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February 26, 2024

Strange Bedfellows 42

By Lydia Manx

The unknown dark room was dead quiet. Since we were all vampires nobody was breathing or even talking at first. I know I was pretty exhausted from all of the nonstop running in the past few days but I had to wait for my Master to speak in order to talk. With all the chaos lately Simon didn't need me acting up in front of Harry. Old world vampire rules had been created and never truly revoked -- one of those lovely laws, actually, forbids fledglings to speak before their Master gives them permission. Even though I technically wasn't a true fledgling any longer I knew better than to step out of line. I respected Simon enough to be cautious when he was stressed. Besides, Simon loved the old world rules whenever we were in public, and as he was in a pissy mood with all the crap going on lately, I didn't want to push any of his buttons. The vampire council was already aware that the Southern California territory -- Kenyon's area -- had problems and I didn't want to be lumped in with that mess. My position as enforcer or executioner, depending on who was cursing me, was easily revoked with the rather abrupt slice of a skilled swordsman. Rarely did executioners simply step down or retire -- usually the separation was a bit more final.

Harry had led Simon and me through a long basement corridor from his main house after showing us to a secret closet entrance to the basement. I hadn't realized that La Jolla was able to support a finished basement but then where there was money and skills Harry generally found the way. I'd been impressed since there was a real catacomb with coffins stuffed into the niches lining part of the walls along the way. Once we reached the top of the stairs Harry had brought us through another closet hidden I gathered in the unseen guesthouse. I hadn't even realized that there was such a building on Harry's property. Simon had indicated to me that he knew about the guesthouse but I was figuring out from how he stared at the various treats along the way he perhaps hadn't lingered or even gone through the underground hidden passage when he'd stayed in the guesthouse. But it didn't matter since our staying in the beach house Harry owned was still an unnecessary risk for us with the Arizona vampires running around trying to kill us -- guided by one of Harry's own vampires. Harry had decided to take us to the new digs to hole up for a while. It was after daybreak and traveling would have been a pain.

"You okay, Natasha?" Simon was right behind me and could feel me trembling slightly in the darkness. We all instinctively knew that it was well past dawn outside and add in that I was pretty exhausted, it wasn't surprising that I wasn't exactly myself. Harry had yet to switch on the lights and we hadn't shown up with a flashlight so there was nothing to bounce back and give me a peek of where exactly we were. Vampires had very good night vision but we needed some sort of light to see.

"I am fine, Sire." I wasn't comfortable in the absolute darkness of the guesthouse, but it was still Harry's game not ours. Simon reached out and stroked a finger down my spine. I had missed my Master and found his caress reassuring. My fears weren't abated, but at least I knew I was in this with a strong fighter. Simon was not one to fight but I had heard about his prowess from others. Something in me fluttered at the idea of actually battling with my maker by my side. He sent me out to kill for him. We'd never actually fought next to each other for any stretch of time. Usually Simon sent DB and me on our merry way to fix problems -- not that Damson, my fledgling, was upholding his side of that bargain this time. Simon tended to do the high road with negotiations and treaties. I was more useful in the field, Simon had always assured me. It dawned on me slowly that Harry and I recently had battled together more than Simon and I had in decades. The thought tugged at my center.

Harry said, "Sorry, I was waiting for my security alarm to kick on. It didn't."

Shaking my head, I waited for Simon to ask the obvious.

"Harry, have we been compromised?" Yep, that was my question.

"Possibly." Came the quiet reply.

Great, and me without my sword -- I'd left it on the side table in the living room not figuring I'd need it -- my mistake. Simon's unexpected presence had definitely thrown me off. Harry, also, had left the Civil War sword Renee had given him back at the main house. I did have my personal fall back fangs and claws but I really liked the blade.

There was a scrabbling and a squawk from outside the structure. I figured it for some early morning bird. The fog outside had created an eerie buffer of mist and grayness that I felt to my bones. The bird's light chirping and peeping was echoing oddly and bouncing around the inside of the house. I still had yet to hear any household alarm chirping. There was something off about the guesthouse. I couldn't quite put a finger on it, but I understood Harry's hesitation. We'd already been ambushed once in the past few hours and nobody saw the need to repeat any of that again.

Harry sighed and smacked his hand against the wall closest to me. I probably jumped a foot. He continued swearing and said, "The power lines have been cut."

I didn't ask how he knew but assumed he'd been trying to put a light on for us to see.

"Now what?" Simon asked softly. I could feel him tense behind me. We didn't know this place and fighting in complete dark wasn't ideal. I really wanted to go back for the sword but didn't think it'd go over well if I asked to return to Harry's house.

Harry laughed softly and said, "Now we see if anyone is here."

Goodie, more trauma and drama for us.

I heard some soft shuffling from the other side of the unlit room and then Harry stepped backwards nearly into my arms. My fangs filled my mouth as I prepared to bite and shred anything that wasn't readily identifiable. Simon drew me back in his arms and touched my face softly. I opened up my mind to feel his assurances and something else slammed into me with a solid mental punch.

"Oh, damn it." I bit out. I knew that vamp. He was mine.

I wanted to scream at the hunger clawing at my mind coming from Damson in fiery heated waves. Harry found a match and lit a large pedestal candle with three wicks just inside the room. The illumination confirmed my thoughts. It was my fledgling. He was dumped just inside the doorway. He'd been there at least a few hours maybe even a day or two. His mind was pure hate and starvation. Once my eyes adjusted to the limited light I could see he'd been staked into the floorboards about a foot inside the doorway. He was bones and black char from exposure to sunlight and probably a blowtorch. At least his mind was filled with staggered memories of flames and scorched white skin. But with DB it could have been something he'd done to another. I didn't bother to delve too deep.

The stakes had pinned both of his hands flat, palms up, by his sides and his legs were immobilized with two large stakes through the meaty part of his thighs but what really caused us all to slow down was the four stakes pinning his chest to the floor. Who ever had put him for us to find had taken the time to miss DB's heart leaving him to slowly leak out his blood. From his mind I knew he was nearly dead -- true death. Part of me was so detached by the sight of my vampire helpless I was somewhat stunned. From how I felt when away from Simon I knew how strong our vampiric blood bond was. DB and I never had that sort of awareness. It was a decade after I made him that I figured out something was broken between us. I never had a sexual relationship with him -- which wasn't uncommon between Master-Fledgling bonds to be further strengthened by a sexual element at the least -- DB and I never wanted that. Or at least I didn't because he was deviant in his tastes and preferred to kill his mates or at least torture them within inches of their life. He had been a sadistic psychopath when I met him and time had not improved his temperament.

DB hadn't drunk any blood in two full nights, at least, and it didn't help any that his starving was making him crazier than usual. His normally pale thin body was even gaunter than I'd ever seen it. The blackened skin was odd to me because he'd always been so damn white. His eyes were still light brown but his normal black shadows were more pronounced because his pupils were blown wide open with the pain. He was not enjoying the pain in the least. His mind was nearly gone. His thought processes were beyond feral. He was like a trapped animal.

Mechanically I dropped to his side to check on him. It wasn't from a sense of caring, much less desire, but the helplessness of his situation. Automatically I ran my fingers over his original bite. The bite I'd given him when I turned him was just below the left side of his collarbone. The texture of his skin reminded me of the black neoprene wet suit material surfers and scuba divers used. This was scarier since it was actually skin not a removable suit.

"My child, I don't think he has long." Simon offered.

"I know." I thought I would be feeling some emotion seeing DB so helpless and in pain.

It was peculiar but truthfully I wasn't feeling anything. I looked at his thin white lips and saw his needle-thin, razor sharp fangs had been broken. They were snapped off nearly at the gum line. Since he hadn't been given any blood there was no way for him to heal. I didn't feel any need to slice open my vein and let him suckle from me like a toothless child. I knew in Damson's current state he wouldn't stop unless physically detached. Simon wasn't making any effort to sustain the vampire and didn't tell me that I had to rescue him either. Harry was standing back watching us while tapping out text messages on his cell phone.

Simon watched with a slight smile on his lips. He knew that I had been having troubles with DB and was waiting to see what my solution to the vampire's pain would be. Truth be told for Damson's past few transgressions slow death would suit me fine. But there was something more at work. I needed to know how he'd been dumped here and by which set of vampires.

"DB," I hissed, "can you hear me?"

He moaned and groaned something. I knew better than getting too close to his lips. His bite was lightning fast and I wasn't going to involuntarily donate to his survival.

Thankfully his mumbling cleared up and I heard him perfectly when he said, "Fuck you, Natasha! I hate you. I want you dead."

It didn't add anything to the information we needed but hearing his poison made me feel better. It cleared up what little doubts I had and made what we needed to do all the sweeter. Simon saw my smile and said, "Easy, my child. We need answers first."

Oh, I loved getting permission.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2010-06-14
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