There was a time when they were in between places. In the beginning, George will think to himself a long time after the end.
During this in between time, this period spent as vagabonds, the car was their home. It took George a long time to get used to the musty scent of it, to the embarrassing squelching sound the seats made every time he moved an inch, to the fact that the man behind the wheel was a vampire, but he did get used to it. Eventually. This is how:
They didn’t have much money between them and they couldn’t stop long enough to make more, not yet, Mitchell insisted over and over again as if he could feel his old companions at their back.
(George knows now that he absolutely could.)
So they kept moving forward, blindly and aimlessly, running with no end in sight.
They only stopped to sleep.
At night, Mitchell sprawled across the front seat and George across the back and there---parked in deserted lots and back alleys and forgotten turnoffs hidden from the road---they talked. The seat dividing them acted as a confessional; they told each other stories and lies, dreams and pointless anecdotes until one or both of them drifted off to sleep.
This is how they learned each other.
How they sealed their fate.
One memory is sharper than all the others.
The night before their first full moon together, the air turned so cold their breaths seemed to freeze on contact, crystallizing into tiny halos of ice that glistened for a a moment before evaporating into nothing. It wasn’t so bad for Mitchell. He wasn’t fond of the cold, but it’s not like it could kill him. But George---
“You alright, back there?” Mitchell asked.
George was shaking. The combination of the cold and the transformation just on the horizon were wreaking havoc on his body. He was still new then, only seven full moons under his belt, each one more terrifying than the last. He was numb and panicked all at once; still he managed to mutter I’m fine through chattering teeth.
Even then Mitchell could always tell when he was lying.
He hauled himself over the back of the seat and landed not at all gracefully in a heap on the floorboard.
“What are you doing?” George asked, clearly bewildered.
“Budge up,” Mitchell said. “I don’t want to wake up to find you frozen to the seat in the morning.”
“Mitchell,” George hissed. “We’re not…cuddling.”
The indignation in George's voice amused Mitchell. He climbed onto the narrow seat and settled down beside his reluctant bedfellow without asking.
“Tonight, we are.”
George knew he should protest more, but the truth was he needed the company. The cold and the worry---it was all too much to deal with. Everything was too much. Reluctantly, he turned to his side, giving Mitchell a tiny space to stretch out on.
It was awkward at first. George didn’t know what to do with his hands and Mitchell’s face was incredibly close to his, closer than it had ever been before, but then Mitchell casually wrapped his arm around George’s waist and everything else seemed to fall into place.
“Better?” Mitchell asked.
George nodded in the darkness, a gesture that would have been lost if Mitchell had been in his normal place. He was still shaking, but at least his teeth had stopped trying chatter their way out of his head.
“There’s a full moon tomorrow,” George said with an air of calmness he didn’t feel. “I’m going to need to find a place to change.”
“We’ll worry about that tomorrow,” Mitchell replied.
“It’s hard to sleep the night before.”
“Because you’re panicking.”
“What? I’m not panicking. Why do you think I’m panicking?”
Mitchell laughed softly.
“I can feel your heart beating, George.”
“Can you not say things like that when your face is this close to my neck?”
“Shh…” Mitchell said. “Just go to sleep.”
“I just told you I can’t.”
Mitchell pulled him closer; let one of his hands come to rest over George’s and his lips graze the back of George’s neck so softly that George is never sure if it happened or if he imagined it.
The only thing he is certain of is that his heartbeat finally began to slow.
“You can,” Mitchell promised.
And he did.
It became a ritual after that, even after they found a place to live and they were no longer faced with the threat of hypothermia on a nightly basis. On the night before the full moon, Mitchell would slip into George’s room and crawl into the bed beside him and talk nonsense to him until George fell asleep.
Sometimes, on the really bad nights when talking wasn’t enough to calm George’s shattered nerves, they slipped out to the car and curled together on the old, rickety backseat that reminded them both of home.
This is what George remembers.
(This is what he promises to never forget.)