The last thing Theresa had expected to find in Chicago was an eighties club. The city hadn't seemed retro enough for it at first, but the second she opened the doors and heard the blast of old school hair metal coming through the speakers she believed she might have found a decent place to hang out. The vampire squeezed through the crowd and found a table near the back, where she asked for and received a Coke. She'd already eaten that night, and the cash in her pocket was practically bellowing to be spent. The song changed just as she sat down, and one shoe tapped a rhythm on the floor as she poked at the ice cubes in her glass.
Maybe this place wouldn't be worse than the final death after all.
Finn didn't like being surrounded by people he didn't know. When he was at his nest, there were always a dozen vampires or more, ready to defend him and his home. It was the privilege that being sheriff of Area Two afforded him. But here, in a new, strange place, there were none such benefits to be had. And so he had to fit in, keep a low profile, and all of those things that he detested. While he was quite certain he could take out the beefed up bouncers who were one step below rent-a-cops, that wouldn't look very good for his kind.
That didn't mean, however, that he had to hide being a vampire. Thanks to Chicago's more liberal nature, it was one of the cities that was slowly getting on board with the Vampire Rights Amendment, and harassing a vampire was already illegal. Finn ordered a bottle of Tru Blood from the bar, B negative, and took a seat on a stool in an area that provided him with a nearly 360 degree view of the club.
One thing Theresa didn't mind about the modern age, teenagers never really seemed to change much. Spoiled, bratty, and oblivious, they spent their days wandering through a fog of self-interest and their nights doing whatever mind-wrecking thing that would keep them from getting bored. The loud music would be the least of their problems if they weren't careful, especially now. She'd already seen a group of other vamps near the front of the club, some of them talking with humans, some just watching the other dancers. Yeah, she could at least grow to like this place.
She got up, smoothed a small wrinkle out of her cargo pants, edged towards the crowd. Her drink could wait. She bumped the chair of the dark-haired guy with his bottle of fake blood, and it was difficult for her to keep her nose from wrinkling with distaste. Call her old-fashioned, she didn't like the man-made stuff. "Hope you didn't spill any."
The male vampire turned his gaze toward the girl, and a faint smile graced his lips. She wasn't part of his pack, but she was alone, which was a good sign. Living in groups for too long often meant a much more hostile, blood-thirsty vampire, which usually turned into a dead vampire sooner or later due to carelessness. "I wouldn't worry about that," Finn told her, and then he noticed the barely hidden expression of disgust on her youthful features. He lifted the bottle slightly. "Did your parents ever teach you that when you eat something less than appetizing for dinner, you get a really good dessert? This is sort of like that."
He set the bottle down and gave her a sweeping glance. "Finn Howard," he said, finally. "And you are...?"
If he stood up, he'd be taller than her, but everyone was taller than she was. Dane used to say dynamite came in small packages, though. "That stuff gives me gas," she snarked, pointing at the bottle. "Its like carbonated water, what's the point?"
She rested one foot on the bottom rung of the closest stool. "Finn. Very New Age. I had a cousin named Clover before. When did you...well, you know."
He leaned against the backrest of the stool, not bothering to raise his voice over the pounding music because he knew she could hear him just fine. "Well, Theresa," he said, "have you seen those sepia-toned photographs from a long, long time ago where everything looks dusty, and everyone looks famished and depressed? I'm from then. But 1930, to be exact. I was 27 when it happened." Finn took a swig of the synthetic blood. "I'm guessing you're not quite as esoteric. But then again, my own maker outnumbered me by over a century, so I suppose it's all relative."
Esoteric. She tried to remember what that meant. Was he making fun of her? She pulled the seat farther out, perched herself on it. "The thirties are a little before my time," she said, adding, "By only about fifty years, but like you said, its relative once your heart quits beating." A one-shouldered shrug.
"Didn't expect to find much that was cool to do around here. I'm what you'd call a transplant. What's the sitch with the Fellowship? I saw some article in the Sun but didn't have time to read it."
Finn cleared his throat, waiting until he was certain she was finished before talking. "The Fellowship of the Sun is a church. They are especially vehement against vampires, just the fact that we exist and we walk the same streets as them. And they aren't just content to pray us off the face of the earth, because I think we all know that doesn't work for shit." He gave a small, amused smile before continuing.
"They train a group of people called the Soldiers of the Sun to fight us, at least, that's the theory. Most branches of the Fellowship have a hard time getting their soldiers to mobilize, and actually succeed in taking down vamps. But so far, in Chicago, they've been disturbingly successful, and the rumor is they're taking V to match up with us in strength. What's even more interesting is that people think the Republican mayoral candidate, a staunch vampire-hater, is supplying the Soldiers with the drug."
Theresa rolled her eyes a little. "Juicers, huh? That figures. When I was still in California, the wave was just starting to hit the state, but fanatics always manage to get lots of attention. What's worse is, most humans are probably dumb enough to buy into it." She didn't bother to lower her voice, and some kids nearby gave her a look. The deceptively youthful face stared back at them blandly until they looked away again.
"I'm apolitical, personally. Its too hard just to get through the day without worrying about who's politicking where."
"Mm. Then you probably haven't met the Queen here, yet. She offers quite a new perspective on politics." His tone was neutral, but his gaze intensified when he mentioned her. As a waitress sauntered by, Finn pushed the half-empty red bottle toward her and turned back to Theresa. "So, you're somewhat new here, but apparently you've made quite a splash. More than one vampire in my area has told me about a girl, a vampire matching your description, and the interesting ways in which you seem to get by in the city."
The sheriff put his hands, palm down, on the table. "I'm only mentioning this because, as a more generous host, I'm welcoming toward newcomers who feel they can be an asset to Area Two. You are aware of the area designations, I assume?"
The smile Theresa offered showed teeth, but it just barely reached her eyes. A lecture was the last thing she wanted, from anyone. "I wouldn't call it a splash," she said mildly. "A gush or a spurt, but not a splash. I'm not exactly cut out for old-school hunting. It makes it easier when they ask for it."
The younger vampire crossed her legs, picked at a loose thread on the sleeve of her shirt. "You're the sheriff here?" she hazarded, but she already knew the answer to that "In Hollywood they were always in-fighting over the job, especially the younger ones. Guess there's not as much of that if the haters are making noise."
"That's clever. But I'm not here to tell you what to do. I only interfere in extreme cases, when a vampire is putting the rest of us at risk, and I feel you are doing nothing of the sort. I only wanted to extend an offer of a place to stay if you need it, and a fresh, willing meal whenever you want it. This doesn't have to be hard," Finn told her earnestly.
"Some of my detractors have criticized me for not being more...exclusive. But I feel that practice is pointless. I know it's very likely that I won't always be a sheriff, so I'm determined to do the job right while I have it, even if it wasn't what I wanted. I'm not power-hungry, nor am I interested in in-fighting and bickering. But I do admit, there are perks to be enjoyed.
"You can see for yourself, if you'd like." The male vampire was making a strategic move; he didn't want Theresa to meet vampires like Jensen or Faye. He had heard rumblings, things more than mere rumor, and neither of them seemed to have very long in the world.
Maybe she could like him, maybe she couldn't. Theresa tended to divide men into two categories, those who could be used and those who couldn't. She'd been a whore when she was alive, and the early experience hadn't worn off with the passing of the years. If anything, she'd become more and more likely to take what she could and then get out before the wheels came off, more likely to exploit any weakness she could. She adjusted the braid of dark hair where it lay on her shoulder, let go of the end of it.
"I can look out for myself, but thank you." She'd had to since Dane was destroyed, but she wasn't about to share that little factoid. Her maker was her own business and no one else's. "Are you recruiting for your posse, Finn? Trying to see who's for sale, maybe? Maybe I could even be interested."
Finn smiled, an expression that was non-threatening, but still had an edge nonetheless. "I don't need to recruit. Vampires come and go as they please. I have no doubt you can take of yourself; you're obviously resourceful. Just think it over. The invitation is always open." The male vampire stood, adjusting his jacket. In a swift moment imperceptible to the human eye, he withdrew a folded slip of paper and tossed it on the table in front of Theresa.
She looked at it, then made it disappear into one of her pockets. Contacts were good to have, if nothing else, and if she ever did need help it might be a good idea to remember Mr. Finn Howard. He seemed earnest enough, if a little geeky, and he displayed no interest in getting on top of her. That last thing was a definite bonus.
"I'll keep it in mind," she said, inclining her head. "Like you said, I'm new here. If this church thing blows up like it's threatening to, a hard rain could fall."