It was this time of night when Shane really enjoyed being in the lounge. It was easily four in the morning. A few people sat scattered here and there, mostly older single men still nursing that last after dinner drink. The band was beginning to feel the lag in their energy and had reverted to playing folk guitar ballads.
Shane sat on the edge of the stage, bouncing her heel against the side in time with the thought provoking rhythms. Her elbow dug into her knee, heavy from the weight of her head resting in her hand. She was tired, but also restless. Her shift was technically over, but the thought of returning to that dark, empty apartment—even just to sleep—was just not appealing.
"I thought you would be long gone by now."
She looked up to see that Kiyoshi had come to stand in front of her. Her still wore the black half-apron from the bar, a dirtied white towel hanging from his back pocket. He wore a button down shirt of a deep purple silk and simple black slacks, his normal attire for work. She couldn't help but think that he looked pretty damn good in it. She also couldn't help to think that this was her husband. They may not be together, but they were married and god damn it she could look if she wanted to.
"I'm thinkin' still," she replied casually. She leaned back against her palms that were laid flat against the stage. The pressure from her weight allowed her to feel the crevices forming in the overworked wood.
Kiyoshi gave a slight shrug of his shoulders before he stuck his hands in his pockets. "Be careful." For a moment his eyes caught hers and then he moved away, heading backstage.
Shane sighed, that lingering feeling flopping around in her stomach as she watched him walk away from her. She mentally scolded herself and then hopped off the stage, landing on her feet and making her way backstage as well.
A few moments later and she was shuffling up the back alley, her simple back messenger back slung over her shoulders. Her hands were buried deep into her jacket pockets and she hunched over, watching the pavement rather than ahead of her.
The bluish-green lamp lights bathed the street and surrounding block in an eerie light. Shane walked along an empty sidewalk, hunched into her jacket and puttering along at a slow, thoughtful pace. She kicked a pebble along with her for a block, and then stood at the center of the normally bustling marketplace. She stood in the midst of the large circular courtyard and looked around. She liked Cadylon's Circle when it was like this—completely silent and empty of the hawking vendors and scurrying customers. In the streets surrounding the market were the bars and pubs, which would be running all night long. She could barely hear the thundering of bass and echoes of laughter, but it was far off to her ears. Then the wind picked up and blew into her face, taking with it the sound of the clubs and bringing familiar scent.
Shane could never describe accurately what it was like to recognize someone by their blood. Her nose became alert, her sense of smell suddenly heightening bringing with it a rise in adrenaline. Her blood ran hot, fearing up for the chase. These were the normal reactions for a vampire's aroused blood sense, but there would be no chase tonight. She knew who's blood this was—it was different from others; it had a tang to it that couldn't be compared to any other smell.
She moved toward the source of the scent, the wafts she caught led her to an alley on the east side of Cadylon's Circle. It was so narrow that two people couldn't have waked side by side down it—maybe chest by chest. It was filled with trash torn from their black bags and the close brick walls were covered in graffiti. She peered down it to the concrete wall that made it a dead end.
At first she didn't see anyone, but the scent definitely originated from here and had not moved; she was quite sure of that. She stepped into the alley and looked around—she refrained from inhaling too deeply or the smell of the rotting trash would surely gag her.
It wasn't until she was halfway down the short alleyway did she see him: He was slumped up against the brick wall, his head leaning forward far enough that his chin rested on his chest. His blond, uneven hair was tangled and matted with mud and blood. His once white shirt was also ruined by the same substances, in addition to large rips. His dark jeans was the only article seemingly untouched, but once she had dropped to her knees next to him she could tell that the fabric was also soaked with blood.
"Vael!" she gasped in a combination of fear and surprise. She placed her hands on his shoulders and moved him so that he was sitting up straight. He groaned loudly from the movement and then his head lolled back and he hit the wall hard. A syringe fell from his right sleeve pocket.
Shane grabbed it and tossed it down the alley as hard as she could, clenching her teeth in anger. She knew what it was: Heroin. But he was obviously fucked up and needed help, so she resigned herself to yell at him later and grabbed his left arm, dragging it around his shoulders and pulling him up onto his feet. He was just barely consciously, muttering—in a whisper simple sounds—no coherent words. His eyes were open but heavily lidded, his pupils dilated so far that there was no way he could see. He didn't react to being moved except for the occasional moan or grunt of pain .
It took her longer to get back to her apartment than she would have liked, but eventually they were there. She sat Vael on top of her hamper so that he could lean against the wall, which he did while she ran hot water and soaked a wash cloth. She began to gently clean his face, her lips twisted up into a frown.
"What is wrong with you? Heroin? You know how that stuff trips you out," she scolded.
Vael swallowed, with difficulty, a few times before he was finally able to weakly say, "But I won't die." He smirked, but he looked deranged because of how white his already pale skin was normally.
Shane pursed her lips, embarrassed because he spoke the truth but still feeling somehow justified in her reaction, "You don't know that for sure," she reminded him blithely. Then as she cleared the blood gently from his cheek she asked, "What happened?"
Vael laughed, a hearty bark of a sound. "The first thing I remember is waking up in that alley."
Shane sighed. She handed him a dry cloth while she rinsed the other/ Variations of red and brown swirled around in the sink bowl, but soon washed out and was clean again. Vael's body worked the same way—no matter what he did to it or put in it, he always survived without a scratch.
Looking at him you wouldn't think his body could handle the hard drugs and bar fights. He was toweringly tall but lanky; his arms and legs were tightly corded with lean muscles. As he sat on the edge of the bath tub he looked like an Adonis who had fallen from on high.
"This will sting," she warned before touching an alcoholic pad to a cut on his face.
"Ow!" he instantly hissed and jerked away. He glowered at her, but the expression was more akin to an offended house cat. She rolled her eyes, otherwise ignoring him as she continued to treat his wounds. He was mostly bruised with some jagged cuts that probably came from a broken bottle.
"I'm starting to remember what happened," he said after awhile. "Some other guy showed up yelling about something while we were shooting up. I got caught in the ensuing fight."
"What is the point?" Shane asked exasperatedly, knowing she didn't have to clarify what she meant. She hadn't tended to get mad, but he worried her all the time and didn't seem to care.
It was obviously the wrong tone to take because in the next moment Vael cut his eyes fiercely toward her and snipped, "What's the point of a marriage if you don't even date your own husband?" he shot back.
Shane felt her stomach clench with anger and a shout fought to be free. She took a moment to calm down and then grunted at him. "It's not the same." She deemed to ignore his sarcastic snort of laughter.
"There was something I overheard last night…"
"You can actually remember?" She put away her first aid supplies.
"Maybe." He smirked devilishly up at her. "If I were more comfortable…"
Shane rolled her eyes but didn't say anything. She once again pulled his arm over her shoulders and helped him out of her bathroom and to her bed. He immediately made himself right at home, grinning cheekily up at her from the pillow.
Shane sat cross-legged next to him and stared him down. "Spill."