Deprivation, Part 6.
With a growl of vexation, Devin snatched up his notepad and
pencil and threw himself into his chair, ready to attack.
“All right. First, do you
have something of your maker’s? Luciel can use it as a focus to find him.”
Allistair wore a look of guilt as he reached under his
long, pale hair and unclasped the thin gold chain around his neck.
“He...gave this to me some time ago,” the vampire said quietly,
handing the necklace to Luciel, who had reappeared at Devin’s mention of him.
The angel gave him an encouraging little smile – making
Devin scowl again – before closing his eyes and concentrating on his search.
After a moment, he opened his eyes with an expression of puzzlement.
“I can’t find him!” He
turned to Allistair for an explanation.
– that’s his name, Jason Garamond – is a mage, I understand,” Allistair
murmured. “I know very little
about it; he never let me see him using magic.”
Probably because he knew you had mage-potential and
didn’t want you to learn anything, Devin thought. I imagine that had something to do with why he wanted you.
“Then he’s a mage of some accomplishment, to be so close and hide his presence from me so completely,” Luciel was saying. “We may have a problem.”
“We do have a problem,” Devin growled, joining
the conversation. “Now we’re
going to have to play by his rules – once he lets us find him.”
“He may not know about you,” Allistair said
“That would be too much to hope for,” the mage replied
sourly. “We can’t assume that
kind of advantage.”
even if he knows you’re a mage, Devin, he certainly won’t know what you’re
capable of,” Luciel pointed out.
“True enough,” Devin acknowledged with a little smirk.
“I guess I’d better finish that stake.”
“Stake?” Allistair asked, looking around the room with
a hint of concern.
“It’s out in the main room, and it’s not a stake
quite yet,” Devin explained, shrugging. “I
found the pattern during my reading, and I thought it might be useful.”
He belatedly realized as he spoke that the conclusion Allistair would
probably come to was that the mage was creating the weapon as a safeguard
Indeed, the vampire’s face clouded for a moment in
He cleared his throat and looked at Luciel as the angel held out the gold
“Since I can’t use it,” Luciel said with a smile and
a helpless shrug.
“I...shouldn’t wear it anymore,” Allistair murmured,
taking the necklace and pocketing it. “Not
really sure why I kept it...”
“As a reminder of a happier time?” the angel suggested.
Devin listened in silence, wondering how much of his past Allistair would
“Impossible,” the vampire said with a tight smile,
“since there were no happier times with him...”
“Care to elaborate?” Luciel asked gently.
Allistair snorted mirthlessly. “I doubt Devin wishes to waste time hearing about my sordid
Again, Devin withheld the sharp retort that rose to his
lips. The truth was, he did
want to hear Allistair’s story, but he was typically reluctant to admit it.
He recalled that the vampire had been perfectly willing to be a listening
ear for him; it would be pretty damned
ungracious to do any less in return.
“It could provide insight into this Jason’s personality or motivation,” the mage said diffidently. “But I’m going to work on that stake while I listen.” Putting action to words, he rose and headed for the main room.
“Don’t you want breakfast?” Luciel asked, sounding
Devin stopped short at the bedroom door; he had had too
much occupying his attention since waking up to even remember his normal morning
routine. Shaking his head in mild
disbelief, he continued into the kitchen. “Hey,
Allistair,” he called as he set up a pot of very strong coffee.
vampire peered out from the bedroom door.
“You said before that because of my blood, you were
less... uh... driven to drink,” Devin mused.
“Do you feel any hunger for real food?”
Allistair looked thoughtful as he considered the answer.
“No,” he said finally, “and quite frankly, the smell of that coffee
is turning my stomach.” He smiled
mage rummaged around for something to eat while his beverage brewed.
“So how are you feeling after last night?
“Subtle ones, I think.
I feel more... alive... like my
body is reawakening in some way. I
can’t quite explain it.” The
smile he flashed at Devin was uncharacteristically shy.
“I see....” Well,
that went along with what Devin had noticed earlier; if Allistair felt more
alive, that could well be caused by the new warmth of his body.
The whole phenomenon was altogether bizarre.
“I guess the real question is: are you feeling any less vampiric?”
The mage dropped two halves of a bagel into the toaster and poured
himself a cup of coffee as he spoke.
“Yes,” Allistair said carefully, “But still not...
“Well... it may just be that a cure takes time,” Devin
mused, “or we could just be trying the wrong thing.”
“I seem to be improving every time,” the vampire said
“This is true,” Devin admitted. “And god knows I don’t know what else to try...”
He stirred the sugar in his coffee distractedly.
“Here’s another question – do you think, now, that you’d still be
vulnerable to your maker trying to control you?”
“I’m really not sure.”
Allistair sat down at the small round kitchen table, resting his chin on
his hands. “It was a bit
touch-and-go when I left him; he was losing his hold on me...”
mage retrieved his food from the toaster and joined his guest at the table.
“Er... you don’t mind if I eat, do you?”
“Of course not,” the other man laughed.
“It’s not as if you could share it with me anyway.
“All right. Well...
do you want to tell us more about this Jason character?” Devin included Luciel in his question, even though the angel
was unobtrusively keeping out of sight.
Allistair looked as if he was going to force another
concession out of the mage, another admission of interest, but then he smiled
enigmatically and closed his eyes. “I’m
not sure how helpful it may be, Devin, but yes, I’ll tell you.”
He was silent for a long moment, gathering his thoughts;
Devin watched him, noting irrelevantly that the vampire had long, pale gold
eyelashes that made him look even more ethereal. Actually, with more natural color in his skin now, he looked
more like what Devin imagined a Faerie to look like – more so than Devin
himself, with his dark blonde hair and sullen eyes.
Allistair looked up at him then with one of his sad little
smiles. “I thought I had left
this pain behind,” he said softly, “but it all comes back when I think about
“If it’s too hard to talk about, don’t worry about
it,” the mage said hastily.
“No, it’s all right, and... I do want to tell you,” Allistair murmured. “I suppose I should begin at the beginning, as they say.”
“As you like,” Devin said, trying to sound amiable.
“It was about a year ago that I met Jason.
I’m a photographer; did I ever tell you that?
I was at Kew Gardens for an orchid show, and while I was waiting for the
evening crowds to thin in the greenhouse, I saw him.
“He’s one of those people who you simply must
look at as they walk by. It’s not
that he’s strange-looking – unless you consider ‘exceptionally handsome’
strange. Early thirties, brown hair, hypnotic hazel-ish eyes, a strong
jawline, and an air of superiority: it all kind of hits you at once.
“Of course, he noticed my watching, so he came to talk to
me. He seemed quite interested in
my work and hung around to watch as I took my pictures, and then we went out for
coffee. And, well, that was the
start of this very strange nightmare...”
Devin sat through the narrative quietly, eating his
breakfast with his eyes and attention fixed firmly on Allistair.
He hadn’t been making excuses before – knowing how the older vampire
had treated his spawn might provide some insight into how to deal with him.
But even beyond that practical consideration, he did
want to hear about Allistair’s past, as it seemed the two of them had a lot in
After a slight pause, the vampire resumed his story.
“As you can probably guess, I was a bit smitten with Jason from the
start. We began seeing each other,
and he let me believe that he was having an extramarital affair with me; that
handily explained the need for secrecy and the clandestine nighttime dates.
I began growing distant from my friends – and I’ve never had very
many to begin with – because they knew I was hiding something. I often felt guilty for lying to them, and for carrying on
with a married man... but I went on doing it anyway.
“Honestly, the basis of our... relationship... was
physical. The worst part was, I had
always considered that kind of relationship pretty shallow, and there I was, in
total hypocrisy and not caring, because it was that damned good. The catch was,
though, that it was all just the bait of a really sticky trap.
“He lived in a pretty large house on the outskirts of
Cambridge; some nights we’d sneak directly into the basement from outside
and... well, you know. He always
told me not to go there during the day, and never at all unless he was bringing
me there himself. Of course, this
was perfectly logical if he had had a wife and family there.
But one day, about six months ago, I was in the area for an assignment,
so I thought I’d discreetly drive by, to see what the house actually looked
like in full daylight.
“Much to my surprise, the house was empty.
Feeling more curious than wise, I walked in – the doors were not
locked. Besides the furnishings
that I knew were in the basement rooms below, the house appeared to have been
uninhabited for quite some time.
“I tried to open one door that I had guessed led to the
basement, and something... hit me, I guess.
I think I must have been knocked out, because I didn’t wake up until
that night, when Jason found me.
“I thought he’d be angry, but he seemed more amused
than mad. But... as I learned
later, he usually fed as soon as he awoke in the evening, and I happened to be
the first human he came across. He
said something to the effect that he had been waiting to do this for quite some
time, and then he was on me.
“I was so surprised that I never had a chance to escape.
His first bite made me disoriented and weak; after a little drink, he
carried me downstairs to his true dwelling place, and...
we had sex. Or maybe you
could call it rape, since I certainly was in no position to refuse him. And while... we were doing that, he drank from me again.”
It sounded altogether too familiar to Devin; he
concentrated on Allistair’s face to keep from thinking of Sikhander.
He was glad that he was finished eating, as the topic was definitely one
that made him quickly lose his appetite.
Allistair smiled wanly at the mage’s obvious discomfort.
“That night sort of set the pattern for the months to come,” he
continued. “He kept me prisoner
there in the basement, by the simple measure of placing things too heavy for me
to move in front of the doors. No
one outside could hear me from underground, and there were no windows.
Later I found out that Jason had had the house built specifically to be
an ideal hiding-place for a vampire, but it doubled very well as a prison.
I lived in comfort, physically, except, I guess, for the lack of
sunlight. Mentally, though... well,
I have the feeling you can easily imagine what it was like.
“He didn’t feed on me every night, of course; that
would have killed me. Sometimes he
just took little tastes – more as a way to reinforce his control over me than
to really feed. But as time wore
on, I began to feel.... lifeless, I guess.
Emotionally, that is. I
just... started to shut down, to the point where Jason’s... attentions...
weren’t impacting me anymore.
Of course, he noticed the change, so one night he took the
final step and Turned me, so I could ‘be his forever’... his words, not
mine. I think that I realized, that
night, that while he was not precisely in love
with me, he was quite... obsessed. I’m
still not sure exactly why, but... he wanted
me, wanted to possess me, and by Turning me, he could have that control.
“Things continued in somewhat the same way; he kept me a
virtual prisoner, which was actually much easier than before, since he could
control me by our blood-tie. I
learned, to my dismay, that for a vampire, sex means nothing. It’s a mildly pleasant feeling, and nothing more.
The impact is entirely psychological; for Jason, it was another way to
reinforce his power over me. It
meant nothing, as I said... and yet, I still wanted it, cursing myself all the
“I often debated with myself whether or not I deserved
this, since I, somewhere in the dark depths of my heart, wanted it, in a twisted
way. I see in your eyes that you
Allistair interrupted his narrative to meet Devin’s gaze.
The mage shivered – it was a
state of mind he was acquainted with. He
gave the man a lot of credit for being able to speak of the subject at all, let
alone with the cool, reflective tone he was using.
The vampire’s violet eyes were still on Devin’s face,
his expression unreadable. Devin
got the impression, however, that Allistair was very curious as to what
experiences in the mage’s past enabled him to sympathize with such a tale.
“So,” Allistair resumed, looking at his hands spread on
the table, “I was filled with a certain amount of self-loathing.
Besides the fact that I had – perhaps willingly – gotten myself into
such a predicament, I was now a creature designed to prey on humans.
I... don’t like to kill, as you know.
I never... opened myself up to the pleasures of feeding, though Jason
constantly tried to force me to do so. With
his control over me, he could and did make me kill my victims.
But three months was not long enough for him to totally break me down, I
suppose. I could never be like
Jason; he’s one of those who likes to toy with his prey, and I found that
“One night, several weeks ago, we crossed paths with
another, older vampire – Jason himself is around 100, but this man was
slightly older. He and Jase got
into a rather convoluted (to me, at least) argument about hunting territories,
which turned into a full-blown fight. With
Jason distracted and unable to exert his power over me, I made a break for it
and fled north – here. And the
rest, you know.” The man
finished his tale with a quiet sigh.
Devin was silent for a long moment, reviewing the story in
his head. It certainly displayed
Jason’s personality – sadistic, cruel, and patient. Not a combination that boded well for those trying to fight
“One question: how did he find you here?” the mage
asked, since Allistair had not explained exactly what had sent him running to
Devin’s door the night before.
not exactly sure how he tracked me here, but I’m sure a mage would have ways
to do that?” At Devin’s nod, he
continued, “Well, he came to my shelter – I’ve been staying in the wreck
of a barn a bit to the west of here – and hid there until I returned, when he
“I think, perhaps, that your blood maybe have given me
some little prescience, or perhaps it’s just some extra sense I’ve had as a
vampire and never much used; either way, I stopped just outside the threshold,
which threw off his timing. He
leaped out and grabbed me, and we wrestled – that’s how I got hurt – but
he never got the chance to get a good hold on me, and I slipped into wolf form
and bolted.” Allistair laughed
quietly. “Of course, he chased me
as a hound, just because he was sure he could catch me, and he’s always
enjoyed a chase. I think the
proximity of the town made him wary, though, so he didn’t follow me all the
“Huh... I see. Sounds
like he’s pretty canny...” Devin observed, thinking about tactics against
such an opponent.
“Extremely so. By
all means, Devin, don’t underestimate him.”
The vampire wore a look of earnest concern.
Devin nodded in acknowledgement. “I guess I’d better finish that stake – it might make a
difference, in the end.”
still looked uncomfortable with the thought of the anti-vampire weapon, but he
said nothing further on the matter.
As the mage stood to retrieve his carving tools, however,
Allistair asked, almost timidly, “May I... stay here until tonight?”
Devin looked at the man warily, but he no longer felt that
Allistair was dangerous – not physically, at any rate.
As far as the mage was concerned, Allistair posed a certain danger to his
carefully crafted façade of coldness, but... wouldn’t Luciel argue that that
was an excellent reason to let him stay?
Unable to make up his mind to kick him out, Devin waved his
hand in a gesture of indifference. “If
you want, I guess.” He intended
to fetch his tools before Allistair could say anything, but before he had done
more than step out from behind the table, the vampire intercepted him.
For a moment, Devin thought that he was going to be bitten again, but
Allistair merely grasped his shoulders and looked into his eyes.
“...What?” the mage muttered irritably, feeling
“I hope that some time, you’ll trust me as much as I
trust you,” Allistair said quietly with a little smile. He kissed Devin lightly, his lips barely brushing the
mage’s, and then released him, as if to spare him further discomfiture.
It didn’t help, because Devin felt the blood rising to his face as he stepped away. Ducking his head, he went to get his tools without a word, nevertheless thinking about Allistair’s comment. It did imply a lot of trust for the vampire to share his painful past with Devin... but would Devin ever feel that secure with Allistair? His cynical side doubted it, but his (admittedly repressed) softer side had hopes that he was almost afraid to even consider, as if concentrating on them would dash their chances at ever being realized.
Hmm, that took a little too long to write. I guess I've been a bit sidetracked lately, which is kind of bad, since this story is so close to being finished. Then again, I've thought it was close to being finished for two chapters now, and it keeps getting looooonger. ;) I don't know where all these words are coming from; I had no intention to make this story so long, but now it seems that cutting it shorter would be making it too brief... gwah. Before starting "Deprivation", I had several pages of "Desperation" done, but now it looks like I may have to scrap those, because the scale this story has grown to is gonna make "Desp." look bad in its current style. ;)
Heh, in a way, Jason is a worse villain than Sikhander... at least Sikka was honest about his intentions!