Title: We Part at This Reunion
Fandom: Hey Arnold!
Words: approx. 1,620
Summary: Phoebe's decision to break up with Gerald does not go as planned.
Warning: Vampirism, mild sexuality
Disclaimer: HA! belongs to Craig Bartlett, I make no money from this.
Author's Note: This was first posted on deviantART a week or so ago as a belated birthday gift for kev1000. Huge thanks to xxblackout on livejournal for the beta!
"Is everything okay, miss?"
Phoebe turned towards the voice. After having stared out the dark window for so long, her eyes took a moment to readjust. The elderly man, two seats down, was leaning towards her with an expression of polite concern.
"Pardon me?" Phoebe asked.
"You look a bit peaky," the man explained, just before the announcement came over the airport PA system that Flight 149 had landed.
When it finished, the man looked at her again. He had grey eyebrows so thick they drooped in front of his eyes. "You waitin' for someone you haven't seen in a while?"
Phoebe nodded tersely and looked away.
It wasn't exactly true; it had only been a week since she'd last seen Gerald, but it felt like a lifetime ago. It might appear rude to turn away from the old man in such a dismissive manner, but she was in no mood to discuss this with a stranger. She needed to prepare herself for seeing Gerald, for the hard words she planned to say tonight. Break-ups were never easy, but Phoebe could see no way around it. She'd have to tell him that it just wasn't working, that his job took him away from her too often and too long. This was what she would tell him, because she couldn't imagine telling him the real reason she needed to stay away: because she was a vampire.
The occupants of Flight 149 began to flood the room, introducing a wave of new sound and vivification. They scattered towards exits and waiting loved ones. An elderly woman greeted the man that had spoken to Phoebe, and they silently embraced. Husband and wife, perhaps. Or brother and sister. Either way, a reunion that upset Phoebe's guts as if her gastrointestinal tract were fastened in knots.
Then Gerald walked into the room.
"Phoebe!" he exclaimed, rushing forward and dropping his bag so he could gather her in his arms.
"Oh, Gerald," she said into the warm curve of his shoulder. "I missed you."
He placed a chaste kiss on her lips. "I missed you too, Pheebs. Lets get outta here."
Ahead of them, the elderly couple was hobbling along slowly; Phoebe and Gerald followed them for less than a minute before walking around them. The old man offered a polite smile as they passed. No, Phoebe finally answered the man's question in her mind, nothing is okay. Nothing will ever be okay again.
With their luggage collected, they loaded the car and left the airport. Phoebe insisted on driving so she would have something to distract her hands with. She trained her eyes on the dark freeway as Gerald told stories of his short business trip to Texas. Her hands no longer sweat, she realized.
Just say it. Just tell him you're leaving him. But she couldn't do it. Gerald -- sweet Gerald with his posh suit and his pride -- deserved better. He deserved an explanation. The truth.
"--think that's what really won 'em over. They like it when you're personable, you know? I swear, by the time I handed them my business card, they were ready to snatch up proposed equipment plus--"
"Gerald, I'm a vampire."
Gerald's train of words came to an abrupt halt.
Phoebe cringed and grasped for continuance. "I know the odds seem astronomically unlikely--"
Gerald's burst of laughter interrupted her. "Alright, alright, I get it. I'm talkin' too much." He leaned toward her with a smirk. "So, how've you been, babe?"
She couldn't meet his eyes.
"Is everything okay?" Gerald asked. "How'd the doctor's appointment go?"
"What?" Phoebe belatedly remembered she'd had an appointment that week. "Oh. No, I skipped it."
Gerald's eyebrows scrunched up in worry. Phoebe wasn't the type to skip important things like doctor's appointments. "Why?"
Again, she struggled to find the right words. She made the split decision to veer off the nearby exit ramp. It was not the neighborhood they lived in, but it was an area they'd both been to before. Feeling his eyes on her the entire time, she pulled off the side of the road beneath a streetlamp and parked the car. She finally looked at him. The falling light drew shadows down his face, sharpening his look of concern.
"Something happened to me."
"What happened?" Gerald more demanded than asked. She must have hesitated too long, because Gerald continued, "Phoebe, did someone hurt you?"
Phoebe saw the heat behind his gaze. She didn't see how she could possibly explain. He wouldn't believe her. Hell, she wouldn't have believed herself. But when she forced herself to start, the words poured out in a rush.
"It was outside the supermarket. I had just done the shopping and I was heading back to my car when a man... h-he came out of nowhere. He bit me. He changed me, Gerald. I'm different now... and you deserve better. You deserve someone you can grow old with!"
"Who did it? What did he do?"
Phoebe just shook her head. He didn't understand what she was saying. If her eyes could shed tears (she'd learned they couldn't days ago), they'd be doing it now.
"I'll kill him," Gerald whispered fiercely.
"I already did."
Astonishment replaced his anger. His features crinkled up in a look of dubiety. "You... killed someone?"
"It was an accident! I mean, I-I was trying to defend myself. His head broke the window and it cut through his neck... I didn't think it would kill him," she explained.
Clutching her seat belt, she added, "Although, technically, he was dead to begin with."
He stared at her, stared as if trying to determine if this was a joke, some absurd attempt at acting out some urban legend, as they'd done repeatedly throughout their youth. It was a look of mistrust, and Phoebe detested it.
"Oh, Gerald. Please don't look at me like that."
Leave him be, a voice whispered as Gerald sank gradually further back into the passenger seat, gradually further from her. Maybe he'll leave you. All the better; then you won't have to go through the trouble of leaving him.
"No!" She unbuckled her seat belt and reached for Gerald's shoulders. She pressed her cheek to his warm chest, unable to let him distance himself. She couldn't bear to part with him. She realized this now.
"I'm not going anywhere," he said, wrapping his arms around her small frame. "I'm here, Pheebs. I'm right here."
Phoebe imagined leaving Gerald. She imagined Gerald moving on with his life, advancing in his career, taking lesser women into his bed. The idea of Gerald with another woman set Phoebe's veins ablaze, and she grabbed his face and claimed his lips. He kissed back, slow at first, but quickly speeding up to match her pace. A car drove by, headlights blaring past the windshield, but neither cared. Phoebe put her whole body into the kiss, propelled by the energy stirring in her stomach. Sex hunger and blood hunger. She moved her mouth to Gerald's neck and bit down.
At first, he groaned his approval and moved a hand down to her buttocks. He shifted so his groin pressed against her leg, which was folded up on the seat. She remembered what it felt like to be bitten: arousing and numbing all at once. Not numbing enough to erase pain, but enough to not immediately realize your blood was being sucked out. Gerald's grip on Phoebe grew tighter and tighter, almost enough to bruise.
"Dang, that really hurts. You sure got some teeth on you. I think I'm bleeding..."
He tried to pull away, but Phoebe kept him close with the arm she snaked around his back. She knew he was losing it. As his strength and arousal diminished, his panic rose.
Phoebe slid her other hand to his nape. She pressed her palm down to keep his neck still, but rubbed her fingers in a soothing motion.
"Stop!" he protested. But he was weak, already wilting in her arms. She stroked his hair and placed a gentle kiss on his lips. He made a small pleading noise she'd never heard from him before.
She needed something sharp.
After a moment's consideration, she reached back and twisted the keys, shutting off the car. She pulled the keys from the ignition and shifted Gerald's feeble body so she could press one key to her own neck. Pushing down hard, she dragged the key across her skin until she bled.
"You have to bite down," she coaxed, the whisper gusting against his ear. "You have to bite down to live, to finish this."
For a few terrifying seconds she thought that he would refuse, that he would sooner die in her arms, but then he bit down hard where the cut was, just as she had been compelled to do when she'd first been bitten. It was a fascinating act, and Phoebe theorized that there was something communicable through the vampire saliva that influenced this behavior.
Gerald drank and drank, slowly recollecting strength, though it would be hours before it heightened to full intensity. When he'd swallowed as much as his stomach would allow, he mustered the strength to sit back and lift his blood-streaked chin. Phoebe could see his neck muscles tremble with the effort. He stared into her face, looking helpless and confounded, like a child seeing a stranger in its parent's eyes.
He went limp then, and she maneuvered him to lie down with his head cradled in her lap. She rubbed his back and shoulders and combed her fingers through his hair. He curled in on himself, grunting and writhing as his canine teeth matured into fangs.
"Everything is going to be okay now."
A/N: Thanks for reading. :) Don't forget to join in on the Craig Bartlett chat this Saturday, October 11th! For more info, visit my profile page.