A/N: Finally! An update! Sorry it took me so long. About two months ago, this chapter was completed, and then my floppy disc screwed up, and I lost it. Since then, this chapter and the whole story have gone through a whole, frigging bunch of changes, for the better I think. So finally I've got this chapter done, though I may go back and re-edit a few things later on. Not a definite decision yet, but it may undergo some changes. Also, if you did not read the updated version of the previous chapter, go back and reread it! Two scenes have been added, one with Lighthammer and one with Nomak and Meira. All right, I think that's all I need to cover this chapter. Thank you all for the reviews, they've been great. Please keep them coming, I really love getting the feedback. J

Disclaimer: Okay, I own most of the werewolves. But other than that? Nope, not a thing. Though I'd gladly take care of Nomak.


CHAPTER TWELVE: CONFUSED AND DYSFUNCTIONAL; PT. ONE

The lights turned out, so that only filtered daylight kept the room from being washed in complete darkness, Blade sat in silence. Well, tried to. But the suckheads down below had the TV on, and not only was the volume turned up to an obscene level for those with heightened senses, but trailer park Hitler couldn't keep his damn mouth shut.

Blade was not in the mood to hear Reinhardt's commentary on how he wished they could get Cartoon Network and not just DVDs of their crappy shows. He had no idea what Aqua Teen Hunger Force was, nor did he want it on in his current residency if Reinhardt was curious about it.

A long, heavy sigh broke the near silence in the room itself. Blade was tired, sore, worried, and he had Scud's death on his hands now. There was a part of him that said he shouldn't feel guilty over it, considering Scud had become a Familiar. However, the Daywalker couldn't quite keep himself from feeling as detached from Scud's death as he thought he should feel.

Blade and Scud had never been close. Blade and Scud had never really bonded, had never gotten a connection like Whistler and Blade had developed. Blade and Scud didn't even really talk. At all. And Blade had known all along Scud would betray him.

He supposed he felt guilty because part of him still wondered if it had been his fault Scud had been turned against him.

About a month after Whistler's death and turning, Blade and Karen had split up. She'd been able to give him a better serum, at least. However it was only two days after that they had parted ways. They'd come across a Familiar being beaten by her Handler, and Blade had wanted to kill the both of them.

Karen had then proven that she could be as predictable and, in Blade's mind, weak as most other women. She'd put her foot down, and she had made it clear that to kill the Familiar, Blade would have to kill Karen first. She'd stood right between Blade and the willing pet of a vampire, and stared him right in the eyes.

He still remembered the look in her eyes. She'd been fearful, she'd seen what he could and would do. He had shown her that only Whistler was his weakness, and then he'd made it clear that if he had to, he would kill Whistler. He had made it clear Familiars deserved no mercy in his mind, and that he could kill them and vampires without anyone, anyone, getting in his way.

Karen had stood there, knowing there was a chance he would kill her, or get her out of the way and kill the Familiar before she could react. And they had both known he was capable of both.

Except when Blade had moved his arm, raising his sword to throw it past Karen and into the Familiar's head, he had ended up sheathing it instead. He remembered the surprise and relief mingled in Karen's eyes, heard the thankful sigh that turned into a sob from the cowering Familiar. He just couldn't kill Karen, and even more strange and in many ways pathetic, he realized he didn't want to part ways with her hating him.

Even now, with his mind conflicted and reeling, he knew he'd made the right choice, as far as he and Karen were concerned. He could never be with her, they just couldn't remain together without too many compromises, but he couldn't live life with her hating him. The very knowledge alone would eat at him, even if she wasn't around.

So he had left her with a few weapons, knowing she could handle herself, and left. Spent less than two weeks on his own before he found Scud as he nearly became a large bag of licorice for vampires. He'd taken Scud under his wing, so to speak. He'd probably been an even gruffer teacher than Whistler, but at least Scud had a somewhat safe place to stay and was learning how to protect himself.

Blade had lucked out with Scud. He was almost surprised that Scud wasn't a Familiar to start with. Blade had ended up saving someone who looked like a druggie, but was in actuality, a geek. Not to mention a semi-decent mechanic - though nowhere near as good as Whistler.

Blade winced slightly, as if thinking about his missing friend was painful. He supposed it was. He had no idea how the werewolves were really treating Whistler, if Whistler was even still alive - if Whistler was even still human. Blade had just gotten him back, and now, now Whistler was in the hands of an even worse threat than the reapers.

And Blade was spending too much of his time thinking about Nyssa and vampires and himself when he should have been concerned only with his old mentor.

There was a slight growl that emerged from Blade's clenched jaw. His hands balled into fists and he slammed them onto his knees. The pain of his own hits went through him with almost bone-crushing force, yet all Blade could think about was how he wished for peace.

Selfishly and, even though he wouldn't openly admit it, unfairly, Blade blamed Nyssa for this confusion in his head. He knew, he really did, that it wasn't completely her fault. But it was easier for him to blame her entirely, and it helped him try distance himself from her. He was getting too close, especially their last time alone.

Everything used to be black and white. And then he'd met Karen. There had been more and more shades of grey since meeting her. And now he didn't even know which side was black and which was white, or if that was even appropriate and not some racist bullshit made up by some rich, stuffy, white guy. Not that he ever really got into humans' racism, because he was involved in bigger racism, still. He encountered it, he knew it existed.

Blade's fingers uncurled, his elbows moving to rest on his still stinging knees. He ignored the added pain and placed his head in his hands. He was losing his cool, and that blasted cartoon show, and the even more blasted vampire Nazi, were both pushing him closer to just going into a frenzy.

This place stinks of suck heads, Whistler's missing, I have to deal with werewolves now, Scud's dead, and that damned vampire will not shut up. So why am I even giving her more of my sanity?

Rising, Blade walked over to the middle of his floor and dropped down, immediately falling into place to do push-ups. Perhaps a bit of exercise would help him cool down and clear his head.


Silence and darkness were all that existed Nomak outside his head, his body, the pain of both. It was as if his room - though it couldn't even be called his, could it? - had become a void for him to hide in, a tiny, little realm of oblivion for the time being, where he could slip into nonexistence for at least a little while.

The reaper had long since collapsed from his outbursts. His first one had been the most violent one, done the most damage. Then for nearly an hour he had laid there, until finally gathering the strength to reach over for the bags of blood Meira had left him. The blood had warmed and was worse than the blood of a sick human. It had tasted thick, spoiled, congealed. and his mouth was still dry with the aftertaste of ash.

But it had given him more strength, helped rejuvenate him, ease a tiny bit of his fever and thirst. Then he had sunk into another outburst, until finally everything had been reduced to splinters and shreds. His lights wouldn't come on anymore, not that he wanted them to. His eyes couldn't take the brightness anymore, and he didn't want to see the yellow blood he knew covered most everything.

Nomak was weaker than he'd ever been. He hadn't gone to search for more blood since the second outburst. He had gone over an hour since the blood Meira had given him, and he didn't want anymore. He wanted to lie there, let himself slowly slip into that sweet, sweet ignorance and stupidity and insanity that all the other reapers were constantly in.

It was better than the pain in his body, or worse, the pain in his head. Or even worse.

The severe ache in what he couldn't only describe as his soul.

Jared Nomak had wanted two things his whole life, just two things. He had wanted his family's love, acceptance, acknowledgement, some sort of affection and welcome.

The second thing was respect. He had so wanted his father's respect. He had never complained about his lack of freedom, about never meeting Nyssa. He kept his pain hidden when the tests performed on him hurt, or ached, or burned. He never asked for more to drink, never said he was hungry even at times when he wanted blood so much he longed to feed on the scientists around him. All to earn his father's respect. If he could not have his father's love, he could at least have Damaskinos' respect, could prove to his father that he was a worthy son.

Yet Father had shunned him, had barely acknowledged the blood their shared, the truth of their kinship. Damaskinos had done test after test after test, and when Nomak wasn't being tested on, he was being filled with information. Much of it by tutors, or the doctors and scientists that worked on him.

Nomak remembered a time, long ago, when he was very little. When his father had shown some sort of kindness, of acceptance, to placate the boy Nomak could barely remembered being. The memory was fuzzy at best, but he remembered sitting on his father's lap, and he remembered his father's voice had been gentle, patient.

Nomak moaned on the floor. The pain of the memory never lessened, and he ached for that time again. He ached to be a child, an innocent, ignorant child, once more. His father had almost loved him, once upon a time, and then when Nomak no longer needed his father's love to survive, to endure, Damaskinos had hardened his vampiric heart once more.

And he wouldn't even spare a single moment of respect, a tiny shred of it. His only son, and Nomak had never seen respect or pride in Damaskinos at how his son sucked his breath in, swallowed his sobs, bit down his whimpers.

Then Meira had to come along, and her kind, and her blasted leader, and her blasted suitor, and her blasted promise of hope, of respect. Her distractions, the way she could tempt his mind from his revenge, the one thing he wanted now. The one thing he could indeed have, she had muddled it with confusion and hope and longing, and then almost as soon as he had found that hope and latched onto it, she had pried his hands off of it and crushed it. Smashed it into tiny pieces right in front of his eyes, then made a show of desecrating the remains.

He ached from it. He was sore and tender and raw, and he wanted to escape from it. He wanted to just give in to that sweet, soothing voice in his head. The one that told him, "Let it go. Let everything go, and forget. Forget who and what you are, let this disease inside you erase your memories, erase your pain. Give in, succumb, lie down until you can't feel it hurting anymore."

Something, though, refused to give in. Something inside Nomak was fighting the insanity and bloodlust, the unbearable craving, off. Some part of him kept seeing his father, kept hearing his scornful words, the order to terminate the project, the casual dismissal, the lack of concern or sorrow or grief or regret in his eyes.

And even though he should have been well beyond the point of rescue and return, Jared Nomak was still himself. He was still Jared Nomak, son of Eli Damaskinos, heir to the vampiric throne, a prince, brother of Nyssa, and above all, the progenitor of the reaper race.

He was above this.

He was better than this.

Nomak would not allow himself to give in because of Meira, not even because of the Daywalker or Nyssa, or even Father. His will and his hatred wasn't about to let him become a rabid dog over a broken heart.

Moving as if he was weighed down, Nomak rolled onto his stomach. He placed his hands flat on the floor and pushed himself up, grunting form the exertion. He was sore and stiff and could barely move at this point. The hunger and pain was so fierce that to keep down his cries of pain, he had to bite his tongue so hard he almost bit the front half off. His face scrunched up in disgust at the sticky, near tasteless blood that oozed from the wound.

He was in sorry condition, and he was more vulnerable than ever since his escape. Yet he forced himself to his feet, and willed his legs to obey the command to walk. He held his head high and swallowed his feverish blood, if it could even be called blood anymore.

The reaper stumbled out of the remains of the guest quarters he'd been given. The light hurt his eyes, exposed his bruised skin, his body unable to heal as swiftly and efficiently as normal from the lack of blood. He held out his hands to steady himself against the wall. Head still high though, he walked as best he could in the direction opposite the way Meira had left. The once handsome, strong, and shy prince stumbled down the hallway with a bitterness and contempt more befitting someone of his birthright.

What doesn't kill you, he thought to himself. His father had told Nomak once, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." And Nomak had kept that saying close to his heart from that day forward. Meira's damage was thorough, painful, and gut-wrenching for Nomak. A betrayal he'd foolishly hoped wouldn't come, and one that had done more than he'd feared.

But he was not going to let some lycanthropic bitch cripple him, and he was not going to let himself sink as low as the rest of his kind. He was better than that.

Better than Blade.

Better than Ulric.

Better than Vladimir.

Better than Meira.

Better than Nyssa.

Better than Father.

Oh, how his father must want Nomak to sink into that state of mind. To lose his sanity, his reason, his self. To no longer be a threat to Damaskinos' reputation and position. For all the information in his mind to be lost to blind hunger.

He probably expected Nomak to become like the others. Probably thought it was assured the longer Nomak lived. Damaskinos probably thought Nomak was too weak to sustain this pain for this long. Father probably hoped his son would prove to be an even bigger failure, probably expected it more than hoped. He had shown Nomak that every attempt to earn respect had failed as miserably as the tests Nomak had endured.

Wait till you see me, Father. Wait till you see how I have beaten this, used it. Just wait. Soon your blood will be on my lips, and I'll see the fear in your eyes I know you must feel. I will smell it, taste it, and revel in it. I will let myself get drunk on it, and it will make up for all you've done. Because you will die watching me smile, intoxicated with the only thing I want from you now.


Nyssa stared into the dirty mirror as cold water dripped from her face. She splashed more on, then finally turned the faucet off. Shaking most of the water off her hands, she reached over for a grungy looking hand towel. The vampire warrior bit back her disgust and dried her face as best she could.

It wasn't like she would get sick from it or anything.

She had come into the bathroom area of Blade's hideout to try and refresh herself. Maybe even clear her head a little. Instead she'd been faced with seeing some of Scud's dirty clothing, a few items from her fallen comrades, and even remnants of what must have been Lighthammer's blood after the mutation had taken effect.

The scientist part of her had been completely fascinated, and she'd been thankful for that. Thoughts of Lighthammer and how he had become what he was now, why he wasn't mindless, why it didn't hurt him as it had Priest, had kept her in a clinical state of mind. Kept her thoughts from becoming personal, confused, and hard for her to bear.

After all that had happened, she needed her head clear, mind alert, sharp.

So far, Nyssa had figured that the reaper mutation was different for everyone. Some fell victim to the horrendous, excruciating change Priest had gone through. Others suffered only minor pain, while some didn't really suffer at all until the change was complete, their bodies adjusting slowly, so that when they finally were completely reaper, they were used to the change in their body.

It was times like these that Nyssa was grateful to her father for making her learn science when she wasn't honing her fighting skills.

As for how Lighthammer could retain some of himself, Nyssa had decided either a) all reapers retained some of their minds for a short while after their turning or b) if they fed enough then they retained more and more of their actual selves. If Lighthammer had fed often enough after his turning, it was likely that he had kept some of his self, enough of who he had been to still act like Lighthammer to a degree, and not a mindless, overactive vampire-zombie.

That was what she had come up with so far, anyway.

Perhaps I should go and talk with Blade. Inform him of my theories, see if he has any input. Or maybe he'll just grunt, shrug it off, and say if it doesn't help him kill things, it doesn't matter, she thought bitterly.

No. That's not fair, she then reprimanded herself. Blade has shown far more intelligence than I ever thought he possessed, and he even figured out many things about the reapers before I did. He has honor, dignity. His hatred for us hasn't yet taken that from him. But why must he hate us so?

Nyssa wouldn't let her mind voice the question she knew she really was thinking.

Why did he have to hate her so?

Sighing and reluctantly admitting that she needed to go sit down for a while, Nyssa headed out to join her two remaining comrades. She just hoped Reinhardt would shut up when she came out. She had no idea what had happened to her fellow Bloodpack leader, but ever since the others' deaths, he'd become quite the chatter box.

But then she supposed that with no one else to do the talking, as Snowman certainly wasn't about to speak up, Reinhardt couldn't help the ranting. It was too quiet when he actually did shut up.

Nyssa closed her eyes, grieving her fallen friends. Asad's death had hit her the hardest, she would readily admit that. That didn't mean she hadn't felt the bitter ache of loss when the others had died. She felt even worse now, with Blade shutting her out, and Lighthammer being the very thing they had to hunt and destroy.

Especially being such a powerful one.


Whistler stood at the only window in the lab room Karen had left him in. It was adjacent to the one he'd woken up in, only not as sterile feeling, a little bigger, and there were no uptight mutts to lecture him on his language.

A few minutes ago Karen had left to go see how her friend was doing. Probably a good thing, judging by the way her friend had acted. Not to mention, she hadn't been back, and Karen had gotten a feeling her friend, Meira, was going to be back quicker if everything went well.

Things never went well though. Whistler could testify to that.

Sighing, the old man walked back over to one of the semi-comfortable chairs in the room. He sat down, wincing slightly when his leg flared up, and laid his head back to get some rest. After all he'd learned, all that had happened, he needed some rest. Though he was loathe to admit it, he was getting too old for all this shit.

Not to mention he was worried sick about Blade.

Karen had known, too, and she'd tried to make the old man's fears go away. But he'd lost a family to the vampires, given up another shot because of them, and now Blade was alone among them. Well, there was Scud, but Whistler doubted Scud could help Blade against the vampires. Or the reapers, for that matter.

Definitely not the reapers.

They weren't what scared Whistler though. They were mean, nasty, and pretty one-track minded, but they weren't smart or clever enough to get under Blade's skin. Not even Nomak could do the same kind of damage as that brat sister of his - if what Karen had explained was indeed true, and Whistler had a damn good feeling it was.

Nomak wanted revenge. Nyssa and her "friends" wanted to bring Blade down, and judging by who their boss was and what Whistler had seen of them, they would do so any means necessary. Even if it was the sneaky way.

Whistler just hoped Blade didn't lower his defenses anymore. He didn't want the kid's heart broken, and he certainly didn't want it run through. He could still remember the almost rabid teenager he'd discovered, the sun shining down on bared fangs. First time Whistler had seen fangs in the daylight, and he hadn't liked it one bit.

First thing he'd thought was that somehow, vampires had beaten the daylight weakness. He'd certainly been a lot happier to discover the kid was just a half vampire. After that, the two had barely parted company for more than a couple of months at a time, up until Frost and his thugs had taken Karen and left him to turn.

Whistler grimaced, those memories not too pleasant. He'd tried to keep himself from turning. Death was better than that. Better than becoming one of those suck heads, another creature to kill someone else's family. Well, he supposed he did owe Damaskinos one "Thank you" amongst all the "Fuck yous". If the marble statue hadn't sent vampires to take him, he might have done exactly what he'd suffered through.

The sound of someone falling against the door jerked Whistler out of his thoughts, and he glanced at the door with a scowl, slowly getting up. There was silence after the fall, and for a moment he wondered if he was starting to hear things that weren't really there. But before he could sit back down, three loud, hard knocks pounded in his ears.

It sounded more like someone's skull was falling against the door three times, not someone hitting the door with their fist or knuckles.

Walking over to the door as quick as he could, Whistler opened it to find a reaper leaning against it. The reaper slid down as the door's support was moved away. Eyes closed, head back as if he couldn't hold it up, the reaper abruptly started laughing.

Well, I have a pretty good idea who this is. Didn't know he'd lost his mind though.

The reaper, who had to be Nomak, clutched his stomach as he laughed and laughed, and Whistler could tell the boy was definitely in hysterics. Not to mention he looked worse than the other reapers. His skin was paler, his veins even more visible, his eyes were sunken in and looked as if they'd both been punched repeatedly. He had hundreds of visible scars, and he was covered with a sticky, amber ooze.

Reaching down, Whistler grabbed Nomak by the shoulders, his grip firm as he gave the reaper a good, brief shake.

"Nomak," he said. His voice was loud and clear and firm, and seemed to get through to the reaper. He watched as the original reaper, who looked younger than Blade and at this moment, more fragile than he really was, slowly calmed down. "Nomak, snap out of it. What's going on?"

Whistler doubted it was anything big - he had a suspicion that the werewolves would have some kind of alarm and their own army running around if there was a big emergency. However something was obviously wrong with the reaper, besides the mutation in his body. None of the other reapers acted this way, and Nomak hadn't acted this way at all when Blade had dealt with him.

In fact, Blade had said this reaper was not only intelligent, but he was a swift learner even in battle. It had annoyed Blade.

A lot.

The hoarse laughter dying down, Nomak finally opened his eyes. He looked up at Whistler, and the old man studied the reaper's gaze. Pale, almost colorless irises circled tiny pupils, and though he wasn't squinting, Whistler got the impression the light was more than bright enough for the reaper's tastes. The irises were surrounded by more crimson than white, his veins enlarged and taking over the eyes practically.

What Whistler noticed most about Nomak's gaze though, was the questioning, hopeful, and fearful look it held. He felt like he was staring down at a child, not a grown man who was the progenitor of a race of mutated vampires.

"You don't hate me?"

That question blind-sided Whistler. He hadn't expected that from the young male at his feet, hadn't expected that look, hadn't expected any of it. He supposed he hadn't really had much expectations period, but this, this took him back completely.

He hid his surprise, and his uncertainty regarding the answer, with a scowl. "Come on, let's get you in here and somewhere more comfortable than that floor," he stated calmly, and moved his grip down to under Nomak's biceps.

The reaper carried most of his weight, and despite the weakened condition he appeared to be in, could probably have picked himself up on his own. But he seemed to be purposefully leaning into Whistler, allowing the human to help him up. He acted as though he wanted someone to help him, whether he needed it or not.

Maybe he really did need it. Just not for quite the same reason Whistler had intended.

"Thank you," Nomak whispered hoarsely, and he stared at Whistler. That pale, milky gaze was piercing, studying, seizing Whistler up and watching with fascination. He looked so old and so young at the same time, and Whistler found himself pondering over the reaper's question.

Did Whistler hate him?

No, he couldn't say that he did. When he'd watched that tape of Nomak, he'd felt a strange sort of satisfaction, watching the vampires squirm, watching something feed off of them for a change. When he'd heard their offer, he had wanted to scoff at it and throw it in Damaskinos' face. When Blade had accepted, Whistler had thought it stupid - why not let them finish off the suck heads, then take them out? If they even were that dangerous.

Whistler had loved the fact that now there was something to make the vampires sweat, to make them feel the way humans felt when they learned of vampires and didn't go down the Familiar road.

And after Blade had explained what had happened when he and Nomak had met, Whistler had wanted to smack Blade upside the head for not taking Nomak's offer. Now, after Karen had explained more of Nomak's history, he realized that would have been the wise thing to do.

In a lot of ways, he supposed Nomak and Blade were similar. But the male he was looking at didn't seem to be the same Nomak Blade had met, or the one on the tape. He wasn't like the Blade of today. Right now, he was the Blade Whistler had discovered on the streets, the one who wasn't fully sure of himself, who had nobody and nothing. Just the clothes on his back and the power in his body.

"You're welcome," Whistler replied, and led Nomak to the chair he'd been sitting in earlier. He claimed the one across from it, and plopped down with a grimace. Then he looked over at the reaper, studying him again.

Nomak glanced around the room, taking in the sight of everything. His gaze lingered on the fridge, longing and contempt mingled in his eyes now. Then he looked back at Whistler, made direct eye contact for several moments, studying the old man, and then he lowered his head.

"You're Abraham Whistler, Blade's companion."

He didn't ask it, he stated it. When he said the last word, his already hoarse voice became more strained, choked.

Whistler cocked his head at the reaper, nodding. "Yeah, that'd be me. And you're Jared Nomak. Damaskinos' son," he responded, and he got a baleful glare from the reaper now. He saw nothing but hatred in those eyes, his face contorted in rage.

"I am nothing to him. In his mind, I am a project. In my mind, he is a corpse to be buried." Nomak's voice was laced with venom, and he shook slightly, as if his anger was a struggle for him to contain. He stared Whistler down, giving the old man the impression of a snake, coiled and ready to strike.

He wasn't afraid though, because Nomak didn't want to strike at him. He wanted to strike at Damaskinos. He understood the question now, the look earlier, the way Nomak choked on "companion". He should have figured it out already, and he mentally berated himself for not piecing it together sooner.

"You have my vote on that," Whistler muttered, and got up. He knew the kid was thirsty, so he went to the fridge, grabbed a blood bag, and tossed it over. "Go on. I don't squick easy."

Sensing the old man was telling the truth, and obviously grateful for knowing he could feed without getting a grossed out look from Whistler, Nomak tore the bag open. He guzzled the blood down. Once the bag was sucked dry of every drop, Nomak panted slightly as he took in air again. His eyes then darted over to Whistler, checking to make sure the old man hadn't deceived him most likely.

He hadn't. Whistler sat there with his usual scowl-like gaze. He'd never seen someone drink anything that fast, and he found it strange to see this creature so greatly feared being more vulnerable than a five-year old.

"Get more if you need it. I've got a feeling there's plenty more in this place," he commented. He met Nomak's eyes, saw the hunger in them. He felt slightly ill, remembering when he'd suffered from the bloodlust himself, and he almost shuddered. The thought that he would cause damage to Nomak kept him from showing any disgust though, because he had a feeling Nomak would think it was directed at the reaper.

And Whistler didn't want to, upset, Nomak anymore than he already had been so far.

"Why do you not hate me?" Nomak asked, surprising Whistler again. He'd seemed so hungry, Whistler had been certain the reaper would be at the fridge before Whistler could even blink. Instead he just sat there, voicing the question that was more important than filling himself, for some reason.

Pondering over that, Whistler's scowl deepened, and he looked at the table for a moment. He knew Nomak was staring at him, waiting for an answer. He looked up and saw the reaper had a strange mixture of hope and morbid resignation.

"Because," Whistler started, giving Nomak the honest answer that was quite simple really, if anyone actually thought about it. "I have no reason to. You've done nothing to me, you didn't do much to Blade. Hell, you even offered to form an alliance with him." Whistler sighed, studying the kid sitting across from him. "Way I see it, you've been betrayed by your old race, and now you're to them what they are to me, Blade, and anyone else who knows of them and can't do anything about 'em.

"If you had hurt Blade more than a couple cuts and bruises, and a slightly damaged ego," Whistler knew if Blade ever found out he'd said that, the kid would make him regret it, but it was true, "then I'd be right angry with you. But doubt I'd hate you then anyway, unless you somehow managed to kill him."

Nomak stared at Whistler with what could only be shock. Eyes wide, mouth almost hanging open, jaw slack, his whole posture frozen in what had to be the cliché "shocked" pose.

"It's not that big of a deal. I have no reason to hate you, Nomak," Whistler stated, his tone indicating that it was a simple fact. But it was one that you didn't realize until you had to think about it.

Come to think of it, he doubted Blade hated the reaper. Though Blade did think of Nomak with disgust, distaste, and great annoyance. To Blade, Nomak was a monster to be hunted and killed - not necessarily worse than the vampires, but definitely more dangerous.

However, far as Whistler was concerned, Nomak was a boy who had been forced to become a mutation, and who wanted justification for what had happened. But wanted acceptance even more - even if he wouldn't admit it out loud.

You're getting sentimental in your old age. Last thing you need is another son-figure that could kick your ass and kill you in three seconds flat.

Still, Whistler couldn't help it. He'd lost his first family to vampires and his second had been an accident - one he didn't necessarily regret, but one he couldn't afford - and he'd had to give them up for their own sakes. Blade had lost his mother to a vampire - he still couldn't believe it was Frost - and Nomak had been abandoned by his.

They were just one big, dysfunctional, ragtag, adopted family.

Yeah. Blade's gonna love that idea.