|Ar Dhul ó Sholas Dó ::After Dark::
Author: GaelachAmhran PM
College student Danika meets the enigmatic Kaedan...while hunting a vampire...in Boston? She's soon caught in a supernatural world with a Celtic twist and falling in love with the beautiful, dangerous, silver-haired immortal is the least of her problems.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Fantasy - Chapters: 34 - Words: 111,049 - Reviews: 245 - Favs: 78 - Follows: 76 - Updated: 11-27-09 - Published: 04-16-07 - id: 2347651
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
All the weird words are derived from Irish Gaelic so just pronounce them any way you please because it's waaay too hard to explain Irish Gaelic. (Translation at the bottom in case you want to see) Oh and stuff gets explained along the way so if it makes no sense now, don't worry about it.
Just outside of Galway, 1823
Kaedan McAllistair tipped the large mug back and drank the rest of the dark, thick beer before slamming it back on the table. He wished he could get drunk. Just his luck that his kind was immune to human diseases and weaknesses. But this was one time when alcohol could have actually done some good, could have brought him some welcome oblivion. He wanted to be drunk and unconscious, like the stinking wretch passed out at the table nearby. The man turned toward Kaedan with a happy, slurping groan and smiled in his sleep, as if to agree with Kaede's assessment of the joys of inebriation. Kaedan shoved his hands into his silver hair, resting his elbows on the bar, and let his eyes follow the cracked patterns in the rough wood.
The door of the pub swung open and three farmers wandered in, bringing with them the smell of horse sweat and fresh turned earth. Kaedan's nostrils flared as the breeze from the open door brought another scent, something a less natural, much less human.
A moment later, a tall, lightly built young man with striking blond hair and summer blue eyes slid onto the stool next to his.
"Ponderin' the mysteries of the universe, are we?" he asked, his Irish brogue heavier than Kaedan's had ever been.
"Death," Kaedan said succinctly. "I've been thinking about death. Why are you so cheerful, Fionn?" He growled a little. "Never mind. You always are."
"Because, my dismal friend, I'm not thinkin' about death. Morrigan's shadow, you look like you've been chattin' with ghosts." Fionnbharr MacCumhail studied his friend with concern.
"About ghosts," Kaedan corrected softly. His silver-blue eyes suddenly focused and he looked at Fionn. "Mairead paid me a visit not an hour ago."
Fionn's cheerful demeanor finally shifted to serious, at least mostly serious, anyway. "And why would her most high and mighty Cruinniú majesty deign to make conversation with you?"
Kaedan allowed himself a wry smile. Mairead wasn't always a bitch. She'd just been a little full of herself since the Cruinniú, the high council which Fionn, Kaedan, Mairead and all their kind obeyed, had picked her, despite the fact she hadn't even been alive for half a millenium. She was the youngest council member in recorded history, but as the youngest, she was the least important of them and often got sent on little errands, like when she visited Kaedan.
Fionn waved a hand in front of Kaede's face. "Are you there, friend?" He smiled, but still looked worried.
Kaedan shook his head a little. "Mairead told me that Gareth was killed. By Ashera."
Fionn swore long and low. He looked up and signalled the bartender to bring them a pitcher of beer. Gareth McAllistair, who had lived for nearly eight hundred years, was dead?
"How?" Fionn asked. "I thought your father swore to let the feud be. Didn't he and Ashera both declare peace?"
"Peace?" Kaede snarled, his starry silver-blue eyes going utterly black. "With a daemon! He should have known better than to start a war with Ashera in the first place and he certainly should've thought before he trusted Ashera to uphold a bargain." He slammed his hand on the bar again and it gave a groan of protest. Fionn sent him a cautioning look, glancing up to see if anyone had noticed the show of unnatural strength.
"Easy, friend," he said, his voice soft.
"The truly brilliant part of all this," Kaede continued, "is that they seem to think that I might take up the war to avenge my father, as if I would ever be that foolish. So they're sending me to the Americas."
"America," Fionn repeated, his nose wrinkling. "When?"
"Tomorrow night," Kaedan replied glumly. "Richmond, Virginia. James Brokeridge is the Scáth Siúlóir there. I'm supposed to replace him." He sighed. "I don't have time to take leave of anyone. Except you." He would be across an ocean, weeks of travel, from all of his friends. It wasn't a pleasant thought.
"I would've tied Mairead to a fence post by her hair," Fionn declared.
"Sure, and that wouldn't have gotten you into trouble," Kaede said with a grin that showed off his sharp incisors.
"Yes, she already doesn't like me terribly much," Fionn agreed cheerfully. He sent his friend a sly look. "Or you either, boyo. Didn't she offer to be bedmates some while back?"
Kaedan snorted. "That was twenty years ago at least. I doubt she's thought of it since. I haven't."
Fionn looked doubtfully as his friend. Fionn knew that he himself was attractive enough to turn heads whenever he entered a room, but he'd seen the reactions of the women when Kaede walked past. Kaedan's eyes were alluring, dangerous, beautiful – blue flecked with silver, with long almost white lashes. Pale, silver-white hair, just above his shoulders, was pulled away from his face leaving just enough to tease his eyes and brush against his cheeks. He appeared no more than twenty or so, his slender physique and average height concealing the fact that he easily have broken the solid wooden counter with very little effort. His long-fingered, aristocratic hands fingered the half-empty beer mug with studied carelessness. He had no idea how he looked to other people. Fionn shook his head. Mairead had no doubt been stung when Kaedan showed no interest in sleeping with her.
"A toast to the Americas then," Fionn said after a reflective silence, lifting his mug. "And to all the evil beasts you'll vanquish while you're there."
Kaedan raised his glass before swallowing a huge mouthful. The bitter taste didn't bring unconsciousness with it, but suddenly he felt a little bit better. Still, he couldn't imagine living in the newly formed United States. Nothing about the young, over-enthusiastic nation interested him. He would probably have to stay there for a few centuries before they let him come home again. Hundreds of years in a country filled with free-spirited, stubborn, over enthusiastic colonists with nothing to recommend them. Nothing in the Americas could possibly be of interest to him. The sooner he got out of there, the better.
Boston, Massachusetts, 2007
"The sooner I get out of here, the better," Danika groaned to no one in particular as she curled up on the uncomfortable library couch, cursing school in general, math in particular. She was tired. College was tiring. Friends were tiring. Trying to figure out what her calc professor wanted from her on the next test was downright exhausting.
Here she was, almost done with her junior year at Emerson College, and all she could think about was running away to some very small country with a name too hard to spell and living in a hut where it didn't matter if you could translate Old English texts or decipher ridiculous, pointless calculus problems or not. She pictured long afternoons on the beach, sipping frothy, alcoholic beverages out of coconut shells. What a beautiful thought.
She curled further into the corner of the uncomfortable couch, turning up the music in her iPod and using her hair as a thick, curly blonde curtain to hide her from the world. Beaches. Coconuts. Sleep…
Can't hear you. Since her hair was in curly mode that day, it completely hid her face, which meant that Jessie couldn't see whether or not she was actually asleep.
"Niki, I know you're not asleep. You couldn't possibly sleep with music that loud in your ears. I can hear it from here. You do know you'll go deaf and I don't know sign language. You don't either."
I'm asleep… sleeping. Dead to the world. In a coma. Yes, a nice long coma.
"Niki, get up! We promised to meet Kari and Ben to work on that A you so desperately want in math. I could just tell them, you changed your mind and settled for a B…"
Danika groaned. Jessie was evil and maniuplative and a horrible best friend.
"Fine. I'm awake." She groaned and sat up, shoving curls out of her face. Jessie gave her cheek a cheerful pat and Danika resisted the urge to snap and shorten those fingers by an inch or two.
"Come on. You'll feel better after you do some nice, easy calculus problems."
"Calculus is never easy. And I'm majoring in English literature. Why the hell do I need to know calculus? It defies the imagination."
Jessie waved a hand in Danika's face, dismissing an argument she'd heard many times before.
"I just want to take a nap," Danika sighed.
"Not until you eat something and do that math." Jessie studied her friend with disapproval as they walked through the library headed for the Common where green grass and dangerous frisbees awaited them. Danika was just over five feet, putting her firmly in the short category. She was also very slender. Tiny, even. The kind of person a very strong wind might send off into the wild blue yonder She often forgot to eat if her friends didn't remind her. And Danika did look tired today. She needed food. Her amber gold eyes were heavier than usual and she moved slowly.
Ben and Kari had spread a blanket under one tree and were beckoning enthusiastically. Much too enthusiastically for calculus.
"At least you tracked her down," Ben commented, scooting over to allow Jessie room to flop down next to him. He began playing with her short, light brown hair the way she most enjoyed and she purred like an overindulged cat. They were the cutest and most nauseating couple on the planet, Kari and Danika agreed.
"Library again?" Kari asked.
"Mmph," Jessie affirmed.
"I'm too tired to do math," Danika told them.
"Well you don't have to do it right away. I have news," Kari said, dark brown eyes very wide and excited. She was the young one in the group, a sophomore to the others' junior. But her ability to destroy Ben in any verbal sparring match they had had won her a place in their group.
"Do tell. Anything to put off math," Danika sighed, lying back on the edge of the old blanket. A stalk of grass tickled her ear, but she was too sleepy to brush it away.
"Someone was murdered downtown last night," Kari told them.
That was very sad, but not entirely shocking. They waited for the exciting part.
"It was a student," Kari continued. "From Emerson."
"Who?" Danika demanded, sitting up.
"Some freshman. Daniel something or other, I think. I didn't recognize the name. Albright! Daniel Albright. And this is the weird part." She leaned close. "He was killed by a vampire."
The reaction this time was more disbelieving than shocked. Kari read an unhealthy number of fantasy novels. Her favorite was Twilight by Stephenie Meyer and she claimed that Edward was her One True Love. Danika often wondered if she might need therapy of some sort.
"Why do you say that?" Jessie asked, hair-stroking forgotten.
"It was on the news," Kari defended herself.
"Well, then it must be true," Ben said sarcastically.
"They said the body had two puncture wounds on the shoulder and was drained almost dry of blood," Kari continued. "I mean, what else could it have been? Are there wolves in Boston now? And if there were, would they leave two very neat teeth marks, more like punctures, and suck just the blood out? Vampire is the only thing that makes sense."
"Maybe it's Edward!" Jessie whispered loudly.
"No," Kari declared. "Edward is not a killer. He only eats animals. He would not do that. Do not besmirch my love." The fact that she talked about him as if he truly existed was beyond disturbing.
"Oh for the love of sanity, I would almost rather do math," Danika moaned. She pulled her book out of her bag and found a pencil. The others looked equally unenthusiastic and gathered around to discuss Danika's calculus problems. Problems, being the key word.
Danika picked at her lunch and barely listened during her Early English Literature class. She was free by two-thirty that afternoon. She found her car and headed home.
Living alone was often lonely, but she needed it sometimes. Living on campus had been fun, but after her dad died, it just seemed wrong to leave the house empty, or to sell it. It was a two-story townhouse in a beautiful neighborhood. Her dad had been dead for nearly two years. Most everyone had forgotten about it.
She hadn't, of course. Living with just a father since she was five had been different, but she liked it. Her mother had been part of some government agency – her father hadn't talked about it much – and died in a car accident before her sixth birthday. Her father had been a detective for the police force. He believed in imparting as much knowledge as he could to his child as well.
She was a third degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and Hapkido and had learned to fight with knives and shoot both pistol and various rifles with tedious accuracy. It hadn't even stopped there. He talked to her about his cases and let her give suggestions. Her greatest triumph had been helping him solve the kidnapping of a little boy when she was seventeen.
She was dealing with her father's death. She still liked to stop by his old office and talked with some of his friends on occasion. They let her practice hand to hand combat with them or use the range for gun practice (she'd gotten her concealed weapon permit at nineteen because of her "connections" on the force). The new recruits were always put up against her because the others got such a laugh out of watching her beat the crap out of them before they realized that she was dangerous despite her size.
Her massive, long-haired gray cat, Machiavelli, leaped at her from his favorite stalking spot behind a chair. He managed to wrap himself around her neck and started purring into her ear.
"At least someone has some energy," Danika sighed. She wandered into the kitchen to find some leftovers for dinner. Her old german shepherd, Sniper, climbed very slowly to her feet and made her painful, arthritic way up to Danika to lick her hand. Sniper had been an amazing police dog once and she could still smell trouble before it reached the front door. Danika scratched her ear.
The phone rang, a shrill annoying sound she rarely heard these days. Her friends knew to call her cell. Puzzled, she pushed Machiavelli off her neck. The cat hit the floor with a disgruntled yowl and strutted over to lie next to Sniper, providing the old dog with a vibrating heater which she enjoyed immensely.
"Hi… Is this Danika Blake?" it was a girl's voice. She sounded scared, or maybe like she'd been crying.
"Yes." Danika thought she recognized the voice, but couldn't place the name. "Who is this?"
"Lindsey, from Western Civ last semester? We used to study together and… I know it's been awhile."
"Oh, hey, Lindsey. What's going on? Is something wrong?"
"Yeah." Her voice cracked and Danika shifted uneasily. She didn't like when people cried at her. She didn't know how to be comforting. "Well, I don't know if you heard, but… My boyfriend, um, Dan. Dan Albright."
Daniel Albright. Danika blinked. That was Lindsey's boyfriend?
"I heard. I'm…really sorry. I didn't know he was your boyfriend. I'm so sorry. I know it must be hard for you right now. Let me know if there's anything I can do."
"Yes, there is. That's why I called."
It had just been one of those polite things you said. Danika leaned against the kitchen counter and waited.
"I…heard about what you did for Marcus last year. Everyone knows. You saved his life. Even the police couldn't find him. You're good at finding things and… I was wondering if you could find the killer for me."
"Find…the killer? Lindsey, why are you asking me to do this? It just happened last night. The police are looking. You need to give them a chance to do their job." And she didn't need to get involved with crazy vampire killers when she had a big calc test coming up either.
"I've been asking. They won't tell me anything. I don't think they have anything to tell me. The news said there were absolutely no traces left by the killer. Just the…the body. I just thought you could…look at the, I don't know, the scene of the crime. Just check. Please?"
Why am I nice? Why can't I be a bitch and say no to the needy friend out of pure selfish need to rest and relax? Why oh why do I always say--
"Alright. I'll take a look. But, Lindsey, I don't work miracles. I'm not going to go hunting vampires or anything."
"I don't believe in vampires," Lindsey snapped, her voice shaky with angry tears. "It was some sadist who thought it would be…funny to make it look like…" And she started crying again.
"Look, Lindsey here's my cell number." Danika waited until she was sure Lindsey had written it down. "Give me yours now. Okay, when I have anything, or if I don't, I'll let you know."
"I'm sorry this happened, I really am. I'll talk to you later, okay?"
Danika shoved her fingers through her hair and groaned. She would have to talk to Garrett. She found her coat again and said goodbye to her furry companions before locking up and going out once more. And all she'd wanted was some sleep.
Kaedan opened his eyes, blinking up at the dark ceiling. Dusk. He stretched, yawned, and rolled off the bed. He felt vaguely weak. How long had it been since he'd taken energy? Too long, apparently. He'd need to go out tonight. There was a club on Lark Street that had convenient dark corners. He got dressed, yawning again, and wandered over to the door to pick up his newspaper.
He intended to scan it briefly, not interested the goings on of a relatively safe city, but the front cover heading blazed up at him.
Vampires In Boston?
He read the article quickly, frowning at certain parts, snorting in derision at the comments of the highly imaginitive journalist. Well, at least there was something interesting to occupy his time tonight.
He found his jacket and shrugged into it. His silver hair was quickly restrained with a dark hairband. He glanced around the room once and left.
Words you need to know now or later:
Cruinniú – literally "gathering" , the Council
Damnú air – Damn it
Diabhal - demon
Go gcodlaí tú – pretty much means "sleep well" or just "get some sleep"
Marbh Daoine – dead ones (vampires)
Scáth – shadow
Siúlóir – walker
Solas – light
Síoraí Daoine – endless ones
Tuatha Dé Danann – people of the goddess Danu