Javier Vachon was struggling with a nagging feeling. It had been bothering him for the last few hours and it just wouldn't go away. It was almost like someone was whispering fear into his mind. Fear?! He was a vampire! He and his kind inspired fear, they didn't normally feel it themselves. Unless of course you counted the three fears of all vampires: sunlight, sharp wooden stakes, and starvation. Since none of those three items was an immediate concern, that left him searching for the cause.

He had already checked in on Urs and his other vampire acquaintances and they all had been just fine. After racking his brain for another possibility, he found himself at the door of his one mortal friend. A friend who might become more than just a friend. In fact, even though he hated to admit it, even to himself, Tracy was already more than just a friend in his mind.

His brisk knock went unanswered. It was nighttime, she was probably out working a case with her partner. Yet he couldn't seem to get the feeling of unease to release him.

Closing his eyes, he reached out with his senses and smelled. . . . . blood. Blood?!! With the strength of his kind, he quickly twisted and broke the doorknob. Pushing the door inward, he noticed the signs of an intense struggle. Furniture had been tipped over, knick knacks had been smashed, and pieces of fabric were strewn throughout the room. He couldn't believe that none of the neighbors had heard the noise and called 911. Yet, they must not have, or else cops would be swarming the place.

Stepping into the darkness, he allowed the front door to swing shut behind him. The smell of blood became more intense in the now enclosed space. He knew that sweet smelling blood belonged to only one person.

"Tracy?" he called out quietly.

There was no response but he knew she was in the apartment. Again he reached out with his heightened senses and could hear the sound of a rapid heartbeat with a somewhat irregular rhythm. He followed the sound to the closed doors of the living room closet. He noted the pile of ash in front of those doors. Ash that looked to have been a vampire just a short time ago. Skirting the pile, he pushed the closet doors open and gently called out again,

"Tracy?"

In the blackness of the small space, he could see her huddled in the corner. She was wearing the remains of a white shirt and her arms were wrapped around her drawn up knees. Her chin was resting atop those knees and her eyes were unfocused and glazed. He crouched down to her level and reached out to her. Quickly he checked the pulse at her neck and drew back fingers coated with some congealing blood. Obviously the vampire had gotten lucky before Tracy had finished him off.

"I'm going to pick you up and bring you out into the living room. I want to get a closer look at you, okay?" he said quietly from his crouched position.

There was no answer or change in her body posture. It was so odd because Tracy was a talker. Silence was not her thing and neither was quietly taking orders.

Sliding one arm under her knees and the other around her back, he easily lifted her and walked back out into the living room. Turning on a small wall sconce, he settled with Tracy into the one chair still in an upright position. It took some maneuvering to get them both into the rocking chair. It really wasn't made for a large man, yet alone a large man with a woman on his lap. In the gentle light he looked Tracy over. She had multiple bruises and abrasions. Her skin was damp and cool to the touch. Her fingernails were ragged and there was blood caked blood beneath them. Clearly she had put up quite a battle and he considered himself fortunate that she had won. Normally a mortal was no match for a vampire, but he wouldn't exactly consider Tracy a normal mortal. She was a woman with a lot of spunk and a lot of desire to enjoy life to it's fullest. Plus, knowing about vampires, took away the shock factor. That probably allowed her to react faster than someone who knew nothing about them.
He returned to his exam in order to determine what type of care she needed first. Tracy's first independent motion was a jerking movement away from him when he pulled the shirt collar away from her neck. He held her head still in order to see that there were two deep puncture wounds on the left side of her neck. They were torn and ragged as if she had continued to fight her attacker even after his fangs were in her neck. He imagined that was probably when she had managed to strike the fatal blow.

Fury rose up in him from a place he hadn't even known existed within himself. Another vampire had marked someone that was "his". If the vampire attacker hadn't been dead already, Vachon definitely would have been out hunting. Normally he wasn't one to get roused into action, but this was a special case that would have warranted a swift and deadly response.

Pulling his thoughts back to the immediate needs, he knew Tracy needed to see a doctor but he didn't want to take her to the local hospital. First, he wasn't sure he could explain the wounds to an inquisitive medical staff and second he wanted to be able to watch over her. As it was, he felt he had already failed her. He turned her slightly so he could look into her pale face and glazed eyes.

"Everything is going to be okay now. You won the fight. You're safe and I'm going to stay with you until you're feeling better. But first, I'm going to put you in this chair and go use your phone to make a couple of calls."

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Tracy felt out of touch with reality. Her vision was blurry and it seemed like time was moving in fits and starts. She recognized Vachon's voice and that his words and actions were meant to be comforting. She realized that she wasn't thinking clearly when she couldn't remember anything since earlier in the morning. Her mind felt disconnected from the rest of the world and her body ached like she'd just gone several rounds with a professional boxer. When she saw Vachon move away from her, she could hear her teeth beginning to chatter. She was suddenly so cold. She hadn't noticed the sensation until Vachon was no longer holding her. Fortunately, it seemed like only seconds had passed before a warm blanket was draped around her and she was lifted up into his arms. She made eye contact with him for a moment before settling her head on his shoulder and closing her eyes. She sighed just one word and then let the darkness roll over her.

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