"I’ll write you a step by step guide that’s sure to set your skin on fire."
Okay, so I was impressed.
“What-“ Brendon began but stopped as I pushed him away weakly and leaned over, a wave of nausea taking hold of my body. Brendon’s cold fingers held my hair back, as he rubbed my shoulders gently.
“It’s okay.” Brendon mumbled, as I dry-heaved. I didn’t have anything else to expel from my body. “It’s a slow process.” Brendon muttered, “But you’ll get better.”
“I can’t even walk.” I muttered, horrified. “I’ve never been unable to walk… for as long as I’ve known how to walk.”
“That’s what I’m here for.” Brendon answered. “I’m going to take care of you Madeline.”
But that… that would mean that I would have to completely rely on Brendon and I wasn’t sure how much I liked that idea. I didn’t really have much of a choice though. “I’m sorry.” I finally muttered, “I was trying to make it to the bathroom.”
Brendon said nothing, pulling me from the ground.
I let him easily pull me in to his arms, cradling me bridal style. He walked towards the bathroom and I closed my eyes, feeling quite helpless. “Are you still feeling sick?” Brendon asked, closing the bathroom door behind us.
“No.” I didn’t think I could get anything else out of me, even if I was.
Brendon gently placed me on the bathroom counter, “I’m going to start you a bath then.”
I didn’t say anything as I watched him move gracefully towards the large circular bath tub. He started the water, placing his hand under it to check the temperature. After a few adjustments he left it alone, pouring a wonderful smelling liquid in to the water, which caused bubbles to form. It had been years since I’d had a bubble bath.
Brendon had his back turned to me as he busied himself looking through a cupboard next to the bath. “I didn’t think you’d ever wake up.” He admitted, in a quiet voice.
I wasn’t sure as to what I should say to that. “Well, I’m awake now.” I tried to sound chipper. “You didn’t think I’d give my life up so easily, did you?” I joked. “I’m stronger than I look.”
“So it appears.” Brendon replied, looking at me. He was frowning though. “It was a dangerous thing you did Madeline, running away from me. You could have died.”
“I know but we all do dumb things.” I nervously responded, not liking the way his eyes bored right through me with an intensity I’d never be able to replicate.
“We do.” Brendon agreed, stepping up closer to me. He ended up right in my face, his body angled between my legs, which dangled freely off of the bathroom counter. “But that can’t happen again. You can’t run from me again.” He stared in to my eyes, searching for something I wasn’t sure he’d find. What did he want from me?
“I just saw an opportunity.” I whispered, startled by his intensity.
“Why don’t you stop looking at where running will get you and start looking at what staying will earn you?” I wasn’t sure what that meant.
“I was never one to open my eyes wide enough to see what was right in front of me.” I whispered, confusion grasping on to me.
“I know that.” Brendon sighed, eyes not leaving mine. I was drawn to his, unable to look away. “I know everything about you.”
“And I know so little about you.”
“It’s better that way.” Brendon admitted, looking somewhat ashamed. “My life isn’t one to be proud of.”
“Neither is mine.” If he knew everything about me then surely he would know that. “I’ve killed just for a place to sleep at night.”
“You’ve killed for needs, despite how poorly aimed they were. You killed for money- or things… I’ve killed just to kill.” Brendon’s hand moved quickly, brushing my hair away from my face. I was horribly aware of how bad my breath had to smell. I hadn’t brushed my teeth in three weeks, and I’d just vomited in front of Brendon. I was at the worst disadvantage as he moved closer to me. “I’ve written my name in the blood of children.” Brendon whispered, sending shivers through my body. “And made their mother’s watch.”
“We all go a little crazy sometimes.” I mumbled, finding it hard to be revolted by the information he was revealing. Reasoning really meant nothing, it just gave us something to grasp on to as we stared at the body that once held the life we’d so cruelly ripped away. It was something we tried to use as an excuse as to why we felt nothing- when in reality we were just broken and hopeless- all of us.
“Is that what I am?” Brendon asked, cocking his head to the side. “Crazy?”
“Sometimes I think so.” I replied, “But sometimes I think I am too.”
“I think I went a little crazy when you wouldn’t wake up.” Brendon mumbled, “A little more than crazy. I think it edged towards insanity.”
“What did you do?” I breathed out.
“Do you really want to know?” Brendon’s eyes sparkled dangerously.
“I do.” I answered, nearly out of breath.
I expected something horrible but instead Brendon surprised me, “I didn’t kill anyone. I couldn’t bring myself to leave you.” He ran his fingers through his hair, “I drank blood that Vic got from the Red Cross.”
“You stayed the whole time?” All three weeks?
“Insane, huh?” Brendon asked, watching my expression. “I couldn’t leave you. You looked so vulnerable and I- I wanted so badly for you to wake up. I tried everything. I talked to you. I screamed at you. I tried to control you but I couldn’t even feel you- not when you were that far gone. I thought I was losing you and killing ceased to matter to me.”
“Insane.” I whispered back, eyes widened in surprise.
“I know you want to run from me Madeline, and I know you’ll try at your next opportunity but I just want you to know-“ Brendon paused, eyes still trained on me, “-I will find you. I will always find you.”
“I don’t think you realize how fucked up that sounds.” I whispered, horrified.
Brendon shrugged, “I’m sorry Madeline- I’m so sorry but I need this…” I didn’t know what he was talking about as he leaned in; pressing his cold lips against my own chapped lips. At first all I could think of was my horrible breath but then I leaned against Brendon- letting him guide me through the kiss. I was starting to enjoy it all on my own when he interfered and-
Brendon pulled away with mournful eyes but all I could do was grin at him, like an idiot. “Will you join me in bathing?” I asked, using a tone I didn’t know I possessed.
Brendon stared in to my eyes, right back to where I was sitting- watching- waiting. He was in control again, not me. If he needed to feel wanted so badly then why didn’t he just get a goddamn doll? “Sure.” He finally grinned in response, wrapping his arms around me. I wrapped my legs around his chest and he carried me to the bath, slowly lowering me. As I sank in to the water he pulled my shirt off, leaving me bare. I didn’t cover up because I didn’t want to- or Brendon didn’t want me to. All I wanted was Brendon- but the feeling was faint. I felt more in control than I had last time.
“You really want me to join you?” He asked, after glancing at me.
No. “Yes, please.” My own voice disgusted me.
Brendon nodded and peeled off his shirt, stepping quickly out of his jeans and boxers. My eyes widened as I glanced at him. I felt like a shocked school girl… seeing a man for the first time ever.
It was just weird, in this situation.
Brendon glanced at me, confused. “Is everything okay?”
His ‘doll’ didn’t say anything and in surprise I realized I had control again. “I wish you wouldn’t do that to me.” I whispered, as he stepped in to the water.
“How?” His voice was full of surprise, “Madeline, look at me.” He commanded.
After a second I did, “What?” I spit out, refusing to look below his shoulders. So what if it made me seem like a ridiculous teenager? I didn’t want to see so I didn’t have to see.
“How did you do that?” Brendon asked, reaching out to touch me. I pulled away, as far as I could. “No one has ever been able to snap out of the mood I put them in… without me ending the illusion.”
He hadn’t let me go, of his own accord? That was a surprise to me. I’d done nothing special to break free. I had felt just as helpless as last time. “I guess you’re losing your touch.” I snapped, glaring at him.
“Why are you mad at me?” Brendon mumbled.
“I haven’t even been awake twenty four hours and you’re controlling me Brendon, or trying to. It’s a little unnerving to have someone else in my head- making decisions for me. It’s a little unsettling. I just want to be alone in my own body. I want control of my own emotions, at the very least.”
“I’m sorry- I just needed-“ Brendon paused, not finishing his sentence.
“You needed to feel wanted, I know.” I could tell that I was spot on, and Brendon glanced at me in further surprise. “But unfortunately I can’t just tell you what you want to hear and if I do then it’ll be at my expense. Do you really want to break me like that?” Well, he might want to. Maybe that was a bad question to ask.
“No.” Brendon answered.
“Then please don’t try to control how I feel again.” I begged, “I can’t be what you want Brendon- I can’t. It’s not me. I’m just some girl that made a bad decision and now here I am. You’re just a predator, and I’m your prey. The sooner we both figure it out the better off we will be. It’s a lot easier if you just stop- just stop trying to pretend that you care about me.” It’d been bugging me since I woke up.
Brendon’s eyes widened, “You don’t want me to care?”
“That’s not it.” My voice cracked. “You just don’t care, so you don’t get to pretend that you do. The minute you forced me to want you I realized you would never care, and all you did was reiterate it by trying again. Maybe it didn’t work because I’m still sick. I don’t know. I don’t care. Don’t do it again. I can’t- I refuse to be who you want me to be. If you do that to me again then I’ll-“ I looked around wildly, “Then I’ll kill myself.”
Brendon backed away in surprise, “What? No. I won’t let you.” His eyes narrowed, “You think you’re so clever but even in death you won’t be able to escape me Madeline. I’d change you before letting you die on me.”
“I don’t want to live forever, if it means living forever with you.”
Brendon’s eyes were screwed up in pain. “Please just stop. I don’t know why you’re saying this. You’re just trying- you’re trying to make me angry and it won’t work. I won’t get angry at you. I promised I’d control my temper. Madeline- I haven’t fed all day.” He glanced at me, a look of pure pain upon his face. “Please don’t do this.”
I couldn’t stop myself though. He’d scared me with his foolish words of me meaning something to him. I needed him to know that I didn’t- or rather, I needed to know that he didn’t. “I’m just a human.” I whispered, not aware I was crying until the bitter tears reached my lips, wetting them. “I can’t be who you want. I’m a monster- but I’m not the type of monster that you are.”
I closed my eyes as the water splashed up and Brendon was leaving. He was angrily storming from the room, the door slamming behind him. Why did I do that?
I knew why.
His plan to control my mind had backfired- I had backfired.
I was everything but what he wanted.
And he needed to know it.
Because I couldn’t stand his mouth pressed against mine again.
I would die before that ever happened.
The water began to get cold and Brendon still hadn’t returned. I began to quietly wash myself, wondering if I’d made a mistake. My words were honest- completely and truly. I couldn’t be what he wanted- whatever that was. I was just me. I was just Madeline, just some stupid human who thought she had control for a second, before Brendon stole it all away.
Once I was done washing I stood, hating myself as my knees attempted to buckle again. No, I wasn’t going to fall. I could do this. I took careful steps out of the bathtub, wincing in pain with each step. Once I had the towel wrapped around me I felt a little more comfortable- a little warmer. I hadn’t realized how cold the water had gotten, how cold I’d grown.
Sharp shooting pain encased my entire body with each step I took as I attempted to exit the bathroom. Turns out your feet were a very sensitive area to bruise, and when you did bruise them you were kind of screwed.
I was fine though; I wasn’t a stranger to pain.
The mess in Brendon’s room was cleaned up and he was nowhere to be seen. I gingerly walked towards his dresser, pulling out a t-shirt and a pair of boxers. That would have to do, and he would just have to deal with sharing.
Once I was dressed I dropped the towel to the floor, uninterested in placing it back in the bathroom. I walked towards the bedroom door, hearing something in the hallway.
“Where are you going?” Ryan demanded.
“I’m going out!” Brendon yelled, sounding furious.
“What about Madeline?” Ryan asked, “You were so worried just this morning. What changed?”
I woke up… and Brendon’s illusion of who he wanted me to be shattered.
“She’s easy to miss when she’s not speaking.” Brendon growled out.
“Come on Brendon, she’s been asleep for three weeks. Cut her some slack.” Ryan sounded annoyed, “What did you do?” I wasn’t sure what part of the conversation I missed but it seemed to be changing direction awfully fast.
“What did you do to her?” Ryan asked again.
I didn’t want the humiliation of Brendon discussing what I’d said so I opened the bedroom door and weakly stepped out, gaining the attention of both of them.
“Why are you up?” Brendon demanded.
“Well, did you expect me to wait in the bathtub all night?” I asked, cocking my head to the side as he had done earlier. “Where are you going?” He was now fully dressed.
Brendon sighed heavily and walked towards me. I was overly grateful as Brendon wrapped his arms around my waist, pulling my weight from my feet completely. I leaned against him, relaxing. “Brendon?” He wouldn’t look at me.
Fuck, I was just trying to be honest.
Was he going to treat me differently now? Madeline, you idiot. I hated my lack of intelligence at times. I wasn’t the brightest bulb. Sometimes I was surprised the light even turned on.
“Are you hungry?” Brendon asked, as Ryan watched us.
Something came over Ryan’s face but I wasn’t sure what it was. I couldn’t read the expression.
“I am.” I replied, feeling my stomach growl just in time. “What about you?”
Brendon was surprised by the question, “I am.”
“Then let’s go eat. Unless you were thinking something a little more fresh.” I bit my lip, waiting for his answer.
“I’ll be just fine on blood bags for now.” Brendon replied, “I still mean what I said.” Ryan listened, curiously.
“As do I.” I tried to step down, to step forward- but Brendon stopped me.
“Let me carry you.”
“Fine.” I mumbled, not willing to admit that his ability to carry me places was pretty impressive too. He was strong, and that was hot. He was graceful, and that was hot. He was a lot of really sexy things all wrapped up in to one very dead guy.
Once again he cradled me bridal style, “You’re much too light.” He mumbled.
I just rolled my eyes, knowing damn well that being asleep for three weeks was every girls dream diet. I wasn’t going to complain about the weight lost because I knew I’d gain it back quickly, once I got my hands on some food.
Ryan didn’t follow us, as he disappeared down the hallway.
I didn’t really care though because I was starting to feel comfortable around Brendon and weirdly enough… between us I could feel a heat building, though I had no idea where it’d come from- since he was ice cold.
“Did you want a sandwich?” Brendon asked, rooting around in the cabinets.
I was sitting at the kitchen table, yawning. “Um, actually… Do you cook?”
“I can.” Brendon answered, glancing at me. “What did you want?”
“French toast, if you don’t mind.” I answered, stomach growling loudly.
“French toast is something I happen to rock at making.” Brendon said, grinning.
As he set to work grabbing the necessary items and the frying pan I glanced down at my nails, “Did I hurt your feelings?” Why did I care?
“Yes.” Brendon surprised me with his stinging honesty.
“I didn’t mean to.” I replied.
“Then why did you say what you said?”
“It was the right thing to say. I might not have put it perfectly but words were never something I was good at.” I looked up at him to find him staring at me. “And you scared me.” I admitted.
“I scared you?” Brendon stopped what he was doing and just stared, “How?”
“You said I was important to you.” I bit my lip, tasting blood upon it. “I wasn’t expecting that-“ More blood dripped from my lip, and Brendon’s eyes narrowed.
“Brendon, did you eat anything yet?”
“No.” He whispered.
“You should eat.” I urged, nervously trying to wipe the blood from my lip away.
He watched with his eyes specifically trained upon my lips.
This wasn’t good.
“You are important to me.” Brendon’s hands were fists now, and he was shaking- just barely.
Where was Ryan?
“Brendon- please eat.”
I breathed out deeply, closing my eyes for just a split second. When I reopened my eyes Brendon was leaning over me, eyes darkening. Shit. He leaned forward the rest of the way, his lips brutally smashing against mine. I whimpered as he sucked my bottom lip in, suctioning out the blood. The pressure was intense; the kiss itself was intense…
I started to tremble against him as his fingers found my neck. He was moving so slowly but I felt it all- deeply, down to my bones. The suction upon my lip grew and then- then it was gone.
My eyes flew open, though I hadn’t been aware of closing them. Brendon was breathing hard- though how I wasn’t sure. He didn’t breathe, so how could he breathe hard? I doubted air was coming out but he was struggling, as he stared me down… eyes as black as the night.
“Brendon, please.” I stared him down, not even flinching as he brushed the hair away from my face.
I knew what was coming and all I could do was brace myself.
“Please don’t hurt me too badly.” I whispered, letting my eyes fall closed- tears slipping out.
There was a loud crash and then it was Ryan’s voice that I heard. “Brendon! Brendon- snap the fuck out of it.” Ryan’s voice was calm but I could hear the panic- it wasn’t well enough hidden. “You don’t want to hurt her. It’s Madeline.” Ryan’s voice was rough and as I summoned the strength to open my eyes I saw that Brendon had Ryan shoved up against the wall. They were staring each other down dangerously.
Brendon’s hand was around Ryan’s throat- and though Ryan didn’t need to breathe… It still looked as if Brendon was hurting him. “You’ll never forgive yourself or me if this happens.” Ryan said, staring in to Brendon’s eyes.
I moved, making noise that only they could hear- as both of them snapped their attention to me.
Ryan fought to regain Brendon’s attention. “Brendon. Hey buddy, remember- Remember how it felt to hold her.” What was Ryan talking about? “Remember the feel of her warm skin against yours, warming you.” Ryan spoke as if it was from experience. “You don’t want her to lose that glow, and you don’t want to be the one to take that heat away from her.” Ryan’s voice cracked, “Remember what that did to me? I won’t let you do that to yourself. You don’t want to be the one who takes the life of the one you love.”
Brendon’s eyes fell closed- his face still turned towards me. “You can lie all you want.” Ryan spoke softly, “But I saw you holding her at night when I came in to check on her. You held her tightly and you cried Brendon- You cried. You wanted Madeline to wake up and now she’s awake. Will you take that from her?”
Brendon moved so quickly that I could barely process it and Ryan moved just as gracefully, stopping at my surprised command, “Stop.” Ryan paused, watching us fearfully. I didn’t know Ryan had hurt someone- someone he actually cared for. And though I knew it was entirely possible that Brendon would hurt me… I didn’t want him to hurt his best friend as well- and he was all wound up, eyes burning darkly as they found mine.
He stopped inches in front of me, hands on the wall- trapping me, right where I wanted to be anyway. I stared in to Brendon’s eyes, feeling courage come from somewhere unknown. “I asked you to be gentle.” I informed him, my voice not even trembling- much to my surprise, and delight, “I expect you to be gentle.” With that I tilted my head to the side, allowing him access.
All I could hope for was mercy- from his monster within.
Brendon leaned down and my eyes met Ryan’s- he looked shocked. I smiled but it was forced. I just didn’t want him to interfere because I was frightened that Brendon would hurt him.
Brendon’s teeth barely grazed my neck and I tensed, expecting horrifying pain. It never came. With complete and utter surprise I realized that Brendon was gently kissing my neck. I turned to look at him, noticing that his eyes were back to their beautiful brown color. “Hi baby.” Brendon mumbled, shyly looking away.
“Hi.” I mumbled back, relaxing.
“I don’t know how you do that to me.” Brendon whispered, in awe.
“Do what?” I couldn’t help but grin, “Completely rile you up? I’ll write you a step by step guide that’s sure to set your skin on fire.”
Brendon grinned in return, “I knew from day one that you would rile me up… but I never expected you to be able to calm me down.”
“That was all you.” I blushed, nevertheless. “Thank you.”
“Oh, you know… not draining me of my blood. I kind of need it to survive. It’s a pesky downside of being human- but you should know that already.”
Brendon laughed, “I like the way you look when you blush.” Whoa, were we flirting? I was just so amazed that I was still alive. I chanced a glance at Ryan and he looked just as surprised. Brendon cleared his throat. “I need to go eat. I’ll be back shortly to make your food.”
“Okay.” I mumbled, and then he was gone.
I still wasn’t used to that.
“Think what you want Madeline-“ Ryan gazed at me, in utter amazement, “-but that’s love. Maybe not the kind that you daydream about as a human, but it’s love and it’s real… and it’s all for you- from Brendon.”
I couldn’t respond but it didn’t matter because Ryan wasn’t waiting for me too. He left the room as quickly as he’d arrived and I was alone. I was shocked, and surprised, and a little shaky… but more than that…
The skin upon my neck where Brendon had kissed me tingled- and I liked it.