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Kaitlin Vandussen

World of Darkness: Attrition - Escape From Vegas! (Complete)

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July 26th, 2011, Las Vegas

Giggling, the two athletic girls hopped the back fence of the luxurious residence, fleeing the yard-party they had crashed and raced across the rolling, moonlit expanse of the Las Vegas Country Club. After several dozen yards with no signs of pursuit, they slowed to easy saunter, holding hands, excitedly going over the loot they had swiped and hid in their purses and the celebrities they had seen at the party. A moment later, they stopped, falling into a passionate embrace, soft lips pressing against soft lips, tongues entangling.

They were young and beautiful and in lust, the night was late and pregnant with potential, and the neon jewel that was Vegas beckoned, home and playground both. The heat of the day dimmed with the setting of the sun and the night was their domain to roam, their favourite time to wander the city. They were free and wild with youth and though there were dangers sharing the dark with them, they scoffed at them, secure in the immortality of adolescence. Life was an adventure and though they both knew some for whom it had ended, surely it wouldn't for them.

Kaitlin sighed as the kissed ended and they continued on their way, slipping through the trees bordering the backs of the fine residences lining the golf course, basking in the night noises of the city that never sleeps. Through her lowered lashes, Kaitlin eyed the girl walking at her side. Madison was a few inches taller than her, willowy as a model and with a face that belonged on fashion magazines. Two months ago, they had gone to prom together, and before that, Madison had spent the semester chasing her. Kaitlin's cheeks reddened in remembrance, but her grin widened and she gave Madison's hand a squeeze. She might still have been embarrassed to discover the sapphic desires residing within her, but she certainly didn't regret them or the fun she had with Madison. Cock is fun but she knows damn well how to get me off better than any guy I've ever been with...

"So, what now, love?" Madison asked, blue eyes gleaming and dark beneath the stars, auburn hair dark and glistening under moonlight. "We can hit a club, but..." with a graceful twist of her wrist, she glanced at her watch, "... there's only a hour 'til close. I don't wanna head home before dawn, but I'm sure we can find someplace to have some... fun..." The throatiness of her voice and her hand on her ass gave no doubt to what she meant.

Kaitlin was in full agreement, heart pounding with too much excitement to return home for the night, despite the presence of a comfortable for them to tumble in. Not that finding a bed was onerous when there was always the possibility of some short-term squatting. And there were other benefits too...

"You're on, babe," Kaitlin agreed, green-gold eyes brightening as she noticed the open window of a house she had been keeping an eye on for a few days. It didn't seem like the residents of the fine home had been there for the last several days. Surely they wouldn't mind someone borrowing a bed for a few hours, and they could suffer the lost of a few small items, right?

Kaitlin pointed out the means of access with her chin, a wide grin on her face and a rising thrill beneath her breast. "I've had my eye on this place for a few days, Madison. Betcha ya they have a bed they aren't using. And maybe a few things they wouldn't mind losing so we have a bit more spending cash on our trip to LA?"

"Well, I did want to stroll Rodeo Drive..." Madison teased. She tilted her head down and gave Kaitlin a kiss, a thumb and forefinger tweaking a firm and perky breast. With her girlfriend distracted with the sensation, Madison chuckled and darted away. "Last one to the house has to take the loot to Greasy Pete the Pawn."

Kaitlin blinked, then snorted. "It's on!"

With her long legs and headstart, Madison was at the tall wall surrounding the house before Kaitlin was halfway there, but the blond girl was the stronger and more athletic of the two. By the time Madison dropped down the other side, Kristin had reached that wall and was hardly slowed by its height. With momentum and her hands, Kaitlin hauled herself up and launched herself off the top of the wall, coming down in a wall and flowing to her feet... ahead of Madison.

"You took the wall to slow, Maddy," Kaitlin opined, slapping the back door of the house with a smile. "But you're getting better."

Madison scowled, but stuck her tongue out at her. "You've been freerunning longer than me. But I'll catch you yet."

Both girls paused, waiting and listening for any sound from within the house. After five minutes, Madison nodded, indicating it was clear. Kaitlin leapt onto the railing of the deck, then made a short wall-run to boost herself to the roof of the of the breakfast nook. She gave Madison a hand up, then staying low, both padded to the open window. It would be tight, but they should fit. Kaitlin peeked in, and finding it clear, gave Madison a thumbs up, then pulled out a folding knife and flicked it open. With a pair of quick cuts, she cut an 'L' into the screen then slipped inside. A moment later, Madison followed suit.

The girls shared a grin then proceeded to explore the empty house.

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There was something... off about the luxurious residence, but Kaitlin couldn't put her finger on it. The place was sparsely decorated, spartan even, the furniture dark, heavy woods, old looking, Victorian. The deep pile of the Persian rugs covering the hardwood floors ate the sound of her and Madison's footsteps and the house was dark. There wasn't the single bit of light in the place, no bathroom light left on, even the glow from the digital clocks on the cable box and the microwave seemed muted and the girls needed to use their iPhones to look around without bumping into anything.

The place was immaculate, but impersonal, like a showcase room at Ikea, except for the vintage furnishings. There were no magazines laying around, no family photos, just some tasteful prints framed on the walls. No iPods or smartphones or other small, personal electronics in sight. The house was warm, oppressively so, with no air conditioning running. The bathrooms were spotless but devoid of any health and beauty care products, except for unopened bottles of shampoo and bodywash - there wasn't even a toothbrush. And there was something deeply disturbing about a fridge that was completely empty, its white light almost blinding on the pale tiles in the darkened kitchen.

It felt like no one lived here, like the house was still waiting to be occupied.

"Score!" came Madison's whispered exclamation from somewhere deeper in the house while Kaitlin was in the dining room, pilfering the hutch. Silverware - real, God-to-honest, silver silverware would be worth something. Kaitlin carefully wrapped them in a silken table cloth and stuffed them into her pack, leaving the case behind, then followed the sound of Madison's voice.

Kaitlin found Madison in the den, next to an ebony-topped bar, a bottle in either hand and a big smile on her face. "Lookit what I found, babe. The good stuff, and not even locked up." She tossed her head, flicking brown hair over her shoulder and tilted her phone, flashing the face down a short hall. "And the wine cellar is down there. What'd you find?"

"Silverware - that'll hock easy enough, and real silver too, not that electroplated stuff," Kaitlin admitted.

Madison snorted and jiggled the bottles. "Nyah-nyah, I win. So you in the mood for some over-priced grape juice or scotch?"

"Bleh! Stick with the scotch. 'Sides, some of these rich folks are anal about listing their wine collection." Kaitlin glided up to her girl friend, taking one of the bottles and breaking the seal before looking at the labels. She inhaled sharply, the air whistling pass her full lips. One was Highland Park, the other some Gaelic looking name and both were older than her and Madison put together. Kaitlin giggled. "Daaaayum! I think whoever lives here is gonna be missing these too."

"We better take the bottles with us, then," Madison suggested with a smirk, opening her own bottle. "Don't want to leave any evidence behind, right?"

"Well, of course, hon, that only stands to reason. Cheers!" They clinked their bottles together then took a long sip...

"Whew! Wow!"

"Smooth!"

"Tastes expensive," they both agreed, neither of them realizing just how expensive the scotches were - neither had ever fenced something like alcohol before. However, if they had, there was a high possibility they'd have drunk them anyway, just so they could say they had.

"Let's see what the master bedroom holds, hmm? Maybe play Goldilocks, and see if the bed is just right..." Madison suggested with a wink.

"Deal," Kaitlin said, giving her girlfriend a kiss and tasting the warm sweetness of the scotch on her lips. Giggling, the two girls headed back upstairs, their hands busy between sips of scotch.

The master bedroom was dominated by a massive, four-poster bed and a matching vanity of deep mahogany with a huge, tripartite mirror. The windows were covered by heavy velvet, blackout curtains. Kaitlin pulled them aside and opened the window, brightening the room with moonlight. Finally, here was some personal touches, if minor ones. The vanity held some cosmetics - Kaitlin never really used much herself, but she thought they were expensive, judging by Madison's appreciative murmurs and she plucked a few and stuck them in her purse.

More interestingly, resting in plain view on the vanity, was an antique jewelry collection box, rich cherrywood banded with gold-studded iron. Kaitlin would love swiping the box itself, but it was bigger than she was comfortable with and would be immediately missed... But a few pieces from the inside, maybe not so much. Even the lock securing the chest seemed to be old, since it took all of a couple of seconds to trip the tumblers. The jewelry resting inside glittering under the bright steady glow from their smartphones.

"Damn."

"Double damn."

"It's like the bitch who lives here believes nobody would ever dare stealing from her," Kaitlin whispered, her eyes wide on the sparkling treasure. Whoever these belonged too had great taste - the rings, bracelets, necklaces, and earrings were all obviously and masterfully hand-crafted, elegant but not in the least ostentatious, and old, the metal worn and smooth with wearing over time. "We... we can take all this, the rich cow will spend anything to hunt us down."

"Maybe not, but we can at least try them on," Madison countered, snatching up a fine golden chain from which hung a stylized cat's head pendant with emerald eyes, and clasping it around Kaitlin's neck. Madison gave the chain a jiggle, making the pendant tickle the inner slopes of Kaitlin's perky breasts.

"I'm not ticklish," Kaitlin protested, but couldn't quite stifle her laughter. "Ooooh, I'll get you for that," she swore, her hands sliding under Madison's shirt.

Between the scotch, the astonishingly soft bed and hormones, the girls didn't get around to trying out the whole collection of jewelry, but they didn't seem to mind. Their heads were buzzing pleasantly with alcohol and afterglow when they finally got around to putting the jewelry away - minus a few choice items, including the cat-pendant necklace Madison insisted Kaitlin keep.

"Ready to go, Maddy? I think we got a good haul for Pete," Kaitlin asked, a wide, satiated smile on her face. She didn't know why, but sneaking into an occupied house and fucking on the bed was one hell of a turn out.

"Almost," Madison replied, tugging her shirt back on. "First, I just want to take a peek in the closet, see what her clothes are like. Maybe a designer dress that'll fit you or me. And if she leaves a jewelry box just laying out there in the open, what does she keep in a safe, if she has one?"

"I'm not wearing another dress - the Prom was enough," Kristin said with a pout, but she got up and followed Madison into the huge, walk-in closet. It was quickly apparently whoever lived here was closer to Madison's height and build than she was to Kaitlin, and Madison was far more impressed with the variety of high-heeled footware than Kaitlin was as well. So Kaitlin pondered the high-end safe tucked into a corner while Madison debated what she wanted to take.

Suddenly, both girls froze, hearing a sound coming from downstairs. Click-clunk, creeeak, it sounded suspiciously like a lock being turned then a door opening.

"Shit!" Kaitlin silently mouthed at Madison, giving her a push to get going. "We got to get out of here."

But they hadn't even gotten out of the walk-in closet before they heard a pair of swift footsteps on the stair along with several light bumps, and barely had time to slide close the slatted door before someone entered the master bedroom. And she wasn't alone.

Hugging each other and kneeling on the carpet floor in the dark of the closet, feeling the wetness of the spilt bottle of Highland Park 40 Year spreading along the length of her shin, the girls realized their larcenous ways had finally caught up to them. It would take a miracle for them to get out of this without getting caught.

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There was a muted click-clack of high-heels crossing plush rugs, then a feminine figure - tall and elegant - strode into the room with surprising swiftness, hauling along a young man with a hand over his mouth and arm around his waist as easily as purse. Through the slats of the louvre doors, Kaitlin and Madison saw the moonlight glistening off her silken, black hair and dress and turning her her fair, flawless complexion pale as alabaster. The woman was striking, compelling... and then she turned and the girls got a good look at her face and that of her captive. Madison bit down on the hand over her mouth that Kaitlin had placed there to stifle her ragged breathing even as Kaitlin clenched her jaw painfully tight, clamping down on the scream rising up her throat.

The man, more of boy their own age, was cute, or would have been if his blue eyes hadn't been wide with terror. The woman, face projecting an ageless and sophisticated beauty, was wounded, terrible slashes running down the left side of her face, across her collarbone and down her flank, revealing the side of an immaculate breast, the seeping blood oddly dark and turgid. She parted her deep red lips, and Kaitlin and Madison watched in panic inducing horror as pale light reflected off a pair of extending fangs. The woman's - the vampire's! - lips plunged down and her victim sobbed, hands scrambling at his captor, as the fangs pierced his neck and she began to drink. Kaitlin's hand tightened, muffling Madison's squeal even as she bit down on her lip hard enough to draw blood. Oh shit! Oh shit! Oh shit!

The nameless young man didn't fight for long - which only heightened Kaitlin's and Madison's terror. His eyes rolled up in orgasmic bliss, a soft, ecstatic grin gracing his face, hands going from trying to push away to caressing his captor, his murderer. Worse still, the girls watched in fascinated dread as the monster's wounds closed right before their eyes, flesh knitting back into untouched perfection. Seconds or minutes or hours, Kaitlin didn't know how long they watched until the vampire drank her victim dry and raised her head, licking her lips clean of the crimson life feeding death.

A contemptuous smirk twisting those frightfully enticing lips, the vampire tossed the body onto the bed with disturbing ease one handed. Something like a sigh ran through her, though Kaitlin didn't see her chest rise and fall with mortal breath. With arrogant languor, the monster from myth and fiction turned her head to focus on her closet door...

Heart beating thunderously, sure the vampire could hear it like a siren's song, Kaitlin's fears lurched and staggered from 'Oh fuck, we're gonna get caught! Dad's gonna be so pissed!' to 'Oh my god! Vampires are real and they don't sparkle and she's gonna eat us we're gonna die, dead, for real! I don't wanna die! I'm sorry Maddy! Forgive me, Dad, that I never came home this time!'

Suddenly, there was a loud crash followed by a guttural snarl from downstairs and the vampire hissed in fury, spinning around in a blur, reaching for an endtable drawer. Heavy footsteps pounded through the house and up the stairs. The woman tore out the false bottom of the drawer, pulling out a flat box. As a huge man burst into the room, rather hirsute and ferocious, aided by the patch over an eye and black, sleeveless vest revealing the corded muscles of his arms, the vampire twisted back to face him, a pair of viciously curved daggers in her hands, gleaming like the purest silver.

Huh. Snake Plissken is hunting down a vampire, Kaitlin thought inanely, mind going into shock, feeling the wetness of Madison's tear on her hand.

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"Nah mo' runnin,' leech!" the scowling, over-sized Kurt Russel rumbled in a thick, southern accent. "T'night, mah teeth iz goin' tah tear yah black 'eart fro' yah chest!"

The vampire straighten, weaving sinuously, but the tight wariness never left her shadowed eyes. "Honestly, we are both predators here, Luna's child," the vampiress countered in smooth, aristocratic tones, but her forehead would be shining if she could sweat. "Do you fault me for eating, for surviving? In Nature, it has always been the strong who have fed on the weak. Truly, you are no different from I..."

"Wrong! Ah'm still survivin,' yah died many 'ears ago an' yah jus' never been put inna ground, 'til t'night."

Then he howled, reverberating and menacing and yet mournful, muscle and bone twisting and growing with audible snaps and crackles, height and bulk building up like a nightmarish storm-cloud. His hard face extended into a slavering muzzle full of teeth to dwarf the vampire's fangs, and hands lengthened into claws to do Freddy Kreuger proud. Thick, midnight fur sprouted everything, bristling without outrage - Kurt Russel is a werewolf! - and the hulking wolf-man chuffed in macabre excitement, promising the Final Death.

In comparison, the vampire was as delicate and beautiful as a dancer, yet she rushed the beast, fangs bared and her silver daggers raised like her own deadly talons. The werewolf closed the distance in a single lope and he howled again as the battle straight from a movie-screen began.

Kaitlin and Madison screamed.

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There was no elegance or beauty in the fight between the two living nightmares. The conflict was brutal, savage. The vampire woman was a barely discernible blur, her silver knives flaying furred flesh, leaving suppurating wounds behind; the werewolf Kurt Russel was a hulking juggernaut, his slashing blows heavy and vast, tearing devastating rips through his opponent's pale flesh, dark, thick blood spattering an oddly delicate patina on the walls.

The woman flowed to the far side of the four-poster bed, buying herself some space, but the werewolf growled, heavy wood splintering in his grip as he picked it up as easily as if it were an empty cardboard box and threw it across the room and through an interior wall. The vampiress hissed as if it had been a particular insult. Their backs turned to the closet, Kaitlin saw her and Madison's chance.

Almost paralyzed with terror, Kaitlin forced herself to her feet and hauled Madison up behind her. She could feel Madison's hand trembling in her tight grasp, amazed she even hand feeling in her fingers with the ice-cold fear coursing through her veins.

"Up, right, and through the window, Maddy. Don't stop, don't think," Kaitlin pleaded in a bare, shaky whisper. She felt Madison nod. "Now!"

Kaitlin slammed the sliding closet door to the side and sprinted for the open window, her bag slapping against her back, Madison right behind her. Time seemed to slow, every movement drawing Kaitlin's eyes with almost painful acuity. With deceptive casualness, the werewolf lashed backwards even as a glittering silver blade flew through the air in a languid spin.

Kaitlin ducked and rolled beneath the long, brawny limb, flowing back to her feet in one movement; glancing over her shoulder, a heart-rending cry burst from her lips. Madison wasn't so luck. Taloned fingers plunged into her flesh and ripped half her torso away in a gory spray of flesh and bone. The silver knife flashed across her throat, arterial spray striking Kaitlin across the face and shoulder with a sickening warmth.

In an instant, right before her eyes, her girlfriend had been taken from her, her life torn away as if she had been nothing more than a bug underfoot. The vampire-werewolf rumble hadn't slowed or stumbled for even a moment. And with a guilty pang constricting a heart welling with despairing loss, Kaitlin didn't slow either.

Her hands gripped the sill and launched herself out the second story window in a fluid dive-roll, a part of her hoping she would be smashed, broken against the ground.

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Kaitlin hit the ground in a perfect parkour-roll, rolling from her shoulder to the opposite hip and back to her feet in a single motion and didn't stop, wallrunning up the far wall surrounding the house, cat-leaping to the adjoining wall and popping over the top and slipping through the trees bordering the Las Vegas Country Club. Abject fear lent her feet extra swiftness, stripping away all extraneous flourishes from her movement, running and weaving around and leaping over obstacles in a seamless flow, with a captivating, animalistic economy of motion.

She scaled the barrier surrounding the Country Club as easily as if it was nothing more than a single step, feeling the warm blood on her face begin to cool and harden and crack from the night air and the speed of her retreat. She needed to get out of here! Any moment, there would be a gutted vampire or werewolf on the floor and the one still standing will want to silence the only other witness. Forever. She kept running, barely aware of where she was going, just knowing she couldn't stop for an instant, they could be behind her any moment.

But where to go? For all she knew, the werewolf could track her like a bloodhound. She couldn't go to the cops, they'd think she was insane! And from everything she ever heard, vampires always had influence with the authorities and politics. If she went to the cops with her dead girlfriend's blood on her face, she'd just be serving herself to the Vampire on a platter. And the trouble she was trailing behind her would only end up on her father's door.

The girl tumbled to a stop in an alley, hands knotted in her matted hair, hot tears dripping down her face and smearing the blood. If she stayed, the monster was going to get her, and go through her father and her friends on the way. She'd already lost one. The monsters could be anywhere, be almost anyone, just waiting for her, watching her and waiting to pounce. If she wanted to live, if she wanted her father to live, she had to leave her home. She had to leave Vegas.

As poor and as spontaneous as her decision was, it was all she had, something to get her moving through the shock. Kaitlin stood up, wiping her eyes on her shoulder and started running once more, taking a circuitous route back home. No way was she gonna make it easy for the blood-guzzling monsters to find her and her father.

Agile as a monkey or a cat, Kaitlin scampered up walls, jumped across roofs, ran through multi-level parking lots, and even entered massive, open sewer intakes, cutting through portions of the Underground City, hoping the enclosed air of unwashed people and the mustiness would help throw off her scent, skirting populated areas without actually entering them.

And yet, despite the familiar surroundings, ones she had played in since she was a child, the city felt different now, the angles askew. The night, a time of unlimited potential and freedom, now weighed down oppressively, the unlimited potential growing dark and the freedom no more than an illusion. Vegas was no longer the city she knew, grew up in and loved. It was a stranger.

She was panting deeply, sweat making the dried blood run down her neck and back, when she scrambled across the car-port and slipped in her bedroom window in frantic haste.

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In a panic-induced haze, Kaitlin tore through her room, yanking clothes from drawers, piling up sports equipment - various boards, rollerblades, shoes, and climbing gear - flipping her laptop close, and grabbing her few DVDs and CDs from the shelves, stuffing them into various sportsbags. She stared down at the mess on the floor, bigger than usual. I need more bags. Her exertions had made the drying blood on her face and shoulders run, trickling down her arm. I need to clean... clean this.

Shivering, Kaitlin padded into the hall, listening to the muffled sound of her father's snores, and slipped into the bathroom. She dived across the bathroom, tearing off her shirt and not daring to look at herself in the mirror, and leaned over the side of the tub. She pawed at the knobs, the water starting off icy cold before rising to a near scalding heat, and scrubbed her skin and clawed at her hair, trying to remove every trace of blood, feeling bile rising up her gorge at the sight of the pink-tinged water swirling down the drain.

Her face and shoulders a raw red from her efforts, Kaitlin brushed her head back and raced down the hall, using the newel post to swing herself down the stairs to the first landing. Another jump got her to the bottom and she ran into the kitchen, flicking on the light then pawing through the drawers for the box of heavy-duty garbage bags.

The box in hand, Kaitlin spun around, about to dash back upstairs when she saw her father standing in the door-way. She froze, quivering, the garbage bags falling from her hands and spilling across the linoleum floor. Her large gold-green eyes were wide with panic, shame, and fear.

"Kaitlin? What's wrong, honey?" her father asked, leaning the baseball bat against the wall and stepping close to give his daughter hug.

To his amazement - and rising concern - Kaitlin fell into his arms. Crying. He enfolded her in his embrace, holding her tight, his worry deepening, exhaustion and sleepiness fading in the face of Kaitlin's distress. His daughter never cried. Screamed, yelled, cursed, yes, but tears never fell, even when she had first broken an arm when she was six when she had jumped off the carport or when her mother, his wife, left them when Kaitlin was two and never came back. Oh, honey, have the things you get up to in the dark that I don't want to know about finally go too far?

"You can tell me, my little Kat and I'll do whatever I can to help?"

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From the comfort of her father's solid embrace, the smell of his sweat and aftershave a soothing balm, Kaitlin looked up at him, her green eyes reddened by tears. She so wanted to tell him, but her tongue caught in her throat. Though she had never told her father everything, she had always she could have told him anything. Yet, she couldn't bring herself to tell him what had happened this night, what she had learned existed in the night. She flinched in his arms, again feeling Madison's warm blood splattering across her face.

If she told him what really happened, one of two things would happen. He'd think she was completely nuts or making something up to cover up what had happened to Madison, which would hurt. But what would hurt far more is if he believed her. She'd infect him with her own fear, the hopelessness of knowing that they didn't rule the night, that monsters really did go bump in the dark. Her father was a security at one of the casinos, but how could he ever feel confident doing his job when at any moment a vampire could latch onto his neck or a werewolf knock his head off with a single swipe? And he would never let her run out on her own. Both of them would be caged, chained down by fears of knowledge.

She couldn't do that to him. She couldn't let him take the burden of what she had witnessed by snooping around where she didn't belong. So... she would give her father the gift of ignorance. They say it's bliss. Kaitlin forced herself to let go of her father, rubbing her eyes with the heel of her hands and swallowed, trying to work the dryness from her throat. This was going to be hardest thing she had ever done in her life.

"Dad, something... really bad happened tonight. Madison, she didn't - she didn't..." Kaitlin began in a quavering voice, but couldn't finish, a new tear trailing down her cheek at the sight of her father's sympathy. She angrily scrubbed it away with the back of her hand. What, you didn't think you'd end up seeing blood in this city when you go poking your head in wherever wanted, you stupid bitch? I never thought the blood would come at the hands of real monsters! "There's... there's... " There's vampires and werewolves. Out there. In the dark. Ruling the night.

With a visible effort, she collected herself enough to continue, forcing an uneasy smile on her face. "Y'know how I was gonna head to LA the day after tomorrow for the X-Games? Well... I'm - I'm gonna leave now, as soon as I'm done packing, I'm going today, this morning. And... I think I'll be staying there... for a while..."

Kaitlin almost cried out when she saw her father's face stiff, the bleakness in his eyes. She knew what he was going through his mind. Just like his wife, his daughter was running out on him. The most painful part was... she was, and she couldn't, she wouldn't tell him why. His hands balled into fists at his side, and through tight teeth, he said, "I see. Can you at least tell me why?"

"No, I - " At that her father did turn away from her and she cried out, grabbing his thick shoulder and pulling herself in front of him, blocking the exit to the kitchen. "I can't tell you, Dad, but I swear, there's a reason," she pleaded, her hands tight on his shoulder. "And I promise, someday, I'll come back, I will. No matter what. I love you."

For a long moment, Reynolds Vandussen avoided his daughter's eyes, just feeling the abandonment welling in his chest once more, fearing like the mother, so the daughter. But he hold the pleading in her voice, the terror in her shaking hands. He met her eyes, and say the love and determination and fear in them and his heart relented, Kaitlin might have been a wild child, fickle even, but he could see he mattered to her, that this hurt her as much as him, but believed it was necessary still.

He pulled her back into an embrace, holding her tight, as if he would never let her go, and she hugged him back just as tight. "I love you too, my little Kat. I don't know all that's happened - and I'm not sure I want to - but I'm holding you to your promise. You better come back home, someday."

"I will, I will, I will," she promised, her face pressed against his chest. Even if I have to fight an army of vampire and a pack of werewolves, I'll come back!

"Okay then!" her father said gruffly, a suspiciously wet gleam to his eye. "Let's get you packed up. The sooner you leave, the sooner you'll be back."

Her giggle was weak, heartbroken, but it was best she'd felt since this night. With her father's help, she got packed her car with most of her belongings by the time the sun was coming up. Garbage bags full of clothes, cardboard boxes and sporting equipment stuffed the rusty, Camry stationwagon to capacity. The time had gone by quickly, and not quickly enough, yet with the sun coming up, she felt marginally better, the light pushing away thoughts of monsters lurking around every corner.

She gave her father another heartfelt hug, reiterating that she would be back , then slid behind the wheel. With a cough, the engine rattled to life. She busied herself with the interior, checking the radio, the wipers, anything, until she couldn't delay any longer, and hesitantly met her father's eyes. "If... if you hear anything... about Madison... can you call me? I - I just want to know."

Reynolds ruefully shook his head. He didn't really understand girls who liked girls that way - and he certainly hadn't expected his daughter to be one such - and even less about Madison, but as long as she enjoyed herself, he didn't see what it could hurt. He gave a Kaitlin a solemn nod. "Of course, kiddo. As soon as I hear anything, I'll call you."

"Thanks, Dad. Well... here I go." Kaitlin couldn't bring herself to actually tell her father 'goodbye.' "Maybe once I find a place in LA, you can visit?"

"I have some sick days left, Kaitlin. I'd like that." Reynolds was no better at goodbyes than his daughter. He slapped the hood of her car, which gave an ominous rattle, then waved. "Always wanted to see the ocean."

And with that, Kaitlin fled Vegas, her home and her father, and the existence of myths made real, the sun rising behind her. She cruised down the I-15 South to the sound of The Kids Aren't Alright. The world was suddenly smaller and yet larger than she had ever imagined it could be. Now, she had to figure out her place in it.

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