Warnings: A bit of language, nothing major
Characters: Edgar Frog, Alan Frog
Spoilers: Majorly for the Thirst
Synopsis: Edgar finds himself fighting a war on two fronts when a power vacuum leads to an explosion in the vampire population at the same time as he finds himself learning how to cope with his own set of fangs
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5
Alan glanced sideways at his brother as he turned the key in the ignition. Edgar looked shrunken, somehow, as though the events of the night were a heavy weight pressing down onto him. He had pushed himself right up to the door of the truck, pressing his body against the interior of the vehicle and putting as much space between the two of them as he could. He stared out of the window into the darkness outside.
Alan wondered how much he could see out there. Vampire's night vision was as impressive as their strength. Having seen it from the other side, it was hard to imagine how a vampire could ever lose a fight to a human, even with the arsenal of weapons they had at their disposal.
Daniel had been right about one thing, vampires and half vampires were simply better equip for battle. They were stronger, faster, more difficult to injure, and when you did injure one, he would heal much more quickly. They could see as well at night as a human could during the day, better ever, their hearing was better, their sense of smell. They could fly.
He would never admit it out loud, but Daniel had been right about something else. He did miss flying. It was the ultimate sense of freedom, the ability to leap into the sky and just keep going, leave the whole world behind, defy gravity. If there was one thing he could have kept, it would have been that. Not the strength, the healing, even the reduced rate at which half vampire tended to age, but the ability, just every now and then, to leave the world behind.
Out of the corner of his eye, in the seat next to him he saw Edgar shiver slightly, as though he felt a chill, despite the warm air of the summer night. Half vampire body temperatures were a little cooler than regular humans anyway, not the icy dead flesh of a full vampire, but cool enough that they didn't really feel the cold. Whatever caused it was not the weather. The reminder of his brother's presence, and of his situation, pulled Alan out of his reverie. This was one of the things that Edgar could never know; that there was something – anything – about vampirism he had liked. He could imagine his brother’s horror at the revelation; the way it would erode the trust between them. It wasn't just the bad things he didn't want Edgar to have to know.
That was why they had to solve this quickly, before anything else went wrong.
Edgar's eyes were glassy was he stared blankly outside. He appeared listless, completely devoid of his usual energy. He hadn't been like that earlier. But that was before he had experienced bloodlust. Before he had been forced to deal with his reality. This was more than just half reflections and the need to sleep during the day. This was real, undeniable evidence of the fact that he was no longer human, and it all happened at once. There had been no gradual build to allow him to grow accustomed to the sensation of the creature gnawing hungrily was his insides, demanding blood. Daniel's thoughtlessness had brought it on ahead of schedule.
Not just Daniel's; his own too. If Alan been thinking, and he had no excuse not to, he could have warned Daniel. He could even have stood his ground and refused to let Edgar go with him. But he always deferred to Edgar's judgment. Always, even when he knew that his brother was wrong. In this, he was the expert. He should have been stronger.
This was all his fault. He just hoped that whatever had broken in Edgar, it was something that could eventually be repaired.
He took a deep breath. The silence had an almost physical presence, it filled the inside of the car, pressing against the surface of his skin, it took genuine effort to break it and force out words.
“Daniel's given me the location of the biggest covens in the area. He thinks their leader is probably one of the potentials.”
Edgar remained silent, staring out of the window with the side of his face touching the cool glass.
“I don't think you should come with me,” he continued.
There was still no response. Edgar didn't even move a muscle, he didn't even blink. It was like someone had taken his brother and replaced him with a statue.
Alan teased his bottom lip with his teeth and nervously ran a hand over the steering wheel. “It's too risky,” he explained. “You're too new. In the heat of battle, you could get confused about who the enemy is.”
Out of the corner of his eye, he thought he detected the slightest quiver of movement from the other side of the car, but when he turned to check, Edgar was still a statue, lost to the thoughts in his head. Alan wondered whether he had even heard what he said.
The engine throbbed impatiently, and Alan shifted the vehicle into drive. He reversed carefully up the narrow alley, before he turned back onto the larger street at the top. He allowed the silence to once again expand until it filled the inside of the truck, and drove in complete silence, the radio switched off and the only sounds the engine and the tires on tarmac.
The world felt much further away than it had before. It was as though his consciousness had taken a step back, inside his head, pulling away from the world around him where the unthinkable things happened. He felt numb, anesthetized by shock. Around him, the world continued, he could still see and hear what was happening if he chose to pay attention, but he was powerless to interact with it. Sitting in the passenger seat of the truck, he was aware of the throb of the engine, and the slight vibration is caused in the seats and the floor.
Somewhere just on the edge of his awareness, he could hear Alan talking. He didn't try to make out the words. Outside of the truck, in the alley, he could see a black and white stray picking through the garbage can.
The glass of the window felt cold against the skin of his face, but he couldn't bring himself to move away.
He felt the truck begin to move, he drew his vague attention away from the high definition vampire-vision scenes of the disgusting alley outside, and focused instead on Alan. The expression on his brother's face was worried. His jaw was tight, he had always held his tension there. Hands gripped the wheel tightly, tight enough to force the blood from his fingers.
He could still smell it. It emanated from Alan's side of the truck, no less strongly than before, when the need to drink had become so unbearable that he, Edgar Frog, vampire hunter, had been forced to surrender to it. Only because the terrible urge had been temporally sated was Alan safe for now. He could hear the beating of Alan's heart, drumming out a fast rhythm as it pumped the life sustaining fluid around his brother's body in a continuous, never ending cycle.
There was still blood in his own mouth, he could still taste it no matter how many times he tried to swallow it down. He wanted more. He never wanted any, ever again, but God how he wanted more.
Alan's heartbeat continued to pound in his ears, a drum beat playing just for him. He concentrated on it, closing his eyes and allowing the sound to become his whole world, just for a short moment. Alan was alive; he was human. He had come through the nightmare and out the other end. And yes, he was different now, in subtle ways that he thought Edgar didn't notice, but he was Alan, and he was himself again. He was alive.
Edgar couldn't jeopardize that. The loss of control had frightened him, nothing he had seen or heard or read or experienced in all his years of hunting could even have begun to prepare him for the effects of bloodlust on a new half vampire. And that was what he was now, a half vampire, a bloodsucker. A monster. There was something inside him. It was evil, and it was strong.
The decision to drink hadn't been his own. He had had no choice. The monster demanded blood, a desperate, clawing need for something unthinkable, a need so strong that he felt that if he didn't provide it, his body would have taken what it needed regardless.
But then, it wasn't really his body any more, was it?
There was blood in his mouth.
He had drunk blood. He had liked it.
As they drove out of the town, away from the streetlights and the people, he saw Alan's eyes flicker from the road ahead, checking on him. His concern was obvious. His brow creased in concern as he watched him out of the corner of his eye.
Slowly, Edgar made an attempt to free himself from the bubble separating him from the world, and forced his body to respond to his commands. He flexed his fingers, just testing that they would do as he asked. His right hand, crushed in the fight the night before, was completely healed now. He licked his lips before he spoke, they, too, tasted of blood.
“Are you okay?” he asked. Silence shattered, his words sounded too loud, too unexpected. Too shaken.
They were well out of town by now. Edgar realized he had no idea how long they had been driving. It could have been a couple of minutes or an hour. Alan eased his foot off the gas, slowing the truck slightly for safety on the dark, deserted road. He turned fully around to look at him.
“Are you okay, Edgar? You've been practically catatonic for the past half hour.”
Half hour. That answered that question. He wondered how long he would last before the terrible need rose again.
“I...” his throat constricted and suddenly he couldn't speak. He was thinking of fangs, and of eyes stained red with need. He swallowed convulsively, sure that he could still taste the blood in his mouth.
Alan's attention moved back to the road for long enough to check he wasn't about to crash, and then straight back to Edgar.
“I drank blood,” Edgar stated. Saying it out loud somehow made it more real. The words provoked a kind of empty feeling inside him, like he was balancing on the edge of a deep hole and if he wasn't careful, he could fall in. If he fell, he didn't know whether he would be able to climb out again.
Alan nodded, breathing a sigh as he did. “Yeah.”
Silence descended once again, because what could anyone say to follow that? Edgar rested an elbow on the door and closed his eyes, not wanting to see the world in its high definition, vampire vision clarity.
He could still hear Alan's heartbeat. He wondered whether his brother realized.
It had already been a long night. Edgar's internal clock had been well and truly screwed up, it felt like it was nearly dawn, like he had spent the whole night fighting and was ready to collapse in a heap on his bed and sleep until mid afternoon. In fact, it was barely past midnight, the whole night stretched ahead of him, he had hours yet of being a monster before he could sink not into sleep but into dreamless unconsciousness, strength sapped by the usually life giving rays of the sun.
He didn't open his eyes until the truck came to a stop outside his trailer. He forced his hand to reach for the handle and open the door. His feet on the slightly uneven ground felt unsteady, like he had had too much to drink.
The corners of his lips twitched in bitter amusement as his brain caught up and analyzed the thought. He fished in his pocket for his key ans shoved it roughly into the lock, pulled the door open and went inside. Alan followed him without a word. He could almost feel his brother's eyes on him, watching him with concern mixed with curiosity, as though he was wondering how Edgar was going to react.
Edgar wondered that himself, actually. The sense of mental anesthesia was slowly wearing off, he was regaining the ability to think in a straight line. But there was no panic rising inside him. Shock was draining away to reveal another kind of numbness.
He turned and glanced at his brother. Alan had closed the door behind him, and was leaning back on it. His eyes met Edgar's and maintained contact until Edgar tore away. Once upon a time, they had shared everything, there had been no secrets between them, they knew each other's every innermost thought. Then Alan had been forced to drink; dragged against his will into a world Edgar didn't understand, one he had seen only from the outside. He hadn't wanted to know about it. And Alan hadn't wanted to share.
Now their positions were reversed, but not really. Edgar was denied the privacy of secrecy. He couldn't pretend to be okay because Alan would know that he wasn't; that he couldn't possibly be. And he knew Alan's secrets now, some of them, at least. Some of the things he had carried with him without speaking out loud.
Edgar allowed himself to sink into the battered old couch, facing away from Alan's unwelcome understanding. He let his body slump forward until his head rested in his hands, then sat motionless, eyes cast downward.
He could still feel his brother's gaze, he felt himself begin to wilt under the scrutiny. Alan needed to be gone, or at the very least, he needed to say something. Silence had never been a problem for them, living in each other's pockets for so long, they had become so used to the constant presence of the other that they didn't need to speak. But tonight, the silence was awkward, stretched thin from overuse. He didn't think it was possible for things to be worse, but this made it worse.
Reluctantly, he pulled his head from his hands and turned briefly to look at his brother. Alan's gaze dropped instantly to the ground, caught out.
“Nice company you've been keeping,” Edgar said. His voice sounded thankfully normal, he squeezed in a little sarcasm. “I can't think why you kept him a secret.”
Alan frowned. He hooked his thumbs in the belt loops of his jeans and took a step forward into the room. Edgar fought the urge to back away again. It would only have been for show. If the bloodlust did rise again, he knew now that a few extra feet between them would make no difference. He could still smell the blood in his brother's veins.
It occurred to him that Alan would have been able to smell his, every time they were together.
“Daniel's a little odd,” Alan admitted, “But he's reliable, and he keeps a close eye on what's happening around town. And he was a good friend to me when I didn't have...” he stopped, a little abruptly. Edgar tilted his head as he watched him. When he didn't have anyone else. When Edgar hadn't been there.
Edgar felt himself go very still at words that he expected would make him flinch. He disguised the reaction by adjusting his position on the couch, and then sneaked a glance at his brother to see whether his subterfuge had been noticed, but Alan appeared not to even be looking at him, as though his words hadn't been intended to be hurtful
They probably hadn't been intended that way. Alan was, after all, stating a fact. Edgar hadn't exactly abandoned him, but after he had returned, neither had he gone out of his way to welcome him back with open arms. His visits had been few and far between, short and awkward. But it had been Alan's fault. Alan's, not his.
Alan had survived, he had done what they had always believed impossible, resisted the bloodlust, refrained from making a kill, retained some semblance of his humanity. But that was all. He had given up hope of becoming human again, and he had chosen to resign himself to a life in the shadows, eking out an existence living on animal blood. The man that finally returned to him after years of allowing his brother to believe him dead or worse, was not the same man that had fled after being forced to drink the blood.
He had become someone else. It wasn't just the vampirism, it was his acceptance of it. The way he had looked at him, expressionless, and told him that there was no hope. He hadn't just given up on his humanity, he had given up on them. On their team. On their brotherhood, even.
Edgar couldn't stand to see him like that, lost so deep in the shadows that he had become a shadow himself.
Edgar was never going to allow that to happen to himself. He was never going to stop fighting. Or if he ever did, the night he realized he had lost hope, that would be the night he finally did what Alan had prevented him from doing; piercing his own heart.
Alan shifted his weight from one foot to the other, waiting. Edgar let the comment drop. He had more important things to worry about than his brother's hurt feelings. As for his description of Daniel, 'a little odd' didn't come close to covering it. The guy wanted to be a half vampire. What kind of insane masochist would make that kind of a decision? But again, more important things.
He had a vague recollection of Alan talking to Daniel after he came back in the room, while Edgar sat pouring all of his concentration into not freaking out, or at least not making his freak-out obvious. He had the feeling he had failed miserably. He also seemed to remember Alan saying something to him in the truck, before he gave up and allowed silence to reign. He had heard the words, but the meaning had been lost to him.
“Tell me we at least got something from him that we can use.”
Alan nodded. “He knows where one of the larger covens sleep during the day. He thinks their leader is probably one of our potential head vamps.”
Edgar slumped further into the couch. “That's all?”
“It's more than we had last night,” Alan reminded him.
“Yeah, well,” Edgar drew in a deep breath, feeling the oxygen filling his lungs and spreading to every corner of his strange, alien body. “This time last night, I was human.” They had known they were facing a war between opposing masters, they had been trying to find out who they were, and of course it had been important, but things were different now; so much more urgent.
Alan didn't answer.
Since he had been back Edgar had grown used to silences from him. The days of jokes, shouting out stupid comments to one another during hunts, and even of real conversation, were gone. Once, they had been able to stay up all night, just talking. Not any more. It was as though the vampire infection had robbed his brother of a part of himself, even after he had been cured he retained some of the strange differentness that Edgar had blamed on what he thought of as his condition. He had ignored it, happy just to have him back, but it bothered him. Alan had come back different. You couldn't go through what he had, and remain the same. And now Edgar had had his first taste of the full horror, he wondered whether it had already begun to change him too.
Alan's silence left the comment hanging in the room, echoing in his ears like a scream in an empty cave.
Edgar pulled himself to his feet. Before they had gone to Daniel, Edgar had had no idea of his existence, he had been facing nights of hunting, trying to pry information from vampires before he killed them tracking down not just one, but two master vampires at the same time as he fought the vampire inside himself. Now, they knew where one of the masters might be.
“Fine, yeah. It's something. Lets go check it out.”
Alan didn't move. He remained standing my the door, thumbs pulling at his belt loops, eyes cast downward.
Alan didn't want him to go. Alan didn't trust him.
That was okay, Edgar didn't trust himself.
Alan shook his head. “Edgar...”
They had had this argument once tonight already. Edgar had won. He had won the right to accompany Alan into a situation that he shouldn't have been in. If he had listened to Alan, he would have been safely at home, far away from any blood. Any open containers of blood, that is. The one in his refrigerator would still have been there. He should do as Alan was about to tell him, be a good little half vampire and sit around not helping himself. That was what they all did, apparently. But if he did that, it would mean sending Alan alone, into the vampires' lair.
He set his features hard, ready to fight his corner. “You can't go charging in there alone.”
“You can't come,” Alan told him bluntly.
“Just you, alone, against god knows how many vampires. Face it, Alan, you wouldn't stand a chance.”
Alan frowned, looking affronted.
“No one would,” Edgar clarified. “I wouldn't do it, and I'm always doing stupid stuff like that. You're out of practice, and you said yourself to that idiot halfie you're still getting used to being human again. And what's the first rule of hunting?”
Alan stared at him in surprise. Edgar frowned.
“Nothing. It's just that's the most you've said all night.”
Edgar shrugged. It was true, he hadn't exactly been his usual, order giving, argumentative self. But it wasn't as though he didn't have a good reason. “I guess I ate something that agreed with me,” he muttered. It was supposed to be a funny, but it had already fallen flat before he even uttered the words.
Alan's lips tightened. It almost looked like a smile, but there was no laughter in it, no joy or happiness. Again, he allowed the ill timed comment to hang in the air like a bad smell. Finally, he shook his head. A hand rubbed at his mouth before he spoke, massaging away the tension. “Probably too soon for jokes,” he said quietly.
Still standing, Edgar leaned back. The corner of the couch dug into the small of his back. He folded his arms around himself and squeezed tightly. “Yeah,” he agreed.
Suddenly, he didn't feel like fighting any more. It was as though his own stupid comment had somehow knocked the motivation out of him.
But that didn't mean he was willing to let Alan take that kind of a risk. He knew how it would end if he let him go. One human walking into a vampire lair in the middle of the night, he wouldn't have a chance. The vampires would overpower him, and Edgar would wake up in the morn... evening still a half vampire, with Alan either dead or in the same position.
“What's the first rule of hunting?” he asked again.
Alan sighed. “We're not fifteen any more. A lot's happened since we made up those rules.”
The first stirrings of irritation began to gather in his chest and stomach. The emotion grew in intensity quickly, fueled, no doubt, by the monster inside him. He felt the creature riding the waves of emotion to the surface and quickly shut it down. He took a breath and tried not to feel. Not just the irritation, anything. Jesus. He couldn't even trust himself to get angry without it drawing the monster to the surface.
He straightened his posture, set his lips in a grim line, and stared Alan levelly in the eye. “Humor me.”
Alan looked at him. Really looked at him, as though he could somehow look inside him and see the struggle against the vampire's sneak attack. He nodded. “Never go alone.”
“You're right, things have changed. I've broken that rule so many times, but I have never run alone and unprepared into a vampire nest in the middle of the night. I plan, I check the place out first, I take backup if I need it. I go in the daytime if I can. I want this to be over with as soon as possible. Believe me, I do, but I'm not willing to risk your life. Not when you just got it back.”
For a moment, Edgar thought he was going to get an argument, but either because he accepted that Edgar was right, or because he could see the need not to make him angry, Alan backed down. He nodded his acceptance and Edgar felt himself relax, the dropping of the tension in his body pushed the monster back down, where he could feel it settle down to wait patiently for its next opportunity.
“I'll just go and take a look at the place,” Alan said.
“Wait 'til morning, when they're asleep,” Edgar insisted. “Then report back to me before you do anything. I've already snacked on chilled blood, how much worse can it get if I have to wait another couple of hours?”
Alan looked away. He didn't make an attempt to answer the rhetorical question out loud, but the stricken expression on his face was enough of an answer for Edgar. Still less than twenty four hours into it, of course there were fresh horrors still to unearth.
Edgar gritted his teeth and again, tried not to feel. “Right,” he muttered.
“I'm sorry,” Alan said quietly and unexpectedly.
Edgar's head jerked toward him, tilted, he frowned in confusion. “For what?”
“What happened tonight,” Alan explained. “It was my fault. I'm sorry.”
Edgar shook his head. He wanted someone to blame, but that someone wasn't Alan. It wasn't even the idiot halfie who had forgotten that practically waving fresh blood under his nose might not be a great idea. Well, it was kind of his fault, actually. But the real blame lay with Edgar himself. He had insisted on going with Alan, convinced that everything would be fine. He had disrespected the monster inside him, not believed how powerful it really was, and it had demonstrated graphically what a mistake that had been. It was a mistake he wouldn't be repeating.
“I'm the one who insisted on going with you.”
Alan nodded. “But I let you. I should have known what might happen, I wasn't thinking.”
Let him. Edgar felt a stab of irritation at that. He didn't need permission to do anything. He and Alan had been looking after themselves since before junior high. No one let him, or forbade him from doing anything. Not even Alan. He was head Frog. “You think you get to tell me what I can and can't do?” he asked.
Again, the vampire inside him grabbed hold of the irritation, feeding it until it grew into anger, using it to pull itself up to the surface.
Alan took a step backwards.
He had to not feel, he had to squash down anything that might give the monster strength. But it would be hard at the best of times. Now, with his life and his humanity at risk and everything that he believed and knew collapsing around him, it was impossible. He turned away, resting his head briefly in his hands and took a breath. Anger gave way to despair, and he could feel the monster working with that too. He could almost hear it whispering that it was hopeless, that there was no point in fighting it; he would only prolong his suffering before he surrendered anyway.
He took a deep breath, trying to ignore everything. Slowly, he turned back around to look at Alan. His brother hadn't moved. He was watching Edgar warily, but with concern rather than fear.
“I'm sorry,” Edgar said. “I didn't mean to say that, I'm...” The corners of his mouth stretched into a bitter smile. “I'm not myself tonight.”
Alan didn't smile back. Instead, he stepped forward again, quickly re-covering the distance he had put between them. His hand reached out and touched Edgar lightly on the shoulder. No words, no hollow assurances that it would be okay, just comfort through proximity.
Edgar ached to pull him closer. He let him leave his hand there for a few seconds before he knocked it away and backed off a few steps.
“Don't get too close.”
Alan sighed. Edgar know why. They were back to this. But at least if they were back to this, it meant that Edgar was thinking properly again.
“It was my fault,” Alan said again. “I should have realized sooner and made Daniel take... it... away.”
He probably should have, actually, Alan was the expert in this situation. Which is why Edgar should also have deferred to his judgment about what he should do. This was a team fuck up, there was no point arguing over who was more at fault. “I was weak,” he said. “I should have been able to fight it.” He folded his arms and allowed his fingertips to fiddle nervously with the fabric of his t-shirt as his mind drifted back to Daniel's apartment.
“It's too strong for anyone,” Alan told him. “You can't fight it, not fully. You can resist, feed it animal blood to make it quieter, but at the start it's so much harder. Eventually, you'll learn how to control it.”
“Eventually?” That word had a kind of permanence to it that Edgar really didn't like. It made him feel empty and sick, like the collapse of his world had suddenly accelerated. The monster's grip on his emotions tightened.
Alan's eyes widened as he realized what he had said. He shook his head, opening his mouth to backtrack, say that hadn't been what he meant. Edgar wasn't going to give him the chance.
“I don't want to learn to control it.”
Even to his own ears, his voice sounded low and dangerous. The vampire pressed its way into the underside of his skin, still whispering in his ear. He could feel it taking over, stealing his control from him little by little.
He clenched his fists so hard that his too long, too strong nails dug into the palms of his hands. He wrestled it down. One balled fist slammed hard into the top of his leg, driving knuckles into flesh. He felt his nails pierce the skin of his own hand and blood begin to dampen his palm. The monster retreated, just a little. If it were possible, he thought he could feel its amusement.
“I want it out of me!”
It was half a cry of frustration, half a sob that cracked his voice. He wasn't even thinking about control any more.
“Yeah,” Alan's eyes closed briefly, unable to look at his brother's anguish. His voice dropped to a barely audible whisper. “I know.”
Slowly, Edgar peeled open his hand. His usually well chewed nails had grown above the tips of his fingers. They were sharp, and red with his own blood. In the palm of his hand were four perfect half moon shapes where they had pierced the skin. The unbroken skin around the wounds was slick with blood. He stared at it, fascinated. It looked normal, like human blood, but it wasn't human, and the monster didn't respond to it.
He dropped the hand to his side, pressing it against the fabric of his pants, soaking away the worst of the blood. He turned away in embarrassment at his outburst.
Vampires get angry, rage takes over in them much more quickly than in a human. Now he knew why. Even his emotions were no longer his own.
“Do you want me to go?” Alan asked.
Edgar looked at him blankly for a moment as the question penetrated his skull, them he nodded. “No, but I think it'd be better if you did.”
Alan nodded. He glanced once around the trailer before taking a step toward the door. “What about the garlic? I could...”
“Leave it.” Edgar told him. “Just... leave everything as it is. Come back tomorrow and we'll decide our next move.”
Alan pushed down the handle and allowed the door to swing outwards, filling the trailer with silvery moonlight and night air. He hesitated and turned back. “Edgar...”
Edgar watched his brother's eyes flick quickly to the refrigerator before they turned to him. The refrigerator that contained a bottle of blood that only a few hours ago he had been so certain would stay there untouched. Now he knew that it probably wouldn't. He closed his eyes.
“I'll see you tomorrow, Alan.”
Without saying another word, Alan walked down the steps outside and pushed the door closed. Edgar heard the lock click and listened to the footsteps outside. He heard the truck door open and then close, the engine start, and his brother drive away. In his truck. When he'd had 'Frog Brothers' stenciled on the door, he hadn't intended joint ownership. But then, that was when Alan had been gone.
He forced in a deep breath, inhaling garlic and the lingering scent of Alan, then he opened his right hand and inspected the damage. The fingernail wounds were already healing, beginning to close up like they were hours old. Blood was drying on his palm. Slowly, he raised the hand to his mouth, stuck out his tongue and tasted.
The flavor was metallic and horrible. The monster didn't even stir inside him.
Disgusted with himself, he stalked onto the bathroom, spat in the sink to remove the lingering taste, and then ran his hand under scalding water until the healing wounds began to sting.