THE CRIMSON FLOW

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Chapter 4.2 - A FEAR OF HISTORY REPEATING

Sitting opposite, Craig quietly watched the vampire irritably tapping away on Becky’s laptop.

Cain was searching for more information on the recently discovered brood. “Why are you staring?” he growled from under a curtain of hair.

“I can tell you’re agitated,” the angel answered calmly, flitting through the dossier again.

Cain grunted, his eyes never leaving the screen. “I am seldom anything else.”

Nick padded past the table where the vampire was researching. “That - and a miserable bastard,” he intoned, making his way to the kitchen.

Usually, Cain accepted Nick’s off-the-cuff insults in the manner which they were said - jovial - but tonight he was not in fettle. New torments plagued him. Along with a determination unlike any he’d undergone in the past, he was restless, impatient. He wanted to find the others although, knowing their feeding frenzies conceded on nothing more than animal instinct, it was not with nervous anticipation he searched for them. Nor was it a need to bond with his “own kind” but, still, he precipitately scanned umpteen sites, pages and news feeds.

He also acknowledged this new fixation was helping to keep another concern at bay. He was not ready to face the probability that he and Becky had hit some emotional wall over which he knew not how to scale. It niggled him; the sound of her weeping echoed relentlessly in his mind. But, right now, he could not focus on such issues, he needed to concentrate on the problem arising from these ‘new’ vampires and put a stop to their mindless slaughter.

Nick returned to the table with a glass of wine in hand, his demeanour now sombre. He sat between his companion and Cain. “What is it you’re looking for which we have not provided you with?” he asked, tapping the lid of the device.

“A precise location.”

The angel leaned closer. “And why do you want to find them? They will no doubt die out, just as all the others before them.”

Cain slammed his fist on the table, startling the two Fallen. “You bring me evidence of creatures like me, then you ask why I want to find them? If you believed these were like all the others, you would not have presented me with the folio. Would you?”

With a resigned glance exchanged between the angels, Nick heaved a sigh and nodded acquiescence.

Cain dragged his hair back into a ponytail and secured it with one of Becky’s bands which he kept on his wrist. “Precisely,” he said, appeased. He leaned on the table’s surface, looking directly at the two angels. “You are not the only ones to sense something untoward about this brood. The very fact one sought you out suggests they have intention. For what, exactly, I don’t know, but, I aim to find out. Furthermore, if, as I suspect, they have merely surrendered to their bloodlust, then they must be wiped out - just like any other corruption.”

Nick took a long draught of his wine. Laying the glass down, he looked at Cain, a determination in his eyes which took the vampire by surprise. Nick grinned. “What?”

Cain shrugged. “Am I to understand you intend to become embroiled in this venture?”

At that, both angels laughed. “Well, of course!” Nick said. “We’re on the same side as you.”

“Yes, but...”

“But nothing! We’ve done a lot of the research already, and as you say, there is something distinctly unsavoury about these bloodsuckers, excuse the pun.”

Cain studied the two Fallen carefully. A trace of a smile teased the corners of his mouth, but it just as quickly turned sour, pensive. His eyes became remote. “What about Becky?” he asked quietly. A stab of guilt coursed through him making him tremble.

Craig ran his fingers through his hair. He sighed. “Ah, yes. One of us should stay with her.” He looked at Nick expectantly. His companion’s eyes were defiant, set like stone. “I guess it’s me then,” Craig smirked. “I will join you when she returns home, which I reckon she will want to do once she finds out you’ve gone on your crusade.”

The other two nodded.

“How soon do you intend to leave?”

“As soon as I get the info I need. If I’m lucky, tonight!” Cain said.

“Tonight?” Nick gasped. “Look, I know you’re keen to get underway, but have a heart!”

The vampire pulled the laptop towards himself and started tapping away on the keys again. His denial seemed to infuriate Nick.

Craig, sensing his fellow angel was about to catechise Cain, excused himself. “Let me know what you find,” he said, indicating the laptop. Cain nodded, then Craig rather swiftly left the room.

Nick wasted no time grilling the vampire. “Surely you won’t just up and leave her like that?”

No response. Just the electronic tap, tap, tippity-tap.

“For goodness sake, she just got here! Have you any idea how much she...”

“Yes!” Cain said, sharp. “I have!” His eyes swirled ebony and crimson, his features hardened, lips breaking into a snarl.

“Save it!” Nick spat back, his own eyes taking on their celestial iridescence. “You don’t scare me, vampire! You do, however, piss me off at times.”

A few moments passed. Cain relaxed, his face softening once more, but a deep hurt lay within his eyes; one which did not escape the ever-observant angel. “You must not continue to live in the past.”

With a snort and a grimace, Cain replied. “It is safer if I do.”

“For who? You? Or her?” Nick jutted his chin in the direction of Becky’s room.

Cain shook his head, stubborn.

“Stop fighting the fact you love her.”

“Just drop it.” There was an edge to Cain’s voice although restrained, controlled.

“No! You avoid this every time. You need to open up.”

“Have you suddenly adopted a Cupid complex or something?” Anger simmered behind the dark eyes once more.

The term made Nick grin, but the angel maintained a steady tone. “I’m just a friend reaching out. Are you immune to that too?”

Cain held his stare. A pained silence stretched out as the sentiment momentarily overcame him. His brow furrowed, then he looked back at the screen, unsure what to say. Finally, he muttered a response. “I could not bear it if I hurt her.”

The angel raised his wine, watching Cain over the rim of the glass. “Sometimes, saying or doing nothing hurts someone far more than acting on your feelings. Don’t let her slip through your fingers simply because you harbour a fear of history repeating.”

Cain’s fingers curled into fists. “I cannot give her what she wants. She deserves better.”

“But, she lights up in your presence. We have not lived among them this long Cain, without recognising basic signs. I’m sure you have had plenty fawn over you down the centuries - you are quite attractive for such an old dude after all - ” Nick smiled as Cain dismissed the flattery with a huff. “I am telling you- ” he continued, determined to make the vampire take note, “-she feels more than mere lust or fantasy when she looks at you. I believe she would be more than content to have you hold her, protect her.”

“No, she wants to be like me. Walking death.”

“Then perhaps...”

"No! Never!” The rebuttal was fierce, although laced with sorrow and oddly, fear.

Nick studied the vampire for some time before he spoke again. “Regardless of your past and present, you are still entitled to have your heart and soul fulfilled. Our passage through time is lonely enough, without casting aside the one thing which connects us all; whether mortal or preternatural. Perhaps she is your true redemption.”

Silence. Suddenly, Nick rose, laying his empty glass gently on the table. Placing an amiable hand on Cain’s shoulder, he uttered his last for that evening. “Just admit it - for both your sakes.” He then turned and left Cain, staring at the laptop.

Seconds later, the screen saver kicked in. A winsome smile tugged at Cain’s mouth as the seventh-century ruins of Whitby Abbey materialised before him. His image then bled through the picture. There, staring back at him was once a farmer; a man proud of his work, and the harvest he yielded for his village. He was happy then. But, in those eyes did he find his loneliness seeping through, barely masked by the sorrow and inner conflict. He leaned on his fist, pensive, at odds with himself, his faith, his purpose. Closing his eyes, he erased the images before him.

Thinking on Nick’s parting words, with a deep sigh, he whispered, resigned. “I cannot.”

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