Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying

McCree Cemetery

For the most part, the cemetery seems to be a quiet, serene spot for both the souls who rest below and those who come to pay respect to their loved ones. A packed dirt pathway continues through the grounds, boxing off expanses of green lawns that have gravestones of different shapes and ages.

Off in the southeast corner is an area of the grounds which seems to have gone forgotten. Overgrown with weeds, vines and various other plants, a cluster of old and broken grave markers clutter the area. Even on the sunniest of days, this section has an extreme sense of foreboding to it.

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It's not terribly late, but certainly well past sundown when Desiree enters the cemetery. There's a purpose to her steps as she leaves her car parked on the curving roadway, and heads toward her father's grave. Her face is almost grim, with a set jaw and eyes as cold as a human being's eyes can be. They'll never have the same stone cold deadness of vampire eyes, but tonight Desiree feels more like one of the undead than ever before. It's not something she enjoys. It makes her skin clammy cold even if temperature nears the 100-degree mark at night.

It's been a month. She's mostly healed, save for a semi-rigid half-cast on her upper arm supporting the healed break. A month of thinking, of planning, of nightmares, of waking up soaked in sweat still feeling the teeth in her throat. Some people think she should hate all vampires for what one did. Desiree isn't like that. You don't throw all the apples out if only one is worm-ridden. No, you cull that one out of the bushel and look closer at the next one.

She stops at the foot of the grave, staring down at the polished granite. "Hello, Daddy," she whispers, voice barely a breath of air. Not another word, not another sound does she make. She can feel the mist rising from the oldest section of the cemetery, but it doesn't bother her. It's never bothered her. The jacket slips from her torso, falls to the ground in a pile of leather. Her hair is loose, ruffled slightly by what little air stirs. After that, there's only stillness as she waits.


"Does he ever answer?" James asks idly, breaking the still silence that stretches out between the headstones.

His is a curious tone, mild almost to the point of disinterest, except he did ask. And his glittering eyes and neutral face don't betray any sense of mocking.

A bark is heard off in the distance, immediately answered. Titus and Brutus must be around somewhere. Especially since their leashes hang limply in the vampire's hand. But, they, apparently, are off-leash and running.

Lucky them.

Debatable as to how lucky it might be for anyone else.


It comes as no surprise, a voice from the darkness. Desiree half-way expected such, and was prepared. Well, as prepared as she can be: a forced calm that never quite reaches her heart, cool skin that exudes human fear, blood pulsing through her veins. She swallows a gasp, despite her expectations. There's a quirk of her lips, though she probably has her back turned to him. "We really have to stop meeting this way or people will suspect one of us of necrophilia."

Wry sarcasm. It's Desiree who mocks tonight: herself, her former association with Michael, her attack, her attacker, even the deal she made with the Devil in a man's shape. "No. Sadly, he doesn't — but, according to his church, he's one of those damned to purgatory until the Judgment." No mockery that; a flat, near monotone almost (but not quite) devoid of emotion. Simple fact.

"I'm a fool for wishing it, but I'd give every drop of blood in my veins to have him alive again." A soft sigh. "Good evening, Mr. Stockton." A pause. "Or was I given permission to call you James?" The question is rather casually asked, almost as if she's not really concerned with his answer. "Dare I ask if you've had any luck finding out if there's a way for me to recover what was taken from me?"


James lets the shadows that had conceal him fade away. He senses the surprise that lurks under her cool exterior, but gives no outward reaction to it. His brow does arch, however, as he hears her answer to his query. "Catholic, eh?" His tone suggests a certain amount of sympathy… in a somewhat patronizing way. Not a superior patronizing, mind. Just the sense of 'Oh. Them.'

He's either never been Catholic, or he shook the habit centuries ago.

"Giving your blood in such a fashion wouldn't particularly help you," he notes. "The chances are you'd, then, end up dead, rather than he. Then, it wouldn't much matter if he were living." Unless, of course, she were Turned. But, that is highly unlikely.

"And you never asked one way or another what to call me. James is fine." Again, that matter-of-fact.

"I have not yet received an answer to my inquiries about your situation, however."


There's no particular disappointment in the nod of her head. Apparently her expectations aren't all that high tonight.

"Yes. Them." No he didn't say it aloud, but he's hardly the first to use that tone regarding her religion. Baptists and Jehovah's Witnesses are even better at it than James is. "Never believed like the nuns taught us to. Mom was a Holy Roller so I was half-heathen. I was a Good Catholic Girl until —" A nod to the grave.

Her lips quirk upwards. "Now, I go just to shock the priests when I confess." She's serious.

"He was a good man." She softens a little, relaxes. "He wouldn't want me dead. His letter —" A beat. "No. He doesn't answer. It just makes me feel better to ask."

Nodding. "James it is." Acknowledgment. "I didn't expect you had. You'd've let me know already if you had. I can wait."

Another moment. "How're Titus and Brutus." Desiree heard them bark. "Let me know if you're ever headed to Florida. Someone there I'd love for them to meet." From her tone, that would be spelled "meat."


James has no intention of going to Florida any time soon. More than that, he'll not be going to 'meat' anybody on her behalf. Not without the customary fee, certainly.

"They're exploring the hedgerow," he says simply in response to her query, letting the rest of it just slide away.

He regards her for a long moment, none of his thoughts showing in his eyes or his face.

Presently, he looks away, off in the direction of the hounds. He waits with the patience of death, until the pair come running across the darkened greens in a casual lope. As they arrive, he reaches out and greets them each with a scritch on the head.


Desiree knows James — nor any vampire, with the possible exception of Michael — would do very little for her without payment. Though there is a margin of temptation, she wasn't serious. The whole whole of it is dismissed with a wave of her hand and a droll, "Just wishful thinking."

The hounds draw her attention, and she watches them bound across the manicured cemetery. Watching James with his dogs seems to lighten her mood.

"Must be nice to have such endless energy," she remarks. Her right hand moves to her left arm, where it rubs paler skin, a much thinner limb. It makes her looks oddly mismatched. Like a Barbie doll with a Pee-Wee Herman arm.

"You don't set them to fight other dogs, do you? For gambling." She's mindful of an expose recently seen on the news. "Not that they couldn't whip their weight in wildcats, but — no, I can't see you doing that. Forget I even asked."

She looks away. "It was a month ago last night."


James is content to completely ignore the question about setting his hounds to fight other dogs. It's not worth an answer. He regards her for a moment, tracing her thoughts.

Ah. The Attack. Of course.

Thus, he gives a simple nod. He wasn't in the city, then. Sure, he arrived a few days later, but not right at the beginning of July. He doesn't say anything further, however, preferring, instead, to let her do her own talking at her own leisure, rather than drawing it out of her.

The dogs begin sniffing around the headstones and trees, curiously, picking of something's trail and beginning to follow it.


There's no talking from Desiree now. Perhaps for the first time, she really has nothing of import to say. Then again, pretty women like her are supposed to be seen and not heard. Trophies for successful men, even successful vampires.

Or targets for unscrupulous men. Unscrupulous vampires.

Some people would even say she deserved it.

The expression on her face goes through a few changes. Finally, it settles into complacency. "I didn't ask for it, you know." Softly said. To convince him, or herself? "I didn't lead him on, or lure him with promises I'd no intention to keep. I just headed toward my car, intending to leave." A sigh, barely a breath. "I keep telling myself it wasn't me, it was him."

Desiree turns to look at James, then follows the hounds as they make their rounds. "I don't know why he didn't finish the job." Looking at James. "Marius would've. You, too, I think. You and he seem … connected someway." She regards James for a few moments. "I guess it's the way Marius acts around you. It's different than he acts around others."

A beat. "You don't have to answer. It's kind of a rhetorical question — and you can come closer, if you want. I owe you a favor. I figure I'm safe from you draining me dry until that's paid." Dry wit, that. Pithy humor.


Off the top of his head, James can think of several reasons why the perpetrator didn't kill the woman — not the least of which is fear of being crucified and left hanging on a cross for the rising sun because he brought unwanted attention on the vampiric Powers That Be. He doesn't, however, say any of them. Instead, he stands there, listening to her observations. A brow quirks faintly again.

"Look, luv," he says, now, letting his accent strengthen, and pushing a facade of humanity to the surface. "Your best bet is t'stop tryin' to figure it all out. Even if you live to be an 'undead.' All you're doin' is torturing yourself for no good reason." He glances off ofater the dogs as they begin to dig at the roots of one of the older trees. "There's some of my kind what'll take pleasure in torturing a human mind. Some what take pleasure in torture, in general."

Marius, for instance. That's no secret.

He turns back to her. "What's that you Americans are so fond of saying? Letting terror change your life is letting the terrorists win, right? Same with this. Wallow in it an' all you're doin' is feeding a different appetite."

A faint, neutral smile graces his lips. "Humanity's a resilient lot. If y'weren't, there'd not likely be any of you left… nor any of us, consequently." Human blood really is all that truly satisfies. "You need to focus on that. This hangin' around cemeteries, staring maudlin'ly at a headstone is the stuff of Jane Austen."

A beat.

"I never liked them fancy stories."


Jane Austen. The very thought of the comparison is enough to make her smile. "I'm no Jane Austin, that's for certain. I always pictured her as some dried up spinster too scared and guilty for having normal human failings to actually do anything about them." She shakes her head. Gives a snort. "I'm no simpering Victorian virgin without a spine."

She stretches out her legs, again massaging her left arm. "I like cemeteries." Simple. "I've never had any problems with dead people. It's the living and some of the undead who've caused me the most grief. Most of the time this place is deserted."

Desiree studies James as he talks, watching his lips move, and the signs of humanity he brings to his face. She knows a mask when she sees one. "Why do you do that?" A pause. "Put on that aura of life, I mean." Her dark head cants to the side, hair sweeping off her shoulder. "Michael does it, too, and I don't mean to sound insulting." A pause. "Ah, it's for self-preservation, isn't it? Blending in with the humans. I'll bet it was really necessary before the Revel."

An understatement.

"Well, I appreciate it, James. I really do. It makes me feel like you give a damn when I know I'm not even a speed bump on the vampire highway. And, you're right. Again. Still. Yet. Always." Soft laughter. "Yeah, we Americans like to pretend we're so much better'n everyone else, too. Look where that's got us."

She clambers to her feet, brushing off the seat of her pants. "It's the whole anniversary thing. Getting my arm out of the cast today, that whole thing. Just kind of hit me sideways. But, I'm a tree, I can bend, like a willow in the wind." She does a pirouette, then looks him in the face. "You dance, James?"


Titus and Brutus return, the pair of them looking smug, faces dirty and paws caked with mud. James glances at them. The facade still in place, he smiles indulgently at them as their tails wag.

"Not well," he says in response to her query as to his dancing ability. In truth, he can do dances from the early part of the 20th Century, or longer ago — if they were peasant dances. But, he's not much for the modern stuff. He also isn't much on for dancing just at this moment. "In any case, I can't linger much longer. I'm expected elsewhere, tonight."

He rarely disappoints his brother.

As to her supposition about the reasons behind his flirtation with humanization, he lets that ride. He feels no desire to get into the subtleties of vampiric emotional experience.

It would probably take all night, in any case.

"I'll bid you good evening, Desiree," he says, instead, inclining his head. "Do yourself a favour: Try to focus on living. I will be in touch."

When he has news.


The responses seem to please her in some way. "Oh, not now, no. Can't quite dance yet with this Olive Oil stick figure arm," she tells him with a sour expression. "Can't over stress the barely healed break. That's one thing I really envy, that whole drink blood to heal thing.

A beat, then, "I keep that little tidbit strictly to myself, though. No need to do the hoodoo voodoo, make me forget thing. Stupid to let that get out."

Maybe stupider to let a vampire know she knows not to let it out.

Just in case, Desiree no longer looks James in the eye. "Yeah, I like the older stuff. Waltzing, tango — bet you'd be amazing at the Argentine Tango or Passo Double. You've the build for it." A quick look, maybe a bit of admiration in her expression.

Some night. "Come dance with me sometime — here, the studio, a parking lot. No matter. I can give you another facade you can use to seem more human."

Or is that "humane?"

"Take care, then." She turns, picks up her jacket, and starts her own trek away, singing some old song from the 60s. Something about not letting the sun catch you crying….


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