She walked briskly down the darkened street, turning her collar up.  Glancing at a corner tinted by the streetlights, she inwardly rolled her eyes and muttered something about Murphy's Law.  She knew what part of the city this was.  The vampire safe houses were here.  She had seen the marks on the walls. 

The whole situation was not desirable.  No sharp objects in the immediate area, people were, well, vampires, and it was dark.  And it was raining, to top it all off.

Just perfect.

"Hey pretty," slurred one of the vampires behind her.  His clothing was disheveled, and in the she could see the side of the tattoo on his neck.  Well, there was always her high heel if it was needed . . .

"May I help you?"

"Oh, I think you can."  He lunged at her with his hands forward.  She had been expecting that.  Grabbing his arm with one hand and slipping a foot behind his, she flipped him onto the hard cement.  Out of nowhere, another came out.  She punched him in the nose and sprayed him with the garlic spray.  Seeing the two men not being able to attack her anymore, she was about to go back home when she heard a gun click at the back of her head.

"Hello, Blade," she said coolly.

"I should've known it was you, Karen."

***

"So what brings you to my town."  She stirred her tea as she studied him closely.  He looked the same, talked the same, and dressed the same.  Not too much had changed over the half year.

"A prophecy."  He walked around her apartment.  Checking out windows, doors.  If it weren't for all the things she knew, she may have thought he was paranoid. 

She groaned.  "Again?"

"Yes, now I'm looking for a witch."

"I guess you're going to tell me that fairies are real, too."

"No, they're not."

"But witches are?"

"Yes.  May I ask you a question?"  He had things to do, she could tell, and little time.

"Yeah, shoot," she eyed his gun suspiciously, "err, don't really."

"Did you know about me coming?"

"Depends on which time do you mean; the first or second."  She settled back in her chair with a sigh.

"Either."

"Both.  Two weeks before you came.  I had been taking a shower and I looked in the mirror.  You're face was there," she said with an eerie calmness.

"That was the full moon, the same day we arrived," he muttered as he leaned on the window frame, looking out at the rising sun.

"Yes, you're right.   I remembered that for a reason."  She stared at her teacup as if it held the answers to all her questions.  "And the second time. . . I sort of . . sensed you."

"Well, you're the person I'm looking for then.  They'll be, too, soon enough."  He started to take his things and leave.  "I'll be back later.  Pack anything you could need and be waiting when I get back.  We're leaving."

"Wait," her hand shot out and grabbed his arm.  "I know you've probably started to build up and immunity to the serum.  Take one of these for the road."  She tossed him a dark red packet from the refrigerator.

He looked down at it.  "Blood?"

"I was trying to be prepared.  I volunteered at the Red Cross for a while.  Did warehouse checks.  Once I took a couple of the registry, I had a couple incase anything happened.   Anyway, I thought that might spare the need to turn me into a juice box next time the situation arises.

Turning to look at his reaction, Karen was surprised to see a small grin on his face.

"I'm glad you're back, you know."  It came out so puny that she blushed.

The smile on his face disappeared.  For a moment, his face looked like a storm of emotions, then his aloof façade came back, and he turned and left the room.

Karen placed her bags near the door, realizing that again, it was time to leave another place behind.  How many times more would she do it?

***

"So where are me going?"  Karen was sitting, slumped in the passenger seat.  They were headed north, she knew that.

"Massachusetts."  He didn't even look up.  Checking for followers, or something.

"Does this have anything to do with that witchcraft thing?"  He grunted.  There was silence in the car for a long stretch of the road.

"Tell me," he said finally.  "Did your mother ever do anything odd? Read any strange books?"

"I-I really didn't know my parents."  She looked down.  "My Dad left before I even got to know him.  Mom was stuck with two kids to take care of.  Her waitress job combined with my Dad's job was enough, but not on her own.  She resorted to-" it was getting harder to speak, "resorted to selling herself.  I had this okay life, it was guilty.  Really guilty, 'cause I knew where the money was coming from but. . I was just this little girl in the middle of a whorehouse."  She laughed a little.  "Pimps coming to take me back home from school," she caught the squint he was giving the car ahead of them.  "No, none of them took advantage of me or anything like that."

"So what happened?"  His voice was-was it possible for him? – gentle.

"One morning, I woke up and Mom and Ashley were gone.  Just gone.  I got a call later asking for a Miss Jenson.  So I said it was she.  The call was a slap in the face.  My sister, who was a good deal older than me and my Mom had been found dead from loss of blood with wounds at the neck."

"Vampires, in other words."

"I didn't realize it then, of course.  Wasn't allowed to believe in that stuff.  But enough angst from me, what are we doing in Massachusetts?"

"Getting a book.  And yes, it includes breaking in," she didn't even get to ask him.

******

The metallic coolness of the gun in her hand made her shiver even more than she already was, she didn't like this.  Not one bit.

He had been inside for an hour; from time to time she heard the sound of skin hitting skin, wood, bullet. . etc. etc.  Either he was making a spectacle on purpose or there were a lot of vampires in there-probably the latter.

Karen shifted slightly so her legs would regain feeling.  She loved and hated the New England weather.  It would always be cold when you didn't want it and sunny at the worst of times.  Unfortunately for her, it was cold, dark and raining.

Now where had she seen this before?

It was deathly quiet in the building for a few minutes, and Karen held her breather as her grip on the gun tightened.  She flipped the safety off and was ready to shoot at anything that came her way.  Along with some time spent at a weapon's shop and classes in self-defense, she had also read as much as she could on the supernatural.  Call it intuition; she knew it would be coming in handy.

"Here," Blade's monotone voice cued her sigh of relief as a heavy book was dropped in her lap.  He held out a hand to help her get up and they started to run to the car.  His hand in hers, she tripped and skidded, grasping the book with one hand.  She was half aware of its cover flaking in the crook of her arm as her nails were slightly digging in.  But as she ran, she felt a strange amount of renewal in her energy coming from where her skin was making contact with it.  She shook her head.  She had to think of what was happening right now.

"You burst in on a party?" she said as they ran.

"No, they were expecting me.  They already know about you."  He swung onto the motorcycle and they tore off.

***

"So, what does it say?"  He broke her steady concentration on the page of the book.  She looked up to see Blade leaning against a column with his arms crossed. 

"Read it for yourself."

"I can't."

She looked up startled.  The writing had been perfectly readable. "What?"

He uncrossed his arms and walked over to where she was sitting.  Around them the airport bustled with people.  They had waited for daytime to go.  Less of a chance of getting caught.

"It's like the Vampire bible.  Only pure bloods can read it."

"But, but I'm not-"

"Yes, you are."  She didn't know if it was his closeness or that she was just soggy, scared, and cold, but she shivered. 

Blade looked at her critically for a moment, then peeled of his trench coat and rested it on her shoulders.  The look on her face, portraying thanks, gratitude, and embarrassment was enough for him.

"Its an introduction in the beginning."  Karen flipped some pages, hiding it carefully in her lap.  Acquaintances were out at any time.  "This is some sort of incantation, and this is a spell you put in whatever is going to pierce there skin."

"You might be of more help than I realized," he said with a half grin.

***

The motel room was small, but it would do for the day.  Two twin-sized beds, covered with thin, cheap covers in gaudy colors were placed on either side of the room, and a television sat in the center.  It was mostly bare; the paint on the walls was chipping.  Blade cautiously looked around before depositing his things on the floor.

Yawning, Karen sat on the bed closest to the door and began reading again.  Blade started to unpack some of his weapons, checking cartridges and anything else he could think of to kill time.  In the evening, he had decided, now that they were in Texas, they would leave for a plane to England.  An indirect flight would give them some time.  Or maybe they should go somewhere else, before that.  Didn't matter, he'd figure it out in the tomorrow night.

"You getting any sleep?" He looked over at Karen.

"Hm?"

"I said sleep, are you thinking about getting any sleep?"

"Yeah, in a bit," she murmured, not looking up from the book.  Her thumbnail was in her mouth and she was reading the book with immense concentration.

"Fine then, suit yourself."  He took off his shirt with his back turned, watching something on the television. 

Whoa, He heard in his head, causing a grin to spread on his face.

"I forgot to tell you about that whole La Magra thing, didn't I?"

"Wha-what thing?"  She looked worried.

"I can read your thoughts, when you think things too loud.  One of the reasons why vampires usually kill their prey.  Drives them insane."  He looked in her direction to see her face extremely red.

"O-oh, I'll keep that in mind, then."

***

"So where are we off to this time?"  Karen asked as they stood in line to get tickets. 

"Ireland."  She couldn't tell if it was a joke or not because his sunglasses created an aloofness that was chilling.  She looked at him incredulously.

"You've got to be kidding me.  Why?  What does it have to do with this whole thing?"

"What was the original religion of Ireland?" he retorted.

"Paganism."  She hadn't realized what she'd said until it was too late.  "Fine, I see why."

In front of them was a couple holding hands.  The man looked over at the woman, who smiled at him and they kissed.  Karen saw the wedding band on the girl's finger.

"Don't you ever want something like that?" Blade said quietly.  Startled at the question, Karen raised an eyebrow.  She realized he was serious.  "Isn't it human to love?"

"No."  She turned slightly so she couldn't see the couple.  "It's if you're naive.  I've lost a lot of people in my life.  I know you never knew your parents, and you lost Whistler, but I had a family.  I was habituated to living in a family.  I knew what it was like to love someone and be loved back, and everyone I've ever loved so far, no matter how little, has been taken away from me."  She sighed and put a hand through her hair.  "Sometimes I do, though.  But then I realize that love's a weakness.  Am I not right?"

Blade looked away, his look downcast.  He only nodded.