Off-Guard

Melissa smiled, his hand warmed up her own. "I... I came over here in a rush but I think I heard a TV say.." She paused, her smile dropping. "A family of four have been killed about two streets away from us." She gulped and almost winced, not knowing Lazarus' reaction. 

Lazarus' eyes hardened "when was this?"

"When I was following you." Her voice became cooler and more confident as she realised the anger wasn't directed at her.

"And you came after me instead of him!?" He growled.

Melissa winced again. "You wanted me to take him on alone!?" Her eyes widened. "You serious? You know I'm weak and a poor excuse for a vampire!" She cried.

"You're quiet and faster than him. You could have tracked him and got away if it got rough." He stated coolly, instantly making Melissa relax.

"In the state I was in I probably would have let him kill me." She looked down, ashamed with herself.

Lazarus sighed and squeezed her hand comfortingly, though he would rather have stopped and hugged her. "It's fine. I'm hardly fit to fight at the moment anyway." His stomach growled as if to prove his point. "I haven't eaten in... ages." He paused, unable to remember the last meal he had.

"How about we go shopping again, I'll cook." She smiled.

"I got food when I went shopping. Pizza's and stuff like that. It'll do." He never mentioned the vodka and made a mental note to hide it when he could.

"No. It won't. That's not food."

"What do you think has been keeping me alive all these years?" He smirked.

Melissa shrugged. "I dunno." She paused, looking at him. "Vodka?"

"No, but it certainly makes up for a lot of the calories I miss out on."

Melissa shook her head. "Fine. But next time, I'm cooking. I won't have you eating that...that frozen slop!"

"Right now, the stomach doesn't care. But thank you," he added, slightly embarrassed that he hadn't bothered cooking for himself properly in decades.

Melissa sighed as they both began walking back to the apartments. "As for the violin... leave it. Its a memory that has haunted me too long." Pain choked her voice as she spoke.

"What are you going to do with it then?" Lazarus asked with sincerity.

"Burn it, bin it, do with it what you will."

"I'll leave it to you."

"No! I can't face it in that mess... I can't face it at all." She sobbed, the last remnant of her mother would be gone. She hoped then she could move on.

He nodded "I'll deal with it then, if you could stick a pizza in the oven for me and tell me how to get rid of this vampire guy."

Melissa sighed, trying not to mention the food again she moved onto the next subject. "I don't know. I told you that."

"But... there must be some way. I've not dealt with this kind of thing in a long time, I've forgotten. I forget a lot of things."

She paused at the bottom of the stairs. "You'll have to catch him off guard, he's too fast for you otherwise. As for killing him..." She stopped. The thought made a shiver go down her spine. "Dismantle him or... the sun."

"He doesn't seem the type to be caught off guard very often though."

Melissa nodded, "exactly, thats why I don't know. I could out run him, but I don't have the strength to do anything else."

"The sun. I'd have to do that one alone, though. Which wouldn't be a problem, but I would need to find where he sleeps, and how to get him out into the sun." Lazarus remembered the time Melissa had scorched her arms watching over him.

The next thing Melissa said was without hesitation. "Or use me as bait. He wants me to gain this land." She looked into Lazarus' eyes, to make her point clear.

"No, I'm not using you as bait, don't be stupid. And he clearly has no idea who has the most power over the land here. I've been here longer than any member of the human council. This is my territory, not yours. Why is he fighting you for the land?"

"Vampire vs Vampire. You will be next. He also obviously wants to get the weakest out of the way first." She paused, but not for long. "You have no choice. I'm not being stupid, that way you can catch him off guard and get him into the sun!"

"But..." He trailed off, knowing he was losing the argument. "I don't want to risk your life. I feel compelled to save those of the people in the town, but you matter most right now..."

Melissa looked at him, placing a cool hand on his cheek. Hoping he would not push it away like last time. "I thought you said I could run away if the going got tough." She paused. "I want to do this. To make it up to you."

"But we both know he will be expecting us to make some kind of a stand." He looked at Melissa sadly, placing a warm hand over her cold one, "he won't be off guard, even asleep. He will be waiting, I know it." He looked away, turning his gaze to the moon fading in the dawn light. "And the next two days are perfect for him to attack."

"But then what will I do? I feel so... useless." She hung her head sadly, taking her hand from his face.

"Don't ever think you're useless." His tone softened as he used a finger to lift up her face, so their eyes could meet.

"But I am! I can't do anything! I couldn't even push you away...I'm weak." She muttered, she wanted to look away, but she couldn't. She was captivated by the look in his eyes.

"You're not useless! Stop being so pessimistic."

Melissa shook her head. "Name one thing I have done." She was sure, certain, that there was none. She hung her head, breaking the contact between their eyes. His perfect, winter blue eyes.

"You're saving me, is that not something at least?"

"I'm saving you? From what? I'm just tearing you apart. Admit it." Something within her refused to believe she was doing any right at all, maybe she was just being pessimistic. But she was a monster. She knew that.

"You're saving me from me. Life has been so much more livable since you arrived, despite the hiccups along the way."

"Hmm." She sighed as she began to ascend the stairs. "Hiccups. I told you to kill me. I told you to go to hell." She muttered as they reached his door.

"Well if I was you, I would probably say the same - you know me. That's enough to make anyone suicidal."

"That's not true!" She wailed.

"Isn't it?" Lazarus' tone seemed calm.

"No. It's not. I love you, okay? And don't you ever say that!" She cried.

"Huh, well maybe you're the exception to the rule."

Melissa nodded, she felt a warm surge pass through her and a tear fell down her cheek. "Damn straight!" She cried, wrapping her arms around him. "Always," she muttered between tears, "always I will love you." She smiled, Lazarus' warmth seemed to cancel out her cold and for the first time without blood, she felt warm.

He laughed gently and hugged her tightly, but he couldn't echo her words sincerely, so he simply kissed the top of her head and pulled away, unlocking his front door. Melissa simply stood, watching him. She wiped away her tears and smiled. Enjoying the warmth coursing through her.

The End

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