V. 11

Aleysa: You always choose this pub!

Darren: Why change from a classic? I knew the original owner.

Aleysa: Whose bones are now little more than dust. How on earth does that vouch for it now?

Darren: [laughing] It comforts me to know that some good things last. [raises his glass] Cheers!

[they all raise and then drink from their glasses]

Darren: Shame the beer has to be such piss.

Aleysa: Well, not all things can stay the same.

Darren: Of course not. [sets down glass with a slight grimace at the leftover taste] So. What did you want to ask me?

Aleysa: Firstly, I thought you should meet Eric here, as you are one of my dearest friends.

Darren: You're flattering me. Now I'm worried.

[pats his hand reassuringly]

Aleysa: You always were perceptive.

Darren: All right then, cards on the table. What is it?

Aleysa: I'm surprised you haven't already guessed. I've asked to see you so that I can tell you of my intention to retaliate against the den, which has now attacked me twice. [pauses] Now, I obviously don't want to strain relations between our two kinds, especially as we have enjoyed such a period of peace. So really, I should be asking for your permission before I take any action against them.

[Darren interrupts, laughing]

Darren: You never ask permission for anything, Aleysa. And pretending doesn't become you.

Aleysa: Again, so perceptive. [smiles fondly] You are right. I'm not asking, I'm telling you of my intention to kill every last member of that den, and raze their enclave to the ground. But while I may not need your consent, I would very much like your blessing.

[Darren considers her for a minute, before smirking]

Darren: Of course you have it. I've never been able to deny you anything you ask of me. You know that I spoke to the leaders of that den after the first attack. I warned them of the possible reprisals they would face should they make another attempt on your life. And yet they didn't listen to me. [sips his beer] They are as much a liability to me as they are a danger to you. And I am sorry, again, that it has come to this.

Aleysa: [smiling at him] Thank you. But you really did all that you could. [sips her own beer] So you don't expect any backlash from within your community then?

Darren: I would be very surprised if there was. Apart from this upstart den, none of us want to stir up trouble with the vampires. It seems at long last everyone has realized what you and I have known for centuries-that us immortals are much better off as friends than as enemies.

Aleysa: Yes, it was rather odd to be killing lycans again, I must admit.

Darren: Oh, some base part of you enjoyed it still. Just like you cannot wait to destroy these punks. Our kinds naturally butt heads. I'd be surprised if you didn't get some deeper pleasure from killing us than from when you kill humans. I know that's how I felt when I killed your kind in the past.

Aleysa: To be fair, I don't think either of us have ever dispatched of an immortal without good cause.

Darren: True. Valiant to the very end…aren't we a pair?

[raises her glass in a mock salute]

Darren: No, you have my permission, blessing, whatever you need or want from me on this endeavor. I'd offer to come along and see the job done, but I know how your coven feels about me.

Aleysa: You would be more than welcome if you wished to join, you know that.

Darren: Yes, yes. But somehow I get the feeling that you are going to have some fun with them, and while I'm not against that, I don't really need to watch it. I've seen you in action once, and that was quite enough, thank you.

[the two share a knowing look]

Aleysa: You can't deny that you had fun with that too.

Darren: [turning his attention to their forgotten table partner] Erik, let me tell you something about your mistress here. Do not ever cross her. For to say she gets even doesn't begin to cover what she will do.

Erik: [uncomfortable] Alright.

Aleysa: [placing a reassuring hand on his arm] Don't worry, Erik. It takes quite a lot to truly set me off. Like opening fire on me in public, where innocent humans can easily be hurt.

[Darren winces]

Darren: Ah, yes. I'd almost forgot. [takes out a case, sets on the table in front of Aleysa]

Aleysa: You shouldn't have!

Darren: No, I should have, much sooner it seems.

[Aleysa looks at him coldly]

Aleysa: That better not be what I think it is.

Darren: Look, after this last attack, I was hoping you would finally be more realistic, and-

Aleysa: See, and here I was hoping that you would respect my wishes.

Darren: I'm just concerned about your safety.

Aleysa: Darren, I just survived being attacked by five dogs that were each armed. I not only lived, but also killed every last one of them-without using their own guns to do it. Clearly, I'm fine.

Darren: I don't see why you won't-

Aleysa: And I don't see why you won't accept the fact that I will not carry or use a gun. That is my rule, one that I will only break in cases of extreme duress. And now is not one of those times. [pushes the case back to Darren] I know you don't agree with it, but it is my decision. One, which I am getting tired of defending.

Darren: I wasn't trying to offend you.

Aleysa: Well, you did. I know that you are just concerned, but this is getting ridiculous.

Darren: I'm just worried that maybe you are too stuck in the past. You haven't been here the last twenty-two years. Quite a lot has changed.

Aleysa: I know. I was a human for them. I witnessed firsthand of the damage guns do, and am therefore further resolved not to use them.

Darren: But don't you think-

Aleysa: This conversation is over, Darren.

[stands to leave]

Darren: What about the boy here? Is he bound by the same strictures?

[Aleysa looks Erik in the eyes]

Aleysa: He's a big boy, and can make his own decisions. But I won't be a part of them. [looks back at Darren] You will see that he gets himself home alright? He doesn't quite have the ability to travel on his own yet.

Darren: Of course.

Aleysa: Thank you. I will let you know how things go.

Darren: I will look forward to it.

Aleysa: [to Erik] I will be in the library most likely when you return, should you wish to find me.

[Aleysa leaves]