Fic: Right of Claim 2: Chapter 6
Chapter 6 – Surprises (In The Long Run)
“Just remember everything I lost
Surely you’ll remember everything it cost”
- 3 Doors Down – Feet In The Water
The rest of the night seemed to drag past, as the windows slowly darkened while the sun rose outside and Rupert’s hand worsened from that dull throb of before to something that he could feel right up his arm with every heartbeat.
He supposed that he must have drifted, because at one stage when he opened his eyes it was to find the blanket on the ground and the sheet in a tangled mess and yet pulled up over them.
The next time he stirred the windows were lightning to reveal the last traces of sunset across the sky. Still, he lay under the sheet keeping his eyes closed and keeping his breathing steady. His leg still stung slightly, in spite of the healing blood as well. He guessed that it must have taken less of the Ravven’s venom than his hand. Ethan had said some time earlier that day that it was something which would pass in a few days, as the last lingering traces of the Ravven’s venom cleared from his system.
Ethan rose as soon as the sun set and left without a word to him, even though it knew he was awake, so it could hunt without its human anchor slowing it down.
Its feeding was still something that he felt uncomfortable around, something that he avoided as much as he possibly could. Such a thing just reminded him (like he could ever forget) of what was going to be his eventually.
He knew that he should get up and ready for another long night, but he couldn’t really be buggered. Just laying here had something about it that was appealing. With only the sound of his breathing and the occasional car going past outside as company he tried not to think about anything, especially not his life and the mess that it had become.
He had remembered some time towards the middle of the day that he had been meant to meet Deidre again, too, but he’d been feeling too out of it to trust his own footing, yet another side-effect of that lovely poison.
If Ethan had offered its wrist, then he knew that its blood would have cleared his head and acted as a painkiller as well, but it hadn’t. Even if it had offered he wasn’t sure whether he would have talked himself into or out of drinking. He liked to think that he would have said no, but he doubted it.
It hadn’t given him the dressing down that he’d expected either, beyond what it had said to him last night. He supposed that it had left him with some pain to make its point clear.
Closing his eyes, he stretched, arching his back off the bed and winced as he curled his hand into a fist. Still without opening his eyes, he rolled oven onto his side with a groan and tucked the hand that didn’t hurt under his head as he started thinking again.
Would he be better off if he told Deirdre exactly what he wanted, or would she kill him in order to kill the beast that had turned her ancestor? She didn’t seem to have many scruples. She couldn’t have survived as long as she had, if she had let herself fall pray to the idea of morality, and he wanted a way out of this that would leave him both alive and sane afterwards.
He also knew that if he found what he wanted then he wouldn’t have a choice but to slay Ethan before it killed him. He wanted to it dead. Preferably by his own hand, but if someone else were better placed to do it, then he would live with that.
That was what he kept on telling himself.
Downstairs he heard the door open and close, followed by the sound of footsteps on the stairs. If it didn’t want to be heard then he wouldn’t have heard a thing, so it was obviously giving him some notice before it came in.
Stubbornly, he still refused to move or even open his eyes.
“You do realise that you weren’t fooling me the first time, either?” Ethan’s voice sounded amused, as it spoke to him from the doorway.
“I wasn’t trying to fool you.” Still, he burrowed even further into the pillow if such a thing was possible. “What gives me away, anyway?”
“Your heart speeds up. Then there are more obvious signs, of course.”
“You didn’t make me get up.”
“No, I didn’t. So how’s the hand tonight?”
Finally he rolled over towards the side of the room that it was on and opened his eyes.
Its expression was passive, the dark brown eyes glinting with that almost perpetual amusement, in a face that was flushed with colour The black trousers that it was wearing blended into the shadow, and the fitted dark brown leather jacket that it was wearing was open to reveal a white button-up shirt underneath.
He could see white clouds of steam as he breathed, but the temperature never seemed to make the slightest bit of difference to it.
“How the hell do you think the hand is?” he growled, although he was unable to muster any true malice.
“That depends on if that reply is anything to go by. I’d like you to get up now.”
Those words were delivered in the same mild tone that the rest of it had been held in, but he still knew an order when he heard one.
With a pointed glare he threw back the sheet to join the blanket which he’d tossed off several hours ago, and pushed himself to his feet, being careful to keep the still throbbing hand from coming into contact with the mattress. He knew that Ethan would notice that, but it didn’t comment, which gave credence to his theory that the pain was another part of its lesson, and not even a particularly harsh one, for all of that. It was painful, to be sure, but tolerable.
He ignored the way that it looked him up and down as he crossed the room to the dresser and wrestled the bottom drawer open single-handed, to grab out pants and jeans. The pair that he’d worn yesterday was in a hell of a state.
Keeping his hand fisted he tugged a shirt on over his head and stepped into the pants, pulling them up. It was only after he’d pulled the jeans up as well that he realised he would need both hands to do them up with. Gritting his teeth he uncurled the fist and got the job done as quickly as he could.
“Good lad,” it still sounded as though it was laughing at him, but he tried not to react to that.
“So, is that the torture for the night over and done with, then?”
It ignored the sarcastic tone in his voice, as it dug out an envelope that had been opened already and handed it over to him. Grasping the envelope in his bad hand he tugged out the letter in it with his good hand and unfolded it.
The handwriting was his fathers. It was request and a direct invitation to come by a place that was on the edge of town. The address was specified and the message was limited to only the words that were necessary.
He knew why. An invitation had to be personal, and the only way that a written invitation could be personal enough to break through sanctuary magic was if blood was mixed in with the ink it was written in.
“Go on, you’ve got tonight off.”
He didn’t reply as he folded the letter back up and tucked it into the envelope again, making a mental note to burn it as he stuffed it into his pocket. There were far too many dark spells that could be cast with blood.
The last time he’d seen him had been two years ago, or was it three? He wasn’t entirely sure now. Heading out of the bedroom he made his way downstairs stopping only to grab his jacket and the flick-knife.
He didn’t say anything as he left the place, closing the door behind him.
It was only a fifteen minute drive out to the old factory, when with the weapons it would have taken a hell of a lot longer to walk the distance. The fight had taken only about twenty minutes as well, from the first invasion to the last dusting, although it had certainly felt like it had taken a lot longer than that. Then again life threatening situations always did feel like that.
Rupert had also insisted on checking the three teenagers over properly for any injuries that may have been missed due to the rush of adrenalin, although they had insisted that they were fine. It wouldn’t have done anyone any good to get to the old factory and discover that things were, in matter of fact, a lot worse than they looked.
They had been lucky though; the worst that they had were the kick to the back that he’d taken, which twinged occasionally but wasn’t much more than distracting, Willow’s shoulder, and what looked like it would become one hell of a deep bruise on Buffy’s upper arm where a fist had broken through her guard.
If every fight could have ended like that, then life would have been easy.
Everything was on schedule. A block away from the factory, he pulled over. There was no-one out here, although it wasn’t all that late, or even that far outside of the town limit.
The factory stood in the distance, and Rupert could understand why anyone in their right mind would avoid it; rather then the forlorn, neglected appearance of most abandoned buildings this one almost seemed to hunch down, hiding in the shadows, waiting for a chance to swallow them whole. The few window that were left intact glinted dully at him in what little light there was, and he could almost imagine that the building itself were watching them, working out what to do.
He made a mental note to find out this place’s history. What if it was poised above the Hellmouth itself?
Buffy shivered beside him, as she grabbed the bag of weapons out of the boot, “Okay, ideal horror movie location.”
“Apart from the fact that cameras or anything electrical, really, doesn’t actually work around it or in it,” Willow said.
“And apart from the fact that a lot of people who walk through those doors, or go in through those windows are never seen again,” Xander added.
Rupert unzipped his bag and took out his war-hammer, then stood aside so that the others could get out their weapons. “Yes, well let’s endeavour not to join their number, shall we?” his breath rose in a frosty white cloud and he wondered whether the lack of Californian heat here was due to the ritual being worked tonight, or whether it was a part of the intrinsic charm of this place.
As Willow grabbed the knife out, Rupert stopped her with a hand on her arm, “Remind me to work with you on your technique later too, if you’re going to keep using that in the future.”
“Technique?” she asked.
“Yes. It doesn’t hurt to understand everything that you can do with a weapon, and there is certainly more that you can do with that then swipe. Just because a vampire can’t pick it up if you loose it, doesn’t meant that it can’t still be turned against you.”
“Okay, sure,” Willow nodded, and Xander tossed the bag which now only held the sword sheath back into the depths of the boot.
“Right, so we’re still clear on what we’re doing?” he looked from Buffy to Willow, and then his gaze settled on Xander. Non-direct exposure to magic had already proved that it wouldn’t do anything, but it was still a risk that he found himself reluctant to take in case something changed. He wanted to use his own power to shield the boy completely from unfriendly spells, but he knew that he couldn’t.
He didn’t dare risk interfering with Xander magically, for good or ill. While indirect magic might have no effect he knew for a fact that a spell focused directly on him would be more than enough to tip the balance.
“Yep, we know,” Xander gave him an uneasy grin, “just like at the rehearsal dinner. Willow stays near me, I shoot over her shoulder and try to avoid friendly fire, and you and Buffy tackle the main spell.”
Then Xander closed the boot without thinking, and the sound was loud enough to make him wince.
“Yes, and let’s just hope that…”
He trailed off, as a low, deadly growl sounded from several feet ahead of them, and he caught a glimpse of wiry black and silver fur. He heard the sound of paws on the ground as the Wolfhound darted from the shadows and circled around behind them, passed in front again quicker than Xander could line up a shot. It then approached from the back left with a flurry of barks and snapping teeth, which drove him forward several paces, then moved again just as Xander got it into his sights. This time it did the same thing from the right, driving Buffy forward a few steps.
It didn’t take much to work out that the bloody thing was herding them.
Snarling it stalked forward a few steps, stiff-legged and with its ears laid flat. There was enough light for him to see that combination of intelligence and hellhound hunger in its bright orange eyes.
Again, Xander turned, following it, and raised the crossbow, and it darted out of his sights. If a bolt were to hit it then it would need far more than the little-practised hand of a teenaged boy aiming it. He could see that Xander didn’t have the speed that he needed, or the confidence or practise to shoot without sighting.
After its next lunging rush and dart, Rupert held the war-hammer out towards Xander, “Take it and give me that.”
Xander did what he said without hesitation.
As the beast went to come around in front of them again Rupert snapped off a quick shot towards where it should have been, which buried into the ground as it doubled back at the last second. He took notice of that, like he’d been taught to, rather than cursing his luck as he once would have. The next time it tried it he snapped off the shot a few seconds earlier, reloaded as quickly as he could and sent the second bolt towards the spot where it doubled back to.
While it didn’t burry into the beast, he was still rewarded with a yelp as the bolt tore along its side, and the wolfhound drew back a few steps, and then looked at him. Had it been more than just an animal he would have said it had murder in its eyes.
After it drew away again it paused in the shadows and licked once at its side. Rupert took the opportunity that he knew he wouldn’t get again, and fired towards it once more. He still didn’t score a lethal hit, but this time the bolt went through its right foreleg.
The beast redoubled its attack, and the front doors were thrown open at the exact same moment as it lunged for Buffy.
“Watch yourself; Buffy,” he snapped, “One bite is all that it will take to kill you, or turn you into a werewolf if you survive the initial poison.”
No need to say that if it did get its teeth into her then that would probably be followed by having her throat slit by vampires, anyway.
She fended it off, and it sunk down onto its haunches for another lunge, while four vampires wearing war-paint of blood, and runes that looked as though they had been etched with holy water left the security of the dark building. The only light was cast by the candles surrounding the Master’s bones. One vampire remained in there, standing over the bones, as unholy priest and leader, wearing its game face.
This time when the wolfhound lunged Buffy brought the sword down into a solid blow and for once its yelp held a true note of pain as she laid its shoulder open to the bone.
“So do you think they know we’re here?” Xander asked jokingly from behind him.
As the Wolfhound retreated a few limping steps the vampire that hadn’t left the building threw its arms open wide.
“Why resist us? The two of you who are needed will have the honour of serving our master with your lives, and the other two of you will be given the reward of an early death. You won’t have to watch as we put your sorry species back into its place, to be the cattle that you are. Instead, one of us will watch from behind your eyes as true order regains the world.”
“I’ve an even better idea,” Rupert let a hint of Ripper, cold and sure, through into his tone, feeling as supremely confident as he ever did when looking down the barrel of a fight. That was the difference between planning and waiting, between anticipation and seeing the final challenge ahead of him.
“Really?” the vampire sounded curious and dismissive.
“Yes, really,” he grinned, “how about you tossers run before you scatter?”
It tilted its head slightly to one side, as though actually considering it, before it spoke in a drawl.
Rupert spun and loosened a bolt in the direction of the closest vampire, and it tore through its throat and ripped out a chunk of its spine effectively decapitating it, in demonstration.
“Or you could tell us who you’re working for. You wouldn’t be resurrecting the Master of your own free will, not when the common vampire is as power-hungry as it is.”
“We work for a power that is stronger than you could ever hope to comprehend.”
“So that anointed pest is still around then,” he nodded, “thanks for that.” Rupert passed the crossbow back to Xander and took his war-hammer back as the three remaining vampires closed ranks.
“Keep an eye on that bloody devil-dog, Xander. Buffy, go.”
“No ‘buts’. Go.”
He allowed himself a moment that wouldn’t be the end of him, to watch as she went from standing to a full run, and the vampire priest braced itself, stance sold and low and fingers spread into wicked-looking hooked claws. She leaped cleanly over its head.
Rupert turned back towards the three vampires that were flanking them.
The Wolfhound leaped straight for Xander from out of the shadows, at the exact moment as two of the vampires came at them, and the third began a wild dash to join its master, which had spun to grab Buffy and pull her back away from the bones.
At that moment the Wolfhound’s wound didn’t seem as bad as it had before. Xander raised the crossbow and pulled the trigger out of reflex rather than planning, and by luck the bolt lodged into the flesh where one of its forelegs joined its body. It landed awkwardly since it was unable to lower its leg.
Rupert turned his attention from it, to what was the more immediate threat right then; the vampire that was almost on him. But he knew how to handle vampires, had learned a lot from going hand to hand with Ethan, even though it had never been seeking to actually kill him.
He let his body go lax, as its weight crashed into him and threw him back onto the ground, knocking the wind from him. It was better to just go with it, rather than keep tensed. It went for his neck, and in that moment when it was focused on nothing else, he rolled sideways, pushing it over onto its back and used the handle of his hammer as a stake once again.
He glanced back toward Willow and Xander, to see Willow keeping the other vampire back, as Xander loaded the crossbow again. The next bolt that he fired at the Wolfhound was well-aimed, and it sunk into its head just below an ear.
Rupert found his footing again, in spite of the fact that he was really beginning to feel every muscle that he had, and slammed the stake-like handle through the other vampire’s back as it was tried to bite Willow. It didn’t even have the time to glance back over its shoulder, before it dusted.
In that brief moment Buffy had already decapitated one of her vampires, but the last one, their leader, was proving exactly why it was the leader.
It truly was a cut above the others, in terms of its skill. It had clearly survived and even thrived throughout the infighting that inevitably took place when a new vampire was sired. It wasn’t unheard of for an older vampire to drain a new-born totally, simply because it could.
He watched as it ducked under a swing and avoided a fist then took a kick to its side. It hit the ground rolling, and was back up before Buffy had time to either line up the sword while it was down, or pull a stake to do the job. She tried to circle past it, to get closer to the bones again and it moved with her.
In that he saw his opportunity. He began to edge a little closer and made a run for the bench where the bones were stretched out while it was engaged in another round with Buffy, and about three seconds before he got there it was in front of him. It tripped him with a single sweeping leg, and then grabbed him by the shoulders and threw him backwards, as hard as it could.
Before his head met with far wall he took some satisfaction, from the startled expression on its face as Buffy made the most of the opportunity, to decapitate it cleanly.
He collided with the wall with full force, like he was no more than a dishcloth, and the world instantly went grey at the edges of his vision. He tried to use something else that Ethan had taught him. Focusing on the pain and his breathing he clung to consciousness even as he closed his eyes.
The world swum, and he felt like he had been kicked in the head, but he managed to stay with it.
When he felt hands grasping his shoulder and heard a voice asking desperately if someone else knew whether he was going to be okay he even managed to open his eyes and groan pointedly, in spite of the fact that the world seemed painfully bright and the vibration from talking sound made him feel sick. Buffy was peering at him intently.
“I dare say I’ll survive. Hurts like a bloody bitch, though. The bones?”
“Like a great big jigsaw puzzle with pieces missing.”
Willow nodded, “You were pretty out of it there, for a few minutes.”
He closed his eyes again, and focused on his breathing again, until he heard Buffy’s concerned-sounding voice.
“Do you think he needs an ambulance?”
At that he opened his eyes again, mentally braced himself, and reached upwards with a hand that seemed to be stuck on slow motion.
“I’ll be fine. Give me a hand, please?”
“Are you sure you should be sitting up quite this soon? I really wouldn’t want your brain to come dribbling out of you ears, and that was one serious knock that you took,” even as he spoke Xander grasped his hand around the wrist and with some effort he managed to sit up.
“I assure you I’ll give you enough warning to avoid brain fragments,” he muttered dryly, and the earth swayed under him again. He couldn’t call this feeling sea-sick, but it had all the same inherent qualities.
“Now, did any of you know how to drive? I’m afraid controlling a vehicle is a little beyond me at the moment.”
Buffy shook her head, “Mom tried to show me earlier on this year. She got out with a white face and swore never again.”
Xander cleared his throat, “I learned three years ago. Pretty much an essential survival skill in my life.”
He made a mental note to question that later, and then wondered whether he would remember to remember. Right now he would settle for being grateful.
“Bring the car down here, please? I’m not sure that I want to try walking quite that far.”
“Sure,” he held out his hand, and Rupert stared at it.
After a few moments had dragged out Xander cleared his throat, “You know the keys might help.”
Tilting his head to one side, and that was a bad idea, he dug into his pocket and eventually produced them. Then, blinking to focus his eyes, he pressed them into Xander’s hand.
“I didn’t know he could drive,” Buffy said.
“I did,” Willow shifted slightly.
Buffy watched after him and then turned back to Rupert, “So, last chance for hospitally goodness?”
“I’ll pass,” he closed his eyes again, and rested his back against the wall, keeping his head forward.
“Just as long as you don’t pass out,” Buffy tried to lighten things a little.
It seemed like an incredibly long time before Xander brought the car around, but it couldn’t have been all that long. At his instruction Willow loaded the weapons back into the boot and then looked at him.
“So, how is this going to work? Do we drop you and the car off and then walk or what?”
“I’ve an idea,” spoke a cool voice, from the shadows. He opened his eyes fully, and sat back wincing as his head touched metal and sent another jolt of pain down through him.
He watched as Ethan came fully out into the light, its eyes flashing over both Willow and Xander as it sniffed slightly at the air and its lips tugged up into that familiar half-smile, which was almost a smirk, before it turned its attention fully to him.
“How is that your head of yours?” it almost sounded as though it were mocking him.
He leaned forward, placing both hands on the ground with plans of standing and saying something along the lines of just bloody fine, but when he went to push himself up the earth tilted alarmingly and it was all that he could do not to nosedive towards the ground.
Instead he had to settle for sitting back again, and glaring, “Never better.”
It almost seemed to be counting off the seconds, before he spoke again, “I thought I told you that I didn’t want…”
“I thought,” it interrupted, “you’d have worked out that I’d still be watching. What’s more is when have I ever done what you said?”
“Don’t care. I said…”
“Oh, relax.” Ethan cut him off again, “I won’t corrupt your children Rupert.”
“Yes, yes, I know,” it smirked, “one finger on them and you’ll chop me into little tiny bits if you can. I think not, but whatever it takes to comfort you.”
Xander looked amused at the exchange, while Willow was watching Ethan warily. He supposed that they didn’t have to be geniuses to work out who this was. Ethan bent down and picked him up with ease then settled him into the front seat, tilted the chair back and buckled him in.
Its gaze flicked over to Xander, who was still in the front seat.
“Go on, I want all three of you in the back. Then it’s your place I would assume, Miss Summers, since there isn’t anyone else there at the moment?”
“How the hell do you know that?” Even half out of it, he could tell by her tone of voice that Buffy still felt slightly threatened by this, even after the events of last term. It was something that he was glad to hear, since it showed that she still tread cautiously around power.
“Just because you don’t see me, doesn’t mean I’m not around,” it said conversationally, as it waited while Xander left the driver’s seat and the three teens got into the back.
“And yet it’s never when you’re actually wanted, only after no-one needs you.”
By now he was alert enough to see the first sparks of anger in Ethan’s gaze.
He could imagine its reply without needing to hear it. Something along the lines of maybe it should have stood aside and let the Master do what it had wanted to.
“Yes, her place,” Rupert interrupted before anything could get started.
Ethan nodded and Rupert closed his eyes as it reversed the car and turned. The next time that he opened them it was when they stopped at Buffy’s. He watched as Willow and Xander slid out of the car, before she leaned forward.
“You sure you’ll be alright?”
“He’ll be fine,” Ethan answered for him, but she still seemed reluctant to leave.
“Look, at least give me a ring in the morning. Let me know you survived the night, or whatever.”
“Yes, Buffy. I will.”
Even though she was beginning to sound a little like a scratched record the fact that she was obviously genuinely concerned for him made him feel warm somewhere deep inside. Reaching up he grasped lightly around her wrist.
“I have received worse scrapes, you know.”
“Yeah, I know,” she squeezed back lightly.
“Try and have a good night. Make the most of being home alone, yes?”
“Will do, Giles.”
She let go and slipped out of the car, closing the door behind her. Ethan stayed parked until all three of them had going into the house, then started up the car again and drove along a few blocks, and pulled into an empty open car-park.
“So, how are you really?” it undid the seatbelt and twisted to him.
“I’ve been worse. I’ve been better, too, but I don’t think I’m going to be sick this time, which is something, at least.”
“You’re not bleeding.”
“Close thing though, I dare say,” he tried to keep his voice neutral. He didn’t feel up to an argument tonight, although he could feel he fight looming above them, much like the factory had seemed to be waiting for its ideal victim.
“Yes, very close.”
For a good few minutes there was only the ticking of the cooling car for company. He tried to find the words and a way to say them that was safe, because the last thing that he needed was another headache.
“Go ahead, you may as well stop biting your tongue and say it,” the way that its voice broke the silence almost made him jump.
“Very well, then. I know for a fact that I told you that I didn’t want you anywhere near them, unless it were a life or death situation, and even then only if one of them was dangling off a bloody cliff-face only hanging on by one finger.”
“Yes, well. Not many cliff-faces in Sunnydale are there?”
“That’s precisely the bloody point.”
“So you expected me to get to know your children how, exactly?”
“You shouldn’t care about getting to know them. Again, my point speaks for itself. They are not a part of your life, they are a part of mine, and I fail to see why the two should have any fucking cause for overlap.”
“Yet if they are going to be a part of your life for as long as you live, then it is inevitable. So isn’t it that much better for you if they get to know me under,” it pause delicately, “safe circumstances?”
“Tell me what the hell something as callous as you would call safe circumstances?”
“Well, I’m not going to rip their throats out, Rupert. Shouldn’t that be safe enough?”
He wished he could sound a lot less childish. But it wasn’t really childish to want to protect Buffy, Willow and Xander, and keep them at arms length from Ethan, was it? He’d seen proof of it over and over again, that the ancient didn’t see the world in the same hues as he did. And even while his sight was inevitably growing darkened, he was still sworn to protect his Slayer.
He hadn’t sworn it to the Council, only to himself, but that didn’t make the vow any less real.
Protecting her also included keeping creatures like Ethan away from her. Didn’t it?
Damn it, but his head hurt, and the only thing that he really wanted right now was to be at home, curled up and sleeping.
“No? Can you give me a definitive reason?” it prodded at him.
“The fact that I don’t want you near them should be enough.”
“Did you honestly expect it to be?”
Defeated, he slumped further into his seat, pulling a face as his head touched the back of his seat.
“No. But I still promise you that of you harm them in any way, then I don’t care that it will be the end of me, I will slaughter you.”
“You can always try,” it gave him that wide grin which made him want to hit it.
“Can we please get back to the house now? I think I’ve done enough talking for one night.”
“Yes, I dare say you have.”
The only good thing about living with the vampire was that it wouldn’t have to prod him awake to check on him every hour or so. It would be able to tell if he was anywhere near being in a coma simply by listening for changes in his blood-pressure or breathing.
He let himself relax as it started the car again, and pulled back onto the road. The streetlights were harsh through the windows, and his head was beginning to clear a little. Of course the only thing that the passing of some of the haziness really meant was that the pain was growing a lot sharper. In spite of its words he raised a hand to the back of his head, and felt over it gingerly, wincing at the size of the lump that he found there.
“How close did you actually get to unconsciousness?” Its voice startled him again. Okay, so maybe his head wasn’t clearing as much as he would have liked.
“As you say, close enough. My head met the wall and everything went grey.”
He began to giggle, with no idea of why.
“I’m afraid it wasn’t a favourable meeting. It’s possible that I left a dent.”
“Rupert,” it pulled to a stop in front of the house, “what am I going to do with you?”
He tried to ignore both the words and the fact that there was genuine affection in its voice. He didn’t want to hear it. Fifteen…well; sixteen years and time had now only just started to do its work, healing his wounds. Time had only just started to soften his attitude towards Ethan a little; and that alone was something that he didn’t want to contemplate.
The fact that he didn’t have a choice should have made his resignation to this life a softer blow, but it really only served the throw everything into a sharper relief. He didn’t have a choice, which meant that he should hate Ethan for taking away that choice, not accept the vampire and start to think about it in terms of an actual being, on occasion.
“Were you going to come in, or were you going to spend the rest of the night in the car?” he looked up to where it was standing, with the door open and both hands on the roof, “Or did you want me to carry you again?” it smirked.
“No, no, I’m coming.”
He undid the seatbelt and slid out of the car, locking the door behind him before he stood up slowly, so that the action didn’t make his head spin again. It was true that he’d said he didn’t think he was going to be sick this time, but he wasn’t far off it. He made his way over to the door with equal care, as it closed and locked the driver’s side door, before making its was over to the front door and unlocking it.
Then it stood aside to let him in first.