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Monster

Rated PG-15 for darkfic, gore, character death/murder, insanity, language, and very slight implied sex.

Set after chapter 37 of Brewdening Love.

- - -

He peered through the trees. There was no sign of Joan and from here he could see Hugo's truck waiting beside the house. He smiled and stepped forward, and as he did he heard a car pull up behind him.

Whirling, he saw a black car parked at the end of the driveway, but it was empty. He shrugged and turned back, in time to see a figure dart toward him. He caught a glimpse of black-blood eyes, before the person reached for him, moving too quickly for a human.

The thing caught one of his arms in an iron grip, pulling his head back with its other hand. Before he could make any protest beyond a confused gasp, silvery pain sliced through his throat. His vision went red, then dimmed.

And Brian's final, stunned thought broke apart and drifted away like smoke. Hugo…

- - -

Hugo checked his watch, tapped his foot, stood and paced a few times before sitting back down. Brian should have been there by now.

Beside him sat his suitcase and a jacket that wasn't his. He had been ready to go for nearly an hour, just waiting for Brian to return with a few last supplies.

Outside he heard a car pull up and brightened, waiting in anticipation, longing to see him walk through the door once more, but nobody came. After several silent moments, Hugo rose to his feet and went to the door himself. He emerged onto the stoop, but he didn't see anyone. The sunlight glinted off of something gold to his right.

He stepped down to the ground and stopped in his tracks.

It was Brian he saw, with his blond hair spread around his head like a halo. He might have just been resting in the sun if not for the blood that soaked his shirt and still bubbled out now, from a slice in his neck that lay open his throat to the bone.

"Brian?" He heard himself speak, felt himself move, but he wasn't in control of any of it.

His green eyes were open, fixed up at the sky. Those eyes – narrowed and devil-may-care on the day they met, crinkled with laughter during their dates, wide with newfound wonder and trust as he held him in the afterglow of their first night – dull and unseeing now.

(This can't be happening, it can't be–)

Hugo dropped to his knees beside him. "B…Brian?" he whispered, shaking his shoulder, as if they lived in some world where a gaping hole where one's throat used to be was nothing more than a surface wound. It made more sense than living in a world where Brian – his Brian, his impossible, infuriating, wild and careless and utterly perfect Brian – was dead.

(God no, please no–)

"Brian, please…" He shook him harder as a cold hand wound icy fingers through his chest. Fresh blood leaked from the wound, not yet cooled enough to dry. He choked on anguish as the frozen hand crushed his heart inside him.

(No, why him, why take him, he can't be gone, he's mine–)

"Dad?"

He spun around, shaking. His daughter stood by the truck, a stranger beside her. At first glance it was obviously not a human. It was too pale, too thin, and had eyes of bright crimson. More red dripped from its chin.

(Brian's blood, oh God that's his blood that's the thing that did this.)

He scrambled to his feet, reaching for her. "Joan, get away from that!"

She smiled. "Nickolas does what I say, he won't hurt me," she said, as the creature stepped forward, dragging a bundle behind it. It tossed its baggage, and Hugo recoiled as the limp and white shape of a girl fell in a heap before him, but this body was not merely a corpse. It was unnaturally wrinkled and drained and landed with the clacking of bones.

He backed up, sickened. He knew that girl, it was Jenny.

"Dad, isn't this great?" Joan asked. Her eyes were over-wide, her grin too large.

The creature shifted irritably. "Let me eat it now," it muttered. "Before it stagnates. You have shown off enough."

"Fine, go." She waved her hand – traces of crimson upon it as well – and the creature darted by.

"She's…she's your friend…" Hugo managed to whisper, staring at Jenny.

"Now she's gone, and Ward will love only me. Now that boy is gone, and you will love only me."

There was a wet, ripping sound behind him, and Hugo turned toward it. In the next moment he was on his knees, the world spinning sickeningly, while the thing holding Brian pressed its mouth to his skin in a twisted mockery of a kiss and bit into the flesh of his wrists, his legs, anywhere near an artery. And the sight of the perverse caresses only drove the loss deeper, only seemed to be a way for the thing to further steal Brian from him.

Once he had been the person to run his hands and lips over that body, but gently, lovingly. He remembered the weight of his body, the taste of his skin, when he was still so warm with life–

That heat was now replaced by cold, those touches and memories painted over by this macabre reenactment.

He heard the creature snap his lover's neck, and dimly saw his head falling backwards, hanging from his body by a mere flap of skin, eyes still terribly wide. Unable to watch further, he turned away and squeezed his eyes shut, heaving with dry sobs, too stunned yet to produce tears.

(No, no…)

"Don't worry, Dad."

He jumped at Joan's voice. She had moved to stand beside him.

"He won't hurt anyone I don't tell him to."

"You…told it to hurt them? Jenny and…and Brian?"

"She was a dirty bitch," Joan snarled, her smile vanishing. "And he was making you gay."

"J-Joan–"

"They're gone now. Everything will go back to normal!" She glared. "Ward will love only me. You will love only me. You would go to Hell if it was up to that boy. I'm saving you, you should thank me!"

The monster looked up at her shout, and Hugo's instincts awoke. Struggling to his feet he grabbed Joan by the wrist and turned and ran for the house, slamming the door and locking it.

"Why did you do that?" Joan asked. "You can let Nickolas in."

"No, Joan. No."

"But we're saving you, Dad. He and I saved you," crooned Joan's voice. "That boy was hurting you. That boy was making you evil."

He leaned against the door, heart pounding and breath shallow.

That monster was controlling her somehow. It had to be. It had to be, because otherwise it was her fault Brian was gone–

Brian, his love, his only love.

"Come on, Dad. Let Nickolas in. He'll want to rest when he's finished eating."

Brian, who had been there just hours before, so alive, hugging him, kissing him, then pulling away in a whirlwind of fire and gold and energy. Pressing his jacket into his arms and telling him to hold onto it and promising he would come back.

Through the window he saw the creature get up. When it rose to its feet it was in the eerie way an insect does; graceful but terribly inhuman.

He yanked the curtains shut, but the silhouette remained behind them, reflected in a black shadow on the wall. It moved closer, and a flash of a blood red eye peered between the swaying shades. It was waiting.

Joan drifted to the door, tugging at it. "Dad, give me the key. He wants to come in."

"Stay away from the door, Joan," he ordered. His skin clammy and his heart racing, he dashed for the stairs and to his bedroom, where he pulled his gun from the wall.

(Joan didn't cause this. That thing did.)

There was a crash downstairs.

(Oh God, it's here–)

The gun seemed a flimsy protection, but, gripping it, he stumbled for the door and nearly fired when someone appeared in it before him. It wasn't the creature, it was Joan, regarding him mildly.

"Why are you hiding? Nickolas won't hurt you unless I tell him to." She turned her head, the whites of her eyes gleaming in the shadows. "I don't have to tell him to, do I?"

"Joan, please– that thing is a monster."

"No he's not. He's an angel. Just like Ward. They're all angels."

"No, Joan." He looked at her desperately. "It's not. It's a monster. It kills people, it's controlling you."

(You didn't come up with this on your own. You didn't. Tell me it isn't your fault he's dead–)

"He's not." She held up her hand, Jenny's blood smeared upon it. "He doesn't control me, he's helping me until Ward makes me one of them. I won't need his help then. I'll be able to protect you from bad men like that evil one on my own."

Evil one. Evil one, that's what she called his Brian. Who had made him so happy, who had loved him so much that he had waited all these years…

He choked as he watched her lick the blood from her hand.

"Aren't you proud of me? Tell me how proud you are." She grinned.

(She's too far gone.)

The girl he had held as a baby, the girl he had watched grow up, the girl he had brought here in the hope of being a good father…

(She's not my daughter anymore.)

Everything he had tried to give her, and everything she had, in turn, taken away.

Brian's voice, his laugh, his cries, his whispers, all silenced.

His touch, his love, his tenderness, his heat, gone.

His spirit, his breath, his life, gone forever.

(She wanted this. She made it happen...)

Something inside him that had been hanging on finally let go. Joan stepped between the barrel of the gun and the door as she advanced on him.

Closing his eyes, he squeezed the trigger.

- - -

He didn't see the monster when he ran outside. The black car was gone. He didn't stop to look back, just threw the bag and jacket into the truck, turned the key and floored it. On the highway, his heart was finally beginning to slow when he saw a sleek black sedan swing into traffic behind him and his knuckles went white on the steering wheel.

(It's following me. It's right behind me oh God it's right behind me–)

He slammed on the breaks and pulled into the emergency lane. The black car sped past, windows too dark to see inside.

He was being paranoid. There were a million black cars on the road, and that one had driven by so normally. Paranoia would only harm him now; he had to keep himself together.

Regaining control, he pulled back out and raced to the airport exit, trying not to see the dozens of identical black cars that seemed to be following him. An hour later he boarded the plane, and closed the window of his aisle, unable to shake the thought that the monster was still out there somewhere, watching him through the glass.

Safety at last, for what good it did him. He would never be safe from this day. All he was doing was running in place; he had no plan, no goal, and no destination. But if he stopped running, everything would catch up. He couldn't let this day ever catch up to him.

There was an empty seat beside him, an unused ticket in his pocket, and the memory of death his only company.

Jenny, pale and drained and dead for reasons he didn't know. His daughter, gunshot wound in her chest and her eyes wide and eternally confused, her soul too poisoned for her to even understand why he had to fire. And most painful of all, his lover's torn and lifeless body, left behind, lying broken on the grass.

(We were supposed to leave here together.)

He curled upon himself, Brian's jacket clutched to his chest. And it smelled like him, like sweat and charcoal and cologne – the same cologne he had given him for his birthday, and Brian had liked it so much he never wore another brand–

Pain overpowered shock at last, and emptiness welled up inside him. He buried his face in the achingly familiar fabric and wept, for all of them, but mostly for the person who should have been sitting beside him.

- - -

Seven seats back sat the creature with red eyes. He could taste the man's grief in the air and scowled; his despair would sour his blood, but there was nothing to be done for it. Humans were strange creatures who allowed those painful emotions into themselves. Consuming tainted prey held no pleasure, but he had a promise to keep to the Cullen boy, to avenge his fallen mate.

For now he opened a magazine and listened to the man sob quietly as the plane lifted off the ground. Soon he would be free of that sorrow, reunited with his blond companion who he mourned so. He would have been happy to reunite them now, but the commotion would crash the plane. So troublesome.

Nickolas flipped a page, the taste of the fair-haired man's blood still in his mouth. He was quite satiated for the while. He could wait.

-- End --

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