Ryan goes to find Spencer.
Brendon didn’t speak, just stared at me with the same expression, and I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t, you know, freaking the fuck out?
“Did you hear me?!”
“Ryan, you’re delusional.”
“It was real! She was real! I’m telling you she’s there!”
“You don’t know what is or isn’t real, right now.” Brendon turned and walked a few steps away. I could tell that even the mention of his daughter was upsetting him. But fuck if I was going to let him just sit here while she was with Wentz.
“Brendon, I’m telling you-“
“Shut up!” he yelled suddenly, knocking a nearby lamp over with a force that made it smash against the wall. He spun to look at me, and his eyes had gone cold and black like the first time I’d seen him. “Juliette is dead! You have no idea what you are talking about, you ignorant, irresponsible newborn!” His chest heaved, and I could only stare at him, half shrinking back in fear. “You have no idea what is or is not real. As far as you know, even this conversation could just be an idea planted in your mind by him! You are his blood now, Ryan. He can make you see and think and believe whatever he wants you to! Trust me. It was not real.” He closed his eyes, rubbing at his temples, and when he opened his eyes again he seemed to be back to his normal composed self. “The idea that Juliette was there was probably planted in your mind because he knew you would tell me. He wants me there. When you escaped, did it seem a little too easy? No security?”
“It’s all part of his plan. You have to try and see through it and decide what is real and what he’s making you believe.”
The whole “being able to plant ideas and beliefs in my head to the point where I don’t know if things are real or not” thing was starting to fuck with me a little. I found a chair and sat, running my fingers through my hair in an attempt to calm myself down. Trying to calm my breaths, I squeezed my eyes shut, rubbing them with my thumbs until I saw red behind closed eyelids.
“Is this real?” I asked.
“But you can’t prove that.”
“No, I guess not.”
I sat quietly for a while, just thinking. Thinking about everything that had happened and how I was going to dig myself out of this hole. And then with a sigh, I stood. “Is Spencer back from wherever you sent him?” Brendon hesitated, but nodded. “I’m going to see him.”
“I really don’t think that’s a good idea, Ryan,” Brendon said in response. “He is human, you’ll have no idea how you’ll respond t-“
“Brendon, I’ve known him since I was two. If he’s real, I’ll know it. It’s the only thing I’m sure of.”
I headed towards the door, but was quickly stopped by Brendon grabbing my arm. “Don’t,” he said. “It’s morning. You don’t want to find out the hard way what happens when you go out in the sun.”
“Oh, yeah. Shit.”
“The Wentz family is in possession of a number of rings that will allow you to walk unharmed in the sunlight. My family used to have many, but they were lost along with my parents and siblings.” Pause. “Maybe if you live through all this you’ll be able to get one.” He smiled a little, the corner of his mouth just barely turning up, and he let go of my arm.
“If you’re so set on seeing your friend,” Brendon said, “you’ll have to wait until tonight. You must be tired, as well.”
I hadn’t realized until he had said so, but I was exhausted. Yawning involuntarily, I nodded. “Yeah,” I said. “I’m really tired.”
“I’ll show you to your new room,” he said. “The one you were in before is on an outer wall and it’s no longer safe for you.”
He led me deep into the house. It got darker and darker as we walked. Before I would have hated that, but now it was comforting and made me feel safe. He opened a door, finally, showing me to a room furnished in typical Victorian style.
“My room is across the hall. Find me if you need anything.” After I walked in he turned to leave, starting to close the door behind him, but I stopped him.
“Brendon,” I started, and he turned to look. “I don’t know if this is real or not, but thank you. For everything. I would have been dead a long time ago if you hadn’t come to my apartment that night.”
He smiled, a truly dazzling thing, I noticed. “It’s not a problem.”
“No, it kind of is. I’ve caused you a lot of trouble. And I’m kind of a shitty excuse for someone that’s meant to save the world or whatever.”
He laughed and walked back into the room, standing close to me, finally giving up the annoying “hover in the doorway” move. “Ryan, honestly, even if you fuck everything up and destroy the universe and kill me with your own hands, I’ll always be glad that you came into my life.” He took one of my hands in his and raised it to his lips, kissing the back of it gently before smiling and walking out of the room.
For the rest of the night, through all the rest of the shit that was happening, all I remember was hoping beyond hope that that was real.
As soon as the sun set and I was able to find some clean clothes, I left. Brendon wasn’t awake, but I had to find Spencer as soon as I could and I hoped he would understand. I was finally starting to develop a sense of direction, and finding my way back to Las Vegas wasn’t hard. Before I knew it I was outside my apartment, all fixed up. You couldn’t even tell that a fucking car had crashed through the wall. It was almost midnight, and I hoped Spencer would be awake. The only thing out of the ordinary was that my car was gone, and I swear to god if Spencer had done something with it I would kill him. Not really, but I mean, maybe.
I got up to the door and listened. No sound came from inside. I cursed silently; he was probably asleep. I found the hidden key on top of the doorframe and let myself in, stepping over the three squeaky floorboards right inside and closing the door silently, locking it again. Looking around, I noticed that the apartment was dirtier than he usually kept it. Not that it was, like, dirty, but there was just a lot of stuff lying around. Empty beer bottles littered the counter and I frowned, hoping my friend wasn’t descending into alcoholism. I walked soundlessly to the bedroom and peered through the doorway. Spencer was sleeping, sprawled out on top of the blankets, hugging a big pillow. I smiled a little – at least the fact that he sleeps like a frickin girl hadn’t changed. Standing in the doorway, an unfamiliar but pleasant smell hit me. It was warm and decadent and made my stomach tighten up in a way that wasn’t altogether uncomfortable. I realized instantly that the tightness was hunger, and the smell was Spencer. Closing my eyes for a moment, I took a few deep breaths and tried to calm the urge I felt to, well, you know. Eat him.
When I was fairly confident I had it under control, I walked in and shook him gently by the shoulder. “Spencer.” He didn’t wake up. “Spencerrrrrrr.” I shook him a little more, earning me a sleepy groan and a half-hearted smack on the arm. I laughed. “Spencer, wake up.” I shook him again, and this time his eyes opened. I could tell at first that he didn’t really realize it was me since it was so dark, but I watched recognition, then confusion, then alarm cross his face. He sat up.
“Ryan? Is that you? What the fuck, where have you been?!”
He jumped up and went to turn on the light, but I grabbed his wrist and stopped him. A shiver ran through him, and I remembered how cold Brendon’s skin had felt to me the first time I’d touched him. Under the delicate skin of his wrist, I could feel his blood rushing, felt his pulse quicken.
“Just. Don’t freak out, okay?” I asked, still holding onto his wrist.
“Dude, lemme go,” he said, rubbing at his eyes with his free hand.
“Spencer,” I stressed, “I don’t want you to be scared or like, hit me or anything.”
“The only reason I’m gonna hit you is because you’ve been fucking missing for a month, you little shit,” he said, annoyed. He yanked his arm out of my grasp and turned the lamp on, and I squinted slightly, taking a few steps back. I could tell that he noticed instantly by the way he stiffened up. I just stood there, waiting for his reaction, waiting for him to scream or run out of the room or produce a stake to try and kill me with or something.
“Holy shit,” he said after a minute of being frozen. He took a few steps back, but I knew his eyes were still locked on me, trailing over my dumb fangs and dumb crimson eyes.
“You know I won’t hurt you,” I told him. “It’s still me, I’m still me.”
“You’re a vampire.”
“Yeah.” My voice came out sounding as broken as I felt, just hoping that he wasn’t going to react badly.
“Oh my god.”
“Yeah, Spencer, I know, it’s bad.” I sighed, backing up until I hit the wall, then sliding down to the floor and puling my knees up close to my chest. I rubbed at my eyes, starting to feel overwhelmed. It felt good to be home, finally, but things were starting to get to be too much again. Tears started to build in my eyes and I tried to push them back. And then suddenly, he was yelling at me.
“You’re a monster!” he yelled, and I looked up at him with disbelief. “You’re a freak! You’ve evil!” He was stumbling backwards, fingers twisted into his hair. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I thought he would understand! I thought he would help! I felt my chest tighten and more tears came to the surface. I forced them back.
“Spencer, please, you’re all I ha-“
“Get out of here!” he screamed. “Stay away from me and stay away from Haley!”
“Get out before I kill you!” He had a stake then, and I have no idea where he got it. Knowing his paranoia he probably slept with it under his pillow. I stood and took a few steps towards him, hands up in surrender.
“Please, Spencer, you’re my best friend, I need you to help me!” Dejection and betrayal washed through me in waves. My best friend wanted me dead.
“I said get out!” He ran at me, and I didn’t know what to do. I could only stand there, frozen, and I watched in slow motion as the stake made its way towards my heart.