"So!?" the winged warrior hissed. "I was looking forward to having that reward with the vampire and now she's gone!"
Rito shrugged. "Oh, well." Every day that passed, he had felt smarter and more. . .well, human, was the only word he could remember. He was much younger than Rita, who had been grown and conquering planets by the time he was brought into the family. From hints they had dropped, he knew that he was the adopted son of Master Vile. He and Rita had communicated frequently through magic during the time he was growing up, and he felt at times as if he were as old as she herself was.
"Oh, well?" Goldar hissed. "I don't like having what I earned taken from me, Rito!"
"She's gone." Rito told him flatly. "Nothing you can do now."
"That's what you think!"
Rito frowned. "Whatcha mean?"
"I'm going to go take her back!" Goldar declared. Rito got to his feet. This was not to happen!
"She can't even move!" It was true; after her rescue, Evanthe had entered a coma, in which she never moved, twitched, blinked, and barely breathed.
Goldar didn't care. "Good. That means she won't be fighting back!" He almost fainted when Rito delivered a killer uppercut to him, sending him staggering back several feet. "What was that for?"
"Let her regain her strength, or I'll do a lot worse!" Rito declared, in an unusual display of both temper and strength. Goldar watched in silence as he stormed out.
"What's his problem?" the monkey groaned.
Girard's voice came over his shoulder. "I don't know, but go find him and have him guard Elissa. I need a talk with Skull."
"Yes, sire." Goldar bowed and left.
He sighed, then laid down on the cot they had placed nearby for him. In moments, he was fast asleep. Aisha spoke quietly, glancing at the still gaping wounds on Evanthe. "I can't imagine what they did to make her like this."
Vincent sighed as he slowly finished applying an ointment he knew would heal the wounds she had been dealt. "Why did you do it, sis?" the vampire king murmured. Rocky, who had been sitting near him, looked curiously at him.
"Yes, Rocky?" the vampire looked over at him.
"Sis? You have a sister?" Rocky had never believed that such a thing could happen! Vincent always seemed so. ..independent. Without true family. When Vincent nodded, he had to know who it was.
"Sophie." the king sighed darkly. It didn't please him to say it, either. He wasn't precisely ashamed of her. . .he simply felt pity.
"When did this happen?" Tommy asked, startled that their friend was the brother of their enemy.
Vincent couldn't resist what he said next. "When my mother and father slept together. She's my twin, actually."
"Why didn't you say anything before?"
"When I met you guys, I was morning her. I'm glad she's found some form of peace in her life. At least I hope she was." Vincent sighed as he wiped away some sweat from Evanthe's forehead.
Rocky looked at the comatose Purple Ranger. "Can you help her, Vincent?"
"I don't know." Vincent looked at her, then back at them. He could tell that they were still curious about his sister. "Sophie was actually the sweetest sole before Girard took control of her."
Kim wondered, "How did he and Girard get involved anyway?"
"About twelve hundred years ago, Girard came to our village and kidnapped Sophie. She was the most beautiful unmarried woman there, and he wanted her. Not loved. Wanted. He turned her into a vampire and controlled her every move, her every thought from then on. He made her turn me into a vampire. I ran after that happened, and was found by one of the Vampire Council, the same one who discovered my powers."
Tommy smiled briefly. "And wound up becoming king?"
Vincent nodded. "I was never able to break Girard's control over Sophie, and now I wonder if she knows how to be like she used to be."
Rocky sighed. "If she let this happen, I doubt it."
"If he's still using his control, she had no choice." Vincent reminded them. Tommy sighed.
"Well, we got Evanthe back, and we'll get Elissa back too. Maybe even Sophie."
Vincent smiled briefly. "I'd like that."
"Maybe Evanthe knows something." Kim suggested. "If she'll ever talk or do anything!"
Vincent gazed down at her. "If only we knew how to make her talk. There are times that I wish vampires could have the link that werewolves do."
"Maybe if we knew just what had happened up there..somehow." Kim murmured.
Tommy sighed. "We need to get Elissa back to find that out."
"Vincent..." Rocky thought. "When Aura, Azure, and their Adam were here, you let Azure read her Adam's mind somehow."
"Could you do that now? Let one of us read Evanthe's mind, to maybe see where Elissa is so we can get her back, and to help Evanthe herself?" the Red Ranger suggested.
Vincent looked doubtful. "If she's not willing to let anyone see, it might not work."
"We have to try something!" Tommy declared, though he himself looked a touch reluctant. Vincent glanced at them all. One thing that was firmly on each of their faces was iron-hard determination.
"Who wants to do this?"
Kim raised her hand. "I'll do it."
Vincent nodded quietly, then touched both Kim's hand and Evanthe's at the same time. Kim stiffened briefly, her mind overwhelmed with fear, doubt, anger, hate, rage, shame, grief. . .and a single repeating image.
As his erstwhile friend wandered out the door, Rito released Evanthe's chains enough so that he could let her down onto the floor. "You rest, you need it." his voice was uncharacteristically soft. "I won't touch you again, not like that."
Kim jumped back, her eyes refocusing on the Command Center. As she realized what it was she had seen, her eyes widened in shock. "I. .I don't believe it!"
"What is it?"
Tommy looked confused. "What about him?"
No one believed what she told him. Adam said it best. "You're joking. Rito...nice!?"
"That's what I saw." Kim said firmly. "That's what she let me see. I couldn't see anything else. It's like she's holding on to that memory."
"Probably the nicest thing anyone up there did to her," Tommy suggested. The wounds on her body bore his theory out.
Rocky nodded. "Hey..." a thought occurred to him. "No, it would never work."
The Red Ranger glanced at the White. "Well, if Rito sort of helped her once...would he..or could he...do it again?"
"It's risky..." Tommy mused. "But you never know."
"How could we get in touch with him?" Kim asked. "And even so, there's no guarantee he wouldn't just take her back to the moon if we let him near her."
Tommy sighed. "You've got a point there."
Kim glanced at Evanthe, seeing she was crying again. "We have to do something though."
"Right now, all we can do is keep an eye on her, and wait for her to pull herself out of this shell."
Kim sighed as Vincent spoke. "If she ever does."
"She'd better." the vampire king declared. "But for now, I think I'm going to go plot Girard's murder. Who's up for first watch?" They hadn't left Evanthe alone for a second, and weren't going to, either.
Kim raised her hand slightly. "I'll do it." She had some serious thinking he wanted to do too.
"I'll bring you lunch a little later okay?" Tommy said, kissing her gently. Kim nodded and leaned back in the chair provided. It was going to be a very long time.
Slowly he massaged her shoulders as they sat in his bed. It had been three weeks since Evanthe's escape, Elissa's beating, and since the last time he had seen Sophie. He was worried to death about her, but didn't dare ask Girard just what had happened to her. "How does that feel?" he asked.
"Nice.." Elissa could only remember the last few weeks, but they had become nicer and nicer with each passing day. She was starting to wonder if she even wanted to remember. They couldn't possibly be as good as this, could they?
Skull smiled. "Glad you like it."
Elissa turned over and kissed him. "You are so nice to me!"
"I do what I can," he returned it, imagining Sophie being there instead of Elissa. He really missed her.
"Hard to believe. . . I think I'm starting to fall in love with you!"
Skull stopped what he was doing. "Uh. .what?" NO! NO! NO! This can't be happening!! But....
"I think I love you." She looked at him, not certain what was wrong, if anything was. "Don't you love me?"
Skull trembled. He did have some mild feelings for her, but nothing compared to what he felt for Sophie. He couldn't lie, though. I do."
Elissa kissed him again, with more passion in it. "I could do this forever...you are perfect."
Skull shook his head. "No, I'm not."
"What do you mean?"
Skull sighed. "I've done some very evil things." And that's not the worst of it. It was hard for him to sleep at nights sometimes these days.
She didn't care though, running her fingers done his spine. "Haven't we all?"
"Ohhh. .but..I ..I took you....or had you taken.. from your family, Elissa. From your husband and daughter."
Elissa tilted her head. "You did?"
"Yes. And for some very bad reasons."
"I had a family?" Elissa didn't really sound all that curious about it. "I don't remember them. Why did you?" She listened in shock as Skull told her about this person named Adam, a child named Gwen, and others that she supposedly cared about, not to mention his cold-hearted reasons for taking her from all of them. "You did all of that because you loved me?"
Skull sighed. "I didn't love you then, I do now."
"And I love you." She promised him. "I don't remember my family. All I know is you. The way you make me feel when we make love. The way you talk to me so sweetly. The way my heart skips a beat when you walk in the room."
"We may be able to bring you memory back." he told her. He wanted her to have it back, too. It wasn't right that she not have an entire life, a life she had earned, despite all the pain in it.
"I'll still love you, Skull."
He shook his head. "You don't know that."
She put a hand on his cheek, her eyes tearing up. "You don't want me, do you?"
"It's not that." Skull sighed. "I do want you, but it's wrong."
"How is it wrong if I love you?"
He almost wanted to shake her and scream that this very existence was wrong. He should never have agreed to have the spell cast on Evanthe, he should've just killed Girard and sent Elissa back before this had happened. He kept his voice calm, though. "Because when you get your memory back you won't, and you'll hate yourself for thinking you do."
"But for now, I love you, and want to be with you in all ways." In that moment, Skull's determination was reborn. He knew the day would come when he would destroy Girard, or see him destroyed. Someone who could so totally change a person to forget someone she had come close to dying for, and who had returned the favor, didn't deserve to breathe.
"I...love you, Elissa."
She smiled at him. "Will you hold me?" he put his arms around her, wanting to scream and cry and hurt something all at the same time. This felt so wrong. . .as if he were a fake, pretending to be someone he wasn't. He had never wanted to talk to someone, someone with a real mind, not a half-reflection of his own thoughts and desires and nine-tenths gone memory, so much in his life. He wanted to talk to Bulk so badly it physically hurt him. "I don't want my memories back if it means losing this!"
"Yes, you do," he insisted. "Because you have even more good ones than this. You have a husband, a daughter, and maybe still even a best friend."
Tears fell down hr face. "If I do. ..will we be friends? Close friends?"
He couldn't deny that. "If you want to be."
"I'd rather be lovers."
Skull sighed deeply. "For now, we can be. But as soon as your memory is back, we'll just be friends. Maybe." If she didn't ram a stake through his heart. And he'd stand still for it. It wasn't as if he deserved any better. He glanced up as Rito entered the room. "What are you doing here?"
"Girard wants to talk to you," the monster said. "And me to guard Elissa."
Skull was at once nervous. "What does he want to talk to me about?" he'd barely seen the vampire master in the last three weeks.
Rito shrugged. "Dunno. He just does.
Elissa smiled sweetly. "I will be here when you return, my love." Skull nodded, kissing her briefly on the cheek, and then left. She glanced over at Rito. "How are you?"
The skeleton shrugged. "Things have been better." She could see scar marks on various parts of him.
"They will be again." She touched his shoulder gently, trying to be comforting.
He sighed. "I don't know. Ever since I let Billy rescue Evanthe, no one around here likes me." It hadn't taken much for them to figure out what had happened. The punishment had been rather painful, too.
"I like you." She told him. "You've always been kind to me."
He almost snorted. If only she knew... "Well, lately, I've been figuring out what it's wrong to do all those things Girard does."
Before either of them could utter another word, there was a shimmer of teleportation. The Power Rangers had finally figured a way around the shielding system used there. Adam stared around. "ELissa!"
She glanced casually at him. "Do I know you?"
Adam felt as if someone had driven a silver bullet straight into his heart. He wished they had: it would have hurt less than that casual question. "Elissa, it's me, Adam!"
She backed and hid behind Rito, scared suddenly. "I don't know you!"
Adam stared at her. "Elissa, I won't hurt you. I love you!" he looked to Rito, anger in his eyes. "If you've hurt her, you're going to get torn apart!"
Elissa glanced from one of them to another. "He hasn't hurt me! He's my friend!" Adam's jaw dropped in surprise. "He's my friend. He protects me from Girard."
Adam shook is head; he could sort this out later. "Elissa, we need to get you out of here, to help you. Evanthe needs your help!"
"I don't need help." was her casual reply. "And who is Evanthe?"
The Black Ranger was almost certain he wanted to die just then. He kept going, though. "Your best friend. The vampire who was here before!"
The moment that the words were uttered, almost as if they were some strange form of catalyst, Rito doubled over suddenly, a white light playing all around him. Elissa stared in shock. "Rito!" she ran over to him, eyes wide and scared. "No, please be all right! Please!"
Adam stared, not at all certain what was happening. "What is going on here!"
"If you want to help anyone, help him! Please!"
The young man shook his head. "I don't know how!" both of them watched in fright as Rito began to transform, body shifting, shrinking, and changing.
Then it was over. Rito wore a light loincloth, and his newly grown hair was long and dark. Slowly he lifted his head, and Adam's jaw dropped. "W..what happened?"
"T. .Tommy!?" this person was almost a direct copy of the White Ranger! There were some differences, but they were as alike as two twins.
Elissa's voice was a low whisper. "Rito? Do you remember me? Elissa?"
Adam's questions were a touch more direct. "Who. .what are you!?"
Rito glanced from one of them to another. "I do remember you."
Elissa looked at the stranger. . .who supposedly knew her. "I don't know anymore, I really don't." She meant she didn't know just who or what Rito was, but something in the back of her thoughts was whispering double meanings of the phrase.
Adam sighed. "Look, I don't know what's going on here, but we need to all get out of here. I don't think you're going to last long here, looking like you do now."
Elissa moved away. "I'm staying here."
"Elissa, please!" Adam groaned. "We just want to help you."
"I love Skull." Elissa said bluntly. "I can't leave him. I won't leave him!"
She didn't notice the pain that burst into being in his eyes in that moment. All he said was, "I'll be back for you. I love you more than my own life."
"I love Skull." She shrugged. That was all there was to it.
Adam glanced at Rito. "Will you come with me?" Rito nodded, and the Black Ranger sighed momentarily. "Then let's go." He glanced over to Elissa. "I love you."
As they vanished, Elissa simply watched, ignoring the tiny voice in the very back of her mind that begged for Adam to come back to her.
The vampire lord glared at him. "You, young man, have changed. Why are you treating your pet with love?"
"Because she deserves it." Skull said flatly. He could see Sophie chained to the throne, but tried to keep his eyes away from her. "She's not a pet, she's a person."
Girard snorted. "She's a werewolf! She's not a person, and deserves no respect!"
Skull glared. "That's where you're wrong!"
"You love her, don't you?" Girard said bluntly. Skull couldn't deny it. His heart ached at it, however, because Sophie heard as well. He wanted to tell her the full truth, that he loved Elissa as a good friend, and only a tiny bit as anything more, and that she was the one true love of his life. But he couldn't, and didn't, dare. Girard ran his fingers down Skull's chest. "Pity."
"Get your hands away from me!" Skull pushed him away, and Girard shook his finger warningly in the young man's face.
"Do you want your lover to live?"
Skull growled, "Hurt her or Sophie, and you'll pay for it." Girard smiled frostily.
"Then lay down and let me have my way with you, or I shall have Goldar have some fun with them both!" Girard smiled coldly as Skull shook his head. "Goldar!"
Skull moaned, "Wait!"
The young vampire sighed. "D..don't call Goldar." his eyes flicked momentarily to Sophie. "I'll do what you want. Don't hurt either of them."
Girard grinned, pushing him down to the floor and smacking him hard. "That is for treating a were like a person." He tore open Skull's shirt with a very much overdone display. "I've wanted you for three weeks now." he growled. Skull did his best to ignore him, but there was little he could do but let it happen as Girard took out three weeks worth of anger and dark fantasies on him. When he was finished, Girard leaned back with a satisfied smile. "Goldar! Have fun!"
Skull twisted around and glared at the vampire. "I said no!"
It was worse than he thought, however, as Goldar entered, and Girard smiled. "He's all yours." The vampire laughed as Skull screamed and Goldar picked him and threw him over his shoulder.
"Thank you!" the winged monkey declared, carrying Skull away to his quarters.
Girard smiled darkly at Sophie. "Now you are all mine forever. No more sharing with him."
"Yes, Girard." the vampiress said meekly. To the casual observer, there were no bruises or marks visible on her, but her soul had been seared beyond belief.
The evil lord chuckled. "You are a good little pet. Aren't you?" he rather liked this new order. It gave him everything he'd ever wanted...well, not quite. He glanced down at Earth, to where Evanthe had been taken home by Billy. He would have everything shortly.
"Why do you look so much like me?" Tommy stared in shock and the former villain. Alpha had an answer for him, though.
"Tommy, it appears as if you two are twins!"
Both of them stared in shock at each other. Zordon spoke. "The spell used to put him in this state was one Master Vile uses, and can only be used on an infant. Apparently when you were born, Vile somehow captured you, Rito, and reshaped you mentally and physically into what you were. The spell doesn't last forever, and it appears to have worn off."
Adam sighed. "Congratulations, Tommy." There was no joy in his voice, none at all. Rocky looked at him.
"What happened up there, Adam?"
"I don't want to talk about it."
The Red Ranger frowned. "Are you sure?"
"Leave it alone, Rocky!"
Rocky flinched back, not used to that harsh tone in Adam's voice. "Sorry."
Kim stepped up a little. "Rito, I want to know something, to make sure what I saw was real."
"What?" Rito listened as Kim explained what she had see in Evanthe's memory, and nodded. "That happened. I couldn't let her get hurt anymore."
The Pink Ranger smiled. "You probably saved her life. From Alpha's scans, if she'd been hurt once more, she would have died. Not even vampires can take all that damage, not when half or more of it was inflicted by wood."
"How is she?" Rito wondered, feeling a deep concern.
"Not good." Kim looked down. "Not good at all."
He sighed. "I wish there was some way to help her." His voice was somewhat weak; the transformation and the subsequent examination had taken quite a lot out of him.
Tommy smiled briefly. "There may be. But only you can do it, if anyone can."
"We can try later," Alpha declared. "He needs to sleep!"
"You can come to my place. I've got an extra room." Tommy smiled. He was going to enjoy having a brother around, he believed. A missing piece of him had come home.
"I want you. .." the dark vampire purred. Billy's eyes blazed with hate.
"What part of get out of here didn't you understand!?"
Girard smiled. "Fine. I'll leave." He turned to where Evanthe lay. "With her, so Goldar can finish what he started."
"Don't you touch her!" Billy would do anything to make certain that Evanthe wasn't harmed again.
Girard grinned. "Then I want you, here and now."
"I just do." Girard declared. "It's either you or her."
Billy shook his head. "No, not her. She's been through too much, thanks to you!" Girard laughed, and Billy touched Evanthe's forehead gently. "Why did you do this to her?"
"Because I can." he stated flatly. "Now, if you don't want her to go, I suggest that you lie down on the floor." Girard watched with triumph as Billy obeyed. "Remove your shirt and pants." Billy did, his eyes locked endlessly on Evanthe's unmoving face. "Oh, yes!" Girard grinned. "You're even better looking than Skull was when I did this to him!" he started kissing Billy's chest
"You are slime."
The evil vampire smiled. "Your opinion matters very little to me. It's your body I want!" his hands started going lower.
"You're slime, Evanthe will recover, and I certainly hope that I'm the one who drives a stake into your black and twisted heart!" Billy declared. Girard's eyes darkened.
"I grow weary of your threats." Girard gagged him with a scrap of cloth, then slipped his mouth down to where his hand used to be. Billy flinched a little, and Girard slapped him. "Do not move!" He was enjoying himself a great deal, even knowing that Billy was doing his best to not be aroused by what he was doing. Girard whispered softly, "The less you fight me, the less pain you will be in." He nibbled on Billy's ear for a moment, loosening the gag just a touch as he massaged all over Billy. "You're fighting. Think of Evanthe doing this to you and then it will be over."
Billy snarled, "I would never think of her while you're this close to me. I wouldn't tarnish my thoughts of her like that!"
"I suggest that you enjoy this. The sooner you do, the sooner it's over."
"Once you leave, will you ever come back to bother us again?" Billy wanted to know. Girard shrugged, starting to kiss down his neck
"That's up to me. You know, I could bite you and control your actions." Girard hinted.
Billy went pale. "No!" He knew if Girard did that, there would be no one to protect Evanthe right then.
Girard's fangs flashed suddenly. "I think I will! Since you won't enjoy yourself!"
"No!" Billy shook his head. "Please, no!!"
Girard smiled. "Then you will enjoy yourself freely?" Billy nodded a tear-filled agreement. "If you don't, I will bit you, and keep you as my very own." His hands and mouth returned to the business they'd been at before. This time, however, Billy started doing things himself, making certain it ended swiftly. "Oh, you have such wonderful hands!"
"I practiced on my true love." Billy said shortly. The two of them indulged, or rather Girard indulged himself and Billy was forced to respond. Once they were done, Girard purred at him. "Oh, I think you'll see me again. Even Skull couldn't do what you just did."
Billy looked away from him. "Leave us alone. Can't you ever get enough of torturing us?"
"I love to torture people!" Girard retorted. "Look at Sophie, I'm still doing it after over a thousand years."
The Blue Ranger sighed. "You're a complete sadist. You can't take no for an answer for anything."
Girard laughed, then threw a blanket over him. 'Just think of what you just did. It's the same thing that I did to her, six hundred years ago!" With a laugh, he vanished, and Billy collapsed, tears falling out over both himself and Evanthe.
He didn't know how long he'd been crying, how long he'd been hurting, when a bolt of black lightning turned itself into Adam. "Billy?"
Adam frowned; he had just barely managed to pull himself out of a killer depression to come in for his shift watching over Evanthe. He kept himself convinced that it was just because of the power Girard had that Elissa was reacting as she was, and once he was taken care of, then she would go back to normal. "What happened?"
"D..did..he?" Adam didn't want to say just what he was thinking about, but Billy's nod was all he needed.
"Yes. And no." The Blue Ranger kept speaking. "He said...if I didn't. .he'd take Evanthe to Goldar."
Adam wrapped his arms around his friend, doing what he could to comfort him. "It's okay. The same thing has happened to me."
"He..Adam..he said he did it to Evanthe, six hundred years ago." Billy couldn't understand just why Evanthe had never spoken of this, had never even hinted that it might possibly have happened.
Adam growled. "He won't ever do it again."
"Why wouldn't she tell me!?" Billy wanted to know. Adam shook his head.
"The same reason I never told you guys that Ernon raped me." Adam said bluntly. Billy sighed.
"She had to live with that, for six centuries." It boggled his mind. He barely felt able to live with what he had just experienced.
Adam sighed. "I know how she feels, and how you are probably feeling."
"We have to help her," Billy murmured. And maybe she can help me then. ..if anyone can.
Adam told him, "Rito is going to try something. He and Vincent are on their way."
"Good." Billy reached for his clothes, forcing himself not to think about things.
"If you ever want to talk, let me know." Adam advised. Billy nodded quietly.
"When are they going to be here?"
Adam glanced out the window. "Soon. Vincent needed to help Rito first, help him find out who he truly is."
"Hope they hurry." Billy shivered. "He was threatening to take Evanthe to Goldar. Apparently Goldar doesn't care about how hurt she is."
He glanced over at Adam, whose voice held tinges of upset when he spoke. "They don't have feelings."
"We'll get Elissa back." Billy tried to reassure him.
Adam sighed. "If she wants to come back."
"What do you mean?"
Adam uttered the words quietly. "She said that she was in love with Skull."
"It's probably a love spell . Like they used on Evanthe in the first place."
The Black Ranger sighed. "She didn't know who I was."
"We'll find some way. There has to be one!" Billy bit his lip and Adam thought seriously about ripping off every body part Girard possessed.
"I hope so. I don't want to think about it if she's not under a love spell."
Both of them looked up when Rito spoke from the door. "Who?"
Rito glanced down a little. "She's not."
Adam's eyes flared. "What!?"
"Girard blocked all of her memories, and well. ..she and Skull have been spending a lot of time together, and they've both...sort of fallen..."
"What!?" This time it was more of a broken whisper. Rito glanced over at Billy.
"Is that all he can say?"
The Blue Ranger shook his head. "No, but he's sort of under pressure at the moment."
Rito nodded. "Oh, I found out my real name! It's David, David Trueheart."
"Nice to meet you, David." Billy said woodenly. "Can you help Evanthe?"
David glanced around. "I hope. Vincent's got some things with him. I think it's more ointment for her wounds.'
Billy glanced down at Evanthe, who had not moved so much as a muscle beyond her breathing in weeks. She had deliberately put herself into a deep coma, not wanting to live in the slightest. The only thing keeping her alive was the fact only wood could take her life. "Girard was here."
Vincent asked quietly, "What did he want?" Billy whispered quietly his answer, and Vincent put a hand on his shoulder. "You and me, outside, if you want to talk about it."
"Help Evanthe first."
Vincent nodded quietly. "Then the three of us are going to sit down and have a nice long chat." He glanced over at Tommy's newfound brother. "Ready, David?"
Billy leaned over and kissed Evanthe on the forehead. "You're going to come back to me, Evanthe. I just know it."
Vincent advised, "Remember, use the name she knows you by."
David nodded. "I will."
Billy glanced over to Adam. "I hope this works." He wasn't very much heartened by the fact Adam was just staring at the ground helplessly. Please, let her remember him soon. ..and let my Evanthe be all right.
With a swift intake of breath, Vincent began the spell, and David found himself inside the aching agony that was Evanthe's mind: or what was left of it.
"Go away..." he couldn't see her, but he heard her, the softest whisper of a voice possible, more like a breathe on the breeze than anything else.
He took a deep breath. this wasn't going to be easy. "It's me. Rito."
"R..Rito?" her voice was a little louder this time, slightly more hopeful.
"Yes. The new me, thanks to you."
"I don't understand." He quickly told her about his past, how he had been kidnapped when barely a baby, and raised and twisted to be evil. "Glad you have a life..a real one. .now. A second chance..
He kept on going. "I came to help you. First you, then your friend."
"Elissa. She has amnesia."
Obviously Elissa's name wasn't a good thing to say right now, for a first-class howl erupted from her. "Elissa. . .NO!! She. .she hurt me!!" David realized that Evanthe wasn't thinking anymore. In the depths of her mind, she had retreated and been reduced to the barest of reactions, the primitive part of a being's mind.
He would have to reason her out of it, appeal to the one thing that went beyond reactions...to the heart. "She didn't know what she was doing."
"They all hurt me..." Evanthe murmured. "Except you."
"Evanthe, please, think! You're the one who took Elissa there!" oh, great, David, toss some guilt onto her. Not like she didn't have enough.
Tears appeared to be falling. He could feel them, anyway. "No...no...
"Skull told you to." He tried to explain. "Skull was corrupted by Girard, just like Sophie's been controlled by him all of her vampire life."
Curiosity tinged the air now. "She..was controlled?"
"For over a thousand years. since she became a vampire. If anyone is to blame, it's Girard. For what happened to you, to Skull, to Elissa, and now to Billy?"
That did it. "B..Billy?" her voice sounded like her old self right now, but still scared and frightened.
"You're so lucky, to have someone who is willing to be raped to protect his wife."
He jumped back when Evanthe's form appeared in front of him, clad in night-black clothing and with an extremely angry expression on. "WHAT!?"
"He loves you so much that he let Girard do that to him, rather than let you suffer Goldar doing it to you again."
Her eyes widened. "Billy...did that for me?"
"Yes." David nodded. "I think Adam is talking to him, once he can say more than 'what'."
Tears sparkled in her eyes. "I would rather have died than let Billy go through that."
"He loves you. He'd give up the world for you. You're both lucky, to have each other.
she sighed. "Rito...David. I want to go back to the world, but I'm afraid if I do, they'll start it again. I can't block their magic, and they could make me love Skull again..or worse, Girard.'
He reached out and took her hand. "Don't be. When I left, there were two vampires up there plotting his murder, so they would both be free of him. Unfortunately, from what I understand, Girard's death is the only way to free Elissa.
"To be free..." she whispered it softly. "to be free from six hundred years of fear..." it was easy to see that was something that she had wanted for a very long time.
"Four free, and two very confused people."
He told her, "Skull has fallen for both Elissa and Sophie."
"Whoa...what have I missed!?"
"Elissa loves Skull."
The vampire clenched her teeth. "I think I need to come back. Just to find out what's going on!"
"You had better." He smiled briefly. "But remember to trust..."
She sighed. "I will..but I don't think I am going to want anyone near me for a while."
"Then you aren't going to heal. You need to try trusting again."
She glanced down at herself, and he could see the scars that were still on her in this dream-world. On her body they had faded, but here they were raw and red. What she meant by that was easily deduced. "She was being threatened also. Skull used that whip on her, after you were freed."
Tears dripped down Evanthe's face. "Elissa. .she'll never trust me again after this...and I don't deserve to be trusted."
"You do. And we'll find out if she trusts you once she remembers who she is."
Evanthe took a deep breath. "Thank you, David. For what you did in the palace and for helping me come back to myself.'
"My pleasure." he smiled. She glanced around briefly.
"Blood. ..I need blood!"
He touched her shoulder gently. "Don't worry about it. Vincent has you on an IV with blood. You don't have to worry."
She smiled. "Good. I'm going to go back now. I have things that need doing . A friend that needs saving. And a husband who needs my help, badly."
"I'll see you there."
As he vanished, Evanthe sighed deeply. The wounds to her soul had been deep, but she knew they would heal now. "Time to go back...to living."
"Not particularly." she said. "But that's going to change." She looked over for Billy, and saw him sitting near-by, talking with Adam quietly. She managed to catch just enough to hear that it was about what Girard had done to him. "Billy."
He turned quickly to her and ran over to hug her. "I love you!" It was their traditional greeting to one another: the verbal part anyway.
Evanthe gazed into his eye. "Billy, why did you let him do that to you? Don't you know I would have rather died than see you hurt like that?"
"I'd do it again to keep you safe." Billy said firmly. "I love you so much, and I've had someone to talk to about it." He glanced over at Adam, then back to her. "Someone who has been through something similar. I'm glad you're back."
"Not nearly as glad as I am to be back!" Evanthe declared. Adam sighed momentarily.
"One down, one to go."
Evanthe cracked her knuckles calmly. "And we'll get her back, too, Adam. And a certain vampire we all know and hate is going to find himself at the business end of a stake."
"I'll still have lost her." Adam murmured.
"You don't know that, Adam."
The Black Ranger glanced out the window. "She told me that she loves him."
"Does that mean she doesn't love you?"
"I don't know." Adam sighed. "I hope not."
"Then stop worrying until we know," Evanthe declared. She glanced up at the IV leading into her arm sighed. "Now, Billy, I really need some fresh blood. This is okay, but there is nothing like the fresh stuff. Want to go hunting?"
Vincent shook his head. "Tomorrow. You need some rest."
"I'm fine." Evanthe tried getting up, then suddenly found herself on the floor, her legs not strong enough to let her stand up. "Oops."
Vincent held a hand out to her. "You've been in a coma for three weeks."
"Three.. .weeks?" she couldn't believe it!
Billy sat next to her. "But you're out now."
"And I'm not going to go back in, ever. If I can help it."
Billy smiled. "You'd better not. That cot of ours isn't the most comfortable in the world."
Evanthe smiled very sweetly at him. "Why don't you come to bed, Billy?"
"I will." He smiled. "But let me see our guests out, okay?"
Evanthe nodded, and smiled as he escorted them out. Once he came back in, she had made preparations: removing the light gown she had on and sliding under the covers. "I love you, Evanthe Cranston." he smiled at her when he came back in.
"I love you too."
She wasn't very surprised when he slid under the covers and held her tightly, crying his heart out. "Billy, I love you..."
"I want to kill him!"
Evanthe did what she could to comfort him. "We will. And he'll pay for everything he's done."
Billy looked at her. "Evanthe...love me."
"Always." she kissed him gently, then gazed into his eyes. "Billy. . .there's something I haven't told you. In fact, there's a lot I haven't told you. You know I'm six hundred years old, but you have no idea of what I've done in those six centuries. And what's been done to me."
"I know Girard raped you six hundred years ago."
She stared at him. "How did you find that out? I've never told anyone, not even Elissa." Well, that wasn't quite true, but she certainly hadn't told anyone around here.
"He bragged about it. After he did it to me."
Evanthe sighed. "He didn't tell you how long I was with them after I became a vampire, did he?"
Billy shook his head, and she whispered softly, "Two hundred years."
He held her gently. "I'm glad you got away. I'm glad Vincent got away also."
Evanthe sighed. "So am I...wait..Vincent? What does he have to do with them?"
"Sophie is his elder twin sister." Evanthe's eyes went wide as Billy told her about the relationship between Vincent and Sophie, and how Sophie had been dominated all those years. "Poor Sophie..." For the first time, she truly felt sorry for the one who had turned her.
Billy took her hand. "Hey, first, let's worry about getting Elissa back."
"And on getting rid of Girard. Forever this time."
Her husband nodded. "I hope she's going to be all right."
"So do I, Billy. So do I."
There was silence between them for a few moments, then Billy said, "She thinks she's in love with Skull."
"When she gets her memory back, she'll realize the truth." Evanthe was certain of it.
Billy looked over at her. "Evanthe. ..what if she really does care for Skull that way?"
Evanthe took a deep breath. "I..I don't know."
He wrapped his arms around her and leaned into her. "Let's hope not. Let's hope not."