Red Light

Bean Scene Cafe

Bean Scene is a small coffee shop and cafe that caters primarily to a younger crowd. The cafe has always been at least a year late in joining any given fad, and in the past it's been done in western-style, set up as a beatnik hangout, a go-go disco, a fern bar, and once even attempted to cash in on breakdancing. A plaque has recently been placed above the door, and says, "No fad is dead until it appears to Bean Scene".

Case in point, the cafe has a grungy feel to it. A grey brick facade has been placed over the walls, the flooring looking more like a worn down metal grid, complete with old sewer grates every few feet. Tables and chairs set about the cafe are quite casual in appearance, made of metal meant to look rusty and splattered with multi-colored paints. Metal street signs hang from the wall amid images of garage bands. Behind the counter is a black chalkboard displaying the available items and costs.

It's getting pretty late, sometime after midnight now, but the Bean Scene is open 24/7, which is pretty much unheard of for most coffee shops these days, following in the wake of Starbucks and the like. Hugo's already been here for hours, sketching, thinking, relaxing, sipping his cup of coffee and nibbling on a danish. It's starting to wind down a bit, the lull between the late nighters and the late /late/ nighters who will likely be wandering in after the bars close in two hours to try and sober up a bit before work the next day. At the moment Hugo is tucked into a booth, putting the finishing touches on a sketch of a lonely looking woman sitting by the window, gazing out. It's just started to rain, the water hitting the glass and then slowly streaking down it. The light from the streetlights casts a shadow upon the face of the woman in question. Each drop of rain is cast against her face, rolling down her cheek slowly like denied tears, the weather weeping for her.

It would pick tonight, and just this moment to rain, wouldn't it. When she's too far from the house to go back and get an umbrella, and too close to where she was planning to go to turn away. And so, Paige soldiers in, occasionally lifting a hand to wipe water out of her eyes, as it trickles out of her hair, ignoring the fact that her shirt is now soaked through, and she didn't think to bring a jacket. Well, maybe she'll get lucky and the rain will stop soon. Or the coffee will warm her up. Regardless, she makes it to the door of the Bean, and taking a moment to wipe off her feet, she steps inside, making her dripping squishy shoe soggy way over towards the counter.

As the door jingles open, Hugo allows his gaze to slowly pan over toward it, blinking in silent surprise at just who has walked in. He studies Paige quietly as he watches her shake off the wet as best as possible and order a coffee. He doesn't move or approach her, but he doesn't take his eyes off of her. And when she turns toward the dining area, looking for a place to sit, his gaze remains on hers till she espies him, whereupon he offers her a crooked little smile and a small wave of his hand. The man isn't one to hold a grudge, even if his temper can get away with him from time to time. In truth, he's fully expecting Paige to either ignore him or snub him, but it's still kind of nice to see a familiar, if not necessarily friendly, face in this stranger-filled city.

*squish* *squish*, *squish* *squish*, *squish* *squish*. It seems like it takes a lifetime to get to the counter, hands working the water out of her hair and off of her face as best she can without just grabbing it and wringing it out. Coffee is ordered, as large a size as they carry, extra cream and sugar. She's content to puddle by the waiting area, before her coffee comes out, and she turns to the dining room. And almost drops her coffee on the floor along with the rain drops. Yes, there's one familiar face in the crowd, such as it is. And she can't just let the gesture, or the smile go ignored. And she did make a certain man a promise, even if she is, at this precise moment, cursing his name. And so, she soldiers along *squish* *squishing* her way towards Hugo's table. And when she gets there, the conversation just explodes. From soggy silence to…"Hi."

He looks her up and down, from head to toe, before commenting, "Wow. You're really … wet." He leans to look out the window, squinting as he muses, "I didn't realize it was raining so hard." His hand lifts, gesturing to the opposite side of the booth as he asks, "Care for a seat. There's a vent right over your head … might help some. Been blowing warm air most of the night now."

"It's not, but the studio is a couple of miles from here, and I walked." Paige sets down the coffee cup first, before she scoots herself into the booth, after which she promptly needs to unstick her clothing until she looks reasonably, well, fit for company, as well as can be managed. "Thank you for the invitation." She considers the cup she brought with her, and reaching out a hand, finding it too hot to drink yet, she just comes right out with it, "What did I do wrong the last time we met?" She might as well grab the bull by the horns and plow on. That's how she does most everything for good or for ill.

As she squelches into her seat and asks that question, Hugo's brow lifts at the bluntness and directness of her question. Tilting his head he holds up a hand and murmurs, "Hold that thought…." before closing his sketchbook, rising up to his feet and… leaving? What the hell? Walking up the counter, he leans in and talks to the guy there, jerking his head back toward where Paige is still sitting. The guy cranes his head to look and then nods, disappearing into the back for a minute before coming out again with a large pile of hand towels. Nodding in thanks, Hugo stuffs them under his arm and heads back to the table, offering them to Paige with a casual, "Here," before sitting down again. "Okay, so you're asking me what you did wrong? I'm not sure I understand you."

If there was anything Paige was expecting, in response to her question, it certainly wasn't Hugo getting up and leaving. Not that she wouldn't deserve it, after what happened, but still. Her eyes track him to the counter, and then, with a curious expression, back to the table, where she hands off the towels, and she accepts with a soft, "Thank you." The towels are set out, before she grabs one and starts rubbing at her hair. "Well, I must have done something wrong, if one minute we were laughing and joking and the next minute you were acting like you were the only person at the table." Okay, so only you were laughing…on the outside. But regardless, that's still how it looks from Paige's point of view.

"Curious," is Hugo's reply. "See, what I remember is you sniping at me, me laughing and teasing you back, you not liking that and getting more and more pissy and then me deciding that I had been picked on and judged enough for one evening and taking a break from saying anything that might inspire further attacks on my character. And then, you clearly offended, just got up and left, like you couldn't stand to even sit at the same table with me." Rubbing his mouth with one hand, Hugo rumbles, "Then of course it didn't make any sense. You were still acting like you had a stick up your… back. But you apologized for something, but I don't think even you knew what for, and then I left so you could stay." Ocean eyes rest on Paige's face as she scrubs at her hair. "You seem to remember it differently. Though, in retrospect, I guess I should be the one apologizing to you. You were just so …. stiff. Like a school marm or one of those scientists in the movies with the hair up in a bun and the glasses and the lab coat, all cool and serious. I couldn't not tease you, but that was rude and you probably didn't like it any better than I liked being castigated left and right."

"I wasn't sniping at you. You were teasing me, and I was teasing back. I'm sorry that you didn't see that that's what I was doing. But I figured you had, well, figured that out. I don't even know you, and I certainly, even if I did, wouldn't be so rude or mean to you and really mean it. I didn't realize that you didn't get my sense of humor. After the country club, I figured you had." Since it obviously seemed to work then. "So thinking that you did get it, I didn't have any idea what I did to upset you, but since I clearly had, and I was taught to apologize when I hurt someone or get them upset, I did." Paige finishes drying off her hair, as best she can, before she starts finger combing it to try to get the tangles out. "I guess I don't always realize when people don't get me. A friend of mine told me, "You got a wit that's sharper than a skinin' knife and dryer than a tumbleweed in the desert. Sometimes when you like that, it's hard t'know if yer jossin' or pissin'." She even says it in her best southern accent too, which almost makes it sound like Jed, if he were about 25 years younger…and female. "I guess he was right. But I'm not really like that, you know. All…school marmy."

"Ahhhh," Hugo replies thoughtfully. "My bad then. At first I did think we had an understanding, but then I wasn't so sure. You never smiled or even chuckled, let alone laughed. And unfortunately I have a family history where teasing, well, where sometimes it's teasing and sometimes it's something quite meaner in the guise of teasing. I guess the not knowing and your wit being a little drier than I'm used to, I started to think it was more the latter and less the former." Hugo smirks at both Paige's drawl and her words, chuckling softly as he notes, "Well, yeah, that's not too far off there." His eyes have a little of that mischief back in them from the other night, before everything went wrong. "You're not, huh? So tell me, what are you really like then?"

Paige finishes with her hair, and thankfully, being as bone straight as it is, finger combing seems to work wonders. That, or she's just a master at putting herself back together. But with her head mostly dry, she turns to the rest of herself, soaking up what she can. She can only thank Providence that she's not wearing anything 'nice.'. And Hugo's question gets some serious consideration, "Well, I like to think that I'm funny, flashbacks to what sounds like a terrible family dynamic aside, and that I can be good company. I'm a terrible dancer, so I can't say I can trip the night fantastic, or anything like that, which seems to be more your style. But I like to think I can be pretty adventurous. I mean, it's not by coincidence that I hunt ghosts for a living, you know."

Arching one brow, Hugo chuckles and shakes his head noting, "You're doing it again." He leans on the table and stares into Paige's eyes, challenging her but with a smile on his lips. "You've met me twice. And based on the fact that you saw me out on a date with Desiree, you come to the assumption that my 'style' is tripping the light fantastic and dancing to dawn? My advice? Wait to get to know someone a little better before making assumptions about who they are and what they like. People are, for the most part, pretty complex. We generally don't just fit into tidy slots. By making these assumptions you both belittle others and deprive yourself by assuming that you aren't a good match." His head cocks to one side as Hugo notes, "I think you're pretty funny, now that I know your wit is a martini dry one." Resting his chin in the palm of his hand, Hugo asks, "Are ghosts really all that dangerous? What else goes bump in the night?"

Paige looks up, something very much like anger flashing across her expression, and she certainly doesn't look away from Hugo's eyes, blue on blue, only one's slightly darker than the other, or back down, apparently willing to meet him blow for blow, "I wasn't making an assumption, thank you very much. I was making a comment on what I was told you liked to do by Desiree, as she explained your relationship as boiling down to two things and dancing's the other one. Pardon me for mentioning it." Course it might piss him off just as much that Paige actually had that much of a girl talk with Desiree as to get all of that. Or that Paige seems pissed off by it, who knows. It's not like she's not used to digging the hole a little deeper. "Ghosts, at least the energy that's left behind can be dangerous, yes. But there's more than vampires waiting out in the night for you."

Shrugging, Hugo notes dryly, "What I like to do with Desiree is what I like to do with Desiree. For the record, I rarely did ballroom dancing before I met her. Desiree barely even knows me. We've only gone out a handful of times." His temper isn't flaring like Paige's, but the humor and charm have faded from his gaze. Like magnets these two are, either attracting or repelling strongly it seems. Leaning back in his seat, giving Paige some space, Hugo asks, "What else?" But whether he's asking what else Paige thinks of him or what else is waiting out in the night is not exactly clear.

"I don't compartmentalize myself like that. What you get with me is what you get. I either like things all the time or none of the time." Paige lifts her shoulders, her own anger fading as quickly as it came, if it even was anger to begin with. "I'm just me, the same person, all of the time." She does stop trying to dry herself though, for the time being, turning to her coffee, which seems just about the only thing that can't be screwed up in the room. She's really batting 0 for 2 tonight. "Would you really like to know, Hugo? You know what they say, you can't unlearn things. Once you know something, you can't unknow it. And that's a heavy burden to bear."

Hugo bites his lip before pointing out yet again that Paige is doing it again, noting mildly, "I like to do a lot of things. But I find life doesn't always allow me the time or company to do all of them all of the time. I like dancing with Desiree because she's a dancer and because she enjoys going out and dancing. I would guess, since you say you are a terrible dancer, that if we were to go out, we would not go dancing because, if nothing else, I suspect you wouldn't enjoy it. And if you didn't enjoy it, I certainly wouldn't enjoy it. But if you indicated an interest in learning to dance, then perhaps we would go out dancing on occasion." Twirling a finger in the air, Hugo continues, "I am also, what you see is what you get. But I think I'm a relatively deep person, so you might have to look hard and long to see everything that I am." As Paige reaches for her first sip, Hugo finishes his coffee quietly, listening to her words before nodding. "I would. Forewarned is forearmed. I prefer to know what I'm up against rather than going in blindly." He doesn't say, of course, that he's going to take everything she says with a grain of salt. After all, vampires exist, but that doesn't mean that all the other things that people have claimed to have seen throughout history are just as equally real. And, no offense, but being a writer on a supernatural TV show… Paige naturally will have a bias. Still, knowledge is power and Hugo is curious.

"That sounds quite a bit like my life. Most of the time, I do what I have to do. And every now and again, I get to do what I want to do. Not as often as I like, but I've accepted that." Paige doesn't take long to finish her coffee, likely because she let it get so cool it'd be cold, if she drank it at her normal pace. "Well, contrary to popular opinion, I don't really enjoy stepping on people's feet. Even yours." There's a light shrug of her shoulders, not a smile, but as close as Paige's wit will likely get. "I'm not sure I'll have that much time," is offered in answer to the middling comment, before Paige shakes her head, "Even if I could tell you about all of the things waiting in the dark, I certainly couldn't, and wouldn't do it here. There are too many things people aren't ready to know. And it's not the sort of thing you talk about in polite company."

Pursing his lips, Hugo eyes his coffee, Paige's and then the weather outside. "How about this. Let me give you a lift to wherever it is that you're going and you can tell me on the way about all the supernatural creepy crawlies of this world. The cliffnotes version. You stay, well, dry-ish and I get my curiosity satisfied? What do you say?"

"It's not that far, honestly, I can walk back no problem." She's not going to put him out. Again. "But I'll walk you back to your car." Always a compromise, between the two of them, in the middle of everything else. "I'll just steal one of the towels, is all. I don't think he'll mind." Paige slides back out of the chair, reaching to bus her cup, and yours, tossing the wet towels over her shoulder, as she's now run out of hands, "You're very sweet to offer, though."

"But if you walk me back to my car, that won't be long enough for you to tell me anything. And considering how drenched you were coming in, and the fact that it is even raining harder, methinks that any distance, no matter how short, will be too long and wet." The artist remains sitting, apparently determined that she acquiesce this time.

Paige frowns, looking rather unwaitressy, standing there with wet towels and hands full of dirty dishes. It's like a celebrity deathwatch, only the only celebrity in the room is sitting down. But she clearly isn't going to get him to get up anytime soon, not until she gives in. And in for a penny in for a pound. She might as well give the other half of Jed's advice some consideration, "Alright then. But we have to drive with a window down, or else I might yack in your car. That's why I walked. I forgot my medicine at home. I know it's a bad night when I can't even take the elevator, because it makes me want to throw up."

A grin lights up Hugo's face as she caves in, the artist promising, "I'll drive slow and steady and you can put the window down and face straight ahead the whole time." Sliding out of the booth, he tucks his sketchbook beneath his arm and pulls the soggy towels from her shoulder, carrying them over to the counter and plopping them down there with a thanks to the waiter. He gives the man a tip for the trouble and then turns about to smile at Paige. "Right then, you want me to get you a barf bag, just in case?"

While Hugo's stepping away, Paige heads over to put the dishes away in the receptacle for them at the back of the Bean. The woman can't possible imagine anything more horrible than the thought of throwing up in Hugo's car. talk about completely embarrassing. "Thank you for being so considerate. But yeah, maybe bring two. I'd rather be safe than sorry." Paige heads towards the door then, allowing the man time to catch up with her, the squishing of her shoes not nearly as loud as it was.

Hugo doesn't seem particularly bothered by the idea for some reason. Maybe because the car is a rental. He gets two bags from the guy behind the counter before nodding and stepping out into the rain, his hand reaching into his pocket for his keys. Fortunately there isn't far to go, a sleek black Porsche that Paige walked by on her way here flashing as Hugo pushes the unlock button of the remote twice, dashing ahead of Paige to open her door and see her in before running to his side and slipping in behind the wheel. He buckles himself in and waits for Paige to do the same and lower her window before asking, "Okay, which way?"

You head outside.

East Dallas

Though mainly older bungalows, Tudor or Prairie style homes built circa 1920, East Dallas has seen some new buildings and establishments crop up in recent years. A lot of the area has been deemed historic, and thereby untouchable, but it hasn't stopped the American Vampire League setting up shop here.

The AVL building sticks out like a sore thumb, being a large, square building with multiple windows - though the shades are generally drawn.

Paige comes out of the cafe.

Paige makes the dash herself, as soon as she sees the lights flashing on the car, now towel-less…thanks Hugo…as she tries to run between the raindrops. Of course, that never works. "Thank you," offered as he grabs the door and holds it open for her, giving her just enough time to slide in, before the door's closed. "The little office space we use is a couple blocks down, just make a right onto the street, and I'll tell you where to turn. It's in that old building at…” and she rattles off a street name and number. She does at least grab one of the bags, flicking it open and keeping it at the ready, after she turns the top down.

Of course Hugo has no idea where that might be or what the building looks like, but he nods and replies, "Just tell me when to go straight, when to turn, and when to pull over," Hugo replies. "And if you need to puke, pull over works for that as well," he adds. True to his word, Hugo drives very slowly and smoothly, the Porsche purring softly with virtually no bumps or jarring. "Okay, so, we got vampires. We got ghosts, or ghosts, or the energy that they leave behind, which I don't really get but okay. What else?" They reach the end of the block and Hugo coasts to an gentle stop as the light turns yellow, rather than trying to run it as he might usually do. His head turns to check on Paige's color, asking, "This okay for you?"

Paige does indeed give directions, the best she can, as she's both trying to look ahead and stick her head out the window, rain or no rain, "You can get this thing's leather reconditioned, right?" It's not that long of a drive, but it seems like eternity. But she's not throwing up, yet. Coffee does NOT taste as good coming back up, "A ghost has a semblance of consciousness. Not a mind, like we would think of it, but it remembers some of what it was, what it used to be. Those are the ghosts you hear people talking about, seeing them walking down hallways, or what have you. But people can leave energy behind when they go. Have you ever been to a place that just felt wrong, that just felt hateful? It's got nothing to do with the place. It's what's left behind there, enough for you to feel, the way you can feel the heat of the sun on the ground, even after it's set." Of course, all of this is said between deep breaths of air and a little bit of breath holding. "Glinda's real."

It might be a slightly odd time of day, er, night for someone to just be out wandering the streets, but that's precisely what the dark-haired and dark-clothed person that is Max is doing. A ways along, a block or so, he's walking on the road, along the drivers side of parked cars, or where that would be where there are none, rather than on the sidewalk where he probably ought to be walking. Every so often he's glancing into the cars until finally he stops at one and leans down to look closer into the window.

Fortunately the rain seems to be letting up a little, with only a few drops actually landing inside the car. Or maybe Paige is worried about the effects of puke on leather? Hugo chuckles softly and dismissing the matter entirely with a, "Don't worry about it." But the rest he listens to with interest, nodding as he 'gets' it and shifting the car back into gear as the light changes to green, pulling through smoothly and replying, "Okay, ghosts. Check. What else?" He glances over at her again, glad that the road is practically deserted at this hour - no pressure to move faster. "Glinda? The good witch of the East?"

"Well, I'm not sure her name's necessarily Glinda, or that she necessarily always lives in the east. Although, you're always east of somewhere aren't you? Or even that she's always female. But I do know she never told anyone to click their heels three times and say 'There's no place like home'.” Paige has her face in the bag at the moment, as if doing the hyperventilating thing, when she's clearly not, might still help, so her words are sort of muffled, again, but her head does eventually pop up, in time to spot a body, "Hugo, there's a guy in the road!"

There is, indeed, a guy in the road! Off to the side of the road, at least. Max seems decidedly unconcerned about the car in the road, however, focused more on the stationary car that clearly doesn't have a car alarm with the way he's trying the handle that doesn't want to open. Stubborn cars with locked doors.

He's not quite sure if she's teasing him or deadly serious. Paige is kinda hard to read that way. Chuckling in amusement, Hugo drawls suspiciously, "Ohhhhhhkay, no, seriously? You're pulling my leg, aren't you?" Turning to study her again, it's hard not to laugh with her face in the bag, puffing away like that, but somehow Hugo manages not to. Course when she yelps out her warning, his attention goes back to the road abruptly, the Porsche swerving slightly around where Max is standing, albeit unnecessarily. Turning to look over his shoulder, Hugo takes a deep breath and mutters, "God, he's just probably unlocking his car. Don't do that, you scared the crap out of me."

There is a sudden explosion of sound and motion as a black pickup truck with its lights off comes barreling through the cross street against the red light, smashing into the driver's side of the Porsche as it crosses the intersection, shoving the smaller car a good five feet to the right in a crunching of metal and shattering of glass. Hugo's body is abruptly slammed to the right as the door buckles in, his head snapping left, breaking the window before the sudden stop backlashes him to the right again as the airbags explode. It happens too suddenly for him to do anything but gasp and cough as the tiny particles released by the airbags fill the car.

Paige was just about to put her head back down into the bag, when Hugo swerves to avoid Max, and she scrambles, trying to get her head out the window, since this is clearly not the time to yell, 'Pull over!'. But she doesn't even have a chance to do what she needs to do, even up to and including answering Hugo when the truck comes up on the Porsche with a vengeance, and she's half turned and half not, but still seat belted. Not a good position to be in, especially with no window, which means instead of hitting glass, Paige's head hits the metal of the door, moving almost opposite her body, which slides left and then right, just in that instant before the passenger side airbag deploys and she finds herself slammed back into her seat. Hey, on a positive note, the crapload of pain she's in now has completely made her nausea go away. Mostly. Almost all of it.

Startled by the sound of screeching tires, breaking glass and crunching metal, Max turns about toward the accident before everything even stops moving. "Dammit," he growls at nothing and no one in particular, but he's still off at a run toward the vehicles to take in the damage to the passengers rather than the cars. Since the Porsche is smaller and not exactly known for being anything but a death trap vs. larger vehicles, that's where Max goes first, phone already in hand to call an ambulance and, you know, the proper authorities that are actually on duty. "Anyone alive?" he's asking when he gets to the car, probably not meaning it to sound morbid or anything, just looking for any sort of response. "Don't move around. Ambulance is coming," he continues either way even though he hasn't actually gotten through to anyone on his phone yet.

There's only a moment of hesitation before the massive truck, engine still running, backs up two feet. The driver's side door opens and a man with black hair steps out. He doesn't even look toward Max as he runs toward the collision. Just as the innocent bystander arrives with phone in hand, calling out to the two people inside, the driver of the truck reaches in through the broken window of the driver's side door, grips the side, and with one pull and a ferocious scream of metal, he simply tears the door off as if it were nothing more than crumpled cardboard. The door is flung away with cavalier disregard as he reaches in again and grabs Hugo by the arm and pulls him with equal disregard from the interior of the destroyed Porsche.

His head is throbbing, his throat burning, tears of pain and irritation from the dust streaming down his cheeks as Hugo dimly hears someone calling out to them, croaking weakly, "Yes, yes…." his right hand fumbling to the left to check on Paige, head turning slowly to try to see if she's alright, rasping disorientedly, "Paige. Paige? Paige, are you alright?" There's a scream of metal to his left and some small part of the artist's mind can't help but wonder at the sound. What, the police are here already with one of those jaws of death devices?? Time has no meaning. But then something hard and unyielding curls about his arm and pulls. Hugo screams as broken bones grind against each other, his vision graying as the pain that the adrenaline in his system had been masking rises up in a flood of agony.

If Paige could think of anything she's think, 'Wow, talk about bad things striking in three.' But at the moment, all she's really thinking about is, 'Ow, ow, ow, ow!' Gritty eyes from the powder of the airbags, not to mention the trouble she's having breathing from being hit on the wrong side by the airbag, and the impact of her knees hitting the dashboard. But she can hear voices in her head, buzzing around, one she knows and one she does, "I'm fi—fine, get Hugo." Even in her state, she can tell the impact was on his side. She's struggling to get the seatbelt off, to try to force her body to turn in his direction, when the driver comes up, and rips the door off. And for a moment, there's pure terror in Paige's head, blocking out everything else, even, for a blessed moment, the pain of her injuries. But not once she sees Hugo get dragged out. That kind of strength, no, not normal, not human. And not getting away with Hugo. The seatbelt finally unclicks, as Paige starts to climb, battered knees and legs be damned, trying to get out on Hugo's side, to get to the man before he can get taken away. And all the while trying to force her addled brain to call up her power, to string the words together in the right order. God, so hard. Like trying to breath through molasses.

Entirely more aware of his surroundings than either of the passengers of the Porsche could be expected to be, Max is drawing his weapon to take aim on the man from the truck even before he has Hugo out of the car. All proper-like, he has a badge clipped to his belt which is a lot more visible now that his arms are up and steadily pointing his previously concealed gun at what appears to be a threat. "Drop him and stand the fuck down," Max demands, oh so professionally, of the really strong guy that's already put him on edge. There are only so many things that have that kind of strength. His phone is still on, probably connected, but he's not paying it any attention right now.

The man seems utterly disinterested in Hugo's pain or screaming, frowning when the man doesn't come right out only to growl in annoyance at the fact the seatbelt is in the way. Reaching down with his other hand he snaps that like a twig and drags the human out of the car completely, wrapping an arm about Hugo's waist as he lifts his gaze up for the first time to stare at Max. He looks faintly middle eastern or something, his mouth opening up into an evil smile full of white teeth and fangs. His black gaze rests on the gun before lifting to Max's eyes, his voice powerful and compelling. "That little toy isn't going to hurt me. Run away, little pup. This doesn't concern you. Leave now while you can still do so alive." He backs away from the Porsche, utterly unaware and uncaring of the woman inside crawling toward him. Human. Feeble. Harmless.

The pulling stops and Hugo slumps, trembling violently as he tries to understand what is going on, why the EMTs are being so rough with him. "P-p-paige?" he rasps again. But then the seatbelt is torn away, his arm grabbed again and Hugo screams, his eyes rolling up into his head as he passes out.

"Hugo!" Paige is still trying to climb over the steering console, stupid manual transmission, when the vampire drags Hugo out of the car, tearing the seatbelt away. Paige makes it to Hugo's side of the car, looking out at the vampire holding Hugo hostage. First she was in pain, then she was scared, now she's in pain, scared and angry. Whomever this guy is, she's not about to just let him get away with Hugo. That's not the way things work in Paige's life. Even if she has to push herself past her limits to do it. It's with all of the mental effort she can muster, and all of the control she's spent over a decade trying to master, that she finds the right spell, one she knows by heart, one she can summon with little time to prep, since she uses it on the job nearly every night. A wave of her hand, as a ball of 'swamp light' explodes into life right in the vampire's face, pushing forward to try to hit the level of his eyes. There's no fire, persay, the light is nothing more than a ball of air. But it's a ball of air with enough fire magic pumped into it to heat it to incandescence. Please, please, please, is Paige's silent inner prayer, let it be bright enough, hot enough to make him drop Hugo. Hey, even vampires must feel pain, right?

With the vampire's attention turned more directly on him, Max has a really hard time not firing on the spot. He might even forget about the man the vampire is holding for the moment and there's an audible growl, an unconscious snarl, before he jerks his head. "Put him down or I'll blow off your fucking head." So he hasn't entirely forgotten about Hugo, though he might be exaggerating somewhat about the capabilities of that gun in his hands. He's not paying any real attention to Paige at this point and the ball of light that sort of comes out of no where and ends up in front of the vampire's face urges him to fire a shot at both ball and head at once.

The human hangs limply in Tareq's grip, the left side of his head covered in blood, his left arm also bloodied and possessing two elbows now it seems. That's not right. When Max yells out his threat, Tareq just laughs, knowing that gun isn't nearly as powerful as the little werewolf policeman would like him to think it is. But he jerks back with a surprised snarl when suddenly before his eyes there is a flare of painfully bright light and heat. Unfortunately for Paige, the vampire does not drop Hugo but instead reflexively pulls back and away from the perceived attack, his arm pulling the human more tightly against himself as his other hand raises to try and block out some of the light. The shot rings out but only clips the vampire across the temple, his body twisting with the impact, slamming back into the hood of the truck which stops his momentum. This also, however, puts his head out of line with the swamp light, the ball darting past him and away. Dark eyes drop down to where Paige is huddled in the car, a look of pure fury and rage coming over his features as he growls darkly, "Witch!" in the sort of tone one uses more often with a word that rhymes with 'witch'. He lunges forward with a loud snarl, his free hand reaching for Paige's throat.

Unfortunately for Paige the swamp light was a one off. There's no way she's going to be able to mix magics for a second time, and certainly not in the breath of time it takes for the vampire to use his preternatural speed to bridge the distance between himself and the b-i…I mean, you know, witch. And trying to vanish won't help, because he'll feel her there, even if he can't see her. But a human being's will to live is an amazing thing, that drive to survive at all costs, even if the greatest cost is to yourself. So one last hurrah, one final moment, to summon up that power that's been inside of her since she was barely more than a child. One final attempt to summon the one element she can control better than any other: water. But not any of the water around her, nor the water still falling from the sky, but the water in the blood and tissues in the vampire's body. Setting it to boiling, to bubbling, dragging it out of his skin, until it looks as though he's sweating blood. At least, that's what she'll try to do, before the pain of his hand around her neck chokes her unconscious.

Max hates vampires. A lot. It might not be entirely evident right this second but it might be in a few more. He fires off another shot at whatever open space he can. If the humans were aware of what he was doing, they might be a little upset that he's apparently disregarding the fact that they'd make handy meat shields. In the moments following his shots, though, his gun is holstered and he's slipping out of jacket and harness to drop them to the ground so he can get in closer. It's not exactly graceful the way he lunges at the vampire, but he's not gentle, either, hands going for throat and trying to dig in.

His fingers tighten about Paige's throat slowly, relishing her pain and panic as Tareq hisses, "You should have stayed out of it, witch. Kept your head down and your pesky magic out of my business. This human is mine. I would have left you alone, let you live, but now? Now I think I'm in the mood for a little snack…" Dragging her closer, the vampire leans in, his grip shifting from her throat to the nape of neck, fangs biting into her throat, drinking her down with a dark snarl only to jerk back sharply as another bullet tears through his flesh, impacting on his shoulder. Dragging the woman closer for another bite, he ends up releasing her again as he feels Max grabbing around his neck, trying to pull him off of Paige. Shoving the woman back against the car he whirls, fingers grabbing Max's throat in turn and squeezing slowly as he shakes him off and lifts him so his feet aren't touching the ground any more. Hugo at his point is barely being held onto, the vampire dragging him along by one arm as he holds Max up and squeeeeeeezes. "Stupid, fucking dog. Why didn't you just run away with your tail tucked between your legs, hmmmmm? What the hell were you thinking? Or weren't you thinking? No, you don't think at all, stupid mutt. And for that, you're going to die…"

But then something strange happens. She might have thought her magic failed her, the pain and power extending out from Paige but with seemingly no effect. But what is the old saying? A watched pot never boils? The magic has taken hold in the vampire, but like water on a stove, it takes awhile for any effects to be noticed. The vampire suddenly shivers and gasps, his grip failing and dropping Max to the ground as he doubles over in pain. It's just … everywhere! His body feels like it's on fire from the inside out! Dropping Hugo, Tareq starts clawing at his flesh feverishly, eyes bugging out as the burning sensation continues to increase, spreading throughout his entire body. Gasping, on his hands and knees, Tareq releases a scream of thwarted rage as the sound of police sirens grows louder and louder.

She's been bruised, battered, beaten, eaten (not in the good way) and now, she's pushing herself to the limits, not only of her consciousness, but of her abilities. She can feel the magic sizzling through her, burning out like water dancing and steaming off of a hot pan. But by god, if this is how her magic dies, she's going to make damned well sure the vampire responsible will pay for it. Paige crawls her way out of the car, getting closer to the creature, doing her best to get to her feet, doing her best to ignore the screaming pain in her knees, in her neck, in her heart, as she catches sight of Hugo, tossed down like a ragdoll, the dark too profound to see if his chest is even rising at all. But she can try to put on a show with the best of them. And when she speaks, there isn't even any energy left in her for emotion. And for a brief few moments as her vocal cords work, her voice is as flat and emotionless as any vampire’s. "Can feel my power inside of you? Burning you from the inside out?" Paige pauses, to catch her breath, though, with any luck, the vampire is distracted enough to think she's pausing for dramatic effect. "Now you know exactly what this witch is capable of. These two are mine. And I will tear you apart inch by inch if you ever come near either of them again."

Max snarls at the vampire but it's choked off by the hand around his neck. Nails claw at Tareq's hand as he's lifted up off of his feet and, well, he kind of flails trying to get away. Icy blue eyes glare but as the hand around his throat starts squeezing, that fight to get loose starts slowing and by the time that the vampire drops him, Max has lost his battle with consciousness. So macho!

He can feel his energy dwindling and the sirens growing louder with each passing second. Glaring at the witch who has so cursed him, he knows that he just barely has the strength to escape and definitely does not have the strength to carry Hugo's weight as well as his own. He rises, trembling, to his feet, swaying from side to side as he snarls at Paige, his mouth smeared with her blood. "Your life is forfeit witch. No woman bests me and gets away with it. I will take you. I will take you and break you, feed on your blood and make you watch as your loved ones die. And then I will kill you. I swear by the name of Anubis, it shall be so." His eyes lift to the sky and with the power he has remaining to him the vampire flies up into the air, vanishing from sight in mere seconds. The traffic light overhead changes from red to green and for a brief moment it's almost peaceful. But in moments flashing lights and sirens bear down on the threesome, brakes squealing and car doors opening and closing as radios crackle.

And just like that, Paige's power winks out, leaving only a gaping, tearing hole where the warmth of it used to be. Dead or just completely dormant, the woman has no earthly idea. But if this is what it feels like to be simply human, Lord, the strength they must have to be so empty. But the vampire is gone, and unlikely to return, at least before the police and the ambulances can get to the trio, and Paige collapses, halfway between Max and Hugo, but with enough strength left to check Max to make certain that he's still breathing, and Hugo as well, though she stays closer to the human male, who clearly needs more of her protection, whether she can now provide it or not. But it will be quite a scene for the emergency response personnel arriving on scene. A badly mangled man, a bruised and battered woman with a pair of nasty fang marks in her neck and a well-choked police officer. Dallas will not be a happy town for the next little while. The FotS is going to have a field day, not to mention the other groups which may or may not come out of the woodwork.

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