The conversation with Frank had
petered out slowly, and finally neither of them had been able
to find anything else to say without giving away that they were
digging for information. It had been just over an hour since the
cop had wandered away and found himself a quiet corner of the
Haven to just sit and watch. Richie had chatted to a couple more
people over that time, but he had not left the bar and he had
not tried for anything deeper than a casual comment or two about
the music, or some such subject. As soon as a young looking brown
haired man sat down next to him and smiled, the Immortal knew
he had gained some attention he didn't want.
Alexae had spotted Richie the
moment he'd walked in the club, a few minutes previously, and
he'd liked what he saw. If he'd been younger and local, one of
his clan members would probably have tried to stop him as he approached
the young stranger, but Alexae was not your average Kindred. This
Toreador was Lillie's personal guest from Europe, an Artiste,
respected by his entire clan for his talent, and known for his
varied tastes. He was easily the oldest vampire in the club, well
over two centuries, and nobody tried to tell him what to do. Yes
he happened to have zeroed in on the friend of Lillie's current
companion, but there wasn't a Kindred in the place who was going
to try and tell him he wasn't allowed. Alexae displayed one of
the greatest talents in the Toreador clan, he also displayed most
of their weaknesses. Calling this vampire arty was doing a complete
injustice to his temperament, and touchy didn't even cover it.
Whether he wanted to paint the
Adonis or ravish him wasn't quite decided in Alexae's mind, but
a mixture of the two showed in his face. The moment he sat down,
Richie began to think it was a good time to move.
"Good evening," the
Toreador purred with what had to be considered a very handsome
He was hoping that this young
man would not be averse to his company, but the half embarrassed,
I'm outta here look appeared in the Immortal's eyes almost immediately.
It was unfortunate, but not too much of a problem.
"Ah, hi," Richie said
with a fake smile, "I have to be going."
"Oh, you don't want to be
doing that," Alexae said smoothly as the blond man went to
move, "it's still early."
The dark green eyes snared the
young Immortal's gaze and he was trapped. The muscles that had
tensed to help him stand relaxed and suddenly his body had decided
it didn't want to leave. What the vampire next to him could not
have guessed, however, was there happened to be a little part
of Richie that was still insisting he should be going. Most of
the Immortal was caught, just as any Mortal would have been, but
deep inside there was a voice yelling that something really strange
was going on here, and it would not quit.
"Can I buy you a drink?"
Alexae offered amiably.
"Thanks," Richie returned
and smiled, "I'll have the same again."
Other Kindred in the club just
looked at each other, a few smiled and others shook their heads.
It was quite obvious that a seduction was going on.
After a couple of suggestions
that the blond Immortal should be quite happy about the company
he was keeping, the conversation was becoming quite animated.
The Toreador was in no hurry, and he wanted to get to know the
young man before they retired to somewhere more suitable. On the
outside, Richie appeared much the same: relaxed, friendly and
chatty, but on the inside a slight pressure was building. The
little voice of derision was getting louder. An Immortal psyche
was not something that should ever be played with, it took a certain
control to maintain sanity when a person habitually absorbed other
people, and hypnotism could alter that. All Immortal's had a certain
degree of natural mental stability, some more so than others,
and messing with it was a very bad idea.
Richie's brain thought it was
not good as well, and slowly it was sorting out the mess. It was
just beginning to occur to Alexae that he was having to exert
quite a bit more influence than usual when, as far as he was concerned,
the most extraordinary thing happened. One moment he was talking
quietly to the young man who's name he had discovered was Richie,
and the next the Immortal's head shot up. The reason he was losing
control was uncertain, but Alexae saw it instantly and decided
he didn't want it to happen. He put every ounce of influence he
could muster into the gaze he sent at his companion and managed
to snare the young man once more.
"It's nothing," he
managed to get out, before he actually felt a mental shove back.
The Toreador could have sworn
that he actually saw a spark of light dance across Richie's eyes,
and then the young man tore his face away. As far as the Immortal
was concerned, the presence of another of his kind had impinged
itself on his consciousness and wiped everything else into insignificance.
Given time to think he probably would have realised that something
strange had been going on, but as it was all he cared about was
the man standing just inside the doorway.
Damon spotted Richie at the same
moment, and surprisingly he just stood there. He was quite a large
man, and he'd been in his twenties when he'd died for the first
time. He had short, almost shaved hair and a semi-casual sense
of fashion. The folds of his long black overcoat hung with familiar
heaviness, and as the two looked at each other he smiled.
Now Kindred could spot animosity
a mile away, and it wasn't just Alexae who had noted the atmosphere
between the two men. How it had allowed a human to escape the
snare of an experienced Toreador, was intriguing. As it was, Richie
stood up as if he wasn't even aware he'd been talking to anyone.
The two Immortals took a moment
to size each other up, and then, with a flick of his head Damon
indicated they should take their discussion outside. A slight
nod back and the meeting was arranged. The older looking of the
two did a one eighty and left the way he had come, and Richie
turned to the barman.
"If my friend ask where
I've gone," he said quickly, "tell him I'll meet him
at the hotel. Thanks."
Then he to was gone. For a few
moments Alexae just sat there a little stunned, then with a half-amused
smile he headed for the door. Never let it be said that this Kindred
wasn't up for a challenge.
It was only a few seconds later
that Frank couldn't contain his curiosity either. However, outside,
everyone of interest seemed to have just vanished into thin air.
The cop stood there listening to traffic noise for a long moment,
and gazing down the street, but there appeared to be no sign of
"Dammit," he said loudly
and glared at a couple of Gangrel perched on a motorbike.
They favoured him with amused
smiles, as if they knew exactly what he was up to, before they
sped away. It was like watching a rerun of empty world, not a
soul remained in sight. He was left with two choices, go back
into the club, or just head home, it was after all his night off.
Five minutes later, Frank was
still standing there trying to decide what to do, there was just
something about this situation that nagged at his instincts. He
was almost convinced that it was a Kindred thing going on, but
it wouldn't let him just leave it alone. He was beginning to talk
himself out of the need to investigate when he heard a faint clanging
of metal. With the city noises it was almost masked, but his police
trained eyes and ears he narrowed it down to an alley across the
street. He didn't need urging on twice, and with an `I don't believe
I'm doing this' shake of his head he trotted across the road.
Now Frank had seen some things
in his time, but he was not expecting what he found when he rounded
the corner in the blind alley. Richie and Damon were doing a very
skilful job of trying to carve each other into little pieces,
and the nineties police officer's brain rebelled at the idea.
Two men were hacking at each other with four foot long swords,
well hacking probably wasn't the right word, but it was just about
all Frank could come up with. It was only the thought that this
might be Kindred business that kept the cop in the shadows.
The Gangrel that had taken up
a viewing position just behind a dumpster grinned as the energetic
battle rallied the beast within him, and Frank also spotted Alexae.
The thought of two pissed off Kindred going for him because he
interrupted a private dispute kept him in place for a few more
blows. Part of the police officer admired the skill the two combatants
showed, and he noted the way that both players had taken at least
one chunk out of their opponent. Yet there was still something
that seemed very wrong about two people fighting with swords in
the current day and age. The fact that the cuts on both warriors
seemed to have pissed them off more than hurt them, was unsettling.
Frank managed to control himself
for a full five minutes, before finally his police instincts took
over. He reached into his jacket and pulled out his gun just as
Richie seemed to gain the upper hand. He took a deep breath and
stepped out of the shadows, levelling his weapon on the two men.
"Stop, police," he
said loudly and managed to cause both men to look round.
The younger looking of the two
made a face, and if expressions could have killed, Frank would
have been dead. Damon on the other hand looked slightly relieved,
and he smiled wickedly.
"Damn," Richie would
have sworn more colourfully, but he was too wound up, "loose
yourself, Frank," he continued hopefully, "you really
don't want to get involved in this."
Neither of them were going to
get any choice in the next events, however, as the Immortal's
opponent took the opportunity to bend the rules.
"Sorry, Ryan," he said
coldly, and drew attention back to himself, "but I've had
enough of this. Maybe next time."
Before anyone could move, metal
glinted in the air and a stunned look crossed Richie's face. He
gazed down for a moment and just about had time to investigate
the ornate dagger sticking out of his chest. If Damon was anything,
he was accurate, and the blade had found the other Immortal's
"You bastard," was
all the blond one of the pair could say, and then he collapsed
Frank was so shocked by the move
that Damon was already on his way past before reality kicked in.
The truth of the matter became starkly obvious as the cop was
sent reeling backwards by a hefty shove. He managed to level his
gun just as the Immortal disappeared. By the time he glanced back
at what was now a dead looking individual, Alexae was gone, along
with the unnamed Gangrel, and another, worried looking Kindred
jumped off the roof at the end of the alley and ran towards the
Haven. A feeling that he would not be in control of the situation
much longer settled squarely in the police officer's mind.
In the time it had taken the
whole affair to take place, the one person who could have sorted
it out had managed to leave the Haven and head back to his hotel.
For this reason it was Lillie who decided to clear up and avoid
a police enquiry into a sword fight just outside her club. Resigned
to letting Kindred handle what he thought was their business,
Frank actually lent his help. Julian turned up just after they
had placed Richie's body in Lillie's office, which was why two
Kindred and one human were stood staring at a corpse about ten
minutes after he had died.
Since Frank believed he was looking
at a Kindred paralysed by a stake, he was confused as to why the
other two were just standing there. Why they didn't remove the
dagger which was keeping the young looking individual imobile
was beyond him.
"Would someone mind telling
me what exactly was going on in that alley," the police officer
finally asked. "Is there some weird ritual that Kindred have
for finishing each other off?"
For the first time, Julian actually
took some notice of his companion. He raised one eyebrow and frowned
"He's not Kindred, Frank,"
he concluded after a moment's thought, "and I'm afraid he's
very dead. We're as much in the dark about this as you. It's just
we'd rather not have such a peculiar crime on our doorstep. This
I think may be more in your line of work."
He ignored the fact that the
young cop's mouth was hanging open and continued on his own investigation
of the body. They'd put Richie on Lillie's desk and beside him
lay his sword, the Prince picked up the weapon almost reverently.
"A truly beautiful antique,"
he commented respectfully, "and very well maintained."
He looked at the dagger next
and much to Frank's growing horror just pulled it out of the body.
"So is this," the Ventrue
said quietly, "but of an entirely different era."
"But if he's not ..."
the police officer said slowly, "how come. What was he doing
in the Haven, and how is it his friend knows Lillie?"
It was the Primogen of the Toreadors'
turn to look awkward.
"His friend?" Luna
The Prince could almost see the
thoughts run through his one time lover's mind, and he waited
"Duncan MacLeod," the
other Kindred finally gave up the name, "I've known him ...
It would be very difficult explaining
exactly how a non-vampire came to be the same after sixty years.
She was, however, saved the trouble of doing any explaining just
at that moment, because Richie's body chose that moment to regain
life. One second he was lying flat on his back and the next he
almost rolled onto the floor as he reacted to the last memory
in his brain. He wobbled precariously as he sat up way too fast
and the pain of his still healing injury impinged itself on his
consciousness a millisecond or so later. He groaned loudly and
lay back down again without trying to think too hard.
Stunned didn't quite cover the
reaction of the other three in the room. Richie opened his eyes
to see what were to him three, upside- down, startled faces.
"Oh great," he said
quietly, "the cop, Duncan's friend, and a complete stranger.
Mac's gonna kill me."
It was the Ventrue who recovered
his composure first.
"That would seem a somewhat
difficult thing to accomplish," he said slowly.
Richie chose not to comment on
that, his mouth had a habit of getting him into trouble. The fact
that one of the three people looking at him was holding his sword,
and the dagger that had killed him, was unsettling. The pain in
his chest was subsiding so he decided to slowly sit up and take
stock of the situation. The right way up he had a much better
view of the three observers. It wasn't difficult to see who was
in charge, authority just oozed out of Julian, and that begged
a few questions. Richie had been on the street a long time before
he met Duncan MacLeod of the clan MacLeod, and now he came to
think about it, Frank looked like a cop, the man with him did
not, and Lillie was most certainly not an officer of the law.
"I don't suppose we could
just forget you saw any of this, could we?" well it was worth
a try, wasn't it.
"No, I don't suppose,"
Luna returned evenly.
Someone coming back from the
dead was not only intriguing, it could have consequences for the
Masquerade, and that meant Julian was very interested.
"Why don't you explain how
it is that you are still alive," the Prince said with an
smile that sent shivers up the young Immortal's back.
"And while you're at it,"
Frank put in, "why the hell you were trying to kill someone
with a sword."
It was an accusation and Richie
found his mouth reacting before his brain could stop it.
"I was trying to kill him
because he has been trying to kill me,... for quite a while,"
the Immortal said vehemently and gave a good indication as to