“Amy, did you hear that?”
“Charley...I was trying to talk about something serious. Will you put those damn binoculars down? Remember how much trouble they got us in last time?”
Charley lowered his binoculars slightly and sighed. “I’m sorry, Amy, but I know I heard something.”
“You’ve just been jumpy lately, Charley. We all have…” she said, sadly. “But we got him. I know it still… It still feels strange out there, but… I mean I still feel a sense of dread when I look at that house, but we both know it’s empty.”
Charley was miles away, caught up in thought. He brought his binoculars back up to his eyes and leaned closer to the window.
“Charley, please…” Amy whispered.
“Shh...I think I saw something in the bushes…” Charley focused his binoculars, a shape was starting to form, something moving…
The curtains were drawn shut forcefully. “Amy! Shit, there was something there!”
“It was a dog, Charley.” Amy said, anger rising in her voice. “Charley, I need you to listen...I need you to talk, too. I know it’s bugging you.”
“Amy, I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to hear about it. I wasn’t there for you and I wasn’t there for him either and it just… It kills me, Amy. I can’t stand to hear about it. Don’t you think i feel guilty enough?”
They sat down on the bed with a simultaneous sigh. Amy put her head in her hands. The scars on her neck caught some light from the desk lamp. Charley ran the back of his hand lightly over them. Amy sighed and leaned up to kiss him. Charley looked shocked and pushed her away, gently.
“Amy, I’m sorry. I’m sorry…” Tears were falling and his voice was shaking a bit. “I shouldn’t. I could have kept us all out of this if I had just been smarter...You wouldn’t have...Ed would…” He buried his head in his arm, and his elbow almost hit Amy. She ducked and re-positioned herself, wrapping an arm around Charley to comfort him.
“You shouldn’t blame yourself, Charley.”
“But you did…” He whispered.
“You said so yourself. I was supposed to protect you, it was my fault.”
Charley shrugged her arm off and walked back to the window, wiping the tears off his face violently.
“Maybe you should go now, Amy. It’s late. You should get some sleep.” He said, coldly.
“Fine.” She said, exasperated, as she grabbed her things. She stomped towards the door. Leave it to Charley to make it about himself when she needed to talk. When she had so many things on her mind, so many things torturing her thoughts all day.
She softened as she reached the door. He’d been through a lot as well… It wasn’t fair to… Well, none of it was fair.
“Will I see you tomorrow?”
“Sure. It’s a school day, isn’t it?”
“Ugh!” Amy slammed the door and stomped down the stairs. Charley heard his mother call goodbye to her but didn’t hear Amy reply. Great. Now she was going to come up and ask him what was wrong.
Charley lay on his bed, close to sleep, his tired mind dredging up things he was trying to block out. Ed’s cross scar, his red eyes. Amy’s fangs. Everything he’d seen. Transformation, disintegration, all that shit that was so entertaining in the movies. God, he used to talk to Ed all night about how cool it would be to be like Peter Vincent. To hunt monsters and save damsels. Fuck it, if he only knew. If he only fucking knew…
There was a knock at his door, gentle and quiet, before it opened, letting in a sliver of light from the hallway.
“Charley? Can I come in?”
“Yeah, Mom.” Charley said, sitting up and turning on the lamp. He rubbed his eyes.
“I heard you and Amy fighting earlier...I thought I’d give you a little time to cool down.” She said, crossing the room and sitting on the end of his bed. “You two have been fighting a lot lately…”
They let her words hang in the air, let the question remain implied. What’s going on? Charley didn’t know what to say. She’d been asking a lot of questions lately and he didn’t know how to answer them.
“Just...I guess we’re both feeling a lot of stress over Ed and everything…” Charley said, looking down.
Ed had been reported missing.His face was everywhere, now. The news, the paper, the flyers all over town. It was too much for Charley. Ed’s mother had come over, wailing and weeping, with the police on her heels, asking Charley question after question. What did he know? Where could Ed have gone? Who could have taken him? Charley didn’t know what to say, couldn’t look Ed’s mother in the eyes and tell her the truth. They wouldn’t have believed him, anyway. He hated himself for it, but all he’d done is cry and say he didn’t know anything. He heard his mom talking on the phone to one of her friends the next day. Apparently Ed’s father had been taken into police custody for questioning. “Even if he didn’t do anything this time, that bastard could use a little bit of time rotting in a jail cell.” It sent chills down Charley’s spine. He’d never considered anything like this would happen. How could he? He thought they were all going to make it out okay. He just wanted them to stick together and be the heroes since no one else was stepping up.
Charley wiped a stray tear from his face. “You know...it’s just all that and school is really laying it on with midterms and all that. I guess that’s it…”
Judy wrapped her arm around Charley. She kissed his temple. “They’re going to find him, Charley, I just know it. I’ve just got this feeling that he’s still out there.”
“Thanks, mom.” Charley said, flatly.
“I’m serious, Charley. I even had a dream about him. He was looking for you. I thought it was sweet.”
Charley’s heart started racing. Ed...Ed...Evil Ed… Fuck, everything was so messed up.
“You look really spooked, Charley. I’m sorry, maybe I shouldn’t have said that.” She paused and bit her lip. “I know you don’t like it when I say this, but I think you should take some of my Valium tonight, okay? Just to make me feel better. So you can rest. And I’ll bring you some warm milk, too, okay? You’re looking worn out.”
Charley nodded without looking up. He slid into bed and pulled the covers up to his chin. He didn’t mind her Valium suggestion tonight. There was no way he’d be able to sleep without it.
Just sleep. Sleep and the sun will come up and you’ll feel better. The sun will come up and you’ll be safe.
“Oh, hey, Amy.” Charley said, closing his locker. He stared absently at it after he closed the padlock.
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah. Uh...Valium just makes me slow in the morning.”
Charley started to walk away, but Amy caught his shoulder.
“Charley, we really need to talk.”
“Amy, I told you, I don’t…”
“It’s not good to just shut down like this, Charley!” She pulled him closer and whispered. “I know you’ve been having nightmares. Your mom tells me this stuff.”
Charley rolled his eyes and tried to turn away, but Amy pulled him back. “I am too, Charley! We’ve got to stick together on this it’s not like… I mean it’s not like anyone else is going to….Relate.”
Charley looked down at his shoes. He knew she was right, but he really wasn’t ready.
“I just… want to pretend it never happened. To keep hoping it was all a dream and I’ll wake up in front of the television, because I dozed off watching Peter Vincent on Fright Night. That none of this is real. That’s what I want, okay?”
“But, Charley, it is-”
“We have to go to class, Amy.” He said flatly, walking away.
Amy watched him in disbelief. Her damn boyfriend was supposed to be there for her. He knew what had happened, he was the only one who wouldn’t think she was crazy. He was the only person she could talk to. Even if it wasn’t impossible to explain, it wasn’t like she had much of a support system at home anyway…
But there was at least one other person who knew. Who didn’t need convincing. She shoved her books back in her locker and grabbed her jacket. Fuck her trig quiz, she had bigger problems…
She was winded by the time she reached his door, having ridden her bike all the way there but...Well, there was a sense of urgency looming over her at all times, and she needed to do this. She would have ridden her bike across state lines if she had to. She just prayed that he was home. She knocked on the door slowly, then leaned on the wall to catch her breath.
“Hello? Who is it?”
She walked back in view of the peep hole.
“It’s me...Mr. Vincent...It’s Amy.” She said, panting.
Vincent opened the door a crack and looked at her. She looked up at him, puzzled.
“Sorry, yes, come in, come in, dear girl.” He said, opening the door and backing away.
“What’s wrong?” He asked her, thinly veiled terror in his eyes. If there was another vampire, he was moving out of this damn town. Maybe even this damn country.
“I just need to...to talk.”
Peter sat down and gestured for Amy to do the same. She took a seat on the couch across from him. He looked a bit ominous in his wing-backed chair.
“You can’t talk to Charley?”
“He doesn’t want to talk about...any of it…” She said, picking at a stray thread on her sweater.
“Ahh, I see…” Peter tented his hands and thought for a moment. “Would you like some tea?”
“Um...That’d be nice, thank you.”
“Just a minute. Make yourself comfortable.” He said with a gentle smile.
“I just… I couldn’t help it. I didn’t want to but I couldn’t do anything about it. I felt like I was trapped inside my own head, frozen. I couldn’t control any of it.” Amy said, tea cup shaking in her hand. She wiped a forming tear away.
“I’m so sorry, Amy.” Peter said. He’d been very quiet and his face was nearly stony. He was trying to be strong for Amy. This poor girl needed someone. But he felt for her. He felt a deep sadness welling up in him. These poor kids got wrapped up in something they never should have been a part of. Something they never should have seen.
“Amy, do you think… Do you think you could get some professional help? Is there anyone you can see?”
“How do I...No one would…”
“Amy, I’ve seen it on the television...your friend, well...they think Jerry’s kidnapped him. They know he was a predator, they just don’t know...the details. I really think it would be beneficial for you to talk to someone who could really help you, Amy. As much as I’d like to, I don’t really know what to do for you, dear. It’s beyond my realm of knowledge.”
Amy wiped more tears off her face and sniffed. “No, it really has been helpful Mr. Vincent. Just to talk to someone. Not to have it bottled up, you know?” She set her teacup down and stood, grabbing her jacket. “I have to go now but, thank you.”
“You will try to see someone, won’t you?” Peter called, just as she was about to step through the door.
“Yes, I’ll see what I can do. Thank you for the tea.”
“Anytime, Amy.” Peter said with a sad smile.
When the door was firmly shut, Peter looked down at the teacup in his hand. He began to tremble, and drank the last of his tea in one swift gulp, then dropped his tea cup, and let it roll onto the floor. He stared at his fireplace. To an extent, he knew what Amy was going through. In quiet moments he could still hear that boy’s pained cries. Peter knew he’d just been protecting himself, he was just fighting a beast but then...in his last moments, that poor boy….he looked human again. Maybe he was human again. But what had happened to him? Perhaps the sunlight had poured through the windows and burned his body as well. Yes… Peter had done the right thing. He wasn’t a boy. He was a monster. He was evil.
Charley sat in the dim glow of the television, staring out the window at Jerry’s house. He was sure he’d heard something. He wanted to shrug it off, to say he was just paranoid but...He’d been right last time. And what if something had happened? What if Jerry wasn’t dead? Was it possible for him to come back? Charley had no idea what the rules were, what was actually true. Jerry had been able to heal from everything else...It seemed possible…
But Charley didn’t want to believe it...Couldn’t believe it. It had to be just an animal in the house. Something simple and stupid like that. It usually was, even in horror movies. Just a cat. There was always a fucking cat. He knew he should just ignore it...But if he didn’t at least take a quick look, he wouldn’t have peace of mind. He leapt up and grabbed his binoculars, searching all over for signs of movement.
There was definitely something there. Eyes glowing in the dark. Charley’s breath hitched. The eyes moved closer to his house, out from the darkness. His heart was racing, waiting for the reveal, expecting to see Jerry’s contorted, monstrous face.
It was a dog, as far as he could tell. A stray husky or something, just out for a midnight stroll. Charley laughed at himself, the tension that had flooded his body receding. Maybe he should stop watching horror movies before bed. Maybe he should stop living in one, too. It was all he seemed to think about now. If vampires were real, what else could be out there? He raised the binoculars to his eyes again, adjusting the focus. Maybe the dog was lost. If it had a collar, he could return it.
But there it was, standing still. Standing still and staring up at him. It was hard to tell in the dark exactly how big it was, but one thing was certain, it was staring at him. Big, glowing eyes boring into his own. He dropped his binoculars and scrambled to shut the curtains. He jumped into bed, heart pounding. A woman was screaming on TV, being torn apart by a werewolf. Charley quickly changed the channel. He was too frightened to turn the TV off altogether and face a dark, quiet room, so he let infomercials play quietly until he finally found sleep.
Charley woke up, groggy, and happy that it wasn’t a school day. He looked at his clock. 10 AM. He’d taken some Valium from his mother again the night before. Maybe he could manage to get his own prescription. Maybe for something with a little less... pow. He rubbed his eyes. He had slept for such a long time, but he didn’t feel rested. He wasn’t sure if what had happened last night was real or just...some kind of half-sleep hallucination. A shiver ran down his spine, remembering those eyes, glowing and full of intent. He shook himself then climbed out of bed, coffee on his mind, and walked downstairs into the kitchen.
“I can’t believe it...I mean he lived right next door. He came over to our house, you know? And he seemed so charming. God, I’m so glad Charley is-” His mother turned around at the sound of his footsteps, a bit alarmed, phone almost flying out of her hand. “Oh, good morning, Charley!” She said, brightly. “Mom, I have to go now, Charley’s awake” she said into the phone. “Yes, I’ll hug him for you.” She said, rolling her eyes and sticking her tongue out at the phone. “Okay, buh-bye, Mom.”
Charley gave her a curt smile.
Charley paused for a second in confusion, then put together what his mother had meant.
“It’s Sleeping Beauty, Mom. It’s in the name and everything.” Charley said, as he reached into the cabinet for the coffee.
His mother laughed loudly. Genuine at first, then a bit forced. She knew Charley must have heard her on the phone… She knew it was selfish but she was just so relieved that it hadn’t been Charley. That her little boy was safe.
“Is Amy coming over today?” she asked,chewing on her lip. Charley shrugged as he fiddled with the coffee pot.
“I think you should invite her over. I’ll make you two some lunch.” She suggested.
“Why?” Charley asked, turning around and leaning on the counter.
Charley was such a sweet boy, she’d never understand why he didn’t seem to have many friends. She wanted to help him keep the relationships that he did have. Especially now . And she loved Amy. She often got carried away imagining her marrying Charley. She knew it was silly, and they were young, but she’d been about their age when she’d met Charley’s father. Of course, that wasn’t exactly a good model for a relationship…
“I just want to see you two happy again, that’s all.” She said, walking over and ruffling his hair. “I think you’ll feel better if you spend some time with her. You’ve been up in your room too much, sweetie.”
Charley’s stony expression was melting away. His mother always meant well. She always tried her hardest...He could indulge her, today.
“Alright, Mom. I’ll call her after I have some coffee.”
“Thank you, sweetie” she said, giving him a quick peck on the cheek. “Maybe you two should have a picnic. Get some fresh air. You can borrow my car, if you want.”
Amy was tense as she nibbled on her sandwich. Charley seemed to be looking every direction to avoid her.
“Charley, did you want to talk about anything?”
Charlie sighed and picked at the grass. “Amy I...I’m not sure Jerry’s dead.”
“Shut up.” Amy spat, angrily. She barely realized it came out of her mouth.She regretted it instantly.
“Amy? What the hell?”
“I’m sorry Charley but...just...don’t do this, okay?”
“Don’t do what ?”
“Don’t dredge this all back up. If he wasn’t dead, I wouldn’t be here, Charley.” Amy said, putting her sandwich down. She pulled her cardigan tighter around herself.
“ Something is going on in that house, Amy.”
“It makes sense that you’re scared, Charley. I get it. It must be hell living right next door. But it’s over, okay? You have to move on! You have to...get it out of your system. I think bottling it up is messing with your head. I’m...going to start seeing a therapist or something. I think you should too.”
“And say what , exactly? That a vampire moved in next door and ruined my fucking life? They’re gonna lock me up if I say that, Amy!”
“No you… I mean you can work around it… I mean…” Amy moved closer to Charley and put her hand over his. “The police think Jerry was a sex offender, you know? A murderer. They think he kidnapped Evil. There are ways to work through this without having to mention vampires.”
“That’s stupid, Amy. I’m not going to a shrink. I’m going back to Jerry’s house. I’m going to figure out what’s going on.”
“Charley! You’re fixating on something that’s over , okay? There’s nothing you can do about it now! You’re making up problems because you feel guilty!”
“You’re the one who said he was just joking, Amy…” Charley’s voice dropped. “We could have saved him too …”
Amy drew back in disgust. “How the hell was I supposed to know? He was always pulling shit like that, Charley! And it’s not like I held you back, you could have gone if you were so fucking worried!”
Other people in the park were starting to look their way. Amy’s face was red and Charley’s was streaked with tears. He wanted to run. He needed to leave. This wasn’t right. He was panicking. It was his fault, all of it was his fucking fault, he should have left it alone. Or just left his friends out of it.
Charley buried his face in the crook of his arm.
“Fuck it, Amy. Stop pretending you don’t blame me for all of it.” He lowered his arm to look her in the eyes. “Stop pretending you don’t hate me.”
“God damnit, Charley, I don’t! You’re just too caught up in your own shit to realize I’m trying to help!”
“No I’m not! You know it’s my fault! You fucking said it!”
Amy stood up and grabbed her purse, then stared down at Charley.
“You know damn well that that wasn’t me , Charley. I’m going to get help. Real help. And you should too. But until you do, don’t call me, okay? Until you get yourself sorted out, don’t even talk to me, Charley Brewster, because you’re doing my head in!”
Charley woke up, laying in the grass at the park. He sat up urgently, looking around. The park was much emptier now than it had been when he’d laid down. He’d been so riled up he didn’t know what to do. All he’d wanted was to lay on the ground until his heart stopped racing, until his faced stopped burning but… Jesus, he’d dozed off and it was getting late now. The sun was setting. He pulled his blazer around himself, and looked around. His picnic was still all laid out. He jumped to his feet and shoved everything into the basket, haphazardly. He ran back to his mother’s car. He needed to make it home before the sun set. He had to.
Charley was normally a very cautious driver, but he sped home, taking sloppy turns and not giving a shit. His vision was still blurry with tears. He wiped them away violently when they formed, but they wouldn’t stop. He blamed his nap in the park. There must have been pollen floating around in breeze. The sky had gone from orange to deep blue very quickly and was still getting darker. He took another sharp turn and heard someone laying on their horn. He snapped his head around and saw a car that he could have sworn had just appeared, it’s angry driver flipping him off as he sped away. The sky was nearly black when Charley finally pulled into the driveway. When he got out a the car, a large gust of wind blew through the neighborhood, howling through the hole’s in Jerry’s house. Charley stood, staring at it, breath caught in his lungs and not budging. His heart was beating loudly in his ears. Something was stirring in the house, he just knew it. Something was going on. He took a cautious step towards it.
“Charley!” He jumped and spun around. His mom was standing in the doorway, a worried expression on her face.
“Charley, what happened, where have you been? Get inside, I think it’s about to rain.”
Charley sighed and walked back into his own house, casting one last look towards Jerry’s over his shoulder.
“Charley, are you okay? God, have you been crying?”
“I’m fine mom…” He said, ducking away from her hands as she tried to grab his shoulders.
“Where were you, it’s almost time for me to go to work.”
“Sorry, I fell asleep at the park.”
“You fell asleep while you were on a date with Amy? Charley…”
“No, she had to...she had to go.”
“Did you get into a fight, is that why you’re crying?”
“No, mom, I’m not crying, it’s just allergies.”
“Please, calm down, Mom. It’s okay.” His mother’s frantic energy definitely wasn’t helping his anxiety.
“Are you sure? I mean, you...Did you guys hear about- Oh, gosh…”
“Hear about what, mom?”
“About Ed’s dad?”
“What happened to Ed’s dad?” Charley asked, trying to read his mother’s face. She was chewing on her lip and her eyebrows were drawn together. Whatever it was, she really didn’t want to say it.
“He um...Well, the police let him out of custody but he, uh,” She paused and sighed deeply. “He died. There was some kind of animal attack when he was on his way home and he just… Bled out.” She shook her head then put her hand to her cheek. “I didn’t like that man, but, I don’t think anyone should have to go out like that.”
Charley was shaking where he stood. “Animal attack? Are you sure it- What ki- Do they know what kind of animal?”
She shrugged. “A wolf or a dog, something like that. Oh god, Charley, you look terrible, maybe I should have waited to tell you.”
Charley felt his vision go fuzzy. A wave of nausea came over him and he leaned onto the stair rail to balance himself.
“Charley, are you going to be alright? You look very pale.”
“Yeah, mom. I should just...I should go upstairs.”
She looked down at her watch, then sighed, putting her hand on her forehead in exasperation.
“I’m sorry, I have to go to work now, Charley...Take some medicine and try to get some rest, sweetie.” She kissed him on the forehead, then grabbed her purse and headed to the door.
“I’ll see you in the morning, sweetie.”
“Have a good night at work, mom.”
“I love you, Charley. Very much.” She said, looking very worried.
“I love you too, mom.”
Charley sat by the window, watching the rain fall. It was black as pitch outside, the moon and stars covered by the thick storm clouds. He couldn't even make out the outline of Jerry’s house, yet he couldn't stop staring in its direction. He was full of energy, tapping his feet and fiddling with everything on his desk. He felt extremely compelled to go to Jerry’s house. To see what was going on. To check. It was too damn coincidental. He saw a wolf over there, he knew he did, and then...Ed’s dad… It would make sense, wouldn’t it? No. Peter staked Ed, he was gone. It’s just the guilt. Charley thought. But maybe it was possible… Possible that something was in that house. That Jerry had other vampires in there, lost without their master. Causing havok. It was possible. Charley had seen him bring women in there. He’d seen what he’d done to Amy and Ed. It was possible. And Charley wasn’t going to be able to sleep until he checked.
He got up and went to his desk, unlocking the bottom drawer. Two stakes he’d made when he was restless and a rosary he’d had blessed on a sleepless night when he’d wandered to a church. They’d taught him how to pray on it, taught him that fear and guilt were tools of the devil. They’d prayed over him. He asked them to help him have faith. He hoped it worked.
He grabbed his flashlight off his desk and put on his raincoat. It was time for some answers.
The rain was pouring down heavily and ringing loudly in Charley’s ears as he took tentative steps towards Jerry’s house. The flashlight was nearly useless at this point, not being able to cut through the heavy sheets of rain. Charley found it harder to breathe the closer he got to the house. By the time he was at the doorstep, he was gasping. He took a moment to collect himself. Thought to himself that chances of finding something were slim. That wolf attacks made sense.
But, knowing what was out there. Knowing what was possible… He just didn’t want to take any chances. He ripped down the crime scene tape and mouthed a silent prayer for the door to be unlocked. The knob turned easily in his hand, and he pushed the door open slowly, surprised to be seeing the house again. He shined his flashlight around, looking at the wreckage of the fight. Broken banister, lamps and artwork strewn around… At least that ruled out Jerry. He’d never leave his house in this state.
Suddenly, there was a crash from upstairs. Charley screwed his eyes shut before he knew what he was doing. He took a few deep breaths and opened them again. He inched toward the stairs. He knew it could be anything, a bird, a squirrel, a cat, something dumb like that, just like in the movies. Afterall, most of the windows in the house were broken. But he had to check. He was already in the house. He couldn’t back out now. He walked up the stairs as quietly as he could, approaching the door he to the room he thought he heard the sound coming from. He took his raincoat hood off and pressed his ear against the door. He could hear some quiet shuffling. He turned the doorknob as slowly as he could, trying not to make any noise.
He stepped cautiously into the threshold of the room, shining his flashlight around in search of movement. He couldn’t see anything, but he could still hear something breathing.
“H-Hello?” he called, reaching into his pocket to pull out the stake. He held it out and called out again. “Is someone in here?”
More scuffling from the closet. He turned and shined his flashlight onto it, but it only cast long shadows into it. A figure finally emerged. Charley gasped in spite of himself.
“Evil? I…” Charley whispered.
Ed grinned and chuckled, then gave Charley a small wave.
“I thought… Peter said…” Charley said, lowering the stake.
“Peter Vincent this , Peter Vincent that , God, he's all you've ever talked about. Just kiss him already, Charley.”
“How did you survive? He staked you!”
“Your hero is strangely incompetent, Charley. You'd think all those years of B Movie acting would have made him better at killing vampires. God, he did it every fucking night!” Ed laughed.
“Why are you here, Evil?”
Ed clenched his fists. His eyes turned red and he charged at Charley. The stake clattered to the ground as Charley scrambled backwards. He grasped around at his chest, then held his rosary out in a shaky hand.
“God dammit, Charley, how many times have I told you not to call me that! Every damn day I told you not to call me that!” he screamed.
“I'm … I didn't realize…” Charley said, backing up more. “I thought you liked it.”
“I sure as hell do now, Charley.” Ed stepped closer. “You have no idea what it feels like. To be so powerless your whole life and to wake up… Like this. To be everything you always dreamed you could be.”
Ed walked closer and closer. Charley was beginning to lose faith in his rosary. In himself. Ed smiled and laughed.
Charley picked up his stake. “Ed, please.”
“Come on, Charlie. You're a big vampire hunter now. We can play just like when we were kids. It's what you always wanted, right? To be like Peter Vincent? Well, here's your monster! It's Fright Night, Charley! ”
“But, Ed, you… Your dad…” Charley said, backing away, still. His legs bumped into the bed and he had to drop his flashlight to grab the post to keep himself from falling. “Was that you?”
“Of course it was. Bastard deserved worse.” Ed said, clenching his fists.
“How could you do something like that?”
“Its part of the gig, Charley!” he said, laughing and gesturing to himself. “You’ve seen more vampire movies than anyone I know, you know what comes with the territory.”
“But how...How do you make yourself do that...How could you just-”
“Listen, Charley,” Ed said, pushing Charley so that he was sitting on the bed. “You can’t blame an animal for hunting.”
“But you’re not an animal, Ed, you’re-”
“I’m what, Charley? Cos I sure as hell am not a human. I’m something much better.”
Ed picked up the flashlight and held it under his chin, flashing his fangs at Charley.
Charley saw his face clearly for the first time since...that damn night.
“Your...your head. The scar...it’s gone. What happened?”
“Fun thing about being a vampire,” Ed said with a grin, flinging the flashlight away. “you rest up and boom, you're healed. I guess it’s a predatory mechanism. How am I supposed to lure bimbos back to my place with a big scar covering my face?”
“Ed, you… You haven't…” Charley wanted to ask if Ed had been out hunting like Jerry used to. Out hurting innocent people. But it seemed clear already. He just didn’t want to wrap his head around it.
“It's really a lot of fun.” He said clapping his hands and giggling excitedly. “Once you learn how to do it, people are just drawn to you. And I'm smarter than Jerry. I have better taste. No one comes looking for the kind of people I go after.”
Charley took a tentative step forward, holding his rosary tightly.
“And who do you go after, Evil?”
Ed grinned. “Runaways, mostly. People expect them to turn up dead. Poor little things, kicked out of home… They should have listened to their parents. Don’t talk to strangers, Brewster.” He said, flashing a smile. His eyes began to glow as he walked towards Charley. “And don’t go looking for trouble.” Ed pushed Charley back onto the bed again. He jumped up and held Charley down.
“I knew you couldn’t resist another little mystery. You always want to be the hero, don’t you?” He whispered, his face inches away from Charley's.
The rosary had ripped off Charley’s neck and was laying in his hand. He pushed Ed’s arm off and held the crucifix between them. Ed jumped back, hissing.
“Oh, fuck you.” He laughed. “Can’t we have a clean game?”
Charley stood, holding the stake tightly in his other hand and backing Ed into the corner of the room.
“Ed, just stop this shit, okay. Just get the fuck out of town. They’re going to find you, eventually if you keep hiding out like this. If you keep...Killing people…”
“Yeah, you think so? How many people believed you last time, Charley? Hmm? I didn’t even believe you!”
“Someone’s going to figure it out. It’s too suspicious. Someone is going to do the right thing.”
“Is it gonna be you?” Ed said, mockingly, as he backed into the bookshelf.
Charley swallowed hard. “If it has to be…” Charley said, trying to fight the tears that were forming in his eyes.
Ed reached back, picked up a book, and flung it at Charley’s hand. The rosary went flying, and they both fell to the ground with a clatter.
Ed smiled, then walked towards Charley, fangs bared.
Charley raised the stake high above his head. “Evil Ed, you stay the fuck back!” his voice broke and the tears came faster. “Please don't make me do this!”
Ed reared back and punched the wall “How many times have I told you not to call me Evil!”
He lunged forward and Charley blocked him, holding his arm horizontally against Ed’s shoulders and pushing him back into the wall. “I told you every damn day! I hate that nickname! And look what you fucking did to me. What everyone did!” He snarled and tried to lean closer. “Do you expect anything less from Evil Ed?”
“You don’t have to do this!”
“Aww, widdle Chawee… You’ve been crying a lot again, haven’t you?” Ed said. “Just like you did back in grade school.”
“Shut up, Ed.” Charley said, through clenched teeth, his lip trembling.
“Everybody used to pick on you. But then, one day, you grew out of it, didn’t you? Your mom kicked your shithead dad out, and you grew into a well-adjusted young man. People left you alone.”
Ed groped at Charley’s arm, digging his fingernails in. Charley yelped and fell back, dropping Ed. “Shit.” He whispered, as he fell to the floor, holding his arm. Ed leaned down, getting in Charley’s face.
“Well, imagine this: your shithead dad never goes away. In fact, your mom leaves you alone with him too often, for long stretches of time, and life keeps getting worse. You never grow out of the nicknames you got as a kid. You never become well adjusted. People don’t leave you alone. Imagine that , Charley.”
“Then imagine your only friend gets a girlfriend and now you have nowhere to go anymore. Bullies at school, bullies at home, what’s a boy to do, Charley? Because life isn’t an After School Special, it’s a fucking nightmare, Charley, and you’re in it.”
“Ed, I’m sorry…”
Ed kicked Charley’s legs out of the way and grabbed the stake from him. “Quit your crying, Charley. I’m bored with it.” Ed chucked the stake out the broken window and sat down on the bed.
“What the fuck do you want from me, Ed?” Charley said, quietly, trying to still his sobbing.
“I haven’t decided yet.”
“Are you gonna…” He paused and breathed in deeply. “Are you gonna kill me, Ed?”
Ed stared at him for a long moment. “You’re too pathetic right now. Wouldn’t be much sport in it. I thought you’d put up a better fight, Brewster.”
“So, what now, then? I’m defenseless and you’re not going to do anything about it?”
“Has it occurred to you that maybe I’m bored, Charley? I mean I don’t even get electricity here anymore, much less cable.”
“So, what, you just want a play thing?”
Ed smirked. “You make it sound dirty, Brewster.”
Charley looked up and noticed that the clouds were parting. Moonlight was starting to stream in through the shards of broken glass in the window pane. Charley could see a very faint glint of Ed’s cross scar. Ed almost looked normal, sitting there, calmed down. Charley’s heart ached. His best friend...He’d thought he’d lost him and, well, he supposed he had. But he wasn’t gone. He was right there, but it wasn’t right. Charley closed his eyes and breathed in deeply.
“I...I’ve missed you. I thought you were dead and I- Well I still…” Charley found himself crying again and heat was rushing to his face. He was always embarrassed crying in front of anyone, but now that Ed had pointed it out, it was mortifying. “It’s all my fault.” he said, putting his head in his hands. “I shouldn’t have dragged you into it and now everything is just…. fucked.”
“Why aren’t you running away, Charley?”
Charley looked up. “What?”
“Why aren’t you running away? You don’t have any weapons and I already told you I’m not going to do anything. So why aren’t you leaving?”
Charley looked down at his hands and earnestly searched himself for an answer. He hadn’t even thought of it. Why hadn’t he thought of it?
“I...miss you, Ed.”
Ed leaned back and regarded Charley, sitting there, quivering in the dark. It’d be easy enough to just feed on him. To just turn him, right then and there. To do anything. Something. Ed normally would have preferred a situation like this. Someone who was too tired to fight. Someone who had given up. But seeing Charley sitting there, sniffing… All he could think of was the day they met.
“Charley, do you remember that playground where we met?”
“Yeah? Ed, what the he-”
“Just show up around midnight tomorrow. It’s getting a little late to talk now. Or, early, I guess.” Ed said, eying the window.
“Ed, why should I show up? How do I know-”
Ed stood up and walked toward Charley. He grabbed Charley’s collar and pulled him up close.
“Because if I’m not doing anything right now, in private, what makes you think I’d prefer to in public?” Ed smiled at him. "And, you miss me."
Ed dropped him and walked towards the door. “Anyway, no one’s making you. But now you know where I’ll be.” He walked out, and down the stairs.
Charley stood up slowly, then walked over to pick up his flashlight. He searched around on the ground until he found his rosary.
“Why am I even…” He sighed. He looked out the window and noticed the sky was beginning to get light. His mother would be home soon. He ran back home and rinsed the blood off his arm. He looked at himself in the mirror for a long moment. “You’re a fucking idiot.” he muttered. Because even after looking at the gashes in his arm, he was still thinking of going to that playground...
Charley woke up to the sound of his own voice, grunting angrily. The sun was streaming in through the window too bright to allow for any more sleep. He squinted at his alarm clock. 1:03 pm. “Shit.” he muttered, rolling out of bed.
He shuffled down the stairs, annoyed at himself for sleeping into the afternoon, and annoyed at the sun for being so damn bright. His mother was in the kitchen, drinking coffee at the table. Charley raised his arm to hide his eyes from the light shining through the kitchen window.
“Charley!” His mother exclaimed, nearly dropping her mug. “What happened to your arm?”
“Wha-oh, I um…” Charley lowered his arm to examine it. It looked worse than he remembered. The gashes stood out, bright and red against his pale skin. The skin around them was pink and raised. “I-I-” he sputtered, trying to form an explanation.
“Charley,” his mother said in a hushed tone, standing. “Did you do this to yourself?”
“What? Mom, no-”
She grabbed his arm gently and turned it so she could get a better look at it. “Oh, Charley, sweetie.” She said, running her hand gently over the cuts. Charlie gasped and drew his arm away.
“Oh, honey… I’m not mad, sweetie,” she said, fighting back tears. “I know you have a lot going on, but, please, honey-”
“Mom, I didn’t do this to myself.” Charley said, an edge of pleading in his voice. He couldn’t come up with a suitable story, but he really didn’t want to worry his mother.
“Then what happened?”
“I don’t...I don’t know.”
Judy hugged Charley tightly. “Please be safe, sweetie.”
Charley didn’t know what to do, so he just hugged her back. “I’ll try, Mom.”
“I love you so much, Charley.” She said, followed by a small sob. Charley could feel the hot pinpoints of her tears on his tee shirt.
“I love you too, Mom.”
Judy let go and wiped at her face. “Come on, let’s get you some food. Do you want breakfast or lunch?”
“Go on and sit down, Charley, I want to cook something for you.”
Charley pulled out a chair and sat down slowly. The last time he’d seen his mom like this, his father was still living with them. She always cooked when she was upset. Charley felt his stomach drop. He never wanted to be the reason she was upset. He always promised himself he’d never be the one to make his mother anxious like this…
“How about a grilled cheese?”
“Yeah, that sounds great, Mom.” Charley said, burying his head in his hands. He rubbed his face and then sat his elbows up on the table. “Do you want me to help or anything?”
“No, it’s alright. You just sit there and it’ll be done in a minute.”
“Yes, Charley?” she said, turning from the stove to look at him.
“I don’t want you to worry about me, Mom.”
“I can’t help it, Charley, I’m your mother.”
She turned back to the stove and he sat there, chewing on his lip. The guilt in his chest was growing at an exponential rate, but there was nothing he could do. No way to explain or say anything to make her feel better. No way to make things normal. Except to pretend…
“How was work last night, Mom?”
Charley looked down at his watch. It was nearly midnight. He mentally cursed at himself with every step he took. The street lamps seemed too few and far between. He should have brought a flashlight. He ran the beads of his rosary through his hand over and over, nervously, as he walked. Worry pulled at every edge of his mind, the thought, This is a trap. This is a trap. This is a trap. playing in his head in time with his breathing.
When he finally got to the park, it was a few minutes past midnight. The streetlamp gave enough light that he could see someone on the swing set.
“Ed?” Charley called as he walked forward.
“Hey! And here I was just thinking to myself that you’d be too chicken shit to show up.”
“Oh, fuck you.”
“Woah, I sense some tension, Brewster!”
Charley looked around, squinting at the trees and bushes surrounding the park. “Is this some kind of trick, Evil?”
“No tricks!” Ed said, putting up his hands and feigning offence. He nearly tipped back off of his swing and laughed as he grabbed the chain and pulled himself back up. “Cross my heart and hope to die, Charley.”
Charley took one last look around, then sat in the swing next to him. “Stick a needle in your eye?”
“If that’s what it takes.” Ed said, getting up to stand on the seat of the swing. Charley always hated it when he used to do that. He was always too worried Ed would fall.
“Why’d you ask me to meet you here, Ed?”
Ed swung back and forth, humming tunelessly.
“Do you remember the day we met, Charley?” Ed asked, hopping off the swing.
Charley nearly jumped up to make sure Ed was okay, but he was already back in his swing, sitting and looking at Charley intently by the time it had registered.
“You were over there.” Ed said, pointing to the merry-go-round. “You fell off and scraped your knee, and you were crying, do you remember that?”
“Yeah.” Charley said, uncomfortably, gently pushing himself in his swing.
“I was over here. Your dad was over there.” Ed said, pointing at a bench on the far side of the park.
“Yeah, and ?” Charley said, irritable at the mention of his father.
“He didn’t notice, but some of the older kids did, and they came over and made fun of you. Do you remember what I did?”
“You bit Gary Schmidt on the ankle…” Charley said, chuckling a little bit.
“Yeah. I’d do it again.” Ed said, smiling. “Though, I’m afraid it’d be taken a bit more seriously this go-round.”
“Ed, don’t joke about that.”
“Do you know what happened the next day, Charley?”
Charley shrugged. “I dunno… I probably went to sunday school or something…”
“You did. But I came back to the park. And Gary Schmidt beat the shit out of me.”
“Oh yeah, I remember that…”
“Yeah because… my mom brought me to the park after church that day and I got here right when…”
“Right when he punched this tooth out.” Ed said, pulling his upper lip back to show the blank space. “And you brought your mom over and scared Gary away.”
“And that’s when I knew we were going to be friends. Because we could look after each other. And we did...for a few years. Until high school.” Ed said, pushing off and swinging back. “That’s when you stopped helping me out.”
“I did?” Charley asked, watching Ed swing carelessly.
“You had a new reputation to keep up.” Ed said,digging his heels into the dirt to stop his swing. “I mean, it’s not like you were terribly popular, but flying under the radar has advantages. But, you know that.”
“Ed, I didn’t even...I didn’t even know people were still picking on you.”
Charley looked down at his feet. A wave of cold rushed through him. “Oh.”
“Ah, light bulb moment! There it is!”
“Ed, I’m sorry. Gosh it’s...Exactly what Amy was telling me. I’m always too caught up in my own shit.”
“Amy is very astute.” Ed said, attempting a Freud impression. “How are things in paradise?”
Charley sighed. “You’re gonna have to ask someone else.”
Ed laughed. “Did she finally dump your sorry ass once and for all?”
“I...guess so. I can’t say I blame her, at this point.”
“No offence, but I’m surprised it took this long. She was always on your case...I mean you guys almost broke up every other week!” Ed laughed.
“Yeah, it was kind of a mess…” Charley said with a small chuckle.
When he looked up, Ed was staring at him, smiling. There was some kind of intent in his look. Charley nearly grabbed for his rosary, but then Ed spoke.
“Get on the merry-go-round, Brewster. I’ll push you.”
“Ed...I think I’m gonna throw up.” Charley called.
Ed grabbed the bars and stopped the merry-go-round violently, sending Charley smashing into the bar he was holding on to for dear life.
“Did I get carried away?”
Charley slid off the merry-go-round and sat on the ground. “I don’t know why I expected different.”
“I have made you hurl before… But the look on your face right before is priceless.”
Charley looked up at Ed and flipped him off. Ed clapped and laughed. “That’s it! That’s the look!”
“Fuck you, man.” Charley said, chuckling. Ed jumped up and sat on top of the merry-go-round.
“Put your head down and breathe, Brewster, I don’t want to see you blow chunks.”
“I’m trying, man!” Charley said, putting his head between his knees and breathing deeply. He stayed like that, trying to regain his composition for a few seconds, but he could practically feel Ed’s eyes on him.
When Charley looked up, Ed was standing over him with his arm outstretched.
“Need a hand getting up?”
Charley grabbed his hand and got off the ground very unsteadily.
“Jesus.” Charley said, closing his eyes. “Everything is still spinning.”
Ed laughed derisively.
“Nah, it’s nothing.” Ed said. Charley opened his eyes and tried to take a step, but fell, collapsing against Ed’s shoulder.
“Not a problem.” Ed said, quietly.
Charley screwed his eyes shut again and tried to catch his breath. “Ed?”
“What are you gonna do if someone sees you? Everyone is out there looking for you.”
“Nah, they’re not.”
Charley lifted himself up, steadying himself with his hands on Ed’s shoulders.
“What do you mean? Your face is everywhere, Ed.”
“I mean...the cops assume I’m already dead and my mom had the common decency to be upset for all of three days.” He said, looking away.
“What about everybody else, Ed? What happens if someone sees you?” Charley grabbed Ed’s face and turned it towards him. “Ed-”
Ed was crying. Charley hadn’t seen him cry in years. It felt more unnatural and unnerving than seeing him with fangs.
“Doesn’t fucking matter, Charley. I’d deal with it.”
“You need to get out of town, Ed.”
“Ah, and go where, Charley?”
“I don’t know, Ed! God, I just-”
“Can’t leave town yet, anyway.”
Ed shrugged. “Got stuff to do.” He ducked out from Charley’s grasp and walked back towards the swings.
“What does that mean?” Charley called, stumbling after him.
“Charley, do you wonder why Amy isn’t a vampire, but I am? Because I sure as hell do...I mean, what are the rules on this, exactly?”
“Ed…” Charley panted, leaning against the side of the swing set. “Don’t change the subject.”
Ed sighed dramatically and sat down on the swing again.
“I asked you to come out here for a reason, Charley, and now I’m just not sure about it.”
Fear pricked at the back of Charley’s neck. “Why…”
“Oh, don’t look at me like that, it’s nothing evil.”
Ed stood and faced Charley. He let out a long groan and looked down.
“Did you mean it when you said you missed me?”
“Uh...yeah, Ed. I did.”
“Yeah, I missed you too.”
“Is that all you wanted to say?”
Ed swallowed hard and gritted his teeth. “No.” He squeaked through a clamped jaw.
Ed seemed more vulnerable than Charley was used to. There was still a streak of a tear lingering on his face, and he seemed to really want to talk. Charley tilted his head.
“Ed.” Charley said, putting his hand on Ed’s shoulder to stop him from fidgeting around. Ed went completely still and looked up at Charley. Charley couldn’t place his expression. He looked a bit afraid, but there was something more to it. Something Charley couldn’t name. Charley was suddenly very aware of his hand on Ed’s shoulder, but didn’t know what to do.
“Charley, this is going to sound so dumb.”
Charley’s heart was starting to race, he felt a little bit of panic forming but tried to push it down. Tried to steady his breathing.
“What is it, Ed?”
“I’m just surprised you never saw it, Charley.”
Charley pulled Ed in closer. Ed nearly gasped, but caught himself. Charley was practically looming over him, inches from his face and forever frustratingly ignorant of the situation. Of what he was doing.
“God damnit, Charley.”
As Charley looked down at him, pieces started to click into place. Little moments lined up. Things made sense. Some things. The urge to bring Ed closer, the urge to put his hands on Ed’s face, all these new things...Well, he’d have to make sense of them later.
“Just say it, Ed.” Charley said, closing his eyes and leaning his forehead down onto Ed’s.
Ed squirmed. “I guess you figured it out.”
“I want to hear it. Be honest. Be sincere. Give me 10 seconds of sincerity, Ed.”
“I...have feelings for you. And I have for a long time. And it sucks and it eats me up inside.” Ed blurted. “There, was that 10 seconds? Felt longer.”
“It wasn’t even.” Charley said, leaning back and smiling. “I appreciate the effort, though.”
Ed was fidgeting again, playing with the sleeves of his jacket and trying not to look at Charley.
“We’re being honest.” Ed said. “What do you feel?”
“I feel... something for you, Ed.” Charley said, feeling like his heart was in his throat.
Ed rolled his eyes and groaned. “Yeah, but what kind of ‘something’?”
“Something like what you’re talking about, I guess. Unless..." Charley drew back a bit, panic in his eyes. "Are you... hypnotizing me or whatever...whatever it is you vampires do?”
“No. I can't. Guess you have to practice that?” Ed said with a laugh. “I have...Tried to, though. Last night I just thought… I thought what would be better revenge… To finally have you want me . To finally see that look in your eyes and then… Well I wasn't sure… I wasn't sure what would hurt you worse. To feed, or to turn you and have you live out an eternity in agony, hating yourself and wanting me. To finally know what it feels like. That’s some shitty stuff to say, but since we’re being honest, you know?”
“I'm so sorry, Ed. I'm so sorry about all of it. I should have gone back. I should have done more… I should have paid more attention when we were younger, too. Listened. I can't believe what a selfish prick I was.”
“Saying it like you aren't now!” Ed laughed. Charley cracked a smile.
“Do you really...are you really...Charley… Charley.” Ed moved in closer. “Charley did you really...feel something?”
Charley swallowed, his breath becoming shallow. “Y-yeah.”
“Do you still?”
Ed grinned at him “Yeah, Brewster? And what are you gonna do about it? Hmm?”
Charley looked scared as he leaned in, vague worry pulling in the back of his mind that this was all a trick, that it was going to go as terribly wrong as everything else… But…
He did it. He kissed him. Years of tensions melted out of Ed’s soul. He never thought this would really happen, that it would be this good. He grabbed Charley and held him closer. Charley pulled back for a second, breathing heavily and looking Ed in the eyes. Checking them for any hint of deviousness or trickery. Ed opened his eyes, confused. “Charley?”
“Is this a mistake?” Charley whispered.
Ed laughed. “For you? Oh, definitely.”
“Charley- Charley, I’ve got to go.” Ed said quietly, putting his hand on Charley’s face.
Charley closed his eyes, focusing on the sensation of Ed’s hand. Cold and gentle and grounding. He didn’t want the feeling to ever stop, but no sooner had he thought that than Ed had removed his hand. Charley opened his eyes and grabbed Ed’s hand, taking it into both of his.
“I don’t-” Charley said, staring intently down. The words fought with his throat to stay, stay inside, but with great willpower he managed to force them out. “I don’t want you to go.” He whispered.
Ed sighed. “I don’t want to go either…” He looked at Charley’s hands clasped around his and he didn’t want to go because he didn’t want the spell to break. He didn’t want to leave Charley to his thoughts and let him panic, let him convince himself never to talk to him again.
He didn’t want to leave because he’d wanted this for years. He just wanted to hold Charley or be held or something. To kiss him and talk to him and feel that everything was right for once, that everything could go his way for just a moment.
Only he’d just had all of that, and now it was over. The sun was about to come up. Time to wake up from the dream. Time to shatter the illusion. Time for- fuck- for reality to kick his ass and remind him where he really stood. Put him back in his rightful place in the universe. In the gutters, in the shadows, in the margins, whatever you wanted to call it. Anywhere cold and forgotten.
But at least he had something to take with him, now. This memory. This bright spot, this flood of warmth, this... this. Charley’s hands around his. Charley’s lips on his. Charley’s arms around him. He had this one night and maybe… Maybe there would be more. Maybe he’d paid his dues. Maybe he could get one little thing in return.
“I… be safe, Ed.” Charley said, kissing Ed on the forehead. Ed shuddered, upset at the thought of going back to that house all alone, upset at the thought of another dreamless, empty sleep, dragging him away from better things. He threw his arms around Charley and hugged him tight, burying his face into his chest and just breathing in deeply. Just holding onto him to memorize the moment.
“I’m sorry, Charley.” he said into his chest. He pulled back a bit, to look at him, and kissed him hard. “I really can’t stay for another moment.” He breathed over Charley’s lips. Charley nodded, sadly, and Ed was on his way, disappearing into the trees.
Charley stood, staring at the ground, only vaguely aware of the movement around him, the wind gently turning the merry-go-round and rattling the chains of the swings. The sun was rising, casting lavender light around him. He breathed out deeply, closed his eyes, and raised his hand to his lips. He drew it back and stared at it, like he expected to see something there. Some kind of physical remnant of Ed’s kisses. His lungs pushed angrily at his chest with every slow, thoughtful breath he took. It didn’t feel real. Something in the back of his mind was screaming, was pounding it’s fists at him, but he couldn’t hear it above the white noise that had washed over most of his consciousness. Still processing, turning the events over in his mind, like he had only just realized any of it had happened. That it wasn’t a weird dream.
He shivered as another gust of wind blew through the park. He closed his eyes and sighed, then started to walk home.
The morning was eerily quiet. No one was on the street yet, leaving Charley there to listen to the crunch of his sneakers hitting the grit on the sidewalk. Charley, what did you just do? What just happened? He groaned quietly at himself. I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know! A sense of extreme unease rose in his stomach. He shoved his cold hands into his pockets, and his fingers brushed his rosary. Shit, shit, what have I done? He couldn’t believe he’d even left the house last night. He couldn’t believe he’d done something so stupid as going alone to meet a vampire in the middle of the night. But he knew that couldn’t be all that was bothering him. Ed, what the fuck did you do? Charley sped into a sprint as he neared his house, rushing to get past Jerry’s house without looking at it.
He slammed the door and leaned against it for a moment, trying to catch his breath. He realized he was clutching the rosary to his chest. He ran up the stairs and threw himself onto his bed, still shivering. He noticed that his curtains were open, the rising sun silhouetting Jerry’s house with beams of light that had managed to cut through the forest. He jumped up and shut the curtains violently. When he got back in bed, he pulled the blankets over his head and kicked his shoes off over the side. All he had to do was ignore the memory of the warm feeling that rushed through him when Ed kissed him. Ignore the thought of Ed’s hand on his face. Ignore, ignore, ignore. Something was wrong, and what he needed now was sleep. Just to sleep and he could figure it out later.