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Lady Grey found the boy pressed up inside a trashcan.
It was one of those plastic ones. It might just have been big enough for something to curl up in, but still was not really made for anything living.
Except the boy wasn’t alive.
Above, the sky was a dark, scattering of stars filling an expanse of miles. No light pollution marred it. The small spot of light that was Morganville was too far away from any major town for that to be the case.
Which Lady Grey found was very lucky for the boy, since night had newly fallen and he seemed to be in the lee of an overhang that branched off from a house. His body was unmarked and unscarred, so hopefully that mean he was older than he looked. But the female vampire, also old by today’s standards, knew he was not. Anyone who was an older vampire would have worn more protective covering than the white t-shirt, the plain blue jeans, and the mop of sandy brown hair. He wasn’t even wearing shoes, bare feet pressed against the plastic of the container, toes spread.
She approached silently and it seemed like, even with enhanced hearing, he hadn’t sensed her. He looked asleep, eyes closed. His hands were held close to his body and were clutching at a small charm on the necklace held around his neck on a chain of small, interlocking rings. The chain was silver and the bird charm, that was half covered by his hands, was gold, though it was unlikely that either was anything more than colored. The boy didn’t seem like he could have afforded something like that, though she supposed it could have been a gift. His fingers had rubbed places on the charm until it was worn smooth.
As if sensing her eyes on him the boy curled a little deeper into himself. Lady Grey felt a frown tug at the corner of her lips. He seemed peaceful enough, but from the way he clutched at the charm around his neck, it looked like this wasn’t the case.
His eyes scrunched up and head jerked, but he didn’t wake.
Lady Grey might have moved on, but the boy suddenly sat bolt upright. She wasn’t particularly shocked, but the boy, upon seeing her, looked scared out of his mind. His shoulders tensed, eyes wild, and he ducked his head. But this was not before Lady Grey got a look at his eyes, which were scarlet. He was afraid, but she wasn’t so easy to trust, even if it really was just as it appeared to be. A twelve-year-old boy. He was still a vampire and he still had the ability to try to break her neck, if not actually succeed.
But he just huddled there, looking feral, and she saw a trickle of blood running from the corner of his mouth. She could smell the sharp tang of it in her nose and could see the small, white points of the fangs that were poking out just above his lips. She could tell for sure he was a new vampire now. Probably less than a day old and would soon be starving. If he wasn’t already. The trail of blood coming from the side of his mouth proved that. A vampire’s fangs were similar to that of a snake’s and were positioned behind the top canines. The small trickle of blood was because the fangs had just come out for the first time.
Who would change a child?
Lady Grey backed up a few steps again and was surprised to see hurt in the boy’s eyes. This caused her to frown. He probably felt pain because of the teeth, but it seemed to be more than that. After slight hesitation, she shifted her own eye color. The grey irises melted away to be replaced by the same sort of scarlet that mirrored his.
His eyes widened and he flinched back against the wall of the trashcan. His fangs retracted as the wounds within his mouth finally healed, but his eyes remained red as his emotions stayed high. He looked … afraid of her. Afraid, shocked, and on top of it all, there was the wetness within his eyes that said he wanted to cry.
Lady Grey backed off. She turned, aiming to walk away. The kid didn’t look like he wanted help and she couldn’t do anything for someone who wouldn’t accept assistance. There was a scrambling sound and Lady Grey looked back. The boy was nowhere to be seen, but the older vampire knew that he was still around. “Fine,” she muttered. “Follow me if you want to.” She was once again grateful that it was night. The boy couldn’t walk around in the sun if he was dressed like that.
She continued through the alley, hearing the movement of the boy behind her as he followed. She never looked back after that, knowing that if she did he would hide again.
After an hour of this, she said, “I’m called Jesse.” There was no response to this and Lady Grey continued moving along the sidewalk.
The town she was walking through was dark for the most part. Traffic lights changed and the cars moved along the streets, but taking her little stalker into consideration, Lady Grey stuck to the less busy intersections. She carried a small shoulder bag but other than that, there was no hint that she had just gotten off a plane. Her clothing was set up so it covered all the exposed skin, though she had taken off the gloves she’d used to cover her hands. A hat was hanging from a string that was around her neck and she was wearing a pair of jeans as well as a long sleeved black shirt. It was a very different contrast from what she had worn back when she had first been changed.
The slap of bare feet against tarmac brought her thoughts back to the present and she finally turned her head. The boy was there. She had been right, he was only about twelve. His hair was mussed, but not uncared for. Though it did look like he hadn’t washed it in a couple of days, it had probably been brushed. Just like someone who had forgotten to take a shower for a little … and had been spending time in a trashcan. Everything else about him seemed cold, scared, and like someone who had not talked to people in a long time.
At her look, pinned in her gaze, he froze. After a second, however, he regained the use of his limbs and bolted. From the awkward way that he blurred, she could see that he wasn’t used to the new speed. She watched as he nearly ran into a wall before darting around a corner.
“I’m going to need to get there before dawn, Sonny,” she muttered, trying to not sound annoyed. “So, either I get you across the town limits or we are both going to start worrying. It’s a mile. Think you can last that long without getting lost?” There was no response, of course, but she was still fairly sure that he was still there.
She began walking faster, no longer checking as often that the boy was following. She wanted him to be there if she looked back, but found it more of a priority that she led him to a place out of the sun, were it to rise.
Slowly, it all started to look more familiar and she could already hear the usual sounds of Morganville nightlife. These sounds being harder to detect using human hearing. Often it was a soft tread of feet, the movement of clothing, or the trace of a hand against a wall. The boy was closer now, clearly hearing these sounds as well. But so often one sound was missing. Always missing. Of life.
There wasn’t the huff of breath in the air. There wasn’t the beat of a heart. And Lady Grey said into this silent world, “Stay close. But there isn’t anything to fear here.”
The boy finally uttered one word. “Samuel.”
Lady Grey paused. Everything still and she looked back, over her shoulder, at the boy. “Is that your na – ” But he was gone again, the fear blossoming in his eyes again as he went. What part of her scared him so?
But she knew the answer. It was not her face, her voice, her appearance or anything like that. Instead, it was her species. The lack of a heartbeat within her chest, the paleness of her skin, the emptiness of her movement that held grace but no familiar movement of life. He was afraid of her.
Sighing, letting out the breath she had taken in to ask a question she’d never finished, she turned away. The remaining distance to Myrnin’s lab was like it had been before. The sound of footsteps. But she no longer tried to look back. It wasn’t something she could face right now.
The alley blurred around her and she pushed open the door he, Myrnin, never kept locked. No one ever went in, as the cobwebs within the building and dust along the floor showed. A path had been trekked through it to the trap door that led to the basement below the desolate building.
Samuel, behind her, stopped when she stopped. “Wait up here,” she said, not looking back. At her words, he’d pressed himself into the wall. She could hear the thump of his body against it. It was his only way of hiding in an alley with only one exit and the shack in front of her, which her body blocked the entrance to.
She pushed her way through the door, letting it close behind her. Walking to the trapdoor, she opened it, hearing the sound of the door behind her opening. Maybe he’d follow her, maybe he’d wait as she had requested. Either way, she descended the stairs and let the trapdoor close between them. Somehow, they’d figure things out.
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