Deprivation, Part 5.
Devin stared at Allistair
for a long dumbstruck moment. His maker?
Allistair had said before that he had “escaped” the older vampire’s
control, but apparently he wasn’t in the clear yet, if he was still this
“His animal form is a big
dog?” was the first thing the mage could think to say out loud; there would be
more time later to discuss exactly why the older vampire was looking for his
Allistair sat up slowly and
leaned against the cabinets, obviously in pain. “Big black dog,” he croaked, wincing at the pain in his
The mage winced in sympathy,
chiding himself for not healing the vampire immediately.
“Look, Allistair, hold still for a moment, I’m gonna try and heal
you.” He raised his hand to begin
the spell, but no power came at his silent call.
“You can’t use a healing
spell on a vampire,” Luciel’s voice reminded him. “You’ll only burn him.”
“Shit, that’s right.”
Devin felt stupid for forgetting one of the basics of healing magic: it
didn’t work on undead creatures like vampires.
Of course, it was possible that Allistair was no longer strictly undead
after taking Devin’s blood...but now was not the time to experiment.
“Need blood,” Allistair
rasped, a look of real misery crossing his face. “S’the fastest way...”
Well, it looked like Devin would learn a little more about the effects of
his blood, and sooner than he would have liked.
He was not going to let Allistair prey on one of the townspeople to heal
himself; they had only just thanked him for chasing off the “ghost” that had
been mysteriously attacking people. On
the other hand, it seemed downright cruel to let the man suffer until his
vampiric constitution repaired the damage.
“Damn,” the mage spat as
he went looking for a glass and a blade. He
felt Allistair watching him as he paced around the cottage, but the vampire
could not speak loud enough to be heard more than a few feet away.
When Devin returned to his side a few minutes later, Allistair looked at
the items he had brought and smiled weakly.
“Can’t drink cold
blood,” he managed to say, glancing at the glass Devin held.
The mage glared at him in a
combination of irritation and chagrin. “You
need it fresh from the source, huh?” He sighed at Allistair’s nod.
“My luck. Well...might as
well get it over with and get you back on your feet. Last thing I need is a vampire bleeding all over the floor of
a rented house.”
Devin’s bantering tone
couldn’t quite mask the twinge of nervousness he felt as he knelt next to
Allistair again. Despite the fact
that the vampire had bitten him before, there seemed to be something unnatural
about voluntarily giving oneself to a blood-drinker.
“Look,” he muttered,
“can you er... drink from my wrist or something?
The whole neck thing is kinda...”
He trailed off, unable to put the feeling of intrusion into words.
“It might hurt more,” he rasped with a hint of a smile as he grasped
Devin’s hand lightly and pulled the mage’s wrist towards his mouth.
Devin watched with morbid
curiosity as Allistair’s eyes appeared to glaze over; it provided a
distraction from the pain of sharp teeth sinking into his arm. As the blood began to flow, the vampire shuddered, his eyes
half-lidded, and moaned in a way that made the mage distinctly uncomfortable.
He knew well what it felt like when one’s body craved something that
the mind hated, and that self-loathing was audible in Allistair’s voice. Even if the man was cured of his need for blood, Devin
morosely wondered if the addiction would be cured as well. His analytical detachment only lasted a few minutes, however,
until he began to feel dizzy. Allistair
was draining him very quickly, which wasn’t too surprising, given the state
the vampire was in, but at that rate, Luciel might have to forcibly pull Devin
away before his life was actually in danger.
In a matter of moments,
Devin began to feel faint. He
slowly leaned into Allistair, who wrapped one arm around him and pulled him
closer. With a palpable effort of
willpower, the vampire gently disengaged from Devin’s wrist and held the
mage’s hand against the rapidly healing gashes on his neck.
“Thank you, Devin,” he
murmured, his voice back to its normal velvety tenor. “I am even further in your debt.”
“Debt that you don’t
seem to be paying,” Devin mumbled, avoiding the vampire’s attempts to meet
his eyes. The last thing he needed
right now was to be accidentally mesmerized because he was too weak to resist
and Allistair too clumsy to control his own power.
He felt dangerously tired; Allistair had taken even more blood this time
than before, and the only reason the mage didn’t let himself pass out was that
there was a prowling vampire outside to be dealt with.
Luciel, in his typical way,
seemed to read his protégé’s mind. “Devin,
I think we’re safe enough for now; no one is going to find Allistair here.”
The angel’s voice was smug; his wards were incredibly strong.
“What if the guy gets
hungry?” the mage asked crossly, referring to the older vampire.
Allistair shook his head.
“He’s not likely to reveal himself by hunting in the village,” he
said grimly. “And if he does, he’ll be very canny about it.”
Devin was struggling to keep his eyes open.
“So...we rest tonight, make a game plan, find him during the day
tomorrow while he sleeps, end of story.”
With his mind heavy with fatigue, it took him a painfully long time to
get that sentence out.
Allistair said dubiously. “Are
you going to be all right by then...?” His
voice was tinged with guilt.
“He’ll be healthy
enough,” Luciel reassured the worried vampire.
“But pick him up and carry him to bed, would you?
I can’t manifest while I’m holding these wards.”
Allistair looked at Devin
uncertainly, remembering that the mage really did not like to be touched.
The younger man seemed to
have passed out after his last comment; his eyes were closed, and his
characteristic frown had faded. Allistair
smiled slightly at this rare glimpse of the mage in a relaxed state.
If only he could ever be so relaxed when he was awake...
Carefully, the vampire rose,
one arm under Devin’s shoulders and the other behind his knees.
While lifting a human was more or less effortless for him, he still
noticed that the mage was unexpectedly light.
The plague of the scholar, he
mused as he carried Devin to the bedroom, forgetting
to feed the body as well as the mind.
With just a little
reluctance, he laid his burden down on the bed and looked him over.
Devin hadn’t been wearing shoes, and his clothes looked comfortable
enough, but the belt would probably best be taken off.
Biting his lip, Allistair cautiously unbuckled the heavy belt, expecting
the mage to wake up at any moment and deck him, or at the very least, snarl at
“Probably a good idea,”
said Luciel’s disembodied voice, making Allistair start slightly.
The baritone voice laughed quietly.
“I’m sorry, Allistair; Devin’s used to it – probably because he
can sense my presence, even if he can’t actually see me.”
Allistair nodded as he
slowly pulled the mage’s belt off. His
caution did not appear to be necessary, however – Devin was still unconscious.
“Cover him, would you?
He’s going to be cold until he has a decent amount of blood in him
again,” the angel suggested.
“Oh, of course.”
Allistair drew the bedsheets over the mage, smiling slightly as he
imagined what kind of choice comments the man would have if he were still awake.
After a moment, a faint light shone around Devin’s body, gleaming for
several seconds and then fading. The
mage stirred slightly and turned onto his side, but did not wake.
“There’s not much more I
can do for blood loss besides accelerate the production of new blood,” Luciel
said by way of explanation.
That only made Allistair
feel guiltier. He was somewhat
surprised by the angel’s apparently friendly demeanor, especially considering
the harsh way Luciel had spoken to him the first night they had met.
He wondered what had caused the change of heart – and if it could be a
reflection of a similar change on Devin’s part.
As if reading the
vampire’s mind, Luciel said, “Don’t let his attitude fool you; he likes
you more than he’s willing to admit, even to himself.”
His tone carried a smile.
Surprised at Luciel’s openness, Allistair looked down at the sleeping
mage, wondering what had made the man so guarded.
if I’m any better, really, he chided
let my guard down once before, and look what happened to me.
Still, Devin certainly
couldn’t harm him that way. Nor
would he likely want to; from the mage’s careful questioning several nights
ago, Allistair guessed that someone or something had used Devin in a similar
fashion to how Jason had treated Allistair...
The thought of his sadistic
maker made the man shiver uncontrollably for a moment.
He would honestly rather be destroyed than have to be Jason’s slave
“Are you all right, Allistair?” asked Luciel’s warm
voice. “Or is Devin’s blood
doing something to you again...?”
“I – I’m fine, sir.
And...I don’t feel anything definite right now, just that sort
of...tingly feeling.” He had been
almost too weak to (shamefully) savor the taste of the mage’s blood, but it
seemed to have healed him more quickly than an equal amount of human blood would
have done. He wondered if Devin had
learned anything from the pile of unfamiliar books currently on the small desk.
He hoped desperately that Devin was, indeed, the key to his cure.
Not that that was the only reason he wanted to be around the mage...
“Please, you don’t need
to call me ‘sir’,” Luciel laughed. “Hah,
it’s been a while since anyone’s addressed me that way...”
Allistair smiled sheepishly.
“Yes, Devin certainly isn’t that formal, is he?”
“Never has been,” Luciel
agreed. “But that’s just how he
is. It’s not a lack of respect,
it’s our closeness.”
A dog barked outside; from
the high pitch of the voice, Allistair could tell that is wasn’t Jason, and he
forced himself to relax a little. If
Luciel said that no one would be able to find him there, he would have faith in
“You might as well
rest,” the angel advised him, noticing his jumpiness.
“When Dev wakes up, he’s going to want to interrogate you about your
As if responding to the
sound of his name, Devin made a wordless noise and snuggled deeper into his
blankets. The childlike image
brought another smile to Allistair’s face.
“Are there extra blankets
and so on?” he asked, looking around. It
was rather strange to try and have a conversation with someone you couldn’t
see; there was no face to look at, and no eyes to meet.
there was a soft chuckle, “the warmest spot to sleep is certainly the bed.”
Before Allistair could
interpret that remark, he felt a curious absence of a presence he hadn’t
actually noticed while it was there. He
figured that it must have been Luciel leaving the room.
But what had the angel meant by his parting shot?
Was it just a jibe? Or,
given Luciel’s openness so far, was it a nudge in Devin’s direction?
Regardless of the angel’s
intentions, however, there was still Devin’s attitude to deal with. Allistair
grinned to himself as he imagined the mage’s possible reactions to waking up
with Allistair – ever so chastely – sleeping beside him.
certainly know Devin’s heart, better than anyone, and if he had suggested
Well, regardless of where he
was sleeping, he needed to get out of his bloody clothes.
He stripped off his ruined shirt with distaste, tying it into a bundle
and dropping it in the wastebasket; it wasn’t worth saving.
He was about to shuck his pants when modesty reasserted itself and he
realized that he didn’t have anything else to wear in their place.
Devin won’t mind if I borrow something of his for the time being.
The mage seemed eminently practical, and very fastidious; surely he would
understand Allistair’s desire to be out of his bloodstained clothing.
Quietly, though the chances of waking Devin up seemed slim, he searched
through the chest next to the bed for something suitable.
A moment’s digging turned up a pair of loose cotton pants that seemed
to be made for sleeping in; he slipped them on, finding them only an inch or two
too short; good enough.
The vampire looked again at
Devin’s serene expression and smiled, unable to help himself.
I hope he doesn’t kill me for
this... Tentatively, he sat on
the edge of the bed and laid one hand gently on Devin’s arm.
The mage murmured sleepily, but did not move away or strike out as
suppose that’s a good sign...and Luciel hasn’t come to knock me silly,
either, so just maybe...
Holding his breath, he
pulled back the blankets and eased into the bed, not daring to touch Devin, even
though he was so temptingly close...
He lay there for a long
while, keenly aware with his heightened senses of the mage sleeping right next
to him. Just the scent of Devin’s
hair, imbued into the pillows, was enough to reawaken sensations that the
vampire had thought lost with his humanity.
it simply that no one has brought out these feelings before Devin?
Or is his blood truly curing me? Perhaps
He sighed, wishing on one
hand that he dared do more than simply lay next to Devin, and on the other that
the mage were willing to let him do
As it was, he contented
himself with lightly kissing Devin’s cheek before turning over and trying to
Devin woke slowly, trying to
remember why he felt so groggy. He
became aware of two things at once – first, the memory of feeding Allistair to
let the vampire heal, and second, that Allistair was lying next to him, curled
up on his side with his back towards Devin.
The mage’s first instinct
was to jump out of bed and hurl a fireball at the sleeping vampire, but he
ground his teeth and clamped down on the urge for violence. To be fair, Allistair hadn’t touched him...or had he?
No, Devin realized, Luciel would have never let anything happen to him...
but the meddlesome angel had let this particular incident slip by unchallenged...
As he was thinking of
unpleasant things to say to Luciel, he realized that the bed was quite
comfortably warm. Curiously, he
laid a hand on Allistair’s bare shoulder.
warm now, the mage discovered,
skin was cold before – a vampire is undead, after all – but now...
At Devin’s touch,
Allistair made a little sleepy sound, his eyelids fluttering. In the ambient morning light from the window, it seemed that
he had more color to his skin than before, as well. Unless Devin was trying to delude himself...
need to ask him if he’s felt any changes since last night, the
mage thought. If
I’m not just imagining things to get
my hopes up, the blood may actually be working...
“Good morning,” Luciel
called softly from the door. Apparently
he had lifted his wards, since Allistair’s maker could not threaten them
during the daylight hours.
“Was this your
idea?” Devin growled without preamble as he slipped out of the bed.
“Are you complaining?”
the angel asked knowingly.
Devin bit his lip,
uncharacteristically hesitant to snap out the instinctive denial that came to
mind. He glanced at Allistair, who
wore a faint smile as he slept. Had
Devin, too, found unconscious contentment in the simple closeness of sleeping
next to someone?
He scowled; these two were
neatly outmaneuvering him into acknowledging his feelings, and that was
irritating. Feeling uncharitable,
he shook Allistair’s shoulder to wake him.
The vampire made an
inarticulate noise, then sat up suddenly, seemingly surprised to realize where
he was. He looked up uncertainly at
Devin, who stood at the bedside with his arms crossed.
“Good morning...?” he
proffered with a small smile.
muttered, turning away.
Allistair’s voice carried a note of entreaty; the mage didn’t turn to
look at him, but heard him climbing out of bed.
A moment later, pale arms slid around his waist from behind, and he was
pulled back gently into Allistair’s embrace.
“Don’t touch – ”
“Devin, please...” the
vampire said softly, his voice near Devin’s ear. “Don’t keep pushing me away just out of principle...”
“Don’t assume you
understand me,” Devin mumbled, closing his eyes in aggravation. Even without looking, he noticed Luciel making himself
scarce, the coward.
“Why not, when I do
understand this?” Allistair pleaded.
“You’ve been hurt badly, and now you’re afraid to be touched...”
“What makes you think,”
the mage said venomously, “that you
have the right?”
“The right to touch you?
Perhaps I’m overstepping my bounds a bit...but,”
Allistair raised his voice slightly to override Devin’s interruption, “the
right to care...? It’s just
that... I think I’m fall – ”
“Don’t,” Devin snapped, breaking out of Allistair’s loose hold
and whirling to glare at the taller man. He
did not want to hear the rest of what
the vampire had been about to say. He
didn’t even want to think about it too deeply, as daydream-tempting as it
Allistair’s eyes met the
mage’s with a certain wistfulness. “Can
you look me in the eyes like this, Devin, and tell me that you haven’t missed
me these past few days?”
“Modest, aren’t you?”
Devin growled, even as he felt blood rising to his face. “Arrogant prick...”
“Calling me names isn’t
going to change anything,” the vampire murmured, amused. “I’ll openly admit that I’ve missed you...”
He took one step closer to Devin, who backed away.
“Missed me, or got
thirsty?” Devin shot back, trying to regain his mental footing and get out of
this emotional morass. As immune as
he generally was to harsh words and threatening glances, he grew slightly paler
at the look of cold anger Allistair leveled at him.
“How dare you,” the man
whispered, his violet eyes flashing. “You
foul-tempered git. Here I am,
baring my heart to you, and you snap at me like a mad dog.”
In his distress, his native burr was becoming more apparent.
“I don’t want to hear
what you have to say,” Devin spat, his hands clenched at his sides.
“You came to me with a business proposition, Mr. Douglas, and
I’d like to keep it that way – strictly business.”
Allistair said flatly, apparently fed up with the mage’s denial.
“And that, I don’t understand.”
His voice dropped back into coaxing tones.
“Is it that hard to admit you have feelings for someone?”
In the back of his mind,
Devin found it bitterly amusing that the vampire could guess at one reason for
his reticence, but not another. As
it was, he was struggling to hold his tongue, to keep from shouting at Allistair
that it was the man’s vampirism that was the largest stumbling block.
Cold he might be, but the mage knew that such a statement would crush
Allistair, which he had no real desire to do.
He realized as he stood
there, glaring at the vampire, that he was trembling slightly with emotional
strain, and took a deep breath to calm himself. “Look. I do
not want to discuss this right now – especially since we have serious work
to do. Your maker is out there
somewhere, sleeping and vulnerable, and we need to do what we need to do
“Lucky for you,”
Allistair murmured, tilting his head slightly to one side with a challenging
look. His voice carried a certain
amount of exasperation, along with a warning that this conversation was far from
Whee, more character-depth. ^^; This is the first time I've slipped the 3rd-person into Allistair's viewpoint; I wasn't ever planning on doing so, but I took the time to play around with what he was thinking for a little bit. I may do so again... hmm.
For whatever reason, I'm having a very hard time breaking up chapters in this story. >_< This really could have gone on longer, but that would have made for a really long chapter... blargh.