A/N: Written from a prompt from the Fright Night Kink Meme on LJ. Slightly edited from the version I put on the meme. Enjoy!
It's Monday, again. He fucking hates Mondays.
After everything Charley's been through recently-saving the town, killing an age-old vampire, losing his best friend, his girlfriend, and getting one of them back again-and Monday still sucks. Everything goes back to normal. Hell, almost no one in Vegas has a clue what he did.
To be honest, he's not even sure how long it's been since he staked Jerry-and Ed, along with him.
Puffing out a wave of air, Charley drags his hands over his face and tries to clear his head of everything. Because he'd rather be anywhere-even calculus-than back there: with the smell of his best friend's ashes. The smell that still follows him. The life he couldn't save.
He falls, more than sits, in his seat and studies the grain of the faux wood desk. He picks at the edges where it's ragged and splintered and makes it worse. He doesn't make eye contact. Peeling up the edge of the laminate proves the rest to be more cheap cork than wood: shavings and pieces that come apart without effort. At the back of the room, Charley goes to work destroying his desk.
When the teacher starts role, he slumps down in his seat as if he could sink into it.
"He's sick today, ma'am. Stomach flu."
"I'm sorry to hear that. Ed Thompson?"
Charley shoots bolt upright in his seat, whirling to look at the desk that's sat abandoned for weeks. And there's Ed, looking-for all extents and purposes-normal. Tired maybe, but fucking alive.
And it can't be him but it has to be him. He looks just the same-looks human. Ed glances over at him and stares-his eyebrows quirked in the slightest hint of what might be an apology. More than anything, he looks tired. Hollow. His face looks sallow, like he hasn't eaten in days.
Charley spends the rest of class twitching in his seat, the hairs at the nape of his neck prickling with dread. Because any moment, Ed will change. Any moment, he'll throw himself at them-tooth and claw-and none of them (almost none of them) will see it coming. He flips between periods of never turning around and always turning around. He clutches the sides of his desk and waits.
The bell sets them free and Ed leaves without waiting for Charley; they haven't waited up for each other since sophomore year. Haven't walked home together in longer. It stings a little more than it should, now that he lets himself actually think about it.
So Charley shadows Ed, following him down the hallway and out the wide double doors. He knows the route Ed's taking, even after a year and a half of pointedly going the other way. Ed's path heads out and around the side of the school. That's where he catches up to Ed, snatching at his shoulders and slamming him against the brick of the building.
Ed looks more winded than surprised.
Charley holds Ed's head in place with one less than gentle hand, using the other to peel back Ed's lip and examine his teeth.
Ed flashes a halfhearted smile that doesn't reach his eyes.
"Even if I had them, do you think I'd show them to you?" He sounds resigned.
He sounds the way he sounded five years ago, right before they put him on anti-depressants. Right after he tried to kill himself. But at least Charley had been there for him, then.
He sounds the way he probably sounded two years ago, when he started on different kinds of "medication" all together. Charley wasn't there for him that time. He hates himself for what he's done. Because every pitfall Ed has hit, every low point, can be traced back to him-just a little bit. Just enough.
He lets go of Ed's face, but keeps him pressed up against the wall. Ed just looks at him, eerily impassive.
"What the fuck are you doing here?" Charley asks, because he's still too terrified to be relieved. Because it's easier to feel angry than responsible.
"Your guess is as good as mine, Brewster." Ed shrugs. "All I know is that, one moment, you've got a stake in my chest and the next I'm in my bed. You know, for a second I almost thought the whole thing was a nightmare?" The words come out bitter. "But then, I found this."
He pulls back his hoodie to expose two purpling punctures at his neck-still inflamed and scabbed and unhealed. Swallowing down the lump in his throat, Charley has to tear his eyes away.
Ed shakes his head. "But no vamp powers." He raises his hands as though in surrender. "I'm just some useless sucker with the sickest hickey possible." He chuckles at that. Charley doesn't find it funny.
"Flesh and blood. Even got a heartbeat, again." He takes Charley's hand and Charley expects him to place it on his chest. He feels his throat tighten and closes his eyes, only to find his fingers pressed under Ed's jaw-frighteningly close to the bite mark-feeling the heavy thumpthump from the pulse point.
Stepping back, pulling his hand away, Charley lets Ed off the wall and stumbles over his words a while before managing to say, "It's good to see you. I'm glad you're... I'm glad you're okay."
Ed's eyebrows raise. "Really? That's new." He sounds genuinely incredulous. And he leaves. Just like that.
Charley stops cold in his tracks when he spots Jerry in the lawn.
And it's Jerry-there's no mistaking, it's Jerry. Same face, same build, same deep-set brow: every move he makes like that of a predator, power coiled behind those muscles that no one could possibly believe.
Every muscle in Charley's body screams at him to just run, and he's about to. But there's something not quite right with the picture. Something just a touch off. If he could just-
The sun is up. The fucking sun is up. And here's Jerry, weeding the garden or whatever the fuck he thinks he's doing, like it's the most natural thing in the world.
Jerry looks up and catches sight of him-flashes a smile so reminiscent of his old self, it might as well have fangs.
He balls his hands in to fists at his sides.
Each word out of Charley's mouth comes out sharp and barely controlled. "Just what the hell are you doing back here?" He does his best to stand his ground. "I've still got everything from before. What makes you think I won't kill you for good this time?" The fear in his voice seems almost palpable. There's not enough rage in the world to hide it.
Jerry laughs low in his throat. "Well, good luck stashing the body, Charley. I'm not just going to disappear into ash anymore, in case you haven't noticed." He holds out his arms as if to drink in the sunlight.
Something about this body language has changed;that raw edge of danger softened into something almost normal. But it's still there, somewhere. It hides, down low, in the whites of his eyes-comes glinting out when he smiles.
"Besides," he says, "Your friend, Ed? He wouldn't like that."
"The fuck is that supposed to mean?"
Jerry doesn't look at him. He disappears into his house without a word.
"You son of a BITCH, what the FUCK does that mean?" Charlie screams after him, but the man is gone.