Blood is Red

Dallas Public Library

The library is a rather large building that extends two levels. Security gates at the entrance lead past a long rectangular circulation desk where patrons may check out or return books. Across from the circulation desk is large, archaic looking card catalogue beside which is a computer that is set up to locate books. Following the typical Dewey Decimal Classification System, the rows of shelves are laid out systematically, with large signs overhead so that patrons can find precisely what they are looking for. Study carols and tables line the walls, and one corner of the library is set aside for two separate lecture rooms that can booked for meetings.

A dark night outside, still and quiet across the city, the witching hour has been and gone. Inside the library, inside a small room, a dark-haired man ponders quietly over a set of cards. Layed out in front of him, all face up and waiting. Somewhere outside the room, and a distance away is a small gaggle of well-paid and confused people.

Idly, William Grant taps a finger against the table he is seated at. He watches the play of synthetic light over the dully gleaming rings on his fingers. Content, even relaxed.

Working late in the reference section, Chloe finally pulls her head out of the stacks. She should be getting home, not, she figures, that she has much to go home -to-. Still, she really should have been gone several hours ago instead of hiding out here. Now it's dark, and she will have things that go bump in the night to deal with on her way home.

After a short period, Will exits his small room, prowling the stacks seeking his target. Preternatural senses will help with that sort of thing, and it's not long before he sets himself just ahead of her, greeting with a smile and a "Hello, Chloe."

A hand reaches out to grab the nearest stack, and she just stares blankly at him. After processing who he is, Chloe mumbles, "Oh. It's you." A hand is rubbed over her face to try and hide her embarrassment. "What are you doing here?"

Will has the grace to wince slightly, before allowing a brief smile. "Saying hello," he replies, simply, "and wondering if you're particularly busy. Apologies for startling you."

"It's atrociously late! I was the only one her— how long have you been here?" Chloe tilts her head, then moves to go around him. Trying to get to the staff room where her coat and keys are located.

A dark night outside, still and quiet across the city, the witching hour has been and gone. Inside the library, inside a small room, a dark-haired man ponders quietly over a set of cards. Layed out in front of him, all face up and waiting. Somewhere outside the room, and a distance away is a small gaggle of well-paid and confused people.

Idly, William Grant taps a finger against the table he is seated at. He watches the play of synthetic light over the dully gleaming rings on his fingers. Content, even relaxed.

"Approximately fifteen minutes," Will tells her, with a half-smile lifting at his lips. He steps aside, letting her past but breaking into step barely a quarter-stride behind. "It's actually rather early. Are you busy?"

"On my way home," Chloe remarks. Nothing else is said until she makes it to the door of the staff room, farther along the hallway. "How did you manage to get in here fifteen minutes ago? Everything should have been locked up…"

"So perhaps you would have fifteen minutes spare?" Will asks, pleasantly. He glances towards the door. "Not everything was locked, I'm afraid."

"Ten," she says. "Not a moment more." Chloe opens the door to the staff room, extracting her jacket and purse, then spins to look at him. "The count down starts now, so get on with what you want." She seems less pleasant, and more irritable at having been surprised.

"Okay," Will says, "then to business. What sort of distance away from someone do you start to hear them?"

"What are you…" Chloe just glares at him. "I don't. It's all up here," she says, pointing at her temple. "In the land of Chloe's Crazy Brain and Make Believe."

"If, of course, it were not make believe," Will says, keeping the sigh from his voice if not his internal monologue. "I have the test you agreed to take part in ready for you."

"I never agreed to a test!" Chloe frowns at him. "Oh, wait, I did. To prove you are absolutely as crazy as I am for thinking I can actually read what people are thinking."

"Indeed you did," Will replies, leaning against a wall, thumbs entering pockets. "I must admit, every moment you spend procrastinating is a somewhat unfair chunk being taken from my ten minutes."

"Then get to it," she says, huffily. Chloe does not look thrilled at all to be blindsided with this.

Tilting his head to one side, Will studies her, intently. "If you would rather, we can arrange a different time, and merely discuss the methodology this evening."

"No, I would rather get this over with," she says frustratedly. "So explain the methodology and then get to it…"

"Simple," Will replies, with a sudden cheery flash of teeth and something resembling youthful interest flitting across a usually relatively impassive face. "You, sitting in a room. Outside the door, I show a coloured card to someone, then ask them to think hard about that colour. I then ask you what colour you have seen. Preliminary, and relies on your honestly, but it will serve to prove to you if nothing else."

He's obviously not aware that she's a heavily medicated individual, which will likely skew the results of his experiment. "Fine, lead the way." Chloe slings her coat over her arm and then stares at him. "But if the results aren't what you wanted, don't say I didn't warn you."

Shaking his head, the vampire begins to walk, a quickstep back towards his room. "The results will show you. I-" He pauses in speech, obviously catching himself short. "—just trust me. Please."

"Fine." Chloe glares at the back of his head, then goes to enter the room. "So I just sit here and tell you the color?"

"Indeed. I will have the relevant colour in an envelope which I shall give to you at the same time," Will says. "Without being able to perform full analysis, this sorry excuse for experimentation will have to serve. Please." He gestures into the room.

"I suddenly feel like you're Peter Venkman and this is the beginning of the Ghostbusters movie," she says with a frown. "I draw the line at you attaching electrodes to me." Chloe enters, then takes a seat.

"MRI, EEG and MEG would certainly be useful, though—" Will suddenly pauses, backtracking and turning to face the girl. "A good movie," he allows, with a sudden smile. "Excuse my enthusiasm. I understand why it may not be infectious."

"It's fine." Chloe ushers him to get started, dropping her coat and purse to the floor.

"Benigne," Will says, nodding, before suddenly not being there any more, though the door closes with eery silence considering the speed. A few seconds later, it opens a crack. "I am about to do the first." It slips shut again, and outside, an unglamoured though rather confused youth stares at a piece of card. Red. Red. Red.

Again the door opens, this time with a Will slipping through with an envelope. "Well?" he asks, holding the thick paper up in one hand.

Chloe is staring at the table. Her head hurts. She's digging down into her purse, with a very unhappy look upon her face. "Red."

With only the tiniest hint of a smile, Will slowly opens the envelope, holding it forwards for her to take. "There. Have a look."

"Don't have to," Chloe says. Pill bottle now in hand, she opens it up. Crap. No water. Regardless, she opens the bottle and pulls out a blue pill, which she sets between her lips.

One of Will fingers lifts, as though he suddenly realises what she is doing. "Don't," he entreats, with depth and meaning, conviction staunch in his voice. "Don't take it, Chloe. You do not need it. You are not sick."

Chloe glares at him. The pill is removed from her lips and placed on the table. "I'd rather be sick than a freak," she says evenly. The frown becoming deeper now.

"Speaking as someone who has been a freak for a very long time," Will replies, only his lips moving, the rest of his body motionless, "as someone despised and hunted by the world at large, I can tell you that you will never escape it. You must come to terms with it."

"These work just fine, thank you." Chloe fiddles with the pill, then glowers. "Continue. Next test subject."

Slowly shaking his head, Will retreat from the room, catlike in his poise. "We both know that is untrue. Next subject." He steps out, the door closing again then opening a crack for the acknowledgement, then the vampire returns for good, another envelope in his hand. Blue radiates from the other room. A feminine blue, wondering when she's getting the other half of the cash she's owed.

"Pale blue, and the woman wants her money." Pause. "I think you frighten her a little." Chloe rubs at her temples, staring at the pill. She really should have taken it earlier, but she got stuck in the stacks and now she's royally screwed.

"Two of two," Will says, head tilting to look her in the eyes, his own sparkling with the joy of something new. "Those pills are poisoning you against your nature. Against your potential. A human telepath—" His smile widens, a little guiltily, and he steps back again. "Sorry. I know you are uncomfortable with it."

"I suffer from psychosis. It has nothing to do with telepathy." Uncomfortable with it doesn't begin to describe how Chloe feels. "If I were a less honest person, you'd be gone by now."

"But you would know the truth, as I do," Will replies. He leans against the wall, one foot lifting to be flat against it, both hands behind his back. "Tell me of your psychosis?"

"We've been over this!" Chloe just frowns. "Aren't you going to parade more terrified people toward the room with color thoughts?"

"Are you suggesting psychosis in addition to your telepathy?"

"I'm suggesting that I don't have telepathy," Chloe states, fiddling with the pill again.

"Yet twice now you have accurately named the colour in question," Will replies.

"What other colors were you going to toss at me? Puce? Pretty sure I had a fifty percent chance there."

"Fifty percent?" Will queries, with an amused look. "I have eleven colours, and six paid people. Each time I select a colour, which could be the same one, by picking from a pile of envelopes. The matching envelope then comes in here to you. You're currently running at one hundred and twenty one to one against, and that's assuming you knew the colours. Shall we go to thirteen hundred and thirty one?"

"Whatever." Chloe keeps fiddling with the pill, oh-so-tempted to pop it and be done with this whole mess. "Your ten minutes are nearly up," she points out.

"Then we'll do two in quick succession, taking us over fourteen thousand," Will tells her. He rapidly retreats from the room, the same as before. Within thirty seconds he is back in, an envelope in hand. The bored youth outside thinks orange. Then an orange. Then lunch. Then orange again.

"He's hungry," she says, with a heavy sigh. She reaches into her purse again, and extracts a Christmas orange. "Give him this."

Looking vaguely confused, Will suddenly breaks into a chuckle. "One more," he says, eyes alight with a twinge of excitement. He steps out again, the process repeated, and Will comes back in, another envelope in hand. Outside, a man thinks of red. The red of blood.

The red of blood he's gonna drain from the vampire scum in the room he's getting his silver chain out ready to rip into the fucking scum and drain him fucking dry get rich quick V want V—

"Stay put," she says as calmly as possible. Then, suddenly, Chloe flies out of the room. Door swinging behind her. She's definitely not a fighter, but she's got a can of pepper spray in her hands which she flashes the guy in question in the eyes with.

Throwing the slender chain forwards, the stocky man outside is surprised first at the lack of a vampire, then at the presence of a girl, then at the sudden agony of his eyes. Screaming in fiery pain, the man stumbles backwards.

There is a flash of movement, and the man is suddenly upright, whimpering as two pale fingers under his chin hold him up and his eyes burn with the pepper spray. Standing behind him, face utterly calm, and with his other hand locking one of the man's arms tightly behind is Will. The vampires eyes roll upwards momentarily, as though looking into his own skull.

"Don't kill him," Chloe squeaks. Though while the man is dangling there, she goes to remove the silver from his person. "V is illegal, let the police deal with him…"

"Francis Kenneth Davies of Blue Ridge," Will says, barely above a murmur. "A drainer. A disgusting wretch of a man, desperate for his next fix, and wanting to murder an innocent man in order to do so, and to make money." The vampire twitches his head in a shake. "Death is too good for you. I will not kill you."

Divested of his silver, and starting to sob, the stocky man begins to plead. "Please don't… don't turn me over to the cops. Just… I promise I'll never do it again. Please." Eyes still red with the pepper spray, he tries desperately to look pleadingly at Chloe.

"You have two choices, Mister Davies. Being turned over to the police would be far better for you. However…" Chloe looks over at the vampire. "Can't you do something to uhh… make him forget? I read about that somewhere, though I can't recall if it was a truth or a falseity…"

"Oh," says Will, "I don't think my friend Frank will be saying anything to police other than what he's been trying to do." Slowly, the vampire lifts the sobbing man to his tip toes, increasing the cries by at least an octave. "Will you?" He glances over towards Chloe.

"Nonono, of course not," cries Mr Davies. "Just… please… don't hurt me. I'll talk to the cops! Honest!"

Chloe winces at the cries, and goes to the phone on the wall. After dialing for the police, she shakes her head. "They're on their way, but uhh… I really don't trust him."

"Don't worry," Will says, "because I'll check in with the police to ensure that he's done as he's told." Briefly, Francis is taken off his feet, releasing a short, sharp shriek. "Otherwise, I may pay a visit to little Jessica. Perhaps to your old grandmamma, Frank? Over on Cherry Tree Way?"

Mad eyes twist over to the vampire, abject terror providing clarity of thought for Francis Davies. "How do you—?"

"Never mind. You'll play nice with the police, won't you, Frank?" The glamour drives into his mind, hard staring pale blue eyes delivering the power with ease. "You'll answer all their questions honestly, although you followed me here from a cafe where you saw me drinking synthetic, didn't you? You're not really going to remember what the person I was with looked like, not even sure if it was a male or a female. Probably some fangbanger. Then you'll talk to Erica when she comes to visit you in jail, of course."

"Yeah… yeah I will… sure…" Calmer now, Frank seems to relax somewhat, agreeing with the creature currently holding him barely off the floor.

The man asks the same question as Chloe is about to. She makes a face, wondering what's going on. When the man relaxes, she goes to tie him up with his own silver chains.

It's not long before the police arrive, and when they do they simply go where she points them, preparing to take him out the door and bring him down to the station for questioning.

Frank seems to take his burden of guilt with aplomb, and the police do their work in short order. Will passes over a card, assuring the police that he will happily make a statement, though he's a little busy right now. Unusually, the uniformed officers agree readily.

Watching them go, Will finally turns to Chloe, his tee slightly rumpled from where he had held the man. "I think perhaps my ten minutes is up. What was the final colour?"

"Red," Chloe says. She's a bit shaken by the whole thing, and quickly goes back into the room to down the pill. Suppress the noises. Suppress the voices. Be safe. Not deal with this sort of thing again.

Slipping a hand into his pocket, and drawing forth the envelope, Will opens it with a smile. He follows Chloe, before standing still, not even trying to stop her taking the pill. "At a final tally of fourteen thousand, six hundred and fourty one to one against. Thank you, by the way."

"No matter what I am or not," Chloe says, relaxing now that the pill is going to work it's magic mojo on her brain, "I was not about to let anyone get killed in /my/ library." Frowning, she folds her arms over her chest. "Neither you, nor him. Wouldn't do. Too much press, too much noise… I'd have to find a new job."

Nodding, "I concur. Wouldn't do." He allows his look to pass over her. "Would you like an escort home?"

"Er…" Chloe shakes her head. "No, I'll just give my brother a call and have him swing by here once he's off work." Safer that way.

"Will you be alright here on your own?" Will asks.

"I generally am," she replies, "Unless I have strange yo— how old are you anyhow?"

"Honesty for honesty," he suggests. "As of this year, I am eight hundred and thirty five years old." He leans again, his standard relaxation against the wall, radiating calm.

"Then I'm generally alright here so long as I don't have strange /old/ men scaring the Hell out of me," Chloe remarks, a small smirk tugging at her lips.

"It's okay," Will replies, dryly, "I'll scare them off for you."

"I've chased my demons away for the night," she says. The pill was helpful in keeping her calm after the fact, with all the thoughts flitting about by those outside. "Thank you for the offer though."

"I have a horrible feeling I may be somewhat in your debt," Will says, flashing her an amused, teasing look. "You have my number, if anything— I'm sorry, I have to tell some people about a drainer assaulting me in full public view." Namely, people who work for him who can trace the man and any colleagues he might have. "We really should try and have something resembling a civil meeting one of these days."

"Just…" Chloe rubs at her temples, then sighs. "… tell them that I kept the library open late for you? Please… please don't give away my problem? I will consider that a debt repaid if you wish…"

"I would not anyway," Will says, with a tiny shrug. "It is not my place. You kept the library open at the request of someone who could not otherwise use it, is all." He glances over to her again, before resuming his study of the opposite wall. "Suffice to say that you are not alone."

"Thank you," she says, more sincerely. "I've worked hard to keep myself away from those who used to know me. Easy to do in a city this size, but I don't want to go through all that again." Chloe turns to stare at the wall wondering what is so interesting. "You'll need a book for it to be believable…"

Will's eyes close, his lips tighten for a brief moment. "You will not need to go through it again. I will repay my debt to you now. If you ever run into trouble with a vampire in Dallas, simply say that you have already been claimed by Will Grant. It is a technicality that means no other vampire will touch you. I am making no real claim over you. Does that make sense?"

Chloe blinks at him. "Not really, but then again I'm not privy to the vampire life," she admits. "So, it's basically a free pass and if I'm bothered, they'll leave me be?" Beat. "No strings attached?"

"Do not abuse it, and do not share it with anyone," Will says, his voice level and serious. "If you are bothered, they will leave you. No strings, at least from me."

"I would never… besides, it's not like I have a whole load of people just waiting to break down my door and befriend me." Chloe shakes her head, then nods. "No abuse, mainly because I figure I won't need it." At least she hopes she won't.

Will shrugs. "You keep odd hours… for a mortal. It is not impossible another vampire will spot that you are unusual." He turns his head, looking directly at her. "I will be in touch."

"But I'm not unusual! I'm…" She only sort of proved that she was unusual. Chloe sighs. "Well let's just hope that doesn't happen. I might not be so nice to the next vampire…"

"You will," Will says, gently. "You are a good person. Fare thee well." There is a faint blur, and the vampire has gone. Somewhere along the line he has taken a copy of a book on psychology and psychosis — a fairly advanced one at that.

"Goodb—" But he's already gone. Once she realizes that, Chloe slumps against the wall. "Man, I really have to learn to stop saying things outloud… or avoid bookstores," she mutters at herself.

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