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Story Notes:
To Keya, Kira, Sammy, Christyl, Frosty, Raeann, and J. Support, amusing stories, unending ideas. What would I do without you?

Sequel to Time of Your Life.
Just as vampires need time apart, need months, years even, to re-find themselves, need miles and miles of separation from their normal acquaintances to really free their hearts and minds to return to their previous form, these same vampires are inexplicably drawn back together when the time is right.

True, across the time and space between them things can happen. Sunlight can rear its ugly head and take out one or two, an over-zealous vampire hunter can try his hand at the immortals and for once end up lucky, but if life, or rather undeath, is still theirs, the vampires will come when the call sounds.

Often no one realizes the call has even been made until they are reunited, returned to a place dripping with history and memories, a place that welcomes none of their kind but them. Vampires do not only mark each other, building bonds with other vampires to strengthen themselves, but with the very Earth itself, claiming it as their own. And the Earth cradles the vampires to her warm surface, cooling their fevered actions with her dark night, calling them her children.

And so it goes.

When you feel all alone
And the world has turned its back on you


Anna had not faired well over the past years. She, among all the others, was too used to Pack life; it had been all she had ever known. The others, while accustomed to having the support of the rest of the vampires, had also experienced time alone. Not so with Anna. She had spent nary a night away from her family.

Life alone did not suit her at all. She prayed, actually lifted her voice towards a higher power that she didn't truly believe in, and even if it did exists, probably wouldn't listen to one such as herself, begging for their period of separation to end, for the time to come when she could be with hers once more.

When she found herself on the outskirts of Santa Carla, heading into the one place that had been home to her, the one place that had ever been home to her, she realized her prayers had been answered. Some higher power, whether god, or mother earth, had brought her back to where she belonged.

And so it goes.

Give me a moment please to tame your wild wild heart
I know you feel like the walls are closing in on you
It's hard to find relief and people can be so cold
When darkness is upon your door and you feel like you can't take anymore


Santa Carla teamed with people at night. They hurried around, calling out to each other, both friendly greetings and piercing cat calls which could very well lead to forays into violence later in the evening.

None noticed the heavy gaze following various people around.

Paul preferred it that way. He ignored their wild movements and actions, concentrating instead on the steady gush of blood through their veins. If he focused hard enough, he could pick out each individual pulse, then track it to the owner.

Tonight though he didn’t have the time or the inclination to attempt to follow any pulses, much less pick out a particular one to hunt. His mind was less than halfway on the sound of blood surrounding him, the greater part centered on the soft tugging at the back of his thoughts.

The call had brought him here, but he had found none of the others. So he waited. And now...now he could hear them again, a low thrumming, barely audible, but still there, strong and unwavering. Finally he would be reunited with his family. Finally they would all be together.

The separation had been nice. He’d enjoyed fooling around with a wilder style of life than the Pack ever offered, making friends...and enemies by the dozen. His victims came by the dozens as well, and many a town still hadn’t solved the rash of murders that swept after him wherever he went.

But enough was enough. That life could only be upheld for so long before he was ready to return to the safety and relative peace of his Pack.

Paul rose with a fluid moment, startling those around him, for they hadn’t noticed his presence until he moved. His laughter rang back to them, prickling their senses and warning them of what was to come.

For over forty years now Santa Carla had known peace. No longer was it the “Murder Capital of the World.” The residents, excepting a few knowledgeable outsiders, had all but forgotten about the group of hoodlums who rode bikes and disturbed the quietness of their town. This lack of recognition would not last for long, and would be punished greatly by the newly reunited vampire pack.

They had to reclaim their territory, remind the mortal gangs that their powers and their turf wars meant nothing to the creatures of the night who could and would wipe the humans out in a single night.

And so it goes.

Let me be the one you call
If you jump I'll break your fall
Lift you up and fly away with you into the night
If you need to fall apart
I can mend a broken heart
If you need to crash then crash and burn
You're not alone


And Star wasn’t alone; hadn’t been alone for this entire time. Laddie had remained with her, a sweet child, though his youth lasted for eternity. They had moved around a lot to disguise his lack of aging. It had bothered her to not be able to settle down in one area and play human, as their plan had been, but it hadn’t bothered her enough to send him away so she could play house.

And of course, her precious Michael had been there, teasing her when she missed the others so much she wasn’t sure if she could go on, tempting her with his heated caresses and sweet words of need, soothing her nightmares away.

How she loved him.

And loved being alone with him like this. Though she did miss the others, and did want to see them all, compare notes, hear how their time apart had been, Star wasn’t sure if she was quite ready to give up the freedom she’d had.

She knew she wasn’t ready to give up the life she had built with Michael and Laddie.

She didn’t have a choice. The call sounded, and they had to answer it. The other two, especially Laddie, seemed eager, rushing on with the drive each night. The closer they got to California, the more excited both males became, until they were jabbering on and on about what fun it would be to be with the guys again.

Star rested her head back against the cushioned seat and sighed deeply. The car they had originally started this adventure in was long gone, but she would have given up the elegance and industrial advances this car held in a moment just so she could be beginning an adventure alone with her Michael, not ending it.

Star allowed herself to mope and muse for the first half of their last night on the road, but forced her thoughts away from their melancholy stage when they entered the last few hours of the trip. She had no choice here, could do nothing by whining or allowing herself to be sad, so she wouldn’t be.

The pack...her pack was coming together again, and she would be happy about this, would welcome the others back into her life, no matter what the cost to herself.

Besides.

They would take another break from life together eventually. They had to. It was tradition. It was what vampires did; form a group, live together, end the group, live apart, return together. The cycle would happen again, of this she was sure. But for now they were entering their beloved Santa Carla. They were home.

And so it goes.

When you feel all alone
And a loyal friend is hard to find
You're caught in a one-way street
With the monsters in your head
When hopes and dreams are far away and
You feel like you can't face the day


Dwayne didn’t often feel like he couldn’t face the day. Despite the lack of leadership that he showed while with the other vampires, his silence hid a deep-set emotional strength that always seemed to carry him through the rough times.

These past few days, the last few before the Pack would be reunited, had been hell itself. For most of their time apart he hadn’t allowed himself to think of the others, especially his lovely Anna. But the moment the first echoes of the call had sounded, his thoughts had been turned to the others, to her,
exclusively.

This explained the pain dominating his emotions. But now...now he was back in Santa Carla, now he could feel them approaching, drawing ever near. He glanced around the empty cliff, the first to arrive at the oh-so-sacred spot.

Already tendrils of fog twisted about his black-clad legs, hiding him from sight from the waist down. The white smoke would rise higher, until he, and all the others, were enveloped with it from toe to head, and even higher, for the fog was the cave’s way of welcoming them home again.

And finally they would be home again. Finally he would get to touch his beloved, see her sparkling eyes, hear Paul’s evil comments, that were funny no mater how inappropriate, see tiny Laddie and his enthusiasm for the world. His family would finally be reunited.

Dwayne knelt, pressing both hands to the harsh soil. Very little grew up here, and he had always thought that the very ground itself showed the presence of the vampires. A mortal might have said it was tainted...he thought it was more territory marking than tainting.

The ground trembled under his fingers.

They were coming home.

The very Earth itself recognized the call and welcomed the vampires back into her womb.

And so it goes.

Let me be the one you call
If you jump I'll break your fall
Lift you up and fly away with you into the night
If you need to fall apart
I can mend a broken heart
If you need to crash then crash and burn
You're not alone


David broke the rules.

Of course, breaking the rules was a part of his day-to-day life, but he had broken numerous rules this time. If his Pack learned the truth, they might very well lash out at him, driving him away, for it had been he who had suggested the very same rules that he had broken.

Then again, perhaps they would find it amusing, laugh with him, not caring about anything in the thrill of being reunited. That would be the ideal situation. It didn’t matter, not in the end, how they would react though. He didn’t plan on ever telling them.

David hadn’t left Santa Carla.

Oh, he’d hunted elsewhere. Continued stories of inexplicable murders in the sea-side town would have caught the attention of his vampires, brought them back immediately, furious with his lack of respect for vampire code.

But beyond a few nights a week out on the prowl in San Francisco, David hadn’t left Santa Carla. He had secluded himself deep inside the cave, in the far reaches that not even Dwayne, Marko, or Paul knew about, and spent his time catching up.

Catching up on what, exactly?

Why, on his thoughts, of course. On vampire lore. On the world, past and present.

You might even say that David...well...he brooded.

It had never been done.

But David most definitely brooded.

Oh, not for forty years. That wasn’t possible, though the illustrious Dwayne might have been able to pull it off. David certainly couldn’t. He had other activities to attend to. There was the hunt, after all. And reading up on all the vampire stories contained on the brittle pages of the books in the library they had inherited from Max. It was all that the vampire had left for them by way of a legacy; boxes of crumbling books.

But these books held something far more important than any vampire fairy tale...or perhaps the fairy tale was the important part. For as David locked himself away from the world for nights on end, his vast knowledge grew.

David had finally learned the one thing that would ensure his leadership of the Pack forever; the one thing that would keep them safe for all time. The process was risky, complicated...and perhaps only a dream, some story to tell around the campfire at
night. It didn’t matter.

All that mattered now was that his vampires, his Pack had returned to him. He would hide his stay in Santa Carla very well indeed, so well that they wouldn’t guess he even had a secret. In time he would open up to them, let the others share in this awe-inspiring story.

David had found the secret to true immortality.

And for now he packed it away in a locked wooden box, slamming the lid shut and sending up a blast of dust. The power contained there was mind-boggling, might not even be worth the effort in the end.

Besides.

He had a group of vampires to reunite.

And so it goes.

Because there has always been heartache and pain
And when it's over you'll breathe again
You'll breathe again


“Dwayne?” David’s voice rang out and he was suddenly there, appearing on the top of the cliff as if he’d been right below all the time. Dwayne whirled around, eyes blazing red with surprise. It really was David approaching him, arms opening at the last second.

The embrace was gentle, a brief brush of arms, chest to chest. Nothing more, not from David. That would be too much like showing weakness, and Dwayne understood all too well that David could never approach something like that. It was just something you had to accept with him.

“How are you?” Dwayne stepped back, his lips quirking up just a bit as he spoke. David’s presence was strong in the area, as if he’d never been gone. It was nice to be welcomed so warmly by the very land itself, he decided.

“Good, good, and you?”

“Ready for this exile to be over,” Dwayne admitted with a low sigh. “Forty years is too long, David.”

“You know I don’t choose the time,” he replied. “It just...happens. When it’s time to come home...”

“You just know,” Paul interrupted.

Paul and David’s hug was much like Dwayne and David’s had been, but when the energetic vampire turned to his quiet friend, their embrace was fraught with emotion. Any lingering tension caused by Anna’s actions had been washed away in the years that stretched between then and now, a stream of years as long as the seemingly unending ocean.

“Welcome back, man,” Paul laughed, circling Dwayne and David easily. They let him, not bothering an attempt at calming him. It would do no good; besides, his brash energy was a welcome change to the quietness the rest of the world offered.

“Life treated you well then?” Dwayne asked almost eagerly. He glanced down the faint motorcycle trail, wondering just how Anna planned on arriving. She couldn’t show up a moment too soon for his tastes, but he knew that she would be there in her own time. Anna didn’t hurry for anyone.

*~*~*~*~*~

Anna hurried through the dark sky, flying mere inches above the tops of the trees that rushed by. She was in too much of a hurry to climb that extra few feet into clear air; it would waste precious seconds, moments that she could spend with her family.

She landed just inside the edge of the forest, taking a moment to smooth her wild hair, though it took both hands to try to tame the teeming mass, and the effort was mostly futile. Her gaze swept forward as she did so, and the three vampires filled her sight.

Anna remained where she was, drinking in the view. It had been so long, too long in her harsh opinion, but the rush that seeing them brought her was almost worth the years of loneliness. No wonder vampire packs split up if this was the end result.

Waves of loyalty washed over her, loyalty to herself, loyalty to her family, loyalty to her leader. The emotions she’d gone without for so long slammed back, filling her until she feared she would burst. No movement was possible under the deluge of thoughts and needs and wants and desires.

While Anna remained frozen, overwhelmed by her feelings, a car meandered up the once well-kept path to the top of the cliff. It stopped and Laddie launched himself out of the vehicle before the engine had stopped, flinging himself at Dwayne’s legs. Dwayne teetered for a moment but managed to stay on his feet. He bent over and wrapped his arms around the tiny vampire.

The reunion was going better than he had anticipated. Now if only Anna would show up, grace them with her presence.

The first twinge of worry twisted his stomach. Where was she? And for that matter, where was Marko? He normally would have been one of the first to arrive, so excited by the reunion that he could stay away no longer. Dwayne straightened up and tilted his head back to gaze at the starless sky, eyes dark with his sudden fears.

“Welcome home, Star,” David murmured, touching her hair gently. Star’s lips parted in surprise, but she found nothing to say and merely nodded at him. Her shock multiplied tenfold when David held out his hand to Michael so they could shake in greeting.

Michael kept his reactions in check, though he too
was surprised by the new developments. Apparently
David’s fierce attitude had relaxed in the years that
had passed...either that, or he finally had become insane.

“Where’s Anna?” Laddie chirped, glancing around the small group. His eyes settled on Dwayne as he waited for an answer. Dwayne could only shrug and look up to the sky again, waiting to see her form appear.

“I’m here.”

Dwayne’s head jerked around when Anna spoke. His gaze fell upon her just in time to watch her step forward out of the trees, hair sparkling in the pale light. She walked towards the group slowly, not hurrying, though it took all her hard-earned control to keep herself from racing towards them and tackling every last one in a giant bear hug.

“You made it,” Dwayne said quietly as she drew closer. Anna’s lips twitched, but the smile didn’t break free as it threatened to.

“Of course I did. You expected me not to?”

“No.” His answer was simple, but resonated with so many other things, so many emotions that he simply could not express. Anna finally allowed herself to look at him, and it was then that she finally relinquished her control. She was in his arms a moment later, face against his shoulder, arms tight around his waist.

The hug went on forever, and though it remained chaste, heat waves could almost be seen rising from their bodies. It was Dwayne who drew back first, letting his hands slide up until he could capture Anna’s, twining their fingers together. She smiled at him, finally, finally smiled at him, and then turned to the others, the expression never fading. If anything, it grew brighter.

“Welcome home, girl,” Paul clapped her on the shoulder after only a moment’s hesitation, a greeting that was less than what either wanted, but sufficient for their first time back together. After their previous actions, and the many years separation, boundaries were down and had to be redrawn.

“Thanks.” She grinned at him openly, not worried about what Dwayne would think, because there was nothing for him to think, nothing for him to be worried about. Paul returned the smile, but stepped back, giving the others room to say their hellos.

“Where’s Marko?” Anna asked once the formalities were completed. Dwayne shrugged, for she had echoed his own thoughts, and he too looked to the others for an answer.

“He should be here.” If anyone expected reassurance from David, it was obviously not going to happen. His light brows where twisted into a deep frown and he glanced down at his wrist as if to check the time, though no watch rested against his skin.

“Of course he should be here,” Anna remarked. “But he’s obviously not. The questions is, why not?”

Paul, Dwayne, and David exchanged glances. They, out of all the others, had been vampires longest, knew the most about vampire policy. None wanted to explain to Anna why a vampire wouldn’t answer the call. The thought of her agony at their words was almost too much to bear, as was the thought that something might have happened to their friend.

“It means he’s dead,” Laddie spoke up, his voice shaking roughly. Anna whirled around to face him, releasing Dwayne’s hands as she did so. The tiny vampire stepped forward and wrapped his arms around her waist, pressing his face into her side.

“What did you say?” she forced the words out, touching the top of his head lightly to get his attention.

“He’s dead. The only way a vampire won’t answer the call is if they are incapable of it, either severely injured, and even that won’t necessarily stop them, or dead,” David relieved Laddie of the duty of answering her question.

Anna winced, hands dropping to Laddie’s shoulders and squeezing gently as she tried to deny David’s words. “No, no, no,” she whispered, shaking her head frantically. “He’s not dead. We would have...felt it...or something...right?” Her eyes widened as she silently pleaded for someone to affirm her words. In spite of the brightness of tears in their blue depths, no one could give her the assurance she wanted.

“We’ll find out how he died, who did it...and they will suffer,” David promised his distraught vampires. Before any one of them could offer a suggestion, or even cry out their pain, a large object hurtled out of the sky and landed with a sickening thud in the center of their misshapen circle.

“What the hell?” Paul muttered, kneeling next to the lumpy form. He touched it softly, and it rolled, a low groan vibrating its throat during the move. Paul strangled and flung himself away from it, one hand clamped to his mouth.

“It’s Marko,” he gasped when he could speak again.

The flurry of activity that followed his announcement was a sight to behold. David, Dwayne, Anna, and Paul surrounded their fallen friend, checking his injuries, trying to ease his discomfort. Despite their best efforts, it was obvious he was dying even as they watched.

“Fuck,” Anna muttered, placing both hands against Marko’s head. The heat there was amazing, especially considering vampires didn’t get fevers, or even many known illnesses. “What can we do to help him?”

“Nothing,” David’s voice echoed his sadness. “Except put him to sleep-”

“We can’t just kill him!” Anna snapped. “There has to be something we can do.” She was on her feet in an instant, ready to attack anyone who dared try to put the vampire out of his misery, fully believing in the healing power of her Pack.

“Not kill him,” Dwayne touched her arm gently, directing her back to the ground. “Put him to sleep. A forced sleep, a rest for his body you could call it. Given time he might heal the damage himself.”

“Oh,” Anna whispered, then glanced up at Dwayne, eyes dark with worry. “What if he can’t?”

“Then he’ll die,” Dwayne stroked her cheek lightly, his own sadness at Marko’s condition multiplied by the agony filling Anna’s eyes. She pressed into his touch a moment, needing the reminder that they were still healthy, but turned away when David spoke.

“He might not die,” David’s face was as enigmatic as his tone, but he refused to tell them anything further until Marco was taken care of. All the vampires, including Laddie, Star, and Michael, pressed their hands lightly to his body then, trying their best not to cause him any more pain than they had to, and the ritual for forced rest began.

When you feel all alone
And the world has turned its back on you
Give me a moment please
To tame your wild wild heart


“What do you mean he might not die?” Dwayne was the first to speak after Marco had been set on one of the beds still residing in the main room. His body was covered in salve and wrapped in bandages to try to help the healing process, but none of the vampires held much hope for their effectiveness.

David said nothing, merely motioned for them to follow him back into the dark recesses of the cave. And follow him they did, deeper and deeper under the earth, through tunnels and past rooms that none of them had even heard mention of, much less put to use.

The room David finally entered was as dark and silent as a tomb, excepting the steady trickle of water down the far wall. He moved to one side of the room, a match flared in his hands, and suddenly candles lit, the flame jumping from one to the next in a manner that couldn’t quite be explained.

Rocks glistened around a small pool, the result of the water running down the wall. Where they stood, dry rocks circled around the damp ones, and books were spread along a large, table-like rock. David crossed to that rock, opened the wooden lock box, then lifted out the parchments inside until he could remove the book. He placed it on the dry rock and placed his hands on it lightly, careful to not scrape it along the rock, for its fragileness could be seen even from a distance.

“There is a cure for Marko,” he said finally, once the silence had grown to thick to continue.

“Well what is it?” Anna snapped when he said nothing more. David’s head lowered and his shoulders drooped for a moment. His eyelids fluttered closed as they waited for an answer, then snapped open again, revealing his cerulean eyes and the regret held there.

“We can save Marko, but to get what we need is a dangerous task.”

“It doesn’t matter, man, it’s Marko! Come on, David, stop holding back and let us know!” Even Paul’s usually even-tempered voice was out of control, though not loud, for the room would not allow an excess of volume within its walls.

Let me be the one you call
If you jump I'll break your fall
Lift you up and flay away with you into the night
If you need to fall apart


“We’ll do anything, you know that, David,” Star reminded him quietly. “Just like Marko would if it was one of us.”

“You don’t know that,” David argued. Was the life of one worth the risk of the lives of the others? Despite their desires, this was a decision he had to make, as their leader. As their friend. Never had he regretted his power more than now; regretted his search for knowledge.

“Yes we do. Tell us.” David caught Dwayne’s dark gaze, though no hostility resided with in. Only a deep worry, and the desire to see this through, to fix what was going wrong in their lives could be seen in his eyes. This was supposed to be a joyous time, not one of worry and pain.

David was the leader. Only he could decide this, no matter what the others thought. The risk was great, as he had said. Not all would survive this, though he could hope for the best. Marko would surely die if they didn’t succeed. The others might die even if they did. The decision was made.

“I have found the secret to our true immortality,” he whispered. All eyes were on him, each ear strained to catch his faintest word. Still David hesitated, for all his mind could think of were the risks. “It is far from here, believed to be only legend. But it can save Marko’s life. The search is dangerous; no one has ever succeeded...or at least never lived to tell about it. Do you still want to do this?”

Though no words were spoken, the room itself knew what their answer was. Lights sparked deep within the still water and it twisted suddenly, spewing a thin stream up into the air. This cave had been tied to vampires for millennia, and would help this pack as it had so many others before it.

David slowly flipped open the book and the others pressed close to see what they were searching for. Their quest for the elusive immortality of their kind had begun.

And so it goes.

I can mend a broken heart
If you need to crash then crash and burn
You're not alone


End


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