At some point mid-slumber, I found myself awakening to the soft cries of Clarice. Pondering this, I decided to go investigate, shifting into a crow and hopping on into the living room. The vampire was sitting up, propped between the armrest and back cushion, sobbing softly and shuddering.
Her nostrils flared, and I immediately could tell she scented me. In fear did she draw her legs to her chest, sniffling. “Come take me then, get it over with. They all see me as an object, bet you do too…” Clarice whimpered, no doubt having a panic attack. I recognized as much and felt a disturbed pang in my gut. This was horrible, what she’d gone through. I didn’t know how the hell I was gonna make it better, but now was the time to start.
Rather than do what she expected, I hopped onto a small wooden table in front of the couch, still a crow obviously, and fixed her in my beady red stare. Suddenly I opened my beak, letting my tongue flop out, and began to dance. It was goofy, I spread my wings and balanced on one leg at times until finally I got her bursting into hiccups and giggles. She appeared confused. Finally, she asked, “What the hell are you doing?”
After giving one more wiggle of my tail feathers, I hopped off the table and shifted to normal, straightening up. “Uh, duh. Tryin’ to make you smile. You’ve gone through a lot, and I know you prolly wanted to be left alone. I can go do that again, return to bed and all tha’ shit. But I figured, maybe, jus’ maybe… this could help.”
Clarice stared at me for a good long while before finally standing, and rolling her shoulders back. She tossed the blanket I’d given her aside and lunged at me, taking me into a hug. I tensed, surprised, but returned it, providing my classic crooked grin. After a moment she pulled away and returned to sitting on the couch.
“I did need it,” she confirmed. “You’re a weird bastard. You know that? But… I like you. Not in that lovey dovey bullshit way. We just met. No, I like who you are. You coulda done a number of things by now. Coulda even just told me to shut up. Instead? You’re here trying to make me smile. Thank you. Really.”
I nodded, providing a bow and ignoring some strands of my hair that fell into my face. She just shook her head and chuckled. I said, “Call me ‘The Dancin’ Crow’. Wait, don’. Ares is much shorter and easier. You know that though.”
The vampire gave another chuckle and adjusted so that she was laying on her side upon the couch. “Listen. I don’t know your angle right now, but I know it ain’t malicious. So, let’s talk some more tomorrow. Huh?”
I nodded in confirmation, giving her a thumbs up. From there, I retired to my bed again, feeling much happier now that I could help cheer her up even if just a little. At least now she wasn’t utterly terrified of me. Thank gods she didn’t know who I really was, though. To other vampires, I was practically the boogie man. Owch.
I was in deep sleep, dreaming about fighting monsters or whatever. Something jabbed at my cheek though, and I swatted at it. Another poke, and finally I opened my crimson gaze and fixed my eyes upon Clarice. She raised a brow, giving a snort. “‘Sup tough guy. You’ve been sleeping in for hours. We were going to talk today. I did some walking around, didn’t touch much, but saw the shit you had on display. You’re a big geek, aren’t you?”
I yawned, flashing my fangs in the process and rubbing my eyes. “Huh? Whatcha mean?” I sat up, glancing about for a bit and then back to her.
Clarice paused, looking around my room before letting out a cackle. I furrowed my brow as she picked up a book, one of those vampire novels I’d been studying. “Are you serious? I never took you for reading sappy shit like this.”
Snorting, I scoffed. “Oh don’ get your panties in a wad, I’ve been researchin’ what humans think about us. Because… uuuh… I was a street rat in a kingdom prior to the streets here. So I needed to figure out wha the fuck humans thought of us. Clearly a lot of bullshit,” I muttered. I stretched, cracking my neck and rolling out of bed, getting to my feet. Still tired, I stumbled a bit and muttered, “Tch. I need a nap.”
“You just woke up, dumbass,” Clarice pointed out, giving a chuckle. “Oh right, I remember why I came in here. You don’t act like some street rat at all. What’s your deal? And there must be something I can do to make it up to you. When should I get my sorry skin out of your business, anyway?”
I groaned and muttered, “I don’t give a shit if ya stay. Ta make it up to me, you can do me a favor! And let me nap.” I proceeded to turn and collapse back onto my bed, letting out a content sigh. Clarice loomed over me, peering down with her hands on her hips.
“You’re a fucking weirdo. And the more I talk with you, the more I like you. Alright, tough guy. Dancing Crow. Ares. Whatever. What are you doin’ here anyway, huh? In some abandoned mansion, acting like some street superhero. Got goals?” she asked me, peering about my room as if she was in some surreal television show.
“Yep. Matter of fact, I was thinkin’ of startin’ a gang soon. Am a lone crow, need others in a family. That sorta shit. Look, I’m not looking for just some random vamps though. This city is a shithole, I’ve seen it myself. Lots of assholes like sir Adam Douchebag. I also don’ see humans as livestock, so if ya got that opinion, I don’ wanna be bothered by you much longer. I helped ya, but my goals are to get rid of scum humans and vampires.” A long pause occured, and I sighed. “Yeah ok like some twisted superhero I guess, what-the-fuck ever.”
There was a silence that stretched, and finally Clarice muttered, “Really? That’s fucking sick. And no, I don’t see humans as livestock. Prey, sure. What, are you some pansy ass that wants to be a vegetarian vampire? That shit isn’t even possible.”
“HAH! HAHAH! HAH! No no no. See I love seeing humans cowering in fear before me. It gives me a delicious high. The scent and taste of adrenaline… Perfect. But I target baddies. The goodies I go after are let go. Not like anyone would believe them if they told the truth, hm? They sound insane to fellow humans. That’s rare regardless, when I get too hungry without an evil target. But nah. I just don’t see humans as lesser. Prey? Sure. Livestock to use and abuse? Hell no,” I growled.
Clarice chuckled and shook her head, standing in a crooked fashion with her hands placed upon her hips. Her head slightly tilted, she commented, “You sure are interesting. But I like the way you think. In fact, we see eye to eye there. So… how do you expect to start this gang then, huh? Got any connections?” Seeing my glance away from her, she laughed. “You’re a powerful tough guy, hot too, and you have no friends? Well shit. Lone crow indeed. Looks like that needs to be fixed. Me? I got tons of connections.”
“I got plenty!” I lied, but damn was she good at catching onto lies. Oh thank gods she didn’t realize I was faking it, nor questioned where I was from. Hopefully my strength wouldn’t come–
“Listen, you ripped through those fuckers like a hot bread knife through butter. You’re not foolin’ anyone. Somehow you’re stronger than most, and that accent sounds kinda shifty. But you know what? I’m not gonna pry. I know you’re legit at least in your beliefs and wants, otherwise I wouldn’t be here. So? I’m gonna help you,” Clarice finished, giving me a grin. I glared at her in shock. Was I really that bad?
Finally, I sighed, lounging there on my bed and rolling my eyes. “What are you, some annoying little sister or somethin’? Ok, ok. Fine. So I got secrets. But nothin’ important. Point is, what makes you so good at talkin’ to people?” She gave me a look, causing me to grumble.
She combed her claws through her silky hair and contemplated matters for a moment. “Hmm, I dunno, maybe the obvious fact that I get around and you saved my ass from a bunch of assholes that knew of my services. Listen, boss,” she began, pausing. “Huh. I like that word. Anyway. I’m more of a follower, not a leader. I can help with a shit ton of stuff, but you’re gonna run the show here. Handlin’ a buncha people seems tiresome. You wanna do this? You got me, but as a second in command, not the ringleader. Unless you show me something that will give me a reason to run, but I highly doubt that will happen. You got that?”
I gave a serious nod, raising a brow. “Sure? Not a problem to me. I’d planned on leading a gang anyway, but uh, ya we’re all gonna be equals even if I head it. Got tha?”
“Uh-huh, fucking obviously. Well clearly you’re the strongest for reasons you aren’t telling me, but again, I don’t care to press. Though that isn’t why I don’t want to take over, my reasons are as I said before.
Right then, tough guy and boss. So how do you expect to charm people aside from saving their asses? You know, gathering ‘em the normal way,” Clarice muttered, returning her hands to her hips and sneering at me.
“Mmm…” I muttered. A long pause stretched, and she burst into hyena-like laughter once again.
“Damn. You’re not a people-person, are ya? Alright. Wellp, that’ll be the first thing we work on, boss,” Clarice commented. “Also, we’re gonna talk about the Dungeons and Dragons stuff you have in there. How have you been playing without people…?”
“Uuuuh I haven’t, I just sorta have it. Wait, you know tha’ stuff? Really?” I asked in surprise, causing her to walk over and punch me lightly on the arm.
“Dumbass, I get around and actually have creative bones in my body. I was a dungeon master. Believe it or not. Back… a long time ago, anyway. When things were better,” she sighed.
I turned my head toward her, flashing her my crooked grin again. “Well, all the more reason to get that gang going huh? Yeah yeah, heroics aside. I wanna play that shit rather than just read it and daydream.”
“Looks like it’s another thing to work on then, loser!” Clarice laughed. This was the start of something great, no doubt.