Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick. The sound of the clock in the back of the room ticked loudly in my ears.
Lub-dub, lub-dub, lub-dub. The noise of my classmate’s hearts sounded even louder and quicker than the ticking clock.
My eyes started blankly at the exam paper in front of me, as my body broke out in a cold sweat. My breath became heavy as my fists curled into a tight fist in a desperate attempt to calm myself down.
I dared to look up at Mrs. Atkinson stood at the front of the room, pacing as she watched.
In my head, I played it out; it would be too easy.
I could cast a spell which would cause the time to slow for a moment. I could throw another, which would cause her to freeze for a minute, take her, feed, heal the wound, and return to my seat. All before anyone knew what had happened when it returned to normal.
I forced my eyes back to my exam paper. I wouldn’t do it, and I couldn’t do it. I tried to calm my breath, but the writing in front of me began to blur as my fists clenched tighter.
Hunger and thirst consumed me as the sounds of the beating hearts rang louder. It was as if there was a painful itch in my veins that I couldn’t scratch, and my head pounded with each heartbeat. I had to get out of here before the bloodlust took over me entirely, and I did something I know I’d regret.
I shot up out of my seat and ran out of the room, heading into the nearest girl’s toilets to the school’s main hall.
I slammed the cubical door shut, locking it quickly before I fell to my knees. My fists grabbed my hair either side of my head and pulled, a desperate attempt to distract myself from the growing urge.
“Ms. Paxton!” The shrill of Mrs. Atkinson’s voice filled my ears as she opened the door. “Ms. Paxton, you cannot just-”
“Leave me alone!” I growled harshly. She couldn’t be in here, she wasn’t safe, in here alone, it was too easy.
“Ms. Paxton, what is wrong?”
“Zach! I need Zach!” I begged as tears of desperation filled my eyes.
“I’m here.” Zach’s voice sounded, “Mrs. Jameson excused me, I’ll see to her Ms. Atkinson, we’ll be back in there in a minute. I think she’s having a panic attack. Please.”
“Very well, five minutes, or you’ll be disqualified from the test. I’ll be just outside the door.”
The door shut as I heard footsteps come towards the cubical, followed by the sound of the lock unclicking as Zach let himself in.
“Jesus Christ.” Zach locked the door behind him and lowered himself down.
He pulled me into his lap, cradling me in his arms as he pulled me tight to him. His hand took the back of my head and shifted it into the crook of his neck, “Drink.”
I didn’t even argue as my fangs bared and sunk into my brother’s soft skin as he let out a quiet hiss.
I should have argued, and I should have said no, but I couldn’t stop myself. My entire body relaxed and loosened as his blood felt soothing and refreshing while it trickled down my throat. The thirst and hunger were beginning to subside as Zach sat there still, unmoving while I fed.
Finally, my humanity kicked in, the need to feed gone, and I was brought back down to planet earth with a harsh crash.
I tore my lips from Zach and threw myself against the wall of the cubical. Guilt engulfed over me as I watched the blood drip from the two small puncture wounds. I’d bitten my brother, I fed on him, without even thinking.
“Oh, god, Zach...Zach, I just...oh god.” More tears pooled as Zach stood himself up, waving his hand over the wound, making it heal.
“Sh, it’s okay.” Zach wrapped his arms around me tightly.
“No, no, it’s not. What’s wrong with me, Zach?” I sobbed into his chest.
This was the third time in a week I’d needed human blood. The first time from the cup Zach had given me. The second I’d used a blood bag, Emmett had fetched.
“I don’t know, Hale.” He sighed as his lips touched the top of my head.
“I’m so sorry.”
“Hale, I’d rather you fed a little on me, then let you be consumed by the guilt of hurting one of our friends. I can take it, and it’s better than the alternative.”
“I’ve never needed to feed like this, why me, Zach? I’m not like that.”
I didn’t understand. The last time I even touched human blood before now was over twenty years ago. We’d gotten into a fight with a Vampire clan, and I’d gotten a little beaten. I was too weakened for my powers to heal the wounds, so I’d had to drink human blood. However, since then, I’d not touched a drop.
Because of my Witch half, I didn’t need or rely on blood as Emmett and Alicia did. I didn’t need to feed as often, and I could keep up my strength up without it. Alicia and Emmett only fed from bags once a month, if that, to keep up their senses and capabilities for our hunts and watches.
“I think we need to talk to Emmett or Alicia, or both. Maybe after prom on Friday, you and Masato should go away for a week somewhere. Unwind and destress; it’s been a pretty stressful couple of weeks.”
“Maybe. You think this is just all the stress?” I wiped my eyes and looked up at Zach. The worry was clear as day on his face as he looked down at me.
“And the fact you’ve been using a lot of magic recently. Between the detection spell, stunning the animals before you kill them, and the odd small one here and there. You’ve put a lot on yourself, Hale, and you need to slow down.”
“Maybe you’re right.” I sighed.
Perhaps my body’s sudden need for human blood was because it was failing to cope with the stress and using more power than what it was used too. It made sense, as I knew Alicia and Emmett had to feed more if they were under more pressure than usual.
“Still, you should talk to Emmett or Alicia, or both. You might want to clue Masato in as well, none of us are going to think any less of you. But, for now, if you need to drink, please say, Hallie. I know you hate it, but honestly, I don’t mind, I love you. I’d rather you feed a little on me then lose yourself to that part of you.”
“I love you, too. We should go back, and she said five minutes, I don’t want you to be disqualified because of me.”
“I threw out a time spell before I came and let myself in.” Zach stepped away and waved his hand, undoing the spell. “Now, was that enough?”
I nodded. I didn’t drink much from him, but it was enough to make me feel like myself again. My senses returned to normal and settled as the hunger was quenched, at least for now. “Yeah, thank you.”
“Good. Let’s go then.”
I unlocked the cubicle and stopping to check myself in the mirror. My hair was a disheveled mess from where I’d pulled, so I released the braid and let it fall in waves around me. I looked better; there was color in my cheeks again if only a little and I looked more alert.
Once I was happy I looked presentable, we headed back into the hall to finish the exam.