He was there to make a Great Trade, but something about the apartment building was reminding him of Derinkuyu. Maybe it was the hide and seek of the hunt he'd just finished, the in and out, the darting, twisting, see-you-chase-you-got-you, in these half-lit hallways. Or it could have been it was the sweet iron taste in his mouth and in the air; there-invigoration and satiation that followed a fresh meal. Perhaps it was just the thought of seeing someone else who'd remember the Old City, the People's City, that brought the shared memory of Derinkuyu back to the shallow waters of his mind.
He loitered beneath the ambiguous gurgling pipes of the car-park wasteland and thought about the place where he grew up. He hadn't been back to Turkey in a long time - he couldn't remember how long, but he'd left on a boat, not a plane, so that told you something. He'd heard that it had been opened to tourists sometime in the late 60s - he winced imagining Americans wandering through with Polaroids and bell-bottoms, open mouthed gawking at the undercity, taking cheap flash flare lit photos of the churches, kitchens and alleyways carved from raw stone. He wondered if there were people, right now, laughing and chatting as they walked through his bedroom, his father's workshop. It made him cringe.
He paced back and forth in the long shadows, smiled sheepishly at a twenty-something getting in her SAAB, and picked his fingernails. He looked at the Casio on his wrist and wondered how much longer he'd have to wait. He hadn't seen another Person in almost twenty years, not since 1980 when he saw Goethe at a night club in the Bronx. As if that had been an accident. As if the old man hadn't been pushing the boundaries of his territory. That had ended poorly, split skin and broke bones all around, as his mother would have said. It wasn't nice when People fought, but what was his was his, and Goethe should have stayed on his own ground.
It hadn't been that way back in the City. There and then everyone had gotten along, had been able to put the petty carnivorial bickerings aside. He had been born and raised to that peace and he still missed it, even now. He missed the crush and push of People, their gentle laughter in the oil light, and the thrum of talk at the weekly feasts. Marking the boundary lines of his property was a chore that he'd been grating against for the last 1300 years. Even though it was a sacrilege, he envied the Cattle sometimes, for their social laxity, for the way that they rubbed shoulders and seemed so at home in the world. How sad was that?
The garage door was groaning and clanking open as the light of headlights stabbed the pleasant dim around him. He shut his eyes for a second, gathered his thoughts. She would be driving a white Ford Excursion, so that was probably her. He couldn't remember if he'd met her before, but the name she gave him online, Tukuoll, was definitely old. And Derinkuyu had housed upwards of 10,000 People at it's height, so it wasn't surprising that she might be just a face in the crowd. As soon as she opened the car door he smelled her, even across the parking lot. His nose filled with the scent of her, and he felt the blood quicken in his wrists. He started salivating, and suppressed an urge to flemen. She slid out of the car and looked straight at him, even though he knew he was hidden in the concrete shadows. She was blond and blue-eyed, but that was almost certainly due to peroxide and contacts. She was wearing blue jeans and a Mets sweat shirt, and he approved. He generally dressed for comfort and speed himself. That was what was important.
She came toward him slowly, eyes down, and that was just right. This was his place and she was looking for permission to carve out a piece of Hoboken for herself and her little one. Of course, she'd have to placate him first, seeing as how he was the senior here, how he was much more well-established. If she followed the old rules she'd give him four Cattle a year, hand delivered, and mating rights too. But he was pretty comfortable with the new ways too, and he'd settle for a cash down payment and regular rental checks. He'd let her choose which - it was pretty much the same to him either way.
In the City none of that had been necessary. They'd gotten by on tribute and trade with the Cattle, been able to make matings for love and passion, not just territorial convenience. People had learned trades other than hunting - he'd even been trained as a skinner himself. But that was before the Cattle changed, like Cattle do, and the new ones drove them out with fire and smoke, and swords. They'd put up a hell of a fight of course, ten thousand People, but what could you do when they started digging holes to let the sun in? More than three quarters of them had died, and that was when the old laws were put back into effect. No talking, no socializing. Keep your distance. Keep your head down. Territory is sacred, Cattle are just food. And that was that, that was how it had been ever since.
As she walked up to him, offering her wrists to his inspection, supplicating and making herself vulnerable, he thought about asking her for coffee. It would be awkward maybe, weird and unconventional, but it would be nice. They could talk about old times, no one would notice. Maybe things were changing again. New world, new technology new ways. There was a new anonymity in the crowds, and it wouldn't be so hard to find a place like this apartment building just for People. A new Derinkuyu, right in the heart of the Cattle's city. False windows and a big basement. Maybe they could make it work again.
He thought about it for almost ten seconds while he stood there and stared down at her. Then he put it out of his mind. Derinkuyu had been home, but it was a home that failed. These ways were better.
He hissed at her and bared in his fangs.