Three

After that, Cass’s life fell out of reality and into an alternate universe, a bubble in which meeting a psycho in a café was completely normal. Her cheeks were starting to feel weird, tingly and tight, as if she’d been stretching them too long. But she hadn’t. Not that much, anyway. Peter did tend to make her smile, and a small, easy one had followed him all the way out the door until it slipped just as fluidly as it had built. But that was as far as it went on a normal basis.

Yet, she met with Lars twice more that week, at a table in the back corner in one of the many “hipster” cafes in the city. And she didn’t feel threatened. In fact, her subconscience seemed to have taken a liking to him, despite the fact that they always met at night and he had a distinct air about him that let her know in her bones that he could kill her without an extra breath. Cass couldn’t explain how she knew this, or how she still had a complete lack of even instinctual fear, but that was the truth.

“I still am surprised you came,” the man admitted when she walked in for the third time, nearly three weeks since they’d met—excuse her, since he’d attacked her. She shifted in her seat, running her fingertip along the rim of her mug of coffee.

“I’m not scared of you,” she shrugged, looking thoughtful but not alarmed. He either asked or implied the question every time, why was she here and why wasn’t she more cautious. Lars found her intriguing, she wasn’t a girl simply too stupid to recognize the danger he posed to her, but rather, she seemed to simply not care.

“Despite the obvious knowledge that I am not normal?” he pressed, knowing her thoughts were flashing the times he’d attacked her, and she had technically killed him. Only for him to reappear, without a scratch. Cass straightened, squaring her shoulders and looking him dead in the eye. Then, to his surprise, she smirked.

“Oh, I’m very sure you’re not normal,” she said, condescension slipping into her tone. “I very quickly figured your little inability to die properly. Thinking back, I’m not all that remorseful. I could see stabbing at you multiple times as almost enjoyable—like a stress reliever,” her smirk and light, sarcastic tone effectively avoided the question, and shifted Lars’s attention. His eyebrows rose, but he nodded and chuckled.

“Quite the sense of humor on you,” he said. She tilted her head and raised her own eyebrows.

“Ditto,” she deadpanned.

The two fell into silence, both lost in thoughts. Lars held back his sigh as he realized he’d been in this city for nearly a month, a sense of both accomplishment and urgency washing over him. For the first time in nearly a century, he felt unsure. He sized up his companion, eyes lingering over her face and relaxed but aware body, as his mind ran over her every action since he’d encountered her.

The girl before him did the same, though her mind hesitated to connect the civilized, calm, measured man drinking tea in a café with the one who’d cackled at her and bared razor sharp teeth, taunting her with an inhuman gleam in his eyes. They didn’t seem to match, and yet, even the man before her still practically reeked of abnormality. But in the way of an actual psycho. She rolled her eyes internally as she realized she made no sense, and it was frustrating.

“How are you so civilized now when you were a fucking lunatic just weeks ago?” she demanded, fed up with her own circling and inconclusive thoughts. Lars didn’t even look confused. Instead, he sighed.

“It is my personality, my nature,” he said slowly, eyes unfocusing a bit though they remained trained on her. “I do strive for manners, as I was raised and have picked up during my time.”

Cass opened her mouth, disbelieving expression already on, when Lars continued.

“However, I can quite easily become rather monstrous, as is also my nature. It is rather circumstantial.” She closed her mouth, processing for a moment as his answer made very little sense. Her curiosity reached new heights when the man glanced at the clock, then around at the empty café, and sighed. He stood and gathered his coat, looking at her with a genuinely apologetic expression.

“I’m afraid I must leave,” he said, offering no other explanation. Yet, Cass didn’t protest. “Cassille,” he bowed slightly, in a manner that reminded Cass of royalty or Shakespeare. He left the confused girl to finish her coffee, without a second glance.

**********

He needed more time here, Lars decided. But he needed a conclusion quickly, he didn’t like lingering and he wondered when Cassille would either tell someone about him and set the police on his trail—easy enough to get rid of, but annoying nonetheless—or she herself would finally feel fear and act irrational. More importantly, Lars needed a course of action. Though he had always been traveling, somewhat aimlessly it is true as he decided where to go next based on his mood, when it came to interactions with others—especially humans—he tended to enjoy some kind of end means. With Cassille, he didn’t know what he was ever going to say to her, or when. He sought no information from her, and the others he had met like her had never even intrigued him so much. His business with them had either been quick and then they’d separated, with loose promise to perhaps meet again, or not even meeting at all and he had simply noted them and moved on. But here, he remained, unsure of what to tell her, or what she even wanted.

A voice threw him out of his thoughts. The voice was clear and harsh, but unfamiliar.

“Vampire.”

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