Summary: A vampire killer with particular tastes terrorizes Bludhaven, but is someone pulling the strings?

Author's Note: To avoid confusion, all times given are Eastern Standard Time.

Disclaimer: Nightwing is owned by DC Comics and Time/Warner; Angel and company are owned by Joss Whedon and 20th Century Fox; this is an original story that does not intend to infringe on their copyright. Constructive feedback is welcome!

Copyright January 2002

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Nightwing/Angel: Shadow Dancing

By Syl Francis

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Somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean

[Monday 2200hrs EST]

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"Do you understand your instructions?"

MacElvany jumped, sloshing the hot coffee on his lap. Overcompensating, he lost his grip on the delicate cup and saucer that he'd been clumsily holding. He watched, horrified, as the priceless pieces fell and shattered on impact. Squeezing his eyes shut, he waited for the inevitable tongue-lashing.

When none was forthcoming, MacElvany timidly looked up into his employer's cold, green eyes, which glared balefully from underneath dark, shadowed eyelids. MacElvany's Adam's apple bobbed nervously. He returned his boss's stare--a cornered mouse waiting for the cat to pounce.

Usually, his boss exuded charm. This wasn't one of those times.

MacElvany was under no illusion as to his place in the world. Lady Luck had inexplicably smiled on him the day his boss made him his 'special services' assistant. But Lady Luck had a darker side, that of a she-cobra, quick to strike and twice as venomous.

Like his boss's charm. MacElvany swallowed, his trembling mouth opening to speak.

"Forget it, Mac," his boss said curtly. "It'll come out of your pay." MacElvany nodded, eagerly. "But should you fail your mission...well, I needn't remind you that payment will be much higher?"

MacElvany quickly shook his head. He again opened his mouth to speak and again was cut off.

"You have your orders." The boss's green eyes crossed the luxurious cabin, and came to rest on a tall, blonde woman who stood guard at the cabin door. Another time and place, she would've been at home riding astride a wild-eyed stallion, brandishing sword and shield, and shouting the battle cries of the Valkyries.

"Mercy?"

"The shuttle is ready, sir."

He nodded, and ignoring MacElvany, he turned to papers waiting on his worktable.

MacElvany knew that he'd been dismissed and unbuckled his seatbelt. Standing, he shakily walked to the back of the cabin. He hated flying.

Minutes later, the cabin's sole remaining occupant received a call over his private line.

"Shuttle's clear, Mr. President."

The President's hard, green eyes softened momentarily into a small smile of satisfaction. Reaching for a pen, he signed the papers before him with a confident flourish: Lex Luthor.

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Bludhaven: an alley off of Bowline Street

[Thursday 0230hrs EST]

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"Vampire."

The word sent a chill down Nightwing's spine. Call him old-fashioned, but the young vigilante preferred dead people to stay dead.

He'd met a couple of the deadly creatures a few months back, and they'd almost had him for dinner. The episode tended to give him chills and nightmares. Therefore, he liked to forget about it.

The crumpled form carelessly tossed in the filthy alley told Nightwing that he wouldn't be able to. At least, not just yet.

"Are you sure?" Oracle asked.

"Neck broken. Two puncture wounds on the neck," Nightwing muttered. He leaned in for a closer inspection and noted the surrounding bite marks. "Vampire, all right."

"I'll contact Angel Investigations," Oracle said. "Let 'em know that there's been a confirmed vampire kill in Bludhaven."

While Nightwing listened to Oracle, he'd been scrutinizing the body for further evidence. The victim was a young man in his early to mid twenties. Blond, blue-eyed. The body still felt warm.

"Babs?" Nightwing spoke quietly, unsure of what he'd just discovered.

"Ummm...?" Oracle sounded distracted, like she always did when concentrating completely on a task. Nightwing could almost see her with a pencil between her teeth, typing away at her keyboard, while attempting to monitor over a dozen communications stations.

"You could also tell them that the victim doesn't have that distinctly 'drained' look of other vampire kills. I mean, the guy's dead, but his blood doesn't seem to have been entirely drained from the body."

"What do you think that means?" Oracle asked, curiously.

"Maybe nothing," Nightwing said, shrugging. Standing, he added, "Maybe everything."

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Los Angeles: Angel Investigations

[Thursday 0245hrs EST//Wednesday 2345hrs PST//]

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Cordelia Chase threw the Batman Beanie Baby into the cardboard box. She sighed, taking one last look around. That was it. She was done with her packing--and with this place! And this time for good!

Fini! Ciao! Hasta la vista, baby!

With a toss of her head, she started for the door.

"Fire me?" she fumed. "I'll show him! I quit! Let's see him find some other girl who gets psychic flashes and works for what he's willing to pay--!"

The phone ringing stopped her. She automatically turned to answer it, when she remembered she'd just been fired. No, she amended silently. She'd just quit!

"Let the answering machine pick up!" she said defiantly. With a 'humph,' Cordelia headed towards the door again. The ringing continued.

She stopped.

What if it's something important? she asked herself.

The ringing seemed insistent.

Cordelia looked at the phone, annoyed. Why wasn't the answering machine picking up?

"Because Angel or Wesley probably disconnected it--again!" she muttered.

Men! Why didn't they stick to things they understood--like opening jars or parallel parking?

Taking an exasperated breath, she hurried back and picked up.

"Angel Investigations!" she said cheerily. "We help the helpless! How may we help you today?"

"This is Oracle," a cold, disembodied voice answered. "I have a message from Nightwing."

"Nightwing?" Cordelia instantly perked up. "How is my favorite, Dark Squire?"

"...!" The silence on the other end bespoke volumes.

Cordelia stared at the handset and then rolled her eyes. "Duh! Don't get all jealous on me, girlfriend. Nightwing's not my type."

"I don't know what you're talking about." The cold inflection remained, but the voice sounded slightly defensive. "And what makes you think I'm a woman?"

"Oh, please! I'm 'Psychic-Girl,' remember?" Cordelia retorted. Checking her watch, she saw that it was almost midnight. She was running late. "But never mind all that. You've got less than two minutes to give me your message. I've got a plane to catch."

However, before the disembodied voice on the other end could relate the information, Cordelia screamed as her head exploded with images of blood and terror.

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Place/Date/Time: Unknown

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Cordelia's eyes snapped open. She was standing in a darkened alley. It smelled of urine and of rotting, decaying things. Dead things.

She scrunched her nose at this.

Where was she, she wondered? She looked around. The place was a total wreck--dumpsters overturned, their rancid contents spilling out onto the sidewalk and empty street beyond.

A weathered sign painted on the side of the building identified it as "The Shady Lady Topless Gentlemen's Lounge." Cordelia made a face.

~"Ewww...! Topless gentlemen! Gag me!"~ Then shrugging added, ~"Oh, well. To each his own."~

The alley looked like a recent fight had broken out there and then been abandoned. Knowing that she was in the middle of one of her infrequent dream visions, Cordelia decided that it was best to let it play itself out.

She started taking slow, measured steps across the filthy alleyway.  Each footstep made a crunching sound as she stepped on shattered glass. Mindful of the noisome garbage that littered the concrete walk, she inched her way carefully, determined to avoid squishy, dead things.

Finally, she came to the end of the alley and felt a cold chill slowly creep up her spine.

Nothing. Just reeking odors.

~"Why does it always have to smell? And why does it always have to be dark?"~ she complained. ~"Why can't any of these vision-thingies ever be bright and nice?"~

Not for the first time Cordelia cursed her deceased friend, Doyle, for shouldering her with this unwanted psychic 'gift.'

~"Some gift...why couldn't you leave me your dorky CD collection instead?"~ Cordelia waved her arms for added emphasis as she vented her annoyance. Sighing at the vagaries of fate, she turned and headed back towards the alley entrance.

A sudden sound caught her attention. It was coming from behind one of the overturned dumpsters. Picking her way across the garbage strewn alley, Cordelia reached the dumpster, and without hesitating, took a peek behind it.

A young man cowered in the corner like a frightened animal. As soon as she appeared, his face registered terror.

"Don't hurt me, please!"

Cordelia stopped and looked around her and behind. ~"Who's he talking to?"~ she wondered. Facing him, she asked him the same question.

~"Hey, guy...who are you talking to?"~

She noticed appreciatively that he was a stunningly handsome young man. Blond and blue-eyed. And even though he was cowering in the corner, she could tell that he was at least six feet tall and built like a linebacker.

He started to cry, a weak whimper at first, but quickly gaining in volume.

"NO! Please!" he cried.

To Cordelia's amazement, she saw herself easily lift the dumpster and casually toss it aside. Then, walking up to him, she reached out and with one finger placed delicately underneath his chin, raised him to his full height.

~"Okay, this is too weird!"~ Cordelia said. But even as she spoke, she heard someone else--herself, but not her--talking to the gorgeous blond.

"Oh, don't be such a wimp, Bobby. I promise it won't take long!" She paused, giggling. "At least, I don't think it will. You're only the first I've ever tried to 'turn.'"

Cordelia saw a pair of hands (Not hers, she realized!) caress the young man's handsome face. She saw slender fingers delicately run through his hair, and across his broad chest.

Resisting at first, the young man began to respond, almost in a trance. Finally, he stood still, his eyes closed, waiting.

The feminine hands were placed on either side of his face, and ever so tenderly, Cordelia felt her need and desire rising with each touch of his hot skin.

~"No!"~ she denied. ~"That's not me! It's someone else. It's her need! Oh, yuck! Don't--!"~

Cordelia watched as the unseen woman pulled the young man down to her. Cringing, Cordelia felt her as she lovingly bit into her victim's neck, and ran her tongue appreciatively across the newly opened wound, tasting the salty tanginess of his blood.

~"Vampire."~ Cordelia's realization was matter-of-fact. She was seeing the attack through the eyes of the vampire.

"Mmmm..." she heard herself say. "If I'd known you'd taste this delicious and be this easy, I'd've tried to turn you days ago..."

She drank, carefully and slowly, ensuring that she didn't take it all. Turning him to face her, she then kissed him fully, allowing him to run his tongue in her mouth, tasting his own life's blood.

"Just think of it," she whispered. "You'll have me as your consort for all eternity. So you see, it's not really dying. It's 'becoming'..."

He looked down on her, the blood from the two puncture wounds on his neck running down in twin streams. His eyes blinked momentarily and lost their previously unfocused look, as if he were coming out of a trance.

He stared at her for a long moment, confused. Finally, running his tongue across his lips, he again tasted the fresh blood and smiled.

"Now it's your turn," Cordelia heard herself saying. Nodding, he eagerly reached for her. Cordelia could feel his hot breath on her neck. This made her already considerably fast-beating heart go up another notch. She again felt herself reacting, as if she were someone else.

"Yes..." she hissed. "Taste me. Drink of me. Become one with me..."

Cordelia felt herself floating in a sea of bliss. She was on a cloud, not tied to the conventions of gravity.

When suddenly she felt a knifelike pain shoot from her neck, instantly bringing her back to earth with a resounding crash. She glared at her willing victim who was now lying in a heap, looking up at her, startled.

"What was that for?" he whined. She'd just picked him up and flung him bodily halfway across the alley. He'd crashed against the dumpster.

"You bit me!" Cordelia screamed.

"But--? I thought I was supposed to bite you!"

"It hurt!" Cordelia heard herself protesting. "It's not supposed to hurt. Spike never said anything about it hurting!" She walked up to him and grabbed him by the lapels. "You did something wrong. On purpose!"

"No!" he insisted, terrified. "How could I? I've never done anything like this before!"

"Oh, don't give me that! You probably planned this, didn't you?" she accused. "You're part of that stupid Scooby Gang! She's here, isn't she? The Slayer! You're working for her!"

"N0--URK!"

The young man tried to deny any knowledge of what she was saying, but she'd already broken his neck. A rat suddenly scooted over her foot. She jumped, squealing in surprise.

"Why does being evil have to be so icky?" she cried, stamping her foot in annoyance. Realizing that she yet held the still form of her victim, she dumped him carelessly and walked away.

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End of Part 1