The following scene represents an experiment. After the events of Fort Funston, during actual gameplay, I indicated that Scout tried to get some blood on her way home, we briefly rolled for it, then the game moved on. However, while delving deeper into Scout’s narrative for this project, I realized that this scene represented a unique opportunity to branch out narratively and explore some more of her character. So just as with The Church Scene, none of this was RPed, but is important nonetheless.
Content warnings definitely apply again, though from a novel perspective.
“Last call!” the bartender barks to the room, nonchalantly ducking the subsequent assault of peanut shells and boos. A new surge of people rushes to the bar, jostling between the stools. Scout sits well away from the melee, down the bar in a shadow-drenched seat half-obscured from the bartender’s line of sight. Undoubtedly, its sequestered position was why it had been empty when she came in, but it suited her purposes perfectly.
She scans the crowd vacantly. By the time she’d escaped the Fort Funston tunnels and stumbled out of the dunes to this bar, the patrons had thinned to only the most inebriated barflies. She’d hunted such crowds before, but right now she has no desire to risk dulling her own senses with spiked blood, considering the events of the evening so far.
But, then again, it’s also a night I really could use a drink. She runs a hand slowly across the bar, feeling decades of carvings squeezed into the wood, her fingers lingering along the ones cut with the most expert precision. A thrill of pride rushes through her as she remembers the battles of the evening but it soon fades back into frustration, and doubt. Even now, just thinking about her discussion to eliminate Cantor sends her blood bond twisting around her throat.
Her hand clenches and drops to her lap. All these years fighting his will, and I’m still not strong enough. Could she convince Fatima to help her? Would the older Assamite even be able to?
Not that it matters, she thinks, picking flecks of mud off her pants. I don’t have any way to contact her. She could have been killed in the battle, or left the area in search of reinforcements….
Scout shifts on her stool, moving to slide off. It’s getting late, and her hunger isn’t pressing yet. She should figure out a way back up to her inn at Lands End and try hunting again tomorrow–
A coaster slaps onto the bar in front of her. “Alright, what will it be?”
Scout jerks, fighting the instinctive urge to wink out of sight. The bartender–a young man with South Pacific complexion–is there, watching her over folded arms, a wry look on his face.
Scout stares back a moment, frozen to the stool. “…Thank you, but it’s fine. It’s after last call, anyway.”
He jerks his chin up the bar. “Maybe for the rest of them, but you haven’t had a drop since you came in.”
“No really, it’s okay, I’m just…” she hesitates, mind racing, “…Waiting for a tow for my car. I think the battery’s dead.”
“Ahh.” He takes the coaster away and wipes down the bar. “Well, I’m going to be done here soon. If you want, I can take a look at it, maybe pull my truck around and give it a jump–” Suddenly he stops, then turns away, busying himself with straightening glasses. “…But if you want to wait for the pros, no worries,” he finishes with forced nonchalance.
Scout frowns at his change in tone. “Why? You worried about wandering off alone with strange women from bars?”
Even in the darkness, his face blushes noticeably. “No ma’am, I just didn’t want to give you the wrong impression. My tita would come down here personally to whoop my ass if I did.” Still fussing with the glasses, he meets her gaze shyly and smiles.
A new thrill shoots through her, triggered by the warmth of his eyes and the coy tilt to his smile. A different sort of hunger, one not fulfilled in a very, very long time.
Scout shifts again on her stool, gaze suddenly lingering on his exposed forearms working in front of her, tracing the Polynesian tattoos sleeved down bronze skin, watching the muscles underneath flex like oiled cords. “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name…?”
“Justin.” She matches his smile. “Who’s Tita?”
Justin chuckles. “No, my tita. My auntie. She’s made sure to teach me how to treat women.”
“Like helping us with car trouble?”
“Well, yes. But mostly never making you feel like you’ll be forced to do something you don’t want to do.” He tenses, staring at the empty glass in his hand. “Or…not ‘you’ in particular. In general…I mean….” His words trail off as he ducks lower under the bar, rummaging for something and avoiding her gaze.
A poignant ache wilts her smile. She watches him work silently a few moments. By the time he stands, his coy smirk has returned. “So, if whatever tow company you called bailed on you, I can call for another. There’s a few good ones in the area I trust.”
She meets his eyes: clear and brown, watching her without expectation, without calculation. Kind eyes. Human eyes.
Slowly, her smile returns as well. “Actually, I think I would like it if you could come by to jump me.”
Ten minutes later and Justin is closing down the bar early, citing a family emergency to the protesting crowd. Scout waits calmly on the sidewalk, hiding an amused smile, then follows him to his truck parked behind the bar. She hesitates, surprised, as he holds open the passenger door for her, then smiles and lets herself brush against him as she climbs inside.
Twin fires race through her at the contact, hunger and desire intertwining, but she settles herself calmly in the seat. Justin ducks around to the other side and climbs into his, fumbling for his keys. “So, where’s your car?”
“I don’t remember the name of the cross-street, but I can point it out.” She gestures forward. “If you go left up here, it’s down a few blocks.”
The truck starts up with a roar of diesel, then pulls out to plunge into the quiet neighborhood streets. As they drive, Scout pretends to scan the parked cars, but every fiber of her being is focused on the man next to her. Men’s soap and light sweat fills her nostrils, the latter increasing the longer they sit in the cab.
Justin clears his throat. “So, uh…you from around here?”
“No. Just visiting.”
Scout hesitates. “Lots of places. But originally from Ohio.” She shifts herself on the bench seat, sliding a fraction closer. “You seem like a local.”
He nods. “My whole family lives here in the Sunset, except for a few cousins back in Manila.”
The truck coasts to a stop at an empty intersection. Justin sits, staring straight ahead, hands clenching and unclenching against the wheel. “So…you’re probably here for business or something, but if you get a chance some evening, and want a local guide to show you around….”
She shifts closer again. “I’d like that.” Justin freezes, unresisting, as she leans in and meets his lips in a kiss.
The fires rise again, stoked by the smell of his breath and the heat of his skin. He releases the wheel to grab and pull her closer. She slides half into his lap, hands running along his arms, groping, possessing, feeling his pulse rise under her touch. The predator in her thrills at the sensation but is soon lost under rising tides of desire. So long since she’d felt like this, so long since she’d wanted this, from someone who wanted nothing of her but what she was willing to give. She presses into his warmth, his arms, for a brief moment forgetting everything else–
“We should…find…your car…” he mutters into the kiss.
“Forget the car,” she mutters back, tangling fingers in his dark hair.
He pulls away. “No, you don’t understand, it’s street sweeping–”
She hushes him with another kiss, straddling his leg, pressing into the engine vibrations trembling both their bodies. He gropes blindly for the parking brake and slips both hands up under her suit jacket–
–Then stops as he brushes the hilt of her knife.
He pulls out of the kiss and stares into her eyes, frowning. “What’s this?”
She tenses. “It’s…just a knife.”
His face falls. He slides his hands out. “That’s a hunting knife, why would you carry that around?” His gaze travels across her rumpled suit, then stops, noticing the mud splattered up the legs for the first time. His breath increases. “Wait…those murders…the people slashed up in Funston–”
“That wasn’t me,” she blurts, bracing her hands against his chest.
His eyes widen. “You say that like you know who it was.”
Dread claws at her, shredding her desire. “No, it’s just…it’s complicated. It’s fine, trust me.”
“Trust you?” He grabs her wrists and pulls them away. “I don’t even know who you are!”
She winces at his tone. The truck’s cab reels smaller, the air suffocated with the stench of sweat and sex and fear. “Justin, I swear–”
As his name leaves her lips, his face hardens. “I’m calling the cops,” he says, reaching for his phone.
Instantly, instinct takes over.
He gasps as her fangs pierce his neck, sinking back against the seat. Just as before, he groans and thrusts against her weight, but mindlessly. His blood rushes hot and fast, pumped by a racing heart. She eases back, slowing her feed, aiming for the exact moment to send him into unconsciousness and nothing more–
Take him, the dark voice within her whispers.
She stops, no longer pulling, but still buried within him.
Take him like he taught you. Like he taught us. The hunter’s hunger rises again, unfettered by prosaic human desires, all the stronger for having been denied so many times tonight. Take what you’ve earned, take what’s your right. Take his life…then take his soul.
Scout hovers over the trembling body a long moment, feeling the breath against her face. The pulse fills her mouth, its flutter stoking her lust as easily as the rumble of the engine. She takes a slow breath, drinking in the living scent….
…Then slowly, painfully, forces her jaw open.
With another moan, Justin sags onto the seat, eyes closed. Blood beads on his neck and she automatically leans down to lick it closed. She sits, still straddling his lap, watching the even rise and fall of his chest.
Finally, she leans back and turns off the engine. She sits for another long moment, the only sound in the cab his breath.
Then, leaving the keys in the ignition, she climbs out and walks away.
END OF ADDENDUM