The sun set once again, as it had a habit of doing. This time a full, healthy pack of vampires greeted the phenomenon with tiny smiles of anticipation and a rush for the exit to the cave. Something new was in the air, something exciting that spoke of change and opportunities spilling forth at their feet.
Or perhaps it was just that this was the first sunset they had greeted as a whole, healthy, strong, and completely vampiric Pack. Yes, that could be it. But whatever the true reason was, they spilled into the night, Paul’s whoops of excitement, Star’s almost hysterical laughter at the pure energy roaring through them, and Anna’s dark chuckling all pouring into the air to encircle them.
The Boardwalk teemed with people. The raggedy, glitzy, dressed-from-one-end-of-the-spectrum-to-the-other teenagers crowded along the wooden walkways, tumbled into the streets, surged around the stage where the air pulsed with the blinding rhythm of a bass guitar. The only place no mortal dared occupy was a small clearing between buildings, near the only video store in town.
Shadows clung to that area when it was empty, filling it until it brimmed over with darkness. Though the others, especially the Surf Nazis, claimed that they didn’t take the area because it was too far from the main action of the Boardwalk, the truth was that it frightened them. It wasn’t just the thick covering of shadows that kept them away, though that did play a large part in the grand scheme.
Even the shadows themselves bled away, fleeing down grimy alleys when the Pack arrived to take their place. No one would contest their claim to the spot, not now, not anymore. Their power was palpable, and growing stronger each night. Not even the once mighty Surf Nazis, what few stragglers remained, would challenge them.
Anna leaned forward slowly, resting her arms on the handlebars of her bike and allowing them to hold her weight. Her head throbbed, but the pain was actually a relief after the headache she had had earlier and she could ignore it as she scanned the Boardwalk for dinner. Dwayne rubbed the back of her neck absently and she leaned into his touch the slightest bit, not bothering to remove her eyes from the mortals hurrying to and fro.
Star watched Anna watch her future meals, still learning the ropes of this hunting to survive. Though her conscience would twinge now and again, she was growing too comfortable with this new body, was already too comfortable in the suddenly new relationship with Michael to care about her conscience. Slowly her eyes turned back to the mortals and she began her own search for a meal, though the odds were she would leave this spot before finding one. This was where they began the night and this was normally where they ended the night, but much traveling could be done between times.
David’s cerulean eyes slid over his Pack, devouring their restless energy eagerly. It had taken over a week to recover from the last battle with Max, and he had worried for awhile that they would be weak even after the healing was done. It was a pleasant surprise to find that they were stronger than ever, overflowing with energy and power. It was nice to have complete control over their own lives, or unlives, without Max breathing down their necks. Not even the city’s authorities would dare touch them after they had bested the werewolves and such who had allied themselves with Max. Life couldn’t be sweeter, he decided, unless, of course, Anna chose to give her power to him. One glance at where she sat next to Dwayne ruined those thoughts, but David was surprised to realize he didn’t care anymore. He’d find power some other way, no matter what.
One by one the Pack separated, Paul off by himself, Anna and Dwayne hunting a couple of older teenagers, Star staying near Michael and Laddie, though she hunted on her own, Marko off by himself, and finally David. He remained still, perched lightly on his bike, watching as his vampires left, and couldn’t stop the cruel smile that twisted his lips. A moment later he was gone, lost in the night as some unsuspecting mortal fell prey to his gleaming fangs. The Lost Boys had come into their own, finally, though destiny would have called for otherwise.
“Seen your brother lately?” Alan asked Sam the moment he walked into the comic book store. Sam looked startled, then shook his head, making his way past the messy stands of comic books until he could lean against the wall next to Alan.
“I don’t think they’ve been into town yet,” he finally said, glancing over at the guy whom he considered his best friend, waiting for an explanation for the sudden questioning to come forth. None did, but before Sam could question him, Michael called his name.
As if they had planned it, which they might have, the Pack filed into the store, each fresh from hunting. Dark spots were splattered across their clothing, and most had smears of a thick substance on their lips, some even down their throats. Anna and Star were pressed firmly against Dwayne and Michael respectively, for the rush of need that followed sating their blood lust was thick upon them all.
“We were just talking about you,” Sam stammered, surprised by their sudden appearance after so many days of remaining hidden. Paul laughed long and loud, sending shudders down Sam’s spine. The Frogs were unaffected, or at least they appeared to be, their faces as solemn and stoic as always.
“How’s mom doing?” Michael asked, throwing light onto their sudden appearance. They spread out throughout the store, finding comfortable spots to stand and wait while Michael finished his business. Paul and Marco immediately set out to search through the unorganized comics, calling back and forth to each other when they found something interesting.
“She’s good,” Sam smiled hesitantly at his brother. Neither Sam nor the Frogs were completely comfortable around the vampires, despite their shaky truce, which was still in effect, but as Sam talked with his brother he found he could ignore the fact that Michael drank blood, that he was a creature of the night. As long as he didn’t have to see the fangs, he could handle this. “Max left her the video store.”
“He what?” Michael’s voice lifted with his surprise and he walked closer to his brother, quite unnerved by this turn of events. Max had actually planned for his own demise? Considering how invincible he had always acted, that small fact was indeed a surprise.
“Yeah, in some new will that popped up,” Sam explained. “The lawyers called the other day, saying that a new will had been found that replaced the old one, and in the new one Mom got the video store and his house. She doesn’t know what she’s going to do with the house, but she’s all excited about the video store.”
“I hope she doesn’t plan on living in Max’s house,” Anna spoke up suddenly, joining the conversation with ease. Michael nodded his agreement even as Sam shook his head, denying even the thought.
“Nah, not after all that happened with Max,” he laughed nervously. “I don’t think she ever plans to live anywhere but Grandpa’s now. And I think dating is out of the question.”
“Seems kind of convenient to me, that a new will just popped up,” Anna mused, glancing back at David. He offered her an enigmatic smile but said nothing. Silence stretched between the three mortals and the pack of vampires until Marco turned for the door, reminding them that they still had other things to do.
“Tell Mom I said hi,” Michael told Sam. He leaned forward as if to hug his brother, then stopped, unsure of their relationship now. Sam ducked his head, then wrapped his arms around Michael quickly, squeezing for a moment before letting go and returning to his spot on the wall.
“Take care of yourself, Mike,” he called after the vampire. “Come see Mom sometime, too.” Michael sighed, but nodded, running one hand through his curly hair nervously.
The Pack spilled into the night, hesitating for a second in front of the comic book store before heading off in a variety of directions, all to ease the ache that still swept through their bodies, though some of the vampires still had to find a partner for the night. A moment later a girl stepped out of the shadows, crossed the street, and gazed into the comic book store. Her thoughts whirled until her mind settled on one. How did this place tie in with the person she hunted? She hurried into the store, intent on getting answers at long last.
Sam shook his head after his brother left, trying to clear away the thoughts that clouded his mind. Alan punched his shoulder lightly but before he could say anything, Edgar’s low grunt drew both their attentions to the front door.
A girl had just walked in, her movements confidant and full of purpose. Though her hair was bright blue, matching her eyes, silver studs decorated much of her head, and her clothes were definitely biker-chick leather, she looked older the closer she got. From a distance she could have been taken as young, about their age, but when she was next to them, they could all tell that she was older, early twenties at least. Her gaze swept over Sam and Alan, then settled on Edgar, and it was to him that she offered a brilliant smile, though it seemed almost plastic around the edges.
“Hi.” Her voice was definitely older, low and throaty, the kind of voice that would become popular in phone sex lines, making every word sensuous, even if the conversation was the most typical and normal one.
“Uh,” Edgar grunted his hello, but she didn’t seem put off by his lack of words. Instead the smile brightened even more and the plastic seemed to melt away, replaced with a true smile.
“Nice store. You work here?” she asked, moving closer to him, her gaze remaining firmly locked on his face. He nodded and she stopped in front of him, resting her arms loosely at her sides. “It’s nice.”
“Can we help you?” Sam broke in then, disgusted by the sappy light slowly growing in Edgar’s eyes. He didn’t like this newcomer, even though she had done nothing to offer any harm to them. Slowly her eyes moved to him and her gaze overwhelmed him for a moment; he was lost in the familiarity of her eyes.
“Perhaps,” she whispered, running her hand through her blue hair. Silver studs glinted up her ears and she fingered the topmost one on her left ear carefully as she examined Sam’s face. “Perhaps you can.”
“Well then, how can we help you?” Sam pushed for a straight answer. Edgar frowned a little, feeling bereft now that her attention was focused elsewhere. He folded his arms over his chest, dark gaze settling on Sam and relaying his disapproval of the interrogation.
“Who were they?” the girl asked suddenly. Sam looked startled and glanced warily at Alan, unsure how to answer her question. There was no doubt in his mind who she spoke of, but just how much she already knew he wasn’t clear on.
“Who?” he stammered, trying to buy time for his frazzled brain to produce an appropriate answer. Alan moved a step closer, one hand falling to his side, where a stake was hidden, strapped to his leg and accessible through a small cut in his pants.
“Those. . .people,” she said quietly, allowing a hint of fear to enter her voice. “The ones who were just here.”
“Just one of the local gangs,” Edgar cut in smoothly when it became clear that Sam wouldn’t be talking anytime soon. She turned back towards him and Edgar could almost see his chest swell when she offered him that bright smile again.
Though for a moment it looked like she would press the question farther, the next words out of her mouth were on a completely different topic, much to Edgar and Alan’s relief, though Sam remained wary.
“I’m Shauna,” she said quietly.
“You’re new in town?” Alan added the lilt at the end of the sentence that would make it a question, though he was sure of the answer already. Only someone new would come in asking questions about the Lost Boys. Others, while unaware of the Lost Boys’ status as vampires, knew better than to try to take on any of the gangs that frequented the Boardwalk. This young woman obviously did not.
“You could say that,” Shauna’s lips twisted into an almost bitter smile for a moment, an expression so fleeting that Sam would later assume he had imagined it, though the harshness of the expression belied her gentle words. “I just arrived last night.”
Alan and Sam exchanged a quick look, noting her use of ‘last night’ and the fact that it was night now. Until they saw her in sunlight, she was a possible vampire, and a danger to them, no matter how cute she was.
“Why’d you ask about them?” Sam asked.
Shauna shrugged, no hesitation marring the reaction. “Don’t know,” she laughed a little, more at herself than in amusement at his question. “They looked interesting.” Another look passed between Alan and Sam. If she wasn’t a vampire already, her interest in the Lost Boys could lead to trouble for them all.
“They aren’t interesting,” Edgar told her firmly. “In fact, you’d probably be better off staying away from them.” Shauna nodded, looking thoughtful, though she offered that bright smile to him once more.
“You’re probably right,” she conceded at last. Edgar nodded, leaning against the comic stand and waiting for her to continue, but she lapsed into silence again. Alan stepped around her slowly, keeping distance between them as he moved to his brother’s side.
“Why Santa Carla?” Sam asked calmly. Shauna turned to look at him and he was once again struck by how familiar she was. He couldn’t place just what made her so familiar, nor could he figure out where he might have seen her before.
“I don’t know,” she admitted. “It was the farthest from home I could reach on the bus with the money I had.” The explanation slipped out before she realized what she was saying and Shauna dropped her head, looking flustered.
“What were you running from?” Sam continued the conversation, pointedly ignoring Edgar’s frantic shake of his head. He wanted to know more about this girl before he trusted her with anything, even if she was human.
“My family,” Shauna whispered before shaking her head roughly. “But it’s late, and I’m really tired from my trip. I’d better go. Maybe I’ll see you around sometime.” Though she spoke to all three boys, her eyes were only for Edgar. He nodded and smiled at her for a moment, then turned, grabbing at something on the comic book rack.
Shauna was halfway back to the door when Edgar hurried after her, shoving a slick comic book into her hand. She started to protest, claiming she had no money for such things, but he waved her words off and escorted her to the door. She smiled at him again and hurried away, the comic clutched tightly in one hand.
Edgar turned from the door slowly, because he was enjoying watching Shauna’s retreating form. He was met by two disapproving stares, but gave no sign that he had any reaction to them.
“Why’d you give her that?” Sam demanded. Alan watched his brother closely, waiting to see if some sort of vampiric mind power had been used on him, but Edgar simply grunted.
“We gave one to you,” he pointed out when it became clear that they wouldn’t accept the grunt as an answer. “It’s what we do.” Alan shook his head and wiped one hand down his face slowly.
“I still think it was pretty stupid,” Sam muttered. “We don’t even know if she’s a vampire or not. And besides. She’s older, an adult. She’s not going to believe in comic books, or in what we do.”
“She’s not,” Edgar said. He was utterly certain that she was a living, breathing human, just like they were. Sam didn’t look convinced, and since Edgar had no proof at the moment he chose not to press the issue farther. After a tense silence Sam turned to the comic books and sighed loudly.
“They’re still out of order,” he moaned, slowly switching a comic here and there, then pulling two more out and placing them on another stand. “Can’t you get anything right?” Alan punched his shoulder roughly and Sam laughed, ducking away from the next blow.
Shauna flopped down onto the hard hotel bed. The curtains on the east facing window were spread wide open to let the first rays of the sun into the room when it finally rose, but now only a streetlight shone in, illuminating the comic she held tightly in both hands. One finger traced the title slowly, following the letters as they formed “Vampires Everywhere” before dropping to run over the bloody woman below.
“What have you gotten yourself into now, Anna?” she mused out loud before stretching out and tossing the comic aside. Tomorrow would be soon enough to read the garbage, but now she needed sleep. Edgar’s dark eyes filled her mind for a moment, but she blinked the image away before she could dwell on it. This was neither the time nor the place to get involved, especially with one so young.
Besides. She was here on a mission. And nothing could come in the way of that.
Anna bounced onto the sand. Even when she had been human she had never acted this exuberant, but blood from her recent hunt raced through her veins, her Pack was whole, strong, vibrant from the hunt, yelling their happiness and their energy into the night air. It was a time for bouncing, if any time was. Dwayne laughed at her, his normally solemn face twisting into a smile, his dark chuckling urging Anna to continue her cavorting with the shadows, water, and sand.
The sight of another female twisting in the darkness, her body moving through the air sensually brought Anna’s playing to a halt. The entire Pack stopped, entranced by the curving movements of the female, enchanted by the music that sounded in their heads, matching her movements perfectly, though nothing could be heard by the naked ear. Each person had their own song echoing through their minds, but each song fit her dance perfectly.
It took David a moment to notice that her movements were too fluid, too graceful. She wasn’t human he realized, though it took him another movement to recognize the flow of extra muscles that marked a lycanthrope. His eyes drifted up towards the moon of their own accord. Sure enough, the moon was barely half full, a dim curve in the black sky.
“Hello there.” The words drew Anna’s attention to the figure sitting in the sand, one that had been invisible before now. Not invisible, she mended her thoughts, merely overshadowed by the dancer. From the voice alone she could tell the new figure was male, and when he stood, all fluid movement, it became blaringly obvious.
“Hi,” Anna whispered, eyes widening as her gaze swept over him. He was gigantic, taller than any in the Pack, a virtual mountain of man, muscles rippling slightly even as he remained still.
“Who are you?” David broke in before anything else could be said. He glanced at Anna, his eyes ordering her silence. She bristled beneath his firm gaze and lifted her chin stubbornly, not appreciating the unspoken order.
“I’m Adam,” the man said softly, laughter running beneath the calm surface of his words. He motioned to the still dancing woman next to him before speaking again. “And this is Victoria.”
“New in town?” Paul asked, moving in a slow circle around the two. His movement broke whatever had been holding the others back and the Pack began to circle around Victoria and Adam, not menacing them in the slightest, simply cutting off any means of escape.
“Yes,” Victoria spoke for the first time. Her voice lilted with the remains of an English accent, though it was obvious she hadn’t spent time in England in many years. Only a hint of the accent was contained in her voice, just enough to make what she said sound exotic and sensual.
“Why did you come here?” David questioned roughly, his head tossed back as he examined both of them with a heavy gaze. Only a hint of his normal smirk touched his lips, but few noticed the deep dislike he already harbored for the strangers.
“Actually,” Victoria chose her words carefully, letting each carry the full weight of meaning that they were meant to. “We came because of you.”
“What?” Anna tensed, moving back a step or two across the sand, her skin aching to shift into fang. Victoria laughed, waving away the immediate distrust that filled the air and returned to her dancing. It was Adam who attempted to clear the air between them.
“We heard about the destruction of certain werewolves here,” he explained quietly, watching Victoria as she moved lithely across the beach, never leaving the circle of vampires. “Those same werewolves denied us access to this city. We wanted to thank you for ending their tyranny.”
“And we were very curious as to what such powerful vampires would look like,” Victoria giggled as she spoke, her arms still cutting pictures into the dark night. Anna’s frown deepened then faded away when they offered no physical threat.
“Just what does that mean?” David demanded, his brows knitting in frustration. Victoria simply laughed again and began to dance back across the sand to Adam. He gazed up at her, watching her approach with a wild light in his eyes, ignoring David, much to the vampire’s consternation.
Before David could voice another question, or more likely order the Pack away from them for the rest of the night, Anna spoke up, voice lilting with her energy. “Why don’t you stay with us then, since you came to see us.”
Adam and Victoria exchanged a long, lingering look which seemed to set the air on fire, cause the sand beneath their feet to smolder, and bring the rush from the blood lust that had been so carefully contained until now surging back. When the air filled with tension until it felt as if it would overflow, when each vampire could have sworn that they would combust from the inside out, shooting energy and blood deep into the night, until even the waves themselves held back from the shore as if waiting for some release, only then did Adam answer.
“We would love to stay with you,” he replied, finally turning his gaze from Victoria to smile at Anna. She returned the expression but ran her hands down her arms lightly, trying to drive away the goose bumps. David considered protesting, but then decided that keeping the animals where he could watch them closely might just be a benefit in the end, so he snapped his mouth shut.
“Well then, come on!” Paul cried out, the first to break the circle and continue up the beach. “We’ve got a celebration to get on with. Music to blast. Dancing to have at. Come on!”
The Pack took a collective breath of air, then let it pass their lips in a soft sigh, and the spell was broken. They started up the beach again, following the wild vampire, Anna returning to Dwayne’s side, her fingers dipping beneath his leather jacket to caress bare skin and remind herself what other lusts she was able to handle after sating her bloodlust.
Adam and Victoria found themselves in the middle of the group, a disapproving David hovering nearby at all times, but Victoria merely laughed it away, entwining her fingers with Adam’s and grinning up at her mate.
For a brief moment Anna felt a headache begin to creep back into her head, starting that by now familiar throbbing and rush of agony, but this one wasn’t as powerful as the last. The new blood filling her body seemed to have an adverse effect on the headaches, which she was forever grateful for. After a moment it faded to a dull throbbing and she could ignore it once more, concentrating instead on Dwayne and the other lusts she was about to satisfy.
The rest of the night flew by. Once they were on the beach near the cave, Paul flew up long enough to grab the boom box, then music began to pound the air around them, echoing off of the rock cliff at their back. Victoria’s dancing was even more incredible when set to actual music, and Star and Anna found themselves joining in. Star especially was entranced by the freedom of movement and let herself go, wicked laughter bubbling up and spilling from her mouth.
Anna and Dwayne slid off into the shadows for awhile, and Marco teased them about the long absence until Anna smacked him playfully upside the head, then caught his hands, drawing him into a dance near Victoria and her curving movements.
By the time the sun began to rise, painting the edge of the sky pink and sending the vampires fleeing into their cave, Victoria and Adam were one of them, friends at the very least, new members of the Pack in all probability. Their lack of flying abilities not withstanding, Anna knew it couldn’t hurt to make alliances with werewolves, as long as they didn’t let it go to their heads like Max had. One quick glance at David reminded her that he wasn’t exactly seeing her point of view these days, but in the moments before sleep claimed her, Anna vowed that he would not drive these new friends away, no matter it took to allow them to stay.