The Vampire

"Thirst tells you when to go, where to go, how to go and even who to go with... This is the most exciting and scary time in any vampire's existence, and it's where I'll begin my story."

Cia craves for blood in the streets of New York, under cover of the darkness she's forced to live in. She's perfectly clear on what she is and how she must take care of her own needs. And to help her, she has her Mentor, the grumpy Lacien. The two of them exist together, do everything together, and it's driving Cia crazy. Until she meets a human, who seems to pop up out of nowhere, knowing all there is to know about what she is and how she manages to remain undead.

And for a while, everything's good. Until things start twisting in directions Cia had never foreseen, which forces her to reconsider everything.

WARNING: Due to request of some readers, there is no age line. However, the story does contain certain elements that younger readers might consider offensive.

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5. The Boy

 

When I thought I’d have the night to myself, I was wrong. Apparently, Lacien didn’t mind walking, despite his bad foot, which had soaked the bandages in blood during his sleep. At least, he led me to believe that when I had dressed casually in a pair of black jeans and a black strap top which shaped my breasts nicely. I went out of my bedroom then, heading for the door, and stopped dead and turned as Lacien cleared his throat behind me.

“Leaving without saying goodbye?” he asked poisonously. “That’s not very nice of you.”

I groaned and put my hands in my pockets. He took a step forward, limping, but doing better than he had been doing when he came back earlier. He was fully dressed, also wearing a new pair of boots.

“You can’t be serious,” I muttered.

“Oh, I am deadly serious,” he replied. “Besides, I lost quite a bit of blood. I need to feed.”

“Again?”

“Yes. Again.”

“Well, then you’ll have to see if you can catch up,” I said slowly, enjoying that for once I had the upper hand. “Or you could let me go alone.”

He shot me a dangerous glare, his fangs sinking into his lower lip, piercing the skin and leaving two flecks of dark, murky blood. When he took another step, he winced with pain and steadied himself by putting a hand on the wall. My heart leapt in my chest.

I didn’t particularly like him, but I did feel sorry for him. Lacien was one of the toughest persons I knew, if not the toughest. He never complained about pain or tiredness unless he benefited from it, and I had never seen him wince. Not because of something hurtful I’d said, and definitely not because of pain. So if he did that, it had to really hurt.

And if he said he needed blood…

“C’mon.” I sighed heavily. “Lean on me.”

“Leaning on you is only going to get me into your trouble,” he pointed out.

“Well, it’s that or I’m taking off right now, leaving you here. We’ll see how far you can go.”

“You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?” His tone was accusing as well as hateful, and I immediately regretted taking joy in his current situation.

I recalled once fainting from the stench coming off one of my victims. The smell came from the fact that his blood was poisoned with drugs, and my sensitive nose just couldn’t take it. Lacien had been there on that night, and when I came to again, he was carrying me back to the apartment, having drained some of the man’s blood for me to feed on later. I owed him a little more respect when he was in this bad shape.

He swayed, making me jump to his side, wanting to grasp his arm but not daring to.

“I assume you’ve never lost a big amount of blood before,” he said plainly.

“You’d know if I had,” I reminded him.

“You did exist before you met me.”

“I meant I would’ve told you,” I snapped.

For some reason he stayed quiet, leaving me with the God-awful feeling that I had actually done something wrong. Doing something wrong hardly ever mattered to me, and I had never cared much for Lacien’s opinion. Mostly because I thought he was old-fashioned and narrow-minded. But this was different. Usually when I snapped at him, he would charge into a fight with me because I was picking one, but now he just ignored me.

“What was your point?” I asked carefully.

At that he glanced straight at me, furrowing his brows slightly.

“You don’t want to get on my nerves tonight,” he warned me in a tone so low even I could barely hear it. No more than whispering, he went on, “I’m tired, I feel weak, and I desperately need to feed. That’s how blood-loss feels to us.”

I stared for a long moment, then nodded and headed for the door, waiting for him to come with me. And he did, though he didn’t make the slightest sound. As for myself, I kept my mouth shut, too, while we descended the stairs and went outside into the dark evening. He had given me a fair deal to think about. For instance, if I hadn’t been with him, he would’ve never ended up in this situation. And maybe vampires weren’t meant to live together. Maybe we were meant to be loners, living on our own, depending on no one else.

But I was also considering what he’d said. It was true. Lacien was not the person you wanted to pick a fight with when he hadn’t fed for some time. Much like human men, he would be more than short-tempered and use every opportunity he had to let me know he was in a bad mood. The same went for when he was tired.

Feeling weak I couldn’t really imagine him doing. Lacien was much stronger than I was, and much older and therefore more experienced. Even with an injured foot, he would be far beyond my abilities when it came to hunting. He understood to use every tool available to him, even if it meant degrading himself to human level and admitting he felt pain at some state. Somehow, I thought, when he was like this, he should feel the most powerful. His good looks and injury would attract curious and helpful young women enough that he wouldn’t have to worry about feeding for a long time. But he didn’t, obviously.

Despite the fact that we weren’t really running like humans in the shadows, we decided to walk instead, putting less strain on him. It took some level of power to do it, and the fact that he didn’t even make a move to do so revealed him. He wouldn’t be able to keep up in the long run. For that I should be delighted, but I wasn’t. Instead I was wondering if I was going to get at chance to feed tonight. Hopefully I would, otherwise it would be day two of my starvation. Or rather dehydration.

On a night like this, the streets of Brooklyn were flooded with curious tourists, which gave us something of a crowd to blend into. Yet despite our best efforts to do so, people noticed us. They ought to. The sight of us should awaken instincts they didn’t think they had, but humans tend to be rather ignorant, and this night they seemed to push the fear away and mistake it for nervousness in the presence of someone as handsome as Lacien and someone as beautiful as me. Some, the smarter ones, probably, stayed the hell out of our way, turning on their heels when we got a little too far into their comfort zones.

My throat started to throb painfully when a toddler slipped on the sidewalk and scraped his hands, sending the blood rushing to the abrasions. I wanted to take a deep breath, but quickly reminded myself that it would be a bad idea and instead held it. For a moment all I saw was that little boy, rising with teary eyes, holding on to his mother’s hand tightly and sobbing loudly. He was so small and fragile, his skin so easily pierced or forced apart. A little bunch of energy, not yet influenced by how stressful life can be, and not yet at an age where his blood would’ve been harmed from pollution of any sort.

Cia,” Lacien hissed, hauling me into an alley and pinning me to the brick wall behind me with his arms. “Pull yourself together.”

I blinked, watching his face. And then I came to myself. Only then did I realize my fangs had come out, and my lower lip had been pierced. I could taste the blood in my mouth. In the dark I could see my own face reflected in Lacien’s eyes, my expression baffled and blank. He was frowning, staring seriously at me until he was completely sure I was back to my senses.

Slowly he removed his arm from my throat, clearing my airways again. He hadn’t been pressing too hard, just hard enough that I could feel it, and hard enough to keep me in place, should I try to run. Sighing deeply, he stepped back and let his hands drop to his sides. While he was studying me, I was doing the same thing. Studying myself. Something like that had never happened before. Not in the same way. And while I preferred young teenagers or older children, I had never, ever, snapped at the sight of a toddler. What had I been thinking? It was a child! The future generation, like Lacien had lectured me so many times. How could I possibly let my guard down and be so carefree in the presence of a being like that?

Lacien put an arm around my shoulders and dragged me out of the alley again, limping worse now, but still being the one in control. His face was turned to the ground, and I kept my hair falling into my face so my eyes wouldn’t be as obvious. I could always lie, of course. Say I was an albino, but that I’d dyed my hair because it looked more exotic. People nowadays would buy it without a second thought, against their own intuition. But lying could potentially cause trouble in a couple of years, seeing as rumors would spread. Better not to get in touch with anyone than lying to them and risking that they discovered the truth in a couple of years, by which time I wouldn’t have aged a day.

“It’s the purity,” Lacien whispered to me as we went down the sidewalk. “I can sense it, too.”

“You can?”

He made an impatient noise.

“You’ve still got a lot to learn,” was all he said.

“But why have I never -?”

“Some humans are more pure and innocent than the rest of them. Toddlers and babies especially. But from an early age, when the child starts to develop a sort of self-conscience, it’ll often become more self-centered, more egoistic. Some children start at an early age to destroy their own purity, doing things they’re told not to, acting on their own, bullying… My point is, it’s rare that you come across someone entirely pure, even during daytime. But as we’re the opposite, we’re attracted to the blood of these pure creatures. It’s usually not something we discover before we’ve fed on them, but we’ll know afterward. It’ll be much like bathing in holy water.”

Oh, yes. That’s another thing. Holy water. Of course we can’t touch this. Our souls aren’t damned, but no god ever promised his or her believers a life in eternity, and thus our existence goes against all religions. Therefore we must stay away from sacred ground, holy water, and Bibles. Crosses are no problem to us, mostly because the people who produce them do it solely for the sake of earning money. Needless to say, real sacred ground and real holy water is hard to find, and therefore not something we need to worry about too often. Unless we’re in Mecca or Jerusalem, perhaps. Churches aren’t really problematic for us to enter. We can, physically, but we tend not to. Just to give the humans a sense of security, something they can cling to desperately.

“Have you ever -?”

“Of course not,” he snapped. “But I know what holy water feels like.”

“Why do you know that?” I asked, crossing my arms at my chest, feeling his hand tighten on my shoulder so his arm wouldn’t drop from my shoulders.

I assumed he had read it somewhere, but knowing Lacien he had probably just been testing himself. Or trying to prove a point to someone he felt superior to. All I knew about holy water came from ancient stories that went from mouth to mouth between vampires. And what I’d heard had been terrifying enough that I would never even consider it.

“When you’re as old as I am, you’ll know that some questions are better left unanswered,” he replied, to my surprise not unkindly.

“But I -“

“That’s enough,” he interrupted me, removing his arm and keeping his distance.

We walked in silence for a long time, and the Thirst was beginning to point fingers at me, laughing at my stupidity because I hadn’t prayed on anyone tonight, despite the fact that the streets were full of people. Luckily the boy had vanished from the streets while Lacien made sure I snapped out of my trance-like condition. I wasn’t sure I would be able to hold myself back from all that satisfaction, all that goodness, all that fresh, clean -

I shook my head violently, clearing it again of the thoughts before I did something stupid.

“Continue straight ahead,” Lacien said beside me. “I’ll go down Fleet Street.”

I resisted the urge to glance right, to where Fleet Street met the Flatbush Avenue Extension. I knew he would be off then, on his way in between small shops and warehouses and empty apartment buildings. But it was good. It would allow me to hunt properly, allow me to feed, which I found myself in need of in the light of the recent incident with the boy.

And Lacien definitely needed to hunt. That was not something we could even argue about - he just had to. My eyes travelled to the right when he limped in between the buildings on either side of the smaller, narrower street, while I walked on. Closing my eyes, I tried to imagine where I might find a secluded place with few people. Preferably young adults. The cop from the other night hadn’t been bad, but he was a little older than I preferred them.

As time went by, I could start running. This time without Lacien to guide me, and I ended up just running heedlessly with no direction. Thirst was making my throat raw, and my inner parts were longing for additional blood to compensate for the blood I didn’t get out of the toddler. Without noticing myself, I changed my course and raced through the dark smaller streets, away from any heavy crowds. And somehow that brought me back to exactly that.

My running was cut off by a sudden gathering of people, who were talking to each other loudly, laughing and enjoying themselves, obviously. I swore under my breath, knowing I couldn’t zero in on one of them without the others noticing. But I had to. The blood was hammering through my veins, my heart beating faster. My vision was clearer now, my eyes set sharper. My nose was alert, catching even the slightest scent of anything at all. And that’s when I noticed why I was drawn close to this very crowd. In front of the bar on the opposite side of the street stood a young man, no more than twenty years old, and the side of his face was dripping with blood. It appealed to me, very much. Drew me out of the shadows and across the street.

“Good evening,” he said suddenly, turning toward me and dabbing at his bleeding temple.

I stopped short, stupefied by his greeting.

“Good evening,” I managed, trying very hard not to launch myself onto him and sink my fangs into his skin.

“You look a little overwhelmed,” he commented. “Are you quite alright?”

I was very aware of all the people around me, and very aware of his kindness. It would be rude of me to ignore him and disappear into my beloved shadows again, but what other choice did I have? I couldn’t go on like this. I needed to find real pray.

But maybe if I could get him lured away from the other humans…

“I’m perfectly fine, thank you,” I lied, hoping I didn’t sound too strange, but still keeping my protruding fangs in check behind my lips.

Needless to say, fangs weren’t the easiest things in the world to hide. Nor were they the easiest things to talk with while they were fully extended. Not if I didn’t want to reveal them, anyway. They often resulted in my tongue being placed wrong, and that made it very hard to pronounce certain things. Lisping was inevitable when they were like this, which was bad.

“You look like you could use some help,” I said, trying to sound gentle and straining to pull in my long teeth. “I’ve got a friend who lives close by -“

“I know what you are,” he whispered low, staring into my eyes, even though I was doing my best to keep my gaze away from him. “And you’re perfect for what I’m working on.”

My breath caught in my throat, and I felt my heart relax momentarily when I stopped breathing in the scent of fresh human blood, right in front of me. But my head was spinning. He claimed to know what I was, but wanted me to do something for him. Or so it sounded. Those two things didn’t connect in my head, because he should want me killed within the hour. Yet he seemed genuinely glad to have met me, and he was smiling patiently as he waited for me to reply.

So maybe he didn’t know exactly what I was. In which case I could still continue to try and get him to myself so I could feed. Yes. Surely that was what I had better do.

“What exactly is that?” I asked him with a smile, sure that I could contain my fangs long enough to make it seem real.

“I’m working as a designer for a new clothing brand,” he offered. “You have the perfect look for several of the dresses we’ll be showing during Fashion Week.”

If I had been rather surprised before, it was nothing compared to my reaction to what he was offering me. Modeling? I could barely stand wearing high heels. How on earth would I look walking on a runway with every single important person from the fashion business staring at me, either in person or through a television screen?

Not that it was something I desired at all. What I desired in this moment was blood and nothing else. But somehow I couldn’t just bring myself to drag him off into the dark of the night and kill him. There was something crazy in his smile, the way he was watching me with a faint glint of interest and a fair deal of admiration. Could he really know?

“I’d be glad to discuss this somewhere else,” I pressed.

“Can’t,” he said. “I need to make sure we stay where everyone can see us.”

That decided it for me. He definitely knew. And I knew the stories that were the reasons why my blood felt suddenly frozen. Every thought of Thirst and feeding vanished, and instead a devastating fear took over. Humans who knew just a trace of the truth could be just as dangerous as Hunters. Take for instance in sixteenth century Europe where witches were being roasted on bonfires. Only, most of these women were actually vampires, who had attempted to do much the same as Lacien as I were doing. Living among the humans without drawing attention to ourselves.

This… This boy could mean the end of my existence, and I wasn’t ready to pay that price just yet. But if he knew, then perhaps his friends - whom he kept glancing at over his shoulder - did, too. And if I killed him, they would know I’d done it. And then I would either find myself on the run, underground or dead within a couple of days. That wouldn’t be good.

But how could he possibly have guessed that I was a vampire? He clearly wasn’t one himself, seeing as the blood was pulsing livelily through his entire body, untouched by the sting that the venom we produced put on every single one of us. If he knew I was a vampire, why didn’t he just yell at his friends and get them to kill me at once, before I could harm anyone? What did he want from me, other than just a model? Fashion designers didn’t know vampires really existed. They didn’t walk about in the streets alone at night and feel the strange sense of being watched, because they were often in expensive cars or at least followed by someone else. How could he have any idea?

He reached for my arm, and I stepped back quickly, out of reach.

Rule number hundred-and-something - Lacien had extraordinarily many rules - was never to let a human touch you unless you were sure to kill it afterward. I wasn’t sure I could guarantee my killing this boy, so I had better stay out of contact with him. Physical contact is dangerous when faced with a potential Hunter, because they can use your genes to track you down easily. Leave a hint of your DNA on them, and you’ll be fleeing for your life soon enough.

“Sorry,” I said. “I can’t stay. I have to go.”

My eyes travelled to his bloody face then, noticing something other than the blood. His pallor had a golden hint, his eyes were a light shade of blue, green or gray, which was hard to determine in the dark, and he had full lips, which curved into a bright smile. His teeth were clean, even and white, a little too white not to be taken care of often by a dentist or the like. His tousled hair was strawberry blond, and he was - indeed - very handsome.

“Come on,” he said, as if not noticing that he was bleeding heavily. “Consider it, alright? What I know will be our little secret.”

I reminded myself that he was only a weak human and forced myself not to stare at him. He wouldn’t… would he? And would people believe him? Probably, since this was at the beginning of the fantasy-era, where humans dreamed of becoming what I was, among many other superhuman beings.

“I -“

“Oh,” he said, grinning. “My name is Aleksander, by the way. And you are?”

“I’m -“

“She’s Luciana Wilkins,” said a familiar voice behind me, and I turned quickly, feeling my heart leap with gratitude at the sight of Lacien.

I hadn’t heard him coming, but then again, no one ever heard Lacien come. He was walking across the road, hands in his pockets, his jacket closed all the way up, contrasting with his pale skin. His eyes were hidden behind strands of black hair, which happened to fall into his face and underline his dark beauty, making his eyes look almost brownish in the dark.

His striding walk was back, save for the slightest of limps to give away his injured foot. He looked aware and awake and dangerous, but something about him was relaxed rather than threatening. The set of his shoulders and the way his back curved back slightly, making him look tall and lanky, which he also happened to be. To my surprise, he wasn’t giving me a disdainful look, but taking in Aleksander with a badly hidden curiosity.

“And you are -?” Aleksander demanded, squinting, though an edge to his voice told me he already knew.

“I’m her babysitter,” Lacien said, crossing his arms at his chest.

“Hey!” I protested.

“What? It’s true.”

“Whether or not it’s true I’ll leave for you to discuss,” Aleksander laughed. “I just want your name.”

Lacien glanced at me, and I sensed his worry like it had been my own. For some reason the realization that he was bothered sent shivers down my spine. Perhaps it was because he never seemed worried about me, or perhaps it was just that I was genuinely scared.

“My name is Lacien,” he revealed, making me gape obviously for a split second.

Was he completely mad? He couldn’t go about throwing our names at strangers like Aleksander. Especially not when they claimed to know what I was. It was high-risk, and I didn’t want to take chances. But Lacien probably didn’t know what Aleksander had told me earlier in our conversation, so perhaps he didn’t think about it because he was in the dark.

If it weren’t for his gaze, I would’ve thought so. But he was clearly aware that something in the situation was off.

“Come along, Luciana,” he said, grasping my arm and dragging me off. “We’re in a bit of a hurry.”

I wanted to protest when I saw Aleksander’s perplexed facial expression change into an understanding smile. Before I could open my mouth, however, Lacien had stopped, in the middle of the road, and looked back over his shoulder.

“She’ll meet you here tomorrow at midnight, but right now we need to get going,” he said, then broke into a run I was forced to follow.

We changed into the darkness and ran along the shadows for a long time until he found someone far away from everything I could feed on. It was an elderly woman, but one victim wouldn’t harm my appearance. It just shouldn’t become a regularity to feed on older humans. And then we headed home soundlessly, saying nothing to each other.

Not until we were inside, that is. Because once we were, Lacien turned to me in the living room, his face serious.

“You’ll stay away from that boy. Understood?”

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