She sat on the bed, heels kicking the sides. She looked like an average teenager, blond hair shoulder length, blue eyes so similar to her siblings, a color that caught people's attention every time. Her fingers brushed the wooden objects littering the bedspread absentmindedly as she watched her brother pace back and forth, his fingers intertwined in the chain hanging around his neck.
"We haven't heard of a new nest of vamps before this," he said as he paced. "It's almost too cold for a new nest. What if it's just a rumor, or worst yet, a trap. I don't think you should go alone tonight and it's a warehouse... How cliché is that? Why anyone would think that a warehouse would make a suitable hideout is beyond me."
"We've discussed this to death," she shot back. "Drop it already. You've missed too much school and you need to take this makeup test tonight so you can keep your grades up for university. Just because the timing sucks doesn't change things. We can't sit on this nest if there really is one under the warehouse. I'm not letting you waste a chance at having a life after I…"
"Tarian...Stop! Just…Don't ," he interrupted her, not wanting to listen.
"Meredith," she said, soft and sad. She knew that he hated it when she talked so casually about her impending death but that didn't stop her from bringing it up on occasion. They couldn't pretend that she would go to college or university like he was. The day she awoke as a slayer sealed her fate and they both knew the statistics, the mortality rates and how much shorter her life became. If they were lucky she may have another year but he constantly worried that her time was much shorter than that.
"I promise I won't go looking for any trouble other than this nest tonight. Just, do good on your test and you can tell me how easy it was in the morning."
"You'd better not," he admonished. "I'm so not prepared for this. "
"I don't know why you are so worried about this test. You have the memory like an elephant, you never forget. 'When I was five years old my mom and dad left me with complete strangers so they could run away and …"
He tried to swat her across the head but she just ducked and grinned. Sisters... you couldn't do anything with them.
When his parents asked what he did to Tarian he asked who they were talking about. He assumed it may have been the old crotchety neighbor three doors down he may have pissed off or maybe it was one of his distant cousins they referred to; he was notoriously bad with names and faces and people in general. It caught him off guard when his mother slapped him and stormed out of the room while his father looked impossibly sad.
When asked, Rodney McKay would grudgingly admit that he had one younger sister. Not that he would tell anyone that Jeannie regularly called him Meredith or that when she was ten and he twenty, she made him play house to make up for missing her birthday or the fact she made him wear one of his mother's dresses at the same time.
She was the only family he had.
Before his sixteenth birthday he could have expounded more about his family and the strange legacy he belonged to.
When Jeannie told him she was pregnant, fear sickened him and to hide that fear he struck out, condemning his sister for her decision to quit school and keep the baby. All he could think about after she kicked him out was how her unborn daughter probably wouldn't make it to her twentieth birthday even though he couldn't have told anyone why he thought that.
He stood in front of the fresh grave. Wind nipped at his jacket but he didn't feel it. He didn't feel anything at this point.
"'Tarian Jennifer McKay. Until the day break, and the shadows flee away.' That is a very beautiful saying. Do you think dear old mom had that picked out the day they found out she was the slayer? Or did they wait a week? Hell, it could be a family saying for all I know."
He flinched and turned his head slightly from the epitaph of the grave marker. From the corner of his eye he could see the man, an ordinary-looking man in a dark coat standing just off to the side. But Meredith was a McKay, descended from the First Slayer, and learned of the darker side of the world at his mother's knee. Out of habit his fingers intertwined with the chain of his cross, not that the holy relic alone could stop a demon like the one next to him.
He had nothing to fear at this point from this particular demon, dark hair and gray eyes letting him blend in. The only reason he was standing next to Meredith was because of a debt and, if everything worked out right 'Meredith' wouldn't walk out of the cemetery, Rodney McKay: normal childhood genius would. He was going to leave everything (magic, demons, dead slayer sister) behind in the grave in front of him.
She never came home that night or any night after that like she had promised. His father had woken him up after only a couple hours stuttering about a fire and a den of werewolves that had lain in wait for the slayer. The firefighters had found her burned body in the warehouse surrounded by a half dozen other unidentified individuals. The following week was a blur of grieving and funeral plans and of other plans whispered behind supposedly locked doors. Somehow, inexplicably he was here, doing something he never wanted to do.
"You sure you want to do this yourself Meredith?" the demon asked.
"No," Meredith admitted. "But she asked me to do it."
The man crouched down and laid a single finger on the freshly turned dirt. Meredith refused to look away as the ground shuddered and boiled until a dirty casket broke the surface. It took everything he had to not turn and run away when the demon lifted the lid revealing Tarian in all her ruined glory.
He couldn't bear to touch her but the demon had no such compulsions. He reached in and removed the small objects and trinkets laid out on the body to preserve it. He also reached in and withdrew a chain with a twisted and half-melted cross before stepping away from the body.
Meredith picked up the can of gasoline and poured it over the remains. She had been very clear in her instructions. She had made him promise that when she died he would make sure there was no body to desecrate, no to corpse to steal. With half remembered blessings falling from his lips Meredith Rodney McKay struck a single match and dropped it.
The fire burned hotter and quicker than it should have while the grass all around them stayed perfectly green. With the last words of blessing the flames fell silent and the constant breeze teased ashes into the air. The demon closed the casket and returned it back into the ground. Meredith watched it sink below the surface before turning around and threw up.
He felt cold hands support him as he gasped, tears streaming down his face as another round of nausea turned his stomach. They sat in the cemetery for a long time as the demon went from supporting him to just holding him as he shook.
Finally, he shook his head and tried to pull away. The demon didn't let go, just made shushing noises and carded his hands through Meredith's blond curls.
"We might as well get the last part of the deal over with so I'm free of this stupid debt, human," he whispered softly. Meredith laughed a little as he stopped struggling.
He reached out and unclasped the cross from around Meredith's neck. Carefully he added Tarian's cross, twisted and black, next to the shiny silver cross that once matched. He grasped the two crosses in his hand tightly before slipping them both under his shirt.
"I'm ready," he told the grass, not looking at the demon holding him. "I just want this over with so I can get on with the rest of my life."
"Yes," he growled, looking up. "You are not backing out of this. I want to forget about this whole mess. I need to forget her, forget everything. My parents plan to send me England to become a Watcher so I can train more girls just to watch them die. Jeannie overheard them, came running and crying because she doesn't want me to disappear too. Just... please... take this all away."
"I can't take away your memories forever, Meredith." The demon sounded regretful, surprising both of them. "As much as you want that, I can only borrow them."
"I can't take this. I'm going crazy and I miss her and I am so sick of all of this. I can't take this…"
The demon wiped the tears from his face and smiled gently. "As far as you will remember, you will only have one sister and you get to leave magic behind. It will give you peace for a while."
"What are you going to do after, if you don't mind me asking?" the demon asked curiously as he drew Meredith closer.
"Our father taught us about the stars when we were little. I figured space is probably as far from hell as you can get. I just want..."
The demon hushed him again and Meredith stopped talking. A thumb wiped tears away one last time, the ghost impression of invisible talons scraped the raw skin. He forced his body to relax and let the demon work his own magic.
The demon held him still, cradling his face with a gentle hand and with a single kiss stole away the memory of the Slayer Tarian Jennifer McKay.