“Charley, is this what you want?” Ed whispered. He could hear the eagerness in Charley’s heart, he could feel the desire radiating from him, and no matter what he said, no matter what he really decided, Ed would be able to hold onto that victory in his mind.
“Yes.” Charley said, finally.
“It's going to hurt.” Ed said, concern in the edge of his voice.
“I know.” Charley rasped, his throat dry.
“I've been reading and I… I think I know some ways to make it better but,” Ed buzzed nervously inside, worried about Charley. Worried about getting what he wanted. Worried, knowing what Charley was going to go through. “Well, I'm not sure how much better. If it even works, I mean.”
“I've made up my mind, Ed.” Charley said, gently grabbing at Ed’s waist and pulling him forward. He leaned down into a gentle kiss, which Ed met with energy and want. He would miss all this warmth, miss hearing Charley’s heart beat spike when they touched, miss the way he could smell and sense things from Charley’s hormones, Charley’s blood. He knew there would be new connections to be made, new sensations and new ways of knowing, but he also knew he was giving up something beautiful. Or, Charley was. Ed was the one taking it.
“Are you ready?” Ed asked, finally pulling away. Charley’s heart was racing and his breath was ragged. Charley nodded slowly, and unbottoned his collar, exposing his neck to Ed.
Ed ran his hand down Charley’s face and kissed his neck, then, fangs bared, he pierced into the skin as fast as he could. Charley’s neck yielded like overripe fruit, blood eagerly rushing to the surface to meet Ed’s tongue. All of Charley’s energy and excitement and lust and fear made his quick pulse push blood to his wound faster than Ed was prepared for. Charley let out a few pained moans and squirmed a bit against the wall. Just a little longer, Charley. Ed thought, still a bit greedy. Just a bit more. He knew now why Jerry used to feed so regularly. Blood was more than just nourishment, it brought warmth and strength. It pulsed through Ed like electricity, bringing him to life, bringing sharpness back to his senses. It was fuel and euphoria. Charley whimpered, and tried to bring his hand up to Ed’s, but found he didn’t have the strength. His legs were giving way beneath him. Ed followed him, remaining clamped to his neck as he slid to the floor. Ed noticed that Charley’s blood was no longer pouring willingly, that it was slowly eeking out, that Charley’s body was trying to hold on to what it had left.
“Charley?” Ed asked, finally pulling away. Charley’s head lolled. Pain coursed through his body, and he couldn’t even scream. It was the worst thing he’d ever felt, multiplied more times than he could measure. Ed’s face swam in his blurry vision, mouth red and dripping. The last vestiges of Charley’s life, slipping away.
“I know it hurts.” Ed said, turning Charley’s face gently. “It’s this...kind of poison, floating through your body. Re-writing your DNA. Moving in where your blood used to be.” Ed said, trying his best to summarize what he’d been reading. Charley blinked at him. He couldn’t do anything else. He could feel it burning through his veins like it was ripping his every atom apart. Breaking him and pulling him back together. Not letting him go, keeping him just alive enough to feel it all.
“I'm going to make it better, okay?” Ed whispered, brushing Charley’s hair out of his face. He pulled Charley up and heaved him over his shoulder, irritably glad to have a reason to use his restored strength. He carried Charley up the stairs and into one of the bedrooms. He put him down on the bed just as he started to convulse. He was moaning a bit again, his agony clear. Ed hated the sound, but the fact that he was making noise was a good sign.
Ed pressed his fangs into the palm of his own hand and ripped his skin open, messily. He pressed his bleeding hand onto the puncture wounds on Charley’s neck. Charley winced, initially, then leaned into Ed’s hand and sighed. Ed applied more pressure.
“Is it working? Is that better?”
A pleasant, numbing cold spread from Charley’s neck. It didn't take the pain away completely, but any reprieve was more than welcome. Charley blinked his eyes rapidly, panic on his face. “Ed? Ed, I can't see anything!”
“Charley, I'm right here, it's okay.” Ed said, climbing on the bed next to Charley. “Your eyes are changing. You'll be okay in a little while.”
Charley groped out for him, and Ed pulled his head up into his lap. He stroked Charley’s hair gently, a wave of guilt washing over him as he watched the pain he remembered all too well contort Charley’s face and body.
“It’s gonna be better soon.” Ed said, rubbing Charley’s cheek gently with the back of his hand. Ed felt a few tears fall from his eyes and scoffed at himself.
“Ed, Ed, help me.” Charley murmured, grabbing Ed’s arms. “I want to sit up, Ed.”
Ed pulled Charley into a sitting position and Charley grabbed onto him, pulling him into a hug and pressing his face into Ed’s shoulder. He held onto Ed tightly, burying his fists into Ed’s shirt. Ed held him gently, Charley’s body shaking against him, and Ed could start to feel the energy change, could start to feel the new connections he and Charley would form.
“This pain is almost over.” Ed whispered, kissing Charley’s head. Charley nodded, a small sob choking in his throat.
“I can see again, Ed.” Charley said, barely audible. He pulled away and looked at Ed with his new eyes. Ed smiled at him.
“How do I look?” Ed asked.
“Same smug bastard as usual.” Charley said, coughing. “God, my throat is dry…”
“Here.” Ed said, holding his still bleeding palm out to him. A moment of panic flashed through Charley’s eyes, before his expression softened, overcome with want.
“I know you still hurt a little, Charles. This will make it better, trust me.”
Charley pushed the last of his reservations away and gently pressed his lips to Ed’s hand.
“I know it’s starting to heal up. You can try out your fangs, if you want.”
Charley took this suggestion with excitement and vigor, sinking his teeth into the soft skin of Ed’s palm. Every sensation involved was divine. The pressure of the skin bending before it broke, the warm rush of blood...or ‘poison’ Ed had called it, hadn’t he? Vampire blood was different. Well, Charley didn’t know the difference yet, and this suited him just fine. It drained the last of the pain from his body, and gave him a sense of warmth and pleasant light-headedness.
“Sun’s almost up, Charley.” Ed said, drawing his hand back, and wiping a drop of blood off of Charley’s lip with his thumb.
“Do we… Do we have to sleep in coffins?” Charley asked, squirming.
“They’re safer, but…” Ed glanced up. “I did patch up the windows, they’re all blacked out again. We’d be okay in here.”
Drowsiness was starting to overtake Charley. He yawned and leaned his head onto Ed’s shoulder.
“Yeah, I think I’d like that better.” He said, his eyes closing.
“Alright, kid.” Ed said, helping the half-asleep Charley out of his blazer and shoes.
Ed slipped into bed next to him and pulled the covers up over Charley. “Sleep tight. You’ve got a lot to learn tomorrow.”
Charley nodded, not really registering Ed’s words, and pulled Ed towards him.
“Fruitcake.” Ed whispered, cuddling up next to Charley with a smile on his face.