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NATALIE!!! 😀 Here is the winning entry for my fanfiction/fanart contest! Since nobody sent art (waahh!!) Nobody wins for that category but the winning fanfiction entry is “Reaction!” Natalie wins a copy of Dreamhunter and a cute vampire cupcake button!

Congratulations!!

Here’s the winning entry! It will also be posted on my site. 😉

Author: Natalie C.
Title of Work: ‘Reaction’
Characters: Auris, Tiffany, other childer mentioned and two very different vampires.
Link: http://clockworklady.livejournal.com/
Word Count: 2122 (4 A4 pages)

Reaction

“Things just can’t stay this way.” Auris said to himself, shaking his head as he lifted his childe to the sitting room.

Terrence had just placed Tiffany in Auris’ arms and moved to turn on the kettle. “This can’t keep happening. This is a risk to her and to all of us.”

“What can you do? You can’t lock her up and we all have lives of outside of here.” Kizu, as always, had a point. She wasn’t putting anything on hold just because of possible danger and politics- after all, she had to face them in the mortal realm.

Emma leaned back, hands on the table; she always had too much grace to shrug her shoulders. “I can’t stay here, I have my own brood.”

It was only when Auris hauled Tiffany onto the couch that he finally had a brainwave.

“Terrence, consulting detective,” he called to the kitchen, “put me in touch with your brother.”

When Auris saw what appeared to be an abandoned dilapidated shack, he knew Terrence had given him the right address.

After knocking, he received a note under the door:

‘Where do you sleep?’

Auris was relieved that someone who had helped him out once before and Terrence out many times had the common sense to change the password every now and then. He wrote back

‘In a tub at the marketplace.’

Locks quickly slotted open and a charcoal-sleeved pushed open the door.

“Auris! Thank goodness!”

“Did you miss me, Mycroft? How’s Danielle?”

Tiffany was smart enough to bite her tongue but couldn’t stop her eyes blankly scaring at the bald, scrawny creature greeting them in a refined voice.

“Michelle Holdcroft, to be accurate, but you can see why it’s shortened. Sherlock’s been behaving himself?” Articulate and feminine, for withered lips with two teeth missing. Pale skin was nothing new amongst vampires, but this was downright grey…except for the scars, of course.

“As much as he can for his age and profession,” Auris returned the grin, turned to Tiffany and patted her shoulder to break the trance. “You see…a very small percentage of the Turned population have a…”

“Allergic reaction. Don’t worry, we’re not contagious. Our health is actually pretty good, considering most of us don’t have shiny hair or clear skin.” That established, Mycroft held out her hand. Politeness aside it was clear that Tiffany wanted to get back in the car, but if a staggering hangover wasn’t enough hindrance, Auris was there.

This new one must be Tiffany. Terrence filled me in on her history, but calling her by name right now would be creepy. Well, creepier than an open-mouthed smile from me, anyway.

Tiffany slipped back into her daze, only to perk up on a very plush crimson sofa to Auris saying “I’m not surprised. Good to put people off from setting up camp inside or buying up the place.”

“Sorry, we’ve only got ‘cask’ right now,” another voice was chirruping. Pink gloves were squeezing a red plastic pouch on the other side of the coffee table. “But we do have proper wine glasses!”

The new speaker was beginning to come into focus. No wrinkles, there was something slightly…green about this…allergic vampire? The word ‘burnish’ came to Tiffany’s mind, it sounded like something Isaac would say. There were ‘burnishes’ and tears all over the arms where the gloves didn’t cover. Stringy dark hair, greasy on top…no eyebrows. Pits over the face, a nice smile, but still un-nerving.

Was this…girl actually wearing a purple dress and a string of big sky-blue beads? Were those blue ribbons? Why was her hair plaited that way- it clearly didn’t hide the large bald patches…or was that beside the point?

Mycroft had removed the hood, but kept the long coat on. It was actually a stylish trench coat, the type worn by over-ambitious twenty-somethings or confident thirty-somethings. She thankfully wore long trousers, probably part of a suit, also charcoal- though her knobbed knees stood out when she changed position. She waited for Auris to pick up his glass before she took hers, answering,

“When you have many years, and hobnobbing with the beautiful people isn’t an option, you want to put them to good use. Danielle’s getting her degree online, I share every tidbit of knowledge I can wrangle in freelance articles and stories everywhere. Living in this area, I’m usually the first to know about dealings in the, ahem, ‘illegal field’ and tip off to law enforcers I actually like. I finally finished the kitchen myself the other day. If I had to, I could get enough rats to feed three for a week in one night.”

The one with pink gloves, that must be Danielle, noticed Tiffany could hardly hold a glass now and gently placed it in front of her instead, reassuring

“Ha, don’t listen to her! That’s only if there’s nothing in storage and our couriers are too busy for a milk run.”

“Couriers?”

“Yup, even though we can’t go outside ourselves without shadows, a few good and perpetually broke souls take care of the daytime stuff, and one of them’s a night owl. If you’re going to stay, I hope you don’t mind taking care of the shopping we can’t do online. See, the public tend to call us ambulances…and that’s if they’re nice people.” Dani’s forehead seemed to scrunch up but Tiffany realized she was raising non-existent eyebrows. She scratched a ‘burnish’ with one finger, and it bled slightly.

“Dani, if you’re going to scratch, wear the cotton gloves. You wouldn’t have so many sores otherwise.” Mycroft had an unfortunate habit on jumping on any health risk she saw, no matter how indiscreet the circumstances were.

Danielle pouted, but it looked like a twisted sneer. “I don’t care if you were the EMT. Pus doesn’t leak through rubber!”

“Tiff- bathroom’s in that direction.” Auris’ hand pointed…just in time, it seemed.

The only sounds heard in the lounge room were those echoing unpleasantly across the hall.

“My apologies, everyone. I’m fine with the jokes about my gross shortcomings, bring ‘em on, but not the public service announcements.” Danielle spoke stiffly before forcing a smile. “After all, I think the public can see them well enough!”

“Don’t worry about it, Danielle. Tiffany shouldn’t have gotten so drunk in the first place.”

The rubber-gloved ‘allergic’ chewed her lip uncomfortably and busied herself in her kitchen. Despite Auris obviously not blaming her, Dani felt it best to let the two get down to business.

While there was no contract in front of them, Mycroft took notes of Auris’ proposal, and put the pad to one side after she had finished nodding.

“Just to be clear: are you punishing her?”

“No, I was hoping she would learn how to look after herself.”

“I’ve got nothing against a punishment that teaches her some responsibility, but wouldn’t her washing our windows for an evening be more appropriate than staying here until you’re satisfied?”

“For all of her hard life, Tiffany’s coped very well, but she’s still young. These recent incidents, and these dangerous times we’re heading into- she needs someone who always has one eye on her.”

“I see.” Despite Mycroft’s opposite intentions, she knew adding And you can’t always be there would come across as scornful. “Don’t worry, even when we’re both asleep, we usually have a girl named Hannah here. And, while we’re busy, it’s not like…”

She trailed off but both of them were very aware that the ‘allergics’ never Turned a childe. Everyone was sure someone had tried it, but no one knew the result- an allergy shouldn’t be contagious, but why risk doing that deliberately to an innocent life? Many of the vampires that sired them were always remorseful- and either showed it by providing every resource needed or running when the poor nosferatu was shivering in a pile of vomit, tears and hair clumps.

Mycroft had been lucky, and many years later, saw that a tiny form slumped in the street hadn’t been and promptly carried her home. Danielle, as it said on her student ID, was torn between scraping her wiry remaining hair with a metal lice-comb, losing most of her weight from vomiting and constantly cleaning the bathroom for two months. The illness and very strong cleaning chemicals made her break out in hives and pustules. The itching was only starting to go down now. Despite all this, and her sensitivity to people bringing up her symptoms seriously, Danielle had adjusted, managed and thrived. She even stopped rolling her eyes when Mycroft lectured her about ‘treatment plans’- well, Mycroft was pretty low-maintenance in everything else. As long as the house was clean and secure, and all the occupants were happy and ‘healthy’, that was important.

There was no way to cure the condition. An allergic was healthier when well-fed on healthy blood, but the skin ravages never left and any hair, teeth or even limbs lost could hardly grow back. It had taken long enough for Kizu to get a working eye again and she was in peak condition. Ideas of total blood transfusions were thrown around, but any consequences were yet unknown. Public opinion contorted: some wished for no mention of the ‘infected’, some enjoyed having a ‘disgusting’ population to feel contempt for and others romanticized the allergics into some of the wisest, bravest and kindest of all vampires. It was hard to tell if the name ‘Nosferatu’, after the famous film character, was applied with affection or scorn, and the Nosferatu themselves were very divided on the matter.

“Bring her things over tomorrow. I’ve already got a room set up, and she can meet the couriers over the next few days. If she wants to leave during the daytime, she would have to wake one of us up to bring the house out of lockdown. Your idea of her being in a safe place, taking on responsibilities like an adult, carries good intentions but I’ll let you know if they form a dangerous path for her. If I don’t reach you within a week, I’ll call Terrence. If you change your mind tomorrow, take her home at this time. If not, I’m expecting you to stay with her until she understands you’re not abandoning her. How long do you want her to live here?”

Until all the unworldly dangers are done with. They both knew the real answer, and Auris barely remembered his half-hearted one.

“Hey there.” Danielle’s voice still had some of that chipper quality (so, it was genuine) but was calm and inoffensive. A plastic bottle with clear liquid appeared on the sink next to the toilet Tiffany crouched over.

“Don’t worry, it’s not paint stripper, it’s flat lemonade. Sorry for overloading you back there, we’re so used to the gallows humor by now. It could have been worse, you could have met Kurt. He actually does the whole Vampire: The Masquerade stereotype: he lives in a sewer, can recognize types of rat by flavor and the smell makes other allergics turn greener.” Probably not the smartest thing to say, she decided, but it could hardly make the poor girl any sicker than she already was. “I think you would like him though, despite the gross-out routine, he actually is funny. Kurt usually turns up on Fridays and stays for a few hours.”

Maybe holding back some of that hair would help. Sure, it clearly needed a wash anyway, but goodwill is goodwill. Dani decided to wear some softer gloves- still hygienic but unlikely to be cold and slimy- and put them over her rubber ones without realizing. Why hadn’t she thought of that before?

“Thanks, Tiffany. You’ve just inspired a way to get Mycroft to shut up about the gloves. She’s been doing it for months now!”

Wait a moment, stop crowding her. That’s…long enough.

“Since you’re staying the night, I’ll take you to your room some time later- it’s the cream one with green curtains. In the meantime,” Dani opened the shower door, “all the towels have been freshly washed.”

Tiffany got up, washed her mouth out in the sink and took the bottle. The tang stopped the sugar in the lemonade from choking her. She tilted her head at the glass door.

“There’s a lot of shampoo in this shower.”

“Well, my hair has a lot of grease in it.” Dani sounded almost normal when her peppiness came with a side of self-snark.

“Thanks.”

“Do the same for me one day.”

Of course, there was no guarantee that Tiffany was entirely safe from the remains of those with hunter mentalities or the Puhrum, but for that moment she was safe from herself and for Auris, Emma and Tiffany’s beloved siblings, that was enough.

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