Baby, You're a Firework (private)

Rowan skirted the edges of Nachton's shadiest area, its most disreputable. He was off work following a 48-hour marathon. Exhausted, smelly, and sore, he needed to go home and rest. But first, blood had been necessary. Quick and cheap was the name of the game tonight; he had neither the strength nor the energy to spend time hunting.

It was fairly easy to skulk about this district even with his distinctive appearance; he had on dark scrubs but he'd worn a very light hooded shirt in to work. Short sleeves and a hood - who knew? It worked for him. With the hood up he covered his hair and piercings, and in black he became just another shadow in the night.

Maybe he had removed himself from this life, but Rowan wasn't a stranger to seedy sections of town. He understood all too well the area he was going into and he navigated it with the ease born of centuries of practice. No one was going to hurt him here, mortal or not. He was disturbingly at home... he hated that feeling. He didn't want to stay here.

Moving at a good pace but not quickly enough to draw unwanted attention Rowan was making his way out of Nachton's industrial area back out to the strip. His one thought was to get back to Liefde, to cleanse the stink of two solid days at the hospital from his skin, and find Cris.

He wasn't yet out of the bad part of town when he heard an odd noise, not unusual here, sort of like an animal being strangled. Rowan stopped short and hesitated before stepping forward again. There it was again. He gritted his teeth and wavered back and forth a moment before turning slowly and looking around.

It had been far off; not that close to him. There were one or two people in the alley he'd just turned out of but as he peered back in they shuffled along on their way, nameless faceless shades who were just trying to avoid attention like him.

Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Why was the hair on the back of his neck standing up? Rowan shook his head and turned to leave. As he did, a howl split the night air, piercing and desperate. It shook him to his bones. The shambling shades in the alley didn't turn, didn't look. They didn't want to know. Rowan didn't blame them. At one point he'd have done the same.

He couldn't now. The scream was cut off short, leaving nothing but an echo. Rowan started to walk, back into the alley, following the dying sound. It had come from above him somewhere. His footsteps were the only thing he could hear clearly, hitting the ground at a faster and faster pace as he rounded another corner, eyes trained upward, heedless of the trash he knocked aside as he now ran.

Someone needed help. Rowan was no hero, but the days when he would have turned a blind eye were long past.

Rowan Murphy 12 years ago
Rounding another corner Rowan drew to a halt. He was in a narrow alleyway between two moderate-sized buildings that may have once been warehouses. If he had to guess, and he supposed he did since he was currently guessing, the noises had come from around here.

But above him.

Rowan dashed for the nearest access ladder; every building had a rooftop exit and a fire escape. Even older ones like these. From the top of the building he might be able to see something or at least get a better idea where he needed to go. His shoes clattered on the rusty metal and in the back of his mind he warned himself to be careful of the corroded material. Nothing would suck more than severing his femoral artery while putting his foot through a rusted-out spot.

Halfway up the fire escape he heard another short scream. It was off to the side, probably on top of the building next to him. Shit. Turning to make his way back down the fire escape Rowan's attention was caught by movement atop the next building over. Light. His heart clutched and his palms began to sweat as he recognized the unmistakable flicker of firelight.

Was someone setting fire to that building? Once again Rowan wavered, pulling out his cell phone to call the fire department. He hesitated though. There was more movement from above. He watched in appalled horror as a flaming figure staggered to the edge of the building.

"No no," he said softly. His feet moved again and he ran full out down the fire escape, jumping down four and five stairs at a time, turning to look up at the building next to him whenever he could.

There was one more scream, a sound Rowan wouldn't forget for a long time to come, and the flaming figure plunged over the side of the building as he landed in a puddle of something wet on the ground. Rowan watched in shock as the body descended like a comet in the blackness of outer space. It landed hard about twenty feet from him, hitting an old dumpster with a wet cracking sound Rowan was all too familiar with and rolling, in flames, to the ground.

Rowan ran. Ripping his sweater off he figured it wasn't much but he might be able to pat the flames out if, by some miracle, this person was alive after that fall. He skidded to a halt, a wave of panic rising in his chest as he reached out toward the flames, his sweater over his hands.

"It's okay, it's okay," he muttered as he reached out, not sure who he was trying to comfort - himself, or the victim.

With a deep breath Rowan thrust his hands out, intending to smother the flames that licked at the few remnants of hair on the person's head. It was a gory, gruesome sight. He was trying not to look too carefully. He could smell charred meat, the acrid stench of burned hair and the unpleasant bitterness of some sort of lighter fluid. The scent of burning blood followed that and he clenched his teeth together and swallowed hard, trying not to vomit. He'd seen worse... but usually he got them after this part had happened.

He touched his sweater to the victim's head and felt it yield. That wasn't a good sign. He lifted his hands, swallowed again, and thrust them into the flickering flames further down on the person's chest.

The body dissolved into ash.

Rowan blinked. No, that couldn't be. He lifted his hands away, taking his dirtied sweater with them. There was no more body. No corpse. Just a pile of smoldering embers and ashes and charred scraps of clothing. He hadn't even gotten to see the person's face. The vampire's face.

Rowan stood quickly, moving his hands as if he could wipe the stain of what he'd just witnessed from his clothing. Something landed on the tip of his nose and he swiped at it. A piece of ash, fluttering down from the roof of the warehouse above him. He looked up to see more of them trickling down. Like snowflakes.

Among them was a fluttering piece of paper, flipping over and turning erratically as it descended from the rooftop. Rowan reached out slowly as it wafted toward him, as if wanting to be found. With a delicate movement, not sure if it was as charred as everything else, Rowan plucked it carefully out of the air. It was folded, its edges burned, but otherwise intact. It must have been in a pocket or a purse or something. He slowly unfolded it.

Thou hast gazed upon the mirror
Into thine own soul's disquietudes.
In the next sennight cometh your chance
For redemption. For cleansing.
Thou shalt be surrounded by thy neighbors
Deserted yet not isolated, raised up high.
Beneath the lurid gaze of the moon thy protector
Thou shalt shine as a star, and fall brightly to thy judgment.

Rowan read it a second time. A curious sense of something 'big' washed over him. He felt like he'd just stepped onto the set of a movie. Cue the dramatic music. But there was no music, there were just the distant sounds of passing traffic and sirens and the normal movement of the city at night.

He looked up. It wasn't as if he was going to see anything. Whoever had done this was long gone. But he had to, it was as if scripted.

Tucking the poem away in his own pocket Rowan moved toward the fire escape of the building the vampire had fallen from. He ran up it quickly, the metal rattling in a way that raised the hair on the back of his neck. Finally his feet struck the gravelly rooftop and he looked around.

There was nothing here. No evidence of any crime that he could see. The rooftop was clear, save for the doorway leading into the building. He walked to it, sweater wrapped around his hand, and tested the doorknob. Locked.

Moving to the edge of the building Rowan leaned over the side and looked down. Nothing, no one suspicious. He made a circuit, looking down around the streets on all four sides of the building. Also nothing. It was as if this hadn't happened. But he could feel the paper of the poem in his pocket and he could see the ashes below him.

What the hell had he walked into?
Serial Killer 12 years ago
There was nothing like the cool, delicious feeling of stepping into a fresh breeze after a hot-burning fire. It, like flame, was cleansing. A different kind of cleansing, but still relaxing, almost erotic.

The whoosh of sound as the vampire toppled from the roof covered the accompanying gasp of ecstasy from the lone figure remaining. It peered over the edge, watching in rapt fascination as the body plummeted, streaming ashes behind it, making no more sound until it hit the ground below.

It was beautiful. Death, the ultimate cleanser, always was.

The watching figure disappeared as the sound of someone running echoed through the narrow alleys. It carried nicely up to the rooftop, where unseen ears were still able to hear perfectly well. Someone had heard the screams. Someone who cared... how unusual in this part of town.

Keen eyes narrowed in on a tall man as he skidded to a stop by the smoldering corpse. He knelt and pulled off his short-sleeved hoodie, revealing a head of dark red hair. He hesitated and then pushed his sweater-covered hands at the charred remains.

They disappeared into ash, as of course they must. The inevitable freak-out, however, didn't happen. The redhead stood and stepped back. Curious. So... this one also walked on nighttime feet. Or knew of those who did.

The man looked up and displayed to keen eyes a heart-shaped Irish face framed by a dramatic haircut. The eyes were some indeterminate light color, the nose straight and the jaw somewhat fine. It was a memorable face.

He reached up and plucked the fluttering poem out of the air. What a perfect introduction! The hunter within growled its satisfaction. Usually after a cleansing, it was quiet, but seeing this man truly appreciate its handiwork aroused it somewhat.

The man began to climb the fire escape and the hunter knew the time to leave was now, before it was discovered. It stayed, however, hidden in plain view. The redhead was quickly on the rooftop. Curious thing, wasn't he, testing the door handle, peering all about the rooftop.

The hunter inside growled as it crept close to the tall figure who leaned over the edge of the rooftop. All it had to do was reach out and push and watch him fall, and fall, and wouldn't that be pretty?

So easy. So close... just a foot or two away and he would go the way of his predecessor.
Rowan Murphy 12 years ago
Rowan took a few moments to think. Contacting the police would be pointless; they wouldn't find a body. The victim was a vampire; clearly the Clans needed to be warned. They could look for missing members and maybe find out from there what had happened.

If he were in trouble, he would go to the Security head of the Clan nearest to where he lived. Well, that was fortunate. Rowan was pretty sure he could manage an appointment with Security at Liefde. He glanced at his watch. In, oh, a few minutes, really.

He hesitated to bring this to Cris; he didn't want to. He didn't like bringing trouble to someone he cared about. But if their roles were reversed, if Christian or one of his team were injured, Rowan would want them to come to him for treatment. It was his job, his duty, to heal his fellows. And it was Cris's job to keep them safe. If Rowan had any respect for his partner, if he had any respect for their relationship, he had to let Cris do his job.

He would take the time before he saw Cris again to analyze the handwriting on the paper; that much he could do. He wanted to bring Cris as much information as possible. He would also check the building one more time and take another look at the ashes when he went back down. There were clothing scraps that might hint at the person's identity or occupation.

Just then Rowan had the curious sensation of being watched. His head snapped up and he looked around. He didn't bother asking if anyone was there, calling out a greeting or anything stupid. His best bet was to gather the information he could and get home. He turned and paused, listening for any sound but his own. Nothing.

Huh. Well... look for clues, Rue, he thought to himself. He wasn't particularly worried for his own safety. This was the seediest part of Nachton there was; murder happened here every night. He could have walked in on a deal gone bad, a beat-down, any number of strange things. But a vampire had been killed, that was obvious, and that was a cause for concern. Their kind didn't die easily.

After a few minutes of a more in-depth search Rowan headed down the fire escape again. He looked for anything large enough to take with him from the ashes but just about everything had burned. Not even a piece of jewelry had survived, and even the ashes themselves were dispersing, blown by the little breezes that filtered down the alleys.

With a sigh Rowan tied his sweater around his waist and jogged back out the way he'd come, heading home to Liefde.

((ooc: Rowan out))
Serial Killer 12 years ago
He was so close... the redhead was so close, he could just reach out and push and it would be over.

That wasn't fun though. The hunter stayed its hand. Pulled back and withdrew. There was no catch without a chase before, no prize without a competition. They could forego their usual break and jump straight into another chase! That was exciting. Two so close together would be a challenge.

The redhead's head came up. The hunter was pressing its luck, staying so close. If the man was a vampire he would not be fooled for long. The taller man turned and they noticed he was wearing scrubs. He smelled of blood, of sickness and injury and sweat. How curious.

Do you feed off of the sick ones? Do you pet them gently and then eat them? Is that what you are? Or do you really patch them up and send them along?

His eyes, which they couldn't see before, were an interesting mix of green and grey. He sported multiple piercings in each ear and one in his nose. This was not a man they would have a hard time tracking down again.

He walked past, close enough so that the hunter could smell him again. There was a mix of lingering scents on his clothing, many of them, similar yet slightly different. The hunter called upon different senses, those of the truly supernatural, and looked at the man with otherworldly eyes. His needs became plain to them. A pair of strong hands, intimate hands. A quiet refuge, a place of rest and rejuvenation. He was going home, to someone he cared for.

They would have to find them, too. This would be so liberating, for all of them.

((ooc: The SK out))