People were whispering inside his room again. Eric hated that. They always did that, even when he was little. Whispering. Took him forever to get someone to believe him that there was something he was hearing.
Rob always believed him. He’d ask what they were saying. He was the one that realized they were dead. Not that that had cheered Eric in any way. He’d have rather been crazy.
The remnants of sleep fled him as he realized what hew was hearing. What he shouldn’t have been hearing.
He swallowed, and shifted himself so he would have an unobstructed view of his room when he opened his eyes. He took a deep breath and opened.
It was empty, barely a glimpse of them exiting through the walls as he opened his eyes. They’d been staring at him in his sleep but didn’t want to speak to him while he was awake. Had they been doing this all this time? He had been fairly violent with any spirits attempting to contact him, so it was a possibility.
He slowly sat up in bed and stumbled to his dresser. He was naked and he looked like shit. The decor the room wasn’t doing anything for him, it was too white and made his skin look even more washed out than it was.
He opened the drawer and found a pair of boxer-briefs and slid them on quickly before searching for the vial of blood that should have been the drawer. It was gone.
Slowly, Eric circled the room checking all his hiding places. Each was was empty. He fell back onto his bed, a dull headache rumbling in the depths. He could feel it growing and mounting into something more powerful and mighty than he was confident in his ability to deal with.
He considered looking through the rest of the house, but there wasn’t much hidden outside of his room, his parents might not be present often, but they did live in the house. Anyway, he was sure Rob had removed them and the more he thought about it, the more he realized he didn’t want it. The thirst was gone replaced by the dull headache.
“Eric,” asked his mother from the door, “how are you feeling?”
He lifted his head slightly to see her better. Her clothing was a jarring reminder of decades past, but once you were past that, she looked alive and vibrant. She walked over to him sat down next to him on the bed.
“I feel like shit.” he replied.
“Well, I don’t know what you expected.” she said caressing his forehead.
“I expected less of a hangover.” he muttered.
She laughed, “That’s not a hangover. You just haven’t eaten in twelve hours. Trust me, I’ve seen how much alcohol you drink; you don’t know a hangover.”
Eric blinked, realizing she was correct, he was starving. He abruptly stood up, immediately regretting it as his head pounded. His mother steadied him though and led him out to the kitchen.
He grabbed the first thing he saw – cookies in a glass jar.
“Eric.” she sighed, “That’s not what I meant”
“Hey,” he replied in between mouthful of cookie, “I’m seventeen. I deserve cookies for breakfast” he paused. He was seventeen – specifically, this was his birthday – and Rob’s for that matter, though he was eighteen today.
The pause was short lived as he realized how hungry he really was. He started to search the kitchen for real food and quickly discovered was pretty much out of luck. There wasn’t much there since no one ate in the house, Angela brought her lunch with her and she was an expert in not keeping too much food in the refrigerator. She was a believer that the fridge was a place to save food for later, not store endlessly. And it wasn’t like she needed to keep snacks for him like she had when he was younger. When he’d bothered to eat recently it had been in clubs and restaurants and even if he didn’t finished (which was most of the time), he never went through the trouble of getting to go bags.
He found some frozen perogies and a some sort of sausage in the freezer. He started cooking both in the same pan. He imagined his father’s reaction to that. He had issues with certain foods touching and pierogi and sausage was probably one of them.
He’d had an apple and a handful of Cheez-its before everything was cooked. He dumped it all on a plate and began to eat with gusto.
His mother watched everything in concerned silence from across the table, “I know you’re hungry, but you’re going to make yourself sick if you eat all that.”
“I’ll stop before I get sick.” he reassured her, though he continued eating rapidly.
“I’ll believe that when I see it.” She replied, smiling. “It’s good to see you eating again.”
“I was eating.” he protested, “just not much. Maybe not enough, but I totally ate every… couple of days,” he tried to smile at the weak joke.
His mother looked out the window and commented, “Not much time now.”
“Time?” He replied, “You have plenty of that.”
“Not me, you.” She said, “It’s time to make the decision.”
“Your sister is coming.” She said, “You need to make a choice.”
“You know what that answer is.” Eric replied.
“I don’t know. Do I?” she asked, “You’ve refused to speak to me for so long. It’s hard to tell.”
Eric stopped eating, “I wasn’t avoiding you. It was the others I didn’t want to see. Not seeing you was just a…”
he struggled for the right words, “side effect.”
She frowned slightly, “Eric, you know I love you and I don’t like to see you in pain, but this hasn’t been helping. You’re just denying the truth of what you’re meant to do.”
“I don’t like—”
“It doesn’t matter what you like, Eric. This is what you were born to do. You don’t have a power like yours without reason.” she said with another glance out the window, “I should go. You don’t want me here when she arrives.”
She left, and Eric was alone in the kitchen with half a plate of food. He still wanted to eat it but he was struck by the guilt. Something clicked and he realized he was only wearing his boxer-briefs. He dashed back to his room and dug out some jeans and a t-shirt. It was the most casual thing he’d worn in months, if not years.
He got back to his breakfast just as he heard the door open. He sat down in an attempt to act calm, began eating again.
Alessa walked in and carelessly tossed her bag on the counter, before sliding into the chair his mother had vacated a minute before.
“Aren’t you up early today?” she said, leaning across the table.
“Same could be said about you.” he commented, “I was looking for you last night and couldn’t find you. I needed someone to cheer me up. Couldn’t get to sleep. Too many thoughts in my head and not one to drown them out.”
“I’m sorry, my love.” she said, lounging, “I was shopping for your birthday present.”
Something caught in his throat, “and that took all night?”
She smiled, “Well, I got… distracted.” she looked at the plate of food Eric was still eating from, “You’re hungry this morning, aren’t you?”
“What can I say, aging just takes it out of me.” he said.
“How long have we had that here?” She asked.
“I don’t know.” Eric replied, “Didn’t care. I was hungry.”
She glanced around the room and stood up, “What’s that smell?”
“Sausage?” Eric asked, feigning confusion. When she looked towards the other room he changed tactics, “Oh, you mean the smell of damaged carpeting? Yeah, I think we got a bad case of that.”
By then Alessa was ignoring him. She stood and walked down the hall and around the corner to the living room, Eric followed more slowly with half a sausage, aiming for an attitude of non concern. Rounding the corner, he witnessed the destruction for the second time.
It wasn’t as bad as he remembered it. All the bodies were gone, as were the blood stains. The damaged furniture was completely gone too. So it was only a empty room with some mysterious holes and charred bits of carpet.
“What happened?” Alessa asked.
Eric shrugged, “One of Gabriel’s puppets got a little crazy. Things were flailed. There as some damage. I think it worked out okay in the end.”
She looked at him, “What really happened?”
“What?” he looked up innocently.
“You’d never be this calm about it. You’d be blaming me for turning him.”
He blinked, “Huh, You’re right. This is your fault. You get to explain the couch to Lisa.”
She reached out to him and he flinched, stepping back. She stared curiously at him like she’d never seen something so fascinating.
“You’ve… how did you do it?”
“Do what?” Eric countered, unable to prevent his voice from shaking.
“You aren’t using any blood magic at all. There’s not even a trace of it in your body.”
“I had some help,” He replied calmly.
She smiled coldly, “That’s why you were eating. You’re trying to replenish the energy you’re missing. So cute, love.”
He involuntarily took a step back, “Or I’m just hungry.”
“I know I am,” she said, pouncing on him. But he sidestepped and she missed just by a hair.
“I’m clean,” Eric replied, “I’m not going back to what we were. Whatever that was.”
She nodded in understanding, “I know what you mean. Our relationship was far too hard on you. I think you enjoyed yourself more when you were… on the bottom.”
“No, Alessa. I’m definitely not going back to that,” he said backing through the living room, “I don’t know what you think we had but it’s not like it was love.”
She followed at pace with him, ready to grab him if he made a break for it, “Of course it’s love. We’re soulmates. We fit together perfectly. I’ve told you that, right? It’s never as good with someone else.”
“Yet there always is a someone else, isn’t there?” he backed up against the wall Gabriel had been pinned to the night before.
“Last night for a dying man. It’s the least I can do.” She leapt on him again. This time he didn’t move out of the way, he just vanished and she crashed into the wall.
“Ouch,” he replied, standing back near the kitchen, a pierogi on his fork, “That looked painful.”
“How?” she demanded, before realizing the answer, “Robin. Pulling his tricks.”
“Hey, sometime they work.” Eric said, “Now, Alessa, I think it’s time for you to leave. Take your things and go.”
“You aren’t going to kill me?” She mocked, “Dear God, I am going to enjoy draining you and Robin. Him especially. I had been trying to get to him when he vanished, but he never really liked me.” she cracked her neck, “Good thing that doesn’t matter anymore.”
She took a step forward and stopped, straining against, what to her was an invisible force.
Eric sat back down by his plate and continued to eat as he talked, “Downside of your lack of mortality. You don’t react to things most humans would react to, like temperature fluctuations or just the crawling creeping feeling of the veil being pierced.”
She tried to force her way past but it only resulted in her blouse being torn and and a stream of claw marks appearing across her shoulder. She screamed, falling to the ground, though her not all her hair followed her, pulled straight from her head, like someone had been holding on to it.
Eric glanced over, he could see the dozen men and women tearing at her. Barely present in the physical world most of their energy was spend on preventing her from moving. As it was, successfully removing some hair or creating a mark on her body was often enough to make them relax.
“I’m going to kill you, you bastard!” she screamed.
Eric ignored her and continued eating.
After five minutes she’d crawled perhaps a foot and the front door opened. Eric didn’t react, he just finished the last of his odd breakfast.
Rob walked unsteadily into the kitchen and saw Alessa struggling on the floor.
“So this is where you’ve been” he commented, “I’ve been looking everywhere for you.”
He stripped off his blood soaked shirt, though it barely made a difference. He threw it into the damaged fireplace though it ignited and burnt out before it even reached. He then walked over to the sink and washed off his arms and face, revealing just how much blood had been on him. He then emptied his pockets and sat down next to Eric.
“How you feeling?” he asked, looking curiously at the empty plate.
“Like I just overate,” Eric replied, “but otherwise, good.”
“What are we going to do with her?” he asked.
Eric shrugged, not meeting his brother’s eyes.
“Do you want me to take care of her?” Rob asked.
Eric shook his head, “No. We can’t. Lisa.”
Rob sighed, glancing at Alessa, “Criminals thrive on the indulgence of society’s understanding.”
“Justice is about harmony, revenge is about you making yourself feel better.” Eric countered, “It’s not our place.”
Suddenly Alessa was no longer bound. She stood up slowly, gauging their reactions.
“I’m going to tear both of you apart,” she growled.
Rob rolled his eyes, “Right. The chick who one of us bound, and whose greatest weakness it being held down long enough for someone to stab her in the heart, is going to kill us.”
Eric wouldn’t look at her, “Just go.”
She glowered at them, “I will come back and you’ll wish you’d come peacefully.”
“Hm,” Rob said, leaning back in his chair, “You shouldn’t go back to that penthouse, It’s kind of empty and destroyed. And Helena left a present there for you. She didn’t care for what you did to her brother.”
Alessa tried to find words, but after stuttering for a moment, she turned and walked out of the house.
Eric coughed. “That was nice. Warning her of what Helena left.”
“Helena left one in the penthouse. The other two are looking for her.” Rob said, standing up and peeling off his jeans. They followed his shirt into the fireplace.
Eric turned paler, if possible, “So, they’re all… gone?”
“Every one of them.” Rob replied. “That really was an unhealthy number to keep around. Someone was bound to get suspicious.”
“How do you think most of them got turned?” Eric asked, shoving down the remnant emotion for the monsters, “They got close enough to wonder, she added them to the harem.”
Rob looked him over, “Are you okay?”
“As okay as I can be.” Eric responded, “It’s not like a movie, I’m not suddenly overcome with guilt, but maybe I’m still in shock and it’ll come to me. Probably when Mom stops preventing them from coming in the house.”
“Mom was here?”
“Yeah. When I woke up. She reminded me I needed to eat.” Eric shook his head, “how do you forget about eating?”
“Pretty easy, if you’re preoccupied.” Rob answered.
“Not like this.” he said standing up and moving the dirty dishes into the sink, “I forgot it was something I needed to do to live. To continue my life.”
Rob shifted his weight, “Look, I don’t know—”
“We had sex a month after you left.” Eric blurted out.
“What?” Rob replied, shocked.
“A month. She just wanted it and she took it. She was already a vampire. I was a easy target.”
“Eric, you don’t need to tell me this.” Rob said.
“Yes, I do.” he replied, standing by the counter, “I told her I wanted to stop seeing them so she made me drink her blood. And then I didn’t need to see them no matter how much they wanted to bug me. She found some kid off the street and kept him around for me to slowly murder. And I did. Murder him. I drained him dry, but I didn’t make a puppet like Gabriel did, I just snuck up on Alessa and drained her so I could make her act like she loved me. Because I was sure she did, she just couldn’t express it.”
Tears were falling down his face, “I knew she didn’t. I could see into her mind but part of me couldn’t believe that she could do something like that. That she just fucked me to shut me up.” He gestured to the living room, “She was mocking me about how she really wanted you, and I know she was right. I know she was just settling for me. I know that she wanted you the moment you came home.”
He shook his head, “It’s half the reason I wouldn’t let her go after you. I didn’t want her to dump me.”
Rob walked over and put his arms around him, “Hey, it’s okay. It’s not your fault. It’s mine. I should have been there.”
“You wouldn’t have let it happen if she’d come to you.” Eric said.
“If you’d disappeared? I might have. We don’t know and we won’t ever know.” Rob said, holding him as he sobbed. A few minutes went by before he got himself under control.
Gingerly, Eric extracted himself from Rob’s embrace.
“Yeah.” Eric nodded,”I’m good. You kind of smell like something died on you. And you’re almost naked.”
“I should take a shower.” Rob agreed.
‘Yeah,” Eric said, “After though. You want to hang out and do something today? Together?”
“I’d love to.” Rob said, he took a couple steps towards his room and stopped, and turned, “I was in Wales learning sorcery from the apprentice of the most famous sorcerer to have ever lived.”
Eric registered confusion.
“And I don’t mean I travel to England, I mean I traveled through time and lived in a medieval village for four years.” he hesitated, “and I think the only reason he sent me back when he did was he realized that I wouldn’t come back on my own, cause I didn’t know… how to come back to this after being there for so long.
“I asked him about you. First thing I did. I told him was how worried about how you’d do without me. He told me you needed to learn to control your powers on your own.” Rob rambled
Eric laughed slightly, “Guess I failed there.”
Rob shook his head, “You did. You did it the wrong way, but you controlled it. You can control it again.”