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Once a Vampire, Always

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Star lives in a world without vampires.

It is also a world without Laddie, without Michael, without anyone she knew in that dark time. She stayed for awhile, watched as the Emersons rebuilt their home and their little family, but the wind carried the sound of vampires and the ocean was dark and cold and terrifying.

Laddie was safer with the others, she told herself. Lucy -- Mrs. Emerson -- was trying to find his parents, and he should be with them, not with some broken half-woman who wasn't sure she remembered how to be human.

When she left, fleeing into sunrise, she kissed his forehead while he slept, and prayed he wouldn't wake until she was gone.

Her days have patterns. She goes for a walk as soon as the sun clears the treetops. She works all day in an office, and stops for dinner at her favorite little hole in the wall restaurant. The staff recognizes her, and lets her sit on the patio even though they normally reserve that space for big groups in order to keep the noise down. She tries to order different things each time, but sometimes she's on edge and all she wants is comfort food.

The shortest way home goes past a video store and a comic book shop. She takes the long way to avoid them, even when the days are shorter and she has to nearly run to stay on time. Each night before bed she memorizes the time of sunrise and sunset, and she's always home before dark.

Sometimes, when it rains and the sky goes gray, she can't get out of bed, not even to close the curtains. She's too afraid that she'll see something waiting just outside the glass. It's terrifying to look; it's terrifying to look away.

Star lives in a world without vampires right up until one moves in next door.


The woman does not fit into Star's new world, and not just because she is a vampire. Star isn't certain of that at first. In the beginning, all she knows is that the woman next door wears sleek leather coats and catsuits and is unbelievably beautiful and completely out of place. She's a shadow, an oil slick, the feathers of a dead raven -- things which are not supposed to be so enticing, but Star cannot look away.

The first time Star ends up near her on the sidewalk, both of them heading up to their buildings, everything changes.

"Hey!" There is a guy standing near the street, a hat pulled so low over his forehead Star can't see his face. "Selene!"

The woman turns, and the wind catches and carries her scent, her taste, to Star. It doesn't matter what her mind tells her -- that it is daylight, and the woman walks in the sun -- she knows the truth.

Vampire, her mind screams and she freezes, quivers, perfect bait.

"Get down." Selene's voice is low and rough. She grabs Star's arm and jerks her backward, away from the street, away from the man with the hat. Away from the sun and into the darkness and Star would scream except when she starts she strangles on the noise.

She is riding the carousel again and David is there, reaching for her with his gloved hands, leather on her arm, bruises under her flesh, and his mouth and his blood and the way his coat moves against her legs as if it is alive.

There is no David. There is no carousel, no Santa Carla, no Lost Boys.

Selene reloads her gun, and peeks out the window. Star's shoulder throbs, and her shirt is sticky with blood. She has been shot, she thinks, and immediately it hurts, a burn which slips through her veins.

There's someone else in the room, and Star closes her eyes. She's going to die, or she's going to live, and there seems to be little she can do either way. If there is fate, vampires seem to be hers.

There's a gunfight. The neighbors will notice. Or perhaps they won't. They never noticed the vampire in their midst. They never noticed the former vampire who wasn't quite right.


When she wakes, her wound is bandaged and there are no fang marks in her throat. She checks, presses her fingers to her skin, and her touch is cold, but she is alive. Her heart beats. She can taste no blood on her tongue.

Selene sits across the room from her, reloading her guns. There is a man at the window, watching the street.

"We have to move," he says, and checks again. "Now that they've found us."

"I know." Her voice is calm, cool and accented. She continues to load the guns, movements steady. She is by far the most collected vampire Star has ever seen, colder even than David. With David, there was a hunger in his eyes -- once she had thought it was for her, and then assumed it was for blood, but really it had been for power.

Of course, it had been his downfall, so perhaps it is better Selene is cold.

Star realizes she should want Selene's downfall. She touches her throat again, and sits up.

"What are you? You don't smell right."

The man moves from the window so fast she can't follow him. He is at the wall, and then he is in front of her, looming even while he kneels. He doesn't smell right either; he smells like nothing she has ever smelled before, part animal, part vampire, part something dark and deep.

Star shakes her head. How can she answer that? She is no longer sure of the truth herself. "I was a vampire once," she says, and knows it isn't enough.


"Michael." Selene stands and puts away her guns. "You will say something is impossible?"

For whatever reason, that makes him pull back.

"You might help." Selene doesn't walk closer. She doesn't even lean forward, but Star can feel her presence closing in. "The lines between the species have become -- blurred. You were a vampire once. We could use you."

Star looks at her hips and her lips and her leather and her guns. She has a safe life devoid of touch but she dares not let anyone too close. She is human, but she cannot forget.

"We have to leave." Michael checks the window again.

Selene nods, and then moves to Star, touches her bare arm. She is a vampire, and Star should fear her. She does fear her, but it is tinged with memories of bottled blood and take-out food and the way it felt to fly. She can almost hear motorcycles revving in the background.

She can almost taste the blood.

Star should say no, and return to her humanity and her safety. This is fate, she thinks, and touches Selene's hand. This is fate, and I was a monster, and maybe I will help save the world.