[identity profile] illyriaone.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] wl_fanfiction
Title: Affliction, Part 2/13
Author: illyriaone (Thesseli)
Pairing: Colin/Ryan
Rating: R
Summary: I once swore I would never write a vampire story...
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction.
Type of Feedback Desired: Any.

Part Two

A little embarrassed and feeling way too exposed, Colin quickly shut his mouth.

“Wow. Those *are* big,” said Ryan.

Colin looked down. He didn’t want to tell Ryan that even he hadn’t wanted to see them, after it first happened. He couldn’t bear to look at his own reflection -- strange that they still had reflections, and could walk in daylight, even if it did hurt their eyes -- for some time afterwards. He still couldn’t. It was only the necessity of having to go out in public and not wanting to look like a bum that had led him back to the mirror.

“So, what’s it like?” Ryan asked, once they were in the car. The question was casual, but behind it there was the curiosity that everyone without it had. They all wanted to know.

Colin turned to stare bleakly at his friend. “What’s it like?” he said. “It’s like nothing I’ve ever felt before. It’s horrible, Ryan. I feel…I feel like a monster.” He stopped then, not wanting to go on.

Ryan turned to him, sympathy in his eyes. “Colin, no. You’re the same man you were before. That hasn’t changed. The only thing that’s different is that you’re on a special type of diet now; lots of people are on those.”

“Lots of people don’t need to drink blood,” he said, his final words becoming a whisper. He turned away. He didn’t want Ryan to see him like this, to see him as he now saw himself…

“Actually, Col, a lot of people do. They say it’s spreading. It’s not an epidemic, but it’s definitely spreading.”

He still looked away. “That’s assuming it actually is an infection -- that it’s a disease that *can* be spread like a cold or the flu. The CDC doesn’t even know that yet. They don’t know if it’s airborne, or if can be spread by casual contact, or through body fluids…you can touch someone who has the disease and not get it, you can have sex with someone who’s infected and not get it; hell, you can be bitten over and over again and still not get it.” He’d cursed himself a thousand times for going on that damn commercial shoot, although he knew there was the distinct possibility that it had been incubating even before he’d left L.A. Since they didn’t know how it was spread, or how long you could harbor it before the symptoms started, there was no way to determine when and where he’d gotten it.

Ryan spared a glance at him as they drove out of the parking lot. “Well, it starts out with a rash, doesn’t it? And then a fever?”

He nodded slowly, watching the scenery go by. “And then it’s over. You’ve changed, and you can’t do a damn thing about it.”

Ryan paused for a few seconds, as if gathering his thoughts…or perhaps his courage to ask his next question. “How did it happen with you?” he finally said.

Colin closed his eyes, then opened them again. “It was the day that we finished the shoot. We were having a little get-together afterwards…I never really thought about it, before then. It’s still so rare.”

“Mm,” Ryan nodded, eyes still on the road. Colin told himself firmly that it was because he needed to watch where they were going, and not because his best friend couldn’t bear to look at him.

“One of them was there, at the hotel bar. That was the first time I’d ever seen one. He was real cocky, like he knew that nobody there could hurt him. I think he was a little drunk.”

“Drunk?” Ryan asked. “You mean, like, he'd bitten someone who’d been drinking?”

Colin smiled slightly. “No. We can still drink pretty much anything, and alcohol has the same effect on us as it does on you.” He winced. He hadn’t meant it to sound so harsh at the end, but he felt like now there was a wall between him and everyone else that he knew, everyone who wasn’t like this. Us and them, me and you, normal and…what?

Ryan murmured something in understanding. Colin couldn’t make out the words, but the intent was clear. He relaxed a little.

“So then someone from the technical crew made a comment about the guy…that he didn’t like what the guy was and didn’t care who knew it.” Colin looked straight ahead. “He heard it -- he was meant to hear it -- and he said something back. Then the tech said that…that we ought to just stake him then and there. The guy just laughed, like he knew something that we didn’t. And he did. Turns out…once you’ve got it, you can smell it on other people. You can tell if someone’s got it, or is about to get it.”

“And he could tell that about you?”

“About a few people there. But from the shoot, only me.” He paused, knowing what Ryan would inevitably ask next. “And no, I can’t smell it on you. You don’t have it.”

Ryan looked a little embarrassed that Colin had anticipated his question. “So what happened next?”

Colin rubbed his forehead. “Well, the guy left after that, still all cocky. Later that night, a couple of people there started noticing that they had the rash. There was a little bit of a panic, then. I remember not knowing what to think, and I was wondering if I should get out of there and back to my hotel room, when I happened to look down at my arm…and I saw that I had it too. Bright red blotches on my skin. I…I just closed my eyes, then, because I knew what would be coming next. I wanted to get away from there; I was afraid of what the other people might do if they knew. I went outside to get some air, and I found some of the others who’d just started showing signs. I guess we were all scared, even though none of us felt any different yet, mentally or physically.”

Ryan considered his next words carefully. “I’d heard that there were personality changes, but I can’t see any difference in you.”

“They’re not exactly changes to the personality,” he replied softly. “Impulse control, yes. There’s an increase in aggressiveness -- although the CDC facilitator wants us to refer to it as ‘assertiveness’.” He laughed hollowly. “And there’s a feeling of power. Not the sort of power to make someone do what you want…more like a feeling that you can do anything. It’s kind of…exhilarating, at first.” He paused, wondering if he should tell Ryan the rest. “And there’s a strange sense of,” here he stopped again, searching for the right words. “Of territoriality, I guess you’d call it. And possessiveness. Especially about things we consider to be ours. You should have seen us in the hall, Ryan. We each had our own little piece of the room staked out, while we waited for the CDC people to get there.”

“You said you were territorial about things…do you mean people too? Are you that way about people?”

Colin frowned, wishing Ryan hadn’t asked that. “Yes. But again, not how you would think. Not jealousy, not like if you thought your wife was sleeping with someone else. It’s very hard to describe.”

“Did you have that early on, or did that come later?”

“That was later. At first I was so scared that I didn’t know what to do, so I went back to my room and waited for what I knew would be coming. I got the fever a few hours later, and then it was over.”

“It was that fast? Even the physical stuff?”

Colin nodded. “I could tell that my teeth had changed, and that I was stronger…and that the backache I’d had all day was gone. That’s one good thing about this, Ryan. No more sickness, no more degenerative diseases like arthritis. Perfect health and total immunity. And all you have to do is trade your humanity for it.”

“Col, please don’t say that. I don’t want you to feel like you’re somehow less human than you were before. You’ll always be the same to me.”

Another rush of warmth went through him. He didn’t think about what it meant.
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