Rain poured relentlessly from the sky above. It soaked through his clothes, ran across his skin, and covered the ground he walked upon. But he didn't feel it at all. All he could feel was the white hot burning enveloping his body. The feel of the cool, moist stone beside him was lost to his scraped fingertips. He could hardly feel the puddles splash up around his ankles with every heavy footfall. The sickening mixture of sweat, rain, and blood caused black locks and tattered clothing to cling to the curves of his face, neck, and body. His muscles and mind had long since stopped screaming for rest and were now reduced to whispered pleas for the self-forbidden luxury.
He had pressed on like this for what seemed like hours, the crimson liquid seeping through the fingers clutched at his stomach. It had been splattering against the ground ever since he started his journey, but had been lost by the fat drops falling from the heavens, never to be seen. He knew that his chances of being found and rescued dwindled down to near zero. The sun set many hours ago and not a single soul could be found on the streets he wandered. Even if there were, he wouldn't want an innocent passerby to be pulled into his world. No... It was too dangerous. The feeling of steady eyes hadn't vanished ever since he first stood. To be found by anyone would surely lead to that person's death. There was no reason to have two brutal, bloody deaths in one night. It was the sole reason he tried so desperately to get to safety when she had left him to die. He had to continue stopping himself from pulling out his cell phone – just to keep the precious entries in his contact list safe.
But now he knew he couldn't press on for much longer. The rain was finally beginning to let up to a mere drizzle, but his vision was no better than before. He struggled to keep his eyes open, to look ahead of him. His teeth clenched at the energy it took to just keep himself awake and upright, his fingers digging into the cold stone with the effort. His feet stumbled as his knees buckled. His broken body collapsed to the ground. His lungs heaved, pulling in as much oxygen as they possibly could through the split lips. The light drops felt cool against the wounds decorating his back, he realized, as his eyelids drooped. It was comforting to hear the light pit-pat so close to his ears. It soothed him. It relaxed his muscles and calmed his breathing. It quietly lulled him and carefully pulled him closer and closer to the sleep he longed for. He felt as though he could just lie here and take a rest.
No. He couldn't sleep now. He still had one task to accomplish. With a grunt, he pushed his upper body off the ground and folded his knees underneath him. His body swayed as they straightened out and held up his weight. He took one step forward. Once again, his legs failed him. He fell back, down to the ground, the harsh impact flowing through his numb body. He couldn't do it. He didn't have the strength. Lungs once again heaving, he propped his body up onto his elbows. He strained to drag his body to the side of the alleyway until his back finally pressed against the stone wall. His arms fell limp to his sides, worn out from the events tonight. He wanted to sleep. He just felt so tired... He could soon, he told himself, as soon as he was finished. With his head tilted back and his eyes sliding closed, he forced his arm to move. He reached into the pocket of his jean pants, numbly grasping at the device inside. He pulled it free and used his thumb to flip it open. His fingertip tapped only one button. His hand moved to his ear, weakly pressing the speaker against it.
A small smile formed on his lips at the all-too-familiar voice. It was the same one who had comforted him too many times to count, the voice of his partner. "Hey." His voice cracked. It sounded weak and distant, even to his own ears.
There was a slight pause. "Zephyr...?" He was worried, and confused. Even over the phone, it was clear. The voice on the other end grew more cautious, "What happened? Where are you? Did ––"
"Listen to me," he cut in, ignoring the questioning. His voice strained and his words grew forced. "I don't think... I'm gonna make it home... tonight." He winced at the exertion of just talking. His throat felt dry and sore. His wounds stung sharply in protest with each subtle change.
The voice rose with panic. He could imagine his partner gathering everything right at that very moment and getting ready to leave. "Just tell me where you are! I'll be there soon! Please, just hold on a little longer!"
"No!" he responded as quickly as his body would let him. He quieted. "No... She's near. I can... feel it. There's... no time."
Silence. Not even shuffling came from the other side. No jingle of keys, no voice, no slam of the door. Just pure silence. Vaguely, Zephyr wandered if he had been hung up on. But then there was the voice again, a faint whisper, "What do you want me to do?" The tone told him everything. His partner was crying and possibly even shaking, and trying his hardest to conceal it. The soft, careful tone was proof enough of this.
Zephyr forced his eyelids to open at least halfway. Even if all he could do was dully stare at the gray clouds above, he wouldn't allow himself to fall victim to sleep. Not yet. His eyebrows drew closer together at the struggle of just forcing his words out. "Protect... Elijah... Protect... my brother..." His task was finally complete. His arm fell limp. His eyes grew vacant. He allowed himself to fall into an eternal slumber, too tired to go on.
The only proof to what had happened to Zephyr Bayne that night was the loud wailing that echoed through the streets as day finally broke the next morning. Very, very few had reported the sight of a man cradling what seemed like a body in the middle of a lost alleyway. Those same people had vanished the next day, never to be seen again. To anyone who heard the whispered rumors, it was clear that someone was pulling all the strings.