As the Crow Flies

 From now-innate senses and with speed humans couldn't hope to match, Gavin moved his booted foot from the gas to the brake, swerving into the shoulder beside the highway, marveling at how easily the vehicle handled itself with such rough treatment. Coira popped the door and was afoot before he could say anything. Gavin pulled ahead and into the shoulder fifty feet in front of her, rushing to find the hazard lights, remembering the button she'd pressed near the beginning of their journey.

 He yanked the parking brake, thankful that the piece didn't break clean in two at his force. Out of the car, the thin traffic pulled into the left lane rather more politely than he expected of backwater Oregon–last thing he needed was someone pulling over to offer help. Hesitating beside the driver's door, bulk pressed against the chassis, he watched the road.

 When the last car passed, and no more headlights came their way, Gavin stepped away from the vehicle, incredible speed putting him at Coria's side in time to hear her speak in a mostly-unfamiliar tongue. It wasn't Gaelic, but it sounded close to the bits and pieces of Romance languages he knew.

 "Must be Latin?" Gavin asked, approaching the tree. "Turn tha' damn thing oof so I'cn see," he demanded, putting a hand up to the rough bark. An omega? Confused, Gavin turned his head to Coria, hyper-aware than he'd given her his back. He turned slightly to salve his pride. "Suspect yeh ken the meaning?"

The speed did not startle, but Gavin's reemergence gave her pause. She'd handed him the keys to opportunity, left him unchaperoned, and yet he chose to follow her into an uncertain darkness with the threat of silver bullets and a promised sunrise. Faced with his back, Coria's eyes narrowed, the significance of the detail lodging itself beneath her skin like an unexpected splinter. The feeling was foreign, uncomfortable...but not unpleasant.

With his voice, discernment disappeared behind the soft edges of a smile.

"Yes, its Latin," she responded, as bidden, turning off the light for his vampire eyes to see. "Its a mark of the Etaim." How strange a thing to speak out loud, her very breath seeming to coil with a simmering hatred. "Etaim means...not yet finished....loosely, in intention, of course. Literally, it translates to and, and still. A pierced omega," she said, flanking him by the the trunk, "to conquer eternity or death, as I've interpreted it....but you've gleaned most of this on your own already."

She shifted to face him, side pressing against the tree, wading through the depths of his shadowed eyes before deciding on an honest, more pinpointed response. "The Etaim are a clan of reapers," she offered, looking away and towards the passing headlights, the niggle of pain enflamed by the artificial brightness.

"My brother and I have been searching for them."

Gavin faced her fully, not bothering to examine the symbol any longer. He knew the look of it now, and would know it again should he cross paths with it. The elucidation, however, made him feel something–an odd thing when you were accustomed to nothing–like a chill. It sounded dirty. He couldn't explain better.

"Oh, aye?" This was rhetorical, but Gavin rather thought she'd given him too much credit. His favorite demons were the edible, human kind, and never his own. At least, not in the last century. "Never heard of 'em," Gavin said, honest. “Dunnae meet many of me’own kind. Least of all a’purpose. Can be a crowd when we gather.” She knew what he was; that knowledge usually came along with a certain amount of understanding. He didn’t explain further. But his gaze wandered again to the symbol, thinking about what she’d told him. How much history had he been deaf and blind to?

"And where be yer brother now?" Gavin asked, curious.

The wind picked at her skin with enough bite to cause the hair on her arms to rise, the cold inspiring the faintest flush against scarred cheeks and the slightest quickening of an otherwise steady heart. "Their crowd is very exclusive," she offered, a slurry of too-revealing synonyms securely fettered behind a practiced ambiguity.

Vitus would like you.

Strong, handsome, observant, but isolated and vulnerable. Gavin would either be broken to compliance or culled.

"And one I advise you to avoid."

The Etaim's hand would stretch into Portland soon if it hadn't already, for a moment, amber eyes unfocusing as implications materialized behind Gavin's words. "Likely trying to track my location," she answered honestly, using the sky, instead of the face of her watch, to gauge the time, "We should go."

The sun wouldn't wait, and they still had miles to cover. But first...

"Give me two minutes?"

 Her mind was elsewhere. He could see it in her eyes, but this wasn’t his show. Exclusive. That sounded familiar. He wouldn’t call his own group exclusive, but they didn’t turn their prey. Ever. Bad for business, it was, giving your average sociopath eternal life. Her warning made him hmph with derision. He’d made it this long without falling in with high-society vampires, and he wasn’t about to start.

 She looked up into the night, and Gavin mimicked her, wondering what she saw. The dark expanse was clear of light pollution, and the stars winked against the blackness. This human didn’t feel right—not in a ‘there’s sommat wrong wit ye’ way,’ just…there was an elevation in her that he did not see in humans; an otherness that felt out of time. Maybe he hadn’t spoken to one in too long, though. Were they all like this? Couldn’t be.

 Staring upwards longer than she, her question brought him back to reality.

 “S’yer car,” he responded, shrugging. He began to troop back to the vehicle, hands thrust in the pockets of his jeans.

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