A/N: So, last night, at around 3:30AM, I hit the 50,000 word mark for my NaNoWriMo novel. After finishing it JUST in time last year, it felt like a major achievement for me to finish it with two days left this year - granted, the actual story isn't finished, nowhere near to being finished, but the important thing is, I beat my personal best. And here is the result - I don't know if I'm going to keep the title 'Fallen Leaves', so any verdict on that would be great. I do have to dedicate this, but mainly this chapter, to my housemate Ben, who gave me permission to use some of his jokes here. Without him, or without him dragging me to his gigs, Scott, as a character, would never have been born. So yeah, here it is, enjoy and as always, would be great to know what you think of it. Thanks.
Crimson could never decide whether she loved her job or hated it. Morally, she was conflicted. After all, you couldn't kill your own kind and come out feeling like you were the best person in the world. On the other hand, she knew that if she didn't do what she had been trained to do, it would have meant the lives of humans would be needlessly lost.
"Crim, you there?"
She rolled her eyes as the voice buzzed in her ear. Tapping the device, nestled comfortably in her earlobe, she replied, "I'm here, you found him yet?"
"Almost. Just need a few more minutes. Where are you?"
"Right where I said I'd be," she snapped, mentally adding arsehole onto the end. Crimson had a very rocky relationship with Cliff, the tech expert at the agency. No one could have expected those two to just get along with each other; after all, their kinds had been fighting each other for years.
"So what's the plan, batman?" Crimson muttered, inching forward slowly until she was standing at the edge of the rooftop, gazing down towards the street below. Cars crawled past her, coming in and out of view under the scattered streetlights. In the distance, she could see their taillights as they moved away, eventually disappearing altogether out of view.
Crimson really wanted the night, and the job, to be over.
Her body ached, crying out for sleep. Her stomach was empty, and the only energy she was running on were from the caffeine tablets she'd taken hours ago. Even they were now starting to wear off. She flexed her toes, buried deep in the black boots she was wearing, and waited for her next instructions.
"Easy. I find the twat and you do what you do best, Crimson."
God, he sounded way too happy. Then again, she thought, it wasn't like Cliff exactly had much to do. All he did was sit at his high-tech computer, contact the agents and pass on instructions. He, unlike Crimson, wasn't out on the field, doing all the dirty work.
She sighed, kneeling down, balancing against the edge of the roof.
"Well, hurry and find him," she hissed. "I'm getting bored up here, Cliff."
"Patience, Crimson. Didn't your mother ever tell you it was a virtue?"
She rolled her eyes, scratching at the back of her neck. "She would have, I suppose," she mumbled, "if she hadn't died, Cliff."
"Oh, shit yeah, sorry, Crimson."
"Forget it." Crimson bent forward, until her top half was dangling over the edge of the roof. "Any word from Cobalt?"
"Sure," he muttered. She listened to the click-clack of the keyboard, the sound of a master at his work. "He thinks he's close to the dickhead. Said he can smell him."
"Right," she sighed. "OK, good. Well, let's hope he's close."
"Hang on..." More typing, this time it was harder, faster and she knew something was going to happen. "OK, Cobalt's tracked him. The Comedy Club downtown, you know where that is?"
"Got it!" she cried, moving back quickly from the edge of the roof. She slid off her jacket, placing it carefully on the floor, and then, suddenly, there was nothing left on the roof except a pile of clothes and a dark red fathered bird flying off into the sky.
- - -
Scott leant against the wall, sipping uneasily at the pint in his hand. Mentally, he told himself to stop shaking, to calm down. It won't be as bad as last time, he told himself. I'm not going to fuck up, again.
His fingers drummed against the wall, as he ran through the material in his head. On his chin, he could feel the tell-tale signs of a spot appearing, that ache that foretold the arrival of a large red mark. Sometimes, he really did wish he was a girl; at least then he could cover it up with make-up.
The voice of the compare drifted out to where Scott was waiting, and he placed his pint down before straightening his shirt and stepping out onto the small stage in the top room of the pub.
He waited for the polite clapping to die down before he yanked the microphone out of its stand and held it close to his mouth.
Scott forced himself to smile. He needed to smile. Confidence, Scott. You need bloody confidence!
"There's one thing I can tell instantly about this audience," he began, wrapping his free hand around the microphone stand. "You're all noobs."
Someone chuckled near the back, but other than that he was met by a sea of blank faces and expressions of despair.
OK, so he needed to change the opening.
"Is anyone here a fan of Twilight?" he asked, fingers drumming on the stand.
A few cheers greeted him, scattered throughout the room.
"I don't like any of you."
A few more laughs there, and he felt himself relax. Slightly.
"My ex-girlfriend took me to see Twilight," he carried on. "She was obsessed with it. She even got me to put in fangs and 'glitter' up." A few more chuckles, but still not enough. They hate me. "It was a little weird for me, but I wanted to please her, you know? So, one night I decided to take the whole Twilight idea to the next level. Yeah. She dumped me after she caught me watching her sleep."
Dreaded, thick silence.
Bollocks, bollocks and double bollocks.
"I don't think I'd know what to do, if I ever saw a vampire."
Well, at least I don't have any hecklers. Yet.
"Probably ask for sex tips, because if all of that True Blood and Twilight lark is anything to go by, these vampires are getting laid every night! I didn't realise there were so many necrophiliacs in the world."
That got a few more laughs. He let out a breath that he hadn't realised he was holding in, before allowing himself to freely smile at the audience. "So, anyone here get bullied at school?"
A few mumbles in the crowd, and he nodded slowly.
"Right, so, when I was a kid I got bullied by this one fat kid. He was huge. Not the type you can just punch and expect to leave you alone, right? Well, anyway, what happened was, he..." Pause. Think Scott, think. What made him stop? His heart drummed in his chest – the nerves felt worse than they had before and he found himself staring straight at one of the crowd.
The man had come in late, slipping in as Scott had gone on stage. He'd managed to, somehow, get a seat right in the middle, and there was something about him, something Scott couldn't put his finger on, that scared him. His eyes shone in the darkness; it wasn't right. Up here, with the cheap lighting shining on him, he wasn't supposed to be able to see the crowd.
"He spread this rumour 'round, right?"
The eyes. They weren't natural.
"That he'd caught me masturbating in the toilets during lunch time, which was complete bollocks..."
Focus, Scott. Focus.
He couldn't. He didn't like those eyes. Even with every set of eyes in the place fixed on him, it was those ones that made him tremble. He wanted the man to look away. He wanted him to leave.
At the back, he could just make out a few shapes standing up, moving towards the bar.
"It was complete bollocks, right, because, well, when do I ever caught?"
A couple of laughs, not many, but Scott wasn't worried about that. He was worried about the man. The man who had finally looked away from him but was now staring at the door, looking at it like something was about to happen.
"One of my first memories of bowling..."
The door at the back burst open and a tall man crashed in. The other guy, the one with the eyes, leapt up from his seat and scrambled for the stage.
Scott didn't know what to do, or say. His mind went blank.
"My first memory of...of...of..."
Bowling ball. Dropped on my brother's toe. Him winning. Shit. Shit. Say something shithead!
The man crashed into him, pushing him to the floor and Scott felt the microphone roll out of his hand, heard the thump, magnified, as it dropped off the stage. Screams from the crowd; the largest reaction he'd had all night. Scott let out a cry as he tried to push the man off him.
His eyes widened, his heart thumped even louder when he realised it was no longer a man leaning over him.
Instead, he felt large drops of saliva fall onto his face from the muzzle of the light coloured coyote that crouched over his body, pinning him down.
Scott barely heard the gun shot as it was fired; all he could hear was the coyote's heavy breathing.
The eyes were still the same that had unnerved him as he'd looked at the crowd.
"Get off him, dickhead!"
The coyote turned its head, and Scott tried, in vain, to twist his body away from the beast. He heard it growl; felt its body shiver slightly as the sound came out of it. Another gunshot, more screams, and then Scott heard the clattering of feet as the man yelled for people to move, to get out.
But he couldn't move!
Scott tried to scream, but the creature was on his chest, crushing it, too heavy. He was struggling to breathe.
Scott whimpered, wondering if this was how he was going to die. Least I'm on stage...
Suddenly, the coyote's paws dug into his stomach and Scott let out a cry before it leapt off him, moving to the back of the stage. Scott sat bolt upright, and found himself staring at a husky.
"Oh," he muttered. "Fuck."
But, it seemed, the husky wasn't after him. It jumped onto the stage, moving past him, and leapt towards the coyote. It had taken Scott a few seconds to realise that there was something very odd about the husky – its fur wasn't grey and white like most huskies. Instead, the grey was more of a dark, coppery red.
Behind him, he could hear growling, whimpering, barking. The sounds of a canines fighting.
His head jerked to look at the man who had crashed into the room. The man was holding a hand out to him, and Scott took it, allowing himself to be yanked up.
"Go!" The man snapped, and Scott gave him a curt nod before darting off. He paused, halfway down the room, turning to the man.
"Err...sorry...what the fuck is.."
"Go!" The man snapped, and underlying the word Scott heard a hiss. He stumbled back, realising it was the second odd pair of eyes he'd seen all night; this man had piercing, bright blue eyes, unnaturally bright. "For the love of...kid, I said go! Get the hell out of here!"
His lips curled back slightly, an involuntary action, and Scott spotted a set of pearly white fangs.
"Right. Go. Yes."
He turned, running out of the room and bounding down the stairs.