Lazarus watched the sun traverse the sky, slowly climbing above the trees around them. He held onto Melissa, knowing he should sleep soon, but he wasn’t tired. He was on edge, tense and alert. He was still being hunted for after all, and though he did his best to close his eyes and fall asleep, he couldn’t make himself stop panicking every time he heard the rustle of twigs and dead leaves outside. The wood is full of life besides us, stop panicking, Lazarus, he scolded himself, but he couldn’t help the tension in his muscles, setting in with the cold.
He noticed the fire dimming, the flames sinking into the embers of the wood and he disentangled Melissa from him gently, using his clothes for her as a pillow once again. She mumbled something as he walked to the fire, but didn’t wake up. He picked up a couple of smaller branches from Melissa’s collection, poking them into the embers, trying to get the flames to take to the wood. He scowled at the flames as they refused to come back to life, and glanced at the bottle of vodka. That’ll work. He reached over to it, unscrewing the cap. Tipping a little of the liquor on the wood, he dropped it into the embers, smiling as the heat ate into the branch, unable to resist the pull of the accelerating fuel, bursting back into flame.
He sat there for while, poking the fire around with a long branch, enjoying the heat. Though he couldn’t seem to bring a smile to his face. Part of the reason was James. Had he been betraying them after all, as Melissa had suggested? He saw no reason to, and it wasn’t like what had happened after he was out of the lab was interesting. Was the recovery of a werewolf that interesting? He didn’t know. But on the other hand, he saw no reason for that vampire to treat him nicely at all. Rescuing a stranger and his girlfriend? Seemed a bit odd. He tried to shrug it off, but part of him couldn’t shake the sensation that being in this cave was just a big mistake.
The sun began to disappear from view, signalling that it was past noon. Tiredness tugged at him gently, but he didn’t feel even remotely inclined to let it take him. He was possessed by the need to watch over Melissa. It felt a little bit obsessive, but he didn’t really care. He ignored the call of sleep and watched Melissa’s sleeping through the flames that tore at the wood. Darkness fell and the fire became the only source of light. Melissa began to wake up, slowly realising Lazarus was not beside her. She pushed herself up and looked around, seeing him staring into the flames. His arms were folded across his knees, his chin resting on a burnt wrist.
‘Did you sleep at all?’ she asked, exasperated. Lazarus looked up and shook his head. ‘What’s wrong?’ her eyes took in his hunched form. It was almost like he was hiding behind the flames. He shrugged wordlessly, not meeting her gaze. ‘Lazarus, please. What’s up?’ she got up, moving towards him. He still didn’t move, too tired to really do anything.
‘Nothing. I’m just tired.’ He laughed wryly. He knew he should have slept.
‘Then why couldn’t you sleep, if you’re so tired?’ she asked, raising an eyebrow. He shrugged again.
‘Just couldn’t sleep. I’m fine.’
‘Lazarus, look at me for a second.’ She said, her voice turning gently commanding. He looked up and met her eyes.
‘What?’ he watched as a smile grew on her face.
‘Oh, nothing,’ she leant in and kissed him. He put his arms around her, pulling her in close.
‘I love you,’ he murmured into her hair.
‘I love you more,’ she giggled. He pulled away and looked at her, his eyes serious and penetrating.
‘No, you don’t,’ he said, bringing his lips down on hers forcefully. When he was done, she smiled against his lips and muttered into them:
‘Oh, yes. I do.’ He smiled at her insistence and not wanting to argue any more, he hugged her tightly. He twitched a little as the first cramps began to tear at him. She pulled away from him though he tried to cling to her. Dislodging him, she reached for his alcohol, pushing it into his hands.
‘Lazarus, go, take a drink.’ She said, kissing his cheek. She moved away and watched as he shook his head, staring at the ground, whining as cramps racked him again. Reluctantly, he took one last glance at Melissa, hating that she had to be so far away from him and began to drink from the bottle in his hand.
Melissa closed her eyes as Lazarus cried out. She resisted the urge to gather him in her arms and tell him everything was going to be okay, it wouldn’t last long. She couldn’t help the twinge of anxiety, though, as he transformed. There had always been a thick door between them, apart from the first time he had transformed in front of her. As she thought, she felt her heart clench, the shadow smothering her. It engulfed her from the inside out, surrounding her in a ghostly shroud of dark wispy shade. Lazarus whined somewhere on the other side of the cave, scared, in his drunk transformed state of what was happening to Melissa. The colour drained from her world, the shadow sapping it away.
As if blown by a sudden gust of wind, the shadow bent and scattered like smoke, but instead of rising into the atmosphere, it sank, becoming thicker. Had Lazarus been sober enough, he would have noticed that the form the shadow now loosely held was that of a wolf. It pulsed, solidifying. The tendrils of cloying shadow faded, pulling back from the form inside of it. Lazarus stared at the thing it had left standing in the cave with him. A wolf, with deep forest brown fur and bright green eyes. The russet wolf was thinner, smaller than Lazarus’ form, but it was no less beautiful. It gazed up at Lazarus, its eyes sparkling in the fire.
Lazarus picked himself up and clumsily walked over to Melissa. He sniffed at her and whimpered, bumping her nose with his. He sat down again beside her, his dulled eyes drooping a little. Melissa followed suit, nudging him so he lay down. He growled weakly at her, his pack instincts telling him not to submit, but he was too tired to argue. He slumped forward, resting his head on his large paws, his eyes sliding shut. Melissa smiled inwardly, watching the blonde beast as it slept.