Wylie didn’t stay to watch Beck and the crew leave. He ran back into the house and to the stairs, and took them in large leaps. He found the shot home owner crawling on the floor in the hall. His blood streaked the hardwood as he tried to get to something.
“Stop moving. You’re just going to bleed out more,” Wylie muttered. Relief unclenched like a fist in his chest to see the man was alive enough to move. He knelt down to help, then flinched when the guy tried to wrench away. Which clued him in to the fact that he was still holding the gun in his clawed hand. Wylie growled in exasperation.
“Shit, sorry. I just didn’t want to leave it with that trigger happy fuck. I’m not going to shoot you.” He got up and left the mangled gun in the nearest room so it wouldn’t be used against him. He’d seen enough thrillers to learn that little lesson, thank you. He shifted his scales and absorbed them back into his flesh until his arms were as normal as any other human’s, then pulled out the cell phone and dialed 911.
While the phone rang, he knelt again. He pulled his sweatshirt off and wadded it up to press on the man’s wound. Either the old guy was too exhausted from blood loss and pain or he figured out Wylie was helping because he didn’t fight when the material was pressed to his chest.
There was a click before the buzz of background activity. A woman’s voice drawled coolly in his ear. “911. What’s your emergency?”
“I got a guy with a gunshot wound.” Wylie really hoped his voice sounded more stable than he felt at the moment. Okay, maybe there was still a lot of fucking fear left in him. He wasn’t sure where the hell it was all hiding. With Beck safe and faced with a wound that looked absolutely death resulting, Wylie managed to find a shit ton of terror. “It’s in his chest. He’s bleeding out and I don’t know what to do.”
“Where are you?” The voice sounded much calmer, like it was a fucking walk in the park.
Wylie blinked, his mind a blank. He was robbing a fucking house and he didn’t even know the address. Fail. Total fail.
“Shit, dude, what’s your address?” He asked the gasping man, not sure if the old guy could even talk.
“Woodcrest… 135 Woodcrest Ave,” the man said after a moment. Blood trickled from his lips.
Wylie swallowed hard. He knew that was a seriously bad thing. Hopefully, the guy just bit his tongue or some shit.
He repeated the address to the woman on the phone, then followed her instructions on how to place proper pressure on the wound. When she let him know the ambulance was actually on the way, Wylie hung up the phone and tossed it down the hall. He knew the police would be there soon and he didn’t want to hear her say that too.
He crouched in the hallway and stared at his black, blood-soaked sweatshirt and the man’s crimson white nightshirt. Wylie found himself praying to the god he’d given up on since he was eight to not let this guy die. He didn’t know a thing about the man except that he was rich, kept too much tech and money in his house, and might like daffodils. Suddenly it was like the old guy was the most important person in the world. Even more than his own life because he knew what he was doing by staying.
It was jail time. Juvy, if he was lucky. If the guy died—fuck, he had picked up the fucking gun, hadn’t he? Wylie wasn’t sure if his clawed hands left fingerprints. Still, he was the one there after breaking into the guy’s house. He had the gun that shot him. It wouldn’t look good.
The man’s breathing increased in raspiness. Wylie hesitantly raised his eyes to meet deep, piercing blue. The guy looked a bit military. His gray hair was shorn close, jaw squared, shoulders broad. Maybe a retired soldier or something… Although, maybe not retired. Besides the pain twisting his features, there wasn’t much for wrinkles.
“They’re on their way.” Wylie wasn’t really sure if there was anything else to say.
“Your hands… Let me see your hands,” the man gasped out and reached for one of Wylie’s. “Before… they were…”
“Yeah, freakish.” He studied him for a long moment. Wylie sighed and transformed one of his hands. He instantly regretted it. The scent of blood was overwhelming to his enhanced senses.
“You’re a shifter.” Shaking fingers gingerly touched Wylie’s claws.
“Sure, a demon shifter who can only turn his arms,” Wylie muttered. “Careful. They’re really sharp so don’t go cutting yourself up even more.”
The man coughed and clutched Wylie’s smooth talons like they were a lifeline as his body shook. “Dragon… No such thing… as demon shifter.”
Wylie raised his brows at that and looked more closely at his scaled hand. “You think I’m a dragon?”
“Know it… I know another.”
“Well, fuck.” He might be going to jail but at least now he knew he was a failed dragon shifter. It definitely sounded cooler than demon. Maybe God didn’t hate him automatically after all.
“Huh?” Wylie raised his gaze from his talons and black scales to look at him in confusion.
“Your spit… can heal.”
“Err, I think you’ve lost way too much blood, old man.”
“Transform… and spit.” His bruised face twisted in pain as another cough shook him, and more blood spilled from his gasping mouth.
“I can’t do a full transformation.” Wylie tried to explain. The man didn’t seem to hear or even care; he just kept repeating himself, voice growing weaker each time. With a sigh, Wylie decided to give it a shot if only to calm him down. If the weird old guy wanted to be spit on, who the fuck was he to deny him his dying wish?
Wylie closed his eyes and focused on his hands. His nose wrinkled as again the scent of blood tried to overwhelm him. He let the talons grow on his other hand and was careful not to press down too hard on the compress he was holding. He pushed the scales as far up his arms as they would go and as he did, his other senses woke, and fangs poked free. Wylie kept pushing, seeking a further shift. The hopeless situation called for something that was normally beyond him. He was so desperate to be able to do something, anything that could give him some scrap of control and hope.
Blood… he needed to focus on the blood…
He let his senses target the heavy scent rising in the air. The blood sounded wrong in his veins, too sluggish, too empty… Wylie groaned as saliva abruptly flooded his mouth. It wouldn’t have been too terrible, except he was also suddenly rock hard. Totally not cool when there was some old guy bleeding out beneath him.
“Spit,” the man pleaded, his voice a dry rasp.
Wylie’s eyes snapped open. The light blue of his eyes had seeped away to an otherworldly white. He pulled the sweatshirt from the man’s chest and tore his sticking shreds of shirt away. His lips hovered over bare flesh. He allowed the fluid in his mouth to drip into the black hole cut through the man’s chest.
“Aw, crap.” Wylie barely noticed the odd smoke rising from the wound or the gasps of pain from the old guy. The scent of blood was so overpowering, his eyesight dimmed and darkness encroached on the edges. Which probably explained why he was lapping the blood and moaning from the divine flavor.
“Sorry… really fucking sorry,” Wylie mumbled. His embarrassment wasn’t enough to actually get him to stop licking up the man’s collar where his head wound had pooled blood. He moved higher to his jaw where his chin still dripped that terrifying trickle of scarlet. Wylie tried to stop but it was no use. His tongue followed the perfect elixir, pushed between the man’s gasping lips and drank down every taste he could find.
Fuck, he was kissing a dying old guy. There was no way he could redeem himself after this. Sure, he was kind of hot in a brutish military way, mid-forties to fifty—not completely decrepit. His lack of say in what his own tongue was doing was really Wylie’s issue. Blood always fucked him up in the head. Apparently, a whole lot of blood got him horny beyond control.
Thankfully the flavor faded enough from his victim’s mouth so that Wylie could pull away. He didn’t get far. His lips attached to the heavy stream where the gun handle had cracked across his skull. He held his head tight and Wylie drew his tongue up the side of his face. He gasped at each touch of wet red. God, it was good… So fucking hot, and tangy, and fucking perfect…
“Kid… my back.” The man’s voice was stronger. “The bullet went through.”
Wylie pushed him over before he even understood what was said. He tore the stained shirt in half to reveal strong muscle, wide shoulders, and another black hole dripping divine blood. Shit, nothing should taste this good. Nothing should be able to take him over like a fucking puppet, have him attack some defenseless man… who tasted like a fucking god.
He moaned and roughly lapped across the burning hot wound. He was vaguely aware that it was changing under his touch; the flesh knit together and the blood flow slowed to a trickle and then stopped. It wasn’t as important as finding more blood. Wylie followed down his back to steal every red drop and stain away with greedy long licks of his tongue.
He whimpered in despair. The flavor was nearly gone now, the scent diminished with each lap of his tongue on smooth skin. As if he knew exactly what was wrong, the man held his hand up with Wylie’s blood-soaked sweatshirt balled in his grasp. He threw it a few feet down the hall and Wylie was on it before it hit the ground. He rolled and pulled the fabric into his mouth with a sigh. He lay on the ground and sucked on his fucking shirt like some goddamn pacifier. He glared at the man who was watching him back warily.
“What the fuck did you do to me?” Wylie asked hoarsely. His teeth bit into the fabric to squeeze more blood free. The heat in his head was fading; the scent of flesh mixed with blood was more powerful than just blood alone.
“Nothing, kid… It’s just bloodlust.” He went to push himself up only to immediately collapse with a loud expulsion of air. “Hell.”
Wylie watched him passively. He wasn’t in a hurry to go near the old guy again. “The ambulance will be here soon. Stop killing yourself.” He sought out a fresh spot of blood on the shirt.
“Run, kid. They’ll destroy a thing like you.” The man tried to push up again. “The cops will… shoot you on sight.”
Wylie’s nostrils flared. He didn’t say anything for long minutes while he pulled drinks of watery blood from the fabric. The old guy continued to try to get up, apparently a glutton for an early death. Wylie couldn’t help but wonder if he was healed on the inside. Healing the front of the gunshot wound hadn’t healed the back of it. It took turning the man and healing that side too. For all he knew, everything on the inside was still a bleeding mess in the guy.
Wylie rolled to his knees. His shirt was firmly stuck between his teeth as he went and sat on the guy’s back. Collapsed flat under his weight, he finally stopped struggling.
“You need a doctor,” Wylie said with a growl. The man, who was obviously in need of said doctor, didn’t have the strength to argue.
“Just… Just get me outside the house,” he finally said. “I don’t want them in my house.”
Wylie licked the back of his teeth in thought and then nodded. He stood and pulled his weak companion up with hands under his armpits. By the low hisses, it wasn’t a pleasant feeling. Fresh blood spilled where Wylie’s impossibly sharp scales sliced into his flesh. He tried the best he could to not hurt the guy—he didn’t intentionally mangle him like he had Diego—but there really wasn’t much to be done about it. Wylie’s demon arms were things of destruction no matter the situation.
He pulled the man down the main stairs, unlocked the front door, and dragged him out on the lawn where the outdoor lights illuminated them against the night.
Sirens could be heard in the distance. Wylie stared out into the dark. A heavy weight of resignation settled on his shoulders. He pulled his claws and scales back in until he was smooth pale skin, then sat beside the man in the stiff, cold grass as he waited for whatever hell was soon to come.
“What’s your name, kid?” His face was upturned, and eyes sought out stars in the sky obscured by the white puffs of his breath.
“Wylie. Wylie Doe.” He pulled a crushed and bloodied cigarette from his sweatshirt pouch pocket. The lighter was there too but the damn thing was too wet to burn. With a sigh, Wylie just held the stick in his mouth. He glowered when flashing blue and red lights started to bounce off the dark houses down the lane.
“I’m Collin McPherson. Just in case you wanted… to know the name of… the guy you saved.” The sentence seemed to wear the man out and his eyes closed wearily.
Wylie glanced over; the old guy looked like hell frozen over. “Yeah, don’t get ahead of yourself there, pops. You lost a lot of blood and I’m pretty sure you’re still bleeding on the inside. Still plenty of time for me to be an accessory to murder—or fuck, just plain old murder,” he added with a scowl. No one would go looking for Diego when they had him right there.
He really was an idiot.
“Hey, don’t fall asleep,” Wylie snapped. He reached over and knocked his shoulder. “They’re right down the fucking road. Stay alive, damn it.”
The sirens blared and lights flashed all around them. It was surreal to watch the cold October night transform into a carnival. The reds drew his eyes the most. Wylie stayed perfectly still, his hands open and out at his sides while people swarmed to the gasping man beside him.
“He your dad, kid?” A middle aged man in a blue uniform with shiny badge and hat in place knelt down to Wylie’s level. He looked at him like he was some poor, simple teenager who just watched his daddy get shot.
Wylie smirked around his broken cigarette. “Nah. Never saw the guy before in my life.”