Warning

Jul. 13th, 2013 01:14 pm
sunbaked_baker: (blazing unsure)
[personal profile] sunbaked_baker
"There won't be any cinnamon rolls for a while, you know?"

Pat had been waiting for Rae when she got to the coffeehouse that morning, the uniformed SOF leaning back against the wall beside the door in the half-dark, with his arms crossed. Sunshine felt his nonchalance couldn't be more obviously calculated if he had been wearing sunglasses and idly smoking.

"Wanted to beat the rush," he remarked just as lightly, straightening. He must have been waiting there a while, because Sunshine could see just how stiff his movements were.

"Congratulations, Pat," Rae sighed, stepping up to the door to unlock it. Something had come up, and he was going to ask her for help. "You won that race."

"Can I come in?"

The tone behind the seemingly innocuous question made her glance at him. There was more than mere fatigue in the blue-edged shadows on his face and hands. She knew he hadn't just decided to show up at four-thirty on a whim; of course it was serious - the question was outright unnecessary - but usually they could keep the illusion up longer than a few minutes.

"Sure," Rae answered, her tone keeping its lightness even if her face gave away the lie. "I'll get the alarm."


Pat was like a large, khaki ghost following her into the dark bakery. Rae idly ruffled her fingers against the tiny wards strung above the door as she passed, feeling the slight ping! against her fingers that told her they were still live and paying attention. Turning the lights on was a moment of pain to her benighted eyes - it's a step she often skipped until closer to the time when Charlie would come in, but her comfort with working in the dark was not something she wanted to bring to Pat's attention.

Blinking hard to clear her sight, Rae went to the ovens, where the cinnamon roll dough she'd made the night before was waiting for her, huge and soft and ready. Mostly ignoring Pat's presence on the stool in the corner, Rae resolutely went about her morning routine of getting things ready for the start of the day, letting the silence between them thicken until it was like being drowned in soup. She could feel his gaze like a weight against the back of her head.

Finally, when the first batch of cinnamon rolls was baking and she was measuring out lemon-mint muffin batter into the first of many muffin tins, she ventured, "You didn't come here for cinnamon rolls, Pat."

"No."

Rae had heard Nos like that before. The You're not going to like this was understood.

"Have you seen anything unusual lately, when you've been... out?"

Incredulity moved into her tone before she could stop it. The light banter of earlier was dead. "What are you even counting as unusual?" The whole situation was completely unorthodox.

"Ken Thibodeau and Theo came across four suckers the night before last in Oldroy Park."

Rae's eyes found him, found his shadows, before he'd even finished speaking. Though his shadows showed extreme fatigue, they didn't show grief. So they hadn't died - that was something. Four vampires against two SOF, though, even if they're well-armed... Sunshine hadn't even been in town that night. She'd been nearly two hundred miles away to the west, at what might constitute an act of diplomacy.

Except for the bloodshed.

"But that's good, right? four fewer vampires and no one died?" she asked, in lieu of asking how four vampires lost against two unprepared SOF.

"...They didn't fight back, Sunshine."

"What?" Muffin batter dripped on the counter as she turned to stare at him.

"They'd been drained by the time Ken and Theo found them - dry-guyed, in fact. That doesn't outright kill a sucker, just leaves them helpless. Theo and Ken had no trouble," Pat's tone showed he was certainly troubled, however. "They'd actually... killed a deer from the park. Drained that, before they were."

Rae put her head down, turning back to her muffin tins to keep from showing her face. Those vampires would have been ones she had talked to. Ones that listened. Young, then. Not yet strong on their own.

Pat was watching her. "Must've put their friends off their supper."

"Must have," she murmurs, faintly, head swimming.

They must have been caught feeding on the animal instead of hunting humans, like vampires are supposed to. Caught by a gang not sympathetic to other ways of being what they are.

They'd been left, drained and helpless, so they'd be found before daylight got them.

So it'd be reported.

Pat was talking again, somewhere in the background of mental noise: "....a lot of this sort of thing during the Wars. Theatrics. Wanting the attention..."

Rae could see exactly what happened.

They'd been left as an example.

A message.

To other vampires who might be receptive to other ways of being a vampire.

To Con.

To her.

"Sunshine?"

Don't upset the status quo.

Feeding like prey makes you prey.

Those who challenge us will be destroyed.

"Sunshine."

There was an involuntary, ragged intake of breath as Rae was jerked back to the present. "Huh?"

"I said, do you know anything about this?"

Her throat felt almost too dry to speak. She shook her head.

"Sunshine." Not a question. Closing her eyes, Rae shook her head again.

"Rae-"

"I don't know anything about it," she interrupted, the mixing bowl hitting the counter with a clang. "Nothing more than what you've just told me."

"There' been no sign of a turf battle brewing?"

Was that what Pat thought this was? Maybe he was right. A struggle over territory and control, only not in the usual way. Not between vampire fiefdoms but between ways of thinking.

"No."

"Then what is this? We need to know what's coming."

It was five-thirty. Charlie would be in soon to start the coffee and set up the patio furniture. The sun was soon to break the horizon. Rae could only hope her face didn't give away her fears.

"...I don't know what's coming, Pat."

It wouldn't be a turf war. It'd just be a war.
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Rae "Sunshine" Seddon

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