Nadia's text is mysterious- much like my best friend herself, since she became a teenage vampire four years ago:
Meet me at the Falcon- come alone
The Gilded Falcon is the only cool bar in our small northeastern town. Sometimes I think it's the only bar in town, since it's the only one where anything seems to happen. It's been exploded and rebuilt a time or two (or is it three? It's been an eventful half decade, hard to keep track), but each time it seems to come back exactly the same. Just like us.
Anyway, none of the bouncers there check our IDs anymore, so even tho' technically we're all seventeen or eighteen for the rest of eternity, we spend a reasonable amount of time at Falcon's, drinking things other than blood. Well, except for Freja, who was spelled to violently reject anything but the blood of virgins a few months back. We're still working on a cure for that, primarily because virgins are a rapidly dwindling commodity ever since Cyrus came into (as it were) his incubus heritage.
The Falcon looks closed as I approach (it keeps super-weird hours that oddly seem to coincide with when we need privacy), but I don't trust the quiet. I stop across the street and glance around for anyone hiding in the shadows: nothing. Then I concentrate for a moment on my hearing, listening for anything out of the ordinary. Little bumps and scrapes coming from inside the bar indicate the presence of more than just Nadia. I listen harder, but the problem with being super-powered immortal beings is that we've gotten in the habit of speaking very softly just in case someone with super-powered-hearing is listening. I can hear at least two voices, but can't make out what they're saying. Two more-or-less human heartbeats, tho', which is surprising: that means that, in addition to Nadia, at least Portia and Emir are in there.
Is it a surprise party? I wonder. But there's no occasion for a surprise party. My birthday was at the beginning of summer, and my deathday isn't until Christmas (and yes, it's just as obnoxious to share a deathday with Christmas as it is to share a birthday, even if it did give me a few extra vampire powers).
Eventually I shrug and cross the street. There's no sound of a struggle, so it's unlikely that whatever's going on means trouble for me.
Oh how wrong I am.
There are nine- no, wait, eleven. There are eleven of us now that I've walked through the front door: the core five who started it all, and the six others who have wandered in and out of our lives since the day James and Nadia pledged their eternal love. Of course, James is with Rei now, but we all get along tolerably well, even tho I haven't seen some of these people in at least three years.
"Hey guys," I say, trying not to feel paranoid. "What's up?"
"This is an intervention, Ruby," says Nadia, and I can see her luminescent brown eyes are welling up with tears.
"For whom?" I ask, trying not to glance at Cyrus, who is currently nuzzling Emir's neck. Emir looks vaguely bored, which is not a typical expression for a teenage werewolf.
"For you, Ruby," says Heinrich, placing a protective hand on Nadia's delicate shoulder. He's capable of brooding even more impressively than his cousin, James, and he turns the full force of that troubled look at me now. "We're worried about you, Ruby."
"About me?" I grin. "Why would you be worried about me? I'm the most drama-free person in this room!" I mean it as a joke, but... it's actually true. Really true. Ten sets of inhumanly beautiful eyes stare back at me, and my smile falters.
"Ruby, you know we love you," says Muriel. She's the newest in our little group, just pulled into our dimension last year, so I'm not really sure that she's had time to grow to "love" me, but-
"So much," says Nadia.
"So much," Muriel agrees, nodding her white-blonde head earnestly. "But Ruby, have you ever thought that maybe you just..." she trails off, helpless.
"Maybe you're not good for the group," Hiro says, firmly. I give him a raised eyebrow.
"I'm not good for the group? I'm not the one whose weird twin-magic," I cock my head towards his sister Rei, "Had everyone body-hopping for three months. Or the one who let their demon-turned father," I shift my gaze to James, "Blackmail them- with some stupid shit, quite frankly- into providing all of our blood for dark rituals. In fact, I'm the one who stopped him-"
"By killing him!" James bursts out, eyes going red with rage-induced blood-lust. Rei places a restraining hand on his chest, but I'm in no mood to coddle him.
"Hell yes by killing him," I shoot back. "He killed Lydia! He killed Dawn! He killed Aaron and he was going to kill Portia again! And every time he killed, his demon-self got stronger and more evil! Of course I killed him!"
"There might have been a way to redeem-"
"There wasn't," I say, flatly. "Keeping him alive would have lead to more deaths, and you know it."
"Then why did you kill Kate?" asks Freja, coldly. "She was just a mortal, and hadn't killed anyone at all."
I throw up my hands in exasperation. "She didn't kill anyone because I snapped her neck before she could. And the only reason I was able to snap her neck was because she was still mortal which, if you'll recall, she was looking to change within the next month by killing a werewolf vampire hybrid," I glare at Heinrich, "With that damned cursed dagger she had! I just stopped things from getting beyond our ability to deal with them."
"That's just it!" Nadia bursts out. "You're always doing that lately!"
"Always saving the day?" The sarcasm dripping from my voice causes her to flinch, but I'm irritated enough by this ludicrous situation not to care.
"Always stopping things before they get really interesting," Cyrus complains.
"Wait- what?" this draws me up short.
"Yeah," says Emir. "You killed Kate before she could ascend as Hecate and we all sort of... went home. End of story."
"And that's bad?" my voice raises an octave with my incredulity.
"Very bad," says Muriel, seriously. "We're teenage vampires-"
"And re-embodied ghosts."
"And dragon spirits."
"The point," Muriel says loudly, "Is that we're immortal creatures of the night, and you're too pragmatic."
"You're making it boring," Rei pouts. "When you figured out that James and I had secretly fallen in love, and that Nadia and Heinrich were actually eternally-bound soul mates, you made us all sit down and talk it out and we had everything resolved within three days. That's not how epic love stories are supposed to work!"
"And just last week," Cyrus adds, "You smashed the Mirror of Ancients before anyone could get trapped in their past lives."
"...are you fucking kidding me right now? Did you want to spend a few centuries stuck as a medieval peasant?"
"We just want you to try," pleads Nadia.
"Try what?" I snap. "Try letting some psycho actually get all the way through their plan to suck Hallowshade into a hell dimension, without interrupting them?"
"You don't have to go that big right away," Portia says quickly. "Maybe start with something a little smaller. Like a love-triangle with a normal human couple, and in the end you selflessly leave so they can live out their mortal lives together."
"One," I hold up a finger, "that sounds incredibly pointless for everyone involved. And two," I hold up a second finger, "there are barely any normal humans left in this town, anyway. Pretty much everyone has some sort of mystical connection going on."
"They could be outsiders?" Hiro said, helpfully.
"Still dumb," I snarl.
"Okay, okay, no love triangles," says Portia. "What about-"
Cyrus suddenly brightens. "What about a mystical preg-"
"If you finish that sentence, Cyrus, I will rip your fucking tongue out." I mean this quite literally, and I'm certain he realizes it, because he shuts up. There's an uncomfortable silence.
"Look, Ruby," Heinrich says at last, drawing himself up to his full, impressive height. "If you're not willing to change, then we can't be a party to your actions any longer."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"It means," Nadia's tears have spilled over and are running down her perfectly sculpted cheekbones, gleaming silver in the bar lights. "It means we can't... we can't..."
"We can't be friends with you any longer," says Freja, voice gone from cold to glacial.
"Yeah, I got that part," I say, rolling my eyes. "But what does it mean? Are you just going to give me the eternal silent treatment? Or are we going to be, like, mortal enemies now? Should I be looking over my shoulder for alternating assassination/reconciliation attempts?"
No one answers me- in fact they're all avoiding eye contact. I heave a giant sigh, because I know how this has to go. Have seen it coming for a while, if I'm being brutally honest with myself.
"You know what, never mind," I say. "If you guys hadn't said anything, I probably would have, myself. You haven't exactly been subtle with the way you ignore my perfectly straightforward plans in favor of your elaborate schemes. I'll make this easier on all of us and just take my leave. Give me a couple days to pack up my shit and forward my mail, and I'll be out of your hair. I'm sure I can find a nice, non-magical-magnet sort of place to settle down and pass a quiet couple of centuries."
"Ruby-" cries Nadia as I spin on my heel, and her sorrow is exquisite enough to break your heart. But I know that me leaving like this, all big-gesture-y, will give her more of what she needs than me staying to work things out ever could. Besides, I'm just so exhausted by all of the convoluted drama, and it's only been five years since vampires came into our lives, and two years since I turned. The idea of doing this for the rest of eternity makes me want to stake myself, and so I keep going, ignoring James as he mutters,
"Forward her mail? See, that's exactly why she had to go. In all my three-hundred years, I've never forwarded my mail. It's just so mundane..."
(In Case You Were Curious)
Ruby- a vampire with "a few extra powers". Like pragmatism.
Freja- vampire witch
Cyrus- vampire incubus
Portia- re-embodied ghost
Rei- water-dragon spirit
Heinrich- vampire-werewolf hybrid
Muriel- vampire from a hell dimension
Hiro- fire-dragon spirit