Blood Does Not LieMature

The subway train reached the stop closest to the hospital and Marcus stalked through the station, his thoughts chasing one another through his head. Questions about the Fraternity and what they were concealing seared him. Never before had he questioned the order that was the only family he had known. Guilt chased the questions; he should trust them over one of the monsters and yet he had gone to Flicker and hidden it. Now he was headed to the hospital seeking any answers his blood could give. All because of questions a werewolf had told him to ask.

It made him wonder what else the werewolf could tell him. For once he did not feel the righteousness of his cause at the thought of killing another beast. This one was different. Or perhaps it was as Flicker had said, and he had been killing the monsters who were a danger. Certainly the fey mother and child he had seen earlier were no danger. Flicker was little enough danger. Maybe this werewolf was not that much different than Marcus. Perhaps Marcus himself was a monster for what he did.

His dream came back to him, the dream of his fingers being claws, of having torn out Xennie's throat, and he hurried his pace, pushing past a group of teens. The look on his face was enough to silence any retorts they may have made, although he saw one of them watching him, sensed the otherness on the girl. She was a shape-shifter, although what kind he was unsure. Not a werewolf, but something. Just for a moment, he met her eyes, and saw anger and fear mingled there. It made him wonder who the Fraternity had taken from her.

Those thoughts led to thoughts of Xennie. Remorse that he had been the cause of her pain, and worry that she was going to turn. It was a longshot that she wouldn't, to be honest. If she did there was the chance she would not survive it. That thought brought him more pain, the thought of her dead.

It would be his fault. He had failed in his duty to kill her when he realized she could have the disease. He couldn't imagine her harming anyone, not his Xennie. Yet if she became one of the monsters, would she be able to help it? The werewolf in the alley was in his thoughts again, his promise to look after Xenia, protect her from the Fraternity. Marcus could only hope she would be protected from herself.

He could only hope she survived the night.

At least there was a week before the full moon. Even if werewolves could shift at will, those newly infected would not turn for the first time until the full moon. It gave Xennie time to recover from her wounds, assuming she was still alive.

Marcus blinked as he stepped outside, the light dazzling his eyes for just a moment. Quickly he scanned the area to be sure he saw no signs of anyone from the Fraternity. Especially Alexander. He did not want to answer questions about why he was here. If anyone thought he was visiting the civilian he had reported they would investigate. Alexander knew him too well and would sense the change in attitude. Marcus couldn't pull it together well enough to hide it, not right now. He needed time to think it through before he could go back. He had no intention of putting Xennie in more danger.

Into the hospital, another adjustment for his eyes. The smell of the place hit him and he swallowed back bile. It had never bothered him quite this badly before, but he spent little time there. Only that once when Xennie had dragged him, and he had gotten out as quickly as possible. Before anyone could notice how quickly he healed. Usually the order patched him up when it was necessary.

Striding to the front desk, he smiled at the nurse there, receiving a glower in return. "Could you tell me if Marybeth Lawson is working today? She's a nurse, usually works on the fourth floor. We went to school together and I wanted to surprise her since I'm just coming through town." He could see the scepticism on the woman's face. She clearly spent her day fending off various requests, dealing with anxious or angry people. This was slightly different, though. It wasn't about a patient, it was just a nice surprise for one of the nurses.

Marcus could see her think about it, see her consider how she'd feel if someone came to see her and they were turned away. Her decision reached, the nurse offered him a tight smile and began typing into the computer. "I'm not really supposed to give out that information, but yes. She's working today. Fourth floor as usual. She's probably due for a break about now..." Marcus could hear the hint lingering in the woman's voice, the suggestion that he make Marybeth take a break because any nurse could use one.

He flashed a smile and headed to the elevators. The fact that smiling at a stranger felt awkward bothered him, not that it had ever bothered him before. As he punched the button, waiting for the doors to open, he wondered how long it had been since he had smiled out of genuine happiness. Other than at Xennie.

A short ride up, in distance if nothing else - the stairs would have been quicker, but he had needed the time to pull himself together - and he was on the fourth floor. He glanced at the nursing station, then spotted the woman he was looking for just walking out of a room down the hall. He waved at the nursing station as he saw a woman open her mouth to ask if he needed help, then saw her close it as he pointed down the hall.

"Marybeth." The nurse whirled, surprised, her face settling into blankness as she saw him. She was a contact, but not a friend. It was clear she was ambivalent about his presence but he tried to put her at ease. "I need a couple favours. Nothing bad, I promise."

Marybeth's eyebrow quirked. "Not like you would tell me if it was. Fine. What do you need? But I want out of this. I don't want to see any of you around anymore. Find someone else." He remembered the night he had first met her. A vampire had been stalking her and he had killed it, saving her. Since then, however, it was fairly clear he had asked a little too much. He had abused her gratitude and it made him disgusted with himself, blackmailing her like that.

"I just want to find out about a friend of mine. Just... a friend," he hastened to add when her face shut down even more. "She came in last night." At that, Marybeth's face relaxed. There were no women on teams in the Fraternity as the name suggested. "Her name is Xenia Tudor. I'm worried about her, but I don't want to answer questions, you know? I'm not even sure if she'd want to see me. I just... want to make sure she's ok. And if she is, maybe you could take her some flowers from me? Let her know I asked?"

The flood of words surprised Marcus, as did his apologetic tone. Both must have surprised Marybeth also, because her mouth hung open a little and she was looking at him like just maybe he was human after all. "I'll check. Is that all?" Suspicion had crept back into her voice as she remembered that he'd asked for more than just one favour.

"I need to find someone in the lab, too. A friend said this one tech could maybe help me." He dug the crumpled piece of paper out of his pocket, handing it to her. He'd written down the name Flicker had given him so he wouldn't forget.

"Oh. Yeah, I think I've heard of him. A bit off but he's ok. Lab's down in the basement. It should be ok for you to go down, just say you were sent to check on some test results. Everyone's so busy around here they won't say anything." There was just a hint of concern on her face as she looked at him, proof that she had expected him to ask something much worse. The fact that she felt that way about him made him hesitant to recall what he had asked of her in the past.

"Wait here for a sec and I'll check about your friend." With that, Marybeth hurried off in the way only nurses can. It took only a minute for her to come back to where Marcus stood awkwardly, leaning against the wall and trying to look a little less conspicuous.

"She's doing ok. They gave her a room up on 5th to keep an eye on her. Gonna hold her a few days just to make sure there's no infection and that the stitches hold." Marybeth paused for a moment, giving Marcus her best expectant look.

"Right. Well... maybe I can run down to the lab, then grab some flowers from the shop on my way back up?" Marcus hated the way he sounded so awkward. He should just go see Xennie himself, but what if she didn't want to see him? He wasn't sure he could make himself go in there.

"How about you do that, then just head up to fifth, just drop the flowers off with a nurse there? I'm pretty busy here, and explaining why I'm playing delivery a floor up isn't something I really want to have to do." She was smiling though. It was pretty clear she thought the girl was someone important to Marcus, and she even thought it was rather sweet. There was a hint of censure in her eyes, though, and Marcus assumed it was for the fact that he was not already hovering by Xennie's bedside. Well, he wasn't going to explain that.

"Thanks." Too many emotions played inside him, relief that Xennie was ok, fear she wouldn't want to see him, guilt that she had gotten hurt. Guilt that he had failed in his duty. He turned on his heel, stalking away from Marybeth without another word and heading down to the basement to the lab.

It was easy enough to find the guy Flicker had mentioned. Nobody even really questioned why Marcus was there. As Marybeth ahd said, everyone was too busy to care.

The End

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