Flesh covered blood and bones, prattling nonsense and unaware at what lay just behind him, yet she did not feel the stir of hunger. In the old days of her youth, she might have leapt and taken him by the throat, lifting his sweaty neck filled with thick warm blood and holding him up high for examination. No predator, true predator at any rate, would eat too fast - too quickly. Savour the moment and let the taste of fine aged blood pass through her mouth to her throat to her dead stomach and stay there for ever after, filling her taste buds with the long forgotten taste of pain. Pain at her teeth sinking into his neck, tearing through fragile skin - as human skin is always too weak - and then…nothing. Or perhaps nothing.
Darla did wonder where humans go when they die. They do have souls, and since souls were supposedly oh so everlasting, it must mean that they went somewhere. Her kind crumbled to dust at the instance of finality, returning to the nothing that they came from - almost as if their existence (as empty as it had been on Earth) would be as empty and as void in death. But death is the birth of a vampire, already an afterlife. What, then, came after?
The human paced around hurriedly, and threw her a curious look as she lay on the soft cushion of a couch, in a place with the bright lights and many human things she cared not to acknowledge. He was not tall, but he looked young and fresh, although slightly guarded. Darla stared, not for any particular reason, but only because she saw nothing else in this light-infested cage for any means of escape. Not that she could either, since she felt weak and utterly immobile. Her pale limbs barely able to lift, let alone do anything daring.
"Are you okay? You need anything? Water? Food?" The human spoke softly, almost in a tenderness that she had not heard from anyone in centuries past - not in her lifetime. But the images were jumbled and all she knew was of hunting - hunting in the night starry sky with a dark haired man and the fill of terror rushing down her throat from the choked agony of her victims when they gurgled in death. Once they've been sated, they would go look for amusement and it always varied. There were different images and different colours and more voices. Darla cannot remember.
But food, she understood. She knew what food was. The human was ever so kind to offer, even if she'd rather prefer a quick chase. She forced herself to extend an arm to him, a weak and heavy arm. It was a gesture, a signal and she was impatient for him to comply. Humans had their place in the Old World once, as she had been told many winters ago, in that disarray of memories in her head - hairless man (sire) sitting with her by the fire and teaching her the history of the 'Old Ones' as the purest of demons had once been called, humans bowed down at their feet and worshipped them as deities and soon they will do so once more. Her mouth opened, encouraged by the memory and the feeling, to bid him come and let her feed.
Her throat strained, voice hoarse. "Come. Here."
Instead of the promised subservience, there was only confusion that followed from the order and Darla felt the tiny pinprick of irritation from it. It was already a taxing amount of effort to have to call out to him. She spoke again. "Human, I must…feed. Quickly."
His eyes widened and he shook his head. "Darla, listen, there are some things that you need to know first before..."
Her eyes felt heavy under the glare of the bright lights, but she heard his words and frowned. Was it supposed to be like this? She thought the human would know what was expected of him. It was what she had been taught before, what she remembered in the early days. She didn't answer him, but instead looked directly at the source of the nearly-blinding light and immediately shut her eyes.
"The light. It hurts." I will burn, but she didn't say it out loud. She knew light was an anathema to her kind, not privilege or sustenance - nothing warm, just shelter for prey until it fizzled out and left the sky in darkness.
"Oh, of course. I'll turn it all off for you." The man leapt into action, walking to the other end of the cage and it all dimmed into darkness, but it was black darkness. Pitch black. She was unable to see anything, and so she panicked inwardly. Did the human do something? Poison her? They had brought her here earlier, and she had been too weak to fight them off. Too weak. No blood. What was in this cage? She needed to see.
A sharp rapping sound distracted her from the panic, making her want to move her head to see what it was but far too weak to do so. She heard the rustling of footsteps and the voices, more humans it seemed like. Darla wondered how long they were going to keep her here in this state? Her mind was racing, thoughts flitting from one to the next, still as a statue and deprived of her senses. It made her stomach churn.
"Hello, Darla." The unfamiliar voice was suddenly beside her, it had sounded so clear and so loud that she quickly turned her head towards it.
There was an outline in the darkness that told her he was standing above her. Far too close if the sound of his voice had been any indication earlier. She made no reply to his greeting, too busy trying to get a clear look of him. She truly hated this sense of powerlessness, the waiting for that urgent need for blood (though she knew she would have to feed soon), and this human standing above her like a master vampire waiting for a new childe to rise.
"I know this all must be so very confusing for you, and we will explain everything after you've had your rest. I'm sure you're tired from your trip." This man spoke so smoothly with that touch of softness that could be mistaken for nicety, it reminded her of the nobles that she used to pander to before she'd been saved from the whore's life that now had nothing to do with her. Darla hated him instantly.
"Tell me now." She grimaced in an effort to sit up, her muscles ached from the movement but she hardly cared. He wasn't leaving her here in darkness with the answers that she sought. Things were coming by so fast to her and she could not think, she felt a little lightheaded.
"I don't think that's for the best right now, you need to rest. We will talk tomorrow." The human had casually dismissed her demand, but she was damned if she was going to stay for a night in here.
"No, tell me." She rasped, the itchy feeling to her throat growing a bit worse.
"Tomorrow, Darla." There was a firmness to his tone that wasn't present before, growing softer afterwards. "Get some rest and we will give you your answers."
She clenched her jaw and slowly nodded, vowing to herself that once she had fed and gained her strength, this human would be the first to die. Die painfully and pathetically like so many others.
This time she could see their faces in the dimmed room. Each and every one of them stared at her in cold fascination as if she were a china display they were admiring from behind a glass case. Darla had grown used to it by then, when she'd learnt the awful truth of what she had been reduced to early dawn. The first time she heard it, she attacked the brown-haired woman (Lilah) with the steely gaze and the perpetual smirk that she wished she could wipe off many a time during their little 'meeting'. It had been a desperate attempt to prove to them that she did not believe any of their lies, that Darla was far beyond that - had grown beyond that - pathetic existence she only remembered in bits and pieces. Most of them in her death bed and others in excruciating agony.
She waited for it to emerge, the sharp teeth and her features distorted to the pronounced bumps of her brows, but there had been nothing. She'd remained the same. Human. She was human, weak, aging, breathing. She can still feel the fatigue and the aching. The awful sensation of the thudding beating in her chest that she could not recognize before now made itself more aware than ever, washing her ears with the sound of life until she wished she could rip it out of her own chest. After her little outburst, they thought it best to confine her by handcuffing her to a chair, as a 'regretful precautionary measure' the way Holland Manners (as the man introduced himself as) put it. Now the woman was holding an ice bag to her swollen cheek, a little ruffled from the skirmish earlier but still the very picture of ice.
"You do understand, don't you?" Holland looked apologetic. She would have scoffed at him for the overreaction but she was now more composed than that, instead she nodded.
"Good, good." Holland smiled before walking up to her and stopping a good distance away from the chair. Darla noticed this and fought the urge to laugh, she'd forgotten how easy it was to rile humans up.
"Why am I here?" She asked him, finally able to voice the question that had been plaguing her mind since that night.
"Well, you certainly get right down to business." He smiled amusedly, hands behind his back and those awful eyes of his searing into her without fear, as if he'd never held the knowledge of what she had been and the things she'd done. The part that lashed at her most? He did know. He knew and she couldn't do anything. "I like seeing that in people."
"You're stalling." She was certainly impatient, had no time for puppetry at all, for she had no doubt that it was what he was doing. She spotted it the moment he spoke to her as she lay on the couch, barely able to comprehend her surroundings.
"You're here, Darla, because we believe that you may be able to…help us in a little project that we're doing." Holland showed no signs of being affected by her agitated mood, never once faltering in the smile he was showing her. Darla wanted to crush his neck.
She tilted her head, "What project?"
"Angel, of course. Do you remember him?" He asked her, gentler and calmer and more menacing than he'd ever managed to be in all of the time that she's ever spent in his presence.
The name tickled at her brain, many of these images still a blur and fast-paced coming at her like light speed. Angel Angel Angel…she was shaking her head with her closed eyes and shifted back further into her seat.
"That's a shame but it will come to you in time, you don't need to remember much of anything right now." He tried to reassure her, but then continued. "Angel is, unfortunately, the one that put you into the position that you're in right now."
"That's funny. It doesn't seem like he was the one who handcuffed me to this chair." She spat out bitterly, tugging at her chain just a little bit to emphasize her point.
"No, he wasn't." He nodded to agree with her, and instead of the calming effect it had it infuriated her all the more. "But I meant in a much larger scale."
She gave him a pointed look to go on. She hated these vague little statements he was making. Why couldn't he just get to the point?
"He means that Angel killed you and we brought you back." The dark haired man, Lindsey, spoke up for the first time since her confinement in the chair. That statement earned him all three stares, and he gave each single one a glance but not before setting his eyes on Holland's and giving him a shrug. Darla could see the woman preening from smug satisfaction, perhaps at seeing her co-worker reprimanded by higher authority or perhaps she was only glad to witness humiliation not her own. Either way, she was still unbearable.
"Now, Lindsey, you know full well that Darla is still not prepared to hear that kind of information. She's only been here for a day." He turned to face her, slightly leaning but not before plastering a concerned look. "I apologize for that. Mr. McDonald sometimes has unfortunate timing."
Killed? What? There was tension in her stomach, like a swarm of little flies all creeping up inside her stomach, infecting her with the tiny bit of nausea she was currently experiencing at hearing what had been said. She could not remember an Angel, but the name sounded like it was something more. Something that thrilled and angered. He killed her? How? How?
The silence from her pervaded the room. Heavy and cursed. It weighed her down, down on her chest and all the way to these wretched lungs that forced air in and out of her.
"This…Angel." The name slipped from her, but it felt like metal iron on her tongue. Not at all like the familiar metallic tinge of blood she feasted on so long ago, but the weight of it; strong and unbreakable. This meant something to her, but if that was a good or bad thing she didn't know. She hoped neither. "What was he to me?
"Ah, Angel is your childe, you sired him more than two hundred years ago in Ireland." Holland answered her, skipping not a beat as he studied her in her quiet unravelling in that chair.
Nothing from her. Nothing that followed from what he'd revealed to her, and though she could have told him - told all of them - that she did not believe them and that the only times she ever remembered clearly (or could remember) was of moments with her Master in a cavern alight with torches and others of her own kind. Him teaching her, sharing legends, gifts. She couldn't. She knew this name somehow, but there were too many. Too many memories.
"I know that this is all too much right now. If you need a moment to collect yourself, we can continue at a more convenient time." His hands gestured as he spoke, which was only a few moments after Darla had gone silent.
"Yes, that would be…fine." She swallowed.
Before he left, Holland lingered by the half-opened doorway, and from outside she could see blue uniformed security talking to his two other associates. "We do hope that, in the mean time, you will consider what we have to offer."
He stepped outside and shut the door, leaving her in the darkened space of the room, they must have gathered to reconvene and (she certainly had no doubt) to discuss their plans with her. She did not fail to register that they left her in the room still attached to the chair, and she was sure there were a few of those security guards milling just outside her door. She knew if she demanded an explanation, he'd somehow make it look as if they were doing her a favour, chains and all.
What a great blow it had been; to have been brought back to nothing and been made nothing in return. Was this continued punishment for escaping tortures unknown in the place she had been? Her tiny hell in a place she despised even as a vampire? As for this Angel, her so-called slayer, what was it about him that affected her in so torrid a way? There were no answers yet. She'd find out. Soon. She always did. Darla always knew how to unweave the knots that tied her.