If you find this slow, it picks up pace soon.


Black tie optional. Just about the three best words I could hear, until, that is, the reason for me having to go somewhere where it was black tie optional told me I had to dress fancy.

I hated this woman's guts.

There is something about people that really tick me off, and I honestly have no idea what it is. Certain things about each individual really, and I never give them a chance to clear my mind free from the assumptions I have about them before I know them, so I sort of never unhate someone.

In short: I hate everyone.

This woman was obese, and she looked at me as if I were a piece of meat that she would love to get her sausage fingers on. First time I met her, her beady eyes fixated on me and examined every inch of my thin frame. She made me feel anorexic.

"Ouch," I groaned.

The tailor had stabbed my leg with a needle. I winced down at my limb while the man apologized. People weren't my thing, and thankfully I didn't have to worry about manners in my job.

Staring at three reflections of myself I felt very self-conscious in the tux I was wearing. The tuxedo the woman had given me needed major altering, which was why I was at a tailor. She bought a tuxedo for someone six times my size. It felt more like a tent than an outfit.

Tonight I had a "date" with the woman. A date that I hoped would be over as soon as it started. Though, with my luck, I'm sure it would take hours before anything supernatural would arise.

My job required things like this to happen pretty much everyday. Sometimes it would take minutes, hours, once even two months, until my assignment is completed. I hadn't lost a soul yet, and I wasn't going to lose this latest assignment just because she had an extra creepy factor to her.

As the tailor continued with his poking and prodding I felt my cell phone buzz in my pocket. I dug my hand into it, fishing it out, and looked at who was calling. There were only four people who would be calling me, or at least four I had programmed into my phone, and it was Zef this time.

Zef was my boss. She was twice my age, but three times as smart and beautiful. The only person I would actually call beautiful, since she didn't get on my nerves like all the other people on the planet.

Her thick accent is from a foreign country I can't remember, and her outfits make me think of World War I.

"Yes?" I said.

"I believe you're supposed to say hello," Zef retorted, her accent flowing perfectly through the quarter of a hundred miles distance between us. I smiled into the receiver.

"Hello?" I retried.

She laughed. "So your name for tonight is Johnny," she began. "Johnny Train. You're Miss Dabberling's next-door-neighbor and only came to the benefit tonight because you find her 'sweet.'"

I was tired of the conversation already. She was telling me things I already knew. Except for the woman's name. I had forgotten that since I read it in the woman's file.

"So tonight you're supposed to basically dance with her, sit with her, laugh at her stupid jokes, and–"

"–hope she doesn't pinch me in the butt again while I'm surveying the surrounding area?" I chimed in, a sick smile trailing my exhausted face.

In the mirrors I noticed my bloodshot eyes and the dark circles forming underneath them.

Damn it. My assignment the night before took longer than I would have liked, and it was clear that I had no sleep in the last forty-two hours.

"It's not her fault you're charming looking," Zef said. "I'm sure that after an hour or two with you glued to her side she'll be dying for the evening to be over, too."

I feigned disappointment at her comment. It was obvious, though, that I liked what she was saying. I wanted this evening to already be over, and thinking that soon the annoyingly large woman would also only made me smile.

"Zef you don't know me at all. I can be nice… sometimes…"

Below me the tailor was eavesdropping, but I didn't bother to tell him not to. I wanted the suit done as soon as possible, and sending him off so I could have a more private discussion with my boss wasn't going to make things go faster.

"Just smile and never let the assignment out of your sight," she said sharply. They were the words we lived by, as well as: "Keep your gun on you at all times."

"Goodbye," I muttered, hanging up after her own formal goodbye. We rarely hung up with smiles on our faces. Somehow conversations between us always seemed to sour right when it was time to go.

"You're all done," the tailor said. I eyed him suspiciously, questioning where he learned his tailoring ways, but when I caught sight of myself in the mirrors I realized I was indeed done.

The suit was formfitting now, a little too formfitting, but I wasn't complaining. I'm sure Miss Whatshername was going to enjoy me as her "date" tonight, even more than she did before. I stretched my arms out in front of me, testing the man's tailoring gift. He definitely was fast.

It didn't even look like the same suit I came in with. But as my fingers ran over the hem of the collar, feeling the fabric, I knew it most certainly was. Just my size now.

"How much?" I asked, stepping off the small stool he made me stand on.

He stood up, groaning from the effort. Shaking his head and hands he plainly smiled. "Oh, no. No need to pay. On the house."

I cocked an eyebrow up at him, and then shrugged, glad I didn't have to whip out my wallet. There wasn't much cash in it anyways and I wasn't comfortable with checks and credit cards.

Out of the corner of my eye, after I had changed back into my street clothes, I spotted purple goo at his feet and talons for fingers.

Ah, a demon. No wonder Zef had sent me here. She must have known what he was. It was clear now why I was free – Zef was the reason.

"Speaking of nothing," I thought to add, turning to him when he was on the opposite side of the front desk. It was better we were speaking with something like that between us. "Thank you for the suit fixing."

His head cocked up and he smiled, his wrinkling face distorted. "You're welcome, Johnny Train."

I laughed, picking up the suit. "See you never banal." Banal is what us humans are referred to as by nonhumans.

Walking outside into the fresh day, I realized he was the first demon I came across outside of work. It was actually nice. He did a great job on the suit, which I still admired as I walked towards my car.

Strolling the street used to be something I craved after work, back when my work consisted of average things. Now I simply made a point not to run into anyone, whether I knew them or not, and hoped that I get to my car as quickly as manageable.

Not only did I hate people, but also I just hated running into demonic beings that aren't assigned to me to kill. Especially on the street when I get bumped into very rudely more than I like. My temper usually flares when I'm walking the streets these days.

Without running into a single person, I found myself at my car's side. In this part of town I was surprised to find it still parked where I left it. It being an Audi R8 5.2 made it easily obvious parked between two Honda Civics.

My eyes registered a scene across the street, and I couldn't happen but notice one of the two people in a fight I shouldn't be looking at was not a real homo sapien.

Two out of ten people are not exactly human. If you take a group of ten people straight off the street, you're bound to have at least two demonic beings in your presence. They could be an incubus, banshee, demonic creature from hell, or even a werewolf. Something foreign, to say the least. Something not completely – or at all – a homo sapien.

As I sped by the streets of the beautiful yet corrupted city I called home most of my life, I caught sight of a few more "humans" out there.

Being reminded of that fact, I also was reminded of when I originally was told it.

When I was initially offered the job I have now, I denied Zef. She wasn't precisely pleased with me, but come on. I honestly thought she forgot to take her meds that morning. The way she worded what I would eventually call my career… it had me worried for her sanity.

The next day, though, I had grown to be paranoid.

Zef had given me a description of what to expect now that I "knew the truth." It went straight to my head, created what I believed to be illusions. Most were, but eventually I truly was seeing the real side of some of these people.

At first whenever I blinked, whenever someone bothered to look at me on the bus or at my then job – being a waiter – I thought I saw goo forming at someone's feet, or their eyes change, maybe even a different kind of skin on their neck when they moved their head. By the end of the first twenty-four hours, I thought my whole life was a sham and everyone I knew was something else.

Ever since I called her, asking for help, pleading for the red pill, I've known the truth of this world. One year later, here I am.

Mulder was right – we are not alone. But, nothing that is deemed supernatural is from another planet, another universe.

A red light caught my eye and I slowed just as it turned green again. These days I kept getting green lights, rarely reds or yellows. That is something I'm still suspicious about.

Still thinking on the past, I couldn't help but think of my first assignment, as I passed a tattoo parlor with a large mermaid painted on the front of the building's door.

Too many past memories resurfacing in one day, I thought.

My first case was a lifeguard who worked at a nice beach in California. I remember he was completely full of himself, but I suppose in some twisted world he did sort of have a good reason. All those hours he worked out – he wouldn't stop bragging – did pay off. I guess. Nevertheless, I'm sure the psycho version of Ariel wouldn't have stalked him and killed three of his human, and saner, admirers if he didn't look the way he did.

Another red light. This time I had to fully stop and wait. Oddly, the idea of my first red light in months made me smile.

I needed a life.

I was snapped back to reality by a text message. Being the idiot I am, I checked it while the light turned back to green. Again I began speeding while reading the cyber note from Zef.

B here asap. Must tlk abt strgy.

I made a face at the small cellular device's screen.

Who the hell thought that inventing that kind of a language would be easier on the world? Not me. Honestly…

This was just another example why I hated humanity.

There was no need to reply. I was pulling into the parking lot of our inconspicuous building when I shut my phone.

One of the many not so subtle guards was there to walk me from my car to inside the building. Our front is we're a small paper company. It goes to show how bad of a society we have if no one questions all the high tech security we have for such a lame job profession.

At least I didn't have a boss like Michael Scott.

"Zef Paper, Jenna speaking. How may I direct your call?"

I waved politely at her. It was better than ignoring the only other person here my age. She registered the wave with one of those half-smiles I never really understood.

Jenna helps keep the civilians out, and sorts out possible clients and the simply idiotic while she's not doing what a real receptionist does. Don't quiz me on what that is, since I seriously have no idea. I simply know about what I just said and the fact she answers the phone all day.

Wagging my security card in front of the reader beside the elevator doors, I waited for the nice computerized voice to say my ID number and allow the large guard and I to head upwards.

"Nice day, right?" I tried for conversation with him everyday.

He was probably the only real person I had no reason to hate or like. Maybe that was because he never said anything to me, not once, not ever. Or it could just be because if I thought something wrong or good about him he would probably crush my skull in with his large, monster truck tire sized hands.

The elevator took us to the third floor, which in a way was the first floor (we only had Jenna on the first floor and nothing on the second) and slid open in front of us with a squeak.

The huge and imposing guard to my left pushed open the door a few feet away from the elevator after punching in a key I already knew. As soon as I was on the other side of it, he disappeared out of sight without a word. He still doesn't trust me, which has had me curious for quite some time.

I never trust anyone because they aren't me. Plain and simple.

Down the hall, past all the cubicles that are sort of just like lockers for us agents, was Zef's office. She was, after all, the big boss.

Her office is spacey, white, giving off the feel it belongs in the 23rd century and not the 21st. All the furniture is strangely shaped and I can never sit right in the chairs offered. Mostly I just stand, which I'm thankful she doesn't mind.

To my relief she was standing too when I finally got to her already opened office door. She gestured for me to close it. Not a very good sign.

"Hi," I said, smiling wide like I knew I was about to be laid off. However, what would happen to me here would probably be far worse.

"Sit," she demanded; accent, like usual, thick. For a brief moment I thought I finally caught that it was Australian, but then I soon realized it was nothing like an Australian accent.

I sat at once, slipping and sliding in what's called a chair. If you look at them, they appear to be more like abstract art sculptures. But, hey, to each her own.

A sigh came out of her. Definitely not a good sign. Her fingers rapped the desktop, her teeth worrying her lip. Then she finally sat herself.

We were equally at eye level, once I stopped squirming to find a comfortable position in the seat.

Her eyes were masked with concern.

I gulped.

At once she removed the mood from her and was lively again, leaning back and waving her hands in the air. "I'm sure you're wondering what you've been asked to come in here for," she started off saying. I opened my mouth to speak, but never got to utter a word. "Personally I just thought maybe it was best you go down to the garage and get some new tools."

"Everything I have is perfectly capable of getting my work done," I replied.

Big and Dub were decent men, two people I didn't hate all the time, but everyone who worked for Big simply didn't know when to shut up. They were all annoying down there, and I dreaded visiting the place every time I had to.

Zef's eyebrows rose in question of my response. "I'm sure, but it would be nice if you updated your weapons once in a while. Some of the things you have are practically antiques."

She fleetingly glanced at my waist, which was where my gun was attached. I peeked down at it, wondering what exactly was wrong with what I had.

"Update that first," she demanded. "Honestly, we like to keep ourselves ahead of the police. They've had that weapon for nearly half a year now. So go upgrade it."

If I upgraded it tonight I would probably end up not knowing how to use the newer gun. Every time I upgrade (which, actually, has only been twice) my gun, I always end up not knowing how to use the new one for a while. It's what I get for not being so into science fiction movies with futuristic guns as a child.

"Fine," I gloomily said, leaping up from the chair and walking out.

Zef knew me well enough not to take most of what I do personal. It's just how I am. Leaving without a proper goodbye is just something I unintentionally do.

Hey, I never had a mother to slap me in the head and tell me I was being an ass, so don't blame me.

Okay, you can blame me.

Anyways…

Big is the car man. He has a dozen mechanics working all the time, but he is the main man who works the cool gadgets to put inside a car, who makes sure the car actually works, and everything else that comes with his somewhat cryptic job.

He's another agent, like myself, but his main job is working the cars in our garage out back.

One of his mechanics, Lane, is also another not annoying person all the time. But, his music on the other hand is very irritating. It's always blasting whenever I walk in, nearly bursting my eardrums.

I winced, per usual, as I passed the car he was working at, closing in the distance between Dub and me.

Dub is the whiz at gadgets, like my own personal Q. I waved at him as he noticed me coming and then stopped short when he blew something at me.

"Duck!" he shouted.

So I ducked, just in time to miss the piece of fuzz that was flying in the air faster than a natural piece of fuzz should. It flew into the wall behind me, and exerted a heavy amount of force into the wall, creating a gaping hole in it as it exploded.

I straightened out in time to see Dub dancing in place. His large oval glasses were falling off his face as he swept back his fading black hair.

"So you've managed to put another hole in the wall," I noted. "Congratulations."

He scowled at me momentarily, but then returned to his blissful state. "It's not that. It's just that I didn't kill anyone. That fuzz could have gone anywhere."

Great. My smile faded to nothing.

"What is it you're here for exactly?" he asked, turning back to his table of tricks. There were more pieces of fuzz in a bag marked 'Death Balls'; I made sure not to touch the bag.

I gestured to his gun rack in the corner, which was rather impressive. "I'm just here to exchange my gun for a new one. Zef says it's time I trade mine in since the police force have the same model now."

He rolled his eyes and dusted himself off. "It's a lovely model. I don't understand why she doesn't wait until you've wrecked it or something to get a new one." He rolled his eyes a second time. "Well, since she's our lovely boss, I suppose I must follow the rules. This way."

I followed him the twenty steps over to where the guns were placed, and waited for him to pick one out, glancing it over a couple times. It was around the same size as the one I had on my belt, a perfect size to keep hidden and yet big enough I didn't have to worry about not fitting my fingers properly around it, yet it was very much a futuristic gun.

"It's the newest and the latest. I'm sure those cops won't be able to obtain one of these beauties for years."

"That's what you said about the last one," I said, taking hold of the gun in my hands. It was lighter than my old one, which was a plus side.

Dub glowered again. "Your glock, please?"

I took it out and handed it over to him, oddly glad I was. This new one looked easier than the previous gun I owned; definitely a good thing.

"So what kind of bullets you have for this?"

He raised a finger up, bending down to the shelves beside our feet. Inside each shelf was a type of bullet, like silver, the original bullet, or even special kinds designed to kill specific creatures.

Dub's hands disappeared in one of the unnamed shelves and pulled out a whole bunch of boxes of bullets for me. I was grinning, like a child who just arrived at the toy store and was being showered with gifts.

The boxes were set down back on his desk before he started rummaging through one of them. His hand came out with a lone bullet to show me, the expression on his face showing he was proud of this specific creation of his. In his hand was one that inside held bits of garlic and holy water, wrapped inside a silver shell.

It was his newest creation.

"Vampires run from this one," he said, shaking it a little. Pieces of the garlic floated around inside the water like fish. He returned it to its box and pulled out another bullet from another box.

"This one," his grin went even wider, "has human blood inside it."

I grimaced, to his delight.

"If you're ever hunting something that goes crazy at the smell of human blood, shoot this into it and it'll go insane, as well as attract any more of its species to come to your location. But," he placed it back in its spot, "it won't work on vampires. It'll probably just make them hurt a little and they would then feed on the blood, but that's it."

"And how would you know this?" I asked.

His eyes glazed over with sorrow as he placed the boxes in a bag for me, like I had just bought groceries here. "Because we've tested it on them," he said. "They're not fans of that one."

When he handed over the bullets, turning away immediately back to his work, I took it as a sign the conversation was over.

It didn't matter. It's not like I wanted to continue it.

"Hey you!" Big called from across the garage.

I figured he was calling for me, so I turned to him. "I have a name you know," I snapped.

He shrugged. "Doesn't matter." His big head poked out from behind the Ferrari he was working on. We agents don't care about being subtle – most of us anyway. "So what you get today?"

I pulled out my gun and raised it up for him to see, only to put it back on my belt again and start to walk towards the exit.

"Nice," he cheered.

I passed by Jenna on my way back to my car, thinking it would be best to check in with Zef before I went home. Getting a nasty phone call later wasn't on my to-do list, and this was the best I could do to avoid getting one.

"Tell Zef I did what she asked of me," I whispered.

Jenna hardly glanced up from the note she was taking from someone on the phone. She hung up before replying. "Tell her yourself," she said, gesturing with her brow to behind me.

I twisted around to spot Zef coming through the front doors in our general direction, my sneakers squeaking against the floor. Her smile made me think she overheard what I had said, but her words implied otherwise.

"Did you get a new gun?" she asked.

"Yes," I answered. "Did you call… the woman, and let her know I was coming like planned?"

She nodded. "Like I always do every time," she said. "Just like how I'm the one who always sets up the assignments, and how I'm always the one sitting here while all of you go out there and work. Just like how–"

"It was just a question, Zef," I interjected.

She cleared her throat, patting her hair down, even though there was nothing wrong with it.

"Sorry," she said. "Got a little carried away there… Just… Just go out and don't get killed."

I was rather flabbergasted how she could say that in the cheeriest and most singsong voice possible, and also slightly bothered by the tone.

"Well," I figured that was the end of our nonexistent conversation, "you ladies have fun. Goodbye."

Neither said anything, for Jenna was back on another call and Zef was simply being Zef. She watched as I left, and I could feel her eyes on me all the way until I was inside my car and driving off back into the city.

In the car I was free to think whatever I pleased.

That almost rant back there Zef had made me think of something I've been thinking about for quite some time, only I wouldn't say a word of it to her in fear she would punish me for mentioning anything.

Zef always calls the assignment beforehand to let them know us agents are coming, as well as she sets up all the assignments for us – even files the folders herself in fear one of us would mess something up. Being the boss, she no longer goes on her own assignments. It's as if the SDT expects the boss to just 'sit around and do nothing but make phone calls.'

All of it makes me wonder if Zef being our boss may be a punishment for something she did when she was a field agent. But, like I said, I'm too afraid to ask her myself to ever know the truth of it all.

I sneezed as I passed another light that turned to green just as I came upon it.

There are too many coincidences in this city already to make that one.

Speaking of the beautiful city I live in…

This city is a filthy place. Worse than rats, cockroaches, or people with needs that don't follow society's, we had an infestation of the paranormal.

So does the rest of the world, but we found ourselves the capital of it all.

They made downtown the worst place to live, and the rich parts of the city a ghost town at night.

Though the civilians don't know what made this city the best and worst place in the world, they know it is better not to suspect.

Dark alleys don't get crossed without a flashlight and Taser. When it rains, everyone makes sure not to get into an accident in fear they'll have something worse happen while they wait for a tow. And, we hardly have any trouble with the police. Even the burglars and thieves know not to mess with the way of the city.

But I do love the city for all its ups and downs, and for all its flaws and imperfections. I guess it could be because I know what is out there and what to expect when I go into a dark corner. It could also be because I never like to think of the faults of this place. If you take away everything caused by fear of what I know as the supernatural, than this city is perfect.

At night it was beautiful with all its lights – even if you couldn't see the stars.

There wasn't an overpopulation problem with humans.

And, the best part, no one has ever messed with my car. That matters to me.

People do die all the time, more than they should. Only, we couldn't stop the deaths that are random, or the ones where an occurrence previous to the death with a supernatural being went unreported. Sometimes we could, but very rarely. Those ones have to be dealt with after the fact, and they're a completely different part of GPS (Global Protection from Supernatural).

Fear is the worst in this city. As previously mentioned, it's fear that mostly has those people hiding. Without fear, however, we'd probably have more deaths on our hands.

Finally another red light appeared, and I happily stopped to wait a while.

The GPS is like the FBI, the CIA, and all other American government agencies; only we deal with the supernatural, as it's clearly stated.

We're also better funded and better paid.

GPS isn't only in America, as it's also stated. It's a global agency that just doesn't bother registering borders and different languages. Demons don't really care about what language the humans are speaking where they live, I'm sure. So, neither do we.

The SDT is only one of the many divisions in GPS, but we're the biggest and – I'm guessing right here – most important.

We're unknown to the public, at least most of it. There's hints put around the world in magazines, television commercials, even billboards, or else we wouldn't have anyone coming to us in need of protection.

The world doesn't really want to know there are really goblins and ghosts out there. They would prefer not knowing, as they have been ever since the first sighting of something un-human thousands of years ago.

It's just their way of life, I guess. I used to be that way myself once, but now that I know, I wouldn't go back to being clueless and blind.

There have been wars against things like vampires before in history, but they've been erased because humanity doesn't want to remember. They all block it out and make sure never to mention it again, and if they have to they simply pretend other humans were involved and not another species of creature entirely.

It's sad, but otherwise I think everyone would go insane. More insane than they already are.

The light turned green and I sped forward, hoping to catch some shut-eye before the big event tonight.

I figured passing out in my pea soup wouldn't exactly be helpful to this woman, now would it?

It hardly felt like a minute had gone by before the buzzer on my cell went off and it was time to go to where the fat lady may sing. Or, more likely, pinch me in the bum yet again.

I put on the tuxedo I had fitted earlier, but did not bother changing out of my sneakers. They were my comfort zone, and were easier to run in if running is required in the evening events. Which, like always, it most likely will be.

My stomach growled as I sped through the streets, trying to reach the building I was designated to go in time. I arrived, parked my car, and raced up the high steps to its large metal doors just in time.

The woman known as… I still cannot bother to remember that woman's name… watched as I huffed to stand by her side. Her arm went out, silently ordering me to link my own with hers. Once I did, we speedily went inside.

She didn't even bother to notice my shoes; she was far too busy racing forward so we would catch up with the rest of the guests to this lovely event.

I was panting and bending over when she handed our invitations over to a man wearing less casual attire than I was. My suit felt tighter in fear I would be the only person in such a garb, until I caught sight of everyone else. Thankfully the man who had taken our little cards that let us pass was the only person here who wasn't dressed in the fanciest of fancy wear.

At least I wasn't the only idiot here tonight. That was something that put a smile on my face, until I nearly lost my right arm as the woman steered us towards one of the many tables. She slammed me down in my seat, causing me to begin to ache on my backside, and then vanished off in the crowd surrounding the buffet. I figured it was best she was gone for now. If she hadn't left at that moment I feared I might have died from her strength and speed.

But she wasn't gone too long. She came back with two plates overflowing with food of all sorts. One of them, I suspected, was for me. Although, she was an awfully big woman, so I wasn't all that sure…

The plates were set down, and she then sat down herself, scooting over too closely beside me. Part of her long nightgown caught under the chair, but she was too busy paying attention to her food and I to notice.

"Eat," she demanded.

I almost told her no, but my stomach agitatedly responded by making angry noises. Something on the top of the mountain that lied on the plate resembled chicken. I took the fork from my place setting and picked at it while my assignment ravaged everything on her own plate.

"Why are we all dressed fancy, yet you have a buffet?"

She eyed me with concern, like what was left of my sanity had left my head during the question. Her expression only lasted as long as her chewing, for once she swallowed, her face was wiped clean and she answered me.

"Last year we got angry about not being able to eat in time. It's best we're fed first, and feed ourselves. Everything else about the event is as fancy as one can get in times like these."

I would have loved to have seen her angry. She must be like the Hulk, minus turning green and changing size.

"What exactly is the event for?" I whispered low, hoping no one could hear the question. Every time I have to ask questions, or when I receive them, I get annoyed. Either annoyed I have to ask the question, or annoyed someone is asking me one. No matter what the question is about, it always ticks me off.

Another of those habits I never learned to drop and don't exactly mind having.

The woman nearly choked on the piece of bread in her mouth. One of the worst sights of attempted laughter possible.

"We're here to honor the city. Every year we come here to honor the city and all its glorious attributes. Sometimes we give an award or two away, but this year we decided to stick to simple speeches."

I grimaced. Speeches. Oh great.

"You look pale," she said. "Is the chicken too spicy? Maybe you should drink some water?"

I gulped down the water, choking it back as it attempted to struggle back out from the gag reflex from hearing speeches.

In high school, when I was stuck listening to kid's discussing what they would do for our school if they were elected student body president, I nearly killed myself. It was agonizing listening to kids who couldn't feel comfortable speaking in front of their peers, or couldn't stand a good distance from the microphone so people could at least hear them mumble properly. I had trouble staying awake too, and if this woman planned on me keeping her alive, than she better hope to the lord up above I don't zone out and collapse from the boredom there is of hearing speeches.

Granted it could just be the person giving the speech, or the topic, but I do believe I would have reacted this same way if I were listening to Abraham Lincoln, even if I did like the man.

I lost my appetite and pushed the plate in the woman's direction, allowing her to eat my food as well as her own. She was pleased by the extra food. I'm sure she's one of those people not allowed a second run around the buffet.

Her eyes rested on my face as I slumped in my chair, wanting the bad guy to come already.

My gun felt heavy in my jacket, like it had a mind of its own and wanted to be used.

I imagined taking it out and placing it down on the table before me. The idea of everyone else noticing it and screaming, rushing away in fear I would start clearing them off one by one was appealing, but I knew Zef would kill me if I did something to jeopardize a mission.

The gun remained in its place, hidden from the people's eyes.

"Johnny," the woman called.

I snapped out of my stupor and wiped my eyes, trying to wake up. Not sleeping really wasn't helping me any.

"Hmm?"

When she stood up and I remained in a sitting position she reminded me of a giant. Her shadow cast over me as she gazed down, implying something without words.

"Speak woman," I demanded.

Why do women think you can read their minds? I mean, seriously? I'm not a gypsy and I'm not a psychic, and I don't have a sign floating above my head stating that I can read your thoughts.

"Dance with me," she demanded right back.

"But I thought…" My eyes moved over the area, and I noticed that the scenery had changed since I last paid attention. Almost everyone was dancing, and no one was saying speeches.

"Did I miss something?" I wondered aloud.

Crap.

The woman's puffy lips curved out and upward, grinning, and then she stole my hand. Her clammy skin made me gag again as I was snatched from my chair, my legs nearly failing as we sped through the room to the dance floor with the majority of people. We passed by the open bar and I made sure to keep my eyes averted. Part of my brain, though, still thought it would be smart to look at all the types of liquor.

Oh look, alcohol! I winced. Don't look. Don't smell it. Don't. Even. Think. About. It.

I ignored the smell of alcohol on other people's breaths, in other people's drinks, at other people's tables, while I also tried not to get killed by the large woman's speed as she pulled me into the middle of the dancing crowd.

Eight years and it was still hard, especially on a mission such as this one where the assignment was getting on my nerves.

One of her hands went to my back, the other taking my hand. Ballroom dancing was easy for me to do, without the worry that all the weird dance moves most dancing these days involves would block my vision as I scanned the perimeter of the room.

Before long we were in rhythm with the music and everyone else, but it didn't last long. The woman's hand lowered down my back, sneaking down until it was right on my butt. She squeezed, sending me in the air from the shock.

I glowered, placing her hand high on my back.

"Don't you dare," I hissed.

She took it as a challenge, smirking.

We resumed dancing, getting back into the swing of things, when her hand slid down my back a second time. This time I was ready, and I shoved her hand up again, giving her the death look I intended to keep hidden tonight.

But I wouldn't have any of this. She was so horrible a woman, with her expressions and her actions. It was nearly unbearable, but I truthfully have been through worse with my assignments.

At least this one wasn't professing her love to me on her knees, crying out my fake name in hopes I would let her kiss me.

I shuddered at the recollection.

While we awkwardly danced as best as we could, when her hand kept roaming down, only to be slapped and moved upward again, someone came up behind me and tapped me on the back.

I cringed, glancing over my shoulder.

An older couple, around the same age as the woman I was dancing with, was slow dancing behind me. They were strangely very jolly.

"You must be Johnny," the woman from the couple said.

"Johnny?" My assignment purposely stepped on my shoe with her heel. "Oh yeah!"

"Did you forget your own name, son?" the man laughed.

The thought of slamming my foot back into my dancing partner's foot was almost too good to resist, but she cut off the possibility when she slowed our dancing down and spoke for me.

"He's usually referred to as Jonathon," she told them. "I'm the only one who calls him Johnny."

"Ah," they said together, nodding.

"Well," the woman said to us, the conversation souring so soon, "I'm Agatha Black, and this is my husband Paul."

She gestured to the man as she said it, both smiling so falsely now. I wanted to excuse myself and leave, but my partner's clench kept me locked to her side.

"You're a lucky boy here, Jonathon," Agatha said. "Laura here is a wonderful woman."

From a side-glance at Laura, I spotted her smirking at me. She loved this significantly.

"I'm sure she is," I sardonically replied. A feigned smile was slapped on my face as the Black couple exchanged a look.

"Now," I quickly took Laura's hand and placed it on my shoulder where it really belonged, "If you'll excuse us, we wish to get back to our dancing." Even in my politest voice I still sounded slightly rude.

We crossed through the floor, as far from the Blacks as possible. To me, however, it still wasn't far enough. As we returned to the waltz I could feel their eyes on us, possibly whispering not so nice things about me. I deserved it, as much as one deserves being talked about and being glared at.

Thankfully my assignment – I forgot her name again – had nothing to say. While we noiselessly danced to music I normally am not used to hearing, she merely gave me looks of challenge.

In the peacefulness of the moment she was daring me about something, but I wasn't sure what.

Yet as she spoke, I was unable to understand the expression.

"You can dance!" Maybe her expression was one of disbelief.

"You're surprised," I noted, as if it mattered.

She winked at me, causing me to lose my footing for a second, out of the disgust from the sight. I'd rather she stomp on my foot again.

"Didn't take you to be a good dancer," she laughed.

Neither have I, even if I've known how to for as long as I could remember. "I've never really learned," I said, "I've just somehow always known."

"Well," her hand was lowering yet again, "you're good."

I cleared my throat, trying to remove her hand. "I'll take that as a compliment. Now stop touching my ass!"

No one in the room turned our way or paid attention as I broke away from the woman, backing away from her thick hands. My stomach was curling at the new twinkle in her eye. Her hands took mine before I could protest, and she then took me back. Her arms created a tight clutch around me.

"You're going nowhere," she ordered. "Dance."

After I rolled my eyes I knew I had no other choice. It was either this or going back to our table where her hand may wander as well. I was doomed everywhere with this woman.

Once we recommenced dancing again my eyes searched the room for anything suspicious. All this time I was occupied with keeping my backside safe I forgot about the reason I was here.

Someone caught my eye on the outer edge of the room. I swiftly looked away and back to my assignment.

"Hey, is that man familiar?"

Dancing made motioning towards to the man difficult.

"Which one?"

My eyes moved over the crowd to find him again. He was watching us back, dressed in a purple tuxedo that made him stand out from the rest of the people.

"The one in purple," I replied.

"He…" Her eyes widened. "That's him!" She stupidly pointed to the man, which she should have known not to do.

I slapped her hand down. "Don't point, you idiot!" I groaned.

Like I knew he would, the man ran off, pushing a few people down in order to get by. His speed was definitely supernatural as he slipped through the back door.

I ran after him as the alarm went off, creating chaos in the room. People shouted, shoved, even screamed as they tried escaping out the front. No one else left through the back, which was a good thing for me.

But then the good and bad had to even out again. As I pushed through the door, I spotted my assignment following me. I huffed sweeping back my hair and continued running. The man was in my sights as I sprinted down the narrow passageway out back, trying to catch up. He always was faster.

I paused, gulping and gasping, raising my gun up. My assignment was still running, blocking my view in the process. She seemed determined to catch him, even though she was slower than I was.

"Stop moving!" I shouted.

The woman froze, but the man kept hurrying away. I had the shot this time, aiming for his leg, and fired my gun. My military days came in handy once in a while, for the bullet pierced the back of his right leg. I grinned, only to be disappointed when he kept scurrying. He was slower, but still faster than I was.

The burly woman started as well, at least trying to be some help.

Out of the corner of my eye I noticed another alleyway, one that twisted in the same direction as this one. Either I resume the cat and mouse game or take a chance and try to cut him off. The choice was easy to me – I liked choosing the harder route most of the time.

I changed my direction and chose the other alley, slipping through the buildings quietly, hoping to catch up to the man in time. While rushing through the back alleys and twisting through the parking lot at the end of them, I could hear my assignment yelling at the man. Only she was speaking words I couldn't understand, like they were a different dialect.

Soon I had them in my sights, however, putting that thought out of my mind. I sped up, getting the notion I might actually be able to cut him off.

My head hurt and my muscles ached. I needed sleep. But, I couldn't stop now.

He was limping when I cut through the cars, miraculously ahead of him like I wanted.

I put a foot out to block him when he had his attention turned away to the woman still shouting behind him. By the time he noticed me it was too late for him to slip past, as he was tripping over my foot. Before he could get away again, I grabbed him, holding onto his purple jacket. It was trimmed with velvet, something that almost made me say, 'I almost wore that tonight. Good thing I didn't, or else we'd be matching.'

His eyes were enlarged when I sneered down at him, but then it was I who was shocked, as he took hold of my neck, laughing as he lifted me up.

My feet were no longer touching the ground, but that wasn't a bad thing. I may have been choking from his superhuman strength, and my feet dangled, but he had a weakness too.

I kicked him in the same leg I had shot him in, watching as he caved, releasing me from his grip. I barely had time to react when he came at me again, growling. His dark eyes had me worried if I touched him I would lose a limb, but I had no other choice. Reaching for my weapon would probably lead to losing my head instead.

As he came at me I grabbed hold of his shoulder and stomach, pushing him up with my upper body strength. He was unexpectedly light as I threw him over my shoulder onto the ground behind me.

His body slammed into the cement, creating a crack. The sound of it echoed like thunder.

I smashed my foot into his chest, pressing my gun to his head.

He didn't move an inch, staring down the barrel of the gun.

There was panting behind me as I took deep breaths myself, and soon the sight of my assignment followed the sound of her breathing. She came right up to the man beneath me and slapped him right across the face.

"Good one." I rolled my eyes at her.

"Wretched woman," the man jeered. His eyes remained focused on me, the color in them so dark they were almost black.

Lauren – that was her name, correct? – bent over and slapped him again. She winced at the effort and I wondered why.

Because my attention briefly moved from the man to Laura, he took the minute opportunity to reach for my gun, teeth exposed.

Without hesitation I shoved my foot deeper into him, which was tricky since he was hard as cement, and pressed my gun's muzzle closer to his temple.

As headlights passed us by, sending light our way momentarily, I spotted differences in him than when all I could depend on was the dark.

He had fangs, and his eyes weren't dark, but black. It all made sense now. The man was a vampire.

I changed the ammo in the gun with the bullets that had human blood inside. That ought to be a treat.

Laura was cowering against one of the parked cars in the lot. Her head was bowed.

"What is he to you anyway?" I asked.

Half the time the assignment knew who or what was after them, and why.

She said nothing at first, not until another car was passing by. Notice no one stops, or calls the police? If someone had called the police, I would have known, since they're only a block away from here.

"My son," she said.

Son? I peered down at him, noticing faint resemblances.

The knowledge of her having a son close to my age, after all the things she tried to do with me tonight, made me queasy.

"How old is he exactly?" I questioned.

The vampire below me, her son, answered for her. "I was born a month ago," he spat.

"They grow up so fast, don't they?" I joked, glaring down at him. His scrutinizing eyes reminded me of caged animals, and the way they look at you at the zoo.

Laura didn't find my remark at all amusing. Her face remained hidden by shadows, but I knew.

Below me, catching my interest again, the vampire hissed something, like a snake.

If Jenna were here she would have probably said, 'Parseltongue is real?'

I teasingly bent closer, but not too close, and offered him my ear. "What was that?" I said.

He tilted his head towards me. "Mother will be pleased to know you're alive and well," he chuckled. The sound was fragile.

"Who?"

Behind me Laura gasped. "That's not good," she commented.

I turned, brow creased. Everyone seemed to know something I didn't. At first, I thought he might have meant her, his banal mother, but evidently not.

"What?"

"She's coming for you," the vampire stated so casually.

My eyes went to him again. "Who is?"

Laura gasped again.

Immediately, without warning and with force, he pushed me off him. The amount of energy in the action sent me flying. I growled under my breath as I got back up onto my feet.

Not getting away from me that easily, I thought, as he started limping and loping off.

I aimed and fired at him a second time tonight, this time at his arm. This bullet sent him in the air, soaring back into a car. I squinted to see what model.

It was my car.

How coincidental could that be?

I inwardly began whining about the shape it was now in, when the vampire brushed pieces of the window off him. He met my stare and snarled.

His two wounds kept him weak only temporarily. His eyes shut as he began willing the bullets out of their holes in his skin. As the bullets slipped out and onto the ground, drops of blood escaping as well, I couldn't help but retch a little.

I reached for another magazine, this time the garlic, holy water, and silver bullets. A vampire's worst nightmare, I assumed.

He came charging at me as I fumbled around with my gun.

"Now it becomes a hassle to use," I muttered, moaning.

He was gaining speed. He was almost to me. His eyes were burning with anger.

My heart was racing as I got the new magazine clip in and lifted the gun up. The vampire was hardly a foot away as I pulled the trigger instantly, sending a bullet straight into his skull.

His shriek probably could have been heard all over the city, for it nearly pierced my eardrums as he bellowed it out. The sound showed his pain, as well as the sight of his veins popping in his head. Each one grotesquely left marks on both our suits before I bothered to give the undead man some room to die.

Aw great. I grumpily patted at myself. Another ruined suit Goodwill won't take.

They've been known not to accept suits with paranormal stains on them from me. Part of my closet is filled with sad rejects.

Eventually, after some more painful wails, the vampire collapsed to the cement in death. His eyes were open and staring at me as I placed my gun back underneath my tainted jacket.

Laura came up behind me in disbelief, eyes swelling from tears. "Why did you shoot him?" she howled.

"He was going to kill me." I've killed before. It's not that big of a deal, if it's a matter of life or death. Not to me, that is.

She scoffed at me, holding her face with her hands. "I guess that makes it all right," she snarkily said in return.

I rolled my eyes for the third time this evening and picked up her dead vampire son. My back was turned to her, and I left her behind, carrying him over my shoulder.

Granted his death allowed her to be sad, to be angry, to say nasty things at me, but in her file it had no mention of a child – and no one at the ball (or whatever it was called) mentioned him. It was clear that her high status in society made her hide him away in a dark corner, which seemed to piss him off. I wouldn't doubt she pretended he was dead long before he really was.

"Where are you going?" she queried.

I hated questions. They only remind me how much people either don't pay attention to or don't want to pay attention to.

"Home."

"We're not done here."

What gave her that impression?

"Yes we are," I retorted. "Guy is dead. I'll see you never."

"I hope Mother gets you!"

I didn't bother to ask who that was and what made her so frightening.

"Whaaatever…"

Back to the car I went, to drive to the office and have this man's body burned. It's best to burn a vampire's corpse. Otherwise someone might bring him or her back from the dead again.


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