**A/N: Beware the revolving POV’s…**
“Why do we keep coming here“, Cara asked Roddy after they were seated and had ordered their drinks.
Over the past week, either Roddy or his ‘better half’ Bart (“Barty”) had talked her into meeting up at TSO three different times. While she liked the place just fine, three visits in the space of one week equaled overkill. Then she snickered at using the word “overkill” in an establishment owned and used by vampires. She really needed more sleep.
Godric tried to relax into his usual seat as he carefully gazed down over his Cara’s curvy form. For once his keeper-slash-Son wasn’t with him. He was instead busy dealing with some ‘suddenly occurring’ area business, and it was a nice change to be left alone. He smiled deviously. If this temporary freedom had come about through his own devices, who was to know?
It was a bit late for a dinner hour, but it was obvious by her clothing that she’d come straight from this work she did so often. He’d naturally seen when she entered the building, and had become impatient on her behalf as she had waited on her friend to arrive before being seated.
A little over a week prior, he had been glad to make that particular friend’s unexpected acquaintance, even if said friend didn’t remember having the honor. Even though this Roddy and his companion were human males, their preferences ran toward each other so strongly that the ancient vampire did not mind their friendship with his Cara. As powerful as his glamour was, and as skillful as he was in its execution, neither human had any idea whatsoever that their sudden desire to visit TSO so very often wasn’t of their own volition.
Godric was equally satisfied, and surprised, that he’d managed to ‘run into’ and glamour the smelly, whiny whore called “Steph” into finding other places to smear her stench. His Cara definitely deserved better-smelling friends, and he himself was heartily sick of the strumpet’s constant complaining about things she refused to change.
Cara’s words then reached his ears, and he cringed momentarily. Perchance he’d overplayed his hand?
“Why, are you getting tired of this place, or do you suddenly have something against vampires?” Roddy certainly didn’t hold anything against vampires, but he’d sure like to. While he was in a very exclusive relationship with Bart, if a gorgeous gentleman of the night were to rub up against him in the right way – which translated to any way – all bets were off. Roddy definitely had a tolerant view of the gorgeous undead, but then, he knew that Bart would understand…because he had the same pro-vamp stance that Roddy did.
Godric shifted in his seat, his attention even more intently focused on the sweet-smelling brunette.
“No, not really, even if they do seem to think and act like they’re better than humans, but I have a theory about all that anyway.” While Cara couldn’t say that she spent a lot of her free time contemplating the mores of vampire life, she did have a few ideas about their more obvious, and highly touted by the media, attitude problems toward humans.
“Well, come on then, let’s hear it,” Roddy encouraged. He’d been intrigued with vamps ever since they’d first revealed themselves, so he wasn’t a bit surprised by this sudden need to go to TSO every time he turned around these days. Not that he minded in the least, especially since his honey felt the same way. Too bad he was busy tonight.
Cara waited for the waitress to deposit their drinks and take their “late evening snack” order before she continued.
Godric impatiently waved away a waitress while he waited for Cara to continue. Things seemed somehow different with her, and he needed to know what was going on, what was going through her mind. Why did she seem to be thinking differently now?
“In one way I can see why they’d want to feel superior to humans. They’re stronger, and faster, and all their senses are supposed to be a lot sharper than ours. So, yeah, it’s natural they’d look down on us for being weaklings, I guess.” She paused to take a sip of her White Russian. She normally preferred coffee, but once in a while, a visit with Mr. Kahlúa was just the thing. And…she’d already ordered a coffee to come with her meal since getting anything more than slightly toasty was never on her agenda.
“But, from what little I’ve read, the vast majority of vampires were never given the choice to change, ya know? They were just living their lives all happy or miserable and shit and then BAM! One night they suddenly woke up and not only were they completely different, but everything that they were familiar with was gone. When you consider that their choices were taken away from them, how many do you think would rather have stayed human, would rather have stayed with their families?” She shook her head and nibbled at a deliciously salty nacho from the fresh basket the waitress had just dropped off. The salsa was too hot for her tastes, but the warm chips were delicious.
The eavesdropping vampire screamed silently in agreement. He had met the very rare vampire who had wanted to be turned, but the vast majority had not been given an option. While he had given his Son the blessing of a choice, he himself had had no such luxury. A quick glance around proved that other vampires scattered about were also listening to the this discussion. A warning growl inaudible to human ears refocused their wandering attentions elsewhere.
“I’m not saying that they hate being vampire, but I’d say that more than a few of them are almost jealous of humans for being able to stay human. Personally, if that happened to me, I’d stake the son of a bitch who took all my choices away from me. That fucker would pay.” She glared at her drink before reaching for another nacho. Maybe tonight wasn’t such a great night to talk to Mr. Kahlúa.
Godric felt something squeeze uncomfortably in his chest, yet there was something about her spirit that made him want to smile. The differences between these reactions to her words confused him.
“So you wouldn’t want to be turned?” Roddy said the word ‘turned’ with a bit of giddy melodrama.
He wondered if it would be possible to do a nice thing for this Roddy for asking the question of the century. He did know of a couple of male vampires who treated their ‘boy toys’ quite well…
She rolled her eyes and shook her head as she answered. “Oh, no, not at all. I mean, things in my life would have to change tre-mend-ou-sly for me to want to even think about having to endure living forever.” She took another sip of her drink, then scowled. She hadn’t meant to do that. “I mean, yeah, there would be a lot of benefit in never getting sick and never aging, but seriously, who’d want to live forever?”
And that, Godric decided, was uncomfortable proof of her intelligence and common sense. Since vampires had revealed themselves, he had been sickened by the number of not just fangbangers but otherwise ‘normal’ people, too, who had petitioned (in various and unsavory ways) all manner of vampires to be turned. Those fools had been blinded by the thoughts of everlasting health, youth, and strength, but never quite grasped the threatening permanence of forever.
Sadly, it seemed his Cara did.
At that moment the waitress mysteriously reappeared and asked how they were doing, so she took that opportunity to request her coffee. She really should have eaten something for lunch that day, but they’d been so busy in the office that she hadn’t bothered except for a measly, and crumbly, pack of cheese crackers. And since breakfast was only eaten under extreme duress at the best of times… No wonder the White Russian was screaming so incessantly in her brain!
Roddy prattled on about his and Bart’s fascination with all things vampire as she waited for her coffee. She wasn’t surprised when her thoughts went back to her lunchtime conversation with Caitlyn the day before. The sweet receptionist had overheard Cara on the phone discussing her upcoming meeting at TSO with Roddy, and when she’d ended the call, the receptionist had pulled her aside to ask if she had any experience with vampires.
While she’d had to tell her no, she could see that Caitlyn was upset about something, and so had invited the normally upbeat blonde to join her in the employee lounge while she ate her lunch. What she’d learned during that hour had made her a bit sick to her stomach.
“What’s wrong,” demanded Roddy, obviously sensing her discomfiture. “You’re looking a bit nauseous over there, and these shoes are new.” He jokingly admired his trim ankle and new leather.
Godric, generally impassive face slightly betraying his thoughts, leaned forward to continue listening.
She laughed a bit, then explained, “I was just remembering a conversation I had yesterday. You know Caitlyn, the receptionist you’d like to make over?” He nodded, then leaned back for the waitress to deposit her coffee and their food order.
Cara prepared her coffee as she continued. “She overheard us talking about meeting here tonight, and asked me if I knew anything about vampires and the way they do things. I don’t, of course, except for what I’ve read or seen here or on TV, but I could tell she was really upset, so I invited her to join me for lunch. Turns out her sister is what the vampires call a ‘pet’,” she spat distastefully.
Godric’s heart plummeted. While he had never held with the practice of keeping ‘pets’ or of treating humans as such, he knew all too well that most vampires were not nearly so forward thinking. He could certainly imagine what she had learned from her friend, and he snarled softly in disgust. It clawed at him that his Cara was learning the bad before he could show her the good.
“Pet?” Roddy didn’t know what to think about that. He knew that vampires seemed to have superiority complexes but he didn’t know it was that bad. “What do you mean ‘pet’?”
“Exactly what it sounds like, Rod. According to Caitlyn’s sister, vampires don’t have girlfriends or boyfriends, or even significant others. If the person is a human, apparently they’re considered little more than a “fuck and feed”, and are literally treated like disposable pets, and not even as good as you or I would treat a cat or dog. From what I was told, the “blood bag” is expected to let the vampire feed off them, fuck them, treat them like shit, control their actions, and even “punish” them! They are absolutely expected to act like the vampire is some sort of god!”
His heart fell even more with her words, but he couldn’t blame her. So many of their traditions were outdated, immoral, and simply wrong. He wanted to grab her up and take her someplace safe and quiet and comfortable and tell her that he would worship her as a beloved queen, that he would never even consider subjecting her to the humiliations and indignities so many of his kind forced upon their own so-called ‘pets’. He would beg her to permit him to know her well; he would willingly plead with her to bless him with the privilege of caring for her and protecting her and shielding her from as many of life’s cruelties and horrors as his immortal soul would allow. But alas, that time was not yet at hand.
However, the existence of this Caitlyn’s sister’s owner… He felt his Son’s approach, and knew his own fluctuations of temper through the Bond had concerned him.
He glanced down in vague surprise at the twisted wrought iron railing in his hands. Apparently at some point he had stood up?
Yes…the vampire whose ‘pet’ was sister to Cara’s friend…he would suffer for causing this most unfortunate, untimely, and potentially irrelevant knowledge to bleed into his Cara’s mind. He would suffer, then he would die. The smile on his face raised the hairs on the back of Eric’s neck.
Cara was incensed. From what she’d learned through media interviews with the few former ‘pets’ who had lived through the experience – news that she’d formerly considered sensational and had therefore mostly ignored – and through Caitlyn about her sister, the whole vampire/human relationship fiasco seemed little more than an excuse for the vampire to treat a human as if they owned them. The entire “relationship” was seemingly based on disrespecting, controlling, manipulating, and using the human who had little to no say in how they were treated.
Granted the humans in question were stupid for agreeing to be with vampires in such a way, but…if they didn’t know beforehand how they’d be treated, then they wouldn’t know to avoid becoming involved with vampires, would they?
“I just can’t imagine why in the hell any sane person would choose to become involved with a vampire that way, especially if they know what’s going on before they even get involved,” Cara’s indignant question rang clearly to Godric’s ears. “Did you know that vampires honestly think they have some sort of God-given right to “correct” or “punish” or abuse their human ‘pet’?” She could make sarcastic air quotes with the best of them. Then she snorted. “Let’s just call them what vampires think they are: slaves. I think wanting to become anyone’s slave is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard of. Ever.”
“Preach it, honey. I cannot imagine being anybody’s pet or slave or what the fuck ever. Did I tell you about the time I went to a room with this gorgeous piece who tried to Dom me?”
After almost chocking on a bite of food, Cara sipped her coffee and violently shook her head. There was no way she could picture her friend in that sort of situation; he was just too smart for such things. “No! Tell me!”
“I told that idiot that I was nowhere near stupid enough to fall for that shit, and that there was no penis big enough, no face pretty enough, and no bank account fat enough to lure me into that kind of disgustingly pathetic set-up. The look on his face as I laughed myself out of the hotel room was priceless!”
Godric smiled at Cara’s resulting laughter even if he would never understand the point of a “high five”. He wasn’t surprised – of course his Cara had too much class, personality, and intelligence to ever let herself fall into such a ridiculous situation.
She took another couple of bites, then sipped her coffee before returning to their previous topic. “Don’t get me wrong. I would love to be able to talk to some really old vampires. I’d love to hear whatever they would want to tell me about what times were like way back when.”
Roddy nodded. They both shared a love of learning, and had actually met during a series of history lectures held at the library.
“I would love to pick their brains, learn what they know and have experienced, but I wouldn’t push it since they’re no more my play-thing than I am theirs. Damn if I’d ever be a ‘pet’, though, no matter how nice or smart or willing to talk one might be. Ugh!”
The ancient vampire heartily considered scooping her up immediately and carrying her off to his home so that she could ask him all the questions she ever wanted, for as long as she wanted. His Son knew him well enough to place a firm hand on his shoulder to remind him of where he was.
Eric was right. Now was not the time. He first had to conceive of a plan to show her that he was different, that he did not hold with the tradition of ‘pets’ or slaves, that if anything he was her slave, her pet. He had to figure out how to show her that the place where his heart used to be was now warmed by the mere thought…of her.
Roddy, knowing Cara’s temper and her sense of humor, made a show of glancing around at their surroundings, then whispered dramatically, “Then why are we here?”
She blurted out another laugh, then shrugged. “I don’t know – you suggested it!” After a few bites of her late dinner, she added, “The food’s good, it’s open late, and besides, while I have no intentions of becoming romantically involved with a vampire, I don’t have anything against them so long as they keep their fangs, hands, and attitudes to themselves.”
Godric quirked a brow.