"There's nothing like a trail of blood to find your way back home."

The metaphorical baseball came flying in from second field, slicing through the ephemeral silence and nonsensical notions of a budding youth. The truth glared back at you with two angry, red eyes, which bore into your own jaded hues of dimming wonder. Sanguine tints and cherry stains all around make your jaw clench, the smell of overturned glasses of fancy drinks hitting your nose almost as quickly as the acrid stench of blood.

You didn't see this coming. Religion and crosses and crucifixes are things that your family kept especially close to them, even if you did not. They should have been safe- why did the great protector of all fail in his job to protect?

You pick up a napkin dribbled with blood and cider, take a whiff, before allowing your fingers to fall lax and the dirtied paper to slap against the hardwood. Tonight, not even the crickets chirp, too afraid to let their positions be known. And if you were any other girl, perhaps you would follow their example and stifle the loud melodies of defiance from yourself.

Your house is no longer a home- it is not safe. Was it ever safe in the first place? Fifteen years of life in this backwater village and you'd always felt at peace until everything went to Hell.

You refuse to let the tears fall as you cover your mouth with your shaking fingers, stained at the tips. This is it, you think. This is the final stand. With the numbers of the village dwindling to frightening lows, what more is there for you to do? You should have listened to him.

The cross around your neck wasn't enough to save your mother or your father's necks, only yours. Even your baby sister is rotting now, because they didn't have your strength. Blood oozes between your toes, squishing and squeaking as your body turns to exit the house.

You slide the door closed, peel off a bit of skin from your chapped lips with your teeth, and reach for the shovel leaning against your house. Purple eyes watch as you stagger, but he knows you're strong enough.

"Now is probably the time for 'I told you so'."

He says nothing. He's good at saying nothing.

You fling the shovel over your shoulder, red blood smeared across your face as a signal of resolve. Lights flash against the lens of your eyes.

"You'll help me, won't you?"

"Yeah."

You smile a tight-lipped smile before placing your arm around his shoulder. If he stiffened and yelled at you for touching him, perhaps that wouldn't be so bad. If he bared his fangs and drained the life from you, that wouldn't be so bad either. But he doesn't do either, because he's out of words and out of reasons. Your cold nose ghosts against the skin of his cheek ever so slightly, before you pull back and slump over the shovel.

"I knew I could count on you, Natsuno."

This is your final stand.