Finn smiled to himself in the dark as his fingertips ran across the cold stonework of the dormant fireplace. It was like tracing a design he knew very well, and he needn't even open his eyes. He knew what firewood to gather, what made the best kindling, and even what the heat of the flames felt like when he came too close to the hearth. He hadn't done this in over one hundred years, but it was in the memory of his body.
The vampire sheriff looked up at the sound of footsteps on the concrete steps outside. He brushed his palms together and dust trailed off into the empty air of the living room. It smelled of old blood; Finn had no doubt that Jensen had brought home a few of his many victims. The sofa had a trace scent of perfume, most likely the only remnant of one of the young girls that the rogue vampire so favored.
Donald Jensen had owned the house on Cicero since 1962 ... when he was still human and married to his high school sweetheart. When he was turned in 1979 and turned his wife into his first undead meal, keeping the house seemed to make sense. It was comfortable, familiar. Jensen always knew where it was, and he didn't live out his unlife like other vampires, wondering where he was going to sleep every day. He had a comfy bed, complete with sun-blocking blinds and drapes. That, combined with its relative distance from the bulk of the city, made this an ideal lair.
Why would he want to leave?
Turning the keys to unlock the front door, Jensen froze. His nostrils flared once, then twice. Someone was in his house. Someone dead. Tightening his hold on the doorknob, Jensen smiled. He hated being surprised in his own home like this.
Pushing the door open, Jensen crossed the threshold, his boots clomping against the hardwood floor. "If you're looking for something shiny to steal, try next door," he groused. "I hear they've got a 72-inch plasma."
Finn had seated himself into an armchair, his jacket slung over one upholstered arm. "Now, we both know I'm not interested in that," he replied archly. "I came by for a small chat, but you weren't present, so I let myself in. Hope you don't mind." The vampire's tone of voice made it very clear that he didn't care if Jensen did.
"Did you know that almost every vampire in my area knows you by the trail of bodies you leave behind? That you are sloppy, careless, and worst of all ... highly visible? Now, I know you have nothing but disdain for the Fellowship of the Sun, but I will remind you that they killed the previous sheriff, my maker, and he was three times older and four times smarter than you. Now why don't you explain to me why you seem to have a great wish to stand before the magister, because that is exactly where you are heading if you don't stop this foolishness."
He looked up at the younger vampire, an expression of anger undulating beneath his usually placid features.
Jensen chuckled, shaking his head as he placed his keys on their place by the front door. He shut the door behind him, removing his brown leather coat and tossing it over the railing to the staircase. "So, let me get this straight," he mused. "You let yourself into my home, claim to know all this stuff about who I am and how I operate, when ... I'm not even really sure who you are. I mean, you see my mental conundrum here, right?"
Jensen flicked on the light in the living room, his white hair immediately visible. He stared at the bloodsucker sitting in his chair, a twinge of recognition tickling the back of his head. Jensen had seen this particular vampire before, probably in passing. He didn't know who this was, but he didn't appreciate the lack of decorum.
"A sheriff made you," he added, walking to an ice bucket on the coffee table and producing a bottle of human blood from it. None of that fake bottled shit for Jensen; he insisted on the genuine product, no matter how he got it. Jensen poured himself a glass, taking a sip and returning the bottle to its bucket. He left the lid off in case the other vampire wanted a drink; just because he didn't want the guy here didn't mean Jensen wasn't going to exercise good hosting manners.
"So ... either you're blowing smoke up my ass, or you're a sheriff, too." He gave the vampire a discerning glare. "You look awful young ..."
He did not move a muscle, but sat stock still in the chair as Jensen spoke. When he was finished, Finn smiled, his fangs appearing as he did so. "My name is Finn Howard, and I'm the sheriff of Area Two. You're under my jurisdiction, Donald Jensen, and I must tell you, the members of my nest were chomping at the bit to come here tonight and dismember you limb from limb. No one would really notice if you disappeared. I, however, showing a small affinity of compassion for my citizens, decided to come here and reason with you tonight. Now I fear that is not possible." He eyed the bottle as he spoke.
"I'm 106 years old. You have been a vampire for about ... thirty years, correct? You are the young one in my eyes."
The constant contradiction of vampirism; the dead walking around as if they are alive, the old appearing young while the young are in fact old. Jensen chuckled almost in spite of himself, sitting back in his chair. He understood why a sheriff would frown upon his actions, particularly in light of the Great Revelation. What Jensen didn't approve of were Finn's actions just now, and his arrogance in thinking he could get vampires to all act in accordance of some unwritten rule.
"Let me guess," Jensen said matter-of-factly. "You want me to stop hunting and eating co-eds."
He shrugged his shoulders. Jensen could do that if Finn so wished; he just preferred doing things his own way. It was part of what made being a vampire so great, the liberating feeling of doing pretty much whatever he wanted. This felt like oppression designed to take away that liberation.
"And I get, what? A 6-pack for my compliance? Or do I get really lucky and you put a 12-pack in my fridge?"
"You keep your fangs. You don't suffer a torturous death that only monsters like us could dream up." Finn leaned back in the chair and studied the white-haired vampire. He was a type A, an alpha without a pack. The personality of a serial killer stuffed into an undead body with the means to commit those crimes. He was the ideal archetype for the Fellowship, the red-fanged hunter who would eat all the children and corrupt all the women. Jensen was the most dangerous thing that could happen to the vampires of Chicago.
"I'm not going to ask you to not kill. I'm going to ask you to not kill girls with families, girls with connections and very solid bodies that people stumble across. You can choose to disregard this request ... but the consequences will catch up with you, and they will be very painful consequences. That isn't a threat, it's an inevitability."
Finishing his glass of blood -- the finest imported from Thailand, a little sweeter than American fare -- Jensen nodded. He understood; really, he did. In some cities, a sheriff would've probably just burnt his house to the ground and taken away his fangs or whatever other gruesome technique they employed. Finn, though, at least had the curteosy to talk to Jensen first. Even if he disagreed with the sheriff, Jensen had to at least admire Finn for his approach.
"Less co-eds, more hookers and homeless chicks," he said with a grin. "Got it."
Jensen reached for the bucket again, pouring himself another glass before grabbing an empty one and pouring blood into it as well. He slid the glass along the coffee table Finn's way before sitting back with his glass, raising it in front of him.
"Cheers. To an ... understanding."
Finn picked up the glass but he did not drink. He preferred his blood straight from the vein, and he had a ready-made meal waiting for him at home. Still, he lifted the glass to keep up appearances. He still wasn't convinced Jensen would convert his ways, but at least the sheriff had tried. Hard work reaped its own rewards, of this he had always been certain, even at the darkest, lowest points of his human life. And he would not let a careless upstart ruin his unlife.