Dead to Me

Vein Drain 

 While it's success baffled her, Margaux for all her personal strongly held opinions obliged Vein Drain's continued existence. Perhaps it spoke to those who were weakened or incapacitated in some way or another. Maybe it eased the conscience of the more civil minded, or for some, perhaps it was the equivalent of fast food. At any rate, there was a market for it, and as long as the news sustained it's ignorance where the clutch itself was concerned? Let there be blood bar.

 With that in mind, in a newly leveled world where their doors came with a screening process, Margaux found herself more inclined to visit Vein Drain. For the sake of the general immortal population, she waited until the sun had set to head out - enough time for even the still green of their kind to be out. Really, her interest was more so focused on the volunteers, the people who willingly gave their blood, an untapped resource that she was curious to familiarize herself with - to possibly strike a deal with one, should she find the right one.

 She pulled open the door, kept her hands in her pockets, for the time being and considered the decor. The sound of heartbeats, the faintest lingering hint of blood that she imagined was more or less ingrained at this point.


As predisposed as Vittorio was toward calling the existence of undead complete bogus, the evidence had been stacked against him. First, the New York City exposure had captivated the world last July, and another attack was caught on video here in Cordova, Colorado over the winter. Then there was the existence of this place, which both intrigued and baffled Vittorio at once.

Upon discovering the notorious Vein Drain, the man couldn't not indulge his curiosity.

Getting in had been a headache with more hoops to jump through than the average nightclub, but Vittorio wasn't so easily discouraged. He had made his mind up; he was going to see what things lurked in this neon-lit lair.

The interior was, well, unremarkable in his frankest opinion. Gloomy atmospheres and moody interior designs had been around long before anyone knew anything about vampires. The most immediate thing that caught his eye was how the place seemed more like a strip club; a handful of entertainers swaggered about, garnering the attention of others with their alluring body language and scant clothing, depending on the individual.

If Vein Drain really was just a strip club capitalizing off some sort of vampire kink, then Vittorio could tip his hat to the owner's cleverness.

In the meantime, he settled down at the bar and ordered himself a Spritz, observing the establishment's clientele with idle interest.

 It was a mix of the usual suspects - Vampires, humans, and then the proverbial top shelf that was psychics. She was silent as she walked about, doing what she could to avoid disturbing the scene as she rubbed her palms together and headed for the bar at last. Most were preoccupied or raised red flags. She was particular, finicky and quick to pass judgement outside of her own kind.

 The fellow seemingly situated by himself at the bar did not necessarily hit all of her requirements for conversation, but he was closer than anyone else so she went with it. There was, after all, very little need to tread carefully - she was home, she was strong.

"Surveying or selling?"

Vittorio was still waiting for his drink when a woman approached him.

She looked right at home in a place like this. With a fierce, confident look about her, Vittorio could have mistaken the woman for a model who had just stepped off the runaway, not mingling about this odd little club. While her form was largely hidden beneath an oversized coat, her visage was easy on the eyes; the way she carried herself also complemented her looks.

"Surveying," he replied, casually resting his elbow on the bar, "E mi piace ciò che vedo."

His Italian tongue had served him pretty with with the women he had met in town so far.

"And I like what I see."

 Oh, they were doing that - the thing where they speak in anything besides English. She wondered if that still worked for him, this cultured and world-traveled act, the appeal of an accent. It had to, based at least on the confidence that he put behind the words themselves. She stared, face vacant as she tried to place the words based on how they sounded and his appearance, the way he had said 'surveying' before sliding into the dog and pony show.

Italian? It felt like a safe bet.

 "Je ne parle pas italien. Français?" Still, she let it go, quiet as she glanced over her shoulder and noted a leery look from a familiar face or two. Regardless, she appreciated the discretion, that no one way stupid enough to approach her when she was nosing about and seeing what she could shake loose. "Do you survey often or is this your first time here?"

"I don't speak Italian. French?"

Ah. French.

An amused look colored Vittorio's face, but the man took his head. "Mon français est épouvantable." He answered in the same soft tone; he spoke with less fluency than before, parroting one of the few French phrases that he had devoted to memory. Such a travesty.

Still, the vacancy of her expression intrigued him. Vittorio took it as a challenge to make her smile before the night was out.

"This is my first time here," he answered. English it was, then.

"My French is terrible."

 "C'est." Small comfort she supposed, at least he was aware of it - more than what could be said for many of the high school French students who spoke in disjointed phrases and with heavy American accents. "Likewise." A small glimpse of truth when it did not stand to hinder or help her one way or the other, she feigned innocence for his benefit, tapped her fingers against the bar.

 "Are you a ...?" She left it open ended, allowed him to fill in the blanks - a wordless test of honesty. She could sense it in him, the beating of his heart, the signature that was assigned to every living (and not so living) thing. He was gifted, some unnatural talent the likes of which she did not know.

"It is."

Her confirmation of his subpar French continued to amuse him.

Apparently the woman was as foreign to this establishment as Vittorio was. She could have fooled him. There was also a sense of kinship, being two strangers in such a strange place. Vittorio didn't let it get to his head, however; that privilege was reserved for his ego and little else.

Then she asked what he was—a fair question, given the establishment's local renown. "A vampire? Oh no." Vittorio shook his head with a smirk.

Practiced as he was in his uncanny abilities, the man sought to decipher the woman before him. Her proximity sent a familiar itch across his skin, like static in the air before a thunderstorm. His eyes flashing gray, colorless as opposed to their piney green hue, Vittorio met the woman's gaze and observed the aura about her.

A proper smile spread across his face. "My name is Vittorio," he introduced himself, the steely tide receding from his irises as easily as it had appeared. "And you could say I am, eh, special."

Judging from his glimpse of the energy about her, she ought to understand his meaning all too well.

 A point for honesty, a half a point deduction at how quick he was to dispute the idea - as if it were in some way unappealing. She said nothing of it one way or the other, kept her face hard and nodded along. She made note of the shift in the color of his eyes, the way name - quiet as she focused on her own talents, allowed the blue of her eyes to darken to a deep brown and nodded in turn. "Same." Special in many ways, she looked about cautiously to make sure no one was watching and passed her hand through the bar as if it were a mirage.

 The blue returned just as quick and she set her hand on the surface - knocked against the wood as if to reiterate that it was solid. "Margaux. I showed you mine - what can you do?" Leaving her other talents out of polite conversation, cards kept close to her chest.

Vittorio thought so.

As intrigued as ever, he observed the shift in eye color before the woman passed a hand through the bar, as though she were some sort of apparition. The man raised his brows, having never seen such a thing before.

"Margaux." Vittorio offered a soft nod, contemplating what exactly he should do to express himself.

Then he had the most brilliant idea.

With another flash of gray, he sensed the phone in her pocket and went to work, his gaze distant and unfocused. In about a minute's time, it would go off with an unread text.

Clever, isn't it?
The Handsome Italian

Blinking repeatedly, he then returned his attention to the woman next to him. "I believe you have a message."

 In what felt like the psychic equivalent of pulling a rabbit from one's hat, her phone pinged and almost immediately he addressed it. Suspicious, she squinted at him before pulling her phone from the pocket of her jacket and snorting at the message that awaited her. Her eyes narrowed, a flash of amusement that didn't register in the hard line of her lips.

 "That's clever." Sincere again as she slipped her phone back into her pocket and considered her options going forward. He seemed confident, proud, perhaps more than a little arrogant - stubborn. She didn't have much use for stubborn, not for her purposes ... but maybe ...

 "What do you do for a living?" Casual as she turned on her stool to face the rest of Vein Drain, leery to keep her back to the general population.

Clever indeed. Vittorio was quite proud of himself for it.

Upon being asked about his profession, the man answered, "I sell cars." It was around that time that his drink arrived. While it had taken a dreadful amount of time for a simple aperitif, he didn't mind the timing. "And I race them on occasion."

Both halves of his answer were true in and of themselves, the less romantic details left up to the imagination.

"And what do you do?" Vittorio stubbornly clung to his belief that she was a model of some sort.

Or perhaps one of those fashion-designing Prada types.

 She was quiet for a moment, considering his question and how best to proceed - she supposed a management position would have been a fitting answer. Instead she decided to go with her main source of income, something that also carried with it an element of truth. "I'm an artist - independent, oil paintings predominantly."

 A consistent in her life, a worthwhile outfit for what felt like an infinite amount of rage - to much to vent in any sort of healthy way with the clutch alone. "Have you met any? Vampires, I mean." She motioned around the greater lobby of Vein Drain, though the commentary was directed at the course of his life entirely. "Well, at least that you know of, I suppose."

An artist.

"Ah," Vittorio said, a glint of admiration in his gaze. "Beautiful."

She looked like an oil and canvas sort of artist. A bit old-fashioned in this day and age, but it suited her. While he was hardly well-versed in the history of art himself, Vittorio had an appreciation for it. After all, what was an elegantly designed sports car if not a work of art?

However, the conversation soon turned toward subjects far more engaging than oil paintings.

"None that I was aware of, no." Vittorio shook his head, brows raised in an easy expression. He then gestured casually to the rest of the room. "I thought I might change that by coming here."

Blinded by his own arrogance, Vittorio didn't see the potential for danger—only the heated trysts between customers and entertainers as they disappeared into curtained rooms.

 She considered her options now, the pieces she had - the tools at her disposal and how to best arrange them. There was something to be said for secrecy, yes. But an individual outing themselves in a place like this was of no concern to her, all that mattered was the full picture - the protection of the many as they gathered.

 "Maybe you've met one already." She made no move to order a drink, no effort for that extra measure of caution where her cover was concerned. "I don't know why you'd want to - in a place like this." She motioned to their surroundings, as if he were in some way unaware of them. "Seems like a fine way to end up dead somewhere."

"Maybe." Vittorio wouldn't deny the possibility of it as he took a sip of his drink. After all, vampires were a secretive lot until quite recently.

Margaux then called into question why he would go out of his way to go looking for the undead, kicking up stones in search of them. "I guess living under a rock is barely living at all." The man was hardly a poet or a philosopher; he knew himself well enough not to embellish his reasons for coming here besides good, old-fashioned thrill seeking.

Sure, it could get him killed, but Vittorio was familiar with taking his life into his own hands.

 That was the sort of answer spoken by a man who was very much alive - the sort of words that were hard to chew and bitter to swallow when most of your blood was gone from your body and your bones were broken through and through. While she was ultimately of the belief that it had all been worth it in the end, her own transition and death had been distinctly painful and unpleasant - that much she could recall, no matter the decades long since past. Still, he had ... what? Three decades under his belt?

So sure, in comparison, it seemed fair that his perspective would perhaps be a little ... naive.

 "Would you ever want to be one?" Now there was the question - one who's answer had always been interesting. While it was not a staunch law of nature, frequently the people who answered yes were awful.

Her next question was answered with a genuine chuckle, an amused look spreading across Vittorio's face.

"I don't know." He said earnestly, because who ever really had an answer planned for a question like that? "Maybe, preferably before I passed fifty." Spending the rest of eternity as an old man didn't exactly to him.

Vittorio might not have known much about vampires in reality, but he got the feeling that Stoker and Hollywood had gotten the immortality bit right. Hadn't that one guy from New York said he was somewhere north of seven hundred years old?

It only seemed natural to turn the question back on its maker. "Would you?"

 "Without hesitation." To each their own, but personally she'd never had a moment of deep seeded regret about what she was - never woke up distraught and at a loss. Certainly, the early days when she was learning to control herself, her hunger, her impulses, ... they had been trying. But now? No doubt about it.

 Though credit where it was do, she supposed there was something to be said for his forethought where age was concerned. While she didn't personally waste time pitying folks, she could definitely note the misfortune in the state of, say, Osvald for an eternity. Regardless, this wasn't the ideal party for the deal she was thinking to strike - new to Vein Drain, level headed. Still, she was hungry.

"Say - I have an idea ..."

Well, someone was ballsy. While Vittorio admired the utter lack of hesitation in Margaux’s answer, both in its message and execution, he wasn’t so sure about signing his name anywhere without reading the fine print. Vampirism seemed like one of those things that didn’t come with a refund policy.

With another sip of his admittedly rather Italian beverage, the man arched a brow at her coy suggestion. "Do tell." A smirk soon crept back onto his face.

Suggestion 1 - Success

 She rested her head on her hand, back him her best smile and waited a beat until their eyes met. "Follow me." It was simple, calm, confident as she rose to her feet and motioned for him to follow all the same. There was a temptation there - a thought that scratched at the walls of her self-control and insisted that she should take him outside and dispose of him properly once she had taken her fill. But this was Vein Drain and it was frowned upon behavior, and if nothing else she could do the simple respect of following the rules of her deceased friend and his former establishment.

 Instead she behaved herself, turned to the right just so as she side stepped around tables and moved for one of the unoccupied rooms in the back.

With a smile like that, what man ever said no to her?

Vittorio met Margaux's gaze and nodded to her suggestion. "Lead on." The man set his half-empty glass aside and followed the woman through the throng of club-going youths; Vittorio was well aware that he wasn't exactly a spring chicken like most of those here. From the looks of it, his guide was taking him toward one of the private rooms near the back.

The thought was enough to bring a smirk to his face. Vittorio ran a hand through his hair and fidgeted with the cuffs of his sleeves.

What a night he was in for, it seemed.

 Once he was in the room, she took her time stepping around him and shut the door with a cautious glance back at the heart of Vein Drain. Tucked away in their own little chamber, she turned round and looked back at him, unbuttoning her coat the rest of the way and sliding it off - she tossed it to the side on one of the sectionals and looked him over. One well defined brow arched and she tilted her head, kept things light and left his free will intact for the time being.

 "I'd unbutton that ..." She motioned to his collar and kept her back to the door - it may have looked coy, the point was to block him in. Keeping up the illusion that they were one in the same for the time being as she rubbed at her arms.

Vittorio hadn't shown up with the expectation of having any alone time with anyone he met here, but he wasn't the kind of man to look down his nose at such a fetching woman. Her mysterious nature was alluring, her dark beauty captivating.

"As the lady wishes," he hummed, wearing something of a smitten look as he unbuttoned his collar in a deft, quick motion.

That they were here confirmed one thing—he still had it, baby.

Suggestion 2 - Success

 It really was a pity that she couldn't kill him and be done with the whole thing. The idea made her smile, a warm reception that perhaps seemed to be in response to his polite acceptance of her suggestion as opposed to her own violent impulses. She was quiet, running a hand through her hair as she approached him then, honed in and kept her eyes on his and her voice soft, feminine - gentle.

 "Don't make a sound unless I ask you to speak." She wondered how long, how much time would pass before he realized he was out of his depth.

She smiled, and he smiled back. Her next instruction warranted a momentarily arched brow, but Vittorio didn't question it too deeply. Maybe the woman was one of those dominatrix types. While not exactly his wheelhouse, he was willing to try most things at least once.

With an amused look, Vittorio ran a hand through his hair and studied those icy blue eyes.

The space between them shrank; the man wondered just what she had in mind.

Hopefully there weren't any whips or straps stuffed between the cushions of the room's furniture.

 He still looked smug and pleased with himself, and briefly she wondered how far that particular rope went - how long he ould go before he realized that things weren't quiet in line with his predictions. She listened to the music that filtered throughout the whole bar, considered the idea of this - the slight thrum of excitement from doing something outside of her tried and true routine. She killed when she fed or she used the people kept below Night Vision, this was an exercise in restraint.

 Not because Margaux couldn't control her impulses, but rather because it was infrequent that she made the effort to. But this - this was an unwise location for murder and as such she leaned in closer, avoided contact regardless as she stayed eye to eye with him and flashed a smile at last. There was a darkening of the blue to brown, the lengthening of her upper canines into sharpened points.

 Perhaps there was something to be said for kindness, for a more gentle hand - not in her book. She moved to thread her fingers through his hair, to wretch his head to the side and bite down with a well practiced confidence. The whole set of movements fluid and lasting only a few seconds as she leaned in and bit down, spared no time on proverbial foreplay.

Vittorio was, in fact, rather smug with himself. True to his suspicions, Vein Drain seemed to be one of those kinky strip clubs that attracted a more avant-garde clientele, painted to benefit from the publicity stunt that was the existence of vampires. Margo drew ever closer, a smile on her lips, and Vittorio genuinely anticipated the night ahead. But then his fellow psychic, or so he believed, flashed her eyes from blue to brown and-

Oh shit.

There was a flash of fangs.

Eyes wide at the revelation, Vittorio was powerless as she struck with the lightning quickness of a coiled serpent, grabbing a fistful of his hair to jerk his head aside. There was a pinch in the side of his neck not unlike the bite of a syringe, but then—nothing. An achy numbness spread across his neck as the vampire did what vampires were known for.

His voice was trapped in his throat, not that he had any idea what to say except maybe a string of Italian profanities.

Vittorio realized how much of a dumbass he was.

He raised his hands on impulse, that instinctual need to push away the predator attached to his throat like a leech or a lion, but he stopped himself. He dare not lay a hand on and piss off the thing that could so easily rip out his jugular like loose stitching from a coat.

 She felt the shift in him as he moved as if he had intentions to try to shove her away - she growled, held on tighter with little concern about harming him in the process. The lack of consideration wasn't a lack of capability - rather, it was a choice ... a general electric thrum of happiness birthed from letting go of expectations and civilization and simply being. She could tear into him, she could let herself turn, could dig the sharp points of her nails into flesh and revel in it, the knowledge that she knew at any given point.

They were superior, the rest where either resources or animals.

 But she steadied the murderous impulses, capable and in control of her own bloodlust enough to know where they were and the importance of not making waves. Instead she had her fill, slowed and eventually stopped only as the steady tattoo of his heartbeat started to slow enough to count for a notable difference from the excited arrogance that had been rolling off of him only moments prior.

 Margaux kept her hold, lapped once and then twice at the puncture wounds left behind from her fangs and smiled against the flesh as it knitted shut as if nothing had happened at all. Roughly she shoved him back, wiped at the very corners of her lips with her thumb and grinned - it was her that was smug now.

"Come on, don't be so scared - I'm one of the nice ones."

What was the lesson to be learned here?

Think with your brain, genius.

The growl resonating in Vittorio’s ear confirm his suspicion that it would be wise not to struggle and merely hope that she didn’t tear him to bits like a pit bull with a ragdoll in its jaws. Despite the chilling numbness permeating from the bite, there was a certain lightheadedness that the man attributed to his dwindling blood supply.

Like a flu vaccination, however, the experience came to an end remarkably, comically quickly. If anything, having his lovely hair pulled and being shoved back once she was done hurt more than the bite itself.

The hurt his ego felt notwithstanding.

Arching a brow at the smug look on Margo’s face, Vittorio quickly reached up to probe where she had latched onto his neck. There was no pain, no blood on his fingertips. It was as though the past five seconds had never happened.


A myriad of questions rioted through his head, but the man didn’t know where to start.

"This won’t be sore in the morning, will it?"

Suggestion 3 - Success

 While he was stupid enough to think that he had been invited to the back so that she might feel him up - credit where credit was due, he was at least smart enough not to act tough. Powers or not, she was sated and strong in the realm of Vampire even when she wasn't ... it was wise not to go around poking that particular bear. She was quiet, watching him from the corner of her eye as she went to grab her jacket and brush it off. The warm and fuzzy high that came with psychic blood, taking hold and growing her patience by a hair - long enough that she at least entertained his questions.

 "It'll be as if it never happened at all." Calm as she looked at him - stared him down and took on that familiar tone. "When I leave this room, you won't remember a single thing about the past hour, it'll be completely gone from your memory."

As if it had never happened.

Vittorio lifted his brows, a ponderous expression on his face as he idly rubbed his neck. Well, at least he wouldn't have to worry about concealing a vampiric hickey with scarves and shit.

Her next words, despite their clarity, were difficult to digest.

"Pity." A touch skeptical, a touch crestfallen, Vittorio wasn't sure how to take her assurance. His ego didn't take very kindly to being used and tossed aside like a low-rate prostitute. "I'll miss that pretty face." A touch a sarcasm to help ease the mindfuck he was given.

He then went about buttoning his collar back, wondering if her alleged memory-erasing ability was unique to her or common among the undead.

 Her eyes darkened from blue to a deep brown that bordered on black, her shoulders tensed and her mouth fell into a familiar hard line. "If I was you? I'd watch my fucking tone." Advice that sounded decidedly like it was more than just someone's passing words of wisdom. "Otherwise you might end up seeing it again." The threat was transparent, hand lingering on the handle of the door once she slipped into her jacket and smoothed out her clothes.

 "I'd recommend going somewhere a little less violent to pick people up in the future ... dumb ass." Opening the door and stepping out without pause - not the night she had planned for herself, but an acceptable one all the same.

Vittorio raised his hands, palms facing outward—a harmless gesture in the face of unnecessary threats.


He let her go without another word, rolling his eyes once her back was safely turned. Idly wondering if all vampires were so sensitive-


Vittorio blinked, looking around the room. Where the hell was he?

It was dark, dank, and smelled faintly of sex. All the clues hinted at a strip club, but what was he doing in a strip club by himself? Where were the women?

Feeling a touch lightheaded, Vittorio peeked out the door after a minute or two of waiting to see if anyone might show up, and his suspicions about the establishment seemed to hold up.

Christ, was this him getting old, forgetting where he was? Vittorio shook his head. He must have had too much to drink, but he didn't feel drunk. His next suspicion was having been served a drink that was spiked with something, but the man checked his pockets and found everything was at it should be—keys, wallet, phone.

Fiddling with his keys with the worry that he was indeed having a middle-aged moment, Vittorio slipped out of the private room and mingled into the crowd near the front, not really finding the clientele to be his preference, and eventually made his way out into the night.

Driving probably wasn't the best idea in his state of mind, but Vittorio didn't see much point in sticking around this edgy joint. Maybe the comfort and familiarity of his car would settle him down, help clear his head.

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