Dante by MarkReaper
The air was clear and warm; throngs of people littered the Boardwalk, and above the inky ocean waves the raven sky glittered serenely with tiny needlepoint stars, as if they were a myriad of tiny pins holding up the canopy of the sky. The moon was an ashen gray orb, illuminated with silver which cast its reflection like a single celestial eye, omnipotent and eternal, upon the whispering ocean.
The vampires were out as soon as the carmine sun sank wearily below the view of the horizon, and the wide expanse of sea. Tonight was a special night; the feeling some something impending hung heavy in the air, though it was only their leader, David, who sensed its prominence. Only the surface of the feeling had reached his vampires, who whooped and hollered joyfully around the cave as the sun was going down.
He sat in the shadows, calmly taking it all in with large cerulean eyes, deep in thought but not like his usual musings. This time, he did not know quite what he was thinking about. Whatever it was that was nagging at his soul was shrouded in the unknown, just beyond reach of David's amazingly advanced perception. His sixth sense was rampant through his mind, cutting off all thoughts of hunger.
His vampires, though, were untroubled by it all, and they were hungry. They were young, somewhat new vampires, and their senses were not as keen as their leader's. The clambered off the stone walls, cavorted madly across the main room in mock fights and chases, yelling and laughing and generally the picture of carefree youth. With time they would calm down, become more calculated like their leader, but a grain of wildness would always be etched deep within their souls, for their power was not as strong as David's.
As the sun finally disappeared and the beauty of night was upon Santa Carla, Marko rushed to the cave's entrance, peeked out, and gave a loud whoop. The vampires instantly crowded around the door at his signal, eager, hungry, their faces alight, no doubt already almost tasting their prey.
David watched them for a moment longer before rising slowly from where he sat, striding easily and confidently out into the open, and the melee quieted immediately.
Several pairs of eyes regarded him expectantly, radiating respect and the slight, ever-present awe that was always felt when beholding David. He had been through a lot, as had his friends, with that half-vampire Michael and the girl, Star. David was a charismatic, strong vampire, and though they did not know the full extent of his true powers, it was rumored among the group that he was the most powerful vampire in the world.
There had been many tales about the three friends. David, Dwayne, and Marko had all survived the encounter, Dwayne and Marko having been resurrected from their own deaths that befell them at the hands of the humans, Michael's consorts. But Paul could not be saved; his body was desecrated beyond repair. The remaining original Lost Boys were powerful as well, more so after their experience, but Dwayne and Marko still bowed to David and called him their leader, as did the new pack of the Lost Boys. There were over thirty of them now, as big and strong as ever, proving for once and for all that Santa Carla was indeed the murder capitol of the world...and it was going to stay that way for as long as the vampires wished.
David stopped directly in front of the group and flashed his snow-white fangs in a predatory grin.
"Go ahead," he said, after a pause.
Instantly the airs was filed with cheers and hollering again, and the vampires took off through the cave opening, jostling playfully in their haste to get out into the night air. David followed them slowly, his sensitive hearing thrumming with the sound of countless motorcycles sputtering and roaring as they took off down the hill.
Marko and Dwayne stayed behind to wait for him. They stood by their bikes, the dust swirling around their ankles, as David sauntered out to them and addressed them with a curt nod.
"What's up?" Dwayne asked pensively. He regarded his leader with concern.
"Something will happen tonight," David replied tersely.
"Something bad?" Marko's brows furrowed. He sounded worried.
"No, Marko. If it were something bad I'd have kept everyone home. It's just...something. Maybe we'll find something, or somebody. Maybe someone who needs us."
"Why would someone need us?" Dwayne was mystified. "Who would need vampires?"
"I don't know. Maybe we'll find out, if what's going to happen is what I think it is. Now, not another word about this. It is my business, and my business alone. Forget about it for now. We ride."
There was no argument from the other two. They straddled their bikes and David hopped onto his, gunning the engine and feeling its power throbbing under him, wanting to get going, and as fast as possible. He complied, sending the bike hurtling down the hill, controlling it skillfully as his friends followed closely, yelling with the heady thrill of speed, which had not diminished over the years and probably never would. The wind whipped wildly around them, its fingers tugging at their clothing as of welcoming them back after a long, hot day.
* * *
At the Boardwalk, Dwayne and Marko parked their bikes and left David, following his command, though they were naturally curious about what was going to happen and at first slightly reluctant to take their leave. But their leader was adamant and they complied without further question, leaving David alone, standing along the pier. Soon they caught sight of the others, and lost interest in what had just happened as they assumed the party-mode.
David blinked his eyes against the stiff breeze, watching it buffet and flick at the little wavelets near the shore. Their white-crested rollers slapped and licked at the odd, dark forest of wooden posts that elevated the pier above the water. People were fishing off the sides, their poles held in relaxed hands or the holders nailed to the beams, lines and bait dipping into the night waters that bobbed and carried the floaters off a ways. It was a peaceful sight; the mortals talked quietly with their companions, drank beer, and tended to their catches, peacefully oblivious to the dark, foreboding figure of David, who stood on the top level, gazing down at them omnipotently.
Ordinarily, this sight would have roused his hunger, but tonight David felt no urge to feed. After a bit of gazing his eyes fell upon the lone figure of a girl, sitting far off from everyone else.
She sat with her knees drawn up, her flowing skirt and top accentuating her strong, big-boned figure. The outfit of delicate, light material seemed ironic on such a muscular girl, but for some reason it looked like it was her second skin. The absence of people around her was conspicuous; she seemed to be purposefully avoiding them, clutching her deck of Tarot cards tightly in her pale, ringed hands.
David's eyes narrowed in realization. So this was the one his senses had told him about!
* * *
Dante looked up from her fixed gaze on the sea, feeling someone's eyes on her. The Tarot cards were slick in her hands, a new, polished deck; they slid around and threatened to slip from her grasp and fall through the board slats into the sea. That was the last thing she needed; she often told fortunes along the Boardwalk for money, which she needed to buy the things she used to make herbal potions. Those also were sold; after a while her concoctions became well-known and trusted, and subsequently highly sought-after. But as of now she was broke, and if her cards were lost then that was it for a while.
She stowed the cards in a long, hidden pocket of her skirt, glad to be rid of them but now uncertain of what to do with her hands. She was nervous; the fact that someone was watching her and she could not see them agitated her and made her self-conscious. She had always hated her figure; she was not slim and gangly like so many others, who looked like models and whom she hated with a hot passion because they did not know what it was like to look as she did, to go through life that way. Over the years countless people had told her she was beautiful, but her own strong, pessimistic will had warped them until she merely thought the compliments aimed at her were sarcastic and haughty. The only thing that even slightly pacified her hate was the fact that she could pulverize any of these skinny girls with only her bare hands.
Her face, well...yes, she could live with it; for it was her face that had dubbed her as beautiful. Large, emerald eyes, full lips, she was lucky in that area, and in the area of writing, and drawing. She loved to sing; she had been told she had the voice of a siren and was even offered record contracts, but she no longer cared about any of that. All she could see was the negative. Over time her sadness and hatred had twisted her so that her gentle eyes were hard and threatening, and she had become amazingly protective over the friends she did have. But tonight she was moody and temperamental; she had refused their offers of going to see a movie and instead opted to spend some time alone on the pier, as close to nature as she could get in Santa Carla. And maybe being an Aquarius had helped in that decision, too.
Dante shifted again, and stole a quick glance around her. She still could see no one.
She stood and picked up the small basket filled with herbs that she had collected in the small, vegetated cove that has hidden a ways down the beach. Her herbalist studies had done her well when she moved to Santa Carla; the ingredients she needed for her medicines and potions grew abundantly here, as opposed to where she used to live, deep in the city. Commercial medicines were poison in her eyes and she refused to take them, especially when Mother Nature provided the best cures. Plus, she made good money off of them.
The breeze fluttered her skirt; she shifted the basket to the crook of her arm and smoothed it down patiently. Senses pricked, she slowly began to walk up the pier, brushing past people who were becoming sleepy as the hour grew late. Soon they would be leaving and she would have the pier to herself, but until then some seclusion would be nice, to escape from the unsettling feeling of being watched.
* * *
David followed the girl as she strode off down the long stretch of beach that was invariably uninhabited. It was obvious she sensed that someone was watching her; David could see it in her hasty gait and the shifty looks she stole about her every so often.
She would not be able to see him. He melted into the shadows perfectly and he made no sound and left no prints as he glided across the sand, following her closely. His interest was sharp as he noted the herbs she carried in a wicker basket that hung from her muscular, strong-boned arm, and the glittering rings adorning many of her fingers. This interested him the most; they were not token rings, as were so common, but each looked to be quite expensive, individual, as were the many necklaces, bracelets, and anklets she wore.
As he thought, she traveled until she reached the little cove, unvisited by even the vampires and beautiful in it's natural state. David flattened himself against the rocks, his black clothes blending perfectly into the night-darkened stones. The girl could see surprisingly well in only the dim light of the starts and the moon. She picked her way skillfully around the rocks and seated herself on the largest one, trailing her hand in the little tide pools of clear water while the other one rested on the basket of herbs.
David understood now where the plants in the basket had come from; they grew thickly all over the moist, fertile ground here. It looked even as if she had done some planting herself; a very small peach tree grew close by the partially enclosed rock wall on the far side. Rosy fruit hung heavily from its boughs, which trailed almost to the ground. The girl reached up and picked a peach, dipping it briefly in the fresh water of the tide pool before eating it slowly. David looked around his comforting surroundings; this little cove was almost a cave, a wonderful little shelter. He could easily see why the girl liked it here and hoped that no one else would ever discover it.
* * *
Dante was surprised that the feeling of being watched did not dissipate now that she had gone to her secret place. Finishing her peach, she tossed the stone aside and called in a strong, unafraid voice, " Who's there?"
There was an almost imperceptible shifting by the entrance of the cove. It was ever so slight, but Dante caught it perfectly. She stood up and tensed her muscles, calling again. "Who's there? Show yourself!"
Her follower did just that.
He stepped out of the shadows and into the pale, watery moonlight, and Dante gave an involuntary gasp of surprise.
He was very pale, ghostly so, and clothed in a long black cloak, black shirt and black leather pants, black boots, and black gloves. His eyes were so blue that they seemed inhuman, glittering in the half-light, and bright with keen interest but somehow unthreatening. A strange silver medallion glittered from one of the pockets on his coat, winking and shimmering as if lit by an internal flame.
"What do you want?" she asked tightly, quickly recovering from her surprise. The figure was relaxed, which made her relax slightly, too. A smooth voice answered her,
"Something told me to follow you."
It was an honest answer, said with a gentleness that could not be faked. Dante took the edge from her tone as she asked, "What told you?"
"I don't know," came the reply. "Something inside. Something...unknown."
"What's you name?"
There was no hesitation as the figure replied, "I am called David."
Dante seemed satisfied. "Well, I guess I am pleased to meet you, David. My name is Dante. Would you like me to read your fortune? Perhaps that is why you followed me."
This highly amused David for a reason Dante did not understand. He leaned against the rock wall, his slim, lithe form shaking with silent laughter. "No," he chuckled. "No, thank you..."
"What?" Dante was confused, and a little hurt form her wounded pride had seeped into her voice. "What's so funny? You think I can't read fortunes?"
"No, it's not that," David's laughter slowly stopped, and a serene smile took its place. "The truth of the matter, Dante, is that I do not think you would be able to tell my fortune."
"Oh? That a challenge?"
David shrugged ever so slightly. "I dunno. Not really. But if you want to prove it to yourself, I suppose I cannot stop you..."
"Sit down." Dante seated herself on the mossy ground, and David complied to her requests with a knowing sigh, lowering his graceful body to the ground and watching her with an oddly expectant look.
Dante took the deck from her pocket and instructed him to shuffle the cards, which he did with long, sure fingers. The slick new cards did not slip once as he deftly shuffled them, and after a while handed them back to her with a tangible air of sureness. Dante looked him in the eye and grinned coyly as she spread them out in simple, ten-card fashion. As she began to turn the cards she looked up, her eyes traveling unbidden to David's face.
He was watching her intently, and as her large eyes met his he gave a fleeting smile.
Dante gasped with shock as the cards suddenly flipped violently beneath her fingers, as if swept away by an unseen hand, fluttering up into the air like butterflies before settling back down, landing in a perfect stack. David had not moved; he was still sitting in the same position but now his smile was ascertaining.
Dante flew to her feet and backed quickly away from David, her hand to her mouth. David's eyes were still locked with hers as he sighed and got up slowly. "I told you," he said mildly.
"What...what just happened?" Dante's expression darkened as she slowly overcame her fear. "How did you do that?" she demanded.
"What do you mean, you didn't?" Her voice was shrill with accusation. "You knew that was going to happen! I know you did! Why'd you have to go and scare me like that? Huh? What's the big deal?"
David's voice still held its gentle honesty as he said, " I truly am sorry; I didn't mean to frighten you. But I did tell you that it was impossible to tell my fortune."
"So how did you flip the cards like that?"
"I told you, I didn't,"
Dante eyed him coldly. After a long pause she stopped and picked up the cards, shuffling briefly and noting without much surprise that they had landed in perfect order. She set her jaw and slipped them back into her pocket, facing David again. "What are you, some sort of magician?"
"What, then?" Dante had forgotten her fear; it was replaced by a curiosity that she had never felt before. "The cards can't have just moved all by themselves. If you're not a magician then what are you?"
David smiled again as he took a step towards her. His eyes were almost glowing with intensity as he said, in a soft, purring voice,
"I am a vampire."
* * *
"A vampire..." Dante's mouth hung open slightly. "But vampires don't exist..."
"They do, Dante," David said. "I am proof to you. The fates have led me here to you, and for the first time since I saw you earlier this night, sitting alone along the pier, I think I may understand why."
Dante was about to speak, but David held up a hand, shushing her. "Shhh. Let me say my part, Dante.
"As a vampire I have lived the life that has only been whispered of in dark alleys, wrote about in books which convey us either as rotting zombies or aristocratic gentlemen. I must say that both of these are wildly exaggerated, though both are on the extreme ends of the spectrum. We live among people undetected, which is about as close as we get to being aristocrats. On the other hand, we have dark hearts, black hearts, and we are impure. We take innocent lives to feed our hunger, sometimes we kill just for the fun of it. As a vampire I was nearly destroyed, but I came back, as did two others like me, and together we formed a great circle of vampires just like us, who we created. It is the common thought among my pack that I am at peace as their leader. And in a way I am. But there is something lacking. A leader, Dante, needs a companion. And as I saw you sitting there tonight, and as you spoke to me and I realized your wisdom which is centuries beyond your years, I saw truly what my senses have been trying to tell me for some time now."
Dante stood in shock, her eyes wide in disbelief, but David let the moment pass in silence, and sure enough the light of understanding began to dawn in her eyes. David extended his hand and she took it slowly, her eyes never leaving his face.
"Come back with me," he whispered softly to her. "Leave it all behind; leave all your misery and pain here, and join me for eternity as my consort. Together, we shall prove more powerful than anything on Earth. Join me, Dante..."
And Dante's lips curved into a smile as she drew the cards from her pocket, dropping them into the water of the tide pool. The pain of reality was even now beginning to spin blissfully away from her.
"I will," she said.
Here are the lyrics that this story is based on. The song is called "One Caress", by Depeche Mode.
Well I'm down on my knees again
And I pray to the only one
Who has the strength
To bear the pain
To forgive all the things that's I've done
Lead me into your darkness
When the world is trying its hardest
To leave me unimpressed
Just one caress
From you and I'm blessed
When you think you've tried every road
Take one more look
At what you found old
And in it you'll find something new
I'm shying away from the light
I've always loved the night
And now you offer me eternal darkness
I have to believe that sin
Can make a better man
It's the mood that I am in
That's left us back where we began