(We really must get you some clothes other than your t-shirt and jeans,) Angelo decided as I got dressed. Of course, Angelo was already dressed.
I snorted. (Look who's talking! Mr. Tank top and tight black jeans.)
He shrugged. (I have other clothes, dunderhead. I just choose to wear what is the easiest to get in and out of.)
Natch, that'd be his main concern. But this taking charge of me was getting old. It was one thing for him to be my teacher. It was another thing for him mold me into something he thought I should be. I threw him a dirty look. (What the fuck is wrong with the way I dress, Angel Boy?)
Angelo let out an exasperated sigh. (I didn't say anything was wrong, with the way you dressed, lover.) Then he grinned wickedly. (Although I definitely prefer you undressed.)
Nice try. Charming me wasn't gonna work this time. (I'm serious. You may have Sired me, Angelo, but I'm not your child.)
(Never said you were,) Angelo replied in that slightly patronizing tone that meant he was humoring me. After a week together, I was already reading him. Then he changed the subject. (Oh, I almost forgot.) He reached into his jeans pocket and pulled out a key? Yeah. A key. He handed it to me. (For you.)
(What's this for?)
Angelo smiled. (For your room, of course,) he said, as if it was perfectly obvious.
And it was. (MY room? I thought this was OUR room.)
Angelo's eyes narrowed. (Whatever gave you that idea? You were crashing here until they got your room ready. Well now it's ready. You can move in tonight.)
You were crashing here until they got your room ready. So this wasn't our room. Angelo was just biding his time until my room was habitable. I regretted my next words the second they left my mouth. (Now you can bring whoever you want to fuck in here later without me interfering.)
(Look Weasel,) Angelo said, all patience gone, (I don't know what bug crawled up your ass but you don't want this fight you're trying to start.) An unsubtle a warning as any.
I was too hurt to care. (You could have fucking told me instead of just offhandedly breaking the news that you only want me to share your bed. Not your room.)
To my shock, Angelo gave me the finger. (Gamisou, Weasel!) He opened the door and unceremoniously pushed me through it. "It's a good thing you have somewhere else to sleep tonight. You're gonna fucking need it," he hissed with fury before slamming the door in my face.
Wonderful. Fucking wonderful. I'd just had a huge fight with the only friend I had here. Well, there was always Amorette but I had the feeling she was on my side only because of Angelo and now that Angelo was pissed at me, she wasn't gonna think too highly of me.
Fuck that, I was pissed! Angelo just dropped this bombshell on me and I was supposed to just sit back and accept it? Just so he could carry on with business as usual? I was beginning to realize that having Angelo as a lover meant it was his way or the highway and I was fucking tired of it. I was fucking tired of this choice I made.
And I was fucking tired of this already familiar pang in my veins that meant the Tiger was beginning to wake up.
I stomped down the hall, suddenly very aware of the fact that it was the first time since I'd learned how to phase in and out that I was actually bothering to use the door instead of the floors and ceiling to get to the main floor of the Nocturne. Cripes, I was already getting used to being a Nightchild and I'd been this way for only a week. I had to stop this. Now. Before I forgot what it was like to be .
I immediately stopped the thought when I realized that I meant to use the word "human" at the end of the sentence but since I'd never been human, it was a moot point. Okay, before I forgot what it was like to be ignorant of the fact that I wasn't human?
I walked down the stairs, through the secret entrance and quickly made my way to the entrance, wanting to avoid running into any Nightchild. Not even Amorette. Then I walked outside, took a deliberate breath and let the night air fill my lungs as I began to amble down the street.
It was a cold night, though the only thing that chilled me was the ice in my veins. The winter sky was clear and starry and the wind was whipping by fast, stirring up dust and whatever litter had fallen during the day. Kind of like a little mini-tornado. I hadn't done much exploring around the Old Quarter because up until this moment, I had no reason to. Now I began to check out the strip and the clubs Angelo and I had passed by after taking the shortcut underneath Golden Slumbers.
I stopped right outside one that had a big pink neon sign flashing, "Desire." A sex club, most likely. Might be just the thing to ease this pain. Just as I was about to walk inside and pray that they served non-Supes, I heard a voice say, "You don't want to go in there."
I whirled around and saw a boy, no, more like a young man, smiling at me. Cute young man with his bluish black hair and soft brown eyes and I found my eyes almost automatically moving up and down his brawny frame. Unlike most guys who had the attitude to go with the body, his expression was warm. "It's not the place for someone like you," he told me.
That was a new pickup line. "But it's the place for someone like you?" I asked.
He laughed. "Not really. I got talked into going there by some buddies of mine but group groping is not exactly my cup of tea."
I was tempted to ask him if he'd ever been to the Nocturne, then I remembered, I wanted nothing more to do with that place. Instead I found myself flirting with him. "What is your cup of tea, then?"
"We can start with that," he replied. "Or
do you prefer something harder?"
I laughed. "You sure get to the point pretty quickly, don't you?"
"Getting to the point pretty quickly would mean I say that I think you're the most exquisite boy I've ever seen and I wish you were older."
In-teresting. A guy who actually had a sense of honor. A gentleman. I wasn't sure if I liked it or not. "It's not like I've never had sex before," I told him.
He had a gentle smile. "Now who's getting to the point pretty quickly?" Then he extended his hand. "Ivan."
I didn't want to give him the name everyone knew but I also didn't want to give him my TrueName - the name I'd been born with. I decided to compromise and use the other name I remembered I was known as. I shook his hand. "Call me Jamie."
Ivan's hand squeezed mine, lingering just a little too long. "Glad to know you, Jamie," he said before lacing his fingers through mine. "There's a place called Calico's that has excellent tea. And other drinks if you'd like that better."
I almost smiled at his ironic choice of words. "Tea would be fine." Then I remembered that most places, even in the Old Quarter have a "No Saps or Mutants" policy and I frowned. "Uh, I think I need to tell you something."
Ivan gave me a mock-serious look. "You're really an undercover drone for WASP."
"Not quite," I laughed.
He pulled his hand away and made a face. "You're straight."
"Nope, not that either."
"Good." Ivan threw his arm around my shoulder and pulled me close. "Though the wishing you were older part is quickly losing to the temptation to forget that you're not."
This was a really nice guy. Or he seemed to be. I hadn't met enough. "I'm not a Supe, Ivan," I admitted. Let him make the jump from "not Supe" to Sap or Mutant. Or anything else for that matter but there was no way he'd even know that.
Ivan removed his arm and turned my body to face him. Then he held my jaw and turned it upwards to meet his gaze. "I know."
Of course he'd know. As soon as his chip didn't receive the feedback or signal, he'd know I didn't have one. In one fucking week, I'd forgotten something I'd learned the day Flin rented me out to his first client. "You don't care?" The concept was unthinkable.
"All I care about is that the last meal you've had was probably at whatever Workcamp or Keeper you ran from." Ivan smiled thinly. "Don't even try to lie that you're not hungry. I can see it in your eyes."
I'd been neglecting my needs since I'd been awake and now the Tiger was reminding me. Intense hunger gnawed through every nerve in my body; but the thought of any food turned my stomach. At least, any food that would be on Calico's menu. "It's okay," I reassured him. "Don't worry about it."
Ivan stroked my cheek. "No, don't you worry about it. It'll be my treat. No strings."
Shit, he was too good to be true. "And what do you get out of it?"
"Not sex, if you don't want that."
I laughed at his earnestness. "I thought you were the one who didn't want that."
"Oh, I want that." Ivan's finger traced my bottom lip. "Very much. But I'd like to know you a little first and the best way to do that would over a meal at Calico's. Very down to earth place, not too snooty and great for talking. How about it, Jamie?"
How could I say no?
Calico's did serve Mutants and was as down to earth as Ivan promised. A hostess sat us right down and she must have known Ivan because I could see her wink at him.
A few moments later, a waiter came over to us. "What can I get you?" he asked me.
Before I could say "nothing," Ivan ordered for me. "We'll have two cups of tea and a basket of scones to start with."
Hmmm . someone else taking charge of me. If he wasn't being so nice about it, I'd have been really pissed off. Instead, as soon as the waiter brought the basket of these biscuit looking things that had to be the scones and some kind of creamy looking stuff on a little dish, I asked him, "What do you want from me, Ivan?"
Ivan picked up a scone and began to spread some of the creamy stuff that could have been butter but it had a different color. "Your friendship. Possibly more, but at least your friendship," he decided.
After he got to "know" me. Lovely. I was gonna have to lie to him some more. Or at least, do a lot of dancing. Cripe. It wouldn't be any different than gaming a mark. And now he was looking at me expectantly, like he wanted me to eat one of those scones. Fuck me. I sighed. "Can't we just go back to your place and get to know each other that way?"
Ivan laughed a little. "No."
Of course not. "Why don't you just ask me questions and I'll answer them," I suggested, wishing I'd never agreed to this little get together.
He smiled. "Alrighty. How about we start with your age?"
Oh goody, a question I could actually answer truthfully. "15." Then I smirked. "How old are you, Ivan?"
Ivan did not like that question at all. I knew he wouldn't. "19," he answered quickly. "Well, almost 20," he amended before taking a bite of the scone. Then he took another one out of the basket, spread some of the creamy stuff on it. "Here, it's heavenly," he said as he held it out towards me.
"Er, no thanks."
"Come on," Ivan coaxed. "Don't you want to try new things?"
Maybe it was the kind look in his eyes and the fact that he meant well. Or perhaps I just wanted to test things. Angelo had said I couldn't eat but a few nights ago, I'd done just that. Well yeah, it wasn't a scone. It wasn't even pastry but maybe if I just ate a small amount, I could do it. "Oh, alright," I relented and took a big bite.
Only to grab a napkin and spit it right out. The creamy stuff was cloying and the scone tasted like garbage flavored dust. Guess the only thing I could eat was meat. But I already knew that ordering filet mignon wasn't gonna cut it. For a moment, my eyes flew to Ivan, to the rose, button neck polo shirt he wore and just above it, where I could see his throat. My brain was instantly flooded with images of my tongue running down his jaw, down to his neck .
No! That's what I was trying to get away from. I shoved those tempting images out of my head. "I'm sorry, but I don't like it," I said softly. "Thanks anyway."
Ivan sighed. "You're really not comfortable, are you Jamie."
"No," I admitted. Then I grinned suggestively. "You'll find out a lot more about me in bed than out of it, Ivan."
"I see you're giving me no choice," Ivan said with mock reluctance but I could feel he wanted me enough to play along. He summoned the waiter and asked for the check. After that, he paid it, we left Calico's and went to his place.
* * *
Ivan lived in a big brick house that had been subdivided into mini apartments. We walked into a hallway that had a bunch of mailboxes with people's names on labels on the left wall, just as you walked in. I glanced at one of the mailboxes that was probably Ivan's.
Straight ahead was a staircase. We were standing on the landing but the stairs that led up to another landing, looking out over this floor and then led back down the other side. Ivan's place was downstairs, first door on the left.
After I got my needed invite to get in, the first thing I noticed when we walked inside was that it really was more of a suite, than a mini apartment. Everything was in one room, with the couch and loveseat being on one side of the room and the bed on the other side, with a walking space in the middle with a hot plate. There was one other room that had to be the bathroom, based on the tart, artificial lemon fragrance emanating from it.
And unfortunately, that wasn't the only thing I smelled. The sweet scent of Ivan's blood assaulted my nose, making my mouth water and my guts churn. And the closer he moved towards me, the hungrier I was getting. Hunger was eating through my nerves and pounding through my veins, involuntarily making me double over before Ivan took me trembling into his arms, comforting me.
He was radiating a tantalizing mixture of guilt and desire; as wrong as he felt about it, Ivan still wanted to get into my pants. But he had to at least give the appearance of altruism. "Jamie," Ivan said as he stroked my hair affectionately, "where'd you run from?"
Shit, why couldn't he drop the "concerned parent" routine and just fuck me? Or let me fuck him, though I had a feeling that wasn't what Ivan had in mind. "Who says I ran?" I retorted, realizing that it only made me sound like the scared kid he thought I was.
He kissed my hair; his lips trailed down to my cheek. "Just a hunch," Ivan said gently.
I shrugged. "What're you planning to do, turn me in to the WASP drones or something?"
"Not at all."
"Then what's with all the questions?" Defensive. I was being too defensive.
"What do you have to hide?" he counters.
He was really beginning to piss me off. "Look, I've got better things to do than be questioned to death by you," I muttered, walking towards the door.
"Like getting your next hit, Jamie?" Ivan called after me. "Or maybe even turning your next trick to get that hit?"
That did it. I turned around to glare at him. "I'm not a fucking drug addict," I snapped. Not anymore.
"Then why are you shaking so badly?"
Because the only thing stopping me from following my instincts and killing him was the fact that even if Ivan was a bit of a pompous ass, he meant well. You mean you can't excuse his death like you excused the other assholes you killed, my conscience screamed at me.
Yeah, that too. But I couldn't very well tell Ivan that. "I'm cold." Partial truth.
"Tell me another one, Jamie," Ivan said quietly. "Yes you are cold, you're freezing. You've got absolutely no appetite for food but the need for it is fucking obvious." He was pissed, it was the first curse I heard him utter. "You're so pale you're practically gray and you're going to stand there and lie to me about not being a drug addict?" He was calm but righteous anger was vibrating throughout his whole body. "How long have you been on it, Jamie?" he demanded.
"'It?'" I asked, not completely faking my confusion. "What the fuck is 'it'?"
"Fine, play stupid," Ivan replied. "Sugar, of course!"
For a minute I thought he meant the sugar bubbling under his skin because even though he was rife with concern and pitied me, the lust was blossoming. Such sweet lust .
Then I realized he meant Sugar. As in Sugarfrost. That's why my icy skin didn't make him bat an eyelash; one of the many side-effects of Sugar is that it fucks up your blood circulation. Somehow, it also manages to kick your libido up sky high as well, though I never did understand what the point of that was if you couldn't get hard enough to do anything about it.
Of course, when Flin plied me with Sugar, he didn't give a fuck if I had a hard-on or not. All that mattered was that I keep going and the higher my sex-drive, the more men I could service.
As relieved that I was that his suspicions were of a thankfully, human sort, I could do without him judging me, though the question of why I cared hadn't even occurred to me. They wouldn't have. It was enough that he was judging me and I didn't like it one fucking bit. "Not that it's any of your business but let's say I was a Sugar addict. What the fuck does it have to do with you?"
Ivan's lips immediately quirked up into a smile that was so smug, I wanted to slap him. "Good! Now you're finally being honest."
Honest? Honest would be Ivan telling me that he was only acting like he gave a fuck about me to get me into bed. Honest would mean that the only thing stopping him from making that first move and ripping my clothes off was the fear he'd scare me off. His eyes had been moving up and down my body since we got to his place and I could see he was hard as a rock. As laughable as his "caring" act was, I still wanted to have sex with him. I drew close to him and pressed my body against his. "You want me, dont you?"
A whimper escaped Ivan's lips, shit it didn't take much. "I want you to be safe," he said, gasping as I dry-humped him. "Drug free."
"You want to fuck me," I corrected, then captured his mouth with my own before he could give me any more bullshit. As if the rules had suddenly changed, Ivan's tongue licked at my mouth and I sucked his tongue inside. I idly wondered if he noticed that my mouth was as cold as the rest of me but that thought was soon swept aside as Ivan's fingers undid my zipper and button and his hand was inside, stroking me but it wasn't enough, wasn't doing anything for me. "Harder," I demanded, "make your fist tighter."
Annoyance briefly flickered across Ivan's face; he didn't like to be led. "Take off your clothes," he finally said, ending all pretenses of being protective or concerned.
No problem there, I peeled out of my t-shirt and jeans and Ivan led me to the bed. His scalding hands slid all over my frigid skin, caresses that soothed me but weren't even coming close to getting me off. In a matter of days, I'd gotten used to rough sex, to nails dragging across my back, to teeth sinking into my flesh, to being fucked so hard and savagely I had carpet burns on my belly. Nothing else would satisfy me and I was wasting both of our time.
"This isn't gonna work, Ivan," I said as I got off the bed and grabbed my clothes.
Ivan stared at me. "What's wrong?"
I practically jumped into my jeans and pulled the t-shirt
over my head. "Nothing you can do anything about."
Ivan got off the bed and went up to me, grabbing me by my shoulders. "It's the drug talking, Jamie. You can beat this!"
It would have been so easy to pry his fingers off me, to push him away, to slam his body against the fucking wall. Easy but wrong. This concern was sincere. Fuck, it would have been easier if it wasn't. I wriggled out of his grasp instead. "For the last time, I don't do drugs."
"Sure you don't." Ivan marched over to the door and opened it. "It's your life. If you want to ruin it, who am I to stop you?"
I gave him a soft kiss on the mouth. "Goodbye, Ivan. Thanks for the tea and scones." That I never touched.
"Have a good life, Jamie," Ivan said sarcastically. "Maybe you'll be lucky and get killed since that seems to be what you want to do to yourself.
I knew he was pulling a guilt trip, to make me turn around and suddenly realize I was wanted. Fucking manipulative. "Better that than me killing you," I muttered under my breath as I walked out the door, up the stairs and out of that house without looking back.
Many hours later, I was mentally kicking myself for letting him go. And all the other potential meals I passed up. Never mind the fact that a lot of those "choices" were less than the best; I was determined to show the Tiger who was in charge and I was not about to give into it.
Only now, the Tiger was showing me in the most obvious way that it was in charge by choking me with nausea and gripping my body with intense hunger, twisting my insides into knots. I hadn't felt this shitty since the night I Changed and the only thing stopping me from crumbling to the ground and curling up into the fetal position was knowing that I'd be trampled on.
And if that wasn't bad enough, I might have let Ivan go but he hadn't done the same. Nope, he was following me and had been following me since I left his house. The stupid fucker. He was trying to be real sneaky about it; tailing me just far enough where it could be a coincidence but close enough for him to be able to track me. Son of a bitch!
Hours ago, I could have easily lost him; just found somewhere private, phased out and let the wind carry me to somewhere I could rematerialize. I could have but didn't because the price I'd have to pay afterwards would have been too high and I'd have to make up that energy loss by doing the very thing I'd been trying to avoid. Now, I didn't even have the energy to do that.
Fuck, Angelo was right. I was kidding myself by believing I could just starve myself. No fucking way. Even if I managed to go without eating by the time I fell Asleep, my body was telling me I wouldn't wake up and I just wasn't that suicidal. Or selfless.
I had no idea exactly how much time I had until the sun rose but I did know it was about four in the morning and based on the past few days, the sun would rise in about three hours or so. The streets were practically deserted, the only people here were me, Ivan incognito and this guy that was about to approach me.
A guy I'd avoid like the plague under most circumstances. But, as ugly as he was, I smelled no drugs, only a little booze and he seemed reasonably healthy. So when he came up to me and asked me, "You need a place to stay?" I realize I'd been handed a freebie.
One I wasn't gonna turn down this time. "Maybe," I demurred, giving him a lazy smile and the best bedroom eyes I had. "You offering one?"
He gave me an oily smile. "Depends on what you're offering."
"Depends on how much you'll pay," I replied, knocking the ball back in his court.
"You're fucking around with me," he growled and seized me by the collar of my t-shirt. "Let's get a sample before I agree to anything, kid."
Good, he took the bait. It took a lot of restraint to stop myself from smirking. "Not here, though." I took a quick look around and saw a dark alley that lead behind a dumpster bin. Behind that was a dead end. Perfect. I cocked my head towards the alley. "How about in there?" I suggested.
He grinned. "That'll work."
Once we got there, we went in back of the dumpster and I pressed him against the wall. "Only the first one is free," I told him.
"Yeah, yeah," he dismissed me, then thrust his crotch towards me. Guess I knew what I'd be doing first.
The thought of kneeling down on the filthy ground made me want to puke but hunger won over revulsion. I unfastened and unzipped his slacks, then yanked them down to his ankles.
Hard enough to almost trip him.
"What the fuck is wrong with you?" the man demanded, "You trying to break my legs or something?"
I was almost tempted to answer that if I'd wanted to, I'd have done a lot more than just break his legs but instead I retorted, "You want a blow job or don't you?"
His answer was to smack me across the face. "I want you to shut up and give me one!"
"Anything you say," I replied, making my voice tremble just a little. I picked the most least disgusting spot and slid down to my knees while pondering whether I actually wanted to bother blowing this asshole first. Then I realized, I didn't have to. All I had to do was make him feel good and I could do that without even touching his cock.
I leaned forward and let my tongue caress his inner thigh, then amplified that sensation, Pleasuring him to the point of overwhelming desire. His lust was so thick it nearly choked me; rapidly sweetening him so much it made my mouth water and my gums ache. My tongue probed until I felt that familiar jumping against the tip of it. I was supposed to be neat about this but neatness wasn't going to cut it this time. Neatness wouldn't make him bleed quick enough or as much.
I'd waited too long and now I was too hungry to be neat. Instead of using my tongue to lift his skin over my teeth, I sank my fangs deep into his thigh. My mouth was immediately flooded with warm spicy sweetness and his screams echoed in the nearly empty street. If I was lucky, the man's shrieking scared the fuck out of Ivan and he left.
Or maybe not.
Angelo had never bothered to tell me the other reason why puncturing was preferable to tearing the vein open: instead of a manageable trickle, my mouth was instantly filled with so much blood that I couldn't gulp it down fast enough and it began to dribble out the sides of my mouth. The rapid loss of blood and my bite made his body go slack and slide down the wall and dragged my body down with it; my teeth ripping a chunk out of his thigh as they were forced apart from it.
I chewed and swallowed, then managed to sit up, watching in a daze as blood poured from the guy's leg onto the ground, pooling around his body. Blood, blood everywhere and no way to drink it.
Fuck that, there had to be a way I could get some.
I ignored the dizziness and vertigo making my head swim and crawled over to the man who was bleeding like a stuck pig. Then I wiped away the dirt and grit from his wound before pressing my lips to it and sucking down as much blood as I could drink.
By the time I was done with him, my t-shirt was soaked with blood, my lips and chin were smeared with it. I'd never gotten so much at once, it was like being intoxicated. Blood drunk. Every nerve was buzzing and I was as high as a kite. The only problem was, he was still bleeding all over the place and I couldn't drink anymore. That killed the high real quick.
Fuck, fuck, fuck!
I ripped the man's white button down shirt off his body and wrapped it around the gouge in his thigh like a tourniquet, only it bled right through.
I decided that if he had to keep bleeding out, I'd just toss him in the dumpster and let him bleed there. I got up, bent over and scooped him into my arms. Then I shoved him down as far as I could, slipped off my bloody t-shirt and threw it on top of him.
I looked at the puddle of blood and the crimson trail leading straight to the dumpster and shook my head at my stupidity. If this mess was traced to Ardoin in any way, he'd have my ass in a sling. There was fuck all I could do about it now and I was regaining enough sense to remember that I needed to find a place to crash where I'd be safe from the sun and from anyone attacking me while I was defenseless. The Nocturne would have been perfect but I wasn't about to crawl back there.
I turned to check out my watch and saw that it was five thirty. Fuck me, I was running out of time and had to start finding a place.
I stepped in front of the dumpster and made my way out of the alley.
"Was that what was supposed to happen to me, Jamie," a voice called out behind me. It took my foggy brain a moment to remember who it was. Ivan.
I turned to face him, still unsteady on my feet. "Stop fucking following me!" I yelled.
"Is that why you'd blow a filthy pervert like that?" Ivan demanded. "Because he'd pay you and I wouldn't?" Then he peered at me and gave me a self-righteous smirk. "More like he gave you Sugar."
"You don't know what the fuck you're talking about."
"Is that why your eyes are bloodshot and your cheeks are so flushed you look feverish?" Ivan crossed his arms. "You're tweaking so bad that you're wobbling."
This again? "I don't have time for this bullshit, Ivan. Go save someone else, okay?"
I tried to stumble away but he moved faster and blocked my path. "I saw the whole thing, Jamie." he said emphatically, as if he had figured out my greatest secret. My heart began to drop and I started to panic until he added, "You tricked for Sugar but when you blew him, you hated him, hated what you had to do for your precious drug so you snapped and mutilated him. That was what you were going to do to me, isn't it?"
That did it. "Get the fuck out of my way," I growled, pushing him so hard that he fell to the ground. Then I stalked away and began the search for a place to Sleep.
An hour and a half passed and I still hadn't found a good place. I was aware that Ivan was still following me but at this point, I didn't care. It didn't matter anymore.
Just as the sky began to lighten, I found a condemned building with the windows and door boarded up. I looked closer and saw that some of the boards had been pulled off at the very bottom of the door, creating a hole just large enough to crawl through. The smell of urine, unwashed bodies and booze told me that this was a squat, where drunks and other homeless people crashed and when I crawled through to get inside, I instantly saw I was right.
Syringes and empty bottles of booze were scattered around the place, along with various bodies lying, passed out on the floor. I figured that they'd be too fucked up to bother me and my limbs were getting real heavy so I found a space on the floor and lay down. The floor was hard and uncomfortable but before long, I couldn't feel it anymore. I couldn't even move.
My last coherent thought before I fell unconscious was that crawling was better than this place and if I had to swallow my pride, so be it. Tomorrow, I'd go back to the Nocturne.
And face Angelo. I only hoped he wouldn't gloat too much.