Disclaimer: This is a work of fan-fiction, meant for enjoyment and entertainment. It is not intended to infringe upon the trademarks or any other rights of the owners of characters or artistic properties described within. The setting is that of C.J. Carella's WitchCraft role-playing game (where they're called vampyres). The character of D is (I believe) the property of Hideyuki Kikuchi and Yoshiaki Kawajiri. Thanks to them for worlds of inspiration.

Foreword (aka, Writer's rant): How old is D? How long has he held his Thirst in check and when did he first master it? Why does he end up in the sack in so many fanfics? This is my two cents worth on those questions. The story is set in the modern day, and I've taken a few liberties with D's look, behavior et cetera, to reflect the different era. That being said, his modern persona still calls to mind the same sort of mood (IMHO) as the other depictions I've seen. Hope you enjoy.

The advent of the twenty-first century . . .
Vampyres have been relegated to the realm of myth and legend.
Forgotten, they walk the shadows of the night in secret.
Another walks among them.
He is a dhampir — half human, half vampyre.
At war with himself, tortured and alone,
He is...

Vampyre Hunter D

The moon shone brightly over the city of Watertown, New York. Beneath its gaze, a human figure crouched on the platform of an electrical tower, watching the comings and goings on Mill Street below. She was young, by appearance, with bright auburn hair and a ravishing figure. Looking at her, one would scarcely believe that she was the monster D had come to destroy.

The vampyre hunter stood on a nearby rooftop, watching his quarry intently. This girl matched the description of Abigail, a ravenous noble that had been terrorizing humans since the Dark Ages, but he did not want to strike until he was sure.

"Face it," came a small, facetious voice to the hunter's left, "You just like watching her, and who can blame you?"

D straightened the wide-brimmed black fedora that, along with a flowing ebony trench coat, obscured his features in shadows. Beneath it, his tried-and-true Kevlar suit creaked almost imperceptibly. Long ago, in the time of the Old West, he had worn a cape and leathers, and he sometimes missed the old fashions. Most likely, he would adopt them again, if they became common enough, but for the time being, utility called for the less dramatic attire.

"I mean, look at her," the voice crooned on. "They didn't dress like that in the 1100's, am I right?"

D raised his left hand briefly, glancing at the face in his palm. Sometimes it was better to just let the thing rant.

"Come on," the symbiont pressed, "That mini-skirt and those stiletto boots . . . very sexy. As for the fishnets, well . . ."

The dhampir tuned the voice out as it rambled on. Greater than the Blood Thirst was the irony that one of the few creatures in the world that could cause him genuine annoyance was grafted to him at the wrist. Sometimes, he wondered which of the two banes was more bothersome.

Across the way, the vampyress stirred. Something in the streets below had caught her attention, and her head shot up like a cat on the hunt. Moments passed, with both vampyre and hunter standing silent in the moon's silvery light. Then, she was on the move, swinging down the steel girders of the tower with speed and grace beyond mortal scope.

"She's a bloodsucker, all right!" the left hand crowed.

"Be silent," D muttered, his voice as cold and serene as a midnight glacier. The hunt had begun.

The vampyress sped across Main Street and darted between two store fronts. A shrill female voice cried for help, and a male one gave a shout of alarm from within the darkened space. D reached the mouth of the alley to find the bloodsucker pressing a scruffy young man against one brick wall with her palm. His feet dangled a full six inches from the ground. At the feet of the vampyress, another woman, slim and dressed in modern chic, sprawled among the discarded soda cans and refuse. Her eyes rolled to and fro confusion and fear.

Drawing his silver blade, D rushed forward. His strike was true as always, but a shower of blue foxfire erupted from the nightstalker's body, deflecting his sword along a force-field of light and causing it to carve a deep groove in the terra cotta wall. The girl on the ground gave a shriek and clambered back, away from the blast of sparks.

"If three's a crowd," the vampyress intoned in a silky voice, "Then four must be overcrowding." She turned her head toward the girl on the ground. "Make yourself scarce, baby."

With the speed of fear on her side, the girl disappeared out the back of the alley in a heartbeat. D noted that the bloodsucker was careful to keep herself between the girl and himself as the mortal fled.

"As for you," she continued, turning back to the hunter, "What do you want? You look like a pro, so I doubt you're with this scum." She whirled and slammed her second captive into the opposing wall of the alley to punctuate. The man's skull struck hard, and the scent of blood filled the air. D tried to ignore it, but his tongue ran of its own accord over the canines in his closed mouth. The Hunger, as always, was just too hard to put aside. He lowered his head, hoping the wide brim of his hat would conceal his elongating fangs.

"Sorry," the vampyress giggled ingenuously, "Did that hurt?" She shook the man and he let out a shuddering moan of fear.

"I've been sent to kill you, Abigail," the hunter muttered, the act of speech helping clear his head, "I am D."

"Abigail?" the vampyress dropped her quarry and paid no heed as he took to his heels. "You've got the wrong parasite."

D blinked. He had never heard of a vampyre calling herself a parasite before, especially one of the old nobility. Certainly, Abigail would never stoop to such vulgar argot. Still . . .

"You wear her sigil," the dhampir noted, gesturing to a black ankh that hung about the bloodsucker's neck, "And you match her description."

"True enough," the red-haired vampyress answered cryptically. She glanced around, noting the absence of her prey. "Shit," she muttered, "Lost my lunch." She fixed the hunter with a chagrined glare, then simply shrugged and kicked a soda can up the narrow passage.

"And you are a vampyre." The hunter pressed.

The nightwalker raised an eyebrow. "Are you planning on killing me too?" Her tone was curious, in a disinterested fashion and, as with all nobles, suggested that the deed couldn't be done.

"Where can I find Abigail?" D questioned.

"Interrogation before attack," the bloodsucker noted, "You're a man of business."

D stood silently, staring down at her.

The vampyress' brow furrowed. "What's your beef with Abigail, anyway?"

"She murdered the entire population of a hospital for the elderly," he said, his voice like flint, "Over a dozen men and women. I've been hired to kill her for it."

"Elderly *and* hospitalized?" questioned the vampyress, "Where's the loss?"

"I wouldn't expect you to understand."

The undead girl rolled her eyes. "So is it the money," she asked, "Or the bloodletting that has you after her?"

The hunter was silent.

"Listen, tall-dark-and-handsome," the vampyress sauntered over and laid a hand against D's belly. It was all she could manage, really, her head only coming up to the middle of his chest. "We both know there's more to this than money or morals. I can smell it on you. What are you really fighting?"

D's eyes narrowed. "Are you going to tell me where to find Abigail, or not?"

"I'm not," the red-head answered flatly. "She saved my life once. I won't insult your intelligence by lying to you about her location. A man like you would probably see through the fib anyway, but I'm not telling you the truth, either." Her eyes held a challenge, but D let the matter pass. He had other ways of finding out, and honorable vampyres were hard to find.

"Of course," the vampyress traced a finger down the hunter's armored abdomen. "That doesn't mean I can't help you with other things. I can feel the fire behind that pale poker-face, D the Hunter. There are things you yearn for, things I can give you."

"She's right about that, D."

The nightwalker jumped back at the sound of the tiny voice of the symbiont. Her eyes darted furtively around the alley. "Who's that?" she demanded.

Wordlessly, the hunter turned on his heel and strode out into the dark street. The flutter of the trench coat and his feet clacking upon the sidewalk were the only sounds of his departure. He did not turn to see if the vampyress was following him. He could hear her false breathing, like a whispered lie, as it grew fainter with distance. He crossed the street and returned to the grey brick building where he had kept his vigil. Beneath the edifice, tinted blue in the moonlight, a motorcycle waited, a chimera of black, armored steel laid over a vaguely Buell chassis. D swung one leg over the road rocket and coaxed the engine into rumbling, fine-tuned life.

"You could have stuck around, you know," the hand muttered once they had started moving.

"I don't think so."

"Why not?"

Drawing his hat down tighter against the wind, the dhampir made no response.

"Oh, I get it!" the hand put in, "You thought I was talking about staying for the girl's advances. Well, it just goes to show, you have sex on the brain."

That was the pot calling the kettle black, and they both knew it.

"When was the last time you got laid anyway?" the symbiont inquired, "Have you EVER been laid? I forget."

"That's enough," D warned, a note of edginess creeping into his voice.

"I don't get it," the symbiont sighed, "You've got your mother's good looks, and your father's charm, yet you won't let yourself get close to a woman! You think that a life of fighting precludes any chance you might have of finding happiness, that you're condemned to spend the rest of eternity eking out a life of penance and strife, all because your father was—"

"Be quiet!"

"All right, all right," it conceded finally, "But at this rate, you'll never get invited to any parties."  

The night wore on, and saw D to the shabby Econo Lodge that served as his current home. Not so long ago, he had traveled Europe in comparative luxury, but vampyres had become much more careful with the advent of surveillance systems and forensic medicine, and money was growing ever more thin. At times, he was unable to afford the custom-built weapons necessary to his task, and he was forced to incapacitate his prey, leaving them out in the sun to die slowly. Even if some of his quarry deserved torture, D was loath to hand it out, and he fell asleep longing for the good old days, when the world had had more dignity.

* * * * *

The dhampir didn't know how much time had passed when he awoke to the sound of voices, chatting close at hand. He snapped to full wakefulness before realizing that one of the voices belonged to the symbiont.

"He never sees my side of things," the hand was grumbling, "I've got things I wanna do too, y'know?"

D kept his eyes closed, still feigning slumber. Many things could be said against the thing in his hand, but at least it knew when trouble was   or wasn't   afoot, and it was the rare time indeed that it spoke to strangers.

"It's too bad," offered a second, far sultrier voice. After a moment, D recognized it as belonging to the she-vamp he had met earlier that night. "I bet the two of you would be great in the sack, if one got creative. For that matter, the two of you alone might make a pretty handy item."

"Hey sister," the symbiont spat, "don't even go there!"

D's Zen-like serenity faltered as, for once, someone got under the symbiont's skin. Ever so briefly, a righteous smile lit the corner of his mouth.

"Hey, sleeping beauty," the vampyress called, "You awake?"

"What do you want?" The hunter tried to sound unruffled, but the fact that the bloodsucker had crept in under his notice put him on edge, even if she was getting the symbiont's goat.

"I just came to reiterate my offer," she returned.

"I'm not interested."

The red-headed specter chuckled musically, "That's not what your partner says."

D opened one eye and shot a subtle glare at the symbiont. It was grinning moronically, its eyes on the high-cut hem of the vampyre-girl's skirt. Silently, he slid the hand under a pillow.

"Oh, now you don't have to be like that," the vampyress pouted, "He's only trying to help. My name's Adrea, by the way."

The dhampir rolled over, turning his face to the wall.

"You're not human," the undead girl noted, "Are you a Relentless Dead? Is that why you're really after Abigail?"

"I don't know what that is," D answered stonily, noting the proper noun status of the word, "I am a vampyre hunter, and I was paid to kill your mistress. Nothing more."

"You may want to cut her some slack," Adrea opined, "She recently had a hand in saving the world, you know."

D rolled over and faced the girl. Years of hunting had trained him to spot falsehood, and he sensed none here. Of course, who could say how long the vampyress had been practicing deception?

"Oh, I have your attention now," the red-head smirked, "Surprised that a leech could do something helpful?"

D regarded the vampyress appraisingly. "Explain."

Adrea took a deep breath, as if preparing to recite a great litany. "Let's start with the basics," she began, "Four girls, possessed of mystical power. One of them was a Relentless Dead, a person back from the grave to avenge her own atrocious murder, kind of like that movie, The Crow. This girl, Denise by name, met the others and told them of a Blood Cult she was hunting, the Blood Cult that killed her in a long and grisly ritual."

D had heard of such things, cults raised by vampyres to provide them with sustenance, without the need to sully their hands personally. Sometimes, the cult offered their own blood, more often, they rounded up sacrifices. They were debauchery at its purest, and when the cult had outlived its usefulness, the cultists often became sacrifices themselves, statistics to be tallied by hunters and occultists.

"These girls tracked down the cult," the vampyress continued, "And killed the members in a single night of righteous vengeance, but at a cost. The cult also had a Relentless at their disposal, this one driven by rage rather than vengeance, and the creature threw a katana through the chest of one of the girls, pinning her to the wall like a butterfly in some obscene collection."

Adrea rubbed her fingertips along her sternum, just within the valley of her cleavage. D dropped his eyes momentarily, noting just who the girl of the story likely was. Memory, it seemed, was bringing back sensation.

Adrea spotted the motion of D's eyes and nodded confirmation, withdrawing her hand to her side. "Abigail brought me back before my spirit was able to cross over. She gave me a form of power that has saved my life on more than one occasion since then, and I owe her a debt that thanks simply does not cover."

"You mentioned saving the world," the hunter pressed. He had no wish to hear this vampyre's life story.

Again, Adrea nodded. "It turned out that the cult had been corrupted by some outside force. They had been intended as a food source, more than enough to sustain any one blood-drinker, and source of influence. Every one of them was a prosperous member of the town, and she never bled enough to harm them." The vampyress took a breath. "Little did Abigail know that there was a Djinn slumbering beneath this city, and it had used her cult to slowly weaken the seals that held it with pain and bloodshed. It very nearly got free, but the efforts of me and my fellow Darkstalkers, as well as a handful of others kept it sealed away."

D pondered the vampyress' story a moment. "And Abigail was among these 'others?'" If she had been, D surmised, it was probably for her own purposes. If the cult was as impressive as the vampyre-girl claimed, its loss must have been quite a blow.

"Not exactly," Adrea admitted, "But she had been studying me, and knew exactly who and what I was. She willingly brought back a Darkstalker."

The dhampir regarded her. "What is a Darkstalker?"

The vampyress chuckled, a hand reaching up to rub the nape of her neck in a comely gesture that was almost embarrassment. For a moment, it was very easy to forget that she was a predator and think of her as the young woman she seemed to be. "The Darkstalkers were what we called ourselves," she informed him, "Four girls: A Relentless Dead, a werewolf, a necromancer-cum-vampyre and a shape-shifting cat called a Bast. We came from the darkness all, but it never ruled us, and we kept Watertown safe."

Here was something D could relate to. Day by day, he fought the Hunger. Night by night, he stalked those who stalked men. Such a life was never easy, and always carried a cost. The hunter noted that she spoke of her compatriots in the past tense, and didn't inquire any further on the matter. The symbiont was not so tactful, however.

"How do you feed, bloodsucker?" it inquired, its voice muffled beneath the pillow, "Tell me that!"

"I'm not a bloodsucker these days," she answered, tossing her head high, "I've beaten the Thirst."

D scowled, his voice growing uncharacteristically edgy. "Impossible." He had been fighting the Beast inside him since late puberty, and never to any avail. He could stave it off for a week or two, even a few months, but the call of the Blood could never be denied.

"Nothing's impossible," Adrea shot back, "Didn't your mother ever mention that?"

"Trust me," the symbiont piped up, "Don't mention his mother."

D clenched his left hand into a fist, effectively silencing his so-called partner.

From her place at the end of the bed, the vampyress crept closer. Normally, D would simply kick her off the mattress with the boots that still adorned his feet, but she was young and relatively weak, and he was interested in what she had to say. She reclined languorously next to him, keeping a chaste distance, but her movements letting the hunter know she was willing to go further. Part of him stirred at the thought, but that part was accustomed to being ignored, and for the time being, it was easily controlled, tied to the rest of his instincts though it was.

"Why does talk of vampyres cause you such discomfort?" she inquired. The look on her face was frank and open, as though the two of them were old friends, and she tossed the question out casually.

Looking away, the dhampir rose and began seeing to the upkeep of his weapons. Pulling a long-used whetstone from a duffel bag, he drew his equally used no-dachi and ran one along the other in a repetitive *shing . . . shing . . . shing . . .*

"You're undead," the vampyress pressed, "I can smell it and see it in your aura. You're not Relentless, though, nor are you a vampyre. I'm curious."

*shing . . . shing . . . *

The vamp cocked an eyebrow. "I should warn you," she intoned quizzically, "Piquing my interest is a sure way of making me stick around."

*shing . . .*

"The hand says you killed the last girl you slept with."

The stone fumbled and rich, coppery life-scent filled the air as the no-dachi dug into D's surprised fingers. There was no pain. The blade was far too sharp for that.

"That," D grumbled, trying to keep his voice even, "Is not your concern."

"I was lucky," Adrea persisted, "The girl I loved was a werewolf."

D raised his glance, but said nothing. It was far from the first time he had heard of such a relationship, though werewolves mingling with nobility was new.

"She was strong, and willing to part with some of her blood, when the need arose. I was able to vent my instincts," the vampyress recollected, "until I could finally overcome them."

Quickly, the slits in D's fingers sealed themselves up. He licked the lost blood from his fingers, then pulled out a rag to wipe down the whetstone, before returning the latter to its accustomed compartment.

"You should think of following my example," offered the vampyress. "Find someone who can accept your advances and use them."

"Use them," the hunter repeated dubiously.

"Use them to overcome your weaknesses." She chuckled, "I can tell they drive you nuts."

Whatever this red-headed succubus' intention was, she was using a disturbing amount of truth in her games. True, there were those who could feed him, could accept him, could stand up to his supernatural strength and passion if it were kept within reason. It was also true, however, that the day might come when he couldn't stop, when his parasitic lineage took more than could be paid. Worse yet, the forces he stood against could use his affection for another person as leverage against him.

D drew a long, thoughtful breath. "It wouldn't be wise."

"Come on!" cried the vampyress, "What are you afraid of?" In the blink of an eye, her fingers lengthened, springing to deadly sharpness like switchblades. The massive claws went through her bare arm, and the blood scent, which had almost dwindled out of existence, flared like a burst of tear gas in the tiny room. It filled the air, surrounding both in a miasma of sweet, hot power. Pain burst in D's mouth as his fangs shot instantly to their full length and his head began to swim. His throat, his loins, his very being wanted to grasp that wellspring and drink till it was no more.

"Vampyre blood," Adrea crooned, "Is the sweetest and most powerful of all." She took a step toward the hunter, holding her arm like a sacrament. "Drink tonight," she offered, "And tomorrow leave the Thirst behind forever."

Eyes blazing blue, D raised his no-dachi against her approach, and it met her at the level of her throat. Another droplet of red escaped where the point of the blade touched home, and the air grew thicker still. The vampyress halted, a look of exasperated confusion across her visage. Sword still raised, the hunter backed away like a cornered animal. With one hand, he gathered up his belongings, before literally bursting through the door to his escape.

* * * * *

Wind whipped through the hunter's hair as the Buell roared through the night. The engine was being pushed to its considerable limit and the motorcycle was beginning to howl its protest, but the dhampir didn't care. He only hoped the scream of the overtaxed engine would drown out the scream of the pulse in his ears.

Or was that the sound of his voice?

There had been a cop. The suped-up state cruiser had chased the dhampir's speeding form for what seemed like years, siren wailing and lights flashing garishly, but it was gone now. D had feared stopping more than he feared the consequences of the chase, and had lost the police car through sheer speed and determination. Even still, thoughts of a navy blue collar, stained crimson-black with life's fluid, clawed at his mind with kraken ferocity, and the land blurred away as he tried to escape its hungry grasp.


The symbiont's warning came too late. The Pinto may as well have been standing still against the Buell's hideous speed. The sickening, weightless tumble lasted an eternity, before ending in a tearing, shattering touchdown on the unforgiving street. The pavement seemed to be on all sides, savaging him like some demonic beast. A final red flare filled his gaze and he knew no more.

* * * * *

Consciousness returned slowly, like a shipwreck being hauled from the depths. The world returned in dark, disjointed layers. The hunter could feel his limbs, still aching to the marrow of the bone. The surface beneath him was soft, and there was something against his lips. It was rich, hot . . . liquid.

The hunter spat. He recoiled and tried to roll free of the moist heat, but he was held fast, bound.

"There's gratitude," came a silky, mirthsome voice, "That's twice I've found you unconscious, and this time I saved your life."

It was the vampyress. D wasn't sure how she found him, and at this point he didn't care. His eyes were still refusing to focus and the world was strange and broken, like a reflection in a warped and shattered mirror. Only the steadfast hold of the bonds on his limbs was truly real, and the taste on his lips.

Soup . . .

The dhampir's tongue crept out and licked the spicy broth from his lips, tomato with just a hint of salt. In his disorientation, he had mistaken the red, thick fluid for a much more precious meal.

The battered hunter closed his eyes. It seemed an effort of will to simply muster the energy to speak. "Where . . ."

"You're in my home," Adrea returned, "I'm not telling you where precisely, until I have your oath you won't hunt me here when you're well."

"How did you . . ."

"Find me?" the vampyress finished. She seemed to be reading his mind, but he quickly realized that anyone would be asking the same in his position. "Your hand found me," she informed him, "He . . . came loose . . . during the crash and led me to your body. He did it on three fingers no less. Let me tell you, hauling your busted ass out of the morgue was no easy feat, Mr. John Doe."

D moved his left hand. It was just where it ought to be, but the symbiont had been removed before, and reattached itself without difficulty. The hunter wasn't terribly surprised.

"Huh," the hand huffed, "No thanks for me either."

"Let me free," D demanded, pulling once more at the bonds that kept him. He could see them, but only as a series of vague black lines that had a habit of doubling every time he tried to focus on them. He also noted that the vampyress had removed his clothing, leaving a pale tableau against which the bonds were stretched.

"Sorry," Adrea shrugged, "But I can't do that. This is the perfect time for you to kick the habit, and since you're too weak to fight it yourself, I'll make you go cold turkey. Just call me Betty Ford."

D's lip crept up in a feral sneer.

"I don't fancy it much either," the symbiont put in, "But she's given us some . . . >ahem< interesting alternatives to blood."

D raised his eyes to regard Adrea, a grayish-pink and red blot in his vision. "Alternatives?"

"Sex is my favorite," the vampyress smiled, "I guess I'm a bit of an Epicurean. Pain works too, and you look like someone who dishes out a lot of that."

"I'm not interested," D murmured. His voice, at least was gaining some strength.

"Well then," the vampyress offered, "If metaphysics aren't up your alley, there are always more mundane routes. Your partner tells me you're a dhampir, half-vampyre, half-human. Unless I miss my guess, you could train yourself to live on food, just like a human."

D shot his "partner" a warning glare. Revealing his secrets was strictly against the agreements they had made.

"What?" demanded the symbiont, catching his gaze, "I was under duress!"

The hunter mulled this over. "The crash," he concluded.

"The crash?" scoffed Adrea, "I offered to lift my shirt for him."

"Hey toots!" the hand cried, "You're not helping!"

"That reminds me," Adrea posited, "What happens if one of you gets fired up for a roll in the hay and the other one isn't interested?"

"Generally, there's an argument," the symbiont returned, "Then the one with the legs walks off, taking the one who's interested with him."

The red-head blinked. "You mean," she asked the symbiont, "You get turned on more easily than he does?"

The hand gave a harsh chuckle. "Was there ever any doubt?"

Adrea looked the vampire and symbiont over. "I'd think biology would come in somewhere," she shrugged, "You seem to have a certain lack of equipment."

"I've got fingers and a tongue," the hand rebutted, "That's as much as your werewolf had."

D heaved at his restraints. He'd had enough of this line of discussion. The bonds rattled against his blue-marble skin, but held fast.

*Chains . . .*

"Settle down," Adrea commanded. A note of authority crept into her voice that even the stalwart hunter was hard-pressed to ignore. Nobility, it seemed, had not escaped this girl completely. Almost despite himself, he ceased his efforts and lay back.

"Now," she continued when the dhampir had ceased his struggling, "If you want me to let you go, I will, but think of what you have before you. I've beaten the Thirst. There aren't many who can say the same. Moreover, I'm willing to help you beat it yourself." She moved forward and nestled against his naked form. In this weakened state, he found himself unable to stop the feelings that surged through him. As his unclad body responded, he could do little but grind his teeth in aggravation.

The vampyress glanced down. "Impressive," she smiled. "Let me know if you ever want to learn to feed from pleasure after all."

"Make your point," D demanded, the nobles' timbre creeping into his own voice as well.

"All right," the vampyress cooed in slightly sadistic amusement. "Here it is: Do you want my aid to stop the Hunger or not?"

The dhampir pondered this, and the minutes drew out. For once, the vampyress seemed to show some patience, and simply reclined her head against his chest. Her fingers began to dance across his too-perfect skin, following the blue spider web of his veins ever lower. Before she got too far, D gave his answer.

"Do what you must."

Adrea shrugged. "It's really all about you." She drew away, retrieving the soup she had set aside. "I keep you prisoner, denying you blood and freedom, and giving you anything else you want. Finding a type of feeding that clicks and holding onto it is your job."

Time passed, as the vampyress shoveled spoonful after spoonful of acidic red broth between the dhampir's lips. The effort of eating built him up a bit, and by the time the bowl was empty, he could see clearly once more. He could tell now that he was in a garage of some sort. Most of the tools had been hidden away, and furniture moved in to take their place. Against the far wall, the tapering form of a sports car sat, placed on blocks and covered with a tarp. On the hood, D's sword lay sheathed and swaddled in silk, displayed like a holy relic. D himself was strapped upright to a large, cruciform piece of iron, set deep into the concrete floor. The aged carpet that had been laid across most of the garage was conspicuously absent around his feet. He wondered briefly what the usual purpose of the steel construct was before, upon reflection, he realized that it probably *was* being used for its intended purpose. The Darkstalker had said that pleasure was her favoured method of feeding, but perhaps it wasn't the only one.

"Anything for you?" Adrea asked, crouching down to the symbiont's level.

The symbiont grinned and raised itself as much as the chains would allow. The angle gave it a perfect glance down the vampyress' tank top.

"No." Quickly, the hunter snatched his fist away. There was a sharp *ping,* and the chain that held his arm jingled loose.

"You're strong when you're conscious!" Adrea crooned in appreciation. "I'll have to remember that. These chains are for our mutual protection, though, to keep you from my throat when the blood-frenzy takes hold. Do you still object to them?"

After a moment's thought, D held out his arm to be resecured.

"I know what this is!" The symbiont groused, "You're just trying to keep me in line."

"Whatsa matter?" the vampyress gave the hand a coy smile, "Not into bondage?"

The symbiont shut up, uttering only a little sound of lusty amusement.

As Adrea refastened the chains, reinforcing them as she went, D wondered whether she was deliberately maintaining the sexual tension in the air. As time passed, it was only growing thicker, and bereft of clothing as he was, it was impossible to pretend he wasn't interested. Lust was not the only force that tugged at him, either. The wreck had left him severely low on blood, and healing had taken the rest. He was at the end of his rope, and soon he would have to let go.

"There we are," Adrea smiled, closing the last of several heavy-duty tungsten locks, "Go ahead. Flail, scream, howl out your feelings, do whatever you need to do to fight the Hunger. No one will hear you. No one will interfere."

"A lair where no one can hear you yell," the symbiont put forth, "Effective."

"What can I say?" she shrugged playfully, "I'm a screamer."

D tried to disregard them and looked into himself, trying to decide where to begin. Introspection was never the hunter's strong suit, and he was in no state for concentration.

"Okay," the vampyress said, noting his indecision, "Let's start with this."

Once again, her fingers reworked themselves into a four-fold weapon of destruction and parted her wrist. This time, as the scent filled the air, D felt it take hold. The need for blood pulled at his very soul, with a force that was beyond need or hunger. With a cry, he forced it back, deep inside his being, burying it in an avalanche of long-honed discipline. His body shook, rattling the chains and making them groan in tiny metallic voices as they were stretched to their limit.

"Still not letting go," Adrea observed. She nestled against him once more, her gushing arm mere inches from his face. The light from the dhampir's eyes stained her pale skin blue, as though the orbs were neon bulbs instead of flesh. Slowly, she snaked her hand down his torso. Under the reinforced grip of his bonds, he was powerless to resist. Her palm brushed his inner thigh and his loins bucked reflexively. D groaned in agitation.

The unexpected lance of pain was like a cannon to the bulwark of D's defenses, as Adrea parted the iliac artery of his inner thigh with her claws. D felt his blood spray from groin to knee, shooting forth like a red, rhythmic geyser. Absently, he realized why this area was not carpeted as his vital fluid trickled away down a metal grate.

The wounds were closing, but not nearly fast enough. The hunter was weak, and he had too many things to fight at once. The world began to swim again, to bleed away like a painting doused with turpentine.

"I'm going to go for a while," Adrea cooed, "Leave you alone to think." She pressed a blood-soaked hand against his cheek. The dhampir snapped at it like an animal, and she barely snatched it away in time. The bloody handprint remained, however, dreadfully close to the dhampir's mouth but just out of reach. It would drive him mad if he let it.

He watched as she sauntered away, her hips swaying seductively in their fishnet and leather confines. She paused to take a rag from the work-bench and towel the crimson from her arm. Then she was gone, a cold blast of fresh air chilling his sweat-soaked skin. D clung to the cool sensation, trying desperately to maintain consciousness, but he had lost too much blood. He was too hungry, and too overcome with deep-seated emotions too primal to name. The veil fell once more, and darkness washed the world away.

* * * * *

There was a sound; someone crying . . . wounded. Where was he? D could remember little. There had been a battle, a terrible war of some kind, and he had died . . .


His strength was returning now. He could feel the life flowing in. He latched onto the wellspring and drew it in. The force called to him, like the call of Blood, but different, more wholesome.

The crying persisted. It was a woman. The battle must have claimed someone she loved, for she wept loudly . . .

Or perhaps it was pain. Perhaps the battle's violence was coming to claim her.

D seized the font of life and pulled harder, letting it wash over him and fill his being. Awareness was returning, like dawn following an overcast night. There was the smell of blood, and a feeling of heaviness that kept him from moving his new-awakened limbs. His left hand, domain of the symbiont, was moving, though. There was heat there, and a rhythmic pulsing. There was another smell, too. One D associated with . . .


The hunter started, fully awake. Next to him, the vampyress rocked back and forth, crying out not in pain, but ecstasy. The hand had crept under her skirt and was buried deep between her thighs.

The hunter snatched his hand away, both repulsed and allured at the same time. The hand and the succubus cried out in unified protest.

"Asshole!" the hand shouted, "Hell of a time to gain consciousness!"

"Just because you share a body with him," Adrea hissed, "Doesn't mean you own him."

"Actually," D answered evenly, "I do." He tried to raise his other hand, and found it held fast, not by chains this time, but by something more encompassing. Forcing his vision to acuity through sheer will, he realized that the vampyress had sealed him bodily in a block of concrete. Only the arm with the symbiont had been chipped free, along with his neck and head.

"What have you done to me?" D demanded. He felt strong for the first time since the night at the Econo Lodge. Somehow, he knew that that night was long past, by weeks, or possibly months of time.

"I've taught you a new way to feed," the vampyress answered, "Or rather, I've taught your partner."

The hand voiced a self-satisfied chortle.

Adrea joined in, favoring the symbiont with a smile. "It's made you strong, too. Of course, sex has always been regarded as a powerful source of energy. More powerful, even, than blood. Blood sustains life, but sex actually brings it."

"Unacceptable." D had to admit that he felt good, felt powerful, but the problems were immediately evident. His nature had empowered him beyond the ken of mortal flesh, and sharing a bed with a human was a task that required infinite patience. One careless gesture with his vampyric might would cripple a mortal woman for life.

The vampyress scoffed. "You're only turning the idea down because Lefty learned it before you."

"Hey!" the symbiont balked, "If you have to make up a nickname, ixnay on the Lefty bit."

The hunter pursed his lips and struggled against the cement confines.

"Still," the vampyress noted, "You've gone two months without blood, aside from that one gulp you tore from me when I got careless, and you're not trying to tear my face off any more. I'd wager you're close to beating it. What do you think?"

For the third time, Adrea severed her artery, letting the red liquid shoot forth. It called to the dhampir. He got the impression it always would, but somehow, the pull was weaker now, less insistent.

"You've been living mostly on soup and milk for the last week," Adrea continued. She went to one of the work benches and hefted a chisel and five-pound sledgehammer effortlessly. "I'm sure you could manage more, but you've been in and out of consciousness. Still, you were coming along, and that little dalliance with your partner was just the final ingredient." As an afterthought, she added: "Too bad it got interrupted."

Within moments, Adrea's hammer had begun falling, shearing away piece after piece of concrete. Within the hour D had emerged, feeling like some oversized moth drawing out of a hard and blood-stained chrysalis. The vampyress brought him his clothing, along with a steak dinner, cooked rare. The clothes were tattered from the crash, even with the Kevlar overlay, but they had been washed free of bloodstains and the majority of the holes were sewn.

"I would have picked you up something nicer," Adrea apologized, "But Wal-mart was all out of pants for a 46 leg."

D nodded. "I appreciate your efforts."

"Did I hear right?" the hand blurted, "Was that a thank you? Can someone with ears confirm that?"

Adrea chuckled. "Are you sure about my other offer?" she asked, as he set about covering white skin with black cloth. "I'm curious to see if you're as skilled with your other hand."

In another time or place, D might have taken her up on her offer, but the thoughts of awakening to the symbiont's indulgences were still stuck in his mind. In truth, he hadn't known a woman, carnally speaking, since the symbiont started voicing its opinion. It would have been too much like sharing. It was yet another facet of his life he'd gotten used to.

"I'm sure."

Adrea nodded; a little regretfully, D thought. "So what will you do now?"

D's voice had regained its strength, its flinty tone, and he answered: "I will hunt."

"Hunt Abigail?" There was more than curiosity in the red-head's voice. There was concern and, the hunter fancied, a note of pleading. No, pleading was too strong a term. Adrea was a hunter; so was D. She knew he would do what he must, no matter what. What her voice held, then, was a request.

"She has degraded herself," D answered finally, "She's harmed the innocent and has to answer for her crimes."

Adrea nodded. "I'd wish you luck," she said, "But, honestly, I'm rooting for the competition this time." She drew in a long sigh. "Will you at least promise me that you'll look before you leap? Her cult here was only for feeding and a little status. They served her willingly. She may have been debauched once, but times change. Just . . . be certain the punishment fits the crime."

The hunter nodded, a curt bow of gratitude. Lifting his no-dachi from its place on the car's hood, he strapped it to his back and, wordlessly, left the building. The night was brisk and quiet, and the first fingers of dawn were beginning to light the horizon.

"You could go back and kill her," the symbiont suggested, "The sun would leave her weak."

"Yes," D acknowledged, "I could."

The hunter adjusted the no-dachi to its traveling position and, with a stern face and soft eyes, strode silently away.

-Written by Djake
 December 2002

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