The knock at the door makes her jump and nervously check in the hall mirror and adjusther cami and cardigan and put on her best smile. Either way he chose for the evening - she wants to be welcoming.
As she unlocks the door she hears multiple voices out side chit chatting. So this is what he wanted. It helps her to know a second early so she can keep her face from betraying her disappointment. She takes a deep breath to control the nervousness, before opening the door.
"Hey! Welcome everyone! Come on in!" she motions toward the small living room, ready with orderves on the coffee table and two bottles of a light wine.
"Should I sit over there with George and Nina? For safety sake..." Annie lets her words trail off uncomfortably.
"If we don't sit next to each other and are aware of where of the other one is, I don't think I will be any danger to you. I'm used to working around ghosts," Tara tries to put Annie at ease as she starts serving the group. "I'm so glad that you are all safe. My fellow officers said that it was a close call for you Annie."
"Mitchell said we could come along. That's why we wanted to come along, to say thank you. So... well...I guess, thank you," George explains.
"We won't stay long. You should have seen Mitchell scurrying around getting ready. He looks cool and collected now. But it took him 5 changes of clothes to pick that awful yellow t-shirt and those ratty jeans," Nina tattles on him.
"Nina, you're so dead..." Mitchell threatens, trying to cover his embarrassment as he takes the offered wine glass from Tara and leans his elbows on his knees.
Covering her mouth with her free hand, Tara tries to stifle her giggles as she sits next to him on the sofa. "You really were worried about what to wear?" she asks incredulously and unable to keep a straight face.
Mitchell clears his throat and looks up at her, pleading for a change of subject, "I'm not going to answer that." It only makes Annie and Nina laugh all the harder.
Closing her eyes and shaking her head as she smiles, "Well, I've read the files on all of you. But that's not like really knowing you all. Tell me about how you all met. What's it like all living under the same roof?"
About an hour later...after the rest of the group leaves.
She pours him another glass and sits a little closer to him this time, "Well, I'm really glad you brought them along. It helps me see you a little more clearly. And it's obvious that you're really important to them."
He rubs the back of his neck, showing his apprehension, "You said you'd explain this Sundowner thing."
Settling back into the cushions and taking another sip from her own glass first, "Well, my introduction to the world of the supernaturals started with being kidnapped by the Templars."
His involuntary lean away from her and wary glance, make her restate it, "Yes, I said Templars. They're a sick bunch of pricks. They wanted to use the one supernatural tool I have - my soulless ability to temporarily remove a supernatural's powers. They wanted to use me to help them kill. Damn, that gave me nightmares."
"Yep. I have no soul. Nothing for religion to save. No eternity to face. You have to have a soul to become a vampire, werewolf, ghost or any other undead being. It's like God forgot he started to create me, and left me with a vacuum. My kind, temporarily sucks the soul from others. Preternaturals have been sought by many of those who consider their non human state as a curse. But that kind of needy relationship is really creepy."
"So, how did you escape?" Mitchell asks, more interested now.
She looks away and hides behind her long bangs, "Ivan was a target they wanted to eliminate. That's how I knew him at the funeral home - by the way. I was able to communicate to him that it was a trap and he helped me escape. He killed all three assassins and we fled. He dropped me off with the few remnants of BUR."
"That's why he seemed so fond of you..." he thinks out loud. She's not sure if he's pouting or trying to put it all together.
"I'm grateful to him. But, I hadn't seen him since the day he deposited me on Lyall's doorstep, if you're wondering," she adds, hoping to assuage any fears of her having romantic feelings for Ivan.
"Randall Lyall is the head of BUR and beta for the London werewolf pack. My commander, and a man I look up to. ... By they way, I feel like I'm being interrogated. I plan on asking you questions too...," her eyebrows lift to give him warning that she's getting uncomfortable being the center of attention.
He turns, looking away from her and pushes back into the couch, "So there's packs now..."
"Um-hmm. Always have been. Now, for the Sundowner part. This one's harder. A Sundowner is authorized in their country to be judge, jury and executioner for supernaturals and recently for those attacking supernaturals. Lyall suggested I take the post. He knows I'm practical by nature, that I don't want to kill but will if it means saving more lives than I take. While I still don't like the idea, there are an increasing number of supernaturals kind of going off the deep end. I've seen some pretty horrific stuff. But the good side, is that I've been able to save lives too," she explains.
Shifting because she needs to move and she's not emotionally comfortable, she puts a reassuring hand on his, "And the most difficult thing to share - but probably the most important is that BUR gave me the permission follow and be there with you that night because of Lucy's betrayal. I was worried about you..."
"I had it under control..." he cuts her off and moves his hand.
"Maybe. At least you directed your anger in a direction that didn't kill innocents..."
"So much for what you said about believing in me..." he's definitely pouting now. She wonders to herself why is it with vampires, that they're so self absorbed.
"You just experienced something unspeakable. Everyone has their limits, Mitchell. You're not THAT far from humanity," she says as she lets her head fall back into the couch, wishing she didn't have to say that she'd suspected he might have done something terrible if she'd not been there. "I didn't try to stop you from helping your friends. Anyone else I would have. And I left Lucy to you, if you remember. Doesn't that say something about believing in you?"
"You're an assassin, and a spy..." he tries to shift the conversation.
"I intend to step down as Sundowner. But I can't stop you from thinking of my position at BUR as being a spy. And you're a rogue vampire who has more kills than he can count..." she states the obvious. "Do you want to turn this into a fight right now? Or would you like another glass of wine?" she tries to stop him pushing her away.
He sighs and holds out his wine glass. Letting the silence be a safety net for a little while, she pours for him.
"The wine is good..." he tries to keep the temporary peace.
"Thank you. I hoped you'd like it."
"It wasn't in my file then?" he pokes verbally, unable to resist the jab.
"Ah...no," she laughs letting the tension out. "Would you like to see your file sometime, since you seem so preoccupied with it? You have a right to see it. I could even show you my file if that would answer any doubts about what I said," she offers.
"Why are you doing this? Why are you so open?" he asks trying to get to her intentions.
"I want to know you. And my past and position are a pretty darn big hurdle. Your turn. So answer me this, why did you come tonight?" she returns.
"Shit. I don't know for sure. Maybe I want to know why you'd think I could possibly be considered boyfriend material, after what you've seen. Maybe I wanted to scare you off. Most relationships end very badly with me."
"What about the ones that didn't? Were they worth the risk?" she gently prods.
"The one that didn't go bad was great until we went our separate ways, but I was still the death of her..." he closes his eyes and tries to keep his composure.
"She gave her life for me. I was in the hospital after Herrick tried to stake me. I wasn't healing, and needed fresh blood. She was dying and offered hers. I wish I hadn't accepted..."
"She must have been amazing..." she puts a comforting hand on his arm and he doesn't move it this time.
"Do you want to know what I see in you?" she gathers her courage.
There's no response from him, but she continues, "I see someone who doesn't give up - even after all of what life has thrown his way. Someone who fights his own nature to try to do what's right. Someone who has a conscience - scarred as it is after a hundred years, so he retains some humanity long beyond when others give it up. Someone who isn't perfect - but has so much to give. You're the first person I've ever considered offering my so called 'gift' of soulless-ness to help through the rough times. Not because you need it, but because I could offer it - instead of it being taken from me like every time before." She delicately moves a strand of stray curls out of his face, "Will you let me into your life?"
In response, he traces her jawline with his fingers and puts his forehead to hers, "Maybe..."
"I can deal with that..." She kisses his cheek and he turns into her kiss with a desperation that catches her off guard.
Sensing her startle, he pulls away, "Sorry..."
Her head tilts to one side in confusion, "Don't be. That just...wasn't in your file..." she teases to put him at ease.
He throws his head back in genuine laughter, "O God, I hope not... Come here, you..." He pulls her over to his lap. It's tricky to kiss while they laugh, but they enjoy attempting.
Awakening in his arms just before the alarm goes off, she nuzzles his shoulder. "Morning, sunshine," she whispers and turns off the buzzer.
He pulls an extra pillow over his head. "Not morning..."
"Maybe not for you, but I have to be ready for work soon."
"Aww..." there's no sympathy in his voice.
She peels back the pillow. "Well, Sunshine, I don't have an extra key for you yet and my lock is a deadbolt. So you'll have to be ready with me." She twirls a few curls on the side of his face. Then kisses his neck and collar bone, before taking a big breath and blowing really hard to give him a zerbert in the crook of his neck.
It causes him to curl up and scream at the overwhelming tickling sensation, "I'm awake! Uncle! Please, stop!" When he catches his breath and has fought off her antics, he sticks out his bottom lip all pouty like, "You're mean..." But, he pulls her back down to the bed with him.
The click of the lock on the door signals the end of their first day together. He pulls her into tightly into an embrace and whispers in her ear, "Tara, I think you've saved me..."
Thanks for reading! I'd really appreciate it if you would leave a review and let me know what you think! :)
I modeled Tara Daniels after Sara Greene (Aidan's rumored fiancée). She's so cute and I thought she'd be perfect.
Notes on Sundowners by GailCarriger. (I expanded a bit on her ideas with the "modern BUR". Adding the protection of supernatuals to the Sundowner duties.)
Someone Anyone chorus (by Anberlin):
Someone, someone tell me what we're fighting for
Anyone, anyone, anyone can start a war
No one can walk away, no one can walk away truly alive