Dodging a swing that would have snapped her neck, Damienne whipped out a long leg, grabbed the outflung fist and sent Alic sprawling to the ground. He reached out with blinding speed, grabbed her ankle and pulled, forcing her to join him on the ground. With a snarl she snapped at him and launched herself headfirst against his chest. He wrapped his arms around her and squeezed. The force in that embrace would have snapped a mortal's spine and effectively immobilized the female neonate. She squirmed and kicked but could not break Alic's grip. Finally, she lay still as death. In a muffled voice she said "Enough" and waited for Alic to release her. His grip became more gentle and she turned to look up into his face. Fire burned in his blue eyes and she smiled up at him lighting the emerald glow in her own.
"Was it good for you too?" she asked him playfully. He slapped her behind and gave her a hug in response. She nipped him for the slap and sat back, animal light shining from her eyes. Every sense in her was alert and tense. Predatory senses and Brujah rage made her feel as if her soul was on fire.
Recognizing the particular timbre of her voice, Alic released her. Caution filled his voice as he asked, "Do you want me to come with you?" She fixed him with a glare, then softened her look. He knew how much violence both excited and frightened her. The weight of frenzied deaths hung in her eyes, yet the need to focus the rage filled her limbs. The sparring was one of the answers she had found, but it left her hungry.
She gauged her inner temper against her hunger and strength before finding an honest answer. "Thanks, Alic, but I think I'll be all right. Just let me know where to meet you if you want help with that business stuff." With a catlike stretch she popped jarred vertebrae back into place and extended a hand to her teacher. He kissed the hand and got to his feet on his own.
"Ok then. Be careful, Dee."
She grinned at him and turned to her bike. "Always," she called over her shoulder as she swung her leg over the pearl Harley. Further discussion was impossible, drowned out by the thunderous roar of the motorcycle. Aiming for the freeways, she translated some of her inner rage to speed, reveling in the way the wind clawed at her hair and tried to drive its chill fingers into her dead flesh. She almost wished she could throw back her head and howl like a Gangrel. Instead she pushed her Springer to its screaming limits and laughed.
Somewhere between her visceral joy and barely subdued violence, she managed to watch the road. Ahead of her, taillights were coming quickly into view and she changed lanes to avoid them. Just as she was about to pass the car, it swerved over into her chosen lane, forcing her to slam on her brakes and nearly dump the bike. Instantly the beast snarled from her throat. She yanked the bike back under control and launched it alongside the car. Pacing it, she fought for the drivers notice. He pointedly ignored her, further testing her grip on the beast. With a deep growl, her fist lashed against his window filling his lap and cheek with shattered glass. As he turned to look at her in surprise and fear, she showed him the visage of the beast lurking within. As his face paled under the bleeding wounds, an odor reached her heightened senses. She smiled in satisfaction as the car slowed then ran for an exit. She presumed the driver wanted to clean himself up.
A few exits later she left the freeway. Neon lights ahead attracted her like a moth to a flame. Slowly cruising down the busy street, she searched the air and doorways for what she wanted. A throbbing beat caught her attention from one of the clubs. Neon lights gleamed from silver studded chokers and chains on people standing in front of the place. Various motorcycles of many makes as well as bumper sticker-bedecked cars were parked nearby. Dee grinned and added her bike to the others. Though her leather and pallor didn't look out of place here, something about her silenced those that had been talking and they stared at her as she slunk past them. Danger oozed from her eyes and gave weight to her strut. She accepted their deference as if it were her due. She knew that their caution was proper.
Like a tightly stretched guitar string, she stretched her will towards breaking. Assaulted by the scent of crowd sweat and cigarette smoke and the loud hammering of the punk music, the Brujah thrust her way towards the dancefloor. She threw herself into the slammers with abandon, glad to release some of the rage and know that in this crowd she couldn't do any serious damage. Hammering her body into those around her, she almost felt like she was still part of something human, like a drop of water in a storm-driven ocean of humanity. A sudden scent caught her attention, breaking her illusion. A slight shift in the dancers showed her the cause. Even if the crowd hadn't moved, the scent of blood would have demanded her attention before she saw the young girl get to her feet from where she had been knocked down by the seething dance. Blood poured from the girl's nose and the dancers had slowed and shifted enough to let her get by. Her path was bringing her right past the vampire. Dee clenched her teeth and slipped behind the girl, following her off the dance floor.
As they escaped the grip of the crowd, Dee tapped the girl on the shoulder and smiled. "You ok? That looks pretty bad..." Clenching her fist inside her jacket pocket, Dee tried to force her eyes away from the blood to the girl's eyes. They bore the sheen of alcohol and drugs. Silently, the beast grinned.
"Uh, yeah, I'll be ok..." the girl answered uncertainly. "Just gotta get it stopped."
"Come on, I'll help you." Dee's tone left no room for denial and with a few well-placed glares, their way to the ladies' room held no-one to slow them down. The beast gibbered unrelenting in Damienne's brain. In the eye of her inner storm she wondered that the girl couldn't hear it. Wishing for the gift of Dominate, Dee glared at the giggling group of girls at the restroom. The beast was too near the surface; a mere thought made its shadow visible in her face. Suddenly sullen, the laughter ceased and the bathroom was emptied. Like a farm animal going unknowing to its slaughter the girl let Dee lead her into a stall. Slipping the lock closed on the door, the vampire turned to her prey. Gathering up a long length of toilet paper, Dee dabbed at the blood dripping down the girls face. "Tilt your head back to stop it while I clean you up." Befogged by drink and drugs, the girl absently obeyed.
A weak resistance in a locked room of her soul cried out, but Dee could not hear it over the lusting hunger consuming her. Her eyes watched the life beat in her victim's throat and she waited a moment, trying to reach for the value of that life. Finally unable to resist the smell of flowing blood, the vampire clasped another wad of tissue to the bleeding nose and placed her mouth to the bared throat. The girl's eyes widened in surprise, then closed as the peculiar effect of the vampire's bite took its toll on her drugged body. Beyond the fire in her throat, Dee absorbed the drink and drug that sustained her along with that of her victim. Part of her scoffed at the drugs the girl abused herself with and urged her to take her life since she was throwing it away. The breath in her ear and a low moan from herself or the girl, she wasn't sure which, interrupted the voice of the hunter in her mind. Somewhat soothed by the drugs and the nourishment, Dee released her hold and licked the evidence away. The bleeding slowed and the hunger abated, the Brujah left the girl alone in the stall.
Damienne awoke as the last gleams of the sun flowed out of the sky like old blood. She stared up at the now-familiar cracks of old plaster in the ceiling of Alic's haven. Slowly, gently, she rolled over to watch the young Brujah still sleeping beside her. In the death-still sleep, his face held none of the anger and violence that animated his eyes when he was awake. Dee reached out and stroked the youthful face with a cool fingertip. His blond hair tumbled over the pillow like wheat in a storm, but he remained motionless. For a moment, her mind showed her a blurred picture that mingled this calm with the passion she knew was locked within this killer, her lover. She felt its reflection answer from within as her own beast and love fought for control. Her green eyes smoldered as she imposed her will over the beast and felt for the tenderness she retained in spite of the violence of this existence. Again she gazed at Alic lying beside her and considered the forms of strength. Passion and muscle were there, but he lacked her will. She judged herself the stronger because of it. Another face drifted into her mind. It seemed to mock her for her tenderness. "Fuck you, Ryk" she thought at it.
That thought brought her mind to the hearing. She smiled with grim respect for her primogen. She wished she could view the current events as calmly as he seemed to. Of course, she would feel more calm if she also didn't give a shit about anyone but herself or her clan. The tension in the city made her skin crawl. A sudden urge to be moving dragged her out of the rumpled bed. Gliding gracefully toward the window, Damienne surveyed the street below with cautious eyes. She took mental note of every strange car, each dark hole. Though she could see nothing to threaten Alic's home, the unease did not leave her. She longed for some time to relax this vigil, to remember why she had wanted her freedom and an enduring existence.
As if to quench her restlessness, Dee turned toward the room. She began gathering up the few belongings that had accrued during her visits here. As she moved, she thought about where they could go for a little vacation. They'd need safe places during the day and she searched her memory for ones she'd used before. A couple of phone calls would help pave the way as well. She looked forward to seeing Alic away from the city and its bitter edges. She wanted to know what he was when he wasn't a killer. It seemed he might like to know that too. And if hunters decided to follow them, she knew the killer was only a heartbeat away.
The road stretched out before them like a pale river in the moonlit night. Alic and Dee rode side by side yet alone in their thoughts. Taking comfort in their companionship, they faced those thoughts with courage. Dee glanced often behind her, half-expecting to find a car trying to run her down, or worse yet, some stake-wielding follower of the prince. She glanced at Alic and found he looked little better. He fairly bristled with danger and alertness. Something in the set of his face told her that unlike her, he would welcome an attack. She understood that he needed a release for the violence constantly at work in him. Dee was glad to have that violence on her side, yet she feared where it might lead him.
Determined not to let worries spoil their trip, Dee shrugged off her fears and signaled towards an exit. She led the two Harleys confidently down the narrow road. In the moonlit dimness, the pair of riders could see farmlands stretching out on either side of the road. The roar of their engines caused small night creatures to scurry for cover at the disturbance of their normally quiet routines. The fields were shorn of crops now, yet held the fallow life of winter. The stubborn weeds and grasses lived in spite of the chill in the air. Its stoic refusal to die tickled Dee's mouth into a wry grin, as if it shook a fist at the Creator, daring Him to try to kill it. Brujah grass, she thought, and threw a dazzling smile toward Alic. He flashed her a grin in return.
She revved her engine, her body pulsing with the thunder in her hands. A sudden burst of power from the customized Harley shot her far ahead of Alic. She could not contain the whoop of joy that burst from her lips as she roared down the empty road. Not to be left behind, and infected by Dee's happiness, Alic raced to catch her. She slowed a fraction, almost letting him reach her, then just as he drew alongside her rear tire she goosed the Springer again. With a teasing wave, she sped a few hundred yards ahead of him then seemed to disappear into the night. Suddenly alarmed, Alic surged ahead, but was forced to slam on his brakes and pivot on his foot when he spotted dust rising from a side road hidden in the darkness. Dee's bike looked like a pool of moonbeams beyond the curtain of dust. The night swallowed the deep blue and black of Alic's Harley, but its throaty rumble was echoed in the voice of the pearl Springer as Dee again ran like a rabbit though the labyrinthine farm roads. Following the trail of dust and insistent growl of Dee's bike, Alic wove through the maze of trails.
A battered fence and stand of gnarled trees loomed up beyond the haze. The road stretched towards it, straightening as if it had remembered its purpose after miles of amnesia. With his keen Kindred eyes, Alic could see Dee clearly on the road now. He raced to catch her, but speed was no longer necessary. She had turned off her engine and waited for him with a silent grin. She signaled for him to stop then greeted him with a kiss. Beyond the trees, a bulky shadow loomed up out of a broad clearing. Together they walked their motorcycles to its edge, cautiously alert to any sound or motion in the stillness. There they stopped and Dee took Alic's hand in hers, then bent her lips to his ear. A smile spread across his face as she whispered. He nodded as she stepped away, and together they approached the old barn in the clearing. They searched the clearing quickly, then checked the barn. Broken boards and old straw littered its floor. Empty bottles strewn about showed them that the building wasn't completely abandoned, but a closer inspection told them they were alone for the moment. They retrieved their bikes, stashing them in a stall that still had a rickety door hanging from it. That done, Dee followed Alic back outside where they slapped the dust off their clothes.
Laughing happily, Damienne told her companion how she'd partied here with some old biker friends not long before she'd rolled into Dallas. The place belonged to the family of one of them and he'd shared its secret with her. She led Alic to a tiny stall in the corner of the old building. Kneeling down, she brushed away a grimy pile of straw revealing the outlines of a small door. She tugged at it until it lifted on soflty creaking hinges. Pulling a tiny penlight from her jacket, Dee turned its beam toward the dark hole. The frail light glinted off something metal on the floor of a low room. Alic took the light from her and peered cautiously over the edge of the opening. As he angled the beam into all the corners of the room, he realized that the metal was copper tubing. A claw-footed bathtub took up one of the short walls and a rickety framework took another. With a chuckle, Alic dropped into the hole. The rest of the night passed calmly as the two vampires shared stories and starlight. When a faint glow in the distance warned them of dawn, they sealed themselves away among the secrets of long-gone moonshiners.
Damienne wandered around the apartment, aimlessly pacing. She stopped to peek out the window and sighed in disappointment. Quiet as a church. The wind blew scraps of garbage down the empty street like tumbleweeds though a ghost town. She continued her tour of pacing, occasionally stopping and moving things around, or picking up various weapons and admiring them. She glanced at Alic sitting on his bed. He didn't look up from the gun he was meticulously cleaning.
It had been too long since she shared anything like a home with another person. She went to the small backpack that held her few possessions and pulled out a few cd's. 'Too damn quiet in here' she thought, but replaced the tunes in the bag. She wasn't sure if the music would disturb Alic, and she didn't want to upset him. She glanced his way again. This time he threw her a brief smile and she returned it. She relaxed a little and wondered what she could do to cheer him up. Finally, she stopped her pacing, staring out the window again. In a soft but firm voice, she spoke.
"What's up with you, Alic?" She didn't turn away from the window but she felt his eyes upon her.
"Nothing...Why d'you ask?" His voice held a note of wariness.
Dee turned to face him, searching his eyes. "Well, you've been kind of...off lately. Grouchy, picking fights all the time. That was pretty stupid of you getting on that gangrel the other night." Her voice held no note of apology, though she knew she was pushing. If Alic wanted a fight, she was ready.
He snorted in answer. "ME! Get on HER nerves? She pissed all over me like she was marking her damned territory, Dee!" His youthful face wore an air of indignation. "I should have shoved a 12-gauge in her wolfie face and pulled the trigger." He returned his attention to the gun in his hand, attacking the task as if he was rending the wolven Kin in his mind.
Unmoved, Dee retorted, "But did she do that before or after you picked a fight with her?" She had to get to the bottom of his moodiness.
"I wasn't trying to pick a fight with her." His tone was defensive. "They're way to protective over that stupid Malk Millie. They're all a bunch of flakes." Again he stopped working and looked around, finally bringing his eyes back to Dee's. He looked hurt. "You're taking their side?"
Unable to bear the question in his voice, Dee smiled to reassure him. "Well, no, it's just that sometimes your first impressions aren't that great..." Her smile held a wry twist as she moved to sit beside him on the bed.
He chuckled, "Oh well..." Moving over to make room for her, he looked up at her, a serious expression adding years to his face. "Well, I've had a lot going on lately..."
Dee placed a tentative hand on Alic's shoulder, measuring the tenseness there. "Look, I'm just kinda worried about you. You act like you're trying to prove something, but in a way that could get you killed..."
"If it does, it does." He didn't look at her. "I'm not scared."
Trying to mask her fear, Dee went on. "Yeah, well you haven't told me much about that either, and you don't have to...but, well...what can I do?" A line of frustration creased her forehead and put a dangerous glint in her beautiful green eyes.
Alic looked away from her, letting his gaze move out the window. "I don't know..." he answered, struggling with his thoughts. "What does anyone want from me lately?"
"What do YOU want from you, Alic? That's the million dollar question, baby."
He continued to stare out the window but answered softly. "I know what I want." A moment later, he turned and looked her in the eyes. "I am going to see Ryk soon...very soon."
Dee ignored the chill that emanated from his eyes to her spine. "Yeah? Why?" She was afraid of the answer.
"I have a few things to discuss with him...Business."
Dee took that in, thinking it over. "Well, he's our primogen; he'll help you if he can...and he knows business."
Seeming somewhat relieved that she didn't challenge his decision, Alic went on. "I am getting in with him, his organization." He watched her reaction carefully.
Dee met his stare with a practical look. "That's good..." Wheels turned behind her eyes as she fought with herself to say what was on her mind.
Alic seemed not to notice, a note of vigor coming into his voice as he said, "I'm sick of sitting around on my ass and doing nothing. I need to be like I used to be." He leaned over and pulled a wooden box out of a drawer near the bed.
"What was so great about what you used to be? I thought you wanted to get away from that?" She struggled to accept his choices, knowing it was important to him.
He looked at her, trying with his eyes to make her see. "Not anymore," he said. "I've had enough of peace time, Dee. I'm getting edgy. I need to let things out."
Softly, Dee replied, "I see..." She sat near him in silence, wrestling with her emotions. "Alic..." Her voice carried a storm of feelings with his name.
Alic looked to her, slowly opening the box in his lap. "Yeah?"
She twisted blankets in her fingers as she quietly spoke. "You know I...care for you..." She pierced the ocean of his eyes with an emerald gaze. "Do you think that's easy?"
He searched that gaze, then looked back to the box. "I...I don't know. I mean, yeah, I guess I know you care....You don't have to." He stiffened, as if waiting for a deathblow.
She ran a delicate finger along his neck. "Yes, I do. I've never had much choice about that. When my heart takes over it takes over." She withdrew her hand. "I fought that for a long, long time, till you came along."
A flash caught her eyes as Alic pulled the knife from the box. The shining blade was 12 inches long. Its handle was covered with Sabbat markings. Dee raised and eyebrow at it appreciatively.
Alic smiled at her from behind the blade. "Everything happened pretty quickly, Dee. I love you. Not gonna let anyone hurt you." His expression turned grim as he twirled the knife in his hand. "But there are some things I have to do." The blade stopped spinning and he went on, "I got it from New York City, from someone I aced. It's got silver...they say it helps kill the wolves better."
Dee mumbled, "Yeah, silver for wolves..." Her voice trailed away. "I understand. It's just that...I...I don't know if I can watch you throw yourself away." She stared down at the blankets, unable to let him see her expression.
Reaching a hand to her chin, Alic gently brought her face up. "I am not throwing myself away..."
Her eyes held him at a distance as she strove to believe him. "Promise?"
He smiled at her. "Yeah, I promise. I know what I'm getting into." Almost unconsciously, he gripped the handle of the knife, trailing it down the side of his wrist.
In sudden shock, Dee's eyes locked to the line of blood slowly forming on her lover's pale skin. "What are you doing?"
Alic clenched his teeth as the blood dripped from his wrist. "You've never drank my blood..."
Dee reached a finger out, lifting some of the blood from his arm to her lips. She took the knife gently out of his hand. Closing his eyes, Alic reached his right hand out to her shoulder. Dee blinked against the tears forming in her eyes. "Alic...you don't have to..."
He pulled her close in answer. "No one ever said I did." His lips nuzzled her neck. He could feel her body tremble in his embrace. "I don't listen to anyone anyway."
She turned her head away, letting him come closer. His hand ran slowly down her side as his tongue flicked across her neck. She growled softly as his bite sunk slowly into her flesh. He pulled away, letting her blood flow down her neck, then leaned forward to drink. Gently, he laid her down on the bed. Holding him close, she rolled atop him. He released her throat and she looked in his eyes. He met hers boldly. "I am not leaving, Dee."
She smiled and reached for his arm. Raising his hand to her lips, she let her kisses travel to his cut wrist. She lapped gently at the sluggish blood. Alic let his head fall back, his gaze traveling out the window to rest on the night skyline.
Damienne released his wrist, a serious look on her face. "Just, be careful. Even if there's no one else, I care what happens to you." A drop of blood fell to his chest from her eye. "Don't leave...me."
Alic sat up against the headboard and pulled her close to his chest. "I can't..." He planted a lingering kiss on her lips. "I'd rather die...than leave."
Dee's face remembered its beauty as she smiled her brightest, overcome with rare happiness. "I'd rather you didn't..."
He grinned and leaned forward to lick off the last trickle of blood on her neck.
She faced him again and he raised an eyebrow in question. "But Alic, as for Ryk, I don't want to know about that stuff...unless you need to tell me. Ok?"
He nodded in acceptance. "Only if you ask." An evil grin spread across his face. "Or hear about it."
She withdrew from him, needing the distance to say what she had to. "You know, sometimes I just have to hit the road. Alic. But if I do, I'll be back."
He smiled in understanding. "Everyone does. I wouldn't try to stop you..."
She smiled back, stroking his shoulder. "And I won't get in the way of what you need to do either. I've had my revenge..."
His eyes glinted with promised danger. "I don't know if I have, but only time will tell."
SMT & NB 1997
Mini arc of stories about a vampire hunter who crossed Dee & Alic's path