All those cages were dull, featureless holes for things to die. Harley was sure. They were large enough for the cats to pace, but it was hardly enough space to truly stretch your limbs. Those human cages were far worse if you asked her. It was oppressive and it felt like those silver bars were closing in on you. There was no privacy, no enrichment, no hope. Your only sense of time was Ruben and his routine checks. Even though then, you never knew if it were hours, days, or less. There was a clock that was broken staring down at the room as if to mock all those that bothered to look. Get comfortable, time is of no use to you it seemed to say. She hardly allowed her thoughts linger on that moment of her own stay where she was robbed of food and access to water. This room was a death sentence. The feeders were the first to lose that look, hell some of them came in already in rough shape, not even bothering to try and claw the iv's that painfully lingered embedded in their bruised anaemic arms. It gave a whole new meaning to blood on tap.
Disposable. Every last being in this twisted underground hell hole. She was doomed to a life of servitude, to follow at the heel of some vampire to do his very bidding. There was no getting through to any strand of humanity when none remained. Why that hadn't settled in before she hardly knew. How did Tetradore do it? She didn't get the impression that he liked it. His actions were automatic, like a robot lacking any source of emotion whatsoever. Darcy liked it. He liked the power, the respect he received. She could see it in the way he handled Ruben and the way the tall, slender vampire backed down to him. It was like watching an episode of National Geographic. Vampires, it would seem, were far more animalistic than they would probably like to admit. Just because they could talk and wear clothes. It didn't hide the fact that they were beasts, not humans that she contended with.
At the very least, the one thing the pair could agree upon was their dislike for Tetradore. Harley uttered that very jest, her words filled with that resilience she often found when she spoke. For but a flash of a second Darcy actually smiled, it happened so fucking quick that she thought she imagined it. Yet there was no trace of it as it was all but wiped clean from his usually eerily apathetic features. All the while Ruben seemed morbidly fascinated with poking and prodding that poor malnourished Serval in the cage, void of any sense of fight. It was beyond cruel and yet there were those that suffered far worse within these walls. How long had he been robbed of food? It was a wonder he could even stand at all even though his limbs shook violently beneath his own weight. Harley looked on, concealing her emotions... sealing them tightly away even as it angered her. She tried to focus on the creatures she had saved. Why couldn't the spotted cat fucking run a little further? Ruben was disgusting. The mere sight of him and worse, his nature seemed to make her feel uneasy. She had seen what happened to those in his care. He was meticulous in everything he did... at least until it came to... discipline. He often took things too far, like he did with the Serval.
Harley hadn't realized she was off in lala land, staring at the broken cat who averted his very eyes, no recognition lingered within them. A voice... Darcy's cut through her reverie. Dead in a few hours. If that... She thought bitterly.
The thought of Darcy smelling out death before it had come was.... Disturbing. What was it like to smell through his senses? Harley remained silent, refusing to draw attention to herself any more. At the very least their attention was not upon her. That and she at least had a buffer between herself in Ruben... even if it was like trading one evil fuck for another. Darcy's demand suddenly left her hesitating. Ruben was quick to call her out.... To throw her under the bus like teacher's pet. Quick to explain that she couldn't communicate with the creature unless she went furry. Harley froze. Shift... how the thought of it made her grow cold. She was still somewhat new and she wasn't entirely certain she could will it on herself with the conflicting emotions that lingered within her. It worried her having to shift back. The thought of it leaving her dangerously weak... and vulnerable afterwards. She could see both of their expectant stares, only the skeletal vampire actually looked far too eager, that grotesque smile plastered upon his face. Yeah there was no fucking way she was getting naked in front of him. No fucking way. It was bad enough to imagine Darcy's predatory eyes on her.. But Ruben.. Well that was a far more disturbing fate. He would enjoy it far too.... Much. She was sure.
Harley declared she couldn't shift with Ruben there. She made her case like it were plain facts and she was quite certain it wasn't a lie. Hopefully she could at least convince Darcy it was far easier to at least give her that. She knew if she rejected turning at all, the already boiling waters she found herself within would be far worse. At least... she could be somewhat in control. Ruben hardly heard a word Harley said. He was leaning in like a fucking drooling dog over a t-bone steak. Fucking gross. The man was far too eager to see her body contort into that feline. Hell, he had even asked her to shift for him when she was locked down here that night, willing to offer her food, which fully went against Darcy's demand. It was fortunate that Harley would rather starve than give in. Harley refused to back down as she stood taller, refusing to act like some victim, hands placed defiantly on her hips, unwilling to budge at least in this. She hadn't even seen Darcy move when suddenly she heard a loud slap. The sound admittedly made her body jolt, prepared for some unknown assault. Ruben yelped out in pain, his hand immediately reached toward the side of his face as he cowered and sneered from Darcy's assault.
For once she was not under the receiving end of Darcy's temper and she preferred it that way. He snapped his order toward Ruben then, no room to object. Her request had paid off at least. That still didn't do much for her... attempt at shifting without the usual triggers. Fuck. But how she always seemed aware of her feline side, that slowly began to grow apart of her in ways she hardly knew. Harley could hardly help that triumphant smirk upon her lips, before offering a goading little wave at Ruben as he cowered beneath Darcy's crippling stare. She could only imagine how he looked then. He herded the vampire back further away, practically throwing him into the far wall. Immediately, she felt the air at least clear from its oppressive grasp. Ruben looked humiliated and sad standing there with his nose to the wall. The woman almost grew smug but wisely didn't allow it to show. Until... Darcy stood somewhere in the middle. How she wished he would follow Ruben, or better yet, she would rather them leave the fucking room altogether. With a watchful, untrusting eye upon both Harley and Ruben.
It was hardly ideal with her self-proclaimed master watching... in fact, she felt strikingly exposed. Perhaps focusing on the feline in the cage was better than imaging Darcy's eyes on her. Sure he was.... Hot to most people's standards. No one could deny him that, but how little that mattered when the cowboy could rip your neck open with his teeth alone. His mismatched eyes could steal the life from you with one glance. Harley uttered those words to the captive feline, who had to give into sitting and even that seemed like it took a great deal of effort. He was barely unable to keep his own head up. Yet he watched her... recognition flashed behind his faded stare. As the woman began to begrudgingly remove her clothes, slowly. Her top pulled over her head, placing her clothes upon the top of that shorter cage.
Darcy barked at her to hurry up, Harley shot the vampire a powerful glare, uncaring she was pushing her luck. She had an overwhelming urge to throw her shoe at him as petty as it was. "Yeah, yeah." She grumbled dismissively, removing her bra, followed by her pants. She turned her head once more as she slid off her panties and socks noticed that at least Darcy too looked away, the woman taking it upon herself to covertly raise her hand as if in a gesture of a kiss before her palm quietly tapped her butt. The message loud and clear that the two of them could kiss her ass. It was amusing how a man who could kill at the drop of a hat still possessed some kind of polite response to nudity. She probably should have felt more uncomfortable than she did, but the power she had gained in getting both vampires to obey her, at least in some small way only made her all the more confident.
Unfortunately, she couldn't gloat in her small victory for long as she attempted to void her mind. To close her eyes as she focused on the quiet... the darkness. That strange new corner in her mind where she knew her inner feline waited for release. It was like some strange internal staredown.. One the feline seemed more than content to oblige. All Harley could do was focus on her own breath... anticipating the pain she knew was bound to come. Nothing was worse than the first time. It was like sex, the more you did it the better it got. There was no time to smirk at her own realization before her body began to bend and break into its animal form. She tried to stifle the whimper that escaped her but her entire focus was on that shift... it was still far too slow to her liking. It suddenly didn't matter who was watching, as that shift overtook her body. It didn't matter when your body rearranged itself in ways that were certainly not natural. It took a toll on her, her breath heaving for a moment, her side inflating with soothing breath after soothing breath. She paced along, parallel to those cages, silent steps of a predator. She had to move, that beast that overcame her demanded it. Perhaps she could.... Maul them while they were busy staring at the wall. How she liked the thought of it. The woman harboured very little pity for vampires in general.... She would need to take out Darcy first. He was a larger threat. But if Ruben got a hold of her... Darcy was almost the better choice to die from. But her thoughts were silenced by Darcy's mismatched eyes. Damn.. Then Ruben's gaze fell upon her that immediately saw to her lips peeling back into a flash of her own sharpened teeth in warning, followed by that guttural snarl. Her own weapons on display. She was much smaller than Tetradore, far more dainty and yet she was still formidable. Ah, how easy was it for those vampires to forget that she too was a predator. At least, not now.
Darcy strode with an assurance that Harley was not foolish enough to strike him. Arrogant. That expectant utterance was met with a sarcastic lash of her own tail, her own eyes narrowed upon him. Her irises far more vivid in this form framed by that obsidian face. She pivoted before facing the feline in the cage. That was when she smelled it. Truly. That scent Darcy was talking about. There was nothing poetic about those words. It smelled like... death and decay. Her gaze filled with sympathy then.
"You saved me." His voice trembled weakly within her head.
"It looks like it didn't stick." Harley uttered grimly back, ignoring Darcy and Ruben both as her tail flicking in slithering ever moving 's' shape in warning to the other vampires to keep their distance.
"The other one the one with the accent... did he make it out?" He questioned... even in his last moments, he seemed to still care. The world was going to lose yet another good one. They were already in short supply as it were.
"He's fine." Harley uttered stiffly, the sound of someone else's voice in your head was still alien. "About that... those two tools can't know either of us were there that night." It wasn't like he could tell anyone. "If they find out.. We are as doomed to death as you.." She nearly winced... probably not the most sensible thing to say to a dying man. "Sorry."
Darcy must have moved closer as if he could somehow listen into that conversation... his words insistent and impatient. Harley snapped her hear toward him, those vibrant violet eyes rolled in an all too human gesture. How original a threat. She had heard it before. Darcy seemed always so quick to escalate for no goddamn reason. Inside out? Didn't he know what he body just did?
"Its the truth.." His breath seemed shallow as the feline lowered to the ground with a heavy thud, gone was that feline grace. "I just want to rest a little while." he uttered almost dreamily. His eyes threatened to close. Fuck she was not prepared for how sad it was to watch someone die before your eyes and not do a damn thing to stop it.
Harley seemed to look about as if searching for something to help the poor cat... But what could she do? "Tell me.. What can I do?" She asked, the words felt helpless even to her. A hollow offer.
"Just stay with me... talk to me.. You already gave me something I wont forget." The Serval was going to die... she was pretty sure you didn't remember things in death. But Harley didn't push on the matter.
"What do you mean?" She tilted her head in a near inquisitive fashion.
"A night with my family.... And.... Boobs.." He said almost happily before his head rested upon his paws as if he could simply just die.. "What will you tell them?" He questioned, his voice fading even in her mind.
What a typical man response and yet she could hardly help that look of sardonic amusement in the form of a scoff thataudibly escaped her. Harley... felt that urge to save him... that desire to leave his locked cage open for him to escape. It was a foolish notion... but one she had all the same. But she could see that life within those palest of sea-green eyes start to flicker and fade. "I'm pretty sure I would have made you regret that if it were any other day. Let me figure out what I am going to say, don't worry. Are you sure that you have no fight left in you? I can.." Why was she being such a bleeding heart? She thought it was a callused impenetrable thing. Why couldn't she find that resolve within her as she had so many times before when it all went to hell? It would take nothing to flick that lock with her powers.... Giving him another chance to...
"I love.. Boobs.." He all but whispered before the creature let out a shaky breath.... And didn't stir anymore. He died.... With his last words spoken. It was almost hilarious if it wasn't so fucking sad. What kind of last fucking words was that? Why couldn't he heal just a little fucking more? She raised her paw as if to rattle the cage, to check even though she already knew he was gone. She could sense it, smell it, hear it. She hadn't even known his name.. Not that it made a difference besides weight even heavier on her conscience. Fuck, but didn't he deserve someone knowing his name?
She hadn't realized that the two vampires had practically invaded her space in anticipation. Ruben already analyzing her with his hollow, creepy as fuck beady eyes... the man fucking breathing far too loud when he didn't need to breathe at all. She knew it was her scent that he breathed in or the dead feline's she hardly know. It was then that he reached out in spite of Darcy's looming presence. His hand pressed against her silky soft fur. "So soft... so pretty." His voice slithered with a sick fascination that caused her to snap.
Harley bristled, a vicious snarl ripped from her throat before she spun suddenly around to bite the hand that touched her. The hand that had been responsible for killing that feline. The hand that had killed so many in that damned chamber of deprivation. It was satisfying to have those teeth actually make purchase. To reprimand him for allowing his grimy fingers to touch her. Like hell. There was so little meat on the bone and it was clearly not meat she was after... and yet she saw the look of complete surprise when Ruben tried to rip his hand away only to cause himself more ruin. He tasted disgusting she remembered registering just before he reacted. His arm was deceptively strong as he flung her across the room like she were but a ragdoll. Her paws skittering across the smooth surface that managed to only slightly catch herself, her hind legs unfortunately unable to land as her front paws had. That floor was too slippery for traction. She stopped but by no means of her own having been slammed into the cages that caught her offering her no give... Oof. Harley seemed stunned for a fraction of a moment. But she collected herself shaking out her fur and her mind.
Ouch. Before she could even truly move Ruben was there, his spindly body thrust upon her as his arms wrapped around her neck to strangle her. To cut off that much-needed air that she needed to breathe, the panther left choking and gasping for breath. His bared teeth were too close to her neck. Harley bucked beneath that weight, thrashing madly which hardly helped her oxygen. Stars danced within her vision and yet her fight was greater. The resilient woman proverbially dug in her claws with all that stubborn force pummeling into her efforts for survival, refusing to pass out leaving her vulnerable in front of those bloodthirsty fiends.
It was then that her powers sought that sharp silvery poker in an act of desperation, he had just used against the poor Serval... it seemed almost poetic. It sat harmlessly propped up against the cage, within reach. Ruben whispered disgusting promises in her ear that made her stomach lurch and yet it hardly altered her concentration. That very action gave her a second burst of life, of renewed vigour. Her affinity for metal saw to that metal poker sing with purpose right by Darcy, she hardly cared where it landed as long as it hit him. As long as he loosened his grip. It plunged right through Ruben's throat as if threatening to make the man a literal skewer. She missed... the spine, unfortunately. But it was enough to release that hold, and made the man bleed. It was hardly enough to make up for his wrongdoings but..... There was a satisfaction that burst through her all the same. Harley's claws unsheathed as the looked every bit of a wild cat she was, she hissed, spun around to successfully swipe those nails across his face.
Blood bubbled from his wounds, oozing from the skeletal being that broken, roar of his rage. She swore it rattled the cages and the walls itself. She better move before he planned his next step. She slipped away, found a narrow space between Ruben and a nearby empty cage, the opposite aisle of where Darcy, her clothes and that dying Serval was. She moved hastily to wrap back around. Her best chance and perhaps her most strategic was to find the undead cowboy. Who would have thought? She leapt atop the cages with all the power of her hind legs to thrust her to where she wanted, it was far easier than climbing trees. Her soft paws landed whisper-silent even though they burned at the touch of silver. She had to move hastily to offer each foot a semblance of reprieve. She found Darcy, easily leapt down from her high perch to draw to his side, her tail flicking two and fro as if to betray the conflict of her thoughts. That opportunity would have been.... Almost too good to strike him. But for once she accepted him as a lesser evil.
It was a risk, but surely the gesture would not go unnoticed and feed into that ridiculous vampire egotistical dominance. She lowered her haunches almost like a trained pet. His trained pet. How she loathed it, it rioted against every fibre of her being but she couldn't take on both vampires and win. Not one like Darcy. Not when she could barely master her powers, not when there was a larger picture at stake. But she needed him to not be pissy at her for a second before Ruben came at her again and she knew he would come.
How she knew she couldn't kill Ruben and get away with it. But she knew Darcy was able to get away with far more than she could even if death was not in his cards. And truly he had already pissed off Darcy enough to violence already. Not to mention, he seemed to possess a strange vampire possession over her. Perhaps this was one way she could utilize both vampires against one another to suit her. At the very least with the so-called faux 'knowledge'. As far as Darcy was concerned, she possessed the dying Serval's final words. That would at the very least make her something worth keeping from Ruben's murderous clutches. After all, it wasn't Darcy she had mauled.
She rose her gaze toward Darcy, attempting to read the man she could barely read beside varying degrees of pissed. How quickly this could backfire. Her gaze soon shifted toward Ruben as she lifted her sore paw toward her tongue to lick idly along the rawness of her paws. Quick... look harmless. Well, this could go all kinds of wrong, but it was a risk she was willing to take.
better to fight for something, than live for nothing