Chapter 15: Purposes
Dwight followed Jeremy out of the room and out towards the stairwell. He almost felt glad that he had told the boy about the incident. Jeremy seemed to be taking this more seriously and less violently than the vampire had anticipated. As they reached the base of the stairs, the younger motioned for the immortal to go first. Dwight narrowed his eyes, trying to decipher the precise reason for this unexpected gesture. He growled inwardly at realizing that not only was he too frustrated with Ceridwen to be at his best with his senses, but he was also growing hungry. He shook his head and moved past the boy. His nerves lit up as he felt something suddenly begin to sting at the base of his neck near his shoulder, but it was too late to defend against whatever it was from doing damage. Dwight reached up and tried to take hold of what must have pierced his skin. He withdrew an emergency syringe. He had seen these in airfield first aid kits used to hold things like insulin, epinephrine, and so on. He cursed himself silently and turned back to face Jeremy.
"Goodnight," the boy said coldly.
Dwight breathed deeply and turned back to the stairs. He managed to walk up three steps before his vision field began to shrink. He drew in all the strength he could muster and told himself that he was only a few feet from the landing. Once at the landing, he could make it to his own room in a matter of five steps. Waiting to fall into unconsciousness until he was in his own room would show the little twerp who was in control. His limbs seemed to be filling with sand as he pressed forward. Each step past the third seemed to be one of a thousand that he had already climbed. He groaned a little louder than inwardly as the landing grew closer. Only two steps away now. He leaned forward, thinking that perhaps he might pull himself up more fully if he could only get a good grip on the floor. His body began to remind him of how comfortable the floor could be, supporting his heavy extremities with polished, wooden vigilance. He blinked once, forcing his eyelids harshly into his cheeks. The gesture was, unfortunately, the last bit of energy within. He felt his body collide with the landing as warmth and darkness surrounding him.
Drat, he muttered to himself in the darkness. What is wrong with that boy? What did I do? I am trying to help his imbecilic sister and this is what I get in return? This is exactly why I should have left weeks ago. The information is still here, you will not have it unless you are patient, something else said. Dwight did not recognize this voice. He frowned and tried to open his eyes. When he had dreamed these past few months he had been able to communicate with Ceridwen in some kind of bizarre academic setting. That had usually been when she was asleep as well. What would he see in a slumber without her being present? He had often dreamt of his victims when his mind had allowed him to see his own dreams. Since becoming a vampire the screams, pleas, and mangled bodies alongside the memory of being attacked had haunted his days and nights.
Dwight felt his chest grow tight at thinking about facing the nightmares again. He had been blissfully spared from them for the past few months and he was not about to start back. He sighed heavily and began to think of a way, any way, to wake himself up immediately. A sharp, icicled chill stabbed at his lungs and shattered with a deep and panicked breath into thousands of painful shards that swam through the small amount of blood in his veins and began trying to tear their way to the surface of his skin. He felt the need to cry out in pain, but wanted to reserve more energy for the task of rousing himself. He had been to under-focused to keep himself awake on the stairs. Why had his senses been so stunted as of late? He had only noticed the change when it truly mattered; Ceridwen would never have been able to sneak up on him in the forest, nor would Dees have been able to sneak up to the window and demand entrance. Dwight tried to shove all other thoughts aside and think only about climbing out of this darkness. A sudden sensation of being grabbed firmly on the shoulder stole his attention. He quickly cursed and forced his eyes open. As the fatigued lids of the vampire opened slowly, the figure of a young woman came into focus. Dwight narrowed his gaze and tried to familiarize himself with the form as he clearly began to feel the presence of the girl's hand on his shoulder.
"Ceridwen?" he asked in confusion; hoping that the girl had somehow made it into his unconsciousness even while being awake. As his vision cleared, his heart sank. Ceridwen was awake and would not be joining him. "Oh," he said softly with a heavy tone of disappointment.
"Well, it's good to see you, too, Mr. Sunshine," the girl replied. Dwight recognized the face and eyes as that of the girl from several days before in a dream. The girl had been at the same school setting as himself and Ceridwen, but had not seemed to be either the same age or from the same region. This girl must have been from a similar bloodline, though. Her features still reminded him of the werecat waiting for him in the mansion. "I guess I'll just let you get back to sleep."
"Wait," Dwight exclaimed quickly. If there was one thing he hated to be, it was being alone against his will. The girl smiled at him and placed both hands near her hips. "What are you doing here? Are you from the waking world like Ceridwen and myself? Is this some sort of astral plane?"
"Yeah, kind of," the girl replied as she looked over her shoulder. She turned back to Dwight and raised one brow in curiosity. "What's it to you?"
"I might be able to do more research here, then," he said softly; the words meant more for himself than for anyone else. "I could know more about her condition than she knows about mine."
The girl let out a loud, and unintentionally scornful, laugh at his words. Dwight looked up at her with the precursor of contempt. She smiled and, in one fluid movement, sat down beside him on the ground. Dwight suddenly noticed that he was sitting in the middle of an abandoned soccer field. The sky was darkened as if night were beginning to descend over the short-cut grass and plastic netted goals. He frowned and looked into the girl's vibrant, verdant eyes as she readied to say something.
"You might be able to do reading about the conditions in here, sweetie, but Ceri's also got experience with this stuff," the girl said.
Dwight looked away. "She barely knows how to handle her illness," he replied. The girl sat back away from him and rolled her eyes in agitation. "She still has little idea what causes her fits and what does not."
"Puh-lease; do you really think that she was being entirely truthful to you when she said that? Come on, as ridiculously reckless as the US government can be when it comes to its staffing, their bureau of 'vampires and werewolves' wouldn't have allowed an ignorant werecat to start treating a rampaging vampire," she replied. Dwight snarled and flashed red in his eyes towards her. The girl smiled and tilted her head. "Are you offended at the ignorant comment, or the rampaging?"
"If you had to ask me if I was offended at all, then you should be apologizing," he growled.
The girl looked shocked and quickly brought a hand to her chest. With the other, she grasped his shoulder and leaned in to speak more clearly. "I deeply apologize for any offense," she said with feigned remorse. Dwight growled more loudly and shoved her away from him, trying to raise himself to standing. He realized yet another strange factor present this time; he was as he appeared to others, not a school boy. He felt a measure of disappointment at this. It had almost been worth dreaming to be young and carefree again. He turned and watched as the girl stood. "Look, something happened where you are, or you wouldn't be here."
"What do you mean, where I am, where are you?" he shot back. She smiled brightly.
"Doesn't matter, the point is something made you sleep before morning," she said as she began to saunter past him. Dwight watched in confusion. This girl was even more confusing than Ceridwen. She appeared to have a rather undistinguishable age and origin. She was dressed more to be attending a film festival than to be sitting with him on a soccer field. Ceridwen had always been dressed in more casual school attire, but this girl was most definitely donning a level of confident that Ceridwen had yet to achieve.
"Who are you?" Dwight finally managed to ask.
The girl grinned brightly, apparently having waited some time for this question. "Call me Elle, that's simple enough for now." She moved closer to him, trying to discern what had brought him here. Dwight glaced cautiously to the side. "Did Jeremy slug you, or slip you something?"
Dwight stared at the girl in further confusion. "How do you know about Jeremiah?" he asked.
The girl turned and smiled brightly. "Have you noticed yourself feeling more tired lately? I'm sensing some kind of question about what's happened to you physically lately," she continued. "He's probably altering it by some means since he's in charge of preparing your blood."
"How do you know this!?" Dwight demanded more loudly, starting towards her as if to attack. The girl took a few steps away, more out of concern than fear. Dwight froze as he began to feel uncharacteristically warm. His heart began to race and he was sure every vessel in his body was suddenly on fire. "What is happening?" he whispered.
The girl moved towards him, her smile fading. "You're being given something to wake you up from something chemical. I'm guessing he gave you pure chloroform or something like it. It's different in our systems than in a regular human's," she explained. Dwight's expression changed as he felt breath leave him. Was the girl a vampire as well? She sighed and looked behind her once more. As he leaned forward, feeling air becoming too heavy to draw in anymore, she leaned over him. "Listen, the real reason I wanted to speak with you was to clarify something that's going on in your part of the world. Ceridwen will find out about it soon, or maybe she already knows and isn't saying anything."
A flicker of recognition moved past the staggering heat within him and he raised his eyes to meet hers. "The killings," he breathed.
The girl's breath stopped for a moment as she looked down. "You know about them?" she said softly. She knelt and placed both hands on his shoulders as he leaned onto the ground, feeling as fatigued and ill as he had when being sedated. "What's doing it?"
"It is not Ceridwen, it cannot be," he replied softly. His mind began to race. "Her scent was there, but not an exact match, there was something else." The girl continued staring at him as he felt the urge to lie down and let this newer unconsciousness take him more deeply. "She has a sister; perhaps her sister is nearby."
"Her sister is in eastern Europe," the girl said defensively. A tone of desperation was mixing with the concern in her voice as she tightened her grip on his shoulders. Dwight wanted to throw her hands away from him, to force her to leave. Surely the air would be easier to breath and the world would be more comfortable if he were alone for the time being. "It's not Lucy, do you hear me? It can't be!" she shouted. Dwight found her excitement odd, but was a little too distracted to try and think about it any further than simply noticing. He felt her face right in front of his. Her breath and heartbeat had begun to race. Why was she suddenly so afraid? No, he realized. It was not fear, it was desperation for knowledge, something he was beginning to know quite well. "What else was there? What else did you smell?"
Dwight smiled slightly. At last, he had power over another that was more than simply baring his fangs in anger. He had always enjoyed games on a more intellectual level, but now he was seeing the wonder of holding information as a more meaningful prize. The girl snarled and him and made her grip into a painful grasp, nearly digging her trimmed nails through his clothing and into his flesh. He chuckled softly and allowed the heat to envelope him as his heart raced so rapidly he was sure it would soon explode. "It was more than Ceridwen," he said with a sigh. As the world grew so bright that his vision was blocked, Dwight was sure he could hear the girl screaming his name and demanding that he stay and explain what he had discovered. The light began to diminish and the heat began to fade slowly. Dwight felt his heart slowing and then two fingers press firmly into the side of his neck.
"His pulse is stabilizing," he heard a masculine voice say emotionlessly in the distance. Noise seemed to be filtering through at least 30 feet of open air before it reached him at the moment, but there was noise. There were the sounds of a few pieces of machinery whirring and the beeping of diagnostic equipment that had given favourable readings. He felt a wave of cool air sweep away more of the heat as his heart beat as powerfully and steadily as ever.
"Good, his O2 and fluids seem to be normal as well," Ceridwen's voice added. Dwight felt a small emission of adrenaline slip from above his left abdomen and swirl into his chest at the sound of her voice. The beat of his heart increased ever so slightly with the tiny drop of energy, but not enough match the incident that had occurred only seconds earlier. "His respiration is normalizing. Dwight? Dwight can you hear me?" she began to ask loudly.
The young vampire could now feel the girl's presence; she stood only a few feet away from him, looking over him. He felt a sense of peace return to him at knowing she was nearby. Whether it was the thought that his main resistance on escaping was close enough to handle once again or it was a measure of comfort at the girl's kind nature was yet to be determined. He tried to open both eyes to get a better look at her, but was finding it increasingly difficult to move as pain began to settle over each free nerve. He felt his lungs expand with relief at finally being awake once more.
Another heat wave began to wash over him as the relief waned. This heat was nothing short of unadulterated anger; anger that would be aimed most directly at Jeremiah. Dwight allowed the rhythm of his heart to be his only focus as he looked around the room he lay in. He was in his own room once more, lying on the bed with Ceridwen near him and two other medical operatives who had been tending to him and taking vital signs. He smirked at recognizing a few of the machines and instruments from seeing television shows and, on a rare instance, the medical supplies for an airport. There had been a defibrillation device nearby in case something went wrong. Dwight narrowed his eyes at the machine, wondering what exactly had happened to him that would warrant the need of things altering his heartbeat.
"You can go on, for now. Thank you for reacting so quickly," Ceridwen said to the other two men. They nodded and swept out of the room instantly. Dwight was sure that his vision and perception of time must have been damaged for the time being since no human could move as quickly as he had just seen. He shook his head and tried to focus more clearly on what was around his body. He knew he was clothed from the waist down, but he could feel a slight breeze over his chest. Ceridwen sighed heavily and walked over to the bed, leaning near his face to speak quietly. "Dwight? Are you able to speak?"
He groaned and tried to sit upright, finding that his muscles were not at all responding. "I am," he replied with disappointment. "What happened to me after Jeremiah drugged me?"
Dwight could see the girl's face twist ever so slightly in anger. "You collapsed. He came and got me almost immediately and said that you weren't breathing. He was wrong, of course, you were breathing but very shallowly. The medical team got you into your room and started a few tests after giving you some blood to combat the seizure."
"The what?" Dwight asked in confusion.
"You had a seizure, a small one, maybe a petit mal, but it was a reaction to being so dehydrated. That's my doing, I'm afraid. I should have kept better track of you, I should have done more for you all along," she said, her voice beginning to break.
Dwight felt a surge of guilt move through him. Ceridwen looked positively heartbroken. He drew in a deep breath, pushing strength into his back and sitting up. Ceridwen, startled, jumped a few inches backwards. He reached out and grasped her hand, reassuring himself that this was the waking world and that he hadn't died like a coward from a silly reaction to a chemical. Dwight had always dreamed of being a warrior, a soldier whose life was taken by force. After the years of illness, it seemed a more just death than anything else. "How long have I been like this?" he asked, feeling more disoriented now that he could see and hear the world around him. The input of the peripheral senses almost clouded things more for him than relying on the internals.
"Just an hour or so, actually," she said. "Don't worry, I've already called a meeting to set up a more productive schedule for us. You need to eat more regularly and the lectures will give you something to look forward to. As for Jeremy, I think he needs to be re-located."
"Perhaps," Dwight said grasping the back of his head as he felt himself falling backwards without movement. He groaned. Besides the formal discipline, Dwight wanted a word with the little weasel to give him a lesson that he wouldn't forget, ever. He had been doing his utmost to try and hurt the vampire since his arrival, and this was too far. Jeremiah had obviously, and deliberately given him an abnormal dose of something. In any other human, it would have killed. He fought the urge to transform and seek vengeance as he looked back up at the girl. "Let me speak to him for a moment, perhaps he and I might come to an understanding of why he has committed yet another attempt on my life, such as it is."
Ceridwen drew the corner of her mouth to one side, thinking earnestly about the suggestion. Jeremy had only told her that he had given Dwight a sedative when he had started shouting at him. Ceridwen had given Jeremiah a cruel look and reminded him that she had exceptional hearing and that no sounds of shouting had come from either end of the mansion. To this, Jeremy confessed to feeling angry at the fact that Dwight had left the mansion and wanted to have him sedated while calling headquarters to report a breach, hoping to anger the medical team and alert them to the vampire having run freely in his reformist's absence. Ceridwen remembered raising her voice, but not the precise level she had used when telling her brother and the team that a visitor had come to call and they went outside for a few moments, nothing more. Markus, one of the operatives, had confirmed this from the other side of the room. The girl had been frustrated enough with her own internal changes, the information regarding the sudden slaughters, the accusations against Lucille, the thought that Lucille was missing, and then finding that Dwight had ventured off. Jeremy had managed to be the proverbial straw that brought the entire mess to its calumnious culmination. She sighed heavily wandering if it was wise to allow a recovering vampire to face a previous attacker while still in bed, both for the sake of the patient and the sake of her brother. Dwight hadn't seemed dangerous in the past few months, but if there was one thing the girl had learned it was that tigers are tigers and no matter their location, their primal nature follows. All preternatural creatures were dangerous; even she was dangerous.
"Are you sure you're up to talking with him?" she asked carefully. "He seems a little frazzled now that he's been caught."
"Meaning that he is significantly less likely to try anything similar," Dwight explained. "He is only human, but I need a word with him; I had something I needed to tell him before this incident," he explained.
Ceridwen stared at him pensively. Was Dwight hiding something as well? The vampire looked away, trying his best to shield his vulnerable eyes from her penetrative gaze. She shouldn't know the details of what he and Dees had found until he had conferred with Jeremiah, threatening him if necessary, about anything that might be hunting her. Dwight didn't believe for a minute that Ceridwen was behind a killing of any kind; his sense of potential harm had been untouched by the recent lack of vibrancy in all of his other special gifts. He could still smell an innocence in the girl that had yet to shed blood whatsoever, not even in cutting into a slice of meat. While this was fascinating and made him curious about how she had lived all these years with a violent condition, he needed to ensure that she would be around to give him the information he desired; and the only way to do that was to either destroy what was after her (which he had theorized was the true reason for the killings since it shared her genetic scent) or cure her from whatever was causing her to berserk.
Ceridwen nodded with resignation. "I'll send him in, he seemed to be concerned about being the first person to talk to you when you woke up. I am going to be trusting and assume that the two of you were, in fact, arguing and are not hiding something from me," she said. Dwight felt another, sharper, stab of guilt in his solar plexus. "That's something I just can't stand."
"Unusual," Dwight muttered as he looked down and noticed that he was naked from the waist up with a few markings that indicated the drawing of blood and the placement of a few pieces of medical equipment used to monitor the heart. He smirked. "I was always led to believe that the fairer sex are masters in the art of scheming. After all, it was not a man who invented the masquerade."
Ceridwen frowned at him, feeling that her notion of her brother and Dwight having some sort of secret was now confirmed. Dwight became more verbose when trying to hide something with cleverness. She shook her head. How could she think such a thing? She hadn't known him long enough or well enough to make that sort of statement. She scolded herself repeatedly as she moved towards the door, trying to make more sense of all of this as well as stating firmly that she had been a poor example of a reformist and that her methods would change starting tomorrow. Dwight watched the girl move slowly from the room. Whatever had happened or been said while he had been unconscious had truly made her rethink her behaviour. Her eyes had become more fixed, more focused on something above herself. Perhaps the entire thought of keeping him here had been brought into question. That did not particularly matter to him, now. With the device still gone, he would be able to get away from the mansion as soon as Ceridwen had gone over the rest of the manual on vampiricism. While Dwight was sure that he could easily have picked up information on his own from the text and then looked for other materials from the organization, he knew the benefit of having an instructor.
He thought for a moment about what exactly could be done to keep Ceridwen from being too suspicious of what he and Jeremiah would discuss. Jeremy would be wary of telling her for emotional reasons, but really for her current health's sake it would be in her best interest not to know that her genetic scent had been found at the scene of a murder. As he pondered different things he could ask her to research that would take up a substantial amount of research as a distraction, Jeremy entered the room. He stared uneasily at the vampire from across the room. Dwight breathed deeply and continued fighting away the urge to transform and slay the little brat. Later, there are more important things to do; he said to himself.
"You fell pretty hard, but it didn't change that weird shape to your head," Jeremy said trying to lighten the mood with his own humour. Dwight snarled at him and reached over to the bedside, seizing the large book on vampiricism and hurling it at the boy. Jeremy had been too uneasy to dodge the assault and fell backwards an inch as the hard-bound cover collided with his head. "Ow! What?! You're fine! I didn't hurt you!"
"The team of operatives steadying the abnormal quivering of my myocardium would disagree, but that was not why I disciplined you just now," the vampire replied in a low voice.
"Then what was that for and why do you even want me in here?" Jeremy grumbled. The tongue-lashing he had received from Ceridwen while the team had been at work on Dwight had been harsh enough.
"Do you not think that the operatives will be suspicious of your sister if you begin to act out of sorts, you fool?!" he hissed. Jeremy frowned and looked away in embarrassment. "I told you that I wished to speak with you about what I had found, not that I wanted to take your sister to the authorities and demand that they subdue her. I am assuming that you lashed out at me chemically in order to protect her and not because you are malicious."
"Hey, if it gets around that you're roaming all over the place in the first stages of your reformation then Ceridwen could be banned from a normal life," the boy retorted. "Besides, I wasn't sure that you were being honest."
"And you feel that silence is better evidence than an explanation?" Dwight growled. Jeremy sighed and shook his head. "Now, thanks to you, my head is throbbing, I am experiencing unprecedented nausea, and I feel positively exhausted."
"Not my fault," Jeremy shrugged.
"It is entirely your fault!" Dwight shouted. "That aside, I need for you to do the investigating that Richard and I were unable to do properly."
"I'm not going out into the middle of nowhere where you might have left some kind of nasty trap for me," Jeremy said defensively. Dwight growled more loudly. "Watch it, Dracula. Ceri knows that the device isn't in your head anymore and she made me swear on pain of being removed from this case that I wouldn't tell anyone. Don't think for a minute that I wouldn't accidentally turn it back on."
"There is something sharing your sister's illness that is on the hunt and you are threatening me?" Dwight laughed. "Perhaps it would be better to trust the task to Dees alone."
"Fine; I'll tell him to get his bald, white butt out here in the morning and go back to where you guys were. There's been several murders over the past three weeks, but Ceridwen's been more focused on you to come up with any of her theories. She's one of those people that can watch a crime show and know the ending like five minutes in, you know?" Jeremy stammered. Dwight could tell that Jeremiah was covering for his fear of going out against something that may turn out to be related to his adopted sibling and his guilt of nearly killing her latest assignment. "How did you come to the premature conclusion that this thing is after her, anyway?"
"Why else would a pattern of killings come closer to the mansion and share her scent? I truly hate repeating myself, Jeremiah, and I do believe that I said that to you earlier," Dwight grumbled as he rubbed his head gingerly. Jeremy scoffed and turned towards the door. "Your sister seems different now."
"She realizes that I've been right; she hasn't taken this as seriously as she should have. She started off with the whole rescuing a lost puppy attitude and didn't calculate that you might have different opinions and a belligerent personality." Jeremy answered quickly. He frowned and hesitated a moment. Dwight felt, for the first time in years, a chill settling over his chest. He groaned uncomfortably and began rubbing his shoulders. "You'll be happy to know she's given me a reprimand on my permanent record and I'll be under house arrest once it gets back to headquarters next week. She was really scared you were going to die."
"Apparently with good reason," Dwight said. "I do find it odd that while I need blood to survive, when a normal person like yourself makes a deliberate attack against another that brings them so close to death all you receive is a slap on the hand and you feel wronged, but you feel that people like myself should be destroyed." He smirked with amusement as Jeremy's eyes burned with indignation. "I do believe that you and I are on equal ground at the moment."
"I do not kill people!" Jeremy shouted furiously. Dwight, surprised by the outburst, lifted one brow. The boy stood, quivering with anger for a moment that Dwight could tell came from guilt that stemmed from more than simply this incident. What lurked in the boy's past that could have made him so defensive? After living with a werecat and a mother who became a vampire, what could he have done that made him feel so protective of his own good reputation? "Look, I, I, I'm sorry I drugged you like that, alright? Just don't tell anyone about wandering off or imply you found anything incriminating while I try to investigate. I don't think even Richard knows what some of the operatives do about all of this. The bureau has done a good job of keeping it quiet and it's pretty recent. Ceridwen hasn't even sensed how many deaths there have been and how far away. I've got to do something to get her lycangrophine under control again."
"Good evening, then," Dwight said dismissively. Jeremy scowled and headed out of the room. The vampire laid his head back against the pillow and thought for a moment. He had been able to establish a connection with Dees. Perhaps he could oversee the investigation as well without taxing himself too greatly. It still seemed odd to the immortal that the sedative had reacted so badly in his system. There was something else at hand and Jeremiah was behind it. Not that the boy would confess, but Dwight decided then and there to demand that any blood he received here be from Ceridwen's hand only. The boy was not to be trusted, even by his own standards.