The Immortal Rules (COMPLETED) (deleted scene) Feb 18, 2018 3:59:31 GMT -5 ~Sapphire~, Owlmoon, and 1 more like this
Post by 🧛mintedstar/fur🧛 on Feb 18, 2018 3:59:31 GMT -5
Hello folks! Like I don't have enough of these sort of stories. One wrote in completely random order. Lucky enough, I don't actually have a set order for any, so hopefully they can be read in any order.
Book 2: wcrpforums.com/thread/67213/sound-immortal-rules-book-complete
Drawn by me and Irisluv
Drawn by Des.
Lady Grey 'Jesse'
Drawn by me and Irisluv
(If I ever get around to drawing her. X') )
Currently around 27-28
(If I ever get around to drawing her. X') )
Currently around 27-28
Lady Grey found the boy pressed up inside a trashcan.
It was one of those plastic ones. It might just have been big enough for something to curl up in, but still was not really made for anything living.
Except the boy wasn't alive.
Above, the sky was a dark, scattering of stars filling an expanse of miles. No light pollution marred it. The small spot of light that was Morganville was too far away from any major town for that to be the case.
Which Lady Grey found was very lucky for the boy, since night had newly fallen and he seemed to be in the lee of an overhang that branched off from a house. His body was unmarked and unscarred, so hopefully that mean he was older than he looked. But the female vampire, also old by today's standards, knew he was not. Anyone who was an older vampire would have worn more protective covering than the white t-shirt, the plain blue jeans, and the mop of sandy brown hair. He wasn't even wearing shoes, bare feet pressed against the plastic of the container, toes spread.
She approached silently and it seemed like, even with enhanced hearing, he hadn't sensed her. He looked asleep, eyes closed. His hands were held close to his body and were clutching at a small charm on the necklace held around his neck on a chain of small, interlocking rings. The chain was silver and the bird charm, that was half covered by his hands, was gold, though it was unlikely that either was anything more than colored. The boy didn't seem like he could have afforded something like that, though she supposed it could have been a gift. His fingers had rubbed places on the charm until it was worn smooth.
As if sensing her eyes on him the boy curled a little deeper into himself. Lady Grey felt a frown tug at the corner of her lips. He seemed peaceful enough, but from the way he clutched at the charm around his neck, it looked like this wasn't the case.
His eyes scrunched up and head jerked, but he didn’t wake.
Lady Grey might have moved on, but the boy suddenly sat bolt upright. She wasn’t particularly shocked, but the boy, upon seeing her, looked scared out of his mind. His shoulders tensed, eyes wild, and he ducked his head. But this was not before Lady Grey got a look at his eyes, which were scarlet. He was afraid, but she wasn’t so easy to trust, even if it really was just as it appeared to be. A twelve-year-old boy. He was still a vampire and he still had the ability to try to break her neck, if not actually succeed.
But he just huddled there, looking feral, and she saw a trickle of blood running from the corner of his mouth. She could smell the sharp tang of it in her nose and could see the small, white points of the fangs that were poking out just above his lips. She could tell for sure he was a new vampire now. Probably less than a day old and would soon be starving. If he wasn’t already. The trail of blood coming from the side of his mouth proved that. A vampire's fangs were similar to that of a snake's and were positioned behind the top canines. The small trickle of blood was because the fangs had just come out for the first time.
Who would change a child?
Lady Grey backed up a few steps again and was surprised to see hurt in the boy's eyes. This caused her to frown. He probably felt pain because of the teeth, but it seemed to be more than that. After slight hesitation, she shifted her own eye color. The grey irises melted away to be replaced by the same sort of scarlet that mirrored his.
His eyes widened and he flinched back against the wall of the trashcan. His fangs retracted as the wounds within his mouth finally healed, but his eyes remained red as his emotions stayed high. He looked … afraid of her. Afraid, shocked, and on top of it all, there was the wetness within his eyes that said he wanted to cry.
Lady Grey backed off. She turned, aiming to walk away. The kid didn’t look like he wanted help and she couldn’t do anything for someone who wouldn’t accept assistance. There was a scrambling sound and Lady Grey looked back. The boy was nowhere to be seen, but the older vampire knew that he was still around. “Fine,” she muttered. “Follow me if you want to.” She was once again grateful that it was night. The boy couldn’t walk around in the sun if he was dressed like that.
She continued through the alley, hearing the movement of the boy behind her as he followed. She never looked back after that, knowing that if she did he would hide again.
After an hour of this, she said, “I’m called Jesse.” There was no response to this and Lady Grey continued moving along the sidewalk.
The town she was walking through was dark for the most part. Traffic lights changed and the cars moved along the streets, but taking her little stalker into consideration, Lady Grey stuck to the less busy intersections. She carried a small shoulder bag but other than that, there was no hint that she had just gotten off a plane. Her clothing was set up so it covered all the exposed skin, though she had taken off the gloves she'd used to cover her hands. A hat was hanging from a string that was around her neck and she was wearing a pair of jeans as well as a long sleeved black shirt. It was a very different contrast from what she had worn back when she had first been changed.
The slap of bare feet against tarmac brought her thoughts back to the present and she finally turned her head. The boy was there. She had been right, he was only about twelve. His hair was mussed, but not uncared for. Though it did look like he hadn’t washed it in a couple of days, it had probably been brushed. Just like someone who had forgotten to take a shower for a little … and had been spending time in a trashcan. Everything else about him seemed cold, scared, and like someone who had not talked to people in a long time.
At her look, pinned in her gaze, he froze. After a second, however, he regained the use of his limbs and bolted. From the awkward way that he blurred, she could see that he wasn’t used to the new speed. She watched as he nearly ran into a wall before darting around a corner.
“I’m going to need to get there before dawn, Sonny,” she muttered, trying to not sound annoyed. “So, either I get you across the town limits or we are both going to start worrying. It’s a mile. Think you can last that long without getting lost?” There was no response, of course, but she was still fairly sure that he was still there.
She began walking faster, no longer checking as often that the boy was following. She wanted him to be there if she looked back, but found it more of a priority that she led him to a place out of the sun, were it to rise.
Slowly, it all started to look more familiar and she could already hear the usual sounds of Morganville nightlife. These sounds being harder to detect using human hearing. Often it was a soft tread of feet, the movement of clothing, or the trace of a hand against a wall. The boy was closer now, clearly hearing these sounds as well. But so often one sound was missing. Always missing. Of life.
There wasn't the huff of breath in the air. There wasn't the beat of a heart. And Lady Grey said into this silent world, "Stay close. But there isn't anything to fear here."
The boy finally uttered one word. "Samuel."
Lady Grey paused. Everything still and she looked back, over her shoulder, at the boy. "Is that your na - " But he was gone again, the fear blossoming in his eyes again as he went. What part of her scared him so?
But she knew the answer. It was not her face, her voice, her appearance or anything like that. Instead, it was her species. The lack of a heartbeat within her chest, the paleness of her skin, the emptiness of her movement that held grace but no familiar movement of life. He was afraid of her.
Sighing, letting out the breath she had taken in to ask a question she'd never finished, she turned away. The remaining distance to Myrnin's lab was like it had been before. The sound of footsteps. But she no longer tried to look back. It wasn't something she could face right now.
The alley blurred around her and she pushed open the door he, Myrnin, never kept locked. No one ever went in, as the cobwebs within the building and dust along the floor showed. A path had been trekked through it to the trap door that led to the basement below the desolate building.
Samuel, behind her, stopped when she stopped. "Wait up here," she said, not looking back. At her words, he'd pressed himself into the wall. She could hear the thump of his body against it. It was his only way of hiding in an alley with only one exit and the shack in front of her, which her body blocked the entrance to.
She pushed her way through the door, letting it close behind her. Walking to the trapdoor, she opened it, hearing the sound of the door behind her opening. Maybe he'd follow her, maybe he'd wait as she had requested. Either way, she descended the stairs and let the trapdoor close between them. Somehow, they'd figure things out.
The boy had taken about six of the bound books and had laid them out on the floor. They surrounded him in a half oval and he was looking through them with squinting eyes, one book held in one hand as he tried to decipher some of the spikier script. The older vampire, Myrnin, had stopped in the door as soon as he saw Sam, frozen as he watched the boy pick through what might as well have been his diaries. Briefly, he was thankful most weren’t in English. The ones Samuel had picked out, however, were some of those few.
The boy looked up, unabashed with what he was doing and met the green eyes that were a cross between angry and interested, gaze of brown returning the look that the green had given. What did Samuel think of Myrnin now he’d read some of those journals?
“Who’s Arthur?” The question caught him off guard. He hadn’t known what parts Sam had been reading.
“He was a friend. And you shouldn’t be reading those.”
Completely ignoring him, Sam pointed to some of the spidery writing that was across the pages of the slim book. “That isn’t how this sounds. 'He invited me to his house again. I hardly heard him, honestly, I was too focused on his face. Damn it all, why did I say yes? But … I do want to see him tomorrow.’ Or that’s the translation I'm getting out of it. And you go on to write – “
Here, Myrnin held up a hand. What was Sam doing, writing a paper on him? “You are asking a personal question after reading something that wasn’t yours to rea- “
Only here, Sam cut him off, “I found them on one of the shelves. They weren’t even hidden. Of course, I am going to look at them.”
Myrnin continued like he hadn’t said anything. “And what were you inferring?” His voice was easy, normal in tone, but he seemed almost sad in his posture. Like he didn’t want to go down this particular branch of memory lane.
Samuel spelled it out. “You loved him, didn’t you?”
Myrnin seemed almost to hesitate. But he answered honestly and straightforwardly, wondering why the boy was asking a question he already knew the answer to. “Yes. Yes, I did. And?”
Sam shook his head. “I was just curious. What happened to him?” It was like probing a wound. He could see the hurt in Myrnin’s eyes, but continued anyway.
“He found someone else, grew old, and died,” Myrnin said in a clipped voice. “Is that all?”
It didn’t seem like it, since Sam tapped at another of the books he had taken off the shelf but didn’t actually look away from Myrnin. He seemed to be curious, but rushing ahead with that curiosity instead of understanding that these were painful subjects. “Ada –“
The hand Myrnin held up here was far more forceful. “No. I am not talking about this. It is my private life and it is in the past. I wrote it down so I wouldn’t forget. I would prefer that you did not read them, but if you already have I see no reason why I need to answer your questions as well as allow you to see that far into my life.”
And from there, the conversation ended and Myrnin left, leaving Sam to continue whatever he wanted to do.
Claire walked down the stairs to the basement, tennis shoes slapping against dust and then the concrete of the stairs. She was not, however, expecting a boy with bright red eyes and fangs to run at her, up the last set of steps before she ended up on the landing. Even before she turned the corner, she had her arm up, aiming to block him. Her reactions were fast, but Myrnin was faster. The boy was grabbed by the back of his neck, gently but firmly jerking him backwards until Myrnin could get an arm around the squirming boy. Claire didn’t relax and was about to say something when Myrnin started talking instead. To the boy and not to her.
“Your own fault really that you are in this position. It isn’t my fault you won’t eat.” He sounded worried, like he didn’t exactly know what to do. The boy squirmed and struggled harder, clearly trying to get to the warm human with blood flowing through her veins. Claire didn’t think she was scared, which was probably dangerous. But this was Morganville and this, sad enough to say, was a monthly occurrence. And he looked to be just a boy, though what his actual age was impossible to know.
Myrnin frowned down at the boy and his fangs. Taking his mostly free hand, he brought it to the boy’s mouth. To begin with, Claire assumed he was just covering the fangs, like she hadn’t seen a hundred vampires by now. But instead, Myrnin pried the boy’s mouth open further and stuck the side of his thumb below the two upper canines. The boy didn’t really hesitate. He didn’t seem capable of linear thought. He bit down.
Myrnin didn’t let out any exclamation of pain, but for a second you could see it in his eyes. The boy wasn’t able to use the low-key mind control that allowed them to numb the brain of those they bit. So, any pain Myrnin experienced was, in a sense, without anesthesia. But he kept his hand where it was, letting the boy drink his own blood versus Claire's. He looked exasperated, but hid the remains of his pain well. “Eating my friend is not allowed,” he said to the boy, looking down at him.
“Who -?” started Claire.
“This is Samuel,” introduced Myrnin. “You could say he's a friend of mine.” He seemed to find holding a conversation in a stairway while a vampire that looked twelve sucked his blood to be perfectly normal. She dearly hoped this wasn’t a normal occurrence. Though Claire didn’t find it completely unusual, she thought it might be a stretch to say she was used to it. She doubted, no matter how long she worked for Myrnin, her crazy vampire boss, that she could ever take some of the more strange events in stride. But she could act like she did, so she could learn what the heck was going on. This was one of those days, by all appearances.
Samuel, the boy, was very slowly coming to his senses. His red eyes began to filter his surrounding back in as he started to realize what he had done. He tried to move his head away from Myrnin's hand, but even though it looked like he physically wanted to, his teeth didn’t retract. Myrnin took the arm that had been wrapped around Samuel midsection and used that hand to place on the back of the boy’s head, inhibiting movement. Without looking down, he said, “No. Stay where you are. I can take it and so can you. You are not putting people in danger just because you think you look foolish or don’t, to use your term, 'want to be babied'. If you did what you know you must, neither of us would be in this situation. Keep your teeth where they are.”
Claire frowned at this, opening her mouth to ask a question before second guessing herself. Myrnin was not being forceful, at least not without reason. If Samuel wasn’t taking care of his needs, then Myrnin’s actions were warranted. But that didn’t explain why the boy was here in the first place.
Samuel curled his lip over the tips of his teeth that Claire could only just see over Myrnin’s hand. He not only looked embarrassed, but he also looked like he was very uncomfortable. Claire wondered how new he was to all of this. He looked like he was feeling a little ill, paler than was usual for someone who seemed to have been of light brown skin. The change to a vampire had turned that to a creamy, very pale brown, but more color was draining from him as the witnesses to this grew from just Myrnin to her as well.
“Myrnin,” she said carefully. “You didn’t …” She stopped herself from saying the word. He wouldn’t. But he had in the past. He'd even offered it to her.
“Didn’t what?” asked Myrnin blankly. Samuel's eyes had faded down to a sort of russet, making Claire think that they were some sort shade brown.
It took Myrnin an extra second to figure out what she was asking without ‘asking’. Eyes widened and he looked offended. “No, Claire. He is not mine. Lady Grey found him dumped on the Morganville border. He could be anyone’s.”
“I’m not owned,” protested Samuel around Myrnin’s hand. He removed his teeth from Myrnin’s hand and the fangs retract after a little. Myrnin didn’t protest, maybe satisfied that the young vampire was no longer in danger of attacking Claire.
“Of course you aren’t,” Myrnin agreed, backing up a step and shaking stray drops of his own blood off his hand. Well, not 'his' blood, since his body hadn’t produced it. The bite marks were already healing thanks to sped up healing abilities. “But I might start claiming you if you continue to use my as a snack bar. Eat when you are hungry, hear me?”
The trap door was opened with far more haste than was necessary.
It was dark underground, of course. Vampires didn’t care, since they could see anyway.
This particular vampire that was forgoing the perfectly good ladder down to the ground and jumping to the concrete floor was, it seemed, in just a bit of a touchy mood. Imagine that, if you could see him, he was wearing a trench-coat and a hat that would be perfect for spelunking. If you could see and he was moving fast enough to move the coat away from his body, you would see he was also wearing shorts. And no shoes at all, of course. You could hear the slap of bear feet against the ground.
Under his breath he was muttering, though even he couldn’t hear what he was saying.
The room didn’t remain dark for long as he turned on the light that was positioned on his hat. It flickered before sending a bright beam over concrete and old light sockets. He followed the hallway through an almost maze-like passage before a room opened around him as the path opened up. This was the room with the computer that ran Morganville. It was a hulking form, crouched in the back of the place and seemed almost to cower away from the light as the shadows from Myrnin’s headlight effected the surrounding area.
Myrnin, however, didn’t even look at the machine and instead searched the deeper shadows until a lump of brightly colored rags came into view. Not truly rags of course. Instead, it was a boy so still that he might as well have been dead. But as the light fell on him, a large breath inflated the clothing and a sandy brown head rose. Myrnin understood the boy hadn’t been asleep. That was why he was down here. Again.
“You didn’t sleep,” he said, voicing his thoughts.
The boy’s eyelids dropped, but his answer was easy to understand, even if they were from a throat that caused the words to rasp out. “I don’t have to.”
“Vampire is not a synonym for I-don't-need-sleep. We just sleep in the day. Which you happened to miss.”
“You aren’t my mom,” said the boy.
“On the contrary. If you continue to be a two-year-old, Sam, then I will take that title if I need to.” The words were a hiss. “I know what the dreams are like, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t need to at least keep some semblance of health.”
“The pot calling the kettle black,” said Sam to himself.
Myrnin’s fingers almost clenched and he leaned forward, a hand going under Samuel’s chin and tilting it up. Sam didn’t resist, but the defiance in his eyes could have killed.
Myrnin stooped, switching off the light on his hat and plunging them both into darkness. At least until their eyes adjusted, growing wide and reflective of the small lights that were on the machine to their back. Unlike cats, the only difference was they could still see everything in color, and, in a sense, heat as long as it was produced from a beating heart.
The machine was there, more of an AI than anything else, which explained Sam’s presence here. Sam came down here to rant. Within earshot of Frank, the machine, it would seem. Because what use was it to rant to someone when you couldn’t be heard.
“You need to sleep,” Myrnin repeated.
Sam finally snapped out two words between buttoned lips and narrowed eyes. “Make me.”
Myrnin’s eyes narrowed. “Fine. I will.” Sam didn’t look pleased at this. He actually looked shocked.
Myrnin’s hand moved to the side of his face and the other hand pulled up to mirror it.
His eyes met Sam's and there was a tickling at the back of his head. To begin with, it was uncomfortable, itching. Then Myrnin leaned forward, forehead meeting blond hair. And Sam's eyes rolled back and he felt like he was falling forward.
Only, it wasn’t his dream that met him.
The mall, and that was what it appeared to be, was only lit by moonlight.
It was cast from high up windows, falling in patches onto white, bleached tile. The dream, and through this disconnected way that Sam was viewing it, it did seem to be a dream, caused the surroundings to flicker. Like two pictures were being overlaid. One of an empty room, only tile and faded grey carpet and another, with racks of clothing and shoes, all in shades of moonlight. Dark, humanoid shapes, more shadow than anything else moved around the former broken badly taken picture more than they had the latter. They flickered, skipping forward each step or so, like the mind that was running the dream could keep the pace even.
Or as Sam made out a face, it might simply be how vampires walked when they were nervous.
A pale face, looking like pent up energy was only just being held in check, appeared on one of the shadows as it walked past Sam. The boy did know who the man was, but the face flickered out before he could try and catch any more details.
He noticed something else. No matter which moonlit overlay you payed attention to none of the vampires ever touched the tiles. The white tiles we’re avoided, even though they went from the distant, fuzzy door to where Sam was standing, take up over fifty percent of the room. Yet it was avoided, walked around and most often given a wide birth.
No fear caused him worry in this room. It wasn’t his dream. Had it been Myrnin’s intention to implant this dream in his head?
“Not like I appreciate you messing with my brain,” he muttered, though he didn’t know if the older vampire could hear him.
And he couldn’t even tell where Myrnin was in all of this. He wasn’t Myrnin, was he?
He looked down. Nothing. Literally nothing. He wasn’t there. No sign of a body at all. And the dream people, all around him, didn’t notice him either.
He wasn’t supposed to be in this dream, so it reacted like he wasn’t there.
And then he did see a familiar face. One of the drifting shadows had condensed into a feminine form of Lady Grey. Out of the darker corners of the mall, another shadow pulled itself away and became more solid than it had before. Myrnin. And he didn’t look well. Not healthy, mentally or physically.
It was here Sam saw the collars. The shadow of Lady Grey and Myrnin had become extremely detailed, so it was clear that they were the focus of this illusion. And with them, you saw the collars. Shock collars, just like you would put on a dog. These large, bulky things, black, and sitting uncomfortably around their necks.
Sam blinked. What?
Myrnin looked impatient, pacing and nervous, like, well, liked he was trapped.
Lady Grey had gently laid a hand on his arm, but he shook it off as he passed. He said, snapped really, something at her, but she ignored it, trying to keep up with his shuffling. He was getting closer to the moon washed tiles, still saying something every few seconds, but it was like the whole dream was on mute.
But that didn’t mean that Sam couldn’t understand what was going on. The words, or at least the sense, was inserted in his head. Myrnin was complaining, ranting, and Lady Grey was trying to get him to slow down. To think.
Myrnin really didn’t do thinking right now.
He took several steps forward, teeth gritted and lips pressed together. The patch of tile was close and then … he had stepped over it, foot falling into the moonlight and if anything, he became even more pronounced.
For a heartbeat, he stood there. Whispered breaths of idiot and stupid came to Sam’s mouth, even though he had no idea what was going to happen. The way he tensed, his body wanting to pull the older vampire back even though that wouldn’t work, it was easy to tell that there was something in his brain that understood something odd was going to happen. But there was hardly any other reaction from any of the dream vampires.
And Myrnin collapsed. Sam blinked in surprise, not sure what was happening. The hiss of pain, however, and a slight tingling sensation that ran up and down his body was all he needed to know. Suddenly, there was sound.
The collars around their neck were just like shock collars because that was exactly what they were.
“Come away now, please,” said Myrnin.
Sam whirled, because the voice hadn’t come from the Myrnin that was lying, twitching, on the ground. It had been a verbal sound … but no one was there.
Around him, the dream dissolved, colors running around him before fading to familiar black.
A hand gripped his shoulder and he jerked up so fast his head rushed even though he hadn’t even woken up properly yet.
“Easy,” said Myrnin, voice no longer in his head and a very real hand pressing into his shoulder.
Sam found it easy to come to terms with the fact that he was not dreaming any more than he ever had previously. Though it had been vivid, it hadn’t been his. He had not been so deeply wrapped up in it that the lines between him and the waking world had been blurred.
“I didn’t mean for that to happen,” said Myrnin. He looked just as, if not more, tired than Sam had.
“What was that?” Sam asked, rubbing some feeling back into his fingers. “Why did that happen?”
“Pot to the kettle, as you said,” Myrnin mumbled. “And the fact that you are a vampire. There is a bit more than the blood and teeth to our abilities.”
Sam sort of froze. “Wait. Does that mean that you saw my dream? The one I've been …” He trailed off at Myrnin’s offhand wave, like it was no big deal. “Your dream is none of my concern. If you wish to discuss your needs with me, the need to say what happened to you before Lady Grey found you, then I will listen. I shall not press the issue when you do not want me to.”
He lowered his hand, bouncing back on his heels to give Samuel space. “However, my business is my own memories, which you seem to have hijacked. What you saw was something that happened ten years ago. I would prefer not to … talk about it.”
“But -” Sam started and here Myrnin held up his hand.
“When you’re older, then. I will answer when you are older.”
“But I'm not going to get any older,” said Sam through his teeth, just a little bit of annoyance returning.
Myrnin stood up, ending the subject and turning away. “At least you slept. Good morning, Samuel.”
It was supposed to be cold. That’s what metal was supposed to feel like, but apparently that was just another limitation that greeted Samuel in this new life. He rapped his knuckles on the metal again, thinking. Couldn’t really feel great changes in heat or cold. That seemed like an odd side-effect, but he wasn’t sure what else to think about it.
“What don’t you have in here?” he called over his shoulder, to a person that wasn’t visible. The room was colorful to say the least. Full of colors and patterns and shapes and ruffles. All men's clothing, Sam had been told, but he really couldn’t be sure considering some of the older pieces in here. Like the one he was wrapping his fist against. A full-fledged suit of armor. Helmet and everything.
“Why?” asked a male voice in return. “Did you find something odd?”
Sam looked around, wondering how Myrnin defined odd. Within a certain size rang (anything larger than Myrnin’s size was fine) and directed toward the male gender (grey areas were obvious, however. He had pink and flowers in here) then anything clothing wise could logical be in this large room.
It had just been his intention to change out of the current over large t-shirt he was wearing. This goal had now completely been whipped from his brain. “You have a suit of armor,” he pointed out. “Just how old are you?”
Myrnin came into view. Well, at least his head did. Dark brown hair, tied back into a ponytail, which swung around his shoulders. He was currently wearing a long, Victorian style shift with ruffled sleeves and shorts that wouldn’t be out of place on a beach.
“That is a rather personal question,” he almost whined. It probably wasn’t a serious complaint, however.
He walked over, hands behind his back and eyes focusing on the suit of armor. A low ‘hummm’ echoed from his mouth. “I forgot I had this. Pretty old, your right. As for being mine.” He shrugged his shoulders, neither confirming or denying that he owned the suit of armor.
“Do you ever wear it?” questioned Sam, expecting to be surprised by the answer. But Myrnin shook his head. “Nah, too bulky. They used to have trouble with weight but that isn’t really a problem considering who I am.” The enhanced strength, he meant.
Sam looked at him for a very long second and then grinned. It was the sort of grin you gave when you knew the other person wouldn’t like what you were grinning about. “Put it on,” he suggested, pointing an index finger at the helmet.
Myrnin looked right back at him and shook his head several times, back and forth. He was smiling, however, amused at the request. “Why?”
“You need a reason for that?” questioned Samuel, laughing. “You wear anything, at any time, like it’s no big deal. But you won’t put on a metal pot.”
“That’s a rather accurate description,” said Myrnin, lifting the helmet. He shook it, as if expecting to hear something. “Gotta check to see if it’s occupied first.” It was the desert. There were all sorts of creepy crawlies around. And then Myrnin gave into Samuel’s whim and set it over his head, looking though the slits. “Happy?” his voice both echoed and was muffled.
Sam was grinning from ear to ear and started circling the older vampire. “Hum …” it was a sort of sound Myrnin felt he should start to dread. “Maybe the boots?”
Myrnin rolled his eyes, though that was useless, because Samuel couldn’t see them. “You just want me to slowly put on the whole thing, don’t you?” He didn’t need to see Sam to get the sneaky affirmative. “Yes, yes, I thought it would be that way.” He shrugged, though the helmet hindered this. It wasn’t like either of them had to be anyway.
“Ah … but!” and idea came to him and he pulled out one of the shirts with ruffles on the sleeves and shoved it in Sam’s direction. His aim was pretty good for someone who couldn’t see very well. Sam looked at the shirt. “Oh.” Was his only, resigned statement. But he shrugged, wiggling the adult’s shirt over his head. It sat on him like a tent. Myrnin grinned inside the helmet and fitted the next bit of armor on. It continued in this way until Myrnin looked like a medieval advertisement for a blacksmith’s shop and Sam looked like a shrunken man from the 1600s inside his new getup. Both were almost in tears, but it was hard to tell if it was from how ridiculous they looked or how silly the other did. Either way, it was one of the first days that they both could actually smile and smile about nothing. Something they both needed.
It was almost daylight. He'd been sure to make sure that the blinds were closed all the way, just because he wanted to be careful, even though he didn't think he'd get that far into the morning. Sam was technically right. He was very close, the sun peaking over the horizon, but dreamless sleep turned dark as soon as day actually had any chance of coming. Mocking.
It was the one dream that Sam disliked the most. It started out nice, then turned sour as soon as he relaxed into it. His eyelids flickered, hand tightening on cloth. Of his shirt or the borrowed blankets he didn't know. In the dream, in was someone's sleeve. He couldn't look high enough to see a face, but the sleeve was green, a patterned sweater. He could feel the material under his fingers, rough and a little bit scratchy. Nerves fluttered in his chest. A muttered exchange of words, as if he was hearing it from another room. But Sam couldn't hear it. The grip he had on the sleeve shifted and instead a hand wrapped around his wrist. The grip, for some reason, was harder than he expected. But he started walking and so did the person who held onto him. The conversation faded, then stopped. Sam didn't pay attention to his surroundings, but then ... he hadn't that first time either. More words, more that he couldn't understand or maybe just was blocking. Then ... the dream shifted. The tips of his fingers were cold, a cold that slowly crept up his arms.
Back in the real world, Sam squirmed in discomfort, pulling backward like he was trying to get away from the feeling, though because he was gripping the bed with one hand, he wouldn't move very far. A pillow fell off the couch.
Dizzy. How could you be dizzy in a dream? But Sam wasn't aware it was a dream, and was panicking just the same. It ... he knew he should be feeling pain, he knew that even though he couldn't see anything. But it was just ... dizzy and falling. Heavy feeling in his legs and arms, a tugging behind the eyes. Then he wasn't falling anymore, limbs jerking as if elastic had been wrapped around them and the force of movement had completely stopped him, pulled, then bounced him back. His fingers were still cold. Fear moved through him, wave after wave. Not of anything, so much as he was afraid at the tightness in his throat. Like he wanted to scream, that fluttering of panic in his chest. It was just the sort of random collection of things a dream so often had.
Feelings that were half imagined memories and another half that was completely a product of the bad dream.
Spine bent in the real world, leg kicked out, head twitched and fangs half snapped out for a second before being pulled back into his mouth again. Chest heaved, but it was like he'd forgotten how to breath. His hands trembled. Maybe he shouldn't have closed the windows. Because at least that would have been real pain, instead of phantom pain brought about by fear. A shaky breath pulled in as he finally seemed to remember how to take in air. A whine, almost a whimper. Then he seemed to forget again, tossing over on his side, arms going over his head. Teeth came fully down this time, clacking against the bottom set, and that did hurt. Not enough to wake him up, however.
“Claire, please take him out.” The fact there was a ‘please’ anywhere in that sentence astonished Claire. That just didn’t happen with Myrnin. Not unless he was going stir crazy. Or maybe the small boy, Sam, just brought up something that made him communicate a little better.
“Um,” said Claire. She looked at Samuel blankly. He was hunched in a chair, eyes on the floor. She wondered what was annoying him or if he was always like that.
But it wasn’t like she held any sort of grudges from the first few times she’d seen the small boy. Well, she actually had to check something first.
“He has eaten, right? I don’t think it would be wise if he hasn’t,” said Claire.
Myrnin waved his hand dismissably. “Yes, yes, he is perfectly fine. Don’t worry about it.” Once again, Claire looked at Samuel. “It’s daylight,” she pointed out.
“And he looks like a walking clothing store. And?” Was Myrnin’s catch-all answer. Claire sighed at this response.
“Do you want to go?” she finally asked Sam. She had to confirm he was okay with all this. Sam finally looked up, blinking at her. “I want to do something other than sit here,” he responded, shortly and with a clipped tone. This seemed like the only response she would be getting, so Claire nodded, trying to smile. He sounded like the board teen he was. “Okay,” she said. What else could she say?
And she turned, walking towards the stairs.
Sam kept his head down and his hands in his pockets. Claire checked back for a bit and then just slowed her pace so she was walking next to him instead. “Everything alright?” she asked. Sam looked sideways at her and shrugged. It was impossible to see his eyes under the hood, and even then, his face was mostly throw into a self-made shadow. Which was good, she knew, but it also made it very hard for her to get an idea of what he was thinking. Biting at her lip, she tapped at the much smaller figure's shoulder. “This way,” she said, motioning with her hand as she led him around a corner. Samuel followed without question, so maybe she could gage how he was feeling if not what he was thinking.
The winding path she took brought them to a bit more active area of the town. There wasn’t a big population of youth in Morganville, but there were plenty of college age students and even they used where she was leading Sam.
The look of the place was a big, slightly weather warn building, huddled between other shops and stores. It contained tinted windows, which possibly suggested that this place got vampire customers or that its mortal visitors were just as averse to the sun.
A couple of the letters on the sign, she knew, didn’t actually light up even though LED lights above them tried to eliminate the faint words. At night, it looked like it read ‘Saky am’
In the daylight, it just read Sparky’s Games, though she had no idea who ‘Sparky’ was.
Sam didn’t look up, not once, to read the sign or understand what it meant. Instead, he shuffled through the open door that Claire held for him into the slightly darkened room. Here he did look up, around, maybe even a bit surprised. The blips and sounds all around him were … familiar. Around him, humans (and maybe a couple not so humans, but Claire couldn’t really pick them out. Everyone looked pale in here, thanks to the screens they were looking at) were playing video and arcade games. There were several old classics placed near the entrance of the room. Thanks to Sam’s eyes, already expanding to circular spheres within his head, he could tell that the further you went into the building the newer the games became. Some people were teaming up for the multiplayer games and even though Claire couldn’t pick out the vampires Sam could. A team of three were working on one game he didn’t recognize. It didn’t have the best graphics, so maybe something from the early 2000s. One of them, the vampire he’d picked out, seemed far better at the game than the other two. Mirror-like eyes flickered over the man and Sam could tell from his posture that he was also holding back, just a little. Not enough to lose the edge he had, but enough that he was making it entertaining for the other two sitting next to him. There was a sad little ‘whoop, whoop’ as one of the players died on screen and one of the human players leaned back, her face disappointed but good-natured. She wacked the male vampire in the arm with her controller, saying, “I almost got ya the last level.” She got up and hovered around the other human male now, after receiving a chuckle as her only response. She hung over the other human’s shoulder, pointing at the screen every now and again and trying to give advice.
Sam watched all this, fascinated not by the game but the interaction. They all seemed to be friends.
Claire tapped him on the shoulder and pointed to a bench postioned by the windows. “I’m over there. Here.” He hadn’t noticed her go, but she must have because she pushed a plastic, neon green bracelet-type ticket at him, apparently having payed for it and returned without him having registered it. She smiled at Sam, glad that he seemed to be looking around. She was pretty bad at all these games, though when Shane, her husband, had found this place over three years ago he’d found it all very exciting. She thought a vampire probably ran – or co-owned – it. This place needed that sort of overseeing to keep the peace between the species. Sure, it wasn’t like how Morganville used to be, almost ten years ago, but there was still stress between vampires and humans. But taking Sam to a place where that was lightened seemed like a promising idea. And anyway, teen boys liked this sort of thing, right?
So, she walked over to the seat and Sam continued to look around the room, eye wondering over games and faces alike. It was hard to tell, but he seemed … less bent over than he had before.
Sam was leaning against the wall. Part of him wondered whether the two in the other room knew he was there. He hoped not. He had done his best to stay as quiet as he could, even to go so far as to stop breathing though that was a distasteful action.
His head rested against the wall, eyes half closed, listening to the argument that was quietly being waged on the other side of the door.
Myrnin seemed to be the angriest out of the pair. Lady Grey seemed frustrated even though she kept her voice purposely calm.
“He’ll find out eventually. I’m not suggesting we tell him, Myrnin, I’m just saying that if he can’t live this life he’ll go the same way as Fallon.” And mentioning that name was rubbing salt in the wound for Myrnin. He shifted from foot to foot, shaking his head. He knew what Lady Grey was talking about. He knew that it was still his fault. All of that was still his fault.
“Even if it worked,” said Myrnin, rubbing his forehead with one hand, looking like he was one step away from yelling into the void. As if all his attempts to talk were falling on deaf ears. “It isn’t worth it. He wouldn’t understand that. He made his choice when he became a vampire. That’s what we all have in common. Every single one of us.”
Lady Grey continued to have patients with his talking in circles. “I know Myrnin. I’m not saying he should. I’m saying that there needs to be some way that we can show him …” She trailed off. The point was made either way. Samuel needed to be eased into this life. Slowly, if that was what it took, but it needed to happen.
Myrnin leaned back against the wall, hands covering his face and rubbing the palms of his hands into his eyes. He was tired, very tired. It wasn’t like he hadn’t already been tried to get Samuel into his new life, as best as he knew how.
“I don’t know what to do, Jesse,” he moaned through his hands. “I wasn’t made to raise a kid.” Lady Grey didn’t say anything to that. What could she? By his own admittance, he didn’t think he was good at this. Yet he was trying, so she could say nothing about it.
Sam remained where he was, waiting to see if the argument would continue. But instead Myrnin said something in a tired, frustrated voice, “Enjoying yourself, Sam?” Completely aware, at least now, that Sam had been listening in.
Sam’s back stiffened, but slowly moved to the side, slinking away. With a mind full of questions.
Sam had never seen snow. He highly doubted that this small wish would ever be fulfilled since he had been born and raised in Texas. It was all heat and sunlight.
Which, in his view, made it insanity that the possible one and only town safe for vampires to live in was still in the same heat and sunlight.
The first day that he saw the sun after … well … since coming to Myrnin’s lab was when he was finally alone in it. Myrnin had left on some errand and he had muttered about how he didn’t want to go out and how annoying this was that a respectable person like him shouldn’t be out and about in the daylight. There was also some other stuff that really didn’t make sense in whatever context Samuel had heard after Myrnin slipped down into the tunnels below his lab, presumably using them to go wherever he needed to go. Sam had leaned down, looking into the dark pit that was the trap door and pointed out, “You said that the tunnels around your lab weren’t safe.” He had been a bit confused.
Myrnin had reached up a hand, not even one fourth of the way down the ladder and used the index finger that had come out of the darkness (that wasn’t really darkness for either of them) to prod Sam in the nose. “Dangerous for you. Not for me because I helped build them and know where the bottomless pits are.”
Sam had looked affronted, but took a step away from the trap door. Time alone was time alone. It wasn’t like Myrnin was easy to bunk with. He was, for lack of a better word, clingy. His mood shifted by the hour sometimes and unusually he was a mood that required attention and awareness.
Sam could use the time to stew in his own head.
So, he retreated to the center room of the lab, looking around at the dimly lit surroundings. The lights weren’t even on, but he could still see everything just fine. The best way to describe it was if a human had put on a pair of sunglasses in a well-lit area. He moved around the room, still avoiding touching anything. He didn’t feel like this was a place he was living. It didn’t seem permanent. He was a guest and only a guest.
And said guest made a hesitant beeline for the trap door that went upward. A set of stairs that led to the above ground. Halfway up he leaned on the railing, frowning as he fought down a bought of hunger. A deepening frown on his face, he continued climbing again. He still refused to eat very much, slept very little, and really was just hanging onto the basic facts of living. He was changing his clothing, he thought, pouting. He was still functioning.
He just didn’t want to.
He climbed the stairs slowly, having not been on the stairway for over a week. That was how long ago it was since Lady Grey had descended the stairs and Sam had followed, steps so slow, like he was – not ‘like’ – because he had been wary, had been lost, didn’t know what to do.
And Lady Grey was like him. A vampire.
But different. Because of course she was different. He wouldn’t have followed anyone that was like …
He wasn’t willing to think of that and he’d reached the top of the stairs anyway and a hand pushed the trap door up, shaking as dust tickled at his nose. The room beyond was only a little lighter than the lab below. It seemed to seep through the walls and the roof and Sam looked around, studying it and the room. He … he hadn’t been out when it was day before. And only that one time that he’d entered, when it had been night.
The door was closed, of course. And a bit far away. A small fraction of light filtered under the door and Sam watched it for a second. He’d been given the runaround about what was and was not safe for him. At least, the bits Myrnin had remembered.
He walked around the room a couple of times, looking at the dust that was collecting in the corners of the room. A long time ago, someone had put furniture in the building, but apart from a few dust cloths (ha, for all the good a couple years had done those) over them, everything in the room was unremarkable. It was more of a shack than anything else, really. A house a long time ago, but no one had bothered to make any repairs that weren’t necessary to keep the light out. The stairs, that had once led to a second story, had caved in. There were holes in the roof that seemed to hint that parts of the ceiling had caved in periodically as well, but that had at least been cleared out.
In the end, something he’d hoped would have lasted him … well, some length of time at least … probably only killed about ten minutes.
And that wasn’t nearly time enough.
So, he slowly found himself approaching the door out of here, edging around the sides so none of the creeping light from around the edges would find him. He wanted something to do, something that would allow – well, if he was perfectly honest with himself what he wanted was to open the door, step out into the real world, and find out that nothing had changed.
Yes, because that was going to happen. If he wished hard enough, though he was in some sort of nightmare long enough …
Ah, but, he still needed to know his limits. In everything. Maybe that was why Myrnin only forced him to do things when Samuel was at his limits. Because Sam didn’t know what would happen if he crossed that line. He’d been told the ultimatum for everything, but that didn’t mean he’d ever reached any of them.
Slowly, he reached out a hand and gently rested it on the doorknob. His fingers tingled as they passed through the thinnest sliver of filtered sunlight, but he wasn’t sure if it was because of what he was or if he was only imagining it because he was nervous. And hand shouldn’t be too bad, right? He wanted out, wanted to walk around, he didn’t want to be trapped here.
And he turned the knob, pulled the door open just a little, and warm Texas sunlight fell in.
One thing that Sam had noticed since all this began. He didn’t really feel hot anymore. Even in the middle of the day. Or what he assumed was day. It was hard to tell, because they we underground, which might also have affected how he felt about his surroundings. Hot and cold didn’t descend into several feet of rock.
This was the first time he’d actually felt heat for a very long time. It would all have to be slowed down, much later, to fully examine what happened and how, but the steps were as follows.
Sam cracked the door open a bit and might have opened it more had the less than six-inch patch of sunlight on his arm not heat up. He watched his skin go red in what was less than a second and by the time he’d registered the need to pull back it had already started to smoke.
He slammed the door, stumbling backward and sat in a dust and cloth covered seat, his arm cradled in front of him. He was bent over it and it hurt! His shoulders were hunched and eyes were squinted. It wasn’t like that time when he’d first met Lady Grey. That had been the last time he had experienced pain. Teeth he hardly knew had formed stabbing down throw his gums to reveal a set of fangs behind his normal, human canines. That had hurt, he wouldn’t deny that. But it hadn’t hurt for long. But now, it hurt very, very much, even though the pain ebbed away slowly. Much more so than before. And if it was possibly, by the time it had faded to just a dull throb, he was even more hungry than he had been when he had first come up here.
A pale finger stroked over the burned flesh, shuddering both at the feeling and the thrill of pain that ran over the spot. At least that was one thing he could feel correctly. Pain.
His shoulders pulled further inward onto himself, a ball of distress ranting in his head. Legs came up to his chest and fingers wiggled under an arm until he could lean against the armrest without falling over and in a position that he didn’t think would make the chair collapse under his not so hefty weight. He could feel the corners of his eyes stinging, but didn’t cry. He didn’t have the blood to spare. As sick of a thought as that was.
Slowly, his arm faded to an angry red, but it no longer looked burned. Sam really didn’t need to see the poof to know that it had happened. He couldn’t go outside. He wasn’t going to be able to stand under the sun again for a very, very long time. Even Myrnin and Lady Grey could only just survive out there without covering, though they went out with those many layers anyway. And how old were they? In their hundreds, maybe older? Would he, Sam, really have to remain under an over-hanging roof as long as they had before he could go out?
That didn’t seem like a life he could deal with.
He didn’t hear the shift of cloth of the feeling of someone else in the room for a long time. Only when he looked up a bit did he see the loaning figure of Myrnin above him. His arms were braced on the back of the chair and he went back and forth between looking down at Sam and straight ahead, back toward the door.
Sam didn’t know how the older vampire had gotten there. Maybe he’d never really left. Maybe he’d just been lucky and came back at the right – or wrong, since Sam wasn’t sure how to look at this – moment. Or maybe he’d somehow, however unlikely, gained some sixth-sense to know that Sam was in pain.
“There are things about this life,” Myrnin murmured ever so quietly. “That I wouldn’t relinquish for the world, Sam. Even if offered. If someone came to me and gave me it all back. If they gave me my pick of time period to be in, of place on Earth, and gave me the maximum of a human lifespan, I wouldn’t take it.” And then he looked down again, one hand coming down to ruffle Sam’s always mussed hair. Sam didn’t say anything. “Please hold out a bit for this old man, Samuel. I promise things will get better.”
Sam always would have trouble sleeping. Memories were always locked away like that and they came out in dreams.
The nightmares, however, were worse when they contained that familiar face.
When he'd been human, he used to wake up in a cold sweat, but that didn't happen when he was a vampire. Instead he was left to wake up to screaming. Hands shaking and teeth chattering and sometimes even biting his own lip.
He'd taken up residence in the tunnel below Myrnin's lab. Myrnin allowed this mostly because Sam's constant ranting near the machine that ran Morganville meant that not only had Frank been forced to deal with him instead of Myrnin, but Sam had also become far more comfortable intruding on the space down there than the cramped upper areas of the lab.
A ruffle of pillows and blankets was spread out around him. He didn't need the blanket to keep warm, but they were a buffer between himself and the hard floor. They also sound-proofed the small area he'd claimed in the corner, even if only a little. There was no way to tell what time it was or how long he'd been sleeping. He was perpetually tired, so it seemed to make no difference.
He'd have to go upstairs if he wanted to eat.
And he had started eating. Sometimes the habit of living was so hard to break. And maybe, just maybe, there were a couple of things he wanted to keep around for. This place was dark, cold, and quiet. But he could see in the dark, couldn't feel cold, and things were almost never quiet outside him anymore. People like Lady Grey, Claire, and Myrnin were ... okay. He saw what they were doing and accepted that. He was guilty that he wasn't fitting into his body as well as they seemed to want him to.
He pressed down his hair, ruffling it around. How long had he been down here? No, not this particular night, but living down here in general. Three weeks? Three weeks out of the five months that he'd apparently been a dependent of Myrnin. It was only going to continue.
During his time here, his birthday had come and gone with no celebration or ceremony. Not even a mention. But that was because Sam hadn't told anyone about it.
He wasn't aging anyway. He would always be just a few months away from thirteen but never getting that far. Was he bitter? You bet. But he was bitter about a lot of things.
He'd get over it. Maybe.
He rolled around on the ground, pushing at a couple of pillows and feeling around for the edge of the blanket. His scrambling fingers touched metal instead of concrete he pulled at the necklace until he could lift it up and see the claps so he could attach the familiar charm around his neck. It was the only thing that was 'his' anymore. Anything that was his from his old life, unless you counted the old pair of clothes which he'd just moved to a far area of Myrnin's closet. The clothes he was wearing was either ones that had been bought for him or ones Myrnin had given to him, in which case they always seemed to be too big. They were okay if he wanted to go out, however.
It was harder to consider that they were his, but he was getting there. He rubbed a hand over the material, his senses picking up a lot more in the cloth than he would have otherwise.
He dragged himself into a standing position, shaking out his hair. It was the usual, slightly oily condition that it always was. Once again, he vaguely thought that he should wash it, but was well aware that he'd forget to.
"What time is it?" he said to the empty air. He could have done this upstairs as easily as he could of down here. Frank was just as annoyed to be woken either way.
"Four thirty in the morning good day and good night," said the male voice, completely ignoring punctuation when he was too busy turning on a couple of the hulking machines lights only to shut them down again. Presumably to try and 'get more sleep'. There were still the usual lights which showed that Frank was still doing his twenty-four-seven-hour job of keeping Morganville's borders active.
“Thank you,” said Sam. Sure, the machine was a grouchy annoyance at best, but it wasn’t like he’d protested too much every time Sam had started talking to himself. The offered opinions from him were always useless, but at least they were a bit familiar in their downgrading nature of distaste. It wasn’t something Sam had accepted as being literal.
But he’d always been told to be polite and the habit died hard, even when the person (… he was never quite sure what to consider Frank) wasn’t worthy of the thanks in this case.
The boy started walking out of the room, hands in his pockets. He’d only wandered away from the long-trodden path to and from Myrnin’s trapdoor up to his lab. This path was easy enough to follow thanks to the signs he could pick up, but if that failed, it was the only tunnel with electric lights along the top of the ceiling.
The one time he’d deviated from the path he’d found himself almost completely lost. And there had been noises. Shuffling noises. That belonged to feet, he could tell. Even more as a vampire, he could tell. It was like a horror movie and it had taken him darting around before he’d run across this path again. He hadn’t moved from that set passageway since. Even though he glanced at the gapping, dark entryways off this main passageway. He still sometimes heard the shuffling, but it never came this far. He had to always remind himself that he was the most dangerous thing down here. That any protections Myrnin had put down or built himself around here were often for humans. Apparently, Morganville wasn’t very safe for or from humans, which seemed a bit odd to Sam, but then, sometimes not so much. Sometimes, when he was remembering everything correctly, feeling okay that was, he could remember what it felt like to be pushed down. Oh, he could be pushed, but when you were pushed, you so wanted to push back. To fight. That was what it felt like for the humans of Morganville. Sometimes rightly so.
The trap door was above him now, a ladder would usually descend from it, but it was one of those rope ladders that could be pulled in and out. It still looked like a jump that was way out of reach for Sam, but he breathed out, clenching and unclenching his hands before leaping upward. His legs kicked outward at the air, eyes already analyzing how he’d grip and push. One hand gripped an almost impossible hold between the crack of the ceiling and the door while the other pushed the door upward. His arm held his weight as he gained another grip, still quietly surprised that he could do this without feeling any strain on his muscles. His knuckles whitened and he stuck his head up through the opening, scrambling out using just his hands to drag him upwards. The lab was quiet, as usual, of course, but what else was new? He knew by now that Claire didn’t come till the evenings since she had a daughter to take care of and Myrnin usually lived alone. Since Lady Grey was off traveling and avoiding the Founder. Things like that. Sam was used to this quiet, when Myrnin was off who knew were and he had the semblance of having the place to himself. It was a bit of a change of pace since sharing a house with his older brother.
From the closet that the trap door was located in he wandered through the main part of the lab till he reached the partitioning wall that had been put in place to divide the main lab from the kitchen. He wondered, every now and again, how a kitchen had slowly arisen in a home of something that didn’t consume human food.
Food was basically what he was getting, one that would be of use to him, and when he’d finished with that it was back to the quiet of the room. Sometimes he would look over the tables and counters or try and help fight the losing battle that Claire raged against Myrnin’s encroaching mess. But today, after the reception of the worst of his bad dreams, it all seemed useless and like grey filament was around him. Nothing worth the time or effort it took to make this place livable or his life interesting.
So, instead he moved to one of the chairs, waiting for Myrnin to either wake up or for him to make his presence known. His head leaned back and he looked up at the ceiling, a breath of air fluffing out of his mouth as he gave into the habit of breathing. His heartbeat wasn’t something he’d figured out how to regulate and when asking Myrnin the older vampire had just said that he’d learn when he got older or wouldn’t at all. Like there was no sort of advice that he could give that would allow Sam to emulate what it felt like to be human.
So instead he was caught between breathing and acting human and the dead thing within his chest that wouldn’t move or speak to him anymore. A stillness in his body that had slowly and fearfully started to push aside what he remembered from being human. It was scary. A very scary feeling to understand that he wasn’t who he used to be. It was ridiculous to think that the ‘changes’ you got once you became a teenager were never really going to reach him. No acne, cause apparently that was bad, but he’d never payed attention to that. But he’d never see fifteen, twenty or thirty. Never be old either, but as things were now, he didn’t see anything too bad with the thought of old age. Dying, however, still scared him.
Two voices echoed in his brain then. “He made his choice when he became a vampire. That’s what we all have in common. Every single one of us.” Myrnin, back then. And then there was the other voice.
His head tilted to the side, nestling deeper into the cushioning of the chair. The other voice.
“Do you want to die? Do you want to die?” Sam’s shoulders hunched, eyes screwing shut. Dying was what every vampire had in common. He knew that. Every single one of them feared death. Maybe for various reasons, but they wanted to hang onto living with everything possible. He was no different. There was no way to shake that.
The voice hadn’t been threatening. It had been offering. Sam couldn’t remember how he’d answered or how he’d heard. Not right now. It was something that he avoided thinking about in all but the moment of sleep and just after he’d woken, since that was when it got past all his defenses and he couldn’t not think about it.
Because his eyes had closed and he’d been sitting and weakened and he hadn’t had hunger to wake him. So, everything pulled at him, echoing in his head and bring back the strong memories of what he had become.
Very clear, detailed dreams were the normal thing for vampires, but to be drawn into a similar one that he had just exited mere hours before was a hand that the universe had unfairly dealt him.
However, it was different from the time had he’d slept in the Glass House or the time that Myrnin had invaded his dream. Because this time he could see the owner of the hand’s face. He looked up the several heads to a carefully put together face. Pretty tanned skin, brown hair pulled back into a bun, eyes with the usual hardness under there, like the person he was looking at was used to cutting people off when she needed to speak. She.
He looked away, still feeling the fabric of the sleeve under his hand. This was a dream, in all its warped-ness. But in contrast, though he couldn’t always remember that it was a dream as he walked down the sidewalk he could still influence it in some way.
They weren’t walking down the street in his home town anymore. They weren’t walking toward a distinctly parked car or to a fixed point in his life that he knew he’d never be able to change, no matter how often he re-walked these steps. Instead, the washed-out sky turned from night to day, the pressure along his arm shifted from that of a t-shirt and jeans to a hoodie and sweatpants, baggy and covering all exposed skin. He was good at interpreting the reactions of the woman beside him, so he didn’t even need to have her ‘there’ to know what would happen.
She stopped walking, her grip on his wrist tightening and her lips pursing together. He didn’t need to look at her to know that. And all of this? He could have looked up, could have turned his face to the sun, but it was a life-less glowing ball in the sky that wouldn’t hurt either of them.
The street was that of Morganville’s and if they continued along it then it would just lead to Myrnin’s lab. Or if the dream woman beside him turned around, dragged him along, then the street would loop back to the arcade that Claire had shown him.
“Let go of my arm,” he said quietly, speaking to the ground but his words very clear nonetheless.
The woman seemed to be frozen, but she completed no such request. Sam strained at his muscles, wishing he could have been able to manipulate things in the real world as easily as he could flip between what he still wished he was and what he had become. His arm, which started out feeling pained at the amount of pressure he was putting into the fingers slowly drifted into the completely still feeling that now, in the real world, resided in it. “Let go,” he repeated, pulling his hand from her grip and beginning to walk toward Myrnin’s lab.
He caught drifting words as he moved. He couldn’t really tell what the woman would do under normal, real world situations, but he still heard the words. “Do you want to die?”
The same words. The request. Not to kill him, but to ‘save’ him. From what she had started.
He stopped, breathing a bit out. The hoodie faded, replaced by the t-shirt and jeans. For a second, he could feel the fabric of the woman’s clothing under his fingers again. But this time he continued walking, saying, “No. But I live under my own terms.” And the streets remained those of Morganville.
There was a couch in Myrnin’s lab, but it was this old, lumpy thing that was a bit uncomfortable to sit on, much less sleep on. The lab wasn’t a good place to sleep in, since it was only made of one.
Which, considering the apparently admitted relationship between Lady Grey and Myrnin, Sam found a little hard to understand. Lady Grey, Jesse, whatever she was calling herself explained it once in passing, seeming amused as he raised his eyebrows at her laying a blanket over one of the high-backed chairs.
“I’m an invading queen in another woman’s country, Samuel.” She seemed to like calling him Samuel, even though the three days in this place had already loosed up his name with Myrnin (when he remembered it) to Sam.
He didn’t understand Lady Grey’s answer to his silent question, since it made no sense. She leaned her back against the chair and said, “Amelie. She runs Morganville. And doesn’t like me. So, I can’t stay here. That’s why it’s more ships in the night type of visiting. I used to be a queen of a very different country and even though there are several centuries between us there is no way that animosity will just disappear. So, I never move in here in any way, just come in for visits and write to Myrnin.” She rubbed a hand over the back of her head. “Which brings up something to discuss with you.”
She moved the chair, scooting it around so it was completely facing Samuel and she clasped her hands in front of her as she thought about what she was going to say.
“What are you plans?” she finally asked. It hadn’t been that long ago that Sam had started to speak to either of the vampires. He’d followed Lady Grey, but he hadn’t exactly been calm. But that didn’t mean that he didn’t … well … he didn’t have any plans. He didn’t know what he was going to do or where he was going to go. Was that what this was? Her throwing him out?
His shoulder tensed and he shook his head a bit. “I don’t know,” he said. “What I’m going to do.” He had mostly just been sitting on this couch, shoulders about the same amount of tense that they were now. He couldn’t say that everything was easy to talk about. One hand rested across his lap, in that position because the slight pressure it was offering to his chest was keeping the hunger under control. Lady Grey continued to ask him if he was hungry, but each and every time he’d shook his head when he was offered anything.
“Well,” said Lady Grey after a long pause. She searched his face. “I think that Myrnin would let you stay here.”
Sam blinked at her, a bit surprised. He didn’t know these people. He’d just … had no were else to go. And when you had no other options you weren’t really finding your own safety or logic as a priority. And now he was here and Myrnin was awkward but generally nice. It wasn’t like he could go home.
“It’s not like you’d be staying here forever,” Lady Grey confirmed, like she was reading his mind. “Just until …” She waved a hand around a bit, but let the sentence trail off. It was easy for Sam to guess what the ending was anyway. She was saying until he figured things out. Until he stopped rebelling against his own body.
He didn’t think that was ever going to happen.
“Either way,” said the older vampire, tucking a strand of red hair behind his ear and using another hand to smooth out the wrinkles in the knee of her jeans. “I’ll have to be leaving soon. Again. And there isn’t any way that I can take you with me.” It was a statement and there was no way that Sam could take that option. He didn’t know where Lady Grey went, but even if Amelie … the Founder of Morganville apparently, had wanted her around, Sam didn’t think she would have stayed. Lady Grey was a traveler. Someone who didn’t stay in the same place for any length of time. Myrnin struck Sam as someone who would have locked all the doors and windows and never come out of the house again if he could. They were an odd couple.
“I see,” he said. What else could he say?
Lady Grey seemed a bit amused at that and just nodded her head. She stood up, ruining all her attempts to have wrinkle free jeans, and walked in the direction of the kitchen. “Enjoy your day, Samuel.” And that was all.
I can’t do this.
That’s all I know. All I’ll allow myself to think.
Sam looked at the bottle that Myrnin had set in front of him.
It was warm. Sam had seen Myrnin put it in the small microwave that was in the lab. A small thing that was probably made for an RV.
“I’m not doing it,” Sam pointed out.
His arms were crossed over his chest and he did this partly because it helped the crawling feeling in his chest. Myrnin shrugged, leaving the bottle on the fold-out kitchen table. He moved back to the polished counter, leaning against it with eyes half-lidded.
It wasn’t like Sam wanted to do this. Go hungry. But he also didn’t want to give in to what was, as far as he could think of, consumption of what was friends and relatives for someone. People who talked, and walked, and laughed. He couldn’t shake that thought at all.
Myrnin seemed to be perfectly patient with this, but still didn’t give an inch. “You attacked at my friend. You eat.”
Samuel visibly squirmed. He hadn’t meant to do that. He almost gave in, as he had several times before. Myrnin was right, of course. He was … dangerous.
And Myrnin was well aware that Sam was in denial. But that wasn’t a state of being that could be continued for very long. He knew that Sam didn’t have to like it but he did need to continue to survive.
“I won’t force you to do anything,” he said. He waved a hand in the direction of the table. “You’ll pick it up under your own power.” He seemed to be very confident in this statement and finally pushed himself away from the counter, walking around the room for a second, going to the small refrigerator and opening it. He had a bunch of random things in there. Sam had looked in once. He didn’t think he’d do that again. The mad scientist of a vampire didn’t make the inside very appeasing to the eye. He also kept extra bottles along the edge of the door and he took one of these, turned around and unabashedly unscrewing the top and draining the contents like it didn’t matter one bit. His eyes drifted to a red color for a second before fading back to green.
And then he proceeded to spin the bottle between his hands, like he had all the time in the world. Which he did. If Sam would actually take care of himself, then so would he.
An hour later Sam was leaning his head against the center island, having moved away from the fold out table. Finally, he spun away from his seating arrangement and grabbed at the bottle. Myrnin grunted very briefly in satisfaction. It was worse than a sick person that wouldn’t take medicine. But it was better than the last time and maybe he’d slowly warm up to it. It was hard to tell.
But he was moving and he was slowly getting better. Myrnin wasn’t used to this at all. He’d rarely heard of almost complete rejection of what the boy had become. Maybe it was because, from what Myrnin could gather, the boy wanted to survive. There needed some sort of permission when changed into a vampire. It was always necessary. But you could be tricked and wheedled and a simple desire to live could function as the same thing. If that had been Sam than Myrnin couldn’t blame him for being the way he was.
There isn’t anything Myrnin could do. It was just going to be him fighting Sam to live until he found reason to start relying on himself. He could do that. He’d failed so many times before, he wasn’t going to do that this time. No, not again. Because he’d failed someone before and he needed to make sure that failure never affected Samuel. If it did, Myrnin wouldn’t ever forgive himself.
“I think that maybe you should visit some friends of mine,” he said quietly.
Claire and Shane had a young child, only about a year old, called Megan. Eve and Michael had one who was almost nine years old called Allision. It was the second relationship that caused Sam to do a double take.
Because Michael was a vampire. Sam had never considered the fact that, in Morganville, there might be a marriage between the two species.
Myrnin had bundled him up and walked him there. The excess of layers confused Sam because it was full on night outside. It wasn’t like the sun was going to rise any second now. Maybe Myrnin was just worried. But either way, they were in the doorway of the Glass House and Claire was staring at him, eyes narrowed just a bit as if she wasn’t sure what to do with him. The introductions had gone around, but she wasn’t leaving the doorway until she could confirm something. “He’s eaten, right?” She’d ordered Allision deeper into the House went she’d first seen the feathered hat that belonged to Myrnin. Allison had looked confused and a bit scared at the firmness in Claire’s voice, but she still moved. Myrnin seemed at ease with the whole thing.
“Of course, he has, Claire. I wouldn’t have brought him here if he hadn’t.”
Claire finally stepped aside and said, “Fine. You can come in.” And Myrnin skipped over the threshold like he owned the place. Sam followed with a bit of a slower step, until he felt a sort of … it was like he’d passed through something. But the feeling faded as soon as he entered, still shuffling awkwardly. He’d take any excuse he could to get out of the lab.
Claire walked him and Myrnin down the hallway, which Shane had already taken to put Megan to bed. The house showed all sighs that there were several people living in it. Michael hadn’t moved away from the door, but he smiled a bit as Sam passed, and Sam tried not to blush for staring. Because how did a vampire live in a house with several humans? He could hear every heart beat and against all logic it made him jumpy.
Myrnin’s one and only employee led them toward the sitting room, where she waved at the couch like she wasn’t sure if she should even invite them in at all. Her face was scrunched up in a look that Sam couldn’t really place, but it made him nervous.
Myrnin took the couch, crossing one leg over the other and looking very comfortable. “Just came by for a visit,” he said cheerfully. “How are you Claire?” Claire shrugged. “You talked to me on Friday. When did you think things had changed, Myrnin?”
There was innocence over every feature on Myrnin’s face and he shrugged. Sam blinked up at Claire, having half sat down on the edge of the couch’s armrest and seemed to understand that Claire was used to this. It wasn’t like it wasn’t obvious why the vampires were here.
“Want me to get Eve?” she asked. Michael had been leaning in the doorway, looking amused with it all. “No, no,” said Myrnin. “No need to get Steve.” No one bothered to correct him misnaming her and Sam opened him mouth for a second, but didn’t get that far.
“I,” continued Myrnin. “Was actually hoping that Samuel could spend the night here?” he was looking over at Michael now. The vampire looked surprised and had to point out, “Where would we put him, Myrnin?” There wasn’t anything about the fact that there had been no warning either. Maybe this was just the usual Myrnin … everything.
“The couch is rather comfy and I see no reason why that shouldn’t be good enough.” Sam himself wanted to protest because he’d heard nothing about ‘spending the night’ when the conversation had started about him coming here. It seemed very unfair that he didn’t get a say in this. And he really would have said something if he thought even for a moment that Myrnin would listen to him. But instead he watched around him as choices were made for and about him and that was just how everything went from Myrnin siting on the couch to him being a sort of fixture in the Glass House, sitting awkwardly on the same arm rest as the two (relatively synchronize) families moved around him.
Allison eyed him with interest whenever she passed through. Sometimes to hastily grab coloring supplies off the floor or once to reach almost directly behind the couch to grab a stuffed rabbit that she clutched to her chest like she expected him to steal it. She whispered to her father almost directly outside the door. “Why is he here?” And Michael hadn’t verbally answered, so Sam couldn’t tell why the girl had dropped the subject, but he assumed it had involved a bit of a shrug and her being told at a later time not to bug the situation. It was what he’d have done.
Eve had come over, introduced herself, asked if he’d like anything and the fact she was sorry Myrnin wasn’t much of a listener. She might have stayed around longer, maybe long enough for Sam to ask what exactly he could do, but Allison had gotten into something and she’d hurriedly had to move away.
It was Shane that finally got Sam to do something and this was when Allison had finally been caught, put to bed, and the house had completed calming down for the night.
“Sorry about all the scrambling around,” he said, flopping down on the couch. “Weren’t trying to ignore you.” He smiled a bit wanly. Sam wondered if the man knew how to handle children or if he was still learning. It seemed like Megan was his only kid and probably was going to stay that way. It had taken over an hour for her to stop crying and Shane still looked frazzled.
“It’s fine,” said Sam. “You didn’t ask for me to be here.” Shane nodded his head as if to agree that this was true, but leaned down and pulled a box out from under the couch. “Micky doesn’t really sleep at night. What about you?” He cast a look out of the corner of his eye.
Sam shook his head. “No, I sleep at night.”
“Ah,” said Sam, looking down at the game in what might have been disappointment. “Well, I’ve got these around, since I don’t know how long you want to stay up. I assume you know how to work these?” he pointed at the games in the box. Sam gave the man a smile. “Yeah. I do.”
“Good, good,” mumbled Shane. “I’m sure Eve will toss you a few blankets on her way upstairs. Ignore the skull and cross bones on them. It’s just her style.” He seemed to find this more of a joke than Sam got, but the boy nodded anyway.
And then Shane was standing up and the house drifted further into silence. He was right. Eve did toss him a blanket and two pillows before she drifted out of sight of the living room entrance way. Sam saw no further sight of Claire or Michael, though he thought he heard the latter in the kitchen.
Sam’s shoulders sagged and he really wasn’t sure what else he could do, even though he wanted to do anything other than sleep. But what other options did he have?
So, he tossed the pillows randomly at the other end of the couch, pulled off his shoes, and laid down.
There wasn’t a night that he didn’t have bad dreams. Because of this most nights he didn’t sleep at all. And when you were forced to curl up in a bed and pretend to sleep even though your body was already beyond its limits meant that he did, in fact, have to give into sleep. He tried, he really did, to keep his eyes open and everything functioning within his brain, but slowly it all shut down.
He only jerked awake a couple seconds later, rolling off the couch and stumbling in the direction of the windows, checking that they were closed. They were. And at that point he was already sleep muddled enough just to faceplant right back into the couch again. The dreams came anyway. Unpleasant ones.
“Are you hungry?” asked Myrnin, half hearing the answer before he’d even removed his head from the refrigerator. It would be a ‘No’ and then he’d tell the boy ‘okay’ and set the bottle in front of him anyway. Then there would be a verbal fight or some sort of stony silence. And sometimes Myrnin won and sometimes Sam won another day without Myrnin’s strong protests.
“Yes,” came the low answer.
“Okay,” said Myrnin, clearly so into the routine that he hadn’t heard. He set the bottle down on the island countertop and half moved away to get a bit of distance between himself and the hard stare.
Which he didn’t get, and the word Samuel had said registered in his brain. Myrnin took a step forward, tilting his head as he set a hand back on the container he’d set down. He was trying to get a good look at Sam’s face. “You alright?” he asked, almost gaping and reaching out a hand to feel Sam’s forehead. The last part was a joke, since Sam probably would never catch a cold or fever again. Sam didn’t appreciate the joke very much and pushed Myrnin’s hand away. “Get off!” he huffed. “I said I was hungry, okay! Don’t make a big deal about it.”
Myrnin shrugged, eyeing Sam one more time before he took his hand off the container and backed off. Hey, he wasn’t going to complain. Instead he turned away and took some things off the counter, moving them around or back to where they belonged. The small kitchen was more a breakroom for Claire than anything else and it looked like one. She bought donuts and coffee and set it around and a salad or some other form of food was shoved into the fridge between different chilled substances and things delivered from Morganville blood bank. Myrnin’s attempt to look busy was at least a successful one, since he found powdered sugar (what was probably powdered sugar, since it could have been some type of poison or battery acid or who knew what) by the container of donuts and he started scrubbing at it with a finger, apparently annoyed to find it there at all.
Sam was quiet, but Myrnin made very little point in ignoring him for very long, instead turning around and walking toward the cabinet that contained coffee mugs. It happened to be the top most cabinet and he, even though he was pretty tall, still had to stretch to reach them. Then Myrnin began filling his own cup with not completely coffee and unlike Sam, didn’t seem to be avoiding eye contact. Well, Myrnin was okay if the boy felt awkward. He was almost cheerful enough about it to start whistling, since this was the first time that Sam hadn’t been screaming or giving him the cold shoulder. He didn’t care how the boy went about taking care of himself. But either way, when Myrnin was done he did leave the room - and Sam - alone.
It wasn’t the biggest step. It was only once, but Myrnin felt a great tightness in his chest relax just a little. Were things going to be alright?
As he passed one of the counters out in the main part of the lab, he picked up one of the test tubes, watching the part liquid swirl around in it as he took a sip from the mug. If he thought it would go any other way then there would be no way to forgive himself. He needed to protect Sam in the best way possibly and that was only going to happen if there was some way to teach him the way to go. If Myrnin could be something Sam could at least not look on with hate. Myrnin knew that he was no father. No colorless, one dimensional copy of some authority figure. He couldn’t even pretend that. No, but that didn’t mean that he couldn’t have the boy’s interests at heart, that he couldn’t care about the well-being of others.
He set the test tub down again, sighing. But he knew that the boy was still thinking about the Daylight cure. Myrnin couldn’t blame him. He was hardly half a year into this. A half year was not enough time to forget what being human felt like. Myrnin had forgotten centuries ago. Should he take that Sam was eating as some fragment or sign that he might be willing to try?
He was suddenly glad that he’d set down the test tube, since he was now trying not to crack the glass of the coffee mug in his grip. He couldn’t take it as any sort of sigh, he really couldn’t. Somehow, he had to make sure that Sam was happy. That was all Myrnin was looking for. Alive and happy. The risk that any cure poised wasn’t worth that possibility.
Claire was off in a corner and Sam knew from experance that bugging her was not a good idea. So instead he moved away, tiptoeing in the direction of the stairs. It had been so many months since their very first meeting and Sam was good with staying out of her way when she was working. Plus, though there had been good times between them there were still those two times that hung over him, bringing him embarrassment. He grabbed his coat off the back of a chair in passing, intending to go walking outside for once. It was almost evening anyway and the sun would be going down.
“Hey, Sam, wait a second,” said a voice and Sam froze, looking back at Claire. She’d shuffled around, spinning a rob between her fingers. It was about the length of a pencil. When she saw she’d gotten his attention she tossed the rob in his direction. “For you.”
Sam looked down at what he’d easily caught, surprised. “Um … what is it.”
Claire mimed that she was still holding the rob and seemed to press something at the top. Sam looked at the top and was a bit surprised that a button did seem to be located there. When he pressed it, there were some faint noises and movement to the rod. It took a second for him to place it but … “Heartbeat?” His eyes knitted together.
“More like a radio,” said Claire. “But I noticed that you hadn’t figured out how to cause your heartbeat to work.” It was a bit more of a perceptive assumption than Sam was at first comfortable with. That she’d noticed the lack of it in his own body had made him uncomfortable. He knew that the radio, as he pressed the button again, was probably the main point to the whole thing, but he was just a bit touched that she’d wanted to give him anything at all, no matter what it was.
He smiled a bit lopsidedly at her and nodded his thanks before tucking the pencil length thing into his pocket and turning back for the direction of the door.
Sam had to wake himself up that night at Claire’s. For once, his heart was beating like mad, the fear clinging to his throat and making it hard to breath. Light showed from under the curtains but it was too early for the humans to be up or Michaele to still be awake, since as far as Sam had ever figured, vampires went to sleep before the sun.
Just to make sure that he didn’t drift back into the nightmare Sam rolled over, taking the remaining pillow and blanket with him, landing with a muffled thump on the floor, hands and knees hitting the rug. There was little else he could do but crouch there in the silence and semi-dark, since he neither wanted to wake anyone up nor did he want to cause himself to go back to sleep. In the end, he just dragged himself to a standing position.
He wandered off in the direction of the kitchen, footfalls making no noise against the wood floor. He’d been showed the room one time but had crept back to the living room he’d originally ended up in because he didn’t want to be in the way of the family affairs that were going on there. Instead, he’d sat on the couch like a lump and still hadn’t gotten around to regretting it. But now that the light was still hardly slipping into the room, and he’d dragged a blanket along to cover most of his skin, it seemed like the perfect place to go.
He wasn’t really hungry yet. He could last longer without anything than he’d been able to as a human. This didn’t mean he was suddenly able to go three days without anything like Myrnin seemed to be able to do on a whim. Or maybe, and Sam didn’t dwell on that thought for too long, he just had other sources than the fridge in the corner of the lab.
The Glass House kitchen was a bit larger than the one he was used to at home. When he walked in there was a pantry directly to his right and ahead of him was the sink, the dishwasher, and the rows of cabinets. There was a table as well, though it looked a bit oddly fitting in the corner and from the way that half of it was covered in varying items it was a bit clear that not every meal was centered around it and not everyone used it when it was. The windows (there was only two, one over the sink and one set into the back door that was set just before the table.) were covered in curtains, but here Sam could tell there had been a slight disagreement with the colors. They clashed.
The house itself seemed to be set up in that most of the downstairs seemed to have been claimed as Allison’s play area. Sam had to step over another toy that was located in the hallway before he’d gotten to the kitchen and he noticed a small line of rubber ducks along the sink that were in different colors. He thought these were probably hers too.
Sitting at the table he frowned down at the arrangement of papers that were scattered across most of the surface. It was all for what he could guess was something that Eve was working on. They probably hadn’t had a chance to put it away since Myrnin had so abruptly dropped him off. Sam really doubted that that it had been very helpful for the two families.
The work itself seemed to be reports and Sam looked down at them, running downcast eyes over the fancily written letters and notes. There wasn’t anything else for him to do and they hadn’t been moved.
As he looked over them, however, he wondered if Myrnin would have agreed that these be set in an area he could pick through. From the look of it, these weren’t something that had meant to be left out. Sam looked around, frowning at the ducks along the sink as if were looking at him.
Michaele had a child. Was she aware of vampires? Maybe. It wasn’t like you could keep the fact that your father was different from the other kids’ secret. Sam knew. He’d tried, and one of his parents hadn’t even been a vampire. Sometimes it was just so awkward to say ‘oh, my mom can’t pick me up’ when his father was at work and he’d broken one of his fingers while at school. For the two months that his brother had been his sole guardian he’d avoided questions altogether.
He pulled one of the pieces of paper toward himself. They weren’t really that gloomy in nature unless you could pick out the language. Or maybe it was just so usual around the house that Allison wouldn’t be surprised to see what were basically death certificates.
They were reports more than anything else. Most were directed to Eve, but Sam couldn’t see her being the one who looked at them. A couple of letters and packages in the corners also bore her name, or the ones he could see from where he was sitting did at least. So maybe everything was sent to the Glass House using her information.
Anyway, the papers. The papers were a creamy sort of paper, printed off what looked to be a typewriter in sharp letters. Part of the ‘k’ was chipped off at the corner so it looked like a Norse rune. Sam had many interests.
It was a clipped, professional sort on analyses. Part of it even seemed to be addressing someone, the reader, for help.
Sam read over this, and another, still trying to pick up what they were about. The names within them were both old and new and after three reports he’d ended up with a different sort of mail. The three on top of the scattered pile were about deaths. Not that he could pick out very much about how they had died, but each letter seemed a bit different in how they were formatted. One seemed sadder than the other, one seemed worried, another seemed completely professional. The remaining letters actually gave him answers.
What was ‘Daylight’? It was big ‘D’ daylight, too. There was only the one letter that Sam looked at, but it went something like this:
Dear E_v_e G_l_a_s_s,
This report is concerning Honors Toil. As of now it has been four months, three weeks, and two days since D_a_y_l_i_g_h_t. Any advice concerning what is to be done would greatly be advised and appreciated. You expressed interest in their rehabilitation as of three months and twenty-one days ago and this letter is sent to you under their express permission.
Toil, as you know, was a vampire for over three hundred years and after D_a_y_l_i_g_h_t was administered to Marcus Toil on the event of (and here there was a date that Sam glazed over, because it was a habit from History. Why would dates be important unless they were for a report?) Honors Toil has considered undertaking the same. This was done on the aforementioned date of the last letter and she has expressed interest in talking with you for any advice you might supply for her and her significant other.
And then there was a symbol that Sam couldn’t make heads or tails of and he even turned the letter around a bit to try and see if it made any more sense the other way around. No such luck. Below all that was a title that included Co-Founder. That was the only one that caught his eye. It was a bit less professional then what had been sent before, but Sam picked up the three previous letters, checking the last names.
Jerimiah Toil stood out. Sam frowned, about to relook at the others when someone coughed from behind him and Sam nearly fell off his seat.
“Eeh!” he said, twisting around to look at Michael. Awake, though it didn’t look like he had been for long. Sam eyed the window above the sink, thinking it must be around six or seven in the morning.
“Find something?” asked the vampire. He didn’t seem too annoyed that Sam had been picking through his mail. Walking over he took the two letters from his hands, studying them to see which Sam had picked up. “Ah,” he commented. “Honors.” And that was all he said about the person mentioned in the letters, looking at Sam instead, eyebrow raising.
“I don’t know them,” Sam said, just checking in case that was the conclusion Michael had jumped to when he’d seen Sam. The older vampire nodded his head anyway to say that he understood this. “Alright.”
He set both of the letters back on the table and took one of the seats that didn’t have some package on top of it. “Was that why Myrnin left you here?” he asked after a second, waving at the chair that Sam had stood up from. Sam took the chair back, a bit more hesitantly than before but took it nonetheless. “No?” he questioned. “Why would he do that?”
Michael shrugged. “If I could understand what went on in that guy’s head then I probably would have gone insane myself. Best I could guess that he isn’t sure what you’re going to do.” He tapped at the papers. “Do you know what these are?”
Sam shook his head but after a second he gave just a tiny nod. Maybe he did. It sounded a bit like a conversation that Myrnin had with Lady Grey. “I’m not completely sure,” he finally admitted.
“A question everyone probably asks,” said Michael. “Is if there’s a way to go back.” He opened his mouth a bit, fangs coming down to illustrate what he meant before he closed his mouth again. His head tilted, looking Sam over. He seemed tired, one hand still resting on the table and thumb stroking over the wood. “The answer is that there is, but it isn’t a very good wrought to go.”
He seemed to end it there and Sam wondered if that was all he was going to get. But maybe Michael guessed that if he wasn’t the one to tell Samuel than he would continue to look for answers. Maybe that was why he had started to answer Sam in the first place. Because he knew what the boy was like even without having known him for long. If Michael was the one to satisfy his curiosity (was it more than that? Was there hope in Sam’s eyes? Such a dangerous thing that Myrnin wouldn’t have wanted to see) then things would end there. Wouldn’t it?
“It doesn’t work,” he said, taking his hand off the table and putting both hands on his lap. Sam was about to open his mouth, to say … But Michael cut him off. “It doesn’t work often. Seventy-five percent of the time …” He reached out and jabbed a finger at the three letters that detailed deaths. “Then there’s a chance you just stay a vampire. Nothing happens at all. You do have a chance to become human again. I can’t deny that that can happened, but –” And here Sam tried to cut him off but Michael held up a hand, practically spelling out the words as he said, “BUT … but it still doesn’t work.” He leaned forward a bit, looking under Sam’s blanket and at his eyes. “You can’t go back. Your heart isn’t beating, Samuel. It’s been that way for I don’t know how long. You can’t get used to that feeling again. You can’t always remember to breath or remember that if you cut yourself that it won’t just heal up in a couple of seconds. It’s so very hard to go back and if you can’t,” and here he made sure to spell it out for the boy, because if there was fear there than maybe that light in his eyes would go away and Michael would stop worrying. “Then it isn’t always something you can live with. Accident or otherwise … a lot of Daylight Vampires die. Some don’t. But not a lot. And the ones that live aren’t always happy about it.” He sat back up again, crossing one leg over the other, now completely silent.
Sam looked at him, not sure what to say about all of that. His brain was spinning. From how Michaele had put it the boy wondered if he’d been one of the ones who couldn’t take it. It made sense for how much he knew. But Michaele didn’t seem very optimistic about it even though he was still glancing at that letter about the Toils every now and again as if he wanted to throw it across the room. This - whatever sort of cure it was - made him angry.
But Sam didn’t say anything either. And they were both like that for half an hour before Michael was forced to give into a yawn. He still eyed Sam as he stood up but reached out and ruffled his blond hair before exiting the room. Sam could almost hear the ‘don’t do anything stupid’ even though the words never passed his lips.
Daylight pulled in and Sam pulled the blanket over his head, still sitting there until he heard Claire come down the stairs and into the kitchen, walking in with a neutral expression. Not really any reaction there at all, so Sam wasn’t sure if Michael had told her what happened or not.
“I’m walking you back home,” she said, dipping her head a bit at the blanket. “Need to borrow that for the trip back.”
Sam shrugged under his make-shift hood and stood up, walking past Claire and toward the door.
Like the lab was home.
Lady Grey sat cross-legged in one of the seats in front of the counters. Another, male vampire stood behind the counter, hands braced against the top of it, though a couple of the fingers were jammed between the random items rearranged across the surface. Some looked like what you would find in a chemist’s shop and other bits what you might see in a factory. But mostly it just looked like classic mad scientist’s lab. Both pairs of eyes were looking up at the stairs and the boy that was sitting on the bottom set of them. Said boy felt pinned in their gaze. The male vampire looked nervous, of all things, and even though he gazed at the boy his eyes still looked to Lady Grey every now and again.
“This is Myrnin, Samuel,” said Lady Grey, waving a hand at Myrnin. Myrnin raised one hand off the counter and wiggled all his fingers at Sam in a sort of wave. What he expected as a reaction to that Sam didn’t know. He was sitting on the bottom step, arms around his legs and head resting on his knees and just being in the room was hard. He could pick up every single sound. And with each sound his head jerked a little. But he couldn’t see the sound he wanted to hear. Heartbeats. They were gone from this whole place.
They both seemed to be at a standstill. Sam had followed Lady Grey, but it wasn’t like that had given him any answers. He was here and there seemed to be no obvious solution to all his problems. “Do you want to come down here?” this was Lady Grey again.
Sam remained where he was, looking at Lady Grey, eyes slowly falling downward until he was looking at the floor. From there, he slowly scooted off the step and took the step onto the ground of the lab. There weren’t many chairs but Lady Grey slowly stood up from hers, walking around the side of the counter. It put space between her and Sam, not for her benefit but for his. She’d seen him freeze as soon as she’d started to stand up and she was careful to keep her voice low so as not to frighten him. It felt like she was edging around a wild animal.
And after a long minute Sam started moving again, taking the seat that Lady Grey had vacated. He seemed to sink into it, shrinking even worse than he had when he’d been sitting on the steps. Lady Grey looked at Myrnin, not sure what to do. Myrnin didn’t have any answers either, that was for sure.
Should she try and talk to him? She didn’t really know, because with how things were going she didn’t want to make him bolt. They were both good at waiting though, so Lady Grey leaned her head against Myrnin’s shoulder. Hours, literal hours passed. Waiting wasn’t something that was impossible for Lady Grey to do and the half-lidded way Myrnin was looking around at things said they he only remained still for her benefit, but that meant that he was almost asleep. He didn’t really stay still for anything else. No one else but her. In attempt to stave off the attempt to sleep standing up you could see the cogs in his brain moving around as he looked at all the different projects across his work benches.
It was only when Sam was the one who was asleep that Lady Grey allowed herself (and by extension, Myrnin) to move. She gave a low sigh, moving muscles that should have been stiff but weren’t. The boy’s head had dropped a bit to the side, onto his shoulder, and his eyes had closed. For once he didn’t look panicked. Lady Grey hoped that would last, but she knew that there were always a couple of bad dreams in a vampire’s head, no matter how new they were. And it didn’t seem that Sam had had a very smooth change from human to vampire.
She walked around, voice very low as she distanced herself from Samuel. Myrnin followed, even though he could have been back by the counter and still would have heard her. “What should we do?” she asked. Myrnin shrugged. This was just a verbal continuation of the silent one that they had before. “I don’t know,” he said. “Why did he follow you?”
“I don’t know,” said Lady Grey, looking back at the chair. “Maybe because I’m not that threatening. And he’s confused.” Both of those were probably true.
“Is he going to stay here?” was Myrnin question. He didn’t look back at the sleeping boy, but his eyes were knitted with worry. Even Lady Grey couldn’t figure out whether it was worry about Samuel or if it was worry about his own housing state.
“I don’t know,” said Lady Grey again. “Maybe he will. But I don’t think he knows any more than we do.”
They had both retreated to the library by now. A personal one that Myrnin had set up for himself that contained more non-fiction books than anything else. There were a couple of chairs around the inside of the room, most of them wooden. A couple were cushioned, at least, and Lady Grey took one of those and Myrnin took a wooden one. He leaned forward on the chair, paying attention to the female vampire even though she seemed to have already stated her confusion and uncertainty on the matter.
“Wait until tomorrow,” she said. “He might not even be here then.” Because he might run away…
But the boy still was there tomorrow, against the odds that Lady Grey had set up against him. This was completely obvious when he woke up screaming. Lady Grey’s eyes flickered open and she was on her feet before she could even think much about it. However, by the time she got out of the library she was surprised to see that Myrnin was already ahead of her. She stopped short, watching him as he walked over to the boy, shaking his shoulder. Samuel jerked forward, face ashen pail and eyes red. The confusion between reality and truth blurred and he lashed out with a hand, fingernails biting into Myrnin’s neck.
Myrnin didn’t even flinch, instead leaning forward instead continuing to grip Sam’s shoulder in as much comfort as he could. The scratches along his neck were bleeding a bit and now Samuel was gripping his arm hard enough to leave bruises or snap bones. Lady Grey didn’t seem a bit phased. Myrnin could take care of himself very well. There weren’t many chances to cut in either. “’S alright,” said Myrnin to Samuel, leaning forward and voice low. “Nothing is going to hurt you. No one is here that will hurt you.”
It wasn’t sure whether the low worlds were having an effect or if Sam was coming out of the dream, but slowly he blinked a couple of times, breathing out and saying in as calm a voice as possible, “I-I-I’m alright.” Myrnin nodded carefully. As Sam watched, the cuts on the older vampire’s neck healed over and Sam’s mouth became an ‘o’.
“…How?” he breathed.
Myrnin used his free hand to tap a couple of fingers on Sam’s hand to show that the grip the boy had on it hurt quite a bit. The bone had broken, Myrnin knew. He could feel it and his eyes flashed a deep red for just a second, teeth gritted. He wasn’t going to tell the boy that, however, and Sam flinched as he released Myrnin’s arm. “Sorry! Sorry!” he exclaimed, flinching once again.
“It’s fine,” said Myrnin. He wiggled the fingers a bit, proving that they still worked even though he still grimaced. “You asked ‘how’? I’m a vampire. Like you.”
It was the first time the facts had actually been put into words and Sam looked on, very clearly shell-shocked at the bluntness. Myrnin shrugged using his one functional shoulder. It wasn’t like he was going to lie to the boy. He couldn’t say that to him.
“There – there,” stuttered Samuel, collapsing back into the seat he’d just vacated. His face was a lot paler than it should have been, but at least now that it was something like midday he wasn’t so willing to bolt. He didn’t seem to be able to finish the sentence either, despite every attempt that he was making. There just weren’t any words to make it all complete.
There were patients in Myrnin voice, however, even though there was still pain in it, “There?”
Sam’s head fell into his hands and he looked down at his knees. A great pain was growing in his chest. Part of it was a furious hunger, but he could ignore that in favor of the feeling that he was going to cry. The world around him blurred, came into focus, and then faded again. The corners of his eyes stung and he could already feel tear drops falling. A cool hand fell on his back, the contact was unwelcome but given anyway. The hand rubbed over his back in small circles as he sat there while another, different hand remained on his shoulder. Even though it was meant to express comfort it just made it all much more heart aching. A heart that wasn’t aching at all because it was dead in his chest. The tears that were coming from his eyes dripped down his fingers, red as blood. It was blood. And he could smell each drop and his chest - his stomach - roared further. He was no getting out of it at all, his whole life shaking literally before his eyes.
There wasn’t anything to connect the ‘there’ either. Nothing but emotions and hurt. Myrnin couldn’t see the boy’s face very clearly, but he could tell that Samuel’s eyes were already a pinkish red. Panic and hunger wasn’t a good mix, but he didn’t think it was a good time to move from the place next to the boy. His arm had already healed though he could tell that he wasn’t in a position to take more injuries from anything, even by accident. His free and undamaged hand reached into a pocket, taking out a small packet of something. He could smell what was in it, even though he couldn’t see through the plastic. A couple of empty packets fell out as well, but he ignored them. He could tell that Samuel knew what he was holding as well. The older vampire didn’t smile, but he got what Samuel was feeling. To a lower degree he felt hungry now too, but this was Samuel’s first time. Well, no, not the first time. There would have been the one other, but he didn’t think that was a good example.
Sam’s fangs were down.
Myrnin took his hand off Sam’s shoulder, ripping the top of the packet off and holding it tantalizingly closer to Sam. Yeah, it was dirty pool, but he thought in the long run that it would be better than Samuel going all red eyed and fanged. Well, he was already that, but at least he was capable of making rational decisions. Rational enough that he almost seemed to gag before he grabbed at what Myrnin was offering. One of Myrnin’s eyes closed, but he shrugged at this show of both rejection and exception. He was pretty sure the gag reaction was how Sam really felt, but when you put a man’s least favorite drink in front of him after he’d been in the desert for a week without water … well, your body ruled you out.
There was no reaction from Lady Grey, of course, neither of disapproval or approval. She just continued to rub her hand along Samuel’s back or run a hand through his hair, trying to be as comforting as possible. He was still crying a little, hiccupping little sobs that was just about being overwhelmed. Hiccupping little sobs that were a bit muffled, but the boy didn’t seem to want attention to be drawn to the fact considering how he crouched over himself with the packet in his hand.
Well, this was just how it was all going to go. Myrnin remained where he was, perfectly fine and healthy when compared to Sam even though he had just gotten his arm broken by someone who didn’t understand his own strength. It would be alright, maybe, if they could keep him calm. Well, calm enough that he didn’t turn away and run. That was anything and everything that Myrnin could ever hope for.
There was silence after a long time, the sobs fading until there was nothing but quiet and the soft sound of a hand through hair or across a shirt. “What do I do?” breathed out Samuel. But neither had an answer for him. They hardly knew anything about him apart from the fact that he wasn’t in a good place within his own head. Myrnin’s hands were back by his side and with Lady Grey still beside Sam the male vampire moved away, heading for the partitioning wall between the lab and the kitchen. Lady Grey was, as far as Myrnin was concerned, the ideal one out of the two to offer comfort. He wasn’t always good at that. Sometimes he was, sometimes he could feel enough to hold another, but not this time. This time he was bluntly practical and he wasn’t sure how much he needed to remove himself to allow Lady Grey to calm the child down. And a child he was. The older vampire found his hand clenched into a fist. Who would dare change a child? No one who was at all practical. They didn’t make very good vampires. They were harder to hide. Myrnin could pose as many different ages with just a bit of makeup and maybe less sleep. But the boy would always look like a rather short twelve-year-old. And mentally vampires aged slower. A lot slower, though there wasn’t a common ratio. Myrnin wasn’t someone to be used as a yardstick for that, but Lady Grey, for example, wasn’t acting much older than her appeared age. So, unless someone insane wanted to take care of a boy who was basically on the edge of human puberty Myrnin could be pretty sure they were insane.
But he had no idea the circumstances behind why Sam had been changed and he didn’t intend to be the one to ask. Instead, he headed for the refrigerator to get something other than a packet of blood. Something of actual substance. Those weren’t really supposed to be used unless it was an emergency. So, it had been one, maybe just a little, but if he had access to something else he would take it.
Lady Grey was back in the main room and Myrnin could hear everything she said to Sam and Sam said to her, even though he couldn’t see either of them anymore.
“Do you have any family, Samuel?” the voice was as gentle as it could possibly be. Her eyes were meeting Sam’s, though it had taken a bit for her to catch them. He really didn’t seem to want to meet her grey eyes with his red ones. It wasn’t like she hadn’t seen them before, but the new ones were always so bashful. She didn’t suppose she minded that, but it made it a little hard to talk to him.
His head wobbled a bit on his neck, like it was very hard to keep it up instead of flopping around like it was on some disconnected wire. But he finally shook his head. “No,” he said.
A lie. He didn’t need to have a human heartbeat to show Lady Grey what was and was not true with this boy. He didn’t have a heart to skip a beat when he lied but he just wasn’t very good at lying to begin with. Lady Grey knew better than to press the issue. If the boy didn’t care for his family then there was a reason and that was fine.
“Alright,” she said again, trying not to ask ‘worried stranger’ questions even though that was exactly what she was. “Is there anything you want?” Her eyes fell to the empty packet Myrnin had given him. It was half a question on whether he needed any more blood, but it was very clear from the way his shoulders grew tense that he was not going after that option. “Want me to stay here?” she finally asked, meaning by the chair. It was midway through the day, most vampires slept at this time. Most vampires were not Myrnin, and when she was around, not Lady Grey. She knew that Myrnin didn’t have any sort of schedule at all. Sam was still on a human one but he was also very tired. Lady Grey wasn’t sure if he’d still attempt to fall asleep after that nightmare, but she doubted it because of the way he was trembling. So instead she just stood a little straighter but left her hand on Samuel’s shoulder. Days could be past like this and she could be as patient for him to talk as he needed her to be.
Day went and left the world. Her internal clock told her that much even though she was not able to get up and look outside. She had stuck to her resolve and remained in the general area of Sam, continuing to try and check up on him. Myrnin had called Claire and told her that he didn’t need her help for a couple of days, which wasn’t strictly true, but Sam didn’t want to eat and having a human around a new vampire wasn’t such a good idea.
Samuel nearly jumped out of his chair with each breath that one or the other of them breathed or when something made noise. And there always seemed to be noise. It was very hard to place herself back in those shoes. The shoes of a new vampire. The shoes of someone who’s world had just opened up into something that had previously been unknown. Now the world held every sound he had never heard before. Taste wasn’t something he’d probably had a chance to experance yet, but she wondered if he’d like it. Maybe not, because he wasn’t too pleased with anything right now. Sight was something she’d completely forgotten about, of course. The ability to see in the dark was the most noticeable. Like you were looking through a pair of sunglasses at the world around you. She wondered if Sam had noticed the fact that the lights in the underground lab hadn’t been on since he woken up. But the other parts were that the details of objects were so much sharper. You could register movement much more easily at everything almost seemed slow when compared to yourself. You could pick out the flashes of light and the passing movement and so much more. Really, there wasn’t a single part of the human body that didn’t die or change in some way. Taking stalk of all that was the hard part.
She shifted a bit in the reclining chair, patting at Myrnin’s shoulder to wake him up since he had slipped down the side of the chair (off the armrest where he’d been perched on it). His head had lulled and he wasn’t snoring, because vampires didn’t breathe while they slept, but his eyelids were fluttering in a disturbing way and Lady Grey didn’t want him slipping into a nightmare. Really, she was surprised he’d ended up asleep at all, since he usually tried to avoid it like the plague for that very reason.
He shook awake, perfectly silent, and looked up at her. He winked, seeming amused with himself and the bad dream he’d just avoided. Lady Grey smiled back at him before sitting properly again, looking over at the chair that Sam was still in. He looked like he’d fallen asleep again and Lady Grey slowly stood up, chair creaking, before she walked over and gently shook the boy to a muddled awareness. “Come on,” she said. “It’s hard to sleep like that.” And back to the reclining chair he was blearily led and he collapsed into it, curling his legs up to his chest in a mimic of the fetal position. Lady Grey hoped that was just his preferred position to sleep in, but she didn’t really think so.
Myrnin gracefully got to his feet without any sound. Vampires were just good at that. And then he came over and murmured into The Grey Lady’s ear, “We adopted a child?” There was no inflection in his voice. Neither rejection, tom-foolery, or acceptance. Lady Grey looked at him, a little twitch to her lips. It was oh so hard not to feel a bit helpless herself. She didn’t know what to do for Samuel, since she was still only someone who had just met him. Someone of circumstance that hadn’t asked for this. But then, neither had Sam and if she could only say the right word to make it all better than she would have. But no such words existed. Still, the boy was here and she knew that she would try to help and she even knew Myrnin would try as well. Myrnin was just that sort of person. The sort of person she could rely on.
What did you even say to the kid?
“Don’t go out in the sun,” Lady Grey cautioned, leaning against the wall that separated her from the kitchen.
Sam had at least been up for walking around the next day. And here Lady Grey was, watching him very slowly pick his way through the lab, looking around. At one counter he’d accidently stumbled over a cord that went along the floor, sending a couple glass vials that they’d been wrapped around across the room. He’d managed to catch them without breaking the glass and now he was gapping at what he was holding. He said in a small voice, “What else can I …?” But Lady Grey was cautioning first. “Wooden things stabbed through your chest can paralyze you. You can’t go forever without eating, so don’t try.” She wanted to make sure that he was careful. Very careful. He was shrinking a little, so she stopped there, instead trying to smile a bit. “Try jumping. Just watch your head.” She pointed up and Sam’s gaze followed the pointing finger. The ceiling of the lab wasn’t exactly far, but it was at least two and a half Grey Lady lengths up. Sam couldn’t jump very high at all but he gently set the glass containers down, bent his legs and sprang upward into the air. He cleared the distance upward easily and his out reached palms smacked into the ceiling and he had to push himself away. Jumping high, breaking someone’s bone because he’d gripped to hard, and catching things before they’d even properly fallen. It wasn’t normal, of course. Maybe just a little bit cool?
When he landed he let his legs give way underneath himself, breathing out slowly and trying to stay steady even though the ground was very close under him now.
What he could and could not do.
He couldn’t age. He would look like this forever or until he was killed. He could hold his breath, or rather just not breath at all, for as long as he wanted or until he needed to take in air to talk. As far as he knew there wasn’t a way he could restart his heart or the other dead parts he could feel within his body. His dreams were nightmares that he believed were real. Everything was tumbling around him and he couldn’t explain any of it. Couldn’t ignore it and pretend it wasn’t there. Instead, he was being told to slowly get used to it. Just like that.
There was no way out of this.
“Well,” said Myrnin, tilting up his Ben Franklin style spectacles (that Sam had already asked about. Apparently Myrnin’s sight was perfectly fine, but he just like wearing them) so that they rested on his head. “Well, some of us can also do some base mind-reading, to certain extents.” His free hand was used to poke a finger at his own chest in a bit of pompous pride. “I’m the best in Morganville with that.”
He was reading a newspaper, though the dates on it were from last year and the paper was even upside down. Samuel doubted that would make any difference, since this was Myrnin they were talking about.
“Erm,” he said to all of this. “Okay then.” Like, what was he supposed to say to all that? Was Myrnin reading his thoughts right now?
But the older vampire waved a hand dismissively, “Nah. I can’t what you’re thinking now. You think I honestly want to hear every chatter box brain that walks past me? And it isn’t really safe for me to go that far anyway. Sometimes I make exceptions.”
Well, despite the fact that he’d just made it look very much like he’d just read his mind, Sam could think of one other occasion where Myrnin had done something like that. When they’d shared dreams.
“Yup,” said Myrnin, looking back at his paper. “That was the only time. As you get older you get a bit stronger. No asking about my age either. I’m old enough to be your great something second uncle from a fourth marriage.” Like that had made any sense. But Sam was still getting the impression that Myrnin was reading his thoughts. By this point the newspaper was between him and the vampire so he couldn’t see his face.
Sam set the book he’d been looking at down. The library that Myrnin had was a good resource to relieve some boredom, but only when the owner wasn’t being a creepy mind reader.
“Would a tin-foil hat work against that?” asked Sam dryly, meaning the mind reading.
Myrnin lowered his paper, revealing a rather confused Ben Franklin in a brown wig. “Against what? Aging? That would be a feat.” Sam looked at him blankly for a very second then just shook his head. It was far easier just to leave the vampire to his weird ways.
“So, what you’re saying is that you have powers but can’t actually use them?” he finally asked, picking his book back up again.
“Correct,” Myrnin crooned. “My head is busy enough, thank you so much. You wouldn’t happen to be going anywhere with this, would you?” He lowered the paper further to get a better look at Samuel.
But Sam shook his head, saying, “Nah. I was just curious.”
“Well, that’s fine then,” said Myrnin, waving a hand lazily around. “Happens to me all the time. Curiosity that is.”
Curiosity like wanting to know if there was any possibility to make it back to being human. The Daylight cure never seemed like a good option, even though Sam had asked Michael about it. And that left nothing. His will to live had gotten him here and now it was keeping him right where he was. He wondered how many centuries to would take before he was the one in Myrnin’s place.
Still … that wasn’t really a downgrading thought anymore. Things were how they were. A bit boring sometimes, maybe, but that was how life always was, even when he’d been living with his father. Life moved on.
“Alright,” he said, closing the book about the Middle Ages that he’d been looking at. Someone had marked it up with a red pen. Very clearly with vicious glee. That in itself was a bit telling that Myrnin’s age stretched at least that far. “If you’re so old, why don’t you even know the current president?”
Myrnin lowered the paper. He really wasn’t having much luck reading it when it was upside down. “I’m a piece of history, Sam. I pay attention to the past tense. Gossip with Claire if you want to compare proof that I wouldn’t notice if a Zombie Apocalypse happened.” He frowned a bit down at his paper and added, “None has happened, right? There was all this stuff a couple years ago and you see … I never really checked to see if one happened.”
Samuel waved a hand at Magen, trying to get the young child’s attention. She was two by now. When he’d first seen her how old had she been? He’d just come here, Myrnin had left him with the Glass family and there had been the quick time that Claire had walked by with the baby in her arms and had introduced him. Well, sort of introduced him, since she was putting her down to bed at the time.
Since then he had seen her twice more. It was hard to count exactly anymore, like the passage of time wasn’t something to really be marked. Almost nine months since he’d been changed into a vampire. And life had moved on, against all odds, passing one day at a time with occurrences that were as normal as human life or sometimes just as abnormal because that was what life with Myrnin consisted of.
Magen was a cute child with hair like her mother and the same color eyes as her father. It was really endearing.
He could hear someone coming up from behind him, so he turned away from where Magen was laid out, seeing Allison in the doorway. She was smiling at him and waved a hand, much in the same way that Myrnin did. “Where did you pick that wave up?” asked Samuel, very amused. “Did Claire go out for a second? She was just here a second ago.” Allison nodded her head, then shrugged a bit, “Yeah, I think Aunty just walked down the hall.” She tilted back on her heels just to confirm before nodding. “She’s talking to Daddy.”
Sam completely turned around and walked over to Allison, tilting his head around the edge of the door to see the same thing that she had just said to him. Claire was indeed talking to Michaele in the doorway of his room.
“You come in here to get something to eat?” he asked Allison. They were in the kitchen. Allison nodded several times, walking past him and toward a cupboard. Sam wandered after her, looking upward at the cupboard she was looking at. “Need help getting anything?” he questioned. Allision shook her head, looking around before scooting one of the chairs closer. Then she got on top of it, bare feet going from the seat if it to the counter, where she opened one of the doors and got down a couple of plates, gently setting them on the counter before turning around and scrambling back the way she had come, closing the cabinet as she did.
Sam backed up to allow her enough space to get down and then he moved the chair back to the table for her, lifting it up so the legs didn’t squeak against the floor.
“Thank you!” said Allision, taking the plate and leaving the room.
She was going to be twelve soon, Sam thought, tilting his head as he thought both that and wondered about what she planned to use the stack of plates for. She was going to be twelve, the same age as him. Well, not the same age. He was thirteen and a half, if he started thinking of it as human plus vampire years. But it wouldn’t be outrageously long before she was older than him. How could Myrnin stand to watch everyone grow up around them. How old had Claire been when she’d first started working under him? Sixteen? And what was she now? Early thirties, maybe? He wasn’t the best at telling exact age, but that seemed close enough. How odd that must feel to have her be younger than him when he first met her but older than him now?
His eyes fell on Michael, still talking to Claire in the hallway. He was married to a human and his child was a human. It worked for him, somehow. It wasn’t all sad. That was the only way he could think about it, right? And Morganville was a town made for vampires. Maybe that was why it was here. There were others all around that would never age and hadn’t been for hundreds of years.
He walked down the hall, past Claire who nodded at him and waved at Michael to follow her back to the kitchen to check on her child and keep an eye on her.
What he was doing now other than visiting wasn’t much, really. He rolled up his trailing sleeve, waving his gloved hand at Claire and saying, “Bye!” before he opened the door and stepped out.
He closed the door, head tilting down so the sun above him wouldn’t be a problem. From there he began walking toward the nearest place that vampires used to get underground. Myrnin had showed the tunnels to him soon enough, though it had taken awhile. He was old and could travel around in the shadows cast by buildings without much trouble. So, telling the not even a year old vampire where he could get around without getting tingling sensations on his hands even when they were covered had taken a while. Apparently, it had slipped his mind that if Sam was knocked over he’d have to react pretty fast so as not to burst into flames.
When he was safely within the tunnels under Morganville he dropped the hood that had been keeping his face in shadow. It was dark down here, though he knew some parts were hooked up with lights, even if they were lights Edison might have used.
Concrete clicked under his shoes as he walked along, hands in his pockets. He’d have to come up before he reached the tunnels around Myrnin’s lab. Didn’t want to run into any traps or things.
It wasn’t very busy down here, since most of the time vampires just came out during the night. Sometimes Sam wondered if he’d get more interaction with … well … with his own species if he ever bothered to reverse his sleeping schedule. It didn’t really matter around Myrnin, who was awake at random all the time. But the only vampire he’d ever had an extended conversation with was Michael.
A low, one key whistle escaped his lips. He turned a corner at an intersection and climbed a set of stairs to get out of the tunnels again. Before he exited he put his hood back up and then continued on his way toward Myrnin’s. It would be nice to actually do something with himself. He’d think of something - or something before Myrnin did at least.
Walking into the lab he was greeted by the voice of Frank, who only said, “Get a phone. The cracker-jack vampire wants you.”
Sam blinked upward, before turning in the direction of the library. Since he didn’t at once see or hear the vampire it was the logical assumption that this was where he’d be.
“Yeah?” he asked, opening the door and sticking his head in.
The sound of two voices greeted him and it was only after a second that his eyes fell on Lady Grey in the corner of the room. She looked over and away from Myrnin, her expression changing as she saw him. “Samuel!” she said, looking pleased. Samuel too had to smile, pleased as well. “Lady Grey!” he greeted. He’d taken to using the same nickname that Myrnin did, falling into a familiar furrow of habit that he’d gained when he thought of her.
“I didn’t realize you were –” He started to say, but he was cut off as she appeared in front of him, hugging him. She didn’t appear as fast as she would have to a human. Blurring, he’d been told it was called. This was because his eyes could register her movement a lot easier than they otherwise would, but for him she was still moving a bit fast. His eyes widened in surprise but he didn’t flinch as he might have in the past. He was a bit hesitant, but he hugged her back.
“Frank’s right,” murmured Myrnin, shoulder against the bookcase as he leaned into it. “We do need to get you a phone.”
Lady Grey let him go after a second, keeping him at arm’s length. “You’ve grown,” she pointed out. Sam blinked at her, looked down. “Have not. I’m the same height as always.”
But Lady Grey shook her head, smiling. “That wasn’t the sort of growth that I meant.”
Sam blushed, pale skin growing a bit less pale as he registered her comment. “Thanks,” he mumbled. “Sometimes it doesn’t feel that way.”
Lady Grey ruffled his hair with one hand, though it wasn’t like it hadn’t already been ruffled before. “’Sometimes’ is still better than the last time I was here. I’m proud of you.”
It might have been a bit like having someone, a relative if not a parent, that you didn’t really see a lot because they worked far away. Sam was a bit awkward, but that still meant the words held weight. “Thank you.”
And unlike humans, he had a lot of time to get to feel less awkward around Lady Grey even if he only saw her the same amount as Myrnin did. That … that wasn’t so bad. He had a lot of time. That was the good part.
“Sleep, tonight, got it?” said Myrnin to Sam, eyes narrowed a bit so he got the point. Sam blanched a bit, but it wasn’t like he could put up much of a protest. He was having a hard time keeping his eyes open as it was. So, protest was futile. “You planning on sleeping at all?” he almost joked at Myrnin, sending the accusation right back. Sam wasn’t stupid. He was just taking a leaf out of Myrnin’s book and avoiding the nightmares. The older vampire frowned down at him, a finger nail clicking against a glass beaker as he looked over at where Sam was sitting. “Humph. We’ll see.”
Sam shrugged using one shoulder. “If that’s what I’m getting, I’ll just sleep in the chair. Maybe if I snore you’ll stop acting like me and take care of yourself.” He could joke but that didn’t mean he cared for the idea of sleeping. But he closed his eyes anyway and that was pretty much all that was needed thanks to how long he’d been awake. If Myrnin had ever answered than he never heard it.
His breath stopped, chest no longer rising or falling, though he wasn’t actively aware of that. In fact, as soon as he exited dreamless sleep and entered dreams, he couldn’t remember he was asleep at all.
He was the same height as always, but someone wearing a green sweater was walking beside him, much taller than he was. He didn’t look up, but he knew who this person was anyway. His hand was wrapped around there’s, though the sweater sleeve was between his hand and their skin.
It was hard to tell if there was a sky above him, but if he looked up he seemed to sense the beginnings of stars above. He breathed out slowly. A tightening in his chest had already started. Why was he here again? When was this? He shook his head, trying to work out what was going on.
His head was moving back and forth in the real world too. Myrnin stopped what he was doing, frowning at the boy. Slowly he lowered the vial of liquid he’d been holding, intending to just shake the boy awake. But the outstretched hand stopped. Because this was just going to continue to happen. He tilted his head, studying the boy’s face. He was probably going to get kicked out for this, but he could try to help…
It was with good intentions if slightly invasive (he’d never had a sense of personal space before, so there seemed little reason to start being aware of other people) that he reached out, pressing one thumb into Samuel’s temple. He squinted his eyes, trying to figure out what to change.
Sam wasn’t sure for a second what street he had turned into right up into the point he saw the door to Myrnin’s little shack. And recognized it. The boy gaped at it a bit, wondering how it had turned up in his nightmare. And it was a nightmare, though he wasn’t sure at what point he’d come to understand it. The person now holding his wrist instead of the other way around, had stopped with him. “What?” asked the familiar female voice.
And then the door to that shack opened and Myrnin pushed the door open. Sam squinted his eyes, watching as it seemed to be a bit painful for Myrnin to exit. Like the door was sticking or trying to close on him. “Ah,” he said, as he squeezed through and almost got his shoe caught. He eyed the woman. “Friend of yours, Sam?” It seemed like he already knew, but how … Oh. He’d done this once before and Sam at once knew that this was no dream Myrnin.
“What are you doing in my head?” he practically growled.
Myrnin pointed at the woman, as if this explained everything. Sam wasn’t able to look where the pointing finger was indicating. “That really how you see her face now?” he leaned a few inches closer, even though there was a good ten feet between where they were standing. Sam didn’t dare look up. Not that far. “You’re also,” Myrnin pointed out off-handedly, “Shrinking yourself. So yes, even if there hadn’t been the ‘but how … oh’ moment then I’d have probably figured everything out by now.” Now Sam was very sure Myrnin could read his mind, probably because he was in it. But Myrnin was distracting him from all that by talking about the woman and that just meant Samuel was focusing far more on her than he was on the other vampire.
I can’t take him. You take him. He’s supposed to be your son anyway. And there it was, Sam’s body almost trembling. Myrnin seemed to keep that completely blank expression. Watching. That was all.
“Why,” he said after a second. “Aren’t you fighting?”
Sam froze. Wait, what?
“Fighting,” Myrnin repeated. “You know. Doing something other than a deer in headlights impression.”
Sam felt like he wanted to smack the green-eyed man. What did he think he was saying?
“Very good! You grew about an inch there. Try again. I’m sure you’ve got more than that in you. You fought the first time, I assume. Not how I did, I didn’t even try. But you were never me. Fight now! It’s your head. Put up a challenge for it.” He nodded in the direction of the woman. The ‘It’.
“B-but I ca - ” started Sam. He didn’t feel himself shrink, but the way Myrnin raised his eyebrow it seemed like he had. It was like a hole of panic was already trying to open under him.
“That,” said Myrnin. “Is because it is.”
And Sam fell.
“Skipping a few steps here, are we?” asked Myrnin. He was falling to now, it seemed, though Sam’s senses were so completely out of whack that the words were in his head – or whispered in his ear in the waking world – more than anything else. “Might as well ride it out till the end if you aren’t going to stop it, Samuel. Must we go through this again?”
Anger again, rising up, boring him up, senses stabilizing. Cold that was setting into his fingers no longer trying to travel up his arms.
“But I ca-” And here Myrnin managed to cut in with words. “Of course, you can. You’re a bloody vampire. You can do whatever you want. To coin a friend’s word. You control your own head. Not me, not your mother, not anyone. If you don’t want this to happen: Make. It. Stop.”
The world froze, melting around Sam a second later to be replaced by the same road, only without Myrnin’s lab right around the corner. He was right back where he had started, but it wasn’t over. His hand was back in the woman’s grip. Now Sam did try to pull a bit, but he felt like his own strength was about as useless as a dishrag. Like before.
You’re a vampire. Were the words. But what if he didn’t want to be? He always dreamed himself human. Always.
And then he was being dragged, for all his attempts. And it was only then that he saw Myrnin again. He appeared directly in front of the woman, blinking into existence like he knew just what it looked like. Like he knew what it looked like to appear and disappear into view. His hand clasped into a fist, pulled back and … he punched Sam’s dream. In this case, the woman. And the dream shattered to pieces, kicking Myrnin out.
Back in the real-world Sam just rolled over and Myrnin’s hand moved back to his side. And there it was. Sam hadn’t properly faced anything, but maybe someday. When he could dream himself as he was now. Far stronger than he thought himself to be. The vampire backed up, massaging a hand that hurt, even though he hadn’t even hit anything physically. He dearly hoped he didn’t look like that when … well … Sam very clearly had demonized his mother by now. But still, Sam had some problems in his life. And here the vampire moved to one of the few chairs.
Would Sam ever get to meet his mother again?
Myrnin really didn’t have a doubt about this. They were tied together, just like he and his ‘master’ used to be. Like any vampire owed their existence to their creator. There was connection, they were aware when one lived or died and sometimes more. And they were all immortal. So Myrnin held not a doubt in his mind that there would be a time when Sam was face to face with the woman who haunted – and would probably still haunt – his sleeping world. There was just no breaking away from that.
However, he didn’t think it would be soon. The world was not some perfect storybook. It didn’t allow you to skip around within the chapters to see how the story ended or where the pieces connected. It never gave you all the answers; that was life. It didn’t wrap everything up in a neat little bow. Instead, it gave you only what you could handle, threw you at hurdles until you jumped or ran into them. Sam had always needed to conquer his own dreaming world if he ever hoped to fully move out of his mother’s shadow and into his own. He had a life to deal with, one he’d chosen and built around himself. No one was deserving of more. So, no, Myrnin saw no reason why the sweatered woman would appear within the year. Or the next hundred. Who knew what had happened to her or why she’d changed Samuel only to abandon him? Because this wasn’t a perfectly laid out mystery, with all the answers to be found if you looked. Maybe they’d never know it all. It wasn’t even the goal to learn it all.
Myrnin leaned against the back of his chair, half closing his eyes again. Sam moved so much faster than he did. Some of the human part of a vampire still allowing him to learn and improve at a logical, unslowed pace, maybe. Living in months and years, instead of hundreds. Maybe there would even be a day when Myrnin could control his own nightmares as easily as Samuel could his. Or, as gloomy as the thought was, maybe Sam just hadn’t seen enough to have them that badly. Steepling his hands in front of him, Myrnin made a bit of a silent promise. That he would make sure that Samuel was as protected as he needed to be. He would do whatever he needed to ensure that the boy had as few bad dreams as possible. For as long as he felt he could.
Two years and a figure pushes itself through a crowded street, squeezing through the crowded area. Hands in pockets, hood up, evening crawling onward. It was a beautifully glowing night, the figure had to think. Wouldn’t have traded it for the world.
There were no other travelers with this single entity. Everyone that squeezed around them – him – in this crowd were all headed in different directions. He finally pulled himself out of the crowd, down into an alley. He shook out his hands as soon as he entered the far less busy off-shoot, pale skin peeking out from around the edges of the black gloves. It was a bit cold, so it wasn’t exactly eyebrow raising for him to be wearing them. “Tight fit,” he murmured, meaning the jam of the crowd he had just left. He ran a hand through his oily hair, continuing to move along the alley and dancing around trashcans and other obstructions. It wasn’t the type of city he was used to. He’d only been in a few large ones. It wasn’t Morganville, that was for sure. He didn’t see that town growing much at all, or as long as Amelie was still living at least. You didn’t want more strain on the balance between vampires and humans. Either way, this wasn’t Morganville, but what did that matter?
He pulled his hood down again, just to make sure the fading light wouldn’t affect him, though that was why he’d stayed in the crowd (everyone was taller than him and cast such longer shadows) or within the alley. When he exited again, it was a few streets down from a park. He could smell the trees, hear the rustle of leaves even from here. He grinned a bit, because he had to. Now, that was something a bit unusual. Green. This wasn’t a desert, after all.
He jogged across the street, only using the crosswalk for the driver’s benefit and not his own. A lot more people seemed to jaywalk here than they did back in Morganville. It wasn’t like there were more crazy drivers there than there were here. They didn’t let Myrnin or Oliver drive for that very reason. Morganville was just more … fearful. Tense.
The moon rose above the peak of a tall glass building as Sam loped into the park. Much larger than anything in Morganville of course.
Grass was actually watered here too. He couldn’t remember what grass looked like when it was watered. To his eyes it looked almost radioactive green, compared to what he was used to. Stepping off the concrete he spun around a bit to look at the scattered trees and well-trod turf. This was nice. Walking backwards seemed to be the way to go and this was what he ended up doing, twisting around to look at any interesting night sound or any speck of light or flashing headlight. It was all very entertaining when your senses weren’t expecting this many distractions.
Vampires didn’t smell. No, no, not like they didn’t have the ability to use the sense, but he’d already realized he’d structured that sentence incorrectly. What he’d meant was that he could smell humans. And birds, and rabbits, and even most bugs. It was that in detail and freshly woven within his mind. Vampires had almost a lack of smell. An emptiness within the world that wasn’t expected or usual. Even to other vampires maybe it was just that simple to tell that they were unnatural, even to themselves. Unnatural, yes, but he supposed that he still … well, important, if he must be that self-centered. He had the right to live, he knew that. Fear of death wasn’t unnatural, it was very human. It was just the fact that for a time he and others had managed to cheat it.
He’d be three in another couple days. Three years of being a vampire and a little under fifteen years of li – existence. A very interesting experance undeath.
But back to the smell.
There were other vampires in this park. There was no denying that. And though there was that emptiness of smell, the lack of it, there was still a way to sense who the two vampires (oh yes, there were two) were. Maybe it had something to do with vampires having a bit of mental abilities. Maybe he could just sense the shape of the brain.
“Yeah, yeah,” he said, slouching in a mock imitation of a stereotypical teenager. “I’m here.”
Both of the figures turned. They’d been sitting in front of a duck pond, which he found a bit worrying in one case, since the man with a ponytail might just do something silly. The grey eyed woman probably wouldn’t let him, but that didn’t mean that was reason to relax.
“Wait, were you ever gone?” asked the ponytailed man. Yeah, he was joking and all three of them knew it. Yet there still seemed a reason for the ‘teenager’ to shrug. “Because you didn’t tell me to meet you back here. Look, if you left me I’d be walking cross country. Again. They don’t really like letting the minor on the plane. Hitchhiking isn’t safe. Safe for the train, probably, I think I’d be fine.” Not for him, he really wasn’t worried about himself. And that had been one of the things that Michaele had listed with the whole cure thing. You got comfortable with this life. With being protected from a lot of damage and the only think to protect against being pain and certain forms of things that could kill. “Yeah, yeah,” said the man with the ponytail, waving a hand around, nearly hitting it into a tree. “And I can’t exactly find a way back to get you. I know, I know. We’ve got to catch the flight out of here early tomorrow morning anyway. Don’t want to play that game.”
The grey eyed woman snorted but gripped the man’s hand (Sam saw him act a bit surprised at this, but it was hard to tell if it was just shock or if he was actually pleased) and made him walk out from behind the metal framed chair that sat facing the pond. “Of course,” and here she twisted her hand in a way that it was practically a signal for Myrnin to do a spin, like he was dancing. He had sort of started to do one or two dance steps around the chair and the woman obliged him for about two before she turned to the boy and shrugged just a tiny bit. “There’s still several hours before we need to go, so if there’s anything else you wanted to do, then I see no reason why you shouldn’t.”
And it wasn’t like he was going to say no. This wasn’t like he got out of Morganville very often, so he jumped at the chance to run around a bit more. They’d probably have to clear out of the park soon enough. This wasn’t Morganville. But for now, the teenager moved around like the night would never end. And there would be other nights. This wasn’t a once in a life-time trip, like for others it might be. He might just be able to visit everywhere, at least once. And that’s what interested him. The night would never end.
Grown and raised in Texas. Pretty much went to school in the town he was born it. Mother and father were in an unhappy relationship. Had two sons with five years between them, Sam being the youngest. One day his mother left (when Sam was about ten) and father was left to take care of both sons. This worked out fine. They weren't the most financially secure, but it worked. Until father was riding on the bus to his place of work and a truck blindsided the bus, which ran into a building. Father was killed, leaving older brother as Sam's legal guardian at 18. Brother couldn't do it, so tracked down the mother and unloaded Sam onto her.
Sam has never seen snow, enjoys video games, least favorite subject is reading (pfft, why do I RP this kid?) and if he had to pick a favorite food it would probably be pasta or ice cream.
Samuel had a group of three friends in school, the only things I really know about them was that one was a girl two years older than him, and the other two were boys (unrelated) that were about his age. Sam forgets to wash his hair, so they used to give him soap as a present as a running joke/heavy hint. He still isn't washing it very often, so guess it didn't work. He shares a name with another character from the same world, both in the complete form and in the nickname (Sam/Sammy). I found no way to work in this fact. It was a complete accident and it was only later that I realized this might be questioned.
That's human Sam's background, at least.
Point of note, Myrnin blinked back into his world with a broken spin (TPH bonus material):
Sam gave a swift double knock to the door of Myrnin's room, knuckles rapping against the wood. "Hey, Myrnin, you in there?" There wasn't really any response, so after a small frown the boy pushed open the door, sticking his head into the dark room. "Hello?"
A pillow missed his head by about a centimeter and a book soon followed suite. Sam had to close the door a bit more so he could still talk but wasn't in danger of being hit by a fluffy projectile. "Hey! What's that for?"
"Ssssss'not good day," was a slurred response from the man in the darkened room and there was the sound of another book hitting the door. "Z'o away."
Sam completely closed the door by now, eyebrows knitted together in annoyance.
"Big baby!" he shouted through the door. "Can't handle a bad dream?"
And other something else hit the door; this time it sounded like a paperweight. Sam flinched and stalked off. No use dealing with that man.
Back in his room Myrnin had the last pillow over his face. His whole body felt burned and battered and only being able to throw with one arm wasn't helping matters.
Sixteen minutes and counting ‘til he could start feeling his left foot. Darn, darn, darn. The House was worse than, worse than .... Oh, whatever.
He threw his last pillow at the wall in frustration, yelping in pain as his burned hand touched the cloth again.