“I’m fine.” Eric snapped, shoving his brother away.
Rob let him, standing aside of Eric’s bedroom door. He’d remained in his room almost continuously after confronting Helena but the advent of the holidays meant Thomas and Lisa had returned and Eric seemed adamant not to let them know anything.
Or as Rob thought, he was being a complete hypocrite.
“You’re over the thing with Lena, right? ‘Cause she’s going to be at dinner.” He told him following in his wake.
“Yes. I’m fine. It was a misunderstanding.” Eric replied, “I’ve just been tired and stressed and keeping the secret was just too much.”
Rob frowned and followed him into the kitchen, “I doubt that was all of it. I don’t want to make it worse, but she probably did do it on purpose.”
Eric spun around, anger starting to mar his face, “What?”
“Same thing as you really. Tired, stressed. And hey, alone in an empty house with her childhood crush.” Rob replied, “I really shouldn’t have let it happen. Offered to buy a couch for her to sleep on. Or me to sleep on. Or just skip to the sleeping together ourselves.” Rob rambled.
Eric shook his head, “But the first time we met, she was talking to you. She approached you.”
“No. She approached both of us. You refused to give her the time of day.” Rob corrected, “And my sleeping with her back then was just pity sex. She thought I was going to die, you see.”
Eric searched Rob as if he could tell if he was lying somehow, “How do you stay with her?”
“I love her.” Rob said. “I’m an idiot. I love her. I think she loves me in her own way.”
“Even mourning her brother, she still cheated on you.”
“You know that line about ‘Love means you never need to say you’re sorry’? Yeah, I understand it now. She doesn’t need to say it because I know it would be meaningless.” Rob said, “Come on, Lisa and Dad are waiting.”
Eric blocked Rob’s path again, “She’s pregnant isn’t she?”
“What tipped you off?” Rob asked, “The vomiting or the abstinence?”
“Whose?” he asked.
“Does it matter?” Rob asked, “It’s not like we can wait til it grows up and decide which of us it looks like and paternity tests aren’t perfect with brothers. Their father will be close either way.”
Eric frowned, “I don’t want to be a father.”
“Why not?” Rob said, edging down the hall.
“What if they’re as fucked up as we are?”
“We prevent it.” Rob replied, smiling. “We were created by our environment. Would I have become so obsessed with being a hero if I wasn’t named for one? Wanted the fame and notoriety if I wasn’t on television?”
“Very deep, Rob.” Eric said, patting him on the back.
“I had four years to consider all of the mistakes that lead me to my downfall.” Rob continued.
“You consider it your downfall?”
“Considering that I fell in love with a psychopath? Yeah.” Rob replied darkly as they emerged into the kitchen.
Thomas was lounging on the couch a massive pile of back issue comics. They theorized he was trying to single-handedly keep the industry going. It worked out to him reading them all at once when he came home for the Fall/Winter holidays.
He didn’t react to his sons entering the room, just continued reading, looking like someone twenty years younger and less responsible.
Lisa wasn’t as relaxed. She hung up her phone, concern across her face.
“Do you have any idea where Alessa is?” she asked.
“Nope,” they replied in unison. It was a little too in unison and too on the dot. She frowned a them, sizing up which one would be easier to interrogate.
While the honest answer was neither, Rob still hadn’t told his parents where he’d spend four years, so she stepped over to Eric.
“Eric, you and Alessa are so close. She’d have told you where she’d gone, right?” Lisa asked.
“Nope,” Eric repeated, “We had an argument last I saw her. Even if she had told me I wouldn’t have been listening.”
Lisa considered this for a moment, “What were you arguing about?”
“Our relationship.” Eric replied bluntly, “Rob pointed out how unhealthy it was for either of us. I decided to end it and she disagreed.”
“She has another place in the city, I know that.” Lisa said, “Where is it?”
Rob leaned between them to grab some grapes, “She doesn’t have it anymore. There was an electrical fire, burnt up everything.”
“Electrical fire?” Lisa repeated.
Rob nodded, “Yeah, it happens when you get a bunch of drunk kids in an old high rise.”
“Was she in the penthouse when it went up?” Thomas asked, dropping the act of reading the same page for the last few minutes.
Eric half turned to the room he’d watched Rob burn out two puppets and incapacitate Gabriel Oliveira. “No, she was out shopping at the time. Came home the next morning even. Rob told her about the fire right in this kitchen.”
“Was that before or after you threw her across the ceiling?” Thomas asked. The others followed his gaze to the almost imperceptible indentation in the ceiling.
“I told you we should have replaced it,” Eric muttered under his breath.
“Only Dad would notice that,” Rob countered, “and he’d notice if we’d replaced it too.”
“That and this is a new couch.” Thomas said sitting up, “It has a stiffness to it that only a new couch has. And the detailing is wrong.”
Rob shrugged, “Old one was a pile of splinters and I had a date the next night. Also, the ceiling was Eric and it was entirely his fault.”
“My fault?” Eric turned to his brother, “You threw me!”
“It’s a passive defense. Someone tries to mind control me they find gravity no longer effects them.” Rob explained, “You’re lucky there was a ceiling to crash into.”
Helena walked into the room, looking apprehensive, “Is this a bad time?”
Rob shook his head, “Nah, Dad just noticed the ceiling.”
She rolled her eyes, “You should have replaced it.”
“I still have one question,” Thomas said coming over to face his sons, “How did you do it?”
Eric blinked, “You knew?”
“I’m not an idiot, Ric. What were my options? Ignore it, or kill you right after losing Robin.” Thomas replied, “I couldn’t do the latter so I stuck with the former.”
Lisa had slowly been shut out of the conversation. She stared at them in confusion, “What are you talking about?”
Eric blushed slightly, “I was a teenaged vampire.”
“How many people did you kill,” Thomas asked before Lisa could comprehend what had been said.
Eric frowned, “Outright? Only one. But I ruined many others. Alessa was the one that usually finished them off.”
“How did you stop?” Thomas asked again, “And don’t give me any crap about cold turkey.”
Rob interposed himself, “I made a deal.”
Thomas turned, alarmed, “A deal?”
“With a Faery. I got a good deal. Even the payment should get me something worthwhile.” Rob said.
“What about my daughter!?” Lisa asked, frustration mounting.
“She’s alive, last I heard.” Rob said, glancing at Helena.
She shook her head, “The dogs never returned, I assumed she killed them.”
“Why?” Lisa asked, “Why would you…”
“Want to kill her?” Eric asked, “I can’t imagine why the victim of her abuse would want revenge.”
Rob shrugged, “She stole my brother and corrupted him. And I always though of her the evil step-sister anyway.”
“She killed my brother in his house,” Helena said, for the first time showing emotion over the death since Rob had brought his body to her hotel room, “I’m not sure where…”
“Guest room upstairs,” Eric said, not meeting her eyes, “that’s where I saw the twins at least.”
Rob sighed, glancing mournfully between his stepmother and his girlfriend, “I really didn’t think dinner could get more awkward tonight.”
“We can make it more awkward.” Eric suggested.
Helena’s voice cracked as she said, “Let’s not.” Rob placed he arm around her and lead her towards the dining room.
Thomas looked over Eric frowning, “I don’t want to know, do I?”
Eric shook his head. Thomas nodded, placed the comic books he still held in his hand on the pile as he followed Rob and Helena to the dining room.
Eric and Lisa were left in an awkward silence in the kitchen. Neither knew where to start.
Finally Eric just blurted out, “I was thirteen the first time Lessa had sex with me. Think you or Dad told her to comfort me. She just wanted to shut me up.” he leaned against the counter as if what he was saying was meaningless, “She was already drinking blood. She drank from me. Toyed with me. I didn’t resist. I didn’t really want to. After about a year I accidently killed someone with a feeding. That’s what makes the change, what makes you a vampire. Killing someone for their blood.”
“You never seemed,” Lisa said, “You seemed happy.”
“I was. In a frenzy bloodlust kind of way.” Eric said, “But deep down I hated myself. Which really just made me drink more. Also I hated being submissive to her. I had to drink enough to be in control of the relationship.”
Tears streamed down Lisa’s face, as she tried to form a response. “But Rob was able to help you. He could help her.”
Eric met her gaze, watched the desperate hope in her eyes, “No, he can’t. She doesn’t want to give it up. She doesn’t hate what she’s become. The cure he gave me, it’s just a chance to choose. I know she wouldn’t make the choice you want.”
Eric turned to leave, “Don’t blame Rob though. He had enough for both of us, he just didn’t have the chance to use the other one.”
He hurried out of the room, trying to ignore Lisa’s broken sobs.