Walking into an obvious ambush wasn’t high on his preferred manners of conflict resolution, but Reid felt a slight satisfaction in looking down, literally, even, on the hunched form of Geoffrey McCullum. At least now the vampire hunter was incapacitated enough that words might reach his ears. Rather, that would be the case with men more sensible.
“There is no escape, leech. Kill me now, for there is no way you can sway me to your ideals.”
Christ, if this man didn’t grate on his nerves like nothing else. He felt anything he did at this point would be vindicated by the sheer amount of stubbornness endured thus far. Hell, he could even force McCullum to turn, to become the very thing he despises the most. It would be a fitting fate for someone so lost to reason. And yet, a nagging voice of his own reason still pulled him back.
Vindicated, perhaps, but entirely vindictive…
Jonathan reached out to grab the other’s neck. The grip firm but relaxed enough that the motion to make McCullum face him was more of a suggestion. And in his exhausted state, he didn’t bother to resist. Jonathan would have spent more time admiring the handsome visage in his hand, if not for the current situation. Instead, he decided to take the last statement as a challenge.
“That’s where you’re wrong.”
Fear flashed over McCullum’s eyes, uncertain of the meaning behind Reid’s words. He was confident in his ability to resist a mental intrusion, but the lingering threat of the unknown haunted his thoughts.
“What do you mean?“ A hint of fear was clear in the question. Jonathan could only think how lucky this man was that he was so soft-hearted.
“I’ll spare you McCullum. I’ll offer you the mercy you never offered me.”
“...What is this ruse?”
“This is no ruse McCullum. This is me letting you go. After all, you and I are both trying to save this poor country in our own way.”
Jonathan released the other’s neck and held out his hand in offering. He could practically feel McCullum’s shock and confusion just by looking at his face. In doing so, he also took note for the first time of the consequences of their...scuffle. Several red gashes graced McCullum’s face...arms...chest…
Ah, this is rather bad.
Whatever blessing King Arthur’s blood held was clearly wearing off. Several of the wounds would need immediate attention. Guilt crept into his mind at the full realization that he had swung his weapons at a human, even if in self defense. His thoughts were momentarily interrupted by the weight pulling his still outstretched arm. McCullum struggled to his feet and Reid seized the opportunity, anticipating the incoming protest.
“What are you doing?”
The incredulous tone sated at least some level of Reid’s desire for revenge. What better way to take the moral high ground than by simultaneously forcing Geoffrey to do something he knew he wouldn’t want. Reid could barely contain his smirk as he adjusted the arm draped over his neck to better support the other’s weight.
“I have a much worse fate for you in mind.”
With the man so close, it was hard to miss how McCullum stiffened at his side. Certainly, teasing the poor man was lifting his mood. Though he supposed it was enough for the time being.
“I’m going to take care of these wounds before I leave and I won’t take no for an answer. Some of these lacerations require immediate attention.”
Geoffrey could do little more than blankly stare before his mind caught up.
“You can’t be serious.”
“And why would I joke about healing the injured?”
“Deceit is in your nature, leech. I’ve seen the way your kind lure the innocent.”
The reaction was to be expected, but Reid preferred the smalltalk over uncomfortable silence as he lead them to the lift. And if it happened to work as a sufficient distraction to drag a bleeding hunter along without resistance, even better. As the lift began to move, he resumed the conversation.
“I know your men have been watching me. I would have hoped your opinion of my ‘nature’ was slightly better than that. At the very least you should know I have never compromised my patients nor my integrity as a physician.”
“And how long until you give into your hunger and decide I’m on the menu? I’ve been culling your kind far longer than you’ve been one, or have you forgotten? You aren’t fooling me, leech.”
“The only solace I can provide to that is my word. Rest assured I won’t allow it at least for the foreseeable future.”
The glare directed back at him made it clear that Geoffrey was definitely not placated by his response. And to be honest, Reid knew his words would not convince himself were their positions reversed. As they descended the third floor stairs, Reid realized that lugging a man down the main stairs to the patient ward would raise more questions than he could make excuses for. He turned them in the direction of the only bed remaining. In his exhausted state, it took Geoffrey until they were halfway down the hallway to question their destination.
“Where are you taking me? There aren’t any patients this-” He cut himself off when he read the nameplate marked Dr. Reid on the door in front of him, unsure what to make of this.
“My office, Geoffrey. I believe we would both appreciate the privacy of a closed room given your...propensity to speak enthusiastically about vampires. I would prefer not having unwanted rumors flying about the hospital. And you can be as mad as you want without the risk of prying ears.”
He received a frown at the jab but no retort as he led his patient to sit on the only bed in the room. Come to think of it, it was the first time Reid had had a ‘guest’ in his quarters. “Please forgive the mess. I wasn’t expecting company.” Surely, the room was not in such disarray to portray its occupant as a slob, but neither did the mess strewn about the desktops reflect a pristine gentleman. McCullum, for his part, seemed uninterested in conversation and opted instead for a guarded posture, as if anticipating an attack.
Reid was thankful the other had recovered enough to not accept his death; perhaps that sense would allow him to be patched up without protest. Still, McCullum’s lack of response was becoming unnerving the longer it went on. He rolled a tray of instruments and a stool next to the bed and tried to lighten the mood.
“I thought you would be more excited to see my evil lair. Consider this intelligence gathering on all my darkest secrets,” Jonathan said in mocking tone, smile playing at his lips. The effort was lost on the hunter who was more preoccupied with intensely observing him for any sudden movements. Not that you’d be able to do much in that state, he thought to himself before calmly moving close enough to begin. The remnants of the regeneration effect had healed the cuts across his cheeks mostly closed, but the one on his arm was still slowly leaking blood. As for the rest, he needed a bit of cooperation.
“Let’s get your shirt off so I can see the damage, if you would.” His tone was professional, but he somehow knew it wouldn’t be so easy. Jonathan reached forward anyway.
“The hell you will! Get your hands away from me, leech.” McCullum’s protest was surprisingly confident for someone that looked on the verge of passing out. Reid’s suspicions were confirmed when he began unbuttoning the shirt; he was much too tired to offer any physical backing to his threats. After quick inspection over his front, Reid concluded the wound on his arm was the only remaining critical injury.
“The good news is your all your insides are still inside. The bad news is you’ll need stitches for that one. Here, lean your arm on your leg and hold it steady for me.” Geoffrey eyed him for a few more seconds before complying with a sigh. Grateful for the compliance, Jonathan moved quickly to prepare the needle and thread. “If it helps, I could lend you a scalpel to defend yourself?” He had been joking so far to get McCullum to relax, but he was at least half serious this time. Without the distraction of walking and talking, Reid was forced to focus more on the open wounds. The smell of blood threatened the edge of his clarity.
“Just get on with it, doctor.” The hunter’s words brought him back to his senses, or at least enough to concentrate on the task at hand rather than the intoxicating scent in the air. He found holding his breath dampened the effect of the scent, allowing him to stitch through the flesh easier. When he finished, Reid grabbed the antiseptic and repositioned to address the shallower cut across McCullum’s pectoral. Thankfully it would just need to be cleaned and covered.
“How is it you aren’t draining me right now?”
Geoffrey’s question would have caught him off guard had he not be asking himself the same question. He raised his head to deflect the topic, but when he met the other’s eyes something within him made him want to be sincere.
“I won’t lie to you, Geoffrey. It takes a lot of effort to resist the smell of your blood. The little distractions help, like conversation or the smell of antiseptic. But what I wouldn’t give to lick the blood off your cheek for even a taste…”
Reid realized what he was suggesting too late to stop it from coming out. That said, watching Geoffrey’s face shift from horrified to embarrassed may have been worth it. He found the redness on his ears was for lack of a better word, cute. “Heh, suppose I sound more like a dog than a vampire,” he muttered more to diffuse the atmosphere than anything.
“Keep your tongue to yourself, Fido. Are we done here?”
“Clean off your face with this and get some rest. You should be good to go in the morning,” Jonathan said as he handed over a damp towel. He trusted Geoffrey had enough sense to do that by himself.
“And what makes you think I’m going to sleep here, completely vulnerable?”
“A fair point, Geoffrey, had I not spent the last 10 minutes tending to you nor spared your life while it was in my hands.” Jonathan was on the edge of falling back into annoyance, but tried for a more professional approach. “You’ve lost a lot of blood tonight and I don’t want you stumbling around outside. I am worried for Dr. Swansea so I need to leave for now. If I’m not back by morning you may leave or check in downstairs in the event of complications.” The lack of protest indicated he was at least considering the idea, although not without sending his most critical glare towards the doctor. Jonathan let a moment lapse, considering whether or not to suggest it.
“Or you could stay and wait. Your company is always welcome here. God knows I’d appreciate the change of pace.” He disappeared out the exterior door in a flash, not waiting for a response.