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.

“Hmm...  Jason – 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 tentatively.

“That would be too much to hope for,” the mage replied sourly.  “We can’t assume that kind of advantage.”

“Precisely.  But 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 against him.

Indeed, the vampire’s face clouded for a moment in distress.  “I...see.”  He cleared his throat and looked at Luciel as the angel held out the gold chain.

“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 willingly share.

“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 past.”

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 amused.

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.

“Yes?”  The 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 ruefully.

“Hmph.”  The mage rummaged around for something to eat while his beverage brewed.  “So how are you feeling after last night?  Any changes?”

“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... completely.”

“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 somewhat defensively.

“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...”

“Hmm.”  The 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.  Go ahead.”

“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 what happened...”

“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 common. 

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 while.

“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 understand...”

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 sickening.

“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 him.

“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.

“Ah...  I’m 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 ambushed me.

“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 way here.”

“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.”

“Hmm.”  Allistair 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 increasingly self-conscious.

“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.


Part 5 Back to the Office Part 7

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!