Margaret didn’t go to clubs.
She didn’t go by ‘Peggy’, either. Hadn’t ever, in fact, though ‘Maggie’ had been tried a few times. ‘Marge’. ‘Meg’, even. They all slid off like water. Margaret wasn’t the sort of person to whom things stuck. Though, she thought with a vague internal sigh as she gazed at her ruined blouse, perhaps that had changed since she’d died.
It’d been a nice blouse. There wasn’t much blood on it, but it wasn’t the sort of stain one could explain to the cleaners. She’d have to try salt and cold water when she got home. Maybe some soda; that was supposed to work—
The young man, who was very much the sort who went to clubs, shifted in her arms and exhaled the scent of cheap beer across her cheek. His shiny, dark burgundy dress shirt had blood on it too, not that it would show. The bruise on his neck would. It was large and ugly, surrounding the puncture wounds like a hickey delivered by an overly enthusiastic vacuum cleaner. Distressing.
Margaret licked the small, ragged holes again, to make sure they stayed closed. The fang marks, at least, would be gone by morning. She’d no idea how he’d explain the bruise. Not that it mattered, really, because he wouldn’t remember anything.
The fact he wouldn’t remember was the only good thing about the entire circumstance. Margaret favored precision and discretion in all things. This greasy alley offered a perfect example of exactly neither. It grated; shoddy jobs always did.
He groaned, finally coming round, which at least meant Margaret could get out of the extremely uncomfortable crouch she’d been in whilst keeping him off the pavement. He blinked open eyes so dark it was difficult even for her to tell where the enormous pupils ended and the color began. He’d been high as a kite before he was fed on. Now…well, luckily it was early Sunday morning. She’d hate for him to trip over his feet and break his neck on the way to work.
“Can you tell me your name?” She had to raise her voice so he could hear her above the skull-rattling music pounding through the building’s walls.
An enchanted smile curled clumsily at his lips. “Are you an angel?”
She didn’t, quite, roll her eyes. “Yes. Absolutely. Now, pay attention. Can you tell me who you are?”
He had to think about it, which wasn’t surprising, but then he beamed again like he’d just won a prize. “Josh!” he said with triumph. “Josh Shcherbyna. What’s your name?”
“Gabrielle,” she said immediately, since it wouldn’t matter. “And if you can remember a last name like that you’ll probably be fine. I’m going to stand you up now. Don’t pass out.”
She stood, hauling him up. He tottered, then leaned heavily against her. “You’re really beautiful,” he slurred into her neck. “Like Posh…No. Baby…? Spice… The black one.”
“Thank you ever so much.” Margaret shook out her ankles one at a time. She loathed these impractical heels, but needs must and all that. “Melanie Brown is one of my heroes.”
“No.” She pulled one of his flopping arm across her shoulders, cinching him flush against her side. “I really hope you don’t live far from here.”
“Um,” he said. Margaret sighed internally again. “I have a flat,” he added helpfully. “It’s, um, there.” His gesture encompassed roughly the entire planet.
“Lovely.” Margaret adjusted her grip and began pulling him out of the ally. “I need you to look at me until we’ve reached the street. Do you understand me, Joshua? Whatever you do, you must only look at me, all right? Your beautiful Angel Spice Girl. You look at me and nothing else.”
He nodded heavily. “I love you.”
“Of course you do.” She led him past the mangled lump half hidden amongst the bulging, leaking garbage bags. The smell of blood and new death was enough to make her gag, but Joshua didn’t seem to notice. Good. Even if he wouldn’t remember it, calming him down in the short term would still take effort she didn’t care to spend. “Next time someone too perfect to be real invites you behind the club for a quick shag, you’re going to tell them to sod off, aren’t you?”
Her implicit command would stick; she could tell by the way he blinked before he nodded. “But, you’re perfect,” he protested sadly.
“Yes, except I’m an angel and I’m taking you home, not going to fuck you.”
“Oh.” He drooped like a scolded puppy. A scolded puppy who was also high as a kite. “You could, though.”
He sounded remarkably eager for someone who was stumbling like a horse trying to walk on two legs after having a stroke. “Oh, I am exquisitely aware of just how easy you’d be right now. But the only thing I’m going to do is take you home, give you a glass of orange juice and put you to bed.”
Joshua didn’t answer, possibly because he was trying to remember whether he had any orange juice. Or a bed.
“I have to walk you home, though,” he said at last. “You’re a girl.”
“Thank you for noticing.” He was too stoned to be anything but earnest, which made his offer sweet instead of dodgy. “But I’m an angel, remember? I’ll be fine.”
“My beautiful spice angel,” he said.
They reached the street and she started the slow walk around to the front of the club, in the hopes Joshua could remember his way home more easily from there. There were still people out, standing in clusters outside the pub doorways, drinking from plastic cups and laughing with the insouciance of the deeply inebriated. No one paid her or Joshua any mind, just like no one would remember them. The two people walking close as lovers would slip like mercury through their minds, just like this night would slip through Joshua’s. Her shambling, pliant burden would wake up—probably late Monday morning—with an empty glass of juice on his night table, a bad hangover and a bruise he couldn’t explain. Maybe he’d take it as a sign he needed to be more careful. More likely he’d just decide he’d had a really good time.
Margaret didn’t care one way or the other, though the world could always use fewer idiots. All that mattered was that Joshua of the nigh-unpronounceable last name would get home safely, and that her city now had one less greedy, stupid predator to ruin things for everyone.
There were rules, after all, and discretion was the primary one. Exsanguinated corpses with holes in their neck weren’t discrete, and unnecessary besides. A few sips, a gulp or two, was generally more than enough to leave everyone involved happy and alive. Dead bodies, on the other hand, left grief and fear and questions. Grief was cruel and fear was dangerous, but questions were worst of all.
There would be questions about the anonymous dead body in the alley, but ultimately it would be dismissed as a random robbery gone particularly badly. Margaret was very good at that.
But her kind would know it for exactly what it was. And they’d heed it, or she’d come after them.
And perhaps, in a week or two, she’d hunt up Joshua and see if he still thought she looked like an angelic Spice Girl when he was in his right mind. She was sure his untainted blood would taste lovely.
She’d only take a little bit.