I’ve been waiting for you, my love.
I’ve waited for hundreds of years.
Is this the century when finally you return to me? The decade?
Is this the year?
I can smell you, my love.
I would know that scent anywhere.
And I know that you know mine.
Two ethereal, pulseless creatures in a room full of throbbing meat.
Your eyes find mine.
And I hope.
You were too young to understand how to use your glamour, but you didn’t need to.
You drew me in so powerfully that neither magic nor words were needed.
I didn’t trust you, of course.
What fool would have?
I should have trusted you.
If only I had understood you when you locked those pretty blue eyes on me and frantically whispered run.
It wouldn’t have mattered anyways, even if we’d had a language in common.
I would never have outrun your sire.
The only blessing is that in the bloody, luxurious haze of her feeding frenzy, Shadow Weaver didn’t hear you say it.
I didn’t understand what the two of you wanted from me, why you kept me, why you didn’t retaliate when I screamed and bit and thrashed.
Oh, but I ached for you as much as I hated you, even back then.
It was never a secret that Shadow Weaver kept me for you.
But you couldn’t do it.
Despite the incredible, quaking hunger of a fledgling, despite the way my terror must have turned my heartbeat into a siren song of desperate temptation, you couldn’t do it.
In the end, Shadow Weaver bit me out of impatience with you, I think, more than out of actual hunger.
Ah, my love. Nobody could ever imagine that kind of pain.
Nobody but you, of course.
It’s only getting more difficult to stay hidden.
This is her latest theory: to hide where the greatest number of people are, taking from an abundant source with a surplus of heaving humanity.
We are clean, and we are careful, and for a while now she’s enjoyed a life of opulence with you at her feet - you, the pretty, much-desired beauty of every evening soiree, the perfect lure for fools with more ambition than sense.
They lust after you and I smell their crude hunger, and I restrain my possessive fury only with the promise that soon I will taste the sweet nectar of their lifeblood.
I am thin, and I am always hungry.
She always makes me eat last.
I know that you’re the only reason she hasn’t killed me out of frustration with my lingering presence.
If you are to be her protégé, her finest creation and an essential paving stone in her eternal legacy, then I am simply your obnoxious hanger-on to be endured.
It is here in the stinking streets of a rapidly growing city that you pull me to your breast for the first time.
Mords moi, you whisper. Nourris-toi.
Feed from you? Unimaginable.
Shadow Weaver would break all of my limbs and throw me into the river for even considering it.
But she isn’t here. She’s left us alone to meet with her own sire, covetous of her progeny and disinclined to let him see us unless directly ordered to.
Ah, my love, my love.
You were rich with blood that night, stolen from merchants and whores and young, foolish philosophers. Blood you were choosing to share.
Your flesh felt warm beneath my lips, though it couldn’t possibly have been.
Your gasp as my fangs pressed against you, broke skin -
If I allow myself to remember, I may lose myself in the remembering for days.
I loved you so much already, but that intimacy, that care, that disregard of our sire’s rules just for me, for me -
Oh, how much you can love, how many different ways you can learn to love, with the luxury of a few centuries.
New York, 1843
We thought we were safe.
We’re careful. We’re clean.
But not all of our kind are.
We go where the prey is thickest, and we don’t stay more than a few years at a time.
Humans are easy enough to kill, easy enough to fool, in isolation.
In groups… in groups, they become dangerous.
Somebody gets sloppy, and suddenly there are far too many of us.
Too many, too young, too clumsy.
Vampire hunters, you tell me, your bright eyes solemn.
You don’t fool me, love. I know you’re excited.
I know you long for a challenge.
For something other than easy prey and easier living.
I know because I long for that too.
If only I’d understood that they would steal you away from me without needing to use silver-tipped bolts or holy relics.
It felt like you were there one dawn and then gone by the next nightfall.
I called for you, I called for you.
And the next time I saw you, you were theirs.
I didn’t understand at the time, of course.
I cried for the first time in maybe sixty, seventy years.
It still aches. It aches like the memory of the bite that turned me.
But I understand it now.
New Orleans, 1860
Catra, you say to me, through the crackling inferno of the burning mansion, come with me.
We can kill her together if you help me. And then you’ll be free.
And what of her sire? What of his?
We’ll never be free. Never.
I don’t have a choice.
You chase me.
It means more to me than I can possibly describe.
I hear your humans shout as they sight me too late.
I am gone. I am gone.
I miss you so, so much.
Los Angeles, 1925
You find me again. You always do.
I’m stronger now. Without you around, I feed second instead of third.
I will never live up to you, never live up to the memory of the perfect predator she’d shaped you into, but there’s no sense in competing with someone who doesn’t exist anymore.
You must get tired of your humans dying constantly, I say, wrapped around you, desperately trying to remind your body of what it was like when we were inseparable, you and I.
I fight the temptation to bite them every day, you tell me, still more honest than any one of our kind should ever be. To keep them.
I laugh at you, at the way you can’t bring yourself to shrug free of my lazy embrace.
We are enemies, supposedly.
But you could never hurt me. You’ve never really been able to, even when ordered to.
Even when I was just meat, pulsing with blood and life and babbling in a language you didn’t speak.
And I - well -
I can certainly hurt you. I have, and I will again.
But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been utterly, completely yours from the very beginning.
Vampire hunter, I whisper in your ear. Will you hunt me?
You have to stop killing, you say, touching my lips with cold, soft fingertips.
I don’t think I can.
You want to know how she died.
You felt it when it happened.
I’m not sure how you found me this time, but, well -
We don’t waste time talking about it. We never have.
I killed her, I say, nonchalantly.
You don’t believe me. Not at first.
Not until I describe the way I pinned her down and drained her dry, letting her thrash and tear and shred at me as much as she wanted as I pulled every drop of stolen life from her miserable, hateful body.
You shouldn’t be so surprised, love.
I’d been fantasizing about killing the bitch for nearly four hundred years.
We’re free, you say, always so tender, always so naive.
But I know we’re not.
Either we kill him, or we die in the attempt.
It’s taken this long just to find his nest, to work our way up through his underlings, to dispatch Shadow Weaver’s sire and then bring the fight to the ancient who turned him.
I run my hands up your body, and I tell myself that no matter how impossibly foolish this mission is, I won’t leave you.
I pull you to me, and my mouth finds the heat and wetness of you, and together we waste our stolen blood deliciously, joyously.
What better way to use up your limited supply of life than on something as ephemeral and as potent as love?
You’re a fool, I whisper against the curve of your breast.
We fill our thin-walled, mildew scented hotel room with the hot stink of bodies that are almost, almost alive.
If I’m the fool, then what are you, who follows a fool into battle? You ask, eventually, from between my thighs.
I arch my back as your fangs prick the flesh of my leg, your tongue and lips touching with such magnificent glory that I think perhaps in them I can remember what it was like to watch the sun rise, to feel its light warm and welcome upon my face.
I am yours, my love. I am yours.
You twine your fingers through mine, press me back into the pillows.
And I yours, you say, holding my stare.
Flush with the recent feed, we coil around each other, body to body, legs entwined, wetness mingling.
I put my mouth to your neck and I feel you put your mouth to mine.
Our breathing is heavy, afraid, urgent.
I pierce your sweet skin, taste the intoxicating ambrosia of blood that has been through your eternal veins, and I groan into you and jerk in exquisite pain as you bite down into me in return.
I drink as you do the same, and color flashes in my vision, lights dancing wild behind my eyes, ecstasy roaring through my limbs, and always, always that astonishing pain as you bite, as you drink, as you finally, finally take what you want from me.
What is yours is mine.
What is mine is yours.
And together, we are more powerful than anything she could have dreamed we’d be on our own.
Ah, my love, my love.
Here you are.
I’ve missed you so much.
It feels good to be in your body again; feels good to have you in mine.
Are we ready?
Yes, I think we are.
I have waited long enough.
Our freedom is not something we will ever be given.
It is something we must take.
Come, my love.
It’s time we took it.