We dismounted Spike's motorcycle outside a small, old, cobblestone building down a lonely road a short while later. The wooden sign hanging from a post above the door bore an etching of a deep red liquid in an elegant cocktail glass. Above it was the bar's name, The Crimson Spirit, in a Halloween-esque font.
"Kind of like the mascot/logo thing for The Misfits," I giggled.
"Actually, it's referring to blood," Spike stated matter-of-factly, directing me toward the door.
I rolled my eyes. "I figured, what with the vampires and all. I'm not daft, Spike; it's not like I don't talk to you practically every night."
"True enough," he conceded, grasping the ornate iron doorhandle, opening the door, and gently nudging me inside.
The dimly-lit interior of the bar was absolutely captivating. The walls were of a rich, dark wood; and they were lined with neon liquor signs and posters for numerous horror films, many of which had to do with vampires. Scattered about the bar were all sorts of beings: vampires, demons, as well as one or two humans (however, Spike informed me, they were most likely someone's drink.) Mildly unnerved at the thought that I may be mistaken for a fresh cocktail, I grasped Spike's arm and walked with him to the counter.
The bartender, a tall vampire with a sickly complexion and poorly-dyed neon orange spiked hair (with bold black roots), looked up; first to Spike, then to me, then back again.
"My my, Spike," he began, running his tongue lightly over his teeth and looking at me once more, "it's so unlike you to bring fresh blood to the bar. But how many times do I have to tell everyone that drop-offs are in the back?"
Spike glared at him, and my grip on Spike's arm tightened. What the hell was he getting me into?
"Of course," the bartender continued, reaching for me, "it'll be a shame to drain her; she's so beautiful and young."
When was the last time he got his eyes checked? I wasn't that good-looking.
"But I suppose sacrifices must be made," he finished, his black-polished nails slightly touching my cheek. I recoiled sharply and buried myself in Spike's side. I normally wasn't afraid of vampires; however, there I was gravely outnumbered.
"Aw, she's just a jumpy little morsel, isn't she?" the bartender added as Spike wrapped an arm tightly around me, practically cementing me to his side. "How much do you want for her?"
"She's not for sale, Fang," Spike growled, anger flickering in his eyes. "She's a very good friend of mine, and I brought her here so she could get plastered safely."
Fang scoffed. "Safely? In a bar full of vampires? Spike, honestly."
I tried not to laugh; I had thought the same thing.
Spike shrugged, conceding that Fang did indeed have a point. Staring him dead in the eyes, he explained, "She was afraid to go to The Bronze because she didn't want to get harassed; that and she isn't exactly in Bronze-preferred apparel. Also, there's a slight chance she might've ran into her boss at The Bronze; and from what I hear, he's a womanizing bastard."
Damn, Spike had a good memory. Roughly a year prior, my boss had tried to pick up one of my co-workers at The Bronze. And the prick was married! I completely loathed that son of a bitch, but work was hard to find.
Fang nodded in comprehension. "Okay, Spike. I'll spread the word around that no one's to mess with Miss…?"
He glanced at me questioningly.
"What is your name, Miss?"
Smiling sheepishly (I still don't know why), I replied, "Genevieve. Genevieve Rathbone."
Grinning, Fang repeated, "No one's to mess with Miss Genevieve Rathbone, lest they suffer a stake to the heart."
"Good man," Spike approved, sitting on a barstool and signaling me to do the same.
Grabbing a wine goblet and pivoting to face a set of seven scarlet taps, Fang inquired, "What type tonight, Spike?"
Contemplating a minute, he answered, "I'm in the mood for the rare stuff tonight, Fang. I'll take O positive."
Fang whistled, pulling the tap and filling the glass. "That's unlike you," he commented, as he placed the goblet on the bar before Spike. "You tend to lean more toward A positive."
I gulped; that was my blood type.
"What'll you have, Genevieve?" Fang queried, turning toward the numerous liquor bottles behind him.
"Scotch. Rocks. Four fingers," I recited like clockwork.
Both Fang and Spike stared at me, wide-eyed, with mouths gaping.
"Bitch of a day," I justified, smirking.
I was nursing my fourth scotch when I felt myself beginning to drastically lose focus. My eyes drifted purposelessly from person-to-person and object-to-object, briefly inspecting each before moving to the next. The only thing that I was truly aware of was Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" playing on the radio.
I come from the land of the ice and snow
From the midnight sun where the hot springs blow
Hammer of the gods
Attempting to concentrate on the lyrics, my focus slowly returned. When my eyes finally ceased darting, they came to rest on the goblet of blood in front of Spike. For a long while, I simply stared at it, its rich burgundy color hypnotizing me.
Blood never really struck me as particularly palatable. Sure, it's wonderful, as long as it's still in one's veins or at a blood bank, but it's not something most people would ever consider drinking. I just didn't see how vampires could do it. What was the appeal?
"I know what you're thinking," Spike informed me, placing a hand on my thigh.
I jumped slightly at the feeling of his hand on my leg; partially because it had yanked me out of my trance, and partially because it sent not-so-unpleasant tremors throughout my body.
Recovering rapidly, I flashed my eyes in his direction and muttered, "Don't go all Edward Cullen on me, Spike."
"Little poser," Fang grumbled, filling himself a goblet of B positive blood.
"Young brat's making us all look like pansy-ass pretty-boys," Spike added, a distasteful look on his face.
I smiled warmly at him and giggled, hiccupping slightly. "Oh, like you're not pretty!"
Fang gave a wry smirk, took a sip of blood, and snickered. "I think she wants you, Spike."
Spike moved his hand from my thigh to my shoulder to prevent me from falling over in a spasm of laughter.
"I think it's the alcohol," he argued, after finally getting me to lean my elbows on the bar. Waiting a while for me to get myself under control, he said, "You know what I meant."
My mind retraced the last few minutes as I tried to recall what he was talking about. My expression grew impossibly vacant. As I became aware of this, I shook my head violently and my gaze fell upon the goblet once more.
"You wanna know how I can stand it, don't you?" Spike probed gently.
I nodded slowly, becoming reasonably coherent again.
Fang leaned on the bar and addressed Spike, idly playing with a small point of his orange hair as he did so. "You knew it was only a matter of time, man. If you're as close to her as I think you are, I'm amazed she wasn't curious about this sooner."
In a low voice, Spike responded, "Yeah; me too."
Raising a pierced eyebrow, Fang inquired, "You gonna give her Vampiric Need 101?"
"Might as well."
"You're on your own," Fang chuckled, patting Spike's shoulder and walking to the other end of the bar.
I swallowed hard. Had I just broken some vampire/mortal code? Did Spike have to drain me now or something? If not, the grim contemplation on his face could've fooled me. The anticipation was torture enough; I prayed I wasn't about to become the bar's fresh supplies after all.
Trembling slightly, I reached out and touched Spike's knee, causing him to slowly face me.
Seeing the panic on my face, he smiled reassuringly and said, "Relax, it's perfectly normal to want to know. We're not gonna kill you or anything."
I exhaled dramatically in relief.
Scanning the walls of the bar, he clarified, "I'm just trying to think of the best way to explain it." His eyes falling on an obviously aged poster, he asked, "Have you ever seen Nosferatu?"
I scoffed. "Duh! Make it a point to watch it at least once every year."
"Well, it's kinda like that."
I cocked my head in an inquisitve manner, an idiosyncrasy I had picked up from combined sources (Castiel from Supernatural, my friend Kellie, a dog I once had.) "You don't look anything like Count Orlok."
He chuckled and raised the goblet to his lips, taking a small sip before saying, "I'll take that as a compliment." Not setting his drink back down, he elaborated, "You know how Orlok went through any and all in his path to get from Transylvania to Germany to drain one particular woman, for no obvious reason?"
I nodded vaguely.
"That's more or less what it is. We have no clue what the attraction is; we just have this hopeless bloodlust etched into our beings." Watching my unchanging expression, he queried, "You still don't quite get it, do you?"
I smirked and shrugged. "I understand that you're just driven to it; I just don't see why."
Spike scoffed. "Join the club."
After a short while, he gazed at the bizarre beverage in his hand. Contemplating a good five minutes, he held it in front of me.
Raising my eyebrows, I looked at it reproachfully. "Spike…?"
His eyes meeting mine in a serious stare, he said quietly (yet firmly), "Drink it."
My hazel eyes widened. "What?"
"Well, only a sip," he clarified, grasping my hand with his free one and twining my fingers around the stem of the goblet. "Any more than that may make you sick."
Examining the dark red substance before me, I asked, "Why am I doing this?"
"Dunno exactly. My theory is that maybe you'll find the answer you're looking for."
"And if not?"
He shrugged. "If not, you'll have an interesting story to tell Kellie or Amanda."
(Don't get the wrong impression; Kellie and Amanda weren't my only friends. It's just that they were the only two who had met Spike. Also, they subsequently were the only ones who knew he was a vampire.)
Sighing, I brought the goblet to my nose and inhaled deeply. I recoiled just a tad as the pungent odor of blood invaded my nostrils. Honestly, I should have seen that coming; it's not like I hadn't smelt blood before. Really, who hasn't? I shuddered as I brought the cool glass to rest on my lips, anticipating the unusual sensation that was bound to come next. Tilting the glass, I parted my lips, allowing a small portion of the awkwardly warm liquid to pass through. The instant the metallic taste of human blood engulfed my tastebuds, I cringed and gagged.
I thought I was going to die.
Reluctantly, I forced myself to swallow.
My eyes watering from the unusual experience, I glanced over at Spike. Not surprisingly, he was trying not to laugh.
"Well," he managed with a poorly stifled chuckle, "someone would make a horrible vampire!"
Shooting him a deathglare that Severus Snape would be proud of, I growled, "It's an acquired taste, I'm sure."
After staring at me for about half a minute, Spike burst into hysterical laughter. "You are so damn cute when you're pissed!"
I rolled my eyes and slumped over the counter. "Fuck off, Spike," I groaned, burying my face in my hands.
"Fang!" Spike called, swiveling his stool to face the main section of the bar. "Could we get another scotch for the basket-case over here?"
I laid my head on the counter, turned away from him, and smirked.
That blood-sucking bastard was lucky I loved him.