It's with a twisting stomach I watch as Jesse flits in front of our car.
"Mickey's dead, Alex is on the move, and I better be getting something really good out of this," he says, smiling at the look on Connor's face. "I was listening to your radio thing. Clever invention, aren't they? Never had anything like that in my day." I open my mouth uncertainly to say something, but Connor gets there first.
"We'll give you a head start next time we're sent after you, how's that?" he returns Jesse's smile tightly. The offer is tutted at.
"Now, now. Your kind has been an unnecessary blight on mine. We can regulate ourselves pretty well; we know how to keep a low profile. It's difficult, uneducated newborns like Alex that cause the problems. I could have killed you already, if I wanted to," he stands back, still smiling, letting us realise he's right. "But I haven't. Aren't I nice?" Connor looks like he's about to say no, no he's not nice, but Jesse keeps talking. "Since I didn't get a chance to make a proper deal with you the other day without getting burnt, I'm going to make one with you now." He looks at Connor expectantly. It's like I'm not even here.
"Don't ignore me just because I've got tits," I glower at him and he just smiles again.
"I'm not ignoring you." He says. Connor rolls his eyes and sighs.
"What're you offering us, then?" he asks in this resigned tone.
"I will deal with Alex, and protect you two from him, if you retire after this job and specifically let me live," I start to protest but Jesse holds up his hand, waiting for me to shut up. Reluctantly, and irritably, I let him continue. "Hunters go after every vampire they come across. I'll be the first to admit, you do a good job of hunting us. You've forced us to find new ways to stay unnoticed, made it harder to get on with our lives. Most of us have night jobs, we are a positive contribution to your society, and if a human is drained during a feed, it is unintentional, and we punish the one responsible. Hunters are needlessly killing vampires that have done nothing more than do what they have to in order to survive." I can see Connor biting back the urge to tell him to go fuck himself, and I'm trying not to tell him just how much damage "his kind" really do.
"I'm not retiring." I say flatly.
"Mickey didn't last long enough to get his finger on the trigger. Wanna reconsider?" Is he threatening us? I narrow my eyes, tempted to accuse him.
But... guaranteed safety from him? Our lives protected in exchange for letting him live and abandoning my career? My thoughts flick to my husband and I realise I can't run the risk. Jesse would let Alex kill us before upholding his end of the deal.
"I'll let you live. But I'm not retiring," Connor states a little coldly and Jesse frowns.
"Then I can't guarantee you safety from Alex," he looks at me, "and you?" I swallow and hang up my pride with a heavy heart.
"I'll let you live, and retire, if that's what it takes." He nods and smiles approvingly.
"Well at least one of you made the right choice," he mutters, taking another step away from the car, "so, I protect the woman but not the man. How very old school." He laughs and vanishes from sight. Connor is frozen with anger.
"Sexist-" he starts but I cut him off with a slap.
"Fucking idiot! Can't swallow your pride for shit, can you? He's offering to protect us from a creature that did away with Mickey before he could blink, and you turn it down?" I can feel my voice rising and do my best to stop, but it's so hard when I'm being subjected to constant, testosterone driven idiocy.
"Oh, and you're going to rely on his word like a good woman, are you?" he sneers and I punch him. Well. My fist kind of did its own thing, which involved making sharp contact with Connor's nose.
"No, am bloody well not," I snarl, taking a breath before saying anything else, ignoring his whining as he clutches his nose, "there're tissues in the back. Once you're done bleeding, can you let boss know Mickey's dead, please." And while he does that, I can consider whether this is going to affect my ability to kill a vampire wearing my friend's face.