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World of Darkness: Attrition - Maps Revisited[FIN]

Adrian Moss

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Every night Adrian felt Gwen's presence in his life chip away and die. Memory, especially the memory of things that lived as long as Adrian might, made way for new experiences. The old wounds were still there, but the needs of the present built up and up until the past was behind a wall that grew higher every day. Gwen faded.

The hunting in the club had been easier. As he narrowed his focus on who he preyed upon, he became more successful. It was that Darwinian existence he led. Now he had primarily three options to satisfy him. The college parties had the extra scent of danger. Adrian could never tell when his truce might fall apart. The Guardian had made a choice concerning Adrian, but that didn't give the vampire much insight into the workings of that mind. Still, drunk, lonely college girls made easy prey.

Older women, divorced or romantically unsuccessful, saw in him a young man they could control. Only in their homes did that change. Their emotional games meant little compared to the Hunger. He fed and was gone before they could their hooks into their next victim. Those bothered him the least. Loneliness wasn't an excuse for wrecking someone else's life.

That left the vulnerable ones. Mostly women, but the occasional young man unsure of his sexuality, they wanted to be accepted by someone - anyone - but had none of the social skills to succeed. So, that sat at the bar, or alone at a table, and looked around. They avoided eye contact and only sipped their drinks. Adrian was getting pretty good at finding them ... and picking them up.

Go outside with a man you've just met? When the alternative was being alone, you would be surprised how many followed the vampire into the dark.

The one theme that ran through all these hunts was never to be wantonly cruel and to do as little harm as possible. He would get the victims taxis, or back to their friends, or take them home himself if all else failed. He refused to believe Sarah's words. Everything the touched wouldn't get fucked up. He couldn't give in.

Adrian was lost in his thoughts on the way back to his car. He noticed her without actually registering her specifics. When she moved away from the wall, he noticed her more.

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"It's you!" the young girl exclaimed. "It's really you."

Adrian soaked up his surroundings. This was not a good place for a mugging. The girl was too small - like eleven or twelve small. He studied her more closely. It clicked.


She giggled. "No, that was my hamster, but you do remember."

There was fear in her eyes, but that was rapidly being replaced by relief. That confused Adrian. He struggled for words.

"Umm ... how have you been?"

The girl glommed on to him, wrapping a thin arm around his as if they were familiar. Adrian wanted to pull back, but felt he couldn't. It would be ... cruel - needlessly cruel.

"Oh, pretty much the way it was last time, but my Mom basically told me to get scarce. I drifted around a bit, went home, and got thrown out for good."

She was clearly fighting through some deep seated anger, rage, and fear by putting up a friendly face of denial. It was as if they were talking about a softball game, or the latest edition of Dancing with the Stars.

"After that, I broke in, got all my clothes and stole some stuff. You know ... something like back pay for all the shit she and that bastard of a step-father she bangs."

They took a few more steps down the street. The fact that the conversation had been so one-sided was not lost on her. He could feel her bottling up her courage for something.

"I remembered you. You were kind to me, even though you took me back home."

She looked up at him, eyes wide and fearful. She was desperately trying to hide it. Her stomach growled and she winced. That didn't help her case.

"Anyway, since you owe me ... for taking me back, I ...(gulp) think you might/should give me some ... money?"

They stopped. Adrian studied her face, her hair, her clothes, her shoes. She was on the edge, his instincts told him. Broke - most likely. No home, or shelter, and meals were probably few and far between. She didn't need money.

"Money's been tight," he said. The light in her eyes dwindled into embers. "All I got is" ... he reached into his pocket and pulled out a key. She looked confused the frightened. She thought she was a monster. She was right, but not in the way she meant it. Adrian dangled the key.

"You can stay at my place. I'll give you an allowance and give you the run of the place."

"And," she whimpered, dread warring with desperation.

"You take care of the place. You keep it clean."

Now she was confused, but somewhat less fearful. "You want me? Me? To be your maid?"

"I see the position as more as a property manager," he continued in all seriousness.

She found herself nodding before the words left her mouth. "Yes."

"By the way, what's your name?"

She giggled, near hysteria, "Jordan, Jordan Parthos."

"Okay, Jordan Parthos, welcome to my service. One other thing, I need you to keep an eye on what I do. When I screw up, or am acting like an asshole, kick me. Let me know."

"No problem ... Boss." Now she was holding tight to him again.

"My name is Adrian Moss."

Again, she giggled, "Adrian? That's a girl's name."

"Oh ...,"he said sarcastically, "we are going to get along famously."

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She walked around the place. When she got to the living room, Jordan stopped and spun slowly around with her eyes closed.

"Wow ... say, how come you are so broke you can't spare a poor girl some bills, but you live in a place like this?"

"Short story, I made some bad decisions and some good decisions. My bad one's were bad - really bad - and my good one's haven't paid off yet."

Jordan looked over to Adrian, looking all serious for her young age. "That sounds so mysterious. One day you're going to tell me."

Adrian shook his head, "If I ever have to tell you the whole story, things will be pretty bad. Scratch that - things will have to be totally fucked up."

With the attention span of the young, Jordan was already migrating off to the kitchen.

"Which room is mine?"

"The one off from the pool."

"You have a POOL!!!!" and she was off like an over-caffeinated Chihuahua into the back of the two story dwelling.

Sometime later,

"Dude, you have NO food. What do you eat?" (rummage, rummage) "Your pear/avocado/prune's gone bad."

"Try the cabinets," he called back from the living room. "There are some crackers and peanut butter ... some candy/food stuff."


"Wow! ... Hey, is the candy here good? Some if it looks like Halloween candy from last year. Wait ... no, it's from three years ago ... I'm going to try it."


Jordan came out into the living room and sat down beside Adrian. She had a bag of Candy Pumpkin heads, some Triscuits, and peanut butter. Adrian realized that using his crack-whore of a Mom as a parenting model was a doomed cause. His mind raced. The internet would be his savior.

"Stay here," he commanded/asked. Adrian got up and went upstairs. He retrieved his laptop and came downstairs. Jordan had hit 'Play' on the DVR and was watching last night's Late Show with John Stewart. She was giggling. That was important, because if she couldn't laugh at Stewart, she was out on the street faster than she could say 'Colbert Report'.

Adrian sat down next to her, opened the computer, and got the beast up and running. After that, it was as simple as typing Los Angeles - the quick way. Soon enough he had found an all-night grocery that delivered. He kept shopping. Jordan looked over at him, then she snuggled up and looked over at the screen. John got frozen mid-sentence.

"I want that ... and some of those ... and can I have fresh cantaloupe ... what is that?" Adrian shrugged, ".. well, it's expensive, so it must taste great."

The final damage was $304. Adrian paid. Jordan jumped up on him, giving him a hug.

"Whoa, you're cold."

"I have a low body temperature. It's one of my ... conditions."

After the groceries had arrived and things had been put up in the kitchen (who knew children ate so much ice cream) Adrian got ready for bed.

"Adrian, how did you get all this?"

"I inherited it."


"I made some good business decisions."

"You're not that smart," she retorted.

"Fine. I killed someone. Satisfied?"

"Did they have it coming?"


"Okay. Good enough for me," she went on with the assurance of the young. "I'm going to bed too. Night."

"Jordan, one more thing. DO NOT go upstairs. No matter what. Also, don't open any of the blinds. You want sunlight, go out by the pool."

"What if I want to watch TV and get some time?"

"Jordan, there's another wide screen out by the pool."

"Really? Coooool. Well, night."

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The boiling sound of the Sun descending had just faded from his ears when Adrian sat up. His routine was the same as it normally was. He laid out his clothes, put his PJ's in the hamper (he had to do laundry soon), and stepped into the shower. Only when the water heated him up did he remember.

The girl.

Adrian's forehead bounced against the tiled wall. The water cascaded over his head.

'What have I done,' he asked himself, confused and scared. 'Gwen is dead and now I'm taking on someone even more helpless? What is wrong with me? Am I doing this for her - for me? I'm doing this for both of us.'

He finished the shower, dried himself, and went back into the bedroom to get dressed. On the way down, Jordan called up to him.

"You're finally up?"

"Yes, finally."

"So, you are a vampire. Cool."

Adrian stumbled down the last few stairs, almost face-planting himself in the entryway. He caught himself and looked into the living room were Jordan was curled up on the sofa, watching TV. He was unsure what to do, what to say.

"What are you talking about," he joked with a smile. "I just work weird hours."

Jordan looked over the sofa and smiled, "HELLO ... Vampire Diaries, Twighlight, Thirty Days of Night. You're a vampire."

She turned back to the TV, adding, "I'm cool with that. You've always been nice to me."

'What have I gotten myself into?'

"Aahh ... you're imagining things," he persisted.

She turned around once more, "And you're a lousy liar."

"How ..." Adrian stammered.

Her face beamed both angelic and devilish at the same time. "This Streaming-On-Demand is great. I think I've run up about fifty dollars in fees since noon."


"How - why - what are you doing watching Thirty Days of Night? That's like a Hard-R."

"And it was SO cool. I can tell you aren't like that. You're one of the good guys."

Adrian leaned against the wall, slid down into a sitting position, and buried his face in his hands. He didn't know what to do.

"Adrian. I'll keep your secret. That's probably what I'm supposed to do - keep secrets like that. You can trust me."

'Can I?'

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"You want what?" Adrian squawked.

Jordan smiled at him with an expression any woman would understand - Men are Idiots.

"I need a bra. Actually, I probably need three or four of them."

"Now?" he pleaded.

"Of course, you dummy. We're at the mall, and we are getting me underwear (Adrian groaned) anyway, so why not?"

Trapped by the logic of youth!

"Fine," Adrian said with resigned frustration. This was turning into a catastrophe of epic proportions. First off, she KNEW. Now, he was lingerie shopping for an eleven year old girl. Adrian was searching for just where he went wrong.

'They are going to think I'm a perv. They are going to think I'm a perv.'

"May I help you?" they young sales clerk said politely.

'I'm going to shrivel up and die.'

"Sure!" piped in Jordan. "I'm out visiting my brother - he's at UCLA - and my luggage got lost somewhere in Kansas City. Can you help us? See, my Mother usually picks out things for me."

Jordan beamed up at the young woman, with innocent eyes disguising elaborate lies.

"Sure thing, ...?"

"Jordan," she said with a cherubic smile, "Jordan Moss."

Woman and girl disappeared down the aisles chatting amiably. Adrian was left at the Women's Underwear counter, trying not to be noticed by the females moving around him. Another attendant walked up, spearing him with her gaze.

"May I ... help you?" came her voice, laden with suspicion.

"Sister ... other girl ... missing luggage ... brother ... waiting," Adrian managed.

It took the new attendant a moment to figure out just what he had said. "Oh! You are here with your sister! I understand. I'm sorry, but one of the other women told me there was a suspicious man hanging about. They obviously meant someone else. Thank you for shopping TJ Maxx."

With that, she headed off down the central thoroughfare head swinging left and right, scanning for someone else in need of her attention.

Thirty minutes later, laden down like a pack mule, Adrian followed Jordan out of the store.

"Adrian," Jordan began with a certain inflection that made Adrian cringe, "we need to talk about something else."

"Yes," Adrian said with trepidation.

"We need to talk about me dating," she said without looking back at HER vampire.

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"I mean, what do you think about an eleven o'clock curfew? That's fair, right?" Now she looked back at him and Adrian could tell she was totally serious. Now Adrian began giving it some serious thought.

"Okay, but we need to think about home schooling too," he countered.

Jordan groaned. "Alllrrriiiggght." There was a pause then she added, "but I get bonus points for good grades!"

"Bonus points? You get bonus points? Who decided that?"

"I did," Jordan said with glee. "I get points for things like cleaning each room, the pool, and making sure the trash and recyclables get out on time."

Adrian thought about it and decided that seemed fair.

"You want money?"

"Oh, money and gifts ... things like Movie Nights, and going out to eat at a real restaurant. You know, family stuff."

Adrian noted she snuck that last thing in there. She was eyeing him while trying to not look like she was eyeing him.

'Moment of Truth,' Adrian thought. 'This is your last chance to bail out on this.'

"Fine, but we are brother and sister. You call me Dad, and I'm wrapping you in a blanket and nailing to the ceiling."

Jordan spun around, eyes nearly in tears. She stuck out a hand to shake with him. His arms were full with all her new stuff.

"Deal," she said triumphantly. "We'll shake on it in the car."

The car was making its way back to Adrian's new home. He had told her his old one, which she had never seen, was no longer safe for him. The new house suited her just fine.

'Scratch that,' she thought, 'Our new home ...'

Jordan watched Adrian drive, his mind clearly elsewhere. Adrian was her Immortal. He would never leave her. He would never grow old. He would never get tired of her and send her away. Sure, he was cold, and dead, and needed ten months with an Italian Mother feeding him. Sure, he was odd, and not too bright. He carried guns and knives, but didn't feel like a killer. He was kind to her when no one else was. Twice now, he had intervened in his life, and if she had to push him along a bit (okay, a big bit) it was for both their goods.

Now they were going to have a run at being a family. School, pets (she hadn't snuck that one by him yet), and friends. Friends that didn't look down on you because your clothes were old and weren't clean because your mother didn't have time for you. She had new stuff now. She had a great home she could invite friends over to (as long as they didn't go upstairs). There was a pool, multiple big screen TV's, and enough food to hold a party if she liked.

She could tell people her brother was doing business, and it was hush-hush, and be telling the truth. This was Paradise, or the closest to Paradise she had ever imagined being. Almost.

"Adrian, do you love me?"

Adrian's head snapped around, "Wha?"

"I don't mean Love Love. I mean love me like a sister?"

Adrian seemed to think about that a bit, biting his lower lip.

"I don't know, Jordan. I know I like you, and want to protect you, but I'm not sure I know how to love. I tried once, and it was a disaster - she died. Worse, I ruined her life then got her killed. I would have done anything to protect her, but I wasn't there when she needed me ... and she's gone. I don't know if I want to love if it hurts this bad."

Jordan reached out and brushed his arm. "That's okay. I'll love enough for both of us. You're like the big brother I never had, and you can trust me to look out for you too. You'll see. We'll be just fine ... like it's never been before."

Almost Paradise was close enough.

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