Mike grabbed his jacket. He turned to face Crandall as he pulled it on. “C’mon, man, you haven’t sparred with us in a few weeks. You gotta stay sharp.”
“For what?” Crandall didn’t look up from the television. He ducked his head and bobbed with his upper body, slamming the buttons on the game controller with vicious speed.
“What do you mean, for what?”
Crandall cursed and threw the controller in the direction of the TV. It bounced off the carpet and clunked against the console. Typical game-over ritual.
“Look, Crank, I know we’ve talked about this, but even if we do absolutely nothing, we’re going to attract vampires when we go out at night. You should still practice, just in case.”
Crandall stood and crossed the room. He shut off the television and shoved the game console back in its space underneath. “Yeah, because you ran into so many you were able to keep this hobby of yours a secret for the three years I’ve known you.”
“You’re going to hold that against me?”
With a sigh, Crandall crossed his arms and glared at Mike. “That is not what I said. I wouldn’t have believed you if you’d told me sooner. My point is, they’re not around as much as you’d like me to think.”
Mike opened his mouth, but shut it without speaking. They’d already argued about it. Nica had pointed out that Judas wasn’t likely to let them walk away from his crazy idea of a prophecy, and Crandall had seemed to agree, but in the week since her visit, Crandall seemed to have changed his mind, deciding the best tactic was to ignore the situation altogether.
“I’m going. I’ll see you later tonight.” Mike then called down the hallway. “C’mon, Ash, let’s get going!”
Ash jogged down the hallway and then grabbed his jacket from the line of hooks by the door. He looked at Crandall, who was wrapping the game cords with a strip of Velcro fastener. “Not coming?”
“Same argument,” Mike said.
“Ah.” Ash nodded, and waved at the door. Mike opened and they left together. As Ash pulled the door shut he said, “He’s probably just worried I’ll kick his real-boy ass again.”
“Fuck me.” Crandall took a step toward the door and then flinched as if hit. He wouldn’t fall for it. He knew Ash was baiting him, and he refused to bite. Even if Ash was asking for an ass-kicking.
Crandall walked to the kitchen, opened the fridge door, and then stared at its contents without knowing what he was looking for.
“Fuckity fuck, fuck.” He slammed the door shut and hurried to and through the living room. He grabbed his coat as he opened the door. He bolted down the stairs, jumping down to both landings, to skip several steps.
As Crandall pushed out the main door and into the parking lot, he heard the rough grumble of the engine of Mike’s fading Mustang. They didn’t make it very far.
Crandall stopped in middle of the parking lot, shrugging into his coat as the Mustang rolled from the back lot into the main lot on its way to the road. Mike slowed the car to a stop, and Crandall waved Ash out of the seat. Once Ash crawled in back, and Crandall dropped into the front seat, Mike pulled away.
“So,” Ash prompted.
“Fuck you,” Crandall said. “Don’t even start.”
“Of course not.” Ash grinned wickedly in the rearview mirror. Mike smirked, but said nothing. He knew better.