Deja Vu


by Feena Patel
1310442607|%e %b %Y, %H:%M %Z|agohover (updated 1310442938|%e %b %Y, %H:%M %Z|agohover) | 0 comment(s)

It’s been a long night in the A&E, but I guess that goes without saying. When isn’t it a long night in the A&E? Or a long day? A quiet day in the A&E is a good thing, but people are clumsy and stupid and karma is a right bitch, so slow days are few and far between.

Which is why it’s really no surprise that it’s after ten, when my shift ended at seven, and I’m sitting at the bar in a nearby pub having a drink. I’m still wired and high on adrenaline, the charge that comes from wrestling with fate and holding someone’s hand or drawing them back from the edge is still coursing through my veins and I could hardly sleep if I went home and tried. Doesn’t matter much that I’ll be have to be back bright and early at seven; better to have a drink surrounded by people than a glass of wine alone in my flat.

That would be pathetic.

All right, yeah, maybe having a drink alone in a pub is a bit pathetic too, but at least here I can pretend that I’m waiting for a colleague. Hell, if I wait long enough, one might even show up.

Barring that, there’s always people watching.

It’s fun, in a morbid sort of way, watching people go about their daily lives and knowing just how close any one of them could be to ending up in my A&E in the blink of an eye. Like that couple over there, older than me and dressed like they still think they’re twenty. They’re also having a snog like they still think they’re twenty. Not married, so this isn’t a nostalgic escape from the kids, just a pair trying to recapture their misspent youth. Heart attack, stroke, tumble down the stairs waiting to happen.

The group of young men at the end of the bar, throwing back shots loudly. One looks like a surfer wanna be, the other is going for grunge and the rest fall somewhere in the middle. If they’re not walking, then it’s a DUI waiting to happen; if they’re lucky enough to survive the impact. If they keep going like that, then there’s always alcohol poisoning. Last but not least, we can’t forget the overwhelming stupidity of drunken young men (and women) and the possibility that Mother Nature will just spring up and cleanse the gene pool.

The cute, young couple down the bar. She’s a perky brunette with absolute stars in her eyes, giggling at everything the good-looking dark haired bloke says, and rubbing so obviously against him that one wonders why she doesn’t just start humping his leg. He’s suave, sophisticated and every gesture is just so practiced that a person would have to be blind to not know that he’s out on a pull. Well, blind or a young twenty-something. That one is all about an STD and a broken heart, maybe an unwanted pregnancy. Nothing for A&E but there’s always a vehicular accident.

All right. Wow. I am morbid tonight. Maybe drinking wasn’t such a good idea.

I signal the bar tender to pay for my drink and glance over in the mirror behind the bar. The handsome bloke looks up at the same time and -

Cor freaking blimey. Bloody hell.

I know that face. I know those eyes. It’s been almost twenty years and he hasn’t changed a bit.

But he wouldn’t. Frozen forever young and handsome. Gorgeous. Hot. At least I have better idea of why the little cute bit by his side was trying to re-write the laws of physics and share his physical space.

It’s possible that I’ve changed, though, right? I’ve matured and grown up. Just enough that he won’t recognize me because he can’t have been watching me all these years, yeah? What’s one young reckless besotted witch in the scheme of -

A slow, lazy drawl turns up the corners of his mouth in the reflection and he raises his glass of amber liquid in what could be either a toast or a salute.

Or a “let the games begin” challenge.

Shit.

I’m half tempted to just throw my cash on the bar top and run for the door like the devil is following me. It wouldn’t be a wrong description either, even if he doesn’t follow me. My wallet is open and I’m pulling out the cash before I’ve fully realized that I’m doing it. It’s gotten the ‘tender’s attention and he’s finally wandering back this way … but He’s smirking at me in the reflection with that bloody shit-eating grin -

I’m not twenty anymore.

I slap my money down on the bar, also a good sized tip and toss back the rest of my drink. I am walking home, or taking the tube, so no drunken auto accidents for me. Also, the one amaretto sour isn’t enough to put me that deep in my cups. Have to wonder though if it’s enough to make me say something stupid and challenge a son-of-a-bitch-devil-in-disguise vampire.

I dismount and touch my fingers to the charm at my throat, the one on my wrist. I haven’t seen or talked to a vampire in years - that I know of he was ever the only one - but it doesn’t mean that I’m not once bitten and twice shy. Literally and figuratively on the bitten part.

The little twittering bit has vanished, which is good because it means I can speak frankly. Sliding up on the stool one over from his, I’m not feeling like living that dangerously even if we are in public, I peer at him in the mirror. Safer and wiser than looking directly in his eyes even with the charm.

“Kieran.” I cross my legs, and then one arm over the other on top of the bar. I know body language and mine is falsely unguarded. It’s only body language and a poor front when my heart is pounding and my palms are starting to sweat, and I know he can hear my heart and is sensitive to my every physiological reaction. “I didn’t know you were back in London.”

He tilts his head a bit, gazing at me with those eyes. Those damned haunting blue eyes that are deceptively clear and playful right now. I know better. “Feena,” he drawls, making my name sound like it’s some sort of new, dirty sex act, “I didn’t know you were keeping tabs on me.”

“I’m not.” I try hard not to react, not outwardly to his words, to his tone, to whatever it is that I know he’s doing because he does it so well. “I’m making small talk. It’s polite.”

“Really?” Kieran takes another drink and returns his glass to the napkin coaster on the bar, long fingers tapping against the side. “I think that we are quite beyond small talk.”

I’m really too old to play his games. Too old, too tired. I turn enough to glance at him and then float my gaze somewhere just above his right eyebrow. “You were surprised to see me.” It’s not a question, but it’s not anywhere certain. It’s a guess, a stab in the dark.

Hope that I will cling to like a life preserver in a storm tossed sea.

“I was,” Kieran admits, and he’s gone from that disarmingly charming lewdness that only he can manage to something more . . professional? Polite? “I haven’t been keeping tabs on you either.”

“You haven’t?” I hate that my voice almost squeaks, that the hope that I’m clinging to bleeds out in my words.

“No, Feena. I haven’t.” The handsome vampire laughs, giving his head a faint shake. “I do have a life.”

I bite my cheek to avoid the obvious retort to that suggestion. My eyes meet his briefly and I don’t realize that I’ve pressed my thumb to the charm on my wrist until it starts to hurt. I glance down, immediately jerk my hand away and smooth my sweaty palms against my trouser legs.

“You do realize that if it’s not spelled properly, all I need to do is rip it off of your wrist?” The words are smoothly spoken, deceptively sweet and friendly. He could be complimenting me or plying me with lover’s prose for all the softness of the tone.

Which really is all the reminder needed - if a reminder was needed - of what he is and the unfinished history between us.

I hop off the stool, on the other side, putting as much distance between us as possible. “I think we’re done here. I really wasn’t looking for a reunion any way.”

The smile is chilling. It’s not evil. It’s not malevolent. It’s not even the slightest bit threatening. It’s light and playful, teasingly broad and shows his dimples and makes his eyes crinkle in the corners. Yet, it makes me want to run home and lock the doors and board up the windows.

Kieran lifts his glass to me again, “But it has been a pleasure.”

I’m not sure what to say to that. “Right.” Which is ridiculous and means nothing, but I’m not exactly stupid. I don’t believe for one moment that Kieran has forgotten the past. I blink at him in the reflection and turn to go my way. My back stiffens with tension as I bare my back to him, but unless something has changed, attacking in public isn’t really Kieran’s way.

“Oh, and Feena?” Kieran calls after me. “I haven’t forgotten that you owe me.” He pauses and takes a drink. When he lowers the glass, he regards me with that tilting of his head that’s far more animal than human, that screams predator on the most instinctive level. “Just because I haven’t been keeping tabs doesn’t mean that I don’t have many, many means of finding you.”

I nod, because really there’s nothing else for me to do. I’d be stupid to challenge him or provoke him, and he’s only acknowledging what I already know. Still, I do stop and look back at him, “Suppose that means that I’ll see you around, then?”

“Probably. Eventually.” The vampire’s attention shifts and he turns a bit, flashing a smile at the petite brunette bouncing back toward him.

I’m frozen for a moment, because I want to do something. It’s foolish really when there’s not a bleeding thing I can do for the naive little chit that won’t earn me Kieran’s ire. We may have a detente, but I’m not stupid enough to rock the boat. If the girl is lucky she’ll be his favorite trinket for a while; if she’s unlucky she’ll be a meal and only remember having the shag of her life. Then again, maybe the former and the latter should be reversed.

Swallowing hard, I leave the pub as quickly as I can without running the whole way.

When I get home, I don’t breathe easy until the doors are locked. I knew that one day the past would come back and bite me on the arse; I’m just glad I was a lot braver than I thought I would be facing it.

The crossbow propped up next to my bed when I finally go to sleep has nothing to do with it.


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