This story is written for "The Slinky Challenge". All disclaimers apply regarding "Forever Knight and its characters. I don't make any money writing this story. I write simply for the enjoyment of putting words to page but mostly because if I don't, this story will keep going around and around in my head. All reviews are welcome. Thanks for reading my story.

A Gift From The Heart

By Bluemousey

It's midnight and I'm walking the streets in my new town. I've only been living here for little more than a month and already I know this town belongs to me. For me control has never been an option. When I see something I want, I take it, and this town was no exception.

Daytona Beach, Florida, is my latest feeding ground. The recent hurricanes have left a wake of destruction, unearthing a wealth of hunting opportunity. Wind-torn homes, broken windows, down trees, food and gas shortages, and no electricity drives the local populace to a panic driven frenzy. A natural disaster is like icing on top of any vampire's cake, and I was in love with the atmosphere. Of course, there is plenty of prey, more than enough for several vampires but I was never one to share. When I first arrived there were one or two 'small problems' to take care of, but a couple of wooden stakes and one exceptionally sunny morning and...poof, problem solved. I just love marking my territory, it's so very male, don't you think?

Now as I walk alone down the main street on the 'beachside' as the locals call it, I surveyed the crowd browsing for my evening meal. At first I didn't notice her lingering by the doorway of a convenience store. It was one of the few stores that still had electricity, and the locals were swarming in and out of it like bees in a hive. As I paused to observe her more closely, I saw her hesitantly ask one customer after another for their pocket change. She could not have been more than eight or nine years old. She was fair of skin and her long-blonde hair fell just below her shoulders. Light-blue eyes contrasted by the dark shadows just below them spoke volumes about her personal struggles. Yet, the patrons of the convenience store seemed not to take notice as they ignored her requests for aid.

Her garments were well worn and not at all what one would think a little girl would wear. An overly large tee shirt covered her from shoulders to mid-thigh. Whatever message at one time graced the front had long since worn away. Tied around her waist was a pink jacket. Her long colt-like-legs were clad in black leggings that stopped several inches above her ankles and cheap plastic flip-flops covered her feet. On the ground by her feet was a paper bag that I imagined contained whatever personal possessions she had. When her hands were not pleading for change she kept them occupied playing with a slinky. Passing the smooth metal coils back and forth from one hand to the other. I found I liked the singsong noise it made.

My observation and attention to this small mortal might have stop here, and indeed I might have forgotten her altogether if it had not been for the large burley male that approached her. He was so hefty in form he seemed to tower miles above her. Instinctively, she shrank away from him, pressing her back against the outside of the building. Although he made no aggressive moves towards her, he seemed to radiate menace through every pore of his being. I was immediately alert and ready for him to attack her. I heard him croon to her in a voice full of false concern.

"Hey there little girl. Are you all alone? Are you hungry?"

She shook her head, forming the word 'No' with voiceless lips. Her body seemed to fold further within its self. It was obvious she was too terrified to move or run.

Before I was even aware of making a conscious decision to intervene, I found myself standing directly behind him. I don't think either of them saw me move, and for several seconds he was not even aware of my presence. He spoke to her again.

"Do you need some money sweetheart? Why don't you come home with me?"

When he moved to grab her arm I made my presence known by locking a firm grip around his wrist preventing him from touching her. He jerked his head around in my direction. His anger was clearly displayed as his eyes met mine. I could tell he was ready for a battle and a little part of me was secretly leaping for joy. Yes, I wanted to say, fight me, hit me. Give me something to struggle with as I take your life one mouth full at a time. But I would not forget myself and display my true nature in front of this small child. I would not frighten her anymore than life had already. So, I did the next best thing, I 'convinced' him to leave her alone and to move on. His eyes were already locked to mine, and as I increased the grip on his wrist, enjoying the feel of his bones crunching in my hand, I could tell he was beginning to be afraid. Reality for him was sinking in through is alcohol-induced haze. He now understood that before him stood a being more powerful and dangerous than he had ever seen.

"Go home." I whispered to him. "She does not need your help."

His eyes glazed over and I could feel his body relax under my grip. His head tilted a little to one side before he turned and moved off in a slow gate down the street.

I heard the little girl sigh with relief and then a small "thank you" escaped her lips.

I looked down at her. She was so young, so beautiful. So much like another little girl I knew so long ago. Instant pain, hard and sharp stuck my chest. Suddenly, it was hard for me to breath. Tears I hardly ever shed threaten to flow. I needed to get away from her and quickly before this pain devoured me, but first I would right a wrong even further. I reached into my pant's pocket and pulled out all the money I had. A fist full of one hundred dollar bills. A night's worth of pocket change to me but probably a small fortune to this child.

"Here." I pressed the entire amount into her small and dirty hands.

She stared unresponsive at the crisp-dollar bills unable to comprehend what I had done. Light-blue eyes shifted to look back up at me for verification of my gift.

"Take it and go home." I ordered her. "The evening streets are no place for a child your age."

I turned to move off, the pain in my chest had suddenly made me hungrier than I was moments before. It would be unwise for me to linger in her presence much longer.

"Wait!" she called after me. "Please wait!"

As I turned to look back she approached me and slowly reached for my hand.

"Thank you." She said before grabbing her paper bag and racing off with her small fortune hopefully heading for home.

I watched her run down the street only to disappear moments later into the shadows of some storm-ravaged apartment buildings. Her little flip-flops slapped in time with her departing steps.

The tears I had been holding back could no longer be contained as I looked down at my hand. In it was the slinky she had been playing with earlier. I assumed this was her way of thanking me for help. I had to laugh a little. What the hell was I supposed to do with a slinky, I wondered? But of course I could never throw it away. After all, it had been a gift, and one from the heart.

The End.