A Strange New World
"What?" Danielle said, a spike of confusion washing over her, "No, I'm not dead! I'm walking around, breathing air! I'm alive and this is all just a bad nightmare that I'll wake up from soon."
"No, you're dead, Danny," Nick said, trying to sound truthful, "I snapped your neck myself last night. That's how you become one of us, a vampire. You died with vampire blood in your system, so you came back a vampire."
Danielle stared daggers at him, crossing her arms over her chest. She was getting upset at how sincere Nick was sounding, she felt her canines lengthen and sharpen. She drew back her upper lip in a half smile to covertly show off her menacing fangs. Her teeth gleamed in the moonlight, a shade or two lighter then her skin.
"I don't know whats wrong with me, Nick," Danielle said, losing her grin as she felt a sense of distaste, "But I'm not one of you, and I never will be. And only my brother can call me Danny."
"You have to believe me, Danny," Nick said, ignoring her last comment and handing her the mirror that used to be in Danielle's makeup bag, "Look at yourself, for crying out loud."
Danielle took the mirror with a flash of frustration and was slightly in disbelief at what she saw. She looked the same as the Danielle Johnson from two nights ago, but there were subtle differences that contradicted that. Her fair skin was as pale and flawless as her mother's porcelain display in their living room. Her eyes, which were usually a calm beautiful ice blue, held something new and scary in them in them: the look of a predator, the deadly knowledge that she was a lethal killer. Danielle's face was framed by jet black, lazily curled hair, and a chill went through her spine at the contrast between it and her skin. Her high, prominent cheekbones had shadows under them, and her mouth was slightly open as her breath left her in small rasps and formed white clouds in between her and Nick. Danielle was getting confused, and frightened. Those differences scared her even more with every passing second, but she couldn't feel more alive! She felt stronger, faster, and powerful, not the frail semi-popular seventeen-year-old that she was forty-eight hours before. Energy seemed to flow through her just as her blood did, filling every part of Danielle's body.
Danielle's gaze went back to her eyes, her cold icy eyes. Her eyes had adjusted to the dark, the pupils dilated so much that there was only a small rim of blue. The collection of changes to Danielle overwhelmed her and a lump as forming in her throat, threatening to stop her already light breathing as she blinked back heavy tears. Danielle had always been the one in her group of friends to be the strongest, never showing if anything negative ever phased her. She'd always stood up for her friends in every situation, she'd always been the first to go to their sides with her fists raised. Always was the shoulder to cry on when there was a nasty break up with a friends relationship or if a loved one was lost. Even when her older brother had died in a car accident, she held her own grief aside and helped her family through the tough time, only shedding tears in the middle of the night into her soft, plush pillow. Anytime her friends were asked about Danielle, they all would say how strong she was in a tough situation and how she always knew what to say and do.
Then, Danielle, who had never cried in front of anyone, broke into a soft sob and fell onto Nick's chest. He caught her, and embraced her, saying random things to make Danielle stop crying. She pretty much ignored him, continuing to sob into his t-shirt, the things he was saying sounded muffled, and inaudible even to Danielle's new improved hearing. She breathed in Nick's unique scent. He smelled like the forest would, fresh and strong, moist and lush. Danielle was grateful for the comfort Nick offered, surprised that she wasn't that embarrassed at her loss of self-control.
"Sorry, usually I don't cry all that much," She said in a small voice as she pulled back from Nick, "Wait, why was I at the hospital? Why didn't you just leave me at your old looking house?"
"Because we wanted to give you a fresh start, Danny. We brought you to the hospital to be pronounced dead, since you kind of were. After, your parents came by that morning and saw you there with no pulse or anything, they let go. We did that so you didn't have to break the ties to your old life, which was the hardest part of most of us to do. To leave behind everyone and everything we'd ever known to become something we never even knew existed. Plus, hospitals have a lot of warm bodies and blood bags," Nick chuckled.
"Like these?" Danielle suddenly smirked and shot a hand into the leather purse she had in her arms, and pulled out one of the blood bags she had the nurse bring her and handed it to Nick, "I guess you can have some if you like."
"Not as squeamish as I would have expected," Nick laughed, taking the bag and opening it, "Usually girls throw up the first few times they feed since they think to hard about what they are doing. Guys, too. But you're more like me; you don't mind it seems."
"Oh, I mind," Danielle said with a stifled laugh, "But after the first time I just didn't care, I guess."
Danielle took out another bag and opened it, giggling as she made a toasting motion with it before taking in a big gulp, "I can't believe I'm standing in the middle of a hospital parking lot with a guy that snapped my neck, and drinking blood like a Capri-Sun."
Nick chuckled and drank another sip from his bag, "Weirder things have happened to me, but I know what your talking about."
"So," Danielle said, tapping her middle finger nervously on her bag, "What's going to happen to me now?"
"Ah," Nick sighed, "The question every new vampire has asked me for the past fifty years. Well, Danny, I'm going to escort you to that old house you woke up in. Then, once we are there, all your questions will be answered."
"Who will be there?" Danielle asked, a little uneasily.
"Your new family," Nick said with a dazzling white smile.
He turned and headed towards the populated area of the parking lot near the back doors. There, Nick opened the door to a black Camero that must have been made years ago. Nick bent over the seat, and turned the key into the ignition. The engine growled to life and died down to a nice purr. Nick straightened up and walked over to the passenger side door. Danielle was pleasantly surprised when her opened the door for her. With a small, but bright smile Danielle ducked into the car and settled into the comfortable upholstered seats of the old car. Nick shut the door and went around the front of the car and swung into the drivers seat and shut the door as he did in one smooth motion.
The Camero was a smooth ride, seeming to glide through the glimmering streets of New York. Every little detail jumped out at Danielle like she's never seen them before, despite the fact that she knew the city as well as her own room. Neon lights were brighter then the last she'd seen them, casting brilliant colors onto any lustrous surface. Danielle noticed that the deep, dark shadows that those signs caused were bright enough so that she could see through them. She saw a homeless man, slouched under a cardboard hut with a bottle in one gnarled hand. Farther down past the man she could see a woman with knotted brown hair and filthy skin dig through the trash, a hopeless expression in her mocha brown eyes. Danielle felt a strong pity for those two, and looked away quickly before it could get worse. Nick took her straight up north, passing through the remaining parts of New York without much conversation, which Danielle was glad for since she wouldn't know what to say anyway. All she could think about was what had happened to her in the past two days, and what that had done to her. She just felt different then how she felt on her way back home.
Home. They must be so heartbroken, Danielle thought with a pang of guilt.
She hadn't thought about how her decision would affect them. How sad it would make them to lose their baby girl, especially not four months since the death of their first son. Danielle sighed heavily as she thought about what she'd left behind without thinking. Her friends, her normal life filled with boring school work and after school activities. Parties that she snuck off to because she had nothing else better to do. She had never been a rebellious teen, but she did break the rules from time to time. Her friends had always affectionately called her a goodie-to-shoes, saying it in a way that told Danielle that they envied her life. Everyone had known Danielle somehow from school, most of them because of her looks. Her eyes startled many people with how light a blue they were, hair black hair making them seem even brighter. Danielle's hair was always lazily curled and she sometimes had died a strip of it a beautiful shade of dark red. That was Danielle's reputation, a beautiful and nice girl that would always do the right thing.
"We're here," Nick said, snapping Danielle out of her revere.
Looming in front of them was a late 19th century mansion, with two lines of large windows. It had large double oak doors flanked by stone pillars. The windows looked like they were made of tempered glass, framed with dark wooden accents that separated the windows into small squares. There were two stone steps that led to the doors, and Danielle noticed there was a crest over the doors, a "N" with a line cutting it in half. The entire house was painted a dark shade of brown, almost black, and so was the roof. A red brick chimney rose from each side of the house, smoke rising in the moonlight.
Nick opened the for of Danielle, and helped her out of the car. The night was chilly, and would've made Danielle shiver after a lengthy ride in a heated car, but she wasn't bothered at all; she just nearly noticed it. Danielle rose out of the car just as the lights flicked on in the house, and the doors opened to reveal a tall man with wide shoulders and a strong angular face. He beckoned for Danielle, and Nick guided her gently to him with a serious look on his face.
"Ah, Nick," The man said with a deep voice, "So you've brought our new sister?"
"Yes, Michael," Nick said with a tone of respect, "Her former name was Danielle Johnson."
Michael nodded his thanks and reached for Danielle, "We have been expecting you, my dear. We are all eager to met you."
"Wait," Danielle said slightly confused, "Why did you mean my 'former name'? That is my name."
"Danielle Johnson died two days ago, my dear," Michael said in a calming tone, "You are a new person now, a strong hunter. We believe in a fresh start from your past life. You can be who ever you wish to be. But, if you can't decide on who that will be, then the one who have you his blood will choose for you. And, knowing Nick as much as I do, I think he's already come up with one."
"I...I don't understand," Danielle said with a small voice.
"Well, most will just shorten their past name. For example, Nick's name used to be Nicholas Peterson, but he wished to be called Nick for short. It became his name. What will you choose? You can't change it as soon as you do, I'm afraid, unless everyone unanimously agrees."
Danielle gave it some thought, then with a small breath she said, "It's 'Danny'. It's what my brother called me before he...passed."
"Danny," Michael said, as if he were tasting it, "I like it. Come, I'd like you to meet your new family."
Danielle, no, Danny stole a glance at Nick as she followed Michael into the huge house. He was smirking at her choice, and his eyes showed his approval as he followed behind her.
Danny followed Michael into the living room, and instantly recognized it as the old looking room she'd woken up in a day before. The fire looked the same, spilling a soft orange light onto the beautiful furniture. The books were slightly tarnished but looked as if they were from when the house was built, dust was slightly gathering on them. There were artifacts on display around the room and the house. Masks, skulls, sculptures, also pair of sabers crossed in an "X" behind the same crest Danny had seen on top of the door. There were portrait paintings of dignified looking men and women here and there on the walls, framed in sculpted wood.
Michael motioned for the couch Danny had woken up on the night before with a soft smile. She looked back at Nick for advice, and he nodded that it was okay to sit. Danny sat in the same spot as last time she was here, Michael sat on her right and Nick plopped down on her left.
"Everyone, our new arrival is here, could you please come to the meeting room," said Michael said without raising his voice, more an order then request. Danny's heightened hearing picked up many footfalls throughout the house, heading towards where Danny, Nick, and Michael sat.
A man and woman entered the room, followed by three men and another woman. They all wore boots of some kind, black padded pants, black shirts with half of them wearing leather jackets with wide hoods. The girls both had hourglass figures and strong muscles, and everyone of the men were extremely built, their clothes barely containing their muscles. Everyone of them looked the same since the last time. Danny had seen them when they had covered the doors before Danny had chosen to Turn, all with hard edged expressions of confidence in their eyes, like how Danny saw in her eyes after she'd drunk the nurses blood. Other than that, they all looked at her with acceptance and happiness, like they were meeting a long lost cousin. The girls hugged Danny tightly, and the guys either shook her hand or give her a side hug, but everyone was smiling. And Danny felt like she belonged here, she must have if these people were already treating her with such care, like she was one of them.
The two girls sat in the two chairs in front of Danny, two guys sat on a couch to Danny's right, and the rest either stood or paced around the room, but every pair of eyes was looking at Danny. The blonde girl had gorgeous deep green eyes and a soft smile, and a tanned skin tone. She sat with legs crossed and arms on her thighs as she leaned slightly forward in anticipation. The brown haired one was more relaxed, her eyes like rich chocolate. Her high cheekbones were clearly defined.
"These two lovely ladies before you are Elsa," Michael said, pointing to the blonde one, "and Alex."
"Nice to finally meet you," They both said in unison, both smiling. Danny smiled back.
"My name's Aaron," said one of the men on the couch. He had wavy dark hair and black eyes. He was slightly slouching, legs crossed with an forearm on the armrest. He had a square jaw and a small smile. He looked very dignified, and respectable.
Michael pointed towards a pair of guys that stood leaning next to one another near a painting, "the two brother's are Mark and Adam."
The two guys stood and bowed, saying with unison, "The pleasure is ours."
Mark was slightly taller then his brother, with wide shoulders, short sandy blonde hair and blue-green eyes. Adam had his brothers eyes, but his frame was slightly smaller and his hair was a light brown. They both smiled at Danny, their eyes full a confidence, and happiness.
"Name's Tony," said a smug looking man in a leather jacket, "so very pleased to finally meet you, my lady."
Tony, more slender then the rest of the guys, looked at Danny with a wide smile. He had slightly bushy eyebrows, stunning black eyes, a shock of black hair, and an aurora of confidence that it seemed to ooze out of him. He was leaning on the door frame with his hands stuffed in his pockets.
"And last, but certainly not least," Nick said with a small flourish pointing to the shaggy haired guy next to Aaron, "Mr. Dead-Man-Walking himself, Jake."
"Oh shut up, Nick," Jake chuckled then he turned to Danny, "Glad we can finally have a formal introduction."
"So your the guy that fell from the roof?" Danny said with a suppressed laugh, "Well, you scared the Hell out of me."
Jake laughed, "Well, for that, I am sorry."
"My friends," Michael said, "I'd like for you to let Danny in with open arms as your new sister. She begins tomorrow, and I want her to go with you on your next assignment. Are there any objections?"
"No, sir," the rest of the vampires said in unison.
"Good," Michael said with a small, "Nick, could you show Danny to her room?"
"It would be my pleasure," Nick said rising and holding a hand for Danny.
Danny took it as a thought occurred to her, "But I don't have any clothes. Their all in my room back at my home. Can I go back and get them?"
"I'm afraid not, my dear," Michael said sadly, "You cannot go back home ever again. There should be some clothes in the closet though. I would think that they would fit."
"Oh, okay," Danny said, "Well, it was great to meet all of you finally."
"The feeling's mutual all around, Danny," Aaron said with a smile, "Sleep well."
Danielle smiled and followed Nick to a flight of dark wood stairs and down a small hall that was decorated just like the living room. The floors were the same wood as everything else, but they didn't creak like Danny would think they would. Nick stopped in front of a brown door that had a brass colored spherical door knob. Nick opened the door smoothly to reveal a white walled light colored room. It looked just like Danny's old room with pale furniture, a window dresser and a closet with a white door. Danny just stopped and looked at the room, then smiled.
"It's beautiful, Nick," she said softly.
"Glad you like it. And if the clothes don't fit we can always buy some more. Sleep well, Danny."
Danny sat down on the soft bed, and watched as Nick left with a smile. Danny laid back and swung her feet over the edge and laid still. She laid a hand behind her head and the other on her stomach, and let her mind wander. She thought of her family again, how much she missed and loved them, how her friends must be feeling right now. And when she closed her eyes, she slipped into unconsciousness.
"Rise 'n' shine princess," Alex said groggily, "Time to gear up."
"Wha...?" Danny said softly, "Gear up for what?"
"Why, your first assignment of course," Alex said with a smile, "Your going with Nick, Jake and me. Come on, I'm the one who's got to size you up."
With a grunt of effort and a yawn, Danny rose and looked at Alex with eyes half open, "Where to?"
"Well," Alex said, "Hungry?"
"Um," Danny said, her stomach growling, "It couldn't hurt."
"Nope," Alex said with a smile, stifling a laugh, "I don't think it can."
Alex took Danny's hand and practically dragged her to a room that had counters on either side, one filled with upside down glasses and the other with plates and some foods splayed about. There was a large freezer box that Alex immediately went for, grabbing two small glasses on her way. She let go of Danny's hand and opened the freezer. To Danny's surprise, a wave of heat washed over her instead of cold, and it was filled to the brim with blood bags.
"Which do you prefer?" Alex said, her hand hovering over the open freezer, "AB positive, or negative?"
"I have no idea," Danny said with a chuckle, "Does it matter?"
"Not really," Alex laughed, and she grabbed a random bag from the freezer and closed it. She lead Danny to the large table in the center of the kitchen and pulled out two chairs, motioning for Danny to sit. As the two sat, Alex opened the blood bag and poured the red liquid into the glasses, filling them up half way.
"Want to make it three?" Danny turned to see Tony walking into the kitchen, grabbing a glass, "I haven't fed since last night."
"Fine, Tony," Alex said in mock annoyance, "But I'm not pouring it for you this time."
"But you always say that," Tony smiled, sounding hurt and taking the halfway empty blood bag, "But if you insist."
As Tony poured his glass, Danny asked, "What time is it?"
"It's almost twilight," Tony said, taking a sip, "That's why Alex over there woke you."
"Oh, cause the suns down now?" Danny said, taking a sip herself. The blood glided down her throat and she instantly felt better.
"I knew you were smart," Tony said in a way that wasn't condescending.
Danny smiled and finished her glass in two large gulps and licked her lips, "I never thought I'd be so satisfied with drinking a glass of blood."
"Usually, new vampires are freaked out by that," Alex chuckled, "You keep a cool head, Danny. That's a good thing, trust me."
Danny smiled, "Thanks, Alex. So, shall we get to sizing me up?"
"Of course," Alex smiled, rising from her seat, "Follow me."
Danny rose, pushed in her chair and followed after Alex as she left the kitchen. They walked through the large mansion and came upon a door that looked like a closet, it had an old fashioned lock with a key sticking out below the tarnished brass doorknob. Alex turned the key and the knob at the same time and pushed the door opened, revealing a wooden stair case that had a orange glow at the bottom of them. Danny heard familiar voices at the bottom as well, along with the ruffling of papers. Alex and Danny descended the stairs, which groaned and creaked every few steps. When they reached the landing, Danny saw Michael, Jake, and Nick hunched over papers and maps splayed out on a heavy table. They were murmuring things like locations, patterns, and strategic positions, things that Danny didn't really understand. They turned and nodded towards the two girls as they entered then went back to the papers.
Danny looked around the room, soaking it all in. One side of the room was covered in maps of New York and surrounding areas, red strips of yard held down by pins cross-crossed the map. The other side was a armory like area, where sheaths hung with knives tucked into them. Along the wall were wardrobes spaced apart perfectly.
"Go ahead and pick one knife from the racks," Alex said, "And come back to me."
Danny nodded and walked towards the armory area. After looking over many different and strange types of blades, she grabbed a five inch long jet black angular knife. It was a heavy piece of metal, but she was strong enough to where it felt as light as air. Danny walked over to Alex, who was standing by the farthest wardrobe. Alex nodded, then opened the wardrobe.
Inside was a manikin that was wearing the same padded pants, a black shirt and a leather jacket with the same wide hood. At the manikins feet were boots that would come three quarters up her shins. The same dark clothes she saw the rest of the vampires wear last night.
"These are the things we wear on assignments," Alex explained, "They're durable, silent, and stealthy. They don't make a sound if you don't want them to. This is your locker, basically. The knife's in case whoever's hunting you is on vervain and you can't bite them. Otherwise, you won't really need it. Go ahead and put them on, Danny, I have to get ready too."
"Vervain?" Danny said, puzzled.
"Oh," Alex said, "It's a herb that's like poison to us."
"Oh," Danny said, "But when normal people, I mean humans, take it it doesn't hurt them?"
"You are a really good guesser, my friend," Alex laughed, "You go ahead now, we don't have much time left."
Danny nodded and took the clothes out of the wardrobe and headed for a place to change, while Alex headed for her locker. She found a small side room and ducked into it. She slid out of her dirty jeans, blood stained shirt and jacket, then slid into the new clothes. The pants were made of a durable elastic material that cling to Danny's legs, showing of her thin, slender legs. The same went for the black shirt, which complemented her curves. The jacket fit perfectly as well, it warmed her and didn't restrict her at all. The boots were extremely comfortable and Danny could tell that they wouldn't come off unless she wanted them to. Danny tied her lazily curled black hair into a pony tail. Lastly, she strapped the the knife to her right thigh.
"Okay," Alex said as Danny emerged from the room, "You look really good, Danny. The Sexy-Assassin of the year award would be yours."
"Thanks," Danny said with a laugh, "Where to now?"
"The boys are just about done," Alex said, adjusting her jacket, "I guess we can listen to them while they wrap up."
"Sounds good to me," Danny said, and they both strode over.
"Alright," Jake was saying, "So you want him alive, right?"
"Correct," Michael said.
"We don't have much vervain left," Nick was saying, "So you want us to just snap his neck?"
"That's fine," Michael said, "Any more questions?"
"Who are we supposed to be bringing back here?" Danny asked.
Michael turned to Danny and smiled, "A vampire by the name of Damon Salvatore."