Who would do this? Who would do this?

The question kept rolling around in my head, beating at the base of my skull like a heartbeat, a low, incessant throbbing in my subconscious, and part of me liked it that way. It reminded me of what it was like to really have a heart beating in my chest, to really have something to think about, to feel about.

I was alone in an alleyway, rain pelting my face, and as I slowly made my way through the dark, stormy night to my dive-bar destination, I caught myself tapping my short fingernails along the brick wall to my right, following the rhythm of my mental heartbeat. Who would do this? Who would do this?

My mind weaved unholy stories, and as if in a fever dream, I vaguely followed along in flashes of red, bright red, and screams.

You've done this. You've done this. The rhythm had changed, and I stopped dead in the middle of the alley, tilting my head back and struggling to feel the cold pinpricks of the rain against my cheeks as I closed my eyes, gritted my teeth, and screamed inside.

You want to do it again. You want to do it again. I dug my nails into the rough brick, scraping the skin off of the tips of my fingers with the sheer strength of fury, but the physical pain couldn't break through the agony of the drumbeat in my head.

The heart was gone. There was only the drum.

You've done it all before. You say you're good, but are you good? Are you capable of remaining good?

And then, all at once, there was only the rainbeat, the cold patter of it against my nose and lips and forehead — and the overwhelming emptiness, the silence, the nothing.

Letting out a small hum of contentment, I leveled my head, opened my eyes to see the gray that surrounded me, and began to walk forward again. I needed to feed — and soon. I didn't like how I talked to me when I was running low.

As I came around the corner, the low heels of my boots silent against the concrete even as I danced around cracks and impossible ledges created by years upon years of time, a gust of wind caught my hair in a thick fist and sent it whipping wildly into my face, blinding me and setting my skin tingling with small pinpricks of cold, dull pain. My hair was soaked, my T-shirt and jeans were soaked, my soul was soaked - why not add to all those comforts with a nice, unbecomingly crisp pre-fall wind?

Man, I was lucky I was dead already or the sudden freezing blast might've killed me.

Thankfully, I needed only take a few steps more beneath flickering street lamps before I found myself at the doorway to my favorite place, my sanctuary, my sad, sad safe haven: Shotzy's Bar and Grille. The 'e' was there just to make it look fancy. As a matter of fact, I was pretty sure the whole 'grille' was tacked on to make it look better than it was, given that the place was very much 'bar' and very little 'grille.'

Shotzy's was just what the name suggested: a great place to do shots. The lilting shelves behind the old wooden bar were piled front to back, top to bottom, with every kind of liquor imaginable - and some of them were even top shelf! Well, two of them were top shelf, and I swore they'd had the same two bottles of Belvedere and Johnnie Walker since I'd started coming here in the late '90's.

'But Venus!' you exclaim. 'You've looked exactly the same since the '90's! How can you possibly still be frequenting the same establishment?'

Well, you see, random citizen, those shots I mentioned above? Almost 100% of the regular patrons of this high-class watering hole did those shots, and those that didn't tended to obliviate themselves with beer, cheap wine, and other assorted alcoholic beverages. In short, no one here has ever been or will ever be sober enough to recall my lily-white ass in enough fine detail to call me out on my eternal youth. Even the staff experienced a high turnover rate due to everything from the discomfort of witnessing frequent bar fights to the boss discovering new and improved! (trademark) drug use in the bathrooms.

Other vampires, even the occasional werewolf or warlock, have taken notice of me, but it's always been brief, fleeting, the sort of attention that begins with a friendly nod and ends with us never speaking or making eye contact with one another ever again.

Except for…well…her.

I perched myself on the torn leather seat of a bar stool at the far end of the dimly lit bar, the perfect spot to keep an eye on the comings and goings through the front entrance and through the rickety door that led to the alley, tucked discretely off to the side of the cozy space. Pulling my phone from my pocket, I almost convinced myself that I would use it, maybe focus on a jaunty scroll through Facebook or a sad skim of the latest Trump drama, but alas, 'twas not meant to be. I'd caught sight of her on the way to my seat, and obsessions were hard to shake when the object of them was standing not ten feet from you.

At first glance, she wasn't anything special. Standard height of maybe 5'5, 5'6, built like a woman who appreciated a good run followed by a piece of chocolate cake (because fuck those impossible diet and beauty standards, amirite?), hair the color of the stiff rum and Coke the bartender slid across the wooden bartop without a word, worn straight down her back in a braid you could tell she'd done herself — you know, typical. Jeans with stylishly ripped knees, blue V-neck with some band's logo on it, shoes, womanly accessories — fuck, I don't know. I was taken, and I could not for the death of me tell you why.

She was playing pool with some guy I'd never seen before, laughing to show off white but slightly crooked teeth, holding herself with impenetrable pride as she bent over the table and lined up a shot. Concentration killed her merry smile as she aimed, and I took a small sip of my drink as I leaned back against the bar and watched, my eyes tracking the slide of her long braid as it made its way up her back and over her shoulder with all the intensity of a cat hunting a bird that haunted its dreams all day and night. She sank the 8 ball, followed the trajectory of her pool stick down, and — made fiery hot eye contact with me.

Her eyes were the most brilliant blue I'd ever seen — or so said my raging libido and desperate desire to connect to another being capable of complex thought.

Connection made — and thoroughly, might I add — she turned to her friend just as I turned to face the bartender. He only half heard me as I said, "Watch this for me." I nudged the drink ever so slightly closer to his side of the bar, and as I slid off of the stool with a creak of aging metal, I added over my shoulder, "Or better yet, don't. I'd love to see what would happen if some dude tried to drug me. Now that would be something to write home about." And with that last blast of sarcastic gusto, I swept into the women's restroom, just behind the seat I'd been occupying. It was a multi-stall, but if anyone else came in here right now, that would be their problem.

Immediately I was assaulted with the myriad smells that were so distinctly 'bar bathroom': urine, the stale smell of failed soap, cheap dish soap passed off as hand soap, blood and lipstick and weed and old sex. But then, just as quickly, the scent of living, breathing, brooding flesh was upon me, and I turned just in time to meet a pair of warm lips as a pair of soft arms wound around me.

"Amazing," I breathed into her open mouth as our tongues twined together, falling headlong into the taste of sweet peppermint cocoa lip balm mixed with the tart, boozy finish of the Amaretto sour she'd been sipping. My hands found her hips, and I guided her backward until she met the graffitied side of the bathroom stall, just barely remembering to keep my dead strength in check so as not to hurt her. I thought I was being perfectly gentle, but the thud of her body meeting the wall and the sudden gasp that sent warm breath cascading across my lips gave me pause.

Concerned, I pulled back just an inch, meeting those bright blues with what I'm sure was a nearly comical look of worry, all big eyes and abject terror on the face of a dead thing that could just barely feel those things. "Did I-?"

But she cut me off, chuckling breathlessly against my lips as she whispered, "Come on. You know me better than that."

Fair enough.

Didn't know her name, though.

Then her lips were against mine once more, her hands firmly gripping my ass and pulling me tight against her with renewed hunger. I met her in kind, a peek of fangs nipping at her lower lip as they made their full appearance, my vampire unbridled, and when another gasp left her, I knew better than to question it this time. The sweet, steely taste of those two tiny droplets of blood brought a sound from me, a deep rumble in my chest that quickly turned into a girlish moan of pleasure, and I wondered why I always did this to myself, denied my body the blood it needed to survive until I reached this point, the point where I would have taken it from her had she decided not to give it freely.

The self-starvation made the taste all that much sweeter when I finally allowed myself to have it, but I knew the risks of irregular feeding — and I knew, more than anything, that I would only end up hating myself all the more for it later.

But later was an impossible, faraway concept to me right now, utterly unfathomable in its depths. Right now, there was only me, only her, only blood.

I could temper my strength but not quite my speed as my fingers worked to deftly unbutton her jeans, dragging the zipper down quickly enough that I had to have broken some sort of world record, and within a second, I had my hand between the denim of her pants and the silk of her panties, my fingers sliding between her legs to outline the shape of her beneath her underwear. She was wet already, dampness soaking through the silk, primarily a response to the pheromones I knew now tinged the air, unbidden, and she spread her legs wider for me, moaning openly as I bent my face to her neck, bared to me as she tilted her head back obligingly.

Finding her clit with my fingers, I began to work in a slow, painfully light circle over her panties, and she shuddered and stifled another moan. Her hands slid up my back and into my hair as my sharp teeth grazed the delicate skin just above her collar bone in another tease, but when she tangled her fingers tightly in my hair and pulled, dragging me harder to her, it was my turn to groan, and without further invitation, I slid my fangs cleanly into her flesh.

Blood immediately began to flood my mouth, and I moaned again, wondering why I ever denied myself this taste, this sensation, this incredible high. I struggled to keep myself in check, resisting the urge to pull from the puncture wounds, hard and fast and intimately destructive, and I distracted myself by focusing on my hand down below. I stopped my careful circular motion and slid my hand beneath her panties now, plunging two fingers into her without warning.

She all but screamed in pleasure, and I began a steady, pulsing rhythm, the palm of my hand rubbing against her clit with each thrust of my fingers. Her hands left my hair as she reached above her to grip the edge of the stall overhead, the movement of her muscles causing more blood to fill my mouth in spite of my slow, methodical draws from her, and it was with Herculean effort that I finally pulled myself away from her neck, nowhere near sated but unwilling to risk her life over it.

"Oh, God. I'm gonna come," she whispered, a stark contrast to the cry that had left her only seconds ago, and I trailed my tongue over my teeth and savored the look of absolute rapture on her face as she tightened and pulsed around my fingers. I didn't slow my pace until she'd gone limp and quiet against the wall of the bathroom stall, her eyes half open and watching me as if through a haze, and I slowly withdrew my fingers from her, sliding them into my mouth and twirling my tongue around each to let the sweet, acidic taste of her mix with the sweetness of her blood that still lingered on my tongue. With my free hand, I masterfully rebuttoned her jeans and dragged the zipper back up.

"How do you always manage to do that so easily?" she asked, her eyes alight now as she watched me savor the taste of her unabashedly, and I wondered how quickly we could move on to round two. I could do this all day.

But instead, I forced my eyes to drop to the pair of small holes in the side of her neck, ever so slowly oozing blood. Thankfully, vampire saliva had a healing component that aided in blood clotting, so she would be in no danger of bleeding out even if she wasn't a healer. For a moment, I only marveled at how well the bright shade of crimson complemented the dusky shade of her skin, how well the scent of her sex blended with the scent of an internal agony only hinted at, but then I finally answered her. "The secret to good lesbian sex can only be found after death," I said cryptically, so serious that she cocked an eyebrow and seemed to take me at my word for a moment, but then she caught on and busted out laughing.

"Oh, is that all it takes? Someone should tell the men," she joked, and then she sighed contentedly and shut her eyes for just a second before opening them again, those baby blues bright and focused as she pushed herself away from the stall and stood straight. "I hate this part," she said under her breath, mostly speaking to herself, and I watched her in the mirror as I turned to the sink beside us and quickly washed my hands, though I knew I'd still smell her on my skin for hours to come. One of the weird perks only a rare few of us obtained when we turned. I could pick up the scent of almost anything long after the source was gone.

Slowly, she healed the bite wounds on her neck, the punctures briefly lit with a near-blinding golden glow before visibly mending shut, leaving her neck looking good as new. She leaned around me as I dried my hands and dampened a couple of paper towels, using them to wipe the small streaks of blood away from her skin. With one last look at her neck in the mirror to make sure all was well, she turned to me with a dazzling smile and half said, half asked, "Until next time?"

"Yeah, next time," I said with a small chuckle, glad she seemed as pleased with the encounter as I was. "Thanks, by the way," I added, offering her my hand for a shake, like this was some sort of business transaction and not a sex-and-blood exchange in a bar bathroom. Realizing the absurdity of it, we both laughed, and she leaned in to press her lips to mine in a slow, chaste, lingering way that hinted at much, much more than a business transaction.

"Any time," she said, still close enough that her chipped aura and all her little cracks and breaks swirled around me, briefly livening up the dull, soulless air that perpetually soaked my presence, and the look in her eyes stayed with me as she flashed me one last smile and swept out of the bathroom like she was ready to face a crowd at a beauty pageant.

That look…

She meant it. Any time.

And I had no idea what that meant for me.

Who even was she?

And why had I never asked?

But my traitorous brain was quick to answer.


And that was that.