October 23, 2009

Later that Night- Blood and Bones

When we got back, Nobody headed straight to his room, then out again, muttering something about the freehold. Nadi was still in her weird magic coma thing. I went to check on Rebecca. She groaned and put a hand to her forehead when I sat on the foot of the bed. "What happened?"
"The flute." I said softly.
She groaned again and rolled over, falling into a real sleep, instead of lying there unconscious. I left silently.

Gio had holed himself up in his lab, and I was parched. I struck out looking for prey. I went topside, which probably wasn't the smartest thing to do, but I figured the Pure wouldn't have gotten the word out quite yet, and I didn't feel like finding a shit ton of rats where one larger animal would do.

Finding a stray dog proved more difficult than I had anticipated. They tended to shy away from me. I couldn't really blame them. Predatory instinct and all that.
I finally found one near a park area that didn't bolt as soon as it saw me. I put the food I had brought on the ground about 3 feet in front of me and waited for it to come closer. It eventually crept close enough to cautiously eat the offered bait, but it watched me suspiciously, jumping back any time I made a move towards it and baring its teeth.

I was crouched there debating how to get it without using more blood or getting a finger bitten off when I heard a SCRAPE, THUMP, behind me. I was instantly standing with knife in hand.

There was a doe on the ground behind me, two legs badly broken, compound fractures. It's eyes were wide and panicked and it tried to push itself away from me. I turned in a slow circle, stretching out my senses, trying to find whoever had left it. Nothing. I stood that way for a good five minutes, trying to detect sign of anyone. I debated dragging the deer with me to a safer location, but it was struggling too much, and the smell of the blood oozing from the fracture wounds was fucking intoxicating.

I sheathed the knife and went to the deer, which had managed to scoot itself about 10 feet away at this point. I tried to remain alert as I drank from the creature, but I was hungry as fuck, and for a few minutes after that blood wet my mouth, that's all I could focus on. Slowly the deer stopped thrashing, until it lay completely still.

I closed the wound and stood, wiping the still warm blood from my chin. I was mildly surprised to see the stray dog still there. It eyes me, then the deer. I turned and walked away, letting the dog clean up after me. I didn't know who had provided the animal, but the thought nagged at me as I slipped back down into the tunnels. Someone was watching me, and it made me nervous. So far, they had helped, but that didn't give me any idea of their ultimate intentions. And I hadn't been able to sense the person at all.

My paranoia would become a full blown complex if it didn't stop being proven right on a nightly basis...

I'd grabbed a damp towel and was cleaning off as I made my way over to the lab. I paused in the doorway. Gio had a small portion of the blood we had collected and was examining it thoughtfully. He seemed to be working through a problem in his head. I noticed there was another sample that had been mixed with god knows what sitting on the work table. It smelled terrible. There were notes scattered in front of him. He spoke without looking at me.

"You got syringes in that kit of yours?"
My eyebrows rose, I gave him an incredulous look. "You want to inject that into yourself?"
"That's the plan. 'I have become the crucible.'" I figured he was quoting from the notes in front of him.
"Do you have any idea what injecting yourself with vampire blood is going to do?"
"Okay then..." I shook my head and grabbed my kit from my room. I debating telling him how vampire blood was enormously addictive, and all the dangers of it, but I'd seen him take in hazardous toxins before and only be slightly worse for wear.

I pulled out a syringe, needle, and tourniquet. He reached for the syringe and I drew it away from him. "You have experience injecting yourself with intravenous drugs you've been hiding from us?" I asked sarcastically.
"Well... no."
"Okay, then let the person with medical training do it. Out of the two of us, I'm the one who won't turn your arm into swiss cheese."
He offered his arm, I put on the tourniquet and started to feel for the vein and realized I didn't need to. I found that I knew exactly where the vein would be. I knew where all the major veins would be... it had become instinctual. An unexpected perk of vampirism was apparently an affinity for phlebotomy. Not really the way I expected to apply my vampiric abilities. Slipping the needle in without Gio feeling so much as a pinch, however, was a matter of experience and training.

I watched his face as I depressed the plunger. As the shit hit his system I saw his eyes widen, then clamp shut, and he broke out into a heavy sweat. "Oh holy fuck." As soon as I removed the needle he pushed me away and ripped off the tourniquet. He put a hand on either side of the work bench, clenching it so hard his knuckles turned white. I watched him, utterly fascinated. This wasn't a normal reaction, not by a long shot. I figured it had something to do with the interaction between his blood and the vampire blood. He wasn't, after all, a normal mortal.

He stood that way for a good 10 minutes, breathing heavy, eyes squeezed shut, obviously in massive pain. When he finally opened his eyes, they had changed subtly. They were colder. It made me wonder what he had seen when his eyes were pressed closed. About that moment Gio's cell rang. I picked it up off the table, seeing it was Nobody, and answered it, putting it on speaker. Gio's voice was strained and breathless.
"Whatsup Nobody?"
"Heading to Luciano's to see Antonio.. you guys game?"
"You bet. Meet you there." He managed to hold back the pain filled gasp until after I'd hung up the phone.

I drove. Gio was muttering to his cane the entire way there. "Fuck this burns.. shut up Ches.. We're going to get it out now. I'm doing this for you, you know. You could at least show a little fucking gratitude you arrogant asshole..." Pot calling kettle...

We got to Luciano's and went straight to the back. Nobody was already there, sitting at a table with Antonio and Luciano. "Hey! How yous guys doin'?" Antonio said with a big grin.
"Hey Antonio.. we've had better nights.. but I can't complain too much...Luciano, what happened with the pit boss, Neko?" Gio asked, loking around the tattoo parlor as though e might spot evidence of the traitor.
Luciano gave us a strange, rather disconcerting look. "He is in a better place."
Gio nodded, not phased. "Hey Luciano, can you..uh.. I need to get some blood out of me."
"Oh really?" And he stood up and started going through cabinets and taking out a few things. "Blood type?" He asked casually.
"O negative." Gio said absently, face still a mask of pain.
"Please, sit down." Luciano gestured to a chair that looked oddly like one of those chairs you see in either a dentists office, or the experiment wing in a hospital horror flick. When Gio sat, Luciano strapped him down, set up an IV, and put a large plastic contained under his arm. Definitely hospital horror flick..

He took out a very sharp knife and looked at me. "Have you fed recently?"
"Good." And he drew the knife down Gio's forearm, from elbow to wrist, and from the way the blood immediately began pouring down his arm and into the container I knew he'd cut directly into the large vein. The blood came out so quickly that it looked like a solid sheet flowing into the container. It even steamed. Even having fed under an hour ago, I couldn't help but stare. When I took two involuntary steps closer the others looked at me suspiciously. I clenched my fists and concentrated, walling off the beast from my rational self. The next steps I took were to examine Luciano's work, not to feast on my comrades blood.

He had cut straight into the vein all right, but amazingly, not through it. I watched as he grabbed a needle and thread and proceeded to stitch the vein itself closed with unnatural speed and efficiency. He then inserted the IV needle into Gio's other arm (Gio had long since fallen unconscious, most of his blood was in a bucket on the floor.) and squeezed the bag of o negative blood. If Gio had been awake, it would've hurt like hell. He used 6 bags of blood. He let the last one flow in normally.

He put a lid on the container of blood and proceeded to finish cleaning up Gio. He wiped down his arm and sutured the actual cut closed. Luciano seemed strained. When Gio came too, he groaned and looked like shit. Luciano grabbed him some snacks from the fridge. Now that the show was over, Nobody and Antonio started talking again.

"So how do you like being a Summer Champion?"
"Its good, its good. A lot of responsibility, but dats okay." Antonio said.

We chitchatted with him until Gio was in a state to leave. We stood to go, the container wrapped discreetly. "I'll see you later Antonio, still got more work to do." Gio said, still breathless and pale.
Antonio nodded to Gio. "You be careful Giovanni. I'm prayin' for ya.. a lot of us are. Prayin' for your soul."
Giovanni turned to walk out the door. "I appreciate it, but my soul is already damned."
"Blood ain't everyting Gio. It's what you do that counts." Antonio called after him.

And we left.

We took the blood back to base and stored it. Nobody was in the lab with Gio for while, when I walked by they were just bullshitting, but Nobody's aura was swirling and I watched the color return to Giovanni's face, and his voice became normal, no longer strained and exhausted. Neat trick. I wondered how long until Gio's body said 'fuck you!' and forced him to sleep. "Okay.. so to the graveyard?" Gio said when he noticed me skulking in the doorway.

I frowned. "Really? Tonight? Don't you think you should take it easy?"
Gio shrugged and grabbed his coat and cane. "I'm fine, and I'd rather get it over with now. Besides, this is supposed to be the easy part. Though that being the case, I'm sure it will turn out to be hard as fuck."

We grabbed a couple shovels, a few garbage bags, and a canvas bag and headed out. Gio needed the bones of a child no older than 10 for his homonculous. Compared to the other supplies, this was the easiest to come up with. We went to one of the older cemeteries in town and spent awhile looking for the right grave. Nobody found one, but I vetoed it on the grounds that the kid had died only a few months ago. That meant we'd have to deal with de-fleshing the bones, and it was more likely visiting family would notice the disturbance. Eventually we found an older grave, one with no flowers. The kid had been 8, and died in the 70's.

I started digging. I enhanced my muscle strength to do it, and gave Nobody a fuckton of shit until he finally started helping me. It took awhile before we heard the 'thunk' of our shovels hitting wood. We cleared away the dirt and pried open the lid of the small casket. One of the times I was thankful for not needing to breath. Even a corpse over 30 years old still stinks. We were just finished double bagging the small body in the trash bags when Gio alerted us to the grounds keeper's presence. We closed the coffin and climbed up out of the grave.

He wasn't too far off and he hadn't said a word yet. He just walked slowly towards us. When I examined his aura, I saw something I'd never seen before. His aura was human, but overlayed on top of that aura was another that reached up above him and formed a face. Eyes stared balefully at me.

"What. The. Fuck." I explained to the others what I saw. "We should go.." I muttered.
Nobody had already went. Gio and I looked at each other and rolled our eyes collectively "Fucking faery bastard..." we said, collectively.

Gio started walking towards the guy.
"Gio, what the fuck, we need to get out of here."
He turned and looked at me. "But aren't you curious?"
I scowled and crossed my arms, glaring at him. "Fucking.. yes. Fuck." I stood my ground as Gio approached the guy, shovel still in hand, ready to come to the rescue if I needed too.

The man walked right past Gio. He approached me, picked up Nobody's shovel he had cast aside when he'd bolted, and started filling in the hole we had made. I watched him suspiciously for a moment, then helped him. We shoveled dirt into the hole in silence. When it was finished, he looked at me, then nodded to the shed a few yards away. I looked between him and Gio... "Yell if you need anything.." and took off to the shed, keeping one eye on them as I went. I heard the grounds keeper mutter something to Gio, but I was too far away for even my enhanced hearing to pick it up.

In the shed there was a pile of sod just inside the door. I grabbed enough to cover the grave, and a hose, and headed back. I helped him lay the sod, he watered it, and shifted shit around until it looked like it hadn't been disturbed. He handed me the shovel. Gio had put the trash bags into the canvas bag we had brought with us.

"Leave." The groundskeeper said in a low, but powerful, voice.

He didn't have to tell us twice. We left. Nobody appeared out of nowhere about 2/3rds of the way back to the car. "You're such a pussy." I scoffed at him.
He just shrugged and kept walking.
"Gio, what did he say to you?" I asked when we reached the vehicle.
Gio looked rather uncomfortable. "'He was more careful with you.'" He held up his bandaged arm. "That guy.. I never met him, before my time.. he's not supposed to be alive. He was turned over to Luciano after playing rat to some feds against the family..."
I set the bag in the trunk and closed the lid. "Holy shit... do they...?"
"I doubt they know. I'm sure as fuck not going to be the one to tell them. So who's up for another trip to Luciano's?" Gio said with a shaky smile.
I looked at him like he'd sprouted a second head.
"What? I need beetles to clean the remaining flesh off this body. I'll keep my mouth shut."
I coughed. He glared. "The subtle 'I don't believe you' cough is no longer subtle when you don't breath on a regular basis."
I shrugged and opened the driver's side door. "I never said I was trying to be subtle."

We drove over to Luciano's and got away without incident. Gio managed to keep his big mouth closed. I could actually see the physical strain it caused him. When we got back Nadi had finally come too. And..she was fine. Nick left, relieved. She didn't say too much about her vision, except that she was in a library filled with all the books people wanted to right and never did, and had found a book in Ray Fawkes' section that was written in a language she couldn't read, and that tried to eat her mind when she tried. The book was black, thin and felt oily to the touch, as well as uncomfortable to hold. Literally, mildly painful. Gio took it and locked it up.

"It can wait till tomorrow. I'm fucking exhausted. I've had a shitty night."
I was going to protest, but he was right. I let it go.

She explained that she'd been the leader of an army at one point, and mentioned having seen me on the field. I found it interesting I actually made it into her metaphysical magic world. Something to consider. She also now had two tattoos, a bird on each shoulder blade.

Gio wandered off to the lab afterwards, Nobody wandered off in the direction of the bedrooms. I helped Gio get the body hung where the beetles could take to it, and went to check on Becca.

Nobody was in her room when I stopped in. She was still asleep.
"What are you doing." I asked with quiet annoyance.
"Shes dreaming, and I need glamour."
I narrowed my eyes. "Don't feed on my ghoul."
He rolled his eyes at me. "It doesn't hurt her."
"Don't feed. on my ghoul."
"Fine." and he walked out. I didn't think for one second that he'd given up. I stood there and watched her. I concentrated and slipped into her thoughts. I wanted to make sure she was okay, and that Nobody wasn't fucking with her. Like I thought I would, I felt another presence. I couldn't see what she was dreaming, but I could hear was she was thinking about it. First there was fear, and embarrassment. Then hesitant gratitude. Then a surge of accomplishment. Then, for a moment, someone else was there. Another presence I didn't recognize and my connection was suddenly cut off.

Becca rolled over into a more restful sleep and she muttered, "Que Sera, Sera,
Whatever will be, will be..." then fell silent.

I made a beeline for Nobody's room. I didn't bother knocking, I just opened the door. He was laying on the bed staring at the ceiling, hands behind his head. His aura was swirling with agitation, fear, resentment, confusion, and doubt. Outwardly though, he looked normal.

"What happened in her dream."
"I don't know what you're talking about. I was in here."
"I'm not stupid. I know you were in there. What did you see."
"I did like you asked."
"And you're full of shit. I'm not pissed about it, I'm worried about her. i felt someone else in her head. I want to be sure she's alright."
He sat up. His aura shifted into colors of smug satisfaction at my annoyance. He held out his hand. "Ill tell you if you swear you won't hurt me or her because of it. I like Rebecca, and I don't want you hurting her because you didn't like the content of her dream."
I frowned at him. The fuck? Why would I hurt her over a dream? This is coming from the same guy who accuses me of being too soft, not willing enough to get my hands dirty?
"Fine. But only tonight." And as soon as I shook his hand I saw intense satisfaction flare in his aura and I realized I'd been suckered. I hadn't put any stipulation that he had to tell me the truth. I watched the smug sanctification get brighter as he told me what he saw in the dream.

"Rebecca was dreaming about killing you. She hates you for taking away her dreams. She was standing over you with a stake in her hand. That's what I saw."

My eyes narrowed to slits and my voice became dangerously low. "You're lying."
"I'm not! Why wouldn't she feel that way? You dragged her here, she drinks your blood.. I mean, you guys have some safeguard against this sort of thing?"
Of course, the emotion the blood bond creates helps prevent this, but it could be overcome. I did not feel inclined to share this with Nobody. But I hadn't done anything to inspire such hatred. And I hadn't read hatred or anger in her thoughts at all.

"No. I know you're lying because I was in her head too. I could hear what she was thinking, and it doesn't line up with what you are telling me."
He shrugged. "Don't know what to tell you. That's what I saw." His aura became tinged with annoyance. I stood there a moment and watched his aura, made it obvious that I could see every emotion playing across his mind, even all that doubt he didn't want anyone to know he had. Annoyance grew to anger. He tried to put something in my face, block my line of sight. I stepped back and smirked at him, and walked out of the room humming 'Que Sera Sera', the song Rebecca had been singing in her sleep as I left. I glanced back to see his aura flare with intense colors of rage and fear, and felt like the conversation hadn't been a complete waste of my time.

I forcibly ignored the tiny voice that nagged in the back of my thoughts that maybe my ghoul really did resent me. I was nearly positive that I was right, and he had been lying to me. His aura was pretty easy to read. Over all it didn't matter as long as she remained loyal. At least, that's what I told myself as I went to bed for the day. Fucking faery..

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