Jed came round to the sound of Jack pounding on the glass of his sitting room window, a black void where the memory of his frenzy should be. He shivered, getting uneasily to his feet. His neck hurt. And the cobwebs were back, their spiders with them, like he had never cleaned at all. Reaching into his pocket for his key, Jed went and got the door for Jack.
“Jed!” Jack looked relieved as he stepped inside. “Your phone cut out! I thought the hunters-” he paused, his gaze flicking over Jed. “Mate, you are really badly hurt. And it looks like someone bit you. What happened?”
Bitten? Jed’s hand went defensively to his neck. He was feeling hungrier than he had before Jack had called, he realised. “It’s a long story,” he said, lowering himself onto the couch. Tiny spiders fled from the cushions as he sat. More spiders?
Jack looked at him skeptically. “A long story, eh? Maybe you should tell me.”
Jed shook his head. “I… got in a fight with some thinbloods. And then you called me. And then I blacked out.”
Jack gave a long-suffering sigh. “Stands to reason. You are pretty useless.”
It took a fraction of a second for Jed’s frustration, his anger and his fears all to come rushing over him, crashing around his ears like a wave of crimson light. This frenzy seemed like the most natural thing in the world, and he leapt at Jack, fangs bared.
Jack barely seemed to move, grabbing the back of his skull with a twitch reflex and casually throwing him to the floor. Jed felt his beast’s surprise as Jack followed up with a chokeslam, pinning him to the floor, face pressed into the dusty carpet. He struggled, wings slapping, but felt his rage quickly subside.
Jack dusted off his coat as he got to his feet. “You,” he pronounced. “Need some serious help. Like, medical help. I’m calling Shen.”
“No,” Jed croaked.
Jack looked at him, questioning. “Why not?”
“He… he doesn’t like me. He’ll be out to get me.”
“You are a crazy guy, Jed.” Jack shook his head, pulling out his phone. “And who else has been inside the house, anyway?”
Jed looked about, feeling weak. “What?”
“There are four sets of tracks. On the carpet.” Jack gestured with his free hand as he punched in Shen’s number. “Yo Shen, Jed’s really hurt.”
Shen had invited the two of them to the chantry, where Lucius, back in victorian finery and snow-white skin, had looked solicitous, and taken Jed to one side.
“Perhaps you should tell me how you were wounded,” he said quietly. “Those claw marks, those are vampire claw-marks.”
“They are,” Jed admitted. “I fell foul of a pack of thinbloods; a lasombra and some gangrel, I think.”
Lucius’ eyes had been stony. “And why, pray tell,” he said. “Was that?”
Jed lowered his gaze. “I would prefer not to say. That is my right, is it not?”
“You could refuse,” Lucius agreed. “As I could refuse you healing and succour at my chantry. That much is certainly my right.”
“And Shen?” Jed gestured to the Tzimisce, who sat reading a book within earshot.
Lucius looked stern. “Shen is an extension of myself.”
Jed sighed. “If you must know, I was seeking reentry into Eyes’ compound. The price was a life and I was hunting the thinbloods for it.”
“And you were doing that because?” Lucius’ tone was expectant.
Because I wanted to use Alistair’s blood to grow my own power. Amaranth. The truth, unspoken. “She has Alistair,” he said. “I wanted to find a way, negotiate terms to rescue him.”
“I see.” Lucius’ face betrayed nothing, but he nodded. “Come with me, please.”