The Run In

The third time Cole finds the wizard, it’s by accident. 

He’s hunting, coincidentally, a fae hybrid with sticky fingers. Not normally something that would merit calling him, by any stretch. But he hasn’t heard from Ari in weeks, nor has he gotten any other leads. So he’s both antsy and bored. Stuck feeling like he’s perpetually waiting. 

This is at least something. He tracks the halfling down easily enough. It’s rare that anyone he’s sent after expects to be hunted by something like him, but even rarer still that a kid like this anticipates- Well. He’s overkill. 

So he draws it out. 

Sits back and watches, gathering confirmation that the halfling is making a habit of taking things that don’t belong to them, not that he needs to. After the third or fourth family heirloom is nicked, Cole starts his lazy chase. Partially, he’s curious to see what the halfling will do if they think they’ve been caught, but he’s also enjoying being out. Doing something after months spent following dead ends and grasping at threads. 

It takes a couple of days for the kid to notice him, lingering in the distance. Tailing her around like a shadow. But then, she runs. Literally. 

Cole laughs and goes after her. Impressively, the kid ducks into a human grocery store. It’s nighttime so it isn’t exactly busy, but it’s resourceful still. Most wouldn’t follow them in. 

He isn’t most people, though. All senses turned toward his quarry, Cole gives her a bit of a lead before resuming his chase. 

They lock eyes for a moment at opposite ends of an aisle and the kid disappears once again. He grins and takes off. The impact of another body brings him to a sharp halt; his nostrils flare reflexively, expecting the smell of bleeding, whether internal or not, and he’s surprised to find none. 

Cole blinks and turns, apology forming on his lips and dying just as quickly. 

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me,” he says, looking at the items in his basket, then back at Cole. 

Something makes Cole glance down at the contents as well, distracted entirely from his pursuit by a blue eye that he knows now is matched by a red one and a basket full of the most ordinary things. It hits the floor with a sharp sound. The wizard is gone. 

Spitting a string of curses under his breath, Cole inhales, tasting the air for the halfling. The much closer scent of the hybrid fills his nose and mouth, threatening to derail him again. He forces himself to take a step. Then another. 

There. The halfling. In the back of his mind, he wonders if the kid noticed he was distracted. If she noticed why. 

No longer interested in his little game, Cole races out of the store and into the alley where the halfling is still trying to get away. He catches them by the back of the jacket, not even thinking about causing damage as he slams them into the wall. 

“Who are you? Wh-what do you want? I haven’t done anything and I don’t have any money,” the kid says. 

Something in it makes Cole laugh, which in turn just makes the kid whimper. “I wouldn’t want your money even if you did,” he says, smiling. 

The kid’s eyes flick down to his fangs, then back to his. “You’re- you’re a-“

“Observant now, are we? Makes two of us then. Want me to tell you what I’ve seen, or do you want to guess?”

“Please,” the halfling breathes. “Please – I’ll give it all back, just don’t- just don’t hurt me. I only took from those who had plenty- I’m just trying to-“

Cole’s fingers uncurl and the kid drops to the ground. Somehow, they manage not to collapse, although they do slump against the wall. 

“Two weeks ago, you took a necklace that didn’t belong to you. From a witch down south,” he says, voice coming out rough. Cole writes it off as fangs. 

The halfling nods slightly. 

“Give it back. And don’t give me a reason to have to find you again. You need money, you go to the market in Carrowreagh and find Caoimhe. You know where it is?”

Another little nod. 

“Good. Then get the fuck away from me before I change my mind.”

She’s gone with a speed that Cole would find impressive if he were in any mood. But he’s not. Scowling, he forces his fangs to retract and leaves in the opposite direction in search of a place to get out of the damp mist that has begun to sink into his clothes. 

Only after he’s found a meal and settled into a quiet table in the corner of a pub, beer in hand, does he pick up the phone. 


“Hello ulvehvalp, hope I’m not interrupting anything important.” He takes a sip of his beer, listening to the background noise that trickles through the line. 

“Nope. About to call work quits for the day. Hey sorry I haven’t called you. I haven’t had a ton of luck really. Like based on what you said, it seems like the house should be somewhere in-“

“Ireland, yes, about that. I found him.”

“What? Really?”

“Ran into him at the store.”

“You’re joking,” they say flatly. 

“Actually I’m being entirely literal.”

Ari huffs a laugh. “Damn. So now what?”

“Well, there’s the issue,” he says, shifting in his seat to try to get comfortable. It doesn’t work. His skin crawls with the feeling of eyes on him, even secluded in his little corner as he is. “He sort of… disappeared. Again.”

“What? Cole I thought you said you ran into him. How did he get away?”

“Yes, I ran into him. It’s not like I accosted him in public, though. I didn’t expect to see him somewhere so… normal.”

“So you wanted to?”

Cole blinks, confused. “What?”

“Accost him in public. Have you figured that part out yet?”

“What in god’s name are you talking about?” he hisses. 

“I’m gonna go ahead and take that as a no. Ok, so I’ll just keep looking. You think there’s a chance he’s somewhere nearby?”

He takes another slow sip, thinking. “I mean if he can just hop from place to place like that without needing a door, he could be anywhere. But at the same time, who goes to the middle of fucking nowhere Ireland to do their shopping?”

“Exactly. Ok so I’ll start digging around near there. Uh. Where are you? Or where’d you found him, I guess? Also, what are you doing in Ireland?”

“Had a job. And I’ll have you know that I did not kill anyone. Even let the kid go.”

“Wow, look at you,” Ari replies flatly. “Alright well I’m supposed to be getting off work now, so if you don’t have anything else for me…”

“No, go. I’ll text it to you or whatever.”

“Sure you can manage that? I know technology is a little hard for people your-“

Cole ends the call and immediately sends a middle finger emoji, followed by the location of the store. He finishes his beer quickly. Anxious. For answers. For results. 

For whatever comes after he’s free of this mess. 

Setting the glass aside, he reaches into his jacket and pulls out a tiny bottle. He doesn’t look at it. Doesn’t even dare uncurl his fingers; the chances that anyone would notice – much less realize what they were looking at – is small. But it’s very real. 

Old and generally untouchable as he is, even he isn’t exempt from the laws, as they may be, against the possession of unicorn blood. No matter that he’s had it since before those decrees, those norms, had changed. No matter how he got it. 

It still circulates, sure. He’s had a few of his bottles come back to him even. But all because he’s careful – only giving it to those he knows can’t or won’t turn him in, and only when nothing else will suffice, like the potionmaker. Cole has only risked carrying this one for so long in case this very thing happened. 

Not that he’d expected it to. 

After all, who just casually runs into the strange hybrid they’ve been searching for over the course of months to avoid having an uncollected debt hanging over their head? If only all his hunts were that easy. 

Still rolling the vial between his fingers, Cole’s mind wanders. The look of surprise on the wizard’s face- He’d left his groceries behind. That’s how badly he wanted to get away. 

Cole frowns and considers the possibility that he’s gotten this all wrong. Maybe he really was just trying to help, in his own strange way. But then, why won’t he just let Cole pay him? Surely he knows how these things work – how fae do things. Even the slightest of hybrids know that much, assuming they know they have the blood at all. 

And there’s no way he doesn’t know that much. Not when he’s bloody blue and has horns. 

Those aren’t fae, though. Sure, some of the more dramatic of the fair folk adopted antlers, but these were something else entirely. There’s the matter of his other eye, too- 

Only one species Cole knows of has eyes like that, with black sclera. He’s only met a couple of them, although met is a strong word for it. 


Encountered is a better way of putting it. The only way any decent being ever dealt with demons: briefly and by accident. 

Pocketing the vial, Cole pulls out his phone again. 

“Well?” he asks when the call connects. 

“‘Well’ what? You’re not really asking me if I’ve already found him?”

“Yes, ulvehvalp, that is exactly what I’m asking. I thought you said your fancy internet skills were faster than doing things my way.”

He hears Ari’s sigh through the speaker, followed by a question too distant for him to make out. “What does that even mean, anyways?”


“Ulvhal- whatever. Whatever it is you keep calling me.”

Cole breathes a laugh. “Yes well, you nearly ripped my throat out over my use of pet names, if you’ll recall. Find my wizard, little wolf.” He hangs up, trades his phone for his wallet, leaves enough cash for his beer, and walks out. 

He can’t be inside anymore, cursed drizzle be damned. It’s too much. Always, but especially now. The crush of people, all full of life and noise. And blood, yes, but that hasn’t been his issue in a long time. 

One craving traded for another, as it had turned out – right around the same time he could be in a room full of people again without the fear of his hunger, he couldn’t because he didn’t know how to be one of them anymore. To make things worse, the anxiety had begun to settle in. Fear of being found out. Of hunters. 

They had come for him, humans and other beings alike. Spellcasters who wanted him to enhance their own power. Fae who wanted him in their pockets. Even other vampires, as he got older, who were scared that he might try to take what was theirs. 

Cole didn’t want any of it. Doesn’t still. He just wants to be left alone. To live his life in peace. 


He huffs and kicks at a small stone in the road, watching as it bounces and careens away from him. 

No, he doesn’t have a life any more than the rock. Just another old, undead thing, waiting for the next external force to act on him so he can do something. 

“Fuck,” he mutters to himself. “I’ve gotta get laid or something. This shit’s pathetic.”

Pulling out his phone once again, Cole checks to see if he has an update from Ari – he doesn’t – then looks to see if there’s anything a bit more exciting nearby – there is. 

Done brooding, he hails a cab and gives the man the address of his next stop. 

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