Dead & Living

Christmas In October

All Hallows' Evening.

All Hallows' Eve

Better known to most as Halloween.

While I enjoyed Halloween as a child — what kid did not enjoy gorging themselves on chocolate? — but it was as a vampire did it become my Christmas. No other night of the year could I walk down a random street and introduce myself as a vampire to anyone I came across without them screaming and running in terror when they caught sight of my fangs. Granted I'd explain that they were a cleverly crafted prosthetic that a dentist had been kind to donate on a contraption I had fastened myself so I could retract at will, but it was such a relief to not hide for a few precious hours.

If someone did comment of my lack of eating or drinking, I would laugh and jest I was a vampire that did require food or water and they remarked how devoted I was to maintaining my persona. I would have the same results when I asked for permission to enter a home. So long as I took care not to display my strength and speed, I was human if only in appearance for a night.

Just as my wise Wilhelmina had pointed out, i had found a suitable strategy. It was not one that guaranteed success each time, but I did not need one hundred percent. I might be rejected by many women, rejection being anything less than an invitation to accompany them home, but I played the numbers and I found one that was willing. Funny, my undead body was living far much more than my live body had even thought remotely possible.

Wilhelmina assured me that I had more or less mastered the basics, but there were still finer more subtle details I required. At her side I learned to perfect my accent as well as my grasp of the language of love so that even a native of France would be convinced. As much as humans think themselves far evolved from apes, the actions and positions of the body were crucial parts to communication, though more on a subconscious level, and Wilhelmina taught me to determine the more illusive details of body language much more acutely than I had before.

Wilhelmina also coached me on picking up clues to a person's personality. For example, a women who color coordinated her lipstick to the color of her shoes was most likely concerned with appearances and a good approach would be to comment on her dress. But like many things, it was more of an art than a science. I simply had to learn gauge and be quick on my feet if an assumption proved to be false.

It was not long before that the correct actions and words became second nature to me and I began to second guess myself less and less. Often acting as a young french couple on holiday from Marseille, no human could resist our charm. While we might convince a couple here or there to join us for the night, it was not always the case. Wilhelmina and I usually opted to simply share for the most part, Wilhelmina feeding from her neck while I drifted down to the femoral. I say usually because Wilhelmina was not always in the mood to share. It did not matter as I'd usually fed while Wilhelmina had her fun and I would with her later.

If you're curious about how I felt senselessly killing humans for sport, I did not. It was mostly due to the fact we did not kill them. While I'm certain Wilhelmina simply thought I was still uneasy about ending the their lives, I convinced her we were wasting precious time disposing of the bodies. Not to mention we were in one of the biggest cities in the world with the largest population. You just never knew when someone would be in the wrong place at the wrong time and find us in compromising positions.

It was just easier to feed, have your fun, and then glamor them to forget. Long story short, if there is no dead body then there is no crime and it went double if the body was still alive and acting as everything was right in the world

That wasn't to say we did not kill at all. If some strange occurrence, we were ambushed in an alley by muggers and gangs and they were eying Wilhelmina hungrily, then it could be guaranteed they would not be seen again. It was then that Wilhelmina taught me how to cover my tracks should the occasion arise.

And it did arise.

On October thirty-first.

We had just come from feeding on a young couple in Harlem when we passed a small comic shop I frequented on the Upper West Side. Atomic Comics was a coffee / comic shop that served many items one would find at Starbucks, but at much more lower price and with names like The Batmanacunno or the Megamanmochiato. While I might have enjoyed a nice cup of coffee, if only for the smell, I'd settle for a comic book and little light flirting with Johanna W. Santo the counter girl.

Johanna had a Gothic style of dress. While you would not give her a second glance on Halloween, you could always catch her wearing black clothes like black dresses and t-shirts, mini-skirts, and black make up. Her jewelry was also goth, often skulls and bones mixed with other object associated with death. From our conversations together, her studded neck choker is one of her favorite pieces of jewelry which I found strange. What person would wear something that resembled a dog collar?

Johanna had shoulder-length black hair that glistened in the right light, as if slightly wet, with bangs and long strands running down her jaw that framed her face perfectly. She also had the most striking electric blue eyes I had seen,which stood out that much more with the dark make up she tended to favor, and freckles across her nose that she assured were genuine and sprayed on like some people tended to do. Johanna was just slightly shorter than I was, though it was difficult to tell as she often wore high heeled leather boots.

Wilhelmina did not share my, or Adrian's taste, for comics, but she entered with me.

Like many music stores, there were racks upon racks of popular comic books arranged in rows and separated by genre. Normally there would be various cardboard standees of famous comic book characters like Batman and Superman, but instead were famous villains from classic horror films like Freddy Kruegar and Mike Myers to keep with the holiday.

Fake cobwebs clung to the racks and plastic spiders and bats hung on wires. Fake blood splotches were splattered on the glass display cases that held vintage issues from World War Two along with a couple of mock severed hands clinging to them as if the owner had been ripped away with great force. The coffee shop half of the store was similarly decorated and patrons were in costumes, superheroes mostly, sipping coffee and reading or conversing about various subjects some would label as geeky.

"Hey, Dom!" cried a voice.

I turned just as I was embraced. Johanna's scent was so intoxicating, like sweet cinnamon and peaches baking in the sun in the height of spring. When I had first met her, it was almost if I had traveled back to when the faintest scent of human made me abandon all self control. I was quite proud when she hugged me when we first met and I did not drain her there in the shop as the patrons sipped their coffees and read comics, though I had to fake a coughing fit so I could retract my fangs without her noticing.

She pulled away and I saw she was wearing black rabbit ears, playboy ears to be exact, that bent and moved with faux piercings. "The Easter Bunny's goth sister?"

"Cousin." she corrected. "What are you supposed to be?"

I was wearing my bespoke suit and hat with a red dress shirt and black tie. I also carried my cane to add to the flair. I open my arms wide like an actor, "Take a look for yourself."

"Humphrey Bogart?"

I smiled brightly and she caught sight of my fangs. "Guess again."

"Oh, a vampire." She eyed my fangs with interest. "They look so real."

I chuckled. "They are real. Well, real fake teeth anyway. I have a friend who's dad is dentist. I just filed them down and went to town with denture glue."

Johanna saw I was not alone. "Oh hello."

"Hello." Wilhelmina said calmly.

"Sorry." I motioned between them. "Wilhelmina, this is Johanna. Johanna, this is Wilhelmina."

"Pleasure to meet you." Johanna hugged her tightly.

"Friendly." Wilhelmina commented, a bit surprised.

"Yeah, she dose that."

"Sa senteur. . ." Wilhelmina said to me as Johanna released my maker. "Je vois pourquoi tu tenu à venir là."

"What?" asked Johanna.

"She likes your perfume." I smiled. "Wilhelmina is here from France."

"Really?"

"Oui." Wilhelmina said with a slight accent. "I met Dominick when I first came here on holiday."

"Oh," Johanna's smiled dipped a bit. "And you two are dating?"

"We were about to when she showed me a picture of her dad." I chuckled, pretending to sound embarrassed. "Turns she's my half sister."

"What now?" She looked at Wilhelmina with interest.

"Dominick's father met my mother only a year before he met Dominick's mother and married her." She sounded convincingly coy. "My mother did not . . . mind showing affection. "

"Oh." Johanna's cheeks flushed red.

This story of our faux family was our silent way of communicating. If Wilhelmina said she had met me in America, it meant Wilhelmina gauged the human in question, Johanna, was most likely a bit conservative and would not bed us both. But if Wilhelmina said I met her in France, then the opposite was the message. As to how she knew or not, she had yet to tell me. I'd just have to chalk it up to something I would pick up on in a few centuries.

Honestly, I may have desired Johanna, but something held me back from acting on that desire. At least it prevented me from going at it directly. Had Johanna been a plain human, she had to be something more with that kind of alluring scent, I probably would've closed the deal already.

Wilhelmina excused herself, asking Johanna where the foreign comics sat, and I followed Johanna back to the register. We chatted for a bit about our plans for the rest of the night.

"Oh, just a typical night." I said nonchalantly. "Finding a cute girl to drain."

"Really?" she said with mock sarcasm.

"Yeah," I smiled warmly and placed a hand over hers, enjoying how warm and smooth her hand was. "So when do you get off?"

"Sorry, short, pale, and dead." said a voice. "She's helping me take inventory after we close up. Should take all night."

I turned to see the owner, staring daggers with her hands on her hips, Katherine Korbin.

I suppose to anyone else, Katherine would appear quite imitating. At six feet tall and with her face decorated in Native American war paint, even Wilhelmina would second guess herself angering her for a moment. She wore an authentic looking rawhide vest that had ravens painted on by hand. The vest allowed her to show off her flawlessly smooth cinnamon colored skin with wampum tribal armbands on her biceps.

Her long strong legs and small feet were encased in the same leather looking material as her vest. Her long black hair was tied back under a red bandanna. She had a broad handsome face with full and rounded lips, a prominent nose and cheekbones, and her brown deep set eyes starred volumes upon volumes of warning.

Katherine recognized me for what I was the moment I entered her shop barely a week I was released from the apartment and I recognized her as a shifter. We did not get along well. If it wasn't for Johanna I would have found another shop to visit and I suppose I should have anyway, but Johnna's scent kept calling me back. On the bright side, my frequent visits to the shop were rewarded with information from Johanna. Katherine's great grandparents were from the Shinnecock Reservation on Long island, which explained why her costume was so convincing.

Wilhelmina had explained that many of shifters and Weres in the country had root in many Native American tribes. It explained all stories of humans becoming animals. It was ruse to conceal their second nature from the the pure human members of the tribe. So assuming that shifters and Weres had roots in Native American tribes, then it could be assume a good portion of the people living on ther reservations today were as well. And since it was not require to stay, it was not far fetched that some would leave and open comic shops in town.

"Well, if it isn't Little Raven." I said dryly.

"Hey, Jo." said Katherine, her eyes unrelenting. "Can you get Jimmy's order from the back. He said he'd be stopping by."

"Um, sure." Johanna gave me an apologetic shrugged. "To be continued I guess."

I smiled. "I'll be waiting."

Katherine hardly waited a second before growling at me. "Stay away from her!"

I raised an eyebrow. "And if I don't?"

She lean forward and whispered. "Let's say I won't be calling a butcher for the kind of steak I want."

I shot my head forward like snake and hissed. "I'd love to see you try."

"Stay away from Johanna." She reached into vest and showed the grip of a stake. "Or you will."

I held up my cane, twisted the handle, and displayed an inch of the hidden blade. "Mine's bigger."

She balked at the sight of the hidden blade.

Or so I thought

That was when I felt something metallic pressed against the small of my back. Then I heard the unmistakeable click of a gun's hammer being thumbed back. "Nice costume, Kate." said a rough a voice.

Despite me being in mortal danger, Katherine looked upset. "Not again."

I felt the mugger pushed what was most likely a gun harder against me. "You know the drill, Kate. Empty the register. Make it quick !"

"You haven't been doing this long have you?" I asked.

"What?" he growled.

"Well, you cocked the gun too early." I said.

"What?" he asked again.

"Shove a gun against someone's back that's shock enough." I said as Katherine slowly emptied cash into a bag. "You wanna save the gun cocking until later. In case the gun itself doesn't scare the guy." I reached into my breast pocket, something a professional would not allow, and lit a cigarette. "Now that you've already done that, what's your plan? Shake it at me?"

I heard loose pieces of metal click and jangle mixed with his heavy and nervous breathing. "Ah-ah . . . ah."

"See? Not very effective is it?"" I blew a small puff of pink smoke. "But if you saved it until later. Then boom, you got escalation. And that, my friend, is the name of the game."

"You've done this before?" asked the asinine thief.

"No, but its basic logic." I asked Katherine. "I'll make you a deal."

"What kind of deal?"

"Not you." I said coolly. "Katherine?"

"Yes?" she asked.

"I take care of this guy and you agree to run me a tab." I offered. "Deal?"

"Okay fine." she nodded uneasily. "I can live with that."

"And stop interfering with Johanna and me." I added.

"No." she said firmly.

I shrugged. "Can't blame a guy for trying." I then spoke to the robber, who was so confused to the entire situation. "You know, you should have really gotten in and out."

The robber probably would have said something akin to 'huh?', had I not stepped to the side and snatched the gun, a snub-nosed pistol I guessed, faster than he thought possible. I saw he was wearing a Guys Fawkes mask, I had read and seen V For Vendetta, with a wool cap on his head.

Had I been alone with him I would have simply turned and fed from him until he no longer moved, but I'm sure Katherine would have objected to having to remove bloodstains from the carpet. Then there were a few patrons sitting in the corner completely engrossed in their comics. They most certainly would have protested as well, albeit with much more screaming. Plus I had already had my fill for the night and did not wish to stain my suit, though I suppose I could have mended that with another trip to Grégoire's.

I gazed into his eyes, the mask's eye slits allowing my glamor to function. "Tell me," I asked as I held up the gun. "Is this loaded?"

"Yeah," he said lazily.

"Then I'm going to keep it." I said, laying the weapon on the counter which Katherine snatched up. "I wouldn't want you to hurt yourself."

"Thanks."

"Now, have you robbed this place before?" Katherine did not say 'not again' because it had been the first occurrence.

"Yeah. Just last week."

"Do you still have the money?"

"Most of it." he padded his denim jacket.

"Can you give it to me?" I asked gently. "I forgot my wallet."

He reached into jacket and handed me a roll of bills. "Spent the rest on dope."

"That's alright." I assured, but then I had an idea. "Do you still have some?"

I saw Wilhelmina eying me with curiosity as the robber handed me a plastic bag filled with white powder. No doubt she was waiting to see what I did next. I took the bag and looked to Katherine before I looked back to the human, "You know this is illegal right?"

"Yeah," he agreed.

"Then I want you to go to the nearest precinct and turn yourself in." I told him, handing the bag back to him.

"But they'll lock me up." he protested as if it was a minor annoyance. "Third time in six months."

"But that way they won't catch you for robbing stores." I reasoned sweetly.

"Good point." he agreed.

Without another word, he strode out of the store. Wilhelmina's eyes followed him for a moment before returning to me. She raised an eyebrow and I understood she had become bored and wished to leave. I gave a her a nod and turned to Katherine.

I could not have timed it better. Johanna emerged from the back, a small brown box under each arm. "Took me a while, but I found it."

"Johanna?" I asked. "Can you get me those copies of V for Vendetta?"

She looked to the shelf behind her. "Which volume?"

"All of them." i said. I might have read them, but had never gotten around to actually buying them.

To Katherine's credit, she upheld her part of the bargain and agreed to run me a tab. She even went as far to not charge me, though I was certain she just wanted me to leave as soon as possible. I bid her and Johanna goodbye and assured I'd return soon, winking to Johanna as I did.

"That girl is not human." Wilhelmina said the second we were outside. "The young one that seems to favor black."

"Really?" I asked. "She isn't a Shifter."

"No." she agreed. "But her scent is not entirely human either."

"Is there such a thing as a half shifter?"

"Humans can become something akin to that if bitten." Wilhelmina frowned "But none of the ones I have come across have ever possessed such an enticing aroma." Wilhelmina seemed to be on the verge of an answer. "Although, I once met in Normandy as I hunted in the forest . . ."

Then there was a slight breeze and I was overwhelmed by the most ambrosial mouthwatering titillating spicy sweet scent that I would ever have the privilege to smell. It was if someone had combined warm chocolate, fresh cinnamon, perfectly ripe and season tropical fruits, and a bouquet of the sweetest flowers in the world at the height of spring. I was suddenly avariciously ravenous and my eyes scanned my surroundings as my nose tried to ascertain the source of such an alluring and appetizing aroma. Wilhelmina also appeared to be captivated by the scent and sniffed the air as I did.

Then we both settled to our rear and we turned.

She was beautiful.

Her hair was long, flowing freely in the slight breeze, and hair so celestially blonde it almost glowed like pure sunlight. Her eyes were just as exquisite, large and almond shaped, with the most entrancing shade of emerald greed. Her bosom was perfect as was the rest of her body. She possessed just the right amount of curve to her hips and her legs were long and strong. Her skin had an odd, but still divinely, quality to it. She was pale as milk, but glossy and thin that reminded me a cluster of cherries ; like if I was to bite her, sweet juice would fill my mouth. My mouth watered at the thought how her blood would taste.

I also saw she wore an orange and black striped knit dress with sleeves that reached the crook of her elbows and ended mid thigh. On her feet, she wore matching polished high heels. She carried a Styrofoam cup that steam rose from it and the smell told me it was hot chocolate.

She smiled at us, a little anxiously, revealing dazzling white teeth. "Hello, you must be Dominick."

I inched forward, Wilhelmina doing the same to my right. "Do I know you?"

"No." she said, taking the smallest of steps back. "But Johanna likes to talk about you."

"You don't say." I inched forward again.

"My name is Lysandra." She gave me nervous, but still dazzling, smile. "But most just call me Sandra."

"Beautiful name." I said absent minded.

"I'm glad you got rid of that robber. Last time he did that, he gave Johanna such a fright." Lysandra said, still smiling but continuing to inch back as Wilhelmina and I inched forward."I wasn't sure how to thank you."

"I can think of a way." I said hungrily.

I noticed her hand was trembling slightly as she sipped her hot chocolate, but she still smiled brightly as she did. "I know I shouldn't have left her alone, but it was only for a few minutes. Plus I absolutely love hot chocolate."

"I haven't had one of your kind in centuries." Wilhelmina said, looking forlorn and hungry.

I licked my lips and asked, my voice ragged with hunger. "What are you?"

"Faerie." Wilhelmina whispered almost to herself.

"A fairy?" I asked, my eyes not leaving Sandra.

Sandra nodded uneasily, still inching back. "Yes."

"I've only had one before." Wilhelmina said, her voice dreamy as she recalled. "They are very difficult to catch."

My body betrayed me. I must have made an involuntary jerk, one of my fingers possibly twitched in anticipation, or Sandra took note of a slight tick in my eye. Otherwise Wilhelmina and I would have drained every last drop the fairy had in her sumptuous body.

I pounced, intending drive her to the ground, but light shimmered around her and I caught naught but air. I gazed around frantically to see where she had gone, but I only saw Wilhelmina doing the same, looking disheartened at losing such elusive and opulent prey.

"Damn it!" I pounded the concrete floor with a fist, sending a small puff of powder into the air around a small crater. I felt a thorb of pain and saw I had small shards of rock protruding from my hand, drawing little drops of blood. "Great."

"It will heal." Wilhelmina said as I stood, though she hardly sounded concerned. In truth, I was more upset at the lost of the fairy.

"So that was a fairy?" I asked. Now that she was gone, I could think clearly. "I always thought fairies were smaller."

"Smaller?"

"Like Tinkerbell in Peter Pan."

"Peter Pan?" Wilhelmina appeared uncertain to my meaning. "Tinkerbell?"

"The fairy in Peter Pan." I shook my head as I recalled something. "Well, technically she's a pixie, but I always though fairies were the same. About the size of a doll with little wings, mischievous personalities, and in tune with nature."

"Those are merely the result of human embellishing and exaggeration over the centuries." Wilhelmina frowned. "Tales passed down from generation to generation, each teller adding their own flair until the end result hardly resembles the original."

I caught sight of an alley and walked until I reached the center, sniffing the air as I did so. I was aware of Wilhelmina following only a few steps behind me as her light footsteps, impossible for any human ear to catch, against the ground. I growled when realized the fairy was gone without the slighest clue to where she had gone.

"You dropped this." Wilhelmina said. "Ryuu's gift."

"The fairy, Sandra." I took my cane from her. "She's gone."

"It certainty seems that way." Wilhelmina actually pouted. "As I said, they are notoriously difficult to catch."

The way Wilhelmina pouted and folded her arms across her chest, I felt one hunger becoming another.

"I suppose we should return to the nest." Wilhelmina rolled her eyes. "There is nothing we can do — "

Her words were stopped when I put my mouth against hers. As I've said before, feeding and mating are profoundly intertwined. The scent of fairy had not only arouse my hunger, but aroused me in more traditional ways. I made that apparent as I drifted from Wilhelmina's mouth down her neck and shoulder, one hand gliding down to caress her waist while the other was on the small of her back pulling her close to me.

I felt her resist for a moment before she kissed me back, her hands cupping my face. Our mouths maintained together as Wilhelmina found herself with her back against the brick wall of a building and my body against her front. My drifted down her neck to her shoulder as she slid her arms under mine and brought me closer, her legs opening and wrapping themselves around my waist.

Wilhelmina pulled away and stared at me,"What are you doing?"

"What does it look like?" I blinked.

"It looks like that fairy's scent is still clouding your mind." Wilhelmina said plainly.

I paused for a moment and cursed. "You're right."

I tried to step back, but Wilhelmina still had her legs tightly wrapped around my waist. I looked at my maker and saw she was smiling mischievously. "I did not say I wanted to stop."

I returned the smile and bent to kiss her. "I hate it when you tease me like that."

"Then we're not gonna get along one bit, vamp." said a rough smug voice.

I barely had time to register the voice as male and the scent of Were when I felt a presence behind me and something thin and searing hot went over my head and around my neck.

I howled in agony as the silver chain touched my bare skin, steam hissing like a hot blade on freezing ice. I was yanked and thrown backward as I kicked and hissed in protest, someone large and strong keeping the chain tight as they dragged me against the floor. As I struggled to get free, the silver continuing to eat away at my skin and waning strength, I heard and saw a mass of red hair and flailing limbs next to me.

Wilhelmina was shrieking and hissing under mesh net that was lined with silver. I felt a pair of hands grasp my wild legs and bound them. The silver did not burn me as our assailants did not bother to pull my pants, but it did weaken me until my legs felt several tons heavier. I saw that Wilhelmina continued to fight and hiss as they tried to the same with her. I gave up wrenching the chain around my neck and stretched toward my maker and rip the net off.

Then I heard an explosion and an agonizing lance of pain pierce my right temple and everything ceased to exist.

Despite what I had seen in films and novels, you don't wake up sight first or sound first. The first your brain is aware of upon waking is what the body is currently feeling. And for me that was dull throbbing sensation radiating from my right temple mixed with a hunger I had not felt since I first awoke when I was brought over. I felt incredibly weak. It was not the fatigue brought from the absence of feeding. I was all to familiar with that feeling. No, I felt drained and sluggish which I knew was from coming in contact with silver, several pounds at the very least.

I forced myself to open my eyes and look up.

My wrists were bound with silver manacles high over my head, steam coming in slight wisps where my skin came in contact, and locked tightly with common locks you can find in any hardware store anywhere in the country. The manacles were attached to heavy thick iron chains that were welded to a small metal plate on the wall. Upon closer examination I saw two smaller thinner silver chains, I had the vague suspicion they were not merely necklaces, twined around and through the iron links.

I looked down and saw someone had the hindsight to remove my shoes and socks and roll up my pants to ensure the silver manacles touch my bare ankles. They matched the ones bounding my wrist, with the same locks that were on the manacle on my wrists, although the chains linking me to the wall were considerably shorter. So the prisoner was denied the use of their legs as well as their arms.

"Nice to see you're awake." said a ragged, but still identifiable, female voice. "I was hoping to have a chat before I died again."

My head whipped up, fangs running out like lightning, as I hissed in warning.

She was not directly in front me, but a slight bit to my left where there was a door. She had broad shoulders and muscular arms, but not like a man. There was no denying that as she was bare as the day she was born, and probably as she had been when she was brought over, but there was no way of knowing without asking. Her long black hair, which ended just above her shoulders, hung in tousled clumps and had clearly not been washed in days. Her face might have been beautiful, prominent cheekbones and slanted eyes, if not for the starved look to it.

She smiled weakly, displaying tips of her fangs, and spoke with the faintest hint of a British accent. "What is your name?"

Had she been anything but a vampire, I would have not said a word. But that did not mean I gave her my full name. I retracted my fangs. "Dominick."

"Nice to meet you, Dominick." she said, do her best to sound sweet. "I am Mae D. Marion."

"Maid Marion?" I asked. "Like from the story of Robin Hood?"

"Yes, that Maid Marion." she gave me a weary smile. "But it is simply Mae. The 'D' is merely the first letter of my middle name, Deidre. Small things like that tend change over the centuries."

I gazed around and saw we both were being held in a room, hardly larger then a small bedroom. The floor was cold, filthy, and made of gray concrete. There were small puddles here and there as water dripped from what remained of the copper pipes that once ran overhead. There was a window, but it had boarded up with small hole that a rat had chosen that exact moment to squeeze through and scurry across the floor before duplicate the technique and slid under the door. A single failing flickering bulb hung overhead casting long shadows and very dim light.

"Do want to know where we are?" Mae asked helpfully.

"We're in the basement of a building that's been abandoned." I said as I continued to examine the room. "I'd guess in a deserted area since they would have gagged us otherwise."

"How did you — "

"That window is too small except for the kind you see at ground level from outside," I explained. "But its been boarded up and recently too. Probably someone broke in."

"A homeless vagrant looking for a dry place to sleep for the night?" Mae offered, though I had a vague notion she was merely using me to distract herself.

"Copper is worth its weight in gold." I said. "Someone saw the building was being shut down and broke in to steal the copper in the plumbing. At least that's my guess."

"You seem quite knowledgeable." she remarked. "Were you perhaps a thief yourself? Or was one of your parents in law enforcement?"

"No, I was a bartender." I asked. "Mae, what's going on here?"

"Smell the air." She told me. "What scent do you think that is?"

I sniffed the air and my fangs ran out as I growled. "Fucking werewolves."

"Exactly." confirmed Mae. "But only a relative few with some hired shifters from the local area."

"How many in total?" I asked.

"From what I've seen, barely ten."

"That's it?"

"They are the survivors of a larger pack." Mae muttered. "Earlier this year, a pack that supported themselves through illegal narcotics approached the sheriff of Area Three."

"But he refused and they traded blows back and forth for a couple of months." I finished for her. "It wasn't until they attacked his headquarters that he was able to turn the tables and end the fight."

"You were there." Mae said, not asking but stating the truth.

"More like I handed Ryuu a winning strategy." I corrected. "Ryuu happened to be friends with Wilhelmina and knew she was close by. He summoned our entire nest and we were attacked during the meeting. "

"So you were the infant that stopped him from killing a survivor."

"I expected Ryuu to take all the credit." I admitted. "Since no sheriff in their right mind would admit to having a child provide him with a plan he hadn't thought of himself."

"Those samurai. Honor above everything." Mae smiled slightly, but weakly. "Ryuu would never take credit, no matter how beneficial, if he had not acomplished it himself."

"You know him?" I asked

"I'm the child of the sheriff of area two." Mae said. "I met Ryuu when came to ask for assistance in dealing with the werewolves."

"So what happens now?" I looked around. "Where is Wilhelmina?"

"Wilhelmina?"

"My maker." I said, feeling uneasy. "They ambushed both of us." Then a dark thought came to me. "Oh, god . . . if she's not here . . . then . . ."

I struggled and howled as I used what little strength the silver had not drained from me to break my bonds. If there was the slightest chance that Wilhelmina hadn't been staked, I had to be free. The chains jangled frantically, but remained strong and I only succeeded in tiring myself. Mae merely watched me intently as if waiting for the reality to sink in.

"Are you done?" Mae asked when I calmed down somewhat.

"My maker was with me when they ambushed me. " I said, my eyes flicking around the room to find something use. "Why isn't she here?!"

"Your maker?" Mae appeared to be troubled. "Male or female?"

"Female."

"Then she is alive." she said. "For the time being."

"How can you be sure?"

"I have been held captive for a little over a week now." Mae's eye grew cold. "The males die within hours of being brought here, but the women are kept longer." The expression on Mae's face was full of rage and absolutely terrifying. "For entertainment."

I clenched my fists so tight, I drew blood. I wanted to continue struggling, every instinct screaming at me to do so, but forced my self to think. Foremost, I required information. "Alright, how long have I been here?"

"Three nights." She motioned to my feet. "Your body pushed that bullet out of your skull last night."

I looked down and saw what remained of a silver bullet."Have they tried to stake me yet?" There was an excellent chance my dextrocardia might be the key to escaping.

"No. They check in every hour or so to see if you had awoken."

"They?" That meant more than one. "How many at a time?"

"Two. One examines you while the other watches me should I try to escape."

"When they stake one of us, how do they do it?"

Mae seemed confused. "I don't understand. They shove a sharpened piece of wood through the heart." Mae's eyes narrowed. "What are you getting at?"

"I'll explain later if it works." I said. "What do they do once they stake a vampire?"

"Once they see your struggling has ceased, they carry your remains to an old coal burning boiler." Mae appeared to be hiding she was frightened, if only slightly. "To ensure you have met the final death."

I paused for several minutes to process what Mae had said.

"Alright, Mae, can you fight?"

"I haven't fed for sometime now." She sounded weak, but hopeful. "But I will do what I can."

"Alright, I need you to distract them when they stake me." I told her.

"You mean, before they stake you." she corrected.

"No. When they stake me." I clarified. "Its so they don't — "

Then we heard voices outside the door.

"Look, there isn't time to explain." I dropped my voice to a barely audible whisper. "Can you distract them?"

She nodded firmly.

"Up and at 'em!" bellowed a thunderous voice.

I turn my head to see a large six and a half foot tall man with very dark ebony skin. He had recently shaved and polished his head , along with the rest of his face, so it glistened in the dim light provided by the single flickering bulb. Like Brian and many others that sought to strengthen their bodies, his body was thick and hard with bulging muscles so large and robust that his forearms and neck were thicker than my whole body.

He smelt of cheap cologne and soap, but there was no hiding the scent of werewolf. He wore a clean white tank top, either to display the massive pythons that were is arms or he simply could not find a shirt with large enough sleeves, which almost glowed in contrast to his dark skin. He also wore faded work denim jean and large boots. He carried my cane, making a show of twirling it between his fingers for my benefit.

So now I had a weapon.

He was accompanied by a woman, a polished stake on her belt where one would clip a cellphone. She was not as large as her partner, but she carried herself with the same air of confidence and arrogance. To me she was an attractive woman with short earlobe-length brown hair, lightly tanned skin, and brown eyes.

She wore a gray pullover sweat shirt and stylish black jeans with hanging chains that I often saw Johanna wear. On her small feet she wore faux fur and leather boots that had no doubt cost more than anyone with a sense of reason would pay for footwear.

The woman was first to speak as she picked up the silver bullet that had been pushed out of my skull. "Well, look at that, Jim."

The man, Jim, scowled at tiny piece of metal. "I see it, Abby."

"You owe me ten bucks." Abby smirked. "I told you these fucks couldn't be killed that way."

"Where is Wilhelmina?" I demanded.

"Who?" Abby looked to Jim.

"Probably that red head vamp that he was bumping uglies with." Jim shrugged.

"Oh, yeah." said Abby. "Forgot about her."

"Where. Is. She.?" I demanded again, my fangs running out completely.

"Relax, man." Jim chuckled. "Sebastian's taking real good care of her."

"Still?" Abby looked mildly impressed.

"You know how he is." Jim winked to me so I would understand. "It takes a little bit for him to warm up."

"I hear they make a pill for that now." I said.

Abby backhanded me, "Shut up!"

"Ohh, you're one those girls." I chuckled, ignoring the stinging in my cheek.

"The fuck you say?" she demanded.

"It's really nothing to be ashamed of." I assured. "Hey, Jim, how often dose she string you up like this?" I jangled the manacles so he'd get my meaning.

"Keep it up, vamp." Abby sneered, reaching for the stake.

"Lucky for you, I don't have that problem." I winked. "But you butch chicks aren't my type."

"Butch?!" Abby shrieked. "Butch?!"

"Still in the closet, eh?" I said to Mae. "What do you think? I'm usually pretty good at this."

That was when I felt the stake enter my chest, in my left breast to be exact. Needless to say I howled in agony exactly as I had when I was first staked at Yojimbo's. I switched my gaze between the stake in my chest and the haughty Abby that seemed quite content with the fact she had murdered a fellow creature of earth.

I gave her a weak smile. "Gotcha . . ."

Then my head went limp.

"What did he mean by that?" Abby asked. "You don't think he's one of those that can fly or some shit like that?"

"It don't matter if he could switch back to a human or even shift." said Jim. "Ain't no vamp that survives a stake."

"What did he mean?" Abby demanded. "I'm talking to you, vamp!"

"Who? Me?" asked Mae, her words slightly slurred from hunger induced fatigue. "He probably thought you were going to torture him. I was telling him how hospitable Sebastian is when you entered."

"A smart one." Jim remarked.

"Can't be too smart." Abby said. I felt her kneeling by my ankles and heard the unmistakeable sound of my bonds being undone.

"He knew he couldn't get free and was about to die." Jim pointed out while Abby reached up to unlock my wrists. "Figured he could piss you off enough so you'll stake him and make it quick."

"Why isn't he starting to flake?" Abby sounded suspicious.

"He must be young." Mae said. "Not even a decade old."

"So he's a littler fresher?" Jim sounded unsure.

"For the lack of better word, yes." Mae confirmed.

"That's good to know." Abby said undoing the final lock. "I thought maybe he wasn't really dead."

The very second my limbs were free, I fell forward and sank my fangs into Abby's neck as we fell to ground together with my body on top of hers. To her credit, Abby recovered from the shock quickly and screamed as she began struggling.

Then I heard loud thunderous footsteps quickly followed by an equally booming voice. "Shit! Shit! Shit!"

I grasped Abby's now weakening body and switched positions with her so that she on top of me. I could not have timed it better as I lifted Abby and Jim was moving far too swiftly to stop himself from impaling Abby's body with my cane. Blood dribbled out of the corner of Abby's mouth as she coughed at the sudden intrusion. I grasped the end of the cane, grateful that Jim had been twirling and had impaled Abby with the handle rather than the butt, and twisted just as Jim yanked the cane out of his dying comrade.

I looked over Abby's shoulder, her breathing becoming slow and ragged, to Jim staring dumbfounded at the bloodstained and dripping wooden sheath. I did not wish to give Jim an opportunity to retaliate, so lifted with all the strength I could muster. With Abby still attached, I charged and drove the blade up and forward. I heard a grunt as I felt the blade pierce something soft. I yanked the sword out and Abby crumpled on top of Jim. I bent to examine and saw sword had entered just above Jim's waist before traveling upward and no doubt skewering several vital organs in the process.

I collapsed onto a knee and rested for a moment, leaning my sword for support. Recovering from a silver bullet to the head, being staked, and denied blood for all of three days would leave even the most tenacious vampire a bit weakened.

"Dominick!" Mae hissed, jangling her chain to get my attention. "Free me!"

I forced myself to rise and cut off the locks that held Mae.

Without a word, Mae fell onto all four and pulled Abby towards her, surprisingly still alive. "Please . . . no . . . don't . . ." she whimpered, her voice hardly a whisper.

Mae silenced her, other than a sharp gasp, when she sank her fangs into her neck and began feeding.

I waited as Mae fed, leaning against the cold wall opposite the door, to see if any reinforcements had been alerted by all the noise. After a minute, I accepted we were not about to me ambushed and sunk to the floor. The lack of blood was becoming apparent and I saw Mae eye me curiously as she drained the now dead Abby.

Mae pushed Abby's body and away came to me. "How are you still alive?"

"I'll explain in a minute." I assured. "Just pull it out."

She grasped the stake. "This will hurt."

"Believe me, I know."

She removed the stake swiftly and tossed it aside in the time it took me bite back a howl. God bless her, Mae pulled Jim's body and laid him up against me. Assuming I received the message, Mae continued feeding and I joined her. Once we drained all we could from Jim the werewolf, we readied ourselves.

Mae was pulling on Abby's pants after ripping the chains from it. "Now can you explain how you survived a stake through the heart?"

I began checking the bodies for anything of use. "I didn't."

"What?" Mae caught Jim's shirt I tossed her and slipped it over her head.

"It didn't go through my heart." I handed her the stake in question. "Here, apparently they were smart enough not come in with weapons other than this."

Mae took the stake. "But — "

"Do you know where they would take Wilhelmina?" I asked, slipping the wooden sheath through my belt.

"Yes."

"Lead the way then."

Mae seemed to understand I was not about to discuss a vital secret. It was rare the vampire that could survive being staked and know exactly how. She carefully peered out of the room and looked in either direction. Satisfied, she silently stepped out and motioned for me to follow.

We silently and carefully padded down a corridor. It looked similar to any apartment building basement. Pipes running along the floor and ceiling. Old gray concrete made the floor, walls, and most of the ceiling with only a wooden door to indicate the location of a room. Rats and other vermin scurried away from us, squeaking in warning and protest, but we did not see anything larger. Each time we reached a corner, Mae held out a hand to halt me as she peered around.

It was when she did this the third time that it was actually necessary. Quietly, I peered around the corner and saw two guard, relaxed and unarmed, sharing a smoke break. They appeared to be of the same mold as Jim, muscular giants.

Mae was in a weakened state and I was clearly outmatched as a year and half old infant vampire. The hallway Mae and I were occupying crossed with the guard's. If we wanted to avoid being overwhelmed by sheer numbers, we had to divide and conquer with absolute silence. I motioned for Mae take the adjacent corner which she did so quickly that only another supernatural could have seen it, and only if they had been waiting for it. Mae peered around to see if the Weres had noticed.

They hadn't.

Mae gave me a questioning look. I pointed to the stake in her hands, made a clear and brutal stabbing gesture, and then pointed between my eyes. Mae nodded, understanding that I wanted her to bury the stake between the eyes of one of the Weres. I carefully and quietly drew my sword, laying the wooden delicately on the floor to have a free hand. I crouched low and tapped the blade against the wall.

"What was that?" asked one of the Weres

"How the hell should I know?" responded the other. "I ain't psychic, Pete."

I tapped again.

"There is it again!" said who I assumed was Pete. "You don't think those vamps got free do ya?"

"The bitch's ain't had drop in nearly a week." He snorted. "The kid's been out of it for three days straight. And the both of them got enough silver to make even Midas jealous."

"Wasn't Midas all about gold?" asked Pete.

"Shut the hell up, Pete." He sighed. "Let's go check it out. I just hope it ain't another rat or something." I began to hear footsteps as he continued speaking. "I swear we should have one the shifters shift into a cat and be useful for once."

"I hear ya," Pete agreed. "I couldn't believe how big these shitters got when I first got here. I've seen Great Danes back home smaller." That was his last sentence. "For a punk kid in — Gukk!"

Mae whipped round the corner and drove the stake through Pete's right eye, the point protruding the back of his skull. Pete's partner, his name unknown, barely had to register Pete had stopped mid sentence as I shoved the blade under his chin and up and out of the top of his skull. Like it was choreographed, Mae and I each caught their limp bodies and laid them against the wall.

I peered around the corner, waiting and listening for a sign that betrayed our presence. After a half a minute, I turned to see Mae quietly feeding from Pete. Normally I would have some words about priorities, but she was my elder and had been denied blood and sleep for a prolonged period of time.

I carefully peered inside in the room Pete and his partner were ineffectively guarding. It was pure blind luck that I did not lose my head the moment I did that. It was a small room with four cots shoved against either wall, each of them occupied by a snoring Shifter or Were. Whomever Sebastian was, he was not a comptant leader. He may have organized enough power and had the capacity to both ambush and hold vampires, but who would allow their men to sleep at night when thier prisoners were vampires?

I felt a presence behind me and I saw Mae, her mouth and lower chin stained with blood, waiting to see if it was safe to enter. Together we killed all of the slumbering two natured creatures. It was quick and for the most part neat. Mae insisted for waking the final Were briefly, a scrawny blonde women with thick glasses, and fed until she died. I gave in to temptation and fed a little myself. There was a good chance that we could be discovered at the drop of hat, and be forced to carve a bloody path to Wilhelmina, and did not wish to give the Were an advantage.

We quickly left, stopping only to stash the bodies of Pete and his partner in the room, and Mae took the lead once more. After some turns, pausing to peer around corners and sniff the air for patrols, we arrived at door flanked by guards, one male and one female. They were dressed almost identically, long sleeved shirts and jeans. The man had a somewhat muscular build with dirty blond hair and blue eyes. The woman was the same height at her partner with a slimmer body olive skin black hair and dark brown eyes.

Impatient, I forgoed devising another strategy and repeated the same maneuver that led Pete and his partner to their deaths. Surprisingly, it worked and it more or less confirmed the suspicion that either Sebastian had assembled his lackeys for their willingness to follow orders and not their reasoning capabilities.

We stood on either side of the door, "Are you sure this is the right room?"

Mae gave me a single nod. "Yes. Do you smell that?"

I sniffed the air, "Vanilla?"

"Moisturizer." Mae said. "Sebastian is very concerned with the quality of his skin."

"If anything happens to me, get Wilhelmina back to our nest." I gave her the address. "Alright?"

"I am in your debt." she dipped her head slightly. "If I can, I will."

I took a step back and kicked the door with the force of a mule.

It was very dim, a dozen candles lit around the room, but it was plenty. There were three occupants, two Weres and a vampire. And that vampire was bent over a table and chained with silver.

One of the Weres, clad in only running shorts and reading a magazine. had red hair with gray flecked here and there. His skin was pale, but ruddy with some light scarring from looked liked to be from a very large cat. He froze like a deer in the headlights at our sudden intrusion, for the most part.

"Oh, shit." he whispered, his mouth agape. He looked to the other Were. "Sebastian . . . what's the plan?"

"Here's a suggestion." I said. "Mae."

Mae seemed to have momentarily forgotten that I was considerably younger and followed my order, pouncing on the Were. He tried to struggle, of course, but Mae drove him onto the ground and I heard the crunch of bone giving way to concrete when the back of his collided with the unyielding floor. His protest ending and Mae snapped his neck to be certain before drinking deeply from his neck.

Unfortunately, I allowed myself to become distracted and I only turned my attention to the remaining Were, Sebastian, when I felt a similar lance of pain slide into my chest with enough force to stumble back a step or two. I hissed at the pain and looked down to see I had been staked for the second time in the same night and the third in total.

I looked up at my would be Van Helsing. He was slim with narrow shoulders, slicked-back hair and a sharp face. He was naked and noticed traces of blood around his groin along with Wilhelmina scent around him mixed with vanilla. Every inch of skin was smooth and glossy in the dim candle light. Part of me was curious why Sebastian had opted for candle light, then a perverse thought shone through as I saw there was dried blood running down the length of Wilhelmina's leg.

Sebastian deluded himself into some kind of Romeo.

I slowly pulled out the stake and made a deliberate gesture of dropping it to the floor.

"W-w-w-what the f-f-f-fuck?" He stuttered, astounded at my lack of disintegration. "How are you not dead?"

I did not bother engaging in banter and ran him through with my sword. I should have slowed my attack. I'm certain he felt the blade enter his navel and exit out his back, but he just gazed down as if he was too shocked to feel the full effect. I yanked the sword out, not too gently and twisting as I did so, and fell at my feet. I was far from finished with the mongrel and kicked him, making sure not to break his neck. He did spit out a mouthful of blood mixed with teeth and tissue. I then hauled him to his feet, grasping the nape of his neck like a harmless puppy. I caught sight of Wilhelmina watching me.

She nodded once.

I put my through him.

Not where the sword had pierced him. No, that wouldn't anywhere near enough. My hand traveled through the small of his back, just to the left of a collection of bones that I suppose counted as a spine, and exited his front. Then, his incoherent wails of agony and mercy telling me he felt everything, my hand bent down and I grasped a fistful of flaccid flesh and hair.

I yanked my arm out with all the force and speed I was capable of and tossed the useless heap of bloody flesh in front of his face when his legs gave out from under him. Stabbed with both a sword and an arm, broken jaw, missing teeth and even combined together was not enough to kill him. Werewolves may no be as durable as vampires, but still quite sturdy and I'm certain he was cursing that fact as I used my sword to cut the heavy locks from Wilhelmina's silver manacles.

"Dominick? . . . " she whispered and I was dumbfounded at how weak she sounded and appeared to be.

I placed a hand on her check, leaving a bloody hand print. "I'm here."

"How did . . . "

I tried to smile, but it was proving difficult, "Yojimbo's."

"Oh . . . I see . . ." She weakly caressed my cheek.

"Here." I held up Sebastian, still futilely trying to struggle. "You need to drink."

She pulled me close and planted a small kiss on my lips. "Thank you."

Then she sank her neck into Sebastian's neck and I watched the light die in his eyes.

I wanted to turn him.

Just so I could kill him again and make it considerably slower for what he did to my Wilhelmina.

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