Back from the Edge

Belle Vista 
At some point, Mathis did wake again. He was groggy, sore, but acutely aware of how much the pain had ebbed. His neck still burned, and the lacerations across his body still throbbed, but after a moment of staring into the dark ceiling above him he assessed that Frank had done his work. Mathis had realized shortly after that he was alone in the living room now, still on the couch but outfitted with a clean blanket and a pillow.

Next was the hunger. Ravenous and quite literally nauseating. He’d nearly wretched as he tested his mobility and turned himself to his uninjured side. It outweighed the exhaustion that dragged him down, the primal need for sustenance. It was convenient that there was a pile of food set on the table that had been drawn close to him. Hamburgers, to be exact. Cold but still food.

He’s ignored the ache of the bandaged wounds along his ribs as he reached to pull the food closer. Mathis would not be proud of the way he devoured the meal, but he was thankful he was alone without a witness. Eventually, he was sated. With a stomach full and a body sore enough to remind him of the state he’d been in hours earlier, Mathis was quick to settle back into slumber.

Some hours later, after the sun had peaked and begun to set again, Mathis was stirred awake by a hand on his shoulder. His eyes peeled open, brows furrowed as he blinked up at the perpetrator of disturbing his sleep. Yana. For the briefest of moments, he was startled to see her. Why was she in his bedroom? The smart of the stitched wounds in his neck as he jerked his head reminded him quite rudely where he was and why he was here.

A low groan echoed from his chest as Mathis settled back into his pillow. His eyes shut for a moment, then opened as an exhausted chuckle broke his lips. “Am I as pretty as a sleeping beauty?” He asked, his voice hoarse from lack of hydration.

Outfit minus shoes because she lives here.

 "As pretty as a picture, my friend." She slowly let go of his shoulder, smiled at seeing some sign of his usual humor as she offered out the glass of water in her free hand, a straw stuck in so he wouldn't have to stress his stitches any more than necessary. "How are you feeling?" There was an urge to jump right to asking him what had happened, but she refrained - tried to allow him a few precious moments to get his barings.

 " I didn't want to move you while you were unconscious, but once you've had a moment or two I've gone ahead and prepared the guest room." She stepped away, the worst of the mess cleaned up, the ash gone to faded and barely there smudges of gray.

His lips twitched at her answer, He could feel the jagged scabbing on his face. But he was thankful that Yana kept it light. He nodded at the water, but paused to preform the extraneous task of shifting himself up so that he was more or less half way upright. He hand extended for the glass as she spoke about moving him, his teeth clenching around the straw for a moment as he braced himself against the pain from the movement. The water lasted all but a few moments before Mathis clasped the glass in his hands and rested it on his lap.

"I would like to shower first. And eat. Then we can move and I will tell you what happened." He was certain Yana wished to know every detail there was. He was willing to reflect, still somewhat in a state of shock at it. There would be time for handling the emotional repercussions of such trauma. For now, however, his Queen needed the facts.

 She gave him a moment as he gulped down the glass of water, looked about with feigned interest as if she were interrupting something intimate in nature. When he spoke, she looked back - took a moment to assess his state of being and tried to focus on the improvement and not feel a sense of dread about how far they still had to go. "We can arrange that, certainly." She motioned to the food she'd set out, set the glass down and offered out a hand with which he was free to pull himself up.

 There was some sense of urgency at the idea of learning all that had happened, but she forced herself to keep steady - they were in this for a long haul, after all. Instead she honed in on addressing the requests one after the other, hooked a foot around one of the legs of the coffee table to inch it closer to him. "We should discuss what specific things you like later on as well, I don't typically do extended guests."

A long shower sounded heavenly. There was some concern about the stitches, but he figured Yana might have reached out to Frank at some point to cofirm that it was safe to do so. If not, Mathis found it difficult to care too deeply.

The food was firs priority, though. He grasped Yana’s forearm and hosited himself up completely. Slowly, he manuevered to sit properly on one cushion of the couch, and paused there with a pained sigh as he body ignited in pain. His rib was no longer fractured, but still sore. The stitched laceration on his stomach tugged with the movement, and the shift in weight distribution put a new pressure onto it that left him sitting with tensed shoulders. At his collar bone and the side of his neck, the stitches and bandages felt alient and itchy.

Yana breached the topic of his staying here as he reached to start on the food. He let out a low grumble at the mention of it. “Yana... I was in no state to argue last night but.” He glanced toward her with stitched brows. “Do not make me a burden. I do not want To trouble you more than I already have.” He said so as he took a bite of the food, mindful not to devour it with the fever his beast insisted on.

 She let go once he was situated, grasped her own hands and twisted her fingers as she watched him situate. Mindful of every movement, cautious as her eyes roved over him for the tiniest sign of damage to the patch-up job that Frank had so carefully provided the night prior.

 "No." It was a little sharp, a little abrupt, although she was quick to soften and expand on it. "You need to stay here, at least until the stitches are removed." She motioned to his neck, as if they both weren't aware of the mangled mess that was the side of his throat. "If I'm to help heal you, then it would be best for the both of us to keep you close." Really, the idea of adding even a small trip to that chore, daunting.

 "I'm not saying you need to move in for the whole time, but -" She sighed, came round and moved to sit down beside him, gave ample room. "For the time being Mathis, please. You are no burden to me."

Natrually, there was no going against what Yana had set her mind to. He was not entirely in the position to protest, either. He didn't even have his car to drive himself home. There was some sense of reason behind it. Convenience. And he would be lying to himself if he denied that her nearby presence was comforting to not only his cat but himself as well. As she settled beside him, he reached over to grasp her forearm in a thankful gesture. The cheetah rose to stagger into his Queen, purring at the proximity to a familiar face.

"Thank you, Yana. I would have died if you had not come." It was likely the truth. Not even a were with his level of skill could pull through having their neck torn to pieces without the assistance of a Queen or King. That being the fact, he was thankful it had been himself on the brunt of the force, and not Abraham. He wondered idly how close the man had been to all of it when he'd come. How Mathis had been so lucky to have an ally nearby was still a marvel to him. He only knew that he was inexpressibly thankful for it.

 "I suppose we'll need to discuss that whole jaguar-merger with fresh eyes, hm?" She tried to sound impartial, a nod to the fact that he'd no doubt would be dead without the help. "Another time." A quick edition, less than interested in the idea of overloading Mathis when he was just then starting to get up and readjust to the world.

 It was an active choice to not acknowledge the gentle squeeze of her arm outside of a flicker of a smile, some way to diminish the idea that she was in any way the hero of this particular narrative. "I am glad that it all came up the way it did, even if it's rough right now ... it could've been far worse."

"Mm, you are correct." He said of the alliance with the Jaguars. If they had not proven themselves worthy of trust at the gathering, they certainly had now. In the very least, so long as Abraham was in a position of power. Mathis was quiet as Yana spoke, eating at an acceptable pace but distantly considering inhaling it whole.

When she was quiet, Mathis was too. It could have been worse, yes. He very well have been killed. Instead, he had killed. The thought of it twisted his stomach uncomfortably, and he frowned as he sat a little straighter. "Let me get showered, yes?" With that, he set aside the remnants of his meal and pushed the blanket from his legs. Standing was tedious, and incredibly painful as the weight once again redistributed to a new pressure on his stitches.

 She watched the back of the house from the large windows, pressed her fingertips together and chewed on the inside of her lip. She'd slept off the worst of her exhaustion, still last night left a more human toll in a disinterest for small talk. When he moved to stand, she reached out and hovered her hand behind him as if to catch his arm and steady him if he stumbled.

 "Down the hall, last door on the left - I set out fresh towels for you." She assessed him like a new artist requesting to show at the gallery, eyes roaming over his stance. "If you need anything, holler. There's no shame in it." Not bathing itself, of course, but she wasn't sure what his range of movement would be like just yet.

Mathis was privately thankful that Yana was not the doting type. She poised for any possibility, but did not insist on helping him through every step. Eventually, the pain ebbed enough for him to straighten and move in the direction he was instructed. "Graci, Yana." He said. It would be an agonizingly slow process to bathe. Painful and mildly bloody, though he would not admit that to anyone. Twenty minutes went by, and finally Mathis emerged in a pair of sweat pants and a plain blue t shirt that Yana had provided. He was clean of blood and ash, and his wounds felt fractionally better if not mildly irritated from the water.

"The guest room?" He prompted as he shuffled to the end of the hallway, but lingered there to await Yana's lead.

 As soon as she had heard the bathroom door shut she was up and at it. Clearing the glass and the plates, wiping off the table and deciding not to stress herself about any of the more set in mess just yet. That would make due, it would have to make due.

 By the time she'd finished tidying up he was just coming out and she'd neatly folded the blanket from the couch and set it over the back of the more or less ruined couch. The home had been whittled down to her, him, and Isolde - still if he wanted the privacy she would not deny him it. She kept her hands to herself, motioned to a door to the left just a bit closer to the living room.

 Quiet like the rest of the house it was well maintained but devoid of frills. The bed made recently and the blinds turned partially open to allow the sun to stream in. "I hope everything fits well enough, I had to guess on sizing." She gestured towards the dresser, moved to sit in the arm chair to the side. "I grabbed you things for the next couple of days. I figured once you're up to it we can at least make a trip by your house."

He followed her lead, a bit slower than he would have liked, but he got there all the same. Yana had gotten him clothing, which had been incredibly kind. “Thank you, Yana.” Mathis murmured as he made his way to the bed and settled down onto it. He took a long moment to collect himself before looking to the Queen.

“Margaux approached me as I was leaving an art festival. She noted that I was far from here, so I suppose she could tell what I was.” He would keep the explanation simple for the sake of getting the facts straight, and the sake of the discomfort he found in speaking.

“I attempted to diffuse the situation, but she did not have any interest in that. She tried to make me shift... I nearly did on her command. I do not know the power with which she persuaded me, but I was able to contain myself. Ah, until she attacked.” He admitted with a regretful smile.

“It was all very quick. At some point, she turned into the one of the feral creatures seen on television. I managed to pin her, and I suppose Abraham was nearby and came to my aide. With his help, I managed to pull her head from her body.” Saying the words aloud twisted his stomach uncomfortably, and he had to stifle himself for now. His head shook, but it only brought more pain to his neck. A reminder of the teeth that shreded the skin there.

 While she wouldn't dream of pushing him as if this were some sort of high stakes interrogation, there was a deep sense of relief when he didn't waste time with getting to the hard facts. She was quiet for it, leaned back as she watched him and tried to play it out bit by bit in her mind, like a movie that was lagging frame by frame.

 "I didn't imagine you went about picking fights with vampire queens, Mathis." Finding it mattered a good deal to her to make it clear that she did not think him a menace or a burden. And eve if it was juvenile, there was some inarguable sense of pride in the idea that it had indeed been Mathis to finish the whole mess. A tinge of immaturity that straightened up the slightest bit and wanted to pat him on the back.

 "So afterwords, she ... just - ash?" Was it fire or nothingness at once? Cautious about the ground she was treading, not wanting to shake anything loose that was being barely held down.

He nearly laughed at the idea of it. As if he would be so foolish. It reaffirmed the fact that he was thankful it had been himself as the target of the attack and not someone less... well, not someone else. As for her question, he shifted uncomfortably with a mild frown.

“Yes.” He said with a soft sigh. “I pulled her head from her body, and it turned to ash when I dropped it. The rest followed suit.” It was inexplicable, yet comforting all the same. The affirmation that she was indeed dead, and not capable of return.

 "Good." She exhaled slowly, found comfort in the confirmation that Margaux was definitely dead and gone from Mountainside. "Well, in case you were curious - it turns out that vampire ash is merciless in terms of staining." Some effort to find even a glimpse of humor, no matter how dark, in what was a grim situation.

 "I'm glad you are going to be just fine." Half letting it be known, half an effort to reassure him as she wandered towards the bedroom door and hesitated there. "I'll leave you be to settle in, I'd suggest you rest some more and give your body a chance to do the most it can."

A soft chuckle did form at the back of his throat to her joke and a grim smile curled his lips. “Seems like Margaux will not be so easy to forget.” He let that statement land where it may in Yana’s personal opinion, and watched as she left. Warmed by her reassurance, he did straighten some before she left.

“Yana?” He reached for her gaze. “Thank you, mi familia.”

/fade ther?

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