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Hell Is Empty

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Things had shifted in little, almost imperceptible ways and Jesse’s initial confusion was mounting into genuine worry. It started with Jesse noticing that whenever he and Tulip got intimate, Cass would make himself scarce where before he would grin and crack a lewd joke. Cass would twitch slightly anytime Jesse or Tulip touched him and his smiles were smaller and softer than before. Even his body language was passive, all hunched shoulders and crossed limbs like he was trying to make himself smaller.

Initially Jesse chalked it up to general unease from being stuck with two other assholes in a car nearly 24/7, hell who knew how long Cassidy normally stuck around the same people considering what he was. And most of the time Cass acted as normally as he ever did, but Jesse was finally forced to admit that something was seriously wrong when they stopped at a bar on the way to New York.

“I’m just sayin’ is yeh should give ‘im another chance is all!”

“Cass I can tell ya right now another look ain’t gonna change the fact that those movies are pastel covered shit.”

“How dare yeh!”

“Oh go fuck a macaroon.”

“What in the hell’s got you two so riled?” Jesse walked over to the table where Cassidy and Tulip were leaned over the top nearly nose to nose. Jesse grinned at the way Tulip crossed her arms in contempt and Cass leaned back, pointing at her and looking at Jesse with a scandalized expression.

“She doesn’t like Wes Anderson padre!”

“Who?”

“Oh come off- are yeh fuckin’ serious now?” Cass was met with a blank expression from the preacher. “The Grand Budapest Hotel? Fantastic Mr. Fox? The bloody Royal Tenenbaums?!”

“What was that middle one?” Jesse smirked, Cassidy’s face awash with horror.

“Don’t take it personal Cass, Jesse here hasn’t seen any movie that wasn’t in sepia,” Tulip grinned wolfishly up at Jesse, hoping he’d react to her teasing. Instead he returned the expression and leaned down towards her.

“Tryin’ to get a rise outta me O’Hare?”

“Oh I think I’m getting’ something to rise alright-“

Movement caused Jesse’s eyes to flicker over to Cassidy who had scrunched up and started edging towards the end of the booth to make an exit. Jesse looked back at Tulip who had just seen the same and they silently came to an agreement.

“Game of pool Cass?” Jesse shifted to stand in front of Cassidy as the vampire stood, crowding his space. Cass let out a soft yelp in surprise at the closeness and fell back into the booth. Jesse’s initial smile at the reaction wavered when something flashed in Cassidy’s eyes briefly before he let out a chuckle that sounded forced.

“Aye padre alright. Move yer arse.” Jesse stepped aside and let Cass step past him. Tulip looked at Jesse in alarm. He smiled reassuringly and held up his hand.

“Mind getting us some beers darlin’?” he asked a bit too loudly, eyes apologizing.

“Of course baby,” Tulip said through clenched teeth, shoulder checking him as she got up and headed towards the bar.

He huffed in exasperation and walked to the pool table where Cass was already setting up.

“Yeh anglin’ to get yer bits yanked off there?”

“What?” Jesse blinked.

“Talkin’ to Tulip like that. Like yeh got a death wish.”

“Yeah well, I’ll pay for it later.”

Jesse noticed Cassidy’s hands shaking slightly as he finished racking the balls.

“Aye. Suppose yeh will.”

The bar was relatively empty except for the three of them, the bartender, and a drunk passed out at the bar, not counting the couple that had stopped here to use the restrooms. The place was silent except for the ceiling fan and the clack of the balls as they took turns without speaking. Jesse felt his palms sweating, finding the silence and whatever tension was growing between them unbearable. He gazed over at Tulip who was taking her time at the bar. She nodded minutely, enough to reassure him. When the eight ball was all that was left, Cass lined up and called the corner pocket and missed.

“Shite,” he smacked his cue against the side of the table and splintered it in half.

“Woah easy there,” Jesse forced a chuckle. His heart was hammering and he wasn’t entirely sure why. “Here take another crack at it.” He held out his cue to Cass, who grabbed it and pulled, only for Jesse to come along with it. Their chests flush, Jesse looked up at Cass who was looking at him with a mix of shock and…something else.

“Like this ya moron,” Jesse voice was quiet as he turned Cass to face the table and draped himself over him, arms wrapped around the vampire’s thin frame to help him line up the shot. With his body against Cassidy’s back, Jesse realized Cass was standing utterly still. No breath, no heartbeat, nothing to indicate that the body underneath him was alive at all.

“Cass-“ Jesse breathed and placed his hand on the one the vampire had wrapped around the cue.

The second skin met skin, Jesse’s vision spun and he found himself with his back against the table, leaning back so far his head was nearly touching the velvet. His wrists were pinned above his head in the vicelike grip of the man towering over him. Cassidy was standing at his full height, face twisted in anger, practically radiating danger.

“Don’t.” He ground out. Jesse’s eyes were wide with confusion and he hated how his heart leapt with fear.

“Cass what- ?”

“I said DON’T.” And like that, he had released Jesse and was half way to the exit.

“HEY!” Tulip blocked the exit. “What the hell?!”

“Move,” he growled in her face with an expression that made her blood freeze.

“Cass?” her voice soft and questioning. A flicker of pain danced over his features before his face twisted into a snarl and he shoved past her. Tulip yelped and fell against the wall. She slid down to the floor and watched Cass get swallowed by the night.

She heard the clunk of Jesse’s boots and felt him slide down next to her, shoulder to shoulder. She didn’t move or look at him.

“You ok?” Jesse’s voice was rough.

“No. You?”

Jesse was silent for a moment.

“I just– what happened?” He looked over at Tulip who finally tore her gaze away from the door and looked at him with a sudden hardness.

“Something’s wrong.”

“Clearly.”

“No I mean wrong. He’s acting like this for a reason.”

“You’re trying to justify him bein’ a dick.”

“No, explainin’ ain’t excusin’.”

Jesse closed his eyes and shook his head in disbelief. He felt nauseous, bile rising in his throat. “He shoved you Tulip.”

“Oh please.”

“What if he had done worse?”

“Fuck you I can take care of myself. I can take it as good as I can give it.”

“Not from him!”

“Exactly! Him! For fuck’s sake Jesse it’s Cass!”

Jesse stopped and snapped his mouth shut, swallowing his words.

Tulip took a deep breath. She turned to fully face Jesse and grabbed both sides of his face gently.

“Jesse I know you feel what I feel. We owe it to him to give him the benefit of the doubt.”

He couldn’t help but grin. “When did you become Ms. High Road?”

“Oh I ain’t. I’m so pissed I could scream, but something bigger is goin’ on. And we can’t figure out what that is if you’re off white-knighting for me, much as I appreciate the sentiment.”

Jesse sighed and leaned into one of her hands, turning to kiss her palm.

“If he had done worse- “

“I know.”

Silence stretched.

Jesse reached up to grab Tulip’s hands and laced their fingers.

“Until the end of the world?”

“Until the end of the world.” He leaned in and kissed her deeply.

When they parted, Tulip sighed.

“Could you go get our vampire back please?”

“You don’t wanna come?”

“Jesse I’m so fuckin’ angry I’ll probably light him on fire then and there. Best let me cool off here and let me kick him in the balls when you come back.”

“You lettin’ me take the car without you?”

“Borrow. And if I see one scratch- “

“Castration. I know.”

“Jesse-“ Tulip’s face was steel but her eyes were earnest. “Find him.”

Jesse swallowed thickly and nodded. Giving her one last kiss before he sauntered out the door and she heard tires screeching onto the road and into the night.

---

Jesse drove until he was in the middle of nowhere and there was nothing but the road and the horizon for miles. His foot was lead on the gas and he tore through the night, heart hammering and hands tremoring. His anger felt like a physical thing, twisting in his gut. He finally saw a figure in the distance and tightened his grip on the wheel. He aimed the car directly towards the man walking down the side of the highway, skidding in a circle to come to a stop when the figure moved with inhuman speed to dodge the oncoming vehicle. Jesse stepped out of the still running car and stalked over to the man facing away from him in a crouching position.

“What in the ever-loving fuck- “ Jesse stopped abruptly as the man turned and stood. “Shit. You’re not who I’m lookin’ for.”

The stranger smiled wide. “Nope. And you just almost hit me with your car friend.” He spoke in a southern lilt. The man was completely average. Normal height, regular build, but Jesse felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end when the man looked at him. His eyes were so dark and cold they reminded him of a shark’s.

“Got nothin’ to say?” His stance was relaxed and calm but his voice was laced with menace.

“Listen, I’m awful sorry for uh- driving into you I thought you were someone else.”

“Cause that makes it better.”

“Heh. Suppose not,” Jesse rubbed the back of his neck. Every instinct was screaming at him to jump back into the car and drive far away, but he couldn’t look away from the man’s gaze.

“So what’s a pretty little thing like you doin’ out in the dark all by your lonesome?” The man was suddenly standing directly in front of him. All Jesse could do was blink.

“I uh- I..” It was as if liquid lead had been poured into his veins, making his limbs heavy and immovable.

“Hush now,” he purred, hand tracing Jesse’s jawline and gently tipping his head back, still maintaining eye contact. “Stay still darlin’. It’ll all be over soon.”

The man leaned forward, his hot breath gusting over Jesse’s neck. Jesse shivered, frozen and unable to speak. A snarl echoed in the silence of the night and suddenly the man was off him a dozen feet away. Jesse gasped and the weight keeping him from moving lifted. Two bodies grappled in the road, growls and heavy breathing filled the air. Before Jesse could get his bearings, a sharp yelp rang out and one body stopped moving. The other clambered upright and stumbled back. Jesse recognized the silhouette in the moonlight.

“Cassidy?”

The vampire stalked over to him, hands and mouth covered in blood. “What, yeh followin’ me now?”

“Oh you have NO right to take that tone with me asshole,” Jesse felt his anger lighting up again, his body vibrating.

“Yeh self-righteous bastard.” Cass grabbed Jesse roughly by the shirt and lifted him slightly so they were face to face without Cass bending down. Jesse glared, readying to use Genesis, until he finally got a good look at the vampire’s face up close. Cassidy’s eyes were fever-bright and shining in the darkness. There was so much sadness and regret in his face it effectively dampened Jesse’s fury and he spoke with his own voice.

“What in the-?”

“Not here,” Cass breathed, barely a whisper, leaning in close. “He might wake up. I’m gonna leave now. Don’t follow me. Please.”

Jesse gaped in confusion.

Please Jess,” Cass begged, eyes pleading for him to understand.

“Why?” Jesse whispered, voice hoarse.

Cass closed his eyes and swallowed. “I’m sorry. Tell Tulip.”

He pulled Jesse in and roughly brought their lips together. Before he could even process what was happening he had been dropped to the floor and Cass was gone.

Blinking like a deer in headlights, Jesse slowly brought himself to his feet, licking his lips and tasting blood. He got back into the chevelle and sat silently as the engine hummed. The minutes ticked by until Jesse’s face contorted in fury and he hit the steering wheel. He struck it again and again until his palms were red and a knuckle on his hand split open and the pain brought him to his senses.

He took a deep breath and finally pulled out into the road. Jesse paused by the man still crumpled in a heap to confirm if he would be followed. The man’s neck was broken and sticking out of the skin, but his eyes were wide open and he mouthed a silent plea for help. Jesse grimaced and drove off, unaware of the figures that observed him from the darkness.

Chapter Text

By the time Jesse got back to the bar, it had long since closed and locked for the night. He peered through the window to confirm Tulip hadn’t hidden somewhere until the bartender left, allowing her unlimited access to free alcohol, lord knows it had happened before. Seeing she wasn’t there, Jesse drove the few blocks back to their motel and made to enter their room. He stopped short of putting the keys in the lock, seeing the doorframe slightly splinted around the bolt. A jolt of fear ran down his spine and he took a deep breath.

He kicked open the door, fists at the ready and mouth half open ready to use Genesis, only to be greeted by Tulip sitting on an armchair, legs kicked up on the table, cleaning her gun.

“You took the keys,” she said without looking up. “I wasn’t about to wait on the fuckin’ steps.”

After a quick visual sweep and seeing that there was no present danger, Jesse huffed and closed the door, which now hung at an odd angle. When he turned back around Tulip was looking at him with furrowed brows.

“Where’s Cass?”

He sighed and scrubbed his face with his hand. He suddenly felt exhausted and flopped onto the bed.

“He left.”

“…wanna give me more than that?”

“Said he was leavin’, not to follow him. Said he was sorry. Told me to tell you.”

“And you just let him leave?!”

“Tulip we can’t force him to do anything.”

“Bullshit we can’t.”

“You know what I mean.”

“No I fucking don’t,” her eyes flashed dangerously. She stood and let the gun fall to the floor. “No explanation, not even a half assed excuse?”

“We didn’t really have time to-“

“Jesus Jesse, did you even bother getting out of the car? Or did you just fucking drive by him with the window rolled down.”

“Fuckin’ hell Tulip, I was attacked alright?” Jesse sat up and felt a twinge of embarrassment at how Tulip’s face lit up in shock.

“What?”

“I ran into a fella on the road, thought it was Cass at first. He uh-“ Jesse shuddered slightly. “He got the jump on me.”

Tulip frowned. “That doesn’t usually happen.” It was a statement of fact, no judgement in her voice.

“I don’t know what was wrong with me,” Jesse said softly. “I couldn’t use Genesis. Couldn’t move at all. He was on me and then- then he wasn’t. Cass came outta nowhere and tackled him.”

Tulip sat next to Jesse on the bed. She put a hand on his knee and squeezed reassuringly.

“Was Cass followin’ the guy?”

“Or the guy was followin’ him. Or he coulda just been some random asshole in the road. Not sure.”

“He dead?”

“Near enough.” Tulip quirked an eyebrow in question. “Cass broke his neck in two but he was still conscious last I saw him.”

“We talkin’ another vampire situation?”

Jesse sighed heavily, fell back onto the bed and stared at the ceiling. “Maybe. Sure felt like he was about to take a chunk outta my neck but- I don’t know Tulip. Shoulda seen his eyes. It was like bein’ hypnotized. Cass can’t do that.”

Tulip worried her lower lip. “We don’t know that.” He side-eyed her. “What? We don’t! I did my 20 question round with him when I found out what he was, but I was a bit preoccupied with a certain preacher to cover everything.”

Jesse continued to lie there silently.

“Cass ain’t the same as that thing.” He finally said, an edge to his voice.

Tulip edged up onto the bed and lay down on her side, arm propping her head up by Jesse’s head.

“Did you ever ask him?” she asked quietly.

“Asked him ‘bout loads of things. But no, not how you mean.” Jesse subconsciously rubbed his forearm where a horizontal white scar was apparent. “After we got him back from the Grail and- well after he was back to normal- he mentioned some things. It just seemed rough on him to talk about so I never brought it back up.”

“Jesse that’s WHY you gotta talk about shit like that.”

“Ok so why didn’t you do it then?”

“Baby, he’s not worried about opening up to me,” she said softly, tracing Jesse’s face lightly. He gazed at her intently.

“He knows where I stand. On everything. You’re a bit harder to read.” Her hand fell down to his neck and traced his collar.

Jesse’s face shifted into something soft and regretful. “I don’t mean to be.”

“I know.”

“I am tryin’ ya know. To be better. More…open. Not judge so quickly.”

His expression was so open and sincere, Tulip smiled at him with overwhelming fondness. She leaned over Jesse and pressed her lips to his, only to pause for a beat and sit up, face full of concern.

“You taste like blood.”

“Oh…uh. It ain’t mine.” Tulip blinked. “It’s from um…its Cassidy’s blood.”

Tulip sat frozen. “And why was he bleeding on your mouth Jesse?”

Jesse took a deep breath and steeled himself. “Cause he kissed me.”

Silence filled the air, followed by a slow, shit-eating grin spreading across Tulip’s face.

“And when, Mr. Custer, were ya gonna share THAT piece of information?” Her smile was so wide it nearly lit up the room.

“It’s not a big deal, don’t make it into nothin’.” Jesse sat up and slid up the bed away from her to sit against the headboard. He crossed his arms and looked anywhere but Tulip, but he could feel a hot blush coloring his cheeks.

“Oh preacher,” Tulip purred. She crawled up the bed and onto him, straddling his legs. “A tall, mysterious man rescued you from a murderous stranger, then kissed you before disappearing into the night."

“Shut up,” he shoved her shoulder gently, fighting the smile playing at the corners of his lips.

Tulip nuzzled into the crook of his neck and chuckled. “Make me.”

Jesse smiled genuinely and wrapped his arms around her. They lay there together, feeling each other’s heartbeats and trying to find comfort in that.

“Tulip?”

“Mm?”

“You don’t think he left cause of me do you?”

Tulip looked up at him. His face was inscrutable and his eyes far away.

“No Jesse. You may be an emotionally constipated asshat sometimes but you never did nothin’ that woulda caused this.”

Jesse nodded minutely but his expression didn’t change.

“Hey, look at me.” Tulip gently grabbed his chin and turned him towards her. “Cass is either dealin’ with his own shit or somethin’ or someone made him leave. This isn’t on you.”

“Then why does it feel like it?”

“Cause you have a god complex and it falls on your shoulders to fix everything?”

Jesse gave her a wry smile. “Still got my number huh.”

“Always.”

Tulip snuggled back into Jesse’s chest. “Don’t you worry Jesse. We’ll find him. Together.”

Jesse kissed her hair and leaned back against the pillows, closing his eyes.

“Together,” he repeated, drifting off to sleep.

---

The next thing Jesse knew, he was struggling to open heavy eyelids and his mouth tasted sickly sweet. His vision was clouded and his head hung heavily against his chest. He could hear voices speaking but couldn’t make out what they were saying. As he tried to blink away the fog, he slowly noticed he was sitting on something hard, not the soft bed he had fallen asleep in. Adrenaline flashed through him as he suddenly came to awareness. He was sitting on a chair, hands tied behind his back and mouth gagged with a thick rope so tight he was nearly gagging from it. Jesse thrashed and the power of Genesis ripped through his throat, only to come out muffled like rolling thunder in the distance.

“Ah! He wakes!” A man built like a lumberjack, barrel chested and large armed, circled around to Jesse’s front. He was clean cut with neatly shorn brown hair and a large white scar that crisscrossed the right side of his neck, up his jawline, and stopped at the corner of his mouth, causing him to look like he was constantly grimacing on one side.

Jesse took all this in within seconds, also noticing how the man favored his right side in general and was caring 4 different firearms on his person. He catalogued the five other men in the room, varying ages and builds, and noticed with a jolt that he wasn’t in his motel room at all. The walls were concrete and neon lights lit the interior. Squinting, Jesse shook his head and looked at the lights again. They were ultraviolet.

“Heh. See you noticed our lighting system! Oh he’s good,” the man chuckled to the others. He spoke in a neutral American accent. “What am I doin? I’m being terribly rude. My name is Abraham. I do apologize for all the uh-“ he gestured to Jesse’s restraints. Jesse glared daggers.

“You must understand, we have to take precautions. We already did all the standard checks so you’re clean in that regard. Now as much as it goes against my code to treat a holy man in this way, well, I’m sure the Lord Almighty will forgive us this one transgression. Considering what we’re doing in His name.”

Muttered ‘amens’ echoed through the group, Jesse grimaced and barely stopped from rolling his eyes. Abraham caught the look and frowned.

“Preacher, we’ve been following you for some time. We are well aware of the power your voice holds, hence the- “ he gestured again. “But we also need your help. Willingly. Which will require you to speak. So we’ve taken additional precautions.”

Abraham took something out of his pocket and dangled it in front of Jesse’s face. Jesse's eyes widened in horror and he growled against the gag. A small, glass rainbow twisted between Abraham’s fingers from a chain. The man’s face was stone.

“We have taken the woman to a separate, secure location, similar to this one. UV lights, state of the art security, and many well-armed guards. Every hour on the hour my men and I must call said location in previously decided alternating permutations with predetermined passcodes. If this isn’t completed before five after the hour, she dies. If even one of my men doesn’t call in with their part of the passcode, she dies. If they call in and give the incorrect passcode, she dies.”

Jesse was breathing hard against the rope. Face turning red.

“You may be asking yourself: ‘What if it’s a bluff?’ Well preacher, let me ask you this,” he leaned down to look Jesse square in the eyes. “Are you willing to take that chance?”

Jesse’s eyes darted around the room, desperately trying to think of a solution. He finally looked back into Abraham’s eyes and swallowed. His face calmed and he shook his head minutely.

“Good choice.” Abraham walked out and one of the other men loosened his bonds. Jesse spat out the rope and gasped for air. He rubbed his wrists as circulation flooded back into his hands.

“Rest assured preacher, once you help us and we succeed in our mission, you will be reunited with your woman and we will leave you forever,” Abraham’s voice echoed from behind him.

Jesse spat in response, trying to rid his mouth of that sickly sweet taste. “And what exactly am I helping you fuckin' shitbuckets with?”

Abraham walked back around in front of where Jesse sat with a flamethrower strapped to his back.

“The Lord’s work preacher. Ridding the world of monsters.”

Chapter Text

Tulip had always been a light sleeper, a characteristic born from her unpleasant experiences in the foster system she was sure. So when the motel door, already precariously hanging from its hinges and barely fitting in the doorframe, creaked open slightly, Tulip’s eyes sprung open. She automatically reached for her gun, which she suddenly realized was unloaded and on the floor across the room where she had left it earlier. She silently cursed herself for allowing her emotions to distract her. Tulip let her arm hang off the bed and wrapped her fingers around one of her shoes, letting out a breath of relief that these had heels.

She heard muffled steps and quiet breathing as she tensed, keeping her own breath deep and even. When she felt someone close in, she waited for him to reach out towards her when she sprung on him with a cry and stabbed down with her shoe, embedding the heel in her attacker’s eye socket. The strange man roared in pain and dropped to the floor, only for two more to leap at her. Tulip ducked and dodged, landing a solid kick to the balls of one man and a kidney strike to the other, dropping them both.

“JESS-“ her cry was cut off as someone threw a rope around her neck from behind and pulled, cutting of air and bringing her down to the floor. She gagged and clawed at the rope and tried to twist her way out of it. As her vision became spotty from lack of air, someone straddled her and bound her hands and feet before loosening the noose that held Tulip down. She gasped in air and coughed roughly just as a piece of cloth was shoved in her mouth and her necklace, the glass rainbow Jesse had given her, was ripped from her neck. Tulip tried to yell through the cloth, tasting something sweet coating the fabric, and desperately tried to get eyes on Jesse. He had been similarly pinned down on the bed by several men, who hauled his unconscious body outside. Tulip shrieked and screamed against her bonds, thrashing to get at the men in any way she could. The man who had pinned her down, a skinny blond with a buzz cut and a gap-toothed smile, bent low and looked at her quizzically.

“A man with the power to have any woman and he picks this?!” his face twisted. He wrapped his arms around her and hefted her bodily from the floor and over his shoulder. She kicked and struggled but he continued out the door and towards a black SUV.

“Must be one hell of a lay,” another man walking next to him shrugged.

The blond man shook his head. “Ain’t right. ‘Specially for a preacher. We can’t go mixin’ and shit, that’s how them genetic diseases started ya know.”

A murmur of agreement came from the men and Tulip grimaced against her gag, feeling very lethargic and heavy. She fought to keep her eyes open, but her vision filled with fog and she slipped into unconsciousness.

Tulip slowly came to and found herself lying on the floor of a car. Sunlight was streaming in through a cracked window as Tulip blinked away the effects of whatever had knocked her out. She was no longer gagged, but her hands were tied behind her back and her feet were bound. Her breathing rate increased as she got her bearings and the memory of the previous night washed over her. Tulip took a deep breath and set her jaw, willing the panic down deep into her gut where it could stew and morph into rage, she’d need it later. For now, she sat up and took in her surroundings. She was the only one left in the car, which currently wasn’t moving. The sun was high enough in the sky to indicate that she’d been out for a while, and again she had to wrestle the panic and worry over Jesse back down.

He can handle himself fine. He’s fine. She held onto the thought like a lifeline and started working on a way of freeing herself. Tulip scrounged around on the floor, noticing that the seats she lay next to were the kind that could be removed for more trunk space. She positioned herself so her back was to the seats and she worked blindly with her hands to unlatch one of the lock clips that held the seat in place. When she succeeded, she frantically rubbed her bindings against the protruding plastic latch, twisting and angling herself to work all angles possible. Tulip was nearly bent in half, arms twisted to breaking, when her bindings finally snapped and she gasped in relief.

She clenched and unclenched her fists, waiting for the painful tingle of rushing blood to ebb, then made quick work of the bonds around her ankles. Finally free, Tulip crawled along the floor, staying below the windows. When she reached the front, she searched in hopes of finding the car keys and huffed in frustration when she came up empty. Tulip finally crawled up onto the driver’s seat and peaked through the window. The car appeared to be parked in an alley of some kind, the late afternoon sun peeking out from behind a cloud overhead. She wiped the sweat from her brow.

And they thought to crack the window for me. Like a dog. How sweet. Tulip mulled over the many ways she was going to cause these men pain.

Tulip could guess that whoever took her had stopped to piss or get something to eat and had parked in back, leaving her for a few minutes.

Either my timing is ridiculous or it’s been longer than a few minutes. A small pile of cigarette butts were lying on the ground next to the back tire. Clearly she had been left with a look out, one who was now long gone. Tulip chewed the inside of her cheek, weighing the pros and cons of staying put and assessing the situation more or making a run for it.

Fuck, I ain’t one for caution. Tulip launched herself out of the car and bolted through the alley. She made a face as her bare feet slapped against the ground. It was humid as hell, clouds gathering, and she could feel electricity in the air of an oncoming thunder storm. She rounded a corner and found herself in the front of the bar the men must’ve gone into. A streak of blood was splashed against the inside of one window, and the door was smashed in half. Dark shapes moved inside, Tulip turned quickly and stood with her back hugging the wall next to the window. She held her breath, praying that they hadn’t seen her. After a beat, Tulip slowly backed away from the building and eyed the street, deserted of people who were getting inside before the storm came.

When she had backed far enough away from the bar, eyes unblinkingly locked on the doorway the entire time, she spun and bolted down the street.

---

Of course I had to get kidnapped to another bumfuck nowhere town. Tulip sighed in irritation and made her way to the seedy gas station at the end of the road after having no luck finding a single motel or store.

The bell hanging from the ceiling dinged as she entered, fluorescent lights buzzed overhead. The man behind the counter playing with his phone had a trucker hat and a large mustache. Checkin’ all the boxes in redneck bingo today. “Excuse me, ya got a phone I could use?”

The man slowly gave Tulip a once over, regarding her bare feet with disinterest. “In the back,” he grunted and returned to playing with his phone.

Tulip gave him a withering look and headed towards the back. It had gone dark outside and the wind started picking up, preventing Tulip from hearing the ding of the bell as she dialed on the pay phone. Jesse’s cell went straight to voicemail and she slammed the phone down harder than necessary. She stood there, chewing the inside of her cheek and thinking about her next move when a loud bang near the front made her jump. She grabbed a beer bottle from the fridge and slammed it against the counter, providing her with a makeshift weapon. Tulip held the broken bottle in front of her and kept low so the racks of food would hide her as she moved forward.

The man behind the counter was splayed on his back with his throat slit, hand clutching his still smoking gun. The blond who had taken Tulip stood over him holding a switchblade, his right ear missing and his left arm hanging useless at his side. He breathed heavily and stalked through the aisles, eyes wide and crazed. When he reached the far end of the room, Tulip bolted.

“HEY!” She heard him yell as she streaked down the road. Tulip could feel her feet getting ripped to shreds, but adrenaline coursing through her numbed the pain. She chanced a look back and saw the man running after her. She skidded and turned down another road as thunder clapped and the clouds opened up. Tulip grimaced as rain poured down her face and her feet slipped on the wet concrete. She hopped a short fence and turned down another alley, hoping that she could lose him.

Shit shit shit! She cursed herself when she came up to an eight foot chain link fence topped with barbed wire. Tulip hopped and started clambering up, bare feet slipping and hands grappling for purchase. She reached the top and gingerly positioned herself over the barbed wire when her ankle was grabbed and she was pulled down forcefully. Tulip cried out and slipped down, her arms and hands getting cut by the barbs while trying to stay on the fence. Another yank caused Tulip to lose her grip, palm getting slashed open, and she fell sprawled onto the ground with the wind knocked out of her.

Tulip gasped as rain fell in her eyes and the blond lifted her bodily and slammed her against a brick wall, hand on her throat and blade waving under her nose.

“You bitch! We ain’t lettin’ you get away that easy. Think you can escape the Lord’s plan? Nuh uh! We are set on a righteous path and no two bit black whore is gonna stop it!” he rambled.

Tulip blinked. “For fuck’s sake,” she reared back and head butt him square in the nose. Blood spurt and he cried out in pain, his grip around Tulip’s throat loosening. She grabbed his wrist and twisted sharply. A snap echoed as lightening flashed and he screamed. Tulip grabbed the blade and held it up to his face.

“You and me are gonna have a LONG conversation about a lot of things. But first I gotta ask, which eye are you less attached to?”

“No, no please,” he started to beg. Lightening flashed again and the man’s attention suddenly shifted over Tulip’s shoulder.

“Oh god. Oh god no! No please I- Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name,” he fell to his knees, quivering and sobbing. Tulip quirked her head in confusion and turned to see several dark figures moving towards her. A chill ran down her spine and the blond continued his fevered prayer.

Thunder clapped. Tulip swallowed and stood in front of the man, brandishing the switchblade.

“Look, whoever you are. I ain’t got no beef with you. But I’m sick to fuck of running around and I need this man to answer some questions,” her voice was steel, betraying none of the fear that was trickling into the pit of her stomach.

Tulip heard a low chuckle. “She’s got fire. I like that,” a voice purred in the darkness.

“She was their prisoner. Don’t smell like nothin’ special,” another said.

She has ears you creepy fucks,” Tulip said sharply. She wiped the rain from her eyes, trying to get a better look at the figures who were still confined to the shadows.

“Oh I’m gonna rip the sass right out of her throat.”

“Nah let’s have some fun with her first!”

“We don’t have time, let’s just kill them both and leg it.”

“Fuckin’ come near me asshole and both your legs’ll be broken,” Tulip ground out, heart hammering. Blood was dripping from her wounds and mixing with the rain water on the ground. A growl rumbled through the figures as they started towards her, Tulip took a deep breath and assumed a fighting stance.

“WAIT!”

The figures froze. Tulip squinted as one figure moved from the back of the group and made their way towards her. Tulip's eyes widened in shock and her heart leapt into her throat at the sight of the man in front of her. He smiled wide.

“She’s mine,” Cassidy growled.

Chapter Text

Tulip was struck dumb, her mouth hung slightly open and her eyes were glued on Cassidy. He walked slowly towards her, slightly crouched and hands held out, like he was approaching a horse that was easily spooked.

“Come on now love, it’s alright jus’- step away from the fella yeah?”

“I don’t- what-?”

He stepped closer.

“’S nothin’ to worry about. Come over ‘ere and it’ll all be fine,” he all but purred. He was only a few feet away and Tulip continued to white knuckle the switchblade as she searched Cassidy’s face. There was something, a shadow, that hung over his face, sharpening his features into something more predator like. His eyes were dark and held none of their usual warmth. He was a foot away and he held out his hands, palms up.

He smiled again, but it didn’t reach his eyes. “Wha? No hug for ol’ Cass?”

She looked him up and down. His normally unkempt hair was plastered to his forehead from the rain and his clothes were soaked through, but she could see the tension he held himself with. Like a coiled spring, a viper about to strike. So unlike the carefree loose-limbed way Cass normally held himself. It was as if something else had gotten in under his skin. When he was within arm’s length, her eyes narrowed.

“You ain’t Cass,” she said coldly and slashed out with the knife, slicing him down one side of his face. He hissed in pain and lurched back, some of the tension seeping out of his stance. She took a beat to look at the man still praying on the ground and made the split second decision to leave him as she bolted back where she’d came.

“Oh nice going,” she heard someone say behind her. “Go! We’ll handle this.” Tulip tried to ignore the fading snarling and screaming as she ran further away.

Come on let up please let up give me some sunshine. Tulip begged up at the sky. She could feel the exhaustion and blood loss starting to overcome her. Her breaths came out in gasps and her feet felt like they were on fire. She was finally about to round back onto the main street leading out of the town, only for her foot to catch on a grate hidden in a puddle and she tumbled onto the ground.

She groaned in pain and made to get up but froze when a stalking growl came from behind her. Tulip closed her eyes, took a deep breath and turned to face Cassidy, whose face was bleeding sluggishly on one side. With a snarl he jumped on top of her, straddling her waist.

And isn’t this what I was just doing with Jesse? Tulip found herself thinking, of all things. Heh. Symmetry. Funny. Tulip tried to focus through the light headedness and stared up at Cassidy.

“I- I don’t understand,” Tulip’s voice was shattered and raw. “This isn’t you.” Cass quirked his head and Cheshire cat grinned at her.

“This is exactly me love,” he leaned down close enough Tulip could feel his breath on her face. “Yeh just never had the pleasure.”

A low growl reverberated through his chest as he stretched out and grabbed her hand with the slashed palm. He languidly ran his tongue along the wound and Tulip hissed and jolted underneath him, trying to rip her hand away. Cassidy’s weight lay heavy on her as she struggled and he latched on fully with his mouth and sucked hard. The cut on the side of his face slowly stopped bleeding and started to close into an angry red line and Tulip’s vision started to darken. The growling suddenly stopped and the suction on her hand was gone, as was the weight on her abdomen.

Tulip blinked hard and propped herself up on her elbows to find Cassidy, kneeling at her feet. The shadow that tainted his features was still present, but his eyes were far brighter than before. He stared at her with a confused expression which quickly morphed into horror.

“Tulip,” he breathed. She shivered at the desperation in his voice. “I…oh god I…”

“What the fuck Cass?” Tulip shook as the adrenaline finally started to wear off.

“Love I…it’s a long story,” his head suddenly perked up, eyes wide. “No time. Lie down.”

“What?”

Cass lurched forward and was back on top of her, cupping her face.

“Stay still. I promise on me sorry sack of shite life I won’t hurt yeh.”

Before Tulip could ask, Cass reared back and buried himself in her neck. She shrieked as she felt his teeth latch onto her throat. Tulip froze, holding her breath as the pressure increased, but Cassidy seemed to stop just before breaking skin. He sucked hard which caused her to wince and shiver, but he held her down and kept his head low, covering his work as he licked along the bruise he was creating surrounded by red indents from his teeth.

He mouthed against her skin, “Play dead.”

Tulip’s eyes widened in understanding and gave a minute nod. Cass snarled and bit his own tongue as he latched back onto her neck, coating her with his own blood, enough to seem close to fatal. She closed her eyes as he pulled back, his breath ragged, and grimaced as he took Tulip’s hand again and licked it with his ruined tongue, just enough to stop his own bleeding.

“Took you long enough,” a female voice Tulip hadn’t heard before rang out in disgust.

Cass flinched and placed Tulip’s hand down, gently squeezing before letting it drop.

“Fuck you didn’t even kill her did you?” The voice rang out like steel.

Tulip felt Cassidy stand and step away from her.

“Eh she’ll be dead soon enough. Took enough blood didn’ I?” Cassidy’s voice sounded small and was laced with a pathetic dog-like whine.

Tulip heard an exasperated sigh as heels clacked against the pavement towards her. She kept her breathing shallow and her eyes lightly shut. Tulip fought the desire to swallow as she felt a presence standing over her.

“We can jus’ leave ‘er can’t we? Rain’s lettin’ up.”

Tulip did feel the rainfall lessening and she could sense the light shifting through her eyelids.

“You pathetic runt, next time stay in the back and know your place!” Tulip heard a slap followed by a yelp and felt a small flame of anger ignite in her gut.

“Get back to the safe house with the others. Despite your complete idiocy she will bleed out in a minute or two. I’m going back to the bar. We’re going to have a lengthy conversation when I get back Proinsias.”

“Yes, o’ course. Sorry m’lady.”

Tulip continued to lay there for several minutes after she heard them retreat. She finally felt sunlight on her face and shuddered with relief and finally opened her eyes. She stood up on shaky feet and limped slowly back down the road. Tulip entered the gas station again, walked by the corpse of the attendant, and picked up the payphone.

“Hey Danny? Yeah it’s me. Listen, I’m waist deep in shit and could use a shovel.”

---

“It was a glamor.”

Jesse snorted. “A what now?”

“The trick that thing pulled on you on the road the other night. It’s called a glamour,” Abraham said. He sat facing Jesse, who was sandwiched between several other men, in a SWAT-like van. The vehicle rocked slightly as it careened down the highway. The thud of rain echoed on the roof.

“And how in the hell do you know what I was doin’ the other night?”

“Told you, we’ve been keeping an eye on you.”

“You did at that didn’t you.”

“Mmm. Wasn’t even you we were looking for in the first place.”

After a beat, Jesse huffed out a laugh and leaned his head back against the wall.

“You’re the vampire huntin’ religious vigilantes.”

“Indeed we are. And imagine my surprise when we finally tracked down that abomination to a town that had just exploded? And that it had taken off with the town’s preacher no less? Well we could not let that stand a second longer. Imagining an innocent holy man in the clutches of such a creature.” Abraham eyed Jesse coolly. “The reality of the situation turned out to be a bit different.”

Jesse’s gaze was just as cold. “Damn right.”

Abraham clicked his tongue and looked at Jesse with pity.

“You know it isn’t your friend right? It’s an animal. Just a collection of impulses and needs, its soul ripped out by Satan a century ago.”

Jesse refused to meet his eyes.

“That ‘glamour’ that I mentioned, it’s one of their weapons. They’re like venus fly traps. They draw unsuspecting souls in against their will and before you can do anything about it- “ Abraham clapped his hands together and Jesse couldn’t help but flinch.

“It was an illusion preacher. It was using you. Even when it saved you it was probably being territorial. It wasn’t through draining all it could get from you yet,” Abraham leaned forward and placed a hand on Jesse’s knee. Jesse looked down at it and back into the man’s eyes with disgust.

“Him.”

Abraham blinked. “I’m sorry?”

“He’s not an it. He’s a him. And I’d thank you to take your hand off me,” Jesse’s voice was taunt with anger.

Abraham clicked his tongue again and retracted his hand. No sooner had he done so when his phone rang.

“Go ahead.” His expression hardened and Jesse swore blood drained from the man’s face.

“When was this?...Where?...We’re a few hours out. Stay at your location, we’ll be there soon.”

Abraham hung up and sat very still. Jesse eyed him, nearly seeing the wheels turning in the man’s head. Abraham stood abruptly and walked up to speak with the driver. Jesse could feel the van turning and heading in a different direction.

Abraham sat back down heavily across from Jesse and started calmly putting together weapons and loading them.

“Do you know what a group of vampires is called preacher?”

“Can’t say that I do no.”

“There’s no specific word that’s correct and it’s changed over the years. ‘Coven’ is the one I’ve heard most, ‘clan’ another, though both are too human sounding for my taste. Then there’s ‘pack’, but that put’s one in mind of dogs and really, that’s too soft and familiar a word for such a thing. Nah. For these monsters I prefer ‘hive’.”

Jesse watched the man, feeling more and more unsettled with each click click sschnnk of the bullets loaded into magazines and magazines slammed into guns.

“You see, like I said before, these things are just collections of impulses. Like wasps. They exist for a single purpose - to collect pollen, or blood in this case. And they’re all beholden to a queen.”

Jesse eyed the man, curiosity peaked despite himself.

“Vampires have queens?”

“Only in the figurative sense. They’re the oldest and the most powerful minions of Hell, probably the ones that turned the rest of them. They have no choice but to do what the queens say. Last time I met one, it did this to me,” Abraham pointed at the large scar on his face and neck. “Not with its teeth of course, I had managed to blow half its jaw off by then. But you let them get ahold of you, they can rip you apart with the strength of fifty men.”

Jesse mulled this over, something not sitting right in his gut.

“There’s a reason you’re tellin’ me this.”

“Yes preacher, there is. I’ve been mulling over whether to tell you this, but I have no ill will against you and I think even with this information you’ll still be willing to help us.”

“And that would be?” Jesse quirked an eyebrow.

“A hive attacked the group holding your woman,” Abraham said flatly. Jesse felt his blood freeze. “The bodies of my men were found ripped apart. She was nowhere to be found.”

Jesse was on Abraham in a flash before his men could react, hand around his throat.

Is she alive?” Genesis tore out of his throat like an impulse. The men gaped at the sound of it as Abraham’s eyes widened.

“I don’t know.”

Where. Is. She?” Jesse ground out.

“I don’t know! She was gagged and bound like you were when they were ambushed. She must have been taken.”

Before Jesse could react, two men grabbed him from behind and pulled him back down to his seat. Abraham leapt up and jammed a magazine clip into Jesse’s mouth.

“Listen to me preacher, listen! This hive was already hunting you two when we found you, I know you’ve figured that out, what with your run in the other night. We just delayed the inevitable. But we’re on the same side now. The enemy of my enemy. Our goals intersect. Help us destroy this blight on humanity with your power and you save your girl.”

Jesse glared at him as Abraham slowly removed the clip. The two men regarded each other, breathing heavily. Abraham held a hand out.

“Do we have a deal?”

Jesse frowned at the hand, then shook it.

“Deal.”

Chapter Text

Two Weeks Earlier

He honestly never knew he could feel like this. His life had been nothing but cold and sharp for so long that the warmth he felt blooming in his chest felt like an attack. Even just looking at the two of them, the way they looked at him, turned his insides molten in a way he thought might be how the sun used to feel on his skin.

It was fucking terrifying.

Cassidy shook his head with a grunt, irritated with himself. He leaned against the outside of the motel, smoking a fag and staring blankly at the smoke floating into blackness. Jesse and Tulip had long gone to bed, Jesse’s face plastered with a cocksure grin leading Tulip into the room, winking at Cassidy before gently shutting the door just shy of fully closed.

What a fucking tease. The bastard.

What if it wasn’t teasing?

Oh it was.

Yeh sure ‘bout that now?

As sure as I’m royally fucked.

Cassidy heaved a sigh and stubbed out the butt with his heel. He glanced at the window of the motel room and felt a tug of longing.

“Heh. Royally fucked alright.”

He grabbed the half empty bottle sitting by the door and walked down the street, kicking loose gravel and knocking back whiskey as he went. The street lights were scarce, allowing the moon and stars to shine bright overhead. Cass preferred it like that. Reminded him of before.

Whoa now let’s not go down that road. Cass ran a hand down his face in frustration. He didn’t get introspective. Strictly unadvisable, that. Never led to anywhere good.

Cassidy hummed to distract himself, soft voice carrying in the quiet of the night. It was the tune of one of the songs he and Tulip had danced to. Couldn’t remember the words for the life of him, but he remembered liking it. The way the bass pounded in his chest, how Tulip’s hips swayed under his hands, her laugh at something he said, the feel of her body pressed to his.

She said she could share.

“Oh fer the love of-!” Cass growled and kicked a rock hard and sent it hurling through the air. A faint crash of glass in the distance made him wince.

“Shite,” he turned tail and walked quickly in a different direction.

He turned off the main road and headed into a surrounding thicket. Greenery closed in around him with dappled moonlight shining through the leaves. He could see just fine without it, but he appreciated the way the light broke up the shadows.

There’s a metaphor in there somewhere.

“I swear teh god would yeh fuckin’ shut it!” Cassidy let his forehead fall against the trunk of a tree with a solid thunk. He grimaced and squeezed his eyes shut.

“Yeh’ve got a good thing goin’ ‘ere. Don’t bloody ruin it yeh absolute dickhead.”

Yer not gonna ruin anythin’, yeh cuddled wit’ the man fer fucks sake.

“Cuddlin’s one thing,” he grumbled.

Tulip said-

“Tulip was drunk an’ had other things on ‘er mind, mate. And she probably didn’t mean it like that ta begin with. Yer kiddin’ yerself.”

Cassidy thunked his head against the wood again. He turned and slid down to the ground, shirt riding up and bark leaving cuts on his exposed back. Numb from the alcohol, he didn’t feel a damn thing. He downed the last of the bottle and chucked it into the bushes with a sneer.

“Them two are it. They’re the ultimate. ‘End o’ the world’ and all that. They want a third member like a fish wants a bicycle.”

Tha’s a labored metaphor.

“Oh blow it out yer arse.”

He brought his knees up, wrapped his arms around his legs and hugged them to his chest.

“Don’t ruin a good thing Cass. Not this time. Please,” he said softly and buried his head in his arms. He sat like that for a bit, wrestling with his thoughts long enough that he was finally starting to doze off.

Cassidy bolted up right, suddenly alert. Movement in the bushes to his right was fluid and near silent, he would have never noticed if it weren’t for his superior senses. He jumped to his feet, stance defensive and eyes wary.

“Alright now come on out whoever yeh are! Honestly, the cheek of yeh interruptin’ a perfectly good brood.”

“Wouldn’t be the first time, would it Cassidy?” A perfectly average man stepped out in front of him. Normal height, regular build, but with eyes as cold and dark as a shark’s. Cass felt the bottom of his stomach drop out.

“Quinn,” Cass tried to keep his voice as low and even as possible, pleased that it didn’t quiver.

“Been awhile,” Quinn drawled in a southern lilt. He looked Cass up and down. “Frankly I’m amazed you survived so long on your own. I’m impressed.”

“How’d yeh find me?”

“Hand a’ god,” the man shrugged. His lips upturned into what might have meant to be a smile but felt more like bared teeth.

“Oh so it’s jokes now?” Cassidy’s voice was light and lilted, but tension creeped into his limbs and coiled in his gut. His senses were on high alert, aware of every small movement and sound around him.

“You’d be surprised at the accuracy. Them asshole religious nuts? We caught their scent a while back and owe ‘em a world of hurt, so we been trackin’ ‘em. Imagine our surprise when they led us directly to you,” Quinn flourished with a wide armed, welcoming gesture and stepped forward.

Cass stepped back, lips curling back in an ill-restrained snarl.

“Yeh best stay there Quinn. This ain’t like ol’ times right? I’ll rip yer fuckin’ arms off and beat yeh teh death with ‘em don’ tempt me.”

“Now Proinsias, what kind of a way is that to talk to your family?” A voice like liquid steel rang out through the trees.

Cass inhaled sharply, knees nearly buckling at the sound. He shuddered as the vibration seemed to seep in through his skin and electrify his veins.

A woman appeared seemingly from thin air behind Quinn. She was tall, blond hair swept to the side. Her skin was so fair she was almost luminescent, making her cold dark eyes stand out all the more. She walked up to Quinn’s side and leaned gently against him, cocking her head and studying Cassidy who stood rooted to the spot. She smiled gently, teeth gleaming.

“Oh how I’ve missed that face.” Her voice was otherworldly, like mercury and silk.

“Lydia,” Cass choked out. It felt like the air itself was humming around him. He had to fight to keep his breathing slow and even. A sickly sweet feeling filled his veins like heroin, lifting him up and filling his head with mist.

He shook his head and glared at her. “He’s not me family and neither are you. None of yeh are. Fuck off.”

“Proinsias don’t say that,” she stood up straight and pouted. “I know you didn’t feel appreciated and I may have been a bit hard on you at times. I am sorry for that.”

Cassidy snorted. “Tell yeh what love. Why don’t yeh go ahead and kiss me pasty paddy arse.”

Lydia frowned, brows drawn together. She drew closer, graceful and lithe as a panther, eyes hooded. Cass couldn’t look away.

“I am though. I’m so sorry, and I’m just so glad we found you again. You can finally come home.”

Home.

The word reverberated in his skull and Cass felt something shift inside him.

“Oh fuck,” the words tumbled out as Cass fell to his knees, his eyes locked on Lydia’s. He shivered with pleasure as something cool and dark slipped under his skin and spread through every inch of him.

“Please…don’t…I don’t want-“ he doubled over and groaned, hugging himself and squeezing his eyes shut.

“It’s ok darling.” Cass heard her whisper into his ear. Long fingernails raked through his hair and tilted his head back. Cassidy swallowed, adam’s apple bobbing, trying desperately to keep his eyes closed.

“You were always my favorite.” She bit his earlobe and tugged lightly. A whine, unbidden, bubbled from his throat. She made her way slowly down his jawline, nipping gently down his throat. Deep rolling vibrations rumbled in Cassidy’s chest despite himself. He shifted and squirmed where he was kneeling, his breathing escaping his fraying control and releasing in shallow gusts.

“Come be with me,” she purred against his lips before kissing him deeply. Cassidy’s eyes flew open and he felt something snap. The wall holding back the darkest, most monstrous part of himself fell away and his vision darkened. A feral snarl ripped from his throat as he lunged forward and kissed her back, tongue taking her mouth greedily and teeth biting.

Lydia pulled back and looked at him hungrily.

“There’s my boy.”

“M’lady,” he growled. He leaned in to continue but she held him still with a firm hand.

“That’s all you get for now darling. I’m still upset with you for leaving,” she scolded, as if talking to a dog.

“’M sorry,” Cassidy muttered dejectedly. He hated disappointing her. It’s all he seemed to be good at.

“I know. But I have an idea of how you can make it up to me. If you do this one thing for me, I’ll forgive you and you can come home.”

“I’ll do it! Whatever it is I’ll do it!”

“You’ve been traveling with two humans.”

Was he? Cassidy cocked his head. He couldn’t seem to remember what he'd doing recently. He knew it must’ve been bad though, it didn’t feel anything like he felt now. He felt good. Like he was wanted and a part of something. Even the hunger that burned his insides made him feel good. Made him feel powerful.

“As your punishment, and your apology to me for leaving, you’re going to kill them,” she smiled wide and cruel as she caressed his face. Cass leaned into the touch and gazed at her adoringly.

“Of course, m’lady. With pleasure.”

---

Cassidy found himself walking back towards the motel along the road, the sky turning light orange on the horizon. The further he walked and the closer he got to the motel, the greater a sense of dread grew inside him. He shook his head, trying to clear it of the fog that plagued his thoughts. It felt like coming down from a high, but he couldn’t remember taking anything. Not today anyway. He had been walking down the road, walked off the road, and now he was back on the road again. But clearly hours had passed somewhere in there.

He frowned. There was a pit in his stomach and something felt off but he couldn’t place it- an untethered feeling that made him feel unstable. He didn’t like it.

Cassidy bounded up the steps and reached the shadows of the building just as the sun rose. He gently opened the door and stepped into the dimly lit room. The second he entered Cass gasped and bit down on his hand to stifle a growl. The smell of Jesse and Tulip’s blood pumping through their veins was overpowering in a way he had never experienced before. They were tangled together in bed, deep asleep, and Cass felt the overwhelming need to jump them both and rip into their throats.

Yeh could do it before they even woke up. Painless.

Cass gagged against his hand at the thought and bolted out the door. He skidded as he stepped outside and nearly ran headfirst into the sunlight. His back hugged the building and he shuffled his way along the shadows until he got to the back of the motel away from the sun. Cass flopped to the ground and held his head in his hands, memories of the previous night flooding back. He shuddered as he tried to wrestle down the instincts that had been freed and amplified within him. Even from here, Cass could smell Jesse and Tulip and his mouth watered.

After a few minutes, Cassidy finally leveled out and rubbed his face with a shaking hand.

“Yer fucked alright mate. Royally bloody fucked.”

Chapter Text

One Week Earlier

Every day was a struggle. Every minute of every hour was a deliberate, conscious choice to not kill Jesse & Tulip. His teeth ached with the need to tear into them. It was like barbed wire had laced around his bones, constantly pricking and scraping inside, egging him into a rage. Any physical contact was almost unbearable. Every pat on the back, nudge of an elbow, brush of a hand caused electric pain to lance through him straight to his gut, stoking his constant hunger. And it was constant. No matter how many animals he snapped up or blood bags he stole, flames licked at his insides, driving him mad.

And yeh have gone off yer tits yeh know.

Cass growled under his breath, hunched into himself, and stuffed his hands in his pockets.

Yeah, cause that’ll stop yeh from reaching out an rippin’ ‘em both apart.

He pressed his lips together in a thin line and focused on breathing slow and deep. He saw Jesse watching him through the rearview mirror, giving Tulip a rest from driving while she slept in the passenger seat.

“You alright, Cass? Not gettin’ car sick are ya?” His voice was playful but his brows were furrowed in genuine worry. It set Cassidy’s teeth on edge.

He grinned, taking extra effort to keep his expression soft and as non-feral as possible. It was difficult.

“If yeh keep playin’ this shite I might. Honestly, do yeh not have any music from this decade?” His voice sounded strained and rough to his ears, but Jesse didn’t seem to notice. He huffed a laugh and flipped Cass the bird.

“Laugh it up asshole, I know the shit you like don’t pretend it’s better.”

Cass snickered half-heartedly. “Yeh keep tellin’ yerself that padre.”

He turned to look out the window and slumped further in his seat. Jesse looked at Cass in confusion at the sudden end to their conversation. Cassidy could sense that he had something on his mind, but Jesse seemed to let it go and focus back on the road. Cass sighed in relief and tried to ease the tension that was constantly seizing his limbs.

Yeh don’t belong with them mate. It’ll only end in blood and pain like always. Just leave.

Yeh gotta kill ‘em for her first though yeh promised.

I’m not fuckin’ doin’ it and I’m not goin’ back to her.

Would make everythin’ so much easier though aye? No more o’ this fuckin’shite twistin’ yeh up inside.

And it would feel good, she would make yeh forget about ‘em after and that ain’t all bad.

Just do it.

It’d feel amazin’.

All that red.

Smells like heaven-

“Cass?”

Cassidy jolted back to himself and realized the car had stopped. Jesse was turned around facing him with bemusement in his face.

“Wha?”

“I said we’re here ya moron,” Jesse smiled and leaned forward to slap his knee playfully. Cass flinched at the contact. Jesse stepped out of the car none the wiser while Cassidy sat in back and willed away the red that clouded the edges of his vision.

He uncurled his hands from the white-knuckled fists he’d had in his pockets and saw that he’d ravaged his palms bloody. At this rate, he’d barely be able to look Jesse in the eye without snapping soon. This shite couldn’t go on.

They were in some small city in Colorado, woods stretched for miles with mountains in the distance. Apparently Tulip wanted to stop at some mom n’ pop bed n’ breakfast she saw nestled off the road and Jesse was more than happy to oblige. He and Tulip were stretching outside the car when Cas finally got a hold of himself and joined them.

“Mm man! I love that smell out here, all that pine,” Tulip took a deep breath in and leaned against the car with such a genuine smile Cass couldn’t help but smile back.

“’S lovely that. Jus’ rained too so yeh get the petrichor.”

“Bless you.”

“Tha’s not- tha’ wasn’t a sneeze Tulip tha’s the smell!”

“Honestly Cass the minute I start thinkin’ I can understand ya completely.”

“S’ the smell o’ dust after rain honestly I do know things!”

“Sure ya do big guy,” Tulip patted his arm and Cass stiffened.

He had fallen so easily into their normal routine of lighthearted teasing he hadn’t realized how close they’d gotten. Her hand slid down his arm and left a trail of fire in its wake. He could feel her pulse through his jacket and the smell of her blood wafted in the air as she moved. Cassidy’s mouth watered.

“Aw darlin’ stop teasin’. Ain’t his fault he goes full leprechaun sometimes,” Jesse came up and hugged Tulip from behind, resting his chin on top of her head and they both smiled up at Cassidy.

Cassidy’s ears were filled with the thrum of their hearts beating in tandem. Together they smelled like whiskey and tobacco and jasmine and cinnamon and sun and blood and he wanted to slam them both onto the hood of the car and kiss them both messy and hot and sink his teeth in and hold them down as the red sloshed down his throat as he tore and ripped and gave in give in just give in-

Cassidy choked on the growl building in his throat.

“’Scuse me,” he barely breathed out and bolted into the woods.

He ran hard and fast through the pine trees in the deep dusk light, the tree cover thick enough to protect him. Cass tried to focus on his own labored breathing and the pound of his feet on the dirt but the echo of their heartbeats persisted in his mind. A growl rumbled unbidden in his chest.

I can’t-

Yer far enough away.

Fuck it.

The monster under his skin, always just below the surface and so much stronger since his encounter with Lydia, took full control and his vision went red. He was starving, his instincts driving him deeper into the forest where he could smell blood. Cass tore through the trees, unaware of anything besides the faint thump of heartbeats the deeper he went. He burst into a clearing and leapt onto a large buck drinking from the river. Cass was careless and graceless in his desperation as he latched onto its neck and it tried to fight him off. An antler grazed his chest, ripping his shirt and flesh underneath. Cass snarled and swung his head back and forth ferociously, yielding a sickly snap and the buck slumped lifelessly to the ground.

He drank long and deep, slightly quelling the acidic burning inside him. He had barely drained the animal when Cass heard the snap of a tree branch and felt another heartbeat reverberate through his skull. No sooner had he registered the sound than Cass was tackling the other source and sinking his teeth into its neck. He held its head down as it thrashed and gurgled and was finally still. This one tasted delicious and was like a balm for his insides. The more he drank, the more he finally felt satiated.

Cassidy blinked hard as his vision began to clear and he slowly felt conscious thought return to him. He licked his lips and tasted warm copper. With a low groan, he couldn’t help but latch back onto the neck and lick up the errant blood still trickling from the wound. Cass felt his tongue travel from smooth skin to rough stubble and he froze. He pulled back slightly to see he had been buried spine deep in a human neck.

Icy cold fear shot through him and gripped his heart.

Please don’t be him oh god please please please don’t be him.

Cass pulled back fully. He almost sobbed with relief at seeing that it was an older man with a grey beard and not a younger man with a black one, but it instantly morphed into horror and he felt sick.

He scrambled backwards and didn’t notice he was in the river until his hand slipped in silt and his head was suddenly submerged. He gasped, the icy water shocking him fully back to himself and he clawed his way back up on the bank against the current. Cass was soaked to the bone, the water had washed away most of the gore from his skin but his clothes were still stained red.

The result of his loss of control lay splayed on the ground, sightless eyes staring up at the quickly dimming light. He had a lightly lined face and crow’s feet around his eyes- he probably smiled a lot. His neck was an unrecognizable mess of meat, still steaming in the cool evening air. He was wearing a reflective orange vest over camo and Cassidy’s gaze flickered to the gun lying useless by his side. Only then did Cass become aware of the knitting of his own flesh in his shoulder and chest. Old fella must’ve gotten a shot off before Cass was on him.

He ran a hand through his hair and forced the wave of nausea down that threatened to empty his stomach.

Then it wouldn’t ‘ave even been worth it.

Anger and self-disgust flared at the thought and Cass slammed his fist into a tree.

Yeh worthless! Weak! Disgustin’! Bottom-feedin’! Sheep fuckin’-“ Cass cracked his fist against the tree again and again with each insult, wood exploding around his rapidly bloodying hand.

Waste of space evil fuckin’ piece of shite!” Cassidy hit the massive indented hole he had created one last time and stared at his mangled hand. It was a mess of broken skin and bones and hurt like a motherfucker.

Good.

He stood there silently and let it hurt. He stared at the body of the man who in no way deserved it and allowed the pain to lance up his arm even as he could feel his bones mending from the excess blood in his system.

“’M sorry mate,” Cass whispered and with one last look to burn the man’s face into his mind, he walked resolutely back where he’d came from.

As he walked, Cass became aware of a low, barely discernible two beat sound filling the forest. It was soft enough to make the eerie wilderness more haunting and the hair on Cassidy’s neck stood on end. He continued quickly onwards feeling like the sound was following him, increasing in volume. Cass reached a bend leading onto the road next to the log cabin B n’ B and was stopped short by the sight of Quinn, leaning against Tulip’s Chevelle and clicking his tongue like the tick-tock of a clock.

In one fluid motion, Cass grabbed him by the scruff of his shirt and hurled him into the road. Before Quinn could stand Cass was on top of him with a hand around his throat.

“Give me a reason Quinn, gimme one fuckin’ reason and I’ll break yer neck in two,” Cass growled through barred teeth.

“She’s gettin’ impatient Cassidy. Soon she won’t want you back anymore,” Quinn’s shark eyes glinted up at him.

Cass felt a surge of panic despite himself.

“I’m handlin’ it. Jus- jus’ give me time.”

“She’s given ya plenty. Get it done,” Quinn shoved Cass off him and stood, brushing dirt from his jacket. “Clock’s tickin’. You don’t do it, we will.” He smiled wide at Cass, “Ya got a bita blood on your face there friend.” The man turned and walked away, leaving Cass to furiously glare after him.

When Quinn had gone Cass turned towards the car and sneered at his reflection in the window. He looked horrible. He shuffled in the trunk for a fresh shirt and jacket and hoped that the dark color of his pants hid the blood stains. Once he was sure he didn’t look too alarming, he took a deep breath, stuffed his still healing hands into his pockets, and head inside.

The dining room, all rustic furniture and potted flowers, was relatively full of travelers stopping for the night. But even above the dull roar of conversation, Cass was aware of the beat of every single heart present, none more so than the two sitting in the corner as always. Cassidy forced a crooked smile and took a seat next to Jesse.

“So! Wha’s goin’ on aye?” His voice was sickly cheerful as he grabbed for Jesse’s menu, which was snatched from his grasp. Cass looked up to see Jesse staring at him, brown eyes searching his face. His smile fell when he turned towards Tulip who looked at him with a contemplative frown.

“Wha? Who died?”

Tha’s fucked mate jaysis christ.

“What happened Cass?” Jesse asked, his voice serious.

“What are yeh on about? Nothin’! Jus’- needed some air after the ride is all.”

“Did I say somethin’? Cause honestly I can get a bit stir crazy so, ya know, sorry if I was an asshole or somthin’.” Jesse’s expression was so soft it made Cassidy’s heart ache. He made Jesse think he did something that needed apologizing for and Cass couldn’t stand it.

“No! Jess, mate, no. Yeh didn’t do anythin’. It’s me own shite I’m dealin’ with. Bein’ cooped up in small spaces an’ all fer so long, right?” Cass reached over and grabbed Jesse’s shoulder, smothering his instincts at the touch with furious determination. Jesse smiled softly at the initiated contact and Cass mirrored it.

“Ya hurt your hand.”

Cass startled and looked over to Tulip, snatching his hand from Jesse and placing it in his lap under the table.

“Don’t know what yeh mean love.”

“Your hand wasn’t sittin’ right. Did ya fall?” Tulip’s tone wasn’t all accusatory, there was genuine concern there.

“’S nothin’. Don’ worry yer head over it,” Cass flapped his other hand in dismissal, earning a furrowed brow from Tulip. Before she could respond, an older women with greying red hair and a kind smile came up to their table.

“Apologies for the wait everyone. One of our cook’s called in sick today and we’ve only got one other on staff.”

“Oh that’s no worry, ma’am. It’s nice just to sit outside of a car for a bit. Are you the owner of this place?” Jesse smiled in his charming way and the woman couldn’t help but blush.

“Indeed I am young man! Me and my husband. He’s normally here to greet all the newcomers before dinner with me but he had to go out and restock our meat supply.”

Cassidy felt the bottom of his stomach drop out. The woman continued her conversation with Jesse, Tulip chiming in, but all Cass could hear was the sound of gasping and gurgling. He stood up abruptly, eliciting a yelp of surprise from the woman.

“Sorry. Not feelin’ great. Can we leave?” He looked over at Jesse’s shocked and confused face. “Please?”

Jesse turned towards Tulip who nodded without taking her eyes off of Cass. They both stood and Jesse apologized to the woman and left a tip on the table. Cass about-faced and stomped out the door, not stopping until he reached the backseat of the car, slipped in, and slammed the door behind him.

Cass curled up facing the back of the vinyl seats, knees tucked to his chest and eyes closed. He heard the front door open and close, but no one spoke. He smelled her though. Tulip seemed to watch him forever until she finally spoke.

“Jesse’s gonna sleep for a few hours in the room since we already paid for it, think he needs the rest.”

He didn’t respond.

“I don’t know what happened. I can guess, but I don’t know.”

Cass stiffened minutely.

“I…know that you deal with stuff I got no way of understandin’. I get that. But that don’t mean ya gotta deal with it on your own.” Cass heard her shift in the front seat. “We’re here. Always.”

Cass felt a gentle hand run softly through the back of his hair, so unlike the forceful and possessive way Lydia had done.

“I won’t judge you Cass. Not ever. I ain’t got the right,” she whispered, removing her hand and opening the car door. “Go on and sleep. You know where to find us if ya need anything.”

She gently closed the door and he could hear her footsteps crunching in the gravel as she left. When her heartbeat was out of earshot, Cassidy curled into himself further. His face twisted in pain as he silently wept in the darkness of the Chevelle.

Chapter Text

A Few Days Ago

Heh. Thought yeh were a mess before. Now lookit yeh.

Mmm. Dashing good looks finally startin’ to wear a bit thin.

Speak fer yerself yeh pasty bastard.

I am speakin’ fer meself yeh fuckin’ loon.

Cass giggled manically. He was sitting on the hood of the car, trying to stifle his unhinged laughter with a fist while he grasped a nearly finished bottle of whiskey in the other. Jesse and Tulip had gone inside the diner a few minutes previous and Cass was taking some time to…prep. He did that every time they stopped now and it seemed to help. Cass had created a system. Any time he was trapped in the car with them, he drank and popped pills until he blacked out. When he was in public with them, he drank and popped pills until he almost blacked out. It worked to numb the bloodlust and physically keep him docile as a lamb but did very little to aid in his quickly fraying mental state.

He was constantly at war in his own head. His psyche was ripping itself apart, desperately trying to convince him he both wanted to kill and protect Jesse and Tulip. Cass knew he couldn’t go on like this forever, but he honestly didn’t see any other option. Besides leaving them both for good or stepping out into the sun.

And yer too much of a coward fer either.

Cass downed the rest of the bottle and hopped to the ground, wobbling a bit until he found his balance. With a sniff and a tug of his jacket, he plastered on a smile and stepped into the diner. Jesse was over by the bar ordering some food and Tulip waved Cass over to their booth. They hadn’t been treating him any different since Colorado, bless ‘em, and Cass wondered if they even knew if there was anything wrong. Tulip, probably, she was a sharp one. Jesse was as thick as a brick and was unlikely to notice if Cass decided to wear a skirt let alone was fighting the constant urge to kill him.

And what a handsome brick at that.

Cas plopped down across from Tulip, smiling fondly in Jesse’s direction.

“Roll your tongue back into your head Cass someone’ll trip on it,” Tulip leaned her chin on her hands and grinned wickedly at him.

“Jus’ admiring the view, nothin’ wrong with that!”

Tulip continued to grin and quirked an eyebrow.

God she’s lovely.

Look even lovelier with her neck in ribbons.

Oh aye I’ll get ‘er a ribbon to wear, somethin’ green’d look nice.

Yeh know tha’s not what yeh meant.

I know but I’m choosin’ to ignore it.

“Cass?”

Cassidy blinked demurely, pretending he didn’t get dragged back into his ravaged mind for a second.

“Mmm jus’ thinkin’…’bout a uh- a movie I saw.”

“I swear to god Cass if ya bring up Lebowski one more time-“

“Nah not that shite. A good one. Yeh ever see ‘Moonrise Kingdom’?”

“That shitty Wes Anderson flick?”

Cass gaped at her and they fell into one of their many arguments surrounding the merits of cinema. Jesse finally came over and didn’t have a fucking clue what they were on about.

Handsome brick alright.

As they were talking, Cassidy’s gaze flickered to the front of the bar and it was like a bucket of ice water to the face. The man who Cass had previously thought was a slumped over drunk had turned to face him behind Jesse’s back, shark eyes winking at him.

A hum filled the air and Cass felt his bones vibrate as a tall blonde woman walked in with a man on her arm. She flashed him a smile that was all teeth that blazed through his alcohol soaked brain, sobering him, before she and the man disappeared into the restrooms. Cass was faintly aware of Jesse and Tulip flirting and made to bolt outside while they were distracted with each other.

“Game of pool Cass?” Jesse was suddenly standing directly in front of him and Cassidy yelped with the scent of him registering full force like a punch to his empty gut. Cass was able to subdue the flash of hunger that took him off guard with its ferocity, but he could tell by Jesse’s wide eyes that he’d noticed.

Oh, now yer fuckin’ catchin’ on tha’s great.

Cassidy forced a laugh. “Aye padre alright. Move yer arse.”

Cass walked past him and looked nervously over at Quinn, still lying against the bar and watching him discreetly. Lydia and the man, another vampire going by the smell, were still in the back. He grabbed two cues and racked the balls while his mind raced and his ears filled with a static whine. Jesse came up to him and Cass made a crack about his balls. That seemed like a calm, normal Cass thing to do.

“Yeah, I’ll pay for it later.”

That hit too close. Cass knew Lydia was here for a reason. She had brought two of her higher ups for a reason. She’d grown impatient. She was here to watch Cass prove himself to her. Or she was there to watch him fail. Either way, no one human was walking out of that bar alive if he stayed.

Cassidy’s hands shook. “Aye. Suppose yeh will.”

It felt like the longest game of pool Cass had ever played. As if fighting his instincts while three other vampires skulked around wasn’t enough, tension hung thick between him and Jesse, the kind born from both parties anticipating something.

He must know somethin’s wrong. He can tell yer off.

Finish it before he can do anythin’. Yer fast jus’ end it.

Or warn ‘im!

About meself?

Yeah warn ‘im then kill ‘im.

Tulip too.

Cass shuddered and missed the called shot.

“Shite,” he smashed his cue against the table, trying to funnel out his aggression on anything not living.

“Woah easy there,” Jesse’s chuckle rang in Cassidy’s ears. “Here take another crack at it.”

Jesse held out his cue and Cass grabbed it robotically. Jesse didn’t let go and was pulled with it, their chests bumping together. Cassidy froze and sucked in a breath. He could feel Jesse’s heart thumping furiously against his chest and Cass was deaf to anything else. He could feel his veneer cracking at the edges, the monster clawing its way out. It roared with the need to silence the preacher’s heartbeat while the part of himself that wanted to bend down and bring their lips together clung to the monster and held it back for dear life.

“Like this ya moron.” Cass blinked in shock as Jesse gently turned him around to face the table. Jesse’s broad chest leaned against Cassidy’s back and his arms draped around him. Cass was as stiff as a board, face clenched in concentration, until Jesse placed his hand on his while breathing his name in his ear.

It was like an elastic band finally snapping under strain. Cassidy had Jesse underneath him, pinning him down with all his strength and barring his teeth in his face without even thinking.

Kiss ‘im.

Kill ‘im.

Both.

“Don’t.” Cassidy managed to ground out, as much to himself as to Jesse. There was a glint of genuine fear in Jesse’s eyes and it was like a lance to his heart.

He sees yeh now.

Yeh won’t be able to fix it.

Let ‘im really see yeh then.

Rip ‘im apart like the monster yeh are.

Make the girl watch.

Cass mentally shook himself, becoming aware of that cold heady feeling filling him up again, bloodlust and pleasure blending together in his gut. He could sense Lydia watching from the shadows in the back.

“Cass what- ?” The preacher’s voice was confused and hurt and he gazed up at Cassidy with his big doe eyes.

“I said DON’T.” Cassidy’s eyes darted to Lydia who licked her lips hungrily, cold eyes glinting like chips of flint in a porcelain face. He tore his gaze from her and managed to grasp what was left of his resolve and let go of Jesse, quickly making for the exit.

“HEY! What the hell?!” Tulip was standing in the exit, hands on her hips. The minute she saw Cassidy’s face, her expression froze and fear filled her eyes. Another knife to the heart.

“Move,” he growled in her face, hating and loving how she flinched back from him. His vision was fully red now and it was a fucking miracle no one was bleeding.

“Cass?” Her soft, questioning voice drove through the mist building in his brain and Cass clung to it like a lifeline. He snarled with effort as he shoved Tulip aside and sped out the door even as he imagined ravaging her neck.

Keep movin’ just keep movin’.

She’ll kill ‘em if yeh leave.

Fuck that you’ll kill ‘em if you don’t.

He knew it was risky to leave them back at the bar alone. He knew he was betting with Jesse and Tulip’s lives that Lydia would rather chase after him than stay and finish what he somehow couldn’t. But he was at a loss for better options and the effort of holding back his instincts was becoming too much. Miraculously, it wasn’t until he reached the highway and the city was a patch of lights in the distance that Cassidy’s mind finally buckled under the strain and he collapsed into the dirt as his vision went white.

---

When he finally regained consciousness, Cassidy’s ears were ringing and his head was pounding. He groaned and sat up, unaware of where he was or why. Cass sat up straight, ears perked down the road as two voices traveled through the night. He hopped up to his feet and quietly made his way towards the headlights that lit the darkness.

Oh. It’s Quinn. Were we out here together?

Cass shook his head, trying to jog his memory. Quinn was talking to a man in black facing away from Cass. He smirked when Quinn slowly started walking towards the man, this was clearly his business and Cass didn’t want to interrupt. He was even using his glamour, the bastard. Cass hated how jealous he was of that. He’d never been able to do it himself.

Broken runt that yeh are and all.

Cassidy’s smirk fell into a frown as Quinn reached out and touched the man in black’s face. An odd reaction, that. The other vampire tilted the man’s head back and leaned in, causing the man to turn his head slightly and giving Cass a view of his profile.

Rage exploded in his skull and before he could process why Cass was full body tackling Quinn and slamming him into the ground. He snarled and wrestled with the other vampire who was still recovering from the surprise.

“That one’s mine yeh prick. And yeh just gave me my one reason,” Cassidy growled low into his ear. He bit into Quinn’s neck and with a sudden twist and pull he was rewarded with a loud snap.

Cass let Quinn’s paralyzed body slump to the ground and clambered upright.

“Cassidy?”

Cass turned towards the man in black - Jesse – and stalked towards him.

“What, yeh followin’ me now?” He responded on impulse. Cassidy felt like his mind was rebooting, reforming and scratching at the edges of his awareness.

“Oh you have NO right to take that tone with me asshole,” Jesse said, anger making his voice quiver.

He’s a brave one. Must be why yeh want ‘im for yer self.

Yeh saved him.

Yeah so yeh could kill ‘im yer self.

Don’t think so.

To prove yeh love Lydia.

Tha’s not who yeh -

Memories slammed through Cassidy, his mind’s brief attempt at self-protection dissolving.

“Yeh self-righteous bastard.” Cass grabbed Jesse by the shirt and lifted him so their faces were level. It was like seeing Jesse for the first time- dark and handsome and a little bit broken. He was a beautiful mess. Cass wished he could tell him that, but the rush of blood just beneath Jesse’s skin was already making him salivate.

“What in the-?”

“Not here,” Cass breathed, furiously grappling to maintain control. “He might wake up. I’m gonna leave now. Don’t follow me. Please.”

The air started to hum. Cass felt a surge of panic and excitement. His whole body was quivering.

Please Jess,” he begged, trying desperately to get him to leave before she got there.

“Why?”

Jesse sounded so confused and hurt Cassidy’s knees nearly buckled.

He loved it.

It made him feel powerful to control the emotions of something so weak.

Lydia will be so proud o’ yeh.

Cass closed his eyes in a grimace and swallowed thickly.

“I’m sorry. Tell Tulip.”

That sickly sweet feeling filled his veins and he knew he had seconds. He nearly groaned but silenced it by surging forward and pressing his lips to Jesse’s. The preacher was warm and tasted better than Cass could have ever dreamed of. Like Marlboro’s and Tulip-

Cass broke from Jesse and bolted. He had been so distracted he hadn’t noticed the other heartbeats and the smell of gasoline and incense circling them. He’d know that scent anywhere, those asshole vampire hunters had found him. The humming was also getting stronger and Cass ran full tilt towards it, unable to stay away any longer.

They’ll take care of Quinn.

Wha’ about Jess?

He can handle human arseholes. It’s the other’s I’m worried about.

Like me.

Cass was clotheslined by a pool cue to the throat and he fell to the ground coughing roughly. Lydia bent down and pressed a knee to his chest, grabbing a fistful of his hair and yanking hard to make him look up at her. She was flanked by at least a dozen other vampires, standing back far enough that Cass could only make out the glint of their eyes in the dark.

“I am very disappointed in you Proinsias,” her mercurial voice swept through him and he was hers again.

“’M sorry, m’lady. I don’t- I’m not sure wha-“ his words were cut off by Lydia’s vice-like grip around his throat. She stared at him with a mix of fury and confusion.

“Why didn’t you do what I asked?” There was genuine curiosity in her voice.

“I- I don’t know,” he stammered, thinking desperately for something to tell her- a reason, an explanation that didn’t sound like an excuse- but Cass was coming up empty. “I jus’- I didn’t.”

She held him for a long beat, eyes boring into his, before she was off of him in one fluid motion.

“I stayed and listened to your humans talking. I think I know why. Just not how.” She contemplated Cass as he slowly stood, rubbing his neck. “Where’s Quinn? I sent him after you.”

“I killed ‘im.”

Lydia stilled, eyes wide. “You?” She threw back her head and laughed, the sound ringing out like silver bells. “My, my you are just full of surprises now aren’t you?”

She ran her nails down his chest and Cass shivered. Her hand trailed downwards and tugged at his waistband.

“You see, I don’t give a damn about Quinn. He was just muscle, they’re a dime a dozen. But you,” she pressed the heel of her palm against Cassidy’s crotch, eliciting a whine. “You left me. You evaded me. And somehow, you refused to obey me. You. A weak little runt with no exceptional qualities.”

As she spoke she loosened Cassidy’s belt and slipped a hand down his pants, gripping his length. Even with her threatening and demeaning tone, her voice still sent shockwaves through him, desire coiling in his gut. Cass was frozen in place, hands clenching and unclenching. His breathing was labored and dark. She pumped once, slowly. His hips stuttered and he growled. Lydia used her other hand to grab him by the back of the neck and lean into his ear.

“I still want you with me. But now I’m going to make you suffer.” Another pump. “You won’t kill your friends?” Another. “I’ll twist you and break you and turn you into something that will.” Pump and a twist. “Hunters are taking your friends right now.” Another. “Do you care?”

“Fuck ‘em,” he snarled. Cassidy’s legs were shaking, sweat beading on his forehead from her agonizingly slow pace.

“We’re going to kill two birds with one stone.” Up and down. “Once the hunters take them, you and I and our whole family will track them down and kill them all.” Cassidy groaned and his hips jerked desperately in small thrusts.

“They have feelings for you Proinsias.” Another pump. “Feelings I think you share.” Another. “And I’m going to make you watch as they’re slowly ripped to pieces.” Another. “Will you do that for me darling? Watch all their blood gush onto the floor and lick it up like the dog you are?”

Anything,” Cassidy’s voice was low and rough and he didn’t care anymore. He was exhausted and hungry and it felt good so he let go, coming hard with a feral growl while imagining Tulip and Jesse’s blood on his tongue.

Lydia slipped her hand out of his pants and patted him on the cheek with an evil grin.

“Good boy.”

Chapter Text

Now

Tulip had hitchhiked a town over and snuck into a hotel, lying to room service that she changed her mind and wasn’t checking out while they were cleaning a recently vacated room, and collapsed on the bed until Danny arrived. She knew she’d owe Danny big time for this, sure Tulip was owed some favors but driving down to fuckville Louisiana – which is apparently where she was – and bringing her all the gear she asked for was a bit over and beyond.

“Don’t you worry darlin’. I know you’re good for it. Just make sure to come round sometime for dinner with me and the husband. Bring a shovel,” she had said with a wink. Tulip rolled her eyes and grinned as she left.

She was used to fixing herself up after jobs so she got to work straight away, opening up one of the many duffle bags Danny gave her and finding the first aid kit. Once she’d downed a fair share of pain killers, Tulip went to the shower and washed away all the grime and blood. She watched the red swirl down the drain and couldn’t stop seeing her own blood smeared on Cassidy’s face.

It wasn’t him. She firmly reminded herself. Because honestly, it hadn’t been, she was sure of it. It was in a different way than when he lost control when he got injured, this was something more. She could see it in the shadow that tainted his face, the darkness in his eyes, the cruelty and hunger and sharpness that was so unlike Cass.

And all those other people with him, they had to be vampires too right? And that woman...her voice…

Tulip shivered despite the heat of the shower. Those asshole vampires had taken Cass. Those asshole rednecks had taken Jesse. And here she was, standing in a shower staring down the drain. That flame of anger she’d kept tucked away in her gut flared and she set her jaw.

After she’d quickly cleaned herself up, bandaged her feet nice and good and stitched up her hand, Tulip turned her attention to the other bags.

“Don’t worry boys,” she unzipped one containing a haul of firearms, computer hardware, and a fuck-ton of explosives. “I’m comin’ for ya.”

---

The men’s boots splashed through the puddles in the empty streets that reflected the flickering streetlights. Jesse cautiously followed the group, all wearing black tactical gear, with Abraham and a couple of others sporting flamethrowers on their backs. The men who flanked Jesse kept throwing him nervous looks, not that they had afforded him the luxury of a gun or knife or even a particularly sharp stick. They only trusted him enough to leave him ungagged and unbound, which was fair enough, he trusted them even less. The second he found Tulip he planned to Genesis the fuck out of every last one of them, maybe literally have them “get bent” as Cass would say, who knows what they’d interpret that to mean.

Jesse sighed as the twenty odd men fanned out and marked streets as clear with military precision. His stomach was in knots of worry and the sick feeling of anxiety made his heart pound so hard he felt like his ribs might break. Abraham had said his people had lost contact with Tulip’s captors in this part of Louisiana, but so far there hadn’t been signs of much of anything. Most people, if people actually lived in this ghost town, must’ve gotten inside away from the rain. And with night falling, the emptiness against the backdrop of the retreating storm clouds and the balmy southern heat made it feel like a held breath before an explosion.

“Sir! Over here!”

Jesse instantly sprinted towards the shout, Abraham alongside him. The man who had yelled pointed at the bar he stood in front of. Blood covered the windows and the door was broken in half. Abraham grimly patted the man on the shoulder and stepped inside, holding a handheld UV light in front of him. The minute Jesse gingerly stepped over the broken wood and into the dark building, he was assaulted by the overwhelming stench of rotting meat. He coughed and covered his nose with his sleeve, taking shallow breaths through his mouth. Jesse had seen a lot in his time, probably too much, but the carnage that filled the trashed bar was enough to make his stomach roll.

Bodies were strewn about amongst broken furniture. Necks were torn to shreds and body parts were ripped off and flung into corners, leaving puddles of blood and viscera trails. Some heads were tilted so far back that their necks were folded in half, spine exposed amongst glistening red muscle, shining in the light. A few hung from the ceiling fans by their exposed intestines like obscene piñatas. Jesse heard a few men gaging and vomiting in the doorway. Abraham stood staring at something behind the bar. He turned towards Jesse, face pale with fury.

“These were good men. God-fearing men,” his voice was steady. He stepped close and pressed into Jesse’s space, making the preacher have to tilt his head slightly to look him in the eyes. “Take a good look preacher. This is the kind of evil that has taken your woman.”

Before Jesse could react, Abraham grabbed him by the back of his jacket and shoved him towards the bar. Jesse caught himself against the counter and bent forward with the force of the push while Abraham held up the UV light behind him. The violet light illuminated the body of one of Abraham’s men that had been splayed out on the floor on his back, feet pointing downwards and arms spread wide. The man had a black beard and hair. Blood was smeared into words on the wall above his head and Jesse felt his stomach drop as he read: Tell Padre I say hiya!

This is the kind of evil you’ve broken bread with.”

Jesse’s heart hammered in his chest and he turned to see Abraham looking at him with that same pity as before along with his anger. Jesse shook his head, eyes wide.

“There’s no way. It ain’t what you think.”

“Come on preacher. Did you really think it was a coincidence? Your pet leaving and other vampires appearing at the same time? I told you they were hunting you, how do you think they achieved that? How did they know where to find your girl?”

Jesse felt bile rising in his throat, a static whine snowing out his thoughts. He walked outside, away from the thick, oppressive smell, his face awash with conflict.

“No that’s not- ya got it wrong there’s no way,” Jesse repeated, his voice far less firm than he’d like. Because Abraham absolutely had it wrong. That’s not how it was.

“Cass probably left because of you assholes! He didn’t want us involved or used to get to him or- “

Cass?” Abraham grimaced in disgust. “Preacher, that thing helped kill a dozen of my men. It is taunting you. Are you really so naïve as to-“

“He’s NOT like those things alright?! I swear to fuckin’ Christ if you say one more goddamn-“

“SIR!” a short man ran in just as Jesse grabbed a fistful of Abraham’s shirt. “Sir, we found a survivor.”

Abraham’s eyes went wide and he shoved Jesse away and followed the man out. Jesse glared after him and followed suit. As he walked he vacantly stared at the pavement ahead of him, the humid night air causing his black clothes to cling to his skin. He tugged at his collar in discomfort and swallowed down the nausea he felt threatening to turn his stomach. Jesse took a deep breath, paused, and closed his eyes.

“There’s no way,” he said quietly to himself. And this time, he was firm. Because it was clearly a trick, a goading from some sick fuck that knew what this would do to him. Odds were that whatever reason Cass had for leaving was tied up in all the shit Jesse found himself in now. That Irish dick would of course get a punch to the face for leaving without warning or explanation later, cause Jesse was going to find him. But first he had to make sure Tulip was safe.

“PREACHER!”

Jesse startled and his eyes flew open at the urgency in Abraham’s voice. Jesse sprinted towards the sounds of rattling chains and low groaning. He turned down an alley closed off by a chain link fence to find Abraham with his men behind him.

A skinny blonde man was on the ground in front of Abraham, a metal chain was wrapped around his neck and attached to the wall behind him, but what kept him from moving was the fact that he was missing his arms and legs. Jesse pressed his lips together and swallowed as he walked up to Abraham. There were pools of blood around the blonde, his gaping wounds sluggishly bleeding as he groaned and rough noises started to accompany his shallow breaths.

“How is he-?”

“Alive?” Abraham looked up at Jesse solemnly. “He’s been bitten.”

Only then did Jesse notice the telltale bruise and lacerations on his neck. As he bent closer to look, the blonde’s groans transformed into a snarl and he fought against his bindings, mouth foaming and teeth bared. Abraham sighed.

“He was left here for a reason preacher. They wouldn’t just kill everyone and turn one just to leave him. Ask him why.”

A beat passed and Jesse nodded. He knelt down to the blonde’s eyelevel.

Why did they turn you?

He stilled and his wild eyes focused on Jesse.

“For fun,” he growled.

That’s it?

“And to send a message.”

What’s the message?

The blonde licked his lips. “They’re waiting for you in New Orleans. Her worship is particularly looking forward to meeting you, Jesse. She’s heard a lot about you.”

Jesse’s brows drew together, alarms going off in his head.

How do you know my name?

The blond grinned a gap-toothed smile that somehow looked sinister within the shadow that contorted his features.

“Your woman screamed it.”

Jesse lunged forward and slammed his fist into the man’s face. He lifted what was left of the man’s body off the ground and slammed it into the wall as he yelped in pain. Abraham jumped to his feet and his men moved to draw their guns, but he held out a hand to stop them and watched Jesse intensely.

WHAT HAPPENED TO TULIP?

“She escaped while we were being attacked,” he choked out through gritted teeth. “I found her and chased her down here but we were ambushed. A dozen of ‘em. One of ‘em talked like it knew her.”

An iron vice was slowly constricting Jesse’s chest and he felt like the edges of his vision were going white.

WHERE IS SHE?” The power of Genesis roared in the emptiness of the night and the vampire hunters shuffled back from him reflexively.

“She’s dead.”

It felt like the earth dropped out from underneath Jesse and something shattered inside him, leaving a howling vortex. His mind was blank and all he was aware of was the howling. Jesse blinked and realized he’d dropped the man and had fallen to his knees. The blond was whimpering weakly and looking at Jesse with a horrified expression. He turned towards Abraham’s men and saw mirroring expressions. Jesse felt like someone else was piloting his body, making his face into a thunderous mask of rage as he watched from above.

Jesse leaned forwards again, and this time the blonde cowered back from him.

Who did it?” his voice sounded strangely soft and calm.

“The mick. Tall, tattoos, smile like a Cheshire cat,” he held up his hands in defense and flinched away from the preacher.

Jesse was still as a statue. He finally nodded and stood abruptly. He stepped back and turned towards Abraham with a neutral expression.

“What are ya gonna do with this?” he gestured to the blonde.

Abraham’s expression was just as stoic. “What we do with all of them.”

Jesse nodded. “Then get to it.”

He turned and walked out of the alley without a glance back even as screams and the smell of burnt flesh filled the air. He walked and walked without direction, lighting up a cigarette and taking a long draw, blowing smoke up to the moon. Jesse stood at a corner at the edge of the deserted town and stared at the neon lights of the gas station sign. After a time, he felt someone walk up and stand next to him. Jesse took another drag.

“I am truly sorry,” Abraham said.

“Yeah.”

“I…hope you understand that I would have never wanted-“

“I don’t give a fuck what you wanted,” Jesse snapped. The howling was subsiding and he was slowly settling back inside his skin. “If it hadn’t been for you we would’ve been together. I could’ve-“

“You would have been killed along with her.”

Jesse turned and eyed him coolly. “Whether that’s true or not, y’all are gonna have a reckoning when the time comes.”

Abraham began to open his mouth but Jesse held up a hand. “Don’t worry. Now ain’t the time. Enemy of my enemy right? I’ve got other things I wanna do first, and I need you and your boys alive for that. Unless ya don’t want to complete your holy mission?”

Abraham blinked. “You…you’re still going to help us?”

Jesse’s eyes reflected the glowing embers of his cigarette. They had turned hard and cold but the yawning cavern inside him was sparking and a boiling rage was filling the chasm.

“With my help, you’ll be able to kill every last one of those motherfucking monsters. Except one. You’re gonna leave him to me.”

Chapter Text

In the end, tracking the bloodsuckers didn't prove to be all that hard. It was easy as sin, actually. All Tulip had to do was keep the police scanner she got from Danny on and follow the trail of bodies. It was a bit boring, if she was being honest, hitching from motel to motel just to sit for hours waiting for reports of “animal attacks”, but she had to admit her body needed the rest. Even two days out from her 5k of hell, Tulip was still sore as fuck. At least her feet were healing up nicely.

She sat cross-legged on the bed, cleaning her guns and fiddling with a small black transponder-like device. The police scanner crackled and spit random chatter which Tulip mostly ignored as she worked. Her hand slipped as she pried the black box open and the sharp edges dug against the stitches in her palm. Tulip hissed and held up her hand - stitches didn’t tear thank fuck – but her hand was still a violent shade of purple surrounding the wound.

Well, at least I’ve got a matchin’ set.

Tulip gingerly touched her neck where Cassidy had “bitten” her. An ugly black and blue bruise had bloomed and spread up the right side of her neck even as the red indents from his teeth had faded.

Good thing Jesse ain’t here. He’d blow a fuckin’ gasket.

She grinned softly despite herself at the thought of Jesse’s face if he saw her with such an outrageous hickey, especially one he hadn’t given her.

His eyes would bug out of his skull and he’d go to punch Cass in the face. But Cass would be all wide-eyed and play innocent, talkin’ a mile a minute and say somethin’ that makes Jesse snort, and Jesse’d kiss him just to shut him up. Cassidy might jump up and wrap his legs around Jesse’s waist, tangling his long fingers in his hair. They’d get all hot and bothered and maybe they’d start ruttin’ against each other, only to see Tulip watching and smile, reaching out for her to join.

Tulip sighed heavily and the image faded. She used to imagine scenarios like that, when they were on the road together 24/7. It was just a harmless fantasy she indulged in every once in a while, she hadn’t dreamt to hope that it would be something that could actually happen, the three of them together. But Cass and Jesse had grown closer and she and Cass had as well and – well it had started to seem more plausible. Then it felt fucking inevitable. Until a few weeks ago anyway. And it made her furious. How dare the universe give her a taste of what she could have, something she didn’t realize she wanted more than anything until it was snatched away from her. It was bullshit.

And those asshats responsible are gonna pay.

Tulip’s attention perked as the scanner crackled with reports of another attack. Off the highway of New Orleans, sounded like. The trail was too obvious to be accidental and there was no way they were that careless. Those vampires weren’t hiding, they hoping to be tracked. Tulip smiled coldly and packed up her shit.

Ready or not, here I come.

---

The bass pounded through his chest and multicolored lights swirled around him. Cassidy couldn’t discern any actual melody, his world was entirely comprised of the loud beat filling his head and the pleasure that now constantly thrummed through his veins. Sure, Lydia had been mad at him for acting without her permission, for botching an easy kill and having to leave in a hurry, but he was gonna make up for it if it was the last thing he did.

Did that lass die in the street?

Cass remembered biting and he remembered blood, but it felt like a piece of his memory was missing. He shook off the thought that threatened to dampen his high and went back to burying his teeth deep into the neck of the DJ as his music played on without him. Cass had found a club in New Orleans, one of those underground things that moved to different warehouses every night, popular with the children of the privileged with too much time and money on their hands.

Seems they’d finally run out of time.

The dancing had been replaced with running and thrashing in an instant, screams going unheard amongst the smoke and lights and music. No one on the outside would be any the wiser.

Should yeh feel bad about tha’?

Nah.

How could he feel bad when Lydia smiled at him and praised him for his hard work?

“Well done Proinsias. This is a step in the right direction, but you have much further to go,” Cass remembered her saying. Even the memory of her voice thrilled him, exciting him to the point where he realized he was rubbing a semi against the corpse of the DJ who was nearly drained dry.

Well fuck. That was the last one.

He tossed the body to the side and adjusted himself before hopping down from the raised walkway that served as a stage nearly twenty feet up. Since rejoining Lydia, Cassidy had more human blood in his system than he’d had in a long long while, lending an extra buzz to his already blissed out headspace. There was something buried deep inside him though. Something muted and weak kept scratching against the surface of his mind, trying to tell him something, but it was like grabbing at smoke. It refused to go away, that barely noticeable itch, and it was starting to irritate him.

Maybe it’s the lass yeh left fer dead.

Cause yeh didn’t have time to finish her off?

Or did yeh?

Fuck this.

Cassidy walked through the dance floor, some “dearly departiers” (heh!) still being drained by vampires who warned him away with hisses and growls, but he didn’t pay any attention to them as his focus was entirely on Lydia. She lounged against a pile of bodies as elegantly as if they were a throne, the lights and smoke playing off her features and somehow making her even more ethereal in her beauty. She dropped a dead boy to the floor and licked her lips as Cass approached, his head bowed.

A beat passed.

“Is there something you wanted darling?” Lydia purred, carefully wiping the corners of her mouth and sucking the blood from her fingers. Cass stared at her mouth while his hung slightly open.

“Proinsias.” Her voice was sharp this time. Impatient. Cass jolted and stuttered.

“Yes! Yes sorry- sorry m’lady I uh- well I was hopin’ yeh could jog me memory a bit. Yeh see, it’s been botherin’ me an’ I can’t shake the feelin’ I’m forgettin’ somethin.”

Lydia quirked an eyebrow, but her eyes were cold and her expression calculating. “Go on.”

“Back in tha’ wee town. When I talked outta turn - which, again, I’m a right bastard I’m so sorry – but then I chased after that lass an’ – an’ then yeh were there givin’ me a talkin’ to. But there’s a middle bit there that I’m missin,” Cass spoke a mile a minute, hands gesticulating wildly, desperately trying to make himself understood. “I – I think there’s somethin’ wrong with me.”

“Oh darling no! You’re perfectly all right there’s nothing wrong with you,” Lydia reached up to grab his arm and pulled him down to sit slightly below her so she could run her fingers through his hair. He sighed and shivered.

“You’ve been away for so long, lonely and sad with only humans for company, it’s natural that you would have a hard time readjusting to being happy with your own kind.”

Cass hummed in agreement.

“You killed that girl. You were trying to impress me and ripped her throat out. I saw her go still as we left and sent others to dispose of the body later.”

That itch rose up in Cassidy’s mind and he frowned. “Why’d yeh clean up the body? We musta killed a dozen people on the way here and yeh said to leave ‘em.”

Lydia’s fingers tightened in his hair and he whined.

“How do you keep doing that?” She growled under her breath.

“Wha?”

Lydia wrenched his head around to look directly into her eyes.

“Don’t worry about it,” she purred, her voice like silk. “Everything I do, I do for you and this family. I would never lie to you, would I darling?”

Never, m’lady,” Cassidy’s eyes darkened and the thought once again slipped through his fingers. “I remember now. Lass tasted like heaven.”

Lydia’s spine suddenly stiffened, head quirked slightly as if listening through the loud music. She sniffed and a slow grin spread on her face. She cupped Cassidy’s face who looked at her with a mix of reverence and lust.

“Tell me again, Proinsias, what did that human bitch taste like?”

Cassidy’s brows briefly furrowed in confusion at the “again” part, but she was looking at him with such interest and excitement he leaned back against her and growled deep in his chest.

“She was lovely, right? Like – like sunlight. Marlboros and them fruity drinks with the umbrellas,” – Tha’ seems oddly specific – “All that just rushin’ under tha’ pretty brown skin,” – Is that wha’ color her skin was? – “Tasted like – uh – like flowers,” – Tulip -

A shout echoed over the music before Cassidy could grasp onto the name and it drifted out of his mind. Gunshots ricocheted through the warehouse and grenades rained down from the rafters in the middle of the dance floor. Lydia jumped up and grabbed Cass by the collar, hurling them both behind a pillar as the grenades went off in a flash of UV light, violet reflecting in the smoke. Cass shielded his eyes against flames erupting from the vampires that didn’t move quick enough. The music came to a sudden halt while more gunfire and screams echoed against the steel walls. Cass looked back at Lydia with a questioning look.

“Kill them,” she ordered as she melted into the shadows. Cassidy’s face contorted in a feral smile and he launched himself into the fray.

---

Even if that man they’d left behind hadn’t told them where to find the rest of his hive, finding them would have been all too easy. There were reports of “animal attacks” and exsanguination like a trail of bread crumbs leading to New Orleans. Abraham was over the fucking moon about it and his men were practically chomping at the bit to get started with the killing, but Jesse felt like he was going to be sick.

In the few days that had passed since he learned about – well – it had been like his insides had transformed to roiling molten lava. He couldn’t think too much on the task at hand, about what had happened and who was responsible, otherwise his rage was at risk of fizzling out and being replaced with the cold indifference of defeat and he’d go curl up in a bottle in some bar and never come out. That wouldn’t do, he had a mission to complete first. And so he trudged on with the band of zealot vampire hunters and found himself scoping out some kind of makeshift nightclub in a warehouse in New Orleans.

There was no shortage of high ground, catwalks and rafters laced through the upper part of the building that were accessible from the skylight on the roof. Abraham, Jesse, and over a dozen men suited up for combat dropped quietly into the smoky, rainbow lit room, their movements masked by the throbbing music. Jesse held a pistol in front of him as he climbed into the rafters and shimmied along the side, cold eyes sweeping the dancefloor for his target. His face was a mask of stone, no expression beyond determination. He finally spotted who he was looking for, lounging at the feet of a blonde woman sitting against a mound of bodies.

Jesse held up the gun and found that his hands were shaking. He grimaced and tried to steady himself, looking down the sight at his target. And he couldn’t pull the trigger.

The burning fury inside was just as present, but Jesse couldn’t help the palpable sense of relief and happiness at seeing Cassidy again. Jesse shook his head and huffed in frustration. He shook himself out and held the gun up again and noticed that the woman had stilled, like she was listening for something.

The woman’s voice rang out, clear as a bell. “Tell me again, Proinsias, what did that human bitch taste like?”

And Jesse froze. Cassidy began to speak and he could hear the smile in his voice. The last piece of hope in Jesse evaporated and his head snowed out with static. He didn’t realize he was screaming in rage until Abraham’s men took it as a signal to begin.

Jesse quickly lost sight of Cassidy and the blonde woman. He swore under his breath and slipped through the rafters and onto the catwalk. He shoved the gun into the back of his pants and ran towards a ladder, only for Abraham to block the way.

“What the hell was that?!” A vein in his neck bulged. “You were supposed to use your power to immobilize them! My men took you shouting as the go ahead! You said – “

Jesse shoved past him and slid wordlessly down the ladder. The chaos was immense. Blood sprayed through the air and there were bodies on fire thrashing in the UV light. Jesse wove his way through the fighting like a phantom. He whispered for vampires to stop fighting and stay still as he walked past them, their eyes wide with horror as they froze and were immediately riddled with bullets and lit aflame. Jesse finally reached a semicircle of bodies, necks slashed open and some still gurgling. He stood tall with his shoulders back, eyes sparking, staring at the back of his best friend as he tore into the face of one of the hunters.

“Didn’t listen to ya,” Jesse’s voice was quiet, but it was steady and strong and made Cassidy freeze. The vampire turned slowly, face covered in gore, his brows furrowed in confusion.

“You asked me not to follow ya. I didn’t listen.”

Cass stepped forward slightly, like he was unsure of what to do. Only now did Jesse register how off he looked. There was something more feral, more sharp and angular, about his face, and his eyes were dark and regarded Jesse like a predator sizing up its prey. Jesse felt a thrill of fear shoot down his spine. Cass took another step and Jesse widened his stance, shifting his balance to the balls of his feet. Cassidy’s confusion melted into a smile and Jesse again felt electric fear, the metallic taste of adrenaline in his mouth. There was no warmth in the vampire’s face, it was the smile of someone who looked forward to the pain they were going to inflict. It was evil.

“Couldn’t stay away huh padre?”

“Ya got some things to answer for.”

“Yeh’ll have to be more specific mate, I’ve been gettin’ up to all sortsa mischief.”

Anger tightened Jesse’s chest and throat. “Why’d ya do it? What happened?”

Cass quirked his head. “Nothin’ happened. I just went back home is all.”

“Home huh?”

“Well yeah,” Cassidy’s brows shot up in realization and he barked out a laugh. “Yeh didn’t think I thought that fuckin’ piece of shite car was home did yeh?”

Jesse jolted back like he’d been slapped in the face.

“That how ya really feel?” Jesse’s voice had gotten softer, hurt.

Cassidy took another step forward and his cruel smile widened.

“Wha? Yeh think I stuck around cause o’ the company? Cause I felt oh so wanted? Nah mate, just needed someone with wheels.”

Jesse’s world was once again bottoming out and the static in his head was deafening.

“I thought we were more,” Jesse whispered. Wide, hurt eyes staring. Cassidy put his hand to his chin, feigning thoughtfulness.

“Aye, I had a good laugh with yeh. ‘Specially once the whole Genesis thing started, tha’ was fun. Still, once I got a good fuck outta Tulip there hasn’t been much I – “

Jesse pulled the gun and shot Cassidy in the chest before he could blink. The vampire tumbled back with a yelp and Jesse moved to stand over him with the gun pointed at his face. Cass rolled away and jumped up behind Jesse as another shot went off, and Jesse spun and shot again. This time, Cass managed to dodge it and lunged to grab Jesse’s arm. Jesse slipped away and pistol whipped him in the face with all his might as he went by. With a grunt, Cass fell once again to the floor, a large wound opened down one side of his face and one ear was bleeding. Cass shook his head and glared at Jesse.

“Yer gonna regret that,” a growl rumbled in his chest. He stood up and struck at Jesse with fluid grace. Jesse, again, wove through Cassidy’s extended limbs and brought his fist down hard in a kidney strike. Jesse threw an uppercut under Cassidy’s jaw and heard a crack before stepping back while the dazed vampire regained his bearings. Cassidy worked his dislocated jaw and snapped it back into place. Jesse watched with a sneer of disgust and Cassidy laughed.

“Yeh’ve never seen me on human blood before aye? Trust me padre, nothin’ yer doin’ is gonna last longer than a minute of two before healin’ up. Don’t mean we can’t have fun though.”

With a snarl, Cassidy leapt at Jesse who attempted to jump to the side, but Cass managed to wrap an arm around the preacher before he could retreat and slammed him down to the floor. Jesse’s head cracked against the concrete and the air was knocked out of his lungs. He coughed roughly and his vision spun. Jesse tried to get up but Cass straddled his waist and placed all his weight on Jesse’s chest, making it hard for him to breathe.

“Looks like yer friends are retreatin’ padre.” Jesse blinked. He’d been so focused on Cassidy he’d forgotten about everyone else. He turned his head to see black shapes exiting through the skylight above. The vampires still standing lurched towards them, eyeing Jesse hungrily. Jesse looked back up at Cassidy who was looking at him with an unfathomable expression. But Jesse could make out the hunger in his eyes.

“Fuckin’ finally,” Cass breathed, leaning in and nosing Jesse’s throat. Jesse tried to speak but Cass placed a firm hand over his mouth.

He struggled and thrashed, his fists raining punches against the vampire’s sides. He might as well have been hitting him with feathers for as much mind as Cassidy paid him. Cass inhaled deeply at the crook of Jesse’s neck and ran a tongue along his jugular. Jesse saw the blonde woman watching from the shadows, white teeth shining. He tried to cry out, to curse out the man on top of him, to use his power to make him burn, but Genesis was just as muffled as his own voice. With one last stilted breath, Jesse steeled himself but couldn’t help the yelp of pain at the feeling of teeth piercing his skin, and then the world went black.

Chapter Text

A thunderous boom rocked the warehouse as the back wall blew inwards in a fiery explosion. Smaller blasts echoed along the walls, vampires knocked off their feet by the force. Fire trails streaked along all the exits and up the catwalks and sounds like those of trapped animals filled the air.

Stage 1 complete, assholes.

Tulip leapt up from under the grating that led from this building to the sewer, an oxygen mask strapped to her face and a detonator clenched in her fist. She felt more than saw her way through the fucking mess she’d stumbled into and managed to make out one last black shape exiting through the ceiling.

Damn. Gonna have to get them later.

Tulip dodged behind a bunch of crates as a section of the catwalk fell in a blaze of shrieking metal. She sprayed bullets from a pistol in one hand and fire from a blowtorch in the other. Several shapes flailed and screamed as she made her way through the chaos.

“PROINSIAS! Come, we have to go!”

Tulip’s head whipped around towards the familiar voice, harsh and somehow carrying over the sound of the blaze she’d created. She leapt over the wreckage and poked her head out from behind it, blowtorch held in front of her at the ready. When she finally made out shapes in the smoke, Tulip nearly dropped her weapons as panic seized her.

Jesse was lying on the ground, eyes closed and clothes torn, blood pooling under his head. Cassidy was standing over him, back to her, but Tulip could see his hands were covered in blood and shaking uncontrollably. He leaned forward slightly, like he was trying to get a better look, and his hands suddenly stilled. A beat passed and then he lurched away and doubled over out of Tulip’s sight, but she could hear him retching.

“For fuck’s sake! MOVE YOU IDIOT,” that metallic voice shrieked in harmony with the melting beams.

Tulip’s limbs finally decided to listen to her screaming brain and she sprinted from her hiding place, not caring to check if there were any vampires left. She slid to her knees in front of Jesse, eyes wide with fear.

“Fuck fuck fuck,” she repeated under her breath as her hands quickly checked his vitals. His heart beat was fast and shallow, as was his breathing, and he was losing blood in a steady stream from a gaping wound in his neck.

“FUCK!” Tulip shifted up and gently lifted his head into her lap. She chanced a look around to see how much time she had before the entire building collapsed – the answer was not a lot. Tulip bit her lip and braced Jesse’s head with one hand.

“Sorry baby. Ok, ok here we go,” Tulip tore Jesse’s sleeve and wrapped the cloth around his neck, tying it off gently, but firmly to staunch the bleeding. She shifted her body so she was under his chest with his arm draped over her shoulders.

“Oh you’re gonna owe me so many back rubs,” Tulip gritted out. She took a couple deep breaths then lifted with her knees and a primal cry, managing to get to her feet while supporting Jesse’s dead weight.

She shuffled slowly through the wreckage, soot coating her throat and sweat beading on her brow. Tulip would have to remember to thank Danny for thinking to include an oxygen mask with the fire-starter kit. Always with the foresight, that woman. Tulip finally managed to make it to the grate and lowered herself down first before pulling Jesse in with her, barely managing to support his falling weight before dropping him into the damp of the sewer. Tulip looked back up through the hole at the orange glow and brought one final detonator out of her pocket and pressed. The ceiling rumbled and dust drifted down from the concrete as the rest of the building went down in flames.

“Ashes to ashes fuckers.”

Jesse started coughing roughly on the floor and Tulip immediately fell to his side, ripping of the mask she wore and placing it on his face.

“There ya go baby its ok. Just breathe. Just breathe,” Tulip ran her fingers through his hair and shrugged off the tank on her back and put it on him. She half carried, half dragged Jesse - who incredibly still remained unconscious – out into the street and into her “borrowed” car. She drove a bit to make sure she wasn’t being tailed, then when she made it to the hotel she was squatting in on the outskirts of the city, she used a luggage cart and some well-placed blankets to sneak him up to her room.

Thank god it’s 3am. Be a bit hard at noon.

Once the door was closed, Tulip took a deep breath of relief and fell onto the bed next to Jesse.

“How in the hell are you not awake yet?” Tulip grumbled. She felt his pulse again and it was just as rapid and shallow as before. She frowned and studied his face, contorted in pain, and again ran her fingers through his hair. Only this time, Tulip noticed the cold sweat and the heat rippling off his skin. She held a palm to his forehead and snatched it back with a hiss. Jesse felt like he was on fire.

Goddamn it, last thing we need is an infection.

Tulip grabbed her first aid kit and gently unwrapped the cloth from Jesse’s neck. The wound was dark and dirty and immediately started sluggishly bleeding again. Tulip set to work cleaning up the mess to see if it needed stitches, then froze.

Oh god. I’m such an idiot.

She had thought it had been a knife wound, maybe a gunshot. Maybe a stray piece of debris had hit him. The alternative and most obvious cause hadn’t even occurred to her until she was able to make out the ring of incisions and blooming purple bruise in the center. Tulip stared at it in horror and her hand subconsciously rose to touch her own mark.

“Oh no.”

---

Jesse slowly came to, his vision blurry and head pounding. His teeth chattered and he tried to curl into himself, but found that his arms and legs were tied down. He pulled and strained and tried to free himself, but a gentle hand on his shoulder made him pause. As he blinked and tried to focus, Jesse huffed out a laugh that turned into a rasping cough.

“Woah, easy baby. Just stay still its ok. I’m here,” a voice prettier than a choir of angels soothed him while the woman it came from wiped his brow with a damp cloth.

“Fuck he killed me,” Jesse’s voice was rough and he shivered against a phantom chill. “I guess that’s alright. I was done. At least now I’m with you.”

Tulip leaned over him and cupped his cheek, Jesse leaned into the touch.

“You’re not dead Jesse. You’re fine,” there was an odd waver in her voice.

Jesse shook his head, earning him a ringing in his ears. He squinted up at Tulip.

“Of course I’m dead. How else would you be here?”

“What do you –“ Tulip’s eyes widened. “Did you think I was dead?”

Jesse felt a lump rising in his throat. He stared up at her with unfocused eyes, half afraid that if he blinked she'd disappear.

Tulip’s face softened. She bent over and kissed him deeply. He melted underneath her and tried to blink away the embarrassing pinprick of tears. She pulled back and stroked his face.

Jesse cleared his throat. “You’re…you’re not dead.”

“No.”

“You’re here.”

“Yes!”

“You’re sure?”

Tulip laughed and bent to kiss him again, but Jesse grimaced and his body shuddered. Tulip’s brows furrowed and she pressed her lips together in a thin line. She squeezed his hand and stepped back, his fingers stretching out to maintain contact as long as possible before her hand slipped out of his.

“Tulip – what – “

“Just breathe Jesse,” Tulip white-knuckled the cloth in her hands. Jesse blinked in confusion.

“What’s wro- “ Jesse was cut off by a spasm rocking through his body. Sharp pain shot down his limbs and wrapped around his insides. It felt like acid was churning inside his stomach, burning everything away and leaving him hollow. The pain ebbed for a moment and he looked over at Tulip with fever-bright, wide eyes. She hadn’t moved an inch and continued to watch him with a calm, steady gaze.

“It's ok Jesse. It’ll be over in a sec.”

A whimper escaped from his lips and the sharp pain took hold again, his muscles seizing and back arching up from the bed. The hollowness was the worst part. It begged for something to satiate the gnawing burning inside him and Jesse became aware of low, rumbling sounds from deep within his chest accompanying his shallow breathes. He grimaced and closed his eyes, trying to will the sounds away, only to notice another sound. Deep, wet thumping filled his ears and a warm, delicious smell wafted through the air making his mouth water. Something raw and strangled ripped through Jesse’s throat and he could feel his lips curling back. A white flash filled his vision and burned through his brain and suddenly everything stopped. Jesse collapsed onto the bed slick with sweat, gulping in air like a drowning man.

After a moment, Tulip cautiously stepped back over and sat on the bed next to Jesse and started wiping his forehead again. Jesse continued to pant and tried to reset his expression into something that wasn’t fearful.

“What- what was that?”

Tulip paused and closed her eyes. She inhaled deeply before looking Jesse in the eyes.

“Do ya remember what happened before ya got here?”

The memory of dark eyes and a cruel smile flashed through his mind and he remembered a sharp pain in his neck. Jesse’s eyes widened and fear lanced through him.

“Oh.”

“Yeah.”

Jesse licked his lips and nodded.

“So,” he cleared his throat again. “This mean I’m turnin’?”

Tulip scrubbed her face with her hand and studied him.

“Honestly, I don’t know. Do ya…feel any different?”

Jesse breathed deep through his nose and smelled nothing but the clean linen sheets and heard nothing but the hum of the AC. He breathed out through his mouth and shook his head.

“Not right now. I did for a second but…I don’t know. It passed.”

Tulip frowned and raised an eyebrow like she didn’t believe him. Jesse shrugged, an attempt at nonchalance.

“I feel like I’ve got the flu…but I don’t wanna eat ya. Not like that anyway.”

That earned a snort from Tulip and the tension in the room melted. Jesse grinned.

“I’ve just been treatin’ it like you’re sick. Cold compress, blankets, medicine. Otherwise, I’ve got no fuckin’ clue what to do.”

“Makes as much sense as anything else.” Jesse went to sit up and remembered the bindings on his wrists and ankles. His expression filled with horror.

“Fuck Tulip. I’ve been…tryin’ to hurt ya haven’t I?”

Tulip sighed. “It was mostly for your safety, you’ve been havin’ fits somethin’ awful. But…there may have…been some growling and um…other things that also lead to me doin’ that.”

Jesse felt his face flush with shame and he looked down so Tulip couldn’t see the wetness in his eyes. “I’m sorry.”

“You’ve got nothin’ to be sorry for baby,” Tulip reached out and held his hand. “You know, it might actually be a good thing. I’m not positive, but I think your fits are gettin’ shorter. It’s like…a fight’s going on inside you. Like something got in, like an infection does, and then something else has been fighting it off.”

Jesse stared at her for a moment. “Genesis?”

Tulip shrugged. “That’s my theory anyway. Or my hope, I guess. Maybe it doesn’t want its home changin’ too much.”

Jesse nodded. “Either that or…or I’m gonna wake up…very…,” exhaustion starting to seep into his muscles. His eyes started to droop.

“Yeah, I bet you’re tired,” Tulip brushed a strand of hair out of his face. “Go back to sleep, let’s hope you’re all better in the morning.” Her loving smile was the last thing he saw before Jesse fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.

---

Tulip continued to place fresh cold washcloths on his forehead and monitor his vitals as he slept. A day passed without change or incident and Tulip finally allowed herself to close her eyes while she sat in a chair next to the bed.

She was startled awake and fell backwards onto the floor with a curse as Jesse began to shudder and growl again, his face contorted in pain. But as quickly as it had started, Tulip swore she saw something shift inside of Jesse and he relaxed, inhuman growls faded into deep breaths and the sheets beneath him became soaked in sweat. Tulip rose a shaking hand to his forehead and smiled wide – his fever had broken.

Nearly half a day and a much needed shower later, Tulip was sitting on the floor of the living room, painting her nails while the police scanner crackled in the background when Jesse stepped into the room in nothing but his boxer briefs and the bandage on his neck, bedhead on in full force. Tulip's smile near lit up the room.

“Well good mornin’ sunshine! Or evenin’. You’ve slept for about two days and I haven’t been outside.”

Jesse stared down at her like Tulip was something unbelievable before swiftly picking her up and kissing her like he hadn’t seen her in years, tongue wanting and claiming her mouth. Tulip wrapped her legs around his waist and kissed him back, her hands gently holding the sides of his neck and feeling his pulse, strong and steady.

Tulip pulled away and placed her forehead against his. “You ok?”

“I’d assumed since ya untied me you had come to that conclusion yourself,” Jesse went to nuzzle her chest. Tulip laughed and tugged gently on his hair to get him to look at her. His eyes were bright and focused and his cheeks were pink as he smiled warmly.

“Baby, I’m a fully functioning, red-blooded human American who thought his girl was dead and would very much like to thank her for savin’ his life.”

He kissed along her jawline and nuzzled her neck, making his way back down to her chest while he carried her into the bedroom and fell with her onto the bed. Tulip laughed as he made a show of kissing down her body, mouthing her breasts over her shirt and shimmying down to slip her shorts and underwear off.

“You know, I had to carry ya out of a burning building,” Tulip breathed when he crawled back up to kiss her on the mouth again.

“Whew darlin’ you sure do know how to make a man hard,” Jesse grinned, retracing his trail down her body with his mouth and earning a shiver and sigh from Tulip when he kissed up each thigh and licked a stripe through her folds again and again. Jesse wasn’t a stranger to oral, but it was like he was fucking worshiping her and Tulip already felt the heat pooling in her core. His tongue probed her and pushed against her clit in just the right way, swirling and probing and licking up and down before repeating again. Slowly, purposefully.

Fuck Jesse,” Tulip moaned, grabbing a fistful of his hair and pulling him closer, urging him to pick up the pace. Jesse brought a hand up to continue rubbing at her clit while he focused his mouth completely on her g-spot, tongue thrusting in and out and rubbing so close.

“Jesse, baby, please, I- I can’t,” she forced herself to push him back as her thighs quivered, eyes hooded. “Get inside me now.”

Jesse smiled wolfishly and slid out of his briefs fully erect, pre-cum beading at the head. Tulip grinned. “Handling yourself while you were supposed to be focused on me huh Custer?”

“Aw you don’t mind,” he crawled up onto Tulip again and slid inside her with a moan. He kissed her messily and she could taste herself on his tongue. Jesse thrust into her, trying to keep the rhythm slow and even, but Tulip was already halfway gone, toes curling and nails clawing at his back.

“Jesse, god Jesse– “ Tulip felt the pleasure rising, her body trembling. Jesse picked up the pace, slamming into her and moaning her name like a prayer against her neck. Jesse reached down and rubbed her clit with his thumb in time with his thrusts, earning him a shout as Tulip came, clenching around him as wave upon wave of pleasure crashed over her and her vision blurred. Jesse’s rhythm stuttered and he groaned and Tulip reached up and grabbed him, pulling him in for a kiss and he came hard with a yell that was muffled by Tulip’s mouth.

He collapsed half on top of her, both of them breathing heavily. Jesse pulled out and cleaned himself up before lying back down next to Tulip and holding her. Tulip sighed and leaned against his chest.

“You’re welcome,” she said. Jesse barked out a laugh and hugged her closer.

“I love you so much,” he kissed the top of her head. She shifted to look up at him.

“Until the end of the world baby,” she smiled.

Chapter Text

Jesse and Tulip lay in each other’s arms for a long while, comfortable and at peace in each other’s presence. Jesse traced Tulip’s sternum, his fingers brushed up and across her collar bones. She hummed happily and stretched luxuriously. He frowned as he noticed the bruises covering her body for the first time. He had been so…preoccupied before that he hadn’t noticed and he again felt that hot bloom of guilt. Jesse gently ran his hands over her body, inspecting the patchwork of yellow and green and purple. Tulip twigged to what he was doing and quirked an eyebrow.

“Jesse I’m fine. Honest. I’m a big girl, I can take my licks.”

“Oh darlin’ I know. I can still be a little protective though can’t I?”

Tulip pursed her lips. Jesse leaned in and pecked them with a kiss, earning a huff from Tulip who smacked him with a pillow and tried to suppress a smile.

“Come on Jesse, be serious. I can handle myself, don’t treat me like I can’t.”

She turned to sit up and she felt Jesse firmly grasp her wrist. Tulip looked back to see Jesse glaring hard at her neck. Tulip’s heart leapt.

“Oh. That. Ok now before you – “ Tulip yelped as Jesse lifted her to sit on his lap and gently turned her chin to trace the fading black and blue mark Cassidy had given her. Jesse brought his other hand up to his own neck to touch the bandage there.

“He get you too?” Jesse’s voice was taunt and low.

“Yeah but – no – Jesse, it wasn’t like that – “

“Wait. Wait,” Jesse pulled back from examining her neck and looked at her curiously. “How are you not, ya know…” He barred his teeth and made a grr noise complete with hand gestures.

Tulip gave him a withering look. “Jesse it ain’t an actual bite.”

Jesse’s brows shot up and he leaned in to look again closely. “….oh.”

Tulip rolled her eyes. Jesse leaned back against the pillows and closed his eyes in a frustrated huff.

“I’m very confused.”

“Well, maybe let’s try talkin’ about it?”

Jesse nodded without opening his eyes.

“So…wanna fill me in on what you’ve been up to?”

Jesse chuckled morbidly and shrugged. “Got kidnapped by vampire huntin’ religious vigilantes. Their leader’s a guy named Abraham. Probably ex-military or somethin’. Told me they had taken you and if I didn’t help them they’d kill ya.” He took a deep breath, and opened his eyes to look at Tulip. “They told me the hive we were huntin’ got you – oh hive is what a group of vampires is called I guess – and then when we tracked down where they last heard you were…we found a fuckin’ slaughter.”

Tulip chewed on the inside of her cheek. “Was it that tiny ass town upstate?” Jesse nodded. “Yup, that’d be where this happened.” She gestured to her neck. “The uh…hive? Eh I don’t like that, makes me think of wasps,” Tulip shuddered. Jesse grinned at her in amusement.

“Dozens of vampires and men in military gear and she doesn’t bat an eye. A single wasp, though- “ Tulip hit him again with the pillow.

“As I was sayin’. The group of vampires came at me cause they were after the racist dipshit I was with. Cass was with them but, I don't know. Something was seriously off. I've never seen him so – “

“Evil?”

Tulip frowned. “It wasn’t him Jesse. Not really. When it was just me and him, it was like he was able to wake up a little bit. He did this to pretend he’d killed me so the rest of ‘em would leave me be,” she gestured again to her neck. Her expression hardened and Jesse felt a thrill go up his spine at the anger that rippled off her.

“It’s that woman. She did something to him.”

“You saw a woman? Blonde?”

Tulip sat up straighter. “Yeah.”

“I saw her in the warehouse. Cass was at her feet like a fuckin’ dog.” Jesse thought for a moment. “Abraham said that vampires have queens. Like bees. All the other ones have to listen to ‘em.”

“Well FUCK Jesse that’s what’s goin’ on! He probably can’t fuckin’ help it! I bet it’s like ten times stronger than what that one vamp did to you that one night when Cass first ran off!”

Jesse stared down at a spot on the bed with his brow furrowed.

“Jesse?”

He didn’t look up at her until Tulip leaned in and lifted his chin. His eyes were red rimmed but dry of tears. Jesse’s face was crumpled into something like disgust.

“I’m a fuckin’ idiot.”

“What?”

“I am. I’m a fuckin’ hotheaded idiot.” He laughed, an edge of self-loathing in his voice. “The minute Abraham mentioned queens I should’ve known. I should’ve known the vampire they left behind was bait, I should’ve known he only said what he thought was true, and I should’ve known it was a fuckin’ trap.”

Tulip let him vent, hand on his knee.

Jesse sighed. “And really, I shoulda twigged there was something wrong weeks ago.”

“That one’s on both of us Jesse. I didn’t notice either.”

“Was it cause he was good at hidin’ it or are we just that thick?”

“Bit a both I think.”

Jesse rubbed his face and ran his hands through his hair. “Even if Cass is, I don’t know, brainwashed right now, I think there’s still some truth to what he said. About not feelin’ wanted. Like he wasn’t at home.”

Tulip frowned, a twinge of hurt in her eyes. “Did he say that?”

“When we were fighting.”

“You were fighting?!”

“Well yeah Tulip how did ya think I got bitten?”

“…Ya know I hadn’t thought about it. I guess I thought he snuck up behind ya or somethin’. Fuck no wonder you were knocked out for days.”

Jesse grimaced at her. “Look the point is – we need to fix this. I owe him.”

“It’s more than just owing him Jesse,” Tulip said softly.

Jesse sat quietly and nodded. There was a lump in his throat and his eyes burned.

“I treated him wrong. I didn’t say what I shoulda to him and – I spent so much time fuckin’ pussyfootin’ like a goddamn coward – now it just, it feels like it’s too late.”

Bullshit.”

Jesse startled at the force in Tulip’s voice as she hopped off the bed and stood up, eyes blazing.

“Who says it’s too late? Just cause there are vampire hunters out there probably lookin’ to kill ya and vampires who have mind-control powers, who gives a shit about all that? They don’t matter. You’ve got the word of fuckin’ God and I can deadlift a man twice my size.”

Jesse smiled despite himself.

“Like you said, we gotta fix this. So let’s get to it.”

She held out a hand to Jesse, whose smile widened as he took her hand.

---

It was worse than dying. He’d done that already so he knew. It was worse than withdrawals, worse than the hunger, worse than burning in the sun. There weren’t words to describe the pain he felt besides all-encompassing.

He had killed Jesse. He had probably killed Tulip. And yet here he was, still there, still existing. Like a fucking stain on the world that just wouldn’t come out.

Cassidy had come crashing back to awareness, that itch in the back of his mind slamming with full force into his consciousness, with his teeth buried in Jesse’s neck, blood gushing down his throat. His body had immediately rebelled in horror, his stomach turned inside out and he vomited at Lydia’s feet. She had yelled at him and cuffed him about the ears, popping both his eardrums. He was sure she continued yelling, and it still made him want to grovel at her feet and beg for her forgiveness, but even the hum and power of her presence was drowned out by the harsh, cold clarity that spiked through him.

She dragged him bodily through a hole blown in the wall of the warehouse, practically throwing him outside. When the cool night air hit his face, he tried to scramble back into the burning building, desperately screaming Jesse’s name. Lydia had hit him so hard in the face he’d blacked out. He’d woken up later in some shite abandoned hovel complete with boarded windows and musty furniture. There were only five other vampires left, nursing their wounds in the corner. Lydia stood in the middle of the room watching Cass.

“Can you hear me?”

The metallic edge of her voice still rolled through him like a drug, but it was nothing compared to the memory of Jesse’s cries of pain echoing in his head.

Cass nodded but didn’t look at her.

A heeled boot kicked out and struck him under his jaw, throwing him onto his back on the dusty floor. Lydia stood over him, blonde hair framing a face that sneered at Cass in disgust. Cassidy blinked and realized how reptilian the expression made her look, like the carefully maintained porcelain exterior was hollow and housed a snake.

“You are mine, do you understand? You will listen to me and do as I say,” she snarled. “Now, answer me, why didn’t you tell me your human had power?”

Cassidy’s throat worked to answer her, but his mouth stayed clamped shut.

She backhanded him across the face.

“Why did you stop drinking from him?”

Cass spit blood and clenched his jaw closed so tight he could almost hear his bones cracking.

Lydia slapped him again, dragging her nails across his face leaving red slashes.

WHY AREN’T YOU ANSWERING ME?!” Her eyes were wide and manic, her voice hysteric, like a spoiled child unaccustomed to not having her way. Cassidy winced against the screaming voice inside his head to do what she asked. Lydia kicked out again, her boot connecting with his nose with a resounding crunch.

Cass subconsciously licked at the blood dripping over his lips, only for the taste to trigger the memory of Jesse’s blood. Cassidy’s stomach upturned and he clambered to his knees. His arms curled around himself as he dry-heaved. Lydia stepped back and stared with a mix of fury and confusion.

“How?” she nearly whispered, partially to herself. Her eyes darted to the other vampires in the room who were watching transfixed, as if suddenly remembering they were there. She self-consciously resettled her shoulders and lifted her chin with a sniff.

“It doesn’t matter. You’ll listen to me again soon enough. You’ve done it before. We’ll work on your manners in the evening but for now, we should rest. Those hunters will most likely come back and this time, we’ll be ready for them. There won’t be any surprises like that preacher,” she addressed the room. The other vampires nodded and went off to the darker corners of the house. As they left, Lydia bent down on one knee in front of Cass who was now shivering. She grabbed his jaw roughly and lifted his bloody face, but his eyes remained downcast.

“Remember how I said I was going to make you suffer for leaving me? Tell me, am I succeeding?” she hissed. Cassidy’s expression didn’t change, but he swallowed against the lump in his throat and Lydia grinned with all her teeth. She licked a stripe up Cassidy’s cheek and he shuddered.

“Sleep well Proinsias,” she breathed in his ear before standing and striding out of the room.

Cass was frozen, kneeling on the floor. He stayed there, unmoving, until the sounds of birds signaled daybreak. Shafts of light shone through the wooden slats of the windows, specks of dust floating in the beams. His blood dripped onto the floor to mix with the dust and he stared at the light.

It would be easy. Jus’ get a spark goin’.

Then poof.

Gone.

He told his legs to move, to carry him to the door and open it wide to welcome the morning sun.

He didn’t move.

He had killed more people than he could remember. And he’d enjoyed it. He’d said things purposefully cruel because he knew it would cause pain. And it had felt good.

And now he had taken the life of the man who he –

Yeh don’t have the right to even think it mate.

Cass continued to stare at the sunbeams, eyes brimming with tears.

And he didn’t move.

Chapter Text

They prepped like they were going to war, at least that’s what it felt like to Jesse. Tulip was armed to the teeth with weapons and tech that he was honestly a little afraid to ask how she got.

“Don’t worry baby. I just have to take a trip up to Houston at some point,” Tulip had thrown him a wicked grin and a wink.

He’d laughed, a little nervously, and continued packing. They had a shotgun each, two handguns, a leftover block of semtex, the police scanner, and a little black box with a thin loop of rope attached to it.

“What the hell is this?” He held it up and went to fiddle with the knobs on the front before Tulip slapped his hand away.

“Hey! Don’t mess with that it took forever to get right.”

“But what is it?”

“It’s ‘active noise control’.” Tulip threw up air quotes. “It basically cancels out specific sound waves by generating soundwaves with the same amplitude but different phase.”

“Where did you even – actually, no, I don’t wanna know. Why do you have this?”

“Come on Jesse, ain’t it obvious?” Tulip arched an eyebrow and patted her chest twice in sequence. Then twice again. Jesse’s eyes widened.

“It cancels out the sound of your heartbeat.”

“Smart right?”

“…Wow. That how you snuck up on the warehouse?”

Tulip nodded and scrunched her face. “That aaaand the fact that I basically rolled around in a sewer to hide my smell.”

Jesse mirrored her expression.

“The explosion and fire did a handy job of covering the sound of my breathing and movement, but I kinda shot my load. That block is all the explosive I’ve got left and I’m outta fuel for the blowtorch,” Tulip sighed. “And I only got one of those black boxes so it doesn’t really do us any good since we’re together.”

“It doesn’t hurt to have anyway. Why don’t you keep it on ya and I’ll take the semtex,” Jesse tossed the box to Tulip. She caught it and her eyes narrowed.

“And this would have nothing to do with being overprotective and taking extra precautions to keep me safe rather that yourself right Custer?”

“No! I just think it’s my turn to blow shit up,” Jesse flashed a smile.

“Uhuh,” Tulip didn’t look convinced but dropped it. Jesse let out a small sigh of relief.

“So what’s our play here? When we track the hive down again, besides the high likelihood that we’ll have to fight vampires and those hunter nutjobs, how in the hell are we gonna get to Cass?”

Tulip worried her lower lip. “The only idea I got is getting him away from that blonde woman. When he wasn’t with her he was more himself so we should target her first and separate them. Besides that…” Tulip threw up her hands.

“That’s a good place to start I guess.”

“Well excuse me Mr. Bright Ideas. You got a better one?”

Jesse blinked and opened his mouth. Then closed it. His cheeks started to turn pink.

Tulip tilted her head curiously. “What?”

“Uh…I was kinda hopin’ seeing me…and you…, ya know, alive and…unvampired…might just…I don’t know,” Jesse’s blush deepened and he rubbed the back of his neck. Tulip smiled softly and looked at him with overwhelming fondness.

“Baby, are you hopin’ his feelings for us overcome everything else?”

Jesse made a noncommittal noise and looked down at his feet.

“Oh Jesse.” Tulip wrapped her hands behind his neck and pulled him down for a kiss.

“You’re a romantic softie at heart huh?” Tulip stroked the hair at the nape of his neck. “Ya gonna give him true love’s kiss too?”

“Shut up,” Jesse somehow blushed a deeper red and stepped away to continue cataloguing their weapons as an excuse to hide his embarrassment from Tulip. She shook her head and sighed.

“I don’t mean to make fun of ya Jesse, seriously, with all we’ve been through maybe that would work. But we also gotta have legitimate, non-supernatural plans just in case.”

Jesse nodded, still averting his eyes. “I hear ya. I just…I want to avoid usin’ Genesis on him if I can. That’s not how I want us to be, ya know? Him goin’ from bein’ under someone’s control to bein’ under mine? It ain’t right.”

“You got it babe.”

Tulip zipped up the backpack, turned on the police scanner, and plopped onto the floor with a small saw and her shotgun. As the scanner crackled, she started working on the barrels while Jesse loaded his handguns. There was the nervous tension of anticipation in the air that they both noticed and looked up at each other at the same time. Jesse had gone back to his normal shade and gave her a wry smile.

“They could barely handle each of us on our own and now everyone thinks we’re dead.”

Tulip laughed. “Imagine their faces when they see us together.”

“Sons a’bitches won’t know what hit ‘em.”

---

Cass hadn’t opened his mouth for days, to speak or eat, even when ordered to. And after vomiting up most of the blood he’d had in his system, he was starving.

Yer gonna lose control and kill someone again if yeh don’t eat.

No I won’t.

But if it gets to be too much, I’ll just go fer a wee mornin’ walk.

Won’t that be lovely.

The acidic burning of hunger churned inside him and the edges of his vision were nearly permanently red, but Cass found it relatively easy to ignore. Not from a sudden gain in self-control (heh, yeah right) but from the fact that he just didn’t care. The pain he’d felt after the warehouse had melted into a cold apathy that blanketed him and seemed to dampen everything, including his ravenous hunger and Lydia’s hold on him.

Every night since the warehouse, Lydia had pulled Cass aside, away from the others. She’d whisper in his ear, trying to dig her claws back into him. When he wouldn’t respond, she’d beat him, but he wouldn’t fight back. And when that didn’t work, she’d fuck him. It made bile rise in his throat that he still responded to her touch and her voice, still craved her affection and fucked her right back.

Like yeh said, self-control was never really a strong suit.

He still followed her, watching numbly while the others decided where to go and who to hunt, but he never engaged and kept to the periphery. He’d turned into a ghost and hoped that maybe he’d just fade away.

Cass had no idea where they were anymore, he didn’t pay attention to the road signs or the people. Probably the South because, of course, but there was also so much sky that it couldn’t be anywhere else. They had found some plantation type house in the middle of nowhere, with the big wrap-around porch and balconies and pillars and shite. He guessed this place hadn’t just been abandoned, what with the blood splatter on the walls and smell of humans, but the vampires who’d scouted ahead must have thought Lydia would like it.

He vacantly watched as they presented Lydia with the still breathing patriarch of the house. The man cried and begged and Cass turned and walked out of the room with the sounds of snarling and screams fading behind him. He walked through the darkened house, the giant living room with the high ceilings making his footsteps echo. Cass walked up the spiral staircase, past a dangling chandelier, and into a hallway. Something crunched under his boot and he lifted his foot to see a toy truck. Cassidy swallowed and noticed toys strewn about the floor and a soft glow coming from one of the rooms.

Don’t look.

Don’t.

He gently pushed the door open to find a nightlight and glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling lighting the room. An open toy chest with stuffed animals lay overturned and the small bed had a tangled mess of bloody sheets on it. Cassidy squeezed his eyes shut with and a sharp inhale and backed out of the room, shutting the door behind him.

“That was you, you know.”

Cass startled and spun to find Lydia leaning against the wall behind him.

“Wh – Wha’?” Cassidy’s eyes widened in surprise at his own voice.

Lydia’s eyebrows raised. “Well what do you know, he speaks.”

She pushed herself off the wall and stalked towards him. Cass tried to step away but his back hit the closed door and Lydia crowded his space.

“You did that. Killed that little boy.”

“Wha’ are yeh – no I – I didn’t,” Cass stuttered. Lydia leaned forward and Cass turned his head in an attempt to keep her face from his.

“Of course you did Proinsias. You helped find this place, like you’ve done before. You thought I’d like it, and since you’re such a good boy, you got rid of the vermin before moving me in,” she pressed her body against his and Cass again felt bile rise in the back of his throat at how good it felt.

“No I didn’t. I – I haven’t – I couldn’t have – “

Lydia smiled at him. “You’re just confused, all that excitement at the warehouse has you all mixed up. But you did do this. And I love you for it.”

A thrill went up his spine at the word.

Yeh must’ve don’t it.

Yer head’s on backwards a’course yeh did it.

She said she loves yeh.

But yeh haven’t eaten in days.

Cassidy grimaced at the pain in his stomach and his head pounded.

“Thank you. M’lady,” he ground out through gritted teeth.

Lydia rubbed his arm affectionately, eyes glinting in the darkness, before turning and walking back downstairs. Once he heard her steps fade, he let out a shaky breath and closed his eyes.

Yeh didn’t do it.

Yeh couldn’t have.

She’s messin’ with yer head mate.

But she said yeh did, she would never lie.

Yeh finally fixed it, she said she loves yeh.

“Shut up!” he growled under his breath. He hissed in pain again and leaned forward, bracing his hands on his knees. A wave of hunger pains rocked through him and his vision went dark red before Cass wrestled it back down and breathed deeply.

Is it that time?

Think so.

Yeh gonna have the bollocks to do it?

Nah, but if I just happen to already be outside –

Easier to stay put than walk out.

Aye there yeh go.

It’s been the opposite of a pleasure Mr. Cassidy.

Likewise, Mr. Cassidy.

Cass set his jaw and walked up another flight of stairs and opened the large doors leading to a balcony. He closed them softly and hopped up onto the roof. Cass sat with his back against the chimney, arms around his legs. The sky was still dark, a brilliant smattering of stars shone above. He still had a few hours, so he took a deep breath and leaned his head against the brick with his eyes closed. He hadn’t slept since the warehouse and exhaustion finally overtook him.

Flashes of Jesse and Tulip’s terrified faces burned behind his eyelids. The feeling of their bodies pinned underneath his, the heady thrill from the quickening of their pulses when he leaned in, the way his teeth sank through Jesse’s skin like a warm knife through butter, the taste of his blood.

I thought we were more.

Cassidy shot awake with a snarl, on his feet in a flash and crouched defensively before he knew why. His vision darkened and the red threatened to close in as he looked around for what had woken him.

“Cass?”

He spun towards the trembling whisper with a deep growl that he choked on, eyes wide and legs threatening to give out when he saw the man standing in front of him.

---

Tracking the vampires had once again proven overly easy. Tulip guessed they were still trying to draw out the hunters for a final show down and Jesse was inclined to agree. All points seemed to lead to Georgia, of all places. But the trail went cold at the border.

“That’s real smart actually,” Jesse murmured. “They’re probably somewhere remote, out in the open. So no one can sneak up on them again.”

Tulip huffed in frustration. “Like it wasn’t difficult before.”

“Ditch the car?”

Tulip groaned. “My feet just about healed too.”

They shoved their stolen hatchback off the road, shouldered their bags, and walked along the dirt country road until night fell. Fireflies lit up the night and the long, gnarled branches of the trees formed a canopy over the road. Tulip stopped and hit Jesse lightly on the shoulder to get his attention. A distant scream rang out ahead of them and was cut off just as quickly. Jesse pulled out a gun and continued around the bend in the road, which revealed a large estate visible from a quarter mile out. Tulip nodded.

“That’s them.”

Jesse took a deep breath and shook out his arms. “Let’s do it.”

They silently made their way to the edge of the trees before a large, wrought iron gate loomed before a long, exposed driveway. Tulip looked at Jesse, fire in her eyes, and held the black box to his chest.

“You need to find Cass.” Jesse opened his mouth to argue. “No, Jesse, you have to find him. Odds are you’ll need this to get close enough to get through to him so take it. Don’t argue.”

Jesse swallowed, seeing there was no way she’d take no for an answer, and grabbed the box. Tulip nodded. “Good. I already set it to your heartbeat so it wouldn’t do me any good now anyway.”

“You sneaky – “

“I’ll find the queen and keep her off your back. I have some things I’d like to say to her,” Tulip continued, slipping her sawed-off from her back.

“Woah, hey we’re not splittin’ up!”

“Jesse,” Tulip pulled him close. “It’ll be fine, it’s quicker this way. Besides, I figured you’d need some privacy if you were gonna try your whole “power of love” thing.”

Jesse’s ears went red. “Tulip, I swear to god – “

“I love you too baby,” she kissed him and sprinted towards the house.

“Fuck me,” Jesse huffed. He turned on the box and hung it around his neck, tucked under his shirt, and ran after her.

Some of the gate had been bent and warped, making for easy entry, and they both split to opposite sides of the estate. Jesse snuck around back, trying to find a smart entry point. Wanting to keep the high ground, he tucked his handgun into his waistband and shimmied up a tree. He crawled along a large branch that hung close to the roof and jumped the three feet distance to softly land on his hands and feet.

A sound caught his attention and Jesse brought out the gun again, cocking it and holding it in front of him. He moved slowly and deliberately, trying not to knock any lose roofing. As Jesse got closer to the sound, he realized it was coming from behind the chimney. He shifted around it and his breathing stopped. Cassidy was curled into himself, head buried in his knees, whimpering. Jesse put the gun away, stepped forward out of instinct, and kicked lose a tile that clattered to the ground.

Cass leapt to his feet like a startled cat, his back to Jesse.

Jesse tried to force down the fear that clawed at his stomach even as his heart hammered.

“Cass?”

He spun around, eyes wild, and Jesse was shocked at how Cass had never looked more like a vampire. His skin was pale as death, which made the dark circles under his eyes stand out that much more. But even with all of that, the shadow that Jesse and Tulip had seen in his face was barely there and the cruel, dark glint in his eyes was gone. Instead, Cassidy’s eyes seemed older, like Jesse could see the hundred plus years of life and pain he carried for the first time, and it took his breath away.

“Fuck Cass,” Jesse breathed, a nervous smile playing on his lips. “You look like shit.”

Cassidy faltered back, his mouth pressed tightly closed and breathing heavily through his nose.

“Cassidy…,” Jesse took a tentative step forward, hands held out. Cass took another step back, his head shaking back and forth.

“Yer not here,” Cass choked out, barely audible.

“I am. I’m here, I’m ok look – “

“No. NO stop it,” Cassidy’s voice got louder, wavering. “Yer- yer jus’ another trick an’- an’ I’m not goin’ back inside I’m stayin’ up here. Yeh can’t make me.”

Jesse had no fucking clue what he was talking about but nodded and kept his voice soft. “I’m not tryin’ to make ya do anythin’ ya don’t wanna do. I just wanted to see you.”

“STOP IT,” Cass took another step back and closed his eyes tight. After a beat he reopened them and growled in frustration. “Fer the love of – have yeh not tortured me enough? I – I know what yer doin’ yeh know.”

“Oh yeah?” Jesse stepped closer again.

“It’s like with the lad downstairs. I know I didn’t do tha’, but yeh make me feel like I did. And now with – with this,” Cass gestured to Jesse. “Jus’ so yeh can take ‘im away again. NO. I’m fuckin’ done. Leave me to the sun I won’t be yer fuckin’ plaything anymore.”

Jesse’s fear was slowly ebbing away and his chest was tightening in a way only two people in the world could cause.

“Cass, who do ya think you’re talkin’ to right now?” he asked gently.

Cass snorted. “Tha’s funny. Really, m’lady.”

“Is it the blonde that’s keepin’ ya here? Your queen?”

Cass stilled, his face frozen in confusion. “I don’ get it. Wha’s yer angle?”

“It’s me, Cass. Honest. Look,” Jesse angled his neck towards Cass and pulled off the bandage, revealing the dark bruise and healing incisions. Cassidy stared wide-eyed and shuddered. He closed his eyes and shook his head again.

“Yer not him. Yeh can’t be.”

“Cass – “

“It’s not enough that I killed ‘im now yer doin’ this?” Cassidy’s voice pitched up, his eyes flew open, shining with tears. “Wha’? Pretendin’ I turned ‘im? Like doin’ somethin’ like that wouldn’t be worse?! Yeh want me to admit that I’d want that? FINE. Yeah, I would, he’d hate me forever but at least he wouldn’t be dead so – there yeh go. Was the point fer me to admit I’m a fuckin’ selfish monster? Cause I already knew that. Now piss off.”

Cass turned to go back to his chimney seat but Jesse reached out and grabbed his wrist. Cassidy’s breath hitched and he looked down at Jesse’s hand. After a moment, he shifted his arm so he could gently wrap his fingers around the preacher’s wrist and Jesse shivered at his cold touch. The vampire lifted his head, eyebrows up to his hair line.

“I can feel yer pulse.”

“Yup.”

“I can’t hear it.”

“Oh!” Jesse reached under his shirt and held out the black box. “Tulip rigged it. Cancels out specific sounds.”

Cassidy let out a shaky exhale. He tried to step back, but Jesse kept a firm grip on him and stepped with him.

“We’re gonna reach the edge of the roof ya keep doin’ that.”

“How?” Cass couldn’t take his eyes off Jesse’s face, like he was trying to memorize it. “How could yeh be here?”

“Tulip saved me. She’s alive too Cass. You saved her.”

Cassidy’s face was awash with confusion. “I…I don’t remember.”

“I promise. She’s fine.” Jesse saw a flash of relief in Cassidy’s eyes, only for the vampire to shake his head again and growl, his position going back to defensive. Jesse still didn’t let go.

“Yer lyin’,” Cass bared his teeth. “I know I bit ‘im. That I remember. He wouldn’t be alive either way.”

“It was Genesis. I was turnin’ Cass, and it – it hurt a lot. More than most anything I’ve ever felt but – Genesis fought it off.”

Jesse saw Cassidy’s knees shake, like it was an effort to keep him upright.

“I never told Lydia about Genesis,” he breathed.

“How come?”

“I – I don’t – “ Cassidy’s face crumpled into horrified anguish and he tugged the arm Jesse had hold of.

“Let go,” his voice thick.

“No.”

“LET GO.”

“Make me.”

Cassidy continued to tug, but there was no force behind it. His breathing was erratic and soft, whimpering huffs escaped his lips.

“Why?”

“Why what?”

WHY JESSE?!” Something started breaking inside of Cass and his shoulders started to shake. “Why are you here?! After – after everythin’! Everythin’ I did and said and – and – “

Jesse closed the distance between them and grabbed Cassidy’s other wrist. Jesse looked resolutely up into his eyes.

“I love you Cass. I’m here to take ya home.”

Cassidy let out a choked sob and shut his eyes again, his whole body shaking trying to maintain control.

“Yeh shouldn’t – “

“So?”

“I’ll hurt yeh – “

“No ya won’t.”

“I’ve done – I’ve killed – “

“I don’t care.”

“I’m sorry. Jess I’m sorry. I’m so sorry –“

Jesse pulled Cassidy forward and wrapped his arms around him in a hug. He held the back of Cassidy’s head and buried his own face in the crook of the vampire’s neck. After a beat, the dam finally burst and wracking sobs shook through Cass, his face buried in the preacher’s shoulder and hands clinging to the back of his shirt. He repeated his apology over and over. Jesse stroked his hair, whispering that it would be ok, to let it all out, that he was there. Cassidy’s legs finally gave out and Jesse gently brought them both down to their knees, not letting go of each other for a second.

After a few minutes, Cassidy started to quiet and his breathing calmed. His tight grip on Jesse’s shirt eased and Jesse pulled back slightly to look at him. Cass sniffed and pulled back as well, eyes red and face wet. He suddenly looked embarrassed and wiped his nose, avoiding eye contact. They sat there, holding each other.

“I uh – the feelin’s mutual, by the way,” Cass finally broke the silence. He swallowed and looked back at Jesse. “I love yeh more than anythin’ Jess. Besides Tulip, I mean – yeh know – cause –“

Jesse surged forward and kissed Cass deeply. Cassidy responded immediately, all tongue and teeth, a low growl rumbling in his chest.

“Well isn’t that a sight!” A voice rang out in the night, Cass and Jesse startling apart at the sound. “I thought for sure you were dead preacher but I guess it makes sense. You’re just as much of a cockroach as the beasts you lay with.”

Abraham leapt from the tree Jesse had climbed, a flamethrower strapped to his back as usual. The man glared at them, his disfigured face contorted in a sneer.

“You fucking abominations,” he pulled the nozzle out from behind his back and held it towards Jesse and Cass.

“Burn in hell.”

And fire roared.

Chapter Text

Jesse only felt the briefest singe of heat before he was pulled aside with inhuman speed and fell off the roof. Cass wrapped his long limbs around the preacher and braced Jesse against his chest as he slammed into the ground on his back, taking the full brunt of the impact. Dazed but wholly unharmed, Jesse rolled off of Cass who was coughing roughly.

“Cass!” Jesse grabbed his shoulder and placed a hand under his head to lift him up. He stopped when he felt something sticky and wet and pulled his hand back, coated in blood.

“Shit! Cass, hey buddy look at me.” Jesse held the sides of Cassidy’s face as the vampire blinked and tried to focus his eyes.

“I’m alright, gimme a sec,” Cass coughed, waving Jesse off with a flap of his wrist. He squawked as Jess grabbed the wrist and heaved Cass up and half carried, half dragged him along the edge of the house.

“Sorry Cass, we don’t got a sec. Crazy vampire hunters with flamethrowers. Gotta move.”

Cass groaned and shook his head, trying to clear it.

“You’re usually more durable than this.” Jesse frowned in concern.

“Yeah. I haven’t uh – eaten in a bit.”

“Well shit.”

“PREACHER!”

Abraham’s voice echoed and flames roared into the sky above them. Jesse pulled Cass closer to him and shuffled around a corner and behind a tree shadowing the front porch. Jesse pinned Cass to the tree and leaned across him to peak around the trunk.

“Padre – “

“Hush Cass we gotta be quiet.”

“JESS.”

Jesse pulled back to find Cass leaning as far back from him as the tree would allow with his head turned away.

“What?”

“I haven’t eaten in a bit,” Cass repeated, Jesse now hearing the strain in his voice.

“Oh. Sorry.” Jesse stepped slightly back so they were no longer touching and Cass exhaled.

The bang of a shotgun caused them both to jump and a hole was blown in the side of the house, wood exploding outward. A cacophony of snarls could be heard from inside as gunshots fired and men yelled.

“Jesse, where’s - ?”

“GET BACK HERE ASSHOLE!” Tulip’s voice echoed from inside.

“Oh fuckin’ shite.” Cass started forward only to be held in place by Jesse’s firm hand on his chest.

“It’s fine Cass, stay here. I’ll just hop in and grab Tulip and we’ll bolt. We can leave these assholes to deal with each other and blow ‘em sky high when we’re far enough away.”

Something like panic flitted across Cassidy’s face but as he started to speak a shot ricocheted off the tree and Cass spun them both to the side, shielding Jesse. Another shot rang out and Jesse felt Cassidy jolt and the vampire grunted in pain.

“SIR! I GOT ‘EM!” A hunter sprinted towards them and Jesse saw Abraham climbing down from the roof.

The hunter shot again, a manic, excited look on his face, and Cass cried out as a bullet hit him in the shoulder.

“Cass!” Jesse tried to shove him away, to get him to run, but Cass had him pinned between the tree and his body and Jesse could barely lift his arm to shove at him. Cassidy’s chest heaved and he gritted his teeth as another shot hit him. Jesse felt the vampire’s muscles tighten, his breathing getting labored.

“Go an’ get Tulip,” his voice was low and rough and sent a thrill up Jesse’s spine. “I’ll keep ‘em off yeh. Don’t come near me ‘till after.”

“What? The whole point of comin’ here – “ Jesse was interrupted by a growl from Cass, his face contorted, trying to maintain control.

“Can’t trust meself Jess. Not with yez and her in the same room, I need ye – “ Cassidy’s words cut short in a snarl as Abraham came up from behind and slid a knife between his ribs.

“Gotcha,” a cruel smile spread on Abraham’s face.

Cass met Jesse’s gaze and the preacher saw his eyes darken.

“RUN.”

Jesse barely recognized the deep rumble that came from Cass before the vampire shoved him roughly away and leapt at Abraham, who was ready and rolled backwards, using Cassidy’s momentum to throw him over his head and across the yard.

Scrambling to his feet, Jesse was knocked back by the other hunter’s fist to his face. Jesse shook his head and glared at the other man so intensely the hunter’s smile faltered, giving Jesse enough time to charge him, throwing all his weight into rushing and lifting the hunter off his feet and bringing them both through the heavy wooden door like a battering ram.

They crashed through and into a scene of chaos. The room echoed with gun shots and the clang of metal against metal. Vampires yelled and growled, haggard and injured, going after the hunters with the ferocity of trapped animals. Jesse slammed his fist into the hunter beneath him, knocking him out, and dodged the tussles between the warring factions. He pulled out his handgun and slipped down the hallway and into the living room, keeping his back to the walls. He heard a yelp of pain from outside that made his heart leap into his throat, only for a crash from above to steal his attention. Jesse hid behind a giant potted plant and peaked through the leaves, only for his stomach to drop.

Tulip’s back was pinned against the railing of the second floor staircase. She held her sawed-off shot gun in both hands using it like a yolk to keep the blonde woman on top of her at bay. Jesse saw the woman straining, veins in her neck bulging and jaws snapping to get at Tulip. He cocked his gun, lined up the shot, and pulled the trigger in one fluid motion. The blonde jerked back as the bullet winged her shoulder, opening up space enough for Tulip to duck underneath her, spinning to land a solid kick to her back. The blonde woman shrieked and toppled over the railing. Jesse stepped out from behind his hiding place with a grin, only for it to freeze on his face as the woman landed lithely on all fours. She looked up at him and quirked her head.

“Didn’t we already kill you?” Her voice rang like clashing metal, a sickeningly sweet undertone to it that made Jesse’s stomach turn.

“Sorry to disappoint.”

“Hmm.” She stood up gracefully and looked him up and down. “It’s a shame really. Normally I’d keep such a pretty thing like you.”

“Save it,” Jesse sneered and cocked his gun. “Ya got some things to answer for.”

“Oh darling, you have no idea.” She smiled wide and jumped at Jesse with a snarl.

---

Tulip had forced her way in through a back window and crawled into the kitchen. One look around and her blood ran cold; the place felt lived-in. There was food, clothes hung on chairs, and she gently touched a child’s drawing of a horse that was taped to the fridge. Anger flared in her gut and she turned to continue her search. Tulip padded softly through the family room and nearly stepped into the adjoining room before clapping her hands to her nose and mouth and holding her breath. The remaining vampires were strewn about the study, sound asleep on the couches and curled up on chairs in the one room without windows. Tulip’s eyes swept the room, not seeing Cass there, and she slowly backed away.

She silently swept through the first floor, finding nothing but a blood stain on the carpet that made the flame inside her grow hotter. Tulip found herself at the bottom of a staircase leading into a dark hallway with a blind turn.

Oh this is gonna go great.

She ascended the stairs and winced at every small creak and groan they made beneath her feet. Tulip pulled her sawed-off from the strap on her back and held it in front of her as she turned down into the dark. A faint glow came from underneath one of the closed doors, but she swallowed and kept moving towards the room at the end of the hallway, door partially opened and soft sounds heard inside.

Horror movie 101: going towards the sounds will lead to the monster and also death.

Tulip grinned and cocked the shot-gun. She used her foot to push the door open wider and stepped into a wide open, empty room with silk curtains that blew gently in the breeze from the open window.

“Well hello there,” a voice purred from behind her.

Tulip spun, gun at the ready, to see Lydia lounging on a loveseat with a small bundle of blankets in her arms. The woman’s lips were stained dark red but the rest of her pale skin nearly glowed in the darkness.

“I’ll be with you in a second darling, I’m just finishing up.”

The woman shifted the bundle, revealing a shock of brown hair and an expanse of blood stained skin, a small arm falling lifelessly into her lap. Tulip’s breath caught in her throat and the fire inside her roared.

“You’ll put that little boy down NOW if ya know what’s good for ya,” Tulip nearly growled through gritted teeth.

Lydia looked up in surprise and she licked her lips. She placed the bundle delicately to the side and rose from her seat to tower over Tulip.

“Why, you’re quite rude aren’t you?” A smile tugged at her lips, but her eyes flashed dangerously. “And after I did you the curtesy of letting you live.”

Tulip snorted. “You didn’t let me do anything. Cass tricked you and when ya figured it out it was too late, so you’ve been tryin’ to cover up the fact that you’re actually an idiot ever since.”

Her face was blank. Tulip smiled wickedly.

“And honey, believe me, you’re gonna wish he had killed me after what I’m gonna do to you.”

The woman growled and shifted her feet like a cat getting ready to pounce. “Oh this is going to be fun.”

She lunged at Tulip who swerved and kicked out with her foot and tripped up the blonde. Tulip slammed the butt of the sawed-off into her neck. Lydia fell against the wall and gasped, trying to regain her breath.

“Lemme guess: you were a young peasant girl some hundreds of years ago. Maybe your daddy was a farmer. Maybe your mama was a bitch. Maybe you were married off or men mistreated you or ya felt like you deserved better,” Tulip smiled sardonically. “And then this happens to ya, and you’re stronger than all the others and you can have anything and anyone you want.”

Lydia stood, fully recovered, and began to circle Tulip with hate radiating palpably off her.

“Here’s the thing, I don’t give a shit. It don’t fuckin’ matter to me how or why ya got this way. You’re just an entitled little girl who thinks they’re justified in doing whatever they want. And I’m here to take back what’s mine and blow you to hell.”

Lydia’s face was a mask of rage, her once pretty features contorted into something monstrous. She screamed and lashed out at Tulip, who ducked and weaved and tried to get a shot off, only to blow a hole in the wall.

“GET BACK HERE ASSHOLE!” Tulip screamed in rage while the woman bolted out the door and into the hallway. Tulip heard gunshots from outside and movement downstairs.

Fuck, the other assholes are here.

Tulip was blindsided by a palm strike to the nose and her vision burst into stars. She pulled out her handgun and shot blindly as she tried to blink her sight back, blood dripping from her nose. The gun was knocked out of her hand and a cold forearm pinned her to the wall. Lydia was nose to nose with her in a flash.

“What’s yours?! Proinsias was mine LONG before you were even born you little whore. And you think you want him back? I’ve broken and remade him into what he should be, what he really is. And what he really is isn’t compatible with what you are,” Lydia hissed in her face.

Tulip glared at the vampire.

“You have no idea what I am.” And Tulip pulled the trigger of her sawed-off directly into Lydia’s kneecap.

The woman howled in pain and Tulip went to kick her in the crotch, but Lydia grabbed her by the ankle and threw her down the hallway. Tulip gasped as she landed, head smacking into the railing of the staircase. Lydia moved quickly even with one useless leg and lifted Tulip up to her eye level, bending down to try and bring her mouth to Tulip’s throat. Holding the gun between them, Tulip locked her arms and looked for a way out. A shot from nowhere rang out and Lydia flew back. Tulip got out from under her and kicked her hard in the back, sending her flying over the edge.

With a satisfied sniff, Tulip wiped her bloody nose only to see Jesse emerge with his gun.

Well whataya know.

She smiled warmly and ran to ask him about Cass, but Lydia beat her to it and she and Jesse were suddenly rolling on the ground, tangled limbs striking out.

“SHIT.” Tulip jumped and slid down the remainder of the banister to reach them.

Jesse had managed to blow off her other kneecap, but the one Tulip had hit was already healing and Lydia threw a fist into Jesse’s stomach that made the air burst from his lips in rough coughs.

“GET!” Tulip kicked Lydia in the side of her face. “OFF!” She stomped on her hurt knee. “MY BOYFRIEND!” Lydia pulled herself to her feet and backhanded Tulip so hard she fell to the ground next to Jesse who was still gasping for air.

Lydia was breathing hard and staring at the pair with wide, crazed eyes.

“You two,” she growled, her bruises faded and flesh knit back together. “You have been the most troublesome humans I’ve seen in centuries.”

“Thank you,” Tulip gently touched her face and winced at the pain in her cheekbone, sure to be fractured.

“I will be glad to be rid of you.” Lydia snapped her fingers and two other vampires, coated in blood from fighting the hunters, flanked her with barred teeth.

“This is gonna suck huh?” Jesse breathed. He and Tulip helped each other to their feet.

“Oh yeah.”

They both threw aside their spent guns and readied themselves as the vampires closed in.

---

Cass let the red fill his vision and the monster in him take the reins just as he pushed Jesse aside and went for the big guy with the flamethrower. He was slower in his injured and starved state and the fella was trained and managed to throw Cassidy away from him. Cass leapt to his feet with a groan and the man walked towards him with purpose.

“So you must be Cass,” the man spat. He had a scar on one side of his face and neck that made him look like he was always sneering, and with the way he said his name Cass instantly hated him.

“Must be,” Cassidy surprised himself. He usually wasn’t one to talk when he was like this, hunger and the anticipation of violence thrumming through him.

Abraham blinked in shock before he was able to hide it. “You’ve caused us a whole heck of a lot of trouble.”

“Aye, I’ve been known ta to tha’,” Cass growled. “Yer the leader ‘o these twats aren’t yeh?”

Abraham’s face hardened and he pulled out the flamethrower nozzle again.

“We are men of God. And we will purge the earth of unholy scum like you.”

“Yeh can try.”

Cass dodged to the side as flames licked at his heels and he rounded Abraham to give him a swift kick to the bollocks, but the man whipped around and smacked Cassidy with the nozzle. Cass snarled and leapt at him again and successfully knocked the nozzle from his hands. He yanked hard and the tube connecting the lighter to the fuel source snapped and sprayed gasoline onto the grass. Abraham swore and shrugged off the backpack component, using it as a shield. Cass slammed into him and clawed and tore around it, trying to get at the man with little success. With a sly grin he dropped to the ground quickly, Abraham’s attention still fully up front, and slid between his legs to hop onto his back.

Abraham roared as Cass ripped one of his ears off and leaned in to bite into his throat, but the bigger man fell backwards and slammed his full weight onto Cassidy as he hit the ground. Cass yelped and his arm that was wrapped around the man’s neck snapped. Abraham rolled over and grabbed Cass by the throat and squeezed while his knees dug into the vampire’s chest.

“You’re a monster. An abomination. And yet you went even further than any vampire I’ve ever seen and tainted a holy man. You’ve polluted that preacher into believing you’re more than what you are. That you're actually worth something,” the man grimaced, disgusted by even the thought of it.

Cassidy grinned darkly. “Padre never was all tha’ smart. Been tellin’ ‘im otherwise fer a long time.”

“You’re gonna burn in the deepest circle of hell for what you’ve done.”

Cassidy’s expression hardened. “Come an’ join me then.”

With a roar he freed his broken arm by bending it further backwards out of the man’s grip and jammed his thumb into Abraham’s eye. He screamed and Cass managed to flip him and scramble back up to his feet, one arm hanging useless at his side. Abraham’s face was red with fury, his face streaming blood from his now ruined eye socket. He screamed and rushed Cass, who met him with barred teeth. The two grappled and swung at each other, trading blows and slowly moving closer to the house. Cass was lost in his bloodlust, too hurt now to think straight and fight intelligently. Abraham finally landed a punch so hard Cass tumbled through a window, shattered glass raining down on the two equally battered forms of Jesse and Tulip who were each grappling with a vampire.

Cass jumped to his feet snarling, ready for the next attack. He heard a growl and smelled Tulip behind him. Before he could think about it Cass pulled Tulip away, slammed his fist into the face of the oncoming vampire, and ripped his lower jaw clean off. He tossed it aside and recognized Tulip’s shocked face even through the red haze.

“Cass?”

He found himself smiling.

“Yeh alright love?”

Tulip’s face lit up in genuine happiness only to morph into fury.

“MOVE!” She pulled Cass away, her touch sending shockwaves through him but he found that it didn’t matter. Abraham was so focused on Cassidy that he didn’t notice Tulip slip to the side to pick up her now useless sawed-off before she swung it with all her might into his face. Cass heard a crack as his nose went and growled in approval.

“A LITTLE HELP!”

Cass turned so fast he nearly gave himself whiplash and saw Jesse still fighting the other vampire as the other battling groups started tumbling into the room.

With Abraham knocked out, Tulip and Cass ran forwards and knocked the vampire off of Jesse, Tulip pulling him away and Cass dispatching the vampire same as the first. Cass turned towards Tulip and Jesse, all three breathing heavily. Jesse raised his eyebrows in a silent question at Cass. The vampire took a shaky breath, too aware of their heartbeats and the smell of their freely flowing blood, but able to smile softly and nod without having to fight the urge to kill them.

A slow clap echoed against the high ceilings and above the noise of fighting. The three drew closer together as Lydia slid her way from out of the shadows and walked among the fighting as if the only people there were Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy.

“That was very impressive I must admit. Like dinner theater!” She clapped her hands once more and made direct eye contact with Cass. He shivered and swallowed thickly, but Cass felt Jesse press a firm hand on his shoulder and Tulip slipped her hand in his.

“Proinsias.”

“Ye – yes, m’ – m’l –, “ Cass stammered, brain screaming to stay silent against her will.

“PROINSIAS LOOK AT ME.”

He shuddered and felt that all too familiar musical thrum and cold mist start to fill him.

BE QUIET!

Cass stilled and looked at Jesse, who nodded and squeezed his shoulder. Lydia’s eyes widened and she pressed her lips tightly together.

Don’t ever tell Cassidy what to do or speak to him at all ever again. Do you understand?

Lydia nodded, but before Jesse could continue, she screamed, “Kill these two humans RIGHT NOW!”

The remaining vampires in the room instantly diverted their attention to getting to the trio, the hunters they were fighting now trailing behind them, slowing them down.

While the order wasn’t meant for Cassidy directly, he still felt the power of her words seep into him and he groaned at the feeling. Tulip gripped the hand she was holding with her other hand.

“Hey, hey Cass its ok honey breathe, you got this,” her eyes met his and he whimpered. “I trust you.”

She brought his hand up to her mouth and kissed it. Cassidy inhaled sharply and something inside him hardened.

“I won’t hurt yeh. Not ever. Not again.” He looked at Jesse and back at Tulip. “Promise.”

Tulip nodded with a small smile and dropped his hand. The trio turned so they were back to back to back.

“Ready?” Jesse asked lightly. Cass barked out a laugh.

“With me bum arm and both o’ yez lookin’ like yeh went five rounds with a tire iron? Yeah, I’d say we’re ready.”

Before Jesse could respond, Abraham slammed into the three of them like a football player, scattering them and taking Jesse on his own. He stuck a chain-link through Jesse’s mouth and locked it tightly around his neck and behind his head. Abraham dragged him up the stairs, using the rest of the chain as a leash.

“You’re not ruining this. Not again,” the man growled in his face. Jesse gagged against the metal in his mouth and hit Abraham in the side with a left-hook, which made him stumble backwards.

The vampires closed in on Tulip and Cass and attacked. The two spun around each other, a dual whirlwind of destruction, keeping them off each other. The hunters joined the fray, not differentiating between the vampires they were fighting and Tulip and Cass. Tulip managed to knock one hunter out and grab his hunting knife. She threw a grin at Cassidy.

Abraham hit Jesse in the side of the head and his ears rang. He growled around his gag and head-butt Abraham with all his might, effectively dazing them both. Abraham shook it off quicker and wrapped the chain around his hand.

“I’m ending this. You’re no preacher. You can join you’re demon lover in death.”

Abraham threw the chain around the base of the chandelier until it tangled and tied it tight. Jesse punched and kicked, but Abraham had him beat solely on size and lifted him into his large arms.

“JESSE!”

Tulip saw Abraham start to push Jesse over, the preacher wrapping his legs around the railing to keep from falling.

“CASS HELP!”

Cass turned from the neck he’d just ripped out and saw Tulip running full tilt at him. He heard Jesse struggling above him and he ran to meet Tulip halfway. In one fluid motion, Cass grabbed her around the waist and flung her towards the sound of Jesse’s heartbeat.

While it wasn’t exactly what she’d expected, Tulip couldn’t fault Cassidy’s aim as she flew through the air like a missile and slammed directly into Abraham with a primal cry, her large knife jammed firmly through his remaining eye. The man made a surprised “oh” expression, then fell onto his back dead.

Tulip pulled Jesse aside and unwrapped the chain from around his neck, but struggled with the bit around his head.

“Sorry Jesse, that bit’s gonna have to wait ‘til we get tools.”

Jesse groaned and wrapped the excess chain-link around his waist to keep from getting tangled. His eyes scoured the fights below, the numbers dwindling and hunters starting to bolt as they realized that their leader had fallen. His eyes found Cassidy, face fully buried in the neck of a hunter, and panic gripped Jesse as he saw Lydia striding towards him. He signaled to Tulip with his eyes and they both sprinted down the stairs.

Cass was finally able to eat. Most of the vampires were incapacitated or had run for it, same as the hunters, and he couldn’t stop from drinking deeply from one of the men, nearly groaning in relief as he felt his wounds healing. He didn’t notice as a shadow came up behind him, grabbed him by the neck, and threw him across the room. Cass smacked into the fireplace, bricks cracking on impact. Before he could react, Lydia was on him again, hand around his throat and nails piercing his skin. She glared at him, face strained in rage but unable to speak to him. She grabbed his still healing arm and snapped it again, then grabbed each finger of that hand and bent them all at odd angles until they snapped. Cass cried out in pain and struggled against her grip. Her other hand grabbed the side of his head, and he stiffened, readying for her to break his neck, only for her to be knocked aside by the dual force of Tulip and Jesse wielding broken pieces of lumber.

Tulip kneeled down next to Cassidy’s slumped form to comfort him and Jesse squared off with Lydia. The woman’s eyes were manic as she searched for someone she could order to help her, but the remaining vampires were jawless or too injured to be of use. Jesse smiled around the chain in his mouth and struck her in the face. He was fast and avoided her blows, ducking and dodging until he was sure he could land a hit. Lydia became more and more frantic, her fighting unskilled and relying on brute strength. Cass watched in awe at Jesse’s grace and prowess while Tulip helped him to his feet.

Lydia finally managed to land a hand on Jesse, but it was only on the chain that wrapped around his head. The force of her grip and his pull snapped the chain and it fell with a clatter to the ground. Jesse smiled fully and pushed forwards, his blows forcing Lydia backwards. In a motion so quick Cass barely caught it, Jesse pulled something from his jacket and stuck it onto Lydia’s back, then kicked her feet out from under her and shoved her so hard she flew out of the hole that used to be the front door.

“BURN IN HELL!” Jesse pulled out a detonator and pressed it hard. Lydia had just enough time to gape in horror before she was lost in a fiery explosion that made Cass and Tulip shield their eyes.

Jesse dropped the detonator and turned towards the other two. Besides the crackle of flames, silence descended on the house. The sky was getting lighter and an orange hue was spreading across the horizon. Jesse walked up to Tulip and Cass who stared at him with twin expressions of amazement.

Cassidy was the first to react as his face cracked in the first, genuine smile Jesse had seen on him in a long time. Cass whooped and launched onto Jess, who grunted in pain but caught the vampire all the same. The lanky asshole in question wrapped his legs around Jesse’s waist and kissed him ferociously, long fingers tangling in Jesse’s hair.

“Fuck a duck, dreams do come true,” Tulip breathed.

Cass stilled and pulled back to look at Jesse, nothing but pure adoration in his eyes.

“Thank yeh.”

Jesse smiled and leaned his forehead against Cassidy’s.

“Of course darlin’.”

“Yeh used Commander McArsehole’s one-liner yeh know.”

“What, 'burn in hell'?”

“Yeah.”

“Guy was a dick and a half but it was a good line.”

Cass giggled and dropped back down to the floor.

He turned towards Tulip and, with a timid smile, held out a hand.

Tulip smiled from ear to ear and took it.

“Heya love.”

“Hey big guy.”

“I uh….I – “

Tulip pulled back and slapped Cass in the face. He blinked in shock and put his hand up to his cheek. Jesse stared in a mix of horror and delight in the background.

“Don’t you ever, and I mean EVER, run off like that again.”

“But I – “

“NO. No buts. If some fucked up vampire shit is happening, you tell me. I can’t help if I don’t know what’s goin’ on. Got it?”

Cassidy nodded fervently in the face of Tulip’s stern tone and burning eyes.

“I’m – I’m so sorry Tulip. Honest I – “

He was cut off by Tulip pulling him down roughly by his shirt and bringing their mouths together. It was hot and messy and they both growled into each other, fighting for dominance, and Jesse felt himself grow hot under the collar at the sight. Jesse coughed and the two parted, Cassidy looking sheepish.

Jesse pulled them both into a hug and they stood there together as day started to break.

“So…what happens now?” Cass asked.

“We go home. Right Jesse?” Tulip grinned.

Jesse sighed, feeling the weight of the past month or so starting to lift.

“Yeah. Home.”

Chapter Text

They managed to find one of the black SUVs the hunters had parked off the road about a mile away. Tulip hotwired it and Cass used Jesse’s coat to shade himself from the morning light as he dove into the backseat and Jesse slid into the passenger’s side. When they were far enough away for comfort, they stopped at a butcher’s shop yet to open. Jesse ran in and out quietly and relocked the door behind him while balancing tubs of blood in one hand.

“Hey Cass, gotcha a present,” Jesse wiggled the tubs at Cass, who was curled up and nursing his broken arm.

“Oh Padre,” Cass breathed, unable to stop his words from devolving into growls as hunger pulsed through him at the smell. He drooled and had to cling to the chair to keep from diving at the tubs while they were still in Jesse’s hands. He grimaced at his reaction and tried to scoot further away from Jesse with his eyes down. A firm hand under his chin made him stop and Jesse lifted his head so Cass would look at him.

“Cass, darlin’, its fine. Honest. Go on, make a mess if ya gotta. It ain’t our car.”

After a beat Cassidy smiled and nodded once and Jesse dropped the tubs in his lap. He wasted no time in ripping off the lid of one and gulping it down. Blood ran down his chin and he growled and licked at the edges, fingers scraping at the bottom until every last drop was gone. He breathed heavily and dove into the second tub, unable to stop blood from spilling onto the leather interior. Cass finally felt the bones in his arm start to knit back together and crack into place. The bullet wounds closed and the ache in his head vanished. The gnawing hunger and pain he’d been in slowly faded and he fell back against the seat with a gasp, leaning his head back and closing his eyes.

“Ya all good there buddy?”

Cass cracked an eye open and saw Jesse and Tulip turned around in their seats watching him. He felt a flash of self-consciousness, but he was too exhausted to hold onto the emotion and simply nodded.

“Aye, arm’s all better,” Cass wiggled his fingers at them in demonstration and their concerned faces shifted into tandem smiles. Cassidy gave them a thumbs up as his eyes fluttered and his head lolled. With a content sigh, he slumped in his seat and fell into a deep sleep.

Tulip chuckled fondly and pealed out onto the road as Jesse continued to watch Cass sleep until exhaustion overtook him as well.

---

They drove through the day and into the night. It wasn't until they made it all the way across Alabama, taking turns driving and sleeping, that Jesse finally felt safe having them make a pit stop at a motel for the night. And the entire time, Cass lay sprawled across the back seat, half slumped onto the floor, dead to the world. They got a room in the furthest corner on the lot and parked right outside the door.

“So…what do we do about…?” Tulip jerked her head towards the backseat. Jesse shifted in his seat and sighed.

“I’ll get him. You go and get settled.”

Tulip nodded and spared a glance back at Cass with a small smile before hopping out of the car and heading into the room. Jesse slid out of his seat and opened the door closest to Cassidy’s feet and climbed in.

“Cass? We’re stoppin’ for the night ya gotta get up,” Jesse said quietly. Cass didn’t move.

Jesse frowned and leaned further over him to cup the vampire’s face.

“Cassidy.” Still no response. Jesse lightly patted his cheek, but Cassidy’s head only rolled to the side and he continued to snore lightly.

“Motherf – “ Jesse stepped out of the car, grabbed Cass by his ankles, and dragged him towards the door. He grabbed the, incredibly still asleep, vampire and hoisted him over his shoulder in a fireman’s carry with a grunt and shuffled into the room.

“Are ya – he’s still asleep?”

Tulip watched wide eyed from the bed while Jesse tried to gently place Cass next to her, only to drop him gracelessly. Cass bounced, limbs rag dolling, but remained utterly unconscious and continued to snore, mouth sagged open. Tulip snorted and Jesse raised his arms up and down in a defeated motion.

“Seriously, it’s like he hasn’t slept in weeks!”

“…Maybe he hasn’t Jesse.”

Effectively sobered by the thought, they gazed at Cass in concern. Jesse finally shook his head and started shrugging off his clothes.

“I’m gonna take a quick shower. Ya holler if anything changes with him.”

“It’s fine. Go get clean. You smell terrible,” Tulip grinned and Jesse flipped her off as he closed the bathroom door behind him.

Tulip lay on her side and propped her head up to look at Cassidy. His mouth and chin were stained with blood, but his mussed hair and calm sleeping face made him look unbelievably soft.

With a loving smile playing at her lips, she brushed his hair from his forehead and marveled at how soft it was. Cass leaned into the touch and muttered under his breath. He shifted slightly so one arm was above his head and one was dangling off the bed, opening up his chest. Steeling herself, hating how nervous she was, Tulip cautiously slid up his body to lay her head on his chest. He smelled like blood and was dirty as sin, but Tulip loved simply being there with him. She loved the way his chest rose and fell beneath her and she loved how he was mostly sharp angles except where she lay against him. Tulip couldn’t help but nuzzle into him, only to become aware of a rumble beneath her face.

Realizing what the vibration could mean, Tulip froze and held her breath as it grew louder. She felt a thrill of fear race up her spine and she saw a flash of Cassidy’s face in her mind, shadowed and cruel, as he held her down in the rain. Cassidy’s breathing halted and Tulip couldn’t bring herself to do anything but close her eyes and press her face further into him, hands clinging to his shirt.

There was a long pause, and Tulip felt Cass inhale deeply. She felt him shift and a gentle pressure on her back rubbed up and down soothingly. Tulip exhaled and lifted her head to find Cassidy looking at her with the saddest expression she’d ever seen on his face.

“What are yeh doin’ love?” He whispered, his hand stilling on the small of her back.

“I just – I should’ve asked, sorry.” Tulip sat up, Cassidy’s hand dropping away from her. He stared at her and rubbed the spot on his chest where she’d been laying.

“Yer heart’s hammerin’ like a jackrabbit.”

Tulip licked her lips, trying to think of something to say. Cass sighed and let his hand drop.

“I'm sorry Tulip.”

“We’ve covered that Cass. It’s ok.”

“No. ‘S not. Yer scared of me now.”

Cass looked utterly heartbroken and it made Tulip’s chest tighten.

“Cass. No.”

“’S ok. Makes sense. Honestly I’d probably be worried if yeh weren’t,” he took a deep breath and tried to smile.

“Honey, it’s – it’s not that.”

“Love, I appreciate it but yeh can’t lie to me. As soon as I woke up yer heart was beatin’ like yeh’d been runnin’ a marathon.”

Tulip glared at him.

“I can’t fuckin’ help what my stupid heart’s doin’ ok? Stop listenin’ to my fuckin’ organs and listen to what I’m sayin!”

She leaned back over him and he stared up at her like she was a miracle.

“We all just went through some shit. It sucked. I might – be a little nervous when you make certain noises but – “

Cassidy’s face crumpled, but before he could turn away from her, Tulip cupped his face and rubbed his cheek with her thumb.

“Would ya let me finish? I was gonna say BUT it’ll pass. I know it wasn’t you Cass. But these things – they take time to get past. So you’re just gonna have to deal with my heart beatin’ a bit faster than normal ok?”

Cassidy’s brow furrowed and he closed his eyes. After taking a deep breath, he looked back up at Tulip with a hardened expression.

“It was me though Tulip.”

Tulip blinked. “What?”

“Jesse and yez keep talkin’ like – like I was possessed or somethin’. Like I don’t have any ‘o the blame for anythin’. I do. I did it all.”

Tulip leaned back to a kneeling position and Cass pushed himself up to sit against the headboard, knees pulled up to his chest.

“That blonde chick messed with your head Cass," Tulip reached out to touch him. "She brainwashed you, ya can’t be expected to – “ Cass grabbed her wrist to stop her.

“I gave into it. I stopped fightin’ and let it happen. I was tired and weak and it felt good to do what she said. And then - I just kept doin’ whatever the worst thing I could think of doin’ was cause it’d feel good. And – and that includes when I hurt yeh. I chose to do tha'." His voice was tinged with a self-loathing edge.

Cass let go of her wrist and Tulip studied him with an inscrutable expression.

“Ya know I love you, right?”

Cassidy’s brows shot up to his hairline. Tulip scoot forward and sat cross-legged at his feet and wrapped her arms around his legs, resting her chin on his knees to look directly in his eyes. Cass leaned back like he was afraid of getting burned.

“I figured I’d need to actually vocalize it, cause apparently kissing your face off like I did earlier didn’t twig ya to it, but it’s true. You can say whatever ya want, but I know what I saw and I know you’d never hurt me or Jesse. Ya actually ended up saving me remember? You were sick and yeah, ok, you gave into it but fuck Cass who wouldn’t?”

Cass huffed and looked away from her. Tulip frowned.

“How long ago did she get to you? Cause I know it must’ve happened before ya left.”

Cass mumbled something unintelligible.

“Come on Cass, how long?”

“’Bout a month ago.”

Tulip raised her hands in a “there ya go” motion.

“But even then I should’ve fuckin’ left earlier!” Cass growled in frustration. “She fuckin’ made everythin’ worse. The smells, the sounds, even fuckin’ told me to kill yez and I – “

“Wait what?”

Cass bolted upright and Tulip turned to see Jesse emerge in nothing but a towel from the steam-filled bathroom. Panic filled Cassidy’s face.

“I’m – I’m better now, I mean, since yeh killed her Padre I don’t wanna – I mean I would never – “

“Ya had to deal with all that for two weeks all on your own?” Jesse stared at Cass.

“Tha’s – tha’s not where I thought this conversation was goin’.”

Jesse sat down, bed sagging slightly under his weight and causing Cass to shift closer towards him. Tulip grinned at the shocked look on Cassidy’s face as Jesse grabbed his hand and laced their fingers.

“Do you remember what I said, about Genesis stoppin’ me from turnin’?” Jesse indicated the still dark bruise on his neck. Cass winced. “No, no Cass it’s ok. I’m bringin’ it up cause – there were moments when I felt it. Before Genesis burned it away. That – gnawing, aching feeling in my gut.”

Cass froze.

“It was horrible. It was all I could think about and everything else hurt and breathing hurt and – and I could smell Tulip’s blood.”

Cass was now staring at him with rapt attention.

“And there was a part of me that knew what was happening, but this other part didn’t care. It wanted to make the – the hunger go away and it just took over,” Jesse chanced a glance at Tulip who watched him with concern.

“So. What I’m sayin’ is, I only got a taste of what you live with. And I couldn’t handle it, not even the regular version. So when you tell me you spent fuckin’ weeks dealin’ with somethin’ ten times that and keepin’ it reigned in – I think that’s the opposite of weak Cass.”

Jesse looked back at Cass, whose lips were pressed tight together, eyes searching Jesse’s face as if looking for a tell that he was lying. The preacher smiled softly and hopped up fully onto the bed and let go of Cassidy’s hand to hold his face instead.

“You’re incredible darlin’. I get the whole takin’ responsibility thing, but ya deserve so much fuckin’ more than blame. I know it’s supposed to be impossible to not do what vampires like that woman tell ya to do, but ya did. You’re fuckin’ amazing.”

Cassidy blinked against the pinprick of tears in his eyes and Jesse wiped away an errant tear as it traced down the vampire’s cheek. Cassidy sniffed and chuckled wetly.

Fuck with the waterworks again, yeh know, I’m usually not this pathetic m’sorry.”

“Hey,” Tulip lightly smacked his knee. “Enough with the apologies and self-pity. We forgive ya, don’t we Jesse?”

Jesse nodded fervently. Cassidy's eyes widened as if he suddenly remembered something.

"Oh shite!" He pulled Jesse’s hands away from his face so he could look at Tulip with an apologetically sincere expression.

“I love yeh too Tulip.”

“Yeah, I know that dumbo. You’ve told me before awhile ago.”

“Oh. So I did.”

“Wait, when was this?” Jesse’s brow furrowed, suddenly ignored by Tulip and Cass, a wolfish grin slowly spreading on the vampire’s face.

“Yeh finally came around aye?”

“Oh shut up.”

“Only a matter o' time. I’m like heroin, yeh know, one taste and – “

Cass squawked as Jesse hit him in the face with a pillow, Tulip laughing at Cassidy’s flailing limbs.

“So by the return of bantering I assume we’re ok?” Jesse raised an eyebrow and Cassidy chucked the pillow back at him.

“Aye," Cass sighed, scrubbing his hands over his face and through his hair. He smiled ruefully. "I'll be alright.” Cassidy seemed to pause, but quickly wrapped his arms around Jesse and pulled the preacher towards him so he was tucked into Cassidy’s side, legs tangled together. “What about yeh Jesse?”

Jesse leaned his head against Cassidy’s shoulder and Cass nuzzled into his hair in return. Tulip crawled up to lie against Cassidy’s other side and wrapped her arms around him as he draped an arm around her. Jesse smiled and closed his eyes as his heart swelled.

“Yeah Cass, I’ll be fine. We're just...gonna have to take it slow. Be patient with each other ya know? We'll get used to -"

He was interrupted by loud snores vibrating down from the top of his head. Jesse glanced over and saw Tulip was also now drooling on Cass. Jesse chuckled and rest his head fully on Cass as he too fell asleep.

Chapter Text

It felt like drowning.

There was nothing but red.

Lydia kissing him in the woods.

Hitting him.

Fucking him.

That old fella lay dead at his feet.

Tulip was pinned underneath him.

Jesse tasted like heaven.

Cassidy gasped awake in a cold sweat. It took a moment for him to remember where he was and he tensed, ready for an attack. His ragged breathing hitched when he heard someone gently cooing behind him and a hand rubbed his back in calming circles.

“It’s ok honey, you’re ok we’re here,” Tulip hushed, cheek pressed to his shoulder.

Cass took a shaky breath and tried to calm down. Tulip was wrapped around him, her chest against his back, one of her legs between his. Jesse was curled into Cassidy’s chest, arm slung over both him and Tulip, towel barely covering his lower half.

He shifted slightly, trying to avoid waking Jesse, and looked over his shoulder at Tulip.

“Mornin’,” he whispered.

“Mornin’ big guy.”

Cass could feel her heart hammering again and felt that same twinge of shame.

“I was makin’ the scary noises again aye?”

Tulip sighed and nuzzled into his shoulder. “You were havin’ a nightmare. You sounded more scared than anything else.”

Cass swallowed. Tulip smiled softly and kissed him gently on the shoulder. She shifted to brush kisses up his neck and leaned across him to bring their lips chastely together. Tulip traced his furrowed brow with a hand.

“We’ll get there Cass. We’ll be ok.”

“…When?” Cass asked, voice soft and vulnerable. And somehow sounding incredibly young.

Tulip lay back down behind him, chin resting on his shoulder.

“I don’t know honey. Wish I did.”

“An’ till then?”

She shrugged. “Do the best we can?”

A silence fell over them. Jesse murmured in his sleep and rolled to his other side, now back to chest with Cass. Tulip traced Cassidy’s tattoos lightly. He suddenly rolled further over and quirked an eyebrow at her.

“So…are yeh me new big spoon?”

Tulip grinned. “No, you’re my little spoon.”

Cassidy’s face lit up with a smile that reached his eyes and made Tulip’s heart thrill.

“Ya like that?”

He reached up and caressed her cheek with an expression on his face like he still couldn’t believe he was allowed to touch her.

“I’ve never been a little spoon before, what with me height an’ all.”

Tulip grabbed his hand on her face and pushed Cass back onto his side so she could wrap herself around him again, her hand laced with his over his chest. She hummed happily and held him close. Cass could feel the tension seeping out of him and a contented rolling vibration rose up from his chest. He coughed in alarm but felt Tulip chuckle into his back.

“It’s fine honey, you purr all ya want.”

Cass grumbled something that sounded like “awake snoring” which made Tulip giggle. Jesse sighed and shifted backwards, towel precariously close to falling off, and pressed his back up against Cass.

The vampire stilled, suddenly very aware of his position between the two warm, lush bodies of Tulip and Jesse. Tulip nuzzled into his neck, planting light kisses, and Jesse’s naked back was nearly pressed against Cassidy’s chest and…other bits.

Jesse rolled back over, bringing his bare chest flush with Cassidy’s and ass briefly grazing the vampire’s morning wood as he turned. Cass hissed and tightened his grip on Tulip’s hand. He closed his eyes and tried to will his cock down, only to hear a low chuckle. He opened his eyes to find Jesse looking up at him with a cocksure grin and a glint in his eye.

“Well good mornin’.” Jesse somehow shuffled even closer.

“Yeh absolute bastard yeh meant ta do tha’!”

“No, I was asleep! Totally unintentional,” Jesse’s smile saying otherwise.

Tulip lifted herself up and yanked her hand out of his vicelike grip.

“Mmm totally unintentional. Like this,” Tulip lifted Cassidy’s shirt and traced a hand down his chest, to his abs, brushing lightly through his happy trail and slowly sliding down his pants.

Cassidy let out a soft yelp and turned to look at Tulip in shock.

“See? This is absolutely happening by accident,” Tulip leaned in and kissed him fully, lips parted.

Cass shuddered underneath her and a devilish grin played on Jesse’s face. The preacher unbuttoned Cassidy’s pants and tried to slide them down while Cass wiggled.

“Did ya fuckin’ paint these on? Stop squirmin’!”

Cass broke from Tulip and huffed. “I’m tryin’ to help! Fuckin’ useless these, I’ll burn ‘em first chance,” Cass successfully kicked them off and bit his fist to stifle a moan when Tulip immediately palmed him through his briefs.

Jesse shifted to kneeling and put a hand behind Tulip’s head to pull her in for a kiss while she yanked off Cassidy’s underwear and gripped his cock.

Fuck,” Cass gasped and stared at the two of them making out passionately over him as Tulip slowly pumped him.

Tulip pushed back from Jesse and pulled away her hand, eliciting a whine from Cass. Her eyes flickered between the two and only then did Cass notice how blown her pupils were.

“How do you two feel about fuckin’ each other for me?”

Cass gaped at her and Jesse coughed in surprise. They exchanged a look and Jesse’s ears turned red.

Tulip frowned. “What? Do ya not want to?”

Panic flitted over Jesse’s face. “No! I mean yes! I want to – of course!” He turned back to Cass. “I do! I absolutely – I just – I don’t – “

“Yeh don’t know how?”

“I know how, I just – I’ve never done it, ya know- ”

Cass raised his eyebrows. “With a bloke?”

“Well yeah Cass, is it that surprising?”

Cass dove onto Jesse, laying him down beneath him while bracing himself on either side of the preacher’s head with his elbows.

“Well then aren’t I a lucky lad,” Cass grinned and brought their mouths together. Jesse’s lips were soft and wet and he tasted a bit like Tulip. Jesse wrapped his arms around Cass and pulled his shirt over his head while Cass grabbed the towel somehow still magically clinging to Jesse’s hips and flung it to the side. With nothing else between them, Jesse and Cass stared at each other for a moment. Jesse cracked a grin.

“Weird right?”

“Absolutely.”

Cass went back to kissing Jesse. Mouth traveling down his jaw and softly brushing against his neck. Jesse shivered and Cass went back up to look at him.

“No necks?” Cass asked, face wrought with concern.

“No Cass, it’s nice. Keep goin’.”

Cass smiled and went back to mouthing down Jesse’s throat, tongue exploring his skin and tasting the salt of his sweat. He licked up the contours of Jesse’s chest and teased his nipples, eliciting a soft mewling noise from Jesse that made Cass slide back up and bring their mouths back together with a growl. Jesse’s hands explored Cassidy's body as he gasped and groaned into his mouth. While they were distracted by each other, Tulip stripped down to nothing and sprawled out on the foot of the bed, eyes watching hungrily while she touched herself.

Jesse marveled at the lean muscles on Cass, the way they shifted under his cool, pale skin. He grabbed Cassidy’s ass, earning another growl and the vampire finally dropped his hips against Jesse’s. Jesse’s brain instantly short-circuited as Cass started grinding his erection against Jesse's.

“Shit Cass,” Jesse moaned.

He shifted his hips, trying to find a rhythm to match Cassidy’s and finding a perfect angle to get as much friction as possible. Cassidy moved his hands to brace himself on Jesse’s chest. His long fingers splayed on his broad chest, pale against Jesse’s golden tan. Cassidy’s breathing was labored and Jesse looked utterly wrecked beneath him.

With a sudden growl, Jesse grabbed Cass by the shoulders and flipped them, Cassidy bouncing onto his back. Jesse wrapped one hand around both of their lengths, bringing their cocks together and swirled the heads already leaking pre-cum with his thumb.

FUCK,” Cass and Tulip groaned. Cass finally saw Tulip, naked and quivering, as she rubbed her clit and stared directly at them. His mouth fell slightly open, drinking in the sight of Tulip with her hair mussed and her face flushed, getting off on him and Jesse.

Jesse started pumping them both with one hand and Cass was gone. With a strangled gasp his back arched and he came all over Jesse’s hand.

When he caught his breath Cass shoved at Jesse playfully. “Yer a right lyin’ prick Jesse Custer. Yer tellin’ me yeh never sexed a bloke up before today?”

“Technically still haven’t Cass,” Jesse grinned, breathing ragged and hand still working his own cock.

“One second Jess,” Cass slipped out from under him and crawled up onto Tulip, who stopped touching herself to grab Cass by the hair and kiss him. He pulled back and kissed her on the nose. “Be right back.”

Cass jumped off the bed and dashed for the bathroom, a racket of torn open drawers and things breaking ensued. Tulip looked after him with a bemused expression and laughed in surprise as Jesse rolled onto her from behind and buried his face in his breasts.

“How ya doin’ baby?” Tulip pulled his head up to her eyeline. Jesse kissed her nipples and looked up, pupils blown wide and breathing labored.

“Fuckin’ great darlin',” his voice strained.

“FOUND SOME!” Cass bolted out of the bathroom and leapt onto the bed, holding a small bottle of lube aloft like a trophy. He smiled wide and started applying a liberal amount to his fingers.

Jesse’s face somehow turned deeper red. “Cass I – I don’t know if I can – “

Cass blinked then laughed. “Nah Padre, we can teach yeh the wonders o’ the prostate later. Ease yeh in all gentle like. This is fer me.”

He knelt on his hands and knees and slowly started fucking himself with his finger as Jesse’s mouth hung open, cock twitching in his hand. Tulip swore again and went back to touching herself while watching Cass, who threw his head back and groaned as he added a second finger.

Fuck me,” Cass growled, his own cock getting hard again with the addition of a third finger. He looked over at Jesse with bleary eyes.

“Lube up Padre, yer turn.”

Jesse swallowed and slathered his cock. He gently grabbed Cass by the hips and pulled him closer. He lined himself up and slowly pressed forwards. Cass hissed and Jesse eased back, tracing his opening with the head of his cock and pushing in again a bit further, and then back out, and then back in - again and again until he was finally fully enveloping himself in tight heat. Jesse moaned and Cass swore, his back arching. He slowly started thrusting and Cassidy’s limbs shook. Cass gripped his cock and started pumping as Jesse’s pace picked up, hips slamming into Cassidy’s ass. Cass adjusted his hips slightly and felt Jesse’s cock press against him at the perfect angle.

“Jesse, fuck Jess. GOD I can’t – where’s – Tulip where are - ?” Cass looked for Tulip who was huffing out shallow breaths as she touched herself. “Love, please.”

Tulip stilled and crawled up to his head. Jesse’s thrusts were becoming more erratic and his fingers were bruising on Cassidy’s hips. Cass moaned Jesse’s name and Tulip swallowed the sound with a rough kiss. When they parted, Tulip looked at Cass with hooded eyes. She slid underneath him and wrapped her legs around his bent legs. Tulip reached up to hold his face and nodded a wordless yes to his questioning eyes. While Jesse continued to fuck him from behind, Tulip turned onto her hands and knees and Cass bent down slightly and entered Tulip’s velvet heat.

Cassidy’s vision went white and he nearly buckled under the pleasure. Tulip thrust back onto him as Jesse pulled out and back in, both of them in synch as they fucked him. It was almost too much and Cassidy felt himself shattering inside, coming so hard and fast it brought tears to his eyes. He tightened around Jesse who came right after, his face buried in Cassidy’s back, muffling his shout. Tulip came loud, tightening around Cass as he came inside her. All three collapsed on top of each other in a pile of sweaty, tangled limbs.

They lay there, breathing heavily, when Cass started to giggle softly.

“Tha’s – tha’s takin’ it slow?”

Jesse snorted and Tulip guffawed. Cass devolved further into a fit of giggles which made Jesse and Tulip laugh even harder, all three of them high off their asses in post-coital bliss.

After a time, they calmed and lay in silence. Tulip grunted and lightly smacked Cassidy’s head.

“You boys are crushin’ me come on.”

Cass just groaned theatrically and dropped his head onto her chest.

“Can’t move. Must sleep,” his words muffled by Tulip’s breasts. Jesse laughed and hit Cass lightly on the shoulder.

“Come on buddy let’s not smother her.” Jesse wrapped his arms around the vampire and bodily lifted him off of Tulip and placed him next to her. Cass immediately scoot to cuddle into her side, nuzzling her hair and hugging Tulip to his chest.

Cass sighed happily. “Yeh smell horrible Tulip.”

Tulip scoffed and sat up, Cass made a sad whimper at the loss of contact.

“Are ya fuckin’ serious? You literally still have fuckin’ blood on ya Cass.”

“Oh shite, really?”

“You’re both fuckin’ disgusting alright? Go take a shower for Christ’s sake,” Jesse said, making a show of crinkling his nose.

Cass and Tulip exchanged a look and shared twin mischievous smiles. They clambered off the bed and ran for the bathroom, Cass pushing Tulip forward by her ass as she shrieked and turned to kick him in the shin. They fell over each other and slammed the door behind them. Jesse shook his head and rolled his eyes as the sound of running water mixed with echoing moans. He slipped on his pants and shirt and, sparing a glance and a grin at the bathroom, slipped out the front door.

---

Some time later, Cass and Tulip emerged from the bathroom, hot water long since used up, clean and utterly spent. Cassidy had his arm wrapped around Tulip’s waist when they halted, the room glaringly empty.

“Jesse?” Tulip felt a spike of worry. Cass tensed and cocked his head to the side like he was listening to something. He sniffed deeply and his expression shifted into that of a kid on Christmas morning. Tulip frowned at him in question, only for the front door to open and Jesse to step inside.

“Ya go somewhere?” Tulip put her hands on her hips. Jesse failed to hide a grin and chucked an umbrella at Cassidy and held out a set of car keys to Tulip.

“I knew you two were gonna be preoccupied for a while so I figured I’d have time to surprise ya.”

Tulip snatched the keys from his grasp and studied them. She froze and looked up at Jesse in amazement.

“You didn’t.”

“You bet I did.”

She threw the front door open and ran outside to find her purple Chevelle parked in place of the black SUV. Tulip couldn’t help but gasp and put a hand to her mouth. She circled the car, running her hand along it, checking for any new damage and finding none. Cassidy stepped out into the afternoon light underneath the umbrella, nudging into Jesse with his shoulder.

“Well done mate.”

Tulip ran back up to Jesse and jumped onto him, legs flailing behind her as she hugged him.

“How?” She breathed, eyes misty.

“Let’s just say you’re not the only one who now owes Danny a favor,” Jesse shrugged.

Tulip laughed and let go of Jesse. They all three grinned at each other and slid into the car.

“Oh baby I have missed you,” Tulip purred, running her hands along the steering wheel.

Jesse laced his hands behind his head and leaned back with a smug smile. Cass stretched out in the back and ran his hands along the vinyl.

“So. Where we goin’?” Jesse turned to Tulip.

She shrugged and looked in the rearview. “What do ya think Cass?”

Cass shifted forward with one arm leaning on Tulip’s seat and gestured down the seemingly endless highway.

“Tha’ way.”

Jesse quirked an eyebrow.

Cass nodded sagely and fell back into his seat with a crooked grin.

Jesse turned towards Tulip who smiled wide as she turned the keys and the engine roared.

The Chevelle peeled out onto the road and flew down the highway, racing the sun towards the horizon.

The End