Deprivation, Part 3.

The mage’s mind was still in full gear that evening as he sat at the desk in his small bedroom, reading one of his most useful books of magic by the fast-fading daylight.  He was brushing up on the basics of vampire lore before he undertook more specific research.

This book was old; Devin wondered how much of the “information” on vampires was simple myth.  There was one whole page on the various properties of crosses and their effects on the blood drinkers.  It was a little too religious to take seriously, but Devin knew that some truth lay behind these folk tales.  A person’s belief could empower a focus item, such as a cross, with untrained lifeforce energy, making it some small protection against ill-intent.  The stronger a person’s belief, the stronger the inherent power in the item.  Of course, a trained mage could imbue a cross with true protective magic, but any item would do; there were no particularly special properties of a cross other than the faith it fostered.

The hematite cross that stayed constantly around Devin’s neck was neither a religious nor protective focus; his master had given it to him shortly after the boy had begun his magical studies and had bidden him to wear it at all times.  The young mage had not known the actual function of the cross until Luciel told him: it was a sort of homing device attuned to the angel so that he could find Devin anywhere instantly.  That single property was enough reason for the mage to never remove the pendant.

Obviously, the simple shape of a cross did not dissuade vampires; Allistair had bitten Devin right above the cords of his necklace.  And now that the reluctant blood-drinker had tasted Devin’s supernatural blood, who knew what affected him?

Absorbed in his academic musings, the sudden tapping on the window in front of him made the mage start violently – and when he saw who was outside, he nearly fell backwards out of his chair.  As it was, he only barely managed to jump to his feet, staring out the window incredulously.

Allistair peered through the glass, his pale hair shining in the fading sunlight.  The sheer impossibility of the scene struck Devin into silence for a long moment, until the vampire tapped again, a concerned expression on his face.   Shaking his head sharply, the mage pointed for Allistair to walk around to the door, then went to meet him there, letting him in quickly and shutting the door.  A quick mental tap of Luciel’s shoulder ensured that the angel was paying attention to the strange encounter and would intervene if necessary.

He looked up at the vampire, who was watching him with a tentative smile.  “It seems, Devin, that I came to the right person for my cure,” he said in a tone of quiet elation.

“But I’ve done nothing—” Devin began to say, before he remembered what was taken from him.  “You mean my blood...?”

“It could be nothing else,” Allistair replied, still smiling.  “I can see the sun again!  I watched the sunrise this morning—”

The mage whistled sharply, cutting off the other man’s excited ramble.  “That’s awesome, really, but what about the rest of your vampiric traits?”  Before Allistair could reply, he continued, “I’m going to want to write all this down.  C’mon.”

Still bemused by the whole situation, Devin led the vampire to his room, picking up a notebook and pencil before gesturing for Allistair to sit.  The man settled into the only chair in the small room, leaving Devin to sit on the bed.

It didn’t escape Devin’s attention as Allistair surreptitiously looked around his room, his gaze finally coming to rest on the large books of magic on the desk.  “You’ve been researching, then?” the vampire asked with a gentle smile.  “You truly intend to try to help me?”

If his tone had held even the faintest trace of smugness, Devin would have responded in anger for his presumption.  As it was, though, Allistair simply sounded pleased, even grateful.  It was hard for Devin to maintain his general state of irritation in the face of such a pleasant demeanor.

He could almost forget that this particular man had stolen a quart of blood from him the night before.

“I have my own reasons for pursuing this line of research,” the mage said stiffly.  “If I find anything that sounds promising, I’ll let you know.”

Allistair smiled knowingly.  “In other words, you’re terribly curious, and you’re looking just to find out for yourself.”  Before Devin could form an angry denial, the vampire continued, “Whatever reason you have, it’s good enough for me.  But I think that perhaps your research will be much shorter than either of us suspected."

Devin had his doubts of that; besides his daytime foray, the vampire seemed no different than before.  He swallowed his annoyance and focused on the new knowledge at hand.  “I’m not sure it’s that simple,” he muttered.  “Why don’t you tell me exactly what’s happened to you since...” he cleared his throat, “since last night?”

The vampire locked eyes with him for a long moment, his expression one of pained memory.  “I want to apologize again for my trespass, first, Devin,” he said softly.  "It’s...confusing...when a vampire is attracted to someone –”

Devin held up a hand to stop Allistair’s explanation, a pained look on his face.  “I’ll...take your word for it.  Apology accepted.”  He desperately wanted to change the subject, but Allistair had to get one last shot in.

“Not talking about it isn’t going to make it go away,” the man said with a wry smile.  “But thank you for your forgiveness.  In deference to your wishes, we’ll move the conversation on to more practical things,” he continued in a lightly mocking tone.

Devin’s lip lifted in a little snarl of irritation, but he held his tongue.  He had the distinct feeling that Allistair was fully capable of tossing back any verbal assaults with his own well-aimed little barbs.  “Fine,” he spat.  “Back to what you were saying earlier – what’s happened to you since last night?”

Allistair shifted slightly in the chair, making himself more comfortable.  “Well, to go back to the very beginning, I suppose, I knew from the first taste of your blood that something strange was going on.  It tasted...I don’t know, burning, but sweet – definitely different than normal human blood.  It set all my fingers and toes to tingling.”  He paused with a little shiver, looking up as Devin wrote hastily in his notebook.

“Okay, first taste.  When did you realize you had changed somehow?” the mage asked crisply, all business now.

“Not long after I left you, I was odd.  I could gradually feel sensations that I haven’t felt since I was Turned.”

“’Turned’?  To a vampire, you mean?”  Devin continued his note taking without looking up.

“Precisely.  I had become more or less invulnerable to the air temperature, for instance, but now I can feel uncomfortably cold, as I did last night.”  Allistair looked at his hands, waving his fingers in a gesture indicating sensation.

“Huh, peculiar.  Vulnerable to temperature, what else?”

“Hmm...obviously, I discovered as dawn approached that the sun held no harm for me any longer.  Whatever dark magic makes the sun dangerous to vampires has been countered.”  The man looked over his shoulder at the fading final rays of sunlight with a soft expression of wonder.

“So...”  Devin paused at the sight of such a tender emotion on Allistair’s face; it was almost embarrassing, like he had seen something too personal to be shared.  “, the sun is totally harmless?  No tingling or photosensitivity or anything?”

“Nothing except a little psychosomatic itch,” the vampire admitted with a little grin.  “It’s hard to face the sun after months of hiding from it, but I’ve been getting used to it again all day today.”

“After months” – that implied to Devin that Allistair was a fairly newly-made vampire.  He noted that, resolving to ask later.  “I see...what about, well, bloodthirst?” the mage asked bluntly.

“It’s...different,” Allistair mused.  “It has lessened; I feel that I could go several nights – or should I say days? – without drinking, but...I still feel the craving.”  His voiced dropped as he finished that sentence; he sounded ashamed.

“Hrm...”  Devin looked at his guest uneasily, not sure of his safety.  “What about the other vampiric powers?  Strength, agility, and so on?”

“Ah...they don’t seem to have changed noticeably,” Allistair replied musingly.  “And at this point, I have questions for you.”

“If they’re about my blood, I can’t offer too many answers,” the mage said with a sigh, pausing in his writing.  “I hardly know anything about it.”

“Oh?”  Allistair raised one pale eyebrow in an expression of curiosity.  “Pardon me for asking, but how could you not?  It runs through your veins, after all.”

“Heh.”  Devin shrugged uncomfortably.  “I only found out I was part Faerie a few months ago anyway...”

The vampire was listening intently, his expression gently encouraging Devin to continue, but the mage caught himself.  “Why the hell am I telling you this...”

“I have a feeling that you seldom have the opportunity to confide in anyone.”  After glancing around the room briefly, Allistair added, “Besides your guardian, of course.  But I imagine it’s not quite the same.”  He smiled understandingly, even though Devin had not spoken.

Not that the mage could say much in reply; he couldn’t deny that simple statement, but he certainly wasn’t inclined to voice his agreement.  He gave Allistair a disgruntled look before getting back to the original topic.

“Anyway, like I was saying, I really don’t know much about what this blood does.”  He gestured towards himself.  “It certainly doesn’t seem to have any particular effect on me.  The one thing I do know is that it can enhance the strength of demons’ magic.”

“Demon magic, vampire powers...” Allistair mused.  “I wonder what it could do for an angel?”

Devin felt the air around them heat suddenly, and he knew exactly what had caused it.  “Luciel says not to think about such things,” he said with a smirk.

“I see,” the vampire murmured, smiling ruefully.  “I won’t, then.  But the point still stands – it seems that only supernatural creatures gain anything from your blood.”  He leaned forward, seeming as interested in pursuing the obscure details of the entire matter as Devin himself.

“It stands to reason, I guess.  The Faerie are supernatural creatures themselves, after all.”  Devin’s brows knitted as he considered the point.  “But we’re getting out to left field now.  The issue at hand is whether or not the blood is actually curing you.”

Allistair’s lips lifted in a little smile.  “Not that I don’t agree, but you seem so eager to chase this down and have done with it...  I’m beginning to think that you don’t want to spend time with me!”

The mage could only grind his teeth at that; Allistair’s quip was uncomfortably accurate.  Normally, even as anti-social as he was, he loved delving into minutiae with fellow mages, but he didn’t want to spend any longer with Allistair than he had to.  He found himself wanting to open up to the vampire, who seemed to be as accommodating a listener as he had ever met.  That very trust made the mage instinctively uneasy; he didn’t trust anyone, besides Luciel.  And as the vampire had already pointed out, sharing thoughts with Luciel was not much like talking with another human – or former human.

But in light of Allistair’s behavior the night before, not to mention that line about “vampires being attracted to people” a little while earlier, Devin definitely wanted to keep his contact with Allistair as brief as possible.

All of this ran through the mage’s mind in a moment, so when he finally replied, there was no noticeable pause.

“I was under the impression that you wanted this cure quite badly.  The sooner we discover the true effects of my blood, the sooner we can either rule it out as a possibility, or move forward.”    

The vampire tilted his head to one side and looked at Devin thoughtfully.  “If it turns out that your blood is a true cure, Devin, would you let me take it?”

His tone held no challenge; he simply wanted to know Devin’s thoughts on the matter.  Still, it was a difficult question, and it took the mage a moment to put together an answer.  “If that was the simple solution, then yes, I guess I would give it to you,” he said reluctantly.  Of course, I wouldn’t be able to let you have much at one time...”

“Of course.  Whatever you’re willing to give is very generous,” Allistair said softly, a grateful smile on his expressive face.

“I think you’re getting ahead of yourself,” the mage said, a little more sharply than he intended.  “I’m not sure that the effect of the blood is exactly what you’re looking for.”

“But...Devin, I feel so...revitalized...”  The look on Allistair’s face was just short of pleading, and it was surprisingly hard for Devin to ignore.

Still, it could have all been a ploy to get more of Devin’s empowering blood.  He didn’t want to give it up unless he was damned sure it was the true solution to Allistair’s problem.

“I would like to do a little more research, on my blood and on vampirism, before we take any more action,” the mage said, shaking his head.  “I, uh, hope you can understand...”

“Certainly, Devin; I doubt many people would be eager to give blood to a vampire, even if they are being paid for it.”  Allistair smiled faintly.  “Is there something I can do to help you with your research?”

Devin thought for a moment, then nodded.  “You can tell me what you know of vampire powers and weaknesses; I think at least half of the stuff I’m finding is just old wives’ tales,” he said with an exasperated snort.

“I’ll tell you whatever you want to know, but I’ll warn you now – I don’t know much outside of what I’ve experienced myself.”  The vampire held out his pale hands and looked at them as if examining them.  “It’s not as if there were some underground brotherhood of vampires – at least, I’m not a member of one!”

“Hmm, I see.  Well, any knowledge is useful,” Devin said with a philosophical shrug.  “Make yourself comfortable, this could take a while.”

”It’s fine.  If I’m in here talking to you, I’m not outside being tempted to feed,” Allistair said softly with a sad little smile.

That reminded Devin that he should not have been pursuing more time alone with a creature who he knew wanted his blood, but he needed the information, and as much as he didn’t want to admit it, he did find Allistair’s company pleasant.  The reason for that, however, he didn’t want to stop and think about.

The mage’s only outward reply was a little frown as he turned to a new page in his notebook.  “All right, let’s have at it.”


It was well past midnight when Allistair ran out of information and Devin ran out of questions.  Despite two cups of coffee and a fascinating topic of discussion, the mage was getting quite tired.  As he finished writing a note on the vampire’s last comment, he couldn’t quite hold back a yawn.

Allistair chuckled quietly.  “I should let you rest,” he murmured, rising from his seat.  I think I’ve given you plenty of information to play with for at least another day.”

“Mm-hm.”  Devin tossed the notebook and pencil down and rubbed his face tiredly.  “It’s certainly more than I’ve ever known about vampires.”

As he lowered his hand, he opened his eyes to find Allistair standing much too close for comfort; the look on his face as he leaned slightly down towards Devin was one of amused concern.

“I think that if I still had more to tell you, you’d demand to continue,” the vampire said with a grin.  “But that’s all I’ve got, so get some sleep.”

“I fully intend to, and I don’t need you to tell me to,” Devin growled, but his irritation was muted by fatigue.

“Of course not,” Allistair agreed amiably.  He looked at the mage intently for a moment.  “You said that you were here on vacation,” he mused.  “How much longer do you think you’ll stay?”

Devin shrugged, letting his gaze drop away from the man’s searching look.  “Certainly long enough to finish your case.  I don’t do things halfway.  After that, who knows?”

“I see.”  Allistair’s tone conveyed disappointment.  He reached out and gently tilted Devin’s chin up, forcing the mage to meet his eyes.

“...What are you looking for?” Devin asked, shivering slightly from the cold touch of Allistair’s hand.  The intimacy was unwelcome, but the mage couldn’t bring himself to strike out at Allistair, who seemed to have no ill intent.    What was he looking for, though?  His violet eyes seemed to be desperately searching for something...

“Something that’s been locked away,” Allistair murmured.  Slowly, giving the other man a chance to avoid him if he wished, the vampire leaned in and pressed his lips gently against Devin’s.

The mage struggled with the sudden wave of conflicting emotions that struck him as Allistair kissed him.  Ordinarily, anyone daring to touch him would be, at the very least, pushed away in anger.  He had done as much to Allistair the night before.  But now...

The vampire obviously had no intention to force him into anything.  Rather, it seemed like he was trying to slowly gain Devin’s trust, like someone coaxing a wary animal to his hand.  Why, Devin couldn’t imagine; beyond his looks, he knew he was no prize, but Allistair didn’t seem like the type to settle for looks alone...

Even less fathomable was Devin’s own rapidly changing attitude towards the man.  As shy as he was of emotional ties, he found himself thinking that a friend – maybe more – would be a welcome change in his solitary life.  He was of half a mind to give in and show Allistair the thing he was hiding, the thing that was “locked away” – his heart.  The vampire understood Devin entirely too well – and that realization sent the mage’s mind veering in the other direction.

He didn’t know and trust anyone well enough to open up his heart and his strange past to them – and while that might change with time, one thing that might not change was the simple fact that Allistair was a vampire.  He remembered his bout of soul-searching that morning, and suddenly, letting himself get emotionally bound up with this creature didn’t seem like such a great idea.

So after several heartbeats of unfamiliar sweetness, Devin turned his face away and gave Allistair a little push.  “Don’t touch me,” he said in an unemotional voice.  He felt Allistair looking at him, but didn’t dare look up at whatever expression was on the vampire’s face.

“Devin...?”  Allistair’s hands came to rest gently on his shoulders, but he shrugged them off roughly.

“I said don’t,” he said, his voice growing sharper.  He finally looked up at Allistair, who was gazing at him with a mix of pain, sadness, and pity on his face.

“What are you so afraid of?” the vampire asked softly, but he didn’t expect an answer.  “What made you like this...?”

Devin only glared at him in reply.  He owed the man no explanations – even though it seemed that he had figured out a few things already.  It was something that had happened to Devin in the past that had made him so wary of emotion – at least, in part.  The mage thought it odd, in the back of his mind, that Allistair didn’t seem to think that Devin might find his vampiric affliction a cause for avoidance.  Maybe it was simply because he was so confident of being cured.

If he was cured...what would Devin think of him then?  Would he be ready to finally open himself up to someone?  A dozen similar questions prodded him, but he didn’t really want to dwell on something that might only be an unobtainable daydream.

“I guess...I’ll let you get to bed, then,” Allistair murmured, looking down at the floor.  “May I come see you tomorrow?”  He glanced up at Devin, still looking a little hurt.

“It’s not like I can stop you,” the mage growled, turning away.  “Whatever suits you.  But I can’t get any work done if you’re bothering me.”

“’Bothering’ you.”  Allistair’s voice registered a slight amused irritation.  “I see.  Well...if you need to speak with me for some reason,” and the vampire’s resigned tone acknowledged that as a faint possibility, “certainly your guardian can find me.”  Without waiting for a reply, he turned and left the room without looking back.  A moment later, Devin heard the front door open and close.

His mood was now as dark as the sky outside.  Allistair had put him in the unusual position of actually being ashamed of his behavior, and that only made him angrier.  Who was this man to make him feel bad for trying to protect himself?  What the hell did he really want?

The mage was glad that Luciel did not put in an appearance; he had the feeling that the angel would chide him for his meanness.  But what else was he supposed to do?  He was almost desperate to keep Allistair at a distance – letting him get close held too many risks.  If being rude was the only way to do it, well...coldness was something Devin excelled at.

As he collapsed into bed a few minutes later, he had to forcibly shut out his circling, confused thoughts, which flitted back and forth between the sweet nervousness of Allistair’s kiss and the anger and resentment he felt for the man at the moment.  Neither was conducive to sleep, and sleep was what he desperately needed, to wash away the night’s events and cover them with a veil of distance for the next day. 

Despite the mental discipline that years of magic training had honed, however, Devin’s last conscious thought was the undeniably pleasant memory of cool lips pressed gently against his own.


Part 2 Back to the Office Part 4

Hah!  I bet you thought Allistair was going to bite Devin again. ^-^  But he's a little stronger than that. I'm kind of amused to be able to play off of Devin's internal attitude -- he hasn't really had a chance to be ashamed of himself since "Definition", and I didn't get into it much there.  Seems, tho, that only people he cares about (hmm...) can make him really feel sorry for his behavior.