Disclaimer: Violence/bloodshed/gore, psychedelic crisis (a bad trip), Saith. Definitely dipping into the ‘horror’ element here, folks.
He would never admit it, but the sheer effort of holding himself together after that final lie, followed by an attempt to mist both himself and Faith, had pushed Seth to the absolute limit of his power. He knew from the very second she took his hands that he couldn’t make it as far as the grotto, possibly not even as far as the island, and he didn’t think his finicky, fleeing fledgling would appreciate them materialising in the sea.
He chose a trajectory inland and hoped for the best.
“Why are we in the toilets at The Caboose?”
Trust her to recognise which bar she was in by the restroom alone.
She had claimed that she had been a regular here in her pre-vampire days, but no one had recognised Faith in the time they’d been lurking in a quiet corner of the bar, watching the patrons as they came and left. Faith claimed that she was looking for a specifically-styled human to target, but it was obvious to Seth that she was attempting to delay the inevitable.
“Select someone in the next ten minutes or I choose the man in the cardigan,” he threatened.
“You’re not going out with me dressed in a fucking elbow patch cardigan.” Faith pouted and glanced around the bar, her eyes falling on a fellow who had just entered.
Seth could’ve sworn Faith purred as she surveyed this man. She turned back and nodded. “Him. The guy in the hat.”
Seth quickly scanned the individual in question. Thirty-two, dock worker, currently unattached although he was here hoping to change that.
Not an ideal choice for Faith, though, however much she was salivating at the thought of her impending seduction.
“Hm,” Seth mused. “I’m not sure he’s quite what you’re looking for—”
“He’s perfect,” she growled, licking her teeth as Seth grimaced. “I want him. I hope he can keep his hands off me, not that I’d stop him if he couldn’t. I’m gasping over here.”
Seth rolled his eyes and tried not to lose his cool at her smug face. If she wanted this one, fine. She could have this one.
“Very well,” he murmured. “Follow me.”
They both rose from the table and Seth guided Faith towards the exit. She glanced back at her behatted quarry; confusion written all over her face.
“Where are we going? Should I use my allure on him?”
“We’re leaving,” he replied bluntly. “And no, not this time.”
“Aww, Seth. You are so cute when you’re all jealous,” Faith teased as she sashayed out of the bar and across the empty dock behind him. “OK, you’ve made your point; no sex with the prey. Are you really just leaving him there?”
“No,” Seth answered, motioning to a gate that led to the rear of an aggregate yard. “After you.”
“This is secluded.” Faith peered inside, her face lighting up. “I understand,” she purred as she entered through the gate, throwing him an exaggerated wink. “A quickie to get it out of my system then back to the hunt, yes?”
Seth sighed and gestured for her to turn around.
“From behind? You dirty man; I’m gonna wind you up more often,” she grinned, pivoting slowly on the spot as requested and hitching up her skirt. “Holy shit!” she hissed, hastily tugging it back down. “What the fuck is he doing here?!”
The hatted human did a double-take, held up his hands and began to back away through the gate he’d wandered through.
“Blimey, sorry!” he said. “I think I was on autopilot. I swear, I’m not some Peeping Tom. I’m actually on a date myself—”
“What happened?” Faith asked looking at the human man who had fallen still and silent but was still standing, somehow.
“I happened,” Seth replied abruptly, shoving her forwards. “You first.”
Faith stumbled as he pushed her and smiled to herself. “Wow, you really can’t deal with this, can you? Me using my allure on another man? Can’t say I blame you; he is gorgeous and aww, look, he follows me, too! If he tastes good I might trade you in, Little Doggy.”
Seth sighed in a laboured fashion, but there was a definite streak of amusement hidden within it. “It’s not your allure at work, Fledgling. Not for Kevin here. Allure doesn’t create attraction; it only amplifies it.”
Faith faltered but quickly regained her mask. “Are you saying that he’s not attracted to me? Because he definitely is.”
“He’s definitely not,” Seth laughed. “He’s quite attracted to me, though.”
Faith’s jaw dropped. “What? He’s gay? And you didn’t think to tell me?!”
“I tried to tell you at the bar but you were so adamant not to listen, to rub my face in it. Perhaps there’s a lesson in there somewhere, Fledgling.”
“Well, you’ve ruined him for me now. I don’t want him if he’s not—” she bit her lip, silencing herself, but he still heard the end of her sentence. Responsive.
“Ah,” Seth mused. “By all means, try giving him one of your award-worthy hand jobs. But maybe, just maybe, this might work.” He waved his hand and Kevin’s heart rate elevated. Faith watched in amazement as the previously calm human began to sweat and tremble for seemingly no reason.
Seth swept a loose strand of Faith’s hair behind her ear and pulled her close. “Better?” he asked.
“What is this?” Faith uttered, unable to tear her eyes away from the still but shivering man. “What did you do? Is he having a seizure?”
“No. I reminded him of a few things,” Seth said with an eerie calm. “Go ahead, Faith. We don’t have all night if we want to go and play at the arcade,” he scoffed.
Faith remained in place, making no effort to take a drink from the prey she had previously been so willing to sample. “Whatever you did, can you undo it?” she asked, in a small voice. “Can you mesmerise him again?”
“I can,” Seth murmured. “But tell me why I should.”
Faith gritted her teeth. Because he… just do it. Please.
“That’s not an explanation,” Seth said, a dangerous undercurrent creeping into his voice. “Enlighten me; what’s running through that perplexed, pretty little head of yours? You wanted an emotional reaction, yes? I have delivered.”
But this is… he’s scared.
Seth let out a short, cruel laugh. “He’s terrified. Trapped in a perpetual cycle of his own worst nightmares, in fact.”
“Holy fuck!” Faith gasped. “Why would you do that?! I can’t drink from him when he’s like this! It’s cruel!”
“It is terribly cruel,” Seth agreed. “And yet… that appeals to you, doesn’t it?”
Her pause was ever-so-slightly too long. He knew the answer and knew she wouldn’t say it. As expected, she shook her head vigorously, clearing her head of the first whispers of her thoughts.
“No,” she insisted. “It doesn’t. Do you always do this when you hunt? Scare your prey?”
“Most times, yes. I’ll make them think they’re being pursued, throw in a few jump scares perhaps but I do like this; the paralysing, overwhelming sense of hopelessness as he tries to fight the hold.”
“You fucking monster,” Faith spat. “It’s not bad enough that you have to kill them, you have to scare them half to death first?! He’s about to shit himself and — fucking hell, Seth. You like this?!” she hissed at him as he nuzzled against her and nibbled her ear.
He answered with an affirmative growl; her outrage ebbed as his thumb glided under the hem of her top.
“Oh my god; you like this,” she whispered.
We all have our vices, Faith; our predator instincts. You can pretend that you don’t and fight them, like Lilith, or you can admit that you do and embrace them.
Faith fell silent, contemplating, allowing herself to enjoy the deceptively tender touch of Seth’s gloved fingers on her bare skin. He began, once again, to receive her unconscious stream of thought as she shifted her focus from the man twitching before her, to the man standing behind her and finally, to herself.
“OK,” she said quietly, twisting the heel of her boot into the ground, anxiously. “I can’t believe I’m actually going to say this, but then I don’t want to be anything like Lilith, so… I do like it. But I’m not… when I drink, I don’t…” she sighed in a frustrated fashion, restructuring her thoughts. “They’re afraid, once they realise what I’m doing to them,” she admitted quietly. “But they never get this scared. This is… without the allure… it’s…”
“Too much,” Seth murmured against Faith’s neck. She nodded. He broke contact with her only long enough to give a new command to their tattooed prey.
“There, just for you,” he purred. “I have dialled back on the nightmares and let him run wild with a few of his filthiest fantasies. That should replicate your usual hunting scenario.”
Kevin dropped to the dusty ground with a breathless sigh.
“What’s he doing?” Faith asked, startled.
“Appears that he likes being on his knees,” Seth laughed. “And, hey, you like a man on his knees, right? Perfect match. Except for your gender, but I’ve clouded that for him.”
“What the actual fuck—“
“Ah, you only like it when I’m on my knees before you? How fussy,” Seth joked. “Still, I suppose it would be difficult to drink from him like that. Back to your feet, Kevin; come here, good human. Oh now, well look at that. His date would’ve been in for quite the ride tonight.”
“His date,” Faith muttered. “This is wrong. This whole thing is just so wrong.”
“Oh? Shall we try more lust? Less? Or shall we go back to deepest fear?”
“No,” Faith insisted, grabbing Seth’s hand before he could meddle anymore. “This is fine. I just need a minute. To think.”
“To talk yourself out it, you mean?” Seth asked, impatience seeping into his voice. “You are free now, Fledgling. Forget everything you were; forget everything the world thinks you should be.”
Embrace what you are.
Kevin’s blood was doing insane things to Faith; it was like a massive hit that sent all of her senses reeling and it only seemed to be getting more intense as she continued to drink. It was like watching the world’s best horror movie, while screwing the world’s hottest man, while also skydiving or some such crazy shit. She’d never felt a rush like it and she’d done some mental things in her lifetime in her pursuit of pleasure.
She wanted more – no, correction – she wanted it all.
You can have it all, she thought. Seth wouldn’t stop her; no-one would stop her. Yet, despite this, that little voice remained in the back of her head, nagging her to think and making her sympathise with the man in her arms.
He’s just a normal guy, it told her. He’s on a date. He doesn’t deserve to die.
It took every shred of control she had to pull herself away from the ichor. Seth, who had been idly wandering the area, immediately appeared behind her, steadying her as she stumbled back, her vision swirling and her head spinning with wave after wave of this high. Seth hadn’t said a word yet Faith felt an overwhelming urge to explain herself.
“He… he doesn’t taste good,” she started, feeling Seth tense behind her. “No, fuck that. That’s bullshit. Fuck. He does taste good. Really good. It’s a huge problem. Huge. Massive!”
Seth frowned at this nonsense string of words. “He tastes really good and that’s a problem,” he translated.
“Because you’re going to make me carry on, aren’t you?!” Faith blurted, slipping from delirium to panic. “That’s why you’ve done this, isn’t it? Made it so fucking intense. You want to make me… to make me…”
“I wanted you to enjoy yourself, yes, but I’m not—“
“You are though!” Faith cried. Her emotions suddenly thrown 180, she collapsed into Seth’s arms, her body wracked with dry sobs. “You’re going to make me kill him.”
“I’m not going to make you do anything you don’t want to, Faith.” His voice was as soft as his caress as he rocked her, soothed her. “This level is clearly still too intense. Noted, for next time.”
Faith nodded, comforted. “Maybe next time you could just tell me when my choice of prey is gay.”
“Maybe,” he mumbled.
“What story shall we weave into his memory?” she asked, fiddling with a button on Seth’s jacket. “How about: he was skinny dipping in the river and someone nicked his clothes?”
“No,” Seth replied, coolly. “There’s no need to alter his memory.”
“What? Have you already done it?” Faith asked, raising her head. “Oh, no wait. Because he was mesmerised, right? He won’t remember anyway?”
“No. Because I’m not letting an ‘appropriately-dressed’, most delectable, readily primed prey go.”
The realisation hit like a truck and Faith’s non-functioning heart dropped into her part-functioning stomach.
“No,” she whispered, choked. “Seth, don’t. Let’s just steal his shirt and find someone else. It’ll be a fun story for him to tell his date.”
Seth smiled and brushed his nose against hers. For a moment, she naively thought she’d convinced him; that he was going to kiss her, take them back to the bar and pick up some random loner who no-one would miss.
He tilted her chin up and she closed her eyes, expecting the feel of his cool lips against hers, the roughness of his stubble against her chin. He paused, inches from her lips and waited there until she re-opened her eyes.
The coldness in his voice sent a shiver of fear to her core. “I respect your choices, Faith. Respect mine.”
She gulped, sounding much braver than she felt when she challenged him. “My choices don’t kill anyone.”
“Oh, but they do,” he hissed, slipping form. Those ghostly white eyes gave her the creeps but she forced herself to stare back into them, a battle of wills.
Seth smiled at her defiance, showing those ragged teeth of his. “I’ll leave it up to you whether you watch or not, Fledgling.” He tilted her face upwards, snarling as she shuddered, and left her to stand alone.
Behind Faith, Kevin’s heart was once again trying to beat through his chest wall but this time, it was accompanied by frantic whimpers and starts, as if the human man was trying to wake from his nightmare. She remained facing the portable cabin as all the sounds faded and a weighted silence hung heavily in the air.
The calm before the storm.
The silence was deafening. Eternal. Was he waiting for her to turn around? Should she oblige?
The suspense was killing her all over again. Faith simply couldn’t take it.
It would be totally fine. She watched slasher flicks for fun, for fuck’s sake. It would definitely be fine.
Fuck, fuck, fuck!
“Ah,” Seth purred. “You’re still here and you chose to watch.”
“Whatever is the matter?” he asked, his voice buzzing with humour as Faith stood dumbstruck and mute before him. “Is there something on my face?”
He patted down his pockets as if looking for something. His hands were shaking but he laughed with a chilling ease. “Speechless, I see. Not what you expected?”
She shook her head, taking a step closer.
Her mouth was opening and closing like a goldfish’s, but she couldn’t seem to form any words or thoughts in response to his questions.
“Do you wish for me to take you back to Lilith? Are you going to run to the hills? Give me a clue, Fledg—“
“Interesting,” he murmured. He wiped his face with the world’s most disgusting looking handkerchief and straightened his hat casually like he hadn’t just had a teenaged vampire throw herself at him and there wasn’t a half-decapitated man at his feet.
“You’re always surprising me. So,” he smiled brightly, rocking on his heels. “Who’s next? We could head back to the bar or—” he paused as a call came from across the dock.
“Kevin? Are you out here?”
“Self-selection,” Seth grinned, flexing his fingers. “It would be cruel not to, wouldn’t it?”