Chapter Five

Raine, Kevin, and Lissa walked on stage to the encouraging roar of the crowd. With the bubbling alcohol in their blood and on their breath, they shouted and whistled, happy to see the show finally starting, regardless of whom was taking the stage Headliners, local band that no one ever heard of, it was all the same to them.

She stood there, her guitar and the microphone in front of her, people screaming at her, and her stomach clenched and she breathed slowly and deeply. Her heart was racing in a way that almost demanded that she breathe quickly to match pace. It was a good feeling. Nerves right before a performance. She basked in the glow of the lights that were on her.

Trying not to get overly distracted by all the people there watching, Raine slid her pick out from under the strings of her guitar's neck as Kevin picked up his bass and slung it over his bare-shoulder, Lissa sitting herself down behind her drums in the center back, spinning her sticks a bit in her hands to loosen up. Raine looked back and over at her friends and smiled excitedly. Kevin winked at her and Lissa blew her a playful kiss with a pucker of her lips.

Taking a deep breath Raine turned to the crowd.

"Is everyone crunked?" she called into the microphone. The crowed cheering answered her question as to whether they were excited or not and she bit her purple bottom lip as she smiled. "Welcome to Fright Night!" she greeted. She introduced the band, and Kevin and Lissa each made some shout outs over their respective microphones, Lissa more than anyone. The crowd was practically frothing from their excitement, and Raine felt it too. It was a thrill, she was terrified, but it was a safe kind of fear, like a rollercoaster. It was a fun kind of fear, like a scary movie.

With the crowd ebbing in their shouts and catcalls for the moment, Raine knew it was time to get started.

"Ready…?" she mouthed to Kevin and Lissa as they started up. Raine had sat back stage tweaking her guitar, going over her cords, looking their songs over and over and making sure she knew their lineup (which had changed twelve times that day), and singing to herself to loosen her voice and nerves. All Raine could do was warm up her fingers, tune and re-tune her guitar, and sing to Kevin and Lissa as they went through much of the same before-show routine. Raine felt relaxed now that she was playing, but the knot in her stomach only truly loosened once she started singing. It was then that she was past the point of no return. There was no way she could just drop her guitar and run off stage once she was singing, so she just smiled and sang in the warm glow of the flashing and dazzling stage lights.

As she sung and Kevin and Lissa harmonized with her, Raine looked around at all the different people that were there, smiling at them, making eye contact with different people for brief moments. This was a high she would hate to have to come down from because she had no nerves left and she was coasting on a raw rush of excitement, and it was wonderful. With the bloody axes in their heads and the rubber clown masks on their faces, the crowed reflected the holiday they were gathered there to celebrate with loud music and alcohol.

Glancing to the right, over to Kevin, during a momentary break in her singing, Raine smiled and she played. He was dressed like some army commando. Camouflage pants tucked into combat boots, a many-pocketed vest over his naked toned chest where fake ammo had crisscrossed before he had taken it off so he could wear his bass' strap more comfortably. He finished his costume with a red headband over his forehead like Rambo, clashing slightly with his florescent red hair. He had been forced to take off his fake guns by the club manager, and Raine was sure the red-hair and facial piercings weren't army regulation, but he otherwise looked the part well.

Raine again looked out at the audience as she sang the chorus of the song, her fingers on her left hand pressing down on the strings, her right hand strumming the guitar with her purple plastic pick. Skimming the crowd her eyes fell and lingered on three people in the middle she had somehow missed previously scanning. Two young men and a woman, though they looked like they were enjoying the music, they were standing still rather then moshing like everyone else. One of the black haired boys, the one that was not groping the woman with them, was staring at her as though he was trying to look right through her eyes and past her head, to the distant wall behind her.

Unable to take in and discern his face with her eyes caught in his, unable to look away, Raine looked right back. They were blue, but not a normal blue, not a natural blue; they were like electricity running through deep water, lightning in a midnight sky, both dark and bright at the same time. Even from such a distance his eyes were shocking, startling, extraordinary, unlike anything she had seen before. His gaze was both unnerving, and irresistible, more of a thrill than the rush she had experienced walking onto that stage. It felt like he was drawing her to him with his eyes, they becoming all there was to see as the seemed to fill her vision. It was a tug in the back of her mind, like a rope around her waist, pulling her somewhere very cold. Her mind was feeling numb as the scene around her started to fade, like the effects of a head rush after sitting up too fast. Her knees felt weak and the black centers of his eyes seemed to expand to accept her in, all of her in, so that she fell whole body into them and the blackness beyond.

A shudder swept down her back but Raine kept playing, swaying slightly but able to remain standing. Blinking repeatedly she looked in the direction away from the boy, finishing her song with only a slight blunder while the boy's eyes had distracted her so. She was sure no one but Kevin (who was looking over at her questioningly) had noticed.

The young man's eyes had been so familiar to her somehow, like she had seen them before, somewhere, resembling almost the effects of a distant dream: their sensation lingered with her for a few moments. She dared not look back at him to know his face in fear that she would faint this time. Curiosity ate away at her, but her fear was stronger than even that. She kept her eyes on the other half of the crowed, her mind on her music.

Christian needed absolute proof that Raine was one thing or another, human or non-human, magical or just lucky. Clear, who could read Raine's aura just as effortlessly as the older vampires beside her, sensed no indication that Raine was anything but an average human, that Raine had any sort of exceptional means of being capable of besting Christian. She might have teased Christian about being pathetic and such, but she knew he was honestly an effective hunter, and therefore remained dubious.

Her excitement left Raine wide open and vulnerable for Christian's mental intrusion, even if she were some sort of paranatural that would otherwise be capable of blocking him. She was being careless, and he took advantage of that. This was the first time since that failed night that he was so close to her and in a position where he could see into her. He was confident that she was just a girl, her aura suggested as much, but only a thorough sweep of her mind would produce incontrovertible results. He was still conflicted in what he wanted out of her, it was a sort of lose-lose situation for him. She was either human and he was just incompetent, or she was something more and he had somehow failed to recognize it and therefore was…incompetent.

Christian was in a bad mood already without even having the answer yet.

Drawing Raine's attention to him was easy, she looked over to him instantly, and when their eyes met a connection was made that he was able to use to draw her in and attempt to invade her thoughts. He looked deep into her mind, skipping over the irrelevant parts, ignoring the disorderliness, and taking her in for all that she was worth. A mind was not a book that could be opened and easily read, it was a honeycomb of memories and thoughts, emotions and experiences, all interwoven in no discernible order, fractured by active thought and reaction. He only wanted to know what she was, so he kept to skimming only the surface, looking for any indication that she was more than human: training, learning, fear, something that would indicate she knew vampires.

He found that disastrous night just four days prior since it had not yet been filed away into deep memory, and saw what Raine must have seen through her eyes. The chase, the plan she had come up with on the spot, and then the long walk home. This all flashed by instantly in his mind, coming with much emotion, causing him to sway slightly from its intensity but it all being something he was prepared to deal with. He saw nothing that gave any indication that she knew what she had been dealing with, her apparently believing he had been nothing more than a mugger, a pervert, a human. He saw no instinctual reactions that would reveal her to be anything but a typical human girl caught in a frightening circumstance. He wanted to go deeper, drawing her into the abyss of his mind, to try and find some kind of training, some kind of explanation as to why his abilities and influence had seemed so inhibited and dull, but she pulled her eyes away and continued playing, looking unaffected but for a little shaken.

Their connection had broken, but not abruptly, not cleanly. They were left with a lingering sensation of each other for a moment as they slowly pulled apart with something like a string stretched between them for a moment before it finally broke and fell away, like sticky, melted taffy in between a child's fingers.

Christian blinked in surprise before turning to Augustus who glanced up at Raine and then to him again. He then asked what happened.

"She broke mine eye contact." He projected his disbelief directly to Augustus's mind over all the music and noise. He had just done a sweep, he had seen nothing, nothing! She shouldn't have been able to do that. "She just…looked a'vay. I did not sense any'zing from her but she, she just looked a'vay," he said, unable to accept what the girl had just done. It was not something that anyone had ever been able to do to him before. What was she?

"Did you find out what the heck she is on about? Is she human?" Clear asked, getting impatient with his silence.

"Human as near as I can tell, but I have no clue 'vhat is going on, she could not feel more human if she tried, yet she 'vas able to break 'ze connection I made like it 'vas staring contest she just did not 'vant to continue. I do not understand 'zis," he said filling her in as well before just rambling on angrily in Russian to himself.

"That doesn't make sense. Even as a young vampire you were exceptional at capturing and holding a person with your mind, Chris. Only another vampire would be able to break your connection like that, I mean, no witch, morphanthrop, let alone human, is powerful enough psychically to rival us, right?" she asked, looking from Christian to Augustus, each on either sid of her, hoping one of them would be able to answer her.

"Maybe she is a dhampir," Augustus suggested and both Christian and Clear looked over at him.

"You can't be serious," she said, her skepticism obvious already.

"Well, you said so yourself, Clear, only a vampire could have broken the connection, right?"

"Dhampir are not vampire," Christian argued.

"They are close enough. Think about it, you cannot capture her mind, Chris, and I just tried and failed, so it is clearly no shortcoming of your own, and she feels human, like you said, she couldn't feel more human if she tried. Maybe she is trying."

"It is not possible,'ve 'vould know, I 'vould have known."

"They are natural hunters of us, Chris, it would make sense, they can sense us but we can't sense them."

"But she doesn't seem to know 'vhat I am, she thought I 'vas human. If she could sense me she 'vould have known and I 'vould have seen it just now."

"She could be manipulating what you see, because she does know what you are," Augustus disputed.

"I do not believe she is child of vampire, I do not," Christian said stubbornly.

"Well, she is something, something indeed," Augustus said thoughtfully, looking back up at the stage, Clear doing the same, Christian focusing somewhere far away, deep in thought.

Raine and her friends ended their second song to the applause of the inebriated crowd and they took that moment to walk over to one another and talk before starting up again. Raine started to sing again, and listening to her with deepening interest, Christian had to admit that he liked her voice. It was fun and well pitched.

So she could sing, and she was little and cute, and she was dressed is a skirt so short that the angle from which he stood from the stage nearly promised him a glance of what she wore underneath, but none of that was enough to distract him. Much.

He still was not sure what he was dealing with. A dhampir? Was she the daughter of a vampire? He didn't believe so, but he just wasn't sure.

In what seemed like an extremely short amount of time to Raine, they were finished and left the stage for the headliners to set up to the noise of much cheering. Raine was glad they were opening that night. So much less stress while just as much fun. Kevin was the serious musician in the group. Raine knew he would go on to do big things, maybe Lissa too. As for herself, she was just in it for the three Fs: fun, friends, and free drinks. Raine helped get her and her friends' gear off the stage and to Benji's van with a bounce in her step, excitement still surging through her like a drug, the high incredible, her skin practically vibrating with the after-glow of her performance.

The cool night air was refreshing on Raine's overheated face. The lights on the stage were at first warm and comforting, but had quickly grown hot and uncomfortable. She had built up quite the sweat while performing.

Between Kevin, Lissa, and her, they got everything outside pretty swiftly. The amps, the instruments, and the drum set, were all loaded in the van for the most part before Raine went back in to get a bottle of water for her dry throat. Climbing in and out of the van had done nothing to help her with her parched throat or sticky sweat, and she would be hoarse by morning if she didn't quench it.

"I need aqua," she said whipping her forehead with the back of her forearm, leaving Lissa and Kevin to amuse themselves while she was gone.

Raine moved through the crowd to the bar where she nabbed some water. She held the bottle to her forehead, letting it cool her down, before opening it and taking a gulp. The cold liquid flowed down her desert of a throat, relieving the scratchiness her singing had created, and quenching that thirst that had made her tongue thick. She stood for a moment, eyes closed, music pounding in her ears, relaxing despite the vibrant energy humming in the large room. Upon finally opening her eyes, she saw three people before her, like they had just appeared out of thin air in that brief moment she had not been looking. They stood in a line, side-by-side, unmoving and silent. Raine realized, now that the girl was not making out with the one guy, that she was actually Clear: the young woman she had spoken with on Monday evening while here in the club. She also then recognized one of the boys as Christian Vladimir, from her school. She was unsure who the second boy was, but he looked about the same age if not a little older. College age perhaps.

The three came the few steps over to the bar, Clear sitting down next to Raine, the two boys left standing unnaturally yet comfortably still just a few feet away.

"Hello again, Raine," Clear said with a smile that showed just how nefarious she felt at the moment.

"Hi," Raine said before taking another quick sip of her water. "Clear, right?"

"Right," she said with a point of her finger like a gun at Raine.

"And you're Chris? I have seen you around school I think," she said, turning to Christian who was looking as withdrawn and timid as she had ever seen him though he nodded in acknowledgment at least. He had the hood of his sweatshirt up and his head angled down a fraction so that his eyes were hidden from her. He was not very tall, and he was very lean, almost too skinny really. He had long legs and arms that were like pipe cleaners, but also a thin torso to go along that his sweatshirt could not hide. He was the kind of boy that was not handsome but pretty, far too feminine in the face to ever be called a 'hunk'. His nose saved him, in Raine's opinion, from looking too effeminate. It was larger without being the outstanding feature on his pale face. It seemed to suit him well, if he would but look up and she could take him in as a whole. With his curls hiding his eyes she couldn't remember if she had ever even seen them before. He always seemed to be wearing sunglasses in her memory.

"Right-o," Clear answered for him. "I heard you two already knew each other," she said while giggling, Christian tilting his head to the side just enough to glare at her through his hair, eyes ablaze but Raine missing it. Clear turned on her swiveling stool to hold out her hand to the boys as though she were Vanna White, revealing a new letter or prize. "These fine gentlemen are my friends. That little freak right there is Chris, as you know," she said, pointing to Christian at the end, "and this is my boyfriend," she paused for a moment while pointing at the boy beside her, then finishing with a grin, "Decimus." Augustus glanced over to Clear with a look of surprise before forcing a smile onto his face.

"Decimus, Decimus Augustus. Pleasure," he said with his most charming smile as he held out his hand. Christian was not the only one that Clear liked to taunt, especially when it came to names and nicknames. He was not about to reward or encourage her by getting upset, but how dare she give Raine that name.

"Nice to meet you, I'm Raine, Raine Storm."

She accepted his hand while taking the opportunity to check him out. He was tall - more so than Christian at least- and strong, with skin that should have been so much darker but seemed to have been hidden from sunlight for a little too long. His shoulders were broad and his arms muscular, but not bulky, so he was well balanced. His eyes were deep, deep blue, almost black, and his eyelashes, like his hair, were black. His eyes had a seductive power to them, but she did not feel drawn into them. They were not the eyes she had met in the crowd. His clothing was little more than a simple black t-shirt that hugged his chest, and a pair of loose-fit black denims, and a studded belt. He reeked of masculinity in a Calvin Cline model sort of way, a sharp contrast to little Christian as they stood side-by-side.

Raine had to admit, Clear had found herself two very nice looking boys in the spectrum of all that was hot. She made to offer her hand to Christian at that part as part of the introductions, but he did not reciprocate. He made no mention of school, or any attempt in engaging in the introductions or conversation, if fact, he said nothing. Raine looked at him but kept his hands deeply stuffed into his sweatshirt's pouch pocket over his lower stomach as he remained still as a statue. Raine looked at him with frowning brows before glancing to her left slightly at Augustus and then with her eyes over to Clear, looking for someone to break the ice Christian had unintentionally created.

"Don't let Chris put you out. He's just a dork and isn't into handshaking. Doesn't do the casual touching thing you see," Clear explained as she stood to circle him and patted him on the shoulder as though to comfort him in his unease but intent on quite the opposite. Christian pulled away from her predictably and she smiled as he threw some rather rude thoughts her way, Raine missing the transaction entirely. He would really appreciate it if his friends didn't go out of their way to make fun of him, but then, Clear never though of it as a trouble to bother the crap out of Christian.

"Raine Storm? That certainly is an interesting na-"

"-Don't say it," Raine cut off, nearly glaring at Augustus but refraining, swallowing her instant aggression. "Sorry, my name is typically the first thing people will start poking fun at, then it is just a floodgate," she explained, Augustus just smiling.

"I think it is lovely name," Christian finally said softly, almost in Raine's defense. Raine could not help but blush at his accent as she was complimented. She couldn't help it, she was only human. She did not know what language it was he spoke originally, Russian? He was a transfer student at her school, yet she knew nothing about him, she couldn't even remember where he transferred from. That was unlike her. Surely her curiosity would have led her to find out more about him since September when he had first appeared in the back of her homeroom. He was cute, that too would have been all the more incentive, and yet, realization hit her that she had never so much as talked to him before. It was like she had been oblivious to him or at the very least barely aware. It was an odd feeling.

"I like your costume, Raine," Augustus remarked, able to sense Raine's unease in her realization that she knew Christian but didn't know him. He didn't want her thinking on that. She had never noticed him because Christian had willed it to be so. No one at school paid much attention to him, because that was what Christian had wanted, but Raine seemed perplexed by this. There was certainly something odd about her if she would even question this small inconsistency in her mind, and the more he thought about it, the more he was sure she was a dhampir. "Are you a witch?" he asked, knowing the obvious answer.

"Yeah, I am," Raine said, raising her hand so she could run her fingertips across the brim of her hat. "Are you guys vampires?" she asked looking the three over, noticing their black clothing and pale complexions.

"That we are," Augustus stated flatly folding his arms to his chest, a smile creeping across his face to end as a grin wider than his first.

"Caps? Slammin'. I hear those are hard to get to stay put and then get in the way of talking," she said, sounding impressed in a cool drawling manner.

"You get used to them," Augustus laughed softly, Clear aiming a kick at him. He may have found it funny that they were teasing the girl about being vampires, but it was against the law to reveal such things. Desecration was their most important law and was very strictly enforced.

Raine laughed at the little exchange Clear and Augustus shared, a kick and a poke, but her attention was drawn away by the fact that Christian, who was unmoving and silent still, was staring at her, again. Finally seeing them on his face, she recognized those powerful blue eyes of his. They were the eyes she had almost gotten lost in. They were not drawing her in this time, but the energy was still there, contained but untamed. She would have said it was tinted contacts that achieved that color, but she knew that no contacts gave eyes the kind of power his emitted. They were beautiful eyes, and she didn't realize she was staring until Augustus said something.

"Raine?" he asked.

She shuttered as she pulled away from Christian's gaze, taking a breath that trembled.

"Sorry," she said, blinking slowly while looking down. Augustus gave Christian a stern look and Christian just gave him a shrug of his shoulders in a "what did I do?" fashion. He was trying to understand her; he couldn't help it he only knew of one way of doing so and that a side effect of that was Raine got a little loopy. The fact that she was not naturally fearful of them like a human would be was intriguing, but she seemed to have little defense against them either so as to imply that she had no training, but it took a whole lot of work to capture her at all meaning she has a whole lot of natural resistance. She was a real anomaly.

Raine recovered quickly.

"Well, you all look like vampires, or what I would expect them to be like," she said, looking at Augustus' and Clear's dark well fitted clothing, "except you, Chris. The ears on your sweatshirt, with that bit of shirt I can see peaking out, you look like the Cheshire Cat," she laughed. Christian blinked. It was true, his sweatshirt had cat ears on it, but his shirt was also then thickly striped in red and pink, and the two combined certainly give the impression of the character.

"Oh my god, kitten, she's right!" Clear gasped. She laughed openly, having more ammunition than ever to tease him, more so than just his tendency to wear pink. She did not care that it was "only in America" that the color carried such a taboo for men.

Christian glared at Clear and zipped his sweatshirt up to his throat. Augustus was no help; he was smiling in a way that showed just how hard he was trying not to laugh at him. Raine noticed Christian's un-appreciation for her observation and quickly tried to amend the situation. She didn't want to offend him so soon after meeting him for the first time. It seemed his friends reviled in mocking him, however, and she really didn't want to be in assistance to that.

"No, it's a good thing, I like it," she assured. "Alice in Wonderland is totally my favorite book from when I was little," she said, hoping to ease Christian's mood. She felt like her foot was in her mouth, a frequent problem with her.

Christian just blinked at her and was nudged in the ribs rather hard by Augustus and he blushed ever so slightly at what was projected to him that Raine did not hear. It was then that the headlining band walked out on stage, causing the crowd to become deafeningly loud. Raine looked up, then at her watch, then to the three vampires before her.

"Did you guys want to get back?" she shouted over the noise.

"No. We really only came to see you," Augustus said with a smile, nudging Christian again, hard, and Christian looking agitated as he nudged back harder in retaliation.

"Oh. Well, it's nice to know we have some fans," Raine said in an approving way, assuming that when Augustus had said "you" he had meant the whole band. "I'm gonna step out, care to join me?" she offered as she stood up.

"Sure," Augustus said quite readily, unnecessarily shoving Christian to get him moving, Christian glaring over his shoulder as Clear then shoved him too.

They made their way around the crowd rather than through it, up to the balcony, and exited out one of the doors that led to a back lot for employee parking. The pavement was cracked badly while gleaming wet from the rain they had been having all week. There was a single yellowish light that shone down from high up on the back of the building to illuminate the whole lot and shone on the wet ground. There only being one source of light, their shadows were long and the edges of the lot were very dark. Outside the music could still be heard, though dully muted once the dark metal door swung closed with a latching clunk.

Raine lead the way over to her car while removing her hat. She threw it into her backseat and she leaned as she scratched the roots of her hair, glad to be free of the hat finally, Clear, Augustus, and Christian moving slowly to join her. Her long bangs fell over her eyes and she brushed them to the side.

"So you came to see my band perform? Have you seen us play before?" Raine asked, still drinking her water while fanning herself with her hand, finding the night air refreshing.

"Chris dragged us out here. Said you were worth seeing," Clear lied, partially lied, Christian pursing his lips together, the silent conversation he was having with her not a friendly one. It was not fair, why must Augustus and her torment him so, while in front of Raine no less? They were so cruel to him, and not making this easy.

"Really? For such a fan, you certainly never made any attempt to speak to me in school," Raine laughed, Christian stopping in his pouting and glaring to look at Raine with his luminous eyes and shrugged.

"Aw, he is just shy." Clear laughed, nudging him and Christian actually taking a swing at her, punching her in the arm. He had had enough with everyone touching and nudging, and elbowing him already, let alone with the teasing.

"So, you guys are into vampires?" Raine asked, continuing their conversation from inside, wanting to break the silence that had fallen between them after Christian's little backlash at Clear and Augustus moving to stand between them.

"Into? Yeah, I guess you can say it that way. I have been into vampires for years now," Augustus laughed, Clear's face suddenly pale with surprise and then bright pink with embarrassment as she then punched him in the arm hard. His joke was not funny.

Raine laughed, not really being in on the joke but amused none the less given the reaction he had gotten from Clear. Even Christian had smiled a little as he brushed his hair out of his eyes.

"Well, I love vampires, books, movies -even though the movies always suck- I find them fascinating," she said, looking at the two that were still hitting at each other. Augustus had Clear by both her wrists and spun her around to have her held to his chest, her own arms crossed over her chest and pinning her there. Christian smiled mischievously if not very subtly as he listened to Raine talk about her love for "vampires", or what she perceived them to be.

"You are a very interesting girl, Raine," Augustus said, Clear trying the wrench herself free, speaking for Christian and Clear at that point as they tried to understand this girl before them.

"Thanks. I would say 'I try' but I really don't," she said, trying to be nonchalant. "You don't all go to my school; I have not seen you around."

"Oh, Clear and I are out of school," Augustus said, Clear no longer struggling, pouting as she stood there. "Christian is the baby among us, still in school," he explained. Christian crossed his arms tightly against his narrow chest and pursed his lips again, back to pouting, still not joining in on the conversation with Raine. He was not a baby. He might have been the youngest of the three of them at death, but he had been a man when he had been brought over, and he made that very clear to the two of them.

"Ah, well, maybe you could make an effort to talk to me some time, Chris," she said and Christian relented in his pouting once again upon Raine looking directly at him. "Hey, maybe the three of you can hang out with my friends and I some time? It would be fun," she offered just as Kevin called across the lot to her.

"Hey! Raine," he shouted. The vampires all turned, and Raine looked beyond them to see her friends approaching.

"Hi guys, um, have you met Clear and Decimus? You already know Chris," she answered before taking another drink of her water.

"No," Lissa said simply. She was the first to reach them and bounced over to Raine, snatching the bottle from her while Raine was still taking a drink, almost spilling it down the front of her before finishing the rest herself.

"Hey, that's mine," Raine objected as she laughed at the same time, grabbing at the bottle but Lissa turning away as she finished it so that Raine could not reach. "Guys this is my best friend, Lissa." She kicked Lissa so she would put the bottle down and greet them. "And that is my other best friend Kevin, Lissa's boy-toy." As Kevin joined them he raised a hand in a sort of unenthusiastic wave. "Guys, this is Clear and Decimus, they are friend's of Chris's here and claim to be fans of ours," she explained. As Raine introduced each vampire she pointed to them and they gave a nod.

"Fabulous," Kevin said indifferently, not even gracing the vampires with a glance as he kept his attention fully on Raine. "Um Raine? We need to ask you, it's almost midnight and Lissa has to get home-"

"-Yah, or my dad's gonna kill me," Lissa interrupted.

"-But I can't leave until everything's finished here so as to get the rest of my amps. Could you take her home?"

"Oh sure, I was planning on leaving soon anyway, I'm really tired" she said, throwing an arm down around Lissa's shoulder to smile at Kevin with twin grins of impishness.

"Thanks, I gotta run," he said. He bent and gave Lissa a kiss or two before giving Raine a sort of low-five handshake and leaving. As he walked by, he looked at the three vampires as if he somehow knew they were dangerous, or that he did not trust them, or that he simply didn't like them. The vampires just looked back silently and unmoving but suddenly so much more intimidating without having done anything physical.

Lissa moved around the car and got in while Raine reached in through the open window and grabbed her bag.

"Here, this is my band's flyer," she explained as she handed Clear –now free of Augustus- a small pink piece of paper. "It has my phone number on the back, and Chris will surely see me at school. We can get together sometime, talk about music, or vampires, or whatever," she said with a shrug.

"Definitely," Christian said, one of the few things he said all night, plucking the slip of paper from Clear's hand and smiling.

"I'm gonna bounce then, so I'll catch you later."

Raine ducked in to her car and drove off within a moment, leaving the three vampires standing in the dark parking lot. Raine was physically tired but her mind was buzzed and awake. Lissa was next to her, gushing about how "sinfully delicious" Decimus had been, while Christian, as perusal, had not talked.

"Chris is in my English class, and I don't think I have ever heard him speak. I didn't think he spoke English in all honesty," she laughed.

"He does, he managed a whole sentence tonight…I think. Decimus says he's shy," she said as though that explained it

"Ooh, a cute shy boy. How scrumptious."

"Stop that, you have Kevin, you little whore," Raine reprimanded jokingly.

"I do, but I'm not blind, deaf, or dumb either. I can appreciate from a distance a nice piece of tail when it crosses my path just like any other woman, can't I?"

Raine just through her head back and laughed. The clouds had finally cleared up for the first time in days during the hours they had been in the club to reveal a nearly full moon which glistened on the wet pavement and the hood of her black car.

"You gonna hit that?" Lissa asked, enquiring on her intentions towards Christian.

"What? No…I don't even know him!" she objected, the two girls still laughing.

"You can't stay so wholesome forever, Raine. Knock boots with Christian, it will do you some hella good and you will be uptight," she mocked and Raine slapped and hit at her with her right hand, missing mostly or being blocked since she was watching the road while driving rather than her target beside her.

After dropping Lissa off at her father's house, Raine turned down the street and drove the two blocks it took to get home. It was nice that Lissa and she lived so close, part of the time anyways. Lissa's mother lived out by Kevin.

Raine pulled up her drive and the headlights reflected off of the distant white doors of the garage in the back until she parked. She sat there for a moment, however, perplexed at the reverberation drifting out of the house. Walking slowly towards the front door, great unease and confusion overwhelmed her. The lights were on but the curtains were drawn closed in the large bay windows of the front. She could hear loud music playing even though no one should have been home.

Who was inside?

The answer was presented to her once she was halfway up the walk.

An unknown man opened the front door for her and waved her in with a kind smile as though welcoming her to his home. The music was suddenly severe and loud, laughing conversations carrying out with it to her. Raine stood on the dark path for a second, the warm light from inside cutting across her at a harsh angle, leaving her in partial darkness as she stood silently, wondering still what the hell was going on and not feeling overly confident right then.

The man's face did not waver, in fact, his smile widened in an understanding way as he did a gracious sweeping motion with his hand while still holding the door open with the other, silently inviting her in for a second time. Raine narrowed her eyes at him for a moment more before marching up the three steps of the porch and to the door with sense of annoyance. The music was loud, loud enough that she had to resist putting her hands over her ears for a second.

Her house had been cleaned up considerably since that morning when she had last seen it. There wasn't the typical smell lingering in the air, and Raine had to wonder how that was even possible at that point.

Who were these people? What were they doing in her house? Where was her mother? Certainly her mother couldn't have been responsible for this, she did not have this many friends.

"And who do we have here?" came a smooth male voice from behind her practically dripping with a southern drawl.

Raine, with more than slight annoyance on her face, turned quickly to the young man. He stood casually but held himself distinguished, a quality most men his age had not yet perfected and few in this day and age would ever achieve. It made Raine think he was rich. Good breeding and wealth produced people who oozed condescension like he did. He was dressed in a red suit and had a glittering devil half-mask pushed up on his forehead. His hair, from what she could see of it, was black and short, his face pale and long. His eyes were rich aquamarine, deep and bright at the same time.

"I think that's my question seeing as this is my house," she snapped. Whoever she was talking to, she had never met him before and therefore felt he had no right to be interrogating her as to why she was in her own house. His audacity was enough to make her instantly more aggressive, anger good for concealing discomfort. The way he carried himself gave her reason to believe that he was the one behind whatever the hell was going on. He remained utterly cool and collected, however, despite Raine's hostility, and that lead only to her furry growing twofold.

He looked at her for a long moment, taking her in and considering her carefully. Raine did not like the amusement that spread across his face as he looked her up and down then in the eyes. He did not seem worried at all, or intimidated. In fact, he seemed happy and pleased, which only made Raine scowl more at him.

"My little rainstorm is all grown up, but not pleased to see me," he said.

"I don't know you."

"Your mother said you've grown but she neglected to say that it was in beauty as well as in stature," he said, grabbing her hands and bringing them both to his lips, leaving a small delicate kiss upon her knuckles.

"Okay, stop with the swagger and smiling and tell me what the hell is going on," she demanded.

"My name is Malachi, and these are some of my friends," he said quite calmly, not responding to her anger as he put his arm around her waist lightly, leading her through the crowd at his side. Looking up and over at him, Raine noticed that his hair was not short but in fact just past his shoulders and tied back in a low ponytail where it curled in a single graceful lock.

"Word," she said sarcastically, not happy with how this Malachi strutted around like he owned the place, and how unconcerned he was with her questions. And these were just "some" of his friends? There had to be more than thirty people cramped up in the downstairs alone. If anyone was upstairs, much less in her room, she was going to start punching people. "So, Malachi, this shindig of yours, it is in my house why?"

"Well, you see, my Halloween party was crashed by some rather unwelcome guests, so your mother -whom by the way is a good friend of mine- offered us her home for the party to continue," he explained smoothly and simply. As he spoke, as though on cue, a woman came into view through the crowd. She was dressed in a very flattering black dress that showed off a once beautiful figure gone slightly soft. The formal was long with white trimming around the off the shoulder collar, white covered buttons lining the center of her back as closure. She held a feathered mask on a slender stick to her face while laughing and joking with a group of people she seemed to know. Her faded gold hair was brushed and straight, shining as it came midway down her back.

"Snow darling, a moment please?" Malachi called. Raine's mother, upon being summoned, put down her wine glass and walked over to them. Raine's mouth dropped open and Malachi smiled, apparently getting the reaction he had wanted, or expected, from her. Raine could not believe it was her mother she was looking at.

She had never seen her mother look so nice, so elegant, so not drunk.

Her hair was not only freshly washed, but cut too. Her face was brushed with makeup and looked bright. Her gown looked new, and expensive. Raine realized for the first time that her mother was a very attractive woman…when she was not stumbling drunk in stained underwear that is. Beyond even that, Raine could see she looked happy for the first time since as far back as she could remember.

What the hell was going on?

"Who is that, and what have you done with my mother?" Raine asked, eyes unable to look away when she spoke to the young man beside her as her mother approached.

"I merely cleaned her up, jeweled, and gowned her," he replied with a smile, looking at Raine's mother too as she now joined them.

"Yes?" she asked, eyes only for Malachi, not even noticing her daughter gawking at his side.

"Thank you for allowing us to have our little get-together here. You make a wonderful hostess," Malachi said, bringing Snow's satin-gloved hand to his lips like he had with Raine moments before. "But, alas, we must depart now. It's almost one in the morning and though the night is oh-so-young, I would hate for our music and our ways of carrying on to keep your daughter up, on a school night no less," he said, reaching down and tenderly lifted Raine's chin up to look her in the eyes. "You both really should get some sleep," he said before letting go of Raine, leaving her with her mother. He disappeared into the crowed that swallowed him up like water.

Snow, her mother and product of hippy parents, seemed to only just then realize Raine was even there.

"Oh, could you be a dear and just head upstairs? I'll see everyone out," she said. She was trying so hard to act polite, that even if Raine hadn't known the woman for her whole life, she would have been able to see if for the lie it was. By the way she was wringing her hands together around the stem of her mask, Raine got the strong impression she was trying to get her out of the way, like she was hiding something.

"Who the forshiz was that?" she asked.

"We can discuss it in the morning," she responded with the first hint of familiar threat in her voice, her hands still just as nervous.

"Please tell me he isn't one of your boyfriends, you cradle-robber,"

"Don't talk to me that way, Raine," her mother snapped, turning and smiling kindly at one of the guests that looked over at them. She continued to smile at Raine in the most glamorous way while talking low and clear towards her daughter. "We will talk about it in the morning," she said through her smiling teeth.

"Whatever," Raine said throwing her one hand up in a brushed off gesture.

Raine, being stubborn and curious, would not just do what she was told, especially when told by her mother. But since she did not want her mother to cause a scene, she acted like she was complying with her wishes and going upstairs. She shuffled up the stairs loudly for all to hear, before turning around and slipping back down the way she came quietly, once her mother had turned away. She was not going to get the truth out of her mother now, and she certainly wouldn't get it from her in the morning. She would have to investigate this on her own.

As she looked around, Raine seemed to recognize some of the people, despite their costumes, like a distant memory, or a dream she just could not quite recall. Voices rose and fell in the crowd, the music loud but just noise in the background now that it had been turned down some. People laughed, chatted, and gossiped, names being dropped here and there, one coming up more than others, often enough to grab her attention.

Gabriel, they said.

"Gabriel," another called across the room, Raine looking.

She wondered who Gabriel was if he was on the lips of most everyone in the room.

"Gabriel?" she attempted, gambling that he was actually present at the party and would look up. As she stood on the second stair, she had the best vantage point to view over the heads of everyone in the room.

"You looking for Gabriel?" a man in a shimmering horned mask asked.

"Uh…yeah?" Raine answered, though sounding unsure.

"He's over there," he said, indicating with a wave of his hand the opposite corner of the room. Her eyes made their way over to the couch where she saw him: Gabriel. How positive she was made even her a little uneasy. She just saw him standing there, his pale blond hair and sculpted features to die for, and she knew that was his name.

He was laughing, bobbing his head in an inviting gesture so as to urge who he was talking and laughing with to continue. Despite his laughter, he looked hard in some way, like he thought very high of himself and very little of everyone else. His ego was almost big enough to see, and despite being dressed all in white and holding a small gold harp, she could detect his harshness all the way from the stairs.

"Gabriel?" she called out, to prove to that doubtful voice in the back of her head that this was Gabriel.

The man turned when he heard the name and looked around with his pale eyes to find who had called. His gaze finally came to rest on her and Raine felt a pang of fear hit her stomach when they made eye contact. It was like he could see into her mind through her eyes. His stare was like Christian's had been, the same deep penetrating stare that bordered something vulgar or obscene in some dark and unexplainable way, only while Christian's had felt welcoming and irresistible, Gabriel's made her feel cold and violated.

Raine closed her eyes and shook her head to regain herself. She felt so slow, almost stupid, that after only a moment of staring openly in to the pale eyes of the strange man that she had to steady herself. When she opened them again, however, Gabriel was standing on the bottom step looking at her with his hands folded together behind his back, almost as though he was hiding his harp from view, while leaning over so that he was stiff and bent at the waist only. His pointed nose was inches from her face and his eyes were hooded with curiosity.

She yelped in a slightly girlish fashion as she fell backwards onto the step behind her, catching herself with her hands but still landing flat on her butt.

"Who are you?" he asked with his deep smooth voice, sounding both curious and bored, not having moved at her reaction so that he was still bent there, only now over her.

"Raine," she answered before she could manage to think better of it. Just looking into his eyes she answered him readily. Unnerved already by those eyes, she settled for looking him in the nose instead. "Who are you?" she asked repeating his question back to him.

"I thought you knew who I am?" he answered with a question.

"I don't know you."

"Yet you call out my name. Why?" he asked. Raine dared a glace up at his eyes and regretted it immediately.

"I thought you could tell me what was going on here, who all these people are," she admitted, looking down at his mouth quickly. She was coming across shy, not wanting to look him in the eyes. That or scared. She was willing to bet he believed the later of the two. She focused on his lips, but the harder she tired to not look in his eyes, the more she wanted to.

Gabriel had beautiful lips.

"You do not know these people in your house?" he asked.

"No, I don't, and I don't know you either," she snapped. Weren't they all supposed to be leaving? She wanted them all out of her house.

Gabriel's expression tightened just a fraction, like he knew what she was thinking, and Raine swallowed hard.

"You have no memory of me," he said as though vaguely disappointed but not all that surprised at the same time. He leaned in further, reaching for her chin with his free hand, and lifted it up so she was looking into his eyes again. She jerked her head away so he would let go, causing her hair to fall from behind her right ear and covering her face, leaving only here scarred eye visible through her long bangs.

She glared at him with her scarred eye and he looked amused. That only pissed her off further. She was good at glaring, and yet he laughed.

"It is nice to see you again, little rainstorm."

"Sorry I can't say the same," she said looking at the stranger. He just smiled, a perfect pull of his lips, before disappearing.

Raine leaned forward and looked around quickly but he was nowhere in sight. He disappeared, quite literally, from right in front of her. She had no idea how he had vanished like he had, leaving nothing but air before her, but she was suddenly feeling this urge to go upstairs now

Scared –maybe- she turned and ran up the stairs on her hands and feet, like simply putting distance between her and the place Gabriel had disappeared would help her understand what had happened and the answer to the obvious trick would present itself. Swinging herself around the corner, Raine dashed down the hall and slammed her door closed, leaning against it as though barricading herself in.

"Shit," was all she could say to herself at that moment.

Raine climbed up on her bed to turn on her bedside lamp and stood up on the mattress, just standing there for a moment. Her knees then gave out and she fell from her standing position on her bed to a sitting one.

"Who are you, what are you, Gabriel?" she asked aloud, falling backwards, lying on her purple bedding. "What the hell is going on?" she asked herself while laying her forearm across her eyes to block out the light -though dim- for a moment while she thought.

Gabriel was not the only person who felt funny to her that night. The boy she had met at The Pit, Decimus, had looked like he stepped right out of the Ben Her film. She assumed at first that he was just dressed up for the holiday, but after talking to him for a moment, something about him gave her this inarguable feeling that he was out of place in this century.

And Chris…she could not even begin to describe how odd he made her feel, and it wasn't just that he was cute. Not only did he seem vaguely new to the world and thusly unsure what to do with himself, but his eyes had power in them, a power that made her feel exposed. She had never seen eyes like his, not even Gabriel's had been what Christian's had been. She didn't know what to make of them.

Then there was that Malachi. Who was he? Her mother had never spoken of him before, nor brought him around before now, yet they were on first name basis, apparently knowing each other very well. Malachi had even recognized her from sight, implying that they quite possibly had met before, but she doubted that was true.

What a weird night, Halloween certainly brought out the weirdoes.

Raine rolled over and thought for a good while. Slowly the noise from the party downstairs faded, if because the people were gone, or because she fell asleep, she would never know.

"You scared her tonight," Augustus said to Christian as they sat at the bar in Carnage.

"I did not mean to," he replied softly to the paper Raine had given him. They were back at the club, having abandoned The Pit after Raine had left them in the parking lot. Clear was anxious to get going, but Christian looked despondent and distracted, and Augustus was intent on talking to him about it before the sun dawned.

"It is our nature, and hers. If she is human, she fears us instinctively because we are her only natural predator. If she is a dhampir, there is a possibility she doesn't know, and therefore can sense us and is frightened but doesn't know why," Clear said, chin propped up on one hand, the other waving wistfully in the air in her boredom. She wanted to get the show on the road, the night was moving ahead without them.

"I do not believe she is dhampir," Christian argued stubbornly.

"A natural witch then?" Clear asked. The boys looked over at her. "A natural witch," she repeated.

"I 'vould know she 'vas 'vitch," Christian said with distinguished certainty. Augustus just nodded.

"Honestly, how have you two lived so long without knowing the basic differences between the varieties of witches?" Clear huffed.

"By avoiding 'zem as a whole."

"Fine. All I'm saying is she could be a natural witch. I didn't think of it right away, because they are so rare, but really, no more so than dhampir, and it would explain why she seems so ordinary to all of us. We cannot detect a natural witch, and they cannot detect us. It's like we are oblivious to each other, with equal but opposite abilities so neither has an advantage."

"Natural 'vitches, 'zey are-"

"Slayers," Augustus finished for him, in that one word making his doubtfulness obvious. "They are the only witches exceedingly effective in killing us, yet Raine made no attempt at harming us or showed any indication she had any idea what we were, and you think she is a Slayer?"

Clear shrugged.

"I 'vould believe her to be dhampir before Slayer."

"I agree with Chris. She was afraid of us, just a little; she wouldn't have been if she couldn't sense us."

"No, she was afraid of Chris. Notice? She got jittery around him."

"That's because she thinks he's cute," Augustus argued and Christian flushed.

"I don't think it was his aura, I think it was his eyes. They are more intense than ours," Clear said, no vampire having eyes quite like Christian's.

Augustus seemed to think on that for a moment. Christian didn't like this.

"I think we have a problem here."

"'Zat 've do not know 'vat 've are dealing 'vith still," Christian sighed.

"No, that you might have come across a dhampir: a creature employed by witches to kill us, or a Slayer: someone who would kill us herself, and you are infatuated with her."

"I am not."

"You were looking into her tonight, more than necessary," Augustus accused.

"You 'vant to know 'vat she is as much as me, I do not understand your objection to me looking," Christian retorted, sounding annoyed.

"You are interested in her, that much is sure," Augustus retaliated.

"Do not dare insinuate such a 'zing, Augustus," Christian warned with a growl.

"Are you telling me you are not staring at that bit of paper and wondering to yourself whether or not you can go see her tonight?"

"Are you serious? Chris?" Clear asked, looking at him, suddenly looking less bored.

"She is intriguing, you cannot deny 'zat," he mumbled.

"Where does she live?"

"I believe she lives outside free territory our school resides in," Christian sighed.

"That would mean you would have to get permission to enter from the Master Vampire in whose territory she inhabits," Augustus warned as though Christian were not already fully aware of such laws and conditions.

"I know 'zat," he grumbled, looking at the paper still.

"Whose territory is it?" Clear asked, Christian closing his eyes and sighing.

"I am not sure, I 'vould have to go to her to find out, but it could ei'zer be Gregarious, or Phantom," he said and Augustus stared at him.

"Don't be a fool now. No girl, no lay in the world, is worth dealing with Phantom."

"I know 'zat," Christian said, propping his chin up on his hand, elbow on the bar top.

"You do not want to be indebted to that man just so you can have the freedom of passing through his territory, not for some girl," he warned but Christian didn't seem to be listening, Augustus not saying anything he didn't already know. With his chin still propped up he was staring at the bit of paper again, inhuman eyes focused on the words he could not even read. Augustus just sighed. "Then again, you will do as you please, you always do."

"You are going after her tonight?" Clear asked, looking at Christian very intently.

"I have to know her," he said, "know" being a word that carried so much more meaning to vampires than it did humans. It was far more intimate, and far more sincere. It was a vulnerable thing to "know" someone, and just admitting as much to Clear and Augustus was saying something about Christian's fascination, nay, obsession with Raine.

"Check in with me, before sunrise, kid. I need to know you are alright before I can rest for the day," Augustus said as he stood, unable –and not about to try- to tell Christian what to do. He warned him, gave his opinion and concerns in the matter, and had to let him do as he willed. If Christian was going to trudge around other Master Vampires' territories, and make deals and promises that would leave him in debt, it was his choice, but Augustus could not help but worry, Christian was his baby brother after all.

"Good-luck, kitten," Clear teased as she too got up to leave with Augustus, to allow Christian to think more on his next move.

"Could you read 'zis for me before you go?" he called to them suddenly, holding out the paper.

Within twenty minutes he was walking up to Raine's house.

Augustus had helped him –reluctantly- get the address using the phone number Raine had given them and the phonebook, and Christian had traveled by bus across town to reach a long slightly curved street, lined with lampposts, filled with identical white houses with grass nearly black in the late night hours.

He knew where he was now, more than just in Raine's neighborhood, but in Phantom's territory. Oh the fates were cruel. It could have so easily been Gregarious' territory, but no, it was Phantom's. Christian crept along, alert and vigilant, before reaching the lawn of what he was sure was Raine Storm's house. His unease did not lift, however, but intensified, as the aura coming from the house was vampiric and strong.

Knowing he had not been welcomed into the territory yet, he was cautious when approaching a possible nest. He was no Master himself, but he was a Third Generation and therefore considered a large enough threat to not be overlooked or excused. He could be killed for this indiscretion. A little late now to turn back, Christian moved forward, nothing he could do would compensate for what he had already done, he just really hoped curiosity did not kill the vampire.

Christian moved around the house in the shadows in hopes of finding an alternative entrance than the front door, all the while carefully masking his aura so that no nearby vampires would detect his presence unless they were specifically looking for it. There was a strong possibility that there were vampires looking for it, as guards, but he did not truly believe this to be a nest. There were no Hellhounds as daytime guardians, and he surely would have been attacked the second he approached, not allowed to get so close before trying to mask himself. Besides that, Raine certainly did not co-inhabit with vampires, he would have sensed in her some sort of bond or tie to a vampire. This was more evidence to the theory that she was possibly a dhampir and Christian did not like that. Was one of the vampires inside actually her father? Surely not. He hoped not.

Looking up, Christian saw a window with a dim light shining through it and wagered it to be Raine's bedroom. Wanting to see inside, he climbed the side of the house with ease like a spider could a wall, perching on the narrow windowsill effortlessly.

As he peered through the glass he saw her, Raine, standing on her bed, looking rather distraught.

"Who are you, what are you, Gabriel?" she asked herself, him hearing her muffled voice through the glass as he watched her fall backwards, lying on her bed. "What the hell is going on?" she asked. Christian's curiosity was only further peeked and his fears not entirely subsided.

Gabriel? Surely she could not mean Gabriel of the Vampire Council. That vampire was a particularly nasty one. He lingered locally parts of the year, but he had no business here, now, or did he? She seemed to have no idea who he was, or 'what' he was, so that gave him hope that she was not a dhampir after all, but he could not understand what Gabriel would be doing at that house otherwise. Phantom notoriously hated the Council and all its members.

Christian watched as Raine look at the ceiling for a while before rolling over and falling asleep. He did not fight it when his eyes roamed over her body. He most certainly did not have any sort of interest in her like Augustus and Clear taunted, but he would not deny that she was a pretty girl. He felt it almost a pity that she had not bothered to undress before falling asleep, but then, he might not have looked. Not that looking would have made him feel bad, or guilty, because no, he did not like her, but still, he was a gentleman.

Knowing now it was not a nest, he at least knew whose Halloween party was downstairs. Christian wondered why Gabriel would have thrown a bash at the house of a girl that didn't seem capable of recognizing vampires. If she were a dhampir she would know vampires, and if she were a Slayer Gabriel –as crazy as he was- would not invite his kin to her dwelling. Then again, Gabriel was infamous for ruining the lives of young women before bringing them over. It was like a hobby of his and Slayers were not off limits. If Gabriel needed an excuse to be in a girl's house, then that would be it, and Christian did not like that.

With slight concern that someone was baiting the same quarry as him, Christian decided he would seek out Gabriel and just straight-up ask him what the situation was. It was a bold move, but it was the fastest means of figuring out what the hell was going on, and he did not have much time left in that night to dawdle. Maybe Gabriel even knew what Raine was; maybe he could actually get some answers out of him, though that was unlikely. Gabriel never cooperated, and he certainly would not make an exception for him, Christian. They were not exactly best buddies.

There was the slight hitch, however, that was he was not exactly welcome in Gabriel's territory which was potentially problematic in demanding an audience with him. That and Malachi hated him and would not allow him into the house without a fight. Christian sighed. He was not in the mood to fight tonight.

Christian leapt from the window and landed on the soft soggy grass with a dull thud and a splat as though it had not just been fifteen feet he had jumped. Looking back up at Raine's window, he breathed deeply the night's crisp air. He would also have to seek out Phantom before the night was through, and gain hunting privileges. What it was about Raine he could not resist, he did not know…yet. Other than for the fact that she perplexed him; she was pretty…but not overly so, she was sweet…but probably not all the time, and so he was left to wonder.

A cool breeze rushed past him at that point, carrying with it bodiless voices, and he looked around at the trees as their bare branches swayed in the gentle wind, whispering to him. He ran his hands up over his arms, rubbing his sweatshirt up against his skin. He was dead, he could not get cold, yet there he was, shivering. Something unnerved him, made him want to go up into Raine's bedroom and share her warmth his body so desperately needed, but he resisted. The night was not growing any younger.

Phantom would be first. He would see if he could discover what was going on without having to mingle with Gabriel or Malachi at all. Surely Phantom would know why they were there, surely he would know if a dhampir or a Slayer resided in his territory, no vampire allowing such a threat to linger. Vampires were territorial -or maybe paranoid- like that.

He also needed to feed. His blood was like ice and he was feeling sluggish. Fresh blood would make him 'alive' and warm, and up for the challenge of negotiating with Phantom. There was little else he hated more than having to intermingle with vampires in other territories. Maybe gym class. It was just too easy to insult, offend, or threaten a Master without intention. It was all the damn vampire obscurely-decorous customs. It was impossible to navigate smoothly.