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Two on the Vine

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"What are they, sir?"

"Don't call me sir," Jack whispered back to Dave, the two vampires speaking in sotto voice as they studied the phalanx of zombies before them. "And they're zombies," he added. "Dead ones, too. You can tell from the way they stand."

"Huh." Dave snorted. "I guess they're not the only ones!" Jack and Dave, immaculate in their pressed tuxes, were an odd pair when taken against the shabbily-but-uniformly dressed undead before them. Jack laughed too, though they both kept their voices down. Their mistress and the zombies' master were busy upstairs in the tenement together. What could bring Melinda and Baron Samedi together? With any luck, Jack would find that out later. But for now...

"Are you doing all right these nights, Dave? I haven't seen you since, you know, the thing in North Bay."

"Doing all right. Night shift at the blood bank is dull and all, but you know, it's nice to have steady work." Dave cast a glance Jack's way. "I'm surprised I don't see you there more often," he opined. "I know how you are." It was a bold thing to say to a superior in the complicated pecking order of vampire society, but in the quiet of a pre-dawn Lincoln alley, there was nobody there to hear.

"What, not feeding rough?" Jack waved his hand. "Just because I like people doesn't mean I don't like the way they taste. I mean, jeez, I don't know how you stand living on banked blood all the time. Might as well put you out to pasture."

"Just never got a taste for wild." Dave rubbed the side of his neck, frowning a little. "What do you think they're doing up there?" he asked, nodding up at the brightly-lit window visible two stories up.

"Look, man, I'm telling you, it's best not to think about. What do you think Melinda would do with someone who actually has necromantic powers?" The two vampire men looked at each other and crossed themselves, something of a blasphemy in the circles of the undead.

"Yeah, I guess not. Is guard duty always this...like this?" He waved to the zombies, who continued to stare at them both with flat, dead eyes. It was a bit like being watched by sharks, or ravening birds.

"You want to go back to guarding the blood bank full time?" asked Jack, trying to be concilatory for Dave's sake. The man really, really didn't want to be complaining where Melinda could hear him. "Because that wouldn't be too hard."

"No, I mean..." Dave shook his head. "I was hoping this would mean more than it does, you know? I'm a free agent, you're a free agent, and we're working for Melinda because she treats us so good."

"Freedom isn't something we're going to see a lot of, Dave. Not working directly for Melinda, anyway." Jack rubbed his eyes. "Didn't your sire tell you about this stuff?"

"We don't do a lot of talking these nights. He's got his business, I've got mine." Dave didn't quite look at him, and Jack knew that "look" only too well. "I just...I think it would be like this. Being dead."

"What, you thought it would be all the parties?" Jack asked, pain-flecked amusement in his voice. "Just the whole undead prince thing, forever and ever?" Dave gave him a look that said Well, yeah! "Me too," he admitted. "But it isn't. It's standing here in an alley while Melinda does God-knows-what up there; it's going out to bust up Grenville so they don't get any funny ideas, it's...you know. Everything." There weren't the words for the hungers and the passions, not in any language Jack knew. "But you know, there are other ways to do what needs to be done..."

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