Vomit with a topping of blood was the start of Alec’s day. He felt miserable, with a burning, sore throat and tears in his eyes. His puke clung to his lips as he rinsed it off. At least the blood didn’t come from the same place as his upchuck. He splashed water on his nose and washed it vigorously.
A finger shot up the offending nostril, and came out mostly clean. It was good enough. Alec spat into the sink. It was still orange. He wrinkled his nose with distaste. Mornings were so fucking terrible. Every damned day was the same. Clogged nose, vomit, nosebleeds, and so much piss every morning, he swore he was a horse.
Being mortal was horrible.
Being mortal in the morning was worse.
Shaking hands reached for the pack of cigarettes he kept in his jean pocket. It was slightly crushed.
Alec pulled one of the cigarettes from the pack and tucked it into his mouth. The dry paper felt annoying against his damp lips. His left hand began to search for his lighter. Already, the sweet smell of tobacco was giving Alec that dizzying sensation that ne needed something more than air. He closed his eyes and enjoyed that sensation for a few moments. His hand rested on the pocket his lighter rested in while he reveled in that need to satisfy his addiction.
Finally, he jerked it out and lit the end of the rolled paper-and-leaf stick. The cherry quickly moved inward as he breathed in those familiar, toxic fumes. Each breath of the tar gas used to give him horrible coughing fits. They soothed him, now.
A slender hand gracefully plucked the cigarette from his lips. The young woman drove the hot cherry into Alec’s stubbled neck. The former immortal grimaced for a moment before he resumed a stoic expression. Only willpower prevented tears from forming. He looked at his assailant. “Would it kill you to stop that?”
“No, but if you do not stop, it will kill you.” The young woman answered. Her name was Sal. She was large of bust and according to Alec, small of intellect. She sighed and shook her head. “If you’re going to kill yourself, do it outside. This is my house, remember? It isn’t yours. I get to poop without the smell of that disgusting stuff in my bathroom.” She wrinkled her nose at him. Damn little button it was, it drove Alec’s mind to strange places.
“Let me have this. I have to put up with your,” he paused and sneered, “Periods and dress-up parties.”
“Neither of those have killed anyone. You can smoke outside. If you smoke in my house, I put it out on you. That’s the rule for everyone who comes into my home. No exceptions.” She placed a hand on her hip. “If you want breakfast, put the cancer sticks away. I made pancakes.”
Again, he damned her. Pancakes were his favorite, now that he had a physical body. The first time he had them, he recalled having his face shoved into a toilet so the mess of his vomit wouldn’t take as much effort to clean. According to the people around at the time, eating too much food led to puking or ‘getting sick,’ as they called it. “At least that’s something you do well.” It slipped out before he could rethink his word choice.
Her glare as she left told him that his intended compliment came out wrong.
“Wait! That was supposed to be a compliment!” He hurried after her. “Damnit, Sal! Hear what I think, not what I say!”
“Fuck you, Alec.” Her tone was colder than steel. “I don’t know why I’m so nice to you.” She turned back and glared at him. “Once you finish your breakfast, get out of my house. I’m so sick of how you treat me! You’re cruel, you reek of smoke all the time, you’re ungrateful, and I haven’t been able to get my house clean since I invited you to live here!” Her voice rose slowly in pitch and volume. “And don’t give me that ‘fallen angel’ crap! An angel would act civil, at the very least!” She whirled. Her eyes landed on a shitty five dollar vase. The vase found its way to her hand, and she spun to throw it at his head. The glass shattered.
Alec stumbled back and gripped his bloodied head. “I’m sorry!” He shook his head. “Fuck, Sal. I just said it wrong! You know I have trouble.” He inhaled sharply as he looked at the blood on his hand. “Son of a bitch, that hurt!”
Sal spun on her heel and stalked off huffily toward the kitchen. “Just eat your breakfast and get out. You can try to apologize another day.”
With a groan, Alec followed her. The pancakes tasted horrible in his dry mouth. He couldn’t believe Sal was banishing him. Once he finished, he thanked her and stood. His shoulders slouched as he made his way to his room and pulled some pants on. He cleaned the room up and packed his few belongings, then walked out to see Sal cleaning the vase mess.
He knelt and began to help her without a word. Guilt weighed heavily on him as he picked up each piece. Sal refused to look at him. Alec felt like someone was impaling his throat on a sword.
Once the glass was thrown away, he left the house.
He couldn’t return. He’d hurt her too much during his two-year stay. His face was still bloody as he looked up and down the street. It was a struggle to decide which way to go on such a gloomy, overcast morning. Finally, he stepped out into the street and turned right, toward the city. At least there, he wasn’t likely to die of starvation because he didn’t know jack shit about how to find food in the country that wasn’t from a farmer’s field.
The morning was still too early for much sunlight, and the fog obscured the area. Porch lights looked like magical wisps in this early morning white.
Two of them looked especially magical, just in front of him.
Wait. Were they getting closer?
Alec stared stupidly ahead.
Yep. They were getting closer.