Davis headed down the stairs and hit the landing with a little skip. He stopped with a bounce and wondered if he had picked the wrong outfit to sneak past his father. His tight jeans made it a little difficult to walk and he felt the pressure cupping his buttocks. The denim also crushed his balls tight enough they were almost outlined in the fabric. If he lifted his leg too high, he wondered if it would castrate him.

After a moment considering, he continued down the stairs.

For a night on the town, his jeans and a polo shirt were a poor choice for dancing and drinking. However he wasn't planning on being in it for long, he has his “real” outfit in the pack over his shoulder. He just kept it hidden because his father didn't approve of Davis' preferred dress. Literally.

“You heading out to a club?”

Davis' skin crawled with surprise, he didn't know his dad was home. He slipped his pack off his shoulder and tossed it near the door. “Yes, I should be back by one.”

“In the morning?”

“Probably,” Davis said and then continued in a quieter voice, “unless I find someone cute.”

His father came in from the kitchen, wiping his hands on a bright white apron. Underneath, he still wore his office clothes: black slacks and a button down shirt. The top buttons of his shirt were open and his tie hung loosely around his neck to reveal a little patch of graying hair on his chest. “I heard that.”

“Look, I—”

He winked. “You're twenty-two, you have a century before you have to settle down. Go have fun, just be safe.” His gaze took in Davis but he said nothing.

Davis blushed, he knew what is father was looking for. Fortunately, the skirt was carefully hidden in his pack. “Of course I will.”

His father held out his arms. “Come on, bring it in.”

With a grin, Davis hugged his father. Far shorter than his parent, Davis felt enveloped by the hug. It was comforting and he let himself smile. Ever since Davis' mother had died, their relationship had gotten much closer.

“You planning on sneaking out and then switching to your real clothes?”

Davis peeked up. His father was looking toward the front door. No doubt, he had focused on the pack on the ground. “Y-Yes.”

“I wish you wouldn't dress like that. You know that?”

“I just like feeling pretty sometimes.”

His father's arms tightened around him. “You are pretty. Too pretty. And that is what worries me. What if a hunter sees you in that skirt of yours? You already put the other girls to shame, you know they are going right for you.”

Hunters. The ultra-rich that used America as their personal hunting ground. Instead of animals, they chased down and purchased human lives.

Davis pressed his face into his father's chest.

A large hand stroked his hair. “Just be careful. I don't want to lose you like your mother. Without you, I don't know what I would do.”

“At least you'd get a….” Davis didn't finish the sentence. Every life caught was a single wergild, but after exchange rates, it came out to only a couple billion dollars. When a single meal was a thousand or more, that wasn't much.

His father pushed Davis away. “You got the latest HunterNet update?”

Davis held up his wrist. With a flick of his thumb, he turned on the screen and tapped along his palm to bring up the free application. Unlike almost every utility in the known world, HunterNet didn't have a per-second cost. It also had a plain interface, with only an overhead map centered on their current location.

A single icon marked a spot about twenty kilometers away, a flashing red image of two crossed arrows. A hunter on the prowl. The surrounding area surrounding the hunter pulsed red to warn everyone that their lives were in mortal danger. Around the red area was an orange one to indicate a warning but not imminent threat.

The application tracked the icon traveling alone one of the roads. Judging from the way the warning areas were larger to the north, the AI plotted an obvious path for the hunter toward the center of St Louis.

Davis showed his father. “See, nothing close to us. Besides, Madi and I are going to the South Side.” What he didn't say was that they planned to go the south side of Chicago, not St Louis.

His wrist vibrated when a second icon began to flash about ten miles away. A moment later, the application painted surrounding area in red and orange. The second icon also had a countdown timer giving an hour's notice before the real hunt began.

“See,” his father gestured at the map. “You never know where they show up. That damn law should make them always report their presence, not just when they are hunting.”

“An hour notice before a hunt starts is more than enough to get away, Dad. You worry too much.”

His father sighed. “You know I worry. After your mother, I don't want to lose my only boy to one of those hunters too.”

Davis hugged his father again. “Don't worry. I'll be fine, I promise. In and out. No hunters.”

His father tensed for a moment and then sank into the embrace. He rested his chin on top of Davis' head. “I love you so much. Just be safe and have fun.”