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if not for the color of fire


Written for twilight_t00bs on Livejournal.

1. if not for the color of fire

Rating 4.5/5   Word Count 1142   Review this Chapter

It’s her sister’s birthday in a few days, and Bree still hasn’t bought anything. As she browses through a kid’s toy store, she immediately finds the perfect gift. It’s a bit expensive, but the resolute expression on the girl’s face shows that it’s worth it.

She steps outside and starts walking, a breeze blowing her vibrant red hair away from her face. Her feet take her through the shopping district of Seattle, past respectably middle-class homes. (What she wouldn’t give to live in one of them.) Soon the streets grow darker and the corners more populated with lounging, dirty men. She hurries faster, hoping to not be noticed. Head ducked, eyes downcast, she shelters her present in her arms.

Suddenly she collides with something and drops her package. It’s rock-hard, like a stone wall, and so she’s completely disoriented when she looks up and finds herself staring at the most beautiful person she’s ever seen. He’s smiling at her – at her – with perfectly white teeth. His jaw line is smooth and strong, and she has to fight the urge to run her palm across his cheek. Then she’s startled by the color of his eyes: they’re completely black, with only the slightest hint of burgundy around the edges.

“Hello,” he says, and his voice is soft and beautiful. “I’m Riley.”

x x x

Riley is on a mission: to find another potential vampire to join his and Victoria’s coven.

His and Victoria’s? What a joke, he thinks, giving a humorless chuckle. It’s all hers – everything all of it… even me. And I do what she wants, because I think I love her.

He knows, somewhere within himself, that Victoria doesn’t love him. But what is the purpose of life if that’s the truth? So he presses that traitorous thought down, deep down, so that he doesn’t have to see it again.

A flash of red hair in the darkness of the night instantly grabs his attention: why would Victoria be here, when he knows she’s in the nearby wilderness, talking to their coven? Was she checking up on him?

In a few seconds, he finds the source: a small girl struggling with a large shopping bag. She looks out of place in this neighborhood – and scared. Then her scent catches up to him and his mind goes blank of all thought. His rationality is replaced by instinct, and although it doesn’t communicate in words he can hear his animalistic side telling him, Kill her, she’s perfect, who else to choose for the last of the coven than a redhead?

His pupils dilate as he tries to keep his thirst under control. He’s had a bit more practice at this than when he first started: after all, he’s changed about twenty vampires already. (The unsuccessful ones don’t count.)

He lets her run into him – it’s the easiest way to initiate physical contact, after all. She’s dazed when she sees him, and, surprisingly, so is he. It’s not just the bloodlust, although that’s certainly a large part of it. Her proximity makes her scent stronger than ever, and he knows he’s going to lose control any minute now.

Damn, he thinks. I thought we were over this.

But he introduces himself and, as quickly as possible, drags her into a dark alley. Her screams are muffled by his mouth on hers – because this is, of course, the best time to enjoy such things.

x x x

When she wakes, the first thing she feels is smooth, cold lips on hers. She kisses the person back, suddenly hungry for human contact. Her breath echoes through the alley and she wants more.

She pulls back for a moment to listen to her brain. (It’s been overridden by her instincts and her urges and she’s only sparing a second to listen to its demand: Find out who you’re kissing, first.) She’s not surprised to see Riley’s beautiful face staring back at her.

“Was it a dream?” she whispers, and he grins.

“Your worst nightmare.”

She doesn’t want to find out why she’s been in so much pain for the last eternity – at least, not yet. She just wants to kiss that beautiful face with its eyes a bright red, now. She pulls him down on top of her again and kisses him and he’s laughing, whether in pleasure or irony she can’t tell.

His hand slides up her shirt and this time it’s she who’s laughing.

“Tell me everything,” she says.

x x x

His eyes are always drawn to her, and that scares him.

In a crowd or in the wilderness, it doesn’t matter because whenever he sees that red hair he snaps to attention.

It’s because she reminds me of Victoria, he repeats, over and over in the only privacy left to him: his mind.

And when Victoria calls him to her one night, he keeps telling himself to be excited, to be happy.

“Riley,” Victoria simpers in her high, girlish voice, “I missed you.” She glides closer and kisses his neck, wrapping her arms around his shoulders. There’s nothing for him to do but stand there, enduring.

“What’s wrong?” she asks, detaching herself from his body just long enough to be able to speak. He looks down at her and forces a smile.

“Nothing, my love.”

“Well, good,” she says, sounding like a satisfied cat. “I’d hate to think there was another woman in your life.” She glances up coyly at him as she says this.

“Of course not,” he says, but he can’t manage anything more than a whisper.

x x x

She hears rumors, and she doesn’t know what to believe anymore.

“Promise me,” she whispers fiercely, “promise me you won’t get yourself killed.” Her hands are knotted through his collar, pulling his face close to hers. “I’m serious.”

He smiles and leans down, catching her lips with his.

“I promise,” he says seriously, though his eyes are glinting with laughter.

The next time she learns anything about him, she’s sitting in the clearing, senses full of the smell of human blood. She’s screaming in the agony of resisting her bloodlust and so it takes a moment for her to recognize another scent in the air.

It’s Riley.

She screams again, desperately, crying out for him to come back. For a moment she thinks he’s there, in the clearing, and this coupled with the struggle to resist biting the human makes her hysterical.

Then, she knows.

The vampire with the bronze hair snaps to attention, looking straight at her, almost as if he can hear what she’s thinking. It’s him – he’s the one with Riley’s scent all over him – he’s the one that killed her only love.

You bastard, she thinks fiercely, and behind that stony-eyed gaze she can sense a crooked smile.