At the break of dawn on the most romantic day of the year, storm clouds loomed overhead as snow flurries gingerly danced to the asphalt pathway through the city's park. Her black, leather boots crunched over the accumulating snow, careful not to misstep and slip on black ice, her aquatic blue eyes fixated on the path ahead and her raven hair swayed against the frigid wind. In her hand was an old book she used to read and had been shelved for many years. Naomi made her way to an old bench, one far older than her and has remained an important location throughout her lineage. It was where her father and mother came to meet each other time and time again, scheduling dates and dinners, and eventually a proposal. It was here where her name was first spoken when her mother was pregnant with both her and her brother.
Now here she was, wiping off the snow from the old, cracked wooden bars for her to sit upon. Still cold and damp, but there she would sit, waiting for no one with her book in lap, her breath leaving her nostrils in a plume of smoke that dissipated quickly. Her fingertips caught the edges of the old pages as she flipped to the first chapter, however, something caught her eye. A small white triangle protruded from the bottom of the book through the wall of pages. Curious yet hesitant, Naomi's nail pried open the pages where the white triangle protruded from, only to be stunned to see what she had flipped to.
Her eyes widened ever so slightly as what now was in her lap were two Polaroid photos of Apollo. Naomi examined each one closely, wiping off any snowflakes that may have landed on the pictures. She placed them back in the book to protect them from the snow that was now falling in heavier flakes. Naomi arose from her seat to a cafe just outside the park's exit, wiping her boots on the welcome mat, and took off her coat as she settled in a booth and ordered a black coffee. She opened the book to where the photos lay and began to reminisce about each event she shared with the Elder Vampire.
- - -
The first photo was captured on a late summer afternoon along the beach. Not too many people were there that day, which made it an opportune location for a date. Naomi remembered herself reluctantly wearing a summer dress, in exchange to see Apollo walk in broad daylight. He wore a pair of levi jeans and a red long-sleeved shirt.
Apollo had bought Naomi vanilla ice cream on a waffle cone, holding hands as they strolled barefoot along the wet sand as small waves rolled over and splashed at their ankles. The ocean breeze whipped her hair around and made the hem of her dress flap and wave.
"Glad to see you haven't combusted or melted yet." Naomi commented with a grin, gently squeezing his hand in hers as she finished the ice cream in the other. Her fingertips remained sticky from the ice cream.
Apollo rose an eyebrow and smirked at her, giving her hand a slight squeeze in return. "Yeah? Then what would you do if I did?" He asked with a purr, taking her other wrist and licking the sticky residue off her fingers. His cornsilk hair were like rays of sunshine, glowing from the waning light of the evening summer sun. She remembered his glacier blue eyes glistening as ice would do against the sunlight.
Naomi took away her hand as she chuckled. "Well, I'd let your blood soak and clump in the sand like cat litter, and then maybe clean up your remains." When Apollo frowned, Naomi leaned in to kiss his cheek. "I wouldn't let anything happen to you, I promise." She reassured.
"Nor to you." He replied with a grin tugging his lips. They ventured across the shore, watching as the sun dipped below the horizon, listening to the waves roll onto the sandy beach, and picking up a few shells along the way. Naomi found a football a few minutes later and pondered.
"How about, if you can catch this ball without using your vampire speed, I'll let you take me out on another date? You can choose the place, deal?" She offered.
He shrugged, this was going to be easy. "Deal, ready when you are, Little Wolf."
At that, Naomi chucked the ball as far as she could throw it...
...and indeed, he did catch it.
Naomi smiled as she ran over to where Apollo lay, laughing as she took his picture of him laying on his back on the sand with the football in his hand.
- - -
The sound of a mug clicking against the tabletop stirred her back to the booth of the cafe, where a waitress had brought her her order. Naomi thanked her for the coffee and looked back at the picture. Just looking at the image brought a visceral feeling of nostalgia. This was with one photo, would she feel the same with the others? She placed that photo down, took a sip of her coffee, and lifted the other to send herself into another powerful flashback.
- - -
Naomi was brought back to a summer night, several years ago, the first time she had ever met Apollonius Grimm. At the time, Naomi was a mercenary for hire, following in her father's footsteps. She was tying up someone's loose ends by having to kill a man silently and delivering the body to a checkpoint for the customer to pick up and deal with by themselves.
She remembered the man begging for his life quietly when Naomi cornered him into an alleyway, and how she felt absolutely nothing and ended his life swiftly. Of course, she wasn't alone, the vampire having watched the whole show go down from the rooftop above.
"You know, when a man begs for his life....sometimes it's better to just let them run." A honey-smooth, softly spoken voice coming from the entrance of the alleyway. Looking back, Naomi could have done anything; shot him, told him to get lost, or simply ignore him. No, instead, she offered him a taste of her victim in a sarcastic manner. After placing the corpse in a body bag, she walked toward the entrance and remembered distinctly smelling chocolate and dark spices. Even more intriguing, she could hear a beating heart coming from the stranger. This was perplexing, and Naomi found herself wanting to learn more about the man she just met. He mentioned something about hunting, and decided to take up his offer of joining him.
Elbows locked together, they learned a little about one another on the way to the bar, Apollo gained the knowledge of her wolf form and Naomi was informed that he was an Elder Vampire. She was also informed that they would be luring a potential victim to his demise. Naomi planned with Apollo how the hunt would be initiated just outside the bar. It was then, at that moment, she knew she had made a friend, pecking him on the lips for good luck before she ventured inside the bar. Looking around, Naomi finally set her eyes to a middle aged man who just experienced a breakup and was drinking his worries away. This couldn’t have been a more perfect victim, he didn’t look like the sort to have many ties and he was drinking himself to death. Naomi sat next to him in a suave manner and started flirting away, it didn’t take long to grab his attention. Apollo came in moments later to watch, but made himself invisible by smooth talking his way into an empty discussion with two other women sitting in the bar. Both of them sat in places where they stole glances at one another without the people around them noticing. Her victim had to use the bathroom, so Naomi took the time to see what Apollo was doing and even managed to take a photo.
When he came back, Naomi lured him out of the bar and to a hotel room. A few minutes later, Apollo came to the hotel room, only to find the man that Naomi had lured to be blindfolded, gagged, and his limbs tied to the opposite bedframes. He was splayed out like a roasted pig before a feast.
Then, there was darkness, a few images flashed through her mind. One was her nails digging through the man’s flesh, another were her blood covered hands holding her victim’s heart and Apollo’s hands cupping hers. When Naomi did come to, she remembered looking herself in the mirror, her mouth and hands covered in blood. A high pitched noise rang in her ear as her vision was beginning to focus. Apollo was asking her a series of questions while he wiped her mouth and hands clean, asking mainly how she kept the wolf at bay, but then what he said next took her off guard.
“You have humanity because you have people you care about. You have people that care about you and you in turn think about them. And don't you dare say you don't care about them or you aren't sure if you do because the thought of how they would respond wouldn't affect you the way it does if you didn't care about them.”
Naomi shook from the memory as the bell above the door rang as another customer came into the cafe. She sighed heavily as she felt nostalgic from the vents that occurred. Naomi remembered how sincere his words were, and she knew she wanted to be with him at that moment. Then it came to her realization that it was her doing when they broke up. Still, she wondered where he was, what he was doing, and if anything would have changed if they were still together. That last thought Naomi had always shook away, besides…
...if you love something, it’s better to let it go, right?
She placed the photos together on the page of the book where she first found them, then closed the book, making sure the photos weren’t sticking out this time. Naomi sipped her black coffee as she peered out the window, the snow had accumulated about an inch and she needed to get home soon. After paying for her drink, she got up from her booth and slipped on her long, black coat. As she walked out of the cafe and into the cold, the book was clutched warmly against her frame and Naomi couldn’t help but grin as more memories of Apollo flooded through her mind as she strolled back home that frigid morning.