Ant took me to the Night Life building. All the way to the second to the top floor. He opened one of the apartments up that wasn’t locked and it wasn’t really an apartment it was a gym of sorts. There were no weights, more a dojo maybe. In the middle of the mat was the blonde Chevalier of Il Cane’s. Ryan looked up when we entered and smiled. “Bought time you got here, what ya do walk?”
Ant laughed. “Yeah. Actually we did.”
Ryan shook his head. “Cari said you wanted my help?” He looked at me when he asked.
I shrugged. Ant shut the door and locked it behind him. “He needs a suitable substitute.”
Ryan nodded and stood up, “Comfortably numb without the drugs or alcohol or abusive sex.” Ryan grinned. “Got it. Warm up. We got this.”
Ant took off his shoes and started to stretch so I followed suit. And soon the three of us were sparing. And not just any sparring – a no hold barred type where I walked away from each round with bruises.
My heart was pounding. My arms and legs hurt, but Ryan and Ant pushed me. They each took turns after a while pummeling me. We went for several hours until my phone rang. Ant picked it up, “Nox’s Phone.”
I heard the giddy voice on the other end. “Is he okay?” My brother asked and I heard Henry giggling in the background, both were a little drunk.
“He’s okay. What do you need?” Ant asked.
“I’m just making sure he’s okay. I’m going home with Henry.”
Ant nodded, “I’ll make sure your brother gets home alright.”
Nick laughed, “Thanks whoever you are.” And he hung up.
We went for several more rounds.
Dawn was fast approaching and Ant laughed, “I need to be in bed. You two can keep going.”
I shook my head. “No, I need food and then sleep myself.”
Ryan wrapped his arm around my shoulders, “Feed me, then grab a shower, and I’ll walk you home like a good friend, then I’ll crash too.”
So that was what we did. I cooked for Ryan, and the rest of Cari’s herd, including a man I’d never met before. He looked more strung out than I felt. His eyes were bloodshot. Alison smiled at me, “Nick is an empath and a ghoul. Don’t mind him.”
I looked at him and empathized. He smiled back at me though it didn’t reach his eyes. “Food will help.”
He nodded, “I can say the same for you. And sleep too.”
I sighed. “I wish sleep came as easy as food, but I’ll damn well try.” I was dead tired. I was starving, my body ached but in a good way. I didn’t regret my actions despite feeling like crap. I think that was Ant’s point. If I want to hurt, then make it worth while. A long run. A good fight. But not self destructive.
Ant laughed, “There you go thinking too loud again. But if you need help just call me Nox. I’m here whenever you need me.”
I nodded, “Thanks Ant.”
He went to his own apartment and I fed the crew. Then grabbed a shower. Ryan gave me a pair of sweats said they kept spares on hand. And then he walked me home. But he didn’t come up to my room. He laughed, “I don’t want to go in there if that’s alright. But Ant’s right, you call and we’ll come. I promise one of us will be there.”
I nodded, “Thanks Ry. I appreciate it.”
He grinned, “You got to take care of yourself now. You have a cat, and two brothers who damn well would miss you if you left this earth too early. And all the rest of us would miss you too.”
I gave him a wry grin. “Thanks.” He sent me on my way and I was taking the stairs slowly, my legs were sore and I was tired. I just didn’t want to take the elevator and press my luck.