Wake Up Sunshine
Quiet. The human clubs had let out an hour ago, the happy revelers staggering to their various modes of transportation and disappearing into the night, to safety. The smell of their alcohol sweetened blood slowly dissipated into the dark until the streets fell to an eerie silence.
Acheron wished he could be happy with the lack of any Rogue activity this past month. Hell, they had chosen this city for that exact reason, little to no Rogue sightings. But that feeling had been growing in him again. An uneasiness he couldn't shake. Something was going to happen, something bad.
For the millionth time he cursed his inability to sense the future when it involved those he cared about. What good was the ability if he couldn't use it to help those who meant the most to him? How could he call it a gift when he couldn't save his friends lives... Damn. So can't go there.
"It's been too quiet D, even for here."
"I've noticed you've been on edge lately. You having one of your feelings?"
"Yeah." Ash raked his fingers through his hair. "Been getting stronger too."
"Sure it isn't just... you know, because of Pemberton and what went down there, maybe your just a little..." Dante left the sentence hanging between them. Ash knew what he was getting at.
"Paranoid? No! I mean... its strong this time like it was then and I... I..." Acheron sighed in frustration. "I don't know. Maybe. Damn it!"
"Ash... look. Do you think any of us are going to forget Pemberton any time soon? Not likely. And I know... we all know you blame yourself and only yourself. But we all knew something wasn't right and we all ignored our gut feelings. Hell, if it weren't for you wanting to check out that last building where, may I remind you we found the evil prick who was behind that particular Rogue apocalypse, we all would have been back at the compound when those bombs detonated. So seriously, cut yourself some slack would ya?."
He knew he should listen to Dante, but knowing and doing were two completely different things.
"Yeah, maybe. Doesn't help with this feeling of impending doom weighing on me though."
"Look, we all know better than to ignore the feelings you get. So we contact the local clan, have MacRieve tell his people to keep their eyes and ears open and we do the same, raise the alert level to amber, yes?"
"Yeah." What else could they do without any specific information to work with? Never in all their history had two leaders risen to harness the Rogues into an army at the same time. And they had taken that last power hungry bastard out. Seriously taken him out, in buckets to be burned in the sun. "It just feels too much like we're sitting ducks waiting to be picked off. I... sorry. Your right. We can only do what we can."
"And what we can do right now is call it a night and go meet the others at the club." Dante gave him his best everything will look better with a few drinks warming your belly grin. "It should be fun to see how Quinn and John react to the place and the... ah, amenities." he chuckled.
Acheron was still trying to figure those two out. One of the plus' of his ability was that when he met someone new and couldn't sense anything about their future, he knew they would become important to him. It was how he chose the members who would become part of the headquarters compound. Normally when they lost a member, either dying in action or leaving to start a family, Ash would find a member from among the other compounds to replace them. That wasn't quite how he found John.
He had been at the Olympia compound looking for replacements when the head of the local Sanctuary had asked him to come and interview an orphan they were caring for. They had told him they didn't believe he was right for the Order, but had not been able to find a placement for him and were hoping Acheron might have an idea. As soon as he laid eyes on the kid Ash knew he was taking the kid home with him. Because the kid had been a total blank. His ability had shut down completely. Which meant the kid was important.
Ash had been ready to head back to the new compound, believing he had found the one he was looking for when Gid had called, telling him about a newly turned clan member who wanted to volunteer for the Order. Volunteer plus Order were not two words that went together very often anymore. At first he had thought to just decline the request, chalking it up to some kids warped idea of running away with the circus. Then Gid told him it was the second son of Epherus, leader of the Kruder clan and CEO of EON Corp. Why would any son of one of the wealthiest... well, beings on the planet want to join the Order?
His curiosity had won out and he went to meet the kid. Quinn hadn't been a complete blank like John, Ash could detect confusion and... emptiness. But there was nothing specific and it was very faint. What Ash didn't need an ability to read was the desperation and hope in the kids eyes. And just like that, for the first time ever two recruits were being trained at headquarters.
Acheron had few worries about Quinn. He just... fit. Dante and Gideon had accepted him into their circle day one. He was outgoing and not afraid to speak his mind, which was both a good and bad thing in this group. And although Ash would have liked to see a little more motivation in his lessons, Quinn did whatever they threw at him without complaint. No, even though the kid hadn't opened up yet to anyone about how he had come to Turn early, Ash didn't feel the need to watch over him.
Not like John, who had him very worried. Something was burning the kid up inside. And so far he hadn't given any clues as to what. Unlike Quinn who simply did his lessons then flopped on the sofa with one of the others and played video games the rest of the night, if Ash needed to find John, nine out of ten times he'd be in the workout room practicing. Sitting at the dining table, or discussing tactics in the war room, you sometimes forgot he was even there. But when training in Martial Arts or weapons, he had the most intense determination Ash had ever seen in a recruit. Ash wondered if maybe the kid had had an encounter with a Rogue and that was how he Turned early. Like Quinn, John hadn't given up that info yet. Ash feared that for John, it had been bad. Really bad.
"I'm not sure bringing John to the club was the best idea. I know you guys explained it to him and all, but..."
"But you can't see him 'partaking of the goods'?" Dante chuckled. "I hear you. I was surprised too that he wanted to come along. I figured he and the Johnsons were going to become lifelong friends."
Shortly after they had first arrived Ash had taken Quinn and John to meet Missy and Kev Johnson, a young couple who were Providers for the local clan.
John and Quinn both had used Providers before and knew the rules. All choices of how the exchange was made were up to the Provider. Because the bite and introduction of saliva into the bloodstream caused pleasure for both involved, strict rules on how blood could be taken had been put in place. There were two allowed positions: from the wrist kneeling down or from the neck from behind. There was to be no holding on to the Provider. If the feeder needed to steady themselves by placing hands of the Provider, it had to be done with relaxed, preferably open hands.
There had been no surprises at that first meeting. John had practically knocked Quinn down going to the quiet, shy Missy when asked who he would prefer to be with. That he had chosen the least intimate way of exchange hadn't been a surprise either. Nor that Quinn had been fine with Kev and accepted when Kev had said he was okay with either way of exchange. It had been a relief. Ash didn't know what they would have done if he had been wrong and both boys had been uncomfortable feeding from a male. The Johnson's were the only Providers that had come forward to help the Order. Unfortunately the clans biases against the Order sometimes flowed over to them as well.
Human blood could sustain them just fine if they fed once a week as the boys did. But the blood of their own kind... well there was no comparison. Not only could you go twice as long between feedings, the blood of their own kind also made them stronger. The catch? The feeling of pleasure was also stronger. Much stronger. Which was why clubs like Agent Red flourished. This one was owned and operated by the local clan leader Kellan MacRieve and had been a factor in choosing the city.
Ash followed Dante through the heavy doors that were designed to keep the pounding electro music in. A bouncer greeted Dante with a smile, ushering them through an inner doorway. To the left was the main public part of the club where a couple staff members were wiping down tables that circled the large dance floor and then turning stools over on top of them. To the right were the coat check, washrooms, a bar, and the entrance to the VIP section.
Walking past a second bouncer they entered a smaller version of the clubs main area. A handful of people gyrated on the small dance floor in the corner and some women who were clearly working hung out next to the bar. Around a corner were several booths that gave patrons a false sense of privacy. It was in the farthest back of these that they found the others.
"Hey, how'd it go?" Gideon sat up from his relaxed slouch as they approached.
"Nada. Quiet as a Monastery out there." Dante said as he leaned against the end of a booth. "Been here long?"
"'Bout an hour." Gideon gave Dante a sly grin. "Don't worry buddy. No one would dare start without you."
"Aw shucks, you didn't have to wait. I only would have made your lives a living hell for a couple decades, tops." Dante grinned. "But now that I'm here..."
Dante turned to check out the females by the bar, who in turn began turning and posing to show off all their best assets to the warriors.
"I do believe I am feeling a little peckish." Dante murmured as he glued his eyes to the petite redhead. "Anyone want to join?"
Dante was already strolling away as Quinn jumped up with a "Yeah, I'm in" and followed. Ash looked at John, who was looking at the females and then around the club and then to Dante and Quinn who were already chatting up their prospective partners.
"Um, does he mean... here? W...what about them... on the dance floor? They can see... is that... I mean..." John looked like he was about to have an aneurism when Gideon saved him.
"Nah not out here" he chuckled as he got up to follow the others. "There's a private room in the back. But don't worry about it, there's no hurry or anything. Have another drink and think about it." Gideon winked at the kid as he made a beeline for the blonde.
"Y...yeah, another drink sounds good." John stammered.
Ash sighed. He wasn't surprised, but he had been hopeful. John would need to start feeding from their own kind sooner or later. Otherwise Ash would never feel comfortable putting him out in the field. The kid just wouldn't be strong enough to take on a Rogue in full bloodlust. If John had been accepted into a clan, he could have found a girlfriend to share feedings with. But being in the Order... well relationships were few and far between due to the distance that had grown between them and the clans they worked to protect.
"John, you know you don't have to... come here, right? Yes we want you to be as strong as possible, but this isn't for everyone and we understand that. If this makes you uncomfortable, don't worry about it, okay?"
The kid self consciously rubbed his neck.
"I... it's okay. I can do it... I think..." he trailed off.
"Seriously John, you don't have to. And its nothing to be embarrassed about. Everybody here has issues they are dealing with. For Gid it's control, Nathaniel trust, Hunter... well, people in general are an issue for him." Ash couldn't stop himself from wincing as he thought about the rage filled warrior. "Even Dante has shit going on. The point is, no one is going to think less of you. Hell, I don't feed here."
John's eyes met his, bright with hope.
"Nope. Never have and doubt I ever will. Look, we'll figure something else out. You've still got a couple months training before I will even consider sending you and Quinn out into the field. And in the meantime, the Johnsons both like you very much and are more than happy to continue being your Providers. Okay?"
"Okay. Yeah, thanks." the kid said with a little more confidence.
"Come on then, let's get out of here. Nathaniel said something about baking a coffee cake and if we don't get to it before Gideon we won't get any." Ash joked as he led John out of the club, but gave an inward sigh of relief as the topic was dropped. He didn't know what he would say if the kid asked him who Ash fed from. Ash had his own issues, like the load of secrets that were becoming more and more difficult to carry.
Best. Night. Ever.
Quinn strolled the empty streets of Accention Bay like he was walking on cloud nine. The power from the blood he had drunk seemed to energize every cell in his body. So THATS what the big deal was about. And the way... Gideon had... kinda sorta explained the sitch to him and John, that at the club were those of our kind that you could buy sex and blood from. The local clan wasn't family based like Quinns. They were made up of loners and outcasts and, basically those who didn't want to follow the rigid conforms of the families. Quinns kinda people!
That's all Gid had said though, so getting to the club Quinn had kept his eyes open, checking the place, and the people, out. The VIP section was laid out in the shape of an L, with the dance floor, tables and bar lined up along the longest wall and then an area with several booths around a corner. The decor was red and grey, metal and leather and glass. Quinn approved.
He spotted the black haired beauty who's name he later found out was Devina as soon as he walked in. So when Dante had headed for the redhead Quinn hadn't wasted any time going to her and introducing himself. He had no clue how any of it worked. Should he talk price now? Negotiate over what they would do? Luckily Devina took charge asking if he was new to the Order and then saying "cool we'll just put it on the Orders tab then", grabbed his hand and led him after Dante and Gideon who were already disappearing through a door next to the VIP entrance.
Quinn only had a second where he thought the door would lead to a hall with private rooms off of it before he was through it and saw it wasn't a hall at all. It was a room, and not a very big one. There was bench seating against the walls with a couple side tables, and that was it.
And apparently that was all that was needed. Quinn just missed stepping on Dante's discarded shirt on the floor. His two new friends were already sliding their pants off, revealing they didn't believe in underwear either, before Devina even had Quinn up against the wall and was sliding his jacket off his shoulders.
He pinned his eyes to Devina as guilt washed through him. D and Gid didn't know Quinn was bi. It hadn't come up and he hadn't thought to mention it, thinking it was no big deal himself. But then he hadn't ever imagined a situation like this. They may not have invited him along if they had known. Shit. He wasn't about to leave now though, not with Devina's hand stroking his already rock hard cock through his leathers while ordering him to remove his shirt "right now". He just wouldn't look at the others. Yeah, as long as I don't look it will be cool...
Someone moaned. He looked. Shit. The redhead was on her knees between Dante's wide spread legs, her hand grasping his shaft as her tongue flicked around the head. The warriors head fell back with another moan as her little pink tongue stroked the slit. Quinn quickly looked away, only to have his eyes land on Gideon. His blonde was crawling up into his lap and it was clear he was going straight to the vein. Quinn was only vaguely aware of his own pants being tugged down as Gideon licked the side of his girls neck a few times then bared his shiny white fangs.
Devina sheathed his shaft with her soft, plump lips just as Gideon sheathed his fangs in the blondes neck. This time it was Quinns head falling back with a moan. And this time he couldn't tear his eyes away. Gid was ripping apart silky pink undies, his fingers finding the wet folds revealed and stroking. The girl seemed to be desperate to thrust her ass as high as possible, sliding her legs even farther apart so the whole room could see what Gid was doing to her, which at this point was sliding a finger into her wet depths.
Movement had Quinn looking sideways. Dante had his redhead under him now, was already inside her, the muscles of his thighs and ass rippling with each thrust. A moment of sanity, and with it shame at his own weakness, hit him as Devina's mouth released his cock and worked its way up his body licking and kissing. I shouldn't be watching damn it! He looked quickly to Dante's face, to make sure he hadn't been caught. Dante wasn't looking his way. Thank God. Dante was... watching Gid? He is! Gid had finished feeding and now held the girl up with one hand while the other rubbed the head of his shaft against her slick folds.
Quinn forced his eyes up... and met Gideons. Lids heavy with pleasure he stared back at Quinn. And to his surprise and relief there was no anger there, just excitement and... anticipation? Gids eyes flicked over to D for a second. Quinn looked over and saw the warrior was now looking at him too, like he was waiting for Quinn to do something? But what? Again Devina came to his rescue. Sitting down on the end of a bench she pulled Quinn to his knees between her legs and flipped her long black hair away from one side of her neck. Ah. My turn to entertain. No problem. The knowledge that these two warriors wanted to watch him and be watched by him nearly pushed Quinn over the edge. With a few deep breaths he got control again and happily obliged his friends. As Quinn plunged both his shaft and fangs into Devina at the same time, Dante latched his mouth to his redheads neck and Gid lowered his girl onto himself with a hiss of pleasure.
That was about all Quinn remembered for awhile. Devina's blood hit him like a runaway freight train. He didn't last long, he knew that. The intense pleasure was unlike anything he had felt before and quickly overwhelmed him. But he wasn't embarrassed about his lack of staying power. He felt too damn good! He had made sure Devina was well taken care of though, giving his own lips and tongue a workout. Add to that the complete lack of awkwardness in the room afterwards and Quinn couldn't have wiped the grin off his face if he wanted too. Dante had teased him about that, but it was all good natured.
The three of them had left the room to find Ash and John had left. No surprise John had bailed. And Quinn didn't know how he would have felt with the boss in the room. Most of all he wondered if Nathaniel ever came to the club... When the bartender called closing time an hour later Quinn was still too amped up to go back to the compound right away. He knew his roommate would be feeling awkward about bailing and Quinn walking in with a silly grin plastered to his face wouldn't help the sitch. So he had left the other two to take a short walk by himself and calm down a little.
So this is what it feels like to be accepted, wanted by the people around you. Damn. If I had known this is what I have been missing all these years... He knew he wouldn't have made it. Living surrounded by people who wished he wasn't there was hard enough. To have done so with the knowledge of how good it felt to know someone wanted you would have killed him. His smile grew wide again. His lingering fears of a month ago about joining the Order were long gone. He knew he was wanted here. He fit in. Even Hunter, who didn't like anyone, had stopped trying to intimidate him. Which Quinn knew was huge. Family. The word was starting to take on a new meaning at last.
Taking one last deep, calming breath Quinn looked around for a private place to fade back to the compound. An alley just ahead seemed a good bet so he quickened his pace and turned the corner...
The first thing to alert him to something wrong was the strong smell of blood that hit him. Movement drew his eyes down to the pavement near a stack of crates. Quinns eyes seemed to take forever to adjust to the dark as he made out two shapes, one crouched over another. His brain caught up with his eyes in an instant.
Crazed eyes turned on Quinn. Blood dripped from its bared teeth as an angry growl filled the alley.
Shit! Shit! This wasn't the way it was supposed to happen! He was supposed to be with one of the experienced warriors the first time he faced a Rogue! Acheron had forbidden John and him from engaging with a Rogue until he deemed them ready, and he hadn't yet. So what the fuck was he supposed to do here? The victim could still be alive, he couldn't just walk away!
Quinn made his decision. If the victim was dead he would do as he had been told and return to the compound as quickly as possible and report the attack. If the victim was alive he would fight to get them safely away. Which meant first things first, he needed to get the dagger that was sheathed in his custom made boots into his hand.
So far the Rogue seemed to be content to guard its prey, so Quinn slowly reached down and worked his pant leg up over the dagger. As he grasped the hilt he dared a quick look down at the victim. It was a woman. He could see her neck had been savagely mauled, blood already creating a dark halo around her head. It didn't look good for her. He... Quinn looked into the womans empty, staring eyes... and froze. She was dead. He had never seen anyone dead before. She was so... still. Her eyes... he couldn't look away...
Quinn went flying backwards as pain suddenly shot through his arm and the Rogue tried to push him to the ground. Instincts and training clicked on. He shoved back and was surprised when the Rogue hit the boxes twelve feet away. Devina's blood really had given him a boost! The Rogue shook it off though and came right back at him. Quinn let his training take over.
It was over quicker than he could have imagined. The Rogue was strong but uncoordinated, flailing about as he tried to grab Quinn and no doubt try and pull him to the ground. It was almost too easy to dart in under an arm swipe and plunge the dagger into its heart.
Quinn began counting as the Rogue looked down in surprise at the blade piercing its chest. When he got to three a massive convulsion shook the leeches body and Quinn removed the dagger. The poison that coated the blade was doing its job, shutting down one organ at a time... permanently.
As the Rogue fell to the ground Quinn stepped back, sucking in a shuddering breath. I did it. Fuck, I actually did it! Excitement and worry washed over him at the same time. He should have faded out of there the second he knew the woman was dead. But holy fuck, he did it! His first kill and he had been all by himself! He knew he would catch flack, but surely this would show them he could handle himself. They would see they hadn't made a mistake bringing him into the Order. Quinn felt like he truly belonged with them, as a warrior. And just like that his big, dumbass grin was back.
Right. Need to get back to the compound and report in. But first he had to search the Rogue for any ID. Kill, look for ID, report. As he bent down to sheath his dagger he became aware of his throbbing arm again. Looking down... Shit! The little fucker bit me! No longer in quite so jovial a mood, Quinn yanked a wallet out of a jeans pocket. He held up the drivers license he found to check the photo against the body. It was a match. He...
Quinns emotions took another turn as he looked between the Rogue and the date of birth on the drivers license. Sixteen. He was just a kid! Fuck. He was Rogue though, he gave in to the bloodlust. He... but... he could have been an orphan. This young he probably was. He wouldn't have known what was happening to him, what to do or where to find help. Shit. Quinn ran a shaky hand over his mouth. This could have been John.
Confusion and uncertainty added themselves to the roster of emotions he had felt in the last fifteen minutes. He couldn't think about this right now, he needed to report in. Taking a few deep breaths he faded back to the compound. His arm had begun to itch, which meant it was beginning to heal. Which meant he needed to get it looked at quickly just in case any of his shirt was in the wound. Not good to have your own flesh heal over foreign objects.
"Quinn! What happened?" Ash came running down the hall towards him.
"Rogue. I... I'm sorry." All Quinns earlier confidence was gone. "He was still with a victim, feeding. I didn't know if she was dead or not, I couldn't just leave her..."
"Its okay. Lets just get you to medical, then we can talk." Ash put one arm around Quinn while flipping open his cel phone with the other hand. "Gid, get to medical now, Quinns been hurt."
Quinn told them what had happened as Gideon cleaned and bandaged the bite on his arm. The kid had torn him up worse than he had known. Kid... Rogue. Shit. He needed to stop thinking like that. Whoever that kid had been, Quinn knew the sane, rational part of him was long gone, leaving only a crazed, bloodthirsty animal who would tear through his own family without blinking. He had done the right thing, he knew that. But his face, so peaceful, so young in death. Quinn knew he was going to be haunted by that face for a long time.
"I know your worried, about the rules and all, but don't. You did the right thing. There was no way we could have predicted you walking into a situation like that. None of us could have walked away not knowing if she was alive or not." Ash said in a gentle voice that somehow made Quinn feel even worse. "Nathaniel and I will take care of clean up."
"Yeah," Gideon piped in. "Your first kill! You've eared the right to sit back and relax!" Quinn hoped his friend didn't notice him cringe.
Etienne hesitated at the door to the balcony. He hated giving the boss bad news. It never went well for him even if it wasn't his fault. For the millionth time in the last eighteen years he wondered how he'd ended up here, the right hand man to a deranged Vampire. Oh yeah. It had taken a few years, but he now knew without question that the boss was totally unhinged. And, unfortunately, deadly. Otherwise he would have walked a long time ago.
But, there was no getting out of this. He was stuck, apparently for eternity, being Mr. White's whipping boy for everyone elses mistakes. He opened the door and stepped out onto the balcony.
"Report" Mr. White said in a bored tone, not bothering to even turn around.
"The last group arrived at the barracks a couple hours ago, sir. We... lost one. He slipped away while they were being transferred to the bus." Etienne held his breath.
"And the herd?"
Etienne grimaced. "Seven more were collected along the way, bringing the total to fifty-one. Sir, about the one that got away..."
"Not important. The Order will have no doubt taken care of him. We have far more important matters to attend. All the pieces are now in place. I am ready to put the end game into play."
And this time the mighty Acheron and his pathetic Order of the Blood Dagger will not escape me.