Ever been alone with a symphath? That's what you are right now. Alone. With me. Look around you.
You still have time to run, but that just makes it more fun for me.
Trials of a Pretrans
Sophia: *Walking in Downtown Caldwell, looking for a few more places to apply at before I go home and the bars get really busy. I know they are getting ready to open, if not are already open and not busy as of yet. Turning the corner and seeing the sign for ZeroSum lit up, on a whim I walk in the doors and look around. Trying to find someone to talk to about a job. As I look around, I see the huge dance floor that I danced on a few weeks ago when I was still employed at the bookstore, as well as the huge bar behind me. Seeing a gentleman behind the bar wiping down the counter and getting ready for the rush to come in, I walk over to him.* Excuse me, sir. I’m wondering if you would happen to know if there are any job openings available? *When he looks up from what he is doing and gives me a once over, I can see that he’s not really sure if I’m supposed to be here, I’m in jeans and heels with a red tank with a few new piercings in my ears. Sorry if I’m not as edgy as he’s used to but I’m tougher than I look. He shrugs and tells me that the only person who would know would be his boss. When I ask him if he would be able to find out for me, as I definitely need a job, he shrugs again and motions for me to follow him, telling another guy to take over at the bar for him until he gets back. He walks me through the bar to a door which I assume leads to an office and knocks on it.*
Xhex: *A cursory scan of my paperwork shows that everything seems to be in line for the night. Makes it hard to post extra security when the humans are behaving themselves, but one extra bouncer won’t draw too much attention. At least ZeroSum is pretty open, unlike Iron Mask with all the small booths and hidden corners. If there are going to be any more abductions, it’s more likely to happen here than at the Mask, but I still cover off both, alternating nights and making sure all staff know who they’re looking out for. A knock on my door brings my head around. It’s too early for any real trouble, and any visit from the CPD would have hit my earpiece before it hit my door. Throwing the thing open, I see one of the newer bartenders standing there with a female.* Everything okay?
Sophia: *Looking at the tough female standing in front of me and sensing that there is something about her, mentally shaking my head and stepping forward.* I asked him if he knew if there were any job openings and he brought me back here, saying that you would possibly know. *Sticking my hand out.* My name is Sophia. I’m currently unemployed and am wondering if you would need some help. I’m a hard worker and willing to do what you would need me to do. I just can’t be without work for long. It’s not possible for me and I really need a job. *Realizing that I’m rambling and stopping as soon as I figure it out.* So, do you think you may need help? *Silently praying to the Scribe Virgin that you do.*
Xhex: *Fuck. Where is our HBIC when these females come in? She has that air of desperation that most of the working girls have when they first show up looking for any job available. I can tell she’s vampire, but not yet through her transition. Not a good position for a lone female, even in this day and age. I nod to the bartender as I step back, gesturing to my office.* Come on in. I’m in charge of security, but until Marie-Therese clocks in, I can go over the basics. *I close the door, and give Sophia a quick once over. She’s pretty enough, but as a pretransition female, she should have zero interest in sex. Desperate people do a lot of things they don’t like though.* I’m Xhex, Alex to the humans in the club. You ever do this kind of work before?
Sophia: *shaking my head* No, I’ve most recently worked in a bookstore. Before that… *pausing and realizing that I don’t want to bring up what happened with my family just yet.* Well, I didn’t have any work. However, I’m a fast learner and can do almost anything. *Knowing that since she says the word “humans” that she’s most likely a vampire. Wondering if she is aware that I’m a pretrans female. I contemplate informing her, but decide against it.
Xhex: *I nod slowly, not needing the details to get a decent picture. Something happened to send this female out into the workforce before her transition, but the job fell through, and now she needs cash. It’s not a new story at all, only the details change.* Okay. We always have room for more working girls. You get to pick your clients, and if anyone gives you a hard time, that’s what security is for. *I flash my fangs in a quick smile.* I enjoy my job, so don’t worry about bothering me if any of the Johns try to short you. Marie-Therese can go over the specifics of which girls work which areas of the club, but the men want what they want. *I look directly in Sophia’s eyes.* How much longer before your transition? We can help you find someone if you don’t have a male lined up already.
Sophia: *Blinking as I hear the words “Working Girls”, “Johns”, and “security”. Wondering what she is talking about until my reading knowledge comes back at me full force.* OH no! No, you misunderstand me. I’ve never been in a sexual position before. In my past, I was very, how shall I put this, sequestered? I suppose? I came here looking to see if you would need any cleaning staff or something. *Taking a deep breath and hoping that my face will eventually turn back to a normal shade, not the beet red that I know it is now* As for my transition, I am 23, almost 24, now and I suppose I only have about another year or two to go?
Xhex: *Shit. Misread that one completely.* My apologies. You have that air of desperation that a lot of women and females have when they come here looking to make money fast. I did think it was a strange choice for a pretrans, but it is the quickest way to make cash working in this club. *I gesture at the chair as I go over to the filing cabinet.* Have a seat. I’ll see what other openings we might have. The cleaning crew is outsourced since they sometimes run to daylight hours, but I can get you their number. They’re all bonded, but it’s not hard to work around the background checks if you have a fake ID for the human world. *I pull out a file and flip through, continuing to talk as I check the turnover.* We recently hired a bartender, but we have an opening for a waitress on the main floor. Tips are better back in VIP, but new hires don’t get to start there. You’ll want to start early in the week to get a feel for it. Traffic is lighter then than on the weekends. *I flip the folder shut* This club is vampire owned. That’s widely known in the species, so we get quite a few coming through the doors. Is there anything I should know about anyone who might show up and cause trouble?
Sophia: *Sighing and nodding* I am willing to start on the main floor as a waitress. I have never done it before, but I’ willing to try it. It’s better than being unemployed, right? *laughs a little. Taking the seat offered and my brain’s alert system goes off when you ask if there is anyone who may be trouble. I’m not sure if my ex-family would go after me here. Not after the last time. Weighing the options on how to bring up any problems if they arise, as I know that a few of my male cousins frequent here during the week. Taking a breath* All I’m going to say is that I will let you know if anyone who I know is a problem immediately after I see them walk in the door. I have a past and am not willing to speak about it just yet. It’s still fresh in my mind and I’m looking to get over it. *Folding my arms and giving you a look that I hope says “Don’t ask and if you do, I am leaving now.*
Xhex: *I stare at you for a while, weighing everything you have and have not said* Fair enough. If it does become a problem, I can get you in touch with the cleaning company. We have some other connections we could follow up on, but let’s not worry about that now. You can hang here for the night and keep an eye on how things go. There’s a set way to place drink orders at the bar, but you’ll probably spot that quickly. Most of it is keeping your eyes open for anyone who might knock you down.
Sophia: *Nodding* That sounds reasonable. I do hope for both of our sake that nothing bad happens because of me. *Feeling a little bad when I say that but knowing that I have to move on. It’s part of the process.* Might I ask a few questions? Such as what forms will need filled out for employment, assuming that I even get the job, as well as who would be teaching me the ropes? *Chuckling a little* Don’t worry about me getting knocked down. I’m tougher than I look and can get out of the way relatively quickly.
Xhex: *I pull a set of papers out of the top drawer of the filing cabinet.* Paperwork is pretty standard. Lisa will be in on Tuesday, and I’ll have you shadow her. She’s next in line when there’s an opening in VIP, and she knows her stuff. Take the forms with you, and you can bring them back on Tuesday.
Sophia: *Taking the papers from you and nodding* You got it. I can get these filled out and bring them back. If I have questions, you mind if I ask then? *Watching you shake your head and say that it’s not a problem. Thanking you and exiting the club, walking back to my apartment with a sigh of relief. I will not let them down.*
Xhexania: *With the winter snow finally melting, I decide I really need a ride to clear my head. The nights aren’t as bitterly cold anymore, and the roads are clear enough of salt that I won’t be trashing my Ducati. Pausing as I wheel my bike out of the shed, I grab the helmet that I’ve never worn. It may still be too cold for @NoOne_BDBRW, but I only planned a short ride to start. She might not even like it. I make sure the shed is secured before throwing a leg over and kicking the engine to life. I can tell that #JohnMatthew is downtown, or at least that he’s not in the direction of the mansion. Staff have started to notice that I don’t follow my own rules about downtime, so actually taking my night off is a good plan. Before I know it, I’m making my way through the security checkpoints. This is not a planned visit, but I’m known, so I pass through quickly. Grabbing the helmet from the back of my Ducati, I head inside, hoping my mahmen is up for a ride.*
Autumn: *I head out toward the library. The day has been long and I barely slept. I need to feed. There’s no much time left. I am feeling more lethargic every night that goes by. Of all the things I thought about coming to this side, feeding was not on the top of my list. I should have known better. Opens the library’s door and looks inside. Great, nobody is here. I get in and close the door behind me. The laptop that @Vishous_BDBRW has set up for me is exactly where I left it. I grab a chair and sit. Flipping the laptop open, I log in and the book I was reading yesterday pops up immediately. I suppose I cannot find my answers “online” can I? Sighs. I know what to do. I need to call mine Daughter and let her know. If I am going to cross over to the Other Side for a couple of days, I better let her know. I don’t want her to freak out. Maybe I am kidding myself. Maybe she won’t even notice it. Regardless, if not for her, for myself. I will feel better if I tell her. I scroll down and find the page I was reading yesterday. Dammit all this and its bookmarks. I have no idea how this works. But I am getting there. I should be proud of my little accomplishments*
Xhexania: *As I wait with my face pointed at the vestibule camera, I wonder if this is pointless. We had one shopping trip. My mahmen and I may as well still be strangers. The extra items I found that she picked up for me certainly aren’t things I would buy for myself, though putting spikes on a frickin’ pocketbook makes the damn thing almost practical. With everything going sideways between me and #John, I haven’t exactly been around to get acquainted. I wonder if @NoOne_BDBRW even tried on the leather riding clothes I got for her. Frowning, I reach over and hit the vestibule buzzer. I expected to be let straight in with how quick the gates opened. I run my free hand over my hair as a doggen opens the door, a tiny little female who looks nervous. I nod my thanks as I step inside and wonder where to start looking for my mahmen.*
Autumn: *After reading a couple of pages, I feel -and hear- my stomach growling. I better get myself some food. I can’t afford to being both lethargic and hungry. Although my body is asking for blood not food. Whatever. I head out toward the kitchen. I found a Doggen in my way and I nod as he pases by me. Once in the kitchen, I open the refrigerator. Some beef pastrami catches my eyes. Ugh…my stomach growls even more at the sight of that pinky meat. Well, pastrami will be. I fix myself a quick sandwich. I really cannot wait to eat it. Mayo, mustard and lots of meat between two slices of rye bread. Biting into it, I close my eyes as I chew slowly. Ok, this feels better. I keep biting and chewing, eat bite makes me feel a little bit better. At least my stomach has stopped growling. Good thing I am alone. The sight of me wolfing down the sandwich I bet it’s not pretty at all. I open again the fridge and grab a bottle of Spring water and an apple. I better head back to the library before anybody sees me.*
Xhexania: *The mansion is pretty quiet with most of the males out on rotation, and a number of the females volunteering at Safe Place, so the quiet footsteps from the kitchen seem like a good place to start. I should have asked the doggen if she knew where to find @NoOne_BDBRW. I smile as I see my mahmen with her sandwich. At least she hasn’t succumbed to the junk food binges of @Rhage_BDBRW* Am I interrupting your meal?
Autumn: *I look towards the kitchen door as soon as I hear mine daughter’s voice. Proof that I am feeling weaker each day is the fact that I didn’t notice she was here. Nothing. Not her steps not her scent. Sighs as I look at her. She seems stressed. But I know better than to ask. If she wants to share with me, she will. Besides, the fact that she’s here, it’s enough for me. Hopefully she came to visit me. I won’t keep my hopes up though. She could be here for a lot of reasons. I’m going to enjoy whatever time she wants to spend with me. I need to tell her about the feeding thing, anyway. I smile at her* Hi! It’s good to see you around. *nods* I am done now and was ready to head off back to the Library. Do you want me to fix some food for you? *smiles as I wait for your answer. Hopefully we can spend some time together*
Xhexania: *I catch the sigh before you fix a smile on your face. My eyes narrow as I notice a slight pallor. I can tell something is up, and not just the obvious need to feed. It’s not my place to say anything. Opinions run thick in the mansion, which is my biggest reason for staying away. Part of me misses being here, and part of me misses the way things were before #JohnMatthew. Life is all about change though, and I wouldn’t have gotten to meet you if not for all the twists life takes. I brush off your offer of food with a quick shake of my head.* I’ve already eaten, but thanks. Are you set on that library plan of yours, or can I talk you into something more exciting? *I pull the helmet out from behind my back with a smile.* I still owe you a ride.
Autumn: *I look at you as you try to find what to say. I get it. After all you went through, I decided to stop by and break the news to you. On your mating day. As if that day wasn’t already stressful enough. I should have waited. That ship sailed long ago though. What’s done is done. I wish things were different with #JohnMatthew Deep down, I think is mostly a selfish thing. If your relationship would be back to what it was, well not that way but better, you will back here. I will be having you around more. Even if you did ignore me, I would still seeing you more often. I would know that you are fine, and save and…yeah.Ok. I can’t help but smile widely when you pull the helmet out from behind your back. I can’t believe you still want me to go out with you. I have to control my excitement before I answer you* Yes! I would love to do that. In fact, you are the only person I trust to take me out *smiles*. Let me change into a more appropriate outfit. I’ll be fast, I promise. Would you like to wait for me at the Library?….*looks down to the floor* It’s a quiet place…nobody goes there. Ever…..
Xhexania: *I’m sure the state of my mating with #JohnMatthew is a topic of gossip, or at least concern, around the mansion and your words bring a sad smile to my face.* It’s okay. #John’s already out on rotation downtown, so I’ll just wait here. If you still have the riding leathers I got you, they’re a good choice. *I gesture down at my own* I never wear a helmet, but road rash is a bitch, and there’s a lot of salt around after this winter. *I’m not good at the conversation thing, but that’s something I need to work on here if I want to get closer with you.* I thought you’d feel more comfortable with a helmet the first time, but that’s your choice. *I run my hand over my hair, out of things to say.* No need to rush, we still have hours until dawn. I’ll just be down here.
Autumn: *I keep my eyes fixated on the kitchen’s checkered floor. You can say what you want. You love him, he loves you, and this situation sucks. You are a strong female, yes, but it doesn’t mean this is not heavy on you. I look up at you and smile.* I’ll be right back. *before I turn around look you in the eye* I trust your driving skills with my life *points at the helmet* but helmets are on for this ride. I won’t lose you again, Xhexania.*turns around quickly before you get any chance to reply. I am sure I won’t like what you have to say. Despite it is true. I did leave you. I am the one who did it. It hurts all the same. Never again. Ever. I got inside my room, happy nobody was in my way and I quickly change into the more appropriate outfit. I am nervous, indeed. Mostly because the idea of you wanting to spend more time with me is beyond everything I have expected. Better get ready soon, I don’t want you to change your mind*
Xhexania: *I blink as you turn to rush out of the kitchen and up the stairs,your limp barely noticeable. Did you really just try to tell me to wear a helmet? Too bad I’ve only got one, and it’s going on you. As I walk the kitchen in slow circles, scaring off any doggen who try to enter, I think the library might have been a better place to wait after all. Things are screwed up between me and #John, but I have a chance to know my mahmen as a friend. The fear that used to flare around you in my presence is gone, but the sorrow remains. Nerves, but also cautious happiness. I have another reason to come here, and I need to remember that. It would be easier if I was living here, but a gilded cage is still a cage, and the testosterone loyalty is thick in this building. I head back out to the foyer to give the doggen a break from my prowling through their territory. I look up the stairs in time to see you come down in the riding leathers I gave you. They don’t fit as well as I thought they would, but the robing made things hard to judge.* Looks good. More importantly, it will keep your skin safe. *I can’t resist a smirk* Not that I’ve ever wiped out, but there’s always a first time.
Autumn: *As I change into the more appropriate outfit I take a look at the mirror…bit bigger than expected but I do not mind. God, I look so….so…..so, what? I don’t know. I like my hair braided though. Well…this is me. I am not the striking beautiful female everybody said I was once. I like it that way, though. I need to try this for my daughter. I hope I won’t fall or I won’t embarrass her. I cannot cope with the idea of being a burden to her. Not that. Not that. I leave my room and I take a deep breath as I come down the stair and my gunmetal eyes meets yours. I smile at you as you talk. You are a smart ass that makes me laugh every single time.* I am sure you will not this time, either. I can see you have just one helmet. So, since I am already scarred beyond repair, and I know I will not convince you to use the helmet, let’s ditch it altogether. Do you know how hard it was to braid all my hair? *chuckles* I am ready. *looks and point at myself* I know this is A look, but I don’t mind. I think I can fix this leathers myself, eventually *chuckles* Ready? *looks at you with a stupid smug on my face that I suspect is going to be permanent, at least for a couple of days. I will need to get a helmet, though.. Ugh…that reminds me of @Tohr_BDBRW and our incident when I showed him the bike I want to get for you…….no no no….I’ll better ask @Vishous_BDBRW…pretty sure he will be able to help me.*
Xhexania: Helmet free it is then. And not because of any scarring, but because the wind feels amazing. *I set the helmet down, knowing #Fritz will have found it an appropriate home by the time we get back* Damn thing is almost enough to make me claustrophobic. Defeats that whole freedom of the open road thing. I think you’ll enjoy it. *The longer I stay in the mansion, the more closed in I feel. Wide open spaces filled with narrow-minded bonded male mentality can be stifling like that.* The braid’s probably a good idea. *It’s hard not to return your smile, and I have no reason to fight it.* Come on, mahmen. Let’s go get some air.
Autumn: *Looks at you while you speak. I have noticed lately that you speak to me more, ah, how do I put it? mmm let’s say, more freely. There is less thought and more you. If that makes sense. Before, every answer or dialogue was more constructed. You thought out every single word. Whether because you did not know what to say, mixed with the surprise of me being here and alive or simply because you didn’t like me. Your walls were really up when it came to me. I am happy you don’t feel that way anymore. You keep calling me Mahmen even though we both know I do not deserve it. But I’d take whatever you want to give me. Your eyes light up when your smile touch them and doesn’t that melt my heart. You are so pretty, if only you could see it* Agreed. I need some fresh air. Too tight here…lately…*shakes head as I walk after you* So. where are we going?
Xhexania: Out. *chuckles as I head for the front door* That’s as far as my plan went. Get out, have a ride,see where we end up. The ride down the mountain is always slow because of the gates, but after that we can put on some real speed. *I turn and continue walking backwards as something occurs to me* Is there anywhere you want to go? We can head to the city if you wanted to do some shopping, or grab something else to eat. Or we can just take a ride, and plan something for next time. A movie maybe. Or live theatre if that’s more your thing, but I draw the line at musicals. *Brilliant move. Plan to be far away from downtown, then try to find a way to be downtown. Dependent stalker there much, Xhex? I spin back around and pull open the door, trying to pull back out of my mind as well.* Whatever you want. You might even hate riding my Ducati. *Shutting my mouth to keep from rambling further, I head to my bike as I wait for a response.*
Autumn: *I smile at your comment. Touché. Out indeed. As I walk behind you, thinking of just being out, with you. Wherever. I might even like to ride on your Ducati. I look at you as you face me. I raise my eyebrows but I manage to kinda hide my surprise when you are willing not only to discuss where to go but the possibility of another time together. Yay. Whatever that means. @Rhage_BDBRW seems happy when he uses that expression. But your offers brings me back to reality. I have to talk to you about me, feeding, going to the other side for a few. Right. Not just yet. I want to enjoy whatever time I have with you* I want to ride on, feel the air on my face. I want you to show me how is done. We don’t need to go anywhere in particular. At least not tonight. The road around the mountains and even beyond sounds like a winner? What do you say? I just want to ride…and feel and live the experience of it all. After that, we can, ah, plan next time…yes? *follows you to your bike as I am now the one waiting for an answer*
Xhexania: *I sling a leg over my Ducati and turn back to look at you over my shoulder.* It’s like riding a horse. Vaguely. Without the side saddle bullshit obviously. The ride is smoother and faster. *I pat the seat behind me.* Hop on. You can hold on to me, or the seat if you’re more comfortable that way. I’ve never had someone ride with me before, so starting slow should help me with the balance too. Sometimes a ride is the best way to clear my head. *Talk about needing to clear my head all of a sudden. I expected #John would be the first person I would have on this bike with me. Like I could ever convince him to take the bitch seat. A name I am not about to share with you.* Shit. Your leg. Do you need a hand?
Autumn: * I follow every of your movement. Ok, I think I got this. You had sling a leg over the bike like that’s your second skin. I don’t think I will do it as smooth as you, but I am gonna do my best. Balance. Right. I have been Googling about the mechanics of a bike, rides, etc. Your body literally needs to move with the bike, as I already thought, like you are an extension of the machine. Alright, this is going to be a challenge, maybe. I’ll be damn if I make us fall. Nope. I look at you and smile* Worry naught of my disgraced leg. I am used to it. I will, however. hold on to you, of that’s ok. Let me get on. *with a smooth -hopes- movement, I sling a leg over the pillion. It was easier than I thought.* This is the pillion, is it not? I remember my father calling it like that. It’s a term that comes from the Old Country. *chuckles* I never thought I would ride on a bike. It feels more comfortable than I anticipated. Oh, those foot-pegs are for me, are they not? *places both my foot on them, feeling more comfortable and stable* You are right, it’s like riding a horse, although this is a more powerful one and not as tall *laughs thinking I miss riding a horse* I am as ready as I could be…and…if you don’t mind, I will hold on to you now…
Xhexania: Pillion? I haven’t heard that often in the last few decades, but yes, that’s the correct term. *The wave of guilt is unexpected. You’ve clearly been reading up on motorcycles in preparation for this ride. I could blame the miserable winter we’ve had, but that’s no excuse for not spending time with you before this.* I would suggest you don’t try posting though. We’ll be going faster than a trot. If you want me to slow down, squeeze, but I’ll start slow. *I kick the Ducati to life, feeling the engine vibrate through my body. I give you a few moments to adapt to the sensation before I head slowly to the gate, resisting my urge to gun the engine, and not just because I still have to make my way through the mhis and several more gates.*
Autumn:*Listens carefully all your instructions. I need to do as said so I won’t get us in an accident or worse. I nod slowly as I hold on to you. Being this close is like holding you, something I am sure you’ll never let me do it so I am going to try and enjoy every angle of this ride. I take a deep breath as the powerful engine comes alive. I like the sound. That surprises me. I might enjoy this more than I could have ever anticipated.* Very well then, I think I got this. Ready when you are and please, don’t spare me. I want to fully enjoy this moment with you. If I ever get scared, I will squeeze you but I have a feeling that won’t be necessary. I have utterly faith in you, Xhexania, so…let’s both enjoy the ride. Perhaps I can offer you afterward a cup of hot chocolate or coffee or some food before you leave for the day… *thinking I need to tell you about the whole feeding sitch* ah..if you want and have time, of course.
Xhexania: I think a hot drink sounds like a great idea. Especially after the ride gets windy. Hold tight, mahmen. *We both have a second chance here, and I need to start taking advantage of it as I steer us through the first gate and into DM’s*
Autumn: *I smile so wide my cheeks hurt when you not only agreed to my suggestion but call me mahmen. This is already a great night, from now forward, whatever happens it’s a bonus. Off we go through the first gate and into our DMs*
*Monday morning in the financial district is always a symphath treat. Even through my control, the misery flickers bright. Humans. Always such a huge buildup to the weekend. Two days of no work where they end up running around trying to do everything they regretted or neglected during their work week, or drinking themselves into a stupor as though Monday won’t roll around again. Then this clusterfuck of a pity party where they bemoan the fact that life goes on and so does work. I scan the stragglers of the nine to five crowd, but there is still no sign of Bill Smith. I take another sip of my coffee, an excuse to keep the paper cup obscuring part of my face. My sunglasses help there, but their primary function is to keep the red under wraps. I hate the loss of color and depth perception, but once I spot this fucker, I don’t want to have anything interfere with me reading his grid and committing it to memory. No luck on the man I’m looking for, but that could be as simple as a sick day, a traffic jam or Bill Smith deciding to start his day early. Ditching my half-full ice-cold cup of coffee, I make my way slowly back to the Starbucks. Once you learn the visual cues to look for, the lack of depth perception isn’t that hard to work around but I’m in no hurry. Taking my fresh coffee to a table in the corner, I angle myself so I have a view of the line, but enough sun to justify the shades. I lean back into the chair, the wingback giving me more cover as the business types start to funnel in for the mid-morning dose of caffeine. Finally, I spot the bastard chatting with two other men as they hustle inside. Turning back to the window, I focus in on his grid. It’s regulated to the extreme, but not truly stable. Like a house of cards, each piece precisely placed to keep each other piece from collapsing. Much as I want to pluck a piece and watch how he devolves, this is not the time or place, so I shift to his thoughts instead, looking for… FUCK! The bastard doesn’t think in English. What the hell did @Vishous_BDBRW miss? I try to pick out any words I know, or that are close enough to the languages that I do know. He’s still going on about medical insurance claims in English, but he’s not paying any more attention to what he’s saying than I am. No translating going on, so he’s obvious comfortable in both languages. Time to get out of here. Even though this piece of shit knows about my vampire side I still make sure to face away from him as I leave. No need for him to know he’s got a sin-eater gunning for him. Not yet, at least.*
Dead Old Dad
*The upper left hand corner of the map refuses to stay put. This might be easier if I had a board to pin everything on. I’m not about to turn my cabin into an episode of CSI, and I’m not taking this stuff into my office at the club. Draining my coffee, barely still warm enough to be drinkable, I set the empty mug down on the stubborn corner before opening the file folder I got from @Vishous_BDBRW. I’ve already marked the site where I was held years ago. Both clubs are likewise marked. Flipping the pages, I notice that V has not only provided the info I asked him for, but he’s also added a few sheets for easy reference. The address page makes the mapping process easier as I mark the house where John Smith was living with his son, and the cemetery where that sick bastard is buried. Current address for Bill Smith, as the son William prefers to be called, as well as his work address. Every known haunt gets a dot on the map, and I curse @Vishous_BDBRW for being so thorough. No doubt this is part of his plan to keep me from dealing with my mess, my way on my own. Fuck it. I took this to #Wrath first, and he shut me down. I’m not a delicate glymera female, and no male gets to dictate to me, not even @Tehrror_BDBRW. Finally, I finish marking up my map. I t would be nice to have something on the woman who is abducting vampires with Bill Smith, but for now, I’ll work with what I’ve got. The next time I spot her in the club, I’m going to make up an excuse to get hold of her ID. I grab my empty mug, and the corner of the map curls right back up. Smoothing it out, I put the mug back, and walk into my kitchen for a fresh cup and more coffee. I feel like I haven’t slept properly in weeks, and even the smell of the coffee is enough to perk me back up. Wrapping both hands around the mug for warmth, I head back to the other room, walking around the map as I sip, looking for a pattern, an area with more dots, anything at all to stand out, and give me a starting point. A few clusters stand out, two blank spaces that seem like they should have more activity, but where to start? I need to get inside this guy’s head. He goes a long time between victims so far though. Carrying on dead old dad’s work of torture, no doubt. His victims are probably blood starved at the end, so I really don’t want to wait until he needs to get a new one. Like the lessers aren’t fucking bad enough, some humans have to get wind of vampires really existing and try to learn more? Circling my map in the opposite direction, I pick up a different color pen and outline the trouble spots. There’s something I’m still missing here. Nothing within the city would make a good spot to hold someone for a long time, at least without tricks like #Lash had at his disposal. The site of the facility I burned to the ground nags at me. A single, lone, isolated dot. @Vishous_BDBRW’s words echo through my head about the “I am an island” routine. Easy for him to preach though, with nobody trying to keep him out of harm’s way. I doubt #Wrath would listen any better now that I know what’s likely happening to the abducted vampires than he did when I first tried to warn him that vampires were being abducted. If I breathe a word of this to @Tehrror_BDBRW I’ll never see the light of day again. Fuck. That’s my only edge here. Daylight. I need to stake out this bastard’s workplace during the day, cloaked, and get into his head that way. It’s a zero backup situation, unless I can convince #Trez or #iAm to lend a hand, but I’ve lived most of my life with zero backup. As I finish my coffee, I think about tossing more wood in the fireplace. I don’t really need it for the heat, but I enjoy the smell and the fire has almost burned down to nothing. I walk past without adding any though, and rinse my mug in the kitchen sink. I have a plan now, and it’s enough to move forward. That combined with too many cups of coffee has me miles away from sleep. Grabbing my jacket, I don’t bother putting any of the papers away as I leave, though I do bank the fire and lock the door. A little time at the firing range in the Compound is just the thing for my mood right now.*
I’m ashamed to admit I know this, but it’s really fucking funny when you think about it.
Shellan of Habit
*I pace around my cabin on the Hudson, twitchy from being locked inside by this brutal cold weather. I’ve even been dematerializing to work each night instead of taking my Ducati. There’s only so much ice I’m willing to subject my ride to. Over to the fire, the heat washing over me and making my skin flush. Back to the windows, the chill radiating from the glass. Repeat. Into the bedroom for a change of scenery and temperature. Back to the fire to fold up the mink blanket I picked up after using #Rehv’s crash pad at @ZeroSum_BDBRW once. Into the kitchen where I flip open my Keurig and start another cup. Decaf. Not like that will make any difference. Back past the fire to the windows again. The caged animal routine won’t let me sleep, and trying to sleep just reminds me how much I feel like a caged animal. Toss another log on the fire on my way to the galley kitchen for my coffee. Sitting down in front of the fire I stare into my cup, needing some outlet for my energy. I am not the type of female who does inactivity well. Traffic at @IronMask_BDBRW has been light with the cold. All those piercings must get uncomfortable when they freeze. I lean back and take a sip of my coffee, enjoying the way the aroma mixes with the wood smoke, and a stray sunbeam hits the diamond at the base of my throat, scattering prisms of light throughout the room. That would certainly burn off my energy, but it’s not happening. I haven’t even gotten a single text, and there is no way @Tehrror_BDBRW hasn’t noticed I’ve been sneaking into his room during the day. Our room, technically. It does give me an idea though. Movie theatre. Gym. Pool. If I can’t sleep, I could always dematerialize to the mansion and find something to do there. Hell, even hassling @Lassiter_BDBRW for his questionable taste in television is more appealing than pacing around my cabin for the rest of the day. Draining my cup, I rinse it in the kitchen before throwing my clothes on. Meticulously, I bank the fire before putting the glass fireplace surround back in place to let it burn itself out safely. I value having my own space too fucking much to let it burn to the ground. Stepping out into the cold, my breath is sucked away from me as I swiftly lock the door. Scattering my molecules, I reform in two different places before rematerializing at the door to the mansion. The mhis has been here as long as the compound, but it’s not in my nature to be sloppy and risk leading someone anywhere I don’t want found. The inner door buzzes open as soon as the outer one is secured. Great. #Fritz considers me a creature of habit now. Pathetic creepy stalker habit, as if the concept wasn’t bad enough on its own. Heading downstairs, I decide on a swim first. The warm water is appealing after my time outside, however brief. If I’m still twitchy after my swim, I can hit the gym and take out my frustrations on some dummies. I can always use the tackling kind if none of the Brothers are around. If the swim wears me out, the doggen already know that I’m a shellan of habit.*
Punching the pillow for the twentieth time, I sit up and throw the damned thing across the room. I hate that my bed feels too big. Even when I was with Murhder, I slept at home, just me in my own bed.
I almost wish I had left the folder back at the mansion. It would give me an excuse to go back to @Tehrror_BDBRW’s room.
Which would only lead to another fight.
Hopping off the bed, I pull on a muscle shirt. Leaving the cilices off, I yank on my leathers before stuffing the barbed chains into the pockets of my leather jacket. Shitkickers next.
I could dematerialize to the mansion, but if I ride my Ducati maybe I can take @NoOne_BDBRW out for a short ride once the sun sets.
Kicking the bike to life, I try a hundred different arguments on myself as I speed to the mansion. None of them does any good against the desire to be with my hellren. It was a cheap move to leave before he woke up last time, but I don’t know if I can trust him to not make that folder disappear. And while I love my independence, I can’t deny the caveman routine @Tehrror_BDBRW pulled was hot. The downside of being attracted to a strong male. Warriors take what they want.
I’m at the first gate before I know it, and it’s not much longer before I’m in the vestibule, waiting for the inner door. Wonder how the doggen feel about the half-breed who insists on showing up during daylight.
With symphath red eyes.
The door opens with a slight buzz, telling me it’s been triggered remotely. A faint jingling sound and a pathetic yowl emante from the great room, followed by the sound of something falling. Curious, I open the door.
"Holy shit. Who vomited Christmas in here?" Even with everything flat and washed in shades of red, I can see a huge amount of effort has been taken to make the room festive. An enormous tree, lit and glittering dominates the room, and every spare inch has been hung with garland, or tinsel, or some other tribute to this human holiday.
There, at the bottom of the tree is @Boo_BDBRW with a jingle bell on his collar and tinsel sticking out of his mouth. His tail twitches as he paws at one of the ornaments. “I don’t blame you, cat. It’s going to take a lot of apples to keep @ScribeV_BDBRW from getting pissed about this.” Carefully removing the bell and tinsel, I leave @Boo_BDBRW to stalk his festive quarry and head upstairs.
Opening the door to our room, I expect @Tehrror_BDBRW to have his gun levelled at me, but he stays asleep. It must have been a long night on rotation for him to be this exhausted.
Closing the door as quietly as possible, I stare at my name across his back for several minutes. He’s restless, his brow creased like he’s having a bad dream.
Slipping out of my jacket, I set it down on the dresser before kicking off my boots. Hesitating, I leave my leathers on before lying down on the bed.
Reaching over, I smooth @Tehrror_BDBRW’s brow, already feeling more comfortable as I drift off to sleep.
Suck It Up, Buttercup
Xhex: *Enough is fucking well enough. Tech genius probably can’t figure out how to do something as simple as sending a text. Maybe @Vishous_BDBRW thinks something as simple as texting is beneath him. Resisting the urge to take everything out on poor #Fritz, I step inside the mansion vestibule and wait with my face as neutral as possible, pointed at the camera. As the old doggen opens the door, I smile tightly at him, which does nothing for the forlorn expression on his face. I’m halfway up the stairs before I freeze, feeling my fangs elongate in a rush. @Tehrror_BDBRW is so close I swear I can smell him out in the hall. Probably true since @Layla_BDBRW just went through her needing. Why the hell didn’t I suck it up and ask #Trez or #iAm or any male vampire I’ve seen if I could feed before I came here? This is not my brightest idea, and it takes a conscious effort to turn around and force my feet back down the stairs. If anything, #Fritz looks even more defeated as I step past him with nothing more than a nod, his resemblance to an old hound dog astonishing. If I back down now, I’m going to have an army of doggen and shellans trying to strap me into corsets, paint my nails and give me fucking extensions until my hair grows long. Not to mention losing all chance of ever being out fighting in any capacity, which would make me lose my frickin’ mind. Pounding in the code for the underground tunnel, I can’t stop thinking of how much the vampire race needs a good swift kick in the traditions. I’m at the door to the Pit before I’m fully aware of it, ringing the bell repeatedly.*
Vishous: *watching the reruns of the Sox winning the World Series, I light up a handrolled to watch as Big Papi comes to bat. I am about to reach for my Goose, enjoying this 200th time of rewatching this game, at least until @DocJane_BDBRW comes home from #SafePlace. Then..I will be viewing something else entirely. I am all set to enjoy my evening, when I hear the damn bell. Go off. Repeatedly. With a growl I get up off of the couch * Hollywood?! If that is you, I am gonna..*I look and see who it is and curse as I open the door* Symphath..what the fuck are you doing here? You expect me to have the intel already? *frowns and crosses my arms*
Xhex: Already? I think I have given you enough fucking time to find Hoffa, but I bet you don’t have a fucking clue where he’s buried either, now do you? *Glaring at @Vishous_BDBRW, all I can see if a vein. This has got to be my worst idea. Ever. Fixing my eyes on a point somewhere up and to the left, I cross my arms over my chest and plan how to word the most awkward text I’ve ever written to #Trez.* All I need is one name. And given that the sadistic prick’s son showed up in ZeroSum again, and recognized me somehow, I do not think that I’m asking a lot here. *I growl as I hear the TV in the background* You are not seriously watching that baseball game again.
Vishous: *glares back at you and growls under my breath* I am unconcerned where Hoffa might or might not be buried. *chuckles and arches my eyebrow as I sense something is off with you* But it sure is fun to watch the humans run around looking for him. I have your one name. *nods* But first…yes I am watching the game again. I will watch it again after this. It is my biz, true? Now..what I think the more pressing question is, Symphath, is what is going on with you? Seems like you need to be off finding @Tehrror_BDBRW, not talking with me, true? *folds my arms deliberately in the same move you just pulled*
Xhex: I came for a name, not your opinion. *I shake my head, trying to clear it of the sense of how close @Tehrror_BDBRW is. I won’t let biology trap me in a cage of the bonded male idea of what a female should be.* Give me the damn name, and all the other little pieces of info I’m sure you dug up, and I’ll let you get back to your recorded game. *And far more importantly I can get my ass away from all these males and arrange an awkward but completely non-sexual feeding.*
Vishous: *chuckles and lets a very self satisfied grin stretch across my face* Well, well, symphath. Ok. we’ll get down to business, true? You obviously have something you need to take care of, and I want to watch my game, feel me? Gimme a second. *shakes my head as I turn into the Pit, grab a file off of my desk, and come back to my door. @Tehrror_BDBRW better know what he has gotten himself into. Perhaps I should speak to him* Here is what you want. All of the information I found. Straight up? I’d be careful with this one. *narrows my eyes* Even for you? Got it?
Xhex: Yeah, I got it. If your king hadn’t been so wound up in bonded male solidarity, I’d happily enlist the entire fucking Brotherhood to help with this fucker. But @Tehrror_BDBRW does not get to dictate my life. Nobody does but me. *flipping the folder open, I scan the first sheet before glaring at you* John Smith? Are you fucking with me? John fucking Smith? What, too many John Does in the morgue, so you thought you’d mix it up and go with Smith? *skimming further down the page, I find the son listed* William Smith. Wow. No fucking originality here, so I guess you aren’t fucking around. *narrowing my eyes at the bland, basic, nothing special on the page in front of me* Are you sure you didn’t get their aliases? Witness protection, CIA deep cover or some other bullshit you didn’t want to dig any deeper into?
Vishous: *glares and raises an eyebrow at your sarcastic tone* No, I am not fucking around. The information was buried under many layers of security. The most I’ve seen in awhile. Whatever you are up to, you better make sure you know what you are doing. There is a reason why the information was buried the way that was, feel me? *nods and folds my arms across my chest* Whoever is at the end of this trail, it is nothing good. You better be asking for help on this one, true? Don’t be a stubborn ass, and that is not a request. I doubt it is witness protection or something as banal as CIA deep cover. No doubt they are responsible for some seriously fucked up things. You better wear some serious shitkickers to wade in this shit. And another thing, Xhex?
Xhex: *Everything you’re saying makes a hell of a lot of sense, but the second #Wrath pulled the patronize the female act, I’ve had my back up. I do not need my hellren’s permission to pursue a ghost from my past and perform an exorcism. I want backup, but I don’t want to be stuck on the sidelines just because of my sex. That bullshit has never sat well with me. I feel my jaw crack as I practically have to pry it open* What?
Vishous: Don’t even think about trying to do this on your own, true? *nods and glares at you* I know you, Symphath. I’ve done the “I am an island” routine myself, feel me? But the threat here, with your past? Yeah. This isn’t the time for that. The Brotherhood will help you. *raises my brow as I wait for your response* Then I have one more thing to tell you…
Xhex: *Snorting in disbelief* Help me? Right. Lock me away with the other females like we’re all helpless is more like it. This guy and his floozy need to be stopped, the sooner the better. *The smell of male vampire is getting to me, so I try taking shallow breaths through my mouth instead.* I know I’m not getting out of here until you finish whatever you want to say, so why don’t you get on with it already?
Vishous: *finishes sending a text on my phone as you talk* Did I mention sehclusion? No. Just telling you that we will be helping you so you don’t get your ass hurt. You can thank me later, true? *smirks* Oh..and also I just texted @Tehrror_BDBRW. You are eyeing my vein like it is a Happy Meal. Get yourself over to the Compound. He is expecting you. Suck it up, buttercup..*chuckles, as I turn back into the Pit*
Xhex: You are incapable of minding your own fucking business, aren’t you? *Growling, I turn and stalk down the hall. I could hide in the PT suite, but that would be a joke. I’d be found in seconds, and it wouldn’t put me in a position of strength. I could head for the garage and get my ass out of here that way. Except… Except a part of me doesn’t want to. A part of me is tired of being away from my mate to prove a damn point. Maybe I’m not the only one tired of this shit. Maybe @Tehrror_BDBRW can finally act like he understands that he mated a fighter instead of just using the words. I push open the door to the office, still considering my standard MO of cut and run.* Fuck it. Like the pompous asshole said, suck it up, buttercup. *Punching in the code, I hit the stairs, hoping this won’t turn into another ugly scene.*
*Spent. Utterly exhausted for all the best reasons. I stretch languorously, stirring the rich, male, warrior scent up anew from the sheets. Something doesn’t seem right about the fabric, but I have other things to think about. Two of them right now. Two strong, warm, familiar male hands, skimming up the inside of my thighs, easing them farther apart. Gliding lightly over my cilices, not squeezing, but not trying to remove them either. As soon as hot breath and a tongue join the hands, I prop myself up on my elbows. A deep, rich chuckle greets my movement. “Do you enjoy the view?” I don’t bother answering since the bastard knows I do. Threading one hand into his dark hair, I urge him closer, impatient with this teasing. I jump as he nips me, not breaking the skin, but close. “Calm down, Xhex. I have never once tried to feed without your consent.” Peach eyes flash up to mine, the intensity of the stare and the hint of bonding scent conveying something I don’t want to acknowledge. “One day, you may trust me enough to allow it, but I know this is not that day.” Peach? My brain is scrambling, trying to come up with another colour. Which is fucking ridiculous since #Murhder’s eyes have always been peach. A flicker of disappointment crosses his face at my lack of response before he buries his head between my thighs again.* What time is it? *I need to get back to my own place before the sun comes up. Sure #Murhder hasn’t pushed the feeding issue. Yet. If I have to stay theday, he might. Not my sheets. That must be what’s wrong with the fabric. Where the hell is the clock? I start looking, but my eyes roll back in my head at the firm, slow lick that tells me I’m not as exhausted as I thought. “Too late for you to escape, I am afraid. You fell asleep for a time. The sun has been up for an hour.” Shit. I can always play the half-breed card and bail, but I don’t want a Brother questioning that other half too closely. Wait.* Escape? *Strange choice of word, stranger thing that my mind fixates on it. “Always running away. What else should I call it?” Another sweep of his tongue, torturously slow this time, and my hands find their way back into his black and red hair. “Though I expected a more subtle ruse from a sin-eater.” My eyes snap open and I bolt upright on the bed, an ascending whistle sounding from beside me, even as #JohnMatthew has his piece levelled at the door. Blue eyes. That’s what was wrong. I haven’t dreamt of #Murhder in ages, and I’m not going to confess to doing so now. I shake my head as John slowly returns his gun to the bedside table.* Just a dream – nothing bad, just strange. *The concern on John’s face tells me he isn’t buying it.* It was a memory of a time I almost got caught. In the dream, though, I was found out as a symphath. That’s what woke me. That’s all. *John studies my face, apparently convinced that it’s not something more serious, and that I’m not providing any further info. His bonding scent flares to life as his gaze moves down my body, deciding where he wants to start. Confusion hits when I see that my cilices aren’t on. Not that I ever sleep with them on, but because I have full depth perception and all of my colors, including that amazing blue staring at me from under a cocked brow. /You sure you’re okay?/ he mouths. Clearly I’m not. My pyrocant, my well-of-soul is hovering over me, and instead of appreciating that strong warrior body, I’m worried about why my symphath side is not in evidence.* I’ll be fine. How’s that? *The look of concern slowly morphs into a grin I know well. I’ll be lucky if I can remember my name, let alone my nightmare, very soon. As I lie back and let #John take the lead, I can’t help noticing the sheets feel scratchy. We must have spilled something on them since #Fritz would never put any coarse linens on a bed in the compound without direct orders. Maybe not even then. I hear a growl as #John nips at my earlobe, scolding me for my distraction before he takes both of my hands in one of his and pins them down to the bed over my head.*You’re right, I have to let it go. *#John’s hair brushes the side of my neck as he nods. He continues the light nips and sucking kisses, never quite going where I want him most, until I finally growl in frustration and he simply stops. The world tilts as I struggle to sit up.* Are you going to finish what you started? *#John’s blank eyes stare at me from the floor, right beside #Murhder on industrial green tile. My arms aren’t being held above my head, they’re shackled. I’m chained to some fucking gurney, half propped up so I can see the two dead males on the floor. “Oh, yes. I plan to finish what I started. These two are just the beginning. You owe me a father.” A scream rips from my throat as I finally pull myself out of the nightmare for real this time, panting and drenched in sweat. I’m in my own room in my place on the Hudson, all in hues of red from pale pink to deepest crimson. My depth perception is non-existent, and all I smell is pine and a hint of lemon cleaner. Grabbing my phone, I text @Tehrror_BDBRW before I have time to wonder where he is or what he might be doing.* r u ok? *Hitting send, I sit and wait, feeling pathetic, but unable to shake the grip of dread. Wrung out. Utterly exhausted for all the worst reasons. Spent.*
Phoning It In
*I miss the good old days.
Not the really old days when females who weren’t delicate were defective.
A simpler time before all this pyrocant, well-of-soul, bonded male and might-as-well-be-bonded female bullshit.
Fuck, I even miss what I had with #Murhder. Fighting and fucking. Never any feeding, but at least he honestly didn’t have a problem with me fighting, often right alongside him. Yeah, he got pissy a few times when I refused to let him feed even though he was injured.
At least he figured out why.
I prefer clear cut goals. Stay alive. Don’t get pegged as a symphath. Scrub or kill anyone who figures out I’m a symphath. Work, eat, sleep, feed.
One pair of blue eyes shot that all to hell. For a male raised by humans, John Matthew has the traditional bonded warrior male routine down pat.
He never comes in the club anymore, and I never look.
Autopilot. My feet know the path, my eyes know what to look for, but my mind is phoning it in. I don’t know what the hell I‘d do if things got bad in here these days. Hope that my body hit fight mode long enough for my brain to engage. Pushing past a woman with a bag big enough to smuggle half the alcohol out of here, I continue on to VIP, freezing halfway up the steps.
Big ass bodybag trying to pretend it’s a purse.
I finish my trip to VIP, and make a pretense of checking in at the bar to turn and find her again. Sure enough, that woman is hauling her ass through my club, chatting up the same type of males as before.
Scanning the club, I finally spot Handsome Enough, right in the middle of things and paying zero attention to his partner. He’s looking on his own for possible vampires, but the crowd is light tonight. His eyes slide over VIP before they widen and snap back to me.
The smile that curls up the corners of his mouth makes my skin crawl, because I know that fucking smile. He got it from his father. No question.
He winks – fucking winks! – before giving an insolent wave as he grabs Handbag and drags her outside.
While I just fucking stand there trying to process.
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