When Jessica came to, I'd found us a hotel room, explaining her lack of conciousness as a 'good night out' and a little bonus for the man on the door. It was basic, but clean and good enough for a couple of nights. I was sat on one of the twin beds, while I had laid Jessica on the other. I'd grabbed some of the bags of blood she'd had with the blonde and had one nearby. I sat quietly, reading and waiting for her to wake up. Finally, she sat up.
"What do you want?" her voice was sullen and unsuprisingly hostile.
"I'm under orders to take you to the Council." I said, talking gently. For some reason, this assignment had pricked my concience. Normally I knocked them out for the whole thing. "Here, take this. I'm afraid I don't keep stores so I took some of what I saw back at that house. You'll feel better for it." I placed a bag of blood on the bed by her. "I can't let you leave either, so please don't try. Believe it or not I don't actually want to knock you out again."
She touched the point on her head where I'd hit her and took the blood cautiously.
"I haven't tampered with it-you'd smell chemicals or whatever so theres no point." I told her, not expecting her to believe me.
After a long wait, she drained the bag rapidly. Then she sat in silence, arms wrapped around her knees, which she had drawn to her chest. She was thinking about her sire. I swallowed down the guilt with difficulty. I hated killing and that had been particularly brutal.
"Who are you?" she said eventually, her voice sounding very young. I looked up at her, sitting cross-legged to face her.
" I work for a member of the Council, Zelthar. Essentially a bounty hunter, though I work only for him. In return I get enough money to keep me alive and Zelthar doesn't put me on trail. If I went to trial, I would be executed. I do this to stay alive."
Jessica looked at me wide-eyed; scared, angry and confused. I sighed.
"Jessica, if its any consolation to you-I didn't want to do this. But it was a choice between me and a guy that would have loved to hear you scream. He would have taken pleasure from any pain he caused you. He does the same job for the love of causing pain. I do this simply because if I don't, Zelthar will find me, uncover my real identity and I will be killed. I take no pleasure in causing suffering to the people I get involved with and I am truly sorry for what I had to do. I know its no replacement, but I am not out to cause unecessary suffering."
Jessica looked away then. After a very long time, by which the sun was fully up, she fell into a restless sleep. I resumed reading. I decided to let her rest for today and travel on tonight. We should be back in three days and I could put this behind me. Hopefully.
Unfortunately, the respite did not last long. I'd moved to sit in the window and so had a good view of who came in and out of the hotel. There was a flash of white-blonde hair. Lee.
"Jessica." I said quietly, shaking her shoulder. "We need to go now."
"What?" she murmured, blearily.
"Get up!" I hissed "And get behind me!"
I could hear Lee in the corridor. We were the only room here that was occupied, all of the humans as far from us as possible. I pulled Jessica behind me, forcing her to crouch on the windowsill. I just had time to draw my swords when the door blew off its hinges. Lee stepped in and stopped dead.
"Suprise." My voice was cold and composed. The sarcasm wasn't lost on Lee.
"Asha, my love. Congratulations" He smiled coldly. "Though you appear to have only done half the job. It was turn and deliver my dear, not turn and keep as a pet. I'm afraid I shall have to take this little morsel off you."
He moved to step around me and I blocked him.
"No chance." One point now rested on Lee's collarbone. "Take another step towards her and the sword finishes the journey."
Lee sneered. "My dear, you couldn't. You would miss me too much."
I shook my head. "Don't tempt me."
Lee lunged. A split second later, he flew through the air, slamming onto the bed I'd been sitting on earlier. Two deep gashed formed an 'X' across his chest.
I grabbed Jessica's wrist "Come with me!"
She resisted, provoking a stream of expleatives from me. "Jessica, this guy will torture you! He will wake up any second now and he will be nowhere near as nice to you as I have! If you don't move now we are both as good as dead!"
She still remained frozen. I swore again and knocked her out. No way was I going to let Lee get his hands on her. I took a roundabout route through the day and most of the night, finding an out-of-the-way hotel a short run from the Council. Jessica was stirring as I locked the room door.
"I wasn't going to leave you for him." I said flatly. "Theres a bag of blood on the table." I turned my back on her and sat on my bed, sighing deeply. I was exhausted from lack of feeding and the shock of encountering Lee. I placed my feet flat on the floor, placing my head in my hands and keeping my back firmly to Jessica. I didn't want to look at her. Zelthar was not going to be happy that I had 'damaged another favorite'. He would probably deal out some kind of punishment. Last time it was a week of solid whipping. Day and night. No sleep, no feeding. I'd been nearly delirious from pain and hunger by the end of it. The wounds had taken six weeks to heal. When there was no flesh left on one area of my body, they moved to another until the other parts were healed enough to take it. I'd seen enough to know it was Zelthar's personal torture of choice for anyone who particularly annoyed him. It was always followed by a string of particularly distasteful assignments for me-usually involving children. And I'd just set myself up for it again thanks to this girl.