tagNonHumanGifting Night

Gifting Night

bydeathlynx©

Katherine jogged into the bedroom, running late as usual. Her hair fluttered across her peripheral vision distracting her, almost enough to cause her to turn and look for an intruder. Dammit! Gotta get used to that. As she stopped in front of the full-length mirror, she decided she needed to get used to the whole look. She could barely believe the woman staring back at her was real.

At five foot seven, she had always know she had great legs, but the slits running up the sides of the very tight, forest green, dress displayed every curve exotically. The effect was only enhanced by the two inch, black, stiletto heels. The dress hugged her hips, chest, and waist, defining an hourglass figure she had always thought had a little too much in the middle. Despite her best attempts to believe otherwise, the dress proved the illusion false. She was forced to accept that having a slight gut wasn't necessarily the end of the world.

In addition to the dress, her hair was pulled back and styled. Now, red ringlets spilled artfully out of select locations of her tightly controlled hairdo. It had been one of those ringlets which had distracted her. She was used to her hair being black, so the flash of such a bright color was unnerving. Her hair and dress weren't the only oddities, however. Tonight she wore rouge, eyeliner, mascara, bright red, matte, lipstick and even a tasteful, if subtle, green eyeshadow.

This was certainly not the Katherine Montana everyone else knew. Her friends and coworkers would see her in far more comfortable clothes. If anyone had been asked to guess her favorite color none would have suspected the deep green she now wore. Based on her outfits, the answer would have been a unanimous 'black.' She had to shop around to find the perfect dress for tonight, especially on Halloween when she would normally look like just another 'Goth.' She hated the comparison. Just because she was most comfortable wearing black and baggy did not mean she associated with the lifestyle.

Of course, the reason for all of the fuss would be another strike against her. She was fascinated by vampires, not the maudlin, Anne Rice, crap that's all the rage in the media, but rather the myths and truths behind real vampires. Not only had she confirmed that vampires were real but had studied them enough to know that tonight was 'Gifting Night,' the one night, about every two decades, when tradition allowed them to pass their 'Gift' along to another generation. She needed to be noticed tonight if she was to become one of them.

When she rushed out the door, she found the cab waiting for her. She could have driven herself, she wasn't planning on drinking too much, but she would rather not have to worry about parking, or what to do with her car if she was chosen. When, not if, I get chosen. She constantly had to remind herself that confidence was the key to success. While that was good advice under any circumstances it was especially true when dealing with a species as empathic as vampires. She had even considered renting a limo but figured that to be dishonest ~not to mention pretentious~ and besides, it shared many of the same problems as driving herself.

She gave the driver the name of the first club on her list, then sat back to review what she knew about her elusive prey. First and foremost, vampires did not drink blood. It was true that they fed off of people, and other animals. They could even kill by feeding too much or too frequently. Rather than drinking a person's blood, however, they siphoned off their life force. Some occult scientists had theorized it was the bio-electric field surrounding living beings but they had yet to find a method of testing this. Because the life force was connected to a person's aura it granted the vampires a fair degree of insight into their nature, not only of a person's emotions but of his or her very personality.

"Dhase," they called themselves. If the driver heard her he didn't react. Did that mean he knew what it meant, or was he simply used to people muttering indecipherable phrases in his back seat? It was a name given to them by a people long dead from the memory of mankind. Katherine liked the sound of it. Dhase, dah-say, dhase. Almost sounds french, even if it is spelled all wrong.

Katherine knew she was looking for a couple. The Dhase maintained a symbiotic relationship between the young and old. While only the elders were capable of passing along the gift, they lacked the requisite nearness to humanity. As they age, it is said, they slowly lose the capacity for true emotion as they learn to feed less and less. They turn to the newly made for such understanding and to teach them of the modern world, keep them from becoming anachronistic.

The cab stopped at the corner. She paid the driver, complete with a decent tip. She passed the various people, escaping the press of bodies for fresh air, on her way to the door. The doorman's eyebrows raised slightly as he waved her past, a reaction she was familiar with only from afar. He wondered what someone like her was doing there and if he had a shot at her. He had no idea who she was, the very same regular he chatted with as she escaped the press of bodies. She laughed lightly, her confidence gaining with such a small blessing. Uncomfortable or not, the new look certainly attracted attention she could be comfortable with.

Katherine had been right, almost everyone else at the club was in costume. She stood out like a blazing star amid a cloudy sky. She wandered through the crowd to the bar. What should I look for? She expected they would either be dressed normally, as if the night were unimportant, or else they would play ironic this Halloween, dressing the very media image of a vampire. Once that would have been Lugosi and Schreck, these days it was Cruise and Boreanaz. She simply didn't know what to look for, then again it didn't matter. They would choose her, for who she was, or she would lose her chance. The next Gifting Night wasn't for another nineteen years, the next blue-moon Halloween.

She kept to her schedule, moving from club to club. She ordered one drink, the minimum at some of the establishments, and cruised the floor. At some she would dance, at others she felt more comfortable in a side room. She was spending a fortune, letting herself be seen, but it was worth it. She realized, even if no Dhase saw her all night at least she'd enjoyed herself. Men of all ages and descriptions came up to her; offering their best pick-up lines, to buy her a drink, or simply for conversation. Occasionally men approached her, when she went out, but never with this level of determination.

She was laughing and carrying on with a small group of strangers when two young men appeared at the edge of the group. Katherine had felt something different about the club from the moment she walked in, as if eyes were following her constantly, even where none could possibly follow (like the bathroom). Within a minute of their approach, the group she had been with seemed to amicably dissolve, as if the men's desire for solitude took precedence over the group dynamic.

"We could not help but notice you." They wore simple business suits, one in black the other in a deep gray. Both had a white shirt and tie to match the suits and were well built, but without being overly muscular. Likely they worked out at a gym. The speaker had on a black suit and had dark, short-cut hair and brown eyes. The other had green eyes and wavy, blond, hair slightly past his shoulder. Both men had scruff breads that looked as if they hadn't shaved in a couple of days, giving them a roguish, almost cliched, look. There seemed to be nothing special about either man, but the sensation of being watched increased dramatically.

"Thank you. If that was intended as a compliment, I mean."

"Oh, it most certainly was!" The lighter of the two seemed slightly amused at the possibility that there could be anything but compliment to their attention. "You're very beautiful, and have quite a way with crowds."

She cocked her head slightly and raised her eyebrows. It was a practiced expression rather than a natural one, but the men didn't seem to notice, or if they did they didn't care. "Oh?"

"What my friend means is that you seem very comfortable meeting new people. I'm Bill and this, here, is Nathan." He offered his hand and Nathan quickly followed.

She took their hands lightly, in a manner more reminiscent of medieval times. Bill smiled, shifting his hand, so as not to touch her palm, and lifted it to within inches of his mouth before bringing it down once more and releasing it. "I'm Katherine." Nathan took her hand more casually and kissed her knuckles. Bill knew the proper method. If Nathan did, he had intentionally treated her with a great deal of discourtesy. More likely he simply didn't know the proper manner, an assumption confirmed as Bill rolled his eyes at Nathan. "It's a pleasure to meet you both."

Bill continued speaking for the both of them. She sensed he was the elder of the two, he certainly seemed the wiser and better spoken. "We were about to go have dinner and wondered if you would care to join us?"

Katherine wasn't sure. It was unusual for men to move in pairs, as these two were, too afraid of being labeled as 'gay.' It was enough to set them apart from a crowd, to be sure, but was it enough to convince her they were Dhase? The unseen 'attention' seemed to double suddenly, deciding her. "I would love to." The invisible presence faded back to nominal levels.

Nathan grinned stupidly. Bill noticed and rolled his eyes once more, smiling conspiratorially at her. The three wove their way through the crowd, to the door. Crossing through the portal felt like stepping out of a heated pool. The air grew suddenly cooler and less confined. Katherine felt she could breath easier, the effect being much more dramatic after leaving the watching eyes. The sudden disappearance of the sensation made her nervous. Shouldn't she still feel it?

Nathan was a few steps ahead. Bill kept back slightly, with Katherine, and was plying her with small talk when he stopped suddenly. He watched Nathan in confusion as he turned into the alley next to the club. "Nathan? Weren't we going to dinner ?" She didn't know why the emphasis on that word made her uncomfortable, but it certainly didn't feel right. "Come on," Bill took a hold of her elbow and guided her, "we should see what he's up to." If his grip was tight, there was obvious concern, in his voice and manner, for his friend.

Nathan was standing still, slightly farther down the alley and facing away from the two. Bill moved forward. "Look, if you want to do it here that's fine with me, but we'll never be able to come back here to hunt. Too many others saw us leave with her." Katherine didn't like the sound of that. Her chest began to tighten with panic. This was the side of being beautiful and noticed that she hadn't considered. Bill's hand moved to his belt. In a moment he had it off and was looping it, one-handed, into some form of binding.

"I believe," the bored alto voice floated down the alley, "she was looking for us, not you." Bill looked up, past Nathan, to see what had so enthralled his coconspirator. Standing about halfway down the alley was a stunning brunette, wearing a deep purple cocktail dress of similar design to Katherine's. She held her barely five foot form high, as if she were standing in a reception hall rather than a garbage-strewn alley.

The statement seemed to revitalize Nathan. "Get your own piece of ass. She's ours!"

The stunning woman shook her head. "She is no one's, but her own. So I would suggest you release her and let her choose her own direction; to us, with you, or away." The rich baritone voice drew everyone's attention from the shining woman to the man standing by her side.

Looming might have been a better way to describe the man. At six feet he wasn't any taller than Bill or Nathan and his shoulders, squared from crossed arms, were only slightly broader, but standing next to the slender, and short, woman he seemed huge. He was dressed in a tuxedo, although it sat more uncomfortably on him than the dress did on the woman. A goatee made his age impossible to estimate. In addition, both seemed to exude a presence that filled the alley. It was the feeling from the club, made manifest.

Nathan, oblivious to their menace, stepped forward and pulled a buck knife from his suit, unfolding it slowly and with precision. "Maybe I should cut you up and take both of the girls. Bill's not picky, but I like brunettes so much better."

The woman smirked slightly but the man burst out laughing. The man's palpable aura seemed to pulse with each bellowed laugh. Bill's eyes narrowed but Nathan, as usual, was oblivious. He charged ahead, the blade waved back and forth as he ran. The man sighed but otherwise stood his ground unmoved. The woman turned towards the man, looked up at him calmly before she walked backwards, towards the one of the buildings defining the alley. She was clearing space for him to fight. A single of the man's eyebrows raised as he glanced at his companion and a smirk began to form.

Nathan was there. Bill clutched Katherine's elbow tighter, painfully, as he watched his partner's charge. It was over in a moment. The man moved in a blur as Nathan thrust his knife straight for the man's throat. The man's long ponytail seemed to float over his shoulder as he turned, feet planted still. His left hand rose to catch Nathan's wrist almost negligently while his right shifted outward slightly for balance. The knife dropped from nerveless hands a second before the wrist shattered. With a casual flick Nathan soared back ten feet to land, with an audible crack, against the wall near the woman.

Nathan staggered to his feet, clutching his pulped wrist with his good hand. He stood and glared at the man as fury blazed in his eyes. Bill took off, seeking escape in the end of the alley away from the inhumanly strong man. Nathan, senseless with rage, pulled a large knife from a sheath concealed by his coat. He lunged, wrapped the arm with a damaged wrist around the woman to pull her close, and held the knife to her throat. "Back off or I give the bitch a second mouth!" The man seemed unconcerned, the woman unsurprised.

Fascinated, Katherine slowly walked towards them. Had Nathan paid any attention to his hostage, he would have seen her hands reach for his. Likely, he wouldn't have cared, even if he noticed. Her hands crossed, each grabbing the opposite wrist of her captor. Nathan's eyes widened in pain as her grip exceeded the much larger man's. Now both wrists were useless. Discontent with her slight retribution, she spun under her crossed arms to face him. Wordlessly she stared, their eyes locked. Close enough now to see the three clearly, Katherine shuddered at the woman's eyes, utterly devoid of emotion.

Nathan's hands dropped to his sides. He stared vacantly ahead while her hands raised to his cheeks. Obedient to her silent commands, he bent forward as she tilted her head up to meet his lips. There was no passion in the kiss, just locked flesh. After a half a minute Nathan's arms dropped to dangle loosely. After a full minute his knees buckled and he hung from her grip. The pressure in the air seemed to grow slowly over the span of that minute until it filled Katherine's lungs. Her heart raced in excitement. She had found the Dhase.

The woman discarded the corpse and turned towards Katherine. Silken brown hair spilled across her shoulders and down her back. Her face was flawless in its symmetry, smooth and tanned, and looked no older than twenty. Only her eyes betrayed her for something other than human. Although they looked normal, the complete lack of emotion would have put the most jaded of assassins to shame. "You were looking for us." It was a statement rather than a question.

Katherine did not know how to react. From everything she had learned the younger, obviously the man, should have approached and seduced her, had the two chosen to bequeath their Gift. Confronted in such a manner, Katherine didn't know if she should respond with pride or humbly. Knowing their empathic nature she decided to act as naturally as she could, given the unexpected circumstances. "You are Dhase. Tonight is the Gifting Night. I had hoped you would choose me." Her voice held no pride, no humility, just simple honesty.

The woman remained still as a statue as she regarded Katherine. The man passed by Katherine to stand by the woman and join his inspection to hers. I didn't hear him at all! They turned to look at each other, and while her face remained unchanged his gained an expression of concentration. Finally he nodded and turned back to regard her.

"You would know that this diverges from our traditional methods then?" Katherine nodded to the man, who smiled in return. "I'm Christopher. Christoph really, but she thinks that sounds to dramatic and cliche. Call me Chris." He extended a hand. When Katherine reached for it he simply shook hers. "This is Daphne. She's my elder, as in, 'respect your elders.'" For the first time, Katherine saw the slightest trace of emotion enter Daphne's expression. It was subtle but it looked like amusement.

"You still have two options." The expression was gone from Daphne once again. "You may come with us, or you may leave."

"I would go with you."

Chris, who had just completed a careful study of her body, grinned at Katherine's pronouncement. With an elaborate bow, he waved towards the opposite end of the alley from where she had entered. She smiled kindly at him, and received a wink in return, before she set off under his direction. Unexpectedly, muscles clenched in response, deep between her hips. He hurried to catch up, placing a hand gently on the small of her back. She looked up in surprise but he was still grinning. As they reached the end of the alley he whispered to her. "I was kinda looking forward to the seduction, but I can't complain when a woman as beautiful as you comes willingly enough to find me." She laughed when he winked again.

He hurried ahead, to stand by the open door of a very refined car. Once more he directed Katherine with a wave. As she settled comfortably in the back seat, he closed the door to hurry around and open the other side for Daphne. The elder slid into the seat with a feline grace that Katherine could only envy. As Chris closed her door and got in the driver's seat Daphne turned, sitting almost diagonally on the long seat, to face Katherine.

"You do not know of the Gifting itself. No one has ever returned from it mortal, and the Dhase do not speak of it, there is no need. It is not as most would expect, thinking of vampires as told in myths. Traditionally it comes upon the fledgling unawares but, as you may be expecting something, I need to disillusion you perhaps."

"The seduction I was looking forward to? Well, it's not just a tradition." Katherine found it so much easier to watch Chris as he tried to talk to her by looking at her in the rear-view mirror. Daphne's dead eyes were unnerving and Katherine thought she truly understood, at last, the mutual benefit Daphne gained from Chris. Chris' expression turned much more serious. "I hope you think I'm hot. This won't work if you don't." Daphne's focus flashed from Katherine to the mirror with a glare.

Katherine's gaze slowly shifted down Christoph's body; his arms, his chest, his legs, his crotch. She felt a warmth ignite deep within as she luxuriated in his body. Daphne's expression softened back to complete neutrality as her gaze shifted back to Katherine. Chris actually blushed as he grinned and concentrated heavily on his driving. Katherine, however, noticed his pants responded to her attention and blushed deeply as she remembered, too late, they were both empaths.

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bydeathlynx© 15 comments/ 32255 views/ 15 favorites

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