The realisation of why they had done what they did does nothing to make what they had done easier to bear. Although it makes me feel stupid and ashamed I can’t stop myself from crying. I turn and look out of the window, watching the scenery rush past and trying to stop myself from breaking down altogether. I failed.
Resting my forehead against the cool glass, I sob. I stop trying to control it and let it out like a sudden storm, the wind and rain lashing against my mind and soul. I’m glad that Felix isn’t saying anything. I don’t want him to. I don’t want to talk about it, any of it; I just want to be left alone with my misery.
At least the scenery rushing past outside is giving me some distraction.
Oh great now he wants to talk. I knew the silence was too good to last. My only hope is that he won’t want to talk about IT.
“Glory,” he repeats and there is something weird in his voice. I think that it is possibly because he did want to talk about it after all; but I don’t know what to say.
“What?” It comes out more sharply than I had intended because I really don’t know what to say or to. I feel sick and...
“Can you drive?”
Of all the things I was expecting that was the last. As soon as the words leave my lips Felix swings the car hard, right off the road and into the trees of the forest through which we were driving. I’m sure there’s no tract here, we are just rushing headlong through trees, branches whipping at the windows, roots reaching for the tyres and making the steering difficult. I have no idea how Felix manages to avoid hitting trees but it involves a lot of swerving and he seems to be fighting the wheel.
“Felix...get back on the road. What the fuck are you doing?”
He ignores me and I close my eyes, truly believing that I am going to die right here and now. We’re going to hit a tree; I know we are going to hit a tree: it’s inevitable and the only question is which tree out of all those which are throwing themselves at the windscreen are we going to end up wrapped around. Oh well, at least it will solve the problem of losing my natures.
“Oh fuck; Felix, what the hell are you doing? Are you trying to kill us?”
But somehow, against all the odds we aren’t dying yet. I have a scream on my lip but I am literally too scared to let it out.
The sense of relief when I realise the car is slowing is impossible to express. Even though the branches are whipping past just as fast as ever we are definitely slowing down. Maybe we’re not going to die after all.
I crack my eyes open but shut them straight away because, even though Felix was clearly breaking the trees really didn’t seem to be throwing themselves at us any more slowly. I quickly close my eyes again. I know that the trees aren’t really throwing themselves at us but that’s the way it seems and it feels as if they are doing it maliciously.
And then we stop. Felix slams on the breaks and I slam forward into the dashboard. It hurt. “Shit, Felix... I almost went through the window. Couldn’t you... oh fuck.”
I can't believe that I haven’t really looked at Felix since we left the laboratory or that I hadn’t noticed that not all the blood that was covering him had come from the men he’d killed.
His eyes look huge; wide and glassy. He tries to smile but it’s just a twitch. “I’m sorry,” he whispers. “I couldn’t... I... was... and...” He frowns, swallowing hard. “I was going... going to... Should be... be safe. Won't find. Sar... Sar, knows.” The word dies on a sigh as he slumps forward over the wheel.
“Ah hell, Felix. Why didn’t you say something? Why didn’t you tell me?”
It isn’t easy to haul him off the wheel and lean him back. I'm not so strong without Vamp and Felix is slippery with blood. I was stunned when I saw the long angry slashes across his chest which had been leaking copious amounts of blood which ran down his thighs to pool on the floor. I had seen him receiving the wounds but they hadn’t seemed to be... I didn’t think... And he was covered in blood; it never occurred to me that some of it might have been his.
I feel so guilty. I have been sitting lost in self pity and gloom which Felix has driven... us away and himself to the brink of collapse. He only pulled off the road now because he knew he was about to pass out. But beating myself up about it isn’t going to do either of us any good. I have to be practical and the first thing I have to do is stop the blood. That’s not going to be easy considering we are both naked and there is not a single thing I can see in the car that I could use to cover the wounds.
Thinking there might be something in the boot that I can use. I need to get the keys. I get out of the car, very carefully given I have no shoes and my feet are already sore from running across the asphalt. It’s not too bad and I manage to inch my way around to the other side of the car without hurting myself too much.
I open the driving side door very, very carefully making sure that Felix didn’t fall out. If he did that I would not be able to get him back up again so better not to let it happen in the first place. For a moment I am caught, shocked at the sight of all the blood but that really isn’t doing any good so I do what I came here to do and then duck out with the keys in my hand.
“It’s okay, Felix; I’m going to find... something. I... I won’t be far.”
My feet hurt but I have to press on. My hands are slippery with blood and it takes a couple of attempts but I finally have the boot open. I am utterly gobsmacked. The boot is full of... stuff. I rummage through car blankets, reflective clothing, an accident kit with reflective triangle and small cones, shovels, axes, camping stove, vacuum packed food packets; and eventually I find what I am looking for... a huge first aid kit.
My fingers are trembling so much, with cold and shock, and are so slippery, that it takes some time and effort to get the lid off. Wow, it’s filled to the brim. It’s bound to have something I can use. There are a lot of bandages. Well... the might come in handy but I will never be able to get them round him.
Deciding they’re not going to be of much help, I toss the bandages onto the floor behind me. They are quickly followed by plasters, anti septic cream and gauze. All of them might have been of some use but they are too small to make a difference right now and I have to think stopping the blood before worrying about disinfecting the wounds... so the antiseptic spray follows.
In five minutes there is a neat pile of large sterile dressings, two rolls of tape, a pair of scissors and box of painkillers. Further scrounging adds two car blankets, a thermal blanket and a padded jacket which I slip on, myself. I hadn’t realised how cold I am. I manage to fit everything in the pockets of my jacket except the blankets, which I carry.
Felix is still out. He should be lying down; he’ll bleed less if he lies down: although... looking closely at the wounds I can see that they are already closing on their own. I forget how freaking quickly weres heal; and they aren’t really very deep.
I examine the side of the seat and find the lever that reclines it. I fumble with the lever. My fingers are still stiff and, being back with Felix again; having his condition thrust in my face... literally, in this position. It takes me completely by surprise when the lever gives and the seat literally falls backward to full recline.
Felix cries out and it sounds like it hurt. “It’s alright, Felix; it’s stupid me. I didn’t mean to let the seat down that fast. Try to lie still; I’ve got some stuff.”
His voice sounds distant and strange but I suppose that’s only to be expected. “Yeah, it’s me. Lie still.”
I should have brought some wipes to clean up the blood. Will the tape stick? The best I can do is mop up some of the blood with some of the pads. I don’t know where to start. There is a moment of panic but I metaphorically take myself by the scruff and shake. This isn’t doing any good at all. Taking a couple of pads out of their wraps I do the best I can mopping up the blood. I’m afraid I’m going to hurt him.
“Felix, I’m really sorry if I hurt you but I have to do something to stop the bleeding okay?”
“Are you alright?”
“Not exactly. Can you please get on with it?”
I don’t make a snappy comment, as I usually would if someone spoke to me in that tone of voice, which is unusual for me. It seems that the temper comes from one of the others. I close my eyes as a lance of pain shoots through me at the thought of the others; that I might never...
Dabbing at the blood isn’t really doing much good. Much of it has dried; well, that’s a good thing. In fact there are only a few places still bleeding. I forgot how quickly weres heal. I wonder if I’ll still do that. Anyway... they can’t heal from dead and there really is an awful lot of blood. Stopping it coming out is one thing but I still have to think about what’s already come out.
“Most of it’s stopped on its own. I forgot how freakily fast you heal.” Keep him talking, that’s good isn’t it? That’s what you’re supposed to do – keep him awake and talking.
Hell, he sounds really weak.
“Okay, I’m going to stick some pads over the places it’s still bleeding and then I’ll get some blankets and make you warm.”
He’s fading. I can tell he’s fading and he’s so cold. I’m starting to get scared and I don’t know what to say; how to keep him here. Maybe the truth wouldn’t hurt.
“Felix, don’t go to sleep. Don’t leave me alone. I’m scared.”
“Yeah; I’m scared of everything. I’m scared that three quarters of who I am have been taken away. I’m scared that they will find us before Sar does. Most of all I’m scared of what is going to happen to you and that I don’t know what I should do.”
“No, you’re not. Please stay awake and talk to me. I don’t want you to die.”
He actually manages a little laugh. “I’m not going to die, Glory. I’ve had worse. Just... just a... a lot of blood. Feel dizzy.”
“Yeah, there is a lot of blood. I’m trying not to look at it. Okay, all done. There should be no more bleeding. I’m going to get you a blanket.”
“Ok. Don’t be long. I’m too cold... don’t want to...”
“Yeah, yeah, I’ll be right back.”
The sharp twigs hurt my feet and I leave spots of blood on the leaves. Oh well. The blankets are heavier and more unwieldy than I thought.
“Felix... Felix, are you awake? Please tell me you’re okay?”
Oh hell... thank god, I have never been so happy to see anyone’s eyes. He looks drugged.
“Yeah, okay, I have blankets. The thermal blanket is in a sealed package and I can't get it open.” Come on, come on you stupid thing... When it slides slickly out of the bag it is slippery and I almost lose my grip. It crinkles as I catch it and I shake it out. It’s bigger than I thought... good.
The blanket makes a satisfying crackle as I spread it out and tuck him in. God he’s cold. It’s hard to ignore the blood and it’s so much better when it’s covered and out of sight.
“There, is that better?”
“Okay... it will be in a minute. I have two more.” He looks like a cocoon by the time I finish. “Is that better?”
Hell, he’s fading again and I don’t have anything else...
“Wait, I’ll try to put the heater on.” I can’t quite reach the gearstick. I have to lean on Felix and it makes him moan. The smell of blood is overpowering and I have to close my eyes and not look down into the footwell.
“It’s okay... you’ll be alright.”
I knock the car into neutral easily but it isn't so easy, getting a key in with cold and trembling fingers. And then the car won’t start. Cursing, my fingers numb I try again and almost faint when the engine stutters into life. It’s touch and go whether the car is going to stay alive without a foot on the accelerator but it seems to have settled down.
Now I have to find how the heater works. It’s surprisingly complex, but it is a huge relief when it starts to whir. I turn it to high and pray that Sar gets to us before the battery dies.
“I’m going to go back to my side of the car now, okay. I won't be long. Don’t be scared when I close the door. The heater’s on and it’s going to warm up soon with the door closed.” Felix doesn’t answer or make a sound. I hope he hasn’t passed out again.
The car is already warm and it feels good to sink into the seat and feel warm again.
“Are you warm yet?”
What does that mean? Is it a yes or an, I’m about to pass out and don’t have the energy to actually answer you?
“Felix, please talk to me.”
“Yes.” With a sigh, his eyes open again. After a few blinks he gives me a shaky smile. “Much warmer, thank you, Glory. I don’t know what I would have done without you.”
That makes me feel warm inside, but a bit shaky. I’ve done all I can but FUCK. Oh Sar, Sar please come soon.
“Is there anything to eat?”
I am surprised by the question. I would have thought food would have been the last thing on his mind. “Are you hungry?”
“No, for you.”
“You’re white as a sheet. Now that everything is done you’re going to go into shock if you don’t do something. Eat, you’re not so... um... so strong now.”
“Oh... oh yeah.” Thank you do much Felix, after all I’ve done for you, to remind me that I’m only human now. I’m not going back to the boot again. Maybe there’s something in the glove compartment. The content of the box come as a surprise. The guy who owns this car is a complete freak. It looks like he has been preparing for war.
“Do you want chocolate? There is a load of chocolate. Either this guy is cheating on a diet big time or he’s an anal freak who is packing his car for every possible disaster.”
“You really should eat too,” I say, stuffing chocolate into my mouth.
“Huh... no... sorry, Glory I can’t.”
“You need to eat Felix.”
“You need it more.”
“There’s loads. Please have just a little bit, a few squares.”
“I... okay... just for you, just one.”
I break off two and he doesn’t argue. He doesn’t say anything. I have a fleeting moment of panic that he has choked on the chocolate but that’s just ridiculous. If he had choked I would have heard something. I have to stop panicking at everything. Actually... I’m surprised that I haven’t panicked more. I usually... I wonder which part of me was responsible for that.
“Felix, are you okay?”
“I’m still here, Glory.” His voice seems stronger, although I might be imagining it.
“How do you feel?”
“I feel like I’ve been mauled by a mountain lion; but it’s not going to kill me. It’s not deep enough to have done any real harm and the blood looks worse than it is. I’m already healing; so stop panicking.”
“Have some more chocolate.”
When I bend to put the chocolate into his mouth he is smiling and his eyes look less dazed. “I don’t know what I would have done without you, Glory.” His voice is so soft and husky it makes me shiver. Even in this condition he can make me... make me feel...
“Eat the chocolate.”
“Are you trying to shut me up? I thought you wanted me to talk.”
“Yeah, but that was when I thought you were dying.”
“And you don’t anymore?”
“You’re not are you?” My heart leaps to my mouth and I don’t really appreciate it when he laughs.
“Relax, Glory... no, I’m not. I’m going to be fine.”
His smile makes the fear leave my stomach, but now it is replaced by... something else.
“Can you loosen up these blankets a bit, I feel like I’m in a chrysalis.”
“Do you think I should? You were so cold.”
“Yeah ‘Were’... Glory, it’s like a sauna in here. I have a thermal blanket wrapped around me and I fell like a chicken in cooking foil.”
“Thank you for putting that image into my head.”
Actually it isn't easy, from this angle, to get the blankets free. I hadn’t realised just how tightly I’d wrapped him up.
“There... is that better? Oh... ohh.” He must be feeling better. He’s a great kisser. “Be careful. I almost fell on you.”
“Thank you Glory.”
I know he isn’t talking about not being fallen on. I feel warm inside. I want to stay here, just like this, with him looking at me just like that... but the position is hugely uncomfortable and it’s making my back hurt, so I have to sit back again.
“I would have been safer if I’d stayed in the cage.”
“Do you regret it?”
“Not for a minute.” Although it’s not easy he reached for my hand and we lace fingers. He’s warm now. So am I. I feel warm and, comfortable and safe and sleepy...
I jerk awake, startled. I must have fallen asleep. Shit... how long? Felix isn’t holding my hand anymore.
He sounds sleepy. He must have fallen asleep as well. “Are you okay? I fell asleep.”
“Me too. Yeah... okay.” He takes a deep breath and lets it out in a long sigh.
“Does it hurt?”
“Like a bitch. How do I put the seat up?”
“Do you think you should? It might make you bleed again.”
“No, I’ll be okay. This is really uncomfortable.”
“Ok... there’s a handle down the side. Be careful; it comes up really fast.” Of course it doesn’t come up very fast at all. That’s the Cat in him. “You look better.” And he does. In fact he looks a lot better than I feel.
“Thanks to you.” His voice is husky and the smile almost blinds me. My face is burning and I can’t believe that I am blushing. Felix laughs but as he does so the expression fades from his face and his eyes close, alarming me.
“Are you alright? Are you ill? Are you..?”
It doesn’t sound like he’s ill. “What...?”
What am I supposed to do now? I...
“They’re almost here.
“Sar and... and... the others; they’re almost here. They were almost at the lab and they’ve had to turn around but they’ll be here in a few minutes.”
He still can’t bring himself to say Rover’s name.
The wait is to tense. Unbelievably I had started to relax and now I’m on a knife edge. It seems as if Felix has a lot to think about too and everything goes flat and silent.