Chapter 7

Skippy stood up and rubbed his bleary eyes. He’d been bent over his computer for so many hours straight that he could no longer tell how long it had been since he’d last eaten, and his stomach was making its displeasure well known.

He raised his hands above his head, clenched them together and stretched, rising up onto his toes. He groaned in pleasure as he felt his muscles stretch and his joints pop. Lowering his weight back fully onto his feet, he rotated his neck and felt the muscles there stretch, too.

He walked towards the common area, ducking his head to avoid hitting it on the low doorframe he passed through.

Marcus was busy preparing a Blood Mary, and when he saw Skippy enter the room, he wordlessly pulled another glass off the overhead rack, and filled it, too. Skippy settled at the bar and Marcus pushed the drink towards him.

Skippy picked up the glass and downed its contents in one long swallow. Placing the glass back on the bar, he looked up at Marcus expectantly.

Marcus swallowed his mouthful and looked back at Skippy as blandly as he could manage. “What?” he asked, a shade defensively.

“Well? How was your meeting?”

Marcus shrugged. “Oh, you know how these things go. “Overthrow the oppressors!” and all that. Nothing special.”

“No? So that wasn’t drool I saw on your chin when you came back in?”

Marcus blushed. He tended to prefer not to speak too much of his interests, and he especially didn’t want to talk about Dante to Skippy.

“It was nothing. How’s your project going?” he asked, in a transparent attempt to change the subject.

Skippy let him. “Well, if my goal was to melt lab equipment, I’d be totally up on the game. But so far, no other real breakthroughs. I know I”m close, but…” he trailed off and shook his head. Skippy’s current project had to do with developing a heavy-duty sunblock for vamps. He tested it on the synthetic skin he’d developed the year before. The skin was in very high demand for vamps who were in gangs, or who had the habit of antagonizing humans it worked well to replace skin damaged by sunlight or holy water.

“You’ll get it,” Marcus said. He had great respect and admiration for his friend, who was easily the smartest, most dedicated vamp in the city. Marcus had seen Skippy develop a lot of fantastic products through the years, the synthetic skin and blood not the least of them, and he knew Skippy wouldn’t give up on this one. He was very determined to make vamps’ lives a little more in tune with humans’.

The one thing Skippy had never explained to Marcus was his motivation behind all of these projects. While the two of them were perfectly content to remain vamps, with all of the advantages and disadvantages contained therein, not all vamps felt the same way. For some reason, these vamps always seemed to find their way to Skippy, and over the hundreds of years it had skewed his views somewhat; at least, that was as much as Marcus could piece together.

Skippy sighed and scrubbed his hands through his hair. He kept it trimmed short so it wouldn’t get in his way when he was working on his projects, and to keep himself from tearing at it in frustration. He never bothered to style it, as anything he did to it was almost immediately destroyed the moment he got lost in thought. The short, blonde spikes of hair that adorned his head served only to emphasize his blue eyes, and when combined with his muscles, he was a devastating sight to any vamp on the make.

Marcus, on the other hand, was slight of figure and easily – and often – overlooked. His hair was dark and flopped into his dark brown eyes, hiding them from view. He usually dressed in black, partly to hide the fact that he was colour-blind, but mostly to help blend. He preferred not to be noticed, and especially next to Skippy, he wasn’t.

While Skippy mulled over his chemical problems in his head, Marcus mulled over his relationship problems. Namely, his lack thereof. While he found himself quite drawn to Dante and his promise of danger and risk, Marcus couldn’t quite manage to let go of the lady he loved in the past. He’d known her back when he was a newly-made vamp, and he hadn’t been able to forget her ever since. However, he knew that it was time for him to move on and put her behind him, and try his best to move on to winning Dante.

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