There were few things in life that could make a vampire smile. The laugh of a child, the sound of violins playing in the park - these were but a few things that gave Ricardo Guizardi reason to spread his lips and flash his teeth in pleasure. This, the man underneath him now, his eyes wide and staring, horrified, was not in the category of smiling things. But Ricardo bared his teeth just the same. For this was different.

"Please," the Tool pleaded, his legs curling up underneath him as he tried to edge away, his fingers and lips trembling like a leaf in the autumn wind, "Please don't-"

"What? Kill you? Hurt you? Rob you, perhaps?"

The Tool stared for a moment, dumbfounded. Then he nodded. Ricardo did smile, then.

"I have been watching you for a long time, Mr. Killian. You have something I need. Something very special. And I have something you need. Your family. "

The Tool nodded again, a faint glimmer of fear still appearing in his deep brown eyes. He was not a small man. Not fat, just very round, with wide set eyes that gave him almost Asian features, with thin lips and high cheek bones. If he'd had a smaller bone structure, he might've been a model. A thief before, a body builder now. And the guy standing over him had taken him down in two seconds flat.

His mother had called him "Little Viking" when he was young, and then just Viking when he was older. Killian hadn't known much fear in his life, just the usual of high places and spiders and things that go bump in the night. The man before him hadn't made a sound - but he fit into the latter category, no doubt.

Ricardo had always liked Vikings. Something about them had always made him smile, that was just the way it was. It might have been the pillaging. Of course, Killian had never pillaged in his life, but that was beside the point. The Tool was needed for just one purpose, and that was about to be fulfilled.

"Mr. Killian. I need you to deliver a message for me, to a woman I am not acquainted with. But you have met her in a most....intimate way," the fanged man said softly, his silken gravel voice sliding over the last two words with something akin to ecstasy. Killian gave him a blank look, and Ricardo picked him up by the front of his tank top to lift him up to eye level, the larger man's feet dangling in the air, kicking feebly.

"The Ghost! You do wear her mark, don't you, fool?!"

The man stammered out something affirmative, what it was didn't matter. Killian would've agreed that his mother was a toad right now. Ricardo snarled in disgust, and threw the man down, ripping off the tank top in the process. In pale thin white letters, there laid the word "Ghost," with it's tiny grinning skull smiling up at the vampire. The mark was very old, but there all the same. It would always be there. Once Killian had been a criminal, he had three other signings by the Ghost upon his person. In prison, it was viewed as a mark of prestige, to be the one singled out. Made you look major. Having four had made Killian king of the petty. But he'd been clean ever since he'd gotten out, almost squeaky. Which was what had made him the Tool.

"I've been watching you, Killian. You're perfect to deliver the message. She likes you. Your wife and your children are safe with a few friends of mine. They will continue in that condition if you deliver my note. Now - will you take it to her?"

Killian stood up, slowly, his face stretched in an expression of pain, and nodded. "Yeah. I'll take yer message. What do you want me to tell her?"

Ricardo handed him a piece of paper, the smile almost plastered to his face now, showing those huge horrible teeth. The ex-con shivered a little as their flesh touched, and when he opened his eyes, the evil man was gone.

**********

Keth looked down on the park bench from her perch on the library, wondering why he'd sat there all day. He was a good man now, with a wife and a job, three kids that loved him. Each born right after the other. Each with his good looks and his wife's good nature. She couldn't remember their names right off, but she was sure that if she tried, she would. So why was Killian Daily sitting here, looking nervous, holding onto a large brown envelope which seemed to be stuffed to brimming. It didn't add up.

She waited until the night had truly fallen, and climbed down to the street level, her long braided hair wrapped around her right arm. She stepped silently over to Killian, and tapped him on the shoulder with a long gloved finger, making him jump almost out of his skin. He whipped around, his eyes full of fear - then saw her, and they softened.

"Ghost," he said, almost reverently. She nodded, and smiled.

"Killian," she said, almost in a conspiratorial whisper, her eyes twinkling, "didn't you know that loitering is against the law?"

Killian gulped. She did like him, that much was true, but that hadn't stopped her from branding him three times. He handed her the envelope, looked around, and finally met her eyes. "Ghost, this is from some guy. He told me to give you a letter. He's got my family, I don't know what I'm gonna do, he's crazy, Ghost! Fuckin' cr-"

She stopped his words with a finger to his lips, and he choked down the sob that threatened to come boiling out. The tall woman with her horrific Death's visage looked concerned, and saddened, and though it shouldn't have made him feel better, it did. She took her finger back and opened the envelope, very carefully so as not to tear or rip the padded casing. The contents spilled out into her waiting hand - a silver and glass rosary, complete with its hanging Jesus and saint's medallion, a vial full of water, a thin knife that looked to have been carved out of ash, and a piece of parchment. She tucked the various objects into a pouch at her waist, and opened the letter, breaking the wax seal binding one end to the whole.

 Dear Ghost,

The man in front of you is a courier of mine now. He doesn't do this of his own free will of course, but that's beside the point. You've your way of conveying your message...and I've mine. C'est la vie, hmm?

I wish to speak to you, Ghost. It is of a very important matter concerning your heritage and the man you think is your father. He has passed away two days hence, no doubt a missive shall come to you in the mail on the morrow, expressing sorrow for his death and other such drivel. If you would like to know what it is that I know, then meet me on the farthest tower of St Michael's church in Manhattan. It will prove...most educational.

Ricardo Guizardi

And there the letter ended, the elegant script spelling out a proposition that Keth could do nothing but take. She solemnly set the passage into the purse with the other objects, and looked up at Killian.

"Ian?"

He looked up at her again, tears still streaming down his face. He nodded.

"Ian, did he send all of these things?"

"N-n-no. I put all that stuff in there. He sent just the letter," he said softly, his fingers playing with the wedding ring on his finger.

"Why, Killian? What are they for?" She coaxed, setting a gentle hand on his shoulder, wincing when he flinched. He was as high strung as a horse on racing day.

"'Cause he's a vampire."