Ash and Mary-Lynnette: Those Who Favor Fire is a short story written by L. J. Smith. The story reintroduces the soulmate couple Ash Redfern and Mary-Lynnette Carter, approximately one year after their separation in Daughters of Darkness. Seeking her to bring her to a Circle Daybreak sanctuary, Ash, who has worked hard to atone for his past sins, makes his way to Massachusetts by helicopter, where Mary-Lynnette is attending college. However, upon reuniting with Mary-Lynnette, Ash has a new problem on his hands: a dragon following the helicopter. The tale is told in third person, with the alternating viewpoints of Ash, Mary-Lynnette and a new character, Devi Srinivasa.
The title of the story comes from a quote by the poet Robert Frost.
"This is, at last, the continuation of the story of Ash Redfern and Mary-Lynnette Carter. For those who haven't read the original, or don't remember, although they are soulmates, the stargazer Mary-Lynnette sent the vampire Ash packing when she heard about the sins of his past. Ever since, a reformed Ash has been trying to make amends. But will it ever be enough for Mary-Lynnette? And what's on the disk that Mary-Lynnette's friend claims will save humankind?"
Ash, now living at the town of Harmony, is established as a full member of Circle Daybreak, even having received a pendant of honor from Lady Hannah Snow herself. However, Ash's main concern is for his soulmate, Mary-Lynnette, who is currently off at college. He reminisces about his early life, including becoming an adult after killing a vampire twice his size at age 12, his former promiscuity and finally his meeting with Mary-Lynnette, whom he refers to as his "angel". He is implied to be mildly jealous of Quinn, whose soulmate accepted him more readily despite Quinn's mistakes.
As the world is coming under attack from Night World forces, and in particular Mary-Lynnette's college, Harvard, Ash seeks out Thierry Descouedres to find her. Kneeling and regardless of who sees him, he begs Thierry to allow him to go retrieve Mary-Lynnette, citing that although all the military helicopters are off battling the dragons laying waste to the world, Thierry's private helicopter is still available. However, Thierry sadly informs Ash that he has given the helicopter to Sarah Strange. Shocked, Ash recalls that he had previous insulted Sarah, as well as her soulmates Mal Harman and Kierlan Drache. Disgusted with himself, he approaches Sarah, and asks if he can explain why he wants the helicopter, which Sarah allows; Ash is briefly impressed by the girl's beauty and although he could try to use charm on her to get his way, he decides against doing so. Ultimately, realizing Sarah's fear over what's happening, Ash walks away, intending to save Mary-Lynnette another way, but Sarah stops him, insisting he have the helicopter. The two argue back and forth over who should have it; Quinn suggests they flip a coin. Sarah ultimately asks Ash to tell her about his soulmate; he describes Mary-Lynnette's love of forests and plant life at night, and how she refused to allow him to make her a vampire as well.
Apologetically, Ash tries to explain how he had been raised at a vampire enclave, but this only serves to frighten Sarah, appalled at the idea of human servants, even with Quinn trying to defend his friend. Briefly wishing his sister Rowan were there, Ash tries again to explain himself to Sarah. He tells Sarah about his soulmate in great detail, citing her as being "kind and brilliant", and how he feels she needs him now. Sarah agrees to give him the helicopter after hearing this, especially as Ash never described what Mary-Lynnette looked like; she feels this is proof that Ash is truly Mary-Lynnette's soulmate. Exceedingly grateful, Ash departs the sanctuary; Sarah requests that he call her and let her know if Mary-Lynnette is all right. Ash appreciates Sarah, but he mentions that her companion, Kierlan, is a fellow "rogue" like himself, and dislikes him.
Meanwhile, at Harvard, Mary-Lynnette had been thrown to the floor of her dorm by a dragon assault; she is surprised but uninjured. Removing her sound-blocking headphones, noticing the unusual silence of the campus, she leaves her dorm, only to discover nobody present, and flames darkening the skies. She is shocked that she did not hear anything, even with the headphones, as she still had heightened senses from her encounters with Ash and his sisters. Having prepared for this, Mary-Lynnette changes clothes, donning a more suitable emergency outfit and taking a duffle bag which she had ready for the coming apocalypse, containing emergency rations, supplies and weaponry. Starting to tear up, she then removes a special phone from a safe in her closet and makes a call.
Ash boards Thierry's helicopter, musing over its luxurious interior. He is joined by a fully equipped ex-Coastguard crew and two werewolves, Lupe Acevedo and Remy, both bearing silver collars; Lupe's styled with Iliana Dominick's flower symbol for The Wild Powers and Remy's styled with a silver rose for Thierry Descouedres. Also joining them is a shapeshifter, Georgie Douglas, who informs Ash that if Mary-Lynnette is captured, they will likely bring her to an island enclave in the Atlantic Ocean, hence the former Coastguard members. Ash remembers helping clear out those enclaves; Georgie hears his thoughts and mention it as being a "proud day". Ash is concerned about this. Contacting the pilots (two vampires), he explains to them the experimental S.S.O (Soulmate Search Operation); the soulmate with them will use the silver cord to pinpoint the other soulmate's general location. Although never done in an actual search before, the pilots Kourtney Raleigh and Tracee Simms agree to use this method to find Mary-Lynnette. Although Ash is at first doubtful due to their ages, the two pilots reveal they have won "the Distinguished Flying Cross", humbling Ash.
Mary-Lynnette makes her way across the campus, alerted by a cry for help. It is revealed that her special phone is a Night World phone, but it mysteriously is not picking up; Mark, the Redfern sisters and Mary-Lynette's father all have one, and their silence disturbs Mary-Lynette. Entering a destabilized hall, she comes upon a girl trapped in a teacher's office. The girl, Devi Srinivasa, reveals that the dragons used their signature Call on the campus residents to lure them outside (likely the dragon then conducted a mass slaughter of the campus); having been trapped by falling bookcases, Devi was able to resist also going. Mary-Lynnette frees the girl, who accompanies her out of the building, retrieving a disk before departing. Devi tells Mary-Lynnette that the office had been her mother's, and that the disk contains something instrumental for stopping the destruction of the world; Mary-Lynnette however remains disturbed by the concept of the dragon Call.
With night coming on, Mary-Lynnette senses they are not alone, and warns Devi to be ready to run. The two hide inside a hole created by rubble; they soon discover they have been followed by three Night People, who are distinctly looking for Mary-Lynnette. As they come upon the girls, Mary-Lynnette maces the first guy, while Devi, who has been trained in martial arts, lands two kicks on the pair of men. They proceed to run, but find themselves surrounded as they arrive at a playground; twenty Night World operatives total, as well as a distant dragon. The men make crude remarks, but Mary-Lynnette responds with cutting wit, earning Devi's admiration. As the attackers close in, Mary-Lynnette thinks of Ash, calmly remembering his features and attributes.
At that moment, the helicopter arrives and Ash throws down a rescue basket; Mary-Lynnette is then pounced on by one operative, Mannie, as she screams for Devi to get into the basket. Ash descends and knocks Mannie away from his soulmate. Mary-Lynnette boards the basket, while Ash grabs and throws Devi into the basket as well despite her yells for her disk. To Mary-Lynnette's horror, Ash remains on the ground to fight. Overwhelmed, Mary-Lynnette passes out.
Ash is able to fight off the operatives and boards the helicopter with Devi's disk, climbing up a swinging rope; Devi protectively takes it from him, noting Ash's good looks and comparing him to the Hindu monkey-hero, Hanuman. Ash, worried, attempts to awaken Mary-Lynnette, but she is not revived until splashed with water. Despite her weakness, Mary-Lynnette manages to sit up and question Ash, who after a moment embraces her.
The soulmate homing had worked, allowing Ash to find Mary-Lynnette, who proceeds to yell at him for being reckless. He soon drops his bravado however at Mary-Lynnette's irritation; she in turn thanks him for saving her and Devi, although Ash reveals they are short on time. Devi then reveals that her mother had sent her images and faxes from Antarctica that may help Circle Daybreak against the Night World. Ash instructs the pilot to be informed, and that Sarah will soon be getting the helicopter back.
At Mary-Lynnette's insistence, the two retreat to a screened-off area to talk. Ash asks her if his time making amends was enough, whereas Mary-Lynnette reveals that Thierry has been keeping her up to date with Ash's reformation; she herself forgives him, although she admits true forgiveness needs to come from his victims. The two quibble, with Ash demanding she give him back his "heart"; the two proceed to reconcile telepathically. Ash admits that he loved her enough to do anything that would ensure her safety, even if she didn't end up with him. When Mary-Lynnette berates herself for sending him away, Ash stops her, insisting it was "the best thing [she] could have done for [him]". He then presents Mary-Lynnette with a ring, shaped like a "white flower" with diamond-encrusted petals, and proposes to her. Mary-Lynnette happily agrees to marry him, providing Ash with her father's wedding ring, which she wears around her neck. Ash decides to have the helicopter pilot marry them right there, and the two kiss passionately, Ash revealing that he gave up human blood consumption for her. However, they are interrupted by an alarm and then Georgie, who informs them that they have orders to land or even abandon the vehicle: the helicopter is being tailed by a dragon. However, despite the odds, Ash is determined not to give up.
The story ends on a continuation note.
- It is revealed that Mary-Lynnette has retained a trace of the Redfern family's blood in her body, as her senses are said to be enhanced because of it.
- The dragon call ability is also featured in the short story Brionwy's Lullaby.
- The full poem by Robert Frost, from which the story's title comes, goes as follows:
- Some say the world will end in fire;
- Some say in ice.
- From what I've tasted of desire I hold with those who favor fire.
- But if it had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate
- To know that for destruction ice
- Is also great
- And would suffice.