I went and saw this movie in theaters a few months ago, and was immediatly obsessed. I was especially intrigued by the idea that it was Frankie who turned Edward-brotherly relationship stuff always gets me, and I really wanted to explore that further. I wrote this story to the song Running Down that Hill by Placebo (the song from the trailer), which is where the title came from. Contstuctive crit is way more than welcome, and with all that said, enjoy the fic~!
Keys landed in their dish with a loud clatter, the sound startling Edward even though it was he who caused it. Blinking blearily, he tilted his head to stare at the keys, finding himself fascinated by the way they glinted in the room's faint lamplight. He was struck with the sudden urge to pick the keys up and play with them, turn them around and about to see what different ways they could reflect the light.
A jaw cracking yawn derailed Edward's sleep deprived amazement. Shaking his head, he rolled his eyes at his own childlike interest in sparkly things.
"I've got to get more sleep," he muttered, rubbing at the back of his neck. Swallowing back another yawn, Edward shuffled into his living room, shrugging out of his coat and draping it over the back of the couch. He then made his way towards the kitchen, shucking various articles of clothing as he went. Tugging absently at the knot of his tie, Edward circled around the wall blocking his kitchen from the rest of the room.
Complete darkness met him. Instinct had Edward jerking to a halt a moment before his mind chastised him for being so easily frightened. Laughing lightly at himself, Edward took a step forward, reaching out blindly for the light switch.
A tiny flash of light from the kitchen answered Edward's movements—two pinprick spots of gold appearing against the inky backdrop.
"Oh, god," Edward gasped, stumbling backwards as adrenaline flooded his system. There was a vampire in his house. There was a vampire in his house.
"Ed, what's wrong?" In the blink of an eye the kitchen light was on, and standing in the doorway was Edward's younger brother, staring at him through wide yellow eyes. Edward could only blink at his sibling, mouth opening and shutting soundlessly. Of course there was a vampire in his house.
"Frankie," Edward blurted, words finally returning to him. "Damn."
"What?" Frankie asked again. He rested a hand on Edward's shoulder, ducking his head to meet his brother's gaze. Edward blinked, glancing at Frankie's icy hand.
"I uh, you just startled me," he said, struggling to turn his attention back to Frankie's face. Frankie's brow furrowed when he noticed where Edward was looking.
"Sorry," he muttered, dropping his hand. Edward winced as Frankie turned back towards the kitchen, mentally berating himself. His little brother was well aware of Edward's firm stance against being turned, which had been translated in the younger man's mind to mean that Edward disapproved of his own transformation. While not exactly pleased in any way by his kin's choice, Edward had been trying his hardest to be supportive.
But it was hard to convince someone you loved that you agreed with their decision to become a member of the blood drinking living dead.
"So," Edward drawled, following Frankie into the kitchen. "What are you doing in my kitchen?"
"Going through your stuff," Frankie answered bluntly. He motioned to Edwards windows, which the older man only just realized were all blocked by closed blinds and drawn curtains. He frowned—how had he not noticed this when he got home? "It's not like I can do much else right now," Frankie sighed, regaining Edward's attention. "You're out of milk, by the way."
"Uh, thanks," Edward said. He frowned when he noticed Frankie heading out of the kitchen. "Mind telling me why you're here?" he asked, following his brother into the living room.
"I can't come visit my older brother?" Frankie asked. He reached the couch and stared at it for a moment, before turning around and dropping down onto the brown leather.
"Of course you can," Edward responded. He glanced around for a moment before spotting his recliner and perching on it, keeping his hands clasped tightly in his lap. "But it would be appreciated if you could maybe call and warn me you're coming first. I could have cleaned up." Frankie quirked an eyebrow.
"Cleaned up?" he parroted, glancing around the nearly immaculate home. He spotted the suit jacket on the back of the couch and scooped it up. "Leaving your coat lying around isn't exactly making your home a mess."
"You know what I mean," Edward huffed. "And you know I don't like it when you just randomly show up." Frankie just shrugged dismissively, while turning the coat over in his hands. Watching his brother, a thought suddenly occurred to Edward. "Frankie," he said slowly, eyeing the vampire.
"Hmm?" Frankie hummed; eyes still on the coat.
"When did you get here?" Golden eyes flicked upwards for a moment.
"What do you mean?"
"When did you get here?" Edward repeated. "I know you didn't show up while I was at work—you couldn't have. I left when the sun was coming up." Guilt flashed across Frankie's face; however his voice was absent any hint of contriteness when he spoke.
"I got here last night," he said, lifting his chin slightly, almost as if challenging Edward to question his actions. Edward, knowing that berating his younger sibling would be a waste of breath, simply sighed.
"You should have told me you were here," he huffed.
"You would have made me leave," Frankie responded.
"I wouldn't have," Edward said, sitting up a little straighter. "I would never force you from my home."
"You would have been mad at me for coming," Frankie shot back, ducking his head and pouting. Edward hated when Frankie did that. It was like having a little kid in the room.
"I wish you wouldn't make that face," he said, sighing again as he slumped into his chair.
"It's true," Frankie snapped. "You know it is." Edward fought the urge to rub his temple.
"No, it isn't," he responded.
"Yes it is!" Frankie shouted. "You would say I was endangering the other humans here!"
"I would not," Edward snapped back. "Why would you say that?"
"Because it's true! You think I don't have any control. You probably think I'm going to attack you right now, it's why you're sitting on the other side of the room!"
"What are you talking about?" Edward asked. He was used to his brother being hot headed and argumentative, but never before had he so blatantly accused Edward of thinking ill of him. Not even concerning his vampirism.
"You know exactly what I'm talking about!" Frankie bellowed, suddenly surging to his feet. Edward instinctively pressed further into his chair. His brother flashed his fangs, while waving around Edward's coat, still clutched in his hand. "You see! You're afraid of me!"
"Frankie, calm down," Edward said, holding his hands up in a placating gesture.
"What, is the big bad vampire scaring you?" Frankie asked, stepping forward.
"No, my little brother is scaring me!" Edward yelled back. This brought Frankie up short, the younger man staring at Edward, his righteous anger suddenly lost for words. For a long moment he simply stood, hovering in the middle of Edward's living room. Then, slowly, he lowered himself back down onto the couch. His fingers tangled in the material of Edward's jacket as he lowered his head, hiding his eyes from sight.
Edward remained pressed against his chair, afraid to so much as breath as he watched his brother, waiting to see if his anger was going to reignite. But Frankie didn't say anything more, and so the silence between them grew.
Pulling his lip between his teeth, Edward struggled to decide what to do. His heart ached to see his brother in such pain, and yet he couldn't convince himself to move, to go over and comfort the man sitting on his couch. The vampire sitting on his couch.
However, despite his terror, his overly protective older sibling instincts were slowly but surely winning out, and Edward was finding it harder and harder to stay away from his hurting brother.
"Frankie," he breathed, shifting in his seat. He jumped when Frankie's head snapped up, golden eyes suddenly boring into his own. Edward struggled to keep his breathing steady. "Are you alright?"
Frankie didn't respond, simply staring at Edward as his grip on the older man's jacket tightened. He was sitting impossibly still, his gaze unwavering, unblinking.
"Do I really scare you?" he asked softly. Edward blinked. He opened his mouth to respond, only to shut it again as Frankie's question truly registered.
"Do you…?" Edward started to ask. Frankie's eyes flashed, and suddenly he was on his feet again.
"Do I scare you?" he hissed. "Do I frighten you?"
"No," Edward responded impulsively. "No, you're my brother."
"But you hate me." Frankie sounded so defeated, and so completely certain that it made Edward's chest constrict painfully.
"No," Edward whispered again. "I could never hate you. You're family, I love you."
"Then why do you cower away from me?" Frankie asked. Instead of answering with words, Edward slowly rose to his feet. Then, one careful step after the next, he moved towards his little brother.
"Wh-what are you doing?" Frankie stuttered in surprise. He gripped Edward's coat to his chest, looking suddenly off balance.
"I'm not afraid of you, Franklin," Edward said, his words measured and calm. "And I do not hate you." He was standing in front of Frankie now, so close he could reach out and touch the younger boy if he wanted to. Frankie gave a small start, as if shocked to find his brother suddenly so close, and stumbled back a step. His calves bumped the edge of the couch and he twisted his head around, eyes wide and startled.
The sudden change in his sibling frightened Edward. Seconds ago Frankie had been as fierce and commanding as a lion, and now he was as skittish as a stray kitten. And while he might now be pale, golden eyed, nocturnal and bloodsucking, Frankie was still Edward's little brother of over twenty five years. Which meant, like any good brother, Edward knew his brother's behavior—knew when something was bothering the young man, be it big or small.
And for Frankie to be this off balance, he had to be being weighed on by something enormous.
"Frankie," Edward whispered, lifting his hand slowly. "What's wrong?"
"What are you talking about?" Frankie asked immediately, eyes darting to Edward's hand.
"I know you Frankie," Edward responded. "I know when you're struggling with something. And right now, you're struggling with something big." Edward carefully laid his hand on Frankie's shoulder. The younger man jumped, gaze darting to his brother's hand. "Let me help you with it."
"I-I can't," Frankie whispered, shaking his head slowly as his gaze drifted back to meet Edward's pale eyes.
"Why not?" Edward asked gently. Frankie shook his head as all of a sudden all of the anger and all of the nervous energy seemed to pour out of his body at once. He sank back down onto the couch, still hugging Edward's jacket tightly. Edward sat down with him, perching on the couch beside his brother.
"I can't," Frankie hissed again, still shaking his head. "But you—I can't not tell you." He looked up at Edward. "Not you."
"What can't you tell me?" Edward asked. Frankie just shook his head. Lifting Edward's coat, he stared at it for a moment, and then pressed the material to his face.
"I won't lose you," he whispered, his words almost swallowed by the dark fabric.
"What do you mean?" Edward asked. His hand, still resting on Frankie's shoulder, shifted up to cup the side of his brother's face. "Why do you think you're going to lose me?"
"They'll take you," Frankie mumbled, his voice thick, "They'll take you if I don't stop them. But I can't—" Frankie cut off with an odd strangled sound, which Edward realized belatedly was a sob. Scooting closer, Edward reached around with his free hand, using it to tilt Frankie's face towards him. Bloodshot eyes met his, brimming with a faint sheen of tears.
"Frankie, now you really are scaring me," Edward said, searching his brother's eyes for any hint of what was going on. All he could find, however, was his sibling's obvious emotional turmoil—a boiling mixture of fear and worry and love and pain. "Please tell me what's going on. I can help you."
"No you can't," Frankie whispered. Edward frowned. That couldn't be true. He was Frankie's big brother, his protector. He could always help.
What do you mean? That was the question resting on the edge of Edward's lips. However, they would never make it any further than that.
It was so fast that Edward didn't register any of the movement at all—only that one moment he was sitting beside Frankie, holding the man's face between his hands, and then the next he was pressed back against the arm of the couch, his brother crouched over top of him.
"What are you doing?" Edward cried as Frankie planted one hand on his chest, pinning him down. The other shot up and wrapped around Edward's chin, forcing his head to the right.
"I'm sorry," Frankie whispered; his breath ghosting against Edward's ear. Realization dawned on him as Frankie used his shoulder to pin Edward's arm against the couch back.
"No!" Edward cried, pushing against Frankie's chest with his free hand.
But he was no match for the vampire soldier.
The explosion of indescribable, mind numbing pain in his neck told him that.
Edward felt his body responding to the bite immediately. His muscles tensed and convulsed, his arms curling painfully against his chest. Frankie kept him pinned against the couch as he jerked and writhed, his throat closing around the scream that wanted so badly to rip free. His neck felt like it was on fire, liquid flames pouring into his veins and pumping at an incredible rate through his body.
And over it all, his brother's voice echoed, over and over.
"Please forgive me, please forgive me, oh god please forgive me."
Edward's chest seemed to be constricting, his lungs shriveling in on themselves, the air being forced out of him in a painful gust. His insides felt like they were writhing about, like he was full of slithering, coiling snakes.
"Please forgive me."
And then cold arms were wrapping around him, crushing him against an equally cold chest, holding him tight as he bucked and seized, his screams finally bursting free.
"Please forgive me."
Cool breath tousled Edward's hair, a colder face pressing against the top of his head as his eyes rolled back. He kept screaming.
Please forgive me.
Consciousness filtered back slowly, at first only in small bursts during which the only thing Edward could be completely sure of was that every muscle in his body ached and that his shoulder, his neck, and the side of his face was burning with a kind of agony that couldn't be described. Thankfully those moments were only brief, lasting a few seconds before he was pulled back under once more.
The first true bought of wakefulness wasn't much more substantial. Edward blinked heavy eyes open, the pain having receded back so now it was only his neck and the area around it that still throbbed with pain. The first thing that registered within Edward's cotton clogged mind was that everything was very dark. For one terrified moment he thought for sure his brother had latched onto him and simply sucked him dry, and he was now lying dead.
But then he felt the arms cradling him against a firm chest, and the fabric of a shirt beneath his cheek. Someone warm was holding him. Someone who smelled a lot like Frankie.
But…that didn't make sense. Frankie wasn't warm. Not anymore.
It was as far as Edward's thoughts got before he was out once more.
Eventually the moments of half-consciousness faded away. The next time Edward came to, it was with his thoughts only scrambled from the feeling of waking up after having been asleep for a few hours longer than you'd originally planned. Blinking his eyes open, Edward smacked his lips, the inside of his mouth feeling cottony and thick.
"Frankie?" Edward mumbled. His voice came out as a horse whisper, his throat aching as if he'd spent the whole night screaming at his brother. Groaning, Edward shifted his gaze, trying to spot his wayward sibling. To his surprise the younger boy was sitting right in front of him, in what looked like one of Edward's kitchen chairs.
"Are you really awake this time?" Frankie asked, leaning forward so that his face was in Edward's line of sight.
"Where am I?" Edward asked back, trying to orient himself. All he could tell so far was that he was lying on his side, on something not nearly as comfortable as his bed, in a room that was very poorly lit, with no idea what he'd done to get himself there.
"You're in your house," Frankie said slowly. "We're still in the living room."
"Living room?" Edward rasped back. He must have been lying on the couch then. But then, why was his brother here? Edward muttered this question into the material of his couch. Despite its muffled quality, Frankie seemed to understand what he was being asked.
"You don't remember?" Frankie asked. He sounded odd, a mix of worried and…glad? That was never a good tone for a younger brother. It was that guilty tone, the one that said I know I did something wrong and that you're going to find out eventually, but right now it seems like you won't and that's good enough for me.
"What happened?" Edward demanded, with as much force as he could muster. "Did we…fight?" It was preposterous to consider such a scenario, but it would explain Edward's worn voice and sore, stiff muscles. And why he couldn't remember what happened. His brother had one hell of a fist, and, sadly, this wouldn't be the first time Frankie had punched him hard enough to make him forget it happened.
"Uh, not exactly," Frankie mumbled. Edward shifted his head to stare at the younger boy.
"What's that mean?" Frankie averted his gaze, pale hands gripped tightly in his lap.
"We…argued," he offered half-heartedly.
"What do you think?"
"Just tell me," Edward groaned, turning his face into the couch. He was too exhausted to play this game right now.
"Fine," Frankie said, much to Edward's surprise. "I came over to…to talk to you about something. But I was afraid of telling you, so I didn't, and instead we argued about me sneaking into your house when you're not home. And I said…I said some stupid stuff."
"Gasp," Edward muttered. He could practically hear Frankie's eyes rolling. "So, did you ever tell me what you originally came here to tell me?"
"Yes, I did," Frankie responded.
"And what was that?" Edward asked. He was surprised when Frankie made an angry sound and shoved up out of his chair.
"You're such a genius, I would have thought you'd figured it out by now," he snapped, stopping a few feet away.
"What are you talking about?" Edward asked. He heard Frankie sigh in frustration.
"Doesn't anything feel different?" he asked.
"Like what?" Edward lifted his head enough to see his brother again. Frankie had his back to him, arms crossed over his chest. The younger boy's response was terse.
"Why don't you start with your teeth?"
Confused, Edward frowned at his brother's back while he ran his tongue around the mouth. He didn't get far before his tongue bumped an unfamiliar protrusion. Ever muscle in Edward's body tensed as he carefully examined the thick point where his once square lateral incisor had been. Breathing heavily, Edward brought a shaky hand to his mouth. His tooth felt thicker than he last remembered it to be, more rounded and…sharper.
"What—" Edward cut himself off, swallowing thickly. How had he missed this, they way his teeth suddenly weren't fitting together quite right. His lower incisors, now also pointed, scraped against the back of his upper teeth. It made his mouth feel a lot more crowded.
"Ed?" Frankie whispered. He was back in the kitchen chair, staring at him intently. "Ed, can you hear me?"
Edward simply blinked at his brother, his fingers frozen against the tip of one of his changed teeth. One of his fangs.
"No," Edward breathed, his eyes going wide. Frankie said something to him, but he didn't hear it. His focus was on his hand, slowly drifting towards his neck, towards the point where his body wide ache seemed to be emanating from. Trembling fingers trailed along smooth skin, shifting carefully upwards.
His breath stilled as his fingertips brushed against two bumps, twin circle shaped scars that were so very out of place. Edward's fingers ghosted over the two raised puncture wounds, his hand trembling as he struggled to comprehend these new, burning scars adorning his neck, resting over the place where his now still pulse had once thrummed with life.
"Who," the word stuck in Edward's throat. Swallowing thickly, he tried again. "Who did this?" Frankie's expression was oddly flat as he looked away, refusing to meet Edward's gaze.
"No," Edward breathed, as understanding crashed violently into place. He pushed himself away from his brother.
"Ed, listen," Frankie said, noticing how Edward tried to back away. "I can explain." But Edward wasn't listening, slowly shaking his head as he pressed himself into the back of the couch.
"How could you?" he asked, the words a venomous his.
"Ed, just listen to me for a second—"
"No," Edward snapped. There was nothing his brother could say. "Just—just leave."
"Edward," Frankie said, his tone now pleading. "Please, let me explain!" The young vampire leaned forward, reaching for his brother.
"Don't touch me," Edward snarled, recoiling from Frankie's outstretched arm. Frankie's hand stilled, but he didn't lower it. Edward's lip curled, exposing bared fangs. Frankie's expression shifted.
"Fine!" Frankie shouted back, shooting to his feet with enough force to topple the chair he'd been sitting in. He stalked out without another word, the slamming of Edward's backdoor announcing his departure.
"Damn it!" Edward cursed loudly, as soon as his brother was gone. His head fell into his hands, fingers curling in his long hair. He was so frustrated and so furious, he couldn't find words for it. And so he yelled wordlessly, a sound that was as much a growl as it was a scream.
It wasn't enough. No matter how loudly he shouted, his emotions seemed to be only that much louder, roaring within him at a level he couldn't vocally reach.
Still shouting, Edward surged to his feet, hands searching for a way to express his anger in a way his voice could not. His hands swung out, aiming for the books piled on the low table before him. The heavy tomes crashed to the ground, pages crumpling and spines bending.
It wasn't enough.
Edward's frustration turned on the table itself, and he leaned forward, grabbing onto its edge. With a single, mighty heave he tossed it, flipping the table completely. A decorative glass bowl was thrown across the room from the force, shattering against the wall. Kicking aside Frankie's abandoned chair, Edward followed the bowl, suddenly intent on crushing the glass shards until there was nothing left but dust.
With every crushing stomp Edward cursed—cursed his brother, cursed his fate, cursed his now un-beating heart. And with every stomp the once beautiful dish was reduced down to the grainy, sandy particles it had once been.
Eventually there was nothing left, nothing but a patch of glittering carpet.
Edward scowled down at the faint sparkles, panting from the exertion, sucking in deep breaths that he realized suddenly felt off. Strange.
Edward's anger, which had abated after being taken out on the glass bowl, flared anew at this reminder of his lost mortality.
Snarling a curse, Edward's fist shot forward, slamming into the wall. The force of the punch reverberated up through his arm; but Edward ignored the ache, punching the wall again. Paint began to crack and chip under Edward's continued blows. Again and again his fist slammed into the wall. He shouted his anger with every hit, louder and louder until, finally, his fist broke through the wall completely.
For a while Edward simply stared at the place where his hand vanished into the wall. Never before had he physically damaged his house due to anger. That was what Frankie did, not him.
Sighing, he carefully extracted his hand, frowning as the action caused dust to rain down on his already dirtied carpet.
"What am I doing?" he muttered softly. Turning, he leaned back against the wall, sliding slowly down until he was sitting on the floor among the wreckage of his living room. Heaving a heavy breath, Edward ran the fingers of his uninjured hand through his hair, while looking down at his bruised, scraped knuckles. He lightly brushed away the dry wall dust coating his cuts, while wondering idly if he should get himself some ice. Honestly, he was more inclined to stay sitting on his floor.
Shaking his head at his laziness, Edward pushed himself carefully to his feet. Cradling his hand against his chest, he picked his way across the living room and into his kitchen. The light was still on and a few cupboards were sitting open—evidence that Frankie had been in his home while Edward was away.
Ignoring them for now, Edward headed for the fridge, grabbing a towel from his counter as he went. Fetching a handful of ice, he wrapped it in the towel and pressed it gingerly to his knuckles. He then sighed again, wandering over to his dining room table and dropping into one of the chairs there. For a long time he simply sat there, staring down at his hand.
It wasn't until the glow of dawn began to illuminate the edges of his tightly covered windows that he moved again, going and sitting himself on his stairs, out of the view of any of his windows. And it was only after finding himself trapped there, locked within his home until the sun set once more that he allowed the thought he'd been holding back all night find a voice as he sighed, slumping against the wall as he muttered two words.
The backdoor creaked open slowly, letting in the faint sounds of the night. For a moment there were no other sounds, then a single, cautious footstep crossed the home's threshold. Step by step, the night time visitor moved further and further into the home. They stopped again at the entrance of the living room, breathing a soft gasp muffled by clenched teeth, clearly surveying the wreckage of the living room.
The shout echoed through the unlit house, vanishing into the dark corners of the empty rooms fringing the small home. The visitor stood still, awaiting a response.
The change in the uninvited guest seemed to resonate through the air, the room suddenly thrumming as he went on the defensive, prepared for whatever might be waiting in the shadows. Light, careful footsteps, filled with the precision and purpose of a trained soldier, slowly carried the stranger across the living room, delicately maneuvering around the toppled table and scattered books.
"Is anyone here?" they called, calm and assertive, in a clearly masculine timbre.
A rustle of fabric, the soft sound deafening in the silent house, was the only response, and it had the man stilling instantly.
"Who's there?" he demanded. The rustling stopped, and after a moment the man continued forward again, his footsteps now heading in the direction of the stairs—the place where the sound had originated.
The man rounded the stairs in a swift, fluid movement, his body crouched and tensed in preparation for whatever he might find himself facing. And then he spotted the figure huddled on the steps, and the intensity visibly drained from his muscles, his eyes widening as he took in the sight before him.
"Ed?" he asked softly.
Curled halfway up the staircase, Edward groaned lightly as he uncurled, lifting his head up off of his folded arms, which were lying draped across his knees. He blinked hard, sluggishly focusing on the person standing at the base of his stairs, whose progress through his home he'd tracked carefully with his ears.
"Frankie," he muttered in greeting. His voice was rough from disuse. Through the gloom, with eyes more perceptive than they had ever been before, he could see his brother's golden orbs narrowing suspiciously. The way Frankie was standing, the faint glow of lamplight from the other room was hitting the younger boy's eyes at just the right angle, turning his irises into twin circles of reflective light. Like a cat's eyes.
"Are you…okay?" Frankie asked slowly, eyeing his sibling warily. Edward cocked an eyebrow. That was new. Sure, Edward was the older of the pair, but Frankie was infinitely scarier.
"Sure," Edward mumbled, letting his head drop back down, his cheek resting against his forearm. "What are you doing back here?" he added. His tone was bland, devoid of any real curiosity.
"What are you talking about?" Frankie asked dismissively as he started up the stairs. "I think I should be the one asking what you are doing here." He motioned to the steps as he spoke. Edward blinked, gaze shifting to look around his current choice of resting spot.
"The sunlight doesn't get in here," Edward said, returning his gaze to his brother. "You didn't answer my question."
"So?" Frankie huffed. He stood on the stair beside his brother for a moment, before lowering himself to sit down. He rested his elbows on his knees, lacing his fingers together. He glanced over at Edward, who fixed his brother with a 'tell me' look. The vampire soldier sighed heavily, looking away again.
"I sort of…never left," he admitted sheepishly, staring intently at his knuckles as he spoke.
"You what?" Edward asked, his voice losing a little of its flat quality.
"I didn't leave," Frankie repeated. "After I stormed out, I might have, uh, gone and hid out in your attic."
Edward blinked, struggling to suppress his bewildered expression. There were quite a number of things he'd figured his wayward sibling had run off to do when he'd left after Edward first awoke from his transformation. Bars, booze and banging had been the foremost in his mind. Attic stalking his brother, however, hadn't so much as made the list.
"You were here?" Edward asked, unable to keep the disbelief from his voice. Frankie nodded stiffly.
"I was told I couldn't leave you alone."
"What do you mean?" Edward asked."Who told you that?"
"One of my commanding officers," Frankie responded. "He…he was the one who explained to me how to change you." Frankie's gaze darted briefly to his brother, but it quickly returned to his hands. "He also told me I shouldn't abandon you while you adjusted to the change, just in case there were any, er, side effects." Edward's brow furrowed.
"Side effects?" he repeated. Again, Frankie nodded. Edward stared at him. "I wasn't aware becoming a vampire came with side effects."
"It doesn't," Frankie quickly said. "Most of the time, anyway. There have been a few transformations where unexpected complications have arisen after the transformation is completed, but so far they've all taken place within the first two weeks of becoming a vampire."
"You were observing me," Edward said. "You were waiting to see if I would exhibit any side effects."
"You make it sound like you were my science fair project," Frankie snorted. Annoyance flared within Edward.
"That's certainly how you're making it sound," he snapped. His sudden anger startled Frankie into looking at him.
"No!" he said quickly, eyes wide. "That's not it at all. I was just making sure that, that everything…you know, went okay." Frankie's strong tone withered as his sentence stumbled to its end, and his yellow eyes darted away again. "I was just making sure you were okay."
That single, softly muttered sentence, squeezed out like an apology forced from the lips of a not-so-repentant little kid, chased away any anger Edward had managed to scrape together since his brother's arrival. It was like having the wind knocked out of him, and it left him feeling oddly empty and deflated.
"I'm sorry," he muttered, surprising himself. He surprised Frankie too, the vampire blinking openly at him.
"I think I'm the one who should be saying that," he responded, shifting awkwardly.
"Yeah," Edward agreed, turning his head and meeting his brother's gaze. Frankie could only meet his eyes for a moment before he turned away, golden eyes once more on his hands.
"I'm sorry," he said. The depth of the sincerity in his words floored Edward, and he struggled not to gape at the younger man. Frankie noticed anyway, and his eyebrows pulled together at his brother's expression. "What?" he asked. "It's not like there's anything else I can say." Edward looked away, schooling his expression.
"I know," he said quickly, before repeating more softly, "I know." Frankie nodded once. Edward watched him, wondering if there was anything more he should say. It felt as if there should be, but nothing was coming to mind, and Frankie didn't look like he was going to say anything more. Glancing away, Edward looked down at his own hands. His eyes drifted over his knuckles, which had only days ago been a torn and bloody mess. The pale skin had healed over completely; not so much as a lingering bruise or tiny scar remained.
"You know," Frankie said, "I kind of thought you would have a bunch of questions about all of this."
He was right, Edward thought to himself. He did have a lot of questions. But at the moment none of them seemed all that pressing. Except for one.
"Why did you do it?"
Frankie was silent, but Edward could feel how tense he had become. It was radiating from the man in waves.
"I can't tell you," Frankie said, tone flat. Golden orbs peered over from the corner of down turned eyes, and Edward met the look in the same way. "One day," Frankie whispered, as his expression slowly softened. "One day I'll tell you everything." Edward nodded slowly, accepting his little brother's answer.
"I'll hold you to that."