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The Hunter's Game by Doc Scurlock

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Author's Chapter Notes:
I don't own any of them.
This is part one of what will, most likely, be a four part story. Chloe and Jack will both be making appearances later. If you haven't seen Day 3 of 24 this won't make a whole lot of sense.
Chase lit up a cigarette then shook out the match. He hated the things, but it was all part of his cover. Being a private investigator wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Especially when it landed him in places like Santa Carla where there were more people missing than the greater New York area. In this case he was looking for a runaway, probably turned prostitute. Hence, the tough guy look as he sulked through the dark streets.

One by one he disregarded the various hookers on the corners. None of them were his girl. A sharp scream split the night air. Chase cursed his own nature as he headed for them at a sprint, certain someone was in trouble. And, indeed, a shaking, young prostitute had been cornered by a group of local toughs. Ignoring the little voice telling him it was no skin off his nose, Chase grabbed the one gripping her wrists. His fist slammed into the kids jaw, dazing him. Tossing the kid away he launched into a series of short, violent attacks that quickly disabled most of the kids.

But the last kid, a platinum blonde, just wouldn’t go down. Chase slammed his boot into the boy’s sternum. Nothing. Oh shit. He instinctively knew he was in over his head. The girl had run away, thank God. Lunging forward the former agent tried to take down the kid with a full body block. A hand wrapped around his throat and slammed him into a wall.

Gasping, Chase clawed at the offending appendage. No kid was this strong. Chase’s struggles didn’t loosen the grip any. More pressure was applied to his lean neck. There would be bruises, he knew, tomorrow. Large, painful discolorations were the hand was.

A stray beam of light, from a window maybe, fell across them. Familiar as the day Chase had woken up in the hospital a face materialized. “Jack,” the word was choked and needy. But he was to far gone to see the startled expression as he slumped forward, unconscious.

David let the comatose man fall to the ground with a dull thud. The final spark those remarkable smoky-green eyes had shaken him more than he was willing to admit. Perversely, it made him all the more determined to find out who this man, who looked young but felt dangerous, was. A man stupid enough to take on a nest of vampires over a whore, but experienced enough to do serious damage. Most of all, David wanted to know what ‘Jack’ meant that it could bring love and bitterness in equal measure to those fascinating eyes.

Turning so his black trench coat flared upwards in a swirl of black leather, David snapped, “Bring him with us.” The boys looked at each other uncomfortably. After all this human had incapacitated them with his bare hands and challenged David directly. Rolling his eyes, these were a lot of gutless worms compared to his old crew. But beggars can’t be choosers. “Idiots. He’s not going to wake up for awhile. Just grab him.”

Hesitantly one of the bolder fledglings actually obeyed. David resisted the urge to applaud as another followed suit, easily lifting the human between them. With a sharp nod David relaxed and opened himself into flight. If they dropped his toy he’d be very unhappy. And lately the meant heads would roll.

There is nothing quite as unpleasant as waking up after being forced into unconsciousness. A hangover comes close but relatively speaking Chase would have rather had a hangover. Forcing his eyes open only darkness surrounded him. A gift in that it delayed the inevitable headache, a curse because he couldn’t see shit, like where he was and who was with him.

“Welcome back,” a voice rasped out of the darkness, running over his skin almost lovingly.

Chase tried to sit up, raising a hand to his head. The world spun, or at least felt like it because he couldn’t see. Cursing he let himself fall back onto the padded surface. Long, hard swallows kept the nausea at bay. His heartbeat throbbed painfully loud in his ears. “Goddamn sonovabitch,” he let slip one of Jack’s preferred obscenities. Then added a few of Chloe’s favorites for a good measure.

A dark, silken chuckle made Chase shudder. “Headache?” That was too much like another one. Less hoarse, but with the same smooth feeling of a steel blade slicked with blood, dripping charisma rather than crimson.

Figuring honesty was the best policy considering the other man could see him and Chase was blind, he answered, “Hell yeah.” Cool fingers pressed against his temples. In a reaction taught by years of working with people who’d soon as slit his throat as touch him Chase threw himself away from the contact.

Laughter, almost lascivious in its depth and tone, surrounded the former agent. Soft hands with frameworks of steel gripped his biceps in a hold he couldn’t break but wouldn’t bruise if he kept still. “You don’t have to be afraid,” the suggestion was offhand. “But I’m going to touch you whether you like it or not.”

Gritting his teeth, Chase nodded stiffly. For the moment he would accept being handled by this stranger whose voice raised old ghosts. That damned laugh was back, taunting him with its sensual undertones and bringing hell hounds to snap at his heels. The grip was released in favor of allowing those unnaturally cool fingers to trace up his arms to rest on his shoulders.

The jacket he’d began the night in was gone, which sucked. He scowled, “I want my friggin’ coat back. A friend gave it to me.” His scowl deepened as the stranger obviously found his annoyance funny. Like an icy shiver, except independent of Chase’s body, the fingertips ran up his neck, pausing for a moment over his jugular, before continuing upward. A thumb ran thoughtfully over his lips several times. He clenched his jaw tightly to prevent himself from doing something he’d regret. Say, like taking a chunk out of the arrogant bastard.

“I’ve never seen eyes quite like yours,” the stranger said thoughtfully.

Shrugging, Chase replied neutrally, “I got my mother’s eyes.”

A stuff humming sound drifted past his ears. “That’s not what I meant.” Ridged pads brushed across his eyelids. “Green’s unusual, especially when it goes back and forth between dark and gray like yours. But…” he trailed off. “Do you have a name?”

Chase hesitated. The stranger wasn’t breathing. In the stillness Chase should have been able to hear him.

Memories from long ago rose to meet the present. The things he’d heard from that strange gypsy woman in her musty, shadowed shop back in Hell’s Kitchen were real. The pagan part of him who lived by Madame Petulangro’s tales of the old country crowed with triumph. He’d seen the otherwordly strength. Knew that his captor could see in total darkness. His heart rate sky rocketed as he put his logical conclusions with his gut feeling. Scrambling violently away he hissed, “Obiri. Stay away from me.” Fear made his hands tremble as he searched in vain for his knife. Cold steel defends against demons and keeps the undead at bay.

Bands of steel wrapped around him and pinned him to a broad chest. There was not warmth or heartbeat. Only cold, stillness seeped through the thin cotton shirt. Struggling wildly, knowing it was useless, Chase cursed the stranger restraining him. “Obiri. Mullo. Childe of Sara the Black. Let me go.” Helplessly he fought with everything he had. This wasn’t anything he’d been trained for.

“You know, if you keep wiggling things just might get interesting,” the stranger said with casual amusement.

Chase froze but his words never stopped. An outpour of English mixed with a healthy dose of the gypsy’s own tongue. “Vhampir,” he finished harshly.

Sounding impressed the stranger responded, “Well. I didn’t understand half of that but still. Who taught you?”

Clenching his teeth defiantly Chase stood his ground. This demon would get nothing out him. Names had power, even a public name like Chase. “Ah,” entertained by the man’s defiance the demon taunted, “now don’t be like that. If you don’t tell me your name I’ll have to give you one. I’ve always liked Jack.”

That got the rise David was looking for. His captive slammed an elbow into his ribs. Only decades of practice kept him from releasing the human. “Don’t you dare speak about him,” the man growled. “I won’t have your mouth defiling his name.”

Giggling, this was fun, David put said mouth on the back of the warm neck. “Jack, Jack, Jack,” he chanted in a sing-song voice. A boot raked the inside of his calf. Boring of his little game, he decided to change the rules. “Then again you can’t seem to behave like a human being with all that snarling you’re doing. Maybe I should just call you pet. I bet if I just rub your belly you’ll follow me like a puppy.”

The words turned Chase’s blood to ice water. Jack’s gentle voice, “A faithful hound.” Salazar’s mocking words, “So this is Jack’s dog.”
“I am no one’s pet,” hard and unyielding, but hiding a world of hurt.

David frowned. Not what he was looking for. He wanted the fire, the anger, the sheer energy of the younger man. Cold, still, he already had those. “How ‘bout you be mine?” he baited. But whatever had taken over the man in his arms didn’t care.

Several more times David mocked the green-eyed prisoner. Nothing worked. Frustrated the vampire pushed the human back onto the cot. “Fine. Be that way.” He stalked off to sulk somewhere. Let the human stew alone in the dark in for a couple of days and he’d lick David’s boots for some attention.
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