Tina dashed through the streets of New York – just another passerby in a hurry. But what happened next made her heart stop. As she sprinted, free in the darkness, a stranger caught her eye – but not just any stranger. This was no stranger. This was someone she knew, someone she loved. If it had been anyone else, she would have probably just kept running. But a decade was nothing to a vampire.
And he had seen her. No one ever saw her these days, be it as a vampire or a human, except for Sonya, Nick, and Khue. To any others, she was just another night person in the city that never sleeps.
“Tina?” The deep voice had grown with the passing years, but it was no less familiar. As she looked up from the ground, her gaze trailed upon the casual slacks to a simple polo shirt. She froze. Her silver eyes locked with his.
And suddenly, she was hyper-aware to everything, at a level that even surpassed a vampires – the lights were suddenly too bright, burning, painful, like the sun (didn’t matter that it was night and not day), the crowded streets suffocating (didn’t matter that she had no need to breathe), the space between them too far (didn’t matter that they were standing only an arm’s width away), and the tension too high (didn’t matter that they’d barely said a word, and hadn’t for ten years).
“T-Tina… it’s you? But – how –“ His eyes were wide, disbelieving, but he still hoped, hoped that she was still here, and that she had not simply vanished into thin air on the DC trip, fifteen years ago.
The headlines were daunting, and there had been crying, so much crying…
He fidgeted awkwardly as he reached for the cereal box, eyes casually glancing over the newspaper on the table, when something caught his eye.
‘Disappearance of four teens on school field trip, page B6’
He froze. There was no way… no way…
Movements suddenly frantic, he nearly tore the newspaper in his haste, fingers hurriedly flipping to the right page. And there, at the top of the page, in bold letters, was the truth in stark black and grey.
‘Four Teens Go Missing On Trip to Washington D.C.’
He tried to read the article, but his eyes blurred slightly when he reached the bottom of the page. The photos, and the captions, all listed in alphabetical order.
‘Nicholas Alcala, age 14, a cello player with three years experience and promising potential, an avid basketball and football player…”
‘Sonya Dockham, age 14, a trombone player with two years of experience, a member of the surf club and girls’ basketball team…’
‘Khue Tran, age 14, a bass player of three years and cello player of one, a member of NJHS, guitar ensemble, and girls’ basketball…’
Then he stopped at the picture, Tina’s yearbook photo, smiling perpetually at him with empty eyes of black from the ashen grey of the newspaper.
‘Tina Tran, age 14, also a bass player of three years and cello player of one, a member of NJHS, guitar ensemble, and girls’ basketball, as well as Vice President in JMS’s Leadership Committee…’
‘The search is on for these four teens, but as they went missing over three thousand miles from home, without any trace, this could very well be nothing but hopeless attempt. Their families will be grateful to any information someone could lend to them on the search for their children, and as of now, on JMS campus, a candlelight vigil has been set for this evening, to hope and pray for the safe return of their alumni…”
Hot tears made their way down his face without him noticing, staining the newspaper, causing the ink to bleed.
Six hours later, he was there. It had taken a lot of begging and wheedling, but there he stood, in front of JMS, eyes raised to the sky in hopes of a sign, something that would tell him, that Tina was okay.
He lowered his eyes, glancing about him. There were others there as well – their parents, their friends, their teachers. Some who they had not known at all, but came to give them support as well.
His sights were raised to the darkening skies again.
“Bring them home. Bring her home. Please.”
“Tina… I love you.”
“I-I’m sorry, you must have me mistaken,” she stammered out, and his wild hopes were crushed again. How could he have hoped that this was her? The Tina he knew and loved would be twenty-four now, not fourteen anymore. June 26, 2007, was when they had disappeared. Today was June 26, 2017.
Ten years to the day. It was too much of a coincidence.
“I-I’m sorry, you just look like someone I lo-know,” he was saying to her, but she barely registered it.
He… he doesn’t have a wedding ring.
And as much as that thought made her happy, she felt almost like she had been holding him back somehow.
“Well... um… sorry, for surprising you,” he began hesitantly. “Thank you, and… good-bye.”
Tina’s world shattered right about there.
And throughout all this, the others had been watching – Khue from down the street, Sonya from a rooftop, Nick from a balcony.
Tina stood there, frozen, numb. Her vision blurred as she stared at him as he turned, and walked away, step by step.
Each of his footfalls seemed to echo, as they became further and further away, in time with the beat of her cold, cold heart.
Step. Step. Step. Step.
Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump.
Her shriek was lost in the murmurs of the crowd, but she took no notice, as she suddenly moved without thinking, going after him. None of the others had missed it.
“Khue! Get her!” Nick yelled, as he suddenly leapt down off the building. Sonya was already gone from the balcony, but both of them were still too far away – Khue, however, was close enough. Even so, she just barely grabbed her friend from behind and pulled her into a tight hug, meant more to comfort than to restrain.
“Let me go! Johnny! Johnny!” Paying no mind to the scene she was causing, Tina squirmed in Khue’s grasp, kicking and yelling. Ignoring the stares they were getting, she made a futile attempt at pulling Tina back, just as Nick and Sonya appeared.
“Tina, calm down! We’re here, we’re here,” Sonya said, in a desperate attempt to soothe Tina’s frayed nerves. “It’ll be okay-“
“Don’t lie to her, Sonya,” Nick cut her off roughly. Sonya glared obliquely at him.
“It was Johnny, it was really him,” Tina murmured, her struggles lightening slightly, but Khue didn’t loosen her grip.
“We know,” he sighed. “We saw.”
“I need to talk to him, that’s all.” She was lying through her teeth, and they all knew it.
“Tina, we can’t risk something like this, we just can’t,” Nick said firmly.
“This is one person we’re talking about, not the world!” Tina insisted.
“It’s a chance we can’t take,” Khue hissed.
“You mean that it’s a chance you won’t take,” Tina said, silver eyes glinting as she glanced over her shoulder. It wasn’t a question.
Both girls locked stares for a moment, silver boring into gold and vice versa.
Khue let go.
And Tina darted after Johnny.
Nick’s eyes widened before he tried to close his hands on Tina’s arm, but she was already gone.
He and Sonya both rounded on Khue.
“Do you realize how stupid that was?” he hissed, eyes more panicked than angered.
Khue shrugged noncommittally. “Then we’re both idiots. To err is to be human, isn’t it?”
Nick snorted. “And we all know how human we really are.”
“Yeah, but if I remember correctly, the rest of that saying is ‘to forgive is to be divine’, isn’t it?” Sonya added thoughtfully.
“If the two of them can forgive such a long absence, they deserve a chance, don’t they?” Khue said, looking down the street.
“Girls can be so goddamn sappy sometimes,” Nick muttered. Khue scoffed.
“Shut up, you.”
“Okay, you know what? You two really do argue like a married couple,” Sonya shook her head, as she walked the other way, back to the house where they were hiding out. They both gaped at her in shock, before diving after her.
Her laugh was all that could be heard after that.
The cries cut into his mind, separate from the constant chatter of the streets of New York, and he turned to see a figure running towards him.
The young woman from earlier. No, wait…
He knew it, he just knew, that it had to be her. There was no one else it could have been, no matter how many other people there were in the world. This was Tina, his Tina, that he knew and loved.
As she leapt into his arms, hugging him back before kissing him softly, he put the thought to rest.
She looked back into his eyes sadly, and he stiffened.
Silver. He had noticed before, but he thought it was just a trick of the light.
What was going on here?
“Johnny,” she said, her voice as sorrowful as her eyes. “We need to talk.”
It was past noon the next day when Tina finally slipped back in. All three of them were waiting in the kitchen for her.
“Good grief, Tina, and here you’re complaining about me staying out past sunrise?” Khue muttered, only half-jokingly, as she leaned against the doorway.
“You told him everything, right?” Sonya asked, barely looking up from her latest sketch.
“Yeah,” Tina answered, hair falling across her face like a curtain as she sighed.
“How’d he take it?”
“Okay, I guess,” she drew in another shuddering breath before letting loose a small laugh. “Other than the fact that he was a little freaked, until I told him we weren’t going to eat him. And he promised he won’t tell anyone.”
“And what, after that you kissed and made up?” Nick smirked, without even glancing up from his DS.
“Shut up, Nick,” Tina said through clenched teeth, but the corners of her mouth were upturned.
“So that means you did, didn’t you?” Khue smiled. “Are you sure that’s all you did?”
“What – oh, ew, Khue!” Mortified, Tina’s face turned bright red. Khue rolled her eyes, as Nick snickered and Sonya’s shoulders started shaking from trying to hold in the laughter.
“Come on, Tina, you know you want to,” Nick teased.
Glaring at him as she turned slowly, he let out another cackling laugh.
“Besides, we’re legal now, eh?” He waggled his eyebrows at her for a sec before Khue suddenly walked over to the refrigerator to grab a soda, and casually slapped the back of his head before she opened the door.
“Ow! You bi-“
“You were asking for it, alright? That part, I didn’t need to think about. Seriously,” Khue shuddered, before sipping her drink.
“I’m going to have to agree with that,” Sonya remarked wryly, before returning to her drawing.
Nick let out a ‘psh’ sound, before looking back at Tina, all humor gone. “Seriously, though, Tina – when you go visit him tonight, remember – what you choose, is going to affect all of us.”
“How did you know-“
“Tina, you just saw him again after ten years,” Sonya answered, pencil flying across the paper. “Of course you’re not going to miss a chance to see him again. You love him.”
“Yeah… I do. And it seems like I have forever,” Tina replied breathlessly.
Khue’s eyes were shaded. “And you could have forever, if you chose to.”
Tina felt a cold chill steal over her when she realized the total extent of their words.
“I… I need to think about this.”
And she walked out of the kitchen, with three pairs of eyes following her as she left.
Six hours later, Sonya opened the door to call Tina out.
By then, the silver-eyed vampire was gone.
Tina sat in Johnny’s lap, gazing out at quarter moon in the sky above the towers from the open window.
“You really did scare me, you know,” he admitted, kissing her head as she nestled in his arms.
“I know. I’m sorry,” she replied softly.
She turned in his arms, breathing in his warm scent once more, before tilting her head up and shifting to kiss him on the lips. Her lips parted slightly as she dropped her head, and she kissed his jaw.
But he didn’t stop her. Silhouetted against the clear, dark blue sky, Tina closed her eyes, before edging her lips down his jaw line, his breaths catching in his throat.
Tina could feel his heartbeat, could almost picture it beneath the delicate skin of his neck…
Thump. Thump. Thump.
Her lips parted slightly, allowing her fangs to grace his neck…
Thump. Thump. Thump.