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Scarlet was frowning harshly in the passenger seat, anxious.

There were no words that could express the anger inside of her. She wanted to scream, and slam her fists against the dashboard but that wouldn't get her anywhere, and it would only earn her a lecture from Blacke about not deploying the airbag by mistake.

He, too, was quiet as he drove a few towns over.

“I’m sorry,” he managed after a long time.

Scarlet was taken aback for a moment. It had been years since she's heard anybody speak German to her, much less that particular dialect her brother and her shared from decades before. But she quickly recovered as her emotions caught up.

“Did you know?” she asked. 

“He said something, but I thought he was full of shit.” Her brother didn't look at her. Pretending to focus far more on the road than he usually did.

Scarlet returned the favor by staring intently out the side window, but kept an eye on his vague reflection in the glass.

“Has he always been this way?” she grumbled. “I remember him yelling at me a lot… but he never was this violent…” she trailed off, trying not to think about how miserable she'd been back in those days.  

Blacke was quiet again for a long time, gently turning through an intersection while he debated a thought in his head. “I thought…” he started. “It was a necessary evil, but the longer I stayed with him the more controlling he got, the angrier whenever I tried to do something my own way… I think… he has never been a good person. To us or anybody.”

Another round of silence followed.

“Do we know anything about ourselves that he didn't tell us?” She asked.

Blacke shook his head. “Only who we were as people.”

She was quiet and looked down at the scrap of paper Lexi had given her. She didn't ask where she got the information. It was difficult to discuss things in the hospital, but she knew Lexi wouldn’t give them information she thought was unreliable.

Several minutes later, Blacke pulled over in the dismal downtown area of this small place. Nothing was open, and the two people wandering were walking somewhere with a purpose, not just milling about.

It seemed like too nice of a place for beasts and monsters to have settled down.

“We should stick together,”  Blacke suggested. “I don’t want to be taken off guard.”

Scarlet looked up at him. “Do you think others like us are territorial?” she asked.

“It’s not impossible,” he said.

They got out, and wandered onto the sidewalk. They were discreet about it but still smelled in the air, trying to track the horde of scents that roamed in the air. It wasn’t easy, but they were well versed in hunting with scent and telling species apart was much simpler that individuals.

“Maybe…” Scarlet took a step in a direction, and tried to focus on a stale one that kept flitting in and out of her perception. “I think this might be promising,” she said.

Blacke moved closer and made amore audible sniffing sound, but he nodded after a moment. “Where is it coming from?” he asked.

Scarlet investigated, and found its vague direction and moved in it. For a while the going was slow but as they got closer to the source’s frequented places, it got easier. They finally approached a small, cheap-looking but maintained house where the smell was strongest and was mingling with other scents of that other breed of humanoid creature.

“Is this it?” Blacke pondered. It was so strange to think of vampires living an ordinary undisturbed life in suburbs like these but from what he could tell from the outside, ordinary people lived here. “The smell is definitely…” he trailed off. It was difficult to imagine the smell that was so like his and Scarlets, and even Demetrius’ as being just ordinary people but they hadn’t really had encounters with others of their kind so it wasn’t exactly a guarantee, possibly just a coincidence.

And then the front door opened, letting out a rush of air that was very evidently vampiric and tainted with animal blood.

A young man– or who appeared to be a young man– pulled a dog outside behind him and started to lead the little mutt towards the grassy front lawn, when he froze and looked up at the two siblings now staring at him. There weren’t any questions about who was who in that moment. They already knew instinctively that the other was a vampire and the tension rose considerably as the man pulled his dog’s lead behind him, earning an annoyed nip as the little thing was pulled away from the patch he was smelling intently.

“Can I help you?” the young man asked.

Scarlet and Blacke pressed closer to each other but at the same time started rambling a number of words that made little sense to the newcomer.

After a stressful moment the young man seemed to realize they weren’t out for blood and waved them off to get them to stop talking.

“Tell me your names,” he said instead. His dog was now staring at them with interest.

“I’m Blacke and this is my sister Scarlet,” Black explained, relieved to have a simple question. “We’re… you know.”

The youngman thought a moment until he realized what they wanted. “Oh,” he said. “You’re newly-changed’s.”

The siblings looked at each other, before nodding. It was the first time they’d heard the term, but the meaning was self-evident.

“Were you ditched?” the young man asked. “So you must be so confused about everything. Come in, we’ll get you all fixed up.” He gave them a wave and then dragged the dog back to the door, where he waited for them to follow.

It took much courage to move from their spot, but each step got easier the closer to the door.

The inside was dimly lit, and they moved into this man’s living space. “Don’t worry,” he rambled. “Everybody’s a vamp here, no need to hide. And that you-have-to-be-invited-in thing is a myth.” He kicked his shoes off. “You should probably be more careful tracking random vamps though, it can be kinda rude.”

“I’m sorry,” Blacke managed to get in before the other vamp was explaining they could throw their shoes wherever on the pile and their coats were welcome on any of the hooks by the door.

The small mutt was snuffling around their feet, but was well mannered enough to not jump up on their legs.

“Don’t mind him,” the young man continued on. “He’s just curious. We don’t get a lot of visitors, as you can imagine.” With that he had disappeared around a corner, leaving the two of them to silently take their shoes and coats off.

There was talking around the bend now, more excited chatter from their greeter, followed by a more lowkey questions before a stout man came around to greet them, looking mildly ruffled. Their greeter returned behind him and with a few quick gestures said. “So this is Blacke and Scarlet. You guys, this is Marc, he can be grumpy but he’s a good dude. Oh and I’m Leo.” He vigorously shook both their hands.  While the newcomer, ‘Marc’ observed them with narrowed eyes.

“You’re newly-changeds?” he asked.

“Uh, yes,” Blacke managed. Scarlet stayed next to him, looking on. “Siblings,” he explained. “But we don’t… really know how to…”

“Take care of yourselves,” Marc finished for him. “Come sit, we’ll get you all informed up, yeah?”

With an immense sense of solemn gratitude, they followed the man to a small living room and got situated on the couch, ready to be there for quite some time.

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