1963-09-29 - Rhapsody in Blue
Summary: As the vampiric infection begins to take hold of Jack, Liv and Duke come charging to the rescue.
Related: Once Upon A Hellmouth plot
Theme Song: None
jack liv duke 

The factory is quiet all day, though a soft Slavic folk tune drifts through the vast space from time to time while Dracula's minions work. A sewing machine hums in the staff room downstairs. Minions and vampires come and go, bearing some deliveries for Azure and others stacking crates near the doors of the opulent offices.

Azure herself is quiet and kind, not quite matronly but gentle. She offers Jack little real food but plenty of juice and a bit of fruit. Her accent is hard to place, it's not quite French — or maybe it's French so old that no one speaks it anymore.

As night falls, activity rises. Clusters of vampires arrive to greet their Lord and to receive their orders. Some time after moonrise, Vlad himself finally appears, breezing past the gathered supplicants on his way upstairs to see his newest little family member.

"How is she?" Vlad wants to know, closing the door to the office behind him.


Jack just lingers in the office. Her skin radiates heat, her body aches, and her eyes burn with the fever that seems to have taken over her entire body. She twitches, writhing into a ball, and retreating silently into herself. Every single joint in her body complains against the impending illness.

The fluid and fruit is enough to keep her awake enough, but her throat scratches as the flu seems to overtake her. Unbidden tears are blinked back, as she curls even more into the fetal position, longing for some reprieve from this ridiculous flu.


Dio's Scrap Yard is eclectic, even for a scrap yard. There are trees and flowers and fruits in among the carefully curated stacks of crushed cars and scaffold walkways. The neon sign at the front is dark, a closed sign hangs on the shop door, the gate is locked.

Duke has been picking flowers today, sorting essences and syrups, doing anything but seeming worried. Sometimes, he lights another candle on the hood of his big blue car and other times he disappears down a staircase to a bunker below that garage. There's a room with a cot in the back of the shop and there are a few other little shacks with beds, as though people stop here once in a while.

Whatever Duke is up to, he's keeping it to himself. His huge yellow dog, however, follows Liv around curiously, watching everything she does.


There's been a lot to watch. Lots of pacing, more than a few angry rants about how much time they were wasting — which Liv never actually aimed at Duke because she knows full well that this time was not being wasted. Although she was stuck in a holding pattern, Duke was not, and as infuriating as it was to spend so much time not actively rescuing Jack… this was important.

If nothing else, it gave Liv a chance to craft stakes. And oh, has she crafted some stakes. Not even the scrap yard's brooms have managed to escape being transformed into sharpened wood javelins.

Liv casts a look down at the dog, slinging a pair of the javelins over her shoulders, and makes a face. "…don't suppose you know where she is, do you?"


Dracula comes to Jack side, bends over her and strokes her damp hair back. "Ah, I told you it would be painful. I have brought you a gift, though, that will ease your suffering." He puts a beautiful crystal flask with a gold stopper on the edge of the marble coffin. It's full of something so red as to be black. "Drink that and you will feel much better. It is from me, to you. I only wish I could stay to give it to you myself, but I have work to do tonight. I sense my daughter's hand in things. Perhaps she fears being replaced. Perhaps she should be."

"You wish for me to stay?" Azure sounds reluctant.

"Yes, yes. I am leaving you with some of the young from the city, they will keep enemies at bay." Dracula strokes Jack's hair back once more. "Perhaps, tonight, I will find you a companion, Jack. A young one. I do enjoy having the little ones around." He stands with a swirl of his long, black cloak and bows to Jack where she lies, miserable. "I will return."

With that, he is nothing but a black mist that seeps out the office windows and down to the factory floor below. Boots sound as the minions he has summoned behind their march to whatever battle awaits.


"Th-th-thank you.. Vlad," Jack whispers softly. She emits a soft sigh and very slowly, very weakly, uncurls herself form her very condensed posture. A soft hum emits from the back of her throat and she sits up slowly. The dark medicine in the crystal earns odd regard as she reaches for it. "I…"

The pain behind the back of her eyes only grows as she reaches for the flask. "I.. need…" her fingers weakly grasp the flask. "…the medi — " but she can't finish the thought. She carefully uncorks the flask an looks towards Azure. "..how much?"


Coz snuffles Liv, rather wetly, then he barks. When he tilts his head, one of his ears flips inside out adorably. He's thinking about it.

"Maybe." Duke emerges from the bunker once again, a dufflebag over his shoulder and his bow and quiver slung across his back, There are a stack of papers in his hands. "News," he says, stating the obvious. "Storms are all in Hell's Kitchen. The…" He has to think about the word for a moment. "Vampires. Need the cover in the day. Tastes like dead. Sick and dead. So. There. The bat went to the centre of it, but possibly past. All centres have another side. People in that area are suspicious. Empty places are required. Dark also. They cluster, you saw them. Usually solitary things."

Coz barks sharply at Duke.

"If we go there, yes. Coz will find her," Duke says, making a face at the dog. "Or them. And her with them. If she lives." He shrugs a shoulder and gives Liv a helpless look. "She is food."


Liv gives Duke a somewhat flat look in return, her jaw set. She knows. But it's easier to avoid thinking about it and getting impatient if she doesn't, you know, articulate the thought.

She gives Coz's ears a quick ruffling. He's a good boy. "Let's go, then," Liv says crisply, raising her eyebrows at Duke. "I assume Tex still runs?"


"All of it, Jack," Azure says, returning to her usual pleasant demeanor. She comes to sit next to Jack and now her smile is genuine, almost nostalgic. "Drink slowly, but drink it all." Laughter rises up from downstairs and a radio begins playing. That's the sound of the modern era. Young men and women listening to pop music and chattering, smoking. The young.

Azure leaves Jack to look out the one window to the outside. "The shamblers are out," she notes with some amusement. "He always draws them. Shamblers and clatterers. You'll get used to them. Drink up, dear. It'll clear your head."


Azure turns weirdly blurry and Jack slowly brings the flash to her lips. She very slowly brings the red-black fluid to her lips. At first she sips the odd fluid, but in moments her apprehension is replaced with greedy guzzling as her body appreciates what's inside the flask. Even the tanginess dances on her tastebuds, livening her senses with every passing moments. Large gulps of the wine-blood combination provide strange comfort as her body still aches, sweats, and generally feels uncomfortable. But at the very least she's got something to take the edge off.


"Tex? Always," Duke says to Liv. "Tex, wake up. Give me a hand, then, cleaning him up." He stops for a moment. "Liv. Yes, Liv."

The car rumbles to life and the headlights glow. Duke starts moving the candles and other offerings from the hood of the car to the workbench. A couple limp chicken corpses end up in the incinerator at the centre of the scrap yard. Once that's done, Duke opens a cabinet by the workbench and takes out a couple shotguns and a few boxes of shells.

"Salt, iron shavings, and silver," Duke says, tucking them in the glove box. "Backup. Get the gate, Coz." Coz runs ahead, Duke slides in behind the wheel, and — once Liv is in her seat — Duke takes them out of the yard. Tex rattles irritably about something but he does run. When the gate closes behind them, Coz leaps into the back seat.


While Duke loads the glove box, Liv's making sure the back seat has a tidy supply of stakes, though plenty of room is left for the dog. She's not heartless. Then she's in her seat and trying very hard to remain patient long enough for them to be underway, arms folded tightly across her chest.

"I need to fix this," Liv mutters aside to Duke, fingers drumming anxiously against her arms as she scowls out the window. "Thank you. For the help."


"Come up. Some fresh air and moonlight will do you good." Azure holds her hand out to Jack. "This lets out onto the roof. It's a clear night and there are walkways above, to the stacks from the furnace. He likes to come and go from there. You'll feel stronger once you feel the night air on your skin. You're fortunate to be so young. You will be this beautiful forever."


Jack lazily accepts the hand, and warily rises to her legs. "Th-thank you. Yes. That would. That would be good." Azure receives a flicker of a smile, "Nothing last forever," fatigued, she forces herself closes to the indicated exit. Carefully, slowly, she steps on the indicated path. "Air will be good," she murmurs softly. "You… are too kind."


Duke doesn't answer, he just lights a cigarette — neither hand on the wheel — while Tex roars down a street. He does take the wheel again fairly quickly, though, as there's traffic. Coz barks happily at passing trucks, slobbers on Liv's shoulder, licks Duke's face — which Duke tolerates with a slightly queasy expression.

Hell's Kitchen is thick with fog and Hellstorm but the upper stories of the buildings emerge into the clear night sky.

Coz sniffs the air from time to time and barks imperiously once they begin navigating the foggy places. Duke seems to understand what the dog is saying, or at least he can tell left from right by the barking. Tex takes them deeper into Hell's Kitchen, seeming to circle closer and closer to a crumbling corner of the factory district.


Whenever Coz's head pops over her shoulder, Liv's hand immediately comes up to dutifully pet the dog. The slobber doesn't bother her. She's been covered in far worse — recently, even — and, frankly, is putting all of her effort into sitting through the drive. No attention to spare for doggy drool.


Azure leads Jack down a narrow hall and up a set of stairs, out a hatch on the roof. The night air is pleasantly cool and the moonlight is almost soothing — as Azure promised. Azure tucks Jack's hand in her arm as they walk along the edge of the factory roof.

"Something is coming," she says quietly. "My lord should not have left tonight."

Sure enough. Something is coming. A pair of headlights illuminate the gate below, a car rumbles loud enough to be heard from here.


It's easy for Jack to fall into step with Azure. Her lips hitch up on one side, despite herself, and she finds it oddly comforting to be so cared for by the other woman. The cool of the night refreshes her skin, giving her some sense of peace as it touches every inch of her skin.

Weakness continues to confuse her. "Vlad … seems… kind…" at least to Jack. She yawns slowly as the headlights draw attention to the world below. "What… is going on?"


The car hasn't even stopped before the passenger door opens and Liv jumps out, a makeshift wooden javelin in either hand. A quick glance is given to the dog and a questioning "Here?" before she immediately begins pacing towards the building, eyes casting about for signs of life.

And un-life. A few ghouls in the parking lot — no. Not what she's looking for. Eyes narrowing, Liv draws in a deep breath as she glares up through the fog towards the roof.



Coz leaps out — no barking now — and charges straight for a ghoul wandering aimlessly in Liv's direction. He grabs it by a leg and shakes the thing like a rag dog.

"He never met a shambler he didn't like," Duke says almost absently, squinting up at the rooftop. "This is the place, then. There are more inside. And that…that is the problem."


"I think your friends are here," Azure says, laughing quietly. "They do seem to have come prepared. Do you want to watch?" She puts an arm around Jack's shoulders. Below, the factory door swing open and the first of a few modern-clothed vampires spill out into the night, whooping and cheering, ready to fight.


Jack's hand slips from Azure's arm. Her hand drops to her side and she steps closer to the edge of the roof. "That's Liv — " she takes a step towards the edge. "Liv!" she feels weaker by the minutes. Her face pales as she steps closer to the edge. Her head feels heavier at the question, "What.. what am I watching — " her eyebrows draw together as she dizzily reaches back for Azure.


The voice may be faint, but Liv has excellent ears. Her attention snaps to where Jack's voice and she feels her posture straighten, her expression brighten. She has time to murmur "Good dog," under her breath before the factory doors part to allow the pack to beginning pouring out, and with a wolfish grin, the Asgardian rushes forward to meet them.

The sword stays in its scabbard. Instead, the blonde is a rush of vicious sharpened wood, the double-edged spears going straight for the hearts with no wasted motion.

"Duke!" Liv snaps over her shoulder. "Roof!"


The vampires are not all up to the task of handling an Asgardian, even with the ghouls shambling in to help. The first few turn to dust quickly enough. More than one has a gun, though, and she fires at Liv over the shoulder of one of her compatriots. Others pull switchblades to slash at her — no longer laughing but growling low like circling dogs.

Coz drops his broken, still crawling ghoul, to charge the shooter. He doesn't circle. He just attacks. No waiting.

Duke looks thoughtfully at the scene, then he takes a run at the side of the building. He grabs a sill for a second floor window and pulls himself up, then leaps for the next window up.

"Your friends are here," Azure says, with some amusement. "They're quite good. I look forward to seeing at least one of them turn once you're feeling more yourself, dear." She gives Jack a little squeeze. "Come inside again. This is too much excitement for you, I fear."


Jack's head tilts as she tries to bring the scene into focus once again. In many ways, what happens below seems as if it's happening on a screen, and not in a real life theatre in the real world below.

The squeeze has Jack melting into the touch as she slides into the building once again. "What is going on? Liv… I need… Liv needs to know I'm just sick…"


The switchblades — and bullets — are either missing Liv entirely or simply aren't worthy of her attention, because she is ignoring them utterly. The only proof that she's noticed those with guns at all is the fact that she turns in place and sends one of her two javelins flying through the air hard enough that it only stops when it's embedded itself in the wall behind the man whose chest it just went through.

Since Duke is scaling the side of the building, Liv squares her shoulders and starts marching for the open doors, grasping her remaining javelin in both hands long enough to snap it in half over her knee. Two long stakes. Makes getting inside more efficient.



A few of the elders among the vampires have hung back. These are stronger, wiser. One comes at Liv with a chain, wider than a man's arm, and a hook on the end — something heavy enough to lift a cauldron of molten metal — and swings it with ease. Another fires a shotgun at her, emptying both barrels, then reloading.

Coz is taking on half a dozen ghouls, one is clinging to his back. He yelps with pain when one bites him and that draws the attention of — the car. Tex rumbles, its headlights flash, and it roars forward toward the ghouls.

Duke scales the side of the building, emerging as Azure and Jack disappear into the hatch and down the stairs.

Azure stops to latch the hatch behind them. "If she makes it up here, you can tell her," Azure says to Jack. "But meantime, dear child, I believe you need to lie down." She means to take Jack back to bed, that marble coffin full of earth. The lid to it stands to the side, waiting to be put in place, but so far Jack has only been covered in furs and blankets.


Even the shotgun blast doesn't cause the Asgardian any obvious discomfort. Liv rocks back slightly from the impact but otherwise, just seems… annoyed. So, no meaningful change. Hearing the yelp from Coz just makes her angrier.

Liv does drop one of her stakes, however, as she whips a hand up to catch hook short of her neck. With a snarl, she gives a sharp tug to yank the vampire off of its feet and towards her, where she's waiting to catch it with the other stake.


Azure lays Jack down in the coffin, tucks her in like a child, then lifts the lid to seal her in. "Sleep, child," she says comfortingly. Her voice is hypnotic, impossible to resist.

The vampire with the shotgun tries again, another shot at Liv, then backs away into the factory floor. It draws Liv in, then there's a rattle and grinding noise. Something large and black looms — one of the empty cauldrons swings across the room on the runners overhead, headed straight for Liv. A tall vampire, sword in hand, rides it.

Up on the roof, Duke gets his fingers under the edge of the hatch and pulls. It takes him a couple minutes but the latch gives way with a scream of metal and he's able to follow. Below, Coz and Tex are making short work of what remains of the ghouls. Now, it's more of a game than a fight.


It isn't difficult to draw Liv in. She's coming in whether the monsters like it or not. But the knowledge that Jack is here, is alive, keeps her vision from tunnelling. She whips around as soon as she hears the grinding noise, lips drawing back in a snarl as she spies the cauldron and the one who rides it.

She manages to twist out of the path of the cauldron itself, but only just — as she ducks to avoid the sword, the cauldron itself catches her hand and sends her remaining stake skittering uselessly across the floor.

Finally, the sword is drawn from Liv's scabbard — but rather than pursue the similarly-armed vampire or the one with the shotgun, she casts a look around for a way up. Towards the roof. Towards Jack.


The elegant woman in blue — Azure — steps out of the offices and onto one of the walkways around the outside. She heads for the stairs with a measured pace, eyes on Liv. "Do come up," she calls. "Though I'm afraid you're late. If you wanted your friend back, perhaps you shouldn't have lost her at all." Azure carries a strange metal weapon, like a hammer with a curved head and a hook on the end — a nadziak. A pernach hangs at her belt, swinging ponderously as she paces. "She belongs to us now."

Duke takes a look around and figures out, quickly, where Jack has been stashed. He's not in a hurry, though.. She's not going anywhere and there's no panicked noise from inside the coffin. He scans the room and finds, first, the empty flask. Humming curiously, he picks it up and pockets it before continuing his survey of the room. Information first. Rescue, in a minute.

Coz comes roaring in with a ghoul leg in his mouth. He dodges a shotgun blast and drops the leg in favour of trying to get the gun instead. He's always ready to trade up when it comes to toys.


In a factory full of vampires and ghouls, an elegant woman in blue is something Liv finds far more interesting. Her attention's locked on the instant she sees her and, sword in hand, she begins to briskly make her way up to meet her.

"And just who is 'us'?" Liv asks, managing to keep her voice light despite the tightness of her jaw. Don't rise to the bait, she tells herself. This one is too dangerous for that. She can feel it.


"My Lord Vlad Dracul, first, and his kin. Including myself." Azure's smile shows a flash of long fangs. "We have claimed her. You, on the other hand, I fear are not suited to join us. Pity. She spoke of you when she slept. Liv. The one who lost her, yes?" She seems almost arrogant, eager for Liv to confront her.

Duke continues his deliberate putter around Dracula's inner sanctum. When he finally gets back to the coffin, pockets full of odds and ends, he lifts the lid at least as easily as Azure did. He still doesn't touch Jack. Instead, he finds an empty jar among his possessions and takes some of the soil from the coffin. Below, Coz is causing trouble chasing vampires, as one does.


As long as the woman in blue has her attention on Liv, then Duke is all the freer to do what they actually came here to do.

"Does your Lord not see fit to allow you a name of your own?" Liv drawls with raised eyebrows, letting the tip of her sword lazily drag along the floor as she finally reaches the same level Azure is pacing. "It seems only fair that if Jack reported my failure to you by name that I should be able to report yours to him the same way."


"Azure, in this day. It is not my name but I need none. A thing that is unique needs no name." She moves almost too fast to see and swings her weapon at Liv with the speed of a snake striking. She lashes out once, intending to test Liv's body by striking at her sword arm, and then puts space between them again in the blink of an eye. "I do not intend to fail, creature."

Now, Duke takes an interest in Jack. He moves the furs and lays her out straight to investigate. He's curious about the bite on Jack's throat. He tests it, making a curious noise as it yields a small amount of green fluid and blood.


One moment, the nadziak is about to strike Liv's sword arm — the next, the sound of metal upon metal rings out as she intercepts the strike with the flat of the blade, her eyes never leaving Azure's face. They never lost track of her.

Being referred to as 'creature' just makes the corners of Liv's mouth draw upwards into a smile, her head canting to one side. "That does not sound very unique at all," she murmurs to herself. One shoulder lifts in a shrug — and then she's moving. She has no intention of testing Azure's body. She intends to destroy it.

It is more difficult than anticipated. It's been a long time since Liv's had a fight against another person she might grudgingly admit was her equal, yet here she is, being met strike for strike. It seems like every time she manages to land any kind of blow on Azure, the woman manages to land one right back, and with enough strength behind them that Liv feels them.

It would be invigorating if Liv didn't have more important things to do.


Azure fights not just well but thoughtfully even though her blows are purely brutal. She's ancient and savvy and incredibly resilient. She also knows her strengths and weaknesses well. She closes to do damage and then is gone again, leaps from one walkway to another as though stepping stones across a stream. Every blow Liv gets in, she has to work for. Azure means to kill her as well — Liv has no value to them as potential kin or as fodder. There's plenty to eat here.

Duke emerges with Jack in his arms, wrapped up in furs. He pauses to watch the fight for a moment before he interrupts.

"Time to go," he says to Liv, as though they'd lingered too long at the library or somewhere equally mundane.


As quickly as Azure can withdraw, Liv can pursue, though her steps are not as light. She prefers not to expend the energy on graceful movements when she can instead focus on being crisp, precise, sharp. A different kind of elegance, in its own way, and just as dangerous.

When Duke appears, only one of them turns to look — and it isn't Liv.

She seizes upon the opening without hesitation, lunging forward not with her sword, but with an empty hand. Liv's palm slams into the other woman's sternum, fingers immediately curling to grasp the beautiful blue fabric there, and then her hand twists just… so.

From within her bracer, there is a soft SHKK as a long, slender silver blade flashes out beneath her hand.


Azure's attention is lost, just for a moment, but it's enough. Liv's blade flies across the space between them and buries in Azure's heart. For a moment, she stands there looking stunned, she looks down at the blade, and then light consumes her from the inside out. Her weapons fall among her ashes.

Duke watches with some curiosity, then shrugs. "Coming?"


And as Azure falls apart, Liv stares right into her eyes until she's well and truly gone.

The blade vanishes back into her bracer and Liv stoops to the ground long enough to scoop up the nadziak with her free hand. Hers now. Without a word, she moves to join Duke and Jack, absently sliding her sword back into its scabbard as she goes.

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