Eleven

Cass came into consciousness in a gray haze, which quickly became sharp unnatural fluorescent lighting as Lars continued to shake her. She grumbled silently as she moved automatically through the motions: standing, grabbing her duffel from the overhead compartment, shuffling down the dirty narrow aisle and stepping off of the plane. The only thing she really thought of were her eyes—she’d taken the contacts out to sleep, and TSA probably wouldn’t appreciate the re-mastered version of Snakes on A Plane. All the way through the airport until she stood with a 700-year-old Frenchman under a dim, stark white, flickering streetlight on the crumbling curb—that smelled uncannily like piss, cigarettes, and something else Cass really did not want to actually define—of the Las Vegas International Airport. And she didn’t even blink.

“I think it best to stay a bit on the outsides of the city tonight,” Lars said conversationally as Cass followed him into a taxi. She nodded silently in her renewed awareness of the ring sitting now rather heavily on her finger. “Tomorrow, we can begin searching for her, and perhaps more convenient lodgings, if the situation permits.” She nodded again.

Twenty minutes later, the cab driver gave a disgruntled bye—not that Cass blamed him, he hadn’t earned much from their short trip—and left the two supernatural predators outside a cement building, surrounded by other cement buildings and somewhat worn-looking houses. This one had weak light coming out of its windows, and quite a bit of noise.

“Didn’t realize hotels this far out were this…chaotic?” Cass asked slowly, confused. Las Vegas was famous for the Strip, obviously, but it was also a residential city outside of that. It was a weekday, and the rest of the street was fairly quiet. Yet, shouting spilled out of the windows like a damn pirate movie. Lars shook his head, brow furrowed and lips slightly pursed in equal confusion.

Cass sighed and shrugged, before squaring her shoulders and stepping into the bar as if she owned the damn place. Her spine was straight and her eyes were flat until she stepped into the place, but immediately she staggered and grit her teeth so hard she was sure she was cracking them. The dimly lit, dark wooded bar didn’t have a huge crowd, but they were all quite active. At least fifteen human hearts raced from agitation, excitement, and there fast movements as they fought or watched other fight. Yes, actual punches were exchanged. The adrenaline smelled tangy in the air, mixing with the sweet warmth of moving blood, and the tantalizing scent of coppery blood that was dripping from a few random cuts and scrapes. Her gums pulsed as her fangs sprang out, and she felt the burning hunger change from torching her insides to racing through her limbs, filling her with energy to pounce on the nearest human and healing her shredded throat.

The blood clouded her mind, it was all she wanted. The bodies were her seemed to slow, no longer a twisting mob of profanities, slaps, and shoves, but a clear picture of each individual and the blood that turned their faces pink and jumped under the thin skin of their necks.

“What on earth…” Lars’ voice was far away, she couldn’t even tear her eyes from the humans to look at him. Not that she cared. They were already yelling, but she wanted to make them scream. Shrill, in terror. Already she could picture each agitated, energetic human in front of her thrash and then slowly fall limp—but the adrenaline would still be pumping through them, until the very end, and it would be so much better.

One figure broke away from the bar’s mob, tall and all Cass saw was a dark blur because she didn’t care about this one. She didn’t hear or smell a pulse off of him, and the mass would be so much better, so much more of a rush and chase and then fun. But then dark color covered her sight and she hissed as a vice-like grip came around each upper arm, just below her shoulders. Her jaw relished in its expansion as she opened her mouth, fangs complete and bared, ready to bite or hiss or scream in frustration as the dim lighting of the bar began to disappear from around the dark colors in front of her.

She registered that it was a person holding and moving her away, out of the bar, away from the things that could make her throat stop fucking burning for five seconds. That spurred her, and she can squirming against him, kicking at his ankles and scratching at his forearms and torso, as well as snapping bites that only just barely grazed his shoulder. It wasn’t working, the body before her wasn’t even flinching, and she shrieked in frustration.

“Calm down,” a voice growled in her ear. She hissed, and instead of attacking, tried to twist her body out of his grip. The fingers around her arms tightened and she bit back a whimper as her bones creaked. “I’m stronger than you, child, and I will rip your throat out if you don’t stay still.” At that, the voice dark and completely sincere in his threat—no, in his promise—Cass felt the energy dissipate from her limbs, the bloodlust slowly but surely curling back into her chest to resume slowly burning her. She whimpered again, this time out of sadness and exhaustion as she surrendered the chance to halt the pain, even for just a few minutes.

Her body sagged against the one in front of her, and a small jolt of surprise registered in her mind when it didn’t back away, but instead stood stiffly and kept his slightly loosened grip on her shoulders. Closing her eyes, Cass took one long breath to ready herself to stand and answer to Lars—her sort of guardian, now, she supposed—for nearly losing control.

Imagine her surprise when she met pale skin as opposed to Lars’ olive tones, and shaggy pitch black hair hanging in his face like Lars would probably never even dream of styling. Cass stood completely still, only her eyes moving as they flitted over the new person in front of her, whose grip on her shoulder was now very loose. Even in the crappy city lighting, blue eyes glowed and he had high, sharp cheekbones that the pitiful girl deeply buried in Cass wondered if they’d cut her if she touched them. He was tall, though, Cass felt how her neck was bent to look into his face. Eyes flitting down to his shoulders and halfway down his torso, Cass registered his lean, wiry frame. Still, the most important fact was the lack of body heat coming off him, and the fact he’d held her so easily.

Finally, she stepped back and gazed quickly from his feet to his head. Then grimaced. “Sorry about that,” she muttered, genuinely feeling rather embarrassed for going psycho-animalistic-killer all over a random stranger. She didn’t know if there was some kind of etiquette in vampire-world—she were all ancient after all, Lars seemed like he’d bow when greeting another vampire, for crying out loud—but her display probably wasn’t exactly cute.

He looked down, assessing the tears in his clothing and the small stains of blood from cuts that had already healed, as if this was his first notice. He looked back at her and raised his eyebrows, the grin creeping up his features making Cass’s spine stiffen. “What do ya know, a girl who may just like it rougher than me,” he winked, “the pleasure it is to meet you is sinful.”

Cass wasn’t sure if she wanted to smirk and chuckle with him, or scoff at his lines—and terrible pun—which were barely more creative than anything she’d heard. She opted to arch an eyebrow. “Right,” she drew out, sort of trailing off as she realized Lars wasn’t there with them. If she was inside, this was going to be difficult. If he was having a meal while she’d been dragged out, she was just going to leave. To the motel across the street. “Well, bye,” she threw over her shoulder at the vampire, already making her way back towards the doorway to find her supernatural sort-of-guardian.

“And where do you think you’re going?” the guy smirked as fingers wrapped around her wrist and tugged, fluidly pulling her into a spin and back towards him. Cass put her foot down, literally, and planted her feet firmly so that the spinning stopped and she was still half an arm’s length away.

“To find the vampire I came here with,” she bit out, albeit with probably a bit more attitude than necessary and somewhat hoping the drop of ‘vampire’ would throw him at least a little bit. He just arched an eyebrow, amused smirk still in place.

“Try the alley,” he jerked his chin to the side and Cass followed his gaze into the narrow, dark space between the bar and another building. Sure enough, when she squinted, Lars’ shadowed silhouette was hunched over a darkness that protruded slightly from the wall. She huffed and turned back to face the other vampire, not wanting to watch helplessly as Lars got to escape the pain she still suffered. Although, new guy wasn’t much less painful either.

“So, where you from, naughty girl?” His grin was all sarcasm and mock-innocence. Cass finally noticed the thick accent in his words, but refused to acknowledge it. She wondered vaguely how she hadn’t noticed it before, it was very thick, but chalked it up to she’d been too busy being annoyed at his immediate, blatant flirting. If you could really call it that. After all, flirting was meant to successfully get someone to be attracted to you.

“Really?” Pet names, and not even appropriate ones. Lovely. He shrugged, keeping his innocently wide eyes.

“Well now, you did just nearly attempt to massacre a bar full of simple human bar-goers, and then got all rough and kinky with a man you just met,” he summarized, completely logically. “Not very sweet or ‘good girl’ to me, darling. Now, where are you from?”

“Not your business,” she deadpanned, crossing her arms over her chest and leaning slightly away, looking pointedly in another direction and really hoping he’d take the hint. He pouted.

“Well, I for one have some manners and an appreciation for the seven-billion-plus beings inhabiting this great Earth,” he began, tone far too proud of himself to be taken seriously. At least, Cass hoped he wasn’t actually serious. “So, I’ll start the introductions,” he bowed. With a flourish of his hand that then extended. “Humbly pleased to make your acquaintance, I am Daniel Windsor, of England—but now, it’s really anywhere you’d like me to be,” he finished, looking up with a wicked smirk.

“Cass,” she answered, again her tone flat and just as uninterested as she truly felt. He was quiet for a second, and in that time Cass realized the noise from the bar had lessened. It was far from quiet, though. “Why’s everyone fighting in the bar? This isn’t the wild west,” she asked, looking at the windows.

“Ah,” she heard him chuckle. “That work is mine, I really am becoming quite the artist,” she turned to look at him in time to see him blow a kiss and fling it imaginarily at the building. She just raised her eyebrows expectantly. He grinned proudly, shoulders lifting slightly. “I seem to have a habit of causing chaos, so long ago I took my awkward inconvenience and honed it into quite the talent.”

Cass opened her mouth, but closed it again. She just nodded, not entirely sure how to respond to that. “It is hilarious how easy it is to work up a human man, really I barely said ten words,” he snickered.

“I’m sure they were a very exact ten words,” she grumbled. He perked up slightly, eyes focused over her shoulder. Cass held her breath, focusing on her surroundings and hearing a familiar pair of footsteps. Finally.

“Well, it was lovely to meet you, dear Cassandra,” the childish vampire finally seemed to be leaving, taking a couple steps backward. But damn her, now he’d managed to bother her.

“I’m not Cassandra,” she quipped, she always had hated that name and assumption people made. He raised his eyebrows expectantly, waiting for her to correct him. “It’s Cassille,” she said proudly, squaring her own shoulders. She hadn’t grown up very culturally French, but she did enjoy her unique name.

His lips curled into a small grin. “Cassille,” her name rolled off his lips, heavy with his accent, and Cass vowed right then to never admit that she did not hate that at all.

“Come, I found a small place for the night. We can begin searching in the morning,” Lars’ voice addressed Cass from above her shoulder, and she felt relief both at the easy solution, and at the escape from the ass in front of her.

“Thank you,” Lars spoke to the guy now. Cass tilted her head to see the vampire looking tidy except for the dark smudge across his lips. He was looking at the guy, his tone polite but final. Telling him to go away. Cass could have sagged against him in relief.

The guy didn’t seem to get it, or just really was freaking annoying, because he gave a shallow bow and grinned cheekily. “I was just keeping Miss Cassie here company, making a new acquaintance and all. Really, it was my pleasure to meet her. Daniel Windsor, definitely and gladly at all your services.” Cass wondered if, when he was human, he actually ever said that to a girlfriend’s parents.

Cass rolled her eyes and glanced away from both of them. However, Lars suddenly took interest. “Ah, the Windsor—the infamous son and vampire, I assume?”

“I do love meeting fans,” the guy winked and smiled humorlessly.

“Whatever are you doing here, in the random, boring outskirts of Sin City?” Lars pressed. The apparently important vampire shrugged easily, tilting his head looking slightly sad.

“I recently parted ways—tragically, really—with a certain French Duncan—and when I say certain, I mean certain, and when I say French, I mean French—now, now, not what you’re thinking, eh, naughty girl,” he chuckled, winking at Cass. Lars was silent for a moment as Cass finally just glared at the guy.

“As I said, I thank you,” was Lars’ tight response. The vampire reached forward and clasped the guy’s hand tightly, and then began to walk away, and Cass vehemently refused to be more than a few inches from his shoulder.

“Aw, all leaving so soon,” he drawled from behind them, and Cass wanted to turn around just to shut him up. “Leaving me all by my lonesome, Cassie darling?”

Instead, Lars stopped and turned halfway, answering him. “I’m sure you’ll survive, but don’t worry, I shall keep you in my prayers,” he said pleasantly, an easy smile pasted mockingly onto his face. Cass choked, trying to bite back her laughter.

They finally completely walked away, the guy’s—Daniel’s—laughter echoing in Cass’s ears.

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