Number 32 – Night
Dark descended on the city, wrapping it in its cool embrace. The day had been hot, uncomfortably so, but the night was clear, meaning the heat bounced away from the surface of the earth and escaped. The night was cold, and those who had happily discarded jackets and jumpers during the day found themselves reaching for them. It was a Friday, the weekend had arrived, and the bars were full while the club's prepared to open.
Most of those who were out had gone straight from work, many of the men still in suits, now with collars open and ties hidden. The noise crawling over the city was loud – the sound of traffic, of constant chatter, of clinking bottles and glasses.
He stood at the balcony of the flat, in one of the tallest buildings in the city, and stared out at the lights.
The lights in the city eclipsed the stars in the sky. All that could be seen was man-made, electrical. Nature and her beauty had been pushed to the outskirts.
From behind, he heard movement. Turning, he found himself staring at Blake. The vampire moved around the flat, topless, showing off his hard muscles. A pair of jeans clung to his waist, the belt keeping them tight and in place. Women found him attractive, if they were in the right places. The green spikes on his head, his Mohawk, turned a lot of women off. But there were even more who drifted to him, more who would stare at him with slightly open mouths, who could sense the danger flowing off him.
It was usually teenagers. Young girls who knew no better. Young women who wanted someone who would scare Daddy. Girls who had no idea what they were in for.
Blake glanced up, smiling as he caught sight of his friend watching him.
They made a good pair. Blake's punk-rock exterior offset by the more conservative looking Poison. Of course, Blake would often insist they go to some of the more 'rock' places to look for their prey. When that happened, Poison would end up wearing t-shirts with bands on them he had never heard of, or designs and labels that Blake claimed were 'alternative'.
Poison had long ago given up tracking the fashions of humans. The last time he had really paid attention had been the sixties, when the hippie movement had struck. Remembering those days always made him smile; all he'd had to do then was claim he was against the Vietnam War, and he'd have a whole group of girls willing to go with him, wherever he was going.
"Where do you want to go tonight?" he asked, turning his back on the window and the city, giving his whole attention to Blake. The punk shrugged, grabbing a t-shirt from the back of the sofa and lifting it to his nose, sniffing. Poison rolled his eyes.
"What?" Blake muttered. "Still clean." He yanked it on, covering his chest, before grabbing the gel on the coffee table and putting a whole load into his hand. Blake ran it through his spikes, glancing in the mirror to make sure they were in the right positions. He dropped down onto an armchair, grabbing his packet of tobacco and papers from the table and beginning to roll. He spoke, with his head bent and concentration focused fully on the task at hand. "Okay, tonight. What about Seventy-Three? Haven't been there in a while."
Poison moved to the sofa, lowering himself and nodding slowly. "All right. But we do have to move on soon."
"I know. Could head to Birmingham, next. Or Manchester."
"I was thinking we could return to London."
Blake lifted his head, fixing Poison with a hard glare. "I wonder why."
"Don't look at me like that."
"Come on, man. I thought we were trying to stay away from the rest, for a bit anyway. It's not like they need us."
"I would simply like to see how they are doing, that's all."
"Poison, can't we just…stay away? You know how I feel about Marcus."
"Marcus is fine, once you get used to him."
Blake stood up, suddenly, dropping the half-rolled cigarette. The tobacco dropped almost straight away, sprinkling over the carpet, while the paper fell slowly, fluttering through the air.
"Fine. Go back. Go be best mates with that prick again. But I won't be coming with you."
"Blake…" He went to move towards him, but Blake was fast. The punk turned, and was gone, disappearing out the door so fast that even Poison's eyes couldn't track him. "Fine," he muttered, crossing his arms and glaring at the door. "Be like that."
After a few moments, he grabbed his jacket, pulled it on and went out after Blake.
X X X
The city really did come alive at night.
Well, except for during the week. Then, the streets were empty, bored men sitting in twenty-four shops, flicking through magazines as they waited for customers that would never come, the odd drunk stumbling home, maybe a few kids messing around.
But on Friday nights, the city buzzed with life. Lights glared down at Poison from every building on the street, some winking at him as they flashed, others making the name of clubs stand out, a beacon for party goers. There were a few places the pair frequented enough that the staff knew their names; they were always careful not to take anyone from there. Poison headed to the nearest pub, deciding to start there. There was a girl there Blake liked, young, pretty and full of life. She always gave them an extra shot in their drinks, always chatted happily to them when things were quiet. It was easy enough to see she had a thing for the punk, even if Poison hadn't been able to read her mind.
And Blake always said he'd give her what she wanted, on their last night. Poison almost felt sorry for her.
Falling for one of them was never a good idea, even if the feelings had been returned.
How many times had he or Blake got carried away, forgotten who they with or what, exactly, they were doing? How many times had the screams of pleasure turn into painful shrieks?
The pub was busy, with people clambering around the bar, shoving each other out of the way and cursing those who wouldn't move. It was times like this that he missed the old public houses. People hadn't been so rude, not back then, even with alcohol flowing through their veins.
He made his way to the bar, though before he even got there he knew Blake wasn't in the building. The girl was pouring shots for a group of lads, but when she turned, Poison called her name. She flashed him a smile, held up a finger to indicate she would be a minute, and served the group. When she had finished, she slid towards Poison.
"I'm really busy, I can't…"
"It's fine. I just need to know if you've seen Blake."
She shook her head. "Nope. Hasn't been in here. Sorry."
"No worries." It almost strained him to say something like that, but he had learnt over the years that to avoid detection, he needed to adapt his speech. He needed to speak like the people around him. "If you see him just…tell him I am sorry. Tell him I'm looking for him?"
She nodded. "Will do."
She turned back around, moving to the next man waiting to be served. Poison fished out a five pound note from his pocket, dropped it in the tip jar at the end of the bar, and left.
He scanned the street. If he had fed, he'd be able to find him no problem. But as it was, he hadn't fed since the night before. Not long ago enough that the hunger was overcoming him, but just enough time to impair his skills.
Poison breathed out slowly.
Not that he needed to breathe, but habits died hard, and even after centuries, building frustrations still caused him to inhale or exhale.
He turned a corner, heading down a smaller side-street. There was another pub on the corner, a small, Irish-style bar where the staff were friendly enough. He stepped inside. It was quieter in here, with only about half the tables full and just a few people at the bar. He slid up to it, grinning as one of the girls turned and flashed him a wide smile.
"Hey," she drawled, stepping towards him. "Usual?"
He settled on one of the bar stools.
The girl poured out the Guinness, placed it in front of him and took his money, before returning to him. "Haven't seen you for a few nights."
He picked up the pint, brought it to his lips and drank. As he lowered it, he sucked off any remaining beer from his lips. Not that it did anything to him. Drinking from inebriated humans could make him feel tipsy, could give him the effect of drinking alcohol, but the drink itself had no effect except to make him look like he was just another bar patron.
Just another guy with nothing to do all night except sit in pubs and chat to pretty girls.
"Been busy," he replied. "Haven't seen my friend, have you?"
She shook her head. "Nope, sorry. Lost him?"
Poison shrugged. "Guess you could say that. Will you keep an eye out for me?"
"'Course." She nodded, before turning to one of the other customers and serving him. Her eyes kept sliding to him, sitting there, quietly sipping at his pint. He kept his head bowed, kept his own eyes hidden from view. He couldn't exactly go around wearing sunglasses all the time. It worked in some places, but in most it just made him look out of place. It attracted attention.
Luckily, most of the interaction he had with humans was in dark, dingy places where they couldn't even see the colour of his eyes.
Does he like me? He thinks I'm useless, probably has an important great job, would never think of dating a bar girl, maybe I should tell him I'm at the University, tell him I'm studying…
He blocked out her thoughts, kept drinking, kept up the pretence. Once the drink was finished, he flashed her a quick smile, and a wink for good measure, and left.
People were pulling their jackets tighter as they slipped out of pubs, and he couldn't help but notice how most of them were wrapped up. He pulled at his own jacket, mimicking their movements, acting like he could feel the cold.
He turned up and headed back to the main street, picking out the thoughts of random people, trying to keep an eye out for the image of Blake. If anyone had seen him, he would be there, lurking in their minds, not exactly easy to forget.
Maybe returning to London wasn't the best idea. When they'd left the others, both Poison and Blake had agreed they would travel around a while, avoid other vampires, then seek the rest out when they both felt ready. But Poison had been with the Coven longer than Blake, was used to being able to defer to them about certain matters, was used to having them around, their company, even if he sometimes grew fed up with it.
Blake had barely been on his own, since he had been made. If he hadn't been with the others, he had been with Poison. He didn't understand yet how a century on his own could make him long for the constant company of others.
Another bar, another set of staff, still no sign of Blake. He didn't stop for a drink, just carried on, ducking into the next and the next and the next…
Finally, he did the sensible thing and headed for Seventy-Three. The club was down a side-street, where bins sat outside the backs of pubs and shops. It was dingy and dirty, the door almost hiding from view, set back in the wall with two bouncers standing outside. There was no queue. Poison strode up to the bouncers, smiled, and was let in instantly. He winked at the girl taking money, handing over his fiver and holding his hand out to get the back stamped.
His smile made the girl blush.
Stairs led down into the club proper, and as soon as he came to the bottom he could hear the heavy, fast paced punk rock blaring out. How did humans, with their fragile ears, stand it?
He slipped through the people, casting a few smiles at some of the girls, unable to believe how easy it was to make them gape at him.
Once he reached the dance floor, he slid in towards the wall, sticking to the shadows as he glanced around.
Blake was more than easy to spot.
He was on the dance floor with some girl, his hands on her hips as she swung them left to right. She kept glancing up at him, eyes wide and mouth slightly open, a sweet young smile on her sweet young face.
Poison dipped into her head.
Nineteen, off to University in the autumn, took a gap year. She'd been travelling, in the summer. Was now working, saving money so she wasn't skint for three years.
He had to dig to find it, to find her life, to pull it out strand by strand. On the top, above all the clues to her life, to her family – her parents, her three younger brothers, aunts and uncles by the dozen and a family party the week after, someone's birthday – were images of her and Blake, wrapped together, him inside her, her screaming, riding him.
Poison turned away from the dance floor, back up to the bar. Opposite it, against a wall, was a bored girl. Twenty-one, no degree, no plans to get one. A job, boring and repetitive, the same thing day after day. Her friend off with some guy, having fun. She liked the music but wished her mate wouldn't just leave her all the time.
Poison stepped towards the girl, leaning on the wall beside her. "Can I buy you a drink?"
She looked up from her phone, looking surprised as she glanced at him. Her eyes widened even more when she took in the sight of him.
"Yeah, sure." She stammered, but only slightly. "Err, vodka and coke, please."
"No problem." He threw in a wink, and moved to the bar. He could have made them part easily, could have made them step aside without them even realising what he was doing, but he didn't. He couldn't stand out. He couldn't make her think there was something different about him.
He wondered, briefly, if people were more cautious in the daytime. Outside the clubs and pubs, were they more careful? Less likely to go home with a random stranger if they approached them in a coffee shop? It wasn't just the alcohol. There had been plenty of times when Poison and Blake had ended up drinking from girls that had seemed drunk, but were sober; acting more drunk in the hopes that men would approach them that way, in the belief that men would be put off by someone sober and in their right mind.
This girl, though, wasn't drunk nor was she acting so. She was just bored. He glanced over his shoulder, smiled at her, and she returned it easily, though there was a touch of nerves about it.
Poison finally reached the bar, attracting the attention of a young guy who looked like he'd rather be anywhere else. He leant forward, calling his order, leaning back as the guy went to work. Once he had the drinks, and the money had been passed over, Poison edged back out of the crowd around the bar and towards the girl. He passed her the drink.
"No problem. Not here on your own, are you?"
She shook her head. "Nah. My mate is…around somewhere." She shrugged. "With some guy."
"That sucks. Doesn't sound like a very good friend."
"Nah, it's okay." She shrugged. "Let her have her fun, she deserves it."
"So do you."
In the dark, no one else but him would have noticed the strips of red that appeared on her cheeks.
He slid closer to her, lifting his hand and putting two fingers under her chin, tilting it up so she was looking directly at him. "You've very beautiful."
"I mean it." There must have been something reassuring about his smile, because when he dipped his head she offered no resistance.
From there, it was all too easy.
X X X
There was a river running through the city, one day, eventually, it would wash up the corpses Blake and Poison had deposited there. Until then, they would remain hidden, the people nothing more than statistics, listed among the missing.
They would both be long gone by then.
Part of him felt bad for the families; surely it was better to know their loved one was dead and gone, than cling onto the hope they were out there somewhere?
He turned away from the river.
Soon, he was back at the flat, packing up the few belongings he had there. Blake wouldn't return until the sun was almost up, and by then he would be too out of it to even notice the flat was devoid of another presence.
Too tired, worn out and full to notice the note left for him.
I'm going to London. Track me down when you feel like it.
He dropped the key on the table with the note, slung the bag onto his back and left, knowing Blake would catch up with him eventually, somewhere, when the nights along got too much.
A/N: Another of the 100 Theme Challenge; this one is Number 32 – Night. And another addition to Poison's life. Anyway, as always, thoughts and feedback are very much appreciated, and reviews are returned. If you have a moment, please check out the poll on my profile page to help me decide what to write next.