"Is he gonna... be okay?" Gerard was still bloody from the fight that his group had had with Krishna's main group. His voice betrayed his weariness-they'd been fighting Krishna from ten in the morning until just then, when Krishna had pulled his men out.
"I don't know," Trent answered finally. "How many rebels were lost?" He pulled a chair out from the table and sat down, Gerard following suit.
"I'm not sure yet," Gerard replied. "I know we lost Stephen and Alex... And I think Criss is out. He got a bullet through the leg."
Trent closed his eyes for a few seconds. "Stephen and Alex were both good fighters," he said after a moment, "and good men. How many did Krishna lose?"
"There were eleven, I think. Ray's group got three, mine got four and I think Nathaniel's got four." Gerard grimaced and ran a hand over his face, his fingers skimming over the long, jagged cut that ran down the left side, a few drops of blood that had long since dried on his white tee-shirt. It would probably scar, Trent thought absently. There was a bullet graze that had torn through the shoulder of Gerard's shirt, staining the surrounding fabric with blood. "They fight like hell. But we got some."
"We're better fighters," Trent said impassively. "But there are more of them than there are of us. You made a decent dent today-at the last count, Krishna had one twenty."
"I thought he had more."
"Some of them have deserted," Trent said and shrugged. "Good luck for us. Bad luck for them."
"So we've got-I dunno, forty five now, and they've got a hundred and nine." Gerard sighed and glanced at the door to his left, where Frank was laying.
"Trent, don't lie to me. Is Frankie going to die?"
"I don't know." Trent surprised him by dropping his head into his hands. "Damnit, Gerard, I don't know. I don't know about anything any more."
He raised his head after a moment. "I might have killed one of my friends and I might be killing the rest of you. All of you."
"It's not that bad-"
"Yes, it is!" Trent closed his eyes and his voice was soft when he spoke again. "Gerard, every day I see my people day-more and more each day. Because of me. I just... I just want it to stop..."
Gerard caught both of Trent's wrists. "You're not forcing them to do this. They know-know-that they might die." Trent still had his eyes closed. "Look at me, Trent. They're doing this for themselves, and for you, and for anyone who comes to Santa Rose, so no one else has to worry about being killed anymore. So they don't have to watch their children die just for being their children. So they don't have to watch their friends die for -for living the wrong life..."
Trent opened his eyes and stared at him for a moment. "Thanks, Gerard," he finally said, his voice so quiet, Gerard barely heard him. "I think I needed that."
They both rose after a moment of silence, Gerard releasing his hold on Trent's wrists. "I want to talk to you, Ray, Bob and Mikey," the vampire said, glancing at the clock. "Do you know where they all are?"
"I... think so," Gerard answered quietly after a long moment.
"Find them and bring them back here." The words were clipped, a command, inviting no disobedience. Trent was the competent rebel again, not the despairing leader he'd been only moments before. Gerard nodded and rose, walking quickly out of the room.
Trent rose, too, passing a long, pale hand over his face, walking over to the door on the other side of the kitchen where Frank was laying. Maybe healing. Maybe dying. Trent pushed that thought out of his head and opened the door.
This room was dim, the only light a beam of dying sunlight that illuminated the particles of dust. The beam landed on Frank's bare stomach. His shirt had been cut open and his chest had been bandaged. His eyes were open and for a terrifying second Trent thought he'd died, but his keen eyesight picked up the slow rising and falling of Frank's chest.
Frank's head turned and his dark eyes locked with Trent's. His mouth curled in a weak smile. "Hey, kid."
"How are you holdin' up?" The question was out before Trent had thought about it. Shit. Shit. Stupid question.
"Not great," Frank said fairly, his tone contradicting the emotion in his eyes. "This hurts like a son of a bitch."
"You're gonna be okay. Just wanted to check up on you." Trent moved for the door when Frank's voice stopped him.
He turned halfway around. "Yeah?"
"I don't want to die." The words were stated simply, but Trent wished he'd said anything but that. He could've said he blamed him, or that he never wanted to see him again. Anything but Frank's near-plea.
"You won't." But there was no conviction in Trent's voice as he turned and left.
The remaining members of My Chemical Romance were standing in the kitchen. Mikey and Gerard were sitting at the table, Bob was sitting on the counter and Ray was leaning against the doorframe. They all looked up when Trent entered.
"We need to talk about Frank," Trent stated softly, closing Frank's door behind him. "And I know none of you want to hear this, but..." He leaned against the wall. "As far as I can tell, Frank's only got one option. The bullet passed too close to his heart and severed an artery. We've managed to keep him alive so far... but he hasn't got much longer."
"God..." Mikey whispered, staring at his hands.
"You said there's an option," Bob said hollowly, looking over at Trent.
"No. Trent, you can't do this," Gerard said, horrified, "You can't-"
"I have to."
"Gerard, what are you talking about?" Mikey asked, his brow furrowing. Before Trent could speak-
"He wants to change him!" Gerard's voice was harsh with shock and anger. "Trent, you can't be serious-"
"He's got no other chance."
"Are you sure?"
"I'm sure. It's either he dies or he's changed."
"Is there a difference?" Color rose in Mike's cheeks. Trent was about to speak when he was cut off.
Ray, who hadn't said a word the entire time he was there, finally spoke up. "Yes. If he's changed, he can still live, and fuck, and fight, and if he dies-he just dies. There's all the difference in the world."
Gerard shook his head and when he looked up at Trent, sadness was scrawled flagrantly across his face. "Do it, then. If it's the only way he'll survive. But... don't tell him. Not yet. He can't handle it yet."
"Okay, Gerard," Trent said, a little kindly. "You guys should probably go."
One by one, they left, until it was only Ray and Trent in the room.
"Is this going to heal him?" Ray asked bluntly. "I mean... what's it going to do?"
"Better eyesight... better senses in general," Trent said after a moment. "Speeds up healing. A bullet to the brain or a knife in the heart could kill him. Better reflexes, faster, stronger. He won't age as obviously as other humans. I'm not going to put much in him-enough to heal him. But that's going to be too much anyway. He'll be what most of the pure vampires call a halfling-half-vamp. Like me." He cast his eyes down.
"I don't want him to murder us in our beds." Ray's words were harsh.
Trent slowly looked up, anger flaming up in his eyes.
The man seemed to realize his mistake, what he had sounded like. "Aw, shit, Trent, you know I didn't mean it like that-"
"You think having this blood in us makes us want to hurt? Want to kill?" Trent was bothered at the bitterness in his voice but he plowed on. "We're as simple as a wolf or lion when we're feeding. No, Ray... when we want to hurt, that's when the human mind is in control."
Ray stared at him for a moment longer and walked out. Trent sighed and pulled open the door to Frank's room.
October 5th, 2006
The first thing Frank noticed when he woke up was that he could hear everything. He could hear Gerard and Bob talking in the next room. He sat up, then shut his eyes tightly, expecting to feel the fiery pain that he'd been feeling for the past twenty-four hours.
But there was nothing. Only a dull ache.
He stared down at his chest, the bandages still wrapped around it. He gingerly removed them, then stopped stock-still. What was on his chest didn't even resemble a bullet hole anymore. It was a cut, a fading bruise around it.
He narrowed his eyes against the dazzling sunlight that beamed in through the window. Everything seemed... richer, brighter. The shapes of things in the far corners of the room were more defined, angles sharper. And he could smell coffee in the kitchen next to him.
He rose slowly, still gingerly testing his limbs, making sure they all worked properly. He removed the remainder of the bandages, sure that he wouldn't need them now. Frank cast his gaze around for his shirt, found it, held it up. There was a clean hole where his chest would've been and a ragged blast in the back.
Okay, he wouldn't be wearing that.
He found a hoodie that seemed to have been Trent's at one time and pulled it over his head. Without even thinking about it, he pushed the door open and walked into the kitchen.
Gerard's head snapped up from where he was staring at the coffee maker and the coffee mug he was holding slipped out of his hand. Frank didn't really know what had happened-one second, he was standing outside the door and the next he was beside Gerard, holding the mug, not a drop of the coffee spilled.
He raised his eyebrows slowly and stared at his hand. "Wow."
"How the hell did you do that?" Gerard's voice was awed, then he stopped himself. "Wait. Wait. Shouldn't you be... in... what the hell?"
"I don't know," Frank said honestly. "I just... sort of told my mind to catch the cup and... I did."
"Shouldn't you be, uh, not catching things? Shouldn't you be..."
"I think I should be," Frank said. "I don't know why I'm not."
"Frankie... I don't know how to tell you this," Gerard began quietly. "But you're... a vampire."
But Frank figured that he'd already known that.
"I want you to tell me what happened to you."
Trent's eyebrows rose. "What?"
"To you. Not to the rebels before you. I want to know how you were changed. Why." Frank knew that what he was asking was foolish, if not downright dangerous. Asking any vampire about his past was like asking a parent why their child was diseased.
"Wrong place, wrong time, wrong life. Stumbled across a vamp that had a taste for exotics." He said the words indifferently, as if he were quoting.
Exotics. It sounded like it should be on a sign in a pet store advertising parrots or rare snakes. Hearing Trent apply it to himself was sickening. Knowing that his maroon eyes and white skin made it true was even worse.
"Who was the vamp?"
"The vampire in question was Krishna."
Frank figured that he should have been surprised by this, but he wasn't. "How'd you get out?"
Trent smirked. "Friends in low places," he said crisply. "I made deals with a couple vampires who hated Krishna to begin with. They might not have stopped him from taking a two-by-four to me, but at least they didn't stop me from taking said two-by-four to his skull before they got me out."
"Same friends that supplied you with the guns?"
"There's more than one vampire with criminal connections."
Frank didn't press the issue, but reached in his hoodie pocket, withdrawing his cigarettes. They were outside again, and he gazed at the fallen leaves next to him without really seeing them. He realized, with a start, that it was only a couple of weeks until he was twenty-six.
He'd forgotten. Completely forgotten.
There was a long silence, then Frank spoke again.
Trent's gaze snapped to the other vampire. "What?"
"I asked who Jared was. I heard the vampire I shot call you Jared."
Trent stiffened slightly and said coolly, "Me."
"I was Jared. When Theos... found me, my name was Jared."
"Why aren't you any more?"
Trent crossed his arms over his narrow chest. "Jared was a different person. He was a victim," he said simply.
"You're still Jared."
"No," Trent argued. "Jared was... stupid. He couldn't defend himself."
"Innocent," Frank said softly, laying a hand on Trent's arm. "Not stupid. Did you have anyone? A girlfriend? A boyfriend?"
"One. His name was Greg. He and Jared were... close. Too close for Krishna's comfort, at least. He's been dead for a couple of years."
Trent was silent, hoping Frank would change the subject, but he didn't drop it.
"You don't want to think of Jared as you because he had weaknesses. You're a hunter, so you're not allowed to have weaknesses. A predator doesn't like to admit that it's possible of being prey." Quietly, he added, "And maybe you don't want to admit that the boy Greg dated was capable of killing."
"Jared couldn't make himself crush a spider walking on his bedside table," Trent said, his voice tight. "He was weak and Krishna destroyed him."
"Jared is you," Frank stated once again. "Krishna didn't destroy him-he just made him a little harder, and a little more scared- yes, scared," he continued, ignoring Trent's protest. "Jared didn't need to hunt because he wasn't afraid of life."
After a long moment, he whispered, "You'd rather admit that Krishna won than admit that you were ever prey."
"Krishna did win-that battle," Trent said back, his voice hardening. "He murdered my father and my ten-year-old sister in front of me and there was nothing I could do to save them. I couldn't fight him. I couldn't do anything. I spent a year in his house, little more than a pet, and I couldn't do anything about it until he finally changed me. Jared died in there-his illusions, his innocence, his dreams-"
"Your dreams," Frank interrupted. "What are you now? A vampire, I know that. Anything else?"
Trenton Aniketos was the leader of the rebels. He had a web of contacts and associates, but friends... there were few. He could count them on both hands. He had a love of the hunt. Anything else?
He had Frank. Maybe. He wasn't sure if he had him.
Probably another week or so of life. Probably less.
"Let it go, Frank," Trent said finally.
"What did Jared want to do?" Frank pressed, his voice more gentle now.
"I said, let it go."
Jared had wanted to help people. He'd wanted to go into medicine, or teaching. He had wanted to work with kids, Trent remembered that. Jared had cared about everything.
Too bad everything had been able to hurt him.
Greg's words came to his mind for some reason.
Some people use things-people, objects. They destroy. You're a creator, a builder, a healer, not a user. He'd remembered that line time and time again.
Now Trent was a killer, a rebel. And that was all.