Lazarus tried to keep the tremor out of his voice as he encouraged Melissa out of the door with just his wallet and shaking nerves. As they walked through their town, Lazarus stopped and got some cigarettes. For once, Melissa said nothing as he smoked the whole pack one after another.
‘Do you remember how to get back to James’ town?’ he asked, dropping the tenth cigarette butt on the floor.
‘Sure,’ she grasped his hand, preventing him from lighting the next cigarette that was hanging from between his lips. ‘This way,’ she said, pulling him in the direction of the woods. She led him through the dense woodland with a certainty that Lazarus couldn’t doubt. To Melissa’s irritation, he eventually got the cigarette lit as they walked hand in hand.
‘Do you have to?’ she snapped eventually. Lazarus gave her a sheepish look.
‘Sorry,’ he muttered, reluctantly dropping the cigarette on the ground. A light frost was falling around them, the leaves crunching under their feet loudly. They glanced at each other as they realised just how much noise Lazarus was making. He blushed, and turned his eyes to the ground, concentrating on quietening his footfall.
Eventually the woodland once again became tarmac and the edge of James’ town. A muscle jumped in Lazarus’ jaw and he resisted the urge to go buy another pack of cigarettes. The smoke may not kill him, but Melissa might if he gave into the temptation. They walked down the dark streets, passing through the patches of hideous orange light occasionally. The lights illuminated the two creatures, holding hands, their knuckles paled with the strength of their grip – their fear of letting go of each other.
They looked around them as they walked, but they failed to look up. James followed their path, walking along the edges of roofs, looking down. Lazarus paused, looking around, his nostrils flaring as a breeze carried James’ scent down towards them. Melissa turned too, but they noticed James too late. The vampire leapt down from the roof to “greet them”.
‘Hello!’ James said brightly. ‘Pray tell, what brings you back to my... humble town?’ he smirked and looked at Lazarus. Lazarus held the eye contact with a cold gaze. But it was Melissa that spoke, and James’ misogynistic behaviour only served to make Melissa’s words even angrier.
‘I come to challenge you. A fight – to the death. Each person brings along a comrade, to fight alongside.’ She paused, taking in the calm look upon James' face. ‘And no mortal weapons,’ she added, narrowing her eyes a little. James nodded slowly.
‘Ahh. When? And where?’ he asked with a tired sigh that reminded Melissa of a child bored of its toys.
‘The forest clearing, just outside this town. Tomorrow night.’ She snarled. ‘To clarify, who shall you bring? I of course will bring Lazarus.’ James glanced at Lazarus, who was keeping quiet through the exchange.
‘Nothing to say, dog?’ James sneered. Lazarus’ eyes managed to get even colder, though the icy glare wasn’t putting James off at all.
‘What would I have to add? This is a vampire thing. And as you so astutely noticed, I am a dog.’ Lazarus replied. James laughed and turned his attention back to Melissa.
‘I shall bring Fenris, Beta to the wolf pack in my town.’ He walked towards Melissa grabbing her chin between his finger and thumb and kissed her firmly. ‘To which, I accept your challenge.’ Lazarus did his best to restrain himself. So he only punched James in the side of the head. James retreated a couple of steps, laughing.
‘One question. For Lazarus, if I may.’ He said, eyeing the werewolf. Lazarus’ teeth were bared and he growled.
‘Did you enjoy sleeping with a corpse?’ James snickered as Lazarus’ face fell. Lazarus was doing his best to avoid falling for the vampire’s provocative remarks. Melissa put a hand on his shoulder, but he shook it off, lunging for James. James simply jumped upon the roof of a nearby house and laughed again before disappearing into the night. His laughter still floated back to them on the breeze. Lazarus swore loudly and slammed his fist into the wall of the building that James had sought refuge from.
Melissa calmly put her hands on his shoulders again, murmuring in his ear: ‘His time will come,’ she told him. She kissed him softly on the cheek and turned him around so he faced her.
‘It will, I know. I tried. I tried not to let him provoke me. Sorry.’ He sighed.
‘It's fine although we should savour tonight, there is the chance it might be our last.’ She sighed, slightly down-heartened. Lazarus arched an eyebrow at her.
‘Now who’s being the pessimist?’ he laughed and kissed her gently. Melissa didn’t join him in the laughter, though.
‘I’m sorry, I can’t help it. I’m just so scared,’ she cried. Lazarus’ eyes softened and he hugged her tightly. He kissed her again, trying to relieve the tension, but it wouldn’t go.
‘We’ll be okay,’ he said, forcing a smile onto his lips.
‘I hope so,’ she replied. He took her hand and pulled her out of the road as a car sped towards them.
‘C’mon.’ He said, looking back the way they came from the woods. ‘That cave wasn’t too far from here, was it? We can sleep there today.’
‘Déjà vu.’ She smiled. ‘But no, it wasn’t. This way,’ she said, leading him back into the woods. The frost had already melted, though the sun was only just rising. Its light stroked the horizon, a thin band of pink appearing in the darkness. They turned their backs on it and walked.