Mike drove them home in silence. He didn’t turn on the radio until a jacked up Honda rolled to a stop beside them at a light. The car shook with the heavy bass rap stuttering through the small vehicle. Mike turned on his radio, but it did nothing to drown out the throbbing of their neighbor’s speakers. With a narrowing of his eyes, Crandall glared at them. He said, “He might be revving his engine, but how would anyone know over that craptastic playlist of his?”
With a snort, Mike rolled his eyes. The light changed to green and Mike stomped down on the gas, his eyes flickering to his rearview mirror. As soon as the Honda leapt forward, Mike slowed to cruising speed and laughed as the Honda rocketed ahead. As Crandall frowned and opened his mouth to question it, sirens wailed behind them, making him jump.
Mike laughed and eased over to let the cop pass, blue lights flashing and lashing onto the Honda like a tractor beam. He flashed a grin at the Honda as they rolled past and a pair of cops strode up to either side of the vehicle in full intimidation mode.
“Nice, Mike,” Crandall said. His attention shifted from the car to the radio, fiddling with the dial even though he knew there was only one radio station he could tolerate in Boston.
“Yeah, it was,” Mike said. “Okay?”
“Yeah.” Crandall leaned back in his seat and stared out the side window. After another minute of silence, he asked, “What did you agree to?”
“To think about what he asked. It was Ash’s idea. He said we needed time to digest everything and bring Dragon up to date. Besides, he knew you weren’t up to making any decisions.”
“He’s alright,” Crandall said, his eyes following a homeless man pushing a towering shopping cart down the sidewalk. The evening was cool, but the man dressed for a New England Nor’easter, with a bulky overcoat, hat, gloves, and a worn ski cap with a faded Patriots logo over one ear.
“Yeah. He got it. I was pretty much out of it already, but I know he made them let me go. I heard him, like he was there, but not, but I still heard him.”
Mike nodded and then said, “Yeah, he’s alright. He’s good with people. Nearly as good as he is in a fight.”
“I could learn a lot from him.”
Brows knitting together, Mike stole a quick glance at Crandall before returning his attention to the traffic. “Yes, you could. He’ll always have you back too. He’s a good guy.”
“I know. I get it.”
Mike nodded and then shook his head. Crandall ignored the confusion, falling silent for several minutes. When he spoke, he turned back to his original question. “They think we’ll do it either way.”
“They hope. Though I don’t really get why.”
“If we agree to try, we’ll have protection from the other vampires.”
“Do you know that the same way you knew there were two older vampires in the building?” Mike slowed, hitting his turn signal as they neared their apartment complex. The signal chattered out the time until Mike turned into the parking lot.
“No, I know because Sidney told me so. I’m not some crazy ass psychic, Mike. Are you?”
Mike laughed, but it was tired and half-hearted. “No, but you sure seemed to be tonight.”
“What’s Ash’s secret?”
“Secret? What makes you think he has a secret?”
“Everyone has a secret.” Crandall leaned forward and shut off the radio while Mike circled the lot and headed into the back space no one used unless they had to move their vehicles for snow plows. It was unpaved, uneven, and still bore a striking resemblance to an overgrown, abandoned little league field.
“What’s your secret?” Mike asked.
Mike nodded. “Does that bother you?”
Crandall shrugged a shoulder. “Sometimes,” he said. He climbed from the car as Mike pulled to a stop.
“Sometimes how?” Mike asked when he joined Crandall outside the car, walking towards the building.
“I’m not big on public displays, but I really wanted to jump you after the gig. All that post-show energy. I always feel like I’m flying after. I wanted to pin you to the wall and hump your leg.”
Mike chuckled and when Crandall didn’t he looked at him. “I’m glad you didn’t,” he said.
Mike stopped. “Crandall?”
Crandall turned, walking backwards. “I’m tired, Mike. I’m not up for it now.”
“Sex or hiding it?”
Crandall turned back towards the building and in two quick strides Mike caught up. Crandall said, “I’m not going to expose you. I said I wouldn’t.”
Mike snorted and followed Crandall up the stairs, soothing his fear with a view of Crandall’s ass in front of him.