Ben stares at her as she talks. She thinks the house and the people are the things that matter to him. She thinks his agitation stems from something this house had done and that he should be nicer because it will effect them out in the field. It almost has him laughing. Almost has him slapping a knee like that’s the funniest shit he’s heard all day. He does snort, smiling an incredulous smile as he shakes his head. He holds up his hand. “Hippy bullshit,” he spits back at her.
He doesn’t elaborate. He doesn’t tell her that the reason he’s out here isn’t because of this place or his position in it. It’s a house. He could care less about it or the people that are inside. He could care less about some synergy bullshit that will make them work well in the field together because as far as he’s concerned, Mitchell will give him a direction and say go kill and that’s what he’ll do. It’s what he’s best at. Muscle and violence and that doesn’t require being able to work with anyone. That doesn’t require looking out for anyone but himself. He doesn’t tell her that he’s out here because he misses his woman. That his bed seemed too empty and that he was just trying to resist the urge to call his brother.
He calms down after that, because it’s pointless to be so angry with her. He hates when people talk back to him like they’re any sort of threat or balance for him. He could rip this house apart in a heartbeat. His kill count for the 200 years he’d been alive is higher than he can remember. And most of them had been innocent little fucks like her. But he calms and rubs a hand across his mouth. “Go ahead. Start again.”
Melissa inclines her head, lowering her hands. “Hello.” She starts, smiling hesitantly. “I’m Melissa Gale, you can call me Melissa. And I’m a witch.” The woman is aware how ridiculous she sounds, like some addict at an AA meeting. This is my name, this is my problem. It’s almost enough to make her laugh but given the situation, her smile simply widens as she takes a small step forward, stuffing her hands in her jean pockets as she looked past him to a bushel of roses in full bloom. They were white and stood out vibrantly against the greenery that surrounded them, so for a mere moment she allows herself to wonder how it is that something so beautiful can be so altogether irritatingly bright. Maybe she could be like Alice and simply paint the roses red? That would solve everything, right?
Looking back to where Ben stood, the woman’s shoulders rose and fell in the smallest of shrugs as she continued walking, careful not to get too close to the man just in case, and yet close enough to where she could see the blues of his eyes with almost perfect clarity. It was a wonder she was even able to see that they were blue at all given how upset the man was, which made her brain start to grind as she worked him over curiously with her eyes wondering at the idea of him. She wondered how old he was, what all had he seen? Maybe one day whenever he was in a less volatile mood she hoped that she would be able to pick his brain, the woman generally curious, as always, in regards to his species as well as his own personal background. Why he was so upset.
The woman refrains from asking though and forces her gaze back to the bustle of roses, her smile thinning out into a grim expression before she turned back facing the man. “So how long you been here at Greystone, Ben?” Melissa asked, hoping she wasn’t seeming to prying or annoying. Then again if she was being annoying she was more than sure that he wouldn’t hesitate to inform her, but still. She didn’t like how all of this was making her seem, like a prissy know it all. Sure, she admittedly knew a lot, but she didn’t want his first impression of her to be a horrible one, and quite genuinely she did want to help him, even if he didn’t want her too.
The lounge was apparently not often occupied by many people. This made it particularly appealing to Jasper. He found the grand piano and the aesthetics of the room to be fizzing and lively, but he had heard it described as ‘outdated’ in passing somewhere. Jasper quite enjoyed it, however, and decided to seat himself and read— an activity that he was certain he would be partaking in often during his time here.
It was comfortable and quiet, the air seemingly still. Jasper began to scan over the words, wondering if maybe the more current fiction fantasy novel was something he was actually going to enjoy or not. Still, he decided to give it a go anyways, diving into the first chapter determined not to succumb to complete boredom. He had managed to convince himself that it wasn’t half bad if you ignored the blatant plot holes.
He was comfortable where he was, but he had been having fleeting thoughts about getting some fresh air before the sun ruined his chances. That was definitely the most unpleasant thing about being a vampire in Jasper’s opinion. He couldn’t remember a time when the sun warmed his skin. His prolonged life had faded many childhood memories, and it was a reoccurring habit of Jasper’s to attempt to look back that far anyways. He was staring at his lap, not even paying attention to the words on the page anymore.
It wasn’t often like Melissa to lose something, especially a book, but before they had left for their mission in her haste to get everything together and ready to go for the trip, somehow or another Melissa had misplaced one of the books that she had been studying. She’d searched every inch of the library coming up with nothing, and would it have been anybody else they probably would of given up by now, but the witch was adamant. The book hadn’t been anything out of the ordinary, small, leather bound, old, and quite truthfully rather dull, but Melissa valued all knowledge, no matter how boring the subject was painted to be. After all, knowledge was knowledge, and even if the author didn’t believe in the importance of their work, there were always people out there who at least appreciated their efforts. Like Melissa.
At this point, the woman didn’t even know how late it was, or early, having just finished turning her bedroom upside down only to leave empty handed with an irritable scowl furrowing her brows together. She’d retraced every step she’d taken before they had left but still nothing, and as a librarian it was truly frustrating to find herself the irresponsible one when it came to something like a book. It didn’t help either, that for the past week that they had been back it had been one thing after another occurring, leaving the woman feeling less and less like herself with every day that passed.
As Melissa wandered down the halls of the manor, going from one room to another in a hazed cloud of thought, she paused as she came to the lounge, staring at the piano with a tilted head before moving towards the object in small hesitant strides. She’d been here before they had left, she recalled, unaware that there was someone else in the room as she lifted her hand to her mouth and bit at the stubbled nail on her thumb. It wasn’t for very long, still she remembered sitting at the piano reminiscing about some distant memory of a long forgotten man who had once been her father. He had played the piano. As her gaze ran over the keys, black and white, black and white, the woman sighed heavily and turned to leave pausing then as something caught within the corner of her eyes.
"Oh." Melissa stepped back, startled, her hand covering her chest as she stared at the man sitting in one of the chairs. "I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to disturb you." She apologized, attempting a smile that looked more like a grimace as she rubbed at her collar bone. "I didn’t even realize anyone was here, didn’t really expect it either as people don’t usually frequent this area of the manor." Melissa’s gaze narrowed. "And I don’t think we’ve exactly met yet, have we?"
Billie could hear the screaming first, filtering in through her headphones as she listened to music through her laptop while looking through recent obituaries online. At first, she thought it was part of the music, since it was a heavier styled song, but after a moment she realized it wasn’t and the sounds were accompanied by the smell of smoke. Billie tossed her headphones onto the bed and grabbed her gun before walking towards the sound. If she was lucky, someone might have lit a vampire on fire, but she was rarely lucky.
She didn’t like not being prepared and she mentally kicks herself for not having kept her shoes on. Instead she’s barefoot and it shoes off the chipped red nail polish she had put on before they had gone to the swamp. there wasn’t any on her fingers and the only reason she had worn any at all was because she’d been bored one afternoon. Her shorts are higher than she would normally fight in, not that she ever wore shorts to fight anyway. On top of that, she was in a t-shirt that had belonged to the Priest. Just a simple black one that hung a bit too large on her smaller frame. She wasn’t dressed for a fight, and if that’s what she was walking into, she was gonna be pissed.
Reaching the door where smoke is drifting out of, the screaming has stopped, but Billie isn’t about to go back to bed. Her fist reaches out and pounds on the door just before her voice rings out. “Open the fuck up! What the hell is goin’ on in there?” she shouts, and if the whole house woke up she couldn’t have given a flying fuck. “You got ten seconds or I will break this goddamn door down!”
The woman jumped at the sound of fists pounding on her bedroom door. She’d known it was coming, had been expecting it from the moment she had seen the flames flickering against the dark of night. She just hadn’t been expecting Billie to be the one who came knocking. Melissa had recognized the woman’s voice almost instantly as she shouted at her from the other side of the wood. Tossing her pillow across the room and onto the bed she wiped her hands off on her bed sheets before looking down at herself. Her night gown, a light pale blue, was covered in ashen stains and even worse, as she caught sight of herself in the mirror above her dresser, her face was pale and her eyes, they were glowing.
"Shit." Melissa cursed under her breath, as she forced her eyes closed relinquishing everything that had her tensed up. She could feel the magic pouring from her at this point, but the more she breathed the less she could feel it until at least it was dulled to a bearable pain in the pit of her stomach. There wasn’t the slightest of doubts within her mind, but even still, Melissa found herself looking around her room once her eyes were open in a frantic states, looking for anymore damage and finding none. Which only meant one thing.
At the sound of Billie’s fists pounding once again against the wood of Melissa’s door, the woman shook her head and crossed the room, unlocking it with a deafening click and pulling it open just enough so that Billie could see her face. The woman looked pissed and Melissa knew that she would end up regretting this in more than one way later, but still, she forced a smile and feigned innocence as she poked her head further from the doorway. “Yes, can I help you?” She asked in the nicest librarian voice she could muster, her lashes fluttering as she spoke.
Ben stops his pacing when she speaks and he frowns at her because the wording is usual to him. Her first? What does she expect from him? Is he a disappointment because he’s not wearing a cape or turning into a fucking bat? The thoughts are angry and vicious and it’s nothing he honestly means in the moment, she’d just caught him at an inopportune time. For her. He’s not the most social or best with this type of talk on any day, but especially not today. “Glad to be of service. You want me to pop any other cherries, you let me know.”
The words are crude, but they’re Ben. It’s how he’s always been. Even before he died, even in the monasteries where he’d been raised, he had constantly been getting in trouble for the way he spoke. Dying had only escalated it. Dying and what he’d been through in his life had only amplified a personality filled with vulgar, off the wall comments because after his time in the desert, it didn’t seem like he could ever go back to trying to fit in. It didn’t seem like after what he went through, the world would ever allow something like him to fit back into it in any capacity other than sticking out like sore thumb. He hadn’t tried to dumb himself down over the years and even though he was here and trying not to be a violent man, it didn’t mean he had to change his mouth or how it operated.
"Do I look like I fucking sparkle to you?" he snaps and he’s so sick of that god damned movie ruining every first encounter he has. That’s not vampires. That won’t ever be vampires and if it was, he’d fucking murder himself. She apologizes and he just waves his hand at her because he doesn’t need or want apologies. If he wanted them, he’d tell her to apologize. He’d tell her while he had his hand around her throat squeezing the life out of her until he got what he wanted or until he heard bone snap. That though it more tempting than he likes to admit. "You want a piece of advice? You see a vampire pacing around in your backyard…?" he waves his hand around to motion where they are. "You don’t fucking run your mouth at him unless you’re ready to have your head removed from your body."
At this point Melissa is uncertain how to respond. Even before she’d approached him she had known that this man was on edge, but now she could feel his animosity vibrating off of him like a living entity. The look in his eyes was nothing but the darkest form of anger and it made the woman shudder as she lifted her gaze to meet his. She realizes he’s threatening her, but even as he waves his hands around his voice growing louder, Melissa is already winding herself with a protective layer of magic. If he were to touch her now, he would regret it, and even if he didn’t the fact that she knew she would be able to stand her ground against him was enough to make the woman lift her chin just a notch higher as she stared at him blankly.
She’d read somewhere that when Vampires transitioned that the characteristics they had exhibited before dying were often elevated to a whole new level. Feelings, memories, all of it was heightened on a permanent level and sometimes for newly turned vamps that was usually enough to drive them insane. The Tenebrae had places specifically for beings as such, and for the briefest of moments Melissa can’t help but wonder if perhaps they had gotten it wrong with this one. Did they know how short this fuse was, how easily baited he could be? Then again, Melissa also knew that she was probably the last person to be passing out judgement at this point and instead of opening her mouth to counter him, she simply swallowed at the spit in her throat and forced a smile.
"I mean you no harm, and again, I do apologize for my behavior. I’m not trying to agitate you, I promise, I just…want to help." Melissa offered, lifting her hands in the air in a way that suggested surrender. "I know…this place can be a bit much to take in at first, believe me…and I can’t honestly say that’ll get any better but those of us here…we’re all each other has when it comes to the field. We have to look out for each other, even if we don’t want too. So…" She shrugged staring at him with wide hazel eyes. "How about we try this again, okay?"
She was dreaming. It was the sort of dream that made you wonder if it was real or not, and if it was, then did that, in turn, mean that reality was the real dream? Whatever the case, Melissa often found herself in situations like this. Dreams that she wished were real in lieu of the reality that she always awoke too. When she was a little girl, before the coven, before Robert, before Orias, Melissa had been one of those girls with unrealistic expectations of how her life would go. Even after her mother had died, she’d kept the hope that one day she would meet a man, fall in love, have kids and then to them she would teach everything that her mother had once taught her. It would be her way of keeping her mother’s memory alive, so that even during the darkest of night’s Melissa didn’t feel quite so alone.
That’s what she had been thinking of as she’d fallen asleep, her mother’s grimoire spread out on the bed beside her, the pages stained from the passing of time and bookmarked with a black and white picture of a woman with long raven hair and slanted brown eyes. Would her mother even recognize her now? A little girl grown into the body of a woman, and a woman grown the epitome of a monster. Ever since the events that had unfolded during their mission out in Fort Bidwell, Melissa had become more and more uncertain of herself. She could feel herself slipping. Falling. It was like watching someone shooting a gun before ever having pulled the trigger. She just knew that something was happening but she was incapable of discerning how to stop it.
In her dream she was happy. Her mother was there, holding a dark haired little boy with large dimpled cheeks. They were in a garden, surrounded by color and bathed in white light. There was a glimpse of the boy’s father whose hair was dark as well but his face was obscured in ways the only made sense in dreams. And she wasn’t afraid. Of all things, she wasn’t afraid. There was the thrum of sound that echoed around them, of laughter and conversation, but behind that there was something else. Like the sound of a clock, ticking. Something that at first Melissa couldn’t quite recognize, but the more she thought about it the more clear the sound became. It ticked and it tocked and the more it ticked the louder it got until finally Melissa could hear nothing but the thunder of time, shaking through her, vibrating through her chest, and pouring from her lips.
She hadn’t realized she was screaming until the fire that snaked across her bed sheets caught onto the book beside her. Without even having time to figure out what was going on she was working at the fire with her pillow, the room filling with smoke as the purple flames flickered out, burning away at the corners of her mother’s picture before disappearing with a hiss, which to Melissa, sounded a little bit too much like the sound of laughter. Her pillow was ruined now but not as much as the book, and while the book was in bad shape, it was nothing compared to the remaining shreds of her picture. The man who had been standing in the picture beside her mother was completely gone now and all that was left of her mother was a portion of her face, her smile gone, lost to the flames.
Coughing then, a sob caught in between the heaving of her lungs, Melissa stumbled from her bed. Her room was still caught in shadows save for the small lamp on her bedside table, so as she flicked on the overhead light the woman could only grimace at the sight before her of what was left of her bed. Even the floorboards look darkened from the heat of the flames, and while she should have been more worried about the remnants of her personal effects, all she could really feel at the moment was panic at the idea of what would happen once Sebastian found out about this. Because even if she didn’t want to admit it, simply by dreaming she had almost just burned down the house. And even if she wanted to ignore it, by now she was more than sure someone would be able to smell the smoke.
Who intimidates you in the group?
Sebastian. My life is in his hands and if at anytime he suddenly decides that I’m no longer worth it…then that’s the end of it.
The words grate on him because they’re condescending and judgmental. They’re nothing he needs and nothing he cares for. He didn’t have to offer her any excuse for his behavior but he had because he was trying. Trying to be a better person and a better man and when all he gets in return is attitude, it makes it not seem worth it. He stops his pacing to stare at her standing up there on the porch. The temptation to just go up there and show her exactly what he thinks of her attitude is heavy, but he doesn’t move. No matter how tempting it is to just wrap his hand around her throat. It doesn’t stop the words from coming next. “Don’t give a fuck what this organization was founded on. Don’t give a fuck about anyone else’s bad day. I do give a fuck about you giving me lip, though.”
It’s the closest thing to a threat he’s come since he’s gotten here. It’s nothing he follows through on, though it does bring up the worry in his mind about how much pushing he’d actually take from a person before he snapped on them. Mitchell’s words about honoring the dead come to mind and he’d never do that to Alex. But he also had a temper. And if she was expecting any sort of explanation or apology, she was sorely mistaken about what kind of person he actually was.
"Ben," he says, the name grit from between his teeth. He makes another lap in the place where he’s been pacing before holding his hands out to the side again. "New housemate." He says the words with a smart tone because he’s sure she’s fucking thrilled to meet him. She caught him in one of his moods, but he was also dimly aware that most people who meet someone new don’t start in with a lecture first thing.
"Ben." She nods her head as she speaks, her gaze dropping as if she’s turning something over in her mind. "You’re a vampire, aren’t you?" Again the woman recalls overhearing something about this from somewhere but she can’t quite remember who or where she’d heard it. Melissa looks back up and stares at him intently as if trying to discern something on the edge of impossible, and then all at once she’s standing in front of him, preventing him from continuing his pacing any further unless he went around her. The woman tilted her head to the side, her gaze narrowed, her breath even. "You know you’re my first."
Melissa rakes her gaze over him with a calculating expression on her face. She was sizing him up, or tearing him down, either way she was dissecting the idea of what he was inside of her mind with books and science and the smallest hint of religion. “You don’t sparkle, I take it?” It was a joke of course, but she wasn’t smiling. Just staring at him with big doe eyes. The woman was only subtly aware that she was perhaps behaving oddly, and afraid she had crossed her own personal zone of comfort as well as his, she took a step back, clearing her throat as her lashes fluttered in embarrassment.
"Sorry, again." She shook her head, squeezing her eyes closed and mentally grimacing. "I’m not usually like this, I promise or if I am I don’t suppose I’ve ever really noticed. Either way…" Melissa forced a smile, her knuckles creaking as she balled her hands into fists before flexing her long and delicate fingers against her side. Maybe there really was something wrong with her after all. As the thought crossed her mind worry flickered across her features causing her smile to waver for a split second before she could catch herself. "I’m Melissa. Melissa Gale."
Roy watches her move to her jacket out of the corner of his eye. The shift in mood is palpable and he knows it’s because of him. Because he doesn’t take things seriously. There’s no urge to tell her why. No urge to apologize or make amends for it or to offer her anything more because that’s the way he’s purposely kept it for fifteen years now. Keeping a veil over any sort of honesty so people wouldn’t recognize it even if he gave it. Some days it got int he way of getting what he wanted, but most days it was just safe. It kept everything hidden, kept it safe and he knew that’s the way it needed to be. It needed to be safe. Less could go wrong.
At the mention of Billie being disoriented, he had to think for a moment on who that was. It dawned on him that she meant Boo Radley and he hadn’t pegged her for an alcoholic on missions. It almost made him laugh thinking about Mitchell trying to deal with that. Because drinking while out on a hunt wasn’t something Roy even did. Not if there was a chance of coming up against something that might try to take him over. He needed his mind to be clear in these sort of circumstances.
"Yeah, tell him I say ya at eeh," he waggles his brow at her and it’s almost a test to see if she knows what it means or not. He’d picked up a few things here and there in his long years. He was pretty sure Mitchell knew what it meant and it was nothing bad or powerful. The man still probably wouldn’t be amused if she actually followed through because it was such a small thing and Mitchell had lost his sense of humor a while ago. Along with other things. Still, he wondered if Melissa knew what it meant, how cultured she was and he wouldn’t be surprised either way because it had nothing to do with what they could do. Nothing to do with demons, at least not the demons of their culture.
He’d wonder again what she thought of this whole situation, what she thought of the Tenebrae and the mission she’d been chosen to have as her first with the organization. He didn’t know how this hunt would go, other than the witch would be dead because there was no other way this would end. But he wondered how they’d do it, how they’d perform and if anyone would be hurt in the process. Greystone had a pretty good track record with avoiding injuries. For the most part. But the influx of new members and conflicting personalities was bound to lead to some of them. Mitchell had his work cut out for him.
"Hagoonee." Melissa smiled her response, as if that could actually be considered a test. The idea made her laugh, and while shaking her head she turned towards the front door, pausing with her hand on the rough brass knob. Even if he didn’t realize it, Roy had just revealed a little piece of himself, and the idea made her smile widen as she looked back where he still lay sprawled across his bed. In one evening, she had learned several things about this man. For one, he knew Navajo, which was interesting all in itself seeing as how many people these days couldn’t even bring themselves to learn something as elementary as Spanish. Secondly, he apparently didn’t hate cats, however she was still unsure if he actually liked them or if he had bought the magazine simply out of boredom. And last, but not least, there was something very, unnervingly wrong with this man.
The woman cleared her throat at the thought as she turned her gaze back on him. There was still so much she didn’t know, so much that she wanted to know. It was fundamentally her greatest flaw, the way she craved knowledge. Some people didn’t realize how powerful it really was. Like knowing someone’s names. In some cultures, simply knowing the truth behind someone’s name meant you had power over them. Like that old tale of Rumpelstiltskin. The thought made her look away, grimacing mentally at how much she had given of herself to this man, and still she had no idea why she was so enticed by the idea of him. Maybe it was the not knowing, or maybe it was something else. Again there was that glint of darkness in his eyes, something that mirrored whatever it was that was inside of herself, and yet somehow despite everything pulling against her, Melissa managed to turn away.
While prying the door open, the wood squeaked on it’s rustic hinges as the full force of the heat and humidity wafted into the room and curled it’s way around Melissa like tendrils of smoke. Already, without even having moved, the witch could feel beads of sweat forming across her brows and around the back of her neck up under her hairline. If it was one thing in particular that she hated about the west it was the heat. The way the air clung to her lungs making it feel almost impossible to breathe at times. Either way, Melissa sucked in a deep breath as she lifted a hand and waved awkwardly at Roy. “I guess I’ll see you around then.” She commented, careful to meet his direct gaze. “Try not to get into too much trouble with your Cat Fancy and Playboy now.”