They walked back to his apartment in silence. Melissa’s silence was one of happiness, Lazarus’ one of shock. Thirty six million! His head was reeling. All his life he had never had more than about a thousand in his account. And even then that had felt like a lot to him.
‘I can see why you didn’t mind paying for the wedding, now,’ he muttered as he called for the elevator.
‘Yes, well, at least you don’t have to argue with me anymore,’ she smiled.
‘I still don’t think you should have given me everything,’ he laughed and grabbed her hand as the door of the elevator opened, letting them in.
‘Well it just means you have to take more care of me,’ Melissa said, ‘if you don’t mind.’ Lazarus shook his head.
‘Why would I mind?’ He shook his head. ‘I can’t believe you have so much money!’ he exclaimed. ‘I mean it was kinda obvious you had money, and when you said your father was a lord, that you had a lot of it – but that much?’
‘Calm it.’ She laughed. ‘We sold the house; we sold our paintings; that is the income from my father, my mother, my sisters and the interest from four hundred years’ she explained.
‘Sorry I’ll shut up about it,’ he chuckled and stopped talking.
‘It’s fine, you inherited it, you deserve to know.’ She told him. The doors of the elevator opened and Lazarus was about to step out. He looked around the corner and froze. Pulling Melissa back he jabbed the close door buttons and then hit the ground floor button. He swore and Melissa grimaced as his hand tightened on hers a little too much.
‘Lazarus! What are you doing?’ she yelped as his hand crushed hers. He let go, his eyes widening.
‘Sorry.’ He mumbled, glancing at her. His entire demeanour had changed within a heartbeat; he became hunched, his eyes were fixed on the floor and he was running one of his wrists with the other hand where the silver handcuffs had burnt him not so very long ago. He chewed nervously on his lower lips as the elevator seemed to take forever to descend.
‘What’s wrong?’ Melissa asked, lifting up his head gently, hooking a finger under his chin.
‘I saw that hunter, the one that had me. I guess James kept him alive.’ He said bitterly. His eyes were shadowed with worry and fear as Melissa looked into them. ‘He was just outside my door. That bastard.’ His expression flickered with anger and Melissa let go of him.
‘Would you like me to go talk to him?’ Melissa asked. The elevator juddered to a halt, but Lazarus held down the close door button.
‘No way! He’s a hunter. He wouldn’t listen if you talked – believe me, I’ve tried.’ He protested, clamping a hand on her shoulder protectively.
‘Well, he must be stupid to turn up on your doorstep.’ She paused, thinking. ‘What if we go together? He wouldn't dare take on two of us.’
‘I guess he thought I was in, he probably planned to surprise me, I dunno, do I? But I don’t wanna risk it. That guy seems to have silver dripping out his pockets. He had enough to keep me unconscious for three weeks at any rate. I’m not going back there. You tell me to look after you more, and that’s what I’ll do. You are not going up there to “talk with him”. No way.’ His voice began to rise as he talked, and he stood in front of the door, blocking her way.
‘Well, right now, you have no choice.’ She sighed, ‘What if I turned into a cat? I could go check it out.’ She suggested.
‘No choice? What are you on about? And I said "no", you're not going up there with a hunter!' He almost shouted, but Melissa was not intimidated, and did not back down.
‘Then what are you going to do!? Stay here until he decides to leave, then he comes down here and then attacks you?’ She growled and pushed him aside, forcing his finger off the close door button.
‘I was more thinking we could go to the estate agent before they close,’ he frowned. ‘That way we wouldn’t be here and he wouldn’t know where I was.’ He watched Melissa hesitate in the entrance area, half way between Lazarus and the stairs. Lazarus looked at her, still standing in the door way of the elevator. He leant on the door, preventing it from shutting.
‘Lazarus! I will not have you being afraid of a human hunter! I will kill him if I have to!’ she exclaimed. She turned to the stairs and he strode out of the elevator and grabbed her wrist before she could reach the first step. ‘Let go of me!’ she growled.
‘Do you think I’m afraid with no good reason?’ he asked loudly, scowling. He didn’t let her go, though, resisting her struggle to get free. ‘I don’t want to see you hurt, Melissa. I’m only doing what you asked me to!’ he let go of her, and gazed at her.
‘Lazarus I... I don’t want this guy to terrorise you! Let me go and sort it out!’ she put her foot on the first step and he slapped a hand to his forehead.
‘Fine. I can’t stop you, obviously.’ He sighed.
‘Thank you,’ she growled, starting up the steps, away from Lazarus. He scowled up at her as she disappeared out of sight and sighed again. He followed her up, taking the steps two at a time until he caught up with her. She spun as he reached her. ‘What?’ she snapped. ‘Come to stop me again?’ He shook his head.
‘Then why did you follow me?’ she asked. He shrugged.
‘I don’t want to make you come up here alone, while I cower away down there like a dog being beaten.’
‘Coward,’ she scoffed, continuing up the stairs. Lazarus hesitated before following after her.
‘Are you trying to provoke me into doing something stupid?’ he asked as they ascended the staircase.
‘Depends. What stupid thing are you going to do?’ she asked, stopping abruptly at the top of the stairs. He looked up at her from a couple of steps below.
‘I hadn’t decided that one yet.’ He replied.
‘Hmm, well don’t think about holding me up against a wall by my neck again.’ She warned, pushing through the door that led to their corridor. His lips pressed together at the reminder and said nothing, following her. They looked down the corridor to their door and Melissa turned to him, unimpressed. ‘Where is he then?’ she questioned. He pushed past her and stalked down the corridor with more confidence in his stride than he felt. Rolling her eyes, Melissa followed. Men. As they neared his door, they saw that it had been forced open. Lazarus looked inside, tentative.
‘Surprise!’ the hunter grinned at Lazarus and then noticed Melissa. ‘Ahh, the dog and its mate.’ He laughed. Lazarus scowled but said nothing.
‘Yeah. I couldn't hear you stomp your way here.’ Melissa sniggered, rolling her eyes. ‘So, what do you plan on doing next?’ The hunter’s smile didn’t drop, though the scowl Lazarus had noticed when he was tied to that chair was there, a permanent feature, by the looks of it.
‘Why, I was just coming to collect my lab experiment. It seems the dog needs better restraints. I revamped your room.’ He said, nodding at Lazarus. ‘Nice silver manacles this time.’ He leant against the back of the sofa with confident ease.
‘Hmm, well, what about me? Because you'll have him over my cold, undead body.’ She growled, making her tone as threatening as she could. But the hunter just laughed it off and shrugged.
‘Honey, the only reason you found your pet before was because James thought you were pretty. He was right, by the way.’ He stood up, away from the sofa. ‘Nice little place this. Managed to make the flat look okay. But I’m afraid you’ll be living here on your own now.’ He pulled something out of his pocket and Lazarus tensed. It was a pair of gloves. Lazarus hesitated as the hunter pulled them on. He walked towards them. ‘Excuse me,’ he said slipping between them into the corridor. Lazarus turned and cried out as the man grabbed his neck, the glove burning into him. ‘Silver thread. Useful.’ The man said, squeezing Lazarus throat a little, cutting off his wheezing.
‘And you know what happened to James right? Well maybe you can ask him.’ Melissa snarled appearing behind the hunter in the blink of an eye. The hunter turned, dragging Lazarus with him. Lazarus clawed at the man’s hands, but couldn’t get a hold on them without burning his hands. The hunter rolled his eyes and pulled a pair of handcuffs out of his coat pocket, clamping them around his wrists with practiced movements.
‘Yes, of course I know what happened to James. I don’t need to ask him.’ He held onto Lazarus’ wrist tightly, pulling his gloves off with his teeth and stuffing them back in his pockets. Melissa sighed and ducked behind him again, putting her cold hands around his neck.
‘There’s one problem with your species,’ she whispered in his ear menacingly, ‘they’re so... breakable.’ She squeezed slightly, but the hunter only laughed. He moved his arm, his hand tight around something. That something was shiny and black and...
‘Loaded with silver bullets. I’m sure they’ll work as well on you as they would the dog,’ he carried on laughing and dug the barrel into her stomach. ‘Let go of me.’
‘No,’ she snarled, squeezing harder. ‘My life for his.’ She felt his windpipe break a little. The hunter gasped and shifted, cocking the gun.
‘No!’ Lazarus screamed, but he couldn’t move, the hunter still holding onto him. He paused and tugged forward, moving the hunter slightly. In the same moment, the hunter fired, the force of the shot shifting them all again. The hunter twisted in Melissa’s icy grip and freed himself, pushing her over. Lazarus dropped to his knees, shouting abuse at the hunter through his tears, pulling the man down on top of both of them.