notes: I still like this, no matter how many times I read it.
dedication: to more hot tea.

---

I am standing on a cliff.

This happens more often then not, as I contemplate my own immortality. I will not die. I will never die. Not from age, not from sickness… not from anything.

I can be killed, of course. If someone were to take a knife to my ribs, I would die, certainly. But I am, in conventional terms, immortal. In conventional human terms, I am immortal, I might add.

But I am no longer human. I have not been human since August, 1764. And it has been a very, very long time. Many, many years. Over two hundred, in fact, and during every single year, every single one I have wondered what the purpose of my existence is. I was changed that night, changed in ways humans can not even begin to imagine.

It was the most painful night of my existence.

But of course it was painful… drinking immortal blood does that to one's self. I have seen in the minds of certain willing fledglings, that they did not feel the pain of the blood in their veins burning.

But… I suppose it is better this way. My line is not large, and I would prefer killing every one of my own kind rather then dealing with a large, obnoxious family.

Family is not something I want, nor is it something I need. I have grown used to being alone; the solitude gives me time reflect upon the part of my life-, no, not life, existence, that I have lived, so far.

I refuse to use the word 'life', because it implies that I live, that I breathe. But I do not do either of these things. I do not live, and I do not breathe. I do not require oxygen to keep my heart pumping blood through my veins, to keep me alive. My heart does not beat, so it does not pump blood, and so I do not live.

I shake my head of these thoughts, and I stare down at the frothing sea below. The waves break against the sharp cliff face, blue and white on slate gray, and I wonder how many millennia it will take to wear all the rock away.

Erosion is a distinct part of my existence, now.

They are strong forces of nature, the wind and the water and the sunlight. They have the power to destroy, rent, change, rip, tear, sway, and there is nothing in the world that can stop them. Nothing. And those who do not know this, who do not bow to it, they are the ones who will fall the hardest.

They have no sense of time and space, no sense of how very fleeting their world is. They have no sense that they are prey, and that everything they create is quite easily destroyed.

Of course I speak of humans.

Who else is ready to take what they have been given and destroy it as if it were theirs in the first place?

Nothing ever belongs to a human's, not in the first place. As I have said, they have no sense of time, no sense of space, no sense of what belongs and what does not belong.

I, and my kind, do not belong to this world. There is, in fact, a question from whence we first came. Of, course, this is answered easily enough… Jeralie, where else? But then, I must admit, I question where Jeralie came from.

He is a cruel being, Jeralie.

He pretends he means no harm, and perhaps he does not, but in the end, all the things that he loves have an annoying tendency to crumple into dust.

And the things he hates…

The things he hates have an even more annoying tendency to rise out of the dust like worms, born of the ashes of the things he loved. And he does love the things he hates; he can not help it. So, in the end, all things feather to ash.

He is very, very cruel.

But I do not hate Jeralie.

I may think him a disappointment, but I do not hate him. I do not waste my hatred on a creature quite so pitiful as he is. Traven loves. I do not pretend to understand it, but I do not hate his love for all things.

I prefer to waste my hatred on things that deserve it.

The slave trade, for one. I do not like the idea that humans, incompetent as they are, are the ones that are helping control the destruction of this world. Perhaps they do not mean it; in fact, I quite think they detest it almost as much as I do. But the fact remains that they would prefer to be food and doormats to the dregs of my kind, rather then stand up and fight for their race. I have no respect for such creatures.

Of course, this does not always apply to all humans. The hunters, for certain, have my grudging respect. They have it, if only because I am wary of the weapons they wield. Magicked silver does not sit well with those of my disposition. Magicked silver does not sit well with those of my disposition, especially when one is as strong as I.

And I am strong.

Perhaps I am too strong, as I have been told so very many times. I pose a danger to the older ones, the ancient ones, even. I pose them a danger, because of the very simple fact that I refuse to bow down to them. There are many that refuse, because so few of my kind allow themselves to be viewed as prey. We do not allow ourselves to be used.

But I also pose them a danger in my lack of discipline. My… creator… wished to control me. My first action, as a freakish wild child of the darkness, was the ripping of his throat out, and then watching him bleed.

It is a cold memory, but it is a memory I tend to savour. The remembered steady drip-drip-drip of blood reminds me that I have not fed in almost a week, and my throat suddenly feels parched.

I look back out at the rolling sea, so very, very angry, and then I am gone.

---

I do not regret much.

This is a state of my kind. We do not regret. We do not regret because there is so very little that annoys us. Time wipes away all things, except us. We do not fade.

We do not die.

But, I'm sure I've spoken of this fact. It is true. We do not die. I will not die, not until someone decides that I am too dangerous to continue living. I feel it, sometimes, that someone wishes me ill.

I do not regret destroying this human girl's life. Of course I do not.

I feel disgusted with myself, and very gently drop her body to the ground. I'm on unclaimed land, and this girl simply happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I've come to accept what I am, what I require to continue existing, but it does not mean that I am not disgusted by it. I snarl, and then I am gone once again.

---

I look down at the dance pit, and I wrinkle my nose.

This place disgusts me more then anything, I suppose. Except the slave pits. There is nothing that disgusts me more then the slave pits. But as I look down I clench my fingers around the wood barrier, and I stare down at the humans and shape-shifters and the very few Were Folk that are among the writhing crowd, I know that by the end of this night, many of these frivolous children will become either food, or they will become part of the slave trade that I despise so very much. I think that perhaps I ought to save them now, by burning this place to the ground.

But I will not. It is not my place to save those who do not wish to be saved.

I am not a saviour.

The door clicks open, and I immediately tense. There is someone coming into the overlooking room that has always been, and always will be, mine. I do not move, do not turn around, but I continue leaning against the railing.

If I moved, it would show that I am weak.

I am not weak.

The person is male, and his aura is as shadowed as my own. I do not acknowledge his existence until he is leaning against the railing with me, his ink-dark hair brushing my shoulder.

"Hello, little one," he says, and I do not answer.

I have hated him for far too long to answer him when he speaks to me. If he wants my attention, he is going to work for it.

His fingers brush my arm, feather-light, but I jerk back, like I'd just been burned.

"Do not touch me," I murmur back, my voice sugar-sweet and slow, and he chuckles hotly into my ear. He has my attention now, and he knows it. He threads his fingers through my red-and-black-and-purple hair, strands curling around his fingers, but he does not touch my skin; he knows I will rip him to shreds if he touches my skin without my permission again this night.

"Did you miss me?" he asks, and I roll my eyes.

"Do I ever miss you?" I ask in response, and he smiles, his fangs curving over his lower lip.

I am momentarily distracted as I stare at his fangs in fascination. They are sharp and dangerous, but they remind me of safety. He has always reminded me of safety. This is a disgusting thought, but it is the truth.

He continues to smile down at me as he says "You always miss me, little one."

"I do not," I say, and I jerk my hair out of the grip he has on the red-and-black-and-purple mass. I do not want him touching me, any part of me.

"You do," he contradicts, and I snarl at him.

How dare he tell me what I feel? He does not understand.

"Get out," I say, my voice a low, angry growl. I will not be treated like a petulant child. He may be older then I, but he is not my superior. He is my blood brother, changed by the same creator, but he did not hate the man I was told to call 'father' as I did.

I know that he is smiling. He always smiles, when I am near. We are nothing alike, he and I, not look-wise, and certainly not personality-wide.

His fingers thread through my hair again, and I feel the urge to destroy him. But I do not act upon it. I am not that childish. I have lived a very long time, but my decisions are, even now, usually fairly rash.

But I am in no mood to kill tonight.

Nor do I feel like moving. It would show me to be weak, and I am not weak. Instead, I smile up at him coldly, my gaze like ice. "You do want to live, Traven, correct?"

"Of course I would like to live, little one. But you will not kill me. You be be far too bored if you were to kill me."

I roll my eyes, and pretend to myself that he is lying. That is what Traven does. He lies. It is a very annoying habit, or so I've found.

He also often feels the need to get in my personal space. I do not appreciate this fact, especially now that his arms are locking me against the railing, and his chin is almost resting on my bare shoulder.

But it will not, because he knows what will happen is he 'accidentally' touches my skin.

"Look at them, little one, down there. Prey, all of them. They come here to feel free and powerful, but they are all simply prey, in the end."

"Did I not say to leave?" I ask him, purposely ignoring his comment. If he feels the need to explain it, he will, but if he does not let me go soon, I may just have to disembowel him.

His voice is amused when he next speaks. I can hear the smile on his lips. "You don't pay attention, do you?"

"Not to you. You are annoying."

He voice drops to a heated whisper, and I momentarily hate him more then usual. "The slave trade is coming tonight, little one. They've been told not to take our kind, but any in that dance pit are free game. Don't you want to save them?"

I do not struggle to keep my voice cold. It comes naturally to me, now.

"No," I say, my voice final. "I do not want to save them."

And then I am ash and smoke, and gone from the dimly-lit room.