Timeline: Volume 1
Characters: Rayfell, Cheryl
Warnings: foul language, mild spoilers for volume four
"Hm. This Kazan case is going to be a hard one." The petite blond vampire hunter pushed her glasses further up her nose as she scanned the computer screen. She ignored the sudden weight that pushed down the back of her chair and the head that rested gently on top of her own.
"That's the one where they're trying to finger the priest, right? What's his name? Mailer? But you've already met with Kazan. Are you sure of his nature?"
Cheryl smiled knowingly and a bit of her youthful facade fell away. "Pretty sure. You'd have to meet him for me to be absolutely certain though. Plus I'm not sure if Father Mailer is involved or not. A case like this is going to require some undercover work. Mr. Kazan is my client, after all. It would be pretty rude to dispatch him without any proof."
Rayfell smirked. "You know, Cheryl, I could always go in there and end the problem." Her voice picked up a sing-song lilt. "And then we could go on vacation. What do you say to the Mediterranean? Sandy beaches, starlit skies…"
"And plenty of opportunities for you to cheat, no doubt." The girl shrugged the vampire's weight off of her shoulders. She spun her chair around to face the woman as her tone took on the same sharp edge as her favorite scythe. "No, Master. As an heir to Arnold Paole's blood and curse, it is my duty to use my capabilities in the service of God in the time I am blessed with as a human. Having you do my hunting for me is hardly using God's gifts to the best of my abilities."
The office chair swung around again, spinning Cheryl back to her computer. Rayfell stood silently for a moment, her lips pursed as a sharp retort rose up. She suppressed the urge; the angry words smothered as her breath fell from her in a sigh. She deserved the barb about cheating, of course; and Cheryl was right not to depend on her strength. Rayfell knew all too well her own weaknesses. It was part of the reason she admired the young hunter so much.
The blond-haired girl was reliable, steadfast and strong in her convictions. Although the petite nun had the physical appearance of a child, she had a mature spirit of solid steel. She was loyal and self-possessed; unwavering once she set out to accomplish something. These qualities, so unlike Rayfell's own flighty nature, drew the vampire in, until she became like a moon happily trapped in a planet's gravitational pull. It was Cheryl who gave Rayfell's life more meaning and structure, who moderated the vampire's impulsive nature. She felt calmer around the girl, more pure, more herself.
But Rayfell knew that wasn't the only reason she was attracted to Cheryl. She had been initially pulled to the girl by a flood of feelings that hadn't been hers at all. Which meant that they were residuals of his…
"Cheryl," she tried again, "I know that you don't want me to do all the work for you. But… I can still help, can't I? After all, the women who have disappeared… they're all sort of… well…"
"Bustier, are you trying to say? Believe me, Master, I am well aware of my shortcomings in that particular area."
Rayfell forged ahead. "And we're not sure what you're actually getting into; it could be a whole nest of vampires for all we know."
"Your point, Master?"
"I know this vampire. He's partners with a vampire hunter who is supposedly quite skilled. If you like, I could give him a call and arrange a meeting."
Cheryl turned fully around in her chair, her head cocked slightly to one side as she scrutinized the woman before her. "You're friends with a male vampire? What sort of man is he?"
"Friends, hell! Look, it's not like that at all. He's just a pain in the ass. Completely hopeless! It's his associate who might be useful. Ah, the hell with it. Forget I said anything!"
Puzzled, Cheryl reached out a hand to touch Rayfell on her arm. "Master, it's not as if I think it's a bad idea. I was just curious, that's all. It's unusual for vampires to partner with hunters, to say the least." The girl smiled becomingly, a faint blush pinking her cheeks. "I've always believed that we were unique."
Rayfell pulled away; Cheryl's warm hand falling from her arm. She turned from the girl and scratched at her wavy hair. A heavy sigh rose and fell. "This guy… I guess you could say that we're… sort of like twins. That's all." The older woman shook her head. "Look, I'm going to get some air."
Eva left the room and her confused partner behind. Grabbing a bottle of Merlot, the vampire went out onto the balcony. She took a heavy pull on the bottle and looked out over the city below. Then she slumped, her countenance falling.
'Unique', ha! What a laugh! Unique was a gift given to the six billion odd other humanoids on the planet, a gift Rayfell had been denied. She was a clone, designed from start to finish to look like him. Her taste in clothes, her choice in partners; everything was dictated by what he preferred, by what appealed to him. Rayfell was a creation, a copy of the original. Worse, she was the lesser of the two. For just like a photocopy, every flaw that he possessed was magnified in her.
Doubt and regret clawed at her heart. What if Cheryl saw the differences and became partial to the original?
No… no… that wouldn't happen. They weren't so different; he just liked to pretend that they were. His years of gallantry were centuries behind him; he was just as foul and tainted as her… wasn't he?
Eyes narrowed, Eva took another long swig from her bottle. 'Eva', the name given to her by Barry. A slight perversion on 'Eve' but an apt description of her nature. 'Rayfell'. 'Fell', not 'Flo'. She was the fallen one, the one easily swayed and driven by desire.
Cheryl had become a blessing in her life. At first she had resented the girl, for she had recognized her attraction to be a reflection of his feelings for another. But gradually the vampire had realized how lucky she truly was. Cheryl accepted her, forgave her over and over and stayed with her despite her flawed nature. The little nun had become her rock, her world. But try as she might, Rayfell could not repay her partner's loyalty. Nor could she emulate Rayflo's determined faithfulness.
A voice seemed to whisper in her mind. "But that's okay, is it not, my Eva? After all, it is not Adam's place to lead Eve, but to follow her to disgrace. You will show Addie the error of his ways… won't you?"
The presence left as swiftly as it had come, leaving the vampire chilled to the core. Every hair on her body stood up on end; her insides felt frozen solid. Even though she had no need to breathe, it took a minute or two to remember to pretend, for her body to resume its pseudo bio-functions.
Barry never stayed long; he had no real interest in her beyond using her as a mirror, a constant reminder to Rayflo of how foul he was deep inside. The demon didn't care about Cheryl; her having an attachment to a singular person just meant she had ample opportunities to fail that person over and over again. And Rayfell, unlike her male counterpart, made sure to indulge Barry whenever he summoned her. If Rayflo was smart, he would do the same, thus abating the demon's obsession with him. But that idiot was too stupid and stubborn to do things the easy way. He would fight to keep control, fight to remain by his chosen partner's side, fight to keep from being like… her.
Soft, dark locks of hair hung before her eyes as Eva's head fell, her chin resting against her chest. Her hand tightened dangerously on the neck of the wine bottle. With a frustrated snarl, she flung the bottle as hard as she could, preternatural strength propelling it end over end far into the night. Small droplets of wine fell like bloody rain on the unsuspecting pedestrians below.
"Master?" a questioning voice called to her from within the lighted apartment.
Rayfell pulled away from the balcony with a snort, whirling about and stalking back inside. "Fine, fine," she muttered, her dark eyes glittering as she brushed past her diminutive partner. "I'll do it. I'll call that cock-sucking bastard. He can even meet you. But you're my partner, not his! If that prick lays one finger on you, I'll cut it off and shove it up his piss-hole!"
Cheryl winced as the door to the bedroom slammed shut, mentally filing away the descriptive threat for later use. Living with a vampire was nothing if not educational. "Like twins, eh? Looks like this Kazan case just got a whole lot more interesting." The blond girl smiled slightly and pushed her glasses up her nose.