This work of fiction is rated R for violence, language, and adult situations (if not in this chapter, in others). You've been warned.

The characters from Moonlight are copyrighted by CBS, and no infringement is intended.

This work follows the events of "Within the Empty Reaches of the Night," and you might want to read that one first, if you haven't. Yes, it's another Freshie Fic.


Chapter 1

For the first day or two after the attack, Lucky had barely opened her door. After calling work, and telling them she had a raging case of the flu and would be out all week, she'd turned off her phone, shut down her computer, and hidden. She closed the curtains, turned on no lights, no television after dark. At first, she was able to keep her mind in a comfortable white fuzz, no thoughts, no memories. It was all she could do to make herself eat and drink a little, but somewhere underneath the haze, she knew she would survive this, and she knew her body needed basic sustenance. Later, she thought she recalled sleeping a lot, but she was never sure about that. She suspected she might have spent just as much time staring off into space. A time or two, she thought she might have been dimly aware of someone else in the apartment, but for some reason, if this was true, she felt no fear of whoever it was. If it was someone wanting to kill her, then he could kill her and be done with it. If not, then it made no difference to her. She didn't care.

On the third or fourth day after the attack, she woke up, feeling calmer and more herself than she had for days, shrugged on an old bathrobe, and came out into the living room. Josef was sitting on the couch, waiting with that patience she'd noticed before. He often appeared hyper, talking too fast, moving too fast, but she'd also seen him go as still and watchful as leopard waiting for passing prey. He was watching the bedroom door as she came through. Of course, she thought, he knew I was moving. Lucky tried not to let anything—surprise, pleasure, fear—show on her face. She was feeling an odd mixture of

all three. She wasn't sure what she ought to be feeling—fear of the vampire, or pleased that he had come to see her, definitely surprised to find he'd entered her space without her being aware of it.

He waited for her to sink into a chair opposite him, waited for her to be the first to speak. They shared a long moment of silence, while she searched for the right thing to say. She finally went with simplicity. "Josef," she said, with no trace of emotion in her voice. "Why are you here?"

He shrugged. "Your phone is off, babe. I'm told you're not answering emails or im's. The day watch says there's no evidence of movement, and the night guys could only tell me you were here because they heard your heartbeat. I was getting—concerned."

She knew the surveillance was to protect her, she knew it was evidence that she was still valued. Nevertheless, the idea of it, the invasiveness of it, made her want to strike out at someone. Invasiveness was about the last thing she needed right now. What had been done to her body was bad enough, but this was getting into her head. Far worse. Even so, Josef seemed like the wrong target. He had left her no doubts that his intentions were, if not what was generally accepted as good, at least in her best interests. "I don't know what to say. I didn't mean to worry anyone. I just wanted—" the tears were rising again. "Oh, damn, I don't want to keep breaking down, Josef." She paused and took a deep breath. "I just wanted some time to heal, some time to be alone."

Josef looked away, and she realized he still felt responsible, still felt guilty, for what had happened. He spoke softly. "I think you may be entitled to a few tears, Lucky."

They sat in silence, for a while, lost in separate thoughts and unspoken words. Once Lucky had had a chance to settle herself, she found she was taking a strange sort of comfort in Josef's presence. It was restful, sitting across from him, and she felt utterly safe. That seemed odd, because always before, when they'd been together, it had been about excitement, and blood, and the pleasure and pain of his attention. Being with him was like handling a straight-edge razor. If you were careful, it was all right, it was fabulous, but the slightest slip could lead to…consequences, from a careless nick to a sliced open heart.

She'd had more than one cut from that blade, and she remembered each of their encounters with some residual heat. They stood out like individual drops of blood strung along the skin of her arm. That surprised her. After her experiences with Lunos, she'd have thought she could never consider the idea of a vampire's kiss again without abject fear. She took out her memories of Josef, and of Mick, ran through the images in her mind and found that her recollections of them were all good. Mick was always considerate when he fed, as gentle as possible. And Josef. Josef could make every encounter into something intimate, something to be sought out and enjoyed again. Perhaps it was the centuries of experience, perhaps it was the way he focused his attention on whatever woman he chose, but he was irresistible. She stole a glance up at him, and blushed to discover he was staring at her, listening intently. She realized once again that he knew the blood pulsing through her as he knew his own. It was his own. The reality of their blood bond—she'd never given it much thought before; the vampires usually didn't stress that too much with freshies, especially non-exclusive ones, but everyone knew there was something there. Once they'd fed from you, once they'd tasted you, they knew you, knew how you worked, knew how you thought. She knew, here and now, there was something there. And she knew he knew it too. She bit her lip, embarrassed.

Josef cleared his throat. "As pleasant as this is, my dear, I did have some object in coming here," he said. Lucky looked up, startled. Surely he didn't expect to feed on her—not now, not so soon. He went on, "I wanted to ask you if you could stand a little company. Mick had instructed the rest of the girls not to bother you—it did seem obvious you wished to be alone—but I think the time has come for you to let us take care of you."

"It's really not necessary, Josef. Really."

Josef shook his head and chuckled. "Knew you'd say that, Lucky. It's not optional. Not this time. I'm not sure who's coming. But a couple of Mick's girls will be here. Today. And you're going to let them in. Clear?"

Lucky nodded. "All right, Josef." If her voice was a little wobbly, he ignored it. Rising, Josef came to stand before her. It was difficult for her to read what was in his eyes, and his face was serious. He inhaled, carefully, taking in her scent. Then he reached out and laid his smooth hand against her cheek, gently, before he turned and left.