Hexeengel Liebeslied (hexeengel) wrote in pale_shadow,
Hexeengel Liebeslied

Bacause authors are generally their own worst critics, and as plots unfold continuity needs to be kept in check, I've done some revising to the first chapter. The first draft is here, for comparison's sake. As always, comments welcome.

B.D. came in at 4:30 in the morning, after having insisted the cab driver keep his lights out while in the parking lot. Slipping off her steel-toe army boots (which she never tied anyway) she started to walk quietly as she could through the kitchen of the small apartment. When she was half way through her father turned on the light, and she jumped.

“God-fuckin’-dammit, Dad! You scared the shit outta me!” Her odd turquoise eyes, accentuated by thick black eyeliner, glared at her father who’d been sitting at the kitchen table all night waiting for her. This was not the usual way of things. B.D. was usually in and out, undetected, or at least ignored.

“Where were you?” he asked quietly of his seventeen-year-old daughter.

“Out. Not like you care,” she answered, flippantly tossing her long black hair over her shoulder and matching her father’s tone. He gave her a reproving look. He did care, and knew she knew that, but he wasn’t too proud to admit things had been more than tense between them most of her life, and that under different circumstances, he had the capacity to be a better father. Without B.D.’s mother though, he knew he’d gotten more than a little lost, and B.D. had lacked direction all together. He sighed and went on.

“It doesn’t matter now anyway."

“What the fuck does that mean?”

“We’re moving again. To Paris.” Jacob Videbb was an executive of some sort for a young but thriving multinational corporation, B.D. never really cared to find out the details of what her father did for a living. All she needed to know was his job had moved them before, and now it was happening again. Wherever they moved to, they rarely had more than the bare essentials, because they never had much notice before they’d have to move again. Boxes were stacked and carefully labeled, kept close to the street-side door so the two of them would be ready to leave at a moment’s notice. B.D. had grown used to being uprooted after a few months or so, maybe a year if they were lucky. But she’d gotten to like New York, and wanted to stay. She flopped herself into a chair across from her father as best she could, considering the burgundy corset she wore.

“That’s abso-fuckin’-lutely wonderful. I just got used to this shit-hole.”

“What happened?” Jacob was calm as ever, a slight smirk on his lips. That just irritated his daughter all the more. “What in New York could be so important?”

“Dad, you don’t understand." She sighed and began fidgeting with her black tulle skirt and ratty fishnets. "There are so many places for me to go where no one fuckin’ stares at me. I… I just-- like it here.” That wasn’t entirely true. New York had offered the most in terms of like-minded companions so far, but B.D. kept everyone at a distance as a matter of course, for her own sake and theirs. It was easier to leave a place behind when no one cared where you went.

When next he spoke, Jacob’s voice was again almost inaudible. The gleam had left his eyes and the smile melted away from his lips. “We’re leaving for the airport at 7:30 tomorrow night, the flight’s at ten.”

“What?! That’s all the fucking notice I get?! One fucking day?!” B.D. looked in anger at her father as she sat up at attention.

“I’m sorry, we have to go. The company needs me out there A.S.A.P. to get the Paris branch up and running. Go get some sleep.” Jacob’s blue eyes were genuine in his apology. B.D. got up to go to her room, and she sniffled as she felt tears sting behind her eyes. Her father watched her walk down the hall to her room and went to bed soon after, hearing Cradle of Filth emanating from his daughter’s room as he drifted off.

*     *     *

“B.D., wake up. It’s almost seven.” B.D. rolled over slowly and looked at her clock. It read 6:52. She closed her eyes again and lay on her back.

“We have to leave here at 7:30, you’ve got to get up."

B.D.’s eyes snapped open. “Oh shit! I gotta shower an’ eat an’ pack an’…”

“Calm down, you’ve got time, I‘ve already got food for you. Go take your shower, alright?” B.D. took a deep breath.

“Okay.” Jacob walked out to the kitchen. B.D. was in and out of the shower in ten minutes, dressed in five. She sat down at the kitchen table and was served microwave mac & cheese and a can of Coke. After eating she threw out the paper plate and plastic fork, packed what little wasn’t already, and brought it all into the front room. Jacob loaded everything into a waiting mini-van cab, and they were off by 7:25.

The flight to Paris was long, but uneventful. B.D. slept most of the way, and her father did the same when he wasn’t reading or working at his laptop. She woke just as the pilot made the landing announcement, and glared intently out the window. She always envisioned fiery crashes and violent painful death as planes landed. She couldn’t help it, the thought always came to her as her ears started to pop, signaling the descent. Maybe she had a fixation or an obsession (it had occurred to her) and she figured she should see someone about it, but she got a certain satisfaction and pleasure in the images that invaded her thoughts. B.D. always assumed death meant peace, the final release from everything she’d ever had to suffer, and she welcomed that prospect.

The plane landed a little after 11:00am Parisian time, and B.D. and her father de-boarded and got through customs without hassle. They headed off to baggage claim, and stood around waiting for their luggage. B.D. scanned over the airport, just people-watching. So far, the French offered little to be interested in... But wait, what was this? Sauntering toward the carousel was a girl who looked about B.D.’s age, with wild, curly, flaming-red hair that fell to just past her shoulders. She wore oversized clunky black boots, untied, over black nylons full of holes and runs. The black denim skirt hanging askew from her slender hips was obviously homemade from an old pair of jeans. The leather jacket on her scant shoulders was second-hand but clean, and under that a black tank top. She wasn’t sure why this girl enchanted her, but she found herself staring as the other young woman drew closer. Soon, it was obvious that this girl was looking back and headed directly towards B.D. When the two were less than a yard apart, the girl stopped and looked directly into B.D.’s eyes with her own that had to be colored by contacts, because they perfectly matched her hair. They observed each other for moments that seemed endless before this new acquaintance spoke.

“You new to Paris?” she asked with a French accent, but still in perfect English, or teenage English anyway. Her voice was deep and raspy, but still quiet, and captivating. B.D. felt a sensation sizzle through her thighs at the sound of it, and repressed sudden visions of tackling this girl and forcing her to speak again. When the red eyebrows rose slightly, B.D. realized she hadn’t responded yet. She blushed.

“Uh, yeah... came in from New York with my dad... his job, ya know, we gotta move a lot...”

“Ah, I see.” The redhead replied, knowing B.D. couldn’t have said much more right then if she had wanted to. She introduced herself. “M’called Scorch... cuz of my hair, oui?” The girl twirled a lock of curls around her index finger.

“Yeah, guess that figures... I’m B.D.”

“B.D. Does that stand for something?”

“Um, yeah... Belladonna.” The name came out a mumble. “My mom was some kind of hippy, or somethin’.

Scorch raised her eyebrows again and grinned. “Belladonna, eh? Why hide such a beautiful name with initials?”

B.D. snorted. “You wouldn’t think it was beautiful if you’d had people give you shit about it your whole life.”

Scorch’s grin broadened and her eyes flashed in amusement. “Perhaps you are right. I think that man... your father? ...wants your attention, Belladonna.” She nodded over B.D.’s shoulder to where Jacob was standing. B.D. turned her head in Jacob’s direction.

“Uh, yeah, that’s my dad,” she confirmed, a bit annoyed at the use of her given name. “I guess I gotta go then... I’m coming Dad!” She turned to walk away, and Scorch, still grinning, watched the movement of her hips as she went.

Jacob handed B.D. her black canvas satchel. He was curious and a bit skeptical of the girl his daughter had been speaking to, and looked in the stranger’s direction. As her flame-colored eyes locked with his blues, all his doubt seemed to melt away. He was at once so happy that B.D.’d at least talked to someone, he didn’t care who it was. Besides, he found himself thinking, I’ll be too busy to keep tabs on her or take her sight-seeing. If she’s got a friend who knows her way around, I won’t have to worry so much.

“Hey, umm, if you want to invite your friend to come eat with us, that’s OK with me,” B.D. stopped and looked curiously at her father, who didn’t return the gaze. She turned her head back to Scorch, who hadn’t moved an inch. She decided not to over-think it, and trotted back to the other girl.

“Hey, um, you wanna come eat with us or somethin’?” B.D. fidgeted with the strap of her bag, not knowing what response to hope for. Scorch did something to her, to her mind and body alike. Every time those eyes turned to B.D., she felt as though they were burning through her, penetrating into the very essence of her being. Scorch made her feel exposed, naked, yet somehow as she wished to be. The deep gaze of those oddly colored eyes instilled in B.D. the sensation that she was her true self, that everything she had ever endured was gone, and that she was... happy. It was something she hadn’t experienced since before her mother died when she was only four.

Scorch gave B.D. the once-over. This American seemed to be just what she was searching for. After all, the Look and the Voice she’d been taught had worked perfectly, right from the beginning.

“Sure, that’d be cool,” she replied, giving B.D. another smile. She slipped her arm through B.D.'s and the pair walked back over to Jacob. Scorch was proud of the affect everything she did had on the other girl, and knew everyone would be pleased.

*     *     *

B.D. had to fight for it but she finally convinced her father not to take them to a French restaurant, so the three of them found a steak house for lunch not far from the airport. Jacob and his daughter ordered the standard steak and potatoes, but all Scorch wanted was their smallest cut of beef, done as rare as possible. B.D. and her father ate ravenously, though still trying to maintain their civility, while Scorch picked at her meal. B.D. wondered how Scorch could have passed up a free meal given her slight stature, but she filed it away under “weird French diet,” and left it at that.

Scorch continued to accompany the pair all the way to their hotel room, and talked with B.D. while Jacob tried to get in contact with his company to let them know he’d arrived. At first the girls just discussed the flight, the restaurant, the hotel, nothing more than small talk. After a time though, Scorch started to probe deeper.

“So what did you think of New York, Belladonna?” B.D. scowled, hating her name.

“It was alright, I guess. I mean, there’s nothing special about it like all the movies and shit make it out to be, ya know? It‘s just as dirty and ugly as anywhere else.”

Oui, Paris is much different than most Americans think,” Scorch agreed. “It may be called the 'City of Love,' but I’ve never seen it.” She gazed around the room as she spoke, taking in every detail. Not that it was anything out of the ordinary; Two double beds with a nightstand between them, an armchair, a television atop a long low dresser with an equally large mirror behind it, and a round table with its own chair. The color scheme was the usual nauseating pastels set against light wood tones, and the tasteless no-name art hung over both the beds.

“I know what you mean,” B.D. said with a sigh, turning her attention down to her boots and regaining Scorch’s. She knew her father loved her, but never actually felt it from anyone but her mother. The feeling that came when Scorch’s eyes locked with hers was the closest to it. At the very least, it made her feel needed, necessary, more than her father had shown her. She took a deep breath.

“Can I admit something?”

Oui?” Scorch tried to read the other girl’s face, but it was still turned to the floor.

“I... umm... I know a lot of other countries think American girls are all sluts and that kind of thing, but umm... I’ve never... I mean...” B.D. slowly turned her head to face her companion as she spoke. She didn’t know why she did, or why she was admitting her virginity to someone she’d only just met, she just felt compelled to, as if she had no choice.

“Shhh...” Scorch pressed a surprisingly soft finger to B.D.’s lips and smiled. She slid closer to the other girl, her gaze strong and intent.

“I know, Belladonna, it’s alright.” Scorch’s other hand came to rest on B.D.’s knee, and the finger that had been to her lips now traced her jaw line, and traveled slowly down the side of her neck. It came to rest where shoulder and neck met, and B.D. sucked in her breath.

“You are alright, oui?” Scorch asked quietly, still grinning and holding the other girl’s gaze.

B.D. swallowed hard and nodded, her eyes dancing. She’d felt like this when Scorch first looked at her, and it was all she could do not to cry.


This new person made her want to weep, for all the wrong done to her, to Scorch, to her father, to the world. With Scorch’s touch she felt there was a chance for vindication, and she had no more need of the flaming destruction she so often imagined. A voice in her mind she assumed was her own, told her there was a purpose for her, another life she could lead that would give meaning to all of this. The hope in that thought unsettled her, pulled her out of her comfort zone of angry apathy.

Scorch started to press closer, their faces approaching each other. B.D. could feel fingernails beginning to dig into her neck, and another hand creep up her thigh. This other girl’s breath was cool against her lips, and had it not been for Jacob’s sudden interruption… B.D.’s imagination sufficiently filled in the gap, for the time being.

“Well,” her father began, sounding exasperated, “The office says our new place isn’t ready yet, so I guess we’ll hold up here for a while. They’ve arranged for our stuff to be put in storage until we can move. I’m going to go down there and get some more clothes for us, B.D.. Be back in a bit. You girls behave.” Jacob winked and left the room. B.D. panicked.

“What did he mean? Did he see us?!” She turned wide-eyed to Scorch, searching the other girl’s face for the answer. Scorch smiled seductively, looking up through her red lashes.

“No, he did not, Belladonna. It’s alright.” B.D. wanted to ask how she knew, but before she could, something in Scorch’s gaze reassured her. The two sat there for a time, staring into each other’s eyes. The feelings of comfort and security began to wash over B.D. once more, and it was too much for one day. She got up and began to walk around the hotel room, picking things up, rummaging and rifling through papers, looking at everything except her new found companion.

Scorch sat back on the bed and watched B.D. as she tried to distract herself. Obviously her Captivation wasn’t yet strong enough for this one, and despite her apparent failure, she had to smile to herself. She knew what now had to be done. If this Belladonna was deep enough to withstand her, there was only one other who could draw her in. It was time.

“Bell... B.D.?” Scorch decided to use the girl’s preferred name. B.D. froze in her tracks, her back to the other girl.

“Yeah?” she responded, immediately regretting the suspicious tone her voice had carried. Scorch seemed to ignore it.

“Would you like to meet some of my friends tonight? You are new here, and friends would be good, no?” B.D. turned, her thoughts swiftly bounding over the day’s happenings.

“Umm, OK yeah, sure.” B.D. figured that if her dad was OK with Scorch, he’d be OK with Scorch’s friends. She picked up a pen and began writing a note for him.

Tre bien,” Scorch smiled outwardly this time, her eyes glinting with anticipation of the evening’s events and what B.D. would encounter. There was only one other who could draw her in. It was time… she met Raven.

*     *     *

Paris is beautiful at night, B.D. decided to herself as she and Scorch walked along the crowded streets. Everywhere there were lights, music, laughter... and the occasional coitus-in-the-car routine. City of Love? B.D. thought, chuckling to herself. More like City of PDA. New York had never offered so much to take in, and this young American decided the French were more interesting than she’d previously believed.

Scorch watched the addresses of the buildings she passed very carefully, making sure she was in the right place. Where she met her friends changed frequently, and often times she’d have to venture into unfamiliar parts of the city. Tonight was one of those times, but she tried to walk with confidence to keep her companion at ease. The shifting around was necessary, and she recognized that, but it didn’t mean she liked it. If any uninvited soul were to happen upon their meeting... well, it wouldn’t happen twice at any rate. Scorch finally found the abandoned mansion, a relic from France's monarchial past. She motioned for B.D. to go in before her. She wanted everyone else to Feel B.D. without her as a filter.

B.D. stood dumbstruck in the doorway, her eyes slowly adjusting to the low light of a few scattered candelabras. Even in the relative darkness, she could make out velvet draperies, presumably covering the windows, and a staircase in the back of this large main hall, leading up to a ledge. It was lined with the same railings as the stairs and ran ‘round the entirety of the room. B.D. assumed there were doors upstairs, and probably some in this room as well, but she couldn’t say for sure. A golden chandelier softly reflected the candlelight from the high ceiling, and B.D. wondered how anyone could manage to get up there to clean or change the light bulbs. She felt Scorch nudge her in the small of her back then, so she stepped forward to let the other girl in the room. Scorch closed the door behind them, and began to make introductions.

“None of us use given names here, some of us don’t even remember them, but we have names nonetheless.” She pointed, and the indicated person nodded as she went around the circle. “Talon, Hawk, Titan, Taurus, Phoenix, Raven, Scorpian, Sidhe, Fae, Scratch, Kitty, this is B.D.... Belladonna.” They all sighed in a knowing sort of way when they heard the name of the newcomer, and turned their now smiling faces to Raven, who stood, and began to walk towards the two young women still standing by the door.

As he approached B.D. could see his features more clearly, for the light from a nearby candle washed over his face and body, giving him a glow. He had soft, deep dark eyes that although flawless, looked as though they’d seen a thousand years pass. His skin was pale and clean, his lips bowed slightly, and both begged to be touched. Wild, tight curls fell to his shoulders in a mass of black and sandy streaks, and he wore little, most noticeably a pair of tight, black leather pants and matching boots. Two-inch wide leather cuffs encircled his wrists, and a delicate silver chain hung around his neck. As she watched his graceful, sensuous movements, B.D. could feel him everywhere. He was across the room. He was next to her. He was in her head. In the air. Out in the city. Deep within the Earth. Flying through space. He was everywhere at once, and B.D. started to worry his presence would suffocate her.

"Sit down please, Belladonna. You are most welcome here." Raven smiled as he spoke, his voice resonating within B.D.'s body even more that Scorch's had. The velvety baritone, tinged with a slight Parisian accent, made her tremble and her breath quicken. She heard her blood pounding in her ears, and if she had not been so enraptured she would have noticed that everyone else in the room could hear it too.

Raven gingerly took her left hand in his, and placed his right at the small of her back. B.D. started to take a step forward, but at his touch she suddenly found her knees buckling under her and started to fall. With a swift fluid motion, Raven caught her in his arms and carried her instead. With her head resting against his bare chest, B.D. noticed how cool his skin was, how slowly his heart beat.

Raven returned to where he'd been sitting, still holding B.D. in his lap. With a soft touch he stroked her hair and rocked slowly back and forth, singing to her in a near whisper. The melody made B.D. feel much as she had in the hotel room with Scorch; comforted, content, yet uneasy and disturbed. The words, in some forgotten ancient language, echoed in the deepest recess of her mind and called to something primal within her soul, as though another's ears were listening.

She let her eyes drop closed and felt her breath’s gradual fall into rhythm with Raven's, her heartbeat also slowing to match his. Her head began to reel from the lack of blood and she thought she would black out. Still, Raven sang and held her, swaying their bodies in time to the meter of the song. None of the other eleven in the room spoke a word, only watched the apparent ritual act between B.D. and Raven.

Just as her consciousness began to slip away, Raven's voice hit the final note and faded, till only his breath kissed her ear. B.D. shivered and drew in air as deeply as she could, growing dizzy as her blood regained its usual flow. Raven's heart quickened as well, and he raised one hand to stroke her cheek, his touch as gentle as before. Her eyes fluttered open and she turned them up to meet his. His soft brown penetrated into her turquoise and he smiled. Without realizing it she smiled back, and had the sudden intense urge to bring her lips up to meet his. Raven's eyes flashed and he whispered, "Later." B.D. jerked her face away and blushed. Raven gave her a gentle comforting squeeze and then addressed the others assembled there.

"My friends, we have gathered every night for so long, always with little to report, our hope steadily fading. Even my resolve had grown weak, despite Those who guide me." B.D. listened, both confused and intrigued. She looked up at Raven again, carefully studying his face as he continued.

"But now, tonight, Scorch has brought renewal to our purpose. I am eternally in your debt, Petite, for all you've done for me over the years." He directed a warm smile at the red-eyed girl, who in turn appeared embarrassed and modest about her contributions. She turned the slightest bit to hide her face, and B.D. assumed Scorch would blush, yet her skin stayed just as pale as ever. Raven nodded and went on.

"Let it be noted then, that tonight we may have found our answer, and if this is indeed so, then soon the Tribes will be united and our trials will be alleviated for all time!"

*     *     *

Throughout the rest of the night, the group came and went in pairs. Last to leave were Raven and Scorpian, but as the parade of people went on, Raven told B.D. how they all came to be together, telling the story of each pair.

“I’ve known Scorch for a very long time, she’s like a younger sister. She even acts like one around me, following me everywhere, much like a puppy, which is how she came to join this group. Phoenix is her lover and she brought him in, and as such he’s a fairly recent addition to this assembly. I don’t know how long their relationship will last though, given Scorch’s history with such things.” Phoenix reminded B.D. of Eric Draven, “The Crow” from the movie and comic books; tall, lanky, dark hair and eyes, he even dressed as same and wore the same make-up. Scorch seemed very attached to him, but considering the almost-incident in the hotel room, B.D. had to concede to Raven’s observation.

“Kitty and Scratch are also lovers. I found them abandoned, very much like little kittens, living in a cardboard box in an alley. They were together long before that, and were runaways because of their relationship.” Indeed, the two girls moved like cats, usually snaking around each other, being overly affectionate and friendly. Both had dirty-blonde hair, Kitty had brown eyes and Scratch had green. They dressed the part, clingy tank tops and baggy pants.

“Talon and Hawk are brothers, Talon being the elder. They are actually cousins of mine, so I’ve known them for longer than I can remember. When I joined this group, they came with me.” Both young men had odd yellowish eyes and sleek black hair. Talon was the taller of the two and his limbs were more gangly. He wore a casual suit, while Hawk was dressed in jeans, t-shirt, and a leather jacket.

“Taurus and Titan are our next pair of lovers. I am actually their successor as far as this assembly goes. They’ve been involved with organizations such as this for their entire lives.” The two were both tall and strong, but otherwise very different in appearance. Taurus had dark hair and eyes, and classic Mediterranean features; He could have been a Roman centurion. In contrast, Titan had soft sandy-blonde hair, his blue eyes bright and clear. He reminded B.D. of classical Greek sculptures, right down to his loose-fitting white muslin shirt and pants. Taurus on the other hand, seemed to prefer tank tops and suit pants.

“Sidhe and Fae are identical twins, and were involved here before I came along. Titan and Taurus know them best out of all of us, which still isn’t saying a lot, as they’re quite secretive. However, they are essential to this group. There is a way to tell them apart, but they have to be undressed for that.” At that Raven winked and B.D. smiled. The two girls were obviously Celtic; Red hair and green eyes, they fit the stereotypical look without exception. Their dress seemed a blend of girly and punk, tight dress shirts over short plaid skirts and boots up to mid-calf.

When Raven got up to leave with Scorpian, Scorch took his place by B.D.’s side. B.D. felt a definite loss when he walked away, but tried to shrug it off and listen to Scorch talk about Scorpian.

“No one knows to much about her, much like Sidhe and Fae. Raven seems close to her, and I think they used to be lovers, but I’m not sure. She’s such a little yapping dog at his heels sometimes--” B.D. couldn’t help but giggle at this, remembering how Raven had compared Scorch to a puppy earlier in the night. Scorch gave an inquisitive look, but went on.

“Anyway... regardless of my opinion of her personality, she is important to us.” Everything about Scorpian was black; Her hair, her eyes, her demeanor, her clothes, the very air about her seemed to cloud with darkness. Somehow though, this didn’t seem at all dangerous to B.D., just intriguing and mysterious.

Raven returned, and it was all B.D. could do not to run up to him and throw her arms around his neck. He walked over to her, sat back down, and draped an arm across her shoulders. Leaning down he kissed the top of her head, then with his hand turned her face towards his and smiled. B.D. felt as though she would melt, and turned away with a shy look. Gazing around the room then, she noticed that everyone seemed more active, energized, refreshed somehow. They were all talking amongst themselves, mostly cheerful conversation, but there were a few serious faces among them. She’d kept fairly silent so far, but since it seemed conversation was appropriate at this point, B.D. decided to ask Raven a few things that had been floating around in her mind. She gave his ribs a timid poke.

“Raven?” The man turned his head to her and smiled again.

Oui, Petite?” B.D. fought the urge to giggle.

“Umm, I was just wondering ahh... what was that, umm, song you sang to me earlier?” Raven looked thoughtful for a moment, searching for the right words.

“It was less of a song than it was... an assessment of sorts. I was... checking something.” B.D.’s intrigue only grew.

“Checking what? Something about me?”

Oui Cher, I had to know something about you. The song told me what I needed.” His right hand then stroked her hair and he smiled again. B.D. couldn’t help but smile back.

“You could have just asked me, I would have told you anything,” she said, her voice quiet and, she hoped, seductive. When she saw the flash in Raven’s eyes, she assumed she’d been successful. He let out a gentle laugh.

“Well, then I shall have to ask more of you, no?” He ran his index finger along her jaw line back towards her neck, then down her chest, stopping just before he reached her cleavage. He loved that his touch made her breathe that heavy, made her heartbeat that fast, made her flesh prickle in just that way. It showed him that he and Scorch had been right, this girl was the One they needed. The song never lies, he thought to himself.

It was difficult for B.D. not to shiver when Raven’s skin met hers again, but she needed to keep her concentration. She took a deep breath to steady herself before speaking again.

“Umm, what did you want to know anyway?” Raven’s face got serious at that point, and the whole room hushed. All eyes were suddenly trained on the two of them again, waiting for Raven’s response. He turned and addressed the assembly in its entirety.

“I had hoped that this could have waited, but I also should have expected her to be this inquisitive.” He turned back to B.D., who was waiting with wide eyes and a little fear in the pit of her stomach. Raven softened his voice when he spoke to her again.

“In order to tell you that, Ma Cher, you’ll have to become one of us." B.D.'s look went from pure intrigue to one tinged with confusion and apprehension.

"'One of us'? What the hell do you mean?" Raven took a deep breath and laid his hand on her cheek, his Voice increasingly soft as he spoke.

"Some would call us nosferatu, others would say dhampir, or simply demon-spawn, and I've even heard such base things as blood-sucker. In short, Ma Cher, we are Vampires."

At his words, B.D. started backwards as if she'd been struck, her expression blank. She blinked once, twice, then tears sprang to her eyes and she collapsed forward into Raven's arms, going unconscious.

Over the next few hours, she experienced much but understood little. Images of ancient and forgotten lands, bloody battles, jungles, mansions, libraries, galleries and elaborate rituals flashed through her mind. Then a sense of loss, separation, suffering overtook her, and even in her unconscious state, B.D. wept.

She was slow to wake and regain awareness of herself. Her head still groggy, she lifted herself up onto her elbows and squinted down her body. A deep red blur was all she could make out at first, a silk sheet covering her form. As her vision continued to readjust to the candlelight, she discerned she now lay on a dark wood four-post bed, with more velvet curtains to her left and right. The room was larger than she was used to a bedroom being, but not at impressive as the great hall. Across from her was a dresser with an oval mirror hanging above it, and a door in the corner, presumably leading to a closet. Her senses finally about her again, she became aware of a now familiar presence in the room.

“Raven?” she called out quietly.

Oui, Cher, I am here,” came his reply from her right.

“Um, what happened to me?" Raven chuckled.

"You fainted."

"Well I figured out that much." An annoyed scowl crossed her face. "What I meant was, what were, uh, all those images I saw, in my head?" Raven laughed again.

"Those,Ma Petite, are the record of our history that each of us keep in our minds." He stood from the velvet-upholstered armchair in which he’d been lounging, and moved to B.D.’s side. "While you were... gone, I was able reach inside you, and transfer that record to your memory.” He pulled her close and began petting her hair. “It was the first step to your change. Another night, the final stage will take place." He finished the explanation with a light kiss atop of her head.

She knew she’d heard all the words he spoke, but two of them seemed to repeat over and over, echoing in her mind, inside you. She felt her sex clench involuntarily, a stronger reaction than she’d had to Scorch. She bit her lip to stifle a moan, and another chuckle floated down from above her.

“Such sensations are normal when going through the change, Cher, do not be frightened or ashamed.” B.D. raised her head to look at him.

“How did--”

“Hushh,” he said in a whisper. “The song, remember? It told me things about you, but also allowed me a stronger connection to you... Deeper, more intimate.” Raven’s voice dropped in pitch with those last three words, and B.D.’s arousal increased, almost causing her to shiver. His brown eyes seemed to grow darker, and she could see clear reflections of the candle flames as she stared into them. His touch soft as ever, he took her chin in his hand and drew her face closer… closer… until their mouths barely touched. B.D. then gasped as she felt Raven’s tongue brush first against, then past her lips.

Without warning, he deepened the kiss, his hand now at the back of her head, his mouth locked with hers as though in hunger. The sound that managed to escape her throat fell somewhere between a squeal and a moan, and she raised a trembling hand to the curls that cascaded over his bare shoulder.

Moving closer, Raven began to roll B.D. onto her back and soon he lay on top of her, taking hold of her wrists and pinning her to the mattress beneath. The pressure of his hips matched that of his mouth, and he could feel her warmth even through their clothes. Cesser! he commanded himself, knowing it was not time to let things go any further. He growled, a guttural, animalistic sound, before pulling away from her. As he did, B.D. felt two tiny points scrape her lower lip.

She looked up at him, breathless, her eyes a mix of confusion and disappointment. She still saw the flickering light in Raven’s, but only now did she realize it was not a reflection of the candles in the room, but instead the desire that surged within him. As he panted in an effort to regain control of himself, she now discovered what had scratched at her as he withdrew from their kiss, and became mesmerized by his gleaming fangs. Her voice wasn’t much above a whisper.

“You really are a Vampire...” Raven’s face melted into a laugh and he sat back on his knees.

Oui, I would not lie to you, Cher.” Then a quiet yet stern knocking sounded at the room’s door.

Oui?” Raven’s voice floated into the hall where Scorch now stood. She turned back to the door from the railing overlooking the main court of the mansion. The group below was waiting to disperse. Raven listened as Scorch pushed open the dark wooden door and half entered the room.

“Raven, it’ll be light soon. We should end for the night, and I should get Belladonna home before her father wakes up.” Raven stretched.

Oui Petite, Merci.” Scorch nodded and left. Raven turned back to the American girl nearly beneath him.

“I don’t want to leave,” she said, her voice quiet. Raven smiled and bent down to nuzzle into her neck, a light growl accompanying his words.

“Mmm, I know Cher, but you’ll see me again very soon.” Again his voice made B.D. shiver.

“Promise?” she whispered again.

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