Lilith wandered the sitting room gazing at the weathered photographs and sketches and thumbing through Sage’s collection of big band records until she heard the singing stop in the adjacent room and the water stop running. She listened to the pad of feet as they faded across the hallway.
Then, Lilith waited a further ten minutes until she was certain that Sage would be asleep.
Sage had always been the type to fall asleep within seconds of her head hitting the pillow and very little would ever wake her. Lilith could actually start a fire and the green-eyed goblin would be none-the-wiser until she woke up with even crispier hair.
Lilith wasn’t planning on starting any fires, nor was she planning to try and escape the confines of the underground apartment. She had tried her might against Sage’s magic in the past and knew that it was pointless.
She strolled into the hallway that was lit as if it were day time, thanks to those bizarre window boxes everywhere. Lilith couldn’t imagine living in a world that was perpetually light. As resistant as she had become to the sun, if it never rose again she would’ve been quite content.
Faced with seven identical doors, she scratched her head. She knew the one to her immediate left was the bathroom and the one directly opposite her was the kitchen from where she’d entered the apartment. She extended her arm, her hand pointed, closed her eyes and spun in a slow circle, choosing the door nearest where she landed.
Hmm. Guest room. Very green. No sign of Caleb here.
Lilith and her brother had a lot to discuss. Their last conversation had been interrupted by Faith before Lilith could really make him sorry, and there was a whole list of new misdemeanours to address. She closed the door to the guest room and repeated her door selection tactic in the hallway whilst pondering which of his new indiscretions she’d address first.
Leaving plasma bags in a hotel room they didn’t pay for? That was certainly infuriating.
The possible murder and subsequent mishandling of the corpse of a police officer was also up there, she thought as she stepped through the second door into Sage’s workshop which, surprisingly, was not green but, unsurprisingly, did not contain her brother.
Of course, why the heck Caleb came back to Windenburg when he knew that he shouldn’t would rank pretty highly on that list. Admittedly, she’d stopped telling him that he shouldn’t come here a few years back, but trust him to shove that aside when bombarded with all the new and shiny rules Faith had given him.
Damn that girl. Undoing all Lilith’s hard work.
Thankfully, no one had told April or Melinda very much about Seth so there was probably very little useful information that Sage could pry out of them, and if Caleb hadn’t said anything by now, he wouldn’t. Caleb did not have the capacity for too much of ‘why’ he shouldn’t do or say things; just knowing that he shouldn’t was usually enough.
Lilith tried the other doors but they didn’t lead anywhere exciting. Where the heck was he? Had Sage gone against all protests and chained him up in a basement after all?
She could hear Sage’s soft snoring coming from a door to her right and raw vocals of punk music bleeding from the door to her left.
That must be Wyatt’s room, she guessed, chuckling at the ‘high voltage’ sign on his door. And it sounded like he was awake so either Caleb was in there or she could ask where he was.
As she got nearer to the door, she could hear three male voices, including Caleb’s distinctive timbre and… his laugh?
Lilith couldn’t even remember the last time she’d heard Caleb laughing. She barely even remembered him smiling. He was always such a miserable bastard, moping around and ruining everything he touched.
She pressed her ear closer to the door, perusing his muddled, open thoughts. She closed her eyes; losing herself to a reverie of a time when smiling was all her little brother ever did.
…And thoroughly looking forward to giving him something to sulk about.
She heard the familiar crackle of a radio shutting down; an empty static that had nothing to do with the music.
“Lil’s outside the door,” Caleb whispered.
“This is becoming a proper party!” a carefree drawl responded. “Enter, Lil!”
“Wait! No! Wyatt!” Caleb hissed but it was too late, the had door swung open to permit her to the dimly lit but surprisingly clean and tidy bedroom. Lilith stepped inside; ignoring Wyatt’s greeting and resetting her face into stillness as her eyes quickly adjusted to the darkness and her nostrils picked up a distinct aroma she recognised from her youth.
“I travelled all this way and you don’t even want to see me?” she asked stoically. “Why not? What are you doing this time, Caleb?”
“…Nothing illegal,” he muttered. “Right, Wyatt?”
“Totally legal,” Wyatt grinned. “Right, Hoggy?”
“Yeah…In Sulani,” Broof clarified, uneasily.
“Details,” Wyatt laughed, casually waving his hand, just like his dad used to. “But if the cops show up, Hoggy, this is Sulani. You’ve got your budgie smugglers on as usual, yeah?”
Lilith couldn’t keep a straight face any longer. She was half drunk and whatever it was that these three were doing, it would definitely take her mind off the impending car crash. She wondered if it would be as potent as the stuff Warren used to make.
“Nothing illegal, hey? Makes a nice change.” Lilith nodded and pulled up a chair. “Mind if I join you?”
It had taken over an hour to walk with Seth the two miles from the cabin to the edge of the city, because every time so much as a leaf moved in his peripheral vision, Seth leapt out of his boots and ran off.
Faith knew this area well; she worked in the cinema near here and had twice gotten food poisoning from Sacfondles, the fast-food chain they were currently lingering outside of. She knew this would be a good place to hunt; at this hour on a Saturday night there would be a number of drunken people stumbling around looking for a late-night grease hit.
And hopefully it was far enough removed from Seth’s memories that she could settle him somewhat and figure out what the fuck was going on.
Seth scanned his surroundings and then turned towards her; his voice rough and his eye still twitching. “Why are we here? I have never seen the cat around here.”
Faith was this close to completely losing her shit. If he mentioned that damn cat one more fucking time.
“…we should head back to Windenburg,” he continued, “Or Forgotten Hollow. Those are the places I saw that cat the most.”
Faith chewed her lip, summoned all her patience. “We need to drink first, Seth. Remember? Drink?”
Her words didn’t reach him; Seth rambled on, “If we capture it, take it with us when we visit Angeline’s farm…”
A man staggered out of the restaurant, alone and clearly inebriated. Faith growled and got to her feet. Her sudden action snapped Seth from his nonsense but deposited him right back into panic.
“W-where are you going?! D-did you see something?!” he stammered, looking around.
Faith paused on the path, glaring back at the face of this man that only a few hours ago, she’d thought was the hottest thing sort-of-alive. She didn’t really understand what had happened at the cabin, but she knew that he had had some sort of breakdown, bombarded her with a load of old memories and was now a gibbering, quivering wreck.
“Did you see something?” he whispered, curling up on the bench.
She wanted to believe that he had been telling her truth, that he didn’t remember any of that before tonight, but how could she? How could someone just forget stuff like that?
And now here she was, trying to help him while he all but ignored her in favour of blathering on about his obsession with not one but two other women and a fucking cat. She watched him for a while wondering if this was a temporary thing and if, after his realisations tonight, he’d even drink from a person at all.
“Did you see the cat?” he asked in whisper. “Is that where you’re going?”
“Yes. I’m going to go and catch it. You wait here. Don’t you dare move or you’ll frighten it,” she hissed, watching from the corner of her eye as Seth sank back onto his seat and nodded meekly at her order, without challenge or question.
Huh. She could get used to that.
Wyatt had never had so many people in his tiny room. Other than Broof he rarely had visitors and even Broof hadn’t come by very much in recent years. Too busy doing boring stuff, like working and paying bills.
It wasn’t that Wyatt didn’t have other friends, or even lovers, to invite over. He did. And it wasn’t that he was embarrassed about his room or living situation. He wasn’t, although he had to admit that it was nice for his company not to be continuously wafting the air and complaining.
Nope, his reservation was all to do with his mother.
The last person who had visited had been Becky. Becky was a non-witch and therefore was not entitled to know witches existed unless it was absolutely necessary. Wyatt had reiterated this to his mother numerous times on the morning before she’d arrived, which had irritated her to no end.
“You don’t have to keep telling me, darling! I practically invented that rule!”
The first thing Sage did when Becky arrived was say hello and offer her a drink, which was fine.
She had manually switched the tea machine on after a few tries as she chatted to Becky about how much she loved her hair, also fine.
Then, when the tea had finished brewing, Sage filled the cup the human way, forgot herself completely and magically floated the drink across the kitchen.
Gratefully, the new HP had an awesome potion in her arsenal that made Becky think she’d dreamt the whole meeting, negating the need to fill out loads of forms.
Wyatt also had a few witch friends but with the exception of Wartilda they never seemed to want to come over when his mother was home and she was always home. He had gotten used to spending his nights at various parties, but tonight he hadn’t had to.
Tonight he had company.
OK, it was all due to necessity rather than willingness, but whatever.
Broof hadn’t managed to teleport and if Sage found that out that he couldn’t do such a basic spell, he’d be struck off the mentor list for sure. He was forced to hide in Wyatt’s room until the lock lifted at dawn. Oh, and the Vatores were trapped here as prisoners, of course.
But everyone seemed to be relaxed. No one had tried to attack anyone, which was awesome.
Wyatt had been led to believe that vampires had been awful, evil creatures who had killed indiscriminately, and had a penchant for magical blood. But if that was true, they were really taking their time getting round to draining him and his bearded buddy.
The only thing they’d been drinking was the remainder of the rhubarb tea, and even though Caleb was seeing in technicolour and was no longer repulsed by Wyatt, he was nowhere near as close as Wyatt wanted him to be.
The knowledge that Caleb was a vampire, uninterested, in a relationship with April and also kind of a douche did nothing to lower Wyatt’s interest in him, frustratingly.
Every time Caleb shifted and he glimpsed the muscles as they flexed in his arms, or he asked a question in that voice that sounded somehow both soothingly warm and bitterly cold at the same time, Wyatt could imagine those strong arms around him, that voice whispering into his ear sending chills down his spine.
Even the idea of him sinking his fangs in had started to gain appeal…
Oh man. Was it hot in here?
He wasn’t the only one in the room who was building a fantasy around one of the undead siblings.
Although, knowing Broof as he did, his thoughts of Lilith would be much cleaner. Excluding his servitude to Sandy, Broof had only ever been in one serious relationship. He had a habit of falling for women who wouldn’t give him the time of day and Lilith definitely wasn’t giving him anything.
They had quickly established that Broof was not, in fact, stalking Lilith but there was still a frostiness from her towards him.
Wyatt had assumed that the pair would have all sorts of questions about witches, but they didn’t.
He had asked a lot of questions about her history with his mother – like, how did that even work? He’d asked about vampire life and traditions and Lilith had neglected to answer, saying that she’d wait until the girls were there so she wasn’t explaining twice.
Fair enough. Sometimes words were overrated.