Up north in the adirondacks, deep in a cave in Black Snake State Park, the male who had collapsed at the coming of the dawn two days ago could not understand why the sun was shining on him and he wasn't up in flames. Unless he was in the Fade?

No... this couldn't be the Fade. The aches and pains in his body and the screaming in his head were too much like what he felt on Earth.


Except, what about the sun? He was bathed in its warm glow, and yet he breathed.

Man, if all that vampire-no-daylight shit was a lie, the race was an idiot as a whole.

But, wait, wasn't he in a cave? So how were the rays reaching him?

"Eat this," the sunshine said.

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Okay, going with the idea, however improbable it was, that he remained alive, clearly he was hallucinating. Because what was shoved in his face looked like a McDonald 's Big Mac, and that was impossible.

Unless he actually was dead, and the Fade had the Golden Arches instead of the golden gates?

"Look," the sunshine said, "if your brain's forgotten how to eat, just open that mouth of yours. I'll cram this fucker in and we'll see if your teeth remember what to do."

The male parted his lips, because the smell of the meat was waking his stomach up and making him drool like a dog. When the hamburger was stuffed into him, his jaw went on autopilot, clamping down hard.

As he tore a hunk off, he moaned. For a brief moment, the tingling approval of his taste buds replaced all of his suffering, even the mental shit. Swallowing brought another whimper out of him.

"Take more," the sunshine said, pressing the Big Mac back against his lips.

He ate it all. And some fries that were lukewarm, but a godsend nonetheless. Then his head was lifted and he sucked back some slightly watery Coke.

"The nearest Mickey D's is twenty miles away," the sunshine said, like it was looking to fill the silence. "That's why it's not as hot as it could be."

The male wanted more.

"Yup, I got you seconds. Open wide."

Another Big Mac. More fries. More Coke.

"I've done the best I can with you, but you need blood," the sunshine told him, like he was a child. "And you need to go home."

As the male shook his head, he realized he was lying on his back with a slab of rock for his pillow and a dirt floor as his mattress. He wasn't in the same cave as before, though. This one smelled different. It smelled like... fresh air, fresh spring air.

Although... maybe that was the sunshine's scent?

"Yeah, you need to go home."


"Well, then we got a problem, you and me," the sunshine muttered. There was a shuffling like someone big was sitting down on their haunches. "You're the favor I need to return."

The male frowned, dragged in a breath, and croaked, "Nowhere to go. No favor."

"Not your call, buddy. Or mine." The sunshine seemed to be shaking its head, because the blurry shadows it created in the cave shifted like waves. "Unfortunately, I gotta deliver your ass back to where you belong."

"I'm nothing to you."

"In a perfect world, that would be true. Unfortunately, this ain't heaven. Not by a long shot."

The male couldn't agree more, but the whole going-home thing was bullshit. As the energy from the food seeped into him, he found the strength to sit up, rub his eyes, and¡ª

He stared at the sunshine. "Oh... shit."

The sunshine nodded grimly. "Yeah, that's pretty much how I feel about it. So here's the deal, we can do this the hard way or the easy way. Your pick. Although I would like to point out that if I have to find your place without your help, it's going to require some effort on my part, and that's going to crank my shit out."

"I'm not going back there. Ever."

The sunshine put a hand through his long blond-and-black hair. Golden rings glinted on his fingers and flashed from his ears and winked from his nose and glittered around his thick neck. Brilliant white, pupil-less eyes flashed with a boatload of pissed off, the bright blue ring around those moonlike irises flashing navy.

"Right. The hard way. Say good night, Gracie."

As everything went black, the male heard the fallen angel Lassiter say, "Mother. Fucker."

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