Bleed Like Me.
DISCLAIMER: pokemon and all of its trademarked products and characters are owned by Nintendo, Game Freak and their affiliates, not me. If they were owned by me, I’d be filthy rich, and certainly wouldn’t have to resort to doing all the house work for the occasional FullMetal Alchemist or Kenshin DVD. (I know I really should save my money, but dammit, anime is so addictive!)
The girl tried not to look behind as she walked, although her pace sped up.
Someone was following her, that she was sure of.
She could hear their footsteps, could hear their muffled sniggers.
Still, she didn’t look back, even as she broke into a run.
Her hand went to the pokéball at her belt, and she was just about to call out her Charmeleon when-
A howl in front made her stop, and as the red eyes of the pokémon in front gleamed, she swallowed, her flight forgotten.
The white-furred disaster pokemon licked its chops, dirty teeth wet and gleaming in the dull light of the street-lamp.
Tendrils of saliva hit the rough pavement with a wet splat.
So focused was she on the vicious pokemon in front of her, she forgot the man who had been chasing her.
She didn’t remember until she felt his hands on her shoulders, and his warm breath on her neck.
“You shouldn’t have stopped.”
“-report that another victim has been found dead in the alleys surrounding the merchant suburbs of Indigo city. The victim – a young woman- was unable to be identified by the police as her face was partially gnawed off. Police suspect that the killer is a renegade pokemon, and investigations are continuing. In other news-”
“Turn that off Max. Don’t be morbid.” Max scowled, and ignored the older man.
Brock, in the kitchen, frowned as he turned back to cleaning the bench. May, who’d been sitting quietly in the kitchen, shook her head.
“You shouldn’t tell him off Brock. He’s only looking for news on Ash.”
“-should be mainly fine with moderate showers, with a north-westerly wind rising in the afternoon-”
“Ash has been missing for ten years. If there was any news on him, no doubt we’d read about it in the newspaper. Your little brother-” Max snorted at the use of the diminutive “-has no use for the news that the government feeds us. And even if he is eighteen, he should be in bed this time of night.”
He forestalled Max’s protests by raising a hand.
“This is my house. While you are here, you will obey my rules. Understood?”
Max grimaced, but nodded.
“Good. It’s a quarter past ten. You need sleep, especially if you want to take my sister out tomorrow night. You’ll need all the rest you can get, believe me.”
Max smiled sheepishly, and stretched as he headed up the stairs.
“Night sis,” he called.
“Night little bro. Hey Brock?”
“Do you know when Misty’ll be back?”
“Ever since Ash went, she’s been erratic in her visits. She’ll come when she’s ready. You should be in bed, too.”
“Don’t try to baby me, Brock Harrison. I’ll go to bed when I feel like it.”
“Very well. Just don’t make too much noise.” Brock brushed past her, flicking off the light switch. May, who’d been spooked by the news report, squealed, and ran up the stairs past Brock.
Brock laughed, and shook his head, making his way to his room.
“You should learn to control yourself.”
Mitch ignored the voice, and brushed past the single shadow that was blocking the entrance to the night club.
An arm was flung out, and thumped against his chest.
“Do it again, and get caught, and the leader will have your head decorating the walls.”
Mitch snarled at the shadow who dared to block his path.
Stupid runt! I’m a full-blooded feeder, how dare he talk back to me!
The shadow didn’t move, but continued to speak in that low, husky voice.
“If the leader does not want your head, I will take it. It might be useful as a doorstop. Do not tempt me to remove you. There are enough of us to please the leader, and surely she will not notice if such an insignificant feeder disappears.”
Again Mitch snarled, and tried to shove the shadow out of the way. That soft, shadowy voice was annoying him.
So what if he didn’t feed when it was his turn. He was hungry, dammit, and that meat’s blood hadn’t been enough to sate him...
For a moment he considered attacking the shadow, then thought against it.
Feeder didn’t drain feeder.
It was against the rules.
The obstacle was removed, and once more the shadow was simply that: a shadow.
Mitch shuddered, and headed inside.
Even if that one was a feeder, he was a bit... strange.
“Yes, I’ll be home by Sunday Brock.” Misty finished shoving her clothes into her knapsack, and began the frantic search for shoes. “Uh-huh. No, I don’t need you to- ha, okay, if you want to make a special dinner all for me you’re welcome to. How’s Max? Yeah?” Misty listened to the detailed discussion of Max’s love life as she tugged on a shoe, flopping back onto the hotel bed. “Wow, sounds like a soap-opera. How’s May?” Misty struggled to get the other shoe on a foot that suddenly seemed too big. “Well, as long as she got over it pretty quick. Yeah, I heard about the new reports too. Scary stuff. How many’s that now? Three? Remind me not to go out at night. And make sure May doesn’t try anything stupid- yeah, I know that’ll be a bit hard.” Misty finally succeeded, and flopped off the bed, slinging her knapsack on her shoulder. “Okay, yeah, I’ll see you tomorrow night. Make sure you come and pick me up at the train station, will you? Okay. See ya.” Misty clicked the phone off, and shoved it in the pocket of her jeans.
Her small blue mouse pokemon lazily opened one eye.
“C’mon Marill. We gotta get going.”
The small pokemon sighed, and leapt off of the bed, and hurried out the door Misty held open.
Both had a sense of quiet hurry, as both had seen the news reports last night and neither wanted to wander around too late after dark.
Mitch wiped the blood off his chin with a dirty sleeve. He knew it was dangerous –an unauthorised attack always was- but it was the risk that made it taste so good.
He licked the blood off his hands, and grinned at his Absol, who nuzzled through the entrails of the meat, seeking the liver.
“Leave it, Bone-breaker. We can’t hang around. There’s a couple more patrols then there was last night.”
The Absol grunted, and tore a chunk of flesh from the body, chewing it slowly and with considerable relish. Unspeakable fluids dripped down its furred and bloody chin.
“I’m serious. We gotta go, someone’ll catch us if-”
Mitch spun around, and saw nothing in the dark alley he’d dragged his kill into.
“I did warn you.” Again, he whipped around, searching for the speaker in the shadows.
“Perhaps you misunderstood me. Still, the leader has granted me permission.”
Permission for what? thought Mitch.
“Pika,” a soft voice whispered, and the Absol growled, fur standing on end. A sudden golden blur of light, then a sickening crack, and a muffled thump.
“Pity. I’m sure you won’t taste too good. But then, blood is blood.”
To Mitch’s shock, a hand jerked out of no-where, and a hard arm circled his neck.
Warm breath –saturated with the scent of blood- brushed the skin on his face.
“I was going to use you as a doorstop, but when I’m finished, there won’t be enough left.”
Mitch tried to call for his Absol, but the disaster pokemon was already dead, his skull split open and a foul soup of brain spilling onto the dirty ground. A dark yellow shadow sat on the still-warm body and lapped at the pooling blood.
Mitch –so shocked by his pokémon’s sudden, silent death- didn’t cry out as his throat was torn by teeth sharp and hungry.
Saliva mixed with the warm blood that splattered the pavement and alley walls as the shadow began to feed.
stepped quickly through the dark streets. Every one knew that the night was a
dangerous place, especially with the spate of killings that had swept across
The murders were steadily growing in their goriness, and Misty wouldn’t be surprised if the next victim was found without a head.
“C’mon Marill. The sooner we get to Brock’s the sooner we can get home and safe. It’s not safe to be walking around Indigo at night.”
Her pokemon chirruped an agreement.
True, it was only seven thirty, but two murders had already been reported. Who knew what would happen by midnight?
She stepped quickly, her pace increasing to the point where she was half-walking, half-jogging. Marill leapt from the ground, and up onto her shoulder.
Behind her, she thought she heard footsteps.
She kept walking, hoping that it wouldn’t be her body the Jenny’s found next, headless and disembowelled.
The shadow slipped through the dark alleys like he had been born to it. Beside him, his pokemon leapt through puddles formed from the day’s rain, dark yellow fur tarnished gold in the dim light.
Tarnished. That’s what we both are. Tarnished beyond repair.
Normally, such thoughts and melancholia wouldn’t set upon him this early in the night, but the fool’s blood had been bitter and dirty.
Serves me right. Everyone knows the blood of a feeder is tainted. Just like me, I suppose. At least there will be no more killings tonight. Tomorrow though... that is a different matter.
He heard footsteps, and judging by the sound, they were a woman’s, fast and panicked and trying not to show it.
The fools are stupid enough to attack in broad sight! I thought there was only one! Curses on all feeders!
It was only as he sped up, and his pokémon’s leaping gait turned into a smooth run, that he realised that he had cursed himself.
The footsteps quickened, and Misty felt her own speed up accordingly.
She didn’t know who was chasing, didn’t particularly want to know, but knew it would be her doom if she looked back.
She heard distant laughter, low, mocking and male.
Then, the laughter of another, and the footsteps doubled.
Great, now there’s two of them. Oh, if any gods are listening, I could really use some help right now!
The chirrup from her pokemon and the sound of pavement cracking as it froze told Misty the attack had hit.
Someone screamed in rage, and the footsteps behind got faster.
Misty broke into a run, feet pounding against rough gravel. She’d reached the harbour now, and she knew if she kept running this way she’d be cornered. Up ahead, a streetlight illuminated a corner and an abandoned warehouse.
Spurred on by the fear pounding through her veins as fast as her heart could beat, she decided to try to hide.
She neared the corner, trying not to think about the insistent footsteps and inhuman cries she heard behind her, and almost gasped in shock as a pair of arms wrenched her into the thick, cloaking shadows.
She almost gasped, but couldn’t, as there was the small matter of the man's hand over her mouth, and the man's warm body pressed up against her own.
“I’m not going to hurt you,” a soft, husky voice breathed in her ear. “I want the same thing you do: safety. Stay here with me, and soon they will be gone.”
She looked for her Marill, as the familiar weight on her shoulder was gone. Instead, she saw a Pikachu, dark and dirty gold, its paws covering her pokémon’s mouth as they crouched in the shadows.
She couldn’t see the man behind her, but she could feel him. His heart beat as fast as her own, hammering against his ribs and her back. His head rested just above her own, her head fitting snugly into the space under his chin. He was strong, she could feel the muscles in his arms, but she could also feel his ribs through his ragged clothing.
Well, this is strange, thought Misty as the pursuing footsteps slowed, and eventually stopped.
I bet he has no idea where I went.
Unfortunately, she was wrong.
He couldn’t quite tell what had made him interfere, but perhaps it was the desperation in her breathing as she ran. He’d snatched her from the street, and into the safe shadows, hoping -there was something that he hadn’t done in a long time- that her sudden disappearance would be unnoticed. Pikachu had grabbed the woman’s Marill, and the small pokemon crouched beside him. She hadn’t struggled when he’d grabbed her –he guessed she’d been too surprised- and now she was quiet as they waited.
His words seemed to have reassured her, and he knew she could feel his pounding heart against her back.
Briefly, as he became aware of the gurgle of the blood pounding through her veins, and the sweet scent of her, he wondered whether he had not snatched her from death, only to bring her to another way to die.
She was so close to him, and so unresisting, he could have bitten her and she would not have cried out.
But then, targeting innocents was never his style.
I always preferred my meat to try to bite back. The leader was right to call me a fool. But then, blood always tastes best when spiced with danger.
He knew that if she were a feeder –and there were many females out there- she would have been dead by now.
But, she wasn’t, and he felt strangely responsible for her safety.
Too little sleep and too much blood has messed with my mind. She is no one I know, and should not be important to me.
The footsteps, which had previously halted, started again, and headed towards where they were hiding.
He felt, rather than heard the woman’s sharp intake of breath.
“Damn.” He whispered, and drew her back further into the shadows.
“I am sorry for this, but I have no other choice.”
His teeth sunk into soft flesh.
When Jake saw the meat disappear, he knew that someone had snatched her into the alley.
He slowed, and peered cautiously into the alley way.
Although he couldn’t quite see through the shadows, his eyes would soon adjust.
He heard muffled movement, and knew the female meat was not alone.
I hope it’s not that shadow. The leader’s insane to keep a feeder to feast on others like himself. Feeder don’t drain feeder. Everyone knows that.
His eyes adjusted, he could just make out two figures.
“Gotcha,” he hissed, flicking a torch onto the pair, hoping to blind, if not stun the thieving feeder in the alley.
Instead, the feeder blinked, and raised his head from a bloody shoulder.
The woman was unconscious, slumped against the feeder as he lapped greedily at the blood on her neck and shoulder. Her torn shirt exposed a glimpse of pale flesh, and dark, sluggish blood dripping slowly down into the shadows of her clothing.
“She my feed!” he snarled, and the thief snarled back, long teeth wet and bloody.
“Mine!” he roared, and Jake decided that it probably wasn’t a good idea to challenge this one.
He knew blood-lust when he saw it.
“Mine! My meat, mine! Get gone!” the thief snarled again, and from the shadows, a Pikachu with the darkest eyes Jake had ever seen growled softly.
Jake, having seen the madness in the eyes of the thief, fled.
There was a feeder who had tasted the blood of another feeder, a feeder that preyed on his own kind.
A cannibal, insane, for everyone knew feeder blood was tainted, and drove you mad.
Best to find other prey this night.
Misty had been shocked when she felt warm blood splatter her shoulder, and felt her shirt torn, but she’d heard the whispered instructions in her ear.
“Stay still, stay quiet. Close your eyes, and no matter what is said, no matter what happens, do not open them.”
Misty had done as she was told, and hastily stifled a gasp as she felt a smooth tongue chase away the blood on her shoulder, the blood that wasn’t hers.
The argument between the man holding her and the man chasing her had been fast and harsh, and in some sort of dialect she didn’t understand, although she’d gotten the gist of it.
The other man wanted her, and the man who held her had claimed her for his own.
When the other man had fled, the man holding her had let go, and spoken.
“You can open your eyes.”
She did, and turned to face her saviour, and saw nought but shadows.
“It is best if you do not see me. It was my blood you felt, not yours. It is unsafe for you to be alone like this, especially since you are here and unarmed. Your Marill is strong, as are you –I felt the muscle beneath your skin when you moved- and I have no doubt you can defend yourself well enough against both human and pokemon, but you would not fair well against something that is neither.”
She squinted, and even though her eyesight had adjusted to the gloom of the alley, she saw nothing.
“I suggest you follow me. You will have to wait till morning to get where you were going, as it is too dangerous now. At least they are not foolish enough to attack in broad daylight, although I suspect the time will be soon that they do. I will take you somewhere as safe as I can, considering the circumstances. Come.”
Footsteps echoed, and a soft chirrup from the Pikachu she had seen earlier told her which way to go.
She didn’t know if she could trust him, whoever her mysterious saviour was, but he was better than the fate she had narrowly avoided. She hadn’t liked the term ‘meat’, and especially not when she had been referred to as someone’s ‘feed’.
Misty shivered, and followed the moving shadow.
He looked back occasionally to see if she was still following, and she was, although the expression on her face was mixed fear and confusion.
She must have realised that she had narrowly avoided becoming the third murder that night.
“I will not hurt you.” He said, and she looked vaguely in his direction.
She flushed guiltily –even in the gloom from the dim streetlights he could see the blush spread across her face- and tried to stutter a response.
“It is a reasonable assumption. After all, ten minutes ago I was lapping blood from your shoulder. The fact that it was mine is inconsequential.”
He stopped and darted through the pillars of a run-down warehouse.
He’d often thought that there were a lot of empty buildings around this area, and considering what they were home to, he didn’t wonder why.
“You will soon be able to sleep. I cannot do anything about the blood, I am afraid. I cleaned as much off as I could, but there had to be some there to make him believe you were bitten.”
She seemed anxious as she followed him through the abandoned building, and up to the office which he had made his nest.
Pikachu snorted, and nudged the Marill to the door. She hadn’t been bitten, and he knew that Pikachu could have easily broken her neck.
He was pleased he had restrained from doing so, as Pikachu was prone to temper tantrums when hungry.
The room they reached was neat, if dark and bare. The only thing in it was a mattress and a pile of blankets, and a mirror and sink off to one side in the office’s small bathroom.
He closed the door behind her, and she flinched.
She shook her head.
“Don’t. I should be thanking you. You saved my life.”
He shrugged, not entirely sure he should be thanked when he had entertained the notion –no matter how briefly- of killing her and feeding on her himself.
Her Marill leapt immediately onto the mattress, and snuggled into the pile of blankets.
They were reasonably clean –he’d stolen them from a hotel only two nights before- but he hoped they did not smell too much of his sweat.
She looked embarrassed, and admonished the small pokemon before he stopped her.
“She is tired, as are you. Sleep. I will not harm you. I have eaten already tonight.”
Even if it was small –who would’ve thought that such a big man would have so little blood- and distasteful. I will not hurt you. I worked too hard to keep you alive to bother killing you now.
She hesitated when he said that, and there was fear in her otherwise pleasant voice when she spoke.
“You’re one of them, aren’t you?”
“What are you? Who are you? And why should I trust you?”
“You should trust me for if I had wanted to hurt you, or keep you as mine, you would either be dead or unconscious by now. What I am is a feeder. Who I am is something neither important nor prudent for me to tell you. You might be the one to report my name to the police, even if you were grateful for your life.”
She yawned, and sank onto the mattress, pulling at her shoes.
“What’s a feeder?” she asked sleepily as she fell onto the blankets.
He smiled –for what seemed like the first time in years- as he pulled the blankets over her.
“The living dead. Nosferatu. Dos Vampyr. A vampire.”
She was asleep before he had finished talking.
Pikachu and he continued to watch her for a very long time, almost until dawn, before they too succumbed to sleep’s wiles.
“She wasn’t at the train station.” Brock frowned as he hung his coat on the hook behind the door. “I waited two hours, but she wasn’t on the train. The next train from Indigo doesn’t get in till tomorrow.”
May bit her bottom lip.
“Gods, Brock, I hope something didn’t happen to her.”
“She would have called us if she was hurt or in trouble. My guess is, she got the dates for her trip mixed up. I bet you if I go there tomorrow night, she’ll be waiting.”
“I hope you’re right Brock. I hope you’re right.”
Misty sat bolt upright, the nightmare having jolted her out of sleep so suddenly, she passed from asleep to awake in a blink of the eye.
Her nightmare had been so gruesomely visceral that she had sweated in her sleep.
Marill slept beside her, bathed in the morning sun that filtered in through a cracked and dirty window.
She blinked slowly as she took in her surroundings.
She was huddled in a pile of blankets on a mattress, which rested on bare wood floors.
The room she was in appeared to have once been an office of some kind, but the desk was now gone, and the only furniture was the mattress. A door led to a small bathroom of some kind, and she was alone. Hesitantly she peeled back the covers, determined to give herself an once-over to determine what had happened. As she examined her torn shirt, and tried to scratch the dried blood from her partially-exposed bra, she froze.
Footsteps, coming from the left side and slightly below.
She blinked, and was unable to react as the door eased open, and a figure stepped through, bearing what appeared to be a coffee cup.
“You are awake. I trust Pikachu did not disturb you?”
The huddle of blankets in the corner of the room she had taken to be a pile of rags moved, and a dark-yellow ear flopped out.
The figure who stood in the doorway could have been no other than her saviour, if only for the smokiness of his voice.
A face that would’ve been handsome were it not so gaunt smiled at her. The action seemed unfamiliar, and the smile sat oddly atop that perfect mouth, and uneasily on bloody lips. Half-lidded eyes as dark as oil spills met hers, and she was forced to look away.
The hunger in that gaze was unnatural.
His clothes were an assembly of rags of all different sizes and shades, ranging from dark grey to dark green, but all were sombre. He passed her the mug, and her hands brushed fingertips that were unusually long and callused.
“Water, I am afraid. Neither Pikachu nor I drink coffee.”
“Thank you,” she murmured trying to look any where but those mad, thirsty eyes.
“It is morning, and you will be safe –or at least as safe as a lone woman can be in a city such as this- in the daylight. I will not come with you, for I do not like to be out in the sun overly much.”
Because you’re a vampire! Misty’s mind screamed, and she knew it was true. What else could he be with such long and sharp teeth, and the bloodstained mouth? And the hunger in those eyes indicated an unnatural lust of some kind, and the lust for blood was as unnatural as they came.
He smiled at her again, and she tried –and failed- to suppress a shiver. He laughed.
“Do not fret. I will not bite you. I do not harm those whom I have spent so much time and energy to protect.”
She laid the cup down –the water, although clean, was stale- and pulled her shoes on, rousing Marill from the bed.
“I suppose I should thank you somehow...”
He laughed again.
“How? I have no use for money, I do not want for any material object, and I am alone among my kind in that I do not lust over anything bar my next feed, so your body –however beautiful it is- will not tempt me. The only way you could thank me would be to leave and not tell the police of my whereabouts.”
She flushed at his previous suggestion, and once again, he smiled.
This was a different smile, crooked and so alike to someone’s she had thought gone and forgotten that her heart clenched.
His eyes, previously alight with madness, glowed with mischief.
“Yes, I do not think you would tell where I was, for no one would believe you. Even if you yourself do not believe that we are real –as we most certainly are- I suggest that you avoid walking at night. Next time, I will not be there to save you.”
His tone grew colder, and his eyes hard.
“Well, I thank you again,” she said, and headed slowly for the door.
She froze and turned, afraid that the hospitality he had extended would be gone and instead he would lunge, sharp teeth gleaming and bare...
“What is your name? I would warn the others to keep away from you.”
Misty let out a small sigh of relief.
“Misty. Misty Waterflower.”
With that she slipped out the door, not noticing the look of utter shock on the face of her vampiric saviour.
It cannot be! It cannot be!
Pikachu, who’d woken when her name had been spoken, jolted out of its pile of blankets.
“Pika?” he asked, both curious and afraid.
“It is her,” he breathed, and once again he saw her, saw her the way she had been shortly before she had left.
Ginger hair in the disarray of sleep, tendrils curling around her face. That nose, ever-so-slightly turned up at the end, and dusted faintly with freckles. Blue eyes, warm and soft with sleep, but wide with the fear she had felt near him. Pink lips and pale skin, and a delicate bone-structure. An elegant neck, and a slender body.
Still slim, as she had been as a child, but no longer scrawny.
Ash felt a sigh shudder through him, and unconsciously he licked his lips. That hot, clawing flower of hunger and blood-lust bloomed in his stomach as he thought of her.
He’d been able to see the delicate tracery of veins and arteries below her skin, almost been able to hear the thud of her heart.
He could smell the blood on her, could almost taste it...
No! Do not think like that! You are not like them!
He shook himself viciously, trying to push away the desire she had awoken in him, the desire for a part of her that he knew was entirely unnatural and likely to remain unsatisfied, even if he visited the city’s most... accommodating... brothels.
Pikachu head butted his leg, expressing the concern for his once-trainer and now partner in crime non-verbally.
“Gods, Pikachu, I thought she was dead,” he whispered to the empty room. “And to think, if I had not found her last night, she would be.”
He shivered again.
If I had not been able to control myself, she would have been dead even if I had saved her.
Misty couldn’t suppress the feeling that she knew the man from somewhere, although she wondered if such a loose term applied to him.
She’d met a vampire!
She didn’t think that they really existed, thought they had all just been made-up monsters that parents used to threaten their children, like the Boogey-Man.
And then, she’d seen him.
Why did he save me? From what he looked like, and the hunger in his eyes, he could have just as easily eaten me!
That was true.
There was a desperation in his eyes that said that he was on the edge. She wasn’t sure why though; apparently he’d fed earlier that night...
“What if he was the murderer?” she asked, stopping in the crowded street she had been walking down, and holding Marill tighter to her chest. “What if he was the one killing everybody?”
It was a possibility, she had to admit. She’d seen those eyes; he had killed and would kill again. But then... there almost seemed to be a desperately noble quality to him. He saved her, and he hadn’t needed to, and he’d been kind to her... had it all been a ploy?
“No,” she murmured, placing a hand on her collarbone, just above her torn shirt. “He wasn’t playing. He was for real.”
Her skin still tingled where he’d washed away the blood, and she could still smell him... sweat, that male-scent that was uniquely his, and the sickly sweet hint of blood... it was, now that she admitted it, rather attractive.
Gods, girl, snap out of it! You’re fantasising about someone who would just as happily eat you for dinner!
Misty shook herself again, and ignoring curious stares from the passers-by, gasped.
“Oh gods! I forgot to call Brock!”
“And where have you be- ye gods Misty! What happened to you? Did you get into a street fight or something?” Brock seemed shocked to see Misty outside on the footpath, and paying a taxi-driver.
After she’d handed the man a tip –only a small one, as he’d made very suggestive comments about her torn shirt all the way to Brock’s house- Misty turned and walked up the driveway.
“Good to see you too, Brock.”
Brock seemed horrified to see her shirt torn, and her shoulder speckled with blood.
“You’re bleeding-” he began, but she cut him off.
“It’s not mine. You would not believe the night I had.”
May, who’d emerged from the door, still in pyjamas even though it was a quarter past nine, rubbed her eyes sleepily.
How’d you end up like that?” she asked, just as horrified as Brock. “I can see
Misty yawned. Even though she’d slept well –apart from the nightmare- and even though that bed –it was more of a nest really- was quite comfortable, she still felt tired.
“Yeah, you and half of Indigo. Sorry I wasn’t on the train last night, Brock. Ran into trouble.”
“I’ll say,” muttered Brock as she walked past the pair, and into the house, where a gob-smacked Max dropped his spoon into his cereal, and stared at her open mouthed.
“I’d tell you guys about it if I thought you’d believe me, but for now, I’m going to have a shower. C’mon Marill.”
“-two victims were found last night. Police had previously believed that the second victim had been the one responsible for the crimes, but are now unsure. It is not known whether these recent spate of killings are linked to other murders previously found in Indigo city. Investigations are continuing-”
The few people that inhabited the smoky night-club during the day cheered and laughed. A few pokemon howled.
When Ash opened the door, those same jubilant voices screeched angrily at the raw sunlight streaming through the swirling smoke of the nightclub. Pikachu leapt in, all but disappearing into the gloom as Ash shut the door.
He made his way through various groupings and couples –not all opposite genders, and not all the same species- and ignored the sight of a pair of female feeders squabbling over the body of a dying human. His eyes were blue and desperate, and his blonde hair caked with blood, but Ash ignored him, and soon his death cries blended into the dischord around him.
Once, I would have stopped. Once, I would have cared.
He approached the dais of the dim, smoky room –the one lit by red lights hiding in the clouded roof- and brushed away curling tendrils of bloody smoke.
“Well. I believe that it is you we have to thank for the entertainment.” The shrouded figure waved a hand vaguely in the direction of one of the nightclubs many bracketed wall-mounted televisions, each which cast flickering blue light into the gloom.
Ash sunk to his knees, and touched his forehead to the floor littered with cigarette butts. Pikachu, beside him, did the same, and then leapt onto his shoulder.
A chuckle from the figure in front of him, and a gust of smoke as he stood. He couldn’t make out the woman seated; all he could see was the red light of her cigarette, and the gleam of her eyes in the shadows.
“Another of your foolish comrades gone, and another dead at your hands. Were you not one of mine, I would fear you.” A harsh smoky chuckle.
“But, I made you. Therefore, your hand cannot turn against me, no matter how much you wish it would.”
Ash felt his fists clench in anger, but kept his face impassive.
Behind him, the male human screamed once, and died, and Ash could hear the grunts, barks and snorts of various assorted pokemon as they squabbled over his entrails. On his shoulder, Pikachu shuddered.
“Still, I do have to wonder why I keep you. You are dangerous, and although you cannot kill without my permission, you are still prone to independent thought. Not a good quality in a slave.”
“Perhaps for sport, lady?” he asked, and knew that the words shouldn’t have been said.
He could feel her claws, could hear the snap of her teeth, and knew death approached him.
I am ready to die.
She laughed. Death, it seemed, was too good for him.
“Yes. For sport. And you are useful when it comes to... disposing... of your colleagues once they rebel.”
Her eyes narrowed and she blew a narrow stream of smoke into his face. He could feel the sting of it as he drew it into his lungs, and the tingle as his body repaired itself with an inhuman speed.
“I would tell you that my favour will be withdrawn if you ignore my orders again.” She yawned, and the cigarette was flicked to the floor.
“The feeder’s rite will be soon. I require you to find me a sacrifice. A good one.”
Ash turned to leave, noting that in his past, he would have objected, but now merely thought of how to knock the poor innocent unconscious before they were captured.
“Perhaps the woman you saved last night.”
His breathing slowed, and he tried not to let the anger, and above all the fear, show.
How could she know? No one saw us. How could she know?
And then, as his eyes scanned the room, looking furiously for an answer, he met the gaze of the fool-feeder from last night, the one that had been chasing her.
The feeder swallowed, and Ash’s eyes narrowed.
Even as he contemplated the fool-feeder’s violent and bloody death, her voice shattered his reverie.
“Yes. That woman. She will do me well. Tell me of her.”
He turned back to the woman, the woman seated on the dais, upon the make-shift throne of scrapped and twisted metal.
“A beautiful girl, and a kind one,” even as he spoke, his mind dredged up memories. “Brave and loyal to a fault. She would lay her life on the line to save a friend.”
She certainly did for me, once.
The woman smiled; he could see the glint of her teeth through the smoke.
“Yes. She will make a good sacrifice. Perfect to bind those outsiders to our court. I trust that you will bring her to me?”
“Let me find you another-”
A throaty chuckle, and a viciously beautiful smile which did not meet the eyes of his leader.
“Once, it would have amused me to see you struggle with replacing an innocent with another, but I think not this time. Deliver her to me. I will brook no replacement.”
Ash was tempted to say that he would not, but knew that even if he refused, she would still be taken. Better to die at the hands of an old friend than those of a stranger...
The woman on the throne sighed, and a smooth pale hand –with long nails crusted with something dark and unspeakable- went to the pendant at her throat.
A crucifix, worn upside down.
The catholic faith –one of Kanto’s little-known cults, and not a very popular one- believed that vampires could be banished through holy relics and blessed water.
Poor ignorant fools.
He turned from the throne, past the couples and groupings –a few cried out, whether in agony or ecstasy he did not know or care- and through the doors.
Black peeling paint crackled off in curls as the door slammed, and he stepped out into the raw sunlight.
Hot water washed away the blood on her skin, and chased away the lingering shadows of the night. Marill giggled as she skidded through the steamy bathroom. Misty rolled her eyes as she massaged shampoo into her hair.
“Well, my pet, was that an unusual night or what?”
Marill chirruped in agreement, and rooted through the pile of discarded clothes on the floor, searching for the chocolate bar she knew Misty had in her pocket.
“That was one night I’ll never forget. And for all the wrong reasons.” Misty shuddered, and washed away the peach-scented foam.
Marill nodded an agreement, mouth full of chocolate.
“If that man hadn’t been there, I don’t know what would’ve happened.” She paused, thinking back to those mad, dark eyes. “He seemed familiar... I wonder if I’ve seen him anywhere before?”
Misty thought for a moment, and stood still in the shower, peach-scented lather dripping onto the enamel base.
She shook her head, and wiped shampoo out of her eyes.
“Nah. If I’d seen him walking down the street –and I doubt I’d forget after seeing someone looking like that- I’d remember.”
Reaching for the body wash, she shrugged.
“Guess he just had one of those faces that is familiar, you know? Although he reminded me of Ash, when he smiled like that. Poor soul.” Misty unconsciously made the sign to ward off bad spirits, and blinked away stubborn tears that stung her eyes.
“Must’ve got soap in my eyes,” she muttered, wiping them with the back of her hand.
The girl suddenly shivered, cold for all the hot water that rushed over her, and the steam-choked air that clung in her throat.
To her, the quiet of the bathroom –broken only by the spill of running water and the whirr of the fan- suddenly became the quiet of the tunnel, dark shadows oozing from cracks in the plaster, blinding her, choking her, his screams all around her as those things fed on him, the sound of tearing flesh rent the very air-
The tunnel was gone, she was in the bathroom, and the shadows were no-where to be seen.
Marill chirruped urgently, knowing something was wrong.
“I’m fine, Marill. Really.”
Marill looked up forlornly, and knew she was lying.
Crowds parted as Ash walked through the streets of Indigo; not through respect or fear, but because he looked gods-damned weird.
Not many men as tall as him would willingly have a Pikachu perched atop their shoulder.
He’d changed into an outfit that looked somewhat human, and washed what blood had remained off him.
All the same, in an ultra-modern black coat and black pants, shirt and boots, with shaggy black hair sliding over his shoulders, he looked like a gothic-freak who’d gotten lost from the circus.
It was, Ash felt, entirely appropriate.
The court he belonged to –against his will- was led by their Lady, and Ash had found himself high in the hierarchy for some unknown reason. Perhaps because he fed on others like him, a disturbing habit in the eyes of many, but something that their Lady leader found... interesting. The gothic-look suited him, because most of the court dressed in black –with the exception of the Lady, who always dressed in white, for some perverse reason- and because only a feeder could truly pull off the gothic look.
Many of them shared the same beliefs as the Gothics, although feeders truly did worship darkness.
They also kept humans as pets.
He’d freed more than one, slipping a knife into shackled hands, and lending a helping hand of his own to those who lacked the courage or the strength.
Others had refused his offer of freedom, trapped not by shackles on their limbs, but shackles in their minds.
Those he had freed wandered the astral planes now, perhaps seeking lost and loved ones, perhaps seeking revenge. He did not know.
The freak suited him, because inhuman as he was, the feeder blood in his veins had altered his appearance. A feeder could always spot another feeder.
He could see a few of them in the crowd, the occasional face with the sharp cheekbones, the occasional pair of shiny, mad eyes.
More than one refused to meet his gaze, and he felt like laughing.
black Murkrow amongst a crowd of bright-coloured Taillow, Ash strode through
towards the train station that would take him to the last place he would like
to be, and the place where he thought he would find her:
“What’s cooking? I’m starving,” Misty pulled a seat up at the so-called breakfast bar, pale cheeks flushed pink from the hot shower. She was dressed in clothes neither blood-spattered nor torn, with the night’s clothes finding their way into the bin, along with the full bottle of soap she had emptied getting clean.
Marill leapt up onto the bench, and pleaded silently with Brock for a morsel of some kind.
Brock, long used to such techniques –his cooking was famous among his many siblings- ignored the pokemon.
“Marill, if you want some, you’ll have to wait with everybody else. Well, we’re having pancakes, Misty.”
Misty licked her lips, and for some reason, found herself thinking of her saviour.
He looked like he’d always be hungry.
She shook herself, trying to squash the thought before it grew more prolific.
Behind her, seated at the kitchen table, May sighed impatiently.
“C’mon Brock! You’re taking forever!”
Brock frowned, and flipped the pancakes.
“Good pancakes take time, May. If you would prefer raw ones –where the batter is lumpy and only half-cooked- you can cook your own. If you want some of these, you’ll have to wait.”
May scowled darkly at the table cloth, and Misty felt oddly out of place amongst the everyday, normal goings-on of this house.
Right on cue, Max stumbled sleepily down the stairs; hair looking like he’d used a fork to comb it, and glasses haphazard.
He’d made an effort to change into ordinary clothes, unlike May, who was still in pyjamas, although she did have her bandana on.
“There. I’m dressed. Satisfied?” asked Max, and Brock expounded on a long explanation –even as he dished out breakfast- that having a shirt on inside out and pants back to front was not dressed.
Misty took her seat at the table, faced her pancakes, and lifted her fork. Beside her, May sloshed lemon juice over her stack, and upended the sugar shaker. Max drowned his in maple syrup, and Brock muttered about the pair of them being ‘philistines’ as he layered his with butter.
On the kitchen bench, Marill watched her, concern showing in dark eyes.
Misty, unsure of why she no longer felt hungry even though the pancakes smelt so good, laid her fork down.
Among the hubbub, no one around the table noticed.
The clean air of Cerulean was spiced with salt, and Ash felt the smog being chased from his lungs. Pikachu sighed happily as he dug his toes into the sand.
Ash smiled wanly. If only they were both pleased so easily.
They walked –no, he walked, and Pikachu trotted beside him- along the beach, and the sand crunched under his boots, reminding Ash of all the times that he had visited the beach as a child, most of the times being at her bidding.
Every time we came near a beach, we would have to stop, and she would run full-pelt into the waves, clothes and all.
He shook his head abruptly, chasing away the stubborn thought.
Do not think of her. Do not. You saved her once, and now it is at your hand that she will meet her doom. Her blood will join the others that stain them. Do not think that you can save her, because you cannot. She will die, as all mortals must die.
He blinked back hot tears that welled.
“That is strange,” he whispered as he walked, ignoring the concerned look that came from Pikachu.
In all of his many years, he had not cried once since that night –that gory night where his tears had mingled with his blood- and now he was crying.
Unheeded, fat tears rolled lazily down gaunt cheeks.
Feeders did not cry. They did not. To cry was a sign of weakness, and anyone who did so would be killed off.
The wet tears stung as they trickled down, hot and salty, and they tasted bitter when they reached his mouth.
“Why?” he asked Pikachu, but the small pokemon –usually so attuned to Ash’s mind he could almost hear his thoughts- could not answer.
It was only after Marill clambered onto the table and started gnawing at Misty’s breakfast that the others noticed she wasn’t eating.
“Misty? Didn’t you like the pancakes?”
“I’ll have ‘em if she doesn’t want them,” mumbled Max around a mouthful of his own.
“You still hungry? Geez, Max, you already had a bowl of cereal and some toast, not to mention those pancakes you’re stuffing into your face. What you want hers for?” May shook her head in disgust as her brother rolled his eyes at her.
“No, it’s not that Brock. I’m just not hungry, is all.”
Brock eyed Misty, concerned, and not believing the girl.
“What happened to you last night? Something’s got you rattled, and I’ll bet a week of dish duty that it’s something to do with last night.”
Misty refused to meet the older man’s gaze, concentrating on the pattern in the tablecloth.
Before her eyes, the gaps in the lace changed until they loosely resembled Zubat.
“Excuse me,” she murmured, pushing out her chair, and leaving the table, consciously aware of the way their eyes followed her as she walked up the stairs.
Marill watched too, concerned, but then turned back to the plate of pancakes, stomach taking priority over heart.
The crowds of Cerulean were smaller than those that swamped Indigo, and the faces more open, but even so they still shied away from him as he walked.
Ash was distantly aware of the changes that had overcome the city; it was larger, the decorations of the city still ocean-themed, if somewhat shabbier. And it seemed... sick... somehow, as though there was some parasite feeding off its good citizens...
A feeder, disguised as one of the crowd, met his eyes and bared her teeth.
So even here is not safe... we are everywhere, like a virus that continues to spread.
Pikachu scrambled up his back –he could feel the pokémon’s sharp claws poking through fabric- and rested on his shoulder.
The crowd continued to part before him like the sea before a ship, and he ignored the looks of passers-by as he headed for the one building he knew would be the same as it ever was: Cerulean gym.
Misty closed her eyes, ignoring the man in the doorway.
“Misty, if there’s something wrong...”
“Nothing’s wrong Brock. I’ve just got a headache. Don’t feel much like eating, even if you’re the one who cooked.”
Footsteps, slightly muffled by the carpet, grew closer, and the springs groaned as he perched on the end of the bed.
“You’re a terrible liar. Absolutely terrible. Something’s bugging you. I want you to tell me, or I’ll...”
Misty suppressed a laugh.
“You’ll what?” she asked, sitting up and opening her eyes.
“I’ll dip you in Dratini-baby food and put you in their pen at the breeding centre. You’ll be licked to death. Now tell me, unless you want to end your life as baby-chow.”
Misty smiled wanly at the rather imaginative threat.
“Sorry, Brock, I just feel... I dunno, funny I guess.”
The springs groaned again as Brock stood.
“You know I don’t believe that.” He looked around the room, and saw that her suitcase was once again packed.
“Going home, are we?”
“No-where’s home anymore Brock. No-where’s home.”
“Well, if you want a home, there’s always here.”
Misty smiled, and opened her eyes.
“Yeah, I know. All the same, gotta go. One of us has always got to be on the move, you know. One of us has to be a traveller, like he was.”
She stood and hugged him.
“One of us has to remember him.” she whispered.
I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget. How could you have died like that? How, Ash? How?
“I guess there is nothing I can say to make you stay, huh?”
Brock’s face was filled with compassion as he let her go.
Misty shook her head.
“Well, make sure you’re careful in the forest. Viridian might be smaller than it used to be, but it’s still filled with crooks. If you want to head for Vermillion, I suggest you take the shortcut through the tunnel-”
“No. Not the tunnel.” interrupted Misty. “Not the tunnel. I’ll go the long way, even if there are Rockets in the woods.” Misty’s eyes were cold with fear when she spoke.
“I’m not going through the tunnel again. There are worse things in the world than bandits and Team Rocket, Brock.”
Brock nodded, understanding the reference to his death, all those years ago. He still remembered the look on Misty’s face when they had found her, found here alone in that cave, drenched in blood, eyes vacant and curled into a ball, the dying screams of her friend still ringing in her ears.
He didn’t know what had passed that night, but he knew it was something that had scarred her, something that brought shadows into her dreams that all the night-lights in the world couldn’t chase away.
CERULEAN GYM: CLOSED FOR DEMOLITION.
The sign was old, chipped and worn, paint faded in the hot light of the sun.
The gym itself was dilapidated and decaying where it stood, tiles missing from the roof, and the outdoor pools green with slime and various organisms that one would not have found there ten years previous.
Ash grimaced and kicked the locked gates, rust crumbling and spraying the ground around him.
Perhaps it was a good thing that she was not here. If she were not here, he could go back and say so honestly, and perhaps she would be spared...
No. The Lady will merely ask that I search harder. And there is no way I could disobey her if directly ordered. I am her slave, her little errand-boy, and she delights in my murderous tasks...
turned, shading his eyes as he stared into the sun, watching the broiling
ocean. Sunlight shimmered and coalesced on the sea, and he looked beyond it,
his gaze flitting over the crowds, the buildings, and settling on the deep
green shadow of
If I were running from the past, where would I hide?
His eyes narrowed.
Once, he would have fought back. Once, he would have done anything rather than deliver her to a death slow, painful and bloody.
Even though Ash Ketchum had died, died that night of gore and tears, what remained of him would not let him lead her to her death.
Maybe, just maybe, he could warn her. The Lady would not expect him back so soon. Perhaps, she could be found and warned...
She need not die at my hands...
gaze focused on
Pikachu chuffed quietly, and Ash nodded.
His death need not be in vain.
END PART ONE
AUTHOR’S NOTES: Hooray! Vampires! Vampires have to be one of most favourite ghoulies, although I like fairies too. (Now, if you think fairies are pissy little flower sprites, you should read some of the old Celtic legends, or the book Tithe, by Holly Black, which also inspired this fic.) Anyway, this fic is pretty gory so far, and it’s going to get more so. If you have a weak stomach, I suggest you don’t read on after having a greasy meal. Especially nachos. (Ooh, don’t eat nachos and watch a gory movie or read a gory book. Trust me on this.)
I’ve called my vampires ‘Feeders’ because I think it suits the more urbanised kind of blood-sucker, and I’ll explain how these vampires come to be in the next part, which won’t be for a while. Sorry, but I’ve really got to finish part two of M,W&TA, and I’ve got heaps of homework these holidays. I just wanted to put this on the net so my friend could read it, seeing as I can’t send it to her.
The title comes from a song by Garbage, and I liked the sound of it. It doesn’t really have anything to do with the story.
As always, don’t mind any spelling mistakes. I try to get them all, and really I should be able to find them as an avid reader, but I miss a few every now and then.
Thanks to my friend (you know who you are) for all the help with vampire lore –which I’ll be putting into subsequent parts- and to everyone who reads these. (So far I’ve gotten two reviews! Hooray, that’s almost a cult following! Well, sort of.)
Please review. You don’t have to, but it’d be great if you did. My email address is still email@example.com (no, I was not one drugs when I thought that up. Admittedly, I had drunk a lot of soft drink, and I had just eaten a whole pizza, but I wasn’t on drugs. Or drunk. Really.) and any reviews, no matter how critical, would be welcome.
I’ll try to update as soon as possible, and try to add other fics to the site as soon as I finish them.
Thanks for reading,