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Scarlet laid next to me on the bed, gazing at me as I gazed at her. Her hand gently caressed my cheek as I tried to stay awake. The others had left, finally, and Scarlet and Blacke had left together, just for Scarlet to sneak back in through my window.

Now she was staring longingly at me.

“I’m not leaving,” she whispered. Mike probably wasn't asleep yet, and after the other night with Lee, I didn't want to fight with him again.

“Is that what you were talking to your brother about?” I asked.

She nodded. “Demetrius won't be happy. But it's my choice.”

I nodded, and pushed some hair from her face. She looked older now. And younger at the same time. Something about her face and body wasn't quite right. I thought maybe it was from her experience back before she was a vampire. Extended periods of malnourishment could make a person small and immature looking. Although her face expressed just how old she was.

With a kiss, I reassured her. “Let me know if there's anything I can do.”

She nodded. “We have to take care of this,” she said. “We need to find others like us, and see how they get by. And Demetrius won’t talk to us about whoever changed him.”

I smoothed her hair back again. I didn't want our time in the bed to end, but I knew she had to go.

“I love you,” I told her. “Come back safe, okay?”

She nodded. “I will.”

She returned my earlier kiss with a quick peck, and slid off the bed and then out the window.

My heart ached in ways I didn't like. But she was her own person and this was an issue she was going to need to deal with eventually. If I was the catalyst for her to encounter more of her kind, then so be it 

I found myself laying there, wondering how dangerous it was. They'd never run into others of their kind. That meant they didn't know the proper etiquette, if there was any, to these kinds of things. I wondered why– or perhaps how– they’d never run into others like themselves. If there were vampire hunters, there had to be enough of a vampire population to warrant them. And yet… Scarlet made it sound like it wasn’t strange that in all that travelling, they’d never found another vampire group.

Whatever the case, I prayed she got back safely.

The grey van shuddered to a stop along the city street. Blacke sighed heavily as he observed the fog hanging in the air. It shrouded most of his surroundings, but he recognized the familiarity of the city. It wasn’t a big city, but it had all of the qualities of a city. And that was what he needed right now. The dense population.

He unbuckled himself and shoved the door open with the all-to-familiar creak. In the passenger seat, Scarlet mimicked his motions. She had a determined expression on her face.

“This is ironic,” Blacke grumbled as they climbed out.

“Hm?” Scarlet questioned.

“The hunted becoming hunters,” he elaborated.

Scarlet nodded. “But it’s necessary now.” Her gaze scanned the foggy outlines of the buildings and street signs. The lights of traffic signals also blurred in the haze, and struggled to shed any light on the ground around them.

“Will you be okay on your own here? Do you know how to find your way if you get lost?” Blacke couldn’t help it. He knew she was capable of most things on her own, but it was hard to let go of protective instincts.

Either way, she nodded. “I’ve made my decision and I’m not about to have you take care of me like I’m just a little kid.”

He had to accept that answer. She looked far smaller than she should have been, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t an adult. Prolonged malnourishment and trauma had a habit of doing that. He had the opposite effect. The malnourishment had only left him skinny for a time. More telling was the aging on his face he had to stare at everytime he looked in a mirror.

“I’ll look around downtown,” he told her. “Do you wanna hit up the college campus?”

She nodded and immediately started to wander off.

His nerves almost got the better of him, but he stopped himself from calling her back and going over an emergency plan. She could handle herself, he reminded himself. For someone so small, she’d taken down a number of humans on her own. She just tended to be rather messy about it. But it wasn’t her fault that wasn’t a skill that Demetrius had taught her, or that he, himself, hadn’t thought to teach her. With a sigh, he turned back in the downtown direction and inhaled deeply. There were lots of people here. And a lot of different smells he found distracting. Everything from rotting animals to thick, smoky billows of weed. He started to wander, focusing on that sense of smell. There was perfume, moldy pizza, another dead rat down in the sewers.

Their plan had sounded simple enough. Surely the densely populated city would have at least one vampire residing in it. And hopefully that vampire might have more answers for them than Demetrius did. That was the hope, at least. Now that he was here and trying to pick apart smells in the convoluted mess, he was realizing just how difficult that was going to be. But small towns were too small for a vampire to settle down in for a long time. People would notice eventually, someone who didn’t age, didn’t go out in sunlight and certainly had to consume raw blood or flesh. 

It felt like forever he wandered, passing by the apartments, the shopfronts, learning new smells but nothing reminiscent of him and Scarlet and Demetrius.

The sky started to change color when he turned back to find the van. It was fruitless, and frustrating. He kicked a random pebble, seeing it skitter off into darkness.

Scarlet was waiting for him back at the van, looking sad.

“Anything?” he asked, hopeful.

She shook her head. There was nothing for them here. Nobody to give them answers.

“We'll try again later,” he reassured her.

She wasn't happy, but it was all they could do.

 


AN: I'm back! I think. I hope, maybe. (It's gonna be dicey as I'm on the job hunt again and that makes it so difficult to think straight with the amount of stress that gives me.) But its all good. I'll be hither and thither and try to return to the every other day update schedule in any case.

Hope you enjoy the story.

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