The Last Ones
New York is a busy city with plenty of dark corners, and even darker secrets. Working the shadiest clubhouses, and running the most cunning mobs, or just simply trying to survive in the least civilized parts of the city's underground are the world's most intriguing beings. They are creatures of myths, lore, and legends, thought nonexistent or long ago extinct. But just as their survival is the greatest secret ever kept, so too is their fight to stay alive. A group of hunters seeks them out in hushed tones and shadowed movements, highly trained to track, capture, or kill the Last Ones.
A Private RP Between [The Black Cat in Your Path] and [shadowfire09].
New York City was bustling. No matter the hour--which currently was close to three in the morning--there were always people on the streets, car horns and sirens blaring, some kind of construction, and twinkling city lights. Locke leaned over the balcony railing of a penthouse suite, thirty-six floors from the ground. His dog tags clinked against each other as he leaned forward, his bright blue eyes taking in the landscape below, keeping an eye out for the signature red hair that belonged to his mistress. He had been trained his entire life to protect her, being only twelve years her minor. But protecting her was hard to do when she kept disappearing, running off without telling him, or giving him an errand to run and then not waiting for him to return before vanishing off on her own little adventure.
Groups were hunting their kind here in this jungle of glass, metal, and concrete. He had yet to see the faces of their hunters, but he knew they were out there. More and more of their kind were being found dead... or missing altogether. And yet she had to go off gallivanting on her own any time she saw fit just because she was an Unseelie princess. He listened, his sharp hearing picking up things that only dogs could hear, and he sniffed at the air. Though, from this far up, the only things he could really smell were gasoline and smog. He could smell the weather too. Rain was coming.
There weren't many werewolves left in New York. There had been more in London. But the few wolves that did seek his companionship were close by. He tilted his head back and let out a long howl, keeping it as canine as possible so as not to draw suspicion or attention. He knew that if their hunters were really as well-trained as rumored, they would be able to tell the difference between a dog and a werewolf howling. He listened after he finished his call, closing his eyes and waiting patiently. A few minutes passed before he was answered by an echoing howl, and he cursed. No sign of the princess. He went back inside and began to pace the room again, glaring at the floor.
"I better not have to go out and find her again." he grumbled, running a stressed hand through his chopped, blonde hair.
"You have to do it. Go on, these people
deserve to hear what you've been hiding." Freya whipped her auburn locks over her shoulder matter of factly.
"No. Freya you don't understand what'll happen. It's not some game." Melody lowered her voice, even though the club they were currently in was so loud she could have been screaming and no one would have heard her, "I...I could hurt somebody"
"So, you're telling me you brought me all the way to Brooklyn of all places, to this disgusting excuse of a party, for nothing? Who cares if they fall for your magic Mel? They're drunk. It's not like they'll remember in the morning. Just three little notes and this night might actually be fun for a change." Freya was used to getting her way, after all, she was a princess, and Melody refusing to sing for the crowd was starting to tick her off.
"I'm sorry Freya, but I'm not doing it. You know how important it is that I lay low. The hunters are everywhere. They'll catch wind of something like this, and not all of us have Locke protecting us. I'd rather not have a target on my back." Melody turned to leave. "Have fun getting home without him Freya."
"Oh whatever Mel. Call me when you're done being a coward." Freya rolled her eyes, and scanned the party, maybe she could have her own fun. This night was so not worth the lecture she was going to get from her guardian for abandoning him again, especially in this so-called dangerous time, but... maybe it could be.
Emily felt totally and completely lost. The music was too loud.. she could feel the beat of the drums vibrating up her legs and into her spine. She looked around slowly, trying to find any kind of familiar face. She'd come here with her best friend, after she'd convinced her that this party would be worth the pricey cab ride. But after being here only twenty minutes, her "best friend" had abandoned her at the bar with some weird guy who was trying way too hard to get into Emily's pants, and Emily had to work much harder to get rid of him. Now she couldn't find her friend anywhere, and there were too many people to sift through. She instead decided to try finding the exit, or the bathroom or something, but she felt awash in a sea of bodies. She grunted and pushed back against some rowdy men, and dancing women, trying to shuffle her way to the edge of the crowd. "Ow!" she snapped when someone stepped on her toes, stumbling back into another group of people. "S-sorry! Excuse me..." she said above the music, wincing and feeling squeezed.
"Looks like you could use a hand" Freya smiled sweetly at the dark haired girl, who was obviously not in her element. "I'm Freya, and this place is awful. Come with me?" She asked, doing her best to glamour the poor girl.
Emily looked at the owner of the voice that seemed to so easily cut through the blaring music, and her green grey eyes seemed stunned. There was something about this woman... Something about her bright red curls and flawless face that made Emily question the good moral laws she'd been taught about not accepting a stranger's help. She hesitated only a moment before grabbing Freya's hand. "So long as we get out of this club!" she called.
Freya effortlessly glided through the crowd, humans easily bent to her will, especially when intoxicated, and that was before using her fae magic. They made it to the street easily, and started walking. "I prefer calling my own car, I hope you don't mind. I'm Freya by the way, and you are?"
It happened very quickly--one minute they were in the crowds in that horrible club, then the next they were on the street. Emily stumbled a little with the sudden rush of freedom, and she stood up straighter and tucked some hair behind her ear innocently as Freya introduced herself. "Freya? That's.. a pretty name," she mumbled. "I'm Emily." She followed after the girl, though she wasn't sure why. She had helped her out of the club, and in all reason Emily could call a cab and go home, maybe have time for some hot cocoa before calling it a night. But she felt compelled to follow this woman anyway. "Do you live around here?"
Freya laughed. "No. Try the upper east side." She pulled out her phone and dialed. "Locke? Hey. It's me. I'm in Brooklyn, at that place Mel was talking about the other day. Come get me??? Please?" She turned back to Emily. "What's your story? You clearly don't belong here."
Emily blinked. "The upper east side? Isn't that where all the rich people live..? You seem really out of your element too then." she said, rubbing her arm. She could hear whoever this Locke person was speaking very loudly through the phone, obviously angry with Freya. "I just live up Carson and fourth avenue... it's like half an hour from here." she explained. It wasn't an overly poor part of town, but it wasn't too fancy either.
"You can thank my friend Melody for that, but no matter. I'll give you a ride, but it'll probably be awkward. My...friend is pretty mad at me right now, he doesn't like being left home. Chalk it up to abandonment issues or something." She laughed again. "You'll be a good distraction. You're pretty enough." A chill ran up her spine, and she suddenly felt like she was being watched. Freya looked over her shoulder at the back alley, and sure enough someone was watching the pair. "Um, Emily, I have to go check something. Stay here, watch for Locke? He's tall, blonde, and probably going to be pretty irate."
Emily's eyes widened a little, and she looked around uneasily. She had felt a pair of eyes on them as well, and she didn't like the idea of being left standing on the sidewalk alone in front of a dark alleyway. She hugged herself though, and stuttered an, "U-uhm... okay..." She shifted on her feet, then moved to sit down on a bus station bench, grateful for the overhead awning as it started to rain. Her cheeks pinked as she recalled what Freya had said about her being pretty enough to distract her friend, Locke. She wondered how old this friend of hers was, because he sounded more like an angry parent.
Freya crept further down the alley, a little more than upset that her dress was being ruined by the rain. If whomever was in this alley was one of these so-called hunters, she was more than willing to take them on. Besides, how much trouble could she really get into? Locke was on his way, and he never lost.
"Hey pretty lady, didn't anyone ever tell you that alleys are full of scary people looking to kill?"
Freya couldn't see who or where the voice was coming from, but wasn't intimidated. "Yea? And who told you that I wasn't one of the scary people?" She knew that if she tried to back out of the alley, whomever the voice belonged to would attack. So she stood her ground.
"Well that's what we're hoping for." A chorus of laughter erupted from the shadows, and suddenly a thick metal chain was around Freya's throat. It burned her neck, but she couldn't scream. "That's right, your highness
, it's iron. Beg for mercy or we'll just leave that chain there and have it burn your pretty head right off."
Emily gave a small sniff. The chilled, rainy air was making her nose run. She hugged herself a little tighter under the overhang of the bus stop. She could hear voices in the alley behind her, and she knew one of them was Freya's, but the other was too soft to identify. She wondered if it was her friend Locke. She glanced back at the alley when it suddenly got quiet, and she felt a nervous pit open in her stomach. "F-Freya?" she called, standing off the bench and shifting on her feet. She waited a moment, then decided to head after her, moving out from under the protective covering of the awning and into the chilled rain. Her boot heels clicked on the asphalt as she ventured into the dark alley, her green-grey eyes wide. "Freya?" she called again when she saw her form frozen in place and seemingly choking. "Freya?!" She ran to her, noticing the iron chain around her neck, and she gasped, starting to grab at it to try and pull it off. "H-hang on!"
Freya managed a gasp. "Em...run...Locke.." her neck was smoking now, and she was on the ground. Her eyes closed as rough hands grabbed Emily from behind. "A human? helping this bitch? What's your game girly?" He had his hand over her mouth, and another voice yelled "She's human John. Let her go. No one will believe her anyway." John shrugged his massive shoulders and released Emily. "Run little girl. Be thankful we got here before this one could hurt you." he said as he kicked Freya's limp body.
Emily yelped, even as she was let go. She stumbled, turned to her attacker, and gasped as she shook her head. "No! Let her go!" she screamed, banging her fists on his chest angrily. She wasn't sure just what was going on, but she wasn't just going to run away. She thumped a fist against his chest again, and tried to kick him in his shins, but she felt so weak and small against this man. Then there was a sound that ran a chill up her spine.
A low growl, angry and threatening, came from the entrance of the alleyway. She thought maybe it was a stray dog... but turning to look at it revealed something much more horrifying. It towered over them, then bounded at them, large fangs bared in a large maw, covered in black fur and with piercing, icy blue eyes. Giant claws reached out, pushing Emily aside with one hand-like paw and the other reaching for the hunter. Jaws clamped on the one named John, biting into his shoulder without mercy while his massive body pinned him to the ground.
John let out a gut wrenching scream and his shoulder poured blood where the creature had bit him. "Shit! Guys! A werewolf! We aren't prepared for this! Run!" The same voice who had told John to release Emily yelled. Footsteps echoed down the alley and the sounds of a chain link fence being climbed could be heard. John had stopped screaming, most of his blood pooled around his body and the creatures feet. He turned his head and made eye contact with Emily, and gasped his last breath.
Emily gasped, her entire body trembling as she stood in front of Freya. Her hands slid over her mouth as her eyes connected with John's, then suddenly he wasn't breathing anymore. There was blood everywhere. She let out a scream, the high-pitched sound echoing off the walls around them before her eyes rolled into the back of her head and she collapsed on the ground beside Freya.
The towering werewolf watched Emily collapse, doing nothing to catch her, then stood up straight and loped over to where Freya was laying on the ground. He sniffed at her, then used one massive claw to undo the chains around her neck before licking at her wounds. His body changed, bones cracking and hair falling away to reveal a human body once more, and Locke frowned disapprovingly at Freya. "What have I told you about going off on your own?" he scolded. "This is too risky, princess." He sighed, bending and lifting her over his shoulder, then doing the same with Emily, throwing her over his other shoulder and carrying them both easily to where he'd left the black Buick parked in the street.
When Freya finally awoke she was back in her own bed, but a panic overtook her. She started yelling "Locke! Locke, what happened?" The last thing she remembered she was confronting a faceless stranger in the alley.
Locke came into her room a few moments later, carrying a tray of food and hot drink, and set it on her bedside table gently. "You were attacked by hunters. Not many... maybe five in that group." he explained. Though they were one less now. He sat on her bed and reached out, gently grabbing her chin and tilting her head this way and that to inspect her neck. "You're healing nicely." he said softly. "You really should listen to me more. There's a reason I'm your guardian."
"I was with Melody, but she left. I'm sorry. I thought I could take them. I'm the princess. I should be able to defend myself." Freya's pride was hurt, she had never been attacked like that. "How did they know who I was? And...and how did they.....oh my gosh. Emily. Where's Emily? Did they hurt her? Does she know about magic? Locke. I messed up so badly." She had never been more grateful for her werewolf protector.
Locke sighed heavily and pulled his hand from her, looking at her gently. "No, she doesn't. She fainted, and I took her home. She'll wake up thinking it was all a dream." he explained. "I suggest you stay away from her if you don't want to risk yourself further. And trust me, I'll have a talk with Melody later. For now, you should rest." He stood off her bed and headed back for the door. "I have a couple friends trying to erase our trail from last night, so stay inside."
Freya sighed in relief. "Locke, could you stay in here tonight? I'm a little freaked out." She pulled up the blanket around her. Freya would normally be the last person to admit it, but she had never felt the burn of iron before. She could still feel her neck on fire. It was the first time she had ever felt helpless, and she didn't like it.
Locke paused as he reached her doorway, and turned back to look at her with a small sigh through his nose. It wouldn't be the first time he'd slept in her room, but the other times he'd done it for his own comfort rather than hers. This time, it was very clearly different. He frowned at her, then nodded and closed her bedroom door, moving back to her and peeling off his shirt as he went. "Fine. Just for tonight." he said, though his tone was soft. He crawled back into the bed with her and laid on top of the blankets, just in case he needed to get up quickly, folding his hands under his head on his pillow. "Try to get some sleep. By the time you wake up, those burns will be gone."
Freya smiled, she had always felt safer when Locke was around. She laid her head upon his shoulder and closed her eyes. She often wished he could sleep in her bed every night, but that was forbidden to them. Still, she couldn't help her heart fluttering when he wrapped his arm around her. She was lucky to have someone like Locke guarding her.
Locke sighed again as she curled up to him. He draped his arm around her shoulders to further comfort her, but he kept his eyes on the ceiling in the dimness of the room. He doubted he would get much sleep tonight. They had never had such a dangerous encounter with hunters before, and now his mind was plagued with tons of possible scenarios of what could happen next. He would be on edge for the rest of the night, his ears and eyes on high alert to the world outside of her penthouse apartment. They might have to consider moving again. Relocation always seemed to help settle their fears.
When Emily awoke the next morning, her head was killing her. She groaned and sat up slowly, wincing at the sunlight pouring through her bedroom window, and she put a hand over her eyes. She didn't remember drinking that much, so she was unsure as to why she felt so hungover. She never drank enough to feel this way. She winced as her fingers graced a bump on her head just beneath her hairline, and she gasped. Memories from the night before flooded her mind--a woman with bright red hair and sharp eyes, loud music, a dark alleyway... a horrible dog-like creature... blood. Then blackness. She frowned. It was all so disjointed in her mind that there was no way it could have actually happened. "I must have gotten drunk. Yeah... I passed out and it was all a dream." Her friend must have brought her home in a cab or something. She slid out of her bed and decided to take a shower to clear her head. After she'd cleaned and eaten a light breakfast to help settle her stomach, she headed out of her tiny apartment and downstairs to check her mail, pausing to filter through it in front of the office trash can. As she was, she lifted her eyes briefly to catch sight of one of the other apartment residents.
She was tall, and sensually curvy, with bright green hair. She was covered in tattoos, had gauges in her ears, and Medusa piercings in her lips. Her nails were always painted black and her makeup had a sort of 50's appeal to it with her painted brows, cat-lined eyes and red lips. Today she was wearing dark blue skinny jeans, a black plumed blouse with a low-cut neckline, and some black ballet slippers. She was on her way out to the street, but as she passed Emily, their eyes connected. Emily always tried to offer her a kind smile, but the woman had never before returned it. She always seemed angry or uneasy. Today, when Emily smiled at her, the woman paused, looked startled, then confused, then tried to give a crooked semblance of a smile in return before hurrying on.
Emily stared after her, confused as well, then finished going through her mail before heading out onto the city street. She supposed she would do some shopping before she had to go into work later. But that red-headed woman was still on her mind... had she really been a dream?
Freya woke before Locke the next morning, still curled into his arms. She gently shook him awake. "Locke? It's morning, I think we should wake up." The words pained her more than she realized. She could lay there all day curled into his muscular arms, but regulations wouldn't have it. The fact that he spent the night in her bed alone was enough to get him transferred to another person, and he'd been with her for years. "We should probably find out if Mel made it home or not"
Locke's eyes opened instantly and he blinked away the light layers of sleep that he'd briefly allowed himself to enjoy. This wasn't the first time he'd been awarded barely a few hours' sleep, but it seemed like the older he got, the harder it was to deal with. He sat up slowly, releasing Freya from his protective grip, and he looked at her after a large yawn overtook him. "Alright. We can pick up breakfast on the way," he said, standing off her bed and moving to find his shirt, pulling it back on and covering his tattoos and scars. He stretched with a groan, then breathed deeply before heading out of her room. "Would you like some coffee? Tea?" he called as he headed into the kitchen, his bare feet padding on the floor.
"No, I'm good. But thanks" she managed a small smile. "So, that was the hunters huh? Do we know anything about them? How did they know who I was?" The very idea that they were waiting for her last night, that they were watching her was too much for her to bear. "Are...are we safe here?"
"I don't know. I don't know how they know who you are, nor do I know how they managed to find you last night. It might have just been a coincidence that they were in the same area as you were... a wrong place, wrong time type of situation. But the Hunters are mostly comprised of humans. Every once in a while you'll hear of a creature like us teaming up with them, but those situations never end well for those traitors." Locke explained as he poured himself a hot cup of coffee. He sipped it slowly as he moved back to her open doorway and leaned against the frame, crossing one ankle over the other, his free hand shoved into his pants pocket. "I'll give it another day or two to determine how safe we are. If we have to, we'll relocate." he said and sipped his coffee again before motioning to her with it. "Are you going to get up or what?"
Freya sighed and stretched the sleep out of her limbs. "I suppose so." She got out of bed and realized she was still in the dress from last night. "Ugh. I just want to burn this thing, and forget everything about last night." She peeled it off and turned to the closet to pick up a new outfit out of the closet. As she was pulling it on she spoke "Well, everything except that Emily girl. I mean, she didn't even know who I was and she risked her life trying to save me. That and she did technically witness a murder last night. She's probably freaking out don't you think?"
Locke sipped his coffee again slowly. "Only if she believes what she saw last night." he said, his eyes elsewhere instead of on her, out of respect. He only looked at her once she was dressed again, and shrugged. "If you insist, I suppose we could check up on her."
"Hmmm. Breakfast first. The whole near death thing makes a girl kind of hungry, and I can't imagine that wolf form didn't leave you faminshed" She walked out of the room, brushing Locke as she passed. She would never admit it, but she enjoyed flirting with him a little, because He was always so stoic and respectful. "By the way, if we relocate, I'm thinking somewhere exotic...Paris maybe?"
Locke raised his brows at her obviously intentional brush against his body, the smallest graces of a smile on his lips. He watched her a moment, then followed after her with a shrug. "Paris is nice, sure... I rather enjoyed London, though." he said softly. "There were more of us there. Same for New Orleans." He moved to the kitchen and began to pull things out to make them breakfast.
"Oooh. Voodoo. I'm in. It would be nice to be recognized for the royalty I am. I'm going to try calling Mel. Saves us the time from going all the way over to Brooklyn." She pulled out her cell phone. She dialed her friend, but it rang twice and went to voicemail. "Hmm. She's ignoring me. She must still be mad from yesterday." Freya rolled her eyes, "I was just trying to have a little fun." She looked at Locke, "So where does our new friend live exactly?"
Locke frowned at Freya as he watched her call Melody. "Well, that depends on what your definition of fun is." he said, finishing his coffee as he plated their breakfasts. She had some scrambled eggs and toast with jam, and a bowl of fresh fruit salad. He had made himself some ham steak and sausages, and some eggs and veggies. He sat at the table and put his feet up on the opposite chair, biting into his ham steak as he watched her. "Your friend lives about twenty minutes south of here."
Freya gulped her eggs and toast down quickly eager to get going. "Well, let's go find out what this girl is all about then shall we?" She flashed Locke an innocent smile. "I think there's more to her than meets the eye."
Melody sat outside on the steps of her apartment complex, enjoying the sun. "I really should make it to some water today" she thought to herself. The call of the ocean was begging her to come, but it had been so long since she'd eaten she was worried that the ocean would bring out the monster in her, and she'd been working so hard to have a normal life. Freya thought it was a joke, and it made her so mad. The siren song was nothing to be messed with, and a friend would have understood that. But then again, a friend wouldn't have left her at that club unprotected, hopefully Freya got home alright. Her phone rang, and Melody broke out of her thoughts. She examined the screen. Freya. Melody ignored the call. She obviously got home alright last night and was probably calling to whine about how she was abandoned and that Melody was a really terrible friend and Mel just didn't need that right now. Freya could wait a few hours.
Shea was walking down the street, on her way to the beach when she passed Melody sitting on her apartment steps. She hadn't paid much attention as she neared her, but as she passed her, she stopped. She turned to look at Melody, her bright green eyes taking her in, then she felt a chill run up her spine. A siren. Sirens often lured and attacked mermaids like Shea. She narrowed her eyes, then hurried on.
Melody looked up in time to see a girl with bright green hair giving her a dirty look. "What is that about?" She thought as the girl hurried away. Mel didn't understand it, but she felt the inexplicable need to confront this girl. "Hey! Wait Up!" She yelled at the girl, but the girl kept walking. "What did I ever do to you?!" Again, no answer. "Fine. Be that way." Melody resolved herself to forgetting about the girl, but as the green hair got further and further away she found herself running to chase her.
Shea had tried to ignore the siren chasing after her, but the longer the girl stayed behind her, the more nervous she became. She adjusted her bag on her shoulder, gripping it tighter and increasing her speed as she walked, heading straight for the pier. She was trying not to seem nervous or scared. She walked to the very end of the boardwalk pier, then without hesitation jumped into the waves in a graceful dive.
Mel stopped dead in her tracks. "Nobody dives like that off the pier. What is this girl?" She thought to herself. Mel was so close to the ocean now that its song was screaming in her ears. She could already feel her body changing, and almost all of her resolve was gone. The green haired girl was now forgotten and the instincts she had been fighting for so long were fighting back now. A five year old boy with his mother was suddenly making her mouth water. "Such...easy...prey..." She muttered. The human side of Melody and the siren side of her were warring now, and she feared which side was going to win. Panicked, she dove into tangy salt water.
The quiet was overwhelmingly peaceful, now that the ocean had gotten its way. Her body felt more rejuvenated than it had been in a long time. This was where she belonged. Her fingers were webbed now, and each of her legs had turned into graceful flipper like limbs, and she swam a loop as fast as she could, almost giddy with relief. She finally slowed, and turned to see a flash of green dart away. "The green haired girl! I have got to catch her." she remembered, and darted away after her.
Shea's body had changed as well. The instant she'd come into contact with the water, she had peeled out of her shoes and skinny jeans to allow her legs to mold together into a long, slick and scaley fin. Webbing grew between her fingers and gills opened on the sides of her neck to let her breathe. She glanced back in time to see the siren following her still, and she felt panic in her chest. She tried to swim away as fast as she could, her eyes wide.
Frustrated with this girl, Melody swam as fast as she could and easily gained ground on the girl, who she could now clearly see was a mermaid. Why was a mermaid running from her? Weren't they essentially the same creature? Mel had never met another siren in all of her long life and didn't really understand the details of her species. She rocketed forward and ended up in front of the mermaid, effectively cutting her off. Mel held her hands up in front of her as a sign of peace. "I don't want to hurt you" she thought. Her eyes widened in surprise when her thoughts echoed in the underwater land, clear for all to hear, she had had no idea that telepathy was a skill sirens had.
Shea gasped as her path was suddenly cut off, her eyes wide on Melody. She backed up from her, floating in the water and looking around quickly for a distraction or an escape. "Don't want to hurt me? Like hell." she countered mentally. "Sirens EAT mers like me." she snapped. "But... but you don't have to eat me. I can help you find other food."
Melody was appalled at Shea's words, "eat you? Ugh. Gross. Why would I eat you?" Although she was disgusted, she knew there was a ring of truth to her words. "Look, I know nothing about who or what I am. I know I'm over two hundred years old, and I've never met another person like me. The only reason I know what I am is because of my friend Freya, but she's not exactly the most helpful of friends." She didn't know why she was pouring her heart out to this girl, but the words kept coming, "I've been trying for months to resist the call of the sea, to resist the urge to kill every human that I encounter and honestly I don't know how much longer I can even last. If you can really help me, then my name is Melody, and I'd love to get to know you."
Shea was watching Melody with eyes full of skepticism. Why should she believe this siren? They were infamous for their lies, their sweet songs and plays of innocence to lure in unsuspecting victims. She hovered in the water in front of her, a little unsure, and looking around like she was seeking out a witness to her paranoia. She finally looked back at Melody and sighed. "You're a siren. Sirens eat mers like me, second only to humans... but if you eat a human out here, you'll get caught and probably killed." she said. "If you need to eat... we'll need to go further out to sea."
Relief washed over Melody. "Yes. Yes show me, it's been days since I've eaten anything, and let's just say the fish market isn't exactly gourmet." Now that the giddiness of being in the ocean was wearing off, Mel had to admit she was famished. "I'll follow your lead, so take me where ever."
Shea nodded and gave a nervous gulp. She was about to lead a siren to unsuspecting humans so that she could... eat. She wrung her hands a little and looked around, then waved Melody to follow her further out to sea. There were usually fishing boats out here, and sometimes those fishing boats lured sharks. If they could disguise her feeding as a shark attack, then they could get away without being discovered. "How long have you been living in New York?" she asked as they swam, glancing at her over her shoulder.
"A few months, I have to relocate a lot...due to....um...unfortunate circumstances. But I've met other magic people here, so for the first time I don't have to lie about who I am, which is nice." Mel answered, "Wait. How do I know that you're not going to take me out and kill me? I mean, you do think I'm going to eat you, and I don't even know your name." She was half joking, but still just a little paranoid. With everything involving the hunters in the city, she could be a spy luring her to capture, and it was better safe than sorry.
Shea glanced at her again and wrinkled her nose. "Because I'm a mermaid... we don't kill what we don't need to survive, and we don't kill outside of self defense. We're healers." she explained, looking ahead again. "That's part of why we're so helpless against other creatures like you. And my name is Shea." She sighed, looking around, then finally spotted the underside of a fishing boat. It was small, big enough for only one fisherman and his equipment, but just to be safe, she swam to the surface of the water and peered just over it to see who was in the boat. No other people were in it with him, and the fisherman was a very elderly looking man. She dunked back under and looked at Melody. "It's just an old man, but it should be enough for you, right...?" She felt sick to her stomach, and it showed on her face. She couldn't believe she was helping a siren catch breakfast.
A feeling of unease crept over Mel. "Um yeah...that should be good. Cover your ears though. The siren song gets pretty crazy." She ran webbed fingers over her arms, in an effort to calm down. For the first half of her life, she stayed primarily in the sea. Killing humans was easy for her. She was a shark and they were her fish, alive primarily for her to feast upon. But then, she moved to land, and she got to know them. She watched them as they grew from children into adults. She watched them start families, make friends, and fall in love, things she was sure she could never do. Melody envied the humans, and at first it made it even easier to feed on them, but soon she realized that for every human she killed, dozens more mourned her victim. Realizing that she was to blame for the pain the humans suffered made her feel guiltier than she would have thought possible. Now, she almost cared for the creatures as if they were pets, and the thought of eating them left her stomach in knots. It made surviving hard, but it also made surviving worth something.
She shook the thoughts from her mind and let the predator in her take over. Mel swam to the surface and began to sing. At first, the old man did not seem to react to her song, but then slowly he began to sway to the music. She sang louder than, and the fisherman dropped his pole and stood at the edge of the boat, intoxicated by her song. Melody sang louder still, and the man dove into the water. "It's too easy" she thought to herself. Still singing, she swam to the man, who was happily drowning himself because of her voice. She faced him, and stopped singing. The man was no match for her, he was helpless. As her spell wore off the old man started to realize he was underwater and he began to thrash about in panic. Melody froze. This wasn't supposed to happen, he wasn't supposed to know he was dying. He reached out a hand to her, silently begging for help. Melody turned away from him, resolved to let him drown, and then feed on him. She was facing Shae now, and the look of horror on her face destroyed Melody's resolve. "I can't do this. I can't hurt him. Help me Shea. Help me save him"
Shea watched Melody as she began to sing and hypnotize the old man. She hadn't been able to watch after the man jumped into the water, her ears covered by her hands to drown out the siren's song. But when nothing else happened, and Melody's voice broke through her thoughts, she looked at her with wide eyes. She was both confused and incredibly relieved that Melody couldn't bring herself to kill the old man. She nodded at her plea and swam past her. "Swim deeper, out of sight. I'll take him to shore." she thought back at her, then swam to the old man. She wrapped her arms around him and helped him get to the surface, letting him take a deep, liberating breath of air. She helped him back up into his boat, then dove under it and began to push it towards the shore as the old man laid on his back, panted and wheezed for air inside of it. Once the boat was in the shallows and she was sure he would be safe, Shea swam back out to Melody as quickly as she could. She made sure to keep her distance from her this time though. "What does this mean for you...?" she asked her, watching her closely.
"I dunno. I just couldn't do it. He was helpless. It wasn't fair." Melody was swimming back and forth, trying to calm down. "I just need to find a school of fish or something. I can't eat people anymore.... is he safe?
"Yeah... yeah, he's safe." Shea said gently, watching her. This was unheard of to her: a siren with a conscience. She hugged herself and hovered below the waves for a second, then waved her to follow. "Come with me. We'll find you some fish... Then, I think we should go back to shore and have a talk."
Freya looked up at the building, not sure what she was expecting, "This is where Emily lives? It looks abandoned." The building was nowhere best as glamorous as hers was, and she felt dirty just standing in front of it. "Locke, there's not even a doorman."
"You're so spoiled," Locke said, tugging lightly on a lock of her hair as he passed her and opened the door for her. "This is where middle-class people like Emily live. Not everyone has a rich and wealthy background like yours." The building wasn't exactly crumbling, but it wasn't a massive skyscraper of polished glass and marble either. The paint was chipping, some windows were missing and replaced by plastic until a new pane could be put in, and the linoleum floors were dingy inside. Lights flickered and buzzed as the bulbs began to die, and the first twelve feet of the front entryway was a wall of mailboxes and a door with the sign, "Front Office-closed until further notice." Being three floors tall, with ten apartments on each floor, the ceiling and floors both creaked and shouts could be heard from neighboring apartments. "It's charming, isn't it?" Locke asked as he headed inside after her, looking around.
She blushed when Locke pulled her hair. Normally it would be the worst offense to Freya, but Locke was different. "Yea. Charming. That's the word I was looking for." She looked around, and gave Locke an unconvincing smile. She noticed the office closed sign and looked at him confused. She gestured to the sign and asked "so who takes us to the apartment then?"
Locke gave a haphazard shrug and motioned to the stairwell. "We find it ourselves." He grabbed her hand and pulled Freya along behind him, heading up the stairs to the third floor. He found the apartment door that belonged to Emily and knocked loudly a few times. After a few minutes with no answer, he knocked again. When there still wasn't an answer, he turned to Freya and shrugged. "She must not be home.
"Well, let's go in then, we can wait for her inside." Freya jiggled the brass doorknob, and looked over her shoulder at her guardian. "It's locked. Guess we have no choice..." She grinned at him. Since Locke had gotten wind of the hunters he'd been very strict on the use of magic. Freya knew he was being protective and was worried that they were tracking magic signals, but magic was as much a part of her as breathing was, so she was always looking for an excuse to use it. She looked up and down the hallway to make sure nobody else was around, and willed the door to unlock. The lock clicked, and she opened the door triumphantly. "After you."
Locke rolled his eyes, but followed Freya into the apartment. "Breaking and entering. Just another thing to add to the list of what'll get us arrested or killed." He closed the door behind them and moved to Emily's hand-me-down couch, but instead of sitting down, he looked around the dirty apartment with a scrutinizing gaze. It wasn't overly dirty, but it wasn't as clean as he would prefer.
"I'm royalty Locke. I don't get into trouble." she teased. It took her a few minutes to find the words to describe Emily's apartment. She picked up an old notebook and started rifling through it. "I'm going to stick with my whole 'abandoned' theory. A maid hasn't been through here in weeks." She sat down on the tattered couch and a puff of dust rose around her. "Seriously Locke, we should kidnap her just to get her out of here. It'd be for her own good." she coughed.
"Not everyone can afford to have maids and butlers, Freya." Locke said with the same bored tone. He picked at some old magazines on her coffee table and checked the dates. The most recent issue was five months ago, and the cover was crusty with some sort of dried liquid. He wrinkled his nose and dropped it again, looking at her. "She might just work a lot, and must be too busy or tired to clean too often." he said with a shrug. "But why would you want to kidnap her? She's a human, Freya. Besides, I thought I was your pet?"
She laughed at his remark. "You're not exactly a cuddly puppy. If anything you're my guard dog." Freya's laughter turned somber "But in all serious Locke, you know that you're more than that to me right? You're not just a guardian to me."
Locke turned to look at her with a cocked brow, then gave a small shrug. "I know, I'm also your butler, your maid, and your babysitter." He sighed and moved into the kitchen, starting to open cabinets and drawers, exploring a little, then managing to find some cleaning supplies under the sink. "Anyway, if you're really upset with the cleanliness of this apartment, why don't you use your magic to fix it?"
"You're also clueless" she muttered. She rose from the couch and walked over to Locke, taking a garbage bag out of his hands. She gave him the most innocent look she could muster, and spoke "but I'm not allowed to do magic...remember?"
"I heard that." he grumbled back from inside the under-sink cabinet. "And that didn't stop you five minutes ago, and we were actually out in the open then." Locke said as he stood upright again, holding a bottle of lemon-scented cleaning solution and a sponge. "It's either that or you learn what a few hours of real work is like."
"But it's so much more fun watching you do all the work." Freya playfully slapped his shoulder and handed him the garbage bag she was holding. "You know what? It might be fun to..."she gulped, "clean."
Locke took the trash bag she was holding and gave a small huff through his nose, but it was light. And while his lips didn't turn up this time, his blue eyes seemed to smile at her. "Tell you what, you do the easy stuff: open the windows and use this," he said, handing her a feather duster, "to dust everything. Sweep towards the windows." He showed her the motions with a little flick of his wrist, then offered her the duster again.
Freya watched Locke as he worked. It was peaceful in this dingy apartment with him, working as his equal. Granted, Locke was doing most of the hard work, but she was pushing the dust around in between stealing glances at him. "Hey, Locke? If we do relocate, let's do it like this. An abandoned apartment that's falling apart, doesn't that sound...nice?"
"It sounds like a lot of work." Locke snorted, tossing old crusty magazines into the trash bag, along with old food containers. He paused to look at her though. "You mean you want to put time and effort into a fixer-upper? What if we have to relocate after it's finished? I don't think you understand how many memories and emotions go into a project like that. You can't just fix it and then abandon it." There was something deeper to his words, as if he was speaking to more than just fixing up houses.
"We've had two hundred years of memories. Do you remember that ranch we had? How the horses absolutely hated you and none of the ranch hands could figure out why? Not one of them suspected it was because you wanted to eat the horses" She laughed to herself. She walk over to him playfully and poked his chest. "You were such a cute puppy. What happened?"
Locke blinked down at her, then smiled a little. "I lost my milk teeth," he said, giving a playful chomp at her nose, "and grew in bigger fangs." He set the cleaning supplies down a moment and looked at her. "And what happened to you? You were such a sweet, innocent thing when I first met you... now you like to act out for attention." Before she could protest, he added, "I know. You like to have my attention."
"I'm still sweet." she protested weakly. The princess went back to dusting the windowsill. Was it her fault that humans like to play games, or that she was simply better at playing? Freya didn't think so. "And for your information I don't act out, I just get bored okay?" He was right though, of course. She did like his attention, but he only looked at her as a sister, a child that needed protection.
"You're still sweet sometimes. Usually to me." Locke scoffed, but he glanced at her with another teasing smile. He finished bagging up the rest of the trash and moved to the front door, opening it to set the full bag out in the hallway to be thrown out. But as he opened the door, he was met with the familiar, young face and brown curls, but grey-green eyes blinking up at him.
Emily stood there, her key out, having been about to slide it into the lock when the door suddenly opened. Locke was standing in front of her, with a trash bag in hand, obviously full of rubbish, and looking just as surprised as she was. She straightened up, peered around him to see Freya inside, then took in a breath to scream.
With swift movements, Locke dropped the bag in the hallway and slapped a large hand over Emily's mouth, yanking her into the room. He closed the door and locked it, then carried a struggling Emily to the couch, plopping her down onto a cushion. "Don't scream." he instructed firmly, before pulling his hand away.
Emily gasped a new breath, and gaped at both Locke and Freya. "Jesus, you guys are real!" she yelped, jumping up from the cushion the instant that Locke let her go. "It wasn't a dream! I knew it!" She then hesitated and looked around the apartment. "A-are you... are you cleaning my apartment?"
"Of course we're real." Freya responded flippantly, as if being caught in the act of breaking and entering was an everyday occurrence for her. "I guess this place isn't abandoned after all." she said and she glanced at Locke with a smile, sharing their private joke. "And of course we're cleaning. This place is a mess. You should be thanking us." She stated matter of factly.
Emily looked at them, her eyes wide, and she backed up slowly until her back touched her living room wall. She shook her head and breathed with fast, short breaths, looking pale. "Y-you can't be real... You can't be, because that would mean that... that the man actually died last night..." she wheezed, looking between them.
Locke frowned seriously as he glanced at Freya, then nodded at Emily. "Yes, that was real," he said softly. "You need to calm down, Emily. You're breathing too fast, you'll pass out again."
"Y-you brought me home... didn't you? You found out where I lived and you.. Are you here to kill me..?" Emily whined, looking a bit like a scared mouse backed into a corner.
"You caught us. We can't let anyone know about who we are, or what happened so we're tying off some loose ends. No hard feelings." this was a perfect chance for mischief, and Freya was going to take it. "Alright, lets get this over with shall we?" She caught Locke's gaze, and he was frowning disapprovingly. She shrugged at him and looked back to Emily. "I'm kidding. Why would we bother cleaning this place up if we were just gonna mess it up with a murder. I was just curious about you is all, curious about what you remembered. But I can see that you obviously don't want to chat so we'll be going." Freya motioned to Locke and headed towards the door. "Oh, and quit looking at him like he's going to eat you. He's a wolf, not a barbarian"
"A wo-wolf...?" Emily repeated, her entire body trembling. Even though Freya had moved towards the door, Locke had stayed where he was on the other side of the couch. She watched them both a moment, her breathing still fast and short pants, then her eyes started to flutter and her knees buckled.
"Dammit," Locke hissed, moving to catch her instantly by leaping over the couch fluidly. He lifted her bridal-style into his arms and set her back down on the couch gently, making sure a pillow was under her head. "She has asthma. Freya, look for an inhaler. Quickly." he said.
"K-kih... kitchen..." Emily wheezed, her chest heaving as she struggled for breath, her cheeks flushed. She put a hand to her chest, trying to focus on calming down, but it was hard with a werewolf leaning over her.
"Oh she's fine with witnessing a murder but mention you're a werewolf and that's where she draws the line" Freya remarked as she hurried to the kitchen. Tearing open drawers as she looked, Freya realized she had no idea what an inhaler looked like. She found a drawer with a random assortment of objects in it and ripped it from the counter top. She rushed back out to Locke. "Here. I think it's in here." She said sheepishly.
"I think it was a combination of things that gave her this attack, Freya. And she didn't handle that too well, she fainted last night." Locke scolded her, even as he expertly snatched a white L-shaped tube with an orange cap and handed it to Emily.
Emily shook the tube a few times, then popped open the orange cap and put the end of the L just in front of her mouth, pushing down on the plunger top and breathing in the spray of vapor medicine. She held her breath for a few seconds to give the medicine time to work, then coughed out and repeated the process a second time. Once her breathing was back to normal, she sat up slowly and looked at Locke and Freya again. "I-if he's a werewolf... then what are you?" she finally asked, watching the red-haired woman.
"Have you ever heard of the Fae world? The Unseelie and the..."Freya grimmaced at the next word," Seelie courts? or perhaps the Summer and Winter courts?" She sat up straighter, looking dignified.
Emily shook her head, gripping her inhaler in both hands in her lap, though the cap was replaced now. "No... I can't say that I have," she whispered, watching Freya. "What are those?"
Locke sighed and stood from his crouched position by the couch, moving into the kitchen and deciding to make them some cocoa. The rain outside made him feel wet and cold, and he imagined Emily must have felt that way too, having just come in from it.
"You've heard of a werewolf but not of the Fae world?" Freya asked the girl incredulously. She sighed, "Let me explain. You're American, so you probably know us better as faeries and picture us as tiny creatures with wings that giggle and play in flowers or whatever. Really, that's only one small species of fae, giving the rest of us a bad name. The fae world is split into two courts, The Unseelie and the Seelie. Winter and Summer. The Seelie court is a bunch of do-gooders who think that they are above everyone else. They believe in honor above all else. You can't trust a seelie fae Emily. Ever. They claim that they are all about the love and beauty of the world, but they live in a land of summer. It's easy to love something beautiful and inviting. They claim selflessness, but in all honesty, their desire for honor and beauty trumps anything else. The Seelie court is a facade and nothing else, and not one of them is worth your time." Freya ranted, obviously not happy to be discussing that topic. "The Unseelie court however, is the winter court. They have an unfairly bad reputation. I am a member of the Unseelie Royal Court. My father is the king of winter. Our reputation comes from our love of magic, change, and ourselves. It's not selfishness, like some would have you believe. If I can't keep myself happy why on Earth would I be expected to keep anyone else that way? The unseelie court is the court of passion. We don't take the beauty of our world for granted. Winter is harsh, but it is honest. We don't hide our magic, we relish it. Sure, we have earned our reputation for pranks, but it's never malicious as the Seelie court would have you believe." Freya paused, realizing she had gone on a bit of a rant. "I apologize for being long winded, but it's a touchy subject, as I'm sure you could understand."
By the time Freya finished, Emily was staring at her like a confused deer in the headlights. "Yeah.. I guess I get that." she said, though quite honestly she was completely lost. She cleared her throat and looked up, just in time to see Locke return with a tray of three mugs of hot cocoa and three glasses of water. She took her water first and drank it down greedily, muttered a thank you, then cupped her hands around her cocoa in her lap. "So... you're a fairy... and you're a werewolf..." she said, pointing to each of them in turn. "What are you doing in New York..? Er... the human world? Don't you have your own world?"
"I am not a fairy." Freya muttered to herself, and then answered, "Our world is your world. Most humans are just blind to magic. Open your eyes and look around and you'll see we're right out in the open...at least we used to be until the hunters came about. That's who attacked me last night by the way."
"Hunters..?" Emily repeated, raising an eyebrow.
This time, Locke spoke up, his tone of voice demanding silent respect. "They're a group of humans who hunt us for our magical qualities... or perhaps just to end us. We're not very sure. They've been known to both capture and kill our kinds. Hundreds of years ago, there were far more of us... but within the last hundred years or so, our numbers have dwindled drastically. We don't know why they want us gone, but they're working hard at it." he grumbled, then blew on his cocoa before sipping it.
"Should you be drinking that?" Emily asked. When Locke looked at her with a raised brow, she coughed a little and shifted in her seat. "I-I mean... you're a werewolf.. which is like a dog. Dogs can't have chocolate... right?"
Locke slowly lowered his mug back down to the table and licked his lips before looking at her, clearly irritated. "Firstly, I'm not a dog. Secondly, dogs can have small amounts of chocolate, but it can't be baker's chocolate--dark chocolate. And it cannot exceed a certain amount of ounces per pound of their body weight. A great deal of dark chocolate would be required to kill me. A little hot cocoa wouldn't even so much as give me a stomach ache. And thirdly, I have a human stomach anyway." He kept his eyes on her sternly, making her shrink into herself a little and he only looked away once she gave a meek nod of understanding.
"O-okay..." Emily mumbled, blushing deeply in shame and looking back at Freya. "So... I have a werewolf and an Unseelie in my apartment. And there are... others like you... but not that many anymore because of these... hunters? So... The guy I saw you kill last night, and the others that attacked Freya were hunters, and you attacked out of self defense, right?" she asked. After Locke nodded, she straightened up a little more, then bit her lip. "But... if the hunters are looking for you.. what does that mean for me?"
"You could be in danger," Locke said simply, shrugging and taking another sip of his cocoa. "Or they could just ignore you. Last night they noticed that you were nothing but a human, and they might take their chances on you assuming it was a dream, like we did. But if they don't... they might try to come see you next. And if you don't convince them of your ignorance, they'll kill you." His bluntness goaded a wide-eyed look of fear on Emily's face, but he didn't seem to notice. "So you have a choice: you can either stay here and try to pretend that you have no idea what we were and that you don't remember anything and HOPE they buy it and let you live... or you can come with us and let us relocate and protect you."
Freya watched the conversation between the two, sipping her hot chocolate silently. She laughed a bit to herself when the girl called Locke a dog, but then felt a pang of jealousy when Locke was explaining the situation to Emily. The way he was staring at the girl, it was usually a look he reserved for Freya alone. Locke was hers. He was her guardian...her protector....her....no. He was no more than that. Maybe she should just leave Emily to the hunters, what was she to Freya? Just another human.
But then she remembered that when the hunters had that iron around her throat, Emily didn't hesitate to help her. Emily didn't even know her then, and she risked her life. There was a debt to a paid, certainly. But that didn't mean she had to like the girl. As Locke finished, Freta stood abruptly. "Well I'm bored of this, and I'm done sitting in this filth. You know that you're going to choose to come with us so let's not waste time while you pretend to decide." She crossed her arms impatiently waiting for Emily and Locke to get up. After thinking a few seconds she spoke again "Emily, maybe it's better if you don't bring anything in case hunters come looking. We don't want it to look like you've run away. I can get you all new things." Freya smiled at her, but it was an empty guesture.
Emily watched Freya now, her expression innocent. "New things..?" she asked, then slowly looked around her dingy apartment. It wasn't much, but it was hers. She had worked hard to get it, worked hard to pay it every month. She sniffed. "Can I at least take the pictures of my family with me?" she asked softly, frowning at them pleadingly. She wasn't sure when she would get to see them again.
Locke thought about it, then gave a nod. "Yes. That would actually be a good idea. If they do realize you've gone off with us, it wouldn't make it very easy for them to find you if they didn't have anything to reference for leads. Photographs are fine. But be quick."
Emily gave a small sniff as she nodded, setting her mug down and standing before heading into her bedroom meekly. Locke watched her go, then looked at Freya. "What made you so tense all of a sudden?"
"Nothing. I'm just tired of being here. We are sitting ducks, and it looks like you've got more on your mind than protecting me. So id rather be safe than sorry." Freya was afraid to look at Locke in case he could read right through her. "I'll wait in the hall. Emily! Hurry up." With that she walked out the apartment door and it shut loudly behind her
: Locke's eyes watched Freya leave with a disapproving furrow of his brows. He waited for Emily to pack a few things--her family pictures, some underwear and her toothbrush, and a few other small things like her favorite book and her journal--and once she had her backpack on her shoulder, he nodded and led her outside. She locked her apartment door, then tucked the key into her pocket, her fist still wrapped around it as she fingered the teeth. "Don't worry. When it's safe to return here, we'll bring you back and you can go on with life like we never existed." Locke told her, then ushered them both down the hall and down the stairs to the car waiting outside.
During the car ride home Freya was lost in her own thoughts. She had never before been possessive of Locke, in all their years together. The way he was looking at Emily though, as a person he could care about, instead of a job like he saw Freya, made her want to rip the human's throat out. The weather had started misting, and the sky was a gloomy grey, which matched her mood perfectly. She wished she could just go back to this morning when she was wrapped tight in Locke's muscular arms. Freya was surprised at herself, "when have I ever thought about his physique?" She thought to herself. She shook her head. Whatever strange thing that was happening to her, it had to stop now. She shook her head again, and realized Emily and Locke were silent. Freya looked up at them and they were staring back at her, probably concerned for her sanity. "What are you two looking at?"
While Emily modestly and quickly looked away and out the window, blushing out of the realization that she had been staring, Locke kept his eyes on Freya. He shifted closer to her and rested one hand on her knee. "You were muttering to yourself. It was creepy." he said in a low, but teasing voice. "Are you alright?"
Her heart fluttered at his touch. "Um. Yes. I'm fine. Just have a lot on my mind." Freya smiled reassuringly. "Like how I'm going to teach Melody not to abandon me again." The princess looked at Emily. "Are you ready for your whole world to change, Emily?"
Emily looked back at Freya and Locke, seeing their gazes on her, and she blushed before shrugging. "I guess.. It's not like my life was worth much before anyway." She looked back out of the window, then gave a gasp, sitting up suddenly. "My boss! I should tell him that I'm not going to work anymore! I mean... I am going to have to quit my job, right?" she asked, biting her lip.
"Yes, that would be best," Locke said with a nod, but he was also frowning. "Where is your job? You can call, can't you? We'll stop at a payphone."
Emily slumped back in her seat, giving a nod. "Yeah... I'll just call later." she whispered, biting her lip. She didn't have many friends, but she liked to think that she was liked and appreciated at her job.
"Don't worry. You're in our world now," Freya smiled at her, "you won't have time to work." She scootched the tiniest bit closer to Locke, and the three completed the car ride in pleasant conversation, pointing out bits of the magic world to Emily as they drove.
The Last Ones