The red and yellow lights of cars and street lamps reflected off a tinted helmet shield as a slick, metal beast shot down the street, bypassing cars like they were standing still.
You are not a child. Stop acting like one and think rationally.
No, he was not a child. Haniel’s jaw
tensed; he added more throttle and the bike accelerated across the street
toward the intersection. The traffic light turned red and Haniel lifted the
handlebars. The bike jumped onto the car in front of him and used it to take
off in an elegant arc
The bike’s front tyre touched the road and Haniel sped up, twisting and turning between the cars. Why did Uriel always get on his case? It was just a small scratch that had disappeared as quickly as it had been inflicted, but the torn sleeve of his jacket had alarmed his brother and Haniel had had to listen to a long lecture, in front of Numuns no less -- he could still remember Anael pretending to be disinterested as she played with her knife, but a smirk had curled her lips, betraying her amusement.
Haniel’s mouth became a hard line. How dared Uriel scold him like that and humiliate him? It wasn’t fair. He felt the agitation that had hushed down rise again, tightening his grip on the handles and carving lines around the corners of his downturned mouth. He needed to let off some steam, to shake the tension off his shoulders and he knew the perfect place for that.
A handful of jumped intersections later, he stopped his bike with a screech on the pavement just beside where two bulky men stood behind a red velvet rope.
He parked the bike, pocketed the key and gave a tilt of his head to the guards at the entrance of his favourite club, the Black V, where everything was black: from the walls and furniture to the glasses and straws.
They returned his greeting, removed the rope for him and let him in, ignoring the murmurs of the crowd that waited in a sloppy line for entry into the club.
Haniel went through the door and down the stairs into the semi-dark hallway, the long tail of his black hair swinging with every step. He passed a coat check. “Hey.”
“Hey.” The brunette waved to him.
He stopped before the double doors, under which the music seeped through and filled his ears. He put his hands on the black surfaces and pushed them forward.
Hot air, the loud sound of music and bodies dressed in tight clothes twisting and turning with the beat greeted him. He stepped into the dimly lit space, lighted only by the lights hidden by the narrow matte glass that ran across the walls at eye level.
The drums vibrated though his body and his lips curved into a half-smile. This was his ego-booster, his playground, the place where he was always welcome and where he always got special treatment. He knew it was all an illusion: the adoration he felt in the eyes of girls as they seductively brushed past him, the admiration in the eyes of guys as they gave him a nod, and the free drinks that strangers pushed into his hands, hoping that that would give them an opportunity to talk with him. They felt drawn to his power, to what he was, just as people were attracted to money and influence. He absently wondered how much attention they would have given to Uriel or even Muriel, his older brothers, since they were both stronger than him, and chuckled to himself -- those two would probably have to pull out their swords to fend people off.
He took the bottle of water which Joe, the waiter, offered to him and which was the only beverage he drank outside the house -- well, that and blood. He unscrewed the cap and took a sip, his body swaying with the beat, while his eyes scanned the crowd before him. His eyes stopped on a group of girls that looked as if they were trying not to stare at him. His eyes slid over the thick make-up, their uncovered skin, the stiffness in their limbs and the way they fixed their eyes on the floor when his eyes met theirs. His eyelids fluttered closed and he deeply inhaled the stuffy air into his lungs. His lips curved. Country bumpkins, probably, so healthy that he could smell them across the room.
He had just taken a step toward them when a small shiver ran up his spine and an alarm sounded inside his head. An Akilueteer, a Deadeater -- he could feel one coming through the entrance door.
He took another sip of the water, imagining how the crowd parted before it, because Mamaels, humans, could somehow feel the Deadeaters’ unnatural existence and they unknowingly shifted away from them, like a herd of animals could sense the predator before it struck.
He knew that he would be its first choice, that it would be attracted to him; Deadeaters were like animals, they could smell the blood, the richness of it, and even though Haniel could set a mental wall that hid him, his essence and what he was, from other Lueeshareteer, Bloodeaters, he couldn’t hide the potency of his blood from Deadeaters; actually he doubted anybody could.
It seemed that something better than that bunch of healthy girls was going to land into his lap.
A hand descended on his right shoulder and fingers tiptoed over to the left shoulder, making his head turn sideways.
Long, red painted nails on the manicured hand glared at him despite the darkness of the room. He looked beyond them at the black-haired girl leering at him. He grinned back and wrapped his arm around her slim waist and guided her in front of him. “Hello there.”
“Hello, beautiful.” She twirled in his arms, her hands sliding up over Haniel’s arms and shoulders before she laced her fingers behind his neck, wrinkling the Russian collar of his motorbike jacket.
He tilted his head, chuckling to himself. She acted so sure of herself, of her strength. She probably thought of him as easy prey and couldn’t even sense anything beyond the richness of his blood. He put the bottle he held on the nearby table before he pulled her flush against his body and moved them in time with the music.
The plump lips on the doll-like face smiled at him as she swayed her hips in the short blue mini skirt and pressed the soft curves of her chest against him while her fingers played with tassels of Haniel’s hair and caressed his nape.
She was saner that most of their kind; an average Deadeater would have pounced on him at the first sniff of his blood, its thirst for blood overpowering all the other senses, making it blind to anything else, not tried to seduce him. Not that she needed to seduce him, Haniel would willingly follow her anywhere -- well, almost anywhere -- even without her flirting.
She slid out of the embrace of his arms, her hand wrapped around his and she pulled him behind her, offering him a promise in her heavy-lidded gaze and in the curve of her lips.
He let her guide him through the crowd and out the back door into the narrow alley.
“Have you been here before?” He pressed her against the brick wall and his hands found their way under the blue silk of her blazer. With one hand he slid the net shirt upwards, then stopped under the swell of her breast, while his other hand rested on her hip.
“No,” she whispered in a raspy, low voice. She wrapped her hands around his neck and her lips brushed his before they slid down over his jaw and neck.
Now, he was supposed to bare his neck for her, but instead his fingers trailed over her hip and her thigh before he pulled her leg up, forcing her to use wall for support, and hooked it around his hips. His fangs dropped down and he glided his tongue over them. Deadeaters were, as their name suggested, dead, but blood still ran through their veins, and for Haniel, its dry and earthy undertones tasted better than Mamaels’ slightly greasy and sweet blood. He leaned over her.
Her eyes dilated, she hissed and flashed her fangs. Her nails become talons and they bit into Haniel’s shoulders.
“Not the jacket.” Haniel grabbed her wrists and pushed them against the wall, beside her head. Uriel would kill him if he found another jacket destroyed, and since he was the only one doing the laundry he would notice it sooner or later.
She tried to kick, but she couldn’t with Haniel nestled between her legs, pinning her to the wall. A soft cry of despair left her throat.
“Don't cry, darling, and don’t worry, this won’t hurt one bit.” Haniel nuzzled her cheeks with his nose, meaning every word. Deadeaters’ feeding was like a burning pain – or so he had heard from Muriel, who possessed the ability to read people’s minds and sometimes even feel their emotions – while his and his brothers’ feeding was similar to the Lost’s, where the fang’s penetration awoke pleasure, not pain.
She thrashed in his hold, but she couldn’t break it -- how could she, when he was more than ten times stronger than her? He breathed in the smell of roses that clung to her jaw-length hair before he scraped his teeth over the soft skin of her neck, where the bluish vein should have pulsed under the pale skin -- but Deadeaters’ hearts didn’t beat anymore. “Trust me, this won’t hurt at all.”
Haniel pierced the skin, liquid spilled over his tongue and his eyes closed in contentment. The body beneath him stopped resisting and as he released her, two arms embraced him and a soft sigh filled his ears. His fingers slid over her shoulders and held her in his embrace while his mouth gulped down the crimson red.
He drank and drank until there was nothing more to drink and the body in his arms trembled in sweet agony. He lifted his head, opened his eyes and his hands cupped the oval face. He pressed his lips against hers in a chaste kiss. “You see, this hasn’t hurt a bit.”
She smiled at him, a soft, tired smile. “Thank you.” Her body started to change: the soft skin and fabric became grainier and the flesh started to become hard, the texture similar to stone.
It broke so quickly, crumbling under Haniel’s fingers until it was nothing more than a fine sand which covered the pavement and Haniel’s boots.
“Thank you for what?” He kicked at the
dust, which dispersed in the alley’s draft. For the moment of pleasure?
There were only a few ways to kill Deadeaters: sun, stabbing them through their
Something red tickled his mind. Another Deadeater. He closed his eyes, and dove into his darkness, searching from where it had come.
Haniel leaped upward; using the wall and windowsills for leverage he jumped up until his feet touched the roof’s surface.
A man stood at the highest point of the roof, beside the chimney, his cape flapping in the wind.
Haniel rolled his eyes. He knew of only one Deadeater who loved such theatrical clothes. Petsha, the only Deadeater who wasn't ruled by his thirst and whose turned were more stable and saner than the rest of Deadeaters -- no wonder Angelica loved to ‘invite’ him on visits.
Haniel cracked his fingers, his mind on the knife he had in the inner pocket of his jacket, even though he was not allowed to kill Petsha -- the man was too important to Angelica's research. “Isn't this place too far out of your territory? Are you lost?”
“You just killed one of my best turned,” Petsha said.
“You mean, put her to rest.” Haniel crossed his arms. “It's her own fault, she came on to me. Or ” -- he tilted his head -- “maybe its even your fault; you should educate your turned about consequences of leaving your territory, and about us, the Bloodeaters that hunt you, about Dumes, Numuns and the Damned. ”
“We are protected, Angelica promised!”
“You are protected, your turned are not.” Haniel sighed and turned away. He had nothing more to say to the blonde.
“Don't turn your back on me!”
“Why not? It's not as if you could take me down.” Haniel stepped on the edge of the building and looked down toward the ground, ready to jump.
“No, I can't beat you, not alone.”
Haniel’s skin prickled at the back of his nape, which told him that Petsha suddenly wasn't alone anymore. Not that that alarmed him.
“I'm sick of you looking down on us, of treating us as if we were some sort of animals.”
Haniel slowly turned and faced Petsha and the other Deadeaters that now stood by his side. “But you live your life guided by your impulses and your instincts, not logical thinking.” Whoa. He blinked. Wait a minute, that was exactly what Uriel had said to him. He frowned. But it wasn't the same: the thirst, the need for blood never influenced his actions or his sanity as it did with Deadeaters; he was too rash that was all, just as Uriel always reproached him.
“Yes, not you, but you are an exception, not the norm.” Haniel pulled out his knife. “Now, are you going to attack me or just stand there? I don’t have all night, you know, I have a curfew and Uriel gets cross if I break it; he’s anal like that.”
“The tall guy that looks like me, he has shorter hair and is wicked with the sword -- don’t you remember him? He’s the one who usually has to hunt you down and deliver you to Angelica,” Haniel said, assuming that Petsha would back off at the mention of his brother’s name, because Haniel at this moment wasn’t in the mood to fight. If Petsha had wanted to fight, he should have ambushed Haniel before he entered the club.
“I remember him,” Petsha said.
Haniel watched Petsha turn away and descend from the roof, disappearing from Haniel’s sight, his followers disappearing with him, but not before they growled and hissed at him at which Haniel just lifted his eyebrows. He stepped up to where Petsha had been standing and stayed like that for a spell, just staring into the distance, enjoying the cold breeze, the night and the field of lights that spread before him.
Haniel, Muriel’s voice echoed in his head. Where are you? Are you coming home soon?
Is he still angry? Haniel asked.
No, just worried.
He doesn’t need to be. With his spread arms balancing himself, Haniel slid down to the edge of the roof, then without a pause, he jumped off the building and gracefully as a cat landed on the pavement.
He knows that, it’s just... you are our baby brother, and well, he’s a worrywart.
Yeah, Haniel smiled and turned the corner, then directed his step toward the entrance of the club, where his bike stood.
Some day Uriel would learn that Haniel could take care of himself just fine on his own and he give him the respect Haniel so craved, but for now... He was pleasantly full, the anger that had made him bristle an hour ago was gone -- he could even see Uriel’s point of view, not that he really wanted to -- and his brother wasn’t annoyed with him anymore -- it was time to go home.
* * * * *