Chapter five Drink to live

It was a flutter in his stomach that awoke him, then the feeling of warmth below, swirling in wisps of heat. Tobias forced his eyes open, first one, then the other; the silver blue orbs slid in and out of focus. His vision refused to clear for the first couple of minutes; all he was able to gather was the subtle curve of the arches supporting the ceiling; the already creaking floorboards left open with planks missing.

He shifted his weight uncomfortably on what he found to be a mattress smelling of mothballs and must. In this moment he found that the slight flutter had turned into heavier wing beats trying to escape. His mind felt separate from his body that had been encased in numbness. Slowly but surely he began to find that he had more control. First it was the tips of his fingers, he was able to curl them and grasp the tattered covers that barely were a source of warmth. Not that he needed it. He then pulled his arms in against his chest; the rims of his eyes aching with oversleep.

In confusion he rolled his eyes around, wanting to know what caused the warmth in and below his stomach. Unable to see completely around the shabby room he turned his head and then quite suddenly stiffened. He wasn't alone. He wasn't alone in the loft. He wasn't alone on the mattress. He wasn't alone under the tattered blanket.

Tobias was now painfully aware of the arm curled almost delicately around his waist and the hand slung low across his hips. He was not reassured by the fact that the hand was cold and clammy. On the contrary, this drove him into more silent panic.

The warmth of a human hand brought reassurance-humans were generally hated more than feared and their strength alone and not in numbers did not unnerve him.

Vampires, due to their reversed internal combustion gave off cold and this-this hand that lay over him was dead. After his mind had blitzed through these facts he began to relax, it was just dead. Nothing more.

Now he took the time to look about the room, the wave of utter terror had cleansed his foggy senses. The room was small and the ceiling arched like the ribcage of a whale. There was a single broken window that took up half the wall across from them, looking down at the city from a great height. He let out a sigh of relief as familiar buildings greeted him. Feeling calmed by that scenery he went back to the rest of the room. The ratty curtains eaten away by time and the pests and the floor missing a board or two too many to be safe composed the room.

He turned his attention back to what had initially startled him, but now had become mundane. The dead arm protruding from the blankets and laying down across him. He frowned at it but was so accustomed to death- being dead himself, disregarded it once more to gaze out the window, wanting to get his bearings. He slid his arm beneath him, ignoring the ache of protest from lying still for so long and propped himself up on the creaking mattress.

He froze at the loud creak- the thought dawning on him that he didn't know where he was, let alone how he got there or even if the floorboards would hold him if he stepped out onto them. The owner of the loft was no where in sight. He confirmed this with a quick glance around the room. Tobias shuddered wondering what sort of person would own such a shambled place and fill it with dead bodies, which he assumed he had been mistaken for.

Caught in this train of thought it was suddenly cut short-his already pale face turned bleach white, eyes locked on the window his entire body frozen in place.

What he had dismissed as a dead hand had dropped a few inches and closed slightly the bed bowing under weight behind him.

Oh. My. God. Tobias still sat rigid. I'm being groped by a corpse.

"Ah, mon petite, you awaken." There was a soft curl of stale air past his neck. It smelled thick of must and mildew. "I thought that you vould stay asleep for ever." Another arm snaked its way around Tobias, it was just as cold, clammy and dead as the first.

Tobias felt his muscles spasm in protest as the hand touched his chest.

"I vas vorried about you." The soft French accent flowed, still deadly close, still invading his space. "You suffered quite the beating. And Mon Chere, I 'aven't seen many of your kind walk away from zat."

There was a long pause and absolute silence, even the floorboards had stopped creaking in the wind to listen to this beast speak.

Hearing no reply the voice started up again, chidingly. "Does un chat, uh, how you say-'ave your tongue?" Lips, the keeper of the sickly sweet words pressed to the back of Tobias' neck.

This was about all that Tobias could handle- he risked plummeting through the floorboards and threw all his weight as hard as he could at them. He wrenched himself form the speakers arms and hit the ground causing his body to yowl in protest. The last remnants of his wounds were still painful.

Tobias looked up from the ravaged wood, back to the mattress where he had been perched.

Languidly laying atop it was the owner of the dead hand that had so unfortunately alighted Tobias. The boy's eyes widened at the sight of who had been behind him. Oh Gods. Not only was I groped by a corpse. I was groped by a male corpse.

Said male corpse gracefully slid his rickety legs off the side of the bed, the lack of muscle definition hidden by old worn brown pants. He placed his feet on the floor and shirked the blanket. The young man had a frightening appearance; his skin appeared to be nothing more than a tattered white sheet, re-stitched and sewn back over his bones.

A ghastly grin spread across his face, drawing Tobias' eyes towards the medical grade stitches protruding from his flesh. "Vhat?" The question was soft, almost innocent in the way it was presented.

"What are you?" Tobias' lips formed the words before he could stop them, his eyes going wide as he heard his voice escape him.

"I am-uh-oh vat is ze vord?" He tapped his forehead slowly trying to recall it, his yellowed nails with drawn back skin now obvious. "I am an abortion."

"A what?"

"A shameful thing that disgraces the species."

Tobias watched the flourish of his hand while he spoke. "You mean an abomination."

"To 'ell with English. S'a 'orrid language."

Tobias found his gaze drifting past the ghastly figure back towards the broken window and the night beyond. He shuddered, considering how easily if the hours had dragged by in sleep he could have been burned alive. That thought was quickly pushed aside in favor of the more easily attainable freedom. His movements were slow and languid, he was trying not to draw attention to himself, not entirely sure how quickly the rickety corpse could propel itself out of the bed and onto him if it saw his thoughts of freedom.

His first calculation was how fast something dead could move, something dead that he had never come across before in his travels. There were humans; there were vampires. There was nothing in between or any less, At least until now. If it moved as quickly as a human did, he could probably make it to the window in time to propel himself through it. If it moved as quickly as a vampire, then he would have more trouble and would probably have to fight it-him, off. That brought up the question of strength.

Moving over that initial thought he then had to consider how far it was from the ground from the many stories up above the city in the attic he was currently residing in. Had he been well he may have been able to survive such a fall and drag his shattered bones back together with the help of his… but they weren't around either. They were dead. Even if he did survive the fall there would be no one to go to who would help him. His previous home had been discovered and it would take time to find another, time that would come down to a manner of hours until the sun rose.

This didn't even touch on the fact that the floor boards probably would not support a mad dash and he would either end up crashing through into the floor below or trapping one of his long thin legs or snapping it in the attempt.

Tobias reached back behind him, his fingers slipping over the edge of the boards into negative space. Behind him was the staircase that he had eyed before. It was another possible escape route out into the night and at least he didn't have to risk falling from a window with broken glass or plummeting through rotten floorboards. There was only one rather large problem with trying the stairs. He didn't have any idea where they lead, and he could for all he knew, end up trapped in some sort of mad maze-work being followed by a French version of a Minotaur minus the fur.

"Eight floors an' a vearhouse."

"What?" Tobias' head jerked up, he had been so engrossed in his plans of escape that the sudden voice startled him.

"I said 'Eight floors an' a vearhouse.' It is obvious zat you are thinking of leaving, so I thought it vould be a good idea to give you some sort of idea how far you vould have to run." The man, who had yet to budge from the bed, told him, laying back down to place his hands behind his head. The wrists of the man had been adorned with bracelets of threads and wire holding his fabric skin together.

"Oh." He found it better not to lie about his intentions, as they had been as plain as the nose on his face. The man didn't seem to be doing anything too quickly to be stopping him as it was, perhaps he'd just let him leave. Tobias pushed himself an inch towards the staircase.

"Vhere vill you go?"

This made Tobias freeze and close his fingers around the edge of the boards above the stairs. "I don't know."

"Ah, zat is a pity." The tone the man was giving him was frustrating; it was a nagging that was slowly but surely going to bring the boy around to the man's side. He knew what he was doing, and he knew it well. A well practiced question here, a soft scoff there, he'd make the boy realize that there was really only one thing that he could do, and it was turn to the keeper of foundlings.

The sudden dismissal- the quick brush off, made Tobias turn back from where he was trying to make a quick, aching and hasty retreat. He had expected some concern or at least a protest from what he thought to be his captor. He pushed his blond hair out of his face and tried to tuck it back into the puff ball that had become the ponytail at the back of his head. He doubled back over his thoughts and furrowed his brow, scolding himself for even doubting and halting his escape for more than a moment. He went back to the slow and steady process of lowering his long legs over the side of the boards and onto the rickety stairs.

"So, everyvone in your family is dead, Oui?"

The hair on the back of Tobias' neck rose and he grunted. "Y-yes." He was now holding himself up on his elbows, the lower half of his body swinging while his feet tried to catch the floorboards. He felt his chest tighten again and grief wash over his body along with anger now. Who was this creature, whatever it was, to bring up such a personal thing in such a flippant manner. He looked up and glared, his pretty almond eyes broiling.

"An'… vwhat are you going to do about it?"

Tobias paused, his foot catching the floorboard beneath him and he chanced putting his weight down on it.

"Are you just going to run avay?"

His fists tightened and he looked up to glare. The man was laying back on the bed with his long spider arms tucked behind his head, hair sticking out at all angles, dry as straw. It was a gray brown, hinting of once having rich colour now gone after years, even decades of decay and mal-abuse. "What do you suggest I do? I'm just one person. I can't take on an entire race. It's impossible." His words hissed into the now obviously silent room.

"à cœur vaillant rien d'impossible." The man threw his legs over the side of the bed as he sat up to regard Tobias. "You see, you are not looking to strike back at an entire race, non, non, mon petite." He crossed the gap between him and Tobias and held out his hand to the boy who was hanging precariously over the side of the stairway. He smiled inwardly at the fact that the young vampire no longer cowered before him. Instead the boy wore a look of intrigue and anger, a mask of lust for revenge covering his soft features.

Their hands met and Tobias' cold skin hit that of the undead, no warmth, no cold, just clammy room temperature skin. The man pulled Tobias to his feet, pulling him across the creaking floorboards that so daunted the young man. He took him to the window and motioned over the city that shone with soft lights in the midnight hour. "You're not striking an entire species." He reiterated for the boy, his voice dropping to a mere whisper. "You just vant to veed out ze ones zat hurt you in particular."

Tobias stared out over the city; looked down into the streets, towards the taverns where he was never supposed to go; where the slayers spent their nights in joviality if they were not tearing apart his species. He watched them stumble and laugh, walk without fear after their successful hunts. Once more his fists tightened and his jaw set. The boy grounds his teeth together angrily. "They just go on with their lives after destroying mine. They don't even care that they left one alive." Tobias began to tremble, his entire body was still not completely healed and his very bones seem to rattle and ache.

"Zey vill never learn, not unless someone does something about it." The man closed his fingers around Tobias' shoulder. "An' no one is villing to do anything against zem. Zey vill continue to kill, and destroy us, one by one, until ve all are dead and zey have ze vorld to zemselves." He ran his thumb under his eye where there was another line of metal and thread stitches, reaching from one tear duct under his eye and stretched back towards his tattered ear.

Tobias leaned against the glass, pressing his palms to the dusty surface, staring through it towards the ground. The city stretched for miles. It was full of living heartbeats, all pounding in his ears and flaring the hunger deep in his chest. He licked his dry lips, finding his mouth parched. He would need to feed soon.

"Why did you save me?" Tobias found his questions came more easily now that they were no longer in such close quarters. "There must be a reason. You risked exposing yourself…" He doubted the words as soon as they came out of his mouth. He wasn't sure what Simone was, he wasn't human, he wasn't vampire, he was nothing according to the species in existence.

"Yes, I vas, but it vas vorth it don't you think?"

"I do-thank you." Tobias bit down on his bottom lip, piercing it with his fangs drawing blood. The man reached out with a handkerchief and dabbed at the sides of his mouth where the drops began to fall.

"It's not a problem."

Once more Tobias began to feel uncomfortable. He jerked his head towards the window, over the darkened landscape, his eyes dulling. He pressed his forehead to the cool glass, feeling the anger well in his chest every time he looked out on the city that was created by the callous hands of the slayers.

"Don't vorry. Your revenge vill come."

The feeling in his chest was accompanied by a growing twisting seed of hatred and anger. His sweet features had already begun to harden at the thought of the lives going on without a second thought below him. The man's words wormed their way through his unloving flesh and firmed inside him to a solid mass of hate.

"Who are you?" Tobias breathed quietly, looking up at the man. His full attention was now diverted to him.

"Simone."

Tobias rolled his bottom lip under his teeth and glanced back towards the city. He closed his hands, forming them into fists as he took a deep breath. His keen hawk like eyes scanned over the city and he set his mouth with resolve. "I don't know where to start."

"Leave zat to me." Simone assured the boy, placing his thumb and forefinger on his chin he looked over the city.