The Beginning of a Problem

For the fifth time in a week Charley finds himself checking his computer for the latest requests for Vampire executions. There are three new requests since last night.

"What the…What's going on?" He mutters.

Plopping down in the seat he skims over the requests. All are for highly dangerous vampires centered on the U.S.A.'s Pacific coast. Many of the other recent requests have come from along the coast as well, specifically in a small fishing town.

He leans back in his chair and contemplates this. There's no real reason for such a sudden outburst, Vampire activities on the coast have always been low because of their fear for water. For so many to suddenly pop up it can only be one thing…the Vassalord drug has found its way there. And it's making a killing.

Literally.

Charley is so lost in thought he doesn't hear Rayflo enter the room. The older Vampire takes his chance, creeping slowly and quietly up on the unsuspecting man.

"Cherrryyy!" He shouts, wrapping his arms tightly around him.

Charley nearly jumps out of his skin, bucking in fear but Rayflo holds him down.

"Did I scare you, Cherry?" He chuckles, wrapping his arms tighter around the man.

"Could you please not do that, I'm trying to work."

Rayflo laughs, his freshly washed hair still dripping.

"So, what's going on here?" He points to the screen.

"Nothing. Would you please get off me? You're soaking wet!"
Rayflo pulls back but ends up resting his chin on top of Charley's head which isn't much of an improvement but he doesn't stop him.

"Come on, where are you going now? I'll be so sad if its somewhere far away like last time. Evil Vatican sending my poor Cherry all alone to a strange land!" He wails, wrapping his arms around Charley's head and squeezing him tight.

"You're choking me! And it's none of your business where I go!"

He pries the vampire's arms away from his neck and takes a deep breath

"So, what's the mission? Either way I'm going to find out." He persists, leaning on the back of his chair and peering over his shoulder.

"I'd prefer you figure it out once I'm gone but…" Charley averts his eyes and finds staring at the wall to be simply fascinating.

Rayflo grins.

"But my little Cherry would be so lonely without me!"

"No I wouldn't, you're a pain to travel to travel with. Besides, it's close by. It's only on the West Coast, in a town called Argyle. There have been enormous amounts of Vampiric activity in the region. I'm leaving in the morning."

"I'm coming!"

"No your not!"
"Says you."

"Says the person paying for the flight ticket. As I recall you got sick of sitting in cargo." Charley growls
"Well if it's the only way to be with Cherry I'll manage."

He frowns at the Vampire who simply smiles all too happily back at him.

"And besides, I know the Vatican is paying for it so you just write me off as luggage anyway."

"I'm not going to be gone that long…It's only a two hour flight away."

"Long enough for you to get hungry and in trouble." Rayflo teases.

"That's it, you're not coming." Charley says.

"Noooo! Let me come, Cherrrry!" Rayflo cries, throwing himself at the man and latching on like a leech.

He struggles against him for a little bit but his defences are broken and he knows it.

"Fine, you can come. But…"
Rayflo's face lights up, eager for rules to break. Charley just stares at him.

"…you have to behave."

"What am I? Your pet?" Rayflo questions but is happy none the less.


Charley gets the usual stares as he enters the hotel lobby, carrying the massive coffin on his back with his coffin carrier. Two maids and a bellboy stare, stunned and rather confused. Sacra bounds along beside him, cords dragging on the ground as she weaves between the people. Altogether they look a very odd sight and probably even more so considering the small town they're now in. The young man at the front desk manages to reign in his composure before Charley gets there.

"I have a reservation for-"

Tap tap

Charley stiffens and the man's eyes widen.

Tap tap

Their eyes gravitate to the coffin, naturally.

"Sir…the hotel has a policy against…pets.

"Don't worry, this-"

Tap tap

Charley kicks the coffin with the back of his heel. There is a muffled cry then all is silent.

"-Isn't a pet."

"Sir-" The man says uncertainly.

With practiced hands, Charley slides a couple hundred dollar bills across the table and under the man's hand.

"This is official business. I'd like to get on with it as soon as possible.

"Y-yes, of course, Sir."

The money disappears into his pocket end everything goes smoothly. Charley sends his thanks to heaven even though it's slightly immoral but if you have to bribe someone to destroy a few vampires, so be it God.

Up in the room Scara gives a bark and jumps up on the bed. Charley drops the coffin with a thunderous thud. Rayflo shouts out and pounds on the lid.

"Let me out, Cherry! Don't just go throwing me around!"

"Why can't you just be quiet for once? I told you you're impossible to travel with and we're already noticeable enough without labelling me the crazy person brining a dead body into a hotel."

"Yeah, I was clearly dead. That was why I was tap-ing!"

"You owe me $400 dollars when you come out of there." Charley says as he pulls the security pins to let the Vampire out.

"Then maybe I just won't come out." Is his muffled reply.

"You're coming out of there now!" Charley yells and tackles the coffin. He tries to pry the lid off but somehow the vampire inside manages to hold on.

"No!"

"Yes!"

A malicious grin crosses Rayflo's face.

"Fine."

He lets go. The lid suddenly gives and Charley goes flying back with a shout and sprawls on the bed. Quiet as a mouse Rayflo makes a run for the door.

"No you don't!"

Charley leaps up and snatches Rayflo's hair before he manages to escape out the door.

"Get…back here!" He grunts, reeling the vampire back in.

"Where would you go anyway?"

"Away from here!" Rayflo shouts, fighting Charley as he tries to pin him down.

Rayflo writhes and squirms, just slippery enough that Charley can't hold him down.

Charley's hands catch one of Rayflo's wrists but he squeals and makes a dive for the coffin. Charley sees his chance, grabs the lid and slams it down, trapping the vampire inside.

He takes several deep breaths, trying to calm down from the sudden battle when he hears his Master's voice.

"Well, make up your mind Cherry! Do you want me in the coffin or out?"

Realizing that once again his Master has led him in circles draws an exasperated sigh from him. He slides the lid to the side a bit so Rayflo can only peer out. He looks down at him.

"Why do you always have to do that?"

"Because I love to see a blushing Cherry."

"I'm not blushing. I'm red with anger!"

Charley sighs, the fight draining out of him as he sits down on the coffin lid. A stab of pain drives through his chest and his heart races. His breath comes quicker and he has to fight to stay calm. Air comes as a rasping pull on his burning throat.

Rayflo peers up concernedly at him. He pulls his sleeve down and sticks his arm up through the hole.

"Here."

Charley glances at the proffered arm but turns away, disgust eating away at him. It's only been two weeks. It used to be so easy to go a month before feeling the pangs of thirst but now two weeks is his max. It's pitiful, at this rate he'll never be good enough to get into heaven. Not with this horrible, impure addiction.

Rayflo senses his hesitation so he pushes his head arms and shoulders through the hole.

"Chris, don't fight hunger. It's a losing battle. And…" He peters out and looks away.

He wants to tell him it's all right. But even if he did say the words Chris would never believe him, not as he is now. The look on Chris' face is so sad and pathetic though. You'd never guess from the vulnerable look he has that he's a dangerous vampire hunter. But then again Rayflo has never really seen him as a Hunter. Some part of him will forever see the man in front of him as a little, starving kid on a battle field, something you have to take care of.

If only he were as easy to take care of as a kid is, Rayflo laments.

"Fine, don't eat. See if I care." He says, getting all defensive as he curls back down into his coffin.

Charley gets up and opens the curtains. The sun is just setting behind the tree covered hills, lighting up the old town eerily and somehow anciently.

"Master, it's almost dark. Are you going out?"

Rayflo pushes out of his coffin and stands straight, working the kinks out of his back. Doesn't matter how old you get things still get stiff.

"'Course I'm going out. You locked me in a box for the better part of a day. I'm dying to check this town out. I'll give it to you though; you actually invested in a better lock."

Charley gives a wane smile.

"I have a feeling you'll be a little disappointed." He says, glancing back at the old fashioned fishing town out the window. He can't imagine the playboy Vampire fitting in.

"We'll see about that." He laughs, launching himself out the window and transforming into a swarm of bats. He waves before his arm breaks down into eight black bats.

Charley watches as the dark fluttering shapes disappear down into the street. A pang of hunger hits him, doubling him over with a gasp. He clutches the window still till it passes. Sacra whines form her spot on the bed.

"I'm fine." He growls, hand knotted in his shirt over his heart.

There's nothing left to do but get some much needed rest. Traveling is hard on humans but for Vampires it's twice as bad. You can have an immortal body and live for centuries but get queasy from one day of travel. Clawing his way to the bed and crawling on it he collapses next to Sacra. He doesn't even get around to turning off the light. His stomach growls as he closes his weary eyes, ignoring the monster trying to eat him from the inside out.

Sacra whines again and curls up next to him, nudging under one arm. He draws the dog close to him, clinging to the warmth he's so desperate to feel. As exhausted sleep comes for him he feels a familiar stab of worry for his Master but it disappears into the abyss. The world seems to fade and so does all his fear and worry.