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Seasons of Change

Time: somewhere between Season 1 and season 5

Place: Wherever it was that Bobby had his office.

Note: this takes place in the alternate renegade reality started in Vampire Kombat. the previous story is pretty silly in places. due to the content, the following story is a little more serious as it deals with reno adjusting to being what he is now instead of what he was. (as I pointed out earlier, i have always wanted to see lorenzo play a vampire of one sort or another. fangs. leather. harley. thud)

"Uhm -- Bobby," Cheyenne broke the silence in the office.

"What?" Bobby Sixkiller, concentrating on something else, was testy about being interrupted. He had been testy for several weeks while attempting to replace his beloved HumVee which had been stolen, almost from under his nose.

"I -- think -- you'd better see this." There was both concern and laughter in her voice. The combination drew his attention. He got up and walked over to where she stood by the window. His jaw dropped momentarily at the sight outside. A HumVee had pulled up and parked. It was pink. It was Mary Kay cadillac pink.

Out of the driver's side stepped a slender woman with long black hair. She walked directly to the front door and entered the office before Cheyenne and Bobby could step away from the window. She raised her sunglasses and let her gaze travel from one to the other.

"Bobby Sixkiller?"

"That -- would be me. What can I do for you?"

"Tell me where Reno lives when he's in town."

"Who?" The response was automatic.

"Reno Raines? Vince Black? Nice guy, long hair, hazel eyes, rides a Harley with a flame motif on the gas tank, bounty hunter, wrongly accused of cop-killing -- am I jogging your memory?"

Bobby and Cheyenne were both frowning at her by this time. Cheyenne spoke first.

"Is Vince in trouble?"

"Depends on your definition. Yes. And no. He's in the car. Oh, by the way, I believe that's your HumVee," she added to Bobby.

"Mine? Mine!! Pink!!!"

"Bobby!" Cheyenne called her sibling to order and then turned her attention back to the woman.

"Why is he still in the car?"

"He's -- asleep." The bright green eyes met Cheyenne's dark gaze without a flicker. Well, it was true. He was. Deeply. The kind of sleep from which it would be unwise to rouse him.

"So, why don't you just wake him up?" Bobby asked suspiciously.

"Not a good idea. Look, I am perfectly willing to talk, once I've got him inside and into bed someplace safe. I know I can trust you, but the longer we wait to get him inside, the more dangerous it becomes."

"He's hurt. Follow me." Cheyenne again demonstrated her ability to make snap decisions and follow through. She walked out to her own vehicle, slid into it and pulled into the street.

Bobby and the woman followed in the HumVee, Bobby lamenting the color scheme. He'd taken one look in the back seat at the blanket muffled form and decided now was not the time to ask questions. They went to home Bobby and Cheyenne shared instead of to the apartment they had rented for Reno for the occasional times he was in town for any length of time.

Some instinct told Bobby to pull into the garage instead of parking out front. Besides, he could hide the HumVee there until he could get it repainted.

Cheri reached into the back seat and gently shook the bundle.

It took two tries to get Reno to come partially awake. His eyes snapped open under the blanket but he wasn't really focused even as Cheri pulled the blanket away from his face. He met the green eyes, frowned and then nodded. He sat up and discovered Bobby frowning back at him.

His gaze slid away. He wasn't ready for this. In silence, he got out of the HumVee and just stood, waiting. Bobby got out and came around the back of the car.

Something was spooking him. Maybe it was the silence. Maybe it was the chiseled look of Reno's face, pale beneath the customary day's stubble of beard.

Cheyenne came through the door connecting the garage to the house. She stopped when she saw Reno. She looked at Bobby and back at Reno. Then she stepped out of the house, walked up to Reno and threw her arms around him. She knew there was something horribly wrong, but this was Reno and she loved him -- even if she couldn't exactly straighten out how and to what level. She felt him stiffen at the contact, then his arms were around her, his face buried in her hair. He trembled in the circle of her warmth. She gripped tighter. Somehow it was important to let him know she was there for him, that she would never let him go. Cheri cleared her throat. Reno stiffened slightly, loosened his hold on Chey and looked around at her. It wasn't a glare, just a look. Cheri grinned at him. He relaxed a little. He took a long shaky breath and really moved back from the hug.

"Cheyenne, Bobby. I'd like you to meet Cheri Yuconovich. She's a friend."

"An old friend?" Bobby asked.

"No. A new one. But a very good one." He sagged back against the car. He was tired. So very tired. He looked around at the still open door to the garage. Bright daylight. Of course, he was tired.

Assuming he was hurt, Bobby slid an arm around Reno to support him into the house. As tired as he was, Reno didn't object. That caused Chey and Bobby to exchang concerned glances. Cheri followed them into the house and to the room where they put Reno. She shooed Chey and Bobby out of the room before making certain the curtains were solidly closed, no stray sunlight entering the room. She checked the placement of the bed. Good. Not likely to get sunlight even if the window were wide open. Reno caught her arm as she moved around the bed. His look spoke volumes before his lids slid down over his eyes and he fell asleep again. She gently set his hand back on the bed, walked out and closed the door behind her. So far, so good. Bobby and Chey were waiting in the hallway. For a moment, Cheri wanted to run away from this encounter. She took a deep breath and let it go. "I don't suppose there's a Coke in the house, is there? I could really use an infusion of caffeine and sugar over ice about now."

"Tea?" Chey asked.

"Love it."

They moved into the kitchen, Cheri and Bobby taking seats at the central island while Chey produced iced tea and ham sandwiches. She took her own seat across from Cheri. Cheri took a long drink of tea and made a contented sound as she finished. She was aware of two pairs of dark eyes resting on her, waiting. She looked from one to the other and decided she might as well plunge ahead.

"Reno's hurt," Cheyenne broke the silence. "He's been really badly hurt."

"Well, yes and no."

"That doesn't make sense. Look -- we need to know what happened. Reno was out of touch for several days. He looks OK, but --"

"But you know better. I know. Look, this is going to be hard to take."

"Then just tell us." Bobby looked and sounded serious.

"O--K. There's a little town called Sunnydale. It's a little south of the town Reno was headed for. It's a little weird, even for California. It boasts a high school, a really high number of teen and young adult deaths and a supernatural count that's off the scale, presuming you had one to measure it on." Bobby was beginning to wear that "huh, what?" look he sometimes got. Still, he was listening. Cheri took a drink of tea and continued. She explained that Reno had gotten involved in a problem which had left him -- well, technically, dead.

Chey gasped, her eyes wide. Then she relaxed with a frown. Reno was sleeping in the spare room. Obviously, he wasn't dead. "So, he's pretty shaken up?"

"Very. And it's not going to be easy for him. Look, this has been odd so far, how understanding are you capable of being?"


For once it was Bobby who took the lead in comprehension. "There's something -- really wrong, isn't there?"


"OK. Reno *is* Reno."

"Oh, yes. He is very much in his right mind, for the time being."

"But this *thing* is going to make some changes?"

"It can. How much do you know about classical vampirism -- and I don't mean Stoker's Dracula, or movie and tv vampirism, I mean the legends, the real ones."

Bobby shuddered. Chey looked disbelieving. "That's crazy."

"Yes, it is. However, the legends persist -- right through current mythology played out on television. The blood sucking, immortal with or without a soul, with or without some kind of responsibility for what it does. There is a kernel of truth at the bottom of every legend. Most vampires, stop me if you've heard this, probably were sufferers of various diseases for which there are now controls or cures -- dropsy, narcolepsy, prophyria -- all easily explainable in the light of modern medical knowledge."

"So Reno's just sick --"

"No. Reno Raines is a vampire. A real one."

"So, what does that mean?"

"It means he's virtually immortal, barring accident."


Cheri nodded. "Stakes, beheading, fire, too much direct sunlight. I still don't understand the sunlight angle, but it does happen."

"He bursts into flame?"

"He melts. At his age, vampiric age, he dissolves, fast."

"Ah. Not good."

"Bobby, you're acting like you believe her? If Reno thinks he's --"


She looked at the woman trying to explain this to them. "This is a bad joke."

"I wish it was. There are a handful of teens in Sunnydale backed by one well-educated librarian who hold the tide of vampirism in this country at bay. They slay true evil every night of their lives, and those lives are not normally destined to be very long. Reno tangled with one of the really evil vampires there.

Due to a very peculiar set of events, I was also there."

"And you're a vampire." Bobby was beginning to get a little giddy with this vampire thing.

"I have been."

Bobby's jaw dropped. She was dead serious. "You -- you -- oh, boy." Reality hit and hit hard. Bobby having grown up with Native American traditions was no stranger to the supernatural in his life or beliefs, but this was just a little more solid than he appreciated.

"Reno was killed, his body possessed by a demon of vampiric leanings. For a short space of hours, Reno Raines *was* a movie vampire, pure evil. Fortunately, the strain of vampirism to which I have been -- hmm - how does one express this? Due to certain peculiarities of my own genetic structure, I recovered from being infected with what is essentially a viral form of vampirism. Normally it is incurable. I'm a fluke. I recovered, but I carry the virus."

Bobby scooted his seat back, away from her. Cheri grinned.

"Don't worry. It's not contagious. *You* could drink pints of my blood and suffer no ill effects, except the usual ones you get from drinking blood. Reno, well, being kept in existence by a vampire and drinking my infected blood, it got rid of the demon, but it wouldn't bring him back to normal. Instead, the virus made itself a new host."

"So, Reno is still -- Reno is un-possessed and is himself -- so -- "

"Where do we go from here?"

"Good question. Reno has the drawbacks, as noted. Garlic is a major allergen. He doesn't have to sleep in a coffin, or on dirt. He will pretty much sleep from sunrise to sundown unless disturbed, and disturbing him is not wise. A vampire has to be pretty old before it can be awakened during the day without severe disorientation. The first instinct is to strike out at the disturbance. He is stronger. He is basically immune to most damage. What does damage him will heal rapidly, if he is not killed. Handled properly, he can be a major force for whatever he wants to do. Reno has a couple of drawbacks, though."

"What?" Chey asked quietly.

"One: He doesn't have any ties to any other vampires. He is essentially an orphan. The vampire to whom I was tied by blood is dead. He didn't leave a lot of other vampires lying about, so to speak. That kinda makes Reno an orphan, in vampiric terms. I have told him what kind of things to expect, but there are things even I don't know. And I won't be here.

"Two: He's practically invincible. That kind of power can go to one's head with very little warning. Power corrupts, unless you keep it on a really tight lead. Reno is basically a very good man, but he has his angers, things that make him want to do something about them, and that can be a danger, especially now."

"So, how do we stop him?"

"If it becomes necessary, you stake him." There it was. Bald statement. He gets out of line: kill him. Bobby and Chey looked wary, shocked, unwilling to believe Reno would deserve that.

Yet there were things in their history together that acknowledged Reno's ability to lose control, to go out on a limb, to get to the ragged edge. Bobby and Chey had both pulled him back a couple of times. They exchanged looks. Could they kill him?

"There's got to be something else."

Cheri looked thoughtful for a moment. Then she nodded. She pulled a shiny black business card out of her pocket. There was an embossed 800 number on the card. That was all. "If he gets away from you, if he goes off the deep end, call this number. Tell them I told you to call. Tell them Reno Raines needs their help. Someone will come, someone who can take him without killing him. I don't guarantee you will see him for a long time afterwards, if it becomes necessary, but they have people who can probably get him to see reason."

"Even if it means beating him to a pulp," Bobby muttered.

"Beating whom to a pulp," Reno asked from behind him. Bobby was off the stool and facing him. Reno still looked tired, worn, but alive. Bobby smiled. All of Cheri's warnings shot out the window. He knew Reno Raines and they would manage.

"Don't sneak up on me!" Bobby complained.

Reno grinned. It felt good to be back. He nodded to Cheyenne and then met Cheri's gaze. His eyes dropped. He hated what she knew about him. She was the one who kept pointing out that he couldn't just fall back into being what he was, that he would have to change to fit what he had become. Dammit, he could cope with this. He could.

He was hungry. He looked at Cheri and cocked an eyebrow. Had she stocked food for him yet? No. Now how was he supposed to act civilized with hunger gnawing away at his belly?

"Would you excuse us for a moment?" Cheri asked, sliding off her stool and joining Reno. They stepped out of the kitchen and went back to his temporary room. She offered him her wrist. He hesitated. He knew she could stop him, but it tasted sooo good. Fangs extended he sank them into her flesh and drank. It was almost orgasmic, the taste, the texture, the feel, the roar of the blood into him. He wanted it to go on forever. Forever kills, came the thought unbidden. He broke away. He turned away from Cheri, ashamed of his need, but feeling better, fuller, more alive. She placed a gentle hand on his shoulder. He turned to face her. There was never anything but acceptance in her face. And a touch of sadness. Was she sad to leave him here? Was she touched by him; by what she had helped him through? Did it matter? He smiled down into her face, pulled her into a gentle embrace. He was going to miss his mentor. He was going to miss her a lot.

"You still have a lot to learn."

"Yeah. Who from?"

"Well, we haven't finished your crash course in Vampire 100, an Introduction to the Living Dead," she said with a laugh. They needed to find a source for blood. They needed to find him a safe place to sleep. It was unfortunate that Reno had been on the run, to a certain extent. There were those who wanted him dead or in jail who would not let a little thing like his being a vampire stop their desire to destroy him. It might even spur them on. Besides, the councils of elders among the vampire communities across the world would not appreciate having attention drawn to their existence by a newbie. Aside from these considerations, there was the anger that burned just below the surface. And Cheri's time to help was running short. There were commitments on her time which had to be answered. There were other people who had a call on her. And there was, of course, the new job she was due to start next week. All of these were pushing her out of Reno's life and back into her own.

The evening was -- strained. Cheri thought that was a good word for it. Both Cheyenne and Bobby were trying very hard not to act aware of Reno's change in existence. Unfortunately, that added up to trying too hard. They got an abrupt dose of what Reno's temper could be like now that he wasn't human. The flaming golden eyes, the fangs, the rage -- well, at least he didn't look like he'd been smacked between the eyes with an ugly stick. Cheri pointed this out right after she called him to order.

Reno found himself trembling with the effort it took to get himself back under control. Cheri had warned him that his emotions could kick him over into what she called "vamped out" status at any time. He hadn't realized that his friends could push him over into such rage so easily. It felt like he was back where he had been when Bobby and Cheyenne first met him. It felt -- good. He was startled to realize that there was a part of him that reveled in the anger, the hate, the rise of the vampire within him. He frowned as he confronted the part of him that didn't just accept that he was now a vampire, but that welcomed it. Just as a part of him had welcomed the demon.

Reno turned away from his friends and almost ran out into the night. He needed the dark, the cooler air. He needed to clear his head, to get straight. He stared up at the stars, the moon, so clear in the dark sky. Would he ever be straight with himself, with them, again? He was aware of Cheri behind him.

"Well, we certainly made a spectacle of ourself, didn't we?"

"What we?" he rasped.

"That's a start," she said softly. "How did it feel?"

He turned to face her, moving more swiftly than he had ever moved. "How did it feel? It felt good. It felt right," he snarled in her face. "Is that what you want to hear?"

She regarded him blandly for a moment. "To a certain extent, yes. It's something you need to understand about yourself. Emotion, the moment, these things are a part of what makes you what you are. Your responses to these things, that makes you *who* you are." Reno looked baffled. He shook his head, shoved his hair back out of his face and looked at her as though he almost didn't know her. Thinking about it, he really didn't know her, only, he did. The blood he took from her teemed with emotions, with memories, with sadness, with joys. She terrified him, comforted him, cared for him. He sagged slightly. Without Cheri's guidance, he could have died any of a hundred times in the last few days. Between the vampires who wanted to kill him and the things he just didn't know, death was always a heartbeat away from him. And a very slow heartbeat it was, too. "I don't think I understand."

"I know." She reached up and gently pushed an unruly strand of hair back off his face. It was a good face, a strong face, a gentle face. She could read pain and bafflement and sorrow in the lines she saw there. Life had not been kind to Reno Raines, even before it dealt him this really strange hand of cards. "Most vampires get wiped out because they over extend themselves. You have powers beyond human. With a little care, you're immortal, eternal. But, and there is a very great *but* in here, you pay for what you get. And a lot of vampires never, ever really get the hang of being careful. Question: If you can rip out your enemy's throat and drink his blood, why not? Answer: Because too many bloodless bodies lead to discovery and discovery leads to dissolution.

And a vampire can make dead bodies without even thinking about it."

"You should have let me die," he said quietly.


"I can't handle this."


"I'm a threat to my friends," he pointed out, as though it was totally obvious. "I -- I don't think I have the kind of control you're talking about."

"No fledgling does. That's why you have friends. It's usually why you have a sire, but in this case, the actual virus donor is dead." There was a shadow of sadness in her eyes at that. "And I can't think of a living vampire, if you'll pardon the expression, I could trust with your education. Most of them are -- well, pretty rude. Suave, debonair, well educated -- wonderful what you can learn over several hundred years even if you started out as an uneducated dolt -- and about as conscienceless as it gets where normal human endeavors are concerned."

"What if I turn out like them?"

"Well. It's not too bad. There are rules. Break too many of them and you have the Ancients on your doorstep. And they don't just tell you you've been a bad boy, they destroy you and any indications you ever existed. Fascinating how thorough they can get."

"You've been there?"

"They didn't exactly approve of my friendship with a vampire. It took some work to convince them it wasn't a problem. That was -- interesting. Wonderful word, covers a multitude of sins." Reno grinned. "All right. So, we give it a try. I guess I should go apologize."

"Good start. Shows your heart's in the right place -- if not at the normal tempo," Cheri ended with another grin.

Reno looked long suffering and walked back in to where Bobby and Cheyenne were wondering if he would come back. He looked at both of them. He could feel the concern, the love they both had for him, regardless of what he had become. He drew a shaky breath, let it go.

"Chey. Bobby. I'm sorry. I guess I'm not quite as in control as I like to think I am."

"It happens."


"So, can we try a topic that doesn't get your goat?" Bobby asked somewhat impishly.



Cheri left without fanfare. She left without really saying good-bye while Bobby was appreciating the glossy black surface of his newly repainted HumVee. She figured it was time and she was a complication none of them really needed. She left knowing that if they really needed help with Reno, they had the number for KEI, Inc. and that if she was really needed back, KEI would let her know.

For several days after she left, Reno managed to keep himself busy. There was a lot of paper work, (oh, how he hated paperwork) to clear up. He helped Chey. He learned more about the computer portion of things than he had previously wanted to know. And then he saw Lt. Dutch Dixon cruising down the street. Instincts kicked into hunt. He wanted that man and wanted him bad. Now, he could get him. He could destroy the man who destroyed his life.

Bobby came out of the bar in which he had been seeking information, congratulating himself on yet another great hunch. He paid no notice to

Reno's tense stance until he asked the man a question and didn't get an answer.


"Huh? Yeah. What?"

"You haven't listened to a thing I've been saying, have you?" Bobby asked in a bantering tone. He was used to Reno's ability to get distracted, or just downright ignore what he was saying.

"I just saw him." There was a pleased, feral sound to the words.

Bobby looked around. "You saw Thompson and you didn't nail him?" Reno looked around with a frown. His eyes were tinged with gold. "Thompson? No. Dixon," he almost snarled. The smile on his face was not a nice one.

"Dixon. As in Lt. Dutch Dixon?"

"Yeah. He seems to be in town," Reno continued thoughtfully.

"Great. We need to keep you out of sight."

"Why? Let him find me."

Bobby looked at Reno worriedly. He didn't like the sound of his friend's voice any more than he liked the look. Great. Where was your friendly neighborhood vamp mom when you needed her? Gone. For days.

"Uh, Reno. Maybe that isn't such a good idea."

"Why not? He comes to me. He pays. He pays for Val. He pays for me. He pays for every evil deed he's ever done."

"Then what?"

Reno looked around again with a frown. "What?"

"Then what? Then who are you?"

"I -- think I just lost you."

"Reno, you could have found and killed Dutch Dixon any time in the last couple of years. Killing him isn't the idea. Clearing your name is."

"Bobby, I'm dead. I can't go into some court and listen to him squirm on the stand and probably manage to get out of getting what's coming to him. Clearing my name now isn't going to do me any good."

"Isn't it?" Bobby didn't like what he was hearing. Cheri had warned them. Being a vampire could warp your brain. He had presumed Reno was better than that. But then, Reno could be pretty hot headed when he put his mind to it -- or, maybe, his emotions.

At this point, life took one its left turns at Albuquerque and threw both men a curve ball. Ted Thompson, all 5'6" of him, and four of his buds, piled out of a convertible in front of the bar Bobby had just left. Bobby recognized the little maniac just as the little maniac recognized Bobby and Reno. They had met before.

Thompson and his friends opened fire. Reno moved to protect his friend. It was a good move, but a little less than well thought out. Bullets tend to pass through vampiric flesh without losing much momentum. He heard the grunt of pain as Bobby took the hit and two more in quick succession. Reno roared in anger and pain. He plunged into the group, destroying their cohesion and terrifying them. Hair flying, eyes glowing like some enraged god, fangs and hands ripping. Reno didn't care that he was leaving a massive mess in his wake. All he cared about was destroying his enemies.

He was through almost before Bobby sagged to the ground, blood bubbling in his punctured lungs. Blood stained the big man's mouth, a dark ribbon trailing down the side of his jaw. He hurt. He felt cold. He was frightened, not so much of dieing, but of leaving Reno alone. He felt Reno kneel beside him, gently pulling him up off the sidewalk. He tried to smile and coughed blood instead. What a way to go, drowning in his own blood. Reno was saying something, but the rushing of the wind in his ears kept blowing the words away.

"Bobby!" There was desperation in Reno's voice, in his face. He was losing his best friend and he was terrified. How could he face Cheyenne with this.

She would never blame him, but he would know. If he hadn't been there, if he hadn't been a vampire -- then he would be lying on the sidewalk drowning in his own blood instead of Bobby.

He became aware of his fangs pressing against his lips, aching in the sockets in his jaw. The smell of blood was almost overwhelming. "Bobby. Bobby, you don't have to die. Well, you do. But not permanently." The idea was burgeoning. "Bobby, look at me."

Their eyes met. "Bobby, tell me what you want. I can -- You don't have to go. I can stop it."

Bobby Sixkiller could hear the chanting of his ancestors, welcoming him. Yet he saw Reno's face, the lost look that he hated seeing there. He reached for that face, to touch it, to say -- what?

"Bobby! Don't leave me, man. I need you." The voice seemed to echo in his head, like there were two voices, both of them Reno's. He blinked. "Come on, man. This is ridiculous. You can't die. Not like this. Hold on. Come back. Don't leave me."

He could hear tears in the voice. When had Reno ever cried? Yet he knew the answer to that, too. As hard as Reno tried to hold it in, sometimes the emotions just spilled out. And then he and Cheyenne tried to be there for him. Bobby Sixkiller opened his eyes and glared at the top of Reno's head. He took in his surroundings. Machines beeping steadily keeping track of pulse, respiration, EEG. He felt tired, and sore. His belly ached as though he had been seriously ill for some time.

"Reno --" His voice was a reedy whisper. He swallowed and tried again. "Reno." A little stronger that time.

Reno's head snapped up. The joy in his eyes was unmistakable, as was the suspicious touch of wetness around them. He nearly crushed the hand he had been holding on to. "Bobby! You're awake. Dammit, you nearly died on me." Bobby managed a weak smile. "Yeah. What -- what happened." A part of his mind was working on the fact that Reno's hands were warm.

"Food poisoning. I warned you about eating at Teresita's, especially the seafood."

Bobby looked blank for a moment, then he grinned. Teresita's, of course. The oysters. It was June. He must have been out of his mind to eat oysters in June. "I feel terrible."

Reno laughed. "You should. We almost lost you, twice."

"Great. This is ICU?"


"How'd you get in here?"

"I lied."

"Oh, great. Where's --"

The door opened and Cheyenne walked in. She saw Bobby awake and talking and a huge smile split her face. She dropped the plant into Reno's hands and dropped a hug on her brother. "God, Bobby. Don't you ever do that again!" she ordered.

"I won't." For once, arguing with Chey didn't seem like a wonderful idea. He frowned at Reno.

"What's wrong?" Reno demanded. He knew that look.

"Nothing. Not a thing."

Maybe he'd tell Reno about Reno the Vampire, some day. For now, he was going to chalk it up to bad seafood and an over indulgence in horror movies. He was just glad to be alive.



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