It was hot in the Kapalıçarşı—and the air was heavy, filled with a myriad of overpowering scents from the loud throng of humans that were weaving their way through the Cevahir Bedesten. There were far too many tourists for his liking, all staring wide eyed at the wondrous antiquities that surrounded them; they were things most couldn’t afford to even touch, let alone purchase and take home with them. Normally it wouldn’t have bothered him—he loved to see people amazed by the sights of the beautiful city; the frenzied pace of the bazaar usually filled him with energy… but today… today was different.
Perhaps it was a sign that he was getting old.
Glancing down at his watch, he sighed with irritation; he’d finished all his shopping and had gifts for everyone at home… well, all except one person—which was why he was standing in the tiny, prestigious shop in the very center of the market. Few knew that hidden away in the back room was an old world zanaatkâr—a master at his trade. The tourists came here for sepiolite pipes, never realizing the real treasure they were missing—a man who could shred and mix the finest tobacco blends that the world had ever seen.
Which was why he couldn’t be rushed, no matter how impatient the customer might be.
The old man was a purist, so dedicated to his trade that he’d furiously refused to fill the order that had been placed—he wouldn’t sully his Ismir and Samsun with something as common as clove. It would spoil the taste—overriding the hints of fruit and honey that teased the senses and left a sweet taste on the tongue. A hefty bribe… had changed his mind. Expensive—but it had to be done. Young Ivashkov would never go back to smoking those God-awful Kreteks once he experienced a taste of Türk Pipo Tütünü—a true Turkish blend.
To pass the time he eyes the pipes that were on prominent display; when the vendor offered a sampling he wasn’t about to refuse. The porous pipe enhanced the flavor of the tobacco, making a flavorful smoke that was a sensory delight. The decision to purchase a few was wasn’t a hard one to make; he called out that he would take two—and that was when the young dhampir standing near the doorway caught his eye.
She was short—perhaps Janine’s height… maybe an inch or two more—with a mass of dark curls and eyes like his own… and the kind of figure that caught the vendor’s attention—too bad he’d probably receive a broken nose in exchange for the disrespectful leer on his face.
And his day just got a hell of a lot more interesting—but not for the reason most might assume.
“Ahhh… what have we here? I believe it’s a little lost sheep that has strayed way too far from the flock. Or perhaps I should say a kadın çoban—after all I suppose you would be considered the shepherdess, watching over all the helpless little Moroi, wouldn’t you agree, Guardian Blake?”
Here she was thinking that she was nice and safe away from the eyes of the world she was running away from – successfully for years, might she add – but of course, it wasn’t the case. She never should’ve gone to the bazaar. It was too open, too exposed. Too many people and though she was so sure that no one would recognize her – who would on this side of the world? – she shouldn’t have been so complacent.
Anita closed her eyes with a quiet exhale when she heard that voice. That oh so familiar voice that made her groan and wonder how hard she would punch the Moroi so he could forget her presence. Anita pulled her sleeves down further to make sure he didn’t spot the scars left behind from her battles with Strigoi, avoiding Abe’s gaze as she placed down the object she was observing from the nearby stall.
“I’m afraid you have me confused with another.” She played ignorant, offering a forced smile to the vendor who normally would’ve received a punch to the nose or something a little more violent. But she had appearances to keep up with.
Just a normal woman, nothing special here. She did not need people to find out that she was still alive and kicking.
“Yeah,” he said, feeling a little ill. “I remember everything. I don’t know how much they told you but I was living in Boston at the time, and I was out camping with three friends… well,” he admitted. “That makes it sound like we were being all outdoorsy, but really, we just… hiked a bit during the day and got drunk at night. Saturday night – our third night – we heard this wolf, thought nothing much of it. And then suddenly, it was throwing itself at our tent. We bolted out, all running for the car… my friend, I…”
He couldn’t talk about it. But maybe he needed to.
“It went for his throat. He was screaming and then he wasn’t. I kicked at the thing’s jaw and it turned, like, pissed off, bit into my calf. My friends dragged me into the car. We couldn’t even… I mean we didn’t check, but we were sure he was dead. I still feel sick about that, but we couldn’t get out of the car, and his eyes were glassy…”
“They drove me to the hospital, and I got a thousand shots, and stitches, but a month later…”
Okay, he needed a change of subject.
“What’s St. Louis like…? Sorry I just blurted all that…”
Shit. She shouldn’t have asked. Anita pursed her lips as she listened to the kid, grabbing the coffee and pouring him a little more in his mug, noting the details. Boston. Wolf. Camping. She’d have to research this, have a look at the records and figure this out. For Ric.
“Look, kid. I shouldn’t have mentioned it..” She started, looking up and seeing the expression on his face. It broke her heart. Anita moved towards a cupboard and took out another jar of Niko’s famous cookies. She popped off the lid and slid it towards the youngest. He looked like he needed it.
“Uh. Dark?” She chuckled. “I’m usually catching it in the dark. I work a lot of nights.” Necromancy and vampire executing weren’t exactly ‘by day’ professions. “I haven’t actually seen much of it, to be honest. I went pretty much from university to work, and work is.. hell. Either in the office, the police station or sleeping during the day, and doing something with dead things at night. You can see why I’m kinda glad to stay here as long as I can.” She grinned.
Imagine finding a dragon egg one day, and it hatches in your house and thinks you’re its mom. Then the next morning you wake up and find this mini dragon has gathered all the lose change and shiny objects in your house in a pile, and is gnawing on a nickel. And then when you take it out for walks, it picks up every coin it sees cause its a hoarder. And your house is eventually full of coins. And you are rich. And have a dragon.
“A bachelor’s? In… okay, guess I’ve been lookin’ at the wrong course catalogues. I’m lookin’ for plain old vet science, maybe with a side of zoology. I once found some wolves when I turned, you know. Kinda what got me started readin’ about ’em. They didn’t approach me, but they didn’t want me approachin’ them, either. They knew there was something different about me. Something wrong. Guess I smelled wrong. But it was weird, the craving for a pack. Here, I got it.”
And Nik, too, he thought, but didn’t say.
“I wondered a lot about the wolf that bit me, thought about going to try to find him… her, him, whatever, but I didn’t do it, because… well, it killed my friend, and it changed my life, and I just didn’t care how lonely it was, I couldn’t have forgiven it, so why try?” He shrugged. “I’m fine, now. Got the best Ulfric ever, I have it on good authority, and I got Nik, so…”
It really was hard to keep Nik out of every sentence.
He drained his coffee mug, listening out for a car, or Nik’s bike. “It’ll be hard to go, but I don’t want to not go to college because of this. Nik says he’ll work for Niko, and I’ll go to school close enough to visit most weekends. We’ll manage. Maybe if I ask all the right questions I’ll get a note under my door inviting me to join supernatural - preternatural - biology club.” He shrugged, and pushed the mug away.
“How long are you staying?”
Anita listened contently until she heard about the wolf that bit Ric. And killed his friend. The Federal Marshal in her perked up, maybe a little more strongly than normal considering she actually liked this kid. “Do you remember anything about it?” She asked, very calmly as she sipped on her coffee, watching Ric for any sign on his face that she could pick up. Okay, Anita. Not an interrogation. Down, girl.
"You do have the best Ulfric." She grinned, widening when he mentioned Nik. Especially because he was smiling like that. He was happy. Nik made him happy. And obviously Nik was happy too, so lots of happiness all round.
"You’ll make it work. You two will make it work. And if you don’t get that note under your door, you can always direct your preternatural questions to me. I’m an open bestiary." She smiled wide and finished off her coffee with a satisfied sigh. Maybe she might try for another cup. It was still early. Or late for her.
"Supposed to be a week, but that week ended.. last Thursday? So I guess until work calls me back to St Louis."
Nik shook his head, trying to give her a reassuring smile.
“What? No, it’s fine. I’m fine. I’m not hurt. I’m fine, nothing happened. He… he was a vamp- he had to die. Right? He was about to attack you and if you – he would have – that was some crazy shit, man.”
He was still shaking, but it wasn’t fear, it was adrenaline pumping through his body, making him want to shift and… and do something. He looked down at the dead body and couldn’t hold back a growl.
“He’s – he stinks.”
He didn’t, not really, the vampire didn’t smell like anything to be honest, but he had to say something to distract her.
“We did the right thing here, right?”
"He killed people, Nik." She didn’t go around killing things because she could. She had a job, a warrant. The vampire had to die. He was a danger and he broke the law. Anita licked her lips and didn’t move the hand she had placed on his, a very gentle touch as she looked towards the werewolf.
"I can show you the warrant, if you like. I don’t.. I’m an executioner, Nik. I kill the things that break the law. I don’t just murder vampires for kicks. I swear. This was the right thing." Okay, note to self - don’t take your best friend’s son out for hunts. She was going to cop it from Niko, she just knew it.
"Look, I have to call this in to the local police department, but you wanna wait so I can give you a ride home?"
Forgive me for my absence. Internship is kicking my ass. But good news! Today is my last visit from the uni supervisor. :D
My kingdom for a VA au.
Where Anita was a guardian for a family but she failed, they got killed by Strigoi so she fell off the grid. Just hunting Strigoi on her own now, trying to make up for her mistakes. And her scars.
And she’s lost count on how many she’s killed
And somehow ends up coming across a Moroi or Dhampir and it’s like.. “.. you didn’t see anything.” because she doesn’t want to go back, she’s not ready to go back. Plus everyone would’ve thought she was dead. It was years ago when the family was attacked and they all just assumed she was killed or turned.
Okay. Someone needs to give this to me.
"Star-Lord.” Wierdo with the weird name. It didn’t upset it, it just annoyed him. He glared over he shoulder before looking her in the eye. “Sky Prince. Please. Where the hell did that even come from.”
"Ahh." Star Lord. Yeah, that sounded better. "I don’t know, where the hell did ‘Star Lord’ come from? Lemme just say, it’s striking fear in the hearts of no one."
"Okay, if you’re gonna say my name is stupid, at least get it right.”
"You’re the weirdo with the weird name?" Who was she to talk about nicknames? She went by ‘The Executioner’ but at least that struck fear into people’s hearts. What did whatever his name do? Make people laugh? "C’mon then, what is it? Was I close?"
[text] I’m hurrying!
[text] I swear, I’m coming as fast as I can.
[text] I’ve called him. He’s not answering.
[text] But I will be there, okay? I promise!