"Vampires?" Rose stared at him with wide eyes. "Vampires are what's killing all them people?"
The Doctor nodded, but did not elaborate further. His eyes began to run over the paper again, as he absentmindedly offered a dollar or two to the man standing behind the newspaper stand and stepped forward along the pavement. His hands were gripping the newspaper so tightly he was in danger of ripping it. Rose trudged by his side, watching his face as he read as though it would give her all the answers in the universe.
As usual, it did not.
They neared a diner and still the Doctor's eyes stayed fixed upon the paper. Rose glanced wearily around her, before looking frustratingly back at the Doctor as they entered the diner. She sighed. "So, you gonna tell me?"
His eyes tore away from the paper to meet her gaze.
"About the vampires," she elaborated.
The Doctor nodded numbly, and led them to a table in the corner, away from the crowds of people. He didn't speak again until they were both seated opposite one another, the paper flat out on the table between them, their menu held up so no one could see them.
"Vampires," he began, his voice slightly thick, slightly hushed, "live here. Among you, on earth. They're very dangerous. There's not masses of them, and a lot of the time they're quiet. They have a kind of order, a..." he waved his hand about searching for the right word, "royal family, if you like. To make sure humans don't find out, the secret kept, to make sure things like this," he pointed hard at the paper, "don't happen."
"You're saying vampires live here on earth?" Rose whispered across the table.
The Doctor nodded. "Have for centuries."
She shook her head, staring at him in astonishment. "You never said..."
"You never asked," he shrugged it off.
Rose leaned back, apparently unable or unwilling to give any further comment.
The Doctor frowned at her. "You've... seen stuff like this before," he said gently, a little surprised at her incredulity.
"Yeah," Rose said with a heavy breath. "Out there. Up there. You're saying vampires live here. My home. And that they always have." She shook her head. "And they're killing people." She met his eye. "Do they always... do they always kill?"
The Doctor looked down at the paper. "Not like this. But yes," his head rose and he met her gaze, "they drink human blood to survive." He sounded disgusted.
She looked down at the paper for several moments, watching the still words. "Alright then, what are we gonna do to stop it then?" she asked determinedly, looking back up at him. There was little time to stop for incredulity or fear. This was their life. It wasn't about stopping to stare in disbelief.
The Doctor grinned at her, clearly pleased she'd asked. "Well, stopping it wouldn't go amiss."
Rose looked at him pointedly. "And your battle plan for that is?"
"Hmm, well, it wouldn't hurt to get a bit more information on them. A clearer picture. It'd help if we knew how many we're dealing with. Where they locate, you know," he waved a hand distractedly.
Rose nodded. "Alright then. How about we'll split up? Work out where they... kill, what we're dealing with. Meet back here in a few hours," she told him. Leaning in towards him, she added, "Share our inquiries." She grinned cockily.
The Doctor leaned in, in much the same way, but his brow furred and his tone when he next spoke was skeptic, and mildly irate, "Do you actually understand me when I say the word 'dangerous', because you often lead me to believe that the word's foreign to you?"
Rose rolled her eyes. "It'd be better, more efficient, if we did it like this."
"Oh, because we're so working towards being 'efficient' in this life we live," the Doctor huffed sarcastically.
Rose just glared at him pointedly. "Have I ever told you that sarcasm doesn't work in this body?"
He just sighed, ignoring that comment, but a reluctant nod came after. "Fine, fine, just don't come crying to me if the vampire comes and gets you."
"Well, according to this paper if a vampire caught me I'd be dead." She gave a hard stare at the newspaper between them as if it were insulting her.
The Doctor was watching her with something of a stern look when she lifted her head to look at him, his dark eyes dancing swimmingly and intensely with protectiveness, along with something Rose couldn't decipher. "Well then, don't get caught," he told her quietly, crossly. "Think you can do that?"
Rose smiled cheekily. "I can give it a go, yeah."
"Good," he said firmly. He stood up, grabbing the paper from the table. Rose followed and they stopped just outside the door. "Alright," the Doctor turned to Rose. "Now listen, no wandering over a mile away at the most. We met back here in an hour. Look for anything unusual, but if you see anyone... different, you move away. Got that? No asking how sharp their teeth are, no questioning them about their master plans, not even any pleasantries about the weather – just come and find me, okay?"
Rose had to heavily resist the urge to roll her eyes again and tell him how alike her mother he was beginning to sound, but something told her she shouldn't. Perhaps it was the Doctor's stern, and a little afraid, tone of voice. Or the way his eyes were completely clouded in seriousness. He genuinely looked weary of what they were doing.
"'Kay, Doctor, promise," she quipped sincerely. She turned to the right, toward the high street. "I'll see you in an hour," she told him. She watched as he raised a hand for a brief wave, before shoving it back deep into his pocket, his tall form disappearing amongst the faces of the American shoppers in the high street.
Sighing, Rose began a fast pace through Seattle's streets. She checked the newspapers from various shops as she went, but all she found was the same story as the one they'd already looked at.
Her keen eyes met the faces of passersby as she passed, and all seemed to contain the same features. Afraid. Weary. Suspicious.
There was a lack of people out in the town. No idle chitchat, or even eye contact, was made. Each person regained a stiff, fast composure from shop to shop. They were in a hurry and Rose saw no face twice as she wandered the city.
A man in his mid-forties was the only one Rose saw stationary, sitting on a bench by a nearby Pizza Hut as he read the local paper. He was reading about the killings; Rose recognized the black capitals of the front page.
She sat beside him, looking out at the worried, hard pedestrians as they quickly passed them. The man continued to read, and if he was aware of her presence, he did not show it. Rose looked across at him. "Terrible, isn't it?"
The man's wide eyes looked up at her, clearly startled. In answer to his questioning look, she pointed to the paper. The man's eyes darted from across the page, back to Rose. "Oh, it is, yeah," he murmured. "One hell of a nightmare." He smiled at Rose sadly. "Put everyone on edge..." He shook his head. "God knows... who'd do a thing like this?"
Rose nodded, her eyes on the paper. "They'll be caught. Not exactly keeping a low profile, are they?"
"No," the man admitted. "They know how to cover up though." There was a pause of silence where the man continued to stare at the newspaper, Rose following his gaze. "They killed my neice," he eventually whispered softly.
Rose stared at him, her brow furred in sympathy. "I'm sorry," she spoke quietly and sincerely. Her hand rested onto his shoulder. "What happened?" she asked, a little timidly.
He looked up at her, eyes clouded. The man looked broken; he didn't look like he much cared who he was talking to, as long as he was letting it out. "Week and a half ago," he muttered, scratching at his greying hair. "She was outside, gardening... and then she wasn't." He shook his head, but did not elaborate further.
"That's awful," Rose said softly.
He nodded. "They crushed her bones, before burning her 'til there was nothing left..." He stared blindly into the road.
Rose watched the broken man with cloudy eyes. "They'll be caught," she assured him. "Whoever's done this, I promise you they'll be caught."
He looked at her, meeting her eye and smiling weakly, but kindly. "What's your name kid?"
"I'm Tim. You're from England," he stated, with a smile.
She nodded, "Yeah, in London. I'm just here... traveling."
"Well, I... don't wanna keep you." He stood up, his paper under his arm. "It was nice talking to you, Rose Tyler." He hesitated for a moment. "Thank you."
"You're welcome," she murmured as he left.
She sat staring at the road for a while, blatantly ignoring the indignant, almost suspicious, stares that came her way. Her thoughts wondered to the niece of Tim. Killed by a vampire. She wondered how old the girl had been. Younger or older than herself? Was she out of school? Had it hurt? Rose shivered, an unnatural chill coming over her as she thought of bared white, sharp teeth coming over a pale neck. She ran her hand over the chills on her arm and looked up across the street.
In the same moment her heart sped up was the same moment she realized something across the road wasn't quite right. A flash of something bright, like diamonds or crystals, shone in the sunlight in front of an alley for the briefest of seconds. And then it was gone.
She stared hard at at the place opposite. It was a small alley, a path in between a tiny book shop and a McDonald's, leading to the rubbish bins at the bottom. For a moment, Rose was torn; on the one hand the Doctor had told her not to approach anything dangerous, but on the other, a flash of sparkling diamond was hardly dangerous, and besides by the time she dragged the Doctor down here it could have gone. Anyway, she wasn't even entirely sure it was anything to do with the vampire. She just thought it was a bit... odd. That extra sense she'd acquired since traveling with the Timelord was pulling at the hairs on the back of her neck. There was no choice really.
As she stood up, Rose's eyes did not leave the alleyway. She waited for the few cars to cross, before jogging across the road. She could see nothing as she walked into the alley except the grimy, smelly form of the rubbish bins at the bottom. As she walked further through, Rose's eyesight fell into shadow, the tall buildings either side casting darkness over the alleyway; as she studied the back street, she could see no sign of anything unnaturally sparkling.
She was just beginning to question the sense of difference she'd felt compel her to the alley and was about to turn back, when she felt a chilling of the hairs on her neck and forearms. Her ears pricked as she felt the undeniable notion of being watched. Her eyes continued to scan the alley as she took a couple more steps forward, now right at the back by the bins and covered in darkness.
Her back burned and she suddenly knew her watcher was behind her somewhere. Her head whipped round, but she found nothing but the light and passing cars more than forty yards away at the alley opening. Her eyes darted from side to side and she took a step back. "Who's there?" she heard herself call boldly.
Unbidden, the image of sharp, white teeth on a pale neck reappeared in her minds eye, this time with blood spraying from an open wound. Swallowing hard, she took several steps backward, her back hitting the rough brick wall behind her. "I know you're there," she said loudly.
In the blink of an eye, the light at the end of the alley vanished from her vision, a human shaped eclipse casting over her line of sight. She blinked up at the figure and saw he was male, blond, and rather tall. His face was cast mostly in shadow, but she could see the blackness of his eyes, the deep scarlet irises. His face though was chiseled perfectly as if by stone, like beautiful marble. Rose could only stare at him, shock and horror written across her face.
He smiled pleasantly at her for a moment, his intentions clear as he took several steps forward, gazing hungrily.
"Stay back," Rose warned hoarsely, and a little uselessly.
He ignored her, and spoke softly, "Don't worry. I'm not one to play with my food." Then his fingers stretched out so quickly to her face she wasn't sure they moved at all. They were touching her cheek in almost a caressing gesture, and she could see the scarlet of his eyes, the curve of his smile, each blond hair, in perfect clarity. Her first look at a vampire, and he smiled warmly as he moved in to kill.
His mouth opened and he breathed in, seeming to elate in ecstasy at her scent.
Rose could only stare in horror, and all she could think of was the Doctor, and what an idiot she'd been for entering a dark alley when she'd sensed danger, and the image of the blood stained neck and Tim's niece was vivid in her minds eye, and how she wished she were still in the TARDIS, and oh god, she was going to die an alleyway at the hands of a beautiful vampire...
But suddenly, with a rush of wind and a sound of breaking boulders and thunder, the blond vampire was gone. Or rather, he was lifted and shoved loudly away from her by the sudden abrupt appearance of another. All Rose could see in the chaos of the two was white skin contacting any part they could. The noise of crashing stone and ripped growls was electric. Somewhere close by Rose thought she heard a girl shout a name ("Edward!") but for the life of her she could not tear her eyes away from the fighting vampires (for the newcomer must surely also be a vampire to fight so well, and fast, with the blond boy).
With a growl that sounded like pain the blond one with the crimson eyes suddenly fell back, his position leading to a small defensive crouch before he leaped the length of the tall buildings either side of them, letting growl a menacing, "This isn't over," before he disappeared over the roof.
For a moment Rose just stood in shock, staring at the newcomer who had so suddenly saved her life. He was rather lanky, with copper bronze hair, each feature of his face looked as if it had been sculptured perfectly from stone. He looked even more beautiful than the blond vampire.
As if out of nowhere, a girl was running by his side. She was of average height, her features more rounded and human than the vampires, and Rose realized with a start that that was probably because she was human. Her brown hair billowed around the vampire's face as, to Rose's astonishment, she lent up and kissed his neck, cheeks and chest, as if afraid to let go. She whispered something into his chin and a second later his eyes, his deep topaz eyes, suddenly shot up and met Rose's. She stared as he frowned at her, his face scrutinizing as if he were listening to something, though the girl in his arms was only watching Rose, saying nothing.
The two of them took some steps forward and Rose felt her body tense. The copper-haired vampire smiled and spoke in a soft voice, "Hello, I'm Edward Cullen, and this is Bella Swan. It's a pleasure to meet you."
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