The voice was but an echo, softer than a lover's whisper in his ear; but Gabriel instinctively knew to whom it belonged. Unable to resist the silent call, he turned to face its owner. He was careful to keep his slate eyes blank as he eyed her, though the corner of his mouth twitched slightly. The darkness at this hour was near absolute, but neither of them had any trouble seeing the other. There was not a breath of wind in the alley, Gabriel noted. Just another of the myriad effects she had on her surroundings. With some effort, he relaxed his slender frame and allowed his eyes to flick past her to the street. Also deserted, as far as he could tell - and then he felt it; that subtle pressure in his temples as she realigned his eyeballs so that he was looking where she wanted him to look. Their eyes locked.

"Gabriel," she repeated. Slowly, he dropped to one knee and bowed from the neck, as both of them knew was his duty. The ghost of a smile flitted across her pale features, then she spoke again. "We hunt."

Gabriel suppressed a start. That wasn't what he had expected to hear - he was her favoured assassin, not her favoured hunting partner. Unless... but he blotted out that thought before she could see it. He stood as she leapt the five metres to the nearest roof, her lithe form flying upwards almost effortlessly. Grabbing hold of the rusted fire escape, he launched himself up, past the dingy windows and crumbly brick wall, to land soundlessly beside her on the cement. He turned to look at her. They were of roughly the same height, just shy of six feet, and were of similar - slender - build. No human would know, to look at her, that she was hundreds of years older than he - her pale skin still had the same youthful sheen as his. She had ruled him for the better part of a century; she was the one who had initiated his unlife, and as such, he was bound inextricably to her. Not that she was a demanding mistress, as he knew some could be, but there was always tension between them. Glancing at her face, he was surprised to see her grin impishly at him.

"Run with me," she said, and was off, leaping from roof to roof, dashing along gutters, her black mane flowing behind her. Gabriel paused a moment in thought, then followed, catching up to her within the span of two blocks. They ran together, soundlessly, for several kilometres. The city around them was dead - only the occasional streetlight betrayed the presence of any life at all; the buildings were abandoned and decrepit. The moon hid behind dark, rolling clouds, lending an eerie quality to the ethereal orange glow of the streetlights.

As they approached one of the slum districts surrounding the downtown area, signs of habitation began to appear. Traffic lights; the occasional car, and even - Gabriel's ears picked up a faint sound, then, and he stopped. She heard it as well, and moved to stand beside him. A faint slurping noise, from down below in a nearby alley. As one, the pair leapt to the next building. The sound was definitely coming from the alley below them, and, by the car parked illegally just in front of it, Gabriel had a fair idea of what the sound was. An audible groan from below clinched it. Moving over to the edge of the roof, the pair peered down into the gloom.

A young blonde woman was on her knees in front of a tall, well-built man. His hands were on the sides of her head, and Gabriel heard him moan again as he bucked his hips. The woman had her hands on his buttocks, and, as Gabriel watched, she slipped two fingers into the pocket of his jeans and extracted a plump wallet. Gabriel smirked, and glanced across to his mistress.

"You can use my name, you know," she remarked quietly, without turning. "It's no disrespect."

Her name. Alyssa. Gabriel had never had occasion to use it, and it wasn't in his thoughts when he thought of her.

"Very well - Alyssa," he said softly. She stood, and, stepping over the edge, dropped down to land, without so much as a scuff of her boots, behind the man in the alley. Gabriel followed suit, making sure to jump while the man's eyes were closed, and landing behind the girl. The man was grunting rhythmically now, and the woman slurping on his shaft had begun to squeeze his balls as if to force an orgasm out of him so she could be on her way. Then his cock slid out of her mouth with a light pop, and she looked up in confusion in time to see Alyssa spin him around single-handedly and pull him to her by the shoulders. Gabriel felt the girl start when he grasped her shoulder firmly, and lifted her easily by the armpits, the delicious scent of her fear washing over him. Glancing at Alyssa, he saw her messily slurping at her victim's neck as gouts of blood spurted from it, the sound a grim parody of the one that had lured them here. Gabriel pinned the girl against the alley wall, and watched her eyes widen as she saw his fangs lengthening with hunger. Covering her mouth with one hand, he pierced her jugular and felt raw adrenaline course through him as the first drop of her blood passed his lips. He was caught up in the moment as he drank all he could of her, uncontrolled hunger coursing through him.

Gabriel felt the girl's heart flutter, then stop. Letting the husk of her body drop as he wiped his mouth, he turned to see Alyssa watching him. Silhouetted by the alley's exit, he couldn't help but admire her slender form as she moved slowly toward him.

"You were hungry," she said. It was a statement, not a question. "You're still hungry." Gabriel nodded slightly. His adrenaline rush was fading, but, had his heart still been beating, it would have been racing. "I'm still hungry," Alyssa continued, "and you're going to let me drink." Gabriel's mind reeled as he processed what she had just said. Her will bound him, though, and he obediently stepped away from the corpse at his feet and tilted his head back. He started as he felt her fingers' feathery caress on his neck, but found himself unable to move, not even when her tongue slipped between her lips and she gently licked and kissed the skin above his jugular. Gabriel was strangely aroused by the intimacy of the moment, and surprised that Alyssa wanted him to share himself in this way. No one had ever asked this of him.

All thought stopped for him, though, when she bit into his neck and began to drink. It was as if his pleasure/pain receptors had short-circuited, or as if he had died a mortal and gone to both heaven and hell simultaneously. He felt a renewed surge of adrenaline as she drank from him, and, dimly, heard himself moaning aloud as she sucked the blood from his torn throat. Alyssa stepped into him and he moved back, feeling her press him against the wall, her hands gently holding his head back as she drank - not that Gabriel was struggling. On the contrary, his body was suffused with an unearthly warmth, numbing the pain but intensifying the pleasure; his thought process slowed to a crawl, then stopped entirely as he reveled in the moment.

But entirely too soon, that moment passed. Alyssa released him, and his innate healing abilities took over: the gash in his throat closed, the scar tissue turning pink, then returning to its usual pale hue. Gabriel sagged back against the wall, sapped of his strength. Alyssa eyed him, and smiled.

"You've never done that before."

"No," panted Gabriel, as he fought to stand on his own. "But thank you."

"You'll be hungrier now. Let's find a second course." The words came from above Gabriel's head, and he realized with some shock that Alyssa was already back on the roof. Feeling somewhat less enervated, he made it to the roof in two jumps, pausing midway on the fire escape to rest.

"I know you're tired," said Alyssa, "but resting doesn't make it better. You have to feed. We probably won't have to go far to find another pair like the last one." With that, she was off across the rooftops again. Gabriel noticed that her pace was somewhat slower this time, to accommodate. She was right, though - barely two minutes passed before, over the steadily increasing drone of late-night traffic, their keen ears picked up the sounds of quiet conversation emanating from an alley below. He halted, panting.

"I suppose we could have searched the buildings for bums rather than running," Alyssa remarked, pulling up beside him, "but I like to run."

"Alyssa," Gabriel said between pants, "you're a bitch." She laughed in response, and he smiled. Down in the alley, a short Asian woman was handing a wad of bills to a thin black man in exchange for a small bag of white powder. Gabriel didn't care one way or the other what was going on down there; hunger gnawed at him like a cat tearing at his insides. Alyssa noticed his expression and gestured downward. Together, they dropped down to street level as before; one on each side of the human pair. Gabriel grabbed the man and tore his throat open without even noticing the fist he caught in the jaw. He drank hungrily, draining his victim faster than he would have believed possible, and, when the man's flailing stopped, he spun, as if expecting to find further prey. Rather than dulling the edge of his hunger, feeding had intensified it. Alyssa, however, was drinking more slowly; she seemed to almost enjoy her petite victim's aimless thrashing. Gabriel stalked toward them, barely keeping a handle on his hunger. As he approached, Alyssa looked up from her meal, and her bloodstained lips spread into a smile. She tossed the woman aside and wiped her mouth, paying no heed to her victim's hapless gurgling.

"Drink," she said, and tilted her head back. With a feral grin, Gabriel grasped her neck in both hands and bit into it. The first drop of her blood passed his lips and she moaned, wrapping her arms around his waist and pressing him to her. As their bodies meshed together, her breasts pushed against his chest and his growing erection hard against her crotch, both lost themselves completely. Gabriel grabbed the collar of her bodysuit and ripped it down and off her without missing a gulp from her bleeding throat. Alyssa instinctively ripped her hands apart, tearing his pants clean off, and they stepped apart momentarily to let the fabric fall away.

Their eyes locked; there was no need for words between them now. She put her hands on his neck and lifted both of her legs off the ground as Gabriel held her by her thighs. She wrapped her legs around him as he bent his head down and lapped at the blood still flowing freely from her throat. As her legs clenched tight around him, Gabriel's throbbing shaft slid effortlessly into her, and they groaned in unison. He held her in place as she began to buck her hips, and drank greedily, piercing her throat again with his fangs when it started to heal. Gabriel felt as if nothing could slake his thirst; that this flow of crimson blood would continue well into forever.

For them, the outside world ceased to exist; the blood pounding in Gabriel's skull drowned out the feeble noises of the city's nightlife. Neither one of them was even aware of anything besides the other - amidst the pair's frenzied coupling, everything dissolved in a sea of blood.

There was a point, then, when time ceased altogether; they topped the crest of their orgasm as one and held onto it for as long as they could. Neither of them moved save for the lapping of Gabriel's tongue, claiming every drop of blood it could. Gabriel felt Alyssa shudder against him then, her torn neck moving against his mouth as he drank. But he was barely conscious of it - he only knew that, while he was physically satisfied, his hunger was far from sated. He felt revived; invigorated. A dim part of the remnants of Gabriel's conscious mind noted that Alyssa was pushing against him now, trying to extricate herself from his grip - but she was so weak from her gift to him that he didn't notice. Her blood pounded in his veins and head, preventing any coherence from returning. Gabriel drank, and drank, and drank - until there was no more.

When her bleeding finally halted, it was not due to Alyssa's innate healing abilities. Sanity made an ignominious entrance into Gabriel's addled brain, and he became aware that the body he held so firmly in his grasp was far too still. Starting, he let go and Alyssa's corpse hit the alley floor with a dull thud. She was pale, paler than he had ever seen her, and, as he watched in horror, her body gradually turned a uniform shade of grey. Reaching out, Gabriel's hand brushed her shoulder... and she crumbled. Moments later, a pile of ash was all that remained.

The sounds of the city began to creep into his consciousness. More cars, now; the clouds had lifted, and the moon was sinking. He heart faint scuffing sounds; small animals scavenging what they could from the nearest dumpster, probably.

Gabriel bowed his head over the Alyssa's remains, closing his eyes. He lifted a hand, touched the ash with a finger - the beginnings of an apology - but then he felt a new sensation come over him, washing the beginnings of regret and remorse away. Something intangible, but incontrovertible; something beautiful and magical. Something he hadn't felt in over half a century.

He paused momentarily, reveling in it; feeling the hot flush of joy it sent surging through him.

Without so much as a second glance at the Alyssa's ashes, he leapt and was gone.


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