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 shaken.

“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 runaway spawn.

Allistair sat up slowly and leaned against the cabinets, obviously in pain.  “Big black dog,” he croaked, wincing at the pain in his throat.

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.

Allistair nodded.  “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.”

“Hmm.”  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.

“Sounds workable,” 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.  “Devin...?”

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 him.

“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.

“Ah...”  Surprised at Luciel’s openness, Allistair looked down at the sleeping mage, wondering what had made the man so guarded.

As if I’m any better, really, he chided himself.  I 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 again.

 “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 that.

“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 maker.”

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.

“Of course...but...” 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.

Still...Luciel would certainly know Devin’s heart, better than anyone, and if he had suggested it...

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.

Hmm...hopefully 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 Allistair half-expected.

I 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.

Is it simply that no one has brought out these feelings before Devin?  Or is his blood truly curing me?  Perhaps both...

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 more...

As it was, he contented himself with lightly kissing Devin’s cheek before turning over and trying to sleep.


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.

He’s warm now, the mage discovered, stunned.  His 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...

I 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.

“Hardly,” Devin muttered, turning away.

“Devin...”  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 was...

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.”

“You’re lying,” 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 A.S.A.P.”

“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 over.


Part 4 Back to the Office Part 6

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.