Approximately 6:05 am, 14 July 1977, New York City, NY, USA < < < < < < < < < < < < < < < < < < < < < < < < < < < < < < < < < <
Nick staggered up the final flight of stairs to reach the floor his apartment was on. He was tired, weak, but most of all, hungry. And injured, he reminded himself as he rubbed his wounded leg, but feeding would help with that. Checking first to make sure no one was around, he took out his apartment key, then quickly hobbled down the hallway to his door, managing to avoid the brightest shafts of sunlight he encountered. Much to Nick’s annoyance, the hallway window had no curtains to block out the sunshine and the leafy plant that was currently in front of it didn’t obstruct all of the light.
Once Nick arrived at his door, he pressed against the wall and angled his body so the sunlight hit the shirt on his back rather than his exposed skin. He quickly took the key and shoved it into the lock, turned it, then gratefully swung the door inward. The relief he experienced being in his safe haven quickly evaporated away as bright sunlight burned the side of his face. Instinctively, he put his arm up to protect his head, but that resulted in his exposed arm being burned instead. His fangs partially dropped as he hissed in pain. Nick staggered over to the windows, grabbed the curtains and yanked the cloth over to block the sun. He let his forehead lean into the curtain, and through the material, touched the window glass. He had forgotten entirely that he had left the curtains open, planning to arrive home before sunrise. After a few deep breaths, Nick was able to retract his fangs.
“That was close. I was beginning to worry about you, Nicholas.”
Nick spun around at the sounds of that familiar voice and the front door closing, panic vying with anger. LaCroix. He hadn’t sensed his maker there, though LaCroix could always mask his presence if he didn’t want his children to know exactly where he was. If LaCroix was here, Nick knew there was a reason, which was usually not a good one. And since the sun was up too high to leave, it meant his sire would be there for the day. Neither prospect was welcome to him at the moment, especially given the condition he was currently in. “What are you doing here?”
The elder tilted his head, studying his favorite son while he stepped away from the closed door. Nicholas was visibly hurt, and he could feel the waves of anger and hatred spilling through their mental connection. And underneath that, LaCroix could faintly sense the emotions and thoughts that had claimed his full attention earlier that night. “I happened to be in the city today.”
“Happened? Today?” Nick partially closed his eyes as a small wave of weakness flowed down him; he was still hungry and needed to feed. Not bothering to wait for any response his sire might make, Nick skirted around the furniture and headed towards the kitchen area and the refrigerator. As he passed by LaCroix, he was halted by the elder’s restraining clasp of his upper arm.
LaCroix dropped his hand from Nicholas’ upper arm to the lower arm. Gently grasping and rotating it, he noted the slowly healing burns on the exposed skin, the short-sleeved blue police uniform had been unable to provide any protection for the lower arm. The burns caused by the sunlight coming through the apartment windows partially covered older burns and bruises. Brows furrowed in concern, LaCroix looked up. Nicholas had turned his head away, but LaCroix could see the various faint cuts and bruises still on the skin. “You are injured,” he softly stated.
Nick lightly tugged and was partially surprised that LaCroix immediately released him. He resumed his trek to the refrigerator. “There’s a city-wide blackout and riots. Many people were injured.” He opened the door and reached into the dark appliance to retrieve a bottle. His last bottle. Pulling the cork out, he drank the bovine blood. The next delivery would restock him that evening, and under normal conditions, this amount would have been just enough to quiet his beast until then. No one could have predicted the blackout and all that happened afterwards. Nick dismally realized this one bottle would not be enough, especially if he and his maker engaged in their decades-long tussle whenever they were together. Nick lowered the half-empty bottle. He remembered past times when they had been more amicable, and with a pang of sadness, knew that wasn’t going to happen again.
LaCroix glided over and plucked the bottle out of Nicholas’ hand. He angled it to inhale the stench of the animal blood; his nose wrinkled at the horrid odor. “You know my opinion of this diet when you are in better health.”
Nick snatched the bottle back. “It will do,” he snapped in response.
“You will not heal quickly on that vinegar,” LaCroix knowingly stated.
“Ah,” Nick uttered as he rolled his eyes and head upward, “so feeling my pain is annoying you. I am so very sorry for your distress. I have an idea,” he tempestuously began, “why don’t you disregard it as you do for everything else about me you don’t approve of.” Clutching the neck of the wine bottle, Nick went over and dropped into the dark green wing chair near the curtained windows. He was able to mostly suppress the moan of pain caused from accidentally knocking his injured leg on the chair.
LaCroix picked up the black fiddleback chair that was against the wall and placed it close to Nicholas before sitting down. Choosing to not respond to that last comment, he watched his child drink more from the bottle. “Your physical pain was not the only sensation I received. I felt your distress, your fear.” Nicholas slowly lowered the bottle; his son said nothing but he had detected a shift through their link. “I sensed, as a father, that my son needed me.” Immediately, he felt his child’s barriers solidify.
Nick let out a low growl while letting his anger resonate through their link. “I don’t need your help, LaCroix. I can take care of myself,” he snarled at his maker. He pushed down his memories from that night, hoping his sire hadn’t picked up on them.
LaCroix raised one eyebrow, unsurprised by Nicholas’ continued reactions of anger and stubborn denial of what he needed. “Clearly. As demonstrated this morning by your ability to get from your work in the mortal world to the safety of your abode. Nicholas, sunrise occurred nearly twenty minutes before you even arrived at this building.”
“I was detained at work,” Nick retorted.
Nick looked down and fiddled with the nearly-empty bottle as he tried to calm down; emotions always ran high when he had to deal with this maker. He knew how long LaCroix could wait for an answer, and the day was going to be hard enough without dealing with a stalemate between them. Nick sighed; answering would be easier. “All the police officers injured on patrol had to be checked before clocking out and leaving.” Nick raised his head to look into his sire’s pale blue eyes. “As you can see, I was injured. I thought it better to just let them quickly check me over rather than trying to sneak off and hypnotize everyone. It just took longer than I expected.” His return had also been hampered by the destruction and debris in the streets, making driving difficult. However, flying in the sunlight and being visible to the mortals was not an option. At least in the car he had some protection, both from the sun and the mobs that were still around. Nick closed his eyes and tried to forget the frenzied mobs.
LaCroix felt a faint echo of the sensations from earlier, and realized his son was not yet ready to discuss that. He was, however, prepared to guide Nicholas to the point where his son would acknowledge what he needed. “Speaking of your injuries, how did you acquire those bruises?” LaCroix watched Nicholas open his eyes and saw the flashes of crimson against the slate blue irises.
“The chaos and confusion attracted the vampires in the city. Under the cover of darkness, they were hunting, trying to kill and feed off the humans.” Nick shook his head. “I wouldn’t allow that to happen.”
LaCroix considered carefully how he would respond. Lately, Nicholas had an annoying habit of interfering with the natural behaviors of their kind. However, random killings such as those would have exposed the Community to danger. “So you spent your night protecting: protecting the Community, and protecting the mortals. A laudable activity both groups no doubt needed at this time, and yet both treated you as an adversary, repaying your aegis with injuries.”
“What makes you think I was also attacked by mortals?”
“You are burned as well as bruised,” LaCroix explained. “I saw the fires in the streets, and in the buildings. Mortals made those, not our kind.”
Nick slowly nodded. He was very familiar with the various fires, having watched the rioters set some of them. He also recalled the various groups that had come after him with those flames. To distract himself from those memories, he drained the last amount of blood from the bottle.
“Fire is very dangerous, Nicholas. You do remember my lesson about that?”
Nick shifted in the chair. “I was trying to stop them, I just … sometimes got too close.” He remembered each time that night when he had. “I couldn’t run away,” he softly said, hearing the cracking sounds of the fire and the din of the people again. “I swore to stay and protect ….”
“The rioting mortals,” LaCroix faintly said, knowing this was the most sensitive topic for his child. He watched as Nicholas lowered his arm and the empty bottle over the side of the chair. LaCroix felt Nicholas’ defensive wall in their link finally dissipate, and through the open connection, encouraged his son to trust him and stop suppressing what happened that night. “That must have been difficult for you.” His son stared blankly ahead, releasing the bottle which dropped the small distance the floor landing with a muffled thud on the carpet. “Standing alone as they rushed towards you.” LaCroix rose out of his chair and dropped down onto one knee in front of Nicholas, who had begun to lightly shudder. “You remembered other times.”
Nick nodded, unable to stop himself anymore. He felt the same spike of panic that happened so often that night. Every rioting crowd he had faced had triggered a different memory of past mobs chasing him, hunting him, hurting him. “Yes.”
LaCroix let feelings of safety and comfort resonate through their mental connection. “It must have taken quite an effort to remind yourself that they weren’t really coming for you, coming to kill the vampire.”
Nick finally turned to face his sire. He couldn’t deny it anymore. He knew what had happened throughout the night, and knew LaCroix had sensed it through their link each time: he wanted to be rescued and protected by his father. Nick leaned forward, resting his hands and cheek against LaCroix’s shoulders. “I had to keep reminding myself they just really wanted to loot and fight, not kill me. But the crowd … their anger and fear … the sound of them … it felt like all the other times … and part of me wanted you.” He left out his thoughts that, given their current relationship, he had doubted LaCroix would have come and the loneliness and isolation he felt because of that.
LaCroix enveloped his son and rose up. He had been surprised at that call, that intense need coming from his Nicholas, something he had not felt in a very long time. Combined with the painful injuries, LaCroix’s first concern was if Nicholas had finally been identified and was being hunted. He had rushed to the city as fast as he could, arriving a couple of hours before dawn. Through the chaos occurring due to the blackout, he tracked Nicholas down to confirm Hunters were not after him before finally going to his son’s apartment to wait. LaCroix had known at the time, even though he had been called, Nicholas would have immediately denied and rejected him due to their old animosity. But now, finally, his child was not fighting back and was accepting and acknowledging what he needed. “Come with me.”
Nick didn’t question following his maker, even when they both took off their shoes and sat down on his bed. He knew what he needed, what he wanted from LaCroix, and his father had known and had come to provide it. He allowed himself to be repositioned, laying on his side facing his sire, who was in a similar position.
LaCroix unbuttoned the top part of his dark shirt, pulling the cloth away to expose his neck, then closed his eyes. He felt the mattress shift as Nicholas leaned in towards him. Fingers slightly tilted his head into a better position before two exceedingly sharp fangs punctured through to reach the blood vessel below the skin surface.
As Nick swallowed, he felt LaCroix’s blood flow through him, his injuries tingling with the start of the healing process. His mental connection to his maker strengthened, and his feelings of isolation and separation disappeared. He felt connected and safe, sensations he had been missing for a long time. Not releasing his bite, Nick rolled LaCroix over until he was on top. He continued to extract out the blood while delving deeper into his maker’s mind.
LaCroix felt his child begin to relax as the healing began – both mental and physical. He protectively wrapped one arm across Nicholas’ back while he opened their connection more, allowing their maker-offspring bond to rebuild after atrophying for so long. Then he was released. He opened his eyes to see Nicholas raised above him, glowing eyes intense and a quizzical expression on his face.
Nick thought about what he had found. It was unexpected that his maker still felt that, and that within himself he had experienced an instant intense response. “I didn’t think you still-”
LaCroix reached up and gently stroked Nicholas’ cheek, mindful of the still-healing wounds. “That does not ever change, Nicholas. And neither for you, it seems.” He rumbled in satisfaction at the desire that now pulsated through their link. He tilted his head to the side as his beloved leaned in again towards his neck.
Nick returned to the skin he had bitten, kissing the area instead and continued the kisses across the neck. Once on the other side, he arched up just enough to reach his hands down to unbutton the rest of his lover’s shirt and pull the material open. Nick then tried to remove his own shirt, but his maker soon took over that task. Once the garment was gone, Nick returned to the neck, dragging his fangs across the surface before sinking them in. Rumbling as he savored the desire he tasted in the thick blood, he reached for his lover’s head, pulling it closer to his own neck, encouraging the bite to complete the cycle. Nick shuddered as two long fangs pierced through his skin, but the flow and exchange was now continuous, and he soon lost himself completely in the experience.
LaCroix awoke first, Nicholas’ love and desire still coursing within him. He looked over, seeing his beloved curled around him, head and arm resting on his bare chest. LaCroix carefully shifted to get a better look. Nicholas’ arm looked healed. Reaching over to tilt up his son’s head confirmed the injuries on the face were gone a well. Expertly extracting himself out from under Nicholas, LaCroix gently removed his beloved’s uniform pants and inspected the leg that had been injured. From their sharing, he knew the bone had been fractured during a fight with one of the vampires, but it was now completely healed. He then moved Nicholas so he was lying supine and freed the top sheet. Finishing removing his clothes, he climbed back into the bed, pulling the sheet over them both. As LaCroix laid his head on his beloved’s chest and curled protectively over him, Nicholas woke up.
Nick shifted to accommodate his lover on top of him. Reaching over with his free arm, he draped it across LaCroix while letting feelings of gratitude pour across their mental connection. With the strengthened link resonating with his sire’s response, Nick, feeling safe and content, slowly drifted back to sleep.