“You know who I am?”
“Yes, I know who you are, Faith,” Kitty laughed. “What amazes me, is that you know who I am.”
“I know who you are, Kitty,” Faith managed through a throat that was almost closed with panic. “What the unholy mother of fuck are you doing here?”
Kitty’s smile dropped. She blew a curl from her forehead, landing it perfectly amongst the others, and pouted.
“Oh?” she sighed, her voice much softer and quieter than Faith had imagined it would be. Her words seemed to slip over Faith’s ears, nothing more than a cold breath. “I see that you are not so happy to meet me after all?”
“Happy?” Faith muttered, so many questions fighting their way to the surface. “What are you doing here? Why are you here? How are you here?! I thought you were dead! I’d hoped you were dead. You deserve to be dead. How are not fucking dead?!”
Kitty didn’t break her stare as she licked her teeth, gazing at a point past Faith’s shoulder.
“Death is subjective.” Her gaze fluttered back to Faith’s and she smiled, showing a row of needle-sharp teeth. “The ‘how’ is something I have yet to establish, but the ‘what and why’.” Kitty gestured at the hypnotised blonde kneeling on the cobbles.
“You’re the one killing students?” Faith asked, disbelieving. “Holy shit. Am I the only vampire who doesn’t dig blondes?”
Kitty laughed, a gentle tinkle of a noise, and shrugged her hair back over her shoulder. “No. I, as you, favour the dark and masculine. She is not for me, Faith.”
“You know that.”
“Caleb,” Faith gasped, thinking back to last time she’d seen Fringey, it felt like a lifetime ago. He’d just got that crap job at the flower shop and was going to save up to buy a gold-plated house for him, Blondie and their dumb vampire spawn to live in. But that day she’d left, the day she and Seth had fled the cottage, Lilith was in the living room, Blondie was there, on the floor, Melinda was there, even Chuck was there. Caleb should have been there…
“You took him,” she said with a sinking sense of dread.
“No. I found him.”
The rage inflated in Faith like a balloon. “Where is he?”
“He is my guest, back at the manor,” Kitty said rather sadly. “He is not quite ready to face the world yet, the poor baby.”
“Your guest.” Faith muttered. “He’s a slave in your basement, isn’t he? Like Seth was.”
Faith saw the exact moment when Kitty’s sweet and playful demeanour vanished. It was exhilarating. “Yeah,” Faith growled. “I know all about what you did; how you kept him locked up, fed off him, fucked him on a chair.”
“You do?” Kitty asked sceptically, slinking into Faith’s space, through her skin and into the pockets of her brain.
“So you do,” Kitty murmured. Her eyelashes fluttered, her eyes glowed, but she was otherwise unmoved by this news. “These memories you have taken—”
“I didn’t take them. He dumped them in me.”
“No. You took them. They are vivid, complete, with sentiments; it is skilled manipulation, Faith. I can feel the fondness he held – his own tendentious version of fondness, naturally. How curious.”
“Fondness?” Faith scoffed. “You think he was fond of you? He hated you! You ruined his life!”
“I did not ‘ruin his life’ – I extricated him and he was grateful.”
Faith had no idea what that meant, she didn’t know what half of the words Kitty was saying meant, but to her ears, to her mind, someone bombarding her with words that she didn’t know was an insult. It got her back up.
“Grateful? You’re bloody deluded.”
“He was a whisker from the guillotine, Faith,” Kitty explained. “I intervened.”
Faith understood enough to follow this time. “The guillotine? Because they found him with the dead farmer guy, right? He didn’t kill him, though. He was innocent.”
“You know that too. Gracious,” Kitty said, whisper-softly as if speaking to a sleeping baby. “He was never innocent though, Faith. He was always a condemned man who incurred repugnance for his crimes. He had no chance of exoneration. I was his only option.”
“Like fuck you were. I bet you did it. I bet you murdered the bloke and framed him.”
Kitty made a small noise, that may have been agreement. “Seth’s timing that night was unfortunate.”
“Unfortunate,” Faith mimicked. “Walked in while you and your cronies were doing Angie’s dad in?”
“My cronies,” Kitty laughed, a haunting little sound that filled the night air. “You are frightfully acrimonious. I would wager that Seth is partial to your oral offensive, no?”
Faith withered at this perceived jab on her sexual ability and fought to regain her cool.
“We broke up, but I’ll have you know that he loved getting blowjobs from me,” she lied.
“Oh. No. We are not the same page.” Kitty tilted her head with a patronising little smile on her face that Faith was dying to slap off. “You ‘broke up’?” she asked. “How lamentable. You two seemed so well-suited.”
“Hardly. He’s a complete arsehole.”
“A complete arsehole,” she repeated. “That is worse than a partial one?” Kitty grinned. “Enlighten me; why does he deserve such scorn in your eyes?”
Faith scrunched up her nose, not trusting this pasty she-devil and not wanting to say what had gone down between herself and Seth. But, to her horror, the more she tried not to think about it, the clearer her thoughts became until she was aware that Kitty was watching them.
Faith recoiled, forcing the intruding vamp from her cranium.
“Get out of my head,” she hissed.
“Oh, Faith,” Kitty said softly, with no shadow of an apology. “So much pain. Poor baby.”
It had felt like a long, long time since anyone had cared about Faith and this drip felt like a deluge.
“I’m fine,” she spat.
Kitty rolled her tongue around her teeth and slowly her thoughtful pout became a knowing smile. “I have no doubts that you are or, at least, that you shall be; you are strong, vehement like myself. But we all need a little assistance from time to time.”
“I don’t need anything from you,” Faith snarled, stepping up an anger level. “I’ll end up like he ended up – insane and shitting in a bucket.”
“They were trying times,” Kitty insisted. “He was warm, clothed, fed and had indoor toileting facilities – pure luxury.”
“He was locked in a basement.”
Kitty made a cute little noise that sounded like mockery. “He was safe.”
“Safe?” Faith shouted, forgetting her surroundings. “You drained him!”
“Yes? He resided in a house of vampires who could have, and regularly did, exsanguinate humans within mere minutes. I claimed ownership of him, to protect him.”
“You think you protected him?”
“Yes. I was as lenient as I could be without raising suspicion.”
“You beat him!” Faith seethed.
“Faith, that situation was not a place for kindness or weakness. I had to do any little thing I could to nurture the hatred that simmered within him; the misanthropy, the sense of injustice.”
“Or you could have let him go.”
Kitty gently bit her lip. “No. I could not do that,” she said and sighed heavily. “He needed to be more than a loathed lovelorn liability, he needed to be judged worthy of joining our cause; it was the only chance he had of any kind of life.”
“Some life,” Faith snorted.
Kitty licked her lips. This time her tongue was barely hiding the hint of a smile. “There was a great deal of enjoyment in his existence, Faith; I made certain of that.”
“Yeah, by raping him every day. How fucking lovely of you.”
Kitty fixed Faith with a steely stare that felt like a cold knife through her skull.
“I never once heard him complain,” she whispered, her next words emanating from inside Faith’s punctured head. Did you?
Again, it was like someone had pushed the ‘play’ button inside Faith’s mind and she couldn’t find the ‘pause’ one. She watched as Seth’s basement brain dump was once again replayed to her, listening again with a whole new perspective.
“Despite everything… between thrill and fear… honest answer… I enjoy it.”
Faith staggered back, hoping that distance would break Kitty’s grip, and it seemed to work.
“Of course he’d say those things! He was trapped in a room with two vampires! You had your knee in his bollocks. He’d have said anything!”
Kitty tutted and shook her head slowly. “He knew the reward for his acquiescence as well as he understood the repercussions of deceiving me.” She smiled up at Faith. “He can deny it all his bravado can muster, but nothing rouses than man more than a firm hand, as I am sure you have learned…”
Faith snarled, in response to the cold compression that rose in her temples and the memories that Kitty was forcing her to relive.
“Oh my,” she chuckled softly. “Perhaps not.”
“If you don’t stop fiddling in my head I’m going to knock your fucking lights out.”
Kitty smiled, sadly. “I can see why he adored you so. Oh! So much wasted potential. I would wager that he pines for you.”
“Good. I hope he realises how awesome I am, how much he fucked up and that it haunts him forever.”
“Indeed,” Kitty answered with a wistful sigh. “Oh, Faith! I do feel such a fondness for you. A connection. Another like myself; a heart of gold left to grow so cold.”
“I’m fuck all like you, Kitty,” Faith snarled. “I’ve had enough of this. Whatever game you’re playing, I’m not interested.”
Faith tried to turn around, to stomp off before she did something stupid – like try to scratch this bitch’s eyes out – but her feet wouldn’t move. The only thing she could do was glare as Kitty slinked up to her.
“Before you abscond, allow me a question—“
“Ugh! Why do you talk like that? It’s doing my nut in.” Faith whined. She struggled against Kitty’s hold but it was firm, firmer than Seth’s had ever been. “Look, if you want me to tell you where he is, I don’t know.”
Kitty cooed, tilting her head inquisitively as she freely rolled through Faith’s thoughts.
“Would you like to?” Kitty circled Faith slowly, cutting shapes out of her head as she went. “No,” she said softly, finally. “You’d rather find someone else.”
Faith glared at the silver-haired bitch, trying to keep her mind blank and silently seething. She stopped in front of Faith with finality, and simply raised an eyebrow.
“And there we are,” Kitty said triumphantly. “Consider this a gift.”
Faith was only aware that she was gawping like a moron when Kitty’s little laugh rang out. She retraced the route she had just been given to the small cottage on the hill that she inexplicably knew was where Melinda was. She felt the hold on her lift and began to back off, in confusion.
“Faith, wait one more moment.”
“I’m not going to thank you.”
Kitty tilted her head, deadly serious all of a sudden. “I would assume not, as my gift is rather controversial. It warrants a caution.”
“Why?” Faith asked, suddenly guarded. “Who is Mel staying with in that cottage?”
“Oh, it is not her host who warrants wariness. It is Melinda herself who is not all that she seems.”
“What do you mean?”
Kitty’s green eyes glowing eerily brighter in the darkness. “Caleb did not leave of his own volition, nor did I take him by force. They threw him out, Melinda and April.”
“Bullshit. They’d never do that.”
“Oh, but they did. The pair became romantically involved behind the poor boy’s back. Took him for a complete fool.” She paused. “I see that is not a surprise to you?”
Faith shrugged. “I’m only surprised it took them so long.”
“Oh, really?” Kitty seemed to backpedal. “It came as a surprise to Caleb. He embraced change within himself, fought tooth and nail for his love, but to what end? He was nothing but an obstacle to their desire and so, they sought to be rid of him.”
“No. They wouldn’t do that.”
“Oh, but they did.” She casually flicked her hand as if discarding rubbish. “They treated him like dirt and then threw him out.”
“No way. Melinda is literally the nicest, kindness person in the world. She wouldn’t say ‘boo’ to a—“
“You lost to me again, Caleb. Can’t win a race, can’t outwit me, can’t keep your girl. Is there anything you’re good at?”
“—goose,” Faith finished without conviction as the film of this latest flash faded before her eyes. Even seeing it, she couldn’t believe it. “Melinda actually said that? What the hell happened?”
“The darkness changes us, Faith,” Kitty explained. “We can be easily blinded to our morals, to our true selves, as we both painfully understand.”
“No,” Faith insisted, clinging to hope. “Melinda is good, she would never be like that. And as for Caleb, Lilith was with them, she—”
“Allowed it,” Kitty whispered solemnly. “You know as well as I do that he was little more than an inconvenience to her. It appears that the tether’s end was finally reached, that he was no longer of use.” She sighed. “His very own sister. Abandoning him so keenly. Can you imagine?”
Faith could. The anger boiled inside her. “They really threw him out.”
“Yes, quite literally. I found him broken among the flowers, crumpled and dry like the shed leaves of autumn. I took him in but – oh! – I did not have hope that he would survive.”
“…Yet survive he does.”
“Holy shit,” Faith gushed, feeling her knees buckle. “What the— did they burn him? What the hell? What the actual hell? Whatever he did, he didn’t deserve that.”
“I agree,” Kitty purred, with a soft sigh. “We have reached the same page.”
“Faith, if your motivation for returning to your friends is forgiveness, a way to alleviate your guilt and find solace, you may be disappointed.” She paused and smiled. “But know that, regardless, you do not have to be alone,” Kitty emphasised this word, sending a shiver down Faith’s spine. “Those… people are not your only choice. I am offering you an alternative. You can join Caleb and myself, at the manor.”
“And be your prisoner? Pass.”
“Caleb is not a prisoner. He chooses to stay and he may choose to leave. As could you.”
Faith glanced up, a second’s hesitation, and Kitty pounced on it.
It is a beautiful mansion, vast and luxurious. You will have people to share it with. Beautiful people. Powerful, interesting, immortal people. You can come and go as you please. Be whoever you want to be. Whatever you dream of becoming. Caleb; he talks about you so fondly, Faith. I am sure he would be delighted to see you. All of you.
“I’d rather shove a burning pineapple up my ass than go anywhere with you.”
“What an interesting visual.”
“I don’t believe anything you say. I’m going back to my friends, to Lilith. I’ll find out what really happened.”
Kitty shrugged and Faith felt her slip from her mind.
“Cannot say I did not try.” She walked past Faith, brushing her gently as she passed and beckoning Debbie to her feet. “Come along, Sunday.”
“Her name is Debbie.”
“Oh, but Sunday is a much nicer name,” Debbie said dreamily, gazing at Kitty as if she was looking at an angel. “You are stunning! Your hair is so pretty.”
Kitty gently stroked Debbie’s cheek. Faith couldn’t hear any words, but she knew enough to guess that a conversation was happening.
“That sounds amazing,” Debbie whispered. “Yes please.”
“Until we meet again, Faith,” Kitty said softly.
“Faith?” Debbie repeated. “Who’s ‘Faith’? Is that my name now?”
“Wait!” Faith called out as it suddenly dawned on her that Debbie was being marched to the grave, that she’d led her there. “Don’t go with her!”
But it was too little, too late. Faith watched as a bright, colourful light radiated from Kitty, enveloping the human blonde and growing brighter. Then slowly fading until all that was left…
…Was all Faith ever seemed to have.
A whole load of regret.