He raised his head from the cat, wiping his lips of the feline blood and then licking every drop off his hands. It was enough to sate for now, which was all he asked was for the hunger to ease. Never again, he reiterated his promise to himself. Never again would he drink the blood of what was once his own kind.
Others had tried the path he now walked, he knew. Others had failed.
He was determined to beat the odds.
Not that he wanted to be human oh no, he never wanted to rejoin that miserable life he just was so sick of killing them. After hundreds of years, he had gained something his kind was notorious for lacking
He had gained a conscience.
So when he walked out of the alley, blending in with the other people walking on the street, it was impossible to tell what he was. He seemed like just another twenty-something young man out for a stroll.
"Davy!" came a shout from a few paces ahead of him. He ignored it, it wasn't for him. But to his shock, a young blond man came racing right up to him, and took his arm. "Here you are! Man, we've been looking all over for you..."
He opened his mouth obviously the child had made a mistake. But something in the boy's manner the earnestness, the complete innocence stole away the words that came to his throat. Instead, he said softly, "Well, it would appear I have been found."
The blond boy laughed and slid an arm around his shoulders, despite the fact he was a good six or seven inches taller than him. "Your voice sounds a little rough, are you feeling all right?"
"Yeah, slightly deeper and your accent's shifted a little."
He cleared his throat. "Well, perhaps I am taking a slight chill...."
"I knew it. Come on; let's get you back to the Pad the party's about to start!"
He allowed himself to be led, amused by the entire situation. This "Davy" fellow was obviously this boy's friend, and was obviously loved as a dear friend. The image that came to mind of the boy's face when the truth of his identity was revealed was priceless and the hope that it happened was the main reason the mischievous man fell easily into step and allowed himself to be led to the Pad'.
By the time he and the blond got to the Pad, the party was in full swing. Teenage and twenty-something boys and girls were dancing to the loud music coming from the jukebox. He saw a wooden man sitting in a corner and smiled a closed-mouth smile in its direction.
"Well it's about time!" a voice with a distinct Southern twang rang out. He raised his eyes to see a person almost a foot taller than himself glaring down at him. "I see you located him."
"Sure did, Mike," the blond said with a smile.
Mike nodded, adjusting the green hat on his head. "Well then, Peter, you and Davy go get some punch and join us on the bandstand in about ten minutes. We've a party to entertain!"
Peter smiled and tugged on his elbow again. "Come on," he said.
He stayed still, alarmed at what he'd heard. His last experience playing music had been in Queen Victoria's court he wasn't ready to play the songs that were popular with this crowd, and he certainly did not know the songs this particular group had in their list... of that much he was certain.
"Davy, come on ..." Peter said, tugging his elbow again and finally leading him to the punch bowl.
He looked at the punch and felt alarmed again. It was red....red as blood. He dipped an experimental finger in and tasted it. It had the unmistakable tang of fruit punch. He smiled closed-mouthed again, relieved and at the same time oddly disappointed. If it had been blood then at least one of his own kind may have been among this bunch.
What was that? he chided himself. Loneliness?
He lingered by the punchbowl, keenly aware that the allotted time was nearly up and he would have to explain who he was....
When a curly-haired man, a little shorter than the Southerner, burst into the glass doors beside the bandstand. "Mike!" he screeched. "Mike...on the beach...Davy! Hurt!"
Mike's eyes swung to the refreshment table, where Peter and the other man had frozen, hearing the cry. "Micky....Davy's right here."
The curly-haired boy's eyes widened at seeing him, but he shook his head. "I just came back...Davy's on the beach .... and he's hurt!"
Mike bolted for the door Micky had raced through, and Micky ran behind him. Peter threw down his punch and followed them.
He stood there for a second, debating.... then curiosity won out and he ran after the three boys.
When he caught up with the three bending over the prone form on the beach, he pulled up short in surprise.
The boy lying there bore his face and form.
"I see why you mistook me for him," he whispered to Peter.
"What happened?" Mike asked Micky.
Micky shook his head. "I...I'm not really sure! We were surfing... He paddled out... Then he screeched in pain and went under! I pulled him out, but his arm was already swelling...."
He looked at his double's arm. Yes, it was swelling. Rapidly. Moving to kneel beside Mike, he lifted Davy's hand and turned it over.
He then looked up at Davy's three friends. "He's been stung by a jellyfish. By the most toxic one, judging by the reaction. He needs medical help immediately."
"I'll call an ambulance," Micky said, gaining his feet and racing toward the Pad.
"The party," Mike gasped. "I'll go break up the party..." And he was gone.
Peter fell down beside Davy. "Hang on, Dave; the doctors'll fix you up...."
"There's not enough time for the ambulance," he said in a hushed tone. He raised his eyes to meet Peter's. "The venom has got to be drained now."
Peter's eyes grew wide. "I left my pocketknife in the Pad..."
"No time..." he whispered. He met Peter's eyes again. "You must not tell anybody what you're about to see, do you understand me? anybody not even them."
Confused, Peter nodded.
He nodded as well, and then looked at the injured young man. Licking his lips, he lifted the hot, swollen arm and located the fragile arteries in the wrist.
Then with a hiss, he let his fangs fall forward and he plunged them into Davy's wrist.
Peter recoiled, eyes huge in surprise, realization and horrified shock.
He sucked and spit till he had extracted all of the poison still in his double's bloodstream. When he tasted the familiar tang of blood, he withdrew. Holding the small amount of blood in his mouth, he lowered Davy's wrist and stood, walking to the shoreline and kneeling. Spitting out the blood, he cupped a double handful of the salty water and swished out his mouth, spitting it out as well. *Never again...*
When he returned, Peter had taken his handkerchief and was trying to staunch the blood flow. "Let him bleed," he told the blond. "It will stop in a few moments on its own, but it will cleanse the wound."
Peter raised horrified eyes to him. "You're.... a....."
"Yes. I am."
"So you're going to ...."
"No." He knelt beside Peter. "I've sworn never again to drink human blood. When I tasted him, I stopped. Never again."
Peter opened his mouth to ask something else, but the wail of the sirens interrupted him.
He laid a gentle hand on Peter's shoulder. "I'll answer all of your questions later. I promise ... and I haven't broken a promise in nearly five hundred years. I'm not about to start now."
Mike and Micky paced restlessly in the hospital waiting room. Peter sat beside the vampyre, and after some hesitation, covered the small man's cool hand with his own much warmer one.
Startled, he raised huge brown eyes to meet Peter's warm tawny ones astonished as to what he saw in those depths. Leaning over, he whispered, "You know what I am and you are not afraid? You... accept me?"
Peter smiled and nodded. "You saved Davy's life because of what you are," he whispered back. "And you told me you won't hurt us." He shrugged. "And I trust you."
He blinked at the blond man. "You are more than you appear as well, Peter."
Peter opened his mouth to answer, but was interrupted by Mike's bellow. "What the hell were you doin', surfin' at night?"
Micky flinched. "We... we just thought it would be fun..."
"Yeah, well, Davy's lyin' in that bed cause of you thinkin'! No cause you weren't thinkin'!"
"That is enough!" the vampyre cried, standing up. "He is alive! Placing blame will help no one!"
Mike didn't say a word. He just whirled and stormed to a chair, flopping down into it as fury steamed from every pore. Micky sighed and moved to the window, gazing out of it.
Peter laid a hand on the vampyre's shoulder. "Mike's just that way," he said gently. "He's like a dad to us and when one of us is hurt..."
"It cuts him to the quick," the smaller man nodded. "That I understand." He sighed. "I had a son once."
"Where is he now?" Peter whispered.
"He's dead," he said in a voice filled with sadness. "I killed him. Centuries ago."
Peter's eyes went round with surprise. "You ki"
"I made him like me. He was my partner, my helper. He died three hundred years ago at the hands of one of my enemies. If he wasnt as I, he wouldnt have died. I killed him as surely as if Id wielded the stake myself." The brown eyes closed. "You would think after centuries the pain would ease."
"He was your son, Peter said in a suddenly knowing voice. That particular pain never eases."
He gaped at the blond. "You are not even thirty! How could you "
"Yeah, I'm young," Peter said. "But I've made mistakes. I lost a son and his mother all in one day." He frowned. "I dulled the pain chemically for years... Then I fought my way out of that hell." He looked at the vampyre, and suddenly he seemed years older. "I'll never go back there again." He sighed, and the innocence was suddenly back in his eyes as he smiled. "This is the only way I can deal right now."
The smaller man blinked at him. "The loss of a son the same reason I swore never again to drink human blood... You do understand." He laid a hand on Peter's shoulder. "We may have been born centuries and seas apart, but we are more alike than perhaps either of us realise."
Suddenly, Mike lurched to his feet and Micky turned from the window. Peter and the vampyre turned to face the doctor who had just emerged from the emergency room. He smiled at them. "For David Jones?" At their collective nod, his smile grew. "Whoever drew the poison out did a good job. Enough was evacuated from his system so that his life is no longer in danger."
Peter smiled at the vampyre, who returned it closed-mouthed.
"He will be released tomorrow afternoon," the doctor said. "Then bring him back here every three days for therapy."
"Therapy?" the four gasped as one.
"Yes. The venom has weakened the muscles in his right hand. He's not paralyzed, but he needs therapy to get the muscles strong again. I'm estimating two weeks to a month." He frowned. "You said a jellyfish stung him?"
"Yes...." Micky said.
He frowned deeper. "The marks on his wrist twin punctures, almost like a snake bite!"
He shivered again. Odd... cold didn't bother his kind, and it was early October... why would he have this strange chill...
The brown eyes glowed red for a second and he hissed, letting his fangs drop in his anger. He was being watched!
"Bit early for Halloween, ain't it? Mike asked, emerging from the downstairs bedroom where they'd ensconced the sleeping Davy for the night.
He glared at the tall man, retracting the fangs. "Aye... it is."
Mike cocked an eyebrow. "Hey... those are real, aren't they?" he asked. At his nod, the Texan smiled. "Figured as much, the way you pulled the venom from Davy... the way you vanished when the sun came up... Why'd you come back? Why'd you help us?"
"I came back to check on my double. As for helping you.... That, I don't know myself. There is just something about the blond... His soul seems to cry for help..." He refrained from mentioning Peter's secret, feeling certain when the time was right, Peter would tell them himself.
Mike sighed. "That it does. So... you're not a hideous bloodsucker out to kill us all?"
He smiled. "A bloodsucker, yes. Hideous would depend upon whom you speak with. And no, I've no intention of killing any of you. You are not my enemies."
"Well, that's good to know..."
"You are not afraid either."
Mike gave a small smile as he shook his head. "Just as long as you're not here to hurt us... no, I've no reason to be."
He smiled and nodded at the taller man. "You're wise, Mike. Peter fears me not as well."
As if on cue, Peter emerged from the bedroom. "He's asleep. Finally." Seeing their guest, he smiled. "Hi."
"Hello," the vampyre said.
"When did you get here?"
"Just a few moments ago. And thanks to my foolish temper, Mike knows what I am as well."
Peter cast a worried glance at Mike, who nodded. "It's cool, Pete. I'm not afraid of him."
The dimpled grin burst over Peter's face. "That's a relief. I want all my friends to get al hey, what's the matter?"
The vampyre's eyes had glowed again. A frown darkening his features, he spat, "We're being observed."
"Micky, probably," Mike said evenly. "He's got a habit of playin' peepin' Tom..."
He shook his head, hissing, "No! This is... something I've felt before... something..."
Mike's face went expressionless as he looked around. "Somethin' bad?"
The vampyre nodded, and Peter suddenly frowned and shivered. "It's colder, Michael..."
"He's right," Micky said from the top of the stairs. "It is colder."
Mike nodded. "I feel it too... Okay... uhm... what is your name?"
The vampyre smiled tightly and opened his mouth
And the Pad shook with an explosion. So hard was it, and so unexpected, that Micky pitched over the railing. The vampyre went airborne and caught him easily, setting him down like he weighed nothing.
Micky's almond eyes were huge. His mouth worked, but no sound emerged.
"We'll explain later," Mike said curtly, moving toward the downstairs bedroom.
"Don't worry," Peter said. "He's a friend."
"Thanks," Micky said softly. "I'd sure hate for you to be an enemy!"
The vampyre allowed his fangs to lower as he smiled tightly once more. "Truer words were never spoken."
Micky's face went ash-pale as he stared at the fangs.
"Davy!" Mike bellowed suddenly, sending the three racing into the bedroom.
They found the window blown inward. Mike was staring at Davy's empty bed. There were signs of a brief struggle, and blood on Davy's bed... along with an ornamental dagger. Small letters were written on the bed in blood.
"MacLaren is ours"
The vampyre hissed as he snatched up the dagger. "I knew it!"
"Knew what?" Mike asked.
"Where's Davy?" Peter asked.
"Who's MacLaren?" Micky gasped.
"My enemies have Davy," the vampyre said. "This is their emblem." And he flung the dagger into Davy's pillow.
"But who is MacLaren?" Mike asked.
The vampyre's eyes glowed as he scowled. "I am."
Continue to Part Two