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"So this is it, huh?" Erica asked, "the vampire you caught?"

She was playing with Alucard's hair, exploring the golden waves Trevor had spent an hour working through and beautifying this morning. Alucard liked the touch. He closed his eyes and leaned into it slightly. Not enough that his cold skin grazed her hand, incase she found that distasteful. He was supposed to be on his best behavior today.

"Yes," Sypha said. She sat on the other side of the couch Alucard knelt next to.

"He's not what I expected." Erica said. Alucard heard amusement in her voice. Pleasantly warm fingers grazed his forehead and tugged at the single, errant curl there.

"This took a long time," Sypha said, "Trevor, when did you catch him? A year ago?"

Trevor's voice floated in from the kitchen, which felt very far away right now. He called over the sounds of the oven timer. "Almost a year, yeah. Last October."

Alucard repressed a shiver. He remembered the beginning.

"And did you really take his teeth?"

Alucard opened his eyes. He had an audience now, not just Erica but all three of the guests clustered around the livingroom table. Sypha's friends watched him. Erica was amused. The woman on Sypha's other side tilted her head at him. She looked curious. He recognized repulsion in the face of the woman at the far end of the table. Her nose wrinkled. He couldn't blame her. He'd seen that look on Sypha's face before.

Alucard looked to Sypha. He waited.

"Show them," Sypha said.

He heard Erica gasp when he obeyed, unclenching his jaw and pulling his lips back slightly so they could see his teeth.

"Just the fangs," Sypha said, "You can see little gaps where the canines used to be."

Erica grabbed his chin and raised it so she could see. Alucard hadn't been inspected like this in a while. But Sypha had warned him that her friends were curious. And this was nothing. When Sypha and Trevor had inspected him, he'd been naked and in chains, expecting death. Now, he had the luxury of a well-fitted pair of trousers and a fine, if sheer, white button down shirt. He was entertainment, sure, but he understood what was going on and knew what was expected of him. No chains or restraints were needed, just the silver band around his neck. Trevor was more encumbered.

"Poor thing," Erica said.

"Oh, don't get sympathetic," the woman across the table snapped. "This is a vampire we're talking about, remember? A monster."

"He certainly was one," Sypha said, "Raquel's right. Taking his fangs was necessary. We couldn't have him biding his time, waiting for a chance to bite, clinging to the hope that he'd become a bloodsucker again. Close your mouth."

Alucard recognized her last sentence as addressed to him by tone alone. He closed his mouth and ducked his head.

Did he miss it? The hissing demon of his instincts told him he did. He'd been ruled by that once. Now he was ruled by Sypha. And he was content. He had never been able to satisfy his thirst. No amount of blood letting and killing could placate it. He'd tried for centuries. But Sypha he could satisfy. Trevor, he could satisfy. And the comforts of a household were a lovely bonus.

"So does he talk?"

Alucard raised his head.

"He can," Sypha said, "Alucard, introduce yourself."

He cleared his throat. "Good evening. It's a pleasure- to meet you all."

The curious woman next to Sypha raised an eyebrow. "It sounds like talking hurts him."

Alucard winced. That wasn't completely true. He'd fallen out of the habit a long time ago, was all. And sometimes a twinging, stabbing ache would start in his jaw. Phantom pains, Sypha had called them. His body and brain remembering the trauma that had been required to remake him. He preferred not to speak. Trevor talked enough for both of them.

Sypha's guests turned their heads when Trevor brought in appetizers. He set a basket of rolls on the table. They smelled warm and overwhelming to Alucard.

"Can you help me grab the rest?" Trevor asked.

Alucard looked to Sypha for permission. She nodded. He rose and stepped after Trevor into the kitchen.

"You doing okay in there?" Trevor asked. His voice was less than a whisper, something only Alucard could hear over the clink of china as he placed bowls on a tray. "You seem a little overwhelmed."

"Okay," Alucard said. He could speak in an easier, broken way with Trevor. He knew he'd understand. "Just, people."

"This is why I don't take you with me to the grocery store," Trevor said, disregarding all the other, very good reasons he didn't bring Alucard along.

Alucard nodded.

Trevor put the tray of bowls in his arms and took a platter of drinks himself. He spoke into Alucard's ear as he passed him. "Let me know if you need a break. I'll knock the minestrone into Sypha's lap. Then I'll be the center of attention."

Alucard shivered. The tiny motion rattled the bowls in his arms. That would be quite a show. He understood that Trevor would enjoy it, even if he was whimpering and begging for mercy. Alucard would too, if he didn't have an audience.

As they returned to the living room, Alucard caught himself recalling the immeasurable darkness with which this had all started.


 

(past)

He was an apex predator. Wild, hungry, dangerous. Whatever this human intended by tracking him, it was their deadly error.

Alucard left an obvious trail of dripping blood from his latest kill. Let it go on for a mile, dumped the carcass in a clearing, and slipped into the tree line to circle back.

If there was a twinge of guilt in him as he looked back at the body slumped over and still oozing blood into the shadowy grass, he had long since learned to drown it in the sweet red sea of animalistic satisfaction he'd cultivated under the veneer of a human-shaped body. He was invincible. He was immortal. He was unmoored from anything that could cause him more pain. These deaths did not weigh on him. Nothing could anymore.

He stuck to the deep dark under the trees, slowing just enough that his footfalls were silent. He caught the hunter's scent in less than an hour. The night was still young. He'd have plenty of time to return to his coffin after he'd killed this pesky interloper.

A wiser hunter would have brought reinforcements. They would have started their hunt closer to dawn. Alucard smirked at this one's arrogance. At least the hunter had managed to follow the trail he'd laid out for them. They weren't going to die lost in the woods. They would die at Alucard's hand.

Alucard followed their trail. The hunter left patches of smells behind them. Alucard's nose twitched at the smell of silver, harsh and lingering in the air. They'd come armed at least. Not an utter fool. Just hopelessly outmatched. Under the metallic scent of their weapons, Alucard caught traces of the hunters own smell. Something about it got Alucard's heart beating faster. His pace increased. A twig cracked underfoot. Alucard hissed and paused.

He had just fed. Was he thirsty again? Was he that insatiable? Well, the hunter's blood would quench that. Yes. Kill the hunter. Feed. Sleep. He purred.

Alucard fell into step behind the strangely alluring trail. He heard the hunter before he saw them. An elevated pulse, muffled breathing, the sloppy crunch of gravel and leaf litter underfoot.

Alucard gulped down excitement. When had a kill last excited him? Not for centuries. He swooped in.

The hunter swore and turned. Their reflexes were good. They managed to get a shot off before Alucard reached them. Alucard registered a tiny pain in his shoulder. Not enough to interfere with his leap.

The hunter rolled out of the way at the last moment. Alucard's hand swiped at their coat. Barely an impact.

Alucard paused. His arm was numb. He looked down. A dart was sunk into his shoulder. He snarled and tore it out. He smelled silver. Technology. Ugh. Giving humans the illusion of superiority over the world. It was meaningless. A paltry dose of silver would barely slow him down.

"Fucking bloodsucker," the hunter said. There was another snap of a trigger. A second nip of pain. This one was at Alucard's leg. He ripped it out immediately. He laughed.

"Shit," the hunter said.

Alucard leaped for them, ignoring the cross they raised. Dimly, he recognized the rough, swearing voice. But his own desire was a much stronger feeling. He pinned the hunter to the ground and ripped the hood of their coat away to expose their neck.

Alucard saw their face. He froze.

A flesh and blood double of Trevor Belmont lay under him. He was the same man down to the minutiae; the stubble around his jaw, the defiant blue eyes, the scar on his cheekbone. He wore the same irritated scowl Alucard had seen on his long dead lover's face.

Long dead. Alucard blinked. Trevor was almost five hundred years dead. Humans died. Their lives were brief and meaningless and Alucard had born the blow of losing every one of them, one after the other until he had chosen to seal off his heart. And here the man was, like a ghost, his first love.

Something pricked Alucard's chest. He looked down. Three darts, all clustered near his heart.

"Take that you motherfucker."

"Belmont," Alucard tried to say. It came out as a gurgle. He collapsed and lost himself to the senselessness of silver.

 

His senses returned to him in snatches. It reminded him of a moving picture he'd seen once, scene after scene strung together, barely coherent and oddly flat. He saw the forest floor heaving and swaying under him. He heard Trevor panting and swearing. He smelled his sweat and the overpowering reek of silver.

He registered stillness before he understood it. How much time had passed? He was somewhere dark and grey. Underground perhaps? Wherever Trevor had brought him, they'd arrived.

A new voice filtered in. It forced Alucard's eyes open. It couldn't be.

"Well," Sypha said, "You certainly found a pretty one."

There she was. The same mousy brown, short cropped hair curling around her face. Her features were soft, but her mouth was a hard line Alucard had never seen before. Her arms were folded. She looked so strange dressed in jeans and a baggy shirt.

"He's old, I think," Trevor said, "took four of your damn darts to bring him down."

"My 'damn darts'?" Sypha asked. Even Alucard heard the warning in her voice.

Trevor gulped. "That I am very grateful for."

"Better," she said, "Well, let's see. Strip him."

Alucard felt warm hands even through the numb cold that had paralyzed him. He might have moaned if his brain had any control over his body.

Trevor pulled off his shabby, ancient overcoat. He tore the silk shirt underneath from Alucard's chest. Alucard managed a faint, angry hiss. That shirt was one of the last nice things he owned.

"If you don't like that, vampire, you're really gonna hate what happens next," Trevor informed him.

He didn't bother with the belts around Alucard's hips. He took out a hunting knife and sliced through them before cutting away the material of his pants.

Panic settled frigid in Alucard's lungs. How would he escape without his clothes?

Trevor restored the hunting knife to his hip. He dragged off Alucard's boxers with the nearest thing the man could manage to gentleness.

"My my," Sypha said.

"Yeah," Trevor agreed, "Pretty is the right word. Where do you want him?"

Alucard's senses were failing again. Panic and rage overwhelmed them. These were not the humans he'd known and even if they were, they were not people who had any reason to suffer a vampire. That they had accepted him centuries ago had been a small miracle during a terrible time. Now? The fact that he was alive and not a pile of ashes was not an indication of goodwill. They wanted something from him. Sypha's cold stare was particularly ominous.

His eyes closed again. Warm hands dragged him across cold stone- no, too smooth- cold concrete. Chains rattled close by and the sound reverberated in his mind. His senseless arms were pulled over his head. His legs were pulled apart. Something shifted and itched at his throat.

Alucard struggled with the numbness. He'd fed hours ago. He should be able to burn off the silver. He fumbled with his senses, trying to stretch out feeling into his extremities. His arms and legs were useless. Between his legs, however, something else was responding very strongly to the situation he was in. Alucard managed a hiss again. Of all the useless, embarrassing human responses- it was Trevor's proximity, his smell, the feel of his hands. He had been a painful daydream for so long. Alucard had writhed in his coffin, wishing that part of him that grieved and lusted in equal measure would just die. This doppelganger was pure, sweet torture.

Alucard was wrong, of course. The torture hadn't started yet.

"Here," Sypha said, "Gag him."

Hands pressed into the sides of Alucard's face. In his silver addled state, it felt sweet and affectionate, even as thick plastic straps were pulled taut across the nape of his neck, pressing something sturdy feeling into his mouth.

"Is this sick fuck enjoying himself?" Sypha demanded.

Alucard wished he could transform into mist right now. Or a bat. Or a wolf. Or maybe just burst into a pile of bloody ash. Anything would be better than this, laying here with nothing except his cock throbbing between his spread and exposed legs.

Trevor chuckled. "Vampires can be into some weird shit."

"Damn. This will be so much less fun if he's going to enjoy it."

"I'm sure you'll still find a way to make him suffer," Trevor said.

"Well, yes," she said. The word was spoken with such finality and certainty that Alucard shuddered.

Something crackled. It was electricity, right? Humans loved that stuff.

A searing bolt of pain struck Alucard's cock. He howled into the gag and strained the restraints on his wrists.

"I don't think you understand the situation, vampire. You do not have any control- least of all over your own body."

Sypha's hand moved back to his balls. Alucard shuddered.

"He doesn't know the rules," Trevor said. He sounded meek and exhausted.

Sypha held his very tender parts between her fingers. He held still, bracing himself. In what strange nightmare situation was Trevor the sympathetic one?

Sypha paused. "Can you understand me, vampire? Nod your head if you can."

Alucard nodded.

"Right then. The life that you knew is over. You are my prisoner and my toy. And as desperate as your situation might seem now-" a hint of malicious satisfaction seeped into her voice. Energy hummed into her hand around his balls, overwhelming but not yet painful. "I can make it worse at the slightest notice."

She twisted. The current of energy increased. It started to burn. Alucard whimpered.

"Disobey? Try to escape? Threaten me, or Trevor? I will punish you. I will put you through the kind of pain that human bodies break under."

His balls cooked in her hand.

"Have I made myself clear?"

And because she had, and her smoldering hand was on his balls and he was terrified of what she would do if he disobeyed, Alucard nodded.

"Good."

The hand was removed.

"Clean him up, pet. I'm going to bed."

Alucard dared to turn his head. She was addressing Trevor, who sat to the side, his arms folded, a bit of sympathy playing around his face. Sypha straightened. She moved to him and kissed his forehead. "Try not to wake me when you come in."

"Yes miss."

She left.

Trevor chuckled. "Well, bloodsucker, I'd say your lucky to be alive. But I get right now you're wishing I'd just staked you." He stood up.

Something squeaked nearby. Alucard turned his head, confused, and then recognized the mechanical sound. He tried to follow Trevor's movements. The effort of keeping his head raised made his shoulders shake. He heard a hiss.

A stream of icy water pummeled Alucard's chest.

"There's a drain under you," Trevor informed him, "Try not to block it."

He held the hose over Alucard. He soaked the dirt and blood off Alucard's face before spraying his chest and legs clean.

Alucard had just enough composure returning to glare at him. He was soaked and shaking. He'd been stripped and humiliated. And he needed to communicate with just his eyes that if he ever got out of this predicament, he would return this treatment with interest.

"What? Do you want to kill me? You were gonna do that anyway."

Trevor started the water again. He set the flow over Alucard's scorched cock and balls. Alucard hissed, and then sighed. The cold was a tiny relief.

Trevor turned off the water. He restored the hose to its place in the corner. He ran a hand through his hair. "Well, try to survive the night, won't you? We worked hard to catch you."

Alucard snarled through the gag.

Trevor shrugged. He headed towards the stairs, the way Sypha had gone minutes before. "Night."

Chapter Text

(past)

Mortals. Insolent, cruel, sadistic dopplegangers. The ideal fiends to occupy Alucard's personal hell. Not Trevor and Sypha, he schooled himself, just some kind of curse inflicted on him. Perfectly designed

Although after the first evening, his chief tormentors were thirst and the unforgiving concrete.

He coldly calculated the layout of the room. It was a basement. That was obvious now. He regularly heard footsteps overhead; Sypha's light footfalls and Trevor's heavier steps. The set of stairs that lead up into what he assumed was a proper house were in plain view, if out of his grasp. There was a small, high set window on the otherwise bare wall beside him. The opposite wall was taken up by two large, white metal boxes.

If he could get out of the chains, he could search the boxes for weapons and clothes. He'd spent most of his first day wrestling with the manacles, the spreader bar on his ankles, and the thin circle around his neck. They were all solid, silvered steel. They not only resisted his superhuman strength, they undermined and suppressed it. The spreader bar was the worst. He couldn't find a comfortable position. It left him constantly exposed. On day two, he figured out a slightly better way to lay. By twisting his hips and splaying his legs apart at the knee, he could work with the bar and keep his thighs together. It was neither comfortable nor dignified, but it meant he could keep his treacherous, human cock securely tucked between his legs.

Trevor returned the third day. Alucard was starting to panic. He was thirsty. He snarled at Trevor through the gag. Trevor shrugged. He loaded clothes into one of the metal boxes on the other side of the basement. He set it whirring and sloshing. He returned twice that day without so much as looking at Alucard. On the second trip, he retrieved the clothes.

Alucard swallowed fear. He needed blood. Needed clothes. Needed this infuriating gag out of his mouth. Needed to stop pulling at the arm restraints- he'd nearly dislocated his shoulder already.

He needed to sink his teeth into the neck of that delectable, false Trevor. He'd kill him immediately and then torment the Sypha imitator. Maybe rip her fingers off one by one.

There had to be a way out. He was not going to smoulder here as some mortals pathetic prisoner. He would go mad from thirst alone. Besides, if Trevor's proximity had done this to him, awoken so many old fantasies and instincts he thought he'd buried forever, he didn't want to stay and discover more weaknesses in himself.

A coffin. He needed his coffin. He needed to sleep. But all of these statements of fact led him to the same thing. He needed to get out of the restraints that dulled his strength and suppressed his magic. He'd discovered that the silver band at his throat was particularly troublesome. It hummed and quelled any spell he tried to cast.

Silver. That was the problem. He puzzled out the solution on day four. The back of the gag was not silver. The metal in his mouth was, but the straps of the damn thing were plastic. Plastic could be broken, right?

He sidled up the wall behind him, twisting in the restraints to get his hands behind his back instead of above it. It was painful. For one jarring moment he thought he'd gotten stuck. Then he got his hand turned the right way again. The chains eased and he was sitting very awkwardly against his arms.

Plastic could be broken.

He pressed the back of his head to the rough concrete. He nodded his head up and down. The plastic strap caught on the rough surface. He could wear it down like sandpaper. It would be a wretched, tedious pain. But he had something to work towards now.

While he worked, he pictured what he would do to his captors.

When Trevor came down the steps on day five, Alucard tried to give him a look that was dull and defeated.

Apparently it worked. Trevor grinned. "Really gonna break that easily? Sypha has big plans for you today. Won't be as fun if all the fight's left you already."

Alucard looked down. He tried to keep his face blank while he processed that lovely, frightening tidbit of information. Sypha would come to see him. That would be his best chance. If he threatened to bite Trevor, there was not guarantee that it would be enough to secure his release. But Sypha? He was pathetically devoted to her. With her life on the line. he'd be much more persuasive.

"It doesn't have to be misery, you know. Well, maybe it does. But some of the misery is fun."

Alucard stared at him. Trevor sighed. "Just play nice with her, alright? You might like it."

No, Alucard decided. He was going to make this fake Trevor's death long and slow. Maybe he'd kill Sypha off first. Or, better yet, turn her at the last moment. Have her helpless under his will. They could feed on Trevor together.

Yes, maybe that would do some small justice to the rage that sent him trembling like he was still shivering from the silver, the cold and the awful bath.

Sypha came for him that night. That was better than he could have hoped. Nighttime meant an easy escape. She padded down the steps carrying a shallow wooden box.

Alucard held himself very still. He had one chance to get this right and it was paramount that he kept it together. He couldn't betray himself now. He hoped his stillness would be attributed to fear or cold. He hoped she couldn't hear his old heart beating faster as she approached.

Sypha sneered. She sat down and set the box beside her. She was so warm and so near. Alucard couldn't just hear her blood pumping, he could feel her heartbeat vibrating through the floor. He would have her very soon and taste the fear and regret in her blood.

"Has Trevor told you what I'm going to do with you?" Sypha asked. She opened the box.

Alucard glanced down at the box. He hissed. Syringes. He smelled silver.

"No?" Sypha said, "Well, I'm going to try some different doses on you. Clearly the current darts aren't potent enough."

Alucard watched her bring out a vial. She loaded the syringe. She considered him cruelly.

"Your cooperation is appreciated- but I suppose it isn't required. Just hold still, if you know what's good for you."

Alucard did what he was told. He waited. She leaned over him, bringing the syringe forward. She looked down.

Alucard lunged forward. The broken gag fell away. He spat it out of his mouth. His bare lips were on her neck in a fraction of a second. He let the tiniest edge of his fangs press into the soft flesh of her neck.

"Drop," he said.

The syringe fell from Sypha's hands.

Alucard ran his tongue over the thrumming, suddenly terrified pulse of her neck. He could kill her right now. But it wouldn't get him free.

He rattled the cuffs at his back. "Unlock."

Sypha gulped. "You bastard."

Alucard chuckled. He sank his teeth just a fraction into her neck. If she so much as twitched, it would break the skin. Speaking was always strange for him, and cumbersome with his mouth over her neck. He managed words anyway. "Release me."

Sypha retrieved a key ring from her pocket. She fumbled with them before finding a small, silver one.

"Faster," Alucard said.

"This is difficult with your fucking fangs at my neck," Sypha hissed.

Alucard licked her throat again. She shivered. His hands rattled free. He stretched forward, gripping her short hair to keep her neck at his mouth.

"Legs," he said. He brought his knees in.

"This isn't going to work," Sypha said, "Trevor will stop you- again."

"Hunter? I'll enjoy. K-killing him."

She freed his legs. "You're a monster."

"Yes," he said. He draped himself over her, keeping his mouth dangerously close. "Get up."

She rose. Alucard's very stiff legs found purchase on the floor. He wrapped an arm over her shoulder. His other was still twined in her hair.

"Collar," he said.

Sypha paused. She looked him in the eye. "I don't have the key for that."

Alucard snarled. He should flay her right here. Right this moment. But he'd still have Trevor to contend with and killing her now denied him the satisfaction of torturing her later.

"Fine. Stairs."

They started up the steps. Alucard heard Trevor close by. He slammed the door at the top open. Alucard squinted into the light. He grabbed Sypha's throat for good measure.

"Fucking hell," Trevor said, "Let her go, bloodsucker. If you hurt her-"

Alucard sank in his teeth. Sypha screamed. Twin, narrow streams of blood started down her neck and into her shirt. Alucard resisted the temptation to just drink now with all of the strength of his rage. He wanted to sink into it. He smelled her fear. He smelled Trevor's fear. He felt powerful again. But if he could wait just for a moment, it would all be so much sweeter.

"Sypha!" Trevor called.

"Collar," Alucard hissed at her.

"Trevor," Sypha said through gritted teeth. "I need you to get the key for his collar."

"I can't fucking-"

"Trevor," Sypha said.

He slammed his first into the doorframe. "I'll have your head you fucker." He stepped out of the way. Alucard heard him storm into a side passage.

"Move," Alucard said.

Sypha mounted the next step. Alucard followed her. They were almost out of the basement. He was so close to being free. He just needed clothes and the damned collar off. Then he could have his revenge.

Alucard put his foot on the final step. White light flashed through him, rending his body like lightning. It was instantaneous, before he could even bring his jaw down. A deafening chorus of bells rang in his ears. He was crucified, transfixed, held in divine light.

Holy magic holding his body in place, Alucard realized. This was a trap that he could have sense if he'd bothered to look, hadn't been so occupied with his revenge.

"Trevor? Change of plans. Get my first aid kit. And some cuffs."

He felt Sypha slip out from under his grasp. His arms were immobile and buzzing with divine energy in front of him.

"You're gonna wish you hadn't tried that," Sypha told him.

"Sypha, are you okay?"

"It's under control," Sypha said, "Apparently we need a better gag."

Alucard couldn't see, but he heard Trevor returning.

"Fucking bastard," Trevor hissed.

"Bandages, Trevor. Then you can rage."

They were so close by. He had gotten so close. He felt Sypha's blood drying on his lips and chin, agonizingly near and utterly out of reach. There was nothing he could do except wait, his body twinging strangely in the rapture of the spell, blind and barely able to hear over the chanting.

"Right," Trevor said, "Do they hurt?"

"Only a little. He didn't bite hard."

"I don't like it. He could've killed you. W-why didn't he?" There was a pause and then a loud sniff. "Fuck. Sypha- he coulda killed you."

"We knew this would be dangerous," Sypha said quietly.

"Yeah but, if this happens again-"

"That's why it can't," Sypha said. A tone like steel slipped into her voice.

"Do you mean?"

"Yes. Get him tied down."

He heard them moving. He tried to keep track of Sypha and follow her light footsteps as they moved away. But Trevor was suddenly beside him. He was distracting. He grabbed Alucard's arms and chained them together behind his back.

"Proud of yourself, bloodsucker? That was your last chance."

He was sinfully close again. Alucard felt his breath as he moved down to his ankles. The warm proximity of his body was sweet even though it meant certain pain and humiliation. Trevor jerked his feet together and locked them in place. He rose. He gripped Alucard by the throat.

"If you had managed whatever you were planning- if you had killed her, turned her- there would be a stake through your foul heart right now."

He knocked Alucard down the stairs. Alucard bumped down every step and just managed to curl in to keep his head from cracking on the concrete.

"Arrogant mortal," Alucard spat. He sat up. "You can't- won't keep me- here."

Trevor started down the stairs after him. "You don't have a clue. You have no idea what's in store for you."

"Kill you," Alucard said, "Both. Slowly."

Trevor stepped off the stairs. He kicked Alucard back to the floor. Alucard reeled. He tried to rise again and felt pain in his scalp. He looked up. Trevor had stepped on his hair to keep him down.

"Then why didn't you?" Trevor asked.

"What?" Alucard said. He squirmed, trying to get his hair free and feeling it rip.

"Why didn't you kill us? You've had a chance at both of us now."

"Collar," Alucard spat.

"Sure, for Sypha," Trevor said. He took his free foot and placed it on Alucard's neck. "What about me, in the forest? Why didn't you kill me?"

He pressed his weight in. Alucard spluttered.

"You clearly have no qualms about killing," Trevor said, "Far as I can tell, you don't give a fuck about human life. We might as well be insects to you. So why? Didn't? You bite?" He jammed his foot into Alucard's throat with each question.

"Fuck you," Alucard wheezed.

Trevor leaned his foot in. He looked up. Alucard followed his gaze. Sypha stepped down into the basement. She had a plastic box under her arm. She held something else between her fingers, gleaming metal from the light upstairs. A square of gauze covered the side of her neck.

"Hold him down," Sypha said.

Trevor shifted so his knee was on Alucard's throat. He spluttered. The pressure was overwhelming. He could hear his own, weak pulse in his ears.

Sypha swooped in. The metal contraption flashed as it was lowered and fitted over his face. It bit into his lips and gums as it forced his mouth open.

Alucard hissed. If this was the new gag, it was poorly designed. It kept his mouth open instead of closed, his fangs bared. He could lung in and bite if Trevor's leg wasn't crushing his windpipe.

Sypha fastened the straps. Trevor eased off enough that Alucard could breath. He gasped.

"Stabilize his head," Sypha said. She opened the plastic box. She glanced briefly at Alucard. She wrinkled her nose. Her hand reached up and touched the gauze at her neck. "I'll tranquilize you if you squirm."

Alucard looked back. The syringe, loaded with silver, was laying a few feet away, by the shackles where Sypha had dropped it.

Trevor wrapped his hand through his hair and sank the full weight of his body under Alucard's chin.

Sypha brought out a pair of pliers. She stared at Alucard.

"This isn't a punishment, vampire. This is a consequence. The punishment will come after."

She brought in the pliers. Alucard spluttered, confused and crushed. Sypha clamped the tool around his right fang.

"No!" Alucard managed. It came out as more of a muffled, choked cry.

"Huh," Trevor said. He leaned harder onto his throat. "Never seen one of these fuckers scared before."

Alucard went completely still. Sypha had the pliers clamped on his fang. If he squirmed or fought at all, he might rip it out himself.

"P-please," Alucard tried.

Sypha smirked. "Get fucked." She jerked her hand down.

Pain ripped up Alucard's jaw, far deeper than he expected. It felt like a piece of his brain was torn out. He howled.

Sypha held the dripping pliers up to the light. She considered the fang. "Longer than I would have thought."

Alucard whimpered.

Trevor chuckled, "Poor bastard."

Sypha tucked the fang away.

Alucard was turning purple under Trevor's knee. Everything was blurry. He could barely hear, barely think over the declaration- no- no- no in his mind, please no. Sypha leaned in over him. She brought in the pliers.

"Right. This is the end, vampire. You will never hurt anyone again."

She laughed at the rusty red tears that seeped from the corners of his eyes. The plier teeth ground onto his fang. She adjusted, savored, and yanked.

Afterwards, she tested her tranquilizers on him. Then she beat him.


 (present)

His head was resting on Erica's leg. The guests had moved on to new topics of conversation over dinner. Amber and Raquel started arguing about who would replace their current boss, who had evidently retired. Alucard felt sleepy and safe. Erica kept brushing the side of his face. Trevor sometimes joked that he was more like a cat than a person. He certainly enjoyed being pet.

Sypha intervened. She shook a spoon at Raquel. "Nope. I will have no work talk here. I'm sure HR will announce a replacement soon."

Conversation drifted. Amber talked about her new girlfriend. Raquel and Erica discussed holiday plans.

"What about you, Sypha? Seeing family?"

Sypha shook her head. "Not this year. Not with these two to look after."

Trevor arrived with dessert and coffee. "Look after? We'll be fine. You should go see your sister."

Sypha gave him the we'll-discuss-this-later look, but merely accepted the mug he offered.

Alucard sighed. Trevor settled beside him, more like a proper participant at the party except that he was sitting on the floor. He got to eat with the rest of them. Alucard didn't envy Trevor much, but he envied him that. He could just eat. His diet was not a continuous source of stress and discomfort. The cooking was also squarely Trevor's domain. The last time he'd been entrusted with any kind of food prep, Alucard had set fire to a bag of popcorn. After that, Sypha kept him on cleaning.

Erica massaged a small circle around his temple. Trevor's leg brushed into his own. Okay. He didn't have it so bad.

"So what do you feed him?" Erica asked.

Alucard gulped. He raised his head and looked at Sypha. Underneath the table, Trevor found one of his hands. He squeezed it.

Sypha smirked. "Menstrual blood."

"Oh," Erica said. She looked down at Alucard. "That works?"

Alucard nodded and ducked his head.

"It takes the edge off for him," Sypha said, "Trevor, you're the hunter. Can you explain?"

Trevor squeezed his hand tighter. "Vampires are immortal. They don't need to feed like we need to eat. It's more like an addiction. Bat boy here had done a very good job controlling his demons."

Alucard's lip twitched at the ridiculous nickname.

"Well that's an interesting coincidence," Erica said.

"What is?" Sypha asked.

Erica took a drink of coffee. Her cheeks were slightly pink. "Oh, it's that time of the month, for me."

Sypha narrowed her eyes at Alucard. "Is that why you've been so friendly with her?"

Alucard gulped. "No." He looked at Erica. "Didn't mean- I'm sorry."

"Don't be sorry. Here I was cursing timing, thinking I wouldn't get any action tonight." She looked at Sypha with an evil grin. "Or is he on a strict diet- you only?"

Sypha snorted. "I have no objection, as long as he's okay with it."

"Alucard?" Trevor asked into his ear.

He looked over. He leaned into Trevor.

"Tell me what you want- not just your thirst. Would you like her to play with you?"

Alucard met his eyes. It was hard to seperate what his thirst and his body wanted. They'd been merged for so long. But he liked the way Erica touched him. He liked the way she smelled. And he wanted.

Alucard nodded.

Chapter Text

(past)

"This is pathetic," Trevor said.

Alucard didn't raise his head. He hadn't in days, even after the tranquilizers had worn off. He'd been wrapped in a small blanket. The only thing keeping him attached to the wall was a chain connected to his collar, and two more at his wrists.

Trevor had stuffed a rag into his mouth to help with the bleeding. That had been at least a week ago. Alucard hadn't bothered to keep track. He lay there with a now unquenchable abyss of hunger yawning out under him. He didn't know what waited for him at the bottom of the pit.

Death? Would it be death? That was the only thing left to him now, other than wasting away from starvation and lingering, a wretched, powerless corpse.

"Oi," Trevor said. He kicked between Alucard's exposed shoulders. "Yeah. You lost your teeth. Get over it."

Alucard let the kick roll him onto his back.

"What? All mopey, cause you don't get to kill people anymore? You sick fuck?" He tore the rag out of Alucard's mouth.

Alucard closed his eyes. Maybe if he just tried hard enough, he'd fall asleep without a coffin.

Trevor sighed. He set down. "Look. Do you want blood or not?"

"Can't feed," Alucard whined.

Trevor snorted. He pulled a plastic bag out of his pocket. He ripped it open.

Alucard raised his head. He smelled it; old, foul, corrupted blood, and not much of it. But it was blood nonetheless. He looked over. The action of just getting his head up sent him shaking. He was ridiculously weak. Lifetimes ago, he could have gone this long without blood and scarcely noticed. But he'd become acclimated to regular feeding. He'd gotten spoiled.

Trevor fished a crimson soaked, bullet shaped bauble of coton out of the bag. A thick red drip hung down as he lifted it out by the string.

Alucard narrowed his eyes. It was strange blood, old and thick but still somehow fresh. And it wasn't just blood; he smelled tissue and fluids he didn't want to think about. He would never drink blood this foul.

Except he was suddenly shaking desperately, wide eyed and panting at the chance for some tiny bit of blood.

Trevor held it out and Alucard reached forward instinctively to catch the drops before they could fall. His arms rattled. He couldn't reach. Red dripped onto his blanket.

"Open up," Trevor said. His eyes glittered. He was enjoying this. It was probably hilarious to him.

Alucard let him drop the soaked cotton into his mouth. It was lukewarm and revolting. But it was blood. The shaking in Alucard's chest stopped immediately. He wrapped his tongue around the cotton and pressed it to the top of his mouth, squeezing out liquid blood. He closed his eyes.

"I want to see how much you heal. You'll get the blanket back in a minute."

Alucard didn't respond. He was barely following the words. He sunk into the tiny, pathetic high and sucked the fabric dry.

Trevor unpeeled the blanket from his chest and legs. He pressed a hand to the mass of bruises on Alucard's chest, the byproduct of the punishment Sypha had promised him. Alucard felt them fading as his body responded to the blood and started to restore itself. His breathing became less painful, which meant the damage Trevor had done crushing his neck was also being healed.

Even Alucard's miserably scorched balls finally started to recover. He sighed.

Trevor whistled. "Regeneration, huh?"

Alucard said nothing. His eyes flickered open.

"Right," Trevor said, "Open your mouth. Spit it out and let me see your teeth."

This was a strange kind of high. He was used to feeling powerful. This made him feel soft and compliant. He did what he was told, spitting the now light brown cotton into Trevor's hand.

Trevor wrinkled his nose and put it back in the plastic bag. Then he inspected Alucard's mouth.

"Your gums have healed. But the fangs aren't coming back. What would that be- regeneration but not regrowth? Like, your flesh will knit back together, your organs will heal, but you can't regrow bone?"

Alucard stared at him blankly. He wasn't going to make it easier for them to torture him.

Trevor shrugged. "Right. Close your mouth. Here." He wrapped the blanket back around his hips. "Nice chatting with you." He stood up. "I'll be back tomorrow."

And he was. He returned the next day with another blood soaked cotton bauble. They were a mystery to Alucard. Had they been dipped in blood? Where was Trevor getting them? Was what he smelled as Trevor opened the bag correct- the same blood as he had smelled when he'd bitten into Sypha's neck? How had it gotten so foul?

On the third day of this, Alucard asked.

"Sypha?" Alucard said after he'd spat it out.

"Well yeah," Trevor said, "I'm not gonna go through other woman's trash."

"Woman's trash?" Alucard repeated.

"Oh god," Trevor said. He waived the drained cotton in front of Alucard's face. "You know what these are, right?"

Alucard narrowed his eyes. Being patronized by mortals was almost as irritating as, well, everything else he'd gone through. "It's cotton."

"It's a fucking tampon," Trevor told him, "Y-you do know what a tampon is, right?"

Alucard glared.

Trevor leaned back and cackled. "Sweet jesus. Have you actually been living like an animal for the past, I dunno, fifty years or so? You don't know-" his worlds dissolved into laughter.

Alucard scooted away from him. He curled his legs up and wrapped the blanket around more of his body. The chains on his arms were frustrating, but if he sat close to the wall he could bring them forward and wrap them around his knees. It was becoming his preferred position.

"Maybe you're happier not knowing."

The realization dawned on Alucard all at once. His stomach clenched and he gagged. Just once, he'd murdered a woman who was pregnant and, curious, had bitten into the soft, swollen lump of her stomach.

Alucard wretched. He could recognize the similarities, the taste of flesh and mucus as well as blood. He bent forward, expecting and almost hoping to vomit. But the tiny amount he'd drank stayed down. He was thirsty enough that he would, in fact, keep the foulest blood imaginable down.

"Menses?" Alucard squeaked.

Trevor brushed amused tears out of his eyes. "That's the stuff, yeah. It's nice and simple, don't you think? No blood shed or pain. Well, she's had terrible cramps today, but I guess that's not your fault."

He grinned. He petted Alucard's head. "It's like you're vegan or something. Isn't it nice, to think you're not hurting anyone?"

Alucard made a rude gesture at him. Then he blinked. "Vegan?"

Trevor guffawed again. "Fuck. How old are you?"

Alucard snapped. "I am half a millenia old, Belmont. I am ancient and powerful and I will not be reduced to- to- to-". He winced. Anger dissolved into pain. He clasped his jaw as spasms cascaded from his upper gums down through his mouth.

When he looked back up, he expected Trevor's amusement again. Instead the man stared at him, his head cocked to one side. "Belmont?"

Alucard gulped. He retreated so he could cover his mouth with his hands.

"Trevor, are you done down there?" Sypha called from the top of the stairs.

Trevor shook his head, as though shaking the thought away. He stood up. "Coming Miss!"

 

He was going to go insane. He'd counted all the cracks in the pavement. He kept track of when he heard a door had been opened and closed upstairs, one hundred and thirty two times so far. He used his fingers to feel out the thread count of the thin blanket.

What was next? Should he count the bumps in the floor? That might actually take eternity.

He was contemplating where to start the count when the basement door opened. One hundred thirty three.

Trevor came down the stairs. He had a white plastic basket of linens at one hip and a kind of jug in his hand.

"Morning," he said.

Alucard gulped. Trevor approached him, not the large white boxes in the corner. Had he found Alucard out? Was he about to ask about the long dead name, Belmont?

"Hand me the blanket," Trevor said. He extended his hand.

Alucard clutched it. It was literally the only thing he had. It had holes in two places and it was splattered with blood, but it felt like it was his.

Trevor sighed. He sat down.

"I'm just going to wash it," Trevor said, "It needs it. You do too, actually. A proper cleaning with soap."

Alucard winced. He pointed at the hose in the corner.

Trevor's brow furrowed. "You hated that, didn't you?"

Alucard nodded.

"Okay. I have a deal for you," Trevor said, "You give me the blanket. I'll ask Sypha for the key, change you into some lighter restraints, and you can have a bath upstairs. How's that sound?"

Alucard bit his lip. Trevor could simply tear the blanket away from him if he refused. He looked up the stairs. "Spell?"

Trevor followed his gaze. "The holy ward? I can carry you over it."

"Okay," Alucard said. He handed the blanket over. If this was a trap, well, he was already trapped.

"Thanks," Trevor said. He added it to the basket of other, nicer linens. He crossed the room. Alucard's blanket was loaded in with the rest.

These machines cleaned, then? Alucard had been too angry to pay attention last time. He watched, curious, as Trevor poured a measured amount of what smelled like perfume into the contraption. Trevor closed the small, circular door, fidgeted with dials and set the machine whirring.

"Okay," Trevor said. He got to the stairs and took a deep breath. "Gonna text Sypha now. Uhh, wish me luck?"

Alucard wondered what a text was. He gave Trevor a weary thumbs up.

Trevor was gone just long enough for Alucard to wonder if it had been a cruel lie after all. Finally, he returned with cuffs Alucard recognized and a gag he didn't. The straps looked thicker than plastic this time.

Alucard tilted his head. "She a-abuses you."

"Sypha?" Trevor asked.

Alucard nodded.

Trevor shook his head. "She abuses you." A dreamy look came over his face. "She controls me. Plays with me. Indulges me."

"Why?" Alucard said. He tried to imagine the Trevor he had known asking permission for anything.

Trevor sat on his haunches. He hobbled Alucard's ankles together. "Dunno. I was a mess before we met. And she kinda kicked me out ot it." He looked up. "I don't deserve her to be honest. And you certainly don't."

Alucard snorted.

Trevor's hand snaked up. He grabbed Alucard's throat. His eyes were suddenly hard. Alucard gasped.

"Careful," Trevor said. He bared his teeth, "I know you hate her- how could you not? But you will respect her. Or I'll just get the hose after all."

Alucard's arms rattled as he brought his hands up to his neck. He ought to pry Trevor's fingers off. But he couldn't reach. The restraints kept his hands just out of use.

"Understood?"

Alucard nodded.

Trevor let go. He grabbed Alucard's arms and chained them. "I think I like it better when all you can do is nod and whimper."

He got behind Alucard, forced the gag onto his face and freed his hands from the chains connected to the wall.

"Get up."

Alucard clambered to his feet. He was graceful, but not in steel restraints that barely let him move his legs a foot apart. He hobbled forward and Trevor strode after him. He tripped over the chains and his own, numb feet almost immediately. Trevor reached forward to keep him from falling.

"Fuck you're cold," Trevor said. He steadied Alucard. Then he sighed. He picked him up.

Alucard melted into him. Intimacy and contact were something his cold, traitorous body wanted desperately. He rested his head on Trevor's shoulder with a moan.

Trevor shook his head. He started up the stairs. Then he hissed. He paused, gripping Alucard tightly.

Alucard dragged his head up to look at him.

"You- you don't feel cold, right?"

Alucard stared at him. Then he buried his face back in Trevor's warm chest.

"Crap. Have we been freezing you?"

Alucard nodded into his shirt.

"Shit," Trevor said. He adjusted his grip on Alucard's thighs and continued up the stairs. "All right. Warm bath. Then we can figure something out."

Alucard felt his grip on Trevor's shoulders go slack. He was filled with thrumming, chanting energy and blinding light. It passed as Trevor stepped out of the basement, leaving tingles in Alucard's limbs and spots in his vision.

All he wanted was to lay in the warmth of Trevor's body and the absence of pain. He couldn't will himself to keep track of the turns they took. He had no fangs. He wasn't going to be able to escape.

Trevor opened a door and warm steam flooded over Alucard's back. He shivered.

Trevor plopped him into a tub. The heat worked into Alucard's body immediately. It was almost painful. He slid as far into the water as he could.

Trevor turned, making to leave, and then paused. He pulled a small key out of his pocket.

"Give me your wrists," he said.

Alucard held out his hands. Trevor unchained them.

"Soap and shampoo are in the corner. Do your best with your hair. If you can get it clean, I can get it untangled."

Alucard nodded.

Trevor left him to soak.

Alucard could have spent eternity soaking in the water. It wasn't until it started to cool that he even considered Trevor's instructions. He recognized soap as the bar in the corner. Beside it, there were two tall, plastic containers. Alucard narrowed his eyes at them. He opened them in turn and smelled them both.

What was shampoo, exactly? They both smelled like perfume, and underneath that like pungent chemicals whose purpose Alucard couldn't guess.

He settled for scrubbing his body pink with soap, and trying to lather suds into his impossibly tangled hair.

Trevor returned to find him struggling with a rats nest in his hair that had gotten caught in the gag. He sighed.

"Alright, first off," Trevor said, "Shampoo. You could at least try to follow instructions." He grabbed the white container from the corner. He knelt beside the tub and poured gel into his hands.

"Put your head on the edge of the tub," he said.

He draped Alucard's hair over the side and began to work the perfumed gel into the ends. He separated the tangles that had gotten caught in the gag. He was patient-- more patient, Alucard thought, than the Trevor he had known. And he was grateful. He loved his long golden hair. When was he last able to clean it?

Trevor worked his way up from the ends. He brought out a comb, and regularly ordered Alucard to dunk his head back into the water.

Alucard sighed. He tried to relax. He didn't want to think about the variety of compromising positions he'd been in around Trevor. He pictured Trevor's hands moving down from his hair to his shoulders, across his chest and then teasing him as he worked across his body. He imagined Trevor speaking in his ear as he grazed his cock or toyed with his balls.

Alucard couldn't stop himself from picturing it; from wanting him. He shifted in the tub, bringing his legs together and close to his body to hide his excitement. Alucard ground his teeth into the gag. If the point of his captivity was to be taken advantage of, would they please just do it instead of leaving him cold and confused?

Trevor worked his hair into a braid.

That was it, wasn't it? The extent to which being a prisoner had already addled his mind. He didn't want to be tortured or humiliated or used until he pictured Trevor doing it. But anything was better than being left alone to shiver and despair.

"Feel better?" Trevor asked.

Alucard nodded.

At Trevor's instruction, he reluctantly stepped out of the bath. His hair was a thick, damp braid down his back.

Trevor handed him a towel. Once he was dry, Trevor carried him back into the basement. The temperature dropped with every step they descended. Alucard caught himself sinking further and further into Trevor's hold. He didn't want him to leave. He didn't want to be cold again.

Trevor deposited him on something softer than the basement floor. Alucard looked down. He was sitting on a small, circular bed that Trevor had placed beside the wall. It was cold, but it didn't steal the heat from his body the way concrete did.

"An improvement, right?" Trevor said. He rechained Alucard's wrists and collar, then freed him from the gag and the chains on his legs.

"Blanket?"

Trevor laughed. He retrieved the blanket. The bloodstains had been washed out. He tossed it to Alucard and Alucard gasped when the cloth settled on his arms. It was warm.

He wrapped himself in the blanket. "What are those?" he asked, pointing at the large white boxes.

Trevor sighed. "Okay. Someday when I have time, we're gonna have a serious conversation about whatever rock you've been living under- and for how long."

He returned to the boxes. He rapped his knuckles on the first and it clanged, metal and hollow. "Washer. For clothes. And this is the dryer." He pulled the rest of the linens out of the second machine and loaded them into the plastic basket.

"For now, I need to start dinner. Sypha's home in an hour. She'll be starved."

 

That night, he returned for Alucard with more blood. After he'd fed, Trevor offered him something else.

Alucard gulped at the book he extended to him.

"Go on, take it. You need something to do or you'll go nuts," Trevor said, "Not like it's a bible or anything."

It wasn't. Alucard could tell that much. The cover was brightly colored and inviting. Beyond that, Alucard couldn't begin to guess what Trevor was offering, like he couldn't puzzle out the shampoo and conditioner labels in the bathroom.

He put up both hands, surrendering. "Can't read that."

"Well, you could at least try. It's my favorite detective series."

Alucard met his eyes. "Can't read."

"What?!"

Alucard gritted his teeth. Maybe he was more like an animal than a person after all.

"You can't read?" Trevor demanded.

"A little Latin," Alucard said quietly.

"Oh my god," Trevor said. He put his head in his hands, "I don't believe it. You can't- how old did you say you were?"

Alucard sighed. "What year is it?"

"Fucking hell. That bad, huh? You're illiterate. Fuck." He shook his head. "How did you survive this long?"

"Doing fine before," Alucard started. He stuttered, "before caught."

Trevor's look turned dark. "You mean when you were going around killing people?"

Alucard sneered at him. "My nature."

"Your thirst, you mean," Trevor said, "That's forced you to live like an animal- so much that you apparently can't read or speak."

Alucard hissed.

Trevor took back the book. "Maybe Sypha's right. We should keep you in a cage."

He left for the night.

 

Alucard shifted when he heard the door open the next morning. He squinted up into the light flooding into the basement. He hissed.

A set of light footsteps worked down the stairs. He traced Sypha's silhouette as she got closer. She paused at the bottom step. She glared into the gloom.

"What the fuck?" she said.

Alucard curled away, unsure how he was supposed to respond to that. Last time he had seen Sypha, she'd used syringes full of silver on him, and then kicked him savagely to see if he could still move. And somehow, in spite of that, she still seemed angrier to see him than vice-versa.

"Idiot," Sypha spat. They turned back up the stairs. "Trevor. Get down here now."

Alucard gulped. He heard Trevor come running.

"Is something wrong, miss?"

"Yes," Sypha said, "A few things in fact." She folded her arms.

Trevor appeared at the top of the stairs. He ran down them and skidded to a stop between Sypha and Alucard.

"Why isn't he gagged?" Sypha asked quietly.

Trevor sighed. "I gave him a rag for the bleeding. And after that I thought, with no teeth-"

Sypha rubbed her temples. "I shouldn't have left you in charge of him."

Trevor bristled. "Meaning?"

"You've gotten attached," Sypha said, "You're starting to see him as a person."

"He was a person once."

Sypha took in a breath. She started to say something, and paused. "Just fix this, Trevor. Get the gag back on him. Take away the blanket and-- is that a dog bed?"

"He can feel cold, Sypha."

"Yes, I expect he can. That's the point." She started to walk away.

"Sypha, hold up. Barbell."

The nonsense word caught her attention immediately. Sypha turned around.

"I thought the point of this was to study a vampire. Not torture one."

"Well, yes. Torturing one is a nice bonus."

"You can't-- look. This isn't a game; this isn't like what you and I do. He can't consent. He's a prisoner, and prisoners get treated better than this. We treat animals better than this."

"If he were a human," Sypha said, pointing at Alucard, "he'd be on death row. If he were an animal, he'd be put down. Don't get sympathetic."

Alucard shivered. He clutched his blanket more tightly around him.

"But if we're not killing him," Trevor said, "Keeping someone like this is dangerous."

"Yes. Especially if you've let him out of the gag."

"Do- do I g-get a say in this?"

Sypha and Trevor both looked over. Trevor gulped. He stared at Alucard and shook his head, mouthing no. But Sypha smirked.

"Sure. Let's hear what the vampire wants to contribute to this. Since apparently he deserves to have a say."

Alucard cleared his throat. If he had one chance to speak before he was gagged again, he had to make it count. He took a deep breath, hoping he could speak without stuttering.

"I know both of you."

He winced. The words came out strangely when he tried to speak them. Sypha raised an eyebrow.

"Or I- knew you- people who looked l-like you? Seemed like you? A v-very long time ago."

Sypha snorted, "And did you kill them?"

Alucard looked at her. He shook his head.

"Wait a minute," Trevor said. He sat down beside Alucard. "That's why you didn't kill me. I'm that-- what name did you say?"

"Belmont."

Trevor narrowed his eyes. "Why does that sound familiar?"

"You- he was a vampire hunter." He gulped and looked over at Sypha. She still had her arms folded. She grimaced when he looked at her. "The Sypha t-that I knew had magic. Not just lightening. Ice and fire. A-and she was a talented healer."

Sypha tilted her head. "Do you have any evidence of this?"

Alucard's eyes widened. "From people who d-died hundreds of years ago?"

Sypha shook her head. "Trevor?" she said.

Trevor looked over at her.

"Let's talk upstairs. We'll figure this out."

Alucard leaned back. He clutched to the blanket and closed his eyes and listened to them leave. And in a strange way, he felt more vulnerable than he'd been before; more vulnerable, in fact, than he'd been in hundreds of years.

 

When Trevor returned, he was weary. Alucard could have attributed his slow steps to exhaustion. Maybe that could have accounted for his quietness too. But Trevor simply sat there, just out of Alucard's reach, shaking his head.

"Sypha?" Alucard asked.

"We talked," Trevor said, "You, uhh, certainly took us by surprise. I have some questions."

Alucard raised his head. Trevor was hard to read. He didn't seem angry, but he kept fidgeting with his hand.

"What do you think is going on here?" Trevor said, "I mean, if what you said is true-- and I don't know why you'd tell us such a weird lie-- then you don't just think it's a coincidence. So- what? Are we reincarnations of these people?"

Alucard shrugged.

"Who were they, exactly?" Trevor asked.

"Told you," Alucard said, "hunter. Mage."

"But that's not it, is it?" Trevor said. He grabbed a fistful of his own hair and tugged, frustrated. "I was trying to figure it out. What business would you have knowing a vampire hunter-- except as a mortal enemy?"

"Trev-vor?"

"And I thought at the beginning that you were just a whore. And maybe you are. But that isn't why you are so into me, is it?"

Alucard hissed, "Shut up."

"That's it, then? You didn't bite- not cause there's some tiny shred of humanity, or mercy, or remorse in you- but because I remind you of your dead boyfriend."

"I- is that why I'm here?" Alucard said, "You think you can- domesticate me?"

"Dunno," Trevor said, "Maybe we can't. Gotta say though, the alternatives aren't great for you." He stood up. "Something to think about, right?"

He pulled out a gag and approached Alucard. "Sypha insisted. She'll be down to see you tomorrow, so you can complain to her. If she lets you."

Alucard grimaced. But he dipped his head, letting Trevor attached and tighten the gag.

Chapter Text

(present)

"So does she keep you locked up?" Erica asked.

Alucard was curled in her lap now, his hair cascading across the sofa. Her fingers lightly explored his back.

"No?" Alucard said. He hadn't needed to be locked up in months. Sypha's punishments had become softer, and more devastating.

Trevor chuckled nearby. "She's asking if you're in chastity."

"Oh," Alucard said. He looked up. "No."

"Really? Sypha, I thought that you, well-"

Sypha smirked. "He doesn't have the same dirty habits Trevor does."

Trevor looked up at her. He stuck out his tongue.

Amber- Alucard was starting to match voices to names- laughed. "Oh, he's bratty. What does he get for that? The cane?"

"If I punished every little act of defiance, neither of us would get anything done," Sypha said. She grinned at Amber. "But you could punish him for that, if you like."

Amber blinked. A wicked smile swept over her face. "Alright. Trevor, come to me after you've cleared the table."

Trevor gulped. He started to pick up plates.

Alucard reluctantly raised his head. He had responsibilities, after all. "Trev? You need?"

Trevor shook his head. "I've got this. You're the entertainment, remember?"

He left the living room with the dishes, and an evil grin that only Alucard could see.

"Entertainment?" Raquel said.

Alucard gulped. He looked at Erica. "May I? Get up?"

Erica withdrew her hands, allowing him to rise. He got off the sofa and stood where all of Sypha's guests could see him.

Raquel, however, looked over at Sypha. "The vampire is entertainment? How?"

"Well, have you ever noticed that vampires have this reputation for being attractive?"

Erica's eyes were on Alucard. "He is very pretty."

"By design," Raquel said, "To lure his victims close."

Sypha shrugged. "Maybe before, when he could hurt people. Alucard, show them what you've been practicing."

Alucard gulped down nerves. He checked his posture. He bowed deeply to Sypha. Then he brought his hands up, tracing up his own body until he reached the buttons on his shirt. He started undoing them.

Sypha had taught him this. She wanted him to strip demurely, is a way that made it clear he was putting himself on display for the consumption of others. He remembered to bite his lip as he shrugged his shirt off his shoulders. He heard the response of his audience- Erica's gasp when he'd slowly revealed his chest, Amber's whistle. Even Raquel's heart rate rose.

He dropped the shirt and presented his naked torso to them, displaying what he knew where attractive features even now, when his tiny intake of blood had diminished his muscles and left him lean instead of strictly muscular.

"Twist your nipples," Sypha said.

Alucard whimpered. She would insist on making this difficult, on teasing him so her guests could see his excitement even before he took his pants off. He explored his chest and found the small, sensitive pink nubs. He twisted one between his fingers and bit his lip again, savoring the sharp pain. He pinched the other harder than he intended from nerves and let out a moan.

After that it seemed so easy and organic to bring his hands across his torso and down to his hips. He slid his long, delicate fingers to the button on his trousers and looked up through the curtain of his hair.

"May I, miss?"

They were all staring at him, including Trevor, whose hands dripped from the handwashing forgotten in the sink below him. Sypha was gaping at him, taking him in even when she'd seen this whole show before; even when she kept him practically naked around the house.

"Miss, may I?"

"Yes."

Alucard closed his eyes. He unbuttoned his trousers and slipped them off in a series of slow, deliberate twists of his hips. He stepped forward, out of them, and then did what Sypha had instructed. He turned his back to them and inched himself down to grab his discarded clothes. He practically felt eyes on his ass as he bent over.

He picked up his pants and shirt. He straightened by degrees, taking it as slow as he could without falling over. Then he turned back around, holding the clothes to his body, shifting his legs nervously.

"Would you like t-to play with me, miss?" he said, trying not to wince at the stutter that slipped in.

There was a long enough silence that Alucard considered looking up. Then something crashed in the kitchen.

"Sorry!" Trevor called out. Alucard heard him running the water again. It didn't sound like he'd broken anything.

To Alucard's relief, the noise acted like a cue. Amber whistled again. Erica laughed. "Damn. Yeah, he is very pretty."

"Vampire?"

Alucard shivered. He looked over at Raquel. She used one finger to beckon for him.

"Do you mind, Erica? I'll tenderize him for you."

Erica laughed. "As long as he can still lick."

Alucard took a step forward. Raquel held out a flat hand, pausing him instantly. "Drop your clothes and crawl to me."

Alucard sank to his knees. He left his things in a pile and walked his hands forward. He crawled to her, practically feeling Erica and Sypha's gaze on his ass.

How was it that Sypha made him feel like a toy? He was less than an animal. He was an object to be used.

"Alright. Sypha, how can I hurt him?"

Sypha leaned back. Alucard heard satisfaction in her voice. "However you like, really. He heals, so nothing will cause permanent damage. I've tried. Just don't rip out his hair."

"Good to know," Raquel said. She paused Alucard directly in front of her with another gesture. She wrinkled her nose. "But I'm still not sure I want to touch him."

"Can I propose something?" Amber asked.

Even Alucard turned to look at her. She went slightly pink. "Have Trevor pick out two implements, one for you and one for me. And we can pick which sub gets what."

Raquel's eyes glittered. Alucard shivered.

Sypha twisted and called into the kitchen. "Trevor, did you hear that?"

"Yeah."

"Well, then you'd better get moving. The dishes can wait."

"Yes miss."

"Alucard?"

He turned his head as much as he could manage without moving. Erica stood over him. Her lip curled. "Is this frightening for you?"

Alucard nodded.

"Are you scared Raquel is going to do terrible things to you?"

He gulped.

"He should be," Raquel said, "I may have an axe to grind."

Alucard heard Trevor hurrying into the hall. He hadn't realized how reassuring Trevor's proximity was. Trevor could look after him, speak for him. Trevor almost understood him and in his absence, having so many hungry and curious faces considering him was terrifying.

"Awwah," Erica said, "Why don't you lay your head in my lap? I'll pet you while Raquel does mean things to you."

Raquel chuckled. "That would put him in a very interesting position. Alright, vampire, turn around."

Alucard twisted. He sank his face into Erica's lap and presented his ass to Raquel. Already, she was kneading his cheeks with her nails.

"Can I strip him?" Raquel asked.

"Yes."

A finger raked across Alucard's spine, caught his waistband and dragged his boxers off.

Alucard groaned into Erica's thigh. His exposed cock leaked a drop of precum onto the floor. If he could have concealed it before, now his excitement over being displayed and teased was evident to everyone.

Amber whistled again. Alucard sank his face further into Erica's lap. Sometimes, he wished he could blush. Trevor's face was lovely when it was bright red, when he was flustered and overwhelmed and moaning. But right now, Alucard was grateful he couldn't show his shame.

"Oh, one hard limit though? You don't get to fuck him," Sypha said.

"Possessive, Sypha?"

Sypha chuckled. "You could say that."

Alucard shivered. He appreciated Sypha's lie. Or maybe it wasn't a lie. Maybe she wanted him all for herself. But sex was complicated for Alucard. That kind of sex anyway. He'd spent so long satisfying himself with bloodlust. Being fucked was overwhelming. He usually couldn't handle it.

"Will these do, ladies?" Trevor asked.

He'd returned and his proximity helped Alucard relax again. He slipped into an exciting sense of helplessness. Whatever was going to happen to him simply would, and he merely had to ride it out. Afterwards, Trevor would be there to scrap him off the floor.

Raquel and Amber considered the toys.

"Erica, would you do me a favor?" Trevor asked gently.

Alucard heard a soft, silver rattle. He sighed, feeling the rest of the tension leave his body.

"Can you tie this around his wrist?" Trevor asked, "And then put the bell in his hand?"

"Of course," Erica said. She put the steel bauble in Alucard's waiting hand, and tied the ribbon lightly to his wrist. "Is that his safeword then?"

"Yeah. He's not- you know. Words are hard."

Alucard nodded.

"Now, if you'll excuse me," Trevor said, "I, uhh, have to go present my ass to Amber."

A cascade of tingling pain struck Alucard's back. He grunted. He'd gotten distracted. That was dangerous with an armed woman behind him.

"Interesting," Raquel said, "Now what happens if I flip it over?"

Alucard tensed reflexively. It was a traitorous instinct, ensuring that his muscles would keenly reverberate each strike through his body. He tried to breathe deeply and loosen up.

Erica cooed over him. She ran her fingers through his hair. The touch was so soft. Even Trevor was rarely soft with him. Alucard melted into her. He loosened up just in time to take three quick swats on his ass.

He still cried out when the silver studs on the flogger hit his skin. A few more strikes like that, and he'd have pink welts. Sypha had hit him with it fifty times before, each strike dutifully, breathlessly counted and properly appreciated. After that, he hadn't been able to sit down until he'd next fed.

"Oh," Raquel said. Alucard shuddered at the distaste in her voice. "He heals."

Nearby, Trevor was getting a similar treatment. Alucard heard his grunts and gasps. It sounded like he was being paddled. Alucard wondered which toy he'd picked. He hoped it was the brutally thick, oak paddle. If Trevor had picked one of Sypha's eviler toys to use on him, it seemed only fair that he suffer too. It was exactly Trevor's taste, to pick the cruelest implements Sypha had.

Well, no. Certainly not the cruelest.

"Does he get more talkative when he's hurting?" Raquel asked, "Does he scream?"

If Sypha responded, Alucard didn't hear it.

Trevor was already starting to whimper. He had a far lower tolerance for pain. This made sense to Alucard. His body was breakable and healed more slowly. For Alucard, pain was like every other sensation, exciting and alien to his resistant body until a threshold at which it became unbearable.

Raquel rose. She had figured out the twist of her wrist that allowed her to strike with the flogger repeatedly, maintaining momentum. Alucard gasped at each hit. His skin was turning warm and red and delicate. Apparently, she was going to find that threshold.

Alucard shuddered. "Mis-s Erica?"

The studded leather moved back to Alucard's ass. He groaned and sank deeper into her lap, appreciating the warm press of her leg to his face. Erica squeezed her thighs around him. He was so close to her, and the denim of her jeans was an infuriating barrier.

"Yes?" she asked.

"May I wo-worship you?"

She laughed. "Of course."

Alucard gingerly kissed the inseam of her jeans.


 (past)

As Trevor had warned, Sypha came for him the next day. She had no syringes this time, no implements of torture. Or was she planning on giving him paper cuts with the contents of the file under her arm?

Alucard shifted, curling himself into what felt like a less vulnerable position, covering as much of his body as possible with the blanket.

Sypha dropped the file in front of him. "Take a look," she said.

Alucard peeked up at her. She was terrifying, more so than normal with her hands held stiffly at her sides and a sharp glint in her eyes.

Sypha sighed. She raised a hand and arcs of lightening started to jump between her fingers. "Look at them, vampire. Or I will start zapping you right now."

Alucard reached for the folder. He opened it. Inside, there were glossy pieces of paper that he recognized as photos. He spread them out in front of him, and counted seventeen. They were all of different humans. Many of them looked like portraits, although he understood that these had been mirror images captured and rendered by technology instead of by a painter's brush. The four that were not portraits were more candid; a woman caught in the act of smiling, a man holding a dog, a young woman pointing up at some landmark, an older man leaning against a tree with the backdrop of a forest behind him.

Alucard narrowed his eyes. He looked again at the photo of the old man. He picked it up. If he imagined the forest background draped in shadows, with wind hissing through the towering fir boughs before it was overshadowed by a frail cry as he'd knocked his quarry to the ground- If he tried to piece together the face he'd seen for a fraction of a second underneath a layer of dirt and fear- If he pictured that.

"Harrison Culvers," Sypha told him, "Although I guess his friends called him "Roy". Odd things, nicknames. He loved that hiking trail." She bent forward and venom dripped from her mouth. "Do you remember him?"

Alucard put down the photo. He scanned the others. Had it really only been seventeen?

Sypha grabbed him by the braid and dragged his face up. She brought her other hand, hissing with static, to his face. "Do you remember killing him?"

Alucard gulped. He nodded.

"He hiked those trails for 23 years," Sypha said, "His friends said he always helped folks who got lost on the McCleary loop. They were the ones who set up a search for him. They paid for the memorial service; closed casket, because you fucking ripped him to shreds. At that point, we knew these killings couldn't be an animal. They were too deliberate, frequent, consistent."

Sypha paused for a breath. She tugged harder at Alucard's braid, jarring his head back and pulling hair from his scalp. Alucard winced.

"Do you feel the weight of so much senseless death on your conscience, vampire? Do you have any sense of it?"

Alucard looked up at her blankly. A lie wasn't going to save him or endear him to her. So he shook his head.

"I grieved for every one of these people," Sypha said. "I tried to save six of them, who we found in time. I viewed the bodies of the rest when they were brought into the morgue. These people had families and stories and lives that you stole from them for nothing- less than nothing, for your pathetic thirst."

"I can't make you mourn. But I'm going to make sure you remember every name and every face."

She stood behind Alucard and the static in her hand was very close to his ear. She unlatched the gag.

"Let's begin with Roy," she said. She shifted, and a crackling line of static struck Alucard's neck.

"S-sadistic bitch," Alucard spat.

Sypha laughed. "Interesting choice, in your position."

She sunk her hand directly into his scalp and Alucard screamed.

 

"I've never been able to keep up with you like that," Trevor said.

Alucard was sprawled out on the floor, twitching and still gasping from the pain.

"He didn't have a choice in the matter," Sypha said. She picked up the file. They'd been working on Melanie today. They'd gotten through five people- five memories Alucard was vaguely able to reconstruct, five dutiful recitations of names and identities. Five excruciating evenings, whenever Sypha had time after work.

It was utterly pointless. He was not human and he was not going to mourn. He didn't feel those things anymore. He just felt pain.

Vaguely, he recognized that Trevor was standing over him. Sypha had walked away. He heard her going up the stairs.

"You should be proud of yourself," Trevor told him.

Alucard heard the basement door open, and then close. Sypha was done with him. He got to pick himself up off the floor and return to the small comforts of his blanket and the tiny bed. Except that he couldn't feel his arms.

"You took a lot of pain there."

"I-" Alucard started. He gulped down panic. "Can't move."

"Shit? Really?" Trevor said, "Can't you heal, or?"

"No blood," Alucard said, "No blood, no blood, no blood." He closed his eyes and willed his fingers to move. Nothing happened. He tried to wiggle his toes and felt nothing.

Panic came back, overwhelming his chest and bubbling up. Alucard started to laugh. "Can't move. Can't feed. I can't-- anything."

"Okay, here," Trevor said. He grabbed the blanket and wrapped it around Alucard. He dragged Alucard onto the bed and put a hand over the covered part of his chest. He pressed gently, and Alucard's giddy laughing calmed.

"I think you're panicking," Trevor said. He locked Alucard's collar back to the wall. He leaned Alucard onto his chest.

"Why?"

"I reckon this is a very normal response to being repeatedly shocked," Trevor said.

"No," Alucard said. He sank into the warmth of Trevor's chest with a frustrated hiss. This was the best-worst part, the infuriating relief that Trevor offered after Sypha was done with him. "Why d-do you do this?"

"Aftercare, you mean?" Trevor said. He picked up Alucard's numb left arm and kneaded his bicep. It felt like Alucard's arm was full of wet sand. But it was some kind of sensation returning.

Alucard twisted his head around. He searched Trevor's face again. He was trying to understand. All he read was focus in the line of his brows. His scowl could mean anything. "Why?"

"Maybe I'm just fixing you up so Sypha can break you again," Trevor said.

Alucard shivered. He hadn't thought of it that way before. But he knew that the thing he desperately wanted Trevor's care to mean was just a dream.

"Or maybe," Trevor went on, "Sypha and I have very different ideas of what we're gonna do with you long-term."

He worked down Alucard's arm, relaxing overloaded nerves. Alucard's fingers twitched.

"Long term?" Alucard could barely visualize past this exact moment and the meager comfort of being touched. "S-she wants to kill me?"

"Well, yeah," Trevor said. He moved his hands to Alucard's other arm.

"You don't."

"I think if you learned how to serve and obey, you could be useful. And I think you're gonna go nuts stuck down here with nothing to do except hurt or pine for me."

"You want me t-to be a slave?" Alucard said, "Like you?"

Trevor chuckled. "Something like that, yeah. Can you move your arms now?"

Alucard stretched them out. He nodded.

"Right. Legs," he said. He worked feeling into Alucard's legs swiftly, refusing to comment on Alucard's small moans. He stood up too soon, leaving Alucard loosened up and warm and wanting more.

"Okay, I have an idea. I'll be back."

He went up the stairs and returned after a few minutes with paper. Not Sypha's files of Alucard's victims, nor another book, but plain, blank paper.

"You ever drawn before?" Trevor said.

Alucard accepted the paper he offered, and a flat board to put underneath. "Yes. Long time."

Trevor handed him a pencil. "Just, I dunno. See if it distracts you, or something. Gives you a safe place to be in your mind."

He restored Alucard's gag almost apologetically. That was the part that made Alucard strangely angry. All these little apologies and accomodations needled at him. They made no sense. They made Alucard hate him, because they strung out his hope.

 

Alucard drew. He drew until the graphite was completely worn down. Then he used his nails to sharpen the pencil again.

It filled up time. He etched tiny, intricate patterns into the paper; a thousand teardrops, interconnected and shaded, wrapped around the idea of his inescapable thirst.

He'd been a monster. Powerful. A lord of the curse, drunk on blood. And before that, he had been a fool, not heeding the incompatibility of human life spans with his own til it was far too late; until he had fallen for them, the real Trevor and Sypha, long gone now.

What was he supposed to be now, with no teeth? He didn't want to die. He could picture it easily; Sypha coming down the stairs with a stake in hand. He felt the wood at his heart, the ghost of it threatening him.

Could he really fear death, when he'd brought it to so many?

He'd run from that contradiction for years, and now he was truly trapped with it, with the faces and names of a handful of his victims branded into his brain. It was not just the seventeen Sypha had identified, but the countless multitudes before. If he held the golden memory of Trevor and Sypha in his mind- those humans, like a holy charm, burning and healing, did that mean human life was sacred? How could he reconcile having loved them and grieved for them with having sent so many others to their deaths?

He hadn't. Alucard had cleaved himself in two, and consigned the part of him that was most human to do what all humans did eventually; die. He buried his love, a plethora of carnal desires, his memories of his early life. It was all a dream that he had woken from when he had discovered the inevitability of time.

He would have gone insane from grief. But his thirst had billowed out before him and offered an alternative.

Alucard spread six pieces of paper out on the floor. He collected all of the pencil shavings into a pile. He considered his work. It was a senseless pattern, a representation of thirst and nothing more. He had thought of nothing but satiating his thirst for so long. Now, he had no control over it. Withdrawal loomed, an agonizing promise that sent shivers through his body and threatened to rip him open.

Now he had other desires, ones that Trevor had reawakened in him. If the part of him that lusted like a man was still alive, was the rest? His ability to love, or grieve? The foolish dream of a young vampire who'd believed he could live with humans? A version of him that was articulate and refined, contemplative? Had those survived too?

Chapter Text

(present)

Alucard's back and ass were raw and red. He focused on breathing through the strikes and dutifully worshiping Erica. She seemed amused by his ministrations; light, adoring kisses on her thighs and calves. She put her palms in front of his face, then her fingertips. He kissed both.

"What about this?" she said.

Alucard groaned when she put her bare foot in front of him. His cock dripped again. He'd have to clean the carpet. Tomorrow. Right now, her foot was close to his lips. It was rich with smells; sweat and dirt. He inched his head forward and kissed her big toe.

Raquel struck again, hitting both his cheeks and sending vibrations in some interesting, infuriating directions. Alucard gasped. His lips grazed Erica's skin. He tasted her. He wanted nothing more than to have her foot jammed into his face. He wanted her warm, pulsing skin, the humiliating reek and the dangerous awareness that her flesh was close to his teeth.

Someone above him tutted. It wasn't Erica. He knew this disapproving sound, and knew to fear it.

"Forgetting the rules, pet?" Sypha said. Her voice was mild, but the warning was still clear.

"S-sorry," Alucard groaned. He raised his head. He addressed Erica, who seemed confused, and then looked up at Sypha.

Even Raquel paused. "What's going on?"

"He's not allowed to open his mouth like that. Not when he's so close to someone," Sypha said, "And he knows it, don't you?"

Alucard lifted himself into a position on his hands and knees. He shivered. "I didn't mean to-"

"It was my fault, I think," Raquel said, "I struck him. He gasped."

Sypha shook her head. "You have a safeword for a reason. If she was hitting you too hard, you needed to use it." She reached into her pocket, and pulled out two gags.

"Forgot myself, miss."

"Forgot yourself?" Erica asked.

Alucard turned back to her. "I ca-can't trust my instincts. I shouldn't have- I'm sorry."

"You weren't going to hurt me," Erica said, "Sypha, I'm sure he wasn't going to."

"I believe you," Sypha said. She held up the gags. "Here, Alucard. You can pick. You'd have ended up in one of these anyway."

Alucard sighed. He considered the gags. The smaller one was more comfortable, but he pointed for the wider ring. He'd accept a sore jaw if it meant he could properly use his tongue wherever Erica deemed to put it.

"Would you like Erica to put it on you?" Sypha asked.

Alucard nodded. "P-please."

Sypha handed Erica the gag. She looked over at Raquel. "Sorry to interrupt. You're doing a great job with him."

Raquel chuckled. She ran her hands over Alucard's tender ass. She sunk her nails in. Alucard whimpered.

"Uhh, Alucard?"

He considered Erica. She was going to destroy him tonight, if Raquel didn't ruin him first.

"Will it make you make you sick, if I make you lick my feet?"

Alucard shook his head. "No. "

She held up the gag. "I'm going to put this in your mouth. And then I'm going to make you worship me. Understood?"

"Yes miss. T-thank you."

Erica smiled. She caressed the sides of Alucard's face before attaching the gag.


(past) 

Blood. It dripped from the walls. It pooled around the small bed, seeped over his back. Alucard whimpered. He was too warm, which was impossible. He was sweating. He tore the blanket off of himself and shivered. Blood pulsed everywhere around him and his body curled in on itself, shriveled into nothing, wanted.

They were watching him. Both of them, these silent observers. At first, he thought it was just one figure, slipping across the peripheries of his blurry vision. Was it Trevor? No. Trevor wasn't here; he was upstairs. He was in another life. He was long dead.

No, the first one watching him was the demon. The monstrous predator circled, its claws silent on the concrete floor. Alucard couldn't follow its pacing, but he could smell it. The fiend was the blood, dripping from its claws and muzzle, matted into its bristles. Blood was in its red eyes as it leapt onto Alucard's chest. It met his gaze and growled.

He wasn't the demon. He had let the demon consume him. And now it had nothing to feed on. It was furious. It snarled. It tore into Alucard's stomach.

He had nothing. No blood left, and this vicious predator wanted nothing less than absolute depravity and greed. It continually hungered and he could never sate it, even with his freedom and his fangs.

What good had the demon ever done him?

It snarled and yapped and demanded satisfaction. Alucard looked up at it blankly. It was already ripping him apart. When would his thirst discover that he had nothing? And what would happen to him when it did?

The second figure was far more subtle. It was a flash of tawny gold in the corner of Alucard's vision. It was the smell of soap and pine in the air, under the raw reek of blood that broiled in Alucard's mind.

If he ignored the demon, he could see him.

A man in white- impractical for his nature. He considered Alucard through the long, perfectly maintained waves of his blond hair. He wrinkled his nose. He leaned against the back wall and stared down at Alucard as judgemental as a god, as perfect as a dream.

The demon snarled at the man in white. Alucard did too. He raised his middle finger at him. That man had misled him, had enticed him with the illusion of belonging and the fleeting comfort of companionship, sex, even love. Alucard glared up at his own, young self and hated him.

But he knew. Thirst would not save him anymore. If he wanted to live, he had to resurrect the man he had been.

The demon roared. It ripped Alucard open. He screamed. Claws raked into his chest. His ribs broke. His innards sloshed out onto the floor.

It had always been pain. His thirst spoke in the language of agony; for him or for others, and he had little choice in the matter. Alucard whimpered. He looked up to the man in white and the gold eyes bore into him. The man couldn't fight the demon. Alucard had to do that himself.

The demon snarled. It lunged for Alucard's heart. Alucard brought his hands up. He gripped the creature's jaws. It tore into Alucard's fingers. He gritted his teeth.

What had the demon done for him, except broken him over and over? What had it done except torn him from the world and made him into an animal?

"I don't need you," Alucard said.

He pushed the demon back. Its claws tore down his chest, his hips, his legs as he forced it down.

The demon whimpered. It whined for him. Alucard gritted his teeth. His thirst could sound so sweet and harmless when it wanted to. That was how it had first won, just a needling little whimper- one drop, one taste, what could the harm be? Don't you want to know, Alucard? Don't you want to understand?

Alucard pinned the demon down. He kept his shredded hands around its mouth. He leveraged his weight, laying on the fiends chest. It snarled under him. It squirmed and demanded.

Its red eyes found Alucard's and he knew what it said. "You will never be rid of me."

"I know. Now lie still."

Alucard snapped its neck.

He lay back, panting, feeling out his own brokenness. He clutched at his open chest. He felt the gaps where his thirst had been.

"A-are you happy now?" he rasped.

"No," the man in white said. He pushed himself off the wall and stared down at Alucard.

"I've lost everything," Alucard said. He hugged his naked, eviscerated chest and then brought his hands up to his mouth. "Have- haven't I suffered enough?"

"Killing your demons is not enough to make you a man again."

"Then how?"

"Look," the man in white said, "It still lives." He crossed to the demon at Alucard's feet. He pried open the monster's mouth.

Alucard hated every inch of him; the disdainful way he held himself apart from the blood, his elegant bearing, his aloof superiority. This ignorant child believed himself so much better than other vampires. He reached between the monster's jaws. Alucard heard a squelch.

He pulled out a bright red creature, curled around itself and barely the size of his palm. It glistened with blood.

"Control it this time," he said. He placed the shining, curled imp in Alucard's hands. "It won't grow so large."

"I know," Alucard spat, "You think, you think I don't know? What I am?"

"I believe you've lost yourself. You lost me."

"I k-killed you," Alucard said.

"Yes. And yet, here I am."

"They aren't the p-people you knew."

"No. But perhaps they could be. Earn them, Alucard. And earn me."

He grimaced. He brought his hands over Alucard's, over the imp of his diminished thirst. He leaned in. He squeezed Alucard's palms. And then, in a flash of golden light, he was simply gone.

Alucard looked down. His hands were empty. His chest was whole, although he could feel a different kind of brokenness in it. He was cold. He ached. He was gagged. But the shivering and the desperate need was gone. He was just empty, alone in a more profound way than he had been before.

In his delirium, Alucard had ripped the blanket off his body. He stretched forward. It was out of his reach. Apparently he'd been writhing. The small stack of paper had been scattered.

Alucard shook his head. How long had he been senseless and overcome by thirst? He had no way to reckon the time that had passed. But it couldn't have been more than a few days if Sypha hadn't come to torture him.

He looked to the window. It was getting dark. He should expect her soon. He grabbed up the paper he could reach and got it into a presentable pile. He found the pencil again. He waited.

Very late that night, he finally heard the main door open. Tired footsteps clumped across the floor above him. But nobody came to visit.

Alucard sighed. He picked up a piece of paper and carefully wiped dirt and dust off of it. He started to draw.

 

He heard them overhead. Trevor's footsteps- leaving early, before sunlight hit the basement window, popping in hurriedly at odd hours throughout the day, returning late. Sypha returned home later still, if at all.

What was going on?

He finished what he was drawing and set it aside. It had taken more consideration and amendment than a random pattern. He'd worn the eraser down to nothing and left a few grey smudges on the paper from overzealous editing. But it was done, and he waited.

He waited three days, getting colder again, starting to panic, uselessly stretching to reach his blanket. Why hadn't Trevor come to see him? Had he forgotten him? Had Sypha forgotten the rest of the photos she was supposed to torture him over? Had he, perhaps, been delirious and incoherent for longer than he'd thought?

Finally, he heard the basement door slam open.

Alucard blinked and shielded his eyes. The meager light cast in from upstairs was blinding. He'd adjusted to the dark, like his body had finally adjusted to the lack of blood.

A broad-shouldered figure Alucard recognized rushed down the stairs. He started loading things into the washer. He looked up when Alucard cleared his throat.

"Shit," Trevor said, "Crap. Vampire- right."

He crossed the room. He swiped the blanket off the floor. He reached Alucard, dropped the blanket in his arms and reached into his pocket. He pulled out a key.

"Fuck. How long has it been?"

Alucard shrugged. He had no idea.

"Here. I have like, 20 minutes. Let's get you moving. You're freezing again, aren't you?"

Trevor didn't wait for a response. He fumbled with the key. He got Alucard's arms free and helped him to his feet.

Something buzzed. Alucard's head jerked up. He gulped. Whatever was making a mechanical whirring noise, it wasn't going to be good.

Trevor swore. He checked his pockets and pulled out something that vibrated and flashed in his hands. He tapped at its surface and put it to his ear.

"Hello? Yes-- okay. Yes, of course I'll be there. Now?"

Alucard strained his ears. Was that Sypha speaking underneath the buzz? She sounded flustered, and distorted like she was speaking through water.

Trevor stepped away. He closed his eyes. "Yeah. Gimme 15 minutes-- maybe 20 with parking, okay?"

And just as quickly as he'd come, he was up the stairs and gone. He left Alucard behind, trembling slightly, his metal collar still attached to the wall. Alucard looked around. The washer stood open and half loaded with linens. The plastic jug was next to it.

Alucard scanned the floor. He gulped. Trevor hadn't noticed something else falling out of his pocket as he'd reached in. He hadn't seen his key clatter to the floor, right within Alucard's reach.

Alucard crawled forward and picked up the key with trembling fingers.

 

He came back weary. He knew. Alucard wondered how long it had taken him to figure it out, notice what was missing from his pocket. Had he immediately guessed how he'd lost it? It seemed that way. At the very least, Trevor hadn't hunted the house for it. When he returned, he went straight for the basement.

He was the hunter Alucard had seen at the beginning. He had a stake in hand. Alucard gulped.

"I'm here," Alucard said. He held up his arms. He sat cross-legged on the small bed, with his blanket wrapped around his waist. "Trev-vor, I'm here."

"Where's the key?" Trevor said.

Alucard opened his hand, showing it between his fingers.

"Toss it over."

Alucard's grip tightened. All of his instincts told him to clutch onto this key. As though it would somehow secure his freedom. Even without the restraints, he couldn't get out of the basement. The holy barrier kept him at bay. He couldn't break such a barrier without magic, and his magic was unavailable while the silver collar was around his neck. He was stuck. But the key had given him a few hours to loosen his jaw and stretch his legs. It had given him a tiny amount of freedom.

He sighed. He threw the key forward.

Trevor didn't reach for it. He let the key settle to the floor, and covered it with his foot. He kept his eyes on Alucard.

"Chain yourself back to the wall," Trevor said.

Alucard sighed. "Please- I'm not-"

"I believe you," Trevor said, "Just, be good, okay?"

Alucard closed his eyes. He fumbled backwards, found the chain and pulled it up with a rattle. He clicked the mechanism to the silver collar and felt it lock.

"H-happy?"

Something shrieked in the corner. Trevor and Alucard both winced. Trevor turned his head. His brows creased together.

"Did I start the laundry?"

He shook his head. He looked over at Alucard. "Did you start the laundry?"

"Yes."

"What setting did you use?"

"Setting?" Alucard asked. He'd pressed the buttons at random until the water had started.

"Jesus, that's right," Trevor said, "Reading. Okay, umm-" He stuck the stake in his back pocket. He walked over to the washer. He pulled out a sheet and sniffed it.

"You used detergent, at least."

"The white jug, uhh, stuff?"

Trevor sighed. He grabbed the plastic basket. "Come here. I'll show you how it works."

"Chained," Alucard said dryly.

"And whose fault is that?" Trevor said, "You locked it yourself."

He chuckled. Alucard glared at him. He paused and tilted his head. "I thought your eyes were red."

Alucard ducked his head. He heard Trevor step back, pick up the key and unlock the chain. It fell away from his with a rattle. He followed Trevor to the washer and dryer.

"So let me get this straight," Trevor said, "You nabbed the key out of my pocket so you could do the landry?"

Alucard shook his head. "It fell. I grabbed."

"And in the last two weeks you were here alone, your eyes magically changed colors?"

"Two weeks?" Alucard spluttered.

Trevor grunted. "It's been a bad time. Sypha's still at work. They've got her on ridiculous hours again. And I've got a hunt. A werewolf, I think- or maybe an animalistic demon. Tough to say. Didn't mean to leave you alone for this long."

He cleared his throat. "Sorry bout that- though, suppose you weren't too upset that Sypha hasn't been hurting you."

Trevor scooted the basket of damp linens across the floor. He patted his hand on the dryer. "This one's real simple. It dries at different heats and lengths of time depending on how you turn the dial here." He indicated five words around a knob on the top of the box. Alucard picked out a few letters he recognized, but the words themselves were gibberish.

Trevor must have noticed his blank look, because he finished by turning the dial. "Look, normal will work fine for just about anything. That's easy enough, right?"

"I guess?"

Trevor dumped the contents of the basket into the wide mouth of the dryer. He closed the lid and tapped the button to press before starting the machine.

"Wait here," he said.

Alucard watched him head back upstairs with the basket. He wrapped his blanket more tightly around himself and waited, leaning on the dryer and feeling it hum.

Trevor returned with the basket refilled. There was no stake in his back pocket this time, no weariness as he started down the steps. And realistically, what did he have to fear? Alucard was weak from silver and thirst. He had no teeth. And even if he could hurt Trevor- even if there were parts of him that still wanted to- it wouldn't get him free.

Trevor set the basket beside Alucard.

"Okay, here's the deal," he said, "Clothes are, uh, trickier to wash than sheets. But all of this can go in a normal load. Wash these. Dry them. Fold everything. And you can pick out something to wear from the pile, okay?"

Alucard nodded. Trevor showed him the normal setting on the washer.

"Right. Be good, okay? I'm counting on you."

Alucard watched him hurry back up the stairs. He understood that the request had very little to do with laundry.

Chapter Text

(present)

Alucard hated gags. He hated the muzzles Sypha had kept him in at the beginning, that forced his mouth closed and prevented coherent speech. They'd made him feel like an animal. The variety of spider gags she used on him now were equally loathsome, but for very different reasons. They kept his mouth open and drooling. They weren't just a punishment, they reminded him that he was still something else, something that had to be controlled. They prevented him from kissing Trevor properly, or sucking him off. They prevented him from worshiping Sypha the way he wanted to. They infuriated him.

Erica, however, seemed to be thoroughly enjoying his gagged state. She giggled at the whimpers he tried to muffle by burying his face in her feet. She spread her toes in his mouth and ordered him to lick. She distracted and humiliated him. All the while, her fingers stayed gently curling through his hair.

Finally, Raquel leaned back. She kicked Alucard into Erica's lap. She panted. "That's as much as I can do," she said.

Alucard believed her. Sypha rarely hit him in such a sustained way. If she really wanted to hurt him, she'd tie him down and take breaks.

Raquel, however, seemed satisfied. She settled back in her seat. She looked to Sypha. Alucard looked too. He hadn't heard anything from the other side of the table for a while. Trevor was laying curled between Sypha and Amber. His blue-grey eyes were clouded. He looked sleepy, although from the way Amber explored his bare chest, Alucard guessed that his evening wasn't over yet.

"He's fun," Raquel conceded, "For an awful, bloodsucking fiend who deserves worse."

Alucard shuddered. His ass throbbed and stung. His back felt warm and raw. He didn't want to imagine what 'worse' was supposed to be.

"I think he's cute," Erica said. She looked down at Alucard. "Show me your ass."

Alucard twisted to give her a view. She ran her hands gently across the sensitive welts. She leaned in and spoke into his ear. "Would you still like to service me?"

Alucard nodded.

"Can you walk?"

When he nodded again, she grabbed his by the hair and dragged him to his feet.

"Sypha, where should we?"

"Bathroom," Sypha said, "Have fun."

Alucard heard her chuckle as he was led off.

Erica ordered his to the floor. The linoleum was cold and soothing on his bare ass and back. He felt her proximity; her excited heart rate sending a strong pulse through her chest and hands and legs. She unbuttoned her jeans.

Alucard closed his eyes. He smelled blood as she stripped off her pants.

It wasn't like feeding had been. Alucard tried to never compare it. It was easier to think of himself as a completely different person now. To receive blood, which would be discarded as worthless otherwise, instead of taking it in the wild high of pain and death- the experiences could not be compared. He'd been the worst kind of addict. What was he now?

Well, now he was laying naked on a bathroom floor, his mouth propped open and waiting for someone to straddle him. It was different, humiliating and maddening. It was just enough blood to keep him from withering away.

Something in him had changed. Feeding was an act of service now, and that excited him. Her smell excited him. The press of her warm thighs to the sides of his face, the couple tantalizing drops that landed on his chin, her hands in his hair as she got his head into position; it was all overwhelming. Alucard had learned how to wait when all he wanted was to raise his head, worship and feed.

So he held still until she pressed her warm, wet pussy to his face and ordered him to suck.

 


 (past)

Trevor returned late, smelling like sweat and dirt and the forest. Under that, Alucard caught a whiff of blood. The odor ached like a stomach pang, like what he imagined hunger felt like.

Alucard sat on the second step, and turned up to look into the light. "Good hunt?" he asked. The blood was not Trevor's, and not human.

Trevor sat down beside him. He shook his head. "No. Just a hunt. It's done."

"No p-prisoner?"

"Nah," Trevor said, "I just kill. I don't capture."

Alucard raised an eyebrow. He considered. "Me?"

"Yeah, you can thank Sypha for that," Trevor said, "she wanted something to test her ideas on. Something that could communicate."

"That's it? That- that's the only reason I-I'm here? Alive? Testing?"

Trevor yawned. "We needed something easy to neuter. Can't stop a werewolf transforming, or take away a demons claws." He staggered up and inspected the piles of laundry stacked on the dryer.

Alucard shivered. His jaw stung. "You would have, would have t-taken my teeth anyway."

"Yeah," Trevor said, "Does that make you feel any better?"

Alucard shook his head.

"Did you pick something to wear?"

Alucard pointed at one article set to the side.

Trevor picked the black leggings up. He chuckled. "Good choice, if you don't like the cold." He tossed them to Alucard. "You realize those are Sypha's, right?"

Alucard gave him a blank look. Nothing Trevor owned would fit him.

Trevor shrugged. "Some guys would care."

"She already- hates me."

Trevor tilted his head from side to side, as though he was considering his words as he loaded up the laundry basket. "She hates what you've done. What you are."

He turned, and spoke almost gently. "She- and I- know nothing about you. Who were you, when you were human?"

Alucard shook his head.

Trevor shrugged. He put the basket under his arm and stepped upstairs. "I'm curious, I guess. I mean, you don't owe me anything and you obviously hate my guts but-- I don't even know your name."

He reached the top of the stairs and paused.

"Do you remember being human?"

Alucard shook his head again.

"Whatever. Thanks for the help. Night," Trevor said. He closed to door. Alucard heard him trudge over the rooms upstairs.

 

Alucard tried to give him a proper answer the next morning. "Never was."

"Come again?" Trevor said. He looked up and turned off the hose. He was washing off his gear from last night's hunt. They'd moved Alucard's bed into another corner, away from the drain.

"I wasn't- human," Alucard said.

"But you were turned, weren't you?"

Alucard shook his head. He picked up the piece of paper he'd been drawing on. "Here," he said. He offered it to Trevor.

Trevor wiped his hands dry on his jeans. He took the paper.

Alucard indicated the sketches of his parents, now long dead. "Human," he said, pointing to the woman with the braid and the soft gaze. He moved his finger to the other figure, who embraced her at the shoulders. "V-vampire."

"I mean, I figured," Trevor said, "With the long black hair and the mustache. And- what is he wearing? Is that actually a cape?"

"Yes."

Trevor whistled. "So he laid it on thick, huh? Your dad- a real Dracula wannabee?"

Alucard flinched. "Dracula?"

"Nevermind," Trevor said, "Just, a bunch of pop culture nonsense. So, what? You're half and half? A born vampire, is that it?"

"Yes."

"Huh," Trevor said. He handed the drawing back. "You affected the way vampires are, then?"

Alucard shook his head. "I just burn, in sunlight. Crosses don't b-bother me."

Trevor went back to washing mud off his boots. "And let me guess. Silver doesn't affect you much?"

Alucard froze.

"Explains why it took so many darts to take you down," Trevor said.

Alucard drew in a breath, and let out a choked noise. He curled in on himself. Of course, that was the logical conclusion. If he was here to be tested on, well, he was useless. Suddenly, Sypha's stake was right at his chest, threatening, constricting. And he'd just admitted it without thinking.

"Vampire? You alright?"

Alucard heard him turn off the hose again. He stepped towards him and Alucard recoiled, curling further into himself.

"You're go-going to kill me."

"What?" Trevor asked. He stood over him.

"I'm not- not a true vampire. Not what you need. And I don't deserve to, to live. So you'll just-" Alucard trailed off. A dry sob escaped from him.

"Shit," Trevor said. A warm hand pressed into Alucard's shoulder. "That's not gonna happen."

Alucard dragged his head up. "You had a- a stake, last time."

Trevor grimaced. "For self-defense, is all. We're not just going to kill you."

"Why not?" Alucard asked, "Sypha's right. I've done t-terrible things."

Trevor sat on his haunches. He put his other hand on Alucard's free shoulder. The contact was warm and reassuring. "If I didn't know better, I'd say that sounds like remorse."

"I- don't know," Alucard said. He shook his head. "I lost my-myself."

"What do you mean?"

Alucard sighed. "You died. All of you-- my mother, you, Sypha."

"The people you used to know, you mean?"

He nodded. "And I couldn't, couldn't keep being brok-ken by it."

"So you murdered people instead?"

Alucard winced. "Thirst was- it freed me. From grief."

"What will you do now?" Trevor said.

Alucard gaped at him. "No choice."

Trevor shook his head. He shifted from the awkward position on the balls of his feet. He sat beside Alucard, leaning his back onto the wall. "Look, I'm not saying this is fair. None of this is. But you do have choices."

"Can't escape," Alucard said, "I won't s-survive in the wild, like this."

"Suppose not. Humans have gotten a bit more dangerous in the last-- what did you say? 500 years?"

Alucard looked at him blankly. "Humans have a-always been dangerous."

"Okay," Trevor said, "I dunno if this is gonna make you feel better. But it's not like Sypha or I is just gonna wander down here with a stake and that's gonna be the end of it, okay? And you're not useless. It's not just vampires out there. You're a decent frame of reference for whatever demons and bullshit comes our way."

"Lucky me."

"Yeah. I know it isn't much," Trevor said, "Sorry."

Alucard glared at him.

"But, you said sunlight is okay?"

Alucard tilted his head from side to side. "It hurts."

"But you don't explode into a pile of ash."

"No."

"Then, come on. You've earned a field trip."

 

Trevor carried him up into the house and set him on his feet. That was a mistake, and Trevor realized it as soon as Alucard began to teeter over. He caught him at the waist and steadied him.

"So, holy magic still works on you, huh?"

"Already knew that," Alucard hissed once the spell had receded enough that he could speak. He tried to ignore the way Trevor squeezed his hip.

"I mean, I suppose so. You good?" Trevor asked.

Alucard shook the unpleasant hum out of his limbs. He nodded.

"Right. Well, welcome to the house you've been stuck under for the past- shit, guess it's been more than a month now."

Alucard shrugged. He hadn't kept track of time. He blinked the spots from his vision and adjusted to the mellow light. It was a early winters day, and the blue light around him was overwhelming, but not direct enough to burn him. They were in a hallway, with a simple arched opening to the left. Ahead of him, there was a door.

Alucard gulped. He could practically smell fresh air on the other side of the door. He couldn't help himself. He took a step forward.

He'd split centuries between isolated wild places and the last concealed crypts available to him. He was accustomed to cold stone, harsh conditions and the constant threat of death. He just had agency before- something like freedom. Even if the outside world was death and danger and cold, it still represented autonomy to him.

He took another step before he felt it. If the spell on the top of the basement steps was a hum, the magic that radiated from the front door was a holy roar. He could feel it from several feet away. Gooseflesh crawled up his extended arm and he pulled it back, hissing.

No. It had never been freedom. He'd been trapped in his thirst. It had exiled him from the comforts of the world. He'd been stuck in the middle, always near enough to humans to feed, but far enough away to flee when they brought out the torches and pitchforks. Or the flashlights and guns.

"Huh. You can feel that?" Trevor said.

Alucard tucked his hand under the blanket he was wearing like a short cloak. He nodded. "Sypha's?"

"Yup. Dunno if you've noticed, but I'm about as magical as a rock."

Alucard snorted. The old Trevor had been too.

"It's on all the windows and doors," Trevor said, "As potent as she could manage. Although, seeing you get stuck on the basement steps, I'm starting to think maybe she didn't need to go that hard."

Alucard looked back at him. "There are f-far worse things, out there, than me."

"Yeah, I know," Trevor said, "Come on. I'll show you around."

It wasn't a large house. Trevor led him back down the hall and to the right, past two doors that he said were bedrooms. Then he opened a door into a room Alucard recognized. It was a simple, white tiled bathroom; the one Trevor had bathed him in before.

"Here," Trevor said. He rifled through the cabinet under the sink and pulled out a towel. He pressed it into Alucard's arms. "Get yourself clean. Take your time. I'll leave something new for you to wear outside the door. Sound good?"

Alucard nodded vaguely.

"Right," Trevor said. He stepped out and closed the door.

Alucard blinked, taking stock. He was standing there in the bathroom, warmth from the tiles working into his numb feet. He was almost comfortable. He was out of the basement, with time and space and the luxury of warm water to himself.

The door creaked back open.

"You, uh, know how to use the tub, right?"

Alucard rolled his eyes. "I'll manage."

 

Alucard stepped out of the bathroom feeling like a new person. Or, perhaps an old one. Maybe he was becoming someone he'd been a very long time ago, a more human version of himself.

He found a small stack of clothes outside the door. Alucard brought them in and wearily inspected himself in the mirror.

Yes. It had been a long time. His face was narrow and harder than it had been last he'd had a mirror to consider himself in, rendered feral by centuries of hunting. His body had changed too. The past month of meager feeding had started to wear him down. He was losing muscle mass. In his vanity, that frustrated him. At least he'd finally been able to brush out his hair properly.

He opened his lips. Even though he'd expected it, it was still a shock to see his mouth empty, no needle-like teeth between his incisors and molars. They were gone, and they showed no signs of regrowing.

Alucard shook his head. He slipped on the pants Trevor had provided. They were far too loose, until Alucard figured out to pull the drawstrings at the front to tighten them around his hips. He tugged on the shirt and sighed. It was luxurious to be warm, clean and clothed.

He paused with his hand on the door handle. If he went outside now, that meant facing Trevor, and probably getting sent back to the basement. Trevor certainly wasn't going to let him stay up here forever. Nor would he want to if it meant facing Sypha.

Alucard picked up the leggings, blanket and towel. He stepped out into the hall.

The bedroom doors hummed with the same energy as the basement steps. Even if Alucard was morbidly curious, he couldn't open either to look inside. Instead, he went down the hall and headed right, through an open arch. He peered through. There were long rectangles of light pouring into what appeared to be a living room.

"Hey there," Trevor said. He called from the left, where Alucard heard sizzling and smelled a variety of herbs. He wrinkled his nose. One of them was garlic.

Trevor stepped out of the kitchen and considering him, hovering at the edge of a column of light. "You stuck?"

Alucard shook his head. He quickly stepped through the pool of sunshine.

"Okay. If you'll give me, oh, three minutes or so, I can set this to simmer."

Alucard shrugged. He followed Trevor, and then leaned on the kitchen counter to watch him cook. Ultimately, domesticity suited him. He was calmer than the Trevor Alucard had known, less a mangy stray and more a sleek guard dog. Alucard's lip twitched. Both Trevors would hate that comparison.

Trevor must have caught his smile, because he pointed a wooden spoon at him. "Don't get smug, vampire. You're learning how to read today."

"I'm- what?"

"There are books on the table."

Alucard blinked at him. "You, you can't be serious."

"Oh, but I am," Trevor said. He spooned sautéed veggies into a pot. "I mean, not that I expect you to figure it all out today. But we've got to start somewhere."

He put a lid on the pot and grinned. "You know what they say. It's never too late to learn. Even if you're five-fucking-hundred."

He led Alucard to the livingroom and one of the strangest lessons of his life.

Chapter Text

(present)

Erica was kind even after she'd finished with him. She siddled slowly off of his face, still panting. She slipped her pants back on and then leaned back in and kissed his forehead.

"You okay?"

Alucard nodded. He was barely coherent, and afraid what she would see in his eyes if he opened them.

"I'll go get the key for the gag."

Alucard leaned back. He was melting onto the tile. He was warm and soft. The aches of his back, legs and ass were fading out into an afterglow of pleasant heat. He'd gotten to serve, and to feed.

Erica returned with the key and his clothes. She helped ease the gag out of his mouth, and tugged his boxers back on while he was still working on loosening his jaw.

The party was winding down when they came back out. Raquel had packed up and stood in the hall, chatting with Sypha. Amber grinned at them when they stepped into the living room.

"Had fun?" she asked Erica.

"Yes, actually. You?"

Amber looked down at Trevor, wrapped in a blanket next to her. "It was nice."

Trevor purred.

Alucard was barely lucid. He was supposed to be doing something right now, but he couldn't remember what. He looked at the table. It was covered in crumbs. He should sweep them up, spot clean and vacuum the carpet, pick up the handwashing where Trevor had left off. It would be a long night.

Erica tugged at his wrist.

"Alucard? Come sit."

He sank onto the couch next to her.

"Hey," Trevor said. He raised his arm, offering the edge of the blanket to Alucard. "You okay?"

Alucard nodded. He crawled under the blanket. "Just, a lot."

"How can I help?" Erica asked.

Alucard pressed his body to Trevor's. It took him a minute to even register that the question was directed at him. He gulped. "Ummm."

"How's this?" she asked. She reached out a hand and massaged his scalp.

"Yes."

Trevor planted a kiss on Alucard's shoulder. Slowly, the feeling of panic that sometimes came with the high eased.

When Amber and Erica headed out, it was late. Trevor was dozing on Alucard's shoulder. Alucard was mostly sober. He looked up when Sypha stepped into the room. Should he get off the sofa? He wasn't supposed to be on the furniture. But if he moved, he'd disturb Trevor.

"You don't need to get up," Sypha told him.

Alucard settled back into Trevor's loose hold. Sypha knelt beside the sofa and propped her head up on the cushion. Her eyes were level with Alucard's.

"How are you doing? Give me a thumb meter."

Alucard extended his hand. He raised his thumb straight into the air. Then he chewed his lip, considering, and cocked it just slightly to the side.

"Are you in pain?"

He shook his head.

Sypha paused, her brow furrowed. Then she grinned. "Were you hoping you'd get to orgasm?"

Alucard sighed. "Yes."

"Can it wait till tomorrow morning?"

"Of course."

Sypha leaned in and whispered. "You did good today. I'm very pleased with you."

"I told you he could handle it," Trevor mumbled.

Sypha raised her head. She arched an eyebrow. "Go brush your teeth."

"But, dishes," Trevor said into Alucard's shoulder.

"Don't worry about them," Sypha said, "Get ready for bed."

"Yes miss," Trevor yawned. He was very cute when he was sleepy. His eyes were soft and blurry like rain clouds. His words slurred together. Alucard scooted out of the way so he could clamber off the sofa. He wandered off to the bathroom.

Sypha sighed. Did she see the anxious way Alucard's eyes followed Trevor as he stepped away? Did she understand how nervous she made him; how much he relied on Trevor to mediate and communicate for him? Based on the way she considered him now, it seemed likely.

Alucard pulled himself into a sitting position. He indicated the mess on the table. "I'll clean."

"Absolutely not," Sypha said. She stood and took his hand. "Come to bed with us."

"Really?"

She squeezed his fingers. "If you want."

"I- yes," Alucard said. He nodded. He followed Sypha and let her lift him across the threshold into the bedroom she and Trevor shared.

Once she set him back down, Sypha shook her head. "You've lost more weight, haven't you?"

Alucard looked at her. She was haloed in a corona of shimmering, gold light left by the ward. He shrugged.

Sypha massaged her temples. "Remind me. We'll get you on the scale tomorrow."

She stepped to the closet and stripped in a business-like way, pulling off her jeans and shirt to reveal a figure that was soft and curvy. Alucard watched her unhook her bra with his pulse in his throat.

"I wonder if we could get Erica involved. Would you mind that, if she provided you a few tampons each month?" Sypha asked. She looked over. Alucard stared blankly back at her.

Sypha rolled her eyes. She picked out an old, baggy t-shirt and slipped it on.

Alucard whined.

"Can you pay attention now?"

Alucard shook himself back to reality and nodded.

"Would you mind, if Erica gave you some extra blood? Since our cycles are nicely spread? I can ask her for tampons. It's not like you'd need to service her every time."

"Need to," Alucard repeated. He did what he'd seen Trevor do before, putting up his hand and making air quotes. Did Sypha still not understand that the service was the best part?

Sypha chuckled. "Well, you'd need to negotiate that with her yourself. Maybe that can be your next writing project- you can send her a letter."

Alucard frowned. That sounded intimidating. It was bad enough when Sypha critiqued his messy syntax and poor spelling.

Sypha yawned. She set her phone on the bedside table. "Well, guess tomorrow is gonna be busy then." She made for the door and then paused, looking to where Alucard stood, uncertain and awkward in the middle of the room.

"Make yourself comfortable," she said, gesturing at the bed, "Oh, and if you decide you don't want to stay the whole night, you have my permission to wake me up. I'll let you out."

Alucard gulped. The idea of deliberately waking Sypha up was terrifying. From the beginning, Trevor had warned him to clean quietly at night; save vacuuming for later. One of Sypha's most important luxuries was getting a proper night's sleep, and she didn't get them as often as she wanted to with work.

"Alucard?"

"Yes miss?"

"I order you to wake me up if you want to leave the bedroom. Do not bother Trevor."

"Who's bothering me?" Trevor asked. He stepped through the door and grinned. "Oh. Are we having a sleepover?"

Sypha chuckled. "Bat boy gets all the cuddles tonight."

Fifteen minutes later, Alucard lay in the gentle dark between them. Trevor was to his left, tucked between Alucard and the wall, wearing nothing except the metal cage around his cock. Sypha was on his right, snoring lightly.

Between them, Alucard was warm and content. He might not be able to sleep like this, but he could let his mind wander, sink into comfort, relish every moment.

He'd done well. He had a lover and a mistress and more of a life than he'd had for centuries. He would not have chosen this for himself, and the journey had been grueling. But now?

Trevor turned in his sleep, pressing himself into Alucard's side.

Now, he could only marvel at his strange, terrible, wonderful luck. In the most devastating way, he had been saved.


(past) 

It was a learning experience for both of them. Alucard's long disused knowledge of Latin steered him wrong at every turn. Apparently even the alphabet had changed since he'd learned it. Alucard squinted at words until his vision and brain were blurry and overlaid with black ink on white paper. He snarled; this was something children were able to do.

"Hey, here," Trevor said, pointing him back to the start of a very simple sentence. "Just take your time."

Alucard slowly stumbled through the words. The room was dark before he'd finished.

"It's a start," Trevor finally said, "You can practice on your own, right?"

"This is- infuriating," Alucard said. He leaned back and massaged his temples.

"Yeah. I'll bet. But look, I need to get your back downstairs. Unless you want to meet Sypha."

Alucard gulped and followed him back to the basement door.

The field trips became a regular occurrence. Almost every day, Trevor came to carry him upstairs. Alucard got in the habit of waiting for him at the second step, the workbooks he was practicing with in hand. He practiced reading and writing on the couch. Sometimes, Trevor sat beside him and told him in a blank, dry voice, when he was doing something wrong. Otherwise, he worked in the kitchen or living room.

Alucard leaned back with a snarl. "I can't do this. Why can't- can't I do this?" He waved a hand at the neon-colored, flimsily bound book. "These are meant for children. Children. And I can't-" Pain stopped him mid-sentence. He pressed a hand over his upper lip and squeezed his eyes closed, trying to deal with the sensation that something was being ripped out of his mouth- again.

A warm hand fell on Alucard's shoulder.

"Hey," Trevor said. He squeezed. "How long have you been at this?"

Alucard looked up at him. The pain abated as quickly as it had struck him. He withdrew his hand. "This paragraph? Hours."

"You need a break."

"This is simple, b-but I can't."

"Break," Trevor said. He leaned over and pulled the booklet out of Alucard's hands. "Here."

He handed Alucard a dishrag.

"I'll wash the dishes. You dry them. I'll show you where they go."

Alucard sighed. He stood up and followed Trevor into the kitchen. Trevor showed him where to put the plates and bowls. It was a distraction, at least.

"Here, batboy. The cups go over there." Trevor pointed at the next set of shelves. Alucard raised an eyebrow.

"W-what did you call me?"

"What?" Trevor said. He put the cup on the counter and moved on to the next.

"Bat boy?"

"Oh," Trevor said. His face went slightly red. "Well, I don't have anything to call you, so-"

"Alucard."

"What?" Trevor said.

"My name. Alucard."

"Like, your real life name? That people called you?"

"Yes."

"Can I call you Al?"

Alucard picked up the cup and dried it with the towel. "No."

"Allie?"

"No, Trevor."

Trevor grinned at him. "Bat boy it is then."

Alucard sniffed at him. He supposed this was okay. Better than Trevor puzzling out what his name was backwards. He had mentioned Dracula. Somehow, Alucard's father was still known. He really didn't need that added association.

 

Progress was slow, but it happened. Alucard learned his letters and connected them to words he spoke. He practiced writing and his script became neater and more confident.

When he started to snarl and scowl at the page, Trevor distracted him. He showed Alucard how to scrub dishes and counters, sort laundry and dust. It filled time. It gave Alucard the impression that Trevor was waiting for something. Whatever it was, it frightened him.

Sypha was a looming but distant threat. She had no time for him. Trevor confessed that she barely had time for anyone during the holidays, when everyone was getting sick or injured and half the staff was on vacation. Trevor was taking on responsibilities that would have normally been hers.

"Well, then I s-should do laundry," Alucard said.

"What?"

"Leave it on the landing. I'll do it," Alucard said. He liked the laundry, the smells and the feel of warm linens on his hands as he folded them. "It's something t-to do."

It would also help him keep warm. The basement was getting colder as the season changed. Trevor had agreed when he'd asked for a second blanket. He needed them.

"Okay," Trevor said, "I mean, shit. It makes my life easier, but-"

"But?"

"I dunno. This is my fault- making you do work. This isn't supposed to be prison labor."

Adrian tilted his head. "It's fine."

"Okay," Trevor said, "Just, let me know if it ever isn't. These are my responsibilities, not yours."

Alucard didn't mind things that filled up time. He didn't mind Trevor's chatter and teasing. He didn't mind company and companionship during the day.

He hated the cold and lonely nights, and the small whine of hunger in the back of his mind. He hated trying to figure out the difference between 'c' and 'k'. He hated the pain in his upper jaw that should have gone away by now.

That night, Trevor came down to the basement to see him. He shivered.

"Shit it's getting cold."

Alucard barely noticed. He saw the telltale crimson stain in the ziploc Trevor was holding. Was it that time again? The days were moving strangely for Alucard. Every hour had felt like an eternity, but now each day bled into the next.

Trevor sat on the bed next to him. He handed Alucard the bag and shook his head. "At some point, Sypha is going to have to see you."

"See me?" Alucard said. He winced. "Why?"

"She needs to see how you are now," Trevor said, "I dunno. You're more like a person."

"I-I've always been a person," Alucard said. He picked up the tampon gingerly and, as though to challenge that statement, popped it into his mouth.

"Coulda fooled me," Trevor said, "When all you were doing was snarling and trying to bite."

"Couldn't talk," Alucard said, "Gag."

"Yeah, and what did you try to do as soon as you got the gag off?"

Alucard sighed. He looked down at the ziploc and considered licking up the drops that had gathered in the corner. Maybe if Trevor wasn't watching. Instead, he put the drained tampon in the ziploc and handed it back.

"Sorry."

"What?" Trevor asked. He tucked the ziploc away.

Alucard considered. He remembered the look on Trevor's face when he'd bitten into Sypha's neck during his failed escape attempt. If he was honest with himself, that look haunted him. He was ashamed. That shame was like a fuse in his mind and if he ever set it alight, he knew it would burst out into all of the evil he had done, all of the terrible ways he'd slacked his thirst for 500 odd years.

"The old T-Trevor, he saw me, at my best," Alucard tried to explain, "And you've only ever- ever seen the worst of me." He wondered if there were red stains visible on his lips and teeth as he spoke.

"No one's at their best trapped in a basement," Trevor said lightly.

"I don't want to be a-a monster anymore," Alucard said, "Even if that means-"

Trevor raised an eyebrow. "What? Even if it means what?"

Alucard gulped down the words. He wasn't ready to say "falling in love with you again even though you will die someday". How could he possibly manage to say all of that? It was ridiculous. And it was dangerous.

"Even if it m-means I do the laundry."

Trevor laughed. "Never thought I'd like one of you fuckers." He stood up. "See you tomorrow, okay?"

Alucard nodded. After Trevor left, he tried very hard not to read into what "like" could mean.

Chapter Text

(present)

When Sypha mumbled, shifted, and pressed her face into his chest, it was like a gift. It was a reasonable hour of morning for humans to be awake. The electric clock on the bedside read 7:23. Sypha sighed.

"Good morning, miss," Alucard started.

Sypha put a finger to his lips and Alucard stopped immediately. He pressed his closed lips to her finger.

Sypha settled her head and shoulders on top of him. She closed her eyes. "You have a heartbeat."

Alucard nodded. He brought in an arm and held Sypha's shoulder. She was a soft crush on top of him. She was divine- something to worship. She just rested on top of him for a moment. Alucard got time to appreciate the feeling of her breathing and pulse on his chest. Her curly hair tickled his nose.

Finally, Sypha sat up. She yawned, stretched, and grinned.

"Alright. Now you can talk."

"Thank you, miss."

Sypha slid off the bed. "Do you know what day it is?"

"Sunday?"

"I mean, you're not wrong," Sypha said, "Guess I'm back at work tomorrow. Damn."

She shrugged, reached into the drawer in the bedside table and sifted through the contents. She pulled something out and then grabbed her phone.

"It's also Trevor's orgasm day," she said.

Alucard shivered at the implications. Trevor was still sprawled out on the bed next to him, twitching slightly in his sleep.

Sypha grinned. "Can you handle that responsibility? I have some work to take care of."

When Alucard nodded, she tossed him something. Alucard gulped. He caught a small key.

"You have my permission to come too. Have fun." She winked.

For a moment, Alucard just sat there, upright in bed, clutching Trevor's key in one hand. The sound of Sypha closing the door seemed very distant. He felt excitement work over his body. A throbbing, pulsing want took shape in him. He looked over at Trevor. He was laying on his back, one arm clutching the edge of the blanket. His mouth was ajar and his hair was messy.

Trevor stirred. His eyes flickered. Alucard couldn't help himself. He pressed a gentle kiss to Trevor's cheek. Trevor moaned.

Alucard rested a hand on Trevor's chest. He brought it slowly down. He fiddled with the key and found the small lock on the device holding Trevor's cock in. The key fit.

"Sypha?" Trevor yawned.

"Try again," Alucard said. He eased the small, curved cylinder off.

"Oh," Trevor said, "Hey there." His eyes opened. He grinned, leaned up and grabbed Alucard's waist. Alucard had not expected him to wake up so fast. Trevor dragged him down on top of him and wrapped him in a hug.

Alucard managed a "mmmmrph" before he was pressed into Trevor's chest. He really didn't want to end up in a gag today. His jaw was still sore. He fell into Trevor's pecs. He was warm, and Alucard could feel his heartbeat.

"Mmmmm," Trevor agreed. He shifted, bringing a hand down to cup Alucard's ass. "You're lovely. Has anyone ever told you that?"

Alucard squirmed as Trevor squeezed his cheeks. He lifted his head and grinned. "You did. Yesterday."

"Did I?" Trevor said. He eased Alucard's boxers off. He was getting hard underneath him. "Well, good for me. I was right."

Alucard rolled his eyes. Then he moaned as Trevor bucked into him.

"So, uhh, before we do this," Trevor said, "I do have to ask. Did you steal the key, or--?"

Alucard raised an eyebrow at him. "From Sypha? You think I w-would try. To take something. From Sypha?"

"I mean, no, but-"

"She g-gave it to me. We're both allowed."

"Okay. Cool," Trevor said, in an unfocused way. He grabbed Alucard's shoulders and rolled so that he was on top.

"Really?" Alucard gasped. He allowed Trevor to pin him, but he couldn't resist teasing. "Aren't you, uh, sore?"

Trevor snorted. "Look. I might not have magical healing powers. But I'm not passing up a perfectly good chance to fuck you."

Still, he winced as he shifted his legs to straddle Alucard.

"I could- be on top?" Alucard said, as though the thought didn't get him very excited.

"With an ass like that?" Trevor said, "Absolutely not. Roll over."

Alucard shivered. He twisted around under Trevor, bent his legs, and then turned his head and grinned. He shook his ass at Trevor. "Like this?"

"Yes," Trevor said, "Fuck yes." He growled and grabbed Alucard's hips. He spread his cheeks and then paused.

"Oh. Didn't have time?"

Alucard nodded. "If you'll g-give me, uhh, one minute."

Usually, when they did this, Sypha was in charge. She presided, holding the key and ordering Alucard to lube up. She seemed to enjoy watching him strip and get himself wet. Now, Alucard considered that she did keep things running smoothly. The two of them weren't great at planning when they were both aroused.

Trevor chuckled. He was already reaching back for the bottle in the bedside table. He came back and his calloused hands were slick. He was warm. Alucard let himself melt into the mattress. How did he always end up in this position, his ass in the air and his head buried?

Well, because he wasn't allowed to use his mouth for anything fun or useful. Alucard whimpered.

"What's that?" Trevor said.

Alucard shook his head.

"Are you okay?" he asked. He crawled over Alucard, close enough that he felt his breath on his upper back. "We don't have to-- you know we don't have to do anything, right?"

Alucard nodded. "It's- no, this is good. Want t-to do this, just-"

"Yeah? Just what?"

Alucard looked back at him. He pouted. "Suck you off."

"Awwah," Trevor said. He leaned back. "Is that what you want?"

Alucard plopped his face back into the mattress and nodded in frustration.

"You know why we can't, right?"

Alucard groaned. He did. Some of Sypha's first rules had been ways to keep Trevor safe. Like "Don't stick your cock in the vampire's mouth." It made sense. Trevor had also gotten a finger inside him, and the gentle thrusting motion sent excitement up Alucard's spine.

"But, hey. Maybe if you're very, very good, we could try something-- sort of similar."

"Si-similiar?"

"Well, kinda," Trevor said. Amusement twisted the end of his sentence, and Alucard knew a trick when he heard one. He was also too far gone to care. He panted and wiggled onto Trevor's fingers.

"Would you like that?"

Alucard nodded. He moaned. Trevor had slipped his fingers in just deep enough to play with him, hitting the nexus of nerves that sent shameful shivers in every direction. Alucard dripped onto the bed and a very distant section of his brain added "launder linens" to an ongoing list of chores.

"Right. This first though," Trevor said. He removed his fingers and shifted on the bed. Something sinfully hot and throbbing pressed to Alucard's tailbone. Trevor grunted and adjusted slightly. He found Alucard's hole. They both shuddered in response.

He nearly broke Alucard with his first thrust. Alucard gasped and slumped forward, surrendering his body to gravity and the feeling of Trevor fucking him. Trevor gripped his hips. He pulled Alucard up and back onto him. He worked him open in a series of short grinding motions.

Alucard sank further into the mattress. He bit into the fitted sheet, enjoying the feeling of having something in his mouth.

Sure, Sypha would sit on his face, when he was properly gagged. But that wasn't what Alucard caught himself fantasizing about every time Trevor was unlocked. He wanted Trevor to grab him by the hair and drag him down to a kneeling position. In his fantasies, Trevor was already erect and throbbing, and Alucard got to stick out his tongue to catch the precum on his tip before wetting his lips. Then Trevor took over with a growl, using his hold on Alucard's hair to bring him in and thrust and-

"Oh," Trevor grunted, "That was fast."

Alucard whimpered. His body was trembling. He arched his back, stretching out the feeling that he was a live wire and Trevor was the current. He panted into the covers, his body throbbing as cum spilled out onto the bed. Trevor thrust into him one more time, as though to see if he could milk him for those last drops.

"Worked up from yesterday, huh?"

Alucard nodded.

Trevor wasn't done with him. Alucard could hear his elevated heart rate, his excitement as he crawled up and put his lips to his ear. The point was for Trevor to cum. Alucard should have lasted longer. Normally, he would have, but he'd let himself get carried away.

"Mmmmm. Roll over."

Alucard looked up at him. Small tingles were still working through his limbs. He wasn't certain he could move right now. Besides, his ass was dripping. "We'll m-make a mess."

Trevor chuckled. "You already have."

Alucard sighed and rolled onto his back.

"Do you have energy for one more thing?" Trevor asked.

Alucard remembered his teasing. He looked up and saw Trevor's half-smile now. He nodded. Of course he did. He might have lost his vampiric strength, but he still had stamina.

"This won't take long," Trevor told him, "I was, actually pretty close, when you came."

"Do- do you need me to-?"

Trevor shook his head. "Just hold still."

Alucard gasped when he crawled up and put his knees on either side of his shoulders. Trevor's cock was inches from his mouth, sleek in a layer of lube from Alucard's ass.

He wasn't sure he'd ever wanted something in quite the way that he wanted Trevor to fuck his face right now. He wanted the humiliation of it. He wanted to prove- if only to himself- that his mouth was no longer dangerous. He wanted to be used. And most of all he wanted to unravel Trevor with his ministrations, to service him.

Alucard moaned. He opened his mouth and leaned forward. Trevor was so close. Sypha was out of the room. She wouldn't need to know that they'd broken the rules, just this once. Lube and precum gathered at his tip. If he stuck out his tongue just an inch further, he'd be able to catch it.

"Damn. You really want it, don't you?"

Alucard nodded.

"Poor puppy," Trevor said. He reached up and grabbed a fistful of Alucard's hair. He held him down.

Alucard whimpered, still holding out his tongue, wanting. "P-please?"

"Someday," Trevor said, "When we can talk Sypha into it. For now, well, you can settle for this."

He kept his hand, and most of his weight, on Alucard's hair. He brought his other arm back. He started to pump his cock.

Alucard groaned. A warm drop hit his lip. He licked it up. Trevor loved to tease him for this-- what he called an oral fixation, as though there wasn't something fundamental in Alucard that wanted to guzzle and suck, an evil instinct that had been perverted and made harmless. He got to service Sypha all the time. Why couldn't he be trusted to play with Trevor?

A nagging voice hissed in the back of Alucard's mind. They don't trust you. They never will.

And Alucard might have had to deal with that nasty, lingering sentiment. Except something hot splattered onto his tongue. Trevor panted. His legs shook on either side of Alucard's body. Alucard gripped his thighs, holding him in place as he came, a cloudy mess dripping onto Alucard's mouth, lips and chin.

"Oh fuck," Trevor growled. He loosened his grip on Alucard's hair and leaned back, breathing hard.

Alucard looked blurrily up at him. He swallowed. Cum hit the back of his throat and the feeling seeped further; it was a soft afterglow like Alucard imagined pain medication made humans feel. He was fuzzy and gently numb and strangely satisfied.

Trevor rolled off Alucard. He flopped onto the bed, panting. He pushed sweat and hair away from his forehead.

Alucard wiped lube and cum from his mouth. He tilted his head to Trevor and stuck out his tongue. "Mean."

"Yeah, that's fair," Trevor said. He turned over and kissed Alucard's cheek.

Alucard sighed in a contented way. How did Trevor do this to him over and over, tease him, humiliate him, and still make his cold heart flutter with every little romantic gesture?

"Was that okay, though? I know it's a sore spot. I didn't mean to rub it in."

Alucard considered him. It took a while for the words to register in his brain, and longer for him to puzzle out what he meant. He blinked. "You're asking. If I enjoyed. You c-cuming, on my face?"

Trevor went pink. "Yeah."

Alucard kissed him back. It was just a light peck on the cheek, the kind of kissing he was allowed to do. "Immensely."

"Cool," Trevor said, "Alright. Umm, ready to clean up?"

Alucard nodded.

Twenty minutes later, they stepped into the livingroom together, showered and dressed the way Sypha liked them. Trevor was in a tight pair of jeans and a simple apron. Alucard was just in a pair of grey boxers.

Sypha sat at the kitchen counter. A frying pan, still steaming with scrambled eggs, was on a hot pad beside her. She looked up from the newspaper and grinned at them.

"You took your time," she said.

Trevor chuckled. "And I see you've been busy." He pointed at the pan of eggs.

Alucard, however, was looking at the cleared table, the empty sink and the furniture in the living room, reorganized around the table. He gulped.

"Is there coffee?" Trevor asked.

Sypha pointed to the french press beside the kettle.

"Sypha?" Alucard said. He stepped over to the counter.

"Yes, cutie?"

"Did you, uhh-" he started, pointing at the evidence of all the cleaning that would normally have been his responsibility.

Sypha squeezed his shoulder. "You earned a break. And then some. I told you, I'm very pleased with you."

Alucard gave her a sheepish smile. "Thank you, miss."

"Yeah," Trevor said, barging in with coffee and a plate, "Thanks."

Sypha looked from one of them to the other. She grinned. "You're my good boys."

Trevor settled onto the chair beside her and served himself eggs. Sypha handed Alucard the newspaper and pointed to an article for him to practice reading aloud.

Alucard eyed the paper wearily and began stumbling over the title.

Chapter Text

(past)

The day things changed started like all the rest. It was a pattern Alucard was getting used to. He heard Sypha leave early for work. Trevor walked to the basement and found him waiting on the landing with workbooks and a pencil pressed to his chest.

"Come here," Trevor said. He lifted Alucard over the threshold.

"And is the laundry done?"

Alucard nodded as soon as he was able to move. Trevor left him to recover in the hall and went down to grab the basket of folded clothes. He came back with it tucked against his hip.

They settled in the living room. It was a nothing day. Alucard struggled with combined consonants. He'd gotten in the habit of taking copious, sloppy notes on scrap paper beside the workbook. Today, his page was mostly covered in things he'd angrily scratched out.

Trevor scrubbed down the kitchen counters and put away the dry dishes. When he settled on the couch beside Alucard, it was to read.

Alucard tried not to stare. Trevor could just read. He had learned it in some reasonable timeframe. Alucard grumbled and returned to his work.

Trouble started shortly after Trevor ate lunch. It came in the form of a mechanical buzzing that caused Trevor to fumble with his pants pocket. He pulled out a thin, glass rectangle that flashed in his hands.

"Shit," Trevor said. He stood up. "Shit, shit, shit."

Alucard put down his pencil. "Trevor?"

Trevor shook his head. "Gotta go."

"What?" Alucard asked.

Trevor was already in the hallway. Alucard heard him fumbling with his boots. He followed.

"Go?" Alucard repeated, "How long?"

"I'll be back in an hour," Trevor said, "Just, focus on your reading. Be good. Please."

He tugged a jacket over one shoulder and was suddenly gone.

Three hours later, the door finally creaked open again. Alucard was in the kitchen, trying to sound out the labels on the buttons of the large, box-like appliance Trevor had called a microwave.

Trevor sounded exhausted. He stumped through the hall without a word, passed through the archway and flopped onto the couch.

"You would not believe the day I had."

Alucard flinched and stood up straight. That was not Trevor. He turned his head. Sypha sat sprawled on the sofa, her feet propped on the table. She put a hand over her eyes.

"Come rub my feet."

Alucard gulped. It didn't occur to him to refuse, even if he understood that the command was intended for Trevor. Trevor wasn't here. He crossed the room and knelt beside the table.

Sypha's feet were warm and swollen. It was strange to Alucard. This time period's Trevor was softer, but Sypha was harder than the one he remembered. It wasn't just the calluses on her feet- although they rivaled the ones the old Sypha had had from a lifetime of traveling by foot. This Sypha was terrifying. Well, she had been. She was slightly less intimidating collapsed in the living room looking almost as pale as Alucard was.

Alucard clicked his tongue, sympathetic in spite himself. He pressed his thumb to her arch and started to work the sore muscles there.

Sypha sighed. "Your hands are cold."

Alucard said nothing. He wasn't sure he could speak in front of her. It would just be a string of useless, ugly stutters. He moved his other hand to her big toe and gently rolled it, easing away the pain.

"Dr. Hoffman called out today," Sypha said, "So I covered for two of his patients. And it's just- such a mess right now."

Alucard wondered if Trevor would understand what she was talking about. He settled for nodding vaguely.

She shifted and opened her eyes. "At least I got home early. Maybe we can finally- the fuck?!"

Alucard winced. He let go of Sypha's foot and held up his hands. He shivered, afraid to meet her gaze. He heard Sypha summon a spell with a splutter and a flash of light.

"Where the fuck is Trevor?"

Alucard gulped. "A-a-a hunt? I th-think?"

He met Sypha's eyes and regretted it immediately. Lit by the flame in her hand, her face was a livid combination of exhaustion and rage.

Alucard threw himself to the floor, pressing his forehead into the carpet. How was he supposed to communicate that he didn't want to hurt her? He raised his hands over his head.

He heard the spell dissipate with a hiss. Sypha spoke again, and somehow she sounded more tired than before. "Fucking hell, Trevor."

Alucard shuddered. "No-not his fault."

Sypha snorted. "Whatever you're scheming, bloodsucker, it isn't going to work."

Alucard spoke into the carpet. "Not scheming. A-anything."

"Sure you're not," Sypha said. She shifted her heels on the table. "Rub my other foot."

Alucard raised his head. Sypha held up her other leg for him. Alucard reached out his hands and set to work. He took a deep breath and tried looking at her again.

She had been the kindest lover in the world, once. Or, another version of Sypha, the one he'd known before, had been. After the fighting and the suffering was over, she had cradled him through his grief. She had never sneered or teased him the way Trevor had. She had tried to help him through the pain even at the end, when her own pain and her keen awareness of her fragile mortality should have eclipsed all else. Until there had been more grief, and no more Sypha to help him through it.

This was a very different Sypha. Alucard searched her face for some kind of mercy.

Sypha tilted her head. "Huh. Your eyes did change, didn't they?"

Alucard nodded.

"Why?" she asked. Was her voice softer now, or was she just tired and resigned?

Alucard shrugged. She wasn't hurting his, so this was an improvement on previous encounters. He kept talking. "My thirst was o-overwhelming. Now its- not."

"Are you saying you fucks can just turn that off?"

"N-no," Alucard said. He squeezed Sypha's heel slightly. "It- broke."

"Broke?" Sypha asked, "Like a curse?"

Alucard shook his head, "A-addiction, I think."

"Oh."

"I want. To be b-better. Like a- a person again."

"Do you?" Sypha said, "Or are you just telling me what you think I'd want to hear? Cause if I were in your place, I would say anything, anything, to get myself free."

Alucard stared at her. "No fangs. No magic. Even- even if I got out somehow, I- I won't survive in the wild."

Sypha's mouth hardened into a cruel line. "And you think I'll keep you alive? You don't deserve it."

Alucard ducked his head. He pressed his thumbs to the ball of Sypha's foot. "I can r-rub your feet. Do laundry."

"I already have a slave. One who hasn't tried to kill me."

Alucard winced. His mouth ached from so much speaking.

Sypha ignored him. She looked back towards the door. "Assuming Trevor ever comes back."

"He- he said he'd only b-be an hour."

"Yeah? How long ago was that?"

"Two hours, 43 minutes," Alucard said. If he'd read the microwave clock correctly. Numbers had always been easier for him to understand than language.

Sypha sighed. She fumbled with her pockets and then groaned, rolling her eyes. She pointed over to the hallway. "Would you grab my phone?"

"Phone?"

"It's in my purse," Sypha said, pointing at the cloth bag she'd left strewn under the arch that lead to the entry hall.

Alucard didn't bother to puzzle out what a phone was. He grabbed the whole bag and brought it to her.

"Thanks," Sypha said coldly. She fished out another rectangle of black glass. It lit up when she touched it. She tapped the glass and the device responded with a series of soft clicks.

Alucard heard something crunching- a large, heavy roll over concrete. It was muffled, coming from outside the house, but close by. He recognized it by now. He put a hand to his ear. "Oh."

"Vampire?" Sypha asked. Her clicking paused.

"He- he's here-" Alucard started. He was interrupted by the front door slamming open. They could both hear Trevor panting as though he'd finished a sprint. He staggered into the living room, still in his mucky shoes. His jacket was covered in dirt and slashed through on one arm.

"Bat boy?" he called.

"He's here, Trevor."

Trevor's eyes went wide. "Well, shit." He looked into the livingroom and gulped. "I can, umm, he can go back downstairs."

"It can wait," Sypha said. She sat up with a groan. "Are you okay? What happened?"

"Oh. There was a sighting. A demon, I think. Or else someone's fucked up dog has gotten loose."

"And did you catch it?"

"No," Trevor said. He kicked off his shoes and sat beside her. "It gave me a damn good chase though."

He looked over at Alucard. "Sorry I was gone so long."

Alucard shrugged. Was this really the man who'd managed to capture him? This was embarrassing.

Trevor considered Sypha. "Do you need a, umm-" He waived at Sypha's bare feet.

"It's been taken care of. How about you catch your breath, and then you can start on dinner."

"Yes, miss," Trevor said. He leaned back into the sofa.

"What happened to your jacket?" Sypha asked.

"What?" Trevor said. He reached out a hand and brushed his jacket like he hadn't noticed he was still wearing it. He fumbled around the tear in the sleeve. "Oh. Tree branch, I think."

Sypha and Alucard both snorted. Sypha looked over at him. The look was surprised. Then it morphed, like she was contemplating a bag of trash that needed to be taken out. Alucard gulped and looked away. She still hadn't hurt him, so really, things were going well.

"How long has he been up here?" she asked.

"Since this morning."

"No, Trevor. I mean, how long have you been sneaking him up and back while I was at work?"

Trevor shifted. He rubbed the back of his neck, suddenly uncomfortable. "I mean, it wasn't sneaking exactly. You never told me I couldn't bring him up here."

"Nine days," Alucard said.

Sypha glared at him. "This is dangerous. I don't like you taking these risks."

"Sypha, I was chasing after a monster in the woods today. I don't think that-"

"A w-worg, actually."

Trevor and Sypha stared at him. Alucard ducked his head. He was still kneeling by Sypha's feet. He cleared his throat. "It was- a dog demon. I can smell it. On you."

An awkward band of silence stretched through the air between them. Alucard shrank into himself, feeling the tension. He waited for it to snap.

"This is weird," Sypha said finally.

Trevor shrugged. He lay back, letting his head lull on the edge of the couch. "Your idea."

"I was thinking a monster in a cage. Not in my fucking living room."

Alucard couldn't take it anymore. He raised his head and stared at her. "W-what do you th-think I'm go-going to do?"

"Hmmm, let's see," Sypha said. She held out her fingers and considered the options in turn. "Neck bites. Strangulation. Chest lacerations. The man you literally gave a heart attack."

Alucard hissed. "I can't- can't do that anymore."

"I don't care," Sypha said, "I don't care if putting you in a collar and taking your teeth physically prevents you from killing us. It was something. You. Did. And I have no reason to believe that you wouldn't do it again if circumstances changed. You should be in chains now."

She looked over at Trevor. "He should be in chains right now."

"At least take him out for dinner first."

Trevor said it casually, not bothering to raise his head from the sofa back. Sypha, however, snapped up right and glared at him. Her face turned pink.

"That's not- Trevor you know that's not how I meant that."

Alucard blinked. He raised an eyebrow.

"Look. I'm not saying I'm jealous. Just- you could bring some of that passion into the bedroom sometime. Put me in chains."

Sypha threw a pillow at him. "We are not talking about this right now. Not in front of him.

"Okay, okay," Trevor said. He raised his hands and then slowly lifted his head. He brushed the pillow off his chest. "I'll go start dinner."

"Please put him back downstairs first."

Trevor sighed. He put his hands on his knees and stood up. "Alucard? Can I take you back to the basement?"

Alucard nodded. He grabbed the workbooks and his notes. Getting away from Sypha and her barbs would be a relief. Even if he was dreading another long night huddling against the cold.

Trevor walked over. He extended his arm and helped Alucard upright. Alucard raised an eyebrow. "Y-you know I can walk on, on my own, right?"

"Oh, yeah. Right," Trevor said. He let go of Alucard's wrist immediately. "Meet me at the stairs?"

Alucard nodded. He walked past Sypha, not daring to look over. He ducked into the hallway and slumped down the wall. The dozen steps required had taken more effort than he'd thought possible. Maybe he should have let Trevor carry him.

Trevor didn't follow him. Alucard was glad. It gave him a moment to compose himself. Sypha was terrifying.

"I'm not locking him back up," Trevor said, "It isn't needed."

"Trevor, what if-" Sypha started. She dropped her voice to a whisper. As though Alucard couldn't hear both of them keenly from the other side of the wall. "What if he jumps you?"

"He won't."

"At least gag him?"

"Sypha, please. You have to trust me on this."

"I-" Sypha started. She sighed. "Okay. Okay, I trust you. But this conversation isn't over."

"After dinner?"

"After dinner."

 

He got Alucard downstairs and deposited him on the dog bed. Then he made an odd noise. Alucard jerked his head up, trying to pull himself out of the divine spell far too fast, and getting a disorienting cascade of golden spots in his vision for his trouble. Was Trevor okay? He was making a sort of rumbling gurgle.

He was. Trevor was laughing- just a light chuckle as he stood back up.

"You're not gonna believe me, bat boy. But that went really, really well."

Alucard gaped at him. "W-was this all- was this a p-ploy to get Sypha and I to- to talk?"

"Nah," Trevor said. He waved a hand. "I really did chase a, what did you call it? A worg? Through the damn woods for a couple hours."

He looked up the basement steps. "Just, I've been trying to get her to come down and talk to you for days. And it turned out all I had to do was fuck up."

"Is- will she p-punish you now?"

Trevor ran a hand through his hair. He grinned. "Probably not. A boy can dream though."

Alucard stared up at him. "You are- very odd."

"I'm also on the hook for dinner. Night."

"Goodnight," Alucard whispered. He watched Trevor's weary progress back up stairs until he was lost in the light.

 

He heard them yelling that night.

The basement wasn't sound-proof, and Alucard had heard things filter in from the house upstairs before; mechanical whirring and beeping; Trevor swearing as he cleaned; Sypha arguing loudly over a phone; the low and unmistakable creaking of a wooden frame that indicated love making to Alucard; Trevor begging and whimpering and screaming.

In Alucard's defense, he couldn't just turn his senses off the way Sypha had disabled his strength and magic.

Now that he was free to wander the basement, however, Alucard realized that the sounds were not filtering randomly into the room. They got louder as he paced. He paused near the washing machine and tilted his head. He cupped a hand around his ear. The sounds weren't just louder here. They were clearer. He could almost make out words.

He scanned the wall. Tucked into the shadow beside the washer, there was a vent. Alucard put his ear to it and heard them like they were speaking in the room beside him.

Or, yelling, rather. Alucard winced.

"Just fucking hear me out, okay?"

"Okay, Trevor. I'm listening."

Alucard pressed the cartilage of his ear into the vent, and heard as Trevor dipped his voice into a kind of forced calm.

"He's half human. Was raised by people, and lived among people. And I think he wants that again. What we saw at the beginning wasn't him. It was his thirst."

"Are you saying his thirst has magically gone away?"

Alucard heard Trevor sighed. "No. I don't think so. He's just controlling it now."

"And what if he loses control?"

"Wasn't that the point of ripping out his teeth?"

"No. That was to break him. If he had the capacity to kill people before, then he still has it now. I can't believe you just let him wander up here. What if he grabs a knife from the kitchen?"

"Well, he could have done that already. And he hasn't."

"Trevor," Sypha said. Alucard heard a note of desperation in her voice. "I saw his victims, okay? I saw what he can do. I'm just trying to keep us safe. To keep you safe. Please."

"And I've seen him as he is now. He deserves a chance and he's been doing well. I thought you believed in second chances."

"Trevor?"

"Yeah?"

"You've fallen for him."

Alucard pressed his face hard enough to the vent that he could hear the metal straining. He heard wood and box springs creek. Trevor's heavy footsteps echoed vaguely above him. Alucard could feel his heart in his chest, rattling like a single coin in a beggar's cup. He didn't want to hear what Trevor was going to say next, but he couldn't remove his ear.

"Fuck you."

"Trevor, that's not how I meant it. I'm not accusing you. I'm just saying."

"What? That I'm the fucking damsel drawn in by the vampire's dark charms? Fuck that."

"What if he's manipulating you? Got you under some kind of magical control- something subtle?"

"I thought the silver collar prevented that."

"I- thought so too."

"Shit. But now you think-- you think I'm-"

Alucard heard Sypha's footsteps now. She crossed the room. Alucard could picture her joining Trevor. Maybe she'd grab his chin and force him around to face her, or push him down to his knees and make him look up at her.

When she spoke again, though, her voice was very gentle. Alucard barely heard her. It altered the scene in Alucard's mind. He saw them embracing. It put a lump in his throat.

"There's nothing wrong with you," she said. Alucard gulped. There was the Sypha he had known, the comfort in her voice. "You haven't done anything wrong and I'm not mad at you. You are so special to me. I love you."

"Sypha, I-"

"I'm asking you to take care of yourself first. Please?"

"I dunno how to do that," Trevor rasped.

"Can I suggest something?"

"Yeah."

"Stay away from him. Get yourself some space and clear your head. Focus on this hunt. Give it a week. And if you still feel the same- well- then we'll figure something out, I guess."

"Sypha?"

"Yes?"

"I love you. You know that, right?"

Sypha laughed. "Yes, Trevor. I know. I'm not worried about us. Just about you. I know all of this has been hard. I think you've gotten too close to him. Can you stay out of the basement for a week?"

"Yeah," Trevor said, "I can."

Chapter Text

(past)

Alucard waited at the top step the next morning, even though he knew things had changed. He clutched his workbook and notes to his chest. He tapped his pencil nub on the concrete.

He heard their goodbyes in the hallway. The door opened, and then was closed and locked. Sypha was gone.

Trevor sighed. He stepped back- closer. Towards the living room, Alucard thought, or towards the basement. But which?

Basement, Alucard decided. There was that single, rusted coin in his chest again, rattling between his ribs and leaving dents on his lungs. Whether he desired Trevor had never been in question. He'd been confronted with that from the beginning. But whether Trevor returned that interest? That was an open question now, and Alucard caught himself mulling over their conversations, seeking evidence. Here was some slight proof now, the gentle thumps of Trevor's feet as he got closer, nearer. Alucard raised his head.

And then the footsteps stopped.

No. He just had to come a little further. Alucard gulped and extended a hand, as though he could reach Trevor through the holy ward and the closed door.

Was it magic after all? Alucard had never studied the more subtle vampiric gifts. He had never tried to compulse someone. He'd been told before that his eyes were entrancing, but he hadn't stopped to wonder if he could influence someone's will or slip into their mind just by meeting their gaze. Had he somehow magicked him by mistake? The coin dropped heavy into Alucard's stomach and he suddenly felt cold.

Was that possible?

Alucard paused. There was silence on the other side of the door. He reached out as far as he could. His fingertips hummed. If he pressed any further, his hand would get stuck in the holy ward.

"T-trevor?"

He heard a sharp intake of breath from the other side. Trevor stepped backwards.

"I'm sorry," he said. He walked away.

 

It snowed that night. At first, Alucard couldn't puzzle out why his handwriting had turned shaky and sloppier than usual. His shivering got worse. His fingers and toes became numb, until he couldn't feel them at all. His teeth chattered. It finally occurred to him to look up at the small window. He saw it half-covered in white powder.

Alucard curled himself up under the blankets, covering as much of his body as he could. It wouldn't help. He didn't produce body heat. Under good conditions, well-fed and wearing multiple layers, he could stave off cold for a few hours at best. He was always lukewarm, noticeably colder than the humans around him.

He had never considered cold to be a threat so much as an inconvenience. But as Alucard lay in the suffocating and freezing dark under the blankets, getting colder by degrees, he wondered if hypothermia could get to him after all.

He lost track of time. His limbs became numb, and the shivering stopped. He couldn't move. His breathing grew shallow and ragged.

Cold. Certainly, he associated it with death. His father had been cold, an icy hand that had taken Alucard's own as he'd helped him wield a sword for the first time. Cold was Alucard's constant companion, a chill in his heart and in his mind that haunted him. And only feeding had warmed him back up. Did humans understand that? Their blood was desirable not just for the powerful high that it inspired, but for the sheer carnal warmth of it flooding into a vampire's frigid body.

Alucard was slowly freezing. He was still a monster. Sypha hated him. And Trevor would too. The reprieve of warm baths and sitting in a couch in the light with Trevor at his side had been a dream- because Alucard only understood dreams to be fleeting visions of wistful and impossible futures. He was still trapped, miserable, defanged and rendered helpless.

Before, he would protect himself from the coldest nights by transforming into a wolf. But that form, with its lovely warm pelt, required magic. So Alucard lay there, curled up and crystallizing under the useless blankets as days stretched out and the cold outside seeped deeper and deeper into his bones.

Maybe this was also what he deserved.

Slowly, it started to change. The aching awareness of the cold diminished in his limbs and chest. Sensation was a vague memory. Breathing didn't hurt anymore, because he was barely bothering to drag in breathes.

He felt warm again. It was just a vague sense in his fingertips, a kind of glow. The sensation of warmth seeped into his palms, his elbows, reached his chest. It was dangerous. It was consuming him. He was losing his senses and that came with the illusion of heat.

From very far away, he heard something. A voice maybe- the voice of a ghost. Vibrations resounded through his chest.

"Get up, vampire."

Light assaulted him. Somehow it burned cold, unbearable.

"I said get up."

Something struck his stomach. Alucard was rolled onto his back.

"Vampire?"

"Sypha, what's wrong?"

"You shouldn't be here. You're supposed to-"

"Oh shit."

The hands that touched him might as well have been live embers. The contact burned.

"It's too fucking cold down here."

"I thought vampires didn't feel cold."

"He's only half, remember? Alucard, are you there? Can you hear me?"

Nodding took far more effort than he could manage.

"Shit," Trevor said. Alucard's numb body was picked up, and burning warmth pricked into his chest and shoulders and head where Trevor cradled him. "Sypha, you were supposed to take care of him."

"I didn't think that he'd-" Sypha started. She gulped. "I'll, uhh, start a bath."

"Please be okay," Trevor said, "Please, please be okay."

Trevor was overwhelming. He was real, warm, pulsing, a cascade of life seeping into Alucard. Alucard felt Trevor shiver. Why was it like this every time? Why was it Alucard's nature to siphon life? Heat- blood- he couldn't maintain it for himself, and all his instincts told him to steal it from others. Alucard made a weak grasping motion, pressing himself deeper into Trevor's hold.

"Fuck," Trevor said, "Shouldn't have left you for so long."

Alucard numbly realized that he was being carried up stairs. Something cracked up through his body like a fissure in ice. It was panic. He batted his arms onto Trevor's back.

"It'll be okay. You're gonna be okay," Trevor told him.

Alucard needed to come back into his body. He needed to speak. But he couldn't. He couldn't communicate the absolute certainty that being pushed through a holy ward right now was going to tear him apart.

The humming started in his back and shoulders. It crackled through his weakened frame. Someone screamed. The nothingness around him glowed, showers of golden sparks cascading in the dark like the trails of comets striking him over and over. And then everything went dark.


(present)

"Well, you've lost two pounds," Sypha said, "You're anemic and malnourished."

Alucard looked down at the scale. Then he looked at Sypha. His lip twitched. "Oh no. N-not again."

Sypha gave him a small smile. She shook her head. "I know. Every month. Go ahead and sit on the toilet. I want to check your blood pressure."

Alucard did as he was told. He leaned back on the porcelain seat and raised his arm when Sypha reached for it. She wrapped a thick, dark blue band around his bicep. She kissed his cheek.

"How do you feel?" she asked.

Alucard shrugged. "Cold."

"I'll bet," Sypha said. She nodded and adjusted the band on his arm. "Anything else? Have you felt faint, or dizzy?"

Alucard tilted his head, considering the question. Most of the times he felt dizzy were when he was carried through one of the wards. Or when Trevor played with him in a way that made his knees wobble. It was only at the very last days before Sypha's cycle started again that he found himself struggling to stand up, or trying to rise, only to have the world sway around him.

"A little dizzy," Alucard admitted, "On the l-last few days before you, uhh, feed me."

"Last few days?" Sypha said, "I thought it was only the day before."

"It- was."

"So it's gotten worse," Sypha said. She chewed on her lip, "If it were just that- or just the weight loss, I wouldn't worry. But, put together-" she shook her head. She adjusted the band and slipped a stethoscope between it and Alucard's skin. She started to squeeze the connected pump. The band cinched around Alucard's arm until it ached.

Alucard sighed and leaned back. Just as soon as the pressure from the band had become uncomfortable, it loosened around his arm again with a hiss.

Sypha whistled. "Seventy over forty-five."

"Is that, umm, still low?" Alucard asked.

"Extremely low," Sypha said, "Guess that makes sense."

"So what d-do we-?"

"You're writing a letter to Erica, and we're getting you more blood," Sypha said.

"Yes, miss."

Sypha grinned at him. She pet his head before removing the blood pressure band. She folded it away into her med kit. "Anything else you've noticed? Any changes?"

"Yes," Alucard said, before he could stop himself.

"Yes?" Sypha said. She raised an eyebrow and looked at him. "What is it?"

Alucard gulped. "Mouth hurts."

"More phantom pains?" Sypha asked.

Alucard ducked his head. He gave the tiniest shake of his head. "D-don't think so."

"Alucard?" Sypha asked. She put a hand under his chin and gently raised his head back up. "Please tell me what's wrong?"

Alucard gulped. "Fangs are grow-growing back."

Sypha winced. She withdrew her hand. "What?"

Alucard shivered. That was the reaction he'd been afraid of. He put up a hand and reached for her wrist. "Please, Sypha, I-I'm not."

He grabbed her hand. Sypha looked back at him. What did she expect? Did she expect his eyes to be red, or his fangs to be poking out from under his upper lip? After so long, did she really think that all the work that she had done would be undone so easily?

"I'm not g-going to hurt you," Alucard said.

"No," Sypha said. She shook her head, and shock fell away from her. She squeezed his hand in return. "Of course not. I'm sorry."

"Thank you for telling me."

She leaned in and offered him her other arm. Alucard sank into her hold. He shivered. Sypha wrapped her arms around him and held him close. She was warm and comforting. He leaned on her breasts. He took a deep breath.

"You know I won't let you keep them, right?"

Alucard nodded into her chest.

"Poor puppy," Sypha said. She leaned back and ruffled his hair. "You're free to go. I don't have anything else to check."

Alucard stood up. He stretched. He walked back to the door and leaned on the frame, watching Sypha wind up her stethoscope. It was one of the rare days when Sypha was home and Trevor was gone. He'd gone out to the gym, and then to run a few errands. It was stressful, being alone with Sypha.

"Need help?" Alucard asked.

Sypha shook her head. She picked up the med kit and followed him out into the hallway. "I've got this. You realize this is all really simple equipment, right? I'd love to get you under an MRI."

"Under a what?"

"Magnetic- umm- something imaging," Sypha said, "Not really sure how it works. But it uses electrical currents to take a very detailed image of your insides. It'd be fascinating to know how your stomach works."

Alucard hugged his abdomen, suddenly feeling more exposed than he usually did being mostly naked. "That sounds p-painful."

"It's not," Sypha said, "But, you don't have to worry. I can't imagine how we'd manage to sneak you into Avarona."

She looked back. Alucard had paused just inside the hallway, holding himself. He felt vulnerable and cold. He wanted Trevor to come home so he could go back to hiding in his room and warm up under the electric blanket.

"Alucard? Are you okay?"

He nodded.

"Are you sure?" Sypha asked. She stepped back towards him.

He shook his head.

"Would you like to cuddle until Trevor gets back?"

"Please."


(past) 

Alucard woke up in a bed. He blinked. He scanned his surroundings. They were unfamiliar. He was in a narrow, plain room. A desk was tucked under a window on the opposite wall. Light filtered in through the edges of the window curtain. There were a few shelves lined with a spattering of magazines.

He'd never been able to sleep in a bed before. He had always required a coffin. Alucard shifted under the covers, trying to rise, and registered three things in tandem. He was terribly stiff and sore, he was warm, and he was naked.

Stranger things occurred to Alucard as he took stock of his body. His hair had been braided back. There was a silver collar around his neck.

"Oh," Alucard said. His memory came back to him with the momentum of a battering ram. He held his head. The entire alphabet tumbled past his scrunched eyelids. Trevor. Sypha. A ridiculous nickname. A freezing basement. So many strange little tortures, foremost among them the memory of Trevor and Sypha kneeling over him, Trevor leaning on his throat to keep him down, Sypha holding a pair of pliers.

Alucard groaned. He sat upright and put a trembling hand to his mouth. He pressed a finger to his front teeth and worked backwards. He traced the gap between his incisors and molars.

It had all been real. This was real. Which meant that he hadn't fallen asleep. He'd fainted. He'd actually fallen unconscious. Someone, Trevor at a guess, had stripped him, bathed him, and left him in the guest bedroom.

Keeping himself upright made him shiver again. Alucard slumped back into the bed. The blankets were luxuriously warm on top of him. He closed his eyes. There was no need for him to get up. Someone would come for him if he was wanted.

Hopefully, "someone" would be Trevor.

Alucard sighed. He pressed his head back into the pillow. Pillows had gotten softer in the last few centuries. Blankets had gotten warmer. He purred. He could just hear a buzzing sound, as though something nearby was humming with energy. Alucard scanned the top cover. It was a thick looking, navy blue plush blanket. Why was it buzzing?

Alucard reached out one hand. The blanket was hot. He noticed a cord trailing away from one of its corners. It was keeping him warm.

Alucard snuggled in under the electric blanket.

He didn't have to wait long before he heard heavy footsteps cross the hall and stop at the door. He heard a light tap.

"C-come in?"

Trevor paused on the other side. Alucard heard him gulp. He eased the door open.

"Hey there," Trevor said. He stood in the doorframe, awkwardly shifting his feet. "You, uhh, feeling better?"

"Warmer," Alucard said.

"No fucking kidding. Sorry about that."

"How long was I-?" Alucard asked.

"Four days. I'd say you were asleep, but honestly you looked half-dead."

"I am."

Trevor starred at him. "What?"

"Half v-vampire. Half dead."

Trevor shook his head. He walked into the room, pushed the chair away from the desk, and sat down. "Don't joke about that. You scared me."

Alucard looked up at him. He didn't ask "then why did you abandon me?". He didn't want to push it. He just wanted to lay in this bed, under a blanket, absorbing as much heat as he could manage before things got worse again.

Trevor sighed. He combed his fingers through his hair, scanning the room, refusing to meet Alucard's eyes. "Look. If you're willing to give me a chance, I'd like to do things right this time."

"What does t-that mean?"

"Well, first off," Trevor said. He leaned to the side, and grabbed a paper bag Alucard hadn't even noticed from under the desk. He placed it on top of the blanket. It was full, and lighter than Alucard expected.

Alucard raised an eyebrow. "What is this?"

"See for yourself. I promise nothing in there is gonna hurt you. Unless you manage to give yourself a papercut."

Alucard scooted up in the bed. He peered in the bag, spied cloth, and pulled out a shirt. He shook it out at the shoulders.

"I kinda guessed your size," Trevor said. Alucard pulled out another two shirts, a pair of pants, and plastic packages that contained socks and underwear. "So, let me know if things don't fit."

He stood up and returned the chair to the desk. He made for the door, but stopped when Alucard called his name.

"Why?"

"Told you. I'd like to do things right this time."

"I-is this aftercare, then?" Alucard asked, "You're fix-fixing me up, so Sypha can t-torture me?"

Trevor winced. "That's not what aftercare is. That's not how this is supposed to work."

"Why bother?" Alucard said. He knocked the bag and the clothes onto the floor. They fell with an unsatisfying thump. "Why put in the d-damned effort, if I'm gonna end up in, in the basement again?"

"You're not."

"Really?" Alucard said. He glared at Trevor, ignoring the twinge in his jaw. "What if Sypha s-says so?"

"Sypha and I have talked," Trevor said, "This is your room now. If you want it."

Alucard gulped. He looked around the bedroom again. "Here?"

"Yeah," Trevor said, "There's more than that though. We need to negotiate properly. Which means you need to get better, and the three of us need to sit down and have an actual conversation."

"You expect me to-to talk to her?"

Trevor sighed. "This would be easier if you could write. Maybe, you can just focus on talking to me?"

Alucard snorted.

"It doesn't have to be tonight," Trevor said, "We have time."

"No. Let's g-get this over with."

"Okay then. I recommend not doing it naked though. I won't be able to focus."

Alucard raised an eyebrow.

Trevor's cheeks went pink. He cleared his throat and stood up. "Just, check if the clothes fit. Please."

Chapter Text

(past)

That evening, Alucard was dressed in new clothes and sitting on a chair in the living room. Sypha sat at the opposite side of the short table. She fidgeted with her phone, clicking at the screen, her brows furrowed together.

"Alright," Trevor said. He put a last plate in the dish rack beside the sink. "I'm gonna grab something to write with. Be back in a minute."

Sypha looked up. "I can do that."

Trevor waived the offer away. "Rest your feet. This'll just take a second."

"Fine," Sypha sighed. She put away her phone and, once Trevor was out of the room, finally looked at Alucard. "He really likes you."

Alucard shrugged.

"If you ever try to hurt him, I will make you sorry."

Alucard considered her. There was no venom in her words. It was just a statement. It made him believe her.

"I know."

"Okay then," Sypha said. She leaned back, her shoulders visibly loosening. "We can do this."

Trevor returned with a yellow pad of paper and an assortment of pens. He scooted past Sypha and sat on the sofa between them.

"Alright. Just so we're all clear," Trevor said. He tapped a pen on the blank paper. "This isn't a legal document or anything. It's not set in stone, we can make changes together. It's just some basic ideas of how we're gonna make this work so that you," he jabbed the pen at Alucard, "Aren't constantly miserable. And you," he pointed at Sypha, "don't have a heart attack. Make sense?"

Alucard nodded. He saw Sypha doing the same.

"Cool. Alucard, how do you spell your name?"

Alucard gulped. He spelled it out for Trevor, if only because making a fuss would be more suspicious.

Trevor jotted down his name, Sypha's, and then his own. Then he looked at Sypha. "Uhh, do you remember today's date?"

Sypha rolled her eyes. "Does this really matter, Trevor?"

"I dunno. Makes it seem kinda official, right?"

Sypha held up her hands. "Fine. It's December 16th."

Trevor added a note. "Alright, first off. Housing. Alucard sleeps in the guest bedroom."

"Only if the holy ward stays on the door," Sypha said, "I don't want him wandering around at night."

"Then y-you can't enter my room," Alucard said.

Sypha looked up at him. "How are we going to carry you over the spell if we can't enter?"

"Not you," Alucard said, encompassing both her and Trevor in a wave of his hand. He pointed at Sypha. "Just you."

Sypha narrowed her eyes.

Trevor cleared his throat. He looked at Sypha. "I think that's fair." He started to write.

"Okay. But let's get a couple of basics out of the way," Sypha said, "Your collar stays on. You're not allowed outside. And if you even try anything funny, you're back in the basement."

"Sypha?" Trevor said.

"Fine," Sypha said. She held up her hands. "Back in his room."

Alucard looked at her, and then considered Trevor. He'd expected those. "O-okay."

Sypha raised an eyebrow, but said nothing.

"Right," Trevor said. He jotted a few things down and then looked up from the paper. "What about, umm, blood?"

A blush spread across Sypha's face. "What about it?"

Trevor looked pointedly at Alucard. "Are you getting enough?"

"No s-such thing as enough," Alucard said.

"Hmm. How about this, then. Are we starving you?"

"No."

"Okay. Sypha, with your cycle, how often can he expect-"

"Four days every twenty four days," Sypha said. She was still slightly pink in the face. "As long as things stay-- consistent."

"Could we get some kind of backup option?" Trevor asked, "Like, I dunno. Isn't there a blood bank at Avarona?"

"I'm sorry. You're proposing I steal life saving blood donations so the vampire doesn't miss a meal?"

"I have a name."

Sypha glared at him. Then she caught Trevor's eye. "Okay. So Alucard doesn't miss a meal."

"Thank you," Alucard said.

Trevor sighed. "What happens if you don't get enough blood? Are you gonna go all red-eyed and feral on us again?"

"D-doesn't work like that. I'll get weaker. And i-irritable."

"Alright, well, if having a fallback isn't possible," Trevor said, nodding at Sypha, "I guess that'll be okay." He leaned back and rubbed his temples. "Can we agree no more torture?"

"Th-th-that would be nice."

"I still need to test things," Sypha said, "As soon as work slows down. I have some holy circles I want to try out."

Alucard gulped. "That sounds t-terrible."

"Yeah, and if they work, I could cast a ward across the entire town. Do you have a clue how many people that would protect?"

Alucard held up his hands. "O-okay. Just don't k-kick me, this time."

"What?"

"Are you saying she should just ask you, whether something works or not?" Trevor clarified.

Alucard nodded.

"I mean, as long as you're honest with me," Sypha said, "That would be useful."

"Yes, miss."

Sypha shook her head. "Don't call me that. You haven't earned it."

Trevor cleared his throat. "Okay. Testing, but not torture. Nothing painful for its own sake. Can we all agree on that? Please?"

"If you're go-going to test something painf-ful, can you give me b-blood, after?"

"Cause that's how you heal, right?"

Alucard nodded.

Sypha folded her arms. "I can't bleed on command. And neither of us are injuring ourselves for you. Ever." Her eyes weren't on Alucard. She looked at Trevor.

Trevor looked back at her. "You could wait until your period starts to test things, though? Right?"

"I'm not getting near him while I'm bleeding," Sypha said. She wrinkled her nose.

Alucard gulped. They were speaking quickly. He didn't know how to insert himself, and he was afraid of Sypha turning her glare back to him.

"Just before, then?" Trevor said. He looked over at Alucard. "Would that be alright? If you only had to wait a day or so? I'd- um- take care of you. Until then."

Alucard shrugged.

Trevor wrote down another note. He considered the page, which was mostly covered in his blocky handwriting. "Anything else we need to talk about?"

"My fangs?"

Trevor looked at Alucard, a little wearily. "What about them?"

"What d-did you do, with them?"

"Oh," Trevor said. He scratched his head. "Um-"

"I threw them away," Sypha said.

"What?!"

She returned his horrified expression coldly. "They were dangerous. You were dangerous with them. Keeping them was an unnecessary risk. I tossed them in sharps disposal."

"They're j-just gone?" Alucard croaked.

"Yes."

Alucard sank his head into his hands. "Do-do you have any idea? What those meant, to me?"

"I have a notion," Sypha snapped back, "Did they represent your power over humans? Did they make you feel like a dangerous predator, something violent and other and superior? Did you enjoy the feeling of instilling terror just by opening your mouth?"

"Sypha?" Trevor said.

"You aren't getting your fangs back. You don't get to hurt anyone. And you should be grateful."

"G-grateful?" Alucard stammered.

"Yes," Sypha said, "You have a chance to be better, now. Do you even realize that? We're offering you a place to live, blood to drink, a bed and clothes-"

"Sypha, that isn't fair," Trevor interrupted, "He didn't get a choice. We didn't offer. We forced this on him."

"He did, though? Didn't you? You made the choice to kill people, instead of finding a better way."

Alucard raised his head. He looked at Sypha. "Yes. It- it didn't feel like a choice at, at the time. B-but it was. Happy?"

"That isn't the same," Trevor said, "I mean, it's not like you woke up one day and just decided to start killing people, right? It was a- a slow sinking into it. Just a bite, at the beginning, and it felt good, and it helped you forget the ways you were in pain. But the pain came back stronger afterwards, over and over until you needed to drink more and more to fix it. That's how it works, right?"

"Right?" he said again, "That's how it works?"

Alucard stared at him. He gulped. This, then, was the other, critical way that this Trevor was the same as the one that he had known.

"Trevor?" Sypha asked.

Trevor looked over at her. His eyes were overbright. "And you helped me," he said, "You were so fucking patient with me. All of my stupid bullshit. You helped me sober up. And I thought that maybe this- could be like that. But no. You just wanted something to abuse-- a test dummy, I guess."

"I- that's not-" Sypha started.

"What does that make me, then?" he asked, "What am I, to you?" Except he wasn't really asking. Trevor sank until his head was between his knees. He started to shake.

"Trevor, I didn't mean-" Sypha said. She extended a hand. "I didn't realize-" She put a hand on his shoulder.

Trevor swatted her hand away. "No. No, you fucking didn't."

Sypha winced. She withdrew her hand.

Alucard didn't remember standing up. Centuries of darkness fell away from him like so many shadows cast off into the morning light. Trevor was in pain and he wanted to help. He stepped to the sofa. He put his arms around him.

Sypha gasped. Trevor tensed in his hold. Alucard heard him suck in a breath. Then he let it out in something between a sob and a gasp. He leaned into Alucard's arms.

"T-trevor?" Alucard asked. He sat on the sofa and adjusted. Trevor pressed his face into his chest. Alucard cradled his head.

"Sorry," Trevor rasped, "This, this isn't 'bout me."

"You're okay," Alucard told him. He put his other hand on Trevor's back. "You're good. S-so good."

"I'm getting your new shirt wet."

Alucard laughed. "That- that's okay too." He ruffled Trevor's hair.

Trevor looked up at him. He sniffed. "Shit. I didn't think you-- umm."

"I cared about you once," Alucard told him, "I, uhh, still do."

Trevor chuckled. "That's gay."

Alucard raised an eyebrow. "I-- guess it is?"

"Oh, umm," Trevor started. He suddenly looked worried. "I didn't mean it like that. Well, I did. But in a good way? Does that make sense?"

"No?"

Trevor sighed. He pressed his face back into Alucard's chest. "I'll explain later."

Still confused, Alucard let himself sink into the sofa, relishing Trevor's body pressed into his. Things were happening quickly and he didn't understand half of them. He heard someone shift and looked up. He gulped. He'd forgotten Sypha was even in the room.

She had a hand over her mouth. Her eyes were wide. Alucard considered her. Then he shook his head. He focused on holding Trevor.

Trevor seemed content leaning on him, trembling like a small bird. He was so delicate. His pulse and unsteady breathing emphasized this to Alucard. He was finite and wonderful.

If this was what it had taken to have Trevor in his life again, well, maybe it was worth it.

"Alucard?"

He looked up wearily. He pressed Trevor closer to him, putting a hand on his head as though to protect him.

Sypha sighed. She grabbed a blanket draped on the armrest of the sofa. She spread it across Trevor's back.

Alucard raised an eyebrow at her. Sypha shook her head. She left the room.

 

Trevor stirred. He wiped his eyes and sniffed. He pushed himself slightly away from Alucard's chest. Alucard let his hands drop.

"Shit," he said. He looked around. "I uhh, derailed everything. This wasn't supposed to be about me."

"Trevor?"

Trevor rubbed his forehead. "I can explain."

"No need," Alucard said, "You were a, umm, drunkard?"

Trevor sighed. "Makes it sound like I was some kinda loveable idiot, not an angry, broken asshole." He sat up, pulling out of Alucard's hold. The blanket slipped off his shoulders. He leaned back onto the sofa. "Fuck. Does that mean the old Trevor, the one you knew, was he fucked up too?"

"He was- sad," Alucard said, "Lonely. Bitter. An idiot. F-fiercely loyal."

"Shit. That-- does sound a little like me."

Alucard watched him stand up. He swallowed down a lump in his throat and clasped his hands together as though he could hold onto the mere feeling of holding him.

Trevor stood beside the living room table. He shook himself and ran his fingers through his hair. He looked so vulnerable right now. In that moment, he was Trevor Belmont; not a reincarnation or an illusion or a ghost or a freak coincidence but the man himself, stolen from time and made solid in all of his complexities, all of his anger and embarrassment and shame. He was a whirligig of his own emotions and experiences.

He cleared his throat and looked down at Alucard. The moment broke. He was someone separate.

"H-how did you meet?" Alucard asked.

"Sypha and I, you mean?"

He nodded.

"Jeez," Trevor said, "That's, uhh, not an easy one to explain. You know, her parents think we met in med school."

"M-med school?"

"Yeah. Truth is she was interning at a hospital I got admitted to. Three times."

Alucard tilted his head. "Hunting injuries?"

"Nah. Had to get my stomach pumped. I was a drunken mess," he said. He shook his head and looked away from Alucard, kicking at the carpet. "She tried to help. Spent a lot of time with me. Got me in touch with a support group. And then of course I thought it meant she was into me. So I left her my number before I was discharged the last time."

"Mind you, I was too much of a fucking screw up to just hand it to her. I left her a note."

Alucard watched Trevor start to pace. He didn't understand half of what Trevor was saying, but he wasn't going to interrupt when the story was tumbling out of him like a rock thrown down a waterfall. He simply followed Trevor's circuit across the room, feeling the familiarity of his pain. He'd known Trevor's pain before. That, at least, he understood.

"Well, she texted me out of the blue four months later. After the internship ended, but of course I didn't know that. We set up a date. Well, I thought it was a date. Turns out I'd talked some nonsense about fighting monsters and demons and Sypha, she'd seen too many victims, too many injuries that didn't make sense. She wanted to know more."

"Wait. Hunting? That's how you?"

Trevor looked up like he'd forgotten he was even talking to anyone. He'd been muttering at his feet. He paused in the middle of the room.

"Well, yeah. Think it was easy for her? She grew up in a city. With magical fucking powers. I guess I was the first person who believed her. Mind you, I was basically hanging off every word she said."

Alucard gave him a small smile.

"It wasn't even romantic, for her. Not at the beginning. We moved in together after she graduated cause- I dunno- cause the first person you meet who believes you and doesn't stare like you're crazy- it's so damn liberating. And that worked, for a while. I was working at a grocery store. She found a position at Avarona, that's the hospital where she works. I did hunt stuff on the weekends and she had all these ideas. All this research she'd done, although most of what you can find online is garbage. But she started building wards and spells. And she would patch me up when I got home so it just sort of worked."

"Till I fucked up," he said. He started pacing again.

Alucard squeezed his hands together. He wanted to stand up and hold Trevor again. But he was forgetting. For a moment, he had let himself forget that this was a new person, and what he'd done to him. Even if all he could see right now was his old lover in pain, he made himself stay seated. This Trevor wasn't his. Alucard watched him.

"I relapsed. Started drinking again. Lost my job. I was mopey and angry and pathetic. And when she confronted me about it," he said. He paused and put his head in his hands. His face turned red between his fingers. "When she told me I was ruining my fucking life, I snapped. I screamed at her. I got all big and confrontational and I shoved her."

"And do you know what?" Trevor asked.

Alucard shook his head, realized Trevor couldn't see him with his head in his hands, and tried to think of something to say.

Trevor kept talking. "She shoved me right back. Sat me down in a chair and told me that she'd control me if I couldn't control myself."

"Really?" Alucard said.

Trevor pulled his head out of his hands and gave Alucard a sheepish smile. "Yup. And it worked."

"Yeah?"

"I'm lucky," Trevor said, "I'm so fucking lucky to be owned by her. Controlled, by her. Guess I kinda, uhh, projected that onto you."

Alucard looked up at him. Controlled and owned were dangerous words. He gulped.

Trevor looked back at him. He stepped towards the couch and then paused. "Shit. I don't think anyone's bothered to ask. I guess, I mean, I always assumed that somewhere under all the evil, every vampire still has some humanity. You know, some desire to live a regular life again. But you were never human. You've always been this way."

Alucard shook his head. "No. I was- less a monster, once."

"What about now?"

"Now?"

"What do you want?" Trevor asked, "Shit, what do you actually want? Am I one of those idiots who's brought in a coyote thinking it's a stray dog?"

Alucard tilted his head. He cleared his throat. And for a moment he considered telling Trevor everything. He'd stutter through the shame and explain the grief and the guilt and his parents as impossible, axiomatic symbols of good and evil. He'd explain Sypha and Trevor, the originals, and how he'd loved them. He'd tell this man who he'd known for about two months, who had done terrible things to him, that he was falling in love with him again.

Alucard swallowed the words back. He looked down at his clasped hands.

"What do you want, Alucard?"

"Blood," Alucard told his fingers.

It wasn't a lie.

Trevor sighed. "Dunno what else I fucking expected."

Chapter Text

(past)

Things got easier and much, much harder after that. Trevor was cold to him. He wasn't chatty anymore. He left Alucard to work in the living room or at his desk in the bedroom. He no longer asked for help with chores.

On the other hand, Alucard couldn't remember the last time he'd lived this comfortably. The itching of the silver collar and his thirst aside, he had a roof over his head and a bed to rest in. Modern clothes and warm water at the turn of a tap were lovely bonuses. He was clean and warm, so warm it almost overcame the cold seeping from his heart at the way Trevor avoided him now.

Everytime he heard footsteps in the hallway, he caught himself hoping. But Trevor simply walked past to the bedroom or bathroom or basement.

Alucard ground his teeth together. What was he supposed to say? Was he supposed to let himself be vulnerable again? That wasn't fair, not when Trevor and Sypha had so much power over him.

And what did he want, after all? He hadn't really thought through that. When Trevor had asked, all Alucard had thought about were explanations and feelings. Not just his rekindled desires, but the excuses he could make for it. Neither of those were what he wanted because he wanted two vastly conflicting things.

Alucard lay in the bed for two days straight, writhing under the covers and trying to think. Finally, he got up and decided to write it down. He flipped to the back of a workbook page and scrawled;

1. I want you.
2. I want to be free.

Then he flung the cheerfully colored book away from his because both of those things were impossible.

There was a knock on the door.

Alucard stood up fast enough he knocked over the chair. "Trevor?" he asked. He rushed to the door and reached for the knob.

"Hey," Trevor said. He looked down as Alucard opened the door. He didn't meet Alucard's eyes. "Sypha's got something to test."

"O-on me?" Alucard said.

"Well, yeah. It's that holy circle thing. She wants to see if you can walk through it. She set one up in the basement. It shouldn't hurt you."

"Okay," Alucard said. He spread his arms slightly. Trevor picked him up and carried him over the threshold mechanically.

"You doing okay, by the way?" Trevor asked, "You seem better- warmer."

Alucard nodded once the disorientation had faded. "This is better."

"Guess it's not hard to top freezing and being tortured," Trevor said.

"H- how about you?" Alucard asked, "Are th-things okay with S-Sypha?"

"Yeah. We talked. It's fine."

"A-and chores?"

Trevor rolled his eyes. "I can handle those on my own."

"But, with Sypha working-?"

"Holidays are over for now," Trevor said, "It's fine. I'm fine. It's not your job."

"Okay."

"Just, be a good guinea pig for Sypha, okay?"

"A p-pig?"

Trevor chuckled. "They're a, umm, small rodent used in animal testing. Don't think about it too hard. It's just a metaphor, or something. Come here."

He carried Alucard into the basement. It was still achingly cold, and the concrete walls made Alucard shiver. But he didn't look nearly as chilled as Sypha. She knelt in the middle of a complex chalk circle. Alucard could see her breath as she muttered incantations. She marked a last line with chalk. Then she leaned back.

"Is it supposed to glow, or?"

Sypha put a finger to her lips, and Trevor hushed. She raised her hand and snapped. Light flashed. Alucard hissed and averted his eyes.

When he looked back, Sypha stood in the center of a cylinder of flickering lights. They swayed around her, a random pattern of sparks. It reminded Alucard of the live embers that got thrown up into the sky by a fire. But the particles were gold instead of orange and red. Alucard's stomach gave a funny lurch as he watched them.

"Alucard? What are you feeling?" Sypha asked.

"It's h-holy," Alucard said.

"Yes? What does that mean?"

"Blinding," Alucard said, "And a- a little nauseating."

"Interesting," Sypha said, "Can you get through it?"

Alucard sighed. He stepped forward. He averted his eyes from the unpleasant sparks and reached out a hand. He felt vibrations start in his fingers. He pressed his hand in.

"I'll, uhh, get stuck," he said.

"So it doesn't repel you. It's like the ward on the door."

"My god," Trevor said. He chuckled. "Sypha, you made flypaper. Giant, evil trapping fly paper."

Alucard withdrew his hand.

"Run at it," Sypha said.

Alucard squinted at her through the glow. "What?"

"Well? Wouldn't that work? If you went fast enough your whole body got through?"

Alucard gulped. He didn't care to admit that he'd considered that as a way to get through the holy ward on the bedroom door. Apparently, Sypha had been thinking about that too.

Alucard shrugged. He stepped back to the concrete wall. He turned and considered the barrier. He took in a breath and shook out his shoulders. Ducking his head, he charged.

Alucard slammed into the barrier with an audible crack. It sent him reeling backwards. He ended up on the floor, with glowing gold spots in his vision. Alucard clutched his head.

"Shit. You okay?"

A warm hand pressed Alucard's shoulder. He looked up. He blinked.

"Uhh, I mean, he's okay," Trevor said. He withdrew his hand and addressed Sypha. "He's okay."

"So, you can't get through it," Sypha said.

Alucard shook his head. "One p-problem, though."

"Yeah?" Sypha asked. She folded her arms.

Still disoriented, Alucard slouched forward, bringing his head close to the edge of the barrier. He took a deep breath. He blew on the white granules of chalk of the floor.

A critical symbol smeared, and the sparks instantly fell to the ground. They faded to nothing.

"Oh," Sypha said, "Right."

"Not a great barrier if it can be broken with a gust of wind," Trevor said.

"Damn," Sypha said.

Alucard sat up and watched her. He'd broken her spell. He expected her anger. But she just inspected the remaining symbols, shaking her head. "If I found stronger wards--"

"That's not the p-problem," Alucard said, "This- this is too wide. Too exposed. Y-you couldn't guard a-a whole city, l-like this."

"Wait," Sypha said. She stepped delicately over the chalk symbols. She stood over Alucard and looked down at him. "You have magic, don't you?"

Alucard smirked. He tapped the silver collar. "Get this off. I'll show you."

"Oh, you wish," Sypha said.

"Don't all vampires have magic?" Trevor asked. He sat on the last basement step, huddled against the cold.

"Vampires are magical," Sypha mused, "But that's not what I mean. You studied it, didn't you? You know what these wards mean."

Alucard nodded.

"You're telling me your illiterate, but you can read magic runes?" Trevor said. He snorted.

Alucard shrugged. "P-priorities."

"Ah, well, I got a priority for both of you. Lets get upstairs before we freeze," Trevor said.

"But," Sypha started. She looked back down at the wards.

"Sypha?" Trevor said gently. "You've been at this for hours now. You're shivering."

"If I can get this right," Sypha said. She gestured at the holy circle, a bit of desperate irritation in the curl of her hand.

"You will. I know you will. But not tonight. Can I make you some tea?"

Sypha sighed. She nodded.

"Hey bat boy. Can you drink tea?"

Alucard wrinkled his nose. He followed Trevor up the stairs. Sypha stepped after him. "I, uhh, can."

"You don't sound too excited."

"Well, no-" Alucard said. He chewed his lip. He really didn't want to discuss the workings of his hybrid body in detail. That was private.

"Would you throw up?" Trevor asked.

Alucard shook his head.

"But, your system has to deal with fluids somehow, right?" Sypha asked.

"Do you piss, then?"

Alucard grimaced and wrapped his arms around himself. "C-can I please keep a-a tiny bit of dignity? You have so-so much power, o-over me."

He looked up in time to see Sypha and Trevor exchange a look. He was concern on Sypha's face. Trevor's look back to her confused him. It was knowing.

"Sorry," Trevor said, "We'll drop it."

He got to the top step and reached down to help Alucard up.

 

The evenings were the hardest part for Alucard to get used to. He spent his nights comfortable, if alone, reading children's books Trevor had gotten him from the library at an agonizingly slow speed. During the day, Trevor would let him out so that he could sit on the sofa or at the kitchen counter. Sometimes, Alucard would keep practicing reading and writing. If he thought he wasn't going to be found out, he'd watch Trevor work around the house. He started asking questions.

How did the refrigerator work? Where did the water in the faucet come from? Once, he pointed at a bag of cheese puffs and asked Trevor what he was eating. Some of these questions were apparently easier to answer than others.

Alucard tried to imagine the sheer mechanical edifice required to create the comfortable existence Trevor described, the existence he found himself a part of. Clean water pumped through vien-like pipes. An impossible nexus of wires hummed through the walls with electricity. It was like a nervous system. These modern houses were like living things, with the machinery to keep things comfortable and liveable carefully hidden behind the plaster. That stunned Alucard.

Then there was the television. Alucard had seen what looked like a horizontal, black mirror when he sat in the living room, and gaped when it was turned on for the first time. After Trevor had cleaned up from dinner, he and Sypha sat on the sofa, turning on the dark screen to watch things that Alucard couldn't understand.

Alucard wanted to ask. But when he looked over, he saw Trevor in Sypha's arms, and Sypha coldly watching him.

Alucard sighed. He still made her nervous. It was mutual.

After the first evening and Sypha's glares, Alucard asked to go back to his room after Trevor made dinner.

 

When the weekend came, Sypha joined him in the living room. She simply sat there for a minute. Alucard felt her eyes on him. He focused on what he was writing.

"What would happen, if you got your fangs back?"

Alucard raised his head, certain he'd misheard her. He looked at Sypha. "What?"

Sypha starred evenly back at him. The look scared him. Most of the ways she looked at him scared him. This time, it was the set line of her jaw.

"What would happen? Could you reattach them? Just, have them back like nothing had happened?"

"W-why do you ask?" Alucard said. He put down his pencil and pushed the work book away.

Sypha sighed. "Please just answer the question."

"Yes."

"They'd heal?"

"Yes," Alucard said. He'd been able to heal more serious injuries than that. Once, he'd reattached two fingers he'd lost in a fight.

"Trevor?" Sypha called out.

The sound of running water in the kitchen sink stopped. Trevor turned around. "Yeah. Okay. Let's do this."

"Do what?" Alucard asked. He looked at Trevor. But Trevor never met his gaze. He gave Sypha a small nod and made for the hall.

"Do what?" Alucard repeated to Sypha.

"We made a mistake," Sypha said. Then she shook her head. "I made a mistake. Capturing you. I could justify it when I thought of you as-- well-- just as something to test on. But I can't now. You're too human."

Alucard swallowed hard. A trembling started in his chest. He curled forward and put his hands on his knees. "You're g-getting rid of me?"

"I'm letting you go," Sypha said.

Alucard heard Trevor return. Trevor pressed a hand to Alucard's shoulder. "Here," he said. He set a small plastic bag in Alucard's hands.

Alucard looked down. He gasped. Two lengths of white bone were in the bag. They were tapered into lethal points at one end, and Alucard could see little indents in the plastic where they had sunk into it. He traced the marks with his thumb. He gulped. "But- I thought-"

"I lied," Sypha said flatly. She held out her hands in an opened palm gesture of admission. "Hardly the worst thing I did to you, but- well, I'm sorry."

Trevor stood beside him. He bent over and spoke into Alucard's ear. "This is what you wanted, right?"

Alucard nodded. He shook his head. He ran his thumb over the sturdy bones.

Something roared in his chest. It was the imp, Alucard realized, the diminished demon of his thirst. It slammed against his rib cage and tore at his spine. It wanted to consume him again. It wanted him to be a monster, a bloodsucker, a proper vampire when that was only half of who he was. It demanded, a hissing in his ears. It send his blood boiling.

"I-" Alucard stuttered.

He gulped down panic. It was easy enough to accept his fate when he hadn't had a choice in the matter. Now, he found himself paralyzed. What was he doing? He should rip open the plastic, put his teeth back in before these humans changed their minds. This was his chance. Why was he sitting here, head in his hands, trembling like a blade of grass in a storm?

Alucard looked up. He heard Sypha flinch. He knew his eyes were red again. He wanted. He wanted so bad it was making him shake. No, that was wrong. His thirst wanted. He was not just his thirst. He could separate the two. His fangs clicked together in his trembling hands.

"I don't understand."

"What do you mean?"

Alucard looked over at Trevor. "Why?" he asked.

Trevor took a step back. He ran a hand through his hair. "Well, we talked. We agreed. It wasn't right. Dunno if we can make things right, not really. But I have some money I can give you. We'll take off the collar. You can have a suitcase. And I can get you- I dunno. Anywhere in driving range. Wherever you wanna go."

He couldn't do this again, Alucard realized. This was what had broken him over and over; losing the people he cared about. He wanted to stay with Trevor. He didn't want to go back to a cold and dirty life in the dwindling wilderness like an animal. He wanted to live among humans again, even if that meant hiding. Even if it meant other, more terrifying things.

Alucard closed his eyes. "Wh-what if I want to- to stay here?"

"What?" Trevor said quietly, "Why would you-"

"No."

"Sypha? Wait, if he wants to, why not?" Trevor asked.

"You know," Alucard said. He kept his eyes closed, but he waived in Sypha's direction. "What will ha-happen to me."

Sypha sighed. "You'll regress, right? Go back to being a monster?"

Alucard nodded.

"What? Why?" Trevor said.

Alucard hung his head. "I can't s-survive. Among humans. Can't acclimate. I d-don't look human- don't act like one. I don't u-understand this world an-anymore."

Trevor shrugged. "Say you have a skin condition. Move to the city. Only hicks like me believe in the old stories anymore."

"Trevor, that isn't realistic. He has no ID, no birth certificate. He can barely write."

"Can't t-talk either," Alucard said.

"Then just go back to the forest. No technology out there. No one's gonna ask you for a passport. You could hunt animals instead. Does animal blood-?"

"No!" Alucard said. It was the closest he'd come to shouting in ages. It made his mouth hurt. Trevor winced and stepped back.

Alucard sighed. He hated that question. Everyone asked that question. Hundreds of years ago, another Trevor had asked that question. It was a fair point, and a terribly insulting one. If he could live off animal blood, he would have settled for that from the beginning. But he shouldn't have shouted. His eyes were still red. He was frightening right now. He didn't want to scare Trevor.

"Doesn't work," he said, "s-sorry."

"Shit."

Alucard gulped. He squeezed his hand around his fangs. It was a strange relief to know they weren't lost forever, even if holding them and having them was sheer torture.

Well, there was a solution for that.

Alucard leaned forward. He placed the plastic bag on the livingroom table.

"If you can't t-trust me to have these, I don't w-want them," he said.

He leaned back on the sofa, resting his head on the backboard and feeling bloodlust drain from his eyes like tears. He set his empty hands in his lap.

Chapter Text

(past)

"You don't want them?" Sypha said.

Alucard sighed. "W-would you give Trevor alcohol?"

"Shit," Trevor said.

"That's not the same," Sypha said.

"Really?" Trevor asked, "How is it not?"

"Trev, you haven't killed anyone."

"All the-the more reason, to control me then, r-right?"

He didn't need to open his eyes. He felt Sypha staring at him. "Do you have any idea what you're proposing?"

"What we a-agreed on already?"

"Why the hell would you want to stay?" Sypha asked, "We've-- I've been fucking awful to you."

Alucard sighed. He rubbed his forehead. This was going to come to light eventually. How was he supposed to explain? Words were so hard to form and force out when he was nervous.

"Alucard? Is, is it cause of me, that you want to stay?"

Alucard raised his head and looked at him. "Yes."

"Fuck," Trevor said. He backed away. He twisted and slammed his arm into the nearest wall.

Alucard gaped. "What did I-?"

"Stockholm syndrome," Trevor growled. He pressed his face into his forearm, hiding from both of them. "I fucking gave the vampire Stockholm syndrome."

"That's not-- what is that?" Alucard asked.

He looked back to Sypha, who had her hand over her mouth. Clearly Trevor wasn't in the mood to explain himself.

"W-what is he t-talking about?" Alucard asked.

Sypha shook her head. "Becoming-- emotionally attached to your captors. It's a contested mental condition. And honestly, I dunno if this qualifies."

"You were right, Sypha," Trevor said to the wall, "I should've kept my fucking distance."

"What?" Alucard said. He stood up. "Tr-Trevor, you've the closest anyone's be-been to kind, to me, since-"

"Since the other fucking Trevor?"

"No," Alucard said. He looked back into the living room, "Since- Sypha."

Sypha starred. "Me?"

"Yes. No. The o-old Sypha."

"Oh god. You loved both of them," Sypha said, "And now you think you love us. Is that it?"

Alucard sighed. "Don't know."

"If I were your doctor, I'd refer you to a therapist."

"If you were his doctor, this would be even more fucked up," Trevor said, "Shit. Shit."

Alucard stood between them. He held his head in his hands and ground his teeth. Clearly, they'd been talking about letting him go for a while, as though his answer was a forgone conclusion. He'd surprised them.

"Look," he said, "I- I want to stay. Okay?"

Sypha raised an eyebrow. "We put you through hell."

"Yes. B-but this is still- still better than before. H-having clean cloths a-and a room," he said. He looked back at Trevor, who'd finally removed his head from the wall and turned. "Having you in- in my life again. When- when I'd lost you."

"I'm not your Trevor."

"I-I know," Alucard said, "I d-don't care. I don't care if- if this is eth-thical, or fair. I don't c-care what I d-deserve. P-please don't make me leave."

"This is insane," Sypha said, "Forget ethics. This isn't equitable."

"Isn't what, what you two have in-inequitable?"

Sypha glared past him at Trevor. "What have you been telling him?"

Trevor put up his hands in surrender.

"He didn't- I noticed," Alucard said, "I- I want to be pa-part of your lives, okay?"

"Trevor can consent," Sypha said, "You can't."

"Why not? We n-negotiated. You- you offered me s-something. I said no."

"Wait a minute," Trevor said. He stepped over and placed himself in the space between Alucard and Sypha, moderating again. "Are you-- do you not consent to being set free?"

"Please d-don't send me back in-into the cold."

"Sypha?"

Sypha sighed. She stood up. "Okay," she said. She picked up the plastic bag from the table. She looked at Alucard. "One condition, though?"

"Yes?" Alucard asked wearily.

"This offer stands," Sypha said, "If you want to be freed, we'll do it."

Alucard nodded. "Okay."


 (present)

Alucard knelt at the living room table. He scratched a word out and replaced it. He leaned back and considered the draft of the letter.

"How's it going?"

Alucard raised his head. Trevor joined him, placing a laptop next to his papers and sitting on the chair.

Alucard wrinkled his nose. "Spelling. Would you?" He handed the scrap paper up to Trevor.

Trevor took it and shrugged. "I'll try. My spelling isn't great either. Is this for Sypha?"

Alucard shook his head. He tapped the top of the page.

"Erica?" Trevor asked.

Alucard nodded.

Trevor chuckled. He extended his hand and ruffled Alucard's hair. "That's sweet of you. You had fun with her?"

"Yes."

"I'm glad. Someone should be nice to you."

"You're nice," Alucard said.

Trevor grinned at him. "I'm going to show Sypha every mistake you've made on this."

"Monster."

"Yup," Trevor said. He skimmed Alucard's letter, circling words and a couple of sentences. After a moment, he handed it back.

"See if you can find the mistakes yourself," he said.

Alucard reached for a new piece of scrap paper and started to rewrite. Trevor booted up the laptop.

"What you up to?" Alucard asked. He leaned his chin over the armrest of the chair.

"Hunt stuff," Trevor said, "There've been eight attacks this month, all attributed to animals. I need to find a pattern, figure out what this thing is."

Alucard looked up. "Help?"

Trevor chewed his lip and fidgeted with the trackpad. "Maybe. Whatever this is, it's dangerous. As soon as I find some evidence I can bring back, you can have a look."

"Take me with?"

"Absolutely not," Trevor said without looking up.

"Trev?" Alucard said. He raised an eyebrow at the intensity of his refusal.

"You're too weak, with the collar and so little blood. What if you get hurt?"

"I'll heal."

"It isn't fair. This isn't your job," Trevor said.

"I want to- to help."

"You aren't even allowed outside," Trevor said. Alucard heard his voice falter slightly.

"Ask Sypha."

Trevor looked over at him. "Maybe. Maybe, once I know what we're up against."

"Thanks," Alucard said. He returned to his letter and considered a sentence Trevor had circled. He read it under his breath.

"It's good, by the way," Trevor said.

"Yeah?"

"You've gotten a lot better. You should be proud of yourself."

"Good enough to- to not tell Sypha?"

"I didn't say that."

Alucard sighed. In the beginning, Trevor had been responsible for teaching him. When Sypha had taken over, she'd replaced the frustrating children's workbooks with guides designed for illiterate adults. She tested him, having him write essays about books he'd read or read news articles aloud for her. She kept track of every misspelling and stutter. It was terrifying. It had taken Alucard weeks to explain that Sypha's presence made his stutter noticeably worse.

He asked Trevor about a couple of words he couldn't correct on his own before copying the letter neatly onto nicer paper Sypha had provided.

"Wait, are you sending her an actual letter?"

Alucard looked up. "How else?"

"I mean, email, for one."

"E-email?"

"Alright," Trevor said, "Here, let me show you."

He brought the computer over and showed Alucard the screen.

Alucard gulped. He'd learned a lot in the past year. He still didn't understand the internet.


(past) 

Someone stepped down the hall very late the next night. Alucard read the clock on the wall. 1:15 am. He listened idly. It was Trevor, based on the heavier footsteps and the muffled sound of his breathing. Alucard lost his place in the sentence he was reading. He shook his head. It was foolish to get excited. Trevor was heading for the bathroom, or to get a glass of water from the kitchen.

The footsteps stopped in front of Alucard's door.

Alucard raised an eyebrow. He waited, listening to Trevor's uneven breathing, certain he would walk away. Finally, Alucard slipped out from under his covers, set aside the book, and eased open the door.

"Hey," Trevor said.

"Trevor?" Alucard asked, "S-shouldn't you be asleep?"

"Dunno. Shouldn't you?"

"I don't," Alucard said.

"You don't-?"

"Sleep."

"Shit, really?" Trevor

"I mean, I- I can. In a coffin."

"But not in a bed?" Trevor asked.

Alucard shook his head. He considered Trevor. He'd hastily pulled on a t-shirt and pants that he clearly hadn't slept in. His hair was ruffled, and sticking up on one side. He looked exhausted. But he also tapped his toe restlessly, and Alucard noticed his fingers twitching.

Alucard shook his head. He waived for Trevor. "Come in."

"So, should we try to fit a coffin in here, or?"

Alucard winced. "No. I, uhh, can explain." He extended his arm to welcome Trevor in. Trevor settled in the desk chair. Alucard paused at the door. He gently closed it. "Should I turn on the-the light?"

Trevor shook his head. "No need."

Alucard shrugged. He wrapped the electric blanket around his shoulders and settled on the bed.

"So you f-- you really sleep in coffins?"

Alucard nodded.

"Does that mean all this time in the basement, all of the nights up here, you've been awake?"

He nodded again.

"Shit," Trevor said, "I'm sorry."

"I don't want to sleep," Alucard said.

Trevor tilted his head at him. "Really?"

"I can s-sleep for centuries," Alucard said, "And I did. And e-every time I woke up, the world had- had changed. Human society be-became stranger and stranger. Until I- I couldn't fit in. Until everyone I-I'd ever cared about was dead. And their d-descendants too. Till all I c-could do was feed and sleep and hide from the world."

He paused, feeling twin, small twinges in the top of his mouth. They subsided, and he went on. "And then you, umm, tackled me."

Trevor raised an eyebrow. "Pretty sure you tackled me, actually."

"Trevor?"

"Yeah?"

"It's 1 am."

"You gonna lecture me about my sleep schedule after all of that?" Trevor said.

Alucard shook his head. "I just- why are y-you here?"

"Been thinking. Wanted to talk."

"Talk?"

"Look, I'm dense," Trevor said, "Like, really fucking stupid. So we're clear. But I've noticed that-- I mean, umm, you're into me, right?"

Alucard snorted. "Yes."

"But you don't know anything about me."

"I know you- you had a drinking problem. You hunt demons. You met Sypha at-at a hospital."

"But, you don't know me. My go-to TV shows, where I grew up, my worst fears, I dunno, my favorite ice cream flavors."

"Trevor? I-I don't know what half of that means."

"Shit. You're a fossil. How can I-- we have nothing in common. No shared lived experiences. Nothing."

"You- you said that you and Sypha- the thing that you share is this s-supernatural stuff, right? Can't I share that too?"

"You are supernatural stuff," Trevor said, "That's a little different."

"You can share me?"

"What? No," Trevor said, "That's not what I meant. No."

Alucard's lip twitched. He wondered if Trevor could see his face when the room was so dark. He shifted the blanket more securely over his shoulders. "Was this your idea, by the way?"

"The electric blanket? Yeah," Trevor said, "You were so cold."

"Thank you. It was a-a good one."

"You're like a lizard, except you can't bask in the sun, huh?"

"Something l-like that," Alucard said. He chuckled.

Trevor laughed lightly. "I like you too."

"Y-you what?" Alucard said. He shifted and looked over.

Trevor yawned. "What?"

"You-you said you liked me too."

Trevor's blurry eyes opened wide. "Out loud?"

Alucard shook his head. "N-never mind. Forget it. You're e-exhausted."

"No, no, shit. I mean-- ah fuck. It's not fair to you. It's not. You said it yourself, I have too much power over you. We couldn't, I shouldn't have-- crap."

Alucard leaned over, trying to keep track of Trevor's series of winces and grimaces. He worked himself to silence, and settled for ducking his head and rubbing his temples.

"It's always b-been the opposite," Alucard said quietly.

"Yeah?"

Alucard closed his eyes. He remembered. He still remembered the original Trevor, and the look in his eyes when he'd first pinned him to a bed. "Trevor Belmont. The old Trevor. I had- so much power- in comparison. I was stronger, magical. I c-could frighten him."

"Wait," Trevor said. He raised an eyebrow. "You were the top?"

"Yes?"

Trevor's lip twitched. "You don't know what that means, do you?"

"I c-can guess."

"Did you ever bite him?"

Alucard tilted his head, considering the question. After a moment, he nodded. "I reg-gretted it."

"Why? Did you- is that how he died?"

"What? No. No!" Alucard said, too loudly.

Trevor winced and put a finger to his lips.

"No," Alucard hissed, "I would never."

Trevor shook his head. "So, what? Why did you regret it?"

Alucard shifted under the covers. "He was into it. I was- too into it. He d-deserved to have a normal lover. A normal life. W-what we could have had got-got overshadowed, by that."

"Huh," Trevor said, "I'm, umm, sorry."

"Long time ago," Alucard said. He shrugged.

"How did you meet him?" Trevor asked.

Alucard looked at him. Trevor was visibly slumping over the chair. He sat with his chin propped on his hands. He stifled a yawn as Alucard considered him.

Alucard pressed down the insane urge to invite Trevor into his bed. Even if Trevor had just made some kind of confession, he wasn't ready. Neither of them were ready. And Alucard didn't want to imagine how Sypha would respond to finding them together.

Besides, what if Trevor said no? Alucard wasn't ready for that either.

"I'll tell you t-tomorrow," Alucard said, "You should sleep."

"You don't have to tell me, if you don't want to," Trevor said.

"I- I want to. I will. Tomorrow," Alucard said. He stood up. He crossed the room and offered Trevor his hand.

Trevor took it. He allowed Alucard to help him up. Then Trevor pulled his hand away with a grimace. Why? Why a grimace? Was his hand still cold in spite of the electric blanket? Alucard looked down and realized that his nails were long; eerie and pointed like claws. He sighed and clasped his hands behind his back.

"Alright. Good talk," Trevor said. He reached the door and looked back. "Night."

"Goodnight."

Chapter Text

(past)

The next morning, Sypha was back at work. Apparently her weekend had ended. Alucard sat on his bed and listened as she and Trevor said goodbye at the door. There was a pause- an embrace? A kiss? He shook his head. Did they realize how much he could hear through the thin walls?

He was afraid that if he told them, he'd end up in the basement again.

At last, the door closed. Trevor stepped back up the hall and knocked. "You up?"

"Trevor," Alucard said. He rolled his eyes as Trevor opened the door. "We talked a-about this. I don't sleep."

"Oh shit," Trevor said, "Gotta be honest. I thought that was some kinda weird dream."

Alucard shivered. Certainly, hearing Trevor admitting his feelings in return had felt dreamlike. He shook away that thought and considered the Trevor that was present, lucid and apparently awake in the doorway. "Do you remember-?"

"You said you'd tell me something today, right?"

Alucard nodded. "You asked how, how we met. The old Trev-vor, I mean."

"Right," Trevor said, "Can that-- I'm sorry. Can that wait? I really need to get groceries."

"Oh. Yes. O-of course."

"I'll let you out," Trevor said.

"Yes please."

 

Alucard found himself alone in the house. He wandered. He stretched his legs and studied how the morning light filtered through the windows, finding the way he could navigate from his bedroom to the kitchen to the living room without burning his skin. He got to a door at the back of the living room, half hidden behind the tv. He stretched out his fingers, curious. The handle didn't buzz and the air around the door didn't resist him.

He could get through, if he wanted to. He could find out what was behind this door.

But if Trevor hadn't shown him this door, and hadn't even indicated to Alucard what was behind it, then he wasn't supposed to see. Alucard looked down at his hands. He wrinkled his nose. His nails were still long and sharp. He had more important things to do while Trevor was away than pry.

 

Thirty minutes later, Alucard heard the familiar crunch of cement. The door opened, and after a moment, Trevor staggered through the archway.

Alucard looked up and couldn't stop himself from grinning. "Need help?"

Trevor had an overburdened cloth bag in either hand, and another precariously stuffed under one arm. He shook his head. "I got it. How are you-- what are you doing?!"

Groceries clattered to the floor. Alucard jerked his head up in time to see Trevor vault over the couch. He stopped just short of slamming his knees into the table. He grabbed the handles of the scissors Alucard was holding.

"I-" Alucard said. He gulped. He remembered Sypha's anxiety over him picking up a knife from the kitchen. He'd grabbed a simple, plastic handled pair of scissors instead. Had he done something wrong? He pulled his hands away. "Wanted to, to trim my nails."

"With scissors?" Trevor said. He yanked the tool away.

"Y-yes? How else would I-?"

"Fuck. That's right," Trevor said. He shook his head. "Wait here. One second."

Alucard stared after him. Trevor ran down the hall, and returned with a small, metal tool in his hands. He offered it to Alucard. Then he flopped onto the sofa, put his elbows on his knees and put his head in his hands.

"It looked like you were trying to cut your fingers off," he said.

"Why would I-?" Alucard started.

"I dunno. I dunno. You scared me. Didn't mean to freak out on you," he said. He paused and shook his head. "Sorry. I didn't-- oh shit."

Alucard looked up from puzzling out the metal tool Trevor had handled him. Trevor stood and went back to the hall. Alucard heard him wince.

"Trevor?" Alucard said. He put down the tool and followed Trevor from the living room.

Trevor looked down at three bags laying just inside the archway. "Fuck me," he said. Something had clearly broken in the sack he nudged with his foot. Alucard could see a black stain seeping from one corner. A variety of vegetables had rolled onto the floor, along with a spattering of cans and jars.

Alucard stepped over. He picked up one of the other bags, set it upright, and carefully placed escaped vegetables back.

"And half the eggs are cracked. Great," Trevor said. He sighed. He carried the broken bag into the kitchen and set it in the sink.

Alucard scanned the floor. He picked up a bottle that had rolled most of the way under the couch. He eyed it wearily. If this was the old Trevor, of course it would be alcohol. He squinted at the label.

Worchester sauce.

Alucard shrugged. He helped bring the other two bags, and their partially broken contents, back into the kitchen. "How can I help?"

"This was my stupid mistake. You don't need to-"

"Trevor?" Alucard said, "I want t-to help."

"Okay," Trevor said. He pulled a dishrag from the oven handle, wetted it under the sink and handed it back. "Can you wipe up whatever spilled?"

Alucard walked back to the living room. He mopped up the stains on the floor, and then tossed the rag into the laundry basket next to the basement door. He returned to the living room and picked up the tool Trevor had handed him. It was built a little like a pair of pliers, with a handle that pivoted and small, dull blades instead of teeth at the center.

"W-what is this?"

Trevor closed the refrigerator door and looked over. "Nail clippers. If you want to trim those claws of yours, I'd rather you use them than my scissors."

Alucard pressed the handles and saw the dull blades clip together. He started to snip his nails short. He was almost finished when Trevor returned to the couch. He sat down.

"Sorry. Did you still want to talk?"

Alucard nodded. He trimmed his last nail and set the tool aside. He looked over at Trevor and tried to find the words. Trevor looked back at him. He gave a sheepish smile.

Alucard gulped. Words were hard. "We, uhh, killed Dracula. T-together."

"You and the old Trevor, you mean?" Trevor said.

"And S-Sypha."

"How romantic," Trevor said.

"That's not- it wasn't- he'd d-declared war on humanity."

"Oh," Trevor said. He whistled. "Oh shit, really?"

"After a bishop exec-cuted my mother."

"Your mother?" Trevor said.

Alucard gulped. He gave Trevor a wide-eyed look. "I- ummm-"

"Wait a minute," Trevor said. He stood up. "I, shit, where did I put it?" He wandered to the bookshelf in the corner and started pawing through a pile of papers there. A couple of papers floated onto the carpet. Alucard picked one of them up. He didn't bother to try to read the script. The writing itself fascinated him. If this was calligraphy, it was the most eerily consistent, tiny, simple style he'd ever seen. It was frighteningly similar to the script in the books Trevor had gotten him.

"Here it is," Trevor said. Alucard looked up. Trevor brought back a smudged piece of paper. He unfolded it and showed it to Alucard. "This is Dracula? This is him?" He pointed to the sketch Alucard had drawn.

"You kept this?" Alucard said.

"Your father is Dracula?" Trevor said.

"Was," Alucard said, "He's-- dead, now. We won. We saved th-the world."

"Wow," Trevor said. He shook his head and set the drawing on the table.

Alucard put the paper he'd been looking at beside the sketch. He looked at Trevor. "You d-don't believe me."

"No. That's not what I mean," Trevor said. He pulled his phone out of his pocket. He tapped the screen and it flashed. After a moment, he offered it to Alucard. "Look. When I was a kid, Dracula looked like this."

Alucard squinted down at the small screen. It was uncomfortably bright. The image on it was grey scale. A figure posed with his arms raised and his fingers spread. He was unrecognizable to Alucard, from his stern widows peak to his inhuman expression and strange gaze. But he had the cape. The cape was just about right.

"Dracula is dead," Alucard said. If only to reassure himself.

Trevor shrugged. He took back his phone. "As far as most people are concerned, he never existed. Monsters and magic are old superstitions. Or trashy TV."

"What?" Alucard said. He looked up. "But it was real. It is real."

"All of it?" Trevor asked, "No. Or are you telling me Dracula could actually turn into a dog?"

Alucard shook his head. "A wolf, actually."

"What?" Trevor said. He looked up from his phone. "He could change into-?"

"A-and a bat. Mist, even," Alucard said.

Trevor blinked. He looked at Alucard. "That's not possible."

"It is. I c-could show you," Alucard said, "If not for, for this." He tapped the silver collar.

Trevor whistled. "So you've got it too? All sorts of crazy Dracula powers?"

"Some."

"Shit. Guess I'm lucky I'm still alive," Trevor said. He shuddered.

"That's not-" Alucard started. He winced and pressed his hands over his upper lip as pain stabbed up just behind his sinuses. He squirmed in frustration. "This wasn't how- how I wanted this t-to go."

"Hey, are you okay?" Trevor asked. He put a hand on Alucard's shoulder.

"Mouth hurts."

"Oh," Trevor said, "Still? I thought those healed."

Alucard shrugged, keeping his hands over his mouth, waiting for the spasms to subside.

"Can I see?" Trevor asked gently.

When Alucard nodded, he leaned in. He eased Alucard's hands away and helped him unclench his jaw. The touch was nice. It had been a while since Trevor had touched him in a deliberate or comforting way. Alucard hadn't realized how much he'd missed that.

Trevor moved a hand to his chin. "Would you open up?"

Alucard opened his mouth and leaned back so Trevor could look. The pain had subsided. He took a deep breath. He closed his eyes.

"It all looks healed," Trevor said after a moment, "Unless-"

He put a finger in Alucard's mouth. Alucard gasped. He grabbed Trevor's wrist and forced his hand away. "D-don't do that."

"Shit. Sorry. I forgot," Trevor said. He shook his head. "Honestly, I'm surprised you let me touch you at all."

"What?" Alucard asked.

"After what we, what I did to you? I'd understand, if you wanted me to keep my hands to myself. And I can, if that's what you want. Except for getting you over the wards, obviously.

"That's not why- you shouldn't- my mouth is- ugh," Alucard said. He slammed his fist into the baseboard of the sofa. If he'd still had his strength, he would have punched through it. He didn't remember speaking being this hard. But how many centuries had it been since he'd had someone to talk to?

"Alucard?"

"I can't c-communicate," Alucard said, "Can't- what's wrong with me?"

"I keep talking over you, don't I?"

Alucard looked over. Trevor grimaced. "Okay. Here. Just like with the reading. Take your time. I won't interrupt."

Alucard took a deep breath. He closed his eyes. "You shouldn't p-put your fingers in, in my mouth. That's dangerous. My m-mouth is dangerous."

He looked back at Trevor. Trevor settled properly onto the couch beside him. He gave a small nod, encouraging him to keep talking.

"I haven't, haven't had to be in control of myself f-for a long time. I don't want to hurt you."

"Damn. Not even a little?" Trevor said with a small smile.

Alucard raised an eyebrow at him and he seemed to remember that he wasn't supposed to be talking. He cleared his throat. "Sorry. Go on."

"Don't know. What else t-to say."

"Well, how long have you been having weird pain in your mouth?"

Alucard stared at him. "S-since you two ripped out my teeth."

"Oh. Yeah," Trevor said, "That-- makes sense. But, I checked. It looked like your gums had healed."

"It feels- deeper, than that," Alucard said, "L-like the nerves are s-still recovering."

Trevor waited for him to finish his thought. Then he sighed. "We took something kinda important, didn't we?"

"M-maybe it's better, for me not to have them."

"Hey. If you want, Sypha can take a look in your mouth and make sure-"

"No," Alucard said.

"She's a doctor," Trevor said, "She'll know more about nerve stuff than I do."

"I don't want her t-touching me," Alucard said. He shivered. "Please."

"Okay. She won't touch you. Just, let me know if it ever gets worse, okay? Or happens more, or anything."

Alucard nodded. He looked down at his hands

"Hey," Trevor said, "Can I show you something?"

"S-something?" Alucard asked. He raised his head.

"Something kinda stupid," Trevor clarified, "But, I think you'll like it. If you give it a chance. Ever watched a movie before?"

"A movie?"

"Wait here," Trevor said. He stood up. He headed into the hallway. Then he looked back. "Actually, could you do me a favor and toss your nail clippings? There's a garbage bin under the kitchen sink."

Alucard nodded. He swept the small mess from the table onto his hand, found the bin where Trevor had described it, and came back to the livingroom in time to find Trevor returned. He had a metallic rectangle under his arm.

"So, this is a computer. It's a device that connects to the- actually, you know what? Here. Just watch, okay?"

Trevor sat down. He patted the couch cushion beside him. Alucard joined him.

Trevor placed the computer on the table and folded it open. On the inside, it had an overwhelming number of buttons and another reflective, black surface that Alucard recognized as a screen. They reminded him of the magical mirrors his father had had in his castle. These were things that could be manipulated to bring up different pictures. Except they must run on electricity, somehow, instead of magic.

Trevor pressed a button and the machine turned on with a just audible whirr. Then he started to tap buttons with a speed and confidence that made Alucard stare.

"How- how do you remember w-what each one is for?" Alucard asked.

"What?"

Alucard gestured at the buttons Trevor's fingers had flown over so easily. "That- how can you keep track of-of what they all mean?"

"The keys, you mean?" Trevor said. He leaned back and removed his hands. "Take a look. You should recognize most of them, by now."

Alucard leaned in. He looked at the buttons Trevor had described as keys. Their shiny, black plastic surfaces were inlaid with white symbols. The first row was meaningless to Alucard, as well as a number of symbols along the sides. But in the center, the letters of the alphabet were arranged in a random order.

"It's for writing?" Alucard asked.

"No. Yes. Kinda," Trevor said, "It's for communicating, I guess. You can send messages to people. Find information-- find almost anything, actually."

Alucard looked up at him. "How?"

"Watch," Trevor said. He pointed to the screen, which had lit up and showed a photo of mountain landscape, overlaid with still more, complicated symbols. He clicked on a symbol and a white screen appeared.

"See, all I have to do is type something in," Trevor said. He clicked the keys, and a word appeared in a small grey rectangle in the middle of the white screen.

Alucard squinted over Trevor's shoulder. He sounded out what Trevor had typed. "Nosferatu?"

"Not bad," Trevor said. He patted Alucard's back. "You've been practicing."

"Is that an actual word?" Alucard asked.

Trevor nodded. "In german, I think. Or something. I dunno. The movie is German. Do you know what a movie is?"

Alucard shook his head. But when Trevor started to describe it, he nodded. "A moving picture, right?"

"That's it, yeah," Trevor said. He tapped at a metal rectangle at the center, below the keys. His eyes were on the screen. Alucard starred. An overwhelming amount of words flashed past his eyes. Then it went still. "This is the one, I think. Let's see."

"What is- wait- you're going to put a m-movie, on this?" Alucard said.

"Yup," Trevor said. He gave the metal rectangle a definitive click, and a black screen appeared.

"But it's s-so small," Alucard said.

"Get closer then," Trevor said. He picked up the computer and put it on his lap.

Alucard scooted in. He let his leg brush against Trevor's, and then looked over, certain he'd push him back away.

He didn't.

"And fullscreen. And play," Trevor said. He tilted the computer so that Alucard had a better view. "So, this is what's called a monster movie. It's one of the classics. And it's about your dad."

"What?" Alucard said. He recoiled. "It's about Dracula?"

"Well, no. They couldn't get the rights to the name. They changed it to Olock, or something," Trevor said. He raised his arm and invited Alucard to return to his side. "Come watch. It'll make more sense once you see it. I think."

Alucard settled in next to him. This time, his leg was pressed to Trevor's side. Trevor draped his arm around Alucard's shoulders. The title card appeared on screen.

Chapter Text

(past)

Alucard stared long after the screen had gone black again. It was all so strange, like shards of pottery that had been put back together at random to create an unrecognizable shape.

"So? Did you like it?" Trevor asked.

"Don't understand," Alucard said. He was still looking at the screen.

"Were the captions too fast?" Trevor asked, "I could have paused them."

Alucard shook his head. They had been, but that wasn't the problem. Alucard had followed the story fine. He knew this story- he knew the story it was based on. How had it gotten so mangled? He looked over at Trevor.

"Why- why watch this?"

Trevor shrugged. "For fun, I guess."

Alucard tilted his head, considering this. "So, people have for-forgotten? Demons- magic, all of it? It's become- this?" He waived his hand back at the computer.

"It's hard to believe in things without evidence," Trevor said.

"Evidence?" Alucard asked. He tapped his own chest.

"Well, sure," Trevor said, "And, look, if you asked any of the rural folk like me, who were raised on ghost stories our grandparents told us, they'd say sure, there's gotta be something out there. And when you're out in the forest in the dead of night and you hear a twig snap and see bright red eyes staring back at you in the dark-- I mean, fuck. Sure, in that moment, you believe anything."

Alucard winced.

"Most people around here know-- sort of," Trevor said, "Or, maybe believe is the right word. Because they don't have proof. Do you know what happens to a demon after I finally rip off its head?"

Alucard shook his head.

"It turns to dust. Or goes back to being whatever dog or wolf got possessed," Trevor said, "That's something people understand. Rabies, or something escaped from a fighting ring, or just a stray scared by the headlights or whatever makes sense."

"People out here," he went on, "Yeah. We stay indoors once it gets dark. But no one is going to say why. No one wants to be the one telling some city slicker that we still believe in scary stories. Plenty of people don't even admit that to themselves."

"But it- it's real," Alucard said, "It's not just s-scary stories. We exist."

Trevor smirked. "You almost sound offended. Isn't that real fucking convenient for you and yours? That no one believes? Or would you prefer we go back to the pitchfork wielding, witch burning days where everyone has a crucifix over their door?"

Alucard shivered. "Don't know. I u-understood that world."

"Well, hey," Trevor said. He reached a hand over and draped it on Alucard's shoulder. "You don't have to understand this world to be a part of it," Trevor said, "I mean, I don't. I don't have a fucking clue how the internet works. Shit, I had to look it up, when you asked about the damn cheese puffs."

Alucard leaned back into the touch. The imp in his chest snarled. He paused. He made himself remember. This wasn't Trevor. This wasn't his Trevor. He looked over at him.

Trevor gulped. He withdrew his hand. "Shit. Sorry."

Alucard opened his mouth, and then closed it again. He had nothing to say.

Trevor shook his head. He grabbed the laptop, stood up and left the room.

 

Sypha didn't know what to do with them. Trevor didn't know what to do with him. And Alucard had no idea what he was doing.

"R-really?" Alucard said. He pointed a finger at the screen. "The thrall just murders her? Why?"

They'd gotten through Nosferatu and Dracula on previous days. Now, Alucard watched the dramatic end music play for Dracula's Daughter with a strange feeling of indignation.

"Hey, I didn't say any of these were going to be, you know, cinematic masterpieces, or anything." Trevor said. He grinned. "Just wait till I show you Night of the Living Dead. It's good, but that man had obviously never seen blood spray before. Chocolate sauce does not have the right consistency."

"That-" Alucard started. He took a moment and processed that information. "They used ch-chocolate? As blood?"

"Well, its all black and white, so audiences wouldn't know the difference," Trevor said. He grinned. "Maybe I should have started us with zombie movies. There are some fantastic ones out there. Very gory."

"Trevor?"

"Yeah?" Trevor said. He pressed a button and the disc ejected from the side of the laptop.

"Why are you show, showing me these?"

Trevor shrugged. He made a great show of carefully restoring the disc to its plastic case. "I dunno. These are the movies I watched as a kid. Probably when I was too young- might be why I'm a weirdo who hunts supernatural shit now."

"Do-do you think I'm a child?" Alucard asked. His lip twitched. "I'm ancient."

"Well, yeah. But, how much of those five hundred years have you spent hiding from the world?"

"Hiding?" Alucard bristled.

"You don't seem to have enjoyed that- sleeping in coffins for years at a time. If I had to guess, I'd say you would rather have stayed awake, and lived in the world, if you'd had a place to go."

Alucard narrowed his eyes at him. Had the old Trevor ever been that insightful? He couldn't remember.

Was he forgetting him? A cold pang shot through Alucard's chest. Was he letting his memories of the old Trevor- the real Trevor- get eclipsed by the aching, real proximity of this new, less broken, less angry, but far more frightening man?

In his darkest moments, he had always had the memories of who he had been. In a terrible, broken way, it had felt right. He had lost his mother, Trevor, Sypha, and his humanity had gone with them. He had memorialized them. He had thought he would always remember. Losing that was terrifying.

"Uh, batboy?" Trevor asked. He waived his hand in front of Alucard's face.

Alucard swallowed hard. Grief clawed up his chest and throat. He ducked his head and took in a long, rattling breath.

He was in control of himself. He was in control of himself. He was in control.

"Shit. Don't-- that's supposed to stay inside you," Trevor said.

"W-what?" Alucard said. Then he felt something drip down his cheek.

"Is it okay if I, umm-" Trevor asked. He put a hand on Alucard's shoulder. The touch was light, too light, like a memory.

Alucard nodded.

Trevor wrapped an arm around his trembling back. He pressed Alucard to his chest. He used his other hand to cradle Alucard's head. He leaned him gently onto his shoulder.

"You- you're not real," Alucard said. He sniffed, trying to force the tears back. Trevor was right. He had so little blood. He shouldn't waste it.

"I mean, I am," Trevor said. He chuckled. "Or, shit. I think I am. Guess I don't know how'd I know if I was or wasn't-- or something. But that's not what you mean, is it? You mean that I'm not him."

Alucard pressed his forehead gratefully into Trevor's shoulder. He nodded. "You're d-different."

Trevor ran his fingers over Alucard's nape. He sighed. "I looked them up, you know. The Belmonts? There was an old noble family by that name."

Alucard sniffed. "And-?"

"Executed in the 15th century. The line died out."

Alucard shivered. He put his head in his hands. "No. O-one of them made it. A little longer." Suddenly he was thinking about lifespans. He envisioned the Belmont line as he had once seen family trees drawn out, long, curling lines of ink carefully labeled with individual names. So many tenuous little lives, threatening to snap like branches.

It was a terrible thought. But he had borne it out before. Alucard raised his head and found Trevor watching him.

"I thought maybe this would make sense to you. But if this is weird- if you'd rather forget- I understand."

Alucard sighed. He leaned back and dried his eyes.

"I guess I just wanted to show you something that we could have in common, if that makes any sense," Trevor said.

"Monster m-movies?" Alucard asked, "You want us to share that?" That was ridiculous.

Trevor shrugged.

Alucard's lip twitched. "That--" he paused. He raised his head, suddenly on alert. Sypha didn't drive, so Alucard had very little warning when she arrived home. Now, he heard a set of keys crunch into the lock on the door. He gulped and looked up over the sofa.

Sypha walked through the door. She kicked off her shoes and stepped into the living room. "Trevor?"

"Here," Trevor said. He waved a hand. "How was work?"

"Fine," Sypha said. She carried her purse into the kitchen and emptied the tupperware from her lunch into the sink. "Did you schedule your doctor's appointment?"

"Yup. It's next Thursday."

Sypha nodded. She filled her water bottle at the sink and walked over to the living room. She slumped onto the living room chair and propped up her feet on the coffee table. She looked over.

She blinked and raised an eyebrow.

Trevor seemed to finally notice that his arms were still around Alucard. He cleared his throat and let him go. He stood up. "I'll start dinner."

Sypha gaped at him for a moment. Then she shook her head. She leaned back on the sofa and pressed her hands over her eyes. "Please do," she said. She looked at the laptop on the table and wrinkled her nose. "Trevor? Did you show him another horror movie?"

"Monster movie," Trevor said. He shrugged.

Alucard avoided Sypha's gaze and propped his chin on the back of the sofa to watch Trevor pull a pan from the cabinet. "They aren't r-really that scary."

He felt Sypha's eyes on him.

"Alucard?"

Alucard sighed. He raised his head from the back of the sofa and looked at Sypha.

"Can we talk?"

He shrugged. "We are."

Sypha's brow twitched. "In private?"

"Why?" Alucard asked. He sat up, instantly weary.

"I'm not going to hurt you," Sypha said, "We could go into the guest-- your bedroom."

"We agreed you wouldn't go in there," Trevor called.

Sypha scowled. She glared into the kitchen. "Trevor, are you eavesdropping?"

"Nah. I'm advocating. Bat boy is terrified of you."

"What?" Sypha said. She snorted. "Horror movies are fine. But you're scared of me?"

Alucard gulped. He nodded.

"Unbelievable," Sypha said. She massaged her temples. "Our bedroom, then? I just want to talk."

"D-don't touch me."

"I'm not going to-" Sypha started. Then she grimaced. "For the holy ward, you mean? Damn."

"Take him back to the study," Trevor said. He jabbed a spatula at the door partially overshadowed by the tv.

Alucard stared at him, eyes very wide. He suddenly felt betrayed.

"It'll be okay, bat boy. I'm right here. I'll hear if you call for me."

"Come on," Sypha said, "What do you think I'm gonna do to you?"

Alucard looked back at Sypha. "Im-imprisonment? Torture? That t-time you ripped out my teeth?"

Sypha sat up. She sighed and rolled one of her shoulders as though it ached. "Fine. Fine. Fair enough. None of that, I promise," she said. She stood up, skirted the coffee table and reached the door.

Alucard made no move. He followed her with his eyes. Sypha opened the door. He had an impression of a dark room over her shoulder. There was no sunlight in there, at least.

"Just for a moment? Please?"

Alucard sighed. She had kept her end of the bargain so far. She hadn't hurt him, and she hadn't tried to enter his room. He didn't trust her, but it was better to do whatever this was now, with Trevor close by. He stood and followed her.

Sypha strode into the room. She sat at a desk that looked like the one in Alucard's room, except cluttered with papers.

"Close the door," Sypha said.

Alucard raised an eyebrow.

Sypha rolled her eyes. "Please? Close the door?"

Alucard did. He leaned on the door and took a moment to scan the room. Here, finally, was a room whose purpose he could recognize instantly. The back wall was lined with books. There was a silver mirror in a corner, and a staff with the tiniest aura of magic propped beside it. Herbs hung from the ceiling. The stack of boxes beside the desk also had a faint, magical aura.

"I can't stop him," Sypha said.

Alucard shivered and looked back at her. He'd forgotten Sypha in a moment of wistfulness. When had he last been in a mage's workshop? When had he last studied magic? It had been centuries.

"He has no sense of self-preservation."

"Trevor?" Alucard asked quietly.

Sypha nodded. "I had to accept that I couldn't stop him. From hunting. Risking his life. All I could do, can do, is give him the best tools available, and patch him up when he staggers back home."

Alucard looked down at her. She couldn't have dragged him in here just to tell him that.

"I can't stop him from getting-- close to you," Sypha said. Her hand curled into a fist on the desk. "All I can do is ask you to please not hurt him."

"Don't w-want to hurt him," Alucard said.

"That's not what I'm asking, though. It's not about what you want, and certainly not what you tell me you want. Cause the way I see it, there are two possibilities," Sypha said. She uncurled her fist and held up two fingers. "Either, you're a blood sucking monster, and you're still a blood sucking monster, and you're working the long con to get yourself free."

Alucard hissed. "That's not--"

"Or, you're a blood sucking monster, and you are keeping that part of yourself under control because you think we're these people you used to know."

"Yes," Alucard said, "Why can't you t-trust that--"

"Even if that's true. That means that Trevor's life depends on your restraint. When we know that you can- and have- lost yourself before."

Alucard grimaced.

Sypha propped her chin on her hands and looked up at him. "Give me a reason that won't happen again."

Alucard tilted his head. He considered her. He wanted, desperately wanted, to say that he was in control and would stay that way. But he still had a demon inside of him. He was still half. He had always been, even back at the beginning before he had tried blood. It wasn't thirst that had driven him mad, but grief. And as long as humans remained mortal, more grief was assured.

Alucard sighed. He ran his fingers around the silver collar at his throat. "This."

Sypha gaped at him. "Really? That's the best you've got? That I took away your powers?"

"If I lose-- myself," Alucard said, "either of you c-could stop me."

"That's not reassuring," Sypha said.

Alucard shrugged. Sypha sighed and rubbed her temples.

"Do- do you want to know how, how I went mad the f-first time?" Alucard asked. He stared Sypha down. He was tired of this.

"Sure. Tell me all the gruesome details."

"You died."

"I- what?!" Sypha demanded. She jerked herself upright. "I swear, vampire. Half the words out of your mouth make me want to put you back in the basement."

Alucard shook his head. "M-mother died first. Burned at the stake. M-my father went mad. I grieved. It- it started to hurt less. And then T-Trevor. G-got sick. But you?"

He stared at Sypha, glad that he'd already wept. He could pass off the dry heaves now as something else. "You d-died of old age. B-because humans don't last. Mortality is- is a joke. A cruel joke. And a-after you-- how could I do that to myself again?"

"Do that to yourself?" Sypha spat, "Is that it? Grief drove you mad? You couldn't bear to hurt again, so instead you betrayed them?"

"Be-betrayed?!" Alucard rasped.

"Oh? Would they have approved of you killing people? This noble Trevor and Sypha you keep talking about?"

Alucard sucked in a breath. He curled in, slumping forward.

"You're a coward," Sypha said, "People die. They do. And with the kind of power you had you could have saved some of them, instead of killing more."

"I-" Alucard started. He put his head in his hands. "I- couldn't."

"Be better," Sypha said. Alucard heard the chair scrape back. She stood over him. "Be better for the people you claimed to love, and the ones who are alive now. Do you understand?"

Alucard raised his head. He gulped. How could he understand an ultimatum like that?

There was a long moment where he just looked up at her, his breathing rattling in his chest. Sypha was a torrent. She was relentless. She was cruel- and Alucard started to understand that her cruelty came from the same place as the kindness he remembered. She was trying to protect Trevor. Maybe, maybe, she was trying to protect a lot of people.

Maybe they could have stared at each other like that forever. But someone knocked.

"Uhhh, Sypha? He's already had a shit day."

Sypha rolled her eyes. "Really, Trevor? Eavesdropping again?"

"You were yelling," Trevor said through the door.

"I'm done," Sypha said. She stepped away and slumped heavily onto the chair. She waived at Alucard in a gesture of dismissal. "Just- go."

Alucard shook the shivers from his body. He rolled out of the way just before Trevor forced the door open.

"Christ," Trevor said. He didn't wait for Alucard to ask. He scooped him up into his arms. "You just can't lay off him, can you?"

"No, I can't," Sypha said. She sounded tired.

Trevor sighed. "Back to your room okay?"

Alucard nodded into his hold.

Chapter Text

(past)

"Leaving?!" Alucard said.

"What? No. Just a doctor's appointment," Trevor said. He raised up both hands.

Alucard's eyes grew wide. "Doctor? A-are you sick?"

Trevor laughed. "It's a check-up. It's fine."

"Ch-checking what?"

Trevor turned around. He tilted his head, considering Alucard's stare. His brow furrowed. "Well, he'll check my heart rate and blood pressure. Height and weight. I've been having chest pain since I broke my rib in August, so I'll ask about that."

He sighed and started putting on his shoes. "And then he'll ask about alcohol and drug use-- which is always awkward. About my sex life- which is even more fucking awkward, if I'm honest. And then, I'll get to come home."

"That's- all?" Alucard asked.

"No leeches," Trevor said, "Promise."

He walked into the hallway. Alucard followed, and watched him pick out a hat and jacket from inside the closet.

"How long?"

"I'll be back at four," Trevor said. He shrugged his jacket on, looked back and grinned at Alucard. "Honestly. It's like you're worried about me or something."

Alucard wrinkled his nose. "Don't want to be alone a-against Sypha."

"No shit. We're gonna have to do something about that," Trevor said. He felt around his pockets, making sure he had everything. Then he looked back. "Be careful with yourself while I'm gone, okay? And don't let Sypha bully you if she gets home early."

Alucard gulped, and tried to find a response to that. But as he struggled for words, Trevor opened the door. For one moment, crisp winter sunlight flooded the hallway. Alucard hissed and backed away. By the time his vision adjusted, the door had already closed. He heard it lock. Alucard sighed. He was alone.

 

He took a luxuriously long shower and spent at least as long afterwards combing out his hair. It had become an unmanageable length. He picked out new clothes- his own- from the laundry basket beside the stairs. He loved that he had socks now. His feet used to ache from the cold and chafe in his old boots.

Alucard moved to the living room. He wrapped the throw blanket around himself and practiced writing.

He got three sentences in when the room started whispering to him. Alucard shook his head. He hummed to himself, trying to ignore the call. He misspelled "their" three times in a row. He sighed, stood up and walked to the door that led to the magical study. He reached for the handle. He still expected the brass knob to crackle and shock him when he touched it. No. Still no holy magic.

He just wanted another look.

Alucard looked guiltily over his shoulder. There was no one behind him. No one was here. Trevor wasn't due back for another hour. And no one said he wasn't allowed to be back here.

Alucard slipped through the door. He closed it behind him and sighed. It was strangely calming to be surrounded by magic, even if half the paltry artifacts in here hissed like angry cats at his nature.

Alucard ran a hand across the desk. There was a messy pile of papers there. He considered the top page. It was a diagram of a holy circle- the one Sypha had drawn downstairs. Laid out, its flaws were even more apparent. Half of the intersectional sigils were nonsense, and the shape of it was wrong.

Alucard shook his head. He could make something better. He took a sheet of blank paper from a stack in the corner, found a pencil, and started writing out the magical language he knew. Even if he was powerless, and the symbols he wrote stayed dead on the paper instead of floating like tendrils of fire in front of him, this was still familiar.

And it was a damn sight easier than writing Romanian.

He lost track of time. He barely had the circle sketched out when he heard keys in the door.

When Trevor stepped into the living room, he found Alucard back at the sofa. He didn't seem to notice the extra leaf of paper tucked into Alucard's workbook.

He finished the thing that night. Nights were empty, restless quiet. He leaned back and considered his work. Within the crucial circle, he'd placed an octagon. That gave him eight intersections on which to inscribe eight holy signs. He balked at some of what he'd drawn; emblems of light, divinity, purity.

Alucard sighed. He stretched out his shoulders. He shifted the curtain covering the window and looked through the glass. There wasn't much to see, just an old, mossy fence and part of a small strip of road, speckled with street lights. It was late. All of the windows Alucard could see were dark.

The holy ward on the window tingled against his fingers. Alucard withdrew them and let the curtain fall back. He wrinkled his nose.

He'd expected to develop some resistance to holy magic. After being pushed through wards and constantly exposed to the spell on his collar, he thought his body would eventually adjust. But no, it wasn't his body. It was something more fundamental, his being, that pricked and tingled when exposed to divine energy. It was still unpleasant.

Alucard shook his head. Of all the humans overcrowding the world, he'd stumbled onto the two who still believed in old evils. A new Trevor and Sypha. That couldn't be a coincidence, could it? He massaged his temples.

If they were dopplegangers, both Trevor and Sypha would have magical auras. Demons and illusions wouldn't have pulses or body heat. Were they undead? Some manner of reincarnations? He'd run through the possibilities.

Only one solution made sense to Alucard. This was his curse; he found Trevor and Sypha only when he was brought to his lowest. They saw the worst of him. They had before, and they had now.

Except they were not the same Trevor and Sypha. They looked like the man and woman he had loved. Spoke like them. They bore strange similarities; Sypha's magic, Trevor's drinking, their professions. But this Sypha had replaced naivete with efficient cruelty. And Trevor? Trevor?

Alucard ground his teeth together. Trevor was infuriating.

The old Trevor- Trevor Belmont- had been a lot of things. But he hadn't been patient. Once the emotional barriers had finally come down between them, his passion, his libido, had flooded over both of them like a bulwark breached. There was no other word for it. They had fucked. On creaky inn beds, or in the back of Sypha's wagon, or on the damned forest floor. And Alucard had discovered the intensity with which humans could want something, even if Trevor's gratification was so different from his own.

And yes, maybe the passion with which that Trevor had kissed him, had ground his ass to Alucard's hips, the desperate way in which he had wanted, had helped him bury all the ways he hurt. Alucard hadn't cared. He'd buried his own grief in Trevor's body too. It had worked. It was wonderful, and sinful.

Sypha had shaken her head at their exertions. She'd voiced concerns when she found them twined together, naked and panting. But she hadn't stopped them. Hell, just once, she'd joined in.

Alucard shivered. It was noticeably colder by the window, and he'd been hunched over his holy circle for too long. He rubbed the back of his neck. He slid the chair back. It scrapped along the floor. Alucard winced and strained his ears. From the other side of the wall, and far wall of the adjoined room, he could just hear someone snoring. No one had woken up.

He didn't need Sypha to know that he was awake right now. In fact, he wanted her to know as little about him as possible. Alucard slipped out of the chair. He settled into the bed and spread the electric blanket out over himself.

Alucard pressed his face into the pillow. He was used to stillness, to being alone in his mind in the quiet. And he could ignore his thirst. It was growing restless; prowling in his stomach, squirming and hissing. But he could ignore it.

He could ignore it.

He wished he could sleep.


(present)

"Alright. Can we try one more time?" Trevor asked.

"Gonna be late," Alucard said.

"Just-- really fast?"

Alucard rolled his eyes. He pulled the phone out of his pocket. It was a simple device compared to Trevor's or Sypha's. Trevor joked that it was designed for the elderly-- that Alucard's hesitance with technology was the way he showed his age.

Alucard fumbled with the lock screen. He blamed nerves. Trevor had been teaching him how to use this thing for most of the afternoon. He brought up the keypad and dialed Trevor's number.

Trevor's phone buzzed. He grinned and picked up. "Cool. And you're sure you've got my number memorized? You wouldn't rather use the address book?"

Alucard hung up. He looked over at him. "I'll be fine."

"And you've got your stuff?" Trevor asked.

Alucard held up a tote bag. He'd started to tap his foot in agitation. "P-please can we go?"

"Yeah. Okay," Trevor said,

He followed Alucard down the hall. Alucard paused as close to the front door as he could and waited as Trevor opened it. He took in a deep breath. Air moved past his face. It had been a long time. He blinked and looked out at the blue-grey sky.

It was an overcast October morning. The air was cold on his exposed face and hands. Alucard closed his eyes. He'd missed it.

"Shit," Trevor said.

Alucard's eyes snapped back open. "What's wrong?"

Trevor pointed at his feet. "We forgot to get you shoes. Crap. Maybe some of mine will fit-"

"It's fine," Alucard said, "I'm not- you're gonna carry me, most of the way."

"But-"

"Trev? I'll be okay."

Trevor gulped. "I know that. It's just been so long. What if-- I dunno. It's stupid. But I really couldn't blame you, if you didn't come back."

"Oh," Alucard said. He sighed and extended his arms. "Come here, Trev."

Trevor stepped back and wrapped his arms around him.

"I'll be back," Alucard said.

"And you'll call me if something goes wrong? If you need to be picked up?"

Alucard nodded.

"And you'll tell me all the gruesome details when you get home?"

Alucard laughed. "Of course."

"Okay. Let's get you in the car before the neighbors notice us," Trevor said. He adjusted his grip on Alucard's waist and lifted him over the threshold.

The holy ward struck Alucard. For a moment, he was smothered; the oppressive, divine weight turning him to stone, setting fire to his fingertips, pounding in his ears, blinding him. Trevor pushed him through as though they were breaking out of water. Alucard reached the other side gasping.

It was the nexus of Sypha's spell, to which every other entrance to the house was a lesser extension. It didn't appreciate something made of darkness being forced through.

The next thing Alucard knew, he was sitting in Trevor's car. Trevor buckled him in, ruffled his hair, and put the tote bag in his lap.

Alucard fumbled with his hands and hugged the bag to his chest.

"You okay?"

He nodded vaguely.

"Cool. Lets get you to your date," Trevor said. He closed the door and walked to the other side. He settled into the driver's set and started the car.

Alucard watched the pedestrians pass as they drove to Erica's apartment. 


(past)

"Bat boy?" Trevor asked. He knocked on the door.

Alucard raised his head. The wooden bedframe in front of him seemed to sway. His shoulders spasmed. Alucard groaned and sank back onto the bed.

The second knock was more tentative. "Alucard?"

Alucard cinched his eyes shut. He was supposed to say something. His skin felt tight and overdrawn over his lips and nails. The imp clawed at his insides. He hurt. He was dizzy. It was difficult to think.

"Can I come in?" Trevor asked.

"Yes," Alucard rasped.

"Shit. Are you okay?" Trevor said. He pushed open the door. He entered. Alucard didn't need to raise his head. Trevor's pulse filled the room. His heart rate was like a horse cantering between Alucard's ears. His blood- his blood- his blood had a smell, rich and overwhelming.

"Thirst," Alucard said. The word didn't feel adequate. A monster was jamming Alucard's insides up towards his throat so he could feel the immediacy of his hollowness. At least in this state, he wasn't going to leap at Trevor. He didn't think he could move.

"Oh."

A chair scrapped over the floor. Alucard felt Trevor sit beside the bed. A warm hand pressed between Alucard's shoulders.

"Sypha's cycle doesn't start till tomorrow," Trevor said.

Alucard nodded into the pillow.

"How can I help?"

Alucard said nothing. He shivered under the blanket. He didn't know what to do. Or, rather, he knew exactly what he needed. What he needed was right here, pumping warmth into Alucard's back. Trevor was too close, making everything worse.

"Was it this bad last time?" Trevor asked.

Alucard shook his head. He dragged in a breath and raised his head enough to speak. "Re-reserves gone."

"Reserves? Like, you had blood to spare?"

"A little. Before it s-snowed."

He heard Trevor wince. "Before the cold almost killed you, you mean? Before Sypha left you to freeze?"

Alucard sighed. He forced himself to roll over and consider Trevor. He was a blurry mass with messy brown hair. He'd put on a red shirt today. That wasn't helping. But having him talk was. It was distracting.

"You left me too," Alucard said quietly.

"I didn't mean to-" Trevor started. He grimaced. "Yeah. Okay. That's-- fair."

Alucard whimpered. His stomach contracted. He held his chest and waited for the pangs to pass.

"You look like shit."

Alucard leaned his head back. "T-thanks."

"I could, ummm, get you some water?"

He turned his head and stared at Trevor. He raised an eyebrow.

"Some milk? Or juice?" Trevor said. He shrugged. "I dunno. Have you tried drinking-- other stuff? And seeing if it might help?"

Alucard laughed. "It won't."

"You're sure?"

"I- I've done this. For a while."

"Yeah. Okay," Trevor said, "I could get a bath going for you?"

Alucard shook his head. "I don't- holy ward."

Trevor looked back at the doorway. He sighed. "Does that thing hurt you?"

"Everything hurts when I'm l-like this."

"Does this hurt?" Trevor asked. He took one of Alucard's hands and rubbed it between his own. Alucard gulped. He hadn't even noticed he was cold. Now he felt Trevor's pulse running up his arm.

"No."

"You got all cold again. Why didn't you turn the blanket on?"

"I tried," Alucard said, "It wouldn't-- work."

"Wouldn't work?" Trevor said. He grabbed the cord. Then he started laughing.

Alucard reluctantly raised his head. "Trevor?"

"Oh god," Trevor cackled. He leaned his head back and snorted. He held up the other end of the cord connected to the blanket. At the end of the white plastic length, there was a nub with two metal prongs. "You unplugged it."

He let go of Alucard's hand, reached back to the wall, and inserted the metal prongs into a set of small holes. Then he settled back on the chair. "So you've just been laying here, cold, thinking it was broken?"

Alucard sighed as the blanket hummed on. He felt heat sinking into his body immediately.

"A little better?" Trevor asked dryly.

Alucard nodded. He reached forward and then paused. Trevor had his hands clasped together in his lap. He wanted to hold onto him. He was solid and tangible and reassuring when everything around him was swaying.

Trevor blinked. He gave Alucard a funny look, his brows furrowed slightly together. He held out his hand. He brushed Alucard's trembling fingers.

Alucard took his hand.

"I-- can't stay here all day. You know that right?" Trevor said. He ran his thumb over the back of Alucard's hand.

"Yes," Alucard said. He closed his eyes. Heat helped ease the pain in his stomach. "Just- distract me?"

"Well, if you need something distracting, I think I can help," Trevor said. He stood up, gave Alucard's fingers a squeeze, and let him go. "I'll be right back."

He closed the door. In his absence, Alucard traced the soft, gold glow of warmth he'd left where he'd touched his hand; the tips of his fingers, his knuckles, the meat of his palms. Alucard closed his eyes. Had he really gotten in this deep? This was pathetic. He was going insane.

Trevor returned with the laptop tucked under his arm. He placed it on the cover and showed Alucard the connected, black cord.

"See this? The prongs plug into the outlet over there." He pointed to where the electric blanket was plugged in. "If it falls out, you'll have to plug it back in. Can you handle that?"

Alucard glared at Trevor's smirk. "O-of course."

"Cool. I'll check in on you in an hour or so," Trevor said. He leaned over Alucard and started the laptop.

Alucard froze. He was suddenly right there, his neck exposed and macabre beside the red cotton of his shirt. Here was a taste Alucard could reach even in this state. It would be so easy. It would be like nothing. His mouth watered.

He wouldn't kill him. It would just be a bite with dull teeth. The imp rattled Alucard's breastbone, demanding, screaming "Drink, drink, drink". It would free him, instantly, from all of this pain.

He would do it all over again; be broken by the same thirst that had broken him over and over. He was so tired of it. He was tired and he hurt. It was so much harder to restrain himself when he hurt.

Alucard whimpered.

"Oh fuck," Trevor breathed. He leaned back. "Are you- am I?"

Alucard gritted his teeth. "You- you're torture."

"Sorry. I'll, umm-- here. Just, here," he said. He took the laptop back and got a movie playing with fingers that trembled slightly. He shoved it back into Alucard's lap. "Here. I'll-- just hang in there. I'll be back in a bit."

Trevor slammed the door.

Alucard hissed. He threw his head back, deep into the pillow and silently cursed. Bad enough to be a monster or a fool. He was both. He was both.

Chapter Text

(past)

Their voices filtered in through the fog.

"Is it such a terrible thing, if he's weak?"

"It's not just weakness. He's in pain, Sypha. You should come see."

"No. I'm not getting near him when I'm bleeding."

"Fine. Just- can you bring your extra tampons back from work? Instead of tossing them? I'll give you a ziploc."

"Sure," Sypha said. Alucard heard the shrug in her voice. They were moving down the hall. Sypha had work. The door opened, and closed again after a short pause.

He heard Trevor sigh.

Alucard sunk his head deeper into the pilow. How were they going to get Sypha on their side? How could he convince her that he wasn't going to hurt Trevor, when he wasn't convinced himself? He'd come so close to biting him. Too close.

How was he supposed to restore the willpower that he'd left to crumble for centuries?

Trevor knocked and stepped in. Alucard tried to rise and crumpled over the edge of the mattress instead. He lay there, sliding out of the bed, shivering.

"Whoa there," Trevor said. He was more cautious this time. He looped an arm around Alucard's shoulder from behind, so that he wasn't placing his neck and shoulders in front of him. He lifted Alucard back onto the bed. "No need to get excited. Just lean back." He propped Alucard against the wall.

Alucard nodded vaguely. He heard plastic rip open. Red flowed over his blurry vision. Alucard gulped and opened his mouth. His thirst sent him shaking.

There was no snarky comment from Trevor this time. He simply gave Alucard what he needed, a tiny swallow of what he needed.

Alucard drained the tampon and spat it out almost immediately.

"Better?" Trevor asked.

He nodded. The howling pain in his stomach eased to a trembling ache. Trevor came into focus. He could pretend he had dignity again. "Th-thanks."

Trevor shrugged. "This was the agreement. You get blood. Hopefully it won't be, you know, this fucking hard every time."

"That's not- I mean, yes. But, for yesterday. Th-thanks for help."

"Eh. Wasn't much I could do. You seemed like you were in a lot of pain. And I just kinda ran away."

"It was the r-right choice," Alucard said, "I don't- I really don't want to hurt you. But-"

"It's gotta be fucking misery when that temptation is there all the time. I would've gone nuts, if Sypha kept beer in the house."

"I-I need to learn- to remember- how to control it."

Trevor shook his head. He settled on the chair that was still sitting beside the bed. He extended a hand, paused, and then set it on Alucard's knee. "You talk like it's this whole separate thing, your, uhh, drinking problem."

"D-drinking problem?" Alucard asked. His lip twitched. "My thirst? It feels alive like, like a curse."

"Isn't that how vampirism works?"

"Don't know. I- I think it's easier for f-full bloods. Their nature, my father's, the others- was whole. I've always been broken."

"I'm sorry," Trevor said.

Alucard looked down. He found Trevor's hand on his knee. This was torture again, trying to separate wanting him from thirsting for him. This was a mess. He was a mess. He was lucid enough to take stock of that. He had come so close to breaking.

Alucard gulped. He pressed his hand over Trevors. The contact steadied him. He squeezed his eyes shut and took a deep breath.

"Trev?"

"Yes?"

"Can- do you, umm, would you--?" Alucard started. He winced. His jaw twinged.

Trevor brushed his fingers over Alucard's kneecap. "Yeah?"

Alucard sighed. He pressed his free hand over his mouth, feeling out the pain and waiting for it to fade. He thought it over. He wasn't ready to dive into this yet. Not like this. Trevor was already too close and his control was lacking.

Finally, he pulled his hand away and looked up at Trevor. "Something new to read?"

"Yeah. I can get you something."

 

It was a tiny amount of blood, and Alucard could barely stomach the stuff Sypha brought home- the tampons she'd changed during her lunch break. But by day four, he was on his feet again. No more shaking from thirst. He was almost warmed up. It was enough.

Hopefully, he wouldn't burn through blood so quickly this time. He read and amended his holy circle and spent the long hours of the night trying to force the imp of his thirst back down.

When Trevor came to get him the next morning, he was up to his elbows in flour.

"Morning," he said.

Alucard nodded.

"What is it?" he asked, when Alucard leaned away from him.

Alucard pointed at his hands. Trevor looked down, apparently surprised by the layer of dust on his fingers.

"Right. Gimme a sec."

He washed up at the kitchen sink and returned with clean, mostly dry hands.

"Living room?" he asked.

Alucard pressed his head to Trevor's chest and nodded. It was nice to just be able to appreciate his closeness without having it burn him.

The holy ward was disorienting after a few days reprieve. By the time the glowing spots and tingling sensation had faded, Alucard was on the couch. Trevor was back in the kitchen.

Alucard turned to watch him mixing something furiously. He recognized some of the smells. They were medicinal- cinnamon, poppy seeds. He raised an eyebrow. "What a-are you doing?"

"Baking," Trevor said. He gave the contents of the bowl a last stir and set it aside, apparently satisfied. He started chopping walnuts into a second bowl.

"Why?"

"Well, we don't have a gift budget this year, so Sypha and I- well, really just me, we're gonna give cookie tins."

Alucard raised an eyebrow. "As a- gift?" Even now, confronted with evidence, he had trouble envisioning Trevor baking.

"Yeah. You realize it's the new year, right? It's almost Christmas."

Alucard blinked. "Christmas?"

"Oh," Trevor said. He paused in the act of measuring sugar into a cup. "Oh shit. Okay, umm, so about two thousand years ago there was this guy named Jesus, and-"

Alucard snorted. "I know what Christmas is. B-but it was just a feast day. Before"

"Do not do this to me. I swear to god I never know what to expect with you. 'Oh, I know your spooky medieval twin. No, I don't know how electricity works.' Jeez," he said. He put a hand on his forehead. "I shouldn't be the one teaching you this stuff. I'm an idiot. It should be Sypha, but-"

"I- I'd rather it be you," Alucard said quietly, "And, you're not an idiot."

Trevor looked back at him. For a moment, he really stared at Alucard. Alucard shifted on the sofa. What did he see? Was it what Alucard saw in the mirror- an eerie, waxen skinned man? Were there still shadows on his face, lingering from the onslaught of thirst he'd beaten back?

The old Trevor had called him beautiful- usually with a tankard in hand. What did this one see?

Trevor shook his head. He returned to stirring. "You'll take shitty teaching over Sypha's tirades, huh?"

"Yes."

"I wish-" Trevor started. The stirring stopped again. He shook out his dominant shoulder in a single, irritated jerk. "If she gave you a chance-- any kind, really. If she saw you when you're relaxed, or, hell, even when you're in pain. Anything except clammed up and scared of her. Maybe she'd get it."

"I can b-barely talk, in front of her."

"I know," Trevor said. He returned to stirring with new frustration. "You just need to ignore her."

Alucard gulped. "Sh-she'd flay me."

"No. She won't. We all made an agreement."

"B-but."

Trevor pointed his spoon at Alucard with enough force to send a bit of the sticky walnut mixture flying. "She won't hurt you. She said she wouldn't and Sypha keeps her word. Always."

"But she hates me."

Trevor sighed. "No. She doesn't. She's just scared."

"Scared?"

Trevor nodded. He set the bowl aside and started to roll out dough on the counter. "I think she still expects she's gonna come home, and I'll be a bloody mess on the floor and you'll be all red eyed and wild again."

Alucard winced. He could still remember having Trevor leaning over him. The roar of his instincts had deafened him at having those sweet, critical vessels exposed. If he was honest with himself, that could have happened.

"She doesn't get it," Trevor said, "You're not what your thirst made you."

Alucard narrowed his eyes. "Are- are you sure you aren't talking about you?"

"What?"

"My thirst isn't- it's not like drinking. N-not the same."

"Yeah? You sound pretty confident for someone who's never tried alcohol before."

"No. I just- your cravings go away."

"You sure about that?" Trevor said. His voice dropped. He rolled the end of the long log of dough with an angry flourish and stepped away, towards Alucard. "You think I don't wake up at 3 am in a cold sweat, wanting again-- wanting so hard I feel like I'm gonna puke my guts out?"

Alucard gulped.

Trevor stepped onto the living room carpet and looked down at him. "Maybe it won't go away-- for either of us. But it got easier for me, eventually. It'll get easier for you too."

"You d-don't know that."

"No. I don't. But you said you had all of this under control once, right? That Trevor you keeping talking about, Belmont? You-- uhh, got really close to him, even bit him, without killing him?"

Alucard sighed. "Not sure I c-could do that anymore."

Trevor tilted his head. "Okay. Let me finish this. Then I want to try something."

Alucard watched him return to the kitchen. Trevor spread the contents of the bowls onto the long, rolled out dough. He started to methodically wind the dough into a loaf.

"Did S-Sypha teach you how to do this?" Alucard asked.

Trevor shook his head. "Give me some credit. I picked this up when I was a kid, actually. Did a lot of baking with my grandparents over the school breaks."

He greased a pan and continued without looking up. "It's calming. I dunno. We don't do much for the holidays, but it's kinda nice to do something. Normally we'd host a party but, not this year."

"Not with me here?" Alucard asked.

"Something like that, yeah," Trevor said. He coiled the dough into the pan, set it in the oven and started a timer. He washed up, considered the mess of bowls and measuring materials he'd left, shook his head, and went to sit in the living room.

"Okay, here. If I'm sitting here, can you-- is this tempting right now?" Trevor asked. He sat in the chair beside the sofa, about a meter from Alucard.

"A l-little," Alucard admitted, "I can hear y-your pulse."

"Shit. Really? What if I get closer? Is it okay if I get closer?"

Alucard nodded.

Trevor moved from the chair to the sofa. He leaned against the armrest opposite Alucard. "Is this worse?"

Alucard shook his head. It wasn't proximity that made the difference.

"Can I touch you?"

Alucard gulped. He nodded. His stomach gave a strange lurch. Trevor reached forward. He pressed his palm to Alucard's cheek.

Alucard shivered. He felt the tiny pulse twitching at Trevor's wrist. His mouth watered and his stomach clenched. Alucard closed his eyes and leaned into the contact.

That was a mistake. He realized it immediately. The faint pulse was suddenly overwhelming. It was so close in the dark. The imp screeched. It was so easy and so natural to open his mouth and lunge forward, just a couple of inches to reach Trevor's wrist.

No. Alucard recoiled. He forced himself back and put a hand over his mouth. He fell off the sofa. He landed with a thump on the floor.

"Uhh, you alright?" Trevor said. He peeked his head over the cushion.

Alucard sighed. He curled his arms around his knees and looked up. "Almost bit."

"I mean, maybe. But you didn't. You stopped."

"Barely."

"It's a start," Trevor said. He offered a hand to help Alucard up. Alucard shook his head and clambered back onto the sofa on his own. He didn't need to test himself again.

"You know what helped me, when I was trying to get clean? There isn't an AA down here, but I found some internet groups. Still talk to some of those folks, actually. Anyway, one of the admins told us that willpower, it's like a muscle. Addictions weaken that muscle- they break you down. It's about strengthening the muscle again."

Alucard shrugged. "My body d-doesn't work like that. I've never had, had to get stronger."

"Fuck, really?" Trevor said, "What, you mean you never had to go to the gym? No strength training? Nothing?"

"No."

Trevor smacked his forehead. "Un-fucking-believable," he said. He shook his head. "But you get the idea, right? Willpower is something you need to practice."

"Never had to-to do that before."

"Maybe that's the problem," Trevor said, "I dunno. But I think we should keep trying this."

Alucard raised an eyebrow. "This? You touching me?"

"If you're okay with it."

"I- I am."


 

(present)

Alucard rapped his knuckles on the door. He stood on the short set of stairs leading up to Erica's flat, shifting from foot to foot. He hated the feeling of concrete through his socks. And as much as he had been excited to go outside, he suddenly felt exposed and anxious. He was grey skinned and golden eyed. If a neighbor looked out their window, or passed on the sidewalk, what would they see?

Alucard wrapped his arms around himself. He considered knocking again. Then he heard footsteps from the other side. Someone approached at a run.

"Is that him already?" someone muttered.

Erica forced open the door, slightly breathless. She blinked at him. Then she leaned on the doorframe and grinned.

"Hey there," she said.

"Miss Erica? M-may I come in?"

She tilted her head. "Do you need an invitation?"

"I need you to-to get out of the doorway," Alucard said.

Erica chuckled. "Fair enough." She stepped away and welcomed Alucard in.

Alucard stepped in and sighed. Then he jerked his head back. He narrowed his eyes. A car had started again. It rolled back up the street.

"Is everything alright?" Erica said. She looked out at the road. "Wait, is that Trevor's car?"

"Yes," Alucard said. He shook his head. "He said he w-wouldn't."

"He cares about you, huh?" Erica said. She reached forward and gently gripped Alucard's hand. She tugged him into the short, shoe strewn hallway into her flat. She grinned back at him. "Guess I'd better take good care of you then."

Alucard shivered. He closed the door and followed her.

Erica gestured to a chair in a small living room. He sat. She stepped over him, put a hand under his chin and lifted his head.

"I wanted to check in. I know we've talked about this. But-"

Alucard offered a small smile. "I'm still amenable, Miss."

"Heh."

Erica grinned. She let go of his chin and stepped back. "Alright. Cleaning stuff is under the sink. I'll work on the bathroom. You really shouldn't have to clean that. Call if you need me."

"Yes, Miss."

Chapter Text

(past)


"So, what is your actual name?"

"I-I told you. Alucard."

Sypha tilted her head. She sat on the couch and unfolded a piece of paper. Alucard recognized the yellow page Trevor had written their agreement on. She tapped the top of the paper, where Trevor had dutifully written their names. She read out Alucard's name, letter by letter. Then she read it backwards.

Alucard grimaced.

"Dracula," Sypha said, "The name you gave us is just Dracula reversed."

"That i-is my name," Alucard said.

"Wait a minute," someone called from the kitchen. Trevor popped his head over the counter and stared. "Did- did he just give you his name backwards?"

Alucard shook out his shoulders and straightened his posture. He hated where this was going. He nodded anyway.

Trevor fell back into the kitchen, cackling. Sypha rose in the armchair and stared at him. She raised an eyebrow. Alucard watched her processing. She blinked. One of her hands twitched.

"Gave you his name?" she asked quietly, "Is Dracula your, what would it be, your sire?"

Alucard sighed. He sank back down and rested his head in his hands. "Yes. No."

"Oh shit. Sypha, I forgot to tell you. Dracula was his dad."

"What?" Sypha said. Alucard heard the chair creak as she leapt off of it and backed away from him. "He's real? He-- you--?"

Alucard raised his head. "Yes."

Sypha actually crossed herself. The faint holy aura of the movement raised goosebumps on Alucard's arms. She looked up at the ceiling, as though she expected to see a dark cloaked figure leering down at them from the shadows in the corners. "Dear god."

Alucard rubbed the goosebumps from his arms. He shook his head. Dracula was dead. He had killed him.

Sypha rounded on Trevor. "How long have you known?"

"Uhhh-" Trevor started. His expression shifted from amusement to alarm. He gulped when Sypha beckoned for him. He stood up and approached her. Whatever Alucard thought of this new Trevor, he was brave to the point of stupidity.

Sypha grabbed his arm and marched him back into the hallway.

Alucard stayed on the couch. He heard Sypha's urgent whispers echo back through the archway.

"He's Dracula's son?"

"Yeah. I think it's a sore spot for him. He helped a couple of slayers kill him."

"He killed his father? Why?"

Alucard looked down at his hands. He curled them into fists.

"I dunno. Stopping some evil, Dracula nonsense. That was how he met the original- us? The Trevor and Sypha he keeps talking about."

"So you're telling me," Sypha started. Her voice rose and she forced it back down. "That we captured the son of, I don't know, the most powerful vampire to ever live?"

Trevor snorted. "That's a generous word for what we did."

Sypha gulped. "We can't do this."

"What?"

"We can't- a vampire prince? We're gonna end up on stakes in the front yard."

"The damage is done," Trevor said, "What are we gonna do now?"

"He can't stay here," Sypha said.

"What? Why? This doesn't-- why would this change anything?"

"Trevor? How do we control Dracula's son?"

"Uhh, the way we have been? Things have been going fine?"

A note of panic slipped into Sypha's tone. "How do I know you'll be safe?"

"You know what? Here. Let's settle this," Trevor said. He stepped back out of the hallway. He walked past Alucard on the couch and got to the coffee table. Trevor pushed the table to one side, clearing a space between the armchair and the tv.

"Trevor? What are you doing?" Sypha asked. She leaned against the hallway arch and raised an eyebrow.

Trevor looked from her to Alucard. He raised a hand and gestured for Alucard to step forward. Trevor stepped into the open space he'd made. He shook his shoulders loose and looked over at Alucard, who'd just started to rise. He grinned. "Fight me."

"What?" Alucard and Sypha said.

"Come on," Trevor said, "Just, see if you can wrestle me to the ground."

Alucard gaped at him. "A-are you certain?"

"Trevor, don't you dare," Sypha said.

"Look, I'm tired of this," Trevor said, "If I'm supposed to be scared of you, one of you needs to give me a reason."

Alucard gulped. "There- there are good reasons."

"Prove it. Fight me. Unless you don't think you can take me."

Alucard straightened to his full height. He pushed his hair out of his face. "I can."

Trevor grinned. "That's the spirit."

Something spluttered into life with a hiss and pop of flame. Alucard winced. He turned his head back. Sypha held a ball of fire in her hands. Her eyes were wide and panicked. "No. Trevor, no. I forbid it."

"Sypha? Do you want me to wait until you aren't here to try this out? Or would you rather help me do this safely?"

The flame in Sypha's hand guttered.

"We captured him to test things, right?" Trevor said quietly.

"Well, yes, but-"

Trevor shrugged. "This is what I wanna test."

"Okay, fine," Sypha said. She curled her fist and the flame vanished.

"Cool," Trevor said. He returned to considering Alucard. He adjusted his stance into an easy, open pose. "Bat boy? Ready when you are."

Alucard took a deep breath. He reached for his hip, for a weapon that hadn't been there for decades. Then he remembered himself. This wasn't that kind of fight. Alucard felt very vulnerable. He had no powers or abilities. What was left was the mechanical strength of his body-- and there wasn't much when he was deprived of blood.

On the other hand, he was fast. He was fast enough to take Trevor by surprise. Alucard ran in. He grabbed Trevor's wrist. He pushed forward.

Trevor grunted. He stepped back. He blocked Alucard's other hand. He wrenched his hand out of Alucard's hold.

Alucard blinked. He pulled his hand back. Was he really that weak? Weak enough that a human could pull himself out of his grip?

Trevor hooked a leg under Alucard's ankles. Alucard gasped and fell backward.

Trevor took advantage of his surprise and jumped on top of him. He grabbed Alucard's wrists and held them to the floor. He pressed the weight of his legs over Alucard's knees.

Alucard blinked. He stared up at Trevor. He gritted his teeth and tugged his dominant arm.

His eyes widened. His hand was trapped in Trevor's grip.

"Huh," Trevor said. He took a deep breath. "Can you break loose?"

Alucard squirmed. He shifted his weight at the hips, trying to get his legs free. Sure, Trevor was just human, but he was in shape, muscular and strong. And he knew how to leverage his weight to keep Alucard down.

"I-" Alucard said. He tried to jerk his leg up at the knee. It worked. He got his leg loose for a moment, only for Trevor to shift and trap him again. He hissed. "I- I can't."

Trevor tilted his head. He leaned in over Alucard. His face was suddenly close- far too close. Alucard gulped. For half a second, he searched Alucard's face. Then he leaned back.

"Happy?" Trevor asked. Alucard gaped up at him. Then he realized Trevor had turned to look at Sypha. "I'm stronger than him."

There was no answer. Trevor looked over. Alucard followed his gaze.

Sypha leaned over the sofa back, staring down at them. Her gaze was unfocused, and her mouth was slightly open.

"Sypha?"

Sypha shook herself, as though falling out of a trance. "Yes?"

Trevor smirked. "Enjoying the show?"

Sypha wrinkled her nose.

Alucard watched all of this from what felt like the other side of water. He tried to surface, but Trevor's blood had weight and substance. It held him down. It threatened to drown him. He closed his eyes and forced himself through.

"Look, I think he's cute too," Trevor said.

Alucard heard a thwump, and opened his eyes in time to see a pillow plop off Trevor's chest. Trevor caught the pillow and rolled his eyes. Then he looked back down. "Sorry bat boy. Thanks for doing that with me." He offered Alucard his hand.

Alucard stared up at him. "Whatever y-you're baking, it's burning."

"What?" Trevor said. He blinked. He looked over to the kitchen. "Shit." He staggered to his feet and ran past the coffee table.

Alucard shook his head. He pulled himself up with his hands and curled in around his legs. He shivered, feeling suddenly vulnerable again. Trevor was stronger than him. He was trapped in some weird mirror world where his fangs were gone and Trevor was stronger than him. He willed himself to forget the feel of Trevor's hands on his wrists, his chest so close to Alucard's that heat had flooded into his body and he'd felt Trevor's pulse.

He wanted him. It had been too long. Alucard couldn't recall how to want anything outside of thirsting for something, consuming something, trying to break it open and taste it's pulsing insides.

He hugged his knees.

"I don't understand," Sypha said.

Alucard propped his chin on his knees and looked up at her. He raised an eyebrow.

"I thought vampires were supposed to be strong."

Alucard wrinkled his nose. "I- was." He tapped the collar.

"The collar?" Sypha said. Her brow furrowed. She sat up and leaned forward. She extended a hand and then paused. She was still afraid to get her hands near him. She settled for staring at the silver, as though she expected it to be something more than metal. "How?"

"Some of my strength is- was- magical."

"Most of it," Trevor corrected from the kitchen, "I got a taste of how strong you used to be. Honestly, even Sypha could probably take you."

Alucard glared at him. Sypha did the same. Trevor looked back and gave a wide, shit-eating grin. "Well, it's true."

Sypha raised her middle finger at him. That, it seemed, had transcended time and language. Apparently, so did Trevor being an ass.

 


 

(present)


He didn't mind cleaning. It had a timeless meticulousness and a methodical logic that he could appreciate. He pulled his rubber gloves out of the tote bag and set to work. Scraping off the encrusted sauces and spills on the burners came first. He swept up the crumbs and cuttings on the counters, wrinkling his nose when he found garlic peels. At least he'd thought to put on gloves.

Once the surfaces were cleared, they could be cleaned. He found a spot on the small dining room table to place the microwave and electric kettle. He scrubbed the counters and the burners, first with soap and then with cleaner. He did the same with the sink. The work was fast and simple. He swept the kitchen floor, returned the appliances and, finding himself with extra time, attacked the persistent stains on the tile with a bit of steel wool.

Being prostrate on the ground, furiously scrapping at a stain apparently gave others a nice view. Sure, Alucard had looked back before and seen Trevor, slack jawed and staring as he cleaned. Now, Alucard turned his head and saw Erica doing the same.

"Miss?"

"I don't think my kitchen has been this clean since I moved in," Erica said. She shook her head. "You must think we're all terrible slobs."

"N-not slobs. Busy."

Erica shrugged. She stepped into the kitchen and started pulling vegetables out of the fridge. "Sypha and Amber both work longer hours than I do."

"Sypha has t-two slaves," Alucard said.

"Is that how you see yourself?" Erica asked. She pulled a cutting board from a drawer and almost tripped on Alucard, still kneeling on the floor.

"Sorry," Alucard said. He crawled out of the way.

Erica chuckled. She set the cutting board down, bent over and picked Alucard up. "You're good, silly. Go. Sit. Make yourself comfortable."

"O-on the furniture?"

"Well, just this once," Erica said. She released Alucard from her hold and pointed to the loveseat set by the dining room table.

"Oh, and I don't know what you want to do with these- but, uhh, here." Erica went back to the refrigerator. She pulled out a ziploc bag and tossed it to Alucard.

Alucard considered the ziploc's contents. He wrinkled his nose. Cold blood was not an enticing prospect. But this had been the point of their arraignment. He needed more than he was getting from Sypha alone. Erica offered a solution.

He took out the first tampon and slowly sucked it dry.

This was a consequence of his actions. He understood that. Sypha had discussed it. If he had never resorted to killing, maybe they could have reached a more pleasant compromise. Trevor had practically volunteered to give blood and Sypha had the syringes and expertise to do it safely.

No. No more suffering on his behalf. He got blood in a way that harmed no one. He agreed with that, even if a tiny part of him knew that the pain, the taking of life essence, was what truly sustained him. He didn't care. He was immortal. It would be fine.

"What are you thinking about?" Erica asked.

Alucard opened his eyes. He shrugged. Erica settled in a seat at the table. She had a plate of food in hand. Apparently he'd been lost in thought for a while.

"You've got your own, private world in there, don't you?" Erica said.

Alucard raised an eyebrow at her.

"Just, all of these thoughts that you can't express, or maybe that you're afraid to say. It's strange, like there's a solitary place you retreat to where no one can follow."

Alucard pulled the tampon from his mouth with as much dignity as he could manage. He cleared his throat. "I- I had no one but myself. For so long."

"That's right," Erica said. She took a bite, considering. "You're ancient, aren't you? Five hundred and-"

"Sixty one," Alucard said. He and Trevor had taken out a calendar and a laptop to puzzle it out one day. They even had a rough estimate that his birthday was in early summer, May or June.

"That isn't possible," Erica said, "That makes you older than half of what we put in museums. You lived through, what? The Renaissance? The industrial revolution? Both world wars?"

"Slept through them," Alucard said. He picked out a second tampon and willed himself to put it in his mouth. He suppressed a shudder as cold, congealed blood hit his throat. It was rude. Erica was providing these for him. "Woke- woke up one day and the air s-smelled like smoke a-and everything was plastic and concrete."

"I suppose we are slowly killing the planet, aren't we?" Erica said. She sighed.

Alucard shrugged. "At least you don't throw your w-waste directly into rivers, a-anymore."

"Truly, human ingenuity at its finest," Erica said. She rolled her eyes and took another bite. "I still can't believe that Sypha makes you clean the bathroom when you don't- you know."

Alucard twitched. Why did everyone know how his body worked? Sypha found it fascinating; the dribble of clear piss he could manage after feeding, the way he vomited up the iron supplements she'd had him swallow. She speculated about what his stomach might look like. It was uncomfortable just to think about. He shook the thoughts away.

"I mean, I s-still bathe," Alucard said. And his long hair frequently clogged the drain.

"Still," Erica said, "Doesn't seem fair."

Alucard shrugged. "Sypha has work. Trevor, h-hunt stuff. And he still does, does all the cooking."

"And you get stuck at home, alone, doing everything else?"

"Got to come s-see you," Alucard said quietly. He looked over at Erica and gave her a small smile.

Erica grinned. "I'm looking forward to playing with you."

"R-ready when you are," Alucard said, like his heart rate wasn't nervous and rising at the idea.


 

(past)


"I can't believe it. That bastard really named you-- just, took his name and flipped it?" Trevor said. He dropped Alucard onto his bed and sat on the chair by the desk.

Alucard swallowed. He felt sensation returning to his limbs. He raised his head. "I have, had, another name."

"And you chose to go by Alucard?" Trevor asked. His lips twitched.

Alucard sighed. "My mother c-called me Adrian."

"Adrian?" Trevor said.

Alucard massaged his temples. "I- I don't know. That name was a-a better version of me. Who had control. Never k-killed."

Alucard didn't even notice he was shivering until Trevor wrapped the electric blanket around him and turned it on.

"I f-failed her. And all of you," Alucard said.

"Adrian," Trevor said. He tested Alucard's name on his tongue. He shook his head. "So you've had a normal fucking name this whole time?"

"Is- is that a normal name?" Alucard asked.

"Yup. No one would raise an eyebrow, if you introduced yourself like that," Trevor said. He sat back in the chair. "Dunno though. I like Alucard. It's very-"

"Pretentious?"

Trevor shrugged. "Elegant, I think. It suits you."

"You- you think I'm elegant?" Alucard said. How could he possibly have given that impression when Trevor had seen him mad with thirst, stripped and chained like an animal?

"Yeah, actually, I do," Trevor said. He yawned and stretched. "Damn. Well, I'll see you tomorrow, okay?"

"Trev?" Alucard asked quietly.

Trevor stopped at the door. "Yeah?"

"Will, will she kick me out?"

"No," Trevor said. He shook his head. "As long as you want to stay, I'll make sure you can."

"Thanks," Alucard said.

Trevor quietly closed the door. Alucard leaned back on the bed and looked up at the ceiling. Sypha? How was he going to convince Sypha that he wasn't going to hurt them?

Alucard's thoughts wandered. He heard the wind howling outside. It reminded him of the old times. He could still feel the wolf in him. The longing to run, to fly through the forest and hunt was suddenly overwhelming.

His father had felt close by when Sypha had invoked him. Dracula. He had never called him by that name. In Alucard's childhood, he had always just been father. He had never thought of him as the infamous warlord, or the vampire king. He hadn't seen that devastating side of his father until his mother had been put to the stake.

In retrospect, Alucard understood how Dracula had lost his mind. He had more sympathy now than he'd had in his idealistic twenties. He had more regrets. He had killed him. Alucard had thrown his lot in with the human world, a world that wouldn't accept him, and been branded a traitor.

Were they still out there? The rest of his kind? Alucard shuddered. He doubted it. The way Trevor talked about vampires and demons suggested that most of them had been killed off, or returned to their true home.

Alucard gulped. He had never been to hell. He hoped he never would.

Chapter Text

(past)


Two days later, something was off when Sypha came home. She opened the door slowly, and trudged into the living room before pulling off her shoes.

"Hey," Trevor said, "how was work?"

Sypha gave an indecisive grunt.

"Right. Leftovers okay? There's, uhh, not a lot of counter space here," Trevor said. This was true. The baking was finally over, and there were eight tins stuffed full of sweets taking up most of the space. Alucard was in the kitchen with him, helping clean the dishes. There was a stack of bowls between them, full of measuring cups and mixing spoons.

"Yeah," Sypha said. She gave a weary thumbs up.

Later that evening, Alucard noticed that her face was pale and strained, and that her breathing was slightly uneven. That frightened him in a way that he couldn't put a word to. When he returned to his room that night, it was with acerbic dread eating at his stomach.

At 2 am, he heard her get up, hacking loudly. She grumbled all the way to the bathroom. He heard her coughing, her cough become wretching, the wretching dissolve into a wet and over-full gagging sound. She threw up.

Alucard stood up. He got to the door and reached for the handle before he thought better of it. What was he supposed to do? He couldn't get through the door. And did he really want to deal with Sypha when she was miserable?

But she was sick. She was sick, and she was human. What if she was dying there on the bathroom floor? Based on the way she was gagging and swearing under her breath, it certainly sounded like it.

He was considering calling out to her. Trevor beat him to it.

"Sypha? Are you okay?"

"Fuck. I'm fine, Trevor. Go back to bed. I'll be back soon."

Alucard heard her wash up and walk back down the hallway. He spent a long time after that just listening to the distant sound of their breathing.

He'd forgotten. He'd forgotten. They were human- both of them. They were mortal. Mortals were delicate systems- heart and brains and intestines all connected by blood and covered in flesh. They were this precarious balance and that balance tipped eventually. Old age or heart failure or disease. Blood loss- how many times had Alucard watched the arc of spilling fluid fade to a trickle, his victim twitching as life drained from their body?

He supposed there were no good ways to die. But he, at least, had inherited his father's immunity to old age and disease, the resistance to injuries and the fast healing. He might die, but it would be to a stake, or some other violent death. That seemed strangely kinder than slow, stagnant suffering into nothingness.

Alucard realized he was still standing at the door, his fingers half extended to reach the handle. He shook his head. He returned to the bed. He read slowly, trying to focus on words and pictures. It did little to drown out Sypha's congested, painful sounding breathing from the other room. It did little to block out an old, desperate memory. He could see Trevor's face, Trevor Belmont's face, pale and sickly. He remembered that last, delirious gaze before his old lover had closed his eyes and not opened them again.

They were mortal, this Trevor and this Sypha. Was he really going to give his heart and his sanity to another human after the disaster he'd been through, and what he'd let himself become in the aftermath?

 

Usually, Sypha got up when it was still dark. She'd quietly make herself breakfast and loiter in the living room before heading to work at 7 am. And then there were the days when she was out the door at 3 am, and many others when she didn't return home till midnight.

Alucard wasn't sure he understood sleep, but he'd wager that she wasn't getting enough of it.

The next morning, Alucard didn't hear anyone rising from bed until it was light out. Finally, the door opened. He heard light, weary footsteps. Sypha pulled herself into the hallway. Trevor called after her.

"Sypha, you can't," he said. He yawned. "You've gotta call in."

"But-"

"Nope. Nope. You're sick," Trevor said. He stepped after her into the hallway. "You gotta rest. Please?"

"I don't- I'm fine," Sypha said.

"You're gonna make other people sick, Sypha."

Sypha sighed. She paused.

"Let me take care of you," Trevor said, "Just, give the office a call. I'll make you breakfast."

"Oatmeal?" Sypha said quietly.

"I will make you the best fucking oatmeal," Trevor said, "Now please lie down?"

"Okay."

Alucard listened desperately as they settled in the living room. He heard a kettle boiling and the TV turn on.

Would she be okay? Alucard gulped. Why wasn't Trevor taking her to a doctor? She had vomited. As far as Alucard knew, the contents of a human's stomach was not supposed to come back up unless they'd ingested alcohol or poison.

After what felt like another hour of worrying, Alucard finally heard Trevor walking back into the hallway. He was at the door to meet him when he knocked.

Trevor opened the door. "Hey, umm-"

"Is she okay?" Alucard asked.

Trevor blinked. "Sypha, you mean?"

"Is she-" Alucard started. He leaned in as far as he dared and dropped his voice. "Is she going to make it?"

"She won't have to. I set her up with a bucket if she vomits again."

"What? Trev, will she live?"

Trevor stared at him. "Of fucking course she will. I mean, she's bloody miserable and it's probably the flu. But, yeah, she's not going to die or anything."

"Are you sure?"

Trevor's brow furrowed. "Yes? This isn't, I dunno, the fucking plague or something. She'll be fine as long as she stays hydrated and actually lets herself rest."

"Humans die of p-plenty of things. Not just plague."

"Well, sure, back in the good old days before sanitation and cough syrup. It's better now. People don't die from stomach bugs."

Alucard searched Trevor's face. "She's not going to die?"

"I didn't know you cared," Trevor said. His lip twitched.

"Promise? She'll make it?"

"Yeah. Of course she will."

"Okay," Alucard said. His shoulders relaxed. "That- thank you."

"Modern medicine's a wonderful thing," Trevor said, "And, actually, I was wondering if you could help me?"

"How?"

"I need to go and grab stuff from the store. Can you just make sure Sypha doesn't try to do anything while I'm gone?"

"Do-- anything?"

"Like, work stuff," Trevor said, "Just, keep her off the computer. Get her to sleep."

"Yes. O-of course," Alucard said. Surely he could handle an ill and miserable human who just needed to rest.

 

He'd underestimated Sypha's resolve. Significantly underestimated it.

"What d-do you need?" Alucard asked, the third time he heard the telltale squeak of box springs as she rose from the couch.

Sypha glared at him blurrily. "More tea."

"Already started," Alucard said. He pointed back into the kitchen. Then he pointed at the sofa. "Just- lie down. Please."

Sypha rolled her eyes and settled back down into the pile of pillows and blankets Trevor had arranged for her.

"I must be the easiest meal ever, right now," she said.

Alucard shook his head. He stepped into the kitchen and put his hand over the electric kettle. It was starting to heat up. It was working, even if was hard for him to understand how the narrow cord connecting the metal vessel to the wall could possibly transfer heat.

"Wouldn't be able to stop you," Sypha said.

Alucard shivered. He tapped his hand on the counter.

"You gonna do it, vampire? Don't you want to? You hate me-- you must hate me."

Alucard looked back and saw the top of Sypha's head peering out over the sofa's back. He considered her. She was visibly sweating. She was feverish and sick and didn't seem able to keep him in focus.

"You're delirious," Alucard said, "Just r-rest."

"How the hell am I supposed to rest when you're here?" Sypha grumbled.

"Trevor w-will be back in an, an hour."

"Can't you just go back to your room?"

"I can't, a-actually," Alucard said. He grabbed the jar Trevor had indicated, opened it up, and smelled it. It was mostly chamomile and something with a licorice smell; maybe echinacea? He measured a spoonful into the filter in the mug Trevor had set out for him. His hand shook slightly, sending a few specks of tea onto the counter.

"Never should've caught you," Sypha muttered, "Stupid idea. idiocy."

For some reason, that was what did it. The word echoed strangely in Alucards mind, recalling all of Trevor's small acts of self-deprecation. "I'm dense. Like, really fucking stupid. So we're clear." The old Trevor hadn't been like that. He'd hated anyone and everyone except himself. Was this where this Trevor's self-loathing came from?

Anger surged like a cold snap through Alucard's mind. Distantly, he heard the kettle start to bubble. It barely registered. He walked back to Sypha and leaned on the backboard of the sofa, towering over her.

"He's done n-nothing wrong."

"What?"

"Trevor has been k-kind and patient. Y-you treat him like garbage when he's-- he deserves better."

Sypha raised an eyebrow. "Excuse me. What are we talking about?"

Alucard ground his teeth together, which only served to send another couple of twinges of pain up his jaw. "He's n-not an idiot. Not stupid. Even if he th-thinks he is. He deserves to be loved."

"Oh," Sypha said. For once, she didn't rise to his words. Instead, she deflated visibly under them, sinking deeper into the nest of pillows and blankets. She lowered her gaze. "It wasn't his idea, catching you. That was mine."

"Oh."

"Which means- it means if you ever hurt him, it's my fault," Sypha informed her clasped hands.

Alucard gulped.

"No. He's not an idiot. Have you noticed that too? The way he talks about himself? I hate it," Sypha said. Her hands curled into fists. "It's where the self-destructive behavior comes from, I think."

"But- you control him."

Sypha shook her head. "I don't. Sure, we play games. But outside of that- no."

Alucard folded his arms. "So, not like w-what you did to me?"

Sypha shivered visibly. "You’re different. You’re a-”

"A what?" Alucard asked. He leaned over the sofa, looking down at her.

Sypha stared up at him steadily. "A monster."

“Is that what you need t-to see?" Alucard said, "Because if I’m not-- what you d-did to me-”

“Don’t,” Sypha snapped.

“What would it m-make you?” Alucard asked.

For a moment, Sypha simply stared at him. Alucard gulped. He waited for her to yell. Then, Alucard heard her heart rate jolt. She put a hand over her mouth. Her eyes shot open. Alucard caught the word "bucket" whispered from between her fingers.

Alucard dove forward. He pushed the container into her lap just in time, and then jumped out of the way. If he still had the ability, he would have jaunted across the room. It had been a long time since he'd seen someone sick. It was nothing like the bloody bile Alucard produced when his stomach rejected something solid. Sypha gurgled, and then forced up a mixture of stomach acid and oats. Twice.

When she was done, she whimpered.

Alucard sighed. He stepped in close again. He took the bucket from her, set it on the table, and offered Sypha the box of paper tissues.

"Thanks," Sypha croaked. She cleaned her lips with a tissue and tossed it into the trash bin Trevor had set beside the couch. She shivered. "Water?"

Alucard nodded. "Of c-course. And tea, in a bit."

"Fluids," Sypha said wearily. She accepted the glass he offered her, took a sip to swish in her mouth, spat it out into the bin, and then drank the rest.

Alucard emptied the bucket. He refilled her glass twice. Then he went to get tea. When he returned, Sypha was hunched over, shaking slightly and still wheezing. She looked miserable.

Alucard steeled himself with a small shake of the shoulders. He was centuries old. By comparison, she was a child. She was sick and scared. He could make some attempt to be the bigger man.

“You’re n-not, you know,” Alucard said as he poured her a mug, “A monster, I mean.”

“I know that,” Sypha said. She spoke with half the venom Alucard expected. “I don’t have any fangs.”

“Nor do I,” Alucard said. He flashed his teeth at her. Sypha rolled her eyes. Finally, she seemed to relax a little.

"You sure you don't want to kill me?" she said. There was a tiny hint of levity in her voice. "It sounds like a goddamn relief."

Alucard shrugged. "No sport if m-my prey can't fight back."

Sypha narrowed her eyes at him, puzzling out if he was serious. Alucard couldn't help it. His lip twitched. It was hard to be afraid of her glares when she looked like a disgruntled kitten.

Sypha managed a few sips of tea and then set it aside. She sighed. She settled back onto the pillows and closed her eyes.

In spite of all her protests and all her anxiety, her breathing turned slow and even within a few minutes. She fell asleep. What must that feel like- to simply be able to slip into oblivion and let the mind rest?

Alucard shook his head. He might envy humans that, but right now, he was damned grateful he couldn't get sick.


 

(present)


When Erica finally brought him back to her bedroom, his heart betrayed him. He was flushed and overwhelmed before she stripped on top of him. She pressed her breasts to his face and Alucard could feel her pulse in her skin. He groaned and leaned back.

"G-gag."

"Oh," Erica said. She looked down at him. He closed his eyes in case they were red.

"Tote bag," Alucard said.

"In there? Of course."

Alucard heard her leave to grab it. He ground his teeth. He wanted to just be able to play. But he couldn't. Sypha's rules existed for a reason.

 

Erica rose with a last gasp, as though her body was breaking the surface of an orgasm. She gripped Alucard's shoulders as the shaking turned into a long, contented shiver. She leaned back and sat on Alucard's chest.

"Good boy."

Alucard was still gagged. But he gave her a thumbs up.

Erica chuckled. She reached down and unlocked the gag. "How can I help you?" she asked.

Alucard spat the gag out. "Don't need you to- uhhh-"

"What's that?" Erica said. She'd pushed her body down until her wet and throbbing folds had brushed his head. She did it again, and Alucard bucked under her, overwhelmed and pinned.

Alucard took a deep breath. "Gave me. So much. Already."

Erica smiled. "So have you." She siddled back, until Alucard's erection was firmly between her legs.

Alucard groaned. "I can't- could you-? Hands, please?"

Erica's laugh was knowing, not mocking. They'd talked about limits. She brought a hand back. She pumped his cock once, twice, as though she was testing it. She started to stroke.

Alucard moaned. He tilted his head back. The touch was nice. It was infuriating. Alucard ran his hands up Erica's sides. He felt her pulse, the warmth of her skin, the strong flutter of her nerves at they settled. She was alive, entrancing, lovely. Her hand sped up. Her fingers brushed the sensitive underside of his head before she worked her way back to the base, playing with his shaft.

Her other hand worked down. She reached his ass and explored between his cheeks. Alucard closed his eyes. Pressure built around his stomach. It threatened to boil up his chest, towards his throat and mouth and lips. That was dangerous. He swallowed.

"Huh," Erica said. She brushed the silicon plug with one finger. It sent a small tremor up Alucard's body. She paused. She simply held Alucard's cock for a moment. "A little gift from Sypha?"

Alucard shook his head. "T-Trevor." The plug had been his idea.

"Is it alright if I take it out?" Erica said, "I've been told you make some really cute noises when you're fucked."

"P-p-please," Alucard said. He shuddered. He rutted into Erica's still hand, pent up and wanting.

Erica pulled the plug loose. Alucard panted. He suddenly felt empty. But Erica seemed to have every intention of fixing that. She put the plug on Alucard's stomach. Her hand returned to his ass and she pressed a finger to his opening.

"Are you ready?" Erica asked.

Alucard gulped and nodded.

Erica grinned. She jammed her finger inside him and returned to stroking his cock. Alucard whimpered and squirmed, sinking himself onto her finger. She brushed the throbbing nerves just inside him. Alucard leaked pre-cum onto her hand. He whined.

"Is that the spot then?"

Alucard's yes melted into a long moan as she rubbed her finger onto his p-spot. He arched his back, twitching and starting to break. The plug rolled off his chest and onto the mattress.

Erica milked his cock until it gave, spilling onto his stomach. Alucard gasped and sank back, shivering. Erica eased her fingers out of him as he dribbled.

"Good noises," she said.

Alucard purred.

Erica pushed herself off the bed. She swayed on the spot for a moment. She gave herself a small shake. "I'll, uhh, get you something to clean up with." She stepped through the door.

After a moment, she returned. She paused in the doorway, looking down at him. Alucard gulped. What did she see? Were his eyes still red? Had she started to notice how slowly he breathed?

Erica shook her head. "You are ridiculously cute." She offered him a tissue.

Alucard stuck out his tongue at her. He felt tingly and soft. He didn't want to speak, or even to move. He wiped his stomach clean and laid back.

Erica slipped on a pair of underwear and moved from the closet back to the bed. She settled beside him.

"M-may I?" Alucard asked. He leaned into her.

"Of course," Erica said. She pressed Alucard to her chest. She ran a finger through his hair. "How are you?"

"Nice," Alucard murmured. He nestled his forehead between her breasts. It was a pleasant position.

"You're still cold," Erica said. She tugged the blankets up over them.

Alucard nodded. He was always cold.

"I'll get you home soon," Erica said.

Alucard sighed. He sank further into Erica's chest. He pressed his hands to her sides. "No, no rush."

"Is it nice to be away for a little while?" Erica asked. She slowly worked through a knot in his hair.

Alucard raised his head. He propped his chin on her chest and chewed on his lip, considering. "I care a-about them. I love Trevor. But- it's complicated."

Erica looked down at him. "Because of Sypha?"

"Yes. No," Alucard said, "I h-have no power."

Erica put a hand on his shoulders and traced the line of his shoulder blades. "How do you mean?"

"It- it's Trevor's birthday tomorrow. And I h-have nothing for him."

"What?" Erica said. She started to laugh. Then she saw Alucard's expression. She turned sympathetic. She patted his head. "You want to surprise him? Is that it?"

Alucard nodded.

"I might have something for you. If you want."

Alucard raised an eyebrow. "S-something?"

"Let me show you."

 


 

(past)


Alucard heard Sypha stir. She shifted slightly. Her heart rate spiked, and then settled again. He didn't look up. He stayed sitting in the chair beside the sofa, poring over his workbook. He'd been neglecting it lately in favor of reading.

"What are you doing?" Sypha asked.

Alucard tapped his pencil to the paper. "Wr-writing?"

"Can I see?"

Alucard raised an eyebrow at her. "Supposed to rest."

"I just did," Sypha said. She extended a hand, reaching for the workbook.

"You slept for, for maybe t-ten minutes."

Sypha rolled her eyes. "Please, Alucard? Can I see?"

"Fine," Alucard said. He handed it over.

Sypha flipped through the workbook. Her eyes widened. "Dear god. This is a kids book."

"Yes?" Alucard said. He bristled slightly.

"Trevor, why would you-" Sypha said. She shook her head and handed the book back to him. A stray paper slipped from between the sheets. "No. There have to be better resources out there than that. One minute."

She produced her phone, seemingly out of nowhere, and started to type.

"Sypha?"

Sypha pursed her lips and squinted at the screen. "Okay. Here. There are three books at the library that are meant for adults. I'll put a hold on them."

Then she paused. She looked up at Alucard. "Is it okay, if I put a hold on them? You aren't a child. No need to learn like one."

"Sure," Alucard said. He shrugged. "Now p-please rest."

"Fine," Sypha said. She held up both hands in surrender and leaned back. Something crinkled under her. Her brow furrowed. "What is- oh."

Sypha pulled a partially folded piece of paper out from under her. Alucard gulped. He recognized the carefully sketched circle on the page. He braced himself for her anger.

She uncreased the page and traced a symbol at the edge of the circle. She blinked. "Did you draw this?" she asked.

Alucard winced. "Yes?"

"Huh. I've never seen some of these before. But this--" she tapped at a symbol that looked like a star burst, "Is the symbol for light, right?"

"Divine light."

Sypha puzzled through the symbols one at a time. "Why the evil eye?" she asked, indicating a stylized, slit pupiled circle in one corner.

"There are s-some things that precede C-Christians. That still h-have power."

"Pagan symbols then?" Sypha asked.

Alucard shrugged. "Old ways."

Sypha stifled a cough. She studied the circle for another moment, leaving Alucard to knead his hands together. He was still waiting for her to realize what he'd done and be furious.

"This is a holy circle, then? Like I was trying to build?"

Alucard nodded.

"It's nothing like what I've seen before. But, it looks like it would work. Better than mine, anyway."

"Don't think it- it could protect a t-town, but-"

"I'd like to draw it out," Sypha said, "You know, once I'm," she waived vaguely at her stomach.

"Not dying?"

She shook her head. "I'm not dying exactly. Just miserable."

She returned to the circle and pointed to a particular symbol. "What is this one? Purity?"

"Not quite," Alucard said. He cleared his throat. "Chastity."

Sypha blinked. Then she threw her head back and cackled. "Really? Does that make a difference?"

Alucard winced. "It's-- anathema. To demons. Vampires."

"Ah. The great, holy power of virgins. I'll have to tell Trevor."

Chapter Text

(past)

"Must be fucking nice to not get sick."

Alucard looked down at Trevor. His lip twitched. "It is, actually."

"Smug bastard," Trevor said. He glared up at him. Then he held onto his stomach and leaned back onto the sofa. "Fuck. Haven't felt this bad since I quit drinking."

"Can I help?" Alucard asked, "Need s-something to eat?"

Trevor shook his head. "I won't keep anything down. And also, just cause Sypha taught you how to use the microwave doesn't mean I'm letting you make me food. You don't eat. That's weird."

"Some tea?"

"Tea would be good," Trevor admitted.

Alucard stood. He crossed to the kitchen and filled the kettle.

"You're, uhh, doing good, by the way."

Alucard paused in the act of pulling a mug out of the cupboard. He leaned out so he could see Trevor. He raised an eyebrow. "Doing good?"

"With Sypha. Chatting with her about the magic stuff. Helping out around the house."

"I'm only h-helping out because she's never home and you," Alucard jabbed a finger at Trevor for emphasis, "Won't lay down i-if there's dishes in the sink."

"Can't let the food cake on," Trevor grumbled.

Alucard shook his head. He prepared the tea and leaned on the kitchen counter, taking stock. Sypha was back at work. She hadn't vomited since the first day, and had informed them both that she was no longer contagious. She had mentioned wanting to draw out Alucard's holy circle over the weekend. Despite her worrying, she'd been able to work on Christmas day.

When Trevor had started feeling nauseous, Sypha had gone out, grabbed more tea and tissues, and left him in Alucard's care. Apparently, she trusted that he wasn't going to kill him out of malice. Alucard was more worried about his lack of knowledge. What if the tea was too hot, or Trevor needed more blankets?

"You can stop fussing," Trevor told him. He accepted the mug of tea and set it on the table. "I'll be fine."

Alucard gulped. "Looks miserable."

"Well, yeah. But Sypha bounced back in a few days. Gimme a bit and I'll be-- just as irritating as you remember."

"You sure?"

"Yes. Alucard, I swear I'm not dying."

Alucard knelt beside the sofa and made a show of smoothing the blanket out on top of Trevor. It helped to have something to do. Anything that he could do to make himself feel less powerless in this. He shivered. "I mean, you are. D-dying. Eventually."

"Maybe," Trevor said. He yawned. "But not today. And it's not, you know, super pleasant to be reminded of that."

"I know."

"Hey. Hey, don't go all glassy eyed on me. I'm here," Trevor said. He reached out his hand and clumsily wrapped it around Alucard's shoulder. He pressed Alucard to him. "You've been taking good care of me. I appreciate it."

Alucard went completely still. The blanket Trevor was pushing his face into was not pleasant. It smelled like the sweat of two feverish humans. Under that, the proximity to Trevor's body called to the imp within him. He was warm- far too warm, burning and entrancing and so damn tempting.

"Wait. Shit," Trevor said. He released Alucard.

Alucard pulled himself back up with a gasp. "D-don't do that again."

"Sorry. I just- it's stupid," Trevor said. He forced himself upright and cleared his lungs. "You look so fucking sad sometimes."

"What do you--?" Alucard started.

"You go all still and you stare off into nothing like, I dunno, like you're seeing ghosts, or the end of the world or maybe you're stoned. You look broken."

Alucard snorted. "So you k-keep touching me?"

"I dunno. It seems to snap you out of it," Trevor said, "And I, uhh, like touching you."

"That's inf-furiating," Alucard said.

"Is it?" Trevor asked. He slumped back and put a hand over his eyes. "Shit. I'm sorry. I don't mean to bother you. I really don't. I'm a fucking nuisance."

"No you're not. I-I just wish-"

"Yeah? What is it?"

Alucard shook his head. "Nevermind. I sh-shouldn't."

"Alucard? What do you wish?" Trevor asked.

Alucard wrapped his arms around himself. He spoke to the floor. "Wish I could t-touch you back."

"Why can't you?"

Alucard jerked his head up and stared at him. "You flinched wh-when I touched your hand."

"Did I? When?" Trevor asked. His brow furrowed.

"After th-the fang thing. That night when you said- when you said you liked me too," Alucard said. He squeezed his arms around himself more tightly. "I touched you and you gr-grimaced and pulled away and since then we, we haven't even talked about it."

"Oh," Trevor said. He blinked. He let out a small laugh. "Oh shit. I had no idea. Have you just been stewing in this? Since then?"

"Stewing?" Alucard asked. He raised an eyebrow.

"Holding it in your mind. Letting it fuck with you. Look, bat boy. Come here," Trevor said. He waived Alucard back to the couch.

Alucard returned to his side a little wearily.

"Okay, here's the deal," Trevor said. He laid back and put his hands over his head. "Go ahead. I'm real and I'm here. Touch me."

Alucard gulped. "You sure?"

"Just, uhh, don't touch my stomach. I will puke on you."

Alucard shuddered at the thought. "Don't worry. I- I won't."

The threat of bile aside, Alucard extended a hand. An old memory trawled up, a voice he hadn't heard since he was a child. There was his mother, schooling him on etiquette, informing him of how he should touch a lady; gently kissing her hand, perhaps a steady arm around her waist to dance. That was a world and a gender way. Alucard didn't know what rules still applied. Probably very few of them now.

He settled on something that felt safe. He leaned in and ran a finger over the back of Trevor's hand. He took a deep breath and felt his knuckles, the tender structure of his finger bones. He traced the dorsal vein on Trevor's hand back towards the wrist.

Trevor tilted his head up. He smirked. "How modest."

"Not dirty enough f-for you?" Alucard asked. He raised his other arm into view. "I could certainly t-touch you elsewhere."

"Could you? You ever done stuff with guys before?"

Alucard raised an eyebrow. "E-excuse me? I slept w-with you."

"What?" Trevor said. He forced himself upright and stared. Then he smacked his forehead and fell back onto the sofa. "The old Trevor you mean? You two fucked?"

"Yes?" Alucard said. He squeezed Trevor's hand. "Of c-course we did. Thought I told you."

"I mean, you said you bit him. I dunno, kinda figured that was what you guys did instead." He shrugged.

"Really? That we w-would've just d-done that? He would-would've gone mad."

"What about you?"

"Me?" Alucard asked. He returned his hand to Trevor's wrist and idly moved down his forearm. His muscle definition was lovely there, just strained slightly to keep his arms up above his head.

"Uhhh- yeah. Shit. I'll ask. Did you enjoy fucking him?"

Alucard grinned. "Yes, actually."

"Heh. So you do have normal desires, under all the bloodlust and shit," Trevor said. He closed his eyes. "That's something. Dear god though. What was it like to fuck men in the 15th century? Didn't they burn people for that? Where the fuck did you get lube?"

"There were-- many other reasons. I would've b-been burned," Alucard said.

"Fair enough, I guess."

"What is lube?"

Trevor brought his head back and laughed until he was wheezing. "Oh you poor thing."

 

Trevor recovered after the first day. His fever broke overnight, and by morning, he was up, ushering Alucard out of the kitchen and cooking himself what was, in his words, a proper fucking breakfast.

Alucard shook his head. He moved to the counter and leaned against it. There was something strangely reassuring about seeing Trevor back on his feet and furiously whisking eggs.

He was alive. He was real, right now in this moment. And he had let Alucard touch him.

"Sypha said you sh-should still be resting," Alucard said.

Trevor paused with the whisk in hand. "Sypha is a bloody hypocrite who barely took three days off. But, no. I'm not gonna go to the gym or anything. Just wanted to catch up on some stuff."

"May I help?"

"Just this once," Trevor said, "I could really use laundry help, actually."

After breakfast, they headed to the basement together. It felt ridiculously inefficient. Alucard carried the stuffed laundry basket to the top of the steps. He set it aside and let Trevor carry him over the steps.

It had been a while since he'd been in the basement. It was colder than he remembered. Trevor set him on the steps with a muttered apology. He brought over the laundry basket. A sock rolled down the stairs.

Trevor sat on the steps beside him and caught his breath. Alucard recovered before he did. He took the laundry basket from Trevor's hands and carried it the rest of the way down. He sorted clothes from linens.

Trevor picked up the sock that had fallen and joined him. "Here," he said. He tossed the sock into the pile of undergarments Alucard had started. Alucard shook his head. Socks were confusing. Most needed to be sanitized at high heat. But Trevor had warned him that wool socks should be washed in cold water and air dried.

He heard Trevor shiver. He looked over and saw his breath form mist in the air. Alucard shook his head. "I can d-do this. Go back upstairs."

"And leave you to wash Sypha's bras? She'd whip me."

Alucard looked at him over the laundry basket. He wasn't sure if Trevor was being serious, and his small smile gave away nothing.

"Y-you're sick, and it's too, too cold."

"Maybe. But, I dunno. Doesn't feel great, leaving you down here alone again."

"Not so bad now," Alucard said. He pointed back at the wall. "You took d-down the chains."

Trevor snorted. "Really brings the space together, huh?"

Alucard chuckled. He loaded linens into the washer and poured in detergent.

"Set it to cottons," Trevor said.

Alucard nodded. He realized he could sound out the words around the dial now. He started the wash and looked back at Trevor. He should have grabbed him a coat before they'd headed downstairs. Coats worked better for humans, who had internal body heat. He was shivering. "L-let's go back upstairs. You should warm up. A-and rest."

"Right," Trevor said. He stood up. Alucard heard his pulse falter. He staggered backwards.

Alucard ran forward. He got a hand around Trevor's waist and steadied him. He draped Trevor's arm over his shoulder.

"Shit," Trevor said. He looked over. "I, uhh-"

Alucard wrinkled his nose at him. "You overdid it."

"Yeah, okay. Maybe I did."

Alucard looked wearily up the steps. He gripped Trevor tightly, and started them one stair at a time. After what seemed like an eternity, Trevor finally reached the landing. He dragged Alucard through the barrier. They both slumped into the hallway.

"Shit," Trevor said, "That was-- cold."

Alucard gritted his teeth. He wasn't strong enough to carry him. That was maddening. Alucard used to be able to toss Trevor, the old Trevor, into his arms. And Trevor had hated it- being lifted up and carried around like, as he had called it, a sack of fucking grain.

Instead, Alucard draped him over his shoulder again. Trevor nodded his head against him. Alucard gritted his teeth. He got his feet under him, got his arm under Trevor's armpit and pulled.

For a moment, the momentum carried Trevor forward. He held onto Alucard's shoulder and tried to get his feet under him. Alucard reached over. He offered his other hand. It wasn't that Trevor was heavier than expected. But Alucard had overestimated how much weight he could hold. Instead of steadying Trevor, his momentum overwhelmed both of them.

Alucard fell hard onto his back. Trevor landed on top of him. Alucard caught and cradled his head.

"Fuck," Trevor said. Alucard saw clammy sweat beading on his forehead. He put a hand over his mouth. He shuddered and closed his eyes.

"P-please don't vomit on me," Alucard said.

"Believe me bat boy. I'd prefer not to. Stop jolting me around."

"Thought I c-could carry you. I used to be, be strong enough."

Trevor swallowed. He put a hand over his stomach and took a deep breath. "Okay. Not gonna puke. Cool. Let's-- let's do this together."

Alucard helped him to his feet and they staggered into the living room arm in arm. It was ridiculous. Alucard was stronger than this- he had been stronger than this. Finally, he set Trevor down on the sofa.

He stepped back. He'd go to the kitchen and start some tea. He started to walk away, and Trevor grabbed his wrist.

"Wait," Trevor said.

"Gonna make you tea," Alucard said. He half-turned.

Trevor shook his head. "You're freezing cold again. And I can't get your electric blanket. Let me, umm, let me warm you up."

Alucard raised an eyebrow. "Warm me? How?"

Trevor's face went red. He patted the sofa next to him.

And Alucard, who was cold, and weak, and wanted, accepted that dangerous offer. Trevor laid down, and Alucard pressed himself to his body with a shiver. Trevor spread the throw blanket over both of them.

"Here. Is it okay if I-- if my hands go here?" Trevor asked. He wrapped an arm around Alucard's chest.

A small whimper escaped from Alucard's lips. Trevor's hand rested on his stomach. He felt radiant.

"I meant it, you know."

"Meant what?" Alucard asked. He couldn't see Trevor, but he heard something strange in his voice. He wished that he could shift his head back. This was better, though. Safer, if Alucard kept his mouth facing the other way.

"I like you. A lot. And I wish that this wasn't-- I wish Sypha and I hadn't, you know. Hurt you. This would be easier."

He sighed into Alucard's knape.

Alucard shrugged. "I don't know h-how else I would have met you." Without killing him. But he didn't want to think about that.

"I guess that's something. I'm glad I, uhh, met you too. Even if this is all kinda fucked up."

Alucard wiggled back and pressed himself into Trevor's chest. "M-me too."

 


 

(present)

Trevor opened the front door before Alucard reached it. He must have been waiting in the hall, listening. Alucard couldn't help it. He grinned.

Trevor blinked. He tilted his head up slightly. "Are you-- taller?"

He shook his head, scooped Alucard up and lifted him through the doorway.

The ward was more disorienting on the second pass. Alucard lost his balance, going limp and starting to fall backwards. Trevor caught his head just before it collided with the doorframe. The tote bag fell from Alucard's numb fingers.

Trevor shook his head. He carried Alucard through and closed the door behind them. He wrapped him into a hug. "I'm glad you're home. It was almost boring with you gone," he said, "No catastrophes."

Alucard rolled his eyes. "Y-you're okay? The kitchen-?"

"Is clean. We're good," Trevor said. He kissed Alucard's cheek. Then he leaned back again. "No, really. Have you grown? Is that possible?"

Alucard grinned at him. "I h-have small feet, apparently."

"You do?" Trevor said. He looked down. "Oh. Huh. Cute."

"Thanks," Alucard said. He took a cautious step in the heels Erica had provided him. They were only an inch high, and Alucard had a natural grace that helped him stay on his feet. On the other hand, the damned holy magic was still making him dizzy. He kept a hand on Trevor's shoulder to maintain his balance.

"She gave you shoes," Trevor said. He chuckled. "Shit. She's taking care of you better than we are."

"I-it was nice," Alucard admitted.

"That's good," Trevor said. He squeezed Alucard's waist and then let him go. He knelt and swept his clothes and the gag back into the fallen tote.

"T-trevor?" Alucard asked.

"Yeah?"

Alucard bent over. He put a hand on Trevor's shoulder and put his lips near his ear. "Can I s-show you something?"

It took a moment for Trevor to respond. He picked up Alucard's bag. Alucard heard his heart rate rise. He raised his head. "Bat boy?"

Alucard held up a slim finger and pointed down the hall to the living room. "Go sit down."

Trevor raised an eyebrow. "Alright." He did what he was told.

Alucard stayed in the hallway for a minute, feeling nerves and something entirely unfamiliar rattling in his stomach. He slipped off the heels and missed them already. They were sleek, black and shiny. He didn't have a black article of clothing in the wardrobe Trevor, and Sypha, had provided for him. It was too vampiric, Sypha had said.

Alucard smirked. Well, he had a few lovely pieces now. He remembered what Erica had said. "Do you like them?" When Alucard had nodded, she chuckled. "Then you can keep them."

Alucard adjusted the straps on his shoulders. He strode into the living room, already unzipping his jacket. Trevor sat on the sofa, and turned his head to follow Alucard's progress. Alucard grinned. He tossed the jacket onto Trevor's lap.

"Are you putting on a show for me?" Trevor said.

"M-maybe," Alucard said. He slowly tugged off his shirt. He set it on the sofa and leaned in over Trevor, showing off the sheer lace bra he was wearing underneath.

Trevor gulped. He looked up at him. "Oh shit."

Alucard had missed this. What was the point of immortality if you couldn't adorn your body like the monument it was? Modern fashion distressed him. Men dressed for utility. He missed the flounces and long overcoats, the hints of gold at the cuff and collar.

He hadn't found that, exactly. But Erica had offered him a set of black lace lingerie. It was a sufficient substitute.

Trevor's mouth fell open. He reached for Alucard's chest.

"Naughty," Alucard said. He brushed Trevor's hand away. He leaned back and put a hand on his hip. "H-haven't even shown you. Best part."

Trevor whined. But he let his hand fall back as Alucard pulled off his pants.

The sheer black stockings went up to his mid-thighs and ended in intricate bands of lace. They barely fit Alucard's slim legs, and would have slipped down, except Erica had helped hook them in place with a set of garters. They'd even found a pair of black panties to go over the garters.

"Garters always go underneath underwear," Erica had told him. She'd winked. "You know. So you don't have to take off everything for-- access."

Alucard stepped back, out of his pants. He traced over his body with one hand, enjoying the soft feel of lace and silk. He knew it was all made of polyester, essentially plastic, but the material still felt lovely on his skin. He bit his lip, tilted back his head, and ran a hand through his hair to pull it out of his face.

"Well?" Alucard asked, "What, what do you think?"

"God, you're--" Trevor started. He winced and put a hand to his crotch. "Fuck."

Alucard smirked. Normally he'd feel bad for causing Trevor pain. But having him sprawled out and aroused underneath him had awakened some old instincts in Alucard. It wasn't the imp. He'd placated his thirst, insofar as he could. This was Alucard's predatory side in isolation, wanting. He wanted to bask in this sensation of being adored and powerful.

And then the only thing that could shatter Alucard's confidence padded softly up the hall.

"You two having fun?"

Alucard gulped. Suddenly, he wished he'd kept his clothes on.

"Sypha. You gotta fucking see this," Trevor said.

Chapter Text

(past)

It started that day, in Trevor's arms. Trevor warmed up, and the heat from his body washed into Alucard's. It melted Alucard's insides. He sighed and closed his eyes. Something twisted in his stomach, just below where Trevor was holding him. He had never felt something simultaneously so vampiric and so human.

He wanted Trevor. Wanted to melt into him. Wanted to have him and hold him. He wanted to rip him open. He wanted his blood, his heat, his warmth, the smell of his body and the entrancing melody of his pulse. Alucard shivered. It was far too much, now that this had melted and was boiling in him. He wanted him. He was afraid to move.

Apparently Trevor had no such qualms. He traced the curvature of Alucard's chest, and then inched his hand to his side. Alucard whimpered. He wanted direct contact with Trevor's skin. He wanted him to slip his hand under his shirt. He wanted so many dangerous things, of which this was the smallest and most innocent.

"You're-- nice," Trevor said.

"Nice?" Alucard started, "What do you--?"

Trevor squeezed Alucard's side. "And still cold."

"That's a good thing?" Alucard asked. He twisted his head just enough for him to raise an eyebrow at Trevor.

Trevor nodded. "I'm a fucking furnace. Especially when I'm sick."

Trevor brushed his lips to the back of Alucard's neck and whatever he was going to say in response was lost. Alucard shivered. How would it feel to twist around just a tiny bit further and catch Trevor's lips in his?

"T-T-Trevor," Alucard whined. He closed his eyes and pushed his ass down to Trevor's crotch.

Trevor winced. He recoiled, sliding his body away from Alucard. "Sorry. Not there."

"Oh," Alucard said, "Of course." He forced himself to go still even though something in his stomach was still popping and hissing and boiling. This wasn't his Trevor. He still wasn't.

"Wanna, umm, watch a movie? I found Night of the Living Dead."

Alucard nodded. He felt Trevor reach up over him to grab the laptop. He tried to forget the shock that had gone through his body when he'd brushed into Trevor's crotch. He'd felt something hard, impossibly stiff, between Trevor's legs.

This was confusing. Alucard didn't claim to understand humans, but he thought he'd understood this one.

 

Alucard fell back into this same trap, feeling like he couldn't touch Trevor- that he had to just wait, desperately, for Trevor to touch him. It would have been one thing if they'd simply gone back to square one; Trevor guilty, Alucard confused. But Trevor made no pretense of keeping his distance this time.

He was gentler with Alucard when he brought him through the holy wards now. He cradled him in his arms and placed him on the couch or a chair instead of leaving him on the floor to recover. He let Alucard help with the dishes and cleaning, and needled him with small touches on his hands and shoulders and the small of his back as they worked.

Alucard was losing his mind. He'd lay in bed at night with the electric blanket off, staring up at the plaster ceiling, feeling feverish with frustration.

He wanted Trevor. And he couldn't figure out which way he wanted him. Which was terrifying.

Ironically, things with Sypha were going better- better even than Alucard had thought possible. For her last two periods, she had given him her tampons herself. Somehow, she was finally starting to trust him. He sighed.

She had brought him new books. Alucard wasn't sure if he was learning at a better or faster pace from a book designed for adults- the modern preoccupation with things like cell phones, driving and ordering food had been less pronounced in the workbooks for children. But these resources were bearable. Alucard spent less time rolling his eyes and feeling like an absolute fool.

Sypha had framed taking over the language teaching as an exchange. She helped Alucard with the reading and writing, and Alucard taught her magic. Alucard had expected such lessons to be unbearably uncomfortable. Sypha surprised him though. She was technical and colorless in her instruction, and accepted his knowledge without comment.

It helped that the lessons were infrequent. It was February now and Sypha had barely had time for three exchanges. Her work at the hospital consumed her life. When she got home, all she wanted to do was recover. She spent most of her days off with Trevor. They still hadn't drawn up the holy circle Alucard had drafted.

Sypha sighed as she came in the door one evening. She kicked off her shoes, dropped her coat and purse in a heap by the door, and fell onto the sofa.

"Sypha?" Trevor asked.

"Mmrph," Sypha said.

Trevor looked over. "Tough day?"

"It's this damn flu. We're getting eight new pneumonia cases every day; immunocompromised folks and the elderly."

Trevor looked over at Alucard. He shrugged. "That, uhh, sounds rough, babe."

"People are sick," Sypha said. She raised her head and glared at him. "And I'm working 24 hour shifts for two weeks."

"Oh. Oh fuck," Trevor said.

Alucard shook his head. He focused on the dishes he was putting away. The evening settled into a routine he was becoming familiar with. Trevor started dinner.

No, Sypha was fine. She was cold without being hostile, and so busy that she barely factored into Alucard's daily life. He didn't mind her. For the most part, he didn't think about her. In the long and empty nights, he thought about Trevor.

How could he have Trevor? How could he bear to lose him again? How could he let these days trickle past, becoming weeks and months, when he knew how finite time was for mortals?

 

It was the strangest thing that did it. Sypha had left to start her first long shift the following morning. The door closed. Trevor stepped back to the hallway. He rapped on Alucard's door.

Alucard set a book aside. He tilted his head, considering the noise. This was more formal than Trevor had been lately. Normally, he gave a quick tap on the door and opened it. It was easier for Trevor to open the door- he didn't run the risk of getting his hand stuck.

"Trev?" Alucard asked. He reached forward, mindful of the buzzing in his fingers. He opened the door carefully.

"Hey. I uhh--" Trevor started. He took a deep breath and shook out his shoulders. He swiped angrily at one of his eyes and Alucard noticed that they were slightly red and puffy.

"Are you-?" Alucard asked.

"I'm fucking fine," Trevor said.

That was so familiar, Alucard felt a lump form in his throat. There was Trevor denying everything he felt, everything soft in him, as though Alucard couldn't hear the pulsing warmth of his heart with every beat.

"Of course," Alucard said. He beckoned for Trevor.

Trevor stepped clumsily over the threshold. Alucard led him by the shoulders, sat him on the bed, and took a seat at the desk.

Trevor put his head in his hands. He took three deep breaths. "I really thought I could handle this."

"This?" Alucard asked. He raised an eyebrow. His slow heart gave a palpable beat. Did he mean them- him and Alucard? What was he about to hear? An admission? A rejection? Alucard pressed his fingers into the back of the chair.

"During her residence," Trevor said, "She worked these 24 hour shifts before. And it was-- fucking awful."

Alucard gulped down an absurd feeling of disappointment, a bitter taste in his mouth. He leaned forward. "Sypha?"

"Yeah. It nearly killed her," Trevor growled, "And I wasn't-- I let myself- I, ummm--"

"Trevor?" Alucard asked. He started to rise from the chair. Trevor curled further towards his knees. His pulse was roaring.

"I'm such a fucking- such a- fuck me," Trevor said. He shot upright, slammed a fist into the back wall, and then stood up. His face was red and he was breathing hard. "Fuck me. Fuck me."

Alucard leaned as far back in the chair as he could manage without falling over. Trevor was shaking. His breath sounded like a storm. He ran a hand through his hair and tugged. He wrapped his arms around himself and dug his nails into his shoulders.

Alucard blinked. For a moment, he didn't understand what he was seeing. And then he saw the deep red marks Trevor was making on his skin, the mixture of hurt and anger on his face, the combined smell of adrenaline and anguish radiating from him. Alucard's mouth watered, even as he pulled himself away from an incomprehensible display of self-hatred.

Alucard closed his eyes. He took a long breath, and let the exhale clear the smells from his lungs. He was thirsting for Trevor's pain. That was sick. That was exactly the kind of monster he would have hated becoming- that his mother would have hated to see him reduced to. That was the epitome of a vampire, something that lusted after the pain of others. He was better than that now. He had to be better than that now.

He'd comforted Trevor before. That had been easier, somehow. A simpler kind of sadness that had inspired the best in Alucard, instead of the worst. This was different. It would require his restraint. Alucard was learning that again.

Trevor didn't give him much time to compose himself. He sank forward, got to the floor, and started ramming his fists into the wooden boards.

"Stop," Alucard said. He swooped in over Trevor. He wrapped his arms around him. "P-please stop."

He tried to tug Trevor upright. Nothing happened. Alucard ground his teeth together and earned a spasm of pain for his trouble. He resisted the temptation to curse, shifted his knees to either side of Trevor and pushed again. The better angle worked. Trevor went slack in his hold. He got Trevor into a sitting position and squeezed him until his arms shook.

"Trevor, why?"

"I can't do this, without her," Trevor rasped.

"Of course you can."

"No," Trevor said. He ripped himself out of Alucard's hold and forced himself upright. "No I fucking can't. You don't get it. You think you know me, but you don't, okay? You don't fucking know me."

Alucard choked. He looked up at Trevor and in that moment he absolutely agreed. The man glaring down at him, panting like he'd finished a sprint, bore no resemblance to Trevor Belmont. His anger was hotter, something sour and rotting instead of bitter. It made him weak, where the original had insisted over and over that his rage made him stronger.

And Alucard couldn't understand where this anger was coming from. He felt like he'd been struck by sunlight during a rainstorm.

Trevor stood over him, breathing hard. Alucard hardly noticed that his pulse was settling out, but he saw the red glow fade from his face. Trevor's shoulders fell.

"I relapsed, the last time she was gone like this," Trevor said.

"Relapsed?" Alucard asked. He'd heard Trevor say the word before, but he'd forgotten the context.

Trevor closed his eyes. He gritted his teeth. "What do you think that means?"

Alucard gulped. "Drinking, again?"

"Yeah," Trevor said. His mouth twisted into a thin, bitter line. "That's it. She was gone a week, and all that resolve we'd worked so fucking hard on, all that willpower I thought I'd built up, those months spent getting clean, it evaporated like a goddamned puddle."

"You're a-afraid that'll happen again?"

"No. I'm fucking terrified," Trevor said, "I'm gonna fail her when she needs me the most. Again."

Alucard stared at him blankly. He had no idea what he was supposed to say. He felt like he'd just been given a window into something too private for him to give words to, like he had seen Trevor use the toilet. But he had to say something. He had to do something before Trevor hurtled himself back to the floor, because apparently he couldn't stop Trevor from hurting himself.

"You're very fit."

Trevor wrapped his arms around himself. "You don't know what you're-- wait, what did you say?"

"Your self r-restraint, I mean. Your willpower," Alucard said, "It's better, than it was."

Trevor's lip twitched. "What did you say about me?"

Alucard grimaced. "You said it was like a muscle. And your muscles are w-wonderful, so I thought--"

Trevor snorted.

"You're strong. That's what I meant," Alucard tried again. How had he managed to mangle his words this badly? "You're strong enough to do better. Certainly b-better than me."

"Maybe," Trevor said. He couldn't seem to stop a small smile from playing with the corners of his mouth. "But, what were you saying about my muscles?"

Alucard rolled his eyes. "I adore them, obviously, but-"

"Shit. Really?" Trevor asked.

Alucard blinked. He considered him- really made himself look at him. Some of the frantic, angry tension in his arms had loosened. He stood in the corner by the door, propped on the balls of his feet, looking like he could topple in either direction at the slightest provocation.

Alucard wasn't sure what he was about to dive into. But he put on whatever remained of his old confidence, the suave charm of the vampire prince he'd been before he'd become a traitor, an exile and a monster.

"Trevor, you are delectable," he said.

"Yeah?" Trevor asked. He stepped forward.

Alucard rose with as much dignity as he could manage. He shivered. "I want to do unspeakable things to you."

"Alright," Trevor said. He stepped close, close enough that Alucard could feel his warmth. His breath was growing heavier again. "But, like, in a person way? Or in a vampire way?"

Alucard sighed. "Both."

"Heh. Good enough," Trevor said. He wrapped an arm around Alucard's waist and pressed Alucard to him.

Alucard gasped. He fell into Trevor. He put his hands on Trevor's shoulders and tried for composure.

Trevor's breath was a warm torrent on his neck. Trevor kissed down from his adam's apple to the edge of his collarbone. Alucard clenched his jaw and forced himself to focus on his hands, instead of what he wanted to do with his mouth. He ran his fingers down Trevor's back. That led him away from the dangerous lure of his neck, and towards other exciting landscapes. Was he about to discover new, terrifying differences in this Trevor?

Was he cleaner? He certainly smelled it. Did he have the same, startling amount of hair?

Alucard was barely cogent. It took him three steps backwards to notice that Trevor was leading him towards the bed. Alucard held onto Trevor as he sank onto the mattress. He wanted him to come with. He wanted contact with Trevor's body even if everything else he wanted was mangled and dangerous.

Trevor leaned over him. He pressed his head to Alucard's chest and drew in a long breath. "Fuck, you're so-- is it okay if I--?" He asked. His hand moved down Alucard's side. He reached the hem of his shirt and slipped a finger under it. "Can I, umm-?"

Alucard couldn't help it. He laughed. "Strip me?"

Trevor winced. He closed his eyes and nodded into Alucard's chest.

"You've already seen me naked," Alucard said.

"I know," Trevor said. His voice came out slightly strained. Some of this was arousal. Alucard knew it. But some of it was also pain. "I know, I know, I know. But I don't want this to be-- like that was."

Alucard tilted his head. He considered him. "I want it."

"I should fucking hope so," Trevor growled.

"That enough?"

Trevor shook his head. "I don't-- I shouldn't be in charge here."

"Nor should I."

Trevor closed his eyes and gritted his teeth. "Dammit. I should just-"

"Take off your shirt."

Trevor's hands moved down instantly. He was half-way out of his t-shirt before he paused. He looked at Alucard through the head hole of the shirt. "No fucking fair."

Alucard grinned at him. "Go on."

Trevor shrugged his shirt off. He scowled. "Happy?"

"Yes," Alucard said absently. It was delicious seeing Trevor in his prime again. Bare chested, he was stocky, with a subtle ripple of muscle around his stomach. Decidedly less hair; just a bit of stubble around his belly button.

Alucard pulled off his shirt and put a hand on Trevor's chest. "You wanted equity, no?"

Trevor gulped. Alucard felt him shiver. "Damn," he managed. He stretched a hand forward, reaching for Alucard's stomach. He stopped. His brows were heavy. He dragged out a breath. "You're so- delicate."

Alucard chuckled. "I'm really not."

"But you look like something spun out of glass," Trevor said, "Like, like I shouldn't be allowed to touch you. Like you should be up in a museum somewhere and I should only get to see you during viewing hours."

"Museum? Like the Greeks had?"

Trevor shook his head. "I should be worshiping you. Literally. I should get on my knees and offer you my neck and-"

"Don't!"

Alucard grabbed Trevor's chin. He made him meet his eyes so he could see the red wildness he could suddenly feel in them. "Don't say that. Please. Don't ever- not unless- no. Don't ever give yourself to me like that."

A dreamy smile spread over Trevor's face. "You know, there are other ways to worship."

Alucard's grip went slack on his chin. "Wh-what do you-?"

"Let me show you," Trevor said. He slipped out of Alucard's loose hold and sank between his legs. He had Alucard's pants down with alarming speed.

Alucard groaned. He leaned back. This was definitely sacrilegious.

"Hey," Trevor said. His breath teased Alucard's cock through the thin fabric of his boxers. But he put a flat, steady hand on his chest. When Alucard looked down, he met Trevor's eyes. Trevor licked his lips. "Can I?"

Alucard nodded.

Trevor pushed himself between Alucard's legs. He hooked a hand under one of his knees for purchase. He pressed his lips to the bulge in Alucard's boxers.

Alucard's cock twitched. He groaned and brought his hands back to keep himself from falling over. It had been far too long for him to remember how he was supposed to handle this. He could feel something rattling in his chest.

Trevor used both hands to carefully slip off his boxers, tugging the waistband forward and down like someone who knew what he was doing. That made one of them.

"Oh," Trevor said. He chuckled.

"E-excuse me?" Alucard asked. He pushed his head back up and glared at Trevor, something like pride welling up among all of the other confusing, human responses he was still working to process.

Trevor looked up at him. He couldn't resist smiling. "You're very-- blond."

"Is that a bad thing?" Alucard demanded.

"It's fucking adorable is what it is," Trevor said. He cupped his balls in one hand and ran a finger over the fine halo of gold hair. "Gonna be honest. I wasn't sure you had hair anywhere."

"You ass," Alucard said. He swatted at Trevor's shoulder. "You saw all of me. What interest could this p-possibly hold for you?"

Trevor pressed his chin into the mattress and looked up at him. "I saw you in a dingy basement. This is a lot fucking nicer. And-- look. You're cute and I want to suck you off. Is that enough?"

Alucard shivered. "Y-yes."

"Cool," Trevor said. He licked his lips. He leaned forward, and then pulled Alucard towards him, getting into a proper position. It was so technical and deliberate that it felt like he was preparing to clean something.

And maybe he was. Alucard's cock throbbed. When had he last had the soft warmth of someone's mouth around him?

Trevor grinned up at him. He grabbed Alucard's shaft in one confident hand, dipped his head, and ran his tongue along the swollen underside of Alucard's head.

Alucard moaned. He was in an awkward position, slouching against the wall. And suddenly, he knew he couldn't move. The touch of Trevor's tongue was pure, molten bliss radiating out into his stomach and legs. Trevor held him firmly, playing with the curve of his head, tracing the chevron shaped edge.

Alucard groaned. "T-Trevor."

"Heh. Fine, I'll play nice," Trevor said. He adjusted his grip and started to stroke, grinding Alucard's shaft to his lips.

Alucard went limp. He could feel his blood pumping down to his cock as though his whole body was trying to sustain his excitement. A tingling started in his stomach.

Trevor responded by working harder, pumping Alucard's cock in quick, long strokes and lathering his head. Alucard shuddered. He felt himself leak a few drops onto Trevor's lips. He closed his eyes.

And then something went wrong.

It was the tingling in his stomach. Everything else was going down. His sensations, all of his focus churning between his legs. But an errant, itching, nagging urge fought the current. It clawed up Alucard's empty stomach, working towards his throat.

Alucard whimpered. He squeezed his eyes shut and willed himself to focus on the texture of Trevor's tongue, the feel of his calloused hand. But there were other things he couldn't deny- the wetness dripping from Trevor's mouth onto his shaft and Trevor's pulse rising as he increased his pace.

And as good as his mouth felt, how much more delicious would an artery be? Even just a vein, something small and spindly. Just an extra, pulsing taste.

The tingling thirst hit Alucard's throat and swelled in his mouth. His tongue ached. His mouth watered. Alucard wanted.

Trevor shifted. For a moment, he let Alucard go. The heat and pressure of his hand vanished. Then he took Aluard deep, bobbing his lips down his shaft and bringing his head into his mouth.

It was so devastatingly sweet, and he didn't know how to resist. It had been so long since he'd had to restrain himself. Hundreds of years of excess, of flowing blood, of madness, couldn't be staunched by a few months of self-control.

Alucard whimpered. As Trevor rose for breath, he lunged in. Because he had to have him. Because he'd given up on restraint so long ago and the longing itched and burned him.

If he'd still had fangs, that would have been the end of it. He went for the throat. His dull incisors sank into the lovely, pulsing softness of Trevor's neck. He felt the throbbing of his jugular. His skin gave under Alucard's teeth, rather than ripping.

Trevor moaned. He grabbed for Alucard's shoulders and shuddered. "Oh-- oh shit!"

Alucard snarled. He sank deeper and felt the flesh start to tear.

Trevor's hand moved less gently. He grabbed a fistful of Alucard's hair and jerked him back.

Alucard's eyes shot open. He felt red, throbbing want drain from his vision. He was forced to the wall. He clasped a hand over his mouth.

Trevor stared at him. He was panting. "You- that--"

Alucard put a second hand over his mouth. He shook his head into his hands.

Trevor blinked. He brought his fingers back to his neck. There was a white, half-circle mark just above his shoulder. A single red drop oozed onto his fingertips. He brought his hand in front of his eyes and rubbed his fingers together. Trevor's brow furrowed, as though he was surprised to see blood there.

"Fuck," Trevor said. He shook his other hand out of Alucard's hair. He staggered backwards and to his feet.

Alucard stared up at him. He gulped. Blood was dripping down onto Trevor's collarbone now. Alucard trembled. It was so close. He'd gotten so close. And to his horror, the imp was still pounding it's fists between his ribs.

"Crap," Trevor said. He pressed his hand to the wound. He ran out the door. Alucard heard him head down to the bathroom.

Alucard raised his head out of his hands. His fingers were shaking. He closed his eyes again. He fell to the side and sank his face into the pillow.

One moment of giving in had done it. He had done exactly what Sypha had been afraid of. He'd bitten. If he'd still had his fangs, that bite would have been deeper. It would have been fatal, with the vessels he'd gone for. And how much harder would it have been to come to his senses, fall back and clasp his hands over his mouth, if Trevor had been bleeding out? Would he have been strong enough to hold Alucard back?

No. If Trevor had leaned into that touch for even another moment, it would have gone too far.

What had he become? Alucard pressed himself further into the darkness of the pillow. Even now, when he felt like a more civilized version of himself, his thirst and his demons were still there. He was the same monster; still broken, still dangerous.

He'd hurt Trevor. For the second time, he'd tried to kill him.

Alucard hissed. He couldn't consider this. He couldn't process what this meant, let alone what he was supposed to do.

He shook the horrible weight off his shoulders. He dragged himself upright and realized his pants and underwear were bunched around his left foot. Otherwise, he was naked. He grimaced. He was a demon shaped like a person. He couldn't stand it. He tugged his clothes back on. He walked to his desk, slumped onto the chair, and opened a book at random. He stared at a page, unable to parse individual words from the blocky paragraphs.

He heard the bathroom door open again. The book fell from Alucard's hands.

Trevor's steps were even and light as he walked back down the hallway. He stopped, and Alucard knew that he was standing in the half-opened door into Alucard's room.

He couldn't turn to face him. He gulped. "You okay?"

"Yeah," Trevor said. He sounded tired.

Tension Alucard hadn't even felt in his shoulders and back suddenly eased. He slumped forward onto the desk.

"So, what the fuck was that?" Trevor asked.

Alucard rubbed his temples. "Lost control."

"Yeah. No shit. But, why? I've been that close to you before. Why'd you get all nibbly now?"

Alucard sighed. "It's not distance. Or contact. I got-- excited."

Trevor swore under his breath. "So it is a sex thing, for you. The blood drinking."

It wasn't a question. Alucard shivered and sank his head forward until it touched the table. "I- I'm sorry."

"Hey," Trevor said. He stepped into the room. "We needed to talk about this. I didn't think we'd, uhh, get here today. I never told you what my limits were."

"Don't kill you," Alucard said. He dragged himself upright. He turned around and grimaced. "That- that seems reasonable."

"You weren't going to kill me," Trevor said, "You didn't bite that hard. It's okay."

Alucard saw a bandage on Trevor's neck, and the small, dark brown stain seeping into the beige covering. He hissed. "It's not."

"Alucard?" Trevor asked. He stepped closer and brushed his shoulder.

"Don't touch me," Alucard said. He shrank from Trevor's touch. "Please just-- leave me alone."

Trevor gulped. "Okay."

He walked away, and quietly closed the door behind him.


(present) 

"I'm not sure I approve," Sypha said. She wrinkled her nose.

"Oh, come on. You've had no problem dressing me up in frilly, pink shit," Trevor said.

"You?" Alucard said. He tried to imagine Trevor in something soft and pink.

"Yup," Trevor said. He pouted. "And I looked like a bear in a tutu. While you look- just- fucking great."

"It's not about how he looks," Sypha said. Her eyes slid over Alucard, lingering a little on his thighs and ass. "You look great. You do. But, there are implications. Gendered implications. Cultural implications that you can't--"

Alucard folded his arms. He raised an eyebrow at Sypha and she trailed off. "Do- do you think we didn't have genders, back then?"

"Well, no. But it's different now."

Alucard took a step towards her. "It's- really not."

Sypha mumbled something that sounded like "Victorians". Alucard noticed that she couldn't quite keep her gaze level with his. Her eyes kept slipping down.

Alucard took another step. He let his hands relax, and frame his figure. "I'm sorry. Should I feel humiliated?"

He gave a small smile. He was almost in front of Sypha now. "Vulnerable?"

"Exposed?" he asked quietly. He reached Sypha and stretched out a hand, leaning on the wall beside her.

He heard her gulp. Alucard grinned. He dipped his head to her ear. "Helpless?"

"O-oh," Sypha said.

Alucard was very close to her. He took in a deep breath, enjoying the proximity. He could hear her pulse in her neck and throat. He put a hand under her chin and felt the warm cascade of her breathing as she gasped. He tilted her head up.

Alucard let out a soft growl. He inched his head forward and kissed her forehead.

Sypha stared up at him. "You're not allowed to--"

Alucard couldn't help it. He broke into another grin. "I'll be gentle with you." He gripped her chin and grazed his lips over her brows. He kissed her temple, and then licked a line down towards her jaw.

Sypha actually whimpered.

Alucard considered her. Her gaze was unfocused. Her arms were limp at her sides, but her shoulders were still tensed and twitching. She was nervous.

"I'll stop. If you ask," Alucard said.

Sypha nodded slightly. Alucard sighed. He brushed his lips to hers.

It had been too long. He pressed his body over hers and sank into the feeling. There it was, the boiling desire in his stomach, throat and jaw. Dangerous. And he knew he was in control of it because right now he was in control of everything.

Alucard opened his mouth. He pressed the soft inside of his lips to Sypha's and she responded with a small shiver. He held her body to the wall and her chin with his hand and sank his tongue into her mouth. The sensation satisfied. Alucard closed his eyes. He tasted Sypha's tongue.

He groaned. She was warm, pulsing, perfect, finite, and he wanted to split her open.

Sypha moaned, a questing, curious noise that echoed into Alucard's mouth. One of her hands found Alucard's chest. She traced down, past his stomach. She clumsily felt up his cock.

Alucard grunted and thrusted into her hand. He extended his tongue deep into her mouth and used his head to bob back and forth, enjoying the press of her lips. There were more carnal, and more human, ways of satisfying himself.

From behind him, someone whined.

Alucard withdrew his tongue. He rose reluctantly and looked back.

"Y-you fuckers," Trevor said. He clutched his crotch as though that would do anything to help his condition. His breathing was slightly ragged- a mix of pain and arousal, if Alucard had to guess.

"Poor puppy," Sypha said, "You didn't have to watch."

"Oh, but he does," Alucard said. He took Sypha's hand and brought her back so she was standing in front of the sofa. "How much worse would it be? If he only heard? And imagined?"

"Imagined what?" Sypha asked. She raised an eyebrow at him. She was in between right now- half the nervous, supplicant toy Alucard had just pinned to a wall, half the amused dom watching Trevor's self-inflicted suffering.

Alucard grinned. He stepped forward and came up behind Sypha. He pressed his hands to Sypha's shoulders.

"All the lovely ways I'm going to, to use you," Alucard breathed into her ear. He ran his hands down her arms to her wrists.

"Use me?" Sypha said. She leaned back and gave him a small smile. "How, exactly, when you can't-?"

"Oh, but I can," Alucard said. He gripped the sleeves of her shirt and pulled it off of her in one motion. He tossed it aside. He stepped closer, setting his chest flush against her back. Sypha moaned and leaned into him.

Trevor groaned.

Alucard purred. He brought his hands in and placed them around Sypha's stomach. She was plump and soft compared to Alucard's wiry frame or Trevor's musculature. The predatory instinct in Alucard's chest writhed and curled. He squeezed her stomach, and then worked his hands down to the zipper of her jeans. He undid them. Then he draped his head on Sypha's shoulder. He ran his cheek across her neck.

It was so close. Alucard moaned. He grazed his lips over the pulsing arteries; carotid, jugular, cervical. He knew exactly what it would feel like when that torrent broke out into his throat; the precise, specific way it would break him, enrapturing, intoxicating.

He stopped. He didn't know there was anything that could make him stop. But Trevor had whined; a small, plaintive noise. He was hurting. And Alucard was going to make it so much worse.

Alucard leaned back slightly. Sypha moaned and twisted her head. He wondered if he'd ever get to see her like this again, vulnerable and soft. He reached down and squeezed her ass. "Take these off."

Sypha slipped off her jeans. She grinned at him. "Like this mi-- sir?"

"Miss," Alucard said, "And, yes."

He swooped in over her, ran his hands down her sides and pulled down her underwear. Sypha shivered. Somewhere nearby, Trevor was panting. Alucard grinned, and pushed Sypha forward. She landed on top of Trevor. Alucard followed and pinned her down.

"Assholes," Trevor whimpered. His arms rose. He fumbled vaguely at Sypha's shoulders, reached one of Alucard's hands, and then hissed from pain. His arms gave out and he went limp under them.

"Puppy," Alucard said. He fell on top of both of them. They were warm and aroused. It was like sinking into a bath of hormones and wild pulses. He shuddered. He tapped one of Sypha's shoulders. "Roll over."

Sypha twisted herself around, and propped herself up on Trevor's chest. She tilted her head and bit her lip.

That look melted Alucard. He growled again, a soft noise in the base of his throat. He pulled his panties off.

"Miss?" Sypha asked. She raised one of her legs playfully.

"F-f-fuck," Trevor whimpered. Alucard agreed, although for different reasons. He could see one of Trevor's hands gripping the armrest. He imagined him pinned under Sypha, feeling every tremble and pulse and moan. Alucard remembered what that felt like.

Alucard sighed. He placed his arms on either side of Sypha's waist. He straddled both of them- Trevor's legs and throbbing, trapped cock just a few inches from Sypha's lips.

Trevor was going to feel every thrust. And when Alucard and Sypha were finally done, all of the come would drip onto Trevor's stomach.

Alucard pressed his tip to Sypha's lips and shuddered. She was wet, warm, waiting for him. He took a moment to appreciate how his ass brushed Trevor's cage.

Alucard gulped. He looked up and found Sypha watching him.

"Sypha?"

She nodded.

Alucard thrust into her.

Chapter Text

(past)

"No, no, by all means. Take your time," he heard Trevor say, "I just want to understand how this fucking happened."

Alucard's vision was more distorted than normal; pain and the holy ward had conspired together to put bright splotches in his vision. His head rolled off Trevor's arm. He felt like he was floating about half a meter left of his limp, sore body. He looked up at Trevor. He was red in the face and panting.

From somewhere very far away, Sypha sighed. Alucard realized she was following them back to the living room.

"Look, Trevor. I know this looks-- bad."

Trevor snorted. He shifted an arm so that he could cradle Alucard closer to his chest.

Alucard was set very carefully onto the sofa. Trevor placed a blanket on top of him. He must have noticed that Alucard was watching him, because he cleared his throat. "Hey there. You conscious?"

Alucard blinked up at him. He nodded. His vision was clearing. He could see Sypha, wide eyed, pale and hovering by the coffee table.

"Right," Trevor said. He stepped back and ran his fingers through his hair. "Just-- stay with me. Everyone please just stay put. For one minute."

Sypha held up her hands. "I'll go back to the bedroom."

"No. Nope. No you don't," Trevor said. He jabbed a finger at the living room chair. "Sit. Explain yourself."

Sypha gulped. She faced Trevor down for one moment. Then she relented, said "fine," and flopped onto the armchair.

"Trev?" Alucard said. His jaw was sore, not in comparison to everything else, but still sore. He felt his words come out soft and strange and strained.

"It's okay, bat boy. I'm not gonna let her--"

"This was my idea."

"Excuse me?" Trevor said.

"That's not fair," Sypha said, "This was my fault. I took it too far."

"You think?" Trevor said. He stood up, rounded on her and shouted. "You fucking think?"

Sypha gulped. "I can explain."

 

Barely an hour earlier, Alucard and Sypha were in the study. They had papers scattered between them; an alphabet of runes, a basic template for a magical circle. This was the first time Sypha had off in nine days, and the first time Alucard had let himself come out of his room in a week. It was nice to do something- anything- that got him out of his own head. He'd been reading a lot lately.

Alucard tapped his finger to the simple, empty diagram. "It's not about the circle. The intersections, that's where the power is. That's where you put the most important symbols."

Sypha wrinkled her nose. "So I have to rewrite everything. Is that what you're saying?"

"P-probably," Alucard said. He withdrew his hands and watched her nervously.

"Damn," Sypha said. She checked the time on her phone and then shook her head. "That's gonna be a job for later." She left a note at the bottom of the holy circle she'd been drawing out. She started to organize the papers on the desk.

Alucard turned his head towards the door. Trevor was at the gym. He'd been spending a lot of time out of the house, and when he was home, he was furiously cleaning, or scouring news reports and listening to police radio. He was itching for a hunt- for anything to do.

Alucard couldn't blame him for keeping his distance. He sighed. Usually, he would gratefully slip away after Sypha had adjourned their lessons. But he lingered, gnawing on his lip.

Sypha got her papers into a stack in the corner, looked up, and raised an eyebrow. "You're still here."

Alucard wrapped his arms around himself and considered her through the curtain of his hair. "I- there's something else."

"Dear god. Are you going to be the one to tell me what's wrong?" Sypha said.

Alucard gulped. "What do you mean?"

"Trevor won't say anything," Sypha said, "But you've been hiding in your room, and he's scaring me. Did you notice that he'd washed every window in the house?"

"Except for mine," Alucard said quietly.

Sypha paused for a moment. She took in a slow breath. "He's been wearing collared shirts all week."

Alucard winced.

"You bit him, didn't you?" Sypha said. She didn't sound angry, so much as bitter. She leaned back in her chair. It wasn't an accusation. But Alucard felt the words like a physical blow. He hunched forward, holding his stomach. He nodded.

Sypha sighed. "I knew this would happen." She returned to organizing the papers on the desk. She scribbled a note, folded it into quarters, and tucked it into her pocket. Alucard noticed that her fingers were shaking slightly.

The silence was unbearable. Alucard squeezed his eyes shut.

"Forbid it," he said finally, "Tell me I can't get near him. Order him not- not to touch me."

He felt Sypha watching him. She spoke with a kind of forced calm. "Is that what you want?"

"No," Alucard said. He gritted his teeth. "But- I hurt him. I can't f-for-"

"Forgive yourself?" Sypha asked.

He nodded.

"I already told you," Sypha said, "I can't stop you from getting close to him."

"But, if you ordered him not to-"

"No. That's not how it works. You should know that by now. I can't make Trevor do something unless he wants to. And, besides. I'm not going to be your willpower for you."

"B-but you were right. From the beginning. This has all, all been dangerous. I should be back in the basement."

"We're not doing that again," Sypha said.

Alucard lifted his head and stared at her. "So you won't help?"

"I didn't say that," Sypha said. She stood up. She walked over to one of the cardboard boxes against the wall. She pulled out a couple useless looking crystals, a folded cloth, and a jar of grey powder. "I have an idea. But you're going to hate it." She lifted a spindly piece of metal that gleamed silver out of the box. She offered it to him.

Alucard rose from the chair. He reached for the thing she offered. He held the strange, interconnected pieces of metal up. Then he recognized what he was holding. Alucard hissed and dropped the damn thing. It was a metal gag, designed to fit over the teeth and jaw, holding the mouth open.

Alucard backed away from it. "You took my teeth, with that."

"I took your teeth with pliers. This was just a tool to make you less dangerous," Sypha said, "It could still be useful now."

"Does it- does it have to be that?" Alucard asked.

"Of course not. We can try a couple."

"A couple?"

"Come. I'll show you what we have. We can see if anything will work."

Alucard gulped. He hated the sight of the gag. He hated the way it clinked in Sypha's hand as she picked it up. But he had to admit, she was right. Here was one damnable thing that might actually make him safer without consigning him to exile in a bedroom or basement.

"Okay," Alucard said. He watched Sypha walk back through the door, and then followed her wearily through the living room. He was so focused on the implications of Sypha having multiple gags that he hardly noticed where she was leading him. They got down the hall and past his room before Alucard realized where she was taking him. Sypha slipped into the bedroom. Her bedroom.

 

Alucard paused.

Sypha opened the door and was halfway through before she stopped and looked back. "You haven't been in here yet, have you?"

"No."

"Would you like to? May I lift you over?"

And Alucard should have said no. Because once she carried him through that holy ward, he would be stuck with her. He'd be disoriented and weak. But Alucard's curiosity overcame his common sense. He could just see a curtained window and a bookshelf through the half opened door. He wanted to see more. He nodded.

Sypha extended her arms. Then she paused and wrinkled her nose. "Turn around."

Alucard grimaced. He turned his back to Sypha. She put her arm around his chest and half lifted, half dragged him through the doorway. She left him sitting with his back propped on the wall.

Alucard slowly shook the paralysis from his limbs. He put a hand on his forehead and waited for the ringing in his ears and the glowing spots in his vision to fade. It felt like it took an age, with Sypha close by. But at last, the room came into view.

Bedrooms had changed little in 500 years. The beds had gotten softer, the linens cleaner, but the basic amenities had stayed the same. Whatever he had pictured in their bedroom, and Alucard had imagined strange amalgamations of sex toys and instruments of torture, there was nothing he spotted that suggested their lifestyle to him. The bed was large and luxurious. The nightstand next to it was sparse. A pile of laundry slumped out of the closet. The desk in the corner had the laptop, a mess of wires and a pair of socks on it.

Sypha shuffled through the closet. When she returned to Alucard, she had a bundled towel in her hands. She spread it out in front of him. "Okay. This is what I have," she said. She presented four gags.

Alucard leaned forward. He considered them. He recognized two- the gag Sypha had used to hold his mouth open, and the one Trevor had used to close his mouth around a silver bar. Alucard wrinkled his nose. They were both distasteful. But if his mouth was immobilized, that was some insurance that he wouldn't hurt Trevor again.

The other two looked far kinder- a plastic ring and ball respectively, designed to be fitted around his face and strapped in place. His jaw didn't ache at the mere idea of having one forced into his mouth. But if Alucard slipped up and fell into his most predatory instincts, would flimsy plastic be enough to stop him?

Alucard reached for the ring gag. He paused. He chewed his lip.

"What are you thinking?" Sypha asked.

Alucard raised his head. "Plastic can break."

"Well, yes. And you don't have a great track record, do you? You broke the last one."

Goosebumps formed on Alucard's arms. He shivered. "I bit you."

"You stopped yourself. Even that time, when you must have wanted to eat me alive," Sypha said quietly.

Alucard shook his head. "Only, only because I needed a hostage."

"So you can stop. You can make yourself when you need to. You have control."

Alucard's eyes widened. "B-but what if, just once, I don't?"

"Then we need to find one of these you can't break," Sypha said, almost gently. "Which one do you want to try first?"

Alucard picked up the ring gag. "This seems kinder."

Sypha's lip curled. "It is."

"Okay," Alucard said. He dipped his head. He fit the ring into his mouth easily enough, and brought the straps back. He fidgeted with them, trying to fit the strap through the buckle by feel. His hair tangled into the metal end. He hissed into the ring.

"Need help?" Sypha asked mildly.

Alucard fumbled with the straps for a moment. It only made the tangle worse. He sighed, and nodded.

Sypha reached back. She got Alucard's hair out of the buckle in three short, firm tugs. She shook her head. "How do you stand having it this long?"

Alucard shrugged. He spat out the gag. "How would I cut it?"

"We have scissors," Sypha said, "You're allowed to use them. Now open your mouth. Lets try this again."

She took the straps and used them to press the ring to Alucard's lips. Alucard bit into the ring. Sypha fastened the buckle at the back of his head.

"Can you get it off?" she asked.

Alucard brought his hands forward. Sypha tutted and grabbed his wrists. "Well of course you can do it like that. Nope. Hands behind your back."

Alucard sighed. He put his hands together behind him. He shivered. This was an interesting position he'd gotten himself into. He looked up at Sypha. Her cheeks were flushed. Her pulse was loud. She would have been irresistible if he wasn't gagged.

She enjoyed his helplessness. She wasn't alone. Alucard pressed his knees more tightly together.

Alucard closed his eyes and tried to focus. This was the point. He sunk his teeth into the plastic of the gag. It was sturdy. He clenched his jaw until it spasmed. The plastic held.

"Come on," Sypha said. Her voice was very close by. She leaned in over him. "You can do better than that."

Alucard shivered. He twisted his jaw and the ring shifted. He got his lower teeth loose, and was able to bite down with the ring in his mouth. He ground his molars into the strap.

"That's what I thought," Sypha said. She brushed her hand over the side of Alucard's face. She brought her hands back and loosened the buckle.

Alucard spat out the gag and nodded. "Won't work."

Sypha set the ring gag aside. She grimaced. "And it's not going to be like this, if you're with Trevor. When you're with him. Your going to be warmed up, and straining."

"I know."

"How are we supposed to simulate that?"

She was actually asking. For the first time, Sypha was asking him what he wanted to do, what he thought was best. That was a concession and an expression of trust he hadn't expected. Alucard gulped. He had a terrible idea.

"H-hurt me."

"What?"

Alucard chewed on his lip, considering her. She was blushing in earnest now. She'd leaned back, away from him.

"You want to, don't you?" Alucard said, "And if you really need me to squirm, well-" He shrugged.

Sypha shook her head. "We agreed no more torture."

"Then don't use magic. You won't be able to do d-damage."

Sypha shivered. Alucard could hear her steady and rising pulse. He had guessed right, even if she wouldn't say as much. She gulped. "You'll tell me, if it's too much?"

"Gagged," Alucard reminded her.

"Your hands, then? Just, reach forward if you need me to stop. If you want me to stop."

"Alright," Alucard said. A very strange kind of pride bloomed in his chest. He wasn't much right now, not strong or magical, and his understanding of this new, alien world was tenuous. Maybe he was a weak willed monster, and worse things besides. But he still had a resistant and enduring body. That was the one last thing he could place confidence in. She couldn't hurt him badly.

Sypha was going to put that to the test. She picked up the ball gag. She reached forward and placed a finger on Alucard's adams apple. She forced his chin up. She dangled the gag in front of his nose. "Bite."

This time, Alucard lunged in at the plastic. The simple movement was easy and instinctual. He sank his teeth around the ball.

Sypha jerked the straps back hard enough to force him to sit upright again. She pulled the strap through the buckle and cinched it until the leather bit into Alucard's cheeks. She leaned over him and put her mouth to his ear. "I'm going to hurt you until you break the gag. Do you understand? Nod if you understand."

Alucard nodded.

"Then let's begin." Sypha said. She traced her hand down from his scalp to the side of his face. The motion was slow and oddly mechanical, like Sypha was assessing him. Alucard shivered. She was looking for a place to start.

Alucard shifted his jaw from front to back. He had some mobility with this gag. It moved with him, staying behind his teeth.

Sypha traced down his jaw to the side of his neck. "Oh dear. Are you stuck already?" she asked. She dug her fingers into his skin.

Alucard groaned. The pressure and the small pricks of her nails didn't hurt exactly, but it was a tingling sensation. It warmed him up. His stomach clenched. He used his tongue and tried to push the gag out. The straps held.

"If I didn't know better, I'd think you were enjoying this," Sypha said. She used her other hand to press harder into the sides of his throat. Suddenly, Alucard could hear the slow thrumming of his own heart in his ears. "Do you, vampire? Do you like helplessness? Being restrained and controlled?"

Alucard squirmed against the gag.

"Is that why you enjoyed how Trevor stripped and chained you?"

Alucard froze. He stared up at her.

"When we caught you?" Sypha asked.

Alucard gave a tiny nod.

Sypha smiled. She let go of him and stepped back. Alucard sank forward. There was something deeply freeing about this. After months around Trevor, having to think through every move he made, having to exert self-control over every interaction, collapsing into Sypha's control was a relief.

He heard her rummaging in the closet again. Alucard closed his eyes. He pressed his teeth into the gag. His jaw spasmed. He ignored it. Was he really going to be beaten by a paltry piece of plastic?

Sypha returned and pressed something cold and smooth to Alucard's back. Alucard raised his head.

Sypha removed the small pressure from Alucard's back. She showed him what she was holding- a long, thin rod with a leather flap at the end. She grinned wide enough to show her teeth. "Hands at your sides."

Alucard let his hands rest on the floor. He heard a swish, and then the leather flap swatted his back.

Alucard's grunt was surprised, not pained. The small sting of the blow rippled through his back and dissipated immediately. But Sypha still paused. She set the crop lightly on his back and dipped her head. He heard the heavy warmth of her breathing as she asked.

"That okay?"

Alucard nodded.

Sypha traced a figure eight across his back and then struck again. And then a third time. The contact left a warm glow in Alucard's back. He sank further onto his knees. He pressed his forehead to the floor. His jaw ached. He felt the plastic in his mouth strain slightly.

"Huh. Are you even feeling this?"

Alucard tentatively sat up.

"Am I hurting you?" Sypha asked.

Alucard shook his head.

Sypha shivered. "You have a high pain tolerance, don't you?"

Alucard nodded.

"Oh, that's dangerous," Sypha said. She set the crop aside. She ran her hand up his shoulder, across his neck and to the side of his face. Her hand softly traced over his temple. "You really aren't human, are you?"

She wrapped her hand into Alucard's hair and jerked it back.

Alucard gasped. Something crunched. He reached forward and grabbed Sypha's wrist.

"Oh shit," Sypha said. She let go of his hair, reached back and loosened the gag. "Are you okay?"

Alucard nodded. He brought both hands to his face and worked on the spasming muscles at his jaw. He pulled out the gag.

"Alucard?" Sypha said. She sat down on the floor. Alucard saw one of her hands stretch forward, pause, and then retract.

"Don't pull my hair," Alucard said.

"What?"

Alucard tucked a lock behind his ear. "It- my vanity. It grows slowly."

"You don't want your hair pulled?" Sypha asked gently.

Alucard shook his head. He looked down at the gag in his hand. He gulped. "Oh."

"What is it?"

Alucard uncurled his hand and revealed the plastic ball. There were clear indents where his teeth had sunk into the plastic seam. Half the sphere was collapsed in. He handed it to Sypha.

Sypha took it. She chuckled. "Yeah. Okay, no hair pulling. Got it."

Alucard shook his head. "They don't work."

"No. We need to try something stronger," Sypha said. She reached for the metal gag that had kept Alucard's mouth open. She paused. "Look, it doesn't have to be these ones. I can find others-- eventually."

"It's okay," Alucard said, "I- if these work, we'll need them."

Sypha nodded. She picked up the gag. She took a deep breath. Her excitement was infectious. Her rising pulse and the warm flush of her cheeks- it all made Alucard ravenous. He gulped.

Sypha brought the gag forward. She held the sides and brushed her hands to Alucard's cheeks. The metal pressed to his lips.

Alucard closed his eyes. "Sypha?"

"Yes?"

"Do, do you want to hurt me?"

Sypha froze. Alucard heard her wince. "I-- might."

Alucard looked at her. They were eye level. She was blushing, and averted her gaze. She was human, and tempting, and powerful. It was a hypnotic combination.

"Then you need to hit somewhere- sensitive."

Sypha shuddered. Her heart rate rose. She swallowed hard. "Are you offering?"

"I can take it," Alucard said.

"You'll stop me, if it turns out you can't?" Sypha asked.

"Yes," Alucard said. His lip twitched. He'd never seen her so cautious. "Should I beg?"

Sypha grinned. She pushed the gag into his mouth and tugged it tight around his head. "Oh, you will."

She stood and straightened to her full height. Se looked down at him for a moment, considering. Her lip twisted. "Take off your shirt and put your hands behind your back."

Alucard suddenly understood why Trevor went along with all of this. Sypha spoke with absolute confidence. She was glowing, powerful and infinite.

Alucard pulled off his shirt and sat at attention, his hands clasped behind his back, waiting. Sypha didn't keep him long. She took one moment to trace her finger across his tiny stomach. Then she brought her hand up to his chest.

"Sensitive, huh?" Sypha asked. She used two nails to pinch Alucard's nipple.

Alucard felt that. He moaned as a static current of stinging pain rippled up his skin.

"Like that?" Sypha asked.

Alucard nodded. He'd forgotten what he was supposed to be doing. He whined and leaned back when Sypha tugged at the delicate skin.

"You know what I think? I think the only thing you really understand is pain. It's the language your fucking thirst speaks in," Sypha said.

Alucard shivered.

"You know how to hurt people. Intimately. How does it feel, having that turned back on you? To be the victim? Helpless?"

Alucard closed his eyes. Sypha released him, and he groaned. She moved her hand across and dug her nails into his other pec.

"I admit, you suffer prettily," Sypha said, "And it feels fucking good to hurt you."

Alucard felt something dribble from his chin onto his chest. He gulped and bit his teeth into the gag. It was spit. He was literally drooling on himself. Of all the undignified response to this- this was the point. The gag. He had to focus on the gag and getting it off.

Sypha leaned in over him. "Having trouble puppy?"

Alucard practically sobbed at the proximity of her neck to his mouth. He sank forward and ran his tongue over the sweet, pulsing veins.

"Naughty," Sypha said. She twisted her fingers around his nipple. She forced him back. "Is that not enough for you? Do I need to hurt you harder?" She spoke scornfully, but Alucard felt excited warmth flooding off of her. Her heartbeat was a wild chorus to his barely coherent thoughts.

"Pull down your pants," Sypha said.

Alucard obeyed instantly. He undid the button and pulled them down to his knees. Sypha gripped his throat and lifted him against the wall. She tugged the jeans to his ankles, leaving his bare legs and boxers exposed.

"Spread your knees," Sypha said. She bent down.

Alucard groaned. He felt himself drooling again. She was so tempting. He already associated her smell, and her warmth, with feeding. Now, she sat under him, her neck wonderfully exposed by her short hair.

He clenched his jaw. fighting the restraints. They held, but steel was nothing compared to the thirst in him. He whimpered. The imp snarled and rattled his ribs like the bars of a cage, like hunger pangs.

Alucard started to jerk his jaw from side to side. He needed this awful thing off. His body was warmed up, throbbing and wanting.

Well, one part of him was, at least. Alucard gasped into the gag as his attention was suddenly forced down between his legs. Sypha had pulled his boxers just enough to hold his cock between her hands. She adjusted, gripped his balls firmly and brought them out from what had felt like a protective layer of cloth.

He was exposed, open to the air and the light. Sypha traced a nail across his very delicate flesh.

Alucard let out a long, low groan. All of him was abruptly there, at the parts of him that he'd left disused in favor of his teeth and tongue. It wasn't that vampires were chaste- the opposite was closer to the truth. They were practically incubi in human bodies. But in Alucard's experience, the fulfilling of desire was in feeding, not fucking.

Well, perhaps it was time for him to experience something new. Here he was, hard in Sypha's hand at the promise of pain, exposed and almost vulnerable. He'd never thought a human could render him helpless. He'd never considered the appeal.

"Fight the gag," Sypha said, "Fight it before I destroy your cute balls."

Alucard clenched his jaw until it spasmed. The metal held.

"Come on bloodsucker," Sypha said. She raked one nail down his shaft.

Alucard whimpered. He returned to twisting his jaw from side to side. Was he imagining it, or was his range of motion increasing?

Sypha sank her nail deeper as she worked slowly down. Alucard felt the red trail of the stinging pain, all the little crackles of static as nerves fired, sending the sensation up to his brain.

"No? You can't get yourself out? Or do you want me to make you scream?"

Alucard nodded to nothing in particular. He was panting now. He jerked his jaw desperately. She wanted him to get free. She was everything. She was blood, life. She was in control. And her hand was almost down his shaft. Alucard keenly remembered the last time she'd touched his balls.

Something popped. Alucard gasped as his jaw was freed and a piece of metal gouged into his cheek.

"Shit," Sypha said. Warm hands reached forward immediately- too quickly. Sypha paused. She carefully snaked a hand behind Alucard's head. The metal loosened.

"Use your hands," Sypha said, "Take it off."

Alucard brought his hands together and eased the gag from his face. It left a scrape on his cheek. Somehow, he'd wiggled a weak seam between the metal sections until it had snapped and dug into his face.

"You alright?"

Alucard nodded. He swallowed hard and found his voice. "More than."

Sypha sighed. "So even the metal doesn't work. Damn. That was-- going to be fun, too."

She stepped back and took a deep breath. She shook her head.

"There- there is one more," Alucard said. He reached forward, grabbed the gag in both hands and held it up. He liked the look of the metal bit at the center of the gag, even if his jaw twitched at the sight of it.

It felt like a ritual- as close as he could come to praying. He was kneeling in front of her, offering the gag between his hands. Was this what humans meant when they spoke of prostrating themselves in religious service, of giving everything to their god?

Alucard wasn't certain, but he had a feeling he was in too deep.

Sypha shivered. Her heart rate was a steady thud like a siren’s song. The blush had spread from her cheeks to her nose, a vibrant glow. She extended both hands and Alucard could feel the warmth radiating from between them. She put her hands over his and squeezed his knuckles.

"You're adorable," she said. She took the gag from his hands.

Alucard grinned. He opened his mouth and ran his tongue over his lips.

"I wonder, can you break the gag before I break you?"

Before Alucard could answer, Sypha jammed the metal into his mouth. She secured the straps. Alucard just had the time and awareness to put his hands behind his back before she made her first swing.

Alucard had seen human men get kicked between the legs before. He'd seen the old Trevor, doubled over, howling and cursing, during one of the many foolish bar brawls that Alucard had refused to participate in. He was not human, not as delicate as that. But when Sypha's shod foot made impact, he felt it. The force can like a shock wave up his body, leaving tingles in his stomach.

"Fuck," Sypha said. She braced herself on the wall and brought her foot back for another kick.

Alucard nodded vaguely. He agreed.

Chapter Text

(past)

"So you beat his balls to a fucking pulp," Trevor said, "How did you possibly think that was okay?"

"We--" Alucard started. Stabbing pain shot up his sinuses. He shut his eyes and winced.

"Bat boy?" Trevor asked. Alucard heard him step back to the couch. When he opened his eyes, Trevor was standing over him.

Alucard held his jaw until the pain eased. Then he removed his hands. "Know that gag works, now." He'd done everything he could to get the damn thing off, and it had held.

Trevor snorted. "There had to be a better way."

"Probably," Sypha said. It was strange to hear her speak in a small, quivering voice, "May I--?"

"How about no," Trevor said. He stood between them. "How about no, and you leave him alone."

"Trevor," Sypha said. She stepped up to him and whispered, "Let me give aftercare."

Trevor froze. "What?"

"Please? Just give me a chance to do this right," Sypha said.

"You can't be-- after all of the-- okay," Trevor said. He stepped aside. "Fine. But I'm staying here." He strode past Sypha and sat in the armchair.

"Alucard?" Sypha asked. She leaned in over him. "How are you feeling?"

Alucard stared up at her. He felt dizzy, and he couldn't puzzle out the conversation he'd just overheard. Shifting slightly to raise his head sent a cascade of pain through his abdomen and between his legs. He groaned.

"Bad, huh?" Sypha said, "Can I get you an ice pack?"

Alucard raised an eyebrow. He thought he understood both of those words, but they made no sense put together, or in this context. "Ice- pack?"

"Something cold to help with the swelling," Sypha said.

"Oh," Alucard said. He nodded. Was swelling what was going on down there? It felt like someone had cinched a smith's metal tongs around his balls and had decided to leave them there.

Sypha stood up. She stepped away from him and towards the kitchen. In her absence, Alucard felt Trevor staring at him. He didn't meet his eyes. A strange feeling bubbled up in his sore stomach. He recognized it as shame. Like he had betrayed Trevor somehow, and been caught in the act. It didn't hurt quite as much or as deeply as his aching testicles, but he still felt it. Like he'd done something wrong.

Had he? Of all of the terrible things he'd done, was this what was going to finally earn him Trevor's anger?

Sypha returned with a small, plastic package. "Here," she said. She offered it to Alucard. Alucard felt cold radiating from it.

Alucard looked at her a little blankly.

Sypha blushed. "For between your legs."

"Oh," Alucard said. That almost made sense. He tried to rise. It was a mistake. "Would you do that?"

"Of course," Sypha said. She lifted the blanket and slipped the pack under it. She set over his crotch and underwear. She replaced the blanket.

Alucard winced at the weight of the pack. Then he sighed. The cold sank into his skin and some of the throbbing pain disappeared.

"How else can I help?" Sypha asked.

Alucard gulped. He scrambled for something to say. "Don't know."

"Alright," Sypha said. She settled cross legged beside the sofa and leaned in over him. It might have been close enough to be dangerous if Alucard could move his core without pain. She cleared her throat.

"You did really well. You know that, right?"

"What?" Alucard asked.

Sypha shivered. "You indulged me. A lot. I'm pleased with you."

Alucard blinked. He still wasn't sure if he was hearing correctly. "But you hate me."

"No I don't," Sypha said. Her lip twitched. "Although, yeah, I get why you'd think that."

"You don't?"

"Look. There was a lot of anger at the beginning. And I was terrified that you'd escape and murder both of us so I might have, uhh, laid it on a little thick," Sypha said.

From the other side of the room, Trevor coughed loudly.

Sypha shook her head. "But now-- it's hard to hate you when you're helpless and cute and doing my laundry."

"Cute?" Alucard asked.

A hint of red spread across Sypha's cheeks and nose. She stood up and backed away from him. "I-- I just meant that-"

"Yeah, Sypha? What do you mean, exactly?" Trevor asked.

Alucard looked over. He'd used a tone of voice that he had never heard before- cold and biting. Sypha turned pinker still, and turned to Trevor. She gulped. "Shit. Trevor, I'm sorry."

Trevor pushed himself out of the chair. He jabbed his thumb towards the hallway. "Come on. I'm just- help me understand."

Sypha followed him through the arch. Alucard heard them walk back to their bedroom and close the door. In spite of all of those attempts at privacy, he could still hear every word they spoke.

"Unbelievable. You fucked him? You? Fucked him?" Trevor growled, "I've been tiptoeing around for weeks and trying to make things right and understand and go at a reasonable pace and you've been nothing but hostile to him and now, now-- fucking hell, Sypha."

Alucard blinked. He tried to rise, and his whole body seemed to throb and ache in response. Had the definition of "fucked" changed considerably in the last five centuries?

"I didn't-- it wasn't supposed to be like that," Sypha said.

Alucard heard the thumps of Trevor's angry steps. "Supposed to? We haven't done anything for, for weeks and weeks and I come home and I can hear him screaming. It's-- fuck, Sypha. Fuck."

His voice had risen to a shout. Sypha's response, though, Alucard could barely hear. "You're right. I'm sorry."

"I didn't know you were even into him," Trevor said.

"Trevor, I'm not--" Sypha started. She gulped. "Or, I didn't think I was."

Alucard sighed. He needed to be part of this conversation. At the very least, he needed to let them know he was hearing every word. The cold had helped numb him, enough that he could slip one leg off the couch without pain.

"He surprised you, didn't he?"

Alucard gritted his teeth. He used his hands to pull himself up into a sitting position. Everything ached, and he felt his arms shaking at the strain of getting himself upright. But he managed to get into a sitting position. How much harder, or more painful, could it be to rise and walk?

"He hated that he bit you."

"No shit," Trevor said, "Jesus. You didn't even notice? Were you too busy being hostile to see that's he's trying to be better?"

"I-- I just wanted to help."

Trevor snorted. "Bullshit."

"Trevor-"

"No. I don't buy it. You took advantage of him. You got him vulnerable and you used him. That's fucking sick."

"I had his consent," Sypha said in a tiny voice.

"Are you sure about that?" Trevor said. His voice was turning quieter too. But Alucard heard a barely contained tremor in it. "Are you absolutely sure? Did you fucking explain your sadistic side to him? Did you ask him what kind of pain he likes? Did you have a safeword? Oh wait, he was gagged."

Alucard sighed. He tried to stand and a cascade of pain went down his chest. He gritted his teeth, clutched his stomach, and pushed himself off the sofa anyway. He hobbled towards the archway.

"I would have stopped, if he'd put his hands forward."

"Did he know that, Sypha?"

Sypha gulped.

Alucard reached the arch and leaned against it, breathing hard. His jaw was still sore, but he managed to croak out, "Trevor?"

He heard Trevor curse under his breath. He called back, "Alucard?"

"I trusted her. To stop. If I put my hands forward."

There was a long pause. Then Trevor spoke in a choked voice. "C-can you hear us, back here?"

"Yes."

"Shit," Trevor said. He started laughing. "Oh shit. So you heard-- everything."

Alucard caught Sypha's quiet curse in the background.

Alucard closed his eyes. He felt himself sliding down the wall. "Could I be a, a part of this talk? Please? This sounds important."

"Yeah. Okay, that's-- oh shit," Trevor said. He'd just opened the door. He ran up and reached for Alucard. Then he made himself stop. "Idiot. You shouldn't be up. Can I hold you?"

Alucard nodded. He sank into Trevor's hold.

"Alright," Trevor said. He gingerly lifted Alucard up. "Where do you want to be?"

Alucard rested his head on Trevor's covered shoulder. It was too close to his neck, and opening his mouth to speak was a ridiculous risk. Alucard dragged his head up and said, "Where you are."

"Bat boy," Trevor said. He squeezed Alucard. He kissed the top of Alucard's head. He shifted his hold around Alucard's legs and carried him into the bedroom.

The holy ward hurt. Alucard hurt. But Trevor's grip was sturdy and reassuring.

"Close the blinds, Sypha."

Trevor set him down onto something so soft and warm that Alucard gasped. It smelled like both of them- Trevor and Sypha. Alucard didn't need his vision to clear. He knew he was in their bed, laying where the sun had been shining just a moment before.

Trevor started to let go, and Alucard selfishly clung to him. "Stay?"

"Yeah. I can stay," Trevor said. He came into focus. His smile looked amused and a little sad.

"Vampires have heightened sense, don't they?" Sypha said.

Alucard turned his head. Sypha stood by the window, her arms wrapped around herself. She looked strangely small. Her face was still red.

"I mean, yeah," Trevor said, "What is it-- night vision, a keen sense of smell-"

"Improved hearing?" Sypha asked through gritted teeth.

Alucard nodded.

Trevor smacked himself on the forehead. Alucard grimaced. He reached up and gently pulled Trevor's hand back down. He held it in both of his.

"How would you have known?" Alucard said, "I should have told you."

"I'm supposed to be the vampire expert," Trevor said. He let his hand rest in Alucard's hold. "And, I don't think we can blame you for not saying anything." He shot Sypha a pointed look.

Sypha looked down at her feet. "I don't blame him."

"Was a-afraid you'd put me back in the basement."

Trevor flinched. He settled on the bed next to Alucard. He sat against the headboard. He reached over and squeezed Alucard's shoulder. "Shit. I'm sorry."

"So, you've been hearing everything," Sypha said, "Everything we just said."

Alucard sighed. He used his arms to lift himself up and rest his head on Trevor's thigh. In his defense, it made it much easier to keep Sypha in view. He considered her. "That was fucking?"

Sypha flinched and curled further into herself.

"It is for us," Trevor said, almost gently, "But we shouldn't have wrapped you up in it."

"It was fun," Alucard said.

There was a loud bang. Alucard jerked upright, and then collapsed as his sore body protested. He looked back. Trevor had recoiled and slammed his head into the wooden backboard. He rubbed the back of his skull.

"Fun?" Sypha croaked.

Alucard reached up and put a light hand on the back on Trevor's head. He felt the place where Trevor had hit his head.

"I'm fine," Trevor said.

Alucard considered him, and then looked back at Sypha. "You, you both realize I'm not human, right?"

"In what sense, exactly?" Trevor asked.

Alucard grinned up at him. "I can take more punishment. My body is resistant."

"It's not about how much pain you can take. It's about whether something is good, sexy fun or fucking terrifying."

"What about both?"

Trevor squirmed. Then he sighed. "I mean, I guess."

"That's dangerous," Sypha said.

Alucard grimaced. "I couldn't hurt you, like that. With the gag in."

Sypha tilted her head at him. Then her lip twitched. "Dangerous for you, I mean."

Alucard shrugged. "I accept that." He met her eyes steadily.

Sypha's posture shifted as Alucard looked at her. She uncurled her arms and set her mouth in a hard, thin line. "Was the ice pack helping?" she asked.

Alucard nodded.

"Well, at least you're human-like, then. Want me to grab it for you?"

"Please."

"Clothes too?"

When Alucard nodded, she pushed herself off the wall and walked out the door.

"I get it," Alucard breathed.

"What's that?" Trevor asked. He leaned in slightly, one hand still holding the back of his head.

"Why you o-obey her," Alucard said, "She's, uhh-"

"Sypha is a work-a-holic and a control freak. She has a mean streak. She's demanding and brilliant and cruel and I love her," Trevor said.

Alucard nodded. "But, she likes me?"

"Guess so. Sorry she had the worst possible way of showing it."

Alucard chuckled. "There are worse ways."

"What do you--?" Trevor started. He trailed off as Sypha slipped back into the room.

Sypha tossed Trevor the ice pack. She picked up Alucard's discarded pants and shirt. She approached the bed, still a little weary. "How can I help?"

"Aluard? How do clothes sound?"

"Better," Alucard admitted.

"Is it alright if I touch you?” Sypha's cheeks turned pink again, "Not that-- I mean, I don't need to."

"It's okay," Alucard said. He looked at Sypha. "It's okay."

"Glad we all remember how asking permission works," Trevor said dryly.

Sypha stuck out her tongue at him, which Alucard took as a good sign. She eased the jeans onto Alucard's ankles. Trevor helped pull them up.

"And I guess you can have your shirt back too," Trevor said, with a last, sweeping look at Alucard's chest.

Alucard rolled his eyes. He accepted the shirt and started pulling it on himself. Then he sighed.

"Alucard?" Sypha asked, "Is there something wrong?"

Alucard stuck his head through the collar. "N-nothing."

"Bat boy, if there's something else making you uncomfortable, this is a damn good time to mention it," Trevor said.

Alucard shrugged. He pulled the shirt over himself. He wrinkled his nose. "It's silly."

"What is it, Alucard?" Sypha asked.

There was a tone in her voice that made Alucard turn his head. It wasn't a gleaming, deadly note of superiority exactly, but some confidence returning to her voice. She wanted to know, and it mattered to her, and she could and would fix it.

Alucard brushed the olive green fabric of the shirt. "I miss black."

"Black clothing, you mean?" Sypha asked.

Alucard nodded. He felt Trevor wince behind him.

"Oh," Sypha said. She sighed and slumped onto the edge of the bed. "That's my fault."

"Meaning?" Alucard asked

"I mean, almost all of this is. Or, maybe everything? I've put you through a lot. I told Trevor, when he went shopping for you, anything but black. Jeans instead of slacks. Bright colored shirts. I didn't want-- I dunno. I wasn't thinking so much about how you stay away from the windows. I was hoping you'd look less vampiric in other colors."

"I was hoping you'd feel less vampiric," she said.

"Oh," Alucard said. He blinked. He'd honestly thought that the blues, greens, reds and greys in his new wardrobe had been a coincidence. He wondered how much else that had seemed like a chance at the time was a deliberate effort on their part- on Sypha's part. And, an effort to do what, exactly? "You want me m-more human?"

Sypha shifted uncomfortably. "O-only if you're okay with it."

Trevor snorted. "Like we gave you a choice."

"I didn't-- I'm sorry," Sypha said. She held up her hands. "I'm sorry. I didn't see you as a person. I wasn't even thinking about your needs and I did a lot of bad shit."

"I've done worse," Alucard said quietly.

"Yup. You should both feel fucking awful. That seems productive," Trevor said.

Sypha rolled her eyes. "Thanks, love."

"Why?" Alucard asked.

"Why what?"

Alucard grimaced. The ache in his jaw was turning into a low, steady throb. And he couldn't exactly put an ice pack on his sinuses. "Why do you want me more human?"

"It makes it more likely you'd be able to rejoin society," Sypha said.

Alucard gaped. "That's possible?"

"To be honest? I don't know," Sypha said, "There's a lot that's involved in making that anything more than an optimistic dream. You have all the obstacles of an addict and a long term coma patient wrapped in one. With a side of-- I don't know? Some kind of personality disorder?"

Trevor shifted behind him and wrapped his arms around Alucard. "The reading and writing has been going well."

Alucard tilted his head back. "Is- is that why you started doing that? So I could live with humans, again?"

"I did that cause you needed something to do, and it's two thousand fucking nineteen. No one should be illiterate," Trevor said, "Also, dunno how to tell you this. But you've been living with us for five months now."

Alucard blinked. In one sense, Trevor was correct.

"That's a good point," Sypha said.

"Thanks. But I'm still mad at you."

"Mad enough I have to make my own dinner?" Sypha asked.

"Dear god. I said mad, not livid. I'm not about to shirk my wifely duties," Trevor said. He put a hand on his chest, feigning offense. He leaned into Alucard. "But, can it wait, oh, fifteen minutes or so?"

"Of course," Sypha said, "Also, you can help me keep an eye on the ice pack. Alucard, you should only be applying twenty minutes of cold every hour. Let me put it back in the freezer."

"Okay," Alucard said. He gingerly picked up the pack and handed it over.

"Thanks, Dr. Kresnev," Trevor said.

Alucard blinked, trying to understand the strange nickname. And then he realized- she couldn't possibly be Belnades, anymore than he was Belmont.

"Be gentle with him," Sypha said.

"Gentle? Gentle? You fucking hypocrite," Trevor started. But there was no fire in his voice this time.

Sypha shrugged it off and closed the door on them.

Trevor rolled his eyes.

 

Trevor was gentle. He was unbearably soft in the way he cradled Alucard and ran his fingers through his hair. He kneaded smaller, paltry aches out of his hands and arms. He even offered to massage Alucard's jaw, explaining that gags always made him sore.

Alucard had fought down the mental image of Trevor in a gag. He declined with a small shake of his head. Just melting into Trevor's hold was wonderful. He didn't want his thirst to ruin this.

When Trevor coaxed his way out from under Alucard, it felt far too soon. But Alucard heard his stomach growl. He pressed a kiss to Alucard's forehead and slipped out of the bed.

"Gonna start dinner. I'll be back in a few with the ice pack, okay?"

Alucard swallowed down a selfish moan that might have kept Trevor longer. Food was important. Humans lived off of it. He nodded and watched Trevor leave. He listened to him walk across the house. After a moment, he heard the chopping and sizzling sounds he associated with cooking.

He heard Sypha's lighter footsteps- over carpet, and then onto tile. She had moved to the kitchen too. Alucard gulped. He strained his ears. He heard the ghost of a whispered conversation. But this time, the substance of it was overshadowed by the pop and hiss of oil in a pan.

Alucard shook his head. At least they knew now, and he was not consigned to exile in the basement. He closed his eyes and let himself sink into the restful stillness that was as near as he could manage to sleep.

Chapter Text

(past)

He was up the next morning. Dealing with what felt like an amorphous stomach ache, but up. He limped as he rose from his bed and stooped over to the small closet. He called for Trevor when he passed through the hallway.

Trevor opened the door and shook his head. "You should rest."

Alucard shrugged. "Don't sleep," he said. He extended his hands, asking to be let through the ward anyway.

"Not what I meant," Trevor said. He grumbled. But he picked Alucard up and squeezed him gently anyway. "Livingroom, then?"

Alucard shook his head. He secured a change of clothes more tightly under one arm, so that it would stay with him even when he went limp. "Bathroom."

"Fair enough," Trevor said. He carried Alucard through, and deposited him beside the bathroom door. He was gone by the time Alucard's vision returned to normal. Alucard shook his head. Trevor still seemed angry. If he was honest with himself, he wasn't sure why he was mad.

Certainly, there had been plenty of good reasons. The scabbed over mark that Trevor had finally stopped covering with collared shirts was evidence of that. But he hadn't seemed angry then, so much as sad and stand-offish.

Alucard shrugged, ridding himself of the thought and the lingering spasms in his limbs. He picked up the rolled up shirt and a pair of jeans that had fallen from his arms. He rose and hobbled into the bathroom. He had things to do today.

He took a shower first, focusing on cleaning and sorting the tangles out of his hair. The warm water eased away the last of the cold from the ice packs Sypha had continuously provided him yesterday. He looked down at his balls as he gingerly cleaned them. They were purple.

Alucard raised an eyebrow. It took a lot to make him bruise. And the things that had managed it before hadn't been nearly as much fun.

Alucard's cock throbbed in his hand. He shook his head and ignored it. He rinsed off, got out of the shower and dried himself, trying to pat his hair dry without tangling it again.

Once his hair wasn't dripping, Alucard got dressed and started rifling through the bathroom cupboards. He found a pair of scissors. He wiped down the mirror so that he could clearly see his reflection.

Alucard leaned on the sink counter and took a deep breath. He had been very small the last time he had gotten his hair cut. His mother had done that, back when he was young and still growing. He'd been nine when he asked her to stop so he could wear it long.

Well, it was long now. Even if it grew at the rate of plate tectonics, he had let it go, and he had wavy ends running down to his hips and stomach. It was far too much. Now that he could take care of it properly, he wanted to cut it so it would stop getting in his way.

Still, the idea of cutting his own hair was intimidating. What if he did it wrong? Would he have to live with a bad haircut for decades? He shuddered.

Alucard looked back at the mirror. He wrinkled his nose. The steam had fogged up his reflection again. He shook his head and opened the door, letting some of the hot air flood out.

At least he could see his reflection. He wasn't sure if that was an advantage over true vampires in the same way that his uncomfortable tolerance of daylight was, but it was nice to be able to see his face, and it gave him some confidence that he wouldn't utterly mutilate his hair.

Alucard steeled himself. He picked a lock of hair that came down to his stomach and measured to a place where it rested just below his shoulders. He pulled it taut and trimmed off the end.

The stuff at the front was easy enough. Alucard got into trouble when he moved to his hair in the back. He twisted, trying to look at his back in the mirror to measure the correct length. He kept missing hairs. He brought his hair over his shoulders and found uneven, roughly chopped ends.

Alucard swore.

"Want me to do that?"

Alucard looked up, and saw Trevor's reflection in the mirror. He blinked and turned around.

"Were you watching me?"

Trevor shrugged. "Maybe."

"Enjoying my struggling?" Alucard asked.

Trevor's mouth was a small, hard line. "No, actually. But, here. Let's do this properly. I'll get you a stool."

He grabbed one of the long, spindly chairs that were usually tucked against the kitchen counter. He set it in the bathroom. Alucard sat cautiously. He handed Trevor the scissors.

"Please tell me this isn't you punishing yourself again," Trevor said.

Alucard stared at him via the mirror. "P-punishing?"

Trevor looked up. His eyes were hard. "Isolating yourself in your room? And then egging Sypha on like that? Getting her to beat the crap out of you? Yeah. That's what I'd call that."

Alucard sighed. "Just want it shorter."

"Well, obviously I can't stop you now," Trevor said. He ran his fingers through his hair and shook his head. "It's kinda a shame though. You have wonderful hair."

"You think so?" Alucard asked, "It's a lot."

"I know," Trevor said. He started to snip at the ends of Alucard's hair. "I braided it, remember?"

"Twice," Alucard said, "Don't know how you p-possibly had the patience."

Trevor shrugged. He picked up a comb and worked through a few tangles that Alucard had missed in the back. "I dunno. It made sense to me. To do something that made you more comfortable when you seemed miserable."

"I'm sorry."

"Eh. It's your choice to cut it. And, shit. Do not let me tell you what to do with your body. That is pretty fucked up after-- everything."

Alucard started to shake his head. Then he stopped. Trevor was cutting his hair. He really didn't want to ruin it. "No, Trev. I- I'm sorry I bit you."

Trevor's hands paused. "I know."

The sounds of hair being snipped filled the small room for a few minutes. Trevor got to the end, tested the locks against each other to make sure that they were even, and then dusted the hairs off of Alucard's shirt.

Alucard looked into the mirror. He bit his lip to keep from gasping. His younger self stared back at him. It wasn't just the wavy locks coming down to his shoulders. It was as though some softness had returned to his face. He wasn't hunching his shoulders or holding tension in his jaw anymore, looked less like a lost and frightened animal. And then there was Trevor in the background, familiar and strange and trying to pull hairs out of his shirt.

"You should have put a towel on your shoulders," he said, "It would have caught the hair, instead of it getting stuck in your clothes."

Alucard looked back at him. His lip twitched. "I'll remember that for next time."

Trevor's brow furrowed. "I mean, yeah? Cool?"

"My last haircut was in the, the 15th century," Alucard said.

"The fuck?" Trevor said, "Is that normal?"

Alucard shrugged. "Maybe. I have no idea. D-don't know who I'd ask."

"Yeah. You guys are a bit of an endangered species, aren't you?" Trevor asked. He apparently found a spot he'd missed, and picked up the scissors again. "Can't say I'm sorry about that."

"Endangered?"

"I've fought maybe, maybe two vampires before I-- found you," Trevor said, "And I'm still not sure. One of them seemed more like a demon. It was dark, and kinda hard to tell."

Alucard shuddered. "They aren't dead. Just-- gone."

"What do you mean?" Trevor asked. He snipped an end of Alucard's hair and tested it again by running his fingers through it and measuring the sides.

"They- they've gone to hell."

Trevor looked at him through the mirror. He raised an eyebrow. "Like, figuratively?"

"No?" Alucard said. He wasn't entirely sure what figuratively meant. "Any vampire has the power, to open a gate. Even with a little study. Sometimes by accident."

"So you're telling me all of the bloodsuckers opened up magical portals and moved to the place where sinners are eternally tormented in the center of the earth?" Trevor said, "Is that what you're saying? Cause, like, you've just undermined most of the world's religions."

Alucard rolled his eyes. "I'm no priest. But, it's a different plane. My father said it was where guilty mortals went. P-people who thought it was what they deserved."

"Oh god," Trevor said. He set the scissors aside and gripped Alucard's shoulder. "You're saying all the self-flagellating christians end up in hell because they think they belong there?"

"Don't know," Alucard said. He shrugged. "Never been."

Trevor tilted his head. "I mean, it can't be a nice place. Even if you're a vampire."

"Feasting on the infinite blood of sinners. No daylight. No running water," Alucard said. He felt his jaw starting to spasm, and his stomach ached strangely at so much talking. But he kept going anyway. "There, there are some vampires who'd call that paradise."

"So the reason our forests aren't stuffed full of bloodsuckers is cause they're all drinking the blood of the damned?" Trevor said, "Is that-- that's a lot to take in."

"It's just a guess," Alucard said, "There was talk, when I was privy to those councils. With the church becoming more, more dangerous."

"And we're more dangerous now?" Trevor asked.

Alucard nodded. "You have cars. And guns. And there's nowhere to hide."

"Ran away to hell," Trevor said. He shook his head. Then he paused. He looked at Alucard again. "So, why didn't you?"

"What?"

"Why didn't you go back to hell? Wouldn't that have been easier?"

Alucard twisted his head and gaped at Trevor. "How could I?"

"I mean, you said it took magic. And you're-- I mean, I know you can't use it now, but you have powers, right? Sorry about that, by the way."

"Trevor. Do you know what they'd do, do to me? If I went to hell?" Alucard said. "I k-killed Dracula. They would--"

He winced and held his mouth. Trevor put a hand on his back. He waited for him to finish.

"The things they would do to me-- I can't imagine," Alucard said, "Sypha's torture is nothing, by comparison."

"Can I touch you?" Trevor asked.

Alucard gave himself a shake. Had he looked sad again, hollow eyed and stricken the way Trevor had described? He gulped and tried for a small smile. "Yes please."

Trevor wrapped him into a hug. Alucard stiffened, and then let himself lean into it. He'd decided that he liked this Trevor's hugs. They were warm and engulfing like he remembered with none of the stench.

"Hell would be hell for you. Do I have that right?" Trevor asked.

Alucard nodded into his chest.

"Huh," Trevor said. He put a hand on Alucard's head and cradled him. The touch was sweet and Alucard sank into it, absolutely refusing to acknowledge the imp hissing in his stomach.

"Is this okay?" he asked.

Alucard nodded again.

"I'm going to learn how to do this," Trevor said, "There's gotta be a way for me to touch you without you falling over or freezing or biting."

Alucard shifted in his hold. He fished a hand into one of his pockets and pulled something out. He looked up at Trevor and held it up.

Trevor winced. He eyed the gag Alucard offered. He squeezed Alucard harder. "That's not what I meant."

"Works," Alucard said.

"It's cruel. You already have trouble talking. You already have weird fucking pain in your mouth. This could make both worse."

"Don't care," Alucard said, "I want you."

Trevor sighed. He let Alucard go and leaned back. "Okay. If that helps. Just, please no more of this self-isolating shit. I missed you."

Alucard gulped. "Missed you too." He looked up at Trevor. The anger had melted from his posture. His hair was messy. It was always messy. Alucard wanted to smooth down the locks that stood up at the top. He wanted to brush away the couple of golden curls that had gotten cut and caught on Trevor's shirt. He wanted to put a hand on the remaining, broken semi-circle of nicks on Trevor's neck, just to make sure that the damage had healed.

He wanted to run his hands over Trevor's biceps and the sturdy muscles of his shoulders. He wanted to peer into Trevor's eyes and confirm the flash of green he'd seen in them once, as he'd turned out of the light. He wanted to find all of the ways this Trevor differed, instead of being trapped in the weary memory of their similarities.

And finally, he felt like he could. Alucard dipped his head and bit into the gag.

"Whoa. Hold up a minute. Does it have to be now?" Trevor asked.

Alucard paused. He spat the gag back into his hand and looked up. "Want to touch you."

"I mean, same," Trevor said. He ran a hand through his hair and somehow managed to make it even messier. "But-- let's talk first."

"Talk?" Alucard asked. He tilted his head to one side.

"Yeah. Look, this should have happened before I went down on you. And definitely before you and Sypha had that whole adventure. There's stuff you should know, and stuff we need to negotiate."

Alucard gulped at the word 'negotiate'. "Like, like last time? With the contract?"

"Kinda," Trevor said, "But this'll be more fun. Promise."

Alucard tilted his head for a moment. He considered. As far as he was concerned, things had been settled. Sypha had the solutions that would allow him to be a more complete participant in Trevor's life-- a lover, if not a friend or companion in any traditional sense. What more was needed?

But he saw the look Trevor gave him. "Okay," he said. He stood, and let Trevor take the stool. He tucked the gag into his pocket and looked down at the mess of wavy hair on the floor.

"Come on," Trevor said. He nodded towards the hallway. "We can sweep up and talk."

Alucard nodded. He got out of Trevor's way and then followed him.

Trevor replaced the stool at the counter. Alucard ducked into the closet in the hallway. He grabbed the broom.

"We'll need the dustbin too," Trevor said, "The little black plastic thing in the corner."

Alucard peered into the closet. There were a lot of plastic things. Everything seemed to be made out of plastic now. Even the neon green handle of the broom he was holding was plastic. He poked at the mess of shoes and fallen jackets at the base of the closet. "Ummm."

"Here," Trevor said. He ducked under Alucard's arm and stooped into the closet. He pulled out what Alucard had mistaken for a wide, flat shovel. He held it up with a dramatic flourish.

"Ah."

Trevor shrugged. "I forget sometimes, that you wouldn't know this stuff. That you're-- how old are you again?"

"Half a millennia," Alucard said.

"Well, yeah. But not 500 exactly, right?" Trevor asked. He started back towards the bathroom.

"No. Not exactly."

Trevor shrugged. "Humans care about this stuff. Or, we do now, at least. We celebrate birthdays. For instance, I just turned twenty seven and--"

The broom slipped out of Alucard's hands and clattered to the floor. His voice came out as a squeak. "Tw-twenty seven?"

Trevor turned around. He sighed and fidgeted with the dustbin in his hands. "Yeah. That's, uhh, one of the things we need to talk about, actually. Cause there's age gaps, and then there's a difference of fucking place values."

Alucard bent over and wearily picked up the broom. He shook his head. "Don't remember."

"What's that?" Trevor asked. He got to the bathroom and started sweeping hairs off the counter with his hand.

Alucard followed him. The broom was an awkward and unwieldy weight in his hands. He herded the hairs on the floor into a pile. He sighed. "How old I am. Exactly. Lost track."

"Oh," Trevor said, "We should get a calendar, sometime. Figure it out."

Alucard shrugged. He swept a few hairs with too much force, sending half the pile flying across the tile. He wrinkled his nose and tried again. He didn't need to figure out the exact year to know this was one, of many, ways that they were incompatible.

"But how much of that time have you actually, you know, lived?"

Alucard looked over at him. Trevor, apparently satisfied the counter was clean, was leaning on it as he considered him.

"Lived?"

"Been awake," Trevor clarified, "You said that you could sleep for centuries."

"Oh," Alucard said. He sat back on his haunches, considering. His fingers twitched as he counted, estimating the decades and yes, once, more than a century, that he had hidden from the world. "Probably most of it."

"So maybe it's not so different," Trevor said quietly, "In terms of lived experience."

Alucard shook his head. "I'm still older than you."

"Maybe. But you don't act like it," Trevor said. He got to his knees on the other side of the pile and set the dustbin in place.

Alucard raised an eyebrow. "Meaning?"

Trevor grinned at him.

Alucard shook his head. He resisted the temptation to sweep hair into Trevor's face. He pushed the pile into the dustbin instead.

"Here," Trevor said. He scooted the dustbin back so Alucard could sweep up the hair that had gotten caught in the edge. Then he stood up. "And check the corners too. Sometimes stuff gets caught in there."

Alucard prodded the broom into the tiled corners and, sure enough, found a few more hairs. Trevor moved the dustbin so he could sweep them in. He stood up.

"I'm not bothered by that so much," Trevor said at last. And Alucard understood that he wasn't talking about the sweeping. "We're both of age. That's not-- I mean, maybe I should be more hung up on it, but-"

"Other obstacles," Alucard said.

Trevor nodded grimly. "Stockholm syndrome."

Alucard paused. He'd started to head out the door. Now, he turned back to look at Trevor, who was carefully lifting the overflowing dustbin. He had assumed they would talk about his thirst. In his mind, the fact that he wanted to eat him was of greater concern than that.

"You're in a shit situation. And I want-- I really, really want to believe that you like me, and I like you, and it makes everything easier, and that's enough," Trevor said. He closed his eyes. "But would you be into me if you'd had a choice in literally any of this?"

"Yes."

Trevor gulped. "Fuck. Are you sure?"

"I have loved you for five hundred years," Alucard said.

"See. That's what I was scared of," Trevor said. He grimaced and walked past Alucard with the dustbin. "It's not me. You're still dealing with the ghost of that other Trevor."

Alucard flinched. He felt that like a blow to his sore stomach. He stayed in the bathroom doorway, leaning on the frame. He listened at Trevor moved into the kitchen, and heard the telltale creak of the trash bin opening.

Maybe he was. Maybe he was. Alucard ground his teeth together. He didn't care. He saw this as what it was; this Trevor like a lifeline cast to him in a sea of madness. And he was going to cling to that.

But how dehumanizing was it for Trevor, to be a symbol and a stand in for someone else first, and only himself as an afterthought?

Alucard slipped to the closet. He restored the broom, and then ducked his head through the archway.

"Can I do both?"

Trevor turned his head. Alucard had caught him as he was pulling the trash bag out of the bin. He raised an eyebrow. "Come again?"

"Can I like you both?" Alucard asked, "The memory of him- and you, as you are, and all the ways you are different?"

"I mean, you can," Trevor said. He jerked the bag free and tied the plastic string into a firm knot. "It's called polyamory. Or maybe it's not, in this case. Shit. I don't know. But yeah. You can. Do you?"

Alucard took a deep breath. "I-"

"Don't. Don't tell me now. Don't rush into this," Trevor said. He lifted the trash bag. "I'm gonna take this out. And then, there are some things I need to tell you about, uhh, Sypha and me. The least I can do, with the rest of this being so messy and unethical, is tell you what you'd be in for."

Alucard gulped. "Okay."

"Go make yourself comfortable. Be back in a minute."

Alucard sighed. He sat on the couch and ran his fingers through his hair. His head felt lighter. He felt freed in some strange way. And maybe he was. He had said 'love'. It was like letting out a breath. He had meant it. Love was devotion and commitment and madness. Love, he knew, was the promise of grief.

"I don't need to love him," Alucard whispered. He could still stay here, proximate to the comfortable life these two enjoyed. But it hadn't been the promise of warm showers or new clothes or a room to himself that had lured Alucard in the first place. That had been Trevor. It had always been Trevor.

It would always be Trevor.

Alucard wrapped his arms around himself. He felt his old heart beating too quickly. He willed it to slow down. Trevor was right. He still knew so little about him. He still struggled to separate this new Trevor from the old.

Trevor came back in. He replaced the liner in the trash bin and washed his hands before sitting down beside Alucard. He opened his mouth. He started to form a word, and then swallowed it back down.

Alucard's lip twitched. "Go on."

"I just-- fuck me. This is hard to explain. You, uhh, you realize my relationship with Sypha isn't normal, right?"

Alucard snorted.

"Okay. So that reads at least. We're- there's a lot of words for what we are. Fetishists, is probably the easiest one. I'm not going to explain all of the acronyms and elements to you. I think you're head would explode."

"I'm illiterate, not a fool," Alucard said, "She's in charge. You do what she says. And- and sometimes she punishes you. Missed anything?"

"A few things, actually. But here's the main bit. Everything we do is consensual. Sypha and I, we talked about our limits and what we're into. We have an agreement."

Alucard tilted his head. "Isn't any relationship an agreement?"

"Shit. I mean, you're not wrong," Trevor said. He ran a hand through his hair again. "But we have rules."

Alucard raised an eyebrow. "What kind of rules?"

"Rules that make this shit ethical," Trevor said, "I have a list of things that she isn't allowed to do to me. Those are called limits. We both have safewords-- something we can say that's like a code that means everything stops. We've had conversations, long fucking conversations, about what we're into, and what we want out of this."

"Sounds like a lot," Alucard said.

"You got swept up in this without any of that. No limits, no safeword, no consideration of what you want, or what kind of care you might need. I dunno. Maybe I should have guessed that things were going to morph into this, with Sypha and my lifestyle and how much control we had- have- over you. But I didn't."

He shook his head. "Dunno if it's enough to just try to make things more equitable after the fact."

"I don't need equity," Alucard said.

Trevor stared at him. "You don't know what your talking about."

"No, Trevor, listen," Alucard said. He shifted, and looped an arm around Trevor's shoulder. "I'm older. Stronger than you. Dangerous. I have magic. If we- if we were on even footing, it would put you at risk."

"So, what? Safe, sane and consensual are out the window cause you're not human?" Trevor asked, "That's fucked up."

"I'm just saying, the rules might be different," Alucard said. He reached his hand over and touched the bumpy scabs on Trevor's collarbone. "The rules might- they might need to be different."

"Okay. But we should at least fucking have some," Trevor said.

Alucard nodded. "We need rules that protect you too."

"Alright," Trevor said. He sighed. "If that's what we need to make this work. We can do that. But I dunno if you noticed. I'm not the one who wasn't able to walk yesterday. Let's get you some limits and a safeword, and make sure you don't just stumble into a CBT session next time."

"CBT?"

Trevor gritted his teeth. "Cock and ball torture."

"Oh," Alucard said. His eyes widened.

"Look. I don't want you two to have a relationship that's based on cruelty and pain. I don't think you want that either," Trevor said, "You need to set some limits. Tell her what you can't handle-- I dunno, maybe even what you want."

"That's terrifying," Alucard said.

Trevor took a deep breath. He leaned into Alucard's hold. "Okay. How about this. If we can figure out some reasonable limits you have, I can tell Sypha. We'll figure it out together."

"My hair," Alucard said.

Trevor sighed. He nuzzled the locks falling around Alucard's shoulders. "Looks great."

Alucard rolled his eyes. "As a limit, Trev."

"Oh shit. Your hair is a limit?" Trevor said. He sat bolt upright.

"Just- be careful with it," Alucard said. He cautiously extended a hand. He hooked his arm around Trevor's shoulder again. He eased Trevor back to his side. "Don't pull it, or tear it out, or-"

"Cut it?" Trevor said.

"Yes. No," Alucard said. He pressed Trevor closer to him. Trevor rested his head on his shoulder. "You're fine."

"Right. That's a start. What about what Sypha did to you yesterday?"

Alucard shivered. He leaned back and closed his eyes. "Told you. It was fun."

"But, let me get something straight. She was terrifying?"

"Well, yes-"

"And it hurt?"

Alucard gulped and nodded, "That was why, it was fun."

After a moment's pause, Trevor whistled. "You really are a masochist."

Alucard didn't bother to ask. He merely opened his eyes and raised a brow.

"You like pain," Trevor explained.

"Oh. Well, yes," Alucard said. Pain came naturally to him, and for all of the depraved ways that he'd inflicted it on others, being on the receiving end was intoxicating.

Trevor shrugged. "Alright. But I'd put a hard limit on anything that breaks the skin. No sense in you losing blood that way."

Alucard nodded.

"What about service?"

"Like the, the stuff you do?" Alucard asked.

"It can be. Think more slutty aprons and foot massages though," Trevor said. He sighed. "I've missed those, honestly."

Alucard blinked. He tried to picture Trevor in an apron, and could only envision a wide, functional garment made of durable canvas. He couldn't imagine that being attractive. He felt one of his eyes twitching.

"Uhh, bat boy?" Trevor asked.

Alucard shook the thought away. "D-don't know. Maybe?"

"Fair enough," Trevor said. He sighed and pressed his head to Alucard's collarbone. He kissed his skin, and then looked up. He spoke in a whisper. "Bondage?"

Alucard shivered and nodded. "Yes please."

Trevor chuckled. "You poor thing. Are you sure? It's okay to say no if you're not sure about something. I'd encourage it, actually."

"I'm sure," Alucard said. Anything that he could struggle against, anything that could hold him back and keep him under control, any context in which he could let himself go, would be a gift when even Trevor's innocent press to his chest made him thirsty.

Alucard swallowed, forcing the imp down into his stomach and away from his throat. He leaned over and pressed his lips to Trevor's ear. "What about you?"

Trevor looked up. "What I'm into?"

"Yes."

"Shit. I mean, fair enough," Trevor said. He shifted, draping himself on Alucard's lap and looking up at him. He grinned. "Service."

Alucard rolled his eyes. "Wouldn't have guessed."

Trevor stuck out his tongue at him. "You have a nice cock, okay?"

Alucard would have fallen over if Trevor hadn't been weighing him down. As it was, his eyes went wide. He pitched forward and let out a choked noise. "Oh. You mean, uhh-"

"Sexual service. Yeah," Trevor said. He laughed. "What, did you think I was getting off on cleaning?"

"I don't know anymore," Alucard said. He raised his head slightly. "I don't- I'm not human. I don't understand sex. It doesn't work, for me, the same way."

"But you liked Sypha domming you?"

"Yes."

"Did you enjoy when I sucked you off?" Trevor asked.

Alucard shuddered and nodded.

"Then you're human enough," Trevor said, "You don't have to be into everything, or into what you think normal people are into. Fuck-- clearly Sypha and I aren't. It's fine."

"But I'm not sure I can even, umm, climax without-" Alucard started. He sighed. He put a hand on Trevor's chest. "Without biting."

Trevor grinned. "That sounds like a challenge. Can I get between yours legs again?"

Alucard fell back and leaned his head on the back of the sofa. He felt a dull, steady throbbing build between his legs, and wondered if Trevor could feel it to. He looked down. Trevor smirked at him. He wiggled into Alucard's lap.

Alucard felt the small motion of his spine. A muscle below his stomach cinched and his cock stiffened. He considered Trevor. "Mean."

"Bratty, actually," Trevor said. His eyes glittered and he allowed himself one more wiggle before he sat still. "That's something else I'm into. Being a bit of an ass and getting punished for it."

Alucard tilted his head. "Should I punish you, then?"

"Sorry. That's Sypha's job," Trevor said.

"Ah," Alucard said. He felt like a murky framework of their relationship was finally coming into focus for him.

"Besides, I have to assume that you're still sore."

"A little," Alucard said. Trevor's teasing was reminding him that he hadn't entirely recovered. "But I am still amenable to- whatever games you want to play."

Trevor wrinkled his nose. "We did what I wanted last time. How about you tell me what you'd like?"

"Me?"

Trevor stuck out his lower lip. "Please?"

"I want you naked," Alucard said.

Trevor grimaced. He sat up.

"Trevor?" Alucard asked. What had he done wrong now?

"Yeah. Okay-- no, that's fair," Trevor said. He shook out his shoulders and stood up. "Fuck. I'll strip if that's what you'd like. It just-- it might not be what you expect."

Alucard raised an eyebrow. What was that supposed to mean?

"That's a good thing," he said. Anything he might discover that separated this Trevor from Trevor Belmont, anything that made them different, was going to keep him from going mad.

Trevor turned back to the sofa. He chewed on his lip, considering. Then he ran a hand through his hair. Alucard felt his stomach cinch again. It was a very enticing pose.

"Your room?" He asked. He offered his hand.

"Please," Alucard said. He took it and let Trevor help him up.

Chapter Text

(past)

Alucard paused. He considered the clear plastic device. He looked at Trevor, laying on the bed under him.

Trevor sighed and slipped his briefs the rest of the way off. "So, we were talking about obstacles, right? This could, uhh, be one."

Alucard tapped a finger on the dense, solid plastic covering his cock. He raised an eyebrow.

"It's a chastity device," Trevor said, "Have you never seen one before? I thought they started making these in the dark ages."

The indignant noise Alucard tried to make got caught in the gag. He considered removing it so he could inform Trevor that he had never seen anything like this in his life.

"Sypha has the key. She keeps this on me so I can't, well, play with myself," Trevor said. Then he shook his head. "Well, no. That's the fantasy of it. I know where the key is and I'm allowed to take this off so I can clean myself properly when I shower. Hell, I've had this stupid thing fall off if I'm out in the cold for too long."

Alucard poked it again. He tried to imagine the immense discomfort of wearing something like this, even if you weren't aroused.

"She likes control," he said, "It might be the most important thing for her. It's part of why she's struggled so much with having you around, I think. She likes- ow! Hey- be careful. That's me you're tugging on."

Alucard looked over. He had taken the cage in hand and pulled on it. Now he saw the way it attached around Trevor's balls. He grimaced and let go.

"So, yeah. If I seem a little squeamish about getting intimate, especially down there, or I don't seem into something. That's why. Most of the time. I'm just kinda owned, I guess."

Alucard blinked. He remembered when he'd ground his ass into Trevor and felt him recoil. Now, he finally understood why.

"I like being owned," Trevor said. He shrugged. "And believe me. If this thing wasn't on me, I would use you in all kinds of ways."

Alucard draped his head on Trevor's stomach and met his eyes, both eyebrows raised, asking.

"I mean, shit. Guess oral's out of the question. And I don't-- anal can be a lot, if you don't have much experience. I dunno. Maybe I'd hump your cute ass? That'd be fun."

Alucard twisted around and looked at his own rear, double checking that Trevor was referring to the same round, but small, ass he remembered having.

Trevor chuckled. He brought down a hand and rested it on Alucard's cheeks. He pushed Alucard forward, and Alucard fell until his head was pressed to his neck. The gag was a blessing, even with all the discomfort and inconvenience such a thing implied.

A strong, warm hand swatted Alucard's ass. He squeaked and raised his head.

"Seriously though. I don't know what to do with how cute you are."

Alucard rolled his eyes.

"But hey. It's your party this time. Go ahead, I'll tell you if you need to stop," Trevor said. He gave Alucard's ass a last squeeze and then lifted his hands up and wove them behind his head.

He was making himself vulnerable for him. Alucard shuddered, pressed his face to Trevor's neck for one more, wonderful moment, and picked himself up. He got onto his hands and knees.

He blinked. For the first time, Alucard felt like he was in bed with a stranger. This wasn't Trevor Belmont. He was cleaner. The dark hair at his armpits and stomach had been trimmed short. This were concessions to personal hygiene that Belmont never would have made. His skin was darker, and had a warmer tone than he remembered. Especially now, in the diffuse early spring light coming in through the blinds, Alucard could clearly see the green in his eyes.

Alucard froze. This wasn't Trevor. He had known that, of course. That had been one of the first things he had tried to determine, because it couldn't have been Trevor. Trevor Belmont was long dead and gone. And the man lying underneath him was not a double or a curse or a reincarnation- he was simply someone else. He merely resembled the ghost of a man Alucard had known.

"Bat boy?" the stranger asked.

Alucard blinked. Finally, he could see him without Trevor Belmont's shadow obscuring him. He shivered. He was different. And he was perfect.

Alucard leaned in. He pressed his forehead to Trevor's diaphragm and sobbed into the gag.

"Shit. Uhh, you okay?" Trevor asked. He shifted. Those strong, wonderful hands reached up and brushed Alucard's back.

Alucard nodded. This was not a second chance. It was a new beginning, and he would start again. Right now. He lifted himself from Trevor's chest and brought a shaking hand forward to trace a scar running up his forearm.

"Oh, that? Small disagreement with a capra demon," Trevor said.

Alucard brushed his upper lip to the pale thread of skin in the closest thing he could manage to a kiss. What must it be like, to bear permanent scars on your body, to have your history written on your skin? He couldn't imagine it. Even the wound from Dracula, that he had once worn on the center of his chest like a mark of shame, had faded eventually.

To understand Trevor's body was to understand his story. He found more scars, in a very different pattern from what Belmont had worn. Trevor had slashing and gouging marks on his chest, and strange whorls in his skin that suggested burns. He'd been doing this, he explained, since he was fifteen and had been old enough to follow his mom on her hunts through the woods.

Alucard tilted his head.

Trevor gulped. "Maybe ask someday when I'm not naked and in bed with you."

Alucard chuckled. He put his hands on Trevor's chest and ran them down his side to his hips. He wanted so badly to start there; to roll Trevor over and see if his own body remembered how to fuck. He let himself consider that terrifying possibility for a moment.

Then Alucard sidled the rest of the way down. He reached Trevor's feet. If he wanted to know every inch of him, it made sense to start at the bottom. He let himself begin again, exploring the hardened calluses on the balls of Trevor's feet with his fingers. He used one finger to encircle the knob of his ankle. Then Alucard sighed into the gag and pressed his cheek to the inside of Trevor's calves. He felt the subtle flow of blood under his skin, the ripple of muscle as he shifted slightly. He was tangible, solid, real. He was delectable.

Alucard let his lips graze the soft inside of his knee.

Trevor moaned. He fidgeted as Alucard's light touches tickled him. He sighed. He shivered. But Alucard didn't stop until he heard him sniff. He froze and looked up.

He wasn't crying. But his eyes were overbright when he met Alucard's gaze. Alucard raised an eyebrow. He lifted himself from between Trevor's knees.

"Shit. Am-- am I really worth all of that?" Trevor asked.

Alucard stared at him. He waited a full three seconds, and then nodded.

"Never been worshiped before. I don't think I realized- fuck." He dabbed his eyes and chuckled. "What is it about you? I swear I don't cry this much. Honest. It's just-"

He leaned forward and hooked a hand behind Alucard's neck. He brought his face close and gulped.

"You make me feel special. Like my body's worth something."

He pulled Alucard in and brushed their lips together.

Alucard gasped. He sank into the kiss before he could put a name to what they were doing. He put his hands on Trevor's shoulders and felt the soft press of Trevor's lips- the edge of wetness, the chapped texture, the itch of stubble. In some tiny way, he could taste him.

Trevor's lip twitched. He leaned back. "This is weird with the gag."

Alucard sighed.

"Do you want to take it off?"

Alucard shook his head.

"Is it easier, with it on?" Trevor asked.

Alucard nodded.

Trevor reached up a hand. He held the side of Alucard's face. "Can I try again?"

Alucard gave another, tiny nod.

Trevor leaned in. He nibbled Alucard's lower lip. He tugged. Alucard closed his eyes, Trevor's teeth were a gentle press to his lips. He was warm, and Alucard felt his breath on his chin.

"Fuck, you taste good," Trevor said.

Alucard snorted into the gag. He was the one who tasted good? That was easily the most absurd thing he'd ever heard.

 

The next week finally got them into the start of spring, the tail end of flu season, and through the last of Sypha's twenty four hour shifts. His anger faded, Trevor decided he wanted Sypha to find the house spotless when she, in his words, "Got to go back to being a person."

Alucard wasn't sure he understood. But he chipped in readily enough once he was able to walk again. They scrubbed the kitchen and bathroom. Alucard did the laundry and noticed that the basement had warmed up. Trevor got him back upstairs and introduced him to a terrifying, loud cleaning appliance called a vacuum.

The cleaning done, Alucard had to convince Trevor not to wait up for her return. Sypha had said she wouldn't be back till midnight at the earliest. Alucard had to remind Trevor that Sypha would rather have breakfast in the morning than have him stay up. Trevor had grumbled off to brush his teeth and go to bed.

Alucard, of course, had no such obligations. He lay in bed in his room, listening. He knew Sypha took the bus most days- whatever a bus was. But sometimes, if it was very late, she'd take a special car called a taxi home instead. Alucard checked the clock. It was 2 am, late indeed.

At 2:07, he heard the crunch of rubber tires on cement. Distant, weary footsteps. A key slid across metal three times before finally grinding into a lock. He listened as Sypha closed the door behind her, stepped out of her shoes, and started down the hall.

The footsteps paused.

Alucard raised his head. Sypha had stopped in front of his door. He raised an eyebrow. He heard her rifling through her purse.

Alucard sat up. "Sypha?"

"Shit," Sypha swore. Something thumped to the ground. Alucard heard metal jingle, and the sound of small objects rolling across the floor.

"Alucard. I didn't mean to wake you."

Alucard carefully gripped the handle and eased the door open. He shook the tingling from the wards off his fingers. "And I didn't mean to scare you," he said. He wondered if Sypha could hear the amusement in his voice. She was stooped over, trying to return the spilled contents to her purse.

A plastic container rolled past Alucard's foot. He picked it up.

Sypha slung her bag back over her shoulder. "You didn't scare me. I was just-- surprised. Did I wake you?"

"Can't sleep," Alucard said.

"Bad dreams?" Sypha asked.

"What? No. I can't sleep in a bed."

Sypha blinked. "Is it too soft, or-?"

"I only sleep in coffins, Sypha."

"What?" Sypha hissed. She went visibly pale even in the reduced light. "You-- you can't?"

Alucard realized he hadn't told her. He nodded.

"So, you haven't slept in--"

"Two hundred and seventy three days," Alucard said. By his count, Trevor had found him one hundred and forty days ago, and before that, he had risen from a dilapidated coffin and prowled the woods for almost as long.

"That's impossible," Sypha said, "You need to sleep. Every living organism needs to sleep."

"I'm not, not entirely living," Alucard said.

Sypha shook her head. "That's-- that's insane."

"R-really? That's what shocks you?" Alucard said. He gestured vaguely at his face, as though to point out his gold eyes and grey skin.

"None of it makes sense, medically," Sypha said. Her shoulders slumped. She suddenly looked very tired, and Alucard remembered how early it was.

"Here," Alucard said. He cautiously offered the dropped container, holding just the lid so his hand wouldn't get caught in the ward.

"Oh, that's for you, actually," Sypha said, "I was just dropping it off."

"For me?" Alucard asked. He lifted the container into view and it rattled. He inspected the label. The words were long, but one caught his eye. Ferrous. He paused. The smattering of latin he remembered came back to him. "Is, is this iron?"

Sypha's nod was almost approving. "Ten milligram capsules. I want you to take two of these every morning."

Alucard unscrewed the lid and looked into the bottle. There were small, grey tablets inside. "Take these?"

"Swallow them," Sypha said.

"You want me to eat metal?" Alucard asked.

"I mean, yes, technically," Sypha said, "Iron is one of the main components of hemoglobin."

"Meaning?"

"It's part of blood," Sypha said, "It's part of blood, and I want you to take these and tell me if you notice any changes with your thirst, or how you're feeling."

Alucard shook the container and heard all of the tiny pills rattle. "These will replace blood?"

Sypha sighed. "I doubt it. But if we can figure out what if it that your body needs from blood and replace it, I mean, that should help you deal with your thirst, right?"

"M-maybe?" Alucard said.

"This was the simplest place to start," Sypha said.

Alucard set the cap back on the container, considering. She was trying to help. If his thirst could be satiated with anything other than blood- even if something could just take the edge off- that would be an enormous revelation. It would be life changing for him. He thought back to his own failed attempts to curb his thirst with animal blood, and how little it had mattered.

"I guess you could call this another test," Sypha said, "I want to see exactly what your body needs."

Alucard gulped. "Thank you, Sypha."

Sypha blinked. "No problem. Uhh, goodnight?"

"Goodnight."

 

Despite his misgivings, Alucard gave it his best effort the next morning. It didn't go well.

"Here," Trevor said. He set the last of his breakfast aside and got Alucard a glass of water.

Alucard accepted the glass with a small thanks. He didn't look up at Trevor- he was focused on setting two grey pills onto the table. They were smaller than his pinky nail. In theory, such things should be easy to ingest. But all of Alucard's past experiences with solid food had been unpleasant.

"So you never swallowed before?" Trevor asked.

Alucard looked up. Trevor chuckled to himself.

"You going to explain that joke, pet?"

Alucard turned his head. Sypha walked through the archway. There were still heavy shadows under her eyes, and half of her hair stood on end. She yawned and settled on the stool beside Alucard.

"Do I gotta, Miss?"

Alucard considered Trevor's smirk and Sypha's tired glare. "Is that a sex thing?"

Trevor grinned. "See? He figured it out."

"It's too early for this," Sypha said. She pointed in the direction of the kettle.

"Fine," Trevor said. He brought her coffee. Then he leaned over the counter and kissed her forehead.

Alucard looked down. He was definitely intruding right now. He picked up the tiny pills and popped them into his mouth. Was there something familiar about the chalky taste they left on his tongue? His stomach growled. Could this actually work?

Alucard tapped his fingers to the glass. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, steeling himself. The cold cup felt reassuring and solid in his hands. He brought it to his lips and gulped down a tiny amount of water.

Something hit the back of Alucard's throat. He gagged, and felt a tablet fall back onto his tongue. Water dribbled from the corners of his mouth. He shuddered.

If it helped with his thirst, this was worth it.

Alucard took another, larger drink of water. This time, the tablet went down. He set the glass aside and wiped the drops from his lips.

When he looked up, he found both Trevor and Sypha watching him.

Alucard cleared his throat. "What?"

"That looked-- deeply uncomfortable," Trevor said, "Are you okay?"

Alucard felt his stomach slosh. He grimaced. "We'll find out."

"Whether you can keep it all down, you mean?" Sypha asked.

Alucard nodded.

Nausea hit a half hour later like a blow to the stomach. Alucard winced. He felt the telltale twinge at the back of his throat. He stood up.

"Bat boy?"

He didn't dare open his mouth to answer. He pointed to the bathroom and started that way, one hand on his sloshing stomach, one clasped over his mouth. He made it halfway before doubling over. He groaned and cupped his hands in front of his mouth. He wretched once- twice.

A warm pair of hands reached in and gently pulled his hair away from his face.

A very different, rusty shade of red obscured Alucard's vision. His stomach heaved, and then shriveled like a trampled bag. Bile clawed up his throat, leaving a hollow emptiness in his stomach and a terrible taste in his mouth.

Alucard threw up into his hands. Disgusting, congealed blood oozed from his mouth. There wasn't much in his stomach. But he tasted rusty, solid chunks and clumps of mucus. It dripped from between his fingers. He whimpered.

"Dear god," Sypha said, "Is that what's in your stomach?"

Alucard raised his head. That was neither the voice, nor the tone, he'd expected. He rasped, "N-not anymore."

Sypha knelt next to him, cautiously holding his hair. She grimaced. "You knew this would happen, didn't you?"

"Maybe," Alucard said.

Sypha gave a very small smile. "And you went along with it anyway?"

"Can't blame him," Trevor said. He appeared like a ballast and a guardian angel. He slid a bowl under Alucard's hands.

Alucard let the bile fall from between his hands. It plopped into the bowl. He looked down at his fingers and shuddered. Most of a grey pill was stuck between the webbing of his fingers. He wrinkled his nose and brushed it off.

Trevor clicked his tongue sympathetically. "Sorry. I was about three seconds too late with the bowl."

"Is okay," Alucard said. He took a deep breath. He was shivering again. His stomach complained and made a funny gurgle. He hurt.

He got his feet back under him and rose shakily, leaning against the wall and using his elbow for purchase. He didn't want to touch anything with his hands, which were covered in old, brown blood and thick black chunks. He made it half a step before slumping back down.

"Do you need help?" Trevor asked.

Alucard caught himself with his hands and grimaced as he felt blood smear. He shuddered. "Y-yes please."

"Here," Trevor said. He got Alucard a wet paper towel.

Alucard took the towel and wrung his hands clean. He looked over.

Sypha was still nearby. She was looking into the bowl. Her face was blank, as though she was simply examining its contents. "You've lived with this body and it's limitations for hundreds of years and I came in with a half-thought out guess for what might work. And you humored me anyway," she said.

"You s-sounded so certain," Alucard rasped. He felt what remained in his mouth caking in place.

Sypha sighed. "I keep thinking I understand. I'm sorry."

Alucard raised his head.

"You really are that scared of me, aren't you?" Sypha asked.

"Course he is," Trevor said. He sank to his knees next to Alucard again, and offered him a glass of water. "Sweetheart, you've terrifying."

Alucard looked wearily at the glass. "Why would I-?"

"Just swirl it in your mouth," Trevor said, "You don't have to drink it."

Alucard took a gulp and cleaned the taste from his mouth. He spat into the bowl. Then he reached for Trevor's hand.

Trevor helped him up. Alucard swayed slightly on his feet, and then stabilized. He started for the bathroom. He cleaned off his hands with water and the bottle of yellow fluid at the sink that Trevor had called soap. Then he put his head in his hands and leaned onto the tile, shivering. It had been a long time since he had thrown up. He'd forgotten how unpleasant it was.

"This was a mistake," Sypha said.

Her voice was close by, and Alucard guessed that she had followed him into the bathroom. She spoke with an edge of bitterness.

Alucard sighed. He spat the lingering taste of bile from his mouth and called out, "No. It wasn't."

"You sure about that?" Trevor called from the hallway, "You really don't need to humor her like this."

Alucard stood up. He nodded. "You have knowledge that- that I don't. Human blood should be replaceable, but it can't be done with alchemy or magic."

"Knowledge?" Sypha asked. She tilted her head. "You mean my medical degree?"

"Yes?"

Sypha shrugged. "I know what blood is from a chemical perspective. I know what it does in the body. That doesn't mean I understand why you need it. Hell, I have no idea what your GI tract must be like, if you vomited that fast."

Alucard leaned against the sink. He wrapped his arms around his stomach. It had settled, but he still felt water moving through his body that he'd have to rid himself of later. "But you have ways to find out."

"Maybe," Sypha said.

"I mean, isn't this probably all magical bullshit?" Trevor asked. He had grabbed a rag and was cleaning up whatever had dripped from Alucard's fingers in the hall. "Like how you don't age, or get sick? Like how sunlight and silver hurt you?"

"Even if it is," Alucard said, "This is worth doing. But-"

"But?" Sypha asked.

"Can we try liquid iron, instead?"

Sypha blinked. "That's a good idea."

"Thanks," Alucard said dryly.

"Isn't it great, how she speaks with that note of surprise?" Trevor said.

Sypha didn't even turn her head. She simply brought her hand back and flipped him off.

Alucard raised an eyebrow. "Aren't you going to punish him?"

Sypha rolled her eyes. "That would be giving him what he wants."

"Ah."

"Actually," Trevor said. He stood up, holding the rag a safe distance away from his body. "I want us to negotiate. Like-- properly. Bat boy, let's get you a safeword and some limits before Sypha inflicts any more horrible stuff on you."

Sypha sighed. "Does it have to be now?"

"We can't put it off anymore."

"Would be nice," Alucard said quietly, "To have that."

Sypha looked between them. She chewed on her lip. "Can-- Can I brush out my hair and change first?"

Alucard realized both she and Trevor were waiting on his response. He nodded. "Of course."

"Cool. Give me fifteen minutes. We can do this."

Chapter Text

(past)

It was easier and more comfortable this time. He lay in Trevor's arms, and Trevor ran his hands slowly through his hair.

"Is this okay?"

Alucard nodded and pressed himself into Trevor's chest.

"Do you want me to do the talking?"

Alucard looked up at him. His lip twitched. "G-going to keep making an ass of yourself?"

"Look," Trevor said. He grinned. "It comes naturally to me."

Alucard shook his head. "I'll talk to her. But if I miss something, would you chime in?"

"Sure."

Alucard raised his head when he heard the bedroom door open. Sypha paused in the archway. She looked down at Trevor and Alucard, together on the sofa. She sighed, and for a moment Alucard was sure she was about to accuse them.

Alucard held absolutely still, watching her. This was too much. There was no way that they could pass this off as just some attempt at comfort, or keeping him warm. He waited for her outrage, for the last, inevitable accusation that would send this lovely, comfortable dream crumbling into nothing.

Instead, she grinned. "You two are adorable."

Trevor stuck out his tongue at her.

Alucard gaped at her. "You permit this?"

Sypha's brows pressed together. "Permit what?"

"That we've been, umm," Alucard started. He gestured at Trevor's arm, now holding his waist. "Is this-?"

"Oh," Sypha said. She blinked. "Trevor, you didn't tell him?"

"Oh shit. No wonder you're terrified," Trevor said. He squeezed Alucard tightly. "I'm allowed to play with you. With other people in general, actually."

"P-play with?" Alucard rasped. Trevor was pressing hard on his tender stomach.

"Cuddle. Romance. Date. Fuck."

"Really?" Alucard said. He stared at Sypha.

Sypha shrugged. "I live a busy life. Just cause I don't have time for wild sexual adventures doesn't mean he can't."

Alucard gulped. He wondered vaguely if he qualified as a wild, sexual adventure. That sounded exhausting. His stomach ached.

Trevor put his lips to Alucard's ear, "She's known from pretty early on, bat boy. It's okay. You haven't done anything wrong."

"We really need to get better about communication," Sypha said. She shook her head, got to the kitchen, poured herself a glass of water, and settled in the armchair. "Okay. Safeword. Limits. What else do we need to talk about?"

Alucard sat up. He cleared his throat. "There are somethings. That I'd like to ask for."

"Alright. Let's talk," Sypha said, "Trevor, did you explain what a safeword is?"

"Uhh. Shit, did I?"

"Yes," Alucard said, "It's- it makes something stop."

"Alright. So you have a basic idea."

Alucard nodded. "So I could say, umm-" He blinked. Suddenly every word he knew escaped his mind, and his tongue felt leaden and unwieldy in his mouth.

"Barbell?" Trevor asked, "That's mine."

Alucard looked over at him. "What's a barbell?"

"How about something simple?" Sypha offered.

"Simple?" Alucard asked.

"Like 'no', or 'stop'. Basically, if you can give me any indication that something is wrong, I'll stop and check in."

Alucard felt a weight come off his shoulders. He nodded. "Much easier."

"Alright. But what if you got him gagged?" Trevor asked, "That's gonna be a bit of a problem."

"I could bring my hands forward, like last time. Or shake my head?"

"Shake your head," Sypha said, "I, uhh, might want to bind your wrists."

Alucard shivered. "O-of course."

"No. Stop. Shake your head," Trevor said, "That's a start, at least." He reached over and rested a hand on Alucard's shoulder. "Have you thought about limits at all?"

Alucard nodded. He tapped his scalp. "Hair."

Sypha smiled wearily. "Got that one. What else?"

"Silver, sunlight, garlic."

"What kind of kinky shit would we be doing with gar-" Trevor started.

Sypha gave him a look. Then she turned to Alucard. "So garlic actually, like, works? Smeared on lintels? Hung in wreaths around a room?"

Alucard gulped. He realized they hadn't talked about this. In fact, he had avoided any conversation of his weaknesses in fear that he would make himself more vulnerable. Could he trust them now, to be gentle with him?

Well, no. He didn't want gentleness. He just needed to make sure they hurt him in the right ways.

"It burns, to touch," he said, "And the smell is-- unpleasant."

"Fascinating," Sypha said, "It never occurred to me, that garlic might actually do anything. I wonder if we could try that as a ward, or a tranquilizer."

"A ward, maybe. Not, not in a dart. You'd just make a vampire very angry," Alucard said.

"Is it just vampires? Or would this work on demons too?" Sypha asked.

"Just us," Alucard said, "A, uhh, demon wouldn't- garlic does nothing."

Sypha leaned back, considering the implications. She chewed on her lip.

Trevor cleared his throat. "Uhh, guys? Just for once, could we figure out ways to make bat boy's life better, not worse? For the sheer novelty of it?"

Sypha shook herself. "Right. Sorry. Limits."

"Limits," Alucard agreed. He sighed. "I'm not sure what else." He leaned back and felt his stomach rattling, empty. That wasn't a good sign. He would be ravenous by this time tomorrow, and Sypha's cycle didn't start for another four days. "Don't break my skin, or let me bleed."

"Those all seem practical and reasonable," Sypha said, "What about things you'd dislike?"

Alucard tilted his head to one side, considering.

"Hey. This isn't always something you're banning forever," Trevor said, "It's okay to guess. I mean, I know you don't have a lot of experience."

Alucard heard the amusement in his voice. He rolled his eyes. "I have some."

"Trevor, I swear," Sypha said, "I'm going to slap you."

Trevor gave her a dreamy smile. "That a promise, Miss?"

"It will be if you keep this up, pet," Sypha snapped back

"P-punishment."

They both looked over at him. Alucard wrapped his arms around himself. "Don't punish me. Please."

"Alright," Sypha said, "That's a good one."

"Don't put anything in my mouth. Don't make me eat anything."

"Makes sense."

"And please don't take me out in p-public."

Sypha raised an eyebrow. "How do you mean?"

Alucard sighed. "You've helped me stay hidden. And I'm grateful. And, and maybe someday I'll fit in with the world again. But not yet."

"Oh," Sypha said. She shook her head. "Have you been worried about that too? We're not going to expose you to anyone."

Alucard nodded. "Thank you."

"Can I add something?" Trevor said.

"Of course."

Trevor cleared his throat. His face was slightly red. "Piss. Scat."

"Trevor, I wouldn't-"

"I know, I know," Trevor said. He helped up both hands, "But I thought it would be good to just make sure."

Alucard looked back at him. "What does w-waste have to do with-"

Trevor put his head in his hands. "Please don't make me explain this."

"It's a sex thing?" Alucard asked.

Trevor nodded into his fingers. "Yeah."

Alucard shuddered.

"Okay," Sypha said in a businesslike way. She held up her hands and started raising fingers. "Hair pulling. Anything that breaks the skin. Silver, garlic, sunlight, punishment, out in public, and-- everything that Trevor just mentioned."

"And making him eat anything," Trevor said.

"And that," Sypha said. She held up nine fingers. It felt excessive to Alucard, like he had asked for too much.

"It's a start," Trevor said. He leaned over and put his hand on Alucard's back. "How does that feel, Alucard?"

Alucard sank back into him. He nodded. "F-feels better."

"You said there are things that you want?" Sypha asked, "Can I hear them?"

Alucard sighed. Right now, all he wanted to do was twist around and embrace Trevor. He felt empty and exhausted. But he had managed this so far. Sypha hadn't yelled at him. This was as good of a chance as he would get.

He started with the smallest request. "Curtains in my room?"

Trevor sucked in a breath behind him. "Shit. Have we been burning you?"

"No," Alucard said. He shook his head. "It's been-- fine. But it's getting sunnier and I can't really sit at the desk, anymore."

"Fuck," Trevor said.

Sypha put her head in her hands. "I thought we were finally doing better."

"You are," Alucard said, "This is so much better, and I appreciate it. It's just- little things."

"I can fix this today," Trevor said, "A cloth and some duct tape will do it, at least until we hunt down something. Sypha, is that okay?"

"Of course. Of course. You don't need my permission for stuff like this. And, Alucard?"

Alucard wearily looked over at her.

"Please tell us. Even if it's something small that's making you uncomfortable. Let Trevor know, if you don't want to tell me."

"Okay," Alucard said.

Trevor lifted the hair from the back of his neck and kissed him. That gave Alucard some confidence. He could do this. He took a deep breath and willed himself to speak without stuttering. "Do I, uhh, have to stay in the bedroom, at night?"

"That room gets pretty small after a few hours, doesn't it?" Trevor asked. He rested his hands on Alucard's back. The pressure was reassuring. It helped Alucard notice that he was shivering. He was cold, and he felt the water he had drank flowing uncomfortably down.

Sypha stood up and moved to the couch. She sat on Alucard's other side. She offered him her hands.

Alucard set his hands in hers. Sypha held them, and the warmth from her fingers was a relief to his aching joints.

"I don't mind if you're out at night," Sypha said, "But-"

She switched her grip and grabbed Alucard's wrists. She pinned one of his hands to the back of the couch. She held the other to his chest.

In another mood, Alucard could have broken out easily. Her grip was wrong-- she'd set her fingers between his bony wrist and the backboard. It would be a simple matter of slamming her hand into the upholstered wood, wrenching himself free, and then wiggling out of her weak grip on his other wrist. But he felt restrained, and his body responded accordingly. He stared up at her and swallowed hard. His mouth was suddenly dry.

Sypha pushed him back into Trevor's hold. She smiled and squeezed his wrists. "You have to stay quiet. If you wake me up, I will be very cross."

"I won't wake you."

"Good boy," Sypha said. She leaned over and kissed his forehead. Then she let him go.

Alucard blinked. He reached up to the place where her lips had brushed his skin. He felt a tingling radiating from his skin, like he'd somehow pressed just his forehead to the holy ward.

"So, no turning on the TV then," Trevor said, "What are you going to do out here?"

Alucard grimaced at the idea of trying to operate the television on his own. He pointed past it, to Sypha's study. "Magic stuff. And I want to take on some cleaning."

Trevor shook his head. "How fucking bored have you been that you want to clean?"

Alucard chuckled. It wasn't boredom exactly. He had surprised Trevor yesterday by putting away the dishes while he'd been out. Trevor had returned, laughed, and hugged him. He liked surprising him. He liked lightening burdens for Trevor.

"Want to help," he said.

"You can handle the responsibility?" Sypha asked.

Alucard rolled his eyes. "I can."

"You're sweet," Trevor said. He wrapped his arms around Alucard and squeezed him into a hug.

Alucard allowed himself one minute to fall back into Trevor's hold. It was luxurious. He was warm. The beating of his heart and the feel of his breath on Alucard's skin helped steady him. He hurt, and he felt thirst approaching like an imminent storm, but Trevor was here. Trevor thought he was sweet.

Alucard braced himself. He decided to push his luck. "I'd also like to go outside."

Sypha sucked in a breath, and Trevor tensed up behind him. Alucard ducked his head. He considered his own, clasped hands instead of looking at either of them. "Just for a couple hours. At night. I wouldn't go far. Nowhere to go. I just-- miss it."

After a moment, Sypha sighed. "You realize we're in the middle of town, right? Even if it's 3 am, there will still be people out. And I don't know how you'd get back inside if you can't knock on the door."

Alucard curled in on himself. "Just th-thought I'd ask."

"Where do you want to go?" Trevor asked.

Alucard shook his head. "It isn't reasonable. You're right. Too, too many people."

"Alucard? Where do you want to go? I have a car. We can do a night drive."

"Drive?" Alcuard asked. He gulped. "In a car?"

"Well, yeah? How else would we do it?"

Alucard started to answer, and then he stopped himself. He had always relied on his wolf form for long travel. It was swift and tireless. His misadventures among humans had been so long ago that they had involved wagons. Neither option was available to him now.

Alucard remembered the first time he had risen from his crypt and wandered, following the heavy smell of smoke he associated with humans. His feet had struck a hard, black surface running through the forest that he would only identify later as concrete. And then he had heard it- a distant, but fast approaching roar- and seen two lights closing in on him like heaven's own judgement.

Alucard had stared, trying to understand the sleek machine he could glimpse behind the headlights. He'd heard a screech and turned to mist at the last moment, feeling the ghost of metal hit his incorporeal knees.

He'd reformed in a tree and watched two humans clamber out. They had sworn and searched the side of the road, questioning what they'd seen. An animal? A man? A ghost?

Each of those had been a part of the truth. He snarled and descended on them as they stepped off the road.

He wasn't that monster anymore. He couldn't be. But his stomach gave an uncomfortable churn, reminding him that all too soon, thirst was going to close in around him like a vice. Those instincts would be harder to control. He barely heard Sypha and Trevor arguing over him.

"Look. I'll bring all my usual gear. He'll still have the collar on. I'll be safe."

"I don't like it, Trevor. What if you crash, or injure yourself, and he goes feral?"

"Sypha, at some point you're gonna have to trust him. And me."

Alucard sighed. He pressed himself deeper into Trevor's hold.

"Uhh, bat boy?"

"Sorry," Alucard said. He shook himself free of the memory. "Yes. Car makes sense. The forest, would be nice."

"Come on, Sypha. He's more than earned it."

"It isn't about that," Sypha said. She chewed on her lip. "Trevor, I wouldn't let you hang around your old bars. This is-- it's enabling."

Alucard looked back at her. "We can bring the gag. I'll stay right with him. Don't have anywhere else. This is the closest I've had to a home in-"

Well, he wasn't entirely sure. They had both been homeless, him and Belmont. He'd spent centuries now relying on his mist form to hide in other people's coffins.

"Come on, Sypha. He'll go nuts if he's stuck in this house forever."

"Okay," Sypha said. She put up her hands, relenting. "Go. Have your adventure. Drive safe, don't do anything stupid. I expect you back before I leave for work tomorrow."

"T-tomorrow?!" Alucard asked. He pushed himself upright and stared. "Wait. We're doing this now?"

"I mean, you made it sound pretty important. Don't see why we'd wait," Trevor said.

Alucard looked back at him. "You can't be near me."

"I can't? Why the fuck not?"

As though on cue, Alucard's stomach gave another, stronger churn. He held it and spoke through gritted teeth. "I'm going to, to be ravenous."

"What?" Sypha asked, "Why?"

 

Alucard wrinkled his nose. "Reserves gone."

Sypha raised an eyebrow. But Trevor swore. "Shit. You threw them up, you mean?"

Alucard nodded.

Sypha groaned. "I never thought that supplements would be such a problem."

"Y-you couldn't have known."

"She could have fucking asked. But, wait. That would have involved a bit of trust."

"Haven't earned it," Alucard muttered.

"Yes you have," Trevor said. He glared over him at Sypha. "He's been good- and damned useful besides."

"Trevor, I agree," Sypha said. She sighed. "I agree. I want to be fair. But your safety comes first."

"She's right," Alucard said.

Trevor glared from one of them to the other. Then he folded his arms and leaned back against the sofa.

"So in spite of all of this, and everything we just negotiated, you're still going to have to stay in your room for-- what?" Trevor asked, "How fucking long?"

Sypha checked her phone and grimaced. "Four days."

Alucard nodded. He'd expected that. "Unless, umm-"

Trevor looked over at him. He tilted his head and pursed his lips. "We've got perfectly good blood supplies here, don't we?"

"What do you mean?" Sypha asked. She stared at him.

Trevor jabbed a thumb at himself.

"What? Trevor, no! Absolutely not. The whole point is that he's not biting people anymore."

"Wouldn't have to bite," Trevor said. His voice turned low and dark. "You've got a syringe in your med kit, right? Just stick me. Bat boy, how much would you need?"

"We're not doing this. He doesn't need blood. He's never going to get clean if--"

"Bullshit. It's not like my drinking, Sypha. He can't quit. And he didn't need your little experiment with the pills either. I'm just trying to fix it."

"S-stop," Alucard stammered.

Sypha paused. She turned to him immediately. Trevor gave himself a little shake. "Alucard?"

Alucard looked back at him. He sighed. Throwing his arms around Trevor, he squeezed him as tightly as he could. Perhaps it wasn't so terrible, being deprived of his strength. He could cling to Trevor as hard as he needed to.

"Don't," he said, "I can't- I can't crave you more. Than I already do."

"You'd rather be miserable?" Trevor asked.

Alucard nodded.

Trevor returned the hug. Then he let Alucard go and gave him a small smile. "You know, in any other context, that would have sounded all romantic and shit."

"Alucard?" Sypha asked, "What were you trying to suggest, before Trevor volunteered himself?"

Alucard pointed vaguely at the fridge. A refrigerator, to him, was a magical device absurdly confined to merely keeping food fresh. "If we just had a little blood. Between months. In case."

"In case Sypha finds any other creative ways to hurt you?" Trevor said.

Sypha wrinkled her nose. "I mean, I guess I can keep a tampon in the freezer. But that means you're getting slightly less this time. Is that okay?"

Alucard nodded. Then he grimaced and stood up.

"Bat boy?" Trevor asked, "Do you have to leave already?"

"I'll be back. Just-- bathroom," Alucard muttered. He started towards the hall, hoping he could figure out how to use the toilet on his own. It had seemed intuitive enough.

"Actually, before you do that."

Alucard paused. He turned and looked back into the livingroom. Sypha was still sitting on the sofa, but she'd leaned forward. She cleared her throat. "I want a urine sample from you. Blood too, if you'll let me."

"Sypha?" Trevor said. He sat up and stared at her. "What the ever-loving fuck do you need that for?"

Alucard didn't say it, but he gave Sypha a look that he hoped conveyed the same.

Sypha went pink. But she met Alucard's glare, and then looked at Trevor. "I want to get him tested."

Alucard blinked. "More tests?"

"Tested?" Trevor asked blankly.

Sypha gritted her teeth. "For STI's, Trevor."

"What? He doesn't get sick."

"I know. That's the point. Trevor, think about it. Think about all of the bloodborne pathogens he's ingested."

Trevor blinked.

"I just want to keep you safe."

"Safe from me?" Alucard asked.

"Unbelievable. She's being ridiculous," Trevor grumbled. He flopped back onto the sofa.

"Safe from things in your blood that could make him really sick if you have intercourse," Sypha said.

Alucard's eyes went wide. "I could make him sick?"

"It's fine. I accepted the risk when I-" Trevor started.

Alucard strode back. He put his hands on Trevor's shoulders and stared at him. "I could have made you sick?"

Trevor gulped. "I mean, uhh, maybe."

Alucard looked to Sypha. "What do you need me to do?"

Fifteen minutes later, after some awkward explanation and a quick gathering of materials, Sypha had her urine sample. She drew a small amount of blood with a tiny, pointed siphon she called a syringe. Then she put a bandaid on the inside of Alucard's elbow.

"Sorry to take even more," she said.

As though she hadn't already taken everything from him.


 

(present)


Alucard retreated to the edge of the sofa, away from both of them. He was throbbing and overheated from their combined excitement. His cock was still dripping. He looked down.

He was still in the garters. He expected his cock to look obscene surrounded by such feminine trappings. But he liked the way the lace and the straps framed him. The person he had been just a moment ago, predatory, powerful, demanding, deeply feminine, was evaporating like a shadow in the light. He felt like he was sinking into himself again. He was someone else's property. He should change back into boxers.

From nearby, someone moaned. Alucard looked over. Sypha was a resplendent mess sprawled out in front of him. A few beads of sweat dripped from her stomach and forehead. The pink folds of her pussy were still gleaming and throbbing. Her pulse was a fast, but settling, melody.

And then there was poor Trevor. His legs twitched. Alucard had been all too happy to pin his thighs to the couch as he'd thrust into Sypha and grind his ass back to his caged cock after each blissful pass. Sypha was dripping into a small puddle they had left on his stomach. Below that, Trevor's cock was red and swollen, filling the cage to the tip. Alucard wasn't sure Sypha would be able to get it off of him when he was so worked up. But based on how she had moved her hand up to his cheek and was gently teasing him, he guessed she was going to try.

Tissues, then. He'd grab a change of clothes, and tissues to clean up, and then check with Sypha about what else she needed. He stepped back and was halfway through the archway, when Trevor made such a plaintive noise that he paused.

"Does she gotta go away?" he asked.

Alucard turned back around. He put a hand on his chest. "Me?"

Sypha picked herself up. She pushed sweaty hair out of her face and considered him with eyes that were mostly focused. "Would you stay just a little longer? Please? I think the birthday boy's earned an early present."

Trevor made a small, hopeful moan. "Please, Miss?"

And there was something about hearing Trevor call him Miss that made him shiver. Alucard stepped back into the room.

"Very well. Unlock him. I'll be back in, in just a minute."

Sypha grinned. "Yes Miss."

Chapter Text

(past)

Trevor took care of him that evening. He wrapped him in the electric blanket and left his books in easy reach on the bed. He brought in a silver roll of tape and covered the window with a thick cloth.

"Didn't think about it. But I guess you can't really block out the light, just with blinds."

Alucard sighed. Being in complete dark was a relief.

Trevor finished up and sat beside the bed. He looked down at him. "Thirsty yet?"

"It's starting," Alucard said. He held his stomach, trying to ease the feeling of the imp rattling in his chest.

"Is it okay if I'm here?" he asked.

Alucard nodded. "Stay. Please."

"Right here?" Trevor asked, indicating the chair.

Alucard looked up at him. He whispered, "Closer?"

"Alright. Closer," Trevor said. He stood up and stretched. Then he sat on the bed. He took Alucard's hand. "Like this?"

Alucard leaned over and set his head on Trevor's leg. He looked up at him and grinned. "Closer."

Trevor chuckled. "How's this?" He scooted in so that he could lean against the back wall. He lifted Alucard easily by the shoulders, and then propped him onto his stomach

"Nice," Alucard said. He pressed the back of his head to Trevor's chest.

"Can I braid your hair?"

"Yes," Alucard said in a tiny voice.

"So, why the forest?"

Alucard stiffened. He looked over wearily. But it was just Trevor, one hand already carding his hair. He could be honest with Trevor. He needed to be honest with Trevor.

"An old coffin, of mine," Alucard said, "There's something there, that I lost."

Trevor raised an eyebrow.

"A keepsake, from my mother," Alucard said.

"Oh. She was, uhh, the human one, right?"

Alucard snorted.

"Ah, yeah. Guess Dracula was the other one. Huh," Trevor said. He'd gotten Alucard's hair into three distinct sections and brushed his hand over his neck as he arranged the strands evenly. "What was she like, to be into someone like that?"

Alucard turned his head. His lip twitched. "A little like you."

Trevor grimaced. "Don't fucking say that."

"Trevor?"

"I'm not-- look, I know what I am, okay? I'm a pervert and an idiot and twenty years from now I'll be one of those weirdos living out in a cabin in the middle of the woods, shooting anything that comes over my property line. But I'm not- I dunno." He shook his head. "I dunno."

Alucard stared at him. "You're not what?"

"I'm not as gullible as all that," Trevor said.

"N-neither was she," Alucard said, "She- my mother w-was a doctor and a scholar. She hated his darkness and wanted to make it better. She saw him as he was, I think."

"But she still stayed with him, even when things went bad?" Trevor asked.

Alucard sighed. "Things didn't. Not until she died."

Trevor shook his head. A moment of silence fell over them. It was uncomfortable. The plastic on Trevor's crotch dug into Alucard's back, and he shifted, trying to ease it. He wasn't sure where all of this had come from- Trevor's sudden, defensive anger. Was it him? Did he hate himself, for falling for him?

Trevor had gotten half-way through the braid before Alucard figured out how to distract him.

"It's a sword."

Trevor paused. "Come again?"

"The keepsake from her."

"Wait. Alucard? Why the fuck did your mother give you a sword?"

Alucard chewed his lip. He leaned back onto Trevor's chest, not caring if he interfered with the braid. "I didn't know, at the time. I was only eighteen. But now, now I think she knew I'd need to fight."

"She knew he'd go nuts?"

"No, not that," Alucard said. Then he grimaced. "Well, I- I hope not. But she knew I'd be-- like her. Never really fitting into either world.

"So we're going to go find a fucking 15th century sword, is what you're saying? Out in the middle of the woods?"

Alucard gulped. "It would mean a lot. To, to have it again."

"Right then," Trevor said, suddenly business like. He finished the braid, tied it in place, and set it over Alucard's shoulder. "Don't suppose you know the address?"

Alucard wrinkled his nose. "What's an address?"

"Yeah, that's what I figured," Trevor said, "Umm, any nearby landmarks?"

"A river? And a-- some kind of building?"

"That's not a lot to fucking go on," Trevor said.

"I'm sorry."

"Come here," Trevor said. He hugged Alucard and gently kissed his neck. "We'll figure it out. Internet is an amazing thing."

Alucard blinked. "You can- you can find things, on there?"

Trevor chuckled. "I mean, not to get your hopes up or anything. But you can find anything online."

"Show me?" Alucard asked.

"That means getting up to grab my computer."

Alucard nodded. "Might need some space, anyway." He could feel his thirst rising, a suffocating pressure in the back of his throat.

"After you're yourself again, you know we're gonna do way more than just go on a drive, right?" Trevor asked. He leaned forward and brushed his lips to Alucard's ear.

Alucard shivered. "You told Sypha you'd be careful."

"I know, I know. But, after that," Trevor said. He ran his tongue over Alucard's earlobe. Alucard leaned into that. He hadn't expected all of these little touches to feel so lovely. "When we get back home, we should all have some fun."

"H-how so?" Alucard asked. He twisted his head just enough to see Trevor's face.

Trevor set his hand firmly on the side of Alucard's face. He kissed his cheek. "Depends on you, honestly. What do you want, from her and from me?"

Alucard blinked. "Don't know."

"Well, take your time. I'm gonna pull up some maps. Lets see if we can find your crypt."

 

As a young immortal, he had speculated about the passage of time. Would it ever start to change- days bleeding into each other, hours feeling like minutes? Would he start to move like a statue or simply stand back from the world, contemplating?

If his perception of time had changed over the years, Alucard hadn't noticed. But that week- that damnable week- took an eternity. The first three days were incoherent and miserable. Trevor popped in and out occasionally. He showed him maps and satellite images, narrowing down where his crypt might have been. It sent Alucard down old deer trails, deep into the forest where he had hidden from the world. The smell of pines and the feel of moving air on his face- he could almost feel it. But he was trapped and he ached.

The door opened. Alucard looked over. He'd expected Trevor, but the vaguely human shaped blur in the light in the doorway was shorter.

"Well," Sypha said, "You look miserable."

Alucard whimpered.

"Here," Sypha said. Her silhouette shifted. Something light landed on the bed.

Aluard reached for the plastic bag. She had done this the last two months. She was less personal and involved in giving him blood and Alucard appreciated that. It was a small gift, to recover alone. He pulled the tampon from the bag.

It wasn't much blood. It never would be. He would never get entirely enough. Even before, when he'd hunted and gorged himself, there was still an aching emptiness in him that wanted more. But after sucking the tampon dry, Alucard could sit up again. Just being able to stretch his limbs was a relief. Maybe he'd stagger over to the desk, for the sheer novelty of being somewhere other than the bed.

"A little better, then?"

Alucard flinched and looked back to the door. He spat out the tampon. "Y-you're still--"

"Sorry. I didn't mean to intrude. I want to understand how your thirst works," Sypha said.

Alucard shook his head. "No you don't."

Sypha sighed. "Okay. Yeah. Maybe not. But there's got to be some ways to make this easier."

"This is the, the easiest it's been," Alucard said, "Since the start."

Sypha shook her head. "Really?"

"If I can't control it. It's, it's a relief, that you can," Alucard said. He took a deep breath. "Don't want to hurt you."

"May I come in?" Sypha asked.

Alucard nodded.

"Are you feeling better?"

"A little," Alucard said. He looked up at her, and motioned to the chair Trevor had left near the bed, inviting her to sit. "Won't jump you."

"I'm not worried about that," Sypha said, almost gently, "I meant, are you in pain?"

Alucard wrapped the electric blanket around himself, considering. The ache in his stomach had diminished, and Sypha came into focus. He felt better, but hardly well enough to stand or brave the holy ward. And he wasn't sure he trusted Sypha with his pain. He shrugged. "I'm f-fine."

Sypha smiled wearily. "You sound like Trevor."

Alucard considered her evenly. It wasn't a lie. He was, and would be, fine.

"Amber got back to me, by the way. About your samples."

Alucard held up a flat hand, asking for her to pause. That was a lot to unpack, and it all sounded important. "Amber?"

"She handles labs at Avarona," Sypha said, "She's a chemist, mostly."

"Sypha? How about you repeat all of that, from the beginning, like you're explaining to a toddler?"

Alucard looked over. Trevor stood in the doorway, the laundry basket tucked under his arm. Alucard raised an eyebrow at him. "Is that how you think of me?"

Trevor suddenly seemed fascinated by the contents of the laundry basket. "I mean, no. Mostly no."

Alucard rolled his eyes. "Thanks."

"You're clean," Sypha said.

"Clean?"

"You don't have HIV, for starters. That would be the most concerning one. No STIs. Not even herpes. You aren't sick. And you aren't going to make Trevor sick," Sypha said.

"I won't?" Alucard asked.

"You're safe for sex. In, uhh, that sense, at least."

"Sypha?" Trevor asked, "What are you not telling him?"

Sypha looked over at him. She blushed. "I'm not omitting anything. Amber just-- noticed."

Cold panic rattled in Alcuard's chest. "She knows?"

"No," Sypha said, "She just asked where I got the sample from. It was odd. The blood was sort of thick and oxidized and, well, old."

"Sypha? What did you tell her?"

"I told her it was private," Sypha said. She shrugged. "I trust her. She's not going to pry into it."

"You completely fucking sure of that?" Trevor asked, "Cause I've still got the constable asking questions about what, exactly, I'm hunting. We need to be careful."

"We are being careful."

Trevor shook his head. "I told you the tests were unnecessary. If they've got bat boys blood- if anyone does a DNA test."

Sypha snorted. "What? Do you think the alleles are just going to spell out vampire for them? That's not how those kinds of tests work-- and it's too expensive to just do for fun. Besides, those samples are all thrown out."

"I don't like this," Trevor said.

Sypha massaged her temples. "I won't do it again," she said. She looked over at Alucard. "I promise. No one is going to find you out just from this."

Alucard considered her. Then he looked over at Trevor. "I'm safe?"

Trevor shrugged. "It's probably fine. And if it isn't, well-- Sypha and I will fix it." e shot a glare at her. Then he moved away from the door. "You should rest."

And because he was still weak and exhausted, Alucard let it go. In that moment, the threat of other humans seemed very distant. He hadn't realized at the time that he would meet them so soon.

 

Sypha's anxieties notwithstanding, Alucard found himself in the hallway four days later, upright, mostly recovered, and being fussed over by Trevor. He swallowed down nerves. He would be outside, for the first time in five months.

He got distracted when Trevor handed him a second jacket. Alucard snorted. "I don't- you know I don't have body heat. What good will this do?"

"It hides your skin," Trevor said, "And also, it is going to be fucking cold out there. This should help a little. We've had a long winter."

He got a knit hat on Alucard's head and then paused, considering. After a moment's deliberation, he produced a scarf. He wrapped it methodically around the silver collar. That, at least, made sense to Alucard.

"And shoes," Trevor said. He blinked and turned around as though he expected the correct size of footwear to appear. "Shit. Shoes."

"Do you still have my boots?" Alucard asked.

"Boots?" Trevor asked, "What? You mean those worn out scraps of leather that were attached to your feet?"

Alucard wrapped his arms around himself and nodded.

Trevor sighed. He leaned in and kissed Alucard's forehead. "Sorry. We tossed them."

And for some reason, that was what hurt. Not just losing his old shoes, but also the threadbare overcoat and the black trousers. He remembered how Trevor had ripped his silk shirt off of him. He shivered. "I have nothing."

Trevor was stooped back in the closet. He pulled out a pair of trainers and looked up. "What do you need?"

Alucard gritted his teeth. "I don't need anything. I just, everything I have right now-- the books, the clothes-- none of it is really mine."

"Bat boy?"

"You'll take it all away, if I regress."

"What?" Trevor said, "Shit. Shit. Where did you get the idea that- no. Nope." He rushed forward and took Alucard into his arms.

"You d-did before."

"That was before you were- I mean, before you seemed human."

"What if I fail? And go back to being like, like that?" Alucard asked. He set his head on Trevor's shoulder. "All-- what did you call it? Red eyed and feral?"

"Then we'll do what Sypha did for me, when I relapsed. Help you get back to normal."

Alucard gulped. "Promise?"

"Of course," Trevor said. He cradled Alucard's head. "Fuck. I didn't realize-- god it was fucked up at the beginning, wasn't it?"

Alucard pressed his forehead into his shoulder. He only vaguely heard the sound of a doorway opening.

"Can I add something?"

Alucard looked up. Sypha stood in the bedroom door.

"Thought you went to bed," Trevor said.

"I tried," Sypha said. She yawned. "You two are-- kinda loud. But, here."

She walked past them and grabbed her purse from the peg by the door.

"Alucard? We took your clothes because we had no idea what we were doing. That holy ward was all guess work. I didn't know if it was actually going to hold you, and keeping you naked and vulnerable to sunlight-- it seemed like as good a failsafe as we had."

Trevor squeezed him. "We were both terrified of you. Terrified you'd escape."

"Is that- that's why?" Alucard said, "Cause, at the time, I thought you were going to-- use me."

"Use you?" Trevor asked. Alucard felt the realization hit him. He winced and his hands went slack around Alucard. The trainers fell out of his grip. He stepped away from him. "Oh fuck."

Sypha said nothing. But her eyes went wide and she suddenly looked very awake.

"That-- is how that would have looked, isn't it?"

Alucard looked back to Trevor and nodded.

There was one very long moment of silence, where all Alucard could hear was the sound of their pulses and breathing. Trevor's heart rate was high and frantic, while Sypha's had settled out, gone quiet, low and slow. Alucard shook his head. He didn't want to look at either of them. He looked down, and saw his stocking feet and the shoes that had fallen next to them.

Alucard settled into a sitting position and started working on the laces of the shoes.

Trevor was the first one to speak. His voice was small and choked. "We can't do this."

Alucard shivered. That had been the reaction he was afraid of.

"Sypha-- we can't. Not-- there's too much baggage here. What we- what I've done."

Sypha didn't answer. Alucard looked over. She was clutching her hand over her mouth like she was going to be sick.

"S-stop," Alucard said, "Both of you."

"Alucard-" Trevor started.

Alucard looked over at him. He handed Trevor a shoe. "How do you untie these?"

Trevor stared at the shoe, and then at him. "What?"

"I want to get going," Alucard said, "But, shoes."

"You still- you still want to do this?" he asked.

"Trevor?" Alucard said. He looked up at him. This was the difficult part- explaining himself. And maybe he didn't owe either of them an explanation. "Panic won't help."

Trevor gulped. "Are you saying we can't make it better? What we did? What I did to you?"

Alucard shrugged. "Don't know. But you had every reason to be scared. I understand, now, why you did what you did. And I don't k-know how I would have found you-- either of you-- if you hadn't."

"Doesn't make it right," Trevor growled.

Alucard took the untied shoe from his hands, and handed him the other. "I don't care." He started putting on the first shoe. It was only a little too large. He fumbled with the laces.

"You don't care?" Sypha asked. Alucard looked back at her. She might as well have been made of stone, with the way she was standing in the middle of the hall, pale faced and leaden. Her voice came out choked.

"Do you r-remember what you said, at the beginning?" Alucard asked, "If I were a dog, I'd be put down?"

Sypha flinched.

"It's still true," Alucard said, "You're talking about me like, like I'm some innocent v-victim in all this. I'm not."

"But-" Trevor started again.

Alucard held up a hand, asking for quiet. Trevor paused. "We already discussed this. I want to stay here. This might be my o-only chance to live in the world again. That's worth it, to me. And if that makes me a prisoner, or a slave-- well, can it at least be in, in the fun way?"

"It's just a game for us," Trevor said, "This is different."

Alucard took the other shoe from his hand and put it on. "This is what I want. I want to stay with you. Having no f-fangs, and the collar, and the wards on the doors- it enables all of that." He did his best with the laces and stood up. He spread out his arms. "Please can we go now?"

Trevor wrapped him into a hug. "Yeah. We can go."

"Wait," Sypha said.

They both looked at her wearily. Sypha withered visibly under their gazes. She grimaced. "I just- you should take this."

She fished in her purse, and produced something that caught the low light in a silver beam. She stepped forward and put it in Trevor's hand. It was a small, simple key.

"Sypha, is this-?" Trevor asked.

Alucard didn't need her to answer. He reached under the scarf and felt what he had fidgeted with a thousand times before- the locking mechanism of the silver collar around his neck. How many times had he wondered, at first desperately, and then idly, what the key might look like, and where Sypha kept it.

Well, here it was. He had literally held it before, if Sypha had always kept it in her purse.

"Yes," Sypha said. She closed Trevor's fingers around it. She wasn't meeting either of their eyes. "This isn't my choice, anymore."

"Oh, so you're going to leave this to me? Fuck you," Trevor said.

"Just go," Sypha said, "go have your adventure."

Trevor sighed. "Okay." He leaned over and gave her a quick kiss. "If you go get some sleep."

Sypha's lip twitched. "Fine."

She let them go.

Chapter Text

(past)

The next fifteen minutes were very disorienting for Alucard. First there was a sweet moment. Trevor opened the door and cold, clean air flooded past him. Alucard gulped. This was really happening. He was about to leave. How long had he fantasized about getting out of this house and now? It was finally happening.

And with that silver key in Trevor's pocket- well, a lot could happen tonight.

Trevor picked him up. "Ready?"

Alucard nodded.

Trevor carried him through.

Everything was golden, divine light and the unbearable pealing of church bells. He was descending endlessly into the numb feeling of Trevor's hold. From somewhere far away, he heard one door closing, and another open.

When Alucard came round, he was surrounded by his own reflection. Underneath the hat and scarf, his face was pale, and his unfocused eyes were still wide. He blinked.

"Lean back," Trevor said.

Alucard turned. He was standing over him. Alucard leaned back and found a firm, grey chair behind him.

Trevor stretched thick black bands across Alucard's chest and over his hips. He clicked them in place. "There you go." He closed the door on him.

Alucard gulped. He realized his reflection was simply the product of looking through clear glass at night. He watched Trevor cross to the other side of what had to be the car.

Trevor got in the other side and looked over at him. "You okay?"

"Yes," Alucard said. He scanned the smooth plastic in front of him. To his right, there was an intimidating number of buttons between him and Trevor. He gulped. "Umm, why did you tie me down?"

"What?" Trevor said. He looked over. Then he chuckled. "Oh. Seatbelt safety is important." He fastened his own seatbelt, and then reached over and tugged at the band at Alucard's shoulder. "If we crash, this keeps us from flying through the windshield."

Alucard's eyes went wide. "Is that likely?"

"Nope," Trevor said. Then, as though to challenge that, he touched a button, and the car roared to life. Alucard swallowed down panic. He'd thought cars were loud and terrifying from a distance, but this was overwhelming.

"And headlights," Trevor said. He tapped a lever under the wheel in front of him. "Alright. We're gonna start moving. Are you ready?"

Alucard gulped. "Okay."

"Hey. Let's go get your definitely-not-cursed sword," Trevor said. He reached over again, this time to put a comforting hand on Alucard's knee. "Since, you know, I ripped up most of your worldly possessions."

"That would be nice," Alucard said.

Trevor squeezed his leg, let go, and moved his hand to the central console. He shifted a lever, and they started to roll backwards.

Alucard closed his eyes. He felt them stop abruptly, and then lurch forward. After that, if he kept his eyes shut, maybe he could pretend that he was in wolf form again, running through the forest, not rattling at breakneck speeds in a dangerous machine through a city full of humans. Wagons had been bad enough, but at least they were slower. He'd never had to be strapped into one.

 

"Well, shit."

Alucard felt the car stop. He unpeeled his hands from his face and looked over at Trevor. "Are we-?"

"I mean, I thought we were," Trevor said. He picked up his phone. "Maybe I took a wrong turn."

Alucard looked out the window. The forest surrounded them, dark and silent and still and wonderfully inviting. But a single neon light broke that invitation. Alucard followed the beam. There was a metal gate in front of them and, behind it, a large concrete building intruding into the forest. Alucard could see where trees had been pulled up, and large, neon yellow cars that looked like monsters hulked in the dark.

"This was where you were thinking, right?" Trevor said. He held up his phone for Alucard, showing one of the maps that Alucard remembered vaguely from a few days before. Alucard didn't need to squint at the image on the screen. He could see a familiar, towering pine, and the specific shape of the sky through the window. He looked to the left and saw the gleaming flow of a river.

Alucard sighed. "This was it."

"Right here?" Trevor asked, "You're sure?"

Alucard nodded. "I- I should have known."

"Should have known? Why?"

"Because they woke me up."

"What do you mean?"

Alucard rubbed his temples. "I thought it was an earthquake. I felt it, the earth shaking, the ground moving around me. And when I slipped out of the coffin the- there were bright lights everywhere, and everything smelled like smoke."

Trevor groaned. He was fidgeting with his phone. "Crap. Yeah, looks like they're building a new rest stop out here. Started breaking ground last June. That would have been- well."

"They built on top of my coffin, didn't they?" Alucard said.

"Probably," Trevor said. He leaned back and ran a hand through his hair.

Alucard stared past the gate. For one moment, he considered it. He could scale the fence easily enough, even with the loops of thorny looking wire on top. And once he was inside, what? He couldn't dig through concrete. He wouldn't know where to start. And what would he find- an old, shattered sword among the wood? He had no magic with which to wield it, and even before he'd gotten caught in this collar, it hadn't responded to him in hundreds of years.

"Hey," Trevor said. He stretched out a hand and put it on Alucard's shoulder. "We could still-"

"It d-doesn't matter," Alucard said.

"Are you sure?"

"I-" Alucard started. He leaned forward, feeling something threatening to break in his stomach. "I used to be able to call it to my hand. It spoke my name. B-but that was-- that was before I went mad."

Trevor said nothing. He simply moved his hand to the back of Alucard's head and ran his fingers through his hair.

"And I- I thought if I could hold it again- if it called me Adrian, that would mean that I'm-- better now. That I'm not, not a monster," Alucard stammered. He wrapped both arms around his chest, willing himself to stop shaking. "That I might have earned you."

"Bat boy," Trevor said, a little helplessly. He put a second hand on him, and started to lean Alucard towards him.

"I can't even use it anymore," Alucard said. He sniffed.

"Shit," Trevor said, "It's okay. You're okay." He wrapped his arms around him. A lever dug into Alucard's stomach. But he enjoyed resting on Trevor's chest.

"I failed her. Utterly."

"Whoa. I don't think that-- shhhhhh," Trevor said. He squeezed Alucard's head into his chest. "Shhh. It's okay."

"I can't-" Alucard started. Then, underneath the sound of his own labored breathing, he heard the crunch of cement and the low rumble of an engine. He froze. "Trevor?"

"Shhhh," Trevor said. He held Alucard more tightly.

"Trevor?" Alucard said, "Someone's coming."

"What?" Trevor said. He froze. "Who the fuck would be out here at midnight?"

"It's a car."

Trevor let go and turned to peer through the window. "Fuck."

"What do we-?" Alucard started. He saw a pair of yellow beams gleaming down the road, as small as pinpricks now but approaching fast.

"Oh fuck that had better not be who I think it is," Trevor said. He squinted through the window. "Fuck-- you can't be-- well just stick a baton up my ass!"

Alucard gulped. The car was slowing. It came to a halt next to them.

Trevor turned around. He looked over to Alucard, and then groaned. "Fuck. You're bleeding."

"I'm what?" Alucard asked. He hadn't even noticed that heavy feeling of liquid forming at the edges of his eyes.

"Shit- shit-" Trevor said. He forced open a storage box in between them, pulled out a pack of tissues and threw it into Alucard's lap. "Hurry!" he hissed.

Alucard fumbled with the tissues, trying to pull one free with shaking fingers.

"Don't say a word, okay?"

Alucard heard a door slam. Footsteps crunched over gravel nearby. He shivered.

This was not how he pictured meeting other humans again. He didn't dare look up. He ripped the plastic open and finally got a tissue free from the pack.

A single beam of light shot through the window. It might as well have been a spot light bearing down on him. Alucard brought the tissue up to his eyes.

There were three short taps on the driver side door.

Alucard heard Trevor roll down his window. He cleared his throat and, in the guiltiest sounding voice imaginable, said, "Good evening, officer."

"Trevor Vasilescue. Why am I not surprised?" someone drawled.

Trevor didn't answer, but Alucard could hear his heartbeat so loud and frantic that he had to assume that everyone in the forest could too. He dabbed at his eyes and wondered how much of his face the tissue covered.

"Well, what is it this time? Deer? Rabbits? What did you say last time- pygmy elk?"

"They're more active at night, Constable."

Alucard heard the unfamiliar man snort. "You sure? I have yet to see you actually bring a carcase home. You must have terrible luck."

"You don't know the half of it," Trevor said dryly, "Would you like to see my hunting license? Again? My permits?"

"I want to know why you're out on private property in the middle of the night, Trevor. And who's your friend over there?"

Alucard sniffed. He'd cleaned his eyes. He dabbed at his tear ducts one more time, hoping he'd gotten the last traces of red. He brought the tissue down and scrunched it between his hands.

"What, Adrian? That's why we stopped. He got a, ummm, nosebleed."

"Adrian?" the officer asked. Now the beam of light was directly in Alucard's face.

Alucard looked over. "Adrian T-Tepes, Sir."

"You new in town, Tepes?"

Alucard gulped.

"Constable Grosu, are we free to go?" Trevor asked.

If he squinted, Alucard could just see the man on the other side of that beam of light. He saw his shoulders fall. He sighed. "Yes. You're free. Just get back on the road-- you were scaring the security guard."

"Right, officer."

"And, be careful. There's dangerous stuff in the woods."

Trevor merely nodded. The flashlight turned off. He rolled up the window and turned the engine on. They drove back to the road in silence, leaving the other car behind.

Alucard looked back. He saw the lights from the other car fade as they drove up the road. He watched the trees fly past. It was still terrifying, and he felt dread bubbling in his stomach, but the blurry pattern of interwoven branches was hypnotic. He couldn't look away from it.

His first human. It had been months. No, it had been decades really. A series of questions bubbled up in his mind. That person had wielded some strange kind of authority-- why? What was this business with permits? Private property? Pygmy elk?

Finally, it occurred to him to ask something. "Trev? Where are we going?"

"I'm taking you back," Trevor said.

"Oh," Alucard said. He leaned back. Trevor sounded angry. He was focused on the road in front of him. He didn't want to distract him from driving.

Alucard waited for the glowing lights and angular, concrete buildings he associated with the city to close back in. So he was surprised when the car started to slow, and they were still deep in the forest.

Trevor turned onto a simple dirt path. Alucard peered into the dark. All he could see out here was forest.

Trevor adjusted the central lever, putting the car in park. He sighed and leaned onto the steering wheel.

"This is bad," he said.

"Was it?" Alucard asked, "He let us go."

"He saw you. Of all of the people to see you-- I was supposed to keep you safe."

Alucard gulped. "Did he notice? It was dark. Humans can't see that well."

"I don't know," Trevor said, "I don't know. He had that light in your face."

"Was he a soldier?" Alucard asked, thinking of the strange confidence with which the man had spoken.

"Close a fucking enough. He's a police man that's been snooping around my hunts for years now."

"What happens, if he finds me out?" Alucard asked.

"I don't know" Trevor said again. He leaned back and put his hands over his head. "Except-"

"Except?"

Trevor withdrew his hands and looked over at Alucard. "I'm going to fix this."

"How-?" Alucard started to ask. He froze. Trevor had reached forward and put a finger over his lips.

"I know you can do this," Trevor said. He leaned in. His hand shifted. He held Alucard's jaw and pushed him gently forward.

Alucard moved with him. He put a hand on the back of Trevor's seat to steady himself and swallowed. Trevor was scaring him. It was something about his voice, and the closed-eyed confidence with which he leaned in for a kiss.

Alucard took it anyway. He pressed his lips to Trevor's. His stomach clenched. He wanted to open his mouth, but that felt dangerous.

Trevor put his other hand on Alucard's shoulder- a closed fist, like he was holding something. He leaned into the kiss, and his hand slipped under Alucard's scarf, so naturally it almost seemed like an accident. Metal clicked.

Trevor leaned back, and took the silver collar with him.

Alucard put a hand to his throat. He suddenly felt weightless. He gasped.

And then everything he had ever been swarmed him. A wolf howled and a bat screeched between his ears. Magic, untapped for months, tingled in his fingers. He felt like he was breathing it. Crackling currents of black power ran up his spine and across his shoulders. He practically felt sparks flying between his fingertips. Alucard put a hand on his head. It was dizzying.

"W-why?" he managed. He looked over, and found the driver's seat of the car empty. He gulped. "Trevor?"

"I'm right here," Trevor said. He opened Alucard's door. He even leaned in and unbuckled the seat belt.

Alucard looked from the collar in his hand to the cold, determined line of his face. He tried again. "Why?"

Trevor shrugged. "So you could really have a choice in the matter."

He stepped aside.

Alucard stared out into the woods. Something in him whined. His feet ached, and his vision still swam with an overlay of magic like heat haze.

Alucard set one unsteady foot on the loam. He felt it give under him, just slightly. Cold seeped up his leg.

The next thing he set into the soil was a paw. He turned mid stride, barely hearing Trevor's gasp because the world called to him- open and sprawling and lovely, a promise of every freedom he'd been denied. He flew into the woods.

He was free.

(present)


Poor Trevor was barely able to handle the gifts that they gave him. He was only human- and male. He didn't have the stamina to come multiple times. But Alucard got to have his fun with him anyway.

He returned to the livingroom and draped himself on the armchair. He beckoned for Trevor. "Come here."

Trevor crawled to him.

Alucard reached down. He grabbed Trevor's chin and lifted him. He closed his eyes and, for the first time in months, got to give him a proper kiss.

Trevor whined and leaned up into it. He brushed his tongue to Alucard's lips. And it took all of the restraint that Alucard had developed over the past year to not open his mouth and sink into the way Trevor tasted. He couldn't let himself picture how sweet it might feel to bite into Trevor's tongue and taste blood in the kiss.

Instead, Alucard pulled away. He gripped Trevor's hair and forced him back.

"If y-your going to use your tongue, you can start down there," he said.

Trevor's eyes went wide. He licked his lips.

Alucard laughed. "So eager." He adjusted in the armchair, slouching to give Trevor access to his cock.

Trevor set his arms on Alucard's thighs. He leaned in, and then paused. He turned back to Sypha.

Alucard looked over too. Sypha was still on the sofa. She had cleaned up, and was watching them with a small smile.

"Sypha?" Alucard called.

She shook herself and fell into a position that was more submissive, with her hands tucked behind her back and a neutral expression- the picture of innocence except that she was naked. "Yes, Miss?"

Alucard grinned. He was still in charge. "Get the lube."

Trevor shivered. He leaned on the cushion, close enough that Alucard could feel his breathing. He looked up.

"You're um, fucking radiant, Miss."

Alucard smirked. He brushed the side of Trevor's face. "And you're very cute. B-but I'm still using you." He gripped the longest strands of Trevor's hair and pushed him into place.

Trevor whined, sending vibrations over Alucard's head. Alucard leaned back with a moan. There was something sweeter about being sucked off when he had direct control. He knew Sypha had gotten back and started to tease Trevor open when his lips went slack.

Alucard tugged on Trevor's hair. "Focus on me, pet."

And poor Trevor tried. He sucked and licked and lapped at Alucard's cock as he trembled and whimpered.

Alucard sighed. He ran his fingers through Trevor's hair, then scrapped his nails on his cheek. He had enough experience on the receiving end, now, to know what that felt like- the little, giddy high notes of pain. He'd spent lifetimes hunting humans, deciphering what their heart rates meant, the release of different pheromones, where to bite for blood. But all of this soft pain was new to him. It was lovely. He wanted to master it.

Something curled around itself in Alucard's stomach. If this was what he could give Trevor, he wanted to give him everything. He wanted to pleasure him, overwhelm him, break him.

Alucard got his hand around Trevor's throat and pushed him off his cock.

"Miss?" Trevor panted, "Have I not--?"

Alucard pressed his fingers into the sides of Trevor's throat, just hard enough to feel his pulse. Trevor shivered. He closed his eyes and leaned in.

"You're perfect," Alucard said. He let go of Trevor and he collapsed into his lap. "Now give me your cock."

Trevor gulped. He crawled forward, slumping his body over Alucard's knees. His cock swayed between his slightly open legs. He was so warm, and delicate, and exposed. Alucard bent over him and took his shaft in hand. Trevor moaned. He chuckled, rested a hand on his back, and put his lips to Trevor's ear.

"You okay?"

Trevor shuddered. "Fuck yes."

"Hasn't this always been a fantasy of yours, pet?" Sypha asked. She must have paused and pulled out her fingers so Alucard could move him. Now, she rested her chin on the small of Trevor's back and grinned up at Alucard. "To be used by two women at once?"

Trevor nodded and whimpered. His face was red. He was panting. But that could have been how Alucard was stroking him.

"I have him warmed up, Miss," Sypha said, "If you want to fuck him. We could switch places and I could make him lick your cum from between my lips."

That did it. Poor Trevor arched his back and bucked into Alucard's hand, throbbing and moaning desperately. He came. He spilled himself onto the floor and, as they'd discover later, onto the hem of a garter.

Alucard was all too happy to help. He milked Trevor for his last drops, till his shaking subsided to a tremble and the moaning gave out into a last whimper.

"Maybe next time," Alucard said. He removed his hands. Trevor collapsed onto his thighs.

Sypha giggled. "Well, that was fun." She stood up lightly. Alucard supposed, between the three of them, she'd had the most recovery time. "Anything you need from me, Miss?"

Alucard shook his head. He rested his hands on Trevor's shoulders, enjoying how it felt to hold and possess him, if only for another moment. "I'll get him cleaned up. In- in a minute."

Sypha smiled. She stepped back to them. She kissed Alucard's forehead. "No rush. Let me shower and brush my teeth first."

"Of course," Alucard said. He took a deep breath. He was steadily returning to himself. "Thank you."

"It was my pleasure. Nice to let someone else take the reins for a bit. And you were-- wonderful." She let the last word linger on her tongue like she was tasting it.

Trevor stirred. He looked up, sighed, and mumbled something.

"What's that?"

"I'm just-- just so fucking lucky."

Sypha laughed. She ruffled Trevor's hair with her clean hand. "Happy birthday."

"Same to you," Trevor said. He caught her hand and kissed it. "Sure you don't want to celebrate?"

Sypha leaned back. Her chuckle broke into a yawn. "I want to sleep."

Chapter Text

(present)


It took Alucard a full fifteen minutes to process the exchange he'd overheard. By then, he'd removed the panties and hastily spot cleaned the garters. Sypha started the hot water before she left the bathroom.

Naked and exhausted in the tub, with his legs twined around Trevor's, Alucard found the conversation playing back in his mind. "Happy birthday." "Same to you."

"Trevor?"

Trevor's head jerked up. He yawned. "Yeah?"

"Do you and Sypha- do you have the same birthday?"

Trevor nodded. "October 16th, each of us. Although you wouldn't know it, since she doesn't celebrate."

"Same year?"

Trevor shifted a little, sending soapy water swishing between them.

A small part of Alucard knew this was cruel. Trevor was exhausted and vulnerable. He should be letting him rest. But he couldn't. Waiting even one night without having this answered would be pure torture.

"I mean, yeah," Trevor said, "Why do you-?"

"What time?"

"What?"

"Were you born the same hour? The same moment? The exact same?"

"Dunno. You should ask Sypha. She might know her birth time. But I- I mean, I did ask my mom once. Just in case we were separated twins or something, cause it is a hell of a coincidence. But, no. We aren't related or anything. She was born in a hospital in Bucharest. And I was basically born in a little cabin in the woods in the middle of nowhere."

Alucard had stopped listening. He sat up and got out of the tub without noticing what he was doing. The same time. The same time. That couldn't be a coincidence, could it? It couldn't.

He toweled off and tousled his hair dry. He'd pay for that later, with tangled curls that would require tedious combing. But he had no time now. What a strange sensation, as an immortal, to suddenly be frantic and pressed for time.

He had his hand on the door knob before he finally heard Trevor calling his name.

"Alucard?"

Alucard shook himself and looked back. Trevor had clambered out of the water after him and stood on the bathmat, dripping. His brow furrowed.

"You at least want some clothes first?"

"Oh," Alucard said, "Yes. Yes please."

Then he remembered himself. He remembered he was supposed to be giving Trevor aftercare. He shook his head. "It can wait. Didn't mean to- you needn't get out."

"It's fine. I'm done. It's just, what's bit you?"

"What do you mean?"

"You got out of a bath that's still warm."

Alucard shrugged. "Something on my mind."

"No shit," Trevor said. He took his own towel and wiped off his face. "Would you tell me?"

Alucard bit his lip, considering.

"Please?"

"You came back at the same time."

"Came back?" Trevor said. He processed for a moment, and the bathroom was filled with nothing except the sounds of dripping water, and this urgency that was eating senselessly at Alucard's stomach. Then Trevor grimaced. "What? Sypha and me? Is this about the whole reincarnation thing?"

Alucard sighed. He forcibly withdrew his hand from the doorknob. He stepped back to Trevor, his toes squishing into the bathmat. He wrapped his arms around Trevor and pressed his chin to his shoulders.

He was so warm, and broad, and real. A tangible landscape on which Alucard could ground himself. He was here, out of pure coincidence. Alucard had almost come to accept that this was all the answer he'd ever find. Coincidence. Partial imitation. Freak similarities. He would never really know.

"I love you," Alucard said.

"Love you too. But you're scaring me."

"Just want answers," Alucard said. He removed his chin and met Trevor's eyes. "Would you type me in? To the computer?"

"Log in," Trevor said. He squeezed Alucard back. "Log in, is what you mean. And, sure."

"And get me clothes?" Alucard asked, a little sheepishly. There was an impassable holy ward between him and his closet.

Trevor chuckled. "Fine. But you owe me."

And he did. There were innumerable things that Alucard owed him.


 

(past)


The wolf could have run for hours. There was the sharp, sweet smell of pines and the caress of boughs on his muzzle and haunches. He felt warm, finally warm again, panting under the weight of his pelt and the lovely exertion of hurtling forward. The night was silent and endless and inviting. He was alone. He was powerful. He was free.

The wolf could have run forever. But Alucard slowed. He stopped on a large, decaying nurse log. His heartbeat was loud in his ears. Under that, all that was here were the trees themselves, rustling faintly in the wind. He couldn't hear animals scurrying in the undergrowth, or the distant hooting of owls, or the snap of twigs under the paws of some other, less fearsome predator.

He was alone. Trevor's scent had escaped from his lungs. But maybe, if he transformed back, he'd be able to smell him still lingering in the jacket he had given him.

Alucard whined into the quiet night. He pushed his paws into the bark underneath him. He needed to remember this- hold onto the feeling of the wind between the pads of his feet and brushing his fur. He needed to hold onto the smell of cold earth and pine. He needed to hold onto this feeling of freedom. Because he needed to go back.

Alucard turned around. The forest seemed lighter and thinner to him, staring back the way he'd come. But he knew that was just because he was looking for the gleam of headlights between the trunks.

He'd made his choice already. This moment of freedom merely reinforced it. He started down the trail he'd made.

Maybe someday, he'd have his thirst under control again. Maybe Sypha would be able to brew up something that truly replaced blood. Maybe he'd get to do what Trevor did now- hunting down demons. Maybe the collar would come off for good, and his fangs would grow back, and he'd forge himself a new sword.

Or maybe he'd just return to Trevor and Sypha and be a harmless little slave. Maybe he'd finally learn how to turn on the vacuum cleaner. Maybe he'd get to bed both of them-- be bedded by both of them? Alucard's pace quickened.

He had eternity to be alone- to sleep and starve and thirst and break. But right now? Right now? This was his chance to live.

Alucard didn't slow again until the trees started to thin. He padded back into the clearing. He could smell the thick, oily smoke produced by burning gasoline. The car was close by. Under that, he could just smell Trevor.

Alucard pushed through the undergrowth. He swallowed, dismissing the soul of the wolf. His sleek, slender paw pads turned into foot steps, awkward in oversized shoes. He walked onto the packed dirt.

The car was still there. Alucard saw Trevor in it-- slumped over the steering wheel. For a moment, Alucard wondered if he had fallen asleep. It was very late. Then he got close enough to see his shoulders heave.

That hit Alucard's heart. It had seemed so obvious, to him, that he would come back. How many times had he told Trevor that he didn't care- that he wanted to stay- that the life they offered was better than anything he'd ever been able to manage on his own?

"Trevor?" Alucard asked.

Trevor gave no sign he had heard. His breathing was ragged and loud enough that Alucard could hear it through the door. But apparently Trevor couldn't hear him.

Alucard sighed. He reached a hand forward and rapped on the glass.

Trevor jerked back with a yelp. He caught sight of Alucard, looming over the door, and swore.

"Holy fuck, bat boy!"

He fumbled with the door. Alucard stepped back so he could open it without hitting him. "Sorry. Didn't mean to scare you."

"Scare me? I almost had a heart attack," Trevor said.

Alucard grimaced. He was frightening right now, looming over Trevor. But he could fix that.

Alucard sank to his knees in the open space made by the door. He looked down. He loosened the scarf around his neck and lifted his hair out of the way.

"I'm ready. To, to go home."

"To go home?" Trevor repeated blankly.

Alucard nodded. Cold air tingled on his neck. He shivered. "Collar me."

"Are-- are you sure?" Trevor asked, "Even if there's a cop breathing down our necks and we might not be able to keep you safe?"

"Yes."

"You want to lose your powers and your freedom? To be trapped with us again?"

"Yes."

Trevor leaned forward. "You want to drink old blood?"

Alucard looked up at him. He saw a single tear sliding down Trevor's face. He gulped. "Yes."

"You want to do chores with me, and be Sypha's toy?"

"Yes," Alucard said. He shivered.

"Because you think I'm some body double of a man you loved?" Trevor asked. His eyes were getting overbright again.

"No," Alucard said, "Because I am falling for you, Trevor Valiscue. And because I want to- to live in the world again."

"Fuck-- I mean, I'm not going to stop you," Trevor said. He swiped at his eyes again. "Alright."

He held up the collar. It felt strangely ceremonial, even though Alucard was kneeling in the dirt, and the only light was the yellow glow from the car door, and Trevor had to stoop awkwardly in his seat to reach his neck.

Alucard felt the weight of silver before it touched his skin. The dizzying, euphoric magic sank like so many stones. The wolf vanished with a small whimper. He was himself again-- not yet Adrian, but just Alucard, not a demon or a mage or a bat or even a lingering tendril of mist. Just Alucard, as the lock clicked into place at his throat.

Trevor's open hand came into view. He helped Alucard to his feet.

"Alright. Let's go home."

Alucard stood up. "Yes please."

"Oh, and it's Vasilescue."

"What?" Alucard asked. He opened the passenger side door and slipped into the car.

"Nevermind," Trevor said. He shook his head. "At least you're not calling me Belmont anymore. Buckled up?"

Alucard looked over. He found the band of the seat belt and pulled it forward. It got caught, stretched half way over his body, and he couldn't figure out how it was supposed to attach on the other side of the seat. He tugged at the band for a minute to no effect.

"Here, bat boy. You've gotta let it go so it'll come back."

He took Alucard's hands and let the band slide from between them. He squeezed Alucard's fingers before letting them go. He reached over and grabbed the plastic and metal pull that had slipped under the seat. He tugged it, and the belt, across Alucard, and snapped it into place.

Alucard shook his head. "You make it look easy."

"Yeah, well, you can turn into a fucking wolf, so let me have something."

Trevor got the car started and turned around to get them back on the road. His hand lingered on the central lever for a moment. Then he reached over and took Alucard's hand.

"I'm sorry," he said, "This has all been a mess."

Alucard squeezed his fingers. "It was still nice to get out."

"Fuck, bat boy. We need to raise your standards. I can't even take you out to dinner. Do you know how frustrating that is?"

"N-no?"

Trevor shook his head. His eyes were on the road, but his thumb brushed the palm of Alucard's hand. He got them back onto the pavement, and they sped up. Alucard shivered and held him tightly. It was some small security that this whirring, clattering contraption was not going to explode under them.

They drove in silence for a few minutes before Trevor cleared his throat. "So, I mean, since you're coming back. Have you thought about what you want to do?"

Alucard looked down at the mud caked onto his knees. He wrinkled his nose. "Shower, probably."

Trevor chuckled. "Fair enough. But I meant-- you know. With Sypha and I."

"Oh. You were serious, about that?"

"Oh my god. Yes. Dammit, yeah. I would really like to fuck you."

Alucard's lip twitched. "I have some ideas."

"Yeah?"

Alucard looked over at him and grinned. "Not telling."

Trevor chewed on his lip. "Dunno if Sypha's going to like that."

"Oh, I'll tell her. When we get back."

"What? So you're just keeping it from me?"

"Yes."

"Bastard."

Alucard chuckled. He liked the way Trevor swore at him. It was nostalgic. There was no venom in it.

"I didn't think you were coming back."

Alucard looked over. He raised an eyebrow. "Then why did you let me go?"

Trevor sighed.

"Are police a problem?" Alucard asked, "Will I make things worse, being here?"

Trevor gripped his fingers. "No. Fuck that. We'll be fine. We'll figure it out. It's that-- it was what you said in the hallway."

Alucard blinked. "What did I say?"

Trevor let go of his hand and moved it back to the steering wheel. He stared very deliberately at the road. "I still remember what you seemed like, at the beginning. When you had red eyes and fangs and those claw-like nails. It was scary."

Alucard shivered. It was a terrible thing to be reminded of.

"And looking back on it, I should have fucking known. I know what a vampire is-- I could have guessed that you'd be able to think and feel. Of course you were terrified. Of course you would have thought that I-" Trevor started. He paused. His jaw clenched and his brow furrowed. "That I was going to rape you."

"Oh. This is b-because of that?"

"Yeah," Trevor said. He grimaced. "Yeah. It's cause of that."

Alucard chewed on his lip, trying to think of something to say. Somehow, he suspected that saying that having his fangs taken had been infinitely worse would not improve Trevor's mood.

"I wonder if every fetishist goes through this."

"Fetishist?"

"Everyone whose-- like Sypha and I. Who are into bondage and pain and-- everything. I felt like I was a monster, when I first figured it out. Wondering what childhood trauma made me into spanking. Fuck, I spent months as a teen, trying figure out why I was into all of this perverted shit, how I was going to forgive myself. I latched onto all of these ideas around consent and, I dunno. It helped."

Alucard said nothing.

"But sex is fucking messy. Things go wrong. You forget limits, or go deep into subdrop, or the ropes are too tight or the whip wraps around and suddenly you hurt someone the wrong way and-- fuck. You swear off it. You go back to the vanilla stuff and try to be a good person."

"Trevor?"

"We crossed a line without evening realizing it, with what we did to you," he said.

"It happened," Alucard said, "In the past. It's okay."

Trevor shook his head. "But that's the problem. The stuff that Sypha and I do-- what she'd be doing to you-- some of it is going to be really fucking similiar."

"Except I can make it stop," Alucard said.

"You sure you trust us with that?" Trevor asked.

Alucard leaned back into the headrest, considering. He trusted Trevor. He did. But Sypha was another matter.

"You'll be there, right?" Alucard said.

"Of course," Trevor said. He grinned. "In whatever compromising position and state of undress you'd like."

Alucard shivered. "And you'll aftercare me?"

Trevor chuckled. "Babe, I will aftercare you so hard."

"Babe?"

Even in the dark, Alucard could see Trevor's blush. He took Trevor's hand from where he'd left it, slack on his knee. Now he was the one to squeeze Trevor's fingers.

"I'll give you aftercare," Trevor said. He cleared his throat. "That's what I meant."

"Babe," Alucard chuckled, "Is that a, umm, term of endearment now?"

"I might be a little fucking rusty. I mean, shit. It's been months since Sypha and I have even gone out for dinner. I barely remember how to do this romantic stuff. Especially with a-- guy."

"Is it different, because of that?"

"It shouldn't be, but-- yeah," Trevor said. He frowned and chanced a look over at Alucard. "Wasn't it taboo, in your time?"

Alucard shrugged. "I suppose, among humans."

"A little bit looser with vampires, huh? Whenever you decide to fuck and not bite?"

"It- it's more complicated, than that. There are hierarchies. Spawn, vampires, vampire lords. It would be far, far more taboo to bed someone else's spawn."

Trevor whistled. "Oh, there's a lot to unpack there."

"It's a matter of ownership. The creation of spawn is-"

Trevor held up a hand. "I don't want to know."

Alucard looked over at him. His lip twitched. "T-too much?"

"You can't do that stuff, can you?" Trevor asked. "Like, you can't turn people."

Alucard sighed. He fell back, suddenly feeling cold and quiet and very tired. "No. I can't."

The conversation trailed off. Alucard's eyes were drawn to the changing light ahead of them. It closed in around them and the road widened as they passed a spattering of buildings. It was late and he didn't see anyone outside, but Alucard shrank back from the window anyway.

Trevor stopped at a light. He looked over and rested his hand on Alucard's shoulder. "Hey. It's alright. No one's gonna see that you're grey through the glass. And there's no one out here anyway."

Alucard gulped. He let himself peer through the window. They passed flashing signs. Everything was bright and loud even in the middle of the night. He wrinkled his nose. "Is this normal?"

"What?" Trevor asked. He looked around. "Shit. It is kinda quiet. Guess we were out longer than I thought."

"Quiet?" Alucard asked. He gaped. There were bright lights everywhere he looked, and incomprehensible signs plastered over every building. Everything was tall and grimy and flashy, a stark contrast to the forest they'd just left.

And as gaudy and overwhelming as it all was, he had to confess that part of him was also impressed. Alucard remembered when a human 'city' was two dozen small, misshapen, half wood and half stone buildings, thatched with straw, huddled around a cold and austere church. So much had changed. As a young man, he'd let himself believe that humans were helpless, vulnerable victims of whatever dark forces chose to prey on them. They'd accomplished a lot in five hundred years.

Trevor yawned. "We're almost home."

Alucard sighed.

"Yeah. Sorry this all went bad."

"Wasn't bad," Alucard said, "Not all of it. You did kiss me."

Trevor shook his head. "Again. We need to raise your standards." He turned onto a side road and the light dimmed. Alucard recognized this pattern; sporadic street lamps dimly illuminating narrower streets.

Alucard chewed on his lip. He felt himself sinking into the seat. They were getting very close now. He looked over at Trevor. "We can do this again, right?"

"Of course. I mean, not tomorrow night. I do need to sleep. But-- yeah."

"It'd be nice, to try again."

Trevor nodded. "And, here we are."

Alucard heard the familiar crunch of pavement. He looked up, and finally saw the house he'd been staying in for 6 months now.

It was small and squat compared to the houses on either side, with a blue-grey coat of paint and a couple of empty pots for plants beside the front door. It was strange to see it from the outside. It didn't look particularly special or magical. It certainly didn't look like a prison. He wondered if it would still feel like one.

Trevor adjusted the central lever and leaned back. He yawned again and stretched out his arms. "Fuck it's late. You need anything from me before I head to bed?"

"Just to be let in."

"Fair enough," Trevor said. He got out of the car and walked around to meet him. This time, Alucard was able to work the seat belt on his own. He almost hit Trevor with the car door, and caught the handle just in time.

Trevor pulled the car door open and picked him up.

Alucard rolled his eyes. "I can walk. To the door."

"I mean, sure you can. But, if I have to pick you up anyway-"

"You like carrying me, don't you?" Alucard said.

"Maybe."

Alucard chuckled and set his head on Trevor's shoulder. He had to admit, getting carried wasn't so bad. He wrapped his arms around Trevor while he fumbled with the key.

The holy ward on the door held no special vitriol or malice this time. It was just a spell. It had never been intended to keep him imprisoned, but to keep Trevor and Sypha safe. All of this, was to keep Trevor and Sypha safe.

That seemed like a fine goal to him.

"You want to stay out here?" Trevor asked as they got into the dark hallway.

Alucard nodded, shaking off the tingles. "Please. And would you fetch me a change of clothes?"

Trevor grinned. He wiped the mud off of Alucard's knees and set him down beside the closet door. "Will do."

Chapter Text

"So? How'd it go?"

Alucard looked over. At some point in the past few hours, it had shifted from being very late at night to very early in the morning. Sypha had barely acknowledged him as she'd grumbled into the kitchen to make breakfast ten minutes ago. Now, she looked up from her phone.

"The drive?" Alucard asked. He returned to the sink, and the dishes Trevor hadn't gotten to last night.

Sypha stifled a yawn and nodded.

"Couldn't find it," Alucard said, "My coffin was buried under a- whatever a rest stop is."

Sypha blinked. "Couldn't find what?"

Alucard winced. "Umm, do you need the kettle on?"

"Alucard?"

"F-for coffee?"

"Alucard?" Sypha repeated, "What were you looking for?"

"I wasn't looking for--"

"I'm not going to be mad," Sypha said.

Alucard sighed. "I had a gift from my, my mother. That I'd left in that coffin."

He looked over. Sypha had her head tilted to one side, and her spoon loosely held in her fingers. She didn't look angry, but her brow was slightly furrowed. "A gift? What was it?"

"A sword?" Alucard said.

The spoon clattered out of Sypha's hand. It landed in the bowl and sent a splash of milk across the counter. "You were looking for a sword?"

"Not- not to use, or anything."

"Then, what? For decoration?"

"Maybe," Alucard said.

Sypha shook her head. She looked down at the milk spilled on the counter and wrinkled her nose.

Alucard grabbed a paper towel and handed it to her. "I couldn't even use it anymore."

"What do you mean?"

"It's a silver longsword. Meant for, for demon hunting. I, when I was younger and had-- control. I could summon it to my hand. But it's been useless for centuries."

"But it still meant something to you," Sypha said. She mopped up the milk and looked up at him.

Alucard smirked. "Maybe it's better. If I leave everything behind. That's, that's what you want, right? To civilize me?"

"I want whatever conditions are going to make this easiest for you. That's the devil of it, isn't it?" Sypha asked. She took a final bite of cereal and pushed the bowl away. She chewed, considering. "Have you ever had control of it?"

"Thirst?" Alucard asked. He leaned over and tapped his hand on the counter. "It was easiest before I had bitten anyone."

"So there was a time when you didn't drink blood at all? What did you do instead?"

Alucard shook his head. "No. Well- breast milk, when I was very small."

"Makes sense," Sypha said.

"But, but after that. My father had stores. That I was able to share." He avoided Sypha's eye contact.

"Stores?" Sypha asked. She raised an eyebrow.

"Blood that he kept, in glass vats. I don't-- I didn't think, at the time, where that came from," Alucard said.

"And then you ran out?"

Alucard shook his head. He placed his hands on the edge of the sink. "No."

"Then what happened?"

Alucard dipped his head until his hair fell forward, covering his face and his shame. He shivered. "I met Trevor. And he-- indulged me."

"The old Trevor, you mean?"

"He let me bite him," Alucard said.

Sypha winced. "Is that where those wires got crossed?"

Alucard raised an eyebrow. "Wires?"

Sypha turned slightly pink. "When sex and thirst became connected, for you?"

"Oh," Alucard said. He cleared his throat. "P-probably."

"You didn't bite me, when we, umm--"

"Fucked?"

Sypha wrinkled her nose. "Trevor's a bad influence on you."

Alucard chuckled a little wearily.

"Was that because of the gag, or were you not as into it?"

"I was-- very into it," Alucard said, "The gag was necessary. It will be again if we, umm--" He trailed off.

"Alucard?"

"It's hard to ask."

"Then let me," Sypha said. Alucard heard her slide off of the seat. She stepped into the kitchen and got behind him.

Alucard froze. Sypha leaned into him. She set the empty cereal bowl in the sink. Then she placed her hands on his hips and whispered. "How do you want to play?"

Alucard gulped. Finally, he started to explain.

 

That night didn't feel any different until after Trevor and Sypha had dinner. The three of them settled in the livingroom. Trevor picked up the remote. He put it down when Sypha called to him.

"How long has it been?" Sypha asked. The question should have been confusing, coming out of nowhere. But the commanding way Sypha gestured for him implied exactly what she was asking after.

Trevor gulped. "Four months, Miss."

Sypha clicked her tongue. "I didn't mean to neglect you."

"You haven't been-" Trevor started.

Sypha put a finger to his lips. "I think we can remedy this now. Go to the bedroom. I want you naked and in position. You have one minute.

Trevor grinned. "Oh no. What happens if I'm late?"

"If you're late," Sypha said. She breathed into his ear. "I'll humiliate you in front of this vampire you seem so fond of."

Alucard shivered. Sypha's eyes flickered to him. She let go of Trevor's shirt and pointed to the hallway. "Go."

Trevor scurried out of the room.

Sypha took a deep breath. Then she looked over at Alucard. "Would you like to watch?"

Alucard raised an eyebrow at her.

Her face went pink. "Watch me spank and fuck him?"

"Fuck?" Alucard asked, a little wearily. If Trevor had taught him anything, it was that that word could take on a wide variety of meanings.

"In the literal sense. I'll unlock him," Sypha said.

Alucard's stomach gave a funny lurch. He nodded. "Yes please."

Sypha grinned. She offered Alucard her hand.

Alucard took it. He let her help him up, and lead him back to her bedroom. His pulse was in his throat when Sypha opened the door.

"Times up."

"That was a minute?" Trevor whined.

"I don't know. Is that backtalk?" Sypha said.

Trevor rolled his eyes. Then he spotted Alucard behind her. "Oh shit." He wrapped his arms around himself in a ridiculous show of modesty. As though Alucard hadn't seen him naked before. His face turned red.

Alucard grinned. "Do I get t-to watch, then?"

"Honestly, if I didn't know better, I'd say he wanted you to," Sypha said, "Trevor, if I don't find you in position when I get Alucard over, I am going to get the cane."

Sypha turned her attention back to Alucard, and missed the rude gesture Trevor made at her. Alucard decided not to mention it. He suddenly had Sypha in front of him, radiating a portion of the confidence and power she wielded over Trevor.

"Turn around," she said.

Alucard obeyed.

"I am going to drag you into the bedroom and set you up in a corner," Sypha said, "And you are going to stay there- absolutely still and quiet- while I punish him. Do you understand?"

"Yes."

Sypha wrapped her arms around his chest. "Good. Now let's see if you can obey."

She dragged him into the room. Alucard felt his body go numb. He fell forward, and her hold was all that kept him upright. He barely felt how she gently deposited him in the room. But her breath tickled his cheek.

"Use your safeword if you need it, okay?"

It took an infuriatingly long time for Alucard's vision to come back. All he could do was listen for her steps across the room, the creak of bedsprings. Flesh slapped into flesh, and he heard Trevor yelp. Alucard blinked furiously until finally, finally, he got to see.

Trevor lay over Sypha's legs on the edge of the bed. He was facing away from Alucard, giving a wonderful view of his ass and legs and every straining muscle therein.

Sypha raised her hand again. Alucard saw the bright red blotches on his cheeks and thighs. He suppressed a shiver. Sypha had left him in a very deliberate, kneeling position. He was determined to maintain it- to hold himself completely still. After all, Trevor was a very good distraction from the small ache in his knees.

"There," Sypha said after five more strikes, "Are you ready to be good?"

Trevor whined and nodded.

"Then stand up and show me your toy."

Trevor rose a little shakily, gripping a bedpost for support. He stood in front of Sypha. Alucard couldn't see what she was doing, but based on the sound of metal tapping on plastic, he could guess.

"Does it feel good, to have me in charge of your key again?" Sypha asked.

"Yes, Miss."

Sypha lifted a plastic device into view, and set it on the edge of the bed.

Trevor sighed. "Thank you, Miss."

Sypha grinned and leaned back. "Play with yourself."

Trevor's hands moved immediately. Then he hesitated. "Miss?"

"Or would you rather go over my knee again?" Sypha asked.

Trevor gulped. One of his hands moved forward. He shuddered.

Sypha stood up. She put a hand on his shoulder and stood on tiptoe so she could speak into his ear. "What if I turned you around so he could see exactly what you're doing?"

Trevor whimpered.

Sypha paced around him, scraping her nails over his shoulder almost lazily.

"Does it turn you on now, to know he's watching?"

He nodded.

Sypha laughed. She was leaving pink trails across his shoulders. "Do you know how much fun I'm going to have using both of you?"

Alucard swallowed a gasp. They'd talked about what he wanted, but he hadn't dared hope that he'd be included in this.

"Onto the bed, pet."

"Which way?" Trevor asked.

"On your back," Sypha said. She chuckled.

Trevor sank onto the bed with a wince. He looked up at her, his mouth half-open. He was staring at her like she was equal parts divine entity and unimaginable terror. And maybe, to both of them, she was.

"Are you ready, puppy?" Sypha asked. She slowly pulled off her shirt.

Trevor whined, and Alucard agreed. She was radiant in the diffuse light from the bedside lamp. Her skin looked like molten beeswax, with the way the glow touched it. She had curves; wider and more generous ones than the Sypha Alucard remembered. His eyes traced the lovely arcs around her hips that led tantalizingly to the incline of her waist.

Sypha ran her hands through her hair, and then down her body. She loosened her jeans and slipped them off.

Alucard fell over.

He caught himself with his hands and they smacked onto the wooden floor. He winced. He could hear Trevor chuckling. He looked up from his hands and knees.

"S-sorry."

"Poor pet," Sypha said. She had turned around. She was in just a bra and panties, and a vague, distant part of Alcuard's brain noted that both garments were sleeker and more elegant than their medieval equivalents.

She laughed. "You were doing so well, too. Come here. Trevor? Stop snickering and get the underbed restraints."

Alucard gulped. He watched Trevor pick himself up from the bed. His hair was disheveled and he gave Alucard a thumbs up. Alucard blinked. That was an-- interesting response.

"Alucard? Look at me," Sypha said.

She walked over to him. Her posture relaxed, and she spoke almost gently. "We'd both like to play with you. But I'm not sure how to do that."

"Didn't mean t-to interrupt," Alucard said.

"I know," Sypha said. She smiled. "I suspect you aren't going to be bratty like Trevor is."

"What gave you that fucking idea?" Trevor said dryly.

Sypha's brow twitched. "Bed restraints, Trevor."

Alucard gulped. "R-restraints?"

Sypha's smile widened until she was showing teeth. "Since you can't stay put, I'm going to strap you to the bed," She leaned in and whispered, "And fuck Trevor on top of you. How does that sound?"

Alucard's body responded immediately. He shivered and pressed his legs together. The idea of having them on top of him; their pulses and the heat from their bodies, the feel of their skin. It was so tempting. It was dangerous. The imp was already starting to rattle in his chest. How could he resist that?

Alucard pulled the gag out of his pocket. He looked up at her.

Sypha nodded in something like approval. "You're learning. The gag is a good idea. Can I strip you?"

Alucard sat up. "Yes."

"Oh, sure, she gets to strip you," Trevor whined.

Sypha looked over at him. She gave him her sweetest smile. "Trevor, love? You are insufferable and I will grab the paddle."

"Is that a threat or a promise, Miss?"

Sypha sighed. She stood up and stepped to the closet.

Trevor gulped. "Wait. Shit. Miss, I didn't mean-"

Alucard chewed on his lip. He couldn't do much, right now. But he could save Trevor from the punishment he'd assured for himself. He pulled off his shirt, settled into a kneeling position that he hoped looked appropriately demure, and called out. "M-Mistress?"

Sypha froze. Alucard heard her heart pump once- twice- thrice. She turned back to him.

"Would you p-please play with me?" Alucard said.

Sypha blinked.

"What you talked about, it s-sounded wonderful," he said. He pulled his hair out of his face and really let himself look at her. "Please?"

It was more subtle, the things that separated her from Sypha Belnades. Or, perhaps the image of the old Sypha was fuzzier in Alucard's mind- not painstakingly preserved and enshrined as Belmont had been. But her jaw seemed wider and stronger. There were bags under her eyes. Her curly hair had a trace of red in it.

She was beautiful. She considered him, blank faced, and Alucard wondered what it was like for them, to look at him and only see one person, one monster. They didn't have the ghosts of other people overlaid on their vision. They didn't have history with him- that was something Alucard had merely imagined. She was not Sypha Belnades. She was someone even more dangerous.

"Damn. You are lovely," Sypha said. She stood over him and ran a hand over his temple and down to his collarbone. "Now, is that really what you want? Or are you just trying to save Trevor from what's coming to him?"

Alucard grimaced. "B-both."

Sypha smirked. "Then you'd better put on a good show. Stand up and put on the gag."

Alucard rose. He bit into the gag and managed to secure it at the back of his head after a moment's fumbling.

"Can I get close to you?" Sypha asked.

He nodded.

Sypha swallowed. She stepped up to him and put a hand on his shoulder. "Dear god. I want to--"

She was too close. Alucard clenched his jaw around the gag and felt safe in her proximity for the first time.

Sypha moved her hands from his shoulders to his sides and squeezed his chest. "I want to rip you apart," she said.

Alucard chuckled. The imp was writhing in his chest. For once, he knew exactly how she felt.

Sypha brought a hand down. She hooked her fingers through the waistband of his jeans. She tugged. "Huh. We should get you a belt." She slipped his pants off. Then she took his hand. "Come with me."

Alucard followed her to the bed. Trevor sat on the edge with his legs crossed and his hands folded in his lap, looking absurdly demur. Alucard gulped. He was very cute.

Sypha pointed at the bed. "Lay down."

Alucard draped himself onto the mattress. It was warm again, and he felt the imprint of Trevor's body on the sheets.

Sypha grabbed his arm and stretched it out. Alucard heard a chain rattle and waited for cold, unforgiving metal to fasten around his wrist. Instead, there was a sound of cloth being ripped. Something soft and sturdy held his arm in place.

Alucard turned his head. There was a reinforced cloth band holding him down, attached to a chain that he assumed snaked down to wrap around the bed post.

"Get his other arm, pet."

Trevor grabbed his wrist and gently extended his arm. This time, Alucard watched him wrap the cloth cuff in place. Later, he would ask about the material and learn about velcro. Right now, he was viscerally in his own body. Trevor held him at the elbow as he secured his wrist. Alucard suddenly felt the contact warming his blood and sending something vibrant and alive directly back to his heart.

That was going to break him. Alucard groaned into the gag and pressed his head into the pillow. He felt himself wanting. The imp uncurled in his chest and started to writhe. The pillow was rich with the smell of Sypha's shampoo and, under that, her body. Dangerous. This was dangerous.

"Hey," Trevor said. He leaned in close and Alucard felt his breathing. "This okay?"

Alucard raised his head just enough to nod.

"You're not losing circulation?" Sypha asked. She was on his other side, a faint glow compared to Trevor's irresistible heat. She slipped two fingers between the cloth band and Alucard's hand.

Alucard paused. He wasn't sure he had circulation in any typical, human sense. He also needed to stop. He needed to regain his composure. He wanted them- thirsted for them in monstrous waves overwhelming his brain and body. It wasn't even that he'd started to starve. He just wanted. His shrug rattled the chains.

"Why don't we start at the beginning?" Sypha said. She sat on the bed and motioned for Trevor. "You want to service him, don't you?"

"Fuck yes," Trevor breathed. He leaned forward.

Sypha grabbed his chin and brought him up short. "Try again. How about you ask him, nicely?"

Trevor made a face at her. Then he looked up at Alucard. "Bat boy? Can I please suck you off?"

Alucard felt his cock twitch. He whimpered and nodded.

"When was the last time you had a cock in your mouth?" Sypha asked idly.

"Dunno, Miss, about a month ago?" Trevor said. He slipped a hand into Alucard's boxers and took his cock in hand.

"Insolent," Sypha said. She gripped his wrist. "Just with your mouth, pet. And, I meant before that."

"It's been years," Trevor said.

Alucard whined. Trevor was close enough he could feel his breathing.

"Better start practicing," Sypha said. She put a hand on the back of Trevor's head and pushed him forward.

Trevor gulped and sank down until all Alucard could see was his head and shoulders. The band of his boxers was pulled down. Then he felt his tongue.

Alucard moaned and arched his back.

Sypha grinned, showing her teeth. She moved her hand to Trevor's back and sank her nails into his skin. Trevor shivered and paused.

"Oh, don't let me distract you," Sypha said, "I'll fuck you if you can get him off."

Trevor's eyes went wide. He took in a deep breath. Then he stretched his jaw and bent down, taking in as much of Alucard as he could.

Alucard gasped into the gag and sank back. His mouth was soft and hot, and the press of his tongue and throat to his shaft was more than he could stand. Pressure built below Alucard's stomach and he started to pant.

Trevor came up gasping.

"How does he taste?" Sypha asked.

"Fuck," Trevor slurred. He wiped his lips on the back of his hand and went back for more.

Alucard practically sobbed. If he could just focus everything on the keen, throbbing pressure building between his legs and the sinful texture of Trevor's tongue and how ridiculously soft and harmless his mouth was. If he could tune out his heart rate and the red flush spreading from his face down his neck. If he could just savor this without wanting more.

Alucard groaned into the gag. His head jerked forward reflexively, and he flopped back down with his arms restrained. He had to have him. Alucard hissed and pulled at the binds on his wrists.

"Stop," Sypha said.

Trevor pulled away from him with an audible pop. The press of his lips and tongue vanished. Alucard was left wet, cold and throbbing uselessly. He gritted his teeth.

"New rule," Sypha said. She crawled up to him, holding a black length of cloth. "Alucard? I'm going to blindfold you, if your eyes turn red."

Alucard looked up at her. He managed a whimper.

Sypha smirked. "Try to control it. Or not. It doesn't really matter." She wrapped the cloth over his eyes and spoke into his ear. "Because Trevor is going to find the human in you that knows how to come. And you're going to be stuck here, restrained and gagged and blind, until he breaks you."

Alucard gulped. He stretched out his arms. But he could only manage a few inches of helpless squirming. He could barely raise his head.

"Okay pet. You can keep playing with him."

Trevor put his hand on Alucard's thigh. His tongue teased the underside of Alucard's head. It was too sweet. Alucard whimpered. His arms gave out. One of his legs started to twitch. There was something about being tied down and blind that gave all of this a desperate, erotic edge.

He was ready to break.

Trevor fell into a steady pace. Alucard could feel his shoulder muscles working as he bobbed lower and lower onto his shaft. The throbbing pressure below Alucard's stomach made him tremble. He started to buck into Trevor's wet mouth.

If he let himself go, what would happen?

Alucard groaned. His whole body was pulsing now. He felt like the electric kettle, overheated and so close to boiling over. He arched his back and gritted his teeth.

Trevor shifted. He put a hand on Alucard's stomach, and cupped his balls with the other. He picked up the pace. He was trying so hard.

Alucard's head fell back. Every muscle in his wrists and arms and shoulders strained as his body fought the unbearable, mounting pressure. And there was Trevor, his soft lips and wet tongue, his warmth and his breathing. Alucard moaned. He went limp as his body split open. He collapsed, feeling himself pulsing out into Trevor's mouth.

Trevor grunted. He sucked for a few more seconds for good measure and then came up with a gasp. He gulped, and Alucard vaguely remembered his comment about swallowing.

"Good boy," Sypha cooed.

Trevor made a small, questioning moan. It all seemed very far away.

"Yes, pet. Roll over."

Alucard barely heard. He was still breathing hard. There were new, strangely pleasant tingles going through his fingers and toes. If this was what sex was, he wanted more of it.

Alucard gasped when Trevor was draped onto him. He was so warm. Alucard wasn't sure if he wanted to bite him, or just lick the sweat off of his nape as it was so enticingly pressed to his lips. He wanted his smell and warmth and proximity and that, apparently, Sypha was going to indulge.

As though the mere thought had summoned her, someone tapped his shoulder.

"Alucard? How are you doing?" Sypha asked.

Alucard nodded.

"Yes? You're okay?"

Alucard nodded again, a little frantically. They had talked about this. He knew what to do to make this stop. But now- now he needed more.

Sypha chuckled. She squeezed Alucard's shoulder. Then she pressed her body onto Trevor, and started to thrust. Alucard couldn't see. He could barely move or think. But he felt everything. Ever shiver, every thrust, every drop.

 

He ended up with two panting, sweating, very warm humans on top of him. His own pulse had settled down, and he got to enjoy the wonderful tangibility of their bodies. They were solid, real, and still alive over him.

"Alucard?" Sypha breathed. She pressed her hand to his cheek. "I'm taking off the blindfold now. Okay?"

Alucard nodded and squeezed his eyes shut. He felt Sypha fumble with the knot in the cloth and got it loose. Faint, grey light assaulted his closed eyes.

"Okay. Arms next," she said. She clambered over both of them.

"Oww," Trevor squeaked, "Careful."

"Sorry. You know this would be a lot easier if you got off of him."

Trevor's voice was very soft. "But I like being on top of him."

Alucard purred into the gag. One of his hands came loose, and he brought it forward, setting his arm on Trevor's chest. Trevor reached up and squeezed his fingers.

He was ready to see and move again. He was ready, grudgingly, for this to be finished. He blinked until Sypha came into focus. She freed his other arm. She was a cream colored shadow in the grey light, with soft curves and pudge at the hips and stomach. The old Sypha had always been slim to the point of starvation, reflecting a lifetime of poverty and wandering hard roads. This one though, she was the embodiment of vitality, of life. She slipped off the bed. Alucard whined into the gag, afraid she was leaving. But she just stretched, folded her arms and looked back at Trevor.

"Alright. Get off of him."

"Fine," Trevor said. He started to sit up. Alucard squeezed his arms around him.

Trevor twisted his head to look back. His eyes were still unfocused and his hair was half plastered to his face, half sticking up at strange angles. His pulse was slow and soft. He grinned. "You want me to stay?"

Alucard nodded.

"Here," Trevor said. He traced his way up to the back of Alucard's head. "Come on. Let's get this fucking thing off of you."

Alucard gulped. He leaned up to give Trevor access. He wanted his mouth free; his jaw was aching from the strain of the gag. But he wasn't certain it was safe. He still wanted. He was insatiable.

On the other hand, Trevor was exhausted. His pulse was sleepy. Sypha was worn out enough that she was struggling to put a nightshirt on.

The strap came loose and Alucard gingerly pulled the gag out of his mouth. He twisted his jaw, flexing the sore muscles. He cleared his throat.

"We- we'll do this again, right?"

Trevor groaned. "Are you still on?"

"He's still hard," Sypha noted dryly.

"Not- it needn't be now. Just, more."

"Yeah," Sypha said, with a weary smile, "I think we can."

Chapter Text

(past)

Sypha kept her word. They did it again. And again. And again. Alucard learned the shapes of their bodies. He learned the rules- Sypha's rules. How often Trevor got to be unlocked. When to call her Miss, when to ask and when to beg. He learned what Trevor could be punished for, which seemed to depend more on Sypha's mood than Trevor's behavior. He learned the difference between punishments and "funishments", although Sypha kept her word and only ever applied either to Trevor. He got used to having his jaw ache and his vision obscured by a blindfold.

More importantly, according to Sypha, they got used to him.

Trevor figured out how to slip his tongue into Alucard's mouth, regardless of the gag. Sypha discovered his bodies lack of limits. He could stay tied in one position for hours. His muscular endurance and pain tolerance exceeded her expectations. Sypha could barely keep up with it.

"Have I gone soft?" Sypha asked. She had Alucard over her knee, and a paddle in hand. "Trevor. Get your ass over here."

This time, Trevor had been the one relegated to waiting and watching. But he stood up when she called. He stepped over to the bed and bent down, arms on his legs, back arched. He wiggled his ass at her. "Like this?"

"Good boy," Sypha said.

 

Alucard felt her arm twist as she raised the paddle. He heard the impact, and then a crash. Trevor yelped.

"Shit," Sypha hissed.

Alucard twisted around and clambered off of her. He looked over. Trevor had ended up on the floor, whimpered and holding his rear.

Sypha leapt up and got to Trevor's side. "Oh, my poor, suffering pet."

"Yeah, no, you've still got it, Miss," Trevor said. He groaned. "Barbell, by the way."

Alucard sighed. "Told you. My body. It works differently."

"Evidently," Sypha said. She clicked her tongue. "Sorry love. Can I make sure I didn't break anything?"

Trevor nodded. He let Sypha slide of his pants. He caught Alucard's eyes.

"That a vampire thing, then? High pain tolerance?"

"By human measures, yes," Alucard said. He stood off to one side, unsure what he was supposed to do. Pain tolerance aside, being bent over Sypha's knee had made him feel small and vulnerable. It had been fun.

"No fucking fair," Trevor said. He grimaced as Sypha pressed a hand to his tailbone, making sure it was still whole. "You're gonna become her favorite toy."

Alucard chuckled. He was getting used to the names and their meanings. "Pet" and "toy" were strictly for the smouldering, teasing kind of sex that involved some appreciation of his body. "Bloodsucker" carried with it the illusion of anger and the crackling intensity of pain. Trevor, at his most whining, undone and pathetic, might be "puppy". Sometimes they were both simply "boy".

The names were codes for the games Sypha wanted to play. But Alucard didn't have to decipher them. If he shook his head, Sypha would pause. If he pointed to the gag, she'd remove it. She'd explain in tantalizing detail what she intended to do to him. And the details were always tantalizing, even on evenings like that where, after Sypha had ensured that she hadn't injured Trevor, they settled in to watch a movie instead.

Alucard got used to these patterns too. When she was away at work, Trevor and Alucard played more modest games. Sypha had told them not to fuck without her. Instead, Alucard spent hours warm in Trevor's arms while he read or they watched tv. He practiced very carefully brushing his closed lips to Trevor's forehead and temples, the stubble on his jaw and his slightly chapped lips.

These little kisses made Trevor laugh. He'd pick Alucard up and put him in his lap. "Fuck you're soft."

And Alucard accepted that misinterpretation. He didn't need Trevor to know what he was doing was habituating himself. Whenever Sypha decided to unlock Trevor and set the two of them loose, Alucard wanted his thirst and old instincts to stay quiet. He wanted to play without the gag or the blindfold. He wanted to be just an ordinary lover for Trevor. But he knew that was impossible. He could accept this instead.

 

There was also a challenge of stamina. It wasn't a matter of counting orgasms, but a more extended endurance test. As much as Sypha apparently enjoyed being in charge, holding both of them down, doing impact play, whispering obscene things in Alucard's ear- well, she couldn't do it every time.

She lasted an admirable two weeks before she simply couldn't manage the energy for an evening they had planned.

The first bad sign was that she was late. The dinner Trevor made was cold by the time Alucard heard her weary steps up the drive.

Trevor met her at the door. "Hey. You okay, Miss?"

"Yeah," Sypha said as she stepped in, "Yeah." She made it through the entryway before slumping over.

"Yup. Course you are," Trevor said. He got her into his arms.

Sypha didn't protest. But her cheeks turned red. Trevor carried her into the livingroom and set her on the sofa.

"Food?" Alucard asked. He was standing half on the kitchen tile, half on the living room carpet, still not sure where he fit in this.

"See if the chicken's still warm," Trevor said. He pulled off Sypha's shoes.

"I'm sorry," Sypha said, "It's just that--"

"Let me guess. You missed your lunch break? Paperwork was a nightmare? Someone was late for their appointment?"

Sypha nodded. She sank onto the cushions and let Trevor work on her feet.

Alucard shook his head. He got back to the kitchen and estimated how much she would eat. It seemed to vary based on whether she'd been able to eat anything during work or not. He was willing to wager that she hadn't had time today.

When he brought her a plate, Sypha looked up. She considered him, and then looked down to Trevor at her feet.

Alucard put the plate in her lap. "Something wrong, Miss?"

"This is-- nice," Sypha said.

Trevor rolled his eyes. "Wish you'd let us pamper you when you aren't dead on your feet."

"I'm supposed to be in control," Sypha said, in a small, trembling voice that made Alucard want to sweep her into his arms. He settled for perching on the arm rest beside her.

"You still are," Trevor said.

Sypha sighed. "I don't deserve you."

"Bullshit."

"Sypha?" Alucard said. He leaned over and put his lips close to her ear. "You are-- marvelous. We can play some other night."

"Play?" Sypha asked. She looked up at him. Then she winced. "Damn. We were supposed to do stuff tonight, weren't we?"

Trevor shot Alucard a glare. "Don't see why we'd remind you, when you clearly aren't up for it."

"I didn't mean--" Alucard started.

"No," Sypha said, with just enough of a confident edge that both of them looked over at her. "Let's do this. Give me five minutes to eat."

"Sypha," Trevor started.

Sypha lifted her leg and put her foot under his chin. She grinned. "I'm sorry. Were you going to question me, pet?"

Trevor gulped. "No?"

"Good answer. Keep rubbing my feet," Sypha said. She plopped her leg back in his lap. "Alucard?"

"Yes?"

"Are you finished up in the kitchen?"

Alucard looked over. There was food to put away and the pan would need to be washed. "Almost, Miss."

"Do that, and then go get your gag."

Alucard nodded.

Trevor gave no more complaints, but he saw him shaking his head while Sypha still had her head turned.

And maybe Alucard was selfish. But he wanted everything the two of them could give him. He was, fundamentally, a creature of indulgence. He put the chicken away, cleaned up the pan and left it on the rack to dry. Finding his gag was a simple matter of checking the pants he'd left in the laundry basket beside the stairs. He returned to Sypha before Trevor did.

"It's hard for you, isn't it? When you don't know what's coming?" Sypha asked. She set her plate aside.

Alucard tilted his head. "How do you mean?" He picked up the plate.

"With your thirst. When Trevor's on top of you, every response is an act of restraint, isn't it? Especially when he surprises you. Do I have that right?"

Alucard nodded. He put the plate in the sink and went back to her.

Sypha pointed to the floor, silently ordering him to kneel. "New rule," she said, "You aren't allowed to open your mouth when we're close to you."

She said it confidently, but she relented when Alucard didn't respond. She sat up with a wince and put a hand on his shoulder. He looked up at her.

"Alucard?"

"What happens if- when- I break one of these rules?"

"You were very clear," Sypha said, "I'm not going to punish you. But if you can't handle it, I'll pause and gag you."

"Oh," Alucard said. He nodded. "That, that works."

"That's okay?"

Alucard made sure he met her eyes. "Yes."

"Am I interrupting something?"

Sypha looked up. Alucard didn't. He let his head drop and took a deep breath. Just keep his mouth closed. That was simple. Surely he could manage that. Surely that would be better, and exciting for him, when every act of intimacy so far had come with a gag.

"You're just in time, actually," Sypha said, "Are you ready?"

"Yes, Miss," Trevor said.

"Alucard? Ready?"

He nodded to the floor.

"Good," Sypha said. Alucard expected her to stand up. Instead, she settled into a more comfortable position, leaning on the armrest. Her feet were still propped up. "Come here, Trevor. Stand behind him."

"Miss?"

"Don't speak. Just do what you're told."

Trevor didn't answer, but his body did. He stepped into position behind and above Alucard. His pulse moved a touch faster.

"Put your hands on his shoulders," Sypha said.

Alucard shivered. His hands were warm and slightly wet. He must have just washed them.

"Take off his shirt."

His hands moved down Alucard's chest. He found the edge of his shirt and tugged it up. His breath was on Alucard's nape. He could almost feel his lips trembling, his body warming up. Alucard lifted up his hands to give him access.

Trevor pulled his shirt off and gave an appreciative moan. His hands fell on Alcuard's shoulders immediately, warm, greedy and wanting. Alucard leaned back, closing his eyes. He wanted it too. He wanted whatever "it" was going to be, desperately, because Trevor was here.

"Stop."

Trevor's hands froze.

"His pants next," Sypha said.

"Miss?" Alucard asked.

Sypha ignored him. She smirked. "Move him around if you have to."

Trevor was suddenly everywhere. His hands brushed Alucard's wrists, his chest pressed to Alucard's back, his lips grazing his neck, his hair tickling one of Alucard's ears. Alucard closed his eyes. He went limp. Trevor unbuckled his belt, hooked an arm around his stomach and lifted him out of his jeans.

"Oh," Alucard said. He shivered. He gripped at Trevor's hands. His boxers had gone with his pants and he was stooped between them, naked. He felt Trevor's pulse in his wrist, pressed to his stomach. He was very exposed. His legs were shaking.

Sypha clicked her tongue. "You need to get him new clothes. A size smaller, I think. Put his boxers back."

Trevor hesitated for a moment. His breathing was labored and hot. His hands moved out of Alucard's weak hold. He restored Alucard's underwear. His body was so close. His heavy breathes were his own. The thin fabric did nothing to hide Alucard's erection even when it was back in place. Alucard whimpered.

"Bend him over. Onto his hands and knees."

Trevor held Alucard's chest and pushed both of them forward. Something hard brushed his ass. Alucard gritted his teeth. It was plastic, right? Trevor was locked up. He was always locked up.

It was always about restraint. Alucard closed his eyes, feeling red thirst building at the edge of his vision and willing it to recede. He needed to be in control, even if Trevor had him in such a compromised position and was panting over him. Even if he wanted to fuck. Even if he wanted to bite.

Especially if he wanted to bite.

"Kiss down his spine."

A hot cascade of breath and caresses ran across the knobs of Alucard's back. He shivered. He looked up at Sypha and he knew that his eyes were red because he saw her smirk falter.

"Force his head down."

A large, callused hand gripped the back of Alucard's head and pressed him steadily, gently, down. His forehead touched the floor. Trevor's hand was too close, and Alucard wasn't gagged. He trembled with the urgent need to hold his head still. Don't twist, even if he felt Trevor's pulse in his hand. Don't turn.

A whimper escaped from between Alucard's lips.

"Let him go," Sypha said.

Trevor groaned and pulled away.

Alucard lay there twitching, overwhelmed even in Trevor's absence, hearing both of their pulses- smelling Sypha's exhaustion and Trevor's arousal, feeling their desire, their wants, their blood whirling around him like an imminent storm.

"Get the gag from his pants."

Alucard heard the metallic clink of the gag being withdrawn. He gulped.

"Careful now," Sypha said. And the teasing lightness of her voice almost covered the strained edge of tension in the way she emphasised both words. "Put it next to him."

The strap brushed Alucard's cheek. He raised his head just enough that he could see the metal bit at the center. He gave into his instincts for one moment, and lunged for the silver.

"Good. Now fasten it around him."

Trevor gripped the straps and jerked them like reins to get Alucard's head back in place. He secured the buckle in the back.

"Kneel behind him."

Trevor got to his knees with a thud Alucard felt through the floor.

"Put your pelvis to his ass."

Trevor pressed his body to Alucard's. Alucard whimpered.

"Now remind me. What is it you've been begging me to let you do?" Sypha asked. Alucard didn't dare raise his head, but he heard the evil grin in her voice.

Trevor gulped. His hands were on Alucard's hips and he could feel them shaking. They were so close to each other. There were still so many obstacles separating them. But if he would just press his crotch a little harder to Alucard's ass- if there was even one layer of clothing removed- this would be tantalizing, and not torture.

"You can speak," Sypha said, "Now tell me."

"I want to fuck him, Miss."

"How? Give me details."

And confident, crude Trevor suddenly stammered. "I- I want to be unlocked. I want to, umm, lube him up and-"

"Where?"

"Miss?"

"Where do you want to lube him up?"

Alucard could feel Trevor getting warmer. "His-- anus, Miss?"

Alucard moaned and pushed his body backwards, brushing Trevor's stomach and the infuriating plastic.

Fabric hissed and the sofa creaked. Sypha's feet came into view. She was sitting forward now, leaning over him. "Show me."

Trevor's hands squeezed his hips. "What?"

"Here. I will make this very simple," Sypha said, "Pull off his boxers."

Trevor leaned forward, shifting his hands, and then stopped. Sypha had drawn in a breath to speak again.

"With your teeth."

Alucard groaned.

Trevor pressed his lips to his tailbone. The dull, innocent edge of his teeth was unbearable. He caught his waistband and pulled it down. The fabric brushed Alucard's cock as it came off, leaving him more exposed than before. And it should have felt humiliating in the fun sense; the illusion of powerlessness bolstered by the knowledge that he could make it stop with a simple movement of his head.

Instead, something cracked open. A terrible memory bloomed in Alucard's mind. He felt his limbs addled by silver instead of desire, Trevor like a ghost, hard faced and looming over him, the edge of a knife cutting away his clothes. Suddenly, he was back in the basement; powerless, helpless, naked and gagged.

"Gently now. You're not going to penetrate him. Just touch him."

Trevor brought his warm fingers between Alucard's cheeks.

Alucard had frozen. He was being sucked into the memory. The ghost of a spreader bar bit into his ankles, and cold from the concrete made his knees ache. Exposed. Helpless. Ready to be used.

Trevor found the long disused, tight hole between his cheeks. He grazed it with his fingers. And as hard as Alucard felt himself getting, he also felt frigid. He was barely breathing.

No. Yes. No. Please no. But he was already freezing over. He couldn't move. He ached. Where one moment ago he'd been keenly aware of the warmth of Trevor's body, now he felt nothing except numb panic.

"And after you've lubbed him up? Then what do you want?"

"I want to- fuck," Trevor said. His tone changed abruptly. "Fuck. Sypha, stop."

"What? What's wrong?"

"He's not into it," Trevor said. His grip changed. His hands shifted. He put one on the small of Alucard's back and one on his shoulder. "Bat boy? Alucard? Are you okay?"

He could make it stop. He'd forgotten he could make it stop. Alucard shook his head- a tiny, frigid movement.

"Shit," Trevor said. He pulled Alucard's boxers back up and wrapped his arms around him.
"Why didn't you--? Here. Sypha, get me the blanket."

Sypha swooped in. Something warm was wrapped around Alucard. "What happened?"

"Dunno. He went all still."

"Alucard?" Sypha asked, "Is this better?"

Alucard nodded. He sank into Sypha with a gasp. They were the same people. They were different. They had done terrible things to him. They would again. But this time he could make it stop. He could say no. He could negotiate. It could be fun. It was supposed to be fun.

"May I take off the gag?" Sypha asked.

Alucard nodded again. Sypha fiddled with the buckle in the back and it loosened.

It took Alucard an age to get the gag out. He couldn't get his jaw to unclench and his fingers were shaking. He clung to Sypha. She seemed surprised at first. She held him a little awkwardly. Then she relented, sinking into a more comfortable position on the floor and cradling his head.

"Were you in pain?"

Alucard shook his head.

Sypha ran her fingers through his hair. "Overwhelmed?"

Alucard nodded. Then he shook his head again. He finally managed to get the gag out. "Was all fun until- until it wasn't."

Sypha grimaced. Alucard cringed, wondering what he had said wrong. Then he felt her legs shift under him. He remembered how badly her feet must hurt.

"Couch?" he asked. He stood up, trying to shake the memory of aching cold and heavy restraints from his limbs. They lingered as a numbness in his wrists and ankles. He swayed slightly in place.

Sypha nodded. She clambered to her feet, and they collapsed onto the sofa together.

She was lukewarm. Her touches on his shoulders and the back of his neck felt like the fluttering of leaves. He wasn't certain he'd experienced her gentlessness before. It was a relief to know she could provide it. Alucard put his forehead on her collarbone. He shifted his jaw from side to side. It twinged as it loosened. How hard had he clenched his teeth, if he'd gotten so sore in mere moments?

He was sitting on an old, creaky sofa, wrapped in a blanket and an embrace. The similarities had faded, leaving him with a dull feeling of guilt.

"Sorry."

Sypha's touch became a firm, steadying hold. She shook her head. "Don't apologize. You did exactly what you were supposed to."

"What went wrong?" Trevor asked.

Alucard looked over. He'd almost forgotten that Trevor was there. He'd gone and washed his hands again. He picked up Alucard's discarded clothes and took three steps towards the sofa before he stopped. He looked strangely small, staring at his feet.

"I remembered," Alucard said. The word was inadequate. It had felt more like getting drawn into a compulsion, or maybe into night terrors, as the old Sypha had once described them. "Remembered how you-- stripped me. At the beginning."

Trevor offered him his clothes. "When I caught you?"

"Yes," Alucard said. He took them.

Trevor sank onto his knees in front of him.

"Trevor? This isn't your fault. I had the reins," Sypha said.

Trevor shook his head. "This was- my fantasy. My dirty, perverted-"

"Stop," Alucard said. He leaned forward and put his hand on Trevor's forehead. "Don't t-talk about yourself. Like that."

Trevor leaned into his palm. Alucard felt his groan vibrating through his hand. "I want to top you, though."

"Same?"

Trevor's lip twitched in spite of himself. "You want to top? Or to be topped?"

Alucard imagined being on top of Trevor, Trevor warm and straining and aroused, his neck accessible if he just bent forward. He shivered. "Be topped."

"So it was the way that we went about this, and how you were stripped, that was the problem? It was too similar?"

"Yes."

"I'm sorry," Trevor said.

"This was fun," Alucard said, "I didn't mean to- derail it, necessarily. I just-"

"Can I join you?" Trevor asked.

Alucard nodded. Trevor sat on the couch on his other side. "I'm sorry."

Alucard looked over at him. "You don't have to--"

"No, I mean, I'm sorry for all the things I did to you. The way I treated you, at the beginning. It was cruel, and senseless, and I regret it."

Alucard opened his mouth. He closed it again. Trevor hadn't actually apologized. Not for that.

"Thank you," he said. He took Trevor's hands and squeezed them. "You were still kind, to me. K-kinder than I deserved."

"I want to do better. I want to spoil you. I want to be so good to you that it puts all of that to shame. I don't know how to do that."

Alucard shrugged.

"I can't even take you on a date," Trevor said. He lifted one of his hands out of Alucard's hold. He held the side of his face. There was a desperate feel to the way the tips of his fingers squeezed his cheekbone. He squeezed his eyes shut. "I can't treat you right."

"Trevor," Alucard said.

"I'm sorry," Trevor said. He opened his eyes again. He looked over at Alucard. His eyes searched Alucard's face. What was he looking for?

Then Trevor looked down, to Alucard's bare chest half-covered by the blanket. "Look. How about this? Can I buy you some new clothes? Something that fits?"

Alucard blinked. "I'd like that."

"Do you want to come with? We could go to a quiet shop."

"Quiet?" Alucard asked. He raised an eyebrow.

"Just us and a cashier, if we went on a weekday evening."

"What's a cashier?"

Trevor chuckled. He gave a brief description of the role, and the couple of shops in town.

Alucard grimaced. "So there would still be p-people, there."

"Well, yeah."

"Wouldn't they notice?" Alucard asked. He swept a hand over his face to indicate what, to him, were clear indicators that he wasn't human.

Trevor shrugged. "I mean, maybe. We could put some blush on you. But it's not like anyone's going to look at you and instantly think vampire. No one believes in that stuff anymore and besides, it's not like you have any f-" He trailed off.

Alucard sighed. "Can I just tell you? What I'd like?"

"Course you can," Trevor said. He looked over. "Sypha, is it okay if we get-- oh."

The soft exclamation caught Alucard's attention. He looked over.

Sypha was slumped onto the armrest. Her chest and shoulders heaved as he watched. Her eyes were closed.

"Asleep?" Alucard asked, trying to suppress a note of envy.

"Not surprising, after the week she's had," Trevor said. He got to his feet and stretched.

"Should we w-wake her?"

Trevor shrugged. "I'd prefer to live, personally. But I'll move her to the bedroom."

Alucard watched him gingerly lift her. He shook his head. "You like carrying both of us."

Trevor cradled her in his arms. She looked small and delicate in his hold. Alucard wondered, vaguely, if he did too.

"I like taking care of her. When she'll let me," he said. He headed back to the bedroom.

When he returned a moment later, he found Alucard clothed and more himself. He'd had a moment to compose himself. "I'd like to- to try this again," he said.

"What? Fucking?" Trevor asked. He started instinctively towards the kitchen.

"Not tonight. Just, sometime. When you're unlocked," Alucard said. He closed his eyes. "I want this to work."

"So do I," Trevor said. Alucard heard his footsteps stop on the kitchen tiles. "Shit. Did you already clean the kitchen?"

Alucard grinned. "You barely made a mess this time."

Trevor shook his head. "Alright. Tell me exactly what you'd like to wear."

He returned to the sofa, and Alucard put his head on his shoulders, and they puzzled out what he might be allowed, and like, to wear together.

 

"Did they always fit this badly?" Trevor asked, throwing Alucard's second pair of jeans into a pile of clothes to be donated. "Did I just drastically misjudge your size?"

Alucard shook his head. He inspected the back of the drawer. It was empty. They had sorted through everything. "Lost weight."

"Because you're not getting enough blood?"

"Yes," Alucard said. He shrugged. "There's no such thing. As enough. Not really. If I feed it- my thirst- it just craves more and more."

"But you're wasting away. We're fucking starving you, aren't we?"

"Can't starve," Alucard said. He stood up and threw a last shirt that was just too brightly colored for him to wear onto the pile.

"You know what I mean."

Alucard considered the pile in front of him. It was small, at least compared to the variety of tunics and hose and overcoats he'd had once, in a castle that had vanished centuries ago. A shirt sleeve that was sticking out was bright red. He couldn't fathom why Trevor had brought him something that color.

If he looked back at Trevor and really told him what his thirst was like when he let it loose- if he described the imp clawing at his insides, and how swiftly it could grow into a hulking, snarling demon- if he told Trevor of the blood soaked years when he had killed almost every week he'd been awake and still not been satisfied- still found the high too fleeting and the crash too fast- if he really explained the kind of addict he had been, and still was, would Trevor understand? Would it finally impart to him why it was so important that he stay under someone's control?

Or would Trevor shudder, and step away? Would it frighten him?

Alucard wasn't ready to find out. He picked up the pile and put it in Trevor's arms.

"Go get me some new clothes."

Trevor shook his head. "Alright."

Chapter Text

(past)

He returned to Alucard that afternoon with fine things. Two pairs of tight fitting jeans, soft shirts in white and grey, and boxers that he said were in the smallest of the adult sizes.

None of it was decadent like Alucard's old clothes had once been. But he supposed that lace trim and hand embroidery had fallen out of fashion. It was more than enough that they fit, and he wasn't dressed in anything that made him squint anymore.

Besides, he apparently looked good in his new wardrobe. When he stepped out of the bathroom, changed, Trevor whistled.

"Fuck me."

Alucard grinned. He closed the distance between them and put his hands on Trevor's shoulders. "Yes?"

"I mean, yeah," Trevor said. He pressed his hands to Alucard's hips. He closed his eyes and groaned. "I'll, umm, ask Sypha."

Alucard bit his lip. He leaned in and put his lips to Trevor's ear. "You know where your k-key is."

Trevor looked at him- really looked at him. His breath caught and he braced his shoulders. Then he closed his eyes and sighed. "Yeah. I do. And I'd like to keep it that way. Sypha trusts me."

"Fine," Alucard said. He let the word tickle Trevor's ear before he backed away. And as light and teasing he tried to keep his look as he went back to try on his other shirts, he envied Trevor. Trevor, he supposed, had self-control.

They'd make their case to Sypha. Even then, Alucard saw the way the dynamic between the three of them was unfolding. Sypha was an arbiter between them as much as she was a participant.

 

Sypha, it seemed, had something specific in mind. She made them wait. She kept Trevor locked up and visibly relished his frustration. She said she didn't want any more mistakes. They did nothing- except cuddling and little acts of service- until after Alucard was fed again, and even after that not until she had a day off.

Finally, she walked up to Trevor as he was carrying up the laundry one morning. She spoke in his ear, so softly that Alucard didn't hear. He put down the book he'd been reading and peered out from his room.

Was it time?

He pressed his legs together and took a deep breath. In spite of the wait, he wasn't sure he was ready. Sypha could make him wait years and he still wouldn't really be prepared for this. He listened to the two sets of footsteps, Sypha's light and excited, Trevor's heavy and hesitant, as they headed back to the bedroom.

The next wait felt the longest. Even though it couldn't have been more than thirty minutes, and it had been almost three weeks. Alucard strained to hear. Cloth hissed and velcro ripped. Trevor whimpered. A zipper was undone.

Alucard gritted his teeth. He started pacing.

Finally, there was a rap on his door.

Alucard twisted. Sypha stood in the doorway. She grinned. "May I come in?"

"Of course I- wait. What?"

"May I come in? To your room?" Sypha asked.

"Oh. Yes."

Sypha stepped in. Alucard forced himself to hold still. He considered her. Her cheeks were flushed. She was excited. She pointed to the floor. "Kneel."

Alucard sank to his knees and looked up at her.

Sypha leaned over him. "I have Trevor waiting for you."

Alucard gulped. "Unlocked?"

"Unlocked," Sypha said. She smiled- a dangerous expression with too much teeth for Alucard to trust it.

Alucard raised his arms, asking to be picked up and brought through the ward.

Sypha clicked her tongue. She held up one finger. "I am not letting you into the bedroom until you are ready. Do you understand?"

And Alucard nodded, because he was tired of waiting. He knew the rules and Sypha knew his limits. Even if he didn't know what was going to happen, he knew what wouldn't, and that was enough, and fuck he wanted Trevor.

Sypha tapped her finger to his nose. "Alright. Strip."

Alucard pulled off his shirt. He unbuttoned his pants. They were tighter fitting than the old pairs. He had to twist a bit to pull them off. He tugged off his underwear and looked up.

Sypha shook her head.

"Miss?"

"It's nothing," she said, "We can practice that later. Now hold still."

Alucard put his hands on his bare knees and waited. Sypha prowled around him. She traced her fingers across his collarbone.

Was he ready? Alucard had no idea. He only had the vaguest sense of how this was supposed to work. It had been hundreds of years since he'd had sex, and it had been in such a drastically different context he doubted anything that he did remember still applied.

Sypha hooked her arms under him and dragged him through the ward.

Alucard's limbs twitched. The humming of holy magic was in his throat and behind his eyes. Gold lights filled his vision. It felt almost medicinal now- cleansing, like cleaning a wound. When he was recovering from the wards, it was one of the rare times when the imp was truly quiet and still.

He came round to a low, long, plaintive whimper. Alucard was curled in on himself. His arms rested on his legs and his forehead brushed his knees. He picked himself up, blinking. He was in the hallway. Sypha had only taken him through one ward. He looked through the bedroom door and moaned.

Sypha sat on the bed, fully clothed, one leg propped on the other. She grinned and reached down a hand. She ruffled Trevor's hair and he whined again.

He was truly naked, no clothes and no plastic cage on his cock, which swayed slightly as he strained. His arms were behind his back. Alucard guessed that Sypha had tied them to the bedpost. He stared at Alucard, panting. He was so inviting, with a visible sheen of sweat on his straining arms and chest, his face and cock flushed red.

There was also an impassable barrier between them. Alucard dragged his head back to Sypha. A little begging was in order. "Please, Miss?"

Sypha tilted her head. "Please what?"

"Please let him f-fuck me."

"If I unchain him now," Sypha said, "All he's going to be able to do is pin you down and hump you like a desperate dog until he creams himself. And as-- amusing as that would be, I have bigger plans."

Trevor groaned. Even from this distance, Alucard saw a single gleaming drop form on his cock head.

Sypha grabbed something from the bedside table and stepped through the doorway. Alucard stared up at her. Was it all this easy for her, as simple as crossing through an open door? Again, he swallowed down envy.

Sypha held a container of clear fluid in front of him now. It looked like soap to Alucard, especially with the dispenser on top.

"Do you know what this is?"

Alucard narrowed his eyes. He had one guess. "Lube?"

Sypha smiled. "Good guess."

"Are you g-going to lube me up for him?"

"Nope," Sypha said. She pressed the container into his hands. "You are."

"I am?" Alucard asked. He raised an eyebrow.

Sypha gripped his chin. "You are going to get yourself ready. And I'm going to watch. And when I've decided that you are wet and stretched enough, I will carry you through and get you into position and let Trevor fuck you. Understood?"

Alucard shivered. His cock throbbed, and the lube felt heavy in his hands. Yes, he understood. He nodded.

"Then I recommend you get started before Trevor cums on himself instead," Sypha said. She patted Alucard's cheek and then walked back to the bed.

Trevor whined and leaned back, resting his head at a funny angle on the edge of the mattress. His body was straining on the restraints. His shoulders looked ready to snap. "Please? Please let me help, Miss?"

"Poor pet," Sypha said, "You wouldn't be any help if you were over there."

It was cruel, to make Trevor wait any longer. Alucard took a deep breath, steeling himself. He pumped lube onto his hand and rubbed it between his fingers. It was thicker than he'd expected, more like a balm than water.

"You do know where it goes, right?" Sypha asked.

Alucard looked up. He saw her eyes glittering. He stuck out his tongue at her. He did, at least in a vague way. But doing this in front of her was intimidating. It was humiliating. Did she really expect him to get into a fetal position and finger himself while she watched? While both of them watched?

Something dripped onto Alucard's thigh. He looked down. His cock was hard and swollen, leaking onto him.

Maybe Trevor wasn't the only one in danger of coming too soon.

And if it meant that Trevor got to fuck him? His hands on Alucard's hips and his breath on his back and some warm, pulsing, vital part of him inside him? Well, yes. Any humiliation was worth that.

Another drop fell onto Alucard's thigh.

Alucard gave in. He bent forward, put more lube on his fingers, and brought his hand back.

Sypha giggled. "Have you ever used that hole before?"

Alucard ignored her. He realized he needed two hands to do this- one to spread his cheeks apart so he could explore with his fingers.

He had a hole back here, right? Trevor had found it. He ought to know his own body better than this. He traced his fingers down, leaving an obscene feeling trail from his tailbone. Finally, he found it- just an innocent feeling divot in his flesh. Small and sensitive at the tap of his finger.

Sensitive. Alucard moaned.

Trevor whined. "Mistress? Please?"

It took more lube than was left on Alucard's fingers to work his way in. He switched hands, pumping a slick finger inside himself. The stretch didn't hurt, exactly, but it was a strange sensation. He was cinched impossibly tight around his finger.

Trevor was too far away for him to hear his heartbeat, but he did hear his panting and intermittent whines.

"Enjoying the show?" Sypha asked.

She was addressing Trevor, not him. She wasn't paying attention to him. Alucard let out a breath he didn't realize he'd been holding. Suddenly, his finger slipped in easily, the muscles loosening.

He could do this. He was human enough. Half was enough.

"Fuck. He's so pretty."

Sypha laughed. "He's trying so hard for you, pet. Will you be ready for him?"

"Yes."

Alucard sank forward, forcing everything to go limp. He wiggled a second finger in. He didn't know if it was arousing, exactly, to penetrate himself, but it was certainly a sensation he could feel.

"Are you sure?" Sypha asked, "Will you be able to last long enough to satisfy him?"

Trevor whimpered.

Sypha's voice turned low. Alucard glanced up. She was speaking into his ear. "Or are you going to break as soon as you feel how tight and wet he is?"

Trevor closed his eyes and leaned back. Alucard could see his heavy breaths radiating through his chest. "I- I might, Miss."

"Should I blindfold you? Would that calm you down so you last?"

Trevor's eyes flicked over to Alucard, and then back to her.

Sypha's grin widened. "Or do I need to hurt you?"

Trevor swallowed. "Fuck."

"Make your choice," Sypha said. She reached forward and tugged at his hair.

"What happens if I cum early?"

"Then I'll get my cock and peg both of you."

Trevor shuddered. "Blindfold me."

"Good choice," Sypha said.

Alucard was so absorbed in listening and watching as she teased him, and tied a cloth over his eyes, that he barely noticed his own pumping motions getting deeper and more steady. He didn't realize he was panting until Trevor stopped, and went quiet in the dark.

"Alucard? Having fun?"

Alucard nodded.

"Is this okay?" Sypha asked. She looked back and tilted her head. "Do you feel okay?"

"Yes," Alucard said. He arched his back. His fingers had found one particular spot, roughly textured, that responded to his touch. Every little pass sent a shiver of pleasure up his spine. He dripped again. He was forming a small puddle on the floor.

Alucard gulped. "Ready, Miss."

"Show me," Sypha said.

Alucard raised an eyebrow.

"Turn around and show me your ass," Sypha said.

Trevor moaned.

Alucard twisted around. He heard the bed springs squeak as Sypha stood up. He got into position, showing her his ass.

"Spread your cheeks."

Alucard fell forward as he brought his hands back. He exposed himself to her, wet and loosened up.

"Huh," Sypha said, "You're clean back here, aren't you?"

"Clean?" Alucard rasped. He felt soaked and dirty, holding himself open for her, precum smearing onto his thigh.

"Can I touch you?"

When Alucard nodded, she pressed a single finger to his hole.

Alucard tilted his head back and moaned.

"Can I, umm-?"

Alucard twisted. He couldn't quite see her face- not when she was directly behind him. But he felt her hand shaking slightly.

"S-sodomize me?" Alucard asked.

He heard Sypha flinch. She removed her fingers. "Well, I mean, yes."

Alucard shifted his knees back, bring himself closer to her. He spoke to the floor. "Please?"

"No fucking fair," Trevor whimpered, "Why do you get to have him first?"

Sypha put a hand on Alucard's hip. "I'm just making sure he's ready for you, pet."

Alucard heard a squirt. She was lubing up her own fingers.

"Please, Miss?" Alucard asked.

"Only because you're putting on such a lovely show," Sypha said. She pressed the pads of two fingers to Alucard's opening. "And I want to make Trevor wait just a little while longer."

"Misssss? That's cruel," Trevor said. Alucard couldn't see him anymore, now that he was bent over. But he imagined him, still naked and chained to the bed, the blindfold further mussing up his hair, his arms and chest muscles taut and almost as inviting as his cock, erect and exposed between his bent legs.

Sypha slid two fingers into him, and Alucard cried out, almost coming right there on the floor. She pumped him once, twice, three times in a continuous motion, deeper than he could reach on his own.

"It's sadistic, actually," Sypha said. In spite of what her hand was putting him through, her voice was steady and technical. "And you should be begging me."

From somewhere far away from the immediacy of Alucard's body, someone gulped.

"Please, Miss?"

"Please what?" Sypha asked. She brushed that critical spot Alucard had found. He whimpered and melted into the floor.

"Please can I fuck him?"

Sypha slowed her fingers, deliberately stroking him. "You'll be gentle with him?"

Alucard trembled.

"Yes. P-please?"

Her fingers were barely moving now. Alucard whimpered. He tried to thrust onto them. Sypha put a hand on his ass, holding him still.

"You'll make sure he cums?"

Alucard moaned.

"Course."

"Alright," Sypha said. She leaned in. In spite of her voice, her pulse was loud and high as she put her throat close to him. "Alucard? Still okay?"

Alucard nodded.

Sypha gently pulled her fingers out. She picked him up.

Holy magic chased the tingling excitement in his limbs. It was his turn to be rendered blind and helpless. He felt himself go limp, except between his legs where he was already far too excited to be brought down.

He didn't feel it when Sypha set him on the bed. But he smelled it- Trevor, intoxicating and warm, Sypha cold and rousing- their smells in the sheets that his face was pressed into. He just heard velcro ripping.

Trevor mounting him for the first time, though? That, Alucard felt. His moan caught in his throat.

Trevor growled in response. He put his hands in Alucard's hair. Then he swore under his breath and let go. He took Alucard's shoulders instead.

"Sh-shit," he said. He brushed Alucard's ass.

"Oh," Alucard breathed. He knew, in theory, that human body heat varied. But he'd forgotten the specific, sinful, molten sensation of Trevor's cock, which throbbed over his tailbone. He felt the burning trail Trevor left on his body. He wanted that inside of him. He wanted to be so warm and so opened up and used that he forgot how cold he'd once been.

Trevor grunted. He rutted into the small of Alucard's back again. Alucard felt his whole body straining, his cock trembling, his arms grasping. He panted on top of him.

"You have to get inside him, pet."

"I. Know," Trevor breathed, "But I can't." He jerked onto Alucard helplessly.

Sypha laughed. She leaned in, appearing at the edge of Alucard's vision. She reached down, and Trevor stopped.

"Here," Sypha said. Alucard felt her hand, cold in comparison to Trevor's cock as she held it. She pushed him back till his legs weren't jamming Alucard into the bed frame. She put a hand on Alucard's ass and steadied him. Alucard hadn't realized he was shaking.

Sypha angled Trevor's cock to his opening. She clicked her tongue. "Gently now."

Trevor groaned. He sank slowly into him.

Alucard whimpered. Trevor was wider than Sypha's fingers had been. He had tensed up again, and Trevor was stretching him. Alucard surrendered control of his body, slumping forward. Trevor's warm, pulsing head suddenly struck that sweet spot and Alucard gasped. His abdomen cinched. His eyes shot open and he grasped at the blankets. He was on fire. Trevor was melting him and he barely noticed that he was panting and moaning and pulsing out onto the sheets.

Alucard started shaking, which only managed to get Trevor a few sweet centimeters deeper, pressed harder to the cluster of nerves inside him. Trevor grunted.

"There you go," Sypha said, "Now have fun."

She withdrew, and Trevor started to thrust. He put his hands on Alucard's hips, panting with every pass. Alucard was with him. He moaned, shaking and staining Sypha's sheets.

"Wait," Trevor breathed, "Shit. Did you-?"

He started to pull out.

Alucard arched his back, rising as much as he was able. He gasped. "No. D-don't go. Please."

"But. Did- did you cum?"

"Keep going," Alucard said, suddenly urgent and still insatiable.

Trevor growled. He pushed forward and filled Alucard, throbbing and hot. And if Alucard could just get him deeper, harder, faster, maybe he'd finally understand what it was like to have a human body; finite, vital, whole. Maybe he'd feel human.

Trevor squeezed his hips. Then he put his hands on either side of Alucard's shoulders. He groaned, sinking until his pelvis pressed Alucard's ass.

"F-fuck," he moaned, "You feel. So good."

Alucard purred. He was filled and stretched around Trevor's girth. The tingling strain below his stomach had lessened, but it was still there, winding around the idea of being taken, claimed, used.

"You having fun?" Sypha asked.

"Yes," Trevor hissed. His thrusts were turning furious.

"Is it nice to have a toy to fuck?"

If he answered, Alucard didn't hear. Trevor was pulsing. Every thrust seemed a little more intense and strained. He was close, based on his pulse and the way he was panting.

A distant part of his brain that was still working observed that Alucard was close too.

"Here," Sypha said, "Let me make this a little more interesting." She sat on the bed and brought up her legs. Her knee brushed the side of Alucard's face and he looked up.

"Is it what you expected?" Sypha asked.

Alucard blinked. He could barely think, and Trevor's increasing pace was threatening to break him again. "It's-- better."

Sypha chuckled. "You like being used by him?"

Trevor suddenly bucked harder than before. His head slammed into that sensitive cluster of nerves. Alucard groaned and nodded.

"What does that make you? The toy of my toy?"

Alucard sank back down, moaning.

"Didn't you already cum?" Sypha asked mildly. Her hand slipped between his chest and the sheets.

Alucard gasped as she reached his cock and cupped her hand around his head. The tiny stimulation was more than he could handle, combined with the feeling of Trevor pounding him.

"You did," Sypha said. An acerbic combination of amusement and distaste colored her voice. Her hand retreated and Alucard whined. He was so close. If she would just keep her hand there.

Trevor had apparently found his rhythm. He squeezed Alucard's hips with every pass, driving his cock into him. His hands started to shake.

"You want me to jerk you off?" Sypha asked.

Alucard was too far gone to wonder what that meant. He nodded wildly.

"Alright. Raise your head and stick out your tongue."

He dragged his head up, panting, tongue out like he was running full tilt in wolf form.

Sypha smeared her cum covered fingers onto his tongue while her other hand reached back. She found his cock again and started to stroke. It was far too much- the humiliation of tasting himself, Trevor wet and hot inside him, Sypha's confident hold on his cock. He started to buck, barely registering that Trevor was doing the same.

"M-Miss?" Trevor rasped. He almost pulled out before slamming into him again. "Miss, can I? Cum?"

"Of course."

Trevor grunted. He was splitting Alucard open, his cock pulsing wildly and Alucard hoped he was cumming because he felt himself breaking in Sypha's hand. She cleaned her fingers on his tongue and Alucard licked frantically as he broke and Trevor pumped him full of his seed.

So, yes. Perhaps he could cum without biting.

Chapter Text

(past)

"So it that another vampire thing?"

Alucard looked up. He was wrapped in a blanket, clothed and wonderfully warm from the shower he'd taken. He put down the comb.

Maybe Sypha had been right, to make them wait until after he had fed. Despite everything they'd just done, his body was light and loose as he shifted. His jaw didn't ache when he answered, "Vampire thing?"

"You know," Trevor said. He ran a hand through his hair, sending droplets in every direction. He'd washed up after Alucard. He still hadn't put a shirt back on. Alucard didn't mind. "That you, uhh, came twice?"

"Is that unusual?"

"I mean, most guys don't have the stamina to-" Trevor started. Then he saw Alucard's grin. "Oh, you bastard."

Alucard couldn't help it. He showed Trevor his teeth. "It is. A product of my heritage, I mean."

"Must be real fucking nice," Trevor said.

Alucard patted the cushion next to him. Trevor accept the invitation and sat heavily. He sagged back onto the sofa. He was tired, then. Alucard and Sypha, between them, had worn him out.

"Belmont was always trying to keep up," Alucard said. He picked up the comb again and fidgeted absently with the teeth.

"Yeah. I have a funny feeling I'll be doing the same," Trevor said. He yawned.

Alucard chuckled. He looked back, and resisted the temptation to nuzzle himself into Trevor's chest. He needed to let him recover.

A noise from the hallway distracted him. Alucard tilted his head. It was just Sypha, opening the bedroom door and heading to the bathroom. He heard her turn on the tap for another shower. That was a miracle to him- being able to produce enough warm, clean water for three people to bathe.

"Is she s-satisfied, then?"

He realized the question came out of nowhere as he spoke it. He expected Trevor's confusion. But Trevor sighed and nodded.

"She doesn't want it to be about her, when she's domming. So, yeah. It's not unusual if she doesn't come. Especially now that I'm locked up and don't have any endurance."

"That feels-- wrong."

"She'd say that any good session is about acting out the subs fantasies. And I know she enjoys it. Breaking us."

Alucard shivered.

"She's still getting used to you, I think. So she wants to be this cool, confident dom."

Alucard furrowed his brow. "It's all, what? An act?"

"Dunno. There's a scripted ascept to the games we play. Give her time. Give us time to figure you out."

Alucard settled back into the blanket and pillows. He grinned. "Only if you'll afford me the same."

"Course," Trevor said. He yawned again and draped his arm around Alucard's shoulder. "Was that alright, by the way?"

Alucard twisted his head. He pressed his lips together and kissed the inside of Trevor's arm. "Was nice. What about you?"

"Maybe you didn't notice, bat boy. I was really into it."

Alucard purred. He settled into Trevor's hold. This was nice- the lazy days that Sypha had off. No work, no hunts. He got to be greedy with them.

 

But of course, the work and hunts started again. Alucard was in the kitchen when Sypha got home the next day. He heard her yawn, force off her shoes, and step into the livingroom. It was evening- the clock on the microwave read 9:06 pm.

Sypha sat on the sofa and looked around. "Trevor already asleep?"

Alucard shook his head. He was wiping down the kitchen counters. "Hunting."

"Really? What is it now? A demon?"

"He thinks so," Alucard said. He paused. He tilted his head towards the door. He heard Trevor's car pulling in.

"Speak of the devil," Sypha said. She raised her head. "That was fast."

Alucard nodded. His brow furrowed. Something was wrong. The car door slammed open and didn't close. Trevor's heavy steps towards the front door were uneven and strained.

Alucard turned around. Sypha leaned forward with a grimace.

Alucard listened for a knock, or the sound of keys in the lock. Instead, something slammed into the door. He jumped back and starred.

"Trevor?" Sypha asked. She staggered upright and limped to the hallway.

Alucard followed her. He smelled it the moment Sypha opened the door. Trevor slumped forward through the entryway, clutching his shoulder.

"Hey guys," he said. Bright and vibrant red seeped between his fingers and stained his shirt. His face was pale and strained. "I, uhh." He sank to his knees. "I mighta-"

"You're bleeding," Sypha said flatly, as though they weren't all keenly aware of this.

"Yeah, I uhh, reckon you're right," Trevor said.

"Of course I am," Sypha said. She grabbed his arms with absolutely steady hands and helped him to the floor. Whatever she felt, and Alucard could hear her heart rate soaring, her medical training had kicked in. "Alucard?"

"Y-yes?" Alucard said. He was barely coherent. He couldn't avert his eyes from the red spilling out of Trevor. A shoulder wound- not the neck. Humans generally survived shoulder wounds, right?

"Get my med kit."

"Med kit?"

"The dark blue bag under the bathroom sink," Sypha said. She pulled up Trevor's shirt and spared Alucard a look. "Go. Now."

Alucard swallowed down thirst and fear. He nodded and ran down the hallway. He returned a moment later with the kit like a brick in his hands. It felt paltry and small compared to the superimposed image of Trevor collapsed and bleeding out on the floor. It was closing in on him from the other end of the hallway. This red and throbbing vision was a nightmare and a fever dream.

"Why didn't you go to the ER?" Sypha said. Now, a bit of panic was slipping into her voice, giving it a shrill edge.

"O-only noticed I was bleeding. Five minutes ago."

Sypha shook her head. She must have heard Alucard returning with his heavy, awkward footsteps. But she didn't look up. Her hand shot out and gestured for him. "Give it to me."

Alucard fumbled and handed the kit over. Sypha took it and zipped it open easily. She grabbed gauze and bandages.

"How- How can I help?"

Sypha put the gauze on the wound on Trevor's shoulder and used both hands to press it in place. Alucard had seen his mother do similar things hundreds of years ago. Apply pressure and get the blood to clot. But it was still flowing. Alucard tasted it on his labored breaths.

Sypha looked up and back at him. "Alucard?"

"Yes?"

Sypha jabbed her head onto the open door to Alucard's bedroom "Stick yourself in the ward."

"What?"

"Your irises are red," Sypha said, "I can't control you right now."

Alucard blinked. In that moment, he loathed her. He hated the cold, superior way that she stared at him, the tone of voice that expected to be obeyed, the easy, automatic way she had pulled off Trevor's shirt. He hated that she was right. Underneath the weight of panic, the imp was squirming in his chest.

"I will let you out once he's patched up."

Alucard took three steps backwards and punched his hand into the holy ward.

It was different from being forced through, or slamming into one of the damn things head first. His fingers went numb and tingly immediately. Currents of humming lightning rippled up his arms to his shoulder and chest.

He could still hear. He could still see.

"This shouldn't-" Sypha was saying. That note of panic was louder now, and her voice wavered. "Why isn't it staunching?"

Alucard felt the ward hit his spine. He gritted his teeth as his legs spasmed and gave out. But she was right- too much blood- more than should come from a shoulder wound. And underneath the sweet, red glow in Alucard's mouth and brain, below the ominous buzz and the glow spreading in his senses, Alucard could just taste it. There was a tiny, malignant, purple tendril of a spell trailing off of Trevor- something designed to be subtle.

Alucard was sinking forward- his legs and spine and head giving out, overwhelmed by the glow. His tongue felt numb and he tasted pins and needles as he opened his mouth. But he needed to speak.

"It- it's a hex, Sypha."

He couldn't see anymore. Giant white spots overwhelmed his vision. But he could hear her over the peel of bells.

"What?

"The b-bleeding won't stop, unless you," Alucard started. His jaw was shaking. He couldn't hear himself speak. "You've got to break it."

"H-how do I?"

"Evil- evil eye," Alucard rasped, "You've got to- to-"

His voice gave out. Alucard's head lolled forward. He saw and heard nothing. Panic and golden light suffocated him. Trevor was there, dying on the floor and even if he was free, and sitting beside him, he would be able to do nothing. He had no magic to tap, woefully outdated medical knowledge, and thirst still aching in his throat.

The silver tang of a spell distracted him. Sypha had cast-- something.

It was inexcusable, that she had so little knowledge. An untrained mage was dangerous. It was a miracle that she had managed to put holy wards on the house without setting it on fire.

And if he hadn't been so damned frightened of her, Alucard could have helped. He knew. He might be the last relic on earth with true knowledge of old magic. He could have taught her.

Alucard sank into the spell, knowing and feeling nothing except a dull kind of fear. Finally, a small, warm hand gripped his wrist. Sypha pulled him loose and caught his chest to keep him from falling on his face.

"Is he-?" Alucard stammered.

"He's going to be okay. Take it easy," Sypha said. She helped Alucard down and told him to put his head between his knees.

"There," Sypha said, "Now take a deep breath for me."

Alucard dragged in a breath. The floor was coming into focus. He gripped his hands to his knees and felt the tingles fade. "Did, did it work?"

"Like a charm," Sypha said.

Alucard shook his head. "Just a sigil."

"That's not-- nevermind," Sypha said. She shook herself. "Are you in control of yourself? I need help getting him on the couch."

Alucard raised his head and very deliberately let her see the gold in his eyes. He noticed that the hallway had stopped swaying. "I am. Doubt I'll be much help, though."

Sypha squeezed his shoulder. "You've already been a huge help." She offered him her other hand.

Alucard took it and let her help him to his feet. He blinked away the last spots and shook the hum from his fingers and looked around.

Trevor lay in the entryway. A smear of his blood covered his chest and hands, part of the floor, and a swath of the wall between the door and the closet. It had dried brown. His face was pale, his eyes closed, but he was breathing noticeably under the bandages. Alucard heard a steady heartbeat as he stepped in.

Then he saw the mark Sypha had put on the bandage. He got to Trevor's side and chuckled. He traced the simple, open eyed symbol on the white gauze that had been made with blood. "Suppose that's one way."

"I was in a bit of a hurry," Sypha pointed out. She came to Trevor's other side. She brushed his hair from his brow and leaned in.

"You didn't need to draw it," Alucard said, "A hand symbol would h-have sufficed."

Sypha shook her head. "You'll have to show me sometimes."

Alucard sighed. He withdrew his hand. "I assumed you knew your sigils."

"I barely know anything," Sypha said, "It's just what I played with, when I was a kid. Elemental magic. I didn't even learn the holy stuff till I was snooping around online."

"We should remedy that. You, you should be trained."

Trevor mumbled something. Sypha bent over him. "Trevor? What is it?"

Trevor repeated the unfamiliar word. "Nerds." He started wheezing.

Sypha shook her head. "Glad you're okay."

"Just wanted. To repaint. The hallway."

"What?" Alucard asked. He considered the large, rusty stains on the wall to his left. "In your blood?"

"Beige is. So tacky," Trevor said.

"You're delirious and going into shock, love. Let's get you to the couch."

"Right. Couch. Much better place to go into shock," Trevor mumbled. He ignored both of their hands and stood up with surprising ease. "You can stop fusing. I'm f-" He took one step forward and crumpled.

Alucard reached him first, slipped under his shoulder and kept him upright. He gritted his teeth, trying to keep Trevor steady. He was heavy.

"Trevor," Sypha said. She rushed in and got under his other arm. They carried him to the sofa together and got him laying down. Alucard was familiar with the steps now. He draped the throw blanket over him. Sypha went to get him water.

She came back, put the water in Trevor's reach, and sat heavily. "Are you okay?"

"Sleepy," Trevor said. He didn't seem entirely able to keep her in focus.

"His pulse is steady again," Alucard said.

Sypha blinked. She looked over at him. "Can you- hear that?"

Alucard nodded.

"That's weird."

"Wait a minute," Trevor said. He started to sit up and Sypha immediately pressed him back into the couch. He stared at her like he had only just realized she was there. "Shit. Sypha. It's late."

"Yes, Trevor," Sypha said, "You should sleep."

"You should sleep!" Trevor said back. He pointed a swaying finger at her. "You have work tomorrow. I didn't mean to-"

"If you think I am leaving you without at least an hour of observation-"

"I'm fine."

"You were seconds from losing a dangerous amount of blood," Sypha snapped back, "We're not arguing about this. I'm staying here."

"But that's-"

Alucard very loudly cleared his throat. Both of them turned to look at him. "If it's just- just a matter of observation. I can do that."

"Can you? Do you understand what you'd be looking for?"

Alucard gulped. He did. He'd hunted humans enough to know exactly the vital signs to look for. But he doubted Sypha wanted to hear that. He held up four fingers. "Change in pulse or breathing, or coloration around the face, bleeding through the bandages."

Sypha brows rose. "Alright. And what will you do, if something changes?"

"Wake you?"

She nodded. She seemed almost to approve.

"Go. To. Bed," Trevor said.

"Fine," Sypha said. She leaned in and kissed his forehead. "Be good for Alucard. Don't do anything stu- actually, just don't do anything, okay?"

Trevor stuck out his tongue at her. "Yes ma'am."

"Okay," she said. She looked over at Alucard. For a moment, Alucard expected a reprieve. He expected her to lecture him on rules. For the second time, she was leaving Trevor is his care, and in this instance he was far more vulnerable. But she simply squeezed his shoulder. "Thank you."

She stood up and started down the hallway.

Alucard watched her steps to the bathroom. His fingers still felt a little numb. Even if that was as much from the holy ward as from shock, relief and realization suddenly hit him. Trevor was okay. He had come dangerously close to losing control, and Sypha had ordered him around, and nothing was ruined.

A strange kind of warmth radiated out from just above his lungs. He hadn't ruined this. Sypha still trusted him. Trevor was okay.

"I'm fine," Trevor said, like he could hear Alucard's thoughts. He yawned.

Alucard shook his head. He did what he was told- he observed. He watched Trevor's eyes flicker and then close, the muscles in his neck relax as he sank into the cushion. He heard Trevor's steady pulse and even breathing. He was delicate. He was so desperately delicate.

"Trevor?"

He had his eyes closed. But he still responded to Alucard's call. His brow furrowed slightly. He dragged in a particularly long, deep breath. His uninjured arm fumbled vaguely in Alucard's direction and slid off of the couch.

Alucard reached in and took it. "You asleep?

"I mean, I was," Trevor yawned. His eyes flicked open.

Alucard gulped.

"So are we doing the creepy vampire thing, then?" Trevor asked. He squeezed Alucard's fingers.

"In-- what sense?"

"You gonna watch me sleep?"

"Oh," Alucard said. He chuckled. "Yes. If- if you'll let me."

"It's fine. I just- it's gonna be pretty boring."

"Well, yes," Alucard said. He raised Trevor's hand and brushed his closed lips to his skin. "You've given us more than enough excitement. Already."

"Fair a fucking 'nough," Trevor said. He yawned and learned back onto the cushions. He closed his eyes. His breathing settled out almost immediately.

But his fingers stayed twined in Alucard's, keeping him there, kneeling next to him. This was strange to Alucard. He experienced a sleep that was like death- his body going limp and numb. Trevor, meanwhile, shifted in his sleep. His breathing changed in tiny ways. His head lolled on the pillow and his mouth opened slightly and he mumbled in his sleep.

Dreams, then? Alucard watched. He brushed his thumb across Trevor's palm and Trevor made a soft moan in response that almost broke his heart. He was so human it ached. He was so real and so painstakingly mortal that just being in his presence was a kind of pain. He wanted to save him. He wanted to protect him. He wanted to slip onto the couch right now and cradle him.

Alucard settled for shifting the pillows to ease Trevor's head from it's awkward position. He indulged himself in watching for another hour- after all, Sypha had told him to keep an eye on him.

He was going to be okay. Finally, Trevor fell into what seemed to be a deeper sleep. His movements became less frequent, and his fingers loosened in Alucard's.

Alucard sighed and let him go. He stood up. He had some interesting stains to clean up in the hallway. And as nice as it was to watch Trevor asleep and vulnerable, it reminded him of painful things.

He couldn't save him. This was true in a broad, devastating sense. Trevor was mortal, and Alucard could not change that. In the long timeline of his own life, Trevor would only be a small sliver, like the fist-sized portion of the black void of the night sky that was occupied by the moon. Someday he would lose him again.

But that general, looming dread felt immediate that evening- twisting in his stomach and gnawing on his insides. Trevor's mortality was not hypothetical. It was not just inevitable, it was also a continuous possibility if he kept hunting.

Alucard moved the shoes and coats out of the way. He picked up jacket that had gotten splattered and wrinkled his nose at pair of Sypha's white slippers whose soles were now stained. He set them aside. He got a rag and started to scrub the brown stains off the wall. Then he paused.

Trevor should not be the one out there every night, stumbling in the dark after demons and whatever else. He should be doing that. He had fought the creatures of the night before. He had marked the divide between himself and every monster he fought with that lost sword, drawn a line in demonic ichor. He had been the hunter at Belmont's side.

What would it be like, to hunt again, with a new Trevor?

Alucard shook his head. He wrung out the rag at the sink and reflexively lifted up a hand to loosen a lock of hair. It had gotten caught in the collar.

If he didn't have this damnable thing on, he could actually be useful. He'd felt it for a few blissful moments, almost two months ago now; his strength and magic filling him. He could protect Trevor. He could protect everyone.

Alucard squeezed a few last, rusty drops out of the rag. If he still had his strength, exerting this much force would have shredded the cloth. But he had lost that. And that was the worst part.

He'd had five hundred years to decide that he wanted to protect humanity for their own sake- his own sake. He'd cherished those ideals as a young man, even sworn himself to them. And then he had lost all of the humans he'd cared about, and done exactly the opposite. The only reason he wanted to hunt now, and do good, was because there was another Trevor and Sypha to protect.

Alucard went back to the hallway. There was a reason he was stuck cleaning.

Chapter Text

(past)

"So what was it?" Sypha asked, "What were you hunting? What happened?"

Alucard gave himself one moment to roll his eyes. Hadn't she just told him this morning not to overwhelm Trevor, and now that she was back from work the first thing she did was pester him.

"That's what's fucking with me," Trevor said. He kneaded the blanket between his fingers. "I didn't see anything."

"But you were hunting something, right?"

"Just a lead and a hunch. Something's been using that cave system near the highway. And then, since we have four missing persons."

"Makes sense," Sypha said, a little impatiently.

"Well, I was at the cave mouth. And I thought, maybe I saw movement in the dark. And then something-- hit me."

"Hit you? What, like a weapon?"

Trevor scrunched up his face. "No. It was weird. It felt like- I dunno. I was suddenly all cold."

"Like a gust of wind? That struck straight through to the bone?"

Trevor looked over. He smiled weakly. "Sypha? Would you let him in? Before he gets stuck?"

Alucard was leaning as far as he dared into the doorframe. The ward made his nose itch. His lip twitched. "Please?"

Sypha pulled Alucard through and set him at the desk chair to recover. When he raised his head, Trevor addressed him.

"So it was magic, then? A hex?"

Alucard nodded.

"I thought demons didn't have magic," Sypha said. She leaned on the door, and looked from Trevor to Alucard.

Alucard shrugged. "They didn't. In my time, at least."

Sypha blinked. "So, you're saying they've evolved?"

"Or," Trevor started. He sat up with a grimace. "He's saying it wasn't a demon. It was something with magic, and intelligence."

"Like a human, or a v-?"

Alucard looked over at Sypha. He watched the word die on her tongue. "Or a vampire. Yes."

Then he wrinkled his nose. "What does 'evolved' mean?"

Trevor sank back onto the pillows with a groan, leaving Sypha to explain.

 

Trevor was anxious the next morning. He'd barely given himself a day to rest. But Alucard caught him pacing, and then trying to do the laundry.

"Just rest," Alucard said, holding onto Trevor's good wrist and tugging him back to the living room. "Please."

"But I'm supposed to-" Trevor started. He tried to wave at the laundry basket by the stairs. He flinched. He'd moved his injured shoulder.

Alucard got his arms around him. He walked Trevor back into the living room. "I'll t-take care of it."

Trevor sank onto the sofa. "Can't hunt, can't clean. What am I supposed to do?"

"Heal," Alucard said. He considered grabbing Trevor's shoulders and shaking him. How could he not see how delicate he was? "Sypha said you need a week. At least. Of rest."

"While more people disappear?" Trevor grumbled.

Alucard tilted his head. "Is that why you do this?"

"What?"

"Hunting?" Alucard asked, "To save people?"

"I mean, I guess? Why else would I?"

Alucard sat next to him. He chewed his lip. "For Belmont, it was more of a- a duty, I suppose. His familial obligation."

Trevor made a bitter noise in the back of his throat. "And how fucking well did that work out for him?"

Alucard paused. He had apparently managed to distract Trevor, at least. He sat there, kneading his hands together.

"They were executed, right? The whole family? Why?"

"Excommunicated," Alucard said, "For practicing dark magic."

"Even the women and children?" Trevor asked.

Alucard snorted. "It was all n-nonsense. None of them could cast anything-- truly evil."

"That's not what I mean. It's just-- look. I know I must seem like a child to you. I get it. And sure, I'll be Sypha's toy in the bedroom or whatever. But I'm not actually that naive. I've been at this for 12 fucking years. I know it's dangerous. I know people get hurt."

"You got hurt."

Trevor waved the idea of his injuries away. He sighed. "Nevermind."

But his anger reminded Alucard of previous conversations they'd had- other small references to gullibility, and families. He still knew nothing about Trevor's family. They'd gotten as far back as his alcoholism and stopped there. He looked at Trevor and tried to picture him even younger. He'd said he started hunting at fifteen. That age didn't seem real to Alucard.

"Trevor? Is this about your mother?"

Trevor rolled his eyes. "Fuck. Am I in therapy, now?"

Alucard winced. Trevor's tone was enough to make him back off. He put up his hands. "Sorry. It's just- you said you'd tell me, sometime. About her."

"My mom is-- fucking complicated."

"She's still alive?"

"Small miracles, right?" Trevor said. He finally looked up from his hands. He must have seen some mixture of hurt and confusion in Alucard's expression. He ran his fingers through his hair. Then he shifted, scooting towards Alucard and brushing their arms together. "Look. I can try to explain. It's just, not my favorite topic."

"Evidently."

Trevor massaged his temples. "I thought it was just- normal, when I was a kid. That mom left my little brother and me with our aunt and uncle for weeks at a time. That she had a huge stockpile of guns and ammo in the basement. But everyone thinks they're normal, right? I bet you thought everyone had a murderous warlord for a father."

Alucard's lip twitched. That one didn't hurt anymore.

"Well, turns out she's one of those conspiracy nuts who thinks the monsters in the woods are some failed soviet super soldier experiment that ran wild after the USSR collapsed."

Alucard tilted his head to one side. Trevor had said it all at once- a string of words that barely held together in his mind. He mulled them over for a moment. "After what collapsed?"

"Oh shit," Trevor said, "Wow. Ummm. Nah. You know what? We'll get you a history book or something. I don't think I can explain this one."

"So she's-- a hunter? Like you are?" Alucard asked, piecing together the parts of what Trevor had said that did make sense.

"I mean, I guess? Except she thinks it's a conspiracy and a coverup that there are all these man eating monsters in the woods."

"But, there are man eating monsters in the woods," Alucard said.

Trevor shook his head. "Sure. Sure. But she had no idea what she was doing. Still doesn't, in fact. Last time we talked, she was gearing up to go on another fucking hunting trip."

"Isn't that-- also what you're doing?"

"Fuck you," Trevor said.

Alucard considered him coldly. "Just trying to understand."

"Here, then. You can fucking try to understand this. We grew up. I was fifteen. Stephen- my brother- was twelve. Mom started taking me on hunts. But only sometimes. When it was safe and school was out. Other times, she just left us at home. That's when we started watching those fucking horror movies. With the hunters and the helpless victims and all that fake gore. And I'd lay in bed at night and think about how brave she was, and how dangerous she said the hunts were, and how she was protecting us. Like she was Van-fucking-Helsing or something."

Alucard wasn't afraid of his anger anymore. He knew Trevor wasn't going to hurt him. And he saw how the color was draining from his face as he spoke. Something was paining him, and Alucard couldn't tell if it was the story or his shoulder. He took Trevor's hand and squeezed it.

"So I went on more and more trips. She showed me how to track- how to use a hunting knife, how to maintain a gun. I cut class, and she let me because she said I was useful."

"Stephen wasn't into it," Trevor said. His head was suddenly too heavy for his neck, and he leaned back. "He was a smart fucking kid. He helped me write my essays. He said he was worried about me. I must have been- maybe seventeen, by then. So he was fourteen. Mom and I went on another hunt. Whatever. It was normal. It all seemed fucking normal."

Trevor sank into himself. His eyes closed. He sighed.

"What happened?" Alucard asked.

"One of you motherfuckers, is what."

Alucard let go of his hand. He stood up.

"Wait. Where are you-?"

Alucard took three steps before he realized he had nowhere to go. He couldn't get into his room without Trevor's help. The basement was also locked off. So was the front door. He couldn't leave. But he wasn't going to sit here and take Trevor's anger and pain. He'd gotten enough of that already.

"Away," Alucard said. He took another two steps. He was still walking, instinctively, towards the hallway. What? Was he going to go hide in the bathroom? That was ridiculous. He faltered.

"Shit. Alucard, wait," Trevor said. Alucard heard the sofa creak as he rose. "I'm sorry. I'm so fucking stu-"

"Stop it," Alucard said. He turned around and pointed at the sofa. "Don't call yourself that. Just- rest. I'll leave you alone."

"He died."

There it was. There was the story Alucard knew. He had gotten to the hallway arch. He paused and gulped. "Your brother, you mean?"

"He- we came back and I heard it first- this kind of dripping sound, and something shuffling. And I thought maybe he'd left the shower leaking before he'd gone to bed. So I- I walked into the hallway and turned on the light and this, this thing was on top of him."

Alucard looked back. His anger evaporated. Trevor was defeated, slumped forward with his head in his hands. "A vampire?"

"I still don't fucking know. Not- not for sure. It must have heard me, cause it raised it's head and I saw it's face- blood soaked and red eyed but yeah. It looked human. And it wasn't just that it had drunk his blood. The fucking thing had eaten him. And I knew it was looking at me, wondering if it wanted desert."

Alucard shuddered.

"And then mom came up behind me, and put three bullets in its chest, and the thing turned to dust."

"I," Alucard started. He gulped. "I'm sorry."

"No," Trevor said. He raised his head and shook it, freeing himself from the memory. "I'm sorry. This was ten fucking years ago. I shouldn't have snapped at you. You'd think- you'd think I'd be over this, by now."

"No I wouldn't," Alucard said. He managed a weak smile. "I haven't. Not for centuries. It's okay. To grieve."

Trevor looked up at him. "But it's not- it's not even grief. Not anymore. It's not about Stephen- and it feels fucking sick to admit that. It's what happened, afterwards."

"What happened?" Alucard asked. He tilted his head. He wasn't ready to rejoin Trevor at the sofa, but he took the hand he held up.

"She blamed me for it."

"Excuse me?" Alucard said. He squeezed Trevor's fingers.

"Yeah," Trevor said, "I mean, she never came out and just fucking said it was my fault, that my brother was dead. It was little things. If only I'd stayed home. Had I locked the door that night? Why hadn't I encouraged him to get involved? She wasn't- my mom isn't a strong person. Well, she can probably still bench press more than me. But, mentally. I don't think she could cope with the idea that some responsibility might have been on her. So it had to be me."

Alucard took a step forward. He put his other hand, gingerly, on Trevor's shoulder. "That's horrid."

Trevor pressed his face to Alucard's stomach with a sigh. "It fucked me up. For a long time. If it was me- my stupid mistake, my negligence. I can trace a lot of it back to that; the self-destructive shit, the drinking. And you know the only thing that helped?"

"S-Sypha?"

"Fair enough. But, no. She wasn't in the picture yet. This was when I moved out. And it was remembering the thing I'd seen. Cause it was just like what was in those crappy horror movies. A vampire. And I knew it. It wasn't some fucking experiment- it was a monster. And if my mom could be wrong about that, well, maybe she could be wrong about some other shit too."

"Of course she was wrong," Alucard said. He ran his fingers through his hair.

"Thanks," Trevor said. His laugh tickled Alucard's stomach, even if it was bitter. "Guess you are, uhh, unliving proof of that, huh? Wonder what she'd think, if she met you."

"Considering how we met?" Alucard asked.

"Yeah. No. Don't worry. I am not letting her anywhere near you- even if she and I still talked," Trevor said. He kissed Alucard's stomach.

Alucard listened as his breathing settled again. When he looked up at him, color had returned to his face. "Okay. How do you spend all day holed up in here and not go crazy?"

Alucard rolled his eyes. "Well I don't have much choice, do I?"

Saying that was a mistake. Trevor was on his feet in an instant. "Shit. How long has it been? I promised I'd take you out more."

"It's fine. Just rest."

"No. Nope. You've put up with enough from me. We're going out," Trevor said. He started towards the door.

Alucard gulped. He should lead Trevor back to the sofa and force him to sit. He should get him to eat something. But Trevor was steady on his feet as he stepped past Alucard, into the hallway. He wasn't sure he could manually drag him back to the living room. And it would be nice to go outside again.

Very nice.

"Besides," Trevor said, looking out a small window in the hallway, "It's raining."

"What does that have to do with-?" Alucard started. Trevor opened the closet. He tossed something into Alucard's arms.

"Means we don't have to worry about the sunshine, right?" Trevor said. He grabbed his jacket off the peg. Then he traced a hand over the bare stretch of wall beside the door. His brow furrowed. "You actually cleaned the walls."

Alucard shrugged. He looked down. The thing Trevor had handed him looked a bit like a lance, except with a curved handle and light weight, thin canvas pulled taut over the frame.

"Damn," Trevor said. His head was back in the closet. He retrieved Alucard's jacket. "We still haven't gotten you shoes, have we?"

"You've been busy," Alucard murmured.

"Well, I'm not now," Trevor said. He grabbed the trainers instead and set them in front of him. "And with how good you've gotten about the housework, there's really nothing for me to do here."

"Except recover."

"Well, yeah. I'll do that when we get back."

Alucard raised an eyebrow.

Trevor held up both arms. He flinched and lowered one of them immediately. "Promise. We'll be out for fifteen minutes, and then I'll come back and be Sypha's model patient."

Alucard snorted. But he slipped his feet into the shoes anyway. He pulled on the jacket and zippered it up to cover the silver collar. Trevor had considerably more trouble getting his coat over his injured shoulder.

"Here," Alucard said. He slipped the coat off of him, and eased it back over his arm so he didn't have to roll his shoulder.

"So you're going along with this?" Trevor asked.

Alucard tugged the coat over his other arm. He rolled his eyes. "This is foolish. And dangerous. But since you c-cannot go a day without doing something of that nature- fine. Let's go."

"Cool," Trevor said. He buttoned up the coat. "Got the umbrella?"

"This?" Alucard asked. He picked up the canvas lance and handed it to him.

"Yup."

Alucard followed him to the door. Trevor opened it, and Alucard tasted how the air had changed in two months. It was warmer, and carried the smell of damp earth and concrete to his nose. Alucard took a deep breath.

"I'm sorry. It's been so long."

Alucard looked over at him. "Is two months- long?"

Trevor snorted. "Alright. Come here." He offered Alucard his arms.

He refused to be carried, but he let Trevor use his good shoulder to drag him through, with his hand wrapped around Alucard's waist. It worked better than Alucard expected. When he came round a moment later, he hadn't fallen down the stairs or crashed into an empty flower pot. Trevor managed to keep him upright until he regained the use of his body.

"You can let go now."

"Do I gotta?"

He chuckled.

Trevor reached back. He locked up and grabbed the umbrella he'd left propped on a pot. He struggled with it for a moment, and then sighed. He put the umbrella in Alucard's arms. "Here. Damn thing takes two hands."

"What- is this?"

"It keeps us dry," Trevor said, "Look. All you gotta do is hold the handle in one hand and then- do you see that kinda ring looking thing at the base? Pull it up."

For once, Alucard managed it in one try. The umbrella opened with a squeak, and the twang of canvas stretching. It felt loud and conspicuous to him. He grimaced, scanning their surroundings. They were concealed by Trevor's car, and the sidewalk he could see beyond that was empty.

"No one's gonna be out here in the rain," Trevor said.

"Are you certain?"

"Well, no," Trevor said. He put his hand over Alucard's and lifted the umbrella so it covered both of them. "But this'll cover us up pretty nicely."

"Is that what this thing's for?" Alucard asked. He stepped down to the driveway and offered his hand to Trevor.

"I mean, it's supposed to be for rain," Trevor said. He took Alucard's hand and stepped lightly down. "But you're more worried about sunshine, right?"

Alucard chewed on his lip. He let Trevor hook his arm around his elbow and guide him across the pavement. The air smelled heavy and cool. Everything outside the shelter of the umbrella was painted with a grey overlayer in the gloom. It made the city feel less hostile and gaudy. It felt sleepy instead.

"I believe my response is- similair to a humans. Just, accelerated," Alucard said. He followed Trevor onto the sidewalk.

"So, what? You get a bad sunburn?"

"Yes."

Trevor squeezed him closed. "I'll pick up some sunscreen, next time I'm out."

Alucard looked over at him. "A- screen?"

"Nah. It's like a lotion. You put it on your skin and it protects you."

"How?"

Trevor opened his mouth. He closed it again. "It, uhh, blocks UV rays."

"So you don't know either?" Alucard asked.

"Fuck you."

Alucard leaned over and kissed his cheek. "Fuck you."

Trevor chuckled.

And just as the banter and the security of the umbrella and the feel of air moving on his face and hands had started to sooth him, Alucard saw them. His breath caught in his throat. A figure in a navy jacket was approaching them. They had a dog, padding along the sidewalk ahead of them.

Alucard gulped. This had been a mistake. He needed to run- to turn to mist- to go back to the forest where he belonged. This was far too dangerous to be around humans.

Someone squeezed his fingers. Trevor tugged him gently forward and Alucard followed him numbly. As they passed, the dog stopped. Alucard saw its hackles rise. A low growl started in its throat.

Alucard shrank into Trevor's arm.

And then the man tugged on the dogs leash. He gave an irritated grunt. Trevor's confident footsteps led them passed. The dog moved on with a last sniff in Alucard's direction.

No accusations. No furtive stares. The man hadn't even raised his head.

"Bat boy?" Trevor breathed, "You're, uhh, hurting my arm."

"Oh," Alucard said. His grip was hard enough around Trevor's forearm and elbow that his fingers were shaking. He loosened his hold and took a deep breath. He looked back. Man and dog had turned a corner. They were alone again.

Trevor smirked. "Big scary puppy?"

"They used to have dogs," Alucard said, a little defensively.

"What's that?"

Alucard shook his head. "The hunters. Had dogs that could track us."

"We've always been dangerous, huh?"

Alucard nodded.

Trevor looked over at him. "We can go back. If you want."

Alucard looked over. He considered Trevor- his face strangely blue from the reflected light through the umbrella. He slowed. Around them, rain tapped on concrete and canvas. The wind that blew past ruffled Trevor's hair and send the umbrella swaying.

He shook his head. "Not, not yet. Unless you need to?"

"I'm fine," Trevor grumbled, "There's a park I'd like to take you to. It's another two blocks."

Alucard extended his hand, inviting Trevor to lead the way.

 

A park, apparently, was a small patch of green lawn and a spattering of trees tucked between houses. It was paltry- barely a part of nature at all. But passing the fence that separated it from the city was an odd relief. Alucard let out a breath. He followed Trevor.

"I stop here sometimes. If I'm not quite ready to go home," Trevor said. He found a bench under one of the trees. He swept his hand on the wood and- apparently finding it dry enough- sat down.

Alucard tilted his head. Trevor had sank onto the bench just a little too eagerly. Now that they'd stopped moving, he heard his heart rate again. He raised an eyebrow. "Tired?"

"Maybe a little winded."

"Trevor," Alucard said. He shook his head and sat next to him. "Are you in pain?"

"Just tender," Trevor said. He put his head on Alucard's shoulder. "How about you?"

"I'm fine."

"You sure? You still seem on edge."

Alucard leaned back, adjusting to the weight of Trevor's head on his shoulder.

"That dog really freaked you out, huh?"

Alucard snorted. "No. It's not that. I just, if someone sees me-"

"What? What do you think they'll do?" Trevor asked.

And Alucard could see it so clearly. A frantic cry of vampire, and someone running, and torches lit. A throng of angry faces around him, bodies closing in, pulsing and warm. How many times had he envisioned the moment when Lisa was carried away? He gulped. "What do they think?"

"What? All the innocent, unsuspecting city folk?"

Alucard nodded. "When, when people started disappearing. When I was, umm, hunting. What did they think?"

"Well, I was the only one who reached for a pitchfork, if that's what you mean," Trevor said. He started to grin, and then really considered Alucard's expression.

Alucard didn't respond. "What did they think, if not a vampire?"

"I mean, you never get official announcements. Not for violent deaths or disappearances like that. People talk about wild animal attacks, since we're so close to the woods. And then, well, then there's weirdos like my mom. Conspiracy theorists. The USSR mutants theory is probably the most popular, but I've also heard it chalked up to secret cults or aliens."

Alucard chewed on his lip. "I'm glad. That you stopped me."

"You sure? Even if it was in the worst possible way?"

"Not the worst," Alucard said. He shook his head. "I'm still alive."

"Alucard?"

"Yes?"

Trevor shifted. He lifted his head and pressed his fingers gently to the place where Alucard could see the imprint of a bandage under his jacket. "Is it weird for you? The hunting thing?"

Alucard raised an eyebrow.

"I don't mean to talk about it. I can't imagine what it sounds like for you. It's gotta be fucked up- hey, guess how many of your friends I slaughtered last night."

"I owe no allegiance to demons," Alucard said. He wrinkled his nose. "Or vampires, for that matter."

"You're sure?"

Alucard nodded. He looked around, half expecting the man and dog to reappear. But the park was still empty. It was still just a rainy, overcast day. Trevor had been right. This was safe, about as safe as any forray out into the city could possibly be.

"This s-should be my duty. Not yours."

"What, hunting?" Trevor asked.

"I had, before. Before I, uhh, went mad."

Trevor leaned back, cradling his shoulder. His brow furrowed, and then smoothed out. "With Belmont, then?"

"Yes," Alucard said. He ran his fingers over the silver collar, feeling tiny pricks of holy magic sink into his skin. "I was- well suited to it. With my abilities."

"Well, yeah. I guess super strength and magic would help," Trevor said. He looked over and grinned. "I mean, if you feel like cheating."

Alucard raised an eyebrow. "Sorry? Is it more- honourable- to use silver guns and crosses?"

"It's only the darts," Trevor muttered, "That are silvered. And, maybe."

"It's obscene, that you're out there hunting. On your own."

Trevor groaned. "You sound like Sypha. Look, this was just an accident. I'll be more careful."

"You d-don't have magic."

"Neither do you," Trevor said. He stood up. "And I'm stronger than you right now. So just let me do this. Please."

Alucard looked up at him. He gulped. "I can't stop you."

But as they walked back home, he quietly decided. He was going to figure out how to work with Sypha. He would teach her magic. Maybe, between them, they could craft something that would keep Trevor safe.

Chapter Text

(past)


Sypha was amenable. Alucard expected her schedule to be an obstacle again. But she surprised him. She made time. They talked magical theory while she ate dinner. He set up demonstrations of magical circles at night, and she woke up early to see if she could activate them before she left for work.

On her days off, they practiced properly. Alucard performed gestures and incantations, trying to impart the feeling of magic crackling between his hands when he only half remembered it.

Sypha was clever. and she made up for her lack of experience and the miseducation of the internet with determination alone. She learned quickly. She memorized the magical language Alucard presented to her and started applying it immediately to charms and wards that she had drafted and abandoned in the past. She showed Alucard her work. And Alucard got so lost in a world of holy wards and elemental spells that he forgot that the things they were working on were dangerous to him.

Of course, the practical aspects had a way to forcibly remind him.

"Try again," he said.

Sypha shook a knot of irritation out of her shoulders. She widened her stance- an interesting, automatic response. The problem wasn't her position. It was the way she held her hands, and a lack of focus that neither of them acknowledged came from exhaustion.

She started over, furrowing her brow and holding her hands in place. It was close enough that a faint light pulsed from her palms and Alucard felt the hairs on the back of his neck rise. But the gesture was still wrong, her thumbs off center, one pinky finger not fully bent.

"Here," Alucard said. He stepped up to her and placed his hands over hers. He adjusted her fingers and held them in the proper place. "Now, if you focus on the space between your hands-"

The last thing he saw was a flash like a lightning strike.

 

"Crap. Alucard? Alucard?"

He blinked. Sypha's face hovered over him. He stretched out his hands. He was on the floor of the study.

"Are you okay?"

"Yes," Alucard said. He nodded. He took Sypha's hand. She tugged. He rose a few centimeters and groaned. "Oh. Was I-?"

"You blacked out, I think. Is your head okay?" Sypha asked. She pressed her free hand to the back of his scalp and set him gingerly back on the floor.

"It's fine," Alucard said. He brushed her hand away automatically. Sypha grimaced and backed off.

It was reflexive, to hide himself and his pain from her. Alucard gave himself a small shake, trying to feel out what had stung when he'd tried to sit up. His chest was oddly numb and tingly. But if he imagined the same sensation in his limbs instead-

"Oh. You c-cast it, didn't you?"

"Point blank at you, yes," Sypha said, "I'm sorry. It's quite a spell. I wasn't expecting it to shoot out like that."

Alucard put a hand on his chest. He nodded. "Yes. Do you think- can you cast it, now?"

"I think so. But, you should take a break."

Alucard shook his head. He heaved himself up into a sitting position with a wince and a strange cascade of stinging aches and tingles, like barbed sand was running down his chest.

"Let me see. First."

"I-- okay," Sypha said. She had already taken a step back. She took another, and shifted so that her hands and body were pointed at a wall this time, and not at him.

The spell had burned him and knocked him cold, then. That was good. That meant it might actually be strong enough to give Trevor a little extra protection- if they could transfer it to a piece of gear he could wear. She had learned fast. Perhaps he could teach her how to do that before Trevor finally wore her down and got to go hunting again.

Alucard shook himself back to the present, and watched. Sypha adjusted her stance. She got her hands into position and spread them shoulder width apart. This time, Alucard heard a telltale buzzing like static was bristling between her extended pointer and pinky fingers.

Particles of pure, white light gathered between her hands, and then shot out in a thin, searing beam. Alucard shivered. It was just light. It didn't even stir the papers on the desk as it flashed past them.

"I think I've got it," Sypha said, a little dryly.

"Just need. Some way. To put it on Trevor."

"Like a holy flash grenade?" Sypha asked. She took a half step back towards him.

"I. Wouldn't know," Alucard said. The numbness had faded completely, and the shallow movement of his diaphragm with each breath made his skin throb and pulse like it was still burning.

"Can I help?" Sypha asked.

Alucard paused, considering her. After a moment, he nodded.

Sypha leaned in and put a hand over his, still on his chest. "Let me see?"

"You just like. Getting me naked."

"You're right," Sypha said, "Now take off your shirt."

"Yes Miss," Alucard said. But he still needed her help to peel the fabric off of his skin. Sypha considered the inflamed, bright pink burst on his chest. She whistled.

"Sunburn, huh?"

"I, uhh, think so."

"Can I try some aloe?" Sypha asked.

Aluard raised his head immediately, and frowned. "Aloe?"

"It's a topical gel. For burns."

"Tropical?"

"Topical," Sypha repeated softly. Her lip twitched. "It goes on your skin. I promise you won't throw up."

"Okay," Alucard said, "If you promise."

Still, it was a strange thing to have her return a moment later with a new bottle of clear fluid. She took some onto her hand and dabbed it on a small part of the burn. She waited until Alucard nodded, and then applied more. It was a strange thing, her speaking softly to him, and touching him gently. He still wasn't sure he trusted her gentleness.

"Feel better?" she asked, after she'd covered the burn.

Alucard looked down at her. She leaned back, clasping her hands together. It occurred to him that she was just as uncertain about all of this as he was. They still barely knew each other.

"Better," Alucard agreed. The salve was cool on his skin, and some of the throbbing faded.

"Thank you, for showing me all of this," Sypha said.

Alucard nodded.

"I guess the next thing to do is recast the wards on the house. After we get this spell on Trevor, I mean."

"What? Why?"

"So you can get around the house on your own," Sypha said. She set the aloe on the desk and looked back at him. "I'm assuming you'd like that."

"Well, yes," Alucard said, "Even, even to the bedrooms?"

"Those are parts of the house."

Alucard stared up at her. "Even your bedroom?"

"Yes," Sypha said, "Honestly, I never meant for those rooms to be included in the ward at all. The basement door, sure. But, I tried to set a spell to cover every entrance- and for some reason those got included."

"You trust me with that?" Alucard asked.

"I do."

Alucard picked himself up. "Thank you."

"Of course," Sypha said. She stepped in. Then she pursed her lips, considering him.

Alucard raised an eyebrow. "But you're still afraid. To touch me?"

Sypha frowned. Her hands were halfway between them. "No afraid. Just, nervous."

"I'll keep my mouth closed," Alucard said, very softly.

Sypha's fingers curled. "No. Goddammit, no. That's not what I meant. I mean, I understand. I know I've thought the worst of you for- too long. And that's not just going to go away, but-"

She sighed. She brought her arms back and folded them around herself. "Everything I do hurts you."

"What?" Alucard said. He snorted. It was more in response to her tone than her words. She sounded childish, supported by the way she wrapped her arms close to her body and frowned.

"Everything I've done. Even the stuff that was supposed to help. The holy magic, the gags, the iron supplements. It all hurt you. I don't mean to be this cruel. I really don't," she said. She looked away from him. "I'm sorry."

Alucard shifted. He still hurt, but his skin wasn't throbbing anymore. He scooted to the back wall and leaned against it. He put his hands on his bent knees and looked up at her. There were things he couldn't tell Trevor. But perhaps he could tell her.

"I would have killed him. By now. By mistake. If not for you."

Sypha winced. "You don't know that."

He didn't. He could believe that he was in control, and that he wouldn't ever hurt him again. He could divorce himself utterly from the demon he had been. He could hate the gags and the restraints, and allow himself to believe that none of it was necessary. It was comforting, to believe that. But he couldn't risk it.

"I know what I am," Alucard said, "and it keeps you both safe."

"Alucard?"

He looked up. She was holding out both hands now, palms up in a gesture of welcome, or maybe the conferring of a blessing, or the start of a spell, or maybe she was just trying to help him off the floor.

"Do you hate me?"

And Alucard wanted to say no. But the denial caught in his throat. He remembered just a week ago when she'd ordered him to jam his hand in the holy ward. He remembered the gags and the cruel, overwhelming ways she'd tested them. He remembered her yelling and jabs and demands. And yes, he remembered the beginning; her standing over Trevor's shoulder, imperious and disgusted by him. He remembered the cold vehemence with which she'd taken his fangs.

"Sometimes."

Sypha gave a weak smile. "Well, I'm glad you can be honest with me, at least." Her hands started back to her sides.

"Wait," Alucard said. Without thinking, he grabbed her wrists.

Sypha paused. She didn't flinch at his cold grip or the unexpected movement.

"It's more complex than that. You are- terrifying. Lovely. Powerful. I am indebted to you in so, so many ways. You and I, we have things in common."

"Like magic?" Sypha asked.

Alucard's lip twitched. "Trevor."

"Oh. I suppose there is that, yes," Sypha said. She sighed. "Is that it, then? You'll put up with me? I'm just one of the failsafes between you two?"

"No. You're more than just that."

"More of what, though?" Sypha asked gently. She tilted her head. "Or, what would you like me to be?"

Alucard took a moment and really considered the question as it lingered in the space between them- in her deliberately neutral expression and the tension in her shoulders and the way he was still gripping her wrists.

Then Alucard brought her hands across the small, immeasurable distance. He held them loosely. She could pull them away and he half expected her to. But she didn't. When he placed her hands on his shoulders, she squeezed them.

"I'd like to know you," Alucard said.

"Know me?" Sypha asked. She raised an eyebrow.

Alucard wrinkled his nose. This had gotten so much easier with Trevor. Why was it still so hard to talk to Sypha? His jaw ached.

"What was it like? To grow up in the city with magic?"

Sypha grinned. "I grew up in Bucharest. I promise you, it's a nice place but it's about as mundane as anywhere else."

"No, I meant, living in the city. With magical powers."

"What?" Sypha asked. Apparently, he'd caught her off guard. She laughed. "Is that what Trevor told you?"

"Just, mastering your gifts, with so many people around. What was it like?"

"Mastery is a generous word for it. I could make a pocket of cool air in my hand when I was, like, six. My parents just thought I had poor circulation. I figured out how to light a fire in my palm when I was a teenager but- I mean, every teen is a weird loner, right?"

Her eyes had drifted down from Alucard's face to his chest. Alucard guided her hands across his pecs. It was strange, having control of the sensation.

"You never had to hide?"

Sypha shrugged. "I've always had it easy. Not like Trevor. Or you."

Alucard tilted his head. He put Sypha's hands over his heart. Her fingers were cold, compared to Trevor's. They sent faint heat into his chest. He was supposed to say something. He let go of her hands and grinned. "Look. You did it."

"Did what?" Sypha asked. She raised an eyebrow.

"Something. Without hurting me."

"Oh," Sypha said. Her lip twitched. "Yeah. I guess- so."

She worked her hands back up. She traced the stark line of his collarbone to the side of his neck. She grazed her fingers over his throat. Alucard closed his eyes and shivered. She had a knack for finding his weak points.

She cupped his face in both hands. "Alucard? Look at me."

Alucard looked up. She had gotten closer. Alucard gulped. Her pulse blossomed out, filling the dwindling space between them. She bit her lip and leaned in. Alucard swallowed back thirst and nerves and moved forward in her hold, wondering what her lips would taste like.

The study door flew open.

"Miss? Do you have any scrubs that need--" Trevor started.

Sypha's head jerked up. She leapt away from Alucard and turned to the door. "Yes? My scrubs? What about them?"

"Washing?" Trevor finished. He blinked. "Fuck. I didn't mean to interrupt."

And Alucard realized how this must have looked with him half naked. He swallowed, and immediately reached for his discarded shirt.

"You weren't interrupting anything," Sypha said, far too quickly to be believable.

"No? Cause I was just gonna start some laundry, but if you two are, uhh, busy, I can come back in a few minutes. I'll knock this time."

Sypha turned pink. "We were just-- Alucard was showing me a new spell, and-"

"I see. Is that what they're calling it now?" Trevor asked. He leaned in the doorway, grinning.

Alucard noticed that he was barely favoring his right arm. He also noticed something else- an insistent undertone to his teasing.

"We weren't- Trevor, he had his shirt off because of an, umm, accident, and-"

"Oh? You mean the loud thump and all the swearing I heard about ten minutes ago?"

Alucard raised an eyebrow. "Trevor? Were you hoping to catch us together?"

The change in Trevor's demeanor was instintaneous. His face contorted as though he'd been struck. A red blush started on his cheeks. He coughed. "Course not. What am I, some kinda peeping tom?"

"You know I don't know what that means," Alucard said. He finally stood up.

Trevor gulped. He couldn't seem to meet Alucard's eyes.

Alucard grinned. His words and his body were telling very different stories. His pulse was loud, as lovely an invitation as the red that had spread to the tip of his nose and his ears.

"Wait a minute," Sypha said. She laughed and got to Trevor's other side. He shrunk into the door frame like they'd cornered him. And maybe they had. She reached forward and grabbed his chin. "This is a cuckold fantasy for you, isn't it?"

"Oh dear," Alucard said. There, at last, was a term he recognized. He pressed his forearm to the wall and leaned against it, looking down at Trevor.

"You want to be excluded? Made to sit and watch while we fuck?"

Trevor gulped. "Not to watch, Miss."

"Then what?" Sypha asked. She leaned over him, digging her nails into his skin. And as red as Trevor's face was, his breathing was also heavy. "Should I send you to the kitchen?"

"M-maybe."

Sypha cackled. She let go of Trevor's chin and his head fell. She ruffled his hair. "Poor puppy. Are you sure you want to play out a fantasy like that?"

Trevor nodded to the floor.

"What about you?" Alucard said. He wasn't sure the role he was supposed to be playing right now, but being an accomplice in Trevor's humiliation got his slow heart pumping. "Sypha, do you-?"

Sypha gave him a slanted smile. "I'd love to."

 

It was the first time he disappointed her. Sypha sent Trevor to the kitchen to cook "something time consuming." She led Alucard to the bedroom and pushed him onto the mattress. She stripped, and Alucard pulled off his own pants with shaking fingers.

She pounced on him, putting one hand on his chest and the other on his forehead. She growled and ran a line of kisses down his neck.

Alucard arched his back and whimpered. He wasn't sure what to do with his hands. It was strange to have them free. He placed them on her waist. She was soft. She was real.

She wasn't afraid of him.

Sypha rose with a purr that lingered in her throat. She put her hands on Alucard's wrists and he gulped. Should he have kept them to himself?

"Here," Sypha said. She grinned and moved his hands to her breasts.

"Oh," Alucard said. He cupped her breasts. Her teats grazed his palms. Her flesh sang and hummed and sank around his fingers. "Oh. You're- divine."

Sypha laughed. "I don't think anyone's ever held my tits quite that gently." She leaned over Alucard and her breasts squished and shifted wonderfully in his hold. "Squeeze them," she breathed into his ear.

Alucard groaned. She'd put her throat too close to his face. He sank his fingers into her skin and felt her pulse. His fingertips were near her heart, his open mouth gasping. He tasted the heat from her body in the air and the way that he wanted her was formless and ravenous.

She was perfect. Finite. Red. Real. Pulsing in the proximate awareness he had of his desires as they were awakening, squirming in his chest and between his legs. She was dangerous. Because he was dangerous. She was the promise of pain.

Alucard gulped. "Gag?"

And he'd been so busy with her breasts and his thirst that he hadn't even noticed she'd already leaned back and grabbed it from his pocket.

"Don't worry," Sypha said, "I brought protection."

Alucard nodded. She brought the gag up to his face and he closed his eyes.

"Anything you want to tell me?" Sypha asked, "Before I take your voice away?"

Alucard swallowed, fighting for composure when his brain was somewhere between his legs and his stomach. "Y-you're lovely. And I want you to bed me."

"Oh, puppy," Sypha said. She secured the gag and kissed the metal. Then she giggled and reached down. Her thumb brushed his shaft. Alucard whined.

"Your cock already told me that."

She sat all the way up, spreading her legs and setting her ass on his thighs. Alucard closed his eyes and moaned. She was warm down there too, with a velvet soft slickness pressing to the flesh of his inner thigh. He'd never thought his legs were this sensitive.

Her hand returned to his cock. This time, she wrapped her hands around it. She stroked and Alucard whined for more. But when he looked up to beg, he found her head tilted and her brow furrowed. She was considering him- his body, his cock. She was contemplating him as a lover, as a body to fuck. That was terrifying.

"You beat Trevor by a few centimeters, I think," Sypha said. She stroked him again. "Although, he's got more girth."

Alucard was too far gone to raise an eyebrow. He didn't want to point to the gag to have it removed and ask. He wanted the devastating, sacred feel of her descending onto him. He wanted to use this part of his body he'd neglected for so long.

Sypha crawled up to him. "Are you ready?"

Alucard nodded, and Sypha grinned and pressed her tits over his face. He shivered. In that moment, he was.

It was later, when she sidled back down his chest, gripped his cock and angled it between her lips, that things went wrong. Her wetness and heat broke over his body, desire prickling down his stomach. He bucked and whined and squeezed his eyes shut against a flush of red.

He tried. He pressed his hands to her breasts. He thought about how soft and inviting they were. He thought about his predicament, pinned under her, his mouth stuffed. In desperation, he thought about Trevor and how it had felt when he'd mounted him. Why should this be any different?

But it was. And the thinking didn't help. Being inside her, wet and hot and throbbing, her heavy breathing on top of him as she put her hands on his shoulders and thrusted- it all excited him the wrong way. The penetrative act was too much. It summoned the ghost of viscera to his lips and blood sloshed down his throat and if he could just have her, if he could just sink himself wholly into the open wound that seeped heat and pheromones and her excitement onto his pelvis-

No.

He clammed up, wrestling the imp in his chest and barely noticed that he'd gone soft. But Sypha did. She gasped a formless question and lifted her hips off of him. He slid out of her with an unsatisfying flop.

"Oh," Sypha said.

Alucard scrunched his eyes shut.

"Alucard?"

He reached back and loosened the gag himself. He tore it out of his mouth and sat up, arms on his knees. "Damn."

"What happened?"

He grimaced. He reached up to sweep the hair out of his face and found the gag straps wound around his hand. He tossed it away in disgust. "I can't-- do it."

He couldn't stand to look at her, but he felt Sypha shy away from him to the other side of the bed. He was yelling. He was frustrated. He was starving. The part of him that kept stock of these things noted that he must be frightening right now.

"What went wrong?" Sypah asked, in a tiny voice that summoned up an image of her curled in a corner, her head on her knees. He hated it. He had failed. She should be the one yelling. She should be speaking sternly to him, and holding him down. He didn't want pity, and certainly not her fear.

He was supposed to respond. But Alucard had nothing to say. He leaned back and pressed his head to the backboard of the bed. Then he gritted his teeth and slammed his head into the wood. The pain didn't help.

"Did I do something wrong?"

Alucard dragged his head up. He looked at her. "I-- need some space."

He staggered off the bed, tugged on his clothes, and went to call for Trevor.

Chapter Text

(past)

Trevor got it out of him, but not until after he'd left lunch on the stove for Sypha and offered to take him outside. It was back at the park, hiding from a brief burst of sunlight, that Alucard managed to explain.

"Well, shit," Trevor said.

"Shit," Alucard agreed. He leaned forward and put his fingers on his temples. "I really- wanted it, in theory. It was just doing the damn thing."

Trevor put a hand on his back. "It's never as easy, in practice, as the fantasy of it."

"Wanted to satisfy," Alucard muttered.

"Come again?"

"Just once, this was about her. Her desires. That was-- exciting. I wanted this to work."

"I mean, fuck. This seemed like something all three of us were into. But we kinda rushed into it. If we go back and talk about it- set up a scene, figure out exactly what you need."

"It's supposed to be easy," Alucard said. He dragged his head up. "Isn't that right? Instinctive? For men?"

"Fuck that," Trevor said, "Sex is complicated. Even the most vanilla, missionary shit out there. I mean, there's still power dynamics there, and negotiation, and expectations."

"And wanting to eat someone?" Alucard demanded.

Trevor sighed. He put his arm around Alucard's shoulder. "Would this be easier if you were eating, err, drinking enough?"

"Yes," Alucard said. Then he grimaced. "No. I don't know."

"You don't have to know now. Just, I dunno. Think on it."

"Why? Sypha's been perfectly clear. That's not going to change."

Trevor started to shrug. Then he winced and pulled his hand away from Alucard's back so he could cradle his shoulder. It was still tender, then.

"Maybe we can figure something out."

"Like the iron supplements?" Alucard asked. Sypha had gotten him a liquid version to take weeks ago. It hadn't helped.

"Or getting other people involved," Trevor said.

Alucard froze.

"Sypha and I-- well, they're really her friends, not mine. You wouldn't have to meet anyone. We could just, I mean, it'd be a bit strange, asking for tampons, but-"

"No."

Trevor looked over at him, still holding his shoulder, his brow furrowed. "You sure?"

"The fewer people involved. The better," Alucard said. He scanned the park around them. It had turned overcast again.

"Okay," Trevor said. He let go of his shoulder, leaned back, and ran a hand through his hair. "Alright if I text Sypha? She's probably freaking out."

"Yes," Alucard said. Then he made himself pause. He wrinkled his nose. He was moving too fast-- dismissing or agreeing automatically, without giving himself space to consider. He still felt like a cornered wolf. He took a deep breath. "What is a text, exactly?"

"Here," Trevor said. He leaned into him and pulled out his phone. "We can write her together, if you like."

Alucard raised his arm and draped it around Trevor's shoulder. "Tell her I'm sorry?"

Trevor pressed himself into his embrace and started clicking on his phone. Then he looked over, pursing his lips. "You don't need to be sorry. Not for needing space like that."

"I am, though. I should- should have been able to explain," Alucard said, "I'm still not sure, if I can."

"You don't have to. I can tell her what's up, when we get back."

Alucard leaned in and brushed his lips to Trevor's cheek. "Thank you."

"Gotta be some silver linings, to having three of us all involved together like this," Trevor said. He clicked out a message on the phone.

"What would they think?"

"Come again?" Trevor said. He hit the send button and put his phone away.

"Your friends- who are actually Sypha's. What would they think of, uhh, me?"

"I mean, depends on which ones you're talking about. But if we introduced you as Sypha's second sub, I bet they'd like you."

"Oh. So they know about-" Alucard started. He waved vaguely, trying to encapsulate all the words he'd heard Trevor use.

"Yup. Amber introduced her to some of the clubs back in Bucharest when they were in med school. And then when I met her, they'd take me out with them and, damn we went on some adventures," Trevor said. His gaze went soft, and he grinned.

Alucard chewed on his lip. When had he picked up that habit? It must have been in the last few months. It was nice. It used to be impossible without puncturing his lip.

If they could keep those secrets of Sypha's, maybe they could keep him secret too. It was tempting. Alucard felt out the idea, expecting the imp to uncurl in his chest and purr. But it barely stirred.

No. This was something else. He'd been isolated for too long. To know humans- new humans, and more of them- would be one small step towards belonging in this world again.

Alucard shook his head. That would be a huge undertaking. He refocused himself, and found Trevor still talking, starring in an unfocused way at his hands.

"And then she pulled down my pants. In front of the whole room. And Sypha still had her fingers in my mouth, so apparently I made some really funny noises when she brought out the flogger. And she just started-"

"Trevor?"

Trevor's head jerked up. He blinked, and looked around like he'd come out of a trance. "Yeah?"

"Maybe. Maybe. I'd like to meet more people."

Trevor raised an eyebrow. Then he seemed to understand. His expression cleared. He gave a smile that made Alucard's stomach twist and his throat go dry. "Really?"

"Maybe," Alucard repeated, "Just... give me time. To think."

"Course," Trevor said.

"Let's go home."

 

He thought it over. He read. He sketched out a few drafts of a magical amulet that could hold a searing light spell for Trevor. He washed dishes and folded laundry. But mostly, he sulked.

Receiving blood did little to improve his mood. Nor did the changing season, and the longer hours of light that barred him from whole sections of the kitchen and the living room during the day. Syha stuck to the safe harbor of discussing magic with him. He was proud when she built her first, proper magic circle. But his mood soured when they tried to remove the wards around the house.

He and Sypha sat in the entryway. She had a copper bell in one hand. Alucard had written out sigils with charcoal on the floor, runes for containment and absorption. Disabling a ward could be volatile- especially one made by a novice. He already had his doubts about doing this. He'd told Sypha to sit as far back as she could.

They had just started, but sweat dripped from Sypha's hairline. Her nose twitched. Alucard didn't need to hear her heart rate, he could see the strain in her shaking fingers and her eyes clenched shut.

"Can you, uhh, feel where the lines are?" Alucard asked.

Sypha nodded. Her eyelids flickered.

"There should be a spot. Where the lines meet. You need to grab it."

Sypha's free hand stretched out immediately. Alucard rolled his eyes. He reached forward, planning to put her arm back at her side. Then he heard the door creak. He raised an eyebrow. Apparently, she'd found one of the intersections. Her fingers grasped around nothing.

"Do you remember the words?"

Sypha nodded. "Conteram claustra. Infra custodiae sanctuarii."

Power rippled from her raised arms. The ward responded, pulsing. Alucard averted his eyes as it flashed.

"Et revertetur ad terram magicae," Sypha said. Her voice rose to a cry. The light was unbearable.

"Do it now!" Alucard called out. Waves of holy magic ran over his body, sending gooseflesh across his arms. The ward started to hum, and Alucard heard a creak that he hoped wasn't the door about to crack in half. "Now, or it will-"

The clear peal of a bell cut through the static. The light vanished. Alucard turned in time to see Sypha slump over. He leaned back, gripping her shoulder to keep her upright.

Sypha panted and wiped her forehead on her sleeve. "Did- did it work?"

Alucard bit his lip. He looked down. The charcoal markings were still on the floor. That wasn't a good sign.

He leaned Sypha onto the wall and stood up. "One way to know." He stepped forward and reached out a hand.

Gold energy prickled his fingers as he approached the door, sending numbness up his wrist.

"Damn."

"Alucard?"

Alucard pulled his hand away. He jerked his arm, shaking out the tingles. "It didn't."

"We could," Sypha started. She dragged in another breath. "We could try again."

"Won't matter," Alucard said. He looked back around and forced down frustration. "This is-- too much to ask of you."

"Only seems fair. That I should fix my own mess," Sypha breathed.

"This isn't a mess," Alucard said, gesturing at the ward, "It's like a bomb, as liable to explode as dissipate."

Sypha raised her head. "Could you break it? If you had your powers?"

"No," Alucard said, "Probably not. A better mage could, maybe. But not me."

"Would you like to try?" Sypha asked.

Alucard grimaced. His jaw ached. This whole process- explaining the steps to Sypha, teaching her the incantation, requesting materials and setting up the sigils- had required talking. He'd talked more in the last hour than he had in weeks. Stabbing pains shot up his sinuses. He put a hand over his mouth and shook his head.

"Alucard?" Sypha asked. He heard the rustle of cloth as she dragged herself upright. "Are- are you okay?"

"I hurt."

"What? Did the spell hit you?"

Alucard shook his head. "My mouth." His words were stifled by his hands. But he kept them pressed to his mouth as his upper lip twitched and spasmed.

A hand squeezed his shoulder. "Why does your mouth hurt?"

Alucard tore his hands away from his mouth. He shrugged off Sypha's hold. "You mutilated me."

"I what?"

"You ripped out my teeth. And now my mouth hurts and my stomach aches and I can't use magic or even get through the goddamn door on my own."

"Oh."

"Yeah."

"Oh," Sypha said again. Her finger tips brushed Alucard's shoulder. He didn't shrug her away this time. "How long have you been holding onto all of that?"

"Don't know. Months?"

"I didn't realize you had atypical odontalgia."

Alucard gulped. "I have what?!"

"Pain. In your mouth. Related to past trauma. Or it could be some kind of neuropathy. I really don't know that much about teeth. I'm a doctor, not a dentist."

"Would you check?"

"What, for neuropathy?" Sypha asked. She raised an eyebrow.

"Or that, uhh, other thing."

"I mean, there isn't really a test for that. And again, never went to dental school. But, uhh, what kind of pain is it?"

"Stingy?"

"Good to know Trevor's teaching you the important stuff," Sypha said, with a weak smile. She helped Alucard up, and they walked back to the living room together. "How would you describe it?"

"Like two nails?"

"In your nasal cavity, you mean? Ouch," Sypha said. She gestured for him to sit, and went to grab her med kit. She came back and cleared her throat.

Alucard looked up at her. No. He didn't hate her. The pain had subsided in his mouth, and there was nothing so much as a dull, leaden weight in his stomach. He shouldn't have said anything. He didn't want to think, or feel, or speak. He didn't want to do anything right now, except maybe curl up with his blanket and read something.

"I'm sorry," Sypha said, "For what I did."

Alucard gulped. But he forced himself to keep eye contact. "No, you aren't."

Sypha was the one to look away. "Well, no. You're right. I don't regret doing it. But- how it was done. Knowing what I know now, I would have used a local anesthetic."

"Meaning?"

"I would have made sure it hurt less," Sypha said. She set her med kit on the footrest, and knelt on the floor next to him. "Given you some decent conditions to recover in."

"But you didn't."

"If I had known you were-" Sypha started. She sighed, and visibly deflated at his feet. "No. I didn't."

"You left me to rot," Alucard said, "And I would have. If Trevor hadn't been there."

Sypha nodded to her own, clasped hands.

Alucard fell back, exhausted. His mouth throbbed. He clenched his eyes closed and waited for it to ease. A spat of silence fell over them.

Sypha shifted and took in a breath. "Do you know Hippocrates?"

"What? Personally?"

"No. Wait- did you?!"

Alucard shook his head. "I'm not that old."

"Ever read his oath?"

"No," Alucard said. His mother might have. He vaguely remembered her referencing something like that.

"The original Latin doesn't actually say "do no harm"," Sypha said, "It's more concerned with invoking the correct gods and kidney stone treatment."

"Sypha?"

"I didn't need some overarching set of medical ethics to tell me what I was doing to you was wrong. I could have- should have- known that on my own."

Alucard looked down. What did he want from her, after all? Or did he just want to rage about something that had happened months ago, that couldn't be undone and that, in a horrid way, was the best thing that had ever happened to him?

"I'm sorry. Can I try to do this right? Can I try to help now?"

The pain finally eased around Alucard's jaw. He let his body relax. He took a deep breath, and then gave her a deliberate nod.

Sypha unzipped the med kit and pulled out a thin, metal rod that shot out a beam of light when she pressed a button on the side. "May I check your gums? Just in case?"

"Yes," Alucard said. He opened his mouth.

Sypha smiled weakly. "Thanks."

 

She found no swelling, and it didn't hurt when she tapped the other end of the penlight to the gaps between his incisors and molars. She introduced him to the idea of phantom pains, which was both easier for him to say and understand.

Maybe things would never be entirely comfortable between them. Maybe there were things that were unforgivable. But at least he could give voice to them. At least she started to understand what she had done.

Was that enough?

He wasn't sure.

 

Trevor returned while they were cleaning up, with groceries in both arms and a bright gleam in his eyes.

"Bat boy?"

Alucard left Sypha to put the med kit away. He went up to Trevor and grabbed one of the bags.

"Your sword? You said it was silver? The whole blade?"

Alucard raised an eyebrow. "Yes?"

"About a meter long? With a black scabbard inlaid with gold?"

Canvas crinkled as Alucard hugged the grocery bag to his chest. "Trevor? Did you-?"

"Here," Trevor said. He fished into his pocket and pulled out his phone. He struggled to reach it with his other hand.

Alucard offered him his free arm. Trevor handed him the other grocery bag and showed him his phone. Alucard squinted. Then he gasped. The photo was small, and the person holding the blade unfamiliar. But the sword itself- he knew that sword better than he knew his own reflection.

"Where?" Alucard rasped.

"Craigslist," Trevor said, "I've already messaged the guy. I haven't heard back but- give it time. He hasn't sold it yet."

Alucard gapped. "It's up for sale?"

"It's on Craigslist. Which is-- so much worse. Trust me, you don't want to know."

"Can we get it back?"

"I don't want to get your hopes up, but yes. We should be able to."

Alucard dropped the groceries, and swept Trevor into a hug. He felt warm. For the first time in weeks he felt warm. He squeezed Trevor. "Thank you."

"Course," Trevor said. He returned the hug. "I know things have been miserable lately."

"So we wait for a text, from this person?"

"Eh. A phone call, more like. We can get some more info. Wanna accuse him of graverobbing?"

Alucard chuckled and shook his head. "Just want the sword back. So, we have to wait then?"

"We wait," Trevor agreed. "Hopefully not too long. C'mon. Help me put these away." He picked up a grocery bag and turned.

Alucard followed him. Then he grimaced and paused. Sypha stood just through the archway, the medkit tucked under her arm. She took in a breath, preparing to say something. Trevor shifted, positioning himself a little more deliberately between the two of them. Alucard held the grocery bag to his chest like a shield.

"You about to tell us we're not allowed to bring a sword home?" Trevor asked.

Sypha's gaze shifted from Alucard back to him. She sighed. "Trevor, you're stepping in the charcoal, and I don't want you dragging it onto the carpet."

"Oh," Trevor said. He looked down. "Shit."

Sypha took the second bag from him so he could wipe off his shoes.

 

She offered no further comment a week later when a long, narrow package arrived at the house. Mostly because she was at work when it arrived.

Trevor brought it to him. Alucard took it with numb hands and blinked, considering it. He weighed the cardboard between his hands. He let the box rest on his knees. It was heavier than he remembered. But, last time he had held it, he'd still had his strength. With it gone, the weapon felt unwieldy and strange in his hands.

"That's right. I bought you a dildo. You're welcome."

Alucard raised his head. Trevor's lip was twitching in a barely contained smirk.

"I'm not going to ask," Alucard said.

"No? Not even a little curious?"

Alucard shook his head. He returned to considering the package. He reached for one end. Then he paused. Why did his fingers shake? He'd been so excited when Trevor had said that it was coming. Why was he afraid to open the damn thing?

"I presume," Alucard started. He sunk his nails into the dense paper. He tried to rip it off. The first layer peeled back, showing more thick paper underneath. Alucard wrinkled his nose. "That it's something lewd."

"You're not wrong," Trevor said. He went to get him a pair of scissors, chuckling to himself. He brought them back and showed him the taped seam in the cardboard.

Five minutes later, the box and a layer of bubble wrap was on the floor. Alucard held the scabbard. It wasn't even tarnished. He closed his eyes and willed himself to put his hand on the hilt. He traced the cross guard. The metal was a cold shock to his finger tips. It was still mute. He heard nothing.

Words came back to him that he'd tried not to think about for months.

"Earn them," it had said. His younger self, a clean dhampir who'd thought himself more a knight than a beast. It had spoken with the sword's voice. "Earn them, and earn me."

Had he?

Alucard pulled. Metal slithered and hissed. It was almost too long to draw by hand. Certainly, he'd always found it easier and more useful to call it with a flick of his fingers and a bit of magic. Now, he had to stand and hold it at an angle to get the point free from the scabbard.

The silver reflected the light as he held the sword up. The blade was horribly dull, and tarnished with black splotches. But what had he expected? He hadn't used the thing, nor had he cared for it any better than he'd cared for himself for hundreds of miserable years.

"Damn," Trevor whistled, "And you know how to use this thing? In like a proper, white gloves and pistols at midnight sense?"

Alucard shook his head. He resheathed the blade. "I did once."

"Bat boy?"

Alucard fumbled with the pommel, not meeting Trevor's eye. He sat back down.

"Not as cursed as you were hoping?"

"What?"

"It's not muttering your name or anything?"

"Oh," Alucard said, "No. But I shouldn't- shouldn't have gotten my hopes up. In the first place."

"Could it be cause you don't have magic right now?" Trevor asked quietly. He sat on the couch next to him.

"No."

Trevor sighed. He reached out a hand and placed it on Alucard's back. "Hey. It's okay."

"I want to be better," Alucard said. He squeezed his eyes shut. "To be reformed. Good. I want to earn her trust."

"What? Your mother's?"

"Sypha's."

Trevor shrugged. "That's gonna take time, I think."

"I know," Alucard said. He had time. That was the one thing he would always have. He finally remembered the slight twist of the hilt required to sink the blade all the way into the scabbard. He put it in place, and set the sheathed blade aside. He looked over at Trevor.

He didn't know much about today's currency, and he couldn't fathom how Trevor had found the sword listed in the first place. But he could guess. He could add it to the long list of things he owed him.

"Trev? Thank you."

Trevor's face reddened. He cleared his throat. "Course. Sorry it wasn't- you know. What you needed."

"Still means a lot," Alucard said. He pressed his cheek to Trevor's shoulder and took a deep breath. The touch of Trevor's skin sent warmth into his face. His hand brushed Trevor's leg.

Alucard blinked. When had they last been intimate? He couldn't remember. Had he really let his sulking get in the way of that?

"Can it go in my room?" Alucard asked.

"Yeah. Thought it might look pretty cool mounted on the wall, actually."

"Okay," Alucard said. It was suddenly very important he get Trevor back to his room. He wanted to be held.

Chapter Text

(past)


Alucard wasn't happy, exactly, when Sypha came home that evening. He hadn't recovered from his frustration, or miraculously overcome the depression. But he was resolved. He'd had an idea, while he'd nestled himself into Trevor's arms, half listening to him talk about setting up a stand beside the bookshelf where the sword could go.

He was ready to leave his old life behind. On his own terms.

He greeted Sypha when she came into the living room. He slipped off of the couch.

"You don't need to go," Sypha said.

Alucard knelt beside the footrest and looked up at her. "Not leaving. I wanted to- to apologize."

Sypha raised an eyebrow. "What for?"

"My temperament," Alucard informed his clasped hands, "And behavior. I've been beastly to you."

"You've had every right."

Alucard raised his head and met her eyes. "Enough of that. I am through wallowing in it."

"Are you sure?" Sypha asked. She shifted, propping up her feet.

He nodded, and took one of her feet. He lifted it gently and placed it in his lap. He started to work on her sole. He raised his head again. "I'd like to try again. To be part of this-- arrangement, we've discussed."

"Alucard?"

He squeezed the ball of her foot between his hands. "I want to give in. To serve and, uhh, service you. If you'll let me."

Sypha gulped. "I don't know if that's healthy."

Alucard's lip twitched. He couldn't help but notice the uptick in her pulse and the flush of red as it spread across her cheeks and hands.

Trevor popped his head out of the kitchen. Alucard looked over and raised an eyebrow at him. He mouthed "beg" before returning to--whatever he was cooking.

Alucard grinned. He could do that. He leaned forward and raised Sypha's foot to his lips. He kissed the callus on her big toe, closed his eyes and appreciated the intensity of the smell.

"Please, Miss?"

Sypha shivered.

"Please? Would you let me try again?" Alucard purred. He ran his lips up to her ankle. Then he set her foot aside and bit his lip. He mounted the footrest, putting himself between her legs. "Would you play with me?"

"How?"

Alucard paused. He tilted his head and chewed on his lip. "I'd like to be chained down."

He leaned forward again, this time intending to kiss Sypha's stomach. But something brought him up short. He was jerked back by the throat. Alucard shuddered. Sypha had hooked her hand into his collar. She pushed him back into a sitting position.

"How do you want to be played with?" Sypha asked.

Alucard felt his gulp catch against the silver pressing into his throat. "I want Trevor. To mount me again."

"Alright," Sypha said. She let go, and traced her fingers around the edge of the collar instead. "What about me?

"I-- ummm."

Sypha grimaced. "I don't have to be involved. Believe me, I've had plenty of fun watching. But if I'm an obstacle- if you'd rather I wasn't there at all."

"No," Alucard said. He shook his head. "That's not- I want you too."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes, it's just-"

"If I make your nervous," Sypha said, "Or uncomfortable. That's okay. I don't have to-"

"I want you to sit on my face," Alucard said.

"Oh," Sypha said. She blinked. Then her face broke into a smile. "Oh, puppy."

Alucard wrapped his arms around himself. He sighed. "I know I'm broken. And I can't fuck. In the traditional sense."

Sypha smiled. "You want to eat me out instead?"

Alucard flinched. He hadn't heard that euphemism before. It was far too close to the other, very dangerous things he wanted to do. "But- I can't. Not with a gag-- and certainly not without."

"Alucard? Come here."

He bit his lip, considering her. Sypha leaned back and motioned for him. Something about her relaxed posture encouraged him. He crawled forward. She put her hands on his shoulders and guided him. He sank onto her stomach.

"Sounds like we need a gag that keeps your mouth open."

He shivered. "Broke the last one."

Sypha put her hands on his head. The weight was comforting. It pressed his cheek to her breasts. "Then we'll need to get a better one. Something sturdier."

"Will we test it?"

Sypha pressed his face a little more deliberately to her breasts. "Would you want to?"

Alucard nodded.

"Then of course we will," Sypha said. She giggled when he nuzzled her chest. "Now, do you just want to get between my legs when I'm bleeding, or-"

Alucard gasped and jerked his head up. "You'd let me?"

"Ah," Sypha said. She grinned. Her fingers found the edge of the collar again. She tugged him back down. "Both, then."

Alucard moaned into her breasts. Both was good. Both was lovely.

"Is that something you've been fantasizing about, then?"

He paused, and lifted himself up slightly. He raised an eyebrow.

"No? What do you think about, when you play with yourself?"

He raised his other eyebrow.

Sypha tilted her head. "When you, uhh, masturbate?"

"Oh," Alucard said. He blinked. What a strange question. "I don't."

"You don't think about anything? Or you don't think about anything I want to know?"

He shook his head.

Something crashed in the kitchen and Trevor shot out. "You bastard! You don't-- you don't-- you know?" He let out a choked noise, curled his hand into an open fist, and made a stroking motion.

Alucard straightened his shoulders and stared Trevor's indignant horror down. "Neither do you."

Trevor's face went slack. "Fuck."

Sypha cackled. "He's not wrong."

"Wait a minute though," Trevor said. He stood between the bar and the couch, apparently too stricken to move. "How the fuck does that even happen? What, did you forget how?"

Alucard snorted. "Don't be ridiculous."

"Is it really that hard to believe that he doesn't share your, uhh, habits?" Sypha asked.

Trevor opened his mouth. Then he closed it again. His brow furrowed. "Fuck. Am I really the only perverted one?"

Sypha's smirk faltered. She twisted around on the sofa to face him properly. "Trevor? You're fine. I'm the one who'd rather tie someone up than have sex with them."

"But I like when you tie me up," Trevor said. His voice had gone quiet. He looked past Sypha, to where Alucard was still kneeling on the footrest. "'I just didn't think that you'd be- cleaner."

"Cleaner?" Alucard asked. He stared. "Trevor? I found my, my gratification in biting people instead."

"Oh," Trevor said, "Oh shit."

Alucard pursed his lips and nodded. He dipped his head. "I have satisfied myself. In monstrous ways. Those instincts- those habits haven't just disappeared."

"No," Sypha said, almost in a whisper. Alucard heard the sofa creak as she leaned back towards him. She reached forward and tucked a stray lock of hair behind his ear. "Of course they wouldn't."

"That's the part of me you hate, right?" Alucard asked. He looked up at her. "The part you want to beat out of me?"

Sypha winced. "Even if that was how that works, I really don't want to hurt you."

Trevor coughed.

Sypha looked over at him. She raised an eyebrow. "Don't you have dinner to make?"

"It's simmering," Trevor said, "Be ready in another five minutes. But this seems important."

"You don't want to hurt me, Miss?" Alucard said. His lip twitched. "Even a little bit?"

"I mean, I do. Just, you know. In the fun way," Sypha said.

"I'd like that too."

Trevor stepped into the livingroom. He leaned on the back of the sofa and considered them both. "Did we stop fucking cause I got hurt? Cause that's-- you guys know you can go on without me, right? I'm, uhh, into that."

"You've mentioned," Sypha said. She sighed. "I think we stopped because things go wrong between just the two of us."

Alucard nodded.

"What? And I help with that? When I'm so fucking stu--"

Sypha held up a single finger in warning, and he stopped.

"You do, though," Alucard said, "Trevor, you're- you're-" He struggled for the right word for a moment, and then motioned to Sypha for help.

"Trevor, you're canny, and empathetic, and you always know what to say and how to help and we wouldn't be able to do this without you."

"Yes," Alucard said. He pointed, as though he could indicate all of the words Sypha was saying as she spoke them. "All of that."

Trevor went pink. He looked down at the sofa pillows and cleared his throat. "I mean, I'm still a pain in the ass."

"No you're not."

"See?" Sypha said. She grinned. "He agrees with me. It's a majority. You are fine and sweet and good."

Trevor blinked. He looked between them. "Well, shit."

"You also happen to know what it's like to be in Alucard's shoes right now," Sypha said, "Which makes you invaluable to both of us."

"You said you'd be there," Alucard said, very quietly, "When we try things. I still-- need that."

He heard Trevor gulp, and then cross the room. A pair of warm, strong hands rested on his shoulders. Trevor lifted him into an awkward hug. He squeezed him.

"Of course. Of course. I'm sorry."

Alucard leaned into the embrace. "You don't need to be sorry."

"But I made it about me, again. This was supposed to be about you, and figuring things out."

"You're a part of that."

"Can I help?" Sypha asked.

Alucard raised his head from Trevor's shoulder and nodded. He felt Trevor loosen his grip around him, until it was a just a firm touch on his shoulders. Suddenly, it felt protective, like Trevor was steadying and securing him to handle Sypha.

"You want to develop better-- habits. Is that right?" Sypha asked.

"Fuck. You make it sound like he's starting a new diet," Trevor said. He grinned down at Alucard and squeezed him again. "You want to fuck. You want to use your body in good old fashioned, carnal ways and unlearn all of this undead thirst crap."

"That's one way. To put it," Alucard said. He shivered.

Sypha had shifted, getting her knees under herself. She leaned over him. He recognized the hunger in her eyes. "You want us to do obscene things to you?"

Alucard nodded. "It will take time. I think. To unlearn my-- instincts."

"Well, yes," Sypha said. She gripped his wrists and brought his hands together in front of him. She was almost as red in the face as Trevor had been a moment before, but for very different reasons. She smiled- a slanted, predatory curl of her lips that made his throat dry. "We should start now, then."

"Now?"

"You want to be my toy?"

He nodded.

"New rule, then," Sypha said. She took him by the collar again. She tugged him off the footrest, and Alucard went with her. Whatever he had said, whatever he feared and felt, whatever was churning in his stomach right now, his limbs were obeying.

"You aren't allowed on the furniture."

Alucard sank forward on the floor, pressing his legs together around the warm tingling sensation that command inspired. He nodded.

Trevor whistled. "That's mean, Miss."

"Well, I've yet to see him sit on a chair like a regular person," Sypha said. She ruffled his hair. "You're still allowed to use everything in your room, of course."

Alucard looked up at her. Sypha had propped herself on her elbow, staring down at him. Her eyes were bright and amused.

She was into this. He was into this. Alucard took in a breath. Then he jerked his head over. A mechanical chirping had started in the kitchen. He still hadn't gotten used to that-- the strange combination of buzzing, beeping and whirring that seemed to be the constant white noise of this world humans had built.

Trevor pushed himself off the couch with a sigh. "Dinner. Right. One minute. On the counter, Miss, or would you like to eat here?"

"The counter is fine," Sypha said. She'd moved her hands out of the way when Alucard had jerked his head. He hadn't caught her expression, but he'd heard the spike in her pulse. He still frightened her with sudden movements, then. He grimaced, and ducked his head, wrapping his arms around himself.

Her concerns would take time. Just like his instincts. He shouldn't expect otherwise. He should just stay on the floor like the animal he was.

Sypha shifted, pulling herself off the sofa. She stepped over to the stool at the kitchen counter. That was their ritual- Trevor and Sypha's. Eating a meal together was something he couldn't take part in.

But Sypha paused at the edge of the living room carpet, and came back to him.

"Alucard?"

"Yes?"

"There's one more rule I'd like to propose."

Alucard raised an eyebrow. Sypha didn't propose rules. She simply instated them.

"Well, not a rule exactly. More of a dynamic. I'd like to make you responsible for Trevor's orgasms."

Alucard bit his lip to suppress a moan. "His key?"

Sypha shook her head. She stepped back to him. She placed her hands on Alucard's shoulders and put her lips to his ear. "I want you to make your body available for him whenever I unlock him."

"Oh. You mean we'd, ummm-"

Sypha grinned and whispered into his ear. "Would you like that?"

"Immensely."

"Good," Sypha said, "Now, come. You can kneel between us while we eat."

 

Finally, he got to give Trevor something back.

It wasn't his body. Not first. Sypha was waiting for that, and Alucard grudgingly accepted that wait. No, the first thing Alucard got to give him felt strange- frustratingly mundane wrapped in a dish towel so he could hold it safely as he walked out of the study.

Trevor looked up from his half-tied hiking boots. His gaze was instantly weary. "You know I gotta go, right?"

Alucard nodded. He stepped to the edge of the livingroom and held out the cloth bundle anyway.

"Sypha gave me permission. My shoulder barely hurts and, I'll just be doing a patrol. Nothing serious. I won't leave the city limits."

"I know," Alucard said. He stepped in and pressed the cloth into Trevor's hands.

"Look. If you really don't want to do the dishes, I'll get to them when I get back," Trevor said.

Alucard rolled his eyes. "Open it."

"What is-" Trevor started. He unfolded the cloth. A silver chain slid out, threatening to take the pendant with it. But Trevor caught it before it could fall.

The gem was a glass imitation of a garnet, and the metal was just silvered steel. But Alucard had reminded himself over and over that this was not a frivolous gift. It was functional, and it was appropriate that the ornamentation should be sparse.

He hadn't expected Trevor to blink and go red and brush his thumb over the simple inlay for the fake jewel.

"Shit, bat boy."

"There's a spell on it," Alucard said, "If you get attacked by something, it should trigger."

"I should wear this hunting, then? Like a good luck charm?"

"Please. Please do."

"Want to put it on me?" Trevor asked. He ducked his head and offered the pendant.

Alucard took an instinctive step back. "I, uhh, shouldn't touch it."

"Oh. Huh. Yeah, guess that makes sense," Trevor said. He donned the chain himself, securing the latch at his nape. The pendant came down past the neck of his shirt and he tucked it away easily. "Guess a goodbye hug's out of the question then?"

Alucard chuckled. "You can have that when you get back safe."

"Yes Mi-" Treovr started. He turned red and cleared his throat. "Yeah. I'll be safe. Course I'll be safe."

"Good boy," Alucard said, unable to resist. He reached forward to take Trevor's hand, remembered himself, and settled on standing back so he could reach the door.

He waived, silently wishing Trevor's luck, until he closed the door.

 

He needn't have worried. Alucard heard the car roll back into the driveway a few hours later. Trevor opened the door steadily. His shoes came off with twin clumps.

Alucard raised his head. He put a hand on the book he'd been reading, keeping his place. He just heard the tiny, silver sound of a chain sliding into place- on one of the coat pegs, maybe?

The amulet had done its job. Trevor was alive. He was back.

"Honey? I'm home!" Trevor called down the hall.

Alucard shifted. His lip twitched. He considered calling out to him. But even sitting up to speak felt like an exertion when the electric blanket was comfortably wrapped around his lower body. Besides, he could wait. He'd been told to wait.

"You're also loud," Sypha called back, "How'd it go?"

"Fine," Trevor said. He was stepping down the hallway. "Guess it's been quiet for a few weeks now."

"Do you feel better, getting back out there?"

"Yeah," Trevor said. Alucard heard him flop onto the sofa. "Yeah. Sorry. Do you still need dinner?"

Alucard practically heard Sypha's eye roll. "Don't be sorry. I had leftovers. You're fine. And-- I'm glad you're doing this again."

"I did good?" Trevor asked, suddenly in a very small voice.

"Yes," Sypha said. Box springs squeaked. "In fact, I have something for you."

"Something?"

Sypha chuckled. Their footsteps started down the hallway. They reached Sypha's bedroom, and the door shut behind them with a click.

Whatever happened in the next twenty minutes, Alucard couldn't hear it. He tried to focus on reading.

Sypha would keep her word. Wouldn't she?

Alucard froze when he heard the bedroom door open. He counted Trevor's slow, hesitant steps. Seven, eight, nine. Closer, and closer, but weary. He must have paused at the door. Alucard practically felt Trevor tap his fingertips on the doorknob.

She'd told Alucard to wait. He closed the book he'd been reading and set it on the bedside table. He propped his chin in his hands and pressed his stomach a little closer to the mattress, listening.

Finally, the door creaked open.

"Hey. Ummm-"

Alucard looked up. He blinked. Trevor leaned through the door, his bare chest and most of one naked leg visible through the frame.

He was delicious- like something that could be carved out of marble. He was some avatar of classic heroism and strength. But he was also standing with his head bent. He ran his fingers through his hair.

"Sypha said that we could- I mean, if you're in the mood for it- or, if you'd like to ummm-"

"Trevor?"

"Yeah?"

Alucard grinned. He raised a hand, and curled one finger, beckoning.

Trevor slipped through the door. Alucard let himself be greedy. He swept across Trevor's body with his eyes, enjoying the way he moved. His broad shoulders and wonderfully sculpted chest and his cock, free and already erect.

He was ready, then.

"M-May I?" Trevor asked, oddly meek as he approached the bed.

Alucard shifted. He braced his shoulders and tucked his knees under himself, pushing his lower body out from under the electric blanket. The material slid off of him. He got to reveal that he was nude from the waist down. "You may."

"Oh," Trevor said, "Oh, fuck." He stretched out a hand. He brushed Alucard's bare hip. "Fuck, you're unreal."

Alucard twisted his head, looking back at him with a grin. "And you're being very gentle with me."

Trevor mounted the bed behind him and put both hands on Alucard's hips. He groaned. "You deserve gentleness."

"What if I want-- something else?" Alucard asked.

Trevor squeezed his hips. He leaned in. He grazed his cheek with those slightly chapped, unbearably gentle lips. "Something else?"

Alucard sighed, leaned back and pressed his ass to Trevor's face. It was the dirtiest thing he could think to do. Surely it would be enough- would communicate what it was so damn hard for him to put into words, would give Trevor the permission he needed.

It did. Trevor grunted, sank his teeth playfully into his skin, and then rose with a contented sigh. He put his pelvis to his ass.

"Fuck. Did you--?" Trevor started. One of his hands had moved from Alucard's hip to explore between his cheeks. He found the wetness there. "Did you and Sypha- you planned this?"

"Maybe."

"Damn," Trevor said. He growled and sank into him.

Alucard expected it this time. He arched his back, panting. He let the throbbing heat from Trevor's body overwhelm him. Intimate. Overwhelming. Perfect.

Perfect.

Chapter Text

(past)

It was a fine thing, to sit beside him afterwards and feel contented, tired warmth radiating off of him. They watched old movies, or read side by side, curled up in a blanket. It was as though they were the only two people in the world- even if Alucard knew that Sypha was asleep just down the hall. Even if he knew that Trevor would join her soon, and was only staying up when he was clearly exhausted for his benefit.

Some evenings, Trevor stayed awake enough to talk. This was frequent when they were still establishing their ritual. He asked obsessively. Had Alucard gotten what he needed? Was it fun? Was there anything he could do- could offer?

To which Alucard would normally roll his eyes and nuzzle into his chest. This was all he wanted, apart from the shower he'd already taken and the clean clothes he'd already donned.

It took him a month to realize what Trevor was actually asking. This was not some persistent commitment to aftercare and ethics. Or, at least, there was something else underneath.

Trevor was worried about him. He might even be worried with reason. If Alucard stirred the calm surface of his thoughts, he found a murky undercurrent. Because of course there were other things he wanted. They were just impossible at best and dangerous at worst. He shouldn't even voice them.

One evening in early June, when Trevor asked, they slipped out anyway.

They were laying on the carpet. Trevor leaned against the sofa. He had groaned and muttered about this for the first few weeks before conceding that the floor wasn't so bad. It gave them more space. Alucard had made himself half a nest out of pillows and blankets. He lay nestled in it, oddly distant from Trevor except for his hand, which he'd stretched out so Alucard could hold it in both of his own.

He was wrapped in a warm, dark comfort like sleep, and it made his careless.

"It was okay?" Trevor yawned.

"Yes," Alucard said. He shifted, trying to feel out the weight in his chest. He put his forehead to Trevor's palm. "I just wish-"

"Yeah?"

Alucard grimaced. He shook his head, instinctively moving away. "Nevermind."

"No, wait," Trevor said. He fumbled. His hand found Alucard's shoulder under the blanket. Alucard heard him shifting. "Wait a minute. What do you wish?"

"I- it's nothing."

Trevor brushed back the blanket and looked down at him. "Tell me? Please?"

"I wish I could-" Alucard started. His brow furrowed. The word "court" sagged on his tongue, hopelessly outdated, as much a relic as he was. "I wish I mattered. To you."

Trevor groaned. He pushed himself up and wrapped both arms around him. "But you do. You do."

Alucard leaned back into the hold. He twisted his head and raised an eyebrow. "Even if all I can give you is my body?"

The grip around Alucard's back loosened. Trevor went pale.

"Trevor?" Alucard asked. What had he said wrong this time?

Trevor clasped his hands around his mouth. His voice came out strained and small, like he was trying not to be sick. "Is that what this feels like? To you?"

"It's okay," Alucard said. He reached out a hand, grazing Trevor's fingers, thinking to move them from his mouth. "I don't mind."

Trevor swatted his hand away. He stood up. "Well, I do."

"You do?"

"Of course I fucking do! Christ," Trevor said. He ran his hands through his hair. "Fucking Christ on a stake. You told me. You told me that you thought I was going to rape you at the beginning and now- did we end up there anyway? Are you doing this for me?"

Alucard backed away, into his pile of blankets and pillows on the floor. Trevor's rasps were somehow worse than shouting. He gulped. "Not- not just for you."

Trevor threw himself onto the sofa. That was cruel of him. It made the distance between them tangible and impassable.

Alucard watched him put his head in his hands. Trevor sagged, the tension leaving his shoulders, his back slumping, his heartrate and breath settling out.

Alucard wrapped a blanket around himself and rested his chin on his covered knees. He spoke to the floor. "This can wait. Till morning."

There wasn't much he could do in the mornings except talk- or hide in his room and read. Summer had arrived late this year, but it had come with seemingly endless days of blistering, piercing light. He hadn't been able to go outside in weeks.

"No. No. I guess I just thought-" Trevor started. He took a long breath. "I thought- that I could give you something normal. Just, I dunno, an equal relationship between two people."

"Equal?" Alucard snorted, "What would equity even look like? Between us?"

"I guess I don't know."

"You already have Sypha. Who provides for you, and protects you, better than I could. I'm just a- a-"

"A what?"

Alucard wrinkled his nose. He trawled up the language he'd heard Trevor and Sypha use, rather than struggling with his own. "A toy to fuck?"

"Fuck. I'm sorry. I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry. I thought this was- I really convinced myself this was okay when- I guess it's all been screwed from the beginning. I'll let Sypha know," Trevor said. He nodded into his hands, and then dragged his head up. He gave Alucard a twisted smile. "It's better. If I just stay locked up."

"What?" Alucard asked, "No."

"But you said-"

Alucard shot upright. He tossed aside the blanket and got to the sofa. He couldn't sit, but he put his hands on either side of Trevor and loomed over him. "Trevor? I have been telling you- over and over, for weeks. I. Like. This. The sex has been great. I just want more."

Trevor stared up at him. "More sex?"

Alucard groaned. "More of a- a-" he started. He gritted his teeth and sank his fingers into the baseboard of the sofa, trying to find the word. "More of this thing between us. A relationship."

"Oh," Trevor said. He smacked the side of his head. "You want to date."

"Yes. Yes. But, we can't."

"Why not?"

Alucard gaped at him. "You're Sypha's- umm." He waived his hand vaguely. The word betrothed came to mind. But again, it would sound ridiculous out loud.

"Partner," Trevor offered, "partner is the word. I mean, or sub, but we try to keep that private. And I don't know if you've noticed, bat boy. She doesn't mind sharing me."

"She doesn't?"

"You know she's slept better this month than she has in years, right? Cause I'm not coming to bed all needy and shit."

Alucard shook his head. "That's not the same."

"No. You're right. It's not and I shouldn't have assumed that sex was enough," Trevor said. He reached over and took one of Alucard's hands. He brushed his lips to his palm. "How can I help?"

Alucard grimaced. "It's hard to explain."

"Would it be easier if we were in your room and you didn't have to loom over me?"

"Yes."

"Then come here."

Trevor carried him back to his room. They settled on the bed. This time, Alucard sat first, and Trevor draped his head on his stomach and covered his mouth with his hand to suppress a yawn.

"Tired?"

"Maybe."

Alucard shook his head. "I told you. This can wait."

"I'll sleep in tomorrow. It's fine."

Alucard rolled his eyes. But he let it go for now. He cleared his throat. "When I was- young, before everything went wrong, I was taught etiquette. If I had wanted, as a noble and a nobles son, to court in any traditional sense, I could have. Except-"

"A bit more complicated for two guys?"

Alucard shrugged. "Maybe. I never got to know, how my family would have felt about Belmont. My mother was executed and then, well-"

"That's right. Dad went all Dracula on, uhh, the human race, right?"

"Whatever chance we might have had. At something normal. Was overshadowed by that."

"And by Belmont's excommunication, I bet."

Alucard looked down. However tired Trevor might be, his eyes were bright and alert. He was paying attention. This mattered to him.

"Yes," Alucard said. He nodded. He spread out his hands on either side of Trevor, trying to illustrate the gap of time they were dealing with. He flicked the fingers on his left hand as though he could sum up his own, distant memory of what he'd been taught by his parents, and then by Belmont and Belnades and their strange set of experiences. "What Belmont and I had was- unusual. By any measure. But there were still- still things I could offer. Not tokens of courtship, or a dowry, or alliance, since we had no family to speak of but-" He struggled for the word. Little, telltale twinges had started in his jaw.

"I mean, you're hot as hell. So you've got that going for you."

Alucard snorted. "I protected him. When he needed to rest, or was ill, or when all he wanted was to drink. And he guarded my coffin when I slept. It was- equitable, after a fashion."

"Goddamn," Trevor said, "If that's your standard for romance. I've really got to get you on a proper date."

"My standards are different."

"Just a little, yeah. A fancy dinner's out of the question unless I'm the main course, right?"

Alucard banished the image of him sprawled out, a decadent vintage of red pooling beside his throat. There was horror, as well as desire, in picturing it. Alucard pushed it out of his mind more easily than he had before.

His eyes weren't red when he looked down at Trevor, and ran his hands through his hair.

"No, Trevor. Not even as a joke."

"Fine."

"I can't protect you."

"You can't go out hunting with me," Trevor corrected. He wiggled, pressing his head closer to Alucard's stomach. "You've been protecting me. With that necklace, and helping Sypha with the hex thing."

"Doesn't feel like much."

"Is that what you want? To be some all powerful, magical protector?"

Alucard's hands twitched as he considered it. "It's all I've ever been." Other than terrible, wretched things, of course.

"But is it what you want?"

"I want to be yours. However that is possible."

Trevor chuckled. "Okay. And you want to date?"

"Yes," Alucard sighed, "I know it would be-- difficult. I don't understand, fully, what the modern equivalents are. Or what would even be possible for us. For me."

"A lot of it's stuff you do in public. Going out to restaurants and shit. I know that's scary for you."

Alucard straightened a little behind him, squaring his shoulders. "I'd like to try. Just to try. If- if you think it's safe."

"Dovetails with the whole "reintegrating into society" thing that Sypha's been too busy to think about in months," Trevor said. He yawned again- openly, this time, and sank deeper into Alucard's lap. "Fuck. Bat boy, we've been doing this whole damn thing backwards?"

Alucard traced a finger idly across his forehead. There was an old scar there- barely a hairline fracture in his skin. He raised an eyebrow. "How so?"

"Well, normally you'd get the dating first. And then taking someone home for a good fuck. And then, three years down the line you're living together and doing their laundry. We've literally did this in reverse."

"Ah. Of course," Alucard said. His lip twitched. "And then you get chained up in the basement?"

"If you're lucky."

Alucard paused. "Have- have you actually been trapped down there?"

"Just once. It was last summer. Sypha was supposed to take a vacation. An actual, proper vacation. But plans fell through. So we decided to do something-- intense, instead."

Alucard shivered. He could picture it.

"Hey," Trevor said. A hand reached up and brushed the side of Alucard's face. "How does boyfriend sound?"

"Boyfriend?"

"Or, boyfriends, I guess," Trevor said, "You know. Us." He gestured between them. His face had gone slightly pink in the faint light.

"Boyfriends," Alucard repeated. He tested it. The word felt light, almost insubstantial compared to words he'd known once; lover, betrothed, consort. But it also seemed to fit. Boyfriend summoned up a softer side of him, fundamentally more vulnerable. He was five hundred and something years old, and he was a child, according to the standards of adulthood in this new human word.

He would take it. Boy. Friend.

"That sounds nice."

Trevor grinned. "I've never had a boyfriend before."

"Really?"

"Yup. I mean- I figured out I swung both ways pretty early on. But, to be honest, it was bad hookups in bars for a while."

"Hookups?"

Trevor's grin widened. "Oh? Should I tell you all my drunken, sexual escapades? All the stupid shit I did in my late teens?"

"You. Should go to bed," Alucard said. He tapped a finger to Trevor's nose for emphasis.

"Fine," Trevor said. He sat up. "Fuck. Am I gonna have two partners trying to take care of me now?"

"Maybe. When you need it."

Trevor pushed himself off the bed. "Okay. I'll be good." He got to the door and then looked back. "Would you like to be let out, or-?"

"Actually," Alucard started. He cleared his throat. "I'd like you. To stay."

Trevor looked back, tilting his head. "What? You want me to sleep here?"

Alucard dipped his head. It was hard to ask- still so unbearably hard to ask. He found shame writhing in his stomach. He gave a tiny nod. "I'd like us to sleep- together."

He half expected Trevor to laugh, or to make some crude joke about the other meaning that phrase took on. He held onto his stomach and waited for something vulgar.

"Don't you need a coffin, for that?"

"I can still rest. And press my body to yours," Alucard said. He wrinkled his nose. It sounded so meaningless, when he put it into words. Suspect, even. Hadn't Trevor called this a "creepy vampire thing"- to be awake beside him as he slept. "I don't know. I just-"

His jaw spasmed, and he put his hand over his mouth, trailing off. It was stupid. All dangerous, suspicious, selfish and entirely too much to ask. Trevor had already given him so much and he could offer almost nothing in return.

He didn't realize Trevor had come back to him until he felt the softness of his lips on his forehead.

"My poor, long suffering love," Trevor said.

Alucard gasped. He hadn't heard him use that tone before.

"Of course we can. Let me go brush my teeth. I'll be back."

Alucard looked up at him. He gulped. "Promise?"

"I promise."


(present)


Sypha was right. This was true in various ways, and Alucard could practically hear Trevor speaking in his ear, telling him as much. But Alucard meant in one, very specific way.

Anything you could find online was useless.

He tediously scoured synopsis of religious doctrines, often with a dictionary in hand. He read personal stories, half of them refuted by internal inconsistencies. He ended up on wikipedia more times than he could count. But he couldn't find anything that resembled his own, incomplete understanding of magic. No explanation of reincarnation fit.

It would be possible, though. It must be. He had said it himself, quoting his father. Hell was another plain. Which would mean they all were- wherever Trevor Belmont and Sypha Belnades might have ended up. They would be transversable. It would not be easy. It would require magic most mortals did not possess. But if anyone could manage it, it would be those two.

So why now? It was a date engraved in his mind. October 16th, 1991. Why, if they hadn't returned to him for hundreds of years, would they come back then?

Frustratingly, his own timeline was much harder to puzzle out. Had he been awake, 28 years ago? The only way he could guess would be to look for old obituaries- unsolved murders, gruesome animal attacks. He'd have to see if there was anything in this area that matched his hunting style. And as haunting as it would be to put names and faces and stories to the senseless killing he'd committed in those miserable years, it might be worth it just to have some other evidence.

Had they come back for him? To stop him? Save him? Redeem him? How narcissistic. Sypha was right. He had betrayed them; every ideal that Belmont and Belnades had stood for. If they had looked down- as Alucard envisioned them, enshrined in painfully golden light and peering between clouds, with halos on their crowns and dove white wings around their shoulders- if Trevor and Sypha had seen what he had done, wouldn't it have been kinder and more sensible to send down a bolt of divine lightning, then approximate copies of their bodies and personalities?

Alucard fixated. He went in circles. He spent long nights on the computer.

Trevor made no comment after the first night, not even when Alucard forgot to wash the dishes or left the laundry half folded. He took it in stride. He covered for him, protecting him and what he was doing from Sypha. Alucard didn't realize just how much he was shielding him until Sypha settled on the edge of the couch and peered down at him.

"So, you figured anything out?"

"No," Alucard said. He shook his head and closed the laptop, wrinkling his nose.

"You know it doesn't matter to us, right? Just, let me know if you want to switch pronouns."

"If I what?" Alucard asked. He looked up.

Sypha went pink. "Shit. Sorry. I mean, of course you don't have to change anything. I didn't mean to- if it's just a sex thing, not about gender- it doesn't need to be."

Alucard raised an eyebrow. "Gender?"

Sypha took a deep breath. She stood up. "I'm sorry. All I meant was, if there is a way for Trevor and I to support you, let us know."

Alucard wracked his brains for a moment, trying to puzzle out when they had talked about gender. Then he smacked his forehead. "Oh. You mean, when I was in women's clothes."

"They don't have to be women's clothes," Sypha said quietly, "They could just be, you know, yours."

"I liked them," Alucard said. He shrugged, trying to get his brain to think about something new for the first time in weeks. "I like the feel of soft, delicate things. I like my hair long, and when Trevor- when he calls me pretty."

"That's okay," Sypha said, too fast. She was still red in the face. "You're allowed to be whatever you like."

"I don't feel- what's the word? Feminine? But I've never really felt like a man, either."

Sypha tilted her head. She returned to the couch and offered him her arms. It was an invitation in multiple senses, and Alucard accepted it. He settled between them. She put a questing, curious hand on his shoulder. "What do you feel like?"

"Mostly? An animal. A monster. But you two bring out-- all the humanness I didn't know I still had."

"Is 'he/ him/ his' still okay?"

Alucard chuckled. "Yes."

"And would you like some delicate, soft, feminine things to wear?"

Alucard shivered and leaned into her. As much as he enjoyed intimacy with Trevor, Sypha was very nice to recline against. "Yes please."

"Here, then," Sypha said. She pointed to the coffee table. "Bring the laptop over."

"Sypha?"

"Let me introduce you to the wonders of online shopping," Sypha said dryly.

Alucard rolled his eyes. "T-Trevor already showed me."

"Did he?" Sypha asked. She nodded in vague approval. She had the computer in Alucard's lap, and fiddled with the trackpad. She started typing with a speed and confidence Alucard envied.

"So what have you been researching all this time then?"

Alucard chewed on his lip. "Reincarnation."

"Oh," Sypha said. The movement of her arms around Alucard stopped. She dropped her voice to a whisper, as though there was anyone else here who might overhear them. "Is this because of the shared birthday thing?"

"It can't be a coincidence. It can't. But- I never studied magical theory. What souls are. How they c-could be reborn."

"You think we're them, then? Your Trevor and Sypha? From 500 years ago? That we have, what, their souls?"

"Yes," Alucard said. He gritted his teeth. "But I don't- know."

"How would you?"

"You died. I don't know how, or why, you would have r-returned."

"They died," Sypha said firmly, "They died. And we're not the same. You know that, right? Even if I have another Sypha's soul. I'm not her. I don't have some weird, resurfacing memories, or anything."

Alucard sighed.

"However much you want us to be. However similar we might seem. We aren't them. And that has to be okay."

"I know."

Sypha pressed her arms to either side of him in an awkward hug. "Let me distract you. We can buy you something fun for the next time you want to dom the crap out of us."

That, finally, brought Alucard out of his head. He twisted around and stared at her. "You- you'll let me do that? Again?"

Sypha giggled. "Definitely."

Chapter Text

(past)

Trevor was even warmer in his sleep. One of his hands was drapped over Alucard's stomach. Their legs were twined together, and Alucard was pretty sure Trevor was drooling onto his shoulder.

The whole world was the quiet warmth under the blanket and the low pull of Trevor's breathing. It was perfect.

Even once he started snoring.

No, Alucard couldn't sleep. But he closed his eyes and imagined their bodies so closely intertwined that they became one. It was close enough to a dream. Close enough to a symbol of affection that transcended time and culture.

He mattered to him. And he had his trust, at least enough for them to fall asleep side by side.

It had taken years for Belmont to trust him with that.

Something tightened in Alucard's chest, a metal band compressing around his ribcage. He squeezed his eyes shut, going quiet and still in the dark. It was almost painful, a weight behind his eyes and on his lungs.

And he knew that this weight and tension had been here for a long time. Perhaps for 500 years, he'd been clutching around himself, terrified, miserable.

Was he ready to let this go?

Maybe he could have, that night, if he'd had those long, sleepy hours to feel out the binds he'd put on himself, find the weak points in the metal and work them till they broke. But the feeling of restraint, and the small, far off sounds of Trevor's breathing were drowned out by a door creaking open.

Alucard stirred. He raised his head. The blanket slipped off his shoulder. The dark room came into focus- the window covered by thick curtains, the sword mounted on the wall beside the bookcase, his own magical notes scattered on the desk. Even in the dark, he saw and felt all the ways that this room had started to become his own.

There was a rectangle of faint, silver light that stretched over the floor to the edge of the blanket. Alucard roused himself enough to trace it back to its source.

The door was ajar. Alucard peered through the opening, and met a set of eyes, grey in the low light.

Sypha flinched. Alucard caught her expression as it shifted from fascination to shame. Then the door closed.

Alucard listened to the latch click. He counted Sypha's slow steps back up the hall. How distracted had he been, to not hear her? How long had she been watching them?

He shivered, and slipped back under the blanket. What had she expected? Had she been checking for twin dots on Trevor's neck? A pool of blood soaking into the mattress?

Alucard squeezed his eyes shut. He tried to feel it again- the dream, pressing himself so close to Trevor that he could no longer feel the defining borders of their bodies, the tightness in his chest that he might finally be able to break free from.

Instead, he heard the door up the hall quietly close, and bedsprings creak as Sypha crawled into what must be a cold, lonely bed.

Better hers than his.

 

"Hey. You, uhh, up?"

Alucard shook his head. He shifted, pressing his body into Trevor's.

"Yeah?" Trevor asked. He chuckled. "Don't tell me you're not a morning person?" He sat up and stretched behind him.

Alucard rolled himself onto his lap and looked up. "I am not. By definition. A morning person."

"That's a shame," Trevor yawned, "It's cute when your hair's all messy."

Alucard brushed a hand through his hair and wrinkled his nose.

"Here," Trevor said. He leaned over and pushed the hair back from Alucard's face. "It's not so bad."

"It's not. I'm used to- when I really slept, for years on end. I'd wake up covered in dust and cobwebs."

Trevor shuddered.

"This is nicer."

"I should fucking hope so," Trevor said. He slid out from under him with impressive grace for someone who'd just woken up. He stood up and stretched again. Alucard swallowed back a moan. It was a very nice view-- especially when he was just in briefs.

Trevor looked back at him. And Alucard had the impression he was thinking the same thing. It was the way his shoulders dropped and his jaw went slack.

"God damn," he said.

Alucard lifted himself out of bed, just enough to expose his chest and tilt his head to one side. "What is it?"

"I love you."

Something thudded audibly in Alucard's chest. "You do?"

"Of course I- wait a minute," Trevor said. He blinked. "Shit. Had I not-?"

"You hadn't."

Trevor smacked the side of his head. "Fuck. I could of sworn I'd said it before. All romantic and proper and shit. I didn't mean to just-"

"Then say it again."

"What? Now?"

Alucard nodded and grinned. "And kiss me."

Trevor took a deep breath. He sat back on the bed. "It wasn't fucking fair to you at the beginning, was it?"

"How do you mean?"

"I knew you were into me. Almost from the very beginning. You never got to decide whether you wanted to keep that private."

Alucard shook his head. "All I could do was hope."

"Alucard?"

He looked over.

Trevor hooked a hand around his waist and drew him in. He was still warm, and when his eyes found Alucard's this time, they were clear.

"I love you," Trevor said. He put his other hand at the back of Alucard's head and leaned him into a kiss.

And Alucard sank into the warm, entrancing feeling of being loved in return.

 

"Should I get you a comb then? Or do you want out?"

Alucard blinked. It took a moment for the words to register. He gave himself a small shake and swung his legs over the edge of the bed. He looked over to the window. The sliver of daylight showing through the base of the curtain was blue-grey instead of yellow. That gave him some hope that it might finally be overcast. That would be a small gift. He had gotten nothing done last night.

"Livingroom, would be nice."

"Cool."

 

"You know, I can do some of that."

Alucard looked over. Trevor had been awake for thirty minutes at most, and only just finished breakfast, and already he was trying to help. He had his empty bowl and spoon in hand.

Alucard rolled his eyes. He took the bowl and added it to the washing he was working on in the sink. "You can take out the trash."

"Fine," Trevor said. He brushed his hip to Alucard's side as he stooped over to the can. The spoon from the bowl clattered into the sink.

Alucard closed his eyes and put his hands on the edge of the counter. He wasn't used to Trevor playing these games so openly. But maybe putting a name to it had meant something to both of them after all.

Trevor stepped away with the drawstrings of a trash bag wound around his hand. And Alucard had to resist the temptation to follow him. There were reasonable and appropriate times to tackle him from behind and cover his nape in kisses and somehow end up pinned on the floor with Trevor's hands under his shirt.

Alucard finished the washing and started wiping down the counter instead. When the front door opened again, goose flesh started on his arms. But he should really let Trevor wash his hands first.

"Hey. Alucard?"

He turned. It had to be something pretty important for Trevor to use his name. "Yes?"

I have a really, really stupid idea."

 

Theaters had changed.

He should have expected that, right? Everything had changed.

He caught details as they passed through the glass double doors-- flashing screens, buzzing lights, people gathered in clumps. Alucard gulped and dipped his head. His sensitive nose was filled with the smell of some food- lard, Alucard thought, or something similair- so overwhelming it thickened the air. It was dizzying.

He resisted he tempation to touch his face, which would smear the powder Trevor had helped him apply before they left. He clung to Trevor's side when a tired sounding voice asked to see their tickets. He followed Trevor down a carpeted hallway, passing open doors.

Trevor stopped and squeezed his hand.

"We're in here, okay?"

Alucard nodded. He wasn't calm enough to think until they stepped into one of the dark side rooms. It was larger than he'd expected, and the entire wall they approached was taken up by a screen.

He lead him into the dark, and Alucard sighed in relief. Trevor had explained this- they'd be in a dark room, too dark for anyone to see him.

Not that anyone would be looking. This was safe. He could do this.

They walked past rows of chairs. Trevor consulted a scrap of paper he had in his face. He squinted, and then handed it to Alucard.

"What are our seats again?"

"Seats?"

Trevor tapped a line of text.

"Uhhh, J11?"

"Cool," Trevor said, "Over here then."

Alucard followed him, and sank gratefully into a chair. He tried not to listen to the quiet chatter of people in seats around them. He didn't want to know where they were sitting. He wanted to imagine it was just him and Trevor.

"Hey," Trevor said. A warm hand crossed Alucard's shoulders. Trevor leaned over and spoke into his ear. "Still fucking terrified?"

Alucard glared. "Terrified is the wrong word. And, less so."

"Cool. Cause I'm getting popcorn."

"What is- wait!" Alucard hissed. But Trevor had already risen and started to walk away. Calling him back would draw attention.

Alucard shrank into his strange, folding seat and closed his eyes instead.

It was ridiculous to be nervous. How fearlessly, effortlessly, had he snuck in and out of human cities before? No one saw one small bat in the shadows under an awning, or looked twice at the face in the crowd that was slightly paler than all the others.

But if he reached into the fear, he found something solid underneath. Guilt.

He deserved to be caught. Like he deserved the collar they'd hidden under a high necked shirt this time, and the burden it brought with it. If someone saw him for what he was- if someone accused him- he could summon no defense for himself. With Trevor gone, he was vulnerable.

"Excuse me."

Alucard nearly fell out of his seat. His head jerked up. There was a man looming over him.

"Y-yes?"

"Can we get through?"

"Oh. Right," he said. He sat up, and pressed himself to the edge of the seat so the stranger and his party could pass him. There was nothing suspicious in their glances as they walked by him. Even if one of them brushed him with their shoulder as they passed, all they did was mutter an apology. No one noticed he was cold and grey.

And even if they did, Trevor was right. No one was thinking about vampires, except as the gruesome fiction they were all preparing to watch. It was all in hid mind- and in this guilty conscience he'd repressed for so long.

He still narrowed his eyes at Trevor when he returned.

"Don't do that again."

"Do what?" Trevor asked. He handed over a brightly colored, grease coated bag of what Alucard had to assume was popson. Alucard wrinkled his nose and accepted it so he could sit down.

"Don't abandon me."

Trevor sat, looked over and grinned. "What? To the cruel intentions of all these theater-goers?"

When Alucard gave a short nod, he snorted. "Bat boy. You deal with Sypha every day. How could anyone here possibly be worse?"

Alucard took in a breath to answer- and had no reasonable response. He settled for handling the popcorn back and sinking into his seat. More people were filling in on either side of them. The lights dimmed. Alucard just caught a tiny buzzing starting behind them. Before he turned his head, the movie announced itself with a call like a trumpet and the screen coming to life.

He wouldn't discover the danger held here until later. The film brought him into its grasp. The visual effects were seamless. He heard Trevor shiver next to him. He reached over and took Alucard's hand.

Alucard squeezed his fingers.

It was too real. Perhaps for both of them. There was a reason they'd stuck to black and white films with their chocolate sauce blood. There was something here, in the horrors skulking in the shadows, that spoke to him.

Then the blood started flowing.

Alucard gulped, and pressed his back deeper into the seat behind him. It should have been horrific. He heard people around him gasp. Trevor swore under his breath as the first kill.

This had been a mistake. Alucard swallowed back panic and thirst. It wasn't just viewing it- stalking shadows and bites at the neck and the undeniable sexualization of the violence- it was being smothered by the excitement and fear of so many other people around him. Of Trevor beside him.

Alucard closed his eyes, and found his own hunts playing back behind his eyes- the bloodshed and fear made beautiful by the films score and the imp in his chest clawing and scratching. He wanted.

How had he possibly thought he could manage this?

"Shit," Trevor breathed.

Alucard opened his eyes. He'd expected Trevor to be responding to the movie again. But his hand pulled out of Alucard's grip- and moved down. Had he seen the red reflected in his eyes, or heard Alucard's labored breathing?

The seat behind him squeaked as Alucard's body tensed up. He pushed against the cushions and squeezed his eyes shut and bit his lip to suppress a whimper.

Trevor had slipped his hand down into his pants. He felt him up. In public. With his arm and shoulder dangerously close to Alucard's mouth when he was already panting with thirst.

And damn him, it worked. Trevor got his hand around his shaft and stroked. It forced Alucard's excitement down- forced his awareness away from his throat and stomach. It was dirty and dangerous and melted him into his seat.

He came, not from the images of flowing blood and the horrors, but from the feel of Trevor's strokes. He swallowed back a gasp and coated his hand.

Trevor pulled away with a quiet chuckle. He licked his fingers, and left Alucard to come down and watch the inevitable end of the story- the monster revealed and understood, the hero overcoming their fear. The happy ending.

Maybe there was something to that after all.

 

"So, that was okay?"

Alucard elbowed him in the ribs. The credits were still rolling, but most of the movie goers had already filed out- some laughing at the cheesy gore, some shivering and shaking off the lingering fear. Alucard doubted that any of them had had quiet the reaction he'd had.

"That should not have worked."

Trevor grinned. "But it did."

"It did."

He tousled Alucard's hair. "No murderous rampages in the theater, okay?"

Alucard sniffed.

"Cool. Let's go home."

They headed out to the car. Alucard felt loose limbed and free. No one noticed them. He was as invisible as mist, and it was dark when they stepped into the parking lot.

"D-do we have to?"

Trevor made a great show of opening the car door for him, and then looked up and raised an eyebrow. "Have to?"

"Go home? Directly?"

He leaned on the car door and tilted his head, considering him. "Where do you want to go?"

Alucard looked up at the clear sky, as inviting as black velvet. He took in a deep breath, clearing the heavy smell of lard from his lungs. He went for it. "Out?"

"Yeah. We can do that."

 

They drove east-- opposite from the direction Trevor had taken him the first time. They found a strip of forest he'd never traveled to before, but Trevor knew well. A place, he said, where trouble sprung up sporadically.

Alucard cupped his hands around his eyes, obscuring the reflected light from the car so that he could see out into the trees. "Looking for trouble?"

Trevor shrugged. But Alucard caught a knot of irritation as he shook it out of his shoulder and took one hand off the wheel. Perhaps Trevor was looking for trouble- perhaps both of them were. Since the hex and Trevor's injury, he'd reported that the forests were quiet. No more missing persons. Just an occasional demonic stray, wandering through the undergrowth.

Alucard knew that Trevor wasn't expecting anything worse than that, because he certainly wouldn't have agreed to this. And what about Alucard?

In his immense foolishness, he wanted trouble. He wanted to be able to protect Trevor and prove himself-- conveniently ignoring that it was impossible right now.

Trevor parked them in a small lot, the worn down parking lines covered in dense layers of pine needles. Alucard unbuckled his seat belt and stepped out and breathed in the smell of it. He pulled his hair out of the tie he'd worn at the theater and let his hair fall free where it could catch the wind.

It wasn't so cold this time. Even the wind that jostled the canopy overhead had a softness to it. Insects droned nearby. A chittering in the nearest tree drew Alucard's eyes. It was just a squirrel. The night was sleepy. The forest felt safe.

"Do not tell Sypha I agreed to this," Trevor said. He locked the car and offered Alucard his arm.

"I won't if you won't."

"Cool. Fancy a stroll? There's a trail this way," he said, pointing to a place where the cement tapered off onto packed dirt.

Alucard kissed his cheek. "Lead the way."

Trevor pulled a flashlight from the bag he always took on his hunts. He started down the trail. His footsteps were still loud and conspicuous in the quiet air, but Alucard enjoyed the confidence with which he walked. He noticed his breathing steadying out.

They both belonged out here, didn't they?

It really was just a stroll- a half hours flat walk punctuated by a few short wooden bridges before circling back to the parking lot. Alucard felt like he should say it now, before they were back in the car, here in this place where they were both at ease.

"I want to meet them," Alucard said. He looked over. "Sypha's friends."

"You- shit!" Trevor said. He'd twisted his head-- and immediately tripped. He swore, and the flashlight rolled out of his hands.

"Trevor?"

"Fucking roots," Trevor said. He caught himself on a trunk and leaned against it. "Fuck. Guess this is easier with night vision, huh?"

"Are you okay?" Alucard asked. He caught the flashlight before it rolled off the trail, and got back to him.

"Fine. Pulled my ankle, maybe. But it's fine. I'm sorry. You were saying something important."

Alucard put the flashlight in his hands. He couldn't keep the corner of his mouth from twitching. "Maybe we should get back to the car. First."

"Or maybe I should sit down, and you should repeat what you were saying."

Alucard offered him his arm and helped Trevor lower himself to the ground. He stretched out a hand and felt his ankle.

"Can I help?"

Trevor shook his head. "You want to meet them? Your sure?"

"I- I want to meet other humans."

"That aren't painfully evocative copies of your past lovers, you mean?" Trevor asked. He lifted his foot and gently rotated his ankle at the socket. He grimaced- but Alucard reckoned that was from pain.

"Yes. That."

"Are you sure?"

Alucard raised an eyebrow. "Yes? This was your idea."

"Yeah. It was," Trevor said. He nodded. He looked up and met Alucard's eyes. "And I'll help you talk to Sypha about it. If it's what you want, we can work out the details. But-"

"But?" Alucard asked. He felt strange looming over Trevor, and a little helpless in the face of his pain.

"I dunno. You just seem to have a habit of coming around to the, uhh, the things that I want. And, I'm gonna be honest. That's a little fucking scary, bat boy," Trevor said. He stretched out his leg and pressed his foot deliberately onto the path. "I mean, shit. I want to push you out of some of these fears. But- I can't blame you. And I don't mean to push too hard."

He stretched out a hand and tried to pull himself up.

Alucard rolled his eyes. He hooked an arm under Trevor's shoulder and helped him up. Trevor got his feet under him and tested his weight. He winced, and then nodded. "Okay. It's tender, but I think I'm--"

Alucard wrapped him into a hug. "You are sweet. And ridiculous."

"Oh. I am? Cool."

He chuckled. "I am not accustomed to, to changing. But I have sunk into myself and my misery- my depravity. For too long."

"And you're saying I've helped with all of that?" Trevor asked, "Cause I feel like I've been fumbling around and fucking all of this up."

"You have found the most interesting, obscene, uncomfortable ways to work me out of my comfort zone," Alucard said. He squeezed Trevor as hard as he could, and took a deep breath of the smell of his jacket, and then let him go. "And every absurd thing you've proposed so far has worked. So I want to try."

"Well, shit. Hope I don't f-- what?"

He must have felt Alucard freeze in his hold.

It was nothing- just a snap of a twig in the distance. He doubted Trevor had even heard it. But it sent Alucard's hackles up. He let go of Trevor and squinted into the dark.

And then he realized what had alerted him. It wasn't the sound- although he heard even, muffled paw pads heading towards them now. No. He'd caught the smell of it; old blood and sulfur. Something was stalking them. It was following the enticing lure of Trevor's pain.

Alucard gulped. He stepped between Trevor and the dark edge of the forest, and spread his stance. He loosened his shoulders. He forgot that he was weak.

"Bat boy? What is it?"

Something snarled. It lunged out of the undergrowth, and Alucard had a brief impression of red eyes and brown, matted fur before it pounced on him.

He put a foot back, preparing to meet the strike. In that moment, he was Adrian Tepes, protecting his beloved.

Except the demon batted him away like he was just another bush.

"Oh shit," Trevor said.

Alucard rolled into the dust, cursing. Foolish. He'd forgotten. He'd felt so thoroughly like an older version of himself that--

"Fuck me," Trevor swore.

Perhaps Alucard could berate himself at a better time. He got his hands under him and staggered upright.

Trevor was still back up against the tree. He had the flashlight in one hand, raised like a club. He was fumbling with his bag with the other.

"Alright you ugly motherfucker," Trevor said, "Listen. Any other day, I'd love to do this properly. But-"

The demon chittered and ran at him.

Alucard wasn't strong enough to stop the damn thing. He ran forward and slammed himself into it instead. That worked, at least enough that both of them barreled up the path instead of hitting Trevor. An exposed root caught Alucard's foot. He snarled, toppling forward, and clutched one of the demons legs.

The demon shook him off and rounded on them. It let out a squeal that Alucard had a horrible suspicion was laughter.

"Get out of the way!"

Alucard backed into the bushes on all fours- which was much easier and faster when he was a wolf. He looked back just in time to see something silver, glinting in the reflected beam of the flashlight. It arched forward, from Trevor's throwing arm to collide with the demons muzzle.

And the small silver pendant and chain should have bounced harmlessly off of its nose. Instead, it chimed like a bell. White light shot out in every direction. Alucard flinched and hid his head. He heard a howl, which turned into a gurgle and then into silence.

"Holy fucking shit. That worked."

Alucard blinked. He was laying on his back in something with thorns. He looked up and saw the beam of Trevor's flashlight.

Alucard shifted, putting out a hand and sitting up. "Were you- what were you expecting?"

"Honestly? That just happened to be what I grabbed first," Trevor said. He ducked under a branch and got to Alucard. He froze.

Alucard stared back at him. "What?"

"Oh," Trevor said. He leaned over him. His lip twitched. "Oh bat boy." He extended his hand. He swept a hail of pine needles out of Alucard's hair and off of his shoulders.

"Trevor?"

"You were so brave," Trevor said. He brushed dust off the side of Alucard's face, gripped his chin and lifted his head slightly. He leaned in and kissed him. "Fuck. I was in trouble, and-- you just ran in there."

"Didn't help," Alucard said.

Trevor rolled his eyes. "But you did. You did. And you got all banged up."

"Did you?" Alucard asked. He scanned Trevor's face and allowed him to keep sweeping pine needles off of him. "Are you okay?"

"Not even bruised," Trevor said. He'd moved on to pulling thorny branches off of Alucard's shirt. "That was gonna be real fucking bad, if you hadn't been there."

"We wouldn't have gone out here. E-except for me."

Trevor shook his head. "Alright. Come here. Lets go home. Let me take care of you."

Alucard shivered. "Yes please."

Trevor helped him up, and Alucard helped him get the weight off of his ankle. They staggered back onto the path. The evening was still quiet, but it felt exhausted instead of sleepy.

"We're not telling Sypha about this, right?"

Trevor swept up the amulet that had been left in a pile of ashes on the path. He nodded. "Definitely keeping this quiet."

Chapter Text

(past)

"Alucard?"

He grimaced. He hadn't heard her open the door over the sound of water running. Cold drops ran off his fingers. He was bent over the bathroom sink. He fumbled with the tap, and the contact with the metal sent searing pain through his hands.

A whimper escaped from between his lips.

"Alucard?" Sypha repeated. Her footsteps started down the hallway.

He heard weariness in her voice this time. Alucard gave up on the tap. He twisted around, turning to face the door. He tucked his hands behind his back. "Sypha? I'm, ummm, here."

"Are you okay?" Sypha asked. She reached the door and peered in at him. This had to look strange. He was rarely in this room, and never with the lights off and the tap running.

"I'm fine," Alucard said, too quickly.

"Where's Trevor?"

"Hunting."

Sypha's brow furrowed. She must be tired. She still had her shoes on, and her bag slung over her slumped shoulders. But her gaze had sharpened. She searched his face. She knew something was up.

"He'll be home soon," Alucard said, "Would you- you should rest."

He took a step forward.

"Alucard? What are you hiding?"

"Nothing," Alucard said. He tried to step past her. Sypha blocked the door.

"Show me your hands."

He winced and stepped away from her again. "It's not- I'm fine."

"Alucard," Sypha said. She stretched out a hand. "Show me."

Alucard sighed. He uncrossed his arms, and placed his wrist in her hand.

"Oh," Sypha said. She didn't recoil, or drop his hand, but she did flinch. "Shit. What happened?"

"Garlic, miss."

Sypha whistled. She switched on the bathroom light. Alucard blnked, letting his vision adjust.

She raised his hand into the light. His fingers and palm were a mass of red, blistered skin. He could tell where he'd brushed the garlic peels, because there were abscesses on the tips of his fingers.

"Garlic did this?"

He nodded. "I was trying to clean the counter."

"That's one hell of an allergy," Sypha said. She looked up from his hand to his face. "Shouldn't Trevor have done that?"

Alucard raised his head, instantly weary. "He- he was going to. He just- a call came in. For a hunt."

"And he left you to take care of the counters?"

"I think he forgot. About the garlic."

Sypha nodded. "Alright. How can I help?"

Alucard looked down at his hands. Then he looked back up at her and offered a small smile. "Dr. Kresnev? What do you prescribe?"

"Don't touch garlic," Sypha said, "And, uhh, I should dress these."

"I mean, yes?" Alucard said. He raised an eyebrow at her hesitance.

Sypha finally returned his smile. Hers was bitter. "I'd drain the swelling. Clean everything and bandage it all up."

"That- that all sounds right."

"It is," Sypha said, "But, it would hurt."

"Of course it would."

"I would hurt you. Again. Trying to make things better."

Alucard couldn't help it. He bit his lip and offered his hands to her again. "Then go ahead and hurt me, Miss."

Sypha took a deep breath. Her smile turned wide and predatory. "Alright. Come with me. Lets do this in the livingroom. Go sit on the couch."

Sypha met him there, medkit in hand. She set out a dish rag for him to place his hands on.

"Oh. I forgot to ask. How was your date?"

"My date?" Alucard asked.

He didn't realize what she was doing until Sypha had punctured the first abscess. He flinched. "It was, uhh, nice."

"Good," Sypha said. She nodded. "You two deserve something nice. I know he's enjoyed it. Even if he came home with a limp."

Alucard gulped. He'd been watching her hands as she applied gauze to the now oozing sore. Now he looked up again. "I can explain."

Sypha held up a flat hand. "Don't. I'm sure I don't want to know."

Before Alucard could answer, she punctured the next sore. He gasped, and Sypha paused.

"Sorry. I can go slower. I thought you had a higher pain tolerance."

"I do," Alucard said, "Keep going. It's just garlic, that makes it worse."

"It seems like it inflames everything for you. Which- I mean, that has to be an immune response. Which doesn't make any sense. I mean, you said you've never gotten sick before."

Alucard shrugged with his free arm.

Sypha shook her head. "God. I can't imagine what it would be like to actually study how your body works."

And by that point, Trevor had introduced Alucard to enough science fiction horror for him to be immediately wary. He shivered. "Is that what your friends would- would want to do? To me?"

Sypha tilted her head. "Has Trevor been pressuring you about that again?"

"No," Alucard said. He was not about to get Trevor into even more trouble. "I mentioned it. I was- it's been on my mind."

"To get more blood?" Sypha asked, very quietly.

"No. Well, maybe. Ow-" Alucard said. She started draining the last sore on his right hand. Alucard drew in a breath and tried again. "If I want- if I want to live in the world again. I need to know people. More people. I need to get comfortable. Not just around you two."

"If you want to rejoin society, it makes sense," Sypha said. She leaned back. "It's just- I don't know how I could possibly get any of them to believe me unless they met you in person."

"I'm okay with that."

"No makeup? No hiding?" Sypha asked.

Alucard nodded.

She gulped. "We'd, uhh, have to explain how we met you."

"Isn't one of your friends a, uhh, you know. Weird like you are?"

"Well, yes. But there's a difference between being a fetishist and, like, kidnapping and imprisonment," Sypha said dryly.

"Trevor said. To introduce me as- as your second sub."

Sypha whistled. "Trevor's letting his fantasies run away with him. That would be terrifying for you, right? Being vulnerable like that? With everyone knowing?"

Alucard considered his hands. Sypha had moved on to his second hand, covering the worst of what was on his palms and fingers with gauze. "I- I don't think so."

"No?"

"At the theater yesterday. Trying to hide. Feeling like anyone could be watching me. Anyone could know. That was terrifying," Alucard said, "I'd prefer honesty."

Sypha chewed on her lip, considering. "It's been a long time since we've had anyone over."

"I know."

"Okay," Sypha said. She pulled a roll of medical tap out of her medical kit. She started to wrap the gauze in place on Alucard's hands. "I'm not sure what they'll say. I mean, Amber will be curious, I bet."

"As long as she doesn't try to dissect me."

"Oh, don't worry," Sypha said, "That would be Raquel."

Alucard narrowed his eyes. He was fairly sure she was joking.

"Well, there you go," Sypha said. She cut the tape from the roll and pressed it into place. "I mean, the nurses at Avarona could have done a neater job, I'm sure, but- does it feel okay?"

"Better," Alucard said.

"Let me know if it starts itching," Sypha said, "We can replace them, or try something else."

"Right. Ummm- how long will I have to wear these?"

Sypha considered the bandages. She opened her mouth, and then closed it again. "I have no idea, actually. It's about blood for you, right? Not time? Not really?"

Alucard wrinkled his nose. "It will take both. For these to heal, I think."

"Here, then," Sypha said. She set her medkit aside and stepped over to the kitchen. "We should use this." She came back with a ziploc bag, radiating cold and full of crystalized ice. She started to hand it over, and then remembered Alucard's hands.

"Here," she said again. She pulled a tampon out of the bag and held it out for him.

Alucard leaned over and took the cotton between his teeth. He squeezed it and nearly gagged.

"That bad?" Sypha asked, "Would you rather wait a week?"

He shook his head, drained the tampon, and spat it back into the bag Sypha held open. "Thank you."

"Glad I could help," Sypha said. She sealed the bag and leaned back onto the sofa with a sigh.

Alucard considered her. "You didn't even get to take off your shoes."

"Nope. And don't you dare try to take them off for me," Sypha said. She pulled off her shoes herself and kicked them towards the hallway.

"No foot rubs?" Alucard asked, a little wistfully.

Sypha snorted. "Not unless you've healed very quickly. And you're definitely off on chores."

"What can I do, then, Miss?"

She stretched out her hand and curled in a finger for him. "Come here."

Alucard shuffled forward, a little awkward as he was carefully holding up his hands. Sypha put her hands on his shoulders and guided him so that he could rest his head on her chest. She was still very nice to lean against.

"Sorry you got hurt," she said. She ran her fingers gently through his hair.

Alucard purred and curled in around her. "Wasn't your fault."

"I know. Speaking of which," Sypha said. Instead of finishing her thought, she fished out her phone and started to type.

"Sypha?"

"I'm texting Trevor. It's ridiculous that you don't have a pair of gloves to use in the kitchen," Sypha said. She smirked. "Also, I'm letting him know he's in trouble."

"It wasn't his fault," Alucard said. He started to sit up.

"He's gotten complacent about his responsibilities, having you around," Sypha said. She grabbed his head and pressed him back into her chest. "Besides. It's been a while since he's been punished. And I have some delicious ideas I think he'll like."

"He'll like-- being punished?"

"Is that hard to understand?"

Alucard nodded.

Sypha grinned. "Alright then. What if I told you exactly what kind of punishment I had in mind? And you can decide how you'd like to be involved."

He shivered- this time from the excitement around the idea. "Okay."

 

"As a doctor, I would never recommend this," Sypha said.

Trevor knelt in front of her. They were still in the livingroom. He had only come in a few minutes ago, and immediately dropped off a bag in the kitchen. Then he'd pulled off his shirt and gotten into position. Alucard wondered if he'd figured out yet that she wasn't going to hurt him. They had a history together that he still couldn't fully picture. Maybe he already knew what she had in mind?

Alucard grinned and curled himself a little further into Sypha's lap. He was happy to watch, for now.

Trevor gulped and raised his head. "Miss?"

"But as your Mistress, well, I think you need to be taken down a peg," Sypha said. She spoke the last word with an edge, and Trevor shivered.

"Are you going to peg me?"

"No," Sypha said. It was one of the ideas she'd presented to Alucard. But they'd decided on something else today. "Alucard, dear? Show him your hands."

Alucard raised his head. He sat up and presented Trevor his bandaged fingers.

"Oh," Trevor said. His mouth fell open and his eyes went blank. His whole demeanor changed; his back slumped, those hints at amusement and excitement draining from his face. "Oh fuck, did I really-?"

"Wait. Trevor, no, that's not-" Alucard started. He looked over at Sypha, asking for help.

Sypha stood up. She grabbed a fistful of Trevor's hair and dragged his head back up. "You've gotten spoiled, pet. Having someone else do all the work for you. But we're going to fix this now."

Trevor looked up at her, still dull eyed. "How can I possibly-?"

"We've already taken care of it. His fingers will heal. Neither of us are mad at you," Sypha said. She leaned in and put her lips to his ear. "This just seems like a good time to remind you where you belong."

She had a white knuckled grip on his hair, keeping his head in place. Sypha stood over him, radiating power. But his eyes still flicked over. He met Alucard's gaze.

Alucard gave him a nod. "You're okay, Trevor. This should be fun."

Trevor took a deep breath. When he spoke again, the excitement was back in his voice. "Where I belong, Miss?"

"Here," Sypha said. She grinned. "Kiss his palms. Gently." She let go of his hair.

Trevor moaned. He bent forward and brushed the softest part of his lips to the uncovered part of his hands. It was absurd, how soft he could be. He reached up, cradling his forearms so he could kiss up his wrists. "I'm sorry."

"I know," Alucard said. He grinned. "Now are you ready?"

Trevor paused. He pressed a final, soft kiss to Alucard's forearm. Then he sat up and looked between them. "Wait. Are you both in on this?"

Sypha looked over at Alucard and giggled. "He figured it out."

"It's mean to tease him, Miss," Alucard said.

"Fine," Sypha said. She stood over Trevor and ruffled his hair. "Let's try this again. Are you ready?"

"Yes."

"Then get Alucard to the bedroom. I'll meet you there," Sypha said. She gave his head a last pat and started down the hallway.

Trevor followed her with his eyes, still kneeling. He gave himself a little shake. "Well, shit."

"You're okay, right?"

"I'm fine," Trevor said. He shook his head. "Are you? Are your hands okay?"

"They're already healing," Alucard said, "What about your ankle?"

"Just a little sore," Trevor said. He stood up and stretched. Then he helped Alucard up. They headed up the hallway.

"So you know exactly what she's planning, huh?"

Alucard grinned. "What we're planning."

"And you won't even give me a hint?"

"You'll find out soon enough."

"Bastard," Trevor said. But it was true. He would find out soon enough- exactly what they had planned. He still offered Alucard his arms, and carried him through into the bedroom.

Alucard came around in a very exposed position, sprawled on the bed with his jeans around his knees. And that would have been unnerving if they hadn't planned this out.

Someone tapped Alucard's shoulder. He raised his head.

"Ready?" Sypha asked.

He nodded.

"Good," Sypha said. She grinned, and idly lifted one end of a chain into view. She gave it a tug.

Alucard could turn his head just enough to watch. He'd never seen Trevor in a collar before- let alone a collar and leash and nothing else. It was a very nice picture. He whimpered and crawled to the edge of the bed, following Sypha's pulls.

"You're going to kiss him, puppy," Sypha said. She gripped the thick leather of his collar directly and dragged his head down- out of Alucard's view. "Right between his legs."

Trevor groaned. Alucard heard the chain rattle, and pictured him struggling. "M-mistress?"

"Don't tell me you haven't fantasized about it," Sypha said.

Trevor gulped. "Maybe."

Alucard shivered. He felt Trevor's heavy breaths on the sensitive flesh of his inner thighs. It was a strange place to have that sensation.

"Well then. You wouldn't want to disappoint him, would you?"

"Never," Trevor panted. He leaned forward and buried his head between Alucard's cheeks.

"Oh," Alucard moaned. Trevors lips had found some very responsive skin, and each kiss sent a shiver up his body. He sank back into the bed, letting himself be the helpless object of Trevor's worship.

When Sypha spoke, he pictured her with her hand in Trevor's hair, holding him in place. Her voice dripped with relish. "Use your tongue."

Alucard had felt his tongue before. By this point, Trevor had probably kissed or licked every other bit of him. Except this. And there was something sinful about feeling his soft, hesitant licks.

"Did you really think I'd unlock you every time you service him?"

"No, Miss, I just-" Trevor started.

This time, Alucard felt Sypha force his head back down.

"No talk pet. Just service. Maybe you'll be able to taste yourself inside him."

One of Trevor's hands wrapped around Alucard's leg. He sank into him, till Alucard felt the slight coarseness of stubble around his jaw and the warmth of his breath and his tongue, soft and wet and meek as he rimmed him properly.

"Good boy," Sypha said. She stood. She must have withdrawn her hands because Trevor rose with a gasp.

"Do- Do I get more?" Trevor asked. His words were slurred and his vision was fuzzy. He grinned. He'd served well and he knew it.

Sypha giggled. "You'll get as much as you can handle, pet. Alucard? You can roll over now."

"Yes miss," Alucard said. He turned around and propped up one leg, offering Trevor his cock.

Trevor licked his lips.

"Here," Sypha said. She wrapped the leash around the uninjured part of Alucard's palm, giving him control.

Alucard grinned. He pulled him in the right direction.

Trevor served well. Even when Sypha came in, tugged off the last of his clothes, and loosened the plastic device between his legs.

She made sure Alucard came before she ordered Trevor to lay on the bed.

"How many times can you come, anyway?"

Alucard tilted his head at her and shrugged. "How would I know?"

Sypha paused with one leg still in her pants. She blinked. "Huh. I suppose if you don't masturbate, and you've only been with men-"

"Not only," Alucard corrected, "Belnades and I had- forrays."

"But you've never had a lover with the stamina to outpace you? Is that it?"

Trevor whined from the bed.

Sypha looked over and grinned. "Impatient, pet?"

"I- I could get between his legs again, Miss."

She laughed. "I'm sure you could. But that would put you in the wrong position for my purposes. So just stay there and be cute, okay?"

"Yes Miss."

She looked back to Alucard. "That's dangerous information for me to have. It would be fun, to test your limits sometime. Break you, even."

Alucard gulped. "It wouldn't be easy."

"That's what makes it interesting," Sypha said. She gave him a wicked smile. "Want to sit on his face while I fuck him? There might be a few spots on your ass that he hasn't worshiped yet."

Alucard returned the smile, and got back onto the bed.

 

And maybe all of this could have gone on for years. Dirty games and acts of service and housework and dates and kinds of safety and comfort and restraint that Alucard hadn't known in decades, but found himself falling in love with. He would meet Sypha's friends, and get more blood, and slowly become more accustomed to this very strange life.

But really, it was only just a year that it lasted. Before things changed. Before past and future came hurtling together and Alucard got to remember the dangerous ways in which he did not belong.

That story is fast approaching- circling like the deadly predator it is.

But there's one last thing to do first.

One. Last. Thing.

Chapter Text

(past)

 

"God this took forever," Sypha said.

Alucard's hands had long since healed. Even the shiny red of newly formed skin had eventually faded to his characteristic grey. He held the device in his hands, fiddling with the straps and feeling the plastic. He had to admit, it was sturdy.

"I mean, it's not really a sex toy, right?" Trevor asked.

They were in the livingroom. Alucard and Trevor had been folding laundry when Sypha had heard the door bell ring.

Just two months ago, Alucard would have flinched and hid in response to the door opening. But he had finally overcome some of that fear. Even if he was seen, it would be okay. After all, they had a party planned with a few of Sypha's friends in just a couple weeks.

He hadn't even thought much of it until Sypha came back with a small cardboard parcel, and handed it to him.

Now, Trevor was barely pretending to sort socks, and Sypha watched him inspect the contents of package.

"No, it's really not," Sypha agreed, "It's dental grade plastic, and I had it custom sized. It should fit perfectly."

"It's terrifying," Alucard said. He held up the spider gag and spread out the straps. Then he looked to Sypha for permission. "Should I try it on?"

Sypha nodded.

He'd gotten better with gags. He pressed this one to his lips easily, and secured the strap in the back without tangling it in his hair.

"Huh," Sypha said. She leaned over and peered into his mouth. "You know, if anything, I think we could have made the opening larger."

"Please Miss. I still wouldn't fit."

Sypha snorted. "Don't flatter yourself, pet. Alucard, how does it feel?"

Alucard shrugged and gave her a thumb wavering in the middle.

"I mean, it can't exactly be comfortable," Trevor said.

"Is anything digging into your mouth?" Sypha asked.

Alucard shook his head.

"Okay. Go ahead and take it out, for now."

He reached his hands back and loosened the straps. But he couldn't just spit the gag out. It wrapped around his teeth, and he had to use a hand to work it free. That was a good sign. It gave him some confidence.

"Well?" Sypha asked.

"It's good," Alucard said, "It's just-"

He practically heard both Trevor and Sypha's heart rates jump. He shook his head and looked at Sypha. "We'll, uhh, still test it properly, right?"

Sypha's expression went from relief to glee. "Of course we will."

Trevor cleared his throat. "Actually guys. About that."

Alucard turned his head. Trevor had put a hand on his shoulder. He was looking at Sypha. "Look. I know you two enjoy your insanely hard core kinky sex adventures but-- maybe don't beat the crap out of him this time?"

"I can take it."

"I know," Trevor said. He squeezed his shoulder. "It's just, you two are, like, getting along and shit now."

"Alright," Sypha said, "But, we've played plenty of kinky games since then. And, it's been okay. I mean, it has been okay, right?"

This was addressed to Alucard. He nodded.

"But this is different," Trevor said, "This isn't a game. It's not a toy. It's an actual fucking piece of hardware and an actual, you know, rule-law-thing."

Alucard raised an eyebrow. "Rule-law-thing?"

"You know. Not like a for fun, if you break it I'll spank you kinda rule. I dunno," Trevor said. He was turning pink. "It just feels weird to mix really intense painful stuff with rules and safety and trust. It doesn't seem fair to you."

Alucard didn't try to answer. He set the gag on the coffee table and wrapped Trevor into a hug.

Trevor returned the embrace. "I know it's all kinky fun and games. But it's hard seeing you get hurt for real-- especially after how we all started this."

"You are too good to me," Alucard said. He pressed his forehead to Trevor's collar. "Entirely too good."

"Yeah? What if I'm just jealous you can take so much more punishment than I can?"

Alucard snorted.

"Trevor?"

They both raised their heads.

Sypha was still sitting on the sofa. Her lip twitched. "Look. Do you want to hear my answer, or are you two going to cuddle on the floor instead?"

"How about both, Miss?"

Alucard nodded in agreement.

Sypha chuckled. "Fine. As long as the laundry gets folded. But, I actually had a different kind of game in mind this time."

"Different how?"

She stood up and picked up the gag. "This thing isn't going to be cheaply made like a sex toy is. I'm not actually that worried that you'll be able to break it. Quite the opposite, actually."

She stepped over to them- Alucard most of the way onto Trevor's lap on the floor. She kissed Alucard's forehead. "I want to test how many orgasms you can have. And this seems like a very good excuse to do that."

A gasp caught in Alucard's throat. "Now, Miss?"

"Oh dear god no," Sypha said. She stepped back. "I have work tomorrow, and I'd need to set up a few things first. But, the next time I have a full day off. Yes. I think I do. Especially now that we have this new toy to play with."

Trevor whistled. "Do I get to help?"

"Maybe," Sypha said. She settled back into her spot on the sofa and picked up the laptop.

"Maybe?"

She tilted just enough that they could see her grin on one side of the screen. "Maybe if you're good, pet."

 

Which was all well and good, but Sypha's next day off was right before her cycle started, and he was ravenous. He'd kept to himself for a few days, mostly staying in his room reading or in the study, tucked in a corner and writing.

When Sypha stepped into the study, she didn't seem to notice him. She carried a sturdy, wooden chair in and pushed it to the center of the room.

"Sypha?"

"Oh," Sypha said. She looked over. "Is this where you've been hiding?"

"Not hiding," Alucard said, "Writing."

"Can I see?"

Alucard handed the journal over.

Sypha peered at it. She traced a few words on the page and then nodded. "So you're really doing it, then? Writing your very own spell book?"

"Not a spell book," Alucard said. He took the notebook back when Sypha offered it. "Just-- everything that I know. About magic. It should be written down."

Sypha grinned. "Your spelling has gotten better."

Alucard stuck out his tongue at her. He wasn't certain about spelling, and writing still took him entirely too long, but his handwriting had neatened considerably. The sentences on the page that he hadn't crossed out looked nice and he'd developed a long, narrow font with a few flourishes he liked. And writing was a good distraction. It bored the imp in his chest back into a fitful sleep.

He finished a sentence, and looked up when Sypha kept fiddling with the chair. He raised an eyebrow. "What are you doing?"

Sypha paused. She'd shifted the chair, and then leaned against it. "Getting this all ready for you."

"For me?"

"Do you remember what we said? I'm not waiting for another day off."

Alucard closed the notebook and looked up. "Even with my thirst?"

"Don't worry. You'll barely be able to move. I'm gonna go get some restraints."

"Oh. Good."

Sypha shook her head. "You're starting to sound like Trevor. I'll be right back."

She left Alucard to put the notebook away and contemplate his fate.

He wished Trevor was here. But Trevor had gone out to grab groceries. And if Alucard was honest with himself, there was also something exciting about his absence. He moderated and negotiated between them. But he also held back some of Sypha's most sadistic, controlling tendencies.

If they were going to do this, Alucard wanted the full intensity of Sypha's domination.

Sypha returned and tossed the lube to Alucard. She winked. "Better get ready pet."

To which he raised one eyebrow. He knew what that command meant. But what was the point of lubbing himself up if he was going to be chained to a chair?

He started the process anyway, stripping the way Sypha had taught him to. He tugged off his pants slowly, twisting his hips. This earned him a whistle from Sypha, who was attaching ankle cuffs to the front legs of the chair.

He grinned at her.

"Better take off your shirt too," Sypha said, "This'll get messy."

"Of course, Miss," Alucard said. He rolled his eyes.

She didn't wait to see if he'd obey. But she returned a moment later with her laptop tucked under her arm, and an obscene, hot pink object in her hands. She placed both on the desk.

Alucard couldn't help it. The shape of the pink object was unmistakable. He stepped to the desk and looked down at it. "Sypha? What, uhh, is this?"

"Has Trevor not told you?"

Alucard shook his head. "I mean, it's a phallus?"

Sypha giggled. "You're not wrong. It's a dildo."

"Oh. Shouldn't it be-- longer?"

"Careful, pet. I have others," Sypha said, "But I thought since this is going inside you, it would be kinder to start small."

Alucard shivered. She came up behind him, and he was suddenly very aware of her arms as she set them on the desk on either side of him. He could almost feel the blood pumping in her. He could almost feel his own, weak and cold body responding.

"Go ahead," she said. She couldn't reach his ear. She ran her nails down his back instead. "Stroke it."

Alucard stretched out a finger and brushed it across the neon pink shaft. It was smooth.

"Hold it in your hand."

Alucard picked it up. It was difficult for him to understand the purpose of such a thing. He could barely handle the two cocks that were already in his life. Why add a third that couldn't receive pleasure?

He dropped it when it started to buzz.

Sypha giggled. "Sorry. Sorry. Couldn't resist."

The buzzing shut off. The thing sat on the desk, its wide base swaying back and forth. Alucard picked it up gingerly. "Are- are you controlling that?"

Sypha put her hand in front of him, showing him a small remote.

Alucard shivered.

"Trevor and I have our limits. We get tired. He can only come once," Sypha said, "But this toy will last for as long as you can stand it. Possibly longer."

Alucard let out a deep breath. "So I don't- I mean, it won't be you." He leaned onto the desk, suddenly very relieved.

"No," Sypha said, almost gently, "Although I'll have my hands on the remote. And I intend to enjoy the show."

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean that-" Alucard started.

"It's okay. I know it's tricky," Sypha said. She reached forward and ran a hand through his hair. "And it would be-- easier. If I could tell myself that it wasn't just me. But it is, isn't it?"

"It- it isn't just you."

Sypha sighed. She leaned over Alucard on the desk, putting her hands on his wrists and pressing her body to his. From this angle, she could reach his ear. "God. I want to have you. Peg you. Control you. But-- I haven't earned that."

"Just strap me down, then?"

"With pleasure. But lets get you lubbed up first."

"Yes Miss," Alucard said. He grinned and bent over, wiggling his ass at her.

Sypha shook her head. She circled around him and squeezed his ass. Then she slicked her fingers.

Alucard bit his lip and sank onto her fingers as she inserted them. He knew what he was doing now- and what he wanted. Sypha made him work for it, though. She teased him with one finger, and then two. She penetrated him in long, slow, infuriating strokes.

He shut his eyes and whined. His body was responding to her. His cock throbbed between his legs. She barely brushed his most responsive parts, and he needed more.

"Poor pet," Sypha said, "I'm not fucking you. I'm just getting you ready."

"Ready for what, Miss?"

Her fingers pulled away. Sypha moved over and leaned onto the desk, looking down at him. She grinned. "Let me explain how this is going to work." She tapped her clean hand on the laptop laying on the other side of the desk. "Our data system updated again."

Alucard raised an eyebrow.

Sypha sighed. "Do you know how it took you two months to figure out how the vacuum cleaner worked?"

He rolled his eyes. It had been six weeks at most.

"I'm supposed to know how to enter patient information tomorrow morning. The last training took me five hours. So I am going to sit at this desk, and every time I read something that makes me want to slam my head into a wall, well-"

She gestured at the dildo. "This thing has eight different settings."

"Like the laundry machine?"

She chuckled. "Sure. Exactly like that." She grabbed the toy and stepped away from him. She placed it on the chair.

"Oh?" Alucard asked. He followed her.

Sypha grinned. She brushed her clean hand across his forehead. She swept a lock of hair out of his way. She traced softly down the side of his face- his temples and the edge of his jaw. Her hand paused at his throat. He felt his pulse thrumming against her hand.

Sypha tapped her fingers to his collar and stood back. "Alright pet. Sit." She pointed to the chair, and the erect toy on it.

"On a chair, Miss? Are you sure?" Alucard asked. He grinned up at her.

"Trevor's a bad influence on you," Sypha said, "You could at least pretend to be afraid of having a toy rammed up your ass."

To which Alucard shrugged. He'd had the real thing inside him. What could this possibly do that Trevor- in all of his intensity and enthusiasm, all of his crudeness and passion- couldn't?

He allowed Sypha to help lower him onto the toy. He panted as it filled him, sending shivers up his body. When his ass reached the chair, he closed his eyes, trying to adjust to the feeling of something solid and unrelenting in him as the weight of his body sank it those last little bits.

He barely noticed Sypha securing his legs to the chair.

"How are you feeling, pet?"

Alucard leaned back. He tried to move his legs. They rattled, barely moving. He couldn't bring his knees together. "E-exposed."

"Good. Let's make that worse," Sypha said. She grabbed his wrists and pulled them back. She fastened them behind the chair.

Alucard squirmed and stuck out his tongue at her. "Mean."

Her nails bit into his chin. "Well, yes. And here. This'll keep you from making a mess."

She stepped over to the desk and out of Alucard's view. He tilted his head, trying to watch. He whined. There had been a lot of teasing so far- even the sensation of being filled by something cold and immobile was a form of torture. His cock twitched between his legs, straining like his arms, and finding nothing to satisfy with.

He knew the ways he'd enjoy this now. And Sypha was denying him.

And then a buzzing started, dulled as though it was reverberating through wood. His whine became a moan and he arched his back, suddenly panting. The toy pulsed inside him. It sent nerves firing. A muscle just below his stomach cinched.

Sypha giggled. The buzzing stopped, and Alucard slumped forward, gasping. He wiggled on the seat, trying to get the toy to come alive again, trying to do something about the desperate throbbing inside him. His cock dripped.

"M-Miss."

"I think this will be fun," Sypha said. She returned and stood over him. She put a small square of shiny plastic in front of his eyes.

"Do you know what this is?"

"Miss, please-" Alucard panted.

"Do you?" Sypha asked.

He sighed, forcing himself to think. There had been a note of warning in Sypha's voice this time. He considered the package, which had a circular imprint inside it, and would have fit comfortably into his palm. He shook his head.

"This is a condom," Sypha said. She tore the plastic opened and revealed a latex circle. "It's for- well, usually its for safe sex. But today, it should help keep clean up nice and easy."

She leaned in and put the condom on his head.

Alucard groaned and made himself sag backwards. Did she have any idea how dangerous this position was for her? It placed her neck in easy range, even if he had his hands tied. He ground his teeth together and closed his eyes and tried to breath deeply when the smell of her pulse flowed red into his mind.

He jerked upright again when Sypha made a funny, choked noise. He stared. "Sypha?"

"No, it's just-" Sypha started. She put her free hand over her mouth, suppressing a snort. "Dear god. We've done so much. And no one bothered to tell you what a condom was."

Alucard raised an eyebrow. He'd though Trevor's sense of humor was a nuisance.

Sypha shook her head. "Someday. When we have time. You are going to get a proper sex ed course. It would be good for you."

She rolled the condom down over him and stood back. "Alright. Two more things, and then we'll start having some fun."

The next thing, Alucard expected. Sypha got behind him. She put the ring of the new gag to his lips and he sank his teeth into it. He braced for her to jerk his head back. But she was gentle with him this time. She brought his head slowly into place, and secured the strap.

"And, here. You can thank Trevor for this one," Sypha said. She tied something to his wrist- maybe a thin string? She put something in one of his hands.

Alucard managed a questioning noise through the gag. He fidgetted his hand and whatever Sypha had given him rattled.

"It's a bell," Sypha said. She spoke into his ear. "If you need your safeword, you can just let go of it. I'll hear it ring. Does that make sense?"

He nodded and curled his fist around the bell. He arched his back and looked up at her and let out a long, low whimper. Sure, it was a reassurance. All of these safeguard mattered immensely. But right now Alucard was trussed and teased and all he wanted was to get on with the fun part.

"Now, let me think," Sypha said. She tapped her fingers on the edge of the chair. She chewed on her lip, barely concealing a smirk. "Is there anything else? Anything you need? Anything you want?"

Alucard nodded and squirmed and pleaded with his eyes. But he couldn't speak through the gag.

"Yes?" Sypha asked. She ran a finger across his stretched lips.

Alucard managed a whine.

"Well, that's very cute," Sypha said. She pressed a finger through the gag and brushed across his tongue. "But I really don't know what you could possibly mean."

Alucard licked at her fingers desperately. He bobbed back and forth, letting her fingertips touch the back of his throat.

"Oh? Is that what you want?" Sypha asked, "Do you want to be fucked?"

Alucard started to nod. The toy between his legs came to life with a buzz and he moaned on Sypha's fingers.

In theory, Alucard understood how this was supposed to work. Achieving multiple orgasms was possible, but each would be more difficult to reach than the last.

 

The first orgasm came quickly. Sypha had broken out in a string of tirades within minutes of sitting down.

"Manual entry? For all of that? Are you serious? Fuck you."

And before Alucard could twist his head to confirm that she was, in fact, swearing at the inanimate computer, the toy inside him changed tempos with a mechanical click. It was no longer starting for brief, overwhelming intervals and then stoping. Now it vibrated steadily inside him, activating nerves and sending him shaking.

Sypha might as well have been in another room. Alucard closed his eyes and arched his back, feeling his cock throb and heat up between his immobilized legs.

And maybe he could have adjusted to this rhythm, and found his own pace, and came from the controlled stimulation and the sensation of riding the toy with the tiny amount he could wiggle on the seat.

But Sypha wasn't finished. She berated the computer three more times, changing the setting with each. Alucard went from panting to moaning, from moaning to whimpering and shaking in the restraints. He felt his legs shaking uncontrollably and knew he was dangerously close. Straining the cuffs, he leaned back as far as he could, trying to control the relentless vibrating inside him that was so determined to undo him. The chair started to overbalance.

"Careful, pet."

Something warm pressed between Alucard's shoulders. He felt Sypha's toes dig into his skin as she steadied the chair. "Wouldn't want you falling over and cracking that pretty head."

He leaned back and stared at her, panting. Sypha looked strange upside down and blurred at the edges in his overwhelmed vision. Her eyes were still on the screen.

He whined through the gag at her. He was close. It felt wrong to have her so near and so detached from what she was putting him through.

Sypha glanced up. "Yes?"

He whimpered at her.

"I told you. I have work to do."

Alucard whined again, trying to plead with his eyes. He wasn't sure what he was asking for, but he didn't want to do this alone and he was so close he could hear the chair legs rattling under him.

Sypha raised an eyebrow. "Are you really flexible enough to keep your back bent like that?"

Alucard nodded.

"Fine. But I'm only doing this because you're being so cute," Sypha said. She lifted her foot off of his back and pressed her heel to the open gag.

That did it. Alucard groaned and licked, feeling himself break in long waves and shudders.

Sypha giggled. She left her foot propped on the gag and returned to her work.

After the first, reaching the second orgasm took an age. Sypha withdrew her foot when his trembling had stopped. She let out a few sighs, and one irritated snort, but apparently nothing from her work infuriated her enough to change the setting the toy was on. She left him to twitch and squirm and pant and slowly be worked over by the toy as his cum leaked from the condom and started to dry.

The thing that finally threatened to break him was hearing the distant click of a door opening. He heard Trevor's steps through the hallway and imagined him seeing him like this; breaking, exposed and trembling. He pictured how Sypha might let him get involved.

He started to pant again as the study door creaked open.

"Oh? Did you start the fun without me, Miss?"

"Fun?" Sypha said, "I'll have you know I've been at this tutorial for 45 minutes and it's been misery."

"I see. And you decided bat boy could share the suffering?"

Alucard groaned into the gag.

"Yes," Sypha said. Alucard heard her shift in her seat. "I'm generous, like that."

Trevor stepped into the room. "How kind of you."

"Careful, pet. I have other toys and other chairs. You could join him."

"Can I, Miss?"

"Trevor," Sypha said. She groaned. "This was a mistake. I really need to finish this. I don't have time to-"

"Well then, would you let me finish him off instead?"

Alucard gasped through the gag. He twisted his head back, panting. He tried to entreat Sypha with his eyes again. But she was looking at Trevor.

"Do you want to?" she asked.

Trevor gaped at her. "Of course I do."

Alucard shut his eyes. A telltale trembling had started in his stomach. After so much build up, the idea of Sypha placing that infuriating remote in Trevor's hands was- well, it was a molten feeling of liquid seeping down from his abdomen, down in long, slow thrusts onto the toy as his gasps caught in the gag.

"Ah. Might want to see if he can handle anymore. First."

"Yes, Miss."

This time, it was a hand that pressed itself to Alucard's back. He felt Trevor's breath as he leaned in over him.

"Hey. You alright?"

Alucard blinked up at him. He nodded.

"Do you think you can keep going?"

He shivered. That was a terrifying prospect when every muscle in his body was alive and firing and straining the restraints. But, if Trevor got to do it-

Alucard nodded.

Trevor's face broke into a grin. He pushed a lock of hair that had fallen forward back behind his ear. He wiped sweat and spit from his face. Then he circled around him.

"How many has he had so far?"

"Was that two, pet?" Sypha asked.

Alucard nodded.

"Well, if I remember correctly," Trevor started, "This setting was a lot of fun."

Whining through the gag, he braced himself for a stronger, more insistent trembling to start. And then he moaned anyway, and went limp on the chair. The toy had started to thrust.

"I'll be right back. Miss, you got an eye on him?"

From the other side of overwhelming burst that broke like white spots in his vision, he heard Sypha's small, assenting noise. She was typing now. The tapping of keys seemed to keep pace with the vibrating and the small thrusts.

He was alone with the sounds and the sensations for what could have been forever. But when Trevor came back, he made him the beloved center of his attention.

"Hey there," he said. The chair creaked as he straddled Alucard's legs. "Still having fun?"

Alucard nodded.

"Cool," Trevor said. He leaned in- closer, closer, till Alucard heard his pulse over the shaking that seemed to be filling his ears as well as his body. His lips teased the delicate skin just over Alucard's collarbone.

The chains on Alucard's hands rattled. He was so close, and he needed to have him, but he couldn't reach.

"Fuck. You're almost warm," Trevor said. He pressed his teeth to the soft indent between his neck and shoulderblade. He buried himself in as though he knew exactly where to go.

Alucard gasped. He felt the muscles in Trevor's jaw snap and twitch before he bit deep and hard into his neck.

Trevor took a hand, and held Alucard up and back by the throat, keeping the lowest part of his neck accessible. He bit interlocking patterns of dull teeth marks into the side of his throat. Alucard trembled against his teeth. He practically sobbed when Trevor leaned back slightly, and traced the marks with his tongue.

"Yeah?" Trevor asked. His body shifted on top of him, rising. He pressed his chest close and tickled his ear with his breathing. "You like the little inversions?"

The hiss he made through the gag was as close as he could manage to saying yes.

"Bet you like the helplessness of it, don't you? When it's a game?" Trevor asked. His hands worked down- not a light, teasing touch, but firm, determined contact with Alucards skin. He shifted his weight again, putting his pelvis to Alucard's cock and Alucard started to shake. He'd forced the toy deeper.

Alucard gave up. He leaned forward, putting his open, panting mouth on Trevor's shoulder. He licked.

He was helpless. He couldn't bite, or move, or speak. It was a strangely sweet thing. And Alucard was starting to realize why. He was free, in these binds and this cruel gag. Anything he could manage was harmless. He could let down all of his guards and he still wouldn't hurt him.

"There you go," Trevor said as the movement of Alucard's tongue got more insistent. He moved his hand back up and placed it on the nape of Alucard's neck. Trevor held his mouth close and let out a sigh.

His other hand finally got past appreciating Alucard's stomach and reached his cock.

Alucard's third orgasm was quiet and trembling as Trevor stroked him through the condom and let him suckle his neck. He gasped, tracing the pulse of blood pumping across the beautiful lattice work of Trevor's body. Trevor held him in place, letting him melt. Letting him shake and collapse.

"You having fun over there?"

Trevor chuckled. "Yeah. I think so."

"That was fast."

"It's always easier when you get a little attention," Trevor said. He ruffled Alucard's hair.

He started to sit up. Alucard moaned. He made a strained noise through the gag and leaned forward, pressing his head to Trevor's chest, hoping to make him stay.

"Hey. I'll be back in a minute."

Alucard nodded and leaned back. The toy abruptly shut off, and suddenly he could breath again. He closed his eyes and felt himself coming down. He became aware of how his jaw was aching in the gag, and a lingering tingle in his feet and toes.

"Here," Trevor said. Alucard had lost track of him, but he must have circled around, because he was speaking from behind him. He traced the edge of the gag strap. "Can we take this off?"

"I have no objection," Sypha called. Distantly, Alucard heard her stand up. "Just be nice to him. I need to print this."

The gag loosened. Alucard shivered. Trevor's hands moved forward, to either side of his face. It would be terribly dangerous, except all of Alucard's excitement and awareness was between his strapped and immobilized legs.

"Relax," Trevor breathed, "You're not going to hurt me."

He pulled the gag out and draped his head on Alucard's shoulder.

"How are you feeling?"

"A- a lot?"

"Fair enough," Trevor said. He dropped his voice and continued. "Having fun?"

"Yes."

"Can you handle one more? I had something in mind."

Alucard twisted his head just enough to meet Trevor's eyes. He raised an eyebrow.

Trevor stood up. He picked up something off the table.

"Well, I grabbed one of Syphas, uhh, other toys," Trevor said. He stood in front of Alucard and put it in front of his nose.

Alucard gulped. It was another phallus, this one black and long and thin. There was a kind of simple elegance to the way it tapered at the top.

"Can you handle it?" Trevor asked. He grinned.

Alucard didn't bother to nod. He groaned and leaned forward, licking his lips.

"Fuck you're fun," Trevor said, "But your not getting it just like this."

"N-no?" Alucard said. As far as he was aware, he was out of other, usable orifices.

"Nope. Besides, I want this off."

He got to his knees in front of the chair. Alucard looked down.

"You really are still hard. Shit. That's ridiculous."

Alucard didn't know how to respond to that. He didn't have to. Trevor put his hands on his inner thigh. He drew a meandering line up the sensitive skin. He grinned when Alucard squirmed in his hold. When he reached his cock, he carefully pulled the condom off.

"See, you might not think it. But cock sucking is an art. Happens to be one I'm pretty proud of, in fact."

"Oh?"

"Someday, we're gonna get to do this properly. Sypha will unlock me, and I'll get to put you between my legs and fill that pretty mouth of yours with cum. But, until then. Well, you really ought to practice."

He slid the condom onto the new toy, inside out so the mess Alucard made on it clung in milky ribbons to the sides.

Alucard's mind went blank as Trevor held the cock in front of his face. If he thought about it- about what was about to happen- it would sound obscene and revolting. But finally having Trevor use his mouth was a prospect that sent his insides squirming again. Alucard leaned forward. He couldn't reach the thing on his own with his hands bound, but he stuck out his tongue and offered his open mouth to Trevor.

Trevor smirked. "For instance, you want to start small. Warm yourself up. Why don't you give it a nice, friendly kiss?"

He touched the tip of the toy to Alucard's tongue. Alucard closed his eyes and let himself lick.

"Good boy. Now, let's make this interesting."

The buzzing started again. Alucard gasped- and suddenly had an unrelenting silicon cock jammed into his mouth.

"How does it feel to be completely used?"

Trevor stood over him. He used a hand to force Alucard back in the seat, and tilted his head back so he could take the cock deep. He matched his thrusts down his throat with the rhythm of the vibrator, and with the motion of his other hand on Alucard's cock.

They reached four. And Alucard got to experience what it meant to be spent- broken in overwhelming waves of pleasure, used. Finally, here was something dirty and human that satisfied. He covered Trevor's hand and collapsed.

 

Afterwards, he had to be carried out of the room. Trevor cleaned him up, and helped him get his numb and still tingling limbs into a change of clothes.

In a strange way, the aftercare was the best part. Even Sypha came in to check in on him and pet his head and ask how it had gone.

For once, instead of approaching his own, burgeoning thirst miserable and guilty, Alucard got to feel sleepy and unmade. He was not a monster. He was someone's toy. And he was cared for. These humans would play games with him; overwhelming, dangerous games even. But they would always take care of him afterwards.

 

And yes, there are other parts of this story. Other little middles and in betweens. Just the next day, Sypha straddled his face for the first time, putting the new gag to the test and letting Alucard feed in a way that was dangerously personal, but less wasteful.

There were other things. More dates to go on. More books to read. Trevor helped him figure out exactly how old he was. He discovered that he hated modern music. Sypha did finally walk him through the basics of sex ed.

There was a dinner party with a few of Sypha's friends. Alucard finally met some other humans on his own terms. Meeting and playing games with Erica was some confirmation that he was able to form relationships with humans outside of Trevor and Sypha.

And in the end, all of this would be eclipsed. Just a few months later.

Chapter Text

As a rule, Alucard didn't trust happiness. Happiness was temporary. It crumpled around him, over and over.

So later, he would say he'd seen it coming. That somehow all of this was going to burst at the seams. But no. He hadn't anticipated it. When Erica looked over and saw him pensive and distant in her hold, he was thinking of the past, not the future.

When she asked, he leaned back, wondering. She didn't know this part of his story. If he told her, what would she think of it.

"Just, Trevor and Sypha."

Erica smiled a little wearily. "That is where your thoughts tend to be."

Alucard grimaced. "Sorry. I don't mean to-"

"Don't apologize," Erica said. She shook her head. "They're pretty important to you, aren't they?"

"Yes," Alucard said. It was strange to think of them as a unit. Trevor and Sypha. They were so distinct in his mind. Just picturing them as a couple was strange- a man and a woman who might at some point get married, or have children. It was an uncomfortable thought, because Alucard couldn't imagine where he could be fit in such an arraignment.

He chewed on his lip. "They tether me. To this time."

"What do you mean?"

Alucard leaned forward. He put his hands on his temples. "When I was- young. I had two lovers. Another Trevor and Sypha."

"Another man and woman?"

"No. Well, yes. I mean they were v-very similar. They had the same names. Trevor Belmont. Sypha Belnades."

Erica said nothing. Alucard resisted the urge to twist in her hold and look back up at her. He gulped and continued. "They looked- almost identical. And they had similar vocations. Trevor was a hunter. Sypha a healer, and a mage."

"You think they're the same people?" Erica whispered.

"Yes," Alucard said. He shivered. "I believe. They crossed back over."

"You think they came back for you?"

He wrinkled his nose. It was the height of arrogance, to believe such a thing. That Belmont and Belnades had torn themselves across realms and violated the fundamental tenets of their own mortality to find him again. He had no proof. He looked up, and saw Erica's furrowed brow.

"You don't believe me."

"It's none of my business," Erica said. She shrugged.

Alucard took her hand. "No. I- I want an outside opinion. Your opinion."

"You said they were your lovers?" Erica asked, "When you were young?"

Alucard nodded.

"That would have been before you, umm, before you-"

"Became a monster?"

"You described it as going mad, right?"

"Yes," Alucard said. He was sitting upright now, barely in Erica's hold.

"And it was traumatic, losing them?"

"It broke me. Twice."

Erica shook her head.

"Sorry. I shouldn't have b-brought it up. I just- it was scaring Trevor. Talking about this. And I know it's cruel to him. The idea that I love him because of-"

"Because of a strong resemblance to someone you knew 500 years ago?"

Alucard grimaced. "An uncanny resemblance."

Erica drew in a breath, preparing to speak. Then she looked at him. He saw pity in her gaze. She shook her head, and said nothing.

"I just needed. Someone else to talk to."

Erica sighed. "You could've texted me."

Alucard suppressed another shiver. The bedroom around them was suddenly oppressive- dark and breathing with the weight of ghosts and a dread he couldn't name. He shouldn't have mentioned it. It couldn't be comfortable for her, if he carried all of these relationship problems to her bed.

He tried for levity. He looked up at her and managed a smile. "Guess I should practice that."

"You should," Erica said, "I'd like to hear from you. And it's a little odd, having Sypha ask if you can come over."

Alucard looked around. The ghosts were purely in his mind. The bedroom was small, but clean and pleasant, with a gentle yellow light coming from a covered lamp in the corner. He found his discarded pants on the floor beside the nightstand. His phone was in his pocket. He fished it out. "May I, uhh, have your number?"

Erica grinned. "Of course. Do you need to go home soon?"

"Soon," Alucard admitted. He looked through the blinds to the window. It was dark out. As a service to Erica, if nothing else, he should leave and let her rest.

"One more cuddle first?" Erica said. She took his phone and entered her number.

"Yes please."

 

Fifteen minutes later, they were dressed. Alucard packed his things. He gave Trevor a call. First, he listened to it ring, then the dial tone, then a mechanical voice inviting him to leave a message. Alucard wrinkled his nose and shut it off.

"Not picking up?"

Alucard shrugged. This was his fourth trip to Erica's. If he thought it strange that Trevor didn't answer, he was also glad. It meant Trevor wasn't worried. He wouldn't be waiting anxiously at the door for him.

"I'll drive you," Erica said. She leaned in and put a firm hand on his shoulder.

"Thank you."

He finally had a pair of men's shoes that fit. He donned them as Erica put on her jacket. They got into her tiny car.

"I would still like to know. What you think," Alucard said.

"About Trevor and Sypha, you mean?" Erica asked. She started onto the road.

"Yes." He did. This damn reincarnation thing was eating at him. It was foolish to look to her for closure, but he needed something.

Erica waited till she was stopped at a light to answer. She looked over. "Are you sure?"

"Do you- do you think I'm crazy?"

Erica grimaced. "No."

"But you d-don't believe me. It's impossible."

"I'm not a mage, or a theologian, or anything," Erica said. She turned onto the main road, very deliberately keeping her eyes on the road. "And I'm not a psychiatrist either. But- well- these were your only partners, right? The last people you had anything like a normal life with."

Alucard didn't bother to nod. He braced himself for whatever she might say next. He braced himself for what he had cornered her into saying.

"You missed them terribly. You would have done anything, to get them back?" Erica asked.

Alucard shivered. He had tried everything to keep them. To keep Trevor. Everything.

"I can't imagine remembering anything, let alone something as complex as a person, for five hundred years."

He swallowed. "What? You think I've misremembered them?"

"I think you lived in utter misery for centuries. And there was at least a part of you searching desperately for something that would save you."

Alucard stared at her. He felt protests bubbling up his throat. But his tongue was heavy- prone to stammer over them.

"It's remarkable, what the human mind will imagine in times of stress," Erica said.

"So I imagined it? All these s-similarities?" Alucard asked. He thought back to his first impressions of Trevor- his enticing smell in the woods, tearing away his hood and Belmont's face flashing before him like a lightning strike. Was that possible? Could he have convinced himself this was Belmont if he needed him to be?

"Not consciously," Erica said.

Alucard gritted his teeth. He felt like he hadn't explained properly. "But Trevor is- so close. To being the same. It can't be chance. It can't."

"Maybe not," Erica said. She shrugged. "But it can't be healthy for you. Loving ghosts. Living out this miserable cycle of falling for and losing the same people. Being dependent on them."

Alucard sucked in a breath. And then he realized what he was doing. He was not going to be able to make her understand. No one understood. He would never have proof and no one would ever believe him and even if they did what would it matter?

What did the idea of a reincarnated soul matter compared to the stark knowledge that this Trevor and Sypha, whatever their superficial similarities, were not the same? And what would it matter, except to reinforce the grim and simple fact that his relationship with these two- with all of these people, with every human who he ever bothered to make the acquaintance of, in fact- would one day be lost to him?

Alucard sighed. He looked out the window and saw the edge of the fence marking the park near their house. They were getting close. "Maybe not," he said, in something like agreement.

"Sorry," Erica said, "I didn't think that would help."

Alucard looked back at her. His anger and frustration dissipated, leaving just that feeling of dread again. "It's plausible, I suppose. And it might be easier- kinder if I, if-"

He trailed off. Something like a shiver ran through his body, tingling in his fingertips pressed to the car window. He heard a faint peal of bells. A single, dim shower of sparks swept over his vision and died.

A holy spell, so weak and fragmented he'd barely felt it. Alucard twisted in the seat and pressed his face to the window. What could have caused that?

"Alucard?"

He squinted into the shadows, and was so intent upon them he didn't realize they were pulling into the driveway until Erica stopped the car. Alucard looked up the short stairs.

The door was ajar.

A second wave of holy magic hit him, weaker than the first. Alucard's slow pulse spiked. Something was wrong. Something was very wrong. The magic made his skin crawl. He didn't realize Erica had parked until she opened the driver side door and he smelled it. His stomach heaved. Alucard swallowed back a wave of thirst like a stormfront. He squeezed his eyes shut against the red tint.

Something was very wrong.

"Alucard?" Erica asked. He heard her unbuckle her seat belt.

"Stop!" Alucard said.

Erica paused. "What is-?"

Alucard looked over at her. Erica gasped.

The panic building in his chest and behind his eyes and in his pulse produced one coherent thought. He couldn't lose her too. Not like this. God- yes, sure, God- he had to hope, in his immense feebleness.

"Erica?" Alucard asked. He allowed himself one long, steadying breath. "I am getting out. And I need you to drive as- as far away, from here, as you can."

He didn't wait for an answer. There was no time. He was out and shut the door. He took the steps at a run, pushing through the wild radiating magic from the broken holy ward, smelling Trevor's blood thick as fog slipping through the door.

He reached the top step and heard a scream. Sypha's scream. It warbled off into a defeated whimper.

And Alucard had to swallow down the paralyzing fear that he was about to lose both of them. Because if he hesitated, he certainly would. And he couldn't.

Alucard stepped into the house.

 

Of course it was the basement.

Alucard didn't have to check the livingroom, or see if the wards to the bedrooms had also been rend open. A macabre streak of dying ochre led down the entryway and to the half-opened basement door.

Alucard followed the long, seeping trail of Trevor's scent. He could do that on instinct. He could fall in step behind Trevor's path just as easily and automatically as he had the night he'd been caught. It kept him from estimating the blood loss by smell alone. If he calculated the likelihood of survival, it would break him. He already knew that something had gotten him at the neck.

He walked on numb feet. The words that drifted past him didn't make sense- resounded strangely in the immense horror blooming in his mind.

"Just tell me where he is."

There was a tiny snap, a twig being broken. Sypha's scream was like a physical barrier as it hit him. Alucard staggered through it and grabbed the basement door. He could barely feel the ward that had been here. But he could barely feel anything.

If he was thinking anything, at that moment, it was how to make it stop. No. No. Stop. As though it was another game, or another test, and not some reality he had escaped and put off too long.

"No? I can do this all day. I wonder, just how many bones are there in a human hand?"

"Twenty- twenty seven," Sypha whimpered.

"Insolent bitch."

There was another snap. Another scream that sent Alucard shaking. He forced himself through the door, and walked into an immense mistake.

He should have been processing it. Puzzling out the strangely familiar voice that had filtered up the stairs between Sypha's cries. He should have come up with a plan, or grabbed a weapon, or maybe even called the cops.

But the moment he'd stumbled through the basement door, he was lost. Trevor was face down at the bottom of the stairs in a spreading, red pool. Alucard staggered to him with his innards jammed up to his throat. The basement, which he'd always thought so cold, was smoldering with pain and misery and the metallic edge of his blood.

If he could have spoken, he would have howled. Instead, Alucard sunk to his knees with a thud. He put his hands on Trevor's back and starred, trying to understand. He was barely breathing. Alucard could see the pale, clammy side of his face. If he could calm down, and force himself to be rational, he could listen for Trevor's heartbeats. But that would only confirm what he already knew. Trevor was dying on the cold concrete floor. And there was nothing he could do.

"By satan himself."

Alucard froze. Seeing Trevor had forced all else- any practical consideration- from his mind. He dragged his head up.

He'd forgotten what a vampire was. What he wasn't. The pale figure in the center of the room shifted. A white hand with fingernails like talons dropped Sypha's arm and Sypha let out another whimper. Curtains of cream hair shifted as she turned to look at him. He'd forgotten the predatory narrowness of the chin and jaw and nose. The fresh, blood red of the lips and the eyes that gleamed as she watched him.

Alucard saw the dangerous, supple ripple of tensed muscles in her bare arms. Her crimson dress looked almost as obscene than the puddle of blood leaking from Trevor. She stood with the elegance and control of an immortal and a noble. Her long, narrow dress slithered into place. She padded towards him with the deadly grace of a predator, confident and imperious. She hadn't changed in five hundred years. Except that she hadn't pounced on him yet.

"What did they do to you?" she asked. Her mouth was agape as she stared at him, showing the pointed edges of her canines.

Alucard blinked. He shifted reflexively, covering Trevor's body with his own as though he could protect him. "What?"

She descended on him. Alucard flinched, expecting a strike. But iron-like fingers gripped his chin with devastating softness. She lifted his face into view like he was a doll. He stumbled forward, desperately sidestepping so he wouldn't trample Trevor.

"You've wasted away," she said, dragging him into view.

"C-Carmilla," Alucard started. He closed his eyes. He couldn't think. Trevor was dying at his feet and Sypha whimpered nearby and his thirst had roared to life. It slammed into his ribcage, making his breathing even shakier. "You can't-"

"They starved you. And did they really- did they dare?" Carmilla demanded. She moved her fingers to his cheeks and pushed in, forcing his mouth open.

Alucard balked and struggled uselessly in her hold. She was a full blood. She would have been stronger than him even if he'd had his magic. When she stuck her fingers in his mouth and traced the gaps between his molars and incisors, he went limp. It was too much. He slumped forward into her hold.

Her fingers left his mouth. She released his face and gripped his throat instead. He kept his eyes closed, trying to think against overwhelming waves of panic and thirst. He didn't need to look and see her inspecting him.

He'd had dreams like this. Nightmares like this.

"Fucking sick," Carmilla said. Her hand moved down to his collarbone. She tapped the silver collar and hissed.

Alucard swallowed. He had to try. He couldn't possibly beat her. He could barely speak to reason with her. But he had to try. "This isn't- what it looks like."

"Hush. They can't hurt you now," Carmilla said. She lowered him to the floor and he sank into a kneeling position in front of her.

"That's not-"

"I can see how they tortured you."

Alucard shuddered. "Well, yes. But-"

"I can smell that they've whored you out," she whispered.

He winced and shrank into himself.

"Absolutely disgusting. They domesticated you."

One of Alucard's fists curled. His thoughts swarmed like a struck wasps nest. He had to think. How could he possibly beat her when he was so weak? How could he possibly beat her when she'd lifted him into the air like he was made of paper?

"Enough. This was never the point of your exile," Carmilla said. She leaned over him. Her cold, rancid breath scraped at his ear. "Come home. With me."

Alucard dragged his head just far enough up to speak. "What?"

"I have an estate. In hell. That will suit you far better than this awful little sty."

Alucard shivered. He didn't dare look up at Carmilla. But movement caught his eye. He looked past her instead, through the waves of his hair.

Sypha shifted. She stretched out a hand and forced herself onto her knees. Three of her fingers were bent in the wrong direction. Her face was soaked and red. Alucard felt the breath she dragged in- saw the tremor in her throat. But he didn't hear it.

She was alive. Carmilla hadn't bit her. Alucard swallowed a gasp.

Could she cast, right now?

Maybe. Maybe if he kept Carmilla talking.

"Despite what you did, you are still one of us," Carmilla said. She had shifted, sitting on the floor beside him. Her back was to Sypha. She ran her fingers over his scalp in a cold imitation of a caress. "Five hundred years is long enough."

He shuddered, and pulled himself up, out of her grasp. He stared her down. "It is not in your nature. To forgive."

Carmilla's half-extended fingers twitched. But she withdrew them without striking him. In fact, she hadn't hurt him at all. What she had done was so much worse. The mixture of pity and amusement in her words made him sick. She thought she was saving him.

"Perhaps not. But you'll make a fine addition to my collection."

Alucard gulped. "Collection?"

Carmilla smirked. "You are in no place to ask. We can do this nicely, or I will drag you from this miserable prison. It makes no difference to me."

"What would I be?" Alucard asked. She certainly wasn't offering him lordship, and he doubted even she could pretend as much.

Carmilla's smirk split open. "You'd be my servant. I will introduce you to the court. You know, most of the old generals are dead now. And even those who remain- Raman and Dragoslav- I expect they'll find you inoffensive, as you are now. Adorable, even."

Alucard suppressed a shiver, imagining what Carmilla and Raman would do to him between them. He kept his eyes on Carmilla's, not daring to look over to where Sypha had started to crawl forward.

"I-," Alucard started. He let his head sink, and considered his hands.

It worked. Carmilla got loser, putting her lips to his ear. It made his skin crawl, feeling the proximity of her fangs to his face. She whispered. "You'd have fresh blood to drink. No sunlight to worry about. None of these irksome little wards. And I assure you that my humans know their place."

Alucard gulped. He reached instinctively for his collar. If this damn thing was off of him- if Sypha could manage some kind of spell- if he could reach her while Carmilla was stunned- they might stand a chance.

He drew in a breath. She had made her offer. Even if this was barely the illusion of choice, he was supposed to say something in response.

In the milieu, a single, coherent thought occurred to him. He raised his head. "You were the one who hexed Trevor in the woods, weren't you?"

"The hunter?" Carmilla asked. Her eyes flicked over to the stairs- to where Trevor was dying on the floor. "Yes. Do you have any idea how long I've been looking for you? After you just vanished?"

From the other side of the room, there was a tiny shuffling sound that echoed unbearably loud in Alucard's ears. He took in a breath. He just had to keep her talking. That was all he could do. "Why?"

Carmilla's nose wrinkled. "I could smell you on him. And I had assumed- wrongly- that you would be strong enough to escape if I provided such an opportunity. I didn't realize that sadistic bitch was involved."

Alucard gulped. He resisted the temptation to look over. Now was the time. Whatever Sypha could manage.

"Actually, if you'll excuse me a moment," Carmilla said.

She didn't bother to finish. Her head snapped back around. She straightened and rounded on Sypha.

Alucard looked over at her too, hoping against all reason. But she did not have her hands raised, her fingers spread, her stance wide as white light gathered in front of her. She had not prepared a spell. She'd crawled to her purse instead, and was clawing through its contents.

"Who the fuck gave you permission to move?" Carmilla snarled. She reached Sypha and grabbed her by the hair.

"Al- Alu-" Sypha rasped. She raised her hands, as though she could possibly protect herself. Now, Alucard saw that fingers on both of her hands were mangled. She was clutching something silver in one broken fist.

"Don't you fucking dare," Carmilla said. She raised a leg and kicked her chest. Something cracked and Sypha sobbed. She went limp in Carmilla's grip. Her hands fell to her sides. A small, silver key clattered to the floor.

Alucard surged forward, reaching out a hand. He was fast, after all, still almost as fast as she was. But Carmilla was closer, and already on her feet. She tossed Sypha aside and swiped up the key.

Alucard skidded to a stop, wincing at the scrap of concrete on his knees. Both of them had failed, then. Alucard had failed to distract her, and Sypha had failed to free him.

Carmilla looked from the key dangling between her fingers to Sypha, to Alucard. "I take it this is yours then? For that awful collar?"

Alucard hesitated, considering the key.

"Answer me," Carmilla snapped.

"Y-yes."

 

Carmilla placed it in her palm. She shook her head. "So this tiny thing controlled you."

Alucard nodded blankly. It had all gone wrong. He had failed.

"That, and these disgusting humans," Carmilla said. She returned to Sypha, who'd curled in around herself on the floor. She caught one of Sypha's hands under her foot. She dug her heel in and something crunched.

Sypha screamed. Her back arched and she looked up. Her blurry gaze found him. He knew that look- blank and animalistic from a combination of fear and pain. How many humans had given him that look before? Hundreds? How many times had he seen the dullness gathering at the edge of the iris before it all went blank?

Her scream petered out into a sob. One cold thought came through the panic. If he went with her, Sypha would live. Alucard shivered.

"S-stop it," Alucard stammered. He pushed himself up into a kneeling position. "Carmilla- please. I'll do- whatever you want. Just don't-"

"Then kill him."

"What?"

"The hunter. Kill him."

Alucard froze. "Tre-- the hunter?"

Carmilla grinned and pointed back towards the stairs.

It was wretched to even consider. He was about to lose everything. Trevor- finite, pulsing, perfect, as delicate as a moth's wing. How had he ever thought of him as strong, or sturdy, when he was human and bleeding out onto the concrete?

But the imp curled around in his chest, awake and aware, so certain it was about to be freed at last. It cooed, "if he's going to die anyway."

He couldn't die. He couldn't lose him. He closed his eyes.

Carmilla clicked her tongue. She pressed her hand to the side of his face in a cold caress. "Poor thing. Have you forgotten how?"

Alucard shivered and scrunched his eyes shut.

"I made a lovely wound on him for you. Just feed, Alucard. Feed, and then return to hell with me."

Alucard gulped. "I can't-"

He raised his head. The grey concrete pulsed red around him. He'd thought this basement was hell once, cold and miserable. But hell would be warm, a flowing supply of blood, a different kind of service.

If he went with her, Sypha would live.

"There it is," Carmilla said. Maybe she saw Alucard's shoulders give out. But he suspected it was the red in his eyes as he met hers. "Kill him. And we'll-"

"Wait," Alucard said.

Carmilla paused. One of her hands curled. Alucard wondered again if she was going to strike him. She settled for putting more weight on Sypha's trapped hand. Sypha had run out of air to scream, and her pain came out in gasps and shaky inhales instead.

"Yes?"

Alucard tapped a finger to the silver lock of the collar. "Free me. And I'll- I'll go with you."

Carmilla finally stepped off of Sypha's hand. She leaned forward, inspecting the collar. Her nose wrinkled. "What a wretched device." She reached forward, tapped the lock with a nail, and hissed. A tiny tendril of smoke rose from her hand.

There were some disadvantages, to being fullblood.

Carmilla held the key between her long fingers. She narrowed her eyes at it, gleaming in the dim light from the half-open door. She shook her head. "You will have to tell me, when you are yourself again, how you let down your guard so poorly."

She bent over him. She pressed the key to the lock.

"Are you ready?"

Alucard gulped. "Yes."

"Beg for it."

Alucard looked up at her.

Carmilla smiled. "Beg me for your freedom. Beg to be my servant. Beg for his blood- and maybe I'll let you kill the bitch too."

Alucard closed his eyes. He knew how to beg. Why would it be any different? "P-please. Please, Miss. Free me. Take me home. Let me serve you."

"And?" Carmilla asked. Her free hand scraped across Alucard's throat. Did she feel the tremble there? Did she see the tremor in his fingers on the collar? Did she think it was excitement? Desperation? Thirst?

"Please let me feed on both of them," Alucard said. His voice cracked.

Carmilla laughed. "Very well. You've suffered enough. And you really should get a taste before the hunter dies."

Alucard gritted his teeth. He felt the lock unlatch. He braced himself for the sudden onslaught- magic and strength flooding back to his body, all the stronger and more insistent for having been repressed for so long.

Even that was meaningless. She was a well fed full blood. There was only one way he could win. He was fast. Fast enough to catch her by surprise.

The collar came loose in Alucard's hand. He gripped it and pulled it from his throat.

"There you go," Carmilla purred, "Now-"

Alucard looked up at her. His vision was clear and gold. He brought his hands up and around her. He hooked the silver collar around her neck- as easily and cleanly as if he had practiced a hundred times before.

"No," Alucard said. The collar fastened at her throat with a click.

Carmilla blinked. Then her face contorted and her red eyes widened. She shrieked. She put both hands on the silver and clawed at it. A key slipped between her fingers- and Alucard caught it.

He was strong now, stronger than he remembered how to control. Even if he hadn't meant to, the silver would have been crushed in his hand. But Alucard snapped it like a twig. He slipped the pieces into his pocket and ran to Sypha.

He heard Carmilla collapse. He'd been unconscious for this part- when that vampiric strength gave out. He supposed it had been merciful, that he hadn't experienced it. She snarled. "You bastard! I was going to save you."

"They already have," Alucard said, without really thinking about what he was saying. He got to Sypha's side and offered her his hand.

Sypha shifted. She tried to rise, and sank back to the floor. "Fuck. Ribs. Trevor?"

Trevor. Alucard gulped. He lifted Sypha as easily and reverently as one would hold an old, yellowing scroll. She was a doctor. She'd be able to fix him. Except for her fingers. But she's be able to tell him. What to do. To fix him.

God, Alucard knew how fucking dangerous it was to hope right now. But he clung to it anyway. He needed Trevor to be okay.

He'd be okay.

What fucking good would all of his strength and magic returning do if Trevor wasn't okay?

He'd be okay.

Sypha sobbed in his hold. Alucard knew it was foolish to move her. But he had to.

"We need to s-stop the bleeding, right?"

He set Sypha down and reached Trevor. Blood. It was on his fingers the moment he touched him. Alucard gritted his teeth. He rolled Trevor onto his back.

There was the neck wound- just to one side and seeping. That was bad. It meant he had already bled most of it out. If Alucard was still a predator, still mad, he'd barely consider this one worth feeding from. There was nothing left. Almost nothing.

Alucard pressed his fingers to the wound.

"You fucking traitor!" Carmilla snarled. She stopped thrashing around on the floor and staggered to her feet. "You wanted this?"

She had bitten him.

"What are you, then? A cuckold?"

Alucard dragged his head up. He stared her down. The silver of the collar clashed with the gold on her shoulders. A band of skin around her neck was already turning pink and tendrils of smoke trailed from it. He hoped it burned like a soldering iron. He hoped she was in agony. And a tiny, rational part of his brain still functioning hoped that her strength and powers were actually gone by now.

Did she see how dearly he'd like to kill her right now?

Carmilla gulped.

Alucard summoned a black flame to his free hand, the one that wasn't clutching Trevor's weak pulse point.

"Carmilla," he rasped. The flame spluttered in his palm, and tickled his fingers. "These humans are mine, and I will kill you if you ever touch them again."

He tossed the flame at her. It hissed through the air, struck the wall and exploded in a flash of grey light.

When the light had faded, she was gone.

Alucard looked back to Sypha. She was watching him. Her eyes were fogged over with pain and she flinched when he turned to her.

"M-miss?" Alucard asked.

Sypha blinked.

"I- umm- don't be mad. But I think I've lost my collar."

Sypha snorted. The noise sounded painful. "Have you been- neglectful, with your possessions?"

Alucard looked down at Trevor, pale and barely breathing in his hold. He shivered. "I didn't m-mean to. I'm sorry."

"Turn him."

"What?"

"His," Sypha started. She dragged in a breath. "His odds aren't good right now. Even if- even if we could get him to a hospital, he's not going to- No. Give him your blood."

"I can't."

Sypha' grimaced. "This isn't the time to be squeamish, Alucard. He's dying and I-"

"No, Sypha. I can't."

"What?"

Alucard blinked. He starred at her. "I'm only half, remember?"

And Sypha searched his face through waves of pain that seemed to be crashing over her body. "Only half? What do you-?"

"I can't save him," Alucard said. He gulped back a sob. "I c-couldn't before. I can't now. I can't."

"Are you down here?" a voice called from above them.

Alucard twisted around. Someone was stepping down the basement stairs Carmilla had clawed up just a moment before. Erica squinted down into the gloom.

"Oh crap. Alright. EMTs are on their way. Sypha, can you keep them on the phone?"

She descended upon Trevor, tossed a phone into Sypha's lap, and took over for Alucard. She sent him after the med kit and, when he returned, had him help get Sypha up the stairs.

Where Alucard's world of magic and death, blood and evil had just been beaten back, now the human world he'd almost been a part of interceeded. A loud, low, mechanical howling echoed through the hallway as Alucard got them up the steps.

"What is-?"

"Sirens," Sypha said. She wheezed. Alucard had tried to carry her as gently as possible. He gingerly set her down. There was an almost bluish tint around her lips and eyes that scared him. "Can you go, meet them?"

Alucard gulped. He looked through the door. It was still half open, and he saw flashes of red and blue like a spell coming from the other side. "Meet- sirens?"

"Meet the paramedics," Sypha said, "Tell them we have. Two injured. And where we are."

"But I'm-"

"Trust me," she said. She leaned back onto the wall with a grimace. "It'll be the last thing on their minds."

Alucard steeled his shoulders. He looked over to the flashing lights. He heard tires rolling onto the driveway.

"Sypha?" Alucard said. He leaned over her.

Sypha looked up at him, in an exhausted, defeated way.

Alucard kissed her forehead. "I love you."

When he pulled away, she was still staring at him. Her vision seemed clear for the first time. She looked so delicate, so soft and pained. She breathed, "You- you do?"

"Yes. Now don't die while I'm gone."

"Okay," she said, in a tiny voice.

Alcuard stood, and walked to the door.

Chapter Text

The first week was the worst. He stayed in Erica's flat during the day- pacing between the small rooms, cleaning frantically. She came in every evening with reports. Trevor was alive, still alive, in Intensive Care. It was blood loss and shock and a broken leg. Sypha had three cracked ribs, mostly broken fingers, and what Erica described as shattered bones in her right hand.

The nights, at least, were busy. From the first evening, Alucard went out on the prowl. Carmilla's trail had gone cold by then. He searched the woods anyway. He stayed in wolf form and found a spattering of demons to fight. It was a relief to have something to do, even if he was rusty.

As a wolf, fighting was instinctive and fluid. But it was still a shock, sinking his teeth into the throat of a first, dog-like demon and realizing he couldn't tear as easily with his fangs missing. It was still a shock when demonic ichor coated his muzzle and mouth.

The second demon almost beheaded him. Alucard heard its chittering just in time. He jaunted away. He finished that one off with his claws instead.

When he returned to Erica's flat at dawn, it was in bat form. This was still strange to him. He could crawl to the window and slip through the tiny opening he'd left the night before. This kind of freedom would take some getting used to. He took a long bath when he arrived. Then he cleaned the shower.

When Erica arrived that evening, he greeted her at the door. She swept him into a hug before the door had even closed. Alucard wondered if she noticed him shaking.

"They're still?"

"Alive, yes. Trevor is hanging on. They've got transfusions for him. Sypha's going to be fine. She's scheduled for surgery for the hand."

Alucard pulled away enough that he could see Erica's face. "She'll be okay?"

Erica started to nod. Then she paused. She grimaced. "I shouldn't- dammit. This is why I don't do patient consultations."

"What?" Alucard asked. He gulped down panic. "What do you mean?"

Erica sighed. She slipped out of his hold and closed the door. "Can we sit down?"

That scared him. But Alucard nodded. He bent down and untied her shoes. The ritual steadied him. He followed Erica to the small space between her kitchen and entryway that she called a livingroom. She sat. Alucard considered offering a foot rub. But she put her head in her hands and took a long steadying breath before starting to speak.

"Sypha will live," Erica said, "Unless something goes horribly wrong."

"And Trevor?"

Erica looked up at him. "We don't know yet. He survived the first twenty four hours. That's good. That's really good. He's on a respirator and fluids. But- he hasn't woken up."

Alucard shivered. "Are- are you saying he won't?"

"I'm saying we don't know."

"I don't understand."

Erica gave him an exhausted look. She patted the cushion next to her, inviting him to sit. He joined her on the sofa. "What don't you understand?"

"How can you not know? When- when you have all these tests? And books? All these doctors and machines? Can't you test for- for-?"

"For whether his brain was deprived of blood long enough that it was damaged?" Erica asked. "No. I mean, maybe an MRI. But he's still in critical condition."

"So, we wait?" Alucard squeaked.

"We wait," Erica said, "We wait. And we hope."

"Okay."

"And you understand. Even if Sypha makes an amazing recovery. Even if Trevor wakes up. There is going to be permanent damage. For both of them."

Alucard shivered. He squeezed his eyes shut and nodded. He did understand. Their bodies weren't built like his.

Erica wrapped her arms around him. "I'm sorry. I know you were hoping for better news."

He returned the embrace, collapsed into her, and started to weep.

 

He didn't go hunting that night. Or on the prowl, or patrol, or whatever he was going to call it. It was too close to thinking about him, and their couple misadventures into the woods.

It had really only been two. Maybe four or five dates. And so many long evenings together that felt squandered in Alucard's mind now that he looked back at them and imagined that they were all he'd ever have with this Trevor.

Why hadn't he proclaimed his love in the most definitive and absolute terms at every given moment? Why had he spent so long complaining and moping? Why hadn't he fought tooth and nail to get the collar off and replace Trevor on his hunts?

The clock read 3 am when Alucard couldn't bare to be in his own head anymore. He was still curled up on the sofa. Erica had long since gone to bed.

He stood up and shook the heaviness from his limbs. Even if he didn't have the stomach to hunt tonight, he should do something with these last hours of darkness before daylight bared him in this claustrophobic apartment. He walked to the kitchen window and nudged it open. The cold air and the quiet smell of nighttime called to him.

"Alucard?"

He grimaced and turned. Erica stood in the bedroom door, rubbing her eyes. "Where are you going?"

"Home," Alucard said. He hadn't realized he had a destination until he spoke it. "Back- back to Sypha's place. I mean."

"Do you want a ride?"

He managed a smile. "You have work in a few hours. You should sleep."

"If you're willing to wait. I could drop you off on the way. It's no trouble."

He looked back at her, and tilted his head to one side. She was worried about him. Which was ridiculous. Sypha was scheduled for surgery at 9 am. Trevor was clinging to life. And he was here, and safe and whole. It was preposterous, to worry about him.

"Erica?"

"Yeah?"

She was still half asleep. And she deserved to sleep. She'd have another long shift when the morning came. Avarona had been short staffed before this. It was a bad time for them to lose one of their doctors.

Well, not lose. Not lose, lose as in gone forever and lost into the unknowable void, the endless sleep of death. Not Sypha. Her odds were good in comparison. Her odds were good.

A rattling distracted Alucard. His hand was still on the frame of the window. He was shaking hard enough to make it rattle. If he applied any more pressure, he'd crack the glass. He swallowed back panic. Forcing his hand down, he went back to Erica and wrapped his arms around her. He set his forehead on her shoulder.

"Thank you. Thank you thank you thank you. But I need to do this."

"Okay," Erica said, "Just, be careful."

"I will. I'll be back before you get home."

"Alright," Erica said. She put a hand over her mouth and stifled a yawn.

"You should go back to bed."

She nodded. "Good luck."

"Thanks."

 

It took longer than he expected to find the small blue house. Sure, it was faster to fly than to navigate the strange intersecting streets of the city by car. But he hadn't factored in how similar all of the houses looked from above. He hadn't fathomed just how many houses and individual sets of lives this place encompassed.

In the end, he got to the overhang before the door just before the sun rose.

Alucard fished into his pocket. It had been Trevor's idea to give him a house key before he'd left for Erica's. At the time, he'd thought it was ridiculous. He couldn't get inside on his own. He had always relied on them. He had always relied on Trevor and now he couldn't.

He pulled out three pieces of metal. One was the whole, brass house key. It took him a moment to recognize the other. It had been snapped in half- two pieces of a silver key, smaller and simple.

And then he remembered. He shoved the broken key back into his pocket. He hadn't wanted his freedom like this. Not at this kind of cost. He focused on the brass key, and on fitting it to the lock under the door knob. He turned it both ways several times- keenly aware that if he broke the key into the lock, he would have to choose between breaking in, or waiting in the doorway for about eight hours. He was not used to his restored strength.

Finally, the lock clicked.

Alucard closed his eyes and reached for the door handle. Any traces of the broken holy ward were long done. He rattled the handle and it turned.

He slipped inside and locked up behind him.

The first order of business was to clean up the blood. There were long streaks and rusty footprints on the hallway floor. He moped up what he could and scrubbed at the stains that were left. The basement was worse. Alucard supposed that at some point, someone would have come in to clean all of this up. Maybe Sypha would have hired someone. But Alucard could take care of this now. This was something he could do.

The basement was frigid. He did his best, but the concrete had stained, and its rough surface shredded the rags he was trying to clean with.

Alucard swore. He gave up on the eighth stair. It was misery being here, and his fingers were shaking, and the stale smell of Trevor's blood only added an angry squirming in his chest to all the other unpleasant sensations.

Maybe he could soak the stains in something. Vinegar and water? Or would that damage the concrete? He shook his head. He picked up the torn rags and started up the stairs. If Trevor was here, he could ask him. But he couldn't.

Halfway up the stairs, Alucard's heart stopped. He clutched for the railing and clenched around it hard enough that the wood cracked.

Someone was speaking. It was barely a whisper, and he couldn't make out the words. Someone was here, in the house with him. And Alucard hadn't even heard them open a door.

Had Carmilla come back?

Well, fine. He was not helpless anymore. Not in the face of her, anyway. He could defend himself now, even if he had failed stupendously to protect anyone else.

He shook out his shoulders and padded up the stairway. Getting to the door, he silently grabbed the handle and eased it open.

Alucard peered into the hallway. It was empty. The front door was still shut. He dragged in a breath. He smelled nothing except old blood and cleaner. He strained to hear anything- footsteps, or the hiss of moving cloth, even another pulse or someone breathing. There was nothing. As far as any of Alucard's senses were telling him, he was alone.

And then he heard the whisper again.

"Adrian."

Alucard gulped. "W-what?"

There was no answer. Alucard stepped into the hallway and tried again. "Whose there?"

Straining his ears, all he heard in response was a faint buzzing from his room. As though he had left the electric blanket on.

Alucard shivered. Maybe he could bring the electric blanket back to Erica's flat with him. It would be nice, to have something comforting and warm to wrap himself in. He could also use a change of clothes.

He started into the hallway, still half expecting something to snarl or jump out at him. He was listening so closely now that his own footsteps sounded deafening.

It came again. A bloodless whisper. "Adrian." It had come from the left. From his room.

Alucard reached out a hand. In spite of everything, he still expected his fingers to twinge and go numb before he reached the handle.

He opened the door and looked in. Nothing had changed. His bed was made, and there will still scattered papers on the desk. He wrinkled his nose. That would be all of his ridiculous notes about reincarnation. That seemed so small and petty now.

The buzzing had gotten louder. Stronger. But it wasn't coming bed, or from out the window. Alucard looked over to the wall. He finally found the source. The old sword mounted on the wall was rattling in its scabbard.

Alucard swallowed back a lump in his throat. It couldn't be. It had been too long. Far too long. Surely everything was lost.

"Adrian," the sword said.

He reached over with shaking hands. Adrian Tepes lifted the sword from its mount and held it up; an affirmation of everything that he had once been and could be again; a final proof of the work he had done. He was redeemed. He could be trusted. He could trust himself.

And then Alucard sank forward. He clung to the scabbard to keep himself upright. He thought and felt nothing for a long time- until long after the sun had risen, and Sypha would have gone into surgery, and Trevor might have woken up.

 

There were things to do, even during the day. The bright and mocking light held far less menace now that Alucard could jaunt through it to relative shade.

He picked out some of their favorite comfort items- Sypha's favorite sweater, the throw blanket that was always on the sofa, Trevor's jacket and beanie- and got all of them clean. He scrubbed the dishes that had been left in the sink and cleaned up the mess of dirt and blood that had been tracked into the bathroom when he'd rushed in for Sypha's med kit.

It was barely noon when he had everything he wanted put together in bundles and the house in order. There was really only one thing left to do.

Alucard sighed. He went back into the study and pawed through the piles of notes he and Sypha had taken until he found the holy wards they'd experimented with.

If they came back. When they came back. They'd need the protection of divine wards more than ever. And he had more than enough magic and expertise to craft something that would keep them safe.

 

"It went well," Erica said.

Alucard nodded. He wanted to believe her. He really wanted to believe her. But he looked into her face and still saw so much weariness and exhaustion. He braced himself for the rest of what she was going to say.

"She's still a little loopy from the anesthesia. But- if I can sneak in there during my lunch break tomorrow, she said she'd like to give you a call."

He nodded again. "I'd like that."

"She should be out within the week."

"What about Trevor?"

It had been four days now, and he'd been told the same thing. Trevor was doing better than they'd hoped. He'd responded well to blood transfusions. He might not need the respirator for that much longer. But none of that addressed what Erica had told him first. Was he going to wake up?

"I don't know all the details," Erica said, barely over a whisper, "You have to understand. I don't work in the IC. It might be a very different situation, from what I've been hearing."

Alucard gulped. "What have you been hearing?"

"He should have come round by now," Erica said, "If- if he was going to."

Alucard felt himself freezing over.

He'd resigned himself to this already. Trevor was mortal. So was Sypha. Their lives were finite by definition and he would lose them eventually. Eventually. But he hadn't prepared himself for eventually becoming now. He stared past Erica- not really seeing the pile of meaningless things he'd gathered from home and tucked beside the sofa, or the hallway with Erica's discarded shoes.

It was immeasurably dark around him. Just nothingness, and the promise of inevitability. He had fought that fate all his life. Maybe he was immortal. Maybe he had resisted death over and over. Or maybe the part of him that was human had died- and died- and died endlessly, every time he slept, every time he grieved, every time he killed and fed. But that was a terrible, selfish way of putting it.

Trevor was dying. Or maybe he was already dead. Maybe he had died 500 years ago and this person Alucard had gotten to know over the course of a very strange year had only born a strange likeness to him because Alucard had so desperately needed him too.

Or, worse yet. Far, far worse yet. Maybe it was Trevor. Maybe it had been Trevor Belmont every single time- reincarnated over and over and sent to cross Alucard's path and he had killed him a hundred times or more.

It was a terrible thought. From a world away, Alucard felt someone squeeze his shoulder. He shrugged it off. He sat with his terrible thoughts and grieved in the cold, senseless way an immortal creature could; silently, as though he was becoming stone.

 

Time lost its meaning after that. He might have sat on that couch for days, not heeding Erica moving in the flat around him, or the light changing, or the sounds of the broader world around him until something nearby started to buzz.

It was not his sword. This call was mechanical. It was a nuisance. Alucard squeezed his eyes shut tighter, trying to drown it out. But the buzzing persisted- rising and falling in a rhythm that demanded his attention.

Alucard hissed. He stood up and looked around for the source of the infernal noise.

It was coming from his own pocket. But Alucard had gotten so numb and so cold that he couldn't feel much of anything anymore. He fumbled and pulled it out with stiff fingers. He flipped the thing open and pressed a button at random, hoping it would stop.

"Alucard?"

Something like warmth pricked in his chest. It ached. He had done this before, once. Sypha was still here. Or, at least, she was still there, in a hospital bed somewhere, speaking in a strained wheeze.

Erica's voice filtered through as well. "Alucard? Can you hear us?"

"Y-yes?"

"Thank god. We tried calling five times and you didn't-" Erica started. She trailed off.

"Are you okay?" Sypha asked.

"I'm-- not," Alucard said. He shivered. "What- what about you?"

"Sure I'll feel like crap once the meds wear off," Sypha said.

The next sound that came out of the phone was a terrible noise half way between a wheeze and a sob. Alucard winced. He'd forgotten that it wasn't just her hands. Sypha had broken ribs to deal with. It must make just having this conversation painful. And here she was, stubbornly calling him over and over anyway.

"I, uhh, have some things for you," Alucard said, "Clothes, mostly."

"Thanks."

Alucard closed his eyes. He willed himself to be brave. "How- how is Trevor?"

There was a long pause on the other side. Alucard even thought he heard a small, sharp intake of breath- Erica wincing, maybe?

Finally, Sypha whispered something back. But it would be wrong to say that she answered. "So- it was her, right? Last time? When- when he had that shoulder wound? She'd hexed him?"

"Yes."

"What if-" Sypha started, "What if that happened again? What if he won't wake up unless I- unless you-- you know. Fix it?"

She trailed off.

Alucard squeezed his eyes more tightly shut. She sounded so weak right now. Even in his own state, he saw her words for what they were- a desperate explanation for something senseless and cruel.

"Did you feel any magic on him, Sypha?"

Somehow, the second pause was longer.

Her voice was neither a whisper nor a wheeze when she spoke again. She sounded like herself- a broken version of herself. "I'm not allowed to see him."

 

He was livid, when Erica returned home. He was not kind. He was not prepared to be reasonable or patient. He didn't greet her at the door. Instead, he stood in the hallway with his arms folded, seething.

"Why aren't you letting her see him?"

Erica sighed. She slammed the door and leaned into the wall. She slumped down it, withering under his glare.

"Who do you think is in charge here?" Erica asked.

"I don't know," Alucard snapped.

"It's gotten complicated," Erica said. She collapsed onto the floor and started tugging on the laces of her shoes.

"Then explain it to me."

"I-" Erica started. She looked up at him. In another mood, he might have noticed and respected the panic in her voice. "I don't know if I can."

"Am I too stupid to understand?"

Erica shook her head. "It's-- there's no understanding. It's horrible."

Alucard took a deep breath. "What's going on, Erica?"

"They think she did it."

"They?"

"The cops," Erica said. She had gotten her first shoe off. She paused and drew her knee in, curling up and covering her face. "They think she tried to kill him."

"What?" Alucard said. His jaw went slack. He tried to process the words. They didn't make sense. "They- they think Sypha did-- what?"

Erica nodded. "I wasn't even thinking. About how it might sound. But when I was questioned- well, I couldn't explain about you. Or that other vampire lady. And if it was just the two of them. Then it looks like a quarrel gone wrong, doesn't it?"

Alucard froze. "A quarrel? But that's not-"

"I know. I know I know I know. But when people get hurt like this- there has to be an investigation. And apparently they searched the house and found- well, they found some of Sypha's sex toys. It's not a good look."

He couldn't stand it anymore. Alucard sank to the floor next to her. His head felt too heavy for his shoulders and he leaned back on the wall for support. He closed his eyes and felt the information thicken and congeal in the back of him mind like old blood. It was lurid and obscene. He was shivering.

"They think she abused him? And tried to kill him?"

"No," Erica said. She swatted moisture away from her eyes. "Or, that's not what I've heard. It's been an utter mess of talk in the hospital. With it being one of our doctors and everything. The story is that it was him. In charge and doing all of this fucked up shit. And this was some kind of escape attempt, or maybe a confrontation, gone horribly wrong."

"But-" Alucard started. He wondered if this was what a headache felt like. "But that's not true."

"No. It's not. But how would we ever get anyone to believe the truth?"

Alucard gulped. "What's going to happen?"

"I don't know," Erica said. She looked over and offered him her arms. "I really don't know."

He sank into her hold. He let himself rest there, counting her heartbeats- one, two, three, four, five. He got himself to the count of ten, and then sat up. He got to his feet.

"Sorry. For taking this out on you," he said. He started for the window.

"It's okay," Erica said. She watched him fiddle with the latch and raised an eyebrow. "Are you going out?"

He nodded. "I need to clear my head. I'll be back."

"Be safe," Erica said, in a very small voice. She was still in the hallway, curled in on herself.

"Do you believe her?" Alucard asked.

Erica starred. "What? Of course I do. I- I saw that vampire clawing up the stairs. And even if I didn't. I know them. I know Sypha. She would never hurt him-- like that."

Alucard put out a flat hand. "Do you think it could be a spell? That's keeping Trevor from waking up?"

"Oh. Oh."

Alucard tilted his head. He knew that tone of voice, and the way she was refusing to meet his eyes. He stepped back into the room. There was something he wanted to bring with him. He stooped over the pile of blankets and clothes he'd brought from home. The sword looked absurd tucked between soft, comforting things. He picked it up. He'd long since lost any way to hold it, so he tucked the scabbard under his arm.

"Here's the thing," Erica said.

"Are you going to tell me that- that the human mind will conjure anything, believe anything, in times of immense stress?" Alucard asked.

Erica squeezed her eyes shut and nodded.

He sighed. "Alright. I'll be back."

This time, he didn't care if she saw his body shift, become small and dark and sleek before he slipped out the window and into the night.

Chapter Text

He knew how to do this. How to hunt. He followed the sloppy, hungry trail left by a small pack of demons, switching from bat to wolf so his keener sense of smell could guide him.

And yes, as he got close, he smelled the fear on their quarry as well.

Time was that humans knew to stay in their cities at night. But that was long ago. And maybe Alucard could do nothing- nothing- nothing- to solve the horrible human problems of the city. Maybe he couldn't help Trevor and Sypha. But he could do one tiny thing right. He could save one person- one person whose fear he smelled on the air.

Demons were not clever. But they had just enough of a cruel intelligence to make a sport out of their hunts. They had scared this human deeper and deeper into the woods- a rustle in the bushes here, a low growl there to get their prey hopelessly lost.

Alucard ground his teeth. He hoped he'd never done anything as cruel as that.

He caught up as they prepared their ambush. Yipping and chittering filled the air- the excited call of predators who smelled the bloody finale of their hunt.

Alucard felt his hackles rise. He was better than this at least, better than demons who killed for the sheer fun of it.

Under their grating calls, he could just make out something else. A man was swearing.

"Holy shit."

The human was surrounded by writhing bodies- an ever tightening circle of teeth and claws that threatened to completely overwhelm him.

Alucard snarled. He hurtled into the clearing. A demon lunged- and he was on it immediately, clawing at it's throat. The thing screeched as he forced it into the ground. Two more hissed at Alucard. He heard them jump for him and jaunted to the center of the clearing- getting to the human's side.

The sword hovering above him unlatched itself from its scabbard with an audible click.

Alucard pressed his paws into the ground underneath him. He bared his teeth, a warning. The demons circled. Two of them padded backwards. The rest charged in.

For thirty sweet seconds, he was absolutely lost in it. Dancing, between demon claws and teeth. The silver sword sweeping in elegant arcs around him. He jaunted and bit and tore- never quiet going for a killing blow until he had a proper opening. He felled them one after the other, and left bubbling pools of ichor like tar on the grass.

"Fuck me."

Alucard turned his head. The demons were dead, and the human who was left in the center looked like a pale ghost. His eyes were wide. And Alucard considered what this must look like from his perspective. He was panting and covered in ichor and grim.

For a moment, he just stared. It was something about the way the man swore- the easy inclusion of profanity. But he wasn't him- not Trevor, not Belmont. He was just a stranger, staring up at Alucard. His bearing was all wrong. He was too thin in the shoulders, held himself like a frightened prey animal and not a warrior. The single lock of hair that had slipped out of his hat was bright red, not brown.

Not Trevor Belmont. No matter how much Alucard would like him to be. Not a reincarnation, and not a trick of Alucard's own, desperate imagination.

"Fuck me," he repeated, "Are you, uhh, a nice doggy?"

And Alucard realized exactly what he needed to do. He sighed, and closed his eyes and took one moment to stuff his dignity away in a small coffin where it wouldn't see what he was about to do.

He opened his eyes again, and took a step towards the man. He swore and fell over. Alucard forced his haunches to drop. He let his tongue loll out and wagged his tail.

"N-nice doggie?" the man asked again. He sat up and reached a hand forward.

Alucard licked one of his fingers.

"Don't suppose you can tell me what those fucking things were?"

He yipped at him. No, not Trevor. Trevor knew what demons were.

"Are there more of them?"

Alucard set his hind legs into the grass and yet out a wide, canine yawn.

"Okay," the man said, "Okay. Jesus Christ, Chad. Your talking to a wolf. An actual wolf. Like its a person." He looked around the edge of the clearing, still wide eyed and gasping in breaths. "How the fuck do I get back to the car?"

Alucard barked at him and stood back up. He stepped across the trail of pain and fear the man had made into the clearing. He reached the place where the tree line started and whined, looking back. The man was still sitting there, panting and tapping frantically at his phone.

Alucard yipped at him.

"Of course there's no fucking service," the man snarled, "C'mon. C'mon. I just need-"

The screen went black in his hands and he snarled.

Alucard wrinkled his muzzle. He padded back. If there were any demons left in the forest, this idiot would certainly have alerted them to their position by now. Alucard had done enough fighting for one night. They needed to move.

He bit into the cuff of the mans coat and tugged.

"Alright. Alright. Fine. Guess if I'm fucked anyway, I might as well follow the dog with the sword."

This time, Alucard's yip was stifled by the fabric in his mouth. He gave the man one moment to pull out his flashlight. Then, he started guiding him through the forest.

The sky was dark blue instead of black before they finally reached the parking lot. The man had long since resigned himself to his fate, and Alucard, after many yips and whines of protest, had let him ride on his back in the interest of being done with this tedious rescue mission before dawn.

"Oh, thank fuck," the man said. He gasped in relief and slid off Alucard's back. He ran towards the single car left in the parking lot. There were three other people there; a tight human knot of dread that visibly came loose as he called out to them. "You guys! You won't believe it."

"Holy shit man. What happened to you?" one of the figures asked. He broke himself off from the group, rushed in and embraced him. "You look terrible."

Alucard sat just at the start of the concrete. He let his tail wag again. He really didn't need to get any closer to humans than this.

"Thanks. Think I got rescued by a dog."

"How did you even get lost in the first place? You said you were just going to take a piss."

"I was. I was. And then- I dunno. It was weird."

"You sure that's a dog?" a second human asked. She squinted in Alucard's direction. "It's huge."

"Dunno."

"Is it someone's stray? We could see if it's chipped."

Alucard swallowed. It was time to go. Why had he lingered like this in the first place? What was there to gain? Why was he risking being found out?

He vanished in a tendril of mist, slate grey in the midnight blue sky.

It was time to face reality. As he flew back to the city, he felt the start of an idea forming in his mind. A terrible, dangerous idea.

 

He got in before dawn, but after Erica had already left for work. He tried to do better this time. This came in the form of small things. He straightened up Erica's kitchen and did the laundry for both of them.

After that, Alucard sat on the sofa, staring at his hands, feeling out the idea. His fingers twitched as he considered the facets of it. He weighed it on his palms.

Would they try to stop him if they knew what he intended? Certainly Sypha would. Trevor would. But what about the others? Because this was out of Sypha's control now. If he wanted this plan to work, it would involve Erica. And maybe Amber and Raquel too.

He shivered.

It would just be a small lie really.

It would not be a trade, either. Not in any real or fair sense. He would not be offering his life for Trevor's, because he had no way of knowing if Sypha was right. He would risk himself for the narrow possibility of Trevor's survival.

Of course he would. It wasn't a question. He'd made that choice already. All that remained was how to do it. How would he make this work?

He looked up. It was day by now, and yellow light spread out in a pool over the things he'd left in the corner from home- the blanket, and warm outer layers for Trevor and Sypha. Erica hadn't brought them to Avarona yet.

It would do.

 

"Alright. You doing okay in there?" Erica whispered.

Alucard wiggled between the blanket and Trevor's jacket, getting just far enough up that he could stick his nose out. He let out a squeak.

Even still mostly covered by cloth, the sensory experience of the hospital was overwhelming. The citrus smells of cleaners mixed with harsh, metallic odors and an undercurrent of misery. Carts rattled past them. People muttered and machines beeped. Even with his tiny eyes closed, and a layer of cloth over them, the harsh whiteness of the lights overhead burned.

It was hard to imagine anyone getting better, in a place like this. But Sypha had said as much once. A hospital wasn't a place for care, or rest. It was a place where you patched up what you could so people could get back out and to the comforts of their lives. She'd been asking to be discharged since the day after her surgery. Now, Alucard was starting to understand why.

Alucard wiggled back into the stifling warmth in the bag. He wrapped his wings a little more tightly around himself and tried to focus.

Maintaining a form like this required concentration.

He tried not to imagine what would happen if he lost control of the spell.

They just had to reach Trevor. How large could a hospital possibly be?

Still, the noises and the clap of Erica's shoes across tiled hallways seemed endless. He heard multiple people call out to her as she passed- and only knew it was addressed to her because her heart rate jumped every time.

Maybe doctors weren't the best liars. Maybe it would have been wiser to ask what floor and room Trevor was in, and see if he could fly through a window instead.

Alucard gave himself a tiny shake. He focused on the soul of the bat- the feel of being enveloped in his own, flexible wings, the erratic beating of his heart. He was here now, and they must be getting close. This was not the difficult part. That would come later.

The ride in the canvas bag took an eternity and then some. But when Alucard heard a door open, and Erica shuffle them through, he had to swallow back panic. He squeezed his eyes shut and fought to keep in bat form. He felt the dwindling amount of magic left to him- and the tiny reserve he had sanctioned off so he could break the hex that was on Trevor. The tiny part that he kept like a talisman by his heart, believing that this plan would work, and that Trevor could be woken up.

He felt the small impact of Erica setting the bag onto the floor.

She whispered, "Good luck."

Alucard heard the door close. He was alone. He had to be strong now. He had to be ready to see Trevor weak and clinging to life. And if he couldn't save him- well, somehow he had to be prepared to face that too.

He wiggled his wings, fighting the weight of cloth and blankets above him. Five minutes ago, crawling down and digging himself as deep into these layers as possible had seemed like his best possible means of protecting himself. Now, Alucard let out a distressed chirp. He tried to push himself up and found the small thumb-like appendages at the tips of his wings catching on the material of the sweater he'd burrowed himself into.

He was stuck.

Of all of the ridiculous ways for a plan to fail, this had to set some kind of record. He was a 500 year old vampire, feet away from reuniting with the man he loved, and he was caught in the knit material of a sweater.

Alucard squirmed helplessly, letting out a string of quiet, distressed squeaks. Would he actually have to transform- breaking the bag and likely making a far louder noise in the process?

With how much magic he'd already used, that might be his only option.

He forced his body to go still. He closed his eyes and envisioned the soul of the bat. He started to press it down in his mind, freeing himself from the form.

And then the door opened.

Alucard froze. He clung to the soul of the bat as footsteps filled the room around him.

How long could he hold onto this form? Long enough for a doctor to take Trevor's vitals? What if there was something more involved going on? He hadn't planned for this. In Alucard's mind, the hospital itself had been the obstacle. He hadn't anticipated getting so close, only to run into trouble.

Then the owners of the footsteps started to speak.

"You wanted to see him?"

"Trevor!"

Alucard froze. That was Sypha's voice- barely more than a wheeze but stuffed with desperation all the same. He heard her step forward.

"At a distance, Ms. Kresnev."

There was a pause. Alucard was panicking now. Who was with Sypha? What were they doing?

"Dr.- Kresnev."

"Doctor. Very well. Please, sit down. I have some points of your statement that I need to clarify," he said. A chair scrapped across the floor.

"Trevor," Sypha said again. This time, it was soft enough Alucard doubted it was meant to be heard by anyone. She took a labored step back, and a creak of plastic was the sound of her sinking into the offered chair.

"Dr. Kresnev. How did you receive your injuries?"

Alucard's magic was failing. He felt the bat form trembling. He swallowed frantically, trying to contain the small, flighty soul and keep himself from screeching.

He didn't want to hear this conversation.

"I- I told you," Sypha said, "Trevor had brought a wild animal home. Sedated. But it came round faster than he expected, and-"

"Dr. Kresnev? You expect me to believe that a "wild animal" very methodically broke seven of your fingers?"

Sypha let out a noise like a hiccup, and then shuddered.

"If you were the doctor responsible for a pa