Cardinal Renford descends the steps. His eyes narrow in disapproval at the four-man team causing a ruckus inside one of the Vatican’s sacred spaces. In a blink of an eye, he assesses the situation. With a motion of his hand, his men spring into action. Buck refuses to let go of me, and they are forced to guide him to the treatment room.

My eyes flutter open and all I see is the blurry outline of Buck.

“I got you, baby girl. You’re safe.” His deep voice whispers to me from far away.

I close my eyes again. He could have been the vampire standing before and I would not have the strength to react. My whole body is heavy and racked by phantom pain.

“Put her there, strap her down.” The Iscariot medic barks at Buck.

Buck obeys.  The cold, hard surface feels like stone against my skin and makes me shiver. I barely register the apology he murmurs as he binds my wrists and ankles. A strap tightens across my chest and I groan.

“Was she bitten more than once?”

“Don’t know. Don’t think so. We shot the fuck when he bit her.”

The Iscariot forces something hard into my mouth and ties it in place. Another medic comes in with bags of blood on one tray and bags of holy saline on the other.

“What’s all that for?” Buck growls at the two men.

“We have to burn the poison out of her system. With how much blood she’s lost, the process will kill her. Our only chance is to give her both at the same time. Even so, she will be lucky to survive the night.”

“No!” Buck roars. “She can’t die! I promised her. I will fucking gut you if she doesn’t make it.”

Before he can get around the table to the medic, Trevor grabs him, holding him back. “Calm down, Buck. Ain’t gonna do anyone any good if you kill the guys helping her.”

Buck continues to struggle. He pushes against Trevor, still trying to get to the Iscariot.

Trevor keeps Buck under control until an Iscariot jabs a tranquilizer into Buck’s neck.

He growls in pain, and then subdues, swaying in front of Trevor. Someone produces a chair. He sits roughly, trying to fight the sedative.

“Just relax, man. We got her. Ain’t nobody gonna kill our girl.” Trevor says to convince Buck as much as himself.

Monitors beep to life as the medics attach electrodes to my body. My heart struggles to keep up with the lack of blood flow, and my heart rate monitor is barely making a sound.

Two medics move around me turning my arm and injecting IV ports. They give me blood first, in a desperate attempt to get my heart rate to a safe level.

Someone turns my head abruptly, while pushing my hair out of the way. The holes from where I was bit are open and draining. The monster didn’t even bother to close the wounds. “We need saliva,” the medic calls to the room.

Trevor sticks with Buck, watching the scene unfold.

A young boy races from the room, returning seconds later with a small vial.

The Iscariot pops it open and generously dabs it over the open wounds.

For his efforts, the Iscariot is rewarded with my shrieks of pain. My eyes fly open from the adrenaline shock, but I still don’t understand what is happening. The agony is too great and overwhelms my senses. The only thought going through my mind is I need it to stop as I struggle like a worm on a hook against the restraints.

The monitor next to me blares an alarm to match the erratic pace of my now-racing heart.  The painful burning in my neck radiates through the rest of my body. My pupils are dilated and I cannot see anything. All I feel is terror.

“Fuck! You’re hurting her.” Buck’s voice shifts between roaring in rage at the Iscariots and soothing to me. “Tabby, baby, calm down. We got you. You’re safe. Come on, baby. Fix her already!”

“Sit down.” Trevor shoves Buck. “They can’t help her if you go berserk on them. She’s screaming. Means she’s breathing. She’s a tough little bird. Trust her man.” He glances back to watch the medics work while keeping a hand on Buck.

The commotion spurs me to struggle more, but my efforts are feeble. Black spots dance in my eyes as darkness threatens to settle in once more.

“Tabitha, I need you to calm down.” A stern but soothing voice cuts through the fog of terror. His Italian accent rolls as he speaks, calming me down. “We are replacing the blood you lost. A vampire bit you. If you keep resisting us, you will die. Tell me you understand.”

“Under…Stood.” I stutter out as I try to force myself to ignore the pain still terrorizing my body.

“You are still under the kiss’s influence. Breathe. This is going to hurt.”

The room continues to darken. The voices around me are fading.

Why are the lights off?

Oh, God. I’ve turned. They’re trying to stop the process. They’re going to murder me.

“Saline’s good. Line’s open.” The same voice penetrates the fog again.

This new pain is far worse than anything the vampire could have forced on me. It’s fire searing through my veins. White hot, burning pain seeps from the port and rages like rapids up through my arm.  My struggles start anew as more restraints are added.

“Stop. Stop. Please. Oh, God. I don’t want to die. Please,” I beg. Every new drop of saline in my system is a fiery new path I can follow.

“Tabby,” Buck calls to me.

“Buck, help me,” I croak, unable to see him in the darkness. Hearing his voice makes me want to unleash the beast of a man on every person in here. “Please. Make ‘em stop. Please.”

“Get him out of here,” the stern voice commands.

“Fuck if I’m leaving. What are you fucks doing to her?” Buck snarls like a rabid beast.

“Blessed saline. It burns the kiss out of her system and stops the addiction.” The lead medic doesn’t take his eyes from monitoring the process.

Buck and Trevor stop struggling against each other and both men stare in silence. The holy saline had not been done outside of the Iscariot. The horror stories of what happens to a person when they undergo the treatment are enough to make both men stare in fear.

“Fuck,” Trevor breathes.

“How long?” Buck’s voice cracks.

“Seventy-two hours. Maybe more. She has lost a lot of blood. If she makes it through the night, I will reassess in the morning.”

“If?” Buck narrows his eyes. “You had better fucking make sure she makes it through the night.”

“Easy, Buck. He’s doing the best he can.”

“No. Those fucks weren’t there to stop him from biting her. They don’t get a fucking pass now. Where the fuck were you?”

Trevor squares up against Buck and pushes him out the door before he loses all sense of control. “Not the right people to be pissed at. Let’s find Jack and rip that dickhead Cardinal a new asshole.”

Buck’s soft green eyes burn with rage as his jaw twitches, his nostrils flare, and his chest heaves from the efforts to not turn into the Incredible Hulk and smash every person in this room, Trevor included.

Trevor trying to reason with him is like trying to move a mountain with his bare hands. It’s taking all his strength to keep the threatening locomotive of Buck from jumping right off the tracks into murder town.

Tabitha’s tormented shrieking is only muffled by the door shut behind the two men. “No. I am not leaving her side.”

“You ain’t fucking right, man. You can’t stay in there if you’re going to kill them for doing their job. Get your shit together! Those men in there are all you got to keep her alive.”

Buck’s fists clench and unclench. His weight shifts from one foot to the other. He doesn’t even care about his self-inflicted wound from trying to save Tabitha. Several beats pass in silence before he grumbles like a scolded child. “I won’t kill ‘em.”

Trevor sighs and shakes his head. “Get your wrist fixed. Calm the fuck down. Our girl’s gonna be alright.” He hesitates, then turns to  find Jack and Cardinal Renford. His search is short-lived. He hears Jack’s voice echoing down the hallway as he tears into Renford.

“Where the fuck were your men? We had a fucking plan. If your men had been in place, we wouldn’t be in this situation!”

“Language, Mr. Talbett, you are in the house of God. My men were exactly where I told them to be. I knew you gung-ho Americans would try to enact this reckless plan and make a mess of things. So I put my men where they would be most valuable, hunting down the monster at his lair.” Cardinal Renford’s northern English accent cracks like a whip. Disdain for his American counterparts drips like venom from a snake’s fang.

“If it weren’t for her, you wouldn’t even fucking know where his lair is, you God damn prick! You dangled her out as bait, fully willing to let him fucking murder her to get what you wanted.”

“You will not use the Lord’s name in vain!” Renford bellows. “I did what was necessary to complete God’s mission of eradicating the world of these monsters. One foot soldier in the crusade is an acceptable loss. Her sacrifice will not be forgotten. Now, I have work to do.” He waves a delicate bony hand to dismiss the crude soldier before him.

The pistol sheathed on Trevor’s thigh sings to him as his hand rests over the holster. He could kill the man with a single shot. This holy roller was anything but holy. After hearing he deliberately left Murphy high and dry, Trevor wants to kill him just to prove that no one does that to his team. When he hears the telltale slap of skin hitting skin followed by a grunt, Trevor rushes  forward, giving away that he was listening.

Jack stands over the Cardinal with clenched fists, and the Cardinal holding a hand to his eye.

“You had better fucking hope she lives. Or so help me, Cardinal, a black eye will be what you beg for by the time I get done with you.” Jack spits on the man and storms out of the office.