Brendon Snyder stared off into distance through a window, watching the sun try and peek over the horizon. He glanced back towards the room where Carson slept, hoping that their hasty sun protection was enough for the teen. He could somehow sense his brother parading on the outside of the house they all found, checking things out there for any leaks of light. He cast his gaze towards where Boston and Drew also rested and saw no problems there.
Brendon gasped a bit as a flash of pain crossed over him.
Quickly he took a few steps in the direction he knew his brother to be and the pain faded into nothing. For just a second, he cursed Brandon’s speed, for having stepped just outside the safety zone the two have come to dance within. Such was the price for their other gifts, like being able to stay up with no need to sleep along with the added benefit of not burning in the sun’s rays. Since he was forced closer to the rooms, he made doubly sure that his assessment was correct. He couldn’t really afford to make an error for the others’ sakes – even a few rays of the sun would harm them immensely.
The front door opened and shut. Brendon glanced over the railing that overlooked the front door and saw his twin hanging up the light jacket he wore outside. Without being all that quiet, he also shucked his shoes. Brendon thought back on years long since passed, as he almost felt he had seen this scene many a time before.
“Hey Bren!” he would call once all of his things were put down. “Look at my latest test score! I aced it!” Brandon came up and approached his brother, smiling all the while. The excitement on his face was quite evident. Hardly anything would bring Brandon down from finding out he excelled at his academics. Brendon did his best not to get too angry or upset with his brother.
“That’s… that’s swell, Bran,” he would say emptily, making Brandon cock his head to the side, the smile on his bright face dimming just a bit.
“How’d… you do?” Brandon asked.
“I-I passed but I’d hardly say I aced it or anything…”
Before Brendon could react, Brandon would hug him, trying to comfort him. “There’s always next time, right? I know you’re smart Bren… I know you can do it.”
“Everything’s all set outside,” Brandon’s voice next to him brought Brendon back to the present. Shaking the effects of the daydream, he tried to put on a smile but wasn’t sure how well he succeeded. If he noticed, Brandon didn’t let on. “I think as long as we don’t bring any fights out this way, we might have ourselves a permanent home.” He found a chair and slumped into it. “I’m tired of running. I… I-I just want us to settle down, not have to deal with this shit anymore.”
“I know Bran,” Brendon said. He knelt before his older brother and placed a hand on his one knee. “Hopefully, we won’t have to fight anyone else. Maybe things will get better for us.” Brandon, while not angry, turned his head away from Brendon’s gaze and stared into the decaying wall. After their last encounter, all five of them barely made it to this derelict house up in the nearby mountains. It would stick out like a sore thumb were it not for the dense foliage surrounding the log cabin. The boys barely had time in getting Carson, Drew, and Boston inside as the sleep started seizing all three of them. And by the time they landed on the dusty mattresses and kicked their shoes off, all three were to be out until the sun completed its journey across the sky. Quickly, Brendon readied Carson’s room while Brandon fixed up Drew and Boston’s.
Neither of them said anything for a while, remaining as they were; Brendon’s hand also stayed put and Brandon made no attempts to move it. But eventually, Brandon rubbed his face and stood, Brendon’s hand sliding off his brother’s leg. “I-I’m gonna go outside for a bit and get some more air. I want to see if maybe we can get the beginnings of a security system set up around here.”
“Want some company?” Brendon asked. Before he was turned it would take nearly a miracle to get Brendon to step outside, too busy with working downstairs in the family’s workshop. It was something that Brendon liked, working with the different woods and materials, creating things with his bare hands. Even for his age at that time, he crafted about half a dozen things that both of his parents found impressive, proudly displaying those items around the house.
“If you want,” Brandon said rather stonily, making Brendon eye his brother for a moment. “Not like I can really get away from you, right?”
“Right…” Brendon said as he slowly followed Brandon down the stairs. Both said nothing as the two of them put their shoes on and took their coats in case the sun didn’t warm the air fast enough. The two walked down the path and dipped deeper into the wooded area. As the two walked the songs of mockingbirds and blue jays filled their ears. It was a sound both weren’t quite used to, really only going out during the night when the others were up and about. Brendon glanced back at the structure they called home for the time being. The log cabin had definitely seen better days. The crisp mountain air filled his lungs before ideas started to fill his head, ideas he hadn’t had in quite a long time. We could add another room to the back, over there on the west side. Where the logs there are weakest – it’d be easy to do. Brendon’s ideas kept coming, thinking of maybe adding a basement room if there wasn’t already – they hadn’t had time to fully explore the rather large cabin. It was something he would have to do once the two got back from their walk.
“Bren?” Brandon said, nudging his twin at the same time. A peculiar look crossed Brandon’s face while Brendon blushed just a fraction. “I… I haven’t seen that look in your eye in a long time.” And for the first time in several hours, Brandon smiled a bit. “I like that look. I’ve missed it.”
“Quiet you,” Brendon said. “Maybe I-I did get a passing thought or two about some stuff…”
“Liar. You already have ideas on how to… what do the kids say these days? Pimp it out?” Brendon laughed. It always made him whenever Brandon tried to use the current slang compared to the Fifties-style dialogue the two grew up with. It just didn’t seem to sound right coming out of his mouth. “I’m sure we could scrounge some tools up for you. Like I said – I want this to be our permanent home. I’m tired of all the running.”
“Let’s get back,” Brendon said, both uncomfortable with the topic and a bit concerned. “We shouldn’t get too far from the others in case we were followed here. We can really check out how secure the area is once it’s nighttime.”
The boys turned around, both at the same time getting that sense of déjà vu. They had it the first time they set foot on the property but quickly dismissed it when they had to deal with a few slags that found their way with them. It seemed to the five of them that it was getting increasingly harder to find a good source of blood in the rural area in which all sorts of vampires lived. It seemed that there were too many “chiefs” and nowhere near enough “Indians” to support them all. So some of the baser ones turned to feeding on their new kin, not truly caring where the blood came from as long as it sated their thirst in the long run. Others, like the five of them, refused to turn into such a creature, and just dealt with things as they could.
Brendon and Brandon did have the advantage of doing their feeding during the daytime hours if needed, but the risks were far greater. Especially if they let their hunger go for too long. Once several years back the two messed up and almost got caught in an alleyway of a nearby city the two ran to. They got lucky only when the person who caught them – an elderly woman – collapsed onto the ground before she could alert anyone, her already weak heart giving out completely at such a horrific sight. But it also was a blessing in disguise – they needed to bring some blood to Drew who had forgotten to feed and went without for too long. The hunger had seized him deeply, even going so far to lash out at Boston. Carson had to wrap him tightly in vines just as he almost tore a huge chunk of skin from his lover’s neck, just to feed. It took some time, but things smoothed out in the end between everyone, especially when the twins brought the blood for Drew in a pouch.
But now that they had time to think on it, that feeling wouldn’t go away. Both boys tried to wrack their brains for why they would feel this way. Nothing came to either of them. Each of them scanned the area from the porch of the cabin and the feeling just seemed to deepen. They glanced at one another, each slightly nodding towards the other, both recognizing that each of them had the same feeling. Neither wanted to ask any questions even if they burned their tongues, dying to be asked. They just couldn’t think if they were the right questions that would break the spell the old house had on the boys.
Dismissing his feelings, Brendon felt his stomach rumble. “Bran… we’ve put it off too long again. We have to feed. Soon. Before we do something one or even both of us might regret.”
Brandon looked down at the rotting boards of the porch from his seat. “I-I know.” He too felt the hunger pains ripple through his body. Even if he was able to come off as indifferent at best about having to feed, in reality it really bothered him that he had to. He had, in life, hated bringing harm to anyone – Brendon included when the two had some altercations. It was one of his policies to do no harm to any living creature. He had aspirations to be some sort of doctor, veterinarian, or healer before he had been mysteriously turned the moment Brendon was – if he could get past the notion that he might have to temporarily hurt someone in order to make them better in the long run. He could still hear his parents’ voices in his head, admonishing him for bring yet another sick or hurt animal into the house. It was Brendon’s idea to build a small shelter outside for all of his charges, thus keeping it an unspoken agreement between him and the parents that he could bring them home and tend to them as long as they stayed out in that animal hospital. “I know…”
Brendon moved over to sit next to his twin. “How about we go out and do it now? We can clean up before the others wake up. If I recall, it is hunting season so there’s bound to be a few hunters up in the woods.” Brendon didn’t voice the idea that he could stage the bodies to look like a wild bear or mountain lion attacked an unfortunate hunter. He would make sure Brandon wasn’t watching as he would tear away the skin that showed the fang marks. “This way the others won’t have to see you covered in blood.”
Brandon trembled a bit but tried to contain his doubts from Brendon. He wished he could actually feel almost indifferent to feeding, but even after fifty years of this life… it never got easier. Not for him. Each time his fangs sank into the exposed flesh of the weak human that happened to be his latest meal, during that time he couldn’t think about anything except the feeling of his body getting replenishing fluids of life from a living, breathing person. It was after the event, the carnage that he saw… that he caused… it almost made him vomit any of the blood that made it to his stomach back up. It always unnerved him for at least a day or two afterwards, if not even a full week of shutting down, grieving for the life he had to take to sustain his own. He never felt this way about the beef or chicken he used to eat, but then again he didn’t have to do the killing. He just pretended that those meats he consumed came from a magical land where the meal was just created. Not killed.
If he was on his own, he’d have gone insane long ago.
As much as he got on his nerves sometimes, Brendon helped to ground him, helped him to forget about the feedings as best he could. Part of him resented being coddled each time after he fed, but the rest of him actually felt a bit relieved. Brendon spent most of the daylight hours after those times trying to help Brandon reconcile things with what he had to do. It was a part of his atonement for somehow bringing him into this life.
Brendon’s ears pricked up a bit at some nearby sounds. Voices, almost. He strained to listen as he continued to watch Brandon internally kick and scream at what was about to happen. The sounds seemed to draw closer. And indeed Brendon was right. He heard a voice – no, a few voices. He could tell they tried to be quiet in the brush but to his ears they failed miserably. From how far he judged them to be, he guessed there to be two to four people. Easy enough, if approached the right way. He slapped Brandon’s leg as he stood, flexing his muscles. “C’mon.”
Brandon stood and followed Brendon, but mostly out of reflex. “Where are we going?” Somehow he knew to lower his voice – Brendon had started speaking quieter as well.
Brendon swallowed a bit. He never liked deceiving his twin, but he almost always had to when it came to feeding time. The only times he didn’t was when the bloodlust was strong within his brother. Then it wasn’t too bad – Brendon just had to make sure to stay out of the line of fire, so to speak. “I want to go for another walk. I thought I saw something over that way.”
Brandon eyed his brother almost skeptically. “Okay…”
The two crept through the woods silently, Brandon reluctantly following behind his brother’s deliberate moves. But as the two neared their destination, even Brandon now heard the voices. Just as the two of them saw the hunting party, Brandon grabbed Brendon’s shirt, bringing him to a stop about four hundred yards away.
“What?” Brendon hissed, his fangs all but ready to drop at the prospect of a meal.
“W-We can’t do it t-to them!” Brandon hissed back. “I-I mean… look!” Brendon obliged, albeit unwillingly. The two of them saw into the woods three bodies sitting within a clearing. Two adults in their thirties, or so the two guessed. But sitting off to the side a bit was a boy, no older than fourteen. Brendon almost ignored his brother’s attempts to be even more difficult than normal, but he stopped when a third adult walked into the clearing – this one a woman – confirming his estimates from earlier. Just as Brendon almost went in blind, he stopped when the adults started to talk.
“Blaine, I told you it was too early in the season to come up hunting. We were lucky to even get that three-point.” The man speaking walked by the kid, who seemed content to work on the deer that was felled in the thrill of the hunt. The twins watched as the tough-looking woman sat near the boy and slapped him in the back of the head.
“We’d have gotten that seven-point if it wasn’t for this little shit!” the woman shouted, offering the lad an additional swift kick in the back – he wasn’t fast enough to dodge it as he tried to skin the buck they managed to bag. She glared at the two men. “Whose bright idea was it to bring this bastard anyway? Can’t get my aim right with this cunt following us around.”
Brandon watched with nearly abject horror when the bigger of the two men – Blaine he guessed by how the name was tossed his direction earlier – stood up and grabbed the kid’s hair. “I believe the lady asked you a question, boy!”
“I-I-I’m s-sorry!” the kid cried out as the light brown hair on his head went taut in the grip of Blaine. “I-I didn’t m-mean to scare th-the buck away! I’m sorry!”
“Sorry doesn’t get us money, you stupid rat!” the other man finally spoke, standing and closing the child inside the triangle. He wound back and kicked the kid straight in the chest, sending him backward into Blaine’s shins.
“Get the fuck off me faggot!” Blaine shouted, kicking at his back. The boy tried to scurry away but the woman managed to grab a hold of the shirt on the kid. Still trying to contort to freedom, the sound of fabric tearing echoed off the trees and soon enough, the boy found his freedom at the cost of baring his upper torso to the still chilly air. And that’s when Brandon gasped.
“What was that?” the woman snarled as the action before the twins came to a sudden stop. The adults all started to glance around, having heard Brandon’s surprised sound. But he was no longer surprised, now only angry. A firm believer in karma, he would delight in making what went around to come back around to those fuckers. His fangs dropped but a hand on his arm made him look over – Brendon shook his head.
“No… not like this, bro.” Brendon’s own fangs disappeared, causing Brandon to instinctively copy his brother. “Here… I have an idea. Follow my lead.”
The boys heard the sounds of guns cocking and being loaded. “Who’s there?!” Blaine shouted, twirling around with his rifle at the ready. Frequently his right eye went to the scope but he couldn’t see anything. He knew he heard something out there and, if it was another hunter witnessing something that he or she shouldn’t… well, there’d be an unfortunate incident of a weapons discharge, purely by accident of course.
Right through their head.
“Hiya mister.” Blaine whipped around at the closeness the voice sounded. Surely he would’ve heard the boy – rather, boys – come up on him. He prided himself on being able to outsmart anything in these woods, having hunted in them since he was ten years old. Not even Carl – his older cousin – could beat his tracking skills. And he was about to teach these little brats from interrupting him and one of the lessons he had to teach his sister’s boy – he only had him since she was in rehab. He didn’t even want the shit. If he could, he’d quietly dispose of the nuisance during this trip somehow. Maybe another accidental weapons discharge.
“What do you boys want?” Blaine asked icily. His grip on the weapon tightened.
“We got separated from our dad out here in the woods. He told us to find a hunting party – much like yourselves – if we ever got lost out here. He told us the woods could be a very dangerous place.” Brendon’s eyes glinted a bit, but its meaning slipped by the man. Brandon’s eyes were on the lad, shivering as a gentle breeze swept in. The bruises, both fresh and fading, made him sick at these adults. But as Brandon watched the scared child, he could see the kid’s eyes almost screaming at him to get away. Carl stepped into Brandon’s line of sight, blocking the boy’s body from him. A sneer was on the older man’s face as he seemed to finger the revolver’s handle attached to his belt.
“Is that so?” Blaine mused, scratching at his chin. “What do you think, Dawn? Should we help these two poor children out?”
He stepped to the side, just as Dawn snapped the butt of her shotgun back in line, cracking the air around all of them. “Yes, let’s. Let’s help out their daddy by getting rid of these little fuckers. Interrupting our fun and all. Gotta teach them respect.”
Brendon’s eyes started to glow as the fake friendly smile he adopted faded instantly. “Respect is earned, not taught.” And then he dropped his fangs into place.
“Wha… What the hell is this?!” Blaine shouted, seeing Brendon’s eyes. “Carl, get your ass in–” Blaine’s words were cut off prematurely as Brandon’s fangs sunk deep into the man’s neck. His jaw chewed on sinew and muscle, coaxing as much blood to pour from the artery and into his body. A renewing sensation coursed through his body, the hunger pains diminishing. But he was oblivious to the sight of Dawn raising her shotgun towards him.
Brendon wasn’t. He sped in with blinding speed and gripped the woman’s wrist. He felt her muscles contract, her finger in the process of squeezing the trigger. So instead of stopping the action, Brendon cracked her forearm enough to aim the gun at Carl, evoking a scream from the woman. The blast tore through the forest before each pellet ripped through Carl’s upper arm, the limb not protected by his hunting gear. That arm, which held his revolver, dropped the gun as he screamed in agony. Brendon fluidly slipped from Dawn’s side and stood behind Carl. Quickly grabbing the man’s head, Brendon used his superior strength to easily snap the man’s neck. Like a marionette with its strings cut, Carl’s now lifeless body slipped to the ground.
Brandon was having some difficulty staying attached to his source of nourishment. Blaine wasn’t going down willingly. He had twice knocked Brandon from his neck only for the boy to grab an arm and break it before going back in for more blood. Blaine’s arms hung limply at his side, finally having no more fight in him. The man felt his life force slipping away before it followed after Carl’s.
Brendon, also needing to feed, had latched onto Dawn’s neck, suckling hungrily. He had his body wrapped around the rather strong woman’s upper body, pinning her arms to her side. She tried to shrug him off but Brendon was stronger, faster than she and adjusted as needed. It didn’t take too long before she also succumbed to the twin’s superior speed and strength. Both boys nursed at the necks they had, drawing strength from the now nearly lifeless bodies.
O-Oh God… I-I-I’m gonna be next!
That thought, from the boy, stopped Brandon cold. Having gotten his fill, he slowly turned towards the boy. He glanced down at himself before he locked eyes with the frightened kid. Brandon was a mess – blood covered his shirt and pants, no doubt had some around his mouth as well. The boy clearly wanted to run but was unable. Brandon had noticed a darker coloring to his light jeans, starting at his crotch. He had wet himself in sheer terror.
And then his emotions kicked in.
While he wanted to save this boy from his abusers – that was evident by their earlier actions further enhanced by all the healing bruises along his body – he didn’t want to add to his troubles. He felt terribly guilty for making him witness their rather blatant murders, even if they deserved it. Brandon scanned the kid’s mind and it was totally blank. No thoughts ran through his head, frozen in fear.
“I-I’m sorry…” Brandon whispered before he ran away, tears dripping from his eyes. Brendon, sensing time was growing short before he’d have to follow lest the pain would kick in for the both of them, picked up the now limp form of the boy in a fireman’s carry, having passed out the moment Brandon started to run. It wasn’t easy, but Brendon managed. I hope Carson has an idea on what to do with this kid…
Night had fallen and Brandon was a mess. He sat in the far corner of the living room, facing away from everyone. Dried blood still caked his face and clothes, not bothering to clean up from his earlier feeding. He had his face buried in his hands and cried. Not for the people that helped to bolster him for another month, but for the nameless boy that lay in a bed only a few yards away. He hated the fact that he had to look so gruesome to someone so… so cute.
It was the main reason he wanted to leap in when he did, but Brendon had stopped him. Brandon couldn’t believe the reaction he had in watching the boy getting abused. To add to it all, the hunger just… took hold of him before he could control it and then the face he saw… utter horror when they saw eye to eye. Brandon would never forget that face. Never. Especially in one that suddenly meant nearly everything.
He wasn’t one to believe in love at first sight, but if he felt the way he did about someone he knew nothing about, it was the only logical choice to pick. He had, in that instant, fallen for the boy that would most likely stay far, far away now. Brandon glanced at the ceiling for just a moment before his face went back into his blood-caked hands. If only things could’ve been different…
Brendon sat in a chair at the extreme edge of the safety zone. Carson, Drew, and Boston all sat nearby but conversed amongst themselves. His eyes were on his brother. He had tried to console his twin, like he always did after a feeding, but this time…. Brandon pushed his brother away angrily, saying he wanted to be left alone. Brendon knew that he hated to feed but having a witness and a child no less… Brendon could only watch as Brandon’s body wracked with silent sobs, the vision of that innocent boy Brendon thought gone back for a time. Carson sitting next to him broke his stare from his brother.
“Carson… he’s so miserable right now…” Brendon said quietly. “He feels so bad, for scaring that boy.” Brendon fidgeted as he nestled in a bit against his boyfriend. A frustrated tear slid down his face. “I… I don’t know if I can fix it this time.”
“Shh…” Carson soothed as he tightened his arm around Brendon. “We’ll have to wait and see what happens with the boy upstairs. Maybe after the initial fear dies down… the kid will be okay, which will make Brandon happier.”
“I-I just don’t understand why Bran is so upset this time. We’ve been caught before…”
“Isn’t this the youngest one so far, though?” Carson offered. The older teen glanced at Brandon who still sat with his face buried in the corner of the cabin. If the older teen didn’t know any better…
“What does that have to do with anything?” Brendon said somewhat naively. But as the silence grew and minutes ticked past, something clicked inside the younger boy. He didn’t see it at first for he hadn’t necessarily seen the signs of such an emotion. Brendon had been blessed with having to deal with only one significant other. Seeing Brandon so upset, so torn over something that – while normally he gets upset over – was way over the top even for that particular twin.
How did Brendon know that Brandon was heart-broken?
Immediately, Brendon felt for his brother even more so than normal. Here he was, trapped in a situation that was well beyond his control – had been for fifty-odd years – and alone. Well, alone in the sense that there was no romance in his life. And he had it paraded in front of him for that same length of time, day in and day out. The moment Carson, Drew, and Boston stirred from their dead sleep, Brendon more or less attached himself to Carson – minding the distance that separated him and Brandon – while Drew and Boston made faces at one another. He even complained about it – in action, not words – only a week or so ago, before that mysterious lady in red showed up with her SWAT team squad. It was written all over his face and body language. And had been for some time. Brendon, while recognizing the need for Brandon to find someone, it didn’t fully hit home since he was attached in that way. The longing, the desire had been sated even before Carson turned Brendon. And time only jaded him further.
“I’ve been such an ass…” Brendon whispered, mostly to himself.
“What makes you say that, buddy?” Carson breathed into his ear. It garnered the appropriate response in Brendon’s body and the teen did his best to ignore the stirrings within him.
“All this time…. He’s been so alone, and I didn’t fully pick up on it…”
Carson grimaced. “Honestly? I don’t think I realized what we all were doing to him over the years.”
“What’s that?” Boston asked as he plopped on the arm of the couch on Brendon’s side. “And why’s the kid so mopey this evening? I know he hates feeding but this seems a bit worse than normal.” Boston glanced between Carson and Brendon. “Was it because he was caught in the act?” Boston understood the desire to want to feed in as much seclusion as possible. In the beginning he had the same want, hating that he seemed so animalistic when the hunger hit him. Even when he started going out with Drew, he hated his boyfriend seeing him so carnal. But slowly he got over it. But he understood that some vampires never do.
“I don’t think it’s necessarily because he was caught,” Drew said as he sat next to Carson’s left arm on the arm rest. “It’s the age of the person that caught him.” Drew for some reason knew what Brandon was going through. Not totally but the romance side of things, sure. Before he met Boston, Drew had felt so empty, so alone in his life. Nothing seemed to matter. Not his friends. Not his family. Not even his own life. It’s the reason he ended up getting turned. Hoping a life in darkness would be better than the one he had, it didn’t pan out the way he hoped at first. But then he accidentally ran down Boston while fleeing the scene of a feeding and the two met later, after Drew had cleaned up. And everything went more or less great from there. “I don’t think he expected love at first sight to be like this.”
“Love?” Brendon piped up. “My brother… already loves that boy upstairs?” Wonderingly, Brendon’s eyes drifted towards his twin. His crying still hadn’t let up since they arrived back home. Now the strange reaction he had when Brandon saw the boy in his brother’s arms… Brendon couldn’t believe how angry and confused he became so quickly. He could still see the fading scars on Brandon’s arms from the few vases and ceramic items that he broke in his fit of rage. A mask befell Brendon’s face. He stood up.
“Buddy?” Carson questioned. “What are you doing?”
“Fixing things, if I can,” he said quietly. “I need to make right by my brother.” With a quick glance, Brendon judged the room the boy rested was still within the safe zone distance and made his way to it. With little sound, he opened and closed the door to that room. He studied the boy and could see why Brandon thought the way he did. Given the injuries he sustained before they met along with the new ones they got to watch being inscribed over older ones, Brendon couldn’t deny that the boy’s soft face, his gentle features, the shade of his light brown hair all seemed to work for him. So it wasn’t that much of a stretch that if Brendon could want to date him that Brandon would too. In fact, he seemed like he could be Carson’s younger brother if the timing would work out. Before Brendon could study the kid any longer, he started to stir.
Slowly, the pain seeped into his consciousness and he groaned lightly. Nothing like I haven’t dealt with before… the boy thought to himself sadly. But when his eyes opened, he realized he wasn’t in the right cabin. This one seemed a lot older and had a funny smell to it. His eyes darted around for a few seconds before he spotted Brendon by the door. His eyes grew wide at the realization that what he thought was a dream wasn’t. One of the boys that killed his tormentors stood before him. At first he wanted to scream in terror, a part of him still frightened of what he witnessed this other, older boy do with such ease. But then… a weight floated off his body. He just came to the conclusion he had been set free. It didn’t fully squelch that fear of what he saw, but it did make him more receptive to the idea that he wasn’t going to be harmed.
If he was, he’d already be dead.
“I’m not going to hurt you,” Brendon said slowly. “No one here is going to hurt you. Understand?” The boy nodded slowly. “Can you tell me your name?”
“W-Will. Will Auckland.” Will gulped. “Wh-What’s yours?”
“My name is Brendon Snyder. The other boy that was with me… that was my brother, Brandon.” Slowly Brendon stepped a bit more into the room, making Will tense some. “Remember… I’m not gonna hurt you.”
“What… a-are you?” The boy pressed into the headboard, making the metal joints holding it to bed groan with the strain. “I-I mean… regular people d-don’t just… k-kill people. A-And drink th-their blood…”
“I think you know what we are,” Brendon said quietly.
“V-Vampires?” Will asked cautiously. Brendon nodded.
“I just wanted to let you know that we didn’t mean to scare you. We actually wanted to help you since we saw what those three adults were doing to you.” Brendon let out a somewhat hollow laugh. “It just didn’t help things that we needed… to feed right then.”
“Y-Y-You’re not g-gonna like… s-save me for a sn-snack or something… a-are you?”
Brendon laughed a bit. “No, we’re not. All five of us won’t need to feed for another month or so. We’re not going to hold you prisoner here. As far as I’m aware, you’re free to go whenever you wish.”
Brendon decided that words were taking too long. Will still seemed too skittish around Brendon after what he saw. So he delved into the boy’s mind. Mostly he saw the fear the boy still had, which was understandable. Who wants to watch even the people they hate being torn to shreds before their very eyes? But once Brendon got past all the fear and anxiety, he started to see what he was after – the boy’s interests. He saw that Will was an avid soccer fan, at least he was before he druggie mother sent him to his uncle’s – Blaine. His life only went downhill from there. Will no longer had time for his other hobbies, such as writing, drawing, or oddly enough babysitting – the boy used to sit for a neighbor of his.
Brendon saw the real reason the boy wanted to babysit. The child he watched was a five year old girl, but the teen also was friends with the older brother of the girl. But… as Brendon watched Will’s synapses fire in the form of recollection, he witnessed every interaction Will had with his friend Bryan. How the two would wrestle when they just hung out, the older Will nine times out of ten winning, that one loss almost all the time thrown for Bryan’s benefit. One in a great while that youth would surprise Will with a new move and get the victory. But aside from all the normal boyish activity, Brendon sensed something that Will wanted to reject or ignore. Each time Will touched the skin of Bryan’s back or chest when the boy’s shirt rode up… it sent a chill into the older teen. But each time Will dismissed the feeling as something related to the wrestling. Brendon could sense the true emotion those errant touches evoked within Will.
For Will lusted after Bryan.
But eventually, those memories faded away when he saw one where that family moved away, just before Will’s mother got busted on cocaine possession charges. And sadness filled the void, along with regret. Regret at not seeing if he could push the games further. Maybe entice Bryan to wrestle like the Greeks did back in Julius Caesar’s day – naked. Maybe even something more than that. Brendon saw that Will was close to accepting himself as he was but wasn’t just there yet. Maybe… just maybe…
The right boy would nudge him to that realization.
“Um… could I get a glass of water?” Will had asked for the third time. He didn’t understand why Brendon seemed so focused, so quiet for five or so minutes.
“Oh… yeah. I think we have some around here.” Brendon had the decency to blush some. “We don’t usually drink water around here. If needed, one of us can go get some pretty quick.” He went to the door and opened it up. “You want to stay here or did you want to meet the others?”
“I-I think I feel safer up here… for now. Thanks though.”
“Just make yourself comfortable and one of us will be right up with that water. If you need it, the bathroom unfortunately is outside – we have to fix the plumbing to get the inside toilet working again.” Not that it was a high priority to fix the plumbing for a group of vampires, but if the human boy remained with them for some time, that priority might need to be raised some. Will just nodded and Brendon slipped out the door.
He almost ran into Brandon.
“What are you doing?” Brandon asked. He looked like he wanted to tear Brendon’s head off. The tears had finally stopped but there were a few streaks that had washed some of the dried blood off the lower portion of his face, giving Brandon a crazed, deranged look.
“Checking up on our guest. That’s all. He’s awake again.” Brandon tried to stay angry but most of it fell away.
“H-How is he?” he nearly spat. Brendon put an arm around his brother’s shoulder and guided him away from Will’s room.
“A bit shaken up, but not as much as I think you’re afraid he is.” Once in the living room, Brendon sat his brother down on the couch after asking Carson to find Will some water. “I didn’t get a full story from him but I don’t think he’s quite at the point where he’s just gonna faint or piss himself again.”
“D-Does… does he know about us?” Brandon asked quietly. He feared the answer that he knew was coming.
Brendon nodded, knowing full well that Brandon wasn’t looking at him. “Yeah. Will knows what we are.” Silently Brandon cursed. He felt it would make it that much harder to get the boy to open up to him. And then Brandon started to shake a bit. Where… How would he even begin? He had never even been on a date yet! The sudden prospect of having to think of things to say or even do to put Will at ease… to even see if there was a mutual attraction. And that thought made poor Brandon hysterical – what if he didn’t like boys like that?! “Hey! Hey…” Brendon consoled. He had seen Brandon’s near breakdown as the thoughts flitted through his head. “What are you panicking over so suddenly? Right now, I think you have a fair shot at him. He’s not deathly afraid of us, just normal afraid. I think if you talk to him some… get him to open up, you’ll have your shot.” Brendon playfully tapped the underside of Brandon’s chin. “Once you get cleaned up some, you should see if he’ll talk to you.”
“I-I guess walking in with the same bloody clothes would be a bad thing, yes?”
Brendon lightly laughed. “Yeah, I don’t think humans like to see another human’s blood on a person’s clothing. It kinda detracts from the mood.”
Brandon scoffed. “You didn’t have that problem – your boyfriend was already a vampire. He’d probably think seeing you covered in blood would’ve been hot.”
Brendon stood up, laughing. “I bet. You alright in getting yourself cleaned up?” There were a few occasions where Brendon had to help Brandon in that regard. They were few and far between, but Brendon didn’t mind it really. It was something that Brandon had done for him before they turned. Before Brendon decided living as a human wasn’t for him.
Brandon nodded. “I think I’ll be okay this time.” His brother started to walk away but Brandon stopped him. “Thanks, bro. For everything.”
“Of course.” With a nod, Brendon slipped away to find Carson.
Brandon stood outside Will’s room, once again a bundle of nerves. What should he say first? What shouldn’t he say? Should he just blurt it out there… ask if he happens to be gay? Or is that not a tacit question right off the bat? Or even better – should he “cheat” and use any vampire’s innate ability to read a human’s mind? No, Brandon adamantly said to himself on that point. I don’t want to trick him into liking me. A sudden burst of courage filled him and before he realized, he found himself in Will’s room.
But then he froze.
Brandon had caught Will at a bad time – at least from Will’s perspective. For Will, after asking Carson for a clean set of clothes when he dropped off the water, had begun to get dressed. He had slid out of his dirty jeans and was in the process of dropping his boxers when Will heard the door open. He glanced over his shoulder and, assuming it to be Brendon, rolled his eyes. He also resumed changing but kept his back to Brandon.
That view suited the teen just fine, still unable to move. He took delight in watching the clean underwear make its way up Will’s defined legs from his few years of playing soccer up and over his pert butt. Will then turned around as he slid on the pair of sweats he was given. “If you take a picture it might last longer.” A deep blush filled out Brandon’s cheeks. So far, nothing was going right and he did all he could to remain where he was. Fighting that group of SWAT team members was easier than this! Almost out of habit, he nearly kicked on his extra but managed to refrain. Brandon’s gaze fell to the floor, both afraid and ashamed. A bit perplexed, Will slid the shirt on and regarded Brandon. “Um… thanks for… sending up the water.”
“Th-That… That wasn’t me th-that did that.” Brandon managed to find his voice for a short time. “Th-That was Bren that c-came in here earlier. I-I’m Brandon.”
“Oh.” The boy sat on the bed, now fully dressed. “You two are twins?” Brandon nodded as he nervously grabbed at his elbow. Will sensed something was going on but wasn’t fully aware of it just yet. Brandon was different than Brendon, even if it was nearly impossible to discern which brother was which. At least for now it was – Will hadn’t really studied their faces for any small variances nor had the need to. But now, he would try and see how he could tell them apart. “I didn’t realize you were twins from earlier.” Will swallowed. “I-I guess… watching you save me while you… um, fed, didn’t give me time to process that.”
Brandon’s blush deepened. “I-I-I hate having t-to do that… and I-I really didn’t mean to scare you. Honest. I wanted to help you just wanted to help you out so bad.” It started out slow but as nerves took hold of Brandon, a veritable diarrhea of words started to flow from his mouth. Will giggled nervously when Brandon slapped a hand over his mouth. Seeing Brandon at such unease actually helped to relax Will, to almost think of the older teen as a regular boy and not a vampire.
“Why are you so nervous around me?” Will asked with a small giggle. “If anything it should be the other way around.”
Brandon swallowed and slowly entered the room. He glanced at a spot on the bed next to Will, nonverbally asking for permission to sit. Will nodded and Brandon sat down. “Um… w-well, you s-see…” Again Brandon gulped. It was so hard to just come out and say it. Then again, when he told Brendon and Carson before the twins were turned, he didn’t verbally say it – he just nodded when Brendon had asked in that roundabout way back then. “H-How about this? Um… h-how do you f-feel about… you know, if one boy might l-like another boy… in that way?”
Suddenly, Will caught on to why the boy was so uptight. He had heard the slurs the adults used in regards to him. The nervousness became contagious. He had almost told Uncle Blaine but before he did, he heard the man curse and swear at the TV when he happen to see two women kissing in that way, lusting after one another. It only got worse when they showed on the same channel two men kissing. It was the main reason he stood on the fence of accepting himself. Fear of reactions like Blaine’s. “Oh… um, well…” Will blushed himself now, uneasy at where the conversation turned. He feared that Brandon was only acting nervous to keep him at ease, only to blow up in a rage when the truth came out. He feared this all was a ruse to draw that nugget of fact from him.
Before he answered, Will jumped up and bolted from the room.
“W-Wait!” Brandon shouted after the boy but he was already heading out the front door, hanging open since the sun was down. “W-Will! Come back!” Defeated, he slumped to his knees. “Will… please…” The tears started up again as his voice faded into a whisper. “C-Come back…”
He just ran, the trees a blur. His lungs burned for the need to fill his body with life-sustaining oxygen. Legs deftly leapt over obstacles, working totally on the flight response instinct gifted him. He needed to get away. He just had to. Will knew that if he told that boy how he felt about boys, it’d be game over. No continues to use, no extra lives to activate. Will didn’t even look back, afraid that one or maybe all of them were hot on his trail.
The boy found the shielding trees falling away as he came across a structure sitting in the middle of a giant clearing. Its impressive size made Will come to a stop and his lungs heaved, trying to restore balance to his body. His hands went to his knees, all the while he studied the building. It looked to be relatively new, the construction only just finished that earlier summer. A few errant piles of leftover construction materials littered the grounds. He tried to work out its purpose but couldn’t think of anything besides it being a lumber mill perhaps. But… where are the saws? Will wondered, doubting his initial guess.
“I-I can’t sense him any longer!” Brandon cried. He was doing all he could to hold himself together as he and the others followed the footprints that Will left in the dirt. “He’s gotta be hurt!”
“Bran… calm down,” Brendon said gently. “We don’t know that. Maybe he fell asleep again. Maybe he… I don’t know. Just don’t jump to conclusions, okay?”
“We have to find him!” Brandon said, ignoring most of what his brother just said. Brendon sighed. He glanced towards Carson who just shrugged. If the situation wasn’t so dire, Carson almost found it to be amusing in a way. But the mountains weren’t a place to be roaming at night as a human. Plenty of wild animals alone could do the boy in, let alone any other vampires could stumble across him.
“We’ll find him Bran,” Drew said. He felt for his adoptive brother, knowing just how much pain this could cause. “You’ll see.”
“Yeah,” Boston agreed. “I think everything’s gonna work out. Just wait and see.”
Brandon stopped suddenly and was in Boston’s face. “I’m tired of waiting! I’ve waited for fifty years! So excuse me if I’m just a tad upset when each and every one of you doesn’t have to worry about finding love – you already did!” No one said anything in response as Brandon resumed searching and panicking. As Brandon pulled away from the group, oblivious to anything but finding Will, Brendon had no choice but to follow, bound by the invisible leash that tethered each twin to the other.
“Wow, I didn’t think he was this upset about everything,” Boston said quietly as the twins drifted further away from the trio. “Did either of you suspect anything?” Both Carson and Drew shook their heads but Drew kicked at a rock. “Babe?”
“I should’ve if Brendon couldn’t,” he mumbled. “I can still remember exactly how he’s feeling right now. Scared. Confused. Lonely. Depressed.” Drew glanced at the other two. “I-I don’t know what he’ll do if he can’t get Will to understand how he feels and is able to reciprocate. If he’s anything like I was at that time…. Carson, you’ll have to help your boy to help him. Otherwise, you might lose Brendon if we lose Brandon.”
“Drew’s right,” Boston said as a look of shocked skepticism crossed Carson’s face. “I still remember our first fight. Drew almost lost it and let the sun take him away from me. But I managed to get him back inside in time.” Boston turned to Drew. “You really scared me then, babe.”
“I know… and I’m still sorry about that.” Once again Drew got Carson’s attention. The older teen watched the twins in the distance now. “If something drastic happens to Brandon, what will happen to Brendon? I mean, they’re connected in ways that I don’t think we can understand. I mean, if Bran would… would kill himself, would that take Bren along for the ride?”
Before Carson could worry about how complicated he realized his relationship with Brendon just became, the sound of shouting and fighting found its way to the trio. “Shit! Boys, let’s go!” Drew and Boston were already running as Carson spoke. They closed the distance between them and the twins quickly and saw the building before they saw a small group of people off to the side. One of the twins was on the ground, kneeling next to a body. The other stood between those two and the group of seven, hands outstretched as if trying to shield the others. Carson gasped a bit as they neared, seeing that it was his Brendon kneeling on the ground next to a hopefully unconscious Will. Brendon held onto his side, a thick syrupy liquid oozing through his fingers.
Brandon stood as the lone member of their trio, unscathed whereas the group of seven looked to be worse for wear. Each of the seven had several bruises and other various injuries but still tried to advance slowly on the lone boy. But that lone boy had had enough. He brought his hands together and, using his extra, latched onto every photon of light he could find. He had the benefit that the full moon sat overhead, giving him more with which to work. It took a few seconds but centered between his palms, stationed about a foot or so apart, an orb of light grew to fill that space. The light illuminated the open area, casting an eeriness around everything. But the orb grew in intensity and slowly, it started to resemble sunlight. And Brandon started to walk forward as he held onto his torch even as the orb started to pulse.
Carson, Drew, and Boston stopped where they were, even at their distance feeling the energy from that orb. Carson, thinking quickly, drew some of the dense forest foliage around each of them with his own extra, shrouding them in darkness. All they could do was watch as Brandon advanced on his attackers as they backed away slowly at first but once the first wave of light struck them, they all screamed when they felt their flesh being seared. And once all seven of them started to run in fear, Carson watched as Brandon lobbed the sun bomb at the group. The orb landed dead center amongst all seven and detonated in a brilliant radiance that even in their leaf cocoon, Drew, Boston, and Carson winced as they could feel tiny pinpricks of light striking their own skin. A few tendrils of smoke wafted up from their wounds but stopped when the light had dispersed once again.
Nothing remained of the other vampires. Absolutely nothing.
And then Brandon collapsed to the ground.
“Bran!” Brendon shouted as struggled to stand, his own wound making it difficult. He wanted to help his brother… he had to! If it wasn’t for him… Brendon knew he might not be alive any longer. Carson rushed to Brendon’s side as Drew and Boston went to check on Brandon. “Carson! H-Help him! Help my brother!”
“Drew and Boston got him, buddy,” Carson whispered. “I’m here to make sure you’re okay. Let me see.” For just a moment, Brendon pulled his hand away and a spurt of blood arced from the hole in his right side. Quickly Brendon pushed his hand back into the wound.
“O-One of the vampires that… attacked us used some kind of… I wanna say fire extra but I-I don’t know… Carson… it h-hurts really bad…”
Tears filled his eyes as Carson could only do so much. Using his extra again, he called upon some nearby trees to part with a smallish piece of their bark or a vine. And, after tearing Brendon’s shirt off, Carson bound the bark over the wound with the vine. He placed his hand over the piece of bark and called forth its energies to help the wound to heal. Unfortunately it didn’t do anything for the pain as Brendon groaned. “Stay st-strong, buddy. We’ll get y-you back to the cabin a-and you can rest.”
“Wh…What’s going on?” Will had woken up after having passed out when he saw the group of seven vampires surrounding him. He hazily recalled, after coming to for a little, that Brandon leapt into the middle of the fray just before the first one attempted to bite his neck. And then Brendon jumped in to help his twin. Will was awed at their grace, how fluidly they moved as they delivered the hurt to the seven attackers. But then one got a lucky shot in on Brendon and he went down. And then fear seized Will at the same time the darkness did.
“B-Brandon saved you,” Brendon said. “Sure, I-I helped, but… Br-Brandon saved us both in the end.”
“Isn’t this just touching?”
All five conscious boys turned to the sound of the voice. “B-But… it can’t be…”
“I’m hurt that you seem to have forgotten me already.” She perched on a nearby rock. Idly, she tossed her head of auburn hair behind her, it cascading down on her right side, partially concealing that side of her face. “And it was only a week ago that you first met me, Ruby!”
It was her. The lady in red.
“But I-I tore a hole in the roof right above you!” Brendon struggled to say. “Y-You should be nothing but ash now!”
Ruby shrugged. “What can I say? Oh I know! How about after you all left me to die I was brought back here well before dawn and only just finished recovering. I do need to repay you all for what you did to me.” Before anyone could react, her hand was on Drew’s body. “Anyone tries anything and I blow him up.” Seductively, she licked his face. “I wouldn’t want to hurt that pretty face of yours if I can help it…”
“What do you want?” Boston gritted through his teeth. He wanted to help Drew but couldn’t think of a viable way that wouldn’t get his boyfriend killed.
“I just want the one he’s holding. The out boy. One of the twins.”
“Y-You can’t just take him!” Brendon shouted.
“Oh but I can,” Ruby smiled evilly. “And I will.”
“That’s not what I meant!” Brendon shouted just before she took Brandon into her arms. She started walking off with Brandon. But before she took him out of range, Brendon had no choice. He didn’t want to risk his brother’s life on a guess. “If you just take him, we both will die!”
She stopped walking and turned around. Her eyes narrowed dangerously. “What do you mean, boy?”
“I-I can’t explain it b-but we can’t be more than twenty yards apart. Any further than that and we start to experience things. B-Bad things.”
“I-It’s the truth!” Carson shouted, not wanting to see if Brendon could survive the separation. He wouldn’t want to risk it. Ruby just rolled her eyes and snapped the fingers on her free arm.
“Alright we’ll play it your way. Get over here or I’ll just delight in seeing what will happen to you if I make your twin go ‘boom-boom’.” A cackle escaped her throat as Brendon slowly made his way to her side. Once he was near enough, Ruby scooped Brendon up. “Thanks for your contribution, boys. Ta ta!” In a cloud of smoke, Ruby and the twins disappeared.