Chapter One: I'll Never Leave You
I often tried to pride myself in believing in the value of my life. I always tried to find the best in every sticky situation, the light at the end of every cold, damp and decrepit tunnel. But to be completely honest with you, there are certain times in everyone's life when the only option left is 'fuck it'. I'm not saying I'm a coward, not at all, but when you are stood there, staring death in it's overpowering eyes you might as well light up and have a crafty fag before you are drowned in the fiery pits of damnation. Now was one of them moments. Maybe not quite as extreme to be facing death full on, but I could definitely feel death's presence hiding sneakily around a corner.
At that current moment in time, I was sitting in the middle of a pitch black forest with no form of a light source and no means of defense against whatever it was that was lurking in the trees not ten feet behind me. Fanfuckingtastic. There was mud everywhere, my idea of hell on earth. I closed my eyes and exhaled deeply, terrified of what I knew was about to come. Personally, I just wanted to get it over and done with. The cold air stung my face as I tried to concentrate on something, anything else for at least five minutes. I didn't hate many things in life, but winter was one of the few rare exceptions.
I heard a twig snap behind me. This was it. I tensed my muscles and braced myself. Deep breaths, Nikki. Don't give the game away. I silently told myself over and over again. I could not here any movement behind me, but I could sure as hell feel it. Then out of the blue, a voice that almost made me jump out of my skin then and there, whispered in a hoarse voice from what couldn't be a centimeter away from my left ear.
"This is no place or time for a young girl such as yourself to be out and about." I had to bite my lip as not to make the shudder that took over my body visibly noticeable.
"I was j-just…restless." I barely managed to spit that out as the freak laughed in a gurgled, serial killer kind of way. "But I'm okay n-now…so you c-can just g-go if you'd like?"
"No child, I'm quite alright here. It would be unearthly of me to leave an innocent like you all by yourself." Holy crap! I could hear my blood pounding in my ears as the thing next me exhaled all over my cheek. I almost screamed as I felt two scaly fingertips graze the side of my exposed neck. "You won't be missed…just an average young girl who entered the woods and never came out again. Such a pretty little thing you are," she ran her fingers through my long white blonde hair and chuckled "such a waste…such a -" The freak was cut of short and a terrible gargling sound erupted from it as it exploded in weird gunky stuff. I heard a young demon slayer emerge from the bushes and then a bright light illuminated my back.
"You know, I can honestly say without a doubt that I hate you right now, Luke Rutherford. Never speak to me again." I still didn't move from my position, I just buried my head in my tucked up knees and attempted to calm down my hysterical nerves. I could hear him laughing at me.
"Nikki, don't be like that. You were never even close to danger." I snapped my head up to see that he was now stood about a meter in front of me with a bemused look on his cheeky face.
"Not in any danger?! I was this close" I made a gesture with my cold hand "to becoming that, that thing's fucking sex toy! Deceased sex toy! And now, I'm covered in what scarily resembles spunk and this night all started out with you asking me if I wanted to 'go for a walk'!" I could see that it was causing him physical pain to not burst out laughing during my rant. Good. He deserved the pain.
"Look," he knelt down so his face was inches away from mine "do you honestly believe that I would ever put you in any kind of real danger?"
"Yes!" I answered straight away and then smiled at his fake pained expression. "Just take me home." I moaned out the last bit "I need a shower."
"Come on lets get you up." He put his arms underneath mine and hoisted me up onto my feet where, as soon as he had let go, I stumbled and fell straight over again, mud flying everywhere, I groaned in defeat and just let my arms go limp as he laughed at me…again.
"Fuck it. I'm just going to stay here for the rest of my days." As soon as I had mumbled that, I was hoisted off the ground and found myself clinging onto his neck as he carried me like a husband carries his bride. It was extremely patronizing. "I can walk, you know."
"Sweetheart, you just proved that statement wrong yourself about three minutes ago." His lips brushed against my forehead as he spoke. "I think we need to get you a cup of tea. You can stay at mine tonight." It was a fact not a question and I didn't have the energy to argue with him anymore, so I just let him carry me to his car and place me gently in the front passenger seat. We drove in silence. A comfortable silence, the kind of silence you get when watching television or listening to music. Except there was no sound, just the gentle hum of the engine and the occasional disturbances from the streets that belonged to the world outside.
"I'm sorry," he finally spoke but his eyes remained on the road, a good thing I guess all thing considered.
"What for?" I said it in a 'matter of fact' sort of way.
"If you think that I was putting you in danger. I don't want you to ever think that I would purposely put your life at any sort of risk." He glanced over at where I was curled up on the seat and smiled his multi platinum award winning smile, Any thoughts of doubt or anger I ever had towards him immediately vanished.
"Don't worry about it, I know you had the situation perfectly in control, I'm being silly…and I'm so fucking tired as well." He could my replying smile and then we went back to our comfortable silence for the rest of the journey home. "So where is the Galvinator anyways?"
"He was there, but he had to leave pretty much as soon as I had shot the freak, something to do with Mina. Oh, and will you please call him the 'Galvinator' to his face, I'm sure the results would be fucking hilarious." I giggled and hit his arm playfully, all the while his eyes straight ahead. Finally, we drove into the car park behind his building. It was impossible to see anything in the dark car park; I couldn't even find the door handle. I could feel Luke's eyes on me for a few seconds as I patted my hands all over the door, attempting to find some familiarity.
"Fuck off," I shot the comment at him and he erupted into laughter, "Shut up! Are you going to help me get this friggin' door open or not?"
"Say please," I sighed in defeat and turned to him, my shoulders slumped.
"Please Luke," I could sense him smiling triumphantly at me as I frowned.
"Of course, Nikki." He leant over me and opened the door without even a split second's hesitation as to where the door handle was, but of course the last Van Helsing would not be slowed down by little things like lack of sight like mere mortals would. I was however one of those mere mortals so therefore as soon as I stepped out of the car and slammed the door shut, I was in total darkness and couldn't even see my hand before my face.
"Shit!" I murmured into the blackness that surrounded me "Luke! Where are you?" I blindly stretched my arms out in front of me and began waving the around trying to come into contact with my best friend. "Luke!" I practically screamed "Where the fuck are you?!" At that moment I felt two strong arms wrap around me and pick me up in a fireman's lift. I would've screamed for real had I not heard his laughter. Bloody Van Helsing.
"You have no idea how funny you just looked," His voice was fainter than usual but that was only because I was on his back.
"Shut up…and put me down!" I kicked my legs to make my point.
"Oi, steady on. If I put you down you know you'll only end up lost." He had a point…but I would never let him know that he was right; I would never hear the end of it. Instead, I just made a groaning sound and let my legs go limp against his warm body. We eventually emerged into the light of the street lamps and he finally set me on my feet again. He saw the look on my face and repressed a smile. "god, you're moody tonight." I widened my eyes and glared at him.
"If I wasn't this tired…I'd kill you, demon slayer or no demon slayer." He put on a frightened face and then smiled. We walked into the building, his arm wrapped around me was the only thing keeping me awake, and stepped into the lift. Attempting not to fall asleep, I concentrated on his breathing. It was deep and it seemed to be focused. I gave in. "Luke, what are you thinking about?" I looked up at his deliberating face as we stepped out of the lift and into the hallway, his penthouse door just at the end. He met my gaze and his face lost some of its serious edge.
"Nothing just you know demons and shit."
"Fair dos," I didn't believe him, but it could wait for the morning. We got to the door and he rummaged in the pocket of his lucky leather jacket and pulled out a shiny silver key which he then twisted in the lock and opened the white door.
I adored Luke's penthouse. It looked like something out of Gossip Girl only a tad more modern. It was so open and light…and walking down those white steps made me feel like a superstar. He didn't really seem to appreciate his home as much as I did. I sighed as I took in the…cleanliness of my surroundings, so pristine, so perfect. And the Luke ruined it all by traipsing mud all over the polished floor and slinging his jacket on the kitchen counter. I raised my eyebrows at him and he just shrugged before taking out two mugs from the cabinet and making the tea. I took off my red duffle coat and hung on the cat rack by the door and then took off my leather flat boots and putting them on the shoe rack also by the door. Luke was so lazy; I felt sorry for Jenny.
"I'm going to go to bed. Bring it up to me," It was then his turn to raise the eyebrows "…please". He smiled and I made my way up those fabulous stairs of his. I collapsed on his double bed the moment I got in his room, forgetting everything else other than the softness of the bed. I made an 'mmmmmmm' sort of sound as I molded my head against the feather pillow. I could just feel myself drifted off when I heard him enter the room. I turned to look and saw him standing in the doorway with two cups of tea in his hand, he was smiling. It was then that I realized that this was the first time I had seen him like this in ages. He had been so broody lately that I had almost forgotten what the real Luke was like. Almost. I made a mental note to myself then and there that I must treasure these moments that I had with him, after all they were so very rare these days. He put the mugs on each of the bedside tables and the turned to look at me.
"Come on, you need to get changed."
"I have nothing to wear; I'll just sleep in these."
"Nik, you're covered in mud." He gestured over my body and I groaned for about the millionth time that night.
"Fine." I said, it was too much effort to use more than one syllable words. He went over to the large chest of draws to the right of his bed and began rummaging around holding up old tee shirts and tossing them to the side.
"Bingo," he murmured under his breath and he turned to face me. He leant on the drawer behind him to close it before chucking two garments at me and sitting by my feet. I cautiously picked up the blue tee shirt and immediately saw that it would swamp my tiny size six figure, but I could also see that it was probably the smallest shirt he had, so nodded in approval before moving onto the shorts or (in this case) a pair of plain black boxers with the batman logo on the side of one leg. I gave him a questioning look. "My mum got them me when I was fourteen, they're the smallest pair in there."
"Okay, no need to get all defensive about your choice in underwear," he opened his mouth to protest but I got there before him "Thank you, Luke. You're a life saver…literally." I chuckled at my own joke before (to my dismay) getting up off the extremely comfortable bed and entering the ensuite bathroom. I had a quick shower, just to get all of the mud off and get me smelling fresh again before putting on the newly formed pyjamas. I looked at myself in the floor length mirror and sighed. My hair looked knotty as it hung down to the middle of my back and my face looked so gaunt and pale. After finally accepting that nothing could be done at this stage, I used the black bobble wrapped around my wrist to shove my hair up into a messy ponytail.
When I walked back into his bedroom, he was already led on top of the bed reading one of those ancient books from the stacks that Galvin had basically given him as 'homework'. He had on him, a long pair of black sweatpants and he had decided to leave his top half shirtless, showing off the many more muscles he had acquired since he had become a demon slayer. I was so unbelievably different from him. For starters he towered at least a foot above me (he was always taking the piss out of me for my height) and also where as he was so muscley and strong, I had always been the petite one in our class and I was over denying that I was in fact a weakling.
I walked over to the left side of the bed as he lifted up the quilt for me to get in beside him. The warmth that omitted from his body was extremely inviting. I couldn't resist pressing myself into his side through the duvet and snuggling into the heat.
"Nikki Summers, what are you doing?" I opened my eyes to see that his concentration was now on my face, his book had been forgotten.
"I'm cold," I murmured as I sighed in the coziness of the situation. "and you're warm." He chuckled and sat up to drag the other cover over my covered form and tuck the blanket in around my chin.
"Better?" I nodded and he went back to reading his book.
"So when is this going to end?" I asked the question that had been bothering me since I entered his penthouse.
"What do you mean?"
"What I mean is, when are you going to go back to the brooding demon slayer that's always moody?" He looked at me and sighed.
"Oh I don't know, tomorrow? Tuesday? An Hour?"
"I'm being serious. This is the first time you've been any fun in ages."
"I know." He played with a loose strand of my hair "And I am sorry. It's just sometimes…the world comes down a little too heavy, if you get what I mean."
"I know its hard Luke, I do. And I know that these past couple of months have completely turned your life upside down and I respect that you need time do deal with that, but I want you to try and remember that I'm still me. I haven't changed a bit and I'm always going to be here. Nothing you could do will ever push me away."
"Are you sure? I'm constantly worried that either it'll all become too much for you or I'll fuck things up so badly that you'll never want anything to do with me again." He was still playing with my hair, avoiding eye contact during our heart to heart.
"Never." I said. The word was so simple yet it somehow summed up everything that he meant to me. The conversation was over, we both knew that.
"Go to sleep, Nikki." It was then, just as my eyelids closed, that he did something very odd indeed. Without warning, I suddenly felt the softness of his fingertips as they caressed my cheek ever so lightly. I would've said something, but by then I was already entering the land of dreams.
I woke up on my own accord, and instantly wished that I hadn't. Even though I hadn't even opened my eyes, I could tell that it was late in the afternoon and that meant that not only had I overslept, it also meant that I would not sleep tonight. I was also having a case of that thing when you wake up and you've been asleep for a really long time and you feel sick in a weird way. I squinted my eyes open and closed them straight away, not expecting the blinding sunlight that would enter my line of vision. I stretched my arms out above my head before attempting to open my eyes for a second time. This time I was more successful. The light didn't hurt as much as I pulled myself up into a sitting position and let my head loll forward. I yawned and stretched once more before shifting my legs off the edge of the bed and sliding down so that my bare feet touched the cold wooden floor. I shivered as the cold air hit the rest of my body. I looked around the room and realized that I was alone, but I could hear the T.V on downstairs.
I slowly and groggily, made my out onto the landing and down those beautiful steps except this time; I didn't feel like a celebrity…I just felt like a walking, talking mess. I trailed my hand against the wall to try and retain some balance and not to fall down the stairs and land flat on my face. My eyes were still half closed as they took in the new surroundings that were the bottom floor of the penthouse. And there he was, sat casually on the sofa, watching the half one news. I groaned again…I really had overslept. He heard my little outburst, turned around and smiled.
"Hey sleepyhead." I grimaced and went over to sit next to him, bringing my knees up on the sofa and wrapping my arms around them.
"Why didn't you wake me up?" My voice sounded hoarse and croaky, I coughed to try and clear my windpipes.
"I tried and you bloody hit me!" I opened my mouth to deny but closed it again after realizing that that sounded a lot like something I would do when I was sleeping.
"Sorry," I smiled as I tried not to laugh. But I couldn't resist muttering under my breath "You deserved it." He stared straight ahead, smiled and then put his head in his hands.
"Right," He stated and I furrowed my brow as to what he meant. He looked at me with an evil glint in his eyes. My own eyes widened: I knew what was about to come.
"Luke…Luke!" He lunged and I jumped just in the nick of time. I ran up the stairs as fast as I could and I could hear him coming up after me. "Luke! Stop it!" I giggled as he chased me around the landing and around his mother's bed. He almost caught me when I ran out of the room but I carried on back down the stairs and around the dining table. He stopped on the opposite side and stopped me whenever I tried to run either way.
"I'd seriously consider apologizing if I were you," He said to me as he slowly walked around the table "I haven't killed anything for at least fourteen hours and my energy is at it's bloody peak right now. I shook my head and he lunged again but I used my lack of height to my advantage and ducked under the table and ran straight back up the stairs again. I did have a weakness against him though as my breath was coming out in short gasps and I was pretty sure that I was about to get a stitch whereas he wasn't even breaking a sweat. I had just ran into his room when he rugby tackled me onto the bed. He was careful not to land his weight on mine as we hit the soft mattress and he pinned my arms down and towered over me, his face so close to mine that I could feel his breath against my lips. I held my hands up and surrendered.
"Okay, you win…I'm sorry." He smiled at me his heart melting smile. And then came the awkward moment. His lips parted slightly as his gaze locked onto mine. His eyes were softer, more…affectionate. I had never seen him look like this before in my life. Truth be told it scared me. Not in the way that I felt threatened by what it looked like he was about to do, but by the fact that in that precise moment, every fiber in my body wanted him to kiss me. What the fuck was going on? Luke was my best friend, always had been always would be. Sure there was a period in my life about three years ago when I had thought that I liked him. But then I had realized that I could never like him in that sense…or so I thought. He did that weird thing again, only this time I was awake and it was so much more intense. He took a loose strand of my hair and tucked it behind my ear before using the back of his hand to caress the length of my cheek down to the bottom of my chin where he sopped and tilted my head up ever so slightly.
'You keep the fire burning, Who's high strung thinking about it Who dials that son
I'll keep the water running,
We'll know it's over when they turn out the lights
Couldn't put the pieces together like they belong to one another
Yeah you and me girl
And makes good girls go wrong
The eyes of the night'
Who's high strung thinking about it
Who dials that son
His phone went off in the far corner of the room. He sighed before (what seemed to be reluctantly) letting go of my chin and sliding off the bed. I stayed where I was and propped myself up on my elbows as I watched him pick up his phone, check the caller, roll his eyes and then answer the call.
"Galvin." His tone was unfriendly towards his godfather which was unusual as he was normally rather pleasant with him.
"Yes….I don't know…What I mean is…Yeah, I know but…Okay, I'll be there in half an hour." His eyes kept on drifting to me as he spoke but my eyes never left him. He slid his phone shut and dropped it back onto the black arm chair in the corner of the room. "I've got to go, duty calls. He nodded towards his phone as he made his way over to where I was.
"Let me guess," I spoke as I lifted myself up off the mattress "the vampire has seen some weirdo freak killing people and trying to take over London. And you, being the last Van Helsing and all must quickly head to the Stacks where you will be given information on this thing's whereabouts and will be handed a large and extremely cool looking gun." I walked over to the corner where all of my clothes were and picked them up and draped them over one arm.
"Pretty much," he went over to his wardrobe and pulled out a pair of black faded jeans and a bright red tee shirt that said 'Warning! Do not read this shirt'.
"See," I walked to his bedroom door, "I'm not as oblivious as you think. I'll be downstairs." I walked downstairs and put my boots on. I decided that I might as well just wear my duffel coat over these 'make do' pyjamas instead of putting those muddy clothes back on. I looked in the mirror and laughed when I saw that my coat made me look like I had nothing on underneath and showed an awful lot of leg. Truth be told, I looked like a flasher. But I was only going home so I didn't really see the point of making an effort. I knew that Luke would have a shower so I settled myself on the sofa and flicked through one of Jenny's magazines. Jenny was currently on a getaway break in Scotland with a buck of her Yoga friends and would be back in a week. I knew that Luke did miss her, although he'd never admit it. I was just flicking through the celebrity gossip column when he came downstairs.
"We ready to go?" His hair was tousled and it was obvious he had just towel dried it and ran a brush through it. Little droplets of water were dripping onto his tee shirt. He grabbed his jacket from where he had thrown it on the kitchen counter the previous night and opened the door. The events of not ten minutes ago had still not been mentioned. I ducked under his arm and went into the hallway as he locked the door and we stepped in the all too familiar lift. I leant against the back of the lift and sighed as I rested my head on my hand. I had a feeling that it would be a little bit awkward for quite a while before one of us finally got the balls to confront the other. I could assure you…it would not be me. We got to the ground floor and exited through the glass doors.
"Well, I'll be off. I'll see you later." He looked at me with one eyebrow raised.
"Are you shitting me? I'm giving you a lift."
"Please, if you walk home dressed like that you'll have people chucking money at you for a quick fuck down an alley. I'm taking you home, end of." I didn't bother arguing with him, I didn't really want to walk home with my legs bare in the freezing cold anyway. We walked to his car and I was amazed to see the car park in the light as last night I couldn't see a thing. I sat in the front passenger seat and hoisted my feet up on the dash board. As soon as he sat down he glared at me and I instantly took them off and brushed where they had been with the sleeve of my coat. I only live three streets away so the journey was quick and painless with Luke and I exchanging light conversation and avoiding the subject that mattered the most completely and whole heartedly. He pulled up outside my building and I turned to him.
"I'm just going to wash my hair and get dressed so if you want I can be at the Stacks in about an hour?" I liked researching with them; it made me feel like a part of Luke's secret life.
"Yeah sure…that'd be great."
"Okay, I'll see you then." I leant forward to give him a kiss on the cheek before hopping out of the car and opening the door. As soon as he saw me close the door behind me, he sped off. As soon as I got in my apartment (which was no where near the niceness of Luke's), I stripped of and folded Luke's clothes in a neat pile on my bed. I entered the bathroom and took off my underwear and put them in the washing basket before turning on the shower and washing my body and hair. The heat felt so good against my cold skin that for a few seconds I closed my eyes and I seemed to melt in with the water.
I stepped out of the stand in shower and looked in the steamy mirror. I lifted one of my pale arms and slowly wiped my palm against the glass so I could look at myself. I dropped my arm to my side and my reflection stared back at me like ice. Could I love Luke? Could we ever break the friendship barrier? I deliberated this for a few stolen moments before shaking my head. We were just friends…best friends. If anything like that did ever happen it would ruin what I had with him, and I sure as hell wasn't ready to break my bond with Luke.
I flicked through my wardrobe until I found my wet look leggings and a long white vest to that had a picture of Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen on the front of it. I grabbed my black leather flat boots and a black leather jacket before sitting down and applying my usual black eyeliner and lip gloss. I left my hair in its natural waves and grabbed my handbag. I was just grabbing my keys when I heard the front door open and close.
"Nikki, sweetheart?" My mother's voice called from the living room.
"Yeah Mum, I'm in my room." My mother knocked on the door twice before opening it and coming in to sit on the edge of my bed. She had her work suit on and her hair was pulled back into a tight bun. She looked nice, better than I had seen her in ages. "Hey Mum. How was work?" She worked as a receptionist in a primary school about four miles away.
"Good, the same as usual. Luke rang last night and told me that you were stopping at his. I rang this morning but Luke said that you were still asleep and that you had had a rough night last night. Want to talk about it?" Luke, you son of a bitch!
"Oh it was nothing mum, really. We just went to a few clubs that's all…the usual." She smiled.
"Well, it's nice to see you having a good time. You should go out more often."
"I would, but you know, college and everything."
"Of course…how are your classes going?" I was taking art and music. My mother would've rather me take something more (as she called it) productive but she also accepted that music and art were things that I wanted to pursue in life.
"They're great, I have to finish an art piece for next week and I haven't even started though,"
"You'll be fine. You're a great artist. Anyway I actually wanted to ask you if you'd like to have dinner tomorrow. Just the two of us, a nice girly night in. I feel like we haven't done anything like that in a while." I couldn't believe what I was hearing. This was by far the longest conversation I had had with my mother since her boyfriend broke up with her three weeks ago and now out of the blue she wanted to have dinner?
"Um…yeah, that'd be great Mum…I'll order pizza." I couldn't have stop the grin spread across my face even if I had wanted to.
"I'm looking forward to it." She got up to leave but then paused when she reached my doorway. "Oh and Nikki…I'm sorry about these past couple of weeks…my behavior was inexcusable."
"Mum stop, its okay. I understand that it takes time to heal." She rested one of her perfectly manicured hands on my cheek and I let my face lean into it. "I'm just going out for a bit, will you be okay."
"I'll be fine sweetie, God, what did I ever do right in this world to deserve a beautiful daughter like you?"
I was still smiling as I climbed down the ladder to the sewer that led to the Stacks. I couldn't wait to tell Luke about tomorrow. I had it all planned out. I would pick up a couple of chick flicks from Blockbusters (possibly something starring Hugh Grant) and then I would grab two margarita pizzas and a cheesy garlic bread from Dominoes Pizza, and I would have everything ready for when my mother got home at around sixish. I jumped down from the bottom step of the ladder and headed for the weird circular door thingy that was the entrance to the Stacks. I knocked on the door and shouted that it was me several times before Galvin opened the door. He rolled his eyes when he saw me and I gave him what I thought was my most fabulous smile.
"Ah dear Galvin, if you really missed me that much you should've called. I would've been over in a flash. Anything for you." He grunted at my little act before beckoning me into the room and bolted the door behind me. I could see Luke biting his lip as not to laugh at my joke at Galvin's expense. "So…who's the freak?"
"We can't really find anything to match Mina's description exactly…but we know it definitely lower than a grade five so it's just a pawn for some other guy." Luke spoke up. Mina was sat on the small leather couch concentrating hard on something and Galvin had returned to searching the many bookshelves whilst Luke was sat around the centre table, book in hand and looking straight at me, a smile on his face. I sat on the chair next to him and grabbed the nearest book.
"So what sort of thing are we looking for?"
What do you think? I love to hear from you so please SPEAK UP and REVIEW! I couldn't stop writing this chapter. I came up with so many ideas and thoughts for where this story will go and trust me…its all pretty exciting. What are you're thoughts on Nikki? I know that she is a completely different character, I tried to work with Ruby I really did but I just failed miserably every time so in the end I just thought screw it…and along came Nikki. I cannot stress how important it is for you to REVIEW…
I'll love you always,