Battle for Blood Ch. 03byEliya©
Hi everyone! Enjoy this chapter. The romance is coming, I promise. It's taking just a little longer for the characters to come together. Again, please leave comments, suggestions, anything you like.
She felt terribly weak. Her body screamed from the beating she had taken. There was a frightening heaviness as if her body was still dead around her. It was as if every part of her would have to be brought back, kicking and screaming from death. She tried to stretch her sore muscles. They locked under her skin, cramping and causing more pain. She felt like she was going to be sick but there was nothing in her stomach. Finally she felt the hand that was holding hers and the soft touch of fingers against her forehead.
"Shh. It's alright. Your safe now." She recognized the deep male voice. Where did she remember it from? It rolled over her in waves. The vampire. He had almost killed her. The bite deep in her neck. Her eyes flew open. She tried to pull her hand away. She wanted to scream but her mouth was dry and her throat didn't seem to work. She looked up into his clear gray eyes. He looked so different now. His face was no longer drawn and dry. His skin was still pale but not sickly, set off by his dark, black hair. His eyes were bright and clear, no longer the hollow eyes of a starved creature, as they looked down at her from his seat perched on her bed. She was on a bed. The pain had been so bad when she first woke up she hadn't realized. The room around her was bright and rustic. She tried to push herself up, to see where she was but her limbs were not responding well. He shushed her again, brushing her hair from forehead soothing her.
"Amy," he said to her with a meaningful look. Why was he calling her Amy? Who was Amy? "Amy," he said again as if trying to make a point. "You fell during our hike, tumbling off a steep hill. You were attacked by a wolf and badly injured. I carried you till I found this place and the people here have helped us. I'm going to get the doctor and something for you to drink. Be calm. You are recovering fast and we can leave soon." She tried to focus on what he was telling her. Her brain still felt heavy, like her consciousness was a great weight on her physical strength. She understood and gave him a weak nod. She closed her eyes again. "I'm so sorry," he whispered. "I will see you heal, I promise." His voice changed suddenly as he left for the door, taking on an eager excited tone. "She's awake! Doctor, come quick!"
The girl closed her eyes. She sank back into the soft bed, willing her muscles to relax. She felt a tug at her inner elbow and she realized she was hooked up to an IV. She tried to focus on what the bag contained, searching out the pulse of her arms and sensing the change as the blood flowed past the tiny tube inserted into the vein. Just fluids. She was fine. She tried to recall the last few days. What did she remember? She had been sent to the compound and had been informed correctly at the number of were wolves guarding the pit. The schematics had been accurate and she had found her way to the vampire's prison easily once she got past the guards. She winced as she recalled the battle. Her gun had been useful but ultimately she was forced to fight them, dodging around trees, taking them one or two at a time. She focused on her back, feeling the bones that had bruised against a tree when she was thrown. It was healing. She was healing. Remarkably fast even for her. She raised up her hand, squeezing her fingers into a fist and stretching them out again. Very fast.
The door flew open and a middle-aged woman came in with a stethoscope around her neck. The girl looked up at her as she came over smiling.
"Welcome back," the woman said to her. "I'm Shelly. I've been taking care of you the last few days. Do you mind?" she asked as she gestured towards the girl's body. The girl shook her head slightly. The doctor pulled back the covers. The girl could see she was wearing someone else's very large pajama shirt. The woman began listening to her heartbeat and her lungs. Then she pulled back the shirt to reveal a sickly yellowing bruise that reached across her entire right side. "You got bumped pretty badly here. Tell me if any of this hurts too much." The woman's soft fingers ran over the bruise and the slight bumps of her ribs. The ache in her side sharpened to a point under the pressure but she could take it. "Not too bad?" the girl nodded.
She closed her eyes again against the light. This was all very confusing. The vampire had just apologized. That wasn't right. What she knew of vampires they never apologized for what they did to lesser beings. She didn't even know they had it in them. They had tricked her. They told her to feed a starving vampire and like a fool she had, not even giving herself an escape route. If she had taken a moment to think about their instructions she would have realized the trap. But she was too eager to get out of the dark hole they had put her in. She would have done anything to get out. And what of this vampire? They hadn't told her his name, just that she was to get him out. What made him so special? All things she should have considered before jumping into battle with a pack and a half of werewolves. Idiot. And now? Here she was, in a human bed with a vampire caretaker. What did he care? She would never understand them.
He returned with a bottle of water and a glass of orange juice. She tried to sit up to accept the drink but she was still finding it difficult to put weight on her muscles. The doctor reached under her to help prop her up. The girl looked over at the vampire as the doctor settled her to a half seated position. She could have sworn he looked angry, even jealous. He moved stiffly towards the bed, as if willing himself not to hit the doctor over the head with the glass. He sat down next to her, the bed dipping from his weight, and he handed her the juice. The citrus cut through the dry, sticky feeling in her mouth and the sugar hit her blood stream like a drug. She drank the entire thing down. The two of them looked down her expectantly.
"Thanks," she croaked. She tried clearing her throat first. "Can I have some more?" Her voice sounded a little closer to normal. The vampire took the glass and walked out again, casting a worried look back at her. She remembered. He didn't have to tell her again. The doctor sat down where he had been and looked down at her.
"Amy, can you tell me what happened?"
The girl nodded, swallowed again. "We were hiking. We were up on this steep drop off and I got stupid. I wanted a better view so I climbed out on a tree limb. He told me not to. I fell, against everything, rocks, bushes, everything. I landed against a tree." She winced and touched her ribs. "I couldn't move. I could hear him calling out for me so I stayed put till I heard something close by, growling. I tried to crawl away but everything hurt too much. I had a stick but I couldn't do much with it. The wolf came and..." she trailed off. "I don't remember anything after that."
The doctor patted her arm. "Don't worry. You are doing marvelously. You've been out for a few days." The vampire came back in with the carton and another glass. She felt his presence more strongly now. She had no right to, but she felt calmer when he was there. She mustered up a smile for the benefit of the doctor. She accepted the glass and drank it down. "You've been out for about 5 days," the doctor continued. "You'll probably want to sleep again soon and when you wake up we'll get you something to eat. Don't push yourself. We are all here to help. John and Greta are here too. Someone will always be around if you need something." The doctor got up and moved to the door. "Anything else you need?" The girl smiled slightly and shook her head and the doctor left the two of them alone.
The vampire moved back to his seat next to her. He looked concerned. She was now very confused. No vampire, in her experience, had ever given a second thought to her well being if it didn't suit his or her own purposes. "Are you feeling okay?" he asked. She nodded.
"It was a good story." She paused, not sure of she should ask him what was on her mind but too tired to find a good way to put it. "Why...why are you still here?" he looked at her surprised. "I mean, why...all this...why do you care?" Suddenly she didn't want to know the answer. She didn't want him to leave. She had never really spent that much time with humans. She had no idea where to go or what to do now. If he left she'd do what? Her home was destroyed and she never felt at home there. She had no kin, no friends. The only person she had trusted, her Teacher, had sent her to be vampire food. And, the irony did not escape her, now the vampire who almost killed her was the only creature on earth she had any connection to.
"I have some questions for you." Information, he had stayed for information. Of course he did. He has places to go. He's so important they had wanted to save him. He has a life to go back to. She clenched her jaw. She would be fine on her own. It's not like she had ever had much company anyway. "I also wanted to see you heal," he continued cautiously. "I did not mean for what happened...I tried to stop myself." If she didn't know better she would have thought he seemed upset. He stopped and pushed whatever image he had in his mind aside and smiled at her. "Lets begin at the top. What is your name?"
She looked at him, surprised. That wasn't terribly important information for him. Who cares? She'd tell him everything and he would leave her. She'd find her own way. She swallowed a lump in her throat. The idea of being alone had never been so distasteful to her as it was now. "Shane."
"You can call me Cole."
"But that is not your real name?"
"I've had many names. This will do for now."
She shrugged. She felt a tug of sleep deep within her beaten body. It reminded her of the state she was in. Even she couldn't believe she would come back from that.
"How am I still alive? I felt my heart stop beating." He looked at her sharply.
"What do you mean you felt your heart stop beating?"
"Just what I said?" She was confused. Was he simple?
"Do you...do you hear the heartbeats in this house?" he asked. She closed her eyes and listened. She had done this a million times with her father. It was harder for her from her weakness but she could make out several people in a limited range.
"Two women and a man. There is also a family of sparrows nesting in the attic." The vampire gave her a look she didn't know how to interpret.
"So you are not human?" he asked finally.
"Mostly human," she yawned. She didn't like talking about her family.
"And what else?" he pressed her. He seemed eager, jut like the others had been, to find out what she was. For all she knew she was a freak accident of a terrible experiment. The sooner she told him the sooner he would leave. She bit her lip. He wasn't looking at her like she was some sort of three-headed dragon. She felt an overwhelming desire to trust him, not like she had trusted the Teacher, but something else, something real. He reached out in her silence and tucked a curl behind her ear. The gentleness of his touch ran through her. She hadn't even pulled away.
"My father was a vampire, newly made and still mostly human. My mother was all human, she hadn't noticed that he had changed."
"But that's impossible. Vampire children will kill the human mother before term."
"I heard they tried it before. Without much success." Shane felt her stomach turning at the thought of what had happened to those women and her mother. Guilt she had long since pushed down rushed up through her weakened defenses. She would not cry. She clamped down on the emotions welling in her chest. He watched as her eyes went from bright, threatening tears, to cold and closed off. His heart leapt for her. What on earth had happened to his girl? "My father was a researcher, a scientist, I don't know. He was mad. He fed my mother his own blood throughout her pregnancy. He said he was trying to keep her alive. It didn't work, not all the way through at least."
Cole took a breath. For centuries they had been trying to find a way to birth vampires instead of making them. During the transformation there was still a chance at fertility for the new vampires. But the women lost their children as the blood stopped flowing in their veins and the men's bodies stopped producing sperm. They had tried using human women but the effects were terrifying. No woman had ever survived past her second trimester.
"Who else knows about this?" He couldn't fathom what would happen if they began trying again.
"The people who took me. But they had already tried my father's method. It hadn't worked before me." Cole shook his head. He looked disgusted. She shrank back. He probably found her repulsive.
"Who took you?"
"I'm not sure. They came to the house. They sort of invaded. My father had..." She stopped, took a breath and started over. Why was he flustering her so much? "After I was born and my mother...died, my father moved to a remote location. He wanted to track my progress without anyone finding out about me. Once I had finished progressing and it seemed I had reached the limits of my particular situation and my abilities plateau-ed, he kind of lost interest. He began traveling again, leaving to find newer experiments. He must have mentioned something to someone along the way. About a year ago a team invaded the house. They must have been vampires because I didn't hear them coming. They killed my father and took me. I've been kept in a building for a year with the Teacher who trained me and fed me something to make me stronger. Then they came to me and told me I had a mission. I was to go and get you and bring you back to them. But...they lied. I guess you know that part."
Cole was looking at her with that look again. She had no idea what it was in his face. She squirmed in the bed, feeling her muscles loosen slightly. The ache was subsiding and her head felt clearer. Her throat hurt again and she reached for the water bottle. Her fingers fumbled on the smooth plastic and she knocked the bottle off the stand. Cole caught it with vampire speed and handed it to her.
He watched her drink, his brain spinning with questions. She looked so weak right now. His heart went out to her. She couldn't be more than twenty by her looks. Even if she didn't notice it he could feel the intense loneliness in her voice and her story. He felt her loneliness matched in his own centuries-long fight to find where he belonged. She yawned again.
"You need to sleep more." He glanced out the window; it was midday. "It's been a long road but you are getting better. We'll be able to leave soon."
Her drooping eyelids flickered back open. "You aren't leaving me here?" The question shot through him. He reached over and brushed his fingers along her cheek as she shut her eyes again.
"No Shane. I'm not leaving you." He heard her breath deepen and her heart slow down. He reached up and closed the curtains and turned off the lamp. He moved to the other side of the bed and lay down on the covers. He needed his own sleep. He was not completely recovered. His body called out for real blood. He silenced the craving, all in due time.
He started to think about the information Shane had just given him. She knew very little but possibly more than she thought. He'd have to get more details from her later. A child of a vampire. Impossible. But here she was. It made sense though. She moved like a vampire, heard like a vampire, but she was living flesh, human at the core. But how can one be separated from the other if given at birth? The doctor had given her human blood and it took. She must be mostly human, but she did taste so different. How is it that her father, a barely made vampire was able to accomplish what centuries of research had not? More importantly, why had they sent her, this miracle of epic proportions for his kind, to die at his hands? He may be powerful and ancient, but he was not unique. What had they given her to make her stronger? He had a dark suspicion about that. He'd have to wait for tomorrow to confirm it. The thoughts swirled in his head but the sunshine made him tired and soon he was sleeping soundly beside her.
Shane woke up tucked under his arm, her head resting on his shoulder. He was still above the covers but somehow they had managed to find each other in their sleep. He was still sleeping; the last rays of the day's sun were leaving deep red impressions of the curtains on the far wall. Her first instinct was to pull away, fast. She was unused to physical contact that wasn't in training. But her reactions were slow and before she could act on it she realized how nice it was to be up against his warm body. The lack of heartbeat didn't faze her but she was always surprised that vampires managed to stay warm despite their condition. She lay quietly, listening to the three humans move around the house. Her muscles were still sore but she felt stronger than she had when she first woke up. She wriggled from under his arm, trying not to wake him. Moving to the edge of the bed, she gingerly placed one foot and then the other on the ground. Her arms shook slightly as she pushed herself to her feet. She clutched the bed as she steadied herself, cursing under her breath as long stiff limbs flexed and shook under the stress. Finally she felt stable enough to attempt to make it to the bathroom door off of the bedroom where she had been sleeping. Three steps from the bed her knees gave out. She gave a sharp gasp as she readied herself for the impact of the floor that never came. He was there, in a second, holding her up.
"Where you headed?" he asked casually with a smirk.
"Going for a run, obviously." She looked up at him. He smiled back. "Actually, I just need to get to the bathroom."
"Say no more," Cole said and hoisted her into his arms. "There are many more pleasant ways to go than walking, you know."
"I didn't. I should really arrange something more permanent. Walking seems such a nuisance after so many days of being carried." She hoped he'd keep talking. It was terribly embarrassing to be carried to the toilet.
"I'll see what I can arrange." He set her down gently in the bathroom and disappeared out of the room in a flash. For that she was grateful. Her chest felt hot and her cheeks burned slightly. She had never craved attention before. She should really stop acting like an idiot.
He caught her again as she ran out of things to hold onto on her way out of the bathroom. The heat in her body grew, past the point where she could write it off to embarrassment. He frowned when he touched her skin but he didn't look surprised.
"Are you feeling alright?"
She gasped as the heat from her chest radiated up causing her face to feel like her cheeks were on fire. "I was, I don't know what this is. I feel like I'm burning up." He set her down on the bed, sitting up. The sheets felt wonderfully cool for a brief second before the heat from her body invaded. She had never felt this before. Her head swam and she thought she might throw up. She heaved though there was nothing in her stomach to come up. "No. Alright doesn't quite describe it." She tried to smile at him. He looked very serious.
"Do you know what they were feeding you to make you stronger?" Cole asked.
"No, something bitter that was mixed in with other things like fruit and stuff."
"Did it taste bitter on the sides of your tongue? Almost tingling?"
She looked at him surprised, "Yes! Do you know what it is?"
Cole got up and started pacing the room. He looked very angry. "They gave you vampire blood. Any other human would have gotten sick and rejected it. It seems to help you, enhance you or whatever. That may be why your mother was able to drink it. Most humans will change if they are given enough blood while in a dire condition; vampire blood takes over if the body's defenses are down. If they are healthy than the blood wont take." He looked at her very seriously. "For vampires, drinking the blood of another can be intoxicating, like a drug. When two vampires make love, for instance, they have been known to bite each other to heighten the experience. You of course, have a completely unique make up. Your blood is unlike either a human's or a vampire's. The problem is, it can become an addiction. For a vampire who has fed on their own kind for too long they will build up a resistance after many years. The effects are terrible. If you have been being fed vampire blood for a year than you have been forced into a serious addiction. The heat is the withdrawal. I have seen it happen before."