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Solace by MarkReaper

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Author's Chapter Notes:
I'd like to thank everyone who voted for me in the past awards ceremony--you guys rule! I dedicate this (unfinished) story to all of you, and to Carla for her unending support and great talent and personality, to Raeann for her awesome feedback and encouragement (and talent as well!) and to Samantha for her site, for creating this whole thing in the first place, and, of course, for her talent.
The night fell upon the beachside town of Santa Carla like a curtain of ebony.

The water was inky black and bore on its oily swells the white breakage of the little wavelets that rolled in and battered the cliffs below the grandeur of the Lost Cave's cluttered back entrance. The sun on this August's dusk was naught but a dying ember, subsiding wearily behind the mountains to the west, ostensibly pierced by the shadowy daggers of their jagged peaks. Its magnificence, so prominent during the sweltering day, was dying rapidly as the bloody gold of the western sky, the nightly deathbed of the sun, was devoured by the indigo of evening tide.

And thus with the coming of night, the daily kingdom of the languid beach going mortals was relinquished, and the reign of the Lost Boys took its hold on Santa Carla with a grip as strong as tempered steel.

The roaring of their motorbikes, rising in tone with their gleeful, predatory howls, permeated the salty air. It was the song of the night, and had been for almost ten years; a litany to all of the horrors the vampires had overcome, a wordless speech of defiance against their tragedies. The Boys raced along the dirt pathway towards the shimmering lights of the pier, where both the memories and the life-giving blood they sought to assuage the burning in their veins waited for them as they did every night. Life was better now, better than it had been for a long time, at the very least since the reign of Max as head vampire was still firm and bright.

These were good times.

*

David was in no mood for hunting.

He stood at the front entrance of the Lost Cave, his long coat gently swirling around his thin body as the ocean breezes plucked at his white-blonde hair with gentle fingers. He was content to drink in the night with eyes as blue as azure, as hauntingly beautiful as the indigo of the dusk sky, but sightless, their sharp abilities robbed by the cruel sun and by equally cruel mortals. And though it left a scar far deeper than the ones marring his flesh, he had come to terms and developed an extraordinary will. He had understanding now, and compassion, but most of all he had her.

Dante.

The words were music on his tongue and in his mind; the ocean sung her name in the very deepest kiss of twilight, when the stars shimmered and sparkled and seem to dance for only her. The girl, who would have been overlooked by any mortal, for she was not a tiny waiflike doll to be fawned over, was not outgoing but quiet and resigned, was more...so much more. Dante became the very creature who had come to define David's soul as well as that of his pack, a magic girl not only in the healing of her hands and in her spell work but in the healing of her heart as well. She was his Prophecy, and now his Savior, as he had been for her. Strong in body and strong in soul, she had saved the lives of her Boys by sacrificing her own conscience...by killing another human being. And yet she did not look back on that day with baited breath, and the steel of her heart made David proud to be by her side. She filled him with the energy that he had lost and lived for so long without, filled him with the fragrant peace of living and the zest to continue on.

Tonight, he did not wish to leave the shelter of the cave. The hunger in his veins was not urgent, and he rather liked the feel of it winding lethargically through the highways of his body. The night was too beautiful to stain with mortal blood, too tranquilly melodic to shatter with the screams of the dying. And so the white-haired vampire was content to smell the perfume of the sea and hear the peaceful night noises through the blanket of the twilight he loved so much, and leave the killing to his Lost Boys.

Therein came the soft sigh of the evening breeze, and then Dante was by his side. She stood by him wordlessly, skirts flowing like water round her jeweled ankles, her eyes following the same paths as those of her counterpart. No words were needed here; their conversation was that of the contented purr of the indigo sea, its exhalation upon the dark-sanded shoreline and the rocks where long ago a young man with no name to his soul had met a tragic and willful death. A metaphor, David supposed, of Santa Carla itself. As this boy gave his life unto the sea, so did Santa Carla unto its Lost Boys.

"I haven't experienced a night so beautiful for quite some time."

Dante's soft voice broke into the young vampire's musings, and he turned his gaze in her direction. She smiled and knew that he sensed it, and she was all too willingly rewarded with the same.

"I used to never notice," David admitted. "I never realized how lucky were are to live here, where it's so beautiful. I wish I had realized sooner."

"Don't live in the past, David," Dante said gently. "That was a long time ago. You're not the same person anymore. You have a clearer head now, and you can keep your Lost Boys safe and happy because you see so much more." The little bells on her skirt ties tinkled as the night breeze playfully plucked at them; she took them in her jeweled hands and held them still.

David took her hand away, and she released the bells. "Leave them," he said gently. "I like sound the of them. Calming."

"I never thought any sound could calm you, David. Only blood." There was amusement lilting her tone.

"Blood used to calm me. Now it doesn't. I used to be different, so callous and uncompassionate. I thrived on discontent and believed that the only thing beautiful was the expression on the faces of my dying victims. But being blind has taught me a lot of things, Dante. Like the fact that every little thing you see is a gift from the gods- all of it is beautiful. And when you can no longer see the sunset or your comrade's faces, there is a void that can only be filled by time, and by learning how to appreciate everything that is beautiful. Take your singing, for instance."

"You're heard me sing?" More amusement surfaced in Dante's voice.

"I've heard you in the Lakeroom, when everyone else is sleeping. You sing your Gaelic prayers."

Dante looked up at him curiously. "How do you know they're Gaelic?" she asked.

"What do you pray about?" David inquired, ignoring her question.

"Our safety and happiness, as always. This place is so wonderful, everything is so wonderful...I couldn't stand anything happening to us."

David felt her fingers brush his cheek and he reached up to touch her hand. The skin was soft and unscarred, unlike his own. "I hope nothing ever will," he said softly.

*

The boys returned from hunting red-lipped and red-cheeked, with a couple of hours to spare before sunrise. Those who sought prey had eaten, and everyone had played and capered round the Boardwalk, pulling their newfound quarries from time to time into the shadows where none could see their deeds nor halt their celebrations, and they would return with their lips that familiar crimson- a telltale sign to vampires that a feed had been successful. Among them their unwitting mortal friends teased their flushed counterparts' drunkenness, pointing at reddened cheeks and pink flesh, slurring their laughing allegations of the over-consumption of whatever alcoholic beverage happened to be present, they themselves the only ones guilty of such accusations, although blind to it, as such sun-softened youth was wont to be. The vampires were drunk with life and with the sweet red wine of the freeness of the youth's blood they took, sometimes two or three vampires sharing a single prey- suckling the well-tanned wrists and neck as a hungry babe nurses from his mother.

All was well in their worlds, the best it had ever been.

Dwayne hung back from the rest of the group as they charged into the cave, seeing David and Dante standing at the cliff's edge. He approached behind, taking care to be noisy so as not to startle David.

The leader of the Lost Boys seemed to understand this, and he laughed as Dwayne took his place by his side. "You don't have to do that. I can hear you a mile away whether you're trying to be loud or not."

"I guess I'm just not used to it yet," Dwayne said sheepishly, and instantly regretted his statement, fearing it to be rude. But there was no sign of offense in his leader's eyes, and he breathed a sigh of relief. He flashed Dante a white-toothed smile and gave her a gentle shove. "Hi, girl."

"Hi. Did you have a good time?"

Dwayne nodded. "A lot of people out tonight. I wish you guys would have gone." There was true regret in his voice. Dante stayed with David most of the time now to help him, and with his blindness David was reluctant to leave the shelter of his home, although he did take trips down to the shoreline every so often. Dwayne missed the old days when he would lead them on a ride through the Boardwalk, his devilish grin firmly in place and his bike like a living thing beneath him. But times had changed, and although tragic, the olive-skinned vampire knew it was probably for the best.

"It would have been lovely," Dante said, and David directed his gaze at her.

"You should go with them one night," he said. Dante didn't mind watching the Lost Boys feed, and he thought that perhaps it would do her some good to get out, and, although he would not say it outright because she would protest, thought it beneficial on her part to get away from him. He thought himself a burden in his handicap, and often combated his own regret for encumbering her.

"I should," Dante said lightly. "It would be fun. I haven't been to the Boardwalk in so long."

"And that was when you were much less happy than now," David said. He sensed that sunrise was but a couple of hours away, and without a word he turned and strode back into the cave.

Watching him go, Dwayne realized that he walked almost like he always had, back when he had sight. The only hint of his handicap was the subtle touch of his hands on the cave's walls as he entered. The tall vampire fought the smoldering ember of pity that had rested in his gut since the day of the accident as he watched his leader disappear inside.

Suddenly, he felt Dante's elbow dig gently into his side, and he looked down, startled, to find her emerald eyes smiling up at him.

"Perhaps you should try going into the cave instead of staring at it," she said in good humor. Dwayne laughed and allowed her to tow him inside as the stars twinkled and the moon smiled her benevolence down upon the hallowed stones of the Lost Cave.
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