Christmas Eve in Sacramento, California has everything except the snow. Lights are everywhere. So are parents and children, couples, carolers, Salvation Army bell-ringers, vampires, name it. Of the latter is one of the domain's two Sanctified Deputies, Dillon Connery.

Dillon is looking for particular signs among the herd, as he walks down the cold street with a large, skinny gift box under one arm. It was downright pitiful how many of them need a divine reminder this night. One of the ringers get a ten dollar bill from the Gangrel in return for his “Merry Christmas, God bless you,” even as Dillon thinks to himself, He has, and I do not deserve it.

But he would be more than happy to spend the rest of eternity trying to earn the favor shown him.

After an hour or two of patrolling, and deciding against several candidates, the people are beginning to thin out. Everyone is eager to get home to their family or friends, and begin whatever ritual is their custom for the night. At least there wasn't anything that required Dillon's responsibilities as Deputy.

One hundred an forty-four times Dillon has walked among mortals on the Eve of Christmas, as something apart. Something lurking there in plain sight. A handsome young man with a disarming smile, hiding a hungry Beast that desired only blood; plus whatever carnage it took to see it. Therein lies the duality that he had to balance nightly, and the scales that have kept him on the path. He will not stray off into weakness, lacking Purpose and earning destruction. At least, not under this moon.

It's the clack of heels on the street splitting the crisp air that draw the Gangrel's attention. A woman, middle aged but still healthy and attractive, speaking low into the phone at the side of her head. Dillon is curious, but having no Auspex to tune in, he can only capture a few words now and then.

“...told you weeks ago... figures to run... hours left... better not be late...”

Dillon couldn't be one hundred percent sure, but she seemed to be threatening an employee of some sort. How perfect, the Lord had sent him to a real Scrooge. Even if she isn't, she is still a fool to lower her guard in this world, on any day of the year. If you are not aware of yourself, or the world around you, how can you ever hope to make a difference? How can you ever hope to serve a purpose? How can your existence even matter?

When Missus Scrooge disengages the alarm on her car, some massive SUV, Dillon matches her step, closing in behind her. He knows he's not the paradigm of stealth, not even in the mundane sense, but he's still mildly surprised when the woman suddenly turns, and he is staring at a small canister of pepper spray in her hand. He doesn't have to fake the smile on his face, for once.

“Sorry,” Dillon says gently, “didn't mean to startle you.” Whether it's his utter lack of concern, or just the manner of his appearance, something about the Gangrel seems to catch the woman off guard. Whatever she'd been expecting, he wasn't it.

“Who are you? What do you want?”

One gloved hand covers her mouth, while the other parries the canister. To the woman's credit, she actually managed to cast a fine mist of the nasty stuff off to the side before Dillon pins her against her vehicle. He can't resist a little melodrama before administering the Kiss, whispering fiercely, “I am the ghost of Christmas Past. Pray to the Almighty that you are not visited by any more of my brothers, this evening.”

Who knows what goes through her mind as the Kiss takes hold, the alien wave of ecstasy bearing down on her panic, driving all rational thought from her mind. But as Dillon allows her to sink slowly to the street after sealing her wound, weary and light-headed from blood loss, he notices something that impresses him yet again. In the hand he had not trapped, she still gripped her keys, thumb on the panic button of the car's remote control.

Either the Kiss had taken hold just before she pressed the button, or this was a silent device that had alerted the police. Dillon smiles again.

Tracing a leather bound finger down the lady's cheek, the Gangrel says quietly, “Go now, child, and be renewed in Purpose.”

As he turns and leaves, Dillon picks up the gift he'd dropped during the lunge, and gives it a little shake. Nothing rattles. It would have to be re-wrapped, but Gloria's new telescope isn't broken.