A Song For the Dead by bat

Summary: [Sequel to Manipulating Fate] Ruby adjusts into her life as a vampire, but will her heart choose Marko or David?
Categories: Lost Boys
Characters: David, Dwayne, Marko, OC: Female, Paul
Genres: Drama, Horror, Romance, Supernatural
Pairing(s): None
Warnings: Heavy Violence, Other potentially disturbing content
Challenges: None
Series: The Carousel Series
Chapters: 20 Completed: Yes Word count: 19896 Read: 72338 Published: 29 Oct 2005 Updated: 18 May 2007

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1 by bat

The alarm buzzed uselessly from the nightstand and finally shut off. Vampires ran to the beat of their own internal clock. As soon as the sun sank below the horizon, they woke up. It was a simple, unending beat of an invisible drummer. Unquestioned through the eons of time since the creation of the first of the undead.

Ruby stretched, shoving the twisted sheets down to the end of the bed. Winter had come to Santa Cruz, bringing a lot more hours of darkness. She kept silent, stretching her arms in the air, trying to unknot the muscles in her back and shoulders.

Satisfied she’d recovered quickly enough from all the exercises she’d been running, she pushed off the mattress, her feet hitting the wooden floorboards with a muffled slap. David had been putting her through her paces for the last three weeks, running defensive drills and attack patterns. Fighting as a vampire was ten times more complicated, and far more efficient, then as a human. Vampires had grace and subtlety, with the capability of making the slightest movements while extracting maximum damage.

Being his childer, David had not cut her any slack. Ruby saw it in his eyes when he thought she didn’t; he was still haunted by the attack of the Bloods in Los Angeles. The very attack that had killed her and brought her over to the vampire side of reality. He went at her without mercy at times, but he knew Ruby had the strength and stamina to take what he dished out. She knew he was afraid they might still come after her and the Boys. David wanted her to be ready, just in case.

Ruby stretched again, hearing the soft pops as her spine stretched and realigned. It was cold in the house; they really saved a fortune by not bothering to hook up the gas for heat. Yawning softly, she tugged the dingy white undershirt back down over her stomach and padded out into the hall.

Not bothering with a light, she headed up the hall towards the bathroom. The house was pitch black in the back half; David had rigged a light in the great room with a timer, so it looked like people actually did inhabit the house. She heard the soft hum of its electric bulb as she reached the bathroom.

Groping for the switch, the snap of electricity coming on as the overhead fixture came to life still amazed her. Being a vampire for roughly six months hadn’t given her the chance to become used to all the new abilities and extensions of normal senses. She shut the door softly, noting the click in the door jam. She reached into the shower stall and twisted the taps, the spray blasting the glistening white tiles.

Yawning again, and absently scratching the small of her back, Ruby looked at herself in the mirror. The light overhead made her skin luminescent; she was paler then she’d ever been. Set off by the long red hair that ran down past her hips, the vampiric gift David had given her had made her even that much more of a beauty. The roundness of her human days, what had been in her face, was gone and replaced by the sharp lines of a practiced killing machine. Her eyes were ice cold, blue-silver orbs in that china face. The silvery lines of her last mortal wound still traced like webs down her throat and neck, spilling down and fading into the undamaged skin of her shoulder and chest. Any new wounds she sustained, during sparring practice with David or in an accident, they erased every day while she slept, knitting back flawlessly.

Even the love bites David gave her faded away into nothingness by the next night.

Without thought, she slipped the four-band puzzle ring from her finger and set it on the counter. She only removed it for fear it would go down the drain and be lost; at all other times she wore it. Grabbing the hem of the undershirt, she slipped it off over her head, dropped it on the floor on top of the crumpled pile of her panties and stepped into the shower.

Ruby hissed as the shock of the scalding hot water hit her stone cold flesh. The steam was thick; she must have turned it completely to the left again. Quickly, she twisted the shower knobs until it was a much more comfortable temperature. Vampires weren’t exactly all that affected by burns and scalds from hot water, it was just highly uncomfortable. Soon her flesh gave in and took on the warmth from the water, heating the remnants of last night’s feed in her veins.

She pressed her cheek against the cool tile, while the water beat down on her neck, shoulders and back. It always felt exquisite. She’d lived so long in the cave with the Boys she’d forgotten the simple pleasures of a shower. Living in an actual house had spoiled her.

“Mmmm…” she mumbled, turning her head side to side, feeling the water beat a rhythm on her skin. It soaked her hair, which she twisted in both hands and pulled over her shoulder. She closed her eyes, hearing the soft whisk of the shower curtain as it pulled back. Callused hands slick with soap moved along her shoulders in a gentle massage. Ruby sighed contentedly.

“You never told me you were good at massage.” She mumbled. David grinned behind her, his hands working along her shoulder blades and spine deftly.

“You never asked.” He chuckled. She grinned at him over her shoulder and smirked, as he pulled her against him from behind. His arms wrapped tightly around Ruby, David kissed behind her ear. Ruby relaxed against him, head rested against the side of his neck as he skimmed his soapy hands over her stomach and waist. David was content to wash, his touches moving southward down her hips and abs, floating his fingers over her thighs.

“David?”

“Hmm?” Ruby felt the vibrations of his reply, her cheek still pressed to his neck. She felt his fingertip ring her navel softly.

“You were remembering your time watching me in the woods, back home in Oregon this morning.” It wasn’t really a question, because she knew he had been. Ruby caught the flicker of his disappointment at being caught slide back under his mental shield.

David rested his hand against the flat of her abs, stepping her forward to rinse away the soap. “You caught me.”

“Why?” Ruby reached over his arm and picked up the shampoo. Uncapping it, she poured some into David’s awaiting palm.

David pursed his lips as he massaged the shampoo into Ruby’s hair. “Just remembering, is all. I suppose I still am in disbelief I found you again, and we’re here.” He paused then added an afterthought. “Together.”

He was right. It was still overwhelming at times for Ruby to think on. She’d come to Santa Cruz approaching five years now. She’d written a movie script, sold it, seen it filmed and transferred to the silver screen. She’d grown and changed in those years, as fast as they had flown by.

And she hadn’t always been with David. She’d been with Marko first. Ruby had loved Marko with all her heart, and he had felt the same. Still did. Marko’s face swam through her inner vision, his sweet shy smile. He had made the choice to release her, break up with her, after David had turned her. Ruby had protested, but Marko had made the decision stick.

Now she was David’s lover, as well as childer, and bonded to him in ways she could never be to Marko. Blood bonds went far beyond those of love. What she felt for David was the complete and utter opposite of what she’d felt with Marko. The love with Marko had been such a sweet and tender thing, far more pure and simple. With David it was fierce and wild, fed by their connection and his experience. Ruby had never known you could scream and howl yourself hoarse and have it feel so good.

David nipped her shoulder as he pulled away to wash himself. Ruby blinked, coming back to reality. David cocked a brow, lathering his hands up with the bar of soap. “What?”

“Nothing. Just thinking.” Ruby gathered her shields tight, but David didn’t bother to pry. He’d been relatively good about leaving her to her own thoughts most times. She turned slightly, eyeing the blonde vampire as he showered beside her. Every single bite wound she’d made on his chest not more then twenty-four hours before had healed and disappeared. Not a trace remained. Wistfully, she remembered the marks Marko had made on her; never bites, but mostly hickeys that were very innocent, a high school teenage lover type of act. Marko had never been rough with her.

David was a beast in bed. Sometimes.

“Ruby?” David cupped the side of her face, her chin resting in his palm. Her ice blue eyes rose to his. “Pack a bag, okay? For maybe three days. Simple stuff, but warm.”

“Why?”

“It wouldn’t be a surprise if I told you, now, would it?” he grinned and nipped the tip of her nose teasingly. “I think I stashed your old backpack in the other room’s closet.”

“I’ll get it out.” Ruby nipped the side of his hand with her own sharp teeth and David chuckled. “You sure you won’t tell me what you’ve gone and planned?”

“Nope.” David pushed her backwards under the showerhead, his hands washing the shampoo from her scalp and hair thoroughly. Ruby closed her eyes, letting the water run down her face as well, falling into the gentle swoon that always happened when David laid his hands on her. Shortly, he was pressing her back against the slick tiles that lined the wall of the shower, his hands gripping her waist and sliding her upwards easily. Ruby snaked an arm over his shoulder and around the back of his neck as David stepped in against her.

They fit together once more, David with his customary groan of satisfaction. Ruby gently bit his pierced ear, her legs sliding around and locking behind him tightly. To say their love life was active was pure understatement; Ruby had always known she’d only been seeing one side of David when she was living in the cave with the Boys. The added fact she’d been with Marko at that time had never made her even think once about David in a sexual aspect. Well, that was a lie, but it had never gone more beyond a brief thought.

With a soft rumble, David caught her mouth with his and began again their game of who could out kiss whom. Ruby growled softly back, tipping her head and slanting her mouth against his. The struggle continued until his movements became more erratic and less controlled, David’s head dropping and his face pressed against the front of Ruby’s shoulder.

Her own gasps coming more frequently, Ruby slid her hand up the side of his face, the stubble on his cheek grazing her palm. She shivered as deeply as he, her hand sliding into his white-blonde hair and down the back of his head. With a growl and a thrust that would have left large bruises on a human’s hips, David found his own release. Sending the sensations through their blond-bond, he pushed Ruby into her own, watching and feeling her shudder against him, her toes curl against the small of his back.

Ruby gasped weakly against the last tugs of her climax, laying her cheek to the wet line of David’s shoulder. They stayed joined for a long moment; David replaying the mental images of their coupling in his mind, Ruby content to be held in his arms against the tiled wall. Eventually, David pulled back, keeping his hands on her upper waist as he slid free. Then he replaced Ruby on her feet, smoothing his hand over her hair.

“Love you.” He murmured, kissing her forehead tenderly. Something about the way he said it sent Ruby back into his arms, her face buried against his chest. “What, Rube? What is it?”

Ruby swallowed hard, her face still pressed into David’s chest as she spoke. “I don’t know. There was just this icy chill that hit me, the feeling like just before you jump off the diving board into the pool and you’re free falling. You know the water is below you, but for that brief instant, everything hangs there.”

David frowned, his arms around his redheaded childer tight. “A vision?”

“Not really; just a warning. Another change is coming.”

The blonde vampire scowled. “I never got the powers of premonition and foresight.” Ruby sensed his frustration, sent back a stroke of calm to him.

“Don’t worry David. It’s not here yet.”

“But I like to be prepared.”

“I know.”

David sighed. “Maybe I should cancel my plans.” Ruby frowned this time.

“I don’t think so. I don’t know what you’ve planned, but I don’t think it’s a part of this…whatever is coming.” David nodded, leaning down and kissing her softly but fiercely. His way of reassurance.

“I love you, Ruby.”

“I love you too, David.”

2 by bat

As soon as Ruby was packed and David had locked up the house tightly, they headed off on David’s bike. Up the street, back onto the main drag, down the on-ramp that would take them to Highway 101. Ruby watched the speeding blurs of the cars as they passed by and realized they were heading north, not south.

Soon the traffic grew sparse as they journeyed up the old coastal highway. The ocean on their left, the massive forests on their right. Ruby gripped David tighter as he passed a log truck, gunning the bike past the massive load of freshly felled trees. Shortly after, a small storm hit them, soaking the two vampires as they rode on.

The air was cleaner, older yet far more fresh then that of Santa Cruz. The farther north they rode, the more alive Ruby felt. She could hear the deer in the thick stands of trees as they roared past, around hairpin turns and curves of the 101. Giant Redwoods grew right up against the blacktop, threatening to spread their mass into the pavement and destroy it. They had been there first; they could take back what man had taken away. Ruby reached out and let her hand graze the rough bark as they passed by one massive tree that must have been at least 150 years old.

Around midnight the stopped at first turnout they came to. David dismounted after Ruby, stretching his arms high above his head, his black trench coat billowing out behind him in the gust of wind as yet another log truck passed them. Ruby stood on the edge of the gravel turnout, looking down at the sheer cliff below that was lined with ferns, grasses and smaller scrub trees.

“Another two hours and we’ll be over the border.” David tapped a cigarette from the pack and lit it.

“Oregon?” Ruby turned sharply and looked at him.

“Yup.” David grinned at her, joining her to look over the drop.

Ruby studied him now and not the forest. “Why?” She asked, after a long pause.

David was silent before replying. “How long has it been since you’ve seen your parents? Been home?”

Ruby thought. She’d moved to Los Angeles in… 1983. She hadn’t set foot back home since. She did send letters, made the occasional phone call, gave dozens of excuses (most made up) on why she couldn’t come home for holidays. “Nearly five years.”

“I thought it was time.” David exhaled smoke that mingled with the persistent mist that mingled in among the trees. “Trust me, it’s a luxury to be able to go home, see your past.”

“How long…” Ruby ventured.

“Decades. The last I saw of them, they were six feet under. Not that I really had much to say to them at that point. I’d been gone so long, it was almost as if that part of my life never really happened.” The twinge of sadness slipped through their bond and tugged at Ruby’s heart.

“I’m sorry, David.”

The blonde shrugged. “Look, my parents were good people. It wasn’t like I was the only son; they had my brother, and I had two… no wait.” He paused and counted on his fingers. “Margaret, Catherine, and Beatrice … three sisters. Joseph carried on the family name with his family and their descendants, and my sisters probably popped out a bunch of kids. It’s not like me being gone ruined it.”

“Still…”

“I was the disgrace, just the spare son anyway. My father and I didn’t get along all that well until he was senile and had no idea who I was the last time I saw him before he died. That was actually the most pleasant conversation I’d ever had with the man!” He pulled a long drag from the cigarette, continuing with the smoke streaming from his nose and lips. “I come from a different time, Ruby. When boys were supposed to grow up and be the man their father was before them, and his father before him, and so on.”

Ruby was silent; this was one of the few times David had ever talked extensively about his past. She still had no idea how old he was, exactly. She knew it was more then one hundred years since he had been alive, but it was only a minimum number of how long he’d existed. The desire to learn more about him, who he’d been, always gnawed in her mind; to push him would have guaranteed his continuing silence.

With a wry snort, he squashed his finished cigarette with his boot. “I was almost 21 when I ran south to the Texas territory. I wanted to be a soldier, but the regular army of the country and I didn’t see eye to eye. So I went down to the land of the outlaws and roughriders. I fought in the battle Concepcion, watched San Antonio stormed, and watched the Mexicans storm the Alamo. They say every man was slaughtered.” He sneered. “Of course they were! I was unleashed upon them!”

Ruby’s eyes widened. “You were a vampire then?” David’s eyes flashed.

“Word came that there was dragoons running war treasure up on pack animals. Jim Bowie got ordered to take one hundred of us and investigate. Well, with that much silver, no man wanted to be left out. Luckily they followed, because the guard was outnumbered and the Mexicans were closing in. During the firefight, I went down with a bullet in my leg, and another in my shoulder. I got left for dead while everyone ran back to camp with what they thought was treasure. The joke was on them; the animals bore only feed.”

David crouched down, plucking bits of gravel from the turnout and tossing them over the hillside. “I thought I was as good as dead. I lay there for two days, and on the second night I heard something approaching. I figured it was a coyote come to finish me off. At least I’d stop suffering and be done with it. It was a beast, but not like any I’d ever seen. Horribly red eyes glowing in the pitch black of the grassland, hands like talons, coal black hair down his body, skin as red-brown as the earth. Whatever had been human in it was gone; it lived only for blood. He must have scented me on the wind; of course with all the blood loss it wouldn’t take much for him to pick me up.”

Ruby watched David lapse back into a time in his memory that was still as fresh as if it had just happened. She didn’t venture any words, she was too afraid of jarring him. Some cars roared past them on the wet pavement, kicking up spray and bits of gravel that pelted the back of David’s trench coat as he crouched in the mud.

“He knew I wasn’t dead when he got to me. He sniffed me over, his hands against my chest and the bullet in my shoulder. I screamed in the pain, amazed it could feel so fresh still. His fangs were as white as the moon. I think I begged. I was half out of my mind anyway, whatever I said… I can’t remember now. I felt his nails digging into my shoulder, pulling the bullet out. He did the same to my leg. I heard shouts coming up over the grass I’d fallen into. Someone was with him, calling him, trying to locate him.”

David sucked in a hard, angry breath. “Then he bit me. It was the worst pain I’d ever felt, like being set on fire on the inside. I was already weak from the bullets, but still I screamed, and screamed, and felt him drain away what was left. I thought the shouting was distant, but really it was right over me; he’d sent me right to the edge of death. I remember the shouting, him being pulled off me, and then hands hauling me up. The next things are really only flashes of images; someone was holding my head while someone else poured hot liquid into my mouth and forcing me to swallow. I fought with what I had left but the taste of it… it was all I wanted. I drank and drank until they tied me up and left me… left me screaming for more until I lapsed into sleep because the sun rose.”

Suddenly David rose, pulling in a deep lungful of air and roaring it back out so loudly it echoed through the dense trees. Flocks of birds scattered into the air, squawking angrily. A single crow landed on the back of David’s bike and cawed at Ruby. She put a finger to her lips to silence it. It hopped off the back of the bike and over to Ruby, pecking her boot, then flew off. David stood on the edge of the drop, staring out into the woods, shoulders heaving under the weight of his anger.

Ruby reached out through their bond, trying to gently ease him down through his pain. He resisted at first, fighting against her calming influence, then let his shoulders drop one final time. Keeping his back to her, he spoke in a low voice only she could hear. “The tribe was the Kickapoo, parts of which were down in Coahuila and had fought in the battles against the Texians. They kept me penned during the day in one of their wickiups. Sometimes the night as well. They unleashed me, literally, on the Alamo. That was my first true kill… and then some.”

Slowly, David turned to look back at Ruby over his shoulder. His eyes were firery, pained. “They had only the one vampire, my sire, who they revered as a god and a demon at the same time. They kept him literally on a leash, sending chosen honorees out with him while he would hunt the grasslands to feed. They couldn’t quite explain why he’d turned me; I was pretty much the same as you see me now, and maybe that was why. I was so different from everything else down there. He was half crazed, too beast, to make any sense. I didn’t really have the luxury of learning from him. His… people taught me. One of his gifts to me was the knowledge of Algonquian, their native tongue. That made it easier.” He snorted softly. “Born American, died American. Reborn of the Kickapoo, if you will.”

Ruby’s throat was dry from not speaking for so long. “What…what happened to him?”

David shrugged. “Probably dead. Maybe still alive, somewhere. I have no interest in knowing. They thought they were blessed with a second vampire at their command; as soon as I knew enough, learned enough, I killed the guard they’d sent with me one night for hunting and took off. I made my way north…” David trailed off, lapsed into silence. “We need to get moving.”

Startled, Ruby blinked as David brushed off his gloves and remounted his bike. She realized, as she climbed back up behind him, she wouldn’t hear anymore about his past for a long, long time.

3 by bat

Excitement pounded in Ruby’s veins as they rolled into Harbor, the small town that mingled with the city of Brookings just over the border that Oregon and California shared. Home! She was home again. In the four short years she’d been gone, the town had grown and changed just enough to make her gape at the new buildings and differences, yet still feel like she could wander the streets without getting lost.

It was after two in the morning when they rolled to a stop outside a small, forlorn looking building that housed a motel alongside the highway. Ruby stayed outside with the bike, while David went in and rousted the manager from bed. Paying in cold hard cash probably lessened the loss of sleep. Ruby couldn’t exactly remember who owned the hotel, but she didn’t take a chance of being recognized. David finally returned and walked his bike along the long, low-slung building towards the end room. Ruby paced behind, breathing in the air of her hometown.

“The fellow was quite generous, gave us several extra blankets!” David grinned; Ruby knew David’s powers of persuasion had been worked. They set to work quickly, tacking the blankets to the dry wooden window frame to block out the soon-to-rise sun. Another was rolled and placed along the bottom of the door, and another was nailed over the tiny window in the bathroom.

David surveyed his handiwork while Ruby sat down on the single queen bed that took up most of the room. The TV had a lock on it, demanding quarters for operation. The bed also had one of those popular a decade ago “magic fingers” massage systems. She imagined Paul going wild about it, and chuckled.

“What?” David turned, looking over at her.

“Just thinking of Paul.”

“Why on earth would you be thinking of him?” David raised a brow.

Ruby pointed at the coin box on the headboard. “He’d have a field day with this, if he were here.” Now David laughed.

“Oh yeah, he would. Don’t mention it to him, but he was quite the disco dancer back in the day, if you can believe it. Of course, he was 15 at the time and getting into the clubs illegally, but still…” Ruby laughed harder, thinking of Paul in polyester bellbottoms, dancing like Travolta in Saturday Night Fever.

David tossed the last remaining unused blanket on the bed, and started digging in the backpack Ruby had brought. “I think we’ll have to hold off tonight; it’s a little late to be hunting up dinner.”

“It’s ok.” Ruby yawned softly. The excitement of being home was starting to take its toll. She tried to ignore the pangs of hunger she felt. David didn’t. The mattress bowed slightly as he sat beside her.

“Here.” He rolled back the sleeve of his trench coat and bit into his wrist. Holding it down towards Ruby, he nodded at her. Ruby didn’t protest, just took his forearm in her hands and closed her mouth around the open wound. She never got over his taste, would never grow used to it. She wondered, while she drank, if that was because of how she’d been changed; if the first drink of blood was like your first sexual partner, that you never forgot them. Ruby had certainly had more then most vampires ever fed their childer, especially at first, and that made her wonder if she was almost like an addict.

David was silent as she fed, his mind closed to her. Ruby finally licked the wound sealed, dropped his hand and rolled over on her back. She licked her lips then rubbed the back of her arm over her mouth, making a dull crimson stain on her skin. She felt the shift of David’s presence as he leaned over and pressed his mouth against her hip, where her jeans rode low. For a few moments he only mouthed along the outline of bone. Ruby sighed contentedly, running a hand over his head as the sharp prick of his fangs sunk into the flesh beside her hipbone. David suckled very briefly before lapping the wound closed again with the flat of his tongue.

Now David yawned, scooting over and laying his cheek against the cool flat skin of Ruby’s stomach. His face was pointed towards hers, watching her eyes fall half-closed, her hair spread out against the bleached-white pillowcase.

“Thank you.” She mumbled, her hand gently touching his face. David kissed her fingers.

“You’re welcome.” He murmured back, watching her drop off to sleep.

4 by bat

Ruby woke up under the scratchy wool motel blanket David had draped over her. Thoughtfully he’d turned on the bathroom light and cracked the door, so the room wasn’t entirely pitch black. Shrugging the blanket off, she realized he was already gone. It didn’t alarm her; she was used to him taking off when he felt like it. Probably out feeding. Ruby rose, stretched, and eyed the TV. She tried to remember if she had some quarters in her backpack.

The door squealed on its hinges as David pushed it open, returning with a plastic bag of takeout food. “Good, you’re up.”

“Good evening to you, too.” Ruby rubbed her head and yawned, finger combing the tangles from her hair. David kicked the door shut with his heel, placing the bag on the tiny round table in the corner of the window.

“I thought you might want something to eat before we headed over to your parents’.” David started removing Styrofoam boxes from the sack. Ruby blinked, momentarily having forgotten where they were.

A rush of realization flooded her brain and temporarily short-circuited her. She sat back down on the edge of the bed, leaning forward and staring blankly at the worn brown carpeting. David watched while munching a wonton, washing it down with one of the Cokes he’d snagged from the motel vending machine.

“I went by. They’re home.”

“Of course they’re home. It’s what… after eight?” Ruby glanced over at the clock, but it was still flashing 12:00. “Did they see you?”

David shook his head. “No.”

“Dad should be home; He usually got off work around six. Mom… well, mom was always home.” Ruby lapsed into trying to remember home life, the routine of her parents. It couldn’t have changed too much since she’d left, right?

David got up from the vinyl-covered chair, an egg roll in hand. He leaned over Ruby a bit, until she looked up at him. Without a word, he pressed the egg roll to her mouth, continuing to press it there until she gave in and accepted it, chewing it quietly. “It’ll be all right, Ruby. I can guarantee they’ll be more then happy to see you.”

5 by bat

Ruby checked herself one last time in the bathroom mirror that was caked with soap scum. A massive amount of face powder gave her a more “life-like” appearance and some color to her cheeks. A tinted lip-gloss enhanced her lips, making them lush under the florescent lighting. She’d put her hair back in a nice French braid, effectively hiding any of the smaller braids, string, and trinkets Marko had put in her hair. One of her nicer t-shirts and the jeans she’d patched with leather pieces made her look not so vagabond vampire girl anymore.

Pressing a hand to her stomach in an effort to quell the butterflies, she grabbed her hooded sweatshirt and stepped outside. David was awaiting her, leaning on the side of the building, one foot up against the wooden façade boards. He flicked his cigarette away as he saw her come outside, and grinned.

“Damn… take this as a compliment that I want to turn you right back around into the room and fuck your brains out, Ruby.” He rubbed his gloved hands together as Ruby shrugged into the hooded sweatshirt and zipped it up.

“I always knew you had a dirty mind, David. You just hid it well.” Ruby rolled her eyes as the blond vampire licked his lips slow and suggestively.

“I’m not exactly hiding it right now…” David slid his hand over her shoulder, stepping closer. Ruby closed her eyes, fighting the swoon and the call of their bond.

“Please, I’ve got to get this over. I need to see them.” She whispered. David stopped short, instantly. The bond call broke off and he was all business once more.

Mounted up, Ruby with her arms tight around David, they rode down through the main street of the town, up towards the northern part where the forest still jutted up against the backyards of houses. Then up into those trees, along a dirt road until there were very few houses, with plenty of untamed trees and brush lining the well-kept but unpaved street.

David made a left turn onto a gravel road lined with small bushes, letting the bike go slowly as they approached the house Ruby had grown up in. It was quite a different sight; originally an A-frame built as a cabin for hunting and fishing, over the years her parents had added on something akin to a ranch-style house that blended in to the side of the original A-frame cabin.

The two vampires stopped next to the old rusty truck parked beside the wooden carport, David putting his boots down on the gravel to keep them and the bike balanced. Lights blazed away in the house, cheery and warm, and gray smoke billowed continuously from the chimney in the A-frame’s roof.

“Ready?” his voice was so low Ruby almost had trouble hearing him. She nodded and slid off the back of his bike. David followed, heading towards the front of the house.

“No.” Ruby told him softly, catching his arm. “They never answer the front door.” She tugged the sleeve of his coat, picking her way between the truck and motorcycle, heading towards the backside of the house. The rickety and unpainted picket fence was still there, the gate hanging crookedly and unlocked. Ruby stepped through, closely followed by David.

Using the lessons David had taught her, she picked up the scent of two humans, heard two heartbeats coming from inside the house. Both her parents were indeed home, and thankfully there was no company tonight. Ruby absently wondered if her mother still taught pottery classes.

Picking her way as silently as she could up the wooden stairs, she caught David again just before he could put his boot down on the loose board that had been there since she was a child. Ruby moved up a step to make room for David to follow without hitting the board and announcing their arrival. She’d always jumped on that board when she was younger, sending out a signal to her mother she was home from school. Not this time.

Breathing hard needlessly, Ruby reached the flat porch area, decorated with potted plants her mother loved to tend. David hung back, looking out over the vast backyard that meddled with the forested land behind it. Except for the small yard that was fenced, everything else was wild. A doe and her baby darted silently through the underbrush, having picked up the scent of the vampires on the still night air.

Ruby could hear her parents talking, probably in the kitchen, as she knocked sharply on the doorframe. There was a pause in the talking, then her mother’s footsteps. The old wooden backdoor creaked open, leaving the worn screen door between Ruby and her mother.

“Hello?” a soft but warm voice asked, as a woman in her mid-fifties pulled back the door and peered into the darkness. A switch was flipped and the yellow porch light came on with a pop.

“Mom?” Ruby whispered

“Ruby?” the woman stared through the glasses, her face breaking into a glowing smile. “Ruby! Charles! Ruby’s here!” she called over her shoulder, unlocking the screen door and pushing it open. Out rushed the woman, whose hair was graying and pulled back in a ponytail that straggled down her back. She was pleasantly plump, wearing a pair of old work jeans and a sweatshirt that had hand painted lilies over the front.

Ruby found herself hugging her mother as tightly as her mother hugged her. She was careful though, not to over hug. Her strength had tripled and she could do serious damage.

“Oh Ruby! Why didn’t you call? How’d you get here?! When did you get here??” her mother raced through questions, patting her daughter’s hair, looking her over. “Oh Charles, get up and come out here! Ruby’s here!” the woman called back through the open doorway. Ruby heard her father grunt, then boot falls as he came up the hall.

“What, Ruth? What are you yelling about now?” A man half a head taller then David stepped into the doorway; his hair was long and gray as well, pulled back in a tight braid. He was grizzled, and a day or two’s beard growth covered his jaw. His eyes were the same ice blue as Ruby’s, and he had a rugged look to him. But his eyes lit up when he found his daughter actually standing there on the porch, and instantly grabbed her up in a bear hug. “Ruby! My little girl!”

Ruby laughed, enjoying that her father still gave the same great bear hugs he’d always given her. It was all quite a joyous family reunion. Her parents continued to hug her, dropping kisses on her head, looking her over.

“My, my! You’ve certainly become more of a city girl, Ruby!” her mother remarked. “Look at how thin you’ve become! And your hair! Is it really that long?”

“Ruth, lay off the girl! She just got here. You can prod her later.” Charles patted his daughter’s back. “Come inside, take a load off. How long are you here?”

Ruby smiled and nearly stepped inside the house with her parents when she remembered: David. She turned but he wasn’t on the stairs behind her anymore. Blinking, her eyes darted around in the darkness, trying to locate him.

“And who’s that?” her dad asked, gruffly. He’d spotted the blond vampire first. Ruby looked down over the railing and saw David waiting silently, his hands in his trench coat pockets, looking up at the family.

“Mom, Dad. This is David.” Ruby paused, suddenly not sure how to explain David and who he was, and what he was doing here. “David’s one of my best friends. He was able to give me a ride up here.” She winced inside, knowing that was so vague but it would have to suffice.

“A friend, eh.” Charles eyed David. Ruby knew her dad was too smart to buy it. Her mother leaned over and looked over David as well.

“Well, come on up David! Any friend of Ruby’s is welcome here!” Ruth smiled cheerfully, motioning David to come along. She turned and headed in the house, pulling Ruby along. David made it to the top step, where Charles blocked him with his massive bulk.

“David, eh.”

“Yes sir.” David nodded slightly.

Charles looked him over. “What’s your last name?”

“O’Brien, sir.” Charles nodded slowly.

“Not from around here, are you.”

“No sir. I’m from Los Angeles, via Boston.”

Charles nodded again, thoughtfully, before extending his hand to the blond vampire. “Welcome then, David O’Brien, to Brookings.” David shook Ruby’s father’s hand in a strong shake, remembering how it was back in Boston days when he’d meet one of his father’s associates. “Welcome to our home. Thank you for bringing Ruby up to see us. It’s been a very long time since we’ve seen our daughter.”

David’s face spread into a smile. “It was my pleasure, sir.”

6 by bat

Ruby was in the kitchen, half listening to her mother go on and on about everything and nothing out of excitement of seeing her only child after such a long time. Ruby hoped her dad wasn’t challenging David to an arm wrestling match or giving him the third-degree. Finally she heard heavy boot steps coming down the hall and felt relief. David entered first followed closely by Charles.

“Have you kids eaten?” Ruth was looking in some of the cupboards.

“Yes mom. Don’t worry about that. I just came to see you and dad!” Ruby shook her head. Her mom had been the “cool” mom, always with a house full of kids back when she and her brother were growing up. So used to fixing after school snacks, she’d probably lapsed to thinking Ruby had brought a school friend over.

“So, David,” Charles leaned back against the counter edge, looking as though he was sizing up the other male in the room. “Do you work in the business too?”

“I did, but I’ve moved on to a real job, sir.” David smiled charmingly. Ruby blinked, having no idea what David was talking about. “I work with clients in the diamond and gem business. Quite lucrative.”

Ruby busied herself in a cupboard, looking for a glass. Right now would be a dangerous time to start laughing. If David considered seizing the jewelry off victims and pawning it as “lucrative”…

“You must see some lovely things!” Ruth smiled. “Such interesting things, gem stones!”

“Indeed, ma’am.” David gave Ruth an even more charming smile. Charles moved towards David, slinging an arm around the vampire’s shoulders.

“How about we go chat, leave the womenfolk to their girl talk?” he grinned at David and directed him through the doorway before David got a chance to answer. Ruth smiled after her husband and David.

“Such a polite young man!” Ruth smiled at Ruby, who nearly dropped her glass.

“Uh, oh yeah, he is.” She managed, hurrying to open the fridge and find something to drink.

“Are you two seeing each other?” her mother smiled, and Ruby could almost sense the talk heading down the ‘when do I get grandchildren?’ path.

“Um, yeah.” Ruby managed, gulping down some apple juice she’d found, forgoing the glass and drinking from the container.

Ruth patted her daughter’s hand. “He’s a nice young man, I’m sure. You’ve always been sensible about your choices, and I’m sure that extends into choices about the opposite sex.” Ruby realized she hadn’t needed to force a fake blush; she was blushing.

“Mom…”

“You’re being careful, right? Protection? I won’t be getting a surprise phone call telling me I’m going to be a grandmother?”

“Mom!” Ruby choked on the juice.

Ruth smiled wistfully. “It would be nice to hear the pitter patter of little feet running through the house again though…”

“I think I hear Dad calling me.” Ruby shoved the juice bottle back in the fridge and fled the kitchen. She found David sitting uncomfortably on the couch, her father in his oversized recliner across from him. Charles was gesturing with his hands. Great, Ruby thought. God only knows what her dad had been saying. “Um Dad?”

“Yes sweetie?” Charles smiled lovingly at his daughter.

“I was thinking David might like to look around the house…” David was on his feet before the words escaped Ruby’s lips. Charles shook his head and laughed.

Ruby gave her father a look.

“I’d love to see the house.” David looked around for the nearest escape. Ruby tugged the elbow of his coat and led him in the direction of the stairs. David zoomed up them, leaning down mid-way. “Oh, thanks for the pep talk, sir! I’ll think about your advice.” Downstairs, Charles chuckled.

As they reached the second floor landing, David breathed a sigh of relief.

“What’d he say?” Ruby smirked.

“Various veiled threats to my person if I wasn’t good to his daughter.” David smirked back, stepping into Ruby’s space and catching her mouth in a kiss. “How was your mom?”

“She wants to know when we’re giving her grandchildren.”

“She’s in for a long wait.” David kissed Ruby again, licking the taste of her off his lips as he leaned back. “So, where’s my house tour?”

Ruby socked him in the upper arm. “See if I help you escape next time. Dad’s got some really pointed lectures about dating. I remember my brother got the whole catalog.” Ruby stopped. It was the first time she’d mentioned Jeremy in years. Unconsciously she stepped away from David and started down the carpeted hallway. Behind her, the blond vampire followed silently.

Gently, she twisted the well-worn doorknob. With a soft pop and a creak, the door opened on a room that hadn’t changed in over a decade. Ruby stepped into her brother’s bedroom and surveyed it. Her mom hadn’t allowed them to take anything down or store any of Jeremy’s belongings; they were still as they were when he’d died. David’s boot falls were soft as he stepped into the room. He stopped at the desk, picking up a framed picture of Ruby and Jeremy as kids.

“Mom wouldn’t put anything away. They don’t come up here much anymore. A year after he died, she just stopped. I think it finally sunk in he wasn’t coming home.” Ruby’s voice was soft. She continued to stand just inside the doorway as David made his way slowly around the room. Everything he touched he put back in its place.

“They never knew really what happened?”

Ruby shook her head. “It was chalked up to a botched robbery.” Her eyes glided about the room and its contents. As her eyes hit the small bronze crucifix nailed to the wall, the room shifted and her knees gave out. Ruby dropped to all fours, coughing as though she’d been sucker punched in the stomach.

“Everything all right up there?” Charles called from the family room.

“Yeah! Just dropped a book!” David replied through the doorway as he tried to help Ruby up. She shook her head, staying on her hands and knees, keeping her eyes adverted.

“What the hell was that?” she hissed under her breath at David. The other vampire quickly scanned the room.

“What did you look at?”

“The cross, over there on the wall.”

David tipped his head, looking at the same crucifix. Nothing happened to him. He was silent for a minute then frowned. “Ut oh.”

“Ut oh? What do you mean ‘ut oh’?” Ruby tried a quick glance at the cross but the room shifted yet again and she was forced to drop her head once more.

David crossed the room in three steps, his gloved hand removing the crucifix off the wall. “I was wondering, admittedly, what yours would be.”

Ruby tried to calm her thoughts and make some sense out of the situation. It suddenly dawned on her. “My weakness is crosses?”

“Apparently.” David opened a drawer and stuck the cross in. He returned to her side, helping Ruby back to her feet. “Your family doesn’t seem that religious…”

“They’re not. Jeremy was. He’d spent a couple of summers at the youth camp the local church hosted… got himself saved around twelve.” Ruby rubbed her forehead to try and stop the pounding.

David nodded. “Well. Is that the only one he had?” Ruby thought for a moment.

“Try the dresser. He had a little silver cross on a chain he’d wear.” David fetched it, keeping it in his gloved fist as he crossed the room back to Ruby.

“Let me know if this hurts.” He opened his hand and held the small silver crucifix necklace up in the line of Ruby’s sight.

Ruby braced herself but nothing happened. She frowned, looking at David. He too frowned. “Let me try this.” He pressed the silver cross to her forehead. Nothing.

“What the hell?” Ruby scowled. David shrugged and put the necklace back on the dresser. He opened the drawer and pulled out the bronze cross and held it up. Ruby crashed to her knees once more. “Ow!”

“No rough housing in the house!” Ruth reminded in a motherly-tone.

“Put it away!” Ruby hissed loudly at David, her fangs descending rapidly. It was horribly painful and made her want to tear everything apart in the room just to make it stop. David shoved it back in the drawer.

“What’s the difference in the crosses?” David asked her.

“What?”

“There’s obviously a difference in them. One cross causes you pain, the other does nothing. What’s the difference?”

Ruby wracked her brain trying to think. “The bronze one… mom and dad got him that as a present for his confirmation. I remember that day. They were happy about his choice. Mom’s a lapsed Catholic anyway. We went to the little Catholic church and saw the Mass and stuff…”

“The cross, Ruby.” David directed her thoughts back to problem at hand. “Was it blessed?”

“Yeah, by the Pope. Mom got it from Rome…what about it?”

David pursed his lips and nodded shortly. “There we go.”

“So because it’s blessed? That’s what makes it hurt?”

“Yeah.” David helped her to her feet once again. “Touched by the divine as it were. The real McCoy. Obviously the necklace wasn’t blessed.”

Ruby’s head was swimming. Every vampire had a weakness: Marko’s had been running water. David’s was garlic. She was ‘allergic’ to real religious artifacts. Some trip home this had been.

“But what does that mean?”

“Means you’re repelled by religious artifacts that are the real deal. It shouldn’t be too much of a problem. You could probably step foot in a church, but any of the crucifixes, if they’d been properly blessed and touched by the divine, well you’d be up shit creek without a paddle.”

“Touched by the divine… you mean by God?” Ruby blinked at David.

“Yes.”

“But that means…?”

“Yeah, he’s up there.” David gently guided her out of Jeremy’s room. “I’ll put it back up on the wall, so your parents won’t notice.” He turned and went back, leaving Ruby in the hall. She wanted to tell David her parents would never notice, but her mouth was dry and words wouldn’t form on her tongue. David returned and softly closed the door.

7 by bat

Ruby stood in the hallway, mind reeling. Her head hurt; too much new information to process all at once. She felt David’s hand on her arm, leading her down the hall. They reached the door in the middle of the hall, right at the top of the stairs. David walked right on in.

“This is my room.” Ruby’s throat was dry.

David looked at her. “Yeah. I know.” He moved to the bay window that jutted out over the backyard, giving a clear view of the woods. Ruby looked at him, feeling almost a jumble of emotion on his side of the bond.

“I remember seeing your face in the trees… I don’t know why I didn’t remember that all these years. At the time I thought it was just my eyes playing tricks…” Sitting down hard on the bed Ruby stared past David though the window at the pines and firs that blew in a gentle breeze brought in from the Pacific.

“I got sloppy towards the end.” She saw David’s hands ball into fists. His customary gloves had been removed and it was almost startling to see his pale hands bare. Normally they were always covered unless they were in bed. “I got weak and stupid and wanted you so bad I risked it. You’re lucky this window doesn’t open; all I could think about was…” his voice trailed off. Looking over his shoulder at Ruby, his face was solemn and serious. “It wasn’t that long after you saw me that night I left. I forced myself, to save you from my own greed and stupidity driven by blood lust.”

Ruby’s eyes met David’s. “That’s why you were so cold when we met in Los Angeles.”

“You thought I was cold?”

“I wouldn’t have described you as warm and friendly, especially after you brought up Jeremy on the hillside.” Ruby smoothed her fingers over the old quit that covered the twin bed she’d grown up sleeping in. “You were restrained and at the time I didn’t understand. Now I do.”

Rising to her feet she joined David, who was staring at her, at the window. Their gazes still locked she stepped so close to him, mouth practically on his. The air hung heavy and electric between them. After a long moment, David took a half step back and swallowed hard.

“You practically bring me to my knees when you do that, Ruby,” his face turned quickly back to the window. Ruby felt him open up more through the blood bond and knew she’d just stoked the proper fires. She didn’t care either; it had been her intent. “Not here, though. I’m not up to explaining why we tore your old room apart in a mad rush of sex.” Ruby smiled at his words, saw his reflection grinning at her in the window glass.

“Would you have turned me, if you’d let yourself? Back then?”

“I can’t say for sure. It’d been a long while since I’d had decent blood, so I might have killed you, without realizing, in need. Austin had never come after you by that point. It was time for me to go.”

Ruby left David’s side, knew he was watching her, and went to the old dresser. Digging in various drawers, she finally found what she was looking for. Padding back to David she took up his wrist in her hands.

“What Rube?” David dipped his head to see Ruby fasten a small chain around his wrist. Sliding it around to make sure it was properly tight, David realized it the long, flat piece of metal in the center of the chain had been engraved with Ruby’s name.

“Jeremy gave it to me. When I turned 12.” Satisfied, she squeezed David’s hand. He nodded, free arm pulling her close in a tight hug. They kissed sweetly, tenderly; David’s bare hand dug into Ruby’s hair holding the back of her head, Ruby’s arms around his waist tightly. For a long moment after Ruby leaned into him, her face half hidden against his chest. David’s cheek rested against the crow of her head, holding her tightly in his arms. It seemed to have all come full circle now.

“I hate to do this baby, but we need to go.” His voice was gentle in her ear.

“I know.”

“Just want to make sure you have time to say your goodbyes properly.” Ruby nodded against his chest, sighing softly. “I love you.” He kissed her forehead lovingly, leading her out of the bedroom of her childhood, hand holding hers tightly. They descended the stairs quietly, finding Ruby’s parents sitting in the small family room.

“Have a nice tour, David?” Ruth smiled, looking up from the sweater she was knitting.

“You have a lovely home, ma’am. Fantastic scenery up here.” David smiled sincerely.

“We’re glad little Ruby brought you home for a visit.” Charles piped up, folding his newspaper away.

“I’m glad she did, too.” David risked it and kissed Ruby’s cheek. Ruby blushed again, feeling the blood left in her veins heat from the effort. She teasingly elbowed David’s ribs. Both her parents beamed; their daughter had obviously made a loving match.

“We have to get going, mom.” Ruby smiled sadly at David before looking at her parents. Ruth’s face showed disappointment, but she nodded. “We have to get up early and head back to L.A.” Ruby had never told her parents she’d left L.A. with the Boys, had moved to Santa Cruz years ago. All the mail her parents sent, the care packages and occasional checks, were always addressed to the post office box in L.A. she kept rented. They were forwarded to a second box in Santa Cruz, her parents never the wiser.

“Can’t keep you from the bright lights of Hollywood I suppose!” Charles rose from his easy chair; hand out to shake David’s once more. Both vampires nodded and smiled as Ruby’s parents ushered them to the front door. Ruth grabbed Ruby in a tight motherly hug.

“Be careful on the roads, sweetheart.” She cautioned, hugging the living stuffing out of her only living child.

“We will, mom.” Ruby felt the tears in her voice, though none were in her eyes. Suddenly she didn’t want to leave, didn’t want to go back to California, wanted to stay here and settle down with David and be happy. The nagging in the back of her mind warned her, urged her to stay here and be safe, to escape the trouble that was coming for her and the Lost Boys.

Ruth kissed her daughter’s cheek before grabbing David in the same motherly hug. David looked a bit surprised but hugged Ruby’s mom back. “Take care of my daughter, David!” she ordered him, wiping the tears away from under her glasses.

Charles pulled Ruby back a bit, looking down at her. “He’s a good man, David?” his voice was low, fatherly. Protective of his daughter.

“Yes, dad. He is.” Ruby looked at David, and Charles could see the love in her blue eyes for the blond in the black trench coat.

“That’s all I needed to know.” He grabbed his little girl in a customary bear hug and squeezed her tight. “Be happy, little girl.”

“Thanks dad. Love you.” Ruby hastily brushed the tears from her eyes, hugging her father back tight.

“Now don’t stay away so long!” Ruth chided as the vampires stepped out into the cool night air. Crickets were chirping in the distance, moths crowded around the porch light fluttering madly. Ruby and David descended the stairs and returned to David’s bike. Ruby waved as David pulled her on behind himself, turning the engine over.

Charles and Ruth waved back as David and Ruby rode down the drive and disappeared into the tree-lined road back into town.

8 by bat

There was a little more then an hour of darkness left. The ink black of the dead of night had already lightened but the chill that remained in the air matched the chill in Ruby’s heart. She lay on her side on the bed, staring absently at the blanket that covered the window, the thin sheets and comforter pulled up over her body. Her hair was still damp from the shower she’d taken after they’d returned to the motel, her skin cleansed of the makeup she’d worn to play the make believe game of looking alive.

David’s feet padded lightly on the threadbare carpet as he walked around the bed, having just returned. Ruby could hear the blood coursing freshly in his veins; he’d dropped her off and gone for a kill, picking off a drifter to sustain him another night. The rain had cleansed him of the traces of his kill, his hair so very white in the darkness.

He stood with his back to her, stripping off the black t-shirt he practically lived in, worn thin in places and the traces of years of kills beaten so deeply into the fabric they’d literally bonded to the threads. Ruby flicked her gaze to watch him; he always asked her why she liked watching him undress, but she never had an answer in words. David tossed the shirt onto the chair by the door. Ruby heard the soft clink of metal as he undid the belt, sliding it free and dropping that over the arm of the same chair. The soft zipping sound, followed by the light rustle as he pushed down his jeans. The shock of all his skin bare, glowing as brightly as his hair, never failed to stir the feelings deep down inside her.

Ruby’s eyes found the back of his legs while he folded the jeans. There, faintly, was the mark of a wound. The back of his right calf did betray he had once been human. She’d honestly never noticed; now she wondered if there was also a mark on his shoulder. Ruby made a mental note to check, her eyes drifting up his bare body, along the backs of his thighs, his bare backside, along the spine. David was a perfect machine, made for killing. He was not overly buff but toned, his muscles molding his flesh over themselves perfectly. David turned then, tossing his jeans into the chair. Ruby looked away, returning her gaze to the covered window. She’d seen him naked from the front many times.

David wasn’t like Marko who had six-pack abs, but the muscles of his stomach and abs were taught and hard, with a faint line of dirty blond hair that trailed under his navel, over his abs, and continued on down. Ruby kept her eyes adverted. With a not so gentle tug, David caught the edge of the covers and pulled them away, exposing her to the cold open air of the room. She was as naked as he, half curled on her side, knees together and drawn up. David rumbled an approval deep in his chest, his hand catching her foot.

The blond vampire tugged teasingly on the redhead’s ankle, pulling one leg down. With one knee on the bed, he looked up and grinned at her, his palm sliding up over her calf to her knee, pushing it away from the other. The mattress springs groaned as David settled between her legs, his weight against her. He nipped her chin, drawing her attention to him, catching her mouth with his. David could be awesome with foreplay, when he chose, but with so little night remaining his mind was on one thing. The fresh blood he had feasted on had kept the desire Ruby had stoked in him earlier burning hot.

Ruby’s eyes fluttered briefly as David slid within her, his hand under her thigh as he pulled her leg up. She complied a little, her leg low around him, the back of her calf resting on the back of his thigh. He rocked against her, other hand in her damp hair, growling his pleasure. Ruby shuddered inside failing to fight against the rush she always felt when they were intimate.

David’s mouth slid against her neck, down the side and came to rest at the juncture between her neck and shoulder. Ruby’s nails bit into his skin, her hands splayed against his back and shoulder blade, now moving with him. Her gaze moved to the front of his left shoulder and she saw the dim traces of a bullet wound. It was a brighter white then his skin; faded somehow with age but still there. She slid her thumb over it, David reacting by digging his hips harder against hers. Ruby wondered if he knew what she was looking at, or if he was over the edge into carnal lust once more.

She gasped softly as his fangs trailed the vein in her neck, causing her to lay her forehead against the strong line of his shoulder. He wouldn’t bite; she hadn’t fed and what blood remained in her would have to suffice through the day. David just liked to leave marks sometimes. It was when his head bowed and he thrust hard into her, his mouth closed on her flesh in a bite above her left breast that something inside Ruby snapped.

At first she cried out softly, then again as his teeth remained tight as a vice on her skin. She beat the side of her fist into his shoulder, then again. David didn’t respond, still moving in and against her. Ruby socked his upper arm harder, crying out louder. His teeth released their grip. Ruby cried out harder, louder, beating his shoulders and arms harder with her fists, hard enough now to get his attention.

“Ruby!” he growled, her fist just missing his nose as it socked into the front of his shoulder hard. “Ruby!”

Ruby howled against him, the sound of anger and pain welling up from her heart into her throat. She continued to hit David, hard enough to sting his skin and cause pain the more she continued. He’d stopped now, trying to grab her wrists and pin them down, still calling her name in a vain attempt to get her attention.

“Goddamn it!” he snarled, his eyes flashing red and his fangs descended in anger as he caught both her thin wrists with one hand and pinned them above her head. Ruby thrashed still beneath him, alternately crying and howling, tears streaking her pale cheeks. “Ruby!” David roared once more.

Ruby stopped short, coming to her senses and realizing what she’d done. She subsided into wracking sobs now, her head laid back and her neck arched, howling through her pain.

“Childer!” David was worried now. His hand released her wrists and he was instantly up on his hands and knees over her, looking her over for physical trauma.

“I want to go home!” Ruby choked out the words, her eyes squeezed shut. “Back to Santa Cruz! I don’t belong here!”

“Ruby…” David gathered her close against him, letting her face burrow in against his chest. Her tears were cold against his heated skin. “We’ll go back home. Tomorrow night, I promise. We can’t go now. There’s not enough time to make it.” His hand raked through her hair, in a weak attempt to calm her.

“I shouldn’t have come back.” Ruby’s voice was harsh, choked from the anguished howling.

“Shhh. It’s ok.” David pulled her up with ease, sitting with his back against the wooden headboard. He pulled her into his lap, gathering the sheets and blanket up around her.

“I don’t want to ever come back.” She whispered, her arms wedged between her body and his, the side of her face pressed hard against his chest.

“You never have to.”

For a long time they were silent. Ruby’s tears eased and stopped, and she finally dropped into sleep as the first rays of the sun poked over the horizon line. David watched for a few more moments, fighting the tug on his mind. He cradled his childer as he slid down to lay stretched out on the mattress, keeping his arms tightly around Ruby as he lost the battle once more and fell to sleep.

9 by bat

Pulling her boots on, Ruby rose and zipped the backpack closed before shouldering it. David was to her right, prying loose the final tack that held the blanket over the window. He pulled it free and folded the blanket back up, tossing it on top of the others.

“Ready to go?” Ruby asked softly. She wanted out of here, out of Oregon, out of her past. Everything she’d felt the night before, about staying and settling down had evaporated instantly. Whatever was coming to Santa Cruz, whatever trouble, she had to face it. There was no time for wistful daydreams. David nodded stiffly.

“I’ll go settle the bill and return these.” He answered quietly, heading out the door with an arm full of blankets. Ruby followed, pulling the door shut tightly after her self. Leaning against David’s bike, she waited for him to return.

After a minute he did, walking quietly towards her and the bike. Ruby knew he was fighting within himself; she’d tried to touch their bond link and gotten gently pushed away. She didn’t blame him; her meltdown the night before had upset not only her, but David as well.

“Ruby?” the blond vampire stopped in front of her, his face turned towards the small dust cloud his boots had kicked up.

“Yes David?”

“It… it wasn’t something I did, was it? It wasn’t something during the visit with your parents, something I said…” he looked up at her, his voice dropping low. “It wasn’t something… during the sex…” he trailed off. Ruby felt his fear, the deepness of his worry that he was the cause of her pain.

She took his hand in her own, squeezing tightly. “No David. It wasn’t anything you did.”

David nodded shortly. “I did do something though. I brought you here.”

“But with the best of intentions, sire.” Ruby sighed. His hand squeezed hers tightly, but said nothing more. Swinging a leg over his bike, he pulled her up behind him and revved the engine to life. In a few minutes they were headed out of town.

--

David slowed the bike just on the outskirts of town, waiting to make a turn until the car on the other side of the road had passed. Ruby, jarred by the sudden slowing of the bike, turned to look where David was headed.

The small town cemetery was to their left. David steadily turned the bike, giving it a bit of gas to make it up the small hill that lead deep among the headstones and graves. Even in the darkness, some of the stones were light enough to read, their pale granite and marble worn from the weather and age. Ruby kept her head down, staring at the back of David’s trench coat, her eyes already burning hotly. David continued on, seeming to know the exact route. Finally he killed the engine and came to a stop. His hands gripped the handlebars tightly.

“You need to do this, Ruby. Just as much as I do.” He spoke quietly, facing ahead still. Ruby slid slowly from the back of the bike, pausing to wait for David to follow. He continued to sit on his bike.

“David?”

“Go. Go ahead without me. I’ll be there in a minute.” David still did not look at her, but Ruby felt his anguish just the same. It mingled with hers. Ruby nodded and turned away, heading through the headstones and markers.

--

She came to Jeremy’s headstone by rote. There was no need to look at names; this was a path she had taken dozens of times in her old life. Ruby stopped below it, the dark marble slab flush with the green grass and earth. His named carved at the top, his birthday on the left. The date of his death on the right, with an embossed pair of hands joined in prayer, a set of rosary beads looped around them.

Ruby sank to her knees, her hands going directly to trace over the chiseled words. It wasn’t as worn as some of the other markers, but it had aged since the last time she’d seen it. Hot tears welled in her eyes, fell and splattered the stone.

“Jeremy…” she choked, her throat tight. She leaned forward, pressing her face hard to the marble, unable to find any words to say. For a long time she just laid there, her silent pain translated into tears that dotted the stone. Finally her body stopped shaking, her heart feeling lightened and much of her grief washed out through tears. Ruby sat up some, still on her knees and began to brush away some of the dirt and leaves that had fallen onto the stone.

“I kept my vow.” Ruby turned, startled. She hadn’t heard or felt David come up to the graveside. “I protected your sister, like I promised you, Jeremy. She’s safe, she’s protected.” Ruby leaned back as David crouched over Jeremy’s grave marker. There was a silver flash in the moonlight, a blade in David’s right hand. Again his gloves were gone, the skin of his hands so pale white. David drew the blade over his left palm, without a flinch, squeezing his fist in a tight ball so some of his blood dripped over the marble marker. “Release me, Jeremy. Our pact is complete.”

Ruby could only stare at David. What pact?! She pressed the question against their mental link.

“Your brother’s ghost has haunted me since the night Austin murdered him. This trip was as much for you as it was for me to be released from the vow I made him, for his revenge and to protect you.” The wind kicked up bitterly just then, roaring through the trees. David’s eyes fell closed and he seemed to lose a great weight on his shoulders before Ruby’s eyes.

Squeezing his fist once more, David rose and licked his wound healed. Ruby sat on the grass, silent as her stomach rolled. In a nearby fir tree some crows cawed loudly, awakened from their nightly slumber by Ruby’s presence.

“I hid it from you, because I wanted you to understand I fell in love with you independently of what your brother asked of me.” Ruby looked up at David. “He certainly wasn’t happy the same kind of creature that had murdered him fell for his baby sister. But hey, fate is funny that way.”

“You could see him? His ghost?” Ruby knew the question sounded so stupid.

“More…felt him. A heavy, unhappy presence. It’s similar to our mental link. Ghosts work on different principles though.”

“The wind was Jeremy.”

“His presence gaining the peace he sought. He’s free now. As am I.” David knelt down in the grass before the redheaded vampire. He held her face tenderly in his bare hands, his eyes meeting hers. Ruby could see peace in David’s features, his body relaxed. He looked happy, like he did after they made love.

“I love you, Ruby. I will never leave you. I will always protect you. Always love you. This is my new vow, sworn before my childer. My lover. My only heart.”

Ruby’s arms slid around David’s neck tightly, kissing him with such intensity. He held her close, kissing back with the same passion. Ruby could feel eyes watching them, the spirits that wandered restless in the graveyard, those that had not moved forward to what lay beyond the mortal plane, seemed to be applauding. Ruby and David’s union, like that between two mortals, was sealed. Their blood bond, their romantic bond, and now their hearts were joined eternally.

“I love you, David.” Ruby slid the puzzle ring from her right ring finger and with a bit of work, she freed the platinum band. David’s eyes lit up as Ruby handed it to him, her left hand held out. Wordlessly, David slid the ring onto Ruby’s left ring finger. He kissed her warmly and Ruby felt his happiness through their bond, singing brightly as the sunrise neither of them would ever see again with their own eyes.

David rose first, helping Ruby to her feet. “I never expected that, Ruby. I’m stunned.”

Ruby kissed his cheek, looking one last time at her brother’s grave. Taking David’s hand in hers, they returned down to David’s bike. “I didn’t either, sire. But it was right.”

“Yes.” David nodded. “But even I’ve got to admit marriage vows in a cemetery between two vampires is pretty cliché.” He grinned at Ruby, sliding onto his bike. Ruby laughed, scrambling on behind him.

Her arms tight around her husband’s waist, Ruby rode back home to Santa Cruz with David, never to set foot in Oregon ever again. Traveling through the night, they reached their coastal territory before the golden rays of the sun rose over the great Pacific.

10 by bat

The water on the tiles mixed with the tears that rolled down her cheeks. Ruby had stood in the shower for more then an hour, the water having already gone cold, but she’d made no effort to get out. She just let herself cry, realizing it was the only way to finish the grieving process she’d stymied all those years ago. Her brother was finally at peace, she was safe and…married.

A soft knock at the door and the sound of David clearing his throat broke the silence. “Ruby?”

She didn’t answer. But he’d know she was listening.

“You need to come out here, it’s important.” Ruby blinked as the sound of his footsteps retreating down the hallway grew softer. There was something very wrong. His voice had been calm, but their blood bond spoke high volumes of just the opposite. Ruby rushed, nearly twisting the taps out of the shower wall in effort to turn the water off. Hurriedly she toweled off, struggling back into a shirt and jeans.

She nearly jogged down the short hall to the living room, when the sudden realization of three more vampire presences in the house smacked her nearly on her ass.

“Hey, it’s Ruby!” Paul grinned, despite the anxiousness rolling off him. He had his hand jammed in a bag of potato chips, standing in the small kitchenette.

“Hey!” Ruby called back. Suddenly a blur of moment danced before her eyes and she was swallowed in Marko’s arms. He was hugging her so tightly, squeezing hard.

“We thought…you and David weren’t here…” he was mumbling, his hands all over her sides and shoulders as if to make sure she was actually in one piece and not an illusion.

“What Marko?” Ruby blinked, grabbing his hands and trying to calm him. A tug at the blood bond and her attention snapped to David, who was sitting in the recliner, tense as a cat about to pounce.

He scowled angrily. “Someone entered the cave while the Boys were out. They found traces, scents and some things missing, but nothing to really give any clue who it was.”

“The lingering scents points towards vampires.” Dwayne interjected. David glared at the dark haired vampire.

“You mean…” Ruby turned it over in her mind. Her mind flashed the vision she’d had and her veins turned ice cold.

“I think it was the Bloods, yes.” David nodded. “It happened while we were gone. The Boys came here, looking for us, and…”

“You weren’t here!” Marko cried, glaring at David then Ruby, in a mixture of anger and fear.

Dwayne tipped his head. “We were afraid something had happened to you and David. But there were no signs of a struggle and everything was locked tight. Where’d you go?”

“Business.” David growled, voice low.

“Ah.” Dwayne nodded in satisfaction. Ruby knew Dwayne read more emotional and unseen signals then the others, and almost always was better at interpretation of them. He probably gauged where Ruby and David had gone.

Marko turned to David. “Did you know the Bloods were coming?” David’s eyes widened, nostrils flaring in sudden anger.

“WHAT?!” he roared, up from his chair. “You think I’d abandon my brothers if I knew we were going to be attacked?” Dwayne grabbed David’s arm quickly and held him strongly, his head dipped to David’s ear and whispering.

Marko looked at Ruby. The scars of their relationship’s end were evident in his eyes.

“Marko, you really don’t believe that.” Ruby said quietly. Marko’s head dropped, his gaze directed to the floor. Dwayne released his grip on David. The blond leader was still angry but not going to act so rashly now.

“Really Marko. Listen to Ruby for once.” He muttered, turning and walking into the kitchenette and snatching the bag of chips from Paul. Paul sputtered protest, his mouth half full of chips. “We’re going to the cave. I need to inspect the wards, see if I can pull anything. Ruby, you ride with Marko and take Paul. Go the long route. Dwayne and I will go the regular way.”

“Why?” Paul asked.

“In case we’re being watched.” Dwayne was already turning off the lights and opening the front door.

Ruby walked to the bedroom without a word. She heard David and Dwayne’s bikes roar to life and disappear down the street. Silently she changed clothes into something more suitable for the evening.

“I’m sorry.” Marko stood in the doorway, watching. She’d felt him follow her but hadn’t acknowledged him.

“You’re still angry.”

Marko looked at the door jam. “Yeah.”

Ruby ran her fingers through her hair, pulling it up in a ponytail with an elastic band. “Marko, I’m not the girl you loved anymore. I’ve changed. And not just because of what David did, or…”

“What’s that?” Marko frowned, grabbing Ruby’s left hand. He eyed the platinum band, grabbed her right hand and found it had been separated from the puzzle ring the Boys had given her years before. “You didn’t… you didn’t!” he roared, pushing her hands away in rage.

“What’s going on?” Paul’s form filled the doorway. Marko was shaking, his anger spilling out in the only way he could, would allow himself to express it, his eyes red and fangs descended. “Whoa! Marko?” Paul grabbed Marko’s shoulder. “Ruby? What happened!”

“David and I are husband and wife.” Ruby’s voice was so soft it barely carried to Paul and Marko’s ears. Marko visibly flinched at her admission. Paul’s eyebrows rose so high they looked almost comical.

“Wow… some ‘business’ trip.” Paul replied after a long moment.

“It wasn’t part of it, actually. It just… happened.” Ruby picked up her coat from the back of the chair. “I’m sorry, Marko. I’m sorry you have been hurt so deeply, by my doing. I never meant to do that. I’m sorry you suffer so greatly.” Her words achingly sincere, she hoped she could reach Marko through his anger. The silence was again awkward, but Ruby caught Marko’s head make a tiny nod, a fraction of acknowledgement. He wasn’t ready to be at peace with the news, but he had heard her.

“Well…we better go.” Paul ventured hesitantly, stepping out of the room. Ruby continued to look at Marko, who was still shaking but seemed to be coming down. Ruby dropped her head and followed Paul outside. Finally Marko came out.

“Ruby can ride with me.” Paul offered.

“No.” Marko shook his head, his blond curls spread wildly over his shoulders. Ruby locked the front door, reset the ward as David had taught her, and joined Marko on his bike just as he gunned it up the street. Paul gave a cry, startled by Marko’s sudden departure, but caught up alongside in a few seconds.

All the way to the cave, they rode in silent acceptance that everything would be dealt with. At hand was a more pressing problem. David was waiting on the bluff as Marko, Paul, and Ruby arrived.

“The Bloods have tracked us down.” His mouth was a grim line.

11 by bat

David wandered through the tunnels. It was his form of pacing. Paul was crashed out on the couch asleep, the Playboy on the floor near his outstretched hand. David rolled his eyes. Dwayne was meditating in the cavern with the pools. When he’d decided to take up meditating, David didn’t know.

He hiked the passages that wound through the rock, his mind constantly at work. He hated waiting, he hated not being able to do something to prepare. But no one, especially him, knew when it would happen. When they would attack.

A week had passed since he and Ruby had returned from their trip to Oregon. After a final night living apart, David had locked up the house and moved Ruby and himself back into the cave with the Boys. What should have been a happy homecoming, the Lost Boys reunited, was marred by Marko’s sullen attitude. He had not accepted that he no longer had a chance with Ruby, no matter how much Dwayne tried to talk with him. It was unneeded tension added to the already heightened awareness that filled the cave.

No more attempts had been made by the Bloods, even though David checked the markers nearly three dozen times a night. They fed in shifts, going in pairs or three at a time. David rarely let Ruby out of his sight; he knew the Bloods were after her just as much as they were looking for him. Dwayne, Paul, and Marko would just be extras for the vicious Bloods.

Taking a right turn, he’d circled back and ended up a small side chamber Ruby had taken as personal space. The tinny speakers and cassette player they’d rigged for her was playing a tape quietly. David stopped outside the rugged rock doorway; she’d been very quiet since they’d returned. Never argued about David’s nearly overbearing need to have his eyes on her at all times. He knew it bothered her, but she understood why. David knew she was still upset about Marko’s reaction, and hadn’t been able to repair any of the tatters of their friendship.

David wanted to leave her in peace, knowing she was fine where she was and didn’t need his burdens. But he needed to talk. And right now there was only one person who could understand him.

He slipped in without a sound, approached slowly, hating to disturb Ruby. She was lying on a bare mattress Paul had dragged up from a ruined hotel room deeper back in the cave. Eyes closed, she looked as calm as she possibly could be.

“You need to talk.” Ruby spoke before David got a chance. He nodded. “I’ll meet you on the bluff.” Her eyes had not opened; she made no move yet. David turned without reply and left, heading to the bluff.

12 by bat

Ruby climbed the wooden steps slowly, the wind biting at her legs. It whipped the ends of her coat around her ankles. Thankfully she’d buttoned it before she’d headed out. Winter had very much arrived in Santa Cruz, the winds riding heavy down the mountains.

David was waiting on his bike, hunkered down against the wind. Ruby climbed on behind him, arms around his waist and they headed down the dirt road towards the forest. Both were silent. David took comfort in his wife’s arms around him. For a moment things were right again.

After a time they reached the deserted shoreline. David parked his bike behind some tall shrubs while Ruby had walked ahead to the large rocks that dotted the inlet’s creek. Settling on a rock, she waited for David to join her, passing the time by looking up at the stars.

“I don’t know what to do.” David confessed. “I hate being unable to do anything, to have to sit and wait for their move.”

“I know.” Ruby sighed. “The Boys are restless too.”

“It’s more then just restlessness for me. After what they did to you, there will be no holds barred. They’re out for the kill.” David looked away from her, out to the waves. “My allegiance to the Boys is tearing at my vow to you. I don’t know how to be in two places at once.”

“I’m sorry David.” Ruby took his hand in hers. David felt how cold her hands were, even through his leather gloves. Instinctively he gathered her close, like he had that night five years ago. Only now she fitted against him easily, belonging in his arms.

“I just can’t lose you or the Boys. I can’t lose another gang...” He said finally.

“The Boys are good fighters.”

“Yeah I know. Much more so then my other gang.”

“Then don’t worry.”

“But I will, till the Bloods attack and I know what we’re up against. That you’re out of harm’s way and the threat is over for all of us.”

“You’ve taught me, David. I’m not useless this time. I’m a vampire now.”

“Yes but… you weren’t useless the first time we got attacked. You held your own okay… This time there really won’t be any mercy at all!” Ruby could feel David’s fear through their bond. Much more was invested this time, more at stake for him.

“Shut up and stare at the stars with me, David.” Ruby smiled softly, cutting him off. He stared at her, mouth open to protest more. She was right though. He smiled back, his arms around her. Silently, both sat and watched the stars trace slow movements through the inky sky.

13 by bat

They must have fallen asleep some time after. The next thing David knew, he felt the sun nearing the horizon. The first streaks of pink and orange made his eyes ache. Ruby was out cold in his arms, her head nestled against his chest. David groaned, realizing they weren’t going to make it back to the cave in time.

“Shit, this is not happening.” He whispered. He figured he had five minutes to think of something to do, to save both their lives.

He left his bike; it was relatively out of sight and no one really ventured down here anyway. Cradling Ruby, he took flight. The woods were their best chance – a bough of trees or something would be dark enough. Eyes darting this way and that, he settled on a grove of trees twisted by the wind.

Unfortunately, he’d miscalculated. The sun hit the horizon, its rays sending a shock wave through the two vampires. They tumbled, startled. Ruby woke with a jolt, realizing she was in the woods and the sun’s rays were creeping up on her. David was face down in a bed of fallen needles. Ruby swallowed, figuring he’d crash-landed. Picking herself up off the muddy ground she sprinted towards the shelter, hauling David with her.

Pushing him into the thick grove, Ruby howled as a sunbeam hit her hand and cheek. Flesh smoked, turning black quickly. Last ounces of strength and the fear that filled her managed to get her safely into the grove. But she was marked already. David was out cold and she was injured. And they were trapped until nightfall, roughly nine hours away.

Biting back tears, the pain searing through her cheek and hand, Ruby curled against David and pulled his trench coat around her self. It was the first time in years she had feared for her life. Marko was back in the cave, sleeping; Paul and Dwayne were as well. And David probably had a concussion.

David was old enough that the first rays sent him directly to sleep. Ruby wasn’t that lucky. He vampiric nature was still too new to be used to years of daylight slumber. She found herself whispering the old prayers Jeremy taught her over and over, hoping God was listening. As the sun fully engulfed the grove, casting them into murky shadows, Ruby found sleep and leapt into its open arms.

14 by bat

Marko woke first. He was still lying as he had when he’d drifted off, half curled on his side, bitter at everything around him. Pulling on his jacket against the cold, he headed down the tunnel to the main cavern.

“Ruby?” he called. No answer. Paul stirred a bit on the couch he’d fallen asleep on. Dwayne was probably in his room. “Ruby?”

Marko started to worry. This wasn’t like her. He headed up to Dwayne’s room, and found his friend asleep in his bed. Up the tunnel, he checked in David’s room. It was empty. Marko frowned. “David? Ruby??”

Paul heard Marko’s calls. Rousing himself from slumber, he stretched slowly and stood. Marko was running down one tunnel and up another. “Dude, calm down.”

“They’re not here!” Marko cried, looking at Paul. His frown had deepened considerably. “I can’t feel David near, and Ruby’s gone too.”

“They probably went to the inlet. David was pacing around her like a maniac.” Paul shrugged. He was trying to be rational, but he too felt David’s absence.

“That was last night.” Dwayne appeared from his bedroom.

“They surely had to have come back before the morning. Do you think they went back to the house?” Paul didn’t believe himself either now. He looked nervously at Dwayne, who had turned to say something just as Marko hissed and went to his knees.

“No.” the wave of pain hit him again, making him nauseous. Paul helped him to his feet, arm around his shoulders to steady him. “It feels like burns… waves of pain…”

“If David’s hurt…” Dwayne began, just as the wave hit him and Paul. A slow, steady feeling of uncertainty crept along his spine. Paul sat down hard on the fountain’s edge, pulling Marko with him.

“We’ve got to get out there and find them.” Dwayne gripped the chair, his talons appearing and leaving gashes in the velvet. Paul and Marko nodded, steeling themselves and managing to get to their feet.

The three Lost Boys headed out into the night, after their fallen family.

--

“David’s bike.” Dwayne pointed, catching a glint of moonlight off the chrome. The bike was hidden back against the boulders near the inlet. All three fell from the sky, landing steadily on the rocks. Each had slipped into fang, on the look out, senses on high alert. Marko crouched, scenting Ruby.

“They’re near.” He spoke, heading up the rocks. Paul and Dwayne shared a glance and followed. Marko was standing at the edge of the stream. Staring.

“Shit, he’s gone cold.” Paul grumbled. He came up behind Marko, who was staring down at the rushing stream.

“I can’t cross…” he whimpered. He looked up at Paul, his eyes filled with pain.

“Stay with him Paul. I’ll go ahead.” Dwayne splashed through the stream, leaving his friends behind. Ruby’s scent hit him, the smell of her being and smell of burnt skin. Scowling, Dwayne headed towards the woods.

“I’ve failed her. Again.” Marko cried, on his knees beside the stream. Paul sat down on the sand beside his friend.

“She’ll understand. Each of us has our curse. Yours is running water, bro.” He gently squeezed Marko’s shoulder, hoping he was doing some consoling.

“But you don’t have a fear.” Marko sighed, his gaze glued to the woods beyond the stream.

“I might. Just haven’t found out what yet.” Paul grinned a little, squeezed his bud’s shoulder again. “Dwayne will find them.”

15 by bat

Dwayne gripped a tree, turning his head to the side as the nausea hit him again. David and Ruby had to be in that grove. The waves of pain were fresh, tainting the air. Pushing himself forward, he threw the branches back and looked in.

Curled together were Ruby and David. They were burned – rays of sun had leaked through the trees and even at half power they had done damage to the vampires. Dwayne let out a cry, kneeling to check them.

David didn’t move, his arm locked around Ruby. As Dwayne brushed back the red hair from Ruby’s face he found the nickel-sized burn on her cheek. He choked on a sob, just as her eyes fluttered open.

“Ruby!” he called. Her eyes were white: sun blind.

“Dwayne….” She croaked. “Is David ok?”

“I don’t know… he won’t move…”

“I think he’s got a concussion. He hit a tree.” Ruby tried to push herself up

“You’re burned. Both of you.” Dwayne eyed the charred clothes. They couldn’t look any better underneath the ashes.

“Where are Marko and Paul?” Ruby asked, her head turning this way and that, trying to find Dwayne’s face. But all she saw was darkness.

“Marko’s trapped by the creek. Paul’s with him.”

“Oh Marko…” Ruby whispered. “You’ve got to get David back to the cave and healed. He’ll go berserk if he’s down and the Bloods attack us.”

“I’m not leaving you.” Dwayne took her face in his hands, looking at the damage; the burn on her cheek, a matching one on her hand. All that on top of the blindness was more pain then he could take. Even though he was in fang, tears ran down his cheeks.

“Dwayne. You have to get Paul.” Ruby let her self go into fang, using her senses to guide her. The fact she was blind had not dawned on her. Gently, with her good hand she brushed the tears from his face. “Do it. Go.”

“I’ll be right back.” Dwayne kissed her cheek and fled back to the stream. Ruby heard him go, slowly turning and trying to gauge David’s health. He was ok, just trapped in protective sleep. Through their bond, he answered her call weakly, disoriented and confused. He was burned badly down his back, but could heal far faster then she would. Ruby sat, David’s hand in her hers, awaiting rescue.

16 by bat

“They’re in the grove!” Dwayne shouted, coming out of the forest. Paul and Marko were on their feet in a snap. “Both are burned… David’s unconscious and Ruby’s…” he looked down at Marko.

“She’s what?!” Marko screeched, talons and fangs bared.

“She’s blind.”

“Hell no…no way!” Paul howled.

“Sun blindness. It’s only temporary… I hope.” Dwayne didn’t bother to try to console Marko. Marko was screaming unintelligibly, trapped by his fear of running water, kept back from Ruby by his curse.

“It better be temporary.” Paul growled, splashing through the stream. He headed towards the woods, just as Dwayne caught his arm. His friend leaned down and whispered in his ear.

“She’s burned. Her cheek and hand. You’ve got to help me drag David out, and then I’m bringing Ruby back. Don’t let Marko see her.”

“Why not?” Paul whispered back. He glanced over his shoulder. Marko was still screeching and snarling, pacing like a caged tiger at the stream’s edge.

“Because he’ll blame David, again. I think it was an accident. They must have fallen asleep; David’s not normally this careless. I think with all the stress he’s over-extended. Marko’s just enough off his rocker to try and take David out for good this time.” Dwayne whispered back. Paul stared at him. He’d never thought about that.

“Oh god, this royally sucks…” Paul sighed. Dwayne looked back at Marko again, then turned and led Paul to the grove.

--

“Ruby!” Paul felt the tears hit him, as he laid eyes on her. She smiled sadly at the air, unable to see him.

“Yeah, don’t look that great do I, Paul.” Paul dropped to his knees, hugging her tightly.

“You’re gonna be fine. I know it.”

“Yeah yeah, get David out of here already.” Paul looked at Dwayne then dragged David up into the air as he took flight back to the cave. Dwayne watched his them leave, unable to look at Ruby.

“Dwayne, this isn’t David’s fault. We both fell asleep. He’s the one who got us to the grove, but the sun was faster then…”

“I know. I’m just afraid Marko won’t…”

“He’ll listen to me. You have to get me to him.” Ruby grabbed Dwayne’s arm, pulling him around to look down at her. “I need a drink. That’ll get me healed enough to stand under my own power.”

“Ruby…” Dwayne blinked back the tears. “Your beautiful eyes.”

Ruby blinked, staring past him. “A drink, please.” Dwayne nodded, shoving his sleeve up and baring his wrist. Ruby sunk her fangs in, drawing off just enough to burn through her body for strength. Dwayne’s blood tasted far different then David’s; power and age were there but something far greater then she could place. Licking the wound closed Ruby held her hands out to Dwayne.

Dwayne gently lifted her to her feet, steadying her as she trembled from the shock that was awakening in her body. “Ruby, you need to get back to the cave.”

Not without Marko.” Ruby turned, her fangs bared at Dwayne. She’d never done that to any of them before. Dwayne knew he couldn’t hold it against her; if he’d been in her position he would have done the same.

“Then let me fly you to him, at least.” Ruby paused before nodding her consent. She was fading fast. Carefully, Dwayne lifted her and took her to the stream.

17 by bat

Marko was crouched, at the water’s edge. Deathly silent. Dwayne landed in the stream – Marko was in such a rage that he didn’t notice them.

“Marko.” Ruby spoke, forcing Dwayne to put her down. He held onto her, as she crouched down to Marko’s level. Marko snarled and snapped. “Marko.”

“Ruby… he’s gone over.” Dwayne whispered, but she ignored him. Cupping his chin with her hand, she turned his face to look at hers. His eyes were blood red, animalistic.

“Marko.” Her voice held command, authority. Marko’s head turned to the side, as if he could almost hear her. “Marko, I’m here. Look at me.”

The beast snarled and snapped, nearly biting Ruby’s hand. She moved faster then him, even for being blind, and pulled her hand away. Dwayne watched solemnly, eyes dark. Ruby tried again.

“Sweetheart, please. I don’t have anything left to fight your beast. You have to push it down.” Ruby spoke honestly, unable to stare in his eyes. “Please, Marko. Please.” Dwayne knew she was on the verge of breaking, but her voice never lost its authority.

“Ruby?” the beast murmured, as Marko fought back. Slowly, the eyes turned baby blue, the features back to human. “Ruby!” Marko sprang at her, grabbing her tightly. Ruby lost control, sobs causing her to shake as hard as the shock had.

“Marko we have to get her back home.” Dwayne hated to break this moment, but time was important. Marko examined Ruby, saw her eyes and the burns. He looked up at Dwayne.

“Where’s David?”

“Paul’s taken him home.”

“David tried to protect me, Marko.” Ruby managed between sobs. “He got us in the trees…”

“Shhh… it’s all right.” Marko nuzzled her, getting to his feet swiftly, Ruby slung in his arms. “I’ll take her home, you get the bike.” Marko looked at Dwayne a moment, before flying off. Dwayne nodded, watching them depart back to the cave.

--

Dwayne descended into the cave slowly. He really was afraid for Ruby; he’d never known anyone with sun blindness to regain his or her sight. He dumped his torch into the oil drum, and nearly walked into Paul.

“She’s in Marko’s room, in bed. David’s still asleep in his.” He was chewing his nails down to the quick. “I gave him blood. Ruby tried to give hers, but I guess David told her no or invoked some sire command. Marko gave some of his as well. The burns on his back are healing. I think he’ll wake up in a couple of hours.”

“Ruby’s still blind?”

“Yeah, man.” Paul shuddered.

Dwayne sighed. He knew Paul could feel the pain as well, part of their gift/curse being bonded to Ruby through David. Of course, Paul always got jumpy when things looked bad.

“Is she asleep?” he finally asked.

“No. Marko’s talking with her.” Paul ripped another nail off with his teeth. “He’s trying to figure out what happened.”

Dwayne nodded, pulling his friend’s hand down and away before Paul ruined all his nails. “I better go find out myself.” He left Paul at the fountain and headed up in the tunnel towards Marko’s room.

18 by bat

Ruby was tucked in tightly under the covers, hovered over by Marko. He was bandaging her hands with torn sheets and his own blood.

“Marko… who’s at the door?” Ruby’s head swiveled towards the curtain, her sightless eyes staring off into a black void. Dwayne pushed the curtain back slowly.

“It’s Dwayne, sweetheart.” Marko replied quietly, still working the salve mixture of his blood into the burns.

“It’s me, Ruby.” Dwayne looked away from her for a moment, to rub the tears forming in his eyes away with a sleeve. “I came to hear what happened.”

“It’s like I already told you: David saved us. The sun came up…”

“Shh,” Dwayne cut her off. “I mean why you two were out there in the first place.”

Ruby frowned. “He’s a wreck. Ever since the Bloods tried to kill me in L.A., he’s feared they’d come back and attack all of you. Now they’ve broken into the Cave. David can’t think straight. The fear is driving him mad.”

There was a long silence as Marko and Dwayne let Ruby’s words sink in. Ruby twisted and tipped her head, trying to see if they were still in the room.

“Oh hell.” She muttered. With a shiver, she slipped into fang. The black orbs tinged red and she could ‘see’, mainly blurs and shadows but it was a step up from blindness.

“Don’t expend that energy just to see us.” Dwayne chided.

“We didn’t go anywhere, Ruby. We were just thinking.” Marko added, finishing tying the bandage around her hand.

Ruby shook her head. “I can’t sit in the dark, literally. Not with what’s coming.”

“What do you mean?” Dwayne raised an eyebrow.

Looking down, Ruby shook her head. “Before David and I left, I… felt something, didn’t really have a vision. But it was bad. I think what’s happened, with the Bloods… and maybe this, me going sun blind… I think this is just a taste of what’s to come.”

“Don’t say that, Ruby.” Marko scowled, grabbing her arm gently.

“Did you hear that?” Dwayne looked towards the doorway.

Just then, Paul burst though the curtain, pointing behind him and in full fang. Dwayne and Marko immediately sprang to their feet.

“They’re here.” Ruby whispered.

19 by bat

The mental anguish made David begin to swim up through the haze of unconsciousness. He heard faint screams, roaring, yells... the sounds of chaos. At first he couldn’t figure out where he was but slowly his mind, churning away, came to.

Ruby was screaming for him. Though their blood bond.

“I’m here, Ruby.” Grappling around, vision still fuzzy, David found himself in a bed in the cave. He was bandaged and bruised, but beginning to heal already. Everything that had happened in the last twenty-four hours rushed over him like a tub of cold water. “RUBY!”

David leapt from the bed just as Paul and a rather large member of the Bloods gang crashed through the doorway. It was an all-out fight, vampire on vampire. Paul was soaked head to toe in blood spatter; the other vampire was taking a beating but clearly wasn’t going down as fast as Paul was hoping.

Roaring, David jumped up on the back of the Blood, talons out and instantly slashing across the front of the other vampire’s throat. Choking on his own blood, surprise in his eyes, the vampire went down as David leapt away.

“We need stakes.” David broke the chair, wrenching off a leg and ramming it into the center of the dying vampire’s chest. “It’s the only way to make sure they won’t reanimate on us.” Pulling off the other three legs, he handed one to Paul. “Where are the others?”

“Dwayne’s in the main room, last I knew.” Paul rubbed the blood from his face with the back of his forearm. It didn’t do much good, seeing as he was soaked. A swath of crimson made him look as if he’d put on war paint. “Marko was protecting Ruby.”

“Go, help Dwayne. NOW!” David rushed past Paul, high-tailing it in the direction of his childer.

When he got to Marko’s room, the air was punctuated by a piercing scream. David rushed in, makeshift stake held in front of him. But the scene was not what he expected.

Ruby was still in bed, in full fang and talons out, trying to sense what was going on despite being blinded. Marko was on the floor, on top of another Blood vampire, ripping out the other male’s throat. Problem was the Blood vampire had his talons sunk into Marko’s left side and wasn’t going down without a fight.

“Move!” David rushed towards them as Marko jumped as best he could out of the way. David plunged the stake directly into the vampire’s chest, watching as the other seized up and screamed, finding final death swiftly descending.

“Marko!” Ruby managed to latch onto his movement and landed beside the wounded Lost Boy.

“I’m okay Ruby.” He smiled weakly at her, stroking her cheek as she looked over the damages.

David roared, kicking the dead Blood gang member savagely in the ribs. A sickening crack sounded through the small room. “This wasn’t supposed to happen! Is this what you saw, Ruby?” His tone was more accusing then he had meant it to be.

“Yes.” Ruby’s reply was small and quiet as she bit her wrist, rubbing her own blood on Marko’s wounds to speed the healing. David dropped the chair leg he held, shoulders sagging.

“I set us up. I brought us right into their trap. If we all die tonight it’s utterly my fault.”

“Dude, no.” Marko frowned. “You didn’t know. And even if Ruby had a vision about it, it’s not her fault. Sometimes you can’t control the future. She was right not to say anything.”

“I could have prevented this!”

“No you couldn’t have, David.” Ruby shook her head, rising slowly. She held her hands out in front of her, trying to stumble her way towards David. Taking her hand David helped her stand across from him. “They wanted revenge, at any cost. If not here somewhere else.”

Cupping her cheek gently David nodded resignedly. “I’m sorry sweetheart.”

“We’re not dead yet.” Marko got to his feet, breaking the legs off the two chairs in his room. He handed two to David, taking two himself and handed the rest to Ruby.

“You’re right.” David clasped his pack brother’s shoulder. “Thank you, Marko.”

Together, the three of them dashed out of Marko’s room, up the main tunnel and towards the main part of the cave. Ruby brought up the end, able to pick her way through the tunnel by memory.

“Stay behind us in the tunnel.” David ordered her with a command through their blood bond. He felt her struggle against it but she stayed put as he and Marko charged into the fray.

There were maybe six Bloods left. Dwayne and Paul had held their own quite well and with the edition of Marko and David the tide seemed to be turning in the favor of the Lost Boys.

20 by bat

David shoved the makeshift stake through the skull of the Blood vampire he was fighting with, adding a second to his chest. The body dropped on the dirt floor just as Paul’s screams rang out. Pain seized in David’s chest faster then he could whip around to see a Blood shove a stake into Paul’s chest.

“No!” David screamed, jumping up on the fountain’s edge and diving at the Blood who stood over Paul’s fallen form. Enraged, he clawed and slashed the Blood vampire until there was a pulpy mass that used to be a vampire lying on the ground at his boots.

Paul was gasping, clawing at the stake in his chest. David heard Marko and Dwayne still fighting, spurred on by the pain of their blood brother. He knelt swiftly at Paul’s side, lifting the other Boy up a bit.

The pointed end of the stake had gone all the way through. It had probably only clipped Paul’s heart, as David judged in the semi-darkness.

“I can pull it out.” David offered weakly, knowing there wasn’t a hell of a lot he could do for his pack mate. Paul shook his head, groaning and chewing his lip bloody through the pain.

“No. It’s over, dude. As much as I don’t want to admit I just know.” His eyes were wild as they met David’s, a feral animal knowing its final moments were descending. “Win for us, yeah?”

“Goodbye, Paul.” David’s eyes stung with tears as he cradled his fallen pack mate. Paul grinned wickedly, throwing the metal horns just before his mouth opened up in a scream that never came. Death descended upon Paul and took him away on blackened wings.

Reverently David dragged Paul’s corpse to the fountain and laid him inside, hidden from the fighting all around. They would properly bury him later.

Seething with fury at the loss of a pack mate, David laid his coat over Paul’s body. Jumping on the edge of the fountain he shot into the air, descending upon the Blood vampire that had backed Dwayne into a corner. Ripping the stake from the Blood’s grip, he slammed it through the back of the other vampire, shoving it through the heart and out the chest.

David opened his mouth to roar triumphantly when Ruby screamed. Dashing towards where he had left her, he found one of the Bloods had discovered her. His talons held Ruby by the hair, other arm wrapped around her tightly. “We found you, you bitch. You’re an abomination. I can smell it on you.” Ruby struggled as her captor held her tightly.

“Release her!” David stopped short of launching himself at the Blood that held Ruby. “It’s me you want!”

“We’ll deal with you later.” The Blood sneered, his free hand groping over Ruby’s body suggestively. Ruby’s revulsion spiked through her bond to David, spurring him angrily.

“Don’t you touch her!” David slid into frenzy at the sight of the other vampire trying to violate his childer, running directly at them both at top speed. He was nearly there when something plowed into him, knocking him to the ground. Ruby screamed again.

Pinned by the other Blood, David found himself about to be impaled with a stake. There was no time to react. It was over. He had failed the Lost Boys and Ruby...

“No!” Marko roared, barreling into the Blood vampire who pinned David. With all his strength he managed to knock the vampire off the Lost Boys leader. Both vampires looked at each other as they tumbled to the floor, realization dawning in their eyes.

They’d managed to stake each other at the same time.

“Marko, no!” David screamed, Ruby’s screams mingling with his as Marko fell over on top of the Blood vampire and died. Torn, David looked from the fallen figure of his pack mate to his childer. Ruby was in shock from seeing Marko die to save David, the tall form of the Blood vampire towering over her.

“This ends now!” David charged towards the Blood, body-slamming the other vampire into the jagged stone wall. The force of the blow knocked his grip on Ruby’s hair free and she fell to the ground. David attacked savagely, the other vampire fighting back just as ruthlessly.

An unearthly howl punctuated the air. David looked up just in time as Ruby appeared out of the tunnel’s edge, stake gripped in her clawed hands, slamming it right into the face of the Blood vampire. David grabbed another that had fallen by the wayside and shoved it with extra force right into the Blood’s heart, effectively pinning the dead corpse to the wall by his face and chest.

“For Marko.” Ruby spit on the corpse, pink-tinged tears falling down her cheeks. David stared at the body then grabbed Ruby to him, hugging her tightly against his frame. She wept uncontrollably into David’s chest as he held her.

The cave was silent. No sounds except Ruby’s grief now. David reached out through his blood bond to the others. Marko and Paul were gone… where was Dwayne?

Nothing. No return call.

“Dwayne.” David pulled Ruby with him, dashing around the main cave, looking for the dark Lost Boy. He kept pushing at the blood bond, trying to find Dwayne. Everywhere he looked there were fallen bodies of Blood vampires, about a dozen. Marko’s body still lay where he had fallen, on top of the Blood he had staked.

“Dwayne!” Ruby cried out, desperate for an answer. Again she and David called his name but there came no reply.

“Is he...?” Afraid of the answer Ruby didn’t finish her question.

“I don’t know.” David eyes stung again with hot tears. Dwayne was missing. Clutching Ruby to him, David sunk to his knees under the weight everything. Gripping each other, they sobbed through the grief and realization that they were all that was left of the Lost Boys.
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