It was another regular day at the Endless Night Cafe, with the regular low volume of customers wandering in for a meal or a quick drink. Outside on the streets, the darkness suffocating like the fears of the people, despite the time of day.
Unconcerned with the outside, Jadea leaned on the counter of the bar with one elbow and her other hand on her hip. "This is so unexciting, James." She said to the bartender as he approached her.
"Liven up, Jadi. Stop being so damn depressing, I didn't hire you for this waitressing job to scare away customers." James replied as he dried a cocktail glass with an old cloth.
"Oh please. The only thing that scares anyone these days are the unwanted fights that occur when certain people don't get along." Jadea rolled her eyes nonchalantly, and as if on her cue there was a sudden shout outside the cafe. She shifted her position so that she could have a clear view of the wide tinted window beside the cafe door. The window was like a screen blocking details, yet it allows the shadows of five people to be observed like an ancient shadow puppet show.
"Five bucks says my kind wins this round." Jadea yawned as she slapped a five dollar bill on the bar counter, she raised her eyebrows at James, who sighed and gingerly placed aside his glass to pull out his wallet.
"You know i hate taking sides," he said as he reluctantly placed his bet. "Why you would find these disputes amusing I'll never know."
Jadea shrugged. "Well, boohoo." She taunted half-heartedly, then turned her attention back to the stirring conflict outside. She watched, and quickly recognized that there was one female figure, and four males, all still in their human forms. Even without transformation, Jadea could feel a stir in her emotions since it was obvious now, the cause of the inevitable fight. She drew a deep breath and suppressed the rise of sympathy. As she distanced herself from her mind she watched intently as three male shadows surrounded the couple menacingly, and one of them stepped forward to shove the female's companion. Even through the glass separating them, Jadea could hear the words of hatred.
"Stick to your own species, you dog."
There was a hiss, and the shadow puppet of the female stepped in between the two conflicting males. Jadea could even see the faint glisten of the girl' vampiric fans through the translucent glass.
"Leave him alone."
"Or you'll do what?"
"Or you'll regret it."
"What a laugh. How dare you insult us by choosing them. You are a disgrace to our kind. A traitor."
Out of the corner of her eye, Jadea saw James flinch ever so slightly at the audible exchange. She sighed, knowing all too well the unavoidable outcome of this confrontation.
There was a deep growl and Jadea could see the changing form of the girl's companion, and immediately the quarrel took an ugly turn. Involuntarily averting her glance slightly, Jadea could still hear the rage of the werewolf roar, the hissing of the male vampires as they drew blood, and the agonizing scream of the female vampire.
After a few minutes, the brawl died down and Jadea was able to look back at the window fully. There was only two shadows left standing, both of them were visibly male. Then, one of them stepped forward and spat on the ground before limping away, while the other hesitated momentarily before following.
Jadea blinked a few times, digesting the whole occurrence before turning back to face James, who had in the course of the fight found two more wineglasses to dry.
"So." She shifted so she could put both elbows on the bar counter, and then swiping the ten dollars off the smooth surface as she smiled bitterly. "I guess I win."
"I guess you do. Although technically speaking, they outnumbered him quite a bit."
"Well, we weren't betting on technicalities, now were we?" Jadea drawled, and then paused as she wrinkled her nose disdainfully. "Should we be calling for help now?"
James gave her a disapproving look. "Stop pretending. You know as well as I do that it's way too late to call for help-not that help even exists." He eyed Jadea suspiciously as she shrugged and played with the two five dollar bills. "Why is it that I get the feeling you're used to all this... crap?"
Licking her lips, she caught his glance and stared back. "Don't we all get use it after a millenia of the same old crime stories?"
"Yes, but most of us have only been around on average a few centuries or less. It still affects us to an extent, I couldn't bare to watch that. But you, you're seem accustomed to it. Immune."
"Wow James, that is such a harsh thing to say. I do have feelings too. Besides, what about you, you say you were affected, but you went along with the bet didn't you?"
"Yes, but I have my reasons, I get ten times more of these fights in my life time because of my parents. I'm just lucky I wasn't born a mix-form, otherwise I wouldn't be alive today. Yet you, you act like you've been alive longer than even my parents. Only an age comparable to elders can make a person so... cold."
Jadea gave a smile that emitted no warmth. "Don't you know it's impolite to ask a lady her age?" She rolled her eyes, and stuck her tongue out. James laughed and shook his head.
"More like it's a deathwish to ask a vampire her age, because you are simply no lady, Jadi."
"I know." With a chipper voice Jadea stopped leaning on the counter and stood up straight, she then took one of the five dollar bills and dropped it into the glass James finished drying. James raised an eyebrow at her.
"What are you doing?" He asked, a serious tone suddenly in his voice.
Jadea smiled defiantly. "You were right, it wasn't a fair fight. You can have that back."
"No, I meant that. Do you realize what you've just done? Now I have to clean that wineglass again, this is coming off your daily salary." There was a small jingle of bells as the cafe door opened. "We have customers, get to work or I'll fire you."
With her back to the bar, Jadea waved one hand back at James dismissively and went to take orders.
Even as she smiled superficially and carried around her serving platter with orders of specialty meat and artificial blood drinks, she felt an overwhelming sadness threatening to take hold.
A sadness she blocked from her mind, and the feelings of ignorance she chose to adopt allowed the construction of an illusion.
Hidden by the illusion, in the depths of her mind in which Jadea chose to isolate, there were the residing images of a beautiful girl with flowing dark hair, the blood on her neck and her battered face. Holding her in his arms was a man in clothes torn from his sudden change of form, his own blood pooled on the ground beneath him. He cradled the girl in his arms, and even as he collapsed to his knees, with his last breath and final effort he gently brushed a stray strand of hair from the girl's pale face. In the darkness, his eyes finally closed.
"JADI. The bloodshot martinis are up."
"I'm coming." With an automatic smile Jadea thanked the customer she was serving and moved to retrieve the drinks. As she moved to the bar and began to set the martinis on the platter, her gaze caught the gleaming eyes of a particular male customer sitting at a corner table. She could feel his presence quite suddenly, like an electrifying jolt. Even from a distance, she could see the brightness in his eyes.
Like the last stream of sunlight so long ago...
"Jadi, hey snap out of it and get a move on, take the drinks and serve. You know the drill."
Nodding absently, she turned and said. "Hey James, that customer over there-" Her voice stopped abruptly as the stranger caught her gaze and held it.
"Which customer?" James leaned over and followed her stare. "Oh." Just as Jadea managed to break eyes contact, she turned to see James' expression change and become unreadable.
"Do you know him, James?"
Without replying James moved from behind the bar, he came and gave her a pat on the shoulder. "Yes, just go serve the drink alright? Thanks."
Jadea watched with a quizzed look as James walked to the table and sat down to converse with the mysterious stranger with mesmerizing eyes. She blinked a few times to drive herself out of the daze.
Even as she resumed her waitressing duties she could feel the continuous weight of his gaze. A feeling she couldn't suppress, and unknown to her consciously, the seal of memory had began to crack, allowing the image of a single blood drop to seep through.
a/n: comments are LOVED