A Dark Night with a Dark Stranger Ch. 13byBellstoires©
CHAPTER 13- PATRICKS FLEDGLING
The next few days were occupied with test after test of Bell's ability. At the same time the coven had been on high alert for Kiara; Ragon had been convinced Kiara would want to attack Bell after what had happened at the Halloween party. At night everyone took it in turn to check the perimeter of the house, while Ryder had been forced to wake during the day, when he normally would have been curled up with Patrick, and make sure that there were no mortals hanging about. On the fifth evening, Sandra and Larissa were patrolling the street, checking that there was no trace of Kiara's or Matthew's scent. Although no attack had occurred, and there had not been so much as a whiff of Kiara; the group were determined to get Bell to learn how to use her powers.
"Have you ever heard of the boy who cried wolf?" Bell asked Ryder, after his fourth failed attempt to get her to stop time. "One day you might be in a real life and death situation, and I will just ignore it because I think you're faking it."
Ryder, who had been pretending to have a seizure after drinking some strange concoction, stood up abruptly.
"I even used toothpaste to imitate frothing at the mouth," he said, impressed with his resourcefulness.
She was in part grateful that the coven and Ryder had taken such a proactive approach to try and get her to gain control over her power, but at the same time, she didn't know if her heart could take all the elaborate stunts they were coming up with. Ryder, who had fallen head over heels for Patrick, had remained with the group since the night of the Halloween party. He had returned home a few times, but in the whole he had become a permanent fixture. Part of Bell was glad about this, because it meant that she wasn't the only human there anymore, and part of her was concerned, as she didn't necessarily approve of his becoming a source for Patrick. Now as Ryder began wiping the minty froth away from his mouth, he moved over to where Bell stood in the kitchen, adding coconut cream to a large pot of chicken curry.
"Does that hurt?" Bell asked, trying to be casual, as she indicated the large bite mark on his neck.
Ryder shrugged, apparently indifferent at his being Patrick's meal ticket.
"Don't you ever let Ragon, you know..." Ryder asked curiously, after getting a spoon to steal some of the bubbling curry.
Bell looked at Ryder confused. Since the Halloween party, Bell and Ragon, although they had not said it out loud, were pretty much official. They slept in the same bed, held hands, and kissed like they were lovers. Still, Ragon had never so much as hinted that he wanted to use Bell for her blood. For a moment this thought concerned her. Surely if he had wanted to take blood from Bell he would have asked.
Bell shook her head saying, "never."
"Not even when your, you know, in the throes of passion?" Ryder asked incredulously.
Bell had seen Ragon's fangs appear only once when they were having sex. She knew that it was an instinct for him to draw them, but he had been mortified at the time. Clearly Ragon had no intention of feeding off her. For a moment Bell considered Ryder, her eyes resting on the swollen area of tissue where two large holes showed pink underneath a large swelling. Was there some kind of expectation that vampires who date mortals were supposed to be fed from?
"Did Patrick ask you before he bite you?" Bell asked, wanting to know if there had been some kind of arrangement between the two, or if it was simply that he could not control himself.
"Not the first time," Ryder admitted, "but we spoke about it afterwards. I think it's kind of hot."
Bell blushed. Clearly vampirism was not something that Ryder found even remotely strange, which Bell thought in enough of its self was weird. Still, it was interesting to see how another mortal-vampire relationship operated. Asides from what she had seen in the movies, or had read in Dracula, she had no idea what was normal, and it never seemed to work out well for the human characters in those stories. Bell moved over to the large dining room table, which sat in the corner of the living room, next to the veranda door, and served up two large plates of Rice and curry. She had gotten use to cooking and eating large meals at once, having found that living with vampires wasn't exactly conducive to maintaining a healthy diet. For a while Ryder toyed with the folk in his hand, as if chewing on something in his mind instead of his food. He was just about to speak when Bell reached quickly for the remote and turned the volume up on the television, listening intently to the report.
"Police are on high alert, as murders in the Brisbane area continue to baffle them. Today, at 3.45am, a body was discovered in Taringa. 24 year old Chelsea Livingstone was found dead under an overpass servicing a train station. The coroner's office has not, as of yet, released a statement, but the police have said, that they are treating the death as suspicious."
For a few minutes Bell continued to listen to the news report, and then Ryder spoke, completely side tracking her.
"Actually," Ryder said, now whispering, "Patrick has offered to turn me."
Bell's folk fell from her hand, spreading rice and curry all over the table and down her shirt, "what?" she asked alarmed, the news report instantly disappearing from her thoughts.
Had Ryder been trying to provoke a response from her that would result in her stopping time, this would have been the perfect moment, but he continued to stare at her, as though they were having an entirely normal conversation.
"Yea, the other night, when were, um, in bed together," Ryder said.
"But you're not going to do it," Bell responded dismissing the notion.
"Well..." Ryder began.
"But; what? You can't! I don't understand; you have only known him for a few days," she stammered, completely astounded.
"A few days to some people is like a life time to others," Ryder said prophetically.
Bell scoffed, shaking her head in disbelief.
"You can't honestly tell me that you want to spend the rest of... forever with him?" Bell asked, now picking the pieces of rice off the table, and hoping that Patrick wasn't upstairs listening.
"Would it be so horrible if I did?" Ryder asked defensively. "I am not saying that we are going to get married, hell I am not even saying that we will stay together, but, I don't know, I really want to be one; a vampire."
Bell couldn't believe her ears. Was this really happening?
"I don't understand how can you make this choice so light heartedly?" she said.
"Just because it's fast, doesn't make it light hearted. I'm gay Bells, it's not like I have a God to fear losing my soul to, or damnation for drinking blood or whatever," Ryder replied, a slight edge to his voice.
"But what about Patrick; do you love him?" Bell questioned.
"Love?" Ryder replied.
"Yes you know: love. The kind of feeling that makes you want to spend the rest of your life, or the rest of your existence with one person. How can you feel that after such short a time? How do you know it is right?" Bell asked.
"Oh Bell. You're sill the same girl, so innocent and unknowing. Do you have any idea how long I have been looking for someone who understands me? Can you imagine how impossibly happy I am that he wants to turn me? This isn't just a gay thing; if Ragon said to you that he wanted to change you, that he couldn't live without out, can you honesty tell me you wouldn't cut your own wrists to hasten the process?" Ryder asked.
Bell looked at him in concern. Yes she liked Ragon, hell maybe she was even starting to love him. But she had spent a hell of a lot longer with Ragon and still wasn't prepared to say that she would want to become a monster to be with him.
"Why can't you be together the way you are now? Why rush into things?" Bell asked.
This question was close to her heart. It was one that she absolutely feared; the question of time.
"One lifetime to us is like a few years to them. They live forever; today I'm young and beautiful and he likes me; but tomorrow, tomorrow I am some old person who he is paying for private care in a nursing home. I don't want this to be a fleeting moment; I want it to last forever," Ryder replied.
His words had hit Bell like a ton of bricks. She felt winded, as though all the air in her chest had gone and her lungs were too stiff to refill. Was Ryder right?
Bell thought for a few moments, unsure how to phrase her next question, "but, why... Wouldn't just a few more weeks together be better, to wait, just a little longer?"
Ryder sighed, "have you ever fallen for someone hard; the kind of love that has you up all hours of the night talking on the phone, or else planning secret meetings in the city? It's the kind of love that you almost always only feel when you are 17, when everything is fresh and new and perfect. When the feeling of a kiss or a touch means everything and you can't think of anything else except being with them. That's what I feel like, I don't care if this feeling last five minutes or five centuries: I'd risk it," Ryder declared.
Bell sat with her head in her hands for a long time. Ryder was still staring at her, his mouth slightly parted in anticipation of a response, but it did not come. He had answered all her questions. There was nothing left she could think to ask. She didn't finish her curry, but took her half eaten plate up to the sink and began cleaning up. Ryder continued to eat in silence. When he put his plate into the sink and rinsed it he smiled half-heartedly at Bell, but did not speak. Moving out of the kitchen he walked up to Patrick's room. His mind was made up; he wanted to be a vampire.
"Ahh," Bell said a few minutes later, feeling Ragon creep up on her as she placed the last dish into the dishwasher, "maybe we need to get you a bell?"
Ragon smiled, kissing her shoulder and then running his tongue along her collar bone, punctuating this with soft kisses on her neck, until finally he reached her mouth and kissed her passionately. For a few moments, the conversation she had just had with Ryder was swept from her, but then, when the kiss ended she looked at Ragon, concern drawing her eyebrows low.
"What's wrong?" Ragon asked.
"Maybe you're just a bad kisser?" Clyde said, as he blurred into the living room and jumped on the couch. "I'd be happy to act as a comparison if you like Bell."
Bell smiled weakly, but Ragon moved over to Clyde angrily. He had had just about enough of Clyde. He reached down and threw one fast punch, hitting Clyde unaware in the jaw. Bell, who was still in the kitchen, watched the scene unfold.
"Well I guess I deserve that," Clyde said, now standing from the sofa and rubbing his jaw.
For a moment neither of them moved, and then Ragon let out a low growl and Clyde smiled. Before Bell knew what was happening the two were brawling. Clyde had moved over to Ragon and shoved him in the chest. He fell hard, hitting the coffee table, whose wooden frame broke under his weight. Quickly Ragon jumped to his feet, and charged at Clyde, forcing him out onto the veranda.
"Stop this," Bell screamed, following the pair onto the balcony.
For a few moments they continued to wrestle, each throwing fast hits at the other, blurring so quickly that Bell couldn't tell who was who.
"My moneys on Clyde," Cambridge said, walking out towards Bell.
He was followed by Thomas and Sameth.
"Can't you stop them?" Bell pleaded, her face stuck halfway between a pained and exasperated expression.
Cambridge frowned, but gestured to Sameth and Thomas, then moved quickly over to Ragon and Clyde who were now grappling on the veranda floor.
"Aren't you boys a little old to be fighting?" Sandra said when she had joined them all on the veranda.
Ragon was growling, but one look at Bell had him gaining control of himself, and he stopped struggling with Sameth who was fighting hard to restrain him. A moment later and Thomas and Cambridge released Clyde also.
"What in god's name are you fighting about?" Larissa asked.
Neither responded, but Ragon looked once at Bell, and she instantly knew that they were fighting over her.
"Maybe it's time that you left?" Ragon said to Clyde, his voice malevolous.
"I came for you," he said to Ragon, hurt by his words and brushing his shirt straight, "But I'm staying for Bell."
Ragon had been shocked by Clyde's words, and instantly felt guilty. He had been stupid to let Clyde get to him. Wasn't Bell clearly with him; hadn't she obviously chosen him over Clyde. What did it matter if there was a little rivalry between the two if it meant that there was an extra person protecting her?
"Ok," Ragon said moving over to Clyde.
Clyde shrugged, moving inside and pouring two large glasses of bourbon and handing one to Ragon in obvious acceptance of peace. Bell watched the whole scene in disbelief, and moved back into the house along with the rest of the vampires. She had been touched and confused by Clyde's declaration.
"What's all the commotion about?" Patrick asked, walking down the hallway flanked by Ryder.
As soon as Ryder entered the living room, their previous conversation flashed back to Bell, and unable to stop herself she said, "looks' like I'll be the only human here soon."
For a moment Ragon stared at her, and then Patrick asked, "do you disapprove?"
Ryder was glaring at Bell, hurt by her betrayal of their trust. Right then Bell wished that she could not only stop time, but reverse it. For a moment she tried hard to, hoping that somehow her powers would have advanced; but they did not. She had no idea how to respond, but was mercifully spared having to when Ragon spoke.
"Disapprove of what?" Ragon asked curiously, not missing the exchange between Bell and Patrick.
"Of my turning Ryder," Patrick answered coolly.
"What?" Sandra said her eyes now fixed on Ryder who had stopped glaring at Bell, and was looking down at his feet.
"This isn't really the best time to have a fledgling to worry about," Sameth said.
"He will be my responsibility," Patrick said simply.
Though Bell wanted to say something she did not. She felt guilty enough about bringing Ryder's and Patrick's personal life into the spotlight and did not wish to add insult to injury. She tried catching Ryder's eyes a few times, hoping to convey that she was sorry, but he did not look up at her. Instead Patrick moved over to Ryder protectively and the pair moved out onto the balcony together.
"Well that's just about enough excitement for one day," Clyde said dramatically.
Bell couldn't help but nod her head in agreement. She didn't want Ryder to become a vampire; at the end of the day, she just didn't! There was no way however, that anything that she said would stop him. From what Ryder had told her, it wasn't just about being with Patrick; Ryder wanted to be a vampire. She considered this for a moment. Sure there were things about being a vampire that were appealing, like not aging, being immortal and getting to live for ever. But all of that came at a high price. Had Ryder considered that he would have to watch his parents die, along with everyone else he ever cared about. Not only that, he would have to drink blood. Maybe he would be able to control himself like the others in the coven, but Bell knew that not all vampires had that luxury. Instantly her mind flashed back to Paige, the young girl who had been in the cell opposite her when she had been taken by Kiara. Matthew had killed her in a heartbeat and without remorse. Becoming a vampire didn't just mean you had fangs; after a while humanity faded, making it easier and easier to take a life.
"How long have you known about this?" Ragon asked in a whisper, so that Patrick could not hear.
"About half an hour before you," she replied.
For most of the night there was tension between Bell and Ryder. Most of the other vampires had left to go hunting. Only Ryder, Bell, Patrick and Thomas remained.
A few times she approached Ryder so that she could apologise, and finally on her third attempt he said, "look Bell, I know what you're going to say, but it won't change anything."
Bell blinked, "I'm sorry," she said.
Her apology had caught him off guard and he opened his mouth dumbly to speak, but no words came out.
"It's your decision to make, and even though I don't necessarily think it needs to be made so quickly, I respect whatever you decide to do," Bell said.
"Well, err, thanks," Ryder said scratching his head slightly confused.
After that Ryder moved over to Patrick who was sitting on the sofa reading a book.
"God I'm starving," Thomas said, pacing around the house.
Bell watched as he blurred around the room, making her feel motion sick.
"Why don't you go out, I can watch the kids," Patrick said teasingly, looking up from his book and dog tagging the page of Withering heights that he was up to.
Ryder threw him a dirty stare, but Patrick smiled sweetly back at him.
"Are you kidding me? Ragon told me that I was not to let Bell out of my sight for even a second," Thomas said.
"Um, I think I handle babysitting two mortals," Patrick said, "go eat!"
Thomas seemed to consider his words for a second, his hunger overtaking his better judgement, but then shook his head firmly saying, "No I can't."
"I could go with you," Bell said, and at this Thomas shook his head even harder. "I will wait in the car and lock the doors; you won't even know I am there."
"She has a point," Patrick said. "If you leave now you could get back before the others return."
At these words Thomas stopped shaking his head and considered his options. It wasn't like Bell hadn't gone out hunting with them before, and he wouldn't exactly be breaking his promise to Ragon, as long as he didn't let Bell out of his sight.
He rationalised the logistics of this plan, then moving over to the front door, retrieved a pair of keys and said, "ok, but you don't leave the car."
It was only 10 minutes into their drive when Bell realised that she had just left Ryder and Patrick alone. She thought about what Ryder had said; that he wanted to be a vampire, and hoped like hell that it would not be happening tonight. Perhaps if Ryder had a few more days living with vampires, he would have more time to think and be sure about his decision. Still, who was she to judge him? She was dating a vampire, and she didn't think she had ever met a more caring person. As she thought about this, she couldn't help but draw horrible conclusions about her and Ragon's relationship. What Ryder had said earlier about humans growing old was true, and he wasn't the first one to tell her. She remembered the conversation she had had with Larissa and Sandra. Larissa had turned Cambridge because she didn't want to exist without him, but she had also said that if she had the chance again, she wouldn't become a vampire. Sandra had been turned by Thomas because she was dying, and didn't have a choice, but she still said that she didn't regret this. But Bell and Ryder did have a choice, and Ryder had made his. Bell glanced over to Thomas. She had not really spoken to him about anything personal, but now suddenly felt compelled to, desperate to ease her troubled mind.
"Ok," Thomas said, pulling the car over to the curb, and bringing Bell back to her surroundings.
"Wh... What?" Bell asked confused.
Thomas pointed to a man standing near the side of a deserted street in the Valley. It was raining now; large thick drops of water splattered against the windshield, distorting her view. She had not really been paying attention to where they had been driving, and only realised that they were in the Valley when she looked out and saw a burnt down building: Grace Valley Orphanage. Now as she beheld the dampened derelict building, which had once been her home, she couldn't help but feel a little sad. What had happened to all the children who had been in there, waiting to find a new home?