“I have something to tell you, Cae,” Zeke whispered, his back to him.
Zeke was quiet for a little while, his chest rising and falling slowly.
“I’m leaving,” he said eventually.
“What!” Caelan exclaimed, sitting up suddenly. “You can’t!”
“I have to, Caelan.”
“But why? Why do you have to?”
“I just...” He sighed again, turning around slowly. His face was full of pain and suffering. “I don’t fit in here anymore. I feel like a stranger in my own house. I can’t handle it; I flip at the tiniest things. You’ve seen it for the gods’ sakes.”
“You can’t go, Zeke, you can’t leave me here on my own,” Caelan whispered, realising he was begging.
“If I stay I’ll hurt someone I love, Caelan. It could be you. And I wouldn’t be able to handle that.”
Zeke sat down on the bed, wiping at Caelan’s cheeks with his thumbs, making him realise that he was crying.
“Don’t cry, please. I’m not worth crying over,” Zeke murmured.
His words only made it worse. Caelan was holding back a sob now. Zeke held him in his arms. Caelan noticed, for the first time, just how muscular the older boy was becoming. He clutched Zeke’s black t-shirt in his fist, letting himself cry. He didn’t care that he was crying in front of Zeke; the two of them had grown up together.
“I have to leave, Caelan; I just don’t see a future for myself here anymore,” Zeke said quietly, resting his cheek on top of his head.
“What about me?” Caelan demanded. “What am I supposed to do without you?”
“You have to just keep living.”
“Why are you telling me that you’re going? Surely just leaving would be easier.”
“I didn’t want to leave you without letting you know that I’ll be back.”
“When?” Caelan snapped, tearing himself away from Zeke.
“I don’t know,” he admitted, “but I’m not going forever. I just need a break from being sensible, from being friendly. You don’t know what it’s like to want to hit something all the time. The only time it goes away is when it’s just us.”
“Surely that’s just part of being a teenager though,” he said, calming down from his sudden anger.
Zeke sighed yet again. “I heard my dad talking to your mum. He reckons it’s because of my heritage.”
That silenced Caelan. Zeke never offered up information that involved either his mother or that side of him. He was still a little bit warlock, Caelan knew, but he was destined to be a vampire. He sat quietly, waiting to see if Zeke would say more.
The elder boy crossed his legs and curled in on himself a little. Caelan had never seen him looking so defeated by the world.
“He said that it was the two parts of me fighting for dominance.”
“But I thought that happened when you were eight.”
He shook his head. “Apparently not.” They were both silent again. “I might go and find my uncle.”
The mystery uncle that he never mentioned by name. The same one that had got him that little car for his sixth birthday.
“My mum’s brother,” Zeke whispered.
“What happened to her, Zeke? Your mum. Where is she?”
His shoulders fell further still and Caelan wanted to un-ask that question; he could see that it hurt Zeke to think about it.
“She was killed. About a year after I was born. I remember everything about her and it hurts. ”