Three weeks and we still knew nothing about Stupid – Sebastian. I was ready to snap. I was so ready it was pretty incredible that he was still alive. It wasn’t that he wasn’t intelligent; not by any means was he lacking in that department. But he was male, which automatically placed him under the Stupid banner, in the Stupid crowd.
Have you ever tried to convince a horny boy to tell you a secret? It’s pretty much impossible. When all the idiot wants is to kiss you and make you sit in his lap, he’s insufferable as far as negotiations go. It destroys not only his credibility, but your own as well. Stupid had kissed me a total of sixty-three times in the three weeks that Orcus and I had spent puzzling over his sudden appearance. I’d advocated electric shock, but he was apparently impervious to that. Not the threat; I mean, the actual shock he received when we hooked him up to the car battery. The glass Raechel broke over his head didn’t phase him much either (to be fair, she’d dared him to let her do it).
That wasn’t all that bothered me. When the moon was up, he hid under my bed like a frightened dog, and just being near water made him sick. Any food we offered him was met with an upturned nose and more nausea. We did sneak him outside once on the weekend, which had some very bad results: When we came back he had blisters all over his cheeks and hands, and his face was extremely flushed. The clothes Raechel had pinched from Mitchell were hanging on him, and he began to look more and more like a labor camp detainee than an actual person. It was every different kind of worrying, but until we found out what exactly was wrong, there was nothing for us to do but to keep him hidden.
Sixty-three kisses and all we had to show for it was an, “I don’t know”? How was this even possible? Orcus and I were spending every other spare moment hunting around the library for anything related to experiments with time. So far everything pointed to a dead-end. There were no time travelers, no memory serums, no teleportation devices, nothing. All of which really sucked, because if I had to grind Stupid (which was essentially what was happening) I wanted it to be worth my time. Orcus teased in Anatomy that I should be enjoying the sensations, considering the obvious expertise behind them. I said a lot of rude words in reply and got a week’s worth of detention.
Sebastian became paler and paler as the days went by, and I’d’ve been worried, but I felt that he did deserve his loss of health. He had taken to sleeping in my bed, and I, for strange lack of ability to remove him from it, had taken to sleeping on the floor, and Michelle had taken to keeping her mouth shut, more because she hoped it would make Orcus like her than because she was afraid of me. As time went, it got to the point that I was constantly waking up in the early hours of the morning with a semi-naked Sebastian lying half on top of me, his nose pressed to my neck; it seemed like he was still asleep when he did these things because I would have to slap him multiple times for him to actually awake and respond astutely. One such evening characterized just how bad the situation really was without us realizing it.
I was asleep on the floor and had awoken to the now all too familiar feeling of a nose pressed into my neck. After the now nightly ritual of boxing his ears, Stupid looked down at me, face curled into a sneer.
“Would you please stop hitting me?” His dialect had begun to modernize itself, which was a relief because it shortened the time it took for us to have an argument.
“Would you please stop sniffing me in my sleep?” I retorted.
He had the gall to look affronted. “I’ve no idea what you mean.”
I opened my mouth to say something snarky, but just the door opened to reveal a very angry and now very surprised Orcus Locke. I swore (it sounded something like “Duck feet,” but had nothing to do with ducks). A look of sheer furry – for which I couldn’t possibly account – crossed Orcus’ face. He lunged forward and ripped Sebastian off me and threw him back onto the bed. It was an impressive feat, particularly considering that Sebastian was a full head taller than Orcus. Even so, he was just as surprised as I was at the sudden outburst.
“What the hell are you doing here?” I hissed. Somehow Raechel and Michelle were still asleep.
Orcus ignored me. “Did you honestly think we wouldn’t figure it out?” he hissed. “Very clever of you, pretending you couldn’t remember anything.”
“What?” was all Sebastian managed to splutter before Orcus yanked open the window to our room and began dragging him towards it.
“Orcus, what are you doing?” I yelped. My question was very soon answered.
He pushed Sebastian out the window.
Without meaning to, I squeaked in surprise. After a full second, though, I’d recovered and pounded Orcus upside the head. “Why’d you do that?”
Orcus still ignored me; he was staring down into the courtyard, as strange sort of malignant smile twisted onto his features.
“I think, Mallory, the state of our friend will explain much about his origins.”
I wrinkled my brow and looked out the window: Sebastian was floating three or four feet above the ground, and he looked very frightened.
“And your theory?” I asked.
“Vampire.” He waited for my reaction, but I didn’t, so he continued. “He’s got his nose in your neck every night, and he’s been losing weight since he got here; you of all people should know how much he eats in a day. I had a small discussion with my grandfather, and he proposed the suggestion.”
I was still slightly bewildered at the leap. “I suppose that makes sense.” In the way that makes no sense at all, if you know what I mean. Rather like, “There’s no actual evidence, but since nothing else has been able to stick, and we’re pretty sure he time-travelled, because we’re all fucking crazy, sure, it sounds right.” So I didn’t argue his point. “He was quite pleased with that raw steak Owens smuggled up here when he came to see Michelle.”
Orcus’ brow furrowed ever so slightly. “Owens did what?”
I shrugged. “I think he was trying to pull a prank. Needless to say, it failed.”
Orcus harrumphed. “I told him to throw it in the window; I’ll have to speak to him about that.” Things didn’t bode well for Michael Owens. Orcus looked back out the window at the still floating Sebastian. “Think you can climb back up?” he sneered.
Sebastian hesitated, and then put his foot to the wall. Haltingly and unsure, he began to make his way up it toward the window.
I turned to Orcus. “It explains why he sleeps so much. Except why he sleeps at night, because vampires don’t sleep at night. They’re not supposed to, anyway.”
My archrival nodded. “Apparently this one does. It also explains why he was in such bad shape after our jaunt last weekend.”
Sebastian’s head popped up over the sill. “Help,” he whimpered. Orcus moved, but I pushed him out of the way and began hauling the idiot boy in myself. Orcus had his uses, and I was beginning to despise Sebastian on a very primal level, but at this point we needed to keep him alive and healthy, and, quite frankly, Orcus Locke is the last person anyone should ask for help.
Once Sebastian was in the window he rounded on Orcus. “What the hell was that about?”
Orcus feigned innocence. “I’m sure I’ve no idea what you mean,” he answered.
“You pushed me out a window,” Sebastian snapped. His tone was dangerous, but Orcus appeared completely unfazed.
“To prove a point,” Orcus conceded. “So I suppose, yes, I did.” He laughed. “Did you want an apology?”
It was the wrong thing to say. Sebastian lunged, and I dove between them. It turned out to be both fortuitous and extremely stupid, and I’m still unsure as to whether or not I regret it. When I stepped between the boys I did so thinking of the hell there would be to pay if anyone found out Sebastian was here, as it had somehow been ignored up until now. As it happened, Sebastian drew back a fist which, though meant for Orcus, hit me square in the nose. I felt the bones crack and the blood begin to flow. Drops spattered on the floor, and Sebastian drew back in horror. Orcus came around and took my face in his hands, his own features bewildered and bemused.
“You fucking idiot!” he scolded. “What were you thinking?”
“Can I help?” Sebastian asked.
“No,” Orcus snapped. “You’ve done quite enough.”
“It was my fist, it is my responsibility,” Sebastian insisted.
I pulled away from Orcus and yanked a towel off a nearby chair. “I’b fine,” I said, putting the towel gingerly to my face. “Just don’t you two begin fighding, or we’ll have Hell to pay. And by, ‘Hell’ I bean Brs. Ghosd.” I narrowed my eyes at Orcus. “Whad are you doing here?”
He sighed. “Mallory, dear, need I remind you of our conversation just a moment ago?” His voice was patronizing and made me very angry.
Orcus rolled his eyes. “Research, Mallory, research. He knows things because he’s old and he’s studied them. Honestly, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were stupid.”
I kept the towel pressed to my face, but the look in my eyes made what I though abundantly clear. “Thank you, very buch, Orcus,” I snapped.
Sebastian put a hand on my shoulder. “You must let me amend my mistake.”
I removed his hand. “No, really, don’t worry aboud id. Id’s not by first broken dose.” It really wasn’t. In the sixth grade Orcus had broken my nose in Gym. I, of course, had responded by cacking his groin, and it ended up being the most viciously competitive year of school I’d ever had. I wasn’t looking forward to the rest of this year.
“Even so,” insisted Sebastian, “you need to be helped.”
Orcus pushed him away from me. “Would you leave her alone?” he sniped.
“Orcus,” somebody interrupted. We all turned to the voice coming form the bed. It was Raechel, and she looked put out at having been awakened. She narrowed her eyes. “Would you stop being so territorial?”
Orcus sneered and then laughed. “I’ve no reason to be territorial, McNab.”
“Then just let poor Stupid be.”
Sebastian made an affronted sound. “I beg your pardon!”
“Meh,” Raechel answered. “Orcus, if you’re going to be hysterical about the people who make physical contact with Mallory, then you should ask her out so you don’t have to worry about it.” When Orcus’ eyes became slits, Raechel turned to me. “And you – I told you to just snog him and leave. If he’s being territorial, that’s because you didn’t use him properly.” She looked back to Orcus. “That’s still no excuse for you to be an ass. No one expects you to spill your guts about how you really feel, and quite frankly we would all be grossly disappointed and would never take you seriously again if you did. But,” and here she drew breath, “the least you guys could do is establish some boundaries and some sort of definite line in your relationship. There is only so much of this that the rest of us can take.” She pointed to Sebastian next. “They’ll retain this conversation for about a week, so if he doesn’t make a move by next Friday, she’s fair game.” Raechel adjusted her blankets. “Now, I’m going back to sleep, so all of you shut up.”
By the time she was finished speaking Orcus was fuming, I was irked, and Sebastian was staring at her. . .well, stupidly.
Orcus turned to me. “I don’t like you,” he bit out.
I screwed myself together, and blew my nose into the towel. It hurt very badly. “I don’t like you eider,” I replied.
“I despise you.”
“You’re both lying,” came Raechel’s muffled voice. Orcus and I made threatening sounds, and then rounded on each other again.
“Get out of my dorb!” I demanded, holding the towel back to my face again.
“Fine,” he snapped. “I’m taking the vampire.”
“What? You can’t take the vabpire! He’s by vabpire; he wandered into by dorb roob.”
“You didn’t want this case, remember? You thought it was a crock of shit!”
“That was before the randob-ass vabpire wandered into by dorb roob.”
“You wouldn’t have known he was a vampire unless I’d told you, or perhaps after he’d drained the blood out of you, because apparently the only way to get through to you is violence!”
“Holy St. Paul,” said somebody from beside us. We turned to stare irritably at Sebastian, who was now sitting on the edge of Raechel’s bed.
“What?” we snapped.
“You argue like my parents,” he said, his jaw slack.
Orcus and I exchanged looks. “No, we don’t.”
“Yes, you do,” said Raechel from beneath her blankets. “You argue like a married couple. Granted, a married couple who should have divorced ten years ago, but your babies would be beautiful.”
“Shut up, McNab,” snapped Orcus.
I punched his arm, the towel still stuck to my face. “Don’t be a jerk.”
He punched me back. “I told you not to hit me.”
I pushed him. “Leave, Orcus. Now.”
He pushed me. “I’m taking the vampire with me.”
“You are not.”
“Either he comes with me, or I stay here,” he said fiercely.
This had a lot of potential to go very, very wrong either way. They might stay up fighting all night, or Ghost would have heard us, and been awake by now. Anyone might have been awakened by what had been going on in our room. If they left there was the very real possibility that one of them would die once they were alone together, and I had a feeling that it wouldn’t be Orcus.
“Fine,” I snapped. “Fine. You can bod stay, but after I fix by nose, I’b sleeping on de bed,” I gave Sebastian a pointed look, “and you will not bolest be in your sleep.”
He reddened. “I would never—”
“Yes, you would,” said Orcus coolly. “And if you touch her again—”
“—within the week—” interjected Raechel.
“—I’ll kill you.”
Sebastian snarled and began to advance, but I jumped between them again, and they recoiled.
“We just talked about dis,” I warned. “If you two don’t stop dis, I’ll toss you both out the window. Orcus,” I pointed to one end of the room, “over dere. Sebastian,” I pointed to the other end of the room, “over dere. And don’t eider of you even dare piss me off any more tonight.”