missing scene for "Dark Knight: The Second Chapter"story prompt:
] Janette & Alyce Hunter--Janette doesn't like uncontrolled converts in her townrating:
I'm only borrowing them, no money is being made. Ownership lies elsewhere. Forever Knight
was created by Jim Parriott & Barney Cohen.author's note:
written for thegalpalficathon
; a great big thanks to brightknightie
who issued the prompt and who kindly took the time to beta the story. It's a better story for all her advice and thoughts. word count:
October 2008story finished:
November 2008; modified--January 2009summary: an unlikely fledgling vampire requires Janette's immediate attention
The Raven's strobe lights illuminated the undulating bodies on its dance floor. The crowd was thinning out but a few still remained, hoping for one last dance before city ordinances insisted that they vacate the premises. Janette watched the lingering few from her perch by the bar. The conversation had been excellent tonight and the receipts, equally satisfying. Almost twenty years and the club was still a wonderful diversion. A small smile of satisfaction graced her features before she turned to place her empty wine glass within the reach of a nearby bartender.
By all outward appearances it was indeed the end to another routine evening. However, something lingered in the air. Something that was detectable by only a portion of the club’s patrons. The last few days had brought reports of drained bodies, poorly disposed of. It had a lot of the community on edge. In this age of modern technology, semi-competent police work and tabloid journalism, any type of attention was unwelcome, particularly the type that involved identifiable victims left out in the open. If the matter wasn’t swiftly dealt with, it would be only a matter of time before They showed up.
No one liked having the Enforcers lurking around. It cast unnecessary light on the Community’s transgressions and, after the Enforcers left, the effects of their presence lingered. An unsettling level of apprehension and paranoia always remained in their wake. It had been Janette’s experience that communities took a while before they recovered from Enforcer activity. That was why the Community preferred to police its own minor—and not so minor—Code infractions. It was less messy that way. However, as she’s sure Nicolas and his police officer friends would say, there were no leads on the perpetrator, and so they all waited.
Janette waited, too. She eyed the tuxedo shirts and vests of her bartending staff. They were starting to bore her. The 1980s were the age of the Yuppies but that entire scene never interested her. She was tiring of seeing the same young stockbrokers and bankers try to socialize with the pretty models and young things that frequented the Raven. The slightly more raucous clientele that meandered in tended to give them a fright. Thankfully, the new decade was starting to usher in something different. Perhaps something a little less formal was in order. She’d have to consult with Alma. The younger vampire was a bit too headstrong for her own good, but Janette must admit that Alma had excellent taste.
The night was coming to an end. Last call had been announced and there was no need for her presence up front. The hired staff was efficient. It would be best that she retire to her rooms for some much welcomed rest and a few cursory examinations of the evening‘s receipts. Uniforms were not the only thing she wanted to remodel. Janette said her goodnights to the bartending staff but, before she could leave, felt the silent approach of another vampire behind her.
“Really Alma, if you must hover, please do so elsewhere,” Janette declared in a bored cadence, without turning around. When no response greeted her Janette turned a disinterested glance to the blonde vampire who stood next to her. She had a look of apprehension and shifted uncomfortably.
“There’s someone here,” Alma finally said quietly.
“Wonderful, but please do remind them that it’s almost closing time.”
"I think you might be interested in what she has to say."
“Not at the moment, no. Now if you’ll excuse me—”
“Janette, I really think you should talk to her. I think she’s a stray and not a very clean one….I think she’s been hunting.”
Alma's final statement could not help but pique Janette's interest. Of course there was no real way for Alma to know that this stray had been hunting. She was too young. She’d never lived in a time when vampires could openly relish in the glory of the hunt. For her and the other young vampires the thrill of the hunt was a fairy tale. A practice in which vampires could no longer indulge.
Still, the news of the vampire that was so recklessly breaking their laws weighed in the back of her mind. Better to be safe than to be sorry. Janette's high standing in Toronto came with responsibilities. Uncontrolled converts could not be tolerated. But why did she have to do the controlling? Why her club and not the new upstart run by the pretentious Dimitri across the city?
Annoyed at the liberties Alma had taken by bringing in a stray, Janette took her time in walking to the rooms where Alma had left their guest. She stopped momentarily to adjust the necklace of an attractive passing patron—a mortal, but one of her favorites.
The rooms in the back of the building served a multitude of needs. Some were furnished to accommodate the occasional vampire caught here after sunrise. Others housed the more avant-garde of their kind. And the remaining rooms served as storage for the club’s mortal and vampire dietary needs.
As she neared one of the secluded rooms, a slight familiar twinge gave her a brief pause. However it wasn’t until she opened the door and walked inside that she felt the connection at full force. Alma’s “stray” was a fledgling vampire and, most surprisingly, kin, of the same blood.
A young woman sat in one of the room‘s upholstered chairs. Her ill-fitting clothing was in tatters and her short dark hair was dirty and unkempt. Dried blood speckled her blouse and slacks. She was pretty but, as a vampire, appeared out of her element. She eyed her surroundings with caution and not once acknowledged Janette's arrival.
A light rap on the door announced Alma before it opened just enough for her to walk through. A look of unmitigated hunger came over the unknown fledgling’s eyes the moment she saw Alma holding a bottle of wine-cut blood. Alert, golden eyes followed Alma’s every move until the bottle was left in Janette’s possession and the door closed behind her.
Silently Janette filled a goblet for her guest. The young vampire reached for it urgently but maintained some semblance of control as she eagerly downed the contents.
That tiny display of restraint was impressive and rarely found in the newly converted. For a second, Janette doubted whether or not she was the rogue in their midst but the condition of her clothes said otherwise.
"I want to get one thing perfectly clear,” Janette began without preamble. “Our very survival depends on discretion and you've been anything but. You're a danger to us all like this.”
The woman shifted uncomfortably with the chastisement but remained mute, not offering even a few words in defense. She toyed absently with the rim of her empty goblet before finally pushing it away.
"All right then, how about we start with a name and we work from there." Janette suggested, taking the relinquished glass. She re-filled it and eased it back as a peace offering.
"I want to go back...to my life...to my job."
There was a hint of something so familiar in that tone. Janette had heard it on numerous occasions from Nicolas, her tattered and morally-stricken companion—or, at least, he had been. He’d kept her at arms length in the past few decades. While it could sometimes be a charming aspect of his personality, she had no time for it elsewhere. If this one didn’t like what she’d become, then it was easy to take care of the problem. The community didn’t have room for another reluctant vampire.
"Well, that’s not going to happen now, let me assure you. Your life as you knew it: it ended the moment you crossed over. It's gone. The sooner you get used to that idea, the happier you’ll be."
It was the hard reality of their situation. For some, it was good news. For others, it took a while to acclimate to their new situation. Until the newly converted fully realized that, everything else would be impossible.
The silence in the room stretched for what seemed like hours. Janette’s already limited patience was running dangerously low before the woman finally answered in a surprisingly strong voice.
“Alyce. My name’s Alyce…Hunter.”
Janette nodded in approval at the proffered information.
“We have responsibilities to our own kind, Alyce. Whoever made you and left you put us all at risk,” Silently, Janette considered and then discarded possible vampire kin who could be held liable for this Alyce Hunter. Yet none were this irresponsible. “If it was an accident, they should have killed you on the spot. But they didn’t, did they? You’ve been killing.”
A moment of uncertainty crossed Alyce’s features. She reached for the blood wine in an obvious attempt to buy herself some additional time.
“It's all a blur really,” she began dismissively. “There was a fire. I woke up in the morgue so I escaped...and then I got hungry."
The hesitancy in her voice told Janette that Alyce wasn’t being entirely forthcoming. “What else?” Janette demanded calmly, but she made sure the tone in her voice left no room for discussion. She needed to know the extent of the damage.
“I was in an alleyway when I saw the first one,” Alyce began in a monotone. “He was waiting for the bus. He had on some of those headphones for music. I couldn’t stop. I didn’t want to stop. I left his body underneath some cardboard boxes.”
“We know of four. Are there any others?”
“The one at the bus stop,” Alyce began, mentally counting off her victims. “Two homeless men, a jogger, a convenience store clerk and a kid coming out of a club.”
Janette seethed at the news of the dead clubber. It may have been one of hers. Mortal or vampire—they were all hers.
“I’d like to make a phone call please,” Alyce asked suddenly, obviously picking up on Janette’s anger. Her voice was flat and she locked eyes with Janette for only a moment before looking away. There was fear in her eyes.
“Hmm, and who is it exactly that you’d like to call, eh?” Janette mocked lightly and circled around her so that she was closer. “You’re dead, Alyce.”
That certainly caught her attention because it was the first time Alyce really looked at her. “He’s a police detective…and he’s one of you, a vampire.”
Janette snorted daintily at her inability to include herself with them, even as the smell of stale blood still clung to her clothing. “Oh, of course. You must mean Nick.” Now there’s one unlikely vampire master.
“You know him, right?” Excitement shone in her eyes. “He was here before. Can I see him? I want to see him.”
It was funny how Nicolas always seemed to inspire passion in the women he met. And yet, Janette understood. All too well. The women, however, kept his interest for only a short period of time. He was always so fickle. Moving from woman to woman like he did his interests: archeology, police work, freedom fighting, the list went on.
“Nick isn’t in much of a position right now to help you. You’ll have to look elsewhere.”
As usual, Nicolas was preoccupied with other things. He’d been in the city for a few years, but until recently hadn’t bothered to look her up. He’d much rather play with his mortals. Alyce was yet another woman in a string of women who had fallen for his charms.
In answer to her statement Alyce’s eyes flared with fire. Not so timid after all, Janette mused.
“I know he cares for me. He’ll help.”
“Oh, I don’t doubt that, but you see, there’s something you should know about Nicolas. His world revolves around a few things—mortals being one of them, and the vampire world, well, let’s just say he isn’t an enthusiastic member. You’ll receive compassion from him, but little else. So I’d forget any pretty thoughts of living forever with Nicolas in your arms. Immortality is a long time to harbor a mortal crush.”
“So what now?” Alyce asked with a hint of boldness. “What about my job? What I said earlier about wanting to go back, I meant it. Nick still has a job, so why can’t I?”
“Because, let me remind you, you just went on a killing rampage. The local community isn’t very happy with you. Your sloppiness has called attention to us and we’ve had to work fast to cover it up. You can’t stay here. The good news is that the Enforcers have yet to make an appearance. There’s still time to get you out.”
“You’ll learn about them…later,” Janette added. This one had no idea what was in store for her. Their kind rarely did in the beginning but Alyce’s case will require certain finesse. Having a master is difficult but not having one is worse. She’s an orphan in a very strange world. “Right now, you need to get cleaned up and rest. The sun is coming up and I need to make arrangements to get you out of the city.”
Janette reached for the near-empty glass in Alyce’s hands and finished its remaining contents. It was going to be a long day. “Who brought you over?” It finally occurred to her to simply ask. It was almost an afterthought now. “It wasn’t Nick.” It was an unlikely scenario, but not impossible.
“No, it was someone else. His eyes…he was so angry...at Nick. He attacked me when I tried to escape.”
The look of fear in her eyes was real. If Nicolas was involved then that could only mean one person—LaCroix. No wonder she’d been left to fend for herself. She was an accident. LaCroix has a type when it comes to his converts, and Alyce Hunter didn’t fit it.
Janette turned to leave. There was much to do and very little time to do it. Thoughts on why LaCroix would leave behind an unwanted convert would have to wait, not to mention his current whereabouts.
“Why are you helping me, if I’m such a threat?” Alyce asked. She looked out of place in the room’s understated elegance.
“Because I don’t like uncontrolled vampires in my city,” Janette replied matter-of-factly. “It’s bad for business. And because you and I, Alyce, are sisters. We share LaCroix, wherever he may be, and we share Nicolas. And all we ever truly have is each other, even when we make mistakes.”
There was a lingering chill in the air. Winter refused to release its hold on the city in favor of spring. Not that the patrons of the Raven minded much, at least not the immortal ones.
The crowd was raucous, the music driving, and the alcohol flowing. That’s exactly how Janette liked it. She took a slow drag of her cigarette and dismissed the not so young poet wannabe in her company.
“You’re being awfully foolish in coming back so soon,” Janette remarked without turning around. She didn’t need to. She knew exactly who had stepped up behind her.
“I saw him again,” her companion revealed as she seated herself on the recently vacated bar stool.
“Hmm…and did you speak with him?” A nearby bartender caught Janette’s eye and promptly brought an additional wine glass and a bottle of her favorite ‘vintage’.
“No. He had company. He seemed happy.”
Janette could see sadness creep into the other woman’s eyes before she turned to accept the proffered wine glass.
“Yes that is normally when he seems happy.” She looked well. It was a far cry from the scared young convert she was just a few weeks ago. She was dressed demurely in a simple, dark dress but the fabric was rich and elegant. “So is Nicolas the reason you came, Alyce?”
“Actually no. I came back to say thank you and to let you know that I’m going to be a little further away than San Francisco. I’m going to Buenos Aires. It seems like a good place to start over. I spent some time there when I worked on my doctorate. You ever been?”
“Once or twice. It was a long time ago,” she smiled knowingly as she put out the remains of her cigarette.
“What you must have seen,” Alyce began wistfully before catching herself. “It must have been incredible.”
“It had its charms…so I take it you’re no longer amongst our most worrisome members.”
“No, thankfully not. Controlling all this power it’s…it’s a challenge. I know I still have a lot to learn but I guess…I don’t know. I didn’t think I’d be alone.”
“Vanessa is very good with orphans—is she not?—but she can never truly take the place of your real master. I’d look at this as an opportunity, Alyce. LaCroix has expectations for all of his ‘children’. Some of us flourish under it. Others bristle and fight him every step of the way.”
“Hmm, in his way he loves us all, but with Nicolas…Nicolas is the one he’ll never let go.”
“And where is he now?” How could Alyce not be genuinely interested? Lucien LaCroix casts a long shadow and Vanessa likes to gossip.
“I don’t know. Perhaps he wants it that way.” It’s been years since she had a sister. The Raven’s flashing lights cast a multicolored glow over Alyce’s hair and Janette reached out to chase away the scattered greens and reds. “With LaCroix there’s always a reason,” she finished. “Now tell me about Vanessa, Alyce. She’s still not running around with that circus, is she?”