A RenegotiationMature

“I am never going to live that down, am I?” I asked dryly, and the Mistress of the local Coven laughed. “Well, you did kill our old Master.” She arched a winged eyebrow. “Well, yeah. But I’m not here to kill a vampire this time! It’s a politician. Who’s funding terrorism.” I responded stuffily, and I could feel Eleri’s glare at the back of my head. “Well, I suppose you can stick around for that. But no longer.” She granted, and I bowed low. “My gratitude, Mistress. My fealty is yours as long as I remain in your territory.” I gave the traditional thanks. “Mm, I could think of a few things I could do with your fealty.” She purred, and I gave her my winning smile. “I live to serve.” I thrummed in the same throaty voice. She giggled, waving at me. “Go on, get out before I take you seriously.” She insisted, still delighted at my attention. I admit it; I am a ladies man. I’m a very pretty ladies man. Red-brown hair, pale skin, feminine features…The chicks dug me.

I kissed her hand before backing out of the coven’s place. Eleri followed me, looking pissed as a wet cat. “How come she’s so special?” She torched me as soon as we were out of earshot. “She’s not. I always act that way.” I was confused for a moment, and it showed on my face. “You didn’t act that way around me.” She pointed out, and I let amusement creep up on my face. “If I didn’t know better, I’d say you were jealous.” I teased, and she harrumphed. “I am not. I just wondered why a vampire was so much better than me.” She retorted sourly. I spun to face her, a look of agonizing horror on my face. “Have I not flirted enough with you?” I asked, invading her space so that I could take her hand in my own; I got down on one knee, kissing her hand. “How shall you ever forgive me.” I pouted, eyes playful. She rolled her eyes and snatched her hand away. “Scorned; how shall I go on?” I put a hand to my forehead dramatically. “Just shut up. You’ve already dug yourself a hole.” She sneered, and I laughed and stood again. I threw my arm over her shoulders, making flirtatious circles on her upper arm with my thumb. She let me, but just then I looked across the street. “oh, shit!” My voice was panicked. I snatched my arm back, putting in front of my face. “L? Hey, L!” A woman’s voice called, and I turned with a very falsely cheerful smile. “Jane, baby-” She slapped my full on in the face. “How dare you?” She snarled, and I pressed my lips together. “I would never have left you-” I started, but she slapped me again. “Who the hell is she?” She growled, pointing rudely at Eleri. “Her? Oh, she’s no one.” I answered too quickly. “You ass hole!” She yelled, and then there was another call. “L?” Oh. Fuck. “Oh my god, I haven’t seen you in-who are they?” The new girl shrieked, and I started backing away. “Well, it’s been really great catching up, but I have somewhere I need to be; Eleri, we should probably-”

“Oh, so it’s Eleri, is it? You listen here, you skinny bitch, I had him first-” The two complicating women looked at each other. “What?” Oh, shit fuck. “Really need to leave.” I urged, grabbing her upper arm and nearly running in the other direction while the other two women yelled at each other. I pulled her into an alley, shoving her against the wall as the women realized that I was gone. “Hey! L, when I get a hold of you-” I didn’t wait to see what would happen if they got a hold of me. Pressing a finger to my lips, I opened the only door in the alley. “L? Shit, man. At it again?” The Gunsmith was a personal friend. He made my guns. “No. This is my new partner. But a few of the old ones saw me, and I need to hang here for a while.” I pleaded. He sighed and pointed at the couch. “Get outta here before sunrise; I’m not boarding my windows just to keep you from getting fried. “ He ordered, and I nodded. “’Course.” I said, sitting down and pulling Eleri with me. She sat down with an angry huff. “What?” I drawled pitifully, and she took one look at my face and shook her head. “You are incorrigible.” She stated, and I pressed my lips together. She sighed but I could see she forgave me. I cuddled against her like a cat, and she grumbled. “I’m really sorry.” I whimpered, and she slouched in defeat. “All right, I forgive you. Damn it; you just have one of those faces.” I let out a small sound of contentment and threw my arm over her again; to my surprise and delight, her arm snaked around my waist.

“God, man, I wish I could do that.” Gunsmith commented, and I grinned. “I just have a charm. Much practice and many women later, it comes in handy with the ones you actually want.” I muttered, sniffing her hair cautiously. It was better this time, because I knew what to expect, but the same because she smelled so good. I couldn’t fathom how she could smell so good. But it was pleasant even if I couldn’t taste her. She looked at me with a charmed look, and I had an inner tee-hee moment before I kissed her.

She struggled for a moment, and then relaxed into my grip. Okay, I was good. You can’t deny it. From loathing to kissing in under twenty-four hours; it had to be a world record. “Dude, you can not have sex on my couch. I can’t afford a new one, and there is no way I could ever sit on it again.” Gunsmith interrupted when I started to lift her shirt up, and I sighed sadly, a real accomplishment when your lips don’t leave your girl. I put her shirt back in it’s proper place, but bore her down onto the couch to make up for it. She let out a yelp, and I released her immediately. “I’m sorry!” I said, and she pulled my head back down to her. “Don’t you dare say you’re sorry!” She ordered breathlessly, and I kissed her eagerly again. “Yes, ma’am.” I was muffled, but she laughed.

A shot rang out, and I felt a sharp pain in my ass. I shot to my feet, cussing. “Did that get you thinking with the right head?” Gunsmith growled, his shotgun still smoking. “Yeah. Sorry, Gun. She’s just…” I gestured wordlessly at her, and he grinned. “Dig that bullet out of your ass before it heals; it’ll really suck if you have to rip it open again.” He sniggered, and I flipped him off as I did just that. Blood spurted, and I let a muttered insult do for this. I plopped the perfectly shaped bullet back on the table. “You,” I stated, pointing, “Are an asshole.” I informed his smug face. He laughed. “Yeah. But I’m the asshole who makes all your guns.” He giggled. He giggled. that’s just not right on a man his size; he was 6’ 4”, at least.

He cleaned the bullet and put it back in his gun. “Ooh! I want one of those! Reusable bullets? Ooh!” I yelped, fingers twitching with the need to grab the weapon out of his hand and take the bullet out again so I could look at it. “Oh, all right, fine. Here,” He said, throwing me the gun. I flipped it around a little; it was nice. “How much for this beauty? I’d pay my own money for this. It’s gorgeous.” I said in awe, and he blushed. “You’re trying to flatter me.” He accused, and I smiled apologetically. “Is it working?” I asked innocently, and he sighed. “Yes.” He said wearily. I sauntered over to him, invading his space like I knew he hated, batting my eyelashes. “But it really is perfect.” I flirted, and he took one look at me with wide eyes. “Two grand; I spent a month on that baby.” He offered, and I dished. “Thanks, Gun. You are an artist.” I batted my eyelashes some more, and he shoved my head. I rolled back to my feet away from him. “Dude, why do you do that? You are straight. I know you are; but you flirt with me like there’s nothing you’d rather do.” He inquired, and I smiled alluringly. “There isn’t. I live to flirt; you just happen to be someone in close proximity who likes men. It’s a quirk.” I shrugged as if that explained everything. If you come to the dark you’ll get the respect you know you deserve… I know my eyes took on a haunted, dazed look; they always did when I heard him.

I looked out the window in agitation; the women were no longer prowling. “We aught to go.” I whispered softly, waiting for Eleri to stand. “Hey, Luce-” Gunsmith tried, putting his hand on my shoulder. I looked up at him and he jerked his hand back. “Control yourself, Luce!” He hissed, and I held my hand in front of my face. My hand lit up red; my eyes were glowing like they did when I was pissed or when I let him out. But I was in total control, and I wasn’t angry. “Shit! That’s not…That’s weird. I’m not angry, and he’s not even close to coming out.” I was confused. “When was the last time you ate?” He asked, and my mouth formed an O. “Uh…about six hours ago. If I’m glowing I’m going to need to hunt; there’s no way I’m making in back even if I snag the fastest car on the road. The traffic here sucks.” I told him lightly; almost giddy. That wasn’t a good thing either. “Kill?” He mouthed; I shook my head. “Don’t think so. If so I’ll be careful to dispose of it carefully.” I said cautiously, aware there was a Hunter in the room. His eyes flicked to her. “You want me to keep an eye on her?” He asked softly, and I shook my head. “Na. She can handle herself; she’s taken out her fair share of blood-crazed vamps, I’m sure.” I looked to her for confirmation, and she nodded suspiciously. “Just precaution, love.” I stalled, and she didn’t press until we were out of Gunsmith’s place.

“Hunting? You hunt?” She asked in outrage. “When all else fails; and there are always some who will do just about anything to get a vamp to bite them. I’ll do as they ask; they just won’t change. They never seem to ask questions after you agree to bite them.” I muttered angrily. “You can’t do this; you can’t kill people!” She yelled, and I turned to her in surprise. “No, I won’t. I only take what I need.” Most of the time. “Unless you lose control! There will be no stopping you then; I’d have to kill you.” She told me frankly, and I nodded. “Then do it. You can do this without me; god knows he’s been telling me I could do it without you. He’s been wanting a night out. I’ll let him have the wheel for a while. He lives for the hunt, but more for the chase than the blood. Once he catches the prey he’ll stop when I tell him. He knows better than to disobey me.” I informed her; the last time I hadn’t eaten for two solid weeks. He had been ravenous when I finally drank. “I don’t trust that thing.” She whispered, and I reached out to her. I thought better of it, putting my hand back at my side at the last minute. “I don’t either…but what am I going to do? If I don’t hunt I’ll take someone off the streets, or worse, Gunsmith or you.” I said all this in a quiet tone, the last barely audible. “That’s just my idea.” She responded, looking me in the eye, and I leapt back like she was on fire. “No!” I yelled, startling a couple across the street. Yes! He yelled back. My eyes were wild, unreasoning. “L, just listen to me-” She tried again, but I was past reason. So I disappeared in a flash of movement she couldn’t see.

I found my way back to some alley, and dug out some dental floss from my pocket. I started making it into a rope; I had picked it up when they had me in a cell to keep me from killing myself. It had been for a noose originally, but now it had become my nervous habit. I sat down and really got into it. It was getting quite long by the time she found me.

“L?” She asked, and when I didn’t look up she crouched next to me. I started to edge on super fast, and she stilled my hands with her own. I froze, not breathing. “L.” She demanded, and I looked at her. I could see her pulse, hear her blood as it was pumped through her. I swallowed convulsively. “You should go.” I used my breath up. “I’m not leaving. You’ll only take what you need, and to feed from me you don’t need his help, do you?” She asked gently, and I shook my head. I took a breath; it was nearly enough to drive my attack. But I froze more solidly instead. Only my lips moved. “No. But I can’t be sure.” I responded, backing away even as she advanced. “Will you stop moving?” She said in agitation, and I backed away a little more. “Look, I can get you off if I need to. But I think you can do this.” She said, and suddenly my back hit a wall. She was still coming, and soon she was pressed alarmingly close to me. I couldn’t take it anymore; fangs broke through my gums and I bit down.

She groaned, but it was a background sound; this was what I had been made to do. Feed on living, breathing humans. Her blood was so sweet; it was perfect. I clutched her closer and let out a small snarl of possession. Her hand snaked up to twine in my hair, and I twisted around so she was pressed against the wall. She gasped, but didn’t try to break free. I let my lips fall from the bite; it healed instantly.

I drove myself back, shoving harder than I had meant to and exploding across the alley. I breathed hard with the sheer pain of letting her go. She started to follow, but I put up an urgent hand. “Stay there!” I screeched, and she froze. “Please don’t be angry with me; it was the only way I would feel right about you hunting.” She pleaded, thinking I was pissed at her. “I’m not angry; I’m trying to control myself. Stay there.” I ordered as she started to walk forward again. “Damn girl.” I muttered under my breath, but the real words under it were, Damn vampirism. “So, how do I taste?” She asked; I let out a bark of laughter. “Better than anything I’ve ever had; but that’s not saying much. It’s pretty much animals or bums, for me. The occasional vamp fanatic.” I was grateful for the distraction. “Oh; I suppose that’s a compliment.” She responded suspiciously. “It was.” I confirmed. She started to walk closer, and this time didn’t stop at my frantic warnings. She wrapped her arms around me, and I held my head as far from her as I could. “Oh, stop it. If you bite me again I don’t care.” She grumbled, hitting me ineffectually on the chest. I smiled and wrapped my arms around her, though I was still tense and on my guard.

I started walking, supporting her slightly. She wasn’t a donor, and she wasn’t used to the feeling of blood loss; not to mention that I’d taken slightly more than I should have. The least I could do was get her home safely. She tried to carry herself, but she grew woozy and I picked her up off her feet in a flourish. She yelped and complained, but I glared at her. “I just ate you. Let me take you to a place you can recover.” She buried her face in my shoulder and didn’t object.

I left her in the hotel room’s one bed, and settled down in my coffin for the day; I hadn’t slept at all the last time the morning had greeted the sky, and I wasn’t up to a repeat session. I settled the lid down on top of me, and the familiar feeling of claustrophobia clouded my head for a moment before the sun hit the coffin and I was out.

~…~

I woke up to the very unnerving sound of, “I know that idiot is here! I’m not on the police force for nothing-” Shit. Cassie had found me; I really, really hated going to Ireland. Too many women knew me and were dead set on murdering me. For the second time. I was silent as I crawled from my coffin, and crept to behind where Eleri was trying to keep the officer from entering. She noticed me, but I grinned and put a finger to my lips. She looked back to the obnoxious female outside. “You let me in there this instant, you whore!” She yelled, and I nodded at Eleri. “Okay.” She stepped aside. “Thank you.” Cassie sniffed. She immediately saw me, and I wasn’t wearing a shirt. She seemed mesmerized. “Hey, Cass.” I drawled slowly, moving fluidly to stand straight and saunter over to her. “Um…What?” She asked, blinking rapidly, and I half-smiled like a totally self-absorbed asshole. Well, that fits my actual personality a little to close for comfort.

“Hey, pretty. Miss me?” I asked in a low, throaty voice. She swallowed audibly and seemed to nod as if she were forced. “I never forgot you, Cass. Never.” My eyes burned with convincing sincerity; false sincerity, but she didn’t know that. “I’m not an accountant, Cass. My real job requires me to go where I’m put when I’m put there. Please understand that if I could, I would have stayed with you.” I pleaded, and her eyes softened involuntarily. “My work doesn’t allow for romantic relationships, Cass. I’m sorry, but I can’t be with you.” I told her, and she nodded sadly. “I…I understand.” She started crying; I hated the crying. Cussing, yelling, anger, aggression, even full out violence I could handle. But I hated crying. “Now, Cass, don’t cry.” I pleaded for real now, eyes sorrowful. She sniffed and fled out the door, leaving me behind. I rubbed my face and started to dig in my pocket for my dental floss.

“That was…strange.” Eleri stated, and I started weaving rope. “I hate it when they cry.” I spat, going full speed, my full speed, on the rope. “Would you stop it? Why do you even do that, anyway?” She snapped, and I made a fast noose with what I had produced. “I picked it up in the cellblock. Nervous habit.” I explained, and she gave me a look of disgust. “That is just sad; you tried to kill yourself so many times it solves your stress issues?” She sounded scandalized, and I shrugged. “What else was there to do?” I asked pointedly, and she thought on it for a moment. “Did you get to play Scrabble?” She asked lamely, and I shook my head in false sadness. “Nope; apparently someone suffocated themselves on a letter A.” I laughed at the memory; it had been someone I hadn’t liked very much, fellow suicidal or not. “What did they give you to eat?” She asked, and I didn’t speak. “L?” She asked, and I still didn’t respond. “What did they give you to eat, Lucy?” She growled, and I slouched as if trying to cave in on myself. “My fellow cell-mates.” I answered at last, and she gasped in horror. “That’s monstrous!” She screamed breathily, and I nodded. “It was all they offered; eventually I couldn’t hold him in any longer.” I had gotten over their deaths; most of them had wanted to die anyway. It was, after all, Suicide Row.

“So you have killed people.” She said it as if I had confirmed her worst suspicion. “Yes.” I answered shortly, forcing myself to put the dental floss in my pocket again. “Lovely; and they paired me with you. Who the hell do I have to kill to get that changed?” She snarled, and I sighed. “Unfortunately, my boss. Who is under my personal protection.” I warned, and she threw me an annoyed look. “It was a rhetorical question.” She stated, and I made a noiseless ‘oh.’ I pressed my lips together, and moved into the bedroom. She followed me stubbornly, and we spent the day doing reconnaissance work; we checked out the big wig’s house, and then we scouted and mapped the rest of the town. We didn’t speak, and I knew she was still angry when we got back to the hotel room. I dug through my bag half-heartedly, not eating anything; I wasn’t hungry yet.

I took a glance out the window, and the sun was just peeking from the mountains. I looked to the ground with a silent sigh; time to go to bed. “Good night, Eleri.” I whispered just before I closed the top to my coffin. I hoped she wouldn’t kill me while I rested.

When I woke up, it was not sunset. It was about noon, and it was to my coffin exploding open. I wrenched myself free of the sleep I had been in, snarling savagely and lashing out with pure predatory instincts. “Betrayer! Deathbringer!” The words ripped out of me; it wasn’t my voice. It was the Demon’s. “L!” Quill shouted as my claws met with his face, and I stopped them just before they did permanent damage. I launched out of my coffin into the shadows, growling and breathing heavily. I used a little bit if my demon’s power to mold with the shadow a little, and Quill looked frightened. “L, calm down; I’m here to help you. It okay, L; Eleri called Delwyn and said she wanted backup for this one because you had to sleep in the daylight hours. It’s okay; I’m not here to kill you.” He said all this very fast, frantic, and I slowly stood out of my defensive crouch and came out of the corner. “Why would he send you?” I asked gruffly, and he smiled with anxiety. “He knew I was the only one who could wake you up during the daytime and not have you kill me.” He admitted, and I tried out a smile. He winced, and I pulled my lips back over my teeth; I could imagine what I looked like right now. Bloodshot eyes, fangs at the ready, claws at full extension. I drew in the claws and looked him over. “You look like shit.” I stated, and he laughed nervously. “Yeah. I brought you some blood; I nearly killed someone when I heard all they gave you was chicken.” He threw me the bottle, and he ducked on instinct when I threw it back at him. “Not hungry. Won’t be for a few hours yet.” I informed him, and he looked confused. “But you’ve been asleep for four hours; that’s usually how long chicken takes to wear off-” he cut off and grabbed my bag off the couch. He dug through it, and then gave me a horrified look. I suddenly remembered why I wasn’t hungry, and was sick to my stomach; I had taken not only human blood, but Eleri’s blood.

“No…Please tell me you didn’t do what I think you did.” He breathed hollowly, and I met his eyes for a second before I looked away. “I did.” I said without conviction. “No!” He shouted, and came forward to slap me. I caught his arm harmlessly and tossed him back without any real effort; he slammed against a table, and looked at me like I was a stranger. “How could you? You drank human blood; we’ve killed vamps for less!” He screamed at me, and I looked down to the floor. “I know.” I responded, and he looked heartbroken. “Why?” He breathed. “It was necessary.” I answered, and he let out a wordless cry. “Stop with the one sentence answers already!” He yelled in exasperation, and I said nothing. “Tell me why you did it, you stupid fuck!” I wouldn’t look at him. He pulled out a stake from the familiar coat, and I opened my arms as if to embrace him as he came at me with it. Just then a female voice ripped through the room. “Stop!” Eleri shouted, and I looked up in surprise. “What are you doing back? I figured you’d be doing more recon for at least another twenty minutes.” I questioned, and she looked horrified. “Meanwhile, you get dusted?” She snapped, and I gave her a solid stare. “Precisely. I ate you, for chrissake; I didn’t feel bad about it before because I was so goddamn drunk on it!” I snarled, and she took a step back. “I thought you had taken human blood before.” She asked cautiously, and I squeezed my eyes shut. “What?” Quill shrieked, and we ignored him. “Yes, but I didn’t have a choice then!” I exclaimed, and she crossed her arms across her chest. “What about the hunts you told me about before?” She challenged, and I bared my teeth in anger. “I had no choice. I should have found someone else!” I hissed, and Quill was still having major issues. “Other hunts?” He squealed, and I glanced at him. “Yes.” I said shortly. “I never told you about them.” I responded, and he looked stricken. I looked to Eleri again, and she was coming at me. She had nearly reached me, and I back up in surprise.

“I don’t recall giving you much of a choice, either.” She pointed out, and at that moment I couldn’t think of an answer; I stared at her as she pressed herself against me, just like she had before. She brought my head down to brush her neck, and I was suddenly parched; instinct was nearly undefeatable, but I held off for a moment as I pulled a few inches away from her neck. “I can’t-” I started, but she pressed my lips to her skin again and I couldn’t help it anymore. I bit down hard, and she breathed a sigh of pleasure; I couldn’t imagine why she would like this. It was just weird; even donors didn’t like it. They did it because it was a way to make a quick buck. I let her go gently, and she rested her head against my shoulder and I hugged her close; I was confused as hell, but she wanted comfort and by god I’d give it to her. “My Carwyn.” I whispered in her ear; you didn’t travel the world without knowing a lot of languages. I was speaking Gaelic, or Irish. It meant ‘holy,’ ‘white,’ and ‘pure.’ It suited her more than her name, which meant ‘bitter’ in Welsh. She rubbed her face against my shoulder, sighing in contentment; I looked at Quill over her head; he was shocked, and edging on mortified. I stared him down, challenging him to try anything as I wrapped my arms more securely around her. He looked away, shamefaced. Eleri turned to look at him after a moment, and then the fur flew. “What the fuck do you think you were going to do? I know I did not just see you pull a stake on my partner!” She shrieked, and I hurried to put an end to this spat before blood came out of it. “He thought I deserved it.” I said, and then in was my turn. “And you!” She snarled; oh, shit. “You welcomed it! I know you were suicidal, but I had no idea you still had tendencies!” She yelled, and I put a finger to her lips. “I don’t, normally. But…I ate you. For the love of hell, you can’t deny that was wrong!” I said, and she put her hands on her waist. “I can so! I can definitely deny that it was wrong! I had to corner you to get you to do it, and even then you pulled away sooner than I expected.” She said contrarily, and I frowned in annoyance. “It doesn’t matter what you did or how soon I let you go; I shouldn’t have put my fangs in you at all!” I spat, and she hit me upside the head. “You dumbass! I like being bitten; I’m a fucking true Hunter!” She hurled the fact at me, and I took an involuntary step back; I had been a true Hunter. Vampire saliva was like super-adrenaline with enough pleasure-inducing effect to confuse pain with pleasure; it made them more capable to fight, rather than weakened them.

She seemed hurt by my apparent wariness, until I stepped forward quickly and kissed her hard. She squeaked, but wrapped her fingers in my hair when I acted as if I was going to release her. Her tongue curled around one of my fangs, and I shuddered and adjusted my hold on her. Quill cleared his throat sharply, and I flipped him off behind her back. “Females have always made you go down a few levels of maturity.” He growled, and I broke away in exasperation. “You’re one to talk; you’re not exactly celibate yourself.” I shot back, and he bared his teeth in a horrid semblance of a smile. We were silent for a moment as we glared each other down, then we both broke into twin grins. I hugged him, despite the fact that both of us looked like shit and I was going vampy. He laughed as I let him go, and hit the back of my head good-naturedly. I took it; he always did that when I was an idiot.

“I can’t believe Delwyn put you with a Hunter.” He commented, and I shrugged. “But he did, so there you go; I’m just screwed all around. You’re trying to kill me; she’s not trying to kill me, but will be eventually, I’m sure; and I’m up before sunset. Anyone else seeing where this equals my screwed-ness?” I asked sardonically, and he cleared his throat again. “Yeah, about that…” He muttered, and I shrugged. “All is forgiven.” I said, and he smiled gratefully. He hated apologies. “What do you mean, I’ll be trying to kill you eventually?” Eleri scowled, and I looked her in the eyes. “You’re a Hunter; you’ll do what you have to. And if you have to kill me, you will.” I said simply, and she glared at me. “So?” She ground out. “I won’t need to.” She said this with anger, but underneath it was absolute faith. “Perhaps.” I placated, and Quill looked at me with pleading eyes. “This is very not safe.” He said, so softly only my vamp hearing could catch it. “I know.” I responded, and he shook his head. “What is going on in that head of yours now?” He wondered idly. If only he knew… The demon snickered, and I winced. “If only you knew.” I said before I could think. “I don’t think I want to.” Quill lied easily; he did want to know, if only because he could understand what I was going to do and how close I was to losing it. The second he could do without reading my mind; the first he couldn’t.

“So, how was being an office Nazi?” I asked, and he winced. “Those people are worse to work with than they are to work for; it’s like they’re as anal about everything as I am about you getting the proper nourishment. And I was looked down upon because I wasn’t!” He ranted, and I hid my amusement behind a sympathetic expression. “That’s why we call them Nazis.” I informed him mercilessly, and he glared. “No shit, Sherlock. I wouldn’t go back there, even for the pay raise they were offering.” He shuddered at the thought. I snickered, and he glowered sullenly until I sobered and cleared my throat. “So, is there anything else anyone needs from me?” I asked, and they both shook their heads in confusion. “Well, then I’ll see you all at sundown. If you don’t mind, could you let me sleep until the designated time?” I grumbled sardonically, climbing back into my coffin. “Yeah, sure. Don’t want to wake the creature before the sun goes down.” Quill was sarcastic as always, slamming the top down as I fell back into death-sleep.

When I woke up, I knew instinctively there was no one in the room other than my just awakened form, but there were two heartbeats through a wall in the room beside the bedroom; I groaned, and took my first shuddered breath of the night. The sound bounced off the walls as I opened the lid to my coffin, rubbing my aching head. I needed some major sleep in order to work it off, but I felt that sleeping past sundown would be rude and could possibly throw off our plans, if they had made any during the day. I stumbled into the next room, wearing some sweatpants that I had thrown on to cover myself. I didn’t usually wear anything, but now that Eleri was my partner I figured it would be better if I was wearing something. “Hey, the great hunter awakes.” Quill teased as I glared sleepily at him, baring my teeth his way. He felt around in my head; I don’t remember ever feeling it before, but I didn’t like it. I shoved him out, blocking my mind. “What the hell?” He muttered, shoving harder. I shoved back, and he let out a sharp gasp of pain. “L, someone is shielding your head!” He seemed alarmed, and I stared at him as I waited for him to grasp the actuality. “Oh.” He breathed. “It feels weird. Bad.” I grumbled, making my way to the kitchen in silence. My feet didn’t even make noise as I threw some crumbled up crackers in a cup of blood; it gave it texture.

“Why are you blocking me?” He demanded after a moment. “I just told you.” I glared at him, and he backed down immediately. “The only vampire who’s ever been able to block their mind from me was one who was known for killing true Hunters.” He accused, and I threw my eyes in Eleri’s direction. “Perhaps something in their blood?” I mused sleepily, still not up to par with the rest of the world. I wasn’t a morning person in life, and it hadn’t changed in death. I needed a cup of something liquid and half an hour before I was ready for action. I ruffled my wings in- wait one motherfucking second! Wings?

I looked at my back, and sure enough, there they were. Like black swan wings; my skin had turned black, and the wings were rapidly sprouting from my shoulder blades. “What the fuck?” I asked the general room, who was staring with awe at the new limbs. “Well, this isn’t good.” My voice changed in the middle of a sentence, to the demons voice. I grabbed the blood in front of me with clumsy claws, downing it in an instant; the only thing I could think of was that I was losing control…but I hadn’t been angry, or overwhelmed by any emotion. I didn’t understand; I wasn’t even hungry, really. I experimentally tried to change back; the demon in me shrieked with fury, and I redoubled my efforts. He slowly receded to a place where, I now knew, he was building power for another uprising. I found myself human again with an audible snap as my wings shot back into me; it hurt shockingly bad as I fell to all fours. “Well, that little fucker.” I exhaled and inhaled, deep unneeded breaths as I pulled myself together again. I stood with supernatural speed, grabbing a shirt off the couch and heading out the door. “L!” Eleri called after me, and I slowed so she could catch up. “Where are you going?” She asked, and I thought about it for a moment. “I don’t know. I just needed to get out of the room.” I responded finally. “But the scent of the people in the lobby…” She reminded me, and I gave a snort. “I couldn’t eat another human right now if I tried. I’m full.” I said, grinning what I hoped was a reassuring smile. Judging from her expression, it failed miserably. Perhaps it was edging on homicidal. I started moving again when she didn’t say anything else, and she moved with me.

“You’re not coming.” I ordered, trying to be stern. “Then stop me.” She challenged, and I was tempted to take her up on it. I decided against it at the last moment, whirling away and stalking out the door into the night. I figured I would just lose her. I took to the rooftops, jumping with supernaturally enhanced strength to land in top of one of the many apartment buildings surrounding our hotel. “L!” She yelled, and I looked back at her. “If you can’t keep up, don’t step up. Stay with Quill; he never could keep up either.” I was cold; almost emotionless. “What are you going to do?” She yelled as I turned my back on her. “I’m going to take care of him.” I know my smile scared her as I jumped, landing on the street again and taking off.

I’d say this whole fiasco demanded a renegotiation between me and my demon. I sat in a back alley, and poked him awake. “We need to talk.” I muttered, and he laughed. oh? He asked, feigning ignorance. “I can’t have you doing that all the time. It would equal both our demise.” I grumbled, fully aware it looked like I was talking to myself. Well, I was. Well, if you let me out once in a while, I wouldn’t have to do that. I want some FUN. He complained, and I thought about it for a moment. He listened in, waiting for me to decide a proposition. “Okay, here; every Wednesday and Friday I let you out; but you can’t kill anyone, and you have to stay human-looking. Sound fair?” I asked, and it was his turn to think. But I can feed, and on anyone I want. Besides your little human friends. He added quickly as my mind reeled from the idea. I gave in grudgingly. “Fine.” but I can talk to your human friends. I rather like them, myself. They amuse me. I winced. “Okay, but if I tell you not to say something, you can’t.” Done. And so it was final.

I walked aimlessly for a while, and he seemed to purr with contentment. I was happy too; this would make things so much easier. And I knew he’d keep his word; I knew his head as much as he did mine. Whatever else he was, he was true to his word. L? He asked politely, and I smiled. He was almost pleasant, now that he wasn’t cackling like a madman or trying to break free. “What?” I said, barely moving my lips. It’s Wednesday. I cussed. “So it is. Fine; but when we get back, you have to tell them about our arrangement.” So it shall be. I gave way, and retreated to the subconscious as he took the wheel.

............................................................ 

This body that I now controlled immediately started to walk differently. Less like a tamed tiger kitten and more like a panther on the hunt. I walked past a few shops, and stopped in front of a clothing store. I let a grin slide across L’s face. My name was Tenebrae, and I was what L called his ‘demon,’ and I liked to look sexy. I entered the store, rifling through the racks until I found something that would look awesome over the jeans I had seen in the window. A burgundy silk shirt, sure to fit like a second skin, was what I chose. I put it on, and I felt like the vampire I was. It was a sale.

I walked back out on the street wearing new patent-leather combat boots and the lovely silk shirt. I had also bought a pair of pants I liked more; artfully faded black jeans. I felt like hunting, but I wasn’t hungry after the absolutely fascinating Hunter. I wondered how she would take the whole compromise thing. Probably try to kill me; good luck with that. The only difference between his Most Humane Pain in the Ass and I was the eyes; well, if we both stood absolutely still in the same position. My eyes are right in between blood red and fire red; his are a tawny auburn. I grinned for no reason, my step jaunty and light. I was back at the hotel in no time, and took the time to walk through the lobby extra slow. Even if I couldn’t eat them, I could enjoy the bouquet. I smiled at an especially pretty woman who was staring at me, and she looked away, blushing but smiling. I went to the room, walking in like I owned it. Quill leaped to his feet, closely followed by Eleri running from the bedroom. I arched an eyebrow. Quill stopped her from getting too close, staring at me in horror. “What are you doing?” She snapped, and he looked at her. “It’s not him.” He said. I laughed. “So melodramatic.” I drawled mockingly, and he pulled a stake from nowhere. “Oh, put it away. I’ll leave if it’s really such an issue.” I threw myself onto the couch, splaying myself about like a cat. tell them about the deal, L reminded, and I rolled my eyes. “All right, all right, Lucifer. You’re so pushy sometimes.” I sighed and refocused my attention back to the two hostile humans. “Me and L made a deal. I get out Wednesday and Friday nights, but I can’t kill anyone and I have to look like this. No wings or black skin or fangs or any of that shit. But I can feed, on anyone except you two.” I let a grin spread across my face.

I felt rather spoiled. I was really getting a good deal with L, I knew from others back in hell. We recycled; if we’re dusted, we get thrown back into a new vamp. Of course, sometimes it takes a while, so we hang in hell. This was my first body, and I was very excited. “Why the fuck would he agree to that?” Eleri snapped, and my grin turned feral. “Because I’m insistent.” She turned pale, and then glared at me for a while. “I want to talk to L.” She snarled. “No can do; it’s my day. He can hear you, though. I’ll relay it if he has anything to say.” I favored compromise, especially with this one. She seemed rather fascinating. “How can I tell you apart?” She asked, and I stared into her eyes for a long moment. I finally arched an eyebrow, and she got it. “Oh, the eyes. Right.” She said. “And…It won’t be you most of the time?” I nodded. “Nope. Just Wednesday and Friday. Or in a really dire fight, but then I’ll have the wings and shit.” I shifted, and they both moved back a step. “Oh, stop. What am I going to do? Eat you? I’d rather keep my privileges, thanks. I’m not going to risk another renegotiation.” It was true; I liked having some freedom. Some time to stretch my legs in the conscious. “Yeah, sure. You’re a vampire.” I shrugged at his comment. “So? Doesn’t mean I’m completely feral. And the term we prefer is undead, thank you very much.” I was feeling peckish; the body burned blood faster when I was in the forefront. Not sure why, but I was rapidly going through it. And I was hungry. “Well, since you two seem to be having so much fun here, I’m going to leave.” I stood to go, and Quill grabbed my arm. “Why didn’t he tell me about you?” I looked into his eyes for a long moment. “Could you have handled it so soon after the Turn?” I asked rhetorically, and he took his hand off me like it was acid. My eyes swirled, a mingling of tawny before they shot back to red. I saw the wonder play across their faces as they watched, and then I was walking toward the window. “Hey, what are you doing?” Eleri asked as I opened it to its widest. “Well, it’s just as easy to go out this way.” I shrugged. “Could you carry me?” She asked, and I looked at her suspiciously. “Hypothetically, yes.” Don’t tell her that! L cried, but it was too late. “Whoops. Sorry, L.” I apologized, wincing. “Then take me with you.” Hell no! Don’t you dare! I was surprised by his vehemence. “L says no. Sorry, human.” I put my foot on the sill. “L, if you do not let him take me with him I will kick his ass. And then I’ll kick yours when you get back here. Goddamn it, L, I’m going with the thing.” She had a temper, this one. There was a heavy sigh in my mind. Fine. Take her, but slip her when you’re actually going to feed. “You got it.” I wrapped an arm around her waist and jumped.

She screamed, but cut it off when I landed on the roof next door. “Now, you’ll attract attention if you do that every time.” I admonished, and she glared wordlessly. I slung her over my back and started running, jumping when I needed to. Finally I stopped outside of a suitable bar. “Hey L, I take it I’m not allowed to max out your credit cards?” I asked, and he didn’t say anything. “Well, fine then. Don’t talk to me.” I said, aware he was in a pissy mood. “Come along, then, Eleri.” I said, taking a casual step off the roof and falling to the street. I put her down and walked across the street and in the door, her staggering a little and then following. I ordered a vodka, and the man tried to card me. Fortunately, he was vamp-smart. He saw my eyes and thought better of it. “Sure you don’t want a Bloody Magdalene?” He asked softly, and I smiled. “That would be great.” I said; figures I would walk into one of the few blood-supplied bars there are. A Bloody Magdalene was a Bloody Mary with blood instead of tomato juice. He handed it to me, and I paid him a rather large tip. I made my way to a table ready to look all broody and depressed. It attracted women like moths to a flame.

That was when Eleri plopped down across from me. “What are you doing?” I asked, my eyes warning her away. “Watching you.” She spat, and I let a slow smile spread across my face. “Then watch this.” My eyes were challenging as I got up. I turned my attention to a random girl at the bar. I fed her a line, and when she responded I could tell she was already drunk. Well, battle half won, I suppose. I talked to her for a while longer, and then she turned her entire attention to me. That was when I knew I had her. “Do you want to go somewhere else?” My tone and expression suggested something private. “I suppose.” She answered slyly, moving out the door with me. “What’s your name?” She asked, and I smiled as I opened the door for her. “Liam.” I answered. Names were powerful things, and I didn’t give mine out often.

“Creature!” I heard Eleri hiss, just loud enough that I could hear. I turned to look at her as I followed the girl out, and my grin turned predatory as I flashed my fangs out at her. She paled and got up to go. “Hey, I know a shortcut.” I whispered in the girls ear as I took her into a dead end alley. I had her, and at the last moment she realized it. She backed against the brick, and I snarled. It wasn’t a human sound; like a hunting tiger. She drew a breath to scream, and then I was on her. It cut off as I bit into her, and as the blood poured into me I could feel the hunt pulsing through my veins. I stopped when L nudged me, as I always did. I didn’t need more than he stopped me at. I didn’t need to kill.

I left her where I knew she’d be found- outside the bar I’d found her in. my bite had already healed, but she was out cold. I arranged her to look like she had passed out, and then started to walk away. “Killer.” It was nothing more than a soft hiss from the shadows, but it caught my attention. “True. But not hers.” I looked at Eleri’s slim form in the same alley I had just recently vacated. “How long you been there?” I asked conversationally, and she stepped into the light. She leaned to take the girls pulse; she apparently found it to her satisfaction, because she didn’t try to put a stake in me. “I was there in time to catch the fear in her eyes.” She responded coldly. “Ah. Most of the time, then.” I licked my lips, found them bloody. It is amazingly hard to be a clean eater when your meal fights back. I wiped it discreetly, and found it wasn’t too bad. “Do you like to kill?” She asked coldly, obviously thinking she knew the answer already. She wasn’t prepared for pause I gave before answering. “I don’t know.” I muttered, and I wasn’t sure if she’d heard it. Her expression said she had. “Honestly, this is all kind of new for me too. My first body, and all.” All Hunters knew we recycled. “Your first?” She seemed even more surprised. “Yep. I kind of snuck in. I wasn’t technically assigned.” I said, shamefaced. “There hasn’t been a brand new one of your sort since the stone age!” She yelped. And I smiled. “What can I say; I was tired of waiting around.” I felt myself shrink inward, slouching. “Well…Huh.” She was speechless, I could tell. “Weird.” She said finally.

“Let’s head back; I have the feeling Quill is wondering if I ate you.” I said, offering my hand. She stared at it, and it seemed strangely important to me that she take it. She did, after a moment, and I pulled her to me and ran back. I set her down outside the door, and opened it for her. “My arms aren’t broken you know.” She said. I chose not to speak. I entered, and looked at the clock. “Nearly morning. Well, it’s your turn again, L.” I receded back into my place, with lots to mull over from my jaunt.

The End

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