Deprivation, Part 8.

Allistair walked quietly with Devin all the way back to the cottage, staying one step behind the mage.  The confrontation with Jason had not gone as he had expected, but he was still glad that the older vampire had been slain.  He felt a slight twinge of wistful, what-might-have-been pain, but his more sensible side knew that Jason had never really loved him, and never would have.  After all, his parting shot had been towards Devin, not Allistair.  It seemed, after all was said and done, that Jason had just considered him another possession, a toy to be played with so long as it provided amusement.  Even at the end, the man had probably derived a great deal of pleasure from filling Allistair’s head with doubts about any chance for a relationship with Devin...  Not that Allistair himself hadn’t thought of those same issues at some subconscious level, but... he was going to be cured!  There wasn’t going to be any temptation to feed on Devin, and no reason to try to extend the mage’s life... didn’t sorcerers live a long time anyway?...

The vampire shook his head; no use dwelling on that now, before his cure had been completely accomplished.  Jason was gone now, and he was truly free.  But he had made a severe tactical error in the fight; after he had awoken in Devin’s empty house (and damn the mage for putting him to sleep in the first place – didn’t he have the right to face his torturer?), he had turned to wolf-shape to track Devin to the battle site.  As soon as he had seen Jason about to feed on the helpless mage, he had been overcome with a rage the likes of which he had never felt before.  He had launched himself at Jason, his wolfish instincts and anger overriding his conscious thought and urging him to strike at the throat.

Well, strike he did.  While he was a wolf, this posed no particular problem, but when Jason’s attacks forced him to return to human shape, he was still biting the older vampire...

After the first searing taste of the powerful dark blood, he could not make himself stop drinking.  Even as he felt the liquid fighting against all of the changes Devin’s equally enchanted blood had wrought, he could not pull away.  If the young mage’s blood was a strong, heady liquor, then Jason’s was an intoxicating sweet that was impossible to resist, like the richest Continental chocolate.  It flooded his senses for what seemed like an eternity, and he didn’t care if it undid every bit of good Devin’s blood had done...

But then Devin had called to him, and the sound of the mage’s voice had brought him back to himself... in a matter of speaking.  Now that he looked back on what he had said and done to Jason, he was a bit horrified.  Maybe it had been the dark blood influencing him... but he rather doubted it.  No, it was just all of the repressed hatred and pain that Jason had instilled in him, finally rising to the surface.

He hoped that he hadn’t completely repelled Devin with his behavior.  Their... friendship?  Relationship?  What?... was tentative enough already...

And what in god’s name had Jason’s blood really done to him?  Had it erased all of the positive effects of the Faerie blood?  Certainly his strength and speed felt greater, but he did not feel any thirst at the moment...  Perhaps he was simply sated, or perhaps his remaining vampiric traits had been strengthened without reviving those that had been negated...  It was definitely something to discuss with Devin.

But not tonight.  They were both exhausted, and it seemed that having to kill Jason had affected the young mage more than he had expected.    He had not said a word since they had left the little clearing, and now the cottage was only a few steps away.

Still in silence, Devin listlessly pushed the door open and entered, his small ball of mage light disappearing like the flame of a snuffed candle.  Allistair entered on his heels, closing the door quietly behind him, then turned to meet Devin’s curiously dimmed blue gaze.

“Devin...?” the vampire said tentatively.  “Are you all right...?”

“I...”  Devin closed his eyes slowly, as if with great effort.  He seemed to be shaking slightly; concerned, Allistair moved closer, gently taking hold of the younger man’s shoulders.

“Don’t touch me,” the mage said automatically, but he made no move to push Allistair away.

“Devin... don’t let his talk get to you – exterminating a beast like him isn’t –” Allistair began, guessing at the source of this seeming apathy.

“Isn’t murder?”  Devin’s voice was sharp as he opened his eyes and glared up at the slightly taller man.  “Isn’t... wasn’t... he a sentient creature?  Regardless of whatever kind of... disease... he had...”

“Is that how you think of it, Devin?  As a disease?  We’ve already died once; you can’t kill something already dead...”

“Is that supposed to make me feel better?” the mage asked caustically.  “’Oh, I didn’t really kill him, I just struck his soul from his reanimated corpse.’”

”But if you had not, he would likely have killed you, or Turned you...  And not only would he go on to kill others, he would make you do so, as well,” Allistair said sadly, wondering if it was futile to try to reason with the distraught mage.

“Ah, of course... self-defense... always a viable excuse for murder,” Devin said bitterly.  He pulled away from Allistair and walked off to his room in the darkness.

The vampire paused before following; would Devin want to talk this out?  Most people felt somewhat better after sharing their burdens with someone, but the mage seemed, as always, reluctant to make an issue of his feelings.  Allistair was no student of psychology, but that kind of repression had to be unhealthy...

I have to at least try to draw Devin out of his shell, he decided.  The man already trusted him to some degree... now if he could just coax him to admit his feelings...

He entered the small bedroom as Devin was pulling off his torn shirt, his back towards the door.  Allistair couldn’t quite withhold a gasp of dismay at the array of pale scars on the mage’s back and arms.  What exactly did he do while he wasn’t on holiday?

Devin looked back at the vampire over his shoulder and snorted quietly.  “Not as pristine as you were expecting?”

“I... wasn’t expecting anything,” Allistair said defensively.  He came closer, gently tracing one nasty-looking gash across Devin’s left shoulder blade with one finger.  “But... wouldn’t magical healing remove any trace of scarring?”

The mage shuddered slightly, but again, did not pull away.  “I wanted... a record, I guess, of what’s been done to me.  Call it my accounting system,” he said with a little smirk.

“Ah... so you can make sure to pay back what you owe, hmm?” Allistair guessed, not realizing that Devin had had that kind of vindictive streak.

“Something like that,” Devin agreed.  He sighed silently; Allistair felt his back rise and fall with the exhalation.

“Are you going to be all right...?” the vampire asked quietly, more than a little worried.  Devin was never this... unresponsive.  He would almost welcome a sharp word or a bit of a shove, if it would demonstrate that Devin had not been scarred by having to kill someone...

“What would you do if I said ‘no’, for god’s sake?” the mage said with a hint of his usual dark humor.  He didn’t seem to expect an answer, but Allistair gave him one anyway.

“I’d try to help, if I could...  You’ve gone through so much for me, Devin, and I know I haven’t made your life any easier by... by falling for you, but...”  He shrugged helplessly, even though the mage couldn’t see the gesture.

”Help me if you could, huh?”  Devin slowly turned to face Allistair, his expression unreadable.

“If I could,” the vampire agreed.  “And if you’d let me...”  He raised a hand to Devin’s bare shoulder, gently trailing his fingers along to his neck.

Devin’s eyes met Allistair’s with an unusual intensity, and he made no attempt to avoid the taller man’s caress.  Despite the mage’s seeming stillness, Allistair could feel his pulse drumming rapidly beneath his fingers.

“Distract me,” Devin said lowly, still staring at Allistair unnervingly.

“Wh-what?” the vampire stammered, not quite believing his ears.

“Distract me!” the mage repeated vehemently, raising his arms as if to grab a hold of Allistair, but stopping himself at the last moment.  “I don’t... I don’t want to think – ”

In the back of his mind, Allistair knew that this wasn’t, perhaps, the best set of circumstances, but... when else would Devin ever let him get so close?  Still, his conscience prompted him to ask, in a nervous whisper, “Are you sure you want this, Devin...?”

“No,” the mage said with a small, ghostly smile, “but... I trust you...”  He stiffened slightly in apprehension as Allistair drew him closer and kissed him gently.

“You really must relax,” the taller man said worriedly, running his hands down Devin’s back.  He could feel the muscles there knotted in tension.

“I can’t,” Devin said with a little moan of unhappiness as the vampire began to knead his back.

 Allistair had expected as much, really; whatever had happened to Devin in the past – he suspected some sort of violent abuse – had left the mage virtually terrified of physical intimacy, it seemed.

Well, Devin trusted him – and those words had made Allistair’s heart leap – and now it was time to repay all of the favors and kindnesses the young man had done him.  He would thaw that fear-frozen heart, he swore to himself.  It was something that the mage desperately needed.

Of course, Devin could still reject him sharply as he had before – but if he was admitting his faith in Allistair, then that didn’t seem highly likely...

”If you can’t, then let your guard down and let me help you,” the vampire pleaded softly, gazing into Devin’s stormy-sky eyes with just a touch of his hypnotic power.  He wouldn’t need to use its full strength, not for this...

Devin was looking up at him with a faint hint of fear, visibly trying to calm himself and open up to Allistair’s mesmeric stare.  “A-Allistair,” he began, sounding as if he wanted to ask a question.

“Yes...?” the pale man encouraged him, bringing his hands up to delicately cup the mage’s face.

“I...”  Devin’s eyes, then his body, gradually began to relax.  He didn’t seem able to quite say whatever was on his mind, perhaps because it was beginning to feel more and more unimportant.  Whatever it was, it didn’t really matter to Allistair.  Finally, he had the young mage here on his terms... relaxed, and without whatever fear-induced inhibitions haunted him...

“Shh, don’t fret,” the vampire murmured.  “Tell me when to stop, and I will...”  Judging Devin to be sufficiently calmed, he kissed the young man again, this time deeply, and was pleasantly surprised when he responded by hesitantly sliding his arms around Allistair.

Yes, Allistair promised silently, I can make you whole again, if you only let me...


Part 7 Back to the Office Part 9

Whee, short Allistair chapter.  Man, even when I'm writing from his POV, I don't show a lot of his thoughts.. I guess I'm just not used to him as the "lead" character, heh!  Anyways, I realize Devin is acting kinda weird here... I may come back and fix it at some later point, but right now, I just can't get my head around it. O_o

Has anyone noticed that Devin never makes any fuss about seeing Allistair's fangs...? ;)  They're not very well-developed, since he's young, hehe.

Hmm, I think I can see the homestretch from here! ;D