She’d wanted to be different from the beginning; something special, something no one had ever seen before. To all appearances she was plain: reddish hair, cut to the shoulders, brown eyes. Short, muscular. One look and you would dismiss her as a rebel, with the big pantsand ADIDAS shoes and the silver pentagram that swung precariously from the chain at her throat. She wore a rhinestone studded collar, too, but it was the pentagram that got most peoples’ attention. Witch. Pagan. Liar.The best part of it was that the only coven she knew of had branded her a heretic because she didn’t cloak herself in black constantly. So she tramped through the hallways with her binder and pen-sketched clowns. Always wondering if she were special.

Art brought her to a sort of euphoric numbness that wiped all the doubts away. And acting. And dancing. Not ballet, but real dancing. That’s what she was doing, every Saturday night. At the Necromicon. An abandoned warehouse with a gothic décor and an amazing reputation for parties.

Firstly, she liked the name. Anything attached even remotely to Death beckoned to her; a sort of sick and twisted Pied Piper’s lullaby. Secondly, the club did a damn good job of making sure the cops stayed a good distance away, and that in and of itself made it attractive to her and her ilk. Thirdly, for some odd reason, the owner of the club (who she’d never seen) let her in for free. Every Saturday night.

So there she was, lost in the drum ‘n bass beat that coursed through her veins. Hair was pulled into twin braids tonight, that slapped at her shoulders and arms. She wasn’t a wonderful dancer, but then, what did that matter? A shock, then, when the circle widened to leave her in the center, still moving with liquid-gypsy motions to the music. One eye opened, then the other. They were waiting, and watching, in a hushed expectation. Moving, certainly, because the music dictated that they give in. But something was happening. Then he stepped forwards, away from the milling mass of black cloth and white-face paint.

Tall. Dark hair. Black pants and a red shirt. One lengthy palm extended itself towards her. Unconsciously she registered the streaks of paint across the top of his hand. A painter. And then they were dancing, not pressed together in hopeless lust, but feeling the sparks of mutual power. Feeding off of each other. The gathered seemed to let out a mental sigh of appreciation, before they split away again, to drift aimlessly in the current of rhythm. She reflexively started, though, when warm breath brushed across her throat.

“Blessed be, says the Horned God.” A second’s relaxtion, then she was tense again, mind whirring in speed-thought. They were still dancing, still spinning. “What brings you to my lair?” That was an odd choice of words. Reality set in, and she blinked a multitude of times.

“You own this place?”

“I do.” He broke away a moment, hands moving in synchronized movements. “You are a new face, without a name. Most who dance here are old friends.”

“Sirene.” She paused a moment to adjust the clinging fabric of her shirt. “My name is Sirene, I mean…”

“Ah. You sing?”

“No. Paint. Acting, mostly, too…” Innate obedience led her to follow him through the crowd, towards the back rooms.

“Interesting.” He shoved against the door with his hip, and in they went. Metallic clang sounded as the hinges swung back to their original position. Paintings were hung on the walls. A dying unicorn; a bleeding hart; a skeletal dove. Sirene sniffed delicately, catching the faint blue whorls of incense that drifted here and there. Her host turned and smiled, nodding politely. “I am Caanus.”

“Caanus…” She was lost to the paintings. Each seemed to jerk at some hidden chord in her chest. Especially the last, titled the Clan Triumphant. He slipped up behind her, kaleidoscope eyes glittering.

“You don’t belong to them, do you, Sirene?” Slender fingers found a hold on her throat. They were comfortable there, she thought. Not heavy, not feather-light. “Not to people, with their greed and their loneliness.”

“I’m human.” Shrug lifted her shoulders.

“I beg to differ.” Caanus retreated strategically, for she turned, braids whipping around in a chocolate arc.

“Do you?” Hope welled up for a split-second, then wilted just as quickly. “Don’t toy with me, you son of a bitch, because if you are…” Her palm snapped back in warning.

“You’ll what?” Immortal reflexes caught her hand as it came down. “Look at yourself, Sirene. So lonely. So tired.” Wolfish grin quirked his lips. “The fun is just beginning, and you don’t even know it.” Quick wheel brought her face to face with a locked door. Whistling innocently, Caanus lifted the key and slipped it into his pocket. “Stay a while. Listen to my story.”

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