The Beginning of Forever
He doesn’t know how the hell it happens – one minute she was just another person in the crowd, but then he sees the eyes, eyes no human would have, like shining bronze. He laughs out loud at the realization, wondering if he should start looking for a copper-eyed vampire next, seeing as how vampire eyes seemed to encompass every metallic shade in the cold metal rainbow.
But then she sees him, and the next instant, she is gone.
Who the hell…?
This is not someone he really knows, and yet… somehow…
Now he remembers, clear as glass, the description of the vampire that had turned Tina.
“I don’t remember who it was,” Tina says slowly. “She was… pretty, I guess. But all I really remember are her eyes. Kind of like Khue’s eyes, but… darker, more brown, sort of. Like bronze.”
“Whoever it is, the chances of any of us seeing her again is pretty unlikely,” Khue notes. “You were turned in Washington, and now we’re in New York, so… yeah.” She shrugs.
“What was she like?” Sonya asks, a slight frown on her face.
“She looked our age,” Tina’s voice is almost mournful. “She was… scared. Terrified.”
“In other words, just like us.” Nick’s words fall upon them like the weight of the world.
“Damn it!” And he explodes from his stand-still in the crowd, jostling others about in his haste. “Wait, wait!”
She never looks back, just keeps on running. And she was too far ahead, even for Nick, the fastest of the four, to even hope that he could catch up.
But he had to know, had to know why she had done it, why she had forced their hand to such desperate measures. This life, this freedom, was glorious, but everything and everyone they had left behind… it just didn’t balance out.
So, so many tears. Nick bitterly remembers the discovery that even vampires could cry.
Then he pushes the memory to the back of his mind, and runs for all their lives are worth. And somehow, he finds the speed in his desperation to catch up to her, and he grabs her by the shoulders, spinning her around, ready to scream his heart out at her –
And he stops.
Fleeting flashes of color, and laughter, run through his mind like a movie reel, as he stares at the delicately featured face, and the notorious bronze eyes that haunt their minds.
“Ana,” he breathes, and the name is like a time machine, bringing them back to over fifteen years prior.
“Nick! Give that back!” Sonya yells, as he makes off with her backpack, but Khue is already on his heels, and he nimbly leaps over a bench, unheeding of the bystanders.
“Bastard, get back here!” Gritting her teeth, Khue barely clears the bench as Nick roars past the other school groups, unmindful of the other students shooting them looks varying from amusement to exasperation. However, she sees something Nick doesn’t as he cackles over his shoulder, and barely manages to skid to a stop in the wet grass of the park. “Damn it, Nick, watch out!”
Shrieks and yells ring out from one of the school groups in front of him, and his eyes widen when he slips slightly and he goes flying headfirst into the feet of a group of eighth graders from another school.
“Hey, dude, what’s the deal-“ starts another boy from that group, as Khue sprints lightly upon the grass, with Sonya right behind her.
“Sorry about that; I ought to apologize for my classmate’s misconduct,” Khue hisses out the last word through clenched teeth as she roughly pulls Nick to his feet, before reaching down and handing Sonya her backpack. Glaring at him, Sonya slaps him on the back of the head.
“OW! What the hell?”
“My sketchbook had better be intact,” she grumbles, yanking open the zipper.
“Nice job, Nick. Really.” Khue smiles sardonically before delivering him another slap upside the head.
“Uh, it’s okay,” one of the girls says, looking slightly mystified. She extends a hand to Nick. “I’m Ana.”
“Nick.” He grins, shaking her hand. He gestures at the two girls beside him. “The one with the backpack is Sonya, and that other one who was chasing me is Khue.”
“Chasing?” She laughs. “Ooh, are you playing hard to get?”
“Hell no,” they simultaneously shot back. Furiously shooting each other death glares, Khue picks up off the conversation.
“He’s just an idiot-”
“-but an idiot who is my friend.”
“And you actually wonder why girls everywhere seem to hate you?”
“Yeah, I can’t seem to find a good reason…”
Sonya rolls her eyes, and Khue sighs, before they hear the sound of someone yelling.
“Sonya! Khue! Nick! Get back here, Mr. Mcfall’s got something to say to you guys!”
“Crap, that’s Tina,” Nick winces.
“Well, we’re in deep shit now,” Khue mutters.
“Thanks to somebody running off with my backpack,” Sonya retorts. “Come on, let’s go.” She runs off, and Khue follows, gesturing to him to catch up.
“Hold on, just a sec,” he calls back. He looks back at the other girl, with the warm blue eyes. “See you later.”
“Later,” she says, smiling slightly, and he trots off after the others.
“Nick? Nick!” Her voice snaps him back to the present, and he curses himself for drowning in the metallic gaze like a lovesick fool.
“Ana,” he says again, only the nostalgic tone is lost, and replaced with cold indifference.
“That’s my name,” she laughs slightly, but the humorous edge dissolves in the atmosphere.
“You killed Tina,” he starts, but his voice is hoarse, guttural, like that of a beast’s. Recoiling internally in disgust at the sound of his own voice, he continues on wantonly. “You killed Tina, you killed Sonya, you killed Khue, and you killed me. Did you know that?”
“What?” Her eyes widen, and the sudden pang of recognition in her eyes is what fuels Nick’s fury even further.
Unconsciously, his grip tightens on her shoulders, as the desperation and years of pent-up anger in his voice is finally clear. “The girl you turned the night of the cruise – it was Tina! And just guess what happened after that! We lost everything, everything! Our families, our friends, our humanity – everything but each other! Do you realize – did you realize – what you did? How did you even find Tina, how – ?”
“I don’t know!” Her yell cuts off his tirade, leaving him suddenly tired, but no less angry, no less curious. “I just… I was attacked… and then I was hungry. I couldn’t handle it.” She laughed darkly. “You know that saying, that you’re so hungry you could eat a cow? I actually did. I drained a cow on a farm, because I couldn’t stand a couple days without blood.”
“Then why’d you attack Tina? Easy prey?” he sneers. Then he realizes he doesn’t really want to know the answer to that.
She only averts her gaze. “I was hungry,” she says softly. “And I wasn’t thinking.”
His hard eyes soften slightly. He can still remember the hunger, the utter gnawing at his gut and the thirst was so terrible, not simply like being lost in a desert without water for miles, but like being tied up with food and water just out of reach for weeks, so close, so close…
“Have you thought about it since then?” he asks, his voice low.
A pause. “Yes,” she murmurs. “I didn’t know it was your friend.”
“Would it have made a difference?”
“I don’t know. Maybe.” She still refuses to meet his eyes. “So then she turned you?”
"I'm... I'm sorry." And somehow, the words lighten something inside of him, just a little.
Now he looks away, and sighs. With great effort, he releases his grip, and his arms fall limply to his side. He turns away, and starts walking.
She looks after him, unsure of how to say goodbye, when he turns around, a slightly annoyed look in his eyes mixed with mischief. “Coming?”
Ana stares at him in disbelief. “What?”
He smirks, and flips his hair slightly. “What? Oh, I know, the hair’s so sexy it leaves you speechless, right?”
“Now I know why those girls wanted to kick your ass,” she chuckles. “But seriously, I thought you were pissed at me.”
She looks bewildered now. “Then… why…?”
He sighs. “Technically speaking, you’re just like us. And as stupid as an explanation that is, yeah, I get that you couldn’t help it. Tina couldn’t. Sonya couldn’t, Khue couldn’t, and I would have probably killed someone else if we hadn’t escaped the night I was turned. Plus, you’ll need someone to keep you from getting into the three-on-one catfight that’s likely to happen when we get home.”
“Home?” Ana blinks at him, suddenly wary.
“Yeah, it’s weird, dysfunctional, but it’s what we’ve got. Home.” He smiles slightly now, a little bit twisted at the corners, but sincere.
“How are they going to take it?” She falls into step beside them as they get moving. “Won’t they hate me?”
“Tina’s not one to hate, but I don’t think she’ll be very happy at first. Sonya will probably somewhat pissed until we give them the story, and Khue will probably cross-examine you to death until she makes up her mind.”
“Sounds great,” she winces.
“Yeah, doesn’t it? Then we can be one big, insane, fucking vampiric family. Therefore, all the more reason to get it over with.” He grins wickedly before he latches onto her wrist and pulls her after him. “Let’s go!”
“Wha- hey, Nick! Nick!” She’s laughing too hard to really protest as Nick pulls her along, and as they run through the crowded streets, it almost feels like flying.
He glances over his shoulder, and she can’t help but smile back at him, feeling like she just ignited a spark of joy, happiness, and something... special. Something more.
Maybe it’ll be okay after all.